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The Secret's in the Soup

Disclaimer: I don’t own Hetalia.

Prompt: England taking care of Prussia (cooking) while Prussia's sick.

Heart in his throat, Prussia jerked awake with a scowl as he attempted to locate the grating sound that had pulled him from his rest. He glanced around the room – England’s bedroom, if he wasn’t mistaken - blearily but couldn't see his mobile anywhere.

...Maybe England and West had a point about how annoying the ringtone was...

As he made to drag himself upright into a sitting position, he heard a soft thump followed by a string of muted curses fit to make a sailor blush when the irritating sound ceased. This was just as well considering the way Prussia's head pounded and how his vision swam a tad; he probably wouldn't have gotten very far on his quest to find his phone anyway.

Hands inching up to massage his temples (how had he ended up like this anyway? He didn't remember there being any alcohol involved, and this seemed different to any hang over he'd experienced before...) the albino strained his ears to catch the side of the conversation available to him.

"Oh, hullo Germany. Yes, he's here. No, he we didn't go drinking this time; he seems to have come down with something so I thought it would be okay to just let him sleep... Oh no, it doesn't seem like anything particularly serious." A pause. "I see. No, no, it's no trouble." A short chuckle. "I'll be sure to keep that in mind. Bye."

There was a little more shuffling through the wall before Prussia could see the man in question, still fiddling with the phone as he almost crashed into the door frame. "You sure you're not hung over?” He asked with a grin. He could feel a tickling sensation in the back of his throat, making his voice a little hoarse when he continued, “And did you trip over the footstool again?"

The blond threw a half-hearted glare at him, grumbling to himself as he walked over to the bedside table. He retrieved a box of painkillers from the bottom drawer, placing it within Prussia’s reach before leaning over and laying a cool hand over the albino’s forehead. An involuntary sigh left Prussia’s lips at the soothing touch.

“I should just get rid of the stupid thing, it’s not as though I really use it. And it looks like you’re running a slight fever.” Retracting his hand – Prussia didn’t whine at the loss of contact, and if he did it was completely manly – England settled on the side of the bed, peering down at him in rare concern. Prussia knew better than to comment on it. “Are you feeling up to eating anything? Or a hot drink maybe? I was just about to make myself some tea.”

“When are you not making tea?” Prussia smirked as England rolled his eyes at the question. “Yeah sure, a drink’d be good. Got anything besides tea though?”

“I’ll make you some hot lemonade for that throat.” England pushed himself off the bed and walked back towards the door. “I’ll be back in a few, but let me know if you need anything.” He paused at the door then, looking back shrewdly over his shoulder to catch Prussia’s eye. “Within reason, that is.”

“Kill joy!” Prussia called to the retreating figure, snickering all the while. Left to his own devices for the moment he took another look around the room, actually taking in his surroundings this time. He’d only been in the room a couple of times before (the sofa in the lounge being the prime spot for passing out on when drunk) and had never really had the chance to look around properly before. Having known England through his pirate days he’d always expected more grandeur, and maybe a few trinkets from his more exciting exploits or photographs littering the rooms as mementoes of the past. The fearsome pirate who once roamed the seas would have loved to show off his spoils at every available opportunity; the often grouchy country of today was a sentimental fool. The house he mostly resided in was fairly plain in comparison, with more books scattered about than anything else.

Prussia had raised Germany in a more Spartan environment, saying that the money for extra amenities would be better spent on supplies or weaponry. Besides, it had taught Germany some discipline. Prussia often thought that perhaps he’d gone a little far on that lesson, looking at how uptight his brother tended to be nowadays. Germany often lamented the loss of Prussia’s attitude back then; his hoarding habits certainly made up for it now.

England carefully edged through the doorway again, a steaming mug held in each hand, and Prussia had to wonder; why was England going out of his way to take care of him? Surely the other nation had business to be attending to (it was a Monday, wasn’t it?), and even so Prussia was pretty sure he’d overstayed his welcome; the plan had been to catch an early flight back to Berlin so that he could have lunch with his brother.

Walking back over to the bedside table, England set down the two mugs and then pulled something out of his pocket. Prussia eyed him, wary and curious, before he realised what it was and snorted. “I’m not a child England.”

England smirked back, taking the thermometer strip out of its packaging and laying it across Prussia’s forehead. “Could have fooled me, with the way you act sometimes,” he murmured absently, counting to fifteen in his head before checking the reading. 38.2 degrees Celsius. He took the strip away, pocketing it again before taking a seat on the side of the bed again. Passing one of the mugs over to Prussia, he continued, “You’ll want to finish that while it’s hot for it to make a difference.”

Taking the mug and lifting it tentatively to his face – it smelled pretty good, actually – he rolled his eyes. “Yes, mother.” He could tell the Brit was anxious for his verdict even as he took his own mug in hand and sipped his tea. Deciding to put the poor man out of his misery, Prussia gulped some of the liquid down; the warm liquid soothing the rawness in his throat. He took another hearty swig, this time focusing more on the taste and detecting… “England… is there rum in this?”

The corner of England’s lip quirked up slightly. “Just a splash, to help it go down.”

People could say what they wanted about England’s food, but he definitely seemed to know what he was doing with his beverages. Next time they drank together, he’d have to see if he could talk England into mixing a few drinks instead of sticking to the beer and cider they usually had…

Before he could suggest this, however, a small yawn made its way out of him. He’d mostly finished his drink by now, and even as he felt his eyes begin to droop the mug was gently taken from his grasp and set aside.

The last thing his mind registered before sinking back into sleep was the sensation of cool fingers brushing hair back from his forehead.

x X x


Prussia vaguely remembered blinking into consciousness a few times; once to sputter a few coughs and gulp down a little water with England’s help, and another where his eyes had slipped open for long enough to see England sat beside him, with a novel in hand.

The next time his eyes slid open, he still felt a little too warm for the time of year it was, but his headache seemed to have taken a little pity on him and had faded somewhat. A few coughs escaped him, and he pulled himself upright and reached for the refilled glass that sat on the bedside table; both of the mugs had been cleared away, though the painkillers were still present. Prussia ignored them for now, brows furrowing in confusion when he realised that his host was no longer in the room. Then his gaze fell to the book he’d seen England holding earlier which lay beside the pills with an askew post-it note carelessly pasted onto it. ‘Popping around the corner for a few groceries; will be back shortly.’ Prussia stared at the yellow note blankly for a moment before snickering; how did England make it seem so formal and casual at the same time?

As he sipped his water, he heard what he assumed to be the front door opening as England returned from his little expedition. Feeling a little steadier than he had before, Prussia swung his feet around to touch the floor and stood up, finally able to stretch out. Grabbing his mobile from on top of a chest of drawers, Prussia checked his messages as he made his way down the stairs and to the kitchen (just a text from Germany checking in on him and an email saying that he had a new comment on his blog) where he found England sorting through the groceries he’d returned with. The albino leaned against the counter and waited to be noticed; it didn’t take long.

“Ah, so you’re awake. Hungry?”

Prussia opened his mouth to reply, but his stomach beat him to it.

“I guess I should take that as a yes.”

Fighting the childish urge to stick his tongue out at England, he sniffed in an England-like manner and said, “Yes, well, I am a strapping young lad after all.”

Right,” was England’s disbelieving response to that, as he tried not to snort in amusement.

Then it struck him; England was going to be cooking for him.

“So, uh, England. What’re you making?” The question was asked with the trepidation one might expect when internationally discussing nuclear warheads. As far as Prussia was concerned, the situation held about the same amount of gravity, too. While he had escaped relatively unscathed that year he’d had some of England’s scones (his taste buds soon revived by excess cake) he hadn’t had any other experience of England’s cooking. Had it not been for the excessive reactions (and premature mourning) on his blog, he’d have chalked the whole thing up to being an accident or something.

“Hm? Leek and potato soup, if that’s alright with you.”

Soup. Well, considering he was ill, he supposed that that made sense. And if he thought about it, you could have soup as a beverage. And as he’d seen earlier, England was clearly good with drinks…
Deciding that he didn’t have all that much of a choice and he didn’t have a great deal to lose he may as well go along with it. Maybe if he watched closely enough he’d be able to tell what was making everyone think that all English food was toxic waste anyway.

…He rather liked the sound of unravelling the mystery that had mystified so many for so long, actually…

“Sure, sounds good. Want me to help with anything?” England glanced around to regard him with wide eyes for a moment. What? He could be helpful when he felt like it! Key words being ‘when he felt like it’, of course, which wasn’t all that often, but that just meant that England should be feeling privileged!

The blond collected himself quickly from his surprise, his thick brows furrowing as he caught sight of the slight shiver that ran through Prussia. “No, take a seat at the table. I’ll bring you a blanket if you want to stay here, but I can manage making the soup.” A pause. “Thank you for offering, though.”

Giving a slightly disgruntled shrug – he didn’t like just watching, it got boring – Prussia complied, sliding into one of the chairs at the table in the adjoining dining room and wrapping up in the blanket that England handed to him. From there he watched as England his chopped vegetables meticulously and added each to his saucepan, not seeing anything wrong with the methodology or the ingredients being used. Finally adding the potatoes and stock to the mix, England covered the pan and gathered the used utensils scattered about the kitchen and took them to the sink to wash.

“Y’know, for how grouchy you usually are, you don’t make half a bad nurse. We just need to get you into one of those dresses and get you to give me a sponge bath~” There was a slightly scandalised sputter from the sink, and Prussia snickered; if he hadn’t been sick he had the distinct impression that he’d have had the sponge England was using on the dishes lobbed at his face. “Seriously though,” he went on, playful tone leaving his voice to be replaced by curiosity, “you didn’t have to stay with me the whole day since I’m sure you had more important things to do.” He didn’t say it, but he was sure that the other could hear the unvoiced ‘so why did you?’ that was attached to the end.

England surveyed him calmly for a moment before turning his attention back to the stove, uncovering the saucepan to prod at its contents with a wooden spoon. “When I spoke to Germany this morning, he said that he’s never really seen you fall ill before; that you’ve tended to him plenty of times but you’ve never needed it.” With his back still to Prussia, he walked over to the fridge and grabbed a few herbs, chopping them up straight into the saucepan and still refusing to look around. “I know what it’s like to take care of someone; had so many come in and out of these doors… If you were at home I’m sure Germany would have been far more attentive than I’ve been today, but I know what it’s like to feel responsible for another and concentrate on trying not to worry them when you’re not even in the state to be doing things for yourself, let alone anyone else. At least with me, that’s one less thing that you have to worry about.”

As England made his way back to the sink, Prussia caught the blond’s eye. England immediately coloured, a flush making its way across his cheeks and up to the tip of his ears as he washed his hands, stammering, “I-it’s not like I’m doing it for you anyway, it’s to make myself feel better since you’ll owe me a favour. That’s all.”

Perhaps it was a good thing that England then chose to fill the kitchen with the noise created by his hand blender; Prussia was still a little lost for words at the explanation, and despite England’s half-assed denials the flush across his face had spread down his neck and was brighter than ever. It allowed them both the time to pretend the conversation hadn’t happened and go back to normal; to keep things from getting awkward. Certainly, it was something that Prussia was probably going to be thinking very hard about when he finally hopped onto his plane home.

Once the soup was suitably pulverised, England quickly dished it up and brought it to the table along with some bread and margarine. He fidgeted in his chair as Prussia inspected his lunch, taking in the aroma as he cut his slice of bread into soldiers. It really didn’t smell bad; perhaps the trick was to keep England away from the oven..? Taking the first soldier in hand, he dipped it into the bowl and then raised it to his lips, taking a bite with mixed feelings of anticipation and trepidation.

It turned out, he needn’t have worried.

The bread seemed to melt on his tongue, strong flavours filling his mouth as he took another bite. Sure, it could probably do with a bit of salt and perhaps he’d been a little enthusiastic with the herbs, but overall the taste was fairly pleasant. And with a bit of polishing…

Prussia grinned. It seemed like he was the only one who knew about England’s potential when it came to the preparation of soups – and despite his earlier wish to get attention by solving the mystery behind the Brit’s food, he was beginning to think that he’d rather keep it a secret. To keep it between the two of them.

“Say, England…”

It was hitting two birds with one stone, really. Prussia would get to keep this brilliant secret all to himself (with the added bonus of getting to eat the soup, of course) and, well, he supposed he could return the favour and keep an eye on England too. Maybe next time he was ill, he could convince the other to actually dress up as a nurse…

The grin turned into a smirk. With benefits like this to look forward to, perhaps getting ill wasn’t so bad after all.

-Hollyrose-

A/N: Ah man, I kind of feel like I lost the plot of this somewhere in the middle and it's rushed towards the end DX I'll have to come back and edit/replace the title once I think of one as well, but since it's so late at the moment I'll have to leave it as it is for now. I haven't really been able to do much writing recently so this feels a bit rusty orz

Anyway, this is a pinch hit for the Secret Santa event happening over at KnightAndPirate over on dArt and the prompts I had to pick from were:

Prompt 1: Prussia/England-Russia gets interested in their relationship (voyeuristic).
Prompt 2: Prussia and England with a horse in America.
Prompt 3: England taking care of Prussia (cooking) while Prussia's sick.
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