"Louis! Happy birthday!" Harry cries the identical moment I open my eyes. For a split second, I'm confused. It's my birthday already? I guess I stopped caring about my birthdays once I turned 21. But then I remember how secretive Harry was being yesterday afternoon when he told me to wait outside while he went into a store and grabbed something, and I know Harry probably cares more than I do.
"Thanks Hazza," I reply.
"I got you something," he says, grinning his signature cheesy smile at me and thrusting a box toward me. It's perfectly wrapped. It even has a little bow on it. I stare at it for a second.
"Don't you want to open it?" Harry asks, clearly disappointed at my reaction.
"No, I do, but it looks so perfect that I don't really want to ruin it," I say, frowning down at the box.
"You're such a wimp," Harry says, tearing a long shred of wrapping paper from the box and handing it back to me. "There. Now it's not so perfect and you can open it already."
I rip the rest of the wrapping paper off and set it aside. There's something written on the lid of the box in French and I tilt my head trying to make sense of what it says.
"Last time I checked, you aren't magically granted the ability to understand French when you turn twenty-four," Harry says sarcastically. "Get on with it."
He bounces up and down on the bed impatiently like a little kid on Christmas morning who's already had way too many sugar cookies.
I pull the lid off of the box and gape down at the contents in shock.
"Harry...?" I say, gently picking up what's inside.
"It's not...exactly what you think," Harry tells me. "It's more of a promise thing, you know?"
I gaze down at the ring solemnly. "Harry, this must have cost so much," I say pathetically. "I know you don't have the money to buy me extravagant things. You didn't need to do this."
As I speak, I slide the ring onto my finger and find that it's a perfect fit. It's a gold color and at first I think it's just a simple band when I feel an engraving on the inside. I take it off again and peer at it.
The engraving says H.S & L.T.
"Harry, I...I can't believe this," I say truthfully.
"Do you like it or no?" Harry asks worriedly.
"I love it," I say, sliding it onto my finger once more. "I'm never taking it off."
"Never?" Harry repeats.
"Never," I confirm.
Harry pulls me into a hug that gradually develops into a kiss and I find comfort in Harry's strong, muscular arms. "Is this the best birthday present ever?" Harry asks, winking.
"Nah, I've gotten better," I reply, smirking.
"Really? Like what?"
I try to think of a gift, anything, but for the life of me I can't think of one single thing I have ever received in my whole 24 years of living because Harry is taking off his shirt and my mind just spirals into the same thought over and over. Harry is possibly the most beautiful thing to ever walk the face of this earth.
He turns around and catches me watching him. "Well?" he prompts.
"Um, never mind," I say. I don't want Harry to see how flustered he's made me, so I grab the TV remote and settle back among my pillows to watch a cheesy Christmas movie. Harry joins me after a minute and he cuddles up close to me.
"So I'm just going to go out on a limb here and guess that the ring was the best birthday present you've ever gotten," Harry says.
"Keep telling yourself that Harold."
Harry groans when I call him Harold. "Don't," he says.
"Okay, I'll stop," I say, then pause for a second or two before adding, "Harold."
Harry pulls me closer to him, looks right into my eyes, and says, "Say it one more time and I'll tickle you again. And you know how well that went last time for you."
He runs his hand down my arm painstakingly slowly and I shiver despite myself.
I can feel every inch of Harry's body pressed up against every inch of mine, and it takes all of my self control not to desperately smash my lips against his. His chest rises and falls slowly as he stares into my eyes. His lips look so soft and pink and perfect and all I can think about is kissing him. I try to stop focusing on him but I can't look away. Harry is still and so am I; I'm scared that if I move the moment will be broken and he'll pull away.
A knock on the door to the room startles us both. Harry jolts away from me and disappointment courses through me as he goes to see who it is.
"Room service!" a perky voice chirps.
"Um, could you maybe come back later?" Harry asks and his voice is lower than I've ever heard it before.
"Sure," the perky voice says in agreement. I hear the door close and Harry comes and lays down beside me again, but the moment is over.
We stay there in silence for a while until Harry breaks it by saying,
"Let's play Never Have I Ever."
I agree and tell him to go first. Harry looks up at the ceiling, considering.
"Never have I ever done anything illegal," he says after a moment's hesitation.
I snort. "Oh please. I can't tell you how many times I've broken the law."
Harry looks concerned. "Anything major?"
I shrug. "Depends what you call major. Okay, my turn. Hmmm.."
Harry laughs at my nonchalant tone and waits for me to say mine.
"Never have I ever had a crush on a teacher at school," I say.
"There was one really hot professor at college, but I don't think I really had a crush on him," Harry replies.
"He couldn't have been as good looking as me anyway, so you would have been wasting your time," I tell him smugly.
Harry smiles. "True."
We play on and on for at least an hour until we agree that we should get ready and face the day.
"What do you want to do today?" Harry asks after his shower.
"You said you've never broken the law, right?" I ask curiously.
"Nope, never," Harry says proudly, then frowns when he sees my expression. "Oh no, Louis. What are you thinking about doing?"
I smile. "I think it's time we changed that."