The Softer Side

I skipped this part…

After breakfast, Henryk returned to the kitchen. He was meant to watch the breakfast dishes. There was very little in the way of scraps left. Russia’s large household had managed to finish off the potato pancakes and the sausage, as well as the tomatoes and the bread. There were just little bits of egg that remained – not enough for even a snack.

He looked over at Tolys. “Can I bring this outside for the finches?” he said.

While Tolys nodded, Eduard looked faintly horrified. “They eat eggs?” he said, shaking his head. “But – but they’re birds!”

“Not chickens,” Henryk said, shrugging. He scraped the platter off onto one of the plates. Then, he headed outside and across the yarn to the barn. He slipped inside and waved at Gilbert and Romania, who were brushing down the horses.

“Here, birdies,” he called, as he scraped the plate off onto the floor of the barn. Almost immediately, Gilbert’s little yellow birds and Tolys’s pair of amber birds had flown down and were devouring the eggs.

Henryk watched them for a moment. He noted that one of the amber birds was acting cordial towards the other – bring large pieces over to her and guarding her from the other birds.

“Mating behavior,” he said, grinning. “Maybe we’ll have chicks in the spring.” Then, he hurried out of the barn and into the house once more.

He focused on washing the dishes. Once that was done, he dried off his hands and peered into the corridor. He could hear quite a bit of sound coming from upstairs. What, he wondered, was going on?

He startled when he felt a large hand rest on his shoulder. Looking up, he released a nervous laugh. “H-hello, Mr. Russia,” he said. “I – I finished washing the dishes.”

“Good,” Russia said, nodding. “Please make me some more tea.”

“Yes, sir,” Henryk said. As Russia headed towards his office, he called, “May I know… what’s going on upstairs, Mr. Russia?”

Russia nodded. “Bulgaria is moving the mattress from the guestroom into your bedroom,” he said. “If there is anything else you need for your room, Little Poznan, please let me know. I want for you to be… comfortable here.”

“Y-yes, Mr. Russia,” he said, his voice soft. Then, he whirled away from the large nation and headed back into the kitchen. He needed to make another pot of tea. Was his entire morning to be spent hurrying in and out of the kitchen?


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