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A Lot Like Christmas

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In the six and a half years that Harry has known Niall he’s never seen the older boy look as frantic as he does the day of December first. It’s a bit amusing to him to see Niall freaking out so much over something so small but well he kind of gets it. They’ve lived together for just shy of six months now and when they offered to have Christmas at theirs three months ago the task hadn’t really seemed that daunting. Now that December has hit though it seems that Christmas is right around the corner and the prospect has gotten Niall a bit worked up.

“Babe calm down, we have twenty-four days to get things done,” he says walking over to where his boyfriend has been pacing the floor mumbling under his breath for the past twenty minutes or so since they finished getting the Christmas decoration boxes down from the attic.

“Twenty-three days, remember everyone’s coming for Christmas Eve and Louis’ birthday and we have a million things to get done before they do.”

“Look what are you so stressed about? It’s just our families,” Harry says rubbing his hand up and down Niall’s arms the way that calms the other boy down.

“Plus Liam’s and Louis’ families,” Niall ticks off on his fingers which yeah it’s a lot of people. In the past they’ve all gotten together to exchange gifts before scattering to their respective families. This year is different though because for the first time in six years they didn’t live in each other’s back pockets living out of suitcases and hotel rooms. While they’ve all met up and even took a lads holiday back in September it has been a bit odd for the four of them to have spent so much time apart. So they somehow all came up with the idea while on said lads holiday to have a big One Direction Christmas getting all of their families together to celebrate.

“Exactly Ni it’s our families, we don’t have to impress anybody by looking like our place was professionally decorated or anything. So let’s calm down and have fun with it right now okay?” Harry states bending down slightly to gain eye contact with the older boy waiting until the slightly crazed look leaves Niall’s eyes as he sighs and nods. Smiling Harry leans in and kisses Niall quickly before pulling away, “that’s the spirit! Now let’s get to decorating!” he cheers as Niall chuckles.

It takes them a good hour to get all their decorations out of the boxes they’ve been in and then they spend another hour arguing over what will and won’t be used. In the end Harry agrees that they probably don’t need all the tinsel that he’s accumulated over the years and, Niall agrees that they only need the one drunken Santa statue and not the seven or so that Niall has gotten as gag gifts. After they’ve unpacked everything Harry steers Niall away from the chaos when it looks like the older boy is getting overwhelmed again and takes him to Nando’s to get his mind off of everything.

“Sorry if I’ve been off today Haz,” Niall apologizes as they eat their food.

“It’s okay babe, I know the holidays are stressful I just don’t want you to put too much pressure on yourself.”

“I don’t know why I’m freaking out so much I know they won’t care what our house looks like but I just want everyone to enjoy themselves.”

“And they will, it’s going to be fun getting everyone together again it’s been a long time since all of our families were in the same place for something other than us performing.”

“I can’t even remember the last time that everyone was together, the movie premiere? Like for This is Us? Was that it?”

“I think so, god can’t believe it’s really been that long,” Harry says thinking back on how just three years passing feelings like a lifetime has passed.

“A lot has changed since then,” Niall says flicking his eyes down to his food but not before Harry can catch the sadness lurking in the blue orbs. Harry feels his own heart pang knowing what Niall’s referring too, almost two years later Zayn leaving still causes him to get a bit sad. He understands why Zayn left the band, they all do at this point, what none of them understand is why Zayn still distances himself from them personally. Sighing he shakes his head a little and decides to focus on the happy instead of the sad.

“Mostly good things, finally got the courage to kiss you didn’t I?” Harry asks reaching across the small table to take Niall’s hand in his. Niall squeezed back and looked up again a happy twinkle in his eyes.

“I don’t know think I was the one that kissed you first,” Niall quipped.

“Either way now I get to call you my boyfriend, so it’s a win-win situation for me,” Harry replies smiling at the Irish boy.

“So should we head home and start decorating then?” Niall asks a few minutes later once they’ve finished their food and they’ve headed out into the cold.

“We can walk around for a bit if you’d like, decorations aren’t going anywhere, there’s a couple of shops I wanted to step into down this way.”

“Sounds good to me.”

They spend the next couple of hours wandering in and out of the shops lining both sides of the road. Not many people bother them, and the ones that do are polite and sweet about it; one even comments that she’s happy that they look healthy and rested. The final store they stop into is a little Antique shop that they’ve gone into a few times. Niall peels off from him when they do get in heading towards the back where Harry knows there’s a lot of interesting football and sports knick-knacks that Niall loves searching through whenever they come in.

Harry loves Antique shops no matter how hipster that makes him just for the fact that you can find such interesting items if you look hard enough. This one always has a few bins full of old records and Harry digs through to see if there’s anything worthwhile. He ends up finding a couple for Nick which not really for the music aspect but for the covers because he knows Nick will get a laugh from the cover art more than anything. Plus knowing Nick he’ll listen to the music and find a hidden gem that he’ll drive everyone nuts with for days playing it over and over. With his records in hand he meanders through the shelves finding a broach for Gemma in the jewelry cases and then goes off to find Niall.

“Find anything interesting?” he asks when he finds the Irish lad.

“A neat vintage Donny Rovers sign I can give to Tommo, don’t find them in London usually but hey I’ll take it,” Niall informs him showing him the sign in question.

“Oh nice, you ready to head home then?”

“Yeah sounds good,” Niall answers following behind him as they pay for their things and leave the shop to head home.

“Alright time to get to decorating,” Harry says as they pass the rest of the afternoon and evening decorating the whole house. When all’s said and done the two of them are exhausted but the house is decorated from top to bottom so it was worth it.

“Next year let’s not do it all in one day,” Niall states as he flops down on the couch where Harry himself had laid down ten minutes prior.

“Hey I wasn’t the one insisting we get this done today mister that was all on you, plus we still need to get a tree,” Harry reminds the other boy as Niall groans.

“I almost forgot about that, let’s at least wait a few days before we go out everyone’s going to be trying to find one right now don’t feel like spending forever getting a tree.”

“Fine by me, I’m sure it won’t be too hard to find one anyways.”

“You say that now just wait until we’re yelling at each other about which one we want to get and people are stopping and staring at us because we look like crazies,” Niall huffs.

“I think you’ve been watching too many Christmas movies if we can’t agree on a tree we can just get both, it’s not like we couldn’t find a second place to put one anyways.”

“I know we have more money than we know what to do with but I really don’t think we need two Christmas trees Harry.”
“Just a suggestion, now how about I go make us some of my famous hot chocolate and we watch Elf?”

“Sounds perfect babe,” Niall says giving him a quick kiss as he gets up and wanders into the kitchen.

Two days later they bundle themselves up for the London winds and head out to get a Christmas tree. Neither of them is hurting for ornaments just from all the ones they’ve been sent or picked up themselves over the years so really all they need is a tree. Harry can’t remember which one of the five of them had started the tradition but at some point they’d trade off buying random funny Christmas ornaments wherever they were. They’d even done it on their time off, Liam had brought them all different Disney ornaments the previous year. Louis had sent a parcel back in May from when he was visiting Hawaii with Briana and little Jack to see her family with ornaments as well.

“Oh look Harry we should get some mulled wine, they’re selling it over there,” Niall says when they’ve reached the place selling Christmas trees.

“A nice little buzz while shopping for trees how could I say no to that,” he states with a smile squeezing Niall’s hand where it’s in his own and walking over to the small booth. Five minutes later with mugs of warm spiced wine in hand they find themselves walking up and down the aisles of trees.

Neither of them are really sure what all the names mean and why one should be better than the other but they nod and act like they do when a sales associate approaches them to give them more information. The man leaves them alone after they both thank him for his help and he’s spotted his latest victim. Harry doesn’t like to be rude and he knows his stories are some of the worst but at the same time he doesn’t need to listen to fifteen minutes about all the different types of Christmas trees there are. He ends up getting distracted by a series of texts from Gemma about a date that she’s on and ends up bumping into Niall’s back when the other boys stops.

“Heyyyy,” he whines.

“That’s the one,” Niall whispers staring at a tree that’s in front of them and well Harry completely agrees. He never really understood what people meant when they said they’d know the tree when they saw it but this really is the one for them. It’s on the larger side width wise but is perfect height wise, they might need help getting it into the house but Harry thinks they’ll be able to do it by themselves.

After that it doesn’t take too long for them to get the tree put into their car with the help of an associate and head home. Getting it out of the car and into the house though is a bit of a disaster at first before they both decide they might need a little bit of help. They call a couple of people but it’s not until they call Liam that they get someone to come and help out.

“Alright lads? Let’s get a tree inside,” Liam says upon arrival and with the three of them it’s much easier and very much not the disaster that it was turning out to be before.

“Thanks Payno, I think if you hadn’t helped Harry might’ve lost an eye,” Niall says once they’ve got the tree in a stand and in the corner of the living room.

“No problem, this place looks nice! Did you guys do it all on your own?”

“Yup, but not before this one year had a bit of a freak out over the fact that we’re entertaining all four of our families,” Harry says playfully elbowing Niall in the side.

“The place looks really good Ni don’t be worried you know our families are all just excited to see each other again, hell me mum’s been on the phone with your mum’s and Jay for weeks trying to plan out who is going to bring and cook what for Christmas dinner,” Liam informs them.

“I know that now, it’s just overwhelming.”

“Well lucky you you’ve got Haz here to take your mind off of things, he was always good at that.”

“You bet I am,” Harry jokes with a wag of his eyebrows as Niall laughs beside him and Liam fake gags at his implications.

“I still don’t need to know about what you two get up to in the bedroom, I was traumatized enough walking in on you two when we were on holiday,” Liam tells them.

“Hey that’s why you should always knock first Payno.”

From there the three of them spend the rest of the day joking and watching old Christmas specials that they find on the telly. As they walk Liam out to his car Harry can’t help but think that this past year has been one of the best for the four of them friendship wise. They always said they were friends first and a band second even in the early days and now that instead of knowing he would be seeing Liam and Louis every day for work they all made the effort to pick up the phone. It’s made them closer having time apart from each other which might be a little ironic but they’ve always kept in contact. Harry has a whole folder on his phone dedicated to pictures of baby Jack that Louis’ texted throughout the year and another one of Watson because Liam has become one of those dog parents like Nick who takes a million and one pictures of their pet.

“You’re quiet,” Niall states when they’ve gotten back into the house and settled in on the couch with a couple of mugs of hot chocolate.

“Just thinking, nothing bad,” Harry answers tipping his head so he can rest in on Niall’s shoulder as he takes another sip of hot chocolate.

“What about then?”

“Just this year, how close we’ve all stayed and how good it’s been to get a bit of time away from each other too. We’ve had a good relaxing year.”

“We have, first one in a long time, it’s what we needed and I think everything that’s happened this year has shown us that.”            

They’re quiet after that watching the telly and drinking their hot chocolate before deciding to make and early night of it and go to bed. The next day Harry wakes up bright and early and goes about making breakfast while Niall sleeps. The older boy joins him just as he’s plating their breakfasts and kisses him in thanks as they settle at the kitchen island to eat. After that they spend a lazy morning wrapping up presents together before finally showering and eating lunch.

“Do you have the lights for the Christmas tree in that box?” Niall asks him as they start getting the Christmas tree decorations together.

“Yeah, are we using the Christmas beads on the tree too or not?” Harry replies holding up a couple of strands of wooden beads that he knows Niall’s mother passed down to him a couple of years ago.

“If you don’t mind yeah.”

“Not at all, I’ll finish unpacking this box and then we can get the lights and beads on.”

“Sounds good.”

Harry gets the rest of the beads out of the box and starts on the lights only to realize that well things are in a bit of a tangle. He knows that Niall must’ve not been the one to put the lights away because if he did they’d be nice and neat but instead they’re a mess of tangled wire.

“Babe.”

“What?” Harry just holds the ball of lights up in reply as Niall groans and comes over to help.

“I’m guessing Willie put these away last year,” Harry grunts as he gets a particularly difficult knot untangled.

“Him or his girlfriend at the time, the girl he dated for a bit before he met Brooke, it was probably the girlfriend to be honest Willie would’ve never left them like this,” Niall answers swearing just after as he gets his lights a little bit more tangled.

“Well we’ll get this all undone soon enough.”

“Yeah sometime next year, we should just go out and buy more lights who even knows if these still work after being yanked and twisted like this.”

“Untwisting all the lights is half and fun and frustration of decorating a Christmas tree Niall don’t you know that?”

“Maybe in your book it is,” Niall grumbles.

Sighing Harry crawls over to Niall and bats the other boy’s hands away from the wires and kisses him. Niall’s a bit resistant at first but soon enough he’s kissing Harry back just like he wanted. They lose themselves in snogging for a while but don’t go any further which Harry thinks is just as nice as the blowjobs they shared in the shower an hour earlier. Being with Niall has made him appreciate just snogging someone to snog in a way that he’d forgotten he enjoyed so much when he was younger. It was especially nice because it reminded Harry of the early days in their relationship. They had taken their time jumping into the sexual side of their relationship seeing as Harry was the first man that Niall had ever been with intimately. It had been nice the first couple of months, like they were teenagers sneaking around their parents instead of slightly older than teenager’s adults that had no parents to sneak around since they both lived on their own.

“Now you relaxed enough to finish this or should I get this done on my own and have you go bake Christmas cookies or something?” Harry asks when he’s pulled away.

“I’m good, knowing you I’d come back to find that you got yourself tangled up in the lights trying to free yourself,” Niall answers giving him one more kiss before Harry crawls off of his lap and back to his string of lights.

When they finally finish untangling the lights it’s been almost three hours since they started but Harry’s proud of them for finishing. Then they have the task of winding the lights around the tree which well, Harry’s never actually done before in his life. Thankfully Niall has and he just instructs Harry to hold the string and give him the slack as he winds each strand around and around. Next come the Christmas beads that they both hang amongst the branches only getting tangled together once.

“Alright time for a break I’d say,” Niall states hands on his hips as they stare at what they’ve got done of the tree so far.

“We need to just power on through get the ornaments up and then take a break, it won’t take long to hang everything,” Harry replies winding his arms around Niall’s waist from behind and leaning his chin on Niall’s shoulder.

“You do have a point but I feel like I need to have a snack after untangling all of those lights and putting them on the tree so let’s take five minutes and come back to this okay?”

“Alright,” Harry unwinds his arms from around Niall and follows him into the kitchen. Harry takes out some of his cubed fruit and a couple of Christmas cookies while Niall goes for his usual crisps. They’re about to head back into the living room to finish the tree when Niall’s phone rings and its Louis.

“Hey Tommo,” Niall answers putting it on speakerphone.

“Hey Neil what you up too today?”

“Haz and I are just about to finish decorating our tree you’re on speakerphone.”

“Ah nice hey Hazza you knock down the tree yet?”

“That was one time Louis,” Harry says pouting because he loves Louis but that incident happened five years ago when he was drunk and it was only a small tree at some house party they went too around the holidays so he wished Louis would let it go.

“Now don’t pout Harold, just wanted to call and make sure we were all still on for Christmas this year.”

“Course we are Lou why wouldn’t we be?” Niall asks.

“Me mum was asking so figured I’d call Jack and I are visiting her for a few days before Bri flies in,” Louis informs them.

“Is it just Briana coming over? I thought her mum and step dad wanted to come too,” Harry questions because the last he heard that was the plan.

“Yeah been a change of plans, I guess they won some big Christmas cruise I’m not really sure but I honestly don’t care,” Louis states a bit of annoyance sliding into his tone which Harry understands completely.

While Louis and Briana get along nicely for two co-parents who aren’t together her family has always been a bit pissy with Louis. It all boils down to the fact that they wanted Louis to step up and marry Briana but that wasn’t something Louis was going to do. There had been a few awful months just before and right after Jack was born that Briana’s mum even kept trying to convince her daughter to take legal action and refuse Louis his rights. Harry doesn’t know all the details and neither does Niall as far as he knows but somehow it got swept under the rug and Louis and Briana sorted visitation out themselves with private lawyers without her mother’s input.

“Well sounds good Tommo, we’re excited to celebrate the little man’s first Christmas with ya.”

“Yeah it’ll be a good one, well anyways just wanted to check up on you lads, gotta go get Jack up from his nap,” Louis says hanging up the phone.

“Well there’s one thing we don’t have to worry about anymore,” Harry says referring to Briana’s parents.

“Thank fuck for that, wasn’t looking forward to those two being in our house at all.”

“Same, now let’s go finishing trimming the tree my lovely boyfriend!” Harry says tugging Niall along behind him and into the living room.

“Alright glass ones go at the top and we’ll work our way down from there,” Niall says getting on the step stool they’ve pulled out as Harry starts handing him ornaments.

“Aww I remember this one, you gave it to me for Valentine’s day last year,” Harry says pulling out a glass ornament shaped like a heart filled with swirls of pink, white, and red, “honestly I don’t know how I didn’t realize you had feelings for me.”

“Because you’re an idiot, but don’t worry I forgive you because you got there eventually.”

“Yeah like six months later.”

“Don’t beat yourself up about it, just hand me more ornaments you big lug.”

“Alright alright,”

Once they get the glass ones over with Niall climbs down and they start digging through the boxes of ornaments together. One by one they start hanging memories of the past six years up on the branches. Niall almost dies of laughter when he finds a small Louis ornament of the oldest boy wearing his classic red pants, striped shirt, and braces.

“God Tommo used to dress a bit like a twat didn’t he,” Niall says hanging it up.

“I liked his style back then! Even though he would never be caught dead in that shit now.”

“Should make him try some of it on see if it still fits, I’m sure he still has a pair of red pants somewhere.”

“Maybe it would be pretty funny to see him in the old getup,” Harry answers as they get back to sorting through the ornaments.

It doesn’t take long for them to find another ornament to sit and talk about this time one that Harry had gotten from Zayn at some point during the Take Me Home tour. It was a cheap one with the Pink Floyd symbol on it that they both had had tattooed on themselves but Harry has always loved it. The memories of Zayn don’t hurt much, if at all, anymore but they both take a couple of minutes to try and see if they can find the small handful of ornaments Zayn had gifted to them both over the years.

“Do you think he kept them?” Niall asks.

“Don’t know, his family doesn’t celebrate Christmas as much as the rest of us do but who knows I’d hope so, these have some great memories attached to them.”

“Yeah they do, remind me of so much we’ve done and seen these past five years,” Niall says picking up a golfing Santa Clause that Harry remembers Zayn giving Niall just a few days before he’d gone.

“Lots of happy memories that’s for sure, but don’t worry babe we’re just getting started you know that,” Harry says kissing Niall on the cheek and collecting as many ornaments as he can to hang them up. It takes them another twenty minutes to get the whole tree decorated but when they’re done and the star they both picked out a couple of weeks before is on top they stand back to admire their hard work.

“We did good,” whispers Niall as the lights twinkle and the star shines brightly at the top.

“Yeah we did,” Harry agrees kissing Niall’s lips softly before pulling away.

“Love ya Haz, know I don’t say it as much but I really do.”

“You show me every day without words, I’m never worried but I love you as well,” Harry replies stepping to stand behind Niall as they stand there for the next few minutes in silence gazing at their tree and being happy with one another.