You sighed as you mentally slapped yourself for forgetting your bag in the meeting room. Not that it was completely your own fault of course, you’d been trying to make sure that Arthur and Francis didn’t kill each other on their way to their hotel room which they had to share to the Englishman’s great distaste.
Everyone must’ve left... you cursed as you wondered if the room had been locked up yet. A cheer of success left your mouth as you pressed the door handle down and it went down all the way, not catching on the lock. With a grin from ear to ear you sidled into the room, quickly finding your seat; your bag sitting underneath it with a nonchalant air about it.
“Bad bag! You were supposed to follow me!” You chastised the bag, chuckling at your own silliness until you froze when you heard someone clearing their throat. Spinning around, you clasped your bag to your chest as you stared at your unknown assailant with wide eyes and a red face.
Ludwig bit his lip, an amused expression on his face as he shook his head at you. “Vhat vere you doing? Talking to your....bag?”
You kicked the ground, your eyes averted from the German. I should really stop talking to objects and myself....you made a mental note of that and smiled sheepishly at him. “Yeah I guess. So you forget something too?” You diverted his attention away from your weirdness with a question, to which he shook his head.
“Just finishing up zhe papervork.” God, he really was a hard worker. “Hey Luddy.” He winced at his pet name, but at least you had his attention. “Don’t overwork yourself okay? I don’t want you to get sick.” You told him, a sweet smile on your face as you awkwardly patted his arm.
His heart beat faster at the simple but affectionate gesture and he reached for you as you turned to leave.
“Vait-“ The fabric of his jacket brushed against the table and managed to snag the metal case he used to keep his stationery in. The case tumbled to the floor with a loud crash and Ludwig halted abruptly.
The resounding metal rattle echoed in his mind, drawing visions of his time during the war. Doubling over, he held his hands to his ears as the repetitive string of machine-gun fire pounded in his head. The bombshells racked his body and he trembled violently, muttering to himself as he ‘saw’ people dropping like flies around him.
“Ludwig?!” You shook him hard, gasping as you saw the terrified look he had. “Nei-nein! Geh weg! Lass mich in Ruhe!”
“Ludwig!” Pulling his face up to look at you, you stared deep into his cerulean eyes. His pupils were almost completely dilated, two large black discs as he shook under your hands. After a strangled whimper, he collapsed on the floor with his head in your lap.
Holding back your urge to cry, you bit your lip. One of your hands rubbed soothing circles on his back whilst the other gently stroked his hair. You could feel his body quivering against yours, soft whimpers escaping him now and then.
You sat there for quite a long time, waiting until he’d quietened down completely until you asked him about it. “I-Is it because of the-“
“Zhe war? Ja.” His voice cracked on the last note and he sniffed, using his hand to wipe away the moisture from his eyes. “I-I didn’t realise that you-you were this bad. This hasn’t happened before has it?”
You could feel the line of his nose against your leg as he shook his head, paused and then nodded curtly. “Never zhis bad zhough.” He commented quietly, the fingers that had clenched around the fabric of your trousers relaxing due to his taking deeper breaths.
He sat up suddenly, realising his display of what he would call weakness. Stammering, he apologised with a red face, his hands out in apology. You took them gently. “Ludwig, I want you to tell me when they’ve been happening. These-, well you know what happened just then.”
He looked to the side, his eyes half-closed in thought. “Z-zhey’ve just been happening recently. Vhenever somezhing drops like zhat,” he nodded at the metal case,” or makes a loud noise or somezhing.”
“Anything else?” He didn’t meet your eyes, so you roughly tugged his chin back. “What aren’t you telling me?”
“Nightmares.” His soft whisper was so uncharacteristic of him, it was a broken weak side of him you’d never witnessed before. “Zhey’ve been getting worse lately but because Feliciano sleeps with me, zhe dreams often go away. Zhough, today he’s sleeping vizh his brozher. So I don’t knov...”
Before you voiced your proposal you weighed your options.
A)Let him sleep by himself and let those nightmares assail him.
B)Fine Feliciano and get him to sleep with him.
C)Be bold and offer to sleep with him.
Now before you chose you remembered the very present feelings of heart-flutteriness you had when you were around said German, how his rare smile lit up the rest of your week and how you tried to spend every available moment with him.
With that in mind, you chose C.
“Y-you know, y-you could al-always sleep w-with me?” He stared at you with wide eyes, a blush started from his cheeks and ending on his ears.
“No-not in the pervy kind of way of course! But if it helps you, then....” Trailing off, you made eyecontact with him. “If you can avoid having those dreams by doing something as simple as that, then I don’t see why I shouldn’t help you.”
“Danke.” That one word held so much warmth, tenderness you’d never expected the German to have or at least aim it at you. “Danke.”
You stepped out of the bathroom, one of the hotel’s fluffy towels adoring your damp hair like a crown. “I’m done.” You told Ludwig, wherever he was hiding at the moment. After a couple of curious seconds, you recognised his shape in the armchair that stood against the far wall.
He had a red hoodie on, the hood pulled up so that his face was shadowed. He probably couldn’t see you and seeing as he hadn’t stirred when you’d talked you figured he was asleep or
something. Suddenly your ear picked a light sound up, a quiet drone in the background amidst the buzzing and whirring of the lights and various other technological contraptions.
Music, you now identified the sound as music and slowly you came to sit in front of Ludwig, raising a hand on front of his face. He jumped spectacularly, clutching his heart as he caught his breath. “Don’t do zhat!”
“Whaaat? You mean jump you?” You grinned maliciously, chuckling as his reaction. “Ja.” He replied bluntly, taking off the headphones. A blast of music came free and you smiled as you recognised Bach’s cello suites.
It was strange to see him in such a casual get-up, you didn’t even know he owned loosefitting clothes like the hoodie and the slacks he was now wearing. “Why so loud?” You inquired, you’d thought that he of all people would know not to blast music like that; it had a bad effect on your eardrums after all.
“Blocking out existence for a vhile.” He muttered as an answer, turning the music off and placing the MP3 back in his orderly bag.
“So... to bed zhen?”
The question inflamed your cheeks even though you knew it wouldn’t be like that at all. Mind you Ludwig was looking pretty flushed as well. He slicked back his damp hair from the shower he’d taken before you and waited for you to get into bed first.
After clicking off the light, he slid into the double bed with you, somewhat awkward. The two of you were just lying on your backs, not knowing what to do or what to say. “If-if I notice you’ve got a bad dream, I’ll wake you up okay?”
“Zhat vould be good, ja.” He answered stiffly, his jaw set as he reigned in his desire to hug you to sleep. Feeling similar to him, you gingerly reached out and wrapped your arms around him, blushing terribly.
Tensing for a split second he radiated heat then he placed his hand on your back, bringing you closer. “That better?”
He nodded at your question, his tired eyes already drooping. The racing of your heart slowed to a normal one and whilst his head rested against your shoulder, he could feel the beat against his own.
The soft rhythm was succeeding in lulling to a horror-less dream, warmth and love being the two foremost elements in it.
Languidly, you brushed some hair from his forehead. Even though he was big and strong, with more than enough power to protect himself from bodily harm, he still looked so vulnerable with his eyes closed.
Something swelled up in your chest at that moment. Something warm, something glowing and something you wanted to keep and nurture, direct the feeling at the man that lay in your arms and let him bask in it.
It was the feeling you called love.