The first time they almost meet is not even a meeting. It’s barely an interaction.
There’s a new album that pops up in his Spotify account, so Niall gives it a listen. Because he loves music and he doesn’t have a problem with trying new things. But he wasn’t prepared to like this album so much, to the point of keep playing it on repeat for the last week. There’s something about this guy’s voice, his words and his vibe that he can’t to take off of his mind.
So he tweets about it. That’s what he usually does when he finds a new artist – at least new to him – and he likes his music. It’s not a deep, meaningful, elaborated tweet. He doesn’t even tag the guy, it’s not like he really needs to when it’s a self-titled album, but the guy replies anyway, Harry Styles. He thanks him and congratulates him for the single he just released.
Which is nice, so they follow each other.
For some reason, his timeline and his interactions blow up.
The second time it’s just a coincidence.
Niall had some days off in LA from his tour and Fleetwood Mac was performing one of those nights, so he obviously went. He noticed some people taking pictures of him and giggling, but it wasn’t too bad and he was enjoying the concert enough to ignore it.
But later that night, when he returned home, his twitter and Instagram accounts were blowing up. Apparently, Harry Styles was at the same concert, only three rows behind him, he also liked his tweet about the concert. For some reason, that made Niall smile.
Harry Styles is a big fan of golf. He doesn’t play it as much as he’d like but when he has some free time, just like now, he goes to the nearest golf course and spends some hours just clearing his mind and enjoying the weather. He also likes it because Jeff is particularly bad at it and he gets frustrated pretty quickly.
Jeff gave up an hour ago and he’s just following Harry in the golf car, talking on his phone, letting Harry and his caddy do their thing. Which is okay with Harry, because the kid is actually funny and he, Patrick, reminds him of himself when he was also sixteen and used to caddy at the club his father had a membership for.
Harry takes a second to watch were the ball landed. Patrick is next to him, waiting to be told what to do but Harry is taking his time, he’s also a bit distracted by the people that he can see in the distance on the hill. There’s four guys, they look young by the posture and one of them is laughing his ass off. Harry thinks that if he concentrates hard enough, he can hear his laugh.
“That’s Niall Horan.” Patrick says, looking at the direction Harry’s facing.
He turns, surprised.
Niall Horan. He has heard a lot about him. He has heard his music a lot too. It’s good, old school kind of thing. And there’s something about the good old days, isn’t there? They never get old, just like Niall’s music. It rumbles in your chest and draws a smile on your face, it makes you feel. Well, at least it does for Harry.
He turns to look at them again, the guy laughing is now holding his knees with both hands and the men look at him like they’re a bit tired. Harry wonders if the guy laughing is Niall. He doesn’t really know much about him, but he knows people in the media and Industry seem to love him.
How real is a man loved by everyone?
“Do you want to go and say hi, Mr. Styles?” Patrick asks again, “He brings his own equipment. He always comes here when he’s in town so he doesn’t need a caddy but I can-”
Harry shakes his head, walking to the ball and picking it up.
“Don’t worry about it, Patrick.” Harry smiles, “I think it’s been enough for today. We should return before Jeff sinks the car in the lake.”
When they actually meet, Harry doesn’t remember a thing.
Harry wakes up with the worst hangover he has had in a while. He looks around, trying to figure out where he is. He can hear Ed talking, a laugh and then the door closing. Harry looks at the ceiling and tries to breathe in to hold back the vomit going up his throat. Ed enters the room some minutes later with a cup of tea and some pills.
“So, good party?” Harry asks and his tongue feels dried up and his throat feels like he’s been chewing glass and swallowed it all at once afterwards.
Ed laughs, throwing some sweatpants to him. If Harry wouldn’t be feeling like death itself, he would have caught them with his hands, not his head.
“Get up, breakfast is ready.” Ed says as he leaves the studio.
Harry looks around him, his pants are near the door frame with his red shirt and he can’t remember much after saying some words at the engagement party. He sighs as he put the sweatpants on and he stands up from the couch, stretching and already feeling the back pain he’s going to have to carry all day.
He walks up to the piano in the corner of the room and he messes up his hair. He yawns as he sees the music sheet with some notes in the borders. He looks up at the title.
So Long by Niall Horan.
Harry frowns. He didn’t know Ed was working with Niall Horan. He also knows that he shouldn’t be reading this, let alone sitting and starting to play it but his hands feel itchy and his fingers start before he can actually think of what he’s doing. And it’s like he already knows this song he has never heard before and his chest feels heavy, but it’s not the vomit or the hangover, not even the sunlight hitting him right in the face, it’s something else he can’t put a name on just yet.
So he takes the music sheet and the cup of tea Ed left for him and goes to the kitchen where Ed is already waiting for him with the breakfast served. He clears his throat which makes Ed look up from his phone screen. He smiles at him as he eats another spoon full of cereal.
“Congratulations!” Harry says, finally sitting down.
“Yeah, you said that like a million times last night.” Ed laughs.
“I’m just really happy for you guys,” Harry smiles, putting the cup of tea on the table.
“We know,” Ed looks at him, “Thank you.”
Harry has known Ed for years now, and he doesn’t think he has seen him happier than he is right now.
“So,” Harry looks down, starts playing with his food, “I didn’t know you were working with Niall Horan.” He slides the music sheet over the table for Ed to see.
That name keeps coming back to him. Which is funny because of course he would listen to people talk about the Irish singer, he’s starting to grow his platform and Harry can see it by the few times he finds himself on twitter or any other social media, he’s doing great. The radio’s play his songs all the time and Harry may or may not turn the volume up every time he’s alone in his car driving in London and nothing else seems more appropriate.
He feels silly, thinking about Niall Horan in his free time or looking up his Instagram account without really following him or liking his tweets anytime he says something funny. But he can’t help himself, specially every time he meets someone new they seem to end up mentioning him and how well they would get along. It’s odd and he sometimes forgets what his job is when he sees his videos because he’s different to all the people his age that he has met in this kind of world.
There’s people down to earth and then there’s Niall Horan. Harry can’t explain it, but he feels he’s different. It’s not like he talks about it, anyone could think he’s a weird fan of him, and even though Harry repeats himself that it’s not the case, Gemma disagrees and finds it very cute.
Ed takes the music sheet and gives it a look, frowning as he takes a sip from his coffee.
“I worked with him on some songs for previous albums, like at the beginning of his career, but nothing for his last album, really.” He leaves the paper over table and looks up to Harry. “So what do you think?”
Harry tilts his head to his right side, looking at Ed, wondering what he means.
“About the song?” He whispers, not really knowing why.
“About Niall.” Ed looks at him like Harry is not making any sense at all, “He was at the party?”
“He was- what?!” He really doesn’t mean to sound that surprised, but he is.
Niall Horan was at the party last night, and he didn’t see him?
“Are you joking me?” Ed asks, looking at him from the corner of his eyes, “Are you serious?” He sounds more firm now, like he can’t read Harry’s expression.
“I didn’t see him.” Harry replies, making Ed laugh really hard.
“You were with him all night!” He can barely speaks over his laugh but Harry understands every words that’s coming out his mouth, “Arms over shoulders like you two had known each other since birth, I swear to God.”
Ed is cleaning nonexistent tears from his eyes and Harry can’t find his voice, so he whispers a little “What?”
“You really don’t remember?” Harry shakes his head. Ed slides the music sheet back to him. “You weren’t the only one that crashed here last night.” Harry takes the paper and looks at the notes at the corners and then he looks up to Ed and the soft smile on his face, “Those aren’t my notes. They’re yours.”
It’s not like Niall is avoiding him, or that Harry is avoiding him. He knows that, but when he hears that Harry and his crew left right after his set because he’s in a middle of his tour, even knowing that, Niall can’t help but feel like he swallowed a big rock and it hit the bottom of his stomach too fast. He doesn’t let him affect it for more than a minute, he has thirty minutes to get ready and hit the stage.
When Mark told him he was performing in the iHeart Radio festival, two numbers after Harry Styles, he tried to keep a blank expression. So he just nodded and thanked him, it’s not like he only told him about Harry. He gave him the list of all the artist performing with him, he doesn’t know what happened at Ed’s party and Niall prefers it that way.
So he prepared himself to see him after no texts or calls. He wasn’t expecting anything. They didn’t do much and they were pretty drunk, but Niall thought Harry felt it too. The way he looked at him all night, the way he smiled at him, the way he kissed him or maybe he just wanted to get off in the restroom.
Connor asks him if he’s okay after spending five minutes looking at the wall in front of him. Niall laughs at him and pats his back before leaving the dressing room.
Niall tries to cool off the red in his cheeks immersing his face in the water. He looks at his reflection in the mirror and all he can see is a big smile. It’s dumb to keep smiling at these things. It’s really a big deal but winning song of the year makes him feel kind of good. It’s the People’s Choice after all.
Someone opens the restroom door and closes it right away. Niall was alone until he looks at his left, finding Harry Styles resting his body on the door, suffocating his laugh under his hand. He freezes for a second and loses his tie so can breathe better. They haven’t bumped into each other the whole night and Niall thought he was getting lucky. But the Irish charm is just a myth.
Harry finally looks at the rest of the room and finds him at the washbasin, he slowly takes his hand off his mouth and clears his throat, trying to fix his suit when there’s nothing really to fix. He looks stunning and Niall is starting to get the idea that he always looks stunning. Which is unfair because his breathing is already getting faster as he gets closer, he doesn’t really need to remember how good he looks up close.
“Niall Horan, right?” He says, gently and Niall would have preferred to be ignored than forgotten, but he swallows it all and extends his hand.
“Yes,” He says, shaking his hand. “Harry, right? Nice to meet you, mate!”
Harry smiles and looks at the floor, still holding Niall’s wet hand.
“We have actually met before,” Harry says with a shy smile and shakes Niall’s hand again, “At Ed’s engagement party?”
Niall opens his mouth, his heartbeat is rising and he begs to any God Harry can’t feel it on his wrist.
“Maybe you don’t remember either! Which is a relief! Apparently we drank a bit too much.” He laughs and Niall finds him lovely. “Ed told me we spent the night doing drinking games so it explains it.”
Niall laughs because he does remember, but seeing Harry like this, alone in a restroom brings memories that are no longer a load on the back of his mind.
“Yeah,” he laughs and Harry is smiling again, “Maybe that’s it.”
“It’s a shame.” Harry says as a whisper, looking at their hands until he finally lets go.
And this part Niall remembers very well. The tension, the green of his eyes when he slowly looks up to him, the way he licks his lips, like the doesn’t even notice, how his hands play in his pockets. He remembers everything.
“What are you doing here? They’re gonna announce the last award any moment now.” Niall avoids his eyes, trying to bite off the smile that’s growing on his face so he won’t blush like a kid. It’s been a while since he has felt this way, maybe that’s why he hasn’t be able to take Harry out of his mind.
“It got a bit too much, you know? Needed to spread my legs, make Jeff lose his mind a little.” And there’s that cheeky smile.
“Well, I think you should go back to your seat because you’re gonna win artist of the year.” Niall crosses his arms over his chest and looks at his shoes because Harry is getting dangerously closer.
“Am I now?”
Niall can feel his eyes on him but he doesn’t get a chance to answer when they hear a ‘Harry Styles’ from far away and screams following afterwards. Harry looks up, like he can see the screen with his name on it. Niall smiles.
Harry opens his mouth and all his confidence evaporates.
“You should really run to that stage.” Niall laugh and he nods, running to the door only to come back seconds later.
“I have your song at my place.” He says out of breathe, which is funny because he wasn’t starting to actually run, “You can come by after this so I can give it back to you.” And he stands there, like people are not looking for him, screaming his name until someone finally sees him and starts to drag him to the ceremony. “Maybe we can work on it.”
But his eyes are still on him, and even if he doesn’t remember, that was the same look he had in his eyes when they sat at Ed’s piano and started mumbling melodies and words, so Niall nods and Harry smiles, running to the stage with that cocky smile of his on his face.