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It was a joke, something they promised each other while drunk. After one of Liam’s worst breakups.

It only took one beer and one shot, and then he was fighting to keep the tears in. He didn’t want to make more of a fool of himself; Louis was so fun and fit – something he maybe shouldn’t think about his mate, who as far as Liam then knew was very into women.

Not that it mattered, Liam wasn’t interested in Louis like that. The fluttering feeling, like thousands tiny little butterflies in his stomach, was just nervousness that he’d do something to scare Louis off, that Louis wouldn’t find him interesting enough to keep around.

Louis made him giggle against his shoulder, though it took a few drinks to make his relax and stop thinking so much about everything that lead up to him being dumped.

His alcohol tolerance wasn’t the best back then, drinking still new to him. Just as his friendship with Louis was.

Back then, Liam didn’t think they still would be friends now, years later. They are, though, and now Liam can’t stop thinking about how Louis promised to marry him if he still was single and unmarried at twenty-five.

“Come on, Liam,” Louis said, voice a bit slurred. “You’ll be married, have a fucking adorable house and stuff. Who wouldn’t marry you?”

Liam didn’t answer, shaking his head. He felt as if he’d never find anyone ever again.

“Bloody hell,” Louis grumbled, hands on Liam’s cheeks as he spoke. “I’ll marry you, make you the happiest boy ever.”

The words made Liam’s stomach warm, though it could easily have been the booze, too.

It was probably the buzz of alcohol in his blood that made him think it was a good idea to say yes.

It felt like such a long time to find someone new. Someone who’d be the perfect fit for him, to wed and live happily ever after with.

Even at that age, Liam knew what he wanted. That he liked the idea of being someone’s husband.

One thing he knows now, when he knows Louis properly is that he keeps his promises. That he cares deeply about his friends and family, and the words he gives them he’d keep even though they’re said drunk on beer and tequila.

As long as he remembers them, that is.

The thing is, Liam wouldn’t mind marrying someone like Louis. Someone that makes him feel both warm and comfortable. Someone that makes him laugh so hard he can barely breathe.

Louis is his best mate, though, so Liam thinks it might be weird that he doesn’t have more against the idea. Louis is a bit of a slob, and marrying someone must mean living with them – Liam’s a bit confused about the details since there is no written contract.

(Liam remembers a wet, slightly misplaced kiss on his cheek to seal the deal, but that could be his fuzzy brain playing a trick on him.)

Though, maybe Liam shouldn’t worry so much. It’s not like he’s going to meet someone – and marry them – in the twenty four hours until he turns twenty-five.

But maybe Louis has forgotten about it all. It’s not like it’s something they’ve really talked about afterwards.

He’ll meet Louis in just a few hours, at the surprise party he shouldn’t know about. His friends are a bit shit keeping secrets from each other, though.

– – –

His party might not be a surprise, but it’s so fun anyway. Great music that he loves playing at a loud volume, and all his friends there to celebrate with him.

He’s a bit tipsy on bubbly champagne, some fancy sort that Harry’s picked. It’s very typical of his taste, expensive and from a small, eco-friendly brand. Liam doesn’t understand the words on the champagne bottles.

Harry’s a bit of a hipster, Liam thinks fondly. Somehow it was easier to befriend Harry back at Uni than it was Louis, maybe just because Harry’s never been that loud or over the top – not in the same playful way as Louis is, at least.

He’s lost Harry somewhere in the crowd of people, probably snogging Niall in a corner. Liam finds them adorable together, though the way they act – so obviously in love – makes his chest ache.

Liam doesn’t feel lonely. How could he with a room full of wonderful people?

It’s just that he never imagined to be single at his twenty fifth birthday.

(He’s tried more than once after that breakup. It’s always something that goes wrong. Too much distance due to work, or them meeting new people. Once it was Louis who was blamed, how he touched Liam, but Liam still finds that excuse ridiculous.)

Liam won’t think about sad things on a day like this, when he’s got glitter in his hair from having it thrown at him at his arrival.

Though really, Liam’s not tried that hard to find someone since Louis became single about a year ago. It’s something about spending all that time with Louis, that makes it worth going home to sleep in his own cold bed.

Some nights, he ends up in Louis’ flat. So it’s not like he always sleeps alone either. Louis’ sofa is horrendous, so it always ends with him in Louis’ bed, his cold toes against Liam’s ankles.

He’s a good heater; he’s been told – by Louis – and it’s something Liam’s quite proud of. He takes pride in being a good friend, and maybe that’s why they like him. And why they throw him such a fantastic party.

It’s all so nice. Liam loves his friends a lot.

His smile widens when Louis comes up to him, puts an arm around his shoulders. Liam leans into him a little, murmurs a soft word to himself.

“If you say nice one more time I’ll pinch you,” Louis threatens as if that doesn’t happen on a daily basis anyway. Liam’s never really understood why, what sets Louis off, but he does like Louis’ focus just on him so that he won’t complain.

Sore nipples and pinkish marks on his skin won’t stop him from giggling every time Louis tries, and always succeeds to pinch him. It’s not like Liam tries that hard to get away, now he even cuddles closer to Louis’ side.

“And now you said it again,” Louis laughs, fingers finding Liam’s nipple through his shirt even though he keeps his eyes on Liam’s face.

Liam giggles as he tries to fold in on himself to get away, but their wrestling match only makes him curls even closer to Louis in the end. It’s more like a hug than anything when Louis is pleased with his work, Liam’s cheeks flushed both from champagne and laughing so hard.

“So,” Louis says slowly, mouth close to Liam’s chin. It’s not how you whisper, Liam thinks, but he nods as if to tell Louis that he’s listening. “It’s the big twenty-five. Feel good about being an old man?”

“It’s not old,” Liam protest, a whine in his voice. “And it’s not like you aren’t older anyway. You’re ancient, in that case.”

Twenty-five isn’t really old. Even though they both thought so when they were nineteen and twenty, the time they got drunk and Louis almost – sort of – proposed to him.

“You didn’t answer, silly boy,” Louis says fondly, sounding pleased with Liam’s lame burn.

Liam keeps one hand curled around Louis’ hip, and uses his free one to wave out in the room. It’s a floppy movement, not really aimed at anything special. “It’s so great. You’re all so great.”

“Only the best for my boy,” Louis says, making something warm spread out in Liam’s body. He always loved when Louis called him ‘his boy’ when everyone else was a lad.

It made Liam feel special. Like he was special to Louis.

“Loved the presents,” Liam says, hoping that the darkness in the room stops Louis from noticing how pink his cheeks are.

Louis’s seen him blush around him plenty of times, but something about tonight makes Liam feel nervous.

“Only one more to go,” Louis says, fingers patting Liam’s back before he pulls away. Liam tries to stop himself from pouting, but he can feel his bottom lip jut out.

It’s his birthday, after all. It’s okay if he wants to cuddle Louis all night. He should be allowed.

Louis notices, a smirk on his face as he ruffles Liam’s hair. “Just going to get some things sorted. For the birthday boy.”

Liam nods, watching as Louis walks away. It doesn’t take him long to find Niall in the crowd, both his grin and wrongly unbuttoned shirt telling Liam that he was right about Niall and Harry finding their own fun at the party.

They talk for awhile, but then Liam starts to miss Louis: he’s been gone for too long, Liam thinks. Liam just hopes he’s not snogging someone or something like that.

That would probably break Liam’s heart, on a night like this.

“Have you seen Louis?” Liam asks, sure Niall knows why he’s asking. Niall knows everything, sees right through them all – and he’s the one that’s most insistent that it’s okay if Liam’s got a thing for Louis.

Liam might have one tiny thing for Louis. But who wouldn’t, he wonders.

Niall bites his bottom lip, looking shifty as he clears his throat. “No.” He lies, Liam can tell, but he doesn't understand why. Niall never lies to him.

“Just want to talk to him,” Liam mumbles, shrugging like he doesn’t care. For some reason, it makes Niall smile.

“Sure he’ll be here soon,” Niall says, patting his shoulder comfortingly.

He has time to drink one more glass of the champagne, and then Louis is back again.

Louis walks straight up to him, hands in the pockets on his black jeans, pulling them even tighter around his lovely tights.

It distracts Liam, the buzz in his veins making him forget not to stare. Realising what he’s doing, he lifts his head and smiles at Louis. His best mate in the whole world.

The music stops suddenly, and Liam blinks slowly, confused when nothing new comes on.

“So,” Louis says as he drops to one knee in front of Liam. It feels like Liam’s heart stops in his chest before it starts to beat hard and fast.

Everyone around them goes quiet, many of them looking surprised. Some don’t though; Harry and Niall smile at each other, doing not so subtle thumbs up to Louis.

Louis can’t be doing what Liam thinks he is, Liam’s sure. But then Louis pulls out a gold ring from his back pocket and holds it out to Liam. His hands shake slightly, but his gaze is steady when he looks up at him.

“You don’t have to,” Louis starts with, and it’s not the proposal Liam’s dreamt of, but it’s Louis so he nods his head twice.

He knows that he doesn't have to. Louis might love dares and jokes, but he's never forced Liam into anything. Not even small, unimportant things.

“I promised to marry you,” Louis murmurs, voice soft but teasing. “And I really want to do that, no matter what. I’ll take care of you. Bloody hell, I’ve probably had the best dates of my life with you, cycling around London and all our other adventures.”

“Louis,” Liam whispers, not sure how to react to it all. He feels overwhelmed and happy, and like he wants to cry.

“And I want to do things to you that I won’t say out loud with your mum in the same room.” Louis pauses, wriggling his eyebrows and Liam wonders if he heard that right.

It seems like he did from the look Louis gives him, and Liam blushes as he sneaks a look at his mum. She only looks charmed, though, hands clasped together over her heart.

“Will you make me the happiest man on earth?” Louis shakes his head. “No, you already do that. Will you marry me, like we said that time?”

Liam knows he takes too long, but he can’t make him mouth work. It feels like all he can do is stare down at Louis.

“Say something,” Louis says, sounding so nervous that it pulls Liam out of his head. Everyone in the room are looking at them, it feels like, and Liam thinks his mum might be crying by now.

Liam knows what to say, and he nods his head to make sure that Louis doesn’t misunderstand his too long silence. There’s no doubt about what he wants to say.

“Let’s date for some time, maybe do some of those things you hinted at. Then I’ll marry you,” Liam says, dragging Louis up so he can kiss him. He really, really wants to, and it feels fitting to do so.

People cheer around them, and he can hear Niall yelling about them getting a room when Louis deepens the kiss – a bit hypocritical considering how many time Liam’s seen his naked bum.

They might have gotten engaged before their first proper kiss, but Liam’s been in love with Louis for longer than he can remember – it feels okay to admit, now that Louis obviously wants him, too.

They’ve time to do all the other things couples do before they do get married.

Maybe they’re doing things in the wrong order, but to Liam, it feels so very right. Louis fits against him just perfectly, and he already knows every little quirk Louis has. He knows what to expect from Louis, and he knows it’ll last.