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Sparks Fly

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Harry Styles is still in shock ten days after the accident. It's like he went numb and stayed that way. How else is one supposed to feel when one of their closest friends nearly dies? When someone you spent the past year bonding with and travelling the world with, all of a sudden disappears from your everyday life in the blink of an eye? Because that's what happened really. One day he was literally on stage and seeing Mitch to his left playing guitar and the next he's being sat down by his manager and best friend, Jeff and being told there was a very serious car accident and Mitch is in critical condition.

Ten days later, Mitch is no longer in critical condition but he's got a long road of recovery ahead of him and needless to say he wouldn't be playing guitar anytime soon which is...a bit of a problem since he's Harry's brilliant guitar player and Harry is due to go on tour in three months. Three. Months.

"Harry...are you with us?" Jeff's voice pulls him from his thoughts and he looks up to find his manager and the rest of his band staring at him with looks of concern on their faces.

Harry clears his throat and sits up straighter in the large armchair he was currently sitting in in Jeff and Glenne's house in L.A. "Sorry. I'm sorry. I'm listening now. What were you talking about?"

"The tour?" Jeff looks at him expectantly.

"Right," Harry sighs and runs his hands over his tired face, "We'll have to postpone it I guess. Once I'm done promo for Dunkirk we can start looking for a guitar player or just wait for Mitch to recover."

His band and Jeff all look at him sadly and Harry starts to squirm in his chair. He feels on display right now and he doesn't like it. Not right now, not when his emotions are so raw. "What?" He asks testily, "Why are you all looking at me like that?"

Sarah is going to be the brave one apparently because she reaches over and places a gentle hand on his knee and squeezes gently, "Harry...you heard the doctor. With the damage done to Mitch's arm and hand...it's not likely he'll recover enough to play guitar again. At least not professionally."

Harry looks down at his hands while his vision blurs thanks to the tears in his eyes. He doesn't want to think about Mitch not playing guitar again. He knows how much playing means to his friend, knows how grateful he was when he was able to quit the pizza shop because he finally got a steady gig playing guitar. It's not fair. It's just not fair.

"Harry," Jeff's voice is soft as he leaves his chair and comes to kneel in front of Harry, placing a hand over Harry's linked ones, "I know this is hard. Believe me, we all know. Mitch is our friend too so we get it. Mitch doesn't want you to be sad for him, though. We were all there when he said to keep going and he'll be front row at your first show in September."

Harry scoffs and gets up quickly, nearly toppling Jeff over in the process, "It's the beginning of June right now. I'm about to go on a promo tour with my cast mates for Dunkirk. Where are we getting someone who plays guitar and can learn all my songs in such a short time? Especially when I have no time right now to audition anybody because of Dunkirk. I'm not half assing this, Jeff. Fuck that! I'm not settling for some mediocre guitar player who just barely has my songs learned by the time September comes. The answer is no."

The room is silent except for a ticking clock and it stays that way for five minutes, then Clare speaks up, her voice soft and barely audible, "I think- I might know someone?"

"Yeah??" Sarah turns her head so fast to look at Clare that her long brown hair smacks Alex in the face and he swats it away with a disgruntled look on his face.

"Yeah," Clare chews on her lip nervously, "I mean- I haven't seen him in years. He dated a friend of mine about three years ago. They weren't serious but she dragged me to a couple of his gigs back then. He was in some band I can't remember the name of. They had a decent following around Ireland where they're from. I don't know if they're still together or not. I just remember being blown away by this guys skills on guitar. He was really good."

Sarah, Alex and Jeff nod along to what she's saying while Harry just stares at her like she's mad, "If he's in a band, do you really think he'll just ditch his mates to come play for me? I wouldn't want someone that disloyal no matter how good he is."

Clare rolls her eyes at him, "If they'd made it in the industry I think I would have heard about it. They're just a band who plays pubs and clubs around Ireland. That was three years ago and if I remember correctly my friend told me the lead singer and drummer hated each other most of the time. Kind of like the Gallagher brother's from Oasis. What's the harm in me asking if he's available? If he's not then fine."

Harry has no answer for that so he just shrugs and tells her to go ahead and ask then he asks Jeff if they have any other matters to discuss. His manager says no so he excuses himself and heads out to his car to head back to his own house. All he wants right now is to just be alone.

 

~~~


Harry receives a text from Clare at half nine that night. Once he opens it and sees that it's a link to a performance by that Irish band she was talking about earlier that day, he promptly ignores it and goes back to his ice cream and depressing movie on Netflix. He's well aware he's acting like a child but all that does is make him eat more ice cream and wrap himself up in a blanket to fight off the cold since he's eaten a whole tub of ice cream.

Harry's not stupid. He's not in denial either. He realizes he doesn't want someone new to come in and take Mitch's spot. He doesn't want to just replace him like he never existed. This man has become a good friend. He went to Jamaica with Harry and played on his album. It was an intense, amazing experience making his first solo album. It was an experience he would never forget and it just felt...wrong to replace Mitch who was there since the beginning.

He sighs and drops his spoon in the empty tub of ice cream then lays it on his coffee table. He puts his feet up and tries to get back into the movie but it doesn't work. You see, he's not unrealistic either. He knows he can't put his life on hold and tank his own career just because he doesn't want to replace Mitch. He knows this. He's just too busy acting like a child to do anything about it at the moment. He's allowed...right?

He must fall asleep right there on the couch because when he wakes up it's no longer dark outside. The sun is shining brightly through the sliding glass doors that lead out to his pool and Harry is blinded by it and feels hung over even though he didn't drink anything.

Raising his arms over his head he stretches his body out and sighs contentedly when his back cracks. He's needed that for days now but no matter which way he moved he couldn't make it happen. He feels less tense already. Until he picks up his phone. There's another text from Clare that says "Really Harry? You're just going to ignore my text?" With the rolling it's eyes emoji. There's also a text from Jeff telling him he can't ignore the situation forever- something has to be done...and soon.

Harry knows this. He knows okay? Jesus. He's going to have to watch that video Clare sent. Not without a shower and coffee first, though. If he's really going to face the fact he's got to search for a new guitar player and get him up to speed by September, he's going to need a lot of coffee.

So he puts on the coffee and runs upstairs to quickly shower in his en suite. When he comes back down ten minutes later there's a full pot of coffee waiting for him and he sniffs the air appreciatively. He loves the smell of coffee in the morning. Actually, he loves the smell of coffee at any time of the day really but that's beside the point right now.

He pours himself a large cup of coffee, adds a little milk, then heads back to his living room where he left his phone. He opens Clare's text and clicks on the link, settling in to watch.

One thing he can tell right away is that the quality of the video is pretty crappy. It's taken from kind of far away so Harry can't really even tell what any of the band looks like. When he looks at Clare's text again he sees that she explains it's a video she found on her Facebook page that she took back when her friend was dating the guitar player. Harry just shrugged because it didn't really matter if the quality was bad- as long as he could hear the guitar that's all that mattered.

And hear he did. Some of the songs were crap lyrically but the band itself played them well. Some of the songs were pretty good as well and Harry couldn't deny he liked what he heard from the guitar solos. This guy had some real talent. Of course Harry didn't know how long this guy had to practice and learn these songs. He could have been playing them for ten years for all he knew. Just because he was impressed with the guys playing, doesn't mean he'll be able to learn Harry's songs in three months.

After watching the video twice, he decided to call his Mum instead of Jeff or Clare. He just needed to hear her voice right now.

"Hello Harry, my love," She answered on the third ring, her voice as soft and cheerful as it always was.

"Hi, Mum," Harry smiled immediately upon hearing her voice. He loved her so, so much. She was his best friend before he had any friends of his own and she's still his best friend now.

"How are you, sweetie? It's still early over there so you must not be long out of bed," Anne says. There's a bit of noise in the background and when Harry looks at the time he realizes she's probably puttering around in the kitchen making dinner. He's immediately homesick.

"I don't know, Mum. I'm so stressed," Harry says honestly. He's always honest with his Mum.

"What's going on? Is it Mitch? He was doing better yesterday you said. Did something happen?" Anne asked, her voice full of concern.

"He's still okay. He's out of the woods and all that. He'll still be in the hospital for awhile. He's got a lot of broken bones that need to heal. I'm stressed because Jeff thinks we can find a new guitar player and have him or her ready by September so that nothing with the tour has to change and I just..."

"You just feel guilty for replacing your good friend," Anne says knowingly, making Harry laugh a bit.

"Exactly. He was such a big part of the album. It wouldn't be what it is without him, without the support he gave me when we were in Jamaica. It feels so wrong to just continue on without him," Harry says, his voice sounding almost whiny now.

"Oh sweetie. I understand why you feel that way and your loyalty is admirable but you can't put your life and career on hold over this. I don't know him that well but I don't think Mitch would want that either. He'd probably tell you you're being silly if he knew how you were feeling right now," Anne said.

"I know," Harry sighed, "You're right. He's already said he can't wait to be there supporting us at the first show. I'm just going to have to get over this guilt I'm feeling somehow."

"You will, baby. You love your music. Once you're in front of that mic and your band is playing behind you you'll feel good again. You just need to find a guitar player. Is that even possible in such a short time? You'll be busy with your film soon," Anne reminds him.

"I honestly don't know, Mum. Jeff seems to have a plan and Clare knows someone we can get. She sent me a video and he's really good. I guess the next step is to find out if he even wants the job," Harry sighs again and runs a hand through his hair.

"Hmm," Anne hummed and Harry could hear her hitting a spoon off the side of a pot, "Sounds like you better get on that then. It'll be hard work, you'll be busy, but you thrive on that. You've never been afraid of hard work."

Harry smiled and headed back into the kitchen to refill his coffee mug and get some fresh fruit for breakfast, "Thanks, Mum. I swear just hearing your voice cheers me up."

"I'm glad to hear that," Anne laughed, "I'll let you get to work then. I love you, sweetie. I'll talk to you soon."

"Love you, Mum," Harry said before they hung up and Harry went outside to eat his fruit in the sunshine. When he was done he pushed his dishes to the side and called Jeff, "Did Clare send you that video?"

"Yeah. What did you think?" Jeff asked.

"He's good. Whether or not he can learn my songs remains to be seen but...I guess we can get Clare to reach out and see if he's even interested," Harry shrugged even though Jeff couldn't see him.

"Good! I was hoping you'd say that. I think he's good too. I'll give Clare a call and see if she can find a number for him. Want to do lunch later? I'll pick you up." Jeff said.

"Yeah, why not?" Harry agreed.

"I'll pick you up at two. See you,"

Harry hung up and leaned back in his deck chair, letting the sun hit his face. He wasn't moving from this spot until lunchtime.

 

~~~


Niall let's out a quiet hallelujah as he folds the last onesie and places it neatly in the laundry basket with all the other onesies, receiving blankets and other baby clothes. He's honestly never done so much laundry in his life and he was already exhausted from a long day at work. He was getting used to it, though. The laundry and constantly having to do dishes to keep clean bottles was a bit of an adjustment for him but he's got a routine now and has never been more thankful for his OCD tendencies when it comes to keeping a clean house.

He sighs and falls back onto the couch to watch the golf channel. He should probably go to bed since he has to wake up at six every morning and before that he's up with his three month old baby girl, Maggie, to give her a bottle and a nappy change. He can't seem to make himself go, though. He has no time for himself anymore and he can't deny he misses watching golf and going out with friends for pints. He misses the carefree life he had a year ago but he knows without a doubt he'd never give up his baby girl now that he has her. Sure he never intended to have a baby at the age of twenty-three, he certainly never intended to knock up his girlfriend who wasn't even really his girlfriend- they were just casual, neither one of them wanted anything serious, and he never intended to be working a construction job that exhausted him but he took it because he needs good money to take care of his daughter. None of this was the plan but if it meant he got to have his little girl in his life then he wouldn't change a thing.

When his phone started vibrating on the table five minutes later he picked it up and frowned when he saw a number he didn't recognize, "Hello?"

"Hello? Is this Niall Horan?" A female voice says over the line.

"It is, yeah. Who's this?"

"My name is Clare. I'm not sure if you'll remember me. You dated my friend Stephanie like three years ago? I met you a couple times at your gigs in Ireland with your band..."

Okay. Niall remembers Stephanie and thinks he might remember her bringing friends around but he can't say he remembers this Clare person specifically. What the fuck is this about now? If this woman is about to tell him he's got a three year old kid somewhere from Stephanie then that's it! He's quitting life! This can't fucking happen to him twice!

"Niall? Are you there?" Clare asked uncertainly.

"Yeah," Niall croaks out, stopping to clear his throat, "Sorry. I was just thinking. Of course I remember Stephanie. She's one of the more normal girls I've dated," Niall joked, making Clare laugh, "Can't say I remember you though? I remember she brought friends around but..."

"That's okay," Clare laughed, "It's not important that you remember me. Have you heard of Harry Styles?"

What the fuck??? "Yeah. Who hasn't?" Niall snorted.

Clare laughed again, "I know, right? Anyway he's put a band together for his solo stuff and I play keys for him. I'm calling you because our guitar player was in a bad car accident and is going to be recovering for a long time. Harry needs a new guitar player and I remembered you. You're pretty brilliant. He agrees. I took a video three years ago. Found it on my Facebook page and showed him. I got the okay from him and his manager to track you down and see if you want to audition for them."

Niall was speechless and wanted to cry all at the same time. He can't believe this is happening to him. A year ago he would have jumped at this chance. Since he moved out of his Dad's house when he was seventeen he's just been carefree and bouncing around from job to job while playing music at night with his shitty band. They knew they were shitty but they didn't care. They weren't trying to be famous, they just loved playing music. It was great fun really. Niall made enough money from gigs and working at a convenience store in Dublin to pay his bills and that's all he needed. He lead a simple life and he loved it.

That all changed when his sort of girlfriend told him she was pregnant. He's nothing if not responsible so he immediately asked around about a better job and a friend hooked him up with a construction job in London. He and his sort of girlfriend, Ashley, decided to try and give a real relationship a try so they moved to London together and started getting ready for the baby.

Unfortunately they just didn't love each other and the day after their baby was born, Ashley handed him their daughter and said "I'm sorry, Niall but I just don't want this. I'm not cut out to be a Mum." and that was that. It's just been him and Maggie ever since.

"Niall?" Clare chuckled over the phone, "Have I completely shocked you? I know it's a lot to take in."

Niall swiped a hand over his face and sighed, "It is. It sounds like it would be a lot of fun. A great opportunity but...I just can't right now. I- I've got a three month old daughter and I can't just up and leave her. I can't leave a steady job to go play in a backing band only to get laid off when the tour is over. I'd love to...but I can't."

"Oh," Clare sounds disappointed, "Well that's okay. I certainly get it. Congratulations on your baby though."

"Thank you," Niall smiles softly as he looks at the picture of Maggie on the table.

"Well I'll let you go then," Clare says.

"Clare? Before you go...thank you for thinking about me, yeah? I've heard Harry's album. It would have been a pleasure to play those songs." Niall says honestly.

"You're welcome, Niall. Have a good night," Clare says before she hangs up.

Niall puts his phone down and turns off the tv. He's no longer in the mood for golf. He just had to turn down an amazing opportunity and he's feeling pretty low at the moment.

He wanders into Maggie's room on his way to bed and smiles down at his blue eyed wonder. She truly is beautiful. He fell in love the moment he met her after she was born. He reaches down and gently runs a finger over her cheek and smiles. If this is the reason he has to turn down opportunities of a life time...then he's more than okay with that.


~~~


Three days after watching the video Clare sent him, Harry's sitting in Jeff's living room again with his band, trying to come up with a solution that doesn't involve cancelling the tour.

"I'm sorry guys," Clare says for the tenth time, her hands palms up in front of her, "I think Niall would be perfect for this band but...he said no. I mean, I could tell he was interested but he said he can't leave his baby daughter so..."

"That's understandable," Jeff says, sighing.

"Couldn't his wife or girlfriend watch the kid while he's away?" Alex asks, earning a smack across the chest from Sarah.

"Maybe she doesn't want her husband/boyfriend traipsing off for months at a time and leaving her with an infant all by herself. Ever think of that??" Sarah rolls her eyes at Alex.

"Alright, alright. Jesus," Alex rubbed his chest where Sarah hit him.

"If nobody else has any ideas I'll put out some feelers, see if any of my contacts knows of somebody. I'll give it a week then it might be time to do some rescheduling," Jeff stands up and pinches the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger. He looks tired.

Harry had been sitting silently throughout the whole exchange since Clare told them Niall said no. He had an idea but didn't know how it would be received. Only one way to find out.

"Wait- just wait a minute," He waves his hand around in the air like he's conducting an orchestra or something, "Can I have his number, Clare? I might have an idea."

Clare shrugged and took her phone out of her pocket. A minute later, Harry got the text with Niall's number in it.

"Care to share?" Jeff raised an eyebrow at him.

Harry rolled his bottom lip around between his thumb and forefinger for a minute while thinking, "I'm going to call him and ask him if he'll at least play for us on Skype or send a video of him playing a few songs. I want to know for sure he's as good as he seems on that video Clare has. If we like him...well why not bring his baby along with us? Lou has a nanny to help her with Lux. I'm sure we can work something out for Niall's baby."

"I don't know, H," Jeff says uncertainly.

"I love it! A brand new baby to dote on while touring with THE Harry Styles. What more can a girl ask for?" Clare says, laughing at Alex's expression.

"We're kind of desperate are we not?" Harry points out to Jeff, "You can still put out feelers. I realize this is a long shot. His wife or girlfriend might not want to go on tour with a baby. No harm in offering though."

Jeff throws his hands up in the air in a 'what the heck?' gesture and tells Harry to give it a try. He does as soon as he gets home.


~~~


It's like deja vu for Niall when his phone rings the next night with a blocked number this time. The only difference is that it's a little earlier in the evening and Maggie is still awake. Niall currently has her on the couch surrounded by pillows while he makes her giggle by making funny faces and playing hide and seek. Her giggle was everything. Niall seriously needed to record it and make it his ringtone.

"Hello?" Niall answered while he's still laughing at Maggie giggling and kicking her legs about.

"Hiiii. Is this Niall?"

Niall stops laughing and sits up straighter, raising an eyebrow at the voice on the other end of the line. It was very English and very deep. Whoever was calling him sounded like...sex. Niall's eyes widened and he nearly snorted at himself. He really needed to get laid if he was starting to compare voices to sex.

"Yeah. This is Niall," He finally says after clearing his throat. Maggie made a cooing noise and Niall smiled down at her, tickling her stomach and making her giggle again.

"This is Harry Styles. I'm sorry if I've got you at a bad time. I wanted to call before it got too late in London. Is that your baby I hear? She sounds so cute," Harry cooed and what is going on right now? Harry Styles is calling him and cooing.

"Um...yes. That's my daughter. It's- it's not a bad time. We were just playing," Niall says, still in complete shock at hearing Harry Styles' voice on the other end of the line, "I don't really know why you're calling me, though. I mean, I assume Clare told you about our conversation last night?"

"She did, yeah. I just wanted to talk to you myself because you're really good and that's only on a crappy video from three years ago. I wanted to see if I could at least convince you to send a video to my manager of you playing a few songs? Or we could call you on Skype and you could play some stuff? If you're what I'm looking for I think we can come up with a way to hire you without you having to leave your daughter," Harry tells him, a hint of hope in his voice.

Niall is intrigued. He doesn't hate construction. He's grateful to have the job. Ten hour days of back breaking work is not exactly his idea of fun though. If he could get a job playing guitar it wouldn't even feel like a job to him, "How exactly can I play guitar in your band and still take care of my daughter?"

"You could bring her and your significant other with you!" Harry says like it's the easiest thing in the world.

"I don't have a significant other," Niall says, "It's just me and Maggie. I'm a single father."

"Oh," Harry goes silent for a moment, then, "Well still, bring Maggie with you. My hairstylist, Lou, has a little girl and a few other people on my team have kids. Lou has a nanny for her daughter so Maggie will be well taken care of when you're working."

Niall closes his eyes for a minute and blows out a long breath. It all sounds amazing. He wants to do it. He hasn't even picked up his guitar in ages. It would be incredible to get to have it in his hands again, and for a good living this time. He wasn't going to get rich at it but he wasn't getting rich in construction either. The problem is he has to think of Maggie first and foremost and he needs to be able to provide for her when Harry's tour is over. Can he leave a steady job for a temporary one? Definitely not. Still...it would be kind of nice to know if he was good enough. He could send a video of him playing. There's no harm in that right?

"Alright," Niall says eventually, "Text me your e-mail and I'll send a video. I'll need a few days to get it done. I'm off work on the weekends so I'll get it done this weekend. No promises other than that though."

"That sounds fair enough," Harry agrees and Niall can just hear the smile in his voice. A smile that has dimples if Niall recalls correctly. God. Getting to stare at those dimples and listen to that voice like sex everyday is reason enough to take the job in Niall's mind. Fuck he really does need to get laid. Really and truly, "I'll text mine and my manager's e-mail. I look forward to hearing you play."

"Okay. Thanks," Niall says awkwardly. How else is he supposed to be when Harry fucking Styles calls him out of the blue? He's still not convinced this isn't all a dream, "I- I have to go feed my daughter now."

"Oh! Right. Of course. I'll let you get to it. Have a good night, Niall," Harry says to him.

Niall wishes him a goodnight as well, even though it's probably not even close to being night wherever he is, then he hangs up the phone and stares at Maggie in disbelief, "Well, Mags, what do you think? Hm? Would you like to travel around the world while Daddy plays guitar?" Her response is a fart and Niall cackles with laughter, "Yeah. Just like your Dad, aren't ya Pumpkin? Just like your Dad."


~~~


It's Sunday afternoon in L.A. when Harry gets a notification that an e-mail has come in from Niall Horan. He's just sat down in his office with a salad he made for a late lunch so he opens up his laptop and goes into his e-mail to click on Niall's name. There's a video file attached so he clicks on it and happily munches on his salad while he waits for it to load. When it does he clicks play and very nearly chokes on a piece of lettuce when he sees the person on the screen.

He pauses the video and takes a long drink of water to make sure the lettuce goes down, then he just stares at the man paused on his screen. He's young but he already knew that. Clare told him Niall was somewhere around the same age as him. He had brown hair that was a bit tousled on top of his head right now, like Niall had been constantly running his fingers through it, he was wearing a pair of black/brown framed glasses that made him look sexy as fuck, he had a full beard that was trimmed perfectly and very neat, and his eyes...his eyes were blue like the sky on a clear summer's day, with just the tiniest flecks of green that you would only notice if you were looking closely and Harry was looking really closely right now.

"Fuck," Harry murmured softly, putting his bowl of salad to the side and sitting as close to his laptop as possible, "He's gorgeous. Why didn't Clare warn me he's gorgeous?"

When he finally stops staring and hits play again he nearly chokes again, this time on nothing but air, when Niall sits back with his acoustic guitar, the smile on his face more like a smirk.

"Hello," He says, that tiny smirk on his face that Harry immediately finds sexy. His arm is lazily draped over his guitar and he reaches up to push his glasses up over his nose and since when is that sexy? Since when is someone fixing their glasses sexy? Judging by Harry's rapidly beating heart- since right now! "So, we didn't talk about anything specific you wanted me to play so I'm just going to play a range of songs, including some of my favourites. I'll switch back and forth between acoustic and electric and...yeah. Hope you like it."

Oh Harry already likes it. He likes it a lot and the music hasn't even started yet.

"Oh and I hope you don't mind if I hum or sing sometimes. I get a bit lost in the music sometimes when I'm playing and don't even realize I'm doing it," Niall says, "Okay. Here we go."

Niall's fingers start strumming his guitar and Harry is immediately mesmerized. He knows he'll be watching this video a million times because right now he can't decide what to look at- Niall's fingers as they move so effortlessly over the strings? Or his face as he closes his eyes and different emotions flit across his face as he goes through many different songs, some uplifting, some not.

Niall really does go through a full range of songs. There's some Eagles and Fleetwood Mac, The Who, Don Henley, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, then he does some eighties stuff from Bon Jovi and Guns N Roses. He even does some recent songs, pop songs that don't even have a guitar originally and puts his own spin on them. It's absolutely incredible how he seamlessly slips from one song to another, from acoustic to electric and Harry is already in love with his guitar playing when the smirk comes back and he looks into the camera to speak again.

"This is the last song. I think you'll quite like this one," He says and WINKS!! HE WINKED!

He starts to play Kiwi and Harry about has a heart attack! He's up on his feet, hands flailing around everywhere as he stares down at the screen of his laptop while Niall seamlessly plays all of Kiwi.

The video isn't even finished playing when Harry dives for his phone and calls Jeff. When his friend and manager answers the phone, Harry doesn't even let him say hello before he's screaming, "Have you watched the video yet?? Have you?? He's bloody brilliant, Jeff! He's brilliant! We have to have him. Give him whatever he wants. I don't care! He needs to be in my band TODAY! Right now! What are we wai-"

"HARRY!!!" Jeff screams in his ear to get him to shut up. His friend is also laughing at him but what else is new? "Can we take a deep breath and try to speak coherently?"

Harry takes a deep breath and paces back and forth behind his desk, his hand in his hair as he tries to get ahold of himself, "Have you seen the video Niall sent?"

"Not yet," Jeff answers, "I was about to sit down and watch it. I take it you like it?"

Harry makes a noise that kind of sounds like an elephant and pulls his chair out to sit back down, "Like it is an understatement. I want him." Oh God, in more ways than one but Jeff doesn't need to know that, "He's brilliant and I'm convinced he can learn my songs. Offer him whatever he wants, Jeff. We need him."

"Whoa whoa, slow down now," Jeff laughs, "Let me watch the video and I'll call you right back."

Harry agrees and hangs up the phone, taking a deep breath and starting the video from the beginning again. He wants to sit back and close his eyes, let the music take him over, but he can't stop staring at Niall. He really was beautiful. The hair, his eyes, his pink lips, his toned arms, all that chest hair peeking out the top of his shirt. It's been a long, long time since Harry had been this instantly attracted to someone. For the past eighteen months he's been writing, making a film, writing again, recording, now promoting. He hasn't really had time for more than an occasional hook up and he really hasn't even bothered with those much. He's been too consumed by his music and making a record he's in love with. Through all of that, nobody has caught his eye...until now.

Harry remains caught up in Niall until Jeff calls him back, "Well?"

"He's incredible, Harry. My God!" Jeff sounds as in awe and out of breath as Harry did when he first finished watching the video, "He even threw in one of your songs and he played it flawlessly. Wow."

"I told you he was brilliant!" Harry said excitedly, "He'd be perfect, Jeff. Maybe he even knows some more of my songs? Who knows?"

"He's definitely perfect," Jeff agreed, "I think your fans will like him too. They were very much into your little bromance with Mitch. If you have the same kind of vibe with this guy they'll eat it up."

"Great! So make him an offer. Get him over here. I don't care what it takes!" Harry says eagerly.

"I love your enthusiasm," Jeff laughed, "Especially considering how reluctant you were a week ago. I'll meet with the team tomorrow and get an offer drawn up. I've got his number from Clare but I assume you'll be calling him tonight based on how excited you are?"

"Yeah. I'm going to call him now when we hang up. Before it's too late in London. Can I tell him you'll be in touch tomorrow or Tuesday?" Harry asks.

"Sure. Probably Tuesday. By the time I get everything done tomorrow it'll be late in London. I'm not going to call the guy after midnight," Jeff says.

"Alright. Well I want to see the offer before you call him. I want to make sure it's perfect," Harry tells Jeff.

Jeff is silent for a minute then says, "O...Kay then. I'll talk to you tomorrow."

Harry says goodbye and hangs up the phone thinking Jeff either thinks he's extremely weird or he's onto Harry's instant crush on the blue eyed Irishman. Whatever. It didn't matter. As one of Harry's best friends, Jeff already knew everything about him anyway.

Now to call Niall.


~~~


Niall's sitting on the couch with his feet up on the table on Sunday evening having a beer. He had a great weekend and to him this was the perfect way to cap it off. Mags had just fallen off to sleep and his flat was nice and quiet except for the music on low that he had playing on his phone. Harry Styles music to be exact.

He had heard Harry's album before. He really liked it because it's the exact type of music he himself listens to. He hadn't heard it enough to be able to play the songs, though, so he started listening to it a lot since Harry called him and managed to get Kiwi ready for the video he made yesterday. Hopefully it was good and Niall didn't make a fool of himself.

Besides spending a good portion of Saturday making that video and getting it ready to e-mail, Niall had gotten to have a long overdue lads night with some friends and cousins he hasn't seen in awhile. He's really lucky to have a lot of family in London. The support he's gotten from them since he's had Maggie has been incredible. Especially from his cousin Nancy who doesn't work because she married a rich guy. She takes care of Maggie all day while Niall is at work which is a godsend because child care is expensive and Niall's not sure he could afford it. Thanks to Nancy not accepting any payment from him, Niall was able to get a decent flat for himself and Maggie. He could never thank her enough.

He's debating about whether or not he wants to watch a film or the football match he recorded earlier in the day when his phone vibrates on the table and it's a blocked number again, just like when Harry called him a few days ago. It can't be Harry, though, can it? He only sent the video a couple hours ago. He wouldn't be calling already?

"Hello?" Niall answers somewhat apprehensively.

"Hi, Niall. It's Harry," There's that voice like sex again.

"Hey. Hi, Harry," Niall somehow manages not to stutter but just barely. He doesn't know why he's so nervous? It doesn't really matter what Harry thinks of his guitar playing. He can't accept the job even if it is offered to him. Except...if Niall is being honest with himself, it does matter what Harry thinks. Niall's not looking to make it famous or anything but to have someone as talented and famous as Harry tell him he plays guitar really well...it would mean a lot to him.

"Niall..." Harry starts, "I had to call because I watched your video and you were brilliant! I'm- I'm honestly still in shock and so blown away. You're extremely talented and I wanted to give you a heads up that my manager will be calling you in the next couple days to offer you a job and to go over the terms. I hope you'll say yes because you're bloody brilliant and I really want you to be a part of the band."

Now it's Niall's turn to be shocked. Harry Styles just said he's brilliant and offered him a job. Niall Horan, a nobody from a small town in Ireland, who used to have crooked teeth and barely made it out of high school, is being offered a job playing guitar for one of the top male artists in the world. Niall was speechless, he was practically not breathing. He wants to stand up and jump up and down on the couch like a kid until...until he remembers he can't accept the job. He can't leave his job for a temporary position. Not when his little girl was counting on him. The moment she came into his life everything became about her. Anything he wanted had to be put on the back burner and he doesn't regret that at all. He's going to be the best damn father this world has ever seen and if that means he has to put his own life on hold then so be it.

"Harry-" Niall's voice sounded strangled so he excused himself and cleared his throat, "Harry I'm really flattered. I- I can't believe this is happening to be honest. If it was just me I'd be on a plane right now to wherever you need me to go but it's not just me. I have a three month old daughter and I can't quit a good paying job to go on tour with you for six months. I'd have nowhere to go when the tour ends. No job to go back to and...I just can't do that to my daughter. I'm so sorry."

There's silence on the line for a good minute or two and Niall doesn't break it because he can practically hear the wheels turning in Harry's head and for some reason he really just wants to hear whatever it is he's going to say next. Maybe he just wants to hear him speak- Niall's not really sure of anything anymore.

"Niall?" Harry speaks slowly, drawing out his name, "What if- what if it's a permanent position? What if you still get a steady pay check even when we're not touring or doing promo appearances?"

Niall's breath hitches and he can't be sure but he swears he hears Harry's do the same on the other end of the line, "Well," Niall says slowly, "I'd say I'd be stupid to turn that down. Providing it's real, that is."

"It's real," Harry says quickly, "Nothing is set in stone yet. I'm touring small venues from September to December, then there'll be a break for Christmas but after that the plan is to do an arena tour in 2018. Then after that I'd probably start working on my second album- after a bit of a break of course. So there'll always be work for you."

Niall draws in a breath and lets it out slowly. He's being offered to play guitar for a living. That's not even *work* to him. He can't believe this is happening! It sounds too good to be true. Which is why he's careful. He has to protect his daughter's future here, "Alright. Let's see what your manager has to say when he calls. Maggie is my top priority. If I like what he has to say and it allows me to provide for my daughter decently then...you've got yourself a guitar player."

Harry squeals, he actually fucking squeals, then there's a noise like maybe he dropped the phone or something. When he comes back, he clears his throat and appears to be all business. Niall is really fucking endeared right now.

"I'll speak to my manager and make sure everything you need is in your contract. I think- I really think it's so amazing what you're doing. Raising your daughter on your own, and I can already tell you're a great father by the way you want to make sure she's provided for. I admire that a lot. I love kids myself and like I said- some of my team have kids so when you're working your daughter will be well taken care of. I just want you to know that," Harry says, sounding very cute and sincere to Niall.

"Thank you, Harry. Appreciate you saying that. I think you're a good lad and I like your music so I hope this all works out yeah?"

"Yeah. Definitely, yeah," Harry says softly.

"I guess we'll talk soon then?" Niall says, cursing in his head because he sounds like a fucking teenager who is talking to his first crush on the phone. It was fucking ridiculous and he needed to get a hold of himself before he does something stupid and embarrassing. He hasn't even met the man yet and he was already sounding like a twat.

"Yeah. Talk soon. Goodnight Niall," Harry said softly.

"Goodnight," Niall hung up the phone and sat back on the couch in shock. This might actually be happening. If everything works out he will soon find himself playing guitar in front of thousands of people. It was going to take some time for him to wrap his brain around that one.

In the meantime he figured it wouldn't hurt to be prepared in case he did get the job and ended up having to travel. He needed to make a list of everything he would need for himself and Maggie, figure out what he would do with his flat while he's away, and tons more things he's sure he's not thinking of right this second but will come to him at some point. So he starts a list on his phone and hopefully when the time comes he'll be as prepared as he needs to be.


~~~


"You did what, Harry??" Jeff looked at him incredulously. His eyes nearly popping out of his head. "Have you lost your mind? That's- not how things are done and you know that."

Harry sits back in the chair across from Jeff's desk and rolls his eyes at his manager. He just told Jeff he wants Niall to be on his payroll permanently, even when they're not touring and Jeff is freaking out because that's not usually how things are done, "Relax, Jeff. What's the big deal? We finish touring in December then I'm starting the arena tour in March. After a break at Christmas we'll be back in rehearsals again by the end of January anyway."

Jeff sighed and shook his head at Harry, "Yes but generally when an artist isn't touring their band and back up dancers, etc. etc. are then free to pursue other jobs. You don't just keep paying them when they're not working."

"Well he has a three month old daughter, Jeff. He won't take the job unless he knows he has a steady income and I refuse to lose him. He's brilliant. I want him." Harry says stubbornly.

Jeff tosses his pen down on the desk and snorts, "I suspect you want a lot more than his guitar skills."

Harry's mouth drops open and he tries to give Jeff his best 'how dare you?' look, but to no avail. His friend sees right through him and only starts laughing, a full on belly laugh, while Harry sits there glaring at him until he stops, "Oh, are you done then? How nice of you."

"Harry. As your manager you know I have to tell you when something is a bad idea. I mean, you're not paying the rest of your band during the break. They've all got side projects to keep them busy in between tours or long vacations planned. What do you think they'll say when they find out?" Jeff asks, being diplomatic as always.

Harry shrugs, "I'll ask them. I'll explain the situation and ask if they have a problem with it. Or maybe we just keep them all on the payroll. I don't know. What I do know is, they don't make money if the tour doesn't go ahead so I know they want a guitar player found quickly. We'll figure it out. I'll pay him from my personal funds if I have to. Just get this deal done, Jeff. Please."

"Alright," Jeff holds his hands up and acquiesces, "Like I said, I have to advise you but the ultimate decision is yours. After the lack of control you and the boys had in One Direction, I promised you'd have control over your career when you went solo and I'm sticking to that."

"Thank you," Harry says softly, smiling at his friend.

Jeff smiled back then moved on to the next thing, "You've still got a bit of time off here in L.A before you start promoting Dunkirk. We'll need to fly him over here as quickly as he can get here, get some rehearsal time in before you're gone. I'll get him a room at the same hotel as Sarah and Clare."

"Actually..." Harry stops and stares at Jeff, knowing this isn't going to go over well, "...I was thinking he could just stay with me?"

Jeff opens his mouth to speak but Harry quickly cuts him off.

"Wait, wait, wait. I have my reasons!" Harry exclaims.

"Yeah. You want to have sex with him. Harry for fuck's sake!" Jeff is getting frustrated now. Frustrated Jeff is not good.

"Noooo," Harry assures his manager, even though, well, he wouldn't mind finding his way to Niall's bed. "I want the band to stay with me for awhile. Alex, Sarah and Clare as well. They don't know Niall and Niall doesn't know them. They need to bond and get to know each other before we go on tour. Also, I don't think it's fair to stick him in a small hotel room with a three month old. "

Jeff sighs and shakes his head, shuffling some papers around on his desk, "Just do what you want, Harry. I know there's no point in trying to talk you out of this. Unless there's anything else I think I have everything done for Niall's contract. I'll call him tomorrow."

"No. That's it. Let me know if he accepts," Harry says, standing up to leave. He knows Jeff is a bit pissed off with him right now so it's best for him to head home and let him cool down. They'll chat later and all will be well again. Right now he's just going to go home and pray that Niall accepts.


~~~


"Are you serious right now, Harry? Really and truly serious?" Nick Grimshaw asks him over Skype, laughing his loud, obnoxious laugh at Harry's expense.

"Niiiiiiccccckkkkkkkk," Harry whines and pouts like a child because yes, he's already established last week that he can be a child sometimes, "It's not funny. Stop laughing. I need support from my best friend right now!"

Nick stares at him through the screen, a look of glee on his face and his voice going all high pitched when he says, "Christ, Harry, how do you expect me to react when you tell me you've found a new guitar player then spend ten minutes going on and on about his eyes, his lips, his fucking chest hair???" Nick breaks out into cackling laughter again and Harry sits back with his arms crossed over his chest watching, eventually starting to laugh along with his friend.

"It really is ridiculous, isn't it?" Harry giggles, his hand covering half his face as he leans his elbow on the desk in front of his laptop, "I mean, the media has just spent the past month talking about my music and how mature it is and how mature I am. God. If they only knew."

"You've had the likes of Stevie Nicks, Mick Jagger and Gene Simmons praising you but they don't know the real you. The you that can't handle a man with a bit of chest hair," Nick starts cackling again, his face coming so close to the screen Harry can see up his nose.

"Niiiiicccckkkkkk," Harry whines again, his hand now pressed against his forehead, "It's not just a bit. It's a lot and I want to rub my face in it."

"Oi!" Nick whips his shirt off and runs his fingers through his own chest hair, "What's this then? If it isn't a fucking rug? You've never wanted to rub your face in mine!"

"Jesus Christ, Nicholas. Put that away," Harry says, his face turned up in disgust, "You're my best mate. That's gross."

Nick rolls his eyes but puts his shirt back on anyway then returns his attention to Harry, "In all seriousness though, what's going on with you moving your whole band into your house? You know that's not normal right? Jeffrey must have absolutely lost his mind."

"Yes I know it's not normal and yes he did lose his mind. Got pissy with me. I just- I know you think it's just because I'm attracted to Niall but it's not-" Nick snorts and Harry rolls his eyes, "It's really not, Nick. I'm not denying it's part of it. He's gorgeous, his accent is sinful and he's a single father. You know how I feel about babies. Put a hot, single guy raising a tiny baby all on his own in front of me and I fucking get like a hormonal teenager."

"Yes, I've noticed," Nick says dryly, "but get back to why the band is moving in."

"We don't have a lot of time before tour. I'm going to be so busy toward the end of June and into July with Dunkirk so I want us all to bond. I bonded with Mitch and Alex in Jamaica, then Sarah and Clare came on board and we had all the time together before the album came out, constantly practicing for the promo performances and stuff. Now all of a sudden we all have to gel with someone new. I think it'll help being together so much. They can help Niall learn my songs, we can hang out by the pool, have drinks, watch Netflix, have long chats. All that bonding stuff. I think it's a good idea. I don't see the big deal," Harry huffs at the end of it.

"I don't know. It's not that I see anything wrong with it. You'll all be together, in each other's pockets throughout the tour so you might as well get used to each other now. I think everyone will just react the way Jeff and I did because it's not the norm but since when is Harry Styles normal anyway?" Nick laughs, "You should do what you want to do, what you're comfortable with, but Harry...please be careful, yeah?"

"Because of my attraction to Niall?" Harry asks, even though he already knows the answer.

"Yes. The last time you were like this with someone it was Kendall and you tried to make that work twice and it ended in disaster both times. I don't want to see you get hurt and while I don't know this lad yet, I don't want him to get hurt either. For fuck's sake, Harry, there's a kid involved this time." Nick says, not pulling any punches as usual.

"I have a feeling I was just insulted," Harry says sarcastically.

"Harry," Nick sighs and runs his hand through his hair making it stand up on his head, "You tend to get infatuated really quickly and then you lose interest really quickly. There's a long list of people who can attest to that. Taylor, Kendall, Xander, do I need to go on?"

"I know, okay? I'm a bastard in the love department," Harry says, a fact he's all too aware of.

"Yeah. You have been at times but it's not like it's intentional, Harry. You were so young while involved with these people and you made some mistakes. It didn't help you were living in a fish bowl, your every move scrutinized by the media. Don't be so hard on yourself, yeah? You've learned from your mistakes and you're a really good person, Harry. I love you to death and so do a lot of other people. When the right person comes along and you're ready for a real, lasting relationship...it'll all work out," Nick says, a reassuring smile on his face.

Harry sighs and sits back in his chair, biting down on his lip while staring at a spot on the wall just above his laptop, "Nick...I'm tired of messing around. It's not fun anymore. I want a real relationship. I want someone I can count on. I want to know someone is waiting for me at the end of the day when we're both done work. I'm sick of being lonely."

Nick stares at him through the screen, a small smile on his lips, "Sounds like you're finally ready to settle down."

"Great," Harry says sarcastically, "I'm ready to have a lasting relationship and the first person I'm really attracted to in a very long time is a guy I haven't met yet, who is in all likelihood completely straight. Fantastic."

Nick laughs and shrugs his shoulders, "Can't help you out with that one. All I'm going to say is, on the off chance that the guy is into blokes too, don't mess with his heart, yeah? Remember there's an innocent kid involved this time. If you get into something intense and then walk away...well, Niall won't be the only one you're leaving behind."

They say their goodbyes not long after that and once Nick is gone and the screen is black, Harry sits there for a long time letting what Nick said really sink in. His best mate wasn't wrong. Harry was man enough to admit that, which is a step in the right direction. He knows he's hurt people and it kills him that he did. He was immature and caught up in the whirlwind that was his life during One Direction. He was selfish and all that got him was alone. He was ready for something now, though. Something real and meaningful. Unfortunately that wasn't going to happen if he's too busy crushing over a straight man. Hopefully once he meets Niall and they become friends, he can let that crush go. Hopefully.

 

~~~

"Nialler, sit down mate. You've been running around like crazy for the past few days. Relax for a bit," Niall's cousin said from his spot on the couch with a beer in his hand.

"I can't, Deo," Niall paced in front of the coffee table, one hand in his hair as he mentally went over everything he's packed to take to L.A with him, "I'm afraid I'll forget something important."

"You didn't, mate. You made a list of everything and then I checked it over with you three times. You've got everything you need. You shipped your guitars and Mags portable cot and stroller ahead this morning. They'll be there waiting for you when you land tomorrow. All you need to remember now is your passports. Anything else you can buy in L.A if you need to. Chill out," Deo pats the space on the couch next to him, motioning for Niall to sit down.

Niall eventually gives in and sits down next to Deo, taking the beer that was handed to him. He twists the cap off and takes a long drink from the bottle, "I think I'm still in shock. I'm about to leave and play guitar for Harry Styles. You've heard his album. It's sick. I'm going to be playing those songs. In front of thousands of people. What is my life right now?"

Deo chuckles and shakes his head, "I don't know, mate, I just better be invited to the show here in London. I want to see you up there where you belong."

Niall rolls his eyes and rests his neck against the back of the couch, "Not where I belong."

"Don't even start, mate," Deo gives him a look, "The only place you've been happy is on stage playing guitar. Every job you've ever had was simply a means to pay the bills so you could go out at night and play guitar. You had to give that up once Mags came along and I know you don't complain about that because you love and adore your daughter but I for one am glad you're back to doing something you love."

"I'm not doing it yet. I could meet Harry tomorrow and he could hate me for all I know," Niall shrugs his shoulders, "Or maybe he won't like my playing once I'm there in person and trying to learn his songs."

"Stop it would ya? Stop doubting yourself! You're brilliant and the offer that Jeff fella phoned you with is proof of that. Harry went nuts when he heard you play and he clearly made sure to tell his manager to get you on board. You're going to go over there and kill it." Deo says, always Niall's champion, even when they were kids.

"I feel a bit weird staying at his house," Niall says thoughtfully, "Like, I get the whole band bonding thing but I guess I just don't like all the fuss. I don't want people to think I'm taking advantage or something. A hotel would have been fine."

Deo shrugged, "I don't know. Just enjoy yourself, yeah? Learn those songs, get to know the rest of the band, and kick ass! Just do me a favour will ya?"

"What?" Niall asked suspiciously. A favour for Deo could be dangerous.

"Don't go and fall for Styles. He'll only break your heart," Deo says, looking completely serious.

Niall twists his body on the couch so he can look at Deo, an incredulous laugh bubbling up in his throat and escaping him, "What are you on? Do you know him personally then?"

"Obviously not," Deo scoffed, "I see the gossip on twitter and the internet. He's been through a long line of lovers and none of them have anything good to say about him."

"Okay. First of all," Niall holds up a hand to stop Deo from speaking anymore, "It's called gossip for a reason. Second of all, why do you think I'd fall for my boss? I'm not even looking for a hook up these days, let alone a relationship. I have my hands full with Maggie."

"Doesn't matter what your intentions are. You like men and women and when it comes to men, he's your type with his big eyes, dimples and long legs. He could seduce you without even meaning to. He probably does it to people everyday. Just be careful," Deo warned.

"This might be the most ridiculous conversation I've ever had," Niall laughed at his cousin while shaking his head at the madness of it, "I can be in the presence of a good looking person without being seduced. I do it everyday, ya fecker! How many pints have you had anyway?"

"Fuck off!" Deo shoved Niall's shoulder but had a huge grin on his face. The pair of them continued to laugh and joke for awhile, careful not to wake Maggie. She'd be awake soon enough for their early flight to L.A.

"Hey. Thanks for moving in here while I'm away. Didn't want to leave the flat just sittin' here for god knows how long," Niall said to Deo after awhile.

"It's fine," Deo waved his hand in the air dismissively, "Needed to get away from my roommate anyway. Fuckin' lunatic he is. I'd rather stay here and pay rent than there. Just let me know when you're coming back and I'll start looking for a flat of me own."

"No rush. Even when I come back I don't know for how long it'll be. When I'm here you can share my room with me or take the couch," Niall tells his cousin with a smile.

"Thanks, mate. Appreciate it," Deo smiles back.

"Alright. I'm gonna try and sleep some. I'm nervous as fuck about tomorrow," Niall stands up and moves to bring his empty beer bottle to the kitchen. When he comes back, Deo is standing as well so Niall hugs him, says goodnight, and heads off to his bedroom with a pit stop into Maggie's room to check on her.


~~~


Harry stands and surveys the guest room he prepared for Niall for the umpteenth time. The Irishman was due to arrive any minute and Harry just wanted everything to be perfect. Niall's things had arrived yesterday from the airport and Harry wasted no time packing the stroller away into the closet by the front door and taking the cot upstairs to Niall's room. He set it up along with the changing table and rocking chair he had gotten a loan of from James Corden and his wife. If it were up to him he would have went online and bought a whole nursery for Maggie but thankfully Nick pointed out to him how insane that was and how it would send Niall straight back to England without looking back so he settled for borrowing some items from his friends that they weren't using anymore and had put into storage.

Satisfied that everything was okay, Harry headed back downstairs to try and get some work done but it was useless. He was fidgeting too much. He was so nervous to meet Niall. It was ridiculous, yes, but he couldn't help it. Not only was Niall doing him a solid by joining his band and uprooting his life so quickly, but Harry just couldn't get him off his mind. He kept replaying the audition video he sent over and over again and on some passes he simply watches nothing but the way Niall's hands move over the strings of his guitar. The way his fingers gently pick at the strings to coax a soft melody from them, or the way his fingers move over his electric guitar, quick as lightning to illicit the mind blowing solos that make Harry want to jump up and down and head bang. His hands were fucking genius and more than once Harry found himself wishing he was the guitar in Niall's arms, lovingly being caressed and protected.

Then there were his eyes. Sometimes he would pause the video and just stare into his eyes when Niall was looking at the camera. They were an incredible blue, brought out by the colour brown of his hair. Harry wondered if Niall knew how beautiful they were? If anyone has ever told him that? He wondered about the women in Niall's life that were lucky enough to look into those piercing eyes and promptly got jealous and had to think of something else.

It was overwhelming and Harry didn't understand how he could feel a connection with someone he's never met? How the attraction sizzled through his body just from staring at the man through a computer screen? It was all a mystery to Harry since he's never felt this strongly before. He kinda liked it though. Even if it could end up being his downfall.

His phone dinged, letting him know his gate was being opened. That meant the driver was arriving with Niall so Harry jumped up to head out of his office so he could greet his guest at the front door. When he opened the front door he was immediately greeted with the sound of loud, infectious laughter and his eyes immediately found the Irishman at the boot of the car helping the driver get his luggage out. The pair of them were practically doubled over with laughter and Harry was left bewildered by what they could possibly be laughing at.

When all the luggage was out and the driver closed the boot, Niall shook his hand and smiled at him, clearly saying thank you for the ride. The driver smiled in return then grabbed the largest piece of luggage and started wheeling it toward the door where Harry was.

"Good morning, Mr. Styles. Where would you like me to leave Niall's luggage?" The driver asked him.

Harry rolled his eyes and motioned for the driver to just leave it inside the front door, "When are you going to stop calling me, Mr. Styles, Carlos?"

Carlos placed the luggage just inside the door then turned back to wink at Harry, "When it stops annoying you so much!"

Harry laughed and cuffed Carlos lightly across the arm then turned back toward the car just in time to nearly choke on his own spit. Niall Horan was currently bent over inside the backseat, his ass in full view in the tight jeans he was wearing. Could God not have mercy on him right now?? He hasn't had sex in months and he's supposed to look at a perfectly rounded arse and toned, muscular thighs without getting all hot and bothered?? Really??

When Niall stepped back from the car he had a car seat in one hand and closed the door with the other. He turned around and noticed Harry standing there and smiled a bit shyly as he walked toward him. Unfortunately for Harry he was wearing sunglasses so he couldn't see his gorgeous eyes.

"Hello, Niall," Harry smiled at him and held out his hand. Niall reached out with his free hand and shook it, his grip firm but his skin soft except for the calluses on his fingers from guitar playing, "Welcome to L.A. I'm Harry. It's so nice to meet you."

"It's good to meet you, too. Thanks for having me. I'm so happy to be here," Niall said, his accent thick and reminding Harry of home. How could it not when so many Irish people lived in London?

Carlos finished bringing the few bags inside then waved goodbye to them, driving off a second later, "Well, come on in. I want you to completely make yourself at home while you're here. Nothing is off limits."

Niall followed Harry inside and Harry closed the door behind them, "Jesus," Niall looked around appreciatively, "Your house is gorgeous. Don't think this is what I was expecting."

Harry chuckled and let his eyes roam over Niall's face while the other man was busy looking around. He was flawless, "What were you expecting?"

Niall turned to look at him, lifting his sunglasses off his eyes and tucking them into the collar of his t-shirt, "Was expecting something more pretentious to be honest."

Harry's eyes widen and he lets out a loud bark of laughter, immediately covering his mouth when he remembers the baby in the car seat. His eyes move down there as he checks to see if he woke up the baby. Niall notices and chuckles, "Don't worry. She's already awake. This is Maggie."

Harry's heart melted immediately when Niall lifted the car seat up for Harry to get a better look. Maggie was dressed in an adorable pink long sleeved onesie with pictures of unicorns on it. She was looking up at Harry with big blue eyes just like her daddy's and Harry needed to hold her. Now. "Oh she's so precious! Would you mind if I took her out of there?"

"No. Go right ahead. She loves to cuddle. Don't ya Mags?" Niall spoke to his daughter as he laid the car seat on the floor and undid the seatbelt. He lifted her out and kissed her cheek, pretending to nibble on it and making her giggle, "You'd like to meet Harry wouldn't ya my little angel? Yeah. You like meeting people. Like your Dad that way."

Harry stood watching the exchange with a huge smile on his face and a feeling of warmth in his heart. He loved babies- always has- but there was something about a single father that really melted his heart and that was already happening within five minutes of meeting Niall Horan. Harry could already see how in love with her Niall is, how gentle and caring he is while interacting with her. It was so amazing to see and in the back of his mind he could hear a warning voice telling him to be careful and not to get too infatuated with a straight man and his baby but Harry ignored it because it was already happening and he was powerless to stop it.

"Here she is," Niall handed the baby over and Harry carefully took her, immediately cuddling her into him and kissing her forehead. She smelled incredible, just like baby shampoo and baby powder.

"Oh my God. She's so tiny and precious and so cuddly," Harry gushed as Maggie rested her cheek against Harry's chest and started rubbing against him.

"Isn't she??" Niall stood watching with a proud smile on his face, "I'm pretty sure she does that- the rubbing her cheek against your shirt that she's doing- because she's used to my chest hair," Niall says while laughing, "When she was born and her mother fucked off, one of the nurses showed me Kangaroo care. It's where you rest the baby against your bare chest for skin to skin contact. It helps with the bonding process. We still do it now, actually, just because she seems to like it and I like it so why not?"

Harry smiles down at her, his hand cupping the back of her head and completely covering it, "She's absolutely beautiful, Niall. Can I- do you mind if I just keep her here like this for a bit? I've got food in the kitchen. I knew it'd be dinner time in London by the time you got here so I just made a plate of sandwiches and there's cheese and crackers and fruits. Whatever you want really. If you're hungry. I could keep her while you eat."

"That sounds amazing actually. I'm starvin'. I ate on the plane but even first class food isn't very filling," Niall said as he walked next to Harry toward the kitchen, "Thanks for that, by the way. The first class travel. Never done it before. It ended up being much easier with a baby. I was able to recline the seat like a bed and have Maggie on my chest. I covered us in a blanket and we slept for most of it. It was brilliant."

"So she did well on the plane then? I assume this was her first time flying?" Harry asked as he showed Niall where everything was and told him to help himself.

Niall began to make himself a plate while Harry sat down at the table and simply enjoyed the warmth of a baby cuddled into his chest, "First time, yeah. She was so good. Didn't cry. Just a bit of fussing when she was hungry or needed a nappy change."

"Aw are you a good baby, Maggie?" Harry lifted her off his chest and held her in the crook of his arm so he could look down at her face. He tickled her belly a little and she giggled a bit, blowing a spit bubble while she was at it, "Oh my goodness you're so cute! Look at those big, blue eyes and pretty button nose."

Niall sat down at the table to eat his sandwiches, chuckling at Harry over his glass of water, "I'm getting the impression my daughter is going to be spoiled here."

Harry brushed his finger over her cheek and looked up at Niall sheepishly, "Probably. Though if it bothers you I'm sure we can all try to control ourselves."

"Nah. It doesn't bother me. The way I see it, she deserves all the love in the world. I'll probably be a bit careful about material things as she gets older. Don't want a spoiled brat on me hands," Niall says with a laugh, "But cuddles and love? Anyone who tells me that too much is bad for her can fuck off."

Harry lifts his head and smirks at the Irishman, "I think a swear jar may be needed as well. Unless you're aiming for her first word to be fuck."

Niall threw his head back and laughed loudly, his eyes getting all squinty. Harry watched him, watched the sparkle in his blue eyes, watched the dimple come out in his cheek, watched as he licked his lips when he stopped laughing and popped another crisp into his mouth. Harry was completely endeared and all he could hope for is that the fond on his face wasn't showing at all.

"You're right about that. I've got to curb my swearing around her. It'll be hard because I'm Irish but I'll manage it. I'm learning pretty quickly that I'll do anything for that little ray of sunshine." Niall said, smiling fondly at his daughter in Harry's arms.

"Oh! I almost forgot. You were saying you don't find my house to be pretentious," Harry laughed, "How is it then?"

Niall laughed and looked around him a bit before answering, "It's very modern, what I've seen so far, but it feels very homey? That's the vibe I got anyway. I think I saw you on the telly a couple years ago and in the interview you were talking about art and stuff a lot so I think I imagined walking into a place where you'd have expensive shit everywhere for me to break. It was a bit intimidating to think about over the past few days but now that I'm here I don't feel that way at all."

Harry smiled and he could practically feel his own face light up as he looked across the table at Niall. God he needs to get a grip. "Good! I mean it when I say nothing is off limits. The time difference will be bad for a couple days so if you find yourself hungry at four in the morning don't hesitate to come down and get something to eat. There's also the pool outside you can use whenever you want, the gym if you like working out, there's a BBQ if you want to cook anything. If you want to go shopping you can borrow one of my cars or call my car service. Carlos will take care of you."

Niall finished off a sandwich and drank some water before he looked Harry in the eye and smiled, "Thank you, Harry. Really. I was a bit worried what it would be like to stay at your house but you've made me feel really welcome so far, you really put me at ease so...thanks for that."

"You're welcome," Harry looked down at Maggie again, watching her eyes move around the room and her little lips pucker every now and then, before he looked back up at Niall, "You might not think it but you're helping me out a lot. I mean a lot. I'm a bit of a perfectionist sometimes and with only three months before the tour I wouldn't just settle for anybody who could play guitar. We really didn't think we'd find someone so quickly and then there you were and it's all fallen into place."

"I wouldn't say that yet," Niall chuckled a bit uneasily and wiped his mouth with a napkin, "You haven't heard me play in person yet and I still need to learn your songs."

"Are you kidding?" Harry asked incredulously, "You played 'Kiwi' flawlessly. It was sick, Niall. You're going to have no trouble at all. We're lucky to have you."

Niall's cheeks turned the prettiest colour pink and he looked down at his hands on the table, smiling shyly, "It's a great song. Was a pleasure to learn it. I can also relate to the part 'I think she said I'm having your baby' but I really wasn't into it. Not at all."

Harry burst out into loud laughter, Niall joining him immediately after. It felt like a bonding moment between the two of the them and Harry liked it. He liked it a lot. He also liked it when Niall laughed. It was infectious and his whole face lit up. Harry was definitely going to make it his mission to make Niall laugh.

Maggie started to fuss in his arms so he stopped laughing and lifted her up against his chest again, rubbing her back to soothe her, "Sorry Miss Maggie. I didn't mean to disturb you. It's your daddy's fault. He was being funny."

Niall laughed and stood up, bringing his empty plate and glass over to the dishwasher and putting them in, "I actually think it's about time for her bottle. I packed her bottle warmer in my carry on luggage. Do you mind if I set it up in here?"

"Of course not. Do whatever you need to. I'll stay here with Maggie and keep her company." Harry said, smiling reassuringly at Niall.

Niall thanked him then headed back out to the foyer where they left his bags. Harry watched him go then returned his attention to Maggie, humming softly as he rubbed her back to keep her from fussing too much while Niall got her bottle ready. She did quieten down a bit so Harry stopped humming and lifted her out in front of him a bit so he could kiss her cheek, "Daddy will be back any minute now with your bottle, darling. Then after I bet you'll end up having a snooze since it's after dinner time back home."

"Having a nice chat?" Niall asked as he walked back in the kitchen with a smile on his face. He began to set everything up and Harry watched him, impressed by his efficiency. But then again he would be efficient by now wouldn't he? He could probably prepare a bottle in his sleep.

"We are," Harry smiles sweetly at Maggie, "I think she likes me."

Niall laughed and came over to lift Maggie out of his arms, their hands brushing together and giving Harry goosebumps, "I think she does too. You're lucky you don't have long hair like you used to. She's got a strong grip and seems to be fascinated by long hair."

Harry sat back in his chair and watched as Niall got everything ready to feed his daughter. Once the bottle was ready he draped a blanket over his shoulder and held her in the crook of his arm, smiling and cooing at her when she took the bottle immediately. It was a beautiful thing to watch and Harry found himself taking out his phone and taking a picture. When he realized what he'd done he blushed bright red and tried to cover by saying it was a good opportunity for a picture and he'd text it to Niall for him to have. In reality he hadn't been thinking of texting it to Niall at all when he took it. It was just an impulsive thing he did.

"By the way," Niall started as Maggie noisily sucked away at her bottle, "Thanks for letting me send some stuff over yesterday. My guitars arrived safely? You checked?"

Harry chuckled and smoothed his hand over the table, "I opened the cases and checked them out just like you asked. They're perfectly fine. Not a scratch on them."

"Thank God," Niall let out a long breath, "They were my babies before this little one came along. They still are and I can't exactly afford to replace them if they get busted up. Well the acoustic I could but the two electric guitars I got with money that was left to me by an Aunt when she died. I could never afford them otherwise."

"Well rest assured they'll be well taken care of by the crew on the road. I understand instruments having significant meaning. I feel the same way about certain guitars of mine as well," Harry explained, "How long have you been playing?"

"Umm I'd say about thirteen years? My brother got a guitar then decided he didn't want it so I took it and started fiddling around on it. Then I got on YouTube and started watching tutorials so I could learn how to play. I spent a lot of nights and weekends when I was supposed to be doing homework on the computer instead," Niall said.

Harry shook his head and stared across the table at Niall in awe, "You really are something aren't you? Are you telling me you've never had lessons? You taught yourself how to play on YouTube?"

Niall shrugged and gave Harry a lopsided smile, "I guess that is what I'm telling you yeah. I've learned how to read music since then but I still prefer to just pick it up from ear. That's how I learned 'Kiwi'"

"That's absolutely incredible, Niall. Wow," Harry sits back in shock, running a hand through his short hair, "I can't wait to hear you play in person. This is going to be so good. Thank you so much for joining me and my band. We're so lucky to have you."

Niall looked at him with a shy smile on his face and his cheeks tinted red from blushing, "Thank you for inviting me. I'm really excited. Getting to play guitar and actually make a living from it blows my mind. I'm so grateful for the opportunity."

Harry smiles at Niall and Niall smiles back at him, the both of them not saying anything else until Maggie finishes her bottle and Niall is forced to look away. He puts the empty bottle on the table and lifts his daughter over his shoulder to burp her while Harry watches on, completely and totally smitten with the little girl already (and maybe her daddy too)

"She'll usually sleep not long after a bottle. Particularly now since it's almost eight in the evening London time. Do you have somewhere I can lay her down? I could set up the portable cot I sent over for her," Niall says as he continues to burp Maggie.

"Oh!" Harry's eyes widen and he quickly stands up from his chair, "I set that up for you in your room when it arrived yesterday. I also borrowed some things from friends of mine. Their kids are old enough now that they don't need some things and it was just in storage. I got a proper changing table and a rocking chair so you can rock her to sleep if you'd like. I got the baby monitors as well so you can listen for her when you're in another part of the house. I can show you to your room whenever you're ready."

Niall stared at him, clearly surprised by what he just heard, "Harry...wow. You- you didn't have to do that. I hope you know that. I would have been fine in a hotel. It's enough you're letting us stay here."

"I know. I know I didn't have to but I just want all of you to be comfortable here. We don't have much time to get ready for the tour. We're all going to be working hard so I want you guys to be comfortable. One thing you'll learn really quickly about me is my band and my team around me are my family. You're not just employees to me and like I said, you're really helping me out by coming here on such short notice, the least I can do is make sure Maggie is comfortable. Make sure her life is disrupted as little as possible," Harry explained, smiling reassuringly at Niall.

"Thank you," Niall looked at him and smiled gratefully, "I can't wait to meet everybody."

"Good! Everyone else will be here tomorrow so hopefully you'll be settled a bit and not too jet lagged. Do you want to follow me to your room now?" Harry asked.

Niall nodded and stood up with Maggie still over his shoulder. He was finished burping her and was just rubbing her back now while she made snuffly noises against his shoulder. They head back into the foyer where Harry waved off Niall's protests and picked up two pieces of luggage to bring upstairs for him, then they head on up to get Niall settled into his new room.

 

~~~

 

"So he's there then?" Nick asks him through the computer, the smirk on his face making Harry roll his eyes.

"Yes, Nick, he's here. He's settling into his room now, putting his baby to sleep since it's after dinner in London," Harry explains.

"So on a scale of one to ten, how bad are you swooning right now?" Nick asked, a knowing look on his face.

"Oh God," Harry groaned and propped his elbows up on his desk while hiding his face in his hands. He peaked out at the computer screen in between his fingers, "Twenty!"

"Harold!!" Nick says his name in disbelief then bursts out laughing, "My God! I know you said you haven't had sex in ages but try to control yourself a bit."

"It's not even about that, Nick! I barely know him but in the phone conversations we've had and now meeting him I just- there's something about him. He's just fun and easygoing, he has the best laugh, and the way he looks at his baby...God, Nick, he adores that little girl. He's so good with her. I could watch them together all day," Harry gushes, well aware he sounds like a teenager right now but not caring one bit.

"Harry..."

"I know, Nick, okay? I know. The chances of him liking men as well as women are pretty slim. I'm only going to get hurt if I let this develop into something more than a silly crush. I know all this. You don't have to tell me again," Harry says before his friend can lecture him again.

"Alright!" Nick held his hands up in surrender, "I won't harp on it. You're a grown man and you can take care of yourself. We can talk about something else. Me!!"

Harry laughed loudly and shook his head fondly at his friend. Nick's favourite topic is himself and what's going on in his life. Harry didn't mind. There was always something going on and Nick always made him laugh so Harry was happy to listen to him go on for awhile.

They had been talking for almost half an hour and Nick was just finishing a story about Pig having an upset stomach and throwing up on the floor while he was at work and him coming home and promptly stepping in it, when there was a knock on the door and Niall poked his head in, "Hi. If I'm interrupting something I can come back?"

Harry opens his mouth to tell Niall to come on in but Nick beats him to it, "Oi! Is that Niall Horan? Guitar player extraordinaire? Come in! Come talk to me!"

Niall came into the room, his brow furrowed and a bewildered smile on his face, "Um, is your computer talking to me?"

Harry laughs and rolls his chair over while motioning for Niall to grab a chair from in front of the desk so he can join him in front of the computer, "What you're hearing is one of my best mates, Nick."

Niall grabbed the chair and sat down in front of the computer next to Harry, his smile growing as he recognized Nick, "Ohhh hello Nick Grimshaw! Nice to meet ya!"

"He knows who I am! You're hired, Niall Horan!" Nick says loudly, laughing at himself afterwards.

"He was already hired you idiot!" Harry said, rolling his eyes at Nick for what felt like the fiftieth time. A norm for their conversations.

Niall laughed and smiled easily into the camera. Apparently meeting famous people didn't phase Niall. Harry liked that. It seemed Niall was the same easy going guy no matter who he was talking to. Harry liked it a lot.

"I do know who you are. Listen to the breakfast show on me way to work every morning," Niall said, making Nick's face light up like a Christmas tree, "Although you better up your game a bit, Grimshaw. Your competition has brought in the very charming Roman Kemp. He's fun to listen to."

Nick gasped on the screen and his hand flew up to his chest. He looked proper offended and Harry couldn't help the loud, high pitched, squawk of laughter that came out of him. It was his embarrassing laugh but at this point he couldn't be bothered to care that Niall was right next to him and he heard it. The look on his best friends face was too priceless.

"Wait a minute!" Nick held up a hand and looked into the camera with narrowed eyes, "You're bloody Louis Tomlinson in disguise aren't you? Only that prat would say something like that to me!"

Harry is laughing so hard at this point he's wheezing but he can still hear Niall's infectious laughter next to him and it's like music to his ears.

"Don't know who Louis Tomlinson is, mate," Niall tells Nick through his laughter, "But I can assure you I'm not him."

Nick continues to look at Niall through narrowed eyes then the corner of his mouth twitches and Harry realizes he's trying not to laugh. Figures. Nick does love someone who isn't afraid to verbally spar with him.

"Louis is my bandmate," Harry says when he finally stops laughing enough to speak, "From One Direction."

"He's a prat but he keeps me on me toes," Nick says, "Even got in a bit of a twitter fight with him back in the day. Haven't really had anybody to keep me on me toes lately. I think I'll like you being around, Niall Horan."

"Well I hope to be around for awhile. As long as everything goes well," Niall said, humble as can be. He was such a brilliant guitar player and he didn't even know it.

"You will be," Harry says firmly, "Nick, I'll talk to you later. I'm going to show Niall around the house so he knows where everything is."

Nick nods and they all say goodbye, then Harry and Niall leave Harry's office for a tour of the house. Harry already showed him the bedrooms upstairs so now he showed him the sitting room where he watches tv and hangs out when friends are over, the more formal living room he uses mostly when he has parties, his small gym, he'd already seen the kitchen and office so he showed him the laundry room where he could feel free to do laundry whenever he wanted, the bathrooms downstairs, and of course his recording studio.

"There wasn't enough room for recording equipment so when I bought the place I had renovations done and had this huge space built on to the side of the house on the ground floor. As you can see it's not just a recording studio. There's also a huge space so I can set up and practice with a band. Alex has called dibs on that pull out couch over there. Since I don't have enough bedrooms the girls were going to share but Alex prefers it down here. There's a huge tv, a mini fridge, and it's sound proof so if a song strikes him at three in the morning and he wants to write he can plug in his guitar and go to work. He's really good. He was there when I made the album. Worked on it with me. He and Mitch. So if you have any questions at all about what you'll be playing, he can help you," Harry says as he walks around his studio, his hand lovingly grazing over different pieces of equipment. He really loved this space. Some magic had happened here and he hoped even more would happen in the future.

"This is incredible," Niall said in a low voice filled with awe, "I've got some friends in the business- nobody you'd know I don't think, mostly people in Indie bands or other musicians around Ireland. I've been in a few studios but nothing as great as this. It's brilliant."

"Thank you," Harry was pleased that Niall liked it so much, "I put a lot of thought into what I wanted. I wanted to do it right the first time. My house and property in London aren't as big as here in L.A. so I knew if I was going to do this it would be here and I didn't want to be ripping it out and starting all over a few years later."

"Yeah. I get that," Niall nods and looks around at the space appreciatively, "I also get why Alex wants to stay here. If I didn't have Maggie I'd probably be down here too."

Harry laughed and sat down at the keyboards that were already set up. Clare would use them while she was here but she had her own that would go on tour, "Your guitars are over there," Harry tipped his head toward one corner of the room where Niall's guitars were propped up against the wall, still in their cases, "Feel like messing around a bit?"

A huge smile came across Niall's face and he immediately went over to his cases, opening up one of them and taking out his acoustic guitar. He sat down on a stool next to the keyboards and grinned at Harry while he strummed a few chords and did a bit of tuning. Harry couldn't help but watch and admire him. It was incredible the way his face lit up just because he was holding a guitar. He looked so at home with it on his lap, his fingers picking at the strings. He was breathtaking and Harry wanted to kiss him.

"Did ya want to play something together or...?" Niall looks up from his guitar to look at Harry, the blue of his eyes nearly taking Harry's breath away.

"Eventually yeah. Why don't you play something first? Whatever you want. What are you feeling right now?" Harry asks.

Niall barely had to think about it before he nodded and cleared his throat, "I'll play one of me favourite songs of all time. It's called 'Dancing in the Moonlight' "

Harry sits back on his stool, his legs open in front of him and his hands resting on his thighs under the keyboards as he practically holds his breath waiting for Niall to play. Once he does, Harry is immediately mesmerized by the way his fingers attack the strings of his guitar, the way his forearms flex and the veins pop in his hands. That only lasted for a few seconds though because Niall opened his mouth and started singing, his voice loud in the room, reverberating off the walls. It was perfect, it was rough, it was sexy, it was sultry, and Harry very quickly wanted to rip the guitar away from Niall, lift him up off the stool, wrap his thin, toned legs around his waist, and pin him up against the wall to kiss him senseless.

The thoughts Harry was having were like a slap to the face and he drew in a sharp breath, his eyes widening and looking to Niall to see if he noticed. He didn't, thankfully. He was too lost in the song, his eyes closed as he belted it out.

Harry took in some deep breaths to try and get a hold of himself. He was at a bit of a loss because he's never felt a physical attraction to someone this strongly before. It was like he could feel it in his bones, in every crevice of his body. There was nowhere to go, nowhere to hide from it. He wanted the man in front of him, wanted to ravish him and have him screaming his name.

Then, as if that wasn't bad enough, Harry was also attracted to Niall as a person. So far, what he knew about Niall, he really liked and that was worrisome because even if Niall was Bi like him, it would still be a terrible idea to get involved. They worked together, Harry was his boss, and there was too much at stake to let anything happen. Unfortunately, as the song came to a close and Niall opened his eyes to look at Harry, Harry didn't know if he could stop it.

"Niall..." Harry shook his head to gather his thoughts, "What the fuck was that? That was brilliant! You should be competing with me on the charts, not here playing in my backing band!"

Niall scoffed and rolled his eyes, "Don't be ridiculous, Harry. I'm nowhere near that good. Haven't even had any proper training or anything."

"Neither did I! Training means nothing, Niall. Your voice and guitar playing are amazing! Why hasn't a label snatched you up? They'd be crazy not too," Harry says in all honesty.

Niall shook his head and held his hands up in front of him, "Whoa. Even if I'm as good as you say, I just don't want any of that. I prefer to stay in the background. I don't want to be the main attraction."

"You're definitely as good as I'm saying but yeah, I get why you don't want to be in the spotlight. It can get a bit overwhelming sometimes," Harry said, "Anyway, the world's loss is my gain. It's going to be amazing having you with us on stage playing my songs. It's gonna be a great tour."

"I hope so," Niall said with an easy smile, "I'm going to work me arse off to make sure I'm doing my part at least."

Harry smiled wide at Niall and Niall smiled back at him just as wide, "You know what, Niall? I'm not worried about you one bit."

 

~~~


Harry woke up the next morning with an instant smile on his face. How could he not when he had spent the day with Niall yesterday? Niall had decided he was just going to stay awake until at least nine or ten California time so he could get over the jet lag and be on L.A. time so after spending two hours jamming together in Harry's studio, they went into the den and watched half a season of Homeland on Netflix. They ate junk food, laughed at the conspiracy theories they both came up with due to them watching a show about CIA operatives, and even spent some time in between episodes chatting and getting to know each other a bit. It was a pretty good day that only got better when Maggie woke up to be changed and fed and Niall decided to try and keep her up for a bit so she could get on L.A. time as well. Harry spent a good portion of the day with her in his arms at that point, not wanting to give her up and Niall laughing at him for it.

Now as he climbs out of bed and heads into his bathroom for a quick shower, he finds he can't wait to see them both this morning. Niall was like sunshine, always smiling, laughing and generally happy and content and his daughter was the same way. She barely makes a sound except for the cute cooing and giggling she does when Harry makes faces at her. She doesn't cry much and when she does it's not for long. She's such a beautiful, happy baby and Harry suspected it had everything to do with the fact she had such an amazing father.

When he was finished his shower he towel dried his hair a bit then threw on some boxers and an old t-shirt and shorts then headed downstairs to start on some breakfast. When he passed Niall's room the door was wide open and Niall and Maggie were nowhere in sight. Harry wasn't surprised. It was just after eight in the morning which meant it was late afternoon in England. Niall and Maggie were probably awake for hours by now.

Before he went downstairs Harry couldn't help but smile at the sight of Niall's room. The bed was neatly made and his suitcase was laying open on the floor with his clothes all neatly folded and packed in perfectly. It was the same thing with the suitcase next to it that was full of baby clothes. Harry couldn't help but coo because he adored babies and he adored baby clothes even more. He constantly bought stuff for his godchildren all the time, probably going a bit overboard with the designer outfits but he was a proud godfather. Sue him.

He finally made his way downstairs and into the kitchen, seeing that Niall had clearly already been in here. There was an empty bottle on the counter and an empty bowl of cereal in the sink. When he walked over to the glass doors that led outside to the pool, he could hear Niall talking and laughing so he immediately slid the door open and went out in his bare feet, his heart absolutely melting when he saw Niall laying on his back on a blanket on the grass with Maggie held up above him and giggling and shrieking at her daddy.

"Good morning," Harry walked over to them with a big smile on his face and took a seat next to Niall on the blanket. He got a good look at Maggie and turned into a cooing mess because she was dressed in the cutest yellow t-shirt and shorts set that had my little pony on them and she was wearing an adorable sun hat to protect her face from the sun, "Well hello there Miss Maggie. Don't you look the cutest this morning? My goodness!"

"Mornin'" Niall laughed and sat up, standing Maggie up in his lap to face Harry, "She smells like a coconut right now. I might have overdone it with the sunscreen."

"Never," Harry smiled at Niall then made a face at Maggie and held his hand out for her to grab his fingers, "The sun is hot in L.A. it's good to protect her. Where did you get the tiny little sun hat? Oh my God my heart can't handle it!"

Niall laughed and kissed Maggie's cheek, "I know! She looks so cute doesn't she? It's the first time she's wearing it. My cousins girlfriend bought it for her when I told them I was coming to L.A. along with a ton of new outfits so she'll look stylish in the sun. I swear to god between my brother's wife, my cousins girlfriend and my other friends, Maggie is the best dressed baby in London. I don't think I've even bought any of her clothes. We got it all from friends and family when they threw Ashley a baby shower. That's Maggie's Mum."

Harry hummed and ran his thumb over the soft skin on Maggie's little hand, "She's not any sort of Mum in my book. It would take a thousand men and the jaws of life to rip me from my child." Harry says, his eyes tearing up just at the thought of it, "I'm sorry. That's- none of my business. I really have no right to be judging someone I've never met. Please forgive me."

"Nothing to forgive, mate," Niall says, looking at Harry curiously, something in his eyes that Harry can't quite figure out, "I agree with you one hundred percent. I'm pretty sure I could commit murder without a second thought if anyone ever hurt Maggie. I'm actually trying to save money to get a lawyer so I can have legal papers stating that Ashley abandoned her daughter so she has no legal claims to her if she comes sniffing around in the future. Maggie is my daughter and nobody else's."

God. Harry could feel his heart beating faster as he looked into Niall's eyes and saw the intensity there, the fierce protectiveness he felt for his daughter. It was so attractive to Harry, meeting another man who felt as strongly about kids as he did. Harry planned to have a bunch when he was older and got his shit together and found someone he wanted to settle down with.

"I think that's a really smart thing to do," Harry says, clearing his throat and somehow managing to break his eyes away from Niall's, "I mean, I don't know Ashley but if you think it's possible she might try and cause trouble in the future I think you're doing the right thing by protecting Maggie."

"Thank you," Niall says quietly, almost a whisper, "Thank you for saying that. The truth is...I struggled with it. I'm still struggling with it because part of me thinks I should be trying to find Ashley and see if I can talk her into being a part of her child's life, for Maggie's sake. People have said to me if Ashley gets in touch someday and has her act together, wouldn't it be nice for Maggie to have her Mum in her life? I just- I don't trust her, ya know? Not after she just up and left so easily like her own flesh and blood meant nothing. I'm afraid if she does come back and I let her in, Maggie will get attached and then Ashley will leave again. I can't risk that."

Harry's heart flutters again and he knows this is probably bad for him. He knows that every second that goes by, every smile he coaxes out of Maggie, that he's slowly getting attached to a child that isn't his and a man that also isn't is and may not even like men in the first place. He knows all this, so why can't he stop himself from getting pulled in? Why is it so hard for him to just get up and go inside? Be a good host but keep his distance? Why, why, why?

"I get it. Obviously I've never been in the situation you've been in but I know without a shadow of a doubt that if Maggie were my child I would do the exact same thing. I would do whatever I had to to protect my child. You're a great Dad, Niall. I can already tell and I've only just met you. Maggie is very lucky to have you," Harry says sincerely. He wants Niall to know how good he's doing. He doesn't want him to doubt himself.

Their eyes meet again and something passes between them that Harry can't explain. He knows Niall feels it too because he clears his throat and quickly looks down at Maggie who is bouncing slightly on her bare feet, "Thanks, Harry. That- that means a lot. I'm doing the very best I can and...it's just nice to hear that I'm doing okay."

Harry smiles and reaches over to place a reassuring hand on top of Niall's. The moment he does, Niall looks up at him again and for just a moment Harry thinks he sees Niall's eyes widen slightly. Like maybe the physical contact is making his heart beat wildly just like Harry's. When Harry blinks and looks again, Niall is just looking at him normally with a smile on his face. Obviously it was all just wishful thinking on Harry's part.

"So," Harry clears his throat and pulls his hand back, "I was going to make pancakes with some fresh fruit on top for breakfast. Would you like some?"

"I'd never turn down pancakes," Niall says with a laugh, "Actually, I'd never turn down food period. I had a bowl of cereal earlier while Maggie had her bottle. That was three hours ago though."

"Been up since five?" Harry asks and Niall nods, "Jet lag. I'm so used to it now that I get over it quickly. You will too."

"Here's hoping!" Niall says then effortlessly stands up with Maggie in his arms. Harry finds it sexy. He shouldn't. "I'm going to go upstairs and change this little one. I'll be back down in a few minutes. I can give you a hand then."

"Sure, if you want. You don't have to though. I've got it covered. Do you want blueberries in your pancakes? We can have strawberry and banana on the side," Harry says.

"That sounds incredible," Niall says with a happy sigh, "I'll be right back."

Harry watches as Niall walks toward the sliding doors that lead into the kitchen. His feet are bare and his shins are quite skinny, his knees a bit knobby but up further his thighs are strong and toned and his black shorts cling to his ass like they were made specifically for it. It's an incredible ass, the perfect size to fit in the palms of Harry's hand, the perfect size for Harry to grab onto and pull Niall up against his own body. "Fuck," Harry whispered and forced himself to look away as Niall disappeared inside the house. The physical attraction was taking Harry over and his dick was about to get very interested if he didn't stop this right now.

Taking some deep breaths, Harry managed to calm down and head inside the house himself. The smell of coconut sunscreen still in the air as he began to prepare the pancakes.


~~~


Niall shut the bedroom door behind himself and pressed his back against it while taking a deep breath. He came up to put Maggie down for her nap and told Harry he was going to lay down for an hour himself. Harry had smiled his big smile at him and wished him a good nap and now Niall felt a little guilty for lying to him. He wasn't actually planning on taking a nap. Or he wasn't at least. Who knows? Once he lays down he might end up falling asleep. The real reason he told Harry that, though, was because he needed to get away from Harry for a bit. The way his body was reacting to every little thing Harry did was starting to get out of hand and Niall was getting worried he was going to do something embarrassing he'd never be able to come back from.

"Your Daddy is an idiot, baby girl," Niall says quietly to his already half asleep daughter, "He seems to have a bit of a crush on Harry. You understand don't you? I know you do because your eyes light up whenever he comes into the room and you never hesitate when he wants to hold you."

Niall thought about the way Maggie reacted to Harry while he laid her in her cot and hummed quietly as she drifted off. It was absolutely adorable the way Harry couldn't stop cooing at her and wanting to hold her and it was even more adorable the way Maggie easily melted into Harry when he did hold her, her tiny hand patting at his cheek and her fingers playing with the tiny curls of hair at the base of Harry's neck. They hadn't been here that long yet it was already fucking with Niall's heart and his head. Something Niall couldn't allow to happen.

Once Maggie was asleep he fell back on his own bed and took out his phone to call one of his best friends. He needed a female perspective on this and he trusted Laura with his life. It was getting late in London, almost ten, but Laura would definitely still be awake so he didn't hesitate to click on her name and wait for her to pick up.

"Well hello there!" Laura picked up on the second ring sounding just as awake as Niall knew she would be, "How's L.A. so far?"

"Laura," Niall whined, "I'm so fucked."

Laura is quiet for a few seconds then she starts laughing loudly, "Oh my God!" She manages to spit out while laughing, "Have you succumbed to the charm that practically oozes out of Harry Styles?"

Niall groans and rolls over onto his stomach, burying his face in the pillow, "Laura this isn't funny. I'm being serious. I need you to stop laughing."

She must hear something in Niall's voice because she stops laughing immediately and Niall can hear her shuffling around, like she's settling in for a long conversation, "What's going on, love? Are you okay?"

"No," Niall whined like a child again, "I don't know what's wrong with me. I've only been here for twenty-four hours and I can't get Harry off my mind. There's this- this tension in the room whenever we're together - "

"Good tension or bad?" Laura interrupts him to ask.

"Sexual tension!" Niall hisses into the phone and he hears Laura say a soft 'oh', "and I think he feels it too because we've both gotten caught looking at the other for too long and so far one of us just brushes it off and changes the subject. Laura, what is wrong with me? I mean, I know I haven't had sex in awhile. Even the last time I did it wasn't that great. I was with Ashley for all the wrong reasons and I think we both just went through the motions when we did it. Am I just extremely horny or something? Should I ask Harry to babysit and go get laid? I'm losing me fucking mind."

"Niall! Sweetie! Slow down. Take some breaths for a minute," Laura says in a soothing voice. Niall does what she says until his breathing matches hers and he's calmed down a bit, "So you're attracted to Harry Styles. Who isn't? You've been attracted to people before, though, so why are you freaking out now?"

"He's my boss, for starters," Niall said into the phone quietly. He didn't want to wake Maggie or risk Harry hearing if he walked by, "Also, this feels...I don't know, heavy? There's something different about this. It doesn't feel like just a mutual attraction at a club then you take that person home and part in the morning without even knowing their name. I- he's not how I was expecting him to be. I'm a bit thrown here."

"What do you mean he's different than you were expecting?" Laura asks.

Niall sighs again and rolls over onto his back, "I was expecting him to be more like a celebrity. Maybe a bit cocky and pretentious but he's not. Not even close, Laura. He's so down to earth. He cooks and cleans up, there's not some big staff of maids and a cook here, he's really smart, easy to talk to, and he absolutely adores Mags. He holds her every chance he gets and cuddles her- which she loves by the way- and he dotes on her, talks about how much he loves kids and wants a bunch someday. He's just...perfect and I can't afford to get caught up in this silly crush I have on him. I have to learn his songs and pull my weight to go on tour. I can't stand there drooling over him. I need this job. I can't fucking screw it up."

"Oh Niall, honey, that is not going to happen. If there's one thing I know about you it's that you love Maggie with all your heart and soul. You would do anything for her and just because you're attracted to Harry doesn't mean you'll lose your focus. You took that job not only for yourself because your passion is playing guitar, but you took it to provide for your daughter. Nothing will keep you from doing that. You're a great father, Niall, and if I need to remind you of that everyday I will. Don't doubt yourself. You're going to be fine." Laura assured him, her voice so confident that Niall began to calm down a little.

"You're right," Niall nodded his head, "You're absolutely right. I'm twenty-three years old, not eighteen. I'm a responsible adult and a father. I would never allow anything or anyone to distract me from taking care of her. Thanks, Laura. I needed to be reminded of that I guess."

"I know. You doubt yourself sometimes. I imagine all parents do, even ones who aren't doing it on their own. Your friends are here for you, though. Remember that, yeah?" Laura said, her voice sounding light again, "Oh and this attraction you have to Harry? If he's feeling it too, what's the harm in having a bit of fun while on tour? You're two consenting adults aren't you?"

Niall's eyes widened and he opened his mouth to yell at Laura but stopped himself before he ended up waking Maggie, "You are such a bitch sometimes!"

Laura cackled and Niall wished he could go through the phone and smack her, "I imagine he's even sexier in person than he is on tv. Come on, Niall! He's tall and has big hands. I happen to know you like that in a man."

"Laura!!! He's my boss and how do you know he even likes men? He probably doesn't," Niall hissed, his face turning red thanks to his mind wandering to how big Harry's hands are.

"Oh please," Laura snorted, "I mean, as far as I know he's never actually come out and said 'Woohooo I'm Gay' but it's like the world's worst kept secret that he's into both men and women. He has to be. There's no way he isn't. You said yourself there was a sexual tension between you two."

"Whatever," Niall said hastily, "I'm not putting the moves on my boss. I've got to go now. I'll talk to you again soon."

"Alright love," Laura chuckled, "Call me if you need me and give my goddaughter a kiss for me please! Oh and send lots of pictures! I miss her so much."

"I will. Video too," Niall smiles fondly at his friend, "Love you."

"Love you, too," Laura says, then they hang up and Niall lays on the bed for the next thirty minutes, lost in thoughts of Harry. His eyes, his lips, his fucking dimples, his hands.

"Fuck. I need to get up and get my mind on something else," Niall muttered to himself. He pushed himself up off the bed and checked on Maggie who was still fast asleep then put his phone in his pocket and decided to head downstairs.

When he got to the bottom of the stairs he heard voices coming from the back of the house where the den was so he headed that way and kind of shyly poked his head in to see if Harry was in there. He was indeed but that's not who he focused on. A girl with blondish colour hair stood out to him and he momentarily forgot his manners and walked into the room pointing at her, "I know you! I've met you before haven't I?"

The woman laughed and stood up to walk over to him, "Yes! I'm Clare! Stephanie's friend!"

"Oh Jesus!" Niall laughed and reached out to hug her, "I didn't remember you by name when you called but I remember your face."

"No worries! It was a long time ago," Clare said, laughing and hugging Niall tight, "I'm so glad you decided to join us. This is going to be an amazing tour."

"I wouldn't be here if not for you so thank you," Niall smiled wide, happy to see a familiar face.

"Nonsense!" Clare stood back and held Niall at arms length, "I simply told Harry you existed. You got the job because of your mad guitar skills. Harry showed us your video that you sent, so we'd know what to expect. When you broke out Kiwi I fucking lost it. Jumped up off the couch, my laptop went on the floor. Then I called Sarah screaming."

"She did. So I watched and then I started screaming too,". A brunette woman stepped forward and held her hand out to Niall, "I'm Sarah, Harry's drummer."

Niall smiled at her and shook her hand, "Niall. It's really nice to meet you."

"Likewise. We all know how lucky we are to have found you so this tour can go ahead like normal. We're happy to have you here. I can't wait to work with you," Sarah said, a kind smile on her face.

Niall blushed and finally turned to look at Harry which was a big mistake. He was beaming at Niall, his dimples on full display and he looked proud. Niall wanted to kiss him until he fell to his knees weak.

"Niall! I'm so glad you came down when you did. You've met the girls now and Alex will be here later. He's coming in time for dinner. I thought we could all have dinner together, maybe a few drinks and get to know each other. Jeff said he'd stop by with his fiancée to say hello if that's alright with you?" Harry asked.

"Of course," Niall smiled easily, trying to forget he was just thinking about having Harry on his knees, "It's your house. You should invite whoever you want. I like meeting new people."

"Hmm. In that case maybe I'll see if James and Julia can make it? It's short notice but you never know," Harry said thoughtfully.

"Oh yes!" Clare clapped her hands excitedly, "Niall you have to meet James. You'll love him! You've heard of James Corden right?"

"Heard of him??" Niall spluttered, "He's bloody brilliant! I watch all the carpool episodes on YouTube." He turned to Harry, "You're friends with James Corden??"

"I am," Harry laughed, "He's like a big brother to me. We met when I was on the x-factor with One Direction and he kind of adopted us all. He's been there since the beginning of my career. Seen me at my best and at my worst. I'll text him right now and see if they can make it."

Harry took out his phone to text while Niall took a seat with the girls on the couch, "You'll get used to the famous people being around eventually," Clare says to him, "Although to be honest, I'm still not over the fact I got to sit on that stage playing while Harry and Stevie Nicks sang together. That was the most amazing night of my life."

"I saw pictures of that somewhere. She's one of my faves. That must have been sick," Niall gushed, completely in awe of the fact that he'd have to get used to famous people being in his life now.

"Alright, so, James is going to see if they can get a babysitter and let me know. Hopefully they can make it. If not we'll plan something for next week and give them lots of notice," Harry says, his eyes practically sparkling. Clearly Harry was in his element when he had people around him. When he was being a host and taking care of people. Niall liked seeing him like this. He liked it a lot, "So, you guys seem to be getting along well."

"We are. I think we're all going to mesh really well. I can tell Niall is laid back and just goes with the flow," Sarah says, an easy smile on her face.

"That's me in a nut shell actually," Niall laughs.

"When are we going to meet your adorable baby?" Clare asks, clearly itching to get her hands on the little one.

"As soon as she wakes up. If you can get her away from Harry. I think they're in love. She just cuddles into him instantly," Niall says, ignoring the flutter in his heart when he thinks about Harry cuddling his little girl.

"We are in love," Harry says seriously, "She farted on me earlier. You know you're comfortable in a relationship when you can fart on a person."

Niall throws his head back and laughs loud and long, Sarah and Clare laughing right along with him. What was he going to do with Harry Styles? His daughter did indeed fart on him...right before she did a smelly shit in her nappy. Did that phase Harry? Nope! He simply laughed and stood up, blowed a raspberry on her cheek and asked Niall if it was okay if he went up to his room to change her? Niall said of course and decided to go with them just to make sure Harry didn't have any trouble finding everything. Or at least that's what Niall tells himself. It had nothing to do with wanting to watch Harry play with Maggie's toes and tickle her tummy, all while not even cringing at the smell. That moment was part of what sent Niall into a tailspin and sneaking off to his room a while later to call Laura.

"Do you girls need any help settling in?" Harry asks Sarah and Clare once everyone stops laughing. "I'll at least carry your cases upstairs."

"Oh! Let me help!" Niall stands up and he and Harry head out of the den and down the hallway toward the foyer where the girls cases are sitting by the door. Clare and Sarah follow behind and take their smaller bags and purses.

While Harry shows them their rooms and tells them where everything is, Niall wanders into his own room just in time to see his sleepy girl opening her eyes. She whines when she sees him and he picks her up, chuckling at her pouty face, "Oh look at that cranky face. Someone hates waking up, huh?"

Maggie smacks her lips together and scrunches her nose up, then buries her face against his neck and rubs her face against his skin. He can already feel her drooling on him but he doesn't care. It's all part of being a parent.

"Hi," Harry says quietly from the doorway, "Can I come in?"

Niall smiles at him and waves him in, the both of them sitting down on the couch. Niall still thinks it's wild that there's a couch in a guest room but he's not complaining, "This little miss just woke up. She doesn't like it very much. Takes her a few minutes to fully wake up."

Harry smiles and reaches out to gently smooth his thumb over her soft brown hair, "She's so precious. You're so lucky to have her. She's lucky to have you. Babies are so...innocent aren't they? They have no idea what's going on in this world. I like that."

Niall turns his head to look at Harry and that's a big mistake. Harry is closer to him than he thought and when Niall turns his head he's looking right into his eyes. They're even greener from up this close and Niall can see tiny flecks of yellow. They're absolutely stunning and Niall doesn't want to look away. He can't look away and when he sees Harry's eyes look down at his lips his heart beats wildly in his chest because if he's not mistaken, Harry wants to kiss him right now. There's no other reason he'd stare at Niall's lips that way is there? Oh God!

In that moment, while Niall is freaking out inside and getting ready to surge forward and say fuck it all and just kiss Harry's plump lips, Maggie starts whining again and they're both snapped out of it, clearing their throats and pretending that nothing happened.

"Is it time for her bottle?" Harry asks, a normal smile on his face. Niall suddenly can't wait to see this film he's in. He's quite the actor to be able to pretend nothing happened so easily. Niall feels like he wants to vomit.

"Yep. She'll be hungry by now for sure," Niall says, smiling through his awkwardness. If Harry could pretend nothing happened so easily then Niall had to as well. It was the only way they could work together.

Harry looks a bit nervous all of a sudden, "Do you- do you think she'd mind if I fed her? It's okay if you say no! I know I keep like, monopolizing your baby. She's just so cute and I adore babies."

"It's okay, Harry," Niall chuckles, "I don't mind. Do you mind, sweetheart? Hmm?" Niall tickles Maggie under her chin, "Want to go with Harry?"

Harry holds out his hands for her and Niall passes her over, completely melting when she immediately burrows into him. Harry looks up at him, his eyes huge and bright, his smile wide, "God, Niall. She's incredible. I'm so excited to have her here. It's going to be so amazing having her with us. I don't know if you realize but we're all going to be around to share in some of her firsts. First tooth, first time she eats solid food, first time she sits up by herself, first time she crawls, it'll be like we're one big family and she's our little baby. I bet even the road crew will fall in love with her."

Niall stares at Harry in wonder, amazed at how much he seemed to care for Maggie already,"I hadn't thought about it but you're right, there will be a lot of firsts while on tour."

Harry smiles softly at him then kisses the top of Maggie's head, "Shall we go downstairs and get this little one her bottle?"

Niall said yes and followed Harry out of the room, the whole time thinking to himself that he's utterly and completely screwed.


~~~


Harry sat at the table after dinner that night, watching and listening to his friends all chatting, laughing and having a good time. It warmed his heart to see it and he was sure the smile on his face was so wide he probably looked like a maniac. He didn't care though. He had a lot to smile about, including the newest member of the group, Niall Horan.

Harry watched him now, sitting across the table from him next to James and Julia. He and James had hit it off within five minutes of meeting and have been laughing together the whole night. Nobody is really sure what they're laughing at most of the time but Niall's laugh is so loud and infectious and James' laugh is so high pitched and hilarious that everybody found themselves joining in, even if they didn't know what for. Right now they were at it again and James was bent over the table, wiping at his eyes as he tried to stop laughing. Unfortunately every time he would slow down to a giggle, he would meet Niall's eyes again and they'd be off, laughing so hard they could barely breathe.

Next to James, Julia had a sleeping Maggie in her arms while she talked quietly with Clare about something Harry wasn't sure of because he wasn't really paying attention. Honestly whenever his eyes wandered over that way he could only see Maggie. Once Clare and Sarah found out the dinner party was definitely a go, they asked Niall if he brought any dresses with him for Maggie. Niall had snorted and showed them the two full cases of Maggie's clothes he had and told them to have at it if they wanted to pick something for her to wear. They picked the cutest little white sundress with pink polka dots and pink head band in her hair even though she barely had any yet. When Harry had seen her he wanted to cry she was so cute and he knew he was in big trouble because he was already in love with Maggie so all that was left to wonder now is how long it would take to fall in love with her Dad?

On his side of the table, Sarah and Glenne were talking and laughing about something and Harry had been talking to Jeff, only half paying attention because he kept staring at Niall, until Jeff stepped inside to take an important phone call from a client.

"Oh God," James gasped, his chubby cheeks red from laughing and his eyes leaking tears, "Oh my God! I love this man right here," He said, his hand on Niall's arm, "I love him and I need to have him on my show. I don't care if nobody knows who he is. I need him on my show."

Harry laughed and took a sip from his bottle of beer, "Talk to Ben. See what the two of you can come up with."

"That is a brilliant idea, Harold," James points a finger at him, "I already have ideas. We can do some sort of skit and I'll need an audience member to participate. Niall can be in the audience and I'll pick him!"

Niall threw his head back and laughed while Julia tuned into the conversation and scoffed, "You're drunk, darling. Stop trying to drag poor Niall into your shenanigans."

"But Jules, he wants to be involved in my shenanigans!" James protested.

Niall looked around James to Julia and smiled fondly when he saw Maggie fast asleep and tucked into Julia, "She fall asleep on ya? You should've said something. I can take her up to bed."

Julia smiled and looked down at Maggie, "I didn't want to say anything. She's so precious. Such a cuddler. I just want to keep her with me always."

"Oh God," James' eyes shifted to the side a bit, "Look what you've done, Niall Horan. My wife is going to want another kid now. Ours aren't as well behaved as yours. They take after me that way."

"Isn't that the truth!" Julia says, making Niall and Harry laugh.

"You seem to be enjoying yourself, Niall. I can take her up to bed for you if you like. It's no trouble," Harry offers.

Niall looks like he's about to say no, it's okay, because he doesn't seem too used to people doing stuff for him, but then James speaks up and tells him to let Harry put the baby to bed because he has another story from the show he wants to tell him so Niall agrees and Harry happily goes around the table to take Maggie from Julia and nestle her in the crook of his arm to bring her upstairs.

When they get to Niall's room she stirs a little bit, looking up at Harry with her big, beautiful blue eyes. Harry smiles down at her and talks to her softly as he lays her on the changing table to take her out of her dress. He checks her nappy since she had her bottle right before she fell asleep in Julia's arms and changes it since she did a bit of wee. Once that's done he puts her in the onesie Niall had folded neatly on top of the table then he picks her up and brings her over to the rocking chair where he sings softly to her to lull her back to sleep.

She seems to be out pretty soundly again within five minutes so Harry carefully stands up to put her in her cot, gently kissing the top of her head and whispering, "Goodnight sweet one, sleep tight."

When he turns around to quietly tip toe out of the room, he's startled a bit by Niall standing in the doorway, looking at him so intensely it nearly takes his breath away, "Niall. I- I didn't hear you come in."

Niall clears his throat and held up Maggie's pacifier that was in his hand, "I saw this fell off the table and onto the ground. I washed it and brought it up in case you needed it but it looks like Maggie stayed asleep and doesn't want it."

Harry walked toward the door and they both move out into the hallway, closing the door to Niall's room halfway, "Yeah. She- she kind of woke up a bit while I was changing her but she fell right back to sleep."

Niall simply stands there staring up at Harry, the blue of his eyes a little darker than normal as he continues to look at Harry intensely. He's breathing faster than normal- Harry can tell by the way his chest is moving up and down and he wonders if it's because he feels the electricity between them the way Harry does? If he feels the tension in the air and wants to do something about it as badly as he does?

"You're so good with her. It's amazing," Niall finally breathes out, his voice barely above a whisper.

Harry steps closer to Niall, nearly boxing him in against the wall. He licks his lips and watches as Niall's eyes follow the movement. Watches how his pulse jumps in his throat.

"Well..." Harry steps closer yet again, towering over Niall, "She's pretty amazing isn't she? So are you."

Niall's lips part and he stares up at Harry with such intense passion and lust in his eyes that Harry has to stop himself from lunging forward and pinning Niall against the wall. Instead, he lifts a hand to cup Niall's cheek, practically preening inside when Niall's eyes flutter shut and he presses his cheek into his hand.

"Niall..." Harry murmurs as he leans in closer, their lips mere inches apart when there's a crash at the end of the hall followed by James' high pitched laughter. Harry and Niall immediately jump apart and Harry is rushing down the hall to grab James and haul him into his bedroom with a hand over his mouth.

"James!" Harry hisses, "Keep it down or you'll wake the baby!"

James' eyes widen and his mouth forms an O shape, "Shit! Sorry!" He whisper yells, "I was coming up to find Niall but I think maybe I've had a bit too much wine."

"I think so, yes," Harry can't help but chuckle, "Come on. Let's go back downstairs with everyone else. You won't drink anymore. You'll sober up a bit so you can enjoy yourself without knocking anything over."

James agrees and Harry leads him out of his bedroom with an arm around his waist. When they get into the hallway, Niall is nowhere to be found.


~~~


Niall didn't know what to do after the almost kiss with Harry in the hallway. So he did nothing and snuck back downstairs while Harry dealt with James in his bedroom. For the rest of the night Niall made sure he was busy talking to other people and messing about with James, then when it was late and James, Julia, Jeff and Glenne were all leaving, Niall said his goodbyes and took off upstairs to bed while Harry was seeing them out.

Now it was the next day and Niall still hasn't faced Harry yet. He woke up early since he still wasn't over the jet lag and has his breakfast in the kitchen before Harry even woke up. After that he got Maggie's stroller out and took a walk around the
Posh neighbourhood Harry lived in and enjoyed the sunshine and heat. He keeps an eye on the time because he knows the first band meeting is today and Niall is going to start learning the songs with Alex. He won't be late for it but he's trying to time it so he gets back just in time so that everyone is there and Harry can't corner him. It's immature, he knows, but he's honestly afraid if he's alone with Harry right now he'll climb him like a tree.

Unfortunately Niall knows he can't avoid Harry forever so when he gets back to the house and heads into the kitchen for some water, finding Harry there making tea, he steels himself to deal with the talk they're going to have to have. To his surprise it doesn't come. Harry just smiles at him and explains there's some people in the den he'd like him to meet and asks him if he'd like tea?

Confused but grateful, Niall decides to just go with it and smiles back at Harry awkwardly while holding up his bottle of water, "No, thanks. I'm fine."

Harry nods and arranges three cups of tea on a try with milk and sugar then motions for Niall to follow him to the den. When they get there Niall is greeted by two smiling women and a child who looked to be around five or six years old. Niall smiled at everyone and took a seat in an armchair while Harry handed out the tea.

"Niall," Harry says when he sits down with his own tea, "I'd like you to meet Louise Teasdale. Everyone calls her Lou. She's my hairstylist."

Niall smiles at her and does a little wave because he's an idiot, "Hello. It's nice to meet you."

"You, too, Niall. I've heard all about your brilliant guitar skills. Can't wait to hear you out there on tour," Lou says, a huge smile on her face, "This little brat here is my daughter, Lux."

Lux rolls her eyes dramatically at her mother and comes over to say hello to Niall. She shakes his hand and Niall has to stifle a laugh. She's too cute! "I'm not a brat, by the way."

"You look lovely. It's nice to meet you, Lux. I love your name," Niall says, smiling fondly at the child.

"Thank you," Lux giggles and blushes a little, as if she had anything to do with picking the name, then traipsed back over to sit by her mother on the couch.

Harry chuckles at the little girl and Niall can easily see by the smile on his face and the way he looked at Lux that she was very important to him, "Niall, this other lovely lady here," Harry gestures toward the dark haired woman on the couch with Lou and Lux who looked to be in her forties, "Is Jessica. She's Lux's nanny and will be coming on tour with us since both of Lux's parents work on my team."

"Hello, Jessica. It's good to meet you," Niall smiles at the friendly looking woman.

"I asked them all to come today because I mentioned to you that Maggie would have a nanny to help look after her while you're busy working on tour. Jessica is that nanny and I thought she could get to know Maggie a bit today while we're all working in the studio? Lou and Lux are sticking around too. Miss Luxie wants to use the pool, don't you darling?" Harry smiles at the little girl.

"Yes!" Lux cheers happily, "Don't get to swim too much at home."

Everyone laughs then Harry turns back to Niall, "Would that be okay with you? Maybe Jessica could take Maggie outside to watch Lux swim."

Niall nods his head and is thankful Harry arranged all this. He hadn't even been thinking about who would look after Maggie all day while he's working with the band to learn Harry's songs. "Yes, that would be great. She's sleeping right now. She's just in her stroller right outside in the hallway. I didn't want to bring her in and risk us waking her while we talked."

"We can leave her in the stroller for now. I'll bring her outside with me and we'll sit under one of the large umbrellas in the shade until she wakes up," Jessica says with a smile on her face, "Do you have sunscreen for her?"

Niall nodded, "Everything is in her nappy bag under the stroller. I put some on when we went out for a walk but definitely reapply before she's in the sun again."

"Absolutely," Jessica smiled, "Don't worry about a thing, Niall. I've got tons of experience and my own kids are all grown up now. I've also been taking care of Lux since she was Maggie's age. Went on tour all over with One Direction. Your daughter is in good hands."

Niall smiled and dipped his head a bit in embarrassment. He didn't doubt this woman was more than qualified and he found he trusted Harry in this matter even though they only just met. It was just hard for him to give up control of Maggie's care when it's the first time he'll be doing it. Except for his cousin Nancy taking care of her while he was at work back in London.

"Sorry," Niall shrugged sheepishly, "This is just the first time I've left her with someone who isn't my cousin. I have complete faith you'll take good care of Maggie. If you need anything or have questions you know where to find me."

Jessica smiled reassuringly at Niall, then everyone stood up and started exiting the den, Jessica bending down to coo at the sleeping Maggie in her stroller, "I think I'll come get you when it looks like she's waking up. It might startle her to wake up and not see anyone she knows."

"Oh! Yes, I never thought of that," Niall said, his eyes going wide, "I'll have my phone in my pocket on vibrate. You can text me?"

Jessica nodded and took out her phone to add Niall's number then she headed on outside with Lou and Lux while Harry and Niall headed to the studio.


~~~


The next week leading up to the beginning of July is pretty crazy busy for everyone. The band is rehearsing a lot of hours everyday, helping Niall to learn the songs enough so that they can rehearse together without Harry when he has to leave to promote his film. Harry hated having to leave but it is what it is and he's just lucky his band was willing to come together in L.A and put in all this rehearsal time when they were supposed to be off, doing their own thing, visiting family, taking a holiday. They could have easily complained but they didn't. Everyone came together as a family when Mitch got hurt, they all sat around the hospital for days waiting for him to be out of the woods, and they all didn't hesitate to stay in L.A. after the accident and wait for Harry and Jeff to decide what to do about the tour. When it was decided Niall would be brought in, they were all for it and were now working their asses off to help him and get everything exactly where it should be in terms of the band. Harry couldn't love them all any more if he tried.

Then there's Niall. He only arrived a week ago and before that Harry had only had a few phone conversations with the man but still he can't seem to get Niall off his mind. He'd had a week of tossing and turning in his bed, unable to get Niall's smile out of his head or the way he sounded when he laughed. He could swear he smelled Niall's cologne on his sheets yet Niall had never even been in his bedroom. He was going out of his mind and the sexual tension was only getting worse. Harry honestly didn't know what to do. He's never felt this strongly about someone before.

Even now as Harry runs on his treadmill listening to music from his phone he can't get Niall out of his head. He's thinking about their very first rehearsal as a band, the day after they almost kissed. They didn't do anything too drastic, wanting to ease Niall in instead of bombarding him with everything all at once. Then Alex suggested they try Kiwi since Niall already knew that one anyway. Niall gamely agreed and off they went.

Of course as always with this song, no matter where Harry is, he rocks out to it and gets fully into it. It was during the guitar solo when Harry was jumping around that his eyes met Niall's and the electricity that seemed to pass between them felt like it hit Harry like a ton of bricks. He couldn't look away and neither could Niall it seemed. By the end of the song Harry was out of breath for more than one reason.

Harry knows he should be a proper adult and talk to Niall. They should discuss what happened- what's happening- between them. He doesn't know exactly what Niall is feeling but for him the attraction runs deeper than just the physical. Yes, Niall is hot and perfect in Harry's eyes but he's also attracted to Niall's personality as well. In only a week they've had some great, long conversations about everything from music to babies to life in general. The conversations always came easily, starting out of nowhere and before they know it they've been talking for two hours. Unfortunately, as easy as it all feels, it really is complicated because Niall works for him and he has a baby daughter that he has to think about. Harry would like to believe that's why he hasn't spoken to Niall. Not the fact that he's being a coward.

Even though he has his earbuds in he's still startled by a loud voice yelling hello and nearly stumbled off his treadmill into a heap on the floor. Cursing under his breath he turns off the machine and turns around to find Louis Tomlinson standing in the doorway with a shit eating grin on his face.

"Oi! Hello Harold!" He says once he has Harry's attention, "Long time no see."

Harry is shocked but happy to see Louis. He hadn't seen him since December when his Mum passed away. After that Harry was so busy getting his album finished and doing promo. He was glad to see him now though. They went through a period where their friendship suffered a bit. They were inseparable for the first two years of the band but then Larry became too much and Louis resented all the hate Eleanor was getting. He and Harry drifted apart even while still in the same band but during their last album before the hiatus they slowly started to drift back together and even though they don't see each other much they text all the time now and it felt good.

"Louis! Hi! What are you doing here?" Harry asked, rushing over to Louis and stopping in front of him when Louis held up a hand.

"Stop right there, Harold. You are not touching me when you're all sweaty. Go take a shower then come meet me outside. I've got nothing on today. I'll wait," Louis says.

Harry nods because yeah, he does need a shower. He had been working out for almost an hour so he tells Louis he'll be down shortly and heads upstairs for a quick shower. He takes five minutes to wash the sweat from his body and quickly scrub shampoo and conditioner through his hair, then he's out and drying off, dressing in a pair of shorts and one of his many flowery button up shirts that he only buttons half way up.

When he's done he shoves his phone in his pocket and heads downstairs to find Louis. When he does he's surprised to see he has not only Freddie outside running around in the grass with him but Ernie and Dory too. He opens the sliding glass doors with a huge smile on his face and steps out, calling out to Louis, "Hey! I see you brought some munchkins with you."

While Ernie and Dory don't know him well, they do know him, mostly from Skype, and they come running toward him now, shrieking out his name. Harry squats down and opens his arms to them, hugging them tight and standing up with both of them in his arms, "Well hello there. Fancy seeing you here."

Ernie says hello while Doris giggles and smiles up at Harry. Ernie tells him they came to visit Louis and Louis confirms that when he walks over to them with Freddie in his arms, "I flew the family over for holiday once the younger kids were out of school for the Summer."

"Oh well I'm glad you brought these little ones to see me! It's a nice surprise," Harry says, smiling and then laughing when Doris pokes his dimple.

"Yeah. Sorry I didn't call, mate. I brought these guys out for ice cream and I just decided to come over. I was going to call you after I saw Lou and Lux the other day but I got distracted so when you popped into me head today I just drove on over," Louis explains.

"It's alright. You're always welcome here. You know that," Harry tells Louis.

Louis nods then tickles Ernie and Doris, "How about you guys go play with the toys I brought in from the car? Teach Freddie how to play some games, yeah?"

Harry puts the twins down and they run off with Freddie in tow, babbling all about the toys that were sitting in the middle of Harry's lawn. He smiled at them fondly then turned back to Louis and finally gave him that hug he wanted to give him from the start, "It's good to see you, Louis. I've missed you."

"You too, Haz," Louis says, patting him on the back before he steps away, "You've been quite busy. I see you everyday on twitter in a new ridiculous outfit."

Harry rolls his eyes then leads Louis over to the loungers by the pool. They both get comfortable then Louis speaks again, "How's Mitch? Never met the lad but I know he is important to you. Last we spoke he was out of critical condition?"

"Yeah," Harry nodded, "He's doing okay. Bored. Can't move around a whole lot. It'll be a long recovery but he knows I'm here if he needs anything."

Louis hums and lifts his sunglasses to the top of his head, "I'm glad he'll be alright. I'd say you're left in a bit of a pickle now but Lou tells me you found a new guitarist and she met him last week."

Harry narrows his eyes at Louis and studied his face, "Is that why you're here? Because you're nosy and want to scope out my new guitar player?"

"No, Harold," Louis rolls his eyes and sighs loudly, "I'm here because Lou said you had heart eyes for your new guitar player and I want to see for myself."

Harry let's out a high pitched squeaking noise that sends Louis into a fit of laughter, "Oh my God, Louis!! What the fuck?? What did she say?"

Louis is practically doubled over in half he's laughing so hard and Harry gets impatient so he punches him in the arm which only makes Louis laugh even harder and fall off his lounger. Harry sighs and lays back on his own lounger, his heart racing at the prospect that everyone knows about how he feels about Niall. If Lou noticed it does that mean his whole band noticed it? Has Niall noticed it? Have they all been talking about him behind his back? Making fun of him? Was Niall even attracted to him or was he just pretending when they almost kissed? Afraid Harry would fire him and send him back to England if he didn't play along? The thought of it made Harry sick and Louis must have seen something on his face because while he's pulling himself back up onto his lounger he stops laughing and reaches out to squeeze Harry's arm.

"You okay, mate?"

"Do I look okay?" Harry groaned and covered his face with his hands, "What did she say, Louis?"

Louis frowned, "She came with Lux to cut my hair last week. She said she was here and met your new guitar player and that you were looking at him with heart eyes. That's it. It wasn't a big deal. I'm sorry if I've upset you. You usually just roll your eyes at me when I poke fun at you."

Harry sighed and removed his hands from his face, "This is so screwed up. Why is this happening to me?"

Louis scoffed and sat back in his lounger more comfortably, "You'll have to be more specific, mate. I'm at a loss here."

So Harry explains everything to Louis. Tells him about the immediate electricity between him and Niall, how they almost kissed, how they've spent hours talking and have so much in common, how he's not just physically attracted to Niall, how he seems to really like everything about him, and how nothing can come of it because things were too complicated.

Louis listens to him carefully, then pats him on the leg sympathetically, "Sounds like you really like this lad. Don't think I agree with not doing anything about it though. Who cares if he works for you? You're both adults and if it's mutual then I doubt he's going to sue you for sexual harassment or something."

Harry rolls his eyes at Louis and shakes his head, "That's not what I'm worried about. I like him, Louis. It's not just the sexual tension between us for me but I don't know how he feels. What if we start something? Like a friends with benefits relationship and I end up falling for him and he doesn't feel the same way? I'd get hurt and then it would be so awkward working together. He'd probably quit and not only do I need a great guitarist but he needs the job to support his baby. That's just one of the many scenarios I've been thinking about! So much could go wrong."

Now it's Louis' turn to roll his eyes, albeit more dramatically than Harry, "So much could also go right, Harold. Maybe he likes you just as much."

"Doesn't matter," Harry says quietly, "Things could still go badly and I can't risk that."

Louis sighs and gives Harry an exasperated look, "You're your own worst enemy. You know that right?"

Harry says nothing, just shrugs and gives Louis a 'what else is new?' look. They fall into a comfortable silence, watching the kids playing together and periodically laughing at their antics. Eventually the sliding glass doors open and shut and Harry looks back to see Niall come out with Maggie in his arms.

"Am I interrupting anything?" He asks uncertainly.

Harry smiles at him and beckons him over, "Nope. Come on over and meet my friend, Louis. He's in One Direction with me."

Niall walks over to the loungers and stops in front of Louis', holding Maggie with one arm so he can shake Louis' hand. "Nice to meet ya, Louis. I'm Niall."

"Likewise, mate," Louis smiles up at Niall and Harry can see his friends eyes roaming over Niall, assessing him before they lock on Maggie and he turns into a cooing mess, "Oh my goodness! Who do we have here?"

Niall chuckles and holds Maggie in a way that Louis can see her better," This is my daughter Maggie. She'll be four months old in a few days."

Louis is practically beaming as he reaches up to tickle at the little girls foot, "Hello Miss Maggie. God, she's absolutely adorable isn't she? Look at that cute little sun hat. Would you mind if I held her for a bit?"

Niall shook his head and carefully handed Maggie off to Louis who cradled her in his arms and rocked her slightly while he babbled nonsense to her. Niall smiled wide and sat down on the lounger on the other side of Harry, watching the kids playing, "You have little visitors."

"Yes. The two older ones are Ernie and Dory. They're three. They're Louis' siblings from his Mum and stepfather Dan. The little lad is Freddie, he's Louis' son. He's eighteen months old," Harry explains, a content smile on his face as he watches them.

"Jesus. Freddie's aunt and uncle are only two years older than him. That's something to wrap your brain around innit?" Niall says, his eyes a bit wide as he watches the kids.

"Yeah," Harry chuckled, "I guess it is." He could have gone into the details a bit more but that would require talking about Louis' Mum and Harry didn't really want to go there right now. It still hits him like a knife to the heart sometimes when he remembers she's gone. When he gets nostalgic for the x-factor days he always remembers how enthusiastic Jay was in her support for not only Louis but all of them. He also remembers how close Jay and his own Mum got and how they'd often drive to London together to visit him and Louis when they lived together in a flat. Maybe he'd tell Niall all about it someday but not right now. Instead he asks about his shopping, "Did you have any trouble getting around to the shops?"

"Nah," Niall shakes his head and turns to look at Harry, "Traffic is a bitch but living in London made me used to that. I found everything alright, though. Used the GPS. Thanks for lending me your car."

"Anytime. All you gotta do is ask," Harry smiles at Niall and Niall smiles back at him. They end up staying like that, like they so often seem to do, smiling at each other and looking into each other's eyes until one of them has the sense to snap out of it or someone interrupts them. This time it's Louis who does the interrupting.

"Niall, mate, your daughter is so precious," Louis says, smiling over at Niall while cradling Maggie in his arms, "I feel like it's a year ago again and I've got Freddie in me arms. It's an amazing feeling innit? When you're holding a little human in your arms that you know you helped make?"

Niall smiled fondly over at Louis and Harry's heart did it's little somersaults routine again, "Amazing yeah, but also fucking terrifying. I didn't know hardly anything about babies and then I was left alone with a one day old baby. Thank God me Mum was able to come stay with me for the first few weeks and teach me everything I needed to know. I'm still afraid I'm going to do something to break her though."

Louis frowns but nods in understanding, "I'm a single Dad as well but Freddie's Mum is still very much in the picture. She has him more than me because I travel a lot. I can't imagine doing it without her, even though I have six younger siblings and was a pro at everything when Freddie was born. I'm going to give you my number, yeah? If you need anything you just call or text and I'll help you out. Us single Dad's gotta stick together right?"

"Yeah, I guess we do," Niall laughed, "Thanks for that, mate. I'm not gonna lie, it's nice to have someone me own age who knows what it's all like."

Louis hummed and nodded his head. Harry could see immediately that he and Niall were going to become good, fast friends. From what he knows about Niall he definitely has a lot in common with Louis.

"So, tell me about yourself then. What's it like working with Harold?" Louis asks, a shit eating grin on his face.

"Harold?" Niall raises an eyebrow and looks like he's struggling not to laugh.

"That's not my name. It never was and never will be," Harry says, rolling his eyes.

"Shut up, Harold, I'm getting to know young Niall here," Louis says, making Niall crack up this time and yeah, Harry doesn't even mind it. Louis can make fun of him all day long if it means Niall laughs like that.

"What do ya wanna know?" Niall asks, a huge grin on his face, "There's not much to tell really. I'm Irish but I live in London, I'm twenty-three, I have my gorgeous little Maggie and I love music. I worked a construction job until I got the gig playing for Harry. It was too good to pass up so here I am."

"Girlfriend? Boyfriend?" Louis asks slyly and Harry wants to fucking choke him to death right now.

Niall laughs and winks at Louis, "Why? You interested?"

Louis actually looks shocked for a second then a look of glee spreads over his face and he laughs along with Niall, "As much as the One Direction fandom wants me to be gay I'm actually very straight. Sorry lad."

Niall fakes looking upset and shakes his head, "Damn. Here I thought I found me one true love!"

Louis cackles loudly at that, Niall joining him and yeah, just like Harry thought, Niall and Louis were going to end up as good friends. In fact he thinks briefly that if Niall had somehow been in the band he and Louis would cause some major problems together on tour.

"In all seriousness, mate, there's nobody in my life right now, man or woman. When Maggie's Mum ended up pregnant we decided to try and make a go of a proper relationship but we didn't love each other and we were both miserable. Then the day after Maggie was born she left and I haven't had time to date since then. I'm not in a rush. If it happens it happens," Niall says, shrugging easily.

Louis looks at Harry and Harry tried to glare at him but that really does nothing to Louis so he doesn't know why he bothered.

"How are you liking playing guitar for Harold?" Louis asks next and Harry wants to hear the answer to this one too.

"It's so amazing," Niall gushes, "Like, the type of music he has on this album is the type I love and listen to all the time. To get to learn to play these songs is just...I don't even know how to describe it. The whole band is perfect. When we're all playing together I can just feel the electricity in the room, that crazy vibe where everything just meshes together and I honestly can't wait to get on stage in these small venues and hear the crowd going crazy. It's going to be sick."

Harry looked at Niall, giving him a small, close mouthed smile. They locked eyes again and Harry knew, he just knew,  the fond was showing but he just couldn't care less right now. Niall was sitting in front of him, talking about going on stage with him like he's living his life long dream and Harry did that. He made that happen for him and he's so happy because if anyone deserves this it's Niall Horan.

"You're really going to enjoy it, mate," Louis says, his hand resting on Harry's back and pinching him slightly. Harry knew it was to get him to stop staring into Niall's eyes, "There's nothing like being on stage in front of people cheering loudly. Even if they're not cheering for you you still feel the electricity and the adrenaline. Our backing band always said that. They were always so hyped after a show. Eventually our fans fell in love with them too. Remember that sign we saw one time, Harry? It said something along the lines of we're here for the drummer or something like that. We never let Josh live that down."

"Yeah," Harry laughed as he remembered, "That was brilliant. I stopped singing and did my ugly laugh right into my mic."

"Ugly laugh?" Niall asked, his eyebrows raised.

"Oh, have you not heard that yet?" Louis sits on the edge of his lounger, looking at Niall with wide, gleeful eyes, "Sometimes he sounds like a barking seal. Other times it's just a loud squawk."

Niall looked at Harry who was hiding his face in embarrassment, "Oh. Yeah, I've heard those. I just don't think they're ugly."

Harry dropped his hands from his face and looked at Niall. He was blushing now, could feel his face heating up, but he didn't care. Niall didn't think his loud laugh was ugly. He was actually smiling softly at him right now and Harry couldn't handle this. His fucking heart was beating out of his chest and he just wanted to kiss Niall so badly. So fucking badly.

It was probably a good thing the kids all came running over then. They distracted Louis and Niall so Harry could gather himself and calm down. He excused himself to go to the washroom and headed inside where he leaned against the counter and took some long deep breaths. They would calm him down for now but in the long run...he was definitely screwed.

 

~~~


The plan had been for the band to keep rehearsing without Harry when he had to go to all the film premieres for Dunkirk but Harry decided everything was going so well and that they all deserved some much needed time off so Niall found himself with two weeks off and on a flight home with Sarah and Clare.

Now Niall was at home in his small flat, waiting for Deo to get home from work so he could surprise him. He hadn't been expecting to get home for a very long time so this was an unexpected surprise for Niall and he decided not to tell anyone, wanting to surprise his family and friends with the visit.

He sat on his couch with Maggie and laughed as she sucked away on her fingers. Looking at her now made him think of Harry and how he held her close and kissed her goodbye. It was all over his face how much he was going to miss her and that really fucked Niall up. Really, really, fucked him up. It was all he thought about on the plane home and more than once Clare had to call his name several times before he snapped out of it and paid attention to her. She knew something was up but didn't press him on it, just eventually left him alone to stare out the window and slowly come to the realization that his attraction to Harry was becoming more to him. He was starting to really care about him in a romantic way and that scared the shit out of him. He didn't know what to do and somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean he began to panic and thought about just quitting because he couldn't fall for his boss, he just couldn't! He would only be asking to get his heart broken and Maggie didn't need or deserve a father who was left devastated with a broken heart.

Somehow by the time they landed in London Niall had calmed himself down but he still didn't know what to do. He hoped talking it over with his cousin and Laura might help him figure it out.

As if his thoughts had conjured him up, the door to the flat opened and Deo walked in, screaming and jumping back when he saw Niall sitting there on the couch, "Nialler! What the fuck??"

Niall laughed and walked over to his cousin, hugging him with one arm so Maggie didn't get squat, "Hey, mate. Surprise!"

Deo closed the door behind him and tossed his keys on the small table next to the door, "You scared the shit outta me, man," then he paused and looked at Niall with a stricken look, "Oh no. Did it not work out? Did you get fired?"

Niall threw his head back and cackled with laughter, throwing his free arm around his cousins shoulders and leading him over to the couch, "On the contrary! In the three weeks I was there we've made really good progress. I get on really well with everybody and so far we sound good together if I do say so myself!" Niall smiled proudly and arranged Maggie in his lap so she could see Deo next to him, "Harry and his manager apparently thought so too because he said while he's off promoting his movie we should all take two weeks and do whatever we want. Me and the two girls flew home to London and Alex stayed in L.A. He's from California anyway."

"Get in!!!!" Deo shouted and leaned over to hug Niall, making Maggie get all fussy, "Oh come here little Maggie boo," Deo lifted Maggie away from Niall and cuddled her, "Did you miss your favourite cousin? Did you? I missed you!"

Niall snorted and rolled his eyes fondly at the exchange, "I dunno, mate. She got plenty of attention over there. Everyone loves her- I mean, who wouldn't? She's my gorgeous baby girl- and I'm pretty sure Harry has adopted her. He's held her more than I have since I got there. I caught him walking around the house with her on his arm and telling her about all his pictures- what? Why are you grinning at me like that?"

"I'm not grinning at you like anything," Deo said, the stupid grin only getting wider.

"Fuck off, Deo!" Niall gave him the finger, "Tell me what your problem is?"

"I don't have a problem," Deo shrugged, "I just love when you don't listen to me. I always eventually get to say I told you so."

Niall frowned over at his cousin, "What's that supposed to mean?"

Deo kissed Maggie on the cheek, making her giggle, "It means I told you not to fall for Harry Styles and you went and did it anyway."

Niall immediately opens his mouth to protest but knows he can't so he just hangs his head for a moment until Deo reaches over and squeezes his shoulder comfortingly, "I haven't fallen for him," Niall says quietly, "Probably getting there, though. I like him. A lot."

"He must really be something else, then, if you like him so much in just a short time," Deo said softly, rocking Maggie a bit in his arms as she started to fuss.

"Yeah. He is. He's not at all like I was expecting. There's not an arrogant bone in his body. He's really intelligent and down to earth, we like a lot of the same things, and he loves children a lot. Watching him with Maggie has been pretty amazing," Niall says with a sigh, "When I first got there, the attraction between us was immediate. That tension was there crackling in the air. It became pretty obvious we both noticed it. We almost kissed a couple of times but we didn't and neither one of us has had the guts to bring it up. It became more than that, though, at least for me it has. Getting to know him has been really incredible. I'm fucked."

"Well," Deo started after a few moments of silence, "If he's not the love 'em and leave 'em guy I read about online then what's the problem? If it's obvious he's into you make a move."

Niall laughed and shook his head at his cousin, "It's not that easy, Deo. Just because the physical attraction is there doesn't mean he wants anything more than a quick fuck or a friends with benefits deal. Just because I like him doesn't mean he likes me in that way. Plus he's my boss. He's paying me. I don't even want to think about what people would say if we got together."

Deo's eyebrows shot up onto his forehead and he scoffed, "Since when does Niall Horan give a fuck what people think or say about him?"

"Since he had a daughter and doesn't want her to grow up seeing trash written about her Daddy all over the internet and magazines," Niall says, reaching out his hand to Maggie and smiling when she wrapped her fist around his finger.

"That's a cop out because you're afraid to make a move and be rejected. You and I both know that when Maggie gets old enough to read and understand anything that may be written about you, she won't care because she'll be taught that it's not true. You're gonna raise her right, Niall, because you're a good guy and you love her and only want what's best for her," Deo says calmly, so confident in everything he's saying.

Niall sighed and sat back into the corner of the couch, pulling his legs up underneath him, "Maybe I am afraid. This job means a lot to me. Construction was fine. I enjoyed having a laugh with the other lads and it paid the bills but music...being up on a stage and getting to just play guitar and do a bit of backing vocals...it's incredible, Deo. It's a dream come true really. So making a move on Harry and then being rejected- that would be a disaster. If I didn't get fired it would still be awkward between us. I'd end up having to quit and then where would I be? Begging for my construction job back. I can't do it. I just can't."

Deo stared thoughtfully at him before speaking again, "Okay so let me play devil's advocate then. What if he makes the first move? What do you do then?"

Niall laughed incredulously and tipped his head back on the back of the couch, "I don't know, mate. I really don't. I'd like to say I'd turn him down for my own good but I don't know that I'd be strong enough. There's this pull between us...I've never felt this way before. I might just say 'fuck it' and deal with all the pain that will come when I end up hurt."

"I don't understand why you're so sure you'll get hurt?" Deo asks, "How do you know you don't fall in love and end up married with kids?"

Niall shook his head at his cousin, "Because that would never happen to me. A man like Harry Styles settling for someone like me? Who is a single father with not much to offer? I wouldn't hold my breath on that."

 

~~~


Harry missed Niall. It had only been six days since Niall left L.A to head back to London for a couple weeks, yet Harry missed him so much it was actually affecting his brain. He wasn't sleeping properly and he was doing or almost doing some really stupid shit. The stupidest being almost calling Xander to see if he was up for some drinks and maybe a one off. Thankfully he had the sense to ask Nick how bad of an idea that was on a scale of one to ten. When his best friend nearly choked on his own saliva and then proceeded to yell at him for the next ten minutes straight, Harry got the message. Not a good idea.

So Harry nixed that idea and instead whined to Nick for almost an hour about how he missed Niall and Maggie, how he was lonely without them around, how he missed the sound of baby giggles and also the sound of Niall's infectious laughter sounding throughout his house, how, if he put his sexual frustration aside, he really just missed chatting with Niall and watching tv with him. All in all he was pretty pathetic but he knew he was safe with Nick, knew Nick would never tell anyone anything he told him. He was one of Harry's dearest friends and he proved that time and again by patiently listening when Harry has a meltdown.

"You're already gone for this bloke, Harry. It would be cute if it wasn't so pathetic," Nick had said, eliciting a strangled whine from Harry, "You need to do something about it, mate. Ask him out or tell him how you feel and have a proper grown up chat about it. You need to know one way or another where you stand with him so you can either get together and fuck like bunnies or have a good cry, accept the rejection, pick yourself up, and move on. You're driving yourself mad with the way you're going right now."

 

Of course Harry knew Nick was right. He really should talk to Niall about what's going on between them. There's definitely something there physically. You can feel the tension in the air whenever they're together in a room. The problem for Harry is it's more than that for him. He really likes Niall but he's not sure if the feelings are mutual. It's obvious Niall is attracted to him but that's all Harry knows. Add to that the fact that Niall is an employee and it scares the shit out of Harry to think of talking to him about all this. Obviously he never ever wanted to make an employee uncomfortable in any way. That was important to him. He also had a lot to lose in this case because if he said something to Niall and Niall rejected him it would make things so awkward between them and hard on tour. Niall might quit and Niall would not only lose a great guitar player but a friend as well. Right now he has Niall and Maggie in his life and he doesn't want to lose that. It was all just so frustrating!

Harry sighed and flipped his phone back and forth from one hand to another. He had just arrived in London late last night after filming segments in L.A. with his cast mates for E! News, Access Hollywood, and Entertainment tonight. Now he had the full day off before doing more promo tomorrow and then the London premiere of the film the day after that. He had a million things he could do today, friends he could visit, but he had spent the past hour debating whether to text Niall or not. Would he seem desperate and pathetic for asking Niall if he wanted to hang out when they only saw each other six days ago? When they'd all be back in L.A. together in two weeks?

"Fuck it," Harry cursed and unlocked his phone, bringing up his texts with Niall. He sits for another ten minutes, thinking over what he's going to say, then finally just decides to ask Niall if he's got any plans.

Hi, Niall. I'm in London for my film premiere. Was wondering if you have plans today?

He pressed send then put his phone down on the table, staring at it for a minute before standing up and deciding to go do something. If he sat there waiting for Niall to respond he'd only be a jittery mess, tapping his foot incessantly and running his hand through his hair so much it got greasy. No. He was not going to do that, so he went about making his bed and tidying up his room a bit because he had just dropped his bag on the floor last night and kind of had clothes spread about everywhere. After that he went to the kitchen to clean up his dishes from his breakfast earlier. He heard the ding of his phone while in the kitchen but purposefully made himself finish cleaning up before running into the sitting room and diving for his phone. He didn't want to look too desperate.

Harry! Hi. I don't really have any plans today. Just hangin' with Mags at the moment having breakfast.

Harry smiled at the thought of Niall and Maggie all sleepy looking and cuddling down on the couch while she drank her bottle. Harry wished he could be there. Wished he could be giving her a bottle while Niall watched on fondly. It's something Harry has gotten a bit used to over their three weeks in L.A. Niall would let him feed Maggie sometimes and when he was watching on with a fond look on his face, Harry often wished that look was for him and not Maggie.

I have an off day today. Would you and Maggie like to hang out? Maybe we can take her for a walk? It's so nice out.

Harry sent his text off to Niall and this time didn't bother to put his phone down since he saw the bubbles appear right away and knew Niall was responding.

We'd love too! Can you meet us at my flat?

He'll yeah he could meet Niall at his flat! He'd meet him anywhere he wanted if he was being honest.

They sent a few more texts confirming a time and Niall's address then Harry ran off to his bathroom for a shower with a huge smile on his face.

 

~~~


Niall is pretty stoked that Harry texted him. He's trying not to read too much into it but the teenage girl hiding inside of him is jumping around and screaming because Harry has a day off and he chose to ask Niall if he wanted to hang out instead of contacting any of the huge amount of friends Niall knows he must have in London.

"What do you think, Mags? Do I look okay?" Niall asked his now four month old daughter, "I think I look alright."

It was going to be twenty seven degrees in London by this afternoon so Niall put on a pair of white shorts that went to just above his knees and a light blue Fila t-shirt. He'd probably wear a cap to keep the sun from his face and of course his sunglasses. It was all a bit ridiculous really. Niall shouldn't care about how he looked in front of Harry. He already knew their physical attraction for each other could go nowhere, yet here he was acting like he was going on a date. Ridiculous!

"Now, my lovely. What would you like to wear hmm? Besides massive amounts of sunblock because your Daddy is paranoid about the sun?" Niall picked his daughter up off the bed and carried her across the hall to her room to get her out of her onesie and into some proper clothes.

He started going through her dresser to find something light for her to wear since it was so hot outside. He left most of their stuff in L.A. instead of lugging it all back for two weeks, but there was still some summer clothes left and he quickly found a cute pleated linen pink dress with ruffled short sleeves. It was a gift from his Mum and he figures Maggie is big enough to wear it now so he gets to work changing her nappy first, then he puts the dress on her and coos when he sees how well it fits and how pretty she looks.

"Look at my baby girl! You're the prettiest aren't you sweetheart? You make your Daddy so proud everyday. I love you!" Niall kisses her cheek and hugs her close, loving how she always tucks her face into his neck.

He brings her back into his own bedroom and lays her on the bed so he can take a picture on his phone for his Mum. He sends it to her right away then decides to send it to Harry as well, with the caption, "Ready to go!"

Once he's sent the text he goes about getting everything else ready. He makes sure the nappy bag has everything he needs, he coats them both in sunblock (because fair Irish skin obviously) and he makes sure he's got Maggie's sun hat as well. He doesn't bother with shoes for her. He'll bring socks in case it gets chilly for some reason but she can't exactly walk or anything so leaving her in her bare feet was fine.

His phone dings and it's Harry sending him a text full of heart emojis in response to the picture of Maggie he sent. He grins and sends a smiley face back then heads out to the kitchen to get bottles ready to go in the nappy bag. He didn't know how long they'd be out and about so it was best to be prepared.

There was a knock on the door ten minutes later that sent Niall's heart up in his throat and butterflies going off in his stomach. It had only been six days but Niall couldn't wait to see him and spend the day with him. He was so fucked.

He opened the door with Maggie in the crook of his arm to Harry standing there with bags in his hands and a huge smile on his face, "Hi there."

Harry smiled even wider, his dimples looking sinful to Niall, "Hiii. Look at my little Princess in her pretty pink dress! Oh my God!"

Maggie shouted what sounded like 'gah!' and waved her arm around in the air a bit, making Harry and Niall both laugh, "I think she likes being complimented."

"She deserves to be! I think she's even prettier than when I last saw her," Harry cooed, reaching out his hand to take Maggie's hand in his own. She immediately wrapped her fingers around one of his fingers, her thumb playing with the ring on Harry's finger.

Niall swooned inside at the way Harry acted with his daughter. It was definitely a weakness for Niall, watching the two of them together, "Don't think she's changed too much in six days," Niall laughed and stepped to the side, "Come on in."

Harry walked inside the flat and laid his bags down on the floor before turning back to Niall, "How's your vacation going?"

"It's good, yeah. My cousin is staying here while I'm away so I've hung out with him a bit and I had a pub night with some mates, saw me Mum the other day as well. How's everything with you?" Niall asked, trying to remain casual even though Harry looked like sex right in front of him. The man was wearing a pair of white shorts that hugged his thighs and arse perfectly, along with a pink button up shirt that was only buttoned half way up. His chest was on full display, the cross he wore around his neck dangling down between his defined pecs. His hair was pushed back off his forehead like it always was, his sunglasses perched on top and holding it back. Niall wanted to keep him inside and fuck him against the wall.

"It's been busy but I'm good. I'm proud of this film and can't wait for it to be out but I also miss my music and can't wait to get out there on tour. It'll be good to get back at it with you and the rest of the band," Harry says, an easy smile on his face.

"God. I can't wait to go out there on stage. I'm so fucking nervous because I don't want to be the one who screws up and ruins things for you but at the same time it's going to be so sick being up there with you. Your fans are so loud and wild. It's gonna be great!" Niall said, feeling himself getting excited just thinking about it.

"I love seeing you so excited about this. I've been doing this for so long now that I almost forget what it was like the very first time I went out on stage on our first tour. I feel like I'm living through it all again through you," Harry says, excitement evident in his voice.

Niall doesn't know what to say to that. He can't seem to stop smiling and neither could Harry it seemed. They were doing that thing again where they just stare at each other while smiling and Niall knows he needs to snap out of it before he starts blushing so he averts his eyes to Harry's bags and asks, "What's with all the bags?"

Harry looked down at the bags by his feet and if Niall wasn't mistaken, a faint blush crept up onto his cheeks, "Um, well, I was out shopping back in L.A. and stopped to get a little gift for Lux. Then I sort of...wandered into the baby section and couldn't help myself. All the outfits were so cute and adorable, Niall. I don't know how I didn't buy them all!!"

Niall's eyes opened wide as he gaped at the bags on the floor, "Harry...are you- are you saying those bags are filled with...baby clothes?"

"Sort of?" Harry looked at him with wide eyes of his own, "There's some toys as well. Please don't be mad! I just- Maggie is so sweet and it's been so nice having her around. She's got me wrapped around her little fingers and probably has since the first day I laid eyes on her and I just wanted to spoil her a bit because she makes me happy and- and I know I shouldn't have without asking you first. I'll return everything. I'm so sorry."

Niall blinked his eyes a couple of times and snapped his gaping mouth shut. He stepped forward and, careful of Maggie in his arms, reached up to wrap his arm around Harry's neck to give him a one armed hug. He felt Harry slowly wrap his arms around him and Niall couldn't help but settle in and bury his face in Harry's neck a bit, smelling his expensive cologne. He had a fleeting thought that he wouldn't mind staying right here forever but quickly pushed it out of his mind and stepped back, clearing his throat a bit.

"I'm not mad, Harry. You don't have to return anything," Niall explained, a small smile on his face, "Probably don't make this a regular thing but...I understand you wanting to spoil her because it's how I feel everyday. I'm sure if I had your money she'd probably have a house full of designer clothes now because I just love her so much." Niall stopped and laughed, Harry laughing with him, "To be honest, if you had bought a shit load of stuff from Gucci or somewhere for me I would have had to kill you but when it's for Maggie...I think it's okay."

"Thank you," Harry whispered, clearly looking relieved.

Niall laughed incredulously, "No, thank you, Harry. You really didn't have to do this but I'm sure we're going to love everything you bought."

"Want to see everything?" Harry asked, looking like a little kid all of a sudden.

Niall laughed and nodded his head, sitting down on the couch with Maggie while Harry got down on his knees on the other side of the coffee table and started emptying bags and arranging the clothes on the coffee table.

It was a bit overwhelming to watch but as each item came out, Niall had to admit he couldn't stop cooing and commenting on how cute it was. There were summer dresses and winter ones too, leggings, onesies, t-shirts, and even a tiny little jean jacket. There were also trainers and shoes, all so cute and tiny. Niall couldn't wait to get them on her and take pictures.

"Harry...this is incredible. This is...wow. I'm going to have my very own little fashionista. Just look at how pretty everything is? I can't thank you enough, seriously," Niall gushed, completely overwhelmed by Harry's generosity.

"No need to thank me. Honestly, getting to spend time with this little one is thanks enough. She truly is an amazing baby. I feel lucky to have met her. Both of you," Harry said sincerely.

Niall smiled and to keep himself from getting too emotional or from grabbing Harry and kissing him senseless, he decided to change the subject, "So, should we get going? What did you have in mind to do today?"

Harry shrugged and got up off the floor, "Nothing fancy. It's just so nice I figured it would be nice to get out and walk around. We can look around some shops, go to one of the parks and get some ice cream, whatever we want really."

"Yeah that sounds good," Niall nodded and smiled.

"I should have probably warned you about something before even asking you if you wanted to go out for a walk," Harry said a little sheepishly, "At some point people will probably realize who I am and come up to ask for pictures. I hope that's okay?"

Niall laughed and shook his head as he carried Maggie over to her stroller to strap her in, "Nah. I get you're world famous and people want a piece of you. I don't mind stopping if you want to take pics. We've got all day right? Or I do at least."

"I do too. Thanks for being understanding," Harry said, "I have a blanket in my car. We can bring it so we can spread it out somewhere and enjoy the sun."

Niall liked that idea a lot. Liked just sitting in a park somewhere while Harry fawned all over Maggie. Just the thought of it was giving him feels. He didn't know how he would survive it but that didn't stop him from saying yes and smiling at Harry as they left Niall's flat and stopped at his Audi to get the blanket.

They decided to make their way to Tower Bridge where they could take the Thames path and have a good view of stuff like The Tower of London, St. Paul's Cathedral, The Houses of Parliament and The Tate Modern. It was a beautiful walk along the river on such a nice day and having only lived in London for less than a year, Niall hadn't really got a chance to see these places close up. He's been too busy working and saving money for when Maggie arrived then when she did arrive he spent his time working and then taking care of her.

Throughout the two hours they spent on the path, Harry was his charming self and even though he wasn't from London either he lived there longer and knew a bit about the place. He shared his knowledge with Niall and Niall listened intently, partly because he was actually interested but also partly because Harry's voice and accent was just everything.

During the walk, they stopped in a few places along the path and Harry asked if he could take Maggie out to get his picture taken with her. Niall said yes, of course, and he proudly took pictures of Maggie in Harry's arms in front of the Thames. Afterward, Harry asked if he could send it to his Mum and sister and Niall was fine with that so Harry sent it off and Niall let out a boisterous laugh when Gemma texted back asking who Harry knocked up.

"Oh God," Harry rolled his eyes but he was also laughing at his sister, "Can I take a pic of you and send it to her?"

Niall shrugged, "Why not? She is my baby after all!"

So Harry took a picture of a laughing Niall and sent it to Gemma. Gemma quickly replied with, "It's like a fan fiction! You knocked up a guy!"

Harry blushes for some reason and tells his sister he'll explain to her later then puts his phone away and suggests they start walking again.

"What's a fan fiction? What did she mean?" Niall asks curiously.

Harry sighs and kicks at the pavement with the toes of his trainers, "They're stories. Some of the One Direction fans like to write stories involving us. Some of them are about one of us and a made up girl. Like a romance novel I guess. Some of them are about us together. They became really obsessed with me and Louis and thought we were a couple. It got so bad that we kind of drifted apart for awhile. It was terrible. Even today Larry is still pretty big."

Niall is silent for a moment then he starts giggling and Harry looks over at him with a questioning look, "I'm sorry," Niall tries to stop giggling but can't, "It's just- are you telling me there's essentially gay porn written about you and Louis?"

Harry looks down at his feet and bites at his lip, trying not to laugh along with Niall, "Yes, that's essentially what I'm telling you."

Niall bursts out laughing then, unable to contain himself anymore, "Oh my God!! That's amazing!!"

"Well I'm glad you're amused," Harry smiles at him and bumps his shoulder against his.

"I'm actually quite intrigued. I'm Bi meself and you and Louis are both quite good looking. I might have to google this fan fiction stuff and have a little look," Niall says, completely missing the fact he just called Harry hot to his face.

Harry gasped and looked at Niall with wide eyes, "Don't you dare!! You can't read that stuff! That's so embarrassing."

Niall is full on cackling now and stops in his tracks, bending over with his hands on his knees, "Maybe I don't have to read. Maybe you and Louis can reenact some of these stories for me!"

Harry smacks at his shoulder and says, "I hate you!" then walks off down the path away from Niall, head held high and nose up in the air. Niall knows he's not actually mad though. He saw Harry trying to hold in his laugh before he took off. Saw his dimples deepening in his cheeks.

Niall jogged to catch up to him, finding Harry having his own giggling fit. When he lifted his head and looked over at Niall, his eyes sparkling, his smile wide, his dimples deep in his cheeks- Niall's heart skipped a beat and he had to just stop and enjoy the view for a moment. Harry Styles was incredibly beautiful- inside and out and Niall was gone for him. He couldn't deny it anymore. He couldn't pretend he wasn't. He was gone for this twenty-three year old world famous *dork* who showers his baby girl with love and affection and nearly brings him to his knees with his smile. Niall was so fucked.

"Anyway," Harry says after a minute, "Probably don't bring up the fan fiction around Louis. It's a touchy subject for him. His girlfriend has gotten a lot of hate because some fans think he's married to me and she's just a beard. It sucks because she's so amazing. They've been together a long time."

"Do you mean Eleanor?" Niall asked and Harry looked surprised, "I've been texting with Louis a bit. He told me about her."

Harry smiled happily at Niall, "I knew you would hit it off with him. You're similar in personality. You're both laddie lads."

Niall laughs loudly again, "I suppose we are. Most people don't believe I'm into guys because I'm such a 'lad' kinda hard to break that stereotype."

"I guess that's true actually. If we're going off stereotypes I would never think you were Bi whereas with me people find it hard to believe I like women at all," Harry says with a smirk on his face.

"Might have something to do with all the pink in your life," Niall says, cackling at Harry's scoff, "And that awful Gucci suit I saw you in online a few years ago. Looked like curtains!"

"Fuck off!" Harry says through his own laughter, the two of them happily continuing to banter as they walked along.

Eventually they left the path around one in the afternoon and decided to head to Hyde Park to relax a bit. When they got there Harry went to one of the restaurants to get food for them while Niall picked a spot near the lake and under a tree to spread out Harry's blanket and sit down. Maggie was still asleep so he left her in her stroller and spread out on the blanket enjoying the sun shining in and taking off his trainers and socks so he was in his bare feet.

When Harry came back twenty minutes later, Niall was watching some kids off in the distance kicking a football around and laughing, "You look cozy."

"I am! Starving too! What did ya get?" Niall asked as he eyed the bag of food.

Harry laughed and took off his own trainers before sitting down next to Niall and opening the bag, "Burgers and fries. I'm starving too."

"Yes!!!" Niall practically shouted and dove into the bag for his food, "Thank you, by the way. For getting the food."

"You're welcome," Harry said, laughing at Niall's exuberance, "I'm still amazed at how you can put food away and not gain weight."

Niall shrugs and pushes a couple of fries into his mouth, chewing and swallowing before speaking, "I've always been that way. I do have to go to the gym though. I like me Guinness a bit too much and it all sticks to me gut. If I don't go to the gym I end up with a little belly."

Harry smiles at him and reaches up with his napkin to wipe some ketchup from the corner of his mouth, "I think a little belly is cute."

Niall nearly chokes on his burger, struggling to swallow what's in his mouth. He hides it by taking a long sip from his Coke but one thing he can't hide is the blush creeping up onto his cheeks. Harry thinks a little belly is cute. Is he flirting with me? Oh my God!

Maggie wakes up at that moment, which is just as well since Niall has no idea what to say. It's time for her bottle so Niall asks Harry if he minded getting her out of her stroller while he got a bottle out of her bag and mixed it up. When he was done he took Maggie and held her in the crook of his arm while holding her bottle for her to drink. He was still able to pick at his fries and burger while doing this and Harry looked at him, impressed, "Super Dad!"

"Nah," Niall blushed again and smiled shyly, "You just get used to multitasking."

"I guess I'll find out someday. I hope I do anyway," Harry says quietly, his eyes on Maggie as she drinks from her bottle, the small smile on his face fond.

"You will," Niall assures him, "Why wouldn't you?"

Harry shrugs a shoulder and picks at some left over fries, "I don't know. I might not meet the right person and I don't know if I'd be brave enough to go it alone like you are. I've been through a lot over the past seven years. Traveled the world, moved away from home, grew up, but sometimes I don't feel any stronger than I did at sixteen."

Niall isn't sure what to say in that moment so he speaks from the heart and trusts it'll be okay, "I don't- I don't think being brave has anything to do with it. I reckon every parent is scared shitless, even the ones who get pregnant on purpose and then have nine months to prepare and read all the books. I think- once your child is in your arms and you can look down at them and feel them...you just know. You fall in love with them and you just know what you're supposed to do. You and your child- you're in it together then, for better or worse and a side of you that you never knew you had comes out and you just know without a doubt you'd die for this human being and that feeling just brings you peace and calm. At least...it did for me."

When Niall finishes speaking, he looks up from Maggie and at Harry and his breath catches when he sees the intense look in Harry's eyes. It's like- it's almost like he's looking right inside of him and-

"Niall..." Harry breathes out, "I- that was beautiful what you said. You're really good with words. Do you write at all?"

"Yeah, a little bit," Niall said shyly, lifting Maggie up to burp her now that she was finished her bottle, "I wrote some songs for the band I used to be in but we were never a serious band. We weren't trying to make it. We just liked playing in pubs so I don't know how good they were."

"I have a feeling they were pretty good," Harry says, a smile on his face, "Maybe we could write together sometime? It doesn't have to be anything serious. We'll just pick up our guitars sometime and see what happens."

Niall raised his eyebrows, "That might be a bit intimidating. Don't forget I've heard your brilliant album."

Harry laughs and spreads his long legs out in front of him while leaning back on his hands. He looks gorgeous. Niall wants to get in between those legs that go on for days and run his hands up those muscular thighs. Jesus help him.

"Nothing to be intimidated by. I'll show you all the crap songs I've written. I've written quite a few crappy ones before the good ones come out," Harry said.

"That makes sense," Niall nodded, his hand still gently rubbing his daughter's back, "Can I ask you something? You don't have to answer if you don't want to. I know you've probably been asked a million times already."

"You can ask," Harry smiled cheekily, "But I might not answer."

"Fair enough," Niall laughed, "Two Ghosts. Taylor or no?"

Harry let out a loud bark of laughter, the one Louis calls ugly but Niall thinks is cute. He watches him now, his mouth opened wide as he laughs and he can't help but think he wants to see this everyday, "Did Grimmy put you up to this?"

"No!" Niall laughed, "I did hear him teasing you about it on the breakfast show though. Back when your first single came out."

Harry shook his head fondly, "I wanted to smack him that day. He knows exactly what the song is about but he couldn't help himself- he had to get the fans all worked up. I looked to Jeff for help but all he was doing was laughing at me. Anyway," Harry laughed a little, "I trust you so I don't mind telling you I had her in mind when I wrote it."

"It's a beautiful song. I like backing you up on that one. When we do it with just acoustics," Niall says.

"Yeah. It's the only song on the album I wrote two or three years ago. I saw her at an award show and we talked for the first time since we broke up. For a minute I was brought back to when we dated and wished I had done so many things differently. I was only eighteen and we only dating for a few months but it was so intense. Our second album was just coming out and we were starting to really get big in the states. We were meeting so many people and we were star struck every minute. When I met the Taylor Swift, I couldn't believe she liked me. It was surreal. I fell hard and fast but I was so immature. I didn't treat her how I should have. It all ended up blowing up in our faces and we broke up. When I saw her again I realized what I thought was love was more like infatuation. I was just so in awe of her but if I was older and more mature I think I could have really loved her. We just met at the wrong time I guess." Harry said quietly.

"I've never been in love meself. Not really," Niall said, "I was too busy hooking up and not being serious when I was younger. I'll be twenty-four now in a couple months and I think I really want to give that all up and just find someone to be with. I want to be in love. I think it'll be hard for me. I won't date someone who doesn't understand Maggie comes first. I won't date someone who doesn't like or want kids. Hopefully there's someone out there for me. Until then I have my friends and my baby girl and now my awesome new job. That's enough for me until the right one comes along."

Niall tries to push aside the feeling in his gut that's telling him Harry could be the one. Not only did they only meet a month ago but there were too many reasons why Niall couldn't allow himself to go there. He was already gone for the man. He couldn't allow himself to like him anymore than he already did. Not even if Harry was perfect for him and everything he could ever want.

"I hope that happens for you. You and Maggie deserve someone who will love you both so much and take care of you. I'll kill anyone who doesn't treat my girl right," Harry says, reaching over to tickle Maggie's foot.

Niall laughed and laid Maggie down on the blanket with her stuffed toy, running his hand over her silky hair, "She's very lucky to have you and everyone else looking out for her. It makes me feel like I'm not in it alone, ya know?"

"I do," Harry said softly, rearranging his body on the blanket so that he was laying down next to Maggie, "I know you have good friends and family in your life but I want you to know that I'm here too, if you ever need anything or any help with Maggie. Me and her, we've bonded haven't we Maggie? I care about her very much. Want only the best for her."

Niall reaches out and wraps a hand around Harry's ankle, stroking the skin with his thumb because he can't help himself, "Thank you, Harry. That means a lot. It really does."

They're quiet for the next little while, playing with Maggie and occasionally laughing at something she does. Eventually they pack up and start the walk back to Niall's place. Harry does get recognized a few times but Niall doesn't mind, he offers to take the pictures of him with his fans and laughs when some of them get excited when Harry explains that Niall is his new guitar player.

When they get back to Niall's flat, Niall asks Harry if he wants to stay for awhile? Deo is staying at a friends for a couple of days so they could watch tv, play video games, order something for dinner. Harry says yes and they fall onto the couch together to watch more of Homeland that they had started in L.A.

Later that night when Harry left and Niall fell into bed, he tried to ignore the ache he felt in his heart because Harry wasn't his and never could be.

Chapter Text

 

 

After Harry finished his promo for his film, he got back to L.A. with his band and started up the rehearsals for the tour again. July turned into August and Harry released the second single from his album 'Two Ghosts', filming a video for it and planning a bit of promo. He'd already performed it twice on James' show in the Spring but he still had to go out and do a few shows to support it and that's how he ended up on 'The Tonight Show' with Jimmy Fallon in New York.

"Harry?" Sarah came up to him where he was in the hallway chatting with some of Jimmy's staff before the taping, "Can I talk to you for a minute?"

"Sure," Harry excused himself and walked down the hall towards his dressing room with Sarah, "What's up?"

"I think Niall could use a little pep talk," Sarah said, smiling fondly. It was nice that his whole band took to Niall right away and clearly loved him a lot already. Harry adored them all, "This is his first time playing for you in front of an audience besides Jeff and a few friends. Plus it's on tv. I think he's freaking out a little bit, the poor thing."

Harry resisted the urge to take off running to Niall like he wanted to. His feelings for his guitar player have only intensified since that day in London they spent together. He was pretty sure he was falling for Niall, hard, but he wasn't about to let anyone else see that. Wasn't sharing that part of him with anyone but his Mum who he already cried to about it. Not even Nick knew yet and Harry wasn't sure if he was ever going to tell him. He'd gotten himself into a mess and would probably get his heart broken. He didn't want anyone else to witness his pain.

"I'll go talk to him right now," Harry assured Sarah with a small smile and a hand to her shoulder, "He's going to be brilliant and everyone will love him. I wish we could reassure him of that."

Sarah slid one arm around Harry's waist and hugged him quickly, "You know that and I know that. He'll know it soon too. Just wait until tour starts. Your fans are going to love him, Harry. His charm, his enthusiasm when he's up on stage playing, his charisma. I can't wait, to be honest."

Harry hugged Sarah back and gave her a smacking kiss to the forehead, "Me too. I'll see you in a minute, yeah?"

Sarah nodded and headed off in the opposite direction while Harry kept going to his dressing room. When he got in there, Alex was chatting to Jeff and Glenne while Niall paced back and forth biting on his fingernails. Harry shared a look with Jeff that thankfully Jeff seemed to understand because he, Glenne and Alex quietly left the room, leaving Harry alone with Niall.

"Hey," Harry said quietly, not wanting to startle Niall.

Niall stopped pacing and whirled around to face Harry, the smile on his face so forced that Harry wanted to laugh, "Time to go on already?"

"Not quite yet," Harry chuckled and walked over to one of the couches to sit down. He patted the space next to him, "Come sit with me for a minute."

Niall came over and sat down next to him and Harry reached over laying a hand on his knee and squeezing gently, "You're going to be great ya know. It's okay to be nervous. I used to get so bad I'd want to vomit right before going on stage. You'll be fine though. I promise you."

Niall turns to look at Harry, biting his lip, his eyes wide and apprehensive. Harry's heart squeezes in his chest and all he wants to do is lean in and softly kiss the nerves right out of Niall, "I just- I don't want to let you down. I don't want to let everyone down."

Harry turns sideways on the couch and grabs Niall's shoulders, turning him sideways as well so they were facing each other, "You can never let me down," Harry says honestly, "Never. You've worked so hard, Niall. You came in late and worked your fucking ass off to catch up. I'm in awe of you everyday and if I'm being honest I'm more worried about me screwing up than I am you screwing up. You've got this, Niall. You can play my songs in your sleep now. You're going to do so well. I promise you."

Niall stared at him, searching his eyes for what, Harry didn't know, "You're really sure I'm not going to screw this up for you?"

"I'm one hundred percent sure. I would never lie to you, Niall. Not even just to make you feel better. You're brilliant. Just go out there and let your hands do what they do, okay? Ignore the cameras and just focus on me. I'm right up there with you," Harry assures him.

"Okay," Niall nodded and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly, "Okay. I can do this."

"Don't forget we're not live either. If we need to do this five times because we all screw up, we'll do it five times. That's the way showbiz works sometimes. It'll be fine," Harry says, chuckling a little at the look on Niall's face when he said they could do it five times. "Will you be okay? I have to go out there and film my interview segment with Jimmy."

"Yeah, I'm fine. I'm going to call the hotel to see how Maggie is. Good luck out there," Niall smiles at him, this time a real smile and Harry feels so much going on inside of him because he did that. He made Niall feel better.

"Thank you," Harry leaned over and hugged Niall tight, probably holding on longer than he should have, "I'll see you soon."

"See you soon," Niall said back, then Harry left the room to go to his interview with Jimmy.


~~~


Niall had never been so nervous in his life. Okay maybe he had been. When he realized he had a little baby he'd be raising alone but this came in a close second. He wasn't even nervous of performing in front of the audience and on tv. It was the thought of letting Harry down that was killing him. Until Harry talked to him, of course, and now Niall felt like he was on top of the world, bouncing around backstage with a smile on his face. It's amazing the affect the words of someone you're falling for can have on you.

Yes. Falling for. Probably already fallen. And yes, he knew it was a disaster waiting to happen, but he let it happen anyway and his feelings for Harry get stronger everyday. Now he just has to get through everyday and hope nobody notices. Hope that it doesn't affect his job in anyway. Hope he can handle being so close to someone he wants so badly and know he can't be with them. Hope that he's strong enough.

"Ready to go, Niall?" Clare's voice snapped him out of his thoughts and he looked up at where Clare was standing in the doorway, "We're up."

Niall nodded and wiped his hands on his thighs before standing up and taking a deep breath. He was as ready as he'll ever be. "Let's do this."

They left the dressing room and made their way to the area where they'd be performing. Harry was talking to some fans in the front row and politely excused himself when he was told by someone who worked for the show that it was time to take his place. When he walked over he smiled at everyone and gave them quick fist bumps, stopping in front of Niall and pulling him into a quick hug and saying, "Remember, you're going to do fine. Eyes on me."

Niall nodded and pulled his guitar on over his shoulder, making sure one last time that it was in tune. Harry did the same with his own guitar and after checking with Alex, Clare and Sarah he gave the thumbs up that he was ready.

The lights went down and Jimmy appeared at his desk. The camera was on and they were rolling. This was it. Jimmy was holding a copy of Harry's album and introducing him. In about five seconds Niall would have to start playing and it would be do or die.

Harry made eye contact with him one last time then Sarah counted them down and the lights were on them. Niall began playing and it was perfect. He didn't think, didn't try to do too much, just let his fingers do what they knew how to do and listened to Harry's beautiful voice sing his beautiful song.

When there was a few seconds of solo guitar in the middle of the song, Niall was aware of the camera panning in on him and his guitar but he just ignored it and kept playing, closing his eyes and really feeling the music. Before he knew it the song was over and he stood there looking over at Alex while the crowd was screaming and Harry was waving and saying thank you. The other guitarist winked at him and Niall smiled back, laughing under his breath. He did it. His first performance in front of an audience and on tv and he did it!

When the band made their way backstage and into the dressing room again, everyone converged on him, ruffling his hair and jumping up and down, pulling him in all different directions. Even Louis was there somewhere, Niall could hear his loud laughter though he couldn't see him just yet. He didn't even know Louis was in New York let alone here at Fallon.

"To Niall Horan, everybody!" Alex shouted, holding a glass of gin up in the air, "His first performance with us and he nailed it!"

Everyone cheered and tapped their glasses together and before Niall could say anything Louis was on him, hugging him close with an arm around his shoulder, "Fucking right? It was siiiiicck! Now who wants to go out and celebrate, hmm? Maybe we can find something else for young Niall to nail."

The girls scoffed and playfully rolled their eyes but said they'd be up for a night out dancing. Niall laughed and shrugged his shoulders because why not? They had an off day tomorrow and Maggie was safe and happy with Jessica. He didn't know about the nailing part though. Yeah he hasn't had sex in a long time but his trust in condoms has gone down quite a bit and the thought of getting a one night stand pregnant made him physically ill. A bloke on the other hand...maybe. They probably weren't going to a gay bar but doesn't mean there won't be other Bi mean around. He was never going to have Harry and he needed to get out there and get rid of some of this tension.

So off they went, the band, Louis and some friends he had with him, his girlfriend Eleanor who Niall adored, Jeff, Glenne and Harry, and even Jimmy Fallon said he'd meet everyone at the club when he wrapped up. It was so surreal for Niall to be surrounded by famous people but he would have to get used to it since this was his life now.

"Hey," Someone grabbed his arm as he was leaving the dressing room and Niall looked up to see Harry smiling at him. He pulled Niall into a hug and Niall couldn't help but bury his face in Harry's neck and take in his cologne, "You were bloody brilliant out there. Just like I knew you would be. Congratulations."

Niall smiled against Harry's neck and blushed, "Thanks, H. Means a lot. It was thanks to you. You calmed me down earlier. Helped me focus."

Harry hummed and pulled back, looking into Niall's eyes, "Maybe but your magic hands did the rest. Your drinks are on me tonight. Don't argue with me! You've had to work extra hard over the past couple of months to catch up to the others. You deserve a treat. I'll start a tab, you put your drinks on it."

Niall gratefully accepted then the two men left the room to catch up with everyone and jump into the back of a car. Louis was calling for him to ride in his car so he waved to Harry, who was riding with Jeff, and jumped in beside Louis' friend Cal. Louis and Eleanor were sitting behind them.

"You ready to let loose a bit, mate?" Louis asked loudly, his hands massaging Niall's shoulders a bit.

"Dunno. I've seen you let loose, Tommo. I also saw what you had for dinner when you barfed it all up over the floor," Niall said, cackling loudly when Louis smacked him across the back of the head.

"Oh bloody fuck off!" Louis said to both Niall and Calvin who were both laughing pretty hard. "I won't be your wing man if you don't shut up."

"Oh I don't know if I want a wing man. What if I want to pick up a bloke? Ya gonna help me then?" Niall asked, laughing.

"Doesn't matter to me. Think me charm works better on the ladies though," Louis says, turning to glare at Eleanor when she snorts at him, "What?"

Eleanor rolled her eyes, "Your charm isn't as great as you think it is when you're too many drinks in and being loud and obnoxious."

"There's no way I'm picking meself up a girl anyway. I've got one unexpected child. I'd rather stick with the sex that doesn't get pregnant," Niall said, laughing when Cal burst out laughing beside him, "It's true mate. Had condoms and everything and she still got pregnant. I'm not risking that again anytime soon."

Louis snorted, "I can't really disagree with you, mate. Freddie wasn't exactly planned. I'm happy to have him and I love him to pieces but I wasn't planning on having a kid with someone I don't love."

Niall was turned around in his seat listening to Louis and he smiled softly when Eleanor slid her hand into Louis' and squeezed it reassuringly. Niall had big respect for Eleanor. It probably wasn't easy to find out the love of her life got someone pregnant only a few months after they broke up. Even though Louis didn't do anything wrong, she probably had expected she would be the mother of Louis' first child someday. Niall is glad they found their way back to each other despite everything. It gives him hope that he'll find someone someday. Someone that will make him forget that he wants Harry to be that someone.

When they pull up to the club it's at the back door and Niall has to keep up as Louis is whisked inside, no questions asked, and led straight to the VIP section. Niall's head is spinning as he tries to take everything in, never before being in a place this expensive and flashy.

"You'll get used to it, mate," Cal says from behind him, one hand on his shoulder, "I've learned over the years to just go with the flow with Louis. He is adamant about treating his friends so I've been to a few places like this."

Niall nods and takes a seat in the VIP section next to Eleanor. Louis has gone off with one of his friends Niall can't remember the name of to get drinks, "This is crazy."

"It is," Eleanor laughs and pushes her hair back over her shoulder, "Too much for me. I'm fine just having a pint at a pub. Louis is too, most of the time. Thankfully we only do this on special occasions."

"Special occasion?" Niall looks at her confused.

"Oh, Niall," Eleanor shakes her head and lights up a cigarette even though Niall is sure places like this don't allow that, "Louis quite likes you a lot. Says you're a solid lad and I agree with him. When he found out he would be doing promo here for his new song at the same time as Harry, he had to be there for your first performance to support you. You were great, by the way."

Niall blushes a bit but manages to keep eye contact with her, "Thank you. That means a lot. I really like you guys. It's been nice talking to Louis and figuring out how all this works. I think it's going to be a bit of a shock to my system for awhile. I knew One Direction was huge but I don't think I knew how huge until I got kind of in the middle of it. Actually, I haven't even been in the middle of it yet. More like on the outskirts and it's not the whole band, just Harry, but it's crazy."

"I get it, trust me," Eleanor nodded sympathetically, "Just remember you know how to reach us if you ever need anything. Harry's good, though. A really good guy. He'll take care of you and your daughter."

Niall smiled at her but inside his heart was aching a bit. He wished Harry would be taking care of him and Maggie in a different way. As his boyfriend and not just his boss and friend. He wanted it so bad.

Speaking of Harry, he was walking toward Niall now, a pint in one hand and what looked like rum and coke in the other, "Hiiii. Got you a Guinness."

Niall accepted the pint with a smile and a thank you then took a long drink from it, "Brilliant. Better than the stuff in L.A."

Harry smirked and took a drink from his glass, the ice already starting to melt due to the heat in the room. New York in the middle of August, even with AC was brutal. Still, Niall was itching to get up and dance. He wasn't overly good at it but he loved it, especially when he'd had a few.

He spent a little while talking to Harry and Jeff, then Louis pulled him into a conversation with a couple of his friends. By the time he was on his fourth beer he was feeling loose and more than ready to dance when Eleanor pulled him onto the dance floor to dance to her favourite song. He danced with her for a few songs then she excused herself to the ladies room. Niall was going to head back to the VIP area but stopped when some girls danced up beside him, making eye contact with him. He had no intention of hooking up with any of these girls but some dancing and flirting certainly wasn't going to hurt, was it?


~~~


Clubs weren't really Harry's thing but he had to admit he was enjoying himself tonight. It was nice to relax with friends and have a couple of drinks, let himself forget about his busy schedule for a few hours. He spent time talking to everyone, even Louis and his group of friends. They weren't as careful as they used to be about interacting in public. Growing apart and then rekindling their friendship, as well as the death of Louis' Mum has made the both of them say 'fuck it' because life is too short to be trying to convince people who will never listen that they're not a couple.

Probably the best part of the night for him, though, was Niall. He was having so much fun. His laugh could be heard throughout the whole VIP area, his cheeks were a nice rosy red from drinking and being too hot and his eyes were positively glowing with happiness as he and Eleanor danced around each other on the dance floor.

It wasn't until Harry went to get another drink that things took a turn. He ran into Clare at the bar and talked to her for a minute, then headed back to his spot by the railing where he had been contently watching Niall dancing with Eleanor and probably falling for the guy even more against his better judgement. Unfortunately when his eyes spotted Niall again, Eleanor was no longer with him. Instead there were three girls dancing around him and one of them was grinding on Niall while Niall grinded right back. He had his face buried in her long hair and his hands up under her skirt cupping her ass.

Harry felt like he immediately stopped breathing for a minute and the small amount of alcohol he had consumed felt like it was trying to make its way up his throat. Still he couldn't look away. Not when Niall's face became half visible and Harry could see him smiling into the girls neck. Not when the girl whispered something in his ear that made him laugh the very laugh that Harry adored. Not even when they separated from each other just enough to start kissing, their tongues sloppily moving against each other and making Harry want to vomit.

"Wh-hoaaaa," Louis came up beside him sounding giddy, "Nialler's getting in!! Good for him! He said he wasn't going to pull a bird but I guess he found one he likes."

Harry has been jealous before, of course he has, but never this bad. Never to the point where he felt sick to his stomach and wanted to vomit. Never to the point where he wanted to actually pick something up and smash it. Never to the point where his heart felt like it was breaking even though Niall was never his to begin with.

"Harry?" Louis' voice penetrated his thoughts, "You alright, mate?"

Harry concentrated on breathing and trying not to vomit, then turned to face Louis who was looking concerned by this point, "What?"

"You look like you're going to be sick, mate. Are you alright? Come sit down. I'll get you some water," Louis led him away from the railing and over to the couches, sitting him down and motioning to somebody to bring water.

"I'm fine, Louis. I'm just really tired all of a sudden," Harry said, trying to get his friend to back off.

"I don't think so, Harold. How much have you had to drink? You never could hold your liquor," Louis said, his voice fond as he teased Harry.

"Louis," Harry all but snapped, even though his friend didn't deserve it, "I've barely had anything to drink. I'm just tired. I'm going to go back to the hotel."

Louis stiffened beside him but didn't say anything until after the person bringing the bottle of water walked away. He all but threw the bottle of water at Harry and said, "Fine! Be an ungrateful brat. I've got better things to do than tend to you anyway." Then he got up and walked off, leaving Harry alone and feeling guilty.

When his legs felt a little less like jelly, Harry stood up and walked over to tell Jeff he was tired and needed to go back to the hotel. Jeff offered to go with him but Harry waved him off, instead asking him to let the driver know he was ready to leave. Jeff said he would so Harry found his bodyguard and they made their way to the back door to wait for the SUV to pull up. Once it did, Harry got in the back by himself and if he let a few tears silently fall down his cheeks in the back of the dark car well, nobody had to know but him.


~~~


Niall woke up the next morning feeling pretty good in spite of how much he drank the night before. He rolled over on his back and stretched out his whole body, his arms above his head, and let out a big yawn before sitting up and wiping at his eyes. He reached for his phone on the table and saw it was eight in the morning which means he got five hours sleep. Good enough for him!

He got out of bed quickly and made his way to the bathroom for a quick shower. He missed Maggie and couldn't wait to pick her up from the nanny this morning. He had the whole day off and planned to spend it with his girl and probably Eleanor. They had talked about hanging out last night. Louis had a full day of promo today and Eleanor will be alone so she said she'd meet Niall at his hotel around ten and they could go out for a bit with Maggie or just hang out inside.

As he stood under the hot water in the shower, his thoughts wandered back to the club last night. It had been kind of nice to flirt with those girls and dance for awhile. There was one girl who was particularly interested in him but he was up front with her from the start and told her he wasn't looking to take anyone home. She smirked and said it didn't mean they couldn't have a bit of fun anyway and, well, Niall was up for that so they spent some time on the dance floor grinding on each other and snogging quite heavily. It was definitely nice. Niall loved kissing so it was nice to be kissed again but truth be told, the whole time he was dancing with her he could only think about Harry. How it would feel to grind on him and bury his face in his neck, how his hands would feel on Harry's ass, how Harry's tongue would feel against his.

Now, as the water steadily beat down on him, his cock was getting interested as he closed his eyes and thought about Harry dancing in those tight jeans he wears, whatever patterned shirt he has on unbuttoned almost down to his belly button. Niall bit his lip and lathered his hands up with soap, sliding them slowly down over his chest until he reached his cock and took it in his left hand.

"Yeah," He sighed out, as he tugged on his cock slowly, working himself up as he imagined how it would feel to dance with Harry the way he danced with that girl. The way Harry's large hands could probably cup his ass perfectly and pull him in until their hard cocks brushed together through their jeans.

"Fuck," Niall moaned lowly and his breath hitched as he thumbed over the head of his cock, playing with it and shuddering at the feeling of the calluses on his fingers. He did that for a little bit, then got back to stroking himself, picking up the pace as he felt his dick throbbing in his hand and his release getting nearer.

Feeling his legs getting a bit shaky, he pressed one hand flat against the shower wall and tipped his head back, pumping his dick hard and fast. His eyes were still closed and all he could see was Harry. Everything Harry. His piercing green eyes, his red, luscious lips, his deep dimples, his toned upper body, his long legs and thick thighs. As he continued to tug at his cock he swears he can feel Harry's big hands all over him, squeezing his arse and picking him up to press him against a wall and fuck him.

With a gasp, Niall was coming over his hand, his head thrown back and his mouth opened in a silent scream. When he's done his breathing is heavy so he stands with both hands pressed against the shower walls and takes deep breaths while the water runs down over his back.

Ten minutes later he's out and getting dressed, feeling only a tiny bit guilty for wanking over Harry in the shower. Once he's ready he grabs his wallet, phone and room key and heads to Jessica's room to pick up Maggie. He knocks on the door and is slightly surprised when Harry answers. "Harry?" Niall looks around him at the room numbers, "Did I get the wrong room or something?"

Harry looks at him, his eyes wandering up and down Niall's body before snapping back to his face. He didn't make eye contact, though, just stared over Niall's left shoulder looking awkward as fuck, "Morning, Niall. You're in the right place if you came to get Maggie. Come on in."

Niall walked in past Harry, his brow furrowed as he tried to figure out what was off about Harry. Jessica was sitting on the bed with Maggie and Niall lit up when he saw her, a huge smile coming across his face, "Hi, baby girl! I missed you so much. Did you miss Daddy? Hmm?" Niall picked her up and held her close, repeatedly kissing her cheek while she giggled and kicked her legs about.

"I hope you don't mind that I stopped in here. I was on my way back from the gym and thought I'd come in and say good morning," Harry said from behind him.

Niall turned around to face him, his smile dimming a little when he saw how awkward Harry looked still, "Of course not. I don't mind you spending time with Maggie. She's quite fond of you as you know."

Harry smiled now, a real smile as he looked lovingly at Maggie, "I'm quite fond of her as well."

"She's quite the girl," Jessica smiled at Niall, "Such an easy baby. So happy all the time. She's really a joy to have around."

Niall turned back around to face Jessica with a huge smile on his face, "She really is so good isn't she? Thank you so much for watching her all night. I promise you I won't be doing this every single night. I'm not a wild party animal or anything."

Jessica laughed and stood up, putting a hand on Niall's arm, "Niall, sweetie, I didn't mind watching her at all. Besides the fact that it's what I'm here for, it really wasn't any trouble. She's an angel and it'll be a pleasure to look after her while this one over here is on tour." Jessica nods toward Harry.

Niall smiled gratefully at Jessica and thanked her again before grabbing her stuff and heading out, Harry right behind him, "I'm going to meet Eleanor downstairs for breakfast. After we're going to walk around for a bit. I've never been here but she obviously has so she's going to show me some stuff. Do you want to come?"

Harry shifted from one foot to the other, looking nervous and kind of like he wanted to get the fuck out of there. What the fuck was going on? "Um. Thank you for inviting me but I better not. I always get mobbed in New York and I don't want to ruin your day. You should go have fun with Eleanor. She's a great person. I'm glad you're friends."

Niall looked at Harry with narrowed eyes and contemplated asking him what was wrong and if he did something wrong? It was like he all of a sudden didn't want to be around him anymore and that hurt Niall a lot more than it should. He kept his mouth shut, though, knowing in the hallway of a hotel was not the place for a serious conversation, "Okay. Well. I'll see you later then."

Harry waved at him awkwardly, leaned into the stroller to kiss Maggie's cheek, then walked off down the hallway to his room leaving Niall feeling completely confused and a little empty inside. He felt like he just lost something he never even had and it was like a punch to the gut.

Fortunately he didn't have time to dwell on it right now since he had to meet Eleanor downstairs. He headed for the elevator and got in, heading down to the lobby where Eleanor was going to wait for him. He found her on the couches scrolling through her phone and smiled at her when she looked up. She smiled back at him and stood up to hug him then peeked inside the stroller to say hello to Maggie.

"Oh God. Just seeing her makes me miss Freddie. I wish I had been around to see him at this age," Eleanor says wistfully, standing up and flipping her hair behind her back, "How are you this morning? You don't look hungover."

Niall laughed, "Nah. I'm Irish. Takes a lot to get me hungover. How's Louis this morning?"

Eleanor rolled her eyes and waved her hand dismissively in the air, "He didn't overdo it because he knew he had work today but he was in a grumpy mood this morning. Think he and Harry had a bit of a spat."

"Oh!" Niall's eyebrows shot up as he thought about Harry's odd behaviour a few minutes ago, "Maybe that explains why Harry seemed off this morning."

Eleanor shrugged then they set off out of the hotel and down the street to a diner Niall had noticed when they drove past on the way to the hotel. It was just a normal, basic diner, probably one of hundreds in the city, but it would do for a cup of coffee and a simple breakfast.

Once they got there and were seated at a booth by the window, they both ordered coffee and orange juice then the waitress said she'd be right back to take their orders. They made small talk while they browsed the menu, Niall deciding on a full breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast and hash browns, while Eleanor decided on yogurt and granola piled high with fresh fruit. The waitress came back and took their orders then went off again promising it would be ready soon.

"So," Eleanor leaned over the table to talk quietly, "We need a code name for Harry so nobody overhears what I'm about to say and ends up telling the daily mail or something. I'm going to go with 'Bambi'"

Niall spluttered out a laugh into his coffee cup, hot coffee dribbling down his chin and onto the table. He quickly wiped it up with a napkin while continuing to laugh at the name Bambi, "That's fucking hilarious! Why are we acting like we're in a spy movie or something all of a sudden?"

Eleanor sits back with a smirk on her face and crosses her arms over her chest, "Because I know how this fandom works. All it takes is one person overhearing us and next thing you know it's all over the internet and I don't think you want what I'm about to say all over the internet."

Niall furrows his brow and takes another sip of coffee, "Why would I care?"

Eleanor smirks again and says, "Because what I have to say is that you're in love with Bambi and I'm just wondering for how long?"

Niall's mouth drops open and he can feel his entire face and neck turn red from embarrassment. His brain is working a mile a minute trying to come up with something to say, a way to talk his way out of it all but eventually he just decides, what's the point? There was no point in denying it. He liked Eleanor and trusted she wouldn't go around telling everyone his secrets. Plus it would be nice to talk about his feelings with someone who actually knew Harry.

"I don't know," Niall said quietly, lifting his eyes to look at Eleanor, "I don't know that it's love yet but...I'm pretty gone for him. I think it's only a matter of time before I'm in love with him."

Eleanor smiles sympathetically and reaches over to lay her hand on top of his, "You're in love with him sweetie. Maybe you don't know it yet but I can see it in your eyes and on your face when you look at him."

Niall groaned and covered his face with one hand, "Seriously? I can't even keep the fond off my face? Do you think Ha- Bambi has noticed?"

Eleanor snorted, earning a look from their waitress as she brought their food. Once she was gone they began eating and Eleanor answered his question, "First of all, I think we should call him Bambi all the time. He'd hate it and go around with that pout on his face all the time."

"I adore that pout," Niall sighed.

"Second of all, no he hasn't noticed. He's clueless about that stuff. There's no way he hasn't noticed the sexual tension in the room when you're in it together though. It's hot. Made me want a cold shower the first time I felt it," Eleanor says, laughing when Niall glares at her. "I'm surprised you two haven't...you know, yet."

"We've almost kissed a couple times," Niall says, Eleanor's eyes widening," but something always interrupted us and we just pretended it never happened."

"But why, Niall? You two would be so good together! I can already see how happy you and Maggie make him. Imagine if you were a couple? I don't understand why nothing has happened?" Eleanor pouts a little.

Niall takes his time chewing his bacon and swallowing before he answers, "I just- I don't know if it's just attraction to him or if he feels the same about me as I do about him and without knowing that there's too much for me to lose. I can't- if I made a move on him and he didn't feel the same way, things would be so awkward. I don't think I could work for him anymore and I have my daughter to think about. I can't mess up this job. I also don't want to lose him as a friend. I'd rather have him in my life in some way. Even if it hurts my heart a little that we can't be more."

Eleanor thought about it for a minute before responding, "What if I could find out for you? How he feels?"

Niall shook his head firmly, "No. That's too much like we're in high school. I'd rather just leave it, Eleanor, please? Let's just leave it."

Eleanor looked like she wanted to protest but decided against it and went back to her breakfast. They began to talk about places they wanted to go around the city that day and that was that as far as their discussion about Harry went.


~~~


The month leading up to Harry's first tour was filled with promo for his album and latest single and final rehearsals with the band. Everything was going really great in both regards. The band all got along brilliantly and it was like Niall had been there all along. His playing was spot on, his voice went so well with Harry's, and he was fun and enthusiastic. Harry was thankful everyday that he found him and that he said yes to joining the band. At this point, Harry didn't know what he would do without Niall.

Unfortunately Harry had to go and fall in love with Niall. There was no fighting it or denying it anymore. He fell hard and fast for the gorgeous Irishman and now everyday he spent with Niall was full of joy and torture all at the same time. He'd spent more than one night wide awake thinking about Niall, aching because he wanted to be with him. How do you tell someone who works for you that you're in love with him? Especially if you don't know if they feel the same way? How do you do that without risking the friendship you have? Because they'd become good friends and Harry definitely values that friendship.

He had spent hours talking to his Mum about all this and while being sympathetic and always willing to listen, she didn't give him any easy way out. She simply told him he's an adult now and being an adult can be a pain in the arse sometimes. Hard decisions have to be made sometimes and he needed to sit down with Niall and tell him how he felt. If Niall doesn't feel the same way, then it's up to the pair of them to be mature about it and get on with their lives. No need for awkwardness or anything like that. No need to break up a friendship. It'll be hard on Harry at first but eventually he'll get over Niall and everything will be okay.

Harry had scoffed at that. While it all seemed great in theory, that didn't necessarily mean it would all go that way. He also doubted ever getting over Niall. A month later and he's still jealous of whatever girl Niall probably took back to his hotel room that night in New York. So no, getting over Niall wouldn't be easy. However the more he thought about everything his Mum said, he realized that he'd be miserable anyway so maybe he should just tell Niall how he feels? If he doesn't tell him, he's suffering in silence. Seeing him everyday and not getting to be with him the way he wants. However if he tells him how he feels, there is the possibility he feels the same way and they could be together.

Harry definitely doesn't have time to figure it all out right now. Tonight is the first night of his tour and there's a lot to be done before he goes on stage. Interviews, meeting a few fans, soundcheck, then getting dressed and ready to perform. He wanted everything to be perfect. His fans have done so much for him over the past seven years. This is his way of giving back. Giving them the best show he possibly could. He couldn't afford to be distracted by his problems right now.

Of course that was easier said than done when the man Harry is in love with saunters into the room all smiles and infectious laughter. All Harry wants to do is grab him and kiss him, hug him, cuddle him, keep him for life.

"This is going to be so sick, Harry!" Niall is practically bursting with excitement, "I stood out there on that stage and everything is so close. It's so intimate. There'll be a wicked vibe out there. I can't wait! You're going to be brilliant."

Harry chuckled and ran a hand through his hair, "You think so?"

Niall scoffed, "I've seen you performing. Your energy, your charisma, the way you interact with the crowd. I get mesmerized sometimes just watching you. I'm pretty fucking lucky to get to witness it every night."

Harry knew he was blushing but he didn't care. He loved when Niall complimented him. More than that he loved Niall's enthusiasm for everything. He was just so thankful to be here. He was so humble. It did something to Harry that he couldn't explain, "Thank you, Niall. That means a lot. Did you get out and explore San Francisco yesterday?"

"Yeah!" Niall's eyes lit up. Another thing Harry loved about him. He'd hardly been anywhere in the world so he was always so excited to get to see all these new places, "Went with Sarah and Clare to the Golden Gate Bridge. Got some great pics with Maggie I'll show ya later. Went over to see Alcatraz and bought a shit load of chocolate at some chocolate shop I can't remember the name of. It was brilliant."

"Good. I'm glad you're getting the chance to do some sight seeing. I've traveled so much in the past seven years I feel like I'm living vicariously through you," Harry chuckled.

Niall laughed then it was quiet for a beat, neither one of them talking. Just staring at each other. Finally Niall spoke, "Well, I'll get out of your hair then. I know you've got interviews and stuff. I'll see ya later."

"Niall? Is Maggie here?" Harry asks him before he leaves. Niall nods. "Can I see her before the show? Play with her a bit?"

Niall's expression was soft and fond, at least that's what Harry thought it was. Maybe he was just seeing what he wanted to see, "Yeah, H. She'll love that. See you soon."

Niall left Harry's dressing room then and Lou made her way in to do his hair. Let the busy afternoon begin.


~~~


Harry hadn't felt so alive in ages. Probably not since the last show he did with One Direction. He felt it on stage tonight, though. Felt it when he came out on stage with his guitar over his shoulder and the first notes to 'Ever since New York' started. Felt it when he looked out over the crowd in the small venue and could see all the way to the back. Felt it when he spoke to his fans and they all screamed his name. Felt it when every single word of the songs he wrote were sung back to him from the crowd. Most of all he felt it when he would catch Niall's eye and see how bright they were. When he saw how wide Niall's smile was. When they played 'Only Angel' and 'Kiwi' and he shimmied across the stage to Niall and they practically grinded on each other while Harry screamed into the mic and Niall shredded on guitar. He felt so fucking alive and the adrenaline was still coursing through his veins now as he stripped his sweat soaked shirt off in his dressing room after freaking out with his band and sending them off back to the hotel to get changed for the after party.

He wandered into the little bathroom, splashing water on his face and wiping at his sweaty chest with a towel. It'll have to do until he gets back to the hotel to shower and change for the after party at one of San Francisco's most popular clubs. It's not something Harry does after every show but the first and last of a tour for sure. His whole team deserves to have fun and he made sure everything was paid for so they could do just that.

When he came out of the bathroom, still shirtless and with the towel in his hand, the door to his dressing room was just opening and Niall walked in, his hair still all over the place and his face still glistening a bit with sweat. He looked so fucking good, Harry just wanted to lick him all over.

"Sorry," Niall's voice was soft after all the singing he did tonight and the screaming he and Harry did on stage, "I-I left my phone somewhere and didn't know where. I told the car to go on without me. Figured I could ride back with you. If- if that's not okay I can just get a taxi..."

Harry can see the way Niall's eyes lingered on his chest and torso. Saw the way he licked his lips. He couldn't take it anymore. The adrenaline was pumping through his veins, his heart was beating fast, his hands were twitching, practically begging to touch Niall. There was only so much a hot blooded man could take and he was at his limit.

"Niall," Harry's voice was raspy and even lower than usual. He almost didn't recognize it himself and Niall certainly noticed too because Harry saw his eyes widen ever so slightly and his lips part, "I don't know if I'm completely misreading this, if I'm the only one feeling this- this- whatever this is between us. I've been wanting to do this since the moment I first saw you. Please punch me in the face if I've got this all wrong."

Then he strides across the room and slides both his hands along Niall's neck, his thumbs brushing his cheeks, and pulls him into a kiss. It's only awkward for about five seconds and then Niall is reacting, opening his mouth for Harry's tongue and sliding his hands over the bare skin just above the waist of his trousers to hold on to him. His touch immediately ignited Harry's skin and he whimpered, pulling Niall up against his chest and deepening the kiss, his tongue moving languidly over Niall's.

"You're not punching me," Harry says when they pull apart to breathe for a minute.

Niall is breathing hard, little puffs of air hitting Harry's face, "Nope."

Harry leans in and kisses his cheek, just below his ear, down over his neck. Soft, tender kisses that Niall's sensitive, pale skin deserves. When Niall shivers in his arms, he can't help but smile into the hollow of Niall's neck and nose his way back up to his lips again. He kisses him softly and says, "So you don't want me to stop?"

Niall's response was to stick his thumbs in the belt loops on Harry's trousers and pull him in for another kiss, biting down on Harry's bottom lip and making him groan.

Everything became wild and heated from there. Their tongues were warring against each other as they both fought to explore each other's mouthes. Their hands roamed all over each other's bodies, Harry's hands having to find their way up under Niall's sweat soaked shirt to touch his bare skin. Somehow they began to move around the room, holding onto each other as they kissed frantically and banged into furniture.

When they heard a loud crash, they pulled apart to find they had banged into a table and sent a candy dish crashing to the floor in pieces. They both stood panting heavily and looking at it then they looked at each other and burst out laughing, "I'll pay for it," Harry said, before diving back in and capturing Niall's lips with his own.

As the kiss grew more feverish and frantic like the other's, Harry kept backing Niall up, needing to have him pinned, needing to ravish him. They backed into the couch and another table, sending a lamp to the floor along with more of the items on Harry's rider. A clothing rack that had Harry's clothes for the show on it earlier was sent crashing into the wall when Niall was backed into it and shoved it out of the way with one hand. They completely ignored it and kept going until Harry had Niall up against a wall and picked him up, Niall's legs immediately going around his waist.

"I've needed to get my hands on you since the first time I saw you on that computer screen," Harry murmurs against Niall's skin as he kisses down his neck again, "You're so sexy. Been driving me mad."

Niall squeezes his thighs around Harry, his hands tucked into Harry's hair. He rests his head back against the wall while Harry has his way with it, "Fuck, Harry. Are you kidding me? It's been torture sleeping down the hall from you at your house when I know what your body looks like with nothing but a towel around your waist. I've wanted you so bad for so long."

"Yeah?" Harry pants out, dragging his lips away from Niall's neck so he could look into his eyes. They were so blue and so intoxicating this close up Harry's breath hitched, "You want me too?"

"Fuck yes!" Niall groans and starts grinding his hips against Harry, "Can't you feel it? I'm gonna fucking come in me pants soon."

Harry ran his hands down to cup Niall's ass, squeezing and making Niall moan. He bucked his hips and yeah, he was definitely hard and Harry could definitely feel it. He kept his hands on Niall's ass and began to rock his own hips, his own hard cock meeting Niall's through their trousers. Niall made a whining sound in the back of his throat that Harry silenced by kissing him again, all while keeping up a rhythm with his hips.

"God, you feel so good, baby," Harry whispered against Niall's lips, not caring that he let that term of endearment slip. Their hips were moving together perfectly in sync, getting faster and more frantic as their cocks kept brushing together through the fabric of their trousers.

"Harry," Niall gasped, his grip in Harry's hair tightening, "Don't wanna come in me pants. We have to- we still have to go to the hotel."

Harry nods and somehow, while holding Niall up with one arm, he unbuttons his own expensive Gucci trousers and shoves them and his underwear down to his knees. Then he unbuttons Niall's jeans and by working together and doing some impressive wiggling, they get his jeans and underwear down enough to get his cock out then Harry angles them so that he can take both their cocks in one of his hands and jerk them both off together.

"Oh fuck!" Niall cries out, his hips jerking when Harry's hand wraps around him.

"Yeah," Harry breathes out as he rests his forehead on Niall's shoulder and jerks them both off fast and hard. The room is filled with their moans and heavy breathing. Harry doesn't know or care if anyone outside hears them. He's finally got Niall in his arms and his hand wrapped around his cock. He's not about to stop for anything.

"Oh shit," Niall groans, his hips jerking forward one last time as he comes over Harry's hand. That's enough to bring Harry over the edge too and he comes a minute later, his come mixing with Niall's all over his hand.

"Fuck," Harry manages to breathe out, "That was- "

"Uh huh," Niall agrees, his fingers combing through Harry's hair.

Harry lifts his forehead off Niall's shoulder and kisses Niall tenderly, smiling softly at him when he pulls back, "We should clean up a bit."

Niall laughs and Harry puts him back down on his feet, the both of them walking to the bathroom on shaky legs. Harry washes his hands and cleans off his cock while Niall does the same then they both redress, neither one of them seeming to know what to say.

"We need to talk about this," Harry says quietly when they walk back out into the main room.

Niall nods and shoves his hands in his jeans pockets, "Definitely. Maybe after the party tonight? Or tomorrow?"

"Okay," Harry smiled shyly at Niall, relief coming over him when Niall smiled back, "It'll probably be really late after the party. Maybe we can duck out early."

Niall laughs and shakes his head, "It's your party, rock star. Everyone will want a piece of you. Tomorrow is good. When we're not rushed."

"Okay," Harry agrees, "Tomorrow. Shall we head back to the hotel then?"

Niall nods and the two men head outside to where Harry's car is waiting to bring them back to the hotel.


~~~

 

Niall doesn't make it to the party. When he got back to the hotel and showered he checked in on Maggie to find her being really fussy. She was cutting her first tooth and while Niall knew Jessica was more than capable of handling it, there was no way he was leaving his baby girl while she was in pain and needed him.

So he ended up taking Maggie back to his own room, Jessica telling him to call her if he needed any help or had any questions. Niall thanked her profusely then went back to his room to lay down with Maggie on his chest sucking on a cold teething toy.

While he lay there he texted Clare to let her know he wasn't going so that they didn't wait for him, then he laid his phone on the table on vibrate and softly sang lullabies to his sweet girl as she slowly began to drift off, her cheeks red from crying and the low fever she was running.

Niall must have drifted off as well because the next thing he knows he's waking up to the sound of his phone vibrating on the table next to him. He blinks his eyes a few times and looks around. Maggie is still asleep on his chest, Koala style, and the lamp on the desk across from the bed is still bathing the room in a soft glow. He reaches for his phone and sees that only an hour has passed. He also sees a text from Harry.

"Clare told me why you're not at the party. Is Maggie okay??"

Niall smiled and for once he actually embraced the swoop he felt in his stomach when he read Harry's text. He holds his phone up above himself and Maggie, taking a picture of them laying on the bed and sends it off to Harry. It barely takes a minute for him to respond.

"My baby! She's exhausted :( Can I come over?"

Niall texts back a yes, then puts his phone down and reaches for the remote instead, turning the tv on low to watch while Maggie is sleeping. He keeps a hand on her back and rubs slow circles while feeling her forehead to see if she was hot. She feels normal and Niall breathes a sigh of relief. The baby tylenol must be doing its job.

He's not expecting the soft knock on his door thirty minutes later. He frowns and slowly stands up so as to not disturb Maggie. When he gets to the door and opens it he's surprised to see Harry standing there, running a hand through his hair and looking a bit nervous.

"Niall. Hi," Harry whispers when he sees him.

"Hi," Niall says softly, stepping back to let Harry inside, "I wasn't expecting you."

Harry stops in his tracks and looks at Niall with a frown on his face, "I thought you said I could come over?"

"Oh!" Niall's eyes widen in surprise, "I did. I just thought you meant later. After the party."

Harry shrugs and waves his hand around in the air dismissively, "I was there for over an hour. Everyone saw me. I talked to people. I'd much rather be here with you. I've been worried about my little baby. How is she? Was it terrible?"

Niall has to admit he gets a bit weak in the knees when Harry says that. It does some major things to his heart to know how much Harry cares for his daughter and that he'd rather hang out in a hotel room with them than party.

"She's okay. Just getting her first tooth," Niall says proudly. Maggie was six months old now and Niall knew this would happen any day. Still, he can't help but be a proud daddy right now.

"Poor baby," Harry pouts, his hand coming to rest on top of the hand Niall has on her back.

"Would you mind holding her? I really gotta piss," Niall says as his bladder really starts to scream at him.

"God, yes. Gimme, gimme," Harry holds his hands out for her eagerly and Niall rolls his eyes fondly as he gently transfers Maggie into Harry's arms. If not for what happened between them earlier, Niall would think Harry was only interested in his baby.

Harry wanders over to the bed while Niall disappears into the bathroom. He pees quickly and after washing his hands he goes back out to find Harry sitting with his back to the headboard and Maggie cradled in his arms as he looks down at her lovingly.

Niall doesn't know what comes over him really, but he can't stop himself as he blurts out, "I really like you, Harry."

Harry looks up at him, a slow, closed mouth smile on his face, "Don't look so scared that you said that. I really like you, too, Niall."

Niall takes a deep breath, lets it out slowly, and walks over to the bed to sit down next to Harry. He's said it now, so he might as well keep going, "I mean I- I really like you. It's not just about the sexual tension that's been building between us since we first met. We've spent so much time together and I've gotten to know you and I- it's more than sex for me. I just need you to know that."

Harry studies him for a minute, taking his time before he says anything. When he does it's, "Will Maggie be okay if I put her in her cot? She won't wake up if she's not being cuddled will she?"

Niall furrows his brow, completely confused right now. He knows Harry is waiting for an answer though, so he tells him he can put Maggie in her cot, she'll be fine. Once she's asleep she sleeps pretty soundly.

So Harry stands up and carefully lays Maggie in her portable cot, leaving a hand on her back until he's sure she's not going to wake up. When he's satisfied she's okay, he comes back to the bed and sits the same way, with his back against the headboard and his long legs stretched out in front of him, only this time he grabs Niall's hand and pulls him close until Niall gets the picture and straddles Harry's lap. Harry smiles up at him then reaches up to put both hands on Niall's cheeks to pull him down for a soft kiss, "Hi."

Niall smiles against Harry's lips, "Hi."

Harry kisses him again then pulls back enough to look into his eyes. It all feels really intimate to Niall, him sitting in Harry's lap, their faces inches apart while they talk in low voices so they don't wake Maggie. He's really fucking gone for this man. Really and truly.

"In case that didn't show you how I feel about you...I really like you, too, Niall. It's not about the sex for me either. Don't get me wrong, what happened earlier was so fucking incredible and I definitely want to do more of that with you if that's what you want but...I want more. So much more," Harry explained, his eyes gleaming with sincerity.

"I can't believe this is happening," Niall whispers, then he breaks into soft giggles, making Harry giggle with him.

"You're so cute," Harry giggles, leaning up to peck his lips over and over again, "Also incredible, sexy, beautiful, amazing..."

"Stop!" Niall ducks his head, a blush creeping up his cheeks, "I'm not. I'm just me."

"Exactly," Harry smiles and kisses him again, this time sliding a hand around to cup the back of his neck and hold him close so he can deepen it. Niall melts right into him, accepting his tongue into his mouth and sucking on it playfully, making Harry moan and squeeze his ass with his other hand.

They spend the next little while, Niall isn't sure how long it is, kissing and touching each other, moaning softly and whispering each other's names. They don't go too far with it, Maggie is still in the room after all, but Niall thinks about how nice it is, to be held, to be touched gently, to be kissed with such want and passion. The way Harry is treating him right now is something Niall has never experienced before, has never really wanted too, but he can say with complete certainty that he absolutely loves it.

When they finally break apart, both of them breathing heavily, they stare at each other with smiles on their faces until Niall finally brings up the big question between them, "So...what are we doing, Harry? What is this?"

Harry looks up at him, his arms wrapped around Niall's waist, holding on to him comfortably, "What do you want it to be? It's not about the sex for me. I want more. You said the same thing. So...are you up for giving us a shot? Seeing where we can take this?"

Niall bites down on his lip and thinks about it for a minute before he speaks, "Yes. I want to be with you. I want to see if we can make a relationship work. I have some concerns I want to talk about first, before we make any decisions. Are you okay with that?"

Harry opens his mouth to respond but snaps it shut when they hear Maggie stirring in her cot, soft whining noises that Niall knows from experience will turn into cries soon enough. He goes to move off of Harry but Harry holds him back with a hand around his wrist and kisses him softly, "We'll pick up this conversation tomorrow? When we're back in L.A.?"

Niall grins and nods his head, quickly kissing Harry again before they pull apart and Niall goes to get Maggie from her cot, "Daddy's here, little princess. Daddy's right here," Niall says in a soothing voice, picking her up and cuddling her in his arms. He rubs a soothing hand over her back and kisses her head, immediately feeling she's a bit warmer than she was before. Her fever must be up a bit again.

"Is there anything I can do to help?" Harry asks quietly, coming over to stand next to Niall and rub a finger gently over one of Maggie's bare feet.

Niall smiled at Harry but shook his head, not wanting to keep him up any later than he already had, "It's okay, H. You must be exhausted after your show. You should get some sleep."

Harry sighed and made a tsking sound, "Obviously one of the things we need to discuss tomorrow when we're back in L.A. is you accepting help from people who want to help you. I really care about you, Niall, and I really care about Maggie too. I adore her, actually, and I want to help. After the show in L.A. tomorrow night my next show isn't for five days. I can sleep on the plane tomorrow morning and when we get home. Please tell me what I can do to help?"

Niall looks at Harry standing there, eager to help and clearly concerned about Maggie. How could he turn him away? If he's honest with himself he doesn't want to. If he's honest with himself then he has to admit he's a little scared to be by himself right now. Yes, it's only teething and between his Mum and Jessica he knows exactly what to do but he's still never gone through this before and he doesn't want to do something wrong that would make things worse for his baby girl.

"Okay," Niall's voice was barely above a whisper, "There's not really anything you can do except maybe pass me a teething ring that I have in the mini fridge. I'd be grateful for your company though. I've never done this before, obviously, and I'm not gonna lie, it'll be nice to not be alone."

Harry smiles and leans in to kiss Niall's forehead, "I can't even imagine how hard it must be to be a single parent. You won't be alone tonight, yeah? I'll be here and we'll get her through this nasty teething together."

Niall smiled gratefully and Harry opened up the fridge to get the chilled teething ring. He handed it to Niall and as soon as he held it up to Maggie's mouth she accepted it immediately, "There ya go, Mags. Feels nice, yeah? Nice and cool on your gums?" Niall rests his cheek on top of her head and sways her back and forth a little in a soothing manner. He looks at Harry again, "Her fever is back a bit. Can you get the infant Tylenol over there on the table? There's a little syringe with it. You just need to put 1ml in it."

Harry nods and walks over to the table, his face serious and his brow furrowed as he prepares the medicine just like Niall asked. Niall can't help but watch him and smile fondly. It's obvious he really cares about Maggie and genuinely wants to be there for her and Niall as well. If their talk tomorrow goes well and they really decide to give a relationship a go- well let's just say Niall is really excited about the prospect.

"Is this right, Ni?" Harry asks him, showing him the syringe that did indeed have exactly 1ml in it, "I don't want to accidentally overdose her or something."

Niall reaches up and cups Harry's cheek with his free hand, brushing a thumb over his dimple, "It's perfect. Thank you."

Harry beams at him and Niall hands him the teething ring to hold onto which very much upsets Maggie. She starts crying and Harry looks stricken for a moment until Niall tells him, "She hates this part. I don't know why. The medicine doesn't taste bad. I guess it's probably just strange to have this object coming at you, shooting liquid into your mouth."

"Poor baby," Harry coos at her and brushes a finger over her cheek to distract her while Niall puts the syringe to her lips and gives her the medicine, "It's okay. Daddy will be quick and then you'll get this back!" Harry says, showing her the teething ring.

When Niall is done and Harry holds out the teething ring for her, she whines and while looking extremely pissed off, holds her arms out for not only the teething ring but Harry as well. Niall laughs and lets her go to him, completely enamoured by the look on Harry's face when he takes the baby into his arms. He's beaming! His whole face is practically glowing and the smile is so huge on his face, Niall is sure if he put a finger in Harry's dimple it would completely disappear.

"She really likes me, Niall," Harry gushes, kissing the top of her head as she gnaws away on the teething ring, "Oh my God she's the sweetest baby. How can anyone not feel happy while looking at this face? This is going to be the best tour ever."

"I think you're probably right!" Niall laughs, "Today was so amazing! I had so much fun up on stage with you. You're pretty fun to watch. You put off a good show. Worth every penny the tickets cost."

"Thank you," Harry smiles bashfully, "That means a lot to me. You know what else meant a lot? Seeing you and Mitch getting along so well before the show. I knew you would. It was just nice to see anyway. When I spoke to him alone he told me he was impressed by you. Said you're brilliant and I'm in good hands. I happen to agree. In more ways than one."

Niall's eyes widened and he lightly smacked Harry on the arm, "Cheeky!"

Harry laughed, then looked down at Maggie in his arms, "Should we try to get her back to sleep?"

Niall nodded, "I want to see if she needs her nappy changed first."

So they laid Maggie down on the bed and checked her nappy, changing it when they found it was wet. Once that was done, Harry sat on the bed with her in his arms and Niall cuddled up into his side. He began to sing softly, lullabies he's sung to her before that Niall remembers Harry telling him his Mum used to sing to him. His voice is so soft and soothing, Niall isn't sure who fell asleep first- himself or Maggie.


~~~


Harry loved being on stage. Loved performing in front of a crowd, losing himself in the music and just having a good time. He loved it as a teenager, loved it when he was in One Direction and he was still loving it as a solo artist, maybe even more so. There was just something about getting up there on stage and knowing all eyes are on you, that they're there to see you because they like you and your music. It especially means a lot to Harry because he wrote all the songs on his album, so to see them being sung back to him makes him feel something he's never felt before.

Then, of course, there was his band. They were all brilliant and they all got along so well. It was obvious on stage the way they bantered with each other and Harry. He loved it so much, dancing around and having a laugh with them all, especially Niall. Niall was in a league of his own and it was becoming clear by only the second show that Harry's fans were noticing it too. When Harry would shimmy over next to Niall and dance all over him while Niall kept playing his guitar and throwing his head back in laughter, the crowd would become the loudest of the night. He noticed it in San Francisco and he was noticing it now in L.A.

When it's time to sing 'Kiwi', Harry decides to test it out even more by heading over toward Niall when they reach the part of the song where there's a little bit of a guitar solo going on. Instead of jumping around and head banging like normal, he stands to the side and simply points his fingers at Niall while he absolutely shreds the guitar and sure enough, the minute Harry points at him the crowd goes absolutely insane. He catches Clare's eye before he starts to sing again and she's laughing with a bit of a twinkle in her eye. She definitely notices it too.

After another amazing show is done, the band and a few other people like Jeff, Glenne, James, Julia, Louis, Eleanor, and other friends head back to Harry's house to have some drinks and finger foods. Nothing fancy just people who are close to him winding down after a great show.

It's after one in the morning when everyone leaves and after Niall checks on Maggie, Harry asks him if he wants to go back to his room so they can talk a bit. After the flight back from San Francisco that morning they hadn't had a chance to sit down and talk uninterrupted and Harry didn't really want to wait anymore. He was dying to know where he and Niall stood, if he could call Niall his boyfriend and shower him with all the attention and affection he deserved.

"I know it's been a long day but I was hoping we could talk now?" Harry said to Niall as he led him into the room and softly closed the door behind him.

"Definitely. I've been waiting all day to do this though," Niall says as he slips his arms around Harry's neck and brings him in for a kiss.

The kiss is soft and slow with Niall gently coaxing Harry's mouth open by nibbling on his bottom lip and licking over it. Harry tried to meet Niall's tongue with his own but Niall would snatch his back, teasing Harry until he eventually pulled Niall's body right up against his and growled low in his throat, "Stop being such a tease."

Niall grinned against Harry's lips and threaded his fingers up through Harry's hair, "Make me."

Harry grins back and pecks Niall's lips, nipping at them a bit as he slowly walks them over toward the bed, "I thought we were talking?"

Niall shrugs and quirks an eyebrow, then dissolves into loud laughter when he's pushed back onto the bed with Harry falling right on top of him. Harry lays there, watching Niall's face as his eyes crinkle with laughter and his cheeks turn a pretty pink. When he finally stops laughing enough to speak he says, "We're definitely talking but who says we can't snog a bit first?"

Harry grins and buries his face in Niall's neck, kissing his way up over his scruffy jaw to his lips. This time everything is serious as they both open their mouths and let their tongues tangle together languidly. Harry enjoys every second of it, tasting the whiskey off Niall's tongue that he had earlier and getting to know what makes Niall moan, what makes him whine and what makes him writhe underneath him. Harry stores it all away for later and eventually slowly winds down the kiss so they can talk.

"Really like these lips right here," Niall says softly, running a thumb across Harry's bottom lip.

"Feeling is mutual," Harry says, lifting his hand and doing the same thing to Niall. After they stare into each other's eyes for awhile, Harry asks, "Do you want to tell me about some of your concerns now?"

Niall nodded and Harry moved off of him so they could both lay on their sides looking at each other. He picked up Niall's hand in his and linked their fingers together, kissing Niall's knuckles and smiling at him to encourage him to begin.

"One of my concerns was that I liked you but you might only just be attracted to me and not want something more than just the physical. I was afraid to tell you how I felt because I didn't want to make things awkward if you didn't feel the same," Niall began, chuckling a bit, "Thankfully that's no longer a concern. I know now that you like me too."

"I do," Harry smiled softly at Niall, "I actually had that same concern. Aren't we a pair?"

"Apparently," Niall barks out a laugh and shakes his head in disbelief before continuing, "I guess my main concern now is what everyone will think. I don't usually care but I love this job and I love the friends I've made. I don't want Alex, Sarah and Clare thinking I'm going to get special treatment or better pay than them. I don't want everyone thinking I got this job because I slept with you when that's not even close to true. I don't want everyone to resent me I guess."

Harry nods slowly and thinks about what to say before he speaks. He decided to start with his team, "If we are choosing to go ahead and make a go of this, have a relationship, then you won't have to worry about any judgment or resentment from anyone on my team or my friends. Everyone on my team knows you by now and loves you. They've seen how hard you work and how talented you are. Every single one of them know you got the job because of that and not because of any relationship we have. If any of them have a problem, Clare can verify she's the one who brought you in and that you were very talented long before I met you. None of them will have a problem, though, especially not Alex, Sarah or Clare."

"As for my friends? They all know me well enough to know how serious I am about my music. How I only ever want the best so I can put out the best material for myself and for my fans. Not one of them or my family will even entertain the idea that you didn't get the job based on your talent."

Niall is biting down on his lip thoughtfully, his eyes moving around in his head, "The internet won't be so kind I assume?"

Harry smiled sadly and shook his head, "As much as I want to promise you they won't say anything bad about you, I can't. They say bad things about me everyday. It can get to you if you let it- so I don't. I just live my life for me and do what makes me happy. At the end of the day I know my friends and family will always love me and be there for me, supporting me. If you think the media is something that will bother you a lot, you need to tell me now before we go any further. I- I can't get in deep with you and then lose you down the road because they drive you away."

"I don't care what they say about me. I imagine it'll be a bit of an adjustment for me because I'm not used to being in the spotlight but I can definitely handle it. I'm more concerned about your family's opinion of me. Your friends. If you say they won't think I got this job because I was sleeping with you or that I'm using you somehow then I believe you," Niall says sincerely.

Harry smiles and leans in to kiss him, "I promise you nobody will be anything but happy about us dating. We can take it slow if you want. Not tell anyone for awhile."

Niall looks at him for a long moment, his eyes narrowing a bit. Harry is a bit taken aback, wondering what he said or did wrong, "That's actually another concern of mine. I don't know if you're even out and I don't want to hide. I've never hidden my sexuality and I never will."

"I'd never ask you too," Harry assures Niall, "I'm not hiding either. I haven't come out in an interview or gone on twitter and said I'm bi because I've never felt the need to define who I am for anybody. I'm not gonna lie, when I was in One Direction our management didn't want me to come out. I was under contract so I had to abide by that but it didn't stop me from dating men. I'd be seen out with guys and get papped but I never held their hand or made it obvious we were on a date so management couldn't touch me. They hated me though," Harry laughed, "Oh did they glare at me often."

"And now?" Niall asked.

"I still don't feel like I need to announce I'm bi but I don't have to be careful anymore either. If we go out somewhere and want to hold hands then we will and the media can say what they want, speculate however they want. If someone asks me point blank if you're my boyfriend then I'm going to tell them yes. I won't hide you or ask you to hide. I promise," Harry says, reaching up to cup Niall's cheek.

Niall smiles and leans into Harry's touch, "I really want this. I want to be with you. You're the first person I've ever wanted a real relationship with. Before I found out about Maggie I was more of a casual fling kind of guy. I was young, carefree, didn't mind that I didn't know where I'd be getting my rent money from month to month. I'm tired of that life now, and not just because of Maggie. I just want to start living for real. Have someone in my life I can count on and be happy with."

"I feel the same way. I've never had a long term relationship. I was a bit reckless with people and their feelings. I took for granted that they'd always be there. Now that the band is taking a hiatus I feel like my life is more steady, like I have more control and more time to get to know someone. I want to have a real relationship. I want someone I can spoil. I want that someone to be you and you better not fight me on the spoiling part! It'll make me very happy so please let me," Harry says, pleading with his eyes.

Niall chuckled and leaned in for a kiss, "Okay. Just nothing too flashy, yeah?"

"Really?!?!" Harry quickly sat up on the bed, his eyes wide, "Does this mean we can officially be a couple now? You're mine?"

Niall sat up to face him, his cheeks turning red from blushing. He smiles and looks down shyly, making Harry's heart swell of so many emotions he couldn't count, "Yes, I'm yours."

Harry squeals like a girl and he's not even embarrassed about it. He lunges at a laughing Niall and tackles him down onto the bed again, kissing all over his face and neck, "I can't believe this! I've wanted to be with you so much and now I am. You're incredible, Niall, seriously. I adore everything about you."

Niall's cheeks are flushed from laughing and he winds his arms around Harry's neck, "I adore everything about you, too. You're so good to me and Maggie. I couldn't ask for a better boyfriend. I'm really lucky to have you. Can I ask one thing though?" Harry nods, "Maybe take things slow like you suggested? Tell people we know and care about but keep it away from the public for a little bit? So we can just enjoy being together without any of that nonsense."

"Absolutely, darling. Whatever you want and whatever makes you comfortable," Harry smiles down at him, "Actually I quite like that idea. Not coming out to the world yet means we can still go places together without causing too much of a stir."

"Alright. I feel like we should be going to sleep since it's past two in the morning but I don't think I can sleep. I'm too happy," Niall says with a laugh.

"I don't want you to go either," Harry pouts, "How about I go downstairs and make us tea and we get some biscuits with it and bring it up here so we can snuggle together and watch tv?"

Niall laughs and kisses him softly and slowly, rendering Harry almost speechless, "Only if they're biscuits I can dip in my tea. You know I love doing that. I'll check on Mags while you're downstairs."

Harry can't wipe the grin off his face as he gets up off of Niall and helps him up off the bed. He can't wait to give this man everything he wants. If it's biscuits to dip in his tea right now then that's what he'll get. Harry just wants to give him everything. "Don't worry. I'll get your favourite biscuits. See you in a few minutes, yeah?"

"Definitely," Niall smiles at him and they walk hand in hand down the hallway, stopping at Niall's room to share a kiss before Harry heads downstairs and Niall goes into his room to check on Maggie.

 

~~~


They have a few days before the next show in Nashville so they don't leave L.A. right away. A couple of days after they became a couple and watched tv together in bed, Harry is out taking care of something so Niall and Maggie go over to Louis' house to hang out with him and Freddie all afternoon. Of course Louis seems to pick up on Niall's extra happy mood and keeps trying to get out of him what's got him like this. Eventually Niall caves and texts Harry to ask if he minds if he tells Louis about them by himself.

"Go ahead, sweetheart. I don't mind. He'll know where you're going when I come by to pick you up later. I've got a surprise for you!"

Niall is grinning at the text and swooning on the inside over Harry calling him sweetheart when Louis smacks him upside the head, "Oi! Who are you texting? Have you been shagging someone and didn't tell me?"

Niall grins and quickly sends Harry the kissy face emoji then lays his phone down on the table and grins at Louis, "We haven't shagged yet but I'm willing and ready for when we do!"

"FUCK OFF!!" Louis shouts and Niall is glad Maggie and Freddie are outside with Louis' sister, Lottie, because he really doesn't want that to be his baby's first word in a few months, "Who???"

Niall blushes, he knows he is, he can feel it. He also can't seem to stop the huge smile that's on his face, "Harry. We- we're together now."

Louis' eyes go wide then he throws his head back and laughs loudly while slapping his hand on the table, "You two twats finally figured it out? Thank fuck for that!"

Niall's mouth dropped open and he kicked Louis under the kitchen table, "What the fuck are you talking about? You knew we liked each other??"

Louis laughs loudly again and shakes his head at Niall, "Mate. If the two of you didn't get a room soon I was going to fucking lock you in one meself. The sexual tension between you and Harry was hot. I'm serious. The whole will they or won't they was killing me."

Niall blushes profusely and covers his face with his hands, groaning into them, "I could feel it and I knew Harry could but I didn't realize everyone else could feel it. Oh my God. This is embarrassing."

"Nah, mate, it's fine," Louis gets up and walks around the table to squeeze Niall's arm before grabbing his pitcher of lemonade from the fridge and refilling their glasses. He motions for Niall to follow him outside where they sat on loungers next to the pool watching Freddie play with Lottie and Maggie happily bouncing around in Freddie's old baby walker, "I knew Harry liked you and I figured you liked him too. You were both just too afraid to make a move it seemed like. I get it. Love is fucking scary sometimes."

Niall nearly chokes on his lemonade, "I don't think we're going to be professing our love for each other any time soon. We only just got together and we're only telling our friends and family yet. Taking things slow."

"Nothing wrong with that," Louis says, then stares off into the distance for a bit before he speaks again, "I'm happy about this. You're a good lad and Harry deserves this. He's my best mate even though we grew apart for a few years. I'm sure he's told you about the Larry thing. It put a strain on us and I was so livid about the hate Eleanor was getting that I wasn't always supportive of Harry being Bi. I didn't want him to come out because everyone would think they were right about Larry. I was happy management wouldn't let him. It was so selfish of me. It tore me up inside. He deserved better. He's forgiven me for all that but I still feel a bit guilty so I'm just happy he's finally getting to be himself."

Niall reaches over and lays a hand on Louis' forearm, squeezing gently, "He has told me a bit about the Larry thing. I'm just happy you guys have worked things out and moved on. I might not have met you otherwise and then who would I play video games with? Harry sucks at most of them!"

Louis cackles at that then takes a cigarette out of the pack in his pocket and lights up, "Too true, too true."

Niall and Louis spend the next hour chatting about different things and playing with the kids. Niall gets to know his sister a bit and finds he likes her almost as much as Louis. She's got a lively personality, something they must get from their Mum since he found out from Louis they don't share a biological father.

When Louis' phone goes off not long after Maggie and Freddie fall asleep for a nap, Louis looks at the text and starts laughing while looking up at Niall, "You might get your chance to shag Harry tonight, mate!"

"What?" Niall laughs in disbelief, his mouth hanging open as he walks over to try and get a look at Louis' phone. Louis pulls it away and narrows his eyes at him to keep him away.

"This text is from Harold. He's asking if I can babysit Maggie for the night so he can take you somewhere. It's a surprise apparently," Louis says as another text comes in. Louis looks down at it and snorts, "He is now saying to ask you if it's alright if I watch Maggie for the night."

Niall rolls his eyes and shakes his head fondly at his boyfriend. At least he remembered to ask Niall if the arrangements he made for his daughter were okay, "Is it okay with you? If you have plans or something- "

"I don't," Louis cuts him off, "I'd be happy to have Maggie here for the night with Freddie. I'd have two babies to smother in kisses. Lottie will love it too."

Niall nodded, "Tell him I said it's okay then. Maggie knows you pretty well and she likes you. I'm okay with you taking care of her."

Louis puts a hand over his heart, "Awww Neil. I love you, too, mate."

Niall rolls his eyes and shoves Louis in the shoulder, making the older man lose his balance and stumble yet still end up cackling like a mad man. When he regains his balance he goes back to texting and Niall huffs to show his impatience, "Tell my boyfriend he can text me himself."

Louis giggles, he honest to God giggles, then says to Niall, "No need. He says he'll be here to pick you up in an hour and he's stopping at home to get everything Maggie will need for her sleepover with Uncle Louis. I swear to God, Neil, you're like a little family already."

"I hate you," Niall says dryly but inside he's smiling because yeah, it is kind of like that and yeah, he really doesn't mind.

 

~~~

 

 

Harry showed up at Louis' house whistling and with a smile on his face, everything Maggie would need for an overnight stay neatly packed into a duffel bag since Niall already had the nappy bag here with him. He didn't bother to ring the bell, simply walked around the sprawling mansion toward the back where he knew Niall and Louis would be. It didn't take long for him to hear them, Louis' and Niall's loud laughter mingling together and Louis' strong northern accent taking over as he yelled excitedly about something.

When he rounded the corner it didn't take him long to figure out it was footie related. Niall and Louis were kicking a ball around gently while nineteen month old Freddie toddled along after it, earning cheers from his Dad and Niall when he managed to kick it all of an inch. Harry smiled wider as he watched. Freddie was certainly growing and even though Harry didn't get to see him often he's glad he's at least in his life. The way things were a bit strained with Louis for awhile, it may have never happened.

He let his eyes wander over toward the house and the pool area and his biggest smile of the day took over his face when he saw Maggie sitting on Lottie's lap under a table umbrella. She looked as pretty as ever in one of the sun dresses Harry had bought her, a matching headband around her head to complete the ensemble. She looked like she was having fun, her eyes wide as they followed the action out on the grass.

He let himself in through the gate and made his way over to the table, smiling and waving when Lottie noticed him. He said hello to her and kissed her cheek then reached for Maggie, lifting her up over his head and making her giggle, "How's my girl doing? How's Miss Maggie today?"

Lottie laughed and looked up at Harry making faces at Maggie then giggling when she reached for his nose, "She's an amazing, beautiful baby. I adore her already and I only just met her today. I hear I get to spoil her all night thanks to you."

Harry is still giggling when he brings Maggie down from over his head and rests her against his chest. He looks at Lottie and smiles wide, "She's the best baby and yes, I'm taking Niall somewhere on a date tonight. Somewhere private since we haven't really told anybody about us yet. I just told my Mum and sister this morning and I guess Niall or Louis filled you in."

"Yeah," Lottie chuckled, "Louis told me when he said we would have both Freddie and Maggie tonight. He's been teasing Niall a bit but I think your boy likes it."

Harry knew his whole face probably just lit up like a lightbulb at Lottie calling Niall his boy. He wanted to actually start squealing and jumping up and town but he'd rather not embarrass himself right now, especially in front of Louis who would never let him live it down, "He is my boy, isn't he? Is your Daddy my boy, Maggie? Is he?"

Maggie was paying absolutely no attention to him, too focused on playing with the necklace around his neck. He chuckled and kissed the top of her head, then turned in time to see Niall, Louis and Freddie coming toward them, the smile on Niall's face fond as he made eye contact with Harry. He liked that smile on Niall. Liked being on the receiving end of it.

"Hey you," Niall spoke softly, leaning up to kiss Harry on the cheek, "Went straight for my daughter before me, hmm? I see how it is."

Harry laughed and leaned in close to Niall, kissing his cheek right next to his ear and whispering, "You're always number one in my eyes. I'll show you tonight."

Niall's eyes widened slightly, then he quickly laid his forehead against Harry's shoulder, hiding the shy grin on his face from Lottie and Louis. As if that would ever stop Louis.

"Oi! None of that! There'll be none of that talk here you dirty bas- " Louis cuts himself off when he remembers Freddie in his arms, "Buggers. Dirty buggers."

"Bubbers!!!" Freddie screams, looking up at his Dad and giggling. Louis sighs and grabs onto Freddie's hand, pretending he was chewing on his fingers. He glanced over at everyone and shrugged, "It's not a bad word at least. Bri will be confused as hell but at least it's not a curse word."

Everyone laughs and Harry hands over the duffel bag he brought to Louis, "I wasn't sure how much supplies were in the nappy bag so I packed some extra nappies, formula, bottles and clothes for Maggie. I put everything in there that Niall uses for changing her. I know you have stuff for Freddie but what if it's a different brand or something and then it turns out she's allergic and then she'd have to go to the hospital so I just brought her stuff. It's safer that way."

Louis, Lottie and Niall are all just staring at Harry when literally at the same time, Louis starts cackling with laughter and Lottie starts cooing at how cute Harry is, "Oh my God! Harry you're like a new daddy! You're absolutely adorable."

Harry blushes profusely, embarrassed at clearly going a bit overboard. When he feels Niall slip his hand into his and look up at him with an adoring smile, all the embarrassment fades away and he smiles back, rubbing his thumb back and forth over Niall's knuckles, "Thank you for thinking of everything, H. It makes me really happy that my daughter has all these new people in her life who love her and want what's best for her."

Harry smiles and kisses Niall's forehead while Louis continues to shake his head at Harry, "I'm sure I can figure everything out, Harold. Not like I've taken care of many babies in my life or anything. Maggie will be perfectly fine. I have your number if I need to reach you."

Harry nods and hands Maggie over to Niall so he can kiss her goodbye. He steps forward and hugs Louis, wrapping his arms around Freddie who is still up in his arms. He thanks him again for watching Maggie then Niall hands her to Lottie and the two of them are walking hand in hand to Harry's car.

"I packed an overnight bag for you as well when I stopped at the house. Just a change of clothes for tomorrow," Harry says as they get in the car and put their safety belts on.

"So obviously we're not staying at your house tonight," Niall says, turning to face Harry as he turns the car around in the massive driveway and heads out, "Where are we going?"

Harry looked over at Niall while he waited for traffic to pass so he could pull out of Louis' drive. He looked really good today, soft almost. His hair wasn't styled so it fell over his forehead in curls, like he hadn't bothered to blow dry it after his shower that morning. His chin and cheeks were covered in stubble as usual and he looked comfortable in shorts and a plain t-shirt.

"Are you going to drive or just stare at me all day?" Niall asked, his eyes full of amusement and a smirk on his face.

Harry turned back to the road and saw there was no traffic anymore. He pulled out onto the road and started driving, chuckling as he put his window down to let the breeze in, "Could stare at you all day ya know? You're gorgeous."

Niall scoffs and turns back to stare out the windshield his cheeks turning red, "I'm not. I'm just average, me."

Now it's Harry's turn to scoff, "You're beautiful, baby. The most beautiful person I know. Inside and out."

Niall is still blushing and chooses not to answer him. Instead he asks, "Are you going to tell me where we're going?"

Harry lets it go for now. He'll just have to show Niall later how beautiful and sexy he is, "We're not going far. Malibu. Jeff's Dad has a beach house with a private beach. He said I could use it tonight. I wanted to take you on a date but if I took you out to a restaurant or something we'd have to act like friends and I don't want that. At my house the band is there and we haven't told them about us yet, plus I want us to be alone. So I figured this is perfect. I'm having dinner delivered and we can do whatever you want. There's films, video games, we can swim in the ocean. As long as I'm with you I don't care."

Niall reaches over for Harry's free hand that is resting on his thigh while he drives with the other. He links their fingers together and squeezes gently, "Are you serious, Harry? A private beach house? Fuck. That sounds incredible!"

"Yeah?" Harry asked hopefully, "You like it?"

"I love it, H!" Niall gushes, "I can't wait to go swimming in the ocean, just you and me. We don't have to share with anybody. I'll have you all to myself."

"That's exactly what I wanted. We head to Nashville in two days and the tour really kicks in. We won't get to be alone too often," Harry explains.

"God," Niall rests his head against the seat and smiles at Harry, the breeze coming in through his window ruffling his hair, "I'm really looking forward to this now. Thank you, baby."

"You're welcome, sweetheart," Harry said, smiling at his boyfriend. In fact the whole rest of the drive there, neither one of them stopped smiling for a minute.


~~~


Niall screams and laughs loudly as Harry comes up behind him in the ocean and wraps his arms around his waist, lifting him up and twirling him around as the waves gently crash around their knees. Harry is laughing in his ear and holding him tight so Niall holds on to his forearms and lets himself be twirled, closing his eyes and just letting Harry's laughter take him over.

When Harry finally stops spinning they're both laughing hysterically and also both dizzy so they fall backwards in the waves, holding hands and letting the waves bounce them around. It's perfect, it's relaxing and most importantly they're alone. Free to do whatever they want without a schedule looming ahead of them.

"Hey, H?" Niall floats on his back next to Harry, his voice sounding echoey because his ears were in the water, "Did you plan anything elaborate for dinner?"

Harry moves next to him and stands up in the waist high water. He pulls Niall up with him and they stand chest to chest, Harry with his arms around Niall's neck, "Not really. I had a nice restaurant in mind I was going to order from. Why? Did you have something else in mind?"

Niall shrugged, his hands running up and down Harry's sides and over his abs, "Not if it causes any trouble."

"Baby," Harry spoke softly, leaning in for a kiss, "It won't be any trouble at all. I haven't ordered anything yet. What would you like to do? Tell me."

Niall smiled and ran his hands up over Harry's chest and around his neck where he linked his fingers together, "I saw the BBQ on the deck. I was thinking something simple like steaks with some steamed veggies, maybe some baked potato and sour cream, some red wine. We could eat on the deck at sunset. Light some candles if there are any. Is that- is that too corny?"

Harry let out a long breath and shook his head, "God, no," Harry gushed, "That sounds incredible and perfect. I guess you're a bit of a romantic like me, huh?"

Niall blushes and dips his head, a small smile still on his lips, "I guess so? I never cared about any of that stuff until I met you. Now I find a million cliche romantic ideas running through my head. It's...a bit weird for me but in a good way? If that makes any sense."

"I love it. I love everything cliche when it comes to romance," Harry says, "I love your idea, too. Im gonna call and get everything we need delivered. I don't want to go to the shop myself and get papped. Then they'd know where I am."

Niall nods and steps in even closer to Harry, ducking his head to kiss along his shoulder, his lips catching little droplets of salt water on Harry's skin. He moves along to Harry's neck, nosing along the delicate skin all the way to his ear, "Get cake, too. I want cake for dessert."

Harry growled and picked Niall up in his arms, securing his arms around Niall's waist. Niall yells in surprise then throws his head back laughing, giving Harry perfect access to his neck, "Oh don't you worry, sweetheart, you're gonna get dessert."

Niall stops laughing when Harry nips at his neck and leaves open mouth kisses along his pale skin, over his pulse point. His tongue traces over the freckles on Niall's neck, sucking on them just enough to arouse Niall but not enough to leave a mark. Niall moans lowly and squeezes his thighs around Harry's waist, bucking his hips a little to let him know he wanted to take this further.

"I love your body so much, Niall," Harry whispered near his ear as he continued to leave open mouthed kisses on his skin, "You're so perfect. Your skin is so soft and smells so good. Your lips feel incredible against mine, your arms make me feel so good, so safe when you hug me. I can't fucking get enough of you."

Niall can't speak, he just whimpers and pulls Harry away from his neck so he can kiss his lips, the kiss turning passionate right away. Niall tightened his arms around Harry's neck and his legs around his waist, pulling him as close as possible as they kissed frantically, dragging their tongues over teeth and lips, biting and nipping at each other trying to take more, more, more.

Niall didn't even realize they were leaving the water, Harry walking them up onto the beach, until they stopped for breath and they were halfway up the beach. Niall gazed into Harry's eyes as they both struggled for breath, completely turned on by the fact he was being carried up the beach by his boyfriend.

"Harry..." Niall murmured, not able to say much else. His dick was getting hard and he could feel Harry's getting hard and resting against his ass.

"Yeah, sweetheart," Harry murmured back as they reached the steps to the deck and Harry began walking up, "I'm gonna take care of you right now. Gonna make you feel so good."

Niall moved his lips to Harry's, kissing him again, their tongues sliding together hot and slick in each other's mouthes. When Harry put him down in one of the deck chairs in the corner, their lips broke apart and Niall tried to chase Harry's, not wanting to stop kissing him.

"Shhh," Harry ran his hands up Niall's thighs and kneeled in front of him, "I'm gonna take care of you. Can I?" Harry reached for the waistband of Niall's swim shorts, asking if he could take them off. Niall quickly realized what Harry wanted to do and nodded vigorously, heat already pooling in his gut at the thought of his boyfriend sucking him off with those sinful lips.

Niall lifted his bum to help Harry get his shorts down, kicking them away once they were pooled around his ankles. His legs automatically fell open and Harry slid right in between, seemingly not even caring that he was kneeling on the hard wood of the deck. He looked like he was quite happy to be there and Niall certainly wasn't going to argue with him.

Harry kept eye contact with him as he ran his hands up over Niall's legs, his fingers tickling the sensitive skin on the inside of his thighs. He began to kiss his way up toward Niall's dick, murmuring softly in between kisses, "Do you have any idea-" kiss on the inside of his knee, "-how much I've-" kissing his way up over the inside of his thigh, "-wanted to get my hands on you?"

Niall can't look away from Harry's stare, completely mesmerized by his eyes, his voice, his touch. He can't respond. He's speechless and he finds himself sucking in a breath and holding it as Harry inches closer and closer to his cock. When his tongue came out and he licked over Niall's head then sucked it into his mouth, Niall moaned, letting the breath out that he was holding all at the same time. His hands gripped onto the arms of the chair so hard they turned white and he threw his head back, moaning softly over and over again as Harry sucked on his head, his lips puckered like he was sucking on a lollipop.

Harry pulled off after a minute, pumping Niall's cock with his hand and looking up at him with bright, green eyes full of lust, "You sound so sexy when you moan. Want to hear you more, yeah? Loud as you want. Nobody here to hear us. Just you and me."

"Jesus Christ," Niall gasped, his boyfriend was trying to kill him before he even got a chance to come, "Fuck, Harry."

"Mm," Harry hummed, sticking his tongue out to lick up Niall's cock from his balls to his head, "You can fuck me later. I'd really like you to, but right now I'm taking care of you."

Niall's breath hitched and he closed his eyes, immediately seeing images of Harry laid out underneath him, moaning as Niall took him apart. Those thoughts alone were enough to make his dick pulse and when he felt Harry wrap his lips around him and take him down his throat his eyes snapped open and he grabbed on to Harry's hair, bucking his hips up and practically shoving his dick down Harry's throat. Harry took it all in stride, though, and adjusted to it, bobbing his head up and down while Niall gripped onto his hair tightly with one hand, his other hand cupping his cheek and tracing his sharp jawline.

"Jesus, Harry. You're a fucking pro, baby," Niall murmured as Harry kept deep throating him eagerly, clearly enjoying it as much as Niall was, "You're amazing, baby, so fucking beautiful."

Harry's eyes were bright as as he looked up at Niall, his cheeks turning a pretty pink. Niall realized quite quickly that Harry must like it when he spoke to him that like. He liked being praised, liked making Niall feel good. So Niall continued to praise him, telling him how good he was, how good he was making him feel, how gorgeous he looked down on his knees like that. The more he spoke or moaned, the more Harry got worked up and worked even harder. Before long, Niall felt himself coming down Harry's throat while at the same time, Harry had a hand down his own swim shorts and was jerking himself off. When Niall was finished and Harry pulled off, gasping for breath, his own orgasm hit and he fell forward with his face in Niall's lap as the pleasure ripped through him and his body shook. Niall is trying to catch his own breath but he held him through it and then the both of them lay there together in a heap, Niall half hanging off the chair and Harry's upper body sprawled out in his lap.

"Well," Niall says after awhile, his fingers slowly threading through Harry's hair, "If Jeff's Dad has security cameras out here, I'd say we just shot our first porn film."

Harry began to shake with laughter in his arms, lifting his head to look at Niall with a big smile on his face. Niall laughed as well and he felt warm all over- not just because he just came but because he loved being here with Harry and having intimate moments like this, where they can just laugh together and be happy.

"Oh God," Harry shook his head, "Have I told you that I like you a lot? I really, really like you a lot."

Niall grinned and leaned forward to kiss Harry's lips softly, "I really, really like you a lot too."

After that they both managed to push themselves up with grins on their faces. Harry dropped his shorts completely and they both walked naked into the house to head for a shower. This was the first time Niall was seeing Harry completely naked and he had to say he really enjoyed the view. He was full of toned muscle but there were also places where he was soft, like right above his hips and his bum was small and perky. Niall wanted to grab it so he did, reaching forward and smacking Harry's ass as they walked to the bathroom. Harry shouted in surprise then began to laugh when he looked over his shoulder and saw Niall grinning at him.

"Couldn't wait until later, huh?" Harry winked at him then turned the corner into a large, spacious bathroom.

Niall followed him in and quickly spun him around, pinning him against the counter, "Did you mean it? You want me to fuck you later?"

Harry's smile dropped and he looked at Niall seriously, "Yeah. So badly. Unless...do you not like to top?"

Niall leaned forward and kissed him, his tongue sliding into Harry's mouth and tangling with his. He kissed him thoroughly before stepping back, "I love to top. I can't wait."

"Shower first. Then dinner. Want this night to be special," Harry whispers, his hands coming up on Niall's hips.

Niall smiled up at his boyfriend and reached up to tuck a piece of his hair behind his ear, "Where did you come from, hm? I swear you're perfect."

"I'm not," Harry shook his head, "But I can promise you I'll always try my best when it comes to you and Maggie. I want to always be the best I can be for you two. You both mean a lot to me."

Niall had to bite down on his lip to try and keep the tears in his eyes from falling. Harry never, *ever* forgot to include Maggie and that did so much to Niall's heart he couldn't even explain. Clearing his throat before he speaks, he tells Harry, "You mean a lot to us, too, Harry. We both adore you."

Harry smiled sweetly at him then took his hand in his and said, "Come on, love, let's shower."


~~~

 

"Niall," Harry closed his eyes and savoured the piece of steak he had just put in his mouth. It was medium rare, just the way he asked Niall to do it and it had just the right amount of BBQ sauce. It was perfect. As if he had ordered it in a restaurant, "This is delicious. Oh my God."

Niall took a bite of his own steak and nodded his head, "It is pretty good, isn't it? I think it's more thanks to the quality of meat you ordered though. You must have gotten it from a good butcher."

"Sure, it's quality meat but you could have burned it to a crisp. You didn't, though, you cooked it perfectly and I enjoyed watching you," Harry said, a smirk on his face.

Niall laughed, "You liked my dancing while grilling did ya?"

"Um, yeah?" Harry looked at Niall like he was crazy, "You're wearing nothing but a pair of shorts and wiggling your ass around. You have a sexy little bum you know?"

Niall laughed again and hooked his foot around Harry's ankle under the table. His cheeks were flushed, his hair was a sexy mess on his head, and his eyes were bright, even as it grew dark outside. He was so perfect and Harry was pretty in love with him. He wasn't about to say so yet, it was too early, but he was definitely in love with the precious man sitting across from him and he was loving every minute of it.

"You're ridiculous," Niall shook his head and picked up his wine glass, drinking a sip. "It's been fun here so far hasn't it? I'm really enjoying being with you like this."

Harry looked around them and smiled in agreement. It was definitely romantic. A great meal, bottles of wine, the sun setting over the water, soft music coming from Harry's phone, candles lit in the centre of the table and along the railing of the deck, "Yeah," Harry said softly, "I'm really enjoying being here with you, too."

They eat in comfortable silence for the next few minutes, playing footsie under the table and giggling like two teenagers. It's only when Harry remembers something he wanted to tell Niall that he speaks again, "Oh! I forgot to tell you about an article Jeff sent me this morning. A review actually. By Rolling Stone. There was someone at the show in L.A."

"Yeah?" Niall finished his meal and pushed his plate to the side, lifting his glass of wine to take a drink. After he swallowed he put the glass down and sat up straight, "Wait! Let's get coffee and cake first, then tell me everything yeah?"

Harry agrees and they both get up to clear the table and make coffee. Niall loads everything in the dishwasher while the coffee brews and Harry gets the cake out of the fridge and cuts off two generous pieces. Once the coffee is done they each make their own cup then head on out to the deck to sit on the cushioned swing with their coffees on the table next to it.

"So?" Niall curls his legs up underneath himself while Harry leaves his down so he can use his feet to keep them swinging at a gentle pace, "How was the review? Good right? It had to be! You were amazing!"

Harry swallowed his bite of cake and grinned at Niall, "I did get a good review. It was so good. To get a review like that from Rolling Stone...it's like a dream come true. I wasn't the only one who got a good review though."

Niall's eyebrows scrunched together in that cute way that they do and he looked at Harry with his fork paused in mid air, "What do you mean?"

Harry grabs his phone from the table where it was still playing music softly and opens up the e-mail Jeff sent him. He skips most of it, knowing he can let Niall read it later, and gets right to the part he wants Niall to hear right now, "Listen to this, baby."

However, Styles wasn't the only one on stage last night whom the crowd was enamoured with. Getting cheers almost as loud as Styles was lead guitarist, Niall Horan. Every time Styles shimmied across the stage near Horan, or mentioned him by name while introducing his band, the crowd roared and cheered, almost like they were trying to keep Styles by Horan's side throughout the whole show. By the end of the night it became clear that Horan possessed just as much charm and charisma as Styles himself and when you put the two of them together the chemistry is explosive.

"What the fuck??" Niall put his cake down and grabbed Harry's phone to look for himself. His eyes move rapidly over the screen and his jaw practically drops to the floor, "Oh my God! I'm mentioned in a Rolling Stone review. Me! I can't believe this is happening! How is this happening?"

Harry laughs and pulls Niall against him, kissing his temple and his cheek before finally kissing his lips, "It's happening because you were simply being you, just like you always are. You're brilliant, baby, and everyone is noticing. I'm so proud! Being on stage with you is so incredible. It makes me so happy to know everyone else is noticing how good you are and how happy you make me out there on that stage."

Niall's face crumpled like he might cry, so Harry pulled him into his chest and held him tight, "I can't believe it. I mean- I know it's your show and you're the star but- the fact that someone noticed me and wrote about me...me Mum and Dad are gonna be so proud."

"Yeah, they will be. Just as proud as I am," Harry whispered, kissing Niall's cheek by his ear.

Niall pulled back and the two men stared at each other intensely, Niall's eyes watery from being choked up and Harry's shining and full of pride. His love for Niall was probably written all over his face right now but he really didn't care, made no move to hide it. He wouldn't say the words yet but he couldn't help how he felt. He wasn't going to hide it.

"You're so good to me," Niall breathed out, leaning in to press his lips to Harry's. His hands came up to rest on Harry's cheeks and Harry leaned into the touch and the kiss eagerly, always ready and willing to accept a kiss from his boyfriend.

This wasn't just an ordinary kiss though, Harry soon realized. It turned passionate very quickly and the next thing he knew, Niall was crawling into his lap and his fingers were sliding up into Harry's hair, tugging on it as his tongue enthusiastically explored his mouth.

Harry held onto Niall like his life depended on it, his fingers digging into Niall's back as he kissed back with just as much passion and enthusiasm. When they both had to pull back for air, Niall kissed down along his jaw, his neck, his shoulder and his chest, nipping with his teeth and licking his tongue out to soothe the skin. Harry was getting hard and he made it known to Niall by bucking up his hips and letting him feel his hardness through his shorts.

"Niall," Harry gasped out his name when Niall puckered his lips around one of his nipples, "Niall. Take me inside. Please. Want you to fuck me now. Need you too."

Niall lifted his head and looked into Harry's eyes, his own eyes dark and full of desire, "Yeah?" He panted as he tried to catch his breath, "You sure?"

Harry nodded vigorously, biting down on his bottom lip and widening his eyes. He knows how he looks when he does that and thankfully it had the exact affect on Niall he hoped it would because Niall growled low in his throat and kissed him hard before sliding off his lap and reaching out a hand to pull him up.

They headed through the sliding glass doors hand in hand, leaving their coffee's untouched and their cake half eaten. The mosquito's would get it now and Harry could care less. Right now Niall was like a man on a mission leading him toward the bedroom to fuck him and that's all Harry cared about. It's been too long since he's had sex with any gender and he needed Niall to touch him...now.

"Did you bring lube and stuff?" Niall asked him once they entered the bedroom and closed the door behind them.

"Yeah," Harry nodded and jerked his chin in the direction of their bags, "In my bag."

Niall quickly went over and opened Harry's duffel, rooting around until he got his hands on the lube and condoms. He put them on the table by the bed then walked back over to Harry with a tender smile on his face, "Come 'ere."

Harry willingly stepped into his arms and let Niall hold him while they kissed. It was soft and gentle and Harry melted into it, immediately feeling all sorts of feelings he's never felt before when kissing someone else. Even though Niall hasn't said the words 'I love you', that's exactly how he made Harry feel- loved, and he never quite felt that with Taylor, Xander or Kendall. He thought he was close to having it with Kendall. He was infatuated with her for a bit and twice they tried to make a relationship work but now that he's with Niall and Niall is touching him and kissing him so tenderly, he realizes what he had with her was nothing compared to what he has with Niall.

The realization of this hits him and he shudders and pulls away from the kiss to gasp in a breath. Niall looks at him concerned and rests his hands on his cheeks, "Are you okay, H? Did I do something wrong? Are we moving too fast?"

"No!" Harry gasps out the word and then takes a deep breath to try and calm down, "No. God, no. I want this, trust me I do. It just- it just hit me that nobody else in my life has ever made me feel the way you do. Has ever treated me the way you do. It's a lot to take in. It's terrifying yet so, so good."

Niall smiles and moves his hands down to wrap around Harry's waist, "I'm glad because my feelings for you are so strong and I can honestly say you make me feel like nobody else ever has before. Like I'm so special. Like I'm the only one in the room when there are actually thirty people around. It's amazing."

Harry smiles his big smile, the one that brings his dimples out, and he knows Niall loves it because he immediately reaches up with his hand to fit one of his thumbs in a dimple. Harry can't help but giggle and then they're kissing again while both giggling. It's amazing to Harry but he thinks it's already the best sex he's ever had and they haven't even done anything yet.

"Come on, baby," Niall slides his hands down over Harry's back and down into his shorts, cupping his bare ass, "Let me take care of you yeah?"

Harry nods and stands still while Niall pushes his shorts off. He's standing there completely naked in front of Niall now and he has to admit, he loves the way Niall stands back and slowly rakes his eyes over him, licking his lips while he does so. It's a thrill for Harry to be appreciated by someone who means so much to him. A much different feeling than when a fan says he or she likes his body.

"Let's get you on the bed," Niall says, leading Harry over by the hand and asking him to lay down on his back with his head on the pillows. While he's doing that, Niall drops his own shorts and then he's straddling Harry on the bed, immediately kissing his neck and running his hands up and down over his chest. It feels amazing having Niall's hands and lips all over him at the same time. He was feeling so many sensations right now all he could do is lay back and enjoy every single one of them.

"You're so sexy, H," Niall whispers as he kisses over one of his swallow tattoos, "Your tattoos look so good on your skin," he kisses down over his pecs, licking his tongue out and catching a nipple while his thumb tweaks the other one, "and you're so toned in all the right places," he spends a bit of time on Harry's nipples until he's moaning and fisting Niall's hair between his fingers, "but then down here just above your hips," Niall moves down to lovingly leave open mouth kisses there, "you're soft instead of toned and I love that part of your body just as much as I love all the toned parts." he kisses his way over to Harry's abs now, nosing along the fine line of hair that leads down to his cock, "and this right here is sinful when you're walking around in trousers with no shirt on. I know where this leads and I've wanted to just bury my face here for a long time now. Wanted to kiss you here and then move on down to your cock."

Harry bites down on his lip and tips his head back against the pillows. The way Niall was kissing him, touching him, and talking to him was making him so hard. He had to concentrate not to get too aroused too quickly and have it all come to an end too soon. He didn't want to come until Niall was inside him and ready to come with him.

Niall moves his body off of Harry and pushes Harry's legs open so he can fit in between. Harry watches him as he kneels there, pumping his own hard cock and moaning low in his throat. It's an incredible sight that he wishes he could record.

When Niall bends down and takes Harry's cock into his mouth for the first time, Harry honestly doesn't know what to do with himself. It's been so long since he's felt the wet heat of someone's mouth on him that he feels almost like his brain is short circuiting and all he can do is hold onto Niall for dear life.

"Ni- Niall, fuck," Harry manages to choke out as he grips onto Niall's hair with one hand, his other hand gripping the sheets, "Feels incredible, baby. So good."

Niall hums around his cock and keeps going, bobbing up and down, sometimes sucking on the head, sometimes licking over it or swirling his tongue around. He's got one hand wrapped around the base and sometimes he'll let go and drop it down to his balls, squeezing and rolling them around, intensifying all the feelings Harry was having. It was all too much yet not enough and Harry could barely do anything but moan low in his throat and continue to grip Niall's hair between his fingers.

By the time Niall pulled off and smirked up at him, Harry was a mess and on the edge, ready for Niall to just pound into him already. "Can you hand me the lube, baby?" Niall asked softly, his hands gently running up and down Harry's thighs.

Harry twists his upper body and reaches over onto the table for the lube, tossing it down to Niall and opening his legs up even wider for Niall, signalling he was more than ready. Niall grinned at him and moved up closer to him on his knees, lifting Harry's legs slightly over his own so he had better access to Harry's ass, "I wish you could see what a sight you are right now."

Harry huffed out a laugh and threw an arm over his face, "That bad huh?"

The bed shifted and then Niall was on him, removing his arm from his face and kissing him, "That good, baby. So good. Like you're being taken apart and knowing I'm the one making you feel that way is..." Niall blew out a breath, unable to think of a word apparently.

Harry reached up and cupped his cheek, "Finish taking me apart, yeah? Wanna get fucked really good."

Niall's eyebrow quirked up and he moved back down between Harry's legs with a grin on his face, "I'll see what I can do."

Even though he hasn't had sex in ages, having fingers up his ass wasn't a foreign concept. He fingers himself when he's in the mood, uses toys too, but somehow none of that comes close to the way Niall's fingers feel in him or the way Niall looks when he's fingering him open while running his other hand up over Harry's thigh and kissing the inside of his knee or sucking on the head of his cock. It was clear Niall was enjoying this every bit as much as Harry was.

By the time Niall is up to three fingers and Harry is practically riding them by thrusting his body down to meet his every stroke, both men have a sheen of sweat glistening on their bodies and both men are breathing heavily. Harry reaches for a condom while Niall puts lube on his cock. He sits up a bit to slide the condom onto Niall then they both stroke Niall's dick to put lube on the outside of the condom.

"Do you want it this way?" Niall asks, hovering over Harry with his arms holding him up.

Harry lifts his legs and wraps them around Niall's back with a cheeky grin on his face, "For now, yeah. We can try different positions later. I don't plan on sleeping much tonight, do you?"

Niall answers by rubbing the head of his cock over Harry's entrance and teasing him. Harry bites down on his lip and moans lowly, wiggling his bum around impatiently. Niall grins down at him for a few seconds before leaning down and kissing him until they're both serious again, "Let me know if I'm hurting you, yeah?"

Harry nodded then rested his hands on Niall's lower back as Niall began to push into him. There was the inevitable discomfort at first but Harry's used to it and it doesn't bother him. He's had sex before and played with enough toys on his own to be familiar with how it all feels.

Once Niall pushes all the way in he gives Harry a moment to adjust and Harry can't help but smile at the way Niall buries his face in his neck and kisses him softly there while whispering how sexy he is in his ear. It's an intimacy during sex that Harry hasn't bothered with before. He hasn't wanted to and neither have his partners. Now that he has Niall he can't imagine doing this without it.

"Okay?"Niall lifted his head away from Harry's neck to look into his eyes, "You good?"

Harry grinned and ran his hands up and down Niall's back. He tightened his legs around Niall's waist and pulled him down into a hot, open mouthed kiss. Before he pulled back he bit down playfully on Niall's bottom lip, "I'm really good. Fuck me."

Niall chuckled and playfully nibbled along Harry's jaw while beginning to thrust his hips slowly, building up a rhythm. Harry kept Niall close to him, the two of them taking turns kissing each other. Harry's hands moved along Niall's back, his shoulders, up into his hair and even down to squeeze his ass which earned him a guttural moan from Niall.

"Harry..." Niall breathed out his name as he picked up speed, really pounding into Harry now, changing the angle to hit that important bundle of nerves. When he found it, Harry cried out and arched his back off the bed making Niall smile softly and kiss along Harry's cheek to his lips, "There we go. That feels good, yeah?"

Harry dug his fingers into Niall's back and started thrusting his hips in time with Niall's, moaning and panting every time Niall's cock hit his spot, "Yeah. Yeah. So good. So fucking good, Niall."

They didn't speak anymore as they continued to move together on the bed. They were moving faster now, the headboard rhythmically hitting the wall every time Niall pounded into him. The only other sounds in the room were their heavy breathing, moaning and occasional cursing when something felt really good. By the time Harry felt himself ready to come he didn't even have to say anything. It was like- as corny as this sounds- when their bodies joined together they became in sync because Niall moved a hand in between their bodies and started tugging on Harry's cock hard and fast until Harry was calling out his name and throwing his head back with his mouth open in pleasure.

Niall moved to pull out but Harry stopped him, shaking his head and even though his chest was heaving he managed to say, "No. Keep going. Want you to come while inside me."

So Niall kept going, thrusting inside of Harry a few more times while Harry held him. When he came, he moaned Harry's name against his neck and Harry closed his eyes, enjoying the feel of Niall's cock pulsing inside him as he came into the condom.

Harry doesn't know how long they lay there regaining their breath and composure. He just knows he's never felt happier and so in love before. Life is good.


~~~


It's approaching midnight when Niall and Harry leave the bedroom, walking down the hall hand in hand in just their boxer shorts. Nights can be a little cool in September so Harry lights a fire in the fireplace while Niall goes outside to collect their plates and cups they left out there. He's cutting off new pieces of cake and making hot chocolate when Harry walks into the kitchen and wraps his arms around him from behind.

"Today has been incredible," Harry whispered in his ear, "Not lying when I say that was the best sex I've ever had."

Niall grins and blushes, trying to concentrate on getting the cake on plates, "For me too. It's a wonder I was able to last as long as I did since it's been almost a year since I've had sex. Probably the last time was when Ashley was five or six months pregnant."

Harry lets go of him and Niall turns around to see a confused look on his face, "What do you mean? You took that girl back to your room in August. When we were in New York."

Niall drops his knife on the counter and stares at Harry with raised eyebrows, "What are you talking about? What girl?"

Harry opens and closes his mouth a couple times before he answers, "When we went to that club after Fallon. I saw you dancing and kissing some girl." He pauses and blushes a little, looking down at his feet, "I was so jealous. I admit I've never been so jealous before. I left right away and went back to the hotel."

Niall stared at Harry with wide eyes for a minute then burst out laughing, "Oh my God, Harry! I never took her back to my hotel room!"

Harry's head snapped up and he looked at Niall with his mouth hanging open, "You didn't?"

"Nooooo," Niall laughed again and lifted his arms up to wrap around Harry's neck, pulling him close and kissing him, "In fact, the whole time I was dancing with her and kissing her I could only think of you. I wanted her to be you so badly."

"Really?" Harry whispered, his teeth digging into his bottom lip.

"Yeah, baby. It's been you since practically the moment we met. I just didn't think I could ever have you so I was trying to get over you," Niall said softly, his fingers playing with the hair at the back of Harry's neck.

"Oh God," Harry shuddered out a breath and the next thing Niall knew he was being lifted off the ground and quickly wrapped his legs around Harry's waist to steady them. Harry buried his face in Niall's neck and even then Niall could hear how choked up he was when he spoke, "I was so hurt that night. Even though I had no right to be. We weren't together so you could do whatever you want with whomever you want but it felt like a knife to my heart. I'm so glad you didn't take her back to your room. I don't like thinking of you with anyone else."

Niall held onto him tightly, kissing his cheek and rubbing a hand over his back soothingly, "Never, H. You're the only one I want. You're so special to me, yeah? To me and Maggie." Niall is silent for a minute then, "For the record, I don't like thinking of you with anyone else either."

Harry laughed into his neck then lifted his head to peck Niall's lips, "Thank you. You always make me laugh. Even when you don't mean to."

Niall grinned and looked into Harry's eyes, "Good. I'm glad. Now put me down before our hot chocolate gets cold."

Harry laughed again and put Niall down. He grabbed the two plates of cake while Niall grabbed the hot chocolates and they made their way into the living room to sit down on the mountain of pillows Harry had thrown in front of the fireplace.

"I'm just going to check my phone real quick to make sure everything is okay with Maggie," Niall says after he has a few bites of his cake.

Harry motions for him to go ahead so he picks up his phone off the coffee table and looks to see if he has any messages. He almost panics when he sees several texts from Louis but only smiles when he realizes they're pictures of Maggie with Freddie or Louis and Lottie.

"Look, H," Niall shows the phone to Harry, "My princess. She's so pretty."

Harry coos and takes the phone from Niall to scroll through the photos, "She is! Look at her laughing! I can just hear her in this one. I love her so much. I miss her."

Niall looked fondly at Harry as he scrolled through the photos. He wasn't oblivious to how lucky he and Maggie were to have met Harry. He treats them both so well and he's just great for them. It also melts his heart a bit- okay a lot- to see everyday how much Harry adores Maggie. He really couldn't imagine a better role model for his daughter.

"I miss her too," Niall admitted, "Even though we only saw her earlier today. Funny that."

Harry smiled at Niall and handed him back his phone, "Luckily she'll be right there with us on tour so we can see her whenever we want to. I was actually thinking we could get rooms next to each other in all the hotels if you want? With an adjoining door so we can spend the night together whenever we want to. Obviously you don't have to. You can always sleep in your own room if you want. I was just thinking-"

"Harry," Niall laughed and put a hand on his arm to stop him from rambling, "That sounds fine. Do you honestly think I don't want to spend every night with you now that I have you? The adjoining door is a good idea as well. Maggie can sleep in the one room so I can have my way with you in the other. We'll have lots of adrenaline to work off after your shows I reckon."

Harry grinned and put his now empty plate on the table then he wrapped his arms around Niall and lay them both down on the pillows, Harry half on top of Niall, "I like the way you think, Horan. There's nothing I'd like more than for you to fuck me until I'm exhausted after a show."

Niall throws his head back and laughs loudly at that. Harry starts laughing too and before they know it they're rolling around on the floor laughing hysterically like children. Niall is the happiest he's ever been and all he can think about when they stop laughing and Harry holds him in his arms is how this is only the beginning and the best is yet to come.


~~~


They spend the next three weeks touring the U.S. and every show is even better than the last. The smaller, more intimate venues are working out as great as Harry had expected. He spent time in between songs talking to the room and it really felt like he was personally talking to each fan because everyone was so close. There really was no nose bleed section in these venues and Harry loved it. He almost forgot what it was like since he hasn't performed in venues this small since he went on tour with One Direction in support of their very first album.

The reviews that came in after every show kept getting better and better as well. Niall was mentioned in every single one of them as the chemistry between he and Harry seemed to be taking over bit by bit the more people see them interacting together. Videos that fans take with their phones get posted on Twitter and Instagram and soon it's brought to his and Niall's attention that they have been given a ship name.

"A what name?" Niall asks, confusion taking over his face when Lou tells them about it one night before a show. She's doing Harry's hair and Niall sits in the chair next to him with Maggie on his lap, feeding her a bottle before he says goodnight to her and the nanny takes her back to the hotel for bed.

Harry smiles at Niall in the mirror since he can't turn his head to look at him, "A ship name is when the fans fancy us together so they put our names together. Are they calling us Narry or Hiall, Lou?"

"Narry," Lou tells them, a twinkle in her eye, "I'm surprised nobody else has told you yet. We all had a grand laugh taking the piss at lunch today."

Harry laughed loudly, pitching forward in the chair and making Lou tsk at him. Niall remained quiet, still with a confused look on his face, "Narry? So...Harry's fans want us to date?"

"Yeah," Harry shrugged, a lopsided grin on his face, "Remember I told you about Larry? Well apparently there's a large portion of the One Direction fan base out there that wants me to be with you or thinks we're already together."

"At least they're right this time," Lou snorted as she turned on the blow dryer to start shaping Harry's hair.

Lou knew about Harry and Niall's relationship. Everyone on Harry's team did now. After their romantic night away at Irving Azoff's beach house, they headed to Nashville to continue the tour and gathered everyone there to let them know. Niall had been extremely nervous and held Harry's hand so tight it actually hurt but just as Harry predicted nobody was upset by it. Everyone loved Niall and Maggie and were happy for them. In fact it's become the norm for everyone to tease them, always jokingly asking if Harry and Niall want them to babysit Maggie so they can have some alone time. The first time it happened it was one of the sound guys and Niall had run after him trying to kick him in the arse and told him he wouldn't leave Maggie with him if he was the last person on earth. Harry had stood back with some of the other guys, laughing so hard they were crying as they watched it unfold.

Niall didn't say anything else while Lou finished Harry's hair. He finished giving Maggie her bottle and burped her, all while Harry watched him with a concerned expression on his face through the mirror.

Lou finished his hair shortly after and packed up her stuff, leaving them alone with kisses to both their cheeks. When she was gone, Harry turned in his chair and looked at Niall, reaching out a hand to brush over Maggie's cheek, "Are you okay? Are you upset about the Narry thing?"

Niall looked at him and shook his head, a small smile on his face. He got up and moved over to sit on Harry's lap, Harry, immediately wrapping his arms around both Niall and Maggie, "Not upset. Overwhelmed. I'm trying to wrap me brain around it. You and Louis have both told me about the fans and how much they love you guys and want to protect you. I guess it's just crazy to me that they must like me and trust me if they want me to be with you. Then there's the articles! Big time journalists whose reviews of other artists I've been reading for years are all of a sudden noticing me on stage next to you and writing about me in articles about you. It's mind blowing! I just- I don't know what to do with all of it."

Harry kissed the side of Niall's neck and rested his hand on top of the one Niall had on Maggie's back, linking their fingers together, "You just enjoy it. I know it's hard for you to hear but you deserve this. You're that good, Niall. I've been telling you since the moment I first heard you play. Everyone has been telling you. You're not only good at guitar but your stage presence is amazing. The fans and critics both love the way we move around each other on stage. They love the way we laugh and mess around together, they love that chemistry they can clearly feel in a room full of a few thousand people. Just enjoy it, baby. I know I do. I'm so proud of you and I'm so proud to be with you and to have you up there every night helping me entertain people and play the music I love and worked so hard on."

By the time Harry was finished, Niall's eyes were filled with tears and he pulled Harry into him, kissing him hard and with so much passion it nearly took Harry's breath away. They were still kissing minutes later when they were interrupted by a soft voice.

"Oops! Sorry to interrupt," It was Jessica and when Harry looked around Niall he saw her standing there with Maggie's car seat, a fond smile on her face, "I know you're going on stage soon so I came to collect Maggie. Do you need a few more minutes?"

Niall laughed and shook his head, standing up with Maggie still in his arms, "No, it's good. God, how many times have you had to walk in and find us kissing? I'm so sorry."

Jessica laughed and shook her head, "Don't be ridiculous! You're young and in love! I enjoy seeing you both so happy together."

Harry nearly choked and his eyes immediately jumped to see Niall's reaction. Niall's back was to him, though, and he couldn't see the expression on his face. Neither one of them had said 'I love you' yet even though Harry knew without a doubt he was in love with Niall. He was pretty sure Niall loved him too but he didn't want to rush anything and he didn't want Niall to get spooked by a comment from the nanny. Thankfully Niall just laughed and when he turned around to bring Maggie over to say goodnight, his face appeared normal.

"Goodnight my sweet girl," Harry stood up and kissed the top of Maggie's head while rubbing her back with his hand. She was practically asleep in Niall's arms already and it was the most adorable thing. "I'll see you in the morning."

Niall caught his eye and they smiled softly at each other, yet another moment when the three of them have bonded. It's happened a lot and so many thoughts have gone through Harry's head like is it too soon to be so in love with someone and their daughter? Is it too soon for Harry to be getting so close to Maggie? If he and Niall break up someday is his heart going to be broken twice from missing Maggie too? Yet, Harry doesn't make any move to stop it, despite all the questions running around in his head. He loves Niall and Maggie and he refuses to believe anything could go wrong that would result in them breaking up.

"Alright," Harry is broken out of his thoughts by the sound of Niall's voice speaking to Maggie. When he looks, Niall is settling her in her car seat and covering her in a blanket, "I love you so much, little girl. You're my pride and joy. Daddy will come kiss you when I get back from work. Sweet dreams."

Harry watched Niall stand up and hand the car seat to Jessica. After saying goodnight to both of them, Jessica headed out with one of Harry's security to drive her back to the hotel. Once she was gone, Niall turned back around to grin at Harry, "You ready for another great show?"

Harry laughed and walked over to wrap Niall in his arms, "Let's do this."


~~~


Harry is an idiot. A stupid, forgetful, idiot. They had finished the last show of this leg of the tour in Phoenix a couple hours ago, and now Harry was laying in bed tangled up with Niall after some pretty amazing sex, when it popped into his head that he completely forgot to bring up to Niall about him meeting Harry's Mum and Sister. He meant to bring it up weeks ago because after a week and a half off the tour resumes in Europe and when it reaches London, Harry's Mum and sister were obviously going to be there. He had meant to ask Niall if he wanted to meet them during the break so it wasn't so hectic on show day but he completely forgot.

"You okay, baby?" Niall's sleepy voice interrupted his thoughts, "Your body just tensed right up."

Harry looked down at Niall who was laying with his head on Harry's chest, and smiled in spite of his previous thoughts. Looking at Niall or even just thinking about him always made him smile. His boyfriend was like a ray of sunshine, always smiling or laughing, always upbeat, always finding the positive in anything. He was a truly amazing human being and Harry was very well aware of how lucky he was to have him.

"I'm okay, love. I just remembered something I was supposed to talk to you about a few weeks ago but I forgot and now it's kind of late. I was just thinking of how stupid and forgetful I am sometimes," Harry said, chuckling a bit at himself.

Niall lifted his head off of Harry's chest and looked up at him with sleepy eyes and pouty lips. He was fucking adorable, "Hey, now. Don't be talkin' about my boyfriend like that. I happen to think he's pretty intelligent, not stupid."

Harry looked into Niall's eyes and it's in moments like these where the words 'I love you' are right on the tip of his tongue. He wants to say it so badly but he doesn't know if it's too soon. He's never said it to anyone before- at least not in a romantic way. He's never had a long term relationship and has nothing to go on. He doesn't want to say it and scare Niall away. So for now he settles for kissing Niall's soft lips and stroking his cheek with his thumb, hoping Niall will understand from his actions how he feels about him.

When they break the kiss, Niall scoots up a bit and props his head up on his hand so he can look at Harry, "So, what was it you wanted to talk to me about?"

Harry sighed and lifted his hand so he could slip it behind Niall's neck and play with his hair. He loved playing with Niall's hair, "Well, we start the break tomorrow and I know you're going home to Ireland to see your Dad and Brother. I meant to ask you if you could spare a couple days at the end of the break to meet me in Holmes Chapel? The thing is...not long after the break is over we have two shows in London and Mum and Gem are going to be there. I just-" Harry breaks off and sighs again, "I don't know what I'm doing to be honest. Being in a serious relationship is new to me. I don't know when it's appropriate to meet the parents. I just figure it'll be better to meet Mum and Gem before the London shows so it's not happening in the hallway of the venue with everyone around."

Niall looked at him for a minute then closed his eyes and leaned more into Harry's touch. Harry began to lightly scratch Niall's scalp with his fingers making a small smile appear on his boyfriend's lips, "I'm okay with meeting your Mum and Gemma. I've been in the room when you've been on Skype with both of them. I've already said hello and stuff to them. Sure I'll be nervous because I want them to like me and approve of me but mostly I'd be excited to meet them. I can come back to England a few days earlier than planned."

A huge smile broke out on Harry's face and he wrapped Niall up in his arms, rolling on top of him and kissing all over his face. Niall broke out into loud laughter which only made Harry kiss him more. He loved that laugh so much, "This is going to be great! Thank you, love. It means a lot to me. Mum and Gem already approve of you and like you a lot. They can't wait to meet you and Maggie. Mum is going to be so excited when I tell her!"

Niall smiled up at him, the dimple in his chin deepening and the crinkles by his eyes showing, "I'll change my ticket tomorrow. I'll fly into Manchester instead of London and move the date up. That sound good?"

"That sounds perfect baby. I-" Harry cuts himself off before he says those three little words. Niall looks up at him quizzically but Harry just smiles and kisses him again to cover, "Knowing you'll be coming to my childhood home to meet my Mum will help a little bit with my missing you so much for a week."

Niall laughs and shakes his head on the pillow, "It's only a week but I'm going to miss you, too. We're so pathetic."

Harry laughs and moves around until he's sitting up and straddling Niall, "I don't care. We can be as pathetic as we want." Harry slides his hands up Niall's chest, curling his fingers in his chest hair, "How do you feel about fucking me again? Since we're going to be going a week without it?"

"Baby," Niall grinned and slid his hands up over Harry's naked thighs, "You don't have to ask me twice!"


~~~


Harry is so excited right now he can't keep himself still. He's been going from room to room in his Mum's house making sure everything is clean and that everything is set up for Niall and Maggie in his childhood bedroom. Niall would never allow him to buy anything like a cot or changing table, especially when this was only going to be a short visit, but Harry still moved some things around to make room for Maggie's portable cot and all the luggage Niall would have for the both of them. They were leaving for the tour straight from Harry's Mum's house so they couldn't get around Niall having to bring everything.

He was currently vacuuming the living room carpet again when the vacuum shut off unexpectedly and Harry stood up with a frown on his face, wondering if he'd accidentally pulled the plug out. He found the plug did indeed come out but he had nothing to do with it. His Mum was standing in the doorway with a cup of tea in one hand and the cord in the other, "Harry, darling, I love you with all my heart, but you will stop this insanity right now or I'll disown you. This house is spotless. There's not even a cat hair to be found. Sit down and relax. I'll get you a shot of whiskey if necessary."

"Mum," Harry deadpans, "It's barely midday."

"Whatever it takes to calm you down. You cleaned everything last night, even though there's not much to clean because I keep this house spotless as it is, then I hear you up clanking around at seven this morning. What's this all about?" Anne asked him as she dropped the vacuum cord and walked into the room to sit down on the couch, crossing her legs and resting an elbow on her knee.

Harry sighed and trudged over to sit in an armchair, his long limbs spread out in front of him, "I just want everything to be perfect, Mum. I want Niall to be comfortable here, Maggie too. I've never brought someone home before. Definitely not someone I'm madly in love with. I don't know what to do with myself."

Anne smiled at him, that soft motherly smile that always made him feel loved and safe, "Darling. Everything is going to be fine. I already adore Niall and I haven't even met him yet and based on what you've told me of him, I don't think he's going to care about the state of this house. He'll be comfortable here just because you're here. Stop worrying so much, yeah? You've got to leave soon if you're to be in Manchester in time to pick him up from his flight."

"Shit!" Harry stood up and ran a hand through his hair, "I haven't showered yet."

Anne laughed and waved Harry off with one hand, "Go on, love. I'll put the vacuum away and I'll have a little snack ready for when you get back. Just in case Niall is hungry."

"Thanks, Mum. Love you!" Harry kisses her cheek quickly then runs up the stairs for a shower. He was going to see his boy soon. He couldn't fucking wait.


~~~


Niall is exhausted as he drags his feet down the aisle of the plane toward the exit. He stops to thank the air hostess who smiles at him and tells him what a pleasure it was to have Maggie on board. Niall smiles back but inside he's rolling his eyes because she wouldn't be saying that if she'd been around Maggie twelve hours earlier. Right now and during the short flight Maggie had been a happy baby, all smiles when the air hostess spoke to her, however before that, Niall had been up all night with her as she was cutting another tooth and very fussy.

Once he steps off the plane onto the bridge he gets Maggie's car seat that had been stored below for the flight, then he heads toward arrivals where Harry would be waiting for him. He takes his phone out right now and texts him, letting him know he's off the plane. The plan was for Harry to come in at the last minute to avoid too many people noticing him.

When Niall finally walks into the arrivals area to collect his bags he looks around for Harry and it doesn't take long for Niall to spot him. He's not wearing anything that would make him stand out for once. No flowered shirt or Gucci trousers. He's just wearing a pair of black skinny jeans, his old scuffed up brown boots, and a white Nike hoodie. On his head is a navy blue beanie and Niall grins wide because his boyfriend looks like he's eighteen again in that outfit.

"Hey," Harry said softly when Niall got close, "I missed you both so much."

Niall smiled and sunk into Harry's arms right away, hugging him with one arm while he holds Maggie's car seat in the other, "We missed you, too, H. So much."

Harry held him tight for a few minutes then let go and bent down to see Maggie. He reached into the car seat and tapped her chin playfully with his finger, "There's my girl! I missed you so much, sweet pea. I can't wait to cuddle you later."

While Harry talks to Maggie, Niall looks around to see if anyone is paying attention. So far nobody seems to be looking at them and Niall hopes to keep it that way so he taps Harry on the shoulder and Harry stands up straight again, "Would you mind taking Maggie out to the car while I get my bags?"

Harry frowned and furrowed his brow a little, "Of course I wouldn't mind but I want to help you with your bags. I know you have everything you're bringing on tour with you."

Harry was right, he did. Except his guitars which were shipped over and being taken care of by Harry's road crew, "I know but I can handle it. I'll get a trolley. I just- the longer you're in public, the greater the chance you'll get noticed and I'm not in the mood to get mobbed right now. I had a long night. I'll tell you about it in the car."

Harry reached out and squeezed his hand in his, nodding his head slowly, "Okay. I'll get Maggie all set in the car and come pick you up right outside the doors. I'll text you where."

"Thank you," Niall squeezed his hand back and smiled gratefully at him, "You're the best, H. I'll see you in a few."

Harry smiled at him then picked up Maggie and headed out of the building to get his car. Niall went to pick up a trolley and waited for his luggage to come around on the carousel. It was about fifteen minutes later when he got out to Harry's car and Harry got out to help him put the luggage in the back. Once that was done, Niall brought the trolley back quickly then got into the car to see Harry sitting in the driver's seat smiling a small, closed mouth smile at him. Niall immediately leaned in to kiss him, just a quick kiss since they couldn't hold up traffic, then Harry pulled out into traffic, driving with one hand on the wheel and the other hand holding Niall's.

"You okay?" Harry asked after a minute, glancing quickly over at Niall before returning his eyes to the road.

Niall squeezed his hand and ran his thumb back and forth over the back of Harry's hand, "I am, yeah. Just exhausted. I was up all night with Mags cutting another tooth."

Harry immediately frowned and looked in the rear view mirror at Maggie in the back seat, "My poor baby! Both my babies! I'm sorry I wasn't there to help."

Niall looked over at Harry while he drove and upon seeing the genuine upset look on his boyfriend's face had Niall tearing up. He was so exhausted and all night he honestly just wanted Harry to hold him and tell him everything would be okay and for some reason hearing Harry say he wished he had been there meant absolutely everything to Niall. Everything.

"It's okay, baby. We missed you but you can't be there all the time. Your Mum deserves to spend time with you." Niall said softly, a small smile on his face as he leaned his head back against the seat and watched Harry's profile as he drove.

"She's okay now though?" Harry asked, looking into the rear view mirror with a worried expression.

"Yeah she's great now. She was laughing on the plane. The air hostess loved her. I'm glad she was settled down by the time we boarded or everyone on that plane would have hated me so much," Niall said with a laugh.

"Then they'd bloody well have to get ready to fight me," Harry scoffed, "My little sweet pea can't help it if those nasty teeth are popping up."

Niall giggled and squeezed Harry's hand again, "You're so protective. I love it."

"Yeah?" Harry glanced over at him, a little grin on his face.

"Definitely,"

They're quiet for a few minutes as Harry navigates the busy traffic in Manchester. Once they're going at a decent speed on the motorway and on their way to Holmes Chapel, Harry turns to him again, "You can sleep a bit now if you want? And you can take a nap when we get to my Mum's house."

Niall looked at Harry like he was crazy, "Are you mental? I'm not going to show up at your Mum's house and say 'oh hello, nice to meet you. Sorry I'm tired so I'm going to bed. Where's my room?' come on, Harry!!"

Harry laughed and shook his head, "Once Mum finds out you were up all night she'll insist and you can't argue with her. There's no use."

Niall let go of Harry's hand and glared at his boyfriend, "If you ever want to have sex with me again you better not say anything then!"

Harry burst out laughing and in Niall's exhausted state it irritated him so he crossed his arms over his chest and turned his head to look out the window, trying to stay calm and not blow up at Harry with his little girl in the car.

Harry must have sensed something was wrong because his laughter stopped abruptly and his voice was quiet when he said Niall's name, "Niall? Are you mad at me right now? I didn't mean anything by it. I thought we were just having some harmless banter."

"Leave me alone, Harry," Niall said, turning his body onto his side as much as he could and closing his eyes. Maybe he'll get lucky and fall asleep.

Harry doesn't say anything else and Niall is grateful. He's so exhausted and irritated right now, he's likely to say something he doesn't mean. So he focuses on the sound of the tires on the motorway, letting it lull him into that lazy state right before sleep hits. When he feels like car slowing down and stopping a few minutes later he's confused and wonders if he actually did fall asleep and they'd already finished the forty-five minute drive to Holmes Chapel.

"What's going on?" Niall mumbles as he tries to push himself up in the passenger seat. He looks over in time to see Harry getting out of the car and follows him with his eyes as he walks around the front. The next thing he knows, the passenger door is being opened and Harry is squatting down in front of him and reaching for his hand. "What are you doing, Harry? Where are we?"

"A petrol station," Harry answered, "I knew you weren't going to listen to me while I was driving and I don't want to be fighting when we get to my Mum's house. I know you're exhausted and probably not even feeling that great right now. I'm sorry for irritating you. I never want to do anything to make you angry with me. I hope you know that."

Niall's heart immediately melted and all the exhaustion and irritation seemed to slip from his body. God, this man was too incredible! He was amazing. He didn't really do anything wrong and here he is apologizing and wanting to make Niall feel better, "Harry," Niall let out a little laugh and ran a hand over his face, "You didn't do anything wrong, baby. I'm tired and cranky and I took it out on you. I just want this visit to go well. I don't want to show up and go right to sleep. I want to chat with your Mum and sister. I should have just said that and not gotten irritated with you and ignored you. I'm sorry."

Harry smiled and put his hands on Niall's cheeks, kissing him softly, "I'm sorry, too. You don't have to go to bed if you don't want to. We'll play it by ear, yeah? Now, you sit back and relax while I get us there. Deal?"

"Deal!"


~~~

Chapter Text

 


Niall was a little nervous when they finally pulled up in front of Harry's Mum's house, but all in all he didn't feel too bad. He was excited more than anything. He's heard a lot of great things about Anne and Gemma from Harry as well as people on tour who knew them like Lou and Jeff. Louis and Eleanor had only good things to say as well. Louis even told him about how his Mum and Anne were of similar age and bonded right away when the boys got put in a band on the x-factor. He had a lot of regret that they grew apart when Harry and Louis grew apart. Niall had no idea what to say to that but Louis didn't seem to expect him to say anything so he kept quiet and let Louis stay lost in his thoughts while they finished their pints.

"Well, here we are. Do you want me to get Maggie?" Harry asked as he turned off the car and took off his seat belt.

"You don't have to but if you want to I don't mind. I'll get her nappy bag," Niall said as he took off his own seat belt.

Harry nodded then they both got out of the car and opened the doors to the backseat. Niall grabbed the nappy bag, smiling the whole time as he listened to Harry talk to Maggie. He loved talking to her and she loved listening. Niall suspects his slow, deep voice affects his daughter as much as it affects him.

"Alright. Here we go. We'll come out and get your luggage later," Harry said as he led the way up to the front door and unlocked it with his key. They stepped into a hallway and Niall immediately got a good vibe. It was very homey and smelled like lavender. He didn't know if it was from real flowers, an air freshener or someone's perfume- he just knew he really liked it.

Harry called out that they arrived and Niall heard a woman call back that she was in the kitchen. He followed Harry through the house and into a spacious kitchen that faced a gorgeous backyard. Sitting at the kitchen table was a blonde girl Niall recognized as Gemma and standing by the counter was a beautiful dark haired woman who looked just like Harry and had the dimples to prove it.

"Niall," Harry held Maggie's car seat in one hand and Niall's hand in the other, "That's my Mum Anne standing by the counter and my sister Gemma sitting at the table. Mum, Gem, this is my boyfriend, Niall."

"Oh darling!" Anne walked over and immediately wrapped him up in a hug, "It's so nice to finally meet you. Call me Anne won't you?"

Niall let go of Harry's hand and hugged her back, immediately feeling welcomed by her. It was like being hugged by his own Mum, "It's really nice to meet you, too, Anne. Thanks for having me."

"Of course, love," Anne pulled back and cupped his cheek, a huge smile on her face. She truly was beautiful. Niall could definitely see where Harry got it from.

Gemma stood up from the table and smiled at him as she leaned in for a hug, "Nice to meet you, mate. Fair warning- I will tease you and Harry relentlessly because my brother has been on cloud nine since you two started dating. It's my duty as a big sister."

"For fuck's sake, Gemma," Harry groaned while Niall burst out laughing and Anne chastised him for cursing.

"I can handle it," Niall winked at Gemma when they pulled apart, "Bring it on. Just know, I'll get you back. I don't know when and I don't know how. It could be tomorrow or a year from now but the opportunity will arise and I'll be there to strike."

Gemma's eyes widened and she laughed incredulously, "Well played, Niall. I like you. You can stick around. I hope for a long time."

Her face softened at that comment and Niall smiled back at her reassuringly, "I don't plan on going anywhere. Don't worry about that."

"Oh! Who do we have here!" Anne cooed all of a sudden, her eyes on Maggie's car seat, "Harry, put her on the table so I can get a good look at her," Harry laid the car seat on the table and Niall stifled a laugh when Anne practically pushed him out of the way to get to Maggie, "Oh my God, Gemma. Look at her! Oh isn't she precious? Look at those big blue eyes! Hello, darling! Hello, precious darling! Can I take her out? Do you mind?" Anne asked Niall.

"No, go right ahead. She loves people and she's clearly in a good mood right now," Niall said, smiling at his giggly daughter.

Anne's eyes brightened and she carefully undid the seatbelt and lifted Maggie out, straightening the little jumper Niall had her in since it's the end of October and starting to get chilly in England, "Hello, Maggie. My name is Anne. I'm Harry's Mummy," Anne spoke to the little girl while smoothing down a tuft of brown hair that was sticking up a bit on top of her head, "You're so pretty, aren't you? Oh my goodness you're going to look absolutely adorable in the little outfit I bought for you. I saw it in the shop and I had to get it once I knew you were coming."

Niall's eyes widened and he looked over at Harry. Anne really didn't need to get anything for him or Maggie. He hopes Harry told her that. He tries to convey that with his eyes but Harry just shrugs his shoulders and looks just as surprised as Niall does.

"How old is she again, Niall?" Anne asks, not taking her eyes off Maggie.

"She's seven months old. She'll be eight months pretty soon, though. Beginning of November actually," Niall tells her.

Anne smiles and leans in to kiss Maggie's cheek, making Maggie giggle and Anne laugh, "She's beautiful, Niall. What a gorgeous little girl. She's such a lovely, happy baby, Harry tells me, and I'm seeing it now for myself. Well done. It's hard on your own, I know because I've done it. You're doing a great job, sweetie."

Niall didn't know what to say at first. He was just so stunned because he wasn't expecting compliments on his parenting skills. Then, once he really processed what Anne had said, he felt himself beginning to tear up and swallowed hard a few times to try and regain control of himself. He didn't want to cry in front of his boyfriend's Mum ten minutes after meeting her!

In the end, when he composed himself, he decided to just come out and be completely honest, "Thank you," He said quietly, looking straight into Anne's eyes, "It means a lot to have another parent say those words to me. I was terrified when I realized I'd be raising a baby all on my own. I'm still terrified now to be honest. Everyday my life is consumed with making sure my daughter is taken care of and happy and to hear from other people that I seem to be doing that...well, it just means a lot."

"Oh love," Anne was beginning to tear up as she reached out to Niall with her free arm and pulled him into a hug, "I understand. I really, really, do. I was terrified when I got divorced and had Harry and Gemma on my own. Let me tell you something, though, you're doing beautifully. All you can do is love your child and make sure she has everything she needs and that she's happy. You keep doing what you're doing and I know you have your own Mum but before you leave here you will have my number as well and I want you to call or text at anytime if you need anything. Okay?"

"I'd like that. Thank you, Anne," Niall squeezed her with the arm he had around her waist and kissed Maggie's cheek before he stepped away, "You did a really good job with Harry so I might take you up on that."

All of a sudden loud laughter fills the room and Niall nearly jumps because he wasn't expecting it. When he looks around he sees it's Gemma and she's pointing at Harry, "Look at H over there. He's a blubbering mess already!"

"I'm not!" Harry protests, but when Niall looks over at him his face is crumpled and he's trying to wipe tears from his cheeks.

Niall shakes his head and smiles softly as he turns and wraps his arms around Harry and kisses his cheek, "What's this, love? Why are you cryin'?"

Harry laughs and hugs him back, tucking his face away against Niall's neck, "Sorry. I just- Maggie is so amazing and a big part of that is because of what a great father you are. I tell you all the time what a good job you're doing and I know you're scared so it's just nice to hear my Mum tell you how good a job you're doing. "

"You're such a sap," Niall whispered as he hugged Harry close. When they both pulled apart, they laughed and Niall reached up to wipe the tears from Harry's cheeks with his fingers. When Maggie made a noise they both turned to look at her and she looked distraught with her arms held out toward Harry.

"Oh my goodness," Anne cooed, "I think our girl here doesn't like to see Harry crying. Do you want to go see Harry, darling? Yeah?"

Maggie scrunched her face up like she was going to cry and held her arms out to Harry while whining. Harry smiled at her and scooped her up out of Anne's arms, kissing her cheeks and swaying her slowly back and forth. Maggie immediately settled down, resting her head on Harry's chest and gripping on his shirt with one of her tiny hands.

"Oh my God," Anne gushed, one hand over her mouth as she watched on, "Isn't that the sweetest thing? Where's my phone?" Anne began to look around everywhere and feel in her pockets for her phone.

"It's okay, Mum. I've got it all on video," Gemma said, and when Niall looked she was holding her phone up and pointing it at Harry.

"Can you send that video to me?" Niall inches closer to Gemma and whispers. Gemma smiles knowingly and stops filming so she can have him enter his phone number into her contacts. When he's done he looks back to Harry and his heart aches in his chest. Maggie one hundred percent loved and trusted Harry. The way she often cuddled in to him and easily fell asleep on his chest was proof of that and Harry obviously felt the same way if the way he held her and protected her was anything to go by. It was a dream come true for Niall to find someone who not only accepted that he had a kid but supported him.

"I'm sorry, Miss Maggie. I didn't mean to make you sad," Harry says softly to the little girl while rubbing her back, "I was just being silly. Yes I was. Silly Harry."

Niall smiles at the sight and meets Anne's eyes with his. She's smiling warmly and her eyes are filled with tears. Niall completely understands. Seeing Harry with a baby, his very own baby, does things to Niall he can't even explain.

When Anne turns away to turn on the tea kettle, Niall walks over to stand next to her at the counter and they both smile at each other before Anne speaks quietly, "It looks like Harry and Maggie already have a bond."

Niall nodded and let out a long breath before meeting Anne's eyes, "Yeah. Since day one. Long before we became a couple. I didn't mind at first because Harry and I were friends and I not only hoped to play guitar for him in his band for a long time, but I also hoped we'd created a long lasting friendship. Of course then I started having feelings for him and eventually we got together and then I freaked out a bit because I wondered what would happen if we break up someday. I find I do a lot of over thinking since Maggie came along."

Anne chuckled as she took some tea cups down from the cupboard, "Get used to that. It'll never stop. I still do it even though my children are adults and living out on their own. Personally I think it's a sign that you're a good parent. It means you're always thinking about your child and what you can do to make sure they have the best life possible. As for you and Harry...nobody knows what will happen in the future. Maybe you'll be together for a long time, maybe you'll get married and build a life together, or maybe you'll decide one day it's just not working anymore. So I think it would be unfair to all of you if you didn't allow yourself to have a relationship just because you have a child. Eventually you have to let someone in. I did it with Robin and it turned out wonderfully. I think you'll be okay too. I don't know you that well yet but I know my son and he's not a malicious person. If someday you do decide to break up I'm confident you both can act like mature adults and do what's best for Maggie in the situation."

Niall listened carefully to everything Anne said to him, soaking up all the advice she was willing to give him. It was really nice to have someone else to go to besides his own Mum, especially considering she raised Harry who was an amazing human being, "Thank you, Anne. We've only just met but already I feel so comfortable here. I hope you know I really am going to be calling you to chat and get advice."

Anne laughed and wrapped an arm around his shoulder, pulling him into a hug, "I can't wait, darling. I'll be ready for you."

 

~~~


Later that night, Niall crawls into bed next to Harry, his body completely exhausted after being awake for over twenty-four hours. Harry immediately takes him in his arms and Niall rests his head on Harry's chest, snuggling in and letting his body relax, "I'm so tired. I swear my body just sang its thanks to me when I finally crawled into bed."

Harry chuckled near his ear and kissed his temple, "Sleep in tomorrow. Don't worry about Maggie. If she wakes up during the night I'll take care of her and I'll get up with her in the morning. She'll be perfectly fine."

Niall smiled and turned his head enough to kiss Harry's chest, "I know, baby. I trust you and your family completely."

"It seemed like you and my Mum really hit it off right away then later when I was helping Mum with dishes you were chatting with Gemma. How did that go?" Harry asked while running his fingers through Niall's hair.

"It was really good. Your sister is great. First of all, she loves you so much and is your number one fan. We share that in common. She's also really smart. We got to talking about Brexit and obviously being from Ireland I didn't vote but I live in England so it affects me too. She showed me an article she wrote about it and I read it right away. It was fantastic." Niall tells Harry.

"I knew you'd get along well with them. They both really like you. Mum is so impressed with you and honestly I don't know if she's going to let us leave here with Maggie in a couple days," Harry says, his voice laced with amusement.

Niall snorts and giggles into Harry's neck, "Wouldn't be any worse than me own Mum. I saw her when I was in Ireland. I didn't see Maggie for a full day. Mum had her 'round to all the Aunts and cousin's houses. I hung out with some of me friends from back home so it all worked out I 'spose."

Harry's hand runs up and down Niall's bare back and Niall inches even closer, throwing one leg over both of Harry's under the covers, "The more tired you are, the thicker your accent gets," Harry said, laughing softly, "I love it."

Niall wants to respond with 'I love you' but he holds his tongue. Soon his eyes begin to close and the last thing he remembers before drifting off to sleep is Harry singing softly to him under his breath.


~~~


It happened the next evening after dinner.

Niall started off his day by sleeping in until ten. When he woke up both Harry and Maggie were gone from the bedroom. It worried Niall at first, the thought that Maggie may have cried and Niall didn't even wake up, but then he realized it's because he honestly trusts Harry that much. When he went to sleep last night he slept soundly because he knew his baby girl was safe with Harry and his family.

When Niall had showered and made his way downstairs, he found everyone in the kitchen doting on Maggie of course. She was sitting in Gemma's lap while Harry fed her some fruit that was cut up into tiny pieces. Every time she finished a piece and Harry was too slow to feed her the next she'd bang her hand on the table and make a loud noise which was so cute yet Niall knew he was going to have to teach her not to do that. His child was not going to become a demanding brat.

When they all realized Niall was there, Anne brought him coffee while Harry got him to take over with Maggie so he could make pancakes. Apparently Anne and Gemma had already eaten but Harry decided to wait for Niall so they could eat together. Niall wouldn't admit it but just that sweet gesture alone was enough to make his eyes well up with tears.

After breakfast Harry said he wanted to bring Niall around to show him where he grew up. Niall was very happy to go and the five of them dressed up in warm coats and headed around Holmes Chapel to do the tour. Harry showed him the school where he went but they didn't go in so as not to interrupt the students, he showed him the Bakery where he worked as a teenager and of course they spent an hour there with Barbara having tea and biscuits, he showed him the place where he had his first kiss with a girl and they stopped in at some of Harry's friends houses. Some of his friends had moved but their parents were still there and Harry was polite and lovely as ever, saying hello to them and talking about old times.

They were all pretty tired when they got back to Anne's house so they ordered pizza's then after dinner headed into the sitting room with tea. Harry asked him if he could spread a blanket on the floor to lay Maggie on with some of her toys and Niall told him to go for it. Then he, Anne and Gemma watched on, amused, while Harry placed pillows all around the blanket so Maggie couldn't get hurt. Never mind that she was only just about to be eight months old and couldn't walk yet.

That's when it happened and the joke was on Niall. He and Gemma were on the couch, Anne was in her reclining chair, and Harry was sitting on the floor with Maggie. Niall was in a conversation with Anne and Gemma when he heard Harry gasp and saw his arms flailing around everywhere out of the corner of his eye.

"Oh my God! Niall! Niall, look! Mum! Gem! Everyone look!!!" Harry whisper yelled as he scrambled up onto his knees.

Niall, Anne and Gemma all immediately looked and Niall's heart practically exploded with joy and proudness because there was his baby girl, slowly crawling across the blanket and toward the pillow barrier.

"Oh my God!" Niall whispers, frozen in place as he watched Maggie crawling for the first time. He couldn't move, couldn't think, just stared in awe at her.

"I'm recording," Gemma reached out a hand and placed it on his forearm, "I'm getting it." Thank God for Gemma Styles!

"Niall, Mum, can you see her? Do you see my little sweet pea?" Harry gushes, his eyes filling up with tears.

This is what prompts Niall to move and he quickly scrambles down onto the floor and over to Harry, grabbing onto his arm and smiling wide at him, "Yeah, H. She's brilliant isn't she??"

"Oh God," Harry sobs out, laughing at himself immediately. He moves to push the pillows out of the way so Maggie can keep going if she wants to, "She's so brilliant! She's the best baby in the whole world! The best and the smartest! I'm so proud!"

Niall laughs, too, and yeah it's a bit wet because his own eyes are filling with tears now. His baby girl is crawling and she's doing it in front of Harry and his family, people Niall just knows he's going to love someday. Well, he already loves Harry, but he knows Anne and Gemma will be very near and dear to him someday, if he and Harry stay together.

"Niall," Harry whispers to him so as not to disturb Maggie, "Go around and get in front of her. See if she'll crawl to you!"

That's a brilliant idea so Niall moves across the living room and kneels down a few feet from Maggie. She looks at him and giggles, drool covering her chin and the few teeth she has on full display. Niall's heart physically aches because he loves her so much that he just wants to explode!

"Hi, baby girl. Can you come to Daddy? Can you?" Niall holds out his arms to encourage her, smiling as she slowly crawls forward, wobbling so she doesn't fall over.

"She's doing it! She's doing it!" Harry's on his feet now, still whisper yelling and jumping around like an idiot. He's Niall's idiot, though, and he wouldn't have him any other way.

He sees Gemma out of the corner of his eye, moving around so she can get a better angle. He keeps his focus completely on Maggie, though, ready to scoop her up as soon as she makes it to him.

"That's it. Just a little more, Mags. Just a little more," Niall encourages her softly as she slowly closes the gap between them. When she finally does, and her little hand touches his knee, he feels a tear escape his eye but he doesn't care. He scoops her up and stands on his feet, cuddling her and kissing her face all over, not even caring that there's still drool on her chin.

"Maggie!!! You're so brilliant, sweet pea! I'm so proud of you!!" Harry gushes as he comes over and wraps himself around her and Niall, "You're both so amazing!"

"Me?" Niall laughs and somehow manages to look up at Harry's tear streaked face, "I didn't do anything."

Harry kisses his lips then kisses the top of Maggie's head, "You made her, Niall. You made her."

Niall laughs and goes back to cuddling his daughter and boyfriend. It takes a few minutes for them to calm down but when they do, Niall's heart is completely full of love for this family after turning to see huge smiles on both Anne's and Gemma's faces, as well as tears in Anne's eyes.

"That was such a beautiful moment. I'm so happy I was here to witness it," Anne said, reaching out to squeeze Niall's arm and cup the back of Maggie's head in her hand, "She's a delightful little girl and I hope I'll get to see loads more of her."

"I agree with my Momma on this one. I would also like to point out to said Momma that you can no longer complain about my phone being attached to be twenty-four seven. If it wasn't we wouldn't have gotten that on video," Gemma says, making everyone laugh, "Also can I just point out how much we freaked out over her crawling? Can you imagine what you two are going to do when she starts walking?"

Harry groans and hides his face in his hands, "I might not survive it. Wherever we are I'm going to end up running down a street somewhere screaming that Maggie just walked. I'll be taken to a bloody mental hospital."

Everyone laughs at that image and Gemma puts an arm around her brother's shoulder saying, "And you're not even the daddy. What's poor Niall going to be like if you're running around screaming?"

Harry immediately blushes while Niall cackles with laughter. It's true that Harry reacted just like a Dad when he saw Maggie crawling. Niall can honestly say he doesn't mind, though. It only makes him love Harry more. Maybe it's time he tells Harry that? So what that they've only been together for a month? These feelings have been growing for a lot longer than that. Maybe it's time he grow a pair and just tell his boyfriend how he feels.

"I'm sorry if I overstepped," Harry murmurs, a sheepish look on his face.

"You didn't," Niall assures him, "I love how excited you get over Maggie. It's really nice to have someone to share these things with. With her Mum not being around it's only me."

Harry's sheepish look turned into a full on beaming grin and when he looks at him like that, all Niall can do is grin right back like an idiot in love.


~~~


Harry wakes up at seven the next morning and neither Niall or Maggie is awake yet. Probably nobody in the house is awake yet so he decides to stay snuggled in the bed with Niall and grabs his phone off the bedside table to check for messages. He isn't expecting anything big. He told Jeff he wouldn't have his phone on much because he's on a break but if something really serious happened that needed his attention he could call his Mum's landline. That never happened so when he sees he has e-mails waiting from Jeff he knows it's nothing serious and doesn't worry...until he actually clicks on the e-mail and opens it.

Inside were pictures of him and Niall. There's a few of them hugging at the airport in Manchester and looking all cozy and intimate. There's also a ton of pictures from yesterday of him and Niall walking around Holmes Chapel with his Mum and Gemma. It's barely noticeable unless you zoom in on the pictures but there were times throughout the day when Harry would put his hand on the stroller next to Niall's and they'd end up hooking their pinkies together. That, added with the fact that his guitar player was at Harry's Mum's house during a tour break was more than enough to get the fans talking and Harry has no doubt if he goes on Twitter he'll be treated to a world of fans freaking out.

In the e-mail Jeff just says to get back to him when he has time and that it's not urgent, he just wants to know how Harry wants to handle it all. Harry appreciates that greatly. As one of his best friends, Jeff knows Harry isn't going to hide who he is. Once he left Modest Management all that was put to a stop, it's just that...Harry hasn't dated anyone but Kendall since then so he hasn't had to address the fact that he likes men too.

However, that's not what has Harry cringing and biting at his bottom lip right now. What has him worried is what Niall's reaction will be. They've only been together for a month and they both decided not to come out with their relationship right away. Harry could kick himself because of course it was going to look like he's dating Niall if he brings him home to his Mum's house on a tour break. He should have thought of that before inviting Niall so they could have discussed it and he could have asked Niall what he wanted to do.

He doesn't have time to worry anymore about it right now, though, because he hears Maggie start to stir in her cot and he quietly slips out of bed so he can get her before Niall wakes up, "Hi, sweet pea," Harry whispers as he looks down at her in her cot. She rubs at her eyes with her fists and Harry coos at her as he reaches in to pick her up and hold her against his chest. He gathers everything he needs to change her nappy and takes it out to the bathroom so he doesn't disturb Niall and quickly gets her nappy changed while she's still waking up. When he's done he heads downstairs to find his Mum is actually up and just finishing her tea.

"Good morning babies," Anne smiles at them both.

"Morning Mum," Harry leans down to kiss her cheek and she takes the opportunity to kiss Maggie.

"Niall not awake yet?" Anne asked.

"Not yet. I'm more of a morning person than him so I like to take care of Maggie and let him sleep in when I can," Harry says as he passes Maggie over to his Mum for a cuddle so he can get her bottle ready.

"That's very sweet of you, Harry. I can tell Niall really appreciates it. He really appreciates everything you do for him. I can tell and as a mother it's very nice to see. He's good for you. They both are," Anne says while she rocks Maggie on her lap, "It seems like it's serious between you two. Have you told him how you feel yet?"

Harry sighs and looks at his Mum, "Do you think I should? Isn't it too soon when we've only been together for a month?"

Anne doesn't even have to think about it, "No, I don't think so. You've known each other for longer than that and your feelings for him have been growing for longer than that. I believe it's the same for him if the way he looks at you is anything to go by. You'll have to tell him eventually. Do it when it feels right, sweetie. I didn't mean to put pressure on you. I was just curious if you told him yet. There's no rush."

Harry finished making the bottle and sat down at the table with his Mum, handing her the bottle since she didn't seem like she was going to give Maggie up anytime soon, "There's been a few right times I think. I was just too scared to say anything. The next time it feels right...yeah, I'm gonna tell him."

"Good! I'm happy for you, Harry. So, so happy," Anne smiled at him, "Now, why don't you go back to bed for awhile, yeah? Gemma is showering now. She's meeting an old friend who's also in town for breakfast and I was going down to the bakery to chat with Barbara for a bit and bring home some pastries for you boys for breakfast. I can take this precious one with me. Do you think Niall would mind?"

Harry smiles at his Mum and Maggie who is happily drinking her bottle, "No, he wouldn't mind at all. I don't think I could get back to sleep if I tried though. Once I'm up I'm up."

Anne stared at him for well over a minute, making Harry frown and lift a hand to his face. Maybe he had dried drool on his cheek or something? When he feels nothing he looks down at his t-shirt and sees it's clean, no food stains or anything. He looks back up at his Mum and says, "What?"

She snorts and starts laughing, shaking her head while she adjusts Maggie in her arms, "Harry. I just told you to go back to bed and afterward I told you the house would be empty for awhile and all you have to say is 'I don't think I could get back to sleep'?"

Harry doesn't get it. He stares at his Mum with a furrowed brow, which only makes her laugh harder. It takes him another minute because he really is daft sometimes, but when he finally gets what she means he gasps and his eyes widen, "Mum!!!!"

"Oh don't look at me like that, Harry! I am not so old I don't remember what it was like to be twenty-three and in love. You haven't seen your boyfriend in a week and a half. I'm simply encouraging you to take advantage of an empty house," Anne explains, a small smirk on her face.

"Mum!!" Harry says again, his voice going about as high pitched as it can get, "You can't just- no! Don't talk anymore! I'll go upstairs and get an outfit for Maggie to wear."

Harry stands up and leaves the kitchen to head upstairs, his mother's laughter trailing behind him as he goes. He passes his sister on the stairs who asks him why he looks so freaked out- Harry answers, "Mum is trying to traumatize me!"

He quietly enters his bedroom where Niall is still asleep. After he collects the nappy bag and clothes for Maggie, he heads back downstairs and back to the kitchen where Gemma has now joined their mother in laughing at him. No doubt she told Gemma exactly what she said to Harry. He glares at both of them, says, "I hate both of you!" then stomps back up the stairs like a child, leaving his Mum and sister to be annoying together.

His grumpy mood doesn't last long once his eyes settle on Niall curled up in the bed. He looks so beautiful and peaceful, his dark hair a mess on top of his head and his stubble grown in nice and thick since he hasn't done maintenance on his beard in a few days.

When he climbs back into bed next to Niall, he curls up behind him and lightly kisses his shoulder while running his fingers down over his forearm and tangling their fingers together. He hadn't been planning on waking Niall up this morning. Since he had woken up early he was going to let Niall sleep in again but now that his Mum has ideas put into his head he finds himself needing Niall to wake up right now so he can fuck him. It *has* been almost two weeks and that's a long time when you're used to having the best sex of your life regularly.

So he squeezes Niall's hand in his and begins to kiss over his freckled shoulder and up along his neck. He sucks lightly on the skin over his pulse point before moving along and nipping at his jaw. From there he places a light kiss to his lips, his cheeks, and over each closed eyelid. When he pulls back he sees a tiny smile on Niall's face and knows he's awake. It doesn't look like Niall wants him to know he's awake though, so he lifts up the duvet and crawls under, situating himself over Niall's knees so he can pull down his boyfriend's boxers and give him a nice good morning blowie. That stops Niall from pretending to be asleep and has him lifting the duvet so he can stare down at Harry while laughing.

"What are you doing? I'm not doing this with my daughter in the room!" He exclaims.

Harry looks up at him with the silliest grin on his face, "Maggie's not here. She woke up, I changed her, brought her down for a bottle, then Mum kidnapped her. She's taking her down to visit with Barbara at the bakery. Also, my sister is gone to meet an old friend for breakfast."

Niall quirks an eyebrow up and looks down at Harry, "Oh is that so?"

"Uh huh," Harry nods and hooks his fingers in the waistband of Niall's boxers to pull them down. Niall helpfully lifts his bum off the mattress to help him, "So I thought I'd show my boyfriend how much I missed him over the past ten days."

Niall hums and throws the duvet off of them and onto the floor so nothing is covering them. He helps Harry get his boxers all the way down his legs and kicks them off and onto the floor with the duvet, "Your boyfriend missed you, too, ya know?"

"Did he?" Harry grinned then placed his large hands on Niall's hips while he kisses from his happy trail all the way up his chest until he reaches his lips, "I'm glad to hear that," He murmurs, then kisses Niall softly, letting his body sink down on top of his and moaning when Niall wraps his arms around him and slides his fingers up into his hair.

The kiss turns passionate pretty quickly. Harry's tongue is delving deep inside Niall's mouth and exploring every inch of it, Niall's hands are all over Harry's body, in his hair, down over his back and shoulders, down under the waist band of his boxers to squeeze his ass. It made Harry feel like his skin was on fire and soon he felt himself getting hard. He began to move his hips against Niall, his cock rubbing against Niall's through his boxers. Niall moaned and held on to him tighter, Harry swallowing the moans with his kisses.

Eventually he had to stop kissing Niall to shuck off his own boxers, then he smiled at his boyfriend and began to kiss his way down his chest again, appreciating every inch of his skin, every freckle, until he got to his cock and sucked the tip into his mouth. The moment he did, he heard Niall sigh and felt his fingers go back into his hair. That's exactly where Harry liked them to be, where he wanted them to be.

"So good, baby," Niall sighed again, his fingers massaging Harry's scalp, "You feel so good. You always take such good care of me don't you?"

Harry preened at Niall's words, moaning around his cock and hollowing his cheeks as he took him down further. There's nothing he loved more during a blow job than being talked to, being praised, and Niall knew exactly how to do it. Harry didn't even have to tell him- Niall just did it the first time Harry blew him and when he realized how much Harry liked it he kept doing it.

"Fuck," Niall tipped his head back a bit as Harry kept taking him down further, bobbing his head up and down and circling his tongue over the head of his cock, "You're so eager all the time aren't you? Always so eager to suck my cock. You love it don't ya? Love sucking cock."

Fuck. Harry had to reach a hand down to squeeze his own cock to keep from coming. Niall's accent and his rough voice paired with the dirty talk was enough to get Harry going, enough to bring him to the brink. He pulled off Niall's cock for a minute, gasping in air while he spoke, "Love sucking your cock. Fuck, Niall, you make me crazy. Every bit of you drives me wild."

The look Niall gave him was hot and full of hunger. It made Harry feel weak all over and desperate to please him. So he went back down on Niall's cock, picking up the pace a bit and working part of his cock with his hand. The faster he went, the noisier Niall got and before Harry knew it, Niall was tugging him by the hair off his cock, his thumb coming up to wipe saliva and precome from his chin, "Don't wanna come yet, babe. Want you to ride me. Would you like that?"

Harry licked his lips, nearly moaning when he tasted Niall all over them, "Yeah," He said, sounding breathless, "Wanna ride you." He climbed off of Niall and walked over to his bags, lazily tugging at his cock as he went. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Niall had raised himself up on his elbows to watch him and he had to bite his lip to keep himself from grinning. He loved when Niall watched him and he knew how much it affected Niall to know that. That's why he took his time getting lube and condoms from his bags. He wanted to play with himself a bit, make Niall watch, and then Niall would fuck him hard to make up for their ten days apart.

"Harry," Niall's voice was low and sounded almost like a growl, "Get your perky arse over here."

Harry sputtered out a laugh and turned to look over his shoulder at Niall who was grinning at him with shining eyes. Harry loved this about Niall, loved that he could make him laugh like this during sex. Before Niall it's not something Harry had ever done- except when he was having drunken sex and he laughed because they knocked something over and broke it. No, Harry definitely never had as much fun having sex as he does with Niall now and it was just another reason why he loved him so much.

Harry finally got the lube and condoms and walked back over to the bed, straddling Niall again but this time doing it backwards so his ass was in Niall's face, "How's this for getting my perky arse over here? Right in your face so you can open me up."

Niall groaned and put his hands on Harry's ass, squeezing both cheeks and pulling them apart so he can rub a thumb over Harry's hole. Harry shivered and sucked in a breath, his cock twitching from the anticipation of Niall getting his fingers inside him.

"I love your arse," Niall murmured while he ran his hands all over Harry's cheeks and up over his back, "It's so fucking perfect. Can you move forward a bit for me?"

"Like this?" Harry asked as he moved forward and got on all fours, his ass sticking up in the air.

"That's perfect, baby," Niall murmured, then he surprised Harry by bringing his lips to Harry's ass and placing light kisses over one cheek, "We haven't done this before. Are you okay with me opening you up with my tongue?"

"Fuck!" Harry cursed and his arms nearly gave out sending him tumbling down on top of Niall's legs, "Oh God, Niall. Please! Please yes!"

Niall squeezed his hip gently and placed more kisses along his cheeks, spreading them and running a wet finger over Harry's hole. Harry bit his lip and closed his eyes, just relaxing and enjoying all the pleasurable feelings coursing through his body right now.

When he felt the first flick of Niall's tongue, a wave of pleasure ripped through his body and a sound came from his throat that he's not sure he recognized. It was a guttural sound that came from deep inside himself that would have left him speechless, if he wasn't already, from the feel of Niall's tongue on his most private area.

"That's good, yeah?" Niall asked quietly, spreading his saliva over Harry's hole with his thumb, "You sound fucking sinful, baby. Don't ever stop. I always wanna hear you."

Harry moaned and hung his head down between his arms, sticking his arse out even more and making Niall chuckle. He didn't care how needy he was being right now. He needed Niall's mouth on him again, needed to be opened up so he could fuck himself senseless on Niall's cock.

When Niall's tongue flicked over his hole again, he moaned and pushed his ass back, wanting more, needing more. Niall obliged, digging his fingers into Harry's arse cheeks and delving his tongue inside his hole, sometimes flicking it over the rim and other times licking a flat stripe. Eventually he got a finger in there beside his tongue and by that point Harry was practically crying and fucking himself back on Niall's tongue.

"Niall," Harry gasped out, his voice sounding wrecked, "I need you to fuck me. Please! I'm ready."

Niall pulled back and when Harry looked over his shoulder he groaned at the sight of Niall's lips and chin glistening with saliva, "Shhh. I got you, baby. Just let me get in there with my fingers and some lube for a minute to be sure."

Harry didn't want to wait anymore but at the same time his heart felt so full and his stomach did that wonderful swooping thing it does whenever Niall does something sweet for him. It could be anything from sending him a random sweet text, to holding his hand and caressing it softly while they're on a long flight, to simply holding a door open for him. This time it's the fact that, even though Harry said he was ready and Niall is clearly hard and needing his own release, he still refused to fuck him until he made sure he was opened up enough.

It took another few minutes of Niall fingering him and scissoring his fingers inside him before Niall kissed the small of his back and told him to turn around. He did, slowly, his whole body feeling weak and his cock red and leaking, desperately needing to come. Niall was putting on a condom and lubing himself up and Harry watched, licking his lips in anticipation.

"Fuck," Harry cursed as he got himself into position above Niall's cock, "I've never been so turned on in my life. I'm going to fuck myself so hard, Niall. Don't hold back please."

"Christ, Harry!" Niall muttered as he grabbed Harry's hips and helped lower him onto his cock. They went slow but Harry was fine- Niall opened him up so good after all. When he was fully seated Niall didn't move right away, just lay there looking at Harry like he wanted to eat him and moving his hands all over his thighs, his hips, his ass cheeks, "Fuckin- oh God, Harry, you're so gorgeous. So incredible. I bet you don't even know what you do to me."

Harry leaned back a bit, his head thrown back as he began to circle his hips slowly, "You should show me then.

Niall lifted his legs and planted his feet flat on the mattress, "I can do that. I'll fuck you so good you'll still feel me when you go on stage in two days."

"Oh fuck, yes!" Harry's cock twitched at just the thought of it and he began to rock back and forth faster on Niall's cock, his hands planted on Niall's stomach, "You feel so good inside me."

Niall made a low growling sound and pulled Harry down into a filthy kiss full of tongue and teeth. He wrapped his arms around him and they ended up pressed together chest to chest as Niall began to fuck up into him, his hips snapping up perfectly, the sound of skin on skin loud in the large bedroom.

"Oh my God!" Harry moaned into Niall's mouth when Niall's cock hit his spot, "Yes! Keep going right there, baby! You're so good. Know just what I want all the time. Oh fuck!"

Harry continued to babble while Niall fucked up into him. He was overwhelmed but in a good way. The position they were in was so intimate. Their chests all sweaty and pressed together, Niall's arms around him and his hands all over his back and arse, Harry's lips kissing over Niall's neck and cheek, Niall's mouth by Harry's ear allowing Harry to hear every moan, every sigh, every panting breath. It was so fucking incredible. Like nothing he'd ever felt before.

"I love having you like this," Niall panted into his ear, like he'd just read Harry's mind or something. Another example of how they were just so in sync, "Could hold you here like this all day, baby."

Harry whimpered and lifted his head up to stare into Niall's eyes. He didn't speak, neither did Niall, just stared into each other's eyes while Niall fucked up into him, their breathing becoming heavier and faster after every thrust.

"Oh God," Harry sat back up again so he could bounce on Niall's cock, "Fuck, I'm close. So close Niall. I just- I need-"

Harry didn't even have to finish that sentence, Niall understood and grabbed him by the hips so he could drive his cock hard up into him. Harry shouted and drove his hips down to meet Niall's cock while he grabbed onto his own cock in one hand and frantically jerked off. By the time Niall drove hard into him for the fifth time, Harry was gasping and coming over Niall's stomach, his vision going blurry as he was hit with wave after wave of pleasure.

"Oh fuck!" Niall grunted, then his hips were stilling and he was coming inside the condom, his head thrown back against the pillows.

Harry fell forward on top of Niall, Niall's cock slipping out of him, and they lay there together, both coming down and breathing heavily, sweat glistening on their bodies. After a few minutes, Niall removed the condom, tied it off, then laid it on the bedside table wrapped in a tissue to dispose of later. With that taken care of, he wrapped his arms around Harry and left light kisses over his shoulder and neck, "I missed this. A lot," Niall whispered eventually, "Even if it was only for ten days."

Harry smiled and lifted his head so he could kiss Niall. He didn't mean for it to be anything more than a peck on the lips but somehow it turned into them lazily snogging, stopping every so often to giggle or smile at each other. Harry was so in love with him. So completely in love and his heart began to race in his chest because, what if this is the right time to tell Niall that? It feels right and Harry wants to tell him so bad.

The moment was lost, however, when Niall kissed him again and suggested they should probably get up and showered before his Mum comes home. Harry would just have to wait. He wanted it to be perfect when he told Niall how he felt. He didn't want to be rushing and to be honest he wanted it to be just them. He loves his Mum and sister but he doesn't want them around after he tells Niall he loves him.

So they get up and head for the shower where they take turns washing each other and Niall gets on his knees to blow Harry. It's the perfect start to the day.

 

~~~

 

They're getting ready for bed after another great day with Harry's Mum and sister when Harry remembers he needs to talk to Niall about the photos going around of them together and how people are speculating they're together.

"I've had a lot of fun with your family the past couple of days, H," Niall said as he got into bed next to Harry and immediately turned his body so he was laying on his side and cuddling into him, "I'm kind of sad to be leaving tomorrow but it'll be brilliant to get back on stage again. I can't believe we're going to Paris! Then Germany!"

Harry chuckled and wrapped an arm around Niall, kissing his temple before speaking, "You say the same thing before every city we've been to. Your enthusiasm is so adorable and I honestly can say I'm going to every city and seeing it through your eyes now. It's like I've never been there before. It's been pretty amazing. Thank you."

Niall blushed a little at the compliment, "Thank you for allowing me to see the world with you. It's something I'll never forget. Not to mention all the great stories I'll have to tell Maggie when she gets older and her children someday."

Harry smiled at the thought then remembered he needed to talk to Niall and cleared his throat, "Can I talk to you about something baby?"


Niall looked up at him and kissed the underside of his jaw, "'Course. What's up?"

Harry held his boyfriend close, his hand immediately finding its way to Niall's hair like it always does, his fingers slowly threading through the soft strands, "Jeff e-mailed me some photos that were taken of us in Manchester and here in Holmes Chapel. I guess people are starting to question if we're a couple since I've brought you home to my Mum's house on the break." Harry paused and sighed before continuing, "I- I wasn't thinking. I just wanted you to meet my family. They're important to me, you and Maggie are important to me and...I guess I just wasn't thinking of how it would look. I'm sorry."

Niall is quiet for a few minutes, his fingers tracing circles through the sparse chest hair on Harry's chest and making Harry's skin break out in goosebumps. When he places a quick kiss right above one of his nipples and moves to sit up, Harry's heart begins to beat faster as he worries Niall might be upset. There's a small smile on his face, though, and Harry calms down a little, waiting for him to say something.

"We knew this would happen eventually didn't we?" Niall said.

"Yeah but we've only been together a little more than a month. I know you wanted time to get used to everything before it all gets crazy," Harry said worriedly.

Niall nodded, "Yeah but ya know what? I've never been this happy before in my life. Being with you is amazing and it's made me really think about everything. The fact of the matter is, you're famous and that's never going to go away, at least not anytime soon, so do I sit back and hide and be afraid of all the attention I'll end up getting? Or embrace it and just be proud as fuck that this incredible man that is Harry Styles chose me to be his boyfriend? I choose the latter I think."

Harry felt relief take over his body and he tipped his head back, laughing loudly then slapping a hand over his mouth when he remembered Maggie was asleep in the same room as them in her cot, "Sorry," Harry whispered, "Sorry. Do you think I've woken her?"

"Nah," Niall chuckled softly, "She's a heavy sleeper like me."

Harry nodded then leaned down to kiss Niall, pecking his lips softly a few times before pulling back, "I'll protect you as much as I can you know? Unfortunately I have no control over what the media or the fans say."

Niall shrugged his shoulders, "I honestly don't give a fuck if they say anything bad about me. I used to before we got together. I worried about Maggie growing up and hearing bad things about her Daddy that weren't even true. I'm over that. I've got good friends and family in my life that helped me see that even if she does hear stuff she'll know it's not true because she knows me."

"Soooo," Harry drags out the word, a slow smile spreading on his face, "Does this mean you're going to go on Twitter and tweet wonderful things about me?"

Now it was Niall's turn to laugh loudly, "Maybe I should! You know, Clare told me when I joined the band to turn my notifications off because your fans might start tweeting me constantly to ask questions about you when they figured out my name. So I did turn them off and it's probably good since I gained a shit load of followers but I kind of feel bad for them because I literally don't tweet. I only joined Twitter to follow Golf and Footie accounts. I s'pose maybe now I'll have to start tweeting and bragging about my hot boyfriend."

Harry giggled and rolled his body so he was on top of Niall and pinning him to the bed, "You know..." Harry paused to kiss along Niall's neck and up over his jaw to his lips, "I'm pretty private about my personal life usually. I even get a lot of flack for not tweeting very much, however...I think it would be really hot to have my boyfriend bragging about me to the world, letting everyone know that I'm his and nobody else's."

Niall blushed and bit down on his lip, making Harry want to ravish him but he knew he couldn't, not with Maggie in the room, "Yeah. That is kind of hot isn't it? The whole world is going to know that you're mine. Fuck," Niall groaned, "That'd be enough to get me hard if me daughter wasn't in the room."

Harry sputtered out a laugh and kissed Niall all over his face one more time before rolling off of him and back to his own side of the bed, "I know what you mean. We'll make up for it tomorrow night in Paris. We're always starving after a show so I've got a nice dinner planned for us. I already told Jessica so she's already prepared to have Maggie the whole night."

Niall hummed and cuddled into Harry's side again, "S'pose I can tame my hormones until then."

Harry giggled and gave his boyfriend a gentle squeeze, "So. What do you want me to tell Jeff?"

"About us?" Niall looked up at him in surprise, "Harry that's- it's your career. I don't- I mean, you should do what's best for you and-"

"I'm going to stop you right there," Harry said seriously, putting a finger on top of Niall's lips, "This isn't about my career. It's about you and me. Our relationship is ours and I'm not making any decisions about it without you. We should talk this over and decide what to do."

Niall looked stunned for a minute then slowly nodded his head and bit into his lip while he thought, "Well...what's your position on it? Because to be honest, I'm okay either way. Like, we can put out an official statement through Jeff or we can do what we talked about before and just live our lives the way we want and let them decide for themselves what we are to each other."

Harry nodded, a thoughtful look on his face, "I think I may have been a bit naive in saying that. I was talking to Nick about it and he pointed out that just by walking down the street holding your hand I'll be officially coming out and while that's not a big deal to me it's a very big deal to the media. They'll be all over me and not saying anything will probably only make the attention worse."

"Well if you want to put out a statement I'm okay with that," Niall tells him easily.

"Maybe we can talk to Jeff about it in Paris tomorrow? The thing is...I've never spoken about my relationships. I haven't even confirmed them since the disaster that was my relationship with Taylor," Harry said, "With you, though, I find myself wanting to tell the world. It's new for me to want to talk about my relationship."

Niall looks thoughtful for a moment before he speaks, "How about you don't release a statement but if someone asks you about it you just don't deny it? Kind of like I've seen Louis doing in his promo. When they bring up Eleanor he talks about her or brings her up to say a song he's written is about her. If someone brings me up then...just be honest."

A slow smile spreads across Harry's face and he can't resist smacking a kiss to Niall's lips, "I like that. I really like that. We'll talk to Jeff about it tomorrow yeah?"

"Yeah," Niall agrees with a smile on his face, then Harry turns out the light and they settle in to go to sleep.


~~~


After a show in Paris and one in Cologne, they were back in London for two shows and since Harry had an interview at Radio One with Grimmy, it was decided they would casually talk about Harry and Niall and put it out there that they were a couple. The four of them- Harry, Niall, Jeff and Nick- talked about it while they were in Paris and both Harry and Niall really liked the idea and Nick was on board with anything Harry and Niall wanted to do so it was decided that Niall would be seen coming and going from the BBC building with Harry and Nick would find some way to steer the conversation onto relationships.

So that's how Niall found himself at Radio One in Central London, standing off to the side while Harry and Nick chat about Harry's current tour and his upcoming arena tour on air. Niall couldn't help but smile the whole time. Nick is Harry's best friend, the one he can absolutely trust with anything and know Nick won't stab him in the back, and the older man had a way of getting Harry to just let loose and be himself while on the radio. There was no guard up and Niall loved it. The real Harry is who he fell in love with after all.

"Are you ready for this?" Jeff all of a sudden leaned in close to him to whisper, "Nick said he was going to get into the relationship after they got all the promo stuff out of the way. Should be happening soon. How do you feel?"

Niall scoffed and gave Jeff a 'really?' look. He liked the man, he really did. He was another of Harry's good friends and Niall really liked that he was working for Harry, letting Harry choose the path his career takes. Not like Harry's previous management with One Direction. However sometimes Niall had to roll his eyes at him because he acted like this was some big chore. He may not have told Harry yet but he is madly in love with him and it's not a chore being with him just because he gets papped all the time or always gets stopped by fans for pictures. Niall felt like the luckiest man on Earth to have Harry and if part of that meant he himself had to give up some anonymity...he was more than okay with that.

"Alright, alright. I'm just saying," Jeff held his hands up in front of him and chuckled at Niall, "It's not easy dating Harry. A lot of attention comes with it. I just wanted to make sure you're okay with that."

Niall shrugged, his attention still focused on Harry while he joked with Nick during the commercial break, "I am okay with it. It wouldn't matter if I wasn't would it? We can't hide forever. At some point someone is going to figure out who I am to Harry."

Niall saw Nick and Harry getting ready to go back on air and returned his full attention to them, smiling and winking at Harry when he looked over. Harry blew him a kiss then the web cams came back on and Nick was back on the air.

"Good Morning everybody! In case you're just tuning in, we've got Harry Styles here with us this morning,"

"Hiiii. Good morning," Harry said, his dimples popping when he smiled.

"Okay, so, Harry's been telling us all about his current tour and his arena tour next year. We're all very excited for it. I can't wait for the show here in London tonight. It's going to be sick. A lot of people are looking forward to more than just the music though. Isn't the right, Harry?" Nick said with a smirk on his face, making Harry blush and shake his head a bit, "Oh come on now! You know it's true. Fans have been blowing up Twitter for weeks now, completely besotted with your new guitar player, Niall Horan-"

"He's great isn't he?" Harry interrupts, "For anyone who's seen a show already, they can attest to that. I got really lucky when I found him."

Harry very briefly looks over at him and Niall knows he's smiling like an idiot but he can't help it. His boyfriend is on the radio talking about him to millions of people! Niall's heart was racing and his stomach was swooping, he was probably sweating too but he didn't fucking care at this point.

"You had to find a new guitar player really quickly when your previous guitar player was injured in a car accident, right?" Nick continued on.

"I did, yeah. It was a really hard time. Mitch and I became good friends when we worked on my album together. I'm so proud of the finished product and it wouldn't be what it is without him so I was not only devastated because we almost lost him in that accident but I was also devastated because his injuries were so severe there was no way he'd be able to play guitar again. It was tough. For all of us. We were like a family," Harry stopped for a moment to gather himself, "Thankfully he is recovering now. I'm so glad of that. In the meantime, though, I had to find a new guitar player who was good enough to learn all my songs in a short time to be ready for the tour."

"And you did! Niall Horan. I've heard him play. He's fantastic!" Nick gushes, making Niall actually blush a bit, "I think a lot of people are noticing a bit more than his guitar playing though. There's quite a bit of talk about you two going around. Even critics are noticing your chemistry on stage. Calling it electric and saying the way you feed off of each other takes the show to a whole other level. I want to talk about the fans though. They're calling you two Narry and have been totally obsessed with the bromance but last week pictures showed up of you and Niall in your home town with your Mum and sister looking pretty cozy and now the speculation everywhere is that you're actually dating. Have you seen Twitter? Did you know all this was happening?"

"Um, no, I haven't been on Twitter recently," Harry says while pushing his hand through his hair, "I've been told about what's going on, though, so I am aware."

"Right, so, I think the whole world knows by now that you and I have been friends for ages,"

"Yeah. Yeah, I think so," Harry nods along, a grin on his face.

"Yeeessss so I know you don't comment about your personal life. Ever. I have to do my job, though, so I asked you if we could talk about this on air today and you surprised me by saying yes. I was gobsmacked!" Nick laughed.

That wasn't exactly how it had gone but Nick and Harry had agreed earlier to play it that way.

"What can I say? I like to keep people on their toes. Even my friends," Harry smirked, looking into the webcam and probably sending some of his fans into cardiac arrest.

"So why now? Why are you all of a sudden okay with talking about your personal life?"

Harry takes a deep breath, letting it out slowly. Niall wishes he could go over there and hold him so badly. He knows this is something Harry really wants to do but that doesn't mean it's easy. All he can do is hope he can give Harry strength from across the room. Hopefully just him being there is a comfort to Harry.

"I think..." Harry pauses for a moment, "Honestly I'm just really happy right now. Um. You know, I've been pretty open about the fact I practically secluded myself when I made my album. I was away for a couple of months and before that I spent five months making Dunkirk so...I mean, I had people around me but not a special someone, you know what I mean? I didn't have a relationship or even date while I was immersed in making the film and making my album. Then my album came out and the film was due to come out soon and one day- actually it was when I was talking to you- I realized I'd really like to have somebody in my life again."

Nick was nodding his head along as Harry spoke, "I remember that conversation. You told me you felt like you'd finally grown up."

"Yeah," Harry nodded, "And that's absolutely true. We were non stop for five years with the band and I was so young, not really taking dating seriously, and then all of a sudden I turn around and I've made this album and film I'm extremely proud of but one thing was missing."

"That special person to share it all with, yeah? Oh Harold," Nick put a hand over his heart and pretended to cry, "That's the sweetest thing I've ever heard. Truly."

Harry snorted and grinned across the table at Nick, "That says some pretty sad things about your own relationships, Nick."

Nick's eyes widened and he burst out laughing loudly. Niall did, too, completely forgetting where he was. Jeff shushed him but it was too late- Harry was looking over at him with a huge smile on his face and Nick was looking over as well, clearly seeing an opportunity here.

"For all our listeners out there, that loud laughter you hear in the background is from none other than Niall Horan," Nick says through his laughter, "He's clearly ganging up on me with young Harold here."

"Of course he is, Nick. He's my boyfriend. He'll always side with me," Harry says cheekily.

"So you're confirming it then?" Nick asks with a raised eyebrow, "You and Niall Horan are a couple? Narry is real?"

Harry laughs and looks over at Niall again, a slight tint to his cheeks and a shy smile on his face, "Yeah. I'm definitely confirming it."

Nick hits a button and party music starts playing over the radio. Harry throws his head back and laughs while Nick dances in his chair with the stupidest grin on his face. It was absolutely ridiculous but Niall was enjoying every second of it.

"Okay, okay, okay, enough of that now," Nick laughs as he turns off the music, "I got excited there for a moment. I've been keeping the secret for ages and now you've just essentially given me permission to talk about Narry on the radio. I don't know what to do with myself."

Harry laughed into the mic and shook his head, "I hate you. I really hate you."

"You don't. You love me," Nick said, a pleased smile on his face, "Now let's get back on track here. You've confirmed you're dating Niall Horan. Why is he the one you're willing to open up about? You've dated people before but never publicly. What's changed?"

"Um. Like I said before, I'm just really happy right now. I feel like I finally grew up a lot when I was making the film and making my album. I had a lot of time to think and I realized when I dated in the past I never really took it too seriously. I was young and stupid and all about the casual dating. I told myself I was too young for something serious and I realize now that's not true. When you find the right one it doesn't matter how old you are - "

"So do you feel like in the past you didn't give your relationships much of a chance?" Nick interrupted to ask.

"Yeah. Definitely and I probably hurt some people which I deeply regret now. People always talked about how mature I was but when it came to feelings and relationships I think I was very immature,"

"And so over the course of eighteen months while making your film and your album you kind of...reflected for lack of a better word, and realized you needed to grow up a bit? Realized you wanted a long lasting relationship that means something? Then Niall Horan came into your life like a smack to the face?"

Harry laughed, looking down at the desk before lifting his eyes and looking over at Niall fondly, "I definitely wasn't expecting him. He was a very nice surprise."

"It was a bit of a slow burn wasn't it?" Nick said, "I swear everybody, I spent months listening to our dear Harold waxing poetic about Niall Horan. Of course I listened like the dutiful best mate that I am."

"That's a lie!" Harry's eyes went wide and he pointed at Nick who had begun to cackle, "You made fun of me every time!"

"Yes but I still listened didn't I? So it wasn't a lie!" Nick said gleefully, making everyone in the room laugh. "Anyway, you and Niall are together now and very happy. We're all very happy for you and wish you all the best. Twitter is blowing up isn't it, Fifi? I think the BBC Twitter page might crash. My own personal Twitter is blowing up. Speaking of Twitter, will you be more active now, Harold? Your Twitter is the most boring thing I've ever seen. Will you put some selfies of you and Niall on there now at least? Make your fans happy."

"I don't know. Maybe. You never know," Harry responded with a coy smile on his face.

Nick rolled his eyes, "We're going to play Harry's latest single right now and while we're doing that I'll get a picture of Narry and post it on my Instagram. Don't worry Harry Styles fans, I've got your back. This is Two Ghosts on the Radio One Breakfast Show."

The music started playing and as soon as Harry took off his headphones, Niall walk over to him, pulling him into a tight hug, "That was incredible, baby. You did so well."

"Yeah?" Harry whispered, tucking his face into Niall's neck, "I was worried I wasn't explaining myself very well."

"You explained yourself perfectly. I'm so proud of you. You just officially confirmed your sexuality. That's a brave thing to do for someone in your position," Niall told him, his hand slowly running up and down Harry's back soothingly.

"Alright!" Nick snuck up next to them with his phone, "Selfie time! Smile for the camera. Make all your fans swoon."

Niall laughed and turned to face Nick, holding on to Harry while Nick took pictures of them. Once he was satisfied, Fiona took the phone and got pics for the website of just Nick and Harry then Nick, Harry and Niall together.

When it was time to get going, they both thanked Nick and hugged him quickly before he had to get back on air. They promised to see him that night at the show then they headed for the main entrance, Harry's team walking in front of them.

"Hey," Harry squeezed Niall's hand to get his attention, "I'm going to talk to the fans for a bit, take some pictures. Pete will make sure you get to the car alright, okay?"

Niall looked over at Pete, one of Harry's massive bodyguards, and had no doubt Pete could get him to the car safely. He could probably lift him over his head with just one hand. "Okay," Niall leaned in for a kiss, "I'll see you in the car."

Harry's team left first. Lou, Jeff, and some guy from the label Niall couldn't remember the name of, then Niall went out with Harry, the screams so loud it felt like he was being knocked back. Harry was still holding his hand and squeezed it reassuringly before he let go and Pete lead him toward the car with a hand on his arm.

They were almost at the car when a girl calling his name caught his attention. How could she not when she was waving her arms around and one of them was covered in a bright pink cast.

He asked Pete to stop a moment and he went up to the girl to say hello, "Are you okay, love? You look like you're getting pushed around a bit. Probably not good for your arm."

The girl beams at him and shakes her head, "I don't care! It might hurt later but it'll be worth it now that I've gotten to see you and Harry up close! Oh my God I can't believe this!"

Niall laughed and honestly he felt a bit strange. This was too surreal. It felt so weird that people knew his name and wanted to meet him, "What's your name?"

"Dana! Can I get a picture with you? Would you mind?" She asked with a hopeful expression.

"I don't mind but I'm not anything special. Are you sure you want a picture with me?" Niall asked, feeling a little bewildered, a little out of his depth.

Dana shook her head immediately, "That's not true. You're very special. You make Harry happy. You're the one putting that bright smile on his face lately. We love Harry so much and we want him to be so happy. Thanks to you he is."

Niall was gobsmacked. He's sure his mouth dropped open a bit and he probably stared at her for longer than he should have but in the end he recovered and took her phone so he could take a picture of them together. She also asked him to sign her cast so he did, hugging her quickly before pulling away.

"How about I make sure Harry gets over here to you, yeah?" Niall says, laughing at the look on her face.

"Oh my God, really?? Are you serious????"

"I am," Niall assures her, "You're very sweet and your kind words mean a lot to me. I'll make sure he comes over. It was really nice to meet you, Dana."

She looks at him, dumbfounded, and Niall laughs as he makes his way back down the street under the watchful eye of Pete to get to Harry. When he reached him, the girls started screaming their heads off and Niall had to lean in close to Harry to be heard, "Hey, babe. There's a girl down there named Dana. Can you stop for her please? Pink cast on her arm."

Harry grins wide at him and nods his head, "I do love pink!" then he leans in and pecks Niall on the lips quickly, sending all the girls in the street into a massive frenzy.

Pete takes him by the arm again and leads him back toward the car. Niall smiles and shyly waves at the girls who call his name and have their phone pointed at him. He feels silly and wonders if this is how Harry feels all the time? Probably not since he was used to this by now.

When they get to the car, Pete opens the door for him and Niall climbs into the back seat, sinking into the leather and making himself comfortable. He says hello to the driver who smiles back at him, then he takes out his phone and decides to get on Twitter to see if Nick had posted the pictures of him and Harry yet. When he opens the app he doesn't have to scroll down very far before he finds them. He started following Nick a little while ago so they were right there, easy to find. He clicks on the pictures to make them bigger and smiles because they're good pictures. They look really happy and in love and it hits Niall for about the millionth time that he really wants to tell Harry how much he loves him. He can't keep worrying forever that it's too soon. When you know you know right? And it's not the end of the world if he doesn't say it back right away. It won't change anything. He'll still love Harry with all his heart and soul.

Sighing softly, he decides against his better judgement to read some of the comments under Nick's picture. Once he does he's actually glad he did because some of them are really sweet and some are just hilarious. One person actually told him to die because Harry belongs to Louis. For some reason that one made him laugh so hard and he was still laughing as he forwarded it on to Louis.

Surprisingly he gets a response right away, even though it's two in the morning in L.A. "Hahaha welcome to my world, mate! Cute pic. Love you both xx"

Niall grinned and sent some smiley faces and heart emojis back. Louis has become one of his best mates and he's so thankful to have met him. Eleanor as well. At this point he honestly can't picture his life without them in it and when Maggie gets older she's definitely going to be having play dates with Freddie.

The car door opens, interrupting Niall's thoughts, and he smiles when Harry slides into the back seat with him and leans over to kiss his cheek. Pete gets into the front and then they're driving off, a crowd of fans waving and screaming behind them.

"Everything okay?" Niall asks, looking Harry over to make sure he hasn't accidentally gotten scratched or something.

"Perfect, yeah," Harry grins and reaches for his hand, lacing their fingers together, "Thank you for being nice to my fans. Dana told me how lovely you are and that you took a picture with her. Then she showed me how you signed her cast for her. I signed right next to you, by the way. She was so sweet."

Niall blushed a little and smiled down at his lap, "She really was. I felt so weird signing my name and stuff. I asked her if she was sure if she wanted a picture of me and do you know what she said? She thanked me for making you so happy. She said your fans just want you happy. It was..."

"Incredible?" Harry slides over to sit in the middle seat so he can cuddle Niall. He kisses his cheek a few times then rests his chin on his shoulder, "That part is hard to get used to. It blows my mind everyday. I love my fans so much. I've accomplished so much thanks to them. I know they're gonna love you too."

"I hope so but if they don't..." Niall shrugged, "I still have you."

Harry chuckled and kissed his shoulder, "Yes you do. You'll always have me."

Niall sincerely hoped so.

 

~~~


Even though the venues were small, the two London shows were electric. Harry had his friends and family there and it meant so much to him to perform for them and show them how much he loved what he was doing. Even better, though, was getting to see Niall so into the performance. His own friends had come to the show, along with his Mum and some of his cousins. Harry could tell Niall was proud to be on that stage performing for them and when it came time for Harry to formally introduce his band, he couldn't control the smile on his face when he heard the roar of the crowd after he introduced Niall. It got him going even more and because of the adrenaline rushing through his body, things might have gotten a tiny bit too close to rated R when performing 'Kiwi'. He should probably be ashamed of the way he was all over Niall with both their Mum's in the audience but he wasn't. He really, really, wasn't.

After the second show, Harry and Niall had a very late dinner with both their friends and families. They got a private room at the hotel and there was one big table set up for all of them. They talked, laughed, told stories while getting to know each other, and by the time it was after midnight and everyone was going back to their rooms or their homes if they lived in London, Harry's friends and Niall's friends and cousins were all friends and trading numbers, while Anne and Maura were like giddy school girls gossiping about their boys.

By the time Harry and Niall got back to their room after saying goodnight to everyone, it was after one in the morning but the adrenaline was still pumping through Harry's body and he could tell Niall felt the same.

"Fuck," Harry cursed as he closed the hotel room door behind him and reached for Niall. Niall came to him easily and Harry wrapped his arms around him, sliding his hands down to squeeze Niall's amazing ass while he mouthed over his jaw, "What an incredible night! Best show yet. I can still feel my heart practically beating out of my chest."

Niall crowded him up against the door, their bodies pressed together all the way from their legs up to their chests. He started kissing over Harry's sparrow tattoos, nipping at his skin and soothing it with his tongue. It made Harry shiver and made goosebumps break out on his skin. "You were so fucking sexy out there on stage, baby," Niall murmured against his skin, "Every time I looked at you singing your heart out into that mic, your shirt open and your body covered in sweat....fuck, it's a good thing I play guitar because you had me half hard all night. In front of our friends and families."

"God, Niall," Harry pulled him in and kissed him hard and frantic, their teeth knocking together and their lips sliding over each other's wetly. It was so incredible, so passionate, and Harry was feeling so many things that he couldn't contain himself. That's probably why when they pulled back for breath and Niall started kissing his neck while grinding against him, he blurted out, "I love you. God, I love you so much."

As soon as Harry realized what he said his eyes went wide and he gasped loudly. He felt Niall immediately stop kissing and grinding on him and immediately went into panic mode. He pushed Niall off of him and walked quickly into the room, his eyes filling with tears and his hand over his mouth. He started to mumble, "Oh God. Oh fuck. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I- I didn't mean to do that. I didn't mean to say that."

He couldn't even look at Niall so he didn't know what his boyfriend was doing. Didn't know if he was upset, if he was just standing there awkwardly, or if he had even moved from his spot by the door. All Harry could do was pace frantically back and forth in the sitting area in front of the large King size bed. When he reached the window he turned around to pace back the other way like he'd already done ten times by now, but this time he hit something. Something was blocking his way and when he looked to see what it was it was Niall.

"Hey," Niall spoke softly, his hand wrapping around Harry's wrist and bringing his hand down from covering his mouth. He laced their fingers together and then reached up to cup Harry's cheek with his other hand, "Breathe for me, yeah?"

Harry looked at Niall with wide eyes and nodded. He breathed in and out slowly, regulating his breathing while looking into Niall's hypnotizing blue eyes, "That's better," Niall smiled softly at him, "Now...did you really not mean to say what you said? That would actually make me really sad you know, because...I love you, Harry, and I-I really want you to love me too."

Harry couldn't believe what he was hearing. The tears that were building up in his eyes finally began to roll down his cheeks and a sob escaped his lips as he looked into Niall's eyes and saw the sincerity and love there, "Really?" He managed to choke out.

"Yes, really," Niall laughed softly and brushed a tear away with his thumb, "How could I not fall in love with you? How could anybody not fall in love with you? You're a beautiful person, Harry, inside and out. You're everything I could ever want. I love you so much."

Harry was full on ugly crying now. "I love you, too, Niall! I didn't mean it when I took it back!" He wailed.

"Oh my God!" Niall laughed as he let go of Harry's hand and pulled him into a tight hug, "You're so adorable right now. I can't believe you. I can't believe you're mine."

Harry buried his face in Niall's neck and laughed through his tears, "I'm a blubbering mess. Oh God!"

"Maybe but you're my blubbering mess and I wouldn't have you any other way," Niall said into his ear, "I'm so lucky to have you, Harry. Thank you for picking me."

Harry pulled back and held Niall's face in between his hands, kissing his lips softly and getting them wet with his tears. Niall didn't seem to mind, though, since he wound his arms around Harry's neck and pulled him in closer.

"Thank you for picking me," Harry whispers against Niall's lips when he pulls back, "I'm so lucky. Do you have any idea how much you and Maggie mean to me? I love the both of you so much. There's nothing I wouldn't do for you both. Nothing."

Now it seems to be Niall's turn to get emotional. Harry watches as tears fill his eyes and he swallows repeatedly to try and keep them from falling. He manages to succeed and clears his throat before he speaks, "I do know how much we mean to you. You always show us and I see the way you are with Maggie. It makes me feel things I didn't know I could feel. She's the most important person in my life. My number one always and you've always understood that. I've never had to compromise being a father because from day one, even when we just met and weren't together yet, you always encouraged me to put Maggie first, always rearranged rehearsals and such with the band so I could still be a good father to her, you were incredible from day one and I love you so much for that."

"I will always want you to put her first. That will never change," Harry says honestly, "God," He lets out a disbelieving laugh, "I can't believe this is happening right now. I've been wanting to tell you for so long how I feel about you. I've been falling in love with you since the day we first met but I didn't know if it was too soon to tell you or not. I have no experience with serious relationships."

Niall bent his head and pressed his forehead against Harry's shoulder, laughing lightly, "I've been wondering the same thing. If it's too soon to tell you how I feel. I've been agonizing over it. We're quite the pair aren't we?"

"Yeah," Harry laughed and ran his hands over Niall's back, "We definitely are."

Niall lifted his head to look at Harry and Harry stared back, a spark igniting in them instantly. Niall reached up and began to unbutton the rest of Harry's shirt, his fingers brushing against Harry's skin making him shiver, "Do you think we could continue what we were doing earlier?"

Harry bit his lip and let his shirt fall off his shoulders and onto the floor, "I think we definitely can. I need you so much. Want your hands and mouth all over me."

Niall's eyes visibly grew darker as he reached for Harry's jeans and began to undo the belt, "That can definitely be arranged."

Some time later, Harry is on his back on the bed with Niall on top of him, thrusting inside of him at a slow, steady pace. He is really working Harry up, touching him everywhere, kissing him everywhere, whispering in his ear how much he loves him. It is the most amazing, incredible, romantic sex Harry has ever had and when he finally comes it's with his arms around Niall and his face buried in his neck, as waves of pleasure take over his body. Niall comes right after him, holding onto Harry for dear life. He's never felt so loved in his life.


~~~


They're in Milan over a week later when Niall gets recognized for the first time while out on his own. Harry was doing interviews for a lot of the day so he had gone out and done some sightseeing with some of the other people on Harry's team in the morning and afternoon. Maggie was with them and they all had a blast doing the tourist thing. Nobody stopped them at that point. It was later when Niall decided he wanted McDonald's that he got noticed. He left Maggie with Harry at the venue and walked down the street where he had seen a McDonald's. He was standing in line waiting to order when some girls came over to him.

"Hi, Niall!" He hears his name and turns around to see three girls smiling wide and looking like they're about to jump out of their shoes. He immediately figures they're fans of Harry because he's never been to Italy before and he certainly doesn't know them.

"Hello, girls. You alright?" He asks politely, a smile on his face.

"Oh my God!" One of them half screams, "His accent! Oh my God I love your accent, Niall."

Niall raises an eyebrow and can't help but laugh. He's still not used to this, not at all. He doesn't really know what to say so he just says thank you like an idiot and continues to smile.

"Is Harry with you?" One of them asks, looking around trying to spot him.

"Sorry, love, it's just me. Grabbing a quick bite to eat," Niall tells them, sorry to disappoint them. Oddly enough they seem okay with it and stand to the side while he orders and pays for his meal. When he's done and just wanting to be handed his food they come back over.

"We're so happy to meet you, Niall. We love you and Harry so much! Every time we see new pictures of you guys on Twitter Harry looks so, so, happy and your little baby is so adorable. It must be so cute to see Harry with her. Do you mind if we take a picture with you?"

Niall smiles and agrees, taking a picture with all three of them. They thank him profusely and as he's leaving with his food they ask him to tell Harry they love him. He promises he will and exits the restaurant to head back to the venue.

When he gets back and walks into Harry's dressing room, he smiles when he finds Harry getting his hair styled with Maggie on his lap blabbering away. No words yet, just sounds. She mostly likes to say 'ba ba ba' over and over again while smacking her hand down on a hard surface. Sarah likes to say Maggie is already practicing to become a drummer.

"How are my two loves? Did you miss me?" Niall asks, going over to kiss Harry and Maggie on the cheek.

"What about me?" Lou asked teasingly as she sprayed something in Harry's hair, "Maybe I missed you."

Niall laughed and kissed her cheek too, then sat down on the couch to get his burger and fries out, "Now, Lou Lou, I keep telling you ya have to get over yer crush on me. I'm a taken man. Got meself a hot little boyfriend with a body to die for I do. Not giving that up."

Harry cackled loudly from his chair, making Maggie laugh and bounce around in his lap. It was the most adorable thing and Niall couldn't believe the both of them were his. He wanted to spend every single day of the rest of his life making them both laugh like that.

"You're a cheeky little git, Niall Horan, but I reckon that's what we all love about you isn't it?" Lou laughed, a fond look on her face as she went back to Harry's hair.

"Hey. So-" Niall stuffed some chips in his mouth and hummed in approval. Perfectly salted and nice and hot, "-three girls came up to me in McDonald's. Knew who I was. It's so strange."

"Yeah? Was it alright?" Harry turned to look at Niall with a concerned look on his face.

Niall waved his hand in the air dismissively, "Yeah, yeah, it was fine. They were very polite. When it was my turn to order they stood off to the side until I was done then they asked for pictures. They were sweet. Wanted me to tell you they love you. I guess it's still just so surreal that people want pictures with me. They also thanked me because they said they see pictures of us together on Twitter and you always look so happy. That makes me happy and sad at the same time. Were you really unhappy before or something?"

Lou was finished with his hair so Harry got up and came to sit with Niall on the couch. He stole a fry and Niall glared at him playfully but let it slide. If anyone was allowed to steal food from him it's Harry, "Nah. Even though there were a few hard times while in One Direction I always loved it. I think they're referring to the fact this is the first time in five years they've seen me out with a significant other publicly. Taylor was the last one. After that disaster I decided to keep everything private from there on out."

Lou smiled over at them from where she was packing up her stuff, "I remember those early days. You were just eighteen and so naive. She was too, even though she was older. You were both determined to be as normal as possible and the media really turned it into a fucking circus. You live and learn though, right?"

"I hope I have," Harry bends down to kiss the top of Maggie's head. She was growing more hair, now, and it was starting to get curly, reminding him of Harry even though she was his daughter, "It feels different this time. Maybe because Niall isn't the hugely famous megastar that Taylor is. I don't feel like we get boxed in right away when we go out together. Fans recognize me eventually but it's not a big shit storm with the paps."

Lou snorted and took a seat where Harry had been sitting to get his hair done, "I know we can't prove it but it was obvious to me her team was tipping off the paps as to where you'd be. That's not happening this time. You've surrounded yourself with good people who would never sell you out."

"I like your whole team, H. You really have surrounded yourself with good people," Niall agreed, biting off a tiny piece of chip and giving it to Maggie.

"Niall!" Harry gasped, "Don't be giving your daughter junk food. She's only eight months old!"

Niall rolled his eyes at Harry while taking a long sip of his coke, "One minuscule piece of chip is not going to clog her arteries. I'm warning you now, Harry, my daughter will not be a health nut. A bit of junk food sometimes won't hurt her so don't you try and turn her into a rabbit!"

"Christ," Lou laughed fondly, "She's barely eating solid foods yet and you're already arguing like an old married couple about her diet. You make me sick!"

Niall rolled his eyes again while Harry just pouted. Niall couldn't wait to kiss that pout right off his face later tonight. Honestly, he couldn't get enough of sex with Harry. Even just a pout could make Niall start thinking about it.

"Anyway," Harry says after a minute, "Before I forget...you know we have the AMA's during this upcoming break from tour right?" Niall nodded, "Well I'm performing so I know you'll be there but...I was wondering if you'd come as my date instead of just as part of my band? Walk the red carpet with me and all that?"

Niall has to finish chewing his burger but when he does his mouth drops open and he stares at Harry with wide eyes, "What? You-? Are you sure? You want me to-? Me?"

Harry chuckles and leans in to quickly kiss Niall on the lips, "Yes you. You're my boyfriend aren't you?" He looks down at Maggie, "Your Daddy is silly, Miss Maggie, isn't he? So silly."

Niall manages to return his eyes to their normal size but is still in a state of shock at being asked. Of course he wants to go and support Harry but he has no idea what he's doing in the entertainment industry. He would know how to stand or where to look. He'd completely embarrass Harry and that's the last thing he wanted to do.

"Hey." Harry looks at him, his expression going from amused to concerned. He passed Maggie to Lou then sat as close to Niall as humanly possible, taking his hand in his and kissing his knuckles, "What's wrong, love? Do you not want to go with me? It's okay if you'd rather stay with the band and go in the back."

Niall looked at Harry and knew that wasn't true. He knew Harry would never force him into anything and knew if he said no, Harry really would be okay with it, but he could also tell this meant a lot to Harry and that he wanted Niall by his side supporting him.

"Of course I want to. It's not that. I just- I don't know what I'm doing at these things. I don't even know what I'm supposed to wear. I'd just embarrass you," Niall said softly, looking down at his hands.

"Absolutely not!" Harry said fiercely, cupping Niall's face in his hands and forcing him to meet his eyes, "Do you hear me? You could never, ever, embarrass me. No matter where we are, what we're doing, what you're wearing, you will never embarrass me. Being with you will only ever make me the proudest man on Earth. Do you understand me?"

Niall nodded his head, his eyes wide. He's never seen Harry so adamant about something before, "What if I do something stupid, though? Or I don't look at the right cameras on the red carpet?"

Harry shrugged and brushed his thumb over the freckles on Niall's cheek, "Nobody ever knows what camera they're supposed to be looking at and as for doing something stupid- I usually do that all on my own. Tripping up in my own feet is one of my favourite past times remember?"

Niall laughs, reaching up to run his hands up and down Harry's forearms, "Well in that case...of course I'll be your date. I'd love nothing more than to be there supporting you."

"Thank you," Harry whispered, leaning in and kissing Niall long and slow, "It's my first award show by myself. I'm going to be terrified. I'll need you to hold my hand to keep me from shaking too much."

"I didn't realize this would be your first solo award show," Niall said, surprised, "You're going to be fantastic, H. I'll be right there beside you the whole time. Even when you're performing. How great is that?"

"You're both going to be great my loves," Lou spoke up for the first time in awhile, startling Niall a bit since he forgot she was even there, "I can't wait to watch you and do both of your hair!"

"Fuck! What am I supposed to wear, Harry???" Niall asked, momentarily going into panic mode.

"Don't worry, love. Harry's stylist already has some suits picked out for you to view just in case. I saw them earlier. They're brilliant!" Lou gushed, "You both just need to pick which one you want to wear and get fitted. You can do that tomorrow, I reckon."

Niall looked at Harry, a big smile on his face, "Well I guess we're all set then. You've got yourself a date, Styles!"


~~~


The next month was like a whirlwind for Niall. So much happened but he wouldn't change any of it. It didn't matter how hectic things got- he just went with the flow and took everything in stride like he always did. Personally he felt like his ability to remain unflappable was one of his better traits. Harry would probably disagree with that though. Sometimes he'd get so pissed off about something and when Niall remained unbothered by it it only made things worse. It annoyed Harry which only made Niall laugh and they usually ended up in a fight that lasted about five minutes because they just couldn't stay mad at each other. Everyone on the tour said it was sickening but both Niall and Harry knew they all loved them and supported them a hundred percent.

After Italy they had an almost two week break in tour. They would be attending the AMA's of course, but before that Harry surprised Niall with a mini vacation. He made all the arrangements, including contacting Niall's Mum to ask if she'd like to have Maggie for four days. Of course when Harry surprised Niall with the plans he made it very clear that everything wasn't set in stone. He wanted to make sure Niall knew he would never presume to just make plans for Maggie without consulting Niall. He just wanted Niall to know his Mum was free if he would be okay with Maggie staying with her for a few days so they could have a romantic getaway.

At first Niall had been stunned but when he finally was able to wrap his head around it he lunged at Harry with such force he knocked him to the floor then proceeded to kiss him until the curly haired lad was struggling to breathe. Once they got up off the floor, Niall told Harry he'd love to go on vacation and it was perfectly fine for Maggie to have some time with her Granny.

They ended up going to a popular celebrity spot, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Apparently it was not only known for its luxury but its very discreet and competent staff. They might get papped on the beach or on the deck of their villa but it would be from very far away. Nobody got close to the resort so they were afforded a great deal of privacy. It was perfect. Even if Niall almost had a heart attack when he found out the four day trip cost fifty grand American. He wanted to argue with Harry and tell him it wasn't necessary to spend so much money on him but when Harry looked at him with a shy smile on his face and explained how much he loved to spoil the people he loves the most...well, all Niall could do was melt into his arms and tell him he loves him and thank him for being so amazing and thoughtful.

After four days of total relaxation, romance, and incredible sex, they headed back to L.A. to get ready for the AMA's. Niall's Mum flew over with Maggie and gushed over the two of them when she saw them in their suits. Harry's stylist did a great job picking suits that complemented each other and Lou was a complete pro at doing their hair. Niall almost didn't recognize himself when he looked in the mirror.

Before they left the house, Niall's Mum hugged and kissed them both and took pictures of them. She even dressed Maggie up in a pretty pink dress and headband so she could get pictures taken with her Daddy and Harry. Niall had to admit they were gorgeous and when Lou suggested posting one of the photos on Instagram he fell head over heels in love with Harry all over again when he told her no, he'd rather keep those photos just for them.

The award ceremony was incredible for Niall. He was completely star struck but he managed to hide it well. He didn't want to embarrass himself or Harry by acting like a crazy fanboy. He got through the red carpet holding Harry's hand and smiling for the camera's like Harry told him to. When Harry stopped to be interviewed he stood with him and waited patiently, even getting involved in some of them when the interviewer included him. Apparently this Narry ship was getting bigger everyday and even some celebrities were jumping on board. It was so crazy to Niall but he didn't have time to think about it because they had to get inside and mingle before getting to their seats.

Performing with Harry with a room full of celebrities looking on was definitely nerve wrecking. His hands were shaking before they went on but Harry held them in between his own and kissed Niall sweetly, telling him everything would be fine. He assured Niall that once he had his guitar in his hands he would feel completely at peace and his fingers would take over like they always do.

Harry was right, of course. Niall was fine once they got onstage and even though he looked out and could see people like Drake, The Weeknd, Selena Gomez, Kim and Kanye, Justin Beiber, Halsey, Dua Lipa, and so many others, it didn't bother him. He simply played the music like he always did and enjoyed watching his boyfriend wow everyone like he always does.

After that night there were pictures of Harry and Niall absolutely everywhere. Niall couldn't even help going online and looking at some of them himself. His favourite was one on the red carpet. Harry had his hand on the small of Niall's back and he was leaning in close, whispering something in Niall's ear. Niall remembered it well. Harry was checking in with him to make sure he was okay. That explains the soft look on Niall's face. Needless to say he saved that picture on his phone immediately.

Of course with more exposure comes more paps and it was definitely a bit crazier for the rest of the tour in Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. It didn't bother Niall, though. Harry had security with him and they handled the paps who would stand outside their hotels waiting to get photos. Niall never once felt unsafe or like he couldn't go out and do anything he wanted.

Now the tour is over, it's the middle of December, and Niall is out doing some Christmas shopping. He and Harry had talked about Christmas while on tour and they decided to celebrate together on the twenty-third, then Harry would head to Holmes Chapel to be with his family and Niall would head to Ireland like he always does. Their relationship was still fairly new and they didn't see the need for one of them to have to miss Christmas with their family. Next year they would take the time to organize something between both families but for this year they were content to celebrate together early.

"What do you think, Mags? Hmm? I think we've gotten lots done today," Niall smiles at his daughter who is sitting happily in her stroller. She had napped for awhile and once she woke up Niall went into a coffee shop to get a bite to eat for lunch and to give her a bottle. Now that they're finished he gets ready to leave, making sure he has everything with him first, then he makes sure Maggie's hat is on her head and heads back out onto the street.

It's not too cold out today but Niall thinks the next shop will be his last for today. He's thankful he doesn't have a whole lot of shopping to do. He already ordered some stuff online for his cousins, friends, and Maggie. It's just the easiest way to shop these days, especially when you're on a world tour with your boyfriend. Still, there were some things he had to shop for in person and one of those is Harry's gift. At first he had panicked because what do you get someone who has millions of dollars and can buy anything he wants whenever he wants? But he quickly calmed down and realized he didn't need to worry. He knew his boyfriend well and he knew the gifts that meant the most to Harry were the ones that didn't cost much at all. He'd be happy if Niall simply cooked him a meal and lit some candles for a romantic dinner.

That wasn't going to be his present, though. Oh no. Niall put a lot of thought into it and believes he came up with the perfect gifts. He went through all the pictures on his phone and picked out a few he had in mind, then he got them printed in black and white. After that he needed the perfect frames and he found them online. As soon as he saw them he knew. They were antique picture frames in a rose gold colour. Niall knew as soon as he saw them they were perfect. Harry is obsessed with that colour and black and white photos go perfect with it.

He decided to get three frames. In one frame would be a picture of Harry with Maggie. Niall took it in some hotel room while on tour- he can't remember which one- and in it Harry is sitting in an armchair with Maggie in his arms, looking down at her adoringly while she looks up at him with her big blue eyes just as adoringly. It was a beautiful picture that captures the bond they have together after only knowing each other for such a short time. It's Niall's favourite picture of them together and he knows when Harry sees it he'll love it just as much.

For the second frame, Niall had chosen a picture of him and Harry together. They were backstage before a show and Niall had come up behind Harry after Lou had just finished his hair, wrapping one arm around him and kissing his cheek. Harry was smiling sweetly, his dimples deep in his cheeks and a slight blush on his face. They looked completely and utterly besotted with each other and thankfully Lou was being sneaky and thought to take the picture.

The third frame could fit four photos and for that one Niall had picked another picture of him and Harry together, one of Harry, Niall, and Maggie together, one of the three of them with Anne and Gemma, and one of Harry and Niall with Louis and Eleanor.

The picture of him and Harry was one Niall's Mum had taken of them when they were in L.A. for the AMA's. Niall had been chasing Harry around for some stupid reason he can't remember and when he got him they tumbled together onto the couch, both of them red faced from laughing so hard. The picture captures them in mid laugh, huge smiles on their faces and bright eyes. Niall is on top of Harry and Harry's arms are wrapped around him.

The picture of him, Harry and Maggie together was one taken by Gemma when they were in London for the London shows. They had time to visit her at her flat and she had taken a photo of the three of them sitting on her couch, Maggie nestled safely in Harry's arms. All three of them were looking straight at her and even Maggie had a smile on her face. Niall remembers she had been giggling at Harry making funny faces at her.

The picture of him, Harry and Maggie with Anne and Gemma had been taken the same day. Gemma had gotten her boyfriend to take it for them and they all looked happy and content together, like they were all family. That's how it was with Gemma and Anne. They made him feel like family even though he and Harry haven't been together for very long yet. He wasn't ashamed to say he already loved them like family and hoped he got to have them in his life for many years to come.

Then there's the picture of him and Harry with Louis and Eleanor. This one is important to Niall because since meeting both Louis and Eleanor they have become two of his closest friends. He feels like he can talk to them about anything, trust them with anything, and the talks Niall has had with Louis about their children have been a bigger comfort to Niall than anyone will ever know. Yes, Freddie's Mum is very much involved in his life, but Louis is still a single father and Freddie isn't too much older than Maggie so it gives Niall a lot of comfort to know he's not in this alone. To know Louis knows exactly what he's feeling every single day when it comes to wanting to do what's best for your child.

As for Harry, Niall knew the picture would mean a lot of him because he confided in Niall that he felt like he and Louis were starting to get their friendship back, their real friendship. They're starting to be comfortable with each other in a way they haven't been in four years. Eleanor had noticed it too and had told Niall how happy it makes her to see them acting like they used to. The four of them were becoming closer all the time and that's why Niall felt like he definitely had to include that photo.

As for what else to get Harry, Niall had a good idea what he was getting but it would have to wait until tomorrow. He was going to make one last stop into Tesco today then he and Maggie would be heading home for a cuddle and to wait for Harry to come over. They were going to have a nice quiet night in and watch some films together. Niall couldn't wait.

He spent twenty minutes in Tesco, taking his time and making sure he got everything on his list that he needed. He also picked out some junk food to eat while they watched the films. Even Harry indulged every once in awhile.

Once everything was rang in and Niall managed to squat the bags under the stroller with everything else, he put his gloves back on and headed outside only to be blinded by camera flashes and people yelling his name. He threw an arm up in front of him to try and block the blinding lights. It helped a bit but it was still difficult to see where he was going, to see if there was anywhere *to* go. From what he could tell he was completely surrounded by paparazzi and there was no way out without being forceful.

"Niall!! Niall! Where's Harry?"

"Niall! Look over this way! Niall! This way!"

"Niall! Out shopping today? What did you buy? Anything for Harry? Christmas presents?"

"Niall! Looks like you bought a lot. Did Harry give you his credit card?"

"Niall! Niall! Niall!"

Niall looked around, his eyes darting left and right, trying to find a way through. He didn't see one, though. All he saw was a wall of paps ready to eat him alive. His heart began to beat wildly and he reached over the stroller to pull Maggie's blanket up over her head. She was already starting to cry and Niall could feel the panic starting to rise in his chest. He needed to get out of here. He needed to protect his baby.

"Please," Niall tried to be heard over all the yelling, "Please! I have my daughter with me. Please let me through!"

One or two paps seemed to back off a bit, probably because they have kids of their own, but it wasn't enough and Niall was struggling to breathe now, panicked and frightened, just wanting to go home and protect his daughter. He started yelling for them to move again but it didn't help and now he was getting jostled around as they all struggled to get a picture of him. He stumbled a couple times but managed to stay on his feet but then he saw the stroller go up on two wheels and nearly tip over and his whole world flashed before his eyes. His body was filled with sheer terror as he watched his daughter nearly get toppled over while he was helpless to do anything.

He was just about to start throwing punches when someone grabbed him from behind. He struggled to get them off but a voice in his ear told him it was okay, they were trying to help, and the next thing Niall knew he was being pulled back inside of Tesco with Maggie and her stroller and the door was being locked behind him.

"Jesus Christ! Fuckin' savages!" A man said next to Niall. He had red hair and a thick beard and had an Irish accent. Niall had never been so glad to hear another Irish person in his life and he would have laughed if he wasn't trembling with fear right now.

"I think he's in shock, mate," Another man said, this one British and tall with Blonde hair.

"Let's get him in back. In the break room. I've called the police to get rid of those bastards," A woman said, leading the way through the aisles towards the employee area of the store. Somehow Niall found himself following. The two men by his side holding onto his arms and helping him along.

"Is the baby alright?" The woman asked when they walked into a large, quiet room, "Oh the poor thing must be terrified."

"I think so, yeah. Not a scratch on her. We got out there in time. Looked like it was getting dicey," The blonde man said.

Niall didn't know how long it took him, or how long they had already been in the room, but he finally managed to look at the three people staring at him and said a quiet "Thank you."

The next thing he did is take Maggie out of her stroller and hold her tight. He took off her hat and pressed his cheek to the top of her head while whispering over and over again that everything is okay, it was all going to be okay. Eventually her crying stopped and he took a deep breath before getting a tissue from her bag to wipe her face and nose. He was completely on auto pilot right now, not really thinking just doing. All he knew is that he had to take care of his daughter and keep her safe. Nothing else mattered.

"Are you feeling any better?" The woman asked him softly while putting a bottle of water in front of him. Niall nodded and took the water, drinking half of it down before returning the cap and laying it back on the table.

"What happened out there?" The Irishman asked, "Are you famous or something?"

Niall shook his head, clearing his throat before he spoke, "No. No, I'm not. My- my boyfriend is. They- they- I- "

"It's okay, mate, you don't have to explain anything," The blonde man said, "We're not letting you go back out there though. I'll call an über to come bring you home. You can't go out there even when they are driven away from here. They could just go hang out a couple of blocks away."

He was right. They could be anywhere and the panic that was clawing at Niall's chest came back again. Is this what his life has become? He can't even walk down the street with his daughter without almost getting trampled? He can't go Christmas shopping? Can't stop in to Tesco for a few groceries he needs? That's no kind of life at all. It's bullshit is what it is!

Niall kisses Maggie's forehead and looks down at her face. She has stopped crying now and her eyes are starting to close. Poor baby cried herself to sleep. Niall was completely devastated. How could he let this happen? He's her father. He's supposed to protect her and instead he put her in harms way. She could have been killed. Trampled to death by a group of savage people wanting to get a picture of him and for what? Because he's dating a celebrity?? It's so beyond fucked up that Niall is having trouble comprehending it.

There's a knock on the door and an employee steps in, "Sorry to interrupt. The police are here, Shelley. They're clearing all the paparazzi away."

"Oh good! I'm going to come out and make sure they do a good job of it. Will you be okay, love?" The woman whose name appears to be Shelly, asked him.

Niall nodded, "Yes. I'm- I'm okay. I'm so sorry for all this trouble. I had no idea anyone was even paying attention to me."

"Don't be silly, love. This is not your fault at all. I'm just glad you're okay," Shelley said, patting his shoulder before leaving the room.

Niall looked down and saw Maggie was completely asleep now. Still, he didn't want to let her go. Didn't want to put her in her stroller where she might be more comfortable. He needed to keep her close. Needed to feel her warmth against him.

He looked up at the two guys who were still standing in the room and tried to smile but he knew it was probably more like a grimace, "Thank you both. I don't- I wouldn't have gotten away from there without your help. I don't even know your names but you helped me."

"The name's Sean," The Irishman said, "And it was no trouble. I've had a bit of a crap day so it was kind of nice to take some of my anger out on those paps."

"I'm Jon," The Blonde guy said, "No thanks necessary. I would hope somebody would do the same for me if I was ever in that situation. I don't know how celebrities put up with that all the time."

Niall shook his head, "It's never been like that before. I don't know why it happened today. Even when I'm with Harry it's never been so bad. I just- I can't- "

Jon's phone went off and he looked at the screen before looking at Niall again, "The über is out back. Are you okay to go home? You still look pretty shaken up."

He was. He's still shaking. His hands trembling as he holds Maggie. He wants to go home, though. He wants to lock the door behind him and just cuddle with his daughter for the rest of the day, "I'm okay. I just want to go home to be honest."

"We'll help you out to the car," Sean said, reaching out to help Niall up out of his chair. He kept a hand on his arm as they left the break room and headed for the back door and Niall was grateful because he really was still shaky and didn't trust himself to stay on his feet.

When they got out to the car, Jon behind them with the stroller, Sean helped Niall into the back seat then went around to the boot to help Jon put Niall's bags and the strollers in. When they were done, Niall called out to them and asked for their numbers. He wanted to at least take them for a pint to say thank you. They both put their numbers in his phone then they said goodbye and the car took off, Niall giving the driver his address.

When he arrived home twenty minutes later, he let himself in his flat and everything that happened seemed to finally catch up to him because as soon as the door closed behind him he crumpled to the floor next to it, crying into his hands and leaving his cousin Deo wondering what the hell was going on.


~~~


Two hours later, Niall had calmed down and was sitting on his couch with a third cup of tea in his hands. Maggie had slept for awhile but was awake now, crawling around on the floor while playing with Deo. She seemed to be fine after the ordeal, probably doesn't even remember it. Niall wishes he could be like that but every time he closes his eyes he sees her stroller up on two wheels about to topple over. Thank God it didn't. Thank God it came back down on four wheels. He wants to throw up when he thinks about it tipping over and what might have happened.

"Hey," Deo sits next to him on the couch, Maggie in his lap, "Your hands aren't shaking anymore. That's a good sign."

Niall doesn't really respond, just hums and takes another sip of his tea.

"I was supposed to go out tonight. You were having Harry over. Is that still happening...? Or do you need me to cancel? I can stay here with you. You're pretty shaken up. You shouldn't be alone," Deo said softly.

Shit. Niall had forgotten about Harry coming over, "Fuck. I forgot about Harry. He'll be here soon. Listen, if Laura can babysit will you bring Maggie over there? I need to talk to Harry. Alone."

"Sure," Deo agreed, "Just let me know."

Niall took out his phone and texted Laura, thankfully getting a reply back within five minutes. She said she'd be happy to babysit Maggie so Niall let Deo know and got everything ready for them to go. He helped Deo get the car seat in his car, made sure he had the nappy bag, then kissed his little princess goodbye until later.

Another half an hour passed where he just sat on the couch, drinking tea and replaying what happened over and over again in his head. There was a time he'd be six or seven pints in by now but being a father has definitely made him more responsible. It's ironic since he still almost got his daughter killed anyway.

A knock sounded at his door and he slowly got up to answer it. Harry was on the other side, a smile on his face that quickly faded when he saw Niall, "Niall? Are you okay? What happened? Is Maggie okay?"

Niall shut the door behind Harry, a hysterical laugh bubbling up in his throats and escaping his lips. Once it started he couldn't seem to stop it either, and he ended up leaning back against the door, laughing and laughing and laughing some more, until his stomach hurt and Harry was looking at him like he'd gone completely mad.

"Yeah," Niall said when he stopped laughing, "Maggie's actually fine. Surprising after what happened."

"After what- Niall you're scaring me. What's going on? What happened?" Harry takes a tentative step toward Niall, reaching out his hand but pulling it back like he's not sure Niall will accept it.

"Oh! You're scared are you?" Niall laughed again, walking around Harry to grab his IPad off the table. He searched his name in google and wasn't surprised to find videos for earlier front and centre. He thrust the IPad at Harry then began to pace back and forth with a hand in his hair, "I don't think you're even half as scared as I was."

Harry looked at the IPad and turned on one of the videos that had popped up. When Niall heard him gasp he stopped pacing and watch as Harry became more pale after every single second of the video and his face took on a look of horror. When the video finished he looked up at Niall with tears in his eyes and his bottom lip trembling. Niall wanted to run to him, comfort him, but he was too angry. Angry with himself, with Harry and with those stupid paps for doing this to him.

"Oh my God!" Harry put down the IPad and looked at Niall, "I can't- why didn't I know about this? Why didn't you call me? Why didn't Jeff call me? My God, Niall, are you hurt? Where's Maggie? Is she okay? You said she was okay but- "

"She's fine. She's not here. She's with Laura. She probably won't even remember what happened but you know what, Harry? I can't forget. I probably won't ever forget. I can't close my eyes without seeing what happened. I was terrified. I couldn't breathe. Do you have any idea how that feels?? Do you have any idea how it feels to watch your daughters stroller nearly get toppled over while you just stand there unable to do anything about it? SHE COULD HAVE BEEN KILLED, HARRY!! WE BOTH COULD HAVE!!" Niall screams, tears streaming down his face and his hands shaking again, "I COULDN'T EVEN PROTECT MY OWN DAUGHTER! I'M HER FATHER, HARRY! HER FATHER!!! AND I COULDN'T DO A FUCKING THING!! NOT A THING AND IT'S YOUR FAULT! THIS NEVER WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF I WASN'T DATING YOU!!"

Niall stops, gasping for breath. He's screaming and crying at the same time and feels like he's going to hyperventilate any minute. Harry is crying too, looking horrified and guilty as fuck but Niall couldn't be bothered with how Harry felt right now. He was too upset, too traumatized by his ordeal.

"You know what?" Niall says after he catches his breath a bit, "Just go. I need you to go. I can't deal with this right now. I just- I need some time alone."

"Niall...please. Please don't do this," Harry pleaded, his face covered in tears and snot from crying so hard, "Please don't."

"Don't what, Harry? Don't what?" Niall threw his arms up in exasperation, "I told you more than once that Maggie is my number one priority. I told you. You said you understood that. You said I should always put her first. That's what you said! Now you're standing here begging me to what? I can't do this, Harry. I can't do this!!! Just go! Please!"

Harry stared at him for a long time, sobbing and looking completely heartbroken. Eventually he wiped at his cheeks with his hands and nodded his head, "Okay. I'll go. If that's what you need, I'll go, but don't for a second think I don't love you because I do. With all my heart. You and Maggie both. I'm so sorry, Niall. I'm so sorry." Harry choked out his last words then turned around and took off, his hand over his mouth to try and hold in a sob.

"Oh God," Niall let out his own sob and fell to the floor on his knees, screeching like he hasn't done since he was probably five years old. His heart was completely broken- shattered, and he seriously doubted he'd ever be able to put it back together again.


~~~


After his encounter with Niall, Harry somehow managed to get himself home where he curled up on his bed fully dressed and sobbed himself to sleep. He woke up the next morning feeling like he was hungover and near death. His eyes were puffy and swollen, his neck hurt from the angle he had fallen asleep on it, his mouth was dry, his nose was stuffed up, but none of that could compare to the ache he felt in his heart. Nothing had ever hurt so badly in his life. Absolutely nothing. He lost the love of his life and it was all his own fault. He brought Niall into his life and didn't protect him. He should have done more. He should have hired him a bodyguard. If something had happened to him or Maggie, Harry would never forgive himself.

After a long shower, he packed a bag, ate a banana, then got in his car to head home. He wasn't supposed to go until Christmas Eve. He was spending the next week in London and having Christmas with Niall and Maggie, then he was supposed to go to his Mum's. That's all changed now, though, and he just desperately needs his Mum right now so he's going to Holmes Chapel early. His Mum won't mind.

The drive took a lot longer than normal. Harry had to pull over five times because he couldn't hold in his tears. Each time he pulled over he had a good cry then wiped his face and continued on, driving slower than he should be and probably pissing off the other driver's.

When he finally got to his Mum's house, he grabbed his bag and his keys, tears already starting to fall down his cheeks again as he unlocked the door. He was taking off his shoes when his Mum came around the corner and gasped, "Oh my God! Harry?? What are you doing here? Oh love."

"Mummy," Harry choked out the word before he started sobbing again, loud, ugly cries that had him gasping for breath, "Mum- Mummy," He gasps out again, burying his face in her long hair when she wrapped her strong, comforting arms around him and held him tight.

"Oh God, Harry. My sweet baby boy," Anne soothed him, running a hand gently over his back, "I'm here, darling. I'm here. It's going to be alright now. Everything will be okay. I've got you."

Her soft voice and sweet words only made Harry cry harder. He loved his Mum so much and honestly didn't know what he'd do without her. Right now he didn't even know if he deserved her comfort but he took it anyway. He needed it and was going to be selfish and take it.

Harry isn't sure how much time passed before he was all cried out. It was probably a long time but his Mum was a patient woman and held him until he was done. "Come on, love, go on upstairs and wash your face. I'll make tea for us and we'll chat or have a cuddle, whatever you want."

Harry did as his Mum said, staying in the bathroom for ten minutes splashing cold water on his face. It felt good against his eyes that were sore from crying so much. When he was finished he went back down to the kitchen and sat down at the table with his Mum, thanking her for the tea she made for him.

"This is about that video I saw online of Niall yesterday right?" Anne asked softly, her hand on top of Harry's on the table, "I saw it on Twitter and was horrified. I've been calling you but I suspect you have your phone off."

"Yeah," Harry said, his voice breaking. He took a sip of his tea and closed his eyes at how good it felt against his raw throat, "Sorry."

"Niall and Maggie are alright?" Anne asked him next, "I've been so worried about them."

Harry nodded, tears springing to his eyes at the mention of Niall and Maggie, "They're okay physically. Niall told me Maggie probably won't even remember it but he- he said he can't even close his eyes without reliving it. He was so scared, Mum, so scared and it's all my fault. I put him in that position. I love him so much and- "

"Harry. No," Anne squeezed his hand comfortingly, "Of course it's not your fault. You didn't ask those paparazzi to crowd him when he left that shop. They were rude and aggressive, desperate to get the scoop on your new boyfriend. That's not your fault, baby. You're just living your life like the rest of us."

"It is my fault. He blames me, Mum. He told me to my face. If he hadn't met me this never would have happened to him. Maggie's stroller nearly got knocked over for God's sake! All because he got involved with me," Harry cried, "All because of me. He hates me now. Told me to go. I finally found the perfect person for me and I've lost him because of my job."

"Oh Harry," Anne moved her chair over next to Harry and wrapped an arm around him, laying her head on his shoulder, "I know it all looks bad right now. I know you're heartbroken and probably feeling a bit lost. Don't give up just yet, love. I know you don't want to hear this but this whole situation needs time. Niall just went through something traumatic. He's hurt, angry, confused. I think he needs time to process everything and then he'll be okay. You two can talk and work it out. I don't for a minute think he really blames you."

Harry sniffles and rest his cheek on top of his Mum's head, "But Mum- "

"No. Just listen to me for a second, Harry. You've certainly been in your fair share of crowds. Especially in the beginning when the four of you were flying commercial all over the place. I remember seeing video of the fans and paparazzi surrounding you at LAX. It took all four of your security guards plus police to get you safely to the car. Now picture that by yourself, without security or any of the other boys. That's what Niall went through. It's going to take some time for him to get over that and you can't really understand how he feels because you've always had security when you've found yourself in those situations. You just need to give him time. He loves you so much, Harry. You know he does. He won't throw that away. Just give him time to get his head on straight." Anne lifted her head from Harry's shoulder and smiled at him, her hand coming up to cup his cheek, "Okay love?"

Harry nodded, a tiny glimmer of hope burning in his chest. Maybe his Mum was right. Maybe Niall would come around and they could talk this over. Maybe they could still be together after all.

"Okay. What do I do in the meantime?" Harry asks sadly.

"You stay here with me and let me spoil you. Then when your sister gets here next week she'll spoil you, too, and we'll have a quiet Christmas together," Anne said with a smile.

Harry finished his tea and tried to smile back at his Mum, "Is it okay if for now I just go up to my room and be alone for a bit?"

"Yeah, baby, that's okay. I know you're hurting. I'll be here if you need me. I love you," Anne stood up and kissed his cheek then hugged him tight.

"I love you, too, Mum," Harry whispered, then he dragged himself upstairs and fell asleep before he even had a chance to cry again.


~~~


Niall sat down on his best friends couch, sighing and sinking in to the cushions while she made tea. She offered a beer but Niall didn't think it was a good idea. He was only here for an hour then he was getting back to Maggie who was at home with the sniffles.

"Here we are," Laura handed him his cup of tea then sat down beside him with her feet tucked up under her, "How's Maggie today? Still got that cold?"

"Yeah," Niall nodded, "She's not any better but she's no worse either. Mum said these little colds with the sniffles and runny noses can go on awhile. She said she was always wiping mine or Greg's noses when we were kids so I just gotta ride it out I guess."

"Will she be able to fly over to Ireland on Christmas Eve? That's only five days away," Laura asked him.

"I think so, yeah. Her ears are fine. It's just the sniffles I think. Deo is watching her now. I told him to call me if anything changes. I just needed to get outside my flat for an hour," Niall says, staring down into his tea.

"About that..." Laura trailed off and Niall looked up at her with a frown on his face.

"What?"

"It's been a week now and I've let you be. Now it's time for me to have my say," Laura said, getting that look on her face that showed she meant business.

Niall groaned and reached out to put his tea down on the table, "Laura. I just wanted an hour with my friend to get away from everything."

Laura put her own tea down and tapped her hands on his thigh, "Well too bad. When you're acting stupid you don't get that."

Niall's mouth dropped open and he was about to protest when she held up a hand to stop him.

"No. Just listen to me. Now that you've had a week to cool down, can you really still tell me you think what happened to you is Harry's fault?"

Niall looked down at his hands, too ashamed to look up. The thing is, logically he knows it's not Harry's fault. Logic didn't help him when he saw Harry a few hours after it happened though. He was still in shock and beyond angry and all of that came out on Harry. Niall let him have it and it's been haunting him ever since. The look on Harry's face...he was disgusted with himself for putting it there, disgusted with himself for treating the man he loves like that, and disgusted with himself for pushing the man he loves away instead of letting him help him threw it and taking comfort in his arms.

"I'm going to take your silence as a no," Laura said softly, reaching out and taking one of Niall's hands in hers.

Niall finally looked up, one single tear falling down his cheek, "I don't blame him. It's not his fault paps are part of his job. If I'm being honest I was more angry with myself but I took it out on him. I was so wrong, Laura. So wrong."

Laura put an arm around his shoulders and soothingly rubbed her hand over his back, "Why were you angry at yourself, love? It wasn't your fault either."

Niall sniffled and looked down at his hands again, "I couldn't protect my daughter, Laura. I'm her father and she relies on me to take care of her. I didn't do that. I failed as a father."

"Niall," Laura grabbed both his shoulders and forced him to look at her, "You did not fail as a father. Do you hear me? You're a great father. You were surrounded by paps who were pushing and jostling each other to get a picture of you. You could barely stay on your feet because they kept bumping you. I've seen the video and do you know what? Maybe you don't remember it or realize it but when that stroller got jostled and went up on two wheels, it was you that kept it from going over. Your hands on the handle helped to get it back on four wheels. If you don't believe me we can watch the video but I don't think that's a good idea for you. My point is, what happened is nobody's fault but the paps who were too eager to get your photo."

Logically Niall knew she was right. However in his heart he felt like he failed his little girl and that hurt him more than words can say. Add to that the fact he behaved irrationally and broke up with the love of his life...yeah, Niall was feeling as low as he ever has in his life. Having friends like Laura helped but it would probably still take a little time before Niall forgave himself.

"Thank you for saying all that," Niall said, really and truly meaning it.

"But you're not going to forgive yourself just yet. I know the drill," Laura smiled sadly, "What about Harry?"

Niall sits back on the couch and gets comfortable again, picking up his tea from the table, "There's nothing to forgive. He didn't do anything wrong."

Laura picked up her own tea again and rolled her eyes at him, "I know that! That's not what I meant. I meant what are you going to do about him? Don't you think he deserves to know you don't blame him after all?"

Niall is quiet again for a long moment, gathering his thoughts before he speaks, "Yes...but it's not as simple as that. I can't- I can't just pick up the phone and pretend everything is okay. Even though I one hundred percent don't blame him, I'm still shaken up by what happened. I still see all those cameras in my face when I close my eyes. I wake up in the middle of the night feeling trapped and having a panic attack because I can't forget how it felt to be boxed in like that, even in my sleep. So as much as I want to just pick up the phone and beg him to forgive me for blaming him...I can't. I really just don't think I can deal with all that right now. I'm focused on getting through Christmas. Making sure it's a good one for Maggie and maybe even trying to enjoy myself with my family a tiny bit."

"Okay," Laura reached out to clasp Niall's hand in hers, "I understand. I won't push it. I just hate seeing you so miserable. I know you love and miss Harry a lot. Maybe...maybe after the New Year you might consider talking to someone about what happened? You could be suffering from PTSD. You went through a traumatic experience. Will you think about it at least?"

Niall isn't one for spilling his guts to strangers but he's not an idiot either. He realizes this is something bigger than him and he may not be able to handle it alone. If he's not feeling any better after the first of January he probably will seek help from a professional, "You could be right," Niall smiles and squeezes his friends hand, "I'll definitely think about it."

"Good!" Laura pats his leg then stands up to head back into the kitchen, "I'm going to make more tea then you're going to watch some Towie with me. I'm in the mood for something trashy."

Niall screwed up his face, "Does that show even still exist?"

"It does on my telly," Laura said delightedly, "Be right back, love!"

Niall shook his head and sat back to wait for Laura to come back. Maybe this is exactly what he needs to get his mind off of everything for an hour.


~~~


Three days later, Niall was getting ready to head to bed just after midnight when he noticed something off about Maggie. Her breathing wasn't quite right. It was rattling and she sounded like Niall's Nan who had been a heavy smoker for sixty years.

Fear immediately ripped through him as he lifted her out of her cot with shaking hands, "Hey, sweet one. What's going on with you, hmm?" He kissed her forehead, immediately feeling how warm she was against his lips, and right then and there made the decision to take her to the hospital. He wasn't messing with this. Maybe it had just been a cold but it certainly wasn't anymore and he wasn't about to take chances with his daughter's health.

"Alright, Mags. Let's get you dressed, yeah?" Niall made sure to keep his voice calm and a smile on his face. He didn't want to scare her. It was bad enough his hands were shaking. He needed to keep himself in control now. There was nobody else here since Deo had already left to spend Christmas with his Mum and Dad. So it was up to him alone to get Maggie to the hospital and he wasn't about to let her down.

After dressing her in a pair of joggers and a sweater, he got her coat and boots on and headed out to the door to grab his own coat. He was only dressed in a pair of joggers and a t-shirt that he normally wears to bed but he didn't care. He wasn't taking time to change. He'd shove his coat on, stick his feet into some trainers, then get Maggie in her car seat so they could go.

Once they were in the car the drive wasn't long but it felt like eternity to Niall. He had to stay focused and make sure he drove safely but his mind was racing out of control. His hands were still shaking and his chest felt tight but he kept steady breathing and every time he looked in the rear view mirror and saw Maggie still breathing, saw her eyes still opened- it was a huge relief that helped to keep Niall calm enough to make the drive.

When he got to the hospital he parked in the first spot he could find, not caring if it was an actual parking spot or not. He'd gladly pay any parking ticket or go collect his car after it's been towed if it meant his daughter got the help she needed to be well again.

Once he got the car seat out of his car, Niall jogged toward the main entrance of the A&E, in through the automatic doors and straight up to the first person he saw that looked like either a Doctor or a Nurse.

"My daughter," Niall was breathing heavy, partly from the jogging, partly from the panic, "She's only nine months old. She's having trouble breathing."

The woman, whose name tag said Evelyn, dropped the clipboard she was holding and came out from behind the counter. She unzipped Maggie's coat and briefly listened to her chest with her stethoscope before wrapping it back around her neck and looking at Niall, "My name is Evelyn. I'm a nurse here. What's your daughters name Sir?"

"Maggie. Her name is Maggie."

The nurse smiled down at Maggie before returning her gaze to Niall, "If you'll follow me we'll get Maggie back into an exam room and have a Doctor look at her right away. There's definitely something disturbing her breathing. Is she allergic to anything?"

"No," Niall shook his head as he walked beside the nurse through the doors leading into the main area of the A&E, "Not that I know of anyway. She's only nine months old and isn't really eating a whole lot of different foods yet."

"Okay. Here we are Mr...?"

"Oh. It's Niall. Niall Horan. Just Niall is fine."

"Okay, Niall. You can get Maggie out of her seat and take her coat off. The Doctor will be in right away," Evelyn assured him.

Niall did as the nurse said and sure enough a Doctor and another nurse walked into the room a minute later, "Hello," The male Doctor smiled at him, "I'm Dr. Collins. This is Julie. She'll be assisting me. Evelyn is bringing the necessary paperwork you need to fill out but in the meantime why don't we get started on examining your daughter Maggie, correct?"

"Yes. Yes. Maggie Horan. I'm Niall Horan. Her father," Niall stammered out, internally rolling his eyes at himself and telling himself to shut up. Of course he's her father! The Doctor already knew that. This was not the time for mindless babble.

The nurse, Julie, undresses Maggie down to her nappy and lays her on the exam table so the Doctor can examine her. Niall watches on, fear coursing through his veins and his heart practically beating out of his chest. He finds himself watching the nurse and Doctor, trying to decipher from their faces of something serious is going on or not but he can't tell anything. The nurse is busy playing with Maggie and distracting her while the Doctor checks her heart, her lungs, her ears and throat. He takes her temperature and even weighs her. Meanwhile Evelyn has come back with the forms Niall has to fill out but he hasn't even looked at them yet. He needs to know how Maggie is doing first.

"Well," Dr. Collins turns to face Niall again, "There's definitely a lot of crackling going on in her chest and some difficulty breathing. She's also developed a fever. You did the right thing bringing her in right away, Mr. Horan. We can get on top of this immediately. We'll need to run some tests. With your permission of course. Blood tests and x-rays."

"Yes. Yes, of course. Whatever needs to be done to help her. Is she very sick?" Niall asked, his voice trembling along with his hands now.

"That's what we're going to find out, Mr. Horan. I assure you we'll take great care of your daughter," Dr. Collins said, "Evelyn will show you to a waiting area where you can fill out those forms. I'll come find you there when I have some results."

Niall's eyes widen and he stammers when he speaks, "Wh-what? Why- why can't I go with her. I-I should go with her."

"I'm sorry, Mr. Horan," Dr. Collins looked at him sympathetically, "We can't allow you inside restricted areas. I understand how you're feeling, I really do. I have kids of my own at home. I assure you Maggie will be quite safe with us. As soon as we're done the tests we'll be bringing her to a room on the children's ward and you'll be able to stay with her then. Right now it's important we do these tests so we know what's going on so that we can start her on the right medicine."

Niall took a deep breath, struggling to hold back his tears. He didn't want to let Maggie out of his sight but he had to trust the doctor's and nurses. They knew what they were doing and he had to let them help her, "Okay. Just please help her get well. She's only nine months old."

"We will, Mr. Horan. She's in the best care. I promise you that," Dr. Collins assured him.

Niall nodded and walked over to the exam table where Maggie was with the Nurse. He kissed her cheek and forehead several times and told her how much he loves her, then she was being taken away for tests and Niall was being led to a waiting area by Evelyn who asked if he needed anything before she went back to her desk. Niall said no and watched her walk off, the forms he had to fill out gripped tightly in his hand.

For the next twenty minutes he filled everything out, having to stop every now and then to wipe tears from his eyes. When he was done he brought them to Evelyn then made his way back to the waiting room after stopping to get a coffee from one of those vending machines. It probably wasn't any good but Niall didn't care. He just needed something in his hands. Something to hold on to.

As he sat there alone, his thoughts wandered to Harry. Despite everything that had happened and everything he told Laura the other night, Harry is the one person Niall wanted here with him. Not only because Niall loved Harry and wanted Harry to hold him and tell him everything will be alright, but because Niall saw for himself on a daily basis how much Harry loves Maggie. He treated her like the most precious thing in his life everyday. He made her laugh, snuggled her, fed her, sang to her, read to her, just overall took care of her like he was her other parent. Niall felt like it was wrong that Harry wasn't here. Knew Harry would be devastated that something happened to Maggie and he didn't know about it.

It was those thoughts and the fact that Niall didn't want to go through this alone that made him take his phone out of his pocket and bring up Harry's name. With shaking hands he clicked on Harry's name and held the phone to his ear, listening to it ring on the other end. It was the middle of the night, almost one-thirty, so he expected the phone to ring more than a couple of times so when it didn't and Harry answered right away, Niall wasn't prepared.

"Niall? Are you okay?" Harry's voice filled his ear, making his breath hitch and his heart beat faster, "Niall? What's going on? Is something wrong? Why are you calling me in the middle of the night?"

Niall licked his lips and cleared his throat before he spoke, "Hi. Hey, Harry. I- I'm- um."

"Hi. Are you okay?" Harry asks again, his voice soft but anxious. He was clearly concerned and Niall hasn't even told him anything yet.

"I'm-" Niall took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. It didn't matter, though, his voice shook anyway, "I'm not," He whispered, "Harry, it's Maggie. She's- she's sick and I'm all alone and- and- "

"Where are you?" Harry asks immediately, a very serious tone to his voice.

"I'm at the hospital. She's had a cold for a few days but she was fine. Then tonight I noticed she was having trouble breathing so I- I brought her right away. The Doctor has brought her for tests. An x-ray of her lungs and some blood work. Harry," Niall's eyes started to fill with tears, "I'm scared. She's only nine months old."

"I'm coming," Harry said immediately, "Tell me where you are and I'll leave right now."

Niall felt relief flood through his body at Harry's words. He wouldn't be here alone anymore. Whatever he was about to face he'd have Harry here to face it with him, "Thank you," he whispered, as he heard Harry moving around, probably getting dressed, "I know it's late and you were probably sleeping."

"I wasn't sleeping. I was just laying here staring at the ceiling. I don't care how late it is. My girl is sick and you need me. There isn't anything in this world that would keep me from you both," Harry said sincerely, "Can you text me where you are as soon as we hang up? It'll take me a few hours to get there because I'm in Holmes Chapel but I'll be there as soon as I can."

"Harry. You're home for Christmas? I can't- you can't leave your Mum right now. I-"

"Christmas is the last thing I care about right now. I need to be there for you and Maggie. I'm heading out to my car now. Text me the address okay? I'll be there. I promise," Harry said.

"Okay," Niall wiped tears from his cheeks again, "Okay I will. Be careful driving please. I couldn't handle it if something happened to you too. Please, Harry. Don't drive too fast. I need you to get here in one piece."

"I'll be careful, Ni, I promise. See you soon, yeah? Call me if anything happens. Or if you need me. I've got Bluetooth."

"I will. I'll see you soon," Niall said then ended the car and texted Harry the address. Now all he could do is wait. Wait for news on Maggie and wait for Harry.


~~~


The drive to London only took a few hours but it felt like a few days to Harry. He only made one stop because he had no choice- he needed petrol since he had less than half a tank left in his car. While he was waiting for his car to fill up he decided to grab a coffee as well. He didn't think he'd have any problems keeping awake with all the adrenaline running through his system but he got it just to be safe.

Now, as he pulled up to the hospital and found a place to park, the sun wasn't even up yet and it was almost seven in the morning. One of the many reasons to hate winter. Once he found a place to park, he rushed inside and followed the signs to the children's ward. On the main floor before he got into the lift there was a gift shop and he stopped in quickly to grab something for Maggie. He ended up buying a stuffed toy- a reindeer to be exact, since it was Christmas after all, then he got into the lift and headed up to the fifth floor.

The ride on the lift felt like it took forever but he finally got there and took out his phone to check the second text Niall had sent him. In it was Maggie's room number so he wouldn't have to stop at the nurses station to find out. He turned right down the hallway once he had the number and when he came to Maggie's room his heart was beating out of his chest and he could feel sweat break out on his forehead and hands. So much was happening right now and he was both nervous and terrified. Nervous because he was seeing Niall for the first time since the older man had broken up with him. Terrified because he loved Maggie with all his heart and wanted more than anything for her to be okay. That little girl and her father were his heart and he would do anything, give up anything, just for them both to be healthy and happy and to live an amazing life- even if that meant he wasn't a part of it.

Taking a deep breath, he wiped his hands on his jeans and pushed the door open, walking into a beautifully painted children's room with bright colours and a rainbow covering one full wall. It was amazing and just what any child needs to help them get well. Niall was sitting beside a cot that had one side pushed down to give him complete access to Maggie. The little girl seemed to be fast asleep while hooked up to an IV and a tiny oxygen mask. It broke Harry's heart to see her like this but he held back his tears, vowing to be strong for Niall and Maggie.

The door closed behind him and that got Niall's attention. He turned around and the moment their eyes met, Niall's face just crumbled and he started to cry, his shoulders shaking and his hand over his mouth. He stood up and Harry wasted no time striding across the room and gathering him up in his arms.

"I'm here," He whispered in Niall's ear, squeezing him tight to his chest and kissing his temple, "I'm right here and I won't leave you. Not for a minute. You're not alone anymore. You'll never be alone no matter what."

Niall buried his face in Harry's shirt and held on to him just as tight, his hands in fists and gripping Harry's coat as if he was holding on for dear life. His body was still shaking as he cried and it broke Harry's heart but he kept holding on and letting him cry. Fear gripped his chest because he didn't know if Niall was crying like this because he got bad news about Maggie or if he was just overwhelmed and so relieved to have a familiar face around. Relieved to no longer be alone. He wanted desperately to ask Niall what was happening but he kept his mouth shut and just let Niall get it all out, sensing that the Irishman really needed it.

"God, Harry," Niall eventually spoke when his cried slowed down to sniffles, "I'm so glad you're here. I've never needed anyone as much as I need you right now and you came, even though I don't deserve it."

"Whoa," Harry stepped back and held Niall at arms length, bending his knees a bit so he could look Niall in the face, "What are you saying? Why don't you deserve it?"

Niall closed his eyes, shaking his head like he was disappointed in himself. The tear stains were still glistening on his face and his nose was all red but to Harry he was still the most beautiful man he's ever seen, "I-I treated you so badly, Harry. I sent you away. What I did was unforgivable and-"

"Hey, hey, hey," Harry stopped him, "Shhhh. None of that, okay? Nothing you did was unforgivable I promise you but let's not worry about that now, yeah? Let's just focus on our girl, Maggie and we'll talk about everything else later. All you need to know is I'm not going anywhere unless you tell me too. I'll be right here."

Niall sniffled and nodded his head, "Yeah, okay. Thank you so much for coming. Most everyone I know has already left London for Christmas. My cousin's, my Mum, Laura. I'm going to call them later and let them know what's happening but...it just feels so good to not be alone anymore."

Harry smiled at him and squeezed his shoulders before letting go of him, "How is she? Have the doctor's spoken to you yet?"

"Yeah," Niall nodded and wiped at his cheeks with his hands, "I'm just going to go to the toilet and wash my face. Can you stay with Maggie while I'm gone? Then I'll fill you in when I get back."

"Of course. Take your time, get coffee if you want. I won't leave her side, I promise," Harry told Niall, "Is it alright to touch her?"

"Yeah," Niall said, walking back over to the cot and leaning down to kiss Maggie's forehead, "You just gotta wash your hands in that sink over there first."

"Right," Harry nodded and took off his jacket, draping it over a chair, "I'll do that now. You go on and clean up. I'll be here."

"Thank you," Niall gave him a small smile then he left the room to go to the toilet to clean up.

Harry went over to the sink and thoroughly washed his hands then he took a seat in the chair Niall was using, leaning over to kiss Maggie's forehead. He picked up one of her tiny hands in his and held it to his cheek, just needing to feel her skin warm against his. She was sick but she was still very much alive and he needed to keep reminding himself of that because if he didn't he was going to break down right here, right now, and he didn't want that. He wanted to be strong for her and Niall.

"Hi, precious girl," Harry said softly, removing her hand from his cheek and holding it between both of his instead and bringing it to his lips for a kiss, "It's Harry. I know you're feeling poorly but you're still the most beautiful girl I've ever seen. So pretty," Harry smiled and reached out to run his hand over her hair, "I'm sorry I haven't been around. I thought about you everyday, though, and I missed you so much. I picked up a little stuffed toy for you to cuddle with when you wake up. It's a reindeer. Maybe we'll call him Rudy after Rudolph. We'll ask your daddy his opinion when he gets back."

Harry sat quietly for the next few minutes, holding her hand and just watching her sleep. She looked peaceful and like she wasn't in any pain or anything so that was good at least. He picked up her hand and kissed it again, this time leaving her hand against his cheek while he spoke, "I love you so much, Maggie. I know you're only young but I hope you know that. I hope you sense it somehow. I've been growing crazy the past two weeks without you and your Dad. I keep watching that stupid video where you almost got hurt and I feel so awful. I hate that you and your Dad were put on that situation simply because you know me. I'm so sorry, Maggie, so incredibly sorry. I'll never forgive myself."

"Harry." Niall's voice startled him from the doorway and he spun around, quickly wiping a few tears from his face that had fallen.

"Hey," Harry tried to smile but he doesn't know how successful he was, "You're looking better. I see you got coffee. Good. I'm sure you've been awake all night."

Niall stared at him for a minute, his blue eyes seemingly peering right into his soul. It made Harry squirm a bit. He hated not knowing what Niall was thinking, "I got you one, too, and some muffins. Figured we should probably eat."

"Right," Harry stood up and walked over to the couch in the room where Niall was. He picked up his coffee from the table and held it in both hands as he sat down, "Eating is good. Especially for you. Need to keep your strength up for Maggie."

Niall nodded and took a long drink from his coffee before turning to Harry, "Harry. We need to talk. I know you said we didn't need to talk now, that we should focus on Maggie, but she's asleep and there's nothing we can do right now but wait so I think we should talk. I- I heard a bit of what you were saying just now."

Harry looked down at his hands, embarrassed that Niall had heard that. He didn't want Niall to have to talk about that experience or even hear about it. Harry certainly didn't want to talk about it. He just wanted to know what was going on with Maggie, "Niall," Harry cleared his throat, "I'm not trying to be rude here but...I'd really like to hear about Maggie? Is she going to be okay?"

Niall's eyes widened and he gasped, "Fuck! I'm so sorry, Harry. Shit. I was supposed to fill you in when I came back from the toilet. God."

"It's okay," Harry shrugs, "What did the doctor say?"

Niall seems to take in a deep breath and lets it out slowly, "Okay, so, she has what's called RSV. The Doctor explained everything to me and I asked as many questions as I could think of but I still googled it anyway," Niall took out his phone and unlocked it, "Respiratory Syncytial Virus is the official name."

Harry frowned at Niall, "I think I've heard of that. Isn't that really bad?"

"It can be," Niall nodded, "It's a virus that affects the respiratory tract of most children before they reach the age of two. Apparently it usually only causes a cold which is what Maggie seemed to have. It usually only gets worse in babies who are premature or have some other condition like heart or lung disease. Maggie is a healthy baby so I asked why it got worse for her. Dr. Collins told me she was just unlucky and caught another virus at the same time."

Harry looked at Niall anxiously, "But she'll be alright? What are they doing for her?"

Niall smiled at Harry and reached over to take his hand. Harry held on and didn't question it. He'd take anything Niall was willing to give, "Yeah, H, she's going to be okay. She's on IV fluids and oxygen. She's also getting antibiotics for the infection in her lungs. She has to stay here for a few days so they can make sure she's okay but they don't expect any complications."

"Oh thank God," Harry's body flooded with relief and he ended up lunging at Niall and pulling him into a hug, "Oh my God. I was so scared. The whole drive here all I could think about was something really bad happening to her and me not getting here in time to see her."

"I know," Niall hugged him back and tucked his face into Harry's neck, "Believe me I know. I thought up every worst case scenario while I was sitting out there waiting for news. It was awful but she's going to be okay, H. That's all that matters now."

"Yeah," Harry sniffled and wiped at his nose with his sleeve, "I'm so sorry I wasn't closer. I'm so sorry you had to sit here alone. I- I should have been here. I just- after you- I mean after everything that happened I just took off to my Mum's house."

"Harry," Niall pulls back and looks into his eyes, "You don't have to apologize for going to be with your Mum for Christmas. You don't have to apologize at all. I know you don't want to talk about this but there's something I need to say so please just listen okay?"

Harry nodded, already biting into his lip as he waited to hear what Niall was going to say.

Niall took a deep breath and continued to look Harry in the eye while he spoke, "I owe you an apology. What happened with those paps...it wasn't your fault and I want you to know- no I *need* you to know- I don't blame you at all. I don't and I never did. Not for a second. When I screamed at you and told you it was all your fault, I did that because I was still reeling from what happened and because I was angry at myself. I blamed myself for not being able to protect my daughter and I took it out on you. For that I'm truly sorry. I'm so sorry, Harry."

Harry didn't know if he could handle this right now. His emotions were already raw from two weeks of crying and wandering around his Mum's house missing Niall and Maggie. Now with Maggie being sick his emotions were beyond all over the place and adding Niall telling him he doesn't blame him for what happened just...God it put him over the edge. He could feel it happening. Sitting here, staring into Niall's gorgeous blue eyes while he looks so sincere is more than Harry can handle and before he can stop it he's hiding his face in his hands and crying.

Not even ten seconds later, Harry feels Niall's fingers circling his wrists and gently pulling his hands away from his face, "Come here," he whispered, and pulled Harry into his arms, letting him cry against his chest. Harry held on to him, breathing him in while he cried. He missed him so much since they broke up. Missed his smell, his voice, the way he felt when they hugged. He missed everything about him and it was a relief to me in his arms again- even if it's only for today.

"Sorry. I'm sorry," Harry murmured when he finally pulled away and wiped at his eyes, "I just- I've been watching the video of the paps swarming you, over and over again. I can't seem to make myself stop. I've been hating myself for putting you in that situation. I feel like I should have done something to protect you."

"But what could you have done, Harry? You weren't even there. None of this is your fault and it kills me that you hate yourself for it. It kills me that you blame yourself. I understand it, though, because I blame myself too. I think- I think maybe we should both work on forgiving ourselves. I don't think it'll be easy but I'm willing to try if- if you will too?" Niall says softly, his voice tentative.

Harry laughed a little through his tears and continued to wipe at his face, "I think I could try, yeah. Especially knowing that you seem to have forgiven me."

"There was nothing to forgive," Niall reached up and cupped Harry's cheek in his hand, "Do you forgive me for yelling at you and blaming you?"

Harry shrugged and gave Niall a small smile, "There was nothing to forgive as far as I'm concerned."

Niall smiled at him, a real smile, and Harry felt his chest loosen a little bit. Maybe everything will be okay after all?

 

~~~


Niall had just finished on the phone with his Dad when Harry walked back into Maggie's room with fresh coffee and some lunch for them, "Thank you," Niall mumbled as he took the bag and practically ripped into it for a sandwich. Now that he knew Maggie was going to be okay he was feeling a bit better and his appetite was coming back. He was absolutely starved.

"I'm glad to see you feeling more like yourself," Harry chuckled as he sat down on the couch and carefully opened his own sandwich, "How did the phone calls go?"

Niall grunted and picked up his coffee to wash down the food in his mouth. He licked some mayo off his fingers before turning to Harry, "Like I expected. Mum and Laura freaked out. Dad was calmer and actually listened to me when I told him not to try getting tickets to fly over here two days before Christmas. There won't be any seats available on any flight I don't imagine. I explained I wouldn't be home for Christmas as planned and he was okay with that. He said the important thing is getting Maggie well and he hopes I'll be able to get over after New Years before we go on tour again...um assuming I still have a job?"

Niall watched with wide eyes as Harry choked on his sandwich and had to take a long drink of the bottle of water he left on the table, "Of course-" He stops to cough a few times, "Of course you still have a job. I would never fire you just because we're...um, not together anymore. Besides the fact you could sue me for firing you without cause, I would never do that anyway."

Niall nodded and looked Harry in the eye, "Thank you. That means a lot to me. I need a job in order to take care of Maggie."

"Well you'll always have one with me. No matter what happens," Harry promised and Niall believed him. "What about your Mum and Laura? Are they still going to try to get back to London?"

Niall sighed and balled the plastic wrap from his sandwich up in his hand, tucking it away in the paper take out bag, "I don't know. I told them not too. Maggie is okay, she just needs a few days in the hospital to rest but," Niall shrugged, "Mum is a stubborn Irish woman. She'd probably try to swim here. Laura, I think, will listen once she calms down."

Harry was silent for a bit, doing that thing he does where he plays with his lip between his two fingers. He's contemplating something and Niall knows he just needs to wait it out.

"You know," Harry begins slowly, looking down at his lap instead of at Niall, "I can understand your Mum wanting to get here to see for herself how Maggie is doing. It's her granddaughter. I know how frantic I was when you called me and even though I've seen her and I've heard the doctor say she'll be okay, I still don't want to leave her side until she gets released from here. I bet your Mum feels the same way so...um if- if you'll let me I could make some calls and arrange a flight for her."

Niall is already shaking his head before Harry finishes, "Absolutely not. No way. I love that you're willing to do anything to help but that would be too much. I can't let you do that, Harry. Mum would never accept it anyway."

"Are you sure?" Harry asked with a raised eyebrow, "She might surprise you. She's probably driving herself crazy over in Ireland, wishing she was here. Maybe we could ask her and let it be her decision? That way it's not you accepting anything from me."

Niall opened his mouth to protest but found he had nothing to say. He knew Harry was right. His Mum was probably worrying herself sick over in Ireland. She already cried on the phone and that broke Niall's heart. He sighed and looked over at Harry, shaking his head, "Sometimes I hate it when you're right. Go on then. Do your thing."

Harry beamed at him. Absolutely, positively beamed and all Niall could do is smile back at him, shaking his head at this beautiful, kind hearted man.

"I talked to my Mum while I went to get lunch," Harry said as he took out his phone and started texting someone, "She and Gem are on there way here. I told her she didn't have to come but she insisted. They packed up all the presents and they're going to set up Christmas at my house apparently. You're more than welcome by the way. Mum is going to cook so if your Mum agrees to let me help her get here, she could stay with Maggie for a few hours so you and I can go have dinner."

Niall felt his eyes stinging with tears and looked down at his clasped fingers, "That...sounds really nice, Harry. It's so amazing of your Mum to do that for you so you can all still have Christmas together. I'm grateful to be invited."

"Hey," Harry stopped texting and reached out a hand, resting it on Niall's knee, "She didn't only do it for me you know. I mean, she knew there was no way I'd leave Maggie. As long as you allow me to be here I'm going to be here but she wanted to do it for you, too. She loves you and thinks of you as a son. She wants to take care of you and make this hard time as easy for you as possible."

Niall cleared his throat and tried to will the tears out of his eyes. It wasn't working much and he laughed at himself as he lifted a hand to wipe at his eyes, "Well. Your Mum and sister mean a lot to me too. I'll be sure to thank them for everything."

A noise came from the cot and both Niall and Harry turned to look, "Looks like Miss Maggie is waking up again," Harry smiled, "Give her a kiss from me. I'll be over in a minute. I'm going to get a plane arranged for your Mum first."

Niall laughed and stood up to go tend to his daughter while in his head he kept wondering where things stood with Harry now? Could they get back together just like that? Would Harry even want that after the way Niall treated him? And did Niall have the guts to sit on his pride and find out?


~~~


Harry sat in the chair next to Maggie's cot later that night, holding her in his arms and singing to her softly. Her eyes were sort of opened but she was starting to drift back off, the virus that she has pretty much zapping her energy and making her sleep all the time. Harry didn't like that much- he wanted to see her pretty blue eyes and hear her cute giggle. He was okay, though, because she was getting the medicine she needed and the rest she needed and soon she'd be back to her normal self again. Harry just hoped he was in her life to see it. He had to find the right time to talk to Niall about all that.

Sighing, Harry ran his finger over Maggie's soft, chubby cheek. There was so much to talk about, so much to figure out. Harry had no doubt about what he wanted. He wanted Niall back. He wanted Maggie back. He wanted to build a life with them and take care of them even though Niall didn't need taking care of. He wanted to be a father to Maggie. Yeah, he said it, he wants to be her father. He wants to help Niall raise her and there's nothing wrong with that damn it! He just needed to find out if Niall still wanted the same thing.

Maggie was fast asleep again but Harry didn't want to let her go just yet so he kept her in his arms and stared down at her for awhile, content to just watch her sleep. This must be how Niall feels all the time, holding his daughter in his arms and watching her sleep. Content and full of love.

"How's it going in here?" Niall's voice sounded softly from the doorway.

Harry looked up and toward the door, his breath catching in his throat. He had convinced Niall to go home for an hour to at least shower and get a change of clothes and now the older man is back, looking soft and cuddly at this late hour. His brown hair was obviously left to dry on its own and is sticking up a bit on his head, little curls everywhere. He's wearing a loose pair of grey joggers, tied at the waist, and an oversized navy jumper that swallowed his hands. It only takes a second for Harry to realize that it's his jumper. His jumper that Niall must have taken when they were on tour. He was looking all soft wearing Harry's jumper. How the fuck is Harry supposed to deal with that? How? When all he wants right now is to get up and throw his arms around Niall and never let him go.

"It's um-" Harry had to look away and clear his throat, "It's going good. She was awake for a few minutes. The nurse said she's doing fine. I sang to her a bit. Now she's sleeping again."

The smile on Niall's face was fond, so very fond, as he laid his bag on the floor and walked over, leaning in to kiss Maggie's forehead. He smelled like soap and shampoo and Niall. Harry closed his eyes for a moment and just breathed him in, not taking for granted even a minute with him because he didn't know when he'd see him again after this.

"Thank you for staying with her for a bit," Niall says when he stands back up, "I took a long shower. It was good. My whole body was aching a bit from lack of sleep and sitting in that chair all last night. I really needed that break and I could only take it because I trust you one hundred percent with Maggie."

Harry looked up at him, tears stinging his eyes again, "Really?"

"Of course!" Niall looked at him funny, "You know I do. That's nothing new."

Harry looked away and nodded, "I know. I guess I'm just being silly. Emotions all over the place and all that."

"Not surprising. You haven't slept since God knows when," Niall said, smiling at him, "I went to your house before I came back here. I saw your Mum and Gemma for a minute. Your Mum already had a bag of fresh clothes packed for you. She said I'd never be able to convince you to go home tonight. I told her I already knew that. That's why I was there in the first place, to get you clothes. I guess your Mum and I think alike."

God. Why couldn't Harry control himself? More and more tears kept building up in his eyes and he couldn't hold them back anymore. A few slipped out onto his cheeks and he moved to put Maggie back in her cot, making sure she was comfortable before standing up and wiping at his cheeks. He headed toward the door, clearing his throat as he went, "I'm uh- I'm going to go um- go get some fresh air and change my clothes. Call me if you need me."

Harry picked the bag up off the floor that Niall brought and walked quickly out of the room, ignoring Niall calling out to him. He just needed to be alone for a bit. Get his emotions in check.

When he returned an hour later, the lights were dimmed and Niall was curled up asleep in the corner of the couch. Harry smiled and covered him with a blanket, not able to resist leaning down to press a gentle kiss to his forehead. After he checked on Maggie and once he saw she was okay he sat down on the other side of the couch, stretching his legs out in front of him. He was so exhausted he fell asleep in seconds.


~~~

 

Niall doesn't know how Harry did it, and he definitely doesn't want to know how much it cost, but he really did it- he got Niall's Mum here from Ireland. After some texting and phone calls made yesterday, a plane arrived in Dublin on Christmas Eve morning and Niall's Mum arrived in London at lunch time, coming straight to the hospital.

As much as Niall was against Harry doing this at first, he can't say he's not relieved to have his Mum around. Everything is always better when your Mum comes to take care of you, no matter how old you are.

Niall and Harry spent a couple of hours with Niall's Mum at the hospital then she kicked them both out, telling them she spoke to Anne herself and that Anne and Gemma somehow got Harry's house set up for Christmas in a day. Anne was going to cook a big dinner for them all so Niall's Mum promised the, she'd take good care of her granddaughter and told them to go back to Harry's house and have dinner and a few hours of rest.

In the end Niall agreed to leave. He knew his daughter was in good hands with his Mum and he wasn't going to lie- he really did need a good meal and a long nap in an actual bed. His back and neck were killing him from sleeping in a chair or on the couch in Maggie's room. He can't even imagine how Harry must be feeling. When Niall woke up that morning, Harry's long body was contorted in an odd way on the couch that made Niall want to cry. Not just because he must have been so uncomfortable but because he was doing all this for Niall and Maggie. Niall loved him so much it hurt and he was so angry at himself for messing it all up. So fucking angry but determined to fix it.

Which is why he finds himself standing outside of Harry's bedroom at Harry's house, taking a deep breath before knocking. They arrived a little while ago and talked with Anne and Gemma for a bit, then Anne encouraged them to get some rest and she'd call them down when dinner is ready. Harry had showed Niall to a guest room where he could rest and take a shower, but it was all wrong to Niall. He should be with Harry in Harry's room. They should be napping together and showering together. So Niall left the guest room not two minutes after he entered it and went straight to Harry's door, knocking and waiting for him to answer.

"Hey," Harry opened the door, still in his jeans and t-shirt but in his bare feet now. He smiled and Niall just wanted to melt into his arms and know that Harry was his again and nobody else's, "Did you need something? Are there no towels in the bathroom? Gemma said she put them in there."

Niall cleared his throat and shook his head, "No, I-I don't know actually. I haven't gone in there. I just- can I come in? I really need to talk to you."

Harry's smile faded a little and he stepped back so Niall could come in. He closed the door behind Niall and turned to face him with his hands in his jeans pockets, "Is everything okay? Is something wrong with Maggie? Did your Mum call?"

"Oh God no!" Niall assured Harry when he saw the panicked look on Harry's face, "Everything is fine with Maggie. Mum hasn't called. This is about- about us. Me and you."

"Oh," Harry licked his lips and ran a hand through his hair. He looked a bit nervous. Niall hoped that wasn't a bad sign. Like Harry knew what was coming and was nervous about how to let him down gently, "Um. Let's sit down then."

Harry had a fire place in his bedroom with a small sitting area in front of it. It was beautiful and cozy. He can picture them in Harry's huge bed, the fire going across from them while they're making love. It's something Niall wants so badly he feels like he could cry right this second. Mostly he just wants Harry back. The beautiful man who loves and adores him and Maggie. The beautiful man Niall will never take for granted ever again if he agrees to take him back.

Niall sits down on the small couch in front of the fire place while Harry sits in an armchair with his hands on his knees. Harry looks at him and says, "So..."

"Right," Niall takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly, "You know, I was talking to Laura not that long ago. Probably only a week ago and she asked me if I thought you deserved to know I don't actually blame you for the pap incident even though I told you I did. I told her that yes, you deserved to know but it wasn't that easy. I felt like I wasn't ready to talk to you or see you because I was afraid it would just remind me of what happened. I was still struggling with nightmares and waking up feeling panicked and closed in. I kept reliving what happened and I thought seeing you would make it worse. Then..."

Harry looks at him, sadness in his green eyes as they bore into Niall's own blue ones, "Then?" He prompted gently.

"Then...Maggie got sick and- " Niall's voice caught in his throat and tears stung his eyes, "- and I was alone and scared and all I wanted, all I needed was you. I called you and you came right away. No questions asked. It didn't matter how I treated you or that I had broken up with you two weeks beforehand. You came and- and the moment you walked into that hospital room and I saw you and you held me I just- I felt nothing but relief, comfort, love. I felt safe and not alone. I didn't think about the paps or what happened. You were just the man I love and I've been wondering how I could just let you go like I did? It was the worst mistake of my life, Harry, and I- Christ I'm a proud man I know but I don't care right now. I'm not too proud to ask you if you think we can have another chance? Because I miss you and I'm just as in love with you as I was before the pap incident. I think I'm more in love with you and...I just want another chance. To make it up to you. I'll treat you right this time I promise."


Tears were streaming down Harry's face but he was laughing when he practically threw his large body full of long, clumsy limbs onto the couch with Niall and grabbed Niall's face between his two hands, "You're so stupid!"

"Um..." That's not exactly what Niall was expecting but it seems to be a good thing?

"So, so, stupid," Harry whispers, then he's kissing Niall, his lips soft and sure. Niall kisses back, winding his arms around Harry's neck and pulling him close. There's no tongue involved, just soft kisses, and when Harry pulls back to smile at him, Niall licks his lips and can taste Harry's tears, "So stupid."

"Okay! You've said that already! I'm stupid!" Niall laughed, "Can you say something else please? Don't leave me hanging here!"

Harry leaned in to kiss him again, his top lip slotting between Niall's lips and his teeth gently tugging on Niall's bottom lip, "I love you. So much. How's that for something else?"

Niall's stomach swooped and he grinned, pecking Harry's lips again. Now that he seems to be allowed to do it again he doesn't want to stop, "That's a very good start I think."

Harry giggled and hid his face against Niall's neck for a moment. When he lifted it again he looked more serious, his eyes searching Niall's, "Seriously, though, I love you so much. I've been miserable without you, hiding out at Mum's house moping around. I can't sleep at night because my heart aches for you, my arms ache to hold Maggie. So yeah, you're stupid if you think I don't want you back because I do. I want you so much. Everyday. I've missed you, baby."

"Oh God, Harry," Niall sobbed and clung to Harry, their chests pressed tight together as they hugged. Harry kissed his cheek and temple over and over again and Niall never felt anything so wonderful, "Thank you. Oh God, thank you. I'm so sorry I was so stupid."

Harry pulled back from the hug and kissed him again. Kissed the tears from his cheeks, kissed the corner of his mouth, then kissed his lips again and again and again, "You weren't, baby. You weren't. You went through something horrible. You were scared and traumatized. You just needed some time. I understand. I do. I'm so sorry that happened to you. I want you to know that from now on I'll do everything in my power to keep you safe. We're gonna- I'm not going to let that happen again. Please trust me on that?"

"I do," Niall nodded and sniffled, "I do trust you. More than anyone."

"Good. And for the record you don't have anything to make up to me. You didn't do anything wrong. What happened to you was crazy and I don't know why it did. Maybe because we were on tour when we announced we were a couple and it's the first time the paps really got to see you alone, the man they're saying I came out for and all that. I don't know why they were so crazy and surrounding you but you had every right to react the way you did. You were so scared and I'm going to do my best to make sure you're never that scared again. You and Maggie are my life do you hear me? My life. I love you both so much," Harry said emphatically.

"I love you, too, H," Niall whispered against Harry's lips, "Thank you for taking me back and thank you for being there for me and Maggie the past couple of days. I couldn't imagine being at the hospital without you. You're like- you're like her other parent you know? I don't know if it's too early to say that or if it freaks you out but it's how I feel and- "

Harry pressed his lips to Niall's and whispered, "Shhhh. It doesn't freak me out. I feel the same way. God knows I love her like she's my own."

"I know you do. I know," Niall cupped Harry's cheek with his hand and leaned in to kiss him again. This time the kiss grew deeper with Niall slipping his tongue past Harry's lips and curling it around his. Harry let out a little whimper and tightened his arms around Niall, his tongue meeting Niall's stroke for stroke. When Harry fell back on the couch, Niall went with him, laying on top of his boyfriend while they snogged and held each other close. It was perfect and so intimate. Niall couldn't love him anymore than he does right this minute.

When they finally break the kiss they stay the way they are, Harry laying on his back and Niall laying on top of him. They stay that way for a long time, not talking, just cuddling and kissing occasionally. When they finally have to get up it's because Harry has to pee and while he's gone, Niall sits on the couch looking around the room, his eyes going wide when he spots a guitar case on the floor, the cover open and a guitar he's only seen once before in there.

"So. Did you want to shower and maybe try and sleep a bit before dinner?" Harry asks when he walks out of the bathroom.

Niall doesn't answer him. He's still looking at the guitar case, "Harry? What did you do?"

"What do you mean?" Harry looked confused until he followed Niall's gaze and his eyes went wide, "Oh shit! Shit! I forgot that was in here!"

Niall looked at him, mouth agape, "You didn't?"

"Well," Harry looks a little nervous, "That depends. What do you think I did?"

"I think," Niall stands up and walks around the couch to stand in front of Harry, "That you bought me that guitar that I saw and was gushing about. The one that costs thousands and thousands of dollars."

"Okay. Just- don't freak out. Hear me out please!" Harry says quickly, his hands in the air. Niall stays quiet so Harry continues, "I got it for you for Christmas. Before you broke up with me. I remembered you saw it when you were watching videos on Twitter of that new Australian band you like. The lead singer has one and you fell in love with it. I wanted you to have one because you deserve it and because I love you and it makes me really, really happy to be able to do things like this for the people I love. You can ask my Mum and Gemma. They had to get used to it and they did because they saw how important it was to me. So like, I'm hoping you will too? And not beat me up?"

Niall laughs loudly and reaching out to pull Harry in close to him, circling his arms around Harry's waist and looking up into his eyes, "Beat you up! Ya bloody fool!" Niall laughs again. He was so endeared by this man. So fucking endeared, "Thank you, baby. I'm in shock a bit but I love it. As long as you know I'm not with you because of your money and because you get me gifts like this."

"Of course I know that. I know you'd be happy with a present that cost a couple pounds or nothing at all. I know you. You never have to worry that I'll question your motives," Harry says sincerely, "I simply like to buy the people I love things that they love but maybe can't afford on their own. I have all this money that I'll never spend in my lifetime. I want to spend some of it on my loved ones."

Niall nodded, biting down on his lip as he thought about the fact he had nothing here for Harry, "I have something for you, too, but I obviously don't have it here. It's at home."

"That's okay," Harry shrugged, "I have you back and Maggie is going to be okay. This is already the best Christmas of my life."

"Mine too," Niall smiled happily at Harry, "Fuck. I can't believe that gorgeous guitar is mine. Can I...?" Niall let go of Harry and gestured toward the guitar.

"Yes! Of course! Go get it," Harry said, laughing when Niall ran across the room like a child.

"Jesus," Niall whispered in awe as he took the guitar out of its case. He brought it over to the couch and sat down with it on his lap, his hands lovingly running over the dark red and black body of the guitar. Next he ran his fingers up over the fretboard and strings, picking at them even though it sounded odd when it wasn't plugged in. Lastly he ran his fingers over the head and tuners, barely able to wait until he can get her plugged in and tuned, "This is...wow. I can't wait to play her. Get her tuned up and broke in a bit."

"Well I can't wait to listen," Harry stands proudly in front of him, a huge grin on his face, "You look good with it."

"Thanks," Niall grinned back at him, "I don't know how you expect me to take a nap after this."

Harry looked down at his feet and shrugged, "There are other ways we can relax. Like...in a nice, hot, bath. I've got a huge tub in my en suite and I don't know about you but my back is killing me."

Niall got up and carefully put the guitar back in its case before turning back to Harry. He held his hand out and Harry took it with a smile on his face, "Lead the way, Mr. Styles."


~~~


Maggie was released from the hospital on the twenty-seventh of December after much improvement. Harry and his Mum are with him when he takes her home and after she helps them get settled in and makes sure Niall is okay with the instructions from the Doctor, his Mum leaves for her flight back to Dublin to meet up with her husband.

"I can't believe she's home," Niall says to Harry as they quietly leave Maggie's room after putting her to sleep in her cot, "Thank God. I hope I never see another hospital again."

Harry wraps an arm around his waist and pulls him close while they walk out to the living room. They sit down on the couch- Niall sprawled across Harry's lap- and Harry holds him close, the sound of their breathing the only sound in the room for awhile.

"Niall?" Harry murmurs eventually.

"Yes Petal?" Niall turns his head enough to peck Harry's lips.

A huge grin spreads across Harry's face and he lights up like the sun. Niall loves him so much, "Petal. I love that you started calling me that. Makes me all fuzzy and warm inside."

Niall throws his head back and laughs, "Well then Petal, what were you going to say?"

Harry actually blushes a little and tucks his face away against Niall's neck, "I wanted to ask you if you minded if I decorated a room in my house for Maggie? The guest room across from mine that faces the back garden and catches the sun in the morning. We're here in London now until my arena tour starts in March and I'd love it if you and Maggie stayed over sometimes."

Niall smiled and curled his fingers up into Harry's hair on the back of his head, "Okay. I think that would be nice yeah."

"Really??" Harry lifted his head up so fast he nearly smacked it against Niall's chin, "You don't mind?"

Niall laughed and leaned in to kiss Harry softly a few times, "I really don't mind. I think it's really sweet and it's your house so I'm not going to tell you what you can and can't do."

"Wow," Harry looked impressed, "You're really getting better with me spending money on you and Maggie. I like it!"

"Now now!" Niall dug his fingers into Harry's ribs and tickled him, making Harry squeal and squirm around, "Don't you go too crazy or I won't be okay with it anymore."

The smile on Harry's face is big and he's laughing his loud, uninhibited laugh, the one he sometimes refers to as his ugly laugh. Niall vehemently disagrees. It's his favourite Harry laugh and he wants to make Harry laugh like that always.

Suddenly, Niall remembers something and he gets up from Harry's lap, kissing the frown off his boyfriends face and telling him he'll be right back. He heads into his bedroom and takes a bag from the closet, smiling when he looks at what's in there. It's his Christmas present to Harry. He's finally going to get the chance to give it to him.

When he gets back to the living room, Harry is sitting on the couch with his legs sprawled out. Niall laughs and hands him the bag, sitting down on the coffee table to watch Harry open it.

"What's this?" Harry asked, a small smile on his face.

"Your Christmas present. It's not wrapped or anything because, well you know everything happened with the paps and then I didn't think I'd ever get to give it to you. It's also not thousands of pounds like a guitar but it means a lot to me and I hope it means a lot to you, too," Niall says, feeling a little shy all of a sudden.

"Hey," Harry's voice is soft as he reaches out for Niall's hand, "Whatever it is you know I'll love it because it came from you. I don't care if it cost nothing."

Niall smiled and nodded his head at the bag, "Go on then. Have a peek at what's inside."

Harry grins and opens the bag, pulling out the pictures in the antique rose gold coloured frames. Niall watches as Harry's eyes widen and his mouth drops open in shock, his long fingers delicately running over the frames, "Niall," He whispers, his voice full of awe, "These are...incredible! Absolutely gorgeous."

"I thought you'd like them. Not only are they antique but they're your favourite colour. They even match your bloody phone!" Niall laughs.

"They do!!" Harry beams at him then looks back down at the frames, his expression changing when he finally sees the photos inside, "Oh my God," Harry's voice breaks and his eyes fill with tears, "It's- it's Maggie. It's me and Maggie and- and me and you and- look! there's even one of us with Mum and Gem and Louis and Eleanor."

"Yeah. These are some of my favourite photos and I had a feeling they'd mean something to you, too, so I printed them in black and white like I knew you'd like and found the antique frames. Do you like them?" Niall asks, even though it seems pretty obvious that Harry is happy.

"I love them," Harry looked up at him, tears streaming down his face, "I love them so much, Niall. These photos mean the world to me. I'll treasure them always. Especially the one of me and Maggie. Someday I'll show her this so she can see how much I loved her when she was a little baby. It's written all over my face isn't it?"

"Yeah, Pet, it definitely is. That's why I chose that one and that's why it's one of my faves," Niall responded, getting choked up with tears himself now.

"Oh God," Harry laid the photos on the couch next to him and pulled Niall back over onto his lap, hugging him tightly, "Thank you, baby. I love them so much. I love you so much. This is truly the best present I've ever gotten."

"Yeah?" Niall holds Harry's face in his hands, his thumbs wiping away a few tears.

"Yeah," Harry said softly, "And you know what? I think twenty-eighteen is going to be a really, really good year for us. Really good."

Niall smiles and brings Harry close for a kiss, "Me too, Pet," He whispers before he kisses him, "Me too."