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Cream Cheese and Rosy Cheeks

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Louis hated everything.

His father abandoned him after his mother died giving birth, who does that?

Louis hates everything, the entire human race, every one of them.

 

“Louis c’mon it’s time for breakfast.” His foster mother called knocking on his door, Louis let out a loud sigh.

 

Breakfast, great, the one meal a day his foster mum gathers all sixteen of her foster kids and forces them to sit and eat and talk like some big happy family. They are not a big happy family.

Louis walks down to exactly what he expected; all nine of the older kids, ranging from 12 to 17 are around one table, the tenth place for Louis, between Tabitha and Noelle. The six younger kids around a slightly smaller table off to the side of the room babbling on to each other and yawning sleepily, Louis double takes when he sees a face that is less familiar then the rest – he doesn’t take the time to get to know all the little ones, they get adopted almost as quickly as they pile in – his hair was a fair brown and in ringlets surrounding his face, he was no older than 8 judging by his sleep-indulged-flushed cheeks and droopy eyes.

 

“Who’s that?” Louis asks Noelle while taking his seat, the younger boy looks up almost as if he heard Louis, which would be impossible due to the noise, and his jaw goes slack as his eyes land on Louis.

 

“Um, I think his name is Harry, he’s new.” No shit Louis thinks, but just nods at her dismissively.

Louis eats his pancakes in silence the noise from the others swallowing him up, he only looks up once and when he does Harry is still staring at him eyes wide, his cheeks flush a bit deeper when their eyes meet but he doesn’t look away.

 

~

 

“Who’s that?” the little boy tugs on his – sisters? He thinks she’s his sister now that mum and dad are gone. This is his family now isn’t it? So yeah sisters. – shirt lightly, teddy in his arms.

She turns and looks down at him, only a little taller.

 

“That’s Louis” she shrugs as if it’s the most obvious question in the world and waits for Harry to ask the usual questions she gets when a new foster kid comes in wondering about the others. How old is she, oh and him? How long have they been here? How long have you been here? Is the food good at least? But Harry doesn’t ask any more questions, instead he smiles brightly and whispers Louis’s name to himself a few times testing how it felt to call the other boy by name, he decided he like it with a nod smiling up at the girl and muttering a ‘thank you’ before running off.

~

Louis doesn’t mind the younger kids, or he doesn’t care to mind them, but Harry’s been following him around like a lost puppy for a week and a half now and at first it didn’t bother him, he figured the kid was just getting used to the place and liked being near an older, protective figure, although Louis isn’t much of a protector, he didn’t pay any mind to it. But now it’s getting ridiculous everywhere Louis goes the boy is there big green eyes staring at him, smile playing at his lips. When Louis comes out of the bathroom to find the boy sitting cross-legged outside the door he loses it a bit, a bit.

 

“Do I have some sign on my back I’m not aware of that says follow me or something?” Louis huffs at himself for his sarcasm, or lack thereof.

 

“What?” Louis notices just how big Harry’s eyes are and his annoyance bubbles down a little.

 

“No sign? No indication I’m to be followed?”

 

“I don’t. Um, I don’t think so?” Harry actually leans to look over at Louis’s back and if Louis didn’t hate everything he’d think it was adorable.

 

“Then why are you?” he keeps up his hard stare at the small boy.

 

“I just, m’sorry I didn’t mean to bother you, I really didn’t I promise Louis.” The boy looks up at him searching his eyes for any sign of him loosening up. There is none.

 

“Well you are, yeah? I mean you followed me to the bathroom, it’s called personal space Harry.” Harry sucks in a breath hearing Louis say his name, he ignores what Louis said and focuses solely on how nicely Louis says it. He gets a tickly feeling in his tummy and giggles a bit before standing up, grabbing his teddy and running off.

Louis huffs knowing that didn’t fix a thing, he goes to lay down for a nap and he doesn’t mind falling asleep to soft giggles and dimple-y smiles.

 

~

 

“Looooooouis, Louis where are you?” Harry’s voice is filled with happiness and maybe Louis has warmed up to the younger boy, andmaybe he's hiding from him and maybe he’s jumping out from behind the door jabbing his fingers into the little boys sides making him squeal and squirm.

 

“Louis! Stop! Pl-Please! S-to-top!” Harry giggles.

 

“Who’s your favorite in the house?” Louis asks slowing down his tickling so the little boy could answer.

 

“A-Ally.” Harry answers his grin big and bright, eyes wild with amusement. Louis gasps mocking hurt as he lifts the boy’s shirt and blows raspberries onto his tummy, Harry is squealing again and his hands find Louis’s hair tugging gently.

 

“Okay! O-kay Louis it’s you! Y-you’re my favorite! “

 

“That’s what I thought.” Louis sits up smiling triumphantly.  

 

“What are you doing?” Louis looks up at Alex who’s standing in the door way and notices the look he gives Harry and the way the boy shudders and tries to curl closer to Louis. Alex clears his throat when Louis doesn’t answer still frozen, features darkening a bit.

 

“I don’t want that brat in our room Louis, he’ll get his finger prints all over my shit.” Harry visibly flinches, Louis doesn’t know if it was from Alex’s language or Louis standing, distancing himself.

 

“No, yeah, neither do I man. He just came in and I was trying to get him to leave.” Louis coughs uncomfortably and pretends he doesn’t notice Harry’s face drop or the sparkle in his eyes from the tears forming.

 

“Yeah okay whatever.” Alex walks in the room before turning and pointing at Harry “Get lost kid.”

 

Harry looks up at Louis trying to meet his eyes but Louis won’t look at him, and Harry doesn’t know what he did wrong and he’s sorry but he doesn’t have a chance to say it before Louis is shouting at him to leave and he’s crying into his teddy while running into his room.

 

~

 

“Harry?” there’s a light knocking and Harry immediately lights up because it’s Louis but what just happened comes flooding back and crushes the seven year olds heart all over again, he flops back down and buries his face between his pillow and his teddy.

 

He hears Louis knock again and slowly open the door but he wills himself not to move, and it’s hard for a seven year old to sit still, especially when the bed dips where Louis’s sat or when his hand touches Harry’s back and rubs it soothingly.

 

“I’m sorry Harry,” Louis sighs and lets himself sink down onto the bed lying flat, his legs hang over the edge and it hurts but this is Harry,sweet, little, Harry and Louis hurt Harry, so he can deal with a little cramping in his legs for a bit.

“Alex is a dick – shit sorry – I mean, ugh sorry I didn’t mean to swear it’s just he’s older yeah? He thinks he’s the top man because he’s the eldest and I didn’t want to argue with him you know? He’d just yell and throw my stuff so I went along with it, I know I shouldn’t have I know it hurt your feelings and I’m so so sorry. Would ya look at me Haz? Please?” Louis reaches his arm up and toys with Harry’s hair, the younger boy sits up and Louis breath catches at the sight of his rosy cheeks and red eyes. Harry pushes into the touch and smiles brokenly.

 

“You called me Haz.” Harry says simply, his voice a slight rasp to it. “Mum called me Haz.” He tries to smile again.

 

“What happened to your parents?” Louis blurts, mouth moving too fast for its own good.

 

Harry scotches closer and places his hand hesitantly on Louis’s chest, he looks up to see if Louis is okay with what he’s going to do because Louis isn’t okay with a lot of things, but he just smiles and nods so Harry places his head on Louis’s chest and tucks his hand beneath his cheek. Before he speaks Louis subconsciously plays with the boys curls gaining him a hum of approval.

 

“Um, it was Felix’s birthday, Felix was my kitty, and I forgot to get tuna. Every cat needs tuna on his birthday, it’s a fact Louis.” Louis hums “anyway mum was going to get some and dad needed to get something too and the store is really close, and I’m seven, I told them that I was seven and you can’t leave Felix alone on his birthday, he’d think we forgot. So they let me stay home. And s’weird because I don’t remember what happened next, I remember the lady that came to the house, I remember her saying mummy and daddy went to heaven and I remember crying but the next thing I remember is you.”

 

Louis stiffens and he’s torn between wanting to cry and kiss the boy, no, he can’t kiss him, Harry’s seven and Louis is fifteen but he wants to really bad. Louis feels the younger boy yawn and decides on kissing his head and saying;

 

“You’re such a brave boy Harry, that’s such a hard thing to deal with and you’re doing so well, I love you.” And it slips out, Louis promises he didn’t mean to say it but he did and the boy on his chest moves up and leans in to kiss Louis on the cheek, his long eyelashes tickling the older boys cheek.

 

“I love you too, Lou” and maybe they fall asleep like that and maybe Louis really loves Harry.

 

~

 

“Do you think toast or cream cheese was invented first?” Harry blurted out eyes wide with wonder, a stray curl falling in his face.

 

Louis isn’t going back on his I love you or anything but his legs hurt and he didn’t sleep well and;

 

“What are you talking about?” he says rolling his eyes at the seemingly unphased boy peering up at him over his bagel.

 

“Like, I mean, do you think they used normal toast at first and then some guy came in and was like” Harry lowered his voice like an older man for effect, “‘It would taste so much better if the toast was round! With a hole in the middle!’” the boy giggled before continuing “or did they accidentally put a hole in it or what?”

 

Louis looked up at Harry, small, naïve, rosy-cheeked Harry. Louis was amazed, never in his life had he known a boy with such a rough start have so much innocence and wonder. Who other than Harry would think about the making of the bagel, or the man who called the car a car and why he called it that and not ‘I don’t know a pickle or something’. He can’t help the smile creeping up onto his lips while he watches the younger boy.

 

“Get eating you idiot.” He says lightly, pushing Harrys head down teasingly.

 

Maybe he laughed at little.

Maybe he ruffled Harry’s curls as he walked into the kitchen.

Maybe he doesn’t hate the entire human race.