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Love You More

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It was early morning. The just-after-6am mid-June sun shone onto the ceiling, sneaking into the room through the gap in the top of the curtains. Outside, through the slightly open window, the birdsong was loud but relaxing, and the gentle breeze caused the curtains to ripple slightly. Inside, the air was still and sleepy, the hotel room slightly disorganized and housing a single human-sized lump curled up under the covers on the queen-sized bed.

It was like this moment could last forever; that nothing in the world could disturb it.

Well, that is until the chime of an incoming Instagram message did just that.

Charlie Spring turned over on the ridiculously soft memory foam mattress and reached out from under the duvet for his phone which sat, plugged in and charging on the bedside table.

The screen lit up, blinding him for a second and leaving him unable to read the notification that had come through. He took a second to let himself adjust to the brightness before properly looking at his phone.

Without unlocking the screen, Charlie was able to read the message his best friend, Tao had sent in the group chat.

‘I feel like there’s something huge supposed to be happening today. But I can’t think what. 🤣🤣’

Charlie couldn’t help the small smile at the message before focusing his attention to the picture behind the notification. It was a selfie of himself and his high-school sweetheart, Nick. They had huge smiles and bright eyes and looked almost giddy with happiness, despite clearly being soaked through from rain; because what you couldn’t see in the photograph was the shiny engagement ring that Nick had slipped onto Charlie’s finger only seconds before the snap had been taken.

Charlie rubbed his thumb fondly over the picture of the smiling blonde man and not for the first time since 3pm yesterday wished that he was here with him right now.

Choosing not to reply to the message straight away, Charlie flipped over onto his back, throwing one arm over his face with the other outstretched, still clutching his phone. He was tired, but if anyone asked he was telling them that Tao’s message sent at the arse-crack-of-dawn had been the thing that woke him up and not that he’d been unable to sleep since 2.37 that morning due to the ridiculous amount of butterflies fluttering in his stomach.

The phone chimed again a few more times, and a chuckle bubbled from Charlie. He couldn’t remember there ever being a time the group chat had been this active this early in the day, and it made him giddy with excitement knowing just why all his friends were awake.

Flicking through the messages that had come through, Charlie noticed that Nick was inactive in the group chat. But there, sitting in his notification bar was a single message, a private one meant only for his eyes.

‘I can’t sleep properly without you beside me. xx’

The smile on Charlie’s face was so big he was almost glowing. He quickly unlocked his phone, ignored the group chat for a moment and focused solely on the message from his fiance.

‘Funny. I slept like a baby without you snoring in my ear all night.’

Charlie watched his screen with a grin, waiting for a response. Only a second after the message was marked as ‘seen’, Charlie’s phone was ringing.

“I think you hurt my feelings,” Nick’s voice accused in greeting.

“Good morning to you too,” Charlie scoffed back.

“Wait… does this phone call break the ‘not seeing each other the night before the wedding’ tradition?”

“I don’t know, Nick,” Charlie rolled his eyes, teasingly “I thought you’d know that considering this was all your idea.”

“Hey… I can’t help that I’m a romantic,” Nick sighed dreamily. “I miss you though.”

“Well, I did tell you this tradition was stupid…”

“You’re right. We are never spending the night apart again, okay?”

“You are so needy, Mr Nelson.”

“Mhmm. And you’re going to continue pretending you actually slept the whole night?”

“I don’t know what you’re on about, Nicholas. I already told you, I slept like a baby.”

“I don’t snore,” Nick defended himself playfully.

Before Charlie could even think of a reply, his hotel door flew open and Tao almost fell into the room.

“Who are you on the phone to?” He demanded to know, the second he righted himself. “It better not be who I think it is!”

“Get out, Tao!” Charlie cried at the intruder, scrambling out the other side of the bed as his best friend rushed over to him, attempting to snatch the phone out of his hand.

In his ear, Nick was laughing.

“You’re not supposed to see each other until the ceremony!” Tao exclaimed, trying to corner Charlie by rounding the bed. The tall, skinny lad just catapulted back over the bed again, holding his free hand out in front of him to stop Tao from approaching.

“We can’t see each other! It’s just a phone call!”

“That’s the same thing!” Tao argued pointlessly, stopping at the end of the bed and crossing his arms, giving Charlie his signature glare. Charlie knew he had roughly t-minus 5 seconds before Tao tackled him to the ground.

“I’ll let you go, Char,” Nick told him, still laughing at the interaction he was overhearing. “I’ll see you later.”

“Fine,” Charlie grumbled, turning his back on his best friend and focusing all his attention back to the phone call. “I love you.”

“I love you more,” Nick reeled off his usual reply instinctively but said it with no less meaning. “Just don’t get cold feet, okay?”

“I could never,” Charlie told him honestly. “You run too hot. If my feet did get cold I would just warm them up back up by sticking them on you.”

Behind him, Tao made retching noises, which made both Charlie and Nick simultaneously burst into giggles.

~ N&C ~

The ceremony wasn’t until 11, and Nick had no idea why he had to be up at such a god-forsaken hour. Not that he’d been sleeping much anyway.

He’d been completely truthful when he’d sent Charlie that first message; he really couldn’t sleep properly without Charlie in his arms. They had been sleeping beside each other since they’d been 17 and 16 respectively. It had never been every night (mostly cause Charlie’s parents had insisted they sleep in separate rooms whenever they had one of their countless sleepovers) and for a while, when Nick went to Uni they barely saw each other, let alone had the opportunity to sleep together (although - there were a few times where Charlie came to visit him and they had to squeeze together on the tiny single bed in his dorm. Although, in all fairness, he could distinctively remember that they never got much sleep on those nights.). But the second Nick had left Uni, they’d moved into a flat together and they had spent almost every single night since beside one another.

However, the other reason he hadn’t got much sleep last night was because he was equal parts nervous and excited for today. It was a day he’d been dreaming of sharing with Charlie since that day at the beach where they’d officially declared themselves boyfriends. Some might accuse him of having been too young and too early on in their relationship to have known what he’d really wanted back then - but from the moment they’d met, everything had felt right. Charlie made the world more vibrant and exciting; without him, everything was dull and dark. Charlie was his everything; he always had been and always would be. Today, they were just making it official.

“Nicholas Nelson - you better be decent in there!”

Nick, who was sat up, with his back against the headboard, burst out laughing and called through the hotel door.

“It’s safe to enter, Darcy!”

There was a bit of commotion on the other side of the door, as Darcy and Tara bickered between themselves quietly as they tried to work out which card unlocked Nick’s hotel room, but suddenly they were both in his hotel room - dressed in jeans and tank tops, despite it being only half 6 in the bloody morning.

“Oh thank god!” Darcy breathed a dramatic sigh of relief when she could finally see that Nick, was in fact, decent. “I thought I was going to have to bleach my eyes… again!”

“Hey!” Nick exclaimed, knowing what his friend was referencing. “It’s not my fault you decided to just barge into mine and Charlie’s room without knocking first!”

That had been an experience. Every single one of their friends had been gifted a key to Charlie and Nick’s flat, and one day Darcy had decided she couldn’t wait to tell them about the new job she got and had just burst into their bedroom without a care in the world.

She’d sat on their sofa afterwards, wrapped in a blanket, wide-eyed, red in the face and nursing a hot chocolate that Charlie had made for her and had whispered in horror;

“Yep. Definitely a lesbian.”

She’d been, understandably, careful about walking in on them ever since.

“And besides, what did you think you were going to walk in and see? I told you it was safe to enter,” Nick teased playfully.

“I was expecting to see you wrapped around Charlie, actually,” Darcy laughed as she jumped onto the bed, laying down, arms outstretched beside Nick. Tara perched herself on the edge of the bed. “Everyone knows you can’t sleep without him. I had a bet going against Elle; I said that you’d either smuggle Charlie in here, or you’d sneak into his room. Elle said that you’d be able to keep your hands off each other for one night, but I told her that would be impossible because you haven’t been able to keep your hands off each other since forever.”

~ N&C ~

It was only an hour until the ceremony, and Charlie was 90% certain he was going to throw up the minimal breakfast he’d managed to eat. He’d sat still for what felt like literally hours as the hairstylist they’d hired worked on his hair; not that he thought it looked any different to how he normally looked.

He was dressed already, in his black trousers and pure white shirt. He was also wearing his waistcoat, but it was unbuttoned, as were the top two buttons of his shirt. His bright yellow tie and his suit jacket were still up in his room, waiting for him to return and put them on.

He’d needed a few minutes though and had ventured down to the back of the hotel where he was unlikely to run into anyone. The door to the hotel’s gorgeous garden was propped open, allowing the warm morning breeze to flow through the building and that’s where Charlie propped himself - leaning against the doorframe, with his hands in his pocket as he looked out over the large grassy field.

“There you are.”

Charlie looked over his shoulder at the sound of Elle’s voice. She was approaching him, feet bare but hair and make up already perfect and wedding-ready. The halter dress she was wearing was navy blue, knee-length and absolutely stunning.

“Elle,” Charlie beamed, straightening up and turning to engulf her in a hug. “You look amazing!”

“Of course I do,” Elle smiled at him, squeezing him tightly. “I’ve been looking for you everywhere. What are you doing down here?”

“Just taking a moment,” Charlie shrugged, pulling gently out of the hug and returning to lean against the doorframe. Elle slid up beside him and looped her arm around his before resting her head on his shoulder.

“Are you…” She paused. “Are you reconsidering?”

“What?” Charlie exclaimed, turning to look at her in complete outrage and shock. “ No! Not even a little bit! I want this more than anything! It’s just… so busy up there… and I just needed some air for a few minutes.”

Elle squeezed his arm in comfort and stood with him silently for a minute.

“It’s beautiful here,” Elle commented eventually, talking about the venue and the garden they were currently observing.

“It really is. D’you know why we picked this hotel? In this stupid little town barely 30 minutes from home?”

“No?” Elle answered curiously, raising her head and giving Charlie her full attention.

“I’d just turned 20. It was one of those rare times Nick got some time off Uni and we arranged to go to Cornwall for a few days. He drove all the way down from Leeds to pick me up but the second we got on the motorway, we broke down. We spent an hour on the side of the road waiting for the AA and then they couldn’t get it starting again and dropped us off here, in the nearest town,” Charlie stopped for a minute, a smile on his face. It was clear he was reliving the moment. “We knew we could have called either of our Mum’s and they would have picked us up… but that would have meant staying at home… in separate bedrooms, because our parents still had that stupid rule about not sleeping in the same room even though we were god damn adults. So we found this little hotel and stayed here for a few days while the car was fixed up in the local garage and we fell in love with the place.”

“Wait - so you made us all believe you actually went to Cornwall when in actual fact you were here?”

“Yep. Did you not wonder why there were no photos and why we were always so vague about what we got up to?”

“We all just assumed you spent most of the time hauled up in your hotel room doing what horny-kids-in-love do!”

“Well… we were hauled up in our hotel room doing what ‘horny -kids-in-love do’,” Charlie laughed loudly. “Anyway, when Nick proposed, he told me he had a venue in mind - and when he told me it was here - I couldn’t think of anywhere more perfect. It is perfect.”

“Even the weather’s perfect,” Elle commented, nodding towards the bright blue sky and warm sun. “You picked a beautiful day.”

“It’s not going to last.”

Both Charlie and Elle jumped at the interruption and looked over at Isaac who had somehow managed to sneak up beside them silently. He was dressed in a black suit with a blue bow tie and for once, the man didn’t have a book in his hand.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Elle asked him, slipping her other arm around his and pulling him closer.

“I keep checking the weather forecast. They reckon by midday we’re going to have a downpour.”

Charlie smiled again.

“Well, me and Nick seem to have a habit of doing things in the rain.”

The trio chuckled, remembering the moments Charlie was referencing before Isaac spoke again.

“Oh, by the way - Tao is looking for you two and I’m pretty sure he’s going to murder you both for disappearing.”

~ N&C ~

“Are you ready, Nicky?”

Nick smiled at his Mum as she straightened out his royal blue tie, even though there was not really any need to.

“More than ready,” He told her honestly. Even though his heart was beating 100 miles a minute and he was certain it would burst out of his chest at any second, he wanted this more than he’d ever wanted anything else.

“I am so proud of you, sweetheart,” She stood on her tip-toes, for even in high heels she was still a few inches shorter than her youngest son, and pressed a chaste kiss to his forehead.

“Thanks, Mum,” Nick could feel himself welling up as he wrapped his arms around the woman and held her tightly. He blinked away the tears as quickly as possible, not wanting his eyes to be red-rimmed when he saw Charlie for the first time today.

“Oh gosh, I promised myself I wouldn’t cry,” Sarah pulled out of the hug, and even though there were a few tears trickling down her cheeks, she had a huge smile on her face.

“Mum,” Nick laughed, wiping at his own eyes desperately. “We’ve not even said ‘I do’ yet.”

“I know,” She sobbed. “All I can say is thank God for waterproof mascara!”

~ N&C ~

The ceremony had been a quiet affair, with only their closest friends and family invited. The hotel wasn’t huge, but it was cosy and warm and every inch of it was beautiful.

They’d finally come face-to-face again for the first time in 20 hours at the end of the aisle, and everything around them had faded away. That moment boiled down to just the two of them and nothing else in the world mattered.

They’d linked their hands and walked down the aisle, pretty much lost in each other's eyes and both somehow resisting the urge to stop everything and kiss before they’d even made it to the front of the room.

Their vows had been the traditional ones because both Nick and Charlie had agreed that they didn’t need personalised words to express how much they loved each other. It was clear to anyone with eyes that they were as in love with each other as it was possible to be - probably even more so if you cared to ask their friends.

Then the registrar was saying the magic words, and Nick swept Charlie into his arms and kissed him like he was the most important person in his life - because, in every sense of the word, he really was.

And so, in less than half an hour, they’d exchanged their vows, exchanged their rings, signed the marriage certificate and were officially Mr and Mr Nelson-Spring.

~ N&C ~

“Where are they?” Tao grumbled, checking his phone under the table for what felt like the sixtieth time. Lunch was meant to have been served 20 minutes ago, but they couldn’t exactly have the three-course-wedding-meal without the main couple.

After the ceremony, the photographer had worked her magic and had snapped pictures like her life depended on it. She’d taken tonnes of photographs of Nick and Charlie, then they’d done group photos and then when she started focusing on photos of the guests without the newlyweds, Nick and Charlie had disappeared.

No one had seen them since.

“You don’t think they’d actually ditch the wedding do you?” Aled asked, almost nervously.

“Nah,” Isaac shook his head, and flicked a page of his latest book, ‘Red, White and Royal Blue ’. He’d stashed his book in the inside pocket of his suit jacket in case of emergencies. He classed the newlyweds making them wait, an emergency.

“I’m pretty sure Nick’s been planning this day since he came out,” Tara reassured them all again, checking her phone for the time. “I highly doubt they that they just abandoned us without warning.”

“Also - weddings cost a fortune. They’d be silly to just disappear,” Elle added, knowing just how much even this small event had cost her friends.

“I’m telling you,” Darcy spoke with her mouth full, a half-eaten bread roll in her hand. “They’re snuck off somewhere to get freaky. Did you not see the bedroom eyes they kept giving each other?”

“I doubt that Darce,” Tara told her girlfriend. “I don’t think that they would do that. They wouldn’t keep us all waiting just to… ‘get freaky’ .”

“Wanna bet?”

Almost as soon as the words had left her mouth, Nick and Charlie walked into the room, looking both flushed and smug and stupidly happily. Although they still looked good in their fitted, matching suits, they didn’t look quite as sharp as they had for the ceremony or the pictures. The hard work the hairstylist had done had clearly gone to waste, with both of them sporting slightly ruffled looks. Nick’s jacket was unbuttoned and Charlie’s shirt was creased. It was obvious to anyone who knew that they had indeed taken themselves off and to ‘get freaky’ , with the biggest giveaway being their ties. Charlie had started the day off in a yellow tie but was now sporting a blue one… and Nick had been wearing the blue tie at the ceremony but was now dressed in the yellow one. 

Tao narrowed his eyes at the pair as they moved around the few tables, watching them apologise for their temporary absence. They at least had the decency to look slightly sheepish when they approached the parent’s table and Charlie’s Mum pointed out the tie-swap.

Darcy held her hand out towards Tara who sighed and reached into her clutch bag to pull out the tenner she had stuffed there. She slapped it into her girlfriend’s hand with a playful grumble about how life was unfair.

~ N&C ~

Isaac had been right. When they’d finally sat down and started lunch, the windows which overlooked the hotel gardens showed the bright blue sky quickly darkening and halfway through the meal the heavens had opened.

As soon as lunch was over, and before they could start the speeches, Charlie dragged Nick and the photographer outside in the pouring rain with umbrellas and made her retake some of their photos. They had more fun with these photos, both of them clearly forgetting the photographer was there and just enjoying being together.

When they finally came back inside, they were slightly damp from the rain. One of the hotel staff offered them thick fluffy towels which they used to dry off their hair, messing up the work of the hairstylist even more, neither caring about looking perfect if their laughter was anything to go by.

A round of champagne was quickly served and they were ready for the speeches.

Charlie and Nick hadn’t opted for the traditional order of speeches and had asked Tao as their joint best man to make the first one.

“I wanna start by saying, I fully intended this speech to be hilarious. However, it ended up being super sentimental and I couldn’t bring myself to change it. So, you get what you get.

When I met Nick, he was the straightest straight guy I’d ever met. We didn’t get on to begin with, and I’m ashamed to admit that I tried more than once to put a stop to Charlie’s crush - I didn’t want him to get hurt when this rugby-obsessed-golden-retriever inevitably started dating a girl. But then somewhere along the way, although I’m pretty sure it was instant, they fell in love. And suddenly Nick Nelson wasn’t the straightest straight guy anymore. Suddenly he was Charlie’s boyfriend… and eventually, he became one of my best friends.

And, Charlie. We’ve been friends forever, haven’t we? You’ve literally been there for me through everything and I can think of no one who deserves this more than you do. I knew from the moment you made googly-eyes at rugby-king Nick Nelson that you were a goner, no matter what I tried to do to stop it.

I love these two dorks, and it has been a pleasure to watch them fall so madly in love. There has never been two people more suited to each other, and I wish them a long and happy life together. Congratulations guys.”

Tori made a speech next, making an effort to look as reluctant as possible, but failing miserably; it was clear how happy she was for her brother and new brother-in-law. She held her glass of champagne and downed it completely before she started. 

“When Nick and Charlie were planning the wedding, Charlie asked me if I’d do a speech. I’m not entirely sure why as he knows public speaking isn’t really my thing. However, for some reason, I love my brother a great deal and I could tell this was important to him and so I agreed.

I’ve spent months trying to plan what to say, but nothing ever felt right and I still didn’t have anything planned last night so I wrote this speech on the back of a napkin at breakfast this morning - so if it’s rubbish, that will be why.

Okay - here goes…

Well done. I’m proud of you.”

She finished it off by picking up Michael’s champagne glass and taking a dramatic sip before sitting back down.

Nick’s Mum’s speech followed Tori’s.

“I promised myself I wouldn’t cry today, but I don’t think I’ve stopped. In fact, I don’t think I’ve stopped crying since the day my Nicky sat me down and told me all about how he doesn’t just like girls, he likes boys as well and how his best friend Charlie Spring, the boy who makes his whole face light up just by walking in the room, was in fact his boyfriend.

Of course, I wasn’t completely surprised. Like I said - Nick would light up at even the mention of Charlie; and the way he cared so deeply for him. He was different with Charlie than he was with his other friends… a good different. And, they also weren’t quite as subtle as I think they thought they were. So, while I had my suspicions, I was never certain until Nick sat me down and told me.

And I just haven't stopped crying since. Happy tears of course. It’s impossible not to be happy for Nick and Charlie. They’re the very embodiment of true love and I think that if we all loved like they love each other, the world would be a much happier place.

Charlie, you are an absolute gem and my Nicky is very lucky to have you. I have thought of you as my own son since before you left school and it is nice to finally make it official.

You both make me ridiculously proud, and I am so happy for you. Congratulations boys. Oh God - I’m crying again.”

The last speech was given by Charlie’s Dad, whose words had everyone welling up.

“When Charlie was 5 years old, he asked me;

Daddy; can a boy marry another boy?’

Me and Jane had always been open and accepting of gender and sexuality in our home, wanting our children to grow up in a welcoming, accepting household. But he was young, and this question didn’t surprise me. I sat down with him and told him that of course, a boy could marry another boy. As long as two people loved each other very much they could get married - it didn’t matter if it was a boy and a girl, two boys or two girls. He seemed happy with this explanation and then told me;

‘I don’t like girls, Daddy. I’m going to marry a boy, okay?’

I said;

‘That’s absolutely fine, my lad,’ and then took him out for ice cream.

After that, it seemed like every week Charlie was coming home and telling us about how he was going to marry this boy-in-his-class or that boy-in-his-class. How he loved this boy and that boy. He was never secretive about it, and we never once discouraged him.

Then he reached Year 4 and he seemed to become very shy and he stopped talking about which boy he loved and which boy he was going to marry. We just assumed that he was starting to reach the age where it wasn’t ‘cool’ to share such things with your parents and that he wanted to keep his crushes to himself. He would barely mention another boy’s name in our presence - but there was no hiding the blush he’d get every time that boy from one of Tori’s Disney Channel shows was on TV.

Despite being so open with us about boys all throughout primary school, Charlie still felt the need to officially come out to us when he was 13. He blurted it out one night over tea. I remember; we were eating spaghetti bolognaise and everyone around the table just froze. We didn’t say anything because we were shocked he’d felt like he had to say it, that it wasn’t obvious to him that we already knew.

Charlie started crying, apologising over and over again. He tried telling us he was joking, and I realised that by not saying anything he’d thought we were unsupportive. Me and Jane were instantly out of our seats hugging him and reassuring him that what he’d just told us was amazing and beautiful and we loved him no differently.

Later that year, he was outed at school. I won’t dampen the mood with the details, but it was a dark time for Charlie and it broke my heart to see him struggle so much and be ridiculed and bullied by his peers over something that makes him so wonderful.

Things, thankfully, eventually got better.

And then he met Nick. And there was something about Nick that had Charlie acting like that 5-year-old boy who told me over ice-creams that he was going to marry a Prince one day and be King of Rochester.

There were a few times, especially at the beginning, where I thought it wasn’t going to work out - that it was just a typical school crush that he would look back on years later and laugh about.

But it very quickly became obvious that that wasn’t going to be the case… because Nick Nelson made my boy feel like a Prince… a King of not just Rochester, but the King of the whole world.

Nick has been there for my son through so much shit, supported him through every dark day and every light one. I can’t even begin to find the words to thank him enough for that. I really don’t know where Charlie would be without Nick. He brings out the best in Charlie; always has done and always will do. I don’t think there is anyone out there who is more perfect for my boy.

So I’d like to make a toast to the newlyweds; may your life be filled with nothing but sunshine, love and happiness. You both deserve nothing less.

And Nicholas, my son, welcome to the family.”

~ N&C ~

The evening went off without a hitch. A few more guests arrived for the evening celebrations, there were a few more photos and the cake cutting and then it was time for the first dance.

Neither Nick nor Charlie were very good dancers, and they’d refused to go to dance classes just for this like Tao had suggested and they were definitely not doing the Dirty Dancing routine either despite Darcy’s insistence.

They were both a little nervous about messing up, but they decided it would make for a good story if they did.

But when it came to it, and Ellie Goulding’s ‘How Long Will I Love You’ started playing, they realised that they didn’t have cause to be nervous. They slotted together perfectly, wrapped in each other’s arms; Charlie rested his head on Nick’s shoulder and Nick closed his eyes, holding Charlie as close to him as he could. And they just swayed, using this moment to really soak in the day and just how much it meant to them both.

As the song came to a close, and their friends and family showered them with tonnes of confetti, Charlie lifted his head. His eyes were round and wet but he was wearing a big, dimpled smile.

“I love you Nick Nelson-Spring.”

“I love you more, Charlie Nelson-Spring.”

~ N&C ~

After the first dance, the buffet was brought out and the party really got started. Nick and Charlie were barely seen apart; they were either on the dance floor or sitting at the side in each other’s laps, kissing.

Eventually, the night wore on and slowly some of the guests started trickling out. Oliver was the first to leave with his 9-month-old daughter, Lily, asleep on his shoulder. He apologised for ditching so early (even though it was nearly 11.30 at night) and promised to have a proper catch up with Charlie after the honeymoon.

Everything was hired out until 1.30am, but it had been a long day, and at almost midnight, Nick could see Charlie’s eyes starting to droop, even if his smile didn’t. Deciding it was time, he went over to his Mum, told her that he was taking Charlie to bed (and he reiterated to her that they would in fact be sleeping - to which she laughed and told him to get out of here), expressed his thanks, wished her good night and then approached his husband.

“Hi,” Nick whispered to him, crouching down in front of the chair he was currently slumped in.

Charlie sat up slightly and his smile seemed to grow.

“Hi!”

“You wanna come with me?”

“I always wanna go with you,” Charlie smiled, taking the hand that Nick held out in invitation. He let Nick lead him across the room. “Where we going?”

“To bed; you’re half asleep,” Nick chuckled at him, slinging an arm over his shoulder and pulling him close.

“Wait - shouldn’t we tell people we’re leaving?” Charlie asked as they made their way to the exit. He looked over his shoulder at their family and friends still dancing and chatting the night away, none of them noticing they were leaving. “It is our wedding after all.”

“It’s okay; I told my Mum we were sneaking out.”

“Sneaking out,” Charlie giggled, covering his mouth with his hand as Nick guided him out the room and through the hotel. “Makes it sound like we’re teenagers again.”

Nicky smiled at his slightly tipsy, and obviously very tired husband. He guided him up the stairs and into his hotel room. He helped him out of his wedding suit and under the covers of the large king-sized bed.

“Hey, remember when we were teenagers?” Charlie asked as he snuggled into a comfortable position to watch Nick undress.

“Very distinctively,” Nick scoffed fondly.

“Remember when you were 17 and you came over to mine because I was supposed to have the house to myself for the night. But then my Dad came home from his work trip early and you had to sneak out the house without him catching you.”

Nick laughed at the memory as he slid into bed, facing Charlie.

“There was no sneaking out! I remember I was going to try, but your Dad knocked on your door and just invited himself in while I was still trying to locate all my clothes. He didn’t even give me a chance.”

“Oh boy, he was so mad!” Charlie chortled loudly, shifting forward until he was invading Nick’s space. The man didn’t mind and gathered Charlie up into his arms.

What are you doing in my house at 11 o’clock at night, Nicholas? ” Nick put on a deep voice to imitate Charlie’s father.

“You told him…” Charlie couldn’t get the words out between the sudden laughing fit that had overtaken him. He muffled the sound of his laughter in Nick’s shoulder. “You told him you were doing laundry!”

“In my defence,” Nick shook his head, his cheeks hurting from how much he was smiling, yet unable to stop. “I was standing in my boxers, with an armful of clothes. It was the only excuse I could think of.”

“You were banned from the house for a month!”

“Two actually,” Nick grumbled. At the time it had been awful, but he could look back on it and laugh now. “And then he only forgave me when I baked him that cherry pie in apology.”

“Hmm; yeah. It’s a good job you’re so good at baking otherwise I’m pretty sure you’d still be banned.”

“I bake him one every year now, for his birthday. I’m trying to keep him sweet so he doesn’t change his mind and try to stop me seeing you.”

“Can’t stop you now,” Charlie yawned. “You’re kinda stuck with me.”

Nick chuckled and pressed a kiss to his husband's crown.

“And I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

~ N&C ~

Nick woke Charlie up the next morning at 6am. Charlie grumbled about how unfair life was, but dutifully got dressed at his husband's request.

Nick grabbed two takeaway coffee’s from the hotel’s restaurant which was just starting to open up for breakfast and passed one to Charlie as he helped the man into the passenger side of his car. Even with the coffee, Charlie still managed to look like a zombie.

“Where are we going?” Charlie asked, sipping on his drink as he watched the world whiz past through his window.

“You’ll see,” Nick reassured him.

It took forty minutes to reach their destination. Charlie had finished his coffee, polished off Nick’s and then nodded off again before they’d even made it halfway. Nick chuckled and shook his head, hoping that his husband (and man, he didn’t think he’d ever get tired of using that word to describe Charlie) was going to be a bit more awake, and perhaps in a slightly better mood when he saw where they were.

Before Nick woke him, he snapped a picture of Charlie and sent it to the group chat, along with a message that said ‘early morning dates 🥰🥰’.

“Charlie,” Nick shushed, brushing his fingers gently through the man’s hair in an attempt to stir him. “We’re here.”

Charlie hummed and blinked his eyes a few times before they focused on Nick.

“Morning,” He spoke, his voice heavy still with sleep. He yawned one of the cute little yawns that Nick loved and then stretched his arms above his head as best he could in the small space the car offered. “Where are we?”

As he asked the question, he looked past Nick through the windshield to gauge their surroundings and when he realised where they were a smile graced his lips.

“Our beach?”

“Our beach,” Nick repeated in confirmation. This was the beach they’d had their first proper date, and this was the beach where Nick had dropped down on one knee despite the pouring rain. They’d even joked about having the wedding here, but knew they couldn’t rely on the good old British weather. To them, to their friends, this beach was known as ‘their beach’ .

Nick led them all the way down to the beach. It was quiet, but they weren’t the only ones about; a few locals were out walking their dogs or getting in an early morning jog. No one was setting down beach towels at 6.40 in the morning though, apart from them.

“Not that I mind,” Charlie said as he sat down on one of the towels Nick had just laid out for them. “But why are we here so bloody early?”

“To get a good spot?” Nick joked as he flopped down on the sand next to Charlie. He reached over and took the other man’s hand in his own. “I just thought it would be nice to spend a few quiet moments here and then go and get breakfast in that cafe we like.”

It was a cafe they’d discovered when they’d first come here, and they’d made sure to visit it each time they came.

“Even though we paid for a fancy hotel breakfast?”

“Even though we paid for a fancy hotel breakfast,” Nick laughed, repeating the words back at him in answer.

“Good. I think I’d prefer the cafe breakfast anyway,” Charlie yawned before turning onto his side and snuggling into Nick. He tipped his head slightly and pressed a kiss to Nick’s jaw.

They were quiet for a few minutes, just enjoying the sound of the waves and the seagulls and the locals waking up. Charlie almost dozed off again, until Nick spoke again.

“Remember when we came here for the first time?”

“Of course I do,” Charlie replied around a yawn. “We made out in the arcade, and on this beach, and on the pier, and in the photobooth. I still have one of those photos in my wallet.”

“Me too,” Nick smiled, running a hand down Charlie’s back. “But it was also the day we officially labelled ourselves as boyfriends.”

“Yeah!” Charlie laughed, sitting up and looking out across the sea. Nick sat up beside him. “You shouted about it to the ocean!”

“I shouted it to the world,” Nick corrected kindly. “I wanted the world to know that Charlie Spring was my boyfriend.”

Charlie didn’t say anything, but he was smiling like an idiot in love as he wrapped his arms around his legs and rested his head on top of his knees. He was almost practically the living embodiment of the heart-eyes emoji as he looked at Nick.

“And now,” Nick sighed, feeling his heart flutter inside his chest at the obvious sight of Charlie loving him as much as he loved him. “Now I wanna do it again.”

“Wait, what?” Charlie raised his head as Nick bounced to his feet.

“But this time,” Nick told him as he yanked Charlie up with him. “I get to tell the world that Charlie Spring is my husband.”

And with that, Nick took off at a run, towards the ocean.

It was like a strange sense of deja vu and suddenly Charlie felt like he was 15 again, on his first proper date with a 16-year-old Nick Nelson and they’d just agreed to officially become boyfriends.

Charlie shook his head and kicked off his signature converse before heading after Nick as quickly as he could.

Nick was standing only ankles deep in the sea and he looked out across the vast crystal blue water as if he was deep in thought.

Charlie slipped his hand into Nick’s and squeezed it in comfort. For a moment they just stood there, enjoying each other’s company and the feel of the gentle waves against their legs.

Suddenly, Nick turned to Charlie and took his face in his hands. Charlie thought the man was going to kiss him, but instead, he rested their foreheads together and closed his eyes.

“I love Charlie Nelson-Spring,” Nick whispered. Charlie smiled at the sound of his new name on Nick’s lips. “He’s my husband. I’m his husband.” Nick paused for a single laugh, like he couldn’t quite believe it. “We’re husbands. We’re actually husbands.”

“While I’m glad we established that,” Charlie chuckled, wrapping his arms around Nick’s neck and playing with a tuft of the man’s blonde hair. “Why are you whispering? I thought you were going to tell the world, huh?”

“But Charlie,” Nick opened his eyes, which were glassed over with unshed happy tears. “I just told the world. I told you. Because you, Charlie Nelson-Spring… you are my whole world.

~ EPOLOGUE ~


Two days after the wedding, they’d jetted off to France for their honeymoon.

Charlie told everyone that they’d chosen France because that was their first proper holiday together (even if it had been with friends and school) and they’d wanted to recreate it. In reality, though, Charlie had only wanted to honeymoon in France because it would give him ample opportunity to hear his husband speak French - and in Charlie’s opinion, there was nothing sexier than Nick speaking French.

They’d been back a few days now, and were both preparing to return to their respective workplaces tomorrow after their time off. They were both feeling the holiday blues about having to go back, but they were excited to take this next step in their life together.

Charlie was in the kitchen chopping up vegetables for the homemade soup he was putting together for his and Nick’s lunch tomorrow when the doorbell rang.

Before he could put down the knife and answer the door, Nick was running down the stairs, and calling out;

“I got it!”

Charlie shrugged and continued chopping away, listening to the interaction Nick was having with the person who had decided to disturb them. It was the postman. He had something for them that had to be signed for.

“Well, would you look at that,” Nick whistled, walking into the kitchen a few minutes later, freshly showered with a small stack of envelopes under his left arm. In his hand was a brown envelope with a cardboard back. There was a big sticker on it ordering whoever its handler was to ‘DO NOT BEND’ .

“What is it?” Charlie asked distractedly as he deposited handfuls of veg into the blender. If he’d taken a moment to really think about it he’d have probably been able to work it out.

Nick reached into the envelope and pulled out an official-looking document. He stared at it for a few moments with a dopey smile on his face before declaring;

“It’s our marriage certificate.”

He slid over to Charlie to show him, pressing a kiss to his cheek.

“Now excuse me while I go and burn this.”

“Wait, what?!” Charlie rounded on his husband in shock as Nick danced away from him. “Why the hell would you want to burn it?”

“Well, if I burn it, it’s gone. And you won’t be able to return me without it, will you? It’s my evil plan to make sure you’ll be stuck with me for life.”

“Nicholas Nelson!” Charlie called after the man as he turned and hightailed it out of the kitchen. He shook his head and then burst out laughing.

Not long later, Nick came back downstairs with the marriage certificate now in a frame. He made quick work of finding a place for it on the wall in the living room and hammered a nail into the wall to hang it up with.

Then he dragged Charlie in from the kitchen to see his handiwork and they stood arm in arm admiring it for a few moments.

“You know…” Charlie slipped his fingers into the top of Nick’s jeans. “Even if I could return you; I wouldn’t want to.”

“No?” Nick teased. “Even though I snore and spend the weekends watching rugby?”

“Not even then,” Charlie laughed, raising himself onto his tiptoes slightly to press a kiss to Nick’s lips. “I love every inch of you Mr Nicholas Nelson-Spring.”

Nick smiled, and stole another kiss before replying;

“I love you more, Mr Charles Nelson-Spring.”