It's fascinating, he thinks, how someone could be so eager to learn about his roots and culture when all this time he's been trying to keep it as far away from plain sight as possible. Yet here was Liam, all dressed up in a poppy red salwar kameez that baba insisted Liam put on, and he looks absolutely beautiful.
It's Liam's first time celebrating Eid with them and Zayn will admit, he was a little concerned at first. He knew how overwhelming it could be, hoards of family members rushing in and out of his parent's house, booming laughter and high pitched chatter accompanying strong smells of cloves and cardamom wafting out from their kitchen. It's a lot to take in for someone who has never experienced Eid celebrations, let alone with the Malik clan.
But half the day has gone and he's yet to run off. Zayn can't help the tight feeling in his chest as he watches Liam deep in conversation with his aunt, attempting to learn how to make her famous roghan josh or how Liam blushes, flushing pink when his cousins tease them about getting married.
(Zayn glares at them of course, but it's more out of obligation than anything else. They've only been together a few months but there's something about Liam that makes Zayn think about settling down.
It's still too early for that though so Zayn holds his tongue instead.)
He's amazed by how seamlessly Liam is fitting in with his family and how accepting they seem to be of him when all this while Zayn's been dreading letting these two parts of himself meet.
He spots Liam across their living room, appearing to be listening intently to his daada talk about life back in Pakistan and their move to Bradford, and after watching them for a few moments, he realizes that Liam's actually paying attention. His head is tilted slightly and he's nodding in all the right places, laughing at all of his daada's jokes and there's a slight dip in between his eyebrows that tells Zayn he's concentrating.
Liam's eyes flicker up and they meet his. Liam gives him a small smile, lips quirking at the sides a little bit but his eyes, oh his eyes. They're shining, sparkling with joy and excitement of new found knowledge about Zayn's history and Zayn is hit with an overwhelming rush of what? Fondness? Affection?
And then a word floats into his thoughts and he stills, caught off guard by what his brain is telling him.
Could it be? Could that really be what it was?
Was he, in love?
A delighted shriek jolts him out of his thoughts. Some of his relatives have started dancing around the living room without any music on. The older folks are clapping, providing some sort of beat as the younger generation spin and twirl, their vibrant attire blending into a kaleidoscope of colors. And right in the center of them all, is Liam, doing his best to keep up with one of Zayn's little cousins whose showing him the 'right' way of moving his hands and hips. If he's being honest, Liam isn't doing a very good job but, he's trying, clapping along and laughing and -
He's actually enjoying himself.
"Looks like you had nothing to worry about after all hmm?"
He turns, smiling when he sees the fond on his mum's face. He puts an arm around her and presses a kiss to her forehead, before turning his attention back to Liam, the two of them watching with matching amused looks from the corridor of the kitchen.
No, Zayn had nothing to worry about at all.