Author: Me! Crazymonkey7137
Characters: America and England
Rating: PG? England's character coming off as a little possessive would be the only reason for that
Warnings: Umm, England being possessive (reflective of the time perios which is pre-Revolution America)
Summary: England contemplates his charge and comes to some realizations. Namely, that children grow too fast and parents are incapable of handling that.
The title for this fic comes from a song by Sufjan Stevens. Check it out! It's a great song and Sufjan Stevens made two albums based off of Michigan and Illinois respectively. Great America soundtrack stuff.
“If my gaze were to stray from you, would you run away,” mused the old country. The child did not respond. He simply continued to stare unblinking into the sky, entranced either by the blueness or the vastness or the heavens. “Or perhaps not. Perhaps you would fly off, like a bird.” And there he scooped up the child, tickling him under his chin. “Well, you little rascal, would you fly and leave me alone? Leave me to my sea and ocean and ships? Well, America?”
The child turned his gaze to his guardian. “Of course not, England,” he assured solemnly. “I’d never leave you.”
But never is a hard promise to keep, he wanted to insist. Never is forever and can you really keep a promise forever? But he never voiced these concerns to the babe. Perhaps a child could keep a promise forever, because forever was not so long to them. Perhaps America could be his for all time, to love, to cherish, to keep the loneliness at bay. And was he, England, not sufficiently powerful enough to do so? Could he not, great as he was, keep America his forever?
The child tugged on his sleeve. “England,” he whined. “England!”
“What is it, America?”
“The sky,” the boy said, little chubby fist gesturing to it. “It’s beautiful.”
And would that not be a harbinger of things to come? A warning, an omen? For all his talents in magic, even England could not have divined the answer to that.
But the boy continued to gesture, large sweeping motions of his arms. He carried on, oblivious to the darker thoughts of man who held him. “It’s pretty, England! It’s so pretty. It just goes on and on. Like the ocean. Except,” he paused, struggling for the right words. “Except this can be mine.”
“Yours, dear boy?” England frowned.
The boy nodded in ascent. “Yeah! I have the sky and you have the sea. It’s perfect.”
Perfect. Perfect was the light bending in the form of a halo around the child’s head. Perfect was this moment, preserved, pressed between the pages of an old text to be saved for the future. Perfect was fleeting, swift and fading, losing itself as the sun inched lower on the horizon. Because the sky and the sea existed separately of one another, in their own spheres. And the sea was bound, confined to the earth, whereas the sky was endless. But America was much too young to be able to consider the connotations of his simple words and England was much too old to waste time on pondering the mere ramblings of a boy.
Maybe that could be considered the fist folly of the old nation--to pay no heed to the words of others. If that was the first, then the second would have been this:
To give freedom and to take it away.
America’s growth was that of a weed. Not entirely noticeable at first, until it had possessed the lawn and shot up toward the sky. It was England’s mistake to ignore said weed, until it had spread itself too far and embedded itself too deep into the soil to be easily removed.
The man-child stood in a position of grave contemplation. England wanted to—he wanted to lift his hand and smooth the lines off the young face, wanted to bring peace to his charge. He found himself too cowardly to do so.
“Is this some form of punishment?” America questioned. “What have I done to bring forth the ire of my mother-nation?”
“Besides starting a war you needed me to finish?” England asked dryly. He was seated at a sparsely decorated table, covered only by simple white linen. America’s love for homemade bits and bobbles included his own home, leading to rough, hand-carved furniture and homespun clothes. It left much to be desired.
England remembered a child who watched him embroider, small stitches leading to a beautiful pattern. England remembered a child who attempted to learn, but found more joy in the wearing of something handmade than in the delicate art behind it. In his mind, England grasped that child and held him forever.
But the boy in front of him could hardly still be called a boy, despite his awkward limbs. America was growing, filling out. He was no longer a child who gazed unblinking into the sky. Now he reached towards it, disappointed when his fingers fell short of the clouds.
The boy was speaking, leaning over the table to gaze pleadingly at England. He was thumping his hands in exasperation on the table, little puffs of dust flying up and off the white cloth. England wondered, a little dazedly, if that meant America went without even that simple decoration for most of the year. If America sat at a plain wood table while he whittled something away, bare feet scrapping onto a bare floor.
“—England,” America was finishing saying. “England. What do you say?”
The sky, thought England. The sky was no place for little boys with oversized cuffs, no place for little boys who wandered without thought or care for the world about them. If he was the sea, then it was his duty to tie America to the circumference of this world, to tether and hold him at the horizon.
“No,” he answered. He was not even sure of the request.
America looked frustrated by his response. “My people—”
“—they are my people still, British America. You would do well to remember that,” England reminded him.
And was he being too harsh? Was he being the unforgiving task master that America had never experienced? That he had never shown to his young colony, for fear of scaring him away?
Did he not have the right to do so?
England stood and crossed over to the angry young colony. “I understand your frustration, America. Believe me, I do. But you need to trust me. I am only doing what is best for you.”
And he was, though the poor child could hardly see it. England loved America over all others. He loved America with a ferocity that scared him at times, that confused and addled his brain.
“Now,” England said primly. “Now is not the time for such serious talk. I’ve only just arrived. Surely you’ve missed me.”
Was it cruel to test the boy’s affections and loyalties? But the return to Europe was always a bitter one and England had missed America so very much.
America looked horrified at the suggestion that he could have felt otherwise. “Of course I missed you England! I always miss you.” His voice grew softer. “I hate it when you go back to Europe. You know that.”
England found himself smiling at that. “And I hate to return and leave you here by yourself. I worry what my neglect could possibly lead to. However, this is hardly the time for such talk.”
“I have missed you,” the boy promised earnestly. “I thought about you every day. And I tried to fix up the house before you came and everything!”
America took him by the hand and started to tug him around the house, all the while narrating what had changed since England had last been there. A new rug over the threshold, a portrait on the wall in the sitting room--all minor changes, the house still too large, too open for one inhabitant. Or perhaps that was just the sentiment of a tired, old island nation, who was used to spending his time confined in a small space with many others. America never seemed to complain about the sheer size of his home; never seemed to get lost in its labyrinths, confused and needing direction. If anything, he seemed at peace there, lost in his home. Maybe England was being cruel again, tearing him away from the maze with his presence, as he had torn away the babe from his forest and high grass and wild animals—from the peace of the wild to the savagery of civilization.
He found himself possessed with the desire to ask if America resented him at all, for tearing him away from the forest. It was the type of desire that drove small children to pull the tails of animals; an infantile, cruel curiosity that tucked itself behind a gentle smile and a guiding hand and a sharp edge in the eyes.
“Here’s the best part!” America exclaimed. He had guided them to a small bit of land in which only grass had occupied last summer. Now, a tall oak sapling had started to grow, thin branches green with life. England stared at it impassively. He felt, suddenly, as if all the strength in him had fled at a great speed
“I planted it after you left!” America continued on cheerfully. “Look how big it’s got already!”
“Yes,” England agreed after a few moments, staring at America. “It has gotten so very big in such little time.”
References (Or the section where I try to remember what I learned in AP US History):
The French/Indian War—Considered the North American theater of the Seven Years’ War. It led to an increased presence of Britain in North America and brought Canada under English rule. It also effectively wiped out the majority of French presence in North America. The consequence of the war was that it also led to a large debt in England and an increased number of troops in the colonies. The debt led to taxes and acts, which upset the colonists.
Salutary neglect—the principle that England operated under for a long time in regards to the colonies. Essentially, it was “Let’s just ignore them and use them for goods and stuff.” This principle led to the increased sense of independence in the colonies as they were largely allowed to govern themselves and is a large factor as to why the colonists reacted so badly when they began to experience increased taxes (even though, really, they weren’t that high in comparison to other British colonies at the time).I'm thinking of expanding upon this story more, but let me know what you guys think. In no way does this story feel done to me. Also, this was an experiment in style for me, because I suck at past tense and dialog. So feel free to point out any mistakes.