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My Heart Continues to Beat

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Zayn finds the buzzing of the tattoo gun soothing. He hums along with it more often than not as he lays designs on previously untouched skin, bringing his artistry and his skill to bear in a satisfyingly permanent way.

He loves his job, he really does, but lately it’s felt more like work than it ever has before, and he can feel exhaustion creeping into his bones. He can feel something else itching under his skin, too, and it feels like it’s been months since he’s been able to slip out of Zayn and into Veronica, and he misses it.

He slips outside for his afternoon break, shaking a cigarette loose from the packet, and pulling his phone out of his pocket to check for messages.

Zayn doesn’t work Saturdays very often, but he’s done a few lately, while Harry’s been busy with what even he has taken to call the wedding from hell, an uncharacteristic and unhappy twist to his lips.

All Zayn can think to do is be there, let Harry rant when he needs to, get blinding drunk when he needs to and hold on to his hair when he inevitably vomits up the alcohol the next day. Harry’s never been so stressed, and Zayn just - he holds on.

He smiles when he sees a text from Harry, lighting up his phone. It’s been a rare occurrence lately, and Zayn realises how much he’s missed Harry’s random little thoughts and pictures of odd things he usually sends during the day.

Babe, it’s over!!! The wedding from hell is over!!! I want to go out and dance and get trollied and do bad things in dark corners

Zayn laughs and shakes his head as he drops his cigarette, grinding the butt under his heel. He hates going clubbing, would rather stay home and watch a movie, but he can feel the stirring in his skin again, and well, Veronica, Veronica loves to dance …


sure, babe. sounds great. see you tonight. x

His phone buzzes again: love you

Zayn rolls his eyes because Harry is the biggest sap ever, but ….

love you too

He gets home just before six, weighed down with takeaway cartons and a cheap bottle of wine from the off-licence. Harry’s curled up on the couch, lying on his side. He’d obviously not bothered changing out of his work clothes before collapsing and he looks exhausted and rumpled as he blinks his eyes open and sits up slowly.

He grins and his face lights up when he sees Zayn, and he reaches out his arms, making grabby hands. Zayn snorts and shakes his head as he puts the wine and the containers down on the coffee table, before Harry tugs him on to his lap.

Zayn settles himself astride Harry’s hips and breathes in the familiar scents of vanilla and lemon that Harry always seems to carry with him.

“Missed you,” he mumbles into Harry’s curls, a riot all over his head at the moment. Harry just hums in agreement and spans Zayn’s hips with his hands.

“Missed you, too,” he says back, his voice low and gravelly, making Zayn’s skin shiver.

They eat, and share the wine, chatting quietly, and if this is all it was going to be, Zayn’s happy with that, but Harry’s restless next to him, picking at his food and fidgeting with his glass, and Zayn knows he needs to go out and channel all that stored energy.

Zayn stirs and groans slightly, not wanting to move. Harry winds his arms tight around him for a moment and nuzzles into his neck.

“If we’re going out, babe, I have to get ready …”

Harry grumbles, but lets him go and Zayn laughs, stealing a light kiss from Harry’s lips, stained an enticing shade of dark pink by the wine. Harry stretches and Zayn pauses to admire the lean lines of him, running a thumb over his cheekbone before heading off to the bathroom.

A shower, and a meticulous grooming later, and Veronica wipes away the steam from the bathroom mirror, sighing in contentment.

She’s focused on getting ready, and excited about going out; about putting on her best dress, the red on that makes Harry look at her like he never wants to look at anyone else again …

Veronica’s mouth curves up into a smile as she hums to herself, a wordless melody that seems to run through her spine and into her blood. She makes a mental note to hum it for Niall sometime, to see if he can catch the notes on his guitar, before she re-focuses on the mirror in front of her.

Harry’s waiting, she knows, but he’ll be waiting patiently as she puts herself together as carefully as she can, content with feeling settled in her skin as she brushes on eyeshadow - a deep purple shade with glitter that catches the light when she blinks, and brings out all the shades of brown in her eyes. . She outlines her eyes next, a steady hand applying eyeliner and mascara, smiling at her reflection as she emerges in the mirror, one carefully applied line at a time.

She applies lipstick next and last; a barely-there colour, but with a glossy shine that catches the bright mirror light. The dress is next - a simple but well-cut dress with thin straps and a slight sheen.

By the time Veronica is smoothing out her stockings and zipping up her boots, she’s sighing in contentment.

She’s ready.

Harry is waiting on the sofa, a careless, familiar sprawl of limbs as he focuses on his phone, until Veronica clears her throat, cocking an eyebrow when Harry whips his head around, staring.

He stands up and grins, and his face is so open and so bright, that all Veronica wants to do is fall into that warmth and maybe never ever come up for air. He comes over and rests his hands on her hips before pressing a kiss to her cheek, mindful of all her work.

“You look gorgeous, Vee,” he says, his voice low and rough against her skin.

Veronica smiles and ducks her head for a moment, her heart racing.

“C’mon,” Harry says, kissing her cheek again. “Let’s go.”

They go to their favourite club - the one where Veronica feels safe, always; the eyes of their friends who own it watching out for her - and not just her.

Liam at the door welcomes them in with a tight hug, and Veronica breathes, in and out as the thumping bass starts to beat inside her bloodstream.

She grips Harry’s hand tight as they make their way to the bar, shot glasses already lined up and Louis’s bright blue eyes laughing as he pours their drinks.

They clink glasses, and the alcohol burns like blue fire, and then they’re dancing and Veronica never feels so free, or so much like herself as when she can lose herself in the thudding bass of the music, in the circle of Harry’s arms and she can just … let go.

They dance, and drink, and drink, and dance, and Veronica notices that finally, finally, the tight set of Harry’s shoulders that’s worried her for the past few weeks is unravelling.

Veronica can feel the warm buzz of the shots in her veins, it seems like, and her blood is beating along with it, and she’s so very drunk and so very happy as she winds her arms around Harry’s neck and they sway together in the middle of the dancefloor, oblivious to everyone around them.

Harry kisses her then, kisses her properly and deep, her lipstick long gone. “You - you smell like the sun,” Harry murmurs, his lips right beside her ear. Veronica presses herself against Harry’s solid presence, grounding herself against his musculature and his heartbeat, louder to her than the heavy bass of the music.

She’s tired, suddenly; exhaustion settling into her skin, and she stumbles. Harry’s quick to grab her, his hands nearly encircling her waist.

He looks down at her, his green eyes dark as they roam over her body. He leans as close as he can and says in her ear, “Let’s go home,” and Veronica knows that there is no one else in the world for her but Harry.

She nods, and they stumble out the door, vaguely waving at Louis and Liam, both working behind the bar now. There’s a cab just pulling up and Veronica stumbles into it first, with Harry nearly falling on top of her. They both collapse into a pile of giggles and drunken limbs, before Harry turns and manages to stumble out their address to the driver.

It’s a short drive home, luckily, because Harry has his hand further up Veronica’s skirt than would be considered polite in public but the driver just rolls his eyes in the mirror when he pulls up outside their building.

Harry fumbles some notes out of his wallet, and they stumble up the front steps, stopping while Veronica tries to unlock the door. Harry’s plastered to her back, his hands roaming all over, half-lifting her dress, pressing open-mouthed kisses to the back of her neck.

“Sunshine, you’re so - you’re so warm, I love you so much, you know that right?” Harry’s drunk and he’s rambling but his voice - low and raspy after so many shots - feels perfect against her neck.

Veronica pushes the door open and drags Harry inside, pushing the button for the lift.

She turns while the lift rattles down to them and presses her lips to Harry’s a lingering promise.

“I know, I love you too. Now let’s get upstairs so we can - can start working on our hangovers.”

Harry laughs into the back of her neck at that, his breath warm and damp against Veronica’s already overheated skin. She’s pretty drunk, and Harry’s in worse shape, but all she wants now is to feel his skin against hers, like the finest-spun silk.

They manage to get inside the flat, attached from mouths to hips, their hands roaming and restless; a line of clothes from the front door to the bedroom door until they both fall on to the bed, such a tangle that Veronica can’t tell where she ends and Harry begins.

As Harry kisses her again, his eyes so bright on her face Veronica is surprised she doesn’t catch on fire, she knows that it doesn’t matter.

Like Zayn, she begins and ends with Harry, and that’s all she needs to know.