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If I Was Dying On My Knees (you would be the one to rescue me)

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When Wille was a kid, he used to spend all the time he could in Erik’s room. Unless their parents or tutors or whoever it was telling him he had-to-do-something-and-had-to-do-it-now physically pulled him away, the chances were that if Erik was in his bedroom, Wille had followed him in. There were times when Erik would be the one to kick him out, of course, but his older brother was usually kind enough to entertain young Wilhelm’s clinginess, sibling worship, and fascination with a room that was not his own. 

 

The giggles of Wilhelm used to fill the hall outside Erik’s bedroom as his older brother would wrap him in his favorite jacket, which was nearly as long as Wille himself had been. It had been too big for Erik when he’d gotten it, too, but his brother had grown into the formal fit. On days when they hadn’t seen each other, the two of them would lie on the floor as Wille rambled his little heart out about all he’d done that day while Erik was stuck in boring meetings. On weekends when Erik was home from Hillerska and Wille hadn’t seen him in months, he clung to his older brother like he’d cry if they were separated for even a moment, and a member of the palace staff or one of their parents were never surprised to find that the two of them had fallen asleep next to each other in Erik’s bed, usually with Wilhelm tucked up against the elder. When he was younger, Erik’s room felt more like a safe space than his own did. 

 

Of course, as they got older, Wille spent less and less time in Erik’s room. He spent less and less time in the castle at all. If he had the chance to get out, to go be in the real world, he took it. Even still, he always loved Erik’s room. It felt cozier than his own. It felt that way regardless of whether they were in the Royal Palace in Stockholm, or if the family was spending time in Drottningholm- though it was Drottningholm that Wille really had a liking for. Their bedrooms there were a little smaller, less ornate, even if the rest of the gigantic building and the grounds were nowhere near being so. 

 

That’s where Wille found himself now. He was home for the weekend from Hillerska, having grown sick of how long it had been since he’d seen his brother in person. Their parents were on some sort of international trip, and rather than spend time in Stockholm, Erik had suggested Drottningholm, since it was less of a trip to and from Hillerska, and neither of the princes had been there particularly recently. Wille had taken him up on the offer wholeheartedly. They’d spent Friday night binging movies, Saturday just lazing around, and now it was Sunday, and Erik would have to drive Wille back to school in just three short hours. 

 

Wilhelm wasn’t entirely sure where his older brother was at the moment; Wille had woken up late for breakfast, feeling like it was going to take more energy than he actually had to even get out of bed, and when he’d finally stumbled his way into the kitchen, he’d found a note from his brother saying- as best as Wille could work out- that he’d gone outside to do. . . something. Frankly, Erik had some of the worst handwriting Wille had ever seen. At least, he did when he wasn’t being the crown prince and signing or writing on official things. Wille had long since given up trying to figure out exactly what his brother was communicating when the elder left him notes. Erik would wander back into the palace at some point, and Wille could figure it out then. For now, Wille was just taking some time in the silent residential area. 

 

It was one of those days.

 

One of those days when sometimes even the sound of his own breathing was too much for him, and when his clothes felt scratchy against his skin, and when talking sounded like too much work, and when all he wanted to do was crawl back in bed and stay there for hours. 

 

He couldn’t do that, though. And it wasn’t even the fact that he had to go back to school that was stopping him. No, it was that along with over half the clothes he had with him feeling burning to the touch, the sheets on his bed were just. . . wrong. Bad. 

 

Wille had managed to find a loose fitting, oversized shirt- one he was pretty sure was Simon’s, from the smell of it- and sweatpants that didn’t make him want to scream. Now he was just wandering around the palace residence, not even sure what he was in search of. 

 

It should’ve come to no surprise to himself that eventually, he ended up on the stairs that led up to Erik’s bedroom. He pushed open the door, quietly stepping into the room. It was as it always had been, barely changed from the last time Wille had been in here, probably a couple of years ago now. Erik had made his bed this morning- something it drove their mother and the maids up the wall that Wilhelm never did- and his curtains were wide open, letting the sun stream into the room. Wille could see the dust particles in the air as the sun beams caught them, yet every surface in the room looked spotless. 

 

Slowly, silently, Wille eased himself onto his brother’s bed, sitting in the middle with his back against the mountain of pillows Erik liked to keep. The comforter felt soft beneath his feet and fingertips, and the shirt hanging off his frame helped keep the feeling of the decorative embroidery on the pillows at bay. It was probably the most comfortable he’d felt all day. Wille let himself relax into that feeling, looking around the room. Wille could spy the jacket that used to drown his frame whenever Erik let him try it on, presented neatly next to one of the windows. On his brother’s dresser sat a few random knick knacks and such, but prominently displayed was a large figurine of a frog, a crown atop his head. Wille couldn’t help the small smile that formed on his lips at the sight of it. It was a silly little thing between the two of them- the frog prince. It had been Erik’s favorite story when he was a child, and when Wille was old enough, Erik was the first one to ever read it to him. It was just one of those comfort things, for the both of them. 

 

Wille had been the one to buy Erik the figurine. He’d thought it absolutely perfect for his older brother when he’d found it. Wilhelm had been right; Erik had loved it. It had been less than a week after he’d given it to him that Erik presented him with a frog prince snowglobe, which now sat proudly next to Wilhelm’s bed at Hillerska, the frogs almost a perfect match. Wilhelm loved that stupid little snowglobe. He loved even more that it was from Erik. He felt a warmth in his chest to see Erik’s own frog in such a clear line of sight; it told him Erik felt the same way about the figurine. 

 

Wille shifted, sliding down a little further on Erik’s bed as his eyes drifted to the mirror. Tucked into the frame of his large wall mirror was one of the only places Erik kept personal photographs in his room. Most of them, Wille noticed proudly, were of himself with his brother. Two of the photos were of Nathalie; one was of just her, smiling in a soft looking red dress, the skirt flourishing around like she’d been spinning, and the other a selfie of her and Erik, Nathalie’s lips pressed to his cheek and Erik’s smile blinding. Below that one, Wilhelm couldn’t help but notice a seemingly empty spot where he could have sworn an image of his brother and August once sat. Beyond that, there were four photographs. One of Erik at a very young age- likely before Wille had been born- with their parents smiling behind him. The other three all had Wilhelm. Under the photo with their parents sat an image of the two of them as kids, with Wille sat in front of his brother. There was another that was of just Wilhelm, the younger version of himself looking down at a frog he’d managed to capture in his hands. And under that sat Wille’s favorite photo of him and Erik.

 

You could only see the bottom half of Wille’s face in the photo, with his hair long enough to cover up his eyes as he looked down. Still visible was the grin on his face, however, from how Erik had snuck up behind him, grabbing him around the shoulders. Erik had a mischievous grin on his face in the image, one arm tightly holding Wille- his own arms having come up to grip at his brother’s sleeve- and the other outstretched. As Wilhelm recalled, his brother had had to scramble to balance them when Wille’s shock had nearly had them both tipping over. They both looked so carefree in the image, giggly and just happy to be around each other. You’d never be able to tell they were royalty. They weren’t even sure who it was who had taken the photo, but they both adored it. Wille kept his own copy taped up on the inside of his closet door. It was the only photo Wille had gone to Hillerska with, though it now lived next to countless images of Wille and Simon and all their friends. 

 

Wille’s eyes were still trained on that photo when he heard the door squeak as it was pushed open further behind him. 

 

“Wille?”

 

The prince turned his head to look at his older brother, who was looking at him with his brow furrowed. Wille didn’t say anything, just met Erik’s gaze. 

 

“Are you alright?”

 

Wille just shrugged, turning his head away so his gaze landed back on Erik’s mirror, sliding himself down even further on the bed so he was nearly horizontal, head resting against the pillows. Erik was silent for a few moments before Wille heard a soft, but deep breath.

 

“Okay. That’s okay. I was out in the stables, so I’m going to get changed, but I’ll be back soon, alright?”

 

Wille gave his brother a single, barely recognizable nod, but it seemed to be enough for Erik, who he heard leave the room. Wille wasn’t sure how long Erik was gone- he’d gotten distracted watching outside when two birds had landed on the window sill- but when he heard his brother reenter the room, he could smell the coconut scent of his shampoo. He felt Erik sit on the edge of the bed, and he forced himself to roll over so he could face his brother. Erik was looking at him with a gentle but concerned gaze, dressed in the same sweatshirt he wore in the picture. 

 

“Are you alright if I touch you?” Erik asked, and Wille shrugged once again. 

 

Erik shook his head in response, “C’mon, Wilhelm. Yes or no. Are you alright if I touch you?” 

 

Wille stared at his brother for a second before nodding. 

 

Erik reached out slowly, keeping his hand where Wille could see it before it came to land on Wille’s head, Erik’s fingers making their way into Wille’s hair. The younger let his eyes fall shut as his older brother carded through his messy, long, unbrushed hair. The prongs of his comb had been too pokey today. Like needles on his skull. Erik felt okay, though. Erik and Simon both knew how much it relaxed Wille to have his hair messed with. 

 

“Bad day?”

 

Wille gave another miniscule nod.  

 

“Anything I can do for you?”

 

A shrug.

 

Erik hummed in contemplation, then the fingers in Wille’s hair stilled. Wille opened his eyes with a frown, watching as Erik got up from the bed. The crown prince walked the few steps to where Wille had spotted Erik’s jacket earlier, pulling it from its resting place and walking back over to the bed. 

 

“Do you want this?” Erik suggested softly, holding it out to Wille. “You’ve always liked the texture of this one.”

 

Wille barely hesitated to unravel himself from where he’d had his arms wrapped tightly around his torso, reaching out to take the jacket. By all means, it wasn’t something Wille should be wearing while laying in a bed. It was expensive and ornate, with the Swedish flag on the shoulder and golden markings. It was old, something Erik had owned and taken meticulous care of since he was Wilhelm’s age. He absolutely should not be wearing it. 

 

But Erik was right that the texture had always felt nice on his skin, and it was heavy and warm, and it was being offered to him. After he’d wound his arms through the sleeves, inhaling deeply the scent of Erik’s body wash and the palace laundry detergent, Wille tried to wrap himself in a hug. Next to him, he could hear Erik’s tongue click as he retook his seat on the bed. 

 

“Wille. Come here.”

 

Wille just looked at him as Erik held his arms out. 

 

His brother’s voice dropped to a whisper, “Come here, brorsan.”

 

This time, Wille didn’t bother second guessing the request, scooting over until he was in his brother’s arms, Erik wrapping him in a tight enough hug to be comforting but not so tight it felt suffocating. Wille took deep breaths, not wanting to cry just because his brother hugged him. Erik hugged him all the time. It shouldn’t be a big deal. 

 

Except he could feel every single strand of hair that was falling on the back of his neck, and his pants were starting to feel itchy, and he was really, really tired, and his chest felt tight, and Erik was here and solid and the only thing in this entire godforsaken palace that Wille could trust wasn’t going to break him right now. 

 

He sagged against his brother, trusting Erik to take his weight. Erik did exactly that, shifting so that he had more leverage on the bed and resting his chin gently on top of Wille’s head as he began a slow, rocking movement. Wille let his eyes close again, just trying to focus on the feeling of Erik and letting his desire for sleep begin to pull him in. 

 

----------

 

When Wille woke for the second time that day, he was in Erik’s bed, still wearing his brother’s jacket. His head was now resting on a firm pillow with a satin case, and his favorite blanket had been draped over him. As he opened his eyes, he could see a full glass of water sitting on the nightstand next to him, and Erik was standing facing the window, his shoulder leaning against the wall as he looked at something on his phone. The light coming into the room wasn’t as bright as it had been when he’d come in this morning. 

 

Wille took a deep breath in, shifting to lift a hand to his face and rub at his eyes. The sound was enough to get Erik’s attention it seemed, since his brother almost immediately stuck the phone in his pocket, turning around to move to the bed. 

 

“Hi, there, sleeping beauty,” Erik teased, but his tone was soft, and his volume quiet. Wille let out a small groan in response, still swiping at his face. “How are you feeling?”

 

Wille sighed, taking inventory of his own body for a moment. He was warm, and one of the ornaments of Erik’s jacket was digging into his side a little, but other than that, he felt almost normal. Drained, and definitely like he’d just woken, but almost normal. 

 

“Better,” he whispered, the first word he’d managed to say all day. His response earned a smile out of Erik and a gentle hand on his shoulder. 

 

“What time is it?” Wille asked groggily. 

 

Erik glanced down at his watch, “Half past four. You’ve been asleep about 6 hours.”

 

Wille frowned; they were supposed to have left for Hillerska at one this afternoon. Before he could even open his mouth to ask, Erik was shaking his head.

 

“Wille, there was no way I was going to wake you up and make you sit in the car while you were like this. You weren’t talking, you looked awful, and I could tell that you were crying before you fell asleep earlier.”

 

Wilhelm felt his face go warm. Erik was right; having to go back to school would have been utterly and completely miserable. The sounds and the smells and the amount of people probably would have sent him running for the hills, or into a panic attack in the middle of the courtyard.

 

“I called the school. You’re excused for classes tomorrow, and for Tuesday if you’re not feeling well enough to drive back tomorrow. I also called Simon- he asked me to give you a hug from him, then grumbled for a full minute about having turned into the type of person who asks for hugs to be passed along.”

 

Wille gave a small smile at that. He hadn’t even bothered grabbing his phone when he’d left his room this morning; he’d text Simon later to assure his boyfriend that he was alright. 

 

Silently, the younger prince sat up, rubbing his eyes again before pulling Erik’s jacket off, setting it on the bed next to Erik. 

 

“Sorry,” he mumbled in regard to the jacket; its finely pressed and steamed fabric was wrinkly now, looking more like a clump of fabric than an actual coat. Erik gave a roll of his eyes, grabbing the item of clothing and tossing it in the general direction of a chair in the room. 

 

“Wilhelm, I couldn’t care less about the jacket right now. If it helped, then who cares if it needs cleaning?” 

 

Wille felt his face warm again, but he nodded. Erik regarded him carefully. His brother’s hand landed on his shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze. 

 

“Go back to sleep, Wille.”

 

Wille frowned, shaking his head. He’d already slept nearly the entire day away. 

 

“Yes. Yes, lie down. You've barely kept your eyes open while you've been awake, and I think if you keep sitting up, you'll just fall over. It's okay to need a break and some rest, Wilhelm."

 

Wille wasn't sure he appreciated the way Erik was calling out his behavior, but he obeyed anyway, letting the hand on his shoulder nudge him back down against the pillows. 

 

"Just rest for a little while longer, and then I'll make you something for dinner."

 

Wille huffed, "Please don't."

 

Erik made a slightly appalled sound, "Really, Wille, I'm not that bad a cook."

 

He really was.

 

As Wille let his eyes fall shut, he huffed out a laugh. He heard Erik sigh, then felt Erik's hand through his hair once again. 

 

With an exasperated tone, Erik said, "Go to sleep."

 

Wille hummed, already feeling as though he was halfway there.

 

"Thanks, Erik. Love you."

 

He wasn't sure if he'd actually managed to say the words out loud, or if Erik had even heard them if he had.

 

His question was answered a moment later when he heard Erik's voice once more, "Love you, too, brorsan." 

 

Wille wasn't sure what it was about Erik's room that got to him. It was less personalized than his own, it was always so clean and proper, just as Erik was. He supposed, sometimes, that that's exactly the reason. This room was just like Erik was. Erik, who had been his best friend since day one, who could take one look at him and know exactly what he needed when he was having a bad day. Who had always stood by his side, cared for him, and loved him. 

 

So maybe it wasn't really about the room. Maybe it was just about having a brother who was better than the best anyone could possibly ask for.