They’re drinking expensive champagne, the kind that doesn’t burn as it races down your throat. It’s much too pricey but Dan insisted. He had ventured into Harrods and found a bottle that was an obscenely priced vintage and although Phil still can’t justify the price, Dan had assured that that tonight’s a cause of celebration.
2018 had been a hell of the year, it’s only right they end it in luxury.
There are only a few minutes left of the year and they’re spending it curled up on the sofa under a fluffy blanket. There’s the countdown to fireworks on the telly but neither is paying attention to it as they finish one glass and pour another.
“My head feels giddy,” Dan giggles as he not so steadily pours Phil another glass.
“You’d hope so after paying 500 quid,” Phil replies, watching the bubbles dance erratically before settling.
“Wanted to spoil you, you deserve to be spoiled,” Dan leans over and places a soft kiss on Phil’s cheek.
He missed this, they’d only been apart a week but it felt like forever. He missed the familiarity in Dan’s touch, having someone else by his side that understood him better than he understood himself. That’s what makes coming home after Christmas so special, it reminds him of just how much he cherishes Dan.
Dan lingers, his face hovering mere inches from Phil’s so he leans over and presses their lips together. He tastes like the champagne they’ve been drinking but beneath that he tastes like Dan. He can’t describe the taste but it’s something so undeniably Dan and it’s intoxicating, more so than the alcohol in his hand.
He could get lost in kissing Dan, the feeling of his chapped lips against his is divine but 2018 is almost out of time. If the year was an hourglass they’d be down to the last grain of sand and Phil still has something left to do.
“I’ll be back in a tick,” Phil says as he untangles himself from under the blanket.
Dan cocks his head in question, “It’s almost midnight?”
“Need some water,” he says.
“Just get back here in time or you’re not getting a snog,” Dan sees right through Phil’s white lie but he doesn’t mind. He’ll most definitely be back by then and he’s sure Dan won't mind the little secrecy once he knows what’s about to happen.
He ducks into the bathroom, it was the only hiding place he could think of that mightn’t warrant Dan accidentally stumbling upon it. He bends down, flicking open the sink cabinet and reaches deep, behind the cleaning products and the piping until he wraps his hand around a familiar box.
It’s velvet and impossibly black so Phil blows across the surface, shooing away the bits of dust that settled on the box. Finding what’s inside had just been chance. He hadn’t been looking, it hadn’t even been on his mind but a few days ago he had wandered past a jewellery store with Cornelia and seen it in the window.
He’s looked at many rings over the years, he’s even been window shopping with Dan, but nothing ever felt right. Nothing ever looked like something he’d want Dan to wear for the rest of his life. So when he saw the ring sitting in the window, in a tiny jewellery store in a just as tiny Isle of Man village, he knew it was the perfect one.
He opens the box, just to make sure the ring is still there and it stares back at him, black and shiny with a few tiny diamonds on the top. Phil can feel his heart speed up. This is actually happening, well and truly happening, and his champagne addled mind can’t seem to comprehend that it’s actually bloody happening.
Phil stands up, clutching the box so tightly in his hand that his knuckles turn white. He looks at himself in the mirror, eyeing his reflective counterpart off as if doing so would make him more prepared for what’s about to come.
He doesn’t really know why he’s so nervous because loving Dan is easy. It’s the easiest thing in existence and all that ring symbolises is that he wants to keep loving him forever. It’s not as if any of that is a new concept. He’s known Dan was his forever ever since the beginning but proposing, finally moving into the next phase of their life, is a little bit daunting.
Phil just closes his eyes and take a deep breath in and out. He already knows Dan’s answer to the question. He’s always known what Dan’s answer is going to be.
He slips the box into his pocket. It’s a little bit bulky, a little obvious, but he pulls his knitted jumper down in a vain attempt to hide it.
In the loungeroom Dan is no longer sitting, instead, he’s standing by the windows, looking out onto the London night. Phil joins him, wrapping his arms around Dan’s waist from behind.
“Less than a minute to go,” Dan says, leaning back into his touch.
Phil presses his lips against Dan’s neck, softly, teasing him just enough to get him to turn around. Dan lifts his hands to Phil’s jaw, holding him gently as they kiss. Each kiss grows warmer, deeper, holding more and more love as the countdown to midnight chants from the telly.
He started the year kissing Dan and he’ll end the year kissing Dan, it has been their tradition since the beginning.
As the clock strikes midnight, signalling a cacophony of fireworks to begin, Dan turns up the heat, pushing him back without breaking this kiss, a hand entwined in his hair and another squeezing his ass. They have another tradition, one that involves falling into bed together and a lot less clothes than they have on now but that can wait. Phil needs to ask the question. Now’s the time.
“I have something else first,” Phil breaks away from Dan who looks at him like he’s very much confused. “I want to set the scene for 2019”
Dan raises a brow, a cheeky grin chasing away the confusion, “Banging at the strike of midnight isn’t setting the scene?”
He blushes, “Not this year.”
The weight of the box feels tremendously heavy in his pocket as if it’s threatening to rip through his pants and fall to the floor, exposing his plan before he even has the chance. He knows it’s just his mind playing tricks on him so he shakes the feeling.
He grabs Dan’s hands and he can’t help but admire how big they look in his own. His fingers are so chubby but long and his palm is huge, incredibly so. Phil’s hands fit perfectly against Dan’s and it’s just a little marvellous thing that makes them so perfect together. It’s as if divine creatures carved them from the same stone, destining them to be together. He doesn’t really believe in any of that stuff but if he did, he’d believe in that. He’d believe that Dan was put on this earth for him just as he was for Dan.
“I have a little something for you, well a big something, a really big something but it’s still a little something and I know we’ve talked about it countless times and said it’s not a big rush or a big deal or whatever, I felt like it was time to finally do it,” The words spill out of him in a rush. He’s nervous when he doesn’t need to be.
Dan giggles, squeezing his hands, “Breathe.”
He says it with such calmness as if he can anticipate what’s to come. He looks up into those brown eyes he cherishes so much and he can tell that Dan knows. His large chestnut eyes are both comforting and knowing. It shouldn’t surprise Phil, they’ve been talking about marriage with increasing frequency over the last few months but dammit, he wanted it to be a surprise.
He exaggerates a pout, “That’s not fair! You already know what I’m going to say, I can tell.”
“You’ve been on edge all day, love,” Dan grins because of course, he does, he loves being a cheeky shit. If Phil wasn’t so nervous right now he’d probably call him a rat or kiss that grin off his face but he couldn’t get distracted now. There’s a loosely coherent speech in his head and he wants to get it all out.
He does deter slightly though, his words coming out more like a statement than a question, “You saw the ring!”
“The box,” Dan says before bringing Phil’s hands to his lips and kissing them softly. “Go on, finish your speech.”
Phil can tell Dan’s excited by the way his grin is pulling at his lips, defining the dimples Phil loves so dearly. He takes a deep breath, slow and steady, grounding himself.
“We’ve both said that marriage isn’t necessary and we’re fine without it but I know how much you love romance, and how you’ve dreamt of it since a child. And by asking you, it’s the biggest declaration of love I can do,” Phil says, voice barely above a whisper as if no one but them is allowed to hear this moment. “I’ve wanted to marry you from the time we met, I always knew you were my person and I think now, finally, is the perfect time to do just that.”
He can see Dan’s eyes grow wet as tears roll down his freckled cheeks. He had a feeling Dan would cry but he didn't prepare himself for this. Seeing him, emotions raw and pure and so full of love, makes Phil want to cry as well.
Instead of crying alongside his partner, he lifts one hand up to Dan’s cheek and swipes his thumb to shoo away the tears, “Don’t cry my love, I haven’t even asked the question yet.”
“I love you,” Dan says quietly.
He lets go of Dan fully then so he can pull the velvet box out of his pocket. He watches as Dan’s eyes train in on the box. He’s crying again and Phil can’t blame him, he’ll probably be crying in a moment as well.
He can feel his heart pound in his chest as he settles down on one knee and opens the little box to reveal the ring.
“Daniel James Howell, will you marry me?”
The world stops for a moment, the second between question and answer feels like aeons, Phil doesn’t even dare breathe as he kneels on the ground, pouring his heart out to the man he loves so dearly.
“Yes, oh my fucking God, yes!” Dan can’t hold back a sob.
Phil breathes then, letting out a shaky breath as he takes the slender ring out of the box, sliding it onto Dan’s hand. It looks perfect on his finger as if it was always meant to be there and Phil can no longer hold back his emotions. As Dan pulls him up off the ground and into his arms, Phil feels tears escape him. He nestles his head into the crook of Dan’s neck and squeezes him tight and they just stand there as the world around crackles with fireworks.
He never wants to let Dan go but eventually they pull apart and Dan’s glistening eyes are focused on the ring, “It’s beautiful but where’s yours?”
“I want you to choose it for me,” Phil says.
Dan grins back at him, “It’ll be an honour.”
There kissing then, mouths meeting softly, each kiss so full of love that Phil thinks he could melt on the spot.
“We’re getting married,” Phil muses against Dan’s lips.
Dan pulls back slightly, chuckling, “Finally! It’s only been like nine years.”
It’s been a very long time indeed and excitement rushes through him, “We have to tell mum! And your fam and Martyn and Corn!”
“In the morning babe,” Dan says, kissing him lightly. “For now I just want you.”
“2019 is going to be our year,” He says, reaching up to caress Dan’s delicate features. He still can’t quite process that this is actually happening. He never doubted that Dan’s answer would be yes but there’s no going back now.
“You’ve set high standards pretty early on,” Dan replies. He’s right, the standards are pretty damn high but he has a feeling that the rest of this year will follow suit.
Instead of saying that, he shrugs, “Wanted to start off with a bang.”
Dan’s gaze shifts to something darker, more sultry. It’s a look Phil knows all too well, “I know another kind of bang we can do.”
Phil giggles, “I like the sound of that.”
Dan closes the gap between them once again, lips brushing against his before dipping down to plant kisses along his jaw. Phil tilts his head back, giving Dan more room but before Dan’s lips could travel any further he pauses.
He looks up at Phil, eyes wide and plump lips slightly open, “You’re my fiancé now fuck.”
Dan says it with such genuine surprise that Phil can’t help but giggle, “Fiancé has a nice ring to it.”
“Quite literally,” Dan hold up his left hand, wriggling his ring finger.
Phil snorts at the pun, “Fiancé’s nice but I can’t wait to be your husband.”
Something about Dan’s face softens then as if the realisation of what’s yet to come finally hit him,
“Husband...” He whispers barely louder than a breath.
Phil likes the way it sounds coming from Dan’s mouth and he absolutely adores how soon they ’ll be just that.
“I love you,” He says as he takes Dan’s left hand in his, running his thumb over the smooth surface of the ring.
Dan smiles at him, “Love you so much, fiancé.”
“Happy new year,” Phil says, bring his lips to Dan’s once again.
“Happy new year, my love,” Dan smiles into the kiss and Phil can’t help but grin as he kisses him back. It’s too toothy but neither of them cares. Fireworks still light up the London sky as they stand there, kissing and kissing like time doesn’t matter. This year’s going to be a big one and Phil can’t wait because no matter what happens he has Dan by his side. Forever.