“Good morning, Lou,” is the first thing Louis hears as he blinks his eyes open, squinting against the golden beams of sunlight streaming in from the window.
“Good morning, H,” he murmurs, rolling over to press a soft kiss to his husband’s lips.
Louis smiles at Harry, waiting. When Harry opens his mouth Louis expects to hear the first words of Happy Birthday come out. Instead, what he hears is, “Do you want to do some last minute Christmas shopping?”
Louis blinks in confusion thinking maybe he got the date wrong.
“Haz, what day is it?” he asks.
“Christmas Eve, silly. Don’t you know that?” Harry responds.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” Louis replies, frowning.
Ever since the pair got married the first thing Louis hears every year on Christmas Eve is a gentle good morning and the sweet sound of Harry singing Happy Birthday to him. He’s never missed it. Has he forgotten? No, he couldn’t have.
“Yeah sure, we can go shopping. Anything else you want to say, babe?” Louis says, trying to prompt Harry to start singing.
“Not that I can think of! Want some tea or coffee?” Harry replies, smiling.
“Tea sounds good,” Louis answers.
Harry nods and squeezes Louis’ arm before getting up and leaving the room. When he’s gone out to the kitchen Louis lets a tear fall from his eye and sniffles a bit, twisting his wedding ring. He can’t believe Harry forgot his birthday. A couple of minutes later Harry walks in with two cups of tea.
“Are you ok?” he asks when he hears Louis sniffle.
“Hm? Oh, yeah I’m fine! Just allergies,” Louis says with a fake cheerfulness in his voice.
Harry nods and hands Louis a cup. Louis takes a sip and gazes out the window. Harry looks at him and cocks his head.
“Are you sure you’re ok?” Harry asks, “You’re acting a bit off.”
Louis doesn’t say anything, just nods. He and Harry drink their tea in silence. Once Louis finishes his tea he stands up and collects his clothing. Clutching his favourite grey joggers and matching jumper, he looks at Harry.
“Yes?” Harry asks.
“You said you wanted to go Christmas shopping. Get ready. Let’s go shopping,” Louis says flatly.
“Oh, I meant a little bit later today. Maybe in an hour or two?” Harry answers looking a bit nervous.
“It’ll be even more crowded out than it already is if we go later. I’m ready so how about we just do it now,” Louis says.
“Alright, alright. You can shower first,” Harry replies before picking up his phone.
Louis nods and goes into the bathroom. He turns the water on and gets undressed while it’s warming up. When he steps into the shower he lets all of the emotion he was trying to hold in earlier come spilling out. He sobs quietly so Harry won’t hear him. He lets the tears flow as he’s washing up and does his best to pull himself together before turning the water off. When he steps out of the shower he quickly dries off and stands in front of the mirror. As he brushes his teeth he watches the redness fade from his face. Before leaving the bathroom, Louis fakes a smile, determined to not let Harry see him hurting. He places his hand on the knob and turns it. Louis steps out and sees Harry gathering clothes before pressing a quick kiss to Louis’ temple and entering the bathroom.
Louis gets dressed as Harry turns on the shower. Louis starts to pick up their empty tea cups and thinks he hears whispering coming from the other side of the door. He goes to the door and presses his ear to it. As soon as he does this he feels guilty for spying on his husband so he only listens for a moment. He can’t hear what’s being said anyways so he sits back down on the bed and waits for Harry.
“Alright, I’m ready,” Harry says, walking out of the bathroom in a pair of black skinny jeans and a holiday jumper.
The pair decide to head to the nearest shopping mall. When they get there it’s so crowded that they have a hard time finding an empty spot in the car park. Louis swears Harry looks relieved at the sight of the crowd. Normally Harry hates big crowds and busy stores so Louis finds his reaction odd. However, he brushes it aside.
After at least fifteen minutes of driving in circles looking for a place to park they finally find one. As soon as Harry turns the car off he pulls out his phone and starts texting again. Harry usually doesn’t text much but Louis brushes this aside as well, assuming he’s probably messaging someone about Christmas presents or holiday well-wishes. The pair get out of the car and walk to the front of the mall. Louis shivers in the cold, listening to the unshoveled remnants of last night’s snow crunch under his feet.
“Ugh, the lines are gonna be so long,” Louis grumbles, toying with his wedding band.
“Yep!” Harry says, sounding a bit too cheerful for Louis’ liking.
“Ok, what is the matter with you?” Louis asks. He can’t ignore Harry’s strange behaviour any longer.
“What do you mean?” Harry asks, looking confused.
“You hate crowds. Why the fuck are you so cheerful?” Louis groans, irritated by Harry’s apparent cluelessness.
“Just the Christmas spirit, I suppose! Aren’t you excited? Christmas is tomorrow! That should be enough to put anyone in a good mood,” Harry chirps.
“I guess so,” Louis says, pulling out his phone and using his reflection in the screen to fix his hair.
“Oh come on, Lou. Don’t be such a Scrooge!” Harry says, watching Louis fuss with his hair.
Louis slips his phone back in his pocket and looks at Harry. He sees Harry pull out his phone and send another text. Tears form in his eyes but he blinks them away before they have a chance to fall.
“How about this, Lou. I think I already have all of the gifts I need and I assume you have too. How about we go into your favourite stores and you can pick out whatever you’d like. I can tell you’re upset and I’m not sure why but I want to try and make you feel better. Does that sound ok?” Harry suggests.
Louis sighs. Harry really has forgotten his birthday. At least he’s making an effort to make Louis feel better.
“Alright,” Louis says, offering Harry a small smile that doesn’t quite reach his eyes.
Harry grins and Louis leans in to peck him on the lips. He figures it’s an honest mistake so he may as well make the best of the day. He decides there’s no sense being grumpy on his birthday AND Christmas Eve. He’ll just gently remind Harry about his birthday the day after Christmas, that way they can still enjoy the holiday together.
Louis leads Harry around the mall by the hand, going into his favourite stores. Over the next few hours he picks out clothing, shoes, and video games that he’s been wanting. The crowd is a bit overwhelming but Louis is able to push the anxious feeling the crush of people and the loud noise gives him to the back of his mind in favour of spending time with his favourite person. Throughout the shopping trip Harry seems a bit distracted, stopping ever so often to check his phone and text some more. Louis considers asking him about it but he doesn’t want to ruin the good mood he’s managed to get himself in despite the disappointment at the back of his mind.
Once they finish at the mall Harry offers to put everything in the boot and asks Louis if he’d mind driving. Louis agrees and gets behind the wheel of their car, waiting for Harry. He feels like Harry is lingering a bit longer than he needs to, but he tries to ignore it. He can see in the mirror that Harry is on his phone again. This is starting to really bother Louis.
When they are out of the car park, Louis reaches over and laces his fingers with Harry’s. Harry smiles warmly at him, rubbing his thumb over Louis’ knuckle. After a minute Harry’s phone dings and he lets go of Louis’ hand to check the message. Louis frowns but Harry quickly takes his hand again. Louis really wants to know what’s been keeping Harry on his phone all day but he bites his tongue, not wanting to ruin the moment.
When they arrive Louis parks the car in the drive. He notices cars along the curb and assumes one of the neighbours must be having a holiday party. The two men get out of the car and walk up to the front door. Harry has a huge grin on his face as Louis unlocks the front door.
“Surprise!” Louis hears a chorus of voices say as soon as he flips the light switch.
Louis looks around and sees his family and friends all gathered around the room wearing party hats. There’s a pile of brightly wrapped gifts on the table and there are party decorations all around. He grins at the sight and everyone in the room begins singing happy birthday. Harry wraps his arms around Louis from behind and kisses him on the cheek.
“Happy birthday, Lou,” he murmurs in Louis’ ear, “How could I ever forget?”
“You made me sad today,” Louis replies with a fake pout.
“I know and I felt so bad but I had to keep the secret,” Harry answers.
“Is this what all of that texting was about?” Louis asks.
“Yeah. I had to keep everyone updated on how long they had to get over here and get set up. You almost messed the plans up by wanting to leave so early this morning but luckily everyone was able to make it a bit early,” Harry whispers, with a chuckle.
“Oops, sorry babe,” Louis responds laughing.
Louis’ family and friends finish singing with big smiles on their faces.
“Alright, let’s get this party started!” Harry says and everyone cheers in response.
Louis steps into the room, hugging all of his loved ones individually as they wish him a happy birthday.