APH [Netherlands x Reader] :: Christmas Gifts
"Wow, aren't these just gorgeous!" You dragged Belgium across the mall's corridor, practically sticking your nose against the jewelry store's showcase window. The items in question were a set of beautifully ornate silver rings, with a greenish blue gemstone that linked them together and sparkled under the multicolored Christmas lights that decorated the store. Belgium also leaned down to take a better look at the jewelry in display, widening her emerald green eyes at all the gleaming silver and gold items.
"They're so lovely!" she exclaimed with a dash of amazement in her voice.
"And pricy, too." You looked over your shoulder to find a tall, blonde man with an annoyed look in his eyes which you realized were the exact same color as the gemstones in the ring. "We're on a tight budget here, remember?"
Belgium rolled her eyes. "Don't be such a killjoy, Neth. We don't pay for looking at it."
Seeing you giggle at this statement, Netherlands pressed his lips onto a thin line, obviously cross to the possibilities of spending more money than what was strictly needed. You had decided to do your last minute Christmas shopping with the Tomato Gang, as your best friend Belgium, her brother Netherlands and their pals Spain and Romano were known as. However, once Spain got engrossed in a conversation with Belgium, Romano seized his chance to go and pour his charms over a group of passing girls, so you decided to leave him alone. Now, seeing as your best friend and Spain pretty much acted like a couple, you felt a little uncomfortable in the company of your grumpy Dutch crush. Every once in a while you'd try to start a conversation, but he replied mostly in monosyllables and avoided your gaze every time you did so, so eventually you convinced yourself that silence was indeed gold.
The Dutchman checked his wristwatch. "It's getting late and we still have to buy most of the gifts. We should get going."
Belgium pouted. "Aww, I really wanted to see the rest of this store!" Something in her eyes made you nervous as you exchanged glances. Behind her perfect mask of desolation, she seemed to be flashing a knowing smile at you. You weren't sure if you liked where this was going.
Seemingly, Antonio was into it as well. He winked at Bella with a wide grin and rested his hand on her shoulder reassuringly. "Oy, chica, we could split up. Since your hermano is in such a rush, he could go ahead with [Name] and do his shopping while we stay here for a little longer, eh?"
No, you definitely didn't like this idea. But before you could utter a word of protest, Belgium elbowed you in a less than discrete manner and beamed at Tony. "That would be wonderful! Please, broer, can we? That way we can buy gifts for each other and keep them in surprise!"
"No way am I leaving you alone with that tomato bastard!"
Belgium put her hand over Tony's, who gracefully let the insult slip past, showing no reaction at Netherland's blunt comment. "Broer, I can take care of myself. Plus, I still have to buy [Name]'s gift, and I want it to be a surprise!"
Netherlands threw his hands up in frustration. "Ja, fine! Let's go then, [Name]." He grabbed your arm and pulled you down the corridor, making your cheeks flush at his touch. You struggled to keep up with his pace, taken aback by the fierce expression on his face. He seemed mad about something you couldn't quite understand sure, he and Spain weren't exactly 'best friends forever', but you never thought he'd get this pissed off about something so small.
"Neth?" You called out softly. "Is anything wrong?"
He eventually slowed down to a halt, the anger on his face fading away little by little. Realizing he was still holding your arm, he let go of you with a tint of red rising to his face. Sighing, he ran his fingers though his gravity-defying hair which somehow stayed in place, making you wonder how much did he spend on hair gel. His eyes had a troubled look instead of the usual aloof expression.
"I don't like to leave Bella alone with Spain," he muttered, at last. You could tell that he still wasn't being fully honest, though, by the way he still wouldn't meet your eyes. Biting your lower lip thoughtfully, you nodded, deciding it was best not to press him.
"So, who's next on our gift list?" you asked, craning your neck to read the words on the piece of paper that he was holding. "Romano, eh? Pfft, that's too easy." You pointed across the corridor, to one of those stores that sell funny t-shirts. "And while we're there we can get one for Spain, too."
Minutes later, you were exiting the store with a pair of shopping bags dangling from your arms when you felt your cell phone buzz against your thigh. You struggled to fish it out of your coat's pocket, finding an unread message from Bella blinking on the screen.
'So, how's it going with you guys? ;)'
You sighed, fingers flying across the keys and tapping a reply. So it turned out you were right, she had set this up with Antonio, and, who knew, maybe with Romano too? At this rate, every country would know about your crush on Netherlands, and that'd be the end of your social life.
You're doing this on purpose, aren't you?'
Only a couple of seconds later, your cell phone buzzed again on your fingers. 'I don't know what you're talking about. :3', the text read. You almost laughed out loud. Yeah, right. You couldn't say you weren't enjoying some time alone with Neth, but the awkward silence that had fallen between the two of you was killing you. You decided it was better to ignore Bel's text, or else you might end up being way too rude.
[Name]? Are you even listening to me?"
At the sound of Netherland's voice, you realized you had suddenly stopped right in the middle of the crowded hallway. A few feet ahead of you, he was staring at you with a frown, as though he was trying to tell if there was anything wrong with you. You felt your cheeks grow hotter yet again and rushed to his side. "Oh, sorry, I was just distracted..." You fiddled with a stray strand of [h/c] hair, pretending to be suddenly very interested on the books on display at the closest library.
His eyes were still on you, and you could see a sliver of concern on them that he couldn't entirely mask. "Maybe we should go get some food."
"Sounds good," you attempted a smile. "I'll pay," you added quickly, knowing how close-fisted Dutch people usually are, almost as much as the Swiss. But, much to your surprise, he shook his head firmly.
"Absoluut niet. It's on me this time."
You chuckled nervously. "You sure you're feeling okay, Neth? I mean, it's just
not like you, to offer to pay for something," you stated. At last, he cracked a slight smile just as you were arriving at the snack bar.
"Maybe you're right." After a short search, he produced a bill from his coat's breast pocket and put it down on the counter, right in front of you. "I'll meet you here later, if you don't mind waiting."
And, with that, he was gone.
"What, aren't you going to have something too?" you called after him, but it was in vain. Soon, you lost sight of him among the crowd of last-minute shoppers that filled the mall. With a frustrated sigh, you turned to the waiter and ordered your favourite drink to cheer you up. While you waited, you pulled out your cell phone, only to find another message from Bella: 'Are you making out already? <3'
You lazily typed in your reply, knowing that your answer wasn't what your best friend wanted to hear. 'Sorry, he just ditched me. Sort of. Anyway, I don't even know where he is right now.'
The reply came in a matter of instants; sometimes you got the feeling that Bella was constantly on her cell phone.
'He did WHAT!? That jerk!! He's SOOO going to hear them once we get home! I can't believe he was rude enough to leave you like that!'
Her heated words managed to make you chuckle. You were thankful to have Bella as your best friend; somehow, she knew exactly what to say to make you feel better, even if that came in the form of insulting your crush. 'Don't bother doing that, he's bound to ignore you anyway. (;'
After typing the short reply in, you put your cell phone down beside you, wishing Belgium was there so you could have a little girl talk. But it was hopeless; she was with Antonio now, and you didn't want to ruin their precious moments alone, away from her overprotective older brother.
Your eyes rested on the shopping bags around your feet, and you made a mental list of all the gifts you had already bought: a lovely purse for Bella, Spain and Romano's t-shirts, a necklace for Hungary, a pair of cute earrings for Liechtenstein
I think that's about everyone, you thought, stirring your [favourite drink]. Then, you froze.
"Shit," you cursed under your breath, rushing to your feet, leaving the drink forgotten on the counter. You had been so worried about trying to socialize with him that you had completely forgotten to get him a gift. What's more, you didn't have the faintest idea on what to buy. You dialed in Belgium's number at top speed, biting your lip nervously as you waited until she picked up the call.
"Oh, hi, [Name]! You want to join us? We're at"
"Listen, Bel," you cut her off, talking so fast you almost stumbled in the words. "What should I get for your brother?"
"Pfft, him? Nothing. Serves him right for leaving you like that."
You tapped your feet anxiously. "Bel, I'm serious." You hoped she'd notice the desperation in your tone.
"Okay, okay, lemme think
He has a bunny, you know that, right? Then what about some supplies for
"That's more like a gift for the bunny, not for him, right?" you interrupted her once again, gathering all the shopping bags and getting ready to leave.
"Well then, honestly, I don't know. I bought him an orange sweater, but I'm guessing you want to give him something special
" She fell silent.
"Bella?" you called, seeing as she still wouldn't reply. "You still with me?"
"Hola, ______, this is Tony speaking." You heard a shuffling sound as Bel's cell phone changed hands. "I know just what you should give him, chica."
"You do?" you repeated in awe. You were wary of any suggestion coming from a member of the Bad Touch Trio, but still, you figured any idea would be better than none at all. "So?"
The only reply you got was a mysterious chuckle. You didn't like that at all.
"If you're thinking of something perverted, Tony, I'm out of it--"
"No, no, chica. It's not perverted, I promise. Just trust me and don't buy anything, and I'll take care of your gift." You could still hear the smile on his voice, and Belgium giggling next to him. Unnerved by this, you nodded reluctantly.
"Okay. But if it's anything inappropriate, I'll
Never mind." Failing to think up an appropriate threat, you gritted your teeth. "I guess I'll see you tomorrow, then."
"Sí! Hasta mañana,[Name]!"
"See you!" Belgium chirped before she hung up the call. You stared at the phone in your hand, considering calling Netherlands and finding out where he was, though you finally decided against it. After all, he'd left you too, so you had the full right to do the same. After you had zipped up your overcoat, you slowly made your way through the crowd, which was starting to thin down as the shops began to close.
Outside, it was already dark and freezing cold, at least for your standards, and you wished it'd be a white Christmas for once. You smiled at this thought. It made you feel like a small child again, as you walked the empty streets. There were loudspeakers everywhere, attached to the lamp posts and in the shops, blasting out Christmas music, and through almost every window you could see the twinkling lights of a Christmas tree. Yours was no different, and you were glad to be home. The warmth of your apartment was welcome, and, once you walked in and shut the door behind you, the shopping bags slipped from your cold, numb fingers. You let them drop to the floor. It had been a very tiring day, and the next day would be no different; Belgium was organizing a small Christmas Eve dinner at her place though, knowing her, 'small' was a relative concept - and you were still worried about what she and Tony might be planning for your gift to Netherlands.
You figured no good would come out of mulling over that matter, though, and tried to get your mind away from it. After a shower and a light dinner, you decided to get some sleep. Lord knew how much you needed it, you thought, as you slipped under the bed covers and flicked the lights off. Exhaustion soon overcame you, and you didn't even notice you were falling asleep.
"Oh, boy. Remind me how you talked me into letting you pick my outfit." You twisted the hem of the dress between your fingers; you had to admit that the fabric was nice, but you weren't so sure about the red-and-white twisting stripes that went down its loose, ruffled skirt. You were wearing white ballerina flats and a pair of tiny, heart-shaped silver earrings. "I look like a walking candy cane."
"That's the idea," Belgium beamed at you. "Oh, and here's my gift for you. You can open it up sooner because I think it goes rather nicely with that dress!"
A large grin plastered on your face, you took the small box in your hands and tore the gift paper open to reveal a jewelry box, and inside it a silver bracelet with several metallic charms and a little red ribbon tied to one side.
"Oh, it's so cute! Thank you so much, Belgium!" You hugged your best friend, who giggled cheerfully.
"I'm glad you like it!" she ruffled her short, wavy hair, which was pulled back by a festive red ribbon headband. "But save your thanks for later, after you give your gift to Netherlands!"
You were about to question her about what exactly they were intending to make you do, when the doorbell rang very opportunely, and your best friend scampered to open the door.
"Oh, Tony! Come in please! But
The Spaniard rubbed the back of his neck with a sheepish grin. "He was invited by Feliciano and the Axis to have dinner at their place, so I came alone."
You muttered a curse under your breath. If the evening took an exceedingly romantic turn, you might as well call your friend Lili and ask her if she didn't mind if you stayed over their place for the night. At least the Swiss hot chocolate was the best, and no one would bother you there.
"Ah, [Name], there you are!" You shrank away as Spain noticed you. "Por lo menos sonríe un poco, sí? It's Christmas! Deberías estar más feliz!" He threw his arms up, embracing the Christmas decorations, the tree and the neatly arranged dinner table in a single, wide gesture. He did succeed in making you grin, even if it was just for a moment. You just couldn't stay grumpy when Antonio was nearby; you found his joy extremely contagious.
However, the large smile planted on his face faded as he looked around. "Pero, where is Netherlands? I don't see him around
Your expression turned stern once again. "He's out to buy the Christmas cake. He'll be back in a while." Your voice sounded a bit harsher than you intended, but the Spaniard seemed to take no notice of it.
"Magnifico!" He winked at you, and you stuck your tongue out at him. However, you had to admit that you were feeling a little bit more cheerful. Still, you hoped Neth wouldn't take too long; with Spain and Belgium acting as close as they were lately, you didn't want to have to stay there just watching.
You stuck your head into the kitchen. "Need help, Bella?"
"Nah, I'm fine here!" she assured, casting you a brief smile, as she rushed past you with a large platter of food in hands. Despite her refusal of your offer, you grabbed two small bowls of pickles and the bread basket, and proceeded to carry them to the dining table. You knew fully well how helpful an extra pair of hands could be at times like these.
Once you got to the living room, the doorbell rang loudly yet again. Knowing who it must be, you pretended not to hear it, keeping a blank expression, and put the bowls and the basket very carefully down on the dinner table.
"I'll get it!" Bella yelled from the kitchen before hurrying to the door, her green and white dress rustling behind her as she moved. "Put that in the kitchen," you heard her command; a moment later, Netherlands walked into the living room, a cake shop box balanced precariously in his arms. You locked your eyes firmly on the napkins and pretended to be extremely busy while straightening their decorated, green-and-red rings.
He cleared his throat, and you figured now you were forced to look up. "Oh, hey," you managed, but the fake excitement you tried to imprint to your words must have sounded really unconvincing, since the frown on his face only deepened.
"You disappeared, yesterday. I tried to call you a couple of times, but you didn't answer."
Yes, you knew that. "I ran out of battery," you lied, tucking your hair behind your ears and hoping your cheeks weren't as red as you felt them.
"I was worried."
That caught you on surprise, and you finally looked up to meet his eyes. He flinched, but for once didn't look away. His half embarrassed, half stubborn expression, like he was defying you to contradict him, somehow made you chuckle, and you ruffled your candy cane dress. You couldn't just ignore how cute he looked.
"Sorry," you offered an apologetic smile, but Netherlands wasn't looking at you anymore. He was now staring very intently at the top of the cake box.
Darn it, that awkward silence again, you cursed mentally. Belgium, only providing further evidence to your theory of how best friends could really read your mind, peered out of the kitchen door to find both of you just standing there.
"Hey! Do something already!" Seeing the horrified glare you shot her, she added immediately, "For example, bring that cake in already, Neth! It's time we go have dinner!"
The dinner went along nicely; you were glad that Spain and Belgium were there to keep a casual chat going. The food was delicious Belgium's cooking skills never ceased to amaze you, even though she modestly insisted that it was nothing special. You, for one, knew you would never be able to cook like that.
The conversation topics shifted effortlessly from how you celebrated Christmas in your countries, to funny family stories you couldn't help but find Belgium and Netherlands's relationship as brothers endlessly hilarious, as they engaged in a contest of trying to embarrass each other as much as possible.
"When we moved in to Spain's house, you still slept with your bunny plushy!" Bella accused her brother with a burst of laughter, making his already reddened face turn a few shades darker. Antonio joined in, resting his hand over your best friends'.
"Sí, sí, I remember that!"
The Dutchman shot him a glare, and you shuffled your dress nervously. If looks could kill
Before he could snap back at them, you jumped to your feet, hands on the table. "Alright, who's in for some cake?"
That seemed to do the trick; the tension dissolved, and even Neth joined the conversation, which turned out more relaxed this time. Belgium insisted that it was mandatory to watch a movie before midnight, while you waited for the time to open your gifts, and so before you knew it you were stuck between her and Netherlands on their couch, trying hard not to think of it as a double-date sort of thing, and perfectly aware that this evening had probably been set up by her and Spain to the core with this kind of little things.
That, even more than Netherland's hand resting casually against your thigh, or the glances you snuck at him from time to time, was making you extremely nervous. If your life depended on it, you still couldn't remember what the movie was about, not even its title whatsoever. Whenever Belgium made a comment on how cute the main actor was or how she would have acted if she found herself in such a situation, you simply nodded and muttered your agreement, even though you hadn't the faintest idea of what she was on about.
Finally, when the credits began rolling over the dark screen, Spain stretched out to turn on the lights. The sudden brightness made you blink like an owl in daytime, but by now you were far too anxious to feel the slightest trace of drowsiness. Apparently, so was Belgium: the tall girl was practically jumping up and down on the spot as she watched the seconds tick past in the large wall clock. After a moment or so of analyzing it as well (your brain had fallen asleep during the movie), you realized at last it wasn't long before midnight. Uttering a curse through gritted teeth, you gripped your friend's arm and dragged her towards her bedroom.
"Bella," you hissed. "Help me fix my make-up."
"Wait, what?" she yelped. "Now? You don't even have any--"
"Yes, now! Emergency makeup time!" You put a hand over her mouth, stifling her voice. "You two, try not to kill each other while we're not here!" You told the boys before slamming the door shut behind your back.
Outside, Netherlands and Spain shared a glance, for the first time too surprised to even argue.
"[Name]! What was that about?!" Belgium exclaimed as you finally let go of her mouth. You leaned against the door for support.
"Please, Bel, what the heck are you planning? I've got to know! It's almost midnight and I don't even know what I'm going to give him!"
Her expression changed to a mischievous one. "Sorry, I can't tell you that."
You were expecting this answer. Letting yourself fall into her fluffy bed, you stared at her with wide eyes in your best 'homeless puppy' act. "At least tell me what I'm to do!"
"Alright." Your best friend propped herself down beside you. "If Tony's sticking to his part of the plan, you just have to meet him on the balcony."
"That's all?" You eyed her mistrustfully. You had a feeling where this might end.
"Yep!" She winked at you. "We'll take care of everything else. Well, almost everything, but you'll see!"
"Right," you muttered, letting yourself be pushed out of your friend's bedroom and into the large balcony that connected it with the living room's window.
It seemed that Antonio did stick to his part of the plan. Just like Belgium had told you, there was Netherlands, resting his elbows on the parapet. You didn't miss the fact that there was a bright red tulip in his hand, and your stomach did a backflip. Could that be
. For me?
You took a deep breath and tried to clear your mind from all that paranoid rubbish that Bella had put in your head. It's just a talk in the balcony, after all. What's the big deal?
Feeling calmer now that the chilly winter wind ruffled your hair, you placed your hands on the parapet, staring into the night tiredly. "Those two are a handful," you stated. He simply nodded. The silence wasn't all that awkward any longer.
After a minute or so, he turned to you. "W-well
" he began, but trailed off once your eyes met. Clearing his throat, he handed out the tulip, practically shoving it into you, together with a small, square box lined with night blue velvet. "T-That's your Christmas gift."
Heart racing, you opened the box. It was the very same ring you had fancied the day before at the mall. You widened your eyes. "This is
" You couldn't find the right words to describe how much you loved it.
did you like it?" Came Neth's voice, sounding somewhat preoccupied, but something else had suddenly caught your eye.
Almost exactly above you hung a small branch of mistletoe, adorned with two ribbons in the national colors of Belgium and Spain. You got the message.
"I think I still have the gift return ticket somewhere
" Netherlands muttered, but he was cut off by your lips. After the initial shock, he kissed back just as fiercely, putting his arm round your waist and pulling you closer. You closed your eyes, letting your mind go blank in the happiness of the moment; your heart seemed to swell on your chest.
There was a loud thumping on the windowpanes and you pulled away, turning to find Tony and Belle making silly face at you from the other side of the window. Your best friend was smiling from ear to ear, and gave you a large thumbs up before dragging Spain away, presumably to give you some privacy, although you had the feeling they were going to find their own mistletoe. You looked back to Netherlands, twisting the dress between your fingers from the embarrassment. Where did I get the courage to do that?
"Sorry, that kind of was my gift. I didn't know what to get you, so
" you trailed off with a nervous smile. "And I'm afraid I don't have the return ticket."
He gave you a blank look. "What are you talking about? That was the best Christmas gift I've ever had."
It was getting really cold outside, but as you kissed again you felt warmer than ever. Belgium was right after all, you thought on the back of your head. I do have to thank her.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Broer - Brother
Absoluut niet! - No way!
Ja - Yes
Chica - Girl
Hermano - Brother
Hola - Hello
Sí! Hasta mañana! - Yes! See you tomorrow!
Por lo menos sonríe un poco, sí? - At least smile a little, yes?
Pero - But