Title: The Day You Were Mine
Author: blood_winged (Coming out of lurkdom! Please be kind T.T)
Genre: Romance, fluff
Rating/Warnings: PG. Very mild language. Use of human names. Vulnerable!America. Dangerous levels of fluff.
Summary: Sometimes it takes such a small thing to make you realise how much you love someone.
* * *
England still hadn’t quite gotten over the shock of having America collapse into his arms, drenched through from the pouring rain and shivering so badly that the older nation could swear he’d shake himself apart if he wasn’t warmed soon. He hadn’t had the heart to scold him, when those bright blue eyes had lifted to his and he had looked so pathetic. So, instead of launching into an all-too-parental lecture about how much of an idiot America was, he had hauled the man to the living room and sat him on the couch, rubbing his hair dry and wiping the rain from his cold-flushed cheeks, glasses carefully placed to one side for safekeeping.
“You’re an idiot, you know, America,” he said as he worked Alfred’s jacket off, draping it over a dining chair set in front of the fire. “What were you thinking, coming here in this weather?” His gaze flicked upwards as a roll of thunder boomed over the house. Typical English weather, he thought dryly as his fingers fumbled with the buttons of America’s soaked shirt. He got half way down before he realised that America was staring at him, one eyebrow slightly raised as if to ask ‘what are you doing?’.
It had been years ago, long before the Revolution, that England had realised America was not a child anymore. Yet, at times, he still found himself treating the younger nation as if he needed looking after. Old habits die hard, he supposed, or perhaps it was simply that he liked feeling like this. He shook his head, and undid the rest of the buttons, hesitating before slipping the clinging fabric from America’s shoulders and hanging it on the chair along with his now gently steaming jacket. Keeping his back turned as America pulled his trousers off and handed them over, he looked to the other to find him wrapped up in the thick blanket that Arthur had brought in. His hands were clasped tightly in his lap but that didn’t hide the small shivers that ran through him, and England rolled his eyes, pressing the back of one hand to America’s forehead and the other to his own. His thick eyebrows drew together and he sighed, folding his arms and looking down at Alfred, who managed to hold his gaze for a heartbeat before sneezing violently.
“This is your own bloody fault,” Arthur scolded, seeing colour race over Alfred’s cheeks a moment before he ducked his head. “You always do this, America, trying to be the bloody hero. What did you think? You’d come and keep old England from being afraid of a summer storm? More’s the point, what were you skulking around here for in the first place?”
“I just wanted... I thought you’d like some company, that’s all,” America said eventually, turning that familiar, defiant blue gaze against England. “Must I always be up to something?”
“Yes,” England replied bluntly, though privately he had to admit that the thought was quite a sweet one, and his tone didn’t hold the harsh edge that he’d tried to put into it. He pinched the bridge of his nose and sat down beside the taller nation, watching his fingers as they gripped his knees in a vain effort to distract himself. “Couldn’t it have waited? This kind of storm never lasts long, and I-” He froze as slender arms wrapped around him, a blonde head resting on his shoulder. His green eyes widened and he felt the hairs on the back of his neck prickle.
“America..?” He couldn’t keep the uncertain tremor out of his voice. America had a lack of respect for personal space (especially his personal space) at the best of times but this... this was just weird. “Alfred? Are you alright?” No answer. Arthur tilted his head awkwardly to catch a glimpse of America’s face. Alfred had his eyes half-closed, gazing resolutely into the fire, jaw set as though he were trying to ignore what he was doing.
“Shut up, Arthur,” America muttered, that blush rising to his cheeks again as he pulled away and held the blanket tightly around himself, pulling the fabric up to his chin and shutting his eyes as he breathed in deeply, only to sneeze again. England looked at him for a long moment, a thousand thoughts running through his mind, all beginning with why and ending unanswered. Though, it seemed that America already knew what he wanted to know, and his voice was strangely quiet as he spoke.
“Do you know what the date is?” he asked, glancing over to England who frowned for a moment, then paled.
“... June 24th,” was the soft reply. Of course... how could he have been so stupid? It was one day that neither nation ever really spoke of. America had always seemed to keep it to himself and England had all but forgotten. In over two hundred years neither of them had mentioned it. It used to be such a special day to both of them.
“June 24th,” America echoed with a small nod. “I know we never...” He trailed off, hesitant, quiet, and so very unAmerica that it tugged at something deep in Arthur’s heart. In one quick movement he drew Alfred to him and embraced him tightly, feeling the gesture returned in warm arms slipping around him. It could have been minutes or hours before they drew apart, and England brushed his fingers through America’s soft, sandy-coloured hair, cupping his jaw lightly and running the pad of one thumb over the pink tinge on his cheek.
“You’re an idiot, America,” he said, but his voice was gentle, even fond, the insult not even an insult between them any longer as much as a term of endearment. Alfred smiled, covering Arthur’s hand with his own, turning his face to kiss the older nation’s palm. England flushed, cheeks burning, heart skipping a beat as America looked at him, a faint smile on his lips. That smile... that was something that had never changed. England tore his gaze away, and America turned away quickly to sneeze again, making an unhappy sound afterwards.
“I think I caught a cold.”
“You don’t say,” England quipped, that cynical tone creeping back into his voice.
“Hurricanes, tidal waves... but I spend five minutes in your wretched climate and it makes me sick.” The look that Alfred shot at Arthur could have been called accusatory. “I think you just have it in for me.”
Arthur found, to his surprise, that those words hurt, and looked down at his feet. America was oblivious, however, though managed to push that hurt aside rather easily as he shuffled over and leaned against England, nudging him lightly.
“Move over,” he demanded, waiting until England was almost at the end of the couch before he shifted across and quite promptly sat in Arthur’s lap. What followed was several moments of cursing and England trying to push him away while he made himself comfortable, until the older nation gave in and fell still. America rested his head on England’s shoulder, curled up against the shorter’s body. Arthur’s skin tingled where Alfred was nuzzling lightly against his neck, but there was something so comfortingly familiar about this entire scenario... even if one of them was quite a lot bigger than he remembered. It caused an odd kind of confusion, a rift between his feelings for America as a child – his child – and those for America as... as something else. He didn’t allow his mind to complete that thought.
So much of his concentration when they were together was spent trying to make sure that America didn’t get too close, didn’t see him blushing when he leaned over his shoulder and told him that the book he was reading was boring, and all those other little things that would so easily give him away.
“You don’t hate me, do you, Arthur?”
A long, tense silence followed that question. America sniffled and shivered and surprisingly didn’t press the issue, but the words had sounded so strange in his usually confident voice that England felt compelled to answer.
“...Of course not, you silly boy,” he murmured, thinking that the cold and rain must have done more damage to the younger nation than he had first thought. Maybe it was more than just a cold... “Are you sure you’re feeling alright?”
“I don’t like the rain,” Alfred muttered then, curling his body a little closer to Arthur’s.
“You never did...” Arthur replied quietly, tentatively stroking his fingers through the other’s soft hair. “I remember a certain small someone coming running to jump in my bed every time we had a bad storm.” It was always painful to think back on those times, but somehow, with America here and so oddly vulnerable, it didn’t sting as badly as it used to. The younger nation had always been a balancing point for him, everything that he wasn’t yet they were so very similar. Perhaps it was that which drew England to him despite all that had happened, why he couldn’t just let America go like he had with almost every other nation that had once been under his command. He heard Alfred chuckle, his nose bumping up against England’s throat as he searched for the elder’s gaze.
“Would you do something for me, Arthur?” he said as his eyes were met. England nodded. “Sing to me? Like... like you used to when I...”
“Sing to you?” England had not heard that request in a very long time, since before America was waist-height. “...Why?”
“It’ll make me feel better,” Alfred told him insistently, then he looked down and Arthur could see that his cheeks were flushed again. “Please, Artie.”
“A-alright...” The shorter nation frowned a little and settled Alfred more comfortably across his lap, trailing his fingertips in soothing patterns up and down the base of the younger’s spine. He looked to the window, watching the rain lashing against the glass for a long moment before quietly clearing his throat. England was not known for his amazing singing voice, nor his talent for holding a tune and he would wager that America was the only nation that had ever heard him sing. So he did sing – he sang the first thing that came into his head as he watched the rain, replacing the name in the song for Alfred’s, as he had when America was young.
“Rain, rain, go away, come again another day; little Alfred wants to play. Rain, rain, go to Spain, never show your face again.”
“What did Spain do to deserve your terrible weather?” America asked quietly, prompting a laugh and a gentle scuff of his hair. It still felt strange to England, but it was like riding a bike... you never forgot how.
“He bothers me...” the older nation replied, glancing at the window for a moment. “But I suppose you’re right... this would be a little extreme. This kind of rain in the summer might finish him off.”
“Mm,” Alfred mumbled, curling the fingers of one hand into the front of Arthur’s shirt and clinging gently, one finger sliding through the gap between buttons and lightly stroking the elder’s chest. England blinked, several times, briefly alternating between chills and blushing before he decided to overlook it. Alfred just had a fever, that was all, and he was just acting a little strangely. “Sing another one.”
“You’re paying for the window repairs, Alfred,” England warned.
“Fair price,” Alfred murmured. Arthur let out a quiet sigh, rifling through his memory. Nursery rhymes hadn’t been high on his priority list for a long time, but he felt Alfred smile against his shoulder as the words of a centuries-old rhyme finally came to him.
“The Grand old Duke of York, he had ten thousand men, he marched them up to the top of the hill, and-”
“He marched them down again...” America murmured. England smiled, though it was a little difficult to finish with America sleepily muttering the words along with him, missing several words out and getting some wrong, but as enthusiastic as he could be in his current state about the lines that he did know. When he was finished Arthur gathered Alfred close and hugged him, all sense of embarrassment gone as he shut his eyes tight as they started to prickle. He stayed that way for some time, listening to the steady ticking from the clock above the fireplace. Alfred remained quiet, sniffling now and then as he breathed, until Arthur started once again, softly and without prompting.
“Twinkle, twinkle, little star,” he sang, stroking his fingers through Alfred’s hair. “How I wonder what you are. Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky... Alfred...?” Slowly and awkwardly he managed to tip his head enough to see that the younger nation’s eyes were closed, lips slightly parted, his breathing the deep and regular rhythm of one who is fast asleep. It didn’t take long for Arthur to realise that he wasn’t going to be moving. With a soft sigh he shut his eyes and rested his head back against the sofa, feeling his body relax and letting himself be lulled by the sound of the rain against the window.
England opened his eyes, attempting to move and discovering that sleeping sat up on a sofa didn’t do good things for an old man’s back. He winced, sitting up and stretching, before his eyes fell on the dining chair stood in front of the fire. Finally, his brain woke up and he heard somebody moving in the kitchen, and smelled something cooking that smelled delicious.
“Oh...” he murmured, brushing his fingers over the soft blanket that had been placed over his legs. Pushing it aside he got up, feeling like a stranger in his own home as he made his way to the kitchen and leaned against the door, finding America humming to himself while making some breakfast.
“The Grand ol’ Duke of York, hmm-hmm-hmm-thousand men, he marched them up to the top of the hill and he marched them down again.”
Arthur had to smile. He watched the younger nation fight with a tin of beans until he figured out how to use the tin-opener, pouring the lot into a pan and setting it on the hob before he moved to where a box of eggs and a packet of bacon already sat open on the counter. It was an impressive thing to watch as he broke eggs into a pan deftly with one hand while reaching over to switch the kettle on.
“And when they were up they were up, and when they were down they were down, and hmm-hmm-hmm-hmm-hmm-halfway up-hmm-hmm-hmm-hmm-up nor down.”
“You never could remember the words, could you Alfred,” England said from the doorway, walking in as America looked over at him, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose.
“Good morning, Arthur,” Alfred said cheerfully. “Breakfast?”
The elder nation frowned as he sat down, not sure if America remember anything that he had done last night, all of which had confused Arthur’s already befuddled emotions over him. From how he was acting-
“Tea. Bloody hell, America, you know that by now.”
-Arthur could swear he didn’t remember a thing... but then, this was how America always acted. Ten minutes later, he had a plate in front of him.
“Full English, I think you call it?” America said with a grin as he sat down with a plate of his own and a cup of strong coffee. Arthur raised one thick eyebrow.
“Where on God’s green earth did you learn how to cook black pudding?” he asked, unable to keep the admiration out of his voice as he picked up his knife and fork and tucked in.
“I have my secrets, Arthur,” was the mysterious reply. Arthur concluded that he had looked it up, and felt oddly touched, though didn’t mention it. He knew that Alfred liked to have his moments, and he so often burst the other’s bubble, but he was feeling charitable this morning. The two of them ate in silence, sipping at their respective drinks and enjoying each other’s quiet company, and when England finally sat back with a contented sigh and pushed his empty plate away America was already finished and gazing into the middle distance, his cup held up as if he was about to take a sip.
“America,” England waved his hand a little in an attempt to get the other’s attention. “Alfred?”
“Hm...?” He really had been in a daze. Even behind glass he could see that Alfred’s eyes were somewhere far away even as he looked at Arthur, who snapped his fingers loudly and frowned as Alfred shook his head and came quickly back to reality, swallowing a mouthful of coffee. “What?”
“Why did you ask me to sing to you?” It was a question that had been bothering him all morning. Apparently it hadn’t been one that America had wanted him to ask, for the taller nation flushed slightly and placed his cup down, pushing one hand through his unruly hair and straightening his glasses. What he said, though, was enough to bring a matching pink tinge to England’s cheeks and leave the elder sat there with his lips parted in shock.
“Because...” Alfred said, looking at something on the other side of the kitchen, his eyebrows drawn together in a small frown. “For that one night I wanted to feel like I was yours again. Is there something wrong with that?”
England stared at his companion until the silence stretched out so uncomfortably that America coughed slightly, and finally looked at him. Arthur’s voice sounded strange to his own ears when he finally spoke, a little hoarse and strained.
“... No, nothing,” he murmured.
Once again, silence descended, and Alfred stood up, clearing the plates from the table before he came back, scooting his chair around the table and sitting down. Arthur felt his heart thump, those pretty blue eyes far too close for comfort. A touch on his hand made him jump, glancing down to find Alfred’s fingers clasping his, a soft pressure that he responded to with a light squeeze of his own. He found that he couldn’t meet Alfred’s gaze, the urge to simply pull the younger nation to him too much of a temptation should he look at him.
There was a hint of something that sounded like desperation in America’s tone, his voice wobbly and unsure, free hand reaching up to slide two fingers along England’s jaw, cupping his cheek and gently forcing his head up, making him look at him. In all the years they had been together they had rarely been this close, and when they had it hadn’t incited such feelings in them, like their hearts were going to beat out of their chests in an effort to reach one another.
If he were honest with himself, America hadn’t only come because it was June the 24th. Of course, the date hadn’t helped to get England off his mind, and he hadn’t been able to take it any longer. It was just the worst luck that he’d got himself caught in that storm, and ended up needing to be cared for instead of saying what he had come to say. Alfred was not, and had never been very good at expressing his feelings – in fact he was better at hiding them, and he had been doing just that until now.
“I love you, Arthur,” he blurted out, England’s green eyes immediately snapping to his. That was it. That was bloody well it. Ignoring the scraping of the chair across the kitchen floor he moved closer and pressed his lips to Alfred’s. America stiffened, and for one wild, terrifying moment England thought he’d got it wrong, then the other nation relaxed, arms wrapping around Arthur’s shoulders as he met the kiss eagerly. It was like discovering Alfred all over again, claiming him with his lips, with the gentle warmth of their bodies pressed together, Arthur’s hands clasped tight on Alfred’s shoulders. America tasted of coffee and wild freedom, a taste that England could easily get drunk on. A little breathless, he drew back, though he was unwilling to let Alfred go yet, holding on to him as he murmured by his ear.
“I... I love you too, Alfred... I always have.”
“Really..? Why did I not notice?”
“... You’re an idiot, America.”