‹ Prequel: Feels Like Forever

Feels Like Forever (one-shots)

forever, we will be

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Emilie has lost all hope by the time Ryder’s sixth birthday nears. It’s been almost two years of trying - and failing - to conceive. To make Ryder an older brother and give Niall a child, half-him and half-her. The attempts have only been unsuccessful, and each negative test crushes her.

Niall hasn’t seemed concerned with it. “It’ll happen when it’s meant to happen, love.” That’s easy for him to say. He isn’t the one pressuring her to have a baby. The pressure is from herself. She thought she didn’t want to be pregnant, and now she’s said she does, it’s a desire that consumes her.

Emilie had even gone to a fertility specialist while Niall was on tour. The doctor told her everything was fine with her reproductive organs, and she’d left the office feeling like even more of a failure. If all systems were go, why wasn’t it happening? It never crossed her mind that he might be the reason.

She made him go almost the instant he got home. There were no cause for concerns on his end.

Emilie has started believing that maybe it isn’t meant to be. Maybe she’s only meant to have Ryder and no other child. He is an amazing son - smart, kind, generous. The sweetest little boy Emilie has ever known. She aches to give him a sibling like he asked for.

His begging for a baby brother stopped after his fifth birthday. He’d blown out the candles on his cake, squeezed his eyes shut, then opened them only for his face to fall. He left his own party to hide in his bed. Niall had come back downstairs ten minutes later with a guilty expression.

“He wished for a brother and got upset that it didn’t come true immediately.”

Emilie has lived with that shame ever since.

Mully taps her forehead with his knuckles. “Anyone in there?”

“No, all my brain cells flew away.” Emilie sighs, staring down at the iPad in front of her. Nearly every item on the list has been checked off. She locks the screen and gives Mully her full attention. “You were saying?”

“I was asking if your parents were coming this year.”

“No, they can’t make it. Mom has some corporate thing to do, Mama has Danielle’s new baby for the next week so Dani can go on the NA retreat, and Dad has to do damage control in Sydney. They’ll do a video chat, though, so keep your clothes on at all times.”

Mully lets out an exaggerated groan. “Do you have to torture me?”

“Nah, it’s merely a benefit of our friendship.”

She giggles when he flips her off, but his expression sobers. Emilie picks up the stylus pen and unlocks the iPad to reread what she has to do now. There is nothing on the list.

The decorations are hidden up in the guest room, the gifts wrapped and tucked away in Mully’s room - the one place Ryder knows he isn’t allowed in without permission. Jordan placed the cake order yesterday, so that’s another thing taken care of.

All that is left is to wait for the day to arrive.

And try not to dwell on the fact she is failing to give Niall the next step in their relationship.

“Still no luck?”

Emilie groans, letting her head thunk to the table. Mully has supported the decision since the beginning. She hadn’t actually expected Niall to keep it from his childhood best friend, but even she didn’t anticipate that the text message would be sent within seconds of their post-coital shower.

“No, and… I keep thinking that it never will happen. I mean, it’s been two fucking years. The doctor said nothing is wrong with us, so why-why won’t it just happen already?”

“Because you’re putting too much pressure on yourself.” Mully rests his hand on hers, squeezing gently. His face softens with his smile. “From what Jordan and I have read, it’s harder with added stress.”

“Why have you two been researching that?”

Mully blows out a breath and leans back in his seat. Emilie watches him closely, frowning at his silence. His brows draw together when he meets her gaze.

“We were... Okay, don’t get mad. Promise?”

“I swear.”

“Niall told us a few months ago that you were getting more frustrated with each test, so Jordan and I started trying to find tips to make it easier. It’s not that we think it won’t happen,” he rushes to assure her, but Emilie doesn’t take comfort from that.

She can’t. Not when the attempts haven’t been successful and it’s her fault. No matter what anyone says, she is the reason it hasn’t come to fruition.

“Em, I promise we don’t think you won’t get pregnant. We all want you to be, because it’s what you and Nialler want. Just... I guess try to not put so much pressure on yourself. Lay back and have fun with it. Let it happen on its own terms.”

“I just want to make him happy,” whispers Emilie, her finger running along the casing of her iPad. “He’s said he doesn’t need another kid to be happy, but I know it’ll make him happy.”

“Have you talked to his ma?”

Emilie shakes her head and sniffs back tears. “Didn’t wanna get her hopes up just for me to keep failing.”

“You—”

His words are cut off by the front door opening, a familiar voice echoing through the silence of the house. Shoes hit the wall with a thump, then little feet patter toward the kitchen. Emilie turns in time to scoop Ryder up into his arms.

“Hi, Mama! Guess what. I got a sticker for being good today in school!”

“What? That’s amazing, baby. I’m proud of you.”

Ryder nods enthusiastically and settles in on her lap. Emilie rests her forehead on his soft hair as he rambles on about helping his friends and cleaning the play area like Ms Fairbrother asked. According to him, he even gave Hannah his chocolate milk because she didn’t want plain.

Niall waits until Ryder stops talking to draw in a breath. “Okay, little one, you seem to have forgotten where your bag goes. I don’t think by the front door is that place.”

“Shite.” Ryder freezes in Emilie’s arms then slowly turns his head to stare up at her. “Oops.”

“Go pick up your bag and put it away. Then we’ll have a long conversation about appropriate words.”

While he scurries off to the entryway, Emilie pins Niall with an unimpressed look. He shrugs without remorse, grinning brightly, then crosses the room to cup her cheeks with sun-warmed hands.

“I’d say sorry, but it’s weirdly adorable to hear him cursing.”

“He’s five. He shouldn’t be cursing.”

Niall presses his lips to hers, and her frustration fades. Her stomach fills with the well-known sensation of home, the warmth of the love they’ve found in each other, of everything he has given her. But as she sinks into the comfort, she can’t fight the dark cloud forming beneath her ribs.

Maybe he should find someone else who can actually give him a child without years of trying.

“Love, please,” Niall pleads two days later.

“No.”

“Why not?”

Emilie sighs, slamming her toothbrush onto the bathroom counter next to the box. “Because I do it every month when you’re home, and they’re always negative. Why should I keep putting myself through that Hell? Why should I keep reminding myself that I’m a fucking failure?”

“You’re not a failure, Em. C’mere.” Niall pulls her in against his chest, holds her tightly enough that she can’t move at all, and kisses her head. “I… I knew you were frustrated that it hadn’t happened yet, but I didn’t know you felt you were a failure. Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Because you’d do this,” she mutters with a vague gesture.

“What, comfort my wife?”

“It’s stupid. I know it is. But, Niall, I really want this.”

“I know. So do I. But even if it never happens, it will never change the fact I love you and the son we already have.” He sighs, rubbing circles into her back, and squeezes her gently. “Will you please take the test?”

“If it’ll get you off my back.”

“I’d much rather be on your front, but whatever.”

Emilie pulls away and stares at the box on the counter. Niall asks if she wants him to stay, but she shakes her head. She won’t be able to look him in the eye when it comes back negative. Another kiss, then he closes the door behind him. She sighs, reaching for the box with a trembling hand.

To: Derek, Monica
<
You two busy?

Derek:
>
I’ll be on break in a few minutes.

Monica:
>
I’m free. What’s up?

Emilie:
<
I need some moral support please??

Within seconds of the text, her phone vibrates in her hand. Emilie accepts the video call and waits for Monica’s face to fill the screen. Moni holds up a finger as she finishes chewing the food in her mouth.

“Okay, what’cha need, babe?”

Emilie drops to sit on the closed toilet lid, scrubbing a hand over her face. Before she can speak, the line beeps - Derek is joining the chat. Monica rolls her eyes when their friend’s voice comes through the speakers. Soft country plays in the background.

“So we’re all here,” Derek says as he settles in at one of the coffeeshop’s tables, shoving an earbud into his ear. “How can we help?”

“I, uh, I’m taking another test today. Like, now.”

Monica frowns, her dark eyes shifting to the right. “Beanie Baby… Don’t you think that maybe you’re torturing yourself with taking one every month?”

“Niall is forcing me.”

“I love your husband, but I’ll kick his ass. I’d kick Ben’s ass if he tried forcing me to take a pregnancy test.”

“Moni, leave her alone.” Derek blows out a breath. “But really, Em, we’re here for you.”

“Thanks. Uh, I’m gonna mute myself. Y’all don’t need to hear me pee.”

“Don’t you know we get off on hearing you pee?”

Emilie gapes at Derek’s video square as Monica dissolves into giggles. His cheeks flush a brilliant red, and he covers his face with a hand when Emmett’s face comes into view. The owner of San Francisco stares at Derek, face twisted into disgust and confusion. Emilie mutes the video chat, sets her phone on the counter, and grabs the test kit.

It takes less than two minutes.

Her entire body quakes. Her friends call her name, but she can’t breathe. Tears obscure her vision. Her throat tightens. She lowers herself on shaky knees, the cold porcelain of the tub biting into the back of her thighs.

“Emilie Taylor, answer us. What’s going on?”

A knock sounds at the door. Niall pokes his head into the room, and his gaze searches her out. He frowns as he steps inside and closes the door. The warmth of his hands on her cheeks forces her to close her eyes. His thumb brushes away a tear slipping free.

“Petal, what’s wrong?” He pauses, and she knows what he’s thinking. “It’s okay, love. We’ll keep—”

She gasps as reality slams into her. “I’m pregnant.” Niall’s mouth closes with a clacking of teeth, and Emilie opens her eyes to stare up at him. “I’m actually really pregnant.”

“Are you serious?”

She points shakily toward the test on the counter, the one with two blue lines. The one that proves she’s getting what they want. He moves away to check the results, passing her phone to her without looking. His breath stutters in his chest as he turns toward her.

Monica scowls as Emilie turns her face toward the screen, but the anger melts when she sees the tears. “Oh, honey, I’m so sorry.”

Emilie hurriedly takes the call off mute. “Why? I mean, I’ve got a bun in the oven, which is exactly what I’ve been trying for, so there’s nothing to be sorry for.”

Silence fills the room except for the shuddering breaths from Niall, then Monica shrieks loudly. Derek winces but cheers along. Their voices mix in a shrill harmony, and Emilie lets out a breathless laugh. Derek’s video blurs, red walls and wooden countertop, but it steadies after a moment.

“Em! Em’s pregnant!”

Emilie accepts the congratulations as gracefully as possible through her tears before ending the call—“I have a husband to celebrate with.” Dropping her phone to the counter, she stands beside Niall and laces their fingers together. His eyes shine with the tears that streak down his cheeks.

“We’re gonna have a baby,” she whispers, leaning her head against his shoulder.

He turns and wraps his arms around her, crushing her again his chest. His heart races beneath his ribs, his tears dampen her hair, and she clings to him in the face of this new chapter of their lives. Her stomach churns at the thought of what’s next.

Emilie rises on her tiptoes and pulls him down for a kiss, whispers against his lips, “I’m pregnant.”

“You are. Fuck, you really are.”

She pulls back “How do we wanna do this? Tell everyone now, or…?”

“I think we should wait until Monday.” He catches the way she tilts her head, the downturn of her lips. “Let it be one of Ryder’s presents.”

“You realise the guitar you bought for him is going to pale in comparison, right?”

He laughs and shakes his head. “I’m okay with that. This is far better anyway. I can teach him to play anytime, but having a baby with you? It’s our dream come true.”

It’s utter Hell to not shout it from the rooftops, to announce to the world that not only is Niall Horan happily married, but he’s about to become the father of two children. The blogger who treated her so horribly two years ago has practically dropped off the face of the earth, but Emilie knows they will be back with a vengeance once the news breaks.

Finally—finally—the thirty-first dawns bright and clear, if a little chilly by LA’s standards. Niall and Emilie had let Ryder stay home from school, let him dictate their plans for the day until the party this afternoon. They spend the morning at the park, her husband and child kicking a ball around, then go for lunch. Ryder talks about his tee-ball practise this past weekend and how excited he is for the upcoming game.

After lunch comes a swim in the pool at home. Emilie sits on the edge and watches her little family as they dive and swim. Ryder has learnt how to swim by the time he was four; he’s nearly an expert now, completely unafraid with going under the surface. All she wants is to tell him the truth—that he’s getting the sibling she couldn’t give him over the last two years.

But she keeps it locked deep inside. Niall was right. This is the perfect gift to give their son on his birthday.

The house is full of sound by four o’clock. Mully has Jackson on his phone, Niall has his parents on his, and Rose and Paige beam from Emilie’s screen. John and Melody help keep Ryder and Freddie distracted while the adults carry the gifts downstairs. Emilie leans against the counter and stares at the overflowing table, the guitar-shaped cake on the countertop, and the children playing outside.

Once the birthday song is sung and cake devoured, Ryder opens his presents. His shriek of delight at the acoustic guitar shatters through the conversations around him, and he launches himself at Niall.

“Thank you so much, Daddy. I can’t wait to play music with you!”

Niall grins even as his eyes gleam suspiciously brighter. “I can’t wait, either. I think Mama has one last gift to give you, though, so you better sit back down.”

Emilie blows out a breath while Ryder obeys. She glances at Niall. He grins, nodding, and takes her phone from her hand. Her heart thrums a hummingbird-beat in her chest as she kneels down beside Ryder’s seat. He turns expectantly toward her. Carding her fingers through his hair, she swallows against the tightness in her throat.

“Remember your wish last year, when you blew out your candles?”

“Yeah. I wanted a baby brother, and he never came.”

Emilie giggles and pokes his nose to rid him of his scowl. “Well, the wish took some time, but it did come true.”

Ryder cocks his head with a frown. It doesn’t take long for her words to register in everyone’s minds—everyone except the children’s. She raises a hand to cup Ryder’s cheek amid the shouts of ‘congratulations’ filling the room.

“I can’t guarantee the baby will be a boy, but... Ry, you’re gonna be a big brother.”

His jaw drops, and all he can do is stare with wide eyes at Emilie. The wall of voices around them fades away as everyone prepares for his reaction. She wonders what’s going on in his head, though she waits for only a moment.

“Are you serious? Mama, I’m getting a baby?”

“Yeah, sweetheart. I have a baby in my belly,” she murmurs before brushing his cheek with her thumb.

He stays silent for a long minute. Then he lunges into her arms, knocking her on her ass, and bursts into tears.

“This is the best day ever,” he sobs, clinging more tightly to her. His tears soak the collar of her T-shirt, and he trembles in her arms. “Thank you, Mama.”

“Oh, honey, you’re so welcome. I’m glad you’re happy about this.”

Ryder pulls back to scrub at his face. “I’m not just happy, Mama. I think I’m gonna die with how happy I am. Oh! The baby can share my room and my toys, and I can teach him how to be a good boy. I can read to him every day! Wait, Mama. Does Daddy know?”

“If he didn’t know already, you definitely just told him,” laughs Emilie. “You know things will be different now, right? We won’t ever stop loving you, but we’ll have to spend a lot of time with the baby.”

“I don’t care! I’m getting a baby!”

Emile holds him close as he starts crying once more, blubbering about being a big brother. Her gaze meets Niall’s, and his soft smile is the perfect response. Someone clears their throat. She turns her attention toward Mully’s phone with a sniffle of her own.

“You’re making us grandparents again?”

“Yeah, Daddy. You’re gonna have another grandchild to spoil rotten.”

“Mama, when will the baby be here?”

Emilie stifles another bout of giggling and squeezes Ryder gently. “It’ll be a while, but that just gives us time to prepare, right?”

“He needs to be here now. I’m tired of waiting.”

“You literally just found out, Ry,” Niall chuckles as he pulls Ryder from Emilie’s arms. “Gotta be patient, sweetheart.”

Ryder heaves a weighted sigh then wipes the tears from his cheeks. “Can I go play with Freddie now?”

Leave it to a child to change moods in the blink of an eye. The children rush off to the living room to dump out the Lego sets, noted by the enormous clatter of plastic pieces. She rises to her feet and is almost crushed to death by the tight hugs from everyone around.

Maura is gone from the screen of Niall’s phone; only the wall behind her is visible. Emilie can’t fight the giggle at the telltale sound of someone blowing their nose. Bobby smiles, congratulates Niall and Emilie, then has to hang up. She takes her phone back from Niall and weaves her way through the people gathered until she reaches the back door.

“So now that it’s less crazy, hi.”

Rose blinks rapidly, fanning at her face with one hand. “I’m so happy for you two. I know it’s been a rough go.”

“It has been. And I, um, I honestly had given up on it ever happening. I mean, we tried for two years.”

“As much as I don’t like to think about my baby’s sex life,” Jackson grimaces, “you and Niall deserve this. Congratulations.”

“You better send loads of pictures until you can bring the baby here,” Paige warns, and Emilie laughs.

A lightness settles in her bones, and she sits on the patio long after she ends the video-chat with her parents. Now that they’ve told everyone, it feels real. As if the test wasn’t the ultimate decider in their fate. It was this, inviting their friends and family to join in on the joyous moment.

Though she knows what pregnancy did to Danielle, what the responsibility did, Emilie can’t find it in herself to be afraid. Whatever comes will come, and she’ll be as ready as possible with Niall by her side.

Her phone beeps in her hand, and she glances down at the screen.

Twitter
New Tweet from @NiallOfficial

Instagram
niallhoran just posted a photo.

Emilie claps a hand over her mouth as she stares down at the Instagram post. A sob bubbles out of her as she reads the words beneath, and she closes out of the application. The photo is imprinted on the back of her eyelids.

Taken at one of Ryder’s tee-ball games, she’s drinking a cup of coffee and focusing solely on watching Ry and his team shake hands with the opposing team. The caption, though… That’s what got her.

niallhoran I can’t wait to start this next chapter with you. You’ve given me so much love and a family to come home to. You don’t know how wonderful you are or how much I love and need you. I can’t thank you enough for everything you do for me. @emmietay you are an amazing mother and our children are so lucky to have you.

Even as tears slide down her cheeks, she opens Instagram once more and double-taps the photo. She ‘likes’ the post on Twitter before quote-tweeting it with You’ve loved me through it all. Here’s to the next 100 years loving each other and our little family.

“Thanks for choosing a good picture,” she quips on a watery voice when shoes scuff against the stones behind her.

“You never take a horrible picture, darling.”

Niall sits beside her and pulls her into his side. His lips press to her forehead, and Emilie soaks up the comfort of his hold, warmer than the sun. Nothing needs to be said as they sit side-by-side. The way they’ll always be until the end. Forever.