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[APH] Family Secrets 2/4

In the end, they all went to Denmark's house. He actually remembered he had company long enough to get them settled in before going off to do who-knew-what (probably drinking). The others were used to this, and Scandia didn't comment one way or the other. Technically, this visit was the most time he had ever spent with his two older son since anyone in the family could remember, so it wasn't like they had a close relationship or anything.

It was sometime after midnight when Denmark got home, and he assumed that the others would have all gone to bed before he got back. So, he was somewhat surprised to find that Norway was still up and sitting on the couch in the living room. There was only a single small lamp on the room, and the dim light only served to heighten the almost unearthly quality that Norway had a times. He did not have his usual emotionless mask, either; instead he looked sad, almost haunted. He was wearing a large white sweater that was slipping down a little off of one shoulder, and that also heightened the look of vulnerability. In other words, nothing about the scene was normal.

"Nor?"

At the sound of Denmark's voice, Norway tensed briefly, and then relaxed again, his face assuming its usual non-expression. "Oh, it's you."

It may have surprised anyone who didn't know the family that well, but Denmark was capable of being serious when a member of his family was in trouble. He wasn't the oldest brother for nothing, and anyone who hurt one of his little brothers would regret it. And, as dense he might seem sometimes, Denmark could tell that something was wrong. "Are you all right?"

Norway refused to look at Denmark, keeping his gaze focused on the wall. No expression could be seen on his face, and his voice, when he spoke, was the usual monotone. "Yes . . . I just couldn't sleep."

Denmark crossed the room to stand in front of Norway. He reached out his hand, and placed it under Norway's chin, forcing the smaller man to look up at him. "Norge, I know something's wrong."

Norway smacked Denmark's hand away, and turned back towards the wall. "You don't know anything," he said. "Now, please, leave me alone."

Denmark reached from him again, and again Norway slapped his hand away.

"Norge-"

"You're just like him. You can't take no for an answer. Why can't you just leave me alone?" By this last question, Norway was no longer able to keep the emotion out of his voice. He backed up against the back of the couch, and with his usually emotionless mask gone, he was obviously frightened.

By this point, there could be no doubt that something was wrong, but Denmark still had no idea what. Which is probably why his next move was the wrong one (again). He once again reached out towards Norway. This time, Norway made no move to stop him, and Denmark was able to put a hand on the smaller man's shoulder.

"Don't touch me." The words were normal enough, but the tone was off. For one thing there was noticeable emotion in his voice, for another that emotion was fear. Fear was visible in his eyes as well.

By this time, Denmark was starting to get even more worried. He couldn't remember Norway ever having acted quite like this before, or at least not since a long time ago. And he couldn't think what might have happened to cause it, either. Then, he saw something that made him really worried. Where the sweater had slipped down off of Norway's shoulder, Denmark could see a bruise shaped like a handprint. There were anger simmering now under the worry; he knew what a bruise like that meant. "Who did this?" Once again, he forced Norway to look at him. "Norge, who did this?"

Norway closed his eyes, to hide any emotion that may have been in them, but he still seemed frightened. He did not answer Denmark's question.

There was no one in the house except for their family, and Denmark didn't think that Norway would have left the house that evening. But, he also couldn't believe that a member of their family would do this. He did briefly wonder if it might have been Sweden; after all, Sweden had attacked Norway during the Northern Wars. But those wars were over years ago. The family spent too much time together now, for something like this to have gone unnoticed, but then, Norway had been acting strange since Scandia had arrived. And that was when the pieces fell into place.

"Norge, did our father hurt you?" Denmark asked.

"Yes," Norway whispered. He still kept his eyes closed, refusing to look at Denmark.

Denmark released Norway, and turned to leave the room, his anger taking him over completely. He was going to get his ax, and go order Scandia out of his house . . . Or maybe he would just kill Scandia for what he had done to Norway. Before he could actually leave the room though, a noise behind him made him stop. He turned around and saw that Norway was crying. Denmark quickly walked back to the couch, and sat down beside Norway, pulling the smaller man into his arms. His anger would have to wait until later; right now, Norway needed him.

Norway tensed at first when Denmark touched him, but he gradually relaxed in the larger man's embrace. There was no point in worrying about looking in weak in front of someone who already knew just how weak he had been. He knew that in the morning, the others would find out as well, and he would have to deal with their contempt, especially once the whole truth came out, and they knew just how much of a freak of nature he was. But for the moment, he was unable to stop the tears, and he hid his face against Denmark's shoulder, and just let out all the tears that he had been holding in since Scandia had come back into their lives.


They were still sitting on the couch the next morning when Sweden and Finland came downstairs. Norway had worn himself out crying, and was now sleeping, his head resting on Denmark's shoulder. There were tear-stains on his face. Denmark was holding him protectively, and had stayed up all night watching over him. When he saw Sweden and Finland, he gestured for them to be quiet, and then carefully stood up, and laid Norway gently down on the couch. Then he walked over the where Sweden and Finland were standing.

"Is Norja alright?" Finland asked.

Denmark shook his head, and lead the other two into the kitchen so they could talk without disturbing Norway. Before he could tell the other two what he had learned the night before, they were joined by Iceland and Sealand. It appeared that Scandia might be sleeping in that morning.

"Island, Sealand, I have to ask you a couple of questions," Denmark told the boys as they entered the room. Something had occurred to him the night before, while he had been watching over Norway. If Scandia had been hurting Norway, and had probably been doing so before, then it was possible that he might have hurt the boys as well.

Sweden and Finland exchanged concerned looks. (Although only Finland was able to understand that Sweden's expression indicated concern; he was only one capable of interpreting Sweden's expressions, which always looked like the same "scary" expression to anyone else.) They both wondered what Denmark needed to ask their son about, but they were still in the dark about what was going on.

"Has Scandia behaved in any way that made you uncomfortable around him?"

"We haven't even been alone with him," Iceland answered. "Noregur was probably afraid one of us would take his position as Scandia's favorite." The brothers still hadn't made up after their quarrel the night that Scandia's visit had been announced. They had basically been avoiding each other ever since, at least, as much as they could when the entire family was together.

"Why are you asking them this?" Finland asked, although by this point, both Sweden and Finland were beginning to suspect what was going on. They had all seen the signs of what was going on between Scandia and Norway, but none of them had paid attention.

"F'ther w's ab'sing, N'rge, w'sn't he?"

"Yes. How could we not have noticed? This has been going on while we've all been together! It has been going in our houses! We should have seen something."

There was silence, as they all realized the signs they had missed: Norway's reluctance to talk about anything involving Scandia, the way Scandia was always around Norway, the fact that Norway had not wanted Scandia to come to his house, and the fact that Norway had actually shown fear or apprehension when Scandia was around or even mentioned. The signs had all been there, but none of them had seen.

They were all jolted out of their self-recrimination when they heard a cry from the other room. They rushed to the living room, where they discovered that Scandia had come downstairs while they were all in the kitchen. Even having guessed what was going on did not prepare them for the sight that met their eyes. Norway was still laying on the couch, but he was now awake and struggling to get away from Scandia, who was on top of him and pulling at his clothes.

Denmark immediately crossed the room and pulled Scandia off of Norway. "Get away from him!"

Scandia seemed unconcerned with his enraged eldest son. "My relationship with Norge is none of your concern, Danmark." His gaze returned to Norway, who was now sitting up, huddled in the corner of the couch, as if trying to disappear. "If the little freak wanted out of the relationship, he would have said something years ago."

"You were about to rape him, and you're calling him a little freak?"

"So, you really don't know what the little freak is capable of. I know you used to be married to him . . . and you were as well." At this last, Scandia looked at Sweden, who was still standing by the door, along with Finland and the two kids.

Sweden and Finland were the only ones who realized what Scandia was referring to. It was something was known only to those countries who were magic in one way or another, and those who they were willing to trust with the secret. Finland was one of the magical countries, since he was Santa, and he had trusted Sweden enough to let him in on the secret, but neither of them had really thought about the fact that it might apply to Norway, as well. The spell that allowed two male countries to have a child together was more or less common knowledge. What was not common knowledge was that those countries that were magical automatically had the ability to bear children. It was something that had been kept secret because those who were part of the secret all know what could happen if that knowledge fell into the wrong hands.

"W' d'dn't h've th't k'nd of m'rr'ge," Sweden said. In truth, no one in the family really considered the union between Sweden and Norway a marriage. It had merely been Sweden's way of rescuing his little brother from an abusive union, a rescue that had almost been too late. And now, it seemed that Denmark and Sweden had both failed to save Norway from an even worse abuse.

"Please don't tell them," Norway whispered, fear evident in his tone. It was bad enough that the others knew what Scandia had been doing to him . . . if they found out the rest, he would never be able to face any of them again, especially Iceland.

Scandia took a step towards Norway, and was immediately blocked by Denmark. Scandia once again ignored his eldest son, and although he came no closer, he did keep his eyes focused on Norway. "They wouldn't have to know if had done what I told you all those years ago, and gotten rid of the child."

At this point, Sweden and Finland both left their place by the doorway. Sweden went to stand next to Denmark; the two of them now fully shielding Norway from their father. Finland went over to the couch, and carefully reached out and placed his hand on Norway's shoulder, trying to comfort him at least a little. Norway made no attempt to get away from Finland's touch, but did not really seem to acknowledge it, either. He was looking in the direction of where his father and older brothers were standing, but his eyes were unfocused and he was trembling slightly.

Sealand and Iceland were still standing in the doorway, neither one fully comprehending what was going on. Iceland was old enough to understand a little more than Sealand did, and he at least realized that Norway had not been acting out of jealousy but to keep them safe. But he completely in the dark as to what Scandia was referring to.

Scandia still seemed unconcerned with the attempts of his two older sons to protect their little brother. Unlike most of the world, he was not at all intimidated by Sweden's scariness, which was even more evident than usual due to the anger he was feeling. "You two certainly took your time before deciding to get involved. Neither one of you cared about the little freak before."

"That's not true. If we'd known what you were doing to him, we would have gotten him away from you." For once, the two brothers presented a united front in their defense of their little brother.

"I know more about your history since I left than you might realize," Scandia commented. "I know that he was never anything more to either of you than another piece of land to fight over."

It was the one thing that neither of them could really deny. Scandia's accusation wasn't exactly true, but at the same time, it wasn't entirely false. And their lack of denial sent the message that Scandia must have known it would.

It also provided enough of a distraction that Scandia was able to get past them and reach Norway. He reached out and caressed his son's check, in what would have been taken as a gesture of affection if not for everything that had happened. His words, when he spoke were far from affectionate, though. "You know the truth, don't you? You know that they never cared about you, only about increasing their empires. That is why you never told them the truth about what you were capable of, about how much of a little freak you are. You knew it would have just given them one more thing to use you for. You should have done as I told you and left the kid behind to die on a deserted island."

"He was the only good thing that came out of that." Norway's expression was back to normal, and he spoke in his usual monotone, even though it seemed that there should have been some emotion behind that statement. The others were just relieved that he seemed back to normal, they did not stop to think whether that was a good thing . . . whether his normal behavior had ever been.

And by this point, the rest of the family wasn't willing to let this scene drag on any longer than it already had. They were relieved that Norway seemed to be back to normal, but they were worried that Scandia might hurt him further. Also, everyone except for Sealand had figured out what Scandia was referring to, and who the child he mentioned was. It was after they figured out what Scandia meant that the older brothers realized something else . . . how young Norway had been when he "found" Iceland. In human years, he had been only a little older than Sealand. And that made them even angrier.

Scandia could tell that he had made the rest of the family angry, and so he decided to take his leave while still had the upper hand. "I can see I am not welcome here anymore, so I will take my leave. It was nice seeing all of you again." He turned and walked out, knowing that by leaving rather than being kicked out, he was winning, at least in his mind.


After Scandia left, Norway had gone upstairs, claiming that he wanted to be alone. As this was more or less normal behavior for him, the others didn't really think that much about it. Most of them (meaning, everyone except Denmark) realized that he would need space to deal with everything that had happened.

It was late afternoon before the others decided to check on him. They had had plenty do in the meantime. Sweden and Finland had needed to explain things to Sealand, since he had witnessed the whole scene. Denmark had gone off somewhere for several hours. He later revealed that he had met with his boss to find out if there was any way to declare war on an ancient power. No one ever learned what Iceland had done for those hours, but he had plenty he needed to deal with as well. The kid had just learned more than he was ready to deal with about his origins, and he needed to decide what he could say before he tried to talk to Norway.

Once the others had all dealt with their own issues, they began to worry about Norway, as they all realized that he would need help to deal with everything. So, late that afternoon, they went to check on him and found his room was empty. An envelope addressed to Iceland had been left on the dresser. Next to the envelope lay the cross barrette that Norway always wore. A quick search of the room revealed that he had taken his identification and money with him, but seemed to have left everything else behind.

Iceland picked up the envelope on the dresser and opened it. He glanced briefly at the latter inside, but did not want to read it in front of the others. He ran his fingers over the barrette, but made no more to pick it up, before turning and leaving the room. The others also left the room and went out to look for Norway. They left Iceland back at the house to give him a chance to read his letter, and in case Norway came back, even though they doubted that he would.

Once he was alone in the house, Iceland took the letter into the kitchen. He intentionally avoided the living room, after what had happened to Norway there.

Iceland no longer knew how to think of Norway after that morning's revelations. Was there even a right way to finding out that someone you believed was your sibling was in fact your parent . . . and your sibling? He regretted having been so insistent on learning the truth before Scandia's visit, and he really regretted what he had said to Norway. He could only hope that he would still have a chance to make up for all that. For now, though, all he could do was read the letter that Norway had left for him.

Eirik,

By this point, I guess I owe you an explanation, but after all this time, I cannot tell you in person. You do have a right to know who your parents are, but I did not want what happened to become known. I believed that I was protecting you from the pain the truth would bring, but I may have been protecting myself from the truth just as much. I wanted to believe that you were only my little brother, and not my son, because my admitting the truth, I was admitting what our father did to me.

I do not remember when it started. Unlike Danmark and Sverige, I remember very little from back then. I know that I was alone with father almost all the time after he came back to get us from Germania. I tried to remember more about when it started, so that I could tell you the full story, but most of those years are a blank. I believe that father started it very soon after that, but I don't know for sure one way or the other.

The earliest clear memories I have are after Germania was gone, and Danmark and Sverige were around more. You know this part of the story already, so you know what we did at that point. What you do not know is that part of the reason I joined them in that was to get away from father. It worked, but I still had to return to him in the winter.

Father never stopped what he was doing, and I never found the strength to stop him. He said that I had to submit to him, because mother's death was my fault. I don't think anyone knew how weak I really was back then. Well, actually, there was a woman that still lived near us back then, and I think she knew something, but no one else was aware until today. She was also the only on who knew about you, besides father and I.

Father made sure that no one ever knew about you. He said that it was so no one would know what I was capable of. As soon as he learned, he sent me away, even though it was almost winter, and he said not to come back until after you were born. I don't remember much about that winter, or about the months that followed. I was alone for those months except for the fae. If it was not for them, I doubt that either one of us would have survived, as they were the ones who helped me through your birth.

From the moment you were born, I knew that I could not do as father had commanded and leave you behind to die. I want you to know that, Eirik. Regardless of the circumstances leading to your birth, I never regretted having you. I do regret not having been a better parent to you, though, but I know it is too late to change that, and I know that you won't forgive me for not telling you this before. Please remember, though, that I always loved you, and I always will.

I'm also sorry that I did not have the courage to say good bye to you and the others in person. I cannot stay here, now that they all know the truth. Now that you know how weak I really am, things will go back to the way they were before I got independence. And I know that all they will be able to see anymore is what father did to me. If I can no longer fool them into believing that I am strong, then I cannot stay here.

The letter had been left unsigned, and it seemed almost like it just trailed off, as if maybe he had planned to say something else, but hadn't.


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