((the morning after))
It’s still dark outside, the room dimly lit by street lights shining in from the outside, bathing the flat in a soft, watery light. Niall lies on his back for a while, giving his eyes the time to adjust to the surroundings before he slides away from Harry - who’s lying flat on his stomach, lower body still wrapped up in the crème-coloured duvet - and out of the bed.
Niall pads around the bed and over to the bathroom to have a wee, where he realises this has been the first time he slept over at Harry’s. He reminds himself that it doesn’t mean anything, but can’t help the smile spreading across his face, can see it in the mirror in front of him when he washes his hands. He reminds himself that they were drunk last night and he stayed over because it was the most convenient thing to do, nothing more. Not because they’re taking things to the next level, no. Harry explicitly told him he doesn’t date. It’s fine, it’s casual, and it most definitely doesn’t mean anything. Neither does the fact that he now apparently has a pet name for Harry, nor does it mean anything that Harry took his time with Niall last night, counted every single one of his freckles and kissed them, worked his way down Niall’s chest and tummy until he finally wrapped his soft, hot lips around his throbbing dick and made him moan until he came on Harry’s tongue, and with Harry’s name half-stuck in his throat.
Niall moves closer to the mirror, inspecting his neck, the dark tiny bruises speckled over the left side of this throat and collarbone. A light purple colour with darker, red dots scattered all over them bloom on his skin. He touches the bruises with the tips of his fingers, runs them along his throat. He stares at the love bites for a while, fascinated by them, tentatively pushing his fingers into the flesh, to see if it'll hurt. It doesn't, though, it's a pleasant feeling, actually, a reminder of what happened and how gently Harry sucked on his freckles. It doesn't mean anything, he reminds himself, taking a step back from the sink, turning to the side and to take one last look at himself before he takes a deep breath and steps out of the bathroom.
Back in the other room, his tummy growls loudly and with a glance to Harry’s watch on the bedside table, he decides it’s definitely time for breakfast. He tiptoes around the bed, careful not to wake Harry, looking for some clothes to throw on and get breakfast. He's just slipping into his jogging bottoms when Harry stirs in the bed behind him. He lets out a soft growl, and Niall turns around to face him.
'Hey, sleepyhead,' Niall says.
Harry's eyes are two thin slits, face scrunched up and his mouth wide open as he yawns, 'Morning.'
His voice is gravelly and rough just like he sounds when he allows Niall to fuck his throat. Niall swallows and wills the mental image to go away.
‘Alright?’ he asks.
‘Head,’ Harry says, grimacing and giving him a long-suffering look.
Niall doesn’t even try to be sympathetic about it and laughs. ‘That calls for a hangover breakfast, c’mon. Was just gettin’ dressed to go out.’
Harry groans loudly in response and pulls the blanket over his head like a petulant child, and Niall can’t stop laughing. It’s ridiculous, the way Harry’s buried underneath the duvet but his bare back on full display. Niall can’t resist and crawls over to give him a little smack on the bum.
It’s harder than he meant to and Harry lets out a squeal, muffled by the duvet.
‘Up, up. Let’s go,’ he says while watching Harry’s bum turn a bit pink in the form of his handprint. He blushes and thinks he could very well stay here and stay in bed with Harry, but his stomach is still growling and a hot cup of strong coffee and some bacon and eggs sound just as inviting to him.
‘I’m hungry,’ he leans over and sinks his teeth into the smooth flesh of Harry’s left arse cheek. When he leans back up he’s looking at Harry, whose head is sticking out of the blanket hole he’s disappeared in, wild curls sticking all over the place.
‘You tryin’ to get me out of bed? Because that’s just counterproductive.’
Niall grins back at him, ‘Alright. Breakfast first.’
((talking to josh about harry & the bracelet))
‘He’s just, you know, he just doesn’t. He doesn’t talk about things like that, you know. I don’t think he likes talking about his feelings and all that,’ Niall says, words already slurring together, tongue heavy in his mouth. His left hand is holding on to a pint glass, the other one to Josh’s arm.
‘Like, I know he said he doesn’t want to date but things have changed, yeah?’ He looks at Josh for approval and tries to read his face, but it’s proving very difficult in the state he’s in.
'I mean. You've seen the bracelet he got me for Christmas, yeah?' He lifts his arm and holds up his wrist right before Josh's face for emphasis. Josh only nods. It’s making him antsy, could it be that he’s imagining things and he’s delusional for thinking that Harry might feel the same?
'That means something, right?' he blurts out and lets his arm sink down and rest on his leg while taking a pull from his almost empty bottle. He keeps looking at Josh, determined to get an answer out of him.
'Well, it definitely means something, but I can't tell you what. I don’t know what to tell you mate, unless the only one who really can give you an answer to that question is Harry, yeah? Have you asked him about it or did he say anything when he gave it to you?'
Niall has to close his eyes for a moment, thinking back to the day Harry put the bracelet around his wrist. He remembers that Harry’s fingers were cold, as though he was a bit nervous, holding on to Niall’s wrist and pushing the leather down gently, closing it but not letting go of Niall right away. He certainly lingered for a while, his slightly rough fingertips skitting across Niall’s skin that felt like it was burning up, pulse rabbiting and heart hammering in his chest. Niall remembers how he held his breath for a second or two, not daring to look Harry in the eyes, afraid of what he’d be able to see in them. Looking back, he’s not certain if he was afraid to read something in them or not, his eyes were glued to the bracelet on his wrist and Harry’s hand wrapped around it in his lap, running his thumb across the leather before letting it go. He remembers Harry saying it looked good on him and feeling bold all of a sudden, leaning forward to pull him in, to tell him how happy he felt without any words. He let his lips speak a language that Harry seemed to understand.
‘Hey, you still with me?’ Josh is leaning over and lightly shaking Niall by the shoulder, jolting him out of his thoughts.
Niall’s vision blurs a little, maybe he’s had a few too much to drink but that doesn’t change anything about his feelings and the confusion that comes with it. ‘Nah, just that he saw it and it reminded him of me.‘
Josh nods his head once, looks contemplative and Niall’s head starts hurting with the way he’s trying to figure out what Josh is thinking. ‘So what do you think?’ he asks, feeling restless and impatient.
‘Well, I mean,’ Josh starts, ‘obviously he cares about you. The thing is, does he care about you as a friend, or is it more? I understand that you want to know but seriously, Niall. I’m going to be honest with you here, bro. He told you he’s not dating and that he isn’t looking for something serious, so maybe you should take his word for it. Do you think you could maybe talk to him about it? You know him better than I do, and I don’t think I can judge if it’d be a good idea or not.’
Niall feels himself nodding his head, but he feels a little woozy and confused.
((easter hols/trip stuff))
Niall’s cheek feels warm and a bit sticky with sweat, but he doesn’t want to move away from where he’s lying on Harry’s chest. His head rises with every slow breath Harry takes in his sleep, and Niall just listens to the easy beat of Harry’s heart with his eyes closed, trying to doze off again. It feels like he’s been up for an hour or so, has always been an early riser — unlike Harry — but today he doesn’t want to get up just yet and wake him up.
He opens his eyes and lifts his head up off Harry’s chest, glancing at his face. He’s still sleeping, his mouth opened the tiniest bit, letting out tiny puffs of air. Niall carefully pushes himself off Harry, crawling up the bed to plant a kiss on his jaw. He looks down at him, face relaxed and peaceful — he looks so young when he’s asleep, unguarded and at ease — and Niall smiles despite himself.
Niall's reaching out for him, but Harry swerves and makes a dash to the door, shouting something about Niall packing up his stuff and leaving before he comes back.
Just as the door hits shut with a loud bang, Niall can’t hold himself up any longer and he slumps to the ground, almost like a puppet whose strings have been cut. A loud sob escapes his mouth and it’s the sort of sob that makes your whole body shudder, runs through you with the power of a wave pulling you under water.
He’s tried so hard to keep it together around Harry. He gives in and lets the tears run over his cheeks, hot and wet. It feels like he’s barely holding it together, not exactly sure what’s holding him together, because he feels like he’s coming apart at the seams. His throat burns and the ache in his chest is so dominant, so all-encompassing that he’s overwhelmed with it, wonders how this all even happened just now. He feels numb all over, it’s the only way he can describe it, caught so off guard he doesn’t understand what just happened. It came out of nowhere, the accusations and Harry’s defensiveness.
BONUS SCENE (Sequel)
‘Wake up,’ Niall whispers into Harry’s ear, softly blowing hot air onto the spot he just kissed right beneath it. Harry doesn’t move. He tries again, this time his lips graze Harry’s ear shell as he whispers into it. Niall runs his hands along Harry’s ribs, moves in closer, the skin under his fingers sleep-warm and softer than the blanket around them.
‘Come on, wake up,’ he goes on and on, repeats it until he feels Harry’s body stir next to his and then he gets a little louder, his hands skimming over Harry’s back and sides a little quicker, a little firmer. Niall doesn’t stop until he can hear a deep whine coming from Harry’s throat.
‘Hmmph,’ he growls and Niall laughs, kisses Harry’s cheek between a couple more ‘wake ups’, until he finally raises his head to look at Niall. His eyes are slits, his cheeks warm and red. ‘Why did I take you here again?’
Niall puts on a smug smile, ‘Because I’m the date to your sister’s wedding. You need to show everyone what a catch I am, that’s why.’
Barely even visible, Harry rolls his eyes and flops face-front back into the pillow and groans.
Pulling the blanket down a little to expose Harry’s shoulder, Niall leans down to kiss it and mumble, ‘Get up with me, I want breakfast. ‘‘m hungry.’ His stomach growls in response.
‘Please,’ he whines, moving up and tries to push his nose in the space between the pillow and Harry’s face, but it ends up somewhere in the mass of Harry’s hair and it tickles him.
Harry rolls around to lie on his back and Niall is quick to follow up and snuggle up to him, cuddling with Harry in the mornings when they don’t have to get up and be somewhere is one of his favourite things. The time when Harry’s still too sleepy to do anything about it – not that he’d ever turned down cuddles from him before – and the day hasn’t started yet, there’s no rush to do anything but this.
‘Did you hear that, my stomach is grumpy and needs to be tamed,’ he speaks into Harry’s neck.
‘You could just get up and bring food here, we haven’t had breakfast in bed in a while.’ Harry’s voice is still raw, sleep-heavy and exactly the way Niall likes it.
‘But I don’t know where anything is, and I didn’t want to go through all their cupboards on my own. Come with me.’
Harry’s hands find their way around Niall’s torso, and it’s not fair because he’s ticklish and as soon as Harry starts to move his hands along Niall’s sides he squeaks and tries to move out of their embrace.
‘Don’t do that,’ he laughs, a little breathless because they’ve been together for a while now and long enough for Harry to know how to push Niall’s buttons, and it really isn’t fair.
‘Stop it,’ he yelps again as he kicks his feet so immensely that the blanket is almost gone and half hanging off the bed, both of them exposed now.
With one swift move, Harry rolls them over and pins Niall down to the mattress, hovers over him and says, ‘No, you stop it. You’re only trying to get me to make you breakfast and I’m not falling for it.’
Niall has to smile because maybe he’s right, but he won’t be the one to admit anything. ‘I just don’t want to be rude, you know. It’s their new house, they just moved here, so I don’t know. Didn’t feel right to just go and help myself to making breakfast,’ he shrugs.
‘Uh-huh,’ says Harry with a grin and leans down to kiss Niall, a proper kiss with lips and tongue and morning breath.
‘You know what I want for breakfast?’ Harry slides down the bed and leaves kisses on his way down from Niall’s chest to the waistband of his pants.
‘Think you’re gonna tell me what you want, aren’t you?’ Niall says, craning his neck to look down at Harry.
‘Hmm,’ Harry hums and buries his nose into Niall’s belly button. ‘Want your dick for breakfast.’
Niall splutters at how bad the line is, laughing partly because it’s such a Harry thing to say, and partly because he still gets a bit nervous whenever Harry is being so vocal about what he wants to do to Niall. He wonders if he will ever get used to it, if it will ever be less exciting than it is now.
‘When do you not want that,’ he counters, voice light and easy, raising one eyebrow as a challenge.
‘True,’ Harry grins, and starts pulling his pants off, breathing hotly against the coarse hair of Niall’s happy trail.
‘Are you sure we should do this here,’ Niall asks. ‘I mean. In their bed?’
‘It’s not really their bed, Niall,’ Harry says, then goes right for Niall’s still half limp cock and licks at it like a kitten, tentatively, and curious, keeping his eyes on Niall the whole time.
‘You know what I mean,’ he sighs, ‘It’s their guest room. Their house.’ He waves his hands about, just to give them something to do. ‘They’re in the house right now, what if they hear?’
‘We’re doing them a favour, really. We’re christening the house.’ Harry shrugs and goes down on Niall’s dick, takes him in halfway and lingers, swirls the tongue around so that Niall can’t help but press his lips together, wanting to keep quiet. He doesn’t know if he wants to laugh or groan.
‘Not our house, not our job,’ he hisses, jaw tight, but it’s lost on Harry who’s busy taking Niall’s dick in earnest now and couldn’t care less. Niall gives up and closes his eyes, lets his head fall backwards into the pillow and goes with it.
‘You coming?’ he calls over his shoulder, hand holding the door open for Harry, who’s just pulling a t-shirt over his head. His hair is wet, dripping onto the t-shirt as soon as he’s got it on, and Niall thinks about the way the water poured over Harry’s head and neck only mere moments ago when they were in the shower together.
He clears his throat and Harry walks out of the room slowly, says ‘Alright, alright.’ When he walks past Niall, he grabs him gently by the nape of his neck and plants a kiss on Niall’s forehead. ‘You’re an insufferable prick today, you know that?’
It makes him smile, because maybe that was secretly his intention all along, and maybe he loves to tease Harry a little, anything to keep his mind from worrying about things he shouldn’t worry about. It’s the day before Gemma and Liam’s wedding, and Harry’s been awfully quiet lately, even more than usual, and whatever works to distract him is fine with Niall. They didn’t exactly talk about it - it’s more of a gut feeling, he's been with Harry for long enough to know when something is up, when something bothers him that keeps him up at night and makes him write more than he usually does - but Niall figures they don’t have to. He figures that when Harry is ready, he’ll come around, always has.