The sun had just risen over the horizon when it began to fill the room with shimmering golden water. Light danced off the walls through the thin curtains of the large windows and peeked in through the drawn curtains of the four poster bed at the end of the room. As the light hit the eyes of the person occupying the lavish bed, he began to groan and mumbled before finally blinking away and shielding his blood red eyes with his hand.
Frowning, he turned away from the light and curled against the cover in defiance. The sunlight was telling him to get up, but his still heavy eyelids said that they wanted him to go back to sleep. The comfort of the bed made his decision for him, that is, until there was a knock at the door.
"Master Prussia?" a young woman's voice called. "It is time to wake up. The meeting starts in an hour." Prussia, also known by his human name as Gilbert Beilschmidt, let out a loud groan and mumbled in response and the maid sighed. "Please, Master Prussia? The courts will get angry if you miss yet another meeting. And you promised King Frederick you would go."
That he did. Gilbert had promised Ol' Fritz that he would attend the next meeting for sure. So, he couldn't very well just skip out again. As much as he hated the old guys on the court, Fritz was his best friend and mentor and he didn't want to disappoint him.
So, Gilbert decided that he had to get up and mumbled a "fine" to the maid at the door who took this for an answer and left to go downstairs. Gilbert laid around for another few minutes, but finally got up and started to get dressed in the stuffy tight clothes he so hated. When he was finished changing, he looked in the mirror and decided that he looked ridiculously stupid and went downstairs.
Something appeared to be missing as he entered the kitchen to find the cook about to make breakfast. "Ah, Master Prussia. What would you like to eat this morning?" the man asked with a smile and Gilbert shook his head.
"Nothing. I'm too awesome for breakfast this morning, so I'm just gonna have an apple or something." The cook frowned and clicked his tongue, but said nothing. It was his job to cook, not preach about nutrition to someone who probably didn't care anyway.
Gilbert grabbed an apple and took a bite as he looked around the room. Something was missing, something important. Suddenly, it hit him. "Hey, where's Luddy?" he asked, turning to face the cook.
"Your brother?" he asked. "He hasn't been downstairs yet this morning." Gilbert looked at the man in confusion, raising his eyebrows. "I'm serious."
"Luddy hasn't been downstairs?" Gilbert asked. "You do realize he's always downstairs at the crack of dawn, right?" The cook nodded and shrugged. Gilbert was confused. His younger brother, Ludwig, was always downstairs before he was. Ludwig, for whatever reason, loved getting up early. He also liked cleaning and reading. There was no doubt he was a strange kid, but Gilbert liked that about him. He was different and that was pretty awesome. This, however, was not.
But Gilbert didn't have time to run around searching for his brother. The meeting was going to start in a half hour and he had to be at the meeting hall by then. He finished his apple up and threw the core away before grabbing his coat and scarf. The weather had begun to get chillier as the winter months set in and he had to be careful that the maids were making the fires big enough and that everyone was keeping healthy. He was responsible for the household and everyone who lived and worked inside it, even if he did try to run away from his responsibilities often.
"I'll be home in two hours, trust me," Gilbert said with a sigh to a maid who was helping him get his coat on. "These damn meetings are too long. I'm jumping out the window before it gets to two hours."
"Yes, Master Prussia." She said with a small chuckle.
"And… If you see Ludwig... Well, just make sure you see him." The albino said as he buttoned his coat and turned to her. "He hasn't been downstairs all day, so just make sure he's okay."
"Yes, Master Prussia," she said and he smiled a bit at her before he walked out the door.
The meeting was every bit as boring as he had expected it to be. He laid back in his chair with a groan while the old guys went on and on about politics and economies and whatever the hell people talked about at these stupid meetings. Suddenly, a small piece of paper landed on Gilbert's lap and he blinked, looking down at it. On the paper was a crudely drawn picture of the man running the meeting with an exaggerated nose and mouth along with devil horns and a tail. The albino looked to his right and found Fritz smirking at him. He had to hold in a chuckle as he added onto the picture and the two began to pass it back and forth to pass the time.
Suddenly, the door opened and a young woman who worked at the meeting hall entered with a small note. "Mister Prussia, one of your servants is here. She says it's urgent and you must leave immediately." Everyone's eyes turned to Gilbert who was looking at the woman in confusion, but he stood up and exited without another word. Something was wrong, he could tell. The bad feeling in his gut even prevented him from being happy that he left the meeting early.
"Yeah?" He asked as he was lead to where the maid he had spoken to before he left stood, worry etched in her face.
"Master, Ludwig is very ill." She said. "He is burning up with a fever and is shaking all over. We need your permission to call for the doctor and we need you to come home and be with him, if you can. He hasn't woken up much since the fever really set in, but he's been asking for you unconsciously."
Though he was an albino and his face was already rather pale, Gilbert's face took on another shade of white. Ludwig was sick. Very sick. How the hell was he supposed to handle this? He didn't know a damn thing about sick people, never mind sick kids.
"Yes, go. Send for the doctor. I'm gonna excuse myself from the meeting and head home, okay? I'll be back in a half hour, no less." He said with a surprisingly serious tone. The maid nodded and scurried away while Gilbert ran back into the hall, grabbing his paper and things. "I have to go," he said quickly as he grabbed his coat. "This meeting was freaking boring anyway." He turned to leave and as he did so, Fritz was able to catch a look not of rebellion, but of pure worry on Gilbert's face.
Gilbert ran out the doors of the meeting hall and jumped onto his horse after untying him. "Go!" he shouted at the steed and the animal ran off.
The whole ride home, Gilbert was lost in worrying thought. He was worried about Ludwig, about whether or not the boy was okay. Yes, Ludwig had been sick before. When Gilbert had first found the boy, he was sick and injured, but he got better quickly. The wounds needed a week or so to heal and the fever went away after two or three days. But now, he had no idea how well Ludwig was doing. He hadn't seen him at all that day and his condition could be much worse than what the maid explained it to be.
Finally, Gilbert got home and jumped off the horse, quickly shouting to the stable boy to put him in his stall. He burst through the door, making most of the staff jump in surprise. "Where is he?" Gilbert asked, looking around wildly.
"Master, he is asleep in his room," a quiet young maid said. "Let me take your—"
But Gilbert didn't let her finish. He ran upstairs, throwing off his coat and dumping his things on the ground as he went. He reached Ludwig's room and took a breath. He had to calm himself or else he would become even more stressed and Ludwig would get even more scared and that would be so not awesome.
Carefully, Gilbert entered the slightly darkened room. The blinds had been pulled shut so the sunlight wouldn't bother the sick child in the bed at the end of the room. Gilbert could just barely make out a small mop of golden blonde hair resting on the fluffy white pillows. A maid sat in a chair next to the bed and looked up when Gilbert entered. She stood and went to him.
"He just fell back asleep a few minutes ago," she reported. "He hasn't asked for anyone except you, sir, and the doctor is on his way." Gilbert nodded and passed the maid as she left the room and he took the chair by the bed.
Ludwig's face was flushed red and his breathing was harsh and labored. His eyes were squeezed shut in pain as beads of sweat formed at the top of his forehead, though he shook as though he were cold. Gently, Gilbert took Ludwig's tiny hand and held it. "I'm here, little guy," he whispered in an unusually soft voice. "I'm here and no unawesome cold is gonna hurt you anymore." Maybe it was just a trick of the light, or maybe Gilbert was just being too hopeful, but he could have sworn he saw the child's face relax just a little bit.
About fifteen minutes went by until there was a knock at the bedroom door. Gilbert looked up in confusion as a maid walked in. "I am very sorry to disturb you, Master Prussia, but you have a visitor."
"Is it the doctor?" Gilbert asked, standing up and heading to the door. Before the maid could even respond, Fritz walked in.
"Ah, I'm glad you got home safely. One of you servants clued me in on what's going on. Is your brother okay?" the man asked. Gilbert looked at him surprised. He was in no way expecting Fritz to come.
"Y-yeah! Of course!" He said cockily. "Just a cold, nothing the awesome me can't handle!" However, Fritz noticed the apprehension in Gilbert's face and frowned a bit.
"Are you sure you're doing alright?" he asked. "Little Ludwig has not been ill since you found him." Gilbert paused and nodded, looking away a bit. "Gilbert, if it's something you can't handle, I can help you. We're friends, are we not? And Ludwig is important to me as a friend and as your little brother."
"But the thing is I don't know how to be a brother!" Gilbert burst out. Fritz looked at him in confusion. "I mean, yeah, I read him bed time stories and we go on walks and I taught him how to ride a horse and all the shit, but I have no fucking clue how to take care of him with him so sick now and I'm completely lost and we've sent for a doctor but he's not here yet and what if he doesn't come on time and—"
Fritz placed a hand on Gilbert's shoulder. "Friend, please. You are stressing yourself out far too much. From what it sounds like, it's just a small cold."
"But I've never had to deal with a small cold before!" Gilbert said panicked.
"And now you are learning." Fritz said and opened his mouth to say more, but a small noise from the bed interrupted him.
"B-Brother?" Gilbert snapped away from Fritz and went to the bed, plopping down and taking Ludwig's hand. Fritz smiled a bit at the concern in Gilbert's face.
"Yeah, kiddo? Hey, I'm here, okay? I bet you feel so not awesome, but I'm here and I'm awesome, so I'll share some of my awesomeness with you, okay?" Ludwig looked at him in confusion and nodded, looking at Gilbert with feverish eyes.
"My head hurts," he said in a raspy voice. "And my voice. A-And I'm cold and I feel yucky."
Gilbert didn't know what to say to that. He wanted a way to make the bad feelings disappear and to help Ludwig get better, but he had no idea what to do. "W-Well, it'll be fine soon, kiddo. So, chin up and rest. The doc will be here soon."
"I'm tired," Ludwig complained, as though he didn't hear a word Gilbert just said. The albino sighed.
"I don't want to."
Ludwig paused. "Because I don't wanna be alone…"
Gilbert looked at him for a moment. Normally, Ludwig was the type of kid who was okay with being by himself for some periods of time, but now he wanted Gilbert with him at all times. It must be the illness making him seem even more defenseless and Gilbert couldn't dream of refusing one of Ludwig's requests.
"Then your awesome bro will stay here, okay? You're not gonna be alone." Ludwig looked like he wanted to question this, but he was too tired. All he could do was nod, believing his brother and closing his eyes. Within a matter of minutes, he was asleep once more.
Gilbert let out a long sigh and groaned. Fritz looked at his friend sympathetically and came over, placing his hand on Gilbert's shoulder.
"You're doing well," he said. "At least, you're handling it well. It looks like Ludwig will be fine, he just needs some rest."
"And what if he's not fine?" Gilbert mumbled, not looking up.
"Come, now. It's only a small cold."
"Small colds can turn into big-ass flus and you know it!" Gilbert protested. Fritz clicked his tongue.
"You're being overprotective and far too worried for your own good."
"He's my brother!" Silence fell at those words until Fritz smiled a bit. Normally, he wouldn't like seeing the nation so worked up and stressed, but he was proud of him.
"You're really worried, aren't you?" Gilbert looked up at him and glared.
"No shit!" Fritz put a finger to his lips and gestured to the sleeping boy.
"You've grown, Gilbert. When we first met, you seemed to be just a little punk who skipped out on meetings and screwed around with the members of the court," Fritz said. "Now it seems that you have taken on responsibility and I am proud of you for that." Gilbert opened his mouth to say something, but Fritz held up his hand. "Ah, now let me speak. Ever since you found Ludwig alone in the woods, you've taken to him and he has changed you. Instead of only looking out for yourself, you've been looking out for him now as well and your conduct in the courts and meetings has improved greatly. Not only that, but you could have sent Ludwig anywhere. You could have had him raised by nurses or nannies or an ordinary citizen. But you didn't. You took him in yourself and you have taught him many things. You are a great older brother, Gilbert."
Gilbert looked at him in confusion and then with a sort of humble expression. He was happy that his mentor and friend thought so highly of him. "W-Woah… Wow, thanks…" he said in a quiet voice. "You think so? I mean, I know I'm awesome. But I've never taken care of kids before."
"You don't need to have experience with children, Gilbert. You just need to have an open heart."
The albino paused and looked at the older man with a sense of awe. Finally, he smiled and nodded. "And I have the most awesome heart ever!" Fritz chuckled.
"You do, my friend, you do."
Hello ^^ I just thought I'd post my Secret Santa Fic up on Fan Fiction for the heck of it 3 I hope you enjoy!