Chapter 12 ~ Smile

Start from the beginning

Louis had been quite surprised when one of the stylists had forced Harry into a chair and insisted that he was about to receive a proper haircut; he’d always thought harry’s hair was perfectly flawless as it was.  Sure, it might have been a little unruly and a little frizzy, but the look had seemed to suit him.  Nevertheless, to his greater surprise yet, Harry’s new cut had only improved his looks.  It was shorter, of course, but it seemed more….in control.  It made him look older, more sophisticated, and Louis was quite surprised with just how well it suited him. 

In any case, it was a very, very good thing that the stylists had gotten a hold of the lads before they’d had the change to go on stage.

“You ready?” the cameraman asked once more, and each boy nodded.  Louis glanced discretely down the line of lads, from Niall to Harry, and the last boy caught his eye as his head turned slightly.  Heart rocketing wildly about his throat, Louis felt a tiny smile pressing at the corners of his lips, and as Harry smiled back, those green eyes shining behind his mop of brown curls, a slight, barely noticeable sheen of calm settled lightly upon Louis’s shoulders.  That calm vanished, however, when he heard Simon’s booming voie announce, “One Direction!’ to the audience from behind the other side of the curtain.

An enormous swooping sensation whooshed past Louis’s middle, and he felt as if he were riding a rollercoaster as his stomach dropped.  His breath fell in quick, ragged pants from his parted lips as his eyes grew warm and his cheeks burned with adrenaline.  His heart pounded heavily and loudly in his ears as the enormous, mechanical gates fixed to the back of the stage parted, revealing the five lads waiting in place on the set of steps. 

As the Coldplay track began, reverberating deafeningly around the arena, the beat of Louis’s heart was drowned out, although he could still feel the wild pulse rocketing in his chest as he stepped forward, the microphone cradled carefully in his hands lest he drop it.  Swallowing, his throat feeling as if it were made of molten rubber, his jaw trembled as Liam opened his mouth and began to sing. 

“I used to rule the world; seas would rise when I gave the word.  Now in the morning I sleep alone, sweep the streets I used to own.” Louis wondered dimly behind the wave of surrealism dazing his senses how on earth Liam could force his voice to flow so calmly, when each of the lads was clearly scared out of his wits.  Louis glanced sideways, and sure enough, the microphone was shaking between Liam’s palms. 

“I used to roll the dice, feel the fear in my enemies eyes,” Zayn began, his voice perhaps not as strong as Liam’s had been.  “Listen as the crowd would sing, ‘Now the old king is dead, long live the king.’” 

Louis’s teeth clamped down on his lower lip as he struggled to keep himself together, and he vaguely remembered with a small jolt that he was supposed to be moving to the beat with the other lads.  Smacking himself mentally, he began to step forward in time to the music, cursing under his breath when he found that he was not in rhythm. 

“One minute I held the key, next the walls were closed on me, and I discovered that my castles stand on pillars of salt and pillars of sand,” Niall followed, and to Louis’s bewilderment, he turned to see and hear that absolutely no fear was in the voice or face of the Irish boy; he simply looked so incredibly thrilled.  At the sight of that broad grin and cheery blue eyes, Louis’s spirit lifted slightly, and he turned back to face the audience as he finally lifted the microphone to his mouth and began to sing.

“I hear Jerusalem bells a’ringing, Roman Calvary choirs are singing.  Be my mirror, my sword, and shield; my missionaries in a foreign field.  For some reason I can’t explain, I know St. Peter won’t cal my name.  Never an honest word, but that was when I ruled the world.”  As each and every member of the band came together to complete the first round of the chorus, voices and tones were heard that could not be discerned ordinarily.  Louis could hear the flawless, rich hum of Liam's voice; the overjoyed, excited trill of Niall's; the smooth, gentle whir of Zayn's; the heart-melting, gravelly melody of Harry's; and, of course, his own sweeter, more fluid voice.    

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