The 'Hug'

Chapter 5

Reaching his room, Matthew shifted his hold ever so slightly on his sleeping brother to be able to pull out the card to open his door. Immediately he was greeted by his polar bear, curious to know who was visiting him.

"Kuma, its Canada. Get off the bed." Matthew said, the bear complying with the urgency in his master's voice, even if it was still softer than the one's in his arms. Matthew laid Alfred on the bed as Francis and Arthur caught up to him, catching the door before it shut and locked on them.

"Matthew…" Arthur said, unaware of how strong the other could be when necessary. But he and Francis were both secretly thankful that the other North American had taken the initiative and carried the unconscious nation. Arthur was well aware of his difficulty in carrying Alfred, who was heavier than he looked, missing those brief moments when he'd been able to easily to do so with a tiny colonial America. And he was certain Francis wouldn't have been able to handle that on his own much better either.

"Calm down Mathieu, I'm sure he just needs to sleep off whatever it is that's ailing him." Francis said, yet again preferring the French pronunciation of the other's name. "You got him here safe and sound so take a deep breath." He said, placing an arm around Matthew's shoulders that the other nation didn't feel the urgent need to cast off like the other times Francis' hands had wandered. Instead, he let himself lean into the comfort of his other former caretaker as he was guided to one of the seats.

Arthur meanwhile was struggling to pull Alfred's beloved bomber jacket off of him, all the time worried over whether or not his actions the other night had anything to do with the state of Alfred. "Francis, can you help me with the lump over here?" Arthur called out, the other nation sensing another meaning behind the request. Patting Matthew on the shoulder once more, Francis walked over to help gently lift Alfred up to take his jacket off to make him more comfortable.

"What is ze matter zat you did not want Mathieu to know?" Francis whispered, looking over to see Kuma pawing at his owner's leg and effectively taking his attention off of them.

"I'm worried about what he said. A regular headache doesn't wipe someone out like this – especially him." Arthur said as he worked to take off Alfred's more bulkier articles of clothing to let him rest easy. "I doubt he took anything for it either."

"Oui, but I can't imagine where he picked up that stubbornness…" Francis said with a smirk to Arthur, hoping to ease a little of the other's tension.

"Matthew, can you go and get us a soda from the vending machine? We should try and coax him into taking some medicine and you know how difficult that can be." Arthur said, Matthew nodding in understanding.

"I've got a bottle of stuff in my bag that he can use, eh. Since we were both getting those headaches – that time of year after all for migraines." Matthew said, getting up from his seat to rifle through his bathroom supplies. "Winter was particularly brutal this year and I'm not surprised he was a little wiped out. We spent at least a full two weeks at my place trying to get some warmth back into us…" Matthew said with a small smile, looking ready to start in on the predictable questions about what might be wrong with Alfred to the other two in the hopes they'd give him an easy answer.

"I'm sure he nearly ate you out of house and home in that time, too." Arthur said as he looked to Matthew. "But he's nearly impossible to wake up on a good day, so don't worry. Some medicine and some sleep and he'll be annoying us all again in no time. Do you have a cup in here we can use?" Arthur asked, getting up from beside Alfred to walk over to the coffee maker in the room.

"Why would we….oh, yes…I think that is a good idea." Francis said as he figured out Arthur's plan. "You often had to resort to putting medicine in sweet things for him when he was younger, no?" he asked with a chuckle, looking over to Matthew. "You could be just as bad, you know. If there wasn't a promise of something maple afterwards, heaven forbid I try and get you to listen." Francis said, amused by the light blush that was growing on Matthew's cheeks as the discussion turned to more embarrassing child stories of himself and Alfred. Stuttering out a denial of anything like that, Matthew headed out the door to go get the asked for drink.

As soon as the door was shut, Francis rounded on Arthur. "Alright mon lapin, what else is there for me to know? And don't deny that you've something else you're worrying about. You look downright guilty." He said, Arthur sighing heavily.

"Even if we get him to take some medicine, it might not do anything for him." Arthur said, running a hand through his perpetually disheveled-looking hair. Francis looked confused, his expression pressing Arthur for more answers.

"Well then, as much as he would dislike it, we can bring him to a hospital." Francis suggested. "Surely you have one nearby staffed with those aware of who we are in case something like this happens."

Arthur continued to pace, looking more frustrated. "Yes, but that might not do any good either." He said, earning himself a frustrated sigh from Francis.

"Arthur, why not? What is going on?" Francis asked, getting up from his seat near Alfred to walk over to Arthur. The other man looked like he was struggling with whether or not to confide in the other nation. He mumbled something behind his hand, causing Francis to furrow his brow in confusion. "Come again mon ami?" he asked, receiving another mumble. Throwing his hands in the air at Arthur's behavior he was about to just return to checking over Alfred when Arthur nearly shouted, "I cursed him, alright?" he said, taking deep breaths to try and calm himself.

"What? Why? When?" Francis said with wide eyes. "What sort of curse?" he asked again, looking back to the sleeping Alfred.

"It was just supposed to make him unable to speak for the day; same as a case of laryngitis. I'd had enough of his complaining yesterday." Arthur said, defending himself. "But I only got partially through the spell before Matthew interrupted and I didn't try again. I didn't think it taken hold and I certainly didn't expect this." He said, gesturing to Alfred.

"Well then what do you suggest? We at least should tell…" Francis began, but the opening of the door interrupted his sentence.

"I got a regular coke bottle. That should be good, right?" Matthew said, putting his armful of snacks and drinks on the table. Seeing the other two eyeing the amount of stuff he brought back, he shrugged. "In case he wakes up. I know I'm being optimistic, but he's always hungry and I think he didn't stuff his pockets this morning with food like he normally does." He said, Arthur and Francis nodding in agreement at Matthew's foresight. Arthur took the medicine bottle and began to try and crush a couple of pills to mix with the coke.

"Don't tell Matthew." Arthur whispered to Francis, the other man looking less than pleased but complying with the other's wishes at least for the moment. Instead he stood out of the way and let Arthur try and fix what he believed was the result of his cursing. He walked over to Matthew who had picked up his bear and was sitting next to Alfred, sitting on the edge of the bed as they waited for Arthur to finish up.

"There. That should do it." Arthur said, standing alongside the bed to try and wake Alfred again. Gaining only a brief facial twitch, he resorted to trying to get him to drink the soda and medicine while still mostly asleep. Spilling a little as Alfred coughed at the drink, he downed the rest of it easily, blinking awake. "Easy there love, don't choke on it." Arthur said as Alfred finished. "You gave your brother and I quite a scare. Francis too." he said, Alfred lazily looking around at the others near him.

"You doing okay now Al?" Matthew asked as he leaned closer to his brother. "Don't worry, we gave you something for the headache. You should be able to just sleep it off." He said, but Alfred didn't look as relieved as Matthew had expected. He looked as though ready to try and sit up but sleep appeared to win out. One final movement had Matthew ending up as a substitute for a teddy bear.

"Oh hon hon hon…I think he just wants a cuddle. Stay with him and relax Mathieu." Francis said with a smile on his face as Matthew resigned himself to having to cuddle with his brother. But it wasn't like such a situation hadn't occurred before when one of them was ill or there had been a marathon of scary movies. "Arthur and I will leave you two to nap and we'll make sure Feliciano hasn't spread the word of Alfred's demise." He said with a smirk.

"Not that Alfred wouldn't mind the chance to make a dramatic return to the world stage. The git does love attention, doesn't he?" Arthur remarked, still a little worried. But Matthew laughed along with him and readjusted as much as he could within his brother's hold. He seemed content enough and closed his eyes, Arthur and Francis quickly and quietly leaving the room.


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