For a 'oneshot' this took far too long... and is too long :') one fifth of the length of my on going one at the moment. Dear god...

Anyway this is a gift fic for Silan Haye who was the 50th reviewer for my mafia/hetalia story :D (check my page if you fancy reading it :D)
I was given the prompt that Antonio/Spain would be a ghost and Lovino/Romano would be really sick and could see him. Add in confusion and a large dash of pain and I came up with this.

Hope you guys like it :) I kind of enjoyed making it and might make another soon if I get to 150 reviews on the mafia one or something :)
Until then please enjoy and review ~

Disclaimer- Hetalia characters don't belong to me.

oOo

Lovino knew as soon as his feet crunched into the fresh white snow on the floor that it was one of the worst ideas he'd ever had. Of course his curses were aimed at his brother for dragging him outside in such weather rather than himself for being stubborn enough to come along. What sort of idiot would think that walking around like this would be fun? He swore under his breath and stomped down on the snow with more venom that necessary as he glared forwards at Feliciano's back, skipping ahead with the stupid Ludwig the potato eating German. Damn him, damn them both. He shivered violently even in the thickness of his coat.

"Cheer up," The other German kid said. Lovino glared sideways at the boy with the pale hair and dark eyes. A light dusting of pink highlighted the strong cheekbones on his square face. Gilbert, Ludwig's older brother, was a bit of a jerk and he had the pleasure of getting lumbered with him as they walked through the dense fields of snow to reach the home at the top of the hill. "We're almost there now."

None of them seemed to notice the cold as much as he did, the lucky bastards. Lovino stifled a cough into his gloved hand, pulling him coat closer around him. This was definitely a bad idea. He already had a cold but he could almost feel it getting worse.

"It's just up the hill." Ludwig commented upon hearing his brother speak, his voice deep and even. He pointed with a bare hand to the top of the ridge where the house sat, nestled within the trees surrounding it. The snow had settled on the tiled roof like icing on a ginger bread house. As they looked up a few flakes fell from the blinding white sky and showered down on them. Lovino coughed again, the movement causing his lungs to burn and his eyes to water painfully. He just wanted to get inside. He had stopped feeling his toes some minutes back and the straps of his rucksack cut into his shoulders.

Feliciano finally seemed to notice him and his amber eyes widened a little in concern. "Lovino? You okay?"

"Do I look okay to you?" He snapped in response his frayed nerves getting the better of him. A brief look of hurt flashed across his brothers face and he felt guilty. It wasn't his fault he had been stubborn and invited himself along. He didn't want to spend the rest of the week alone, what with his Grandfather being away seeing friends, so he'd insisted that he got to go with Feli to his friends house. It was pretty rude of him but he didn't care, he didn't trust the potato eating pair as far as he could throw them.

"We need to hurry up, looks like some serious snow is on its way." Gilbert noted as he faced down the valley like a dog sniffing a scent in the air. He was right, from their vantage point on the hilltop they could see the huge dark cloud baring down on them and the fizzy haze of white beneath the grey where the snow was falling. There seemed to be a lot of the stuff. As they stood there the wind blew ominously and the flakes that had been in the air before seemed to double in size. Lovino groaned and hugged himself closer, closing his eyes; he felt a hand on his arm. He just wanted to be in the warm.

"Hey you alright Lovino?" Gilbert asked over the shrill howl of the wind.

"I'm fine-" A coughing fit stopped him from arguing further. Snow started to cloud his vision as the storm bore down on them in a torrent, he closed them against the onslaught with a whimper.

Strong arms gathered him and steered him forward, his legs shaking so much he could barely stand and was basically being carried onwards. Surely they wouldn't make it, he thought. He'd never seen weather so bad. The wind ripped through him, seeming to linger on his chest for a moment before cutting through him. Cracking his eyes open he found the snow whizzing past them like diamonds in the air. Whether it was the weariness of his head or the poor vision he was not sure but he thought he saw figures through the snow, running animals and people warping into each other with a flurry of snowflakes only to disappear a second later-

Then suddenly it was gone. He had not noticed how close the house had become but they were within it with a crash of the door and the storm was outside, roaring against the wood in displeasure. It was warm in the house but that warmth only made Lovino realise how cold he was and he shook even harder. His very core seemed frozen solid and his breath scraped against the ice in his chest painfully.

"Make yourself at home." Ludwig panted out of breath as he shook snow from his hair. Lovino's brother grabbed his hand.

"Let's get out of these damp clothes," Feliciano fussed taking him into the house. He obviously knew the way to the guest rooms, having stayed many times before; he lead him up the wooden staircase and onto the second floor. A room had been prepared for them it seemed because when his brother opened the door two beds had been made up.

"Come on, let's get changed then we can have fun with Ludwig and Gilbert. It'll be easier to warm up with dry clothes." His brother slipped his bag off his shoulders and dumped it at the end of his bed, he followed suit. With fumbling, numb hands Lovino fished through his bag for something warm to wear, gratefully slipping them on. He hoped he would warm back up soon, it was toasty in the house but he couldn't stop shivering. He felt like crawling into bed and hibernating; now he remembered why he didn't leave the house much in the winter. He hated the cold.

Feliciano finished dressing quickly and hurried off downstairs to go and see his silly Germans without another word. He left Lovino stood in the room alone. With a grumble he tidied his bag and the mess that was his brothers, putting them safety away in the storage provided. What was he doing here? His head hurt, the cold must have reached too far into his skull and he now had a headache coming on. Great.

He glanced around the room. The walls were neutral and painted white with simple guest room pictures on the wall. They were pretty odd pictures, they seemed to be paintings of vineyards and tomato plantations. They were out of place in the home of Ludwig and his family, all descendent of Germany. Maybe they liked the sun more than their pale skin suggested or perhaps the house wasn't originally theirs and they just bought it, and the furnishings. He had not paid much attention to the d├ęcor on the way up the stairs so he couldn't be too sure.

Rubbing his arms to try to get the warmth back into them he walked out of the bedroom, coughing a little to himself. He couldn't quite manage to draw a good breath and he cursed. Oh goody, the damn weather had made his slight cold form into a proper one. He scowled at the thought of having to ask the potato brothers for some form of pain relief medicine. Gilbert would definitely laugh at him and call him 'un-awesome', the bastard. He'd rather go without.

There was a large window at the end of the corridor. Scowling slightly at his poor luck so far Lovino wandered to look outside. The storm was really under way, the snow shot past the window in a blizzard formation making it almost impossible to see outside. It was like a curtain of white static had fallen across the world. He could almost feel the coldness through the window and he back away with a grumble.

A soft giggle echoed behind him. He turned around, expecting to see Feliciano or even one of the German bastards but the hallway was empty. Shit, if his day couldn't get any worse he was now losing his mind too. Yet he was certain he had heard something, he had almost felt the light flutter of a breath on the back of his neck. The passage was empty.

Feeling slightly freaked out he reasoned it had just been the wind. He decided to go look for his brother and hopefully find a warm drink waiting to warm him up.

oOo

The others were indeed sat in the living room with warm drinks clasped in their hands. A blazing fire had been made in the grate and it crackled cheerfully as Lovino took a seat next to his brother on the sofa, pulling a spare blanket around his shoulders and picking up the drink set out for him. The room was a typical cottage layout and style with large red seats and an old wooden fireplace, blackened with age. The smell of the fire was comforting after the cold. The mug tingled with warmth against his frozen fingers as he scooted down into the soft embrace of the blanket, content for the moment to sit and relax.

He watched with amusement as Gilbert brought out a hipflask and poured a little of the liquid into his own mug despite the look of disgust from his younger brother. Ludwig might have been taller and more sensible than his other sibling but he couldn't yell at him when he was stupid and could only look on in annoyance as Gilbert sneered at him over the brim of his cup.

"Is the room okay?" Ludwig inquired politely, turning away from the spectacle. A vein throbbed in his head.

"It's always okay!" Feliciano chirped brightly as he slurped his drink. "It's nice of your Grandpa to let us stay for a few days while he's working, ours would never let us have friends over for so long."

"Gramps knows it can get lonely out here, especially in the winter." Gilbert said. The potato brother's Grandfather was an imposing man who worked in the hospital in the city despite his age, Lovino had only met him the once but he was pretty terrifying. "He told us to invite some friends. I wanted to throw a party, Francis was totally up for and everything but my brother here is a dweeb and wouldn't let me. It should be awesome to have you guys over though, but not as awesome as a party would have been."

The back of Lovino's throat tickled and a slight tightness of the chest ached in his ribs as he coughed, one hand covering his mouth. The conversation carried on around him so that when he surfaced from his attack the conversation had moved onto a new subject, apparently the house.

"Our great Grandfather bought the house many years ago and renovated it." Ludwig was saying. He sat straight backed in his seat like some sort of lord, the blanket wrapped around his shoulders like a cape. "Before that it used to belong to a family from abroad; from what he could find out they all either died or moved away when the money got scarce."

"Tell them about the ghost!" Gilbert demanded swigging his drink. Feliciano gasped like an idiot, his eyes widening in horror.

"Oh no, not ghosts. I don't like ghosts!" He muttered. He started to fiddle with his blanket anxiously rolling the thick material between his hands, Lovino wouldn't have minded but it was pulling at his own and he was cold enough already. "Luddy, why didn't you tell me?"

Lovino rolled his eyes and snatched his blanket out of the way. "Because ghosts aren't real, idiot."

"Are too." Gilbert pouted, his lips pushed out dramatically. His red eyes glinted dangerously. "I've seen him. He moves things in the house sometimes too."

"Him?" Lovino couldn't help but scoff. It was all just ridiculous. "There's no such things. You must have seen your own reflection or something in the mirror."

The older boy fumed. "No way man. It was a ghost, I saw it! Right in that spare room you two are sleeping in."

Feliciano practically wet himself in terror. He went pale and screeched like a cat that had its tail stood on, shoving his face under the blanket and shaking like a big kid.

"Good grief Gilbert, now look what you've done." Ludwig grumbled. He got up with a sigh and went over to Feliciano, patting the blankets approximately where his head should have been. "There is no ghost Feli, my brother is just being a moron."

"No I am not-" Gilbert started to complain but was silenced when a well aimed pillow hit his face with a satisfying thump. Lovino smirked as the pale boy shot daggers at him but he didn't care, he didn't like either of the potato munchers very much but he didn't want his brother to be so scared that he'd end up sharing a bed with him all night, crying like a baby. And it was worth spending his draining energy just to see the look on his face even if the movement made him feel suddenly tired.

He was still cold even with the blanket around him and the back of his throat ached with deadly pregnancy. He hated colds.

"Really?" Feliciano mumbled tearfully from under the covers, his voice barely audible. Ludwig rolled his eyes, a fond smile playing at the corners of his mouth.

"Really."

With a jack in the box like spring he popped his head back up from the covers, a jesters smile in place and a rosy warmth to his cheeks as if he had never been scared at all. Ludwig looked shocked but Lovino just shook his head in despair.

"That's good, can we have dinner now?"

oOo

Dinner was a quick affair as they were all pretty hungry after their walk in the snow, the cold increasing their appetites. However, even though they had been served pasta rather than the potatoes he had been expecting Lovino's appetite wasn't very large. They'd gone to the effort of making a pasta dish for them but every bite just tasted like soggy cardboard. Lovino didn't know whether it was just him or their cooking but Feliciano liked it enough to ask for seconds so it must have been him.

From then he slowly started to feel worse. The cold had still not left him and he found himself shivering, curled up on the settee to attempt to keep in the little body heat he had but it wasn't working. He was also coughing more. And his head pounded. He cursed to himself, wondering if his brother would notice (why would he anyway, so wrapped up with his silly Germans?) Damn his luck. Damn his stupid body. Damn the cold. Part of him just wanted to go home but that would mean going outside again and besides he would not want to drag Feli away from his friends after he had been looking forward to the weekend away for a month.

As the others chatted he sat dozing and dreamed of warmer weather and sun. Last year his Grandfather had taken him and Feliciano to the coast and it had been hot all week, there had been no need for Lovino to wrap up because it was warm enough to wear as little as possible. He had been able to go outside and have fresh air. They'd been to carnivals and so many restaurants with so much food it was as if every meal was a feast.

His memory was so vivid he could forget the crackle of the fire and the howl of the wind, instead he could almost smell the heat of the sandy roads and tomatoes ripening on the vine. Someone was talking to him suddenly. He tired to open his eyes- when had he closed them?- but they had become heavy. The voice sounded as if it was coming through a poorly tuned radio. A cool hand was placed on his forehead.

He opened his eyes to find green ones staring at him through a haze. A blink later and they were gone, replaced by amber eyes which stared down at him in worry.

"Lovi?" Feliciano's voice was laced with worry as he felt at his head. He turned to look at Ludwig who towered beside him. "He has a fever, I don't think he's well."

Ludwig opened his mouth to respond but his Gilbert got there first.

"He's fine Feli!" He laughed, shoving his small hand off his head to feel for himself. If Lovino had been in any state to he would have punched him for the action but as it was he was too tired to move all of a sudden. He just wanted to sleep. "Ahh, just a little hot on the head. Nothing to worry about. He'll be fine in the morning, he just needs a good nights rest. Come on, I'll take him up."

His brother did not look convinced, his eyes were wide and scared. Half heartedly he nodded and watched as Gilbert lifted his brother up and away. Lovino tried to thrash out in his arms but his body wasn't responding very well and he ended up just squirming in his hold. Gilbert left the living room and the warmth from the fire, it was much colder on the staircase and in the bedroom but Lovino still had his blanket cocooned around him. He should have been humiliated when the older boy tucked him into bed but he found himself slipping back into sleep before his head touched the pillow, the giggle from before sounding in his ear as everything went black.

oOo

Gilbert could not have been more wrong about Lovino's health. When he woke up in the morning it felt like his head was caving in two and it was harder than ever to breathe. The cough had manifested in the night and seemed to constrict his chest with every breath. He couldn't stop shivering. He woke up through the night to cough but when he finally came to properly he was surprised to find the room was full. His brother sat beside him on the bed, attempting to stick a thermometer in his mouth. Behind him stood Ludwig and Gilbert, both dressed in outdoor gear. It looked as if they were planning to go on an expedition rather than for a frolic in the snow.

Lovino opened his mouth to comment on this but instead he found himself coughing. It lasted for a long time and made black spots hover at the edge of his vision due to a lack of air. Feliciano, always the more sensitive one of the two, watched the attack and his eyes filled up with tears at his brother's pain. He bit his lip as he inspected the temperature on the thermometer.

Ludwig hissed as he read the readout over his shoulder. "This can't be good."

He wanted to yell at him for talking as if he wasn't there, he was ill not deaf. But all that he could manage was a grumble at the back of his throat that Feli took for a sign of pain or panic, all but throwing himself on his chest in a hug.

"Lovi, why didn't you say you were sick?" He wailed with his face pressed against the fabric of his shirt. The pressure on his chest made it harder to breath and he wheezed painfully until he jumped off him, looking horrified. Lovino started to cough again, this time a pair of hands sat him up on the bed holding him while his body twisted with each breath of air and holding a tissue in front of his face. It sounded like his throat was splitting in two and it certainly felt that way. After the episode he slumped breathlessly on the person holding him and groaned weakly.

"Shit Ludwig, we should call Gramps." Lovino did not have the energy to feel mortified that he was leant against Gilbert of all people, only sparing a dark thought that this served the guy right; his judgement had been way off. Drawing in a shuddering breath he opened his eyes blearily. The tissue was still hanging in his face and he was shocked to find it was stained a little, a horrid brown substance marring the white of the tissue.

"He'll struggle to get back in this weather, the storm is still raging outside." Ludwig was right, the wind shook the windows loudly as if it was attempting to claw its way into the room. The thought made Lovino shiver violently.

Gilbert tutted angrily. "We have to try something! Look at him!"

Feliciano whimpered pitifully his eyes brimmed with tears. Lovino really didn't need his brother to be crying right now, it wouldn't help anything. He was fine. It was just a cold, but shit why were they looking at him like that?

The blond bit his lip as he tried to think of something. He was a born leader and always seemed to have the answer to every situation but now he just looked lost. And scared, like he should be doing something important but couldn't think what.

"We'll take him downstairs, it's warmer with the fire." He said after a long moment. His voice shook a little. "Then we can call Grandpa and see what he thinks."

He moved forward and together he and Gilbert lifted Lovino off the bed, ignoring his protests; Feliciano backing out of the way so that they could manoeuvre him off the bed and out of the room. The chill air of the room hit Lovino's body like knives and he hissed at the intrusion. He didn't want to move damn it! But the combined strength of the two of them holding him up and steering him meant that he could do nothing but wobble along with them.

His chest ached and his head pounded so much that he was not surprised when his knees fell out from under him as they got to the top of the stairs. He fell to the ground with a groan of pain. Hands pulled at his arms but he did not move from his sitting position, couldn't they tell he didn't want to move? Why didn't they just leave him alone?

His brother was crying somewhere off to the right, his words falling on muffled ears. Hands scooped him up bridal style from the floor but the sudden movement made his chest scream in protest and he spluttered into his hand.

He was laid down on the settee in front of the fire and the heat washed over him in a welcome wave to his shaking muscles but still they didn't stop moving, they were so tired but he could do nothing to halt their rapid movements. An unbidden moan escaped his lips in frustration and pain but it was soon smothered by what felt like a tonne of blankets being forced over his small body, they were so heavy they seemed to weigh him down into the material and he thrashed against them. It was almost as if he was drowning and he coughed at the weight, or perhaps he was just coughing. He wasn't sure any more; his head felt like it was filled with fluff and he could barely focus onto his brothers face as he leaned towards him, a hand placed gently on his head...

He must have passed out for a minute because when he next opened his eyes Feli was gone and he was alone in the living room. The only sounds were that of the fire and the storm just like last night, however he could hear raised voices in the kitchen next door. His head couldn't quite grasp the meaning of what they were saying but he understood the tone. The potato brothers were scared.

"..Not right... Hospital..."

"...But the weather... Call Grandpa..."

He might have been imagining it but he was sure he could hear Feliciano sniffling under all the other noises. He didn't want his brother to be sad for him. He would be okay wouldn't he? Just a cold, nothing to fuss over.

He was suddenly aware that he wasn't alone in the room. And it was not his brother or friends.

He did not see how he could have missed him, standing right in front of the fire and blocking his light and warmth, he looked down at him. His face was in shadow and he didn't speak. The sight of him chilled Lovino to the core for some reason, his heart thudding painfully in his chest. He could not understand how the other boy had got there, or why he was staring at him. He had not seen him enter-

"Fratello? What are you looking at?"

He blinked and the boy was gone as quickly as he had appeared leaving only the warmth of the fire and the pain of his heart against his chest. His confusion and fear must have shown on his face because Feliciano, who had entered the room behind him, looked in thought from the fireplace to him and back again. With a sigh his brother placed a damp cloth on his forehead, probably choosing to ignore his behaviour. His eyes were red.

"Ludwig and Gilbert are calling their Grandpa, Lovi. Everything will be okay." He mumbled to him as he patted his head gently with the cloth. Still feeling disorientated he said nothing, allowing himself to sink back into the pillows and blankets. The sight of the boy by the fire made him feel light headed and dizzy and the cloth felt comforting. Yet the room was suddenly rocking like he was on a boat in a stormy see rather than in a house. His brother's voice faded out as the moving walls twisted violently and he fell into darkness.

oOo

He did not know how long he had been asleep but when he opened his eyes Lovino was once again alone. He groaned as the pain hit him in a wave from his toes and straight into his head, rolling slightly in the mound of covers he had been buried beneath in an attempt to free himself. Panting slightly he looked around the room but it was definitely void of life. Where had his brother gone?

He was thirsty and this throat hurt, he needed a drink badly but one had not been left out. There was no other option. He swung his legs out of bed, cringing as they touched the cold floor and stood up slowly. The movement made his head spin but Lovino managed to stay upright with the help of the arm of the settee. Ignoring the shaky feeling in his legs he half stumbled to the kitchen; it too was empty apart from the sight of the snow storm raging outside. Had his brother gone with Ludwig and Gilbert after all? It was dangerous to go outside and he couldn't believe he'd been left alone. Damn, what if he'd suffocated under all those stupid blankets?

Lovino took a glass from the holder on the kitchen side and proceeded to pour himself a drink from the tap. He was shaken when he saw how much his hand trembled as the water fell into the cup, even more disturbed when he caught sight of his reflection in the glass staring back at him. He was white as the snow with dark bags under his eyes. A sudden wave of dizziness made his hands twitch so badly he lost hold on the surface of the glass and it clattered to the floor with a smash, fragments flying in every direction. He gasped but this only aggravated his throat and he proceeded to cough into his hand, he turned to leave the kitchen-

But came face to face with a young man. He towered a head above him, his messy hair was brown and flew into his brilliantly green eyes. Lovino thought he was hallucinating, he must be; he hadn't even noticed the presence behind him. He was seeing things. But then the boy looked at him and smiled but his expression soon turn sad.

"You are very sick." He noted. His words did not fit the movement of his mouth, they seemed to echo around Lovino's head like a wind chime. His delusions could speak?

He tried to talk but only ended up choking into his hand. It felt like a razor was slowly dragging itself up his throat, grating into his skin and tearing off chunks as it went. His knees, unable to take his weight any more, gave out from underneath him and he fell to the floor and into the glass.

There was a brief pause in his attack where he found breath and looked up to the boy as he sat on his hands and knees. His vision swirled with tears.

"Why don't you help me?" He croaked. His hands shook as they tried to hold up his body weight. He could hear the sound of running feet on the upper floor but he kept his eyes fixed onto the boy before him. The smile he had on his face seemed mournful and his eyes were distant as he watched him struggle, there was something close to pity in them.

"I can't." He replied simply and leant forward so that they were nose to nose. Lovino wanted to move away from the stranger, even more so when he held out his hand directly on his chest. He was going to shove him over-!

But then the hand went straight through him.

He stared at his chest in horror with the boys arm hanging out his chest. This was some sort of dream or pain induced delusion, it could not be happening. But then he looked so real and he heard him speak; what-?

Screaming under the pressure his arms crumpled beneath him. He wheezed in pain and shock as he folded onto the floor like a deck of cards blown over by the wind. The glass he had dropped bit in the side of his face and he panicked, attempting to get up but only ending up trashing weakly on the floor. Tears sprung to his eyes, tears of fear and pain. Why was no one helping him?

"I'm sorry." The boy said morosely from above him. There was a shifting sound as if he was moving to walk away, but that was impossible; he wasn't there. Lovino struggled to get to his feet to see but all the strength had left his body and he could do nothing but wheeze pitifully from the floor, tears falling down his faces and blurring his vision. The running footsteps got closer and he heard a gasp from somewhere above him.

"Lovino! Oh my God!" Feliciano yelped, hurrying towards him. With a careful tug he managed to get him sitting up on the floor but his chest tugged painfully despite his brother's gentleness and he groaned in pain. Feli was trying not to cry, his chest heaving in and attempt to quell the tears. Lovino could feel his frantic breath on his cheek as he was clutched to his front. "It'll be okay. Everything is going to be fine."

He wasn't sure whether he was talking to him or trying to reassure himself. Lovino's vision faded again as the pain started to overwhelm him, through his dissolving vision he caught sight of the boy still standing watching them from the corner of the room. His green eyes were like chips of dark emeralds, even in the growing darkness of his vision they seemed to shine. Feliciano didn't seem to register his presence at all but what could it mean? He was undeniably there; wasn't he?

Lovino was overcome by a sense of fear as he was unable to push back the black surrounding the corners of his vision. His head drooped down and he floated in a mist of unconsciousness, not fully aware but aware enough to feel his body shutting down slowly. He wanted to comfort his brother but he couldn't. He felt frozen like the ice that had invaded his lungs.

Voices petered in and out of his ears; all of it nonsense to his mind. He was vaguely conscious of being moved by burning hands that warmed up his cold body and cooled his feverish head with a damp cloth. The voices sounded distressed.

What were they distressed about? Him?

He couldn't think why. Wasn't he sleeping peacefully? Floating in this realm of darkness he felt light and airy, when awake he felt like he was dying with every breath. This blissful unknowing was like a blanket around him protecting him from all that was bad, all that hurt.

He failed to see the need for them to stress out. He was fine, he was safe-

No he wasn't. He was ill. Very ill; he struggled to capture the fragmented memories as they flitted around his addled skull. He had got sick and hallucinated; or had he? He'd fallen and then-

And then the boy with the green eyes had refused to help him on the account that he could not touch him. He had then watched as his brother looked after him. Lovino should have been terrified but he found his fear dissipating like mist.

Something told him that he was not to fear this strange being. That he meant him no harm. In any case he could not touch him so what could he do? Lovino had caught the impression that he was just watching him, watching him and waiting for something to happen. Thinking back in the haven of his mind he found that the boy had been looking at him with sad expectancy.

What for?

What were all the noises for?

He could not take it any longer. He had to know what the voices were saying. With a mammoth effort he crawled from the depths of his mind and entered a state of consciousness where he was able to open his eyes a crack and take in the room once more. His chest weighed him down but he was able to push past the barrier and out into the world of the living.

He was back on the settee surrounded by the mound of pillows and cushions so that he was propped up in case he started to cough again. His body felt tired and drained, holding his eyes open seemed like a chore in itself. A face swam into focus before him. At first he thought it was Ludwig but then his focus sharpened and he realised that the face was too lines, the hair was too long; this was the potato brother's grandfather. The other boys must have somehow fetched him through the storm.

At the sight of his eyes open and focused the man smiled, his face relaxing in relief. "Hello there son. How do you feel?"

"Like shit." He managed to croak. He heard a titter of a light laugh to his right, he turned his head slightly expecting Feli or the others to be stood there but instead he found his eyes locked onto green. The shade boy or whatever he was was looking at him from his seat perched on the edge of the chair beside the fire. The flames reflected his eyes and turned his brown hair into molten gold. There was no way he couldn't be there, he had never experienced anything so vivid that wasn't real. If anything he was more clear now than he had been in the kitchen. The man before him followed his gaze looking confused, obviously not seeing the boy. It was bad enough that he was ill, he thought, never mind losing his mind at the same time. He cursed himself. He could not be seen looking at something that wasn't there; he made up his mind to ignore the boy.

The boy's grandfather turned his gaze back to him with a calm intensity. He reached into a bag placed by his foot and drew out a stethoscope, with expert hands he wrapped the device around his head and into his ears.

"I need you to take a deep breath for me." He moved his shirt to the side and placed the metal fixture onto his bare chest. He hissed at the temperature and did as instructed, hating the rattle of his breath as it caught in his throat. It hurt to breath so deeply but thankfully Ludwig's grandfather noted his discomfort and stopped, removing the stethoscope. "There now, the worse part is over. Can you open wide for me please Lovino?"

"Lovino is a pretty name."

He gasped loudly at the voice. The doctor took this as him opening his mouth and shoved in a thermometer. He fished in his bag for something and Lovino took the chance to glare at the boy beside him with malice. His imagination should at least have the decency not to be rude and annoy him. However the boy just laughed at the look on his face.

"Wow your face is very red!" He giggled. "Just like a tomato. So cute!"

He wanted to reply rudely with a snappy response but he had a thermometer in his mouth and he wasn't even meant to be acknowledging him in the first place. He turned his head back to face the man before him, ignoring the chuckle at his side. The confusion he felt made his head hurt.

"Let me see that." The man muttered as he took the thermometer from his mouth and studied it with a stoic expression plastered on his face. Beside him the ghost boy stood up and shuffled over to see over the man's shoulder, Lovino tensed up. Surely he'd be able to feel him stood so close? Maybe he would feel something and he wouldn't feel so mad.

But apparently not. Not even when the boy gasped loudly in the man's ear and looked down at Lovino sadly did he seem to register his presence.

"I was right, you are sick!" The boy all but wailed, his face scrunching up in sadness. His green eyes seemed to fill with tears- wait no. He wasn't there. He wasn't crying.

Ignore him Lovino, ignore him he told himself.

It took all his remaining energy to stick to this resolve when the boy jumped to his side, passing straight through Ludwig's grandfather as if he was nothing but air and shadows. He himself didn't seem to notice but it scared the life out of Lovino. This could not be happening to him. He was going mad-

"Lovino?" Ludwig's grandfather asked in concern, his azure eyes fixed unblinkingly on to his features as if searching for something. "Are you okay?"

He realised he was shaking in fear. The illness was making him feel light headed but the panic started to settle in making him breathe quickly. This of course irritated his chest and for a moment he couldn't quite draw a breath. Beside him the ghost boy seemed to realise it was his presence that made him act in such a way and he backed off quickly. Lovino couldn't help but notice the hurt in his eyes as he backed up to the fire.

"I don't feel well." Lovino groaned weakly as he shook violently. A cough tore through his mouth with a sudden intensity and he felt himself be pulled up to a sitting position as he began choking. It was as if his whole lungs had suddenly filled with water and he was getting it out to stop himself from drowning only not quickly enough. A bucket was produced from somewhere as the vile liquid escaped his mouth in a burning stream. Tears leaked from his eyes and his hands flailed in a shaky spasm.

He was aware of Ludiwg's grandfather talking to him softly, telling him everything was okay but his eyes had locked onto the ghost in front of the fire in terror. The other boy gazed back,with something close to longing in his eyes. It was as if they looked at each other from across a great ravine and it was just the two of them, no one else. The thought overwhelmed Lovino's senses as once more he slumped forward and into blackness.

oOo

"It's pneumonia, no doubt about it." Ludwig's grandfather told the others from the kitchen. He had closed the door but the snow storm had abated a little and the howls were no longer the only thing Lovino could hear. With fuzzy eyes he stared at nothing in particular in the room and wished the pain would go away or that he could sleep again. "He should really go to the hospital but I'm afraid to move him in this weather. It'll only make him worse. We'll just have to make sure he is comfortable here for now. Feliciano, I need you to call your grandpa for me and..."

His voice petered out. Lovino wheezed as he turned his head slightly to look at the figure he knew was still there, watching him with a melancholic gaze. He was surprised to find that the ghost boy was crying, tears following down his bronze cheeks their paths glinting in the light of the fire. Lovino knew he should be scared, should be feeling something but the pain in his chest and head took over any other feeling in his body. There was just him, the boy, the fire and the pain.

"Why are you crying?" He managed to croak, his voice barely above a whisper. He did not really expect his illusion to respond but he did after a small sniffle.

"You're dying. It's sad. All the people who see me die." He rubbed his hand across his face, smearing the tears across his features. Lovino noted his voice now fit the movement of his mouth and his image was clearer than he'd ever seen it. He was quite handsome and couldn't be many years older than himself. His clothes were simple yet old looking, Lovino had never really paid them much attention before but now he looked he noticed them more clearly. If the boy wasn't a delusion and he had more energy he could have almost reached out to touch the rough fabric.

"I must be cursed." He added sadly sniffle and a shake of his head.

"What's your name?" Lovino wasn't sure why he asked him but the words tumbled out in a breath before he could stop himself. The boy gazed at him.

"I think it was Antonio." He sounded uncertain and Lovino saw a fear reflected in his eyes that he had not seen before. This boy was lonely he realised, lonely and confused. "That's what it was before... before I died."

Died. Then he had been real once, maybe he wasn't a total figment of his imagination after all. He allowed himself a short breath of relief. Lovino believed in god, his whole family where devout Catholics and he went to church every Sunday. The afterlife consisted of heaven or hell, but he was not so stubborn to ignore the ideas of other faiths. More than once he had heard of souls that were unable to pass on, ending up doomed to walk the earth forever. This could explain the old fashioned clothes the boy wore; or maybe he was just mad anyway. Lovino found he no longer cared.

"And I'm dying too?"

Antonio bowed his head and nodded slightly. "I think so. I can never be certain. But how else could you see me?" There was a pause. "I'm sorry."

Lovino found the news disturbing to say the least. He knew in any other situation he would have been wailing in grief at the idea but for some reason he did not want to break down in front of this ghost boy.

"Not your problem bastard." He grunted. He coughed weakly but the blockage in his chest didn't seem to move. Damn it.

Antonio's eyes widened in shock and his lip shook dangerously. "Aren't you scared?"

Scared? He was terrified, he just didn't have the energy to act on it. What would happen to him? He wondered whether he would be mourned. His brother and grandfather would be sad but then again they'd have each other. They'd be fine without him he reasoned. Apart from them he doubted he'd be missed.

He looked to Antonio and found him still in tears like a big kid. He was crying enough for the both of them and what for? He didn't know him. He wouldn't cry so much if he knew him as well as everyone else. He wasn't anyone to mourn.

He felt the tears slide down his face. The ghost moved closer to him. Lovino would have cried out if he could when the boy's hands touched his own. This time he didn't go through him, he felt Antonio's rough skin on his hand, suggesting that in life he had worked a lot. Carefully Antonio took his hand within his own and stroked it gently, comforting him silently and with dedication. There was no words any more but Lovino found himself fading out again, his eyes shutting on their own accord; too heavy for him to keep open any longer but he was still awake.

Antonio must have known because he carried on talking as if nothing was wrong. "I sense you're curious. Shall I tell you about me?"

Lovino wanted to snap that he didn't care but the soothing nature of the ghost's voice was like a drug soothing his body. And it was true he was interested in how he had become a ghost. It was mad but he found himself actually caring. He mumbled an assent as the boy stroked his hands lightly.

"I was born in this house many, many years ago..." He said softly. "I lived with my papa and mama and my brother. One day I got ill, just like you. Back then we had no money for medicine. I remember my parents being very sad and my brother screaming for me not to leave him. But I suppose it was my time and one day I just faded away..."

Gilbert and Ludwig had said someone had owned the house a long time ago and it had gone into ruin. He wondered what they'd think if they knew he was talking to a member of the family that used to live in their home.

"After that things are fuzzy. Days bend into years, minutes seem like seconds. My parents left in grief. The house fell apart around me..." He grew silent for a minute and Lovino cracked open one eye to see him staring off into the distance, his expression far away. When he spoke again his voice was sad. "I festered in my own loneliness, it was a never ending dark tunnel. I could not move from this place and I had to watch as time went on. People would come to the house and steal things that my parents left; I would try to make them leave but they couldn't see me."

"Then this family moved in," His tone became more cheerful. "They seem nice. I think sometimes they see me. I sometimes shift their belongings to see if they can see it. It's nice to be noticed..."

He turned back to look at Lovino with a small smile playing around the corners of his mouth. He reach forward his other hand and placed it on his forehead, it was surprisingly cool and it made his eyelids flicker down again.

"Thank you for seeing me Lovi," Antonio said lightly. "I'm here for you if you need me. I always will be."

His heart thumped slowly in his ears as if his whole system was shutting down and only the faint ticking over of his body clock could be heard. Antonio carried on speaking but his voice soon faded out...

He was floating again. There was no pain. No thought, just the silence and the gentle embrace of the darkness. He could feel the gentle pull around his middle as he was being dragged upwards.

Somewhere, on the edge of his awareness, he could hear someone crying. Who was it? The sound jarred the silence. He didn't like the noise, someone was sad. Was it his brother? He hoped not.

What was going on? Didn't he have something to do? Somewhere to be?

His assent halted for a moment and he registered the pull switch direction. He was moving back down into the world of pain. At first he fought against it but then in the darkness he saw him. Antonio stood not a few feet away, his green eyes lighting the darkness like beacons. With one bronze hand he beckoned him forward and his body moved of it's own accord into the light...

oOo

He opened his eyes slowly. He was no longer in the living room on the settee but back upstairs in the guest room. It was like nothing had even happened and the change was slightly disorientating. How had he not woken up when they moved him? The room was cheerfully bright and outside he could hear the light chatter of the birds that nested in the roof above the room.

For a few minutes Lovino lay basking in the feeling of being the most clear he had felt in a long time. It was like his head had been full of clouds and now they were starting to clear. His chest still hurt and he still felt ill but he was no longer in a state of near death-

Had that been what the dark world he'd been in was? Death? A horrible thought struck him that he'd died, that he was no longer alive and had joined Antonio in the realm of the ghosts but a quick inspection of his body found that he was still there. He could feel the softness of the blankets that covered him and the gentle weight of a flannel, now warm, on his forehead.

He thought to call out for someone but the next moment the door creaked open and Feliciano poked his head in. Seeing him awake his face broke into a wonderful relieved smile.

"Lovi! You're awake, how do you feel?" His brother's voice was as chirpy as he remembered with an added skip in his step. He practically beamed at him as he sat beside him on a chair that had not been there before, it had probably been brought into the room at the same time as he had. It felt like only a day or two but Lovino had a horrible feeling it had been longer.

"Feli..." His voice was hoarse through lack of use. "Better I think, I can see straight for the first time in ages. How long was I out?"

His brother's amber eyes teared up a little. "I-it's been a week Lovi. I was so scared, Grandpa and I thought we'd lose you-"

"Grandpa is here?" He mumbled as he tried to ignore the gaping feeling in his chest. A week? He'd lost a week?

Feliciano nodded, his curly hair bouncing in little waves at the movement. His smile was back in place thankfully, Lovino didn't want to see him sad.

"He came up the day you got really bad." He explained, fiddling with the blanket on the bed as he spoke. With a sigh Lovino passed him his hand to hold instead and he took it happily, interlacing his slim fingers between his own. "Ludwig and Gilbert helped him up the hill in the car because the weather was still terrible. He was so upset to see you Lovi, I've never seen him cry so hard but he'd brought the medicine for you from the doctor in town."

Lovino got the unsaid message that his Grandpa had only just got to him at the right moment. The medicine had obviously taken effect only just in time. He remembered the darkness and Antonio, he had a feeling that the ghost had aided him in some way. He wondered where the boy had gone. He forced a small smile for his brother's sake.

"You've been very sick Lovi but hopefully you'll get better now." Feliciano said cheerfully oblivious as always. "Ludwig's grandpa says you'll need to go to the hospital to get better properly- oh wait the others! I need to let them know you're awake!"

He jumped up, planted a kiss on his forehead and sped from the room without another word. Lovino watched him go silently, feeling the growing presence at his side swell slightly. When he turned to look Antonio was once again at beside him, his smile in place. He look pleased.

"I'm glad to see you're feeling better." His voice was out of sync again and his form seemed to lack a little substance, he was blurry around the edges like he had been painted in water colours yet his eyes were still as bright as emeralds.

"Thanks to you I suppose." He replied. The other boy shook his head slightly, a smile playing on his lips.

"I merely showed you the way," He said. His voice held a determined strength."I realised it was not your time yet, you still have things to do and you couldn't have left your brother in the same way I left mine. I would not allow it. Even if it meant losing the one person I could talk to."

For a second his image faded and then regained strength. He didn't seem to notice the change but Lovino did and gasped. This ghost, this spirit had helped him live, he did not want him to just disappear back into the crushing loneliness of his existence without someone to talk to. It was unfair.

"You're leaving?" He didn't want it to be true but the look on Antonio's face told him that there was no other outcome. He was getting better now, he would stop seeing him but he would still be there. Alone. It was horrible.

Antonio tried to make light of the situation with a bright smile. "Afraid I have to. But don't worry about me I'll be fine knowing you'll be better."

Tears rose to Lovino's eyes at the bravery the ghost had against the possibility of a lifetime alone and he could do nothing to thank him for all he had done for him. He owed this boy his life. It was a heavy burden for him and he was not shocked when he realised he was crying.

Antonio raised one ghostly finger as if to wipe away the tears but his hand went straight though him. He removed himself with a sigh. Lovino remembered the rough feel of those hands as they wrapped around his own. What he would give to comfort the boy before him, even though he was the one that was ill it felt as if Antonio was the one who was dying.

"I don't want you to leave." He could recall being scared of Antonio at first, scared at what he had meant and what he was but now he just felt as if the golden light he had brought to him in his hour of need was slowly being snuffed out. The ghost flickered sadly, this time staying invisible for longer and only coming back as a mere shadow of before. He flickered once, twice and then totally vanished from the room. Lovino stared in horror at the place he had been for a long moment.

He wanted to cry out for him to come back but he knew it was impossible. It was if he had never been there at all. After all he had done he would never be able to tell his family and friends what the ghost boy had done for him in case they thought he was going mad. They'd probably write off his words as a delusion or fantasy caused by the pain. But delusions did not have names, or histories, or feelings; Antonio had been real once and now he would live forever alone.

The flood gates opened and Lovino let out all the emotions he had pent up in his illness; the fear, the anger, the sadness all came bursting out in a torrent of tears until he was unable to see through his eyes. He pushed his face into the duvet and cried, his shoulders heaving-

But then a light brush of air stirred the strands of hair on his head, gently raising them as if someone had run their hands over his head to try to soothe him. His gaze snapped up to the room and stared around it, it was empty.

He wiped his face a little. "Antonio?"

As if in response a light brush of air brushed past his hand and rose to his face. It was cool and comforting. He was not sure whether it was a whistle of the wind but he heard a small sound that could have almost been a hum by his ear.

The sound of footsteps coming up the stairs drew him back to reality. He scrubbed the remainder of the tears off his face quickly, adjusting his features as the others entered the room smiling happily; although the whole time they were there the cool breath of air stayed with him, brushing across his face every so often that he could not help but smile too.

oOo

It was another few days before Ludwig's grandfather judged him well enough to leave the house and move onto the hospital without taking a turn for the worst. The weather had stayed cold but the snow had started to disappear and melt. Feliciano, holding Lovino's hand to keep him steady, pointed out how the spring bulbs were starting to push through the cracks in the ice. Ludwig and Gilbert walked next to them with their bags.

"Look, look! Lovi look! The daffodils are coming through!"

"I'm surprised they survived that snow." Ludwigs grunted as he heaved one of the suitcases into the back of the awaiting car. Their grandfather's were still inside talking, the potato eater's probably being harassed by their own. Their voices were a grumble in the background.

"They aren't the only ones eh?" Gilbert commented with a wink in Lovino's direction. After it had appeared he would get well again the older boy had returned to his usual jerk-like self although Lovino knew for a fact that he had sat by his bedside, sometimes for the entire night. Feliciano had spared him no detail of his illness and he knew everything right down to how Ludwig and Gilbert had brought up the cars from the bottom of the hill. Thinking about all they had done made him slightly embarrassed and on reflect he threw Gilbert the finger, not really meaning it. He would never admit how thankful he was to the boy. He was thankful for them all.

"Come on Lovi, let's get you in the car." Feliciano clucked next to him, wrapping the blanket around his shoulders a little tighter like he was some kid. He'd been very protective of him since he had woken up. It was nice to let his little brother look after him for once.

"Fine," he grumbled. "Let me say goodbye to these two first."

In any other circumstances he wouldn't have even acknowledged the two boys before him but times had changed. Perhaps they weren't as bad as he had thought. He held his hand out for Ludwig to take which he did, a shadow of a smile twitching at the corner of his lips. Lovino turned to Gilbert for the same treatment but instead found himself wrapped up in the paler boys arms and up in the air, his face over his shoulder. Gilbert's chest vibrated with his laugh.

Lovino yelped and tried to escape from his grasp but the past few weeks had made him weaker than usual and he was unable to throw the taller boy off. As he squirmed his eyes travelled around the yard for help, fixing in on the upper floor window of the house where a figure stood in the window. The sight made him freeze up and stare open mouthed.

"Hey you alright? I didn't break you did I?" Gilbert sounded worried. His sudden cease of movement probably made him think he'd passed out or something. Lovino glanced to his face at the address and then back again at the now empty window.

"Errm... yeah I'm fine." He mumbled, thinking on his feet as the young man set him down. He could feel the blood rush to his face in embarrassment. "I just thought I saw-"

He stopped. He was not meant to tell anyone, damn it. Ludwig was helping Feliciano with the last few bags and was out of earshot, Gilbert turned to look at the window with a dawning expression on his face. He laughed to himself and slapped Lovino on the back with anther wink.

"No worries kid," he chuckled. "There's no need to say a word."

Feliciano bounced up, the bags packed away in the car and their grandfather emerging from the house. "You ready Lovi?"

"Yeah sure." He agreed thankful to get away from Gilbert's knowing stare. He followed him to the car and slid in, winding the window down to say their final goodbyes.

"Thanks for having us and saving my brother's life Mr Beilschmidt." His brother said as though it was nothing, leaning over him to speak to the older man as their Grandpa got into the car and buckled up. The man chuckled at his words and nodded.

"Any time Feli, any time."

"You'll come back again yeah?" Gilbert asked, poking his head in to the car with a smirk. "In the summer though this time. You can see your new friends eh?"

Lovino wasn't sure if he meant himself and Ludwig or their silent house guest. His cheeks burned brightly at the thought that the older brother had seen straight through him. He nodded and rolled up the window as the car started. They waved merrily to the little family beside the gate who waved back with gusto. Lovino's eyes flicked briefly to the top window of the house, half expecting it to be empty, but very happy when he found it wasn't.

Antonio stood in the window, the light shining through his form, waving too. Even from the distance he was at Lovino could see the smile that plastered his face like the cheerful idiot he was. The car passed the trees and out of sight of the house. Feliciano sighed and settled back into his seat, holding onto his brother's hand tightly on top of the blanket on his lap. There was a long silence in which the two of them enjoyed the company of the other when suddenly Feliciano laughed a little.

He turned to face him grinning. "I got so caught up with you being ill that I forgot about that ghost Lovi. I never saw anything! Maybe next time, eh?"

Lovino turned his head away to hide his own grin. Perhaps he would one day see the ghost that inhabited the Beilschmidt household after all.

"Ghosts don't exist." He chided softly, sticking to his old mantra but not actually believing it any more. The fact that he was alive was proof in the opposite. Lovino Vargas was proud to say he had been saved by a ghost. And a friend.

oOo

Ahh fluff how I love thee.

Drop me a review :) Thank you for reading!
Hope this was what you wanted Silan Haye! *prays*