“Haz! It’s starting!” Louis’ voice calls from the living room of their shared flat. They’ve lived there for a few months now and have managed to settle in quite nicely, filling the space with their own personal touches and memories.
“Coming!” Harry replies, finishing up in the kitchen. Carefully balancing a tray laden with snacks, he makes his way to the living room where his boyfriend is waiting.
Louis is snuggled in a nest of blankets on the sofa, his slipper-clad feet propped up on the coffee table. His blue eyes widen when he sees what Harry had been working on in the kitchen. “Oh, you wonderful boy,” he says in awe as Harry gently places the tray on the table and settles in next to Louis.
Harry smirks in reply. “What fun is watching a holiday special without holiday snacks?” He passes Louis a steaming mug of hot chocolate, taking another for himself. The rest of the tray is filled with a bowl of caramel corn, iced sugar cookies, and Harry’s famous English cheddar cheeseball with crackers.
Mouth watering, Louis grabs for a bell-shaped cookie, biting into it and savoring the sugar on his tongue. He will never understand how Harry can manage to keep the cookies so damn soft and still cook them all the way through. Of course, the crisp lumps of dough hiding at the bottom of the bin in the kitchen say a lot about Louis’ own baking ability, so what does he know?
Happily munching on his treat, Louis curls up into Harry’s side as the familiar music and black-and-white opening scenes of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer play. Harry wraps an arm around Louis’ shoulders, pulling him closer, the hand not holding his mug carding through the older boy’s hair.
It’s their first Christmas together as a couple, and Louis is sure it can’t get much better than this. It’s hard to believe that just over a year ago they had lost on the X Factor, uncertain of their fate. Now their future seems impossibly bright, with One Direction getting bigger by the moment and showing no signs of stopping.
He tilts his head against Harry’s shoulder, craning his neck to look at the curly-haired seventeen year-old. The light from the television dances across Harry’s smooth skin, the shadows making his dimple even more pronounced than usual. Harry doesn’t have to be doing anything to take Louis’ breath away. Just the sight of him sitting there, grinning dopily at a claymation snowman, fills Louis’ heart with so much love that he thinks it may burst.
“Love you,” Harry murmurs, as if he can read Louis’ mind. He presses a quick kiss to Louis’ forehead before joining in singing with the on-screen Santa. “Jingle jingle jingle! You will hear my sleigh bells ring!” he croons to Louis.
Louis just laughs, shaking his head. “You’re ridiculous.”
Harry is unfazed, singing the entire song to Louis (how does he remember all the words only seeing it once a year?), making silly faces all the while.
Shaking his head, Louis just presses tighter into Harry’s embrace. As they cuddle together, sipping their hot chocolate and singing along with the characters, Louis thinks he can get used to spending Christmas like this.
A warm pair of arms slip around Louis’ waist as he’s putting the kettle on, a chin settling on his shoulder. Louis sighs happily and leans back into the embrace, nuzzling into the long, curly hair of his lover.
“Morning, husband,” Harry drawls in a lazy voice, breath hot against Louis’ ear, sending shivers down his spine.
Husband. He still wasn’t quite used to that. “Morning yourself,” he replies sleepily. He pulls two mugs from the cupboard, his and Harry’s Christmas ones. Louis had bought them that first Christmas five years ago, and they were strictly used for drinking hot chocolate during Rudolph. They were starting to show signs of wear, a chip here and there, Harry’s with a scorch mark from the time Louis set it too close to a candle, but they were still intact.
The last year had been a whirlwind. Harry and Louis had been able to come out as a couple just after their fourth anniversary, and announced their engagement at the first show of their On the Road Again tour. They lost a few fans, sure, but they gained plenty more and the ones that stayed somehow seemed even more dedicated to the band than ever before. The tour was unbelievable, selling out every show, and best of all Louis was able to stand in front of those sold-out crowds holding the hand of the person he wrote so many of those lyrics for. The other boys were happier too, seeming to revel in Harry and Louis’ love for each other. If possible, the five of them were closer than ever before.
The tour had just wrapped up in October, and now the boys were on a well-deserved break. They had plans to get together to work on a new album come January, but there was no rush. It was so freeing to be able to rest for a bit after the four years of constant work, and Louis knew that when they did start working again it would be with renewed vigor.
Louis covers one of the large hands on his stomach with his own, the twin wedding bands side-by-side and glinting in the light filtering into the kitchen. The couple had seized the opportunity of the time off and gotten married in November. The headlines called it the wedding of the century, and while Louis isn’t quite sure about that, it was certainly the best day of his life.
“Why don’t you go get the movie set up while I get our snacks together?” Harry suggests, pressing kisses to the back of Louis’ head as the shorter man prepares their hot chocolate.
Louis turns to face his husband, standing on tip toe to slot their mouths together. They’re still in their honeymoon phase, and it’s been like falling in love with Harry all over again. The kiss quickly deepens and Harry’s hands reach down to grasp Louis’ bum. Louis leans away, wagging a finger disapprovingly. “Now, Harold, you know the rule.”
Harry sticks out his flushed bottom lip in a pout. “But Lou, it’s our first Christmas being married,” he whines.
Louis shakes his head firmly. “We’ll have plenty of time for that later. Now just so I know you haven’t forgotten, what is my one and only rule for the holidays?”
Heaving a sigh, Harry mutters, “No fucking during Rudolph.”
“Exactly. No fucking during Rudolph,” Louis repeats with a satisfied nod. “I will not have my childhood memories and our holiday tradition tainted because of your sex drive, Mr. Tomlinson-Styles.”
Harry laughs, pulling Louis to him and pressing a much more innocent kiss to his smiling mouth. “Anything you say, Mr. Tomlinson-Styles. Now get out of here before I convince you otherwise.” He gives Louis an affectionate swat on the bum as the older man scampers out of the kitchen.
Louis draws the blinds and lights Harry’s favorite holiday candles before popping in the DVD and curling up on the sofa. After that first year, they had went out and bought it so they didn’t have to wait for it to come on TV. Their schedules had been increasingly hectic in the last four years, so they had to fit in their tradition wherever they could. Tonight they were going to Gemma’s for dinner, so they elected to watch Rudolph earlier in the day instead.
It’s not much later that Harry plods into the room, the familiar (if slightly worn) tray in his grasp. The treats haven’t changed much over the years, though in the past they’d had to substitute store bought cookies and cheeseball when Harry didn’t have time to make everything. This year, though, there was plenty of time, and the lovingly decorated sugar cookies showed it.
“I love these things,” Louis says, plucking a silver decoration off of his cookie and popping it in his mouth. “They look like ball-bearings, but you can eat them. Wild.”
Harry just shakes his head as he fiddles with the remote, getting the volume just right and pressing the play button. “They’re called dragees, Lou. Do you ever listen when I talk about baking?”
Louis just grins in response, opening his arms to Harry as the movie starts to play. “I listen with my stomach, where it matters. Now shush,” he says, with a quick kiss to Harry’s nose.
If his husband notices that Louis picks all of the dragees off the rest of the cookies by the end of the movie, he doesn’t say anything.
As he hangs their stockings from the fireplace, Louis can’t believe that this is his life.
He and Harry have been married for just over three years now, and One Direction has officially been on a break for one. They had a good run, and they easily had the fanbase to keep going, but each of the lads wanted to settle down, have families, and just exist outside of being popstars for a bit. Sometimes Louis felt guilty, wondering if seeing the two of them so happy is what planted the seeds in the other boys’ minds, but in the end the split was amicable. And, they promised their fans on their farewell tour, just as they had all those years ago: “This isn’t the last of One Direction.”
It was strange, in a way, being able to fully enjoy the holidays, knowing that this wasn’t just time off. It was their new reality. They had all the time in the world.
Smiling to himself, Louis finishes hanging the third stocking just as he hears a soft cry from down the hall.
Padding toward the sound, Louis gently pushes open the first door he comes to, peeking inside.
Harry’s sat in the hand-carved rocking chair, dozing softly. In his arms, the tiny bundle that is their baby is stirring awake, little fists gripping at the fabric of Harry’s shirt.
Louis swiftly scoops the baby from his sleeping husband’s arms, cooing as he presses kisses to their son’s face. “Shh, Lucas, let’s let your daddy sleep,” he whispers, heading back down the hall to the kitchen.
They’ve been parents for all of a month now, and Louis still finds it hard to believe. It had been the best anniversary present ever, hearing that their surrogate was in labor, and twelve stressful hours later, Lucas Tomlinson-Styles was born. He looks so much like Harry that sometimes Louis has to just stop and stare, in wonderment that this tiny, perfect human exists, and that he’s theirs.
By the time Harry wakes up, Louis has Lucas changed and fed (and changed again), and is dressing him in a onesie decorated like a little Santa coat.
Absolutely beaming, Harry takes the now-dressed baby from Louis and cuddles him close. “Heyyy, little guy. Has your papa been taking good care of you?” Lucas only gurgles in response, reaching out a little fist and managing to poke Harry in the eye.
Louis watches the two loves of his life, smiling so broadly his cheeks are starting to ache. He presses a quick kiss to Harry’s cheek before taking Lucas again. “He’s been so good all day. Do you want help getting our snacks together? I already have the DVD in so that we can get it started as soon as he falls asleep.” Lucas was a very good baby, but an hour was a long time for a one month-old not to need attention, so a nap was their best bet at getting through the entire film.
Harry reaches out to stroke the fine blond fuzz covering Lucas’ head, much like Harry’s had looked at that age. “Yeah, all right. You two go get comfortable and I’ll be right in.” He presses a soft kiss to Louis’ forehead, and there is so much love behind it that Louis can feel it all the way down to his toes.
When Harry finally appears in the living room, Louis is gently rocking their son, humming under his breath. He looks up at Harry with tired blue eyes. “He just fell asleep,” he whispers as Harry joins him on the couch.
Harry reaches for the mugs on the tray, this year the treats joined by a bottle of formula and a pacifier. Louis gratefully accepts his mug, Lucas sleeping peacefully in his lap. Harry scoots close so that they don’t disturb their sleeping child, and Louis rests his head against Harry’s jumper-clad bicep.
This time, when Sam the Snowman refers to Donner as a proud papa, both men have tears of joy shining in their eyes.
“Dad! Darcy’s touching the cookies!” A voice yells from the living room.
Louis shoots Harry a meaningful look. “You’d better go see what they’re getting into now,” he says with a sigh, putting down the bag of pretzel sticks he was holding.
“I know exactly what they’re getting into. Cookies,” Harry replies playfully, kissing Louis on the temple. “They can’t resist my baking, just like their Papa.” He gives Louis a sly wink as he goes to check on the kids.
Louis goes back to the task at hand, making their children each a plate of snacks to munch on during the movie. Pretzels, caramel corn, and of course Harry’s delicious cookies (though minus the dragees, at least until the kids got a little older and wouldn’t choke on them).
He’s just finished filling four mugs with hot chocolate when Harry gets back. “I managed to save the cookies,” he says proudly, holding small, sticky fingers with either hand.
Louis laughs at the pouts on both of their children’s faces. Lucas just turned seven and looks more and more like his daddy every day, with big green eyes and chocolate hair. It hasn’t started to curl yet, but Louis has a feeling that it will. Darcy, small and petite with wide blue eyes, is all Louis. She’s four and full of personality, constantly trying to keep up with her big brother.
“Why don’t you kids go wash up and we’ll have your snacks waiting in the living room, all right?” Louis says, reaching out to ruffle Lucas’ uncombed hair.
There’s a chorus of “aw, do we have to?” But they’re good kids and trudge off to the bathroom with only a little whining.
Louis hands Harry two of the mugs, taking the other two himself. Long gone are the days when their little spread could fit on one tray. Now it takes several trips from the kitchen to the living room to get everything settled, but neither man seems to mind.
Louis places the two mugs he’s holding down on the coffee table. They’re his and Harry’s, though not the original ones anymore. Lucas had dropped Louis’ a couple years back, shattering it against the tile floor of the kitchen. Lucas had cried and Louis had tried not to cry, but come Christmas morning Louis had unwrapped a brand new set of mugs. They weren’t the same, and that was okay. If he’d learned nothing else these past few years, it’s that traditions have a way of changing.
The kids come bounding into the living room as Harry sets down the last of the plates. The children groan as the movie comes on, piling onto the couch next to their parents.
“Why do we have to watch this every year?” Lucas complains, grabbing a handful of caramel corn off his plate.
Harry titters. “Because this is how your Papa and I spent our first Christmas together, and every one since. It’s special to us.” He leans over and busses Louis quickly on the mouth.
“Gross,” Lucas mutters, but by the first song he’s singing along with Harry. Darcy, bless her, tries to as well, mumbling made-up words along with the tune.
Louis reaches for a sugar cookie, the painstakingly frosted masterpieces of years gone by replaced with messily-iced, sprinkle-laden ones decorated by small, eager hands. They still taste as good as ever, though, probably better since they were made with twice the love.
When the abominable snowman appears on the screen, Darcy shrieks and flings herself into Louis’ lap. “Scary!” she cries, hiding her face in his shirt.
“Don’t be such a baby, Darce,” Lucas says, rolling his eyes.
Louis just holds his little girl close, whispering soothingly into her hair, while Harry patiently turns to Lucas. “Be nice to your sister,” he chides gently. “You used to be scared of him too, you know.”
Lucas’ green eyes widen in disbelief. “I did?” he asked.
Harry nods. “Oh yes. The first year you were old enough to pay attention, you slept in our bed for a week after.”
Snickering, Louis adds, “We used to tell you that the abominable snowman would get you if you didn’t behave.”
“Your Papa used to tell you that. Always remember, kids, Daddy is the nice one.” Harry says with a glimmer in his eye, wrapping an arm around Lucas and pulling the boy close.
And that’s how they sit, watching the movie and singing along until Darcy is fast asleep in Louis’ arms and Lucas is gently snoring against his father’s chest. They’ve come such a long way from that first Christmas ten years ago, and as he and Harry carry their sleeping children to bed, he thinks back on that first night. They had no idea how much joy the simple tradition would bring them over the years, how much joy it would continue to bring even after the kids had grown and they were watching Rudolph alone once more, or maybe with grandchildren covering the sofa.
Either way, Louis finds himself thinking, he can get used to spending Christmas like this.