Feels Like Forever




They sit there for a long few minutes, silent and holding onto each other for dear life. Niall lets out a slow breath and settles back into the cushions, and Emilie follows without hesitation. Her head drops to rest against his chest, and he absentmindedly runs his fingers along her arm, soft as a feather.

“I hate that I hurt you,” he murmurs into the quiet, and she sniffles and presses her face into his T-shirt.

“I hate it, too.”

“The only way I ever want to make you unhappy is by refusing to let you eat in the car.”

His words have their intended affect - Emilie giggles softly, sitting up, and pushes a lock of hair behind her ear. The haunted pain in her eyes has disappeared, replaced by a glimmer of hope. It’s weak, but it’s there. Niall blows out a breath as she links his fingers with his.

“Oh, babe, that’s not me being unhappy. That’s me being a whiny baby because I don’t wanna wait for food. There’s a difference.”

He shakes his head with a chuckle and gives her hand a gentle tug. She curls back into his side again, and Niall breathes in the scent of her shampoo. The minty-citrus aroma is so familiar, and he is sure he will never find another smell that he loves more. He closes his eyes and holds her ever more tightly.

He aches to take back all the pain and loneliness that she has endured over the last few months. He knows this isn’t going to be a quick fix, and he is still so angry that she never bothered to talk to him. But they are here now, both invested in making this work, and all he can do is make sure he never makes Emilie feel as hopeless as she has.

Her face turns toward his, lips parting as if to say something. Niall’s breath hitches in his throat at the sight. Even with lashes clumped together and bloodshot eyes, he’s hard-pressed to think of anyone he has ever thought more beautiful. He ducks his head, kisses her gently, and the jagged edges in his chest smooth out. This… this is coming home.

Heat blooms in his blood, electricity coursing through his veins, as her fingers wrap in the fabric of his shirt. Her nails scratch against his skin through the cotton, and his gut clenches with the contact. A small voice in his head questions whether this is a good idea - they were just separated, after all - but his body ignores the logical and reacts purely to the physical.

The kiss turns insistent, harder and yearning. Niall is intoxicated by the taste and feel of her, the way she gives as much as she takes, how badly he wants this for the rest of his life. He skims a hand over her side, pushes against her until she’s stretched out beneath him. A low, pleading moan slips from her as he shifts his mouth to her throat. He breathes out shakily, nips at the skin below her jaw.

“We’re not having sex on the couch,” she manages to gasp out, and her fingers yank at his hair. Razor-sharp desire tears through him, silencing that voice in his head and drowning out his rational mind. “Ni-Niall…”

Slipping a hand across her belly under her shirt, Niall presses a kiss to her collarbone, the opal pressing against the bridge of his nose, before glancing up at her through his lashes. “Why not, love? You never had a problem with it before.”

“Well, true, but that.”

He follows her gaze and abruptly goes cold as if he’s been doused with ice-water. Ryder stands in the doorway to the bedroom, a chubby fist scrubbing at his eyes. His purple lion dangles limply from his arm. Emilie wiggles slightly so she can see past Niall’s shoulder, and he barely restrains the groan at the pressure.


Fuck. “What’s wrong, bud?”

“I had bad dream. I wet.”

“Oh, no. That’s not good.” Niall looks back at Emilie and rolls his eyes when he sees her amused smile. “This isn’t funny.”

She merely shrugs in response. Niall sticks his tongue out at her and turns his head. Ryder stares back expectantly, and Niall pushes himself to his feet. Keeping his back to the toddler, he adjusts his jeans and wills his heart to stop racing so wildly under his ribs. Emilie gives him an unashamed once-over, brow quirking as she smirks.

Once he’s calmed down, Niall crouches to kiss her again, lips forming an I love you against hers, then makes his way across the living room. He takes Ryder by the hand, leads him to the bathroom, and helps the child strip out of his soiled pyjamas. Niall tosses the clothes toward the door and twists the taps on. Ryder lets out a soft sigh when Niall lifts him up, patting the man’s cheek clumsily, and drops Lionel the Lion to the floor as Niall sets him in the tub.


Emilie stands in the doorway, watching as Niall bathes Ryder. She is well-aware that she has probably forgiven her boyfriend far too quickly, that she should have tried harder to get over him. But her heart tells her this is the right thing to do. She’s learnt she can’t live without him - the last week has been awful, and there was no sign that it would get better. Her fingers play with the pendant at the base of her throat as she falls that much more in love with Niall.

Not having him around hasn’t only hurt her. Sure, Ryder has asked about Niall far less now than he did a week ago, but Emilie could see the sadness in Ryder’s eyes any time she refused to answer his questions or when she told him that Niall wasn’t here. She thought that she would be the only one struggling to get over the loss of Niall. She was wrong.

Emilie meant what she said, though: If it happens again, if she ever feels unimportant and neglected, she will leave and not look back. Not even if Niall were to crawl through fire for them. She can’t do this another time, and she will never forgive him for it. However, this time… she finds it impossible to not give him one more chance. He’s become so ingrained in her life that it physically hurts to consider any other option.

One quick bath later, Ryder yawns widely enough that Emilie can almost see down his throat. She passes over the fresh change of clothes and a pull-up, smiling when Ryder pitches forward to lean heavily against Niall’s chest. As her boyfriend dresses the child, she heads to the bedroom to peel back the wet linens and clean off the plastic mattress-cover with a disinfectant wipe.

The low hum of Niall murmuring from the bathroom follows Emilie as she tosses the bedding into the washing machine, and she smiles to herself at the sound. It’s home, his voice. It always will be. She just forgot that for a while.

She hurries to pour detergent and vinegar into the basin, setting the cycle, and the machine lets out a series of melodic beeps when she presses the start button. Her heart settles peacefully in her chest when she comes to a stop in the doorway, a pleasant warmth diffusing through her at the sight in front of her.

Niall sways on his feet, rocking Ryder from side to side, as the toddler rests his head on the man’s shoulder. Niall’s voice is pitched low and sweet as he sings ‘Cause you know it’ll be okay, fire away. He catches her eye and sends her that gentle smile, the one she fell in love with over a year ago. She steps closer, kisses Ryder’s hair, then stands on her tiptoes to press her lips to Niall’s.

He hums longer to Ryder as she heads to the cupboard to pull down a set of new linens. Emilie can feel him watching her while she sets up the cot, but she ignores him, tucks in the sheets. Ryder snuffles and whines but doesn’t wake when Niall lays him down in bed. She brushes her fingers along Niall’s shoulders as she makes her way to the door, leaving him to finish saying goodnight to the toddler.

Busying herself with clearing the dishes, rinsing them and putting them in the sink, is unsuccessful - she finds herself distracted with everything that has plagued her mind and heart for the last week. Even longer, really. But those doubts and fears can be laid to rest for the time being. She knows it’s going to be a lot of hard work and some time before she can let herself trust that this won’t happen again, but loving Niall, being loved by him, is worth it.

Emilie turns off the lights on her way to the bathroom and searches in the drawers for an unopened toothbrush for Niall. She’s just readied her own toothbrush when he slips into the room, coming to a stop behind her. His arms come up to encircle her waist, his chest to her back, and he buries his face into her hair.

She doesn’t speak, doesn’t do anything other than brushing her teeth, as he tightens his grip on her. Eventually, though, he pulls away and moves to stand beside her; she shifts so he has room enough to use the sink as well, and her pinkie finger links with his. He stares down at the connection, lips quirking. Neither of them bother to pull away from each other even once they’ve finished.

“I’m still so sorry.”

Niall’s chest vibrates under her ear with his words, and Emilie presses the tips of her fingers more solidly against his skin. He doesn’t move when she turns her head to kiss his sternum. When she looks up at him, he’s staring at the ceiling, his left hand tucked under his head, and she frowns.


“You deserve better than how I treated you.”

She stifles a sigh. He may be right, but he doesn’t need to beat himself up over this. They can work it out. They will.

“I know you’re sorry, honey. And, and I’m sorry, too. I could have just as easily told you what was wrong instead of running away like that. Monica and Derek made that point very clear.”

“Will you come back home with me?” he whispers, body tensing with the question, and Emilie pushes herself up onto one elbow to meet his eye. “It doesn’t feel like home without you and Ry.”

“Yeah, absolutely. We’ve missed you, too.”

He smiles slightly, sighing and settling further into the bed. As much as Emilie wants to finish what they started on the couch, as much as she craves him, she resists. It would only sully the tenderness and honesty of this moment. Instead, she curls up into his side and blows out a breath. Pale moonlight filters through the window, paints the floor with milky-white. Niall tightens his arm around her, and she lets the steady beat of his heart and his warmth, his presence, lull her to sleep.