Promises, promises.

It's the little things that balance them out, England realizes. Fragments, really, aspects of their relationship that had steadily built them into what they are today. Like the way America kisses him when he's not looking and England calls him a horny bastard and how he'll just laugh and kiss him again. Or when the git starts belting out the lyrics to Beatles songs (and sometimes in public, too, as if it were a socially acceptable to do) because he knows England will join in at some point sooner or later, berating him for his tone or key or accent. Or like how England can now just run his fingers through America's hair whenever he feels like it and America can cup his jaw and both of them will mutually acknowledge the heat that pools in their stomach whenever this happens and they'll lean in closer and kiss and—well. Things happen.

Lots of things.

And it just struck him that in between the arguing and the theatrics and the spontaneous rounds of sex America and he had formed some sort of domesticity and peace that people rarely associated with the two.

"Has it ever occurred to you," England turns to say to America one night when they were doing dishes (America washes and England dries because the thought of America trying to handle his precious porcelain all slippery and wet and more breakable than when it was dry makes him extremely nervous) "That we now act exactly like a married couple?"

America's reaction is instantaneous.

America starts and almost drops the plate he was dunking in soapy water ("Mind the china!") as he chokes on his spit and blushes violently, and even though it seemed vaguely sadistic, England derives some satisfaction from the fact that America's the one blushing this time. And looking ridiculously adorable while doing so.

"W-what?" America fixes his glasses (leaving a blob of white foam at the corner of his frames) and stares at him, looking rather nervous (whether it was from surprise or disgust at the thought marrying him, England couldn't tell, but it did serve to twist a rather unpleasant knot in his gut). "England, what are you—"

"What I mean to say is," England interrupts, his cheeks now growing brilliantly red as well, inwardly kicking himself for bringing up the bloody stupid subject in the first place, "We—we practically live together when we're not doing work at our houses. We cook for each other and clean up together. We know all of each other's favourite furniture brands (America had insisted on IKEA, while England tirelessly espoused the virtues of Althorp's Antiques), for god's sake. Don't you think it—don't you think it all sounds awfully domestic to you?"

America pauses, wiping the blob of soap off his glasses as the knot in England's belly grows tighter and more uncomfortable, his eyebrows knitted in a frown. "Well, yeah," He says, and England mentally breathes a sigh of relief that America's first words were not 'I would never marry you; get out of my sight, you freak', which was decidedly very un-America-like, but love did strange things to people's imaginations—"But it's not like—it—it's not as if…" Here, he trails off, a thoughtful expression on his features, before those brilliant blue eyes of his widen behind his glasses. "Oh, god. You're right. You're totally right. We are like a married couple."

"America…"

America looked like he was on the verge of completely panicking now, with the kind of breathing and frenzied look in his eyes that only came to those who were either having extremely informative epiphanies or epileptic seizures.

"Americ-"

"No, I mean, seriously!" America almost shouts, arms flailing around (and splattering water on England's nice clean countertop, England notes, cringing mentally). "We spend entire nights with you just embroidering and shit while I put my head on your lap and then I complain you'll poke my eye out with the freaking needle and you tell not to be silly because you've been doing this for centuries and I have never once removed anybody's eye with my sewing and I'm not about to start, you git and we argue over whose version of The Office is better and then we go to sleep and sleep on the same bed and we're totally like Sweden and Finland, only without the dog!"

Oh, for the love of-

"And the kid," America adds a second later as an afterthought, while a mental image of Sealand cursing and calling him a jerk for forgetting him pops into his head.

England wonders exactly when did his taste in men start to stray towards 'overreacting idiots'.

"America," He says, placing a hand on his shoulder. "We are not like Finland and Sweden."

"Oh yeah?" America is looking at him with that half-daring, half-disbelieving face of his, the one that says 'nothing you say will convince me'. "Then prove it."

"Well," England pauses, the knot of tension in his stomach uncoiling rapidly at America's over the top response, and it amazes him at how America could be assuring even when he was being ridiculous. "We do spend a rather large amount of time fighting, for one, over issues Finland and Sweden certainly couldn't care less about."

America frowns, still looking unconvinced.

"Also...if you ever decide to refer to me as 'm'wife', I'll kick your arse to high heaven."

At this, America laughs, and the knot disappears completely, leaving in a poof of satisfaction and butterflies that stay flapping around his stomach, small and light and curiously ticklish, like a feeling akin to joy. "Yeah, you probably would, huh?"

"Damn right I would. Like hell I'm the woman of this relationship."

"But England, you totally do all these girly things like embroider and drink tea and talk to invisible unicorns. Sounds like you're kind of a woman to me!"

"Git." England throws the kitchen towel at him, the ends catching America in the face, but there was a half-smile on the Briton's lips nevertheless. "And clean up the mess you made on the counter. It's just sloppy, the way you go flinging water around."

America just smiles again, making England's heart pound, his eyes shining, and begins to wipe down the sprays of soap across the surface while England finished up the dishes.

And for a few minutes, they work in silence, the air heavy with the sort of contentment you could only get from enjoying one another's presence. But the niggling thought of 'an old married couple' still persisted in England's mind, gnawing at him, and he finds himself opening his mouth again while his thoughts told him tokeep his mouth shut and don't make a fool out of himself in front of America, 'you've already seen his reaction and that's answer enough, now stop wasting your time with this stupid thought that's not really even an issue and make you sound like one of those clingy girlfriends obsessed over the idea of rings and families and—'

"But honestly, what do you think of us now? Acting like a married couple, I mean," England blurts out while his thoughts scream at him to shut the hell up already and to stop talking, stop talking right now.

But the damage was already done, and America froze, his back to England so he couldn't see his reaction.

'You've done it now, old boy. You acted too early and now you've probably freaked him out and he'll break up with you then tell everybody what a clingy old biddy you've been…'

However, to England's surprise, when America turns around, he didn't have the face of someone who was profoundly repulsed and was going to break up with you and grind your heart into the ground, or someone who was going to completely freak out like he did again during the 'Finland-and-Sweden' episode, but instead just looked rather bashful, with the tips of his ears red. Like he was embarrassed to be admitting something.

"Well, honestly?" America spreads his palms across the countertop in a nervous gesture England knows quite well, keeping his eyes to the ground, face reddening. "Honestly, I always that someday we would…yanno. Tie the knot. Get hitched. Upgrade the whole 'Special Relationship' and all."

…Oh.

Oh. This definitely wasn't something he was expecting. England blushes again, and wonders if there ever had been two individuals so stupidly prone to blushing around one another.

"Ah." He murmurs, throat constricting in a manner that seemed to have a direct correlation with America's words. "Ah. I see." This throat constriction also seemed to take away his ability to say words that were of more than one syllable.

"I mean, no offense, but you're totally the kind of guy people would get married to, England." Oh dear god, America was babbling now. He always babbled whenever he felt things got too awkward. "Well, I guess some people would have some problems with the whole 'used to be a pirate and teen delinquent' thing but now that you're all about being a gentleman and bergamot and all that shit, you're practically already one of those old cranky married people, only without the married part, and besides, I want to do that. Marry you, I mean." America mutters, his voice suddenly very quiet as he continued to have his staring contest with the floor. "Kind of goes with whole 'spend the rest of my life with the person I love', ya know?"

Then America looks up with this worried, hopeful look in his blue, blue eyes and England's heart suddenly stops beating.

"Ah." He says again, because there's nothing better to say.

"England…?" And this time there's this sort of intimacy and vulnerability in America's voice that makes England want to kiss him and fiercely wrap his body around him at the same time and he feels such a strong surge of affection for the person standing in front of him, for America, that bloody foolish boy, who would be so beautifully honest and lay out so much of his heart for England to see that England wants nothing more than to fall, just fall into him, and stay there forever.

"Oh, America," England murmurs, and that's all he can say. All he needs to say, really. "America, you idiot. Can you really imagine us with a house and a dog and one of those ridiculous minivans and—and—"

"And two point four blue-eyed, messy-haired children? Hell yeah." America grins, wrapping a hand around England's. "You'd be an awesome mom, y'know. You could bake cookies and knit baby booties and—well, maybe not bake cookies, we don't want to give the kids food poisoning—"

"Don't be ridiculous. My cooking is wonderful and nourishing. And me, as the mother? So you could be the dad, with your—your paralyzing fear of ghosts and inability to sit through horror films—you'd make a fine role model, you will."

"Okay, okay. We'll both be dads, yeah? And we'll get married in this gigantic, splashy wedding and do the dishes every night and be the most awesome family in the whole entire world!" America finishes, beaming as he grabs England's other hand and entwines their fingers together.

"Very well, git." England says, his eyes lowered as he grows steadily redder. This whole conversation was completely and utterly ridiculous, of course. And beyond unrealistic. But somehow, when he's speaking and enjoying himself like this with America, it seems that the sardonic side of his mind that's snarking about how impossible the whole scenario is and how they're wasting time talking about it and where the bloody hell would the kids come from anyway, stays quiet, and those things didn't really matter. Because this was America and America automatically made him more tolerant of stupidly impossible things, somehow. It was one of the things England so loved (and at times despaired, because he could feel his IQ and common sense lowering because of it) about him.

"We'll just need to be given a couple more years, then? A few more and we'll be as good as done."

"We don't need a few more years, we've already got, like, a century on most people—ooh, England, England, let's get married tomorrow! We could just pop by the clergy and sign our names—it'll only take a sec—"

"America, we are not getting married tomorrow."

"Why not?"

"Well, we'll need to make preparations, of course. Inform your boss and mine, and then actually arrange the bloody wedding and what about rings? Are you just going to conjure one out of thin air or pull off the tab of one of those soda cans?"

"Rings. Oh yeah." America stops bouncing on the balls of his feet (which England was quite glad for, as their hands were still linked together and he was being jostled unceremoniously around due to the bouncing as well) and looked thoughtful. "It'll take some time to pick one out. And I'd probably want to engrave yours, too."

"An inscription, you say? What would you put on it?" And England was indeed curious at that one, craning his neck forward to hear the answer and trying to ignore the rapid beating of his heart.

"I dunno. 'Be mine', or 'yours forever', or something like that."

Yours forever. Be mine. Thu-thump. Thu-thump. Thu-thump. Without another word, England leans over and crashed his lips into America's, their breaths mingling as their lips moved against each other's in a silent story.

Then, when they part, both of them red-faced and out of breath, with his voice warm against the curve of England's ear, America asks "Hey, England, what would your inscription say?"

...Well.

A jumble of words and memories instantly bombard him—eternal and sky and always and laughing too hard in the rain and too-big clothes draped around his frame and everything that was America, that was him and America, tangled in a radiant, indecipherable mess like telephone wires wrapped 'round poles or limbs swathed in sheets and voices in unison, singing and laughing and moaning—

"I'll have to think about that one." England finally says, and America just grins at him again.

"Well, don't take too long, old man. I mean, it's not like I wouldn't spend the rest of my life waiting up for you, but don't strain your mind thinking up a line that sounds like it came out of ye olde booke of flowery and totally indecipherable poetry, okay?"

"Idiot. Those books are examples of fine literature, I'll have you know. Just because you're too much of a blockhead to actually crack open a book and read something…"

"Yeah, yeah, I know. Complete lack of appreciation for literature, can't recognize good writing to save my life…"

"Well, don't worry about me taking forever, at any rate. You're not the only one who wants this, you know."

"Right. Well, I'm totally going to propose first, anyway, so I guess you won't need to worry about rings and all that crap."

"Like hell you are." England gives America a halfhearted shove, ignoring the warmth in his chest that was continually blossoming as they spoke. "The whole thing would probably be horribly tacky."

America smiles at him. "You can just wait and see, then."

"Well, if you think I'm just going to sit around and wait like some sort of bloody princess, then your intelligence has waned even more than I suspected." England shoots back, squeezing their hands tighter.

For a moment, they simply still and look into each other's eyes, grinning like a pair of idiots. Then they go back to doing the dishes, talking and teasing and working tranquilly and England finds that he's very grateful for all the little things indeed.