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Roses & Violets

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The text comes when Louis is getting ready to head to Heathrow airport to go back to the United States. He barely stays in London anymore, only comes when it’s extremely necessary, because… What is the point, right?

For a year now Louis’ life has been based in Los Angeles and all of its neighborhoods. For someone who used to say he hated that place so much, it seems like Louis is being castigated for it. In truth, for a long time now, everything he does feels like punishment – he’s not even sure he deserves it, but… It is what it is.

Louis checks his phone. Harry’s name is on the screen and so is the little house emoji by the side of it. It hurts to look.

 

He arrives at the airport with his mind already made up, and as the driver stops by the sidewalk, leaving the car to get Louis’ suitcase, Louis knows that trying to ignore the text Harry sent him is useless. He sighs, thanks the kind man for driving him at ass-o’clock in the morning and makes his way inside, thanking the heavens that there is no pap waiting for him here.

 

“Morning, Mr Tomlinson,” a middle-aged woman smiles at him at the check-in booth. Louis has always wondered how those people act so chipper-y and smiley twenty-four hours in a row. Nowadays he can barely hold his smile for one minute on a pap-walk. “You can wait in the VIP room if you’d like…”

“Sure, but, hm- when’s the next flight to France?” He questions.

“France? Oh, hm,” she frowns, clearly troubled. “Here it says your flight is to LAX, California, United States. I’m sorry, there must’ve been a mix up…”

“No, no,” he assures her. “I just need to change my ticket,” Louis says resigned and takes his credit card, handing it to her. The woman, of course, does not question him, just accepts it and he waits patiently and sleepily while she does whatever she needs to do so Louis can get to Harry in a couple of hours.

 

The plane touches the ground at eight a.m. Paris time and by eight twenty-five Louis is at Harry’s doorstep. He doesn’t know how long Harry’s been here, but there is something to do with the fact that he was being mobbed at the hotel that the cast is staying at. Louis only learned Harry started filming because Niall told him, he hasn’t seen the boy in months, since his ex’s birthday, which is why, when Harry opens the door, it is a shock to see, in person, that his curls are gone.

Louis brings both hands to his mouth and widens his eyes without realizing it. Harry’s wearing black sweatpants and a grey, loose shirt, his hair pointing in every direction and his eyes reddened, like he hasn’t slept in hours or cried himself to sleep the night before. Louis hates both options, and makes himself say a quiet, quick hi, Hazz .

“You actually came.” Harry whispers bewildered in return.

“You asked,” is all Louis says.

Harry nods, still a bit out of it, and opens the door wider so Louis can get in. He helps him with his luggage, making small conversation like “how was your flight?” and “are you okay?” and goes straight to the couch, sitting there and waiting for Louis to join him.

It’s quite nice, the flat he’s in. Small, too, uncharacteristically Harry. And then Louis remembers that this place isn’t actually Harry’s, just somewhere the people from the movie found for him to stay – a hidden location, the media is calling it. Louis isn’t even ashamed that this is how he keeps tabs on Harry these days.

At the beginning, when they finally parted ways and the break started, he’d ask Niall and Liam for updates on him, just because it didn’t feel right to nag Harry about his whereabouts when Harry had made it pretty clear that they should stay away from each other until they regained some of their healthiness. But after a while Louis started to feel pathetic, and every time Niall talked to him it just got harder not to notice the sympathy in his bandmate’s voice.

So Louis just stopped. He kind of stayed away from everybody and told himself he was doing well. Of course he still talks to all of them – via text –, even with Harry, who every now and then calls him and whom Louis calls too, he can’t avoid it, but it’s all kind of mundane, it’s all very far away from what they used to be.

Harry looks small. He is staring at Louis and even though his muscles are bigger, his frame is broader and his features are older, Harry looks the youngest Louis has seen in a very long time.

“What’s going on, Harry?” He asks and Harry bursts out crying. He clutches on Louis’ shirt and pulls him closer, and Louis goes easily.

Harry hugs him strongly, holding onto Louis like he is his lifeline, and even though Louis doesn’t quite know what is happening, he hugs back, closes both of his arms on Harry’s waist and makes sure their chests are flushed together, whispering comforting words in his ear and soothing him the best he can, running one of his hands up and down Harry’s spine.

The other boy is choking out words and Louis can’t quite understand what he is saying through his sobs, but he makes out a few sentences such as everything is wrong and I can’t do this anymore, I can’t do this or I don’t want to do this, Louis, please . Louis hugs him and hugs him and does his best not to cry too, because, after all these years, seeing Harry suffer is still the worst kind of pain Louis has ever experienced.

“Harry, Harry, Hazz !” Louis calls in his ear, one hand moving up to his nape and trying to find some hair to entwine his fingers there but only catching few, short strands. He caresses Harry’s scalp and tries to separate their bodies; Harry can’t keep crying or he won’t be able to breathe right and Louis doesn’t know where his inhaler is anymore.

“You’re my best-” a hiccup, “best friend, Louis, you need to hel-help me, I- I can’t, ” tears keep streaming down his face and his eyes are even redder and the only thing Louis can do is sit here, in front of him, cleaning the tears as they come, as softly as he can.

“What can’t you do, H?”

“Anything, Louis, I can’t do anything!” His voice is tortured and Louis has never felt so at a loss.

A little more than a year ago he would’ve been able to actually do something besides sitting here and watching Harry hurt without even knowing for sure why he is hurting. Louis would’ve pulled him in and kissed and fucked the sadness out of him. Louis would’ve known beforehand that Harry was hurting and wouldn’t have let it get to this point in the first place. But then again, a little over a year ago Harry hadn’t broken up with him, so, there’s that.

It takes a few more minutes, but at some point Harry’s tears subside and Louis cleans his face one more time before kissing his forehead and getting up from the couch, moving towards the kitchen to grab them both some water. He can’t believe it’s nine a.m. and his day is already this heavy. Fuck.

 

“Here, drink some,” Louis says and hands the glass to Harry, who drinks it all in one gulp and places it on the coffee table. After that, Harry moves closer to Louis again and hugs him one more time, fitting his head in the space between Louis’ shoulder and neck. Louis doesn’t think twice when he lets his body sag into the couch and brings Harry with him. They fall asleep together.

 

-

 

When Louis wakes up, at around noon, he notices he is alone on the couch, but it’s the smell of bacon and eggs that makes him open his eyes and tilt his head, finding Harry behind the kitchen counter in the same clothes, but with wet hair, clean face, and a frying pan in his hands.

“Morning, Lou,” he says.

And who wants to cry hard , now, is Louis. Because there Harry is, in all his glory, making Louis’ breakfast on a Thursday like the last fifteen months haven’t happened. Like they’re still back in London, in their house, and they’ll spend the day making out in the pool and taking stupid Polaroids for their stupid wall in their stupid music room.

“Morning,” Louis manages to say and gets up. He notices he isn’t wearing his vans anymore and imagines that Harry took them off at some point. His shirt is a bit wrinkled and he’s sure his hair is disheveled, so he asks Harry where the bathroom is and goes in there to try and freshen up.

It’s nothing new when he realizes he is a mess, but this isn’t even the other boy’s fault. Louis is rarely not a mess. He washes his face and does the best he can with his fingers to tame his hair that has no product whatsoever in it. This will have to do.

He makes it back to the kitchen after telling himself to just be cool and smiles when he sees that Harry is already seated at the table, both of their plates set with tea and juice too. Louis thanks him and digs in. He doesn’t even stop to say anything because this is just so, so good . Louis has missed it so much.

“It’s not Starbucks, but-” Harry jokes and Louis looks at him for the first time since he started eating. Harry’s got a smirk on his face that Louis wants to wipe it off his face.

“It’s not funny,” he replies.

“It kinda is, it’s like- Louis Tomlinson’s official stunt spot,” his ex laughs.

“Harry.”

“C’mon, I’m just joking, Louis, who am I to judge?” He shrugs and bites on his egg. He is right; he is no one to judge, since Harry himself has been part of big, big stunts. Still, Louis never likes when he brings it up, because, at some point, Harry was willing to stop, and Louis just kept going. Harry never pretended to understand him, but never questioned either, not until their break up.

“The food’s really good, H,” Louis chooses to say. “But I’m still going to need an explanation.” Louis completes and Harry nods.

They finish eating and while Harry loads the dishwasher, Louis has half a mind to grab his phone and text Oli to let him know he won’t be arriving in the United States today after all. His friend doesn’t reply and Louis turns his phone off, leaving it on the coffee table and sitting down on the couch again, waiting for Harry to come to him.

Louis can’t pretend he doesn’t study Harry while he moves in the kitchen. The weak sunlight coming from the living room window makes the place seem bigger than it actually is, and as Harry puts away what they didn’t use, Louis’ eyes focus on the way his back moves, the way his biceps are bigger and seem harder; he roams Harry’s entire body with his eyes and still can’t find one imperfection.

He forgets, most days, Louis does. He has a system of keeping himself busy until he needs to go to bed so he doesn’t think much about Harry. Now that he is here, though, he sees no reason to deny himself the pleasure of taking in Harry Styles’s presence.

Harry notices that Louis is looking, because he isn’t stupid, but he doesn’t comment on it. Instead, when he comes back to the couch and sits at arm’s length from Louis, he does the same. Like always, Harry’s eyes stop on Louis’s collarbones and get darker. He moves quickly, and Louis would feel uncomfortable and scrutinized, but it isn’t like Harry has never seen or tasted every part of him, and it’s not like Louis has never done the same to Harry so it’s nice that they can, at least, give each other the opportunity to take the other in.

“Thank you for coming,” Harry’s voice is low when he speaks.

“Like I said, you asked me to.”

“We haven’t seen each other in months, Louis.” Harry sighs.

“We said we’d still be there for each other. You were there for me in January, H, when most people weren’t.”

“I’m always going to be there for you.” He says seriously.

“And I for you.” Louis replies matter-of-factly. “Now out with it,” he says and nudges Harry’s thigh with his knee.

Harry breathes in and out to prepare himself.

“I think this acting thing was a bad idea after all,” the other boy says. “What was I thinking, Louis?” He laughs with no humor in his voice. “I wasn’t ready for it, I’m not good enough for it and now everyone will know- I can’t go through another 2011.”

Louis knows what Harry means. 2011 was probably the best and worst year of their lives, because the bigger they got, the more uncertain they were that they could actually make it – the criticism never helped, and if Louis was the one to take it the hardest from the record label, Harry, for sure, was the one who suffered the most in the hands of the media.

It is normal that Harry is feeling this way. Louis understands he is nervous and he understands why he is feeling like this, and by understanding it, he also understands why Harry texted him instead of anybody else to be here right now.

You see, any other person would tell Harry not to feel this way. Whoever he called – it being family or an old friend, another bandmate or one of his LA mates – was going to say stop this, Harry, you know you’re Harry Styles, people love you , but they would all be so. Seriously. Wrong.

Because the thing is: Harry isn’t aware of who he is to the world. When people say that fame hasn’t changed him at all, not in the way it generally changes people, they don’t know it’s because even though Harry’s evolved as an artist and grown as a person, he still has the same insecurities as the sixteen year old boy that auditioned for The X Factor six years ago.

Harry Styles is still self-conscious about pimples on his face and the extra fat on his tummy if he stops exercising for over two weeks; he stills trains harder than any of them in vocal coaching and he still doubts that he is as good as Louis or Liam as a songwriter. No one else knows this, but Louis does. And Louis is here, to tell him that it’s okay to feel this way, you are allowed to be scared .

“Hey, yes, you can,” Louis tells him, holding his gaze. “It’s hard as fuck, but when did you ever want anything easy, Harry?” He asks the other boy. “You went there, you auditioned like everybody else, competed with other actors and got the part, so… Fucking Christopher Nolan thought you were ready and right . I think he understands a bit more about acting than you,” he jokes and Harry laughs a bit.

“It’s just—it gets harder every day. Filming, that is.”

“How come?”

“It’s like- I wear the same clothes every day, and they put some dirty-make up thing on my face every day, right?” He pauses and Louis nods. “And then there’s a lot of running and climbing walls and diving into the ocean, but also… There are lots of hard scenes.”

“It is a war movie, H.”

“I know, it’s just- people die, you know?” He furrows his eyebrows.

“But not for real, silly! I promise you the blood is probably just ketchup…”

Harry rolls his eyes. Louis has already made him smile twice, so they’re on the right track.

“It’s not it, you git,” he tells Louis. “Those scenes in which people die are intense, you know? You’re supposed to convey emotion and- like, I feel like a fraud. Those people have years of experience on me and there I am thinking about a sad thing to try and focus on what’s going on.”

“And does it work?” Louis asks and Harry nods. “So…?”

“I don’t know, I just- I don’t know , Louis, but I sometimes cannot breathe in there; it always hits me— the magnitude of it and I- I just. I just needed to see you,” he finishes weakly.

“I’m here, yeah?” He grabs Harry’s hand and squeezes it. “When d’you film next?” Louis asks him.

“Tomorrow.”

“And it’s one of those scenes?”

“Yes. But I swear I almost called in sick- I don’t even know if actors can do that, because I’m not an actor but I… I texted you instead.”

“First of all… You are an actor. Get used to it,” he chuckles. “You did well asking me to come here, Styles,” Louis smiles at him. “Because here’s what is going to happen: you have one more hour to wallow in your misery and feel sorry for yourself. You can cry, if you’d like.” Louis offers. “Or I can tell you about my life in the past few months, whichever you prefer, honestly, I’m here for you…”

“Second option, thank you,” a small smile appears on Harry’s face. “And after that one hour?’

“After that one hour you’ll grab your script and we’ll rehearse tomorrow’s scene.” Louis kind of commands. Harry’s eyes widen comically, but he nods unsurely anyway. “We’ll rehearse it till I say, in all of my Netflix experience, that you’re good to go. And after that you’ll cook us dinner, we’ll watch something, I’ll make fun of your hair and you’ll go to bed early.”

“I hate my hair,” he says in a low voice again. “I hate walking around without a beanie and I- yeah, I miss my curls.”

Louis’ heart breaks once again, and he moves closer just to touch it – it’s still soft and full and Harry’s.

“I love your hair,” Louis tells him.

“But you miss the curls too,” Harry states. Louis doesn’t argue with him there.

“You’re the most gorgeous person I’ve ever known, Harry. This is not going to change because you got your hair cut. Plus, you still look hot.” He offers him the compliment and Harry takes it, grinning and blushing – his dimples appearing for the first time today.

“You look hot, too, by the way. Always.”

“I know,” Louis brushes off because they can’t go down this road. “So, how does my plan sound?”

“You really want to rehearse with me? It can be ridiculous!” Harry warns. “You don’t know the plot and-”

“You can fill me in. Or not, if you want me to be overall surprised when I buy every ticket the nearest cinema is offering to your movie when it comes out…” They both laugh. Harry knows that Louis would do that. “Will that make you feel more comfortable? To rehearse today without an audience?”

“Yes.”

“So it’s settled.”

“I still have an hour, though!” Harry reminds him.

“Better make good use of it then.”

“Start talking, Lou,” the younger boy says. “I want to know about everything. How’s L.A? How’s your son? How- how are you?”

So Louis starts, and for one hour it’s like nothing’s ever changed.

Louis is Harry’s best friend, yes, but Harry is his too. It doesn’t matter how long they spend apart or how many people Louis meets along the way, at the end of the day it’s always Harry, the person he will feel more comfortable with, simply because Harry is his favorite person in the world – his favorite person to do everything with.

Harry’s Louis’ favorite person to talk with, to play videogames with, to drink tea with and watch movies with. So it’s no surprise that once he starts babbling about his insane schedule back in Los Angeles, he just can’t stop. He tells him about waking up really early sometimes just to go into the studio and prepare himself for the day ahead and he tells him about picking Freddie up every other day to just spend some time with him before having to go on another pap walk.

Louis tells Harry about how dirty he feels every time he does it. (They don’t go too deep into it, not now, because Louis doesn’t want Harry to end up comforting him – Louis doesn’t even think he deserves to be comforted, since he is the one doing it all, technically, out of his own free will.)

“I’ve read some rumors online…” Harry comments. “Is the custody battle really a thing? You didn’t mention anything in our previous texts…” Harry asks.

Louis loves that Harry’s just asked this; he loves it that he didn’t tiptoe around the topic like everyone who knows Louis generally does. But that’s just how they’ve always been, isn’t it? Louis and Harry never needed to be drunk or in the dark to talk about their deepest scars, fears and problems, so it’s only natural that Harry comes up with this question in broad daylight.

“No, it’s not,” Louis huffs out, “but it might as well become one.”

“Explain.”

“I hate her,” he chuckles. “I truly hate her, Harry, and her entire fucking family. But I also think he needs her, because he is a baby and she’s his mother, so…”

“But if you still see him, there’s no reason to go to court. Even if you hate her. Does she take good care of him?” Harry questions.

“Yeah, to an extent. She does expose him a lot.”

“So do you,” he points out.

“I hate myself too,” Louis grimaces. “It’s like there is this big ball of craziness growing more and more in Los Angeles, and all I can think about is that one day Freddie’s gonna grow up and have access to all of it, and I won’t be able to explain it to him, because I myself have no idea of what is going on.” He sighs.

“I don’t get it,” Harry frowns. “If it’s bothering you so much, why don’t you just stop it? I mean- you could, if you wanted to. We’re not contractually obligated to do any of this anymore. You don’t belong to Simon, Lou.”

Harry has a very valid argument right there.

“I think I just- I was scared,” he shrugs, “and I didn’t know how to handle it at the beginning, so I let them handle it. And now I can’t see a way out.”

“I’m sorry, Lou,” Harry offers and places a hand on his shoulder.

“It is what it is,” he grimaces one more time. “He’s great, though, you know? I know it might come across as if I don’t give a damn, but he’s just- he’s amazing.”

“Course he is. He looks just like you, by the way. He’s got your nose.” Louis looks weirdly at Harry now. He hasn’t sent Harry pictures of Freddie in forever. And the only and last time he saw Louis’ son, Freddie was still a week old, so unless Louis’ family has been keeping him updated on his growth… “I might’ve stalked Briana’s instagram the other day,” Harry laughs and puts an end to Louis’ questions. “She followed me,” he shrugs, “people on twitter were going mad about it, so I went and checked it out, it’s been a while.”

“I’m telling you, she’s insane,” Louis snorts. “I think the only person she’s more jealous of than Danielle is you.”

“She knows about us?” Harry’s eyes widen, as if there is one person in Louis’ personal life that doesn’t know that they were together, that Louis loved him with all the love he’s ever had to love someone, all the love he will ever have to love anyone.

Louis doesn’t even have the strength to reply to Harry, so he just nods.

“What about Danielle? You actually dating her? Actually, where do you know her from? That was so out of the blue,” Harry chuckles.

“You know I’m not,” Louis rolls his eyes. “She’s just a friend, there isn’t even a contract, we’re just helping each other out- I’ve known her brother for a while.”

“Hm.” Harry’s got his jealous expression on. And it would make Louis feel good if that weren’t so unfair. “Do I get to ask if you’re dating anyone for real?”

“Course you do,” he allows. “You get to ask everything.” Louis pauses and considers his next words. “I am. Well, don’t know if dating is the right word, but d’you remember David from that club we used to go in Silver Lake?”

“The TV director?” Harry asks and Louis nods. “No,” he laughs. “You used to make fun of him all the time.”

“He’s hot, Harry,” Louis shrugs.

“That he is.” The other boy smiles. “How long?”

“A couple of months. He’s easygoing and doesn’t pressure me; it’s been nice, and it’s all very private. Only Danielle and Oli know- and now you.”

“You’ve got a nice smile on your face, you know?” Harry offers. “Think you’re gonna fall for him?”

“You know I won’t,” Louis replies too quickly. But oh well, it’s the true.

“So let me get this straight: your family thinks you’re dating Danielle too?” Louis nods. “That’s fucked up.”

“It is. But although Daisy and Phoebe are old enough to understand the bullshit now, they’re not young enough to keep their mouths shut anymore. Lottie just doesn’t care, I’m pretty sure she hates me at this point. And Fizzy is uncontrollable. Mom’s just disappointed in me, all the time. I couldn’t put them through another lie, could I?” He looks down.

See, this is what Harry does to him: he makes him say what Louis really thinks, what he coaches himself to believe that he isn’t thinking. It’s as exhausting as it is liberating. And Louis is pretty sure Harry’s “hour” is almost over.

“I’m not judging, but…”

“You are.”

“But I think Jay should know. And Lottie doesn’t hate you, she misses you.”

“She talks to you?” Louis asks, raising his eyes.

“Every day.”

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to Louis, because Harry and Lottie have always been a gang of their own, but it’s still a bit of a shock to realize that two of the people he used to be the closest to are still close without him in the equation.

“Tell her I said hi.”

“You can tell her yourself.”

“Yeah…” Louis trails off. His last phone calls with his sister have been nothing but weird. “What about you, Styles? You dating anyone?”

Louis doesn’t even realize he is holding his breath until Harry laughs quietly and shakes his head.

“No,” he says, “haven’t since I started filming anyway. Or before that, I don’t know…”

“Not even Xander?” Louis asks with a sour taste in his mouth. He honestly supports Harry in whatever or whoever he wants to do , but he’s been around Xander many times to know he doesn’t like the man.

“We broke up ages ago.” He tells him and Louis frowns, so Harry explains. “He said I love you, I obviously didn’t say it back, so.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah.”

Harry said I love you to Louis less than two months into their relationship. Louis said it back.

“What a pair we are,” Louis chuckles, throwing his head back and resting it on the back of the couch. He then looks at Harry. “Are we ever gonna fall in love again, Hazz? With other people, I mean.” He asks him in a quieter tone.

Harry studies him for a while, squints his eyes and smiles sadly.

“I don’t know, Lou,” the boy finally answers. Something tells him that Harry’s thinking the same thing Louis is: not like that; never again like that.

Harry’s “hour” ends and Louis excuses himself from the living room to change into something other than skinny jeans. Harry offers him clothes so Louis doesn’t need to mess his things up in the suitcase and he accepts it in a heartbeat. Louis schools himself not to dwell in it – on its smell or on how it looks on him, on how he’s missed the softness that only something that was worn-out by Harry can have. He makes it back to the living room and there is Harry, script in one hand, coffee in the other, offering him some.

Louis bypasses the coffee and grabs one copy from Harry’s hand, doing something obnoxious to lighten the mood up, trying not to focus on the way Harry’s eyes pierce his shoulder and collar bones, where his too big of a shirt lets Louis’ body be half-exposed. Louis sits in an armchair and, after opening the window (Harry’s floor is high enough that they don’t need to worry about anyone seeing them), Harry stands in front of him, saying that he will start.

 

And it’s nice. The scene is pretty good and very intense, just like Harry had told him. Louis understands why it’s hard for the boy to find a connection with it, because it’s something that he never went through, would never go through in his entire life. It’s even hard to read it, because when Louis thinks about it, he also thinks that someone has already been through something similar – someone is going through it as they speak, and since the reality of war isn’t something that Louis thinks about every day, or ever, if he’s being honest, it hits him like a truck when he goes through the text one more time.

“It still isn’t right,” Harry voices.

“No,” he agrees and skims through it once again.

Harry waits.

“When you say that you think about sad things to, like, get into character, what do you think about?” Louis asks him without raising his eyes from the paper.

“Usually, like- people dying, how fucked up the world is… Those kinds of terrible things,” he shrugs.

“Nothing personal?” He asks, now looking at Harry.

“Not generally, no, it wouldn’t have much to do with the story… So…”

“But no one needs to know that.”

“What do you mean?”

“You’ll never know what war pain means, Harry.” Louis tells him. “As much as you’re politically aware, you have no idea of what it’s like to see men in uniform killing children and women around you, your best friends dying in crossfire, that sort of thing… And thank God for that,” he huffs out a laugh. “But you, Harry Styles, you know pain .” He states sadly. “I know you do, because I… I’ve seen you in pain, and I’ve shared your pain, so…” He looks down. “This script is amazing, and this scene’s gonna come out great if you just-”

“Focus on my saddest memory.” He finishes Louis’ sentence with wonder in his voice.

“Yeah.”

“Ok, yeah, ok. Let’s try this again.”

 

They go through it three more times. Louis may be a little bit biased, but he thinks Harry is brilliant , and when he says so, Harry goes from ‘teary-eyes’ to ‘wide-grin’ in less than one second, thanking Louis and hugging him tight, lifting him from the ground and twirling around in the middle of the flat.

“Put me down, you oaf,” Louis laughs. “I knew you could do it.”

“Do you wanna come tomorrow?” Harry blurts out. “I mean- you don’t have to, but- if you wanted to see the set and everything…”

“I don’t know, will I get to meet Mark Rylance?” Louis challenges.

“You’ll get to have lunch with Mark Rylance.”

“You serious?” His eyes widen. Louis has always been a proper fanboy; that hasn’t changed.

“Yes, Lou, I’m serious,” Harry chuckles. “You sure you want to come? ‘Cause then I’ll send your name in, so you get a credential to walk around and all that…”

“I mean, are you sure? Won’t I get in the way?” He checks. Harry says no, of course not . “Then I’d love to.”

 

Harry gets his MacBook to send the email and check some other things, and Louis turns his phone on again to check if Oli replied – he not only did, but also called a fuck-ton of times. He excuses himself and goes to Harry’s room to call his friend, not wanting to argue with anyone in front of Harry since he’s already stressed enough.

Louis was already waiting for him to say what the fuck are you doing there, Louis? when he picked up the phone, but he still gets pretty annoyed when Oli tells him how stupid Louis is being for going after Harry the second Harry asked him to. And Louis wants to argue, but there is no way he can explain to a person without sounding completely pathetic that that’s just the way it is.

It doesn’t matter how crazy life is, what he is doing or how long it has been, Harry will ask him to come and Louis will do so; just like the grass in green, the sky is blue and Taylor Swift is fake, Louis is going to be there for Harry no matter what, because Harry would do – has done – it for him too. But Louis understands why Oli can’t see it, since he is the one who picks up Louis’ pieces every time he breaks down missing his ex-boyfriend.

Oli warns him that he will crash and burn again, and Louis just nods, sighs, maybe chuckles nervously a little and says he won’t, they’re good now. He wants to convince himself they can do this, he can do this.

 

There’s a knock on the door and it startles him, so he ends the call and turns to see Harry standing there.

“Can I come in?”

“It’s your room,” Louis smiles.

“Wanna watch something?” Harry asks with his laptop in hands. “But in bed because my back’s hurting from that couch.”

“Sure, what are we watching? A movie? A TV show?”

“We could watch a movie- what are you in the mood for?” Harry moves to the bed and places the laptop there in the middle; he then gestures for Louis to join him and Louis goes, sitting comfortably by Harry’s side and staring at the Netflix screen in front of him.

“Any romcom is good with me, you know it.”

“Choose one, then,” Harry turns the computer to him. “You’ll end up picking one we’ve already watched a hundred times anyways…”

Louis rolls his eyes, but doesn’t even reply, because Harry is spot on. He clicks on the search bar and types The Notebook in there, preparing himself to suppress any tears that are bound to come, but at the same time feeling giddy inside that he and Harry will watch it together again.

“I have a question…” Louis starts, loudly and theatrically. “By any chance, is this still my account?” Harry smiles mischievously back at him. “Honestly, Styles, you’re a millionaire and you don’t even pay for your Netflix account…” He rolls his eyes and Harry shoves him on the shoulder.

Louis presses play.

 

I am nothing special; just a common man with common thoughts, and I’ve led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten. But in one respect I have succeeded as gloriously as anyone who’s ever lived: I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul; and to me, this has always been enough.

As the movie keeps going, Louis notices that Harry can’t help but lean into him. They’re sitting side by side, balancing the laptop on their thighs, and the sadder the story gets, the closer Harry is. And Louis can feel him all around. He feels all of the places where their bodies are touching, and when Harry places his head on Louis’ shoulder, he can feel a few of his tears wetting the shirt Louis is wearing.

For a few minutes Louis thinks back to the X-Factor. He remembers exactly the first time they watched this movie, in a tiny bunkbed and how tightly he held Harry that night, how much he already loved him right then, running his fingers through his messy curls and telling him to calm down, it was just a movie .

But it was never just a movie to them. Not because of the plot itself, but because of what it represented: an undying love. A love that would cross any boundary. A love that would last through eternity. Something that even when they weren’t mature enough to understand, they already felt.

The best love is the kind that awakens the soul and makes us reach for more, that plants a fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds, and that’s what you’ve given me. What I hope to give you forever. I love you.

So maybe Louis is crying a bit too. Maybe this was a terrible idea, but maybe both of them needed this moment. Maybe this is how they truly reconnect.

After the movie ends, they stare at each other and laugh. And then Harry thanks him, and Louis just hugs Harry. He doesn’t want to let go, but he eventually does, and he and Harry move to the kitchen to fetch some dinner. It’s all quiet and domestic, but Louis doesn’t let himself think too much about it.

Harry fills him in on other aspects of his life and he does the same. They talk a bit about the band. They mention how bizarre Liam and Cheryl are together and how afraid they are of asking if they’re actually a couple or if it’s just another stunt to help her. Who knows.

“And what about Neil?” Louis leans on the counter. “Is he actually going to work with Modest!? I mean… Weren’t we going to stay the fuck away?”

Harry just shrugs.

“It’s about golf, not music- if it works for him and doesn’t keep me in the closet for the next five years, I’m fine with it,” Harry chuckles.

“You really wanna come out, don’t you?”

“It’s more like… I don’t want to hide, is all,” he tells him.

“Understandable.”

“Yeah. I’m not about to make a big gay announcement,” Harry tells him. “I just don’t wanna do any more straight PR.”

“Not even with Kendall?” Louis teases. But he knows better. What happened in December was almost like a favor to her . And Louis actually finds Kendall Jenner a right laugh. Plus, he never felt threatened by her, so. Harry laughs back and calls Louis a menace. Just another day in their lives.

 

-

 

“Tea’s ready,” Harry lets him know when Louis comes out of the shower.

“Thanks,” he smiles shyly and grabs his cuppa. He doesn’t even need to drink it to know it’s perfect, because Harry made it, and Harry knows how Louis takes his tea, has made it for him countless times.

 

Louis agrees to sleep in Harry’s bed after the third time Harry assures him that it’s fine, the bed is big enough for the two of them. And it is, but that’s not what Louis is worried about, no. He’s not worried about sleeping by Harry’s side – he’s worried about remembering what it feels like to sleep by Harry’s side and then going back to his huge mansion and his own king size bed with no one to fill the empty space.

They say goodnight and Harry turns off the lights, lying by Louis’ side, leaving, of course, a respectable space between them. The room is in complete silence apart from cars passing down the street. They have to wake up at six in the morning, which is why they’re already in bed at nine thirty p.m. Louis wants Harry to fall asleep first, because then he’ll be able to sleep peacefully too, but as the time passes, no matter how hard Harry tries not to move, he can’t fool Louis into believing he’s already asleep.

“You’re still awake,” Louis whispers in the dark.

“I haven’t moved,” Harry whines defeated and Louis smiles endeared.

“Your breath is all wrong,” he offers back.

“You- I…”

“I’ve slept with you for years, Harry.” I used to count your heartbeats to fall asleep. “Have you been having trouble going to sleep every night?”

“Yeah…”

“For how long?” He questions him, eyes wide open. He can feel Harry’s gaze on him, now that he’s shifted on the bed, but he keeps staring at the ceiling.

“A bit more than a year.” Harry confesses. Louis wants dig a hole in the ground and bury his head in it.

“You need to sleep, Hazz,” he then turns to him, watching him with a fond expression. “Those scenes are… Draining, emotionally speaking. And you wake up really early every day from what you’ve told me.”

“I lie down pretty early, Lou; I just don’t fall asleep easily, is all.”

Louis sighs.

“What d’you need, Harry?” He asks.

“You know what I need.”

Louis just opens his arms and waits for Harry to scoot closer, tangle their legs and rest his head on Louis’ shoulder. He squeezes Louis’ middle and thanks him in the smallest of voices, and Louis doesn’t have the strength or courage to say anything back, he just kisses Harry’s head and closes his eyes, praying that he won’t miss him too much when he goes back to real life .

Harry’s breaths even in one minute. He’s asleep.

 

 



Chapter Text

The alarm clock goes off at five to six, but neither of them moves – to be fair, Harry doesn’t even wake up.

Louis doesn’t dare to open his eyes when he silences Harry’s phone on the bedside table, he just sighs deeply and tightens his arms a bit more around the boy that is still fast asleep in his arms. Louis tries to memorize this moment right here, promising himself he won’t forget what it feels like to hold Harry, to have his smell all around and on him; Louis focuses on not forgetting the way Harry’s hair tickles his neck and how the boy unconsciously caresses Louis’ chest, even in his sleep.

He moves just a bit, just so he can open his eyes and stare at him. Harry hasn’t moved the entire night, not even to turn on his side so Louis could hug him from behind, and Louis didn’t move either, and maybe it’s his still too slow morning-brain, but Louis thinks it’s because he was as scared as Louis himself: of letting go and finding out it was a dream.

Louis has dreamed about holding Harry again since the last time he did it.

 

The alarm goes off again at six am sharp. Louis takes the phone again and squints his eyes at the strong light coming from the screen – Harry still hasn’t learned how to turn it down a bit before going to bed. It almost makes Louis laugh, but he doesn’t want to startle the boy in his arms, and also: he doesn’t know what to do with himself. How does he wake Harry up without kissing him? Louis never did it before.

For a second there he considers it, just a press of lips, it won’t hurt anyone, now will it? Except for yourself , he remembers. He can’t do it, not to Harry, not to himself. Whatever they have is bigger than them, and it took them a long while to get where they are now, Louis can’t risk ruining it. He can’t go another four months without seeing him.

“Harry,” Louis whispers, running one of his hands up and down Harry’s arm. “Harry,” he calls again. “It’s time to get up.”

Harry’s brows furrow, he is clearly bothered by the disturbance.

“Hazz… You need to get up,” Louis sing-songs. “Have to go out there and conquer the world another day.” He smiles as he pokes the loose strands on Harry’s hair.

They don’t fall on his forehead anymore, instead, they’re all spiky, and Louis finds it really endearing.

“Hazz…” Louis says a bit louder, squeezing his hip.

’Mawake, ” Harry mumbles into Louis’ chest and presses closer to his body. Louis can’t . “Let’s just pretend for a few more minutes, then we wake up.” He speaks clearly, so Louis is sure he isn’t making things up. He complies with it, and for a second there it’s like they’re back to two thousand fourteen, getting up to face the world together and fight dragons off one more day. It’s a nice feeling. Louis savors it while he can.

Then he wakes up .

-

 

“What should I wear?” He asks Harry, searching for things in his suitcase.

“Whatever you want,” Harry comes from the bathroom. He’s wearing jean shorts and a yellow shirt that Louis is pretty sure belonged to him at some point. Or it was Harry’s and he used it all the time, now he can’t remember.

And that is probably what he hates the most: the fact that some of the most trivial things are escaping his mind because they are not trivial anymore. And it hurts. It hurts a lot, because Harry was never trivial for him.

Harry was the most outstanding part of his life, the one thing Louis saw brighter than anything else. And the fact that he and Harry shared trivial things made Louis feel like the luckiest person in the entire planet, because the best person in the world had decided to have a routine with him, to be domestic with him. It’s hard to realize what you have lost, but it’s even harder to deal with it when it’s right in front of you.

“I think it’s gonna be a bit cold there, we’re gonna film near water today… I’m only wearing this cause I’ll change into figurine anyway,” he tells him.

I’ll change into figurine, ” Louis mocks. “Look who’s being all professional,” he laughs a bit and so does Harry, shoving him on the shoulder and moving outside the room.

Louis opts for grey shorts, black tennis shoes and a green jumper, following Harry right away and accepting the tea he offers.

“There’s a car coming for us,” Harry lets him know and Louis nods, picking up a piece of toast from the plate on the counter. “Before we go I- hm, thank you, Lou, for last night.” He says, not really looking Louis in the eyes. “It was my best sleep in forever.”

“Don’t thank me,” Louis sighs. “It was mine too.” He confesses and laughs bitterly.

“We’re pathetic.” Harry states.

“Can’t disagree with you there, but hey- we’re good, yeah?” He asks him.

“Yes. We’re good, Louis.” Harry answers with a serene smile on his face and they turn away their gazes. They’re good .

 

-

 

The drive to the set is quiet and comfortable. It takes them at least thirty-five minutes to get there, but there’s music playing softly in the background and every now and then Harry makes conversation with the driver – about the weather, about the man’s children and wife and the bakery that has just opened down the street he’s currently on, but it’s all very low, because he remembers Louis doesn’t like disturbances in the morning. He mentally thanks the boy for it.

As they’re approaching Dunkirk’s set, Louis notices it right away, because there are vans and trailers around, people walking from one side to the other behind grey fences. The driver enters the gate and parks not very far from one of the trailers that Louis supposes is Harry’s. Harry thanks him, smiles, says a see you later and then gets out of the car with a c’mon, Lou .

Everything is huge. Louis has been to a few sets before, but his one is major . He wouldn’t expect anything less, since it’s a Christopher Nolan movie, but it’s still very astounding to be setting foot here, knowing that Harry Styles is a part of what will be another success. Louis recognizes the feeling, because he’s felt it many times before: he is proud of Harry. He couldn’t be prouder .

“This is where I get ready,” Harry points to the trailer Louis had already suspected. “But first we need to go there to get you your credentials.”

They walk side by side towards an open trailer, and Harry greets everyone on the way. No one spares Louis a second glance; they just smile politely as he does the same. Maybe it’s a normal occurrence for Harry to bring someone with him.

“Morning, Maddie!” Harry says, all chipper and excited. Harry is one of those people. “How are you?”

“Morning, Harry,” the girl smiles back. She’s around the same age as him, Louis supposes. Her hair is red and her eyes are big and brown. She also looks pretty happy for seven a.m. in the morning. “And this is your guest?” She looks at Louis.

“It is,” Harry smiles. “Maddie, Lou. Lou, Maddie. She’s a fan.” He lets him know.

“Oh. Oh, ” Louis then snaps out of it. “Hi, Maddie, nice to meet you.”

“You too. Trust me.” She says as she looks for something on the counter.

“You’re her favorite.” Harry says.

Harry, ” she half-screams embarrassed and Louis laughs. “He’s just jealous.”

“I just don’t understand, I’m clearly more handsome, nicer…” He starts listing and Louis shoves him on the shoulder. Maddie laughs and hands Louis his credential.

“Walk with it around your neck, okay? That way people won’t bother you,” she instructs and Louis nods. “Plus, you are my favorite.”

“Thank you, Maddie. It’s good to know some of our fans know who is, indeed, more handsome and waaay nicer,” he says it obnoxiously, smirking at Harry, who only rolls his eyes and smiles too.

“It’s, hm-” she starts uncertainly. “It’s nice to know you guys are still best friends,” the girl says lowly. “Not that I believed the media, I- I never did. It’s just nice to see.” She shrugs and Harry squeezes her shoulder.

They both leave the trailer thanking her one more time, and only when they’re near Harry’s trailer again does he tell Louis not to worry, because besides being very mature, Maddie is contractually obligated to keep everyone’s secrets. Louis is very familiar with NDAs, but he honestly hadn’t even thought about it up until now, because, somehow, he was not worried about her telling anyone about his presence here.

“I’m not worried,” he voices it.

“Right.” Harry snorts and keeps walking. Louis frowns and goes by his side.

 

It’s not a surprise when Louis sees that Harry has literally everyone wrapped around his little finger. From the make-up and hair-stylist to the catering people – whom he seems to know pretty well, because, according to the chef, he goes there every day after lunch to thank them for the fantastic food. Louis smiles super fondly when he finds out, and only minutes later he remembers to control his expression.

“What’re you doing?” Harry raises an eyebrow when Louis points his phone at him.

“Texting Lou a picture of someone else messing with your hair,” he chuckles.

“Met with her the other day in London, her, Lux, Gems and a friend of theirs… She was pretty jealous of my hair. More than you ever got, ” Harry teases.

“Somehow I doubt it,” Louis muses and snaps the picture, captioning it with don’t worry, Lou, I wouldn’t trade you for these fancy people.

Louise only responds with what the fuck are you doing there? Please, explain! And Louis has half a mind not to answer her, opening another text box to check on his friends in the United States, knowing no one will reply right away because they’re all asleep.

He texts Danielle first, asking her about their schedule for the rest of the month. Louis has been having really quiet, good days, so he’s prepared for a sequence of pap-walks when he goes back, he just needs to know all of the dates. Then he texts Oli, asking him the same – because his friend keeps tabs of his dates and times – and lastly, he texts Briana, asking for news on Freddie, who he is going to see this weekend.

There are times when he truly misses his son. But there’s an ugly part of Louis that kind of doesn’t, and he’s never been able to talk about it, doesn’t even allow himself to think about it. And thank God, the minute he starts, Harry calls his name again.

“I’m ready,” he lets Louis know, and it’s incredible how much he’s changed.

His hair is full of product and really soldier-like, and his face is, indeed, dirty . He’s got foundation underneath it, Louis notices, but the black paint is perfectly spread on his cheeks, nose, chin and forehead – making it seem that he’s just gotten out of an explosion. He’s still beautiful.

“Where to now?” Louis asks and gets up, pocketing his phone after silencing it.

“Got a text, we’re gonna start filming.”

“Already?” Louis frowns. “Aren’t you supposed to- like, read at a table before?”

Harry chuckles at that.

“We’ve already gone through this scene many times- even rehearsed it. Today’s just footage, which is why I was so nervous yesterday, I- I was scared.”

“You’re gonna be brilliant, love,” the woman who was working on Harry’s face beat Louis to it. He never got her name. “Please, calm your boy down,” she then looks at Louis.

He doesn’t correct her saying that he isn’t his boy anymore , because neither does Harry.

“He knows he will,” Louis responds and smiles at her. “C’mon, Hazza. Let’s impress some old talented people,” he jokes and opens the door.

Louis is met with one of those golf-carts he used to drive around like a mad person during tour and his eyes shine immediately. Harry notices it right away and laughs.

“You’re not messing around here,” he says before Louis can get a word out and Louis chuckles. “ Bonjour, Pierre, ” he shakes the man’s hand.

’Arreh !” The man greets with a very French accent.

“This is Louis, Louis, this is Pierre.”

C’était agreable de t’avoir recontré, ” Louis says and sits by Harry’s side.

“Very good French, boy. Has ‘Arreh here been teaching you?”

“He taught me, actually,” Harry offers and Louis is taken back to their Up All Night tour French lessons. It seems like forever ago and at the same time just like yesterday. It’s what time does to you, Louis supposes, it messes you up more than it heals, in some cases.

Harry is one of those cases, Louis decides. He hates that their best moments are in the past. He hates it that “it feels like *insert here whatever amount of time you want to* ago”, he hates the ago at the end of the sentence, because he doesn’t want Harry to be in his past. He doesn’t want to be in Harry’s past. They were supposed to be each other’s futures. Where the fuck did they leave this plan? Why the fuck is it forgotten and left behind? Louis absolutely hates it.

Once they arrive at the exact location Harry is going to film, Louis starts to recognize everyone, and he can’t help but feel very giddy inside, to see all of those people at the same place, to know that his boy is one of those people, and how seemly he fits in with them.

“Let me introduce you to Chris,” Harry says as soon as they get out of the cart.

“Oh, it’s Chris now?” Louis teases him and Harry smiles, saying something about taking him two months to feel less intimidated by the director.

Christopher Nolan is right there, talking to two men in uniforms, who Louis thinks are extras, and opens a broad smile as soon as he notices Harry. So. He’s got one of the best directors at the moment in love with him too. No news there, right?

“Good morning, Harry Styles,” the man says.

“G’Morning.” Harry says and half-hugs him. “This is Louis, my bandmate.” He introduces. “He’s here to help me with my nerves, I suppose,” Harry laughs. “Lou, Christopher Nolan. Just the guy who directed Batman.”

“Huge, huge fan, honestly.” Louis says as he shakes his hand. “Although I still don’t understand why you casted this knobhead here…” He jokes and Harry blushes, looking away.

“He’s brilliant. Trust me,” Nolan says.

“I was just joking. I don’t doubt it for one second,” Louis agrees with him.

“I’m glad you picked someone who’s supportive, son.” The director says to Harry and pats him on the shoulder. Harry blushes furiously one more time and, right now, so does Louis. Pick someone who’s supportive . “We start filming in fifteen. Get acquainted and comfortable, Louis. We’ll be here at least four hours,” he says.

“I’m good, Sir, thank you.”

“For the love of God, Harry, tell him not to call me Sir!” The man puts a hand on his heart, faking outrage.

“Don’t call him Sir, Lou, makes him feel old.”

Louis nods and feels comfortable already, following Harry as he introduces him to everyone around. They all have this look on their faces, as if they kind of already know who Louis is, but they still smile politely and introduce themselves, shaking hands and sometimes hugging.

It’s a little past nine a.m. when John Bernard, one of the producers, calls everyone to let them know they’re about to start.

Louis is impressed with everything: from the set to the organization to the people around him. Fucking Tom Hardy arrived only five minutes ago and introduced himself to Louis when Harry was away and thanked him for being there. Jesus Christ.

 

The filming starts and the atmosphere changes. Louis sits by Cillian Murphy’s side, since he isn’t in on this take, and he stops breathing the moment Christopher says action .

 

-

 

Louis is crying. Well, not completely crying, but he’s got tears in his eyes, he’s kind of blubbering. Harry, though, is hyperventilating once the scene is finished for the last time. He only got better each take, but this last one had to be it , because 1) it was absofuckinglutely perfect, and 2) Harry is clearly distressed.

Tom seems to be too, but he’s controlling himself better, probably because of his experience, but once the director says cut and that’s it, everybody , Harry, who is collapsed on the floor, a few feet away from Louis, stays there, not even looking up. Louis wants to go there. He wants to hug him and run his fingers through his hair, but somehow he manages to sit on both of his hands and take deep breaths.

Mark Rylance goes to his rescue. Everyone is pretending that nothing is happening and later today Louis will find out that it’s because they all know when to give actors space after a very strong, heavy scene. But Louis knows Harry and he knows Harry doesn’t need space. He needs to feel safe. He is glad Harry’s newest guru realizes it too.

Mark hugs Harry strongly by the sides and Harry shakes in his arms.

“He’s okay,” A guy named Fionn, who was also in the scene, nudges Louis and tells him. “Mark’s got him. C’mon, I’ll show you the cafeteria.”

And Louis follows the guy, hoping that Harry will find him in no time.

 

When Harry shows up, even though his hair’s still perfectly done, he’s got his clothes back on and his face cleared, and it’s almost one p.m.; they’re all starving, and as Louis talks to people, now even more comfortable, he notices what a great team Harry is working with.

He sticks by Fionn because he seems like a nice dude, and they both join John for lunch, talking about football and England’s disaster in the Eurocup.

“Well, we tried,” Louis shrugs. “I think the biggest surprise this year was Belgium, though- maybe Wales,” he gives his input.

“I should’ve bet with Mark you’d be talking about football already,” Harry voices and laughs, sitting with his plate across from Louis on the table, Mark on Louis’ side.

“Don’t be a menace,” Louis rolls his eyes.

“He can’t not be one,” Cillian comments, joining them too.

“Who do you think I learned it from?” Harry questions his co-worker. “I’ve been on the road with Louis Tomlinson for five years.”

“That is pure defamation!” Louis fakes outrage.

“Somehow I think it is pretty accurate,” Fionn agrees. Louis shuts up and eats his chicken.

As they keep eating, the topic changes from one thing to another without ever finishing a conversation, and Louis thinks it’s good. He studies Harry’s features and he looks okay now, and he doesn’t notice that Mark Rylance is studying him while he does so.

Harry offers to stay till the rest of the day so Louis can see his new best friend – he refers obnoxiously to Cillian – record his scene and Louis accepts it right away; he’s enjoying a lot being here.

-

 

The ride back to Harry’s flat is just as peaceful as the one they took in the morning, only this time Louis talks with the driver too, and learns all about his family and even that Harry’s met them one day for brunch surprising his kids. Louis has lost count of how many times Harry did this for taxi drivers, bakers, cashiers at the supermarket near their old place… He’s always just giving himself to people, trying to make them happy, and that was the very first thing Louis loved about him.

As they approach Harry’s place, he remembers that he’s got nothing to make dinner, and asks the driver to stop by a small market a few streets away. Harry told Louis that he knows where to go without being papped here in France with such pride in his eyes that Louis can’t help but open a huge smile before he boy exits the car, saying it will be just a minute .

“That boy is gold, you know that?” The driver comments.

“I do, trust me,” Louis doesn’t mean to sound defensive, but he thinks he kinda does.

“You were in that band with him, weren’t you?”

Am . Still am. We’re still a band.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah… We just took a little break.”

“You’re the one with the kid, right? Hazza tells me about all of you, plus my daughters are always on about you guys…” The man laughs and Louis catches it through the rearview mirror.

“I am.”

“Shouldn’t you be with your kid, then?” The man frowns and whoa , passive-aggressive much? “Sorry, I didn’t mean that. Or, I mean, I did, but it wasn’t my place—Harry seems really happy you’re here.”

“I’m happy I’m here too,” is all Louis answers, and it’s all awkward silence from then on.

So Louis is thinking about it again. Freddie, that is, and how his relationship with him is nothing but strange. He’s a few months old and Louis should still be all over him, but instead he’s halfway across the world with his ex-boyfriend. It’s too fucked up for him to even understand, especially because he knows that if he were in Los Angeles he wouldn’t be with him anyways, not with Briana’s strict rules.

Louis tries to convince himself that she isn’t a bad person. God, he tries so much. But the more time passes the more he hates her and it’s just so damn hard to watch his son being raised by someone like that, with a family like that, that he wishes he had the guts to actually go to court and take him from her.

What Louis doesn’t tell people, what he hasn’t even told Harry, is that he wouldn’t know how to go about life having full custody of a child he wasn’t even ready to have in the first place. What Louis doesn’t tell people, what he probably will tell Harry, eventually, is that he is too selfish to abdicate the life he has to be a full-time dad.

What Louis doesn’t tell people, and he thinks Harry knows it because Harry knows him , is that he can’t think about the way he’s handling things or he’ll start to hate himself just as much as he hates his biological father. Or worse, he’ll start to understand his biological father.

What Louis doesn’t tell people is that he wants to be selfish; he wants to keep traveling the world with the band, and he wants to keep making his dreams come true with those other three men he’s grown to love so much. But he also doesn’t want to be a bad person. Louis doesn’t tell people, and doesn’t admit to himself, but he’s lost.

 

-

 

Harry cooks them dinner again, and the familiarity of it all is what almost kills Louis one more time. Louis helps him however he can, but there isn’t much to be done – Harry rarely likes people messing around when he’s making food, so mostly Louis watches and tastes things throughout the process just to tell Harry what he already knows: it’s delicious.  

“You know what, I think your cooking is the thing I miss the most,” Louis tells him.

“Funny, I thought you’d say cock,” he replies unabashedly, a smirk on his face.

“You’re an asshole, Harry,” Louis rolls his eyes. “I’m gonna smoke.” He then announces.

“Lou-”

“’S just a smoke. Let me know when dinner’s ready.” He sighs and goes outside.

He asked for it, he knows, but for a while there he thought Harry would have some mercy and maybe not joke about it, not when Louis deliberately told him he missed him. And he does. God, he misses Harry so much. Harry’s right here , a few feet from him, singing Norah Jones and cooking one of Louis’ favorite meals and Louis still misses him.

Deep down he knew they’d break up at some point. They were burning too bright when they were together, and they burned everything, including each other. He was so scared of when it would happen. He was so sure he would be the one to do it that, in the end, it was Harry.

Louis hates that he’s thinking back, but what else can he do? Everything that happened to him from then on was just bullshit piling up, and now he has baby that he’s got no idea how to take care of properly, another fake girlfriend, a guy he fucks on the regular so he won’t go insane without sex and a bunch of unfinished lyrics that can’t amount to anything because they manage to be more obvious than the ones he’s already written.

Louis doesn’t blame Harry. Doesn’t want to blame Harry. But right now he kinda does.

 

France’s already gone dark and it’s too cold for a spring day, but he can’t be bothered to get a jumper. The cigarettes help him. He’s breathing in and out peacefully, finishing his third when Harry calls his name softly.

 

“You were chain smoking,” the other boy comments, playing with food. “Bad habit that one.”

“Bad habits die hard, they say,” Louis snorts. Terrible habits, like loving people you’re supposed to get over. Like being in love with them for six and a half years now and not being able to imagine a day you won’t.

“’M sorry I was kind of a dick,” Harry says, “I was out of line. Plus, you’re fucking someone else so you clearly don’t—hm- miss me that much, uh?” He jokes. Harry jokes about it. God, Louis wants to strangle him.

“I’m just gonna forget the last half hour happened, including your apology,” he tells him. “Now tell me, Harold, what are our plans for tomorrow?”

“Our?”

“Unless you’re kicking me out…?”

“Oh, no, no , never!” Harry’s a bit startled. “I just- I didn’t know you were staying.”

“I got Freddie on the weekend, but- nothing scheduled till then. I mean, nothing that couldn’t be rescheduled anyways,” he shrugs.

“Oh, nice,” his ex opens a smile. It’s not a dimpled one, but it’s enough for the moment. “D’you miss him?”

“A bit,” Louis answers uncomfortably and finishes chewing his meat. “I… Most of the time I don’t feel like this father.” He confesses.

“How come?”

“Come on, Harry, I see him once a week, if that. That’s not how I wanted to have kids, you know?” It’s a rhetorical question, because of course Harry knows.

Harry knows because Louis wanted to have kids with him. Kids , plural.

They were going for three, but it could’ve been five, and they’d do it all together: sleepless nights, diaper changes, first time at the doctor. Everything. They’d spoil their kids rotten and they’d be the proudest fathers in the entire universe. Louis would post so many silly pictures and videos on instagram that people would get sick of it, but he’d defend them from each and every pap that came their way until the kids were old enough to walk, probably.

They’d live in a huge house in London, and visit their moms on the weekends. They’d alternate between Doncaster and Holmes Chapel, and maybe invite everyone over to their place once a month. Gemma would be the godmother – that was settled from the very start, because she was the first person to know about them. The second being Niall.

Louis had this whole vision of how his life would turn out to be. And now here he is.

“I know,” Harry says. “I- I know . I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, you said that,” he answers and smiles, looking up so he doesn’t cry. “Anyways. Tomorrow?”

“Not much, to be honest. Can take you to watch them shoot, if you want, but uh- I don’t think I have to go in, actually.”

“Oh, okay, we’ll see in the morning,” Louis smiles.

“At night there’ll be a pub thing- Mark wants us all to go, and it’ll be nice.” Harry smiles back.

“Yeah, okay. I think I have clothes for that.”

“It’s super private.”

“I know.” He answers and can’t help but roll his eyes again.

Harry is never seen unless he’s in the mood to be seen. Out of all of them, he is the one who knows the best places to go and be himself without being afraid of paps and people with smartphones pointed at him. Harry knows how to go out like someone who isn’t world famous and Louis is still trying to learn how he does that.

It’s going to be a fun night. God knows he needs to hang out with a different crowd and not worry about a thing.

They finish dinner in silence, but it’s not comfortable like it used to be. They’re both overanalyzing each other, and Louis does his best to hide whatever he’s feeling, but he knows it’s useless.

He never stood a chance against Harry, is the thing. You see, Harry fell for him first, but at times Louis thinks he was the one to fall harder. There were times that it was hard to be around Harry. Louis was jealous and possessive, but not because he wanted to be that way, but because he couldn’t control it.

There were times they were being interviewed and Harry would breathe and Louis would want him. If they were taking a picture and Harry’s hand brushed his, Louis would lose it. And Harry was like this too, Louis knows , but he just- he can’t find a way to move past this. No matter “how much cock he’s been getting”. Lord knows Louis would commit to a life of celibacy if this was what it took to be with Harry again, forever.

 

“I’m knackered. We can do the dishes tomorrow,” Harry says and gets up, taking their plates to the sink.

“Go to sleep, I can do it.”

Harry doesn’t argue, but doesn’t say goodnight either, just walks towards his bedroom. Louis washes the dishes and takes a long shower afterwards, trying to ease the knots on his back with his own hands but failing at it. He knocks his head on the shower tiles three times before he turns off the water, and when he leaves, he notices the light’s still on in Harry’s room and the door ajar.

He’s waiting for Louis to fall asleep like he’s always done when they were together. Fuck you, Harry , Louis thinks as he turns off the lights and slides by his side.

 

“Lou.” Harry calls when they can’t see each other anymore.

“What?”

“I did a good job today, didn’t I?” He asks. “It was- it was hard, but—but I did a good job, right?”

Louis smiles. This is such a Harry thing to do too. And how can Louis hate him in one second and then be completely endeared by him in the next?

Harry’s just taking this time around, is the thing. Louis is here for him and Harry is draining every last ounce of self-love Louis still has.

“You did a terrific job, H.” He answers assuring him. “What were you thinking… The- the sad memory, the saddest memory. To film. What were you thinking about when you cried?”

“Our break up.”

Louis kind of chokes.

“That’s your saddest memory?” He asks, just to be sure.

“Yeah…” Harry breathes out and Louis knows he is crying, but he doesn’t dare to look at him right now. He can barely hold himself together as it is.

Their break up is Louis saddest memory too. But, in a way, it’s more than that: is the place Louis never allows himself to go back to. It’s dark, and it’s void, and it’s exactly like his heart.

“This isn’t fair, Harry.” He tells him. “You’re not being fair.”

“No.” Harry answers. At least he knows . “I’m sorry, Louis.” He whispers. “God, I’m so sorry.” And Harry’s full on sobbing now. Louis looks at him and can’t see much, but he notices Harry’s hands on his face. “I loved you so much. I- I love you so much it physically hurts.”

“But love’s not enough.” Louis completes his sentence of one year and a heart break ago. “Goodnight, Hazz. Get some sleep.” He turns on his side and shuts his eyes close.

Louis counts to ten till he feels Harry’s body getting closer. He stretches his arm on the bed and Harry curls in, his head falling on Louis’ chest. Nothing is fine and Louis is torn - ripped apart. But after everything, he owes Harry that much.

Tomorrow’s going to be a new day.



Chapter Text

Louis isn’t feeling better when he wakes up. If anything, he’s only heavier and wondering what the fuck he’s still doing here if it hurts him so much.

He managed not to think about it for a long time. About the night they broke up. Because it was useless and wouldn’t bring him closure; nothing will. But now that he’s in Harry’s presence, their break up is everything he thinks about.

And as he thinks about it, Louis also thinks about the things that led to it.

By March 2015, they were all exhausted. Zayn was leaving and never coming back. Liam and Sophia were almost breaking up and Liam could barely focus on anything. Harry was coming out in his own terms, despite management trying to hold him back. And Louis and Niall were just trying to keep the band together.

[Do you think we’re gonna make it through this year? Niall asked him once. Louis didn’t know, he didn’t know a thing, but God, he wanted them to last.

Not if we don’t go on a break, he answered.

But the break wasn’t supposed to be like this. It wasn’t supposed to be lasting this long and they weren’t supposed to lose touch almost completely.]

 

One day Harry said he wanted to talk and somehow Louis knew that that was it. It had been coming since the end of 2014, so when he broke things off with Eleanor publicly but signed another deal with the people who were keeping his image straight, Louis had the feeling that Harry wouldn’t accept it this time. Selfishly so, he thought their love for each other would make his boy hold onto him for another year. He was so, so wrong.

 

“Cillian says he’ll only film in the afternoon, d’you wanna go see the other guys?” Harry asks when Louis enters the kitchen.

“G’Morning.” He looks at Harry.

“Morning.” The boy answers. His voice is more hoarse and lower, like it always gets in the mornings.

“I actually need to get some work done, so maybe we only head there later…?”

“Whatever you want, Lou.” Harry smiles serenely. “Think I’m gonna do some writing then.”

“You’ve been writing?” He asks surprised.

“Yeah. I mean, I should be. But no, not really.”

“Hm.”

“I… Kind of got inspired.” Louis only nods, still holding his breath. “What work have you got to do?”

“Contract stuff, about the label… There’s a girl band I signed and—yeah.”

“I’ve heard about that, that’s nice.”

“Been keeping tabs on me, Styles?” A small smile plays on Louis’ face when he asks, and it’s almost flirty, almost light, almost like he can get out of this week whole.

“Of course I have.” Harry smiles again and Louis would believe it’s a genuine one, but he knows everything there is to know about Harry Styles, and this boy is so far away from “fine” that “fine” must be living in another continent.

 

The weirdest thing is that the day goes by normally, like last night and many other nights have never happened. Louis sits on the couch with his MacBook and opens his email to start working and Harry grabs a notebook and a pencil, sprawling his body on the carpet and focusing on what he’s writing.

Every now and then he’ll ask Louis for some advice, like what rhymes with break, Lou? and Louis will give him a few choice of words, pretending he’s not dying to know what he is working on. Then, Louis will sigh really loudly because he can’t seem to understand what the lawyer is saying, and Harry will get up and come back with a chocolate bar for him – “I know it helps you when you’re frustrated”.

They’re still the dream team. Only it seems like a nightmare now.

 

-

 

Louis totally does not freak out when he’s getting ready to go to the pub, and he totally does not change clothes at least three times. He hasn’t got many options, so he ends up wearing the only pair of black skinny jeans he brought and a grey buttoned shirt with its long sleeves rolled up to his elbows and black vans, because it’s also the only pair of shoes he’s brought.

He styles his hair the best he can with the lack of products and laughs in front of the mirror, because somehow he looks exactly the way Harry prefers. It’s not funny, he’s clearly laughing out of nervousness, because even subconsciously he’s still expecting something when there is nothing to be expected.

“Lou, you ready?” Harry asks knocking on the door and stepping in right after.

Louis first sees him through the mirror and still needs to catch his breath. Apparently he wasn’t the only one who dressed up for the other.

Harry Styles is wearing white jeans, so Louis has trouble taking his eyes off his legs right there. Louis bets he’s also wearing boots. He looks up to find the other boy with a short sleeved blue shirt that hangs loose on his body, and shows off his chest tattoo, with its first four buttons open.

  Louis’ mouth is watering, but he turns around controlling his expression – he thinks.

“I am. I mean. Am I?” He asks. Harry looks fresh out of a runaway and Louis looks- well, like Louis.

Harry doesn’t answer for five heartbeats, and when he finally seems to get out of his trance, he blinks really fast, checking Louis out one more time.

“Yeah… I’m gonna call a cab.” Harry lets him know and rushes out of the bathroom.

Tonight’s gonna be interesting.

 

-

 

Tonight’s basically headed for a disaster, but Louis doesn’t notice it right away.

The pub is nice and, well, very French. Louis doesn’t like French stuff much, if he’s being honest, but the place is closed only for them and there’s a footie game on the screens, so with a pint in hand, he thinks he can get by.

People like him just fine, he thinks. He sits at a table with the guys he’s already met and throughout the night he meets some others, but nothing too formal, just the regular ‘nice to meet you’ he gives anyone who’s in the industry and Louis has never heard of.

Harry shines, and Louis can’t take his eyes off of him.

The boy walks around the pub like he’s a fucking king, and maybe he is. Harry is twenty two years old and has all those men at his mercy (all those men including Louis). Everyone seems to be endeared by him, and Louis can see Cillian throwing his head back laughing at one of Harry’s probably terrible puns. Louis feels proud that he’s the one who knows that amazing person the most, and that he gets to love that person - even if he doesn’t get to have him anymore.

 

“Do people ever believe you guys aren’t head over heels for each other?” Fionn slides by Louis’ side on the booth, handing him another pint. He’s lost count of how many he drank tonight, but it’s okay.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he plays it coy.

“Oh, Louis, come off it.” The actor replies.

“Some.” He answers then. “I mean, most people believe it. I’ve got a kid and a girlfriend, so.”

“Bullshit. You have a kid?” Fionn’s eyes are big and totally surprised.

“Have you been living under a rock?” Louis asks back and snorts. “Not to be an ass, mate, but literally everyone knows about it.”

“Can’t say I ever looked you up online and I don’t really watch the news, so,” he shrugs. “I only know you through Harry.”

“Harry talks about me?” He frowns.

“Shouldn’t he?”

“We hadn’t spoken in a long time before this week.”

“Weird. You’re literally all he talks about.”

“Stupid boy…” Louis smiles and looks at him again. Harry’s doing shots now with some people from the crew. He’s gonna get so drunk.

“I don’t get it.” Fionn then says. Louis looks at him as if he’s asking what don’t you get? So he continues. “I really thought you were in love.”

“We are.” He replies and finishes his pint in one gulp. “We worked really well for five years, almost. And then we just—didn’t.”

“But you- you guys seem okay now?”

Louis laughs, it’s loud.

“Okay’s the only thing we aren’t.”

“So why are you here?” He asks. “Well, I’m sorry, totally not my place, I just met you, I mean-”

“I love him,” Louis shrugs. “Always have, always will. He’s my best friend. He’s always there for me; I’m always there for him, that’s the deal. Even if it breaks our hearts.”

“That’s fucked up.”

“There isn’t one thing about the last six and a half years of my life that isn’t fucked up, mate.” He answers, thinking about One Direction. “Doesn’t mean I’d change any of it.”

And he means it.

Of course there are times Louis wishes he could stop the tape and rewind.

There are times Louis wishes he weren’t gay and there are times he wishes he weren’t this rich and this famous. There are times Louis just wishes he had never auditioned for The X Factor and there are really hard, dark times when Louis wishes he’d never met that curly, beautiful lad – and there are times he wishes he had never fallen in love with him.

Still, there are other times that Louis is sitting on a booth at a random pub in France, and he looks at Harry and he loves him so fiercely that he can’t, for the life of him, regret anything. Because times like this, in spite of everything, Louis is thankful.

 

-

 

“Lou, I think I’m drunk!” Harry says and sits by his side, hugging him by the shoulders. “D’you think I’m drunk?”

“Yeah, I do, love,” Louis laughs along and brushes the hair out of his face. He’s still getting used to it. Who would’ve said that one day Louis’ hair would be longer than Harry’s… “D’you think you’re ready to go?”

“Yes. Can we go? Can we have breakfast when we get there?” He smiles big.

“Yes, Hazz, we can.”

Harry always craves breakfast food when he’s drunk, and this is the only reason Louis learned to cook something other than the famous chicken wrapped in parma ham.

They say a round of goodbyes and Fionn Whitehead hugs him a bit too tight for it to be just a goodbye, and then he whispers a good luck to Louis, to which he only smiles and nods back in a silent thank you.

 

Another thing Harry is when he’s drunk is clingy, or, well, clingier. But Louis is too, and he’s way past tipsy as well, even if he’s better than the other boy, so they play with each other’s hands in the back of the taxi on the way to the flat and Louis even lets Harry grab his thigh with one hand and draw circles there with the tip of his finger, because Harry promises he’s drawing a masterpiece on another masterpiece, making Louis chuckle at his creativity.

 

“We won’t have bacon for tomorrow morning,” he lets Harry know as he puts the last strips in the frying pan, the noise being kind of annoying, but the smell amazing.

“I’ll go grocery shopping when we wake up, no prob- or we can just have breakfast at the set.”

Louis agrees with him and pays attention to the task at hand. When he turns to the counter and the stove, Harry’s got a bottle of water in hands and is trying to drink it all to help him sober up. When he turns back around Harry’s coming back from his bedroom wearing only tight black boxers and his cross necklace – needless to say, he looks fantastic.

Fuck, Louis whispers to himself as he brings their plates to the sofa, neither of them keen on sitting on the stools in the kitchen. They share a meal and drink their teas, and Louis feels pleasantly sober now – no headache, no nothing.

Harry gets softer by the minute, and this is a nice change.

His ex-boyfriend is now broader and more manly and Louis doesn’t think he’s ever counted so many packs on his abs as he is seeing now. His arms are way bigger and stronger and his chest is also defined, more than ever. Harry’s thighs continue to amaze Louis and so do his hands and he shamelessly roams his eyes over Harry’s entire body till they land on his face again.

Harry’s also staring at him, undressing Louis with his eyes, and Louis needs to look away from the fire in his eyes if he wants to breathe, so he focuses on the TV. They had settled for old video clips on a channel they’d never heard of before and You and Me by Lifehouse has just come on the screen. Louis laughs internally.

What day is it? And in what month?

This clock never seemed so alive.

I can’t keep up and I can’t back down

I’ve been losing so much time

He does his best not to pay attention to the lyrics, but it’s kind of impossible. He and Harry have danced to his song so many times in so many different hotel rooms all around the world…

‘Cause it’s you and me and all of the people

With nothing to do, nothing to lose

And it’s you and me and all of the people

And I don’t know why I can’t keep my eyes off of you

Like he’s reading Louis’ mind, Harry gets up and stretches out a hand asking him to dance. Louis doesn’t think when he takes it. Of all the times they have slow danced, this is probably the saddest one – sadder than when they danced after Harry kissed Taylor Swift on New Year’s Eve.

Harry starts singing along, mouth right on Louis’ ear, so close it almost wets its outer ridge, and Louis shivers through it all, pressing closer to Harry and guiding their steps as best he can with all this turmoil going on inside him. He thinks he can actually feel his heart break more and more every time he inhales Harry’s scent.

All of the things that I want to say just aren’t coming out right

I’m tripping on words

You got my head spinning

I don’t know where to go from here

To be honest, Louis doesn’t know either. This song has always represented so much for the two of them. It’s always meant so much more to them than to anybody else. Because it has always been only the two of them – the two of them and all of the people around them, staring, judging and scrutinizing their lives and their friendship, wanting to know more, trying to suck the life out of them and their relationship.

And amidst all of that, they only had eyes for each other.

The chorus plays again and Louis’ mind keeps wandering in the past. Harry keeps singing and he keeps seeing every hotel room, every middle of the night in which they were wide awake and loving each other – and loving and loving and loving some more, believing that what they had was never going to end.

God, Louis remembers like it was only yesterday the first time someone told him how stupid he looked in Harry’s presence and vice-versa. It was James Corden, he thinks, who said he likes you back when Louis was still very unsure on those first X Factor days.

Something about you now

I can’t quite figure out

Everything you do is beautiful

Everything you do is right

Harry backs away a bit to look at Louis, while still singing this part. They keep swaying to the rhythm of the music, only now they are looking at each other and Harry’s got tears in his eyes while Louis’ got tears in his heart, and it’s all the same.

Louis brings one hand to Harry’s face, and he feels this is probably very wrong, there are so many things to be considered. What is he even doing? Does he know?

Harry goes pliant the second Louis touches his face. Louis uses his thumb to softly caress the boy’s cheek and Harry closes his eyes. Louis catches one of his tears as it streams down and this is not how it is supposed to be. Love’s supposed to be better than this. Love isn’t supposed to hurt this much.

‘Cause it’s you and me, and all of the people

With nothing to do, nothing to lose

And I don’t know why I can’t keep my eyes off of you

And me and all of the people, with nothing to lose, nothing to prove

And it’s you and me and all of the people

And I don’t know why I can’t keep my eyes off of you

“Louis.” Harry says and connects their foreheads.

He’s so close; his body’s emanating heat and Louis is currently losing his mind again, but losing his mind in Harry. In everything Harry is, everything he represents, everything he will always mean.

What day is it? And in what month?

This clock never seemed so alive.

“Louis, please,” he whispers very lowly. His eyes are closed and Louis can’t stop staring at him. “Just for tonight, Lou, please.”

There is nothing in this entire world Louis wouldn’t do for him.

Louis closes the distance between them the second a new song starts playing, and he thinks it is Wonderwall by Oasis – he almost laughs at the irony. It’s another one of their songs.

As soon as their lips touch, though, everything else stops existing. Louis’ entire body responds to this single action, and Harry whimpers in his mouth, gripping Louis’ hips strongly and pulling him impossibly closer, as if he’s afraid Louis will run if he lets go.

But Louis won’t; can’t. He just hugs Harry back and places one hand in his short hair, applying more pressure on his lips and sliding his tongue inside, dragging it against Harry’s own, not even needing to fight for control, because Harry already gives it to him – always has.

They walk together towards Harry’s room, and Louis is undressed before he hits the bed, Harry hovering over him after opening his bedside drawer, mouth parted and glassy eyes.

The second Harry’s mouth meets his neck Louis just confirms what he already knew: there will never be anyone like him. Not even in a million years. Harry’s kisses send Louis’ body into frenzy, and his legs are shaky by the time Harry takes him into his hand, stroking from base to tip ever so slowly, languidly, like he wants to prolong it.

Louis arches his back and fucks into Harry’s fist until he is a mess. The sheets are wrinkled underneath him and his whole body is hot, and Harry keeps kissing him, fucking his mouth with his tongue and Louis can’t take it anymore, he needs to come, but he needs to come inside Harry.

 

Harry falls flat on his back and opens his legs so Louis can fit in between, and only then Louis realizes Harry had already placed lube and condoms on the bed while Louis worried about not coming on his hand.

“Breathe for me,” he whispers into Harry’s mouth as he realizes the boy is tense. Harry does just that, and Louis presses a finger in.

This isn’t just sex and they know it. It’s never just anything with the two of them, no matter how much they lie to each other and to themselves about it. Louis kisses Harry through it all, and the two of them, who are always so vocal, can only emit small sounds, grunts and moans that mix with the other and become one.

Louis pumps his fingers into Harry until Harry’s promising over and over again that he’s ready, he needs him, needs him and needs him.

And the word need has never been as real as it is right now.

Because this isn’t just a matter of want. Because once you truly experience a spiritual bond that transcends physicality, you will always consciously and unconsciously seek bonds that are able to pierce into the deepest layers of your soul, and anything less feels frivolous – anything that isn’t Harry feels unworthy, somehow, and Louis needs him underneath his body, calling his name and whispering in his ear that there is no one like him, so he can remember what it’s like to feel alive.

 

Louis enters Harry with a slow grunt, and fucks him uncharacteristically slow too. But Harry likes it, savors it, revels in it. He meets Louis’ thrusts the best he can, face pressed to the pillow while Louis’ is buried in his neck, and both of their hands are joined by each side of Harry’s head.

“So close.” Is all Harry says and Louis speeds up.

Harry’s cock is trapped between their torsos and when he finally comes, shooting hotly on their bodies, Louis counts four more thrusts and follows suit. Their breaths are heavy, their eyes are tired and their hearts are shattered. They have never loved each other more than they do right now.

 

-

 

Louis wakes up at six am knowing that last night was a reckless mistake. He also doesn’t know how to deal with it and he certainly will not be able to take the look on Harry’s face when he apologizes – because he will – and says “that should have never happened”.

So Louis does what anyone who is still in love with their ex does after sleeping with them a year and a half after their break up: he gathers his things and hails a cab to the airport. He shoots Oli a text before boarding on a plane letting him know he’ll be in LA before the weekend after all, and takes two pills to fall asleep for the next ten or so hours.

 

When he gets to Los Angeles he is (unsurprisingly) met with paparazzi at the airport, and sighs tiredly knowing his days of being MIA are gone now. Oli’s there to pick him up and pick up his pieces as he has a breakdown in the car on the way home.

 

“You gonna let Danielle know you’re in town?” His friend asks as he drops him off.

Oli’s got a small flat in Los Angeles too, and, contrary to popular belief, isn’t with Louis at every second on every single day. He’s only there for the stunts, for moral support.

“Tomorrow. I’ll call her tomorrow.” He tells him.

“And Briana?”

“I’m gonna get Freddie Saturday morning, so.” Louis shrugs. “I’m gonna go in now. Thanks.”

“Anytime.” Oli replies. “I really am sorry, Lou.”

“Me too.” Louis says. “See you tomorrow.” He gets out of the car and gets his stuff. Oli waves twice before leaving Louis’ house.

He carries his suitcase all the way from the gate to the door, and faces his fucking big, beautiful, empty Californian mansion before making his way inside.

 

The second Louis turns his phone on it starts beeping nonstop for at least one minute. And then he sees all the texts and calls from Harry, some from Gemma and even two from Lottie. He doesn’t even know to whom he’ll get back to first, but then Gemma calls one more time while Louis is grabbing a bottle of vodka and walking towards the music room.

“Hello.” He greets her, bracing himself.

Last time Louis spoke to Gemma was the day Freddie was born, when she called to congratulate him on his son. They used to be the best of friends… Until they weren’t.

“What the fuck have you done to my brother?”

Her voice comes sharp and edgy and she sounds really, really angry.

Louis can’t help but laugh.

“What did I do to your brother?” He asks. “That’s rich.”

“Louis. I’m not kidding.” She says, and then he hears a let me talk to him by her side.

“Is that Lottie? Oh, that’s brilliant.” Louis states. “Please, tell my sister I miss her and when she decides to talk to me like a normal person I’d love to hear from her.” He says and takes a sip from the bottle.

“I called Harry to check up on him this morning, because, you know, Lottie, Lou and me were thinking about inviting him to have lunch with us on the weekend,” she says. “Imagine my surprise when my brother answers the phone fucking sobbing ‘cause you were nowhere to be seen after fucking him last night.”

Okay. Okay, this is not right. Louis is not the bad guy in this story, or at least not the only one. They have to understand how freaking scared he was. They have to understand that he couldn’t take another I love you but you have to go after the last time almost killed him.

“Gemma…” He starts.

“No, Louis, he is hurting.”

“Well, he called me there on Monday, he got drunk at the pub and he asked me to be with him after he broke up with me and ripped my fucking heart out.”

“Louis…”

"We broke up ages ago, Gemma. I knew it hurt him and he knew it hurt me and neither of us could do a thing about it." Louis confesses and then drinks fast. He’s about to get royally drunk.

“I know.”

“No, you don’t.” He chuckles. “None of you know a thing about that day, not how me and him know. You never will and you should feel so lucky for it.”

“I know.”

Louis decides to tell her.

"That night… That night we sat on the floor trying to fix each other, all the while knowing there was no way we could. And it was- I don't even know, it was like— like nothing was ever gonna work again. We lied with our legs entwined until finally he said something like 'I love you, right? God knows I fucking love you. But this isn’t working, is it? We’re breaking each other’s heart and it feels like we’re running on borrowed time'." He does a perfect imitation of Harry's voice. It hurts him to do it.

Gemma doesn’t even breathe on the other line.

"And I said nothing,” he then tells her, "because he was right and I hated it. I laid there silently, hating the way everything contradicted itself. I laid there and hated it all." He takes a deep breath, then drinks a bit more. "I still hate it all, Gems. Except for him. Him I still love."

“Lou…”

“And I know I fucked up, Gems, I’m not trying to play the saint. It takes two to create a mess like this. I fucked up when we were together and I fucked up after we broke up, but I—I’m never going to let go of him, you know? I’ll never say no to him and I’ll never turn him down when he’s there asking me to kiss him, because fuck—” He cries out and feels his cheeks burning, his eyes watering. “I just couldn’t wake up to him telling me what a freaking mistake that was. Even though I knew it was, indeed, a mistake. I couldn’t bare him saying it. I’m sorry.”

“I don’t think he would’ve said that,” she ponders. “But then again you know him better than I do- than anyone, really.” Gemma sighs. “You should talk to him. When you’re ready.”

“I will.” He promises her. “Just- not today.”

“That’s fair. ‘M sorry, for- you know.”

“’S fine.”

“It isn’t. You’ve been going through hell too, and I used to be there for you. I’m sorry I’m not there anymore.”

“Shit happened.”

“Still love you.”

“Still love you too,” he says. The bottle of vodka is already half empty. Louis plans on finishing it, but doesn’t think he’ll be able to. “I should hang up.” He tells her.

“Okay… I, uh- Lottie really misses you too. I’ll talk some sense into her.”

“That’s fine, thank you.” Louis tries to smile, knowing she can’t see it, but doing it anyways.

“It’s not fine. But it will be, yeah?”

Louis used to believe it would be fine. Now he just doesn’t know, but says yeah, it will anyway. Because sometimes people just need you to agree with them, for reassurance or whatever. He’s not sure this is what Gemma needs. Maybe he’s reassuring himself. Fuck it if he cares now.

Gemma says goodbye again and wishes him well.

Louis hangs up and collapses the second he his head hits one of the pillows, bursting into more uncontrollable tears. Some fans say that “drunk Louis” is their favorite Louis. He wonders what they’d think if they saw him now.

Chapter Text

 

Louis’ life goes on, because that’s the only thing that can happen. He goes on pap walks with his kid and girlfriend, he fights with Briana, he drinks himself to sleep when it’s really bad and he calls his current hook up when he’s feeling like it.

Tonight he was feeling like it, which is why he’s with David the second his phone starts ringing.

“Just ignore it,” David kisses up his neck and walks him towards the bed. Louis is only wearing his pants now and he’s on his way to fully hard, so he just follows the lead and lets himself be manhandled into the mattress.

He barely kisses the man when he changes their position, but as he is straddling David’s thighs and grinding on him ready to connect their mouths, getting off on his pleading noises, Louis’ phone rings one more time. And it doesn’t. Stop. Ringing.

“I’m gonna pick up,” he says with a labored breath and David grips his hips tighter. “It might be something with Freddie, David…” Louis sighs and removes the man’s hands, going to fish his phone out of his jeans pocket.

It’s Harry.

Louis expression changes and David… David notices. Because he knows . He knows about everything.

“It’s him, isn’t it?” He asks from the bed and Louis just shakes his head without turning around.

After he left Harry’s bed without saying goodbye, he tried calling a hundred times. He texted, he left messages and boy did Louis call him . Harry just never fucking picked up, so Louis just drank it away.

But now Harry is calling. It’s the middle of the night, and Harry is calling.

“Are you going to pick up?” David asks when Louis keeps staring at his ringing phone.

“Yeah.” Louis answers, but doesn’t move.

“So answer it, Louis,” the man says kind of annoyed. “I’ll give you some privacy.”

This is a nice move, since it’s his house. Louis answers it when it starts ringing for the seventh time.

“Hello, Harry.” He says resignedly.

Loueeeeh,” comes a drunken voice from the other side. “I’m in front of your new LA house, but there is a man—a tall big man who isn’t Alberto who won’t let me in. Where is Alberto, Lou? I liked Alberto better.” Harry’s slurring the words and he barely breathes as he speaks.

Fuck, he’s back in LA. Louis doesn’t know what to do with this information.

“What d’you want, H?”

To see you.

“I’m not home.” He replies.

Me neither. And I’m all alone. ”  

This isn’t fair.

“This isn’t fair.” Louis whines, already grabbing his jeans.

It wasn’t fair the way you left me in France either, but who’s counting?” Harry laughs wickedly and a shiver runs down Louis’ spine. Not the good one. The one that scares him. The one that sometimes makes him wish he weren’t even alive.

Because, you see, Louis never believed Harry was the kind of person who would hurt someone. Louis never believed he was the kind of person who could hurt someone he loved either. But here they are and each time seems like they’re just twisting a knife they carved in each other’s hearts.

It’s not healthy, it’s not normal, and it’s not sane , but Louis just tells him to hold tight, that he’ll be there in a minute. He apologizes to David twice and says he’ll call him and then calls his new bodyguard to ask him to let Harry in. Louis wonders if he’ll have to move houses again after Harry leaves and his ghost stays. He hopes it won’t happen this time.

 

Louis enters his house at two a.m. and doesn’t even need to call Harry’s name to know he’s in the kitchen, probably trying to stress-bake but becoming extremely frustrated because there is nothing to be baked.

 

“Don’t kick my stove, please, it’s brand new.” Louis says monotonously leaving the car keys on the counter.

“Why don’t you have flour?” He turns around to ask.

He’s clearly drunk, and Louis’ first instinct is to reply because you don’t live with me anymore , but as he sees Harry standing there, the only thing he can think about is how much he likes this new house, how much effort and money he put into it, and how he already regrets letting him in, knowing he’ll never get him out.

Out of all the things that suck, the thing that sucks the most is that Harry belongs. He simply belongs every-fucking-where Louis is, in every-fucking-thing Louis does. Louis looks at him standing in his kitchen for the first time and Harry looks like he’s exactly where he is supposed to be. Louis looks at him standing in his kitchen and sees lazy mornings with tasty scones and soft kisses and how is that still a thing after being separated for over a year?

“How long have you been in Los Angeles?” Louis asks.

“A couple of days. We’re gonna rap up the movie here.”

“Hm.”

“Fionn asked about you.”

“What did you tell him?” Louis asks. They’re a few feet apart and neither of them turns away their gazes. Although this is not a game, Louis surely doesn’t want to lose.

“That you fucked me and then left the next morning, obviously.” Harry says.

“Oh, really?” Louis smirks. “Did you also tell him that you begged me to do that even when you knew how unfair that was after everything you put me through?”

“Fuck you, Louis.”

“No, thanks.” He replies.

“How can you do this?” Harry asks him. “How can you stand right here in front of me and act fine ?” Louis doesn’t know what to answer. “The fact that I broke up with you doesn’t mean you didn’t break me every fucking day after that.”

“Hazz.”

“No, really, how? Do you think I wasn’t hurting? Do you think I wanted to break up with you?”

“It doesn’t matter , Harry, you did anyways. And you broke me .” Louis is so exhausted of having this conversation.

“Louis, you literally made a child within the first month of our break up. Then you started fucking someone else. Then you found yourself a new beard. And now I have to watch you living the life while I don’t have anybody and the world thinks I’m a selfish prick who wants to leave the band,” Harry throws at him.

“And how is that my fault ? What did you expect, Hazz? Did you expect me to pine after you like I did all those years ago?” He asks. Harry looks a bit startled.

Louis continues.

“I didn’t make a child because I wanted to; fuck you for even insinuating that. And I’m living the life?” He snorts. “Do you have any fucking clue of what I’ve been going through? Of course not. Because you haven’t asked. Instead, I went to your rescue when you needed it, and I’m so, so fucking sorry I had to leave you naked in bed, I just really didn’t want to deal with your regret the next morning.”

Why are they even arguing? Why is Louis even explaining himself?

“You think I regret it?”

Harry almost looks sober now. Like he’s just been hit in the face.

“How in the world would I regret that, Louis?” He asks. He’s about to cry. No, Harry, don’t cry, please, don’t cry . “I regret many things, Louis Tomlinson, but sleeping with you is never going to be one of them. I- I missed you so fucking much.”

“Harry, just don’t.”

“No, hear me out.”

“Again?” He asks and crosses his arms. Louis sits on a stool and lets Harry approach him. He’s at arm’s length and looks like a kicked puppy.

“Please?”

“Whatever, H. I’ll listen.” He gives in.

“I miss you in my life, in every way, but I—I missed you as my boyfriend the most, I think. And that’s on me, fuck, I know that.”

“Good.”

“But- but Lou, I miss you in every way and I… I think you miss me too.” Harry gets closer. “I think we- I think we needed closure. I think I needed closure.” He explains.

“Well, I didn’t get it.” Louis mumbles. “I just feel—” He says. “Empty. I miss you too, all the time, I don’t even know how I miss you, just that you’re not there when you’re supposed to be and it sucks. Happy?”

“No.” Harry grimaces.

“I don’t even know if I want closure, Harry.”

“Is hurting like this better?” Harry asks. “I want to be able to see your son, Lou. And I want to shower him in gifts and really small and cute designer clothes. And I want to make him laugh like I make you laugh. I want to take care of him backstage when you need to do an interview or something. I want you to go to my movie premiere publicly. I just- I want us to be in each other’s lives again.”

“I want that too,” Louis looks down at his hands. And he does . He just wants to do that while dating Harry.

But that’s not possible. Not right now anyway. He doesn’t know if it will ever be, and that’s the worst thing. He hates how everyone thinks Louis is the colder one when Harry is the one who can be rational when it comes to their relationship. Louis just always thought their love would endure it all.

For Louis, Harry was his endgame. It didn’t matter what happened, how broken apart they thought they were, he still thought they’d end up together, because their love was bigger and better than anything – any hurt, any betrayal, any rock thrown their way. It’s hard to face reality. It’s so, so hard.

And Harry’s right, Louis has made so many mistakes as well that he can’t say Harry’s the only bad guy. He is the bad guy too. They both are. Or maybe neither is. Maybe there are no bad guys. Maybe there’s just life, and circumstances, and a ridiculous, unpredictable twist of fate that made them walk away from each other.

“D’you remember when I was obsessed with Ed’s first album?” Louis asks him, finally looking him in the eyes again. Harry gives him a small nod. “D’you remember that song I couldn’t stop listening to?”

“U.N.I.” Harry nods. “I think I still know how to sing it, you listened to it all the fucking time at the house.” He chuckles.

I found your hair band on my bedroom floor, the only evidence that you’d been here before, ” Louis starts singing, thinking about the exact day he actually found it in his other house and cursed Ed Sheeran for ever writing this song. “ And I don’t get waves of missing you anymore, they’re more like tsunami tides in my eyes, never getting dry…”

“So I get high, smoke away the days, never sleep with the light on. Weeks pass in the blink of an eye, and I’m still drunk at the end of the night, ” Harry continues and he hugs Louis. He keeps singing it over his head, Louis weeping on his shirt.

I don’t drink like everybody else, I do it to forget things about myself.” They sing together. “Fuck,” Louis says- it’s a choked sob, more like. “Who would’ve thought we’d actually relate to this damned song?”

“Yeah.” Harry agrees. Louis can hear his heart stomping in his chest. “ And I said that’s fine, but you’re the only one who knows I lied .” He recites. “Fitting.”

“Kiss me, H.” Louis asks. Harry doesn’t seem like he was expecting that. “Kiss me and let’s make tonight our closure, okay? Let’s end it right.”

Harry doesn’t question him. He just holds Louis’ face in his hands and leans down. It’s a good kiss, Louis thinks bittersweetly.

He holds Harry by the waist and fits him between his legs, running his fingers up and down his back and arms, finding Harry’s nape and holding his hair to guide his head whilst asking for permission to deepen it.

Harry allows him – he parts his lips and slides his tongue against Louis, just one last time , Louis kisses him and kisses him and kisses him , I just need to love you goodbye , he thinks.

Harry’s also the one who ends it. He connects his forehead to Louis’s and breathes deeply, pecking him on the mouth a few times afterwards. Louis can’t even open his eyes.

God made another one of me to love you better than I ever will .” He says. “Fitting.”

“Hey, no, Lou, no .” Harry tells him.

Louis opens his eyes and finds Harry staring right back.

“That’s the only part of the song that isn’t fitting.”

“Hazz…”

“No.” He says decisively. “I will never kiss anyone like I kiss you. It will never feel this way. And- and no one will ever love me better than you did.” Do , Louis corrects mentally. “But I need my best friend back. And it turns out my best friend’s also the love of my life which—which complicates things, because we weren’t really working as boyfriends, now were we?”

Louis nods negatively. They weren’t.

“I need my best friend back too.” Louis says then.

“So- yeah. Let’s… Let’s be best friends for real, okay?” Harry asks him, pleads him. “Let’s teach Freddie how uncle Harry is way cooler than uncle Liam. And- and let’s hang out with our bandmates without making them uncomfortable…. And let’s be there for each other without hurting each other. Let’s promise that we’ll make it through, because—”

“Because it’s better than nothing.” Louis completes. “Yeah, Harry. Let’s.” He smiles and squeezes his hand. Louis thinks it’s a real smile. Harry hugs him, and they promise each other everything will be okay. And as they make this promise, Louis really believes that they’ll keep it.

A life with Harry in it, even if not the way Louis wants it, is better than a life with no Harry – considering the fact that a life with no Harry is basically no life at all.

-

 

While Harry is filming, everything is great. Louis only sees him twice, and that’s because they schedule to meet, since they promised each other that their friendship was something worth working on. It was. It is.

But now it’s August and Harry has just finished shooting, and Louis is all the way back in England with his family and, well, Danielle.

She doesn’t bother him much, because, like he told Harry a while ago, they’re just friends helping each other out. It’s just that—it’s hard pretending in front of his family, but it’s even harder pretending in front of Lottie. Especially when he’s kind of drunk at a nightclub celebrating his sister’s birthday.

 

“There are paps out,” Oli lets them know while they’re still in the car.

“Tell me something I don’t already know,” Lottie rolls her eyes. “Go out first, it’s you who they wanna see anyways,” she gestures towards the door and Louis sends her and her boyfriend an apologetic smile.

He gets out of the car and stretches his hand out for his “girlfriend” and, together, they make their way inside the club, followed by Louis’ friends.

It’s the first time in a long time that Louis is hanging out with those people. Sure, he calls them and texts them, but he used to see them whenever he could, and this year has been so insanely crazy that he’s barely had any time to have some real fun without the implication of publicity.

With Danielle here, it still doesn’t feel a hundred percent genuine, but she gives him the “don’t mind me” look when they are inside the club, and Louis flashes her a smile as a thank you. He drinks and dances with his friends like there’s no tomorrow, like he’ll never have this kind of fun again – and, by the way things have been going, this might actually be true. Louis never knows these days when his sand castle will come crashing down.

The problem is: he’s with his friends . As in: people who know him. So it doesn’t matter how wasted everyone is, they still pay attention to the fact that he hasn’t hugged or kissed the girl once in two hours, and he can’t even bother to do it.

“Luke’s asking me about her,” Oli tells him over the music.

Louis shrugs.

“Louis, come take a snapchat with me!” Lottie screams coming in his direction and the three of them pull a funny face. “Thanks. Where’s Danielle?” She questions and he looks around because… He doesn’t know.

“Think she might’ve gone to the loo…” He says and for the first time thanks his lucky stars that his younger sister is drunk out of her mind to notice he actually has no idea where the other girl is.

The night goes on well, he thinks. No one comments anything about his newest weird relationship and how he seemed closer to freaking Eleanor than he seems to this girl now; with that said, it’s four a.m. when they go back home – Louis with Danielle, Lottie and her boyfriend in one car and their friends in the other.

He takes a shower and sobers up a bit, and tells Danielle he won’t go to bed just yet, leaving her in his room and making his way downstairs.

“Knew you’d come here,” Lottie comments with glitter all over her face still. She has two cuppas in hands and offers him one. Louis murmurs a thank you to her and she just smiles. “Thanks for tonight. And- you know, for everything this week,” she says.

“Nah, that’s okay- ‘s not every day that I get to spoil you.”

“You’ve spoiled me a lot last year, Lou, ‘m fine now.”

“You’ve earned everything, Lots. You know that, right?” He frowns.

Out of all of his sisters, Lottie’s the only one who actually feels bothered just taking his money.

“I guess, yeah.”

“’M proud of you.” He smiles.

“Thanks.” Charlotte looks down. “You’re not actually dating her, are you?”

And- is there a point in lying here? To her?

“What gives?” He finally asks.

“I called Harry. Made him tell me the first day you got here.”

“Lots!”

“I’m sorry, okay?” She looks at him. “It’s just- again , Louis?”

“You don’t get it, you’re—”

“Too young?” She snorts. “Too innocent for this world? Please . This freaking world is destroying you.”

“It is what it is.”

“Bullshit.”

“Yeah. It’s bullshit,” Louis agrees with her. “There’s no contract, we’re friends, helping each other out.”

“I know.”

“Harry told you that, too?” He asks annoyed.

“Yes, he did.” Charlotte answers. “He also told me you’re scared shitless of telling mom because you don’t wanna disappoint her.”

Thanks, Hazz, ” Louis says ironically. “Fuck.”

“Don’t be mad at him.” His sister pouts. “I spent an hour trying to convince him to give me something, because I refused to believe you were dating this girl. I kinda hate her.” She then says lower, like it’s a secret.

“She’s all right, Lots.”

“I miss—” she hesitates. “I hate her because of what she represents. Which is, you know, you settling for whatever this fucked up mind of yours tells you you deserve. I miss you being happy.”

“That makes the both of us,” Louis grimaces and sips from his tea. It’s not perfect, but it’s good.

Lottie drinks hers in silence too, and they stand there in the kitchen just looking at each other and wondering where those kids who played in the backyard together went. Are they proud of what they’ve become? Are they satisfied with how their lives have turned out? Would they like a do-over? Is this what they wanted back then? Neither can remember.

When they finish their teas, though, they walk together to one of their huge sofas and sit there, cuddling and just breathing. Louis holds Lottie for the first time since she was a fifteen year old with a crush on Niall. He runs his fingers through her hair and sighs deeply, thinking that she is one of his best friends, and he’s fucked up so much with her too—he truly doesn’t deserve her either.

But then again, Louis doesn’t deserve half of the people he has in his life and they’re still here for him. It must mean something.

 

“We’re done. Harry and I.” It’s the first time he says it out loud, but it’s still a whisper, and he still breaks. “Don’t call him anymore to ask about me, okay?” He asks her. “We’re trying the friends thing, but- I’m not his responsibility anymore. We truly are done.”

So done.

“You’re not, Louis.” Lottie whispers back and hugs him. Like this, it feels like she is comforting him. “You’ll never be done with each other.”

Chapter Text

 

Harry meets Freddie on a Friday afternoon. And it’s completely unscheduled.

Louis wasn’t supposed to get him this weekend, but Briana got the flu and called him asking if it’d be okay if her mother took the baby to his place so he wouldn’t catch anything, and of course Louis didn’t say no.

The only problem was that Harry was supposed to come in for lunch today too, and Louis completely forgot to tell him not to come. So now his doorbell is ringing and he’s got a baby in his arms and—and he needs to answer it, because Louis will be damned if he leaves Harry outside.

“COMING,” he yells. “ Ready to meet dad’s friend, baby? ” He asks Freddie in a cute voice, but the eight month old doesn’t answer, just slaps one little hand on Louis’ shoulder and makes a non-understandable noise.

Louis opens the door and for the next minute doesn’t say anything. He can’t. Because here is Harry, in all his glory, wearing the only kind of jeans he’s got in his wardrobe these days: black and tight , and a green jumper Louis hasn’t seen in a long time.

Harry opens and closes his mouth at least three times, and never let it be said that kids or babies don’t notice their surroundings, because they sure as hell do. Right now Freddie is silent, hands still on Louis’ body, eyes serious staring at the boy in front of him. Louis, for one, doesn’t know what to do either, so he just- he tries to explain before it gets even more awkward.

“Briana called this morning, she’s kind of sick and didn’t want him to get it, and I forgot to call you and- yeah, I-”

Hey there, little guy! ” Harry kind of bends down and grabs Freddie’s little hand, playing with it. He smiles back, like this isn’t breaking his heart and, consequently, breaking Louis’s either. “How you doing?” He asks.

Freddie smiles instantly. Instantly . The second Harry opens his mouth Louis’ son has got the biggest grin on his face and makes a happy noise right after Harry questions him.

“Good. You seem good.” Harry smiles again. “Hi, Lou,” he then looks at him. “That’s fine, it was about time we saw each other, wasn’t it?” He talks to them both and walks in.

Louis, still a bit quiet, closes the door behind them and walks towards the living room where there’s Freddie stuff thrown around – colored mats, Legos, and stuffed animals that his kid doesn’t care much about unless he’s squeezing them in his small hands.

“Oh wow.” Harry chuckles when he sees the mess.

“Try dealing with him on your own,” Louis answers. “Hi, by the way, sorry, I’m-”

“’S fine, Lou. Nothing to apologize for. Emergencies happen. We’re gonna have lots of fun today, aren’t we?” Freddie answers him with a huge smile that is usually reserved for Jay. But that’s fine, Louis is fine, he can totally handle it…

Until he comes out of his shower after being told that “it’s okay” a hundred times, and sees Harry on the carpet rolling with his kid.

Literally.

And they are both giggling, their cheeks are red and Harry’s hair’s a bit messed up, especially because when he sits straight and pulls Freddie on top of him, the little boy slaps him on the face and then grabs to fistful of his hair.

“Ouch, look who’s very strong.” He says in a happy voice. “Jesus, don’t slap me, baby,” he jokes and tries to detangle Freddie’s little fingers from his hair. “If I still had my curls you’d be just as bad as your father… He was obsessed with my hair when we were younger, did you know that?” Harry asks and grabs Louis’ son by his armpits, putting him in the air and making the boy giggle. “Always going on ‘bout my curls. Reckon he misses it as much as I do now. Well, to be honest, I miss your dad more than my hair.” Harry grimaces.

Freddie’s legs kick the air and he makes another satisfied noise when Harry brings their foreheads together, placing him on the floor again afterwards, looking for another toy to entertain him.

“D’you reckon Mickey Mouse is the best Disney character, Freddie?” Harry asks playing with the stuffed Mickey in front of him. Freddie clasps his little hands together and then does it once again… “You wanna sing happy birthday?” Harry asks and lets go of Mickey right away.

He grabs both of Freddie’s wrists ever so gently and starts singing happy birthday to you as excitedly as he can, but he’s still soft – as soft as only Harry can be.

“Time flies.” Harry sighs, more to himself than to Freddie. Louis is still watching them, too stunned to move, but he guesses he has to. He’s feeling really creepy as it is. “I’m gonna blink and you’re gonna turn one, I just know.”

“I know, right?” Louis makes himself noticeable and Harry turns around really fast, raising his eyebrow.

“Oh, hi, Lou.”

“Thanks for watching him while I showered.” Louis smiles. “Were you okay with Harry, baby?” He walks and sits down on the carpet too, close to the both of them. “He didn’t drop you on your head, did he?” He asks laughing lightly.

“Heeeeeeeeey,” Harry interrupts.

“Oh, c’mon, I was totally going to be the responsible parent if we had kids together.” It’s out before he can stop himself, but instead of freezing, Harry just laughs and answers him like this is a normal conversation for two exes to have.

“But I’d be the fun one, so our kid would’ve loved me more.” Harry shows his tongue.

“Well, spend enough time with this one and he just might.” He snorts.

“I highly doubt that.” Harry replies as soon as Louis picks Freddie up. “He’s gonna worship you, Louis. You got nothing to worry about.”

“You don’t know that,” Louis answers, feeling a bit insecure, as always.

“I do know that.” Harry sighs with a smile. “I know every terrible thing you’ve ever done and I still worship you. Your son’s not gonna be any different.”

It was scary, in the beginning, how much Harry loved him. He was always there, big-eyed and bit-hearted just loving Louis and loving Louis and wanting everything Louis was willing to give, even if everything meant so little back then. At times, Louis felt like he couldn’t breathe under Harry’s stare. It was just too much.

He got used to it, in time, but he expected it was going to fade at some point, when sixteen-year-old Harry grew older. It didn’t. 16-year-old Harry turned into 17, 18, 19… 22-year-old Harry, and Louis swears he still looks at him the same way, especially when there is no one around.

The only difference is that now Louis isn’t scared anymore – because now he loves him just as much, just as fiercely, just as brokenly. Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think?

“Fuck, why do I always make things awkward?” Harry chuckles and looks down.

“Because you regret breaking up with me,” Louis offers and shrugs, but doesn’t look at him, decides to grab Freddie and get up instead. “I need to put him to sleep, if he doesn’t nap now he’ll fall asleep at a terrible time and then be full of energy at the most inappropriate time.”

“Yeah, sure, I’ll just…” He makes a gesture to the door.

“Stay there,” Louis rolls his eyes and changes the arm he’s holding Freddie, who already has his cheek rested on his father’s shoulder. “I’ll be back in a couple of minutes, we can Skype Niall… He said he’d finally release that song of his at the end of the month…”

“Uh, okay, yeah, fine.” Harry shifts on his feet awkwardly. “I’ll make some tea if that’s okay?”

“Harry.” Louis rolls his eyes. “I do not need to give you the speech ‘make yourself at home’.” Don’t make me .

“Got it.” Harry smiles and moves to the kitchen and Louis goes upstairs with Freddie.

It’s calmer, when it’s just the two of them. Louis feels more in connection with reality – with his reality – when he’s holding his son in his arms and singing along with  the song he spent months trying to write and was only able to finish when all of the lads helped him. When Harry helped him. Fuck you, Harry, for being there in every memory .

Here, holding Freddie, Louis can think clearly about all of his responsibilities, about the person he’s become and how much he doesn’t like that person, but how he’s getting used to him, to this new man who took place in his body, and he can plan a strategy to be the best he can with what he’s got right now.

And what he’s got isn’t really bad, now is it?

Sometimes Louis is just a selfish prick, and maybe everyone’s got those moments. But he can also acknowledge he’s more privileged than most. So, he didn’t get to spend the rest of his life with his biggest love, so fucking what ?

Louis believes in big, epic loves. As cliché as it sounds, he really does. But, nowadays, he talks and dates like he doesn’t.

He doesn’t have futile expectations for romance anymore, is the thing. He’s one of those rare individuals that are just kind of tired, and what he really likes, what he really enjoys now is culture, and connection, and video games and music and living in an era in which monogamy is not necessarily a norm anymore.

But he believes in epic loves because he’s already had one. He’s standing in his kitchen at this moment.

He’s had this love that consumes everything. The kind of love that makes a person think “I cannot believe this really exists in the physical world”; the kind of love that sets everything on fire and then burns in silence for years and years; the kind of love worth writing songs and books about.

It’s what people call “the love of one’s life”, he supposes.

And he believes it works like that: if you’re lucky, you’ll meet the love of your life. You’ll be with them, learn from them, give yourself to them. It’s an experience like no other.

But here’s what fairytales won’t tell you: sometimes we find the love of our lives but can’t keep them.

Louis believes that people don’t always get to stay with the loves of their lives because, in the real world , love doesn’t conquer it all. It does not solve irreparable differences, it doesn’t support everything, it doesn’t save us from ourselves when we’re lost. Harry taught him that the night he broke up with him.

Louis believes that the reason people don’t always get to stay with the love of their lives is because, sometimes, love isn’t everything that exists.

(Sometimes a person wants a big house in the country and three kids and the other wants a big career in the city. Sometimes you’ve got the whole world to explore, and the other person doesn’t want to leave their backyard. Sometimes your dreams just aren’t the same anymore. Or sometimes the path towards the future you both want isn’t worth enduring.)

One thing Louis has learned, is that, sometimes, the biggest love attitude one can have is to just try and let the other go. Sometimes you don’t even have a choice. And he’s still trying to decide in which category he fits better.

But here is another thing that people won’t tell you about meeting the love of your life: breaking up does not diminish everything it meant. Everything it means .

Some people can love you more in a year than others could in fifty. Some people can teach you more in a day than throughout your entire life. Some people come into our lives just for a period, but cause an impact that no one else can.

And who are we—who is Louis to call Harry anything but the love of his life?

Who is he to minimize his importance, to rewrite their memories simply because “it didn’t work out”? Who is he to go out there and find a replacement? A bigger, better, stronger love that will maybe last for an entire life?

That’s it: no one.

Because, at the end of the day, even when things are as messy and confused and broken as they get, Louis understands that the only thing he needs to be is grateful for having even found Harry. For having been able to love him. For having learned from him. For having his life completely changed just because they crossed paths.

Finding the love of his life doesn’t need to be the tragedy he’s been making it out to be for the last year and a half. It was… It is a blessing, in a way. Some people never get lucky enough to even know what love is.

 

The song is ending. Louis sings with the radio the last strophe, Freddie already fast asleep in his arms.

I wanna write you a song

One to make your heart remember me

So any time I’m gone

You can listen to my voice and sing along

I wanna write you a song

 

There’s a soft knock on the door the second Louis is putting his baby in the crib.

“Sorry, just-” Harry whispers. “Uh- David is downstairs?”

“What?” Louis scream-whispers back. He kisses Freddie’s forehead and takes the baby monitor with him, stepping out of the room but leaving the door ajar. “ What? ” He asks again.

“David. The guy you’re- screwing?” Harry tells him. “He’s downstairs, said you had a date.”

“Fuck.” Louis slaps his own forehead. “I’m a mess, I forgot everything, Jesus, I am so sorry , Hazz.”

“That’s-”

Not okay.” Louis finishes the sentence. “So not okay, ‘m sorry, I’m gonna explain things to him and ask for him to leave-”

“Don’t.” Harry grabs his arm when he starts walking towards the stairs. “I told him you were getting ready.” He says. “Change your clothes, go have some fun, it’s Friday night. I’ll watch him.” He nods towards the bedroom. “Unless- unless you have a problem with it?”

“No,  I-” He stutters. “Are you sure? Don’t you have anything to do? It’s Friday night. This is Los Angeles and you are, well, you .”

Harry chuckles.

“Already sorted that. Wasn’t that important anyways.” He smiles. “Go, Lou.”

 

Truth be told, Louis kind of wanted him to say don’t go, stay here, let’s watch a movie, David is a twat . But. Well. 2016 really is a different, awkward year.

 

-

 

Something isn’t right. Louis is blaming it on leaving Freddie with someone else, since he was the one who should be taking care of his kid, but that isn’t it, now is it? Because the “someone else” is Harry. Harry, who’s taken care of Louis’ siblings countless times over the years, who loves children, who would- will be an amazing parent.

No. Something isn’t right because Louis is on a date with another man while Harry is waiting in his house taking care of his son. He would laugh loudly if they weren’t at a posh, exclusive restaurant right at this second.

David took him out to watch a movie and then have some dinner, but Louis knows he’s acting distant since they left his house. How could he not? Things are more fucked up than he ever thought they could be.

“So, are we gonna talk about it?” David asks while their meals don’t arrive.

“I think we probably should, yeah.”

“What’s he doing at your place? Are you thinking about getting back together?”

“Wha- no .” Louis assures him. “We’re friends. I wasn’t supposed to have Freddie today, but Briana got sick and- well, I completely forgot everything else. Forgot I had told Harry we’d have lunch together, forgot we had a date tonight… You know. Then you got there while I was putting Freddie to nap, so he just- offered to take care of him.”

“And you let him?” David’s eyes widen. He’s never even met Freddie.

“Why not? He’s Harry.” The boy-bander shrugs. “Look, David- this is really nice, the movie and the restaurant and the- uh, sex. But it won’t be more than that.” Louis tells him truthfully. It isn’t even the first time. “And not because Harry and I are together, we’re not .” He chuckles sadly.

“But why then? Seriously, I don’t get you. Are you fucking someone else, Lou?” He questions tiredly, he knows Louis isn’t. Louis nods negatively anyways. “So why not put a name to it? Why not make things- official? You know I can deal with the whole hiding thing. I’m a very private person, I don’t- I’ll never need you to come out to the world. As long as our families know.”

What the fuck is he even talking about?

“David,  I- no . My family thinks I’m dating Danielle.”

“I know. Isn’t about time we change that?”

“No, it isn’t. I don’t want to put a label on what we have, I don’t want to make things official, I’m not- I’m not cut out for it anymore.” He tries to explain, leaving out the main fact, which is: I will never fall in love with you because I will never stop loving Harry.

“Look—there was a time, not even that long ago, that I was in a committed relationship. You know that. I wanted everything with him- timing sucked, circumstances weren’t the best and I just- I thought we'd have more time.” He confesses quietly. “And after him I just- I’m not this person anymore, the marrying type, with a house in the country or whatever.”

“Never thought you were.”

They both pause their conversation as their plates arrive, and then Louis keeps talking without even touching his food.

“I was. With Harry I was.” Louis doesn’t tell him that he had proposed to Harry more than once – every time in a different way with a different ring.

(Harry has so many rings he’s gotten from Louis that both of his hands aren’t even enough for them. Some of them he still wears every day, which completely fucks with Louis, by the way.)

“But now I just- I crave randomness. I need to wake up and not know what to expect so that I can go out and pursue the unexpected.” He says. “I make more sense in motion. While moving, experiencing new things, feeling a little uncomfortable and always somewhat off-balance, while pursuing new ways of looking at life, at people, at society— that’s when the world makes the most sense to me.” He finishes.

“That’s kind of bullshit, isn’t it? When you end up in my bed anyways?” David isn’t even making an effort not to be an asshole now.

“I can end up in somebody else’s bed too, David, because one, it won’t be hard for me to find sex in Los Angeles or anywhere really,” he smirks, “and two, you’re under a non-disclosure agreement, so it’s not like you can hang something over my head. Now, I like you. You’re funny, smart, witty—” not as funny, smart and witty as Harry, but. “And I like your cock,” he shrugs. “I don’t want to fight, honestly. I want to eat this meal, have a good time and then go back home to take care of my kid.”

“I like that you’re sincere at least.” The man sighs.

“Yeah, well. You know what I want and what I’m willing to give. If that ain’t enough for you just fucking let me know and we can all move on. Okay?” He smiles.

“I’ll… Let you know if it gets too much.” David’s smile is more like a grimace, and they don’t make out like they usually do when he leaves Louis at his gate after they exit the restaurant, but that’s fine.

 

When Louis enters his house, everything is dark, and it’s nine thirty p.m., so he guesses Freddie’s already sleeping again. He doesn’t know where Harry is, but he makes his way towards the kitchen to get some water, and heads upstairs to look for him.

Louis checks on Freddie first and he is, indeed, asleep in his crib again. He notices he’s wearing his jammies and smiles at the thought of Harry changing him, which reminds Louis to go after Harry.

He tries his own room first, he doesn’t even know why. But he winds up finding Harry in one of the guest rooms. Harry’s on his usual side of the bed, head between his knees and he looks like he can’t breathe properly. Louis has seen this more times than he’d like to admit and he runs towards him, knowing his boy’s on a verge of a panic attack.

“Hey now…” He says softly in his ear, trying to lift his head and soothe him, his free hand making slow circles on Harry’s back. “C’mon, Hazz, breathe with me.” Louis asks, his thumb pressing hard on Harry’s wrist feeling his pulse. “Don’t get lost now, focus.” He voices and Harry stares at him, eyes glistening, tears running down his cheeks.

Fuck , Louis thinks.

“D’you ever just smell an old perfume, or hear an old song, or pass an old hangout spot and kinda break inside for a couple of minutes?” Harry asks him. Louis simply nods. “I always remember everywhere we used to go together, especially when I’m in London.”

“Me too.”

“And here- fuck, Louis, your smell is everywhere. And you were singing I Want To Write You a Song earlier, and like- the song wouldn’t leave my mind, so I just played our albums trying to distract myself from the fact that you were on a date with someone else and I just- I…” He stops and closes his eyes. “Everything happened at once. And I think I broke for more than a couple of minutes.”

“’S all right, happens to me too, more often than I’d like to admit.” He says lowly and Harry scoots forwards to hug him. “I’m sorry, Hazz.”

“For what?” He asks over his shoulder.

“I don’t know. For going out with him and leaving you here, I guess.”

“I told you to go. It’s the healthy thing to do. We need to get used to it.”

“Harry, the day you go on a date with someone else and tell me, I’ll stock my bar with the strongest drinks in the world cause I sure as hell won’t handle it this well…” He chuckles.

And well is something that Harry isn’t. In fact, he looks as distressed as he did the day Louis showed up at his doorstep in France a couple of months ago: lips bitten raw (and not because Louis was biting them), hair pointing in every direction, bags under his eyes. Harry looks a mess because Louis was on a date with someone else.

“I won’t date anyone before I get over you, it wouldn’t be fair to them.” Is what Harry says. “And since I’m nowhere near that—you don’t have much to worry about for now.”

What is Louis supposed to do with that information ?

He can’t make decisions for him. He can’t make Harry see what a mistake it was to break up with Louis, he can’t make him decide they work better together, even when it sucks. He can’t make Harry admit that this life they’re living doesn’t even seem like a life half of the time, not when half of the time they’re just pining after each other.

Louis can’t . Harry needs to get there by himself – if he ever can. And Louis is willing to wait, he truly is. But he copes with things differently.

Harry hugs him again and sighs in the crook of his neck, leaving a light kiss there.

“I guess I should go.” He murmurs.

“You could stay.” Louis says before he can stop himself, running his fingers through Harry’s hair.

“I can’t, Lou.” Harry tells him. Whines, really.

“Yeah.” It’s Louis’ turn to sigh. “I’ll take you downstairs.”

They don’t talk much. Harry grabs his phone, wallet and keys, and Louis notices that even though he moved houses as well, Harry still has his blue and green keys – the ones they used for their last house. Louis still holds on to them too.

“Was everything okay? With Freddie, I mean.” He asks before he opens the door.

“Course. He’s amazing, Lou. Can’t wait till he’s walking and talking.” It’s the first time Harry smiles since Louis arrived.

“Me neither, to be honest.”

“I- There’s this new Burberry collection for babies that I swear is amazing,” he starts. Louis knows where this is going. “I kinda bought everything for him? While we were watching Lady and the Tramp. By the way, he gets really quiet watching movies, paying attention, even being so young. Reminds me of Ernie! Anyway, it’ll all be delivered here in a couple of weeks. The clothes.”

“Harold!” Louis laughs. He doesn’t even know what to say.  

“You don’t have to tell Briana it’s from me,” Harry says quickly. “Really, it’s fine. Just- make sure he wears them because he’ll look the cutest. And- like, not on pap walks.”

“I can do that.” He answers softly. “Briana will be fine when I tell her it’s from you. The only thing she’ll care about is that they’re Burberry.”

“What a great person,” Harry snorts.

“Tell me ‘bout it.” Louis rolls his eyes.

“And oh, I called Niall, Freddie laughed so much with him on Skype!”

“Really?”

“Yes.” Harry’s smiling again. Grinning, really. “He’ll be here this month and so will Li, maybe we can hang out?”

“Sure. If it stays warm we can have a barbecue and- like, enjoy the pool and stuff.”

“Awesome.”

“I’ll text you.” Louis smiles.

“Okay, yeah. Bye, Lou.” Harry says and hugs him.

If Louis closes his eyes to just memorize this happy moment and then goes to sleep in his guest room, wearing the same shirt he went out in, just because it all smells like Harry, then no one but himself needs to know.



Chapter Text

 

 

In hindsight, it’s all Louis’ damn fault and he knows it, because, despite what everyone else might think, Louis is and has always been the needy one in the band.

Since the beginning, he was always the one who hated being alone.

For someone who was raised with lots of people around him, one would think he would love to have some peace and quiet after growing up and moving out, but no. Louis loves having people around him and when One Direction started he was more than happy to be on the road with four – and eventually three – other people, all on one bus or plane.

Sharing bunkbeds or hotel rooms was never a problem – whether it was with Harry or someone else when he and Harry bickered like the two teenagers they were. Doing interviews, traveling, spending more time together than apart… All that made him very happy. Louis dealt really well with company.

What he doesn’t deal well with is loneliness. He doesn’t deal well with going to the studio alone to meet with some lyricist or producer he’s never worked with and he doesn’t deal well with coming back to an empty home after a fairly empty day.

When he’s not alone he’s with Danielle, but that’s- that’s the stunt part of it all, so it isn’t good either.

So today Louis calls Oli up and asks him to come over for a movie marathon, and he doesn’t dare to think about how he’d be calling Zayn instead two years ago. Because that hatch is already buried. Zayn made sure of it when he left with no warning whatsoever.

 

“You know I’m only here for the take-out you’re gonna order, right?” Oli snorts when he enters Louis’ place.

“Yeah, yeah. Shut up,” he rolls his eyes. “You good?” Louis asks his friend.

“Good, mate, you?” Oli asks and Louis just nods. “Have you talked to Briana at all this week?” He questions.

“Course not,” the singer frowns. “I only talk to her when I need to get Freddie, which will only happen next week, so.”

“Uh.”

“Why?”

“She’s got a new boyfriend.”

“And?” He raises an eyebrow.

“I don’t know, I think she plans on letting your fans know pretty soon.” He tells him. “Plus, he’s been over and, you know, met Freddie.”

“And you know that because…?”

“Because I keep in touch with her and her crazy family for all of our sakes,” Oli says pointedly.

Sometimes Louis just feels really lucky to have him, and even if it’s annoying to be babysat by a childhood friend, Louis reminds himself that that’s what, essentially, he pays him for.

“Are you okay with that? With her putting someone in his life this early?” He asks.

“It’d be a bit- no, a lot hypocritical of me if I wasn’t, right? I mean, I do take him out with Danielle for fuck’s sake.”

“But she’s just a friend.”

“You and I both know that that’s not the story everyone knows. And it’s not the story he will know either.”

And that’s what hurts the most, maybe: knowing that his own son won’t know everything about him; won’t get to know the real him, not 100% anyway. Because then he’d hate Louis a whole lot. And Louis can’t handle being hated by his own kid.

“When are you going out with her again?” Oli asks.

“I don’t know.” It’s been too long since they’ve done a pap walk, but Louis can’t be bothered to do something like that these days. They haven’t even been talking. He’s just going to wait till somebody from his management tells him it’s time to do so. “Plus, Harry met Freddie when he was here too, and Briana doesn’t know about it yet, so.” He shrugs, saying that as an afterthought.

“Harry what ?”

“Met Freddie.”

“When?”

“A couple of weeks ago?” Louis kind of asks. “Guess I forgot to tell you that.”

“How do you forget to tell me something like that?”

“Don’t know, Oli, I just did.” Or maybe Louis just wanted to keep it to himself for a while. “He bought him the whole Burberry collection that day. Watched him while I went out on a date…” He chuckles to himself. “My reality is so ridiculous now.”

“The words are coming out of your mouth and I’m just not following.” His friend tells him.

So Louis begins from the only place the can think of: the beginning.

He tells Oli everything and at the end of it he decides it’s time he sees Harry again because talking about him makes Louis miss him even more.

Which is why, one week later, Harry’s at his LA place again. And this time Niall and Liam are here too. And it shouldn’t be weird, but it is.

“I thought we’d meet little Tommo tonight, am kind of disappointed.” Niall jokes when they’re all gathered in his living room with lots of pizza boxes around them.

“Tonight’s not that kind of night,” is what Louis says.

But what he actually thinks is: you had ten thousand opportunities to do so in the past eight months and so did Liam, and yet, the only one who actually showed any interest in meeting him and actually got to do so was Harry – the one who’d have every excuse in the world not to want it .

Harry knows that that’s what he wanted to say, because he looks at Louis reassuringly, smiles tightly and gets up to get them more beer. Liam comments about Harry putting on weight and his laughter fills the entire house when he comes back with six more longnecks.

“I was on this crazier than crazy diet for the movie, eating whatever people told me to eat and working out every day and fuck- I missed eating. So once filming stopped I just kind of started eating everything at once.” He tells them.

Louis, for one, thinks Harry looks great. But he knows he’s biased.

“How was it? Filming a Christopher Nolan movie?” Liam asks.

“Fucking brilliant.” Harry confesses.

He was fucking brilliant, too.” Louis says and his bandmates look at him.

“How do you know that?” Niall asks suspiciously.

“’Cause I saw it first hand, Nialler. That’s how.” He smiles mischievously. He and Harry didn’t agree on keeping that a secret. And Louis kind of wants them to know he and Harry have been seeing each other – even if not romantically.

Harry rolls his eyes, going along with it.

“He went to France and befriended my whole cast in one day.”

“Not the whole cast.”

“No. Just became best friends with the likes of Cillian Murphy.” Harry teases.

“He actually invited me for a pub night when I’m back in London…” Louis muses.

“Wait- what? You guys are back together?” Liam looks very surprised.

“No.” Louis answers. “We’re—friends?” He looks at Harry.

Harry nods, weirdly.

“I guess. Yeah. We’re friends.” And he looks directly at Louis when he answers too.

“It’s as funny as it is pathetic that you guys still lie to yourselves and to us like that.” Niall snorts. “But hey, here’s to new beginnings.” He raises his beer, and Louis does it too, pretending he isn’t too annoyed and downs it all in one gulp - Louis doesn’t even like Heineken that much.

So, back to it all being Louis’ fault: he doesn’t like to be alone, he doesn’t know how to be alone, so when he found out they were all in the same city since God knows when, he needed them all to have a seat, a meal, and a few drinks together.

There is no one in the world who understands Louis better than those three people here in this room with him. What they’ve been through as One Direction, but also as individuals, is something completely unexplainable and unimaginable. Louis doesn’t even know who he is without them, isn’t ready to find out, and the more time goes by, the more he believes this is all coming to an end – or at least to a longer break than he’d expected.

“I’d really like it if you guys came to the movie premiere,” Harry then says, changing topics. “Like, all of you.”

“You know what they’ll say if I show up at your premiere, H.” Louis voices kind of sad.

“Well, it would be a bit weird if we all went and you didn’t.” Niall says. “And I’m going, of course, mate, count me in.”

“Me too. I’ll take Cheryl with me, if we’re still together by then.” He smiles.

“How’s that by the way? Where did that come from?” Harry chuckles.

“Started out as drunk sex? After one of those X-Factor after parties, and then it kind of escalated from there…” He laughs. “Speaking of- you could go, Lou. Just take your girl with ya. What’s her name again?”

“Uh?” Louis asks, forgetting for a second there that people – including Liam and Niall – think he’s dating a girl for real this time. “Oh- oh . Danielle. Yeah. No. That’s—”

“PR.” The Irish one answers. “Seriously, Liam?” Niall laughs again. “You’re too slow.”

“You went to fucking Mexico with her. What was I supposed to think?” Liam asks.

Louis just sighs, he doesn’t have the strength to tell them the whole story like he told Harry and, to be honest, he doesn’t even know if he wants to. Niall cracks up another laugh and Harry looks uncomfortable, and Louis starts wondering if this was a good idea at all.

He gets up and goes to the kitchen, and Liam follows him, because of course he does.

Now, people may think that the whole Lilo thing was purely a media-bromance, something to take the focus off Larry – much like Harry and Niall did. But it’s not. They just took it the hardest when Zayn went away. And yes, they were friends before, but the past year and a half has been really different for them – and they got even closer.

If before they went to their writing sessions trusting each other, then for their fifth album they went into their writing sessions really knowing each other – “we finish each other’s sentences literally speaking” knowing each other.

Louis loves Liam to death. He’d go to war for him. He knows Liam would do it for him too, which makes lying to him very, very hard.

It’s easier when they’re in different countries. Here, confined in his kitchen and after a few beers, Louis really doesn’t know what to do but apologize the second they’re alone.

“I should’ve told you. I’m sorry.”

“About what?” Liam asks.

“Everything. The Danielle thing, the visiting Harry thing.” He shrugs. “I just—”

“You don’t have to tell me everything, you know?” His friend tells him. “I get it, Lou. I’m your friend, your best friend on the road or- at least, second best, because, uh, Harry , but—this break is proving to be a lot harder than we previously thought, isn’t it?” Louis looks at him then. “I mean-” Liam stutters. “We’re pretty shit at keeping in touch even though we used to see each other every day.”

“I think that’s- normal. Like. We also needed a break from each other.”

“Yeah, but I hadn’t heard from you for almost two months, Lou. Or you from me. Or Niall from me and Harry from Niall and it’s just—we’re supposed to be best friends, but we don’t really miss each other, do we?”

“I do.” He confesses. “I miss everyone a lot. I’m just a mess, Liam. And you guys dealt with so much because of me this year and last year and—always, really.”

“You’re not a mess, Lou.”

“I am, and it’s fine, don’t give me the puppy dog eyes,” he chuckles and so does Liam. “We all miss and love each other, I know it. I know it . We’re just… We’re just trying to see where and how we fit in in his money factory by ourselves. We’ve never been famous, rich and acknowledged individually, right?”

“That’s right, I guess.” He agrees easily. “And what about Harry? Are you really friends?”

“No. I don’t know.” He looks down and opens the fridge to get them more beers. By now Louis has lost count of how many he’s had, but that’s okay because he’s home and the guys didn’t drive here, and they can all just stay if they get too drunk.

“He asked you to go to France, didn’t he?”

Louis nods.

“How’d you know?”

“Because he’s Harry. And he’s an amazing person, but he’s also pretty selfish.” Louis is about to protest, but Liam doesn’t let him. “He’s pretty selfish when it comes to you. He tossed you out, said goodbye and found out he cannot live without you so now he keeps you on this short leash and you… Fuck, Lou, you let him, because you feel guilty. You think him leaving you was okay.”

“And wasn’t it, Liam?” He asks. “I mean- do you even remember the things I did to him throughout the years? Can you blame him for being exhausted at some point?”

“No, but- you can’t justify everything just to talk yourself out of suffering, you know? You did some things that were wrong and so did he, and in the end it didn’t work out for you two but now… Now it’s on him , okay? Or on the both of you, whatever. But it’s not just on you .”

Liam is right. Louis knows it, rationally. It’s just hard, sometimes. Most of the time.

“Look, I- I’ve been taught that love is beautiful and kind, and it is , but also… It isn’t like that at all. It’s beautiful, but it’s a terrible beauty, a ruthless one and—and you fall. You fall and the thing is—the thing is you want to . You don’t care what’s coming, you just want who your heart beats for. And my heart’s never beaten for anyone that wasn’t him.”

It’s not difficult confessing this. Everyone who knows Louis knows this. Harry knows this. And Niall, who’s just entered the kitchen and is looking at Louis wide-eyed and with his mouth a little agape knows it too.

“Sorry, lads, it’s just- Hazz wants to tell us some things.” He voices with his thumb pointing over his back in the general direction of the room they were in.

“Sure, let’s go.” Louis walks past them and moves fast towards the room. They both follow closely and Louis doesn’t miss their glance-exchange behind his back. By now he can feel when they’re onto him.  

Harry’s drinking when they get there, and sighs when he sees Louis’ expression. Again, he doesn’t say anything. But Louis knows he knows.

“Out with it, then.” Louis nudges him softly sitting by his side.

“I gave my first solo interview to an English magazine.” He tells them. “I took hundreds of pictures with long hair and short hair and- and I was interviewed by Paul McCartney and Chelsea and—yeah.”

“That’s amazing, Hazz, congrats!” Niall says. Liam hums in agreement and Louis just beams, he is so proud of Harry.

“They asked me about the band, and I wanted you all to know what I said.” He voices.

Harry speaks so slowly and generally Louis lets him, but now he’s so anxious that he just wants to pull the words out of his mouth. When he talks, though, it’s all in one breath.

“I asked Paul a lot about going solo after being so many years in a band. And I told Chelsea that I don’t know what the future holds for us, because honestly…”

“You don’t know.” Niall says.

“I don’t. I love this band, I- I owe everything to this band, to you . But I don’t think any of us wants to come back the way we were… We’re not— ready . Not to be what we can be.”

“And we don’t know what we can be yet.” Liam completes.

“Yeah.” Harry breathes better. “So.”

“Let’s give it time.” Louis says. “We all have a lot to deal with as it is.”

“Yeah.” Harry says again. “Ni?”

“I-” Niall seems a bit stressed out. “I got a solo deal. Pretty standard, nothing like the one you got but that was expected…” He chuckles. “Just like Liam’s, I suppose, but they want to release one of the songs—that one I showed you guys earlier this year…”

This Town ?” Louis asks excitedly. He remembers the exact day Niall asked his opinion on that. Fucking brilliant, he thought.

“Yeah.”

“Sick, mate.” He smiles.

“You sure? Won’t you guys be- mad? That I’m gonna release something?” He looks so, so worried that it’s cute.

“Why would we?” Liam asks. “We’re gonna be so fucking proud of you, mate.”

“It’s a lovely tune, Niall.” Harry guarantees him. “We’re not going behind each other’s backs here, we… We won’t do it, right?” It’s a rhetorical question, but they all nod anyways. “As long as we communicate, we’re good.”

“We’re stronger together.” Liam says.

“Yeah. Yeah, we are.” Harry agrees and Louis pretends he isn’t looking straight at him when he says that.

 

Niall calls a car at midnight, because he’s got work tomorrow morning and Liam follows suit, saying he’ll get a ride back to his hotel since his flight is at three thirty am.

Harry stays. He says goodbye to everyone and stays on Louis’ couch as Louis walks them out. Louis hugs Liam first and promises him he’ll head to London soon and they can work together – he kind of misses it a lot , more now that he’s seen him.

When Niall hugs him, it’s different. It’s a Niall -move, to tell everything with a hug. But this time he actually gets words out.

“Remember when I told you that my song came to me in a dream?” He asks over Louis’ shoulder and Louis does his best to nod. “I dreamed I played it at yours and Harry’s wedding.”

“Ni.”

“He can be selfish and a right prick when it comes to you.” He says sternly, backing away and looking straight at Louis. “But he’s also sorry. And he loves you so much he doesn’t know what to do with himself. After everything, at the end of the day, he’s just Harry and you know it. And just Harry just needs one thing: you.” Niall lets him go, and then assures him. “You’ll figure it out.”

“Will we?” Louis asks. Sometimes he doesn’t believe it.

“You will.”

“If you say so.” He answers and Liam calls Niall from the car. “SHUT UP, LIAM.” Louis yells. “Go, Ni. Thank you for coming and… Everything, yeah.”

“Love you, Lou,” Niall hugs him once again.

“You too,” Louis answers and watches him.

When he comes back inside, Harry’s collecting the rest of the garbage in Louis’ living room and taking it to the kitchen. Louis sits on the couch and stays there, looking up, watching the ceiling spin a bit. Maybe he drank more than he should have, but he doesn’t care about it much now.

When Harry’s done, he comes and sits by Louis’ side. Louis has three couches in this living room, and the one he’s on is pretty big. But Harry sits glued to him, thighs touching, head on his shoulder, and intertwines their fingers. Louis lets him, and for a while they just breathe together. Louis feels everything in those few seconds, and he sighs deeply, smoothing his thumb in small circles on the top of Harry’s hand.

“’M scared, Lou.” Harry drunkenly mumbles in his neck. His breath on Louis’ skin makes him shiver.

“Don’t be.”

“We were talking about the future and for the first time in my life since we met I don’t know if you’ll be there… In my future, I mean. That’s the scariest part of everything I’ve been doing.”

“But I’ll be there, Harry,” he squeezes his hand real tight and turns around just a bit to kiss Harry’s forehead. “I’ll be there every step of the way.”

Harry raises his head, they stare into each other’s eyes and they’re so honest. Louis has never been this honest with anyone else. Harry hasn’t either. This kind of honesty is for their eyes only.

“But I fucked it all up.” Harry whines and drops his forehead to Louis’ shoulder again. “I—”

“Hazz, I love you.” Louis says. “I’m gonna be there. In your future. That’s not something you need to be worried about.”

“I love you too.” Harry says, emotion clear in his voice. “God, I-” he takes a deep breath. “The whole time I was taking the photos for the magazine I just wished you were there. Mom and Robin were there. Gems too, for some stuff. They kept pointing out the things you’d say or do…” He chuckles a bit. “It would’ve been so much better with you there.”

“I would’ve been if you’d asked.”

“Would’ve hurt us too much.”

“That’s true.”

“I’m sorry I’m hurting you.” Harry whispers. “I want to stop hurting you and… And myself. I just don’t know how.”

And necessities for apologies between you and me, baby, there is none. ” Louis sings and kisses Harry’s forehead again and smiles lightly. “I mean it. We… We belong together, H. And we’re a bit drunk to talk about this now, you especially and I won’t… I won’t take advantage of that.” He speaks.

“But…?” Harry asks hopefully.

“But we need to revise our agreement, because I- I can’t keep doing this thing in which I pretend I wanna be your friend.” He sighs.

“Okay.” Harry breathes out. “For now…?”

“For now we go to sleep, yeah?”

“Together?” Harry smiles.

“If you want to. You can also have the guest r-” Harry shuts him up with a quick kiss.

“Together is awesome.” Styles smiles and it’s like the sun is shining in the middle of the night.

“C’mon, Hazz.” Louis gets up and holds his hand in the air waiting for Harry to catch it. Harry does.

-

 

At eleven a.m. Louis wakes up alone. For a second there he thinks it’s pure retaliation for how Louis left Harry in France a couple of months ago; even though they didn’t have sex, it hurts. But then he finds a letter on his bedside table and sits up. He could’ve just texted, but he didn’t, because fuck if leaving a letter isn’t such a Harry thing to do.

Louis smiles despite himself and begins to read it.

 

Morning, Lou. Sorry I’m not there, I actually forgot I had a morning meeting and now I’m kind of late while I write this.

I didn’t have much sleep. Woke up at around four and let you hold me while I thought about everything I wanted to apologize for. All the pain we caused each other. Everything I put on you, everything I needed you to be or needed you to say – back then, now, I don’t know. I’m sorry for all that.

I just wanted you to know that there will be a piece of you in me always, and I’m grateful for that. Whoever you become, and wherever you are in the world, I’m sending you love. You’re my best friend till the very end, and I love you too much to let you believe that I can live the rest of my life without you… But I guess I made it pretty clear last night that I don’t want it.

If you were serious about us getting back together… That was what you implied, wasn’t it? God, I hope it was. Anyways. If you were serious about that, I’d like for us to talk about it. Soberly and seriously.

Have a lovely Sunday.

All the love, H.

 

Louis has tears in his eyes by the end of it. And only when he rereads it does he believe that he and Harry actually broke up. One year and a half ago, give or take, they actually parted ways, stopped being boyfriends.

But after acknowledging it in the light of day, and accepting that they were really, really over, Louis can finally feel it in his heart that in many ways, them breaking up was, in fact, just another kind of beginning.

 



Chapter Text

 

The first thing Louis does when he gets out of his bed is call David up and see if they can meet for lunch today. One would think he’d call Harry, run to him, but no. Louis needs to end things with David before – if anything, he’s a decent human being and knows what the other guy has endured for him.

Louis isn’t stupid or blind. He knows David was falling for him, or at least starting to. And if he planned on ending things before, now it’s just a no brainer, isn’t it? There is no way in hell Louis can wait one more freaking day to be with Harry again.

Somehow, when he sees him, David already knows. He looks defeated when  Louis enters the restaurant and meets him at their table.

 

“Hey,” Louis says as soon as he sits down.

“You’re going back to him, aren’t you?” David asks without saying hello .

“That’s what I’m hoping for.” He nods. “I felt like I owed it to you to do it personally, so- here I am.”

“I’m glad I didn’t order anything, we’re not staying here anyways.”

“We could eat something together. I’d like to be friends,” Louis tries.

“I’m sorry, Louis. That won’t be possible.” David grimaces. “I’m not blaming you, and I’m not saying this so you’ll feel bad, but I- I developed feelings for you. And it… Blows, really, because- well. It just does.”

Shit.

“I’m sorry too.” He ends up saying, lacking better words.

“Thank you. I appreciate it. And all your… Honesty. All along.” The other man tells him. Louis simply nods again. “Let’s just cut this short then, shall we?”

“If that’s what you want…”

“Yes, please.”

“Yeah, okay…” He chuckles. “All right, I’ll just… Be going, then.”

“Okay. Yeah. Me too.” David gets up. Stretches his hand out… “Good luck, Louis.”

The singer shakes his hand.

“To you too.”

As awkward as it, it’s also good. For the first time in a long time, Louis feels like he’s done the right thing.

Next on his list is Danielle, and he calls her when he’s in the car, on the way to the supermarket.

She doesn’t know everything there is to know about him and Harry, but she knows enough to agree to keep doing this at least until the end of the year and the beginning of the next, just so they can both figure out what they’ll do with their relationship. (See, this is Louis hoping, once again.)

They talk for fifteen minutes or so, mostly about their next outings, and even though Louis still feels extremely dirty, he also knows that there is nothing else he can do now. He needs to sort one thing at a time if he wants his life not to be a mess anymore.

 

-

 

He calls Harry in the afternoon.

Once he got home from the supermarket, he whipped something up real quick just so he wouldn’t starve, and then decided to tidy up a bit. Even though Harry helped him last night, there was still a lot to be done - pizza boxes to be thrown out, glasses to be washed, all that jazz.

Louis also swept the floor and opened all the windows, doing all that with very loud music playing. He’s no housewife, and never ever thought he’d enjoy doing this, but when he was a kid his mom used to say that cleaning the house helped with the nerves - so he thought it wouldn’t hurt to try.

(It did. His back is killing him and Louis is never ever doing housework again.)

Anyways… He calls Harry in the afternoon.

“Hey. Was just about to call you,” Harry answers the phone and his voice is airy. He sounds happy.

“Great minds think alike.” Louis smiles. “How was the meeting?”

“It was amazing, Lou. We were setting up writing sessions and all…”

“Oh wow!”

“Yeah. And my new producer is super cool, you’re gonna love him…” He keeps talking about it excitedly, and Louis can’t help but notice that his English accent is weakened giving place to a Californian drawl that confuses Louis to the point he ends up finding it endearing. Leave it to Harry Styles to be the perfect mixture of English and American after living in Los Angeles for so long.

(When they were together, their way of pronouncing words was very similar; more often than not, Louis would catch Harry saying water the exact same way his Yorkshire self does, and once or twice, if he spent enough time in Doncaster, he’d end up saying “me boyfriend” instead of “my boyfriend”, and then swear that Louis simply heard it wrong.

And that’s one of the really small things Louis misses the most. The teasing, the companionship. The fact that sometimes he could see himself in Harry, and know, without a shadow of a doubt, that Harry could see himself in him too.)

“… And anyways, it’s not going to happen for another month, but I’m… Buzzin’.”

“You did not just say buzzin’.

“That I did!” Harry chuckles on the other line.

“Hate you.”

“But do you?”

“No.” Louis rolls his eyes. “I was actually wondering if- uh… If we could have dinner ton-”

“Yes.” Harry answers way too fast. “Yes, we could- or, well. Can. I’d like that. Yes.”

“Are you sure?” He jokes. Harry huffs out a laughing breath. “Mine or yours?”

“I’m at a hotel, so I’mma say yours.”

“Why are you in a hotel?” Louis frowns.

“Sold the other house, am looking for a new one… Dunno, it was just… Too big. Too many weird memories.” He explains.

“I have some good memories from that house…” Louis trails. “Remember when we trashed Niall’s car?”

“You mean when you and Liam trashed Niall’s car while we cooked for you assholes?” He laughs.

“Or that.”

“Yeah. But still.”

“Still.” Louis sighs.

“Looking for a new place to make new memories, is all.” Harry tells him.

“Sounds fair.” He agrees. “So. Tonight?”

“I’m pulling over at the market now.”

“Are you going to cook me dinner, Styles?” A smile spreads on his face without permission. Louis doesn’t mind much.

“If you’re lucky…”

 

-

 

Louis is, indeed, very lucky.

Harry enters the house carrying grocery bags and a new bluetooth device so he can connect to iPhone and play music while he cooks - to say that Louis’ stomach does a backflip when he realizes Harry remembered his sound system is fucked up and he still needs to get it fixed is an understatement.

For a while it’s just like it’s always been. They talk about everything going on in the world, from the most stupid news to the most serious ones, and Harry keeps interrupting Louis, promising he is making the best lasagna in the world. Louis tells him to shut up like he’s always done: with no meaning behind it.

When it’s time to put the lasagna together, Louis helps him the best he can, but then gives up in favor of setting the table. They eat in half an hour, each repeating the plate at least once because Harry was right, this is fucking fantastic. When they’re almost done and Louis is already playing with his glass of water, the tension starts to build up, and his body isn’t as relaxed anymore.

He tells Harry he’ll be on dishes duty, but mainly he just needs to load the dishwasher and press a button. With that done, he sighs with his back to the other boy, but Harry’s already right there behind him, placing a hand on his shoulder.

“D’you need more time? Or should we talk now?” Harry asks, voice low and hesitant.

Louis turns around.

“C’mon… We’re doing this now.” He says and pulls him by the hand. He climbs the stairs slowly, and Harry trails behind him calmly too. “This is not- I’m not being presumptuous, I swear,” Louis laughs a bit when they get to his room. “I’m just- don’t know. There’s something about bedrooms.” He shrugs.

“Yeah… Sure…” Harry grins passing him by.

“I’m serious.” Louis whines as he follows Harry into the bedroom.

“I believe you.” He says and then shows him his tongue. Louis rolls his eyes. “Okay, seriously now- this is great. I mean it.”

“Yeah. And we’re still going to the sofa.”

“But- bed.” Harry pointed.

“Sofa.” He repeats.

“Wherever you want, sweetie.” The other boy smiles again, but settles on the couch. He turns his phone off and tosses it aside. Louis does the same. “D’you wanna start? Or should I?” It’s almost scary how fast his demeanor changes when he asks Louis.

And here’s the thing: Louis wants Harry to talk. He wants to know what he is thinking, because he is done being in the dark. But first, he just needs to make a few things clear, otherwise he won’t be at peace.

“I’m… I want to go first, if that’s okay.” He folds one of his legs and sits on top of it, turning sideways to face Harry, who simply nods, and looks at him attentively. “Okay, so… The truth is… I’m hopelessly in love with you. I’ve said it many times to you, and I’ll say it many times about you, to anyone who’ll listen, really.” He smiles. “And- you know me, H. Better than anyone you know I’m crazy. I’m obsessive, I’m needy, I’m protective… I don’t care.

I fell in love with you almost six years ago and then I never learned how to fall out of love with you. And for the past year and a half I had no idea where to put the memories, how to shake the thought of you and how to just- stop missing you all the time.

And goddammit, Harry, I wanted to hate you. I wanted to feel my blood boil at the thought of you, but I had nothing to hate you for.” At that, Harry seems to release a breath he didn’t know he was holding. “All you ever did was shower me with love so how the hell could I hate you for having made me so happy? I miss you. I miss us, I miss the way you look at me and the way you talk. I miss your stupid walk and your greasy hair-” he laughs. “I miss the tiny little things that I used to tease you for because now I don’t get to laugh at them.”

“Louis…” Harry voices. His whole body is already trembling, Louis can see it.

“I took everything for granted. I took our entire relationship for granted because I made up in my head that it was forever, that we could endure all the closeting and all the bad in the world; that for once a man wouldn’t give up on me.” Louis looks down. He can barely look at Harry without crying. “And I was so damn stupid to think that… Because of course you were going to leave, of course you’d get tired of my eternal gay crisis or whatever.

After all, what do I have that is so special? Nothing. I got nothing. And when you were gone, gone for good, I was left not knowing what the fuck to do. Not knowing where to place all that love and not knowing how to smile on my own.” All right. Maybe Louis is trembling too. Harry holds his hand real tight. “You carried me through so much and then you just- dropped me; and you left me thinking that everything we’d gone through meant so little that I started living in a constant nightmare.”

“I-” Harry starts.

Louis isn’t finished yet.

“The first few days after our break up I wasn’t even myself. I had to learn to live without you and I couldn’t make sense of it, because I left so much of me inside of you… And… That day, when you left the flat I just- I think I drank so much I passed out. We were touring, so you know I reeked of alcohol every day and every night, so this isn’t a surprise to you. I got sick, H. Really sick.

And the other day… When you said I broke your heart everyday since the day you broke mine I… It wasn’t intentional. It was never intentional. I never meant to even be with a girl, let alone have a baby that wasn’t yours…” His smile is bittersweet now. “My actions weren’t even reactions to you, just- just to the pain. And I need you to know that I’d never hurt you like that on purpose. Never ever.”

“I know that. I do.” Harry says. When he sees that Louis is done, at least for now, he takes a deep breath. It’s his turn now. “I read once that there will be a few times in life when all the instincts kick in and tell you to do something; something that defies logic, something absolutely crazy. And when that happens, we just have to do it, we just have to ignore logic, ignore the odds, ignore all the complications and just go for it.

I never assumed you’d still be in love with me years later. But I hoped that when my guts told me it was time for us to separate, it meant that we’d find our way back to each other.” He punctuates his sentences well. Louis is fairly sure Harry prepared this speech beforehand. But it’s okay. Louis sort of did the same.

“You wrote me many songs, but Strong’s probably my favorite to date, simply because you say you need me in this one. And- and I related to that, because I needed you too. And sometimes- sometimes I thought you forgot that.” He confesses.

“Sometimes it felt like you really didn’t, H. It felt like it was me needing you, all the time.”

“Well, it was mutual. And whenever I told you I needed you, I didn’t expect you to take it lightly,” Harry tells him. “Yes, I do everything I can to never have to depend on anyone, to never show weakness, but I never did that to you. And if I say I need you, it means that I trust you to catch me when I fall.

But sometimes… Sometimes you were so wrapped up in yourself that you just… Didn’t. And one day I got hurt enough and I sort of realized I didn’t need anyone. I never did, but then I fell in love, and the very idea of you made my heart light and my head go dizzy. I was only sixteen, so I thought it was a teenage thing- you know, we’ve talked about this before… But it wasn’t.

It wasn’t because the years passed and I was still in love with you and, more than that, I was… I was in love with the idea of being loved by you, and it became so… Cosmic that nothing else mattered.

I’d put so much into you that my ideal belief became a risk all for one single touch that made me feel cared about, really cared about. That consumed me, Lou.” Harry looks at him, wide-eyed and expectant.

Louis nods, assuring him that he’s following.

He is. And his heart’s beating so fast it might leave his chest any minute now.

“But then I started living for single touches in the dark, Louis. Because we couldn’t go to a certain place and we couldn’t act a certain way, and you even doubted our friends, our family . And the more I wanted to be myself, the more effort you put into becoming somebody else. And little by little, I felt like you were dropping me . You’d never go out with me anymore, but you’d party with your childhood friends. You wouldn’t accept me being pictured with a girl, but you’d make sure that your image stayed as intactly straight as humanly possible.

I was sinking. It was as though the full force of gravity was pulling me down and the water was over my head and I could barely breathe, but I was still screaming, and you just- you weren’t listening . Realizing that was my first death.”

Louis does not know what to say. For a while there they just stay silent, putting their thoughts together.

Harry never lets go of his hand, and when he takes a deep breath again, Louis knows there is more to come. He honestly doesn’t know if he can take it.

“Now I see that that’s where I went wrong, though. Because it seems like I “just dropped you”, but the truth is I- didn’t. It was wrong of me, but if there was something you did that bothered me, I just brushed it off. I gave you chance after chance. I put my wants and needs on a shelf and let them collect dust while compulsively making sure I was aware of yours.

Forget letting you have just a place in my heart, I let you have almost the whole thing, leaving just enough for myself so I could keep going. I loved you. I loved you fiercely. But I didn’t love myself, and that was the biggest mistake I could’ve made.” He sighs. “I’m not like that anymore, so I won’t apologize for the person I was when I left. He was hurting, and he was lost, just like you. And I hope with what’s still left of my heart that you understand that.”

Harry looks up and Louis nods.

“What will you apologize for, then?” Louis asks.

“I will- I am apologizing for the way I did it. For how it seemed like I just stopped loving you when that wasn’t the truth at all.”

“That’s…” Now he releases a breath he didn’t know he was holding. “That’s a relief,” he chuckles, tears streaming down his face.

Harry moves closer and catches them with his thumbs, making Louis stare right into his glossy eyes.

“I never stopped loving you, Louis Tomlinson. Not even for a fraction of a second did I think I wasn’t completely, madly in love with you.” He says. “You are the love of my life. My soul chose yours, and a soul doesn’t just forget that. Okay?”

“Yes. Yes, it’s okay…” Louis laughs ridiculously, then pulls Harry in for a hug. They’re both crying messes with huge smiles on their faces. And they hold each other so tight that this time there’s no way someone’s going to let the other go. “I’m sorry for being so immature and for not listening to you. I’m sorry I didn’t fight harder for us either. I was weak, I was really weak-” Harry tightens his arms around him. “But then again… You make me strong.

“Louis.” Harry chokes out a sob.

“I love you. I love you, I love you.”

“I love you too,” the other boy replies. “I love you more than anything and I… I need you, Lou.” Harry looks at him.

“I’m right here.” Louis assures his boy. “For whatever it takes, I’m right here.”

 

When Harry surges forwards again, this time to kiss him, it isn’t a surprise. It’s exactly what is supposed to be done, because there’s nowhere to go but here. There is nothing to do if not to consecrate this moment the best way they can.

Louis’ hands find Harry’s short strands of hair and he entwines his fingers there the second Harry invades his mouth with his tongue, and just like years and years ago, Louis feels a shiver run down his spine and his entire body shudder at the touch of the person he loves the most in the entire world.

Harry kisses him with passion, yes, but also with adoration. Their kiss is almost reverent, and it should be. What they have is otherworldly after all, and Louis might be exaggerating - and if he is, please forgive him -, but he doesn’t think anyone in this entire planet has ever felt for anyone what he feels for Harry.

If there are other universes, then Louis believes their love exists in all of them. He thinks that for each one of them, there is a Louis and a Harry who are nothing like these versions here, but are just as in love. Farmer Harry and mechanic Louis. Photographer Harry and footballer Louis. Yoga instructor Harry and businessman Louis. Chef Harry and Footballer Louis. Baker Harry and Drama teacher Louis. They are all out there, in different plans, loving each other more, and more, and more. Their hearts are in sync, and they’re the only ones who understand what singer Louis and singer Harry feel.

Louis straddles Harry’s thighs as the other man gives him the impulse, placing both hands behind his thighs and helping him with the movement. This is so much better than a few weeks ago; so much surer, so much more . Louis cradles Harry’s face in his hands and kisses him one more time, deeper and faster now, as Harry holds every part of Louis’ body. It’s like he cannot choose, and good news is, he doesn’t have to.

So Harry’s hands travel from his thighs to his hips, up his waist and ribs and arms and then back to his hips, helping Louis dance on his lap as his ass slides back and forwards right on top of Harry’s crotch, making his erection more evident by the second. And Louis loves it, revels in it. Each time he feels Harry’s dick in between his crack he feels like his body’s going to combust, and when Harry finally starts kissing his neck, Louis finds it in him enough voice to say “bed” .

“Hm…?” Harry asks, licking his throat and biting softly right after.

“Uhn-ah- bed, Harry, the bed’s right there.” He says all at once, one hand on Harry’s shoulder and the other on his nape.

“You were the one who insisted we come to the couch, if I recall correctly.” He muses. Louis would slap him hard if he didn’t know that’d only make Harry happier.

“If you don’t take me to bed right now I’m throwing you out.”

“Oh…” Harry smiles, moves his hands to the back of Louis’ thighs again. “Are we being bossy today, then?” He chuckles and gets up in a fast move. And as he does so, Louis sees his new muscles contracting, bulging, and his eyes are instantly glued to his arms - to how big they are, how defined.

He loses speech for a second there, his mouth goes dry, and Harry gets it. He’s the only one who ever does.

His boy places him carefully on the bed and covers his body with his own, kissing him deeply but softly, framing Louis’ head with both of his arms for support.

“I love you,” he whispers.

“Love you too…” Louis answers as he works on Harry’s buttons. Harry drops his head and kisses his neck again as Louis tries and unbuttons Harry’s shirt, sliding it off his shoulders just as the other boy is sliding down his body, kissing him wetly through his thin flannel shirt until his hands find its hem and he lifts it, licking Louis’ tummy and biting around his navel, savoring Louis’ skin as if it is the finest of delicacies, making the older boy feel all mushy on the inside, in a way that only Harry can.

Louis helps him and takes off his own shirt as Harry licks up again to his stomach, and nipples.

“Shit-” he arches his back just a little bit as Harry closes his mouth on his nipple, but it doesn’t last long.

It’s just that Harry wants to taste everything at once, so he doesn’t stop anywhere. Not until he takes Louis’ pants off anyways.

If they were more patient, and if it were any other day, Louis is sure Harry would tease him more - he loves doing it. But as it is, as desperate as they are, Harry takes off Louis jeans and pants together, and then gets off the bed to do the same to himself, and spreads Louis’ legs wide so he can fit in between them.

Harry lies on the mattress and settles on kissing Louis’ inner thighs. First the left one, then the right. Always soft, always slow. Always reverent.

“I’ve missed this-” he inhales deeply, “I’ve missed this so much…” He trails as he kisses over the bruise he’s just made. “Your taste is exquisite, Lou,” Harry whispers it as a secret, just before looking up and seeing Louis’ face.

Then, he smiles mischievously, and spreads his legs even further, kissing up Louis’ thighs and his hipbones, and going back to his thighs again. It’s maddening, is what it is, but, like Louis said, they are both impatient tonight, so Harry doesn’t give him a warning when he licks the first stripe on Louis’ asshole.

He grabs Louis’ cheeks, lifts his back a little off the mattress, and dives in like that is the first drop of water he’s found after days in the desert.

Oh God- oh God, oh God, oh my God!” Louis chants as Harry eats him out. “ Harry- Hazz…”

Fuck, Louis has missed him. He’s missed this so much, he’s been missing this for one year and a half, to be more exact. It never felt right to let anyone else do it, he’d never feel this comfortable or this good with someone who isn’t this man right here. Harry holds Louis’ legs open and licks him and licks them and french-kisses his hole like he’s missed it just as much.

Louis turns his head to the side and he can see Harry rutting against the mattress, thrusting his dick into it at the same rhythm as he thrusts his tongue inside Louis, and this all is just on the right side of too much. Louis grabs Harry’s hair and moves his body the best he can so he can meet Harry’s tongue, which dances inside and around him, wetting Louis’ entrance and making him spurt drops of precome on his own stomach, too far gone to care about it.

“‘M gonna come-” Louis warns him, “Hazz, I’m gonna-” Harry stops. He kisses one of Louis’ cheeks and lowers his body, completely to the mattress again, kissing his thighs and then moving up one more time, till he’s face to face with the older boy.

“Can you wait till you fuck me?” He asks, nuzzling Louis’ temple. “Want you to fuck me.”

Louis almost comes at the thought. He’s very, very close. So close that not even  thinking of a dead cat makes him less horny.

“Want that too,” he says. “Get the lube and a condom then…” Even as he asks for the condom, it sounds wrong. But they have to. At least this time, they have to.

“Where’s it?”

“Lube’s here…” Louis stretches his arm towards the drawer. “Condoms are in the bathroom.” He says with difficulty. Just the proximity of their bodies is hot, and when Harry lowers his own onto Louis’s again, sliding their dicks and hissing in his ear, it all gets a fuckton harder. No pun intended. “If you— if you don’t stop, I’ll come right now.” He warns him, hands on Harry’s shoulder blades.

“I- I’m going, I just- fuck ,” he curses at a particularly good angle. “I missed this.” Harry looks at him and Louis just needs to kiss him. Nevermind he had his mouth on his butt, this is not the time to be fussy.

Louis kisses Harry and slides his hands down his back till they reach his ass, and when he grabs both of his asscheeks, Louis spreads them and moves his fingers inwards, very close to Harry’s rim, but not close enough.

“Lou-eh,” Harry moans as a dead weight on top of him, “I-”

“Go.” Louis gives him a quick slap on the right cheek, and Harry gets up faster than he thought the boy could manage in this state.

 

Harry doesn’t take long to come back, but it’s enough for Louis to take three deep breaths and squeeze the base of his dick, doing all the tricks he knows to starve off his orgasm. He’s not eighteen anymore, he knows he can’t really get it up in a matter of five minutes now, but his cock doesn’t know it - especially not when it comes to Harry.

Harry comes back and straddles Louis’ thighs, placing the bottle of lube on his hand as if he’s saying now do your job . Louis chuckles and kisses Harry’s inner wrist, pulling him closer by the hips so as the boy is now straddling his ribs, and opens the bottle of lube quickly.

“Come closer, H.” He asks. “I want your cock on my mouth,” Louis says directly.

He feels Harry shuddering on top of him and as soon as he moves forwards, Louis lifts his head and kisses Harry’s dickhead. He doesn’t intend to swallow him whole, but he licks him all around, the best his neck allows him, and when Harry’s distracted enough he spreads the lube in his crack, letting it drop to his rim so he can finally work one finger in.

Jesus ,” Harry closes his eyes. “Why don’t you have a fucking headboard?” He asks.

Louis laughs with a dick on his mouth, then stops sucking him.

“This bed’s new, actually… Haven’t chosen one yet.” He tells him nonchalantly, just as he is pressing a finger inside.

Harry hisses but doesn’t complain, only lets his head fall forward and his knees spread wider on each of Louis’ sides.

“Are you telling me all that yoga didn’t give you enough balance for this?” He teases.

Harry laughs. As he chuckles, he relaxes a bit more, and Louis starts moving his finger, feeling Harry’s dick on his cheek and not being bothered by it in the slightest. They’re so used to each other… It’s unreal.

“You’re lucky I love you.” Harry tells him as he grabs his own cock in his right hand.

“I know. I’m really lucky…” Louis agrees and then turns his mouth towards Harry’s dick again, taking half of it in as he inserts a second finger in Harry’s asshole, causing Harry to curse and bite his bottom lip, driving Louis nuts with the image.

It is overwhelming to have Harry on top of him, almost choking him with his dick, dancing on his fingers as they loosen him up. Louis’ own dick is almost falling off by now, and he knows they won’t have patience for a third finger, so he scissors the ones that are already in while he thrusts a bit further with them, making Harry lose his balance for a second there, his dick sliding out of Louis’ mouth.

Louis pumps his fingers in and out a little bit more, and when he feels like Harry’s ready enough, he slows down.

“D’you wanna ride me?” He asks him.

“Don’t think I can,” Harry answers, breath just as labored. “Fuck, you’re killing me.” The boy rolls on his back, Louis rolls on top of him.

“Like this, then?” Louis asks him, lifting one of his legs towards his chest.

“Yes, please, now.” He pleads in way only Harry can.

Louis kisses his knee and lets his leg down gently again, searching for the condom packet on the mattress. Harry finds it and rips it with his teeth like he always does, handing it to Louis with a smug face. Just because of that, Louis kisses him one more time. Then he proceeds with what he has to do.

“Let me,” his boy says, voice low.

“I would, but I’m not joking when I say that I’m close…” He chuckles, doing a fast job at putting the condom.

Louis covers his (very much protected) cock with lube, but doesn’t allow himself a proper wank - if he gets any harder, he might end up losing his penis tonight.

“You alright?” He asks Harry, facing him one more time. Harry smiles. “Babe…”

“I am… I’m-” Harry takes a deep breath, and crosses his arms around Louis’ neck. One of his hands hold his nape, the other falls on his back. “I’m emotional…”

“H,” Louis leans down and pecks his mouth.

“I’m just. I’m really, really- oh Louis,” he cuts off with a moan the second Louis’ breaks his rim. “Yes, yesyesyesyeaa-oh my…” Louis goes all in and drops his head in the crook of Harry’s neck.

Harry’s tight and velvety and wet and has Louis mentioned he’s very, very tight? He shuts his eyes and takes deep breaths, inhaling Harry’s smell and exhaling on his neck, feeling his boy caress his back to calm him down, but moving his hips in the tiniest of movements, just so he can get something out of this.

Louis props himself on both hands and starts moving in short, slow thrusts at first. He doesn’t want to do this fast and he doesn’t want to do this roughly. Not tonight. Tonight is about connecting. Tonight is about showing Harry how nothing in the world can be better than the both of them together.

He kisses his chin, his cheeks, his mouth, and Harry kisses him back the right way. Their tongues dance in synchrony, and their kisses are distraction enough for Louis to be able to thrust a bit faster, make the thrusts a bit longer. Harry hugs him with both legs too, in a way that allows the older boy to go deeper, and he can hear the exact moment he finds Harry’s prostate, because Harry gives Louis his first scream, and then he doesn’t stop until he comes.

Louis fastens his pace and uses one of his hands to take ahold of Harry’s cock, big, and heavy, and wet. He syncs his thrusts with the wanking, whispering words of encouragement in his boy’s ear. He twists his wrist just right, bites him gently, thrusts deeper than before, and Harry goes completely pliant underneath him, wailing and crying and promising he’s never loved anyone the way he’s loved Louis.

Feeling Harry shudder and contract is what does it for Louis, and a few thrusts, a minute or so later, Louis comes inside the condom, pulsing between Harry’s walls and kissing his chest, too tired to say anything else.

 

But they don’t need any more words tonight. In fact, they don’t need anything at all. They are together, again, at last.



Chapter Text

 

 

Louis wakes up feeling better than he has in a long, long time. He doesn’t have a mouthful of curls, which is different, but not entirely bad. He’ll be the first one to admit that he loved Harry’s long hair, but maybe this new style is appropriate to this new beginning; maybe some things change and that’s okay, Louis done delving in the past.

Harry’s still sleeping peacefully and for a few minutes Louis counts his breaths, syncs his own with his. God, Louis is so happy to be able to do this again. Listening to Harry’s breathing calms him down like nothing else. Louis inhales deeply and exhales slowly, kissing his boy’s naked shoulder right after.

He used to stay in bed forever after waking up, now Louis’ back starts to hurt if he lies longer than necessary, so he makes it out of the bed slowly not to wake Harry, and goes to the bathroom to take a much needed shower after last night’s activities.

 

When it’s nine a.m. and Harry is still sleeping - which is weird, because he’s always the first one to wake up -, Louis decides to go to the porch and call his mom. He’s been avoiding it for a while now, but today feels like a good day to do it.

Jay picks up on the second ring.

“Hi, boo, finally!” She says with that airy voice of hers, even in times of difficulty.

“Hi, mom, how you doing?” He asks her, playing with the cigarette in his hand.

“I’m tired, but feeling good.”

“Yeah?”

“Yes, nausea is gone for now.” Jay tells him.

“That’s ace, mom, I’m happy for you.” Louis smiles.

“Thanks, my love. How are you doing?”

He sighs.

“I’m… I’m good. Really happy, yeah.” He can’t help but chuckle. “Have had some crazy days, but… Things seem to be working out.”

“Hm…” His mother hums. “Tell Harry I said hi . I miss him. You both should come visit me, you know?” There’s a hint of a smirk there.

Holy shit.

“What?” Louis frowns.

“Oh, Louis, come on-” she coughs. Louis cringes. “I wasn’t born yesterday. Yours sisters told me you were in France, you disappeared for days and then you call me , willingly. You sound happy, Louis.” Jay says.

“But- Danielle?”

“Don’t patronize me,” she snorts. “You thought you could play me ? Really?

“It wasn’t about playing you. I wanted to- I don’t know. I didn’t want you to be more disappointed in me. I wanted you to be proud of me.” The last sentence comes out as a whisper.

“Baby!” His mother cries out. “I am never, ever going to be disappointed in you. I’ve never been anything but proud, Louis.”

“I screwed up a lot , mom, there’s no denying that.” He replies.

“Louis. You started so, so young. You were bound to screw up a lot along the years…” He can feel her smile. “But none of the diminishes all the good you’ve done, everything you’ve accomplished…” Louis doesn’t know what it is with moms and how they make their kids cry, no matter the age, but here he is. “You’re an amazing man, Louis Tomlinson. You’re exactly who I raised you to be. And I’m just- overjoyed, really, that you and Harry, that wonderful, wonderful boy, came to your senses.”

“Yeah?” He sniffles.

“Yeah!”

“He’s still sleeping. But I’ll say hi.” Louis promises. “I know you guys have been talking.”

“Well, of course we have. He even sends flowers every now and then. Just lovely…” She trails. “I still want to see him, thank you very much.”

“We’ll… Arrange that,” he chuckles. “You really okay?”

“Better now that I know that you are.”

“Mom…”

“Go to your boy. I love you, boo.” Jay tells him.

“I love you too.” He tells her back. “Bye.”

 

He sits out there for a long while, just contemplating the weather. His room has a privileged view to Los Angeles, and Louis is just so happy he gets to keep it, that he won’t have to sell this one, because Harry isn’t a ghost here anymore. Louis hopes he’ll stay here longer than for a couple of nights. In his very wild dreams, he wants to pick up exactly from where they left off.

He knows it’s a bit - or a lot - unrealistic of him to think that it’ll be this easy. But Louis used to be a dreamer, and it’s not difficult for him to dream now, not when his dream come true is right here. And he thinks, but look, this is just a thought , that maybe this time they’ll both get lucky, that despite the outside world, they will make it.

Because now they know for a fact that no matter how bad things can get when they’re together, there’s nothing worse than being apart. They almost forgot who they were . And now that they’re back, Louis can almost feel himself getting back into the world; like a flip was switched over night and suddenly he is who he used to be again.

Harry makes him feel invincible. Harry makes him feel whole. And maybe that’s a bit pathetic for a lot of people. Maybe this is seen as some sick codependence, but… It’s not. Louis has learned that he can live without Harry. He can wake up and go to sleep and experience everything other human beings experience. But that’s just surviving.

You see, with Harry, Louis is alive .

 

He looks at the sky and then back at his hand. The summer is almost here and, Jesus, it’s already so hot. Louis is only in his pants and a thin shirt, but he’s already considering closing the house and turning on the central air conditioner, and he’s so lost in thought that he doesn’t hear Harry waking up and approaching him.

“You gonna light that up anytime soon?” Harry asks.

Louis looks back and there he is, wearing only his boxers too. His arms are crossed in front of his chest and his hair is all messed up, pointing in every direction. A proper bed head. Louis absolutely loves it.

“What?”

“The cigarette,” Harry looks at his hand. “You’ve been playing with it for a while. Don’t think you were even paying attention.”

“I wasn’t. Were you watching me, Styles?”

“Just for the past two minutes,” he chuckles. “Hi.” Harry smiles his real smile, and Louis is pretty sure a war has ended somewhere just because of it. That’s how powerful Harry Styles’ smiles are.

“Hello. Come here,” he pats his thighs and Harry moves instantly.

He sits sideways on Louis lap then turns to kiss him.

“Morning,” his boy whispers to his lips. “You were up early.”

“I was. But I had a good night of sleep,” Louis pecks his mouth again. “You?”

“Perfect,” Harry nuzzles his left cheek, “just… Absolutely perfect.” Then, he hugs Louis. Tight. Louis hugs him back. “God, I missed this so much. You have no idea how happy I am.”

“I think I do, Hazza,” he laughs over his shoulder. “When I woke up with you in my arms I was this close of throwing a celebration party.” He kisses the side of his neck. “For real.” Now he stares into Harry’s eyes.

“We should throw a party. For real. If there is one thing to be celebrated, it’s this.” Harry smiles again and kisses him.

They make out for a while, but it’s calm. Their tongues entwine and Harry keeps one hand on Louis’ chest and the other one on his nape. Louis easily hugs him by his waist and pulls him a bit closer - always closer, every time. He has no idea of how much time passes when they stop. Harry gives him a quizzical look and then:

“Are you trying to stop smoking?”

“What?” Louis chuckles, a bit surprised with the question. “Wait. Would you like me to do that? You were always nagging me about it.”

“I’m currently the last person to judge you on smoking anything, considering I have my own personal drug dealer in London.” He shrugs.

“Harry! What?” He squeezes Harry’s hips.

“There were dark times; then there were parties. I just-” he sighs. “I haven’t done anything in forever. But it doesn’t change the fact that I did . And I thought you should know.” The younger boy confesses, face serious. “I don’t want to hide anything from you, so.”

Louis swallows hard.

“We talking about pot?” He asks. Harry nods. “Anything else?” Another nod. Shit. “Coke, Harry? Seriously?”

“You know how New York can be.” Is all the answers.

“Baby.” Louis hugs him. He doesn’t know what to say. “When was the last time?”

“New Year’s probably,” Harry tells him. “Haven’t done anything while working.”

“Have you wanted to?”

“At times.” He looks down. “When it got impossible to deal with, I texted you.”

“That day, you were gonna-”

“Maybe.” Harry sighs. “I was tired and scared and you know how everyone in the industry treats cocaine like it’s nothing…”

“But you don’t. You’ve always said, drugs are drugs. Took you forever to smoke pot with us,” he chuckles. Harry nods, still looking down. “Hey, Hazz, look at me,” Louis cradles his face in his hands. “No need to be embarrassed, love,” he smiles. “Been there, done that, got the scars to prove it. This job- it makes us do crazy things. Turns us into crazy people. But we’re both okay now, right? We are okay. You are just fine, yeah? There’s no need to worry.” Louis kisses him. Harry smiles in the middle of it and Louis’ lips land on his teeth; they both chuckle. “Plus, I’m not thinking about quitting smoking. I was just… Thinking. About things.”

“What things?”

“Us. How far we’ve come; how far we still have to go… Dunno.” Harry kisses his cheek. “Called my mom.” He tells him.

“How was it?”

“Fine. She says hi.” Louis smiles.

“You told her?” Harry smiles bigger than Louis.

“Didn’t have to. Apparently I have a Harry voice that everyone detects when I’m happy.” He jokes. But they both know Louis is dead serious. He caresses Harry’s thigh and his boy kisses his temple.

“Is she all right?”

“She says she’s fine, asked us to visit her.”

“We should go.” Harry says. “I wanna see her.”

“Phone and flowers aren’t enough?” Louis muses. Harry doesn’t seem surprised that he knows.

“No. Phone and flowers aren’t enough.” Harry sighs, but there’s a hint of a smile there.

 

They both decide it is time for breakfast and Louis decides it is time for Harry to cook again, on the grounds that he’s been eating shit most of the time since they broke up, and now he has a lot to make up for.

Harry cooks a full English breakfast then; according to him, this is just the beginning of their celebration.

 

Later that day, they sit in Louis’ office to talk about business. Louis kind of expected it already, he just didn’t expect it to happen so soon. It makes sense, though. If they’re doing this, if they’re really doing this - and they are -, they need to be way more careful than they used to be.

They don’t have an excuse to be close to each other anymore; they don’t have interviews together, or meetings at the same place. They don’t go on endless tours and spend nights and more nights together having fun and causing trouble up in hotel rooms. There’s no need for Louis and Harry to be at the same place anymore, and that’s what makes it all the more difficult.

Louis would be lying if he said he isn’t freaking out that the second they’re MIA at the same time, everyone will know they’re together again. It’s just how it is. It’s just how it’s always been. Hard as they try, he and Harry have always been the most predictable couple in the history of closeted couples. And they kinda like it.

“I’ve been pretty private for a while, you know? And I’m enjoying it.” Harry says.

“I know,” Louis nods, a small smile on his face. “I don’t try to hide as much as you do, I mean- I can’t, but I get it.”

“Why can’t you?”

“People are gonna forget me in a heartbeat if I do, H.” He sighs. Harry’s eyes change immediately, and he starts to say something, but Louis doesn’t let him. “No, they didn’t just put this in my head to control me . They said the truth. And yeah, it sucks, but out of all of us, you were the only one who was going to make it into the A-list celebrities, weren’t you?”

“That’s not-” Harry shakes his head.

“Babe. It’s fine.” Louis smiles. “I’m not the only person in the industry who needs to do this, honestly, it is okay.”

“Our fans wouldn’t forget you. Your fans wouldn’t forget you.” Harry takes his hands on the table. Louis doesn’t know whose stupid idea it was to sit across from each other, because now all he wants is to cuddle up to Harry and talk it all out warm and safe in his arms.

“I know they wouldn’t, but I… I wanna make more music, H. At least- at least write some more, and my phone stopped ringing the second the band went on a break.” He confesses.

“I’m sorry.”

“No, no, look-” Louis squeezes his hands. “I don’t want you to feel bad, ever . I’m so incredibly proud of you I could burst at any minute,” he chuckles. “What I was trying to tell you- what I am telling you is that no matter how much I want it to be just the two of us in a remote farm in the north of Scotland, I can’t. And I need you to be okay with that.”

“Yes. Of course. Louis . I would never do anything to jeopardize your career, and I’d never- well,” he takes a deep breath, “I’ll never ask you to do things you’re not ready to do. Not again. Not if it means losing you.” His boy kisses his hands.

“You still want to come out, though.” He states.

Harry looks up at him surprised.

“I do,” Harry admits. “But I’m not going to.”

“Why not?” Louis frowns. “I thought that was the whole point of you breaking up with me, asking for this break… Changing management in the blink of an eye,” he laughs. It’s not happy, it’s not sad, and it’s not mean. He just… Laughs.

“It was.” Harry nods. “It truly was, but- I don’t know, I just- I don’t wanna make a spectacle out of this, you know? I’m trying to be an actor now, and I’m just about to write an album, and I just-” he sighs. “Jeff told me he wouldn’t make me stay in the closet. But he also made it pretty clear that that was the best way to be successful.” He shrugs.

“And you just… Gave in? You?” Louis points at him. “I don’t buy it.”

“You’re right, I didn’t,” he chuckles. “I did agree on letting them run a few scattered stories that everyone will think of as lies anyways, but there’s no controlling my flamboyance or my rainbow flags anymore. And if asked, I’ll tell the truth: that it’s none of their business, but if they truly need to know I don’t feel the need to lable myself. Love is love and all of that.”

“That’s a good deal.” Louis smiles. He’s genuinely happy for him.

“I know you can’t have the same.” Harry says seriously. “And I can’t promise you that I won’t ever feel so jealous that I’ll want to fuck your brains out and mark you up from head to toe-”

“Not complaining here,” he smirks.

“But- I get it. We work in different ways. But bottom line is… We work, yeah?” That smile. That smile is the only thing that warms Louis up in the coldest nights.

“We do.”

“I just have one request. And you can’t say no to it.”

“Say it, H.”

“I want Eleanor back.” And the second this is out of Harry’s mouth, Louis bursts out laughing. He laughs so hard he folds his body and coughs through the noises he’s making.

“Baby, what the fuck?” Louis asks getting up. The distance is just too much right now, he needs to be closer to Harry. He sits on his lap sideways, and lets his right  hand fall lightly on Harry’s shoulder, while the other one rests on his own lap. “What the hell, seriously?”

“I hate Danielle.” Harry says truthfully, his eyes on Louis’s. “I genuinely, seriously can barely stand looking at her smug face whenever you guys are papped. Pictures made me throw up in my mouth every time they popped up on my twitter timeline.”

“But you don’t like Eleanor either…” He frowns.

“But you like her.” Harry shrugs. “And so does your family. And although that makes me very sick anyways, I’d rather deal with a devil I already know.” As he says it, Louis places a light kiss on his temple.

“I’ll give her a call, and talk to management.” Louis promises.

“Thank you.”

“Don’t,” Louis shushes him with a quick kiss to his mouth. “I wish I didn’t have to be doing this at all.”

“I know,” Harry sighs, eyes closed. “I do too. But I understand your reasons, and I just… Want you. Any way I can have you, I want you.”

“So, if I were to say you can have me over this table right now, that’d be okay with you?” Louis whispers wickedly, already pulling the short strands of Harry’s hair.

“More than,” Harry replies, hands tightening on his hips. “It’d be so okay that I’d tell you to get on all fours on top of that table so I can comfortably eat you out for hours on end…”

“Hours, uh?” Louis smirks, already working on Harry’s buttons while the other boy kisses his neck. “D’you have it in you?”

“You know I do,” he growls in Louis ear, pulling his earlobe between his teeth. “And I’m about to remind you.” In a swift move, Harry removes Louis’ from his lap and undresses him. Next thing he knows, he actually is on all fours on his very fancy, very expensive, very big wooden table, and Harry’s behind him, comfortably sat on a hair, spreading his cheeks and breathing hotly on his hole.

So much for coming to the office and being serious. Oh well. The rest can wait.

 

-

 

In the course of the next few weeks, they sort all the legal details they need to sort. Louis is only half annoyed by them, if he’s being honest. There’s something funny about signing documents just to be in a relationship; and as much as he and Harry have wished for a normal life, there aren’t many people in the world that can say that their relationship is legally protected from being interfered with.

The terms of the agreement are satisfactory for the first time ever. Both their teams sit together and listen to them. Harry’s more than Louis’. But they fight. They tell their story, and they make sure that everyone understand that there is no economic threat in this whole wide world that is going to make them separate again.

It takes them six meetings and two conference calls to finalize everything, but once it’s done, everyone who is going to know about their relationship (and isn’t trustworthy) receives a non disclosure agreement, and Harry and Louis are ready to start again.

“Just one more question…” Simon Jones asks as he closes the last folder on the table. They’re at Jeff’s house, and as much as Louis has come to tolerate him, he’s super tired and he wants to go home. “What about your son, Louis?”

“What about him?” He asks defensively.

Jeff plays close attention and squints his eyes, as if he can’t believe he forgot about that.

“What is Harry going to be to your son? Have you two discussed it?”

“We have.” Harry intervenes. They talked about it. Extensively even. “But- why do you need to know this now?”

“He’s not going to stay this little forever. What happens when he goes to preschool and tells his friend about daddy’s boyfriend?”

“That’s future Louis’ problem.”  Louis says. Only, not really.

(Because in five year’s time Louis intends to be free. And well, if he gets outed by his own son… So be it.)

“Hm.” The man hums. “All right then. Good luck. And see you soon, Louis.”

Louis waves and Harry doesn’t even bother being polite, just opens Jeff’s fridge and gets another beer. They stay for fifteen more minutes, just so Harry’s manager can go over his schedule with him one more time, but then they’re out.

 

-

 

Harry needs to travel soon. With the movie shooting being over, he really needs to focus on his album again, since it already has a release day. But it’s only been two months. Louis has only gotten him back for two months, he really, truly can’t believe they’re about to part ways again.

His boyfriend notices he’s a bit sad when he starts packing. Louis has just put Freddie to bed and is fully exhausted. He lies in bed and watches Harry organize things inside a freaking huge suitcase Gucci sent him (they are totally wooing Harry, by the way), and he doesn’t say anything, but with Harry he doesn’t need to.

The younger boy stops what he’s doing and sits by Louis’ side, running his fingers through Louis’ hair softly.

“Hey. What’s going on?” Harry asks in that voice of his; the one Louis knows it is reserved just for him.

Sometimes, he doesn’t know how someone’s voice can hold such beautiful, deep sentiments, even when saying the simplest of things.

“Trying not to be sad you’re going to Jamaica.” He mumbles.

“Lou…” Harry chuckles and lies by his side on the bed, forcing Louis to roll over.  “Come here.” He opens his arms and Louis rests his head on the pillow by his side, hand resting on Harry’s chest. “Did you see the size of that suitcase?” Harry asks laughing.

“Yeah…?”

“I know I’ve brought more than half of my everyday clothes here, but I’m not packing all of them. It’s Jamaica, after all. I intend to be in swim trunks at least seventy percent of the time,” he chuckles again. Louis gives in and smiles too. “I wouldn’t need a suitcase that big if I were only packing for myself…” He arches his eyebrows.

“Wha-” Louis gets up way too quickly and even bounces on the bed before he can go check the suitcase outside his closet door. “These are- my clothes are here too!”

“Course they are,” Harry says as if it should’ve been obvious from the start. “I don’t expect you to be there with me the entire time, because of Freddie and- you know, your own life, but I mean. I was kinda hoping you’d go anyways? For short periods of time?”

“And you intended to tell me when , you idiot?” Louis walks back to the bed, this time straddling Harry’s thighs.

“Ouch, my belly, fuck, Louis…” Harry complains. Louis should be sorry for breaking his jump impact on his boyfriend’s stomach. He isn’t. “And you’re the idiot. The fuck did you think? I was gonna spend this entire time away from you?” He laughs again.

“Don’t know what I actually thought.” He mumbles.

Harry rolls them over and changes their positions.

“Never again.” His boyfriend promises as he hovers over Louis’ body. “Fourteen days. No more than that. I’m never again spending more than fourteen days away from you.”

“Not even if it means you’ll get a new song?” He smiles now, raising one hand to cup Harry’s jaw, his thumb making circular motions on his cheek.

“As much as I love Home, you’re going to have to find inspiration elsewhere.” Harry pecks his nose, then his mouth. “My new band and the producers have already signed NDAs, and they’re very excited to meet you. So you’d better show up and visit us, literally all you’ll need to do is get on a flight.”

Louis pulls him in a fierce hug and Harry fits his head on the crook of his neck.

“I fucking love you.” He whispers.

“I fucking love you too, you knob,” Harry kisses his neck, Louis has a tight grip on him.

“Did you pack my beach shorts? Those two I like to-”

“Louis,” Harry sighs, releasing himself from the hug just to roll his eyes at him. “I’ve been packing your bags for years now, please do not insult me.”

“Had to check.” He shrugs.

Harry rolls his eyes once again, just for effect, and then kisses Louis’ cheek, then he gets up to keep packing and suggests Louis orders them food, cause he doesn’t want to cook tonight. And honestly, after the hectic day they had, Louis wouldn’t  let him do it anyways.

Between Briana coming over to drop Freddie and giving him a hateful stare and Freddie’s endless baby energy, Louis thinks they’ve done enough. More than anything, he also knows having his son here is emotionally draining for his boyfriend. For the first few weeks Louis honestly thought he wouldn’t be able to mention him as much, or have them interact all the time, because if it was him in Harry’s place, he’s pretty sure he wouldn’t be okay with it.

But Harry said he’d make it. Harry, as the unreal, unimaginably amazing person he is, said he’d work on being one hundred percent okay with this whole situation. Because Freddie wasn’t to blame for their mistakes. Because Freddie was the son of the love of his life. Because Harry wanted him to grow up knowing he was loved. By everyone .

 

-

 

At eleven, they finally get to turn off the lights and relax.

Louis places the electronic nanny on his bedside table, and covers himself up until his ribs while Harry takes off his clothes to join him.

For a while they just stay there, facing each other. Ever since they got back together this started to be a normal occurrence to them. They breathe in, breathe out, smile sometimes, kiss a bit. But mostly, they just breathe, looking at each other.

Louis raises one hand to caress his boyfriend’s face with the tip of his fingers. Harry takes his hand, and kisses his knuckles, one by one.

“Hey, Lou?”

“Yes?”

“I think we’re gonna win this time.” He spreads a smile.

“You did not just quote Fireproof to me.” Louis chuckles, but kisses him anyways.

“How many people can quote their own boyfriend’s songs?” Harry says to his mouth. “You’re the most talented lyricist I know, and to have the privilege to be on the receiving end of your affection and your music is just…”

Louis shuts him up with a kiss before he starts tearing up.

“We are, H.” He whispers. “We’re gonna win this time.”



Chapter Text

 

“FREDDIE REIGN TOMLINSON, I AM GOING TO KILL YOU.” Is the first thing Harry hears when he gets home.

He’s had a hell of a day, he just wants some peace and quiet, maybe wine, but Louis is screaming at his son.

“Evening,” Harry says when he gets to the living room.

There’s popcorn everywhere, two cans of coke, a MARVEL movie paused on TV and Freddie on the couch, looking scared as fuck, and Louis, pacing around the coffee table with his hair pointing everywhere.

“Hazz, thank God.” Freddie sighs when he sees Harry. “Can you please tell my father he is being unreasonable?”

“I AM NOT BEING UNREASONABLE, YOU’RE JUST IRRESPONSIBLE, AND AN ASSHOLE AND THIS IS DEFINITELY NOT WHAT I RAISED YOU TO BE.” Louis screams again.

“Considering the fact that you raised me, I turned out all right, don’t you think?” Freddie gets up.

“I-”

“Hey, calm down.” Harry steps in between them. “You, sit and apologize right now.” He points at Freddie.

“But I-”

“Did I stutter?” Harry asks and the boy swallows, sitting down on the couch. Harry’s been living with him for seven years now, and has been in his life even longer. He gets to go into parent mode.

“Sorry, Dad. I didn’t mean that. At all.” He says defeated.

“Louis?” Harry calls.

“You’re forgiven. For that . Not for the fact that you were having sex when I got home like thirty minutes ago.”

“What?” Harry scream-whispers, trying not to laugh.

“My son, your stepson, has a girlfriend- oh no, not a girlfriend, my bad. He was just fucking a random girl from school.” Louis shrugs and Harry’s eyes widen.

Freddie’s sixteen now, going to be seventeen in about a month, and time has passed way too fast .

“O-kay.” Harry sits down.

“ON OUR CARPET. NO, NOT OKAY. YOU DIDN’T SEE WHAT I SAW, IT WAS DISTURBING.” His husband says alarmed and Harry can’t help but chuckle. Freddie does it too.

“It was consensual, you know?” Freddie speaks up. “I’m sorry you caught us, I’m sorry I was an asshole to her—although I never told her it was more than sex and- and really, Dad, really , what is wrong with that?”

“You’re sixteen. That’s what’s wrong with it.”

“I’ll be seventeen in January.”

Are we in January?” Louis asks back, being difficult.

“How long have you been having sex with her?” Harry asks before Freddie replies to Louis and they fight again.

“A couple of weeks.”

“Have you been wearing protection?”

“Of course. I’m not stupid, Hazz, I don’t want to get anybody pregnant and have a son I didn’t want to.” He answers. That gets to Louis more than anything, and this time Freddie doesn’t apologize or correct himself.

He was thirteen when he heard Louis saying absentmindedly that unexpected pregnancies were one of the worst things that happened in One Direction back in the day. He never really let it go. Harry can’t quite blame him and neither can he disagree with Louis. So. It’s complicated. They all have their own four hundred dollars an hour psychologists, though.

“It’s not just about getting girls pregnant.” Harry tells him calmly. “You need condoms to fuck boys too.”

“Yeah well—I haven’t fucked any boys yet.”

Yet ?” Louis asks him.

“Can I go to my room? I’ll clean this up later.” He gestures around the sofa.

“You are to call that girl and tell her that she isn’t just a fuck.” His father tells him.

“But she is . Am I supposed to lie now?”

“No, but you sure as hell can say that in a nicer way. You’ve been living with Harry for a long time, one would think you would’ve learned how to treat women with more respect by now. I sure as hell learned a lot from him.” Louis says, arms crossed. He’s always thought he looks more serious this way. Harry finds it endearing.

He’s known Louis for twenty two years now, has been loving him for twenty one and a half. There is nothing about him that Harry doesn’t find endearing.

“Move, Freddie.” Louis says.

“Fine.” He gets up. “I’m- sorry. Again.”

“You better be.” His father answers. “Do not even think about going out tonight.”

“Sure.” He mumbles. “I’ll- be in my room then.”

They both watch him climb up the stairs in silence, and then Louis sighs loudly and tiredly, letting his body fall down by Harry’s side.

“You okay there, love?” Harry asks.

“They’re both sixteen and—I walked in on my sixteen year old son getting head from a sixteen year old girl, Harry, I’m not okay.”

“I was giving you head when I was sixteen, if that helps.” Harry shrugs.

“It doesn’t .”

“You didn’t complain when I was sucking your dick.” The younger man points. “You still don’t- ouch, ” he complains when Louis elbows him.

“It was my dick you were sucking and my dick and I loved you, love you.”

“We got lucky, yeah? But he’s sixteen and he’s having some fun and—it’s not the most abnormal thing in the world that your son’s getting a blowjob, Lou. I’m sure it wasn’t pleasant walking in on them, but isn’t it better that he’s doing it at home? And being- like, safe about it? That’s already way more responsible than we ever were.”

“I know.”

“So what’s the problem?”

“The problem, Harry, is that Freddie is sixteen and having sex already, and Maddie’s ten, and Adam’s eight, and I’m old .” He whines. “I’m old and we’re—I don’t deal well with birthday months, you know that.”

“Come here.” Harry opens his arms and Louis goes in easily. “You’re the most handsome forty-one year old I have ever seen.”

“’M not forty-one yet.” His husband mumbles and Harry laughs. “But thank you. You’re the most gorgeous thirty-eight year old man that’s ever walked on earth too. And GQ magazine agrees with me—for years in a row, now.” Harry can feel Louis smile on his chest. His husband is always making fun of him for leading the list and not once does he disagree, which is great, ha. “D’you think I overreacted?” Louis asks.

“You reacted as a parent, Lou.” Harry soothes him, kissing his forehead. “I don’t know how I would’ve reacted if it were me—I just- arrived later.”

“Funniest thing is that the first thing I said was I didn’t know you had a girlfriend , and then he went like— we’re not dating, we’re just fucking and I got so mad.” He closes his eyes.

“That’s okay too. Want me to talk to him?”

“Please?” Louis looks at him. “I’ll pick the kids up at Niall’s meanwhile.”

“Deal. Bring some food, will ya?” Harry asks getting up. “’M too tired to cook tonight.”

“No problem, love.” His expression softens. “How was your day?” He asks, caressing Harry’s face with one hand, the other holding his hips.

“Tiring.” Harry sighs. “But I- I think this will be my best movie yet, the script was—somebody mentioned an Oscar , Louis. I could be in another Oscar-worthy movie.”

“You are an Oscar worthy actor after all.” Harry rolls his eyes when Louis says. “You are . Grammy winning singer, Golden Globe winning actor and—possibly Oscar winning too.”

“That’s too far ahead.”

“We’ll get there. But I’ll pick our suits in advance, promise.”

“Nothing red, please.” Harry requests. He had a red phase a couple of years ago and now he can’t stand to wear it anymore.

“Promise.”

They both laugh quietly.

“I love you.” Harry says.

“Love you too.” Louis hugs him.

They stay there for a little while, just embracing each other. Harry’s been to eighty-two countries in the world, and Louis’ arms are still his favorite place.

“I’ll go get the kids.” Louis says.

“I’ll talk to Freddie, and then shower.”

“See you in a bit.” His husband pecks his mouth.

Harry changes the order and showers first. God knows that reading scripts can be really fucking tiring, and then he goes downstairs to grab some tea. Even after living in Los Angeles for over ten years, Harry can’t let go of some English habits – plus, it’s not like he isn’t in London every other month these days.

He cleans up the living room even though Freddie said he’d do it later because he can’t stand the mess, and grabs some tea to take upstairs with him. Expecting to find Freddie’s door locked – that’s what his teenage self would do –, he knocks lightly three times.

“Come in, ‘s open.” The teenager calls from the inside.

“Hey.” Harry says.

“I’ve just called her- she’s okay with it being what it is, I promise.” He says, throwing himself on the bed.

“But did you apologize to her anyways?”

“Yes.”

“All right. See… Society makes girls think that when a guy treats them badly it’s because they like them—don’t be that guy. That guy is a fucking prick. And girls deserve better.”

“Look who’s using curse words in front of the kids…” Freddie smirks mockingly. When he says things like that he looks so much like Louis . It used to be painful, and now it’s a blessing. Harry loves him as if he were his own.

“The kid in question is about to be seventeen and has an active sex life, so.” He shrugs and sits on the bed too.

“I’m not going to be a bad guy, Hazz.” Freddie says more seriously.

Harry nods. He believes him.

“Is she the first girl you’ve been, uh, intimate with?” He asks.

“No, I… It’s only been three months, I think? And- it was kinda- weird. The first time. With this other girl. But it’s good now.”

“First times are always weird.” Harry offers. “It does get better, though.”

“Please don’t tell me you had your first time with my dad or I might throw up.” Freddie groans, but Harry can tell he’s only joking. He doesn’t answer. “Oh, God, you had your first time with my dad, didn’t you? And here was I thinking you two couldn’t get any cuter, fuck.” He rolls on his side and buries his face in the pillow.

“We are pretty cute.” He gives in and the teenager chuckles. “So, no boys yet , uh?”

“I don’t know- there’s this guy, he’s a year older than me—Caleb. And he’s on the football team. American football, not soccer.”

“I’m aware you don’t call football football , Freddie.” Louis almost has an aneurism whenever they’re discussing the matter because American Football is not real football and soccer does not make sense! Harry needs to agree, even though he is a major fan of American Football.

“Yeah, well- he’s really fit. But I’m still trying to decide if I’m jealous of him or attracted to him.”

“That’s fine, there’s no rush, really.”

“But I like girls!”

“That’s okay.” Harry laughs lightly.

“Okay.”

One would think that having Louis Tomlinson and Harry Styles as their parents would let their kids feel less scared about sexuality matters – but Harry’s quickly finding out that this isn’t true. Freddie seems a bit terrified now.

“You know… It’s okay if you don’t like boys at all. And the same goes for girls. And it’s also okay if you like both—or neither. Everything is okay, bud.”

“I know that.”

“But do you?”

“It’s just—you and my dad, I- did some research? When I was younger, and I get it that I only exist because you two were fighting and dad got drunk and had a one night stand—”

“Hey-”

“No, I. This part’s okay. I get this part. The me part. And—thank you for forgiving dad and getting over the me part because I don’t think he could ever love anyone the way he loves you.”

“I could never love anyone the way I love him either.” He answers too quickly. “Believe me, I tried.” Harry then completes.

“Exactly.” The boy laughs. “It’s not so much about the sex of the person I want to date but if I’ll ever have what you two have—what you two had when you were my age. I haven’t liked any girls yet, not like you two liked each other back then- I’ve seen the videos, they’re embarrassing, by the way. So I just thought- you know, maybe if I try it with a guy one of these days it’ll be easier? Like-”

“Freddie, you’re sixteen .” Harry tells him. “D’you know how much time you still have to find the love of your life?”

“You were my age when you found yours, Hazz. And when your parents have this amazing, epic love story, you start to worry pretty early on.”

“Parents?”

“Oh, come off it. The only reason I don’t call you papa like the kids do is because—I don’t know. It’s weird?”

“You could if you wanted to.” Suddenly Harry wants to cry. What a fucking rollercoaster of emotions.

“Okay.”

“Okay.” He smiles and looks up. “Your parents have been through hell because of this epic love story. And even though we wouldn’t change anything- not, not one thing, ” Harry assures him, “it’s good that you have some time to go out there and explore. And if it takes you five, ten years, or if you never ever find it—it’s okay too.”

“I’d like to.”

“Okay.” Harry gets up and ruffles his hair. “But no pressure, yeah?” Freddie nods and they hear a noise downstairs. “Your siblings are here, gonna say hi.”

“I’ll be right there.”

“Sure.” Harry moves to leave the room.

Pop ?” He calls uncertainly.

“Yeah…?” Harry turns around.

“I think I still want to kiss Caleb. Even if it’s not an epic love story at sixteen.” Freddie confesses.

“Just kiss?” Harry teases and the teenager laughs. “If he’s into you too- go for it. But for the love of God, do it in your room, with the door locked so no one walks in on you.” They both laugh now. “Let me know if you need anything- like, there’s lube and condoms ‘round the house.”

“Condoms? You’re married??”

“It can get messy, and sometimes we get lazy to clean up—”

“GROSS, HAROLD, GROSS, GET OUT.” He throws a pillow.

“You asked.” He laughs. “Be downstairs in ten for dinner.”

“Will do.”

Harry closes the door behind him and just hopes that time passes really, really slowly for when he needs to have similar conversations with Maddie and Adam.

 

-

 

Dinner goes perfectly as always. Adam cannot shut up about how cool uncle Niall is and how happy he is that the Irishman has finally moved to Los Angeles and Maddie tells them all about her recital next week.

Freddie braids her hair during dessert because auntie Lottie said my hair will be pretty and all frizzy in the morning if I do this , and they keep the conversation light, talking about winter break plans. This Christmas Freddie’s going to Briana’s, since he was with them last year, and everyone, including the sixteen year old, seem to feel a bit put off about it.

(Ever since he came to live with them, he sees Briana once or twice a month, basically, simply because he doesn’t miss her quite as much and she’s always too busy not caring now that she isn’t getting much fame off it. What a shocker.)

That’s okay, though, Harry thinks. They’ll fly him out for New Year’s in Jamaica and everyone is going to love it.

“Papa, can you read me a bed time story?” Maddie asks Harry when Louis goes to put Adam to shower and then bed too.

“Sure.” He smiles and stretches his hand for her to grab, placing the other one on his mouth while he yawns.

“I can do it.” Freddie volunteers seeing how tired Harry is. “Is that okay with you, miss Madeline?”

“Papa, are you going to be sad if Freddie does it?”

“Of course not, but it’s my turn tomorrow.” He bargains.

“I’ll make sure of it.”

“Why thank you for finding time in your busy schedule for your old man.” He gets on his knees and levels with her.

“Silly.” She kisses his nose. “I love you.” Maddie hugs him.

“I love you more.” He closes his eyes and hugs her tightly.

“Till the moon?”

“Till the moon and back.”

“Good.” She smiles. “Read me a bed time story then, Freddie!” She jumps on him and he loses balance for a second there. Madeline sometimes still thinks she is lighter, but she’s getting bigger and heavier and… Yeah, maybe Harry feels a bit old too.

“Night, pop.” Freddie waves as he climbs the stairs with her in his arms. Harry feels sorry for his teenager back.

“Night, buddy.” He smiles and watches him go.

Harry does the dishes and turns off the lights. When he goes upstairs Louis is exiting Adam’s bedroom and heading towards Maddie’s, so Harry goes to Adam’s, to wish him a good night too.

“Do you have work tomorrow?” Adam asks.

“No.”

“Can we go to uncle Niall’s together? And play more video games? He said we could.”

“I’ll talk to dad about it, yeah?” Harry says. “We have to talk with everybody.”

“Everybody will agree, it’s uncle Niall, papa.”

“Yeah- okay.” He chuckles and kisses his forehead. “Love you”

“Love you too.”

Harry kisses him one more time and goes to his and Louis’ room. Freddie’s lights are still on, and he figures him and Louis are having a heart-to-heart now, so he just changes into his pajamas and gets under the covers by himself.

It’s freaking cold for Los Angeles, even in December. But he likes this house here best. This is where he and Louis got back together all those years ago, this is where Louis proposed again and where they decided to have kids. This is where their kids grew up – where they still do. Los Angeles is Harry’s home now, because here are the people he loves the most in the world.

 

“Freddie says he calls you papa now too. Or pop because according to him that sounds cooler for a teenager to say.” He chuckles and gets in bed.

“Is that okay?”

“Of course it is.” Louis rolls his eyes. “You certainly do a better job with him than I do.”

“’S not true, Lou. You were caught off guard, we’ve talked about this.” Harry says.

“Yeah…” Louis moves his hand to Harry’s cheek, smoothing his thumb softly in circular motions. “Thank you. For everything, for- for this family, for this life, I-”

Harry kisses him. It’s been a long, long day, he’s been up since six thirty in the morning, worked like a dog, solved problems, dealt with kids and now he just- he just needs Louis.

And  Louis understands that. He kisses back with as much intent as Harry does, but slowly, too, like he’s savoring Harry’s taste and trying to get some of it for himself. Harry allows him.

Their sex has changed along the years. They definitely aren’t twenty year olds anymore, and when they try to do certain things they usually don’t go more than one round because their bodies can’t take that . But it’s still good. Fuck, it’s still every bit as amazing and Harry still craves Louis like he’s the only thing that will ever be enough for him. Even though their pace and positions are a bit different, they still get hard for each other like they did at the beginning.

Tonight Harry gets on all fours for Louis, because he wants it a little rougher – he always wants it a little rougher after long days, because it erases all the tiring things that happened, leaving him in pure bliss. Louis knows that. He sometimes knows Harry better than Harry knows himself, and it’s not scary, no. It’s amazing.

What he and Louis have by now is the kind of intimacy that is acquired with time and immeasurable love – two things that they do have.

 

When they’re done, Louis is the one who gets out of bed to clean them up, and when he comes back, he spoons Harry like every night, kissing him lightly on the neck and making the skin there tingle.

“Remember when I had long hair and you’d be eating it in the morning?” Harry asks, voice hoarse after sucking his husband off on their second round.

“So romantic.” Louis chuckles. “I miss your mop of curls.”

“Good days…” Harry muses.

“Think Adam will end up with your hair. He’s been refusing to get it cut for a while now.”

“He was watching the OTRA DVD the other day.”

“Then we’ll just put Dunkirk on and he’ll want to get it cut.” His husband says as if it’s a great idea.

“’M not letting our eight year old watch a war movie, Louis.”

“I was kidding, love.”

“Sure.” Harry would roll his eyes if they were open.

“Hey, Hazz…”

“What?”

“I want more.”

“More what?’

“Kids.” He states. “We should- we should have more kids.”

That makes Harry opens his eyes because YES, BABIES, YES, MANY BABIES. But…

“Just earlier today you were complaining about being old, Louis.” He chuckles. “Not that you are.”

“Kids make me feel younger. I’m pretty sure I won’t be saying that when baby number four wakes me up at three a.m., but, you know—you’ve just gotten back from tour, and you’re here now, filming, but- here.”

“We could talk to Rachel to start trying around the beginning of next year and—the baby would be born when I was already done filming. I could take a break after that.” Rachel was their surrogate for both Adam and Maddie.

“I have two- you should have two too. Maybe we’ll get another girl? A curly girl, with your eyes, too, can you imagine?” Louis coos. “Yes, you do it this time!” He whispers excitedly.

“Are we really talking about having more kids?”

“You wanted six, remember? Maybe we’ll get lucky and she’ll have twins. Oh my God, two curly-haired-green-eyed girls! Or boys, of course I’d be fine with that too, but, Harry.

“Oh my God.” Harry hugs him. “Love you so much, Louis.”

“You too.” He hugs him back. “I- I love doing this with you—being married to you and raising kids with you and—”

“I do too. Love our routine, love cooking everyone breakfast and watching you take them to school- love how we can plan our schedules around their vacations and just—when you take them to visit me on tour, I—I love everything about our lives, Lou.” Harry says.

“I’ve loved you for over twenty years, you know?” Louis tells him. It’s dark, but Harry can still see his eyes. They’re his own source of light when everything else is a bit dark. “Twenty years, and not one day has passed in which I didn’t think you were the love of my life.” Louis kisses him.

“Good. Because, you know, same.”

“Eloquent.” Louis chuckles.

“Shut up.” Harry sighs and turns around again, pulling Louis’ arm around his waist one more time. “We’ll call Rachel in the morning, if you’re still sure.”

“I will be.” His husband assures him, dropping a kiss on his shoulder.

“Me too.”

“All right then.”

 

(A year and a half later they get two more girls, everyone goes some type of crazy around the house.)

 

“When the world is on fire we won’t even move, there is no reason if I’m here with you

And when it’s said and done I’ll give me to you, that some type of love

When we’re old and gray, and our faces change

There won’t be a moment when my heart won’t feel the same

That some type of love.”