Actions

Work Header

Collecting Page-Six Lovers

Work Text:

Liam should have expected to be woken up by being jumped on, but he still cries out anyway, batting at the attacker before he realizes that he has a lapful of his daughter. He wraps his arms around her, trying to calm her down, and tries to blink the sleepiness out of his eyes.

“Daddy!” Ginny shouts, her face entirely too close to his, “Daddy, it’s Harry Styles day!”

“That it is,” Liam says, laughing as she breaks in a massive grin. Maybe her winning this stupid radio contest wasn’t such a bad thing.

There’s a bang on the wall next to him, which is quickly followed by a desperately hollered, “It’s six o’clock in the bloody morning!”

“Not my fault you stayed out til four, Zayn,” Liam calls out, banging on the wall between their rooms out of spite. He can hear muffled voices, Niall no doubt telling Zayn to shut up and go back to sleep, so he just smiles back at Ginny and sits up.

“Shall we go have a bit of breakfast then? We have hours before we have to head to the radio station,” Liam informs her. With a nod, she bounces off the bed and heads down the hallway. Liam sighs and stands up, stretching as he tries to wake up.

He has no idea how his life turned into this; into sharing a house with his best friend, his best friend’s boyfriend, and his six year old daughter. Mistakes at Uni were mostly to blame, but everything worked out in the end. Thankfully some great-great-great-uncle of Niall’s shagged a queen somewhere along the way, which meant he bought them all an awesome house right out of school. Working as an accountant isn’t the greatest career, but numbers makes sense to him and it leaves him loads of free time to be with Ginny. Julia has no idea what she’s given up, really.

As if on cue, Ginny calls out to him again, just in time for a huge crash to come from downstairs. Liam sighs and throws on whatever clothes he can find, racing down the stairs and into the kitchen.

Ginny stares up at him, her brown eyes full of unshed tears, and he’s on his knees in front of her before she can start sobbing. There’s a broken jar of strawberry jam in front of the refrigerator, and it looks like it’s going to be so much fun to clean up.

“Everything’s fine. Just a little mess,” Liam says quickly, pulling her into a hug. He’s gotten soft, but he can’t handle his little girl crying.

“I just wanted toast,” Ginny says, her voice cracking. Liam presses a kiss to the side of her head and pulls back to grin at her.

“How about toast and dippy eggs?” he asks, reaching out to wipe a tear off her cheek. Ginny nods, sniffling once more before grabbing the kitchen roll to help clean up the spilled jam.

 

--

 

Five hours later, they’re being lead through the BBC Broadcast House radio station, and Ginny is gaping at absolutely everything. Liam has to admit he’s a bit out of his element, too. Part of him wants to just dart out and touch something shiny but sadly he has to be the adult in this situation. A chatty intern is leading them through the winding hallways, and Liam can hear the moment Ginny spots Harry before he sees him. She gasps and lets out a ridiculous giggle, and Liam barely stops himself from reaching out to pat her on the head.

And then Harry Styles, Britain's most wanted bachelor and hottest pop star, is standing in front of them, smirking like a lunatic.

Liam was worried that Ginny may faint at the sight of him, but she's actually holding herself together pretty well. There's an extra bounce in her step, and her grin is the widest he's ever seen it, but she's not throwing up, so he'll count it as a win. Harry - bless him - doesn't say anything, just bends down to her level and gives her a high five before saying, "Hello. I'm Harry. It's very nice to meet you."

"I know," Ginny says, just a hint of awe in her voice. "My name's Ginny and this is my daddy. My best friend, Jennifer, was going to bring her mom if she won the contest, because her mom's secretly in love with you, too. But Daddy's all I have, so I'm forcing him to come along and have fun."

"Ginny is a very lovely name. And perhaps your dad is secretly in love with me, too?" Harry asks, looking over Ginny's head to stare at Liam. Liam can feel his cheeks heating up, and he hates himself, but Harry's smile kind of does things to him. He's pretty certain that he's going to hell for fancying the same boy as his six year older daughter.

“You do have a lovely voice. I’m Liam, by the way,” Liam says as he holds out his hand. Harry shakes it, and Liam tries not to feel weak in the knees when all the attention is focused on him. Ok, maybe he lied. There’s a very strong possibility that he doesn’t mind all of the stupid posters Ginny makes him tape up in her room because he likes looking at them, too.

“Harry,” he says, still shaking Liam’s hand, because apparently this is going to be the longest and most awkward handshake of Liam’s life. Thankfully the intern saves them both.

“Shall we head into the studio then? We have a few minutes before the on-air interview,” she says pointedly. Liam coughs and drops Harry’s hand, reaching out to take Ginny’s instead.

“Do I get a microphone?” Ginny asks as they scurry through another set of doors. One of the afternoon DJs whose name Liam can never remember is in the booth, gesturing for them all to sit down.

“Of course! It’s your interview,” Harry says as he helps lift her onto a stool. Liam sits next to her, waving off the intern’s attempt to hand him a headset.

“I don’t need to be on air or anything,” he says, completely prepared to sit this one out and let his daughter have the time of her life. The intern shrugs and goes on outfitting the rest of them. Liam slips his mobile out of his pocket and takes a quick shot of Ginny smiling up at Harry.

“Oh, that won’t do at all,” Harry tells him before leaning down and throwing an arm around Ginny. “We weren’t looking!” Ginny giggles, clearly beside herself with delight, and Liam snaps another picture. He has a feeling he’ll be photoshopping a santa hat on her later and using it as their Christmas card. Niall will mock him soundly for it, but it’s just too adorable to pass up.

The DJ gestures for silence and Liam slumps back in his chair, taking it all in.

“Thank you for tuning in this lovely afternoon. We’re here with Ginny, the lucky winner of our lunch with Harry Styles contest. Would you like to give a shout out to anyone at home, Ginny?” the DJ asks. Harry moves the microphone closer to Ginny, and she beams up at him.

“Um,” Ginny pauses, looking mildly terrified, and Harry rubs her back reassuringly. Liam is pretty sure this entire day was created solely to torment him. “My name is Ginny and I am six and a half years old. I would like to say hello to my grandmother and my best friend Jennifer. And my daddy reminded me the whole way here to say thank you for having me. Can we please listen to a Harry Styles song now?”

“Good job, honey,” Liam tells her, leaning close so the microphone doesn’t pick him up. Ginny turns to hug him before turning back to Harry and the DJ.

“We most certainly can!” Harry says, clapping as he bounces in his chair. “Harry Styles songs are my favorite.”

“Daddy’s, too!” Ginny squeals at him. “We sing and dance while we make dinner.” Harry looks over at Liam, who apparently blushes like a schoolgirl at this point in his life. He shrugs, laughing when Harry winks at him.

“How about ‘Stand Up’?” the DJ asks, already starting the song. Ginny nods in approval and stares up at Harry again.

“I’m having so much fun today that Jennifer may have some competition. All we would need are friendship bracelets,” Harry says solemnly.

“Like this one?” Ginny asks, shoving her wrist in Harry’s face. There’s a thin black and white braided bracelet tied around her wrist with a hot pink heart-shaped bead on it.

“Looks perfect,” Harry says with a sharp nod.

“That’s because daddy made it. He’s the best braider I know!” Ginny says, her voice bright and bubbly. Liam would feel ashamed, but he loves being the best in her eyes. His mother keeps telling him that this will all change once the teens hit, so he’s revelling in everything he can at this point. Seems like a month ago he was holding her in his arms for the first time.

“Maybe we can convince him to make me one, as well?” Harry asks, quirking an eyebrow in Liam’s direction.

“I could be persuaded,” Liam drawls out, grinning when Harry’s face lights up.

But then the DJ is talking again, and Liam does his best to avoid being heard again.

 

--

 

“Seems like today took a lot out of her,” Harry says, waving to where Ginny is sleeping on the couch. There’s half a pizza sitting on the coffee table, and Liam is sure someone is going to come kick them out of the lounge soon. He’s also sure that Ginny had the time of her life today, which is all that matters.

“She’s been preparing for weeks,” Liam says with a snort. “She just keeps going like the Energizer bunny until she hits her limit, though. One time when we got back from the park near our house, she walked in, made it most of the way up the stairs, and passed out with her chest on the landing and her legs on the stairs. When she’s done, she just crashes. Thanks again for letting us do all of this. It means the world to her.”

“Thank you, too. I love meeting fans and rarely get any kind of one on one time with them. She’s a fun girl. But...I’ve been dying to ask all day long,” Harry pauses and bites his lip, looking down at his hands. “Is she named after the Harry Potter character?”

“Yes, actually,” Liam says, laughing before continuing. “My ex was determined to work that in there. I had a choice between Ginny and Hermione. I guess I figured that Ginny would be a soft spoken, shy little thing. She’s quite the opposite, and I feel like Hermione may have been a better choice.”

“Nah, it’s fitting. I can tell she absolutely adores you,” Harry says, leaning forward slightly. His gaze is piercing, and Liam can almost feel the weight of it on him. if it were anyone else, he’d take it as a line, but this is Harry fucking Styles, and it’s just Liam being optimistic.

“I do my best, you know?” Liam asks with a shrug. “I’d never tell her this, but Ginny is the best accident that’s ever happened to me. When her mother decided that being a parent wasn’t something she was cut out to be and signed over custody, I promised myself that I’d do twice as good to make up for it.” Liam trails off, unsure of why he’s hell bent on pouring his heart out to the random pop star. Harry just reaches out and cups his shoulder, the heat radiating through the thin cotton of his t-shirt.

“And here I am longing for a bit of that normality,” Harry says with a smile. He squirms in his seat, plucking at the seams of his trousers. Liam isn’t sure what to say to that, but then Harry looks back up and continues, “So this is a bit odd, and I know we just met and you probably have a million things to do what with being a single dad and all, but do you want to exchange mobile numbers, maybe get together sometime?” He looks worried, as if Liam is going to say no to that.

Apparently Liam is a masochist, because he wants more of this, wants more of being around Harry even if he can’t have him.

“I can’t promise that I’ll have a lot of free time, but that would be nice,” Liam says, fishing his mobile out of his pocket. Harry snags it from his hands, and taps away at the screen.

“Ginny is, of course, more than welcome to tag along. She’s a great kid. Makes me miss my cousins, actually,” Harry tells him. He tosses Liam his mobile back, and Liam sends him a quick text with his number.

There’s a tap at the door and the intern from earlier is back, announcing that it’s time to start wrapping things up. Harry looks like he’s about to apologize, so Liam just shrugs it off and goes to wake up Ginny.

 

--

 

It takes forever and a day to get Ginny settled and into bed that night. Liam is about to break out the copy of Go The Fuck To Sleep that Niall bought him as a joke a few years back, but thankfully the excitement of the day finally wears Ginny down. Liam shuts the door behind him, careful so he doesn’t wake her up, and trots down the steps to join Niall and Zayn in the living room. There’s a film on the tv, but he doesn’t even pay any attention to it, just collapses on the couch and takes his mobile out of his pocket.

“You’ve been staring at that like it holds the secrets to the universe ever since you guys got home today. What gives?” Niall asks, tossing a piece of popcorn in his general direction. Liam bats the kernel away from him and turns to glare at Niall. They have house rules for a reason. It’s not like Niall or Zayn ever pick up the Hoover or anything. At least Liam is teaching his daughter to have some manners.

“I don’t mean to alarm either of you, but I may have a slight situation,” Liam says very slowly. Zayn snorts and Niall giggles - fucking giggles - and then they’re on the couch with him, manhandling him so that they can all fit in the tiny space.

“We love situations,” Zayn informs him, as if Liam didn’t know he was the queen of drama. He’d voice this, but Zayn is pretty much famous for being famous and already realizes how weird his life is.

“Yes, tell us your troubles, dear Liam,” Niall says, laughing, and Liam wonders how many drinks he has in him already. His best friend is kind of an idiot, but he lets Liam and Ginny stay here for free and always shoves Liam through his issues. It’s a good deal.

“I uh...I exchanged numbers with Harry?” Liam says, brandishing his mobile. Niall squeaks and grabs for it, but Liam turns and hides his arms in the back of the couch. “It’s not for public consumption!” he shouts and Niall and Zayn poke at him. Sometimes they all forget that they’re adults.

“Liam is in love,” Niall shouts right into his ear. Liam elbows him in the gut, laughing when he falls off the couch and bumps into the coffee table. It’s a momentary victory, because Zayn is all over him, all ninja skills and grace, and he manages to knock the mobile out of Liam’s hands. Niall is on it in an instant, gleefully chuckling as he taps away a message.

Liam really really wishes he could kill them both.

Zayn backs off, retreating to the armchair, and Niall tosses Liam back his mobile. Liam looks at the text message Niall just sent, fearing the worst. He probably told Harry that he has that naked photo of him saved on his laptop, which is completely untrue. Well, he may have looked at it once or twice, but he can’t risk saving anything like that where Ginny may stumble upon it.

Hey! Pretty boring night. Anything fun going on with you?

Ok, well that could be worse. “I’m going to murder both of you in your sleep,” Liam says slowly.

“We sleep naked. Have at it!” Niall tells him with a wink. Zayn just snorts and curls an arm around his boyfriend. Liam would definitely do it, but he can’t risk leaving Ginny alone while he sits in prison. His mother might frown upon that, too. Murder is serious business.

The mobile buzzes in his hand, and Liam nearly drops it like a hot coal. He looks up at Niall who just wiggles his eyebrows at him. Liam opens the message, still kind of in disbelief that this is his real life now.

I spent all afternoon with a cute girl, but she left me ;) I’m pretty bored, actually. May crash early. Any plans for Friday night? If you can get a babysitter, we should go out.

“Fuck me,” Liam whispers, forgetting to be polite. He gapes down a his phone, trying to figure out if he’s actually just been asked on a date or not. The last date he went on was with Julia, and that turned into a huge mess.

“Sorry mate, I have a better offer,” Niall says with a laugh. He pulls Zayn into his lap and kisses him quickly, laughing when they almost fall off the armchair.

“I...can you watch Ginny Friday night?” Liam says, ignoring their antics. he usually does his best not to think about places they’ve had sex, because he’s pretty sure he’s eaten on some of them.

“If you’re going out with a fucking pop star, then absolutely!” Zayn says as he adjusts himself in Niall’s lap. Niall hugs him around the waist and rests his chin on Zayn’s shoulder. They look so freaking perfect that Liam kind of wants to punch them both in the face.

“I think I might be?” Liam asks as he types a reply. Niall and Zayn cheer wildly, and Liam tries to ask Harry where and when they should meet up. His life is so fucking ridiculous sometimes.

 

--

 

Friday was mostly a disaster.

Liam couldn’t concentrate at work and barely caught a misplaced decimal that would have ruined the entire project he was working on. To top it off, Ginny was especially clingy when he got home. He loves her to death, but sometimes a man just needs time to breathe. He ended up begging Niall to take her down to the park so he could get dressed for his possible date. He spent the whole time trying not to think about how this would be the first night is probably a year where he wouldn’t the one to tuck her into bed.

He’s in the middle of shaving when his mobile buzzes in his pocket, causing him to slip and knick his chin. Swearing, he wipes at it with a tissue and pulls his mobile out of his pocket.

Change of plans. I’ll pick you up? :)

Liam squints down at his phone, wondering what could have possibly happened, but just shrugs and types out a quick response. He tries not to think about how awkward this could get, how the whole night could end with Liam stuck somewhere if Harry runs off. He tells himself Harry’s clearly not the kind of guy to do that, and blames his nerves on his complete lack of dating for the past few years.

Half an hour later, Liam is pacing in front of the door. Ginny watches him, her tiny hands on her hips and a huge smile on her face. “You’re being silly,” she tells him, laughing when Liam loses his footing and almost falls.

“You love it when I’m silly,” Liam says, tugging at the hem of his plaid button down.

“If you don’t want to go with Harry, I could always go,” she says, looking like she hopes he’ll give in and let her go.

“And ruin our film night?” Niall asks as he bounces into the room and picks of Ginny. She squeals as he throws her over his shoulder, laughing as he spins her around.

“Daddy can go!” Ginny shouts out, still giggling when Zayn rushes over to snatch her from Niall’s arms.

“Let’s go make some snacks, ok?” Zayn asks as he pulls Ginny into the kitchen. She looks at Liam over her shoulder and waves goodbye. Liam sighs and wonders if he should just stay home and spend the night with her and the guys. He’s probably just going to mess this up anyway.

“You’re not going to fuck it up, mate,” Niall says. Liam raises an eyebrow, and Niall just laughs and continues, “Nah. I can’t read your mind, but your face is giving everything away. Just have fun, ok?”

“Sure,” Liam agrees. He takes a deep breath and then jumps when someone knocks on the front door. Niall gives him an excited thumbs up and heads into the kitchen. Liam steadies himself and opens the door to find Harry standing on his front steps. He’s wearing black skinny jeans and a white v-neck. For something so simple, he looks absolutely stunning. Liam grins at him and steps outside.

“I’d invite you in, but they’re starting a film night,” he says softly. He doesn’t add that he isn’t letting Niall and Zayn near Harry until he’s more comfortable around him. No need to play with fire.

“Wouldn’t want to get in the way of that,” Harry says, laughing as he guides Liam down the walk and opens the door of his car for him. “Sorry about the change of plans,” Harry says as he climbs into the driver's seat. “I’ve been doing press all day and the paps are absolutely crazy. We’d have no chance of getting some time to ourselves if we went out for dinner. I hope pasta at mine is fine?”

“Sounds good,” Liam says. He rests his palms on his thighs and tries to remember how to have a decent conversation. They’ve been texting back and forth for awhile now, but Liam is still kind of wondering what the hell Harry sees in him. He picks at a piece of lint on his jeans and clears his throat awkwardly.

Harry looks over at him and smiles widely. “I’m kind of a wreck, too,” he says in a stage whisper. Liam ducks his head and can feel his cheeks heating, but Harry reaches over and pats him on the shoulder. “I’m not actually that terrifying. Plus I ordered takeout pasta, so we’re guaranteed a decent meal.”

“Oh, I could help you with that,” Liam tells him. “I’ll have you know that I’ve mastered the arts of pasta, cheese toasties, and chicken with rice.”

“Ooo. Maybe next time I’ll come over and let you cook for me. My mum always trimmed the crusts for me, would you?” Harry asks with a laugh.

“Absolutely not,” Liam says, scandalized. “That’s where the nutrients are!”

“Lies and fallacies. All parents are alike,” Harry says. Liam just grins at him and they settle in for the ride.

 

--

 

Liam twirls his wine glass by the stem and looks across the table at Harry. He’s telling a story about his last trip to the states and how the bus broke down in the middle of Ohio. He waves his hands around as he talks, his eyes bright and twinkling as he spins the tale. Liam smiles and does his best to listen, but he’s a bit taken back at how wonderful the night has been.

Once they got through the first awkward few minutes, everything had been amazing. Liam could see himself doing this every weekend, just sitting around and chatting with Harry. Dinner was delicious and the wine is perfect. Liam’s beginning to suspect he’s in the middle of some ridiculous romantic comedy because they’re getting along smashingly and he feels like he’s a quick montage away from falling for Harry. Maybe something set to a Robbie Williams song. He runs them through his head, trying to settle on which one would be best.

“And then I realized that you’d completely zoned out and started to worry,” Harry says with a deep chuckle. Liam startles, blinking slowly as he sets his wine glass down and grins sheepishly at Harry.

“I’m sorry. I was just thinking about how lovely this all is,” he admits, waving his hand back and forth between them. Harry’s grin widens and he reaches over to take Liam’s hand in his.

“Completely allowable. Just so long as you don’t find me dreadfully boring and try to run off or something,” he says. There’s something in his voice that makes Liam stop and think about how different this must be for him. Sure, Harry’s famous and used to traveling the world and charming the press, but Liam can’t remember hearing anything positive about his lovelife. Surely Ginny would have talked his ear off if Harry had been dating someone. Perhaps Harry is every bit as out of his element as Liam is. It’s horrible, but Liam finds it comforting. He might not screw this up after all.

“You’d have to chase me off,” Liam tells him. He looks at the clock on the wall and grimaces. “Actually, I should probably take off. It’s been absolutely wonderful, but I know Ginny will be up early tomorrow expecting breakfast and whatnot. Saturdays are pancake days.”

“Well I would hate to get in the way of pancake day,” Harry says. He squeezes Liam’s hand and stands up, taking the dishes into the kitchen before grabbing his car keys. “Do you have any other Saturday traditions, or are you both free tomorrow?”

“Erm, I promised we’d spend the afternoon together because I left her with Niall and Zayn tonight, but we don’t have any standing plans,” Liam says. Harry grins at him, and Liam feels his chest tighten. He is so completely fucked.

“Great! I have a friend of mine coming over to kick around a football. Want to join us? I can throw a picnic together or something,” Harry says as they walk to the front door. Liam is about to open the door when Harry places his hand over his and stops him.

“That sounds good?” Liam asks, trailing off as he questions Harry with his eyes. Harry licks his lips and darts forward, pressing his mouth against Liam’s. It’s short and chaste and over way too fast.

“Sorry,” Harry says, chewing on his lip as he pulls back. “I’ve wanted to do that for ages and I figured we better be safe once we get to your place. The last thing we need is for both of us to be in the papers tomorrow.”

“Apology accepted, but only if we can do that again,” Liam tells him with a smirk.

“I think we’ll manage,” Harry says, laughing as he guides Liam out to his car. Liam isn’t sure if it’s the wine or the company, but he’s practically glowing by the time he gets dropped off at his house. He avoids Niall and Zayn’s questions and heads to bed, content to mentally replay the entire night as he drifts off to sleep.

 

--

 

All hopes of catching up on his sleep are shattered when Ginny wakes him up at seven o’clock by pouncing on him. Liam should be used to the sneak attack, but he still shouts as he comes to. Ginny just giggles and sets in on tickling him, attacking his side with her tiny fingers. Liam isn’t half as ticklish as she thinks, but he plays it up for a few minutes before reaching behind him and grabbing a pillow to fend her off with.

Obviously this was the wrong move, because their scuffle wakes up their neighbors and soon Liam has a bed full of people pillow fighting. He ducks a soft blow from Ginny and takes a smack to the head from Zayn. Ginny is dead set on getting the upper hand over Niall, but he’s too quick on his feet for her. Liam reaches out and messes up Zayn’s quiff, the surest way to end the fight. Zayn practically jumps off the bed and races to the bathroom to fix his hair, much
to Niall’s amusement. He laughs loudly and collapses back against the pillows, allowing Ginny to overtake him in the fight.

“Celebratory pancakes for everyone!” Ginny shouts as she tries to smother Niall with a pillow. Niall just rolls over and falls off the edge of the bed, landing with a soft, “oomph!” This sets Ginny off again, giggling as she climbs out of bed and hurries towards the kitchen. Liam looks over the edge of the bed to check on Niall and takes a pillow to the face for his troubles.

“See if I cook for you,” Liam tells him, laughing as he heads after Ginny.

They have Saturday morning down to a science. Within minutes the mixing bowl is on the counter, full of pancake batter. Ginny peels bananas as Liam gets the griddle ready. He slices the bananas into the batter and lets Ginny stir it all together. The scent of cooking pancakes brings Zayn and Niall into the kitchen, and Liam is pleased to see Zayn has tamed his hair again. God forbid anything happen to it. He actually thought Zayn was going to break up with Niall when they were all at Uni and Niall drunkenly thought it would be a good prank to shave Zayn’s head while he slept. That’s a scenario Liam could go a whole life without reliving.

“Daddy and I are going over to Harry Styles’ house after breakfast!” Ginny tells everyone, grinning maniacally as she helps pour out pancake batter.

“Two dates in a row. This is getting mighty serious,” Zayn says in a sing-song voice. Niall laughs and leans into his shoulder. Zayn wraps an arm around his boyfriend and holds out his plate with the other.

“If you mock the chef, you don’t get any pancakes,” Liam tells them, reaching around to serve Ginny first. “Besides, it’s not a date. We’re going over to play a bit of footie and have some sandwiches or something. He invited Ginny. It’s not a date.”

“He wants to get to know your daughter. That makes it a bit more adorable, but it’s still a date,” Niall counters. He douses his stack of pancakes in syrup and wiggles his eyebrows at Liam. Liam just rolls his eyes and leans over to help Ginny cut her pancakes. She smiles up and him and he can’t help bending down to kiss her on the cheek. Sometimes he’s a bit in awe that she’s his.

“I think it’s a date, Daddy,” Ginny tells him sternly. “Jennifer’s mum and her new daddy used to take her out all the time. They would go to the park and he bought her ice cream. Do you think Harry will buy me ice cream?”

“I’m sure he will if you ask him nicely,” Zayn pipes in, grinning like a maniac. Liam scowls at him, which only makes him grin harder.

“Besides, you’d love it if your dad was dating Harry Styles, wouldn’t you?” Niall asks around a mouthful of food.

“If I can’t date him, then I think my Daddy should. My friends at school would be so jealous!” Ginny squeals out. “And then maybe we could be in a video with him! Or go on tour!”

“You can’t tell your friends at school about it,” Liam says with a sigh. “It’s not something people should talk about yet.”

“Is it like when uncle Zayn’s mom got really sad and we couldn’t talk about Niall in front of her for awhile? Is it like that?” Ginny asks, crinkling her nose.

“Just like that,” Liam tells her with a nod. “Sometimes people aren’t ready to see two boys holding hands and you have to give them time to get used to it.” He knows Ginny is perfectly fine with Niall and Zayn, but he’s never quite approached the subject of him dating men before. He probably should have done that before now.

“Sometimes people are stupid,” Ginny says as she glares down at her juice. She looks up at Liam and says, “You’re the best daddy ever and I think you should date Harry Styles. I like it when you’re happy.” Liam pulls her into a hug, ignoring the way she shrieks and giggles against his chest. He even lets her get away with using the word stupid, mostly because she’s right.

 

--

 

“Harry Styles really lives here?” Ginny asks as Liam pulls into the drive. It wasn’t that far outside of the city, but it was far enough that there was some privacy to be had. Liam buzzes at the gate like Harry had told him too and soon they’re being let in. Ginny stares up at the house with wide eyes and clutches to her chest the football she insisted they bring. “It’s huge,” she says, her voice full of awe.

“It is a rather lot of house for one person,” Liam admits as he parks and comes around to let Ginny out of the car. Harry and another bloke are racing down the front steps, waving as they move.

“Oh good, you came prepared,” the other man says as he bends down to Ginny’s level and pokes at the pink and green football in her hands. He looks a bit like a pixie, all bright smiles and pointed features.

“This is Louis,” Harry says as he reaches out and nudges Louis on the arm. “He’s my bass player.”

“I’m Liam and this is Ginny. Pleasure to meet you,” Liam says as he extends his hand and Louis shakes it. Louis holds out his hand for Ginny to shake, but she’s too busy staring up at him. Liam knows that look. He hopes Harry is alright with being pushed to the side for another boy. Louis pouts and Ginny laughs before shaking his hand enthusiastically.

“Nice to meet you Miss Ginny. Shall we get started?” he asks as snatches the football from her hands and starts kicking it back and forth between his feet. Ginny looks over at Liam who nods, and then races off after Louis.

“I hope he knows what he’s getting into,” Liam says, laughing as Harry quirks an eyebrow at him. “I think you’ve been replaced. I’m going to have to track down a Louis poster for above her bed.”

“Oi! I can’t be replaced that easily!” Harry argues mockingly. “I’ve won Tiger Beat’s best smile award two years running. Louis has nothing on me.”

“Well I like it an awful lot,” Liam admits as he reaches out and brushes his thumb across Harry’s mouth. He darts in and kisses him quickly before he hears Ginny shouting at him from across the lawn.

“No kissing. It’s football time!” Ginny hollars, and Liam blushes. Trust it to him to get chastised by a six year old. Harry laughs loudly and claps his hands together before running towards the ball. Louis knocks him over with his hips and an impromptu game begins. Liam watches for a moment, wondering when this became his life and how he can keep it that way.

 

--

 

“I thought you said you’d put a picnic together, not a feast,” Liam says as they sit down for lunch. Harry shrugs and Louis breaks out laughing.

“He wasn’t sure what to get so he got a little bit of everything,” Louis tells him, still laughing. Harry reaches out and punches him in the arm, but it doesn’t shut him up.

“Well thank you for having us over,” Liam says as he fills a plate of food for Ginny. He coughs and she looks at him, startling before rushing to speak.

“Yes, thank you. And thank you for bringing Louis to meet us. He’s the best at football ever!” she says gleefully. She picks at the fruit salad on her plate and misses Louis puffing out his chest in triumph. Liam wasn’t sure what to think of his loud personality at first, but anyone who can get along with kids so well is alright by him. He’d run circles around the rest of them, too. Liam isn’t the best, but until today he’d fancied himself a pretty decent player.

“You and your dad are always welcome here,” Harry tells her. “In fact, you should come by more often. I get awfully lonely in this big house all by myself.”

“You could end up cranky if you don’t watch out,” Ginny informs him around a mouthful of fruit. “All the films have sad old guys living alone. They like to yell at kids. Don’t let that happen.”

“I’ll try not to,” Harry agrees with a giggle. Liam snorts and reaches out to run his hand through Ginny’s hair. Life is pretty perfect right now.

 

--

 

“Did you know Louis had four sisters?” Ginny asks as she looks up from her homework. Zayn rolls his eyes, but Niall nudges him and then they’re both laughing quietly.

“I think you told us that last night,” Zayn says sweetly. Niall pecks him on the cheek and turns back to the telly. He’s currently in the process of kicking Liam’s ass at FIFA on their xbox. Liam is sure he’d be doing better if he could keep his thoughts from wandering to a certain pop star. It’s been a few weeks since their first date and he’s quickly overtaking all of Liam’s free time. Not that he’s abandoned Ginny, mind you. Harry has been absolutely adorable with her, which is part of the problem. Liam can see the three of them being a proper family, and it’s all a bit terrifying.

“You’ve told us all quite enough about Louis, I think,” Liam says with a sigh. Apparently when the Paynes fall, they fall fast. Ginny seems agreeable to him dating Harry, but only because she’s moved on to crushing in Louis. If Liam has to hear about rugby trousers or blue eyes or Louis’ brilliant accent one more time, he might be sick.

He may have to turn in that “#1 Dad” mug Ginny got him for Christmas.

“I’m going to learn the guitar so I can join a band, too,” Ginny continues, completely ignoring her father. Liam takes a deep breath and reminds himself that he’s an adult and his little girl is the best thing that ever happened to him. Actually, the guitar might be a good distraction from her newfound love.

“I’m sure Niall can help you with that,” Liam tells her. Ginny jumps up from the table where she’s doing her homework and successfully blocks their view of the tv.

“Really? Uncle Niall you can? Can I get my own guitar, Daddy?” Ginny bounces on the soles of her feet, and Liam forgets that he was ever annoyed with her. He’s probably just preparing for when she actually grows up and leaves him for another man someday.

“We can look into it. You do have a birthday coming up,” he tells her.

“You’d have to practice all the time,” Niall says seriously. “It’s fun but it’s a lot of work.”

“I’ll practice every day!” Ginny agrees excitedly. “And then when I’m older I can start my own band and we’ll be just as famous as Harry and Louis are. Jennifer can sing because she’s much better than I am.”

“I don’t know how famous Louis actually is,” Zayn tells her with a laugh. Ginny sticks her tongue out at him, and he responds by pulling a funny face.

“He’s more famous than you,” Ginny says. “He does more than complain about people in videos on the computer. He has his own ad in a bass magazine. Harry showed me.” Niall snorts and has to bury his face against Zayn’s shoulder. Zayn lets out an indignant grunt and looks like he’s about to launch into a rant about how internet celebrities are important people, too.

“Being famous doesn’t make someone a better person than somebody else,” Liam interrupts. “And you’ll never get a guitar if you don’t finish your school work. When you’re done we’ll go over it and then we can read a bit before bed if you’d like.”

“When I’m in a band, I won’t ever do maths again,” Ginny grumbles as she heads back to the table. Liam smiles over at her, remembering exactly how much he hated arithmetic when he was her age. Now he’s working at an accounting firm and loves it. There’s hope for her yet.

 

--

 

Liam wakes up to a shout and is out of bed and racing towards Ginny’s room before he realizes what’s happening. He trips over a stuffed animal on the way and sprawls out on her bed. She’s crying, her tiny face scrunched up as she reaches out for him. Liam gathers her in his arms and hugs her tightly, shushing her quietly.

“What’s wrong darling?” he asks as she cries into his t-shirt.

“I had a bad dream,” Ginny mumbles, her face half hidden in his shirt. She sniffles loudly and Liam tries not to cringe at the amount of snot she’s probably getting all over him. He’s had worse, though. It’s hard to be a parent without getting a bit messy.

“Everything is okay now. I’ve got you,” Liam says soothingly. He runs his hand down her back, holding her until she’s all cried out. She shivers and looks up at him. It breaks his heart to see her this way. If he could, he’d keep her safe all the time, but he can’t protect her in her dreams.

“Remember how mummy left us?” Ginny asks softly, and Liam’s heart clenches. He nods and smooths her fringe out of her eyes. “I had a dream we were all a family again only Harry was there instead of mummy. But then he left and we were sad all over again and I didn’t like it.”

“I wish I could promise that he won’t ever leave us, but I can’t do that,” Liam says sadly. “All I can promise is that you and I will always be together. You’re my baby girl and nothing will ever change that. I love you, sweetie.”

“I love you too, Daddy. Can I sleep with you tonight?” she asks with another sniffle. Liam nods and picks her up, cradling her to his chest as he walks back to his room. She falls asleep almost instantly, but Liam can’t sleep anymore. His mind is racing with how wrong this is. He should have waited to bring someone new into her life. Harry is a famous singer. What does he even want with Liam? He could get bored and leave at any time. Liam resolves to feel things out on their next night alone and makes plans to spend more time alone with Ginny just in case.

 

--

 

“I’ll get it!” Ginny shouts as she races to answer the door. Liam is hot on her heels but can’t catch her before she flings it open. “Harry!” she shrieks as she jumps at him. He catches her in a massive hug and smiles at Liam over her shoulder. Liam’s heart does this little clenching thing and he has to take a deep breath.

“Hello beautiful,” Harry says as he puts Ginny down and shuts the door behind him. “I’ve brought you a gift,” he says slowly. Ginny grabs for it, but Harry shakes his head and holds the paper bag over his head. “Have you been good enough for a gift?”

“I’ve been so good! Tell him, Daddy!” Ginny says, turning to plead at Liam. She’s practically bouncing in her shoes, and Liam feels a sense of pride as he turns to tell Harry.

“She got top marks on her spelling test this week,” Liam says with a nod. Ginny turns back towards Harry and he hands her the gift. She pulls out a framed photo and lets out a high-pitched squeal before hugging it to her chest.

“It’s Louis!” Ginny says as she turns to show her dad the photo. It looks like the bass advertisement Ginny had mentioned before. There’s an illegible scrawl in the lower corner and Liam’s heart melts at the fact that Harry had Louis sign it for her. “Can we go put it in my room?”

“First I think you should say something?” Liam asks, looking expedly at her. Ginny rolls her eyes and turns to hug Harry again.

“Thank you, Harry,” she blurts out before turning to look at Liam again.

“We have a guest,” Liam protests, but he’s cut off when Niall and Zayn join them in the hallway.

“You have housemates to look after the guest,” Niall says a tad bit too cheerfully.

“Besides, we haven’t met Harry yet. We need to make sure he has pure intentions,” Zayn adds. Liam pales and looks to Harry for help.

“Not the purest,” Harry admits before flashing his brilliant smile at the two of them.

“That’s even better,” Niall says, winking as he ushers Harry into the kitchen. Liam lets Ginny pull him upstairs and realizes that this is going to be one of the longest nights of his life. Though, if Niall and Zayn don’t manage to run Harry off, Liam might not have to worry about him sticking around. They’re enough to drive anyone mad.

 

--

 

“It’s just that I worry about you dear,” Liam’s mother says with a sigh. Liam wants to slam the phone against his forehead, but he knows she’s only looking out for him. She’s worried about him every day of his life regardless of whether he was learning to ride a bike or going on a job interview.

“I worry about me, too,” he says softly. “I worry about Ginny and whether this is a good idea. She’s half in love with him already. He’s so great with her, though. You’d adore him.”

“Is she the only one half in love with him?” his mother asks sharply.

“I’m an adult, mother. I can handle my own life. Let’s just be happy and not think of the worst, shall we? I doubt anything Harry pulls will be as horrible as when Julia and I fizzled out,” he says. Even as the words come out, he isn’t sure. In the end, Julia and he just kind of stopped being together. There wasn’t any hatred, just signatures on a divorce decree and the paperwork signing Ginny over to Liam’s custody. The passion was long gone, even from the divorce.

“I just know how you are, Liam. You don’t do anything by halves. If you fall for this boy, you’re going to get hurt. Maybe it won’t be right away, but he has too much going on in his life. Do you think he can be happy in a hidden relationship? I don’t care that you’re seeing a man, but I don’t like the thought of you being someone’s kept secret,” she says sadly.

“It can’t be forever,” Liam mumbles. “It’s better right now anyway. Ginny shouldn’t be out in the spotlight. Harry is absolutely worth waiting for.”

“If you’re sure,” his mother starts, but Liam cuts her off.

“I’ve never been surer of anything in my life,” he tells her admently. He can feel the fight drain out of her and steers the conversation back to his sister’s love life. Ruth is always a good distraction.

 

--

 

Liam is at the grocery store, picking up a few last things for Ginny’s sleepover when she tugs at his shirt and points to the magazine rack. “They don’t know much, do they?” Ginny asks with a laugh. The front of the tabloid has Harry with his arm around Emma Watson. They’re both smiling at the camera and look very much like they’re having the time of their lives. Liam knows it was from a red carpet a few nights ago. Harry spent the night texting him about how bored he was.

“Remember that Harry and I are a secret, Ginny,” Liam says and shrugs it off. The cover is offering the saucy details of whatever budding romance Harry and Emma have, but Liam knows better. Still, he almost wishes he could go out on the town with Harry. Sure, they have dinners and go to films together, but it isn’t seen as anything more than two mates out for a good time. Liam is pretty sure he hasn’t even been caught on film yet. Not that he wants to be flashed all over the tabs, mind you, but he wouldn’t mind shouting to the world that Harry was his and only his.

“It’s not very fair, is it?” Ginny asks as she looks up at him sadly. She really is way too mature for her age. Liam sighs and shakes his head.

“It’s what it has to be. Besides, it gives us something to laugh about, doesn’t it?” Liams asks as he puts their purchases on the counter. Ginny stays silent, but it’s better than more questioning that would probably make Liam moody again.

As if on cue, his mobile buzzes in his pocket. Liam takes it out and smiles at the screen.

We still on for tonight? Sleepover! ;)

Liam laughs and types a quick response. He’s been looking forward to tonight for weeks. With Ginny off at Jennifer’s house, he doesn’t have to worry about picking her up until late tomorrow morning. He grins the whole way back home.

 

--

 

Liam was pretty sure he could spend the rest of his life like this. He was sprawled out on Harry’s ridiculously comfortable sofa with Harry tucked in front of him and Shawn of the Dead playing on the telly. He ran a hand over Harry’s hip and pressed his lips against the nape of his neck. Harry shivered and shifted backwards, searching for more. Liam let his thumb trail beneath Harry’s shirt and traced the jut of his hip bone. Harry let out a soft moan and turned to look at Liam over his shoulder.

“How invested in this film are you?” Harry drawls out. Liam laughs and just shakes his head before nipping at the nape of Harry’s neck. “Good, me too. Come on. I have a perfectly decent bed we could be using instead,” Harry tells him. He jumps off the couch and switches off the telly before tossing the remote on the coffee table and grabbing Liam’s hand.

Liam figures he should be nervous as they climb the stairs and make their way towards Harry’s bedroom, but he can’t bother to get worked up over it. Sure, his heart is beating a bit quicker and his hand is sweaty in Harry’s, but he isn’t actually worried about mucking this up. They’ve hardly done more than kiss, but Liam feels completely at ease with Harry. As if reassuring him, Harry squeezes his hand as they walk through his bedroom door. Harry lets it slam shut behind them and grins widely at Liam.

Liam doesn’t waste time, just darts forward and slants his mouth over Harry’s. He pushes him against the door, swallowing the groan threatening to escape Harry’s mouth. Harry’s hands are all over him, tugging at his hair before skimming across his shoulders and finding purchase in his t-shirt. He digs his nails into Liam’s shoulders and sighs into the kiss. Liam nudges a thigh between Harry’s legs, gasping as he feels Harry’s hard length pressing into him.

He takes his time, though, perfectly content to learn the contours of Harry’s mouth, to trace his teeth with his tongue. Harry clings to him, mewling into the kiss as Liam sucks on his tongue. He makes the most delicious whimper when Liam nips at his lower lip, tugging gently as he breaks the kiss. He rests his forehead against Harry’s and just grins at him.

“How do you want to do this?” Liam asks after a moment. He can feel harry shiver against him, and Liam drags his hands down Harry’s sides, settling them on his slender hips. Harry is flushed, his cheeks hot as he looks at Liam through his impossibly long lashes.

“I would really like it if you’d fuck me,” Harry blurts out quickly. He looks nervous, as if Liam would ever say no to an offer like that. Liam nods and kisses him again, chasing away any worry with his tongue. Harry is hot and hard against him, all sharp angles and warm skin. Liam tugs at his shirt and has to step back so they can pull it over Harry’s head. Liam’s shirt follows quickly, and they’re both shoving out of their jeans as they stumble to the bed.

Harry gets tangles in his and laughs as he collapses on top of the bed. Liam chuckles and steps out of his boxer briefs before bending down to help Harry undress. Then he climbs into bed and straddles Harry’s hips, smiling down at him before crushing their mouths together in a harsh kiss.

Harry licks into his mouth, his body arching up as he pulls Liam down to him. Liam lets out a strangled moan at the first slide of Harry’s cock against his. He has half a mind to just stay like this, rutting against Harry until they’re both sweaty and panting and spent. But then Harry turns to suck at Liam’s collar bone and whines a breathy, “Need you in me. Dresser drawer.”

Liam is diving at the dresser before he can register it, digging through it until he comes up with a condom and a half drained bottle of lube. The image of Harry laying here, touching himself alone at night is enough to make Liam pause and suck in a deep breath. He blinks the image away and crawls back to Harry, who is busy arranging the pillows so they’re under his hips.

Harry is absolutely gorgeous, and Liam’s breath catches in his throat as he takes it all in.

He doesn’t have much time though, because Harry is needy, grabbing at him and flicking open the lube to coat Liam’s fingers with it. Liam isn’t used to this, isn’t used to being pushed around in bed when he’s trying to take control. It’s fitting, though, because Harry makes him feel ridiculously out of control. It’s all he can do to sit back on his haunches and let Harry guide his fingers between his legs. Liam circles his finger around the puckered hole, looking up at watch Harry’s face as he presses it inside of him.

Harry cries out, his hips flying up as Liam slowly works his finger inside of him. He meets Liam’s eyes, the bright green almost lost in the way his pupils are dark and blown wide. He looks absolutely wrecked, and Liam sucks in another deep breath as he slides a second finger inside. He stretches Harry, going as slowly as he can manage given the way Harry is wantonly bucking up against his hand.

“Oh fuck, Liam!” Harry cries out, clutching his fingers in the bed sheets. Liam smirks and rubs his fingers over the same spot, watching as Harry falls apart beautifully for him. His cock is hard and curved against his stomach, precome gathering at the tip. Liam can’t imagine anything being as hot as Harry fucking himself on Liam’s fingers.

But then Harry is grinding against him and ordering him to, “Just fuck me already,” and Liam’s proven wrong. He fights with the condom wrapper, his hands barely working as he somehow manages to get himself covered. He coats himself with more lube and then grabs Harry’s thighs, moving him into a better position.

He meets Harry’s gaze as he lines up and slowly pushes into him. Harry gasps, his body giving way for Liam. Liam stop breathing for a second, his mind stopping as he bottoms out in Harry’s tight heat. He has to pause for a moment, gathering his wits as Harry bucks up and tries to get him to start moving.

That’s all it takes, and then Liam is thrusting, bending down to kiss Harry as their bodies move together. Harry pulls at him, clinging to Liam as he bites at Liam’s mouth. He pulls out of the kiss with a grunt and keeps making the filthiest sounds Liam has ever heard. It’s indecent and perfect at the same time.

There’s no chance of Liam lasting long while Harry is wrapped around him and egging him on. He pounds into Harry and digs his fingers into his hips, hoping to leave marks he can sooth with his tongue later on. Harry just rides it out, moaning as Liam fucks him harder.

Liam works a hand between them and wraps his fist around Harry’s leaking cock. He can hardly think, his skin tight as he pumps Harry in time with his thrusts. It doesn’t take much, just a few more twists of his wrist before Harry’s shouting his name and spilling between them. He goes tense, his body arching as Liam works him through his orgasm.

Liam keeps going, his own orgasm close, building low in his spine. He can’t think, can barely manage to breathe as he slides in and out of Harry. And then Harry looks up at him and lets out a strangled, “Liam,” and that’s it. Liam comes with a gasp, his hips stuttering as he empties into the condom. He sees stars behind his eyelids as he pounds into Harry, his blood pulsing through his veins as his head spins with it all. He does his best not to collapse on Harry, but it happens anyway.

Harry strokes his palms up and down Liam’s back and nuzzles his neck, giving him time to come down from everything. They lay there for awhile, both panting into each other’s mouth and kissing lazily. Eventually they have to separate and clean up, but Liam feels like being a bit indulgent. Harry doesn’t seem to mind, just kisses him until he can’t think anymore.

 

--

Liam wakes up to the feeling of someone’s eyes on him. He blinks slowly into the morning light and grins up at Harry. Harry’s propped up on his elbow, grinning down at him. His hair is a mess and his face is still wrinkled from the pillow. He’s absolutely the most gorgeous thing Liam has ever seen.

“Good morning,” Harry says softly. He bends down and catches Liam’s mouth in a quick kiss before nuzzling against his neck. “You’re so warm,” he drawls out, curling around Liam’s thin frame.

“Sorry, I give off heat like a furnace at night,” Liam says sheepishly. Harry shuts him up with another kiss and shoots him an incredulous look.

“I adore it. I’m always chilly,” he admits before clinging to Liam again. Liam runs his hand down Harry’s spine, smirking when he shivers. Liam could really get used to this. He was never good at sleeping alone, always curled up with way too many pillows after his wife left him.

“I uh,” Liam starts, but stops himself before words he isn’t sure would be welcome rolls off his tongue. Instead he says possibly the worst thing he could, because he is nothing if not an idiot. “I saw you in the tabs the other day. With Emma Watson.”

“Please tell me it wasn’t the Harry and Hermione together at last one? That was was bloody awful,” Harry says with a groan. Liam nods and avoids looking at Harry. “Lot of rubbish is what it is. Does it...does it bother you? The fact that they have to make up rumors because I won’t tell them who I’m actually seeing?”

“Not really,” Liam answers truthfully. “It has to be done, you know? You have fans and people who depend on you and it’s just not a good time for this.” Harry sighs and reaches over to lace their fingers together. He brings them up to his mouth and kisses Liam’s knuckles.

“It might never be the right time, but I’m yours as long as you’ll have me?” he asks. He sounds unsure of himself, as if Liam would actually turn him down. Liam isn’t about to pressure Harry into anything. Sure, he’d love to hold hands in the park or bring Harry around to his mum’s, but he doesn’t need to.

“As long as you’ll have me,” Liam tells him brightly. Harry grins maniacally and kisses him again, this time drawing it out. Their tongues slide together slowly, and Liam is content to spend the rest of the morning lazing about. He has hours before he has to be at Jennifer’s to pick up Ginny.

 

--

 

“We’re leaving without you!” Liam calls upstairs to Ginny. He can hear her stomping around in her room and wishes she’d give in and let him help her out. But no...she was almost seven and could handle dressing herself. He’s had to send her upstairs twice already, because no matter how hot it was she was not wearing a bathing suit top to the bakery. Nor was she wearing her Hogwarts uniform, no matter how adorable she looks in it. At least she let him french braid her hair for her. Sometimes Liam knew when to pick his battles.

“Oi!” Harry calls out, “I’m so hungry I may pass out. Please pick something out so we can go buy fairycakes and lunch. If I die it will be your fault, Ginny!”

“Who’s the child here?” Liam whispers, making Harry laugh, and leans into him. He kisses him lazily, only pulling back when he hears a grunt from the stairway.

“Kissing is so gross,” Ginny tells them, her hands on her hips. She’s wearing a teal skirt and a bright purple tank top. It’s a bit colorful, but thankfully it’s workable. She also has roughly a million rubber bracelets on her left arm, but somehow she manages to pull it off.

“You’ll change your mind when you’re older,” Liam tells her. “Now lets go pick out the best birthday fairycakes anyone’s ever had. It’s not that far, shall we walk?”

“It’s nice enough outside,” Harry says with a nod. Liam shoots him a look, but Harry just grins and takes Ginny’s hand before leading her towards the door. And really, if Harry wants to take the chance of getting caught out and about with them, Liam isn’t going to argue. The truth is, he really does wish it were him instead of the starlet of the week who’s hanging off of Harry’s arm in every tabloid. If anything, he’s sure the press will just think Harry’s spending time with a good friend. After all, he and Louis are caught out drunk all the time and the press just eats it up. How Harry can manage to be both a wild child and a heartthrob, Liam isn’t sure. The entire country seems to be in love with him, though. He’s pretty sure even the Queen is harboring a crush.

Liam races to catch up with them and decidedly does not think about love.

“Are you sure you don’t want a birthday cake instead?” Harry asks as they walk down the block. He’s still holding on to Ginny’s hand, but she automatically reaches out to let Liam take the other. Every few steps she jumps into the air and lets them swing her. Liam looks over at Harry and grins, his heart entirely too full at the moment. But Harry is smiling right back, his green eyes sparkling as they walk down the pavement.

“Of course I want fairycakes! They’re so tiny and cute. Much much cuter than big cakes,” Ginny says, completely unaware of the look being shared over her head.

“And you shall have the cutest and most delicious fairycakes there ever were,” Harry tells her. Ginny keeps skipping along, tugging them with her. It’s only a few blocks to the bakery, and Liam’s nearly bursting with happiness by the time they get there. He has visions of them going everywhere like this, Ginny bouncing between them as the shop for groceries or go pick up takeaway. It’s all a bit pathetic, actually.

Harry and Ginny both crouch down to look at the glass case full of baked goods. Liam sneaks his mobile out of his pocket and takes a quick shot of them smiling at each other and pointing out their favorite treats. It’s rather embarrassing, but he has quite the collection saved on his phone. He can’t help it that they’re so adorable together.

They end up spending entirely too much money on fairycakes for the party, but Ginny is persistent and Harry insists on paying. Like he told himself earlier, Liam has to know when to pick his battles.

 

--

 

Ginny’s birthday party isn’t a large affair, but Liam’s too far away from his parents for them to come down on a weeknight. They’ll head up there over the weekend and she’ll be spoiled rotten again. It’s just Ginny and him, Zayn, and Niall. Harry will be there soon, but it’s not a lot for a seventh birthday party. He wonders if he should have invited more people, but then Harry shows up with Louis in tow and it’s suddenly the best party Ginny could have ever asked for.

“How’s my favorite birthday girl?” Louis asks as he picks Ginny up and spins her in a circle. She’s giggling and out of breath when he sets her down but can’t stop smiling up at him.

“I’m the only birthday girl here,” she tells him with a roll of her eyes. “I’m glad you could come. I’m getting a guitar,” she says the last part quietly, but Liam hears anyway.

“What you may or may not be getting is supposed to be a surprise. Why are you so certain you’re getting a guitar?” he asks. Ginny just shrugs and drags Louis off to look at the tray full of fairycakes.

“I spoil her too much,” Liam admits with a sigh. He tries not to think about the amount of money he spent on her new guitar, but Niall has insisted on a certain brand and Liam is way too much of a pushover when it comes to his little girl. Why shouldn’t she have the best of everything?

“I think you’re supposed to,” Harry tells him happily. He reaches out and brushes his thumb across Liam’s cheek before darting in for a quick kiss. “You’re looking rather dashing this evening,” he says with a wink. Liam just laughs and kisses him again before ushering him into the kitchen where the rest of the party is.

A couple hours later, the sink is overflowing with the dinner dishes and the table is covered in gifts and scraps of torn wrapping paper. Liam is pretty sure Harry has confetti in his hair, but he doesn’t seem to mind. Niall is sitting on Zayn’s lap as he tunes Ginny’s new guitar. Harry and Louis are having an animated conversation about their upcoming tour, and Liam is trying to clean up around everybody.

“Relax,” Harry finally tells him. He walks over and steers Liam by the shoulders, forcing him into a chair at the table. “We’re at a party. Enjoy it,” he says, laughing as he kisses Liam’s cheek. He heads over to the counter and grabs the tray of fairycakes and candles.

“Cake time!” Ginny shouts as she drops her new DS game onto the table. Liam is pretty sure Harry spent too much on her, but at least he didn’t show up with a pony or something. Harry puts the fairycakes in front of her and looks around for matches. Zayn grunts and tosses him his lighter. Liam watches them all move at ease with each other and thinks back to how nervous he was at first. He’s glad the boys pushed him through the first date and that they’ve somehow made it to here.

They sing Happy Birthday and Ginny takes her time with her wish, making a show of thinking it over before blowing out the candles. She gets them all on the first try and everyone claps for her.

“What did you wish for Ginny girl?” Louis asks her. She shakes her head adamantly and shoots him an odd look.

“You can’t say or it won’t come true,” she explains. Louis just nods and plays along. “Besides, I didn’t use it on me. I got everything I wanted for my birthday so I used it for Daddy.”

“That’s awfully nice of you,” Liam says, his heart bursting as how sweet his little girl is. He might be doing an alright job raising her after all.

“It’ll come true, too,” Ginny tells him. “I wished really really hard.”

 

--

 

Liam waits outside the bathroom, because as she informed him, Ginny is seven and perfectly able to brush her teeth and get herself ready for bed. He sighs and remembers when she was born. She was this tiny little thing, all wrinkly and foreign looking. But then she had looked up at him and Liam realized that she was it. She was his heart now. He’d die to protect that little girl with her big eyes and scraggly tufts of red hair. He still would.

An eternity later, Ginny emerges from the bathroom and grins at him. “See? I’m older now!” she tells him happily. Liam shakes his head and reaches out to smooth down her hair. It’s curly, like her mother’s, but somehow the reference doesn’t make him so sad anymore.

“Does that mean you’re too old for a bedtime story?” Liam asks in as serious a voice as he can manage. Ginny looks scandalized and rushes to correct him.

“Stories are for big kids! Even you read before you go to bed sometimes,” she tells him quickly. “But...maybe Harry could come read to me tonight?” She looks nervous, as if Liam would turn down her request. Recent events contradict that, and Liam nods before calling downstairs.

“Harry? Can you come up here?” He shouts. Niall and Zayn can certainly entertain themselves for awhile. They have a couple films lined up to watch after Ginny is settled in and knowing Niall, they have enough snacks to feed the British Navy.

“Yeah?” Harry asks as he climbs the stairs and shoots Liam a puzzled look. Liam turns to Ginny and gestures for her to say something.

“Would you read me a bedtime story, Harry?” Ginny asks as sweetly as possible. Liam coughs and she adds a quick, “Please?” She gives Harry her best puppy dog eyes and Liam can almost see his heart melting.

“Of course, princess,” Harry says as he reaches out and takes her hand. He lets her pull him into her bedroom and Liam follows a few steps behind them.

“Just one tonight,” Liam tells her, standing his ground when Ginny glares at him. She’s been spoiled enough lately. With a sigh, she leads Harry over to her bookshelf and they start going over the pros and cons of each book. Liam leans against the doorframe and thinks that he could really get used to this. It’s sweet and mushy and overly domestic, but he’d love to watch Harry put Ginny to sleep every night.

 

--

 

For the entire morning, Liam is blissfully unaware that his whole world is about to crash down around him. He makes it through his break and a couple dreadful meetings before one of his coworkers grabs him and hands him a tabloid. Robin gives him a worried look as she hands it to him, and it takes his mind a minute to catch up to the image on the front cover.

There in all its colorful glory is a picture of Harry and him walking down the street, Ginny held between them with her knees bent and her feet in the air. He can remember the moment it must have been snapped, can feel the emotions that were running through him at the time. He’s staring at Harry over Ginny’s head and any moron could see the love in his gaze. Harry’s looking at him with just as much fondness, and Liam feels sick. He chokes on his next breath and scans the headline: Harry’s New BFF or Something More?

“This is the nicest of the lot,” Robin tells him sadly. She leaves him be before he can say anything and he runs back to his desk to hide.

Only it doesn’t get any easier. His mobile is buzzing with texts from his mother and sister, asking why he couldn’t find the time to let them know. Hell, Liam hasn’t even let Harry know that he’s arse over heels in love with him. And now...now it’s out there for anyone to see. Liam groans and lays his head down on his desk. The one person he wants to text him hasn’t yet, and Liam does his best to ignore the worry growing in his stomach.

He spends his afternoon fielding questions from coworkers and trying to ignore the raunchy comments people somehow feel are appropriate. His inbox is full of congratulations and jokes from his team, and he’s about to quit by the end of the day. He won’t stop at quitting either, he’ll take off. Maybe he can find a nice cave to hole up in for a while.

His mood doesn’t get any better when he gets home and sees his neighbor frantically waving at them. Mrs. Foody is the biggest gossip in the neighborhood, and Liam does his best to pretend he doesn’t see her trying to get his attention. He hurries inside and slams the door shut behind him, leaning back against it with a sigh.

That’s where Zayn finds him a few minutes later. He comes over and wraps Liam in a hug, not bothering to say anything. Liam clings to him and focuses on not thinking too much. He pulls back and asks, “Ginny?”

“In the living room planning her own fan club,” Zayn says, chancing a smile. Liam shakes his head, because of course his daughter is on cloud nine right now. He’s about to find the bloke who took the picture and wring his neck for putting his family in the public eye, but Ginny is probably eating it up. No matter what happens next, he has to be strong for her sake.

“Interesting day, eh?” Niall asks as they wander into the living room. Ginny appears to be practicing writing her name while Niall colors a puppy in one of her coloring books.

“Daddy I’m famous!” Ginny says, practically bouncing. “One of kids in the class brought in the paper with us and Harry in it and everybody couldn’t believe it. Jennifer made me sign her copy! I’m just like Harry now.”

“That’s great, sweetheart,” Liam tells her as he sits down beside her. He wraps his arms around her and just holds her for a moment. This isn’t the end of the world. She isn’t harmed in any way just because her image is in some gossip rags. “I bet your band will be a hit now,” he adds just to see her smile.

“What’s Harry have to say?” Niall asks after a moment.

“Nothing yet,” Liam admits. He’s been checking his mobile all afternoon, but other than some frantic messages from his mom and Ruth it’s been silent. He takes it out of his pocket and sets it on the table before picking up a crayon to help Niall color.

A few minutes later, it buzzes against the table ominously. Zayn and Niall look at him and he picks it up, frowning at the message.

I’m really sorry. Need time.

“What’s it say?” Zayn asks. Liam tosses it over and Zayn and Niall read the text.

“Time to do what?” Niall asks. Liam shrugs and tries not to feel like everything is falling apart. He’s fairly certain he just got dumped via a text message but refuses to cry about it. It’s not like he’s Taylor Swift or anything. He picks up another crayon and flips the page, letting Ginny tell him which princess should be which color. He absolutely does not let his mind dwell on an asshole of a celebrity who apparently can’t handle being seen in public with Liam.

 

--

 

Liam ignores the pounding at his door. It’s the weekend. He can damn well have a lie in if he wants one. Never mind the fact that he hasn’t been out of his room since last night. Ginny is in perfectly capable hands with Zayn and Niall. He’d trust them with her life and they can watch her for one blessed afternoon while he dies of heartbreak. Not that he’s being over dramatic or anything. It’s just that when you’ve been dating someone for half a year, it’s considered proper to let them down face to face instead of not responding to several dozen text messages. Liam’s mobile is currently somewhere at the foot of his bed, having been abandoned sometime that morning. He pulls the covers tighter around himself and curls up into a ball.

Someone is fidgeting with the door, but it’s locked and Liam isn’t worried about anyone interrupting his solitude. Besides, Ginny hasn’t come to look for him. If she doesn’t need him, he’s perfectly content to wallow in his own self pity.

Suddenly the door flies open and Zayn and Niall tumble into the room.

“How did you get in?” Liam asks, jumping up to stare at them.

“I’m Irish,” Niall says with a shrug as if it explains everything. Liam supposes it does and waits for them to say something.

“Your daughter is asking why you haven’t made her pancakes on a Saturday,” Zayn finally says in a disapproving tone. Liam winces and does his best to look as pathetic as possible. He doesn’t suppose it takes much. Ginny isn’t the only Payne with puppy dog eyes.

“You need to get up, shower, and get on with your day,” Niall tells him. “This lying about isn’t going to do anything except make Ginny worry. Either Harry gets his head out of his arse or he doesn’t. It’s not up to you anymore.”

“I’m sorry,” Liam says. He is a complete jerk sometimes. “I’ll be down in a bit?” Niall and Zayn share a look and must agree to leave him be. They head out and Liam runs his hands over his face, sighing as he gets ready to face his life again.

He doesn’t even think he was this miserable when his wife left him. Then again, at the end he didn’t like her all that much. Ginny had been the only thing holding them together, and that just wasn’t enough anymore. Liam isn’t good at this whole being dumped thing. He hasn’t split up with someone before when they’ve been on such good terms. Hell, he’d been about to tell Harry he was in love with him and the fucking paps had to ruin everything. Miserable, Liam slinks into the shower and tries to harden his heart.

 

--

 

The next fews days are surprisingly normal for Liam. Despite their picture in the papers, nobody camps out on his doorsteps or tries to harass Ginny at school. Life goes on in a way Liam wasn’t sure it could. His coworkers aren’t all that interested in the story behind everything. He gets a few concerned hugs from the women, but mostly he’s left to his own devices. He spends extra time with Ginny and makes sure he doesn’t check his mobile repeatedly. If Harry wants to talk, he knows where to find him.

Ginny is part of the problem, though. She mopes almost as much as Liam does, and Liam can’t help but blame himself. He was an idiot to bring someone in without knowing if they’d stick around. Ginny was too young to realize what was happening when his wife left them, but she’s so much more aware now.

Thank god for Zayn and Niall. They both adore Ginny and she’s over the moon with all the extra attention they give her. Niall sneaks her sweets when he thinks Liam isn’t looking, and Zayn keeps gifting her little scraps of paper with his doodles on them. Between the three of them, they somehow manage to keep Ginny so occupied that she doesn’t mention Harry more than a couple of times.

 

--

 

"That's a good job, Ginny. Just make sure the peels make it into the bin," Liam says as he reaches around Ginny and slides the rubbish bin closer to her. She's peeling carrots for their salad while Liam fusses with the pasta sauce and Niall and Zayn micromanage from the kitchen table. He reminds himself that there is absolutely nothing missing from this picture. He's perfectly fine without Harry in their lives. He says as much, and Niall just rolls his eyes and pokes Zayn in the side.

"There's no need to lie," Zayn tells him. Liam glares over his shoulder and stirs the noodles. The doorbell rings, and Liam wipes his hands on the back of his jeans and goes to answer it. Liam's breath catches in his chest, and he very nearly slams the door shut again.

"Er, hello," Harry says lamely. He thrusts out a bouquet of roses, and Liam awkwardly grabs for it before it hits him in the chest. Harry looks as awful as Liam feels. His eyes are sunken and surrounded by dark circles. Liam feels bad until he remembers that Harry only did this to himself.

"Did your phone break?" Liam asks sharply, because apparently being heartbroken turns him into a vicious asshole. Harry winces and Liam does his best not to feel horrible. After all, he spent half a week in his bed, curled up in his blankets and living in his own filth. Harry better have done the same.

"I can't even begin to tell you how sorry I am," Harry starts. Liam grunts and starts to close the door, but suddenly Niall is right behind him and shoving at his hips. Zayn tosses him a cardigan and helps usher him outside. Someone plucks the roses out of his hands and Liam just goes with it, wondering when he lost control of his own life.

"We can finish up with dinner," Niall says happily.

"I hear the park is lovely at this time of night," Zayn adds cheerfully. Liam turns to tell them off, but then Ginny is standing there, looking up at him with her stupid I need you to do something for me daddy eyes and Liam gives in.

"Fifteen minutes," he mumbles as he steps outside. Harry reaches out to take his hand and stop halfway. Liam is totally not going to give in. He isn't. If he were in love with someone, he wouldn't leave him alone as soon as things got difficult. That isn't how these things work, right? He sighs and stays silent as they walk to the park. Harry sits on a bench and gestures at the space next to him. Liam perches on the edge of the bench and waits for Harry to make things better.

"So there is a slight chance that I panicked," Harry says softly. He looks up at Liam and looks so pathetic that something inside of Liam's soul shatters. "I haven't ever been in love before. I don't even think I've come close to looking at someone and thinking to myself yeah, I could start a family with them. And then you came along with your pre-made family and didn't care that I was some famous singer or in the papers every morning. All you wanted was to spend time with me and you didn't care if we cooked shitty pot noodles and watched bad telly. You didn't beg me to take you to fancy restaurants or show you off at premiers or ask to stand backstage at my shows. But…I'd like to. If you'll let me?"

"You want me to what?" Liam asks. He reminds himself that he's stoic and has a heart made of stone. Only Harry is smiling at him like he's the best thing in the universe, and Liam isn't actually all that over him.

"After I freaked out I sat down and had a long talk with my management. We, er, we kind of mapped out a plan for me coming out? With you by my side? And Ginny of course. If you still would let me see you?" He rushes through the words, tripping over syllables as he goes. It's actually the fastest Liam has ever heard Harry speak.

"I was trying to move on, you know," Liam says slowly. Harry chews on his lower lip and wrings his hands together. "So far, I am not doing so well with that. All Ginny does is ask when you'll be coming around again. I think I spent more time sulking this past week than I ever have in my entire life. I don't know anything at all about managers or the press or how to plan a coming out gala or whatever, but I don't think I can carry on without you. You're kind of it for me," he admits.

"I love you," Harry says quickly. He laughs as Liam smiles back at him and reaches out to lace their fingers together. "I love you. No matter how cheesy this feels right now."

"I love you too," Liam says, laughing back. "Should we star in a rom-com or something? Is that a good way to come out?"

"I told you, we've made notes," Harry tells him. He's grinning like the Cheshire cat, and Liam can feel all the dread from the past week leaving him. He doesn't think, just leans forward and catches his mouth in a kiss. Harry melts against him, sighing into Liam's mouth as their tongues slide together. Liam cups Harry's face, stroking his cheek with his thumb while they kiss.

As sad as it sounds, it feels like he's coming home again.

 

--

 

This is brilliant and insane and terrifying all at the same time. Liam is side stage at one of Harry’s concerts and there’s nothing he has to keep hidden. Ginny is bouncing in front of him, doing some bizarre dance that seems to somehow match the beat of the song. Liam does his best to keep her corralled in the tiny area that security had told them to stay in. It’s a bit odd to think of his life involving things like Harry’s bodyguards, but he’s surprisingly fine with that.

The past couple weeks have been a mad rush of press and interviews and standing at Harry’s side while he comes out. For the most part, his fans are all on board. Liam is more likely to get shouted at to kiss Harry to than be told off. Sure, some people aren’t happy with it, but the rest of the fanbase seems to be rallying behind the relationship and protecting them from the angry ones.

Ginny is a special case. Liam reaches out to tap her on the shoulder and smiles at her when she looks up at him. Then she’s back in the music, shaking her hips as she watches Harry sing on the stage in front of them. Liam was adamant that the press treat her with respect, and they all seem to be fine with that. She’s to be kept out of the papers, and Liam hopes that they can keep her life somewhat normal. Her days of being famous are hopefully behind them.

Liam and Ginny haven’t moved out of Niall’s house, and he doesn’t have any plans to. Everything with Harry is still so new, and he doesn’t want to uproot every aspect of Ginny’s life. Besides, Niall and Zayn are perfectly happy to babysit if he and Harry need some alone time. The two of them are every bit as enamoured with Ginny as Liam and Harry are. He’s sure that down the road things will change, but there is no reason to mess with a situation that works so well.

The song ends and Harry thanks the audience over the thunder of applause. He looks over to the side and catches Liam’s eye. Grinning, he turns back to the audience and starts talking. “So I know everyone is aware that I’ve had a few changes in my life recently,” he says, pausing to let the fans laugh. “I can honestly say that I am happier than I ever remember being. I have a new family that I love every bit as much as I love you guys. I’d like to give a massive thank you for everyone who has been supporting us. You’re absolutely brilliant. This next song is for my Liam. It’s called Truly Madly Deeply.”

The song is too slow to dance to, so Ginny leans back against her father and they just kind of sway back and forth together. Liam totally doesn’t cry, not even a little. And if he does, it’s only because everything is so fucking perfect right now.