Request: A mystery story on something that was taken from Finland at a party by a supernatural being, whether he can get it back or not is completely up to the author. Bonus points if Finland treats Halloween as a purely commercial holiday/doesn't know much about it.
Summary: During the annual Nordic Halloween get-together, Finland is cursed. Iceland helps him get through
Warnings: Halloween, so an attempt at mild freakiness. Not much though.
Without fail, the looming austere structure of Norway's fourth favourite residence was chosen, each year, for the Nordic Halloween gathering. It had haunting shadows, creaking floorboards and enough dark corners for a light to hide, unseen by passers-by. It had the perfect atmosphere for their purposes, a night filled with telling unsettling stories and attempting to scare each other witless (it usually failed, since none of the five were particularly creative with psychological terror, preferring to just threaten each other. Mostly, however, due to the basic inability to find things that truly scared immortal beings (the large majority of horror tricks relied on the fear of death, which they simply did not have), they used it as a 'family' gathering, an excuse to spend time together outside of meetings.
As it was, Sweden had scared away two groups of trick-or-treaters just by answering the door, the scary stories had been started and mostly ended in laughter since none of them could finish one without someone questioning something, and a food fight had occurred.
However, something stirred in a dark corner of the unused attic, huge piercing green eyes opening to narrow slits, angered at the noise. It was not used to any kind of noise, having usually inhabited mountains and caves, but this year, it dwelled in what had, at first, appeared to be an abandoned house in a fairly small settlement. It had been sure that its sleep would not be disturbed until the very nails of the house wore and broke from rust.
Shifting, it idly pinpointed the current speaker, a man who spoke plenty, without pause. Smirking, it found the man to be moving, into a different place away from the other men, and it exercised long dormant powers.
Finland sighed, leaning against the counter in the gloomy, dusty kitchen. He was glad that Sweden had remembered to bring cups with them, after last year's fiasco, and he slowly sipped some cold water, mildly surprised at the tap functioning.
He breathed in slightly to calm his nerves - Finland wasn't scared, per say, but... unhappy. He couldn't say all the stories didn't affect him at all, and he consciously tried not to peer anxiously into ominous corners to avoid letting the others know it had got to him, slightly.
He'd never thought much of Halloween. Something America had sprung on them years ago, but recently America had been really getting into it, even though he plainly was terrified at the thought of the day.
Finland supposed it was sort of cute, children pottering around towns to collect sweets, but he did generally observe the whole holiday with disinterest. Sweden and Norway were more into it than him, being the two who'd organised this annual meeting.
Finland shifted nervously. A wave of paranoia enveloped him, and although he quickly shrugged it off, he couldn't dismiss the sudden unease, clutching the plastic cup tighter. He felt like something had... shifted, as if he weren't alone...
An almost-imperceptible breeze twirled about him, before he choked. Dropping the cup, his hands went to his neck as he tried to lift the tight hold he felt there, even though he could see nothing in the room. Finland began to cough, falling to the floor as the stranglehold disappeared, releasing him to breathe again.
He speculated that he must have knocked something loud enough for them to hear, because just after he'd recovered from his coughing fit, Iceland appeared at the door, hesitant.
"You alright?" He questioned, looking worried as he moved to help Finland get up from his sprawled mess on the floor.
'I'm fine', was mouthed in reply. Finland narrowed his eyes in confusion, and tried again, putting more effort into his voice. Still, nothing could be heard. He kept trying for a minute or so, attempting to push through the cloak of silence that had befallen him, but to no avail. He was starting to panic when Iceland reminded him of his presence, patting Finland on the shoulder. He couldn't help, for a moment, setting his stricken eyes on Iceland's in the vague hope that the other nation might be able to help him. Then he calmed himself down, persuading himself it wasn't that bad, ignoring the part of him that was working itself slowly to hysteria.
"Did you lose your voice or something? You were speaking fine earlier..." Finland, at a loss as to what had actually happened, nodded frantically, mimed being sick and hoped that Iceland understood that he wanted to get out of the house.
"Ah! You're ill! Well, I was getting fed up anyway, I'm sure the other three will be fine without us. I'll take you to the airport then." Iceland decided, making Finland feel more relaxed - somehow, he didn't really want to be on his own. He meekly trailed after Iceland to the living room where Norway and Sweden had set about spooking Denmark. (Perhaps a more difficult task than it first appeared) After a quick explanation, the two of them left (accompanied by Iceland’s puffin, disappointed in its futile efforts to act like a zombie bird to scare people), ringing up a taxi. As it left, Finland could have sworn he saw a blood-red eye peer at him through a broken section of the roof, but turned away quickly. The others would be fine, he was sure.
Iceland, Finland had decided, seemed to be somehow in tune with what he wanted. Even when he wasn’t really admitting it to himself – Iceland sat next to him in the taxi, despite Finland trying to persuade himself that he’d be fine alone, without the comfort. He plonked Mr Puffin on Finland’s legs, who – despite being a little disgruntled – allowed the nation to pet him gently, soon drifting off to sleep.
It was somewhat comforting to be in the presence of Iceland, almost as silent as he was now spelled to be. It was completely different to being with Sweden, whose silence was unnerving, preventing Finland from ever really knowing what he thought. Iceland didn’t try to ask questions or make conversation like Finland himself usually did, but it didn’t seem like the island nation had disappeared.
Such was his state of relaxation; he actually mourned reaching the airport, as it meant they had to part ways. Finland carried Mr Puffin until they reached the departures board, after Iceland had persuaded some airline company to fly them to their (separate, Finland sighed) destinations. He then held the bird out to Iceland, expecting the slight weight to be taken from his hands and for the two of them to walk different directions. Instead, Iceland gently pushed the puffin back towards Finland, grinning as he showed the other nation the tickets – both destinations listed as ‘Helsinki’.
Finland narrowly refrained from hugging him there, so he mouthed a thank you with a grateful smile and followed Iceland towards the gate.
“So,” Iceland stated casually, “I think you’ve been cursed.”
Finland blinked. For the past three days of the island nation staying with him, they’d spoken nothing about the enforced silence on him. (Well, even if they had done, Finland wouldn’t have spoken, rather written) It had been far more pleasant than either could have predicted, and both were secretly dreading the time when it had to end as all things must.
He couldn’t help but smile when he thought of how much Iceland seemed to care, covering for him in the unfortunately placed world conference, and taking his phone calls.
Iceland’s question threw him. He knows something must have happened for any sound to be taken from him (he’d found, over the few days, that he made no sound. His footsteps were silent, everything. It was fun sneaking up on people, provided he could run away fast enough), but he can’t remember much from the Halloween night, it having become a haze of being choked then not making noise.
He rose an eyebrow, found a pen and paper that have somehow become commonplace around his house, and wrote, You think so?. Finland shivered slightly as the pen glided noiselessly over the page, but ignored it.
“Yeah. I sensed something strange about that house, and I consulted with Norway, and he thought there was something there as well. He said after we left, some really weird things started happening, so they left too. I think we angered something that was resting in the house.”
‘Oh’, Finland mouthed, trying his best not to look scared. Perhaps, he pondered and wrote on the sheet of paper, Halloween wasn’t quite what he thought it was…
Iceland peered closely at Finland’s rapidly written statement, deciphering it quickly. He’d gotten somewhat used to the other’s handwriting, being the only way for Finland to ‘talk’ to him.
“That’s true, it was Halloween – whatever-it-was was probably restless because of that…” At Finland’s confused look, Iceland continued. “Halloween acts as some kind of spiritual poke, I guess – spirits and demons that would normally ignore humans get agitated, so they can do some hasty things, like the curse you’re under. We’ll just have to go and persuade it to release the curse. Simple.”
Finland prayed it was actually as easy as Iceland believed it would be.
He looked up at the looming house, quietly petrified as to what might be lurking within – it had cursed him once, who was to say it wouldn’t a second time, or even curse Iceland as well? (he ignored the fact that the possibility of the latter occurring was more terrifying to him than the former)
However, even though Finland didn’t think he was making any physical gestures of his fear, Iceland grabbed his hand and led him into the house, quickly making their way up to the attic where Iceland could ‘sense something’.
Finland hoped it wasn’t a malevolent ‘something’, and shakily followed him, granted some courage by the hand leading him, still clinging to his, despite the clamminess Finland knew was there. Once they had reached the attic, Iceland called out in a language Finland had never heard, yet he felt it rattle through his mind as much as his ears, the spiritual undertone of it stronger than anything he had ever encountered, even in his limited experience.
A long while passed in silence, and just when he was thinking about saying something, he felt something shift, and a large, scarlet eye opened only a few metres from where he was standing.
Despite being comfortable in his immortality, the thought still occurred to Finland that this creature, should it wish, could probably mangle his body as if it were jelly. He very much hoped it had plans of a far less macabre nature.
Iceland seemed vaguely relieved at its presence, saying some more in the strange language, gesturing with his hands at Finland occasionally, who did his best to smile and look willing to be there. He assumed that Iceland had made a breakthrough, as he turned with a reassuring grin on his face.
“He’s going to break the curse, just stand there and he’ll do it. He said he was getting a
headache, so he silenced you.” He paused as Finland’s expression wobbled, belying some of his fear. “Don’t worry, it shouldn’t hurt like casting it did – apparently he’s practised his magic skills since he cursed you.”
Finland wasn’t quite sure if that was supposed to be comforting or not, but hesitantly stepped forward anyway, severely missing holding Iceland’s hand as he let go, leaving him alone to have the curse removed. He didn’t really want to be stuck with writing and hand gestures for the rest of his life, and it looked like the only option.
It appeared to move, dust in the room shifting slightly before he felt some kind of ethereal wind swirl around him violently, yet the room was silent. Some shatteringly loud words vibrated within his skull, causing him to try to lift his hands to block the noise, despite it resonating from his bones rather than from the atmosphere, yet he found that he couldn’t move.
Then, after what seemed like years but must have been only minutes, it all ended. He was dropped to the floor, released from his prison, with a thud. He moaned from the pain in his body, mostly in his head, and he pressed at his temples to try and alleviate it. It took several seconds for Finland to realise that he’d made a noise, by which time Iceland had hugged him, murmuring apologies as if he’d known how much it would hurt.
He speculated that he must have blacked out, because he found himself in a strange room, yet somehow familiar. His dilemma was somewhat resolved by the arrival of Iceland, glass of water and tablets in hand. He was quick to place them on the table once he realised that Finland had awoken, seeming quite relieved.
“Are you alright?” Finland nodded after a pause – most of the pain had faded, but it wasn’t completely gone. Iceland smiled, sitting on the bed. “That’s good. You looked awful. You have no idea how much trouble I had getting you through the airport!”
Finland grinned wryly, leaning over to take a sip of the water, glad for its cooling effect on his throat.
“T-thanks,” he croaked, having not spoken for four days, then coughed. His voice was still husky and quieter than usual, but at least he could speak. “Thanks for taking care of me.” He didn’t mention how the time he’d spent with Iceland had caused some kind of feelings to surface, or how he was trying not to think of how life would go back to normal after this. He had found that he enjoyed the company, and wasn’t quite sure if he wanted to go back to his relatively solitary life.
Iceland murmured something about it being fine, but Finland couldn’t quite focus on it as the island nation leant closer, sweeping a hand through Finland’s hair almost without thought. Almost – there was a slight hesitancy in Iceland’s actions, so Finland swept forward and gently kissed him, smothering any doubt he might have had as Iceland responded.
He never thought a curse might lead to something like this.