‹ Prequel: Black and White

To the End

twenty

i wasn't even going to update today - or, really, at all this week. i lost my grampa on saturday night, so i'm still reeling from that. that being said, i can't guarantee any semblance of a strict update schedule atm. i'll try - gods, do i need the normalcy - but no promises.


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The clock ticks away another minute. I have less than two hours before the Promise on the Stars music video drops, and I’m beyond excited for it. It’s been a long time coming. I am also incredibly nervous. This video is different than any I’ve put out before. It isn’t a performance, it isn’t a four-minute movie. It doesn’t tell a story. There is no cohesive theme to it except for our love.

More than that, though, this is the first time that Niall and I will be so public with our marriage or the pregnancy. Beyond the occasional paparazzi photos and the tidbits we deign to share in interviews, we’ve kept our lives as private as possible. Even in the beginning stages of our relationship, we did everything we could to not give the entire world fodder for gossip. But now… Now I want people to see that what Niall and I have is just like any other relationship - we’re disgustingly sweet with each other, we are crazy for each other, our worlds revolve around each other.

Niall sprawls on the couch, his head on my lap, and grins up at me. “Watching the clock doesn’t make it go faster.”

“Shush, I’m not watching the clock.”

“How much longer?”

“One hour, forty-three minutes.” I flick his nose gently when he laughs. “Stop teasing me.”

He presses a kiss to my belly then sits up. I instinctively lean into him, and he chuckles quietly. “Everyone is on their way, your parents included. Ma and Dad said they would Skype once they watched the video.”

“Wait, what?”

“You... didn’t think they’d not watch it or tell you how they enjoyed it, did you?”

“It’s so late there, though.”

“They don’t care. Love, you’re family now, so of course they’re going to support you.”

“Think they’d mind Skyping while watching?”

Niall’s answering smile is enough to assure me that what I’m asking isn’t out of the realm of reasonable. He promises to text them and ask, and I pat his stomach before pushing to my feet. I can’t sit still any more. My legs might as well be bagged-up insects buzzing to get free, my heart thundering in my chest. The baby slowly stops moving as much the longer I pace; I rub my palm over my belly in circles and breathe as evenly as possible.

Ten minutes before the video is meant to go live, I’m surrounded by our friends and my parents, Niall’s parents on my laptop. Everyone chats over each other, but I sit back and enjoy the sounds of laughter. It is loud and chaotic, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It isn’t until Amber and Harry make their way through the living room, each carrying trays of champagne glasses, that we all start settling down.

“And here we go,” I announce as YouTube alerts me that the video has officially begun.

It’s better than I could have anticipated. My best friend’s magic with a camera is unparallelled. Watching what she has done fills me with far more awe than any professional team’s work, and I giggle when I catch her hiding her face. Natalie leans into my side, grinning brightly at me.

I stare around at my loved ones to watch their reactions; warm joy explodes in my chest at the way Maura’s face brightens, her eyes gleaming with tears at the clips of Niall and me laughing with each other, interspersed with photographs of my relationship with Niall.

The video comes to an end, but silence still reigns in the house. For a split second. Then family and friends are cheering. I get no warning before Natalie is throwing her arms around my shoulders, hugging me tightly. I’m pushed from person to person, laughing and crying as they congratulate me. I finally manage to sit back down on the couch to listen to Niall’s parents.

“It was lovely, pet. The song is beautiful, and I loved the video. It’s so cute.”

“Thanks, Maura. I’m... I’m really proud of it.”

Bobby smiles, nods enthusiastically. “You should be! We’re very proud of you, Erin.”

“Thank you!”

They end the video-chat after a few more minutes of praise, and I carefully close my laptop and turn to my mom. She sits next to me, an arm coming up to wrap around my shoulder, and Natalie presses a smacking kiss to my cheek before bounding away to steal her child back from Harry.

“Mom?”

“It was amazing, sweetheart. And... it made me realise that I was too hard on you about your marriage.” She sighs heavily and sips at her champagne. When she looks at me, her pale eyes glimmer in the lamp-light. “I can’t take back what I said, but I wish I could. I just, I want you to be happy, but the mom part of me wants to shield you from all danger. And I’m so sorry.”

I catch Niall’s eye from across the room; he tilts his head in question, but I don’t need him for this. This is something I have to do on my own.

“It’s - no, it’s not okay. What you said really fucking hurt. I had a feeling that you weren’t as happy about Niall and me getting married as I hoped you would be, but that didn’t give you the right to basically slam me for making a choice that made me happier than I ever could have dreamt of being. Niall is an amazing man that will make sure I spend the rest of my life as happy and safe and content as possible.”

She nods slowly, opening her mouth to say something. Unfortunately, whatever she’s about to say, I don’t get to hear. Someone has decided to start up their Spotify, and Bennie and the Jets blares through the room. My mom rolls her eyes with a laugh at Amber’s apologetic grin before the volume levels out.

After hugging me tightly, my mother moves away to get a chance to hold Levi. Niall takes her place, and I lean against him as we watch our friends sipping champagne and talking and enjoying time together. A warmth settles in my chest at the sight of everyone I love so relaxed.

Niall guides me to our bedroom after three more hours of chatting and singing along to whatever song Spotify chose - I hope someone recorded Natalie, Amber, and me doing our best to channel Freddie Mercury’s power-vocals in Bohemian Rhapsody. With the excitement of the day, along with the fact that I’m growing another human, I am beyond exhausted. I don’t bother changing into pyjamas, I just strip from my leggings and knitted sweater before climbing into bed. Niall wraps his arm over my waist, hand pressing securely against my belly, and kisses the top of my skull.

“Goodnight, petal.”

“Night, babe,” I sigh, eyes slipping closed, and I fall fast asleep.

____________


Snoring comes from behind me, soft and steady in the dark of the room, and I bite my lip when Niall mutters under his breath. I know it’s early, far earlier than I’m used to waking. After a night of peaceful sleep and no bad dreams, though, I am pretty sure I’ve had enough rest. I carefully push myself to sit up, turn to look at Niall over my shoulder. He sleeps on, so I lean against the headboard and reach for my phone.

I frown at the screen when I open Instagram to see hundreds of comments have been left. I haven’t posted anything on here in two weeks, not since I announced which song was going to be the first single. Niall scoots closer and exhales slowly, his hand coming to rest against the side of my thigh. Chuckling softly, I turn my attention back to the post.

It’s a good photo - in it, Niall and I are laughing, smiling at each other, as I stand in the circle of his arms. We look happy. Disgustingly, deliriously in love. Wrapped up in each other as if the world around us doesn’t exist. Which isn’t far from the truth. I still can’t wrap my mind around how wonderful my life is. I glance at Niall, run my fingers lightly through his hair as I read the caption that Amber put with the post.

It’s been a long long long time since I’ve loved one of my own songs as much as I love this one. It was so much fun to write, record, and make this video for (thanks to my absolute bestie for her hard work!!!). It feels like my entire life has lead up to this point. Every bad time I’ve had feels like forever ago. I’ll always have the scars to remind me, but when I think of where I am now in life - married to the most amazing man I have ever known, about to have our child, surrounded by the love of our families and friends, and making music that reflects that - I can’t deny how lucky and, quite frankly, privileged I am.

All of this is possible because you, my lovely fans. You supported Complete Irrationality when we were just some little-known band from SoCal. You supported ME when CI broke up after Jem. And I can never thank you enough for everything you’ve done for me, and I really really really hope you love this song and video as much as I do. (p.s., any rude comments will be deleted immediately and you will be blocked. Your negativity is NOT appreciated or welcome at all. Ever.)

To: Lambchop
Thank you for that post. Now stay out of my mind - it’s weird when you can say exactly what I’m thinking and feeling. Love you, boob!!!

Once the text has been delivered, I go back to the post and scroll through the comments. To my surprise, none of them are rude. In fact, they’re overwhelmingly sweet. Almost all of them revolve around noting my belly, how I’m “glowing”, and how sickeningly cute the picture is. There are a couple, however, that compliment how beautiful Niall and I are but point out the champagne flutes on the tables behind us, asking why there are so many.

I chew on the inside of my cheek as I exit out of the app and go to YouTube to check how the music video is doing. It’s doing very well - over four thousand views, and almost two thousand comments. I make a mental note to read them later. For now, I decide to thank everyone at once in a video for my Instagram story.

“Hey, everyone. Sorry it’s so dark. And sorry I’m talking so quietly. Hope you can hear me anyway. I want to say how thankful I am that my song and video has been so well-received. Seriously, I did not expect it. And thank you so much for your love and your concern regarding the champagne. Don’t worry, I only had water all night. The liquor went to those who can drink, I promise.”

“Who are you talking to?” Niall mumbles next to me, burying his face into his pillow.

“Instagram. Before you ask, it’s... five-oh-seven.”

“Too early. Tell them to bother you later, go back to sleep.”

“You go back to sleep. I’m showing appreciation.” I giggle when he huffs in irritation before turning over to face the other way. I roll my eyes and go back to what I was doing. “Anyway. As I was saying, thank you all so much. I love you, every single one of you, more than I can ever say. Now, baby and I need some food, so I’ll chat with you all later.”

“Do I have to get up?”

I finish posting the video then lean over as much as I can to brush a kiss to his shoulder. “No. I think I can feed myself.”

Niall is already back to sleep before I even get out of bed. Fluttering kicks up in my belly, the effects of a very active baby, and I let out a sigh when I realise I really have to pee.

“You don’t make life easy, you know this, right?” I mutter down to my abdomen as I make my way to the toilet.