"But why do you want to go to the boxing?" Harry asks. "You spent most of Boxing Day gossiping with Liv instead of watching the match."
Nick is walking Pig in the unseasonable sunshine, jacket unbuttoned because it's actually warm for London in April.
"I don't know," Nick says. "I just do." It's a thing, this fight of the century. Nick loves things. He loves to be part of live events as they're happening, even if it's just watching on telly. The thing with the boxing is that he's headed to California and Harry can probably actually get tickets. Ones that don't cost nearly one hundred thousand quid. Also, Harry loves boxing anyway.
"Thing is," Harry pauses. He's probably chewing his lip, he does that sometimes when he's trying to think of how to phrase something. "I sort of already passed on tickets? Irv got some from a friend of his but I said no because I didn't think you'd want to go. I thought I'd buy the pay per view access and you can pretend to watch whilst browsing twitter and chatting to everyone back home, but I can call and see if there's still a chance, if you really want."
Nick can't help but smile, though. Of course Harry would make that offer. "Nah, you know I'd be bored right away."
"Better let the tickets go to someone who wants to be there," Harry says. "You just want to go to meet Justin."
"I've met him, thanks," Nick says. "He's old news." Pig sniffs around the base of a tree until she finds something she needs to wee on and squats down. "What are our plans for next week, then?"
"Don't know," Harry says. "I've got a few meetings I can't put off. We're doing James' show week after next, so I've got to go in for that. And there's a Kodaline gig on Tuesday and I said I'd go to. I can call Jeff, get you on the list if you want to come."
"God, I hate Kodaline," Nick says. He turns for home, Pig trotting along at his heels. As he gets closer to leaving for holiday his fridge gets more and more bare, and he wonders if maybe he should order a pizza or something when he gets home. Pizza's probably not the best thing; Harry's got a pool and he's not overly fond of clothing on either of them when they're alone. Nick likes to look his best.
"I know. Do you want to come or not?"
"Sure," Nick says. He loves live music no matter what, and he loves Harry even more.
Harry laughs, low and rough in Nick's ear, and Nick aches to be able to reach out and feel it with his fingers, to share his smile and pull him in for a kiss. Just a few more days now, and they get an entire week to themselves. Mostly — Harry does have work and Nick does have other friends in LA that he's promised to see, but it'll be more time than they usually get.
"I'll make the call."
"Quiche. Los Angeles has changed you."
"Fuck off," Harry laughs again. "But I've got to go now. I haven't showered and I've got a meeting in an hour."
"I've got to make my tea. I've got nothing in. Cereal, maybe. If the milk's not gone off."
Harry laughs again, and Nick knows what he looks like, lopsided smile, dimples, hair falling out of the bun in pieces around his face, probably. "Go on, then. I'll see you soon."
"Soon," Nick agrees. Friday can't come soon enough. "Bye bye bye bye bye."
It's another few seconds before either of them ends the call, and it's Harry who does, swearing, probably because it's later than he thought.
There's a driver with a sign reading GRIMSHAW waiting for Nick outside of customs. Harry had said he'd arrange for Nick to be picked up. He'd been hoping that Harry would come himself, but it's always a bit dicey for him to be there — all it takes is one person to create a mob — so Nick can't blame him for getting someone else to do it. He introduces himself to the driver, finds that his name is Robert and lets Robert take the handle of his luggage and lead him out to where the car is waiting.
It's a sleek, blacked out towncar, and Robert opens the door for Nick, who slides inside and slumps into the seat gratefully, before noticing that the car isn't actually empty.
"Surprise," Harry says, pulling Nick in to kiss him.
It's been weeks since the last time Harry was in London, almost two months now, and whilst they're well used to going long periods without seeing each other, it's never actually fun. Nick barely notices when they pull away from the pavement and head out into Los Angeles. Harry's lips are warm on his, and the solid weight of his hand on Nick's knee is a long-sought comfort.
"Hi," Nick whispers against Harry's lips. "Missed you."
Harry kisses him until he's breathless again, hand now on Nick's neck, steadying him and holding him close. "Me too. I'm so glad you're finally here."
"Felt like this week would never end," Nick goes to kiss Harry again, sliding his fingers over Harry's stomach and up under his shirt to feel his skin. He wants Harry naked, right now, but there's not a partition in this car and they're on the freeway. At a near stop, it seems. "How long's the drive to your house?"
"Not going home yet," Harry says. "Thought we'd go get dinner and then when we do get home you can just sleep."
"Sleep and nothing else?" Nick asks.
Harry dimples at him. "Maybe something else," he concedes. "It's been too long."
"It's always too long." Part of Nick wants to scream at how unfair it is that Harry leaves London for months at a time, and sometimes he does, usually to Daisy or Collette or Emily, and he hopes that Harry never finds out about that. It's just that he misses Harry when he's gone, and it's horrifically unfair having a mostly-secret relationship with one of the world's most famous popstars.
The way Harry's looking at him now goes a long way towards soothing all those raw edges, with a soft smile and dancing eyes, like Nick is the god damned sun, and not some ageing DJ from Oldham who can never quite get rid of those last ten pounds.
"Hey," Harry says, stroking Nick's face like he knows everything Nick is thinking. "You're here now, and we've got all week."
Harry takes him to a taco stand that's little more than an oven squeezed between two office buildings, but Nick orders a burrito and it's the most delicious thing he's ever tasted. They eat crammed into a tiny table on the pavement, knees knocking, heads bent close together. By some miracle, no one notices Harry, so they have their dinner uninterrupted. Nick catches Harry up on the gossip from home, all the little things that get lost or forgotten in the minutes they get on the phone on opposite sides of the day.
They do get noticed at Go Greek, but then again, Harry's there all the time, so he's almost expected. He slides easily into Popstar mode and takes a few pictures with fans, eyes tracking Nick as he steps back to let Harry work his magic. When they're done, then they escape into their waiting car, to go back to Harry's house.
Nick's been awake for for a full twenty-four hours now, spent half of it on a plane, another hour in traffic on the freeway, and now, finally, he's here, alone with his boyfriend. He's torn between wanting to fall in bed with Harry, or just fall in bed and close his eyes. But then Harry shrugs out of his shirt and slides close to Nick and the latter option just falls away.
Harry's skin is warm and smooth under his hands, his mouth is plush against Nick's own. He's been waiting ages for this. It's probably just because he's so tired, but this feels like a dream. Harry is very real under his fingers, but the room is shifty and blurring; they could be anywhere. Los Angeles, London, Oldham, Cheshire, Melbourne, Paris.
Nick lets Harry take care of his shirt, moving his arms and pulling the t-shirt over his head. Harry does the same for his jeans and pants once he's spread out on the bed. He takes his time, though, running soft fingers down Nick's legs, and mouthing his way back up to Nick's half-hard dick.
"Fuck," Harry says into Nick's skin. He's scraping his teeth high up on Nick's thigh, causing Nick to shiver. He grabs for Harry's hair, for something to hold, to tug. Harry groans. "Fuck I missed you."
"Yeah?" Nick likes to be told that people like him, he's not shy about it at all.
"I'd sing you a song about it, but —" He cuts himself off by swallowing down Nick's cock, humming like it's his favorite thing in the world.
Nick wakes up first. In the last few hours he's moved away from Harry to the opposite side of the bed, but he rolls closer for a minute just to look. He sees so many pictures of Harry all the time: selfies with fans, pap pics, concert footage, adverts. It's very difficult to not see his face wherever Nick goes. Having the real thing is completely different. He photographs well, but Nick prefers the live version. The one with spots on his forehead and a crooked mouth. The one who snores and clings to Nick in his sleep until he's too hot and Nick has to kick him off, along with half the covers. The one Nick can reach out to touch and feel warm skin instead of glossy paper.
Harry doesn't have the same issues that Nick does about waking up alone, but Nick still likes to be there, to watch Harry blink awake, watch his eyes focus and clear, watch the first slow smile of the morning.
He leaves the bed long enough to piss and clean his teeth and grab his phone and then tucks himself back into the covers and opens WhatsApp to see what everyone who isn't in Los Angeles has been up to. No one has bothered to text him overnight, because his friends are terrible.
And also they know where he is.
Nick is buried in everyone's reactions to Becks on Instagram when Harry starts stirring, and everything else immediately loses it's appeal. Nick tosses his phone aside so that he can scoot down on the bed and make sure he's the first thing Harry sees.
Harry takes forever to wake up when he has the time; he stretches out each limb and then everything at once, arching his back and shoving his hands under the pillows. His tattoos stretch out invitingly on his skin and Nick waits for him to open his eyes before reaching over to touch.
The leaves decorating his hips are Nick's current favorite — he'd mocked Harry endlessly for it when he'd seen the first pictures, asked him if he was building a garden for his butterfly or if it was because his dick was the victor in some unknown competition. Harry had replied that his cock was always victorious, thanks. And that he'd gladly demonstrate for Nick when he came home.
And he had. Nick hadn't argued after that.
Now, he watches as Harry relaxes and blinks his eyes open, waiting for Harry to come to before reaching out to touch. He skates his fingers over each of the leaves, feeling Harry's stomach flutter under his fingers. When he runs out of ink, he curls his fingers around Harry's hip and pulls him in, flipping Harry until he's half on top of Nick and blinking at him from an inch away.
"Morning," Nick says.
Harry is still not talking, just looking at him with wide, open eyes and touching Nick's face with soft fingers. They're both rather tactile, and Harry's morning routine usually involves mapping out the lines of Nick's face when they have the time. He leans in for a kiss before he's said anything, and Nick lets him.
"Done playing with my wrinkles, are we?" Nick asks once Harry pulls back. "I've got more interesting bits that need seeing to."
"Love your wrinkles," Harry says, touching again. Nick lets his eyes flutter closed as Harry traces his eyelids and nose and mouth. "Love your eyes, your mouth."
Nick nips at Harry's fingers as they skate over his lips, and Harry laughs. He leans in for a kiss before moving on. He traces over Nick's ears and neck and collar, following each touch with a kiss and a whispered endearment.
He moves to Nick's nipples and his fingers catch the spot on Nick's ribs that is helplessly ticklish.
"Are you moving to my armpit, now?" he asks. "Going to write a song about how badly I smell in the mornings?"
"Love your armpits, too," Harry says, stretching Nick's arms up above his head. "And the way you smell. You smell like you."
"I thought so," Harry says, smug. He goes back to toying with Nick's nipples. "Love your hairy chest."
Normally, Nick would be happy to let Harry go at his own pace, but it's been nearly two months since he's seen him, and Nick would really like to feel more than just his fingertips.
"God, Styles. Save it for your wedding vows and fuck me already."
Harry sits up from where he's been straddling Nick's thighs and looks down at him. Nick holds on to his hips, not knowing what's about to happen. Harry's got an odd look on his face even as he's reaching to wrap his fingers around Nick's cock. Nick can't keep his eyes open as Harry strokes him gently, and by the time he manages to look again, Harry's face is back to normal.
"Yeah, alright," he says, rolling off Nick and reaching for the bedside table.
"What if we were, though?" Harry asks. "Married. I mean."
"What?" Nick can't pretend he hasn't thought about it, but it's always been about some vague time in the future when Harry's not touring most of the year, when he's not attracting hundreds of screaming fans and hordes of photographers just for stepping outside his front door. "Why?"
"You started it," Harry says. He goes inside the house and comes back with two fresh, cold beers, and then drops down on Nick's chair, squeezing half on top of him.
"Because you were talking instead of fucking me," Nick says. "And I hadn't seen you in ages."
"Are you proposing? Because if this is it, I'm going to have to say no. I expect something much more extravagant from you, Styles. Diamonds. I want Diamonds. Girl's best friend and all that."
Harry hits him and buries his face in Nick's shoulder, laughing. Nick can't help but join in.
"I think I'd like being your husband," Harry says, when he has breath back. He's speaking directly into Nick's skin, lips catching in that way that means they're not going to be talking for much longer.
"For the record, it's a when, not an if," Nick says. He cups the back of Harry's head and guides him in for a kiss, slow and lazy.
"I didn't expect to see you so soon," Kelly says when she climbs into Nick's rental. "I'm surprised you managed to put clothes on already."
"Shut up," Nick says, but he blushes bright red and looks away under the pretense of checking for traffic. He's got plenty of experience driving in America but at the same time it's really odd to have everything shifted to the other side. Also, drivers in Los Angeles are about as crazy as the ones in London. "We went out Saturday. And to spin this morning. And he had to go in for a meeting yesterday with James."
"Plenty of other hours in the day," Kelly says. "Not like you're filling them talking to any of us."
That part's true. Nick knows they have a tendency to end up absorbed with each other.
"Be prepared, then. I agreed to go to see Kodaline tonight." Nick makes a face at the car in front of them.
"You're ridiculous," Kelly says.
She's probably right.
Harry takes them to sushi for dinner, both dressed to go out to the show. Their table is at the back of the restaurant near the kitchen, and they've got a bottle of cold sake between them. Harry kicks him under the table.
"Child," Nick accuses.
Harry kicks him again. Nick refills Harry's sake, and then lets Harry refill his. For luck or some nonsense; he'd read that ages ago and now Harry won't let them do it any differently. No reason to tempt fate, he says. The sushi is delicious, and Nick is getting pleasantly full and tipsy, on both the wine and the company. He's watching the minutes tick down towards the concert with a bit of dread. Only for Harry would he agree to go see Kodaline.
"Do we have to go?" he asks as Harry signs the check. "I don't know what I was thinking when I said yes."
"You were thinking that you love me and want to spend time with me," Harry says. Smug bastard. Nick kicks him this time. "Child."
"We could just go home instead," Nick says, voice pitched low. He lets his gaze linger obviously on Harry's lips, meaning to be seductive but Harry just laughs, and Nick laughs with him, helpless to resist Harry's smile. "I'm only here a few more days."
Harry licks his lips, still smiling. "I think you've convinced me."
They stumble home, falling out of the car and holding on to each other. They're not really drunk, they never really were, but this whole week has felt magic somehow, and Nick never wants to let go. Harry's got a fistful of Nick's jacket, and Nick's got his his hand on the back of Harry's neck, fingers tangled in his loose hair.
It takes two tries to open the door, mostly because now that they're not in public it's really difficult to stop kissing.
Once the alarm is turned off and re-armed, Harry presses Nick against the wall and kisses him. Nick grabs his hips and pulls him in grinding up into him and feeling that he's every bit as hot and bothered as Nick is.
Harry sinks to his knees, chest dragging over Nick's cock as he goes, the pressure and almost-friction not nearly enough of anything yet. Harry fumbles for the button on Nick's jeans and at the same time leans forward to take Nick's fingers into his mouth, seemingly desperate to get his lips around any part of Nick.
Nick presses his thumb to the corner of Harry's mouth whilst he works his tongue over three of Nick's fingers. Most of his hand. His mouth is stretched wide already, lips plump and red. It's nearly as good as an actual blowjob, though at least half of it is probably just because he's already hard and Harry's clumsy fingers aren't going fast enough getting his jeans open.
Nick takes over for him as Harry flicks his tongue against the base of Nick's fingers, each one in turn. Then he abruptly pulls off and sits back on his heels.
"Harry?" Nick looks down and finds Harry staring at his hand, fingers traveling the same path his tongue was just two seconds ago. "Harry, what's wrong?"
Harry's eyes are shining when he looks up. He's holding Nick's spit-slick hand in both of his now, tracing over his ring finger again and again, like he's looking for something.
He looks unsure, biting his already flushed lips, eyes darting from Nick's hand to his face and back. Nick's left hand.
Nick drops to his knees as well. He's got just enough space to do it without toppling Harry over onto the floor. His jeans are halfway off his hips, pants tented out obscenely but whatever was crackling between them half a minute ago is gone now. Honestly, Nick's a bit scared. He's used to Harry drifting sometimes, even during sex. He'll get a stray thought in his head and need to follow it for a minute, but it's never been this dramatic before. He uses his free hand to steady Harry's head, reassured when Harry pushes into the touch.
"Tell me what's the matter?"
"I think — " Harry swallows and swipes his thumb over Nick's finger again. "I think I'm really tired of not being married to you."
Nick doesn't have a response to that. For all that it keeps coming up this week, it hadn't felt this immediate. "Are you — what?"
"I love you, Nick. I want to be your husband and I know you do too. Why should we wait just because my job is really weird?"
"When you put it like that…" Nick trails off. He'd meant to make a joke, get Harry laughing and talk him out of this ridiculous idea and get back to having sex. Nick is sure he'd been about to get a very spectacular blowjob.
Except that Nick knows what he means. He'd told Harry that it was a question of timing, not one of will. They're here — together, now — and Vegas is an easy drive through the desert. It's an even easier flight, especially when you're friends with people who have private jets. He's long since accepted the inevitability that he will one day be married to Harry Styles. Why couldn't that day be today? Well, tomorrow, most likely as it's already late tonight.
"Yes," Nick says, breathless. "That was a proposal, right? Because yes, I really want to be married to you."
"You're not joking?"
"No," Nick says, finding the truth in his words as he's saying them. "No, I'm really not." He surges forward to kiss Harry and ends up knocking them both to the floor in a sprawl of limbs. There's no loud crack, and Harry's clinging to him tightly, so it seems that they've avoided any injuries. A minor miracle, all things considered.
"Fuck," Harry grinds out between kisses, making the word about three times longer and sexier than it has any right to be. Nick bites down on his collarbone while he waits for Harry to be finished talking. "Fuck me, Nick. God, fuck me right here. Need to feel you in me."
Nick would really, really love to do just that, but the floor is really hard on his old knees, and they don't have any lube or condoms within reach.
"Unless you've got a condom in your pocket…" Nick trails off, because it's entirely possible that Harry has. Nick sticks his hands down into Harry's back pockets, squeezing his bum while he searches just because he can. Unfortunately, Harry's pockets are empty, so Nick pulls back and stands, tugging on Harry's hands until he follows.
They bump into what is probably every wall, twice, on their way to the bedroom, shuffling along and tripping over each other. Harry's shirt ends up on the stairs somewhere, Nick's just outside the bedroom door. Harry tosses Nick's boots in the direction of the wardrobe, and Nick pays attention just enough to be sure there's no shattering glass.
Harry's hands disappear completely after pulling off Nick's socks, and he sits up to find Harry shimmying out of his jeans, hopping around to unzip his boots once he realizes that he's going to have to get them off to get his jeans off, too. He's completely naked except for a pool of fabric around his ankles, and he's grinding one heel against the floor trying to pull his other boot off.
Nick can't help the snort of laughter that escapes at the sight in front of him. God, his fiance is ridiculous.
Harry gets one boot off, and frees his leg from his jeans before standing up straight. "You're falling behind, Grimshaw," Harry says. He falls sideways onto the bed and goes to work on his second boot. Nick shoves his jeans down his hips and legs and manages not to fall over getting them off.
Once they're both fully naked, he crawls onto the bed, leaning over Harry, hands planted on either side of his head, careful not to pin down his hair.
"Hiya," he whispers.
Harry gets his hands on Nick's hips and pulls him down until he's lying directly on top of Harry, their cocks rubbing together as Harry settles them into position. Nick can't help but grind down on him just to feel the pressure.
"Hi," Harry says. He's skimming his fingers down Nick's back, making him shiver. "You going to stare at me all night?"
"Maybe," Nick says. But he flops further down onto Harry, letting Harry hold him close whilst he stretches out an arm for the lube and a condom, which they'd left out on the bedside table last night. Friday night. There's not really a need to put it away. Nick rolls off Harry and gets the condom on himself, and Harry moves until he's comfortable and ready for Nick.
Nick loves this part, this bit between doing things when everything stops for a moment. Harry's got a pillow under his hips, knees open, hair spread out behind him and a soft, glowing smile on his face. It's not exactly a time for self-reflection, but it's a pause in their lives, something small and precious that they can save and keep.
Maybe Nick pauses a bit too long because Harry makes grabby motions at the air until Nick moves over to kiss him.
He doesn't settle, though. He kisses Harry until they're barely kissing anymore, just brushing their lips together and breathing into the same space, and moves down to settle between Harry's legs. He toys with the soft skin of Harry's thighs for a while, tracing his fingers and lips in random patterns until Harry is whining.
"Come onnnn," Harry says, hips shifting against nothing. His dick is hard against his belly, thick and hot. Nick strokes him a few times before turning his attention to opening Harry up. He bites at Harry's laurels while he works his fingers in, listening to Harry's deep rumble, any semblance of words long gone.
By the time Nick lines himself up they're both taking shallow little breaths between kisses, and Nick's lost track of who is making what sounds.
Harry is always warm, but he's melting Nick into nothing as he pushes inside. He stays close for a minute, letting them both adjust a bit before he braces his knees against the mattress to get some leverage. Harry loves the tease, but he also likes a good hard fuck, and Nick isn't going to say no.
Nick goes slow at first; long, deep strokes to get them positioned exactly right. Harry watches him, digging his heels into Nick's back and hampering his movement a bit, trying to keep Nick close. Nick tickles the back of his knee in revenge as he slides all the way in, watching Harry's face melt from fond amusement into dark, heated arousal.
"Come on, then," Harry says, licking his lips.
Nick bends down for one more kiss before hoisting one of Harry's legs up over his shoulder and pulling back nearly all the way. They both groan as he pushes back in, hard not quite slamming into Harry as he bottoms out, but close. Another few thrusts and he's got a rhythm going, holding onto Harry's thighs for leverage and balance.
Harry is holding onto the headboard and pushing his hips back against Nick at every thrust, his abs clenching each time. His cock is lying along his stomach, untouched and twitching when Nick gets his angle just right.
He can feel his orgasm building as he goes, but Nick is in no hurry for this to end, so he doesn't speed up. Instead, he settles into a steady pace and reaches around to toy with Harry's nipples, watching Harry shiver, feeling it in every inch of him.
Nick has worked up a nice sweat by the time Harry reaches between them to wrap his hand around his own cock.
Taking his hint from Harry, Nick speeds up and his movements get shallower, running towards the finish now.
Harry comes first, mouth open and neck arched back, throwing the muscles there into sharp relief. Nick bends down, folding Harry in half to get his mouth onto them, biting just under Harry's jaw. He can't move much like this, but he can get enough friction, which, combined with the way Harry is wrapped completely around him and holding on, is enough to get Nick to come too.
He keeps going as long as he can, a few more half thrusts until it's too much and he collapses on top of Harry and slowly begins to untangle himself.
Nick nips at the skin behind Harry's ear before he moves to get rid of the condom. Teasing more than anything else. Nick is breathing hard, a lot more than Harry.
"I'll be bikini ready in no time, if we keep going like that. Better than the gym, that is," Nick says.
They both laugh as Harry pushes Nick off and to the other side of the bed.
"We just got engaged, didn't we?" Harry asks. He's curled around Nick, head pillowed on Nick's shoulder, fingers toying with Nick's chest hair as they both cool off.
"Are you just now noticing?" Nick says. His fiancé is ridiculous. Fiancé.
"Shut up," Harry says, biting gently. Nick flicks his ear, just as gently. He's not all that fond of biting when it's not part of something else. And right now they're not doing anything. They could be, though. Maybe in a minute. "Really, though. I could get you a ring in the morning?"
Nick wonders if they'll change their minds by the morning. He usually changes his mind every five minutes, though Harry doesn't. It's a good balance. He yawns, cutting his own thoughts short.
"We can talk about it when we wake up," Nick says. "Sleep now."
Harry pulling the sheets over them both and settling into a more comfortable position on Nick's shoulder is the last thing Nick remembers.
Nick wakes up late the next morning and finds that Harry is already awake, sitting up against the headboard and reading something on his phone. His other hand is toying with Nick's hair gently, the light touch just enough to drag him out of his dreams.
"Hiya," Nick croaks out. He clears his throat and shifts closer, just for a minute.
"Morning," Harry says. He smiles at Nick and then goes back to his phone. Nick frowns, but gets out of bed to clean his teeth and take a piss. By the time he gets back, Harry's set his phone aside and is lying down again, duvet pooled around his hips. He motions at Nick to hurry up, and Nick doesn't bother circling around to his own side of the bed, just shoves at Harry until there's enough room for him to climb in and kiss Harry hello.
Much better. Nick sinks into it, feeling Harry shift against him, skin dragging over his, legs slotting together until they're touching everywhere. Harry is growing hard against his hip, long and hot, but Nick doesn't want to move away to get a hand between them. Harry doesn't seem to want to either, the way he's clutching at Nick's hips and holding him close.
"Like this," Harry says between kisses. "Don't move."
Nick is getting there, too. Not quite hard yet, but nearly. He shifts a bit to line his cock up with Harry's and settles back against him, swallowing Harry's moans when their dicks drag together. It's slow, the friction between them not enough to get either of them off quickly, even though it's enough to pull Nick right to the edge and keep him there.
He loses all track of time as they go, shifting and turning and rolling over and over. They nearly fall off the bed until Harry leverages the strength in his shoulders and gets them back into the center, settling back down and re-claiming Nick's mouth within seconds.
When Nick finally does come, about a minute after Harry, it's exactly like the sex has been — slow and intense, wringing itself out of him an inch at a time, and leaving him boneless after, clinging to Harry and breathing hard into his neck.
They're both a mess, but once they finally separate, Harry just wipes their stomachs off with a corner of the sheet and settles on his side, fingers toying with Nick's chest like he can't bear to not be touching. Nick knows how he feels; if Harry wasn't keeping them connected, Nick would be doing it.
And for all that Nick's always said he didn't care about getting married, said that it didn't really make a difference whether he had paperwork to back up a commitment to someone else. But now that they've said the words, have talked about it in more-than-concrete terms, it feels different. They feel different this morning.
Nick strains forward to land a gentle kiss on Harry's lips before flopping back onto the pillows again.
"That was alright, wasn't it?" Harry says, words slurring together like he's not managed to get full control of himself back yet.
"Mmmmmm," Nick agrees, blinking at him. He's gorgeous in the warm California sun, skin glowing, eyes bright, hair a mess on the pillow.
Nick is nearly drifting back to sleep when Harry speaks again.
"So," he starts. "I don't think we should go to Vegas."
Nick jerks awake, sitting up and forcing Harry's hand to fall away from him. He can't — he can't mean what Nick thinks. His heart is racing, blood pounding in his ears, and he fights off the sudden asthma attack that he can feel pressing down on him.
Harry's eyes go wide in shock and he scrambles for the bedside table where Nick's puff-puff is sitting next to his phone. Nick fumbles it to his mouth and inhales, feeling his lungs settle. Harry rubs at his back as he gets his breathing under control again.
"Are you okay?" Harry asks after Nick sets his inhaler back down.
He's still a bit dizzy, and he feels awful and wrung-out in a very unpleasant way. At least Harry is still right here, despite what he'd said. Nick can't quite form the right words to ask if Harry's having second thoughts. His mind is stormy and blank all at once, so he just looks at Harry, and has to hope he'll understand what he just did.
"I didn't mean it like that," Harry says. Of course he gets it. "I just don't think we should get married in Vegas. That's what I was looking at before you woke up."
"You still want to?" Nick asks. "Marry me, I mean."
"Yes," Harry says, leaning in to rest his head on Nick's shoulder. "More than anything."
"I never thought I would want to be married at all," Nick says. "Much less stress myself into a panic attack over it. Sure you want a nutter for a husband?"
"You're not that mad," Harry says, taking Nick's hand in his. "And you're my nutter anyway."
Nick smiles, turning to bury his stupid fondness in Harry's hair, even though there's not anyone around to see the way his face goes completely soft.
"Tell us what you've found, then."
"I didn't even know it was an option before this morning, I was ready to marry you and deal with whoever found out later. But there's a confidential option here? And we wouldn't have to wait. We could be married today. The courthouse in Beverly Hills does ceremonies on Wednesdays. And Fridays, though I'm working most of the afternoon and Nathan's wife is playing at the Troubador. I promised to go ages ago." He unlocks his phone and hands it over.
Nick reads the screen quickly. "It says we have to be living together."
"We do," Harry says. "Half my things are at yours because I'm never at mine when I'm in London. We've been looking at houses together, too. And it's not like they need proof or anything. We just have to swear that we do."
Nick reads a bit more, going through the information slowly to be sure he doesn't miss anything. The idea that they can do this and not have to wait for the sky to fall on them is amazing. He clutches Harry's hand and keeps reading.
"Today," Harry says. "We can be married today."
Nick's heart is beating wildly enough that he checks his pocket for his puff-puff as they pull up in front of the courthouse. Their appointment is the last one of the day, at quarter to five. No one is lingering on the sidewalk, and they walk in quickly, heads down, close together. Nick has to stop himself from reaching out and grabbing Harry's hand whilst they're on the pavement outside.
He lets himself do it when they're in the lift alone. Nick laces their fingers together and leans close to kiss him. "We're sure about this?"
Nick is absolutely sure, but there's always this tiny part of the back of his mind questioning why someone like Harry — young, beautiful, talented, rich — would hang around him.
Harry leans in and cups the back of his head and quickly kisses him back. "We're absolutely sure."
It takes about twenty minutes in the end. They're ushered straight into a small chapel once they've shown their identification and picked up their license and some flowers to pin to their shirts. Nick is fairly sure he bruises Harry's hands as they repeat their vows, but it's alright because Harry is holding on to him just as tightly.
Nick's entire world narrows down to the gentle smile on Harry's face as Nick says, "I choose you as the man with whom I will spend the rest of my life."
Harry's eyes are a bit wet as he says it back. Nick wipes the tears away as he leans in to kiss him after Jason, their clerk, tells them that they are now married. Nick can barely stop smiling enough to do it, even as he pulls Harry close and bumps their mouths together.
A loud cough off to the right gets them to break apart enough to look.
"Need your signatures to make it official," Jason says. He's holding out a clipboard.
Nick reaches for it first, clicking the top of the pen. Harry moves around behind him, setting his chin on Nick's shoulder, arms around Nick's waist. He twists around and kisses Harry one more time before signing. Harry signs whilst still wrapped around Nick's back.
Jason looks at them, and back at the license. "You can wait in here while I process this if you want. There's a few other couples waiting, plus everyone leaving for the day, and given that this is a confidential license…"
"Thanks," Harry says. There's a few chairs in rows, facing the front of the room where they'd just said their vows, and Harry pulls Nick down to sit.
"We're married," Nick breathes, leaning in to kiss Harry again. It almost feels like nothing's happened. They walked into a room, said some words and signed a paper. But that was everything, because they walked into a courthouse, said vows to each other and signed a marriage license. They're still a secret, they still won't be able to spend more than a few days together at a time once Nick goes home and Harry goes back to his tour, but something's changed.
It's always been easy to touch Harry when they're together, no matter where they are. A hand on his knee, an arm around his shoulder, their shoulders pressing together. He feels like a magnet now; they're pressed side by side in two of the seats meant for witnesses and family, leaning close, hands clasped together in a giant pile of fingers.
Everywhere they're touching, Nick wants more, wants to be closer, wants to keep Harry right next to him forever. Right now he can easily lean forward and close the two inches between them and kiss his husband. Soon enough there will be thousands of miles between them, and kissing his phone screen just isn't the same. Not that he's ever done that after they've hung up the phone. Ever.
He doesn't even notice when Jason comes back with a flat manila envelope in his hand because he's a bit busy with Harry. He's got a hand on Harry's neck, thumb pressing in just below his ear. Harry is whispering against his lips, whatever story he's telling getting lost between them.
It doesn't matter anyway.
Nick blinks awake earlier than he would like, given that he's still on holiday. Also because it's the day after his wedding. Wedding. Fuck, he's married now.
His husband is blinking, too, reaching across Nick towards the bedside table where his phone is ringing.
"It's my mum," Harry says, chin pillowed on Nick's chest. "I should answer." The phone stops ringing before Harry can control his thumbs enough to do that. "Or call her back."
"Are you going to tell her?"
Harry's brow furrows, making him look like a particularly puzzled bird. His feathers are even ruffled, but that's more because they just woke up. Nick smooths his bedhead down.
"Why wouldn't I?"
"No reason," Nick says. It's just — he loves Anne, and he knows she's perfectly fine with the two of them. She always has been. He just has a feeling that she might now be quite as fine with her son going ahead and getting married with no warning. Mums tend to be weird about those things. "She might be a bit sore over missing it is all."
"She'll be more sad if we keep the secret. You should ring Pete and Eileen too."
"I'll call when I'm back in London."
He lets Harry kiss him despite his morning breath. He lets Harry kiss him until they're both breathless and half-hard, which is not an acceptable state to make a call to one's mother.
Nick gently pushes Harry away and gets up to clean his teeth. He doesn't look any different in the mirror, except for the bites decorating his neck. Of course, those are pretty normal whenever he manages to see Harry long enough to fall into bed. It's just — he's married.
He's married to Harry Styles.
Harry Styles is his husband. His husband who is sitting up in bed and turning his phone over and over in his hand, and not actually talking to his mother the way he's supposed to.
"Come sit with me?" He pats the bed next to him, and of course Nick will go and hold his husband's hand whilst they break the news to their families.
Harry curls up against Nick and then dials Anne's number. Nick wraps an arm around his shoulder and pulls him in, listening to the ringing through the phone.
"Hi!" Anne says, voice bright and clear. "You didn't have to call back. I forgot Nick was still there. I just wanted to ask you something for next week."
Nick doesn't really mean to listen in, but Harry's still leaning close, head pillowed on Nick's shoulder and one leg slung over his.
"Hi," Harry says. "And that's sort of why I needed to call you?"
"Harry, is everything okay? He didn't — You're okay, aren't you?"
Harry laughs like he can't hold it in. It's not even happy, just a nervous tick. Nick squeezes him a bit tighter.
"I'm fine," Harry gets out after a long twenty seconds. "Yeah, I'm good."
"What is it, love?"
Harry fidgets a bit in Nick's lap.
"Just tell her," Nick says, voice low. Anne can probably hear him anyway. He talks way too loud and his mouth is only a few inches from the phone, the way they're sitting.
"Yeah, so. Um. We sort of. Got married?"
There's a shocked silence on the other end of the phone, and Nick pulls Harry closer.
"We're married. We got married yesterday."
"Oh, that's lovely."
Nick's known Anne for a few years now, but he doesn't know how prone she is to being passive-aggressive, and he can't tell from listening in on the phone whether she is genuinely pleased for them, or if there's something she's upset about. Harry answers the question for him.
"Mum, what's wrong?"
Harry sounds close to tears, voice wavering a tiny bit, so Nick digs his fingers into Harry's hair, scratching over his scalp in the way he likes best. Harry melts a bit, though he's still mostly tense, waiting for his mum to answer.
"I just wish you'd waited, is all."
Harry huffs out a frustrated breath, and Nick keeps his fingers working in Harry's messy hair. He's always been a bit sensitive about his age, about people thinking he's too young to know his mind or to travel and work and meet whoever he wants to. Nick had learned very quickly that Harry may be young, but he does know himself, and knows what he wants. Anne knows this too.
And she speaks up pretty quickly, probably guessing what's wrong. "Not like that. I just wish I could have been there. If you'd told me before I could have got on a plane."
"No one knew. Just us. Well, and Rachel, because she helped with some logistics." Harry goes over the whole story with her, leaving out the details of that first spark of an idea. "We didn't plan anything really. You're the first person we've told."
"May I speak to him?"
Harry doesn't answer, just passes the phone to Nick.
"Hi, love." She sounds as lovely as ever on the phone, but Nick's still braced for something to happen. He's not exactly sure what. Harry rubs his back and makes no secret of the fact that he's listening in.
"What did my son do to get you to go along with this?"
"Mum!" Harry groans.
Anne laughs, and Nick does too. Mostly just to see Harry pout about it.
The thing is, though, that Anne listens to the show and Nick's never really held back the way he thought he'd never get married.
"He didn't do anything," Nick said. "Didn't even get me a ring."
"I'll tell him off for that later."
Harry buries his face in Nick's shoulder, but Nick can still see that he's smiling, dimples poked out.
"It wasn't anything really," He says. Going for the truth now. She definitely deserves to hear it, since they went ahead without talking to anyone else. "The other night we came home and just sort of felt that we were tired of not being married, so we went ahead and did it. That's all. Really."
"You'll have to come up for a visit once you're home," Anne says. "When you're both home. Get your parents over as well."
"Sounds lovely," Nick agrees. "I'm giving the phone back to Hazza, now. Lovely to talk to you."
Nick passes the phone back, and Harry says his goodbyes before ending the call and tossing the phone to the foot of the bed.
Eileen hangs up about two seconds after Nick says the word "married."
Nick calls right back whilst Harry tries to catch his breath from laughing too hard.
"Really, Nick. I'm not falling for your stupid game again," she says when she answers.
"I'm not asking you to buy me ostrich eggs, mum. And besides I'm on holiday."
"No, you're telling me you got married in California without telling anyone first. Do you really think I'd believe that?"
"Let me talk to her," Harry says, not bothering to hide that he's listening in. Nick's entire family are loud, and his mum still nearly shouts down the phone all the time, a remnant from when phone lines were a lot less clear. Useful on a connection from here, though, when everything sounds like it's underwater.
"I don't do radio when I'm on holiday!" Nick says. "Harry wants to talk to you. I'm putting you on speaker."
"Hiya," Harry says, ducking his head a bit to be closer to the phone. "Can I call you mum now?"
"You roped your mate in too, Nick? Come on."
"Not my mate, mum. My husband," Nick says, burying his face in his one free hand.
"We're not taking the piss," Harry says. "Nick's been to visit me, and we just wanted to get married."
"Did you tell your mum?" Eileen asks.
"About ten minutes ago," Harry says. "She believed us. Had a go at me for not giving Nick a ring."
"And why didn't you?"
Harry mumbles something about not having enough time, and Nick listens in, smiling. He can tell that his mum is only teasing, but Harry is now officially a Grimshaw. Grimshaw-Styles? Something at any rate. He's family, which means he can deal with Eileen on his own.
"You should come down to London soon," Harry says. "I won't be back for another few weeks, but Nick can show you the certificate."
"You're really not having me on?" Eileen asks. Maybe Nick should stop doing Call or Delete altogether.
"We're really not," he says. "Come down for a visit. You and Dad."
"You don't have to go through all this just to get us to visit, you know."
"Mum!" Nick flops backwards onto the pillows, leaving Harry holding his phone.
"Has he gone all dramatic or sommat?" Eileen asks as Harry laughs.
"We've got to go," Harry says. "He'll ring you when he's back so you can make plans. Bye!"
"Bye!" Nick says, and Harry ends the call, before settling down on top of him.
"That went well," Nick says, and they both burst into laughter. "Do you think Jane would believe me?"
"I don't think anyone would believe you," Harry says. "Though we could always try Sam. She didn't try to talk you out of it last time, did she? Not really."
"Think she might kill us this time. We'll just have to stay here forever."
"We could do," Harry says, settling closer and clinging to Nick.
Neither of them speak for a while. It's nice right now, this tiny bubble world they've carved out for the morning: having a lie-in together, trading slow kisses and calling their families. They both know it can't last, but Nick wishes it could, just a bit longer. "We couldn't, though."
Harry sighs, and Nick digs his fingers into Harry's hair again.
Harry tells the lads next.
Got married last night, he types, and sends it to the group WhatsApp without anything else.
"Do you think they'll believe me?" he asks. Nick doesn't even have time to answer before the first answer comes back.
Is this about the thing from Vancouver? Louis asks.
"What's the thing from Vancouver?" Nick asks.
"Band stuff," Harry says. "Louis did a thing." He types out, No, I really got married, and sends it. "Liam helped."
you wouldntttt not without usss we promised, Liam sends back.
Didn't mean to. Just wanted to be married and Nick was here and said yes.
Good one mate, Louis says. this for something on his show?
"Oh my god," Harry says. "They're like Eileen. They think you've put me up to it."
Nick collapses into helpless laughter. "Your boys are just as bad as my entire family."
"Shut up. Your mum hung up on you."
No joke. We got married yesterday, Harry sends back.
"Where'd we put the thing? When we came back last night."
"The license. Certificate. Proof we're married so the boys believe me."
Nick doesn't want to let Harry leave the bed, since their time is limited by Harry's work the way it always is, but if it gets Harry's band to send well wishes and go away so he can get back to getting off with his husband, he'll do it.
"Kitchen, I think?" Nick says. "Bit distracted when we got back, wasn't I?"
Harry kisses him again. "Yeah, me too." He pulls away. "Be right back."
He doesn't bother putting pants on to get out of bed and wander around his house, and Nick watches him until he disappears around the corner and pulls up his own phone again, opting to text his siblings instead of calling.
Harry bounces back before either Jane or Andrew respond, so Nick tosses his phone aside and waits for Harry to settle next to him again, their certificate in his hand. Nick reaches out to touch it, because even though they've been telling people for the last few hours, he still doesn't quite believe it's real.
Nick watches Harry take a bunch of pictures of the certificate, tip of his tongue sticking out of his mouth as he searches for the best one.
"Can you read that?" he asks, passing the phone to Nick. Nick squints at the screen on Harry's phone. "Does it look real?"
"You can see our names on that," Nick says. He doesn't know why it's weird to be reading it off a picture on Harry's phone. The whole thing is absurd; he's married now. It still feels like a prank somehow. Maybe that's why no one believes them.
"That's the point, you idiot," Harry says, elbowing Nick. He's typing again, though. Sending the picture to his boys.
Messages full of exclamation marks come pouring in immediately, faster than Nick can see which one is sending them. Eventually, the strings of punctuation turn into actual words, and Harry beams as the happy messages come in from his band.
Nick pokes a finger into one of Harry's dimples. "You're supposed to be looking at me like that, not your band," Nick says. "It's not even them, it's your phone and a string of text messages. Have I made a terrible mistake?"
"Never," Harry promises, setting his phone aside.
They fall back onto the pillows, sliding close. Nick traces the lines of Harry's face with his fingertips, leaning close and kissing him at random times. Harry is soft and warm and real in his arms.
He clutches Harry close until his phone starts ringing, and even then he just sends the call to voicemail. It's Jane, but she can talk to their mum first.
"What now, husband?" Nick asks. The word feels so strange on his tongue.
"Sex," Harry says with a grin.
Harry is still sitting on the bed wrapped in a towel when Nick comes out of the shower.
"So I kind of forgot that I've got a tattoo appointment soon? That new one on my hip."
"Alright," Nick says. "Should I come with you?" They haven't discussed any of this. Their relationship is as secret as it's ever been — not all that much in reality — but being married is new. And neither of them have called their publicist.
"He's coming here," Harry says. "Have to strip down for a hip piece, and it's better not to do that anywhere public."
"You mean you're going to put on clothes before he gets here?" Harry had said he'd shower after Nick, but judging from the look on his face, they're both going to need another shower very soon.
Harry smirks and lies back on the rumpled sheets. "Maybe five minutes?"
Harry's assistant brings them a late lunch of pizza and chips and beer when she brings the tattoo artist. They're both fully clothed by then — Well, Nick is, Harry's just wearing a small pair of running shorts — sitting by the pool with a bowl of crisps between them. Nick is supposed to be going out with Zane and Rita and a few more of his friends, dinner and then a show, but depending on how long this takes, maybe he'll just meet them after they've eaten.
Harry immediately jumps up to take the food from Rachel and to greet his artist, and after a round of handshakes and hugs, Nick follows them inside.
"This is my husband, Nick," Harry says. He glows, when he says it, and pulls Nick close. "Nick this is Alan. He's done my last few pieces."
"Nice to meet you," Alan says. "Speaking of, I've got the latest copy of your design. Care to take a look at it before we start putting it on you?" He's carrying a folder and he holds it out for Harry.
Nick looks over his shoulder as he inspects the design. It's a tree, branches sparse and twisted, roots long. He traces his finger over Harry's thigh. "You're putting it here?"
Harry nods and leans into the touch.
"You two go ahead and eat while it's hot. I'll set up my table and equipment in the other room and come get you when it's ready."
"Join us, there's plenty," Harry says. "And you haven't showed me pictures of your daughter yet."
Nick laughs, and holds Harry closer. Of course Harry would ask after his family right before he's about to strip down and have his skin drawn on. He's a ridiculous person, and Nick loves him quite a bit.
"Let me set up first," Alan says, and disappears down the hall, dragging a massage table with him.
He starts setting out their food to actually eat, and Nick finds that he's starving. They'd barely made it out of bed before noon, between calling their family and enjoying the time together, and they'd eaten cake for breakfast, but faced with pizza and chips, Nick's stomach growls.
After they eat, Nick follows Harry into the living room where Alan's set up his table along with all his supplies on coffee table, laid out carefully on sterile white paper. He washes his hands and Harry disappears back to the bedroom and comes out with a towel around his waist.
Nick pulls up a chair near Harry's head and sits whilst he's shaved and the stencil is applied.
"Go take a look at that, and if you like it, we'll go ahead and do the whole thing," Alan says, opening little pots of ink.
Harry drags Nick with him to look in the full mirror in his bathroom.
"What do you think?" he asks.
Nick gently traces the lines. Harry's tattoos make no sense, but they all work on him. He traces over the lines of the tree, feeling Harry tremble a bit under his touch.
"It looks good on you," he says. He's already looking forward to the next time he sees Harry, when he'll get to explore the real thing with more than just his fingertips.
Harry traces the lines too, following where Nick's touch has gone. "Yeah," Harry frowns at himself, and Nick waits him out. "It's not right though. Not tonight. Not when we got married yesterday."
Nick looks back at their reflection — Harry invitingly naked, a ghost of new ink on his skin. Nick behind him, holding him close. He hasn't got a tattoo since the one he did with Rita in October. Harry gets big flashy pieces and fills in the space between them with personal momentos. Nick doesn't have any themes, can't even remember why he has all of his, but he has some that illustrate parts of his life.
"Something for us," he says.
"It's not a ring, but it's something."
"Can't lose a tattoo. Easier to hide, too." Nick smirks, "Well, if you could keep your clothes on."
Harry reaches up and touches a blank spot on his chest, just over his heart. "Here," he says. "I want something here."
He turns around and strokes his fingers over the same spot on Nick's chest. "Lets do it," Nick says.
Alan pulls up his online gallery on Harry's computer, once Harry's got his shorts on and they've figured out the change in plans.
"Something not too obvious," Harry says. "There's already plenty of pages devoted to figuring out the meanings behind all of my designs. I'd rather they speculate than be able to figure it out."
"I had a couple a few months ago that did roman numerals for their dates on their wrists," Alan says.
"Still a bit obvious," Nick says. "Harry's fans take everything apart."
Harry taps his lips. "What if — what if we added up the numbers?" He grabs a paper and pen from the drawer and writes out yesterday's date, and then does the sum. "Twenty six. May the sixth, two thousand and fifteen."
"Two thousand and twenty six," Nick says, looking at the sum. He takes the pen and writes out the roman numerals, looking at his phone for a reference. MMXXVI. "Bit weird, isn't it?"
"Take off the two thousand," Harry says. "Too obvious still." Nick crosses it out and holds up the paper between them. "I like it."
"It's weird," Nick says.
"You have a weeping nipple tattoo," Harry points out.
"And you have a mermaid with a full bush," Nick says. "On your forearm."
Harry rolls his eyes. "I like it," Harry says. He hands the paper to Alan. "Can you make a stencil from this? I want to keep the handwriting."
"I don't have the right materials to make a new stencil," he says. "But I've got a marker so we could do it that way. Draw it right onto you and go from there."
"I like that," Harry says. He turns to Nick. "I'll do you, then you do me." They both break into giggles, because they are actually twelve years old.
"We'll do that too," Nick says. "But later. We've got company." Harry is still fully naked, of course. And it's not like crowded arenas have stopped them before, though there's usually not someone directly watching.
"Don't mind me," Alan says. He's smirking when Nick looks over at him, but quickly puts the Harry's design back in his folder and pulls out a razor and shaving cream. "Where are these new ones going?"
Harry points at his chest, just under the left sparrow. "Here," he says, looking at Nick. "Over my heart."
It hits Nick, right there, that Harry is etching something into his skin forever. His eyes go a bit watery and he throws Harry's shorts at him to cover it up. "Put those on, Harry. No one wants to see that."
"Got millions of twitter messages says otherwise," Harry says, sticking his tongue out.
Nick sticks his out right back, then watches as Harry does put his shorts back on.
It only takes another few minutes before Harry is prepped and lying back on the table, legs crossed at the ankles and looking like he's lounging on the beach in Ibiza or Rio or anywhere there's an overabundance of sun and saltwater.
Alan hands Nick a blue marker and he uncaps it, ready to draw on Harry. He stalls, and Harry gives him a look.
"Just do it, Nick. It'll be perfect no matter what you do because that's what I want. Your writing on me."
It comes out a bit wonky in the end, the lines of the two Xs crossed in weird places, the line of it uneven. "You sure about this?" Nick asks.
Harry nods, without even looking.
He's got weirder tattoos, Nick supposes.
The tattoo itself takes minutes, and Nick watches as Harry lets his eyes drift shut, almost asleep by the time it's finished. He wakes up as Alan cleans it up and wraps it. Harry lets go of Nick's hand to touch the edges.
"Perfect," he says, before pulling Nick in to kiss him. "Now it's your turn."
Harry's hands are soft on his chest as he carefully draws in the design in a perfectly straight line, bold and connected with parallel lines across the top and bottom of the letters. It'll easily show once his rug grows back.
Harry adds a dot at the end and pronounces that he's finished. Nick touches it. Feels like any other bit of skin, really. Harry takes his hand as Alan goes to work.
Nick has tattoos, but even if he doesn't remember getting half of them, he's not quite as enamored of the process as Harry is. Harry keeps hold of his hand as Alan bends over his chest and gets to work.
"I still can't believe it," Harry says. "It's been a day but I think I'm dreaming."
"Don't wake up," Nick says. He feels it too.
The needle stings a bit, but Harry rubs his thumbs over Nick's hands the whole time, giving Nick something else to focus on for the duration. It takes slightly longer than Harry's, mostly because the lines are thicker on his. When it's done, though it looks great. Nick has tied his life to Harry's, and now they've both drawn it on, permanently.
Even if no one else knows. It's the best kind of secret.
Nick walks into Radio One early on his first day back. He's been up for hours already, thanks to the jetlag, but it had given him time to call Harry and not be rushing to get ready for work at the same time.
Fiona looks shocked when he walks in before six, but quickly comes around to give him a hug.
"Have a good holiday, then?" she says, winking at him. "I expected more pictures."
Nick rolls his eyes. "Really good, yeah." He touches his tattoo, which is mostly healed now. His hair is all spiky and weird on top of it though, and it's driving him a bit insane. It's like growing a tiny patch of beard when his skin is already sore.
"Do anything special? Or did you just lay out by Harry's pool the whole time?"
"I do have other friends in Los Angeles," Nick says. He'd seen them, too. Maybe not as much as he'd seen Harry, though. "Rita was there."
"Uh huh." She goes back to her screens and Nick goes to make himself a cup of tea and visit Gemma.
He gets back just as Newsbeat is starting up.
"So I got a call from Eileen the other day," Fiona says. "She wanted to stop me from playing out the call or delete you'd just done on her."
"The easter one? That's over. It's been ages." Nick knows what she's talking about, but he's got to talk in a minute, his first day back and he's always got nerves about that.
"Said you called from your holiday with some news."
Tina's on the weather now and he's got to open his show.
"That part's true," Nick says. He fades up his music and gets his show started, and he wishes he hadn't had to do it this way because he really wants to send Harry a picture of Fiona's shocked face. He does a quick link, fades up Bills, and turns to face Fiona.
"Are you joking? You — really?"
"Really," Nick says. He touches his tattoo.
"What's going on?" Victoria asks.
Fiona points at him. "He got married in California." Fiona pauses for a beat, like she's about to deliver a punchline. Which, given the situation, she definitely is. "To Harry Styles."
Nick buries his face in his hands and just groans. He's way too jetlagged to deal with this.
Nick wakes up somewhere in the middle of the night when Harry crawls into bed. Nick hadn't known when to expect him back, as they'd played gigs up in Edinburgh and Glasgow the last two days. It's nice to have him back, though, and it's the weekend, so Nick doesn't have to be up in the morning.
Harry's naked already, and mostly just collapses on top of Nick once he's got his head near the pillows, waking Nick up the rest of the way.
"Hi," Harry says. He sounds rough, which is understandable as he had a show and then got on a plane. He smells like aeroplane, too. Like stale air and sweat. He tastes like old gum when Nick pulls him in for a kiss.
"Hiya," Nick says, eventually. "Did you sleep at all on your flight?"
Harry shakes his head and ducks down for another kiss, and Nick lets him. "Wasn't even two hours."
He can't even see Harry's face yet. Not properly, anyway. There's dim light spilling in from the street, so he can see that Harry's eyes are wide and his hair is pulled back from his face, and his chest is smeared with patches of ink in blurry shapes. He flips Harry onto his back, tangling their legs as he does. At least he avoids landing his knee on Harry's dick.
"We should sleep, then," Nick says. "I'm tired. This dickhead crawled into my bed in the middle of the night and woke me up."
Harry snorts, probably wrinkling up his nose the way he does when he's both amused and annoyed at the same time. "I can go sleep in one of the other bedrooms so you can get your beauty sleep. Might be good for those wrinkles." He pokes at the corner of Nick's eyes and mouth until Nick grabs his wrist and pins it above his head. Harry blinks up at him a few times, taking longer to open his eyes after each blink.
"You need sleep," Nick says. "You can fuck me in the morning when we're both awake and I don't have morning breath anymore."
"Mmmmm, alright," Harry says, relaxing all at once. He'll be asleep in about three seconds. Nick settles himself a bit more — still half on top of Harry — and closes his eyes.
Sugarscape, April 2016
Fandom's been all in a flutter for weeks now over Hazkaban wearing what appears to be a wedding ring. He's no stranger to rings, and hasn't been seen without at least three for what feels like (and probably is) years now. But does this new one have any extra significance? We got our chance to ask him today, as One Direction are two weeks into their fourth (where does the time go?) world tour.
Sugarscape: Harry, you are pretty well known for wearing lots of jewelry but we have to ask about your newest ring. Is it what it looks like? Did you get secretly married?
Harry: [Laughs] I did, yeah.
S: Wait, really? We were just joking!
H: It's true, though. It's been almost a year, now. It was very private, just the two of us and a clerk who married us. We didn't even tell our parents or the boys until after it was done.
Liam: We can't say we were surprised though.
H: Don't lie, Liam. You made us send a picture of the certificate.
Liam: Well, we weren't expecting you to tie the knot right before tour started. Or without us! You could have called.
H: We didn't plan it or anything. One day we just looked at each other and we were tired of not being married, so we did it. We had a reception recently for our friends and family recently, which is where we exchanged rings, since we didn't on the day. We just didn't want to take them off after, the way we'd planned.
S: How is married life, then?
H: Good. Yeah, it's good. It could be better. They've got a proper job here in London and I still love Los Angeles and like the people I work with when I'm there, and I'm still on tour a lot, so that makes it harder to spend time together, but we've always managed that as well as we can. It's different though, just knowing that you're married. That there's someone waiting for you at home. That we're more together than we were before. It's not something we expected, but we both feel it.
Despite being very forthcoming about his feelings, our Hazza wouldn't give us a name to go with the ring, so we did the math. There's been no hint of a girlfriend since Harry's rumoured split with Nadine Leopold a year ago. Seems he's really learned the art of secrecy since then! Or maybe he hasn't as well as he likes to think: a year ago, the boys were all in Los Angeles, writing their album and gearing up for their first tour as a foursome (we still cry when we think too hard about Zayn). Harry himself was barely seen at all that break, and his BFF Grimmy visited for about a week right in the middle of it. We don't know what to think anymore!
"We should go on a date," Harry says over dinner.
"What, like now? I've got to get up in the morning and it's already after eight."
Harry turns to look at him, brows furrowed and Nick reaches out to smooth the wrinkles over with his thumb. "Don't do that. Don't take the piss."
"I'm not!" Nick leans in to kiss him and when he pulls away Harry's face has mostly gone back to normal. "Okay, maybe a little," he admits.
Harry gives him a small smile. "Not tonight, dickhead. But, like, this weekend? Our anniversary is coming up and I'm leaving soon. I'll be away for it. "
Nick knows. He's had Harry's calendars synced to his own for years, little green bars at the top of nearly every day on his diary, telling him where Harry is and where his band are performing. He's used to Harry leaving, but it's somehow worse now that they're married. He's such a terrible sap; he never wants to let his husband go again.
His choices boil down to breaking the most popular pop band ever, or abandoning his own dream job with no notice or back-up plan. He'll never do either, he knows.
"We'll be photographed. You're always followed."
"I'll warn Celia so she can be on top of the spin. Let me take you out?"
Nick spins his ring around his finger a few times, watching the diamond embedded in it disappear and reappear as it turns. Nick was never going to say no.
"Yeah, alright. But I demand the finest champagne and caviar."
"I was thinking a plate of chips and a pint," Harry says, lopsided smile taking up most of his face. "There's a nice pub down the road."
They haven't been out since Harry had actually said that he's married a few weeks ago. Not that they've gone out a lot over the last few years, but if they're spotted just the two of them at a table it'll be an announcement, almost. They're wearing matching rings, after all.
"Are we really ready for this?" Nick asks.
"I think so?" Harry picks up Nick's hand. "Aren't we? Not like we'll be getting off on the table. Just having dinner."
"You know what I mean."
Harry is quiet for a minute. "Maybe it's just time? We don't have to confirm anything."
"Come on, Harry, you know how this works. How many girlfriends have you had in the last few years?"
Harry pauses again, and picks up Nick's hand in his. "Yeah, I know how this works. I still want to take you to dinner."
Nick squeezes Harry's hand and leans in to kiss him. "Okay."