Niall always prided himself on being a neat, organized individual. Everything he owned had a place, and if it didn’t have a place he would find one, or else just chuck it because it wasn’t important enough. He had existed this way since he was little, keeping his toys in order and the rest of the house picked up. It was crucial because he’d grown up with his father, and Bobby hardly had the time or the desire to clean up Niall’s room for him. Thus, he’d adapted to a clutter-free lifestyle.
He’d done well at maintaining that lifestyle up until the point he met Harry. He’d quickly fallen in love with his mind, his spirit, and his awkward, tall, lanky body. Harry was a bit disorganized but they each had their own place so it wasn’t that much of a problem. Besides, tidiness could be taught and Niall decided that he would just try to rub off on Harry as much as he could. The sacrifice was worth it for someone so pretty.
It wasn’t that Harry was particularly messy or dirty, but more that he had a slight hoarding problem, and he wasn’t even all that aware of it. The majority of it was based on sentimental value: ticket stubs from the show they went to on their third date, the receipt from a meal that Harry had with his father three years prior on his birthday… There was a point to it all, though he’d yet to find a proper place for all of his things.
Therefore, the day Niall and Harry decided to move in together, Niall felt it best to lay down some ground rules:
Dirty laundry goes in the laundry hamper, clothes that could be worn again get hung back in the closet or placed back in drawers.
Watched DVDs are to be placed back in their appropriate cases and filed back on to the shelf in alphabetical order.
Keys always get dropped in to the dish by the front door.
There is a designated box in the closet for sentimental bits and bobs called ‘Harry’s Box of Treasures’ and that is where they belong.
It worked wonderfully in the beginning, and Niall even added to the list as he saw fit. It was common sense, really, and Harry expressed how much easier life was when he actually knew where things were.
However, in the midst of their domestic bliss, they had somehow acquired an atrocious monstrosity in their kitchen known as a 'junk drawer’. He wasn’t sure how it had happened, though it could have only been Harry’s fault. The drawer just beside the sink was a catch-all drawer, filled with tech chargers, some of which didn’t even work anymore, take-out menus for just about every restaurant on the block, as well as things like scissors, tape measures, and oddly enough a phallic-shaped cookie cutter (that Harry swore wasn’t his).
Niall hated the junk drawer with a passion, though every time he tried to give it some purpose or order, it ended up being a completely useless task. A couple of days later the drawer would once again be in disarray. He quickly realized he was fighting a losing battle and gave up, only because it was a mess that he couldn’t actually see during his every day routine. He stayed as far away from the drawer as possible, giving Harry the job of diving in there should he ever have need of anything junk-related.
The problem with that, however, was that every time it was Harry’s turn to clean, he used the drawer as a receptacle for just about anything that he was unsure of. Things Niall actually used on a regular basis would suddenly go missing, only to turn up a week later hiding in the godforsaken drawer.
“Harry!” Niall whined as he sauntered in to the living room. He spotted his boyfriend seated on the couch with his laptop, clicking away on what appeared to be his Twitter profile where he stalked and fangirled over his favourite celebrities.
“Niaaallll!” Harry whined back, craning his neck to look at him. “What’s up, buttercup?”
Niall frowned at being mocked. “Have you seen my flash drive?”
He watched the cogs turn in Harry’s head, could almost see the file folders of his mind being sorted through one by one. His processing speed was endearing on every other occasion, though in that particular moment, not so much.
“Flash drive?” He finally asked in his deep, confused voice.
Niall sighed. “You know, the little stick that I practically sleep with that has every piece of work I’ve ever done on it?”
Another moment before Harry replied: “Oh, your flash drive. Yeah, no, I haven’t.”
Niall knew he would soon have to make more adjustments to his house rules, because the kind of situation they had found themselves in was happening more and more frequently and he didn’t like it. “Well, then help me look for it. It’s probably your fault it’s missing anyways!”
“Hey, now!” Harry fired back, rising from the couch. “That’s hardly fair!”
Niall ignored him and ducked in to the kitchen, remembering that he’d spotted the little chunk of plastic the day before by the stove while he’d been cooking. It was the last place he could recall seeing it. However, as his eyes roamed over the counter tops, he saw nothing out of place. The kitchen had been cleaned, the flash drive obviously moved.
It was at that point that Niall’s eyes landed on the column of drawers next to he sink.
He sighed heavily. He’d have to do it.
Begrudgingly, he whipped open the junk drawer, disturbing the contents inside. He not-so-carefully shoved aside old power cords and used batteries, looking for the familiar blue casing of his beloved USB key. It had audio samples that he’d done as far back as two years before when he was still in uni, as well as more recent mixed tracks from the studio he worked at. “I swear, if I find the damn thing in this drawer, our relationship is over!” He called out to Harry, only half joking.
There was a pause, and then Niall heard the sound of heavy foot falls coming towards the kitchen. “Leave it be! Don’t go in the drawer!” He heard Harry shout, just as his fingers connected with something hard and velvety tucked at the very back of the small space. He grasped it tightly and pulled it out, revealing a small, black velvet box, like the kind you’d get from a fancy jewelry store.
Niall felt his heart flutter in his chest as he stared at it, turning it over in his hands. He had a strong feeling that he’d stumbled on to something that he wasn’t meant to see. It was in that moment that Harry skidded through the kitchen door, clutching the counter to keep from wiping out in his hurry. He saw the box in Niall’s hand and his eyes widened, a look of horror appearing on his face.
Niall felt the dread pool in the bottom of his stomach. “I… I’m sorry!” He squeaked. “I’ll just, I’ll put it back!” Though as he reached forward, he was stopped by a hand on his arm.
“No,” Harry said firmly. “It’s, uh, it’s a bit late for that.” His initial shock had melted away to a look of calm acceptance. “Why don’t you… Why don’t you open it?”
Niall froze, looking between his boyfriend of five years and the powerful little object in his hand. In his heart he knew what it was, there was no doubt in his mind, and the reality of it made it difficult to breathe. His cheeks had begun to burn and his throat had gone dry. “No,” he shook his head. “I really don’t want to.”
Ever so gently, Harry pried the small box from Niall’s hand, looking down at it fondly. The kitchen had become deathly quiet. He cleared his throat. “Niall Horan,” he began. “You are quite a handful sometimes.”
Niall made a strangled noise in his throat, completely unprepared for what he knew was about to happen. “Harry -”
“Shh, let me finish!” The taller boy placed a finger against his lips. “A handful, yes, but a handful of exactly everything that I need. You are honest, and loud, and loyal to a fault. You are the complete opposite of me sometimes, but only where it counts as far as my tidiness and coordination is concerned. I was planning on making this a bit more extravagant, a bit more romantic, though your unrivalled determination and borderline obsessive cleanliness forced my hand a bit. Though, when I think about it, we’ve always been a bit spontaneous, haven’t we?”
Niall nodded furiously, feeling the sting of tears behind his eyes. He had no idea how he’d managed to be completely oblivious to what was going on. He was always the one in control, the one who knew everything that was going on. His constant awareness allowed Harry the freedom to be a bit flighty and out there, and yet Niall had had no idea what he had been planning right under his nose.
He held his breath as he watched Harry pry open the black box, revealing the thin, white gold band nestled inside, inset with a simple, tiny diamond.
“Ni, will you -”
He pushed himself up on to the balls of his feet and pressed his lips to Harry’s, effectively cutting him off. He fisted his hands in his ugly, hipster sweater, pressing their bodies as closely together as he could manage. Inside his chest it felt as if his heart might burst with the way it was slamming against his rib cage.
“Easy, there,” Harry chuckled as he pulled away, and hand on Niall’s shoulder keeping him back. “Still not letting me finish. Will you -”
“Yes,” Niall practically hissed. “Don’t be stupid, of course I will.”