Winter Cabin

           "Do you think it’s possible to love someone so much you can’t even breathe?"

AU in which you and Niall get snowed in and fall in love at 2 am. 5.7k words.

It wasn’t meant to be this way. It wasn’t meant to be just you and Niall, locked away in his cabin for the week. It was meant to be a group getaway, but mother nature was a fickle bitch, and she had thwarted your plans. Niall had asked you to go on up ahead with him to open the cabin, turn on the heat and crank on the water. Not wanting him to make the trip alone, you’d joined him.

            It started decently enough, floating around the hardwood floors with something close to wonder on your face. With floor to ceiling windows in the living room, it felt as if you could reach out and touch the snow covered pines that were just before you. The fire on the back wall hissed, heat puffing through the room and licking the back off your ankles almost affectionately.

            “Kitchen’s through ‘ere,” he muttered, waving you to follow him.

            As hard as it was, you pulled yourself away from the window and followed the echoing of his footsteps. The floor plan was open, something you admired about the cabin. It somehow made the place seem bigger— not that it was small by any means. Lighter, more open, perhaps. With the stainless steel appliances and cozy breakfast nook, you shot Niall a grin.

            “No wonder you’ve kept us all away. We’d never leave.”

            He chuckled, shaking his head and backing himself up into the counter. “You’ve not even seen the bedrooms yet.”

            “Oh?” A blush, that had no business being there, sprouted over your cheeks.

            He grinned at you, a cocky smirk crossing those pink lips. “Mmmhmm. Follow me.”

            He waved you on again and you followed in his wake, steps creaking over the wood. He moved down a long hallway, hooking to the left and up the stairs. The hall was small but was equipped with three bedroom doors. With a silent wave, he gestured you to explore.

            The first room was simple enough. Large bed, chest, table and large windows, it painted a very pretty picture of the cabin in the woods. The next room was grander, the top of the bed covered in thin white linen that hung down the sides carelessly, but added a sensuality to the room that the other lacked. There was a small balcony with large double doors that beckoned you to visit. It would be wonderful to sleep with the doors cracked tonight, you thought, letting the fresh mountain air in.

            “You can sleep in here,” he said from behind you, his breath stirring the hair at the nape of your neck. “I figured you’d like the bed.”

            “Oh, oh. Okay.”

            “Want to see my room?”  His blue eyes were wide and maybe the slightest bit mischievous in the dim hallway.

            “Sure.”

            He opened the last door and beamed at you. “My castle.”

            Castle, it was. The bed was twice the size of the others in a deep mahogany. The bedspread was a pristine white, matching the snow outside. You moved about the bed, staring down at the red sheets that screamed out at you. Niall was not overly sensual, and the thought of his pale skin against those red sheets had you blushing for an entirely different reason.

            The door off to the side led to a bathroom that had you nearly weeping in relief. The dark stone tub that sat in the corner coaxed you to come closer and to have a soak, warm up your cold muscles and relax.

            “Grand, isn’t it? Love having a soak at night before bed.” Again, his voice was too close to your ear and you skirted him, leaving the bathroom and back into the kitchen where the ground was more neutral.

            “This place is amazing. What time are the other’s meant to be here?”

            He checked his phone, thumb moving over the screen as he paged through his texts. He read for a while and whatever news he received had not been pleasant.

            “They aren’t. It’s snowing back home. Looks like it’s going to reach us now,” he murmured.

            He brushed past you and back into the living room to the large window that took up the far wall. He should have looked small against such a large window, but he was all you saw. Hands tucked in his pockets, rounded shoulders and a strong back, Niall seemed to eat up another wise large space. When the flakes began to fall, he sighed. They had called for snow, but it wasn’t supposed to come until later in the night, close to early morning.

            “It’s just us then?” you squeaked, thinking back to the intimate bedrooms that lingered just up the stairs.

            “Looks like. We can head out in the morning if this blows over.” He turned and faced you, a lop sided grin over his face. “Until then, we’re in for the night. Any ideas?”

            Any ideas? Any ideas? You were full of ideas. Clad in his dark maroon jumper and dark jeans, he looked so warm and so inviting.

            “Why don’t we pop in a movie?” he asked instead and shutting down the images of you both curled on the couch under a heavy blanket.

            “Sure,” you sighed in defeat. “Why not?”

                        ———

            The night passed without hiccup. Laying in your bed and hearing Niall moving around in the room next to you caused some form of distress but other than that, you slept soundly. When you woke and rubbed the sleep out of your eyes, you stumbled your way down the cold wooden steps and into the kitchen to start a kettle.

            “Shit.”

            The muffle curse had you pausing as you filled the kettle and lifting your head. Setting it aside, you moved down the hall to the front door.

            “Niall, what are you doing?” A shiver had you wrapping your arms around yourself, pulling the ends of your sweater down over your fingers.

            “Look at this!” he spluttered, gesturing to the wall of white before you.

            “Holy shit is right.” You brushed past him, looking at the now nearly invisible car that sat in the drive way. “How much snow do you think we got?”

            “An easy two foot. We won’t be leaving today.”

            In a way you were almost glad for it. It was rare that you had any time alone like this with Niall, and now you were able to take advantage of it. He slammed the front door, kicking off the snow that clung to the end of his sweats. He looked adorably rumpled and you couldn’t stop the smile that spread across your face.

            “Quit smiling like that at me,” he laughed, giving you a light shove. “We’re going to die out here in the wilderness. Alone.”

            “You’re a drama queen, has anyone ever told you that? We aren’t going to die,” you said, leading him into the kitchen. “I’m quite resourceful.”

            “Oh? And what’re you gunna do then?” he asked, bracing himself on the counter. He watched you lift the kettle off the stove and pour it into two matching mugs.

            You smiled at him, sliding his mug of tea before him. “Don’t worry. I’ll take care of you.”

            He snorted before he took a small sip of his tea. “Right, like that’ll happen. Would you like to chop the wood for the stove, princess?”

            You sat your mug aside and grinned at him, arms spread wide. “Show me where you keep it.”

            He did laugh then. “Absolutely not. I’m a gentleman, I’ll not send you out there to freeze or get eaten by a bear or some such thing. I’ll chop the wood.”

            “You aren’t going alone,” you argued. “What if you get swept away in another storm?”

            Pointedly, he looked to the window which show cased a brilliant blue sky. “I think I’ll be fine,” he said in amusement.

            “Where you go, I go. I can help.”

            He studied you over the rim of his cup, the last bits of amusement clinging to his features. When he drained its contents, he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

            “Alright. Why don’t you go put some clothes on,” he said slowly, eyes raking down the thin shirt and low clinging bottoms you had on, “and meet me back down here in twenty?”

            Acutely aware of his skin brushing against your arm as he passed, you nodded. When he was clear of the room, you collapsed against the counter and released a breath you hadn’t realized you’d been holding.

            Your relationship with Niall…how to describe it? It started simply. Mutual friends led to hang outs that found you both together. From there, it transitioned into something like chemistry between the two of you. Like magnets, you seemed to pull together even when you didn’t mean to. And maybe, sure, there was a spark that seemed to go off when you were in a room alone together but there was nothing spoken about it. But here, locked away together indefinitely at the moment…

            “Get your shit together,” you chastised yourself. Sprinting up the stairs, you pulled off PJ’s and slid into your thermals and then tugged your jeans on top. Niall had demanded that you bring snow pants. It seemed ridiculous at the time, but now you were grateful for is suggestion. Working last night’s tangles from your hair, you tied it back into a pony tail and grabbed your sweater.

            “Come on, lumberjack!” he hollered up the stairs. “Let’s go get some wood.”

            Wobbling down the stairs, you met him by the front door. “I’m ready!”

            He stared at you for a moment, working his tongue over his teeth in thought. He grabbed a hat off the coat rack and slipped it down over your pony tail.

            “You look kind of cute,” he grinned, giving your scarf a tug. “Cutest lumberjack I’ve ever seen.”

            “Tell me, do you find yourself in the company of many lumberjacks?”

            “I might have to start,” he laughed. “Smart ass. Come on.”

            You followed him out, immediately sinking into the powder on the ground. The sun broke the few remaining clouds and greeted you both. Niall took a long arm and brushed the snow back from the car, revealing a frozen windshield.

            “What a mess,” he muttered, working more of the snow back. “Could you help with this?”

            “I could. I could,” you said pensively. “Or, we could leave the car because the snow on the trees is just going to cover it back up and you and I could do something fun.”

            His flushed cheeks poked out over the hood of the car and he met your stare with speculation. “Something fun? Like what? I thought you wanted to chop wood, little lumberjack.” He stood and brushed the snow off his black pants and moved towards you.

            The sun reflected off the snow and settled directly in his eyes. It left you almost breathless as he crossed the small space and stopped directly before you. Small flakes clung to his lashes and cheeks, making him look impossibly young and boyish and utterly, utterly adorable.

            “In due time,” you said as calmly as you could. “I think we should take advantage of this. We did come up here to sled and snowboard, so why don’t we do it?”

            He pulled his glove off and reached his hand out to your cheek. “Snowflakes,” he said softly, brushing the snow away.

            Could he hear your heart beating? You were almost sure that he could. High up in the mountains, you were sure the entire valley could hear the erratic pulses inside your chest.

            “You’re going to be a bad influence on me, I can feel it,” he teased, casting one last look back at his car.

            “You have,” you said slowly, eyes flicking to his, “no idea.”

            His breathing hitched and his eyes fell to your lips. His gaze lingered there for a moment, his tongue darting out to lick his lower lip.

            You returned his smirk and took a step back, causing him to stumble forward an inch.

            “So sledding?” you asked on a small laugh.

            “Right,” he huffed, plowing a hand through his hair. “Sledding.”

            ———————-

            Niall loved to laugh. Everyone knew that. He had one of those faces that simply stated he was a happy person but today, out on the hills with you, he had never laughed so hard in his life. His laugh bounced off the trees, the open hills and into the sky where only happy memories were held.

            “How’s your arse?” he asked, biting back another laugh. He led the way back to the house, his tired muscles dragging back the sleds he had fetched from the shed earlier that day.

            You turned and glared at him, hand falling protectively to the bum that had taken the brunt of too many falls. “It’s fine.”

            “You sure? You wiped out pretty hard trying to stand and sled.”

            He’d never forget how you looked standing on the bright red sled with your hands in the air and your laughter riding on the wind. He stood on top of the hill, arms folded across his chest with something he didn’t like starting to bloom inside his chest.

            “The snowboard was broken. What else was I supposed to use?” you grumbled, dropping your wet gloves by the front door.

            “You probably just should have sat down.” He tugged his hat off, brushing his blonde hair out of his eyes. Both of you were soaked through from wiping out on the hills.

            “Whatever. It worked well for a while.”

            He watched you shrug off your jacket, untie your scarf and shimmy out of your giant snow pants. You brought your bright eyes to his and suddenly damn, did he truly see you. Bright, happy eyes, flushed, cherry red cheeks. Glistening lips, damp hair, an exhausted body that was cold and frozen through but yet you were still laughing. Had he never seen you until this very moment with snow still clinging to your hair?

            “I can’t feel any part of my body,” you shivered, brushing the last of the snow from your shoulders.

            “You can use my tub if you’d like,” he said hoarsely. The glimmer in your eyes told him he had suggested the right thing. “I’ll fix it up for you, just give me a minute.”

            This time, when he brushed past you, he dropped his hand to your hip and gently moved you out of the way. His skin burned against the frozen flesh of your hip and radiated straight up into your chest.

            ————————-

            Two hours and a soak in Niall’s tub later, you found yourself finally with feeling back in your fingers and toes. His tub had been glorious, he’d even lit a candle or two with you. His shampoo bottles lined the lip and you’d washed with those, hoping he wouldn’t mind.

            Smelling like him, you slipped on your leggings and sweater and trotted back down the stairs and into the living room. Niall was hunched over, feeding more logs into the fire.

            “When did you chop that?” you asked accusingly, pointing to the massive pile of wood on the floor.

            “When you were showering,” he tossed you a grin over his shoulder. “I couldn’t wait for you to finish up. I was actually going to check and see if you’d drowned.”

            “I was going to help!”

            “I know, lumberjack princess. This is just for tonight, you can chop tomorrows.”

            You eyed the large pile of wood speculatively. That was just for tonight? Niall added the last log and stood back, brushing his hands on his jeans. He’d showered, you’d realize. The ends of his hair were still damp. When he turned to face you, he frowned.

            “Aren’t you cold? That sweater isn’t very thick.”

            You glanced down to the white sweater that clung to you. It wasn’t that thick, no, but with the fire roaring you were sure you’d be plenty warm.

            “It’s alright,” you shrugged.

            He sighed and tugged the sweater he was wearing off and handed it to you. “Put this on. The temperature is just going to drop more and you’ll be freezing in a few hours.”

            You stared at the navy fabric for a long moment before slipping it on over your head. It smelt like his shampoo, body wash and cologne and it was enough to have your heart doing an odd little two-step in your chest.

            “Thanks,” you said softly, face turned into the collar of his sweater.

            You were sure you’d heard him curse as he looked at you, clad in his jumper but you couldn’t be sure. Left in a simple thermal, Niall rubbed his hands together.

            “You’re welcome. Are you hungry? We can make dinner if you’d like.”

            With a nod, you followed him into the kitchen. It felt very intimate all of the sudden in the small room. Between the two of you bumping into each other reaching for items and the music Niall had put on, you felt overly warm in his sweater. He must have felt it too, because he could hardly look at you.

            “I heard from Harry,” he blurted suddenly.

            “Oh?” Overly bright an optimistic, you’d answered him immediately.

            “Yeah, they’re still stuck back home. We might be here a few days.”

            “A…few…days…” you said breathlessly, hands pressed to your face.

            A few days locked away in a private, romantic cabin with Niall? What could possibly happen?

            —————

            Two a.m. found you restless and frozen in front of the fire in the living room. You’d dragged the comforter from your bed down the stairs like a cape and added a few more logs to the fire like you’d seen Niall do earlier.

            With a shiver on your lips, you curled up into the plush, chocolate brown material of the couch. Your bedroom had been freezing and there weren’t enough blankets in the world to keep you warm up there.

            “You too?”

            You looked up over the top of the couch, eyes falling on a shivering Niall. His arms were wrapped around himself and his shoulders rose to touch his ears.

            “Yes, come here!” You lifted your blanket, letting a bit of your precious warmth escape you as you made room for Niall.

            He sat beside you, his thigh aligned with your thigh, his arm flush with yours and his shoulder just behind your back. “God, it’s fuckin’ freezin’ here.”

            “I know.” You burrowed back down into the couch, eyes on the flames before you.

            “Sorry you’re so cold. Sorry you’re stuck here with me in the middle of nowhere.”

            “Don’t say that,” you whispered quietly. If anything, you were more than pleased to be locked away with him in the middle of nowhere while the snow fell.

            “Why not?”

            “Because I don’t mind being here. With you.”

            “Oh.”

            You didn’t need to turn your head to know he was looking at you, only you wondered what it was he was seeing when he looked at you. Finally, unable to take the weight of his gaze, you blinked up at him.

            “I’m glad you’re here, too,” he said just as softly, as if he was afraid of what the full volume of his voice would do to those words.

            Your cheeks were no longer just warm from the flames of the fire, but from the man beside you who seemed to unnerve you with the slightest gaze. When the tips of his fingers brushed the top of your hand, you held your breath.

            He waited a beat, watching your face for any sign of discomfort. When he saw none, he turned your hand over and linked his long fingers through yours. Beside the crackling of the fire, your shaky exhale was the only noise that filled the room.

            “Your hands are cold,” he said, bringing your clasped hands out from the blanket.

            “Yes.” Such a simple word but as it passed through your lips, it felt like you were answering a much more serious question.

            “Let me see the other.” He turned, fully facing you now as he took both of your small, frozen hands in his and brought them to his mouth. “Can’t have the princess of the lumberjacks frozen,” he said ruefully.

            You didn’t laugh. There was hardly anything funny about your skin on his mouth and his hot breath bringing feeling back into your hands. Your face felt overly warm, your heart seemed to take on a  tune of its own and the butterflies in your stomach started to dance to the beat, sending your body into a state of disbelief. He continued to breathe on you, his eyes never leaving yours, as if you could look anywhere else but his face

            “Better?” he asked after sometime, his lips still moving against your knuckles.

            Mutely, you nodded. What could you possibly say? He seemed so calm, so utterly unnerved by what had just transpired between the two of you. With the shadows of the fire licking over his jaw and highlighting the dark flecks in his eyes, he didn’t seem real to you. The sparks you’d felt with him before had ignited in their own way, and there was a separate fire roaring between the two of you.

            “Good. We can sleep here tonight.”

            He didn’t let go of your hands as he settled back. Instead, he used them to pull you into his chest and in another moment of awe, you pressed your cheek to his chest and were stunned to find that his hearts erratic beats matched yours. Could it be possible, you wondered, that the things you felt Niall was feeling, too?

            “Sleep well, princess.”

            ——————-

            When you lifted your heavy lids, the space where Niall occupied was empty. Despairingly, you reached over to the pillow and instead of feeling warmth, only felt coldness. Had he left you at some point during the night?

            Groaning, you dropped your face into your pillow. How could you have been so ridiculous? There was no way he could have been feeling what you felt. If he had felt what you’d been feeling…

            “You’re awake.”

            His voice had you lifting your head from the pillow, hair falling into your eyes. He chuckled, ducking down to meet your gaze. In his hands were two mugs of steaming hot tea and he offered one to you.

            “Thanks,” you croaked, wondering how long he’d been standing there.

            “Breakfast is on.” He sat on the end of the couch and watched you brush your hair out of your eyes. Curling both hands around your mug, you took a tentative sip. Niall, somehow or other, made the world’s best cup of tea.

            He studied you for a moment, the image of your sleepy arms reaching for him stuck in his mind on a loop. He thought back to last night, the look on your face when he pressed your hands to his lips to breathe on them. In that moment, your eyes confirmed everything he’d been asking himself for months. You felt it. You felt what he felt and he hardly knew what to do with himself.

            “Sleep okay?” you asked, needing some sort of noise to fill such an intimate silence.

            “Like a baby,” he smiled, sipping his tea. “You?”

            “Yeah, slept great.”

            He hid his smile behind his mug. Damn, you were so cute and so fucking shy it nearly destroyed him, He offered his hand to you and pulled you to your feet.

            “Good, because you’ll need that energy to chop wood today.”

            When he pushed a plate of bacon and eggs in front of you, you greedily gulped it down. You couldn’t wait to get outside and do something with the frenzy of energy inside you because it was either chop wood or kiss Niall, and at the time, the sharp axe seemed like the safer option of the two.

            ————-

            “You put your hands like this,” he explained, gripping the handle of the axe. “You want to have some distance between the two so you have better control of the axe. Watch.” He waved you back and raised the axe over his head. With a grunt, he swung it down and splintered the log in half and sending the pieces flying.

            “Jesus Christ,” you muttered, hands pressed to your eyes.

            Out of breath and full of charm, Niall handed the axe to you. “Think you can handle it?”

            The insinuation in his words didn’t go unnoticed past you. He wasn’t talking about chopping wood anymore.

            You didn’t answer him as you took the axe from his hand and brushed past him. You grabbed a fresh log and put it on the stand. Spreading your hands out like he showed you, you brought the axe down. It split the log into pieces on the first try and fell lamely to the side.

            “Damn, alright. Maybe you were a lumberjack in another life.”

            You made no comment as he put another piece before you. You continued to chop through the wood, movements becoming more desperate as you went. Your breathing was ragged, jerky, panicked and tears blinded your eyes for some unknown reason. Did he know? Was he teasing you because he knew what you felt or him?

            On a near yell, you split the last log into pieces and dropped the axe. You stalked back inside ripping your gloves off as you went.

            “What’s wrong?” he asked, chasing you down and into the house.

            “Nothing. Nothing is wrong,” you said brusquely.

            “You won’t even look at me, what happened?” He grabbed your arm and spun you around and froze at the expression on your face.

            You looked so damn hurt, so damn broken down that it took the breath out of his lungs. Had he caused this? He replayed the things he’d said, the things he’d done and couldn’t come up with anything he did wrong.

            “I’m going to take a shower.” You pulled your arm away from his hand and dashed up the stairs.

            He stared at the empty stair case for a long moment, hands on his hips. There’d been a lot of things Niall didn’t tell you, a lot of things he kept beneath the surface. You’d always had a teasing relationship together and today was the first time he saw it causing any distress. He knew what you felt, it was in your eyes and in your hands and in the curve of your body as he pulled you to him last night. Had he been indelicate to such a precious heart?

            Left to his own thoughts, he moved back outside to gather the wood you had destroyed.

            He didn’t see you the rest of the night. You kept to your room and didn’t come down to eat dinner with him. He sat in front of the fire and forced himself to be honest. He sat his dirty plate aside and grabbed the leather bound book he kept on his person at all time. He flipped through the pages, scribbles and harried words jumping out as he searched for a clean page. His guitar was beside him, his one consolation during any time of distress.

            The words on the page, they were written for you. Almost everything in this old book was written for you from the first moment you walked into the bar and out of the rain.

            He’d seen you almost on accident, really. He’d looked up just as a glass broke and his eyes fell on the girl who slowly peaked her head in the door and stepped inside the warmth of the bar. He’d leaned his weight on his cue stick, hip on the pool table and he watched you sweep the room and stop directly at Harry’s feet.

            He had watched as Harry embraced you, kissed your cheek and talk animatedly to you. He didn’t know how Harry knew you, he didn’t much care. He’d dropped his cue and crossed the room, eyes still on you.

            When he had stopped before you and your eyes swung to his, he was done. He knew he was done. He didn’t know how, he didn’t know why but the second your eyes met his something inside him clicked into place.

            “Niall, this is my friend (y/n),” Harry had said happily. “Her mum and my mum are mates.”

            “Hi,” you’d said, smiling timidly up at him, unaware that the world had just tilted on its axis.

            “Hi,” he said just as softly, eyes never leaving yours.

            He’d been done for since. He tried, damn did he try and find someone else to occupy his thoughts but you had ruined him for any other love. He made sure to ask Harry if you were coming to any event planned and he would rearrange his schedule to make sure he found himself in the same room as you, talking quietly at the bar.

            “What’re you doing?” Your soft voice broke him from his thoughts and he lifted his head, snapping the book shut with a flick of his wrist.

            “Just writing some stuff.”

            “New songs?” you asked, pulling the sleeves of your sweater down over his hands. Niall smiled when he realized you still had his jumper on.

            “Something like that. You look cold.”

            “I am,” you admitted, sitting down beside him and pulling a blanket down over your lap. “And I heard you moving around. I couldn’t sleep.”

            He said nothing as he picked his guitar up and strummed a few chords before settling back. “Want me to play you something?”

            Your timid smile was all he needed. He selected a song from memory, calloused hands sliding down the frets with expert grace and the small room was suddenly much warmer with his honeyed voice.

            You watched him in silence, the way his entire body moved when he played and sang. He was hypnotizing, he always had been since the first time you’d met him. As soon as you walked into the bar, you could feel someone staring at you and when you looked at the man who was staring at you so intently, it had you pausing and trying to take a decent breath. It’d been like that since, trying to breathe when he was around.

            “Tell me a secret,” he said suddenly. The clock on the mantle chimed two a.m., and you’d begun to think that you and Niall could make a tradition of your two a.m. rendezvous.

            “A secret, hmm. I never learned how to ride a bike.”

            He rolled his eyes and sighed. “That’s not a very good secret. I’ll have to teach you sometime.”

            “Well you tell a good secret then,” you prompted in mock disgust, “see if you can do better.”

            His smile was secretive and the glint that came into his eyes had you dropping your own to your lap in a nervous gesture.

            “Do you think it’s possible to love someone so much you can’t even breathe?” he asked you suddenly, hands still moving over the frets but his eyes on you.

            “That’s not a secret,” you said, heart lodged in your throat.

            “Answer it.”

            “I think so, yes,” you whispered quietly, afraid to look at him.

            “Do you think it’s possible to love someone so much you can’t lift your eyes to them, for fear everything will be in them?”

            “Yes,” you said thickly, still unmoving. “Yes, I do.”

            “Do you think it’s possible to fall in love in with someone the first moment you look at them?”

            “Niall.”

            “Do you?”

            “Yes,” you finally answered.

            “Look at me,” he demanded. The music stopped, the games ended. “Lift your eyes. Look at me.”

            “I can’t,” you shook, arms wrapping around yourself. If you looked at him, if you lifted his eyes, he would see it all. He would see every laugh, every touch, every secret moment you stole looking at him when he didn’t notice and he would see that you’d fallen in love with him.

            “Are you afraid you won’t see what you feel in my eyes? I can promise you that you will.” He dropped his guitar and slid over, hands wrapping around yours. “How could you not have seen it? It was always there, I never hid it. If anything, I’ve fallen in love with you more in the last three days. Watching you sled down that hill…seeing you reach for me in sleep…how you look in my sweater and the look you get in your eyes when you think I don’t see…how could you not see it? How could you not feel what I felt?”

            “I don’t…I don’t know…”

            “When I breathed on you, when I kept you warm, did you not feel it?” he asked gently, hands sliding up your arms to touch your neck. “Jesus, you’re so warm.”

            You placed your hands over top of his, still unable to lift your eyes from the threads in the blankets. “Niall…”

            “So in love with you,” he whispered brokenly. “I have always been so in love with you.” His hands cupped your cheeks and he raised your head and there, in those eyes he loved so much, were the words you couldn’t find the ability to speak. “There I am,” he whispered, just before he dropped his mouth to your lips.

            The kiss started slowly, the light pressure of his mouth over yours. The sharp breath you sucked in nearly had his body igniting. When your hands gently found their way to his chest, he slid his arm around your waist and lifted you, sliding you across his lap where he could hold you the way he always dreamed of holding you.

            “Tell me,” he murmured against your mouth. “Tell me.”

            “I love you,” you said on an exhale, forehead pressed to his. “I love you so much I’m afraid it’s going to break me.”

            He smiled against your mouth and let his fingers run through your hair. “Ah, my lumberjack princess,” he murmured, kissing you once more. “Don’t you know that I’d never let anything break you?”

            “How could anything break me,” you whispered, “when you have completed me so fully?”

            He stared at you a long moment, lips swollen and plump from yours. His eyes roamed your face, softened by the fire and the love in your eyes and he knew that you’d just cracked him open, taken his heart for your own and left him only with the shared breath between your bodies.

            “You have ruined me,” he whispered brokenly. “For all my life, I’m yours. I could never belong to anyone to the way that I belong to you.”