Chapter 12 ~ Smile

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“We’re live in thirty seconds,” a quick, anxious voice breathed in Louis’s ear.  He jumped slightly, the action only fortifying the hectic mass of butterflies whirring spasmodically in the pit of his stomach. 

“Th-thanks,” he breathed to the cameraman, his voice shaking horribly as his lips began to tremble.  An overwhelmingly bizarre mix of emotions was clashing about his head and chest; a mingled accumulation of anxiety, excitement, and eagerness jabbing chaotically into his mind. 

Along with the mix of feelings was a solid, unshakable aura of sheer shock. 

Less than two months ago—Jesus Christ, two months ago—he had been an ordinary lad living in the tiny city of Doncaster, South Yorkshire, the unknown, undiscovered boy who had been too afraid to step up and take his chance.  What would he have been doing in that moment, he wondered, if he had never stepped into that studio so many weeks ago and filled out the audition form?  He would probably be off getting pissed somewhere with Stan and Johnny, his old friends, or perhaps he would be babysitting the twins while his mother was busy at work.  Would he be sitting boredly at the foot of his bed, listening to music and dreaming of what it would be like to hear his own voice drifting from the headphones?  Would he be flipping through magazines, gazing longingly and desolately at the face of each celebrity, wondering how it would feel to see his figure printed across the airbrushed pages? 

But he wasn’t sitting in his lonely room.  He wasn’t gazing out his window, dreaming of what it would be like to be a star.  He was here, standing behind the curtains of the massive stage of the Fountain Studios arena, preparing to perform on international television and live before fifteen thousand people. 

What was more, he was standing beside the four most amazing people he could ever dream of sharing this moment with. 

To his left was Liam’s lean, tall form, his shoulders shaking slightly with nerves beneath the padded fabric of his leather jacket as he swallowed.  To Louis’s right was Niall, positively bouncing with excitement in his bulky sneakers, a nervous grin the size of the sun stretched across his pale lips.  Louis smiled slightly, relived that at least one member of the band was not melting on the spot with anxiety.

On Liam’s left was a very terrified-looking Zayn, his brown eyes impossibly wide with stress as he gazed fixatedly at his feet, his usually-tanned and flushed cheeks drained of any colour. 

And, of course, on Zayn’s other side was Harry.  Louis smiled goofily to himself as his eyes landed on the cheeky lad, running over his newly cut mop of curls.

A couple of hours before the show, a team of stylists had nearly kicked down the door of One Direction’s rehearsal studio, brandishing buzzing clippers and snapping pairs of scissors, and insisted astonishingly forcefully that each and every one of them get themselves into the dressing room “right that second.”  Apparently, the displeasing style of each lad’s hair was too much for each of the stylists to bear to look at from that point on, something for which Louis was admittedly grateful.  His previously wispy, shaggy head of hair had been shaped into a lightly tousled, much shorter style, one that may not have been as teasing or as voguish as Zayn’s new cut was, but was admittedly a great improvement.  Liam’s growing bangs and sideburns had been trimmed to neatly frame his face and forehead in what everyone was now calling “the Justin Bieber look.”  Niall, a massive Bieber fan, could not have possibly been more thrilled.  Speaking of Niall, his hair had undergone massive improvement; the previously shaggy and shapeless mass having been perfected to a much shorter, more sophisticated style, his dying job enhanced.  Each of the lads had personally breathed a sigh of relief when that mess of a hairdo had finally been put to rest. 

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