Norway sat bolt upright in bed, tilted his head slightly, and listened. The sounds of faint whimpers and crying reached his ears and his eyes widened slightly. Someone must've been having a nightmare. His protective instincts began to kick in and he threw off his covers, running out of his rooms and into the hallway. He would check Sealand's room first. As the youngest in the house, he was more likely to have a bad dream. As Sealand quietly made his way to Sealand's room however, he could tell the tortured whimpers came from Iceland's room. He gasped slightly and ran down to his little brother's room, flinging the door open and rushing in to stand by the side of his bed. Iceland's body was shaking so violently it looked as though he were having a seizure, and his face was drenched in sweat and tears. Norway's heart leaped into his throat and he knelt down, stroking Iceland's hair in a reassuring way.
"Iceland, wake up. You're having a bad dream," he said quietly. Iceland merely whimpered again and curled up in his sleep, his entire form still shaking violently. His blankets wrapped around his legs in a sort of cocoon from his constant movements. Iceland clutched his pillow so tightly his knuckles were white and his nails dug into his palms, drawing blood. Another wave of cold sweat gathered on his body and he gritted his teeth. Norway's eyes widened as Iceland began to sob, more tears spilling through his clenched eyelids. Norway quickly got off his knees and laid next to Iceland, wrapping his arms around him in a comforting embrace.
"Iceland, wake up. It's just a dream. Wake up and everything will be okay," he whispered in his ears, fighting back tears as Iceland's body shook and occasionally jerked viciously with sobs. Upon hearing Norway's words, Iceland gasped and his eyes shot open, instinctively struggling out of Norway's grip. Norway reluctantly let go of him. Iceland laid on his side, facing away from Norway, panting heavily as he tried to calm himself down. The fear from his nightmare was still buried deep inside of him, and he could tell he was close to having a panic attack. His breaths began to come out in short, shuddering gasps and his eyes were wide. Iceland's tears continued to fall as he closed is eyes and tried to calm his breathing.
Norway instantly recognized the signs of one of Iceland's oncoming panic attacks and scooted closer to him, hugging the younger nation tightly. Norway felt Iceland's body relax slightly and he smiled a little when Iceland turned, nuzzling into Norway's chest and returning the embrace.
"I'm sorry that I woke you up," Iceland said, his voice muffled. Norway simply kissed the top of his head and held him closer. "I'm glad you did. I hate it when you go through your nightmares alone," he replied. Iceland swallowed and refused to meet the other nation's gaze, feeling more tears roll down his cheeks. Norway wiped them away with his thumb and tilted Iceland's head slightly so they were looking each other in the eye.
"Tell me what the nightmare was," he said flatly. Iceland's eyes widened and he shook his head slightly, burying his face in Norway's chest again. "N-No...I-I don't w-want to remember it," he whimpered. Norway's gaze softened and he sat them both up so that Iceland was leaning against him. Iceland buried his face in Norway's shoulder and clung to the front of his shirt, resisting the urge to cry again.
"Please tell me, Iceland, It'll help you feel better if you get it off your chest," Norway pleaded, and Iceland could hear the sadness in his voice. Hesitantly, he nodded. Pulling away from Norway, Iceland shifted into a cross-legged position. Norway listened intently as Iceland explained the nightmare, describing the pain and fear he felt in excruciating detail. He flinched as Iceland began crying again and pulled him into a tight hug. Iceland returned it and continued in a quiet voice after his crying calmed.
"A-After a while, I f-found a way out; a window. I...I tr-tried to open it b-but it wouldn't budge! And...and then..." Iceland's voice trailed off and he rested his head on his brother's shoulder. Norway cradled his head in one hand and wrapped his other arm around him, rubbing his back in an attempt to comfort him. Iceland took a shaky breath and continued, his voice shaking.
"Th-Then I looked out. A-All of you were just st-standing there, watching the h-house burn! Y-You knew I was inside, but you d-didn't help me. You started the fire. I-I heard you say, 'It's about time that useless fr-freak died.' a-and then the others st-started laughing!" Iceland began to sob and clutched Norway's shirt in his fists, his body shaking once again. Tears that Norway had been holding back spilled down his cheeks, dampening Iceland's hair, and his grip tightened.
"I would never, ever stand by and watch you die like that. I-I'd never do anything to hurt you," Norway said softly. Iceland sniffed and looked up at him. "Maybe you wouldn't kill me...but y-you all think I'm a freak. I'm nothing like any of you! I-I don't...I don't belong," Iceland murmured. Norway shook his head and wiped the fresh tears from his brother's cheeks.
"You're not a freak, Iceland. You're different, that's true, but we all are. It's what makes us our own people. We don't hate you for who you are, and for God's sake we wouldn't hurt you, let alone kill you! You're our little brother and we...we love you. We won't abandon you," Norway said reassuringly. Iceland smiled as a feeling of peace flew over him as he heard his brother's words, and he nuzzled Norway's shoulder. His eyes drooped closed and he yawned softly, his body relaxing completely. A small smile tugged at Norway's lips and he gently laid Iceland down, pulling his blankets over him. As he turned to leave, he felt a hand grip his wrist, startling him.
"B-Big brother, don't leave me! Pl-Please!" Iceland pleaded, all signs of drowsiness gone from his wide eyes. He didn't care that he was showing weakness by how he was acting. He didn't care that he was being childish by calling Norway 'Big brother'. He was terrified. Norway froze, filled with shock. Had Iceland really called him big brother?! Norway felt Iceland's hand trembling as it gripped his wrist. He looked back to see that Iceland's eyes were once again welling up with tears.
"Please stay. I-I don't want to be alone, Norge. I might have another nightmare," Iceland whimpered. Norway shook himself and smiled gently at his little brother before joining him under the blankets. Iceland let go of Norway's wrist and immediately cuddled up to him, embracing him tightly. Norway smiled softly and returned it. Iceland's drowsiness returned and his eyes began to droop shut. He fought to stay awake, occasionally blinking or shaking his head. Even if Norway was here, he was still scared. He couldn't let himself sleep. Sleep meant more nightmares, and that was a terrifying thought.
"Get some sleep, Iceland. I'll be right here if anything happens," Norway chuckled, kissing Iceland's forehead softly. Iceland hesitated, but soon his strained body relaxed and his eyes drifted close. In no time the young nation was smiling softly, fast asleep. Norway smiled and hugged the boy closer to his chest. He marveled at how peaceful Iceland looked while he slept. It almost made him look younger. Norway closed his eyes and soon fell asleep, the ghost of a smile still lingering on his lips.