Carrying Alfred down the hall, Arthur rocked the little nation softly to keep him sleeping as he carried him up to bed. His one hand was underneath the little boy, holding him against his chest, and the other was trapped in the child's grasp, his chubby hands clutching one of Arthur's long fingers. Arthur hummed a softly melody as he walked, careful not to wake the child he was caring for, and pushed the door open with his hip. He paused totally when Alfred's eyelids fluttered and he said 'hero' in his sleep, but then he continued into the room and slid the boy into his red and blue sheets. Arthur reached around Alfred's nightstand and flicked on the boy's nightlight to 'keep spooks away', smiling at the little white stars it cast all over the room.

Arthur looked down at the chubby hand that clung to his finger and sat in the bedside chair, stroking the back of Alfred's small hand with his thumb. He and the boy had had a full day of play –tag, pirates (Arthur's favourite), cowboys and Indians (Alfred's favourite)- and now the boy was tuckered out. Every time Arthur had been successfully hunted as an Indian, Alfred's cheerful laughter had rang across the glade and he'd proclaimed himself the hero to their collection of creatures come to watch.

Arthur wished the boy's loud personality weren't so prominent at this age, for it only got louder as he aged, but Arthur would have done anything at that point for Alfred to just stay his little hero forever.

Oh, darling, don't you ever grow up

Don't you ever grow up; just stay this little

Oh, darling, don't you ever grow up

Don't you ever grow up; it could stay this simple

"I won't let nobody hurt you, Alfred…" Arthur whispered, bending his head to touch his forehead to his ward's affectionately. The boy didn't stir, sighing in his sleep, and Arthur blinked back tears. "I won't let anyone break your heart… No one will desert you, I promise. Just… never grow up, okay?"

You're in the car on the way to the movies

And you're mortified your mom's dropping you off

At fourteen, there's just so much you can't do

And you can't wait to move out some day and call your own shots

"Alfred!" Arthur shouted as the boy leapt out of the back seat like a flash. "Be careful!" To Arthur's dismay, Alfred didn't seem to hear him at all, instead bowing his shoulders and running up to the building where his friends were waiting without a goodbye. "OI!"

"Just go!" Alfred called over his shoulder and, in a moment, Arthur could see the anxiousness in the young boy's eyes. Arthur didn't reply, turning back to the steering wheel and pulling away from Alfred and his friends. As soon as he was around the corner, Arthur pulled over and stopped his car entirely, leaning against the wheel and cradling his forehead in one hand.

He's embarrassed by me… Arthur thought, running his fingers through his own hair and brushing it off his forehead. I feel so old… I didn't even get it. Do they make fun of him for it? When Arthur thought of that, he couldn't help but think back to when Alfred was still small, and how he used to dance around in the mornings before school with his pyjamas still on. He chuckled under his breath, wiping his eyes to make sure he wasn't crying, and started the car again.

I told you not to grow up, Alfred… he thought sadly, To just stay that little and simple… You wouldn't have to worry about being popular, and no one would ever hurt you… Arthur sighed deeply, I wish you would never grow up.

Take pictures in your mind of your childhood room

Memorize what it sounded like when your dad gets home

Remember the footsteps, remember the words said

And all your little brother's favourite songs

I just realized that everything I have

Is someday gonna be gone

As Alfred looked around his new apartment with pride, having finished unpacking his things that he'd finally received from England, he sighed in disappointment to find that he'd missed a box.

"Man!" He cried aloud as he bent to open in. "I really need to stop having so much- stuff…" Alfred stared down into the box, his glasses siding down his nose as he stared in shock at a familiar set of sheets and nightlight. Beneath them were other things, but he didn't get farther than the bedclothes and light.

Lifting them out of the box gingerly, Alfred glanced around his apartment and sat down on the floor, pressing his face to the sheets and inhaling. They still smelled like England and his house, although being in a box for the shipping time had let it fade a little. Alfred blinked quickly, trying to compose himself, and started turning all the lights off for the night, ready for bed now.

He changed his sheets, changed his clothes, and plugged in his nightlight.

The stars that were cast around his new bedroom made him smile and, when they were cast on his sheets, Alfred lost that smile.

Man, way to get homesick. He thought to himself, It's barely been a week and you're crying for Artie already… Alfred paused when he thought about his ex-caretaker, remembering the way he used to carry him to bed and tuck him in just right. He closed his eyes against the stars and hid his face in his pillow to allow it to catch his tears. I wish I'd never grown up.

Oh, I don't wanna grow up

Wish I'd never grown up; could still be little

Oh, I don't wanna grow up

Wish I'd never grown up; it could still be simple

"Alfred…" Arthur knelt in the middle of an empty bedroom, the smell of his ward still clinging to the very fibres of the room after a whole week. It was his newest form of punishment; he would stand there at bedtime and remember the boy he'd lost, tormenting himself with his errors.

He's gone. He told himself harshly, That little boy is gone now, and he won't be coming back.

"I'm choosing liberty after all." Those words echoing in Arthur's mind tore at the memories of the sweet, blonde-haired child. "I'm not your child or baby brother anymore. From now on, I'm independent." Did Alfred even know how much it hurt? Did he even care? Arthur panted, the rain mixing with his tears to hid them. "ACKNOWLEDGE IT!" Arthur drove his musket forward, the point scratching Alfred's barrel and knocking it out of his hands. That acting ripped away the innocence in Alfred's childhood with Arthur, who seemed forget some of the good times he and the boy had shared.

"You were always so naïve… you fool…"

WHAT AM I SAYING? Arthur couldn't understand why his mouth was saying such horrible things. Pointing a gun at his little Alfred? Threatening him? Why? Why did this happen? Arthur couldn't make sense of it with so much chaos in his head. It hurt, almost as much as Alfred's sad blue eyes, and the gun fell from Arthur's hands. "The-There's no point in firing, is there…? You fool…" Arthur didn't know if it was him or Alfred that was the fool anymore, thinking back on it. What was so bad about Alfred becoming a nation?

"Damn it…!" Arthur cursed, feeling tears and covering his face with both hands to hide them from the world. "Why…? Damn…"

"England…" The voice echoed in his mind, seeing to scorn him from the walls of Alfred's empty bedroom. He gasped, trying not to sob outright, "England… you used to be… so big…"

Oh, darling, don't you ever grow up

Don't you ever grow up; just stay this little

Oh, darling, don't you ever grow up

Don't you ever grow up; it could stay this simple

I won't let nobody hurt you

Won't let no one break your heart

And even though you want to

Please try to never grow up

Oh, oh-oh-oh-oh-oh

A whoa-oh-oh

Don't you ever grow up

Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh

Just never grow up

A/N: A/N: Well, there you have it. How many of you cried? If I'm the only one, I think that makes me a dork. I love USXUK, but their non-sexual relationship is a lot more moving than anything else I've seen. The song 'Never Grow Up' by Taylor Swift had seemed so fitting for the whole mentor/ward relationship that England and America have. I didn't insert all the lyrics from 'Never Grow Up', but I used a good majority of them. I'd love some constructive criticism so that I know how to improve my writing for you!

So read and review, if you please!