"We really shouldn't be doing this," Leigh-Anne says for what feels like the hundredth time. As with the 99 that came before, Perrie only looks at her over her shoulder and sports a massive grin that lights up her face in a way that One Direction probably sing about.
"Where's your sense of adventure, Leigh-Anne?" she asks and Leigh-Anne thinks it's probably curled up somewhere warm reading a book or having a bath or treating herself to a manicure or something sensible like you should do on a day as shitty as this. It's been grey overhead for hours now and it constantly looks like it's either going to start snowing or raining any moment. Leigh-Anne wishes it just would, to get it over with. She hates this anticipatory mood. Obviously Perrie's sense of adventure is a different beast than Leigh-Anne's. Perrie's sense of adventure scoffs at books and manicures and bubble baths. It wants to run away from their minder and go ice-skating. Because that is the logical thing to do when on tour for The X-Factor, when one has a few hours off. Obviously. How didn't Leigh-Anne think of it first?
"Staying warm," she says and pouts at Perrie. Perrie - damn her - has gotten immune to it now, as have Jesy and Jade. Leigh-Anne knows they call her the diva of the group and it's probably true that she's the least adventurous and the most concerned with not getting her clothes dirty but wanting your clothes to look presentable is hardly being a diva, is it? When did being a diva turn into such a bad thing anyway?
"You'll be warm in a moment. We're almost there."
"We're going ice skating. I don't exactly see how that can warm me up."
"Because we'll be moving around, ya silly."
"I'm not even that good at it! I'll fall over and then I'll be just slow enough for the cold to really creep in."
Perrie shoots her a look that tells her exactly how silly she thinks she's being right now and then grabs Leigh-Anne's hand with hers as if to make sure she won't suddenly take off in the opposite direction the closer they get to the skating hall. Leigh-Anne likes when Perrie holds her hand, even through two layers of gloves, so she won't tell her that a) she doesn't even know where they are so she's not about to take off to anywhere and b) she wouldn't disappoint Perrie like that so there's no need for it. It makes her feel a little warmer and she pretends happily that it's because Perrie's such a furnace that her heat bleeds through the fabric and up Leigh-Anne's veins from her hand.
The guy in the booth handing out ice skates looks at them a little weirdly and Leigh-Anne is about to scowl at him when she realises that he probably doesn't think they're weird or cutting school or disapproves of their hand-holding, but that he could've recognised them. From when they were on The X-Factor. On telly. It still hasn't gotten any less weird to think that they actually did that. It feels like she's known the three other girls for far longer than the few months it's been, like they've been there all her life. Meeting some of her best friends on a TV talent competition sounds a little silly. Alas.
"Less dreaming, more skating, Leigh-Anne," Perrie says, hands on her hips, her skates already laced up on her feet. Leigh-Anne must've drifted off a bit while contemplating fame and life and such, but hurries to catch up.
"I'm really not good at this though," she whines when Perrie pulls her over to the entrance of the skating rink.
"I'll teach you." The grin on Perrie's face is wide and sunny and far too inviting and lovely to say no to, so Leigh-Anne lets her guide her onto the ice and then grab her second hand as well as she pulls her along, skating backwards herself. Leigh-Anne wasn't kidding. She's only done this a handful of times and she's never really learned how to do it properly, so she's glad for Perrie holding onto her and guiding her around.
Within a few minutes, she starts feeling less shaky on her skates and tries to straighten up from the hunched over position she'd automatically assumed in order to keep her balance as easily as possible. Perrie obviously delights in getting to teach her how to push off the one foot so the other one can slide forward in a slight diagonal and then use that one to push the other one forward. It's actually really not that difficult, although having your own cheerleader-cum-teacher probably helps. Leigh-Anne finds herself actually smiling most of the time and enjoying the scratchy, slicy sound of the ice underneath her skates and the cold air. Only Perrie could be responsible for getting her in such a situation. Leigh-Anne gets the hang of going in a straight line rather quickly. Turns are a completely different story. Good as she usually is with balance, the ice feels so unfamiliar that what Perrie swears is mostly a simple matter of shifting your weight feels like rocket science to her.
The first time she falls a group of young boys see and laugh at her. Needless to say she is so very not amused. Perrie laughs it off for her and helps her back up, patiently swinging around to demonstrate again, before coming back and grabbing Leigh-Anne's hands again. Well, if nothing else, there is at least that for Leigh-Anne to enjoy. Somehow it also weirdly makes her feel like she owes Perrie to give the whole skating thing another try, especially seeing how Perries seems to be having so much fun already, even though she's not really skated yet, just dragged Leigh-Anne around after her.
"You do a few laps," Leigh-Anne then says. "I'll see if I can't get the hang of this."
"No, I'm not gonna abandon you."
"You're not abandoning me. Go have fun. I'll probably still be somewhere around here. Not too quick on my feet like this, am I?"
"Alright, if you're sure," Perrie says and then Leigh-Anne watches her skate off, her little pinks skirt fluttering behind her. She's possibly the cutest thing Leigh-Anne's ever had to deal with on a daily basis and that includes all pets and babies friends and family of hers have ever had. Heaving a bit of a sigh she looks back down at her feet and decides to try again. Of course she falls again.
At some point Leigh-Anne loses track of time, falling and getting back up and making what feels like snail-paced progress. Perrie goes whizzing by every now and then, until she rounds her and comes to stand in front of her with a little twirl that Leigh-Anne's not even going to think about copying.
"Come on," Perrie says and takes hold of her hand again, this time skating next to her instead of in front of her. It's nice like this, skating side by side while cheesy pop songs are playing through the huge speakers hung up around the rink, mostly quiet. Their life tends to get quite hectic these days and they've all come to appreciate a good silence all the more for it. Which is not to say that for the most part they're not right in the thick of whatever hecticness there is to be had. Sure, they've signed a record deal and there's supposed to be an album, but Leigh-Anne thinks they're all a bit scared that someone's going to snatch that away from them any minute and so they enjoy what time they have with it.
Perrie's humming to herself, swinging their hands absently and Leigh-Anne is so bloody happy in this moment. So of course that's when her eyes catch on the huge clock mounted on the wall and she realises they need to be back within the hour for sound check.
"Pezza," she says, quietly, hoping not to disrupt her too much, because Perrie's just so cute when she's off in her own little happy world.
"Hate to mention it, but we've gotta get back," she says, nodding towards the clock. Perrie follows her line of vision, but instead of the smile falling off her face, as Leigh-Anne's expected, she just laughs a bit.
"So we do. Hadn't noticed how late it's gotten. Off we go then."
She twirls so she's in front of Leigh-Anne again and grabs her second hand, weaving backwards in a way that probably makes her bum wiggle strangely and pulling Leigh-Anne back towards the exit of the ice rink. They get their skates off quickly and as they turn to leave, they're stopped by a group of younger girls, who shyly ask them if they're "the ones from Little Mix?" and then a little more excitedly ask for autographs. This is still really weird, but they smile and chat to the girls a bit and then beg off, citing band duties. The awed look on the girls' faces makes Leigh-Anne appreciate her life even more, because she remembers what this feels like from the other side.
The taxi ride back to their hotel, where they're supposed to wait to be picked up, is spent in animated chatter about the show they're going to play tonight, the cakes Perrie had this morning for breakfast and any other topic they can somehow fit into the conversation. There may have been an aside on the tuna fish industry that Leigh-Anne didn't follow completely. It's only once they're in the lobby of their hotel that Perrie's face settles into a thoughtful frown. Leigh-Anne decides to wait her out, since Perrie's not usually very good with keeping her thoughts to herself, but Perrie stays quiet all through the elevator ride and right into their room. Just when Leigh-Anne's about to ask what's wrong, Perrie turns to her with an adorable frowny pout.
"You did have fun though, today, yeah?"
"Course I did," she says.
"Cause I know you don't like skating much and all, but it wasn't too bad, no?"
"I wouldn't've gone if I'd really hated it, Pez. 'sides, everything with you is fun," she says and then wishes she could take it back. It's not that strange a thing to say, right? There's no reason for her heartbeat to speed up and for her brain to frantically go into emergency mode because she gave herself away, mayday, mayday, abort, abort? From the intent way Perrie's studying her, she's afraid maybe there is reason to panic after all.
"Leigh-Anne?" Perrie asks carefully. "Can I ask you something that's potentially really embarrassing?"
Leigh-Anne bites her lip and wants to refuse but, well, that's just not something they do, is it? So she nods.
"D'you fancy me?" Perrie asks, coming straight to the point, the way she does. The panic in Leigh-Anne's head stops, because, well. It's out there now. Might as well see this through to the bitter end, right? She nods again.
"I didn't mean to," she then says, as if she's apologising.
"Me either," Perrie says and then grins at her. "S'good we both did though, yeah? Would've been a bit shite otherwise."
"Yeah," Leigh-Anne says, while her brain is still somehow stuck on wait, what? because Perrie just said she fancies her back, didn't she?
"So, it's alright if I kiss you then, is it?"
"Yeah," Leigh-Anne says again and feels like she's really not contributing much at all to this conversation, but in the next moment Perries's stepped up close to her and put her little hands on her waist and her frost-bitten lips on hers and there's not much of a conversation to be had anymore. Not one that needs words anyway. Instead Leigh-Anne tells her how happy she is with a brief smile and with her own hands creeping up to and around Perrie's shoulders, the fuzzy wool of her jumper a welcome sensation. Perrie tells her how she's been wanting to do this for a while with how she presses up against her and Leigh-Anne tells her of her own weeks of pining with an opening mouth and a curious tongue. It's probably the best kind of conversation Leigh-Anne's had.
By the time they pull back, they're both rosy-cheeked, though not from the cold, and their lips are reddened and their hair frizzy. Well, Perrie's is frizzy. Leigh-Anne's actually doesn't look all that different.
"Right. We'll be doing that a lot, then," Perrie says, decisively and Leigh-Anne doesn't mind that she's not getting asked her opinion this time. Fun as the ice-skating turned out to be, snogging Perrie's a whole lot more fun.