The red carpet was a chaotic, vaguely organised mess of flashing cameras and shouts from paps and fans alike, the occasional direction thrown in from Harry’s PA. Not that he needed directions, he’d done the Grammys plenty of times, both with the boys of One Direction and solo. He still felt that thrumming of excitement in his veins, his smile genuine when he thought of the nominees for Album of the Year. Well, one in particular.
He glanced over his shoulder to see Louis a few metres behind him on the carpet, his hand resting on his tummy while the other waved at the fans. His smile was also genuine, Harry could tell by the crinkles around his eyes. He wanted to kiss them.
Louis glanced up and caught Harry’s eye, his smile going small and private, just for him. Harry returned it before moving down the carpet to give a brief interview to two of the Sugarscape girls.
It was all a blur, really, he’d been asked similar questions for years and he gave his real answers with a bit of a PR-trained polish added. The fans loved the interviews, though, even after eight years of the same deal, and he wasn’t one to disappoint his fans.
Especially not now, he thought. They were so close to being free. They were free, really, they just hadn’t decided on the best way to come out yet. Knowing it was so close made Harry tremble, acutely aware of all the things he and Louis had never been able to do in public. But soon. Soon.
Harry finally made it off the carpet and into the reception hall, grabbing a flute of champagne from a passing tray and taking a moment to watch the room move and mingle. He scanned the room for familiar faces, waving to some of his friends and sipping the champagne while he waited for Louis to join him.
He felt a light touch on his waist and turned to see Louis standing there, blue eyes twinkling and his fringe styled perfectly around his face. Harry reached out to flatten the collar of Louis’ jacket with his free hand, appreciating the texture of the navy blue fabric and the way it complemented both Louis’ eyes and Harry’s own outfit.
“Nervous, love?” Louis murmured.
“Me?” Harry laughed. “I’m not the one up for a Grammy, Lou.”
“Maybe not,” Louis agreed. “But your fiancé is.”
Harry felt his face split into a wide grin at the word. It wasn’t new, but he loved hearing any acknowledgement of the wedding the two of them were planning for the summer. “You’re very right. My fiancé is up for a Grammy. But I’m not nervous. I know he’s gonna win it.”
“Careful, now. You’re gonna give him a big head.”
Harry giggled. “Can’t get any bigger.”
“Oi!” Louis laughed, tightening his grip on Harry’s waist. Harry slipped a quick peck to his cheek as he walked off to the bar, his heart full and light.
“Lou, hey,” Harry whispered during a commercial break, putting a hand on Louis’ leg to stop the bouncing. “You’ve got this. Your album blew everyone away. You earned this. Promise.”
“How can you be so sure?” Louis asked, his voice showing nerves for the first time all night. “What if I don’t get it?”
“You’ve still got me,” Harry promised. “And millions of fans who love you and your music and know you deserve this, okay?”
Louis nodded and exhaled a deep breath. Harry squeezed his knee affectionately before bringing his hand to his own lap in time for the commercial break to be over.
The next few categories dragged on, until suddenly Ed was on stage in all his ginger glory to announce the nominees in Louis’ category. Harry knew they were all wonderful artists who were deserving of this award—Tori Kelly, Drake, Dua Lipa—but he also knew, without any bias, that Louis deserved it the most. He’d poured his heart and soul into this album, he’d worked day and night on it, he’d lost sleep over making sure the words and rhythms and productions were exactly right so he could give his best music to the world. Harry was so, so proud of him.
“And the winner in the Album of the Year category is…”
Harry could barely hear over the blood rushing in his ears and without thinking, he reached over and grabbed Louis’ hand, squeezing as tightly as he could, feeling Louis squeeze back.
“Louis Tomlinson with his album The Sun Goes Down!” Ed’s voice boomed, his pride barely held back when Harry took a second to glance up at his grinning face.
Louis hadn’t moved, shocked into silence. Harry squeezed his hand again, knowing the cameras were on them and trying to get a reaction.
“Louis!” he yelled, unable to stop his beaming smile, “You did it! You won! I knew you would!”
Louis looked over at him, his surprise still written on his face. He managed to stand up, letting go of Harry’s hand as he went, before he turned back to Harry.
“I did it,” he whispered.
“You did it, Lou. I’m so proud of you,” Harry whispered back. Louis’ face was spreading into a smile and Harry barely had time to process it before Louis was leaning forward and cupping Harry’s jaw with his delicate fingers, bringing their mouths together in a chaste kiss that was mostly smiles.
Harry’s smile barely faltered. He leaned in for another chaste kiss and murmured into Louis’ mouth, “Well, that’s one way to do it.”
Louis threw his head back and laughed before finally heading up onto the stage. The audience was a mix of shocked and relieved. Many of their industry friends had known they were coming out, but they probably—like Harry—didn’t expect it to be here and now.
Louis got onstage and accepted his statue from Ed, who hugged him for a long moment before releasing him for his speech.
“Wow,” Louis started, grinning and sounding slightly out of breath. “Just wow. Uh. Obviously, what you just saw wasn’t planned, but now I get to be completely honest. This album wouldn’t have happened without the help of so many people. My mum, my sisters, my boys from One Direction, my producers, my co-writers. You’re all amazing and I owe so much of this to you. But I especially owe it to Harry Styles, the love of my life and my wonderful fiancé, who was perpetually patient and supportive and was probably the only person on this planet who had zero room for doubt in me. I love you so much, thank you for doing this with me, and thank you for letting me unexpectedly come out with you.” Louis ended his speech on a chuckle, raising the statue once more before making his way off stage.
Harry could feel himself tearing up, clapping along with the audience, and smiling so largely that he feared his face would split. Louis came to sit back beside him after some interviews backstage and they met each other’s watery eyes for a split second before bursting out into laughter.
“I can’t believe you did that!” Harry laughed.
“I can’t believe it, either,” Louis admitted. “But I’m kind of glad it’s done now. We can just be us now, right?”
They shared another smile, linking fingers. Harry knew they were both aware this would be more complex than that, but the hardest parts were all over.
“We’ve always been us, baby. No one else I’d rather be,” Harry promised.
“Me neither,” Louis sighed, leaning in for a quick kiss.
“And Lou?” Harry started after a moment.
“I love you, too.”