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Without Victory

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Finland sits waiting, pretending he can’t hear the shouting in the next room. The answer will be either yes or no: the people of Sweden will aid him, or they will not. Sweden is likely sitting to the side, listening as well. No one will listen to him if he speaks; it is not exactly a secret what he and Finland – legally, Messrs. Oxenstierna and Väinämöinen – are to each other.

He waits, and waits more, drinking cup after cup of coffee; finally Sweden slides out of the room, closing the door silently behind himself, and makes his way over, folding up in a chair beside Finland. “’m sorry. For th’wait.”

“If it’ll help me stay out of Russia’s clutches, I don’t mind.”

Sweden lowers his eyes and sets his hands over Finland’s, wrapped around the mug of coffee. He takes a sip, sliding his fingers between Finland’s, then takes the cup and sets it on the table so they are holding hands. “Y’know what the answer’ll be.”

Finland’s stomach freezes in sudden shock. “No,” he whispers, protest, denial. “No, no, not again. Not ever again, Sweden, I won’t go, I’ll fight until I’m dead if I have to I won’t go back to that I won’t don’t let me Sweden –”

Sweden is holding his hands so hard his bones hurt.

“Can’t. Th’boss. But –” The corner of Sweden’s mouth tilts, very nearly a grin by his standards. “Can give m’wife gifts.”

Oh, Finland breathes, suddenly warmed. Not completely deserted, only relegated to unofficial channels.

 

 

It takes him a few hours for it all to sink in properly. By the time it does, the meeting is already over, the official announcement no different from Sweden’s prediction, and Finland and Sweden have already traveled out to their house in the country. Finland starts packing to leave almost immediately.

Sweden watches him, looming in doorways anxiously even after Finland tells him it’s all right to go work on those half-constructed bookshelves sitting upstairs. Eventually Finland tires of it and lets Sweden help him pack. If he can’t fuss he’ll just get upset and loom more and be so distracted he burns lunch. Finland expects to be hungry soon enough, and so sees no point in skipping meals when it’s not necessary.

Sweden helps him pack for much fighting and for the winter, which is looking to be colder than it’s been in a long time. Finland’s bag, when they are done, is heavy but not unbearably so, designed for long treks and longer waits.

They cook together, and Sweden in an unusual fit of clumsiness cuts his finger with the knife. Finland bandages it and kisses it better, although where he kisses it better is not all that close to Sweden’s finger.

Finland leaves soon after to take a boat out to his home, and on his way off their property, he looks back. Sweden is still standing in the door of their house, tall and handsome and too-present, and Finland only wishes they could make war together.

 

 

 

His own commanders put Finland on sniper duty, which he does, gladly. He almost-dies a few times, shot by counter-snipers, but nations don’t die easily, if at all. So long as someone manages to get him out of the cold and start feeding him he survives. Among the men, who don’t know what he is, he develops a bit of a reputation of his own, though his surname doesn’t hurt that. It helps a little that he feigns tone-deafness and a poor voice; in reality he is subject to neither fault.

Every so often he manages to receive packages labeled as being from a B. Oxenstierna; he gets some invasive questions about that – How does a guy like you get to know someone with that kind of name? – but he manages to pass it off as being from a friend, and handing out the treats that Sweden sends does a lot to silence the questions.

Mostly he sits in the snow, waiting for Soviet soldiers to pass into his line of sight. Russia is not the only nation beloved of General Winter, and Russia’s boss is an idiot; he has sent southern troops. Finland waits, still and silent, and thinks that come spring, the fields will be green with spilt blood. If there will be anyone left to farm them.

 

 

 

Despite their tactics, despite the cold, despite Soviet stupidity, Finland and his people must sue for peace. They lose their industry, their best farmland, their heart. During the talks he gets into a physical fight with Russia, who proceeds to break his arm and ask, smiling blankly, if Finland would like to join with him again; they had so much fun together back then.

Finland says several unprintable things and goes to get his bone set.

 

 

 

Once the peace brokering began, Sweden closed up the house outside Stockholm and went to the one near Helsinki, thinking that Finland would come back there after the talks were over.

He was right. He’s in the middle of preparing dinner for two – always for two; he always wants to have a meal on hand for when Finland eventually returns – when the door clicks open. When he looks back it’s Finland, pack on his back, wrapped up against the weather, gun strapped to his back. His coat is a little dirty, but mostly just white, shockingly so.

“You’re here,” Finland says, sounding a little wondering. Sweden sets down the cooking spoon that was in his hand, turns down the stove, and takes the few steps to bring them face-to-face.

He wants to catalogue the changes to Finland’s body, to remap his skin, but Finland has other ideas, taking hold of Sweden’s shoulders and yanking him forward into a kiss. Sweden, surprised by the sudden fierceness of the gesture, has to catch himself on Finland, hand landing on the scratched worn barrel of the gun; his palm freezes to it, counterpoint to the devouring intensity of Finland’s mouth.

Finland wasn’t this aggressive before the war, but then, before the war he had not come so close to victory against Russia that he could taste it, only to have it bled out of him. Before the war Sweden had not stood neutral against him in a war of self-defense, unable to offer enough aid to change the conflict. Before the war Finland did not have the resources to bring invaders to their knees without their willing –

Sweden, gasping against Finland’s mouth, tastes blood and snow as he pulls away and sinks to the floor, burying his hands into the folds of Finland’s clothing, setting his mouth to Finland’s cock, long slow strokes of his tongue and his lips, hand wrapped around the base.

Finland doesn’t last very long. Sweden, still kneeling on the floor, starts to slowly undress him, buttons and zippers and layers coming unwrapped from around Finland’s body until by the time he’s approaching entirely unclothed he’s hard again.

Before Sweden can move to let Finland start fucking his throat, though, Finland grabs him by the collar and hauls him to standing, kisses him distractedly, fumbling at Sweden’s waist. Sweden helps him, ends up sliding their erections together, Finland’s hand over his setting the pace as they breathe into each other’s skin.

Finland smells of sweat, water, sex, blood. Sweden doesn’t know whether the blood is Finland’s or some anonymous Soviet soldier’s. He comes thinking of a red smear of Russian blood against Finland’s lips, in his hair.