I dropped the cardboard box and threw my hands over my eyes, scrunching them shut just in case. I heard the boy curse under his breath before a few hurried footsteps preceded a hastily closed bathroom door.
“S-sorry,” he stuttered, his accent strange. “I wasn’t expecting anyone but the boys! Of course, you don’t know who the boys are… Oh God, I’m so sorry.”
Slowly I lowered my hands from my face, letting one eye open cautiously before the other followed. Wet footprints shone under the hallway lights and my cardboard box of belongings lay on its side, a little battered but still whole.
“Are you okay out there?” he asked again in that strange, unfamiliar accent.
“Y-yeah… I’m fine, just a little surprised,” I croaked out, finding my voice.
“Really?” The door opened a crack and I sucked in a shallow breath, immediately drawn to the piercing blue eyes that peeked out from behind the door with concern. “You don’t sound fine.”
Still very confused and very much in shock, I somehow managed to bring a smile to my face.
“Yes, really,” I reassured him. “I’m fine. I should probably get this stuff to my room though, so introductions later? Preferably when you’ve found some clothes,” I added with a laugh, though the sight I’d seen mere moments ago of the tall, scruffy-haired boy in nothing but a towel made me want to take back the suggestion.
He chuckled, showing off a set of brilliant, adorably crooked, white teeth, those electric blue eyes sparkling a thousand volts.
“Good plan,” he agreed and the door shut again.
It took two more trips but finally I groaned as I fell onto my bed, the last cardboard box sat with the others in the furthest corner of the bare apartment bedroom.
“What have you done, Sara??” I asked myself. “It’s your first night here and you manage to look like an idiot. The guy probably thinks you’re some kind of perve.”
I was exhausted and suddenly extremely glad that I’d packed my bedding in my immediate luggage, the linen already in its place over the mattress.
There was the rustle of bed sheets and a pair of warm, strong hands moving my limbs gently before the linen settled lightly over my frame. Still out of it, I didn’t really register what was going on.
“It’s just me,” the person said, tucking the sheets up around me. “Your roommate, Niall. We didn’t get to do introductions but I’ll get your name off you in the morn-”
“Sara,” I managed to mutter, though I don’t know how I did it considering I was still almost completely asleep. “My name’s Sara.”
“Well then, Sara, it’s nice to meet you. Sleep tight.”
“It’s just us!”
The accent I’d come to know so well echoed through the small apartment. Niall could be so loud sometimes – though I suppose all of the boys could be pretty loud. Speaking of which…
“HEY SARA!” Harry yelled, leaping over the back of the sofa to land heavily next to me, wrapping an arm around my shoulder with a smile lighting up his face.
In the week I’d been living with the boys I’d never had a dull moment. Niall lived with me but the others lived in pairs in the apartments either side of ours. There was Harry, with the dark curly hair and dimples, Louis with green-grey eyes and the biggest streak of immaturity I’d ever seen in a twenty year old, Liam who was still cheeky but the most responsible of the group and Zayn, with the dark complexion and big brown eyes who was shy at first but opened up quite quickly with his friends around him as support. Harry lived with Louis and Liam and Zayn shared an apartment on the other side.
“How’s your day been?” Niall asked, dropping onto the sofa on my other side. I felt the familiar turning in my stomach at the sight of his smile but hid it as usual, acting like I wasn’t enjoying the warmth of his shoulder against mine or the scent of his cologne.
“Good,” I replied with a smile that was an automatic response to his. No matter what, when Niall smiled, I smiled. “A little bit boring, but good.”
He frowned. “Boring? Well we’ll have to fix that,” he stated and the grin reappeared, much to my delight.
“Don’t you two get too cozy now!” Louis yelled cheekily, tone full of implications, as he shut the apartment door behind him.
“Go home Lou!” Niall yelled in response before smiling at me standing in the hall opposite him, giggling.
“You’re horrible at Call of Duty,” he pointed out and I laughed again.
“I know,” I admitted, and meant it. I really was bad at COD. “But hey, I was the entertainment, right?”
“You’re a little more to m- I mean, to us than just entertainment, Sara,” he said suddenly, avoiding eye contact as he leant against the wall, arms folded across his chest.
“Wow, well didn’t someone just get all serious. I think you’re tired,” I joked, trying to lighten the air. I didn’t really know what Niall meant but I didn’t deal well with intimate conversation, especially with attractive boys.
The way he said everything in that adorable Irish accent of his didn’t make it any easier.
“Night, Niall,” I said with a small smile and a wiggle of my fingers as I slipped in my bedroom, closing the door behind me.
“Night Sara,” I heard him respond quietly, and I listened to his slow footsteps as they faded off down the hall, eventually disappearing altogether.
“You’re going for how long?!”
I had tried to keep an air of disinterest in my voice but I was having trouble registering what Zayn had just said.
“Two months,” he repeated cautiously, looking slightly alarmed at my reaction.
“Two months?!” I almost shrieked, making Zayn look even more alarmed.
“Calm down, Sara,” Liam sat down next to me and wrapped a supportive arm around my shoulder. “Two months really isn’t that long. It’s only eight weeks – we’ll be back before you know it. Besides,” he continued, leaning close but stage-whispering so everyone could hear clearly, “surely it’ll be nice to actually have some food in your fridge for once.”
The other boys began to laugh as an indignant “Hey!” came from my kitchen. Niall emerged two seconds later, looking offended despite the mouthful of burrito he was working his way through.
“See? Surely you won’t miss that gorgeous boy. Such a dainty eater,” Liam continued with pleasant sarcasm.
The thing is, I would miss that gorgeous boy. I missed him when he was away for two nights. How on earth was I going to cope without him for two months?!
“This is why I’m glad I live with Sara,” he said, sitting down on my other side and pushing Liam’s arm away to wrap his own lean, muscled arm around my shoulders. “She appreciates me. She’s nice. Plus she’s cleaner than the lot of you and she smells better.”
“Can’t say the same for you, I’m afraid,” I replied with a smirk on my face, trying to regain my composure as he feigned another expression of betrayal.
“Your words are hurting me, Sara. On the inside.”
I shrugged nonchalantly, managing to knock Niall’s arm away in the process. His closeness had become stifling and I needed to free myself.
“We’ll see if two months without you changes her tune, ‘ey?” Harry suggested cheekily and the whole thing degenerated into a tackle session after I threw a pillow at him.
“So you’ll definitely be okay by yourself?”
It was hard enough to deal with him leaving for so long, but the fact that he’d come back to talk to me alone, ask me if I was okay… it was almost impossible to bear.
“I’ll be fine,” I choked out, hoping I sounded more convincing than I felt.
“Don’t hesitate to call me or any of the boys if there’s trouble or even if you’re just feeling lonely, okay?” He asked me seriously, and I nodded.
“Right. Well,” he sounded a little lost for words and I was about to open my mouth to say something myself when he stepped forward.
“I’m gonna miss you.”
And with a lingering kiss on my forehead, he left.
“Hello, this is Sara,” I said, wondering who would be calling my home phone so late. I was huddled up in one of Niall’s hoodies – he’d lent it to me on a cold day long ago and I’d simply never given it back – and had been about to head to bed.
I laughed as I recognized the five accents as they crackled down the phone line.
“Hi boys!” I replied with equal excitement. It felt so good to hear their voices – all I’d gotten for a month so far were texts. Which were good, but definitely not as good as a phone call.
“We’ve missed you,” they all said at the same time and I felt my chest tighten.
“I’ve missed you too, boys,” I replied.
I talked to each of the boys in turn – Louis demanded that he go first, and there was much struggle on Harry’s part to wrench it from him when his time was up. Then once he was done, Zayn commandeered the phone until he was ready to hand it over to Liam.
“Well, it’s been good talking to you,” Liam said, wrapping up our chat. “I can speak for all the boys when I say we’ve missed you.”
“I’ve missed you all too, Liam. You’re looking after them, right?”
There was a grumble from the other end of the phone. “When am I not looking after them, Sara?”
I laughed. “Fair point. Well, they’re all alive and healthy so you must be doing something right,” I pointed out.
“Don’t jinx it,” he pleaded. “It’s only a matter of time, I swear.”
I laughed again and this time he joined in.
“Oh, look. Niall’s shooting me death stares. I think he might want to talk to you.”
“Well, you’d better put him on then,” I said, keeping my tone jovial but secretly feeling my stomach fill with butterflies.
“Love you, Sara. See you soon!”
I smiled but then listened nervously as I heard the phone exchange hands.
There was a second of silence.
“Well don’t just sit there like a mute - talk to her, you idiot!”
“Hold on a sec,” he said to me before I heard a hand slide over the receiver. However it wasn’t blocking it well enough to cut out what I wanted to hear.
“Piss off, the lot of you. Go on, go!”
There was laughter and then the silence of an empty room.
“Sorry, I’m back,” he said, sighing.
I grinned. “Something the matter?” I asked.
“Just the boys. You know, being the boys. As per usual.”
“But isn’t that why you love them? Isn’t that why half the world loves them?”
He sighed. “I will never understand why. It is a complete mystery how anyone finds the five of us anything more than extremely immature and annoying.” He chuckled.
“Well, I don’t know. I think you’ve got some pretty redeeming qualities,” I replied with a small smile that I was glad he couldn’t see.
“Niall? I don’t know who you’re on the line to but you’re going to have to wrap it up. There’re a bunch of fans outside and we’re going to have you boys do a small meet’n’greet. If we don’t, it’ll be chaos trying to get out of here later. The others are waiting by the exit doors for you.”
I felt my stomach drop with disappointment.
“Hey, did you hear that?” He asked quietly.
“Sara, you need to speak when you’re on a phone. I can’t see you.”
“Oh, right – yeah, I heard. Pretty crazy there, huh?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he said tiredly. “I love the fans, don’t get me wrong, but… it’s just very full-on sometimes.”
Suddenly I wanted nothing more than to give him what he’d told me the fans called a ‘Horan Hug’ and make him feel better.
“Well, duty calls.” I heard a chair scrape back over wooden flooring and footsteps followed by a door opening. He was heading out to the fans – to the girls lucky enough to see him tonight. I could hear them cheering for the boys. Chanting their names. Chanting his name.
“I’ve missed hearing you voice, Sara.”
“I’ve missed hearing yours too, Niall.”
“Love you,” he said, voice increasingly drowned out by the chants and screams.
“Love you too,” I said to a bunch of shrieking fans and then a dial tone.
“Come on, Sara. Calm yourself. You’re acting like a moron.”
I was pacing the eerily still apartment – even after two months of solitude, I still hadn’t gotten used to the complete silence that the boys’ absence had created.
After nearly two whole hours of pacing back and forth in the hall, I finally collapsed at the kitchen’s island counter-slash-bar, letting the tall stool take my weight as I rested my head against the cool granite bench-top.
“They’re late,” I whispered to myself exhaustedly. “Why are they late?”
I took another quick look at the clock, despite my better judgment, and groaned.
“Two hours overdue!” I cried out to myself as I saw the clock hands perched at 10.09pm. “Are the boys ever going to come home?”
I let my head fall back against the granite softly.
“Is Niall ever going to come home?”
“OH MY GOD WHAT IS GOING ON?!”
I started flipping out, writhing around in the grasp of – well, I didn’t know who it was, and that was the problem.
“LET GO OF ME!” I yelled, feeling adrenaline and fear coursing through my veins.
Then suddenly a familiar voice broke through my panic.
“Sara! SARA! It’s me! It’s Niall!”
Suddenly my whole body went limp and I felt myself fall against him, his arms loosening as their intentions turned from restraint to embrace. I was weak with exhaustion but mostly relief, laughing into his chest as we sat on my bed in the dark.
“You weren’t home when you said you would be, you didn’t call…” I began to stammer, sleep still clouding my mind and shutting off the filter between my brain and my mouth.
He hushed me, rocking me until my heartbeat slowed to a normal pace.
“There were weather problems so we couldn’t land for nearly an hour and a half. I would’ve texted but my phone had to stay on flight mode while we were in the air. Then I finally got home and you were asleep in the kitchen. Why on earth were you there?”
I took deep breaths, embarrassed that Niall had found me there and shocked that he’d managed to carry me all the way to my room before it woke me.
“Well I was pacing ‘cause you weren’t home and I was worried so I couldn’t sleep and you guys didn’t tell me anything and so I got freaked out and thought you might’ve had an accident or a plane crash or-” I was rambling, feeling that dread building back up in my stomach just remembering how sick with worry I’d become.
“Hey hey hey!” slender fingers gripped my shoulders gently and drew me back so that he could duck down to look up into my face. “Don’t think stuff like that! We’re fine, see? I’m fine, it’s okay. We’re okay.”
“Yeah, I know that now,” I mumbled and Niall pulled me close again, cradling me to his chest. “I just couldn’t sleep, ‘cause I was scared and you weren’t here and I didn’t know…”
“Shhh,” he hushed me gently. “I’m here, there’s nothing to be scared about. Just go back to sleep, Sara. I’m not going anywhere.”
And so I relaxed, cradled in Niall’s arms, as he sang me softly sleep.
“PASS TO ME, SARA! TO ME!”
Lou was going mental, waving his arms about and yelling.
“Sorry boo-bear, but this goal’s mine!”
Harry stood in our goals, completing our team of three. Covering Lou was Zayn and chasing me down the length of the field as I sped toward the opposing goals was Niall, though I had a sneaking suspicion he was going easy on me.
“You’re not being soft, are you Nialler?” I accused, slowing down just slightly.
He grinned and I just saw it as I glanced briefly over my shoulder.
“No, but the fact that you thought I was means that my plan’s going to work perfectly!”
Attempting to take advantage of my slowed pace, he kicked out to get the ball away from my feet. However I swept my foot to the side and was about to execute a perfect trip when somehow, his ankle caught between both my own and we went down together, landing in a tangled heap of pointy elbows and bruised knees. And it was one of my knees that ploughed straight into Niall’s ribs.
The crunching sound was horrific. His cry of pain was even worse.
I’d been paused in the hallway across from his room with a tray of food for at least fifteen minutes, just watching. Watching the boys jostle with one another. Watching them affectionately annoy Niall. Watching Niall wince every time he laughed.
Watching the pretty young nurse with the red hair falling over herself to attend to his every need.
Finally she was called to leave and I was comfortable entering the room. I was still feeling a little green with jealousy at the girl’s proximity to Niall and her ability to help him but seeing all the boys instantly brought a smile to my face.
“Nurse Sara to the dessert-related rescue!”
I slid into the hospital room with the tray of tea and cake and was immediately met with cheers and expressions of delight. I hastily put the tray down and stepped away as the boys dived for the treats.
“You’re a bunch of wild animals,” I joked fondly as I took one of the suddenly vacated seats by Niall’s bedside.
“You’re far too good to them. Perhaps you’d do better as an animal tamer, Nurse Sara,” he teased, wincing as the light chuckle jostled his tender injuries.
“I’m really sorry for breaking your ribs,” I apologised for what must have been the millionth time, looking with concern at his bruised and bandaged chest.
“If you say sorry once more, I’m going to stop talking to you,” he warned. “Besides, it was just one of the many times you took my breath away,” he joked.
“I’d like to think I could leave someone breathless without having to knee the air supply from their lungs by force.”
“You were never one for using normal methods,” he teased back and I reached out to ruffle his soft bleached hair, laughing at his cries of protest.
Suddenly we were both distracted by a clatter from the table in the corner of the room; the boys were verging on a tussle over the last segment of cake. They were getting rowdier by the second and I could see it ending badly for all involved.
“Right, that’s it!” I stood. “All of you, out! It’s late. You’ve had your tea and your cake, you’ve talked to the patient, now it’s time to go home. He needs rest, not the four of you threatening to start a damn food fight!”
“Come on boys,” Liam said. “You heard her. Time to go – Nurse’s orders.” He winked at me teasingly and I poked my tongue out at him with a smile on my face.
“Lucky Irishman, gets the pretty girl to look after him when he’s hurt,” Harry grumbled jokingly and I raised my eyebrows at him.
“Do you want me to break your ribs as well then, Harry?”
He shook his head quickly, curls bouncing from side to side. “I think I’ll be alright, actually.”
“Yeah, that’s what I thought. Now go on, we’ll see you tomorrow.”
Finally, with their last goodbyes and well-wishes, the boys filed out of the room, closing the door behind them.
“Thanks for that,” he murmured. “They were starting to give me a bit of a headache.”
“I know, they’re shockingly good at that,” I joked, sitting back down. “How are you feeling?”
He chuckled dryly, wincing again. “I’ve felt better,” he admitted. “And I mean, the care I get here is pretty shitty.”
I felt a little surge of joy. He didn’t like the care, which meant he didn’t like his carers. Which meant he didn’t like the pretty redhead nurse-slash-fangirl who fluttered her eyelids at him like they were having seizures.
“Well, perhaps you should complain to the hospital then,” I suggested. “Tell them to raise their standards.”
“It’s only shitty because the nurse leaves me alone too long and too often,” he clarified, the grin still on his face as I felt my expression drop.
“Well I can go get her for you then, if you want her so much.”
“I don’t mean that nurse. You’re my nurse, as far as I’m concerned. You take better care of me than anyone. In fact, I wish they’d switch that redhead for you.”
My spirits soared. “Fine then; as much as it pains me to do so, I suppose I could stay here for a little while longer,” my tone dripped with mock-resignation and I returned to my seat, unable to hide my grin.
“You’re far too good to me,” he said tiredly. “Far, far too good.”
I leant against the edge of the mattress and watched him drift off to sleep. It wasn’t until he was snoring lightly that I realised he had never let go of me.
Instead, his hand had slid down to allow his fingers to intertwine with my own.
“So do you want to come?”
Tonight the boys had a concert on nearby and at the last second they were inviting me.
“Are you kidding me?” I asked in shock. “Of course I want to come!”
“Awesome. Well we’re going to be there for most of the day doing last-second mic checks and such,” Zayn explained, “but we’ll come home, get ready and take you in with us. Sound like a plan?”
“Only the best plan I’ve ever heard!” I replied eagerly.
“Well then you’d better make yourself look your prettiest, love. You’re going to be in all the photographs, whether you like it or not,” Louis warned.
I was so excited. I’d never been to one of the boys’ concerts before – when we’d started living together I didn’t even know they were famous. I’d done an overseas study program for a year in Japan and missed the largest part of their rise to stardom. In a way that was probably a good thing because if I’d known about them I probably would’ve made a complete fool of myself in front of them.
Seeing as it was too early to start getting ready and the boys were all at sound checks, I opened up my laptop to check my favourite social sites. Facebook was dead and more people must have found out on Tumblr that I lived with the boys because there’d been another ridiculous surge in my number of followers.
And then, just as I thought the Internet was not going to present anything of interest to me, I saw Niall’s latest tweet;
‘More excited than words can describe – hanging out with my favourite girl tonight!!!’
I beamed at the computer screen. That boy was so adorable.
And he called me his favourite girl.
“Are you nearly ready, love?”
“Just about!” I called back in response to Lou’s query, rushing around my room looking for my other earring.
“Sara, we’re gonna wait for you in the car, okay? Please hurry,” Harry urged.
“Sorry, I’ll be right there!” I replied.
Finally I found the other earring and, after one last quick check, decided I was as ready as ever to face the masses. Grabbing my small clutch from the bed I hurried out, nearly dying of fright when I saw Niall standing in the living room as I’d been expecting everyone to be outside.
“Jesus Niall!” I exclaimed. “Why aren’t you in the car?”
He just looked at me with a strange expression on his face, hands shoved deep in his suit pockets. He looked so good it was surreal.
“…What?” I asked, looking down at myself, then back up at him. “What is it? Am I wearing the wrong thing for a concert? I don’t really know what’s usually worn…”
There was another second of silence.
He shook his head a little and his face cleared.
“No, it’s fine,” he said in an odd tone. “Come on, let’s join the others in the car before they get restless.”
I’d been so overwhelmed – the people, the paparazzi, the press, they were just everywhere at once. And the noise; the screaming was deafening. I was sure the boys must have gotten some kind of hearing damage from being surrounded by that level of noise so frequently.
Then I’d had an exciting hour with the boys backstage – it was so strange seeing them so nervous and yet so fired up. They each gave me a long, tight hug before they disappeared onto the brilliantly lit stage and I watched them almost unblinkingly from behind the scenes, afraid to miss a single second.
After that was the tremendous screaming and the boys positively beaming, rushing off stage pumping with adrenaline.
“You were amazing!” I cried over the nose, laughing as I was gathered up into a tight group hug. Their energy was electrifying and contagious.
“Right you lot!” One of the ladies with the headpieces had made her way over to us, smiling at our antics fondly. “Sorry to cut the party short but you’ve got fifteen minutes to grab a drink and wind down before you’re expected outside for more signings. You’ll probably just leave straight from there so you might as well get ready to go. Oh, and great performance guys. You’re always good but tonight was something else entirely.”
I felt so proud and as we all headed for the dressing rooms I grabbed Niall’s hand without thinking.
“You really were great, you know,” I told him.
He’d been looking down at me in surprise but his features softened and he smiled.
“Well, you make a fantastic good luck charm. And you’re a pretty good one-woman backstage cheer squad. Not quite the same as the cheerleading you’ve done in the past, but I think you pulled it off.”
“You think?” I asked teasingly. “Horan, I was what made you fantastic. You’d all be mediocre without your ‘favourite girl’s amazing skills of encouragement and support.”
“Could your head get any bigger?” He asked, laughing as he ruffled my hair playfully. I joined in with the laughter – Niall’s laughter was always ridiculously infectious – and batted his hands away gently. After a few more seconds of mussing it up, he resigned and, putting his hands up in a sign of peace, began to fix what he’d messed up.
My laughter was still fading when he reached deep into the pocket of his suit pants and pulled out a little black box.
“What’s that?” I asked immediately.
“Just a little something I thought would look good on you,” he answered vaguely. “Close your eyes.”
“Is that an order, Mr. Horan?”
“Just do it before I make you do it, Sara,” he was still joking but there was more of a serious edge to his tone and so I did as I was told.
There was the snap of the box opening. Something rustling. The cold touch of metal against my skin, mixed with the warmth of Niall’s fingertips as he gently fixed a clasp at the back of my neck.
“There. You can open your eyes now. And I was right about it looking good on you.”
Immediately I looked down; resting in the hollow at the base of my throat was a small, intricate three-leaf clover made of thin silver. It was very similar, in fact, to a less expensive-looking necklace he wore himself with the same sort of pendant – the three-leaf clover to show off his Irish pride.
“You’re my good luck charm,” he explained when I didn’t say anything. “But I though you deserved a good luck charm too.”
“I love it,” I said, beaming up at him before pulling him into a tight hug.
“Good. If you ever take it off or lose it, I’m going to consider it a great personal insult. And I probably won’t talk to you for a week.”
I just laughed. “I’m never going to take it off. Ever.”
“Here’s to a whole year of not completely destroying our apartments!”
Lou raised his glass high and the rest of us did the same. As the evening sky turned a dusty orange over the adjoining courtyard between our apartments, the six of us sat at a small round table overflowing with food, celebrating our one-year ‘moving in’ anniversary. The dress was semi-formal and it was probably a little extravagant for something so insignificant but I was having a great time.
Not to mention that my favourite blond-haired, blue-eyed Irishman sitting next to me looked incredible with his light blue, button-down shirt tucked into his charcoal trousers as he laughed in the fading light.
“Cheers!” he cried in that beautiful accent, perfect smile plastered on his face.
The champagne glasses tinkled as they gently bumped into one another and we acknowledged Lou’s toast with a hearty drink each.
“As reluctant as I am to cover up how beautiful you look, I’m afraid you’re going to freeze to death.”
The other boys had all drunk far too much champagne – except Liam, of course, who was now shepherding them all back to bed as Niall headed toward me with his jacket in his hands. Trying to ignore the ‘beautiful’ comment so that I wouldn’t lose it completely, I gratefully slid into the warmth the fabric offered, the smell of his cologne embedded in the fibers.
“It’s one of my favourites so you’re going to have to give it back when you’re inside,” he warned me, smiling as we sat down on the edge of one of the courtyard’s raised flowerbed walls. Light shone from the apartment windows above where the four other boys were readying themselves for bed and I was thankful for the poor lighting because it hid the smile that came to my face as I felt the well-worn item of clothing’s shape, the shape of Niall.
“You have very broad shoulders,” I pointed out, clutching the just-too-big jacket to keep it from slipping off of my frame.
“No, you just have small shoulders,” he retaliated with a smile. “Ready to go home?”
I was reluctant to give back the jacket and I knew that going inside would mean having to do just that, so I hedged.
“Uh, no,” I said innocently. “I’m enjoying the night air. You can go home if you want to though, I’ll leave your precious jacket on your door handle.” I grinned, joking with him.
“But it’s not home if you’re not in it,” he said suddenly and I felt my ribcage tighten.
“Well then it’ll be hard for you when we eventually part ways,” I said, unable to bring my voice to much more than a whisper as I avoided actually considering having to live with someone else, somewhere else. Anyone and anywhere that wasn’t here, with Niall.
“Who says we ever have to part ways?” He said almost defensively. I looked up at his face to try and read his emotions but he was turned away from me, looking at something else as though he were trying to hide from me.
Without thinking, and without being able to stop myself, I suddenly blurted out the question I’d been keeping in the back of my mind for the entire conversation.
“Do you really think I look beautiful?” I asked quietly.
Niall sighed and stood, still looking away. But he didn’t walk away until he’d answered.
“You always look beautiful, Sara. Always.”
I clutched at the necklace around my neck as I watched him disappear into the apartment.
It was at least six thirty before he found me. And I’d been trying so hard to avoid everything and everyone, especially him.
“What are you doing out here?”
I quickly wiped at the damp tracks my tears had left, not wanting them to betray me. I’d just managed to make myself look normal when Niall sat down next to me on the edge of the garden bed, but I still kept my gaze downcast, fixed on my hands as they lay in my lap, legs crossed with my elbows resting on my knees.
“Nothing,” I replied, wincing as I heard the evidence of crying in the hoarseness of my voice.
“That didn’t sound like nothing,” he said gently, shuffling closer and leaning over to try and look up into my face.
I pulled the hoodie around me more tightly as I looked away, fiddling absently with the necklace.
“Is that my hoodie?”
“Yes,” I replied shortly, feeling silly for having kept it for a year as though if I had it, I’d always have Niall. I started to take it off but he reached out to stop me.
“Don’t. Keep it,” he told me. “It looks a million times better on you anyway.”
“Whatever,” I said and rolled my eyes. It was going to be a lot easier for me to be annoyed with him than to try and pretend nothing was wrong.
“Are you going to tell me what’s the matter or am I going to have to force it out of you?” He asked.
“Do you have time? There’s a lot of stuff for you to pack. Wouldn’t want to move out tomorrow and realise you’ve left something behind.”
That’s right; Niall Horan and the rest of One Direction were moving out. To London.
I’d hidden all day so I didn’t have to see how excited they were, so I didn’t have to see all of Niall’s things in our apartment packed in cardboard boxes in the living room.
He was silent for a second. “You know I don’t want to go, Sara. And unless you’re in the car with me and all my stuff tomorrow when we drive away then I already know I’m leaving something behind.”
“Then why are you going?”
He looked disappointed, like he didn’t want me to be like this and I was upsetting him.
“Because sometimes you have to leave even though you really want to stay,” he replied. Then he got up and walked inside.
It wasn’t until the sun had sunk below the horizon and the moon had taken its place that I headed back inside. I purposefully avoided looking at the boxes, instead keeping my eyes locked on the fridge.
“I knew you’d come here sooner or later.”
I froze. I’d been hoping I’d be able to come in, stuff myself and then get out again without running into him, but he was waiting for me.
“Damnit,” I cursed, backing away and closing the fridge door in frustration.
“You and I are just too alike, Sara,” he pointed out, sliding from the darkened corner of the bench top and landing on the floor with a soft thud.
“What is it, Niall. What do you want me to do? What do you want me to say?”
“Nothing,” he said, moving over to stand in front of me. “I just want to ask you a question, that’s all.”
I was a little confused but too angry with my own emotions to let anything but frustration show.
He took another step forward until I was unable to move back any further, the cold edge of the bench top behind me softened by his hoodie as it pressed into my back.
“Move in with me.”
I blinked once. Then a second time.
“That wasn’t a question,” I blurted out.
Niall rolled his perfect blue eyes. Mere centimeters away from my own, I could see every little detail of their icy blue depths in a way that I’d never seen them before.
“Are you really going to nitpick, Sara? I just want you to move in with me, okay? I can’t call somewhere home without you in it. I’ll drag you to London if I have to.” He ran his finger over the clover pendant around my neck. “I need my lucky charm.”
I still was having trouble wrapping my mind around the idea of moving. And to London, with One Direction, no less.
“I… but I mean… I can’t move to London!” I stammered, trying to look everywhere but his eyes in order to maintain brain function.
He grinned cheekily and I melted.
“Dragging you to London it is, then!” He grabbed both of my wrists and I immediately tried to pull them away. However my struggling was cut short as Niall quickly drew my hands behind his back, pulling us tightly together.
“Try and tell me you don’t want to come with me,” he challenged me softly, that cheeky glint still in his eyes.
I was cut off by his lips pressed to mine – softly at first, but increasing in pace as he released my hands so he could wrap his arms around my waist and lift me onto the kitchen bench.
Finally he pulled back and the only reason I was glad about it was because I needed to breathe. My head was tilted forward and I looked down at him as our foreheads rested against each other, the heavy inhale and exhale as we struggled to get air back into our starving lungs the only noises in the apartment.
“I can’t wait to move to London with you,” I finally whispered and laughed at his expression. “What, you really thought I would say no?”
“Well, I take the kiss back then,” he said softly in return.
I grinned. “Well, I’ll just have to get another one.”
He grinned as well and our second kiss was going well until it was interrupted by the door swinging open loudly. We pulled apart just in time to see the boys’ reactions and we both absolutely lost it.
“Boys,” Niall said breathlessly, “I’ve got some good news… I’ve found our sixth roommate!”
“What?!” They all yelled in unison.
“You didn’t think you’d get rid of me that easily, did you?” I asked in fake shock.
The five boys emitted a chorus of cheers before they tackled me to the ground.
Later that night, Niall would tweet;
‘Srry ladies, this Irishman’s off the market!! Already was bt now its official!! Best night of my life!!!’
Life was absolutely perfect.