It’s 19 hours until Harry’s wedding and James’ plan for the evening is to get so drunk he’ll sleep right through it.
He banished his mother for the night during breakfast that morning when Marnie had said that Harry was a selfish child and James deserved better. He knew she was only trying to support him but that really wasn’t what he needed right now.
He takes the bottle of scotch he bought especially for the occasion over to the couch and sets it down, along with a glass holding two ice-cubes.
“Right then,” he sighs to himself, closing his eyes against the urge to run out of the flat, find Harry, wherever he is, and drag him back there. He wants to tell everyone everything. He wants this ridiculous sham of a wedding to be forgotten.
He turns off his phone and pushes it under the seat so he’s not tempted to do something stupid.
Like, call Harry.
He’s barely taken a sip of the scotch when there’s a knock at the door and for a moment he considers not answering. It’ll just be his mother, or else that kid who seems to be stalking him lately, looking for another way to make money now he wasn’t getting anything out of Harry.
There’s a second knock, louder this time, and James is suddenly in the mood to give someone a piece of his mind. Whoever it is is going to be put firmly in their place.
When he pulls the door open, however, all the words die in his throat, because it’s Harry standing there, looking nervous and sad, big eyes pleading silently with him. James’ resolve breaks in an instant and he stands aside to let Harry in.
A thousand thoughts fill his head and he’s unsure what to say but the choice is taken away from him when Harry launches himself into James’ arms as soon as the door is closed. The kiss makes him stumble backward, slamming against the door, his hands easily wrapping around Harry’s waist and back to hold him close.
“Don’t say anything,” Harry whispers. “Please. Please don’t stop. I need this. I need you.”
James isn’t a monster, no matter what some people in the village might think.
He lifts Harry off his feet and carries him over to the couch as quickly as his can and Harry buries his James’ neck, laughing softly.
“You shouldn’t be here.”
“There’s nowhere else I want to be,” Harry tells him, stroking his thumb over James’ cheek. “They get to have me forever. Tonight I want to be yours.”
It should be cheap and cheesy and James should hate it with a passion, but he can’t because Harry’s terrible liar and this isn’t that. Harry looks how James feels, so they can take pity on each other, just this once.
His watch says it’s just over 18 hours until Harry’s wedding. Maybe they can have twelve of those for themselves.
“One last night?”
“Something to remember me by.”
James smiles in spite of himself. “Your ego is…”
“A monster you created.”
“So this is my fault?”
Harry climbs into James’ lap and kisses him, fingers flying to the buttons of his shirt. “I want you, James. I’ve missed you.”
James pulls Harry’s t-shirt over his head and drops it behind the couch.
“I’ve thought about this every day.”
“Me too. You’re all I think about.”
“No, none of that. Not tonight. Just us.”
James nods and pulls Harry back in to kiss him harder. Just for tonight, they can pretend.
The clock on the bedside table reads 05.45. Harry’s asleep, nose pressed against James’ shoulder, arm thrown over his waist.
James hasn’t slept, doesn’t want to waste a moment of his time with Harry. He’s only got about fifteen minutes left.
“Run away with me,” he whispers, sliding his hand over Harry’s hip. “We can just go and never come back.”
James smiles, rolls onto his side so that they’re nose to nose.
“I thought you were asleep.”
“Just dozing,” Harry mumbles, fingers wandering along James’ spine. “Don’t want to miss anything.”
James kisses him reverently, pouring out all the words he can’t say.
“We could elope.”
Harry chuckles, curls around James. “To Gretna Green?”
“Bet you can’t give me a good reason not to.”
“No,” Harry says, meeting James’ eyes. “No, I can’t. Lots of reasons but no good ones.”
“I’d make you happy,” James swears. “We’d be happy.”
“I know,” Harry says, kisses him once, twice. “I know that.”
“Then don’t go.”
Harry doesn’t say anything, just kisses him again, slowly, cupping his cheek.
“I could handcuff you to the bed,” James tries. “Never let you leave.”
“You could,” Harry says, brushing his nose against James’. “But you won’t.”
“I don’t know how I’m supposed to let you walk away again.”
Harry shifts as close as he can so that they’re pressed tight together.
“I, Harry Thompson, take you, James Nightingale, to be my husband.”
“Are you serious?”
“You asked me to elope. What more do we need?”
James stares at him for a moment.
“I, James Nightingale, take you, Harry Thompson, to be my husband.”
Harry smiles and kisses him again. “There. Now I’m yours.”
“For six hours.”
“For always,” Harry tells him. “If I had a choice...”
“You do have a choice,” James points out. “You just keep choosing them.”
“James, please don’t make this harder than it has to be.”
“I can’t imagine it being much worse.”
Behind them, Harry’s phone buzzes.
Harry clutches him tighter and James wraps his arms around him, holding him.
“I have to go.”
“I know that too.”
Neither one of them makes a move.
“You’re going to actually have to leave if you're going,” James says, forcing a smile onto his face. “I’m not going to make it easy for you.”
Harry smiles back at him and it looks just as pained as his. “I love you.” He kisses him, a sweeter goodbye than they’d ever shared.
Time seems to speed up again and suddenly Harry is dressed and gone before James can properly prepare himself.
His sheets still smell of Harry and so he pulls them up over his head and burrows in to sleep.
The scotch will still be there when he wakes up to carry him through the night.