"The thing about it is," says Harry, and he’s got one hand still in his hair, frozen in the act of pushing it further out of his eyes, "is that we’re sort of brothers, now. I’ve not had a brother, ever, you know—,"
"Most of us haven’t," Louis adds, mouth quirked in what could be a smirk or a smile; it’s hard to tell, with the way he’s looking at Harry and the way he keeps making cheeky remarks, leaning casually back against the couch and up into Liam’s side. Liam is rubbing casual circles into Louis’ shoulder.
"Yeah," Harry continues, grinning at Louis, eyes so brilliantly green and earnest that any trace of slyness seems to melt right off of Louis’ face. "And now we’ve each got four, haven’t we?"
"It’s incredible," Niall agrees, leaning out and away from his space beneath Zayn’s arm, eyes flickering between Harry and the interviewer, face serious yet smiling.
"It’s just… We started off, yeah, not knowing each other," Zayn says, and they all turn to look at him, Liam’s smile adoring and Harry’s hand stretching over to rub Louis’ knee, all of them shifting like grains of sand sliding through the neck of an hourglass. "And then we met each other, yeah, we knew, maybe. That we existed. But we didn’t—there’s no way we could’ve known." He meets Liam’s gaze. "I’d no idea, y’know, when I met Liam—," and Liam’s smile becomes a grin, crinkles fanning out around his eyes like rays of sunlight, "—that he’d be my best friend. I’d no idea I’d end up scaling buildings with Lou. It’s…," he trails off. Liam picks up the thread.
"It’s mad. I mean, incredible, like Niall said. But mad! These boys, they’re everything. Everything; and I didn’t even, I just—Louis, the other day. He said something, it was meant to be a joke," here Liam turns from Zayn to Louis, who has drawn his eyebrows down in puzzlement, "but he said, ‘I never asked for you people!’ It was a complaint, Harry’d just gotten ketchup all over him—,"
"Hey!" Harry protests, all slow, face fallen into a frown. Louis pats his knee but keeps his eyes on Liam, willing him to continue.
"But I kept thinking about that, keep thinking about it. We never asked for each other. It—we just kind of happened. We just kind of got each other. And it was, it’s—it’s like—,"
"We didn’t ask, but if we could’ve," says Louis, puzzlement gone, sharp features softened into something overwhelmingly fond as he looks at Liam, "we would have done. We would have asked for each other."
"Couldn’t have asked for better, to be honest," Niall confirms, with a quick, definite nod. "I mean, ‘course I wanted the music, the performing. Wanted it for myself. But this, these guys," and he shakes his head, and Zayn laughs and shakes him with a hand on his shoulder, all of the other boys positively beaming at him, "this is what I would have wanted, if I’d known."
Harry turns back to the interviewer, his body seeming to have melted a bit more into Louis’, all of them impossibly close on the single couch. The smile on his face is hugely satisfied.
"It’s all anyone would have wanted," he says, and every single one of them nods, arms around each other, legs tangled together, sides pressed into each other. Briefly, she sees it, the interviewer in the armchair off-camera, clipboard on her knees. She glances down at her list of prompts and sees only one word, leaping out of the last asked question: fate.
She sees it in the word, in the way they fall together, in the softness of their eyes as they watch each other. Sees the sand again, falling through the hourglass: grains small, amidst so many others, spread so far apart. Pushed closer and closer by time dragging down, funneling sand into the narrow space between then and now, before and after, maybe and absolutely. There. That’s it, that’s all there is to see: grains pulled together, crashing into each other—all falling in one direction.