19: Boyfriends and Brothers

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C H A P T E R   N I N E T E E N

Boyfriends and Brothers

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                  HARRY HELD A hand in the air above his head, widening his eyes at the group of his coworkers standing before him so that they knew he was about to move. At the appropriate time, he dropped the hand to cue them and sang along.

                  "Yes, Virginia, there's a Santa Claus. He's as real as hope and love. Look around and you'll find Santa Claus in the boundless world you're dreaming of."

                  When his eyes met Ella's, a pair of grins cracked on both their faces at the sound of everyone finally getting the harmonies right. They've worked on only this song for more than two meetings at this point, but it sounds like it's finally clicked.

                  "Even though you may not see him on his sleigh on Christmas Eve – yes, Virginia, there's a Santa Claus. It's true if you believe."

                  He couldn't believe not a single other person in the room has heard this song before he introduced it to them. He supposed he was glad that he did now, though at first he just included it because he figured it was as much of a staple Christmas song here as it was at the North Pole. The elflings love it. And it's perfect for carol singers, because the potential for incredible harmonies is everywhere. How could it be so forgotten?

                  After they finished the song without a single hitch, the entire group erupted in applause for themselves. Harry wasn't above joining them, and Ella met him at the front of the group to thank everyone for continuing to show up to the practices and work so hard. A date was set for their next practice, and then bodies trickled out of the room until just Harry and Ella were left.

                  "That went really well," she mused, beginning to stack the chairs they'd been using. "Took longer than I thought to perfect, but we've never had a group of carol singers sound so nice. It's worth it."

                  "This is how every group of carol singers should sound," Harry told her. "They're so good that they make people want to listen. And who wouldn't want to believe in Santa after such a fantastic rendition of 'Yes, Virginia'?"

                  "Do I sense a hidden agenda, Director Styles?"

                  He handed her the chair near him. "Not necessarily a hidden agenda, but I wouldn't mind the assistance, honestly."

                  "You're really hoping to turn your Grinch boyfriend into a believer of the big guy?"

                  "He's not my boyfriend. And... I mean, could it hurt to try?" Harry wondered, mostly to himself. Zayn had warned him to avoid the Christmas thing as Louis loathes it for more than one reason, but maybe Christmas is the one thing that Louis really needs. Everything feels right when you allow yourself to experience the magic that this holiday brings, and if anything that could only help Louis' case, not make it worse...right?

                  Harry didn't know. He was conflicted about it. He'd start with baby steps and hope for the best, but he wasn't sure how long he'd be able to keep hiding his secret from Louis. And he was afraid that the longer he kept the secret, the harder it would be for Louis to believe it unless Harry was somehow able to convince him to love Christmas as much as he did.

                  "Of course not. Just don't get your hopes up, you know? Expect nothing so that you won't be disappointed either way. That's what I usually do," Ella said, stacking up the last chair and then tugging her jacket on. "Want to grab food somewhere? My little one's at her grandparents' place for the night, so I actually don't have anywhere to be."

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