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"How much time can you give us?" Zayn discreetly asked the neatly dressed tall man walking beside him, keeping a smile on his face, and a bounce in his walk.

Liam couldn't see him being unstable. Not right now.

"Two hours for each event. Max." The man replied, sounding a tad guilty. "I'm sorry Zayn."

Zayn shook his head briefly, swinging open a deathly pale gate and stepping over the threshold. "It's not your fault, Walter. Besides, that's enough for me." That's enough for us.


***

One month later

5:25 PM

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Zayn was stood at the altar, breathing in the sweet smelling air. The night-blooming jasmines had opened up their whorls, lending a saccharin scent to the entire garden. The murmur of quietly excited guests filled his ears.

He roamed his eyes over to the far end of the white carpet laid out in front of the altar, and located his best men; Louis winked at him with a thumbs-up and a wide smile, while Harry blinked at him tearily, an encouraging tilt to his head.

Zayn inhaled deeply, shifting his gaze back to the aisle, attempting to calm his emotionally overstimulated nerves. A silent, yet joyous disbelief was slowly beginning to cloud his brain. This was happening. This was really happening. He was going to be married to the love of his life! He felt a thin film of tears cover his eyes, and blinked rapidly a couple times, composing himself. It wouldn't do, to cry before Liam even walked out.

He looked up towards the bluish-amber sky tinged with streaks of rose, and congratulated himself mentally.

They'd chosen the perfect time.

Dark clouds were covering up the honey expanse, their outlines lit up by some of the sun's last rays. Aforementioned sun itself was hiding behind a particularly large cloud, lending the garden a dark, lit-from-within look, which was further exaggerated by the golden fairylights that had been placed absolutely everywhere; tied around the legs of the Italian chairs, wrapped in pretty patterns around the willow treetrunks, delicately intertwined with stalks of winding creepers that covered the wooden fences in the distance.

The scene looked like it had been stolen from a fairytale.

The fairylights had been Liam's idea.

"They look like little stars!" Zayn's fiancé had exclaimed, brown irises reflecting the golden lights, as he took in the firefly effect of the little dotted lights. Zayn couldn't have said no to him, not when he looked this happy, and this hopeful. So he'd simply kissed the other man's cheekbone, instructing the wedding planner to check off lots and lots of fairylights.

Deciding a dress code for the wedding had also been Liam's idea. He'd wanted everyone to be dressed in pastels, so the to-be-wedded couple, in their plum velvet suits, and deep gold ties, could stand out.

Zayn watched proudly as the pastel clad groomsmen linked their arms and walked towards him, mentally counting their steps, separating at the final step, and walking towards the opposite sides of the altar.

The tinkling of piano keys carried through the garden, setting the mood for the occasion. Zayn glanced at the musician. A young brunet with a cleft chin and light eyes grinned back at him. Niall.

***


5:30 PM

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The violins had begun to play out a lovely, haunting tune, long notes melding with the starkness of the piano.

The sun was beginning to emerge from behind the large cloud, sending it's golden rays flying out in every direction.

The crowd of their family and friends were all gazing at the white curtains that had been placed at the other end of the aisle. There was a faint rustling in the folds of the lace curtain.

Zayn could feel his heartbeat grow louder with every second that ticked.

The violins were reaching the climax of their melody, putting forth sweet yet sombre trills, and just when he thought he couldn't wait anymore, Zayn saw him.

His heart must have stopped beating, and his lungs must have stopped working, for he couldn't breathe. He couldn't think.

Liam. His Liam, had emerged from behind the lace. The sun, at this exact perfect moment, burst out from behind the clouds completely, dousing Liam in a rain of golden rays. It seemed to Zayn, as though the heavens had split open to deliver their purest angel to him.

How did I get so lucky?

Zayn had expected fireworks, and electricity, but all he felt was an immeasunable sense of calm. He had taken a dive into the deepest, vastest ocean there was, and instead of a dark and suffocating shipwreck, he'd found a kingdom of gold. This was right. This was how it was supposed to be.

He thought he heard the guests and the groomsmen cheer, but he wasn't sure. All he could see, was Liam. Liam's gorgeous hazel eyes, seeking and finding his. Liam's brows, scrunching up with emotion. Liam's lips, the lips Zayn knew so well, smiling sweetly and proudly at him. Every pair of eyes were on the glowing couple, but all they could see, all they wanted to see, was each other.

As his love walked slowly and carefully towards him, escorted by a weeping Mrs. Payne, Zayn dimly wondered if he was dying, because he felt as though he were reliving the best of his life; Liam.

He could feel and remember every moment, every laugh, every kiss he'd shared with Liam.

Meeting Liam in Mc-fucking-Donalds for the first time, and having his knees go weak.

Fondness blossoming in his chest as Liam raved on and on about superheroes, with a bright smile.

Singing to the roaring crowd of thousands together, sharing a knowing smile because they were in love and no one here knew.

Feeling Liam's skin under his lips, and Liam's hands on his waist.

Lying under the stars, professing his love, and seeing Liam's eyes light up.

He remembered Liam getting down on one knee with solemn eyes, and asking Zayn to be his one and only…

And finally, the feeling of completion when Zayn gave in to the tears, whispering a broken yes.

And now. Now, the only man Zayn had ever loved was walking down the aisle towards him, and Zayn was sure he was dreaming with his eyes wide open, because this couldn't be real. His heart was twisting painfully in his chest, and his brain had long stopped working. Liam's eyes were fixed on his own, and neither of them could look away.

This is real.

Everything they'd dreamed of. All those idle nights they'd spent between the sheets, murmuring about the day they would finally be bonded 'till death do them part'. Though Zayn knew that, that had happened the day he'd met Liam.

"I would promise you my heart…" he had told Liam, fiddling with the other man's fingers, eventually bringing them up to his lips- "…but you've had it from the first moment I saw you."

Liam had come to life at that; leaning up and kissing Zayn furiously, hoping to convey all that which mere words couldn't.

And now Liam was standing in front of him, in his plum velvet suit and perfectly styled hair. He felt the calm, grounding love radiating from Liam, the way warmth radiates from freshly ignited embers and he was sure he could hear Liam's heartbeat, recognizing and bleeding into his own.

Zayn felt alight with an emotion he couldn't place. He knew what love was, felt it thrumming in his every vein everytime he looked at Liam… but this? This was something more, something bigger than both of them. This was their souls meeting and melting into each other, creating something that was indestructible. Something that was forever. No matter what happened in the near future.

Their own little infinity.

"You're crying." Liam whispered, red rimmed eyes crinkling up. 

"How did I get so lucky?" Zayn whispered right back. He didn't know if that was an explanation or a simple observation.

Liam's face broke out into a blinding beam, and Zayn felt his lungs wilting, because what even was air and why did anyone need it?

He heard the officiant's opening speech, welcoming the guests, talking about the wedding, talking about their journey together and the love that was born of it… but all he could focus on, was Liam.

"Liam?" He whispered. "You light up my world like nobody else."

Liam's eyes widened and he made a bubbling sound in his throat. A sound Zayn knew too well. A subdued giggle.

It was killing Zayn, not being able to touch his fiancé in any way. He was not used to standing alongside Liam, without any physical contact. Liam, with his fidgety fingers, and the way he was gazing at Zayn, seemed to be dealing with the same problem.

Vaguely in his mind, he thought he heard the officiant say something about 'a ground-breaking love', and while usually he would have rolled his eyes, or laughed at such a statement; today, on the day of his wedding, keeping his sappiness (and tears) in was proving to be a little bit difficult, though glancing at Liam, he was relieved to see that he was not the only one battling through overwhelming sentiments.

A few moments later (or was it a few eternities?) the officiant addressed Liam and Zayn themselves. Liam seemed to paying a great deal of attention to the officiant as he spoke, but Zayn would be lying if he said he heard a single word. His breathing got unsteady and his knees weak, as he realized what was coming next. The vows. So he waited.

"This evening may mark one of the most important days of both of your lives." The officiant said, smiling genuinely. "There is only one thing that exists in this infinite universe, that can outlast time itself. Only one thing that is heavier and more meaningful than all our collective tragedies, all our collective history. Love. In a cynical world that questions the workings of fate, and doubts the existence of pure, unconditional love, you two have won at life. You have found that love."

He looked at both Liam and Zayn in turns, a very particular look in his eye; the look of a man who had witnessed the birth of something beautiful too many times to count, yet not enough times to have had his fill of it.

"Love is not something that is granted, or can be expected. It is something that must be developed, worked towards. Oftentimes, lovers give up before they reach that paradise. But the ones who have faith, the ones who daren't give up… they discover that which most can only dream of. They discover true love, as the two of you have. Now, Liam, you may proceed with your vows to Zayn." The officiant concluded, stepping back.

Very soon, yet not soon enough, they were facing each other again. Liam's eyes were open wide, and shone with a peculiar light. He gazed at Zayn as if the latter was more beautiful, and more important to Liam than every constellation known to mankind.

The piano was still tinkling in the background, though it's thunderous melody had calmed to something a bit sweeter, a touch wistful.

"Zayn." Liam started, his voice soft, yet well heard in the silence that shrouded the garden. He cleared his throat once, and then twice. Blinking away an emotion that was gone too quick for Zayn to recognize, he continued, speaking slowly-

"Zayn. I found you at a time I had stopped believing. In myself. In the world. In love. I found you, and you made me believe again. You made me see colour when I'd spent my whole life living in the dullest of shadows. All the good in the world, I found in you. Your kindness made me strong, and your strength made me want to live. Not exist, but live... and, to be alive, truly alive, is a privilege few can afford. One I could never afford, before i met you."

Liam stopped, taking in a deep breath. Zayn could feel the tears rolling down his cheeks. He loved Liam. He loved Liam. 

"I know you love books, and you know I was never good with words, so I'll allow myself to steal some words from books you've loved.
"You have been the last dream of my soul, but unlike the story of Sydney and Lucie, this dream doesn't end with nothing. It ends with everything, for you have always been my everything.
"I promise to love you, as ardently as Darcy loved Elizabeth, every day, every moment, until I draw my very last breath.
"I promise to be your best friend, your closest friend, as you have been to me.
"I promise that I will always listen, that I will always be there for you in every way you need me to be."
"I promise to cherish you, celebrate you and celebrate with you every time you are happy and proud.
"I promise to bake you chocolate chip cookies every time you are not- and I pray I wouldn't have to bake many, because you deserve all the happiness the world has to offer. And I am a terrible baker."
"I promise you my faithfulness, and I promise you that while we both live, my heart will never ask for another.
"I promise that you will be my very last thought when I die, and my very first thought in the next life, for you are the only thing that will ever make my life worth living.
"I promise you my life; however long or short it may be, and I promise you that every beat of my heart, and every drop of blood coursing in my veins sings your name, for nothing the universe has to offer will ever be more adored or important to me as you are.
"I promise that no matter how far away I am, no matter how many worlds separate us, I will always watch over you. I will always find a way to protect you.
"And in the words of Achilles himself, 'I promise you that there will never come a day when I regret you, there will never come a day when I wish to be parted from you.' I promise you that our bond will be as steadfast, in life or death, as the bond between Achilles and Patroclus."

Liam released a shuddering breath, breaking eye contact with Zayn and looking down with coloured cheeks.

Every pair of eyes in the garden were watery, including the officiant's. Zayn thought he heard Harry's choked sob from Liam's side.

Zayn was crying. Sobbing. Weeping even. He hadn't breathed the entire time Liam had spoken. Oh Liam.

Unable to tolerate the space between them, Zayn slowly reached out, gently grasping Liam's hand, bringing it up to his lips and placing a soft kiss on the palm. Liam, as though on reflex, turned his hand inward and cupped Zayn's cheek, squeezing the slightest bit before gently bringing it down to his side again.

He wondered if he was imagining the slight tremor in the hands of the pianist. He wondered if Liam's words could possibly have affected Niall.. or anyone.. half as much as they affected Zayn. Surely not.

"Zayn, you may proceed with your vows to Liam." The officiant spoke gently, smiling a soft smile.

Zayn cleared his throat, and tried to compose himself enough to be able to get a word out. It took him a while.

"Liam. My Liam." He croaked, feeling a tad self conscious. Liam smiled, and the warmth in his eyes gave Zayn the strength to continue.

Taking yet another deep breath to compose what was left of his rational brain, he attempted to continue-

"My Liam. You asked me once, why I call you 'my Liam'. Well, it's because you are my grandest everything. You are the best of me, the purest, truest part of my soul. I love the moon, but she's got nothing on you. I love the stars, and I'd give them up any day because no star, however bright, can bring me the light and the joy you have bought me since that day I met you in McDonald's."

Some of the guests chuckled. Zayn saw his mum wiping at her eyes with a flowery napkin, proud smile on her face.

"Liam, I promise you my heart, but you've had it since the moment I first saw you. You've had it since the moment you first touched me."

Zayn looked up at Liam. At his wide eyes and the hand he'd thrown over his mouth. He remembers. Liam remembered what Zayn had said to him, all those months ago, on a cool September night.

Looking down at the piece of paper in his trembling fingers, he continued-

"I promise you my soul, for it has never yearned for anything ever again, since I got you. You said that I was the last dream of your soul, and I need you to know, now, that you have been the only dream of my soul. The only dream I ever needed.
"I promise to look after you, love you and treasure you for the rest of my life and the for the rest of yours.
"I promise to carry all of you in my heart, no matter how far away you are from me.
"I promise to be honest and dependable. I promise to be your rock, your shoulder to cry on, everytime you need me to be.
"I promise to give you everything I have to offer, for anything that belongs to me, including myself, undeniably belongs to you too.
"I promise to be faithful and present anytime and everytime you call for me."
"I promise that no matter how much we struggle, how many times we argue in the future, I will never abandon you. I will always come back to you. I will always find you, because the only life worth living, is the life I've built around you.
"I promise that when I'm all wrinkly and old, you will remain my first love, my only love. I promise that through health and illness, through sorrows and joy, through life and death, and whatever grief the future holds-" Zayn's voice cracked here, "-I will be yours and yours alone. I will only ever-" his voice gave out entirely, and he put a shaking hand up against his mouth, looking down, shirt soaked with tears. He couldn't breathe anymore, but he had to put this out there, for Liam. Steadying himself, he forced the next lines out, trying, desperately, to let Liam know, just how much he meant them.. "-I will only ever belong to you. I promise to love you till the end of time."

There was a resounding silence in the garden.

Zayn exhaled.

Liam's eyes were widened and his brows were scrunched in that one particular way that indicated presence of tremendous emotion. There were dried tear strains on his cheeks, yet his lovely hazel eyes were still wet. He was sniffling. No wait, that was the officiant.

Zayn gave Liam a watery smile, squeezing his hands softly.

"Baby." Liam whispered, nearly inaudible.

"It's alright." Zayn told him quietly, hooking both their pinkies together, though neither of them were sure of the reason for consolation.

Slowly, very very slowly, a sweet smile stretched over Liam's face, and Zayn's heart hurt.

Some of the guests were crying, while others watched on with suspiciously shiny eyes. Amongst the best men, Harry was definitely sobbing, beaming at Liam and Zayn, while Louis worriedly glanced over at Harry, from Zayn's side. Zayn thinks he saw Louis discreetly swipe at the corner of his eyes.

The officiant declared the importance of wedding rings, then summoned Zayn's and Liam's respective best men; Louis and Harry to deliver the rings.

The rings were matching; a wide strip of platinum circled by delicate silver leaves, with two small moonstones embedded into the platinum. On the inside of both rings, finely inscribed were the following words; till the end of time.

After the rings and the 'I do's had been exchanged (which went spectacularly similar to the vows; Liam and Zayn crying through all of it), the officiant announced that they may share their first kiss as a newly wedded couple, to seal the promises each of them had made.

Liam slowly stepped forward and put a finger under Zayn's chin, tilting his head up, while Zayn snaked his arms around Liam's waist, tugging him closer. They shared one last intimate look, before leaning forward and sealing their lips together, solidifying their marriage.

There were cheers and laughter and wolf whistles (mostly from Louis and Niall).

Zayn held on to Liam for a very long time after the kiss, burying his face in his husband's neck, while Liam hooked his chin over Zayn's shoulder and rubbed slow circles on his shoulder blades. They were both in similar states of a dazed disbelief.

The officiant offered words of congratulations, and the guests cheered and cheered and cheered, and he thought he heard his family crying and Niall whooping somewhere in the distance, but it was all a faint ringing in his ears. He didn't need anything, no pretty words meant anything now. He had Liam. That's all he'd ever needed to breathe.

Liam was still holding him, strong and stable, still rubbing circles on his back, his lips still by Zayn's ear. Zayn could feel every intake of air, every exhale through Liam's lips as clearly as a hurricane. The only kind of hurricane Zayn wouldn't mind losing himself in.

I won't mind.

He remembered the words of a song he'd sang once upon a time, when he'd been young, and heartbroken, believing that Liam could never truly, openly be his. And now, a decade later, here they were. The fans would've gone wild with joy and tears if they knew this was happening now. But he didn't care about them now. How could he? When the one true love of his life was holding him right now, on the very altar they'd just gotten wedded on. Married. For life.

Liam was singing softly, his voice reverberating against Zayn's soul.

"I have loved you since we were eighteen.."

God.

"Liam we're married." He murmured.

"Hmm?"

Feeling a sudden rush of adrenaline overtake him, Zayn broke out from Liam's neck, grasping the other man by the shoulders, and more or less yelled at his face.

"WE'RE MARRIED!!!!!"

"That was kinda the point babe." Liam laughed, tucking a loose strand of Zayn's hair behind his ear. He gazed at Zayn as though Zayn was made of gold. As though Zayn was the special one. Zayn sighed once before excitement overtook him again.

"But we're married! We're married! Wedded!" He gasped as a certain piece of information crossed his mind. The shock rapidly morphed into giddiness.

"You're my husband." Zayn informed Liam smugly, a proud smirk on his love-drunk face. "Better get used to me calling you my husband all the time. Because it's going to happen." He told Liam seriously.

"Can't wait."

Zayn wrapped his arms around his husband's (!!!!!!!!) neck, leaning completely against his body. He raised his head, taking a good look at Liam; he looked happy. His features were adorned by that complete, soul-deep contentment that left his lids crinkled, nose scrunched and eyes brighter.

"You're my husband." Zayn informed Liam once again, just to drive the point home.

"Oh yeah? How do you intend to celebrate that?" Liam whispered against his cheek, bringing his face closer to Zayn's.

Zayn grinned lewdly, opening his mouth to answer-

"At least get off the altar before you start fucking!" Louis' voice yelled, a second before Louis himself was crashing into them, attempting a strange combination of a threeway embrace and a threeway wrestle. There was laughter and a confused shriek, that may or may not have belonged to Zayn.

Niall came up behind them too, sans obnoxious crash.

"We've really come this far huh?" Niall mused, still misty eyed. He pulled Louis away from the newlyweds (who then proceeded to pester Zayn with never-ending chatter) and gave Liam a big bear hug, patting him on the back a couple times and whispering a "I'm so happy for both of you." before moving on to Zayn, just as Louis moved on to Liam.

"The piano was sick, mate. Thank you." Zayn told Niall earnestly.

Niall winked. "There was a reason I didn't want you to make me a groomsman. Standing in one place while wearing a stuffy suit.. ugh." He shuddered.

"You're literally wearing a suit right now Niall." Zayn laughed. "Better get used to it. You're engaged. Speaking of which, where's Shawn?"

Niall's eyes widened in horror. "Fuck! I was supposed to help him with the reception bouquets! He's going to kill me!"

"Well you better leave then." Zayn grinned, mirth fuelled by his friend's panic.

"I will. See ya later tonight Zaynie. Love you." Niall kissed Zayn on the cheek sloppily before rushing off to find his fiancé. "And we're getting hammered during the reception." He yelled while jogging away, laugh in his voice. Zayn chuckled. Typical Niall.

As soon as Niall was gone, Louis attacked Zayn again. Zayn didn't really know what was going on, but he was laughing. In midst of their tickle fight, Zayn and Liam found ways to sneak in fond touches, which obviously made Louis fake retch to display his disgust.

"Okay you're married, which is great and everything, but get a room before you start with all that." Louis told them seriously, shaking his head and pointing his finger at the couple.

"I don't remember telling you that when you and Harry fucked on my dinner table!" Liam teased.

Louis gasped, offended, and the tickle fight commenced yet again.

This was just like old times. The three of them messing around, while Harry and Niall, sensibly stayed away.

After a few more minutes of laughter and congratulations had passed, Zayn saw Harry carefully making his way towards the three of them, presumably after helping the cleaners pick up all plastic cups from the garden ground.

"Oh my god. Boys, I love you so much. I'm so proud of you. This reminded me of my wedding." Harry sniffled.

Louis stopped squirming at that, turning towards his husband with the sappiest, most intolerable, most devastatingly disgusting expression on his face. Zayn and Liam shared a look. Zayn pretended to gag, and Liam laughed. Harry and Louis paid them no mind, lost in their gross little bubble-

"The memories... the nostalgia. Remember your vows Lou? I still cry."

Harry sighed dreamily. Liam rolled his eyes, while Zayn tried to control his laughter. These fuckers had been married for thirteen years now, and they were just as disgustingly in love, as they'd been when they'd first met. Then again, looking at himself and Liam, Zayn knew that he had no right to comment on that.

"..but anyways, I'm so goddamn happy for the both of you. God knows you deserve it." Harry tearily informed the besotted couple, pulling Louis out from among them, and attempting to straighten his rumpled suit.

"Aw love you too Haz." Liam said warmly, pulling Harry into a fond embrace.

"Hey what about me?" Louis pouted, turning to Zayn. "Zaynie? You still love me, don't you?"

Zayn laughed, throwing his arms around his best friend excitedly. "Lou I'm married! I'm fucking married!" He exclaimed, pointing towards his wedding ring to emphasize.

"Yeah, finally." Louis rolled his eyes, though he was smiling fondly. "Thank fuck. Dunno if I could have dealt with sexually frustrated Zayn anymore."

"Sexually frustrated Zayn?" Harry questioned, appearing beside them.

"That's right babe. These two decided to cut off sex for a month before the wedding." Louis smirked wickedly, arms circling Harry's waist.

"A month?!" Harry looked at Zayn in horror, before turning to Louis. "We could never do that."

Louis shook his head enthusiastically, looking at Harry adoringly.

Turning back around, Louis looked at Zayn briefly, before capturing him in a more ernest bone-crushing hug. Harry's long arms were soon wrapped around the two of them too.

"Congratulations mate. You deserve this. Both of you do." Louis whispered, as Harry sniffed, holding back tears.… again.

Both of them knew, better than most, how long and hard Zayn and Liam had had to fight for their freedom to love openly. Both of them knew, better than most, how the controlling robot arms of their ex managements had affected their mental health, relationship and lives.

Breaking the quiet moment, Louis untangled himself from Zayn and Harry and whooped. Loudly.

"Now…" Harry grinned, rubbing his abnormally large hands together, "….tell me more about the whole abstaining from sex ordeal. Why didn't I know about this before now? It would have been so entertaining!"

Zayn felt Liam come up behind him (after talking to their families and accepting their congratulations), placing a hand on his lower back. "What are we talking about lads?"

"Your celibacy." Louis said suggestively, waggling his brows, while Harry laughed.

"Oh that." Liam looked at Zayn. "Good thing that's not lasting too long anymore huh husband?"

"Oh no ew gross I'm leaving." Louis gagged, pulling Harry by the hand. "Come on Hazza, let's go bother Niall and Shawny. Please don't have sex on the altar." He added a last time, before carting a snorting Harry away.

Zayn watched them leave with fond eyes and a smile on his face. "I'm so glad we have them".


***

Later that evening

7:46 PM

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"..and at the end here, I want to make a toast" Louis gracefully raised his flute of champagne, smiling softly- "…here's to Zayn and Liam. Here's to the two boys that were scared and unsure; and I would know… I was right there; here's to those boys who believed in each other and fought for their freedom and somehow, somewhere along that path, managed to fall stupidly, pathetically in love." The guests cheered and clapped and cried. Harry was, to no one's surprise, sobbing again, and Louis' eyes were wet as could be. He waited for the guests to quiet down, before slipping in one last sly sentence- "Oh, and by the way, Harry and I are still cuter."

Liam yelled out a "Get out of here, Tommo!" and Zayn giggled, ducking his head and lowering his watery eyes, as their families and friends cooed and clapped. Of course Louis would do this. Of course he would put together a string of pretty words only to ruin it all with a well placed comment to lighten the situation.

Harry's best man speech for Liam had been long and heartfelt and beautiful, filled with gorgeous words and the unique eloquence only Harry possessed. But Louis on the other hand… He somehow managed to call Zayn a dickhead within the first thirty seconds of his speech, then went on spouting these little anecdotes, little moments from Liam and Zayn's history that made everyone laugh, and made Zayn flush with embarrassment.

The dinner passed in a raucous, yet pleasant harmony. The newlyweds were the recipients of laughter and tears and old memories that everyone suddenly seemed to be eager to share... and gifts! A ton of big boxes wrapped up in shiny papers and pretty bows.

Harry and Louis disappeared sometime between the main course and dessert; alternating blue and red lights making it ever so difficult to locate them. Zayn knew that they were probably tearing each other's clothes off in some abandoned bathroom stall somewhere. He knew better than to go looking for them.

And then there was Liam; Liam, who kept his arm looped through Zayn's for hours on end, Liam who refused to leave Zayn's side for even a fraction of a split second. Liam, who was all crinkly eyes and uninhibited smiles and firm hands, who convinced Zayn to ditch their own wedding reception for a grand escape... to the terrace.

And so, here they were, ruining their prim, designer suits; lying under the stars the way they had, all those years ago, when Zayn had first whispered those little three words as a token, a promise, a bright glimmer of hope for their future together.

"Lee?"

"Hmm?"

He knew, just knew, that Liam was thinking about that night too. And so, it was quite inescapable, when he finally said it, in the exact manner he'd said it all that time ago-

"I'm in love with you."

He turned his head to the left, watching a sweet, sweet smile spread over Liam's face.

"I'm in love with you as well. And I don't think there will ever come a day, when those words become a boring routine."

"I sure as fuck hope not. Do you remember that night?"

"Couldn't forget if I wanted to. I didn't sleep that night, you know? Kept thinking about it… playing it over and over in my head. Did I ever tell you?"

"No."

But he had. Many, many times. Everytime they talked about that night, Liam would recount how sleep hadn't come to him that night, and many thereafter; how he'd tossed and turned and wept tears of joy into his pillow and how Niall had finally gotten sick of him, and stormed out of the house, only to return three minutes later.

Everytime, he would ask Zayn if he'd repeated the story one too many times. And every time, every single time, Zayn would say no, if only to hear Liam utter those incredibly validating sentiments just one more time.

Zayn was so in love.


***

8:14 PM

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The crowd grew quiet as they took their positions in the center of the dance floor, a familiar orchestral sound filling every dimly lit corner of the reception venue. Balloons and party streamers were littered everywhere on the dark marble floors. The lights had dimmed down to a a soft golden, catching on every curve of Liam's lips, every crevice of his eyelids, every single eyelash. The surprisingly gentle spotlight was on them; the couple about to have their first dance.

Liam made the first move, reaching forward through what minuscule space was between them, and placing his palm on Zayn's waist, just as Zayn curled his fingers around Liam's lower back. The orchestral sound intensified and Zayn waited for the beat drop, as their free hands clasped around each other. Zayn thought he felt Liam give his hand a brief squeeze.

Throughout the first verse of the song, their song, the song they'd fallen in love to, they swayed slowly, taking smaller steps and keeping their hands steady.

Zayn couldn't stop himself from reliving the day he'd realized he had fallen for Liam, while a very particular melody played on his record player...

It'd been while they were on their second world tour, on one of their days off. Liam had come over to Bus1, and the speakers had been blasting music while they passed a cigarette back and forth between themselves. Suddenly, Liam had gotten up, and stretched out his hand towards Zayn, smiling sweetly.

"Dance with me, love."

Zayn had laughed but obliged. And that's how they'd ended up slow dancing to Lana Del Rey, while the smell of smoke from the cigarette and vanilla from Zayn's cologne mixed in the air around them.

He'd realized that there was no one else in the world he'd rather be with, at any given moment, than Liam. Liam, who was kind and gentle and thoughtful and brave and so, so beautiful...

He was falling in love with Liam, and somehow, he didn't mind...

As the song intensified, Zayn was snapped out of his revered memory. The song slowly made way towards a chorus that still made Zayn's heart twist, and Liam let go of Zayn's body with an unparalled drama, their hands their only link. Zayn spinned his body back towards Liam, landing securely in his arms once again. Zayn threw his head back and laughed, the sound being forced out of him by all the bubbling emotions his mind couldn't process.

They swayed and spinned and moved.. and cherished every second of it, all while waiting for the chorus of the song.

"I will love you till the end of time, I would wait a million years;
Promise you'll remember that you're mine.…"

Suddenly, Liam dipped Zayn with an exaggerated grandeur, and Zayn went along with it, tipping his head back delicately, closing his eyes, and living the entirety of his life in this very moment.

And maybe at some point, his family and friends joined them on the dance floor. He wouldn't know. All he could see was Liam's eyes trained on his his own, and all he could feel was the words of their song dancing in his soul.

"…I will love you till the end of time."


***

Seven months later

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Zayn could honestly understand where the phrase 'it gets better with time' had come from. If you asked him how he was doing, he would smile and tell you that he felt blessed. And he wouldn't be lying.

Maybe this had something to do with the fact that they had discussed it extensively beforehand. Seven months before their wedding, the day he'd found out about Liam's illness had been the absolute worst of his life. That had been the worst hit; the day Walter had walked out of that white room in which Liam lay, and relayed the news to an anxious Zayn. But after weeks of sleepless nights and crying and screaming and arguing and more crying, he'd come to accept it. 

The other boys, and their families had mostly gone into shock. A shock that didn't wear off until a few months later. And that's when the agony kicked in.

Liam, on the other hand had accepted the news almost immediately. He'd accepted and embraced his imminent death with a grace that was awe-inspiring, and his courage had given Zayn the strength to continue.

One day, in particular had been especially difficult for Zayn;

He'd been crying almost non-stop, holding together by the weakest thread of sanity, as the realization that he was going to lose Liam punched him in the gut over and over and over. Liam, though, had just laughed and held him tight. And Zayn was angry. He was angry.

"Do you really care that less about us?" He'd spat at Liam, in a fit of heartbreak and rage and just the general opinion that life wasn't fair.

Liam had smiled at him. Sweet and wide.

"I really care that much about us."

"Then why the fuck are you not affected? You're going to leave me. You're going to fucking leave, and you're laughing huh? You're laughing like a fucking kid in a candy store. What the fuck Liam? What the actual fuck? Do you realize-" he'd broken off here, unable to rationalize his thoughts, too overwhelmed by pain.

"Honey." Liam had come closer to him then, holding him and resting his head on Zayn's shoulder. "It's the opposite babe. Don't you see?" He'd kissed Zayn's temple, continuing in a whisper, too intimate for even the walls- "I love you. So so much. More than you will ever truly know. And I value this... what we have... what we were able to do with the time we had.. so much. I value it so much that I can die happy knowing that I've lived a life in which I've had the privilege of loving you." He'd started swaying here, Zayn still in his arms. Dancing. The way they had always done after a fight. Zayn cried harder. "I will die a happy man knowing that in the last moments of my life, I had you by my side."

And somehow, that sentence... those words had made everything worse.

"And what about me?" Zayn had asked him, pain coloring his cracked voice. "Am I meant to just... wander off with some new idiot? Am I supposed to just... forget? Everything that we went through... management and the secrecy and fucking One Direction... all that led to this? This.. is my light at the end of the tunnel?"

Zayn had been hysteric that day, and Liam had been as soothing as always.

They'd argued back and forth, and selfishly, all Zayn had been able to think of... was himself. How could he get through every day without Liam by his side? How could he ever forget and move on? How could he fucking live? When everything reminded him of Liam.. when every feeling of joy or despair led him back to Liam? What did he have, if he didn't have Liam?!

It had taken him a few long months, to finally come to a conclusion; had taken him a fuckton of dissociation and an infinite number of randomly occurring panic attacks to finally realize;

The pain of losing Liam wasn't greater than the joy he bought Zayn every day by just existing... being there. And Zayn would be damned if he didn't try harder to cherish every fraction of every second he was able to spend by his love's side.

So he'd gotten to it immediately; getting Liam fresh cut flowers everyday (this one wasn't really new, but Zayn was committing to the flowers with a newfound vigour), getting lost in strange yet beautiful cities in random parts of the world with Liam, planning out extensive outings with all their friends and their families…

But somehow, all this… all this.. forced.. positivity had drained Zayn more than he could've anticipated. It felt wrong, to put on this mask of cheer and excitement, when on the inside, all he constantly wanted to do was break down, die or hold Liam as tight as he could, for as long as he could manage, as though that would keep the unthinkable away. It was difficult, explaining to anyone what he was feeling; the constant thrum of exhaustion in his veins; how he was constantly on the brink of self destruction yet how he felt as though he were looking at the story of his life through the eyes of an uncaring reader.

And Liam knew. Liam always knew. As did the boys.

Sometimes, Harry would come over and just hold Zayn, not speaking a single word, offering companionship and comfort and stability to Zayn's wrecked mind. And Zayn felt nothing. Everything was doused in grays. All voices blended together, and everyone was the same. That's how it stayed for a couple more months.

But then, one day, everything changed. Zayn... felt. He felt. A spark of… something. It was like in a movie, honestly.

That day had started out stupidly mundane. He'd woken up Liam with a kiss and they'd gone on their daily jog together (a jog that eventually ended in a race. One that Zayn lost. Pathetically.); stopped for a few pictures on the bridge; petted every single dog they came across.. and Liam looked happy! He looked beautiful. He was laughing and joking around and admiring the sunrise and humming the Bohemian Rhapsody.. and that's when it hit Zayn; Liam was alive. Liam was fucking alive!

What the fuck had he been doing?! Drowning himself in his grief and his alcohol when Liam was warm, breathing… alive… right next to him?!?! What was he doing to himself.. when the world was young and life was beautiful and he had Liam?

Zayn felt disgusted at himself, for wasting so much time, mourning a tragedy that hadn't even happened, when he could have been undertaking the most exquisite experiences with Liam. Then he realized: Liam had been the most exquisite experience he could have ever have undertaken...

He had watched Liam mature into the incredible man he was today, and grown with him. He had travelled the world and seen sights that most people could only dream of seeing. He had met people who he now considered family and met people he idolized as a young child. He had lived a life that was glittering and saturated with the brightest colors. And in the face of this, any impending tragedies seemed.. almost beautiful? In a way?

If he had found Liam, how could he ever possibly consider himself unlucky?

He looked upon the sight of Liam watching the sunrise... watching as the sky slowly but steadily filled with the most vibrant amber and pinks , eyes blown wide, and teared up, because this was his life, and his life was gorgeous. And suddenly, his mind had been filled with everything that had happened in the past few years; every experience suddenly revealed it's unique rarity to him.

I love you.

Seven months after their wedding, when Liam was gone but the world was still beautiful and Zayn still went on morning runs, Niall accompanying him instead of Liam now.. Zayn still couldn't explain why everything had changed that day. He still couldn't explain what it was, that made him appreciate every single breath he took. He'd tried to write it down a couple times, but he'd ended up staring at his notepad, smile on his face, as he reminisced.

His sudden change in temperament had confused everyone, except Liam. Liam understood. Liam always understood.

And one sweet day, when they had been young and beautiful and devastatingly in love, Liam had finally taken that last step. He had finally asked Zayn to marry him.

People asked... why had they taken so long? Why hasn't they done this earlier? And.. well…. That was nobody's business but theirs.

And so they had gotten married; a day that remained fresh in Zayn's memory even though he felt as if it had happened an absolute lifetime away.


***

Autumn of 2065

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Many many decades later, there were two beautiful people and many many precious grandchildren who went by the name of Malik. There was a world that was foreign and changed, yet beautiful in it's own ways. There was a park, next to a lake, where there were two slabs of rock, one upright, one slightly jaded, bearing the following names respectively; Zain Javaad Malik and Liam James Payne.

And what most people did not know was that beneath the many, many layers of mud and grass an flowers that grew atop the grave of the gentleman once named Zain, there was a letter. A letter that had been pressed to the coffin, unknown to Zain, by another gentleman named Louis William Tomlinson. A letter that had never been read (by the sender's request, obviously); except by the sender himself, many years ago.


***

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25 March 2027

My love,

Guess who's back, back again :D Okay but in all seriousness... well… I'm just realizing that I don't know what I wanted to write.

Let's start with the basics. I have three weeks remaining. It's a Thursday, and you're asleep right in front of me. You'd probably think I'm a creep if you knew I was doing this. You'd definitely laugh. I love it when you laugh. You haven't been laughing enough these past few months and I'm sorry for that honey. I don't think I'll ever get over how beautiful you are, especially when you're asleep. I love you. I love you i love you I love you… so so much. I don't think I will ever be able to actually express in words, how much you mean to me. You're my entire universe.

Now I know that you're never going to read this. You'll never know about this letter, because I don't want to drag you into a past that you will soon be trying to get over. I don't want you to read this and reread it and remember things that you're better off forgetting. I don't want to break your heart more than I already have. And for that very reason, you must never know about this letter. I'm doing this right now because I'm selfish and because I need to. I'm not very good at explaining myself am I?

I know I'm going to be gone very very soon. And I know that you never really understood why I took the news so peacefully. It's because of you. I always had you. We had fights and dark times, and we took breaks to figure things out… but at the end of the day, I always had you. I always had the knowledge that whatever happened, you were mine and I was yours. And that makes me the happiest man alive. Everyone wants to die surrounded by the people they loved best. Knowing that I will die by your side, after we've pretty much lived a whole life together, takes away all my bitterness at the world.

I know that you're going to hurt a lot, after I'm gone. But you mustn't miss me too much, my darling. You are so strong, so brave. I know you'll get through this and I know you will find happiness once again, in someone else who'll steal your breath away the way I once did. And when that happens, i don't want you to think of me and I never want you to feel guilty. Never. I need you happy, Zayn. It's the only thing I've ever needed.

I know, that in most people's eyes, One Direction will be my legacy, the one thing that'll live long after we do. But I need you to know, right now, that you and me… the life that we built together… every drop of happiness I ever gave to you… that is my greatest legacy. I love you, with every single fucking beat of my heart, and I've never meant anything more. You have shown me how to live, and love. You're the reason, i know the meaning of true happiness.

The sun has risen, and the light is coming in through the curtains. I think you're beginning to wake up. God, you're breathtaking.

In the end, all I want to say is thank you. Thank you, my love, for making my life a grand adventure. I just really, desperately want you to know that even when I'm gone, I'm with you. I'm always with you. Every time in the near future, when you miss me, or feel alone, I promise you that you're not. I promise that I will always be by your side. I promise that I will always watch over you from up there… that I'll always keep you safe.

Remember the words of our song?

"I will love you till the end of time."

I've never meant it more than I do right now.

With all the sunflowers and daisies,
Yours forever,
Liam :D

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***