It was a cool spring morning and the first rays of the rising sun were warming the darkened sky. Besides the faint chatter of a few birds through your closed window, the world was silent and peaceful and still. Until your alarm went off, that is. The shrill, high sound blasted through your bedroom and hammered into your skull.
You fumbled for the off switch before simply ripping the plug out of the wall. “Stupid alarm clock, stupid mornings, stupid Ludwig.” You muttered darkly. Your voice was muffled by the pillow you had buried your head in.
You felt horrible. Your stomach ached, your throat was dry and burned ached with every breath. Even the slight sliver of light trickling through the gaps in your curtains sent shock waves of pain into your skull.
Getting up for your weekly training sessions with the Axis was hard enough on a regular day. Today, when you were sick and miserable, the very idea of it made you want to cry. You weren’t sure why you had to train so often, as you’d complained to Ludwig every single week. It had been a long time since WWI, when the Axis was formed and currently the world was at peace and was likely to remain that way. When you said so to the German, Ludwig always just scowled at you and told you to run faster.
You weren’t going. Not in this condition. Although it was irritating and difficult, you usually kept up just fine during the workouts. That didn’t meant you like them, but you could do them. Today you’d have no chance. Even Italy would smoke you.
You knew that you should probably call and tell Ludwig that you couldn’t make the training session, but you were a bit afraid of what he would say. Every time someone tried to skip out on training, he went ballistic. It was obviously very important to him, and you could understand that but that didn’t mean you had to like it too.
“Time to suck it up.” You croaked, but when you rolled over and tried to get out of bed a wave of nausea hit you and you curled up into a ball, waiting for it to pass. Ludwig would just have to wait. After a few minutes the nausea had passed, but by that point you’d fallen asleep.
When you next awoke, it was to an angry pounding at the front door. You whimpered, feeling even worse than before. You already knew who was at the door and that he wasn’t going to be happy. You tried just curling under the covers and willing him to go away, but it quickly became clear that Ludwig wasn’t subject to your mental whims. The longer you made him wait, the angrier he was going to get.
After a few minutes, you finally managed to drag yourself out of bed and stumble to the door. Your hair was a mess, your pajamas were rumpled, and you hadn’t showered yet, but you couldn’t bring yourself to care.
As soon as you opened the door, Ludwig was storming inside. Even in your miserable state, you couldn’t help but admire him. His blue eyes were blazing, blonde hair slicked back as always. The sharp line of his jaw was clenched. He towered over you. He towered over everyone.
“Frau.” He glowered. You didn’t bother with your usual sass, you just stared sullenly back at him. “You aren’t even dressed yet. You have not responded to my text messages. Are you trying to skip training?”
“I’m sick.” You told him, leaning against the wall for support. If he’d been paying more attention the the dark circles under your eyes, sweat gathering at your collar and the sickly pallor of your skin, he might have believed you. Instead, his vision was tinted by irritation.
Ludwig scoffed, managing to make even such a rude and dismissive gesture attractive. “I do not believe you, (name). You are just like Italy, always trying to get out of training. You have pretended to be sick in the past and you were lying.”
You sighed. You had pretended to be sick to get out of training before. You’d gone through just about every excuse in the book, so you could see why he’d be skeptical. Still, he must see how terrible you looked. ”I’m not lying. I really am sick this time, can’t you tell?”
Ludwig just crossed his large arms across his chest. “Get dressed, (name).” Irritated, that he didn’t believe you, you spun on your heel and marched towards your room. Instantly, you knew the dramatic movement hadn’t been a good idea when a wave of dizziness hit your vision. You stumbled sideways, black dots swarming your vision. Behind you, you heard Ludwig swear sharply. Just before you collapsed, you felt his arms around your waist and thought ‘Maybe this day isn’t so bad after all’. Then the world fell away.
The next few hours were some of the worst of your life. You drifted in and out of sleep, delirious with fever and yet shivering all the same. No matter how you tossed and turned, you couldn’t get comfortable. Your hair was stuck to your neck with sweat and every muscle in your body ached. The only semblance of relief you got came from Ludwig. He however vigilantly over you, forcing you to drink and putting a cool cloth on your head. He spoke to you in a soft, sweet voice you’d never heard him take before, and although you could never make out the words, it was soothing none the less.
The next time you woke up you felt considerably better. You were still sweaty and gross and you had a headache the size of Texas, but your fever had broken. You glanced at the chair by your bedside and were startled to see Ludwig there. A drop of water rolled off the cloth on your head and onto the bed spread. So he’d really stayed with you all this time? You blushed, partly from embarrassment and partly from pleasure.
As if he could sense you looking, Ludwig’s eyes flickered open a moment later. When he saw that you were awake, he jerked upwards and rushed to your side. After removing the cloth and checking your temperature, he just stared at you. Finally you weakly joked “Told you I wasn’t faking.” You’d meant it to be light hearted, but Ludwig’s face instantly became stricken.
“I am sorry, Liebling. You do not know how it felt to watch you collapse like that.” He ran a hand absently across your forehead, which was still damp from the wet cloth.
“It’s okay. It’s not like I haven’t lied about it in the past to try and get out of training.” You grinned up at him and he rolled his eyes. “Does this mean that I don’t have to train tomorrow?” You asked, eyes trained on Ludwig hand.
He followed your gaze and jerked his hand away, blushing. “Of course not! I expect to see you at 5:00 am sharp tomorrow.” His stern tone trailed off into a worry again.”Unless, of course, you are still feeling ill.”
After checking your temperature one more time, he turned to leave. When he was standing in the door frame, he stopped, turning to you with a wicked smirk. You blanched, thinking you would have expected to see a look like that on Gilbert, not Ludwig. “Oh, by the way Frau. Did you know that you talk when you sleep?”
You went beat red. “N-no. What did I say?” Ludwig just smirked again and left the room.