3rd place! They were all so happy. Of course, it would have been amazing to win, but they were over the moon for Matt and they were going to get signed by Simon anyway. It was the happiest week of their young lives.
And yet, though Harry would never mention it aloud, something was unsettling him. Something was causing him to loose sleep. There was a dull ache in his heart, despite his smiles for the cameras. Zayn.
A day or two after the final (Harry couldn't remember which day exactly because the whole X Factor experience had been such a whirlwind), Zayn had gone public about his relationship with Geneva Lane. The paps had taken pictures of them kissing after the final. Zayn had tweeted her saying he loved her. It wasn't as if it was a surprise to Harry. He had known they were together for weeks. They all had. It had bothered Harry but he didn't let himself dwell on it too much. Boys would be boys and Zayn was certainly no exception to that rule.
The truth was, after Belle Amie left the X Factor he and Zayn had grown even closer- they were inseparable during their video diary in week five and Harry had felt- hoped, rather, that Zayn would realise he didn't need Geneva to be happy. But then they had fought on the night of the twitcam, and though Harry had convinced himself at the time that it was over some little thing and Zayn was just being annoying, in hindsight he could see that it was because Zayn kept texting Geneva – talking to her, occasionally meeting up with her….
And now that they had gone public it seemed all the more real. Harry felt like his heart had been ripped out, like there was a cold slice of ice in his brain. He found himself picturing them together…kissing the way he had seen them in the photos. Geneva's arms around Zayn's neck, their lips touching. Harry couldn't get those images out of his mind- and though he tried not to, he found himself picturing other things they would do together. He thought about Geneva putting her hands on Zayn, Zayn touching her, laying her down on the bed…It was enough to drive Harry mad.
The morning after the X Factor wrap party, Harry discovered some of Zayn's tweets. The first was Zayn replying to a fan saying something like 'yeah me and harry are actually dating' and the second: 'hes so perfect his curly hair just does it 4 me x' Harry knew Zayn was joking but it didn't stop his heart fluttering as he read over the tweets several times and wondered what possessed Zayn to only answer this particular fan. And to talk about him- Harry. It made him happy and sad at the same time- happy because Zayn had taken notice of him, and sad because he didn't like the power Zayn had over him. His words and what he felt about things had such a big effect on him and Harry thought this was wrong. Especially since Zayn had a girlfriend.
It was an issue he had to face on Tuesday evening when Zayn burst in his room at the hotel they had been staying at since the X Factor had finished. Zayn had just been outside in the rain, buying some chocolate with Niall. Harry was lying on his bed, listening to his ipod and Zayn was the last person he felt like seeing. As Zayn sank onto the sofa near the door, launching into a speech about how bad the weather was and the crazy fans at the shop Harry nodded and tried not to look at how the rain had soaked his brown skin, or his eyelashes, or think about how adorable his thick Bradford accent was.
'And then they wouldn't stop asking me about Geneva', he was saying. 'I mean come, I've got a girlfriend, I haven't killed anyone, you know?'
Harry gave a non-committal grunt. 'What's that supposed to mean?', Zayn snapped.
'Well I don't know', Harry began reluctantly. 'They've got a right to be angry, you kept it a secret for weeks and they love you…', Harry's voice began to crack as he pushed on, his own anger growing as he spoke. 'You've abandoned them. They must be heart-broken'
Zayn blinked at Harry for a minute, before bursting out laughing. 'Harry! Come on mate, those fans hardly know me! I seriously doubt they're actually heart-broken!'.
'Everything's just one big joke to you isn't it, Zayn?', Harry shouted as his friend continue to laugh. He swung his legs off the bed so he could walk towards him, suddenly determined to give Zayn a piece of his mind. 'Well I'd appreciate it if you keep me out of your jokes from now on'
'What?' said Zayn, looking up at him. He had stopped laughing now and looked rather concerned. 'What are you talking about Harry?'
'On twitter', Harry fumed, leaning against the wall. 'Telling some fan that me and you are dating-'
'Oh mate, lighten up!', Zayn protested-
'He's so perfect! That's what you said', Harry snapped.
'So?', Zayn replied, frowning now, and seemingly annoyed. 'You are perfect'
He was standing up now too, and Harry moved away from the wall to face him. He was furious. Couldn't Zayn be serious for one second? Why did he have to persist in messing around? Couldn't he see what he was doing to him?
'You're ridiculous, Zayn Malik', Harry spat. 'You make me sick'
'Better than being a miserable twat for no reason', Zayn retorted as he took a step towards Harry. They were very close now and Harry's heart was beating fast as Zayn's eyes rested on his lips. Harry wasn't sure what was happening- all he knew was that time had stood still and the only thing in the world was this moment. This precious moment with this boy, who was moving closer…closer…
His lips were warm and soft as Harry sank into them, kissing him fully like Zayn was all he had ever wanted. Zayn's hands were on his back and Harry arms wrapped around Zayn's neck as the kiss deepened, their tongues battling, their body's pressing together. Their lips parted as Zayn pushed Harry gently onto the bed behind them and positioned himself above him. Harry instinctively wrapped his legs around Zayn and whimpered from the pleasure of being even closer to him. And before he knew it Zayn was trailing open-mouthed kisses along his jaw and neck and collar bone and Harry couldn't help but moan his name out loud, his hands wandering beneath the material of Zayn's hoodie. Zayn groaned and began tugging at Harry's shirt. Harry lifted his arms to help him remove it and felt himself blush as Zayn's gorgeous eyes took in his torso. Zayn stared at him for a while, his eyes wide and his mouth hanging open slightly. 'Is something wrong, Mr Malik?' Harry giggled, gazing at him tenderly.
'No!', Zayn replied, his eyes meeting Harry's as he seemed to come back to his senses slightly. 'It's just…you're so…perfect'
Harry blushed harder than ever as Zayn lowered his head and kissed Harry's naked torso, his light brown hands travelling over Harry's pale white skin and his mouth- that delicious mouth of his sucked gently on Harry's pink nipples. 'Zayn…Zayn…', Harry moaned writhing around and praying he would never stop. He was in heaven. Then after what seemed like several sunlight days, Zayn came up for air and Harry threw his arms around his neck again, crashing his lips to Zayn's and kissing him with even more urgency than before, thrusting his hips upwards so that his crotch grazed against the beautiful boy on top of him. They were both moaning in unison now and just as Harry began tugging desperately at Zayn's hoodie, there was a loud knock. They broke apart, their arms still wrapped around each other.
'Boys we need you downstairs in five minutes', their minder's voice rung through the door.