Photographs

Sometimes you need to let fate have it's way with you.. And sometimes you got to do something yourself.

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1. Photographs

Disclaimer: This story is purely fictional; only real characters are Liam Payne and Katie. Every other linking between real persons and those, are arbitrary. I do not make any money from this.

 

Moving would never be on Katie's list of favorite activities. She didn't like one single thing about it, not packing everything down in big boxes; clothes, books, teddy bears, everything was down there, her childhood, her early teenage-years, like you could just pack down a whole life and store it in a box. The room had looked so empty when she was finished. The walls were cold and empty without her posters, photos of the family and her friends, it didn't look like the room she had spent so much time in over the years. It didn't look like home anymore. It looked lonely, as if her childhood wanted her back to her great days in that little room. She had whispered a goodbye to the empty room and the empty house and hoped that the new family would like this house as much as she did, that it would become a place they could relax and have fun. And she hoped the same for herself, when they drove away to the airport. The airport was another thing she didn't like. Everything was so rushed; security and then shopping in the small shops before going to the gate, no time to stop and cherish her last time in the United States for a long time. Everything was a blur to her. She used to love the airport, but now all she could think about was that she wasn't going to return. She was going to the United Kingdom, whet ether she wanted to or not. It seemed a bit cliché, that she was getting the chance to live in an whole other country with different, interesting accents and interesting places, and she didn't want to, like one of those really bad American comedies, but she refused to just smile when she got told to just move away from everything she knew.

And so she just hid herself behind the nearest book whenever her mother would look worried at her. She had a tight knot in her throat.

The flight was as she had expected, nothing exciting. It wasn’t really bad either. It was alright, she decided, when she had arrived to the house in the little city Wolverhampton, where her dad was sent to examine the basis for the sales of the products, the firma he worked in made, in the smaller cities; and her mother had wanted to get out of town, get out of the US, and experience something else. They had chosen Wolverhampton, because of that it wasn’t a big city, and they meant that it would be a nice change for Katie as well.

The house was bigger than she had expected – big nice rooms and a good garden. She hadn’t looked at any photos of the house; she had purely denied doing that.

It was near to a flat complex though. She could see a lot of kids – no, she had to say children now where she was in Britain, hadn’t she? – running around and playing different games. It made her feel lonely. It would have been easier if she just lived in a flat, she thought. That would maybe have made it feel a bit more like Boston, as if she’d just moved to another place in the town.

It was a nice house, yes, but it wasn’t home. Hopefully it’d become her home. She didn’t know what she’d do if it didn’t. Her whole life had changed, and she didn’t feel anything but anger and disappointment. Tomorrow she’d be odd man out in school. She sighed and closed her eyes. Wondering wouldn’t help.

~*~

She wasn’t the odd man out at school the next day, she soon realized. There was a good amount of schools in the city, and her mum had sent her to the smallest of them, probably thinking that the less people, the better. Katie didn’t share that opinion. Only relatively few people at the school had actually met an American before; her accent was exotic, rather than odd, a glance out in the world for the students, allowing them to dream of escaping from Great Britain and becoming something in the home of Katie’s. She was grateful for it though – they could easily have hated her.

The school was known to be very much “against bullying” (but as Katie thought, weren’t all schools that?), thus another reason her mother had sent her there. But really, Katie noted that this school wasn’t different from other schools; it had bullies and geeks, nerds and cheerleaders, popular and unpopular, nothing she couldn’t have experienced back home.

She didn’t have anything against the school, but she didn’t really like it either. It was alright, she guessed.

~*~

It was on the very first day at the very school, it happened. It wasn’t anything special, it wasn’t one of those moments where you wonder whet ether it was fate, something destined, or not. It wasn’t like in those cheesy, cliché American movies her life looked so much like – and in a way, it was. She was carrying her books and he was carrying his, and they bumped into each other. When she looked up, ready to say an awkward sorry and awkwardly walk away because - she just was that awkward, she couldn’t utter a single word. He was skinny, but he still looked strong, with light brown, seemingly soft windswept hair and brown eyes. So beautiful brown eyes, the colour of the earth, soft and protective, but they looked so scared and lonely, like her empty room back in the old house, they looked so sad. He muttered quickly a “sorry,” and continued walking. She didn’t even get to excuse herself. She sighed; not the best impression to give anyone at this school, she thought, and shrugged, before she had to hurry up to her next lesson. She didn’t want to think, not now. But when she went to bed that night, all that was imprinted on her eyelids were the sad brown eyes of a boy she did not know at all. And she wondered what made him so sad. She couldn’t do anything about it, she couldn’t. And with the imprint of the dark brown, that wasn’t too dark, delicate like the shell of a nut, but so sad, so sad, she fell asleep, completely exhausted. Not a bad day, nor a good day. It had been alright.

But mostly because of the brown eyes.

~*~

The days after the first day felt in a strange way just as exhausting as the first. Everybody said hello and was much nicer that they’d usually be towards her, she suspected. She just longed for them to just leave her alone, let her have a few friends between them and allow her to go back to her shy self. But they didn’t, and she had to smile, be nice, and it made her so tired, so very tired. But it was like venom; first you get weak, and if you survive, you can become immune. She started to like it, a little. Instead of a shy smile and an awkward wave, whenever she passed someone in the corridors, it was a “hi”. She had so many thoughts in her head that she didn’t get to search for the Boy With The Brown Eyes. Only in the late hours at night, she’d start wonder if he had been wishful thinking, a hallucination?

She didn’t have time to wonder about hallucinations anyway. There was too many names and places, too many faces and too many voices, too much information about everyone, and she couldn’t even find her way around school; so how should she be able to remember all these people?

That problem got solved for her though. On her third day, when she was late for what felt like the hundredth time that day, a girl took up her hand and said politely to the teacher – an old man with a dry voice – that she’d prevent that from happening by helping her find her classes. Katie was relieved to say the least, and smiled gratefully at the pretty redhead who whispered something in the ear of the girl sitting beside her; and the girl got up and moved to another table. The redhead smiled and pointed at the chair, as if no one had been sitting in it. For a moment Katie was still, and then the girl raised her eyebrows, and she nodded quickly. When the cracking voice of the old teacher finally allowed her to sit down she sat down beside the redhead. Of course. How could she do anything else?

~*~

Katie got a new experience that day. When the girl (“Alice, but you can call me whatever you want,” she had said with a laugh before she flicked her ginger hair over her shoulder) and herself was walking down the hallways, people had looked at her, not curiously because she was the new girl, but with looks of respect. It was probably because she was with Alice; she seemed to be popular – no, she had power. Everyone seemed to want to be her friend, but she didn’t give them any attention except for a brief smile towards them, and concentrated only on Katie, asking her about America and school, about her interests, her family, her two dogs – and it felt weird to be the centre of attention, she wasn’t used to this; but she couldn’t help but love all Alice’s questions, couldn’t help but smile when Alice giggled over her accent. She couldn’t remember ever feeling so welcome in school with a person like her. She knew she would have to get Alice as her friend.

Later that day, at lunch, Alice presented her for the rest of her friends; a pretty blonde girl with big grey eyes, called Kate, and a dark-haired boy named Jake. They seemed to be the clique, the ones everyone was jealous on, and when they didn’t even question her about if she wanted to eat with them, but acted as if she just belonged there, it overwhelmed her completely. She liked the feeling.

But that night, she decided, that it hadn’t been a good day, nor a bad day.

She hadn’t seen the boy.

~*~

It was weird that he was no-where to be found, the school wasn’t that big after all. He almost had to be a hallucination. But he wasn’t.

~*~

 

When she saw him the second time, it was a week later. It was also the first time she realized that her new friends also had flaws; flaws on the inside.

They had been sitting bored in class, the teacher was out to copy some papers and Jake were moaning about how bored he was, while Kate played with his hair and every now and then told him to shut up, but she did it so lovingly that they all knew she didn’t mean it. Alice took a piece of spare paper from her notebook, formed it to a little paper ball and threw it to the back of the class, yelling, “Hey looser!”

She followed the ball with her eyes, a knot forming in her stomach as she saw a boy in the back of the class look up, as if he was reacting on his own name. Her eyes widened. It was him; his brown windswept hair, and brown eyes – even she couldn’t see him in detail from this place, she was sure. While she had been looking at the whole school, he had been sitting there, in the same exact classroom, with a stack of books next to him, hiding behind them. The paper-ball hit him straight in the left eye, and she cringed. She could hear Alice laugh loudly, saw Jake give her an high-five, and saw Kate mumble, “Looser,” in the direction of the boy, which made them laugh again, and she couldn’t help it; she wanted to make them laugh like that. The boy sure was okay with them calling him that, she told herself. They were just joking. Just joking.

“Who is he?” she asked, hoping that her voice seemed casual. Kate looked at her with a little smile. “Liam Payne,” she started, and Alice continued, “he’s just, such a Payne if you get me?” Kate giggled happily, and Katie couldn’t get any more out of them, except for Jake stating that, “He’s not a looser. He’s the looser.”

Liam Payne...

She had to fight herself to not look back at him, at something inside her urged her to do.

~*~

Outside the school, she was fast to tell the others goodbye, and ran after the silhouette of a boy with brown hair and eyes the colour of nuts. He was outside before everyone else, he didn’t seem to have any friends, he didn’t tell anyone goodbye, like she had done.

He seemed to be on bike as well, and was steering towards a black bike, got on it – and then he got off again. He cussed under his breath. Something seemed to be wrong. She got close enough to ask him, “What’s wrong?”

He looked surprised at her, like he wasn’t used to people talking to him.

“It’s punctuated. It’s probably- Well, anyway, I don’t have a repair kit with me.” He explained. “I do.” She said and blushed. “Have a repair kit, I mean. Would you, er, like to borrow it?” she asked questioningly. He grinned widely. “Of course. Thanks.”
She found the kit in her backpack, and threw to him, silently thanking whoever was up there for letting her remember to bring it with her. He started fixing the deck silently; he looked used to it, like he had done it many times before. She liked to look at his concentrated face, watch him focus on the little bottle of glue and see his slender move quick and precisely. It felt like a little oasis of peace, while she sat there, and suddenly he smiled and said he was done, and she smiled at said that if her bike ever punctuated, she’d ask him to fix it. That made them both laugh gently. They looked insecurely into one another’s eyes for ten long seconds; then seconds that seemed to last forever but was so short, oh so short. Then one of them – they didn’t exactly know who – blinked and time seemed to start again. She smiled shyly, a warm feeling in the pit of her stomach. He smiled back – just as shy, she took herself in hoping. She asked him where he lived, and he gave her the name of a street close to hers. She asked him if he would have anything against going home together, they should the same way anyway, so why not?

Her heart beat faster, and she was sure she was blushing blood-red, while she tried keeping her voice calm, but she wasn’t so sure she did succeed. She hadn’t changed, she was still as awkward as she had always been, she thought slightly disappointed in herself.

But he grinned widely again, and nodded. They both got in the saddle, and slowly they begun biking towards their separate homes.

They ended up on an old playground – Liam wanted to show her around in Wolverhampton, and Katie didn’t want to go home; so why not? – sitting on a swing each and talked. Liam was interesting. He had ambitions, big dreams. “I want to be a singer. I want to live of my voice, I want to be that artist that makes people go crazy on the dance floor, and make the same people cry over a sad song I’m the maker of. I mean… Music is some kind of magic.” He said excitedly, his cheeks slightly flushed, and his breathing was slightly erratic. And then, he suddenly looked embarrassed. “Sorry.” He mumbled, and his eyes dropped to look down at his feet. She smiled.

“’s okay to have dreams Li. I like it.” She said, and continued jokingly. “Are you sure you don’t want all the drooling girls?”

He looked at her like she was crazy. “They wouldn’t drool over me.”

“Why shouldn’t they?” she challenged him, and was tempted to add, “I am,” but that would be too forward and not like her at all, so she resisted.

“I’m just a looser.” He mumbled. She stroke his arm gently, desperately wanting to do something, make the words stop mattering to him; but she couldn’t do anything but whisper quietly; “You’re not a looser Liam.” He sighed, but he didn’t take it up; she wanted to discuss with him, but she knew deep down that she couldn’t make him understand how amazing he seemed to be to her, not now.

 

It was like a spell was put over them, like time didn’t go anymore, like back at school a few hours earlier, but this time, it went on and on, like in a bad cliché American Christmas movie where the happy couple walk happily around in the winter snow, and looks at the city that is lit up with lights while soft music plays. But it all felt so... right. There was no need to pretend, and even though she was nervous and blushed every other moment, she felt like she could be herself with him. Not like with a brother or a best friend, but so much more. It felt like she had always known him, like they always had been on this playground after school, and when he said no to singing for her, she tackled him down on the grass, feeling his warm body against his and got lost in it, and she breathed in his scent while she tickled him roughly – and she really, really hoped this didn’t seem too weird to him, because she didn’t know what she’d do if he thought it was weird how she acted towards him.

And then, he finally gave up, and they laid together on the grass for a couple of moments, every now and then a little chuckle slipping through their lips. They had to look so stupid to everyone else that passed, but she didn’t really care, and she didn’t think he did either.

When the laughter finally died out, he nodded nervously, and opened his mouth. The butterflies flew around in her stomach, when he opened his mouth.

“Er, uh. Shall I just start?” he asked awkwardly. He was dragging out things, and they both knew it. “You shall.” She answered with a smirk. He opened his mouth, and he started.

“You were my sun
You were my Earth
But I bet you didn't know all the ways I loved you
No…” he sung, and looked at her for support. She couldn’t find any words but, “That’s Justin Timberlake, isn’t it?” He smiled insecure, and she patted his hand, tempted to take it.

“You should try out for x-factor or something.” She stated. “I did audition. And I got told I’m a great singer but- but I should get older before I try getting a career in this.” He frowned lightly.

“Then try out again Li.” She said, hoping that it would make him a little happier, that she would see his gentle smile again. She got it as she wished; he looked at her with a little smile and raised eyebrows.

“Li? That’s- that’s the second time you’re calling me that.” He asked.

“’m sorry?” she said embarrassed. “Don’t you worry about it. I like it.” He stated calmly, pushing a loose strand of hair away from his eyes, and took her hand, making her blush again, but she hoped he didn’t take note of it.

“Ti-Ti?” he said questioningly. She stared confused at him, and he chuckled that adorable laughter. “If you’re giving me a nickname, then I want to call you something as well.” He explained while rolling his eyes, as if that had been totally obvious. It made her stomach clench, as she thought of how much he acted like a brother already, but she pushed the thought aside, and hit him on the shoulder.

“Not Ti-Ti then?” He asked quietly into her ear, and she turned towards him again.

“Ti-Ti is great. But you’re the only one allowed to call me that.” She stated, and poked him in the side, taking note of that he was pretty firm, maybe he trained – and she got an uncomfortable feeling that maybe it wasn’t just to look good.

“I feel special.” He said, and probably intended for it to be said ironically; but to Katie it just seemed so sweet and soft, it was too gentle. “You should,” she whispered. She didn’t know what to think. He hadn’t acted like more than a best friend – whom, she suspected, maybe hoped a little, he would become – but suddenly he said that and his voice was slow and gentle, and for the shortest moment she was sure he’d kiss her, even though he didn’t seem to be the type to just kiss someone like that. His eyes were wide, and close to hers, and for each second passing he came closer. Thirty centimeters, it couldn’t be more space that was between them, and she caught herself in wishing that he was the type to kiss someone he had just met, when she felt his soft breath on her face – but then her phone beeped.
She wanted to throw the little, old Nokia phone away, she wanted to stay in this little haven of peace, but she hit the answer button. “’s Katie.” She mumbled.

It was her mother, and she cursed inwardly; she hadn’t left message for her to know where she was.

Where are you, how do you get home, and when are you here?” her voice snapped, and she seemed to be ready to rip out her throat in the moment she got in of the door.
She clenched her eyes tightly for a moment, rubbing her temple with her fingers; it was like her mum’s angry voice cut into her head. “I’m almost home.”

“You better be.” She said seriously, and Katie wanted to say something, wanted to say something, wanted to calm her a bit down, but she didn’t get the chance at all. Her mother disconnected.

“I have to go home. See you tomorrow?” She said slowly and bit her lip.

“Yeah. Sure.” He mumbled, at for a moment she was sure he was a bit disappointed. “Wait, er, can I get your number?” she asked, suddenly nervous again. They swapped phones and tapped their numbers into one another’s contacts. “Uh, see you tomorrow.” She finally said awkwardly, and gave him her famous awkward wave, and turned around.

“Ti-Ti?” he asked gently. “Yeah,”

“One more thing. Your friends… I avoid most people, but mostly them. You can’t hang with both of us.” He said, and she recognized the fear in his voice, the fragility, the fear of loneliness, the fear of being second choice, or not being chosen at all. “After school then, Li?” she said, trying to smile. It was okay; she thought to herself, as she walked down the hill and found her way to the street that still felt so unfamiliar. Liam wasn’t more important than Alice, Kate and Jakes. Mates before dates, right?

She blushed to herself. “Dates”, they had only just got to know each other, but she took herself in hoping that they’d go out someday.

Another thing about it was that she didn’t want Alice and the rest of the group and their loudness to break the fragile beauty between her and Liam; didn’t want them to break the spell that was put over them, the spell that made everything so much simpler and clearer.

She opened the door to the house, and let her little bubble of happiness burst completely; in the moment she realized this would be one of those times. Her mother would start yelling and scream, and she would be cornered, and the only thing she would be able to do, was desperately scream, and scream, and shout, yell until her lungs almost gave out, and she’d finally get to escape to her own room, where she would cry, and cry, because it just wasn’t fair, that she made all these mistakes, that it wasn’t fair that she ended up giving in to the anger, it just wasn’t how it should be. Sometimes she’d be able to hold it in, but ever since she got told to move away from Boston and everything she knew, it had become harder to control the rage, it hard been difficult to not just lose control.

And things happened exactly as she had expected. Her mother was yelling, screaming words about how she couldn’t trust her and that she couldn’t believe that she could do that, and make her worry like she had, how she had been expecting her to come home, and she would probably have continued on her list of things Katie had done wrong, if she hadn’t lost it, and begun screaming that she was so tired of not being allowed to see people that wanted to be her friend, and that maybe wasn’t exactly true, but in that heartbreaking, heated moment, it felt like it was true, the only truth that existed, and she suddenly realized warm tears ran down her cheeks.

A warm pair of arms snaked around her waist, and a hushing voice whispered gently into her ear, telling her to calm a bit down, telling her that things were going to be all right, and she didn’t know if she should believe it, but she wanted to, oh, she wanted to, and slowly the sobs stopped racking through her whole body, and she slowly felt able to breathe, letting her mother hug her.

And she told her about Kate and her sloppy, joking kisses on cheek, Jake’s bad jokes, and Alice’s arm around her shoulder, she told her about how she felt accepted, even though they were the popular group at school, that she felt natural.

She didn’t tell her about Kate giggling and telling her that she was “cute”, like some kind of pet, or Jake calling Liam a looser, or Alice throwing a paper-ball at Liam.

She didn’t tell her about Liam either, or the butterflies in her stomach when he smiled, or the way the whole world stopping when he talked, or the way his voice made her feel a little bit weak in the knees. She didn’t say a single word about him, as they sat there, with a cup of chamomile tea with honey, like they had done when she was younger. He was her little secret. For now. And tomorrow she’d see him again. She smiled softly.

~*~

Life went on, and weeks passed. Life went into a routine for Katie; at school she hung out with her friends, and avoided Liam who avoided her as well. It left her with quite a bitter taste in her mouth, but they had both agreed on that it was for the best, that it was better this way.

Her friends didn’t like him, not one bit; they could talk quite harshly about him, and she just had to smile and nod whenever they laughed over him never showing up to lunch, and Jake made jokes about how he probably was too scared after last time, which made Katie’s stomach lurch.

They were his bullies, but they were also her friends. And when she acted like this, it felt like she was the one to throw things after him, calling him names, and it felt like she was the one receiving the old bruises he had on his body, but she couldn’t do anything, not if she wanted to keep being their friend.

But whenever she would get out of school, she would forget about it, because there he was, Liam, with his beautiful smile and brown comforting eyes, his gentle laugh, and they would walk to their separate homes; everything would fall into place, he was the missing piece to solve the puzzle, and things turned right.

Three times a week, she followed him to the gymnastics; he practiced boxing, and he seemed to be quite good at it, whenever he for fun would hit things (to impress her, she told herself), he’d often break them.

She’d always go away from the building with a sad feeling. He boxed to defend himself, defend himself from her friends, but she couldn’t do anything about it, and she clung onto him for dear life every time he had to go into the building, like if he didn’t practice, it’d all go away, she didn’t want him to leave for, not even for that. She wanted him to spend more happy hours with her, but instead she had to hug him gently, make sure he wouldn’t break under her touch, even though he was so strong. He had been born dead; the thought of it scared her so much. How was it, to bear a child in your stomach for months, and give birth to a dead baby, how was it to touch the life-less body? He knew her better than anyone; she had let him come closer to her heart than anyone else, and the thought of the possibility of not getting to know him at all felt so wrong.

And in the late nights she would think about his lips, his gentle voice, and his dreams.

And she knew with herself that she had fallen for him, completely foolishly fallen for him, and she couldn’t do anything about it, except for giving him soft goodbye hugs, to express her hundreds of thoughts and feelings. And she took photographs, hundreds of photographs on her little old phone, and uploaded them to her computer, printed each and every of them, and every night, she’d look at the memories of all the things they had done, Liam grinning like mad to her, or them taking a couple selfies of each other, of Liam having his hair braided, which had made them both giggle.

She felt a bit like a stalker, when she realized that she was making an entire photo album about her time with one single boy; who only were her friend.

But she didn’t tell him, she kept silent, and kept cherishing those short, short breakable moments where he whispered goodbye to her, and he left to learn to defend himself, to get a life like he deserved.

 

~*~

She was following him to boxing that day, and she was telling him some of the most stupid jokes she knew, hoping to get him to laugh that soft laugh she wished he would come with more often. She hadn’t ever heard him laugh, except for when he was with her. The thought of that made her smile.

He was almost crying of laughter, and had to put his arm around her shoulder to prevent himself from falling over; she could feel his body shaking, and she knew he was in pain, the best kind of pain. He kept moaning, “My stomach, ugh, my stomach, seriously Katie?” and she knew he intended to make her laugh as well, and she did, she laughed so uncontrollably, and his eyes shone is satisfaction, and happiness; her brain felt a bit dazed. Maybe it was just because of that smile and the feeling that she wasn’t the only one who wanted more, but she couldn’t resist it. Time stopped, while she did it; kissed him on the cheek, close to the corner of his mouth; had this been a cliché movie, he’d tug her closer to him, and kiss her softly and tell her to “do it properly the next time” – but this was reality, and all that happened was him blinking repeatedly in confusion, and her blushing crazily, her heartbeat skipping a couple of beats; and she wondered if it she should just do it, if she just should kiss him? But she knew that’d cross all boundaries for friendship completely, and all she did, was to smile insecure at him.

She realized that he had stopped laughing, the whole world felt dead silent; her breathing sounded hollow and she inhaled air like she had sprinted a long way. “Er, s-sorry.” She stuttered nervously, and his arm clenched her shoulder comfortingly. She looked shyly up at him again. He was grinning widely, from ear to ear, the most beautiful smile she had ever seen. “Nothing to be sorry for.” He said gently – but then again; almost everything about Liam was gentle. She smiled, and she was almost happy when they reached the grey building he spent so much time in, though she didn’t want to be separated from him. Almost.

It felt like everything had changed in a heartbeat, like he wanted all the things from her that she wanted from him; but really, it hadn’t. It was like Kate kissing her cheek, or Jake telling her that her that her hair smelled nice, of apples, but somehow, in her head it turned to so much more.

And the goodbye hug he gave her seemed to be a little longer and a bit more tight than usual; she could feel his heartbeat. And then he turned around to walk in, and she had to inhale sharply. “Ti-Ti?”

She turned around again. “It’s- Er, I’m turning 16 this Saturday. And, I, er, am going to celebrate it. Would you like to come?” he fiddled with his hands, and she wasn’t sure if he saw her big grin. She hesitated for a moment. She’d never been at Liam’s, nor had he visited her; it was like she was afraid the magic would stop if she saw him in public.

“Of course I will.”
They smiled gently at each other for a couple of seconds, and then reality hit both of them; and they both said, “Got to go.” And waved goodbye. On the outside she was just a fifteen old girl walking home, but on the inside she was dancing; Liam’s birthday. That sounded great.

~*~

She couldn’t think about that much else in school, besides the party, and maybe that was the reason things ended up like they did. It was time for lunch, and they she sat at the usual table, of course she did. They all were there, Kate and Jake, Alice with her red hair dominating the whole table, as the queen she was. Sometimes Katie would play with the thought of taking the crown from her, let her realize that she wasn’t the most important thing on the whole school though she was treated like it; but whenever Alice would smile to her, she’d know how lucky she was to have these humans in her life, these friends.

“What’re you doing this weekend?” Kate asked her, while buttering her slice of bread. “Going to Liam’s party.” She immediately replied, and blushed crimson red.

“Liam who?” Jake asked interested. “The only party by a ‘Liam’, I’ve heard of, is Looser-Liam. As if anyone’s going to come.” He said, and they laughed.

It disappointed her; Jake was a sweet guy, she knew that, but he acted like a jerk.

And before she quite knew exactly what she was doing, she muttered, “I am coming.”

They thought it was a joke; Kate rolled her eyes and made a bubble with her piece of gum, before she chuckled softly, and Jake – well, Jake begun laughing that irresistible laugh. But Alice took it dead serious.

“Katie, you know we don’t hang with him. They aren’t like us, boys like him…” she started, and Katie had to close her eyes. What was she doing?

“If you go to parties with those types, then we can’t hang out. We don’t want trouble for you,” Kate explained, apparently understanding that this was serious. God, no.  That was the last thing she wanted. Kate stroke her hand; it seemed unbelievable that it was the same hand that had pushed Liam, had thrown water over him, and held him so he couldn’t move. She felt sick.

“Katie…” Jake whispered, and stroke her hand as well. She nodded, better to come with a little white lie, she thought desperately.

“I won’t.”

Alice smiled, her teeth flashing in the light. Like a snake, ready to bite.

~*~

When Saturday came around, she was up early. The party itself wasn’t before the evening; but she planned on showing up in the start off the afternoon. He’d be happy to see her – she hoped, and decided to text him and let him know, to be polite.

Message to: Li

Coming around 2PM, that okay? C:  she tapped, and sent the message. The first text she had ever sent him, she realized, when she had hit the button. She had wanted to countless time, so many nights she had been laying with her phone and written all the words she wanted to express, but she had always stopped herself in sending it.

The phone vibrated.

Message from: Li

Okay (: x

She smiled goofily at the little screen, and her eyes kept fixing themselves on the little “x”. Was it just because he was British, or was it actually a sign for that he wanted to kiss her? Her heart skipped a beat in excitement, and she tried to calm down her erratic breathing.

Then she heard the sound of a car outside. She crossed the room, and looked out of the little window towards the street. It was a red Cabriolet – her dad had showed her a lot of cars as little – and in it, sat three girls.  Kate with her blonde hair in a braid like the princess she had always wanted to be, like the Barbie doll, Alice with her bright ginger hair and the most perfect smile, and lastly, an ordinary blonde girl with her hair in a ponytail; she was pretty, but compared with the two other girls, she looked so… boring.

She probably only was there because she seemed the age to have a driver’s license.

Katie opened the window. “What?” she yelled, loud enough for them to hear it. Kate yelled just as loud back; “We’re going shopping, c’mon!”

It felt like a dream, it felt like a cheesy American movie, she was getting what she had always dreamt of, she was getting somewhere to belong, someone wanted to spend their time with her; suddenly these British girls were outside her house.

She sucked in air, and nodded happily, before she closed the window, and got a purse and money, before she texted Liam, telling him she’d be late, but, she told herself; he’d be okay with that. Sure he would.

And then she left the room.

The next hours felt just as much as a dream, an imagination that soon would burst like soap-bubbles. It felt like an illusion, like a thirsty man in a dry desert seeing a waterfall, though it in reality isn’t there. It felt like her brain was toying with her, and gave her exactly what she wanted; to be needed by those she needed and looked up to.

She shared an ice cream with Alice, while Kate and the other girl – Amy – shared another; they bought Oreo’s in six different colours, and they tried clothes. That was maybe the only thing she didn’t like. It was stupid, really, she thought to herself; she shouldn’t let it get to her, when the others complimented each other as they stepped out of the changing rooms, while all she got was a shrug. She couldn’t help but compare her body to theirs, and wonder why she didn’t have legs like Amy’s, why she didn’t have slender fingers like Kate, or eyes like Alice. She didn’t know exactly what it was; but they had something she didn’t have, besides the perfect bodies; maybe it was the power in their eyes or the way they laughed.

But it was fantastic none the less, and her jealousy didn’t really matter that much when she posed for Amy with Kate and Alice, making funny faces, and knowing that they had chosen her, that they wanted her, and only her. It was easy to forget that they didn’t want Liam, that they hadn’t chosen him. In that moment it was, anyway. It wasn’t before later, at dinner. They had decided to eat at a little café that was more expensive than she had expected; a beautiful place with lit candles everywhere and soft couches – Alice claimed that they always came here, and showed her the way to a little table in the back of the room, letting Kate explain that this position was the absolute best, and Amy giggled and pointed out the good looking boys at the table beside them, making Kate flip her hair, and Alice nudge her in the side, muttering that she couldn’t be any more obvious. For a moment everything was silent, before Kate laughed gently, and the sudden tension loosened its grip in them. Or maybe it was just Katie who felt tense; she felt weird and misplaced in this beautiful place; she felt like the black sheep between all the bright white sheep’s; the other fitted so well in here.

And it was in that moment she noted that she should have been at Liam’s many hours earlier. Even if she was late, this would be unacceptable; it was dark outside. She looked at her clock – her whole world freezed for a short moment; over 9 PM. She blinked. Once. Twice. Still 9:22 PM. “Oh, yeah, you have a watch, what’s the clock?” Kate asked her, and interrupted the conversation between Alice and Amy about something that to herself didn’t matter – something about how Jake and his brother had got into major troubles.

“Twenty past nine,” she answered and Kate nodded. “I thought it was much later than that, I’ve become so used to light nights where we can be out a-ll the time.” She said, and Amy nodded in agreement.
Katie didn’t know what exactly she was saying; everything felt weird, a bit blurry. Her hands shook slightly, and she held onto the glass of water as if her life depended on it. She had lost her appetite, as she looked around at the three other girls – and she realized, that she didn’t know why she was here, with these people that had pushed Liam around, called him names, humiliated him, these people that had made all the wrong decisions, had made all the wrong choices, caught in their own games. And she desperately wanted to hate them, but she couldn’t hate Kate, couldn’t hate the bright eyes and the happy laughs, couldn’t hate Alice smiles, couldn’t even hate Amy that she didn’t even knew; but she did hate how popularity was the most important thing in their life, how if you ended up losing your popularity, there’d be no one to have your back, no one to hug you, they wouldn’t still insist on hanging out with you. She didn’t belong there, but she didn’t just get up and leave; she wanted to fit in there so desperately, she didn’t dare moving. So she just sat there, smiling and nodding, holding up the charade.

And the clock ticked, and she knew she couldn’t make what she had done wrong, right, she knew she had no chance to make things go like they should have, it was too late for excuses, it was too late for everything, her little bubble of happiness had burst, everything had come crashing down, like fireworks that lit up the dark night sky and dissolved in the air. She wished it was possible, that was the only thing she wanted right now. She didn’t know why she was with those people – and her thoughts were going in circles, but all revolving about somehow, some way to get away; and then Amy got up and claimed that she had a date with her boyfriend, and that she really didn’t have time to hang out with kids like them, and Kate took note of how she put pressure on the American word, “kid”, with a sarcastic tone. It was obviously meant to mock her and her accent, but it didn’t upset her like it maybe usually would’ve. Usually she’d be ready to go in defense for America; it maybe wasn’t perfect, and it maybe had a lot of faults, but it was her home, but now she just shrugged inwardly, and felt the great relief over getting the possibility to get home without faking a call from her mother, as she had seriously considered. She jumped up from the couch so fast the rest of them stared.

~*~

Katie got out of the red Cabriolet with a hollow feeling on the inside. Nothing had happened; and that was exactly the problem. She didn’t do the things fate wanted her to do – she couldn’t even go to a party held by the boy she liked, instead she went shopping with two girls who were leading in the bullying of him.

And, when she had finally realized that she didn’t belong there, she wasn’t happy. She just felt empty and cold, when she softly hugged Kate and Alice goodbye, a final goodbye. Maybe she’d have to explain, or maybe they already understood. They weren’t cruel, they were caught in the same bad, old routine, did the same bad things, because people treated them better when they did that, because people treated them like they were the most important thing in the world, like they were more worth than everyone else. And if all the “important” people did it, everyone would end up doing it, to be liked. That was just how things was, but it wasn’t fair, wasn’t fair at all, and when she had taken off her jacket in the entrance, her mother came out, to welcome her. She asked why she was crying, and Katie suddenly realized that big teardrops were rolling down her cheeks; but she didn’t want to explain, didn’t know what she’d say, maybe because she didn’t quite know why she was so sad, so she just ran up the stairs to her room, and maybe that wasn’t quite fair either. But she couldn’t think about that now, all she wanted was to crawl under her sheets and think about how stupid she was. And that was what she did.

She wanted to sleep, to dream herself away from the world, but she couldn’t. She felt sick over herself, and she wanted to do something, anything to turn all the wrongs to right. She didn’t know what, but she knew where she belonged; in the warm cozy arms of Liam Payne.

She threw the sheets aside, and got onto her feet, fumbling her way across the dark room until she found her phone, in the charger. With shaking fingers, she clicked onto contacts.

Li

For a moment she considered whet ether she should text him or call him. It was almost midnight, he probably wouldn’t be awake, she said to herself. But she had to do something. She clicked on the button.

Calling: Li.

It went to voice-mail; the soft, calm voice of Liam, saying that he wasn’t available for the moment, but you were welcome to leave a message, and that you always were welcome to leave a message after the beep. For a moment she was silent, just holding the phone in her hand, before the words stumbled out of her mouth, and for yet another moment she wasn’t sure what she was saying.

“It’s Katie, uh, your voicemail says to leave a message –“ Of course it did, what was she thinking, “ and uh, my message is that I’m so sorry, so terribly sorry, you wouldn’t understand just how sorry I am, even if I sat here repeating the word over and over again, and you may not think I really am sorry, but I am, oh god, Li, I’m so, so sorry.” She was rambling, and she almost didn’t stop to breathe, “I understand if you never want to see me again, because you’ve probably guessed where I was, instead of with you, with Alice and the others, I really understand if you hate me, I would as well but I hope you now know that I really am so terribly sorry.” She finished, and for a moment she breathed into the phone, as if waiting for him to answer. “Bye.” She whispered, and clicked decline.
And then she was all alone, in the big empty room, with the deadly silence. She just sat there for a good time, it could’ve been hours, but she just sat there, and let time pass, looking out in the darkness.

Then, her phone vibrated in her hands. She manically searched for the buttons to lock up the screen, her fingers suddenly were sweaty. Finally the screen was lit, and she had to close her eyes for a moment, dure to the bright light.

1 new message

Her heart beat a little faster, and she clicked show. The message came up on her screen after a few seconds that felt like years.

Message from: Li

Playground in 5.

That was all, three words, but a smile put itself upon her face none the less.  She found a green sweater and threw it over her head, and took a pair on leggings plus a pair of over-used flats on, before she snuck down the stairs and out of the door, trying to keep silent, she was sure her mum who still was awake and sitting in the living room, watching television, could hear her heartbeat and her breathing that suddenly seemed too loud; and then she was out. She started running; she ran so fast her legs started hurting, her stomach hurt, her lungs desperately needed air, and she gasped for oxygen, but it didn’t matter, not really, because all she knew was that she had to get to the old playground, that she had to at least try to make things right. Her lungs felt like they were on fire, but she kept running. And when she was almost there, she slowed down and walked, trying to get her pulse down. She could see her erratic breath in the chilly air, and she almost dreamed herself back to when she was a little child, and it was one of the most magical things to be able to see her own breath on the cold days. Almost.

But she didn’t, because here was the playground, and it seemed far more magical than any memory of her childhood. Maybe it was the way the moon shone at the little steel rollercoaster, or the way the light breeze made the swings move ghostly back and forth, or  maybe it was the sight of it all, and the boy with the light brown hair and a black jacket, who was standing in the middle of it all. Her heart beat remarkably faster, the closer to him she got.

He didn’t move, he just stood there, with his hands in his pockets of the jacket. It was a new jacket, she remembered dazed. Jake had ruined his jacket some days earlier. The thought made her feel slightly guilty, and she sank her spit.

“Hi.” She whispered softly, and stepped closer. He looked so disappointed and sad. Her fingers fumbled with her sweater, sweaty and nervous. Then he spoke up. “You’re an idiot. I don’t think I’ve cried so much in my life, as I did today.” He stated, and she finally noticed his red eyes.

She nodded silently, and stepped closer. There were not more than half a metre between them, and she kept on going, crossing the small distance that felt like miles. And then her sweaty fingers clawed uselessly at his jacket, and she tugged him a little bit closer, as she desperately mumbled that she knew, and she could feel the tears rising in her eyes when he didn’t say anything, but just let her stand there.

She inhaled his scent sharply, wanting to remember it forever, wanting to keep it forever, like all the photographs in the little photo-album back home. And then he whispered softly, gently,

“I know you are,” and a big hand caressing her chin while the other rested on her hip, just like it belonged there, and she closed her eyes, and closed her fingers tightly around the fabric of the jacket beneath her fingers, and she thought, that if this was just another wonderful day-dream, she didn’t ever want to wake up, ever. She just stood there, and he just stood there, his fingers gently moving on his hip in calming small circles, ever so softly, ever so gently. He lifted her chin slowly, and connected his lips with hers.

It wasn’t rough, and it wasn’t pressuring. It wasn’t really anything but two pair of lips that just barely touched, and it was so gentle, as if it’d be possible to break the other, like glass, like soap-bubbles. Gently and softly they pressed a bit more, felt a bit more of each other, disappeared in each other.

They didn’t know exactly how long time passed while their lips danced an, until now, unknown dance, before they stopped and Katie muttered, “Happy birthday,” and Liam smiled happily at her, and they sat down on the same swing together, her on his lap, while he pointed out that it was past midnight so really, it wasn't his birthday anymore, and she giggled. It felt like nothing bad could reach her, and she could almost forget that she hadn't spent the whole day with him, forget that she had made such huge mistake.

Almost, but not fully; and that was the reason she turned her head - as she was sitting on him - and looked into his eyes.

"I really am sorry, you know that right?" she asked worriedly, and furrowed her eyebrows slightly when he just silently nodded - she wasn't sure if he understood. She didn't say anything though. They sat there in the silence, looking at the night sky - somehow she understood that words weren't needed, and the silence felt comfortable and warm. She just memorized the feeling of his hand stroking her back gently, tracing unknown patterns, and she wanted to remember the thousands of stars over her forever. It was Liam who broke the silence.

"Two years ago, maybe a bit more, maybe a bit less, I don't remember, Jake and some of his friends told me that Leah liked me, and said I should ask her out. And he said- he said she was quite insecure so she'd probably say no at first to test me. I had liked Leah for more than a year at that time, so of course it excited me when I heard that. I asked her out. She rejected me, like he had said. I did it again, and again - and again. I asked her out 22 times. Twenty-two times of pure rejection and humiliation."

His voice was shaking a little, but the circling movements of his hand didn't stop - she had a feeling he wasn't really there, that his soul was flying in the chilly air like a beautiful butterfly, free like the bird, while he told his story. She didn't know what his point was, but she kept silent. She didn't want to scare away the butterfly. "It turned out it all was a joke. Jake and his friends had cyber-bullied me before, but I thought they weren't serious. Well, they were. I had started crying when Leah - the girl - rejected me for the last time, and Alice started laughing and told me that it all - " he paused for a moment and inhaled air sharply –

" - told me, that it all was a joke. Leah hated me, and she now thought I was a stalker."

It didn't make sense in her head at first; Alice, playing such a joke on Liam? The same Alice she had shared ice cream with? Yes, Alice wasn't perfect, and yes, she called him names, pushed him, threw things at him and dipped his homework in the toilet along with everyone else - but somehow this seemed to be much worse.

It left so many scars on a soul, all that rejection and hate, she thought, and her sight got blurry with tears. To think that she could go with them, when Liam so obviously needed her, like a child need its mother. To think that she had thought she belonged there. It felt like another world.

"Can you see that star?" Liam asked, interrupting himself, and pointed up in the sky.

She nodded; she was pretty sure he was talking about the big, bright one. "It's the North star - Polaris. It's said, that no matter where you are, the North Star will guide you home. I wanted a home. And ever since that day, when I found out the truth, I accepted that Leah wasn't meant for me, I started pretending that, er, the star.. was my girlfriend." She glanced at him. He was clearly blushing, even in the dark she could see it, and she directed her sight back at the beautiful star.

"I talked to it and everything." She giggled happily, and kissed him on the cheek.

"Really?" "I sound like a lunatic now, doesn't I?" he asked embarrassed, but with that adorable little giggle. It felt a bit like the first afternoon they had spent together; they were laughing in the same way. When the chuckling had stopped, Liam continued softly, while drawing patterns and unknown animals on her back, every now and then letting his fingers run through her hair. "My point actually was, that ever since that I met you, I- I started pretending that the star was you. I even called it Ti-Ti."

Her heart almost stopped beating, and her tongue wouldn't move, nor would her lips, she couldn't ask all the things she wanted to ask, as if she had gone mute for a moment - or maybe it was the feeling of having too many questions and only a few words. "So.. I guess this is my awkward way to ask you if you want to be my star? My girlfriend?" he asked, and her lips finally reacted.

"Sounds pretty much okay."

He wanted to be with her. "My star, Ti-Ti." he whispered from behind her, and they giggled, giddy with happiness. She was his star to light up the darkest days, and he was her Singer, with the voice that would warm her heart even on the coldest days, and give her the strength to continue burning, going on. The singer and the star.

And their lips found each other again, clumsy and awkward from a wrong angle, but so right and so real.

~*~

Life went on. For both of them. It felt weird not to sit beside Jake, Alice and Kate in the beginning, but with time she got used to it. She began spending her breaks at the library. Not because she was lonely, but because this was where she belonged. At the library, she found Carmen, Carmen who also belonged at the library, Carmen who read way more than her, Carmen with the kind green eyes and the warm hugs, Carmen who was the picture of the "normal" student. Katie's days with extreme popularity were over - and just like in a cliché American movie, she discovered that she didn't need it. What she did need, was the inside jokes between Carmen and her, the evenings and afternoons with Liam, the kisses on cheek, on nose, the tickling of his eyelashes on her skin.

~*~

It became autumn, and the leaves covered the world in brown, red and orange colours. Autumn turned to winter, and the clean white, soft snow fell on the naked, dark trees, winter became spring and the whole was re-born, dressed in bright green. And they still were together. Everyone understood that they were very serious about this relationship; maybe a little too understanding in Katie's opinion. It maybe was funny enough when her uncle winked at her the first time and gave her a condom - but after the fifth condom that she had thrown into her drawer, she had to admit it was quite embarrassing.

She didn’t plan on using the condoms right now; even though everything else around her seemed to revolve around sex, she couldn’t see the point in it, not now; sometimes she’d wonder if it was strange that she didn’t want anything else than the feeling on his naked skin against her, if it was weird that she didn’t want penetration; it just didn’t seem to matter. His touch, light and fluttery, gentle, pleasing, playing with her, dancing with her, was enough.

Another time, her mum gave her the talk about that when two people loved each other, they'd often end up wanting more than kisses and touches, and that had given her a lot to think about in the late hours. It wasn't so much about the sex part; she knew Liam wouldn't pressure her to anything though she knew he wanted to himself. It was the part about love that confused her.

Did she love Liam?

And what sometimes seemed even more important - did he love her?

Carmen often patted her hand, and told her that they were the happiest couple she knew. They weren't perfect; they did fight with each other, they did get jealous easily, but no matter all the fights and the jealousy, she knew she belonged there, and she'd always want to solve whatever problem they had.

Fights and jealousy was a part of life, and without it, there wouldn't be the happiness or relief over being back on track.

Their latest fight had been different though, she thought worriedly, as she sat alone in her room on the verge of bursting into tears. She only wanted the best for him, and she knew he could get far with that voice - she only wanted him to be able to smile every day. She had told him to try out for x-factor, once again. He was older now, and he had the voice, the will. She knew he could do it, but his eyes had been filled with tears and he had gone into a rage, screaming that he'd never; never try out for x-factor again.

It was enough to be completely humiliated on national television, he had screamed, he didn't need to do it again, and he had ran out of the room, slamming the door. Carmen's words ringed for her ears; "No one can break a relationship but those in it." Had she broken it?

No, she couldn't allow herself to think like that. She couldn't act like a princess caught in the tower, waiting for her prince; she had to jump out of her window and meet him. She smiled gently, when she realized the roles were reversed, he was the princess, and she was going to help him. She started up her little laptop.

x-factor 2010 sign-up

she wrote. A blanket came up, and she filled it out. If he didn't try, he'd never win she told herself. Everyone needed someone to push their limits a little, not cross them, just make them realize what they were capable of. She printed the mail with the information, put it in a envelope, and wrote his name on it, and walked past his house with it. It felt like the only right thing to do. It was the only right thing to do, wasn't it? she questioned herself as she walked back home. If she had known how much that little fight would change his life, she probably would have hesitated with signing him up; she liked to think of his beautiful voice as her own little secret, or maybe for the reason, that she didn't want her boyfriend worshipped by all the girls, she couldn't handle it. But now it was done, and she felt quite satisfied with herself. A couple of hours later, Liam called her and told her that he was sorry. Of course it was hard to swallow the fact that she just was supposed to forgive him, but if she had learnt something of their relationship, it was forgiving.

She told him she had signed him up. He sighed deeply, and she could almost see his furrowed eyebrows. "Yeah, I saw that." She waited for a moment in silence before she questioned him, "And... Are you going?"

She heard him breathe once - twice, and then he answered. "Sure.”

She grinned madly. “You just have to go for your dream Li.”

“Alright Katie. I will." This fight hadn't been a fight that ended it all; it had been a fight for her to let him allow himself to believe his dream, to let it come true. This was the snowball that'd start an avalanche, like in the old Donald Duck movies. And while Liam rehearsed every evening in front of the mirror, Katie and Carmen used the evenings on putting new photographs of Liam and Katie into the photo album. Photographs of the autumn, with Liam covered in leafs with a boyish grin, photos of snow angels, of decorating for Christmas, of Liam crawling up in the first green tree, and yelling that she to him was more beautiful than the spring itself. So many memories were in that album, and she wanted to memorize every single one of them, maybe because she was afraid her time with Liam soon would be over.

And she laid with him, in the dark nights, skin naked, slightly slick, but not for the reasons everyone else seemed to think. The feeling of his heartbeat next to hers was the most beautiful thing in the world.

And when Liam finally auditioned, she also took a photo with him there, with the number, and she promised herself that this photo never should be shown for the public, it was her little secret.

And of course he got yes, and of course Simon remembered him. He sang Cry Me A River; she felt all taken back in time to the day she had heard him sing for the first time. She cried her eyes out.

He had done it, even if he didn’t win, he had won something. He had turned his back to his bad past that still followed him everywhere, let people talk at school, because they weren’t the ones that mattered to him. He had cried when she hadn’t shown up to his birthday; even now, months later, it created a knot in her stomach. She mattered to him, he cared for her, and she knew that.

But why – why couldn’t they just tell each other that, tell each other that they were in love?

But as she stood there watching, she decided, that all that didn’t have to matter. For now his voice was enough.

You don't have to say what you did

I already know, I found out from him

Now there's just no chance

For you and me, there'll never be

Don't it make you sad about it?

~*~

When he got told that his fantastic adventure had ended, he was completely devastated. He cried, she could hear it in his voice when he called.

This was his dream, and now it was lying on the ground, crushed, broken into hundreds of pieces. For a moment she wished she hadn't signed him up, he seemed to love singing so much more than her, but that was selfish.

She couldn't seem to find the right words to say, no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't say anything but "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," even though he didn't blame her. She wished she could have held him, he needed a pair of arms right now.

She had been so sure he'd get through... There had to be something else than x-factor… She had spent the whole afternoon trying to find another solution, when he called again. He had been put in a group with four other lads, they should form a boy band.

This was their last change, really, the last chance, but it was a big one.

"Thank you so much Katie. I lo- see you."

he interrupted himself in his happy rambling over the phone. She wanted to take up what almost had been said, she wanted to pressure him to say it, but she didn't.

Just give it time…

~*~

One Direction came through every live-show, and it was soon the finale. She had bought tickets to watch it, even though Liam easily could've got her some; she was sick of the rumors about her only being with Liam because of his "fame".

She hoped Alice and Kate at least didn't believe the rumors; even though they had been part of making life hell for Liam, they weren't cruel, and she somehow still wanted their respect. It was ridiculous, but she wanted it, so badly.

What she wanted even more was to see Liam smile at the finale, hug him and know that his dream came true. It wasn't only his dream anymore, it was their dream.

And she found the green sweatshirt she knew he loved, because it was the one she had worn that night in August where she had become his star, and he became her Singer…

Soon everyone would be able to hear his voice. It made her feel strangely lonely, the thought of that.

~*~

It was fantastic, of course. Liam sang first of the boys in his band, and his voice was just as fantastic as it had been last summer on the old playground. She could hear the screams of countless girls that wanted them, wanted One Direction, wanted her Liam, and she could feel Liam’s happiness everywhere, she wished she could take proper pictures to put in her album, and she knew she had to find a way to get their song onto her iPod when she got home.

But for now it just was her and the crazy boys and girls. She wasn't an individual person any more, she was a part of a crowd, a part of a wave. She felt so happy.

 

And when Liam and her got home, giddy with happiness though they hadn't won, he spun her around in his arms while he sung Forever Young, and they couldn't stop smiling. She found her iPod and put it on shuffle, sat it in her speakers and let the music flow out, while Liam and her danced around.

"We got a contract with Syco, we got a contract!" he yelled excitedly, and they laughed again; there wasn't really anything to laugh over; it was just the happy triumphant feeling that filled them both.

"You did it." she stated gently when the chuckles had died out and they had fallen onto the bed next to each other. It was a small bed, only for one person, so they had to almost lie on top of each other, but neither of them minded. Katie somehow wanted him closer, wanted to be able to hear his heartbeat, kiss him until she was breathless, soak in the radiating happiness of his.

But she just ran her fingers through his hair, and he kissed her gently as reward. "We did it." he replied as answer to her comment a few moments before. She smiled dreamily, and studied his face that was raised a bit over her, resting on his elbow. His eyes, his beautiful brown eyes, had felt so much pain, been so alone, had been so alone, had been so sad, but now they were shining so bright and proud. Hr had proved them all wrong, he had followed his dream. She couldn't stop smiling.

Her hand slided down the back of his neck, caressed his Adams' apple and his birthmark, before her fingertips slowly continued going up to his chin, his soft cheeks, she softly touched his nose and moved slowly up to his temple, brushed his eyebrows, and she grazed his closed eyelids with hands light as the leaves in the autumn.

He was completely silent, letting her memorize every single spot on his face. Her fingers once again travelled down, and were put to rest on his neck. The only sound was their steady breathing and the soft music.

Opened my eyes, I realized it was only just a dream..

She could feel his pulse against her fingers, beating hard. She pressed gently, knowing that she had the power, she could've easily pushed him down and choked him right then and there; he trusted her fully. Somehow she knew, without even looking, that his eyes were open. She pressed a little harder, half expecting him to hiss in pain, but he didn't make any noise. She slowly leaned a bit up, eased the pressure on his skin by lifting her fingers and she softly pressed her lips against the same exact spot. She let her lips linger there for what could've been seconds, but also minutes. Time didn’t matter.

She moved her lips slowly away, and looked up at him again. His eyes were closed again, and he made a small approving sound at the back of his throat. She had to catch her breath again for a moment, and his eyes opened again; they were dark, almost black, but he just smiled one of his gentle smiles, and took in the hem of her sweater. She hesitated for a moment. Sure he had seen her naked before, and she had seen him nude, but somehow in this moment as the music played softly and they looked into each other’s eyes, it felt like so much more, right now, with this rush of triumph, she wanted him closer. And finally she nodded, and they both sat up. He took her head in his hands, her cheeks and chin in his big, slightly sweaty palm, and he kissed her short but lovingly, as if he put all the words he still hadn't told her, in that kiss, and she responded just as strong. His tongue wiped over her bottom lip, and she opened it slightly, allowing him to go inside and explore her mouth, letting their tongues dance together.

When his lips had moved away from hers, and his hands found their way to the bottom of the sweater again, she let him take off the piece of clothing. His breath got hitched, and his eyes roamed her upper body like it was the first time he saw it. He touched her upper arm so lightly, as if she’d break if he gave in to the desperate longing after pressing his fingers against her skin, the longing after mapping every single spot on her body out. He just let his fingertips travel slowly and lightly down her upper arm, getting to her shoulder, his eyes still fixated on hers, and she shivered with expectations on the inside. This felt more intimate than their usual kisses and touches; and a bit scary but exciting at the same time.

His fingers moved down her back, and reached the clasps of her bra – her favorite, her eldest bra, that really didn’t flatter her all the smart bras in the shops in town. She blushed slightly, and he chuckled. She realized she had been covering herself with on hand.
“You’re beautiful Katie,” he whispered with a hoarse voice, causing her to blush even more and laugh a little nervous laughter. She took away her hand, and he chuckled again a little, and shook his head lightly.

“You’ve got nothing to be ashamed of. You’re beautiful,” he repeated, and with a little bit fumbling fingers, he opened and took of the bra and laid it with the other clothes of hers.

He breathed out slowly, just taking on the sight in front of him, before he slowly reached one hand out; and let them ghost over her for a moment, as if asking for allowance. She nodded, and finally his palms touched her bare, pale skin; it felt like it was burning, a fire she wouldn’t want to stop, the most beautiful fire of all. He caressed her breasts softly, circling his thumbs in steady movements, looking as if he had a pure miracle beneath his fingers.

He leaned a bit forward, and kissed one of them; so gently, so softly. Then he kissed her lips again, lightly, playing. She whispered that he also should take off his shirt, and he smiled. She helped him get it over his head and threw it on the floor.

No matter how many times she had seen him shirtless, she still got blown away, knowing that this boy was hers. He had a kind of beauty she couldn’t recall seeing in any other boy. Maybe it was the was the way he was so sure he was ugly, or the way he worked so hard on looking better, even though he already was so… beautiful. It was his personality, his smile, his gentle laugh, that made her fall in love with him.

And just like that, she knew it for. She loved him; and it just seemed so simple. And she wanted him to know how beautiful he was; even though he probably wouldn’t believe it if she told him. But she did it anyway, whispered it softly, “You’re quite beautiful yourself Li. Really.” While her hands gently touched his skin, moving up and down. He smiled.

“Thanks.”
She knew he didn’t believe her, but she couldn’t do anything but let her fingers travel over his skin, explore it slowly, and push him down onto his back, letting her lips follow the trail of feather-like hairs on his stomach, down, down, with fluttering kisses every now and then, and when she heard him let out a throaty sigh, a light moan, she knew she was doing the right thing. It felt right, to press her lips softly against his skin, it felt so real, so intimate.

Her hands landed on his tight trousers, where there was a big bulge. They blushed lightly, and she giggled. “Let’s take this off, yeah?” she whispered breathy, excited over the sight in front of her; the blushing Liam, with his warm eyes, dark, just for her.

He hesitated for a moment.  “You sure?”
He obviously wasn’t just talking about seeing him naked; that wasn’t a big deal; but about taking the next step, the last step.

She nodded again, and he inhaled sharply, before both of their fingers fumbling and clumsily worked at the buttons and they finally got them off.

“You too…” he mumbled, and she nodded, and took with a little help from Liam her own tight pair of trousers off and her underwear as well. He got up as well, and pushed her down on her back, before he softly kissed her; her neck, her lips, her nose, her cheeks, and her neck again, down her chest, licking, sucking, kissing. She clawed uselessly at his white boxers, signaling to him to take them off, and he did, while she let her hands explore the tense muscles in his back, and then his hands were back, and he was nude against her skin, and she pressed herself up against him; she could’ve just as well have told him to take it all, take her love, take her, and as if as a reward, he made another of those beautiful throaty sighs, letting his slick hands move over her body once again. He was breathing fast, and she knew he wanted to do it, to show her how he loved her, as he couldn’t say it out loud, and she couldn’t either.

But he controlled himself. “Protection?” he whispered, and bit his lip. She nodded, and with one hand, she opened the drawer beside the bed, found one of the condoms her uncle had given to her that had made her blush so much. He smirked boy-ish.

“You were expecting this?” he asked, and pointed at the little package in her hands as she tried opening it.
“I was hoping for this.” She answered truthfully, and finally the plastic gave in to her clumsy desperate fingers, and the little condom fell out in her hand.

“Li…” she whispered, and let her hand with the condom find his member, and slowly roll it on. He let out a deep sigh, giving completely in to her touch as she softly kissed his lips, sucked gently at his tongue. He pushed her down again, still kissing her; her lips probably were going to be swollen the next morning, but she didn’t care as she dragged him closer and his skin was burning on hers, and he said her name through his small moans, and everything but two sweaty bodies and brown reassuring eyes disappeared.

It wasn’t that great; really, it was short and nothing special really; just when she was getting worked up, it was all over, but the look of pure euphoria in his eyes, on his face, gave her a warm feeling in the stomach. He had used so much time pleasing her; it was okay.

And he promised it would get better, as they laid sweaty next to each other and held onto each other as to not fall down from the bed.

And the best of it all, was, when he gently whispered, “I love you.”

She smiled, and messed his hair even more up with her hand. “And I love you.” She said. And they fell asleep, snuggled up to each other, limbs tangled, listening to one another’s heartbeat.

And she knew, that if he hadn’t told her it first, she would have said it. Because some things just need to be said. Because some people light up every day of your life, that you just have to say it.

~*~

Maybe they weren’t going to last forever; that wasn’t even likely, and maybe she would hate herself for the many photographs and all the memories – but she had him now, and that was enough for her. He gently dragged her a little closer to him in his sleep. He really did love her.

And she loved him.

Note: I hope this didn’t suck too much Katie... :I

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