yuuago: (SweNor - Stay)
[personal profile] yuuago posting in [community profile] nordicromance
Title: Silence and a thousand words
Author: [livejournal.com profile] yuuago/Rukkilill
Prompt: Sweden/Norway - Shopping
Rating: 13+ ish.
Extra notes: Set during the 1870s. ~2700 words.
Summary: Norway always leaves Sweden second-guessing himself. His gift is received with little response... for the most part.

Many thanks to Noyades for helping me think this story through! /o/

The book was a firm, solid weight in Sweden's hands. He eyed the details on the cover, then gently opened it to slide his fingers down a page, noting the texture of the page, the quality of the printing, the feeling of the slightly-raised ink. It was certainly not a cheap edition, and no one would mistake it as such.

As he silently appraised the novel, he half-listened to the bookseller's slow, airy murmuring. "I am sorry it took time to come in; the recent storms have been an inconvenience. But I think you will find, sir, that your friend will be pleased with it - provided, of course, that he is educated enough to understand French at all."

Sweden slid his gaze upward until he met the man's face. For a moment he eyed him as he carefully considered asking what exactly he meant by that, even if he knew full well what he meant by it. Perhaps he wouldn't, Sweden decided as he looked at him a moment too long and the confident, nose-upward look of the man dissolved into nervousness. Too confrontational. "'S fine," he said as he looked away and shut the book. "He knows it."

"Very good. Now, about that other volume you requested..."

When Sweden finally stepped out of the shop, he left with the book tucked neatly under one arm and his pockets somewhat lighter than they had been before entering. The afternoon sun brushed over his face and he turned toward it, closing his eyes and savouring the warmth. Somewhere, church bells tolled the time.

He was under no illusion that the gift would be the solution to his problems with this particular 'friend'. Still, the weight of it was reassuring, and as he turned to complete the rest of his errands - which he always preferred to run personally, when it came to delicate matters such as this - he thought that perhaps this gift, at least, would be well-received.

It was not long before he returned home with the mission complete except for one thing: giving that book to the person it was meant for. Sweden fingered the book in its paper wrapping as he made his way to Norway's room, biting his lip and sliding his thumb over the spine. Though he tried to go quietly, no matter how softly he stepped, his footfalls echoed in the manor's hallway, the sound coming back to him and making his insides flip terribly. It did not matter that he was sure the book had been the right choice; that in fact Norway had mentioned that exact title to him, hinted that he wanted it in a way so clear that even the most oblivious person in the world would have caught on to why he had brought it up. Considering the way his efforts to personally please him had been received on previous occasions, there was no reason to not think that Norway would stare at him, make some biting comment, then take it from him with only grudging acceptance.

And yet... Sweden drew in a deep breath and raised his hand to rap on the door to Norway's apartments and dared to hope that this time, maybe this time, it would be different.

The door opened under his touch and he drew back before realizing that it had been ajar all along. When there came no protest from inside, Sweden pushed it wide and stepped into the room, sweeping his eyes throughout. Norway was nowhere to be found. He went to the writing desk and set the book down atop it, where Norway was sure to see it when he returned, and felt a twinge of relief in the knowledge that the most difficult part was over. If Norway took issue with that small personal gesture, as he usually did, then by the time he bothered to confront Sweden on it, the bite of his words would be softened. Satisfied, Sweden turned to leave, but he hardly took two steps before he stopped.

From outside came the sound of someone playing music.

It slipped in through the opening frame, bidding Sweden to go over to it and draw back the curtain and push the window open just a tiny bit more in order to better let in the sweet, light sounds. Satisfied, he listened, then looked out and found exactly what the notes had led him to expect. Down in the garden, washed in the afternoon's sunlight, Norway was playing the fiddle.

Sweden sank down onto the windowseat and watched and listened and found himself unable to keep from smiling. The sound was light, sliding through the air like a breeze, playful and wistful all at once. As he rested his head against the windowframe and looked out, he could not help but wish that he could be close enough to see Norway's face. It would be the second time he had seen him like that; the second time he had found him while he was practicing, only that time he had been close enough to see his face, close enough to see him with the instrument to his chin and his eyes shut, a peaceful expression on him as he drew bow over strings and played some slow, gentle melody. Everything about Norway was at ease, and the slightest hint of a smile touching the corner of his lips, and never had Sweden seen him like that before or since. The moment lasted only until Norway opened his eyes and caught sight of him, the peace fading into sharpness, the music stopping abruptly, replaced with a rebuke about how y'shouldn't sneak up on a body; 's right vexing, is what.

Sweden sighed. Norway may have had a point, but he had not intended to startle him, nor had he expected him to be so displeased about being seen playing. As he listened to him for the second time, he found himself grateful that at least he would be able to slip away without Norway getting any impression that someone was watching him.

The music wound to a close. By all rights, Sweden should have risen and gone to the door, but he remained sitting, reluctant to get up and leave, hoping Norway wouldn't stop there, that he'd start again and play another song.

It was a futile hope. As the final notes faded, Norway tilted his head up and looked at him.

Sweden held his breath and pressed himself against the wall, though he did not move away from the window. Norway stared up at him for a moment, and Sweden could not be sure as to whether he actually saw him or if he had only seen some small, minute movement. Finally, having scrutinized the window to his satisfaction, Norway looked away from it and set to tending to his fiddle.

With luck, Sweden thought as he made his way out of Norway's room and carefully closed the door behind him, he would simply assume that it had been one of the servants.

The day passed with neither incident nor confrontation, which both was and was not reassuring. Regardless of what Sweden had expected, Norway did not approach him about the book, though surely he had seen it. He had returned to his room shortly after playing. It was impossible for him not to have seen it. Still, the hours passed, and Norway did not appear at Sweden's door to thank him for it - though that, Sweden had to admit, had never been likely to happen in the first place. But it did not keep him from hoping for a response while he spent the day reading through trade documents undisturbed and sorely wishing for an interruption.

Later, they supped together, and Norway did not have one word to say about the matter.

"Anythin' new?" Sweden had asked as he gave him a cautious look from across the table.

"No." Norway's brusque comment left no room for approach. "Now, about that agreement we were talkin' on yesterday..."

He reeled Sweden in with talk of trade and politics. The two of them bickered throughout supper, and bickered still after, though admittedly not without purpose, and while it seemed Norway's points were less sharp than usual, and that his words had a gentler bite, Sweden could not be certain whether the book had done it - for surely he had seen it? - or whether he was simply feeling something resembling amiable even as he gave his usual complaints about their union. At the very least, it was a relief that he did not bring up the matter of the window. Still, Norway gave him little room to bring up anything else either, and in the end Sweden was left wanting.

When night finally approached and Sweden turned in for bed, it was all he could do to keep down his disappointment. As he dressed for sleep he thought over Norway's response - or lack of it - and picked it apart and rationalized it. It was true that he should not have expected Norway to speak to him about it; at times it was impossible to get him to speak about anything at all. On the other hand, a part of him had hoped for something. Anything. Perhaps, Sweden thought wearily, receiving nothing from him in the way of thanks or refusal was just as good as something. At the very least, it meant that his gift had not been entirely unwelcome.

Sighing, he went to the window to draw the curtains shut, and no sooner had he closed them than a knock sounded on the door. It was the firm, confident knock typical of Norway, and the silence that followed was certainly his silence. For the briefest of moments Sweden hesitated with his hand lightly grasping the curtain and his nerves twisting. By all rights it would be reasonable enough to refuse him and simply claim that he was tired and in no mood for evening conversation. Instead, the words "Come in" slipped past his lips, and he found that he did not mind.

The door opened and Sweden turned, ready to greet him, but the words stuck on his tongue. Norway shut the door and looked over at him without a word. He, too, was dressed for bed, his hair unclipped and cupping his face, and he had a book tucked under one arm - the book, Sweden realized, biting his lip at the sight of it.

"Evenin'," Norway said. "Thought you'd want company. Ain't late yet." There was a soft casualness to his tone, as if the offer was nothing, even though the two of them knew very well that it was not nothing at all.

Somehow, Sweden managed to untie his tongue. "Wouldn't mind it. 'S early enough."

Norway's eyes slid from him to the window. He stared at the curtain, then nodded to Sweden. "I'll want that open," he said quietly before turning from him and making his way over to the bed. "For the light."

Sweden drew the curtain open again, letting the evening sunlight flood into the room, grateful that the bulk of it would touch Norway's side of the mattress and unsure whether or not Norway intended to keep him up all night with it. When he returned to the bed, Norway had already slid in and made himself comfortable, as if he owned it, and Sweden felt the nervousness rising again at the sight of him there. While Norway had shared his bed more than once, though more often in the literal sense, it was still something he felt he could never get used to.

After steadying his breath, Sweden slid in beside him, wanting to curl up close to him and making the wise decision not to. Instead he looked at him and noted the way he relaxed against the pillows with his knees up and the book open and propped up against them. As he watched, Norway brushed a stray strand of hair out of his eyes and tucked it behind his ear, then glanced at him and gave him a look that made him bite his tongue.

There was no doubt that Norway knew that Sweden had been staring at him, but to Sweden's relief he did not question him about it. "What d'you think on it," Norway asked.

"On what?"

"A bedtime story. How about it."

Sweden waited for him to say more, but received nothing. Norway didn't regard him at all. Instead he looked to his book and trailed his fingers down along the page, brushing over the printing just as Sweden had done that afternoon in the bookshop. Having appraised it to his satisfaction, he looked to Sweden again, caught his gaze, and held it as if to say that yes, he did notice that it was a lovely edition, thanks. Sweden breathed deeply, gathered his nerves, and nodded. "Wouldn't mind it."

"Have a listen, then."

Norway waited with a look of uncaring patience on his face as Sweden rested back. It was all Sweden could do to resist the urge to nestle close to him and vie for contact, as he knew that it was enough to have Norway in his bed, and that any attempt at more might drive him to change his mind about the entire thing. He drew the sheet over himself, smoothed it out, and tried not to think too deeply on the matter of what Norway might have intended by coming to his bed and reading to him. It was a strange way to thank him, if that was what it was meant to be, but Sweden resolved not to question it. He knew better than that. Upon settling himself, he looked to Norway and gave a silent nod that he was ready to hear it.

"L'année 1866 fut marquée par un événement bizarre, un phénomène inexpliqué et inexplicable..."

The words rolled from Norway's lips, low and steady and even, the language softening his voice, gentling it. As Sweden listened he let the sound sweep over him, disregarding the story itself though he could understand every word, caring only for the sound of it. It was far different from the evening's earlier argument, minor though it had been, with Norway's voice all edges and cold sharpness. Now the soft, rounded syllables left his voice as warm and rolling as the late evening sunlight spilling over the bedsheets.

By degrees he was lulled into rest, half-dozing, on the edge of drifting off as the sound of Norway reading washed over him. When Norway stopped and closed the volume, Sweden was barely aware of it, and he only dimly realized that the sound of his voice had ceased when Norway shifted to set the book on the bedside table. For a moment, Sweden wondered if he should bid him good night, dismissing the idea and then re-thinking it. Before he could decide, he felt another movement, a slight dipping of the mattress and warmth as Norway edged closer.

Norway's lips brushing against his mouth were light, gentle, and entirely unexpected. Sweden's eyes fluttered open and he gasped, instantly regretting it as the reaction made Norway draw back, his eyes widening and a rosy flush rising in his cheeks. Waking Sweden had obviously not been what he had intended, and it was all Sweden could do to keep from smiling. He did not, nor did he comment on it, and instead he silently regarded Norway and searched for something to say. It had to be the right thing. Finally, he simply murmured, "Y'like the book?"

It seemed Norway was unsure whether or not to answer that at all. He stared at him, keeping that wide-eyed look, and Sweden steeled himself and waited and hoped that even if Norway didn't speak, he would at least stay. The last thing that he wanted was for Norway to slide out of his bed and leave him.

Finally, instead of replying, Norway dipped his head and kissed him again.

There was no need for words, Sweden decided. The way it felt when Norway cupped his cheek and pressed close to him was better than anything he could have said.

Date: 2012-08-02 04:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] coeurgryffondor.livejournal.com
All the glorious SuNor!

I love the flow of this though there's a couple early sentences where the beginning and end repeat themselves that kind of makes it awkward, which is sad since you really get into a good groove and from then on it's perfect. Sweden is phenomenal here, the right amount of self-assurance, hot mess, and knowledge that Norway does what Norway wants and Sweden is just stuck coming along for the ride. Norway too is fantastic, especially the end, because you don't know what's going on in his mind so everything can go a thousand ways.

The way they speak to each other, when they speak, is fantastic. The end really captures it best because for them, there are rarely words that express what they're thinking. It's all small actions, like fingers over the ink or a pause that's a split second too long. Yet there's an ease to the story's progression (even if there isn't to their relationship) so that it all seems natural like a sigh, as if this was clearly how it was meant to be: nothing forced, just Sweden and Norway being Sweden and Norway.

Also, nice use of the Verne; knew I'd seen that somewhere. You captured the French language in describing Norway's voice, and even the man's comment at the beginning about knowing French or how both nations understand it. Languages in Hetalia fics make me happy. :)

All in all, perfect score from me, though SuNor and French are my weaknesses so maybe I'm a bit biased. ;D

Date: 2012-08-02 12:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] coeurgryffondor.livejournal.com
Yeah I just figured sometimes you read it so much you miss those things, and it takes that new pair of eyes to get it.

My favorite Sweden is the quite sort of awkward Sweden, the one where he thinks other people don't notice he's an awkward turtle and Norway is just standing there clearly judging him for it.

Date: 2012-08-03 07:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kainoliero.livejournal.com
A million internets for you for using a language other than English in a fic and pulling it off elegantly! Never would I ever have thought I would come across a fic where Norway speaking French would make me almost squeal out loud (I managed to stop myself because atm I'm at friends' place and I don't think I could explain such things to them).

I loved this fic! I especially like the way you described the surroundings, the weather and the like, and awkward Sweden is the cutest Sweden. Also love to see Norway caught by surprise. It probably doesn't happen often. :D

Date: 2012-10-28 10:39 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
perfect. just perfect. i'm in awe, really.


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