"That's a lot of luggage for just one weekend away."
Nick was grappling with a large suitcase, a suit carrier, and his new Barbour weekender. The latter had set him back a fairly solid £350 the previous evening, a last minute, desperate Harrods purchase as he'd done one final sweep for the perfect travel wardrobe.
He shoved his passport in the pocket of his weekender, and checked his phone for the twentieth time to see if there was a notification to say his car had arrived downstairs. There wasn't. There had better not be traffic. It was seven minutes past ten already.
"Are you taking rocks, or what?" Fiona went on, letting her wheely chair spin her lazily one way, then the other.
"Must be," Nick said, a trifle distractedly. It had taken everything Nick had had this last couple of weeks not to fucking sing his plans from the rooftop. He'd wanted to shout it out loud, where he was going and who he was seeing and what they were doing. He'd had to literally bite his tongue on more than one occasion just to keep from saying it out loud.
Now it came to it, he just wanted to fucking go.
"You didn't take half that much last time," Fiona went on, poking him in the ankle with the toe of her trainer. She was talking about three weeks ago, and Nick's last trip to New York, a round trip that had had him in the States for less than 24 hours.
"Didn't need much that time," he said, doing one last check of his stuff. Passport, phone, address for the other end. Suit jacket.
"But you do this time?" Fiona looked vaguely interested, which was a definite change from her usual level of disinterest and general aura of distinctly unimpressed. She even sat up in her chair, although only by a little bit.
Nick's last trip to New York had comprised of a furtive, highly secretive trip to City Hall, followed by a couple of hours spent in bed, then ended with a meal eaten mostly naked in Harry's apartment before Nick had had to leave for his plane home.
His phone buzzed to say his car was waiting downstairs. "Yep," he said, and tacked on a bright, "see you Tuesday!" before practically running for the stairs.
Nick didn't sleep on the plane, too het-up to properly relax. They did have Bridesmaids as one of the in-flight entertainment options, so he let it play through twice in a row and didn't pay full attention either time. The rest of the time he fucked around on his phone, making playlists for no other reason than if he didn't do something with his hands he was going to slowly fucking implode.
He hadn't been properly relaxed in weeks, but the past 48 hours had taken it to a whole new level. He'd barely slept the previous night, nor the one before that. He'd done two days of radio where he'd talked the ear off anyone who would listen, both shows followed by manic wanderings around Selfridges or Harrods or Liberty, going home with bag after bag after bag. Today he'd talked for the whole of the Breakfast Show, link after link after link rambling on about fuck all, then he'd fucked off to Heathrow to catch a plane to America for the weekend.
And now he was in New York.
Just landed, he texted, the moment he could safely sneak his phone out of his pocket without some guard with a gun yelling at him to put it away. See you soon xxx
He wasn't expecting an answer - he wasn't the only one of them spending some quality Friday time on a plane today - but it didn't stop him sending a follow up.
Better not be thinking about pulling out on me Styles. I've bought a new weekend bag for this.
He slipped his phone back in his pocket after that, standing in line as he went through passport control, attention 100% elsewhere.
"What's the reason for your visit?" the customs guy asked as Nick dutifully had his fingerprints taken and his retinas scanned, or whatever it was they were doing when they took pictures of his eyes. He didn't like to ask questions.
"Meeting my partner for the weekend," Nick said, and hoped it would be enough.
The guy waved him on, but Nick waited until he was through baggage claim and customs before letting out a ragged breath. He just had to find the driver Harry had organised for him now, his destination written out on a scrap of paper in the pocket of his weekender, a building somewhere in the middle of the city.
All Nick knew was that it was an apartment that Harry had arranged because it offered stupidly expensive, desperate privacy, and it included a roof top garden that Nick hadn't seen a single picture of but Harry had promised him was perfect.
Because the thing was, the thing was, Nick was getting married in the morning, and no one in the world even knew he was fucking engaged.
Manhattan loomed tall and imposing over top as they drove through the city, Nick sitting in the back of a town car with a knee that wouldn't stop fucking jiggling. They'd driven up through Queens and then come into Manhattan via some tunnel or other, which all seemed a bit back to front and upside down to Nick, who'd vaguely assumed Queens was the wrong direction from JFK.
"Traffic," the driver had said sagely.
Nick held off texting Aimee until they'd passed the Flatiron building, which he only recognised because Alexa had dragged him to some bar around there the last (proper) time he'd been in New York.
Still on for tomorrow?
Aimee texted him back straight away. Family brunch at 1, she said. Can't be late as Ian will actually kill me. Shouldn't he be less scared of my family by now???? A second message followed the first. You going to tell me what the fuck you're doing here at any point?
She had the good grace to include a picture of Sunday in a USA onesie complete with thumbs-up emoji, though.
Promise you won't be late to brunch, Nick sent back, which was maybe, probably true. Perhaps. How's Sunday liking the jet lag?
Better than Ian.
The car was slowing down. They were here.
See you tomorrow, he texted. Love you xx
Christ. He was getting married.
The first thing Nick said when he saw the apartment Harry had arranged for them was holy fucking shit, which, given what Nick had walked into, was quite understated. The concierge, dutifully standing to one side and pretending like he hadn't heard, accepted a handful of US notes in apology. Hopefully Nick's tip was too much rather than too little, but given that American money all looked the same and he'd walked into a fucking fantasy, he couldn't exactly be certain.
The concierge tipped his hat and stepped back into the lift, the doors gliding closed after him.
Nick, kind of overwhelmed, got as far as draping his suit carrier over the top of his suitcase - kindly left next to the sofa by the concierge - and let the strap of his weekender slide gracelessly down his arm until his bag hit the ground.
"Holy fucking shit," he said again, just for the hell of it. The room he was in was a large living room with a fucking fire pit in the middle of it, a sunken fireplace surrounded on four sides by sofas. The room was, in turn, bordered by plants, mediterranean plant pots so big that some of them had fucking trees in them. There were even statues. From somewhere relatively close by came the sound of bubbling water. Either there was a pretty impressive leak, or there was an inside water feature. In a penthouse.
The worst thing was, that wasn't even the impressive bit. Above him was a massive skylight, like the dome of St. Paul's. Made entirely of white-framed glass and draped in white gauze, the room was lit with scattered, muted sunlight as the dome arched over him.
"Better than a Travelodge," Nick said, because he was used to saying things out loud. "Fucking hell."
His dad would have gone mental at this. Too posh for a conservatory, are they? The world's gone mad.
"Right on, Dad," he said softly. He fingered one of the blankets draped over the back of one of the sofas. It was rougher to the touch than he'd anticipated, meaning it probably cost a fortune just to be itchy.
He followed the sound of running water down the hallway, hoping he wasn't walking New York City dirt into the Persian rugs. There were more plants all the way down the hall, huge things that leaned drunkenly into his path, like whoever this apartment belonged to didn't mind weaving their way through their own private Kew Gardens every time they wanted a cup of tea and a biscuit. His dogs would have a whale of a time here, racing up and down. They'd probably piss in the plant pots, like the heathens they were. He hoped they weren't missing him too much already.
A kitchen opened up on the right hand side, comparatively small compared to St. Paul's and the fire pit. There was champagne chilling in an ice bucket in the middle of the kitchen island. A coffee machine took up the vast majority of one of the surfaces. There was a possibility that if Nick tried to use that to make actual coffee, he'd accidentally launch a rocket to Mars instead. He liked a complicated kitchen tool he'd use once and then forever ignore, but this was ridiculous.
He still hadn't found the water feature, so he pressed on, passing a staircase leading upwards — for a penthouse apartment, this place appeared to have far too many stairs — until the hallway opened out into a large, two storey atrium, crowned by yet another domed skylight. The water feature - a whole fucking storey tall - saw water tumbling gently down over a cascading pile of rocks into a small pool at the base. In the centre of the atrium was a long, heavy wood table, like something off of history.
He hadn't found the telly yet, so maybe the whole place was off of history too. It certainly didn't feel like he was in Manhattan. He took a little video of the water feature, complete with green heart emoji, sent it to Harry, and went to explore upstairs.
It turned out — despite having its own St. Paul's and a two storey atrium — that there was only one bedroom. Imagine having all of them sofas and a table off of history that seated ten people and then only having one bed? Nick hadn't ruled out finding another staircase, though. This one had just taken him up to the bedroom (which presumably had its own en-suite), a separate bathroom, and a doorway out from the stairway onto the roof terrace. This was what he wanted to see. This was where they were going to have the ceremony in the morning, out here on the terrace. Their stupid penthouse apartment in the heart of New York City, the two of them and their ridiculous secret wedding.
The terrace doors were open, and when he stepped outside, Nick very carefully did not say fucking hell, Harry, because a) he was alone, and b) he didn't want to wear it out. The terrace was a sea of greenery, raised beds and huge ceramic planters, dark wood decking and raised wooden archways where the greenery trailed around it like entwining snakes, their very own forest wall between them and the rest of New York. In the middle was the domed roof of St Paul's and the fire pit, the living room down below, and beyond the dome, a covered area with reclining beds and large outdoor sofas. One of them looked like a double bed. Room for both him and Harry on that, Nick reasoned, and carefully portioned in some time to see whether the space was overlooked or not, and if they could fuck out here.
He rather suspected that the place was very, very purposefully designed so to not be overlooked, which boded well for plan A.
Next to him, greenery wrapped around the bannisters like a faintly sloppy attempt at a chokehold, was another staircase — and seriously, for a New York apartment there were far, far too many stairs — leading up to a second terrace. He hadn't expected multiple terraces. To be fair, he'd barely expected the first one, and certainly not the hushed reverie of raised beds and greenery in the middle of downtown Manhattan. But upstairs was a second terrace, and as he climbed the stairs, he knew for certain that this was where he was getting married. Up here, with practically their own arboretum, the breeze in his hair, plants everywhere, and the dome that topped the two storey atrium forming a garden all of its own.
He pinched the bridge of his nose, fumbling in his pocket for his phone. Get here soon, he texted Harry. Don't want to be here by myself. Want you here. It's perfect.
He didn't expect a reply, but one came almost immediately. Landed a bit early. Just in the car. Thought you'd like the place. Wanted you to. I love you xx
Nick's breath caught in his chest. He was getting married. They were getting married. He sat down on a love seat in the corner of the terrace - next to another fucking staircase down that he hadn't explored yet - and urged Harry to get here faster, trying to calculate how long it had taken him earlier, trying to guess if traffic would be worse or better, and wishing for better.
He tapped his fingertips against his chest, trying to settle the insistent, desperate beating of the butterflies in his chest.
The first proposal came on a beach in Majorca, the night of Pixie and George's wedding. Nick had laughed it off at the time, drunk, torn between desperately wanting to believe that Harry wanted it, and too scared to ever let himself believe that Harry would.
The second time came a few days later, a 4:30 A.M. phone call where Harry hadn't gone to bed yet and Nick was forty minutes off of waking up.
I love you, Harry said, sounding choked up and tired. Want to spend the rest of my life with you.
Bet you say that to all the boys, Nick said, trying to laugh it off.
Harry would normally have laughed. He didn't. Just you, he said finally, then, It's only ever you.
Nick waited a while before replying. You'll change your mind.
I haven't yet, Harry said, and Nick wished he could believe it was true.
The third time came two weeks later, Harry showing up in the middle of the night, bag in hand, having arrived straight from the airport. He was red-eyed with exhaustion, his skin pale but greasy, and he tipped forward into Nick's arms and buried his face in the crook of Nick's neck.
"What are you doing here, love?" Nick asked, fingers tangling in Harry's short curls. His hair was stiff with old product. He'd been in New York. He was still supposed to be in New York.
Harry laughed then, mouth pressed to Nick's throat.
"Coming home, aren't I?" Harry said, voice rough around the edges. "Coming home to you. Like I promised. Like I said I would."
"You were in New York," Nick said softly. "Fucking hell, Harry."
"Not home without you," Harry persisted, stepping back. There were shadows under his eyes, almost violet. He'd been to the States and back twice since Majorca.
"Always going to come home to you."
Nick looked at him then. "You know I didn't really think you would."
"I know," Harry said. He managed half a smile. "I'll prove it to you. I'll make you believe that I'm serious. That I love you."
Nick meant to say I love you back. He meant to say, you're proving it. He said, "Marry me," instead. His breath, afterwards, got caught in his throat.
Harry looked tired enough to sleep standing up. "What," he said carefully, almost like he was certain he'd heard wrong. It definitely wasn't a question.
"We should get married," Nick said, the more times he said it, the more he knew it was true. There were too many reminders around them both that life ended too soon. Got to take the chances where you could, make the most of every single fucking opportunity. "Me and you, Haz. Me and you."
Harry cried then, right where he stood, and Nick didn't know if that was a yes or a no or a what the fuck are you fucking going on about you gigantic fuckwit, but that was seven weeks ago, and now Nick was in New York and Harry was coming to meet him.
And tomorrow they were getting married.
When Harry texted to say that he was five minutes away, Nick had just finished unpacking and was doing some unnecessary smoothing of his suit jacket and the rest of his wedding clothes. There had been a lot of unnecessary straightening of things recently, their silence on the subject of their upcoming nuptials getting the better of him so that Nick had been left obsessively re-angling the things on his coffee table and organising his toiletries and lining his coconut water up in rows in the fridge just so that he didn't say it out loud. Even now, he'd unpacked neatly, his things all lined up in their bathroom, his clothes in one of the walk-in wardrobes, his presents for Harry right where he wanted them.
Christ. He shouldn't be nervous. It was only Harry. Harry had been turning up on Nick's doorstep for years now, and this shouldn't be any different.
The only difference was that this time, they were going to end up married.
Pulling up now, Harry's message said. Love you xx
Nick stopped faffing about upstairs and went down into the kitchen, popping the cork on the champagne. His hands shook as he poured them both a glass. Then the lift doors in the St Paul's living room slid open with a ping and he fucking forgot the champagne in his haste to actually fucking see him.
Harry was talking to the concierge, a large suitcase nestling up against the back of one of the sofas, a Gucci suit carrier draped next to it. He didn't notice Nick until the lift doors were closing behind the concierge, and he looked around.
Nick was leaning against the archway leading out from the living room into the hall, trying to look deceptively calm.
"You're here," Harry said softly, without moving. His mouth curved into a smile.
Something settled gently in Nick's chest. "Yeah. Did you think I wasn't going to be?"
"I wanted you to be," Harry said. His eyes were bright. "Did you really think I might be getting second thoughts?"
Nick shrugged a shoulder, trying to sound off-hand. "Thought it might be a possibility. Thought you might have remembered the whole world's at your feet, you know."
Harry fingered the blanket over the back of one of the sofas. It was the same one that Nick had touched when he'd arrived earlier, thinking about his dad. "I'm here," he said.
"I can see that." All these years of tiptoeing around each other, of deflecting all of these moments where their lives could have changed direction with just a few words. It was hard to turn that off, now. Hard to trust it was okay to just fucking say it. So many fucking years of moments where things could have changed. Choices, choices, all the fucking time. It's better if we don't. "You still want to marry me, then?"
Harry's fingers flexed on the blanket. He was all dark today, despite the heat: dark jeans, dark jacket, dark scarf. His boots were brown suede, an echo of the pair he'd worn for years. When he slipped off his jacket, it was to reveal a black shirt, undone and with the sleeves rolled up, over a white Gucci t-shirt. He left his jacket over the back of the sofa, the shirt following after, then unzipped his boots before toeing them off.
Harry stood in socked feet in their St Paul's living room, and held his hand out, palm up.
"What are you showing me?"
Harry's smile was crooked. "Come and see," he said, and Nick stopped leaning against the doorway and crossed over to Harry instead, coming to a halt close enough that he could take Harry's stupidly huge hand in his.
There, on Harry's wrist — still a little red-raw and flushed — was a brand new tattoo. Tomorrow's date.
"Christ," Nick said, voice catching.
Harry looked at him then, eyes bright. "I want to marry you," he said. "I want it more than anything."
"When did you get this?"
"This morning," Harry said, and Nick brushed his thumb over the heel of Harry's hand, close but not touching his new ink, his wrist still smudged black. "Got it before the place even opened. About ten minutes before I left for the airport. I mean, I was technically already on my way—"
"There's champagne," Nick said a little abruptly. He laced his fingers with Harry's. "Come and have champagne."
"Okay," Harry said, and he let Nick tug him down the hall, weaving out of the way of the huge fronds of one of the overhanging ferns. Nick didn't let go of his hand to pass him one of the glasses before reaching for the other one for himself. Behind the ice bucket was a little bowl of chilled strawberries, half of them dipped in chocolate.
Nick looked at him then. At the little crease in Harry's brow, at his wrist curved around the stem of the champagne glass, at his new tattoo. His stupid cherry-red socks and long legs and ridiculous Gucci t-shirt. This stupid, ridiculous, incredible apartment that was theirs for the weekend, an officiant booked for the following morning.
He leaned over and brushed Harry's hair away from his forehead. "You've had a haircut."
"Yeah," Harry said. "Wanted to look nice."
"I never thought I'd be the kind of person to get married," Nick said softly, after a minute. "I never thought anyone would want to. Thought I'd just annoy them, or something. Fine on the radio, or whatever, but in real life, like, nah."
Nick shook his head. He was still stroking Harry's hair. "You said you wanted to marry me on that beach and I didn't want to believe that it was true, right? Because I wanted it, like, so fucking much. I wanted you so fucking much." He paused. "I always wanted you. The whole time. I just, like, never, ever thought I could have it. Have you."
"You can," Harry told him, and he stayed still under Nick's touch. "You do."
"I know." Nick stopped fucking with Harry's hair, and reached for his champagne glass. "I really know. So here's to this weekend, right? Here's to us making the stupidest, most ridiculous decision of our entire lives."
Harry's face broke into a grin. "The stupidest, the most ridiculous, and the best," he said, and he tilted his glass until it clinked against Nick's before taking a sip. "Now. Do I get to kiss you any time soon, or have you changed your mind about seeing me before the wedding?"
Nick made a face. "As if," he said, and made Harry put his glass down next to Nick's on the counter. He made a big deal about focusing his gaze on Harry's mouth. "Going to see you every single moment I can. You're going to be well sick of me following you around every second of the day."
"Even into the toilet," Harry said, and Nick was gratified to see that Harry's attention was focused on Nick's mouth too.
"Better get our married habits started early," Nick agreed. He reached up to cup Harry's stupid face in his hands. "Missed you, you know."
"Yeah," Harry said, tilting his chin up. "I'm pretty sure I missed you more."
Nick laughed, stroking his thumbs over Harry's face. "Love you," he said softly.
He was still smiling as Harry kissed him, sliding his hands into Nick's hair and tugging him closer.
"Love you too," Harry said, and kissed him again.
They ate the bowl of strawberries sprawled out on one of the large loungers out on the terrace with the rest of the bottle of champagne, their feet tangled together.
Nick put his empty glass down on the table and rested his cheek against Harry's shoulder.
"Heard from Aimee," he said, rubbing his nose against Harry's neck. Even after multiple hours on an aeroplane, he still smelled nice, although to be fair at this point in time, the fact that they were not only on the same land mass, but at the same point in time and space meant that Nick was willing to rather overlook any residual scent of sweat.
"She still coming?"
"Yep," Nick said, popping the 'p'. "What about Gemma?"
"Told her to be here at ten," Harry said, shifting the strawberry bowl out of the way so he roll onto his side and nudge Nick's knees apart so he could wedge his thigh there instead.
Nick rolled his eyes and wrapped an arm around Harry's waist. "You think they'll be pissed off at us for not telling?" He didn't just mean Aimee and Gemma, and the fact that Gemma had ended up on the guest list by chance and not by design, a last minute weekend away for her and her boyfriend which had only coincided by accident. Their original plans had only included the one obligatory witness, and they'd scheduled the whole thing around Aimee's trip over here to see family, not that she knew, even now, why Nick had asked her a series of weirdly specific questions about dates and times and arrangements. Gemma had been on the guest list less than ten days.
"Don't know. Maybe." Harry shrugged.
"Good answer." He shifted, kissing Harry's shoulder before settling down again to sneak his fingers under Harry's t-shirt and hook into his belt loops. "This place is amazing. How did you find it?"
"Contact of Jeff's. Don't worry. No one knows I've got it, and if they do know, they don't know why."
"I'm not worrying," Nick said. It was maybe a bit strange that he wasn't worried about this odd, stupid thing that they were doing, or the way it had come about. Nothing in their lives had changed in the last eight weeks that would make an easier, more obvious space for each other in their lives. They were still busy with their own things, mostly with half a world between them. Harry had his film, and his album, and his upcoming tours. Nick had his job, his commitments, his work and his life. None of that had changed or disappeared. All of those things which they'd both always used as a reason not to be together.
The only difference was, they'd stopped pretending that it was enough of a reason not to try.
"Aren't you?" Harry asked.
"No," Nick said, and for once, it was almost the truth. "Are you worried?"
Harry shrugged a shoulder. "Not about marrying you," he said, which was quite a specific, single element in the grand periodic table of their intertwining lives and careers.
"The rest, made. About people finding out. About it taking over."
The taking over part was part of the reason they were doing this, locking themselves away for the weekend with no one in attendance so they could make a massive fucking life-change where the responsibility belonged to them and them alone. Everyone else could fight over the details later, once there was something real to fight over. But this weekend, this belonged to them. Let the condemnation and the celebration happen later. This was just for them.
Nick kissed his jaw. "We can still do it, you know. The big wedding. Everyone there."
"That what you want?" Harry shifted a little bit, tilting his chin up so he could meet Nick's gaze.
"No," Nick said. They'd always talked about a follow-up ceremony, something for everyone to participate in and celebrate with them, but he wanted this, and that was weird in itself. He'd been a show-off his whole life, always wanting to be in the spotlight, and he knew that Harry was the same. Back in Mallorca for George and Pixie's wedding, that brilliant day in the sun where they'd got to get married and share it with all of their family and friends, Nick had wanted exactly that. He still did. He just wanted this bit of it to be private, to be theirs in a way that the rest of their lives weren't. "No. I want this. This is how I want to get married. We'll do it again later, with everyone. Family and everything. Just not—" He stopped. His family had changed shape this year. Harry's had too. It wasn't the same. He had to wait a moment before he went on. "Just this, hey? You and me. Just you and me."
Harry let out a breath. Down below them on the street, a siren wailed. "Yeah," he said. "Just you and me."
"It's not like I don't want everyone looking at me or anything," Nick said. "I've still got my flare for the dramatic. I want everyone looking at me. And you, too. If I'm marrying you then they're going to be looking at you too. You'll at least be in the corner of the pictures of me. Stands to reason, doesn't it?"
Harry rolled his eyes. "Glad to see I'm the Mike Wasowski of the two of us."
"You should be happy just to be in the photograph," Nick said. He sobered. "I want to marry you like this, and be together in front of everyone like that. I want the best fucking party in the world, but I want it later. That's what I want."
"The people we love all there," Harry said, shuffling down so he could nuzzle Nick's neck and cling on like a weird kind of koala. Neither of them got to say everyone we love anymore, and they both knew it. The world was smaller than it had been.
"Yeah. Let's not waste a fucking day, all right? Not a fucking day."
"Deal," Harry said, face still hidden in Nick's neck. Nick shifted a little so that he could stroke his fingers through Harry's hair.
New York was hotter than London had been, muggier and stickier and he was lying out here in jeans. Tomorrow, out of the shade, it was going to be way too hot to get married in the new Ann Demeulemeester jacket he'd bought specially. He clearly hadn't been thinking all that much about the reality of New York in the summertime when he'd made his clothing choices.
He stretched out, never all that good at sitting still for that long. "I feel like I've been stuck in these clothes for a million hours."
"Funny, that," Harry said, lifting his head. He settled back on the pillow where he could meet Nick's gaze. "What were you thinking?"
Nick sat up, rolling his shoulders. Being trapped on that plane for a million years had made his back ache. "Thinking I need to freshen up. Maybe take a shower."
"A shower, huh?"
"Water coming down from the ceiling," Nick said, waggling his fingers. "Soap, you know. The whole experience."
"Uh huh," Harry said, and sat up, looking back at Nick over his shoulder. "How would you feel about maybe sharing that space?"
"That's the one," Harry said. "Water coming from the ceiling and everything."
"Suppose," Nick said. He laughed. "God, I've been thinking about you naked all week."
Harry was already pulling his t-shirt over his head. "What else is a wedding weekend for, if not for making all your dreams come true?"
"The age-old question," Nick agreed, and filled both their champagne glasses so he could bring them inside with him.
The shower in the en-suite was a walk-in one, huge and with plenty of space for two. Nick was already stripping off his clothes even as he was heading for the bathroom. He'd arranged all of his toiletries earlier on and so long as Harry didn't mind smelling like Nick, then there was no reason for him to stop by his suitcase on the way in.
"Someone came prepared," Harry said, nodding at the toiletries and hooking his chin over Nick's shoulder as Nick attempted to both shrug off his jeans and turn the shower on in one completely un-smooth moment. "I like it."
"Oh yeah?" Nick had put the champagne down by the sink. He handed one to Harry even as he was stepping into the shower, which was large enough to have a large shelf, just right for champagne.
This place was the most ridiculous. It was perfect.
"Like the idea of you being here, getting it all ready."
"Do you now?" Nick asked, following Harry under the spray. His hands went automatically to Harry's hips, fingers splaying over his skin, his dick nudging up against Harry's arse. He leaned in to press his mouth to Harry's throat. The water pressure was delicious, the glass already steaming up. Harry shifted a little, just enough that Nick could change the angle and press his mouth to Harry's.
It was easy after that to slip his hand down to cup Harry's growing erection.
"Happy to see me?"
"Ecstatic," Harry said, with no particular change in intonation. Nick snorted. Harry's dick was fattening up beneath Nick's touch, and their relationship was still new enough that even this was an intimacy that felt a little unfamiliar, a freedom that had his fingers trembling. He shifted his attention to cupping Harry's balls, thumbnail catching the underside.
Nick rolled his hips forward so that his dick pushed up against Harry's arse, shifting for a slightly better angle.
"Brought you a present," Nick told him, mouth touching Harry's cheek.
Harry, flushed and damp, grinned. "Is it your dick?"
"It's always my dick." He rocked his hips up. "But no, another one. A cherry on the top."
"There's an image. A wedding present?"
"Depends." Nick reached down between them and slid his fingers into the crease of Harry's arse cheeks. He pressed his hips forward so that his dick nudged its way there too.
"Depends on what?"
"Oh, on whether you want a tin of Wank Wax for a wedding present or not."
Harry snorted. "What?"
"Saw it and thought of you," Nick said proudly. "There's a proper present, though. Not just Wank Wax."
Harry pushed his wet hair out of his eyes, stepping out of the way of the spray, and Nick's hands. He was staring at the row of toiletries Nick had lined up earlier: shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, facial wash, Back Door Relaxing Anal Glide lube, and another bottle that promised to be strawberry flavoured lube and probably tasted mostly of chemicals.
"How much lube did you bring?"
The Wank Wax was in the bedroom, alongside the bottle Nick had picked out for bedroom use. "Fairly sure if the nice customs man had gone through my suitcase he would have thought I was about to have a very busy weekend indeed." He wrapped his fist around Harry's dick.
"He would have been right." Harry stopped poking at the Back Door Relaxing Anal Glide Lube. "Did you really bring me Wank Wax? Where is it?"
"Absolutely did," Nick grinned. "For all those cold and lonely nights away from my side. Don't know what it's like, though. Might be well weird. Might be like Brylcreeming your cock. It's in the bedroom."
Harry kissed him. "If it makes it stand up by itself, I'm all for it. And I'll FaceTime you. Keep you updated with what it can do."
Nick shivered. "Something to look forward to."
Harry cupped the back of Nick's head, drawing him in for another kiss. "Definitely," he said, and kissed him again.
It had been three weeks since the last time they'd seen each other in person, since Nick's too short trip to New York to pick up the marriage licence from City Hall and fit in a few scant hours in bed. It had been longer still since they'd spend any proper time together, just the two of them, nothing else pressing. Just each other.
"Missed you," Nick said, even though they spoke to each other all the fucking time.
"Missed you back."
Nick grinned, sliding his hands down so that he could cup Harry's arse again. He pulled him in close, his fingers brushing over Harry's hole again.
Harry squeaked. It was quite delicious.
Harry rolled his eyes. "Shut up and do it again."
Nick reached for the lube. "You want me to fuck you? Or just fingers?"
"Are we having sex later?"
"If you want to," Nick said.
"Wherever you want it." Nick wasn't fussed about the location. He just wanted Harry any way he could have him.
Harry waggled his arse. "Fingers, then. And I'll blow you after."
"Really?" Nick opened the lube one-handed.
"Really," Harry agreed, nuzzling Nick's neck. He nipped at Nick's skin as Nick let lube drizzle down his fingers.
He fingered Harry open a little clumsily, the shower and Harry heavy breathing into his neck tending to lend itself to distraction. Harry clung to him, letting Nick just open him up, Harry leaning into him, teeth occasionally nipping at Nick's skin. Harry was tight and hot and usually took a little loosening up – hence the desensitising lube, something that Nick had bought a stock of eight weeks ago, and didn't plan on running out of any time soon – and he let Nick take his weight, going boneless in Nick's arms as he fingered him. Nick had two fingers in him now, not all that deep, and sometimes it really didn't take all that much to get Harry going. He crooked his fingers, and Harry's dick rubbed up against Nick's hip.
It didn't matter what they did, Nick kept thinking, tomorrow we'll be married. Tomorrow.
"Going to marry you," Nick told him. "Going to marry you so hard."
"Yeah," Harry echoed. He pressed closer, his hips rolling up as Nick pressed into him with the tip of a third finger. "You're going to marry me."
Harry was breathless and panting, already close to the edge. It had taken him barely any time at all. "You're going to be mine," Harry told him, breath catching. "Going to marry me."
And he came, just like that. It was a bit of a surprise, all things considered. He shuddered apart under Nick's fingers, breathless and almost boneless, Nick backed up against the wall as Harry pulsed against his hip. His hole fluttered under Nick's touch.
"Turned on by marrying me, huh?" He stroked his hand down Harry's back.
"Turned on by you," Harry corrected, hiding his face in Nick's neck. "Cos you're brilliant."
"Course," Nick said lightly. He'd slipped his fingers out of Harry's arse, and was trying to surreptitiously hold them under the spray to clean them off.
Harry rolled his eyes, then leaned in to kiss the centre of Nick's chest, then a bit further down. He got down on his knees and – wearing his best concentrating face – licked his lips. "This'll be hell on my knees, so better not take long."
"Sexy," Nick said, but he slipped his hand into Harry's hair anyway. "Thought you'd be all used to working in water now anyway, now you're a wartime film star and everything."
"Hardly enough water to swim here. You're not exactly at risk from drowning." Harry wrapped his fist around the base of Nick's cock. He looked up at Nick from under his eyelashes. "Got to admit, though… it's done wonders for my breathing."
"Yeah," Harry said, and took him in his mouth.
Nick groaned, his hand finding its way into Harry's short hair. Harry's mouth was insistent and hot and he kept his fist firm around the base of Nick's cock. He just kept learning and remembering all of these things that Nick liked but never said out loud, the way that he liked his dick to be kept in a tight grip, the way he liked Harry to suck him.
And now, with water dripping off of Harry's eyelashes, with his mouth stretched wide around Nick's dick, Nick's fucking chest ached with it, with how much he could possibly feel for another stupid human. Their lives had been so interwoven for so long, the two of them slotting together whenever their worlds aligned, and who knew if this was going to work out? If marrying each other would work. If, five years down the line, they'd loathe the thought of each other, and wish they'd never made this stupid choice to tie themselves together when their life choices still veered away from each other so much more than they connected.
He stroked Harry's cheek with his thumb as his breath caught in his chest. This boy, this stupid fucking boy. This stupid fucking idiot of a human who knew when to squeeze Nick's dick and when to – oh, fuck – tickle his fucking balls like blow jobs were a joke. Who knew when to nudge Nick's legs apart so he could tease his way backwards to where Nick was most sensitive, and most fucking secretive about wanting it. Where Nick couldn't keep what it was doing to him inside, couldn't help but cry out and try not to pull at Harry's hair, his other hand splayed across the tiles. Harry, who sucked at him hard, just like Nick liked it, his fingertips insistently stroking him just behind his balls like Nick fucking loved.
Nick was head over fucking heels for him, arse over tit in love, and he was so close to coming that it was just going to take one more touch, one more fucking look, and that was going to be it.
Harry, eyes wet, looked up at him, cheeks hollowed, and Nick tried to push at him, tried to warn him back, but Harry wasn't having any of it.
Nick came, and Harry swallowed every last fucking bit of it.
Afterwards, once they'd regained enough breath and composure to get around to washing, they stumbled into the bedroom, Harry swathed in towels and Nick wrapped in a little one that barely covered his hips.
It hardly dried him at all, but since his aim in all of this was to drive Harry ever so slightly around the bend, it hardly mattered that he was dripping all over the floor.
"That's barely a flannel," Harry pointed out. He was wrapped from shoulder to knee in a huge fluffy towel, his hair – for no good reason at all, because he'd lopped 95% of it off – wrapped in another, equally large towel that twisted all the way down his back in a stupid towel turban.
"It's so not," Nick said, making a concerted effort to dry at least three square inches of skin with it. "I think this is absolutely a guest towel, and I am a guest." He whipped it off and flicked it in Harry's general direction. "It's not my fault you're obsessed with my cock."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Obsessed," he said, waving his arm around, lazily dramatic. "I'm mad for you. Can't think of anything but your dick. Yearn for it."
Nick made a face. "Speaking of hunger for all things brilliant, what are we doing about food? Bloody ravenous."
Harry dissolved into laughter.
"Nothing, it's fine. I'm telling you I'm mad for you, and you're on about dinner."
"I have literally no idea what time it is in real life, I've just had a well good orgasm. I'm hungry. I'm hungry, Harry. What's on the menu?"
"Greek food." Harry came over and wrapped an arm around Nick's waist, his phone in his hand. He was a lot drier than Nick was, probably because he'd actually made use of a towel, unlike Nick, who'd done a bit of showing his dick off, because, well, why not. "The restaurant's on standby to bring it round."
"Oh, really?" Nick raised an eyebrow. He rubbed his dick against Harry's hip for no other reason than he could. "What other surprises have you got lined up?"
Harry kissed his cheek. "A few," he said, tapping out a message on his phone. "I'm going to go shave. Come and dance behind me naked if you'd like."
"Thought you'd never ask," Nick said, grabbing his phone from by the bed. "Made a well good playlist on the plane. Just the thing for wanging your willy to."
"Fuck," Harry said, grabbing his toilet bag from his case. "What am I marrying?"
"A properly sexy naked dancer," Nick said, throwing down a couple of moves. "Do you reckon Beyonce dances like this for Jay-Z?"
Harry blinked. "Probably not quite like that."
"Shame," Nick said, following Harry into the bathroom, Carly Rae Jepson's Cut to the Feeling blaring out on his phone. "Saw this thing on the internet about naked yoga." He did a bit of a lunge, and turned it into an approximation of the warrior pose. "How's this silhouette looking?"
Harry met his eyes in the mirror. "Totally marriage-worthy," he said, and grinned.
Nick's chest felt full. "You know it," he said, and smiled right on back.
Dinner was a brought-to-their-door fucking Michelin-starred Greek extravaganza, wheeled in on a trolley by the concierge. Nick, who had graduated from naked to a pair of too-short shorts and a Justin Bieber t-shirt, felt compelled to hide behind one of the huge tree-plant things in the hallway whilst Harry looked on, amused, as the concierge delivered their food into the dining room.
"You shut up," Nick said, darting out from behind the tree as the concierge disappeared back into the lift.
"Didn't say a thing," Harry said, who could conceivably be described as practically naked, dressed as he was in a pair of black briefs and an off-the-shoulder cropped shirt thing that came complete with one whole button, fastened somewhere in the region of Harry's nipples.
"Where did you find that shirt?"
Harry grinned. "You like it?"
It was clearly a ladies' blouse, cream coloured with line drawings of naked ladies interspersed with pictures of the odd snake and pyramid. It was clearly designed for someone with a shorter torso than Harry, and left both a startling amount of stomach and his neck and shoulder showing.
Nick fought the urge to tug him in closer and bite down on his clavicle. That said, he'd been fighting the urge to touch Harry for years now, and resistance was ingrained. He still couldn't quite get his head around the fact that he got to love Harry openly — even if for now, openly meant just between themselves.
"My eyes are up here," Harry said primly, tilting Nick's chin up with a crooked finger.
"Yes, but…" Nick made some kind of all-encompassing why does it cover your nipples kind of a hand gesture. Harry's shirt vaguely managed to cover all four, which seemed distinctly unfair as it covered virtually nothing else.
"Eating time," Harry said. "Not whatever that was time."
Nick rolled his eyes. They were eating at the long table in the atrium with the water feature, the arched skylight high above them. The table held quite a significant number of covered plates. "How many were you ordering for, love? You could probably feed the five thousand with this lot."
"It's meze." Harry shrugged. There were loads of little places and bowls, all neatly covered and with little flags denoting their contents. They weren't the plastic lids you got covering the plates in Yo Sushi either, these were actual china and heatproof steel lids to keep the contents the perfect temperature. He glanced at Nick. "I just thought, you know… we'd go to that Greek place near you and have lunch. Thought we could, like, I don't know. Recreate it here. I thought it might be nice."
How many Greek salads had he eaten, holed up in the corner of that restaurant near his old flat, Harry laughing opposite him? He'd loved that place. He'd only ever really gone with Harry. He'd always tried not to think about quite why.
"It's nice," Nick said softly. "It's really nice, Harry."
Harry glanced at him, cheeks a bit pink. "Good. Wanted you to like it."
It was probably likely that Nick would never really get used to Harry's attention being focused entirely on him, and him alone. He swallowed. There was a bottle of white chilling quite happily in an ice bucket on the table. "I'll get us a couple of wine glasses."
In the kitchen, he took a five second interlude so that he could have a total complete breakdown, then went back into the dining room with two crystal glasses that may well have cost more than Nick's entire house.
Harry had been busy, taking all the lids off the plates, setting them all out so that the little flags were obvious and their places were set at the top of the table. He was busy pointing out what they all were as Nick uncorked the wine.
"Greek salad, obviously," Harry was saying, pointing him round the table. "Another Greek salad, but this one's got rusk in it."
Nick didn't bother asking what rusk was. It would probably taste good. He poured Harry a glass, stepping a little closer so that his elbow bumped into Harry's.
"That one's an aubergine salad, and there are different types of olives there, that one's squid, next to it is, uh… a Mesclun salad, apparently. We've got all these different types of fish, bread and oil, desalted dried cod there, grilled octopus, then more squid, but it's different, like, grilled or something—"
"Were you planning on marrying more than one of me?" Nick asked. "How much food do you reckon I can eat?"
"I've seen us when we're hungry," Harry said. His smile was slow and lazy and really kind of lovely. "Anyway, it all sounded so good when they sent me the menu suggestions, and I thought we could just eat what we wanted. It's not like I'm going to be stingy on our pre-wedding night, or whatever."
"Wedding Eve," Nick said. "Like Christmas Eve, but—"
"I got it," Harry said. "There's dessert too."
Nick rolled his wine around his glass. "Course there is." He leaned over and kissed Harry on the cheek. It felt almost hesitant. "It's brilliant. Thanks. For, like, you know, all of this."
Harry bumped the stem of his wine glass against the back of Nick's hand. "Hey. How many times do you get Wedding Eve?"
"Twice, I think." Harry looked outraged. Nick grinned. "We're doing this again with everyone, don't forget."
Harry let out a breath. "Suppose. Only doing this once, though. Me and you like this. Private. This is different."
It was different, Nick knew. It was special. Private, and important, and theirs. "Yeah," he said softly. "Cheers."
Harry leaned his cheek against Nick's shoulder. "Cheers," he said, tilting his wine glass against Nick's. Then, softer, "Love you."
"Yeah," Nick said. "Love you too."
They ate slowly and lazily, even though the last time Nick had eaten had been on a Virgin Atlantic plane from London. It seemed a million years ago. Their banquet was properly posh, tiny slivers of each of the dishes, a tasting menu where every bite was impeccable and it was easier than he'd anticipated for them to move their way through the dishes. Apart from the octopus, which Nick hated on principle. He promised to vomit up tentacles later just to freak Harry out.
Harry pointed out that he was eating the squid.
Okay, Nick was a mass of inconsistencies, just like the next person.
They had a couple of glasses of wine each, Harry's stupid mammoth feet tucked around his under the table, toes flexing. By the time they'd moved onto dessert his stupid one-buttoned nipple-covering shirt had progressed to hanging open too, probably because Harry was tricksy and clearly knew it was turning Nick on.
He ate, shirt open, chest curved, butterfly tattoo flexing with every breath. Nips out. Christ.
Nick bumped his knee into Harry's. "You sure about this?"
"Not having a second helping of dessert?"
"Harry." Nick had meant it to sound like a joke, but now he'd asked it, he wanted to be sure of the answer. He'd changed, somewhere along the line. At some point between that night on the beach in Mallorca and now, his soul had changed. It had bumped up against Harry's and come back different, their edges overlapping, like waves upon the shore.
There had always been something tide-like in the way he and Harry had been.
"Babe," Harry said softly.
Nick shrugged. He lifted his shoulder, then dropped it. Nudged the last spoonful of dessert across the plate. "It changes things. I know I go over and over stuff. I know I obsess. I know I do. I know it's a bit of a joke. I obsess about you a bit. Well, like, a lot. I know you're in this, like, right now." He shrugged again. His chest felt tight. "But you can't forget about me. If you're here and I'm back over there and it's like it always was, then you can't forget about me. I know I look like I can cope, but I don't think I can. Not if you forgot me."
Nick had loved Harry a long time. Years, probably, but he'd never thought it would ever come to anything. Not even that night in Mallorca, watching the sun come up after Pixie and George's wedding, when he was half way down a bottle of wine with Harry's mouth pressed to Nick's skin. Not even then, because Harry was always, always about the now. Nick was too, because the future was terrifying and the past mountainous and snow-capped. Harry was both his past and his future and always had been, but the only way to deal with that was by only looking at the now.
"You might," Nick said after a while. "Not on purpose. But by accident. You might forget me."
"I won't," Harry said again.
Nick tried not to look at him. "How do you know, though? How do you know for sure?"
Harry touched his fingertips to Nick's wrist. It made him shiver. "Look for you in every crowd I'm ever in, don't I? See you everywhere. Always have."
"You should get that looked at."
Harry looked pale. "Sometimes I see you laugh, and I think, I could look at you do that forever."
"You're an idiot." Nick wanted to cry. "I get crows feet when I laugh."
"I'm not going to turn around and forget you," Harry said. "I couldn't."
"If you make me cry now, I'll look a right mess tomorrow."
Harry still looked pale. He slipped his hand into Nick's. "Just so you know, if you're worried about crying, I'm pretty sure I'm going to cry all the way through tomorrow."
"Seems fair," Nick said. He pushed his plate a bit further away from him. "Sorry. For, you know, going on about it."
Harry just shook his head. "I know we're going into this all, like, upside down and everything. I know, like, we're not planning on telling the world straight away. I know why you think I'll just move on. But I won't. I won't, and I'll prove it to you."
There was a part of Nick that wanted to say, you don't have to prove anything to me, but it wasn't the truth. He wasn't going to stop this now, the two of them freewheeling towards a legally binding exchange of vows, but it didn't mean he was convinced it was going to last forever.
Forever was a very long time, particularly when Nick already had his crows feet.
For now, though, for now he was willing to just believe.
"I love you," Harry said.
"I know," Nick said. "I love you right back."
After Nick had pointed out that he probably wasn't going to be able to sleep if they'd left lukewarm octopus out on the table all night, they'd put the leftovers in the fridge, the two of them vaguely weird enough that organising it all in the fridge was almost as enjoyable as eating their way through their Wedding Eve feast.
Somehow they ended up finishing the bottle of wine lying flat on their backs on the rug by the water feature, the skylight two storeys above them, shadows gently creeping their way across the walls as dusk fell. At some point between eating and finishing the wine, it had got dark. Down below them, relatively close, a siren wailed.
"This is going to kill your back," Nick said after a minute, tucking his arm behind his head.
Harry tucked his face into Nick's chest. "Worth it."
"Even if you have to be all bent over like a Nanna at the ceremony tomorrow?"
Harry grinned. "You can help me get all the kinks out. Anyway, it'll be the next day it's all fucked." He sneaked a glance at Nick, who chose to blatantly ignore him. "It'll be practice for when we're old and broken, anyway."
"Helping each other out of chairs and shit," Nick said. "Like proper nannas."
"Yeah," Harry said, and Nick wrapped an arm around Harry's shoulders.
"I'd like that," Nick said softly. "Not the old bit, obviously, when I've lost my looks and you still look like, I don't know, someone well old and hot, and I look like Ronnie Wood on a bad day, but like, the rest of it. You and me."
"We could live somewhere like this," Harry said. "Take up gardening or something."
"Maybe," Nick said. He could imagine the two of them, the way their lives intersected and they intersected and the way he fucking loved Harry more than anyone and anything he's ever loved, but he still didn't know what a life together looked like. What a place together would look like, even. What it would look like over the next few months when Harry was off on tour and coming home in-between times. God, a place that was theirs, and theirs alone. "Your eyesight's going to have to get really bad, though, so you can't stare at my wrinkles. They'll be like bloody riverbeds by then."
"Craters." Harry nodded. "I know. You've said before."
"You're not cursed with being old yet. Wait until you are."
Harry shot him a look. "Wait until I'm thirty. Then I'll be well old."
"Oi," Nick said, and slapped at some part of Harry he could reach without removing his arm from around his shoulders. "None of that. You'll be fresh faced and young at thirty. Carved from marble and all that. I'll look like I've been hewn from a rock face using only them trowels that they used in the Stone Age or whatever."
Harry rolled his eyes. "You've thought about this too much." He kissed Nick's chest. "Probably need an early night, don't you? What with being so old and everything."
Nick pretended to consider. "Night before my wedding? Could probably do with a few hours extra kip, you're right."
Harry hummed. "If you want," he said. "I was going to offer to lick you out, but if you're too tired…"
Nick was already up and on his feet. "Shut up. I'm saying yes."
They left their wine glasses on the table to sort out later, and Nick followed Harry up the stairs to bed.
Nick was a hundred per cent easy for being eaten out. A hundred per cent. He was already shrugging out of his pants even as they headed into the bedroom, tossing them in the general direction of the walk-in wardrobe, followed shortly after by his Bieber t-shirt. He turned down the bed with a ridiculous flourish, then lobbed himself right into the centre of it, face down, legs apart.
He looked back over his shoulder to where Harry was still leaning in the doorway, arms crossed, stupid shirt hanging open and pants still on. "You waiting for something in particular?"
Harry made a face. "Just enjoying the view."
Nick spread his legs a little further apart, just because he could. "How about now?"
"Still enjoying the view," Harry said. And he looked like he was, too, and Nick's dick was getting harder under the scrutiny. He always had liked being the centre of attention, and being the centre of Harry's attention was too much to bear. He knew he was a little bit flushed, because he and Harry were new enough still that opening himself up for this particular view was still on the rare side, but whatever. Harry was marrying him. He was hardly going to pull out because Nick liked having his arse licked.
"You promised to lick me out," Nick said, and it was an effort to avoid sounding petulant.
"I did," Harry said, but he still didn't move.
"Harry." That definitely sounded like a whine.
"I dunno," Harry said. "I just feel like you haven't asked me like, nice enough or something."
Nick rolled over onto his back. His dick, freed from the confines of the sheets, did a little sort of happy wave in Harry's direction as it settled against his stomach. Nick pouted. "I'm hard."
"So am I," Harry said. His dick was stretching out the waistband of his underwear.
"Yes, well," Nick said. "You promised."
Harry made a face. "Just wondering what I get in return, that's all."
"Whatever you want," Nick said. "Only fair."
"Only fair on Wedding Eve," Harry agreed. He cupped his dick.
"You decided yet?"
"Nah," Harry said. "I'll decide later, now you've said I can have whatever."
Nick rolled back over onto his front and tried to look sexy. It wasn't that easy considering he had his arse out. "Come on."
Harry grinned, shrugged off his underwear, and crawled in between Nick's legs. He settled on his knees, hands to Nick's bum, gently pulling his arse cheeks apart.
Nick buried his face in the pillow. "You're so weird."
"I'm just looking at my husband's arse. Nothing weird about that."
"Not your husband yet," Nick said. Harry nosed at his cheeks a bit.
"This time tomorrow, though," Harry said, and nipped at Nick's arse with his teeth. "This time tomorrow you're going to be married to me, and I'll lick you out then, too."
"Not in front of the guests, I hope," Nick said, from somewhere in the region of the pillow. Harry wasn't doing anything more than just blowing across Nick's hole, and Nick was pretty sure that every single hair across every single bit of his body was standing on end. He shivered as Harry blew over his hole again, soft and warm, and then Harry's mouth was on him, lapping at him, tongue pressed to Nick's hole and Nick whined with it, so fucking easy for Harry's mouth it was practically a joke.
He was going to come really, really quickly. It would be embarrassing if it wasn't for how quickly Harry had come earlier, in the shower. When Harry slicked his fingers up and slid them inside of him, still tonguing at him, Nick came all over the sheets with a startled, bitten-off cry.
Afterwards, when he'd hidden his face in the pillows, and Harry had come back from the bathroom with minty-fresh breath, Harry tucked himself into Nick's side.
"You're sleeping in the wet patch," he said, and Nick groaned and kissed his shoulder.
"Your mouth's amazing," Nick said, nudging Harry with his nose.
Harry looked sleepy and sated, even though Nick was the one who'd just come everywhere. "Feels like Christmas," he said. "You know, when you were a kid and you wanted to go straight to sleep so that you'd wake up and it'd be Christmas. Except we'll be getting married."
Nick laughed, and let his hand wander down Harry's back and over the curve of his arse. "We will," he said. "I'm going to be Mr Harry Styles."
Harry's smile was wide, even though he looked half asleep. "Mr Grimshaw," he said. "Love you."
Nick closed his eyes, let Harry settle himself next to him, and fell asleep.
When Nick woke up the following morning, it was still early. The sun was up, although it felt like it hadn't been for long, and Harry was flat out beside him, pillow lines on his cheeks, gently snoring into the sheets. He was beautifully, gorgeously naked.
It was Nick's wedding day, and just for a moment, he was fucking terrified.
He climbed out of bed quietly, careful not to wake Harry, and padded across the room to the walk-in wardrobe. He grabbed a pair of pants before heading into the bathroom for a piss and to clean his teeth.
Then, quietly, he slipped out of the bedroom, phone and cigarettes in hand, and went outside. Barefoot, he went up onto the highest terrace, the one they'd probably be getting married on later, and leaned over the railing to light up.
New York was spread out in front of him, endless blocks of apartment buildings peeking out from in-between ever more apartment buildings. Occasional cars made their way along the street down below, the few people that were out and about had dogs on leads or were in their gym clothes, or were in their gym clothes and had a dog on a lead.
It felt very much like he was watching from the outside, looking in, like their tiny little oasis of green calm in a city that never fucking slept sat quiet and slow as the world pressed on around it. The breeze in the leaves was the only evidence that he was still a part of what was going on below.
Christ, it was his wedding day. He was getting married. He was. Him. All this time spent convinced that nothing would ever be worth risking the terror of commitment for, and yet Harry had just been there all along, biding his time, waiting.
It wasn't that Nick thought that Harry was planning on pulling out anymore, but it didn't mean that he was ready to believe it was forever just yet. It didn't matter though, because he would still risk it, even for just a bit.
He fucked around on his phone for a bit, smoking two cigarettes off the back of each other. He texted Aimee, see you at 10!! because she'd never been on time in her life, and there was no way he'd see her before half past. She might be up, though, with Sunday, but even though he waited, she didn't text back. His skin thrummed with the need to say it out loud, to find someone to talk to, to say, I'm getting married and today's my fucking wedding day, and I'm so in love I think my head's going to explode with it.
There wasn't a single part of him that was built for being alone, for being solitary, for processing any of this shit without saying it out loud. He was a pack animal, and always had been.
The only thing he'd never told anyone was how he'd felt about Harry all this time.
"Wondered where you'd gone off to," Harry said, coming up the stairs in just his underwear, his hair all sticking up on end. He was rubbing his eyes. "Woke up and you weren't there."
"Sorry," Nick said. It was genuine; he'd never got over how much he hated waking up alone. But they'd come from different time zones, New York where they've met in the middle, and this was a lie-in for him. "Didn't want to wake you."
"You should have," Harry said. He leaned over the railings and let his elbow bump against Nick's. "It's our wedding day."
"It is." Nick bit his lip to keep himself from laughing out loud. "God, we're fucking getting married, Hazza. We're getting married."
"We fucking are, and it's today." Happy nipped his teeth against Nick's bare shoulder. "You happy?"
Christ, it was bursting out of him, this ecstatic fucking joy that stretched across his skin. He tugged Harry into his side, arm around his shoulders, New York stretched out around them through a haze of rooftop greenery. "Yeah," he said. "Yeah. I'm really happy."
Harry wrapped his arms around Nick's waist. "Me too. I'm so happy." His tongue licked at Nick's nipple. "Going to be Mr Nick Grimshaw by lunchtime."
"Mr Harry Styles," Nick said, playing up his accent. He couldn't get his head around it, not properly. It was easy enough to imagine this afternoon, or tomorrow, because it would be the same as today: waking up in a beautiful rented apartment with Harry by his side. The next day, though, he'd be going back to London, and on Tuesday, he'd be doing the radio just like normal and his husband would be the other side of the fucking world.
Harry burrowed into Nick's side, arms tight around him. "Can't wait," he said softly. He sounded happy. It made Nick's chest ache.
"Me neither," he said, kissing Harry's hair, and together they watched as New York woke up around them.
They had bagels and a fruit platter for breakfast, delivered by the concierge after a phone call from Harry. Nick made them coffee in the kitchen, the coffee pot hissing reassuringly from the corner of the counter as Nick laid out coffee cups on a ridiculous gold tray he was going to take out to the terrace so they could eat outside.
Harry was supposed to be setting it out up there, but when he came back downstairs, he was carrying two identical packages wrapped in tissue paper.
"Them don't look like bits of strawberries all laid out on a plate to look like my face," Nick said as Harry handed him one of the packages. The tissue paper said Versace.
"Happy wedding day," Harry said. "They were supposed to be for when we woke up, but then I slept in."
"My jet lag ruined it, you mean," Nick said. It was only just past half seven now.
"Well, a bit," Harry said. "And then I forgot until after they brought the food up."
Nick rolled his eyes. "Already forgetting me and we're not even married yet," he said, but he bumped his toes into Harry's bare foot to tell him he was joking.
"Open it," Harry said, and Nick untied the ribbon holding the tissue paper together.
Inside was a black and gold silk dressing gown. A Versace robe. The gold swirled across the silk like something straight out of Versailles.
"It's silk," Harry said. He had one exactly the same. "Baroque pattern. Screen print."
"For lounging in luxury, it said."
"Very Noel Coward," Nick said softly, around the lump in his throat. "It's beautiful. They're beautiful. Ridiculous and beautiful."
"That's us," Harry said. "Do you like it?"
It was a Versace silk dressing gown. It was magnificently ridiculous and horribly extravagant on top of everything else. "Course I like it. Thank you."
"Put it on, then." Harry was already unfolding his, slipping it on over his underwear.
"Very decadent," Nick said, because owning a ridiculous silk dressing gown was absolutely his aesthetic, except he'd never quite attained that level of nonsensical self-indulgence. He slipped it on, letting it hang open. The material fell beautifully — as it should, for whatever Versace were charging for this beautiful nonsense.
Harry kicked off his pants and left them on the back of one of the stools pulled up to the kitchen counter. Quite frankly, Harry had been wearing far too many clothes for far too long, and Nick suspected the only reason he'd put them on in the first place was the vague concern that the terrace was overlooked somehow by someone with a camera. That, and getting the food delivered.
"Better now you're hanging free?"
"Always." Harry grinned. He made a vague effort to tie his dressing gown closed, then gave it up as a bad job. Nick liked him better with his dick out, anyway. On principle, he didn't even bother attempting to tie his closed, although he was still wearing his pants.
He glanced at Harry. You only got properly married once, after all. Fuck it. He took his pants off too, folding them in half and putting them on top of Harry's on the back of the stool.
"Nice," Harry said. "Hot."
Nick rolled his eyes, then decanted the coffee into a ridiculous coffee pot and settled it in the middle of the gold tray. "Breakfast?"
"Naked wedding day breakfast," Harry said. "Well, you know, robes aside."
"If we can't get married at Versailles," Nick said, "we might as well bring Versailles to us."
Harry laughed, and took the tray with the coffee on, and left Nick to follow up behind.
They ate breakfast sharing one of the large patio loungers on the lower terrace, lazily drinking coffee and picking at the fresh fruit. Harry spread cream cheese on half a bagel for him and proceeded to feed him bits in a thoroughly ridiculous and desperately non-sexy way. Nick loved it. He kept bumping his toes into Harry's, watching Harry sneak little grins at him, eyes bright.
It was going to be a hot day. The terrace was already warm beneath their feet, and the endless greenery rustled a little in the breeze.
"Shouldn't we be busier?" Nick asked finally, after he'd given up trying to find a way to sexily feed Harry grapes and had resorted to lobbing them in his general direction whilst Harry attempted to catch them with his stupid big mouth. Nick was used to having his dogs around, craving his attention and never letting him have a complete moment of peace and quiet, so the fact it was their wedding day and they were laying out here surrounded by bits of watermelon and pineapple, licking juice off the insides of their wrists, well, it felt wrong.
Harry leaned in to bite a piece of pineapple directly out of Nick's fingers. Now that was something he was used to from his dogs. Food stealing. "Nah," Harry said, wiping his mouth on the back of his hand, his robe hanging open, dick out. "Shower, get dressed, people arrive, get married, people leave. It's all arranged."
"I thought I'd be more stressed out." Nick had been terrified of commitment his whole fucking life, and couldn't really get his head around the fact that he wasn't melting down.
Harry moved the remains of the fruit platter out of the way and tucked himself along Nick's side. "I'm not stressed," he said, nudging his nose against Nick's chest. For a warm day, the end of his nose was a little cold. Weirdo. "Am a bit nervous, though."
Nick rolled over a little so that he could slip his knee in between Harry's thighs, and mess with his stupid hair. "Worried I'm not a sure thing? Cos I am. If you were, like, worried about that. Pretty, like, fucking obsessive about how much I love you, if I'm honest."
"Nah," Harry said. He settled for playing with Nick's nipple, which was distracting but also kind of lovely. "I'm lucky to have you. I just kind of worry that you don't think I'm lucky to have you."
"You could have anyone," Nick said, after a brief pause for parsing.
"Couldn't. Anyway. Doesn't matter, does it? Because the only person I want to be with is you."
Nick brushed his thumb over Harry's jaw. They were all sticky, fingers and faces, fruit juice everywhere. He felt almost unbearably fond. "You and your weirdo love for people with crows feet."
Harry closed his eyes. His eyelashes were dark against his cheeks. "Can't wait to marry you," he said, tilting his chin up so that Nick was cupping his face. "Crows feet and all."
Nick leaned in to press his mouth to Harry's. "Same," he said. "Except for the crows feet. I'm divorcing you when you get crows feet."
"Oi," Harry said, opening his eyes. He wrapped his hand around Nick's wrist. "Don't joke about divorcing me."
And right there in the moment, Nick desperately, desperately wanted to believe they'd work out. That they'd make it through, regardless of what life threw at them. "All right," he said softly. "Sorry. Love you."
Harry's eyes softened. "Enough to let me have the first shower?"
Nick rolled his eyes. "Fine," he said. "Are we getting ready, then?"
"Sure are," Harry said. "Can't get married in our monogrammed dressing gowns."
Nick hadn't noticed the monogram, but there it was, right over his left nipple. NSG. Harry's said HSG. "Double-barrelling, are we?" he asked lightly, although it felt nothing like light.
"For the purposes of the monograms, yes," Harry agreed, slipping his hand inside Nick's robe and brushing the pad of his thumb over Nick's nipple.
"Well, obviously," Nick said, reaching into his pocket for his phone. "For the monograms."
Harry settled his cheek against Nick's shoulder, and Nick held his phone out for a selfie.
"First wedding picture," he said after, checking it to make sure they both had their eyes open and neither of them looked like a monster or anything. They didn't. It was just the two of them, both with their ridiculous dressing gowns on, the monograms on show. Nick hadn't even realised he was smiling that much, or that he looked that fucking happy. Or that Harry would look so settled, or in love.
Harry looked at it for the longest moment before burying his face in Nick's neck. Nick tucked his fingers into Harry's hair.
"Hey," Nick said, fingers catching at Harry's curls. "Let's get married, Styles."
"Yeah," Harry said, beaming. "Let's."
They were still finishing off getting ready in the living room when the concierge called to tell them the first of their guests had arrived. Harry was in a mess with his shirt, all fingers and thumbs, and Nick was in the middle of an internal breakdown about his suit choice. His jacket was black with an even blacker floral pattern picked out against it, and instead of a buttonhole for a corsage, it had a ridiculous ring with a black feather hanging from it. Shopping by himself in Selfridges late one night in London, he'd thought it was esoteric enough that he could wear it again, carry his wedding with him and have it be special and no one else know. In New York, it just felt too hot to wear.
"Are they on the list?" Harry asked, phone tucked between his shoulder and his cheek. He didn't ask whether it was Aimee, Gemma, or their registrar - or whatever they called them over here, although she wasn't due until a bit later. Her name was Ramona Valdez, and that was all Nick knew about her. "Send them up, then, yeah. Just send the first two names up as they arrive. There's three, yeah? Three names. Third one's due later. Thanks. Send the first two up as and when they arrive, yeah."
"Calm down," Nick said as Harry put down the phone. Harry was getting flustered, his nerves showing, his fingers shaking as he fumbled with his collar.
"I can't get it done up." His suit was a ridiculously beautiful Gucci one, dark blue silk with a pattern of golden tigers threaded across it over a background of reds and purples and royal blues and what might have been silvers, or just a trick of the light. He didn't seem hot in it, not yet, even though the material seemed heavier than Nick's. Nick was still trying to figure out why he'd thought buying a black suit jacket was the right plan of action for a wedding in a New York summer, albeit the tail end of one. Even though his white shirt was open right down to the centre of his chest and his jacket was supposed to be a lightweight linen and silk blend, he was still sweating.
"It's okay," Nick said. He stepped closed, covering Harry's hands with his own. "Let me."
"It won't go," Harry said, fingers still working at it. "The button's stuck."
"It's not." Nick nudged Harry's hands away. The button was a little stiff. Harry was shaking. "Does it have to be done up?"
"Yes. I mean. I don't know. Does it?"
Nick stopped trying to do the button up, and instead opened the collar. He brushed his fingertips over the collar wings, then settled his fingertips at the base of Harry's throat. "I don't think so. You look great."
Harry's shoulders dropped, and the lift doors opened behind them.
Nick spun around. Aimee stepped out of the lift, handbag tucked over her elbow. She was wearing a headscarf and therefore looked like she'd wandered off of a Grace Kelly filmset, although perhaps not with the leopard print jumpsuit which was doing excellent, a+ things for her boobs. There was a pause.
"You didn't tell me Harry was going to be here," she said, taking off her sunglasses. She gave them the once over, taking in Harry's suit, and Nick's outfit, and Nick's fingertips on Harry's shirt collar. "You didn't actually tell me what I was going to be doing here, but now I'm kinda thinking that maybe I should have dressed up more."
Nick swallowed. "Hiya, love," he said, stepping away from Harry. "Long time, no see."
"Last Tuesday," Aimee said, still distractedly staring at Nick's jacket. "I saw you on Tuesday. Him, however, he's a bit more long time, no see. How's things, Harry?" She made no attempt to come over and hug Nick hello, which was frankly disconcerting. Her eyes narrowed, drinking everything in.
"Good," Harry said, glancing at Nick. "They're really good."
Nick caught his eye. If Harry was anything like him, he couldn't help the smile spreading across his face.
"Oh my god," Aimee said. "Oh my fucking god."
Still grinning, Nick reached for Harry's hand. He laced their fingers together, Harry squeezing back, just as Aimee let out a ridiculous fucking squeal and launched herself at Nick with her handbag.
"You fucking liar," she said, chucking her arms around Nick's neck. "No one on the scene at the moment, my fucking ass, oh God, have you finally got it together?" She slid her hand into Harry's hair and pressed a smacking kiss to his cheek. "How long's this been going on, is this new? Has it just happened?"
God, Nick thought. God. "Um," he managed.
"And what's with the suits, anyway? All dressed up? You should have told me there was a dress code. I'd have put my tits on show. Who else is here?" She pressed another kiss to Harry's cheek, then clearly narrowly avoided the temptation to spit on a tissue and wipe off the lipstick she'd left there. She settled for licking her finger and trying to get it off that way.
"No one," Nick said, as Aimee applied herself to Harry's face. "It's just us. Well. It's going to be, like, five of us."
Aimee stepped back. "What's up with you? You two have just got together, stop looking so nervous. Are you worried that everyone's going to be surprised? I think we all just gave up years ago thinking you two were ever going to get your act together."
"We're getting married," Nick said, loud enough to shut Aimee up, which had to be pretty fucking loud because Aimee was the loudest person Nick had ever met, and Nick was aware of his own existence and where he charted on the loudness scale.
Potentially it might have been better timed to not coincide with the lift doors opening again and Gemma stepping out, because in their plans, they hadn't quite anticipated going straight in with the news before the standard hello had been exchanged, but you couldn't have everything.
"Uh, what the fuck," Gemma said, which was a perfectly reasonable comment given the circumstances.
"Married," Nick said a little desperately. "Me and Harry. We're getting married." He'd added the me and Harry for Gemma's benefit, but he rather assumed she wouldn't think it was him and Aimee anyway. Aside from the, like, bigamy aspect, there was also the tits, which did nothing for him apart from be objectively fantastic.
Harry squeezed his hand.
"When?" Gemma asked.
"About an hour?" Harry said. "Probably."
"Right," Gemma said, nodding. She was stood rather uselessly in the way of the open lift doors. It tried to shut on her and she absent-mindedly batted them away rather than move. "Married, right. Is this a joke?"
"No," Harry said. "Me and Nick are getting married. Today. Here."
Gemma was wearing loose cropped striped trousers, a pair of Adidas, a white t-shirt and her denim jacket. Her sunglasses were perched on the top of her head. "You told me you only needed me for a couple of hours," she said. "I'm supposed to be meeting Michal for lunch."
"Yeah. The witness part won't take long."
"Is Mum here?" Gemma asked. She finally stepped out of the way of the lift doors. They closed, gently and quietly.
"No," Harry said. His hand was hot in Nick's.
"Does she know?"
Harry squeezed Nick's hand. "No," he said. "We're going to tell them after."
Aimee raised her eyebrows. "Eileen doesn't know either?"
"No," Nick said. "Nobody knows. We're not telling anyone."
"But don't you need a licence, and everything?" Gemma asked. "You can't just, I don't know, get married on the spur of the moment."
"We know," Nick said. "We've got one. Sorted it a few weeks ago."
"Oh God," Aimee said. "Your meeting in New York. You came here, like, three weeks ago. You wouldn't say exactly what it was for."
"Yeah. Less of a meeting and more of, um, a licence arranging session."
"I only told you I was coming to New York a fortnight ago," Gemma said softly. "So I wasn't even supposed to be here. Were you just going to get married, and not tell anyone? This is going to break Mum's heart."
Harry looked helpless.
"It's not like that," Nick said. "We're going to do it properly. We're going to do the big day. Have everyone there." For a value of everyone that could no longer possibly mean everyone, and he suspected that wouldn't ever fucking stop hurting. "Bridesmaids and someone giving us away and toasts and first dances and stupid vows and everything. The whole lot. We just, um—" He cleared his throat.
Harry jumped in. "We couldn't wait. I didn't want a year or eighteen months of us, like, not being married while we planned. Bad shit happens if you wait, Gem. Life just creeps up on you. I wanted it just to be, like, legal and stuff." He glanced at Nick. "I want this. Then I want the rest."
"You didn't even tell anyone you were together," Aimee said.
"Well," Harry said. "Um."
"He told me he was in love with you," Gemma said. She put her bag down on the sofa. "Back before you all went to that wedding in Spain."
There was a pause. "Before," Nick said carefully. "Not after?"
"Definitely before," Gemma said. "We were buying his suit."
"Right," Nick said. "Before. Right."
"Told you I loved you," Harry said softly.
"Yeah," Nick said, and he didn't look away. "You did."
"So," Gemma said, clearing her throat. "Don't I get a hug?"
Harry tore his gaze away, then — still keeping his hand in Nick's — tugged his sister into a one-armed hug. "Missed you," he said, words muffled by her hair as she hugged him back. "Love you."
Nick caught Aimee's eye.
"Look at you," she said. "Mr I'll never commit. Getting married twice."
"You all right?" Nick asked her. Harry's hand was hot in his.
"Yeah," Aimee said. "I am. Congratulations, Grim."
He grinned. "You know why I was on at you about when you were coming now."
"For this? You wanted me to come that badly?"
"Needed a witness. Thought you'd be good. You know."
"For this I'd better be your Best Man at the real thing." Nick didn't say that this, for him, was the real thing. The rest was just the party.
"You can definitely be my Matron of Honour."
"Fuck that shit, I'm your Best Man or nothing."
"Best Matron," Nick suggested.
Aimee hit him with her handbag.
"Best Man," Nick agreed, like there had ever been any other possibility but that one. He squeezed Harry's hand. "Do you think it's time for champagne?"
"Better bloody had be," Gemma said, tucking her hand into the curve of Harry's elbow. "I've had a shock." She leaned over and kissed Nick on the cheek. "What is this place, anyway? The light's gorgeous."
They were still in the living room, and Gemma was looking up at the skylight, draped in pale white.
"Just you wait," Nick said. "Just you wait until we show you outside."
They swooped past the kitchen, Harry bundling up champagne and orange juice and — classily, which was partly why Nick was planning on well and truly marrying him — the packet of chocolate hobnobs that Nick had produced out of his suitcase last night with suitable fanfare. Nick gathered up four chilled glasses, and together they went up the stairs and out onto the first of the terraces.
"Holy fucking shit," Aimee said, which was a reasonable response to the fucking oasis that was the outdoor terraces. She turned in a circle. "Christ alive, will you look at this."
Harry, all dressed up in his Gucci suit, put the champagne and the jug of orange juice down on one of the tables. Around them, greenery fluttered gently in the breeze, the warmth of the morning seeping beneath their skin.
"Where did you even find this place?" Gemma asked. She tucked her hand through Nick's arm, which Nick took to be tacit approval of his upcoming nuptials. At least, he hoped so.
"Harry did," Nick said. He patted Gemma's hand. It was the closest he could come to please be okay with this. "Just turned up here yesterday and found myself in flipping Paradise, didn't I?"
Harry was twisting the top of the champagne bottle. He shot Nick a grin. "Wanted you to like it," he said. "Wanted it to be perfect." The cork popped off in his hand, hitting one of the large potted tree-like plants at the other side of the terrace. "You going to drink to us, or what, then?"
Aimee scooped up a glass. "Just a tiny splash," she said, already reaching for the orange juice. "Sunday's still mostly on the boob." She rolled her eyes at Nick. "If you think my best friend's getting married without me toasting him, though, he's got another think coming."
Something inside of Nick's chest settled, just a little, just enough. "Thank you," he said softly.
She winked at him. "So then, what's the plan? Do I need to rearrange lunch?"
Nick shook his head.
"No," Harry said. "We've got a, uh, registrar, person. She's coming here, in about half an hour. Then we'll you know, do the ceremony, sign whatever we need to sign, then, you know—"
"Have a bit of cake," Nick said. "We've got cake."
"Then you're throwing us out?" Aimee made a face at Gemma, whose hand twitched around Nick's elbow.
"Harry—" she said.
Harry's brow softened. "Gem," he said. "Please be happy for us. Please. I love him so much."
"I'm right here," Nick said. "I can hear you, you know. With your feelings and stuff. Telling people I'm amazing and brilliant and perfect." He paused, waving his hand at Harry. "You can carry on, though, if you wanted."
"Hush," Gem said. She sniffled, pulling away from Nick and reaching in her bag for a little packet of tissues. "Oh god. You've properly sprung this on me. Mum's going to flip."
"Do you think?" Harry asked. "I thought she'd understand." He looked stricken.
Nick wrapped an arm around Harry's shoulders. "Haz."
"I just want to marry you," Harry said softly. "No waiting and no messing around and no pressure from anyone. Just you and me."
"I know," Nick said. He fucked around with Harry's collar for a moment, for no other reason than he could, and because Harry liked it when Nick poked at him.
"I'll record it for them," Gemma said. "We'll send it to them."
Harry nodded, tucking himself into Nick's side.
"None of that," Gemma said. "Getting out of your champagne pouring duties because you're all like, suddenly in love or whatever."
"Not suddenly," Harry said, nosing at Nick's throat.
Nick tightened his grip on Harry's shoulder. "No," he said, kissing Harry's temple. "Definitely not suddenly."
"Fucking hell," Aimee said, although she was beaming as she topped off the rest of her glass with orange juice. "Will you look at the two of you."
Nick knew he was going pink, but he didn't care. Harry was pressed into his side, arm around his waist, and it was their wedding day, and everything was fucking perfect.
Gemma, rolling her eyes, handed them both a glass of Bucks Fizz before pouring one to herself. She held out her glass. "To my little brother," she said, "and my soon to be brother in law."
Nick held out his glass. "To getting married," he said, and Harry touched his glass to Nick's, and beamed.
Ramona Valdez was in her fifties, with short grey hair and bright coloured glasses. She was wearing an ill-fitting grey trouser suit and a cerise top, and she beamed at Nick and Harry like she was delighted, which sat well with Nick because he was pretty fucking delighted too. She consented to a glass of orange juice, tried a Hob Nob, and shook hands with Aimee and Gemma. She then shook hands with Harry twice, mostly because Harry was an odd sort of quivery, hands twitching, and Harry was the one who'd had the Skype meetings with Ramona and his lawyer, sorting out the paperwork. Nick had just done the prep with Harry beforehand.
"You two ready?" she asked finally, once Nick had finished straightening Harry's collar for the fifteenth time and Harry looked ready to chew his lip in half.
Nick swallowed. His heart was pounding. Aimee tucked her hand into the curve of Nick's elbow. She had the rings in a little velvet bag in her pocket.
"He's ready," she said, topping up her glass with orange juice.
"Oi," Nick said. "I was going to say that."
"Then get on with it," Aimee said. "Some of us have lunches to get to, babies to miss."
Sweat trickled down his back. God. He was so fucking nervous. He was getting married. Harry's last chance to back out. "I'm ready," he said, and his voice caught. Aimee wrapped him up in a hug. She gave him a huge kiss on the cheek, the kind that was probably going to leave a lipstick reminder. He didn't care.
"Harry?" Ramona said.
"So, so ready," Harry said, and his eyes shone.
Nick wasn't going to cry before they even got outside. He wasn't.
Harry slipped his hand into Nick's, and Nick swallowed down a sniffle. "Come on," he said. "Let's lead the way, eh, Harry?"
They climbed the stairs to the first terrace, Ramona following, Aimee and Gemma behind. Gemma had her phone out. The sun caught them almost unawares, shining down on them, the trees casting gently moving shadows as they took the stairs up to the top terrace.
Harry was squeezing Nick's hand so hard Nick was pretty sure it was cutting the circulation off. He didn't care.
"Picture!" Aimee called, ushering the two of together under the shade of one of the huge potted plants.
"Pale and nervous is your best look, love," she said, grinning. "Now shut up and smile. Your mum will want before and after pictures. Everyone else will too."
God, everybody else. Gemma was recording them with her phone. He wrapped an arm around Harry's shoulders, posing for a picture. Harry leaned into his side.
"You all right?"
Harry smiled at him. "Best I've ever been," he said, eyes bright, and Nick wanted to swallow down this stupid sob that was caught in his throat, but he couldn't. He managed to smile instead, eyes wet.
"Oh, none of that," Gemma said. "You'll set me off and then the video will be all shaky. Mum'll kill me." Her smile looked wobbly though, and Nick suspected that none of them were going to get through this with their dignity intact.
"We'll get started, then," Ramona said. "How about we have the grooms here, and you lovely young ladies over here." She smiled. "Ready?"
Nick squeezed Harry's hand. He nodded. Harry glanced at him, grinning.
"Yeah," Harry said. "Ready."
Ramona beamed. "Welcome," she said. "Welcome, Nick and Harry, and welcome, Aimee and Gemma. We're here to celebrate the wedding of Nicholas and Harry, and the lifelong commitment they've decided to embark upon together.
"No ceremony can create your marriage. Only the two of you can do this, through love and perseverance and communication and mutual support." She glanced down at her notes, and smiled. "Through ridiculous playlists and shared sweaters and cooking adventures."
Nick bit down on his lip. Harry was looking at him. "My playlists aren't ridiculous."
"Mine are," Harry said. His smile looked a little watery, eyes shining. "Our cooking's definitely adventurous."
"Pies are hard, all right." Nick slipped his hand into Harry's, and squeezed. Harry clung to him with an iron grip.
Ramona was smiling at them. "The two of you have always supported one another, through distance near and far, and this is one more step along the pathway you've chosen to walk together. Along the way you'll have to learn patience, and forgiveness, and how to keep hold of the important things and let go of the rest. Today, in front of Aimee and Gemma, you're proclaiming your desire to love and be loved without limitation, to support and be supported, to grow both as individuals and as a couple, and to make the journey together."
Nick let out a breath. Harry was crying, just a little, just enough to set Nick off. He rolled his eyes even as he rubbed at them with his fist. "Shut up," he whispered, but Harry just held on to his hand even tighter.
"And so I ask you, Nick, will you take Harry to be your husband?"
Nick was nodding even before Ramona finished speaking. "Course," he said, clearing his throat. "Course I will."
Harry was staring at him, eyes so fucking bright it pretty much hurt to look at him. Nick wasn't ever, ever going to look away.
"And you, Harry. Will you take Nick to be your husband?"
"Yes," Harry said. His voice caught. Nick shifted so that he was covering both of Harry's hands with his own. They were both shaking.
They'd talked for so long about vows, about what they wanted to say to each other, about what this moment might look like. It wasn't like either of them was short of something to say. They just… didn't want to say it now. There were some things that they were saving for their friends and family. There were things they just wanted to say to each other. Harry smiled at him.
"Do you promise," Ramona went on, "to love one another, to respect, listen, honour and forgive, so long as you both shall live?"
Forever was the longest time. Right now, it didn't feel like long enough.
"I do," Nick said, as Harry echoed him, and oh god, oh god, they were getting married.
"The rings," Ramona said, and Aimee passed them over, the little velvet bag that Harry had brought with him from L.A. They'd picked the designs out together, two platinum rings, one plain, one with an etched wave pattern picked out across it. Harry had tried to push for one for him with diamonds on it, and it had been beautiful, but hardly easy to pass off as anything other than a wedding ring. Next time, perhaps. These two were fairly plain, beautiful but easy enough to hide in a handful of rings and bracelets. Easy enough to wear on a chain, should the situation call for it. The plain one was Nick's, and the etched one was Harry's. His went on easily, but Harry's hand was shaking so much that Nick could barely get the ring over his knuckle.
"Sorry," Harry told him, but Nick just shook his head. He didn't care. He kept staring down at their hands, at his ring on Harry's finger.
Ramona cleared her throat. She was beaming. "I now pronounce you husband and husband. You may kiss—"
Harry was reaching for him even before she'd finished speaking, cupping Nick's face in his hands, pulling him in. Nick was the one trembling now, hands shaking as he kissed Harry back, hissing in a breath as he wrapped Harry up into a hug.
"Love you," Harry told him, and Nick knew he was saying it back but he felt too dazed to take it all in. He squeezed his eyes shut, hugging Harry harder.
Married. Married. Fuck.
They were interrupted by Aimee whooping and wrapped her arms around them both. "Smoochy stuff later," she told them. "Smile for Gemma and then she can stop filming."
Gemma was crying, holding her phone out. "For Mum," she said, and Nick slipped his arm around Harry's waist as Harry tugged him into his side.
"Love you, Mum," Harry said. "And Eileen, right? We're going to send it to Eileen?"
"Eileen and Anne," Nick said, and he knew he must sound vaguely dazed. "Love you." He wasn't sure who he was telling.
"We'll call you soon," Harry said, but Gemma was already putting her phone down and rushing forward to wrap her arms around Harry. Aimee did the same with Nick.
"I could kill you for not telling me," Aimee said, but she was hugging the life out of him, and he was hugging back. "Oh god," she said. "You're fucking married."
"I am," Nick said. "I bloody am." He let go of Aimee to hug Gemma, then Ramona, then Harry. He couldn't stop touching Harry, who was smiling so brightly he looked like the fucking sun, eyes shining, suit glinting in the sunlight.
"Pictures," Aimee said. "Let's get some pictures."
The next few minutes passed in a daze, Nick just trying to kiss Harry whenever and however he could, pictures on both the terraces and with Ramona and with Aimee and then with Gemma. Ramona took some of them on all together, the four of them, and then Nick and Harry left Gemma and Aimee outside with the snacks whilst they went inside to finalise the paperwork with Ramona. Harry's lawyer — well, Nick's lawyer as well for the purposes of today — was meeting Ramona downstairs so that they could go and file the paperwork and make it all legal. They needed some extra papers for the additional legalities of having their marriage recognised in the UK, and one of the great fucking things about having money was that someone else was sorting these, and Nick and Harry didn't need to waste a second of their weekend queuing endlessly at City Hall.
And then— and then, Ramona had to leave to meet their lawyer.
"I'm very happy to have met you all," she told them, shaking Aimee and Gemma's hands as well before turning back to Nick and Harry. "I wish the two of you every happiness."
"Thank you so much," Nick told her, even as Harry was kissing her on both cheeks. Nick followed. She smelt like flowers. "It was perfect."
She smiled at them as the lift doors opened. "Enjoy the rest of your vacation."
"We will," Harry said, and Aimee waited until the doors had closed after her before whacking Harry on the arm with her bag.
"Oh my god," she said, tugging him into a hug. "You went and got fucking married. You managed to get this one to commit."
"Oi," Nick said mildly. "I can commit."
"You can't commit to a pair of shoes for the day. This is a fucking miracle, Grim."
"Hey," Harry said. "Don't talk to my husband like that."
"Oh, Christ," Nick said. He couldn't stop fucking smiling. Harry's hand was sweaty in his. "We're married."
"Can't get out of it now," Harry said. He grabbed his phone from his jacket pocket, holding it out for a picture. Harry wasn't really one for selfies, not like Nick, who had about a million pictures of himself on his phone, always trying to get the best angle. This time, though, Harry was holding out his phone and resting his chin on Nick's shoulder and beaming. "Smile," he said, and even though it probably wasn't possible for Nick to smile any more than he already was, he gave it his best shot.
"Happy?" Nick asked, and he meant with the picture, but Harry just looked at him like he was stupid.
"Happiest I've ever been," he said, and Nick ignored Aimee's ridiculous aww and Gemma's hiccuped oh my god, and pulled him into another hug.
"Same," Nick said, squeezing his eyes shut. "Fucking same."
They shared out the rest of the bottle of champagne after that, Aimee settling for a sniff of Nick's and more of the orange juice for herself. Harry kept his hand in Nick's the whole time, his wedding ring a warm reminder that they were fucking married, and Nick's insides felt like they might be fucking floating away without his permission.
Aimee settled into the recliner next to them, the terrace sun-warmed and beautiful, the plants all gently moving in the breeze. Gemma was in the kitchen, finding them something to eat.
"So," Aimee said, as Gemma came out with a bowl of strawberries and the remains of the Hobnobs. "What's the deal? Who can we tell?"
Harry glanced at Nick. His skin was flushed. He looked happy. "I think… we kind of want to do the telling," he said. "Right?"
Nick nodded. "Like, Ian and Michal, yeah, course. But everyone else. Us."
"What are you going to do next?" Gemma asked. "Because, like, people are going to find out. You can't keep this secret."
"I know," Harry said. "But, like, it's going to be ours for a bit first. And if it comes out, it comes out."
There'd be more than just their wedding coming out when the papers got a hold of this, Nick knew, but he was going to think about that later. Today, he just got to think about them.
"You sure?" Gemma asked.
Harry shrugged. "Got a husband, haven't I? And I'm in love with him. It's no one's business but ours."
It was a dream, they both knew it, but it didn't hurt to pretend it was true for a while.
"Tell me again how much you love me," Nick said, wrapping an arm around Harry's waist and hooking his chin over Harry's shoulder. He was way too warm in his suit but he couldn't bear to move inside unless he had to.
Harry didn't roll his eyes. "My best friend, aren't you?" he said, and Nick had kind of been joking, just like always, but Harry looked serious. Desperately happy, but serious. "Trust you with my life, I would."
"God," Nick said softly, breath catching. "Same."
"Ugh," Aimee said. "Is this what it's going to be like now? Endless declarations? I'm going to have to chuck myself off a cliff."
"Deal with it," Nick said, trying to poke her in the side without taking his eyes off of Harry's face. He was flushed and a little freckled and there was a bit of a spot on his chin, but to Nick he was perfect. And so terribly, desperately, legally married to Nick. Oh, holy fuck.
"Oh my god," Aimee said. "Look at them. I don't know how they managed to keep it secret from us all this time. They're never going to manage to keep it secret from anyone else. Just look at them."
Harry was grinning at that, biting at his lip, eyes bright. It was contagious, Nick smiling back. He laughed, ducking his head.
"Right, that's it." Aimee leaned over and kissed the top of Nick's head. "We're out of here, aren't we, Gemma? Any longer and you'll be having sex right in front of us, and none of us are ever getting past that."
"You once had sex in the same hotel room as me," Nick pointed out. "Mallorca, 2013. I remember."
"You were getting your dick sucked on the balcony, as far as I remember," Aimee said, "so don't throw stones."
"Oh my god," Gemma said.
Aimee tucked her hand into the curve of Gemma's elbow. "I'll tell you all the details if you want. Even then Nick was bringing Harry-a-likes home."
Nick went bright red. "I don't remember that guy. How can you remember that guy?"
"Because they were all Harry in one way or another," Aimee said. She winked at Harry. "But now you've got the real thing. Finally. The rest of us can stop taking bets on whether the two of you are ever going to get it on."
"Nah," Harry said, shifting so that he could rest his cheek against Nick's shoulder. "You've got insider knowledge. You should take a bet that we already have done, then clean up."
"Someone's got to keep Sunday in the style to which she's become accustomed," Aimee agreed. "On a scale of one to ten, how much do you want the two of us to fuck off right now and leave you to it?"
Nick made a face. "A five, maybe?"
Harry grinned, and rubbed his nose against Nick's neck.
"That's never a five," Aimee said. "That's a nine and a half. The only reason you're not shagging right now is because of us."
Nick, quite carefully, didn't say a word. Neither did Harry.
Gemma rolled her eyes. "That's a mental image that's not going to go away."
Aimee laughed. "When are you coming back to London?"
"Monday," Nick said.
"Soon," Harry said, and Nick refused to give in to the way his chest tightened at the thought of being apart again. They'd done it so many times. They were used to it. They could do it again.
"Are we having a party?" Aimee asked.
Nick glanced at Harry. "Haven't decided yet." There were all sorts of things to think about. Their marriage getting out, the fall out, their families and friends and Harry's career.
"Course we are," Harry said, teeth nipping at Nick's throat. "And then there'll be the wedding."
"Morning suits and bridesmaids," Gemma said.
God, morning suits. Maybe they wouldn't go traditional. Aimee was already Nick's best man, after all.
He'd always sort of thought his dad would be there when he got married. He'd never really imagined being married and him not being there to see it. He leaned a little closer into Harry. Sweat was starting to make his shirt damp. They really hadn't thought their outfits out.
"It means a lot that you were here," he said finally. He was talking to Aimee, but he meant Gemma too. "I'm glad you were here this weekend."
Aimee leaned in and pressed a kiss to his forehead. It was probably sweaty and awful. "Wouldn't have missed it for the world."
"Same," Gemma said, and she bumped her knuckles into Harry's. "Same."
Saying goodbye was the same palaver it always was, a mess of hugs and trying to figure out when they'd next see each other, Gemma refusing to leave until she'd got Nick's promise that they could catch up later in the week, once they were both back in London.
"Pinky promise," Nick said, although there was a possibility that he'd just signed up for an interrogation of sorts, and then there were more pictures of the four of them, arms wrapped around each other and Harry's camera set up on its little stand in the atrium with the water feature behind them. Then Gemma stealing the camera to take pictures of both of them, Nick cupping Harry's face in his hands and kissing him again and again.
Then they were gone, disappearing into the lift with handbags and scarves trailing, slices of cake in their hands, both of them shouting their congratulations even as the doors closed behind them. And it was just the two of them, alone. Married.
"So," Nick said, just on the off chance Harry had changed his mind. "Mr Grimshaw."
"Mr Styles," Harry said, slipping an arm around Nick's waist. His eyes were bright. At least it was cooler in here with the air conditioning on than it had been outside in the morning heat. "You married me."
"You married me, you mean," Nick said. Harry's smile was infectious, and Nick could feel the heat of it, right down to his toes. "How do you want to spend our first day together?"
"Been thinking about that," Harry said. His mouth quirked. "I mean. You look very handsome."
Harry was already slipping his hands under Nick's jacket, sliding it off of Nick's shoulders. "Very handsome. That said, I'm pretty sure that the only thing I want you wearing right now is your wedding ring."
Nick grinned. "Naked, huh?"
"Not naked," Harry said. "Married."
Nick laughed. "How about you let me take you to bed, Mr Grimshaw?"
"I'll get the champagne if you get the fruit platter."
"You're on," Nick said, and managed to hold off kissing him again for the two minutes it took them to stop by the kitchen on the way to the bedroom.
It was later when Nick cautiously attempted to bring up from here on in. They were outside on the terrace, Harry naked except for his monogrammed robe, Nick resplendent in his underwear. Harry had pulled up one of the chairs to the side of the bed-sized loungers where Nick was hanging out, and he sat down in the seat and put his feet on the bed so he could poke his toes into Nick's ankles. The angle gave Nick a rather overwhelming view of Harry's balls.
"Like what you see?" Harry asked with a waggle of his eyebrows.
Nick did, in fact, like what he could see. He'd just come off the back of two orgasms and some wedding cake, though, so he wasn't that inclined to do anything about it for the next few minutes. Anyway: the future.
"Passable," he said. "On the bollock scale, you're pretty close to the top."
Harry grinned at him, shifting position a bit so that he could wrap his hand around Nick's ankle. This angle was more dick and less balls. Nick couldn't decide whether that was more or less distracting. "Glad to hear it. Who's beating me?"
"Wouldn't you like to know," Nick smiled. "There's a lot we haven't talked about, you know."
"Like, when am I going to see you next?"
"Tour starts soon."
"I know," Nick said. It wasn't like he hadn't thought about Harry's schedule. He just hadn't allowed himself to fret over it. He and Harry hadn't ever been in the same place for any length of time. There was no reason that getting married was going to change either of their jobs or their commitments.
"In three weeks," Harry said. "I've got stuff this week, and things the final week, but in the middle I was going to…" He stopped. "Come home. I was going to come home."
"Home," Nick said carefully. "Where's that?"
"With you," Harry said. "It just means you."
Nick tried to smile. It maybe felt a bit wobbly. His insides definitely felt more than a bit wobbly. "You old softy."
"That's me," Harry said, running his thumb over the inside of Nick's ankle. So quietly intimate it made Nick shiver. "And, um, I don't know if you could, or anything, but I'm playing a Saturday night in Boston. Like, a month away. You think you could come out? I think my mum's going to be there."
Nick nodded. "I'd love to," he said. "I mean. If I haven't got anything booked in that I can't move." He'd need to get his PA to check and see. God. They'd probably need to get their PAs to coordinate their diaries. Fucking hell. He'd have to up her hours.
"I've, um, been looking at all the dates and everything. And planning. There's a show on the Thursday night too, before Boston, in New York. You'd have to, like, take time off, though, and I don't know if you could."
Just the idea of Harry sitting down with his dates and trying to fit Nick into his life made Nick want to drop everything to fit it in. But that was what it was going to be from here on in: not just the push and pull of a friendship carried on despite all the obstacles for years, but something more than that. Them, married, in love, wanting it to work. "I'll try. Dunno, though."
Harry's smile was warm. "It'd be great if you could, but you know, it's all right. If it's just the Boston show. I just want you to come and see me that one night. After Boston, I've got another couple of weeks of touring here, before Europe." He kept stroking Nick's ankle. "Then ten days off."
"Ten days, huh," Nick said, over the sound of his heart beating. "Got plans?"
Harry gave up touching him then, and clambered over him to straddle him instead. "Might do," he said. "Got this hot husband I want to see."
"Huh," Nick said, stroking his hands up Harry's thighs. "Have you now?"
"I have," Harry said, leaning in to press his mouth to the underside of Nick's jaw. "Then I'm playing in London. You know. If you were around."
Nick made a face. "Might be busy. Other husbands, you know."
Harry made a sound which Nick interpreted as jealousy. It settled happily in his chest. He tilted his chin up, sliding his hands into the small of Harry's back.
"We're getting distracted," Nick said. "We haven't talked about where we're going to live, for a start."
Harry sat back on his heels. His brow was furrowed. "Where do you think we're living?"
"Um, dunno," Nick said. "Just thought, like, we'd see each other as much as we could, or whatever." He'd tried not to make too many plans, which, looking back, might not have been the best way for them to start married life. He was still scared of the fragility of what they had. That throwing spanners in the works might not help. He was always a bit of a coward where Harry was concerned. Take what he was given and don't ask for more.
"I'm moving in with you," Harry said. "I kind of already have, if I'm honest. I sort of thought you'd noticed?"
"Well, yeah, like, when you're in London, you've been at mine the past few weeks, but—" He shrugged. "I thought it was a nice habit, you coming back to mine."
Harry leaned in and rubbed his nose over Nick's. "We're going to get better at this," he said. "We're going to, like, talk about shit and stuff."
"All right," Nick said, his heart pounding, because Harry was making space for him in his life, concession after concession, and Nick wanted to do the same. "Seems like a plan."
"It does, doesn't it?" Harry flopped down half on top of him, and poked at one of Nick's nipples. "I just thought, like, you're based in London for work, and I'm not always, but there are things I can do in LA or in London, so I'll pick London where I can, and we'll just take it from there."
"You've got a place in London, though. It's bigger than mine."
"And you like yours better than you like mine." Harry shrugged a shoulder, but didn't stop poking at Nick's nipple. "You're going to be in it more than me, and the dogs like it, and we can talk about somewhere else later on, if you want. Somewhere that's ours."
"Oh christ," Nick said. "You're a doggy stepdad now. We're going to have to sit them down and give them The Talk. The Daddy doesn't love you any the less now that someone else has moved in talk. How do you think they'll take it?"
Harry buried his face in Nick's chest. "I love you," he said.
"Do you think they do doggy therapy?" Nick asked, sliding his hands into Harry's hair. He kissed the top of his head. God, they were married. They were married.
"Maybe," Harry said, rubbing his cheek over Nick's chest. "We can show them the wedding video. Make them feel like they were here."
"Yeah," Nick said, and tried not to think about his dad, who wouldn't ever get a chance to watch him get married. He swallowed. "We need to ring our mums."
Harry didn't move, but he laced his hand with Nick's. "Yeah," he said. "In a minute."
Nick nodded. "In a minute," he agreed, and they stayed there for a bit longer, wrapped up in each other, married, and in love.
A minute turned into another minute, then half an hour whilst they went in to find clothes suitable for talking to their mums in. Harry was half convinced he should put his wedding suit back on, but Nick suspected he was just stalling.
"Do you want me to ring her?" Nick asked finally. He'd chosen a new t-shirt and a pair of loose yoga shorts, which was more than Harry had. He was still bollock naked in his Versace robe, rooting through his bag. "Cos I can. Love your mum, I do."
"Do you want to?" Harry asked. He looked a bit relieved. "Just like say hi and stuff."
"Got it," Nick said. He threw one of his t-shirts at Harry's head. "Wear this. Put some pants on. Your mum doesn't need to see your meat and two veg."
"It's just a body," Harry said, pulling Nick's t-shirt over his head. Nick really, really liked Harry in his clothes. Getting to make him wear them was a new and exciting benefit to marrying him. "We've all got them."
"Is this what it's going to be like now we're married? You with your bollocks out at all times?" God, they were married. Married.
"Free and easy, that's what I like," Harry said. "Anyway it's not like she hasn't seen it before."
"Yeah, but like, maybe not today, all right?"
"Suppose," Harry said. He rolled his eyes but he was grinning. "Go on. Let's do this. You ring her and I'll be out in a minute."
Nick blew him a kiss, for no other reason than he fucking could, and headed out of the bedroom to find somewhere to sit outside. He picked one of the comfier chairs to settle in, and scrolled to Anne's name in his contacts so he could FaceTime his mother-in-law. Fucking hell.
She answered after a few rings. "Nicholas," she said, smiling at him as it connected. The WiFi here was amazing, it was well better than his internet at home, even though he was outside. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"
"Missed your face, didn't I?" he said, grinning. She was in her kitchen, sitting at the kitchen table, the familiar counters behind her. There was a cat in her lap and a cup of tea and a magazine just in view.
"Uh-huh," she said. She laughed. "Believe that when I see it. Sunny where you are, isn't it, love?"
"I'm in New York."
"What are you doing there? Our Gemma's there, you know. Weekend with Michal. You could catch up if you've got time."
"Saw her this morning, actually," he said.
"Oh yeah? She kept that one quiet."
Nick swallowed. Harry was coming outside. He was still in his robe, but at least he'd a t-shirt and boxers underneath. He looked a little hesitant, but also kind of excited. Nick was too. "Yeah," he said. "There's someone else who's here as well. Someone who wanted to say hello."
"Have you got her there?"
"It's not Gemma," Nick said softly, and swivelled the phone around so that it was pointed in Harry's direction. "It's the other one."
"Harry, love? What are you doing there?"
"Hiya, Mum," Harry said, and Nick handed the phone over to him.
"Where are you? It looks gorgeous. You didn't tell me you were seeing Grimmy this weekend. Did you see Gemma as well? How's things, darling?"
"Didn't tell anyone I was seeing Nick this weekend. And things are good, Mum," Harry said. He glanced at Nick. There was a smile there, soft and warm and Nick's. "Better than good, really."
"That's nice to hear."
"We've got some news, actually," Harry went on. He sat down on the couch next to him. Nick couldn't hide his smile now, and he was pretty sure Harry wouldn't be able to either.
"What kind of news?"
"The good kind," Harry said, and he leaned into Nick's side. He was beaming. Nick slid an arm around his waist, out of sight of the camera, and he could feel Harry trembling, but his smile didn't let up for even the briefest of moments. "The best kind, actually," he said, and then he kissed Nick on the cheek.
"Oh," Anne said softly. "Oh, boys."
Nick stole a look at the phone screen. She was smiling, hand to her mouth.
"Since when?" she asked. "It does— it is what it looks like, right? You and Nick?"
Harry looked like he might cry again. He nodded. "Me and Nick," he said. "Me and Nick."
"How long's this been going on?"
"Few weeks," Harry said softly. "And it's really good, Mum. But it's not… it's not the only reason I called."
"Then what? Oh gosh, Harry. Nick. I'm so happy for you both. You both look so happy."
"We are," Nick said. God, he was. He was the happiest he'd ever been in his life, because it was his wedding day, and he'd married the love of his fucking life, but it didn't stop being scared in this moment. This moment where everything changed.
"I'm so glad for you both," Anne said. "So, tell—"
"We got married, Mum," Harry said quickly. "We got married this morning."
"Oh, gosh," Anne said, her voice catching. "What?"
"This morning. Nick and I got married," Harry said. He slipped his hand into Nick's, squeezing.
"For real? Like, officially and everything?"
"My lawyer's filing the papers at City Hall now," Harry said. He was still shaking, but he was leaning into Nick's side and smiling at his mum. "It's all legal and official. We're going to do it again, for everyone, with everyone," he went on. "Have a big ceremony. Have everybody we love there. We just—" He glanced at Nick. "I couldn't waste a day, Mum. Not a single day."
Anne was crying. "Oh, Harry," she said. "Oh, my boys."
"Please, please don't be sad," Harry said. "Please."
"Do I look sad?"
"You're crying," Harry said.
"I don't think I've ever seen either of you look this happy," she said. "Of course I wish I was there. Of course I do. I never want to miss a single second of either you or Gemma's lives. I want to be there for all of it, the meaningless moments and the meaningful. But after everything we've all been through—"
Harry was crying now. Nick kissed his cheek.
"You take every single day that you can," Anne said. "You don't miss a moment, do you hear me? Not one single moment."
"Takes ages to plan a wedding," Nick said. He was sniffling too. He didn't like to cry. "It just— it just seemed like too long to wait to be together when we could be together now, and still have a huge flipping party. Everyone we love."
"You've loved him for ages," Anne said. She'd got tissues from somewhere, and was blowing her nose into a wad of autumnal shades. "I know you have."
"I kept that secret," Nick said. He tried for outraged and ended up somewhere around mildly surprised.
Anne laughed at that. "You didn't, love," she said. "You wrote it in the fucking stars."
"Mum," Harry said. "Don't swear."
"And you," she said, still crying. "You've loved him since you were sixteen. How on earth could I be sad that you've finally been honest with each other?" She blew her nose again. "You've waited long enough. You are going to let me help plan the party, though, right?"
"You can help plan the whole ceremony," Nick said. "You and my mum."
"Does Eileen know yet?"
Nick shook her head. "She's up next."
"Tell her to ring me after," Anne said. "Us mother-in-laws have to stick together."
"An unstoppable force," Nick said. "There's a video. We can send you it."
"Do," she said. "Then I'll see if your mum wants to come over, or I'll drive to her in the morning. We'll watch it together."
All of a sudden Nick wanted to weep. "Raise a glass to absent friends," he said. "You will, won't you?"
"Of course we will," she said. "They would have been so happy for you, you know."
"Do you think?" Nick asked. His dad had never really been one for weddings.
"Yes," Anne said. She took another tissue. "I promise you."
Nick nodded. Harry's hand was tight in his. "Thank you," he said. He sniffed. He didn't have a tissue, but Harry produced one out of the pocket of his robe. A millionaire in a designer monogrammed robe and he still had a disposable packet of Kleenex to hand. Of course he did.
"If there's one thing I've learnt," Anne said, "it's that we fight and we fight just to stay alive sometimes. I think the two of you finding each other, it's special. We don't always get to be with the person we love. Be together and fuck everyone else, do you hear me? And then you come home to your family and we'll celebrate. We'll celebrate all the people who've made you into the people you are today, all right? It'll be the best day ever."
"You're one hell of a mother-in-law," Nick said, trying not to cry too much. It was a lost cause.
"I'm going to try," she said. "Now, will you go and ring your mum, please, Nicholas? I feel bad that I know and she doesn't."
"Ay-ay," Nick said.
"I love you, Mum," Harry said.
"Love you right back, darling," Anne said. "Both of you. And send me that video."
Afterwards, when Eileen had cried down the phone and they'd sent the video to both their mothers and promised to call in the morning, they stood on the terrace where they'd got married that morning, and watched New York carry on just as it always did beneath them.
"Do you mind?" Nick asked, leaning over the railings. "Do you mind the idea of people knowing?"
"Knowing that I married you? No. I'm proud, aren't I? That I've got you. That I'm with you."
Nick bumped his hip against Harry's. "It'll change things, though, won't it? Your fans, and stuff."
Harry shrugged. "Maybe," he said. "But it won't change me."
"It's not going to be a walk in the park."
Harry smiled at him. "I think," he said, "I've spent a long time getting to know me. Figuring out who I am. Getting to be who I want to be. Sometimes I realise you don't get how much it meant to me, being friends with you. Meeting your friends. Letting me be me. Watching them be exactly who they are, you know? Sometimes I don't think you know how meeting you changed my life."
"Shut up," Nick said.
"No," Harry said. He slipped his hand into Nick's. "You think, like, that I'm settling. That I could have anybody, and that fact that this might be difficult means it won't be worth it. But I don't want anybody. I don't want anything that isn't you. When people find out I'm married to you, like, if we tell them or if they find out, I don't care. I'm so proud of being with you. I'm so happy because I look at you and I think, you gave me the freedom to be who I am. And you gave me a chance when I didn't know if you would. You took a chance on me. You're still taking one, and I swear I won't let you down. I swear it."
Nick had cried too much for one day. "When you do come out, how do you want to do it?"
Harry shrugged again. "Thought we might be walking the dogs," he said. "You and me. Thought I might just walk down the road holding your hand."
"Both in a wedding ring," Nick said. He turned Harry's hand palm up, and stroked his thumb over Harry's ring.
Harry grinned at him. "Both in a wedding ring. Let them figure it out. I don't care when. We don't owe anyone anything."
"Walking on the wild side," Nick said softly. "I see how it is."
"The Styles-Grimshaws are married," Harry said. "Let the world try and fuck with us. We'll come out fighting."
Nick tried to affect some kind of kung-fu pose. It didn't go well.
Nick pulled a face and leaned back against the wall. The terrace was gorgeous, all plants moving gently in the breeze, shady corners and leafy raised beds. It really was the most hopelessly beautiful place Nick could ever have imagined to get married in. Harry had done good.
"Dance with me," Harry said.
"You owe me a first dance," Harry said. He held out his hand.
"There isn't any music."
Harry rolled his eyes, and tugged out his phone.
"What, first song on shuffle's our dance?"
"Nah," Harry said, as he messed about with his phone and then suddenly, all around them, speakers came to life. "Some of us read the apartment useful information."
"Some of us had better things to do," Nick said, slipping his hand into the small of Harry's back. "What did you pick for us?"
"The Weight," Harry said, as the song started to play. He dropped his phone down onto one of the tables, and looped his arms around Nick's neck. "Hey mister, can you tell me, where a man might find a bed?"
Nick pulled him closer, burying his face in Harry's neck for a moment. He never was any good at dancing. It didn't seem to matter. Neither was Harry. "We'll come out fighting."
"We will," Harry agreed, kissing him, and around them, the music played on.