Author's Note- This was written for strawberryburst on livejournal for the himitsu-santa fic and art exchange. She asked for 'America and England's first Christmas… as a couple.'
Let Your Heart be Light
By Everything is Magic
America turned the knob of his mantelpiece radio to another station, a light smile on his face as he did so. The sounds of Irving Berlin wafted from the radio, and the fireplace crackled below the mantel, warming the living room of his large Washington D.C. home.
In the gentle low light, the Christmas tree at the edge of the living room, right in front of the window, sparkled and shone. America vaguely recalled that England called the lights 'fairy lights,' which wasn't all that inappropriate, really.
His first Christmas back home since 1940, his first Christmas back home since the end of the war, was… sort of magical.
The nation was in a state of joy and euphoria. Christmas this year was bigger than it had ever been, with President Truman instituting special projects to get troops home in time and declaring it a four day national holiday for all federal employees.
Which included him, of course. He grinned wider.
The Christmas dinner had been ace, if he did say so. He'd always thought himself a decent enough cook, but he'd put all of his hard work and elbow grease into making a perfect meal that… far surpassed anything he'd really cooked before. Roast goose and mashed potatoes, buttered squash and rolls, plum pudding and foamy sauce, all of that and more.
But the best thing of all was the company.
He was sitting across the room in a recliner, a teacup perched in his hand and a small smile on his face.
This was also his first Christmas with England.
Well, that wasn't entirely true. He'd spent Christmases with England before, and they'd spent almost every holiday together when he was a child.
But this was the first Christmas he'd spent with England, as a couple.
America's cheeks flushed as he made eye contact with his boyfriend. They'd been together since that May, when in an impromptu rush of emotion, caught up in the joy of the moment, they'd kissed on the day that victory in Europe had been announced.
And so, having been successful at convincing England to visit for Christmas, he'd set out to make it really, really swell for them; hence the elaborate dinner.
Plus, England was looking way too skinny these days. He knew that they were still rationing pretty heavily in the UK, and it showed on the figure of the nation. And whenever he held him or hugged him or grabbed him for a kiss, he could feel it.
America kind of wanted to feed him roast goose until he couldn't eat any more of it.
Also, it was Christmas now, and he didn't want England to be concerned with anything but… celebrating the holiday and enjoying himself. He couldn't exactly do that if he were hungry!
England set his cup of tea down on a small table and stood up, brushing off his pants. America jaunted across the room and grabbed his elbow. "Where ya going, England?"
He cocked an eyebrow. "I thought we'd exchange gifts, if that's all right?"
America was about to respond, when the song switched to a carol that had grown familiar to him in the last year.
It had been released the previous year, and America recalled sitting by radio with other soldiers beside and around him and listening to it with a hint of melancholy in their expressions.
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
Next year all our troubles will be out of sight…
The song had been a huge hit overseas the previous Christmas, as they all hoped for the war to end soon, and hoped that the next Christmas really would bring what the song promised.
He slid his hand down England's arm and took his hand, a bashful smile on his lips. "Hold on…"
"Hold on?" England queried.
"Yeah…" He placed a hand on the other nation's lower back and led him into the center of the room.
England took the hint and clasped America's hand, placing his other arm around America's center. "You want to dance?" he asked, his voice quiet. It was the tone he used whenever America did something that surprised him, made him kind of… feel a little breathless in shock. America thought that he did the same thing. He wasn't even close to use to the idea that England was… his yet, that England would want to do romantic things with him.
"If that's okay?"
America wasn't the hesitant type most of the time, but with England… since they'd gotten together he'd been almost overly cautious. He'd gotten a little better about it in the past couple of months, but at first he was so tentative, so worried that he'd do something that would turn England off and push him away.
England chuckled, "It's perfectly all right. I'm just surprised that you all of all people would delay opening gifts."
He pouted for a moment, but then grinned. "Gifts are nice, but I've got something better right here, baby."
America swung England around as the music crescendoed, ignoring the way he blushed and spluttered at his statement.
Once again as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who were dear to us
Will be near to us once more…
America pulled England close to him, nuzzling his cheek into the shorter man's hair and singing the lyrics under his breath. His voice was pleasant and smooth in England's ear, a soft tenor that tickled his skin and made his cheeks glow red.
England felt relaxed and comfortable under his touch, and that made America's heart swell in relief.
They continued dancing, slow and close, with shy smiles and flushed cheeks, until the song ended.
At which point America leaned down and pressed a kiss to the top of England's hand.
"How gentlemanly of you," England said, his voice tinged with amusement. He pushed himself up and pecked his lips to America's cheek. "Thank you for the dance."
America scratched the back of his head, a sheepish grin on his face. "Part of being a hero is being a gentleman, of course!"
England rolled his eyes and smacked him lightly on the shoulder. "You're such a git."
The younger nation just laughed and skipped over to the tree. "You know it's true."
He huffed and joined America at his side.
America had already picked up his gift, neatly wrapped and labeled in clean cursive. "Now I want to open my present."
England stifled a laugh. "I knew you couldn't wait too long. Always been the impatient one, you."
They both sat down under the tree, the multi-colored lights illuminating them as they did so. England fidgeted, looking nervous and discomfited as America prepared to open his gift.
"I-it's not much," he finally spoke. "You know that… we're still struggling to make ends meet over there, and likely will be for a long while. But I could hardly allow you to go without a gift from me, all things considered. So pl-"
America shushed him with a finger to the lips. "Ease up, England. I'm sure it'll be dynamite."
England nodded, and America tore open the wrapping paper.
A quilt fell out of the paper, neatly stitched and sewn as to be expected of England. He'd always been amazing at stuff like that. It was very large. Large enough for two people, America silently added.
His hand brushed over the center piece of quilting, which was made up of a white handkerchief. Two crossed flags, the Union Jack and his own flag were embroidered on it. and cursive text read, there'll always be an England and a U.S.A.
The rest of the quilt was also made up of kerchiefs, stitched together and then stuffed lightly to create a warm looking blanket. A few had newspaper covers printed on them, Unconditional Surrender by the Japanese, V-E Day- IT'S ALL OVER, Britain's Day of Rejoicing. There were many kerchiefs from different sectors of their respective armed forces- the RAF, the Navy, the Air Corps, the Army, and more. Sweetheart handkerchiefs littered the patchwork as well, and messages of support covered other ones- keep 'em flying and even a few for war bonds.
America stared at the quilt, his throat catching as he spread it out over him, surveying each piece that made up the patchwork. Each piece was like a memory, of the four years past and everything they had experienced and overcome.
England frowned. "I know it's not much, but… look if you're worried about the fact that they're handkerchiefs, I promise none of them are used."
America cracked a smile at this and laughed, loud and jovial. "I-I wasn't really worried about that," he said between laughter. He reached across and pulled England to him in a bone-crushing hug, the quilt between them.
"It's… really, really amazing, England," he exclaimed, squeezing England even tighter and nuzzling his chin into the top of his head. "Perfect." He pressed a kiss to his forehead.
England's cheeks flared up, and America thought that he was probably imagining how his eyes welled up just… slightly. "I'm… well of course it is. The British Empire has refined the art of quilting, and even when presented with such materials-" He cut himself off, seemingly realizing that he was being a bit ridiculous. "Honestly… I'm glad you like it," his voice dropped in pitch. "There are a lot of memories in there, I thought."
America nodded, releasing England from his hold and folding the blanket. "Things we shouldn't forget, huh?"
America reached beside the tree and snatched up England's present. It wasn't as neatly wrapped as the one England had gifted him, but he'd always been a little better at that kind of stuff.
"Mine isn't that big either, but I spent a lot of time on it!" America said, the back of his neck heating in embarrassment and nerves as England fingered the round package.
England merely nodded, slipping his fingers under the edge of the wrapping paper and neatly removing it, as if trying to keep it in perfect condition for reuse. His heart clenched at that, because it reminded him just how used to that England was; being careful with everything, since it was all so limited.
He finished unwrapping the gift, and his thick eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "A coconut?"
America deflated. It was a coconut, but it wasn't just that. Surely England would see…
He cursed inwardly. England would definitely think it was stupid. He should have gotten something better…
England let out a choked gasp, and America snapped his eyes back to him. He was running his fingers over the coconut now, discovering the intricate carvings that covered it.
The coconut was polished smooth, to the point that outside the shape, it hardly resembled a coconut. Another coconut half had been bolted to it as a base for it to sit on.
"I-I made it on the Pacific Front," America explained, his throat feeling dry and thick. "In June, during the end of… it all. All the guys liked to find random things; forks, shells, whatever, and make gifts out of them. Jewelry or lamps or… you know, lots of things."
England opened his mouth to speak, but America continued.
"I couldn't stop thinking about you," he let out a short, nervous laugh. "All of them made stuff for their sweethearts, and you were far away and we'd just… you know, hooked up and everything a month before. All I could think about in my free time was how much I wanted to see you again, how good kissing you felt." His face heated. "So I made you this."
"We will win this war," England read. The centerpiece of the carvings was a heart with their respective flags framing it. Inside the heart were their names, England and America, as well as the words England had just read. There were carvings elsewhere on the coconut, designs and decorations, but that was the centerpiece.
"The text is kind of obsolete now, but I didn't see you again until the surrender, so I never had a chance to give it to you," America explained. "Oh and… it's a box so…"
He nodded, lifting the top of the coconut, which had been turned into a lid, off.
It was filled to the brim with chocolate. All of England's favorite kinds, all of the kinds that he'd scarcely been able to eat since rationing began.
England's lips quirked up in a smile.
"If you don't like the box, at least there are chocolates?" America reasoned, feeling anxious again, for he still couldn't quite gauge England's reaction.
"I-idiot," England replied, putting the box down and grabbing America by the neck of his sweater. He closed the distance between them, and pressed a firm, searing kiss to his lips.
America grinned in the midst of the kiss and wrapped his arms around England's shoulders, deepening it.
"It's the best damn coconut I've ever gotten," England said once they'd pulled apart. There was such fondness in his eyes, such endearment, that America didn't doubt that he truly loved the gift. "And the chocolates are just a bonus."
America grinned and let out a cheer of relief. "Th-there's also some stuff on the bottom…"
England blinked and picked up the coconut, turning it upside down to read the words carved on the bottom of the stand.
With all my love, America
Both England and America's faces were as red as the stockings on the mantel when he finished reading it.
England closed his eyes for a moment and whispered something under his breath, and to America it sort of looked like he was giving himself something akin to a pep talk.
He grasped America's shoulders and leaned forward, so his lips were brushing against his ear and America could feel the heat emanating from his face.
"I love you too," he finally said, and it was barely above a whisper, but it was more than enough for America, who couldn't resist the urge to squeeze him in an embrace once more, an enormous and ridiculously joyful smile cracking his face.
England had told him, "I like you," and "I rather… have feelings for you," before, but he'd yet to utter those three words. And America didn't pressure him, because he knew that things like this were huge to someone as reserved as his boyfriend.
But he'd said it, and it was… the most wonderful gift he could ask for.
The sound of the crackling radio caught his attention. "This time last year, our men and boys were still at war. In honor of their return and in remembrance of those whose sacrifices brought freedom to the world, Merry Christmas…"
A song qued up, and America immediately recognized it as one of his favorite wartime songs.
He pushed himself off the ground and stood up, holding his hand out to England for a dance once more.
England smiled, small but genuine, and took it, allowing America to pull him to his feet and into the dance.
When the lights go on again all over the world
And the boys are home again all over the world
And rain or snow is all that may fall from the skies above
A kiss won't mean "goodbye" but "Hello to love…"
-Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas was first featured in the 1944 film, Meet Me in St. Louis and was performed by Judy Garland. It was very, very popular with the troops overseas, due to its very appropriate lyrics.
-Handkerchiefs were quite popular during wartime, and were often embroidered or silkscreened with things identical or similar to what is included in England's quilt. As for the 'there'll always be an England and a U.S.A.?' It is real.
-It was quite common for soldiers to make elaborate crafts from supplies found on the battlefield in their camps. These pieces are called 'trench art,' and as you can imagine from their name, gained prominence after the first World War. The coconut is actually inspired by a real piece. America would have been participating in the Borneo Campaign when he carved it.
-When the Lights Go On Again (All Over the World) was a rather hopeful wartime song, so I figured it would be one that America was fond of.