it’s a shock, but not a surprise. they’d been drifting apart for a while now-- really, ever since march, but she’d really hoped.
she’d hoped the ring on her finger actually meant something.
zayn leaves in the middle of the day, when she’s gone to the studio or summat, and she comes back to a note on the table and holes in her house. not physical ones, but places where he’s taken his things and left empty spaces. books missing from the shelf, clothes missing from the closet, pictures missing from the wall.
she doesn’t even realise she’s ringing jesy until jesy answers.
“do you want to come over?”
perrie looks around the empty house and shudders. “yeah.”
“is everything alright?”
“zayn and i broke up.”
jesy lets out a breath through her teeth, sharp and annoyed. “babe….”
“no, i’m fine. i just. need company.”
“of course, love. we’ll be on our way. takeout alright? i can bring a curry, or maybe a kebab.”
perrie smiles as she twists a strand of hair around her finger, but only briefly. “either. i don’t mind. whatever you see on your way over.”
“i’ll be quick,” jesy promises and then the line goes dead. perrie’s not quite sure what to do while she waits. she can’t for the life of her think of anything to keep her busy. it’s like zayn took a part of her as well.
she ends up doing the dishes, sleeves pushed up past her elbows and feet bare. there aren’t that many, just a few cups from breakfast, and she’s done in no time at all. she even wipes down the counters, twice, and pours bleach in the sink.
jesy walks in when she’s halfway through reorganizing the kitchen. who decided the mugs should be across the room from where the kettle’s plugged in, anyways? impractical. at least, that’s what she tells jesy.
perrie waves a hand and puts away the stack of plates.
jesy shakes her head and takes a step forward to help, looking a mix between upset and sympathetic.
“hold on, i thought you’d said you’re bringing takeaway.”
“jade’s bringing the one close to her flat. you like that one best.”
jesy gives her a look. “yes, she’s coming, and leigh anne too. they’ll be here in a tick.”
“because you’ve just broken up with your fiance. it’s a little traumatic, and you need us here.”
“i’m fine, honestly.”
“that’s what scares me,” jesy says, blunt as everything. “have you got any wine?”
“dunno. it’s over there, though.”
jesy reaches under the counter, pulls out a bottle triumphantly, and starts rummaging around for a corkscrew. perrie slides the wine glasses over and laughs when jesy just takes a swig from the bottle.
“you’re dead classy.”
“had to make sure it was good, didn’t i?” she takes another sip, looking contemplative. “yeah, it’ll do.”
“hand it over, then,” she says, holding out her hand. jesy gives it to her and perrie drinks from the bottle as well. it is rather nice, not too cheap. like she said, it’ll do. “think the girls will mind if we pour it out after we’ve drunk from it?”
“nah, just don’t tell them.”
perrie laughs, and it startles her a little bit. she hadn’t felt like laughing, really, just felt a little empty. shaking her head to clear it, she fills up the glasses and goes looking for something to serve as pudding.
“might as well go all out,” she mutters and finds some ice cream in the freezer.
“that’s not cliche at all,” comments jesy and perrie flips her off. “wine and ice cream to get over a breakup.”
“it’s that or stale biscuits.”
“ice cream it is.”
“hello!” someone calls from the hallway. it sounds like jade, and sure enough she pokes her head in a second later. “i’ve brought food.”
“finally, we’re wasting away,” perrie teases and jade frowns at her.
“you’re not crying.”
“but shouldn’t you be?”
“i might later. don’t feel like it now.”
jade frowns deeper, coming over to give her a hug. perrie lets her, mostly because she likes hugs and not because she needs one. and jade is the best person to hug, honestly, the right size and everything.
leigh anne comes in during the hugging session, and calmly starts unloading food onto plates and gathering forks. she takes it into the living room, with jesy carrying a glass of wine in each hand.
“come on, i’m starving,” she calls a second later. jade laughs as she breaks away and nicks the other two glasses.
they’re sitting on the floor like teenagers, crosslegged with the plates balanced on their laps. perrie and jade join them.
they eat and drink and dip their spoons into the container of ice cream. perrie watches them with a smile on her face and wonders if she shouldn’t be sadder.
she’s fine, honestly fine. 100% completely and totally fine.
except for the nights she’s not. when the emptiness of the house she used to share is too overwhelming, and there are still holes in the shelves, and still pictures of zayn watching her. sometimes, she feels like screaming on those nights, just to have something to fill the silence.
but those nights come few and far between. it’s only when she’s been numb too long, pushed away the emotions too long, that she can’t handle it.
“we were supposed to get married,” she says to no one in particular. her shadow, maybe. “me and zayn. we were supposed to get married.” her shadow doesn’t answer, and perrie sighs, running her hands through her hair. “there was a ring on my finger, and it meant that we were going to have a wedding, and i was going to be perrie edwards-malik or something, and we were going to get married.”
she really does scream this time, a little bit, out of frustration. when she’s done, she clicks her tongue at herself.
“making a fuss like a child, edwards. not good.”
she leaves her shadow in the hallway, and doesn’t look at the firmly-closed bedroom door when she crosses it.
slowly, surely, she manages to convince everyone she’s okay. the girls stop watching her anxiously when they think she’s not looking, and the tabloids stop mentioning her name whenever zayn does something. she throws herself into album promo, and her voice doesn’t crack when she sings.
it’s a fucking miracle.
she’s got a facade, a fucking facade, and behind it there’s nothing. but it’s nice to live there for now, lets her get through the day.
she slips up once, but that can’t be helped. it’s a few days after the anniversary of his proposal, and she’s worn out from the little mix celebration, and her voice slips on but love isn’t fair. it comes out of nowhere, but she can’t continue.
leigh anne notices first and jade a second after, both of them closing in to shield her from the crowd gathered for their fourth year performance.
she’s so lucky to have these girls, so so lucky, she thinks as jesy gives some sort of explanation. it must be a good one, because the fans shout sympathetically, and perrie can pull herself together.
when they’re offstage, leigh anne grabs her arm and threads their fingers together.
“perrie,” she says quietly, a calm spot in the midst of all the bustle. “perrie, darling, are you okay?”
“peachy,” perrie answers as brightly as she can manage.
“you cried on stage.”
“thanks for reminding me.” at leigh anne’s look, perrie rolls her eyes. “s’like jesy said, innit? i didn’t get much sleep and it’s just easy to get a little emotional.”
leigh anne scans her face for a moment, doubtlessly looking for lies, but perrie’s solid. she’s perfectly alright after all, except that one little hiccup. she gets pulled into another hug.
“i want you to be happy,” leigh anne whispers into her ear and perrie pats her back.
“i am, i promise. i have you, don’t i?”
“you’re right,” says leigh anne, tapping her on the nose. “don’t forget it, either.”
“love you babes,” she says and perrie gives her a kiss on the cheek.
“love you too. now let’s go celebrate being friends for four years, yeah? i’m going to get smashed.”
she’d read once that sometimes missing someone’s absence is like a presence, and it feels like that with zayn. it won’t fucking let her be. she can’t be alone like this, needs someone to drive away the emptiness and fill up the holes. someone who understands, who knows what it’s like not only to lose a love, but zayn too.
it can’t be the girls, they don’t understand. she’s seen the way their faces screw up when she mentions her ex-fiance, and while that’s good on most days it’s not what she needs. she doesn’t want to rage, she wants to have a good cry with someone who won’t be judgemental.
and besides. the girls think she’s happy. and she is, she is, but she also feels like scratching off her skin because it’s too bloody quiet and they were going to get married.
she finds her phone and dials the first person she can think of, doesn’t even think through the logic of it. just dials and presses the phone to her ear, desperate and hoping.
“we were engaged,” she says quietly and the person on the other side of the line makes a confused noise.
"me and zayn. we were supposed to be getting married, and he just... left. he left."
"do you know how that feels?"
louis pauses for a moment, just breathes through the line. it’s so long, perrie thinks she’s fucked up and he’s mad at her. but there’s nothing she can do now.
“yeah. i do,” he says, and it’s all in a rush. she feels something break in her at the sound because she recognizes that tone.
“i’m sorry. i didn’t think-- i shouldn’t have called. i just--” her voice tapers out, her words lost in the swirling of her thoughts. she’d needed someone who’d lost zayn and lost a relationship, and isn’t that what happened to louis? just a little different, but close enough for the emotions to be tied together. close enough for him to understand.
she doesn’t realise she’s crying until his voice filters down the line, worried and anxious and like he’d been trying to get her attention for a while.
"love, love. are you alright? perrie?"
“i’m so fucking tired of that question,” she blurts out. half-laughing and half-crying, she rubs a hand down her face and abruptly wishes she was asleep. “but yeah. m’okay.”
“are you by yourself?”
what a strange question; she’s too tired to understand it. “yeah.” her voice cracks.
“hold on, i’m coming.”
“no--” she chokes out, but there’s a fresh wave of tears and it doesn’t sound very convincing. dammit.
“i am,” louis insists. she can hear him rummaging and clicking through the line. “so don’t make a fuss.”
“i’ll bloody make a fuss if i want to. you shouldn’t come out here just because i’m in a strop and whiny.”
"don't be silly, i am. you can't be by yourself like this. trust me, alright? when el and i broke up--” his voice catches, just a bit, and something twists in perrie’s stomach. “the boys let me be, like i asked, and it was awful. i’m coming.”
“do you need anything, babe?” he says sternly. she shakes her head before realising he can’t see her.
“no, i’m fine.”
“see you, then.” he hangs up with a click, and she shoves her face into a pillow for a moment. she’s still crying and snotty, still can’t really believe she’d rang bloody louis tomlinson of all people. that he was coming because she’d gotten a little sniffly over the phone.
it’s nice there, in the dark, so she just stays there until someone knocks at her door. louis slips in just as she’s sitting up, and glances her over.
"i'm a mess," she tells him, trying to laugh. he toes off his shoes and crosses the room to sit next to her, close enough to be comforting but not enough to be threatening. reaching out to pull a strand of hair away from her cheek, he smiles gently.
"it's okay. have a good cry, that's it. it'll make you feel better."
“i really won’t,” she tells him, but she curls up into his side anyway. he drapes his arm around her and strokes her back as she cries. it’d be embarrassing, maybe, but it’s somehow not because it’s louis.
he’s got little sisters, she remembers idly, a lot of them, and baby siblings. he’s used to crying. used to girls getting snot all over his shirt and shaking with sobs.
louis’ shirt is soft and his hands are gentle on her back. he draws soothing circles on her skin in ever-widening rings. he hums off and on under his breath, the vibrations feeling nice against her face. she tries to pick out the tune, but it’s too faint for her to recognize.
it’s as cathartic as it is miserable, and she feels quite like her heart’s being broken. she didn’t realise that was a literal thing, but her heart’s gone and split in two.
the sun rises, the light coming in through the windows and washing out the colours in that early-morning sort of way. she hadn’t cried in an hour, maybe, numbed again and out of tears.
louis is still awake, she thinks, so she turns to face him. she’s only blushing a little, but he’s smiling at her softly. it’s encouraging.
“thank you,” she says, voice cracked and dried. his smile grows bigger and he thumbs at her cheekbone, rubbing away a tear track.
snorting, she rolls her eyes. “i’ve just cried on you for fuck knows how long.”
“i offered, didn’t i?”
they’re speaking quietly, faces together, and it’s the first time in a long time perrie has been okay with stillness. she’s close enough to see the green brushed through his eyes, the lines around them, and the kindness sparking in them.
kind. he’d been so very kind.
she kind of wants to kiss him.
his expression changes abruptly when she leans in, tension bleeding through until his face is scrunched with it.
“perrie--” he starts and she shakes her head. they’re close enough that their noses brush when she does.
“please. i need--” her voice cuts off, too loaded with some emotion she can’t name. he searches her eyes and she resists the urge to turn away, to hide. there’s a second where everything hangs in the air, tense like the universe is holding its breath.
and then he nods, ever so slightly, and his lips are pressing to hers, soft and comforting and everything she’d needed.
“oh,” perrie thinks, dazed. “oh, this is right.”
it’s like everything’s slotting into place, all the little things she’d brushed off when it had been louisandeleanor and perrieandzayn, the little nudges they’d gotten. she’d thought that was forever, it seemed like forever, but this seems like it was meant to happen.
he breaks away and leans their foreheads together, breathing a little heavily. his thumb brushes against her jawbone and she can feel her face breaking out into a smile.
“i can’t believe it took a crying spell to make you do that,” she whispers. he lets out stifled laugh, shifting to drop a kiss on her nose.
“i didn’t know,” he says instead.
“i didn’t either.”
“we should, like, talk about it.”
“okay,” she whispers and can feel his smile. “but can we kiss a little more first?”
when she wakes up, she’s lying on top of louis, his arm wrapped around her waist. it feels nice. she doesn’t remember the last time she woke up to someone else breathing.
pressing her ear to his chest, she listens to his heart beating steady.
it doesn’t last very long; he starts shifting about ten minutes later, making like he wants to move onto his side. he catches himself and his hand tightens on her skin.
“good morning,” she whispers as he blinks awake and she gets a grunt in response. not a morning person, then. not that she expected him to be. he covers his face with his other arm, shielding his from the light. if she stretches, she can reach his jaw and press a kiss there. she does.
she can see his lips curving up and takes it as a good sign, pressing another one to the hinge of his jaw, and then his neck.
“tease,” he mumbles, but it’s fond and something shivers down to her toes. he rolls over and takes her with him, ignoring her shrieks that she’s going to fall on the bloody floor!
she doesn’t, just ends up with her back against the sofa and facing louis. he’s grinning, the twat, and looking far too pleased with himself. she tries pushing him off the edge and he just laughs, catching her hands in his own.
“not fair,” she whines and he leans forward to kiss away her pout.
“you’re feeling better, then?” he asks, and she nods.
“no help to you, of course.” louis rolls his eyes and ignores perrie’s giggles, playing with her fingers instead. “really, though. thank you.”
“like i said last night, no problem love. i didn’t mind at all.”
he leaves in the afternoon with a promise to call her and his lips pressed to her cheek. when the door closes, she stares at it for a moment and then sighs. she’s happy, so so happy, like she hasn’t been in a long time.
there’s something like hope in her chest.
the days tick by, one after the other. she’s busy, incredibly so, and usually she’d barely register them passing, but it’s different. different because her phone stays silent and she feels like she’s been left again.
it’s nonsense because it’s not like louis is obligated to do anything. he’s not… he just sat up with her for a night. any friend would do that. he doesn’t have to ring her just because they snogged for a while. he doesn’t.
but it had felt so nice, so lovely to be liked. even only in the dawn, when everyone’s asleep and nothing feels real.
“you’re not being rational, perrie,” she tells herself when she catches herself thinking that everyone leaves her. “just because two stupid boys left doesn’t mean everyone is going to as well. besides, two boys from the same band? that’s fucking ridiculous.”
fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.
she does feel rather foolish. not in the usual way, in the shame staining her neck-kind of way. maybe she’ll just hide inside for a while.
jade throws a wrench in those plans, though, coming ‘round at ten, excitedly talking about this new club that they need to go to, and perrie caves. it’s hard to say no to jade at the best of times, and impossible when she’s all dressed up and sparkling.
perrie accepts the top jade throws her way, pulling it on and fixing her hair. jade’s brought little bottles of booze that they sip at while perrie does her makeup. she’s giggly and light when she slips her feet into heels and follows her friend out the door to the waiting car.
the club is loud and overwhelming, big enough to swallow her up and make her forget she’s alone. she takes the anonymity, loses herself to the thuds of music and the sharpness of alcohol. she’s numb, a little booze isn’t going to make her any more numb.
she throws her hands up in the air and screams with everyone else when the stupid dj plays some remix of a fucking one direction song---because of fucking course--and then she goes and vomits what’s left in her stomach.
“you alright, babes?” jade asks anxiously when perrie’s wiping her mouth. she wants people to stop asking her that.
“yeah, just felt a little sick.”
“too much to drink?” jade’s tone is sympathetic and caring, and perrie nods.
“yeah. it’s been a while.”
jade coos and brings her a paper towel, stroking her hair when she heaves again. nothing comes out this time and she makes it to her feet.
she's still a bit faint from being sick, and her head’s swimmy from the alcohol, but she waves off jade’s concerns and goes back into the main area of the club.
the overwhelming feeling isn't nice anymore. she holds jade’s arm tight so she doesn't get lost among all the bodies. sipping on water so she has something to do, she waits until it's late enough to leave.
there are paps with flashing cameras outside, and she desperately hopes she hasn't got sick all down her front. they probably wouldn't let her out if she did, so she must be okay. she still watches the ground instead of into the cameras, and leans into her bodyguard’s guiding hand at her back.
“c’n i stay at yours?” jade slurs and perrie nods tiredly. she fiddles with her phone for lack of something to do.
maybe it’s telling that it’s louis’ number her fingers hover over, not zayn’s. maybe she doesn’t care.
jade notices and snatches it from her hands, singing don’t call him back cause he don’t deserve it and perrie joins in for the hell of it, yelling their song loud enough to make the driver wince.
halfway through her show, she decides she can’t deal with the pictures staring at her any more. they’re all of her and zayn, and having them out seems like cruel and unusual punishment. absence like a presence, and all that.
she pulls every one down, sorting the frames by “this one can stay like it is” and “this one has to go.” the ones with family can stay. the ones with zayn can go. the one with her and all of one direction can definitely go.
there’s a knock on the door when she’s knee-deep in her project, photos spread across the floor and her lap.
“come in,” she calls instead of getting up. it’ll be a friend at this hour, anyway, and she’s left the door unlocked.
it’s not a friend. it’s louis.
he stands by the wall of her living room, looking sheepish and a little guilty. she stares up at him with wide eyes, hands frozen on the back of a frame.
“fuck,” she whispers, catching herself and pressing her lips together. his mouth twitches up into a smile. clearing her throat, she tries again. “what are you doing here?”
“came to see you, didn’t i?”
“you said you were going to call.”
he flinches at that, stuffing his hands into the pockets of his hoodie. “i did say that.”
“why didn’t you, then?” it slips from her before she can stop it. she just barely refrains from adding, “not that i care” on the end.
he runs a hand through his fringe, fixing it back in place and still looking nervous. he looks so achingly pretty and she twists her hands together to stop herself for reaching towards him.
“i had to think about it.”
fuck, that hurts. he notices her shoulders tensing and his eyes go wide, taking a step forward.
“no, i didn’t mean it like that.”
“s’fine if you did.”
“i didn’t, i just--” he makes a frustrated noise. “i needed to think it through. you were engaged to one of my best mates and i needed to, like, think it over.”
“think what over? we were just snogging.” she's fairly sure her chin’s trembling, but she holds it up regardless.
“whether this will work out or not.” he crosses the floor and sits across from her, gingerly among the frames. “perrie, i’m not very good at not being serious. if-- if this is going to be a… thing, it's going to be serious. for me.”
“okay,” she says cautiously.
“you just got out of an engagement.
“yes, i know.”
“so did i.”
“you and el were engaged?”
he grimaces a little and she wishes she didn't ask.
“i um. i proposed. and she said no.”
“louis…” she shoves the pile of pictures off her lap and crawls closer, pulling him into a hug. it only lasts a moment and her face goes red when she realises what she did.
“s’alright. it’s been a while.” he smiles at her, shyly. she’s never known louis tomlinson to be shy. she kind of likes it.
“you can be my rebound, and i can be yours,” she says slowly, hesitantly. “and it’ll be serious, but without obligations. yeah?”
“yeah. does that mean i can kiss you now?”
she laughs, a little breathlessly, even as she shifts closer. “louis tomlinson, is that all you want from me?” she’s still chuckling as he slides a hand into her hair and kisses her, her heart racing when they’ve barely begun.
they kiss and kiss until a cracking sound interrupts them.
“what was that?”
perrie takes a second to breathe properly before leaning back to glance around her.
“you smashed a photo frame,” she says, scooting the broken glass from under his leg.
“oops,” he says with hardly any guilt in his voice. “why’ve you got them all off the walls, anyway?”
she goes quiet for a minute and stares down at the photograph in her hand. she’s tucked into zayn’s side, laughing, and he’s smiling at the camera. it makes her stomach flip a little.
“don’t like ghosts,” she says finally, after a beat too long of silence. “don’t want them in my house.”
he watches her for a moment, and then his eyes flicker down to photo in her lap and recognition crosses over his face.
“i see. need any help?”
she hesitates before she nods, and explains the system to him. he picks through the pictures with his face only twisted a little, stacks them carefully beside him as she prints out replacements.
“hold on a mo’, why’s this one in the throwaway pile?” he holds up the one where she’s with the other boys. “zayn’s not even in it.” he’s not, he’d taken the picture instead. it’s just perrie and liam and harry and niall. and louis, with his arm slung casually around her shoulders.
“didn’t want any reminders,” she says at lightly as possible, praying that he doesn’t realise.
he does, of course, because it’s louis, and he frowns.
“i really didn’t meant to make you upset,” he tells her a little helplessly. “i just-- i needed to sort out my head. but like, i should’ve explained, and not just let you think i had just fucked off.”
“it wouldn’t have been the first time. i was starting to think they’d put something in the band’s water.”
he doesn’t answer, and she glances up from her pictures to see him glaring, jaw clenched and brows furrowed.
“oh no, love, i didn’t mean it like that.” she’s not quite sure even what she meant, just knows that she doesn’t like it when he’s upset. “it was a joke, s’all.”
“i hate that he left you,” he says quietly and she leans over to cover his mouth with her hand.
“louis. i know we’ve got to chat about this, but i’d rather not talk about my ex-fiance when you’re two minutes into being my boyfriend.” he licks her hand and she drops it with a shriek. “you’re a child.”
he shrugs, grinning smugly at her. “might be. but who said anything about me being your boyfriend. maybe i just want to be mates.”
“right, mr i’m not good at not being serious. we can just be fuckbuddies.”
his grin gets wider as she rolls her eyes, and she’s known him long enough to recognize the mischievous look on his face. “didn’t say anything about fucking, either.”
“good, cause i don’t put out on the first date.”
“so this is a date?”
“louis tomlinson, you’re a menace,” she scolds, but she’s smiling too big for it to be biting. he catches her ankle as she stands and tickles her foot, only letting go when she kicks out at him. “bloody awful.”
“and yet you were kissing me anyway.”
“obviously a mistake,” she says with a sniff and she can hear his laughter ringing, even in the kitchen.
she’s always liked a guy that can make her laugh, and louis does. he makes her laugh so much, she’s in stitches nearly every night, and it’s incredible. she’d been so hurt, so alone, and it feels like louis is creeping in and smoothing over the jagged edges zayn left.
he’s gentle with her, careful and sweet, and she knows it’s because he understands what she’s feeling. understands because he’s still tender too and she has to be careful with him.
they talk sometimes, when the world feels like it’s just them two, when their healing catches on an edge and their hearts stutter a little. swap stories in the afternoons, her about zayn and him about eleanor. and then they switch. louis tells her about zayn, and perrie, him about eleanor. they’d all been friends, after all.
the stacks of perrie’s picture project are still scattered around, and louis shakes his head one day.
“we don’t have a picture, just us two,” he says lightly and she arches an eyebrow.
“yeah? what are we supposed to do about it?” he grins down at her and collapses on her belly as she’s lying on the sofa. “oof! you’re heavy.”
“aw, babe. don’t insult me like that. c’mon, let’s take a picture to hang on your wall.” she’s laughing again as he thumbs open the camera and points it towards them, eyes scrunched up in the selfie.
she loves it, loves it even though it’s blurry and they’re not looking at the camera.
“that’ll do,” is what she says and wrinkles her nose when louis kisses the tip.
“imagine if we’d put that on twitter. it’s be a shitstorm.”
“reckon we could break the internet?” she asks and watches his face as he thinks.
they’d kept this a secret, partially because it’s scandalous and partially because it’s nice to have something that’s just theirs. no obligations, like they’d said at the beginning. just fun and laughter and lighthearted good.
“could do,” he answers lightly, and they leave it at that.
“it’s three in the morning, love. don’t wake anyone up to get you,” she says with a sigh and he cocks an eyebrow.
“i can if i want to.”
“it’s not nice,” she whines, twisting her fingers in his shirt and hoping it’ll keep him with her. “and besides, don’t you want to stay with me?”
“what i want is to sleep,’ he whines back. “i’m tired, pez.”
“you could just stay the night.” he freezes at her breath, locking eyes. “wouldn’t even make you sleep on the sofa.”
he chews on his lip, obviously torn, and she can’t have him ruining his mouth. she stretches up to kiss him, tugging his lip away from his teeth with her own. she can hear his breath catch and it makes her smile into the kiss, smug as her fingers trace down the knobs of his spine. when she reaches the bottom of his shirt, she slips her hand underneath it going back up, smoothing along his ribs and scratching lightly at his back.
she moves away to mouth at his jaw, listens to his slightly ragged breathing when she nips at the hinge.
“you’re going to be the death of me, perrie,” he mutters, sigh turning into a groan when she bites harder. closer, closer, she needs to be closer. she clambers into his lap as gracefully as she can--which is not very, not right now-- and sighs when his hands catch her hips.
“this is good, right?” she says and he looks at her like she’s mad.
“it’d be better if you took my top off, though.” she doesn’t bother hiding the grin she gets when his eyes grow huge, looking at her face and then her chest. “get on with it, then.”
“bossy,” he mutters, but peels the shirt over her head and drops it onto the floor.
“better. your turn.”
his shirt’s off too, so she doesn’t think he minds very much. she runs her fingers across the dark lines of his tattoos and watches when he shivers.
his fingers tighten on her waist when she goes back to tracing the 78 mark on his chest, brushing against his nipple.
“perrie,” he says urgently and she glances up at him, only just catching his expression before he’s kissing her, desperate and a little sloppy.
it’s lovely and wonderful and she’s warm all over despite being half-naked, the heat radiating from the places they’re pressed together and his lovely wonderful hot hands.
“bed,” she chokes out somehow, despite not being able to breathe for a while, and scrabbles at his shoulders. “i have a bed.”
he pauses while the words sink in, and then she’s sliding off his lap and beckoning for him to follow. they tumble onto the bed, still unmade from this morning, and he leans down to kiss her again, fists twisted in her hair.
“oh god,” he says suddenly, jerking back with fear in his eyes. “perrie, is this your bedroom?”
she frowns up at him, still a little dazed. “obviously.”
he shudders, this time not because of her, and looks conflicted.
“no, i mean--” he cuts himself off, a blush spreading down from his cheeks to his chest, and he ducks his head so she can’t see. and then, she realises.
“oh, you mean-- no, this is a guest room. was a guest room. i couldn’t sleep in there after... he’s not. been in here. ever, i don’t think. no.”
“god,” he says, collapsing so he’s stretched out on her and hiding his face in her neck. “can’t believe the fucker’s cockblocking me again.”
she’s laughing and he is too, she can feel him vibrating against her. and it’s good that they can laugh about this, about the ghosts of their past relationships.
“i love you,” she breathes out without meaning to, and they both still. everything grinds to a stop, the universe holding it’s breath in anticipation, and dread starts to sink into her skin.
she’s just about to take it back, mumble some excuse, when he kisses her harder than ever before. he’s pressing her into the bed, his body a heavy weight above her, and she could cry from joy.
she wakes up to an empty bed. panic grows in her chest for a split second before she hears muffled swearing and smells something burning. her limbs feel loose and achy when she gets up and slips on louis’ jumper. the kitchen is filled with smoke, and louis is standing with the back to the door.
“love?” she says around a yawn. he whirls around, a myriad of emotions playing out when he sees her. it settles on guilt.
“shit, you weren’t supposed to be awake.”
“what are you doing?”
“i’m, er...” he glances at the stove out of the corner of his eye and gives a shrug. “i was trying to make you breakfast. i’m not a very good cook.”
“i can see that,” she says, smiling, and he shrugs again.
“usually i just go for some cereal or summat. i don’t try to attempt making anything.” he laughs a little self consciously. she tugs the hem of his jumper down and steps into the kitchen, pulling out the cereal boxes and stretching up to get the bowls.
louis is blushing when she turns around with them in hand.
“were you staring?” she asks, and he turns a little redder.
“you’re wearing my shirt,” he replies. “can’t help it if you look nice.”
“can’t help it if it rides up when i stretch, either,” she mutters, tossing him a smile.
“love, can you grab the mugs for me?” he says loftily, and she’s already reaching up before she gets it.
“oi, you cheeky--” she shrieks, throwing a towel at him. he laughs as he catches it, and then rounds the counter to catch her by the waist too. “that was naughty.”
louis hums, pecking her forehead and settling his arms around her. it’s warm, and nice, and perrie sighs with the happiness of it all.
“i was trying to make you breakfast,” he says quietly, a soft smile playing on his lips, “and it was going to be this very lovely thing, and you were going to wake up to it and i was going to tell you that i love you.”
she opens her mouth to say something--she’s not quite sure what but something was supposed to be said--and he shakes his head.
“but i’ve mucked that up, so i guess i’ll just have to do it like this. i love you a fucking lot. it’s embarrassing, really, how much i love you.”
“love you too.”
he crooks an eyebrow at her. “i know. you said it last night.”
“don’t remind me,” she groans, burying her face in his chest and listening to him laugh. he rubs at her shoulders, pressing the tension out, and she sags against him more. “can we just stay here forever?”
“i think i’d get tired, babe.”
“i like it here, though.”
“yeah, okay then. we can stay.”
the girls know something’s up, eye her warily at soundcheck the next day. she can’t help it though, she’s extra bubbly because she’s in love and it feels really fucking good.
“what’s got you all smiley?” jesy asks in a singsong, smacking her bum for emphasis. perrie presses her lips together and tries to frown.
“you are!” says jesy, poking her cheek. “don’t deny it, we can tell.” she shakes her head wildly, and desperately wants to tell them. wants to hear them coo over them and ask their silly prying questions. she’s in love, dammit, and she doesn’t want to keep it a secret.
can i tell the girls? -pez
“did you get laid last night?” leigh anne cries and perrie knows she’s been caught out. they all crowd around her, chattering over each other. “you did! who was it?”
“you didn’t go out last night, did you?” says jade.
“or did you go without us?”
“hold on, girls,” perrie says with a laugh just as her phone dings.
yes ! :)
i’ll tell the boys too !!
and god, she’s filled with a rush of affection for this boy who understands her in so many ways, knows what it’s like to have a band that’s as close as family, and how hard it is not to tell them.
and again, because she can. love you love you love youuuu
he sends her back a mix of emojis, hearts scattered throughout and it’s the cutest thing she’s seen in a while.
“stop texting whoever fucked you last night and bloody tell us who it is!” jesy says impatiently, batting at a near-crying jade. “oh stop that giggling, it’s the only way to get her to listen.”
“i’ve, um, sort of been dating louis tomlinson?”
there’s a moment of silence when all three of them just stare at her with wide eyes, mouths hanging open in shock.
“louis tomlinson?!” jesy shouts, so loud it startles a technician at the other end of the stage.
“you’re dating bloody louis tomlinson?” leigh anne echoes, hands pressed to her mouth. she’s smiling, at least, so that’s good.
“yeah. have been for a while, actually.”
“you legend,” jade shrieks in delight and she grins at perrie. “dating your ex’s best friend? that’s wicked.”
“i know, i know. we’ve talked about it, though, and it’s like. fine. whatever.”
“have you talked to zayn?”
perrie winces, looking away from jesy and at the floor instead. “um, no. you’re the first people we’ve told, actually.”
“no, i know. trust me, i do. but zayn’s got someone else and so why can’t i? i love louis, anyways, so what does it matter?”
“yeah, but zayn’s not dating-- hold on, did you just say you loved him?” leigh anne asks and perrie chews on her lip, nodding.
“perrie edwards, i can’t believe you,” says jade, wrapping herself around perrie’s body and hugging her tight. “you’re incredible. you kept this from us?”
“it was so sudden, i didn’t mean to.”
jesy evaluates her again, a knowing look in her eye that perrie tries not to squirm away from. “but you’re sure, yeah? it’s not a rebound, or whatever.”
“it might’ve started like that, maybe, but it’s not,” perrie says quietly, playing with her shirt sleeve. “i really really love him.”
the girls coo, like she knew they would, and don’t leave her alone for the whole night. they’re all grinning from ear to ear and they fucking smash it on stage.
he shifts to look at her, eyes soft. “yeah, love?”
there’s so much going through her head, she can hardly sort it out. he’s patient, though, waits for her to speak instead of pushing. she appreciates it a lot.
“remember when we first, like, starting dating? we said i would be your rebound, and you would be mine, and i just. i want to know if that’s...still...true?”
“oh, pez. you’re worried about that?”
“a little bit, yeah,” she whispers, carding a hand through his hair. his eyes flutter shut at the feeling and then open, staring at her with a look that makes her a little dizzy. he grabs her hand and presses a kiss to the back of it.
“you’re not. don’t think you were ever, honestly. i was so fucking gone for you, even at the beginning.”
“me too, love. me too.”
zayn finds out, somehow or another. not that they were keeping it from him, but it was just easier not to mention it. but someone told him, one of the boys probably. she’s got money on liam, because the boy can’t lie for shit.
“i can’t believe you’re dating louis, of all people,” he says down the line and she shrugs, tucking her toes under louis’ thigh.
“i am, though.”
he makes a frustrated noise, harsh in the static. “like, anyone else but him would’ve been fine.”
“oi,” she says sharply and louis holds out his hand for the phone. she shakes her head at him and cradles it tighter under her ear. “i don’t appreciate you talking about my boyfriend like that. i know you’ve got some issues with him, but he was like a brother to you and you can be respectful, yeah?” she eyes louis meaningfully and watches his jaw tense.
“he’s there with you, isn’t he?”
“mhmm. and just as stubborn as you are, too.”
“i know,” zayn says begrudgingly, “seeing as he still won’t call me.”
“i’m not getting in the middle of you two,” she says lightly. “that’s an argument that doesn’t concern me. i’m just being kind and telling you that we’re dating, before you hear about it from the papers or summat.”
there’s a pause. “thank you. and best of luck to you both.”
“i appreciate it. tell your mum hi whenever you see her next, yeah?”
“i will,” he says and hangs up without a goodbye, like usual. she’s gotten used to it.
tossing the phone on the bit of sofa between them, she wriggles her feet under louis’ leg. “that was exhausting.”
“did it go well?”
“it did. you could call him back, you know.”
he wrinkles his nose a little and runs his hand over her calf.
there aren’t holes in her house anymore. aren’t places where she can feel zayn’s absence, aren’t jagged edges to her heart anymore. they’ve been filled up and smoothed over by louis, and she’s so so happy.
months later, there’s a ring and louis is kneeling and she’s crying, and everything is perfect. she says yes and nothing else, because she can’t get anything out through her tears. he stands and sweeps her into a tight, tight hug and he’s crying as well.
“yes,” she whispers again. “yes, i’ll marry you.”
“god. i love you, perrie.”
“i love you too,” she manages to choke out and he kisses her cheek once, twice, three times before kissing her deeply on the mouth. she wraps her arms around his neck and loses herself in this moment, maybe for forever.
“they’ll have a field day, the tabloids will,” she remarks when the ring’s on her finger, and the tears are dried, and she can talk normally again. “perrie edwards: engaged to second one direction member.”
louis laughs, doubling over in his chair and that’s her favourite sound in the world. she can’t help but glow a little when she makes him laugh like that.
“that’s fucking fantastic. you should send that to sugarscape with the pictures of the ring.”
“you’re fucking fantastic,” he tells her with a grin. “fucking phenomenal.”
“and you get to marry me.”
his face goes gentle at that, and he kisses whatever body part he can reach. it’s her arm, fortunately.
“how lucky of me.”
they get married in the spring, a little ceremony with their closest friends and family. there are five groomsmen: stan and harry and liam and niall and zayn. perrie’s got her girls in her party, and all the sisters. and eleanor.
“you don’t have to,” louis had told her when she mentioned it. “that’s not-- you’re not obligated.”
“i know, but she’s my friend too.”
“if it’s weird, you don’t have to.”
“i want eleanor as a bridesmaid, if she’s alright with it,” she repeated, looking at him straight in the eye. “she’s important to both of us, just like zayn is, alright?”
he’d nodded, but there’d still been worry creased on his forehead. she tried smoothing it out with a finger and he’d let her.
she doesn’t regret the choices she made. doesn’t regret being engaged to zayn, or loving him for so long, and she doesn’t regret that louis had eleanor either. how could she, when they were the steps that led them together?
zayn had been her first love, maybe, but he’d also broken her heart. louis had been the first one to put it back together.
and when he smiles at her from across the room, loving and gentle and mischievous in his own louis way, she knows there’s no one she’d rather be with. no one at all.