Harry Styles is sort of the town sweetheart. He works at the one bakery in town and he charms grannies, mums, and girls alike with his smiles and his dimples. Every other Saturday he volunteers at the hospital in the kids’ ward, singing silly songs to cheer them up just a little bit. On Christmas Eve, he goes to the soup kitchen to help them with their holiday rush. He’s cute and funny and helpful and reliable. The town unanimously adores him.
Or, well, that's what Liam hears. At least, it’s what his mum tells him whenever she sees him around town, anyways.
“He’s just so sweet,” she says to him, smoothing his hair back behind his ear. He’s been playing with straightening it, lately, which makes it go every which way and his mum always feels the need to smooth it down. “He helped me take the groceries in last night, you know. Was just passing by and saw me with all those bags and offered! Such a kind-hearted boy, that one.”
Liam nods and lets her preen him because she’s his mum and also they’re not in public, so it’s not that big a deal. “He’s fine,” Liam says absently. He’s got a test in composition tomorrow, so he’s not paying much attention to his mum, but he knows to say something during her pauses.
“Shame about his boyfriend, though. That Horan boy is such a devilish little imp, sometimes.”
“Yeah, shame.” Liam chews the end of his pen for a few moments before pausing and actually realising what she just said. He looks up at her. “Wait, what?”
“You know, that Niall Horan. He’s ever so rude, sometimes. Always at the pub or the chip shop, causing a fuss. I don’t know what Harry sees in him.” She sighs. “Ah, well. Maybe he’ll date you, one day.” She sounds slightly hopeful.
Liam blinks, a little floored. “Um. Well, I like girls, though. Sorry?” He feels like this might be the opposite of the usual conversation lads his age have with their mums about their sexuality.
“No need to be sorry, dear. Maybe just invite Harry over more? I’m sure you two would make lovely friends.”
“Uh. Yeah, sure.” Liam goes back to his comp book and tries to put the image of his mum trying to hook him up with Harry Styles, beloved town boy, out of his head.
After the enlightening conversation with his mum, Liam can’t help but notice Harry and Niall all around town. They’re always connected at the hip when Harry isn’t weaving dreams and saving kittens or whatever he does that impresses Liam’s mum so much. Niall doesn't seem to work or fill his time with anything other than eating, drinking and sports, so they're always about together.
Liam’s known Niall since he moved to town a few years back. He’s loud and sort of hyper and obnoxious, but gets on with practically everyone he meets. He makes rude noises and curses worse than a sailor and makes vulgar gestures at people who tease him for his crooked teeth or broad accent. He doesn't seem to give one toss whether people like him, and doesn't bother hiding it. He's straight-forward possibly to a fault and so blunt that Liam once saw him make a girl cry when he told her what he really thought of her hair. He's the exact opposite of Harry in almost every way.
But when Harry looks at Niall, his eyes positively shine. He smiles wide and he gets those dimples that make Liam’s mum sigh. No matter what’s going on around them, as long as Harry is next to Niall, there’s nowhere else he looks.
It’s sort of charming, but so, so weird, to Liam, because they don’t really make sense. Niall is fast-paced and noisy and Harry is so laid back and sort of soft. Niall wears baggy denims and vests and caps while Harry wears skinny trousers and grandpa sweaters. They clash in so many ways, but they just seem to fit when they’re together. It's like their hips slot just right or something. Liam certainly doesn't know.
Liam is at the pub, for some reason. He doesn’t drink, really. He can, but he has better things to do than get wasted and be useless until he’s sober again. But Zayn had begged and Liam is a sucker for those eyelashes, he can’t lie. He can't tell them no, either.
He’s at the bar. Zayn abandoned him to go chat up Louis by the restrooms, so Liam watches the game. There’s a loud whoop from the other side of the divider and he notices Niall is sat there with a pint in each hand, watching the game with apt fascination. He takes a drink from one of his glasses, then the next, which actually makes Liam laugh a little bit. It's definitely very him.
Niall’s team scores a goal and he goes a bit crazy, making a ruckus and drawing eyes from all over the pub. He doesn’t seem to notice that anyone is staring, just drains one of his glasses and nods at the bartender for another.
“Hey, babes, where you at!” Niall shouts, not looking away from the screen. Harry materialises out of nowhere and sits down next to him. “You missed a good play,” Niall tells him, sliding his half-empty pint over.
“Sucks.” Harry drains his beer but shakes his head when the bartender holds up the spigot. He keeps his eyes trained on the side of Niall’s face, not paying one bit of attention to the game. “Hey.”
“Yeah?” Niall finally drags his eyes away from the telly and faces Harry fully. “Hey.”
Harry smiles, dimples out in full force. He leans in and brushes a kiss against Niall’s mouth, grinning as he pulls back. “I like you,” he says.
“I like you, too,” Niall tells him, uncharacteristically soft. Liam can somehow still hear him over the din of the pub, though, and he feels a bit like he's spying on something private and intimate. It doesn't stop him from watching, though. Niall leans in again and they go for a proper snog, this time, until someone near Liam shouts at the telly and Niall pulls away to see what’s happening. He shouts abuse at the referee. Harry just leans against him, playing with the hair at the back of his neck, smiling.
Zayn comes crashing back into Liam, then, laughing his head off about something Louis has managed to do and Liam loses track of them for the rest of the night.
He maybe doesn’t have to wonder quite so much, though, what Harry is doing with a lad like Niall, after that.