The Only Exception
summary: Y/n tries to write her wedding vows
“What are you working on over there?”
“Me? Oh nothing,” Y/n said, quickly covering up the journal she’d been writing in.
Not believing her for a second, Harry came closer to where she was laying on their bed in one of his threadbare sweaters and a pair of sweatpants with a hole in them. “You sure, love?”
The truth was she was working on her wedding vows. Y/n had never been one for public speeches or grand declarations of love, but at some point during the wedding planning process, Harry expressed how much he wanted to do personal vows instead of traditional ones. He didn’t beg or plead, but he didn’t have to. Y/n would do just about anything for Harry, so despite her fears, she said yes.
Now she and Harry were a week away from the wedding, and she had yet to write down a single word. Not because she didn’t love him, it was quite the opposite, actually. Y/n loved him so much she couldn’t find the right words to describe her feelings. He was the first person to really make her believe that love existed. Harry pretty much did the impossible. He took the barbed wire around your heart and didn’t let up until it was healed.
“Yep. Nothing to see here,” Y/n insisted. She didn’t need him knowing that she was failing at writing their wedding vows. Or worse, Harry was so sweet, he would probably help her write them.
“Well then. Permission to board? I am in need of a good snuggle.”
A snort escaped past Y/n’s nose as she laughed. “Why do you talk like that, you dork?” she asked, but she knew why.
Harry had a penchant for knowing when she was stressed and often tried to cheer her up by making her laugh. Instead of answering her, he waited for her answer.
Rolling her eyes, Y/n said, “Permission granted.”
Harry was quick to get on the bed with his fiance, immediately cuddling into her. Before nuzzling his nose against her neck, he peeked at the journal she’d been writing in. He smiled to himself as he read “Wedding Vows” in big letters at the top. It was blank, but Harry wasn’t worried. Y/n was a bigger romantic than she gave herself credit for.
“You’re gonna be my wife in just seven days, can you believe that?” he asked, voice muffled against her skin. Y/n was warm and smelled like lavender and sandalwood, a scent that charmed him the very first day they met.
“Not too late to back out, you know,” Y/n joked.
“Don’t say that,” Harry said, frowning at her.
“I was only kidding, H.”
“Mm. It was a bad joke.”
Y/n could be a bit of a pessimist when it came to love and relationships. It took her a long time to fall in love with Harry, and it took even longer to admit it to Harry and herself. Together they let down a lot of her walls, but she still liked to hide how she felt about things by joking about them.
Sighing, she tentatively began to play with the rings on Harry’s hands. “I’m sorry, you know how I get.”
“I do,” he said. “Care to tell me what's on your mind?”
Y/n sighed. “I…It’s not that I don’t think you love me, or that you’ll ever stop. You know I don't believe that. I just don’t want to end up like my parents.”
Harry said it like it was that simple, like nothing could ever possibly come between the two of them. He believed in their love for each other wholeheartedly, and despite her previous misconceptions and beliefs about love, Harry helped her believe in it too.
“I know, I’m sorry. This must be like the opposite of reassuring a week before our wedding,” she said.
Y/n wasn’t facing him, but she could tell Harry was smiling against her neck before he gave her a tiny kiss. “Not at all. I’m surprised I haven’t had to talk you off the proverbial ledge sooner.”
“Rude…but fair,” was all she said.
Turning around, Y/n faced her fiance. She took in the familiar planes of his face, his pointed nose and high cheek bones, his pink lips, his expressive eyes. How she managed to make a literal angel fall in love with her, she wasn’t sure, but she wasn’t about to complain. Y/n leaned her forehead against Harry’s, reveling in the feel of being close to someone, of being in love with someone.
“I love you. My first and only,” she said.
Harry grinned from the sheer openness with which Y/n spoke. Hearing those words shot a line of fireworks down his spine. She used to be so prickly and cynical about love, and he often felt proud (and maybe even a little smug) that he was the one to change her mind.
He leaned in to kiss her, then, holding her cheek gently in his hand. Y/n responded instantly. Her arms curled around his neck, her finger winding around the soft strands of his hair.
One of the first things she learned about Harry was that he had different kinds of kisses. There were the little ones. The tiny pecks that were reserved for places like her shoulders, her nose, her temples, and her hip bones. He’d give her those kisses if they were just hanging out with friends or on the couch watching TV; they were casual, loving kisses.
Then there were the sloppy kisses he’d smother Y/n with if he wanted something or just wanted to make her laugh; and the frenzied passionate ones when he pushed her up against a wall or pin her arms above her head before he had his way with her.
And then there were the slow kisses, the ones that told her he didn’t want to be anywhere else other than right there with her. He was so gentle, so deliberate, with each movement it made her toes curl. No feeling was more euphoric or reassuring than when Harry kissed her like this. She never wanted that feeling to ever go away.
Later that night Harry was fast asleep. Y/n was sitting up against the headboard of their bed, the lamp on her bedside table casting a warm glow over the journal in her lap.
“When I was younger, I had to watch my parents’ marriage fall apart. I watched them break each other’s hearts and swear off love, and from that moment on I swore I would never end up like them. I swore off love, if love even existed,” she wrote, her hand occasionally running through her fiance’s hair. “And I was content to live in loneliness, content to keep a comfortable distance between me and the rest of the world…”
“And then I met you,” she said, tearing up a little. She laughed, slightly embarrassed to be crying in front of a room filled with her and Harry’s closest friends and family. Her hands gripped the two sheets of paper that had her vows written on them. She went back and forth between looking at her vows and looking into Harry’s eyes. They’d been lined with tears since Y/n walked down the aisle, and while she had been able to hold it together for most of the ceremony, she was starting to lose her composure.
“Um…And—And even though I’d convinced myself that I was happy being alone, you showed me more love than I’d ever experienced and made me believe that I could love someone that much too. You proved to me that love wasn’t some dream or fantasy that only existed in a fictional world. No, you, H, you continued to shower me with so much love and affection until I had no choice but to believe in it and fall in love with you.
“I wasn’t an easy person to love back then, I know that,” Y/n said, trying to add a little humor to her voice. Harry saw right through it though and shook his head, mouthing the words, that's not true.
“I was skeptical, I was cold, and I rejected the mere idea of love at every corner. But you saw something in me that was worth loving, that was worth fighting for, and despite my cynicism and lack of belief, you—you patiently waited for me to realize that love wasn’t something to curse at or hate or run away from, but something to embrace and cherish. And I embraced you, Harry, and I never want to let go. I promise you that I will never let go.”
With a shaking hand, Y/n wiped her cheek. She didn’t dare look over at everyone who was watching her say her vows, but the room was so quiet that the only sounds that could be heard were her shaky breaths and the occasional sniffle.
Harry leaned over and kissed her forehead, an offering of comfort and a silent message to take her time until she was ready to continue. He knew how nervous Y/n had been to give this speech, so he gave her what little comfort he could as they stood together with the officiant. When she finally caught her breath, she continued.
“I don’t know what the future will hold, or what my life will look like next year, or in five years, or in fifty, but one thing I can promise is that I will never stop loving you. I will never curse at the wind or run away from you, ever.”
“What are we doing here, Y/n?”
“I want to be with you. I want to grow old with you, have kids, all of that. I don’t want that life with anyone else, I’m not in love with anyone else. I’m in love with you, and I’m not ashamed of that!”
Harry’s cheeks were red, and he looked angrier than Y/n had ever seen him before. The truth was she was in love with him too, but she couldn’t admit it. The idea of sharing herself so completely as to be in love with them petrified her. Her feelings were unfamiliar and terrified her to no end, and her first instinct was to run, to leave before that love fizzled out or blew away with the wind. It always did.
“I’m sorry, Harry, but I don’t feel the same way.”
“That’s bullshit, and you know it!” he said.
He surged forward to hold her hand in his own. He was so close that Y/n had no choice but to look him in the eye.
“Look me in the eye and tell me you’re not in love with me.”
“Harry, please let go of me, I can’t—”
Despite being upset, he wasn’t going to hold Y/n against her will. Harry dropped her hands unceremoniously and turned away from her, and that was the first time Y/n had ever truly felt her heart break.
“You can, but you won’t,” Harry said, his voice devoid of any emotion. Still not looking at you he said with a shaky breath, “I want you to love me the way I love you, but I can’t force you to. I thought if I showed you what real love looked like, you would believe me, but I—I realize now that that was foolish of me. I shouldn’t try to change you, and for that I’m sorry.”
“You can run. I know you want to. Just know that my love for you is real, and that I don’t think I’ll ever stop being in love with you.”
Y/n couldn’t stop the tears from running down her face, but she did exactly as Harry said. Without a single word other than, “I’m sorry,” she took her keys and left his house.
She didn’t know where to go. Not home, Harry’s things were everywhere there. So she drove aimlessly, sobs wracking her body every now and again.
Y/n didn’t want to be in love, didn’t believe in being in love. She told Harry that one of the first times they met. And yet he somehow broke down every barrier, every wall she had ever put up around her heart, and that was the single most terrifying thing she would ever feel—her heart stripped bare, unguarded for Harry to do with as he pleased.
As she drove, her heart cried out for one person, the only person she knew could make all of this pain go away, if she only let him. Falling in love was something Y/n vowed she would never do, yet somehow she fell in love with Harry, the first and only person she’d ever been in love with.
In a split-second decision, Y/n turned the car around. She raced back to Harry’s place, back to him. She hoped that she didn’t make irrevocable damage, but wouldn’t be surprised if she did.
Letting herself in with her keys, she let herself into a dark house. Y/n checked a couple rooms before going to his bedroom. He was lying on the bed facing away from her, but she couldn’t tell if he was asleep or not.
Hesitantly, she took off her shoes and her jacket and walked over to him. Harry’d eyes were closed, but she opened up the covers and slid into bed with him anyway. And when he immediately wrapped his arms around her, something in her settled, the last piece of a puzzle falling into place.
“I love you,” she whispered. “And I’m so scared.”
“I know.” Harry’s voice wasn’t deep or scratchy the way it was after he’d been sleeping for a while, so he clearly has been awake when Y/n came in.
He didn’t really have to say anything else. He knew why she was so skittish around love, why she didn’t want anything to do with it. He loved her anyway, and was willing to wait as long as it took for her to comfortably say she loved him back.
“I’m sorry for running away from you and for saying I didn’t love you earlier.”
“But you came back,” he said softly. “Why?”
“Because…” Why did she come back? She had a hard time putting it into words. “Because you make me want to be in love, even though it terrifies me.”
Y/n finally turned in Harry’s arms so that she was facing him. It was too dark to make our any of his features, but she didn’t need any light to know what he looked like. His face had been scarred onto her heart so that she could never forget it.
“I can’t promise that I’ll be easy to love or that I’ll deserve it,” she said.
“Hey, hey. None of that,” Harry chided. “You deserve all of my love. Every last bit of it. Just—No more running, okay?”
“I promise to love you forever, Harry. Even on my darkest days, because you made me believe that love was something worth having in my life. So you are my love, my life, my heart and soul. My first and only.”
She’d said the last sentence directly to him, the rest of their audience falling away so it was just the two of them. A tear escaped and trickled down Harry’s cheek, and Y/n was quick to wipe it away with her thumb. He smiled against her hand and kissed it before he was instructed to say his vows.
“How on earth am I supposed to follow that up?” he muttered to himself, though with the microphone he was holding to say his vows, everyone heard him and laughed.
Taking a deep breath, Harry looked at Y/n and smiled. His green eyes were watery, but they were filled with so much joy it gave Y/n butterflies. He truly was her one and only, and by some miracle, she was his. Harry made her believe in love, and she couldn’t be happier because of him.