Once both girls were clean and dry, Arthur helped them into pajamas while Alfred locked the house up tight. Luckily, Rose was just about Emma's size, and fit into one of her spare nightgowns. Carefully, Arthur combed their hair- making sure to work through the many knots and snarls in Rose's hair before pulling it into a braid and tying it with a blue ribbon.
"There," he said softly, kissing Emma's cheek, then Rose's, "You two are as pretty as princesses."
"Thank you, Mummy," Emma said, returning the kiss. Rose only blushed and smiled softly.
"Everything's locked up tight," Alfred said, approaching the three other occupants of the house. He knelt down and looked Rose in the eye with a smile. "That means nothing can get in, and we're all safe, so you can sleep and have good dreams, alright?"
Rose nodded, and looked over at Emma. She felt like she should do something nice, like give Alfred a hug or a kiss. Emma gave her a bright smile, and Rose rocked back and forth on the balls of her feet before she stumbled forwards and awkwardly wrapped her arms around Alfred.
The American froze for a moment in surprise before he reciprocated the hug. Rose felt so small and skinny, even compared to Emma, and it only made him more determined to help her.
"And that means that it is bedtime," Arthur said, "Emma, is it alright if Rose sleeps in your room for a little while?"
"Mmmhm!" Emma hummed excitedly. Alfred released Rose from the hug and laughed, giving Emma a hug as well.
"Alright, well why don't you two girls go with Arthur to pick out a story, and I'll go get a sleeping bag and some pillows for Rosie. Your bed's a little too small for two, Em," he added, before his daughter could suggest anything.
The girls were shuffled off with Arthur, and Alfred went to find the softest, warmest sleeping bag they had, along with the fluffiest spare pillows. It wasn't fair- he wanted to give Rosie a bed. But even if they could just magically whip one up, it wouldn't be fair to give her something so permanent if they might have to take it away later. He'd have to talk to Arthur- to convince him one hundred percent that they could take care of Rose and the new baby and Emma all together. It would be okay, he knew it! And at least Arthur had said 'we'll see', rather than an outright 'no'; Arthur's 'we'll see's had always been almost as good as a yes.
By the time Rosie was all set up in Emma's room, it almost felt normal- like Em was having her first sleep-over, rather than bringing home a new sister that Alfred wanted to keep forever and ever and never let get hurt again. And Alfred was sure Emma was magic- already, she had Rosie smiling more brightly than before, and not shying away from goodnight hugs and kisses.
Almost as soon as he and Arthur stepped out, Alfred could hear muffled giggles coming from inside their daughter's bedroom. Emma's he recognized, and it took him a moment to comprehend that the other voice was Rose's. He looked over at Arthur with a small, hopeful smile. Arthur flashed him a sad smile in return.
"Please, Arthur. She doesn't have anywhere else to go. She's happy here."
"Alfred, she could have parents out there. How would you feel if we lost Emma and someone else adopted her?" Arthur asked, leading them back to their own bedroom.
"No one's reported her missing," Alfred said, "No one, Arthur."
Arthur's shoulders tensed as he undressed for bed, and Alfred came up behind him to wrap his arms around his belly, and rest his chin on his husband's shoulder. Arthur sighed.
"She can stay for a little while," he finally relented, using the same tone of voice that he had when Alfred was only a little colony, and brought home a new bunny-friend to love, "I'll- I'll look into her past, and any paperwork that we need to fill out."
"Aw, Arthur, you're the best!"
"-But, if she has a family that wants her back, she's going back, do you hear me? So no mentioning this to either one of the girls until we know for sure, alright?"
The next morning Rose woke up from a nightmare, breathing hard and shaking. She couldn't remember the dream, only that it was scary, but when she woke up a little more, her heart started pounding again.
Her borrowed nightgown and sleeping bag were wet and cold. She closed her eyes tightly and held her breath, trying not to cry or wake anyone up. Maybe she was still having a bad dream. But the wetness didn't go away, and she let out a little sob unwillingly.
Emma climbed out of bed and sat next to the other little girl, giving her shoulder a little shake. Rose flinched and covered her face- now as red as her hair.
"Oh, you had an accident, didn't you?"
Emma's voice wasn't mean or angry, but Rose cried a little harder as she nodded. It was embarrassing, and she'd gotten the nice things Alfred and Arthur had given her- and Emma's nightgown- dirty. They wouldn't like her anymore. They'd make her leave the house, and she'd be all alone again.
Another voice. Arthur. When had Arthur gotten there? Emma must have gone to get him. Rose simply tried to shrink further into herself, but gentle hands pulled her close and petted her hair. She smelled tea, and something else that she couldn't put her finger on, but she knew that it meant that Arthur hadn't been up long before he came in.
"There there, Rosie," Arthur said softly, "It's alright. Nothing we can't clean up. Alfred will put the sleeping bag in the wash with your nightgown, and I'll help you wash up, and then we'll have some breakfast. Do you like pancakes?"
Rose nodded, still too mortified to talk. She could hear Alfred cleaning up the sleeping bag, and asking Emma to help him with breakfast.
"Good- Emma likes them as well, and I must say, they are a type of food that Alfred cooks remarkably well. Even if they are drowning in butter and syrup."
"Hey! That's what makes them taste so good!"
"Yes, well, let's go get washed up, shall we?" Arthur asked, "I'm afraid you'll have to walk, Rose, I can't carry you. There's a girl."
Arthur kissed her cheek as she stood up, and shuffled her off to the bathroom to wash and get dressed. She missed the way that he glanced over at Alfred, a strange, reluctant smile on his face.
Once she was cleaned up and freshly dressed, Arthur brought her back out to the kitchen, where Emma had already set the table, and was eagerly waiting for the breakfast that Alfred had promised. The kitchen was warm, and it smelled like bacon, and the sharp smell of coffee.
"Almost done," Alfred said, pouring both girls a glass of orange juice, and handing a cup of tea over to Arthur.
"Thank you, Love," Arthur murmured, giving his husband a small smile.
"It, um…" A small voice said, "It smells really good. I can't wait for breakfast. Thank you f-for everything."
Both nations turned to look at the Rose, whose whole face was a bright strawberry-red. She quickly took a gulp of her orange juice, even as Emma hugged her tightly.
"It does smell good, doesn't it?" she chirped, "It always does!"
"Yes, yes it does," Arthur murmured, "And you're wyou'murmured, "elcome. We're very glad to have you here."
As Alfred served breakfast, Arthur kept a close eye on the girl in his daughter's clothes. They fit her well enough, sure, but there was something off about it. Like she wasn't wearing them properly, even though he had dressed her himself. She was too careful for a girl her age not to get her clothes dirty- her movements stiff and unnatural. Like she was wearing priceless silks instead of the simple cottons usually reserved for children.
Then it hit him.
"Rosie? How would you like some clothes of your own?"
"I thought you said we weren't going to be able to keep her forever," Alfred whispered to Arthur as they strolled through the little girl's section of the department store. The British nation was hiding beneath multiple layers to conceal his baby bulge, but he had refused to stay home, saying that if he left it up to Alfred, Rose's clothes would all be too-bright and mismatched. Not to mentioned that he'd likely spoil them with sweets.
"I said we might not be able to adopt her," Arthur sniffed, watching Emma pull Rose through the rows of racks of clothes and point out the ones that she thought were pretty. Slowly, Rose began to pull Emma in other directions, showing off her own tastes.
"And she ought to have her own clothes, anyways. If she must leave, then she can take her clothes with her. It'll be better than sending her off in the rags she came to us in."
"Yeah, I guess you have a point," Alfred said, smiling as Rose and Emma waited by a certain rack of clothes, unable to reach to take them down. The outfit displayed was sweet and girly, but not too frilly. Striding over, he picked up the proper size from the rack.
"Is this one you want?" he asked, holding the outfit to Rose. The little girl nodded, a shy smile breaking out on her face.
"Alright, go find some more, okay?" he said, "You can't just wear one outfit all the time, no matter how much you like it. Er, well, I suppose you can, but it's not much fun."
The two girls nodded again, and then darted off, leaving Alfred holding a cute lilac-colored dress. Yeah, he was still getting used to little-girl stuff, but he was an awesome dad! This was nothing. He looked around for Arthur, wondering if his husband would notice how awesome he was being. He couldn't see him anywhere in the girl's department, but he did spot a familiar blond mop of hair off in the infant's department nearby. He grinned, feeling a little goofy as he thought about the new life growing within the British nation.
A short while later, they exited the department store with several new, mostly purple, outfits for Rose, hair ribbons for both of the girls, and a few newborn onesies carefully kept hidden from Rose's eyes. They couldn't risk letting her know about the baby, not if she might leave and spread the word to other people. Alfred had to mentally applaud Emma for not spilling the beans yet.
As soon as they were home, Arthur ordered Alfred to take all the tags off Rose's clothes and wash them. As the British nation puttered off to his office, Alfred grumbled bossy at his retreating back, but with little heat. After all, Arthur going so quickly to his office with no mention of his government, and how they couldn't do anything without him seemed to bode well. Turning to the girls, still holding shopping bags in both hands, Alfred grinned.
"Hey, Em, why don't you show Rose our collection of Superman movies?" he suggested, "Or you could watch the Justice League cartoon. And then you guys can help me with lunch, okay? How does ravioli sound?"
"Okay, Daddy!" Emma chirped, taking Rose's hand and pulling her towards the living room. Alfred watched her pull out the correct DVDs, laying them out on the floor for Rose to choose from, and he couldn't help but think what it would be like when they were truly sisters. Shaking his head, he wandered down to the laundry room.
Arthur didn't come down for lunch, or dinner. In fact, the only times that Alfred saw him that day were the few times he came downstairs a fresh pot of tea. He seemed to be in a good mood, though, as he accepted both Rose and Emma's drawing of 'princess-superheroes' with a warm smile. Alfred's hopes inched up a little higher.
He finally came down in time to tuck them in, and when both girls were sleeping soundly in Emma's room, and he and Alfred were lying in bed, Arthur couldn't help but smile.
"Any guesses as to why I was locked up all day?" he teased. Alfred merely snuggled closer.
"Hm… is it about our little guest?" he asked.
Arthur hummed and nodded happily.
"They want to take a couple of weeks to consider it," he said quietly, "But… I think that they're going to say yes."
It wasn't long before Rose became situated within the family. She had taken to following Arthur everywhere, except when Emma pulled her away to play, and even calling him 'Mummy' after Emma had finally slipped up. She hadn't even questioned it, though Arthur suspected that was because she hadn't had parents of her own, nor had she had very much interaction with many other people. She was still very young and impressionable-no one had taught her that mothers were usually women.
Arthur was the one she ran to after she had a night terror and wet the bed , the only one she allowed to comb her hair because she knew that he would never hurt her, and the one who she insisted had to read them stories at night after the first few nights of being captivated by Peter Pan. Alfred was, naturally, quite jealous.
"She loves you more than me!" he pouted one afternoon. His front half was sprawled over the kitchen table, crying dramatically to Arthur as he read the paper and concentrated on ignoring him. It was becoming increasingly difficult due to the American's loud sighs.
"She loves us both equally," he replied, sipping his tea. He thanked all the Gods he could think of for not taking away his ability to enjoy his precious tea. It still tasted as wonderful as it always had, despite the fact that the rest of his appetite had changed quite drastically.
"No!" Alfred quickly argued, lifting his head. His blue eyes looked almost desperate. "Rose follows you around like you're her mother!"
Arthur raised one bushy brow and set the paper down. Clearly, he wasn't going to be able to read as he had wanted to. "Perhaps it's because you and Emma insist that I am the mother."
"You like it."
"Never said I didn't, love."
It was only a couple of weeks later, when there was a manila envelope in the mail. Knowing exactly what it was, Arthur let the girls carefully open it and read the official adoption documents out loud. When he had finished, he watched the girls, letting it sink in.
"Mummy… does this mean that I can stay forever?" Rose asked. Arthur nodded and Emma hugged Rose tightly.
The American nation was reading a letter of his own- from his government if the seal on the envelope was anything to go by. He looked too serious for such a happy occasion.
"Oh, Rosie! You're part of the family now!" she cheered. Arthur grinned and looked over at Alfred, who had been suspiciously quiet during all the excitement .
"Huh? Oh! Come 'ere you too!" Alfred said, scooping up both the girls and taking his personal phone out of his pocket, "We need a picture! Arthur, you get in here too. Everyone say cheese!"
Arthur frowned at his reflection, tugging furiously on the bottom of his shirt in an attempt to pull it down over his belly bump. It was no use- the sweater vests he once wore just wouldn't cut it anymore. His stomach was growing so rapidly that none of his old clothes fit him any more (at least, none of his presentable clothes) and he was left with nothing but t-shirts and the old maternity jeans that Matthew had bought him when he was pregnant with Emma. He put them on and looked himself over, hands exploring the rounded stomach that looked so unlike his own.
Why did he keep these? He guessed he had been too busy taking care of Emma to actually throw them out. It wasn't as if he had kept them as a keepsake, and he certainly didn't hold on to them in the hopes that he would need to wear them again.
Whirling around, Arthur was met by a pair of large, curious, brown eyes staring up at him strangely. He blushed furiously and tried to cover his stomach up with the shirt in his hands. Why the idea of putting the shirt on never came to him, he would never know.
"R-Rosie! I didn't see you there, love!"
The little girl tilted her head to the side, red curls cascading over her shoulder.
"Why's your belly so big?" she asked, pointing a finger at Arthur's stomach. She couldn't remember him looking that fat when she had first met him.
He was like a deer caught in the headlights. What was he supposed to do? Rose had finally begun noticing the changes in his body- he could no longer hide them from her. Perhaps it was finally time to tell her what was going on. Smiling softly, Arthur walked over to the bed and sat down, patting the spot beside him.
"Come sit with me, Rosie. I have something very important to tell you."
Rose's face lit up in a smile. She loved it when she got to spend time with Arthur alone, and she especially loved it when he "had something important to tell her". She had no doubt that this news would be as good as the last news she had received.
Once Arthur had gained her full attention, he cleared his throat, feeling his cheeks starting to burn. It was always embarrassing telling people of his condition, but it was even more difficult explaining it to a child who hardly knew what pregnancy was in the first place.
"W-Well, Rosie. Y-You see, mummy looks this way because something very special is happening inside of my body right now."
This was even more difficult to explain due to the fact that Rose hardly understood the concept of nations and their personifications. Nor could she completely grasp the concept of fairies just yet. Arthur figured he could give his best explanation right now and then clear things up as she got older so she wouldn't remain confused.
"I'm going to have a baby."
Rose blinked and took a minute to think this news over.
"A baby?" she repeated, her eyes still riddled with confusion.
"Yes," Arthur replied, a hand subconsciously rubbing circles where his unborn babe lay, "Now, I know that you've probably heard that only women have babies, but since mummy and daddy are nations, we're special cases. We don't exactly know why we can have babies, and it's a relatively new thing. But you know that Emma is my daughter, so you can understand that mummy and daddy can have more babies, right?"
This logic seemed to make sense, especially in a child's eyes. If Arthur and Alfred had Emma, then they could have more babies. That made perfect sense.
Arthur smiled softly at her, running a hand through her beautifully curled, flaming red hair.
"That means that this baby is going to be your new brother or sister, Rosie."
Gasping loudly, Rose's eyes flew to Arthur's middle. The baby that was in there was going to be her brother or sister? Just like how Emma was? She would get to play with this new baby just like she did with Emma?
"When can the new baby come out and play?" she asked, a smile lighting up her face.
Chuckling, Arthur decided it was high time he put his shirt on.
"Not for another few months. That will give you and Emma plenty of time to learn how to be big sisters."
He pushed himself to his feet, a hand going to his lower back- it had started to ache recently due to the added weight in his front.
"Now, why don't we go downstairs? Your Uncle Matthew and Uncle Francis should be here shortly so that we can celebrate."
Frowning a bit, Rose nodded and slipped from the bed. She gave Arthur one last look, receiving a soft smile in return, before she made her way downstairs. This new life was a bit overwhelming for her. She had a place to live, family members, new things to learn, and most recently; new people to meet. Rose had been introduced to Matthew and Francis shortly after she started living in Arthur's house. They had come over one day, excited to meet her- but she didn't quite feel the same.
Matthew was quiet and kind, so she didn't mind him all that much. However, Francis was boisterous, flirtatious, and rather outgoing, which made her shrink back with fear. He had attempted to scoop her up and kiss her cheeks upon their first meeting, something which Rose didn't enjoy at all. Arthur had spent a good half hour trying to calm her down and cursing Francis under his breath. It wasn't that she thought these new people were bad (they couldn't be if Emma loved them so much), it was just that it was much too overwhelming. That was why Alfred and Arthur decided to hold off on introducing her to anyone else until she became more comfortable with her surroundings.
Voices met her as she stepped off the last stair and walked into the sitting room- they were already here. Very slowly, Rose tiptoed into the room and stood in the doorway, peering around the corner at her new uncles: Francis was busy covering Emma's face with kisses while Matthew was conversing with Alfred. Matthew really did look a lot like Rose's new daddy- sometimes it was hard to tell them apart.
Snapping her head up, Rose realized that her father was calling her.
"Rosie, c'mere. Come say hello to your uncles."
She shook her head, hanging onto the doorway and blushing furiously. She didn't want to get tons of kisses or to be held by strangers.
A frown crossed Alfred's face as he walked over to his newest daughter and bent down in front of her.
"It's alright, pretty girl. I'll be right here with ya, okay?" Alfred reached forward, holding out his hand, which Rose stared at for several seconds before taking it. Alfred smiled down at her and stood back up, leading the way over to the other nations. As soon as they got close, however, Rose retreated behind Alfred's legs, peering around at her uncles.
Matthew took his time and crouched down, offering a soft smile.
"Hello, Rose. It's nice to see you again."
Brown eyes wandered up to her father who was looking down at her reassuringly.
"H-Hi." Rose responded, her voice barely above a whisper.
That certainly earned a smile from the Canadian.
"You're still feeling a bit shy, eh?"
"That's okay," Matthew continued, still smiling, "It's okay to be shy. You don't know us very well, after all. But Rosie, just know that your Uncle Francis and I love you very much, and we're very happy that you're a part of the family now."
They were happy? They loved her? Rose's eyes wandered from one blonde haired nation to the next, focusing on Francis for the first time that day. He too offered a sincere smile, one that was emitting its own warm glow. Rose felt herself calming down at the sight of so many happy faces. They were happy for her!
"Thank you!" she chirped, finally smiling back and creeping around in front of Alfred.
Francis gave a quiet laugh.
"I see our dear Arthur has already begun teaching you your manners."
Leave a child in Arthur's hands for a day and he would have them saying "please" and "thank you" in ten minutes- no matter how much Francis liked to tease him about being unmannered. He had probably already educated Rose on etiquette as well, seeing as he had a lot of time on his hands (it wasn't like he could leave the house much anymore).
"Actually, I have."
Everyone looked to the stairs, where Arthur stood, wearing a large sweatshirt of Alfred's and a smirk on his face.
"She's a very fast learner. I'm very proud of her."
A smile lit Rose's face as she rushed to Arthur and hugged him around the legs. Despite just seeing him several minute prior, she was thrilled to be with him again. Things always seemed less scary when Arthur was around, even if she knew that her new uncles were nice.
"Alfred, will you fetch us some refreshments?" Arthur asked gently, "We've got quite a bit of catching up to do."
AN: So chapter five is up! This marks the turning over of the fic from Colie to Kaylie, so I hope you guys all like it! I've also begun an ask blog over on tumblr, but I won't post the link just yet, since it's a little spoiler-y. Happy Alfred's birthday, guys!