Feels Like Forever


Paul sets Emilie’s sleeping body on the bed, and Niall thanks him and watches him leave. He’d been terrified when she started swaying so dangerously on her feet, but Paul had been there in the blink of an eye, catching her before she hit the floor and carrying her up the stairs. He sits on the edge of the bed, pushes her hair from her face.

Long lashes fan out against the dark circles under her eyes, and Niall wonders how much sleep she got before starting the drive. She made jokes about being tired with each update she sent, but she hadn’t let on that it was this bad. A timid knock sounds at the door. He looks away from Emilie to see her friend there. Monica smiles slightly.

“Hey, how is she?”

“She’s asleep.” He glances back at his girlfriend. “I don’t think she’ll wake any time soon.”

“She was really excited to see you, that’s the only reason she didn’t stop and get a room for the night.”

“I didn’t want her to put herself at risk like that.”

Monica snorts, scrubbing at her dark eyes with a hand that trembles - whether it’s from her own fatigue or what, Niall isn’t sure. “She’s stubborn, what can I say. It’s a wonder you two get along.”

Niall huffs out a laugh, shaking his head. She isn’t wrong - he has his moments of pure stubbornness, and it has been a problem a few times. Hell, it’s caused the end of a relationship or two. He shifts to run his fingers through Emilie’s hair, his thumb tracing the arch of her eyebrow with a feather-light touch. Her nose scrunches just slightly, then she pushes further into the contact, sighs heavily as the rest of the tension leaves her body. Monica coughs quietly from the doorway, startling Niall; he’d forgotten she was there.

“Okay, I’m gonna be honest. I know I told you that she’s a wonderful person and you’d regret ever hurting her, but… she really is amazing. She’s got her flaws, sure. She can be bullheaded, temperamental, she can lash out when she’s been hurt, and fuck, her pride can get her in a lot of trouble. But she’s also the most wonderfully kind, caring, loyal person I have ever met.” She gestures to the bed, and Niall nods numbly; she sits on the end and pins him a searching look. “She won’t admit it, not quite fully, but she gave you her heart. The minute you met Ryder, it was only a matter of time before her brain caught up with her heart, and she’s given it to you on a silver fucking platter.

“I don’t want her to get hurt. I don’t want you to get hurt. I actually kinda like you, and it isn’t because you bought a plane ticket for me to get back home. You make her happy, and she deserves that. You deserve to be happy, too. I’m not sure what my point is, I’m too tired to think straight, but I think it’s that I will kill for this girl and that little boy who’s currently downstairs wrapping your friends around his tiny little finger. Please don’t hurt them.”

“I won’t,” he promises, and the honesty in the conversation would be terrifying if he didn’t feel as strongly for Emilie as he does.

“Good. You’d be dumb to let this one go. Like, dumb beyond words.”

“Definitely not planning on it.” He hesitates, stares at the heaviness, the swath of bone-deep weariness that covers Monica’s face. “Do you wanna nap?”

“Oh, god, can I? Wait, what about Ry?”

“I’ll take care of him. Go ahead, you can sleep in here. I’ll make sure you two aren’t bothered.”

“Have I mentioned that I kinda like you?” she mumbles as she stretches out next to her best friend.

Niall chuckles softly and crosses the room, pulling the door closed behind him. The amusement melts away within an instant. He hates that Emilie pushed herself too far just to get here. He’s been looking forward to this day since before she even said yes to moving in, but it isn’t worth her health, her life. He blows out a breath that is far too tremulous then makes his way down the stairs.

Ryder turns wheres he’s sat on Mully’s knees, shrieking happily when he sees Niall, and Niall knows it’s too late - no matter what doubts he might have had, he’s fallen too far to ever turn back now. He scoops the child up into his arms and buried his face in Ryder’s soft hair. Ryder snuggles closer; his animated chatter slows, and Niall feels a jagged edge in his soul smooth out and fit perfectly into place.


Emilie groans low in her throat and rolls onto her belly, tugging the pillow over her face to block out the bright sunshine that’s woken her. Her body aches, muscles tight with tension, and there’s a pounding in her skull that only increases the longer she’s conscious. She tries her damnedest to fall back asleep, but the cramping in her belly tells her she needs to use the toilet and eat immediately. With a sigh, she pushes the pillow away, opens her eyes.

Monica is sat up, leaning against the headboard while she messes about on her phone, and she grins when she sees her friend awake. “Morning, Sleeping Beauty. You had us worried.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Emilie grumbles as she pushes herself to sit up, her head swimming with the movement.

“You damn near passed out and collapsed after we got here. That big hunky dude had to carry you to bed. And you slept hard.”

“What time is it?”

“It’s a little after one.”

“Shit. Ry -“

“Is being wonderfully taken care of by your fantastic boyfriend.” Monica squeezes her hand then clambers off the bed. “C’mon before everyone thinks you’ve turned into a Disney princess and only true love’s kiss can revive you.”

“You’re weird.”

Emilie does as she’s told, though. Five hours of sleep isn’t enough, her body is screaming that, but she can’t exactly sleep the day away. So she stops by the bathroom to use the toilet and run wet fingers through her hair, forcing it into some semblance of presentable. She’s just glad she brushed her teeth in the station lavatory during the last stop for petrol.

Monica leads her downstairs and through the house; Emilie would be surprised that her best friend knows where she’d going, except that Monica is far too chipper for having just woken up, which means she’s had the chance to explore a bit.

Emilie’s favourite people come into view as the pair steps out onto the patio; Paul and Mully stop their conversation long enough to greet her and give her warm hugs. She murmurs an apology to Paul, but he brushes it off, tells her it wasn’t a problem, he’s just thankful she’s safe. John, Melody, and Louis wave from where they sit on the steps leading to the yard. She waves idly back, distracted by the sight of Niall jogging around with two little kids chasing after him.

Ryder has been changed from his Paw Patrol footie pyjamas into a pair of sweats and a T-shirt, and Emilie’s heart clenches at his delighted laughter. He sounds so happy. Freddie sees her first, and his trajectory changes, no longer following Niall but aimed directly toward her. She steps down off the step, the grass warm and prickly under her feet, and catches him as he launches himself at her.

“Hey, there. You having fun?”


He starts babbling about playing with his Uncle Niall, and Emilie listens as much as she can. It isn’t long before she’s joined by Ryder. She’s shocked when he patiently waits for his turn to be held, so she releases Freddie and gathers up her godson.

Niall presses a kiss to her cheek on his way past, and she pouts that that’s all she gets. She sets Ryder down with a suggestion that he and Freddie play together for a few minutes while she talks to the grown-ups.

He frowns but is persuaded by the Mickey Mouse ball in Freddie’s hands to toddle after the other child. Louis calls out a warning for the kids to stay near the patio, and Emilie makes her way to the table. Niall holds out his arm as she nears, tugging her into his side the second he’s able.

As she sits there in the sunshine, surrounded by her friends - both old and new- she finds herself being lulled into peace by the conversations, and she embraces the feeling of being home.