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Title: Work in (progress)
Summery: fem!England and America share a moment on VE day
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: characters don't belong to me

huge thanks to graceadee for beta reading this

America is sure that nothing in the world can wipe the smile off his face, not even the bitter taste at the back of his throat at what he is being forced to do to Kiku. He’ll make amends somehow, sometime but for now he lets the sheer volume of happiness emanating from the people around him seep into his bones. He feels as if his whole body is vibrating in time with the jubilation around him.
His arms are suddenly full and weighed down as England launches herself out of the crowd and into his arms. Buoyed by the cheering, victorious crowd, he takes the opportunity to twirl England around, pretending for just a moment they were just one of the many hundreds of young lovers celebrating being reunited. He braces himself for the inevitable barrage of insults and the lecture about propriety sure to follow. Instead he is rewarded with breathless laughter and a tightening of England's arms around his neck.
There is a pounding in his ears, the beat of his blood thundering through his veins matching the wall of sound around him and he thinks that he can feel it beneath his cheek as England holds him close. Skin to skin as they haven't been for centuries. He takes a deep breath breathing in the scent of her, a mixture of ration soap and perfume saved for a special occasion. He imagines her taking the bottle out of storage, hidden away, a small treasure to keep in the dark nights, a promise.
His arms wrap tightly around her middle, and he frowns at the overlap of his arms, she's too slender for his liking the deprivations of the war taking their toll on her body, this tiny body struggling to stretch across continents and keep her family safe. It will be another fifty or so years before America will stop having sleepless nights over her well being, before he is sure she is healing.
He sets her down and to his disappointment her arms slip from around his neck; he misses the feeling already, but England's hands sweep down his arms and land on his cuffs. America can feel the contours of her fingers through the material and it's wildly distracting.
"Wewonwewonwewon! Thank you!"
The words blend together making it almost impossible to understand her, but he understands the feeling. Emotion is lodged deep in his throat and he's not sure what will come out should he open his mouth but England seems not to notice his lack of reply.
America doesn't think he's ever seen her less composed, eyes shining impossibly bright, the neat victory rolls her hair has been pinned into slowly coming undone, small, delicate face unadorned with make up impossibly beautiful in her joy.
America is acutely aware that they are holding hands, fingers pressing together and it's nothing compared to what the hundreds of other couples are doing around them-certainly some bordering on bad taste even by America's standards but England seems unfazed, and she's holding on as tightly as America is.
He stares at their fingers as England talks, breathy and excited and not making a lick of sense but she needs this, he knows that much.
It's over he realises, the long years of standing side by side with England- being acknowledged as a equal, and a friend not simply a distant ally whose paths rarely crossed but was important enough not to ignore completely. He can see that new found warmth cooling into formality, each retreating to their corner of the world. Allies but not friends.
England tilts her head, and while everything has changed between them, she still knows him better than anyone and her ability to sense his mood is uncanny. He wonders what she would say if she knew the true extent of his feelings, if he told her what he had found within himself during a long night of planning, watching her pour over maps in the candle light.
The reason he has compromised his hard earned neutrality and his people's desire not to be involved in European wars.
It's something he knows better than to put into words. It is something he can deal with if he doesn't vocalise it even in his head but when England is like this, so close and being so gentle America feels his composure slip because he believes he sees an answering need in her.
England squeezes his fingers gently, a caress that sends every nerve ending America owns into life.
"What's the matter?" England presses, she takes a step closer, tilting her head up so they they are almost sharing the same breath.
He could kiss her without having to bend his head too far; he thinks she would let him.
"Nothing. It's just a crazy day. Lots of emotion"
England smiles, looking relieved although there is a shadow in her eyes.
"Ten minutes ago I was crying buckets and now I feel lighter than air. I suppose it's the relief of it all, perhaps I never truly thought it would end."
England's face is full of shadows despite the blinding sunshine, teeth worrying her full bottom lip and he can see bad memories pushing to the surface. He has never seen her falter, nor contemplate failure. He wonders what would have happened if he had.
America kicks himself for letting his composure slip, for putting sadness on England's face when there should be joy. For wishing for something that could never be.
"I suppose I should get back to work," England says, she's looking at the gold buttons on America's uniform, addressing them rather than America.
"There's so much to do and I'm here celebrating, I just wanted you to know how grateful I...we are."
His uniform suddenly feels constricting and he struggles to find a suitable reply. It's moments like this that make his resolve crack, he has a number of them, memories he takes out and studies in the middle of the night turning over every inflection and glance to find some meaning or sign.
"You deserve to celebrate," America counters, trying for a neutral reply that expressed how he felt without going too far.
"Well said young man!" America takes a step back as Churchill approaches, dressed in his signature black, the crowd parting for him effortlessly. Churchill winks at him as England's attention is diverted and America struggles not to shuffle his feet. Not since Washington has a leader made him feel so young. Churchill seems all knowing at times, seeing inside America and weighing him up; so far America has measured up.
He extends his hand and America takes it without question, his handshake is like the man himself, powerful, all encompassing and firm.
"You have my permission to use whatever means necessary to keep that smile on her face." His expressive face says far too much.
England opens her mouth to protest but Churchill rumbles on, "and should I find her at her desk or at work I shall hold you personally accountable."
America salutes smartly, grin firmly in place once more.
Churchill takes a drag of his cigar then uses it to point to a trestle table groaning underneath a mountain of food. Beside that stands a glass jar, pitted and with a slight crack on the side, obviously salvaged from a bomb site. Inside two small flags sat side by side, resting against each other, colours blending together.
The Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack.
"Something to consider hmm?"
America finds himself speechless.
Beside him England says softly, "Yes, it looks very well indeed.”