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Matt/Aiden Smart

A Good Idea at the Time, X-Factor Fic, RPS, Matt/Aiden

Title: A Good Idea at the Time
Word Count: 8,630
Rating: 12a I think, for bad language
Disclaimer: Not Mine - real people, in fact. And this almost certainly probably definately didn't happen.
Summary: Matt and Aiden get drunk and get married. That wouldn't be such a problem except everyone is so very happy for them that they can't bring themselves to admit that they aren't together and were simply drunk and annoyed with Simon Cowell. Very much inspired by several bits of several of the prompts on the marriage post - mainly I stole the line “You’ll live. It’s not as if you’re married to the boy,” and built a fic around that.
Author Note: The longest thing I've written in this fandom by far so I hope it is ok - it just kept getting longer! And apologies for the title, until about a minute ago it was simply entitled Maiden Marriage Fic so I had to think fast. Oh, and there is one particularly cheesy line that I can only apologise for.



“Fucking Simon Cowell,” Matt is saying again as he and Aiden leave the pub. No taxi will take them so they are left rambling along the sea front and Matt has returned yet again to his favourite topic. “Who does he think he is, saying who I can’t be friends with?”
“Too right,” Aiden says. He’s given himself a night off from being the slightly more sensible one, and he’s as drunk as Matt right now.

You’ll live. It’s not as if you’re married to the boy,” Matt sneers, his Simon Cowell impression getting worse as the night goes on. Aiden still giggles though, because he’s a good friend, and really very drunk.

“We should be married, that’d show him,” Aiden giggles again, falling against Matt.
“Yeah,” Matt agrees, propping Aiden up, “then you’d be allowed on tour with me, and we could go to pubs without Simon nagging. It’d be great.” Matt looks across at Aiden and behind him catches sight of a neon sign. 24hr Wedding Chapel. “Man, we should be married,” he points a wobbly finger across the road and Aiden follows his gaze.
“Cool,” he agrees happily, trotting across the road with Matt.

An hour later, shortly before they fall into bed, both men tweet.

is married to a total genius...get to hang out with matt tomorrow – bad luck mr cowell...name change to mr_cardle – thoughts??

class night...married aiden...maiden forever...love u man xXx !!!

***

Matt and Aiden are finally awoken the next morning by their phones going completely insane. Matt squints at the text messages he’s accumulated, not really understanding them and he can see Aiden doing the same.

“Man, how’s the head?”
“Pounding,” Aiden abandons his phone, lying back down and rolling over to face Matt. They are both fully clothed and clearly passed out on the bed last night, not even taking time to climb under the covers. “And confused,” he adds, and Matt looks down at him, having propped himself up against the wall.

“You getting some weird text messages too?”
“Yeah.”
“Do they mention marriage?”
“Yeah.”
“Oh.”
“We got married last night, didn’t we?”
“It seemed like a good idea at the time,” Aiden offers, shrugging, and Matt chuckles. Then they both register the other point.

“People know...”
“Fucking twitter...”
“Fucking us for drunk posting...”
“Maybe they won’t believe us...”
“Mum...”
“Joanna...”

The thought hits both men at once and the hangovers are temporarily forgotten as they race down stairs, desperate to get in between Aiden’s mum and the computer.

Too late.

“Morning boys,” she’s grinning at them and behind her they can see her twitter page. “Look at you two,” she hugs Aiden, then Matt. “Why didn’t you tell me? I can’t believe you got married and didn’t invite me. Tell me everything.” She pushes them both into chairs and starts making breakfast, bringing over cups of tea for the both of them. “You do realise you are going to have to do the whole thing again, proper family wedding, let everyone cry over how handsome the two of you look,” she kisses Aiden’s cheek before hugging him again. “So grown up.”

She looks like she’s going to cry, and she’s been speaking so fast neither man has managed to get a word in edgeways.

“We didn’t,” Aiden begins, but falters at the happy look on his mum’s face. All she’s wanted is for him to settle down with someone amazing, and he can’t bring himself to tell her that the whole thing was a drunken mistake.

“We didn’t plan for anyone to find out,” Matt comes to his rescue and Aiden smiles gratefully. “This was just for us, and to prove a point to Simon,” he adds as he recalls what started the whole thing off. Aiden clearly remembers too, and they grin at each other across the table, causing Joanna to sigh happily.

“I think word might have gotten out,” she smiles, gesturing to the computer. “You’ve made a few papers too. Don’t worry,” she correctly interprets Aiden’s look of panic, “they are all favourable. Amazingly so.”
“Good,” Matt says faintly, and he’s wondering how exactly this got so out of hand.
“You should probably go down and tell your parents Matt,” she adds. “I mean, they’ll almost certainly know, but it’s just something a parent likes to hear from their children.” Aiden flushes and Joanna stops her teasing, if only for a moment. “Anyway, the sooner you let everyone know, the sooner the two of you can go off on honeymoon. Where were you planning on going?”

Aiden groans and slumps down, burying his head on the table and letting his husband field that one. He might as well be getting something from this ridiculous situation.

***

Eventually Aiden escapes upstairs on the flimsy pretence of checking on the kids. Matt follows him up minutes later, having not even bothered making an excuse.

“I just told her I missed you,” he explains when he joins Aiden, watching as his husband hugs his little sister. “She clearly approves, she just smiled fondly and muttered something about young love.”

Aiden looks like he wants to cry and Matt hurries over to him, wrapping an arm around his waist, careful not to dislodge the mostly sleeping child in Aiden’s arms. “It’ll be alright.”
“How?” Aiden holds up his phone, “she’s thrilled. I found her tweets.”

can’t possibly comment...will say that Matt and Aiden are asleep in his room at the mo!!!

breakfasting with Matt and Aiden...v v v cute...will try and snag a picture for you all :)

am a proud mum...my baby boy is all grown up :) :)

Matt just smiles sadly and rests his head on Aiden’s shoulder.

Eventually they start talking, knowing they need some sort of game plan for the ridiculous situation they find themselves in.

It is too embarrassing and too Britney Spears, they decide, to simply admit this was a drunken mistake and get a quick divorce, and while it may be stupid to have a fit of pride over something like this, neither one can bring themselves to confess how stupid they’ve been.

Matt also admits to a slightly overwhelming desire to see Simon’s face when he finds out they are married, and he looks forward to demanding that the Aiden ban be lifted now they are actually married. Aiden thinks Simon might possibly kill one or both of them, but agrees that the look on his face would probably be worth the slow and painful death that followed.

Joanna comes in to collect her younger children for breakfast at that point and they go abruptly silent. She smiles at their confusion and promises to leave them in peace.

“I’ve never lied to her in my whole entire life. Not about something like this,” Aiden mutters when she leaves. Matt wraps his arms around him properly and Aiden buries his face in Matt’s shoulder. His guilt only gets worse when Joanna finds them like this a few minutes later and snaps a photo, saying she is going to start a wedding album.

***

In the end, they agree that Matt needs to go to Essex and talk to his family, and Aiden will spend some more time with his mum, and they’ll meet back in Birmingham the next day and come up with a plan of action. Frankly, Matt is hoping that the sheer volume of driving he’s about to undertake will kill him, providing them with a neat way out of this mess.

When he gets home, Matt has a taste of the guilt that had been eating Aiden all morning. His Mum is thrilled, and only his Dad’s more reserved, practical reaction had stopped her from throwing a congratulatory party. The thought of the house being filled with friends and family, all ready to congratulate him makes him feel physically sick and Matt escapes his Mum’s clutches as soon as possible, claiming exhaustion from the drive (which is true, and when combined with the hangover and the guilt it is a powerful combination). Jenny just smiles fondly, reminds him to let Aiden know he’s arrived safely (he did it the moment he stopped the car) and tells him she wants all the details once he’s had a nap. He’s 28 and he’s never run away from home, but he thinks he might start now.

It was horrible. He texts Aiden when he’s safely behind a locked door.

Welcome to my world, Aiden replies a moment later.

We are the worst people in the world. How do we fix this? Matt texts back

???????

Helpful. Napping now. Speak later x Matt doesn’t turn his phone off, in case Aiden needs to talk to him, dropping it down by the side of the bed. He is asleep almost before his head has hit the pillow.

***

Over tea his Mum and Dad ply him with questions, and he finds himself making up increasingly random answers to satisfy them, before wearily asking if they wouldn’t rather wait until he and Aiden are together and can tell the story properly.

He feels bad when his mum excitedly starts planning a big family party to celebrate, but he’s happy enough for the reprieve.

When Matt finally escapes his mother’s elated clutches and goes upstairs his hope for a quiet moment in his room is dashed when he finds Dom and Ali waiting for him.

“I fucking knew it man,” Ali beams, hugging him hard before passing him over to Dom, who half lifts him as he hugs him, a gesture which would usually get a rise out of Matt, who has never quite come to terms with being shorter than his brother.

“We’re so pleased for you, you dark horse,” Dom slugs him in the shoulder when he finally puts him down.

“When did you get together,” Ali asks before shaking his head, “no wait, don’t tell us. You were definitely together when Aiden got voted out,” Matt growls, the memory still makes him cross, makes him want to hunt down all the people that didn’t vote for Aiden, that created the situation that placed him on the stage with that sad look on his face.

“Yeah, ‘cus we remember you falling apart,” Dom nods his agreement.
“And when we came down for drinks, what was it, week two, week three?” Ali looks across for confirmation and Dom just shrugs, “you were very clingy then too, so I’m guessing maybe you got together after Jealous Guy.”
“Earlier,” Dom offers his guess. “You kept hanging up whenever we called in the first week because Aiden needed to talk, or get food, or whatever. I’m voting for pretty much the moment you found you were sharing a room with him.”
“Guys, guys,” Matt has been trying to stop the ridiculous speculation for several minutes without being heard and resorts to shouting. “Shut up for a moment will you. We’re not together. Not then, not ever. And clearly you’re both insane teenage girls, if this rubbish you’ve been spouting is any sort of guide.”

Ali and Dom just stare at him.

“Not together?” Dom asks slowly. “As in you’ve broken up already?”
“As in we were never ever anything but friends.”
“Married friends,” Ali grins at him, like pull the other one, but Matt doesn’t crack a smile, doesn’t tell him it’s all a joke.

“That was a mistake. I was mad and we were drunk and there was a wedding chapel right there...” Matt trails off because Ali and Dom look like they want to fall on the floor laughing and he needs their support right now.

“Dude,” Ali manages in the end, admirably holding a straight face. “No one accidentally marries their best, male friend. No one.”
“Sorry bro, but he’s right. Are you sure this isn’t the worst case of denial ever?”

Matt storms out and vaguely hears two thumps, as Dom and Ali fall onto the bed, laughing wildly.

Half an hour later Dom and Ali come to find him at the bottom of the garden. He’s been sitting in the dark smoking and sulking and generally being rather pathetic, and the knowledge of it makes him feel worse. He wants Aiden, he realises. When the two of them were together it felt as if they could actually get through this without alienating everyone they love, and he wants that feeling back.

“It occurred to us that we weren’t particularly supportive,” Ali begins, and Matt snorts.
“And we thought we’d better come and offer our support,” Dom sits down on one side of Matt, Ali taking the other. “What are you going to do bro?”
“I’m heading back to Birmingham tomorrow, rehearsals for the tour.”
“Not what we meant,” Matt can feel Ali’s concerned gaze on him.
“Aiden’s meeting me there and we’re going to try and come up with a plan. Right now we seem to be settling for doing nothing because everyone is so fucking pleased for us.”
“You can’t just do nothing and hope the situation resolves itself Matt,” Dom is playing the older brother, his voice serious and face a picture of concern. It makes Matt want to be flippant and childish.

“Oh I don’t know. Simon was threatening to ban me from Aiden. No going to the pub, no time on tour or in the studio. No flat,” he takes a vicious drag on the cigarette, angry all over again at Simon’s attitude. “Now I get to hang out with him to my heart’s content.”

Dom and Ali exchange looks behind Matt’s back, wondering if he’s even listening to himself.

“Just,” Ali falters, “just let us know if you want us to do anything, right?”
“Thanks guys.”

***

The next day Matt and Aiden meet up in the car park, because neither wants to go in and face the others on their own. One Direction are already taking up more than their fair share of the green room, lounging around chatting happily. They don’t fall all over Matt and Aiden, which both are grateful for, nor do they start plying them with questions about how long they have been together.

Instead, Liam just looks at them and asks, “on behalf of all of us, what the fuck happened?”
“We got drunk,” Aiden offers weakly but Liam doesn’t say anything so he continues. “Simon told Matt that he wasn’t to spend any more time with me, that we weren’t to go to the pub, or down the red carpet, or to the studio, or anything. When Matt objected Simon’s response was along the lines of you’ll live, it’s not as if you’re married to the boy.”
“So we both got steaming drunk, and in a fit of self pity decided we’d make Simon eat his words.”
“Not our finest scheme,” Aiden concedes, “but strangely not enough to make me consider giving up drinking. In fact, being drunk right now would be fantastic.”

The other boys have been strangely quiet, and when Liam sees Aiden’s curious gaze fall on them he says. “I’ve been appointed group spokesman for this one. The official One Direction position is that we love you both dearly but you are clearly nuts. Oh, and we support you of course.”
“Group thinking,” Aiden says, smiling at Matt as they watch the other four nodding along to Liam’s words.

“Well, outside of the group mind,” Liam grins, “Louis hasn’t really managed to form an opinion as he’s pretty much literally only just stopped laughing. He’s considering sulking over not being invited to the wedding but we are hoping to convince him that that is irrational. Niall and Harry are occupied with being encouraged by the positive press reaction, and are considering their own coming out. Zayn simply mutters about how he can’t work out how he’s friends with such lunatics and I mostly just want to know what you are going to do next.”
“We’ve moved past panic and onto denial,” Aiden says, smiling proudly like this is a great choice. “We figure we’ll just leave it and have like six months of hanging out and when it all dies down we can confess to Simon and get him to fix it.”

Louis gurgles and buries his face in the sofa, body shaking, and they aren’t sure if he’s laughing or crying. Either way, Aiden thinks it is an unfair reaction to what he considers a fairly genius plan. Niall and Harry just look disappointed in them, but quite what else they expected he isn’t sure. Liam and Zayn just stand there shaking their heads.

“Alternatively,” Matt offers, fixing his gaze on Louis and Harry, “I’m calling in a ‘you owe me’ and Louis and Harry can fix this to make up for the horrific phone debacle.”
“Horrifically funny,” Aiden mutters, but no one pays him much attention.

Louis and Harry look indignant, but an elbow from Niall has Harry saying, “fine. Did I mention how really, really sorry we were about that?” Louis, shooting a betrayed glare at Harry, concedes, “fair enough, but we can’t promise good ideas.”
“They don’t have to be good,” Zayn points out. “They just have to top denial and remaining married.”

The five of them exchange significant looks that are completely lost on Matt and Aiden, because Aiden has remembered that Simon can’t stop them moving in together and he and Matt are debating the merits of the Xbox and the Wii.

***

The tours rehearsals continue and back inside the X-factor bubble Matt and Aiden can almost forget the situation they find themselves in. With no possibility of Simon objecting, they can live in each other’s pockets to their hearts content, and the magazines are full of pictures of the two of them at lunch, or shopping, or in the pub, with captions about looks of love and devoted body language.

The only real reminders of the mess they’ve created come firstly from phone calls home, when affectionate parents ask after new husbands and try to arrange family get togethers, and secondly from One Direction. Every so often, Louis will look up from whatever he is doing and make apparently random comments like “have you considered faking your death. Either one of you really?” and “you could emigrate. Dannii would probably let you stay.”

(She would, but Matt has had congratulatory phone calls and text messages that make it clear that Dannii wants both of them over for a long holiday, and expects an invite to the family wedding so she can claim credit for getting them together. He adores Dannii, and would hate to have to upset her, so she’s off the list of people he’s prepared to confess to.)

Actually, Aiden’s denial plan is more appealing every day. The crazy female fans have shifted their focus, and Matt is less frequently mobbed that before. Or rather, he’s still mobbed, but now they ask him questions about Aiden instead and gush about how cute the two of them are, instead of grabbing him inappropriately and screaming about wanting to have his babies. It is still mad, but he kind of likes it.

There are other benefits to being married to Aiden. Matt especially enjoys the interviews these days...

Matt smiles broadly at the journalist and Aiden can’t shake the feeling that it isn’t really a friendly grin.

“Before we start,” Matt says after shaking hands, “remind me again, how was it you described Aiden in that article a few weeks ago?” If Matt’s tone was mild the look in his eyes certainly wasn’t. “A talentless hanger on, wasn’t it?” The journalist stared at him, stammering out vague apologies that Matt didn’t appear to hear. “Isn’t it funny how much worse things sound when you say them out loud,” Matt observed before leaning forward. “Anyway, what was it you wanted to ask me?”

Completely flustered, the journalist asked a few incredibly banal questions before fleeing the room happily the moment his five minutes were up.

After three more journalists have pretty much ran away from Matt, Aiden decides he really ought to say something. “You’ve got to stop this Matt.”
“Certainly not. I’ve held my tongue long enough, I think most people would agree with me. Anyway, what sort of husband would I be if I let them get away with insulting my baby?”
Despite himself Aiden melted a little. “A smart one,” he retorted, but his indulgent smile told Matt he could probably get away with a few more digs. His bad behaviour doesn’t seem to be generating any negative publicity, and he starts to think that some of the journalists feel bad about having been so mean to Aiden. And if they didn’t feel bad at the start of the interview, they certainly did by the end, when it became clear that Aiden was their only ally in the room.


***

But we’ve skipped ahead.

For the next week the papers continue to run supportive stories about Matt and Aiden, talking about their quiet wedding and making it sound much classier than it really was. There is also a fair degree of speculation about why they kept their relationship secret, with lots of lurid accounts of forbidden love and brave defiance of Simon Cowell’s edicts about keeping Matt single. Generally, Simon is made out to be an evil obstacle in the course of true love, and Matt and Aiden are the brave souls who only wanted each other.

This leads to lots of inventive headlines like Single or Married? Then I’ll Take Married! and Cardle defies Cowell to Marry Grimshaw and not forgetting Maiden for each other.

The supportive nature of the stories adds to the already mountainous level of guilt both boys feel, and they realise that they will look like complete morons if they have to admit that they got drunkenly married because Matt was lonely on tour and they were sulking about Simon pushing Aiden out.

They resolve to put out a statement thanking people for their support and asking for privacy while they settle into married life, but neither can quite seem to find the right words, and every day they are seeing more stories and more quotes from ‘insiders’.

***

“Oh I like this one,” Liam looked up from the paper he was reading as the One Direction boys selflessly helped Matt and Aiden go through the mound of newspapers that neither man had been brave enough to look at yet. “It makes Aiden’s reaction to the whole Matt/Katie thing seem sane and justified.”

We’d always known they were close, one insider commented, and when the story about Matt and Katie leaked, Matt was desperate to issue a denial but at first it was forbidden. Eventually, it was clear he would speak regardless, so Simon relented, but it wasn’t until we all saw how Aiden reacted that we understood. He couldn’t speak to Katie for days, and Matt barely left his side. Aiden never doubted that it was lies, but he was hurt that someone he had considered a friend could take advantage of the secrecy of their relationship to advance her own image in the press.

“This one makes you sound like a bit of a hero Aidey,” Louis cackled, waving another paper over his head.

Aiden had been trying to keep things quiet, one insider revealed, adding that he was scared that their relationship might be used to hurt Cardle, or hold back his career. But when Simon tried to force them apart Matt made it clear that their relationship meant more to him than his career.

“Oh, here’s another isn’t Aiden great one,” Niall offers.

Aiden has had to stand by and listen while so many false stories have been leaked to the papers because Simon is so desperate to turn Matt into a player. Anyone who knows them knows that he has barely noticed that people who aren’t Aiden exist since they met.

“And another,” Harry calls from beside Niall. “Makes Matt sound like a bit of a loony though.”

Aiden’s handled all the press stories wonderfully, a close friend confided, he knows they are rubbish, which helps, but he’s never once blamed Matt or Simon for the way Matt is being marketed. Matt, on the other hand, has been embroiled in several screaming matches with Cowell over the whole thing, insisting that he shouldn’t be forced into the closet in the 21st century. We at the Daily Mirror couldn’t agree more.

Zayn hadn’t said anything so far, but he quietly pressed two articles into Matt’s hand. “I think these say it all,” he says, smiling softly as his friend, “what do you think?”

Aiden hasn’t stopped smiling since he met Matt, one close friend revealed. This idea that Cheryl had of him being intense is bizarre, because he’s been skipping around, beaming and laughing at nothing ever since he and Matt met.

They are complete soul mates, a close friend revealed, the age difference is nothing, because they have so much in common. They knew they were meant to be together the moment they met – it was electric.

“I never knew we had so many close friends,” Aiden beams up at Matt from where he is sitting on the floor at Matt’s feet. Matt had been absently running his hand thorough Aiden’s hair and he looked like he’d lost a fight with a bird. He also looked like he couldn’t be happier than he was right now, and Matt heard the words of the article in his head and knew they could apply to him too (ok, not the skipping, but the rest, the stuff about not ever having been as happy).

***

They’ve been married for two weeks when Matt admits that they will have to bite the bullet and go and see Simon, because he clearly isn’t coming up to Birmingham to offer his congratulations, or read them the riot act. Actually, Matt hasn’t heard from him at all.

He’s prepared to go to London on his own, but when Aiden insists on coming too he’s too pleased to mount any real objection. They play cards and laugh on the train down, but the spectre of Simon Cowell is hanging over them, causing them to fall silent when they can’t stop their treacherous minds from wondering how he will react.

“Ah the happily married couple,” Simon smiles as they walk into his office. “Where are the wedding rings, by the way? I’ve noticed no one has picked up on that one yet.”

They stare at him before involuntarily glancing down at their ringless fingers. Strangely, the idea of rings hadn’t even crossed their minds, and both were busy thinking that it would have felt like one lie too far.

“No congratulations then?” Matt asks, because he needs to say something, and Aiden always makes him feel braver than he really is.

“Oh yes, congratulations on getting drunkenly married, tweeting about it and then utterly failing to stop the entire world thinking you are together,” Simon says, his face remaining completely straight. “I’m thrilled for you both.”
“You knew?”
“Knew that despite being joined at the hip you and Aiden have failed to consummate your sweet little bromance? Of course I knew,” Simon actually laughs at this. “You would have thrown your relationship in my face the moment I objected to you hanging around together.”

Matt bristles, stepping forward and looking for all the world like he was prepared to turn this into a proper argument. Without thinking, Aiden wrapped a hand around Matt’s arm pulling him back and placing himself between Matt and Simon. They bought out the worst in each other sometimes and this wasn’t the first time Aiden had wanted to intervene. It was the first time he’d actually done it though.

“We are sorry if this has caused any problems for you,” he said, his foray into diplomacy slightly undermined by Matt’s snort of derision. “We haven’t said anything because we didn’t know where to start. This is my fault as much as Matt’s though, and I don’t think that the two of you butting heads is going to help resolve the situation.”
“No, at this point all it will get me is more stories about mean Mr Cowell standing in the way of true love,” Simon said, relaxing slightly and sitting back in his chair. Aiden pulled Matt towards the sofa and manhandled him into the seat.

“I’m not fixing this for you,” Simon added, the smile on his face belying the firm tone of voice. “You don’t get to stick two fingers up at me and then come running when you can’t deal with the fallout.”
“We can deal fine,” Aiden leaned forward. “We just thought it would be polite to keep you in the loop.”
“I mean it. No backtracking, no climbing back into the closet. Despite yourselves you’ve managed to create something of a perfect storm in the media. Right now any manager or agent with any sense and any closeted clients are telling them to come out, and come out now. A few allusions about the support you two have received and a few pointed comments about this being the 21st century, and Britain, and they’d be bullet proof. Niall and Harry could make out in front of a capacity O2 and no one would bat an eye at it. If this is revealed to be a sham, a temper tantrum...people would hit the roof, and no one would want to hear about Niall and Harry’s relationship. I won’t let you ruin this for them.”

Matt shuffles on the sofa and can’t bring himself to look at Simon, because the reality of what they’d done, and what it meant, or could mean, had never really hit him before. He’d known that part of the whole fame thing was having his every movement under a microscope, but the idea causing, however inadvertently, such a major change of attitude when it came to tabloid treatment of gay celebrities was stunning. In a day or two he’d probably start to feel smug, to feel happy that he’d helped his friends out. Right now he was just feeling overwhelmed.

Aiden wasn’t. Matt had been the centre of his world for months now (not that he would ever have expressed it as such) and it seemed only natural that other people should be feeling the same connection. That Matt should have influence only seemed natural, and as far as Aiden was concerned, his job was making sure Matt got through this in one piece.

“We won’t do or say anything we shouldn’t,” Aiden said, meeting Simon’s hard gaze unflinchingly. “Actually,” he added with a wicked grin, “as we are down here, we thought we’d go house-hunting.” He held his hand out to Matt, who instinctively took in, lacing his fingers through Aiden’s and holding on tight. They hadn’t mentioned house-hunting, but the thought was enough to cheer him up, because the world seemed less scary when Aiden was close by, standing beside him.

Simon watched them leave his office hand in hand and wondered if either of them noticed the way Aiden used the married we, the instinctive grouping of their two identities as a whole, a single, coherent unit. Probably not, he reasoned, because the two of them had been doing it for months now.

***

“We’ve found a flat,” Aiden announced when he and Matt finally arrived back in Birmingham. Matt had gone to phone his mum while Aiden joined the One Direction boys in their hotel room. He squeezed onto the bed with the others, arms and legs tangled up as he described the flat he and Matt had agreed to rent. After about an hour, an estate agent had called, clearly under instructions from Simon to find them a suitably private and secure flat in central London. The place was gorgeous by all accounts, and should have been miles outside of their price range, except that having celebrities was good advertising, so they had the place for a steal.

Matt joined the boys as Aiden was extolling the virtues of the second bedroom, which was to be a studio come guest room come junk room, but which neither of them seemed to think was necessary in its capacity as bedroom. The One Direction boys had long since learnt to ignore things like this, just like they ignored the way Aiden left the bed the moment Matt joined the room, suddenly preferring the dubious comforts of the hard sofa because it had Matt and Matt’s arm draped over the back, almost embracing Aiden, and Matt’s hands, which would settle possessively over various parts of Aiden’s body as he talked to the boys, an almost careless action that seemed simply to be about reassuring Matt that Aiden was still really here. Actually, that hadn’t started until Aiden’s eviction. Up until then Matt had been content with resting a hand on Aiden’s shoulder, or occasionally putting a hand on his thigh for particular emphasis. Afterwards, Matt seemed obsessed with keeping Aiden within close contact in case he should be whisked away again.

When Aiden and Matt left for the night, Louis turned to the others. “You know all those things that we don’t talk about, like the fact that they’ve shared a bed for weeks now.”
“And the fact that whenever you invite one of them anywhere you always get a ‘we’d love to’ in response,” Liam added.
“And the fact that they can’t go 24 hours without speaking to each other,” Harry said.
“And the conversations always last hours,” Niall finished.
“And the fact that they bloody got married,” Zayn wound up.
“Yeah those things. Well, do you think maybe we should talk about those things? With them,” Louis clarified. “Because I know we’ve worked on the theory that they are taking things at their own pace and we shouldn’t interfere, but really, are they thick, or scared, or do they really think what they have is a normal friendship?”
“They think what they have is great, and they don’t see why they should question it, or jeopardise it” Liam said, but his rational response fell on deaf ears as the others began to see where Louis was heading with this and start to plan increasingly elaborate matchmaking schemes that would result in Matt and Aiden’s eternal happiness and their establishment as matchmaking Gods.

***

“So are you still looking for a way out?” Louis asks Aiden as they watch Matt rehearse. He’s draped over Aiden, legs tangled, hands playing with Aiden’s as he talks.

“No,” Aiden says, smiling. “Simon’s forbidden it. He’s gone into full One Direction protection mode.” At Louis’ quizzical glance he explains, “apparently the press being so nice about us means they can’t have a go at anyone who comes out now, which means Niall and Harry could come out now and get no stick.”

Louis nods, smiling and muttering about how much he loves Uncle Simon.

“Yeah, he’s great for you,” Aiden grouches. “But Matt wants to spend five minutes with me and he throws a hissy fit.”
“Not anymore,” Louis reminds him.
“True, but we shouldn’t have had to get married for me to be able to spend any time with him.”
“You know,” Louis says, his voice straining under the pressure to remain casual, “it’s your one month anniversary tomorrow. If you are to be convincing as the dream couple you should really go out somewhere. Do something nice.”

Aiden mock punches Louis, flushing slightly, and Louis starts to retaliate, only to find Aiden being pulled away from him. Matt was wrapping an arm possessively around Aiden’s waist, disentangling him from Louis.

“People will think you don’t love me anymore,” he explains, pulling a sad face as Aiden settled more firmly against him.

“As if,” Louis mutters but neither pay him any attention.

“It’s our one month anniversary tomorrow,” Aiden says, turning wide eyes on Matt. “Take me somewhere fancy?”
“You sure you wouldn’t rather go to MacDonald’s?”
“Great idea. You’re the best husband ever.”
“And you’re the cheapest.”

The play fight that follows means they both miss Louis’s exit, so his swearing and muttering about blind idiots is completely wasted.

***

It’s the first day of full group rehearsals and Matt has being thoroughly enjoying seeing everyone all together. Part of it is down to the fact that wherever he goes, Aiden goes, and wherever they go, One Direction follow, which is exhausting, and having more people around dilutes them. Part of it is because he misses Paige and Rebecca and Mary, and he likes talking to sane, fully formed adults, even if he isn’t one yet. And part of it is because he gets to see the people he doesn’t like in the full and certain knowledge that he won, and they lost. He likes that a lot.

Aiden isn’t as happy, and Matt knows part of it is their situation, and part of it is his own insecurity about not really belonging on the tour, a feeling not helped by the fact that he went and married the winner of the X-factor. The whole thing is a little bit too Jonathan Wilkes for Aiden, and Matt wishes Simon would just hurry up and give him a recording contract already.

Anyway, Aiden wasn’t as completely eager for the day to begin as Matt was, and he spent most of the morning trying to delay their arrival. They get separated fairly quickly, which Matt didn’t want as he’d been planning to play the husband card so he could get in between Aiden and any uncomfortable conversations. When he returned to the group to find Aiden slightly apart from the others and talking to Katie he quickly hurries over to them. He half expects to see Aiden flushed and pale and begging for a rescue. Instead they are both smiling, and when Katie sees him coming she hugs Aiden, whispering something in his ear before making a graceful exit. Matt is slightly stunned, and instead of storming to the rescue, slumps on the ground by Aiden’s feet and rests his head on Aiden’s knees.

“Well that was weird,” Aiden says, running a hand through Matt’s hair.
“Weird good or weird bad?”
“Weird nice. She apologised for telling the press she slept with you,” he puts his hand over Matt’s mouth as he starts to crow that he knew it was her. “She said she was sure I already knew it was rubbish but she needed to say it so I really knew. She said that she’d never have chosen you if she’d known we were together, but you were so darned amazing that you were the obvious choice.” She’d also said he was ‘fucking gorgeous’ but Aiden didn’t feel admitting that would do Katie any favours when it came to Matt, and Matt certainly didn’t need that particular ego boost. “I never thought Katie would be able to make me feel bad about this whole thing.”
“She said something else didn’t she?”
“She said she should have known, should have seen it all along. And she said she was happy for us and knew we’d be forever.” Aiden’s hand stops moving and Matt turns up his face to look at him. Aiden looks away first. “Actually, she’s not the only one to say that.”
“Which bit?”
“About it being bloody obvious?”
“Paige’s words?”
“Yeah.”
“Weird.”
“Yeah.”

“What’s weird,” Zayn asks as he, Liam and Louis join them.
“How everyone but you five have just accepted that we were dating the whole time.” Aiden shuffles over slightly to make room for them on the sofa, careful not to dislodge Matt’s head.

“Yeah, that’s really odd,” Zayn agrees in a totally flat voice.
“Amazing,” Liam seconds unconvincingly.

When Matt and Aiden just look blankly at them Louis can’t seem to stop the “oh, come on,” waving his hands at the two of them.

“What?” Aiden looks down at Matt’s head, which is practically in his lap, “we’re comfy. And it’s nothing that you five haven’t done a million times.

Louis is about to point out that two of the five of them are actually in a relationship, and the other three may be a little touchy feely, but Matt and Aiden are in a whole other league, thank you very much, but Liam jumps in before he can get the words out, asking what everyone thinks of Cher’s new hair. He takes the ridicule for the girlish topic choice in good sport, and they are soon all happily discussing the extent to which Cher is turning herself into Cheryl.

***

“We’re trying to come up with the perfect ‘how we got together’ story for you,” Louis says when Matt and Aiden come across the five boys huddled together while the girls rehearse. “Since we are no longer trying to get you out of this situation, we want to help make your marriage work, and you need a story you can tell the press while gazing into each other’s eyes.”
“Only we’re a little short on romantic stories,” Liam says. “Louis got Hannah by stalking her for months then snogging her when drunk, Zayn has no idea how he gets girls, he just knows he does...”
“And you haven’t needed to try in months,” Louis interrupted, “you just wave your Justin Beiber cut around and girls fall at your feet. Niall and Harry are the best we have to offer in terms of soppy romances and they won’t tell us how they got together because they think they need to have one thing that isn’t band property.” Louis shoots a hurt look at Harry and Niall but they are too busy grinning at each other to notice.

(Harry had been the one who made the move, asking Niall if he fancied sneaking away to watch a film. He’d agreed, offering to round up the others but Harry just shook his head and looked meaningfully at him until, blushing, Niall understood. He’d smiled his agreement, squeezing Harry’s hand for a moment before they left. Harry had beamed all the way to the cinema, causing four separate women to have near collisions with inanimate objects because they were too busy staring at Harry’s smile to pay attention to the pavement in front of them. In the end, Niall had pulled Harry into a side street and kissed him until the elated smile was replaced by a dazed, lust hazed one whose power was muted by the glazed look in his eyes. Niall considered himself a selfless saviour of the public.)

“Just stick as close to the truth as possible,” Aiden said quickly, not wanting to give the boys any license to go crazy with their storytelling. “You spoke to me first,” he smiled at Matt.
“You were amazing, it would have been rude not to.”

Anything else Matt could have said was forgotten when a flash went off and Louis held out his phone. “Perfect. Look like that when they quiz you and you’ll be fine.”

The five of them just stared at Matt and Aiden until Matt was called away for his rehearsal, Aiden following behind him because, well, because that was what they did.

“Really? Nothing,” Louis slouched down against the wall, “why do I even bother?”
“Poor boy, so underappreciated,” Liam ruffles his hair and the five of them try and come up with something better. Again Zayn vetoes the ‘just lock them in a room together and don’t let them out until they’ve shagged’ plan, but Louis is convinced he can wear him down.

***

It all comes to a head backstage during the tour.

Simon had invited Robbie Williams along to the show, adding further fuel to the rumours about his role in the next series of X-factor. Frankly, no one knew whether this meant that Robbie would be involved, or if Simon just wanted the headlines that would be generated by the site of Robbie hanging out backstage.

Either way, Robbie had taken the offer of a backstage pass and was chatting with the finalists between songs, although mostly he was monopolised by the One Direction boys, who claimed him as their personal property.

Matt was sitting with them as Aiden performed, not really hearing their chatter because he was incapable of ignoring Aiden’s singing.

“You were fantastic,” Matt says, kissing Aiden on his cheek when he comes off stage to join them. He is still flushed from the performance and the adulation, panting slightly.

“Come on Cardle,” Robbie says, eyes flicking between the two of them, “what sort of kiss was that? He’s your husband not your mother and he just killed out there. Kiss him properly man.”

For a moment it is like everyone is holding their breath. Robbie is smiling carelessly, apparently unaware of the challenge he’s thrown down. Aiden is staring, flushed and confused and Matt is narrowing his eyes at the challenge. Before the pause has time to become awkward, Matt turns and captures Aiden’s mouth in a possessive kiss, and Aiden’s arms fall around his waist like they have always belonged there. Blood rushes in his head and the world narrows to just him and Aiden and as they pull apart they rest their foreheads together, breathing heavily. Slowly Matt’s awareness widens and he realises what he’s done, and where he is.

“I better go find Simon,” he mutters, rushing off towards the dressing rooms and not even trying to look like he wasn’t running away.

“I better,” Aiden pauses, “remind him Simon isn’t here,” he finishes, voice trailing off as he hurries after Matt.

“Was that alright then?” Robbie asks, smirking at the grinning One Direction boys.
“That’ll do nicely thanks,” Louis says.

***

Aiden follows Matt into an empty dressing room, shutting the door behind them.

For a minute or two they just stand there, staring at each other. Matt knows that this is his chance; this is the moment for him to say something, anything, if he could only find the words. But now that this has been forced on them he finds himself speechless.

In the end it is Aiden who speaks first, hands twisting, voice fast but determined, like he has to get this out.

“We got married Matt, that doesn’t seem something that friends do. And I know we’ve bent over backwards not to talk about it but we’ve also done everything in our power to remain married, to let the world think we are together. Maybe we actually need to think about why that is. I mean, when we first met did you think ‘he seems alright, maybe we could be friends’, or did you think ‘he’s cute, I fancy him’? Because if I’m utterly honest when you first came over to talk to me my brain was screaming about the fit guy with the amazing voice coming my way, and begging me to play it cool. And then we became friends, and you were being sold as Matt Cardle, legendary womaniser, and the whole thing just got pushed to the background. But if I’m brutally honest, it’s always been there, under the surface.”
“You’re my best friend,” Matt began and Aiden groaned, “no, I’m not trying to... Look, you’re asking for the god’s honest truth and here it is. You’re my best friend; you’re the person I want to spend my time with. The person I want to spend all my time with. I don’t know when it started, but you’re the one I think about first in the morning, and the last person I want to speak to at night. I sleep better when you are in bed with me, I think better when...”

The rest of Matt’s increasingly speedily delivered speech was cut off by Aiden’s mouth as he planted a soft kiss on Matt’s lips. As he tried to pull away Matt made a noise of protest, hand coming around to hold Aiden close as he deepened the kiss.

When they finally pulled apart Matt said, “and you’re too pretty to be real, and I fancy you like mad.”
“Well I should think so too, you married me after all” Aiden said, leaning in for another kiss.

Later there would be time enough for talking and planning and realising what all this meant, but for too long they had been letting words, not actions, dictate their interactions and sometimes you really do say it best by saying nothing at all.

***

Epilogue

Six months after the wedding, Matt and Aiden are having a house warming/reunion party. In reality, One Direction seem to be playing hosts, because they love being the centre of attention and all Matt and Aiden want to do is sit together in a corner, kiss and drink, so everyone is happier that way.

Their hands are intertwined as they speak, heads bent together in that exclusionary way they always had, and besotted smiles are still on their face as they look at each other. Every so often, one of them looks like they might be about to go and play the host, but the other will say something that they just have to listen to. Jenny smiles to watch it, before turning to Joanna.

“At some point we are going to have to tell them they aren’t actually married.”
“At some point they have to realise that there are no 24 hour wedding chapels in England because this isn’t Vegas,” Joanna comments and Jenny is prepared to concede the point.
“I say we wait for them to figure it out for themselves,” Simon adds, “after all the hard work we put into this, the least they could do is realise and thank us. It just looks needy if we have to spell it out for them.”

Simon had done most of the heavy lifting, and thus he felt he was due a thank you, though he’d settle for not having to invent stories about Matt and various women anymore. A few well placed digs about Aiden had started the ball rolling, and he’d started planting the idea of marriage (thanks to a quick consult with Paul McKenna).

“Must you always turn up to these things with Aiden playing the dutiful husband,” he’d grouched when yet another red carpet shot showed Matt’d bought Aiden along as his plus one.

“Do you really need your husband there, holding your hand,” he’d asked when Matt wanted Aiden at the recording studio for his first day.

“Just call your bloody husband and work it out,” he shouted when Matt had spent the day moping because he and Aiden had almost possibly had a mini fight.

Setting up the fake wedding chapel had been a breeze, given the resources at his disposal, and coercing the press into writing favourable stories had barely required any effort (he’d merely had to tell the tabloids that liked him to play nice, and those that hated him that he insisted on the story not being mention, and suddenly all the papers and magazines in England were raving about the epic love story coming out of the 2010 X-factor).

He’d possibly had the odd moment of doubt, wondering if perhaps everyone else was reading more into things than were really there (because surely Matt and Aiden would have done something already, right?) but he reasoned that if they really weren’t interested, they would never go through with the wedding. Watching the two of them now, even the smallest of doubts seemed idiotic.

And if the real reason he didn’t want to come clean was because he didn’t want to admit to how invested he’d become in ‘Maiden’, well, that was his business.

Comments

OMFG I Love you for this!

mainly I stole the line “You’ll live. It’s not as if you’re married to the boy,” and built a fic around that.

You can borrow any of my lines any time you please if you're going to give them back wrapped up in such fluffy goodness to the comm. It's like getting a birthday present when it isn;t my birthday!

Plus bonus good!simon !! I would literally be doing cartwheels at this if I wasn't ill (you couldn't have timed this better, what a pick me up!). When I heard Simon saying it in my head it so had the undertone that he was saying it for the reason you wrote, not in a nasty way. I've a total thing about him actually scheming for the good of our boys.

I alternated going "Aww, cute" "Squee" and LOL'ing all the way through this. Plus I read it way too fast, so am going to enjoy re-reading many many times.

Can someone help me, I think I'm hyperventilating? LOL

Re: OMFG I Love you for this!

I'm so glad you liked this - I have been working on it for so long that I'd forgotten who the line originally came from!

Good!Simon is definately my thing - all that power can't be used for evil, and in my head he's protective over OneD, and they like Maiden so he's going to support them too. I may have thought about this too much

Thanks for commenting.
ahaha this was brilliant! Everyones meddling (Simon is god in this) and the 1d boys exasperation at the two and them being all cute and married and guh I think my heart just exploded with happiness.
Thanks :)

I have a bit of a soft spot for nice!Simon, and think his powers should be used for good at all times.
This was totally awesome! Loved it! Their gradual realisation about how close they really are was really good, and the twist at the end was genius! Ah Simon! The way you described them hanging off each other whenever they got a chance was lovely too. Fantastic fic!
Thanks :)

I do seem to have a bit of a thing for matchmaking!Simon (and Robbie).
Absolutely fantastic fic :)! This is taken right out of real life (just without the fake marriage).
The way you describe their relationship is exactly what we see. And I'm sure in real life they are as blind to it all as they are here.
Thanks :)

I still can't quite let go of the idea that they will eventually get together irl
This was absolutely awesome!!!
Thanks :)
i LOVED this so much! Its one of my favourite Maiden fics out there ♥
Thanks :)
HEARTS IN MY EYES.

This was utterly lovely and I loved it, and adorable boys are adorable.

(Incidentally, I reckon that if they've not figured it out in the next six months, their mothers should just talk them into "renewing" their vows for their one year anniversary, you know, as they never got to be there for the "real" wedding.)
Genuis idea!

Thanks for commenting :)
This is amazing, you write it in a way that's so believable and just, yeah. Perfect!
Thanks :)
This was sweet and cute and OMG SCHEMING!EVERYONE and oblivious!Maiden was made of all things wonderful and awesome :D

This was so cute, I was wondering about the 'Chapel' but I love how it all cam together in the end! Ha. This is so well written and the boys are so damn married it's hilarious!

Seriously, this was so fluffy I think I died! It was amazing and will definitely be my fic to be revisited whenever I am sad :)

Loved it, if you couldn't tell already, great work honey!
<3
absolutely fucking adored everything about this! seriously. completely co-dependant and oblivious matt and aiden make me HAPPY.

and 1D are fucking classic, as always.

guh, im waiting for the day they really do tweet about being married ;)

awesome!
Thanks :)
Aw, thanks :)
Excellent post I must say.. Simple but yet interesting and engaging.. Keep up the awesome work!

Thanks
ha, I will experiment my thought, your post bring me some good ideas, it’s truly amazing, thanks.

I don't know what to say apart from brilliant! I loved it
Thanks :)
Usual Suspects

October 2011

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