Of all the whimsical things Lukas kept in his house, it was the thing hardly anyone knew about. Well, they all knew about the hairpin, some knew about the countless old books and the odd little trinkets, and some nations had even been lucky enough to hear him play his violin. But scarcely any of them knew about Bunny.
Now, Bunny was old; his head was too heavy and flopped over when he was sitting, he had big droopy ears that were almost as big as him, and Lukas had lost count of the number of times he’d had to sew a scuffed button eye back on, or stich up a tear in an arm or leg. Nevertheless, out of the countless toy animals he had been given, Bunny always remained the favourite.
Those who had seen him didn’t know what to think of him. Some thought he was cute. Others found it strange that a man of Lukas’ temperament should be so attached to such an old toy.
Matthias certainly thought it was adorable that his friend loved Bunny so much, and had made it a personal tradition of his to give the Norwegian a plush animal doll for Christmas each year, and over time Lukas had amassed quite an impressive collection. However, Bunny always remained his personal favourite.
None of the other Nordics could figure out what made the saggy, off-pink rabbit so dear to him. Matthias had never found an ideal moment to ask, and Tino was either too polite or too scared to. Emil had given up on trying figuring out his brother’s mind a long time ago, and Berwald probably didn’t care.
It was on one particularly blustery evening when Matthias finally asked. He’d been staying the night with his friend; his flight back to Copenhagen had been cancelled due to the weather, and rather than let him pay for a hotel, Lukas had invited him back to his home. The Norwegian was in a rare good mood, and had Bunny perched on his lap, his chin on its floppy old head as they watched TV together. Matthias had been staring curiously at the Bunny for a good time.
“What?” For once, his tone wasn’t abrupt.
“Why are you, y’know, so attached to that old bunny, even though you have tonnes of other ones?”
Lukas looked up from the TV, giving Matthias a quizzical look. “You mean I’ve never told you?”
“Not that I can remember.”
Lukas was mildly surprised. He leaned forward, loosely cradling Bunny in his arms. “Alright then. Let me tell you a story.”
“You may not remember this but, when my country was invaded during the war, I was evacuated to England…”
Lukas’ mind was a blur as he lay in bed thinking, staring mindlessly at the ceiling above. He knew where he was, it was more of a question of how he came to be secreted away there. He could faintly remember being woken up at night, or early morning, he wasn’t paying attention to the time, and being told by ashen faced officials that he had to flee, to a “safe” place. He wasn’t told where, just told to pack, after which he was bundled away on a ship, and the rest was a confused mess of sailing, growing weaker as his country was fought over. Lukas could scarcely remember arriving in England, let alone being driven to the home of the country's avatar, and being given the awful news the invasion hadn’t been stopped.
That had been almost two years ago. Since then, he’d switched locations from Arthur’s home in London to some long-forgotten village in the middle of a picturesque nowhere, as staying in the city had been deemed too dangerous, especially since other nations had arrived. The other house would have been too small for so many people coming and going, anyway.
Lying in bed, he felt like a ghost, a strange not-quite-there sensation that simply wouldn’t move. Some days, he would feel almost fine, save for that strange light feeling, and had been outside on more than one occasion; be it for a trip into the village or a stroll in the surrounding countryside. Other days, he would stay cooped up in his room, his body aching all over, drifting in and out of fitful sleep. There had been quite a few times he’d stayed in, unable to go out for some reason or another, yet yearning to do something. He just didn’t know what.
He woke up one morning, the sound of rain lashing down on the window echoing through the room. Untangling himself from the many heavy blankets, he crossed the floor to the window, drawing the thick curtains back to reveal the grey countryside outside, rainwater flowing down the driveway in small streams.
Lukas stayed there, absentmindedly staring at nothing in particular, when the door opened softly behind him. He felt the presence of a fellow nation before he heard the voice.
“Ah, you’re up.” Arthur spoke in a tone which immediately told Lukas that he wanted to ask something. “I was going to nip down to the village later. Do you want me to get you anything?”
Lukas was about to say no, when out of the corner of his eye, he saw a brown flash dart across the lawn. It was only a rabbit, but it gave him a small idea.
“Actually, there is something you can get me…”
“I’m really sorry; I couldn’t find anything better…”
“Nei, really, it’s fine.” There was a soft gracious tone in the usually monotone voice.
“If you don’t mind me asking, what is it you’re planning to make?” Arthur knitted his eyebrows ever so slightly, to the point where it was just about noticeable.
A rare hint of playfulness flashed in Lukas’ deep indigo eyes. “You’ll see.”
The eyebrows went from furrowed to raised for a moment. “If you need anything else, don’t hesitate to ask.” He turned and left briskly, closing the door behind him.
The Norwegians eyes began to survey the array of materials he’d been brought once he’d heard the click of the door close. It had been an odd request, considering the fact he didn’t sew as much as the English avatar probably did, judging by the size of his ornate sewing box.
He pulled some of the heavy pinkish fabric to his lap, running a bony finger over its coarse surface. Curtain material, Arthur had said, the only fabric he could find that wasn’t too thick, too thin, mouldy or of sentimental value. Nevertheless, it was still pretty thick, and smelt of damp wood, and the colour was rather faded. Or maybe it had always been washed-out pink.
It wasn’t as hard to cut or sew the curtain fabric as he had initially though it would be. Perhaps years languishing away in the attic of the house had weakened it, or the needles and scissors he was using were unnaturally sharp.
It took a week to finish, mainly because he couldn’t sew as well as he thought he could, and had had a few days where he felt too ill to do anything. He was stuffing the doll with the innards of a few wilted cushions when the English nation entered, eyes widening in a charmed surprise.
“Oh, it’s a little bunny!”
“I couldn’t think of anything to name him, so Bunny sort of stuck. I used to get nightmares frequently both during the fighting and after.” Lukas hugged the doll close, idly fiddling with one of the droopy ears. “I guess having him around made me feel better those nights, so I felt I could never replace him.”
Matthias had managed to stay quiet throughout the story, and now sat curiously gazing at his friend. He broke into a wide smile. “That’s adorable!” His face melted into a more forlorn expression. “Though, I guess I can’t get you any more bunnies now, huh?”
There was a playful twinkle in the Norwegian’s eyes, a smile ghosting his lips. “I wouldn’t say you should do that.”