Published: August 22, 2015
Today was the day before your first day of college. You were so nonchalant about the awaited day but now that it was finally here, you were starting to panic. A knot twisted and formed in your stomach and a wave of uneasiness washed over you. You bit your lip, hugging your pillow tightly to your chest. You trained your eyes to focus on the television show in front of you in hopes that it would distract you from your thoughts, but it was no use. Every little thing you did to distract yourself kept redirecting you back to the source of your worries.
You frowned, burying your face into the fluffy pillow. What were you doing sitting here in this dark living room watching TV when you should be getting some sleep? The anxiety was killing you. What if you ended up hating your major? What if you don't make any friends? What if you can't handle being a college student? What if college isn't your thing? What if you end up wasting your entire life pursuing a career you didn't like? What if --
You let out a shriek of surprise as the living room lights flickered on. A tall, Swedish man stood by the light switch, a trench coat in hand. "(Name)?" He called out, looking at you in confusion. "What are you doing up so late?"
"B-Berwald! You scared me!" You let out a small, forced chuckle and shrugged, "O-Oh you know…I just couldn't sleep that's all."
Berwald draped his coat on the coat hanger and made his way over to you. It wasn't like you to be up so late watching television. You would usually be in your room on Tumblr or an anime site. He glanced towards the television; slapstick comedy was on but you weren't laughing your head off like you usually did.
You hugged your pillow as you felt the sofa slightly sink under the Swedish man's weight beside you. You were expecting him to give you a prep talk like Tino, cheer you up like Matthias, wish you good luck like Lukas, or give you a bag of sweets for the journey tomorrow like Emil --
But he didn’t.
Instead, he just sat there.
Berwald sat there beside you, eyes transfixed on the horrible slapstick comedy, his expressions not batting an inch. You turned to him, "Wait, that's it?" You asked in disbelief. "You're not going to tell me to get some sleep, to go back to my room, to get ready for tomorrow?"
He turned his head towards you, replying in his stoic tone, "You're nervous right?"
"Y-Yeah but…" You flinched back in surprise. "Isn't that the usual thing you would tell someone before their first day of classes? To calm down and get some sleep?"
"But you never really got any sleep before every first day of classes."
You were speechless. How did Berwald know that? How did he know that for the past dozen years of your life you just laid on your bed and pretended to sleep? Could it be that he was always watching you sleep like he did towards Tino? Wait no, it must be because you lived under the same roof and you always started the first day of school off by looking like a zombie. That had to be it.
But little did you know that there was a reason behind his strange actions.
"And neither did I." Berwald mumbled under his breath, leaning back into the couch as his glasses reflected the IKEA commercial being shown on the television.
You looked at him in confusion, "But you have nothing to worry about. I'm the one going through that first day of school madness."
"I know," He continued. "I knew that you were going to do just fine on your first day, but the fact that you were so anxious to the point where you couldn't sleep made me worry as much as you did."
The stoic and emotionless Swede being worried? You found that a little hard to digest. That, and the fact that he harbored these kind of feelings towards you and not a certain Finnish man you knew. There was silence as the two of you watched the IKEA commercial pop up once again. Berwald was different, that's for sure.
"Worry makes small things have big shadows."
The silence was suddenly pierced as Berwald spoke out of nowhere. "S-Sorry, what was that?"
Finally, Berwald turned to look at you, his ice blue eyes looking into your (e/c) ones intensely. "Worry makes small things have big shadows. It's an old Swedish proverb in my country."
He returned his gaze back to the television, but yours remained fixated in awe on his face. That proverb had you thinking. Your first day of school…were you really just blowing it up to proportions? You've gone through a first day of school 13 times already! You've entered a new level of education three times to boot! What difference would it make if you added one to each? Thinking back, you're better off now than you were years ago. Here you are now with more experience, more wisdom, and more to offer. Now that you thought about it calmly, there was really nothing for you to be worried about. Plus, surely there are a bunch of other students out there feelings the same things as you right now.
And suddenly, the shadow disappeared, revealing the minuscule thought that troubled you so much earlier.
Your grip on your pillow loosened and a smile slowly appeared on your face. Your shoulders relaxed and finally, you could let out that breath you've been holding in for so long. Berwald was different, just like the rest of the Nordics. Each one had their own way of cheering you up and easing your worries. Tino always liked to talk things out, Matthias ensured that there was a good laugh at the end of every sentence, Lukas resorted to traditional ways and charms, and Emil isn't good with words so he relied on actions.
As for Berwald,
Berwald would let his silence speak for himself until it was the right moment for him to talk.
And that's okay.
His silence might be intimidating to others, but it brought peace and tranquility to you. His presence and simple worded sentences were all you needed to calm you down. For someone that spoke such few words, he really knew when to say things at the right moment, at the right time. Your worries disappeared, your anxious tummy ache calmed down, and just like that, your eyelids fluttered shut, breaths slowed down and just like that, you fell into a much needed slumber.
You leaned onto the Swede, your head resting on his shoulder. If only you knew that Tino wasn't the only person Berwald watched as they tried to fall asleep. He has watched over the other Nordics, including yourself, but for a good reason. He wanted to make sure that everyone he loved fell asleep with a peaceful state of mind, that everything that ailed and worried them disappeared. Otherwise, the Swede himself wouldn't be able to get any sleep at all, but he wouldn't mind. Berwald didn’t care if it was one, two, or four in the morning. As long as he could help lift the weight off his loved one's shoulders and make sure that everyone was fast asleep, that's all that mattered. Their problems are his problems and their happiness is his happiness.
"She's finally asleep."
Tino smiled happily, walking into the living room as Berwald looked over his shoulder. Berwald peered down at your smiling sleeping face. Letting out a yawn and gently patting your head, he smiled.