Based on the drabble Half-Life from my story The World, Piece By Piece.

Crumbling From Life

"He is nearing."

England did his best not to scowl, succeeding as the small creature landed on his shoulder.

"Thank you Llyr."

"Do wish us to rid you of him, Arthur?" she questioned.

"A tempting wish, but it would be better a task for myself. Thanks for the offer."

Mabon laughed. "He turns you absolutely mad! You will wish many times you took our offer."

"Certainly," England snorted, looking around. Rhoswen pushed her nose against him and he patted her neck absently. "Go bother Scotland," he gave the Unicorn one final stroke and stood up a hand sweeping over his shoulder picking up Llyr as she went from his fingertips and into the air.

"Arthur," sighed Oren, even though the forest spirit stared back into his trees.

"Brother, brother, it has been too long!"

"Do not gaze upon me so! He has been speaking as though I have hoarded you all," England scolded the reluctant creatures.

Francis stopped, stared, and rolled his eyes. "Oh non..."

"What?" England turned to stare up at the elder nation. Francis gave a wicked smirk.

"Should I return after you are finished playing with yourself?"

"No. You just should not return," England retorted. Francis laughed. England became even more irritated.

"You love me too much, I fear," France sighed.

England kicked him. France hissed an intake of breath, holding his shin. "Take this as my answer and depart! Leave me alone!"

France recovered quickly. "I think not, mon petit maker of trouble. You have peaked too much of my interest!"

England scowled. "I know what you do with peaked interest."

Too well, he feared. Yet probably not as much as what was there. For that reason England feared France. He hoped their history would not be long.

Saying as much actually upset France and England would regret his words.

Do you hate him, or do you love him? questioned Styles, from up upon the cliff face Arthur would hide from the probability of either.

"Neither, my friend," he would reply. He was the friend England wished would come less often.

But he had plenty of time. With Cenweard, Muirne, Boda, Maurelle, Ygrayne... he had plenty of friends to pass the time. He had plenty of time which to pass.

It was good.

"Why did you not warn me he was there?" he asked. Boda looked a bit surprised and Benelus rose in the air to see what England was referring to.

"Sorry, lax on the job," Benelus sighed, resting on England's other shoulder. "But you have been pushing for a life of self sufficiency..."

Ygrayne nipped at his hand. England ignored the reprimand.

"We turn our backs and you become a succubus," Boda agreed. England tried to ignore the words.

"He is different than we," Merrow informed the fae. "Do not pretend to understand someone who embodies everything around us."

"You can say that, you enjoy that he is spending so much time in water," Boda retorted.

"Stop it, both of you," England stopped them before a fight could break out. "Times change, Boda. The Sea, as dangerous as she will always be, is not as impossible as once believed. I will make the most of this."

Merrow laughed, pealing from beautiful to a shriek before heading back under the waves. Benelus snickered.

"You'll be caught in a bout of bad weather now, Arthur," he informed him. England was inclined to agree, but it would be worth it.

They vanished as Spain appeared once more, worn. England laughed and plundered his shores.

"I'm trying to stop the pirates, believe me," he would inform the other. Spain smiled in assurance.

He would still hide with Styles, when things became too much. When he suddenly wondered what happened to the silent world he used to live in, when he knew who was speaking to him.

You love this one, I know, he told England, soothing him. England would stare down from the cliff and into the waters.

"Not enough," he responded, knowing the truth. He watched his people turn from unions which would further their lives to love. Love, pure and simple. Love caused people to do strange things.

They were countries though, and England was certain it was impossible for any of them to love like that. Which is why he could give up and let France take him so many times. Which is why he would force Spain without the other's consent, soon to appear to forget afterwards. Soon to ask him for help him again.

The sick thing was how satisfying it all was.

But times were changing and all though that was not the perfect alibi nor excuse, it was the same one that every other nation used.

And his friends (his true friends) were still there for him, weathering the changes.

It was not too bad.

"He's coming," Llyr told him, reminiscent as how she would always say it. England would allow her perch on his hand and she would accept.

"Where's Elva?" he asked, ignoring the fact of the one who was coming.

"You know she cannot stand him. Almost as bad as you," Llyr sighed, pushing her long hair back.

Because he made the mistake of naming the child after her, most likely. It was rather quiet. England tried to cherish it while he could, before sudden noise would break the spell. It was just the two of them. It almost felt as if there was a hole in his heart. But while she was there, it was fine.

"Arthur, you love me still, right?"

"Of course!" he exclaimed, surprised there was even the doubt.

"No matter what the world says?"

"No matter what anything in the universe says," he corrected, gaining a smile from her. "You and your siblings and our neighbors... all of the People... Never forget this."

He understood why they were not around often. They never came around when he was around the other nations. They did not like being near those who payed them no attention. And as the world grew smaller – no, as there was suddenly less things in it – he could not avoid the other countries even when he wanted to. They were becoming his common surroundings and his precious friends would wait until he someone managed to escape everything.

England would try and manage. It was difficult to juggle everything as it were, but he would manage. He was successful so far. He would not forget.

Just as long as they did not, he would be happy.

"We could never," Llyr responded, kissing his cheek before she left.

"Hey, England!"

"What the hell do you want America?" he grumbled, turning to face the other. "I'm busy!"

America stared at him for a moment, seemed to take in mind the empty room, then shrugged off every observation he had made. If anything had even managed to cram into that head stuffed with absolute crap.

"You're not doin' anything. You can't be busy," America laughed, clapping a hand on his shoulder. England tried his hardest not to wince. America always seemed to forget his strength. No, that was not appropriate. America just never seemed to be aware of the affect he had on other people unless it was the effect he wanted.

"Want to know what I am doing?" England questioned. "It's called getting-away-from-you. Good day."

America laughed again as England turned his back on him. "But no, seriously England. China wanted me to give you these papers."

England turned, hoping that excuse was the truth. A closer look towards America did reveal some papers. "Well then?"

America was about to outstretch his arm, but then hesitated. "Nah..." he retracted the papers before England could grab them. "You insulted me! Not wanting me around? I should make you pay for that, before I give you the papers."

"By God America!" England shouted. "Give me the papers or I'll... set your shoes on fire!"

America blinked. "You'll... set my shoes on fire?"

England did not budge. Not the best threat he could have given, but he had been trying to think of a new one for ages. Most of the old ones did not work anymore. Especially since America stopped drinking so much tea. "Yes. Yes I will."

And people wondered why he would rather spend time with his 'imaginary friends'. Even if they were imaginary – which they were not – they still would be more pleasant than most of these countries.

Even if he did manage to grab those papers.

It was becoming harder to find Styles, but when he did England would stay for as long as he could, crying from the nostalgia of it all.

Your heart hurts, my friend, he ran his fingers through England's hair, smoothing it where it had been mussed in his frantic search. It is turning cold and you are now only keeping love in those who's times have long since disappeared.

"Disappeared?" England questioned, trying to remember a way of speaking which he was somehow becoming rusty in. "No, you can never disappear."

Of course not, he laughed. But Our time has long since been over. We will always be here. Never worry, We are those whom your people can never chase away. The Earth will die with Us, remember.

"Then I am fine with this love," England remarked. "I will suffer the rest of the world just for this love."

You do not suffer the world, Styles reprimanded his lie. That has always been what you have told Us, but it is not true. You belong in this world, never forget this.

England would not.

Because no matter what happened, he was never alone.

And so it was very easy to deal with the change. Even the changes that were severe, the changes he did not like. He could survive them and become better.

He existed and therefore was alive.

There came a day which England went looking for Styles.

He went looking for a very long time.

"This is not funny. Play hard to get, but I need to speak with you." England stopped, trying to say it again. "Play hard to... Play... Play hard to get, but–"

England went home.

There was no one there at all.

He was alone.

His chest hurt, he could not breathe, everything was too hot, too cold, he could not hold still, he was not real, he seemed to see the world through another lens.

England had never felt like this before. Eventually he passed out on the couch.

He slept for a long time.