To anyone, the fireplace in America's house was just an ordinary fireplace.
But not to America, no. It held a certain sentimental value, both good and bad. There were days when he would just stare into the flickering flames as the fire burned in it and reminisce of times long gone, of times that were forever lost in history, never to return.
He could still remember how it felt like to be wrapped up in the protective arms of a certain person who was once his entire world, how he would just sit on this person's lap by the fire on those cold nights as he told stories of mythical creatures and magic, of fairies and unicorns, and of walking houses and pixie dust. And he could still remember the many times when this person would throw pieces of mutton and bread into a pot and attempt to stew broth in the fireplace. It didn't look appetising but it tasted good, good for the sole reason that it was unique to that person and that person only. Those memories made America smile and wonder how things would have been instead if he had taken a different path in his later years.
And then there were the memories that brought a scowl to his face. The flashbacks of how he would smirk as he watched the angry letters from the person burn down into smoldering ashes, of how he would gain satisfaction just by the sound of the crackling flames as it reduced the little peace-offerings to nothing.
It was funny to think how this person, who had been the world to him, made up for such a little part of his life now. It wasn't like as if this person wasn't important anymore. Quite the opposite, actually. His world has expanded as he grew and there just wasn't enough of this person's presence to fill in the empty bits. It wasn't enough and he needed more... more... more of...
These days, America found that he had been reflecting on pieces of past more than he was comfortable with. He blamed it on the cold weather. And although it was Christmas Eve, he didn't feel happy or jolly or any of those Christmassy feelings they describe in songs. Sighing, he pulled the couch over closer to the fireplace and flopped down onto it. As soon as his body hit the cushions, he could already feel his eyes beginning to struggle with keeping themselves open and a minute after, he had already fallen into deep sleep.
When America woke up, the room was dark and there were shuffling sounds coming from inside the fireplace. He thought about checking out what it was at first but figured that he was for one, too scared to and for two, it might be Santa and he only comes when you are asleep (England had told him once before).
A loud crash that happened next nearly made him jump. He pretended to be unconsciously bothered by the noise and shifted so he could get a look if it really was Santa.
... And then it occurred to him that the chances of it being a zombie was as close as it being the jolly old man in the bright red suit.
"Bloody hell, that hurts more than I thought it would have..." A voice muttered.
Well, that didn't sound like a zombie or Santa, for that matter. In fact, it sounded suspiciously like...
"Hmph. Stupid idiot's going to catch a cold if he sleeps out here like this," There were the sounds of him dusting himself off. "Then again, they say that idiots are immune to colds."
That had tempted America to just cut off his act but he remained still, for fear that England might not give him his Christmas present if he 'wakes up'.
Carefully, he cracked open an eye just by a slit, only to see that England was gone. He opened his eyes wider for a better view but quickly shuts them when he heard footsteps approaching. The footsteps stopped right in front of the couch and he could feel the gentle breeze as England crouched down.
Then his body was covered by the warmth of thick fabric.
There was a sigh and America could feel England's breath as it brushed over his cheeks. Just how close were their faces? "You never listen to anything I say," he began as he adjusted the blanket around to properly cover America's body. "And look, you haven't even put out a plate of cookies and a cup of milk for Santa."
Oh dang, he had forgotten about that.
"Well, I'm letting you off this time..." Yes! "But I am not giving you anything without taking something in return." Awww. Well, if England were to take something, he sure hoped it wasn't the cool new video game he bought just a week back, that had been--...
As abruptly as it had began, it ended. America thought that he might have imagined it. The brief moment when he felt something soft against his own lips and the heat that could not have possibly come from a piece of fabric that was his blanket.
America froze, stunned.
And England was about to stand up when he obviously noticed something and said, "Shit!" and began to rub his palm as gently as he could across America's cheek.
Having recovered, America smiled and grabbed the other's wrist. He slowly opened his eyes and was greeted by a shocked Englishman, and although it was dark, he could make out the bright red on said man's face.
America's smile turned wider, "The soot can wait but right now..."
With that, he pulled England into his arms for a much, much longer kiss.
And suddenly, the world didn't feel as empty anymore.