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The Fire and the Fate

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“I don’t know what’s worse: to not know what you are and be happy, or to become what you’ve always wanted to be, and feel alone.”

-Daniel Keyes, Flowers for Algernon

 


The roaring of the crowd rings in Harry’s ears, so he empties the gin on the rocks in his hand and pours himself another one, spilling some of it in his haste. He sets the bottle on the table in his dressing room and wipes the excess booze with his fingers, licking it off.

“You almost ready?” Harry doesn’t miss the annoyed edge of Liam’s voice but like always, he chooses to ignore it. Instead, he tilts his head to get a view of his manager and grins before downing the contents of his glass.

He slams the empty cup on the wooden counter making an exaggerated quenched sound with his throat. “Ready as I’ll ever be, boss.”

Liam rolls his eyes and waves him over. “Come on then. The crew is ready to set you up. Let’s go.”

Harry raises an index finger. “I’m right behind you, I just need to grab something.” He waits for Liam to leave the room before pulling out a bottle of pills from his jeans pocket. He’s running low, so he makes a mental reminder to call his pill person for a refill before crushing a few of them on the table and snorting them up his nose with practiced ease. Harry sniffs, wiping off any remnants he might have left behind and licks his fingers again. He takes a deep breath, shakes his hair around his head and makes his way out of the dressing room.

As soon as Harry steps out he’s pulled in every direction. There’s the sound person setting up his in-ears and making sure they’re placed properly. There’s the guitar tech guy strapping the guitar to his chest. Harry lifts his arms to let him place the guitar on him and continues to walk with them in tow. When he reaches the stage, his band is already in their places. There’s a screen covering the stage where the fans are currently watching an animated countdown. They’re all screaming and cheering as the numbers get lower and lower and Harry wishes he could have had one more drink before setting foot on stage, but it’s too late to turn back now.

It’s been 10 years of being Harry Styles, the Rockstar everyone seems to look up to. Harry doesn’t understand it, doesn’t see why so many people worship the ground he walks on. He isn’t anything special, just a person who likes to make music. It’s been years since Harry has been truly happy doing what he does. There are so many days where he just wants to give up, call it quits and go on a nice long holiday with every drug and alcohol at his disposal. He would, he really would, but Harry is a scared little shit.

Quitting sounds great in theory and he has the money to retire for the rest of his life. The only thing is that if he quits this life and doesn’t perform or make music anymore, he’ll most likely be forgotten. Being forgotten is one of Harry’s biggest fears, one he’ll never admit out loud to anyone. He’d rather keep going as miserable as it might make him most of the time. Having someone, just anyone like him or his music is so much better than having no one at all, and that’s what Harry’s life will be like if he were to ever leave this.

A miserable, pathetic, lonely life.

“10 seconds!” Someone shouts over the screams, pulling Harry out of his dark thoughts. Those thoughts are always there, pulling him in and making him think things he shouldn’t be thinking about. Harry spends most of his time trying to drown them in gin and prescription pills, but it rarely helps.

Harry gets into position, playing the beginning chords of his opening song as the screen starts to lift, revealing him and his band. When fans catch a glimpse of him, the roars amplify, but Harry has learned to work his way through the screams and focus on the music.

“Oh, tell me something I don’t already know…” He croons the lyrics and the fans are right there with him, shouting every word. As the song progresses, Harry begins to get into it. With the energy of the crowd and the beat of the music, his mood slowly improves and before he knows it, he’s dancing like a fool and the crowd loves it.

This is also why he can’t bring himself to quit. Harry can do all the drugs in the world and drink anything in his path, but no high gets him more than the high of performing. He’s tried to find something, anything that can beat it and so far, he’s been unsuccessful.

The song ends and the crowd cheers. Harry grabs a hold of the microphone and pastes on a smile.

“I’m Harry Styles. Thank you for being here tonight. It’s going to be a great show.”

It isn’t the best performance he puts out there, it hasn’t been for many years, but the crowd still loves it and eats up everything Harry does. He’s in a booze and drug filled haze the entire time, but Harry doesn’t remember the last time he wasn’t and still manages to have a decent show.

When the last notes of the last song on the setlist play through the speakers the crowd roars in a round of applause.

“Thank you very much. Have a good night!” Harry waves to the crowd, blowing kisses here and there before turning around and walking off the stage. There’s a beer bottle sitting on a table he walks by and he grabs it, taking a sip of it. He doesn’t know whose beer it is and he doesn’t care, he just needs something to keep his buzz going.

Liam helps to escort Harry through the back of the venue, and they’re immediately bombarded by fans, each one yelling Harry’s name, begging for a picture or autograph. Harry ignores them all and continues pushing through the crowd until he sees the light at the end of the tunnel that is the black Range Rover waiting for him. He hops right in as soon as the door is opened for him and when his driver, Paul, shuts the door the fans shamelessly bang on the windows hoping to catch one last glimpse of him.

Harry instinctively pats the seats and looks for any sign of a bottle or something that he can have to take the edge off. The sound of the banging is making his heart race in an unpleasant way and starting to give him a headache.

“Paul, where’s my gin?” Harry asks, still looking around.

Paul gazes through the rear-view mirror with an apologetic grimace. “Liam took it out of the car.”

The tone of Paul’s voice tells Harry everything he needs to know. Liam is always on his case about his drinking which Harry keeps insisting he can control. He can, he just chooses not to, and he doesn’t appreciate Liam getting in the way of his buzz.

“Alright then. Where are we?” He looks out the window but all he sees is the traffic lights glowing against the darkened night sky.

“We’re about an hour away from the hotel. With traffic, it might take longer.”

“Is there a pub around here?” Harry asks. He doesn’t recognize any of the streets they drive through. He’s not sure he remembers what city he’s in if he’s honest.

“Are you sure you don’t want to wait until we get to the hotel?” Paul asks reluctantly.

“No, I don’t want to go to the hotel.” Liam will probably be there wanting to lecture Harry like it’s his job. Just because he’s Harry’s manager doesn’t mean he can tell him how to live his life, but Harry’s grown tired of having the same argument repeatedly. He admits that Liam is more than his manager, he’s one of his best friends and loves him to death. But Liam tends to smother Harry to no end, and tonight he isn’t in the mood to deal with that.

A neon sign outside with bright yellow and green letters catches Harry’s eyes, bringing him back to earth. “Look over there. That looks like a place that might have some booze. Drop me off here.”

Harry pretends not to see the look of disapproval on Paul’s face as he parks the car about a block away. There are a few people crowding the entrance of the establishment and for a moment Harry considers changing his mind, not in the mood to be recognized, but it goes away as soon as it comes. His desire for alcohol is greater than his desire to be incognito. He exits the car and stuffs his hands in the pockets of his jacket before he strides over to the entrance. A young man with blonde hair sees him and his face brightens up. Shit.

“Are you?” Recognition colours his face and before he can finish asking, Harry nods to shut him up before the people around them hear him. “Oh my god. You’re amazing. Come on, let me get you a drink!”

The young man tugs him toward the entrance and walks him through the small corridor that leads to the inside of the establishment. It’s not a pub, more like a nightclub, but if there’s alcohol then it’s the type of place Harry is looking for.

When they arrive at the bar, he gets the bartender’s attention by name. “Hey Frank, get this guy anything he wants, on the house.”

“That’s really not necessary. I can pay for my drinks.” Harry insists.

The guy shakes his head. “Nonsense. You’re Harry Styles. You shouldn’t pay for anything here. I’m Niall by the way.” He extends his hand and Harry shakes it, smiling.

“Nice to meet you, Niall. Thank you.”

There’s music playing and Harry turns to see a small stage across the room with a man playing his guitar. There are tables where people are socializing, some paying attention to the man performing and some not. The guy is decent, he’s singing an Ed Sheeran cover and he seems comfortable on stage.

Niall hands him his drink and Harry thanks him. “So, what brings you here? This doesn’t seem like your type of hang out place.”

Harry chuckles raising his glass. “There’s gin, so it definitely is my type of place.”

Niall’s eyes widen and he places a hand on Harry’s forearm. “Oh my god, you should stay and watch my friend sing. He’s up next. You’ll love him.”

Harry quirks an eyebrow amused that Niall is comfortable enough with him to already be telling him about his musician friend. “Is this like real singing or like karaoke singing?”

Niall laughs like Harry’s the funniest guy in the world. “No, real singing, I swear. He’s so talented. I’m not even saying it just because he’s my best friend.”

Harry nods. “Alright then.” He takes a seat on one of the stools at the bar next to Niall. If the gin doesn’t run out, Harry has no reason to leave so he might as well stay to watch Niall’s friend perform. If he happens to suck, then Harry can just humour him. It’s not like he’s ever going to see him again after this anyway. Tomorrow he’s off to a different city to do another show.

The nightclub is dark, but not too dark where he can’t see his surroundings. There are lots of red and black lights and the ambiance is very lively. People are laughing and enjoying themselves. Harry is relieved he isn’t being bombarded by fans and he hopes it remains this way for the rest of his stay.

The guy on the stage finishes the song and the crowd cheers before he leaves the stage.

Niall pats him on the arm. “My friend is next! Just wait until you hear him.”

Harry orders another drink and makes himself as comfortable as he can. He’s already thinking what kind of faces he can make to pretend he’s enjoying the performance so that he doesn’t offend Niall and his friend.

Someone appears on the stage and greets the crowd. “Good evening everyone. Our next performer is a former employee at this establishment and we’re lucky enough to have him grace us with his presence and amazing voice. Give it up for Louis!”

The crowd roars, clapping and cheering. There are a lot more people than there were just a few minutes ago. This piques Harry’s interest and he cranes his neck to get a good look at the stage since he’s all the way in the back.

The velvet curtains part, revealing a man with a piano and nothing else. He’s wearing tight red leather pants, a red tie around his neck and no shirt. He must have shimmer on his torso because it glitters in the light. His fingers move across the keys and he begins to sing.

“Tonight, I’m gonna have myself a real good time. I feel alive...and the world I’ll turn it inside out- yeah. And floating around in ecstasy. So, don’t stop me now, don’t stop me...”

As the tempo increases Louis stands up grabbing the mic and a man takes his place to continue playing the piano. He moves around the stage so fluidly, tapping his foot to the beat of the song as he continues to the next verse.

“I'm a shooting star leaping through the sky. Like a tiger defying the laws of gravity…”

He continues singing and walking across the stage making eye contact with people in the audience, and they’re loving every second of it. There’s an aisle that separates the crowd, and Louis makes his way off the stage, hopping through it singing like he was born to do it. He stops in front of Niall and Harry, high fiving his best friend.

When he sings the line “I wanna make a supersonic man out of you” time slows down as Louis moves his head and his eyes land on Harry. Harry’s throat tightens, holding his breath as he gets a closer look at the most gorgeous cerulean blue eyes he’s ever seen. He’s got eyeliner that only enhances them, and it takes Harry’s breath away. Every word that spills out of Louis’ luscious pink lips is like he’s singing it to Harry’s soul.

“He’s good, isn’t he?”

All Harry can do is nod and turn his attention back to Louis with the angelic voice, he can just bathe in it for the rest of his life. Louis croons every lyric like silk, flowing softly through Harry’s ears. When Louis hits the high notes, a few people cheer in encouragement which only seems to give him more confidence.

That’s the moment that Louis takes a hold of Harry’s heart.

He doesn’t realize that the song has ended, and Louis is long gone until the round of applause shakes him from his Louis filled stupor.

Niall nudges Harry. “What did you think?” He asks but his face shows that he already knows Harry is absolutely captivated. “You need to meet him!” Niall says before Harry can answer his question.

“Oh, I don’t know…” Harry begins. Just the thought of meeting Louis and being in his presence again sends a million butterflies fluttering in Harry’s stomach.

Niall grabs him by the wrist. “Come on, I can take you backstage. Louis would love to meet you.”

Harry has no other choice but to follow Niall’s lead as they make their way through the crowd of people still recovering from Louis’ performance. He ducks his head not wanting to risk getting recognized and lets Niall lead the way.

**

Louis sits in front of the mirror in the small, cramped dressing room. His eyeliner and mascara are runny from all the sweat covering his face. His excuse for not working out is that doing these multiple times a week should be enough physical activity to keep him fit so he doesn’t need any more exercise as much as Niall says otherwise.

Louis focuses on getting out of costume and throwing on some joggers and a t-shirt. There are people hanging out making jokes and laughing it makes Louis smile. He loves this place and what it represents, but his favourite thing about it is that it feels like home and the people are like family. Louis still remembers the first time he stumbled in here, a skint uni student trying to make ends meet in desperate need for a job. Niall’s father took a chance on him and hired him on the spot even though he didn’t have any waiting experience and he hasn’t left since.

Louis had to quit due to the lack of hours he was getting, and now he works as a restaurant host at the Radisson with a boss who pretty much hates his guts. But he always comes back here to perform and be with his friends.

“Louis there you are!” Before Louis can get to change his clothes, Niall’s voice booms over all the other voices in the room making him startle. Louis looks over to his best friend with Harry Styles in tow. He thought he’d seen him during his performance, but he wasn’t quite sure with all the lights and Louis getting himself lost in the song. Now that he has confirmed that it is indeed Harry Styles, his face heats up in an instant.

When Niall stops right next to Louis, he has the biggest grin he’s ever seen on him. “Great performance as always. I want to introduce you to someone.”

Niall looks at Harry who is staring at Louis intensely and he self-consciously runs a hand through his hair. He didn’t get around to taking off his makeup, which makes him blush.

“Harry Styles, I thought that was you out there,” Louis says smiling and trying his best to act nonchalant even though he really wants to fangirl and squeal. He extends his hand and at first, Harry just stands there, his gaze falling to Louis’ hand until he seems to shake himself out of whatever trance he’s in and takes the offered hand. “It’s nice to meet you,” he says, the warmth of Harry’s hand making his skin prickle.

Harry smiles, his cheeks flushing which Louis finds endearing. It’s like Harry is a real person and not the Harry Styles he’s used to seeing on TV and in magazines. Louis knows that obviously, Harry is a human being, but there’s just something different about having him standing right in front of him in the flesh.

“It’s nice to meet you too. You were amazing out there,” Harry tells him looking straight into his eyes.

Louis’ mouth goes dry, his heart racing at Harry’s words. “Th-thank you.”

Before they can continue their conversation any further, some of the people around them seem to recognize Harry and they fan over him, asking for his autograph. Harry’s face dims a little at first, but Penny and Toby are joking lightheartedly with him and it seems to lift his mood greatly.

“Okay people, some of you have got to clear the room. It’s way too crowded in here it’s probably illegal,” Niall motions towards the door as others scramble to finish gathering their things and filtering out. Once the room is empty, Niall turns to Harry and Louis smiling, “I’ll leave you two. I need to go make sure Frank isn’t giving away free drinks to the ladies again. That man is going to bankrupt me,” he mumbles as he walks out of the door leaving Harry and Louis by themselves.

The silence seems a lot louder now that they’re by themselves than when the room was full of people and Louis doesn’t even know what to do or say. He wants to continue removing his makeup, but he doesn’t feel comfortable doing it while Harry Styles watches him, so instead, he just sits there looking in Harry’s direction.

“So…” Harry runs his fingers through his long curls and it’s mesmerizing to watch. Louis is a fan of Harry’s music and he’s also a huge fan of the long locks on his head. He’s had dreams about running his fingers through them to see how soft his hair is. He might have even dreamed once that he braided Harry’s hair while they were in the middle of a flower field enjoying the scenery, which Louis has never spoken of out loud. “I was wondering if I could buy you a drink. I’d love to get to know you.”

Harry’s deep drawl is slow and sweet, like honey, and Louis finds himself melting into a puddle right there on the floor at the sound of it. He clears his throat. “A drink would be wonderful. I just need to get all this stuff off my face first.”

Before Louis can finish talking, Harry is reaching over to the vanity and grabbing one of the makeup removing wipes. He lifts it in his hand, his eyes wide with a question. “May I?”

Louis swallows a big lump in his throat. He’d prefer not to have Harry Styles wiping the makeup and sweat off his face, but Louis isn’t about to be the first person in the world to deny him anything. He nods slowly, unsure of what he should do, remaining frozen as he waits for whatever Harry has in store.

Harry’s hand moves carefully slow until the wipe makes contact with Louis’ skin, sending shivers down his spine. Louis remains still as Harry very gently wipes his face so tenderly it makes his cheeks pinken. Harry’s eyes are soft, his smile serene as he removes the rest of the grime and makeup off Louis’ skin. Once Harry seems to be satisfied with his work, he tosses the wipe in the bin, wiping his hands together.

“All done. You look even more gorgeous like this, without all the makeup.” Harry says it like it’s the easiest thing he’s ever spoken. Louis’ breath hitches in his throat, but thankfully he doesn’t think Harry heard. He knows that now that he doesn’t have the makeup to hide under, his blush is even more noticeable if the knowing smile on Harry’s face is anything to go by.

“Thank you,” Louis rasps, not knowing what else to say. He clears his throat, shaking himself out of his Harry filled stupor. “I have to change out of my costume.” He doesn’t want to kick Harry out, but he also isn’t about to strip down in front of him either.

Harry seems to understand, and he nods. “I’ll wait for you out there,” he says pointing his thumb behind him. “I’ll see you soon.” With one last smile, Harry turns to walk away and Louis stares at his retreating figure until he disappears behind the closed door.

With a long sigh, Louis takes one last look in the mirror before he brings himself to stand up and continue doing what he was doing before Harry Styles walked into his life.

 

Chapter Text

"Life is so full of unpredictable beauty and strange surprises. Sometimes that beauty is too much for me to handle. Do you know that feeling? When something is just too beautiful? When someone says something or writes something or plays something that moves you to the point of tears, maybe even changes you."

- Mark Oliver Everett, Things the Grandchildren Should Know

 

When Harry leaves Louis alone in the dressing room he makes his way back to the bar area. It must be closing time already because the room is nearly empty with only a few people at the bar and others cleaning up the empty tables.

“Will you play something?” Niall’s voice comes out of nowhere, making Harry startle as his head snaps in his direction. Niall is looking at him all bright eyes and smile and he would normally reject such a request because the last thing he wants to do right now is play. But Niall has been so hospitable since the moment he stepped foot in here and he hasn’t had to pay for a single drink, it’s the least he can do.

“Sure,” Harry says.

Niall cheers and runs by the stage to fetch a guitar. He strums it to make sure it’s in tune before he hands it over to Harry. Harry takes it, strapping it on and standing behind the microphone. Only Niall is really paying attention which is a bit of a relief. As famous as Harry is, he doesn’t really like being the centre of attention.

Harry strums a few notes to warm up before he begins playing. He closes his eyes and lets the music take over.

“Written in these walls are the stories that I can’t explain. I leave my heart open, but it stays right here empty for days...”

Suddenly the people that weren’t paying attention to Harry earlier have all stopped what they’re doing to watch. Harry is so lost in the music at this point that he doesn’t care.

“And I'll be gone, gone tonight, the ground beneath my feet is open wide, the way that I been holdin' on too tight with nothing in between…”

When Harry strums the last few notes of the song, he opens his eyes, Louis being the first person he sees. He’s staring right at Harry, face filled with awe. The people around them applaud and that seems to shake Louis out of his stupor, and he joins them. Harry’s cheeks flush at the attention, and thanks them profusely before setting the guitar aside and hopping off the stage.

He makes his way toward Louis. “You ready to go?”

There’s something unspoken written all over Louis’ face, but Harry isn’t sure what it is. Louis shakes himself out of his thoughts at Harry’s question and nods.

“Yeah, yeah. Let’s go. Niall, we’re leaving.”

Harry places a hand on Louis’ back to guide him out as they bid their farewells to Niall and others around them. Paul is still outside waiting for them and Harry opens the door for Louis, letting him in first before he closes the door behind him.

Louis suggests a bar nearby that is opened all night, so that’s where they end up. Harry orders them drinks and they settle into one of the booths on the far back corner. There aren’t many people around, but Harry doesn’t want to bring any attention to himself.

“I can’t believe I’m at a bar having a drink with Harry Styles,” Louis blurts out after taking a sip of his beer.

Harry chuckles at Louis’ wide eyes, it’s cute. “See, that’s one of the things about being famous. Everyone always says your full name.”

“Oh sorry. Harry.” He says with a grimace. Harry just waves him off. “So how was your show earlier today?” Louis changes the subject, seeming genuinely interested in his response.

Harry shrugs. “It was how it always is. Loud. ” They both laugh again.

“I wanted to go so bad, but my boss wouldn’t let me have the time off. He’s a dick,” Louis tells him.

“Where do you work?” Harry asks.

Louis clears his throat. “I work at the Radisson. It pays alright. It’s not something I plan on doing forever or anything.”

“Do you plan on making music full time?”

Louis blushes. “Oh no, not at all. I just do that for fun.”

“Why? You don’t write your own music?” Harry asks. He doesn’t mean to sound like he’s interrogating Louis, but he wants to know everything there is to know about him. He doesn’t care how long it takes.

Louis seems to hesitate with his answer. He shakes his head. “I don’t sing my own songs.”

“I’d love to hear them some time,” Harry tells him, emptying the contents of his glass.

Louis looks down at his bottle, biting his bottom lip in contemplation. “I tried, you know? I had a chance to talk to some record executives and I played some of my songs for them. They told me that I was too flamboyant and that if they signed me, I wouldn’t be able to be out. I didn’t want to do that.”

Harry nods in understanding. He remembers that spiel like it was yesterday. He was a young boy with big dreams of becoming a singer and he signed his recording contract not knowing how much of a toll being shoved back in the closet was going to take on him. He got so lost in himself having to pretend to be someone that he wasn’t. It was eight years of beards and being associated with every woman he so much as stood next to. Many of those women were almost twice his age and it was horrible the things that were being said about him. But Harry had to endure it until his contract expired. Once he signed with another label Harry was more aware of what he was agreeing to, and he got to come out, but a lot of the damage had already been done.

“I’m glad you stayed true to yourself. The music industry is rough. They don’t care about people, they only care about the money they make. I had to learn that the hard way,” Harry says solemnly.

Before anyone can say anything else, Harry’s song “Sign of the Times” begins to play through the speakers. Harry and Louis look at each other then burst into laughter, breaking whatever sad tension there was between them.

“Oh god.” Harry covers his face in mock shame.

“Don’t be embarrassed. This is a good song,” Louis says, pulling Harry’s hands out of his face. “This is the type of song where I’ll always remember where I was the first time I heard it.”

Harry tilts his head, eyebrow raised. “And where’s that?”

Louis places his chin on his hand and looks up as if trying to remember the moment. “I was having such a terrible day. I’d worked a double shift and my boss was hovering all the time, giving me shit about the stupidest things. When I finally got off work it was pouring rain out and of course, I had no umbrella, so I got soaked within seconds. I decided to hail a cab because I just wanted to get home so bad, I didn’t care that I had to pay more to get there faster. One cab completely ignored me, or maybe they already had someone I’m not sure, but as they drove by me, they drove over a puddle and splashed me from head to toe with the dirtiest water I’ve ever seen.”

Harry grimaces sympathetically and takes another sip of his drink.

“When a cab finally stopped, I was on the verge of tears. I hopped inside, leaned my head back against the leather seat and that’s when I heard the beginning notes of the piano. Suddenly, all the stress I’d gone through that day just melted away. I teared up as I heard it, but this time they were happy tears because it felt like you were speaking to me, telling me that everything would be alright. It sounds stupid, I know, but I was delirious from sleep deprivation and overwhelmed.” Louis shrugs, averting his eyes from Harry as he sips on his beer.

“Wow,” is all Harry can really say. How does he respond to that? Throughout the years he’s had many people tell him how much his music has meant to them, has even saved their life, but getting to hear Louis’ story of how a song that Harry wrote affected him, it means the world to Harry.

“Yep,” Louis says, finally lifting his eyes to meet his.

Before Harry can ask Louis anything else, they both jump as someone approaches them.

“Well if it isn’t Harry fucking Styles!” Harry has never seen the man, and he doesn’t seem to be a fan either if the sneer on his face is anything to go by. The man is clearly drunk with his slurred speech and his glazed eyes. “Can I get a picture with you? My ex-girlfriend cheated on me with a guy that looks just like you and I just want to show her what a fairy you really are.”

The guy is getting way too close for Harry’s comfort so he backs away as much as he can in the booth he’s still in. Harry is about to give in to his request just to get him out of here when Louis grabs the guy’s forearm. The man’s eyes shift to Louis and Louis punches the guy right in the nose, the sound of the impact makes Harry cringe.

“What the fuck man?” The guy’s hand comes up to his nose and he’s about to stumble but his friends come out of nowhere to grab him.

Harry jumps and grabs a hold of Louis before he can lunge at the man again and pulls him away, bumping into people on their way out as he finds the exit. The fresh air hits Harry’s heated skin as they walk out the door. When he looks over at Louis, he’s wincing, cradling his hand so Harry rushes to find Paul and the car to get them out of here before Harry is recognized by anyone else.

“Are you alright?” Harry asks as soon as they get in the car. “Paul, can you take us to the nearest shop. We need to get Louis some ice.”

“I’m fine, Harry.” Louis insists even though he hisses in pain when Harry tries to touch his hand.

“No, you’re not. This is going to hurt so much more if we don’t get ice on it soon.” The car comes to a stop and Harry opens the door tugging Louis along with him. “Come on.”

The shop is empty except for one person standing bored at the till looking so engrossed with their phone that they don’t even look up when they walk in. They walk down the different aisles while Louis continues to cradle his hand following closely behind Harry.

“Really, Harry. This isn’t necessary.” Louis tries again, this time sounding more defeated.

Harry continues to walk trying to find the right section until they finally do. “Aha!” He opens the door to the freezer and grabs a pack of frozen peas before turning to look at Louis.

Louis looks down at the peas with his eyebrows raised. “Peas?”

Harry grins. “Frozen peas are perfect. Now we must find bandages,” he mumbles, walking away from Louis toward the next aisle over. He hears Louis’ quick footsteps trying to catch up with him. Harry finds the bandages and grabs some as well as a packet of crisps for Paul before heading to the till. He places the items on the conveyor belt and that’s when the employee, Rita according to her nametag, finally manages to look up. She recognizes Harry immediately and smiles before scanning the items.

As Harry reaches for his credit card to pay for everything, the sound of a shutter startles him and Louis and they both look up. Rita looks at them guiltily. “Sorry.”

Harry pastes a small smile. “It’s alright,” he says as he gathers the bag with the items he just bought.

“Actually, it’s not really alright,” Louis murmurs as they’re walking away. Harry finds Louis’ defensive streak to be endearing, though he wishes it wouldn’t cause Louis any physical pain.

After handing Paul his crisps, Harry walks Louis over to a bench outside by the car park. He pats the spot next to him. “Sit,” orders with no room to argue and Louis easily complies.

Harry rifles through the plastic bag, gets the frozen peas, and places it on top of Louis’ injured hand. “Hold this please.”

Louis holds the bag on top of his knuckles, his fingers wiggling a little as if he’s testing out the pain and he winces. Harry looks at him fondly before grabbing the pack of bandages and ripping it open. He wraps the cloth gently and carefully around Louis’ hand until he’s sure that it will hold before taping it together.

“There we go.” He says lifting Louis’ hand and placing a kiss on the part that isn’t covered by the bandage.

Louis chuckles lifting his hand up with the lopsided looking bag of peas. “I look like a pirate or something,” he says gazing at Harry.

Harry shakes his head. “Just leave it there for a bit to get the swelling down.”

Louis huffs. “Fine. But you have to tell me something about you that no one else knows.”

Harry quirks an eyebrow. “Oh really?”

Louis nods. “Yes. Where did you grow up?”

Harry runs a hand through his hair. “Holmes Chapel.” Talking about the past makes him nervous and he has a feeling it’s about to get very serious very soon. Harry doesn’t mind it, he wants Louis to know him, to trust him. He just wishes he would have brought his bottle of gin out of the car to make this conversation easier.

Louis hums. “I’m from Doncaster,” he supplies. “What about your family? Are your parents together?”

Harry swallows hard. He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. “My parents are dead.” It doesn’t matter how long it’s been, saying those words will never stop feeling like a stab in the heart.

Louis’ face falls. “Oh Harry, I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have prodded.”

Harry waves him off. “It’s okay, Lou. It’s been a long time. They died way before I first got signed.”

There’s a sadness in Louis’ eyes that Harry regrets having put there.

“They were in a car accident on their way to visit my nan. I was supposed to go with them, but I didn’t want to. Liam had got us tickets to see Fleetwood Mac and I was dying to go. I begged and begged my mum to let me stay and she reluctantly agreed to let me stay at Liam’s while they were away. They never made it over there because they were hit by a drunk driver. It’s why I don’t drive.” That and the fact that he isn’t sober enough to do so most of the time.

Louis’ uninjured hand comes up to rest on Harry’s knee as he continues.

“Liam, he’s my manager now, his parents took me in and adopted me so that I wouldn’t get put into the system. Other than my nan I had no one else really, and she was in the early stages of dementia. It’s why my parents were going to see her to begin with.”

“God, Harry. I’m so sorry you had to go through that,” Louis finally speaks after minutes of silence.

Harry clears his throat. “As I said, it’s been a long time. I grew up with Liam and his family and a few years later I went to audition on X Factor. The rest, as they say, is history,” he smiles looking at Louis. Louis smiles back but it doesn’t quite reach his eyes.

As much as Harry wants to be honest with Louis, there is one thing that he will probably never tell anyone. He doesn’t say that he often wishes it were him instead of his parents. That he wishes his mum wouldn’t have let him stay so that he could have gone with them. That the guilt eats at him so much that he’d rather make himself try to forget. He doesn’t tell Louis, but the way he’s looking at Harry right now, it’s like he can read his mind as he squeezes his knee comfortingly.

“So anyway, what about you? What’s your family like?” Harry changes the subject.

Louis stares at Harry for another moment before finally answering. “It’s very big. I’ve got six siblings: five sisters and a brother. They’re all back in Doncaster. I moved to London for uni but dropped out. School wasn’t really my thing, so I decided to pursue music. But that went to shit as well so,” he shrugs.

“Will you ever let me hear one of your songs?” Harry asks full of hope.

Louis bites his lip nervously. “I don’t know. It’s been a long time since anyone has.”

Harry reaches to caress Louis’ cheek, making him look up from his lap. Even though it’s dark out and all they have is the lighting coming from the street lights, Louis is still so breathtaking.

“You have such an amazing voice, Louis. I’d be honoured to hear you sing one of your songs.” Harry tells him.

Louis doesn’t respond to that, instead, he seems to find his nails more interesting as he picks at them. Harry wants to pull his hand away. After a few moments, Louis sighs and stands up, turning to face Harry. He closes his eyes before opening them again, his gaze falling on Harry.

“This is a song I’ve been working on. It’s not finished or anything, but it’s something,” he says.

Harry nods in encouragement, sitting back and bracing himself for the greatness he knows is about to come out of Louis’ mouth.

Louis looks up, “Okay I think it goes something like…” He clears his throat. “ There’s a moment when you finally realize there’s no way you can change the rolling tide. But I know, yes, I know that I’ll be fine. That’s part of a verse and then the chorus goes... This time I’m ready to run, escape from the city and follow the sun .” He hums the next part and then sings again. “ I don’t want to get lost in the dark of the night. ‘Cause I wanna be free and I wanna be young, I will never look back now I’m ready to run.” He lingers on the last note for a bit before looking back up, his cheeks flushed a pretty pink and biting his lip.

“Wow. Louis that was...wow.” Harry is rendered speechless. “I just...you’re so talented. I’m serious,” he says when Louis tries to brush him off.

“Thank you. It’s not finished but,” he lifts his shoulders. “They’re just words that I needed to get out.”

Harry smiles. By now the alcohol is pretty much out of his system, the sun is starting to wake up in the horizon ahead of them and Harry doesn’t want the night to end. He’s only known Louis for a few hours, but somehow it feels like they’re long lost friends who have found their way back to each other.

“I should probably head home,” Louis says as he gazes at the beginning stages of the sunrise. “I’ve got work in five hours.” He offers his hand to Harry to help him up and he accepts it gratefully.

“Let me take you,” Harry offers and walks them toward the black car still parked in the same spot they had left it. They’re still holding hands while they sit in the back seat and Harry never wants to let go.

**

Louis keeps pinching himself when Harry isn’t looking to remind himself that he isn’t dreaming. The night has been beyond magical and he’s afraid that he’ll wake up any minute from a dream. The mild pain from the pinching tells him that it’s not a dream, that Harry Styles is very much holding his hand as Louis gives Paul directions on how to get to his flat.

Harry isn’t what Louis expected at all. He seems so humble and honest, even vulnerable at times. Louis feels privileged to be able to experience him this way. A nudge on his thigh brings Louis back to the present, and when he looks over, Harry is handing him his phone.

“Can I have your number?” Harry asks with a hopeful smile. And this is why he’s probably able to get whatever he wants. That and the fact that he’s one of the most famous popstars in the world.

Louis takes Harry’s phone and types in his contact information, sending himself a text to save his number as well before handing the phone back. Harry stares at the screen for a moment before his gaze lands back on Louis.

“What?” Louis asks after Harry doesn’t say anything. He has that look on his face again like he’s about to ask Louis for something else.

Harry bites his lip. “Come to my next show tonight,” he says.

It takes everything in Louis not to gasp because this can’t be happening. Harry Styles is asking him to come to one of his shows. One that’s in a different city. He instantly deflates when he remembers his shift starts in a few hours and he still hasn’t had any sleep.

“I’m sorry I can’t. I have to work.” Louis says apologetically.

Paul parks in front of Louis’ building and Harry and Louis remain quiet.

“Thanks for a lovely night, Harry. You’ve got my number alright? Use it.” Louis moves to open the door and hops out of the vehicle. “Bye Harry,” he says before shutting the door.

Louis has only walked a few steps away from the car when he can hear the distinct sound of the window rolling down.

“Hey, Louis?” Harry calls out.

Louis turns around with a questioning look in his eyes. “What is it?”

Harry grins like an absolute gorgeous idiot. “Nothing. Just wanted to get one last look at you,” he says winking.

Louis can’t help the blush that colours his cheeks and the smile that appears on his face. “Goodbye Harry. Have a great show tonight.”

“Bye Lou,” Harry says before Paul drives away. Louis shakes his head in amusement.

What is his life right now?

Chapter Text

“I do believe his mouth is heaven, his kisses falling over me like stars.”

-Richard Siken, Crush

 


 When Louis unlocked his front door, he dropped his keys as soon as he caught sight of the stranger standing half-naked in his kitchen. He places his hand on his chest, gasping.

“Fuck, you scared me. Who are you?” Louis picks up the keys he dropped and locks the door while trying not to stare at the man’s bare chest.

The young man blushes as he stirs sugar into his tea on the counter. “I’m sorry. I’m Shawn...um Niall’s friend.”

Louis has never heard of Shawn which means Niall has been keeping it from him, piquing his curiosity about who the guy is. It looks like Shawn might be more than just a friend by the way he stands in the kitchen with the tiniest pants that leave very little to the imagination.

“Shawn, baby. What’s taking you so...oh...shit.” Niall appears in the doorway and Louis flinches covering his face.

“Oh my god Niall. Put some clothes on, you wanker!” Louis yells.

Niall rushes to cover his crotch, his eyes going wide and his cheeks bright red. “Louis...I thought you were...I didn’t think you’d come home at all today. Since you went home with…” He glances at Shawn before turning back winking, “You know who.”

Louis rolls his eyes. “I didn’t come home last night, but it’s the next day now and I’m here because this is also my flat.”

Shawn excuses himself, taking his tea into Niall’s room and shutting the door. “Who the fuck is that?” Louis whisper-shouts as soon as he hears the door click.

Niall scratches the back of his head forgetting what he was covering to begin with, but at this point, Louis is over it. It isn’t the first time he’s seen his best friend naked and it won’t be the last. He’s found Niall in worse compromising positions that he'd like to erase from his mind. However, none of these situations have featured men.

“Shawn’s a friend. I uh...I met him when I had to cover for Frank one night. He’d just gotten dumped and I was there to lend an ear. One thing lead to the other and... well...Have you seen his arse?”

Louis can’t help the guffaw that comes out of his mouth. He slaps his mouth shut trying to contain his laughter. “Oh, my dearest Niall. Welcome to the club!” He stretches his arms to hug his friend.

Niall groans. “I still like women too, you know? I’m just a bit more open-minded now…”

Louis kisses him on the cheek. “Well still. Congrats on popping your bum sex cherry.”

“Stop!” Niall whines. “Let’s stop talking about me and talk more about you. How was your night? What happened?” His eyes scan Louis and they land on the bag of peas on his hand that has long melted by now. “Why do you have a bag of peas bandaged to your hand?”

Louis sighs. “It’s a long story, Ni.” He checks the time on his phone and winces. “Listen, I have to go to sleep. My shift at the restaurant starts in four hours. If I’m even a minute late Simon will have my arse and I can’t afford it.”

Niall pouts. “Fine. But this conversation isn’t over. You’re going to tell me everything, okay? Don’t leave any detail out.” He points a finger at Louis.

“I promise, okay? Goodnight...and have fun,” Louis winks before making his way to his bedroom leaving a groaning Niall behind.

Louis’ eyes get heavier the closer he gets to his room and he falls face first, moaning at how good it feels to finally be in bed. The exhaustion is totally worth it, he wouldn’t trade last night for anything in the world. With the memories of the night replaying in Louis’ mind, he falls asleep.

Louis sits up on the bed instantly, startled by the loud banging on the front door. He rubs at his eyes and reaches for his cell phone to check the time. Fuck. His alarm is set to go off in half an hour and he wanted to get as much sleep as possible. Rolling off with a frustrated groan, Louis storms out of his room toward the door. It better not be Niall locked out of the flat again.

Paul flinches when Louis pulls the door open, his eyes wide and maybe a bit frightened. He puts his hands up.

“Paul? What are you doing here?” Some of the annoyance melts away but Louis still doesn’t appreciate being woken up before his alarm.

“Harry asked me to come pick you up so I can fly you over to the show.” Paul straightens his posture and places his hands behind his back waiting for Louis to answer.

It takes everything in Louis not to drop his jaw on the floor. Not only is Harry Styles one of the most beautiful people Louis has ever met, he’s also the most insistent and his patience is wearing thin.

Louis huffs. “I already told him that I can’t. I have to be at work in an hour. Please tell him that.”

He moves to shut the door but pauses when Paul speaks again. “I’m sorry Louis, but I was instructed not to leave until you agree to go.” He averts his eyes as soon as he finishes his sentence.

Okay, so Harry Styles is also a stubborn twat, got it. Louis shakes his head. “Sorry, Paul. I can’t.” He shuts the door before he can say anything else and leans against it letting out a long sigh.

Louis takes advantage of the extra time he has to take a long hot shower. He tries not to think about Harry and the opportunity he’s being given right now. If Niall were here, he’d be telling Louis he’s mad for turning it down, and maybe he is. Louis can’t afford to lose his job and joining Harry at his show isn’t going to pay his rent. If there’s anything Louis knows it’s that people in the industry aren’t interested in anyone but themselves. Sure, Harry is very charming and gorgeous, but he’s going to forget about Louis as soon as the next person that crosses his path catches his eye. He can’t risk losing his job for a couple of days with Harry. As much as he wants to, he can’t.

“Honey I’m home!” Niall shouts from the other side of their flat as Louis dries off in the bathroom.

“I’m in the bathroom.” Louis throws on a pair of pants before going to his room to get into his work uniform.

“There’s some bloke outside in a shady looking car just sitting outside our building.” Niall appears in Louis’ doorway, crossing his arms across his chest.

Louis doesn’t look at him, instead focuses on tying his shoes. “Yeah. That’s Paul.”

“And who’s Paul?”

Louis drops his foot on the floor and stares at Niall. “He’s Harry’s driver.” He stands in front of the mirror to fix his hair. Niall scoffs, but Louis doesn’t bother saying anything about it.

“Louis, come on. What’s he doing here?”

Louis turns around. “Harry wants me to go to his show tonight, but I can’t because I have to work. But apparently, Harry is a stubborn bastard who can’t take no for an answer because he sent his driver to stalk me until I accept his invitation.”

Niall’s grin widens, and this is exactly why Louis didn’t want to tell him.

“Louis! What the fuck are you doing?” His eyes trail down Louis’ outfit. “You could be flying first class to meet with Harry and instead you’re choosing to go to work and deal with Simon? You’ve really gone mad.”

Before Louis can defend his decision, his phone goes off and he sees that it’s Simon. “Shit, hold on.” He tells Niall before answering. “Hello?”

“Louis, you’re late.” Simon forgoes a greeting and gets straight to the point in his monotone voice.

Louis double checks the time. “I’m not late. My shift starts at 11.”

“No, your shift started at 10. Where the hell are you?”

Louis’ blood begins to boil. He knows his shift starts at 11 today because he made sure to double check with Perrie, knowing he was going to have a performance the night before. He eyes Niall who is looking at him with worried eyes. In that split second is when Louis makes his decision.

“You know what, Simon? I’m done being your punching bag. You can find someone else to do that to because I quit.” Louis hits the end button before Simon can say anything else.

Adrenaline is shooting through his body as he throws his phone on the bed and shoots Niall a look. “Niall…”

Niall jumps up, his grin returns and he claps his hands. “Yes! Let’s do this! You, get out of those clothes and into something else and I’ll go get Paul and tell him we’re coming down.”

Louis turns to his wardrobe as soon as Niall disappears, and he’s immediately overwhelmed. What the hell is he supposed to wear? Louis looks up at the ceiling and takes a deep breath, hoping that tonight will be worth it and praying he’ll be able to find another job soon.

**

Harry gets a short nap on the flight over to Glasgow, but it doesn’t feel like enough and before he knows it, he’s being shaken awake by Liam. There’s a car already waiting for them outside the airport and he can’t wait to get to his hotel room. The dryness in his throat is getting more uncomfortable the longer he goes without having a drink.

Liam checks them in and Harry takes his key card, heading to his room without another word.

“Don’t forget, soundcheck is at 3,” Liam calls as Harry walks away. Harry waves at him and presses the button for the lift.

There’s alcohol in the mini fridge but the bottles are tiny and that won’t cut it for Harry. He calls room service and orders a full bottle of his favourite gin before laying on the bed. He stares at the ceiling, closes his eyes and sees Louis. Louis and his beautiful smile and amazing voice. Harry hasn’t been able to get the song Louis sang last night out of his head. There’s a vulnerability in Louis’ voice when he belted out the lyrics to his song, something Harry hasn’t witnessed someone do in a while. Harry hums the melody, playing the words over and over in his head.

A knock on the door shakes him from his reverie, making him hop out of bed to answer the door for room service. He thanks the hotel porter, tipping him generously before closing the door behind him, not wanting to waste any time making himself a gin and tonic. He retrieves his journal from one of his bags. The leather-bound notebook contains a lot of Harry’s thoughts, some which have become words to the many songs he’s written throughout the years. There are many that haven't made the cut, so they just sit on the semi-worn pages for Harry’s eyes to read through occasionally.

Harry thumbs through the pages, reading the words and remembering where he was when he wrote them. They’re all from different stages of his life. He can tell which ones were from when he’d just started his career, because the lyrics sound happier, maybe even hopeful. Harry pauses his movement when he stumbles upon a page that catches his attention.

Wherever you are is the place I belong.

Harry closes his eyes and savours those words. He hums the melody of Louis’ song again until he gets to the chorus part Louis had sung, but this time he adds his own words to it.

This time I’m ready to run, wherever you are is the place I belong.

Harry smiles to himself and finds a blank page in his journal to jot it down. He downs the rest of his drink before glancing at the alarm clock to check the time. He’s got plenty before sound check and he has work to do, inspiration suddenly hitting him like a freight train.

**

After many changes of clothes, Louis finally settles for something he likes— or more like Niall gets frustrated with him, grabs whatever shirt and jeans he finds and tosses them at him telling him that if he doesn’t get ready soon, they’re going to miss Harry’s show, and this will all have been for nothing. Louis packs a few things in his messenger bag and before he knows it, Paul is driving them to the airport. They go to a private car park and take a special entrance where a private plane is waiting for them to board.

Niall looks over his shoulder at a dumbfounded Louis with a huge grin on his face. “No fucking way!” He runs up the steps and Louis tries his best to keep up.

The inside of the plane is even more luxurious. There are leather seats and shiny wood panels along the sides of the interior walls. Louis’ mouth drops as he takes it all in. They’re told to take their seats, and when he does it’s like sitting on a cloud, the seats are so comfortable and nothing like what sitting in economy on a crowded plane feels like.

Once they’ve hit a proper altitude, they’re brought a bottle of champagne in an ice bucket with two glass flutes. Niall excitedly takes the bottle and pops it open, making them shout when he almost gets Louis in the eye, but in the end, they’re giggling like fools and they haven’t even started drinking yet.

Louis has never had champagne before, and it’s not as good as he’d imagined it would taste, but he empties the glass and refills it anyway. Who knows when he’ll ever get another chance to try fancy champagne. By the time they've landed, Niall and Louis have gone through the entire bottle and Louis is warm and fuzzy.

They’re shoved into the back of an awaiting car. The venue is already packed with a full car park when they arrive. They’re taken to a private entrance where a woman with a pass around her neck greets them and hands them their own backstage passes.

“Follow me,” she tells them before turning around. She doesn’t check to see if they’re following and they struggle to keep up with her, too entranced with the chaos of the backstage area. There are people milling about in every direction doing one thing or another, Louis wants to look around some more, but he can’t. The faint sound of an electric guitar echoes in the distance, getting louder the closer they get to the stage. They climb a few steps and are led through a curtain and suddenly Louis’ ears fill with screams.

From where they stand, they have a perfect view of the crowd, Harry and the band’s backs facing them. Harry is strumming his acoustic guitar crooning into the microphone as the crowd sings along with their hands up in the air swaying back and forth. Louis can’t take his eyes off Harry who’s working the crowd so naturally.

When that song ends, a more upbeat one begins where Harry loses his guitar, takes the microphone in his hand and works the stage like he was born to do. Harry dances and jumps around and the crowd is loving every minute of it. Louis sees what his fans see, and why they’re all so in love with him.

At the end of the song, Harry excuses himself while the band continues to play. When he turns, his eyes meet Louis' and his face lights up.

“Louis, you made it!” Harry wraps his arms around Louis, he’s sweaty but still smells amazing. When Harry pulls away, he’s grinning so wide his dimples are more prominent than ever. “I finished your song. You must come on stage and sing it with me.”

The words leave Harry’s mouth, but they aren’t computing in Louis’ brain. He wrinkles his eyebrows, trying to figure out if he heard Harry correctly.

“What?”

“Your song? The one you sang for me last night. I finished it and the band practiced it during sound check. Come sing it with me. Everyone will love it.”

Louis looks around, the band is still playing, waiting for Harry to come back and take the stage. Niall’s eyes are wide, his grin mirroring Harry’s.

Louis shakes his head. “I can’t Harry. You know I don’t sing my own songs,” he tries. It comes out weak, and Harry must pick up on it.

Harry shrugs. “If you don’t sing with me, I’m going to do it with or without you.” He gazes at Louis one last time before turning to take his place back on the stage.

“The next song I’m going to play for you was written by a friend of mine,” Harry begins. He glances over his shoulder and winks at Louis. “I’m hoping he’ll join me on stage and sing it with me.”

The band plays the beginning chords of the song while Harry walks by the drum set to take a swig of water. Louis’ heart is rabbiting in his chest, and his ears won’t stop ringing. The sound of the roaring crowd is muffled, and he feels like he can’t breathe. He startles when Niall nudges him. Louis reluctantly looks at his best friend, holding his breath.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, Louis. This has the potential of making all of your dreams come true.”

Louis doesn’t say anything. Instead, he looks back at Harry who is preparing to sing the first lines of Louis’ song.

There’s a lightning in your eyes I can’t deny. Then there’s me inside a sinking boat running out of time.”

Time stands still and it’s only Harry and Louis in the arena. Harry looks over at Louis and smiles as he sings the next lines.

Without you, I’ll never make it out alive. But I know, yes I know we’ll be alright .”

Louis takes a deep breath. It doesn't register that he’s walking towards Harry until he’s nearly halfway there. As soon as the crowd sees him, they scream deafeningly loud. Harry smirks when he sees him, gesturing for Louis to take over the mic next to him. There’s a music stand with a sheet that contains the lyrics, and Louis’ mouth goes dry as he skims through the words.

Harry continues to the second verse, giving Louis time to warm up to the song.

There’s a devil in your smile that’s chasing me. And every time I turn around it’s only gaining speed.”

At this point, Louis feels ready to jump in. He throws a glance at Harry and gives him a thumbs up before taking the mic in his hand.

There’s a moment when you finally realize there’s no way you can change the rolling tide. But I know, yes I know that I’ll be fine.”

Harry takes his mic out of the stand, moving closer towards Louis as they belt out the chorus.

This time I’m ready to run, escape from the city and follow the sun.”

A rush of adrenaline travels throughout Louis’ entire body, and the more they sing the louder the audience gets. It only motivates Louis to give even more of himself in his performance. Suddenly all the nerves that he had when he first walked to the stage have melted away and he only feels more confident the longer he sings along with Harry.

Harry leans in as the music continues. “The bridge is all you. Show them what you’ve got,” he murmurs into Louis’ ear.

Louis swallows hard and closes his eyes just as that part comes around. And he gives it his all.

This time I’m ready to run. I’ll give everything that I got for your love.”

The crowd screams when Louis hits the high notes, and Harry pats him on the back as he joins him on the last chorus. It’s all so surreal, Louis is sure he’s dreaming because this can’t possibly be his life right now.

They sing the last line; the lights go down and the crowd loses it.

“Give it up for Louis!” Harry shouts, extending his arm to him. All Louis can think of doing is bowing and blowing kisses at the audience before running off the stage.

Niall’s got his arms wide open and Louis runs right into them.

“Oh my god, Louis. Oh my god! That was amazing!” They jump in their places, embracing each other. Louis could cry he’s had the most out of body experience. He can’t believe that just happened.

His hands shake like crazy as he pulls away from Niall and tries to enjoy the rest of Harry’s set. He’s completely lost in a haze of his post-performance high, he doesn’t realize the show is over until Harry is hugging him.

“Louis, you were amazing. The crowd loved it.”

It’s all a whirlwind after that. They’re taken backstage and escorted through a back entrance, Louis never leaving Harry’s side as they get on the back of the car and taken to an unknown location.

“I really like what you did with the song.”

Louis can’t believe that he makes Harry blush at his words. Harry runs a hand through his beautiful curls, and even sweaty, they’re still gorgeous.

Harry shrugs. “It wasn’t much. Your parts were brilliant.”

Louis nudges Harry. “Don’t do that. You’re amazing at what you do. You don’t have to downplay it.”

Harry smiles but doesn’t say anything else. Instead, he reaches for the bottle of alcohol by his feet. He unscrews the top and takes a swig before offering it to Louis.

“We’ve got to toast for a great performance and hopefully to the start of many great things for you, Louis.”

Louis blushes and takes the bottle in his hands before taking a hefty swig of the bottle, determined to make this one of the most memorable nights of his life.

**

Paul drops them off at Harry’s friend’s penthouse in the city. Nick Grimshaw is a well-known socialite who is known for throwing the most lavish parties, and he’s throwing an after-show party for Harry at which he’s promised to make an appearance.

“Harry darling, you made it!” Nick greets them as soon as he opens the door. His eyes land straight on Louis and his eyebrow quirks in interest. “And who’s this tasty little treat?”

Harry’s stomach twists uncomfortably and he places his arm around Louis’ waist, bringing him closer to him. “This is Louis.”

Nick seems to catch Harry’s protectiveness because he eases on the thirsty look in his eyes, flashing a smile. “Louis, it’s nice to meet you. I’m Nick Grimshaw.” He extends his hand and Louis takes it.

“Nice to meet you too,” Louis says. His voice careful.

“Come in, come in. Harry, where’s the rest of your crew?”

“They should be right behind us, but traffic was a bit of a nightmare,” Harry explains.

They’re herded inside and taken to the bar area where Harry asks for his usual gin and tonic and Louis for a beer. Nick then pulls Harry around to introduce him to people he’ll never remember the names of, and he’s saved by the arrival of his bandmates and Louis’ best friend, Niall.

Louis visibly relaxes when he sees Niall enter the room and he excuses himself to go talk to him. Harry is about to follow him when he’s being pulled by Nick to talk to one of the Jenner sisters. Talking to one person turns into two, then three, and before he knows it he’s being pulled in all sorts of directions by people he’s never even met before in his life. He tries to find Louis in the sea of people, but he isn’t anywhere in his line of sight, which only makes Harry more annoyed.

“Who’s that beautiful boy you came with Harry? Your new boy toy?”

Harry glares at Aiden he thinks his name is. “Not a boy toy. He performed on stage with me today. He was amazing.” A smile appears on his face and he’s sure he looks like an absolute idiot, but he doesn’t care.

“Oh, did he? We must see if there’s footage of it online. I need to see this.” Nick disappears who knows where and Harry doesn’t bother with trying to figure it out. Nick is often in his own little world and Harry’s just along for the ride at times.

Harry takes advantage of Nick’s distraction to find Louis. He excuses himself from the group of people he was with and makes his way to the bar for another drink while scanning the room for any signs of Louis. Harry finds it hard to believe that one person can know this many people, the room is suffocating. With no luck in finding Louis, Harry makes his way to the balcony, needing some fresh air and a moment to himself away from the crowd.

The cool night summer breeze hits him as soon as he walks out. There isn’t anyone out here, and he’s grateful for the short time alone that he rarely gets. By now he would have already been high on something, but he’s been holding back, sticking to just cocktails for the night. It surprises him because he’s never let anyone stop him from smoking or snorting whatever is available to him but for some reason, knowing that Louis is around, he doesn’t want to do that.

There’s commotion inside and Harry reluctantly moves to see what all the fuss is about. Everyone is gathered in the lounge area around Nick’s big screen TV and Harry recognizes Louis’ voice and his heart stutters. He bumps into some people on his way to the noise and when he gets there, he sees what all the fuss is about. It’s a video of Harry and Louis’ performance of “Ready to Run” in a theatre sized screen. Harry feels Louis’ gaze before he sees him and when he tilts his head to look over, he catches sight of him. He’s smiling, his eyes bright. Everyone around them is standing in silence watching the performance and when it’s over, they all clap.

“You guys smashed it!” Nick boasts. “The video has already gone viral. It’s got millions of views.” He shows them what he’s talking about and Harry’s eyes widen. When his eyes meet Louis’, he's mirroring the same look.

Just as Harry is about to make his way to Louis, he’s swept away by a group of people who are praising his performance. Harry almost pouts as he watches Louis’ attention being taken away by complete strangers. He almost wants to pull him away from everyone so he can have him all to himself, but he doesn’t want to be selfish because he has no ownership over Louis. Instead, he lets out a sigh and heads to the bar for another drink.

Harry remains in the bar area, but this time he doesn’t lose sight of Louis. His eyes follow him as he talks to one person then the another. Niall isn’t with him anymore, who knows where he’s gone. The guy from earlier, Aiden, will not leave Louis’ side. If anything, he seems to be getting closer and closer and it’s driving Harry mad.

Aiden throws his hand over Louis’ shoulders and he’s whispering something in his ear that makes Louis shift his eyes away. That’s when Harry decides he can’t take it anymore.

Harry downs the rest of the contents in his glass, placing it on the worktop and walking over to Louis with purpose. He ignores anyone who tries to stop him to talk. He isn’t going to keep letting people distract him. He shouldn’t have allowed it to begin with, shouldn’t have ever left Louis’ side. He’s done making mistakes, and instead, he’s going for what he wants.

For who he wants.

Aiden looks up, giving Harry an unimpressed once-over not stepping away from Louis. In fact, he seems to be pulling Louis closer over to him. Louis sees Harry, his eyes meeting his. In a split second, Harry surges forward, takes Louis’ face in his hands and captures his lips in a kiss.

It’s like Harry’s coming up for air for the first time in his life. Suddenly, no one around them matters, the only person he sees is Louis.

Louis smells like coconuts and sweat, and he tastes even better. His mouth is warm and soft and tastes so good, Harry never wants to stop. At one point Aiden mumbles something about them getting a room and walks away, leaving them on their own and Harry couldn’t be more grateful.

They reluctantly part, Harry never leaving his eyes from Louis.

“Wow.” Louis sounds breathless, his lips shiny and so pink. Harry goes in for another kiss.

“I’ve been wanting to do this all night,” Harry admits.

“I’m glad you finally did.” Louis smiles, tilting his head to kiss him again. This time he takes Harry’s bottom lip between his teeth and nibbles at it, making Harry groan.

“You’re stunning. Want to get out of here?” Harry asks with hopeful eyes.

Louis grins, leaning his forehead against Harry’s. “I thought you’d never ask.”

Harry almost drops his key card as he fumbles with it to unlock his door. As soon as the green light comes on, Louis is on him again, attaching his lips to his neck. They couldn’t keep their hands off each other in the car and Harry would be embarrassed and unable to look Paul in the eye again, but at the same time, Paul has seen him in worse compromising situations.

They kiss and help each other strip off their clothing as they stumble across the hall towards the bed. The back of Harry’s knees hit the edge of the bed and they both stop. Louis gazes up at Harry, his eyes dark with want, his cheeks flushed so pretty. Harry takes it all in, he wants to savour this night, remember it. For once, he isn’t high on something and his buzz has gone down tremendously. He wants to remember this moment, the way Louis tastes and the way he looks when Harry makes him come. The thought alone brings a zing of pleasure up his spine.

Harry drops to his knees. He pulls down Louis’ pants and admires the beautiful size of his cock. It’s so gorgeous, the perfect length and Harry wants to get his mouth on it. So, he does. Without another word, he takes Louis’ length in his hand and licks the tip of the head, looking up at Louis as he does. Louis’ hands come up to rest on Harry’s shoulders and the prettiest moan comes out of his lips which only urges Harry to keep going.

“You taste so good, love.” Harry sucks him down, taking as much of Louis as he can without choking. He doesn’t want to make a tit of himself the first time he’s intimate with Louis. He wants to be able to have more than just one night with him and wants to leave an impression, leave Louis wanting more. Harry hollows his cheeks and slurps on the tip, groaning at how good it tastes. It’s been a long time since he’s gone down on a man. Normally, he lets the guys he brings home for the night do all the work, but with Louis, he wants to do it all.

Louis nudges Harry. “You’re going to make me come like this if you don’t slow down,” he pants.

Harry reluctantly pulls away, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand and getting back on his feet. He helps Louis lay on the bed before taking off his own pants and joins him, settling between his legs. He leans in to kiss Louis again, licking down his jaw and neck, nibbling and leaving a mark before pulling back again.

Their eyes meet and Louis already looks so fucked out, Harry can’t believe he did that.

“What do you want Louis?”

Harry is usually the one to tell the men he brings to bed what he wants. He doesn’t know what it is about Louis that makes him want to do everything for him, be whatever Louis wants him to be. Give him the best pleasure he’s ever had in his life.

Louis bites onto his bottom lip, looking unsure and turned on at the same time.

“What is it? Tell me.” Harry leans in and kisses Louis on the centre of his chest. His skin is warm against his lips.

Louis visibly swallows, his neck constricting with the movement. “I want you. All of you.” He whispers so quietly, Harry nearly misses it but he’s glad he doesn’t. His lips curve into a smile and he lays a peck on Louis’ lips.

“I’ll give you whatever you want. The entire world.” Harry licks into Louis’ lips. Their kiss becomes hungrier and dirtier, snogging each other senseless until their lips are raw.

Harry kisses every inch of Louis’ skin, starting from his lips, down to his jaw and neck, savouring every moment. Louis is delectable, like salted caramel that Harry can’t get enough of. He takes one of Louis’ nipples, sucking on it gently at first, then nibbling at it with purpose. The sounds that come out of Louis’ mouth are heavenly, Harry wishes he could record them and listen to them endlessly.

Harry circles his tongue around Louis’ belly button, sucking bruises wherever he can.

“Fuck. Stop teasing and just get on with it,” Louis grunts, pulling on Harry’s hair.

Harry moans at the pain in his scalp. He always knew he had a bit of a pain kink, but Louis is making it come out in full force, Harry can’t get enough. He reluctantly pulls away with a soft chuckle at Louis’ desperation. He finds the lube and condoms without a problem before joining Louis back on the bed.

Louis catches Harry off guard by taking the lube away from him, not wasting any time to begin opening himself up. Harry just sits there too stunned to do anything, but stare mesmerized at the way that Louis’ fingers work themselves in and out of his arse. Harry licks his lips and when he tries to reach out to help, Louis slaps his hand away.

“Not this time, love.” Louis pants without missing a beat as he continues to stretch himself open.

Louis is hovering over Harry, his hand behind himself. Even though Harry can’t see the way his fingers are spreading him open, he doesn’t need to. He’s got a perfect view of Louis right now, seeing the ultimate pleasure painted on his face.

“Come on, baby.” Harry whines. Louis pulls his hand away and reaches for the condom, expertly rolling it on him. The quick contact makes Harry buck his hips and it frustrates him when it isn’t nearly enough for him.

Louis takes his cock and begins to slowly and carefully sit on it, inch by frustrating inch. By the time he’s seated fully on top of Harry, he wastes no time in reaching to grab onto the globes of Louis’ arse and begin to fuck into him. Louis’ hands come down to rest on Harry’s chest to get some leverage and it improves the angle for both.

“Oh fuck!” Louis moans, but Harry doesn’t stop. He continues building a rhythm of thrusts, the friction getting better by the second.

Louis’ fringe flies in front of his eyes with every movement. Harry can’t take his eyes off him. He’d love to take a picture of them like this so he can come back to this moment and this feeling he can’t describe.

“I’m not going to last much longer,” Harry warns, already feeling himself reaching the edge.

Louis’ hand flies down to begin stroking himself and a few thrusts later, Harry is coming. His hips stutter and he holds onto Louis, leaning up to lick into his mouth and that’s when Louis begins to paint their chests with come. Louis leans his forehead against Harry as their breathing slows down.

“That was amazing. You’re amazing,” Harry tells him, placing a soft kiss against his lips.

Louis hums happily, laying his cheek on Harry’s chest.

“So are you.”

Chapter Text

“In his arms, I slowly unfolded like a love note read in secret.”

-Jill S. Alexander, Paradise

 

The chilly air from the air con raises Louis from sleep. He blearily looks around the room as his memory reminds him of where he is. A snoring Harry is lying peacefully next to him, hogging all the covers. Louis rolls off the bed and grabs his phone, tiptoeing to the bathroom trying not to disturb Harry’s sleep. He goes for a quick wee and washes his hands, before settling into the sitting area of the hotel room to check his messages. 

Louis’ eyes nearly bulge out of his head as he sees the endless message notifications. His heart jumps thinking that something bad must have happened, but as he scrolls through his phone, he calms down realizing it’s mostly his friends and family congratulating him on his performance with Harry. It looks like they’ve all watched the video that’s gone viral. Louis clicks over to said YouTube video and gasps when he sees that the video has already more than doubled in views since last night. It’s truly unbelievable.

He opens a new message and sends Niall a text asking where he is. He lost his best friend sometime during the party last night and wants to know he’s okay.

As Louis gets up to go back to the bedroom his phone buzzes.

Niall: Liam got me a room right down the hall from you guys. Had an all nighter ;)

Louis: What about Shawn??

Niall: It’s not exclusive with him!

Louis scoffs and rolls his eyes at Niall’s ridiculousness. He doesn’t bother responding and instead tiptoes back to the bedroom. Harry is awake, sitting on the bed with his back against the headboard typing something into his phone. He looks up as soon as Louis walks into the room.

“Good morning. I was wondering where you’d gone.” Harry smiles, putting his phone away.

Louis joins him on the bed, getting under the duvet.

“I was just looking through my messages and checking in with Niall.” Louis lays his head on Harry’s lap and he doesn’t waste any time running his fingers through his hair as soon as he does.

“Are you hungry? Room service should be here in a few minutes.” Harry informs him.

Louis’ stomach growls right on cue and they both laugh.

“I’m going to shower first if you don’t mind. I’m feeling a bit sticky.”

Harry chuckles. “Don’t mind at all. Use whatever you need. I’ll have your tea ready when you get out.” He leans down to kiss Louis on the forehead and the warmth of Harry’s mouth makes Louis close his eyes and hum in appreciation.

“Thanks.”

It takes Louis a few minutes before he manages to get out of bed. Having a hot rockstar in your bed makes it quite difficult.

The shower is one of the biggest Louis has ever seen. It’s got shower heads coming from almost every direction. When he turns on the water he yelps because it comes out cold at first and there wasn’t a way for Louis to avoid it. It doesn’t take long for it to warm up and before he knows it, the shower stall is filling up with steam.

As Louis is rinsing off the suds from his hair, he feels strong arms wrap around his torso, and he melts right into the embrace.

“Can I help you?”

Instead of a response, Harry kisses Louis between his shoulder blades and then rests his chin on his shoulder.

“I missed you, so I wanted to join you.”

Louis flushes, turning around and wrapping his arms around Harry’s neck. “You’re a lost cause.”

Harry drops a kiss to his lips and hums. “I guess I am.”

Louis lets Harry get under the spray and wash off as he works some conditioner into his own hair. It smells good, like Harry and cinnamon. After they both wash the rest of the soap off, they snog for a bit under the warm spray, but as soon as it’s about to turn into something more it takes everything in Louis to stop it.

“No funny business in the shower. I don’t want to have to explain to my mum why I ended up breaking my foot or summat.”

Harry pouts but moves to shut the water off anyway. They dry off in some of the softest towels Louis has ever felt against his skin before finally making it out to the dining area.

Louis takes in all the food that Harry has ordered and looks over at him. “Are you expecting people over?”

Harry pulls out a chair for Louis before he sits down himself. “No... why?”

Louis gestures to all the food. “This is a shitload of food.”

“Oh,” Harry blushes. “I wasn’t sure what you liked so I ordered a bit of everything.”

Louis looks at him fondly. “Thank you.” He claps his hands together and takes in all the food trying to decide where he wants to start.

They make tea and Harry earns some extra points for having ordered Louis’ favourite Yorkshire brand. They sit in comfortable silence as they eat their breakfast in peace.

“So, I have a proposition for you.”

Louis’ head snaps up at the sound of Harry’s voice who’s poking at the food on his plate but none of it is making it into his mouth.

“What is it?” Louis mumbles with a mouthful of food. He’s having the crispiest waffles that melt in his mouth. He swallows his food and takes a drink of his tea as he waits for Harry to continue.

“Last night was the last European date on this leg of the tour. I have some time off before we head over to the States to continue the final leg. I’ll be playing venues like Madison Square Garden and stuff.”

Louis’ heart drops hearing that Harry will be in the States for who knows how long. The selfish part of him doesn’t want him to go, wants him to stay here in Europe, closer to Louis. But as they say, all good things must come to an end eventually.

Louis nods along as he listens attentively.

“So, I was thinking maybe you could join me for that leg of the tour? You can perform with me every night, maybe we can have you performing more of your songs. Anything.” Harry’s eyes are wide as he rambles. It seems like he’s been thinking about this for some time since he seems to have some sort of plan in mind.

Louis stares at Harry, taking in the words that just came out of his mouth. It can’t be real, can it? Harry Styles can’t possibly want him, Louis Tomlinson, to join him on tour in America. He blinks a few times to make sure he really is here sitting across from Harry listening to his words making sure it isn’t all a dream.

“Louis?”

Harry’s voice snaps Louis out of his thoughts, his eyes meeting Harry again.

“What do you think?” Harry asks, his eyebrow raised. He seems nervous about whatever Louis’ reaction might be.

Louis clears his throat. “I’m not sure Harry. Is that even possible? Have you made sure it was okay with like Liam or whoever is in charge?” He’s stalling because he really doesn’t know what to say. His immediate reaction is to say yes of course, but the more rational part of him is telling him he’s gone mad and that he needs to stay in London and find another job or else he won’t be able to make his part of the rent next month.

Harry’s eyebrows furrow. “I’m in charge Louis. This is my tour. Everyone in my team and crew are employed by me, so I can pretty much make any decision I want. And I want you to join me.” He looks more confident now, surer in his decision and he flashes a smile.

“I don’t know, Harry. Can I have some time to think about it?” There’s a bit of disappointment in Harry’s eyes, but he smiles anyway.

“Of course. The first show is in two weeks. Take the time you need to think about it and let me know.”

“Thanks.”

They spend the rest of the day lounging around, lying in bed watching mindless television. That eventually leads to snogging which leads to a few more rounds of sex. Being with Harry is like nothing Louis has ever experienced before. He’s had his fair share of flings and relationships, but none of them compare to what it’s like with Harry. Louis doesn’t want it to end.

While Harry is trying to convince Louis to have another go, they’re interrupted by a knock at the door. Harry huffs and rolls off the bed, covering himself in a bathrobe before answering the door. Louis catches sight of Niall’s grin and Louis grabs the duvet to cover up.

“Sorry to interrupt you lovebirds,” Niall says when Harry lets him in. “Louis, I’ve got to head back home. I’ve let the club in the hands of Frank long enough. God knows what mess I’ll come back to. I was just seeing if you wanted to come with or if you’re going to stay a bit longer.” His eyes flick to Harry before landing back on Louis, smirking knowingly.

Louis could easily choose to stay longer with Harry, but then he won’t be able to think clearly about the tour. Maybe spending his time away from Harry, while he takes the time to decide, is best for him.

“I’ll go with you,” Louis confirms. He rolls out of bed to grab his clothes.

“I’ll be in my room. Just come over when you’re ready. Paul is waiting for us.” Niall tells him before excusing himself from the room.

As soon as the door shuts, Harry walks over to Louis and stops him from putting his shirt back on. “Don’t go.”

Harry’s voice is soft and vulnerable, making Louis feel guilty.

“Trust me, I don’t want to go. But maybe it’s for the best. At least until I make a decision.” Louis explains.

Harry pouts, crossing his arms. “You can make a decision while you’re in bed with me,” he says, pulling Louis closer to him, kissing him on the throat. “I can make some pretty convincing arguments as to why you should join me on tour,” Harry emphasizes his words by kissing Louis down his neck and nibbling on his collarbones.

Louis moans. “Fuck, you’re so good at that,” he lets out a breath before pushing Harry away gently. “No, I can’t. If I do decide to go with you, there are things I’ll have to take care of at home before I go. It’s easier for me to just head back now and give you an answer as soon as possible.”

Harry exhales loudly. “Fine.” He pulls Louis by the waist again, this time his lips land on his, and he licks into the seam of his lips. Louis lets him in easily, moaning at the taste of Harry’s tongue. He can get used to this. They pull away with a loud smacking sound. “Text me when you get home.”

Louis wraps his arms around Harry’s neck and hugs him. He inhales his scent, committing it to memory, hoping it will last while they’re apart.

“I promise I will. Bye Haz.” He pecks Harry on the nose as they pull apart and with one last look, he turns around to walk away.

Walking away from Harry is harder to do this time around and it takes everything in Louis not to run back into his arms and never leave.

**

Harry avoids going to his home in Los Angeles at all costs, but his presence is required in a few meetings and he gets them over and done with as quickly as possible. Liam has gone home to visit family, and Paul had planned to go on holiday with his wife and children months ago.

Breaks always remind Harry how lonely he really is, so he drinks to forget. He’s on his fifth, or maybe it’s his sixth cocktail. He’s messing about with his acoustic guitar. It’s out of tune because it’s been lying around the house while Harry’s been away, but he doesn’t care. He just needs something to drown out the quiet that fills this space.

How can someone feel so lonely in a place that can house an entire so many people? This place isn’t home for Harry. Sure, it’s his house, where he lives, but it doesn’t feel like home. It’s cold and smells like disinfectant because it’s clean since Harry is hardly ever here. Harry wipes at his eyes, not realizing that he had tears rolling down his cheeks. He reaches for his bottle of pills and groans when he realizes that there’s only one pill left. He’d forgotten to contact his guy about getting him more, and one pill isn’t going to do anything. It takes a lot more for Harry to feel the high he’s looking for.

Harry grabs his phone from the coffee table, the contacts are blurry as he scrolls to find the right one. He sends a quick text hoping that he’ll able to get his fix tonight, but he isn’t getting his hopes up. Staring at his phone, he scrolls by Louis’ number and decides to text him too. He hasn’t heard from him since his text the other day that he’d gotten home safely. Harry wishes he could know what Louis is thinking, what he thinks of Harry.

Harry has never met someone like Louis, and he’s met so many people throughout his career. Many of them want to take advantage of Harry in some way or the other, and he’s gotten quite good at catching them before they get away with it. It’s why Harry doesn’t have many friends anymore, he’s gotten burned too many times. The only people he trusts completely are Liam, Paul, and his childhood friend Johnny.

Louis is different, unique. There’s something about him, the way he looks at Harry that makes him feel complete whenever Louis is around. When he’s with Louis, Harry doesn’t crave to get high. There’s something about Louis’ skin, the way he tastes and feels that’s better than any drug Harry’s ever tried.

Harry hasn’t been happy for quite some time, but with Louis, there’s a sliver of hope that he can get there. If that’s possible, then Harry doesn’t want to let Louis go. He won’t.

The sound of his phone shakes Harry from his thoughts as he notices that he’s received a text. It isn’t Louis, but it doesn’t stop the smile on his face. Harry pulls up the Lyft app, the promise of getting high awaiting him at his dealer’s house.

It’s the cold floor that wakes Harry up. His cheek is pressed against the cold, hard floor of a bathroom he doesn’t recognize. He scrunches his eyebrows and is hit with a sharp pain in his temple. Rubbing the sides of his head helps a little, but it isn’t enough. Slowly, Harry moves into a sitting position, the room spins as soon as he does. He leans against the tub and closes his eyes trying to remember what happened before he fell asleep.

A loud bang on the door makes him groan in pain. It slams against the wall and Emily appears in the doorway. She doesn’t look sorry for having made the noise, instead, she looks at him unimpressed.

“You need to go, mate. If my boyfriend finds you here, he’s going to have a fit and I don’t want to have to deal with that.”

Harry looks up at her, confused. “But I’m gay. Why would he have a fit?”

Emily shrugs. “Because he’s a man and men are stupid. Now come on.” She helps Harry stand to his feet, and he wobbles for a bit before he gains his balance.

“Thanks. Sorry for overstaying my welcome.”

“Don’t worry about it. You were in no condition to be anywhere alone. I’m surprised you even made it here unscathed in the state you were in. You were absolutely sloshed.”

“Shit, where’s my phone?” Harry looks around with no luck.

Emily holds it up and when she gets Harry’s attention, she tosses it at him. “It went off a few times. It woke me up.”

“Sorry.”

While Harry requests a Lyft to take him home, he swallows hard and the dryness in his throat gets overwhelming. “Do you mind if I have some water before I head out?”

Emily leads him to the kitchen where Harry chugs three glasses of water. Just as he is sufficiently quenched his ride arrives. Harry makes sure to have the pills he came here to get to begin with before he walks out the door.

Harry pockets his phone, deciding to check his messages later before leaning in to hug Emily. “Thanks again, Ems. You’re the best.”

The sun is way too bright for Harry’s taste and he doesn’t have his sunglasses so rides through the pain. He lets out a long exhale when he makes it home.

As soon as he crosses the threshold of his house, he checks his messages. His heart stutters in his chest when he sees they’re all from Louis.

Louis: Hey Haz. I miss you too xx

Louis: I’m so bored. I wish you were here.

Louis: I walked in on Niall shagging his boy toy, I need to bleach my eyes out.

Harry chuckles at the last one and responds with a laughing emoji. He misses Louis so much, he wishes he were there just sitting and admiring what he’s like. Harry could do that all day.

Well, technically he can do that. He has the time off to be able to travel wherever he pleases, and if he wants to see Louis, he can make it happen. So, he cancels the rest of his meetings planned for the next day and books the next flight out of town to see his boy.

**

A warm arm wrapping around Louis’ waist is what shakes him awake. He slowly turns his head, thinking Niall is in a cuddling mood, but Harry is the last person he expects to see in his bed.

“Harry? How did you get in here?” Louis rasps, wiping at his eyes to make sure his sight isn’t playing tricks on him.

Harry smiles. “Niall let me in. I hope you don’t mind?” His eyebrows furrow with worry and Louis immediately moves to smooth it out.

“I don’t mind at all. I’m glad you’re here,” Louis tells him before kissing him. It goes from soft and chaste to hungry and needy fast, and before they know it, they’re rutting against each other like hormonal teenagers coming fast with their clothes still on.

“That was embarrassingly fast,” Harry pants as he rolls off Louis to lay next to him. They both giggle as Louis cuddles him from behind. He loves having Harry like this, in his arms all warm and pliant. Louis wants to have him this way every day.

“It was. But only because we missed each other so much.”

Harry hums in agreement. They fall asleep in each other’s arms and when Louis wakes up again, it’s nearly noon. He moves aside so he can stretch his arms and legs, his back cracks in a satisfying way. Harry looks to still be sound asleep, so Louis gently rolls out of bed and leaves him in the bedroom while he prepares something for them to eat.

Now, Louis isn’t much of a cook, but since Harry went through all this trouble to travel to be here with him, he’s going to try and make some food. He rummages through the cabinets to see what his options are. There isn’t much, it’s Niall’s turn to do the shopping and he obviously hasn’t gone. Thankfully he finds some eggs and sausage and decides that will have to do because he doesn’t want to leave his flat to buy anything.

Louis gets to work by turning on the hob and heating up the pan. He looks up videos on YouTube to make sure he gets the scrambled eggs right. They look pretty decent if he does say so himself, at least he didn’t burn them, so he considers that a win.

Louis’ phone chimes with a text from Niall letting him know to take the night off since Harry’s visiting and Louis could kiss his roommate. He’d been working some shifts at the club while he tries to figure shit out, but now that Harry is here, Louis doesn’t think he needs to figure anything else out.

The time he and Harry spent apart, even though it was only just a few days, felt eternal and Louis doesn’t want to have to go through that again. As nervous as just the thought of performing in front of thousands of people makes him, Harry is giving him a once in a lifetime opportunity that Louis would be mad to pass up. Louis had phoned his mum as soon as he’d arrived back home and she was nothing but supportive, telling him that he shouldn’t let this opportunity go to waste. If there’s one thing Louis has learned in his life is that his mum is always right, and he can’t not listen to her. This is his chance to have a future where he can take care of his mum and siblings for the rest of their lives. That’s incentive enough for Louis, with the bonus of getting to travel around the States with Harry.

“It smells amazing,” Harry’s voice makes Louis jump from where he’s getting the fixings for tea.

“Shit, you scared me. Sit down, breakfast is ready.”

“It’s noon, though.”

Louis rolls his eyes. “Okay, then lunch is ready. Just sit down.” Harry laughs and kisses Louis on the head before he takes a seat in their small kitchen table.

Louis sets the plate down in front of Harry and brings him his tea as well.

“Mmm, thanks love.” Harry takes a sip of his tea before tucking into his eggs.

Louis joins him and they eat while Harry tells Louis how boring it was to be back home and how much he missed him. Louis will never get tired of hearing Harry tell him he misses him.

“So, I’ve been thinking,” Louis begins. His elbows are on the table and he’s cradling his mug of tea with both hands while he stares at Harry.

Harry looks up from his plate waiting for Louis to continue.

“I decided to join you on tour in America,” Louis grins.

Harry’s face is comical with how wide he smiles, he almost knocks his tea over as he moves to stand to hug Louis.

“That’s great news, Louis. I can’t wait for the world to fall in love with you, like I…” Harry clears his throat. “It’s going to be great.”

Louis’ heart stops at Harry’s unfinished sentence. Could it be that he was about to say… no, Louis shakes those thoughts away. He’s being ridiculous if he thinks Harry Styles would fall for him. He focuses on Harry, on his gorgeous green eyes and beautiful smile that lights up every room he walks into. He thinks about how he’s about to embark on a great adventure with Harry and how he can’t wait for what’s in store for them.

Suddenly, Harry is carrying Louis out of the kitchen over his shoulder.

“Haz, put me down!” He tries to wriggle out of Harry’s arms, but if he moves any more, he’ll fall on his arse. Instead, he giggles.

Harry tosses him onto the bed, Louis falling on his back with a joyful laugh.

“We need to celebrate,” Harry says, taking off his shirt and joining Louis on the bed. If this is what the next few weeks on tour are going to be like, Louis has no problem with that.

**

Harry’s hands shake and he plays with the rings on his fingers to hide it. The driver pulls up to the driveway where Harry’s house comes into view and he can’t help but look over at Louis for signs of any kind of reaction. Louis doesn’t show anything, he still seems mesmerized by the palm trees they passed on their way here from the airport. There’s something about having Louis here, seeing where Harry lives that makes Harry feel uneasy and he doesn’t know why.

The driver parks in front of the entrance and helps them with their bags before Harry tips him generously and he drives away. Harry insists on carrying Louis’ suitcase as he leads them to the front door. He can’t help but feel self-conscious, that maybe Louis thinks Harry lives too extravagantly or something.

“Wow,” Louis breathes as they walk through the threshold of Harry’s home. His eyes roam every nook and cranny in sight. Harry follows him and observes him as he takes everything in. He gives him a short tour of the bed and bathrooms, the lounge and the pool and hot tub outside.

“It doesn’t look very homey because I don’t spend a lot of time here,” Harry explains, shrugging. “But help yourself to anything. I’m going to see if there’s anything we need from the shops so I can get it delivered.”

Louis makes himself comfortable on the sectional in the lounge, resting his head against the cushions. “We can go to the shops ourselves Haz.”

“I’d rather not,” Harry joins Louis on the sectional. “There’s probably a lot of people out and about right now, and I’m not in the mood to sign autographs or take pictures.”

Louis nods as understanding colours his features. “Right.”

Silence falls between them and Harry is unsure of what to do. It’s not that he’s never had people over, but he hasn’t had someone he’s actively interested in inside his house. He’s a bit out of his element and he hopes it doesn’t show.

“You okay?” Maybe it does show after all.

“I’m fine. Sorry, just weird having you here.” Louis looks a bit hurt and Harry reaches to touch his knee. “No! Not like that. I like having you here, it’s just not something I’m used to.”

Louis’ face softens, smirking as he crawls towards him until he settles on top of Harry’s lap with one knee on each side of him. He wraps his arms around Harry’s neck and leans in to kiss him softly.

“Let’s get you used to my presence then,” Louis kisses him again. “Don’t care how long it takes.” Another kiss. “We’ve got all night.” He seals his words by licking into Harry’s mouth, nibbling on his lip making Harry groan. His hands fly to rest on Louis’ hips, revelling in the taste and warmth that envelops him with each passing moment.

The uneasiness melts away with each kiss and touch of Louis’ skin Harry gets to have. He gets lost in the feeling of having Louis beneath him as he takes his time stretching him out finger by finger. His thrusts are slow, making sure to feel every inch of Louis he can, not wanting anything else but this, right here, for the rest of his life. The thought alone seems scary, but Harry finds that he isn’t afraid. For the first time in ages, Harry isn’t scared of love. He’s willing to fall into the abyss and see what’s in store for him.

Harry comes the moment he realizes this. He leans down to capture Louis’ lips, getting every taste of him he can get. He leans back and stares into Louis’ eyes, taking in his beauty. Even flushed and sweaty, he looks breathtaking and Harry wonders how he ever got so damn lucky. He almost wants to say it, just throw caution to the wind and tell Louis he loves him, but he doesn’t. Louis deserves to hear it somewhere special, somewhere that will be unforgettable. Harry will wait for the right time to do it. Just because he isn’t saying it now doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel it.

They lay together on the couch, Harry wrapped in Louis’ arms as they come down from their orgasms. With Louis here, Harry finds that he doesn’t mind being home so much because suddenly he doesn’t feel so alone anymore.

They spend the rest of the week in domestic bliss. Harry cooks for them every day while they spend their afternoons lounging in the pool or kicking the football around in the garden. They watch films and Louis goes through Harry’s vinyl collection, playing some of his favourites while he reads a book or writes songs. Harry has caught himself multiple times just staring as Louis sits on the bay window seat jotting things down in his notebook deep in concentration. If Louis notices he never says anything about it.

Harry’s favourite has been the moments they’ve spent in Harry’s small studio in the basement together. Harry shows Louis the songs he’s recorded and hasn’t released while Louis plays around with the equipment, even going into the booth and singing bits and pieces of his own songs.

“We should prepare a few songs together for the tour,” Harry brings up one evening as they eat dinner in the lounge while they watch Stranger Things.

Louis stops what he’s doing, looking over at Harry. “What do you mean?”

Harry puts his plate down on the coffee table to face Louis. “I mean like we should polish up ‘Ready to Run’ and also work on a few other songs of yours to have ready for you to perform in front of everyone.”

Louis doesn’t say anything for a while and Harry lets him take all the time he needs to think about what he just suggested. He knows Louis still might not be completely ready to sing his own music in front of thousands of people every night, but he hopes he’ll at least consider it.

“Alright. Yeah, you’re right,” Louis finally says, and Harry lets out a breath. “I’ve actually got a couple of songs in mind.”

“Really? Let’s finish eating and then I want to hear them.” Harry grins and Louis returns it.

And that’s what they do. They spend hours each day going over lyrics, melodies and eventually recording demos of the songs. Harry makes sure to save the demos to take them on tour just in case. They also end up perfecting “Ready to Run” and Harry loves it even more now that it’s all polished up with their harmonies.

The night before the first show in Los Angeles, Harry wakes up in the middle of the night to go for a wee and notices Louis’ side of the bed empty. Harry finds Louis sitting on the bay window seat staring out at the sky, his legs folded against his chest and his fingers tapping against his knees.

“You alright?” Harry whispers but still manages to startle Louis.

Louis gazes at Harry with a smile that doesn’t reach his eyes. “I’m fine. Just nervous.”

Harry settles behind Louis, pulling him closer and resting his chin on Louis’ shoulder.

“Everyone’s going to love you, Lou. Soon everyone will see how amazing you are.”

Louis leans into Harry’s touch putting his hands over Harry’s.

“Even if people end up hating me, I’ll still consider myself the luckiest person in the world because I’ve got you.” Louis murmurs.

Harry tightens his hold around Louis, nuzzling his nose into Louis’ hair, taking him in. He kisses him on top of his head and caresses him right above his belly button.

“I’m the lucky one.”

**

The next morning, Louis wakes up to the delicious scent of breakfast. He smiles as he stretches his limbs and rolls out of bed to see what Harry’s made. There’s a full fry up already waiting for him with a steaming cup of tea just how he likes it. Louis kisses Harry and thanks him and they eat breakfast in comfortable silence.

They take a shower together; which Louis isn’t sure if it’s a good idea at first. When Harry gets on his knees after they wash up Louis decides that it is if the way his body relaxes after coming in Harry’s mouth is anything to go by.

Paul picks them up when they’re finished getting ready and packing the rest of their stuff. They load up the car and head over to the venue. Harry takes Louis’ hand in his, interlacing their fingers together and he’s grateful for it because it grounds him from his nervous thoughts. When they arrive, they’re escorted inside of the arena. There’s a band on stage doing soundcheck and Louis is awestruck. The stage somehow seems so much bigger than the last time Louis performed with Harry, but it might just be his apprehension trying to get the best of him. His eyes travel around the venue, taking it all in. He still can’t believe this is his real life.

Harry’s arm comes up to rest on his shoulder and kisses Louis on the cheek.

“Come on, I’ll show you around backstage.”

Harry introduces Louis to every person they come across. Louis tries to remember everyone’s name but knows it’s going to take him a few times before he memorizes them. Mark, Harry’s personal trainer, comes by to get him for their session not long after their small tour is over. Harry excuses himself promising not to take long and leaving Louis behind.

Louis doesn’t spend much time alone before Harry’s stylist comes in the dressing room.

“Hey, Louis. I’ve got some outfits I want you to try on to see what you want to go with for tonight.” Louis puts his book away and lets Brittany— he thinks that’s what Harry said her name was— lead the way.

“I wasn’t sure what kind of style you wanted to go with, so I got a bit of everything,” she explains as they walk into a room with racks and racks of clothing.

Louis looks through all the different items not knowing where to even begin. Brittany seems to sense Louis’ discomfort.

“How about I pick some things out and we can start from there?” She offers.

Louis nods, letting out a relieved breath. “I’d love that. Thank you.”

Brittany goes through the racks, taking out different items. She hardly looks at them, as if she already has every garment memorized. She hands them to Louis with a satisfied smile.

“Let’s start with this outfit.”

Louis looks around the room and finds that there isn’t any kind of dressing room. When he looks back at Brittany she laughs.

“Sorry mate. You’ll just have to strip down and try them on here.”

Louis blushes, feeling like an idiot for being so nervous. “Right.”

He puts the items Brittany gave him on an empty chair nearby before taking off his trackies and t-shirt. Louis takes the hanger out of the skinny jeans she picked out, they look so small like a pair of tights. He doesn’t question Brittany’s ability to pick out an outfit though, she’s a professional for God’s sake.

The jeans are even tighter than he’d imagined, and he struggles a bit to pull them all the way up. By the time he’s got them zipped up he’s out of breath, and maybe even breaking a bit of a sweat. He stands in front of a full-size mirror and Louis must admit that his legs look amazing. The jeans look like they’re painted on him and his arse looks great if he does say so himself. The shirt Brittany had given him doesn’t quite work as it fits way too big, so they go through a few other wardrobe changes.

Ultimately, they decide on the first pair of jeans and a scooped neck blue shirt that shows his collarbones. Louis changes back into the clothes he originally came in, handing Brittany the outfit they decided on. She informs him what time he should be back to get his hair and makeup done before he’s dismissed.

Louis explores the facilities on his own for a while, still taking everything in. It’s like he’s dreaming, about to wake up any second. He finds the loo and goes for a wee before sneaking outside to get some fresh air and smoke a cigarette. He’s been cutting back a lot, but he’s so overwhelmed that a fag will calm him down greatly. When he’s done, he puts the cigarette out on the ground with his foot then finds his way back inside.

Harry is pacing back and forth in his dressing room when Louis gets there, his head snapping up to Louis as soon as he enters the room.

Harry is covered in a sheen of sweat, his hair is in a bun with small tendrils of hair sticking out everywhere. His cheeks are flushed and so gorgeous. Louis’ mouth goes dry at the sight.

“Hey, love. Have a good workout?” Louis approaches Harry, leaning in to plant a kiss on his lips.

Harry visibly relaxes going languid under Louis’ touch.

“It was okay. I was wondering where you’d run off to,” he mutters leaning back to gaze at Louis.

“I was going through outfits with Brittany then went out for a smoke,” Louis explains. He settles onto the couch resting his feet against the coffee table and making himself comfortable.

Harry follows him and sits right next to him, resting his head on Louis’ shoulder.

“Did you guys settle on an outfit for tonight?”

“Mmhm. Wait until you see it Haz. You’re going to love it.”

“I can’t wait.”

They rest for a bit while Harry tells Louis about his workout and how he and Mark did some boxing and made him run up and down the steps of the arena. Louis doesn’t know how Harry is able to do all that and not be passed out on the floor somewhere and he tells him as much.

Harry chuckles. “With all the running around I do on stage I have to build some endurance or else I’d be passing out in front of thousands of people every night. We can’t have that. The tabloids would have a field day with it.”

“I guess not.”

Eventually, Liam comes by to tell them they should start getting ready. Harry somehow convinces Louis to take a shower with him. Louis tries to refuse at first, being around so many people he doesn’t want to risk being walked in on, but he ends up giving in. Harry’s pout has some sort of power that makes Louis want to give him whatever he wants.

Louis should have known better when the shower turns into Harry getting them off together, both of their cocks in his hand while they snog each other senseless. If it hadn’t been for Harry holding him, Louis swears his legs would have given out when they both come at the same time. They take a moment to let their breaths normalize before they finish washing up as if nothing happened. Louis feels calmer, more relaxed, so he can’t be too upset about what happened.

When they get back to the dressing room, Harry is whisked away by Brittany who reprimands him for not having seen her sooner because they apparently hadn’t settled on an outfit for tonight. Louis gets taken to hair and makeup. He remembers Krystal from the introductions earlier today and she gets to work on blow drying his hair. She styles his hair into a stylish quiff that makes Louis’ cheekbones stand out like no other.

Louis has never had his hair styled this way before and he finds that he likes it a lot. When Krystal finishes powdering his face and putting some tinted lip balm on his lips, she gestures for him to change into his outfit which is already laid out for him on one of the chairs.

Louis doesn’t waste any time. He doesn’t want to be the cause of any hold-ups. Things seem to be running like a race, and Louis doesn’t want to get in the way of any of it, so he puts his clothes on without protest. He looks at himself in the mirror with his whole outfit and hair done and he can’t help but smile. He looks like a proper artist, or at least he hopes he does.

A gasp coming from the other side of the room makes Louis turn around and he’s met by Harry’s green eyes and pink lips that are parted in awe. He’s changed into his own outfit, a blue striped shirt that’s’ only halfway done, revealing his swallow tattoos and cross necklace. He’s wearing similar jeans to Louis' and some sparkly silver boots with a small heel on them. He looks absolutely breathtaking.

“Hey. So, what do you think?” Louis extends his arms and does a full spin so that Harry can take in his outfit.

By the time he’s done his complete turn, Harry is a lot closer to him, just inches away. He visibly swallows hard as his eyes trail down Louis’ body. Harry leans in, his breath tickling Louis’ ear and making him shiver.

“You look so fucking hot Lou. If we weren’t about to go on stage, I’d be fucking you against that wall over there,” he whispers into Louis’ ear.

Now it’s Louis’ turn to swallow hard, his body trembling at Harry’s words. He bites his lip to keep himself from returning the dirty talk. It isn’t the time or the place and if they get going it will be even harder to stop and keep their hands to themselves.

Krystal thankfully breaks the sexual tension building between them by reprimanding Harry and making him sit down so she can fix his hair. Louis feels like he can breathe now that there’s more distance between them.

Louis checks his phone and he’s got a message from Niall wishing him good luck and others from family and friends with the same sentiment. He replies to all of them with a smile on his face that he can’t contain. Someone enters the room with a cocktail in their hand and a bottle in the other. They give the glass over to Harry, who takes it and wastes no time taking a sip as the guy places the bottle on the counter in front of him.

“Thank you, Carl, you’re a godsend.” The guy, Carl, blushes. Louis remembers Harry introducing him to Carl as his assistant or summat, but it doesn’t stop his insides from churning uneasily.

Harry looks over his shoulder with Krystal huffing in frustration that he’s moved his head. “Do you want anything to drink, Lou?”

A drink would help ease Louis’ nerves, but he doesn’t want to have to go for a wee in the middle of a performance so, ultimately, he decides against it.

“No thank you.”

Carl disappears after Harry tells him he doesn’t need anything else now. Louis can’t help but watch as Harry empties the contents of his cocktail and wastes no time in refilling it. He must get more nervous than Louis thought before shows. He supposes every artist has their own pre-show ritual and having a few glasses of alcohol must be part of Harry’s.

Louis shoves the uneasiness building in the pit of his stomach and focuses on trying to calm his nerves for the night ahead of them.

Chapter Text

“You don’t need another human being to make your life complete, but let’s be honest. Having your wounds kissed by someone who doesn’t see them as disasters in your soul but cracks to put their love into is the most calming thing in this world.”

-Emery Allen

 

Harry can’t get enough of watching Louis’ reaction to everything they experience from the moment they arrived at the venue. There’s a light in his eyes that reminds Harry of a time when he used to have that same sparkle when he was just starting out. Harry doesn’t want that to ever go away for Louis like it did for him, and he vows to try and keep it for as long as he can. Louis excuses himself to go out for a smoke as Krystal is finishing up with Harry’s hair. He makes sure to kiss Harry on the cheek before he leaves, making his cheek heat up on the spot where Louis kissed it. 

“He’s wonderful,” Krystal’s voice brings Harry back to earth. “Are you two a thing?”

Harry blushes before she can finish her question. He’s never been subtle about keeping things from people. He and Louis never officially put a title on what they have, but it’s sort of like they have a mutual understanding. Plus, Harry doesn’t want anyone else. He never felt this strong attraction toward someone until Louis came along. He tells Krystal as much.

“I’ve never seen you like this. It’s nice.”

Harry chugs the rest of the gin in his glass instead of responding.

Harry has two opening acts, both of whose music he’s a fan of. He and Louis sneak off to the side of the stage to watch the performances. Harry spends most of his time watching Louis instead of the show and he isn’t ashamed of it either when he’s caught staring.

“What?” Louis’ got a grin that can light up the entire arena, he’s so beautiful.

Harry, suddenly shy, looks down at his feet before looking back up. “Nothing. You’re just very pretty.”

Louis slaps his arm playfully, his cheeks going full pink before he shifts his attention back to the show.

Liam approaches them when the second act is getting ready to play their last song.

“Harry, you’re up next. You’ve got to get hooked up.”

Harry reluctantly follows Liam, not asking Louis to come with him so that he can enjoy the rest of the performance. He goes backstage and lets his people go through their pre-show routine. He gets his in-ears strapped on and he’s handed his guitar. Harry double checks to make sure it’s tuned, and it is. He hands the guitar over to Carl.

“I’ll be right back.”

Harry steps away from the small crowd of people from his team and locks himself in his dressing room. He licks his lips and roams around the room to look for his pills. He finds them stashed in one of his bags and takes a couple, not bothering to snort them this time. He hopes all his nerves and anxiety start to become numb soon from the medication and he lets out a deep breath before going back to join his team.

Louis is there and he visibly relaxes when he sees Harry. “You ready?”

Harry runs a hand through his hair, hoping not to mess it up too much or else Krystal will have his head. He’s more excited than he’s been to perform in a while, and he’s sure Louis has everything to do with it. This time, Harry isn’t bothered by the loud cheers of the crowd as the countdown begins.

He pulls Louis towards him, placing a soft kiss on his lips. “I’ll see you out there, baby. You’re going to be amazing. Can’t wait for everyone to fall in love with you.” Like I already am, he doesn’t say out loud.

Louis smiles at him, returning the kiss and wrapping his arms around him.

“Go get ‘em.”

Harry takes his spot on the stage, holding his guitar and starting to strum the first few notes of his opening song and the audience goes wild.

Harry shoots glances at Louis from time to time, grinning every time they make eye contact. He winks at him a few times to make him blush and he succeeds. He can’t wait to get through a few more songs and have Louis up here next to him, where he belongs.

“As some of you may know, there’s a new song I’ve added to the setlist a couple of weeks ago. It was written by one of the loveliest people I know, and I want you all to give him a warm welcome as he joins me on stage to perform it for you.” The crowd cheers. “Everyone give it up for Louis Tomlinson!”

The audience gets even louder, the roars near deafening. Harry looks over his shoulder and watches Louis approach the stage. He looks a lot more confident than he did when they first did this, but he can still sense the nervous tension in his shoulders. Harry gestures for the microphone stand next to him and Louis stands behind it. He wraps an arm around his shoulders, nuzzling into his hair for good luck before resuming his spot on stage.

“This song is called Ready to Run.”

The lights go down with only a blue and green spotlight illuminating them on stage. Harry opens the verse, just how he did the first time they performed this, the lyrics slipping out of his lips with ease. He glances at Louis who is gazing at him, his eyes crinkling at the corners. Harry’s fingers move fluidly through the strings of his guitar. As he looks out at the crowd, it’s illuminated by lights coming from the fans’ phones, a sight that never ceases to take Harry’s breath away. He turns to Louis, his face illuminated like the moonlight reflecting against his skin. They sing toward each other, and it comes out so easily like they’ve been singing together all their lives.

They sing the last line of the song and there’s a split second of silence from the last lyric to when the crowd completely loses it. The crowd roars so loudly Harry’s ears ring even with his in-ears. He turns his head toward Louis who is already staring at him with the widest grin he’s ever seen on him. Harry removes the guitar from his body, handing it distractedly to one of the people from his crew before he surges towards Louis, wrapping his arms around him in one swift motion. Harry’s face burrows into Louis’ neck, it smells like sweat and Louis and he wants to be nestled in here always.

“You did amazing, baby,” Harry murmurs against Louis’ skin. He isn’t sure Louis hears him, but he shivers at the vibrations of Harry’s voice. Harry pulls back and kisses him on top of his head before they both face the crowd again. Harry gestures to Louis, taking his hand and raising their intertwined fingers up in the air, making the crowd get louder.

Having Louis here next to him makes Harry’s anxieties about performing melt away. He feels on top of the world again, like he can do anything.

Louis eventually must leave the stage, leaving Harry to finish up the rest of the show. For the first time in a long time, Harry gives his all to every one of his songs. It probably has to do with the fact that Louis is watching that makes him want to give his best performance. Whatever it is, the crowd is eating it up.

**

Being on tour with Harry Styles is one of the best things that’s ever happened to Louis. Not only does he get to perform with Harry in front of thousands of people every night, but he also gets to go on the most amazing adventures.

Harry takes Louis to see the Space Needle in Seattle, then takes him to a romantic dinner with the most breathtaking view of the city. They visit the Grand Canyon where Louis learns that Harry has a knack for photography because he wants to stop and capture every moment of their tour. They see the arch in St. Louis where Harry keeps calling it “St. Louie” and giggling like a child. Louis rolls his eyes fondly, but he secretly loves it. They take selfies with the arch as their background before they take the ride through it, Harry holding Louis’ hand so tight he’s sure he’s lost circulation.

They’ve just landed at Chicago’s O’Hare airport, and they’ve already got a driver waiting for them ready to take them to their hotel. Louis is exhausted, all the traveling finally catching up to him. Not only does he get to perform with Harry every night, but Harry makes sure they explore the city insisting that Louis take advantage of their trip. At night after every show, there’s always a party to attend. Whether it be one in someone’s tour bus or Harry hosting one in their hotel room, the parties don’t end. Louis doesn’t think he has the energy for any more.

Louis is nudged and his eyes flutter open, not realizing that he’d fallen asleep on Harry’s shoulder. Louis sits up, rubbing at his eyes and smiling at Harry.

“Sorry.”

Harry places a hand on his knee. “No need to apologise love. We’re at the hotel, come on let’s get you to bed. We’ve got a big day tomorrow.”

Louis almost groans but instead he lets Harry guide him to their hotel room. Harry insisted that they travel to Chicago a day early so that they can really get to explore the city. Harry wants to take Louis to all his favourite places because Chicago is one of his most beloved cities. Louis has never been, but he couldn’t stop taking pictures of the skyline as they were getting ready to land, the view looking unbelievable with the clouds creating a beautiful backdrop.

When they get to their room, Harry helps Louis get his shoes off before kissing him softly on the lips and tucking him into bed. Louis is out like a light the moment his head hits the pillow.

A sniffing noise disrupts Louis’ sleep and he blearily opens his eyes. He sees the time on the alarm clock resting on the nightstand. It’s 2 in the morning. Louis rolls over on the bed and he sees Harry sitting on the couch in front of the coffee table. He’s messing with something on the table, like gathering dust or something. When he seems content with how he’s arranged whatever is on the table, he leans down and snorts and oh. It isn’t dust that Harry was messing with on the table. Louis lays stunned as he continues to watch Harry.

Harry hasn’t realized that Louis has woken up, instead, he’s wiping at his nose. He licks his finger and wipes it on the table before sucking on the remnants of the powder before reaching for his glass and taking a sip of his drink. Harry leans back, his head resting on the couch looking up at the ceiling or maybe at nothing at all. Louis thinks he might have fallen asleep, but then there’s a soft sob that comes out of Harry’s lips, making Louis’ heart break in half.

Louis wants to walk over to sit next to Harry and take him in his arms, but he feels like he’s intruding on something private, between Harry and whatever demon he’s facing. By now it might be too late to make it known that he’s awake and has just witnessed him snorting drugs.

Harry moves, making Louis instinctively close his eyes and attempt to breathe evenly, hoping that in Harry’s state he can’t tell that he’s awake. He can hear the ice clinking against the glass that was in Harry’s hand. There’s a bit of rustling before Harry climbs under the covers next to Louis. Louis squints, hoping it still looks like he’s got his eyes closed but wanting to take a closer look at Harry. He closes his eyes again not wanting to risk being caught. He feels Harry’s fingers caressing his hair and it sends shivers through Louis’ body.

Harry sniffles before Louis feels his lips on his cheek, leaving a wetness behind on his skin. Louis wonders if they’re tears. His throat tightens, and he wills his body to go back to sleep, wanting nothing more than to bury the memory of a sad Harry Styles.

Louis is surprised to find Harry’s side of the bed empty when his alarm blares at 8 in the morning. When he looks around, he sees Harry setting up their table with the room service that must have just arrived. He’s placing a cup of tea on the table when he notices Louis’ awake and his face brightens.

“Good morning, love. Come have some tea. We’ve got a lot to explore today.”

Louis finds that the spark in Harry’s eyes is there as if last night never happened. Louis wonders if it was all a dream. He forces himself to get out of bed and joins Harry as they have tea and breakfast by the window overlooking the Chicago skyline. Louis can’t stop staring at the view, the busy city alive and bustling below them.

“So where are we going today?” Louis takes a sip of his hot tea and it’s just how he likes it. He hums in appreciation.

Harry takes a bite of his waffles, his cheeks full of food as he chews loudly, making him look ridiculous and endearing at the same time.

“Well, I was thinking we can do some shopping down Michigan Avenue. We can also go to Buckingham Fountain, Navy Pier, and the Skydeck at the Willis Tower. Oh, and you have to try Chicago’s famous deep-dish pizza so we’re having that for lunch. The rest, you’ll have to wait and see.” Harry grins cheekily and takes a sip of tea.

Louis rolls his eyes fondly. “Fine. Deep dish pizza? What is that, like pizza on a deep dish?”

Harry chuckles. “It’s thick and delicious.”

“I know something else that’s thick and delicious,” Louis quirks his eyebrow at Harry.

Harry visibly flushes. “Get your mind out of the gutter. There’s no time for that, we need to get ready.”

Louis pouts, making sure to stick out his bottom lip as much as possible. “You won’t even join me in the shower?” He blinks slowly a few times for effect.

Harry’s resolve crumbles right away. He wipes his hands off before standing up rounding the table to Louis’ side. He lifts Louis over his shoulder without warning and Louis can’t help the yelp he lets out at the movement.

“Come on then. There’s no time to waste!”

Louis is falling in love with an absolute idiot.

**

They land in New York and Harry can’t take his eyes off Louis. It’s been a lot of fun to see his reactions every time they visit places he’s never been to. He’s like a kid in a sweet shop, taking everything in with wide eyes. Harry has loved taking Louis out to explore every city they visit, wanting to make the best memories out of every stop. So far there doesn’t seem to be a single place Louis hasn’t loved.

New York isn’t any different. Harry lets Louis take the window seat on every flight they’ve been on so he can admire the view when they land. Louis takes pictures of the Empire State Building with his phone and shows Harry every shot with excitement. It’s almost contagious.

The concert isn’t until tomorrow, so they have the rest of today to relax and take in their surroundings. They check into the Plaza Hotel and settle into their room.

“This room is bigger than my flat,” Louis says, admiring every nook and cranny of the suite. He stops by the window, the perfect view of the New York skyline right in front of them.

Because New York is considered a high-profile city and he’s playing Madison Square Garden, Harry has some radio interviews scheduled throughout the day. He wishes he could cancel so he could spend it with Louis, but there’s no way he can get out of them. Harry planned ahead for this to make sure Louis isn’t stuck by himself twiddling his thumbs.

“Why don’t you hop in the shower and get ready? I have a surprise for you.” Harry announces to Louis who is still examining everything in their room.

Louis’ eyebrows wrinkle in confusion. “What have you got up your sleeve, Haz?”

Harry shrugs. “You’ll have to wait and see.”

When Louis is in the shower, he gets a text from Paul letting him know he’s on his way. Harry makes sure with the hotel that everything is settled and waits patiently on the bed for Louis to finish.

It takes all the strength he can muster to not jump on Louis as soon as he steps out of the bathroom. His skin glistens with water and he’s got nothing but a towel wrapped around his waist. Harry’s mouth waters at the sight of him and he sighs, cursing his past self for having agreed to do these interviews. He’s almost tempted to say to hell with it and cancel, his reputation be damned, but he hates making people’s jobs difficult. Bailing out at the last second will no doubt cause others many headaches and he doesn’t want to be the cause.

“You look lovely, baby.” Harry rasps when Louis finally manages to put some clothes on. Harry could bet that he’d been planning to seduce Harry into staying, but maybe Louis noticed his own internal struggle.

“Thanks. So, what am I going to do while you’re out all day doing interviews?” Louis asks.

They’d talked about it in passing, but Harry never voiced the idea he had in case he wasn’t able to make it happen.

“Come here.” Harry waves Louis closer, holding his hands when he’s near him. He tugs him along, out of their room and down the hall to another room a few doors down.

Harry knocks and they wait. His heart pounds against his chest nervous about Louis’ reaction. The door opens, revealing Louis’ mum and two of his sisters.

“Oh my God!” Louis yelps, jumping into his mum’s arms. Harry steps back a little to let them have their moment. It’s been a few weeks that they’ve been in the States on tour, and Louis has never complained about being homesick, but Harry hasn’t missed the phone calls he has with his mum or the smile he gets when he receives a text from his family.

“You did this?” Louis looks over his shoulder, his eyes shiny with tears.

Harry blushes and shrugs. “You’re playing Madison Square Garden, I thought it would be nice to have your family here for support.”

Louis pulls away from his sister to wrap his arms around Harry. He kisses him on the cheek and whispers into his ear. “Thank you so much.”

Harry tightens his embrace and nuzzles into Louis’ neck. “Anything for you, love.” And he means it.

Louis wipes at his eyes when they let go, his smile is blinding.

“Niall is also on his way,” Harry checks the time. “His flight should be landing. Paul is going to pick him up and bring him back here. Paul is going to stick around and take you guys wherever you want. Go and explore the sights and have dinner. It’s my treat.”

“You don’t have to go through all this trouble dear. You’ve already done so much,” Jay speaks up.

Harry waves her off. “It’s my pleasure, Mrs. Tomlinson.”

“Please, call me Jay.” Jay embraces Harry in a hug. “Thank you for looking out for my son.”

Harry smiles. “Oh, trust me. He’s the one that’s been looking after me. I don’t know what I’d do without him.”

Louis briefly introduces Harry to his sisters Lottie and Fizzy before he’s called by Liam that they’re waiting for him downstairs.

“I’m so sorry to have to cut this short, but my manager is waiting for me. It was so nice to meet you all. I’ll see you guys at the show tomorrow.” Harry hugs them, leaving the last hug for Louis. He kisses him on the cheek. “Have fun, love.”

With that, he leaves feeling like he’s leaving part of his heart behind as he walks away.

The green room is cold, sending a shiver through Harry. His leg bounces in place and his nails scratch at the denim on his thigh. His eyes scan the room and there’s no one in sight. His throat burns with a certain thirst he wants to quench, but he’s been trying to hold off.

A water bottle sits on the coffee table in front of him and the pills in his pocket make him itch where they rest against his leg. It can be quick, just taking some pills out, popping them into his mouth and gulping down the water. Easy, painless. Harry can hear the faint murmur of people talking outside of the room and if he wants to do this he has about a minute or so before someone undoubtedly walks in to let him know it’s time to go on air. Without hesitating any further, Harry fetches the packet from his pocket, drops some pills in his palm, not even bothering to count, just knowing it’s enough. He swallows the pills dry when they touch his tongue and he sips on the water.

That’s when Liam barges in, always looking like he’s in a hurry to get somewhere.

“They’re ready for you.” Harry doesn’t miss Liam’s weary stare, but he ignores it as he stands and follows him to where they wait for him.

Harry is lightheaded as he takes the steps toward the radio booth, his vision goes a bit blurry, so he rubs at his eyes to bring them back to focus.

Everything goes on autopilot after that. It’s like Harry’s stuck underwater, floating around wherever the waves will take him and he’s in for the ride. He can’t say what he’s asked and what words come out of his mouth if he’s honest. Whatever he manages to say people seem to find funny. Liam throws him concerned glances, but he continues to pretend he doesn’t see him. He focuses on the spark in his veins and getting through the rest of these interviews so he can get back to Louis.

**

“Are you happy, love?” His mum’s question catches him off guard, but she must have been waiting for them to be alone to ask.

Louis doesn’t answer right away, instead, he stirs the straw around the drink in front of him. They’re at a pub not far from the hotel. Niall and the girls are playing a game of pool across the room. They decided to come wind down after all the exploring they did today, visiting the Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building. After acting like proper tourists all day, they wanted to end the night with a nightcap.

“I am happy. Yes.” Louis doesn’t know why he feels like he’s lying to his mum. He is happy though. He’s traveling America next to Harry Styles. One of the most amazing and talented people he’s had the honor to get to know. It’s been weighing heavily on his chest lately that there’s something that isn’t quite right with Harry. The more the days pass the more his suspicions are confirmed, but Louis has been afraid to say the words out loud, afraid that if he did, it would become real.

His mum stares at him, her eyes dripping with a kind of worry that only a mother can have. Louis wishes he could voice his concerns, he knows he’ll feel better getting it off his chest, but it doesn’t feel right. Louis would feel like he’s betraying Harry by confiding in someone else about this issue, and he’d rather not say anything to anyone. At least not until he musters the courage to talk about it to Harry himself. If he ever does. Who knows, maybe Louis is just overreacting, and Harry is totally fine. Rockstars are known to party a lot, right?

“What aren’t you telling me?” His mum asks. Her eyes piercing through Louis.

Louis clears his throat, shaking his head. “Nothing, mum.”

“Louis.” She’s using that stern voice she always used to use when he was in trouble.

Louis sighs. “I think I’m falling in love with Harry.” It’s one of the other things that Louis has been keeping to himself, but it feels so damn good getting the words out.

His mum smiles. “Does he feel the same way about you?”

“I don’t know. He doesn’t even know about my feelings.” He admits.

“Are you going to tell him?”

Before Louis can come up with a response to that, Niall, Lottie, and Fizzy interrupt their conversation by joining them back at the table.

“Niall is a sore loser,” Lottie announces.

“Am not. You’re just a lot of cheaters,” Niall pouts.

Louis takes in the scene with some of the people he loves most and wishes Harry were with them.

As much as Louis loves being with his family, he’s happy to be back at the hotel, looking forward to seeing Harry and hearing all about how his day went. All of that gets thrown out the window when Louis sees a passed out Harry on their bed. His clothes and shoes are all still on and he’s snoring with his mouth wide open. Louis can’t help but smile at the sight, tempted to take a picture to keep with him whenever he needs a pick me up but decides better of it.

Instead, Louis moves to unbuckle Harry’s boots from his feet and lets them drop to the floor. He carefully removes his jeans but decides to leave his shirt on, not wanting to disturb him from his slumber. After he’s done, Louis gets rid of his own clothing and gets into something more comfortable. He lays in bed staring at Harry for who knows how long. He can’t stop staring at the way his eyes flutter every few minutes making him wonder what he’s dreaming about. It’s with the sound of Harry’s rhythmic snoring that Louis eventually falls asleep, excited about what the next day will bring at Madison Square Garden.

Soft lips against his lips are what wake Louis up the next morning. When his eyes flutter open, he’s met with a pair of familiar green eyes staring straight at him.

Harry grins, “Good morning, love.” He plants another kiss to his lips, and Louis hums into the warmth of it.

“Good morning.” Louis stretches his arms and legs, feeling a satisfying crack against his back.

“You excited for tonight?” Harry asks, handing Louis an already prepared cup of tea.

Louis sits up against the headboard, thanking Harry before taking a sip. “Mmm, this is delicious, thank you. And yes, I’m excited. How do you feel?”

Harry shrugs. “I’m fine. It’s not the first time I’ve done a show there. I’m more excited for you to be honest.”

Louis sets his tea on the nightstand before rolling on top of Harry and planting a kiss to his lips. He stares into his eyes, both exchanging something in their look that doesn’t need to be said out loud before going back in to lick into Harry’s mouth. Harry’s hands fall onto Louis’ arse, making him grind against him with the contact. They both groan at the delicious friction and it’s over for them after that. Clothes fly off, lube comes out and before they know it, Louis is sitting on Harry’s lap fucking himself on his cock.

“You’re so beautiful. I can’t believe I’m so lucky to have you like this,” Harry mumbles, taking Louis’ lips to his as he tightens his hold on his waist and fucks into him harder.

Louis moans, feeling it hitting his spot just right. He can’t believe his luck either, getting to have Harry, beautiful lovely Harry with the best cock Louis’ ever had.

They’re kissing again and Louis wraps his arms around Harry’s neck, panting into each other’s mouths.

“Are you gonna come for me, baby? Let me see you,” Harry breathes.

Louis bites at Harry’s lip before letting go and grinding faster, his hand flying down to his own cock to speed up the process. It only takes a few strokes before he’s painting both of their chests with come and Harry follows with his own orgasm. They fall on the bed side by side. Louis kisses Harry on his chest, working his way up to Harry’s lips. They stare at each other again, more intensely than last time and it suddenly feels like the perfect moment, one Louis can’t let pass.

“I love you, Harry.”

Although he almost whispers the words, they sound like he took a megaphone and shouted them out. Harry continues to stare for a moment, not saying anything just looking at Louis in earnest.

Harry pulls Louis into him, kissing him and wrapping him in his arms.

“I love you too, Louis. Have for a while now,” Harry admits with a smile on his face. Louis doesn’t think he’s ever seen Harry this genuinely happy. All the nerves Louis had melt away in that instant, knowing that he’s loved by Harry Styles.

**

Backstage is always madness but tonight it’s on steroids. There are crew members coming in and out running like headless chickens. Louis’ family and Niall are hanging out backstage with Louis while Harry gets his workout in.

After his shower is when the famous people begin to trickle in to say hello. It begins with Chris Martin stopping by to say hi to Harry. Harry introduces him to Louis who’s wide-eyed and slack-jawed but manages to say hello somehow coherently while they shake hands.

“You’re friends with Chris Martin?” Louis whisper-shouts after Chris excuses himself and leaves.

Harry laughs. “Yeah? It’s just Chris, we hang out sometimes when I have some down time.” Louis playfully slaps him on the arm.

David Beckham also comes by and Harry swears Louis is going to faint. It’s entertaining to watch him trying to keep his shit together and he manages to ask for a picture, which Harry gladly takes for him.

“Have a good show, mate,” David tells Harry and Louis patting Louis on the shoulder. Harry wraps his arm around Louis’ waist to keep him standing.

“Thank you. See you at the after party?” Harry asks.

“Definitely. See ya lads.”

“OH MY GOD!” Louis shouts as soon as David is out the door.

Carl catches his attention before he can begin teasing Louis. “Excuse me.”

They leave the crowded area and move to a more secluded one and Carl hands Harry a packet and his gin.

“Thank you,” Harry says before stuffing the packet of pills in his back pocket and his assistant leaves. He’s able to find an empty single bathroom and locks it behind him.

Harry stares at his reflection in the mirror. The bags that usually rest under his eyes are covered by makeup, but he knows they’re there. They’ve become a permanent thing on his skin, and he hates it. He doesn’t like the dullness of his eyes or the pale look on his lips. He looks away to pull out the pills from his pocket and setting his drink by the faucet. Harry pops the lid open and empties a handful of pills onto the counter and crushes them, licking the residue off. He empties the white powder into his glass and stirs it with his finger.

Lifting his glass, he takes another look in the mirror toasting to his reflection before gulping down his drink. It tastes even more bitter with the drugs added to it, but it’s a temporary taste. When he’s washing his hands there’s a knock on the door.

“Haz, are you in there?” Louis’ voice is muffled.

Harry licks his lips and dries his hands with a paper towel before opening the door and pasting a smile on his face.

“Yeah, sorry love. Just had to go for a wee.”

Louis’ eyes study him for a moment, not seeming convinced but also not saying anything.

“They want us for a picture before we go on stage. I told Liam I’d come find you.”

“Let’s go then.”

**

The crowd is buzzing more than ever and Louis is on an ultimate high. He and Harry just finished singing “Ready to Run” and are walking backstage for a quick break. He doesn’t miss the way Harry’s assistant hands him a cocktail and he downs it in one go.

“I thought maybe tonight we could do something special,” Harry says interrupting Louis’ thoughts.

Louis wrinkles his forehead. “What are you on about?”

A sly smile appears on Harry’s face. He’s been a little out of it, his pupils wide. “I think tonight would be a great moment for you to perform ‘Just Hold On’, don’t you think?”

Louis’ heart begins to accelerate at the mere suggestion. “Wh-what?”

Harry’s grin only widens. “I already told the band about it and they’re going to play it next. This is your time to shine, Lou. Don’t let it go to waste.” Harry kisses him on the lips, “I love you., you can do this.”

Without another word, Harry walks back to the stage and takes one of the guitars and straps it to his chest. Louis grabs the nearest liquor bottle and takes a swig from the bottle, wincing at the bitter taste. He needs all the courage he can get.

Louis approaches the stage slowly, making sure this isn’t a dream. Harry looks on with pride.

“Everyone welcome Louis back to the stage. He has a special song for you guys tonight. Let’s show him some love,” Harry announces over the microphone.

The audience roars and there’s something about it that gives Louis the confidence he needs as he approaches the keyboard already waiting for him. Louis sits, his fingers hovering over the keys as he closes his eyes and takes a deep breath.

It’s now or never.

His fingers glide over the keys with practiced ease and the band accompanies him, taking his lead and he begins to sing.

“Wish that you could build a time machine, so you could see the things no one can see.”

The crowd calms down, listening to what Louis has to say.

“Feels like you’re standing on the edge, looking at the stars, wishing you were them.”

Louis lets go and lets the music speak. He gets lost in the words, the sound and the way it’s making him feel. By the time he plays the last note, there’s a second of complete silence before the audience breaks into applause.

“Louis! Louis! Louis!” They begin to chant.

Louis’ heart soars and he glances over at Harry who’s already looking his way with the biggest grin on his face, clapping his hands.

Everything is a blur after that. When the show is over, they’re escorted to a limo that takes them to a club that had been reserved ahead of time for the after-party. Friends and loved ones are already there waiting, and they clap and cheer when Harry and Louis walk through the door. They get lost in the sea of people, being embraced by every person they encounter. Louis doesn’t know where Harry ends up, but he doesn’t have time to find him because he’s being pulled in every direction.

Drinks are flowing and people are dancing, having a good time. A man Louis has seen around briefly a few times approaches him with a smirk. He lifts his hand in a toast before extending his unoccupied hand.

“Louis it’s nice to meet you, my name is Jeffrey Azoff. I work for Full Stop Management and I think you’re an amazing singer.”

Louis smiles politely, accepting the offered hand. “I know who you are. It’s nice to finally meet you.”

Having been on tour with Harry for a while, he’s heard about some of the people in the industry, including the Azoffs. They’re known as the assholes of the industry because they’ll do whatever it takes to get their artists to the top. Louis doesn’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing unless they do something illegal or something.

“I’d love to have a meeting with you about the possibility of representing you. I have a lot of connections to many labels that would love to work with you.” He pulls out a business card out of his jacket and hands it to him. “Give me a call and we’ll set something up.”

“Oh my god. Yes, thanks. I need to talk to Harry first.”

Jeff gives him a tight-lipped smile. “I think you can be a star, Louis. I hope you let me get you there.” Without another word, he turns to leave.

Giddy, Louis goes on a mission to find Harry. It’s been over an hour since he last saw him and it’s ridiculous, he knows, but he misses him. He finds Niall laughing with a group he’s never met.

“Hey Niall, have you seen Harry?”

Niall shakes his head. “Sorry, Louis. I haven’t.”

Louis continues walking around the dark club, running into people here and there. He finds Harry sitting with Nick Grimshaw and a couple of other men Louis has never met. There’s something about them that rubs him the wrong way and he doesn’t like it one bit.

When Harry notices Louis his eyes light up. “Louis! There you are! I was looking for you!” He raises his arms as if to show he’d been looking.

Louis tries his best not to roll his eyes. He obviously wasn’t looking very hard or got distracted by other things.

“Looks like you’re having fun.”

Harry moves to make room for him, shoving Nick away to make a space for Louis to sit. “Come sit with me. I missed you, baby.”

Louis sits next to Harry instantly catching a whiff of him. He smells like he drank the entire bar. Louis’ excitement is starting to turn into annoyance.

“Nick made me take a shot of Fireball. It burned my throat,” Harry shouts into his ear. Louis winces at the loudness of his voice but nods anyway.

Harry tries to offer him a shot, but Louis turns him down making him pout. Louis needs to start sobering up because Harry’s beyond pissed. He’ll have to talk to him about Jeff Azoff when he’s more coherent. With a sigh, he waves a waitress over and orders a bottle of water.

When Harry starts slowing down and looks like he’s about to pass out, Louis decides that’s their cue to start heading back to the hotel. He gets the attention of one of Harry’s security guys and he helps him get them back to their room.

Harry is useless by now, so it’s left up to Louis to get him to bed. When he’s taking Harry’s shoes off, Liam appears in the door, a tentative look on his face.

“Hey, Daniel told me Harry was passed out and I wanted to make sure he’s okay.” Liam walks in, taking in Harry’s appearance before meeting Louis’ eyes again.

Louis lets out a breath. “He’s fine just drank a bit too much.”

Liam helps Louis tuck Harry into bed. “You think he drinks a bit too much?” He stares at Louis to see his reaction. Before Louis can answer Liam interrupts him again. “This is nothing, comparing to other times. He’s actually improved a bit since he’s met you.”

Louis isn’t sure what to say to that. “That’s good I guess.”

Liam doesn’t say anything for a moment before breaking the silence again. “One thing’s for sure, though. I’ve never seen him play as well as he does since you came along.”

With that, Liam walks out of their room, shutting the door behind him. Louis sits on the bed and rests his head in his hands. He looks over his shoulder, taking in Harry’s appearance. His hair is sweat slicked and sticking out everywhere. He’s starting to snore louder now, and Louis watches him for a while before moving to get out of his clothes and into his trackies. He joins Harry in bed, feeling the warmth of him as soon as he gets under the covers. He lays staring at the ceiling until the rhythmic snores coming from Harry lull him to sleep.

For another day, he pushes his worries about Harry’s drinking to the back of his mind.

Chapter Text

“That’s all I want. Just you and me. Always.”

-Lauren Oliver, Delirium

 


Harry wakes up with one of the worst headaches he’s had in a while. He groans in pain and reaches for the provided glass of water and pills on the nightstand, chugging most of the liquid in one go. Louis isn’t in bed next to him and when he checks the time, he sees that it’s almost noon. He rolls out of bed, takes off his clothes from last night and has a shower to wash off last night’s activities. He tries to wrack his brain about the events after the show, but he can’t quite remember. There were shots had with Nick and some friends, and he tried looking for Louis at one point, but beyond that, he’s got no clue.

Once he’s clean and in more comfortable clothes he finds Louis in the lounge having tea and watching television.

“Good Morning,” Harry says going for his own cup of tea.

Louis sets his cup on the coffee table. “Morning, love. Sleep well?” His voice is airy and soft, Harry could listen to it all day.

Harry sits next to him on the couch, taking a sip of his tea. “Yeah, I think so.”

“Mum said to tell you thanks for flying them out here. They had an early flight this morning.” Louis tells him.

“Oh fuck. I’m sorry I didn’t get to say bye to them.” Louis’ hand comes to rest on his forearm and he squeezes softly.

“Don’t worry about it love.” He turns his head to look at the screen without another word. Harry doesn’t know if it’s him just imagining things, but something feels off. Louis doesn’t seem upset or anything, but there’s like a dullness there. Maybe it’s that he had to bid his family farewell.

“How was the rest of your night yesterday? Did you have fun?” Harry asks.

Louis laughs. “Yeah, it was good. I actually had someone approach me about representing me.”

Harry can tell how proud Louis is about this, he’s hardly able to contain his excitement. “Oh yeah? Who?”

“Jeff Azoff? Said he knows labels who’d love to sign me, wants to have a meeting.” Louis explains.

Harry’s never worked with Jeff or his management personally, but he’s heard things. He’s not sure how true they are, and he doesn’t want to ruin Louis’ hopes either by telling him about it.

“What is it?” Louis asks. And shit. Harry must have not been able to school his face into a neutral expression.

“Nothing, baby. I’m happy for you.” He pastes on a smile to try to prove his point.

Louis doesn’t seem completely convinced, but he smiles anyway.

After New York, they only have two more tour dates to go before the end. Louis has a meeting set up with Jeff right after the tour, so they make plans to fly back to Los Angeles together.

They’re laying in bed in Washington, D.C. winding down from the show when it occurs to Harry. He cranes his neck to gaze at Louis.

“You should move in with me when we go back to LA.”

Louis’ head snaps towards Harry, his eyes going wide. “What?”

Harry grins, the more he thinks about it the better the idea feels. “Move in with me. You’re going to be doing things in LA and I’m going to have some down time. It’d be perfect.” He twists his body so he’s facing Louis, resting his head on his hand to get a better look at him.

“I don’t know Harry. Don’t you think it’s a bit too soon for that?” He doesn’t miss the apprehension in Louis’ eyes.

Harry leans in to kiss him on the forehead. “Everything with you has been at a million miles an hour and so far, I don’t regret one bit of it. I know I won’t regret this either.” He says, staring into Louis’ eyes so he sees the sincerity in his eyes.

Louis examines Harry’s face before his own splits into a grin. “Okay, let’s do it. Let’s move in together.”

Their last show is in Boston, and they give it their all just like they have every show they’ve done. Louis continues performing “Just Hold On” since New York, and the audience loves it just like Harry knew they would. When the show ends, they hop on a flight straight to LA, not wanting to waste another day.

When they get to the house, it’s the same house Harry’s been living in whenever he’s in town, but it somehow feels different with Louis here. It’s like Louis has brought the light and life he exudes and spread it throughout the house.

Louis goes to his meeting with Full Stop Management, while Harry makes himself busy in the studio. He has a lot of leftover pent-up energy from tour and he’s got a few songs he’s written while on the road that he wants to play around with. Nothing really comes out of them yet. Harry mostly messed around his guitar and piano trying to find the perfect melody for the words he’d written in his journal.

He eventually gives up and instead goes for cooking up something nice for dinner, sure that Louis will be coming home with good news. Home. Who would have thought that having Louis here would make Harry feel more at home?

Since there isn’t much food in the fridge, he prepares to take a trip to the shops to get the things he needs. He’d normally hate going to the store on his own, not wanting to get seen by fans or paparazzi, but today he doesn’t care. All he wants to do is purchase the ingredients he needs to make one of Louis’ favourite meals. He might have even phoned Jay to make sure he’s got the recipe right.

Before heading out the door, Harry grabs his bottle of gin and makes himself a cocktail. He’s going to need it if he ends up running into anyone on his little trip. The burn down his throat is a welcomed one and he downs the rest of his drink in one go before grabbing his phone and keys.

**

Louis is on cloud nine after his meeting with Jeff. He’s already got some labels that are interested in offering him a deal after listening to his demo. He’s now in a Lyft on his way back to the house excited to tell Harry all about it.

As soon as he walks through the door his senses go into overdrive. There’s music blasting throughout the house and it smells amazing. Louis feels like he’s ended up at his mum’s house for a moment until he confirms that he is indeed still in Los Angeles.

“Haz?”

The music is so loud, Louis doubts Harry heard him, so he walks toward the kitchen where most of the noise is coming from. Harry’s back is to him and his swaying his hips, while he belts out “The Chain” with all his might.

“And if you don’t love me now…”

Louis drops his keys on the table and joins Harry. “You don’t love me now…”

Harry startles, turning around and grinning as soon as he sees Louis is singing along as well. They continue singing together.

“Chain keep us together!” Louis begins jumping around during that part. Harry shakes his head around, making his hair go into all sorts of directions.

By the time the song ends, they’re out of breath. Louis grabs a glass of water, chugging it before offering Harry some as well.

Once they’ve both calmed down, Louis asks. “What are you making?”

Harry’s grin returns, his dimples on full display. “Thought I’d make your favourite. Sunday roast.” He announces proudly.

Louis groans and wraps his arms around Harry almost making him lose his balance. He leans in to kiss him.

“Thank you, baby. I love it.”

Harry smiles, in that shy cute way he does. “It will be ready in a bit.”

“Need help setting up the table?”

“Sure.”

Louis gathers the plates, silverware, and glasses and sets them up on the dinner table. By the time he’s finished, the roast is done, and Harry brings it over.

“How was your meeting?” Harry cuts the meat and serves them on each plate.

“It was amazing, Haz. Jeff said Epic Records is ready to offer me a recording contract after listening to my demo. Jeff thinks I should wait and see if I get other offers and go from there. Either way, he’s fairly confident that I’ll be signed in no time.” Louis goes on and on about it and Harry listens, smiling and nodding along.

The roast is delicious, of course, and just how his mum cooks it. “How did you get it to taste like my mum’s?”

Harry’s cheeks flush and he shrugs. “I called her for the recipe. No big deal.”

Louis takes Harry’s hand and kisses it. “It means the world to me, love. Thank you.”

A few weeks later, Louis is signing a recording contract with Epic Records. They want him in the studio as soon as possible and Louis can’t wait to get started. To celebrate, Louis wants to do something for Harry to show him how grateful he is. If it weren’t for Harry believing in him from the beginning, Louis wouldn’t be here.

He has the Lyft drop him off by some shops to see if he could get Harry anything that will symbolise his gratitude. Louis goes to many stores, but nothing calls out to him. Nothing feels worthy enough for Harry, and just as he’s about to give up he walks by a pet shop. With a grin on his face, he walks through the door, knowing exactly what he’s going to get.

Harry is on the sofa messing around with his guitar when Louis gets home. He doesn’t seem to notice what Louis’ got in his arms until he hears the dog’s little whines. That’s when Harry looks up and his face softens when he looks at the little ball of fur.

“What’s this?”

“Meet the newest member of this house.” He puts the puppy in Harry’s arms after he’s set the guitar aside.

“Aren’t you a cutie?” Harry’s voice goes high in a way Louis’ never heard it. “What should we call you, huh?”

“He looks like a Clifford,” Louis points out, rubbing his fingers behind the dog’s ears.

“Clifford, huh? I like it.” Harry says, staring at the dog and nuzzling into his fur. “Hey Clifford,” he says in a high pitched voice. “Welcome home.”

A warm feeling settles into Louis’ chest. Home. They’re home.

Louis is practically living in the studio since signing his contract. He comes home late at night, often finding Harry and Clifford in bed sleeping hardly leaving any room for him. A part of Louis hates that he feels like he’s missing a lot, especially with Clifford being a puppy and growing so fast, but Harry’s been taking care of him.

The times Louis manages to make it home at a decent time he’ll find Harry out in the garden playing fetch with Clifford. It’s a lovely scene.

“I have an event in Las Vegas this weekend where my presence is needed. Do you want to come with me?” Harry asks Louis one night while they’re lounging around watching TV.

Louis glances at Harry and he’s looking at him with those hopeful green eyes. He almost agrees without thinking, until he realises that he can’t go.

“I’d love to come, but I can’t. We’re close to being finished with the album, and Jeff doesn’t want us to stop until we’re done.” Louis tells him. He can’t help the guilt that washes over him even though he knows he can’t help it.

Harry tries to school his face, but Louis doesn’t miss the disappointment in his eyes.

“Alright.”

“But I’ll see you at the iHeart Radio event the day you return, right? I’m gonna premiere my first single there,” Louis tries to change the subject, to get Harry looking happy again.

Harry smiles, but it doesn’t reach his eyes and nods. “Yeah, of course. I’ll be there.”

 

**

This is one of Harry’s first trips alone since he’s met Louis and he hates it. He misses Louis terribly like he’s missing a limb and isn’t quite complete. It’s ridiculous, he knows, but he still doesn’t like the way it makes him feel.

Harry sits in the green room, waiting for his time to perform. He’s here for the American Music Awards, and he’s going to perform next, but his nerves won’t let him concentrate. He pulls the bottle of pills from his pocket, empties some on the table, crushes, them, the usual. Once they’re in his system, some of that ache he’s been feeling since he’s landed begins to dissipate and he thinks he can get through his performance.

Harry’s floating on a cloud after that as he’s told he’s up next and prepares for his performance. Someone places the guitar on him, he doesn’t know who. Everything’s a blur. The applause sounds like ocean waves crashing into each other and Harry does his best to concentrate on getting through one song.

He’s not sure when his performance ends, just knows he’s being pulled off the stage and thrown into a car by Liam.

“Go get some sleep Haz. Your flight leaves first thing in the morning. Don’t embarrass yourself any more than you just did.”

Harry’s not sure what Liam means by that. He thought he did alright, but apparently not. Whatever. When the driver drops him off at the hotel, instead of going inside, Harry makes a right and walks. He’s not sure where he’s going, just knows that he doesn’t want to be here.

 

**

Louis’ got butterflies in his stomach that haven’t gone away since he woke up this morning. He can’t wait to perform and see what the fans think of his single. It’s weird that he’s not performing with Harry, and he looks around to see if he catches sight of him anywhere. Still nothing.

He’d texted him this morning when he hadn’t come home when he was supposed to but hasn’t heard anything back. Louis’ trying his best not to worry, but now he’s gone past that point. Before he can think about it anymore, he’s being called to the stage.

Louis performs “Back to You” for the first time in front of thousands of people. The iHeartRadio Music Festival is an event that contains performances by many artists and Jeff tells Louis he got lucky to have got a spot to have his debut. The original plan had been to have back up dancers, but Louis wasn’t feeling that at all, and at the last minute let them go, without telling Jeff. Louis knows he will most likely be unhappy about it, but lately, he’s been feeling like he’s got no control over any of the decisions pertaining to his career. He’s been afraid to mention it to Harry, not wanting to worry him or make him cause a problem with his management. But Louis is starting to think Jeff and the label don’t care what he thinks and are more interested in making the most money they can out of him.

So, this morning he decided to take some control and chose not to have dancers join him on his performance.

Louis can see the look on Jeff’s face as soon as the music begins and it’s just him and the band, but he pretends he doesn’t see it and continues performing. It’s been months since he’s been on stage in front of so many people and the rush of it is all comes back to him. The crowd claps and dances along to the music, which he takes as a good sign. When he sings the last lyric to the song, the audience breaks into a loud roar of applause.

“Thank you so much!”

When Louis runs backstage, there’s still no sign of Harry anywhere.

“Louis, can I have a word with you?” Jeff’s stern voice interrupts his worried thoughts.

Sure enough, he must sit through a lecture of why he should have let the backup dancers perform with him, saying that his performance was dull without them.

“The audience didn’t seem to think my performance was dull, Jeff.” Louis points out.

Jeff chuckles. “Who knows more about this me or you? Now, don’t let it happen again, Louis. I mean it.”

Louis rolls his eyes when Jeff walks away. He sees his new assistant, Molly. “Hey, have you seen Harry? Is he here?”

Molly’s face falls. “I’m sorry, I haven’t seen him.”

Louis goes back to the dressing room to get back into his normal clothes and when he sees his phone, he has a few missed calls from Liam. His stomach drops as he picks it up to read the messages.

Liam: Hey Louis, call me asap. I can’t find Harry.

**

Harry feels a nudge on his side, and he groans, opening his eyes. He covers them from the bright sun until they adjust to the light and notices Liam’s annoyed glare aimed at him.

“You wanker. Do you have any idea how long I’ve been trying to find you?”

Harry moans Liam’s voice is way too loud for the headache he’s harbouring.

“You could have died out here, you know?” Liam continues. And what is he talking about?

Harry studies his surroundings and shit. He’s laying in the middle of a grassy field somewhere. He’s lucky he didn’t get eaten by some wild animal or kidnapped.

“Fuck. I thought I’d made it back to my room, I guess I was way off.”

Liam crosses his arms. “Is that really all you have to say for yourself?”

Harry lets out a sigh. “I’m sorry Liam. Okay? What time’s our flight again?”

Liam scoffs. “Our flight left hours ago you twat. And you missed Louis’ show too.”

“Oh fuck.”

“Yeah. He should be here any minute now. You better get a shower and don’t let him see you like this.”

“You called him?” Harry whines.

“What else did you want me to do? I spent all night looking for you. He was my last resort before I called the police to file a missing person’s report.”

“Fuck! Okay, I’m sorry. Can you help me up?” Harry stretches his hand out and Liam reluctantly takes it and helps him to his feet. He wipes his hands on his legs, but it doesn’t do much. There’s dirt all over his clothes, he doesn’t want to see what he looks like in the mirror.

Turns out they’re just around the corner from the hotel, which Harry isn’t sure if it makes him feel better or worse. He doesn’t waste time getting into the shower, but when he’s out he finds Louis sitting on the bed.

Louis isn’t smiling. He seems relieved when he sees Harry with his own eyes before his face hardens into something else. Harry’s never seen him this way before, and he never wants to be the cause of it ever again. The disappointment drips out of him, and Harry doesn’t dare say anything. He sits next to Louis waiting for him to talk.

He hears Louis inhale and let the breath out slowly. “You know, I thought of so many things to say on my way here. And now, I can’t think of one.” His eyes drift to Harry, his face softening.

“I’m sorry.” He reaches out for Louis’ hand and he seems reluctant at first but then he gives in. It’s warm and soft. Harry squeezes and kisses it.

“Look, Harry. I love you so much. But I won’t do this again, you hear me?” Louis looks at Harry seriously and he’s already nodding.

“I feel like such a twat for making you and Liam worry. It won’t happen again,” he promises. He takes Louis’ face in his hands and pulls him into a kiss, savouring him and hoping Louis feels the sincerity of his statement.

When they pull away, Harry asks. “How was the show?”

Louis lights up, the crinkles in his eyes appearing in an instant.

“It was fucking incredible. I wish you would have been there,” he says.

Harry’s heart breaks. He needs to stop letting the people he loves down.

After getting dressed, they decide to stay in Las Vegas for the rest of the day since neither of them has anything going on for a couple of days. They go out to dinner with Liam as a way for Harry to make it up to him as well. Harry sits back and watches how well Louis and Liam get along as they’re lost in a conversation about comic book heroes. He can sit and listen to Louis talk all day, and the fact that he gets on so well with Liam who’s like a brother to Harry, it means everything to him.

Harry loves Louis so much, has had the most amazing half a year with him. He never wants to let him go, and he doesn’t plan to. Harry gets distracted from their conversation for a moment when a couple walks into the restaurant, giggling. The woman has a white snapback with a veil attached to it and she shows her ring finger to the hostess. That’s when an idea comes to Harry’s mind.

“Excuse me, I need to use the loo.” Harry walks to the bathroom and paces back and forth trying to think of a way for this to work. He washes his hands and it’s when he’s drying them in the air dryer that it hits him. He takes the ruby stoned ring he has on his finger and slides it out, before going back to their table.

Harry’s never been a patient person, he’s known for his spontaneity, and this isn’t any different. He approaches their table and when he gets to Louis, he drops on one knee.

Louis turns his head with scrunched eyebrows. “What are you doing down there?”

Harry takes Louis’ hand and slides his ring on the appropriate finger.

“Louis, I love you with all my heart. I’ve never been so sure about anything as I am about how I feel about you. Will you marry me?”

Louis and Liam both stare at him in shock. Louis’ eyes are wide, and his lips parted open.

“Are you being serious?” Louis’ voice is high, Harry would normally laugh if it were a different situation.

“I’ve never been more serious in my life.”

Louis’ face goes from surprised to bright and happy. “I’d love nothing more than to marry you.” He wraps his arms around Harry, and he lifts him up as he stands kissing him everywhere on his cheeks, forehead, nose, and lips.

“I love you, I love you,” he murmurs against Louis’ skin.

Louis giggles. “I love you too.”

They cause a bit of a scene, completely forgetting they were in public and people around them clap and cheer.

Liam looks at them with a smile. “Congratulations.”

Harry and Louis sit on their seats again, but he’s still buzzing with excitement.

“We should get married tonight,” Harry blurts out.

“What?” Liam and Louis ask at the same time.

“We’re in Las Vegas. Why don’t we just get married now? Like, today?”

Louis seems to consider Harry’s suggestion before he’s nodding. “Okay. Let’s get married today.”

They leave a generous tip and go to the shops to get what they need. There’s a Gucci store not far from the hotel and they’re able to purchase suits. Harry also buys Liam a suit, insisting the best man needs to look his best too.

Liam googles wedding chapels in the area and they’re able to find one that is available and looks decent. Harry’s heart thumps in his chest the closer they get, his hand gripping to Louis’ like a lifeline.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Louis turns to ask Harry when they’re in a Lyft on their way to the chapel. There’s an uncertainty in Louis’ voice that Harry wants to rectify immediately.

“I’m not leaving Las Vegas until you’re my husband, Louis Tomlinson.”

Louis blushes and Harry kisses him softly. He’s the luckiest guy in the world.

**

 

Harry and Louis are a mess of giggles as they approach their hotel room. Louis’ got his arms around Harry’s neck, his heart dropping every time Harry trips over himself, afraid he’ll be dropped. He struggles to get the keycard in the slot with Louis in his arms, but Harry refuses to put him down, insisting that he must be carried through the threshold. Louis stopped trying to fight it.

“Aha!” Harry shouts when the door finally unlocks and he’s able to twist the knob open.

“Please don’t drop me, Haz,” Louis whines again.

Harry plants a kiss on Louis’ lips. “I’ve got you, baby.” He takes a few steps inside and his face lights up. “There we go, carried inside for good luck.”

Louis rolls his eyes. “Can you put me down now?” Harry pouts, but relents, helping Louis to his feet. Louis kisses him. “Thank you.” The gesture makes Harry’s face soften.

Louis gasps as soon as he takes in their surroundings. “Haz, how did you?”

There are red and pink rose petals leading to the bedroom, unlit candles, a bottle of champagne chilling in an ice bucket with chocolate covered strawberries. Everything looks amazing.

“I called the hotel and asked them to set it all up when we were on our way to the chapel. Wanted to give you a proper wedding night.”

A knot forms in Louis’ throat, his lips tremble a bit, so he bites it down. Being loved by Harry Styles is like living in a dream Louis never wants to wake up from. How can someone who loves as deeply as Harry have such a troubled soul? Today, Louis vowed to take care of Harry until death parts them and he meant every word. Harry’s burdens are now his burdens too.  Now he has Louis to help him carry some of the load.

Louis grabs Harry’s face and pulls him into a kiss, swiping his lips against his, pouring every ounce of love he has into him. Before the kiss can get heated, Harry pulls away gently.

“Hold on,” he says. “Before we get to that, let’s make our first toast as a married couple.”

Harry grabs the champagne flutes, handing them to Louis while he grabs the bottle and after several attempts finally gets it to pop open. He spills some of it on the carpet, but neither of them cares. They fill their glasses before clinking them together, grinning at each other like lovesick fools.

“To forever,” Harry toasts.

Louis blushes, nodding and raising his glass. “To forever, next to the man I love.”

They drink half the bottle of champagne and indulge in the chocolate covered strawberries after they get out of their wedding clothes and into bathrobes provided by the hotel. Harry leads them to the hot tub with their drink and snack, the water already hot and bubbling, waiting for them.

“Oh my god, this feels so good,” Louis groans as soon as he touches the water, trying his best not to spill any of his drink.

Harry smiles smugly. “I knew you’d love it.”

They sit next to each other, leaning their heads back. Harry feeds Louis bites of strawberry every once in a while. It feels like heaven.

“I can’t believe we let Elvis marry us. Niall will never believe it,” Louis muses.

Harry laughs. “Good thing we got a copy of the video as proof.”

Louis keeps staring at his ring, the one Harry proposed to him with and he can’t keep the grin off his face.

“I’m going to buy you a new ring. One that will fit you better than that one,” Harry tells him, watching him.

“I love this one.”

“Well, it’s yours forever.” Harry says with a smile.

Louis sets the champagne flute aside, straddling Harry’s lap and wrapping his arms around him.

“Thank you for marrying me.”

Harry’s face is flushed, his eyes shining and he’s as breathtaking as always.

“I should be the one thanking you. You’ve made me the luckiest person.” His own arms come around Louis’ waist and Louis doesn’t waste another moment. He needs Harry now more than ever.

Louis takes his lips and licks into his mouth. They moan and Louis deepens it, taking Harry’s lip between his teeth and sucking it.

“I love you so much. Let me show you,” Louis whispers against Harry’s mouth before going in again.

Harry whimpers, tightening his hold on Louis.

“Mm hold on. Not here,” Harry pulls away, breathing rapidly. He climbs out of the tub, helping Louis out. They don’t bother putting their robes on, leaving a trail of water on their way to the bedroom. Harry lights the candles sitting by the nightstand before leading Louis to the bed.

They don’t need to say anything else, just let their bodies do the rest. The kissing resumes and Louis rolls them over so he’s on top. He wants to take care of Harry tonight, show him how precious and amazing he is. He won’t stop until it’s made clear.

Louis reaches for the lube already sitting on the nightstand, kissing Harry on the lips and working his way down to his neck and settling on his nipples. He takes one into his mouth, sucking and nibbling at it making the most beautiful sounds come out of Harry. It only makes Louis want to do more, so he does by doing the same to the other nipple.

Louis’ patience is growing thinner with each second that passes, wanting to touch every inch of skin on Harry’s body. And he does. His fingers trail down Harry’s sides, sending shivers through his husband. Louis smiles satisfactory, doing it again to cause the same reaction.

“Louis, please. ” He never thought hearing Harry beg would be so hot, but fuck.

Louis circles his tongue around Harry’s belly button, making him arch off the bed with the sensation. Harry continues to whimper, and Louis wants more.

He stops what he’s doing and meets Harry’s eyes. “Just let go, baby. I want to hear you.”

Harry licks his lips and nods before Louis goes back to what he’s doing. He nuzzles his nose in the hairs around Harry’s cock, breathing him in. He’s obviously given Harry plenty of blowjobs, but he’s never just stopped and admired Harry’s scent and the smoothness of his inner thighs.

“You’re so beautiful. Can’t believe you’re all mine,” Louis marvels. He takes Harry’s cock in his hand and strokes it a couple of times before needing to have a taste. He suckles at the head, moaning when he gets a taste of the salty precome leaking from the tip. “You taste amazing, Haz. You have no idea.”

Harry moans at that, and Louis takes it as a good sign that he loves the praise he’s getting. Louis is more than happy to continue doing just that.

Louis resumes stroking Harry while working his lips down to his inner thighs, nipping at the sensitive skin there. Harry’s legs tremble every time Louis makes contact with his skin and he smiles smugly at himself. Kisses land everywhere from Harry’s knees all the way down to his toes, one by one. He thinks he sees tears trailing down Harry’s cheeks, but Louis is too caught up in everything to really tell. He settles back on Harry’s crotch, lubing up his fingers and beginning to finally put his new husband out of his misery.

“That’s it, baby,” Louis encourages as his first finger nudges in. Harry gasps, his body relaxing and inviting. By now, Louis doesn’t want to spend too much time opening him up because his own erection is desperate to be inside of Harry.

Louis reaches for the condom but Harry stops him.

“Can we… can we go bare?” Harry asks. His voice sounds so vulnerable and small, Louis wants to take him into his arms and never let him go. “I’m clean.” He assures Lous.

Louis nods. “I’m clean too.”

That’s all it takes for Louis to lube himself up. He places a pillow under Harry’s hips and places a soft kiss on his lips.

“I love you,” Louis says before pushing in. Harry’s hands rest on Louis’ sides, his hold tightening the deeper he gets. When he’s bottomed out, Louis needs a moment to focus. He’s already flushed and dazed and they haven’t even started moving yet.

Harry kisses Louis’ chest, pecking soft kisses along his collarbones helping him gain his bearings. Louis begins to rock his hips, gently at first to get a feel of Harry to make sure he’s comfortable. Harry’s got his teeth digging into his bottom lip, his eyes rolling to the back of his head. Louis takes it as a good sign and continues his rhythm, eventually making his thrusts sharper and harder.

Louis is captivated by the entire scene, the way Harry’s cheeks have gone so pink, his hair sweaty, his skin shiny. He looks down at the point where they connect, watching each thrust and the way his hips slam against Harry’s.

“Louis, Louis. I need…” Harry’s voice makes Louis’ head snap up to meet his gaze.

“What is it love, what do you need?” Louis asks, slowing down.

“Touch me, touch me. Please. ” Harry whines and Louis jumps into action, his hand flying to wrap around Harry’s cock.

“I have you.” He breathes and begins to stroke him in tandem with his movements. “Can’t wait to see you come, baby. Look so beautiful, so gorgeous. My precious boy.”

“Fuck!” Harry’s mouth parts open and he’s spilling all over his belly and Louis’ hand. He clenches as he does, making Louis groan. His hips speed up, slamming into him and chasing his own orgasm.

“Oh, god!” Louis shivers and he’s coming, spilling inside of Harry.

Harry holds him when his body goes languid and falls on top of him. Their bodies are soaked in come and sweat, their breathing rapid but Louis wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. He slowly pulls out of Harry with a wince and settles next to him, running his fingers up and down Harry’s arm.

Harry smiles, his lips still bitten red from their tryst.

“I look forward to spending forever with you,” Harry tells him, staring into his eyes.

It catches Louis off guard, making him pause his movements. His face warms and he places a gentle kiss on Harry’s lips.

“Me too, love.”

Chapter Text

“A soul mate’s purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life.”

-Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

 


Harry and Louis reluctantly come back home, especially after Louis gets a call from a disappointed Jeff. As much as Harry is really starting to dislike Louis’ manager, he doesn’t show it. Instead, they pack up and leave their little Vegas bubble, full of blissful memories from their wedding night. Things get hectic with Louis spending long days and nights in the studio trying to finish the album. It has given Harry a lot of time to himself and his thoughts. Lonely nights of drinking himself to sleep and waking up in yesterday’s clothes on the couch with Clifford by his feet make it feel like it used to before Louis walked into his life. The few times Louis finds him passed out, Harry makes up excuses about falling asleep watching a film. He ignores the knowing look on Louis’ face that tells him he knows very well how Harry ended up here, but he doesn’t say anything about it. 

Harry begins messing around in his home studio, needing something to do. There are multiple songs that have poured out of him since he met Louis and he needs to arrange them. Maybe Louis can join him in singing one when he’s finished with the demos.

One afternoon, Harry’s getting some vocals down when he sees Louis appearing through the door. He stops, leaning against the doorway, his smile warm watching Harry as he finishes the chorus. Harry loses some of his focus, and his voice gets a little shaky, but he doesn’t care. He’ll come back and fix it, instead, he stops what he’s doing and joins Louis wrapping his arms around his husband, kissing him on his lips and cheeks.

“You’re home early today,” he mumbles against Louis’ face.

Louis pulls away to meet his eyes. His smile even brighter than when he first walked in.

“We finished the album. It’s done.” He announces proudly.

“It’s done?”

Louis nods. “Mmhm. Just polished up the vocals today and Julian said it was good to go. I can’t believe it. It’s going to be out there for people to hear. It’s unreal.”

Harry picks Louis up and twirls him before kissing him again, his lips swiping against his tenderly.

“Congratulations baby.”

Louis giggles and hugs Harry tight. “Thank you.”

“Let’s go celebrate! Come on, go change. I’m taking you out.” Harry begins walking them out of their studio and up the stairs, slapping Louis on the bum.

“Hey, what’s wrong with the clothes I’ve got on now?”

Harry plants a kiss on top of Louis’ head. “You look wonderful, love. However, I don’t think your joggers and middle finger t-shirt will go very well with the place I’m planning to take you to.”

“Fine,” Louis grumbles, even though the smile on his face hasn’t faded yet. “I’ll change, but only if you help get me out of these clothes,” he raises his brow at Harry.

Harry can already feel the blood rushing to his cock at the insinuation. He growls, picking Louis up bridal style making Louis yelp.

“Let’s get you out of these clothes.”



Their home is a madhouse full of people from Louis’ team, his glam squad, Louis’ family and Niall. Harry hasn’t had so many people at once in here like this and he takes a sip of his cocktail to help ease his anxiety. He’s sat on the couch in his suit ready and waiting while Louis gets his hair styled into a gorgeous quiff by his hairstylist.

It’s Louis’ big debut album party and Harry couldn’t be more proud of him. He’s worked so hard to get here, and Harry can’t wait for the rest of the world to fall in love with his voice. The album is great, though some of the songs are a bit overproduced and not what Harry would have envisioned for Louis. However, Harry isn’t his producer or manager and it isn’t up to him to make those type of decisions.

There’s no one that knows the game better than Harry does. It reminds him of a time when he had his debut and none of the songs on the album were written by him. He knows it’s just part of being a new artist, needing to prove your worth before you’re allowed to make your own decisions. Part of Harry hates that Louis has to go through that, but he knows his husband has what it takes to make it big. And he will.

“How do I look?” Louis’ voice shakes Harry from his thoughts. His eyes land on his husband and he swears he forgets to breathe for a few seconds.

Louis is the most beautiful man he’s ever laid eyes on, that much he knows. But wow. He’s wearing a metallic navy blue suit that was tailored perfectly to accentuate his wonderful curves. Harry’s mouth goes dry.

Harry stands, chugging the rest of his drink in the process and setting the empty glass down.

“You look gorgeous,” Harry breathes.

Louis’ eyes crinkle as he adjusts the lapels of his jacket. He leans in for a kiss, one Harry readily accepts.

When Louis pulls back he takes a breath. “I’m so nervous. What if people hate the album? What if it’s an epic failure?”

Harry notices the rapid rise and fall of Louis’ chest and he springs into action by taking his hand and walking him out of the room, away from everyone else.

“Excuse us, I need him for a moment,” he says without even looking to check if anyone heard him.

Harry walks them out through the sliding doors that lead to their garden. It’s a lovely day, not too hot or cold, with a gentle breeze. He lets Louis take a moment to breathe while Harry rubs at his back comfortingly.

Once Louis seems to have gained his bearings, he takes a hold of his hand and stares into his eyes.

“The world is a cruel place, Louis. In this day and age, there are so many ways to tear someone down.” Harry looks out at the view of the valley before them. The sun is getting ready to set, and the sky is pink and orange.

“Remember to stay true to yourself no matter what. If you show even one person you’re affected by their negative words, they’ll take it and run with it. Just hold your head up high, and don’t be afraid to say what you want to say. There will always be someone who doesn’t like you, but don’t let them get the best of you.”

Louis nods his head, his eyes attentive. “Don’t let them get the best of me. Got it.”

Harry wraps his arms around Louis, resting his chin on his head. “I love you so much, Lou. And I’m incredibly proud of everything you’ve achieved. You’re going to do great things, and I would just hate for anyone to take that spark that you have inside of you.” He kisses Louis on his head.

Louis pulls back. “I love you too, Haz. Thank you for everything. For being so supportive with everything and just...for being you.” He places his lips on Harry’s, the kiss lingering for a moment, making time stand still.

The slide of the door disrupts their little bubble.

“Louis, we’re going to be late if we don’t leave now,” Jeff says, pointing at the watch on his wrist.

“Right, sorry.” Louis gazes at Harry one last time before going back into the house. Harry remains where he is, needing another moment before joining everyone else. He doesn’t notice Jeff is still lingering until he turns to head inside.

Jeff is staring at him, not in a kind way. There’s something he wants to say, Harry can tell, so he crosses his arms and waits for him to speak.

“Louis loves you too much to tell you this, so I will.” He walks closer to Harry, looks over his shoulder, before meeting his eyes. “Please don’t fuck this night up for him and try to take it easy on the cocktails. I don’t need Louis playing babysitter when there are a lot of important people waiting to meet him.” Jeff’s voice is bitter and unforgiving and Harry would normally go on the defense, but there isn’t really a point, is there?

It’s like Jeff is holding a mirror in front of him, showing him all the flaws and imperfections Harry has that he tends to ignore. And this is when he takes his own advice, stands straight and doesn’t let it show how much the words affect him.

“Today’s Louis’ big night. I would never do anything to ruin that. Now, if you’ll excuse me. My husband is waiting for me.” With that, Harry brushes past Jeff, swallowing the knot in his throat.

Louis’ face brightens when he sees Harry and he extends his hand. “Let’s go, babe. The limo is waiting for us.”

Harry pastes on a smile and tries to ignore the itch beneath his skin, begging to get high.

 

**

 

Louis hasn’t sat still for more than a couple of minutes before he’s being pulled in another direction by Jeff or someone else from his team. They rented a venue in downtown Los Angeles for the release party and the place is bursting with people.

Being overwhelmed is putting it lightly. He hasn’t had a bite to eat and he’s so thirsty, he would kill for a glass of cold water right now. Louis manages to escape after being introduced to some journalist from a magazine he can’t even remember the name of. When the bar comes to view it’s like finding water in the desert.

“Give me the biggest glass of water you’ve got please.” The barman shoots him a weird look, but he’s too tired to care.

Louis lost sight of his family and Harry the moment they walked in. Jeff insisted Louis be pictured walking into the party alone, as much as he tried to convince him otherwise. So, Harry went in first along with his mum, sisters, and Niall. When it was Louis’ turn to make his entrance, he was blinded by the flashes of light that attacked him as soon as he stepped out of the limo. Jeff was there to help guide him through the door.

The bartender returns with his water, and Louis can’t help but moan as soon as the water touches his tongue. He looks around, his eyes searching for any familiar faces. He catches sight of Niall’s mop of hair and perks up, making a beeline toward him. Niall is with Shawn and they’re grinding on each other to the music.

“Get a room!” Louis shouts over the music.

Niall startles but then flicks Louis off when he sees him. “Fuck off.” He places his arm around Shawn protectively, kissing him on the cheek and the guy just giggles into his cocktail. Louis has no idea what the deal is with those two.

“Have you seen Harry?” Louis asks.

Niall shrugs. “Not since we first came in. He said he needed to use the loo, but never returned.”

Louis thanks Niall and continues the search for Harry. There’s no sign of him in the toilets or by the bar. The longer it’s taking him, the bigger the uneasiness in his stomach gets. He sees Jeff looking for him so he hides among the crowd and finds the nearest exit. The wretched smell of rubbish hits him, and when he looks up, notices he’s in an alley. He fishes out his phone from his pocket and doesn’t see any missed calls or texts.

 

Louis: Where are you, love?

 

Louis stares at the screen, watching to see if his message will go read. It doesn’t.

 

**

 

When they make it into the venue, Harry already feels suffocated. He excuses himself to the loo and rushes inside. Avoiding his face in the mirror, he twists the knob of the tap to splash some cold water on his face. Harry made it a point not to bring his pills with him today and he’s starting to regret that decision. He sniffs and cracks his knuckles, bringing himself to stare at his reflection. There’s already a sheen of sweat covering his forehead, and he runs his fingers through his long curls trying to make them look semi-decent. He can do this, he can be sober for one night.

Just as he thinks he’s ready to join the rest of the party, Jeff walks into the bathroom. He stops when he sees Harry, giving him a once over like he’s something abhorrent. It only makes Harry feel worse.

Why did he think he could do this? Who was he kidding trying to get through the evening without a drop of alcohol or a few pills?

Jeff shakes his head and doesn’t say anything before disappearing into a stall. Harry needs to get out of here.

By now the place is crowded with people and Harry can make an exit without getting noticed since today it’s all about Louis and his album. A shred of guilt makes him pause and he looks over his shoulder. He spots Louis with Jeff practically glued next to him shaking hands with people eager to meet him. Maybe it’s best Harry isn’t here, that way Louis can just focus on being his amazing self and not worry about what a mess Harry is. That’s what ultimately convinces him to leave.

Harry contacts an Lyft back home. He shuts off his phone as soon as he makes it through the door.

 

**

 

Louis can’t focus the rest of the night. He’s not able to leave because Jeff manages to find him and drag him along to meet more people. By the end of the night, there doesn’t seem to be one person he hasn’t shaken hands with. He’d asked Liam if he can help find Harry since Louis was indisposed, and he hasn’t heard from him since. That doesn’t help with his worried thoughts.

It isn’t until almost midnight when Louis receives a text from Liam letting him know he’d found Harry at home. There’s nothing else. No reason why Harry left or what state he’s in and it only makes Louis more anxious.

Thankfully the party is winding down, and Louis’ fulfilled all his obligations so he can leave whenever he wants. So he does.

His family and Niall had insisted on staying in a hotel during their visit, not wanting to intrude on Harry and Louis’ home. As much as Louis didn’t want that, now he’s thankful because he’d hate for Harry to be in a state he wouldn’t want his family to see him in. He bids them goodnight before leaving the venue, the paps making sure to get shots of him on his way out before getting in the limo.

When the door shuts and the driver pulls away, Louis leans his head against the seat and takes a deep breath. He hates that his mind thinks of worst case scenarios when Harry could have had a perfectly good reason to leave the party so early. Surely Harry wouldn’t abandon Louis on one of the most important nights of his life, right?

When the driver pulls up to the driveway, Louis mutters a hurried thank you, hopping out of the car before it’s even come to a complete stop. His heart is racing as he rushes up the steps and unlocks the door.

The house is eerily quiet for a moment until Louis hears the unmistakable patter of Clifford racing to the door to see who’s arrived.

“Hey boy,” Louis crouches to rub the dog behind his ear. “Where’s your daddy, huh?” He hears someone murmuring upstairs, so Louis lets go of the dog and heads in that direction.

“Harry come on,” Liam implores.

Louis sees Liam with a towel in his hand and when he enters their ensuite he finds Harry in the tub, naked and splashing around with a glass of gin in his hand.

Liam notices Louis and his shoulders slump. “Thank god you’re here. He’s completely smashed. I’d finally got him upstairs to get him to bed but he decided a bath to be more appropriate,” he rolls his eyes gesturing toward Harry. He gives Louis the towel. “I’ll let you handle this. Good luck.”

Liam approaches the tub and kneels by Harry. “Louis’ here. Don’t be a dick, okay?” His voice is soft as if he’s talking to a toddler.

Harry grins brightly, his eyes move to meet Louis'. “Lou you’re home! Come join me in the bath!” He raises his arms, splashing some of the liquid from the tub and his glass. Liam sighs and leaves after giving Louis one last wary look.

Louis lets out a breath. There are so many things he’d been planning on saying, wanting to know why Harry had to leave. It all goes out the window seeing the state Harry’s in. There’s no way Louis will be getting any answers tonight. He takes off his jacket, hanging it on a towel rack and unbuttons the cuffs of his sleeves to roll them up. Most of the floor is wet next to the tub, so Louis places a towel on the floor and settles onto his knees.

Harry tilts his head to the side and pouts. “You’re not going to join me?”

Louis forces a small smile. “Not right now, love. Let’s get you washed up and ready for bed, alright?”

Harry’s eyes are glazed, his pupils blown. God only knows what it is he took. Louis moves a wet curl behind Harry’s ear.

Harry’s lips form into a thin line making him look like a frog. “Okay, then.” He leans back to swallow the rest of his beverage and sets the glass aside with a loud clank. “Whoops!”

Louis reaches for the shampoo and turns the knob to get some hot water going. He rinses Harry’s empty glass to pour some water on his head before lathering it with shampoo.

Harry giggles. “That tickles.”

It’s like Harry’s gone back in time and he’s this small vulnerable younger version of himself.

“Look up,” Louis orders.

Harry does as he’s told and Louis rinses his hair. He moves on to the body wash, scrubbing Harry’s body with a loofah. For some reason, Louis’ mind takes him back to the first time he met Harry when they were backstage after his performance and he’d offered to wipe the makeup off his face. Of course, Louis wasn’t drunk at the time but it’s that trust between them that’s been there ever since the beginning.

After a final rinse, Louis gets Harry’s bathrobe and helps him out of the tub, making sure he doesn’t slip. He helps him get into a pair of pants before getting him to bed.

“Are you coming to bed too?” Harry asks. His voice is soft, almost nervous as if Louis might not want to go to bed with him.

“Of course, baby. Just need to get out of these clothes.” He goes into their huge walk-in wardrobe, needing a few seconds by himself as he gets out of the evening’s clothes.

Louis knows there are demons that haunt Harry, he’s known it since they met. There have been glimpses of it here and there, but never like this or that time Louis woke up to a crying Harry getting high. Louis wonders what it is that haunts Harry, that leads him to drown himself in booze and drugs. They’ve never explicitly spoken about Harry’s addiction and Louis’ not even sure if Harry thinks he has one.

“Lou?” Harry’s voice disrupts Louis’ thoughts.

“I’m coming.” He stores away all his thoughts to bring up at a later time, but Louis doesn’t know when that will be.

Louis lays under the covers and Harry immediately turns on his side to be the little spoon. It’s instinctive at this point, the way Louis’ arms wrap around his husband’s waist, his warm delicate skin touching his back to front. He places a kiss between Harry’s shoulder blades and hopes his brain will let him sleep tonight.

“Good night, Haz. Sleep tight.”


**


Harry’s head is pounding when he wakes up the next morning. He groans, rubbing his eyes and rolling onto his back to stretch all his limbs.

“Are you finally up, sleepyhead?” Louis’ soft, raspy voice startles Harry, but he smiles when he sees that he’s got a tray with breakfast and tea.

“I love you so much right now.”

Louis laughs and moves to settle the tray on the bed between them while Harry sits up. He takes the mug and sips it carefully to not burn the shit out of his tongue.

“It’s delicious, thank you.”

He glances at Louis who’s staring at his own mug, not taking a drink of it yet.

“You alright?”

Louis’ eyes meet Harry’s and they’re laced with sadness. “I just… I know you’ve just woken up, but I didn’t get to ask last night because you were a bit hammered. Well more than a bit, actually. Anyway… I couldn’t find you last night. At the party. You had me worried sick, you know?”

Harry’s face falls as memories come back to him about Louis’ album release and him not being able to control his cravings. And feeling like shit for it. He doesn’t feel worthy of having Louis in his life, but he doesn’t want to say that out loud because what if Louis realises it’s true and decides to leave?

“I’m sorry. I know it was shit of me to do that.” Harry starts. He knows he’s going to have to do better than that.

“Why did you do it then?” Louis is facing him now and Harry scrambles to find a way to explain.

“It was your big night,” he shrugs. “I wasn’t feeling well and didn’t want to ruin it for you. Probably should have texted you, but I knew you’d come after me or summat. I couldn’t let you do that.”

It’s a half-arsed truth, Harry knows. But it’s the best he can do for now.

Louis studies him carefully and being under his scrutiny is intimidating. Harry’s face heats up as he waits. Louis lets out a long exhale.

“Okay, you’re right I would have. But still. It was a shitty thing to do.”

Harry nods. “You’re right. I promise I’ll do better next time.”

A small smile appears on Louis’ face and he finally takes the first sip of his tea. “Alright. Just don’t let it happen again.”

“I won’t. You have my word.”

While they’re in the middle of breakfast, Louis’ phone goes off with a call from Jeff. Harry does his best to school his expression, not wanting Louis to know about his growing disdain for his manager.

Louis puts the call on speakerphone. “Hello?”

“Louis, good morning!” Jeff’s voice booms through the speaker. Harry sips on his tea and continues to listen. “I’ve got great news. You’re doing Saturday Night Live!”

“What?” Louis’ voice goes high in disbelief. His eyes are wide and he’s staring at the phone as if Jeff can see him.

“You got the SNL gig. We need to be out there first thing Monday to begin rehearsals.”

Harry stops listening then, instead walking out to the kitchen to dispose of the empty dishes they’ve used. He doesn’t like the idea of Louis leaving town right now but knows this is an amazing opportunity for him. A part of Harry wishes he could turn back time to when they were on tour, not being able to get enough of each other. Harry still can’t get enough of Louis, so much so he already misses him and he’s not left to New York yet.

There is something that begins crawling underneath his skin, making Harry uneasy. He fills a glass of cold water and downs it to tamp it down.

“Haz, did you hear that?” Louis bounds into the kitchen with an excited grin.

Harry smiles, “I did. That’s wonderful, baby.”


When Louis flies to New York, Harry busies himself in the studio. There isn’t a timeline set for the next album or anything, but he’s been itching to make music since he’s had an idea nagging at him for days. Plus it helps keep him distracted from doing other things he doesn’t want to be doing.

Harry’s in his home studio, sitting comfortably on the couch writing in his journal. He was remembering when his house used to be so empty and lifeless and how that’s changed since Louis moved in. Louis has made this place home like nobody else has. Any place with Louis is home. Harry’s never felt this way with anyone else. Words just begin to flood his mind about this, and they’ve been bothering Harry all week, until today when he finally decided to sit down and put them on paper.

He pictures the song being a duet that he and Louis sing to each other. Harry’s got parts for both of them. Harry’s part is first and then Louis is meant to sing back to him in the chorus as a sort of response.

 

I was stumbling, looking in the dark with an empty heart

But you say you feel the same

Could we ever be enough?

Baby we could be enough

 

It’s alright calling out for somebody to hold tonight

When you’re lost you’ll find your way and I’ll be your light

You’ll never feel like you’re alone

I’ll make this feel like home


After Harry finishes the first verse and chorus he grabs his acoustic guitar to mess about with it and feel it out. When he does the first full run through, he begins to choke up a little, his throat getting tight and tears filling his eyes. He feels silly having this reaction to a song, but then he shakes his head.

This is more than a song. This is… this is their love story, and it’s beautiful.

At that moment Harry contacts his assistant to book the next flight to New York.

 

**

 

Louis’ body aches from the nonstop rehearsals they’ve had all week. Not only will he have back up dancers for his performance, but Louis will also be doing some choreography along with them. It’s the stupidest idea in the world, but they’re not leaving him any option so he’s just pushing through it. He might not get another opportunity to do SNL again and he can’t fuck this up.

“Okay everyone, let’s call it a day! See you all tomorrow. Don’t be late!” Jeff calls to everyone.

Louis’ shoulders relax and he finds his bottle to get all the water he can. The choreographer has been so strict he barely lets them have a breather. When Louis tries to find Jeff he’s not where he was the last time he saw him. He looks around and his eyes land on Jeff’s back.  He’s talking to someone but Louis can’t really tell who it is from where he’s standing and the lights don’t help either. Louis gets closer until he sees a familiar mop of curls and his mood instantly lifts. Harry has his eyebrows furrowed and he’s looking at Jeff in a way Louis has never seen him look at anyone before.

“Harry?” Louis decides to approach and see what’s going on.

Both Jeff and Harry startle, jumping and snapping their heads in his direction. All of a sudden Harry’s features warm and his dimples form.

“Hi, baby.”

Louis runs into his arms, letting Harry envelop him in his warmth and scent. They’ve only been away from each other for four days, but it feels like a lot longer.

“Haz, I’m so happy you’re here,” Louis mumbles into his shoulder.

Harry’s hand rubs Louis’ back and he kisses the top of his head. “I missed you and had to come to see you and show my support. I fucked it up last time and don’t want to do that again.”

Louis tightens his hold on Harry, almost in tears. “Thank you,” he says.

“How about we go have some dinner and maybe a hot bath. It looks like you might need it,” Harry suggests, pulling back to get a look at Louis.

Louis nearly groans. “That sounds amazing. Let’s go.”

Louis waves at Jeff since he obviously heard their conversation. Jeff’s got a sour look on his face, but he’s not going to worry what that’s all about. He’s been getting on Louis’ nerve these past few days, Harry couldn’t have come at a better time.

There’s a driver waiting for them outside and Harry opens the door to lead Louis inside.

“You came straight from the airport?” Louis asks, leaning against Harry once they’ve settled in the back seat. Harry’s arm rests on his shoulders, the weight is comforting.

“Yeah, I contacted your assistant to see where you were rehearsing. Wanted to surprise you.”

Louis smiles. “I can’t believe you’re here. I thought you’d be swamped at the studio.”

Harry shrugs. “I did manage to write for a bit, but then writing made me think about you.”

Louis tilts his head up to kiss Harry, their lips meet with practiced ease. “I’m glad you came.”

The last time Harry and Louis were in New York was when they performed in Madison Square Garden. It feels like just yesterday, and now they’re back as husbands. They get to the hotel and Harry insists on Louis taking a hot bath to help his muscles relax, even goes so far as preparing the tub for him with all sorts of sweet smelling things he probably convinced someone from the front desk to get for him. Louis goes along with it, mainly because he doesn’t have the energy to resist. Instead, he lets himself be pampered by his husband. Harry was right, the bath is a godsend, and he relaxes while Harry orders room service, promising to have dinner ready by the time he’s done soaking.

Louis almost doesn’t want to leave the bath, but Harry’s here and he wants to spend as much time as he can with him, knowing he’ll be thrown back into rehearsals tomorrow before the performance. Louis grabs the bathrobe Harry set out for him and wraps himself up in the comfortable fabric letting out a deep sigh. His muscles are like jelly, the tension in his shoulders gone. When he steps out of the bathroom there are hot dogs with chips and wine waiting for him. He couldn’t have asked for anything better.

Harry puts something on the TV and they sit in bed munching on the food leaning on each other and washing it down with wine.

“This is perfect. Thank you, love.” Louis says once he’s full. His eyes are getting heavy, he knows he won’t be awake much longer.

Harry runs his fingers through Louis’ hair, and his eyes shut automatically. He hums in appreciation.

“You know I’d do anything for you, right?” Harry’s voice makes Louis open his eyes. His face is serious like he’s had something on his mind all day. He looks at Louis meaningfully, as if he’s trying to convey how serious he is.

“Of course. I’d do anything for you too.” Harry’s lips curve slightly, but not enough to form a full smile. He presses his lips against Louis’.

Suddenly all of the tiredness Louis was feeling disappears and it’s replaced with something else. Something more heated, desire. Louis is still in his robe, but it slides off his body quickly as soon as he climbs onto Harry’s lap facing him. It’s rushed and hungry, like neither of them can wait to be connected to the other. Harry works quickly and messily in opening Louis up and Louis waves his hands away so he can reach for Harry’s cock. When they finally connect, it’s like coming home. They moan together, staring at each other. Louis licks into Harry’s mouth and doesn’t waste any time in moving. They work in synch and perfect harmony, both of them too desperate to reach their release. When it happens, it’s sparks and fire, heat and electricity.

Their rapid breathing slows down, both of them haven’t moved. Louis’ got his head against Harry’s chest, able to hear the rapid rhythm of his heartbeat. It’s soothing and Louis can probably fall asleep just like this, but then he realises Harry is still inside of him and it starts to become uncomfortable. He pulls back, his eyes landing on Harry. Harry’s head is resting against the headboard and his eyes are staring at the window, that same pensive look from earlier.

“You alright?” Louis asks, slowly pulling off and sitting beside Harry, not taking his eyes off him.

Harry blinks as if realising he’d zoned out and focuses his attention back to Louis.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Just tired,” he mutters.

After washing up they snuggle into bed, Louis wrapping his arms around Harry. They don’t say anything, in fact, Harry ends up falling asleep rather quickly. Louis lays there, listening to Harry’s steady breathing, willing the demons that haunt his boy to leave him alone.

Chapter Text

“Letting go doesn’t mean that you don’t care about someone anymore. It’s just realizing that the only person you really have control over is yourself.”

-Deborah Reber, Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul

 

Louis has been traveling around the country doing promotion for his current single and Harry’s been at home. It started with Harry busying himself in the studio, getting some songs written and even recording a few demos. Harry can’t point out when things took a turn, he just knows that one morning he woke up and didn’t want to get out of bed. The same thing happened the next day and the one after that.

Louis calls to check in every day, and Harry turns on his best acting skills to assure him that he’s doing well and getting stuff done when in reality he can’t bring himself to do anything. Doing nothing turns to snorting whatever he has around the house and drinking anything he can get his hands on. Harry’s not proud of it, but in some way, it’s always inevitable, no matter what he does. He doesn’t know who he’s kidding when he pretends that he has his shit together and doesn’t need to get high. Louis being away has made those things clearer for him. He’s hopeless and Louis can’t help him with that.

No one can.

Harry startles from his sleep when he hears the front door shut. He’s disoriented, trying to remember where he ended up last night, and right. He’s on the couch and there’s an empty bottle of gin on the table and some left over white powder. Shit.

Louis is taking in the scene in front of him, his luggage sitting by his feet. Harry averts his eyes, not wanting to see the disgust on Louis’ face, adding another person to the list of people disappointed in him. It says a lot that Harry doesn't know what day it is and that he had no idea Louis was coming home.

“Hey, Lou. Did you have a good flight?” Harry rubs at his eyes, trying to take his attention away from the state of their living room and the rest of their house that he hasn’t seen yet. Harry had told himself he’d have it all cleaned before Louis returned, so there’d be no sign of what he’d been up to, but it must have slipped his mind.

“It was fine,” Louis’ voice is clipped. He takes his bags and leaves the room. Harry groans and lays his head back. Way to fuck things up as soon as Louis walks through the door.

Harry reaches for his phone on the table, and it must have died at some point so he plugs it into the nearest charger. When it comes to life, there are tons of notifications: texts from Louis, Liam, and others.

Apparently, Louis tried to call him multiple times last night and of course Harry wasn’t conscious to answer. He’ll have to deal with that later. Right now he needs to give Louis time to wind down from his trip.

Harry calls Liam and he answers just after the first ring. “Where the hell have you been, mate?” Liam demands instead of saying hello.

“What are you on about?”

Liam huffs on the other end. “I got a call to see if you’re available to perform at the Grammys. They’re going to present Fleetwood Mac with an award and they want you and other artists to come together and do a cover of “The Chain”. I told them you’d do it since I couldn’t get a hold of you and they needed an answer asap.”

“Fuck.” As much as Harry loves Fleetwood Mac, he really isn’t in the mood to be in front of his peers performing, especially not in the state he’s been in lately.

“How’s Louis doing with the nomination?” Liam’s voice breaks Harry’s thoughts.

“What?”

“Louis? He got nominated for Best New Artist...didn’t he tell you?” Liam continues.

Shit. Now all the missed calls from Louis make a lot more sense. “No, he hasn’t told me. Let me call you back.”

Harry hangs up and drops his phone on the couch, putting his face in his hands. Is there anything else he can fuck up? It seems like he’s on a roll today.

Reluctantly he gets to his feet and climbs up the steps to their bedroom. He can smell himself as he walks, reeking of days worth of not showering and all the booze he’s consumed in the past week. Louis deserves so much better than him, honestly.

Louis isn’t in the bedroom, but there’s soft music coming from their ensuite, and sure enough, he’s in the tub surrounded by bubbles. He’s got his head leaned against a towel, eyes closed. Harry doesn’t want to disrupt his peaceful state, but at the same time, he’s dying to congratulate Louis on his nomination. It’s something he should have done yesterday, just like he should have had his phone on and not been pissed and passed out.

Harry approaches the tub and that makes Louis stir and open his eyes. He doesn’t say anything and Harry isn’t sure if that’s a good or bad thing. Harry sits on the floor next to the tub closest to Louis.

“Congratulations on your nomination, Lou. I’m so fucking proud of you.” Harry says softly.

Louis arches a brow, tilting his head towards him. “Who told you?”

“Liam. I’m sorry my phone died last night.”

Louis lifts his hand to stop him. “Don’t. Just don’t, okay?” The hurt in Louis’ voice makes Harry feel even worse, but he deserves it. “You were the first person I wanted to tell when I found out yesterday, and you weren’t there, Harry. I was worried and then I get home and find you all…” He waves his hand around. “I want you to stop apologising and just be there.”

Harry takes Louis’ hand that’s resting on the edge of the tub and kisses it.

“I’ll be there. I promise.” He nuzzles Louis’ hand, kissing it again and again before looking up.

Louis still doesn’t look happy, and Harry wouldn’t expect him to. It’s not the first time he’s let him down, and he’s tired of being the cause of him having that sad look on his face. Harry needs to do better. He will.

 

**

 

The house is madness. There are people everywhere and Louis can’t find the one person he wants.

“Stop moving!” Krystal pulls at his hair a little to make him sit still in his chair.

Louis crosses his arms. “You don’t have to be mean,” he pouts. He spots Niall and he jumps to get his attention, making Krystal swear. “Sorry, hold on.”

Niall sees him and thankfully comes closer or else Krystal might murder him. “Did you need something?”

“Have you seen Harry?” Louis asks.

Niall and Shawn flew over a couple of days ago to be here for the Grammys. Unfortunately, Louis’ mum couldn’t make it because one of the twins has the flu. She didn’t want to risk any of his sisters carrying the virus over to LA and getting Louis sick for his big day, according to her.

Niall wrinkles his brows. “I haven’t seen him since brekkie this morning. Want me to find him for you?”

Louis would love that, but then if Harry happens to be hiding somewhere self-medicating, he’d rather not have Niall find him in that state.

Louis shakes his head, “Nah, it’s alright.” His hair gets tugged on again. “Fuck, I’m sorry. I’ll stop now.”

Krystal styles his hair into a sort of swirl. “My head looks like a cinnamon roll,” he says when he looks in the mirror. He catches sight of Harry in the reflection. “Hey baby, you almost ready to go?”

Harry is quiet, has been oddly quiet all day. Louis turns to look directly at him. He’s wearing a white suit with gold flowers, his hair is down, curls resting on his shoulders. He’s got a couple of gold flower clips on his hair that really brings out his entire outfit. Harry’s eyes trail down Louis’ body before meeting his gaze.

“You look beautiful,” he says softly. Louis’ wearing a black suit with gold pinstripes. He’d insisted that he match with Harry in some way, ignoring Jeff’s protests.

“Actually, Louis. I think it would be best if you and Harry arrived at the venue separately,” Jeff’s voice pops Harry and Louis’ little bubble. “We want the focus to be on you tonight.”

Louis wants to roll his eyes, but before he can, Harry’s hand wraps around his and squeezes it. “It’s alright, love. Jeff’s right. This is your big night, everyone should be only looking at you. I don’t want to walk the red carpet anyway.”

Harry’s voice is light, but it sounds a bit strained. Louis isn’t sure if he believes him, but there’s no time to try to argue. Instead, Louis relents.

“Fine. But we’re sitting together. You got it?” He aims his question at Jeff.

Jeff sighs and nods.

Louis tilts his head to kiss Harry. “I’ll see you over there then.” Another kiss. “I love you.”

Harry smiles, this time more genuinely. “I love you too. Now, go and enjoy your red carpet moment.”

Niall and Shawn accompany Louis into the limo and it doesn’t help to see them be all coupley, while his husband was forced to take a separate vehicle.

The red carpet is overwhelming. Louis is blinded by the flashes as soon as he sets foot, people shouting his name, wanting him to face their direction. Louis tries to pose and smile here and there, but in reality, he just wants to go inside and sit next to Harry. His stomach is in knots, his hands haven’t stopped shaking since he woke up.

Jeff leads him inside and there are even more people. Lots of famous celebrities Louis had only seen in magazines and on TV. Louis never thought he’d be doing this, never had plans to play his own songs. Now here he is, nominated for an award for his music. It’s unbelievable.

They find their seats and Niall and Shawn are already there, but Harry’s nowhere to be found. Louis takes in the room, scanning the area. People are having conversations, waiting to be told to have a seat. Harry’s probably caught up talking to some of his celebrity friends since he’s been doing this for ages.

The lights flash informing everyone that they’ll be starting soon. Louis looks around to see if he catches sight of Harry, but still nothing.

“Stop worrying about him. He’ll come when he’s here.” Jeff tells him, patting him on the shoulder. Louis wants to flinch at Jeff’s touch, not appreciating his manager’s tone. He’s been starting to notice that he’s not the biggest fan of Harry and he doesn’t like it one bit. Unfortunately, Louis is bound to a contract with his manager for another year, so he’ll just have to bear with it for a while.

The show begins and Louis gets restless. It’s a combination of his nerves and his worry about Harry. He’s supposed to perform before Louis’ category is announced, so he might just be sticking around backstage until then.

Louis decides to sit back and just try to enjoy the show until Harry’s performance.

 

**

 

Harry turns the pills into powder just like he knows how. Somehow the round he had back home before leaving wasn’t enough. There’s an uneasiness inside of him that he’s trying to drown out and get rid of. Harry bends to snort the white powder with practiced ease, wiping the residue from his nose. His eyes are bloodshot, but he doesn’t care. He needs that feeling, the one that makes him float on the clouds, taking him higher and higher until he can’t come down for a long time. Sometimes Harry never wants to come down.

There’s a knock on the door and Harry jumps to turn the water on and rinse his hands off as well as the powder leftover on the counter.

“Haz, it’s almost time.” Liam’s voice booms on the other side.

“Coming!”

He was supposed to go sit next to Louis, but with the way he’s been feeling all day Harry would be insufferable, and he doesn’t want to do anything to ruin Louis’ big night.

Harry is performing “The Chain” with Lady Gaga tonight. They’d been rehearsing all week, and they were able to nail it. He’s excited to hear what people think about their version.

The lights are so bright when he hits the stage, and he doesn’t remember how he even got here. He just knows he’s got a guitar on his chest standing behind a microphone stand. The other guitar begins to play, prompting Harry to do so as well. For a split second, he can’t think of the words, as if they’ve slipped out of his mind, but then he manages to focus and the words come.

 

Listen to the wind blow, watch the sun rise

Running in the shadows, damn your love, damn your lies

 

Harry startles when he hears Lady Gaga’s voice come in during the chorus. How did she get here? She’s facing him, a bit of concern in her eyes but otherwise focused and belting out the lyrics impeccably.

 

Listen to the wind blow, down comes the night

Running in the shadows, damn your love, damn your lies

Break the silence, damn the dark, damn the light

 

Harry’s eyelids are heavy, but he does his best to keep his eyes open at least until the end of the song. The beat of the song gets louder, helping him a bit, but at the same time, he’d really love to just lie on the floor and feel the coolness of it against his cheek.

 

Chain keep us together

 

They’re already at this point of the song? How did they get here? Did Harry sing the other parts? He doesn’t remember. He sings as much as he can.  At this point Lady Gaga isn’t looking at him anymore, she’s facing the crowd belting out the high notes of ‘running in the shadow’ in a way only she can manage to do. Harry stands there in awe himself.

The song ends so Harry takes off his guitar and drops it on the floor before walking off of the stage while people are still applauding. He thinks he might have even seen a standing ovation, he’s not sure. Harry wobbles down the corridor backstage, trying to find the toilet. He needs to do another line. He doesn’t like the way he feels.

“Harry, what the fuck was that?” Liam’s voice shouts across the hall. He catches up to Harry, grabbing him by the bicep. “Where are you going?”

“Need the loo,” he mumbles.

“Fuck, you’re shit faced. How did this happen?” Liam asks. The way that he manages to sound surprised baffles, Harry. This isn’t his first rodeo, and it probably won’t be his last.

Liam shoves him a bottled water, making him drink against his will.

“Come on, you need to go sit with Louis.”

Harry wants to fight it and argue, knowing Louis shouldn’t see him like this, but he doesn’t say anything. Liam drags Harry along like a child until they get to the row where Louis, Jeff, Niall, and Shawn are seated. Harry ignores the glare Jeff shoots him, instead focusing on Louis. He looks worried. Harry wonders why.

“You alright, love? Come sit.” Louis tells him.

Harry drops himself next to him and Louis rubs his back.

“Did you see me with Lady Gaga, Lou?” Harry says maybe a bit too loud because the people around him turn to glare at them.

“Shh… yes, I saw you. You did great,” Louis says, not looking at him.

“Your category is up next,” Jeff tells Louis. There’s an applause and Halsey appears on the stage with an envelope in her hand.

“I’m here to present the award for best new artist. Our nominees are…”

The screen shows the different nominees. There’s a bloke named YUNGBLUD that Harry’s never heard of. He wonders if he knows he’s spelled his name wrong.

“And the winner is… Louis Tomlinson!”

The audience applauds, louder this time and Louis’ eyes go comically wide.

“Oh my God!” He turns to face Harry and Harry grins, kissing him on the lips.

“Congrats baby. You did it,” he says. Louis hugs Jeff and Niall before making his way up the stage. Harry pouts because he doesn’t want Louis to go so he decides to follow him.

Louis is climbing up the steps to accept his award as Harry stumbles on the way to join him. Halsey presents Louis his award, kissing him on the cheek.

“Oh my god. I didn’t think I’d win. Thank you. I want to thank my label, my manager Jeff, my family, and my wonderful fans. But most of all, I want to thank my husband, Harry Styles.” Louis scans the area for him but doesn’t find him, so he continues. “Without him, I wouldn't be where I am today. He’s the one that encouraged me and believed in me when no one else did. Thank you, baby, I love you.”

Harry takes one step at a time nearly tripping and falling on his face until he’s right next to Louis as he’s finishing his speech. Louis’ eyes widen in surprise, but he chuckles.

“There he is. Thank you.” He lifts the award toward him.

Harry giggles. “Did we win? What did we win?”


**

 

Louis is mortified. Not only is Harry absolutely wasted, but now he’s joined him on stage while he’s accepting his Grammy.

“Did we win? What did we win?” Harry asks or more like mumbles.

The audience laughs and Louis’ face goes hot. He chuckles nervously and grabs a hold of Harry’s arm.

“Anyway, thanks!” The music begins to play and they try to make it down the stairs, but Harry tumbles to the floor, nearly taking Louis with him. The fall looked painful, but Harry is on the floor laughing his arse off.

“Ow!” He laughs as he rubs on his head.

“Are you okay?” Louis asks, offering a hand. A couple of security people come to help Harry get to his feet. Everyone is staring and laughing and Louis just hopes they’ve gone to a commercial break because he’s so fucking embarrassed.

Instead of going back to their seats, Louis tells Jeff he’s going home. He tells Niall and Shawn they can stay and enjoy the rest of their evening, but Louis can’t be here with Harry in this condition. He’s already made a mockery of them, he doesn’t need to make it worse.

Liam finds them and helps put Harry into the limo as they drive home. Louis shuts off his phone, it’s blowing up with calls from Jeff and his family and he doesn’t want to deal with that right now. He gets Liam’s help putting Harry in a cold shower to help sober him up. Liam offers to make some tea while Louis works on Harry.

“Lou, I’m cold,” Harry whines.

“I know, baby. But you need this to feel better, okay?” He works on taking off Harry’s suit that’s already drenched.

After the shower, he makes sure Harry’s in warm sweats and he makes him drink tea. There’s this vacant look in Harry’s eyes that makes Louis take pause. He doesn’t know how it got to this point, where Harry couldn’t care less about his own career. Louis won’t let Harry throw it away, he’s worked too hard to build his reputation, he can’t let him do this to himself over a high. Louis needs to be around more, to make sure Harry takes care of himself and doesn’t fall into these moments where he feels hopeless and turns to drinking and drugs. There has to be something more he can do.

Louis knows that his schedule is packed, with a world tour he’s got to start rehearsing for first thing tomorrow. But he’s got to have a conversation with Jeff. Louis hopes his manager will understand the situation. Harry is his family, and this is a family matter Louis is sure they can work around.


**

 

Harry knows he’s fucked up as soon as his eyes open. He doesn’t remember everything in detail, but he does see flashes of different moments that occurred last night. Enough to know that he’s made a complete arse of himself and Louis. Harry groans and covers his face with the duvet.

Louis isn’t around and when he looks at the time he sees that it’s past noon. It’s fucking late, and Louis must be rehearsing for the tour. They’d agreed that Harry would stay home for the US leg of the tour and he’d later join Louis in the UK and the rest of Europe, but just the thought of being apart from Louis for however long is giving him a headache. Or that’s probably just his hangover talking.

The doorbell rings and Harry rolls out of bed to answer it. He doesn’t know how he got into the clothes he’s in, but he can only imagine. He yawns as he opens the front door to reveal Jeff.

“Jeff? What are you doing here? I thought Louis was at rehearsals?”

Jeff enters the house uninvited and Harry shuts the door and follows him to the living room.

“I know. I’m here to talk to you.” Jeff says in a serious tone.

Harry sits on the couch and Jeff sits across from him, his arms folded across his chest.

“What is it then?” Harry asks after a moment of silence.

Jeff sighs. “You single-handedly almost ruined Louis’ career last night with your little stunt. Louis is too kind to tell you this so I will. You aren’t good for him. Louis is about to start a world tour and now he’s telling me that we should push it back or bring you on full time so he could take care of you. Is this what you want? For Louis to drop everything he’s accomplished to look after you? You’re a grown ass adult, Harry. You’ve had your time in the limelight, and now it’s Louis’ turn. Please don’t take this away from him. You’re ruining his life.”

Each word that comes out of Jeff’s mouth is a punch to the gut. Every single one.

“I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to. I never asked Louis to postpone his tour,” Harry tries to defend.

Jeff shakes his head. “Don’t try to give me your excuses Harry. Louis may fall for them, but I won’t. Can’t you see what you’re doing to him? I spent all night trying to keep the tabs from talking about your little incident instead of Louis’ big win. Do you even remember that he actually won a Grammy last night or were you too out of it to even care?”

Now that Jeff brings it up he remembers it clear as day. Louis giving his lovely speech, thanking Harry for encouraging him and supporting him. And then Harry went and shit on all of it, doing the opposite of being supportive.

“Oh god,” Harry buries his head in his hands, absolutely disgusted with himself. And the fact that it’s Jeff that’s telling him all this makes it even worse.

“You’re doing Louis more harm than good, Harry. Louis can’t see it, but maybe you can.” Jeff continues, putting the final nail in the coffin. He’s right. He’s absolutely right.

Harry nods.

“Good, I’m glad we talked,” Jeff says, getting to his feet. “I trust you’ll do the right thing then. I’d hate to see all the potential Louis has flushed down the toilet because he fell in love with a junkie.”

Harry swallows hard but doesn’t say anything, just follows Jeff to the door. After a murmured farewell, Harry slides down to the floor, letting his tears spill. He’s no good for Louis.

He’s no good for anyone.



It’s a week after Harry’s conversation with Jeff and Harry has a plan. He’s made some calls and has everything ready to go, but the one thing he can’t bring himself to do is talking to Louis.

The first couple of days after the Grammys weren’t so good. It felt like Louis was walking on eggshells around Harry and Harry couldn’t look Louis in the eye without feeling absolute shame. Eventually, things improved bit by bit, but things haven’t been back to normal. Harry doesn’t think they ever will be.

Tonight is Louis’ first show of his tour at The Greek Theatre and Harry is expected to be there. What Louis doesn’t know is that he won’t be. Harry knows Louis and knows that if he told him what his plans are, he’d either postpone the show or cancel it altogether. Harry wants to prevent anything like that from happening, so it needs to happen this way as much as he hates to do it.

Harry plays with the sealed envelope in his hands. He spent days trying to figure out what to say and how to say it in a way that Louis would understand. Ultimately he decided to just pour his heart out and tell Louis that he can’t be with Louis until Harry becomes the person that deserves someone like Louis. However long that may take. Harry asked Louis not to wait for him, wanting only his happiness and expressed the amount of love he has for him. It hurts his heart just picturing Louis’ face when he finds out and reads the letter.

Harry hears footsteps so he shoves the letter under his pillow. Louis appears looking frazzled but cute as always.

“I’m exhausted,” Louis announces, falling on the bed next to Harry. He momentarily panics, worried Louis will find the letter before he’s meant to, but then Louis buries himself into Harry’s chest. Harry instinctively wraps his arm around Louis.

“Get ready to be exhausted every day on tour. But performing will be worth it every night.” Harry tells him.

Louis hums in agreement. “You’re going to be there tonight, right?”

Harry kisses Louis’ head in response, not wanting to lie to him anymore.

“You’re going to be great. I always knew you’d make it big, you know?” Harry says instead.

Louis snorts. “I’m playing The Greek Theatre not The O2 Arena, babe.”

“You’ll play the O2 someday. And you’re going to sell out Madison Square Garden too. All by yourself, without my help.” Harry assures him.

Louis furrows his brows and stares at him. “What’s with all this? You have a terminal illness I don’t know about or summat?”

Harry smiles. “No. Just trying to remind you how amazing you are and how much people are going to love you.” He plants a kiss on Louis’ lips, this time making it linger. It will probably be the last kiss from Louis he’ll ever have and he wants to savor it for all eternity.

When they pull away, Louis says, “Well, I only care about one person loving me. And it feels pretty great.”

Harry’s heart shatters. He wishes he could be worthy of someone like Louis, but Harry doesn’t deserve him. He deserves someone who will lift him up, not destroy him.

Louis’ phone chimes and when he takes a look at it he groans. “Ugh. Jeff’s getting on my last nerve. I have to go to the venue for sound check. I’ll see you at the show?”

Harry bites his lip and nods. Louis grins, kissing Harry one last time.

“Great. I’ll see you then.”

Louis begins to walk away, and Harry stops him. “Louis, wait.”

Louis looks over his shoulder. “What is it?”

Harry sits on the bed, taking Louis in from head to toe. “Nothing. Just wanted to get one last look at you.”

Louis smiles, cheeks flushing. “You’re ridiculous.”

“I love you.”

“I love you too, you goon. I’ll see you tonight.”

Little does Louis know, this is their last encounter.

After Louis leaves, Harry gathers the items he’d planned to take with him. He gets the letter from under the pillow and places it on their kitchen counter next to the tea kettle knowing Louis will find it. He kisses his fingers and places the kiss on the envelope.

Harry pets Clifford and kisses him on the head. “Take care of your daddy, okay? He’s going to need you.”

Harry looks at the house one last time, their home. A tear trails down his cheek as he shuts the door behind him. He can’t even think about returning until he’s sober and deserving of Louis’ love.

Chapter Text

“But I must admit I miss you quite terribly. The world is too quiet without you nearby. I go to bed early and rise late and feel as if I have hardly slept.”

— Lemony Snicket, The Beatrice Letters

 

 

Louis gasps, jumping into a sitting position panting as if he’s just surfaced from being underwater. He’s hot and there’s some sweat on his forehead that he wipes away with the back of his hand. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been, Louis will always and forever hate sleeping alone. He rolls out of bed and catches sight of the manilla envelope sitting on the bedside table. It’s probably collected dust by now, but Louis refuses to touch it and study its contents.

Clifford lifts his head up, noticing Louis stand. His ears perk up and Louis nods toward the door.

“Come on boy, let’s go outside.”

The weather’s a bit nippy, but it’s January in London so not much else can be expected. Louis would choose the cold over the hot LA weather any day. He leaves Clifford out in the garden to do his business while he plugs in the tea kettle.

There isn’t much planned for the day since it’s just after the holidays and Louis is off for another week before his session at the studio with Dominic. He’s been excited to work with him since they met up in November to talk about some ideas they had for a collaboration. Louis loves how Dom’s mind works and can’t wait to see what they come up with when they work together.

Louis goes out to the veranda, lighting up his first cigarette of the day watching Clifford explore the garden before lifting his leg. The smoke burns Louis’ lungs and as much as he tries, it still fails to get rid of the emptiness that’s permanently settled in his chest. Louis stubs the fag and calls Clifford inside where the kettle is already whistling.

Every morning feels the same, like autopilot. Louis doesn’t even think about what he’s doing, he just does it. It feels good to have a routine, it helps keep his mind off things he doesn’t want to be thinking about.

Louis makes sure Clifford’s got food and water before taking his morning tea with a slice of toast and butter. It’s not much, but he’s not in the mood to cook or very hungry either way.

The shrill sound of his phone startles him as he’s putting the dishes away, but relaxes when he sees it’s his manager.

“Hey Niall, how’s the honeymoon going?” Louis asks, trying to sound cheery, but it falls flat. Oh well.

“It was going well, until Shawn got stung by a jellyfish,” Niall informs him.

“Oh shit. Is he okay?”

“He’s fine now. Just getting some rest.”

“Did you pee on it?”

Niall scoffs. “No way, mate. I took him to the infirmary. Don’t want to ruin the honeymoon by getting wee all over my husband. We aren’t into that kind of stuff.”

Louis laughs.

“Anyway, I was calling to remind you about the meeting you have scheduled today with the record label.” Niall changes the subject.

“What? I thought I was off for another week?” Louis whines.

“No, mate. I’ve had this meeting in my calendar for months. They just want to check in with you and get a timeline on the new album. Nothing big. You’ll be in and out of there in an hour tops.” Niall assures him.

Louis sighs. “I guess. Well, thanks for the reminder. Now go and take care of your hubby. I don’t want to keep you.”

“Wait, Louis. How are you doing? I haven’t spoken to you since the wedding.” Niall asks, in that concerned tone he’s been using on him for almost three years. Like he’s about to shatter at any moment. Normally he’d find it annoying, but he knows Niall truly cares about him and his well being.

“I’m alright, Niall. No need to worry about me, okay? Now, say hi to Shawn for me and I’ll see you lot when you get back. Love you, buddy.”

“Alright then. Love you too. Call me if you need anything.”

Louis assures Niall that he will and hangs up. He stares out the window for a moment, his eyes gazing at the grey sky. He was looking forward to doing nothing all day and now those plans are thrown out the window.

After showering and throwing on some appropriate clothes on he grabs the keys to his Range Rover and heads out the door. He turns up the radio to have something to listen to while getting through the busy London traffic. There’s a song playing that Louis’ never heard before, but it’s catchy so he taps his fingers against the steering wheel to the beat of the music.

Louis honks at the car in front of him trying to cut him off when the song ends and Greg James is on the radio talking.

“That was the new single from Halsey. She’ll be joining us in the studio later this week, so be sure to tune in! Now in other news, Harry Styles has believed to have been spotted in Jamaica. That’s right, Mr. Styles has been MIA for years and he seems to have surfaced earlier today getting some sun on the beach. Wonder what he’s been up to? I hope he’s got some new music coming our way…”

Louis slams on the breaks, his heart pounding in his chest. Harry’s been spotted, that’s... could it be true? Cars are honking behind Louis, so he pulls over to the side to fetch his phone and Google ‘Harry Styles Jamaica’. Sure enough, there’s an image that pops up. It’s hard to see, the picture is blurry, but Louis can make out Harry’s long curls and some of his tattoos. He seems to have more now. Louis’ breathing becomes more shallow, and his chest tightens. He drops the phone and grips tightly on the steering wheel taking deep breaths and counting.

Counting to three and breathing in before counting again and breathing out, Louis’ mind begins to process the news.

Harry is alive. He’s alive and he’s in Jamaica.

 

**

 

Harry covers his eyes with his hands. “I can’t look.”

“Oh come on, Harry. You should watch this. It’s the start of a new beginning. A new you.”

At that, Harry slowly uncovers his eyes and opens them, his reflection looking back at him. Zayn’s smiling encouragingly.

“You ready?”

Harry inhales deeply then lets the air out slowly. “Okay. I’m ready.”

Zayn takes Harry’s ponytail and begins to cut it. Harry can feel the hairs detaching from the rest of his head. He doesn’t know if he wants to cry tears of joy or sadness. It’s truly the end of an era.

When Zayn’s finished he lifts the pony tail up so Harry can see it.

“Holy shit. My hair’s gone.” Harry says in realisation.

Zayn grins. “Your hair’s gone, yes. But remember what this symbolises. You’re starting fresh. You’re celebrating one year of sobriety. That’s an amazing feat. One you should be really proud of.”

Harry takes in Zayn’s words as he continues to work on the rest of his hair. He’s right, of course he’s right. Harry never thought he’d get to this point. It’s been three years of trying and failing and trying again, and again. Harry thought he’d hit rock bottom, but it was nothing comparing to the lowest of lows he hit a year ago. He shudders just thinking about it. No, this isn’t a time to think about that. Like Zayn said, he should be celebrating.

Being sober for an entire year is something Harry never thought he’d be able to accomplish.

The click of a camera snaps him out of his thoughts. He’d forgotten for a moment that this entire thing was being documented. Harry had agreed to do an entire spread for Another Man Magazine where not only will they be taking pictures of him, but he’ll sit down for an interview for the first time in three years.

Harry has made a few promises to himself during this time of recovery. He’d agreed that he’d isolate himself away from his friends and family to keep from hurting them constantly like he’d been doing with his addictions. And he did. Not only did he leave Louis behind (just the thought of it still hurts Harry’s heart), he left Liam and everyone else. Harry knew that in order to really get his shit together, he had to do it alone.

The first year was the worst of Harry’s life. He checked himself into rehab, did everything that was asked of him. When he got out, he told himself he’d reach out to Liam after being sober for at least 6 months. Harry didn’t even make it to three months before he relapsed. It made him feel like shit, like such an epic failure. He’d let himself down, his loved ones down, Louis. It was a really bad time for Harry. He gave up, resigned himself to a life of addiction, not feeling like he deserved anyone he cared about in his life. Harry thought they’d all be better off without him, that they were better off thinking he’s dead than continuing to disappoint them over and over again.

So Harry travelled to New Zealand and partied. A lot. Almost every day he’d throw a party, inviting anyone and everyone that would come. There was booze, drugs, anything he could think of and he drowned all of his pain away. He figured that trying to forget about his life was the best course of action, and that’s what he tried to do.

Then things took a dangerous turn. Harry had been hanging out with some acquaintances he’d made. They were partying, snorting whatever they could get their hands on. Then Harry overdosed. His supposed friends freaked out and dropped him off at the nearest hospital, but not before robbing him of whatever valuables he had in his rental home.

Harry was in a coma for days. They didn’t have Harry’s information to call a next of kin, so they treated him however they thought best. When he woke up, the doctor informed him what had happened, and that’s when Harry realised how shitty his life had truly become.

“If you don’t get help, you will die.” The doctor had told him bluntly. It was as simple as that. Harry broke down, he cried and realised that he had to get better.

While recovering at the hospital, Harry did some research on different rehab facilities. He stumbled upon a facility that uses adventure therapy to help with recovery. Harry contacted them and they sent someone over to Harry to take him back and check in.

It wasn’t easy. In fact, it sucked a lot. Not only the detox but everything else. Harry almost quit a few times, but then he met Zayn.

“All done. What do you think?” Zayn’s voice brings Harry back to the present. Harry stares at the mirror, examining his hair. He doesn’t look like himself. The bags under his eyes that had become a permanent marker on him have vanished, his eyes are clear and not bloodshot or glazed. His skin is clear and glowing even.

“I love it.”

Liam bursts into the room, a panicked look on his face. Harry reached out to him six months ago when he’d finally completed six months of sobriety. He and Harry had a heart to heart and he apologised for giving Liam such a hard time and making his life more difficult. They cried, they hugged, and have been inseparable ever since.

“Haz, we have a problem.”

“What is it?” His stomach sinks a little, hoping it’s not something too serious.

Liam shows him the screen on his phone, it’s a picture of him at the beach. “This picture was leaked and the media has been all over it. They know you’re in Jamaica.”

“We knew this day would come eventually, didn’t we? I’m honestly surprised it hasn’t happened sooner,” Harry says.

“Aren’t you worried that… you know, that Louis might find out? I thought you wanted to talk to him before you went public again?”

Shit. Liam’s right. He wanted to talk to Louis, make amends in person. Especially after he tried to make amends over mail and his letter was returned. Apparently, Louis wasn’t living at that address anymore. He’d moved out of their house. Harry’s still not sure how he feels about that. Hasn’t let himself think too much about it.

“Fuck.”

“Yeah,” Liam confirms.

Just thinking about seeing and talking to Louis again makes Harry’s heart race. He’s not sure what to expect. Well, he might have an idea. He’d sent Louis divorce papers not long after he left. It wasn’t because Harry wanted a divorce, far from it. But Harry didn’t want Louis to feel tied down, so he had his lawyer draw up the papers. Louis never sent them back.

Zayn’s hand comes to rest on Harry’s shoulder and it helps relax him a bit.

“Well, there’s not much we can do now is there? Just let them keep speculating and we’ll stick to the schedule we had planned. I’m flying to London on Friday, right? I’ll talk to Louis then. If he’ll give me the time of day.”

Liam was able to track Louis down to find out that he’d left the house in LA and moved to London to be closer to his family. Harry thought of sending his amends letter again, knowing his new address, but ultimately decided that he needed to do this in person. If he knows Louis, Harry doesn’t think it’s going to be easy.


**

 

Louis’ phone has been blowing up since the news about Harry came out. He’s been ignoring all his messages.

There hasn’t been anything new after that picture was leaked. Harry hasn’t been active on Twitter or any other social media in years, and no representatives have made any comments. It hasn’t helped with Louis’ anxieties.

Louis walks to his room and grabs the manilla envelope on his nightstand, setting it on the kitchen table. He knows the contents. Remembers when the messenger from Harry’s lawyer dropped them off at the LA house. The way his stomach dropped as soon as he opened it to see what it was. No explanation, nothing. Just a stack of divorce papers so that Louis can be thrown aside like a piece of rubbish. Well, Louis placed the papers back inside the envelope and put them away. He decided that if Harry wanted to put an end to their marriage, he was going to have to come in person himself and ask for a divorce.

Three years later, and still no word from Harry. Not even now that it’s publicly known where he’s hiding.

Louis checks the time, he’s already running late to his meeting with Dom. Lovely. He rushes out the door and sends him a text to let him know he’s on his way. This time, Louis turns off the radio, not needing any distractions.

“Sorry I’m late,” Louis says as soon as he’s at the studio. Dominic is messing around on his guitar when Louis walks in.

Dom stops and grins. “No worries, mate. Glad you made it.”

They get to work, and it’s a good distraction for Louis. They talk about different concepts and ideas they have. Dom tells him about a couple that didn’t have a happy ending that inspired him to write a song. He shows Louis the lyrics he’s got so far, and they’re really good.

After spending a couple of hours in the studio, they agree to have lunch together. Dominic has become a good friend of Louis’, both being from Doncaster and having a passion for music has made them get on from the beginning.

They end up in a small cafe not far from the studio and catch up. It’s the first time in a while that Louis’ has gone out in public with a friend and it feels nice.

“Shit. I think that girl over there just took a picture of us.” Dominic points out as they’re tucking into their food.

Louis looks over his shoulder, trying for subtlety. As soon as the girl sees Louis watching her, she startles and puts her phone away. Perfect.

“We can go if you want,” Dom offers.

Louis shakes his head. “Nah, it’s fine. She already took the picture, there’s no point in trying to keep a low profile now.”

Dom doesn’t look very convinced so Louis puts his hand over his and squeezes it.

“Seriously, it’s fine. Come on, let’s enjoy our food.”

Dom nods, a smile appearing on his lips and they continue to go about their meal.

Perhaps they shouldn’t have stayed to eat because as they walk out of the cafe, there are paparazzi waiting for them outside. They snap away as soon as they're spotted and Louis wants to grab one of those cameras and smash it to pieces. It reminds him of that time, not long after Harry had left and Louis was being taunted by a pap. Louis took the guy’s phone and threw it against the wall. The pap tried suing him, but the case just ended up getting settled outside of court. Since then, Louis has tried to keep a low profile in the public eye.

Louis should have known better. All this news about Harry being spotted most certainly brings attention to Louis as well.

“Louis, is this your new boyfriend? Does Harry know you’re dating his look alike?” The paps shout.

Louis is grabbing Dom by the forearm so they can escape. He furrows his brows and glances at Dom. The only thing they have that might make Dom resemble Harry is the green eyes. Other than that, Louis just doesn’t see it.

“Get a real job you fookin’ loser!” He shouts back before they get into his car. “I’m so sorry about that.”

Dom laughs. “It’s not your fault Louis. That girl probably posted the picture she took of us and gave your location away. They work fast.”

“Tell me about it,” Louis says, pulling out of the car park. He drops Dom off at the studio continuing to apologise profusely, but he keeps brushing Louis off insisting he’s fine.

Louis heads home after that. He had planned to spend more time in the studio, but if he stays he won’t be surprised to find the paparazzi waiting for him outside. He’s had enough attention for the next month. He pulls into his driveway and unlocks his door. Clifford greets him happily and Louis pets him behind the ears.

“Hey boyo.” He takes him out to the garden watching him while he has a cigarette. It begins to slowly melt away some of the stress from the afternoon, but not completely.

The doorbell chimes and Louis wonders who it could be. He’s not expecting anybody and is honestly not in the mood for company. Louis puts out his cigarette to go get the door.

Time slows down as Louis reaches for the doorknob, twisting it. It clicks and he tugs at it revealing the person on the other side bit by bit. Louis almost doesn’t recognise him at first. His eyes trail from his feet, slowly up to his legs, torso and finally his face. His hair is short, a lot shorter than in the picture he saw in the tabs. But it’s the eyes. The jade green eyes with flecks of gold that bore into Louis’ soul. They’re the same eyes that stared at him when Harry professed his love when he said his vows in the church of Elvis. The eyes that go dark when they’re aroused, and the same eyes that had tears spilling out of them when he was being haunted by his demons. It’s the same eyes that left Louis high and dry, abandoned.

The rush of memories floods his brain as he remembers the history between them and why they haven’t seen each other in three fucking years.

Harry’s eyes are wide, doe eyed and his mouth opens then closes like he was about to say something then stopped. He opens his mouth again, but before he can say anything, Louis slams the door shut, effectively making Harry Styles disappear.

 

**

 

Harry wasn’t expecting a warm welcome with open arms. Having the door slammed in his face didn’t soften the blow any less. Harry stares at the white wooden door, tempted to try and ring the bell again. Maybe Louis didn’t recognise him and thought he was a stranger or deranged fan. No, Louis knew it was him. Harry didn’t miss the look in his eyes, the way they hardened as soon as he realised it was Harry on the other side.

With a sigh, Harry turns back to his car. It’s going to take more than a slammed door on his face to give up, but he’s going to give Louis some time. Harry’s new flat is actually not a long drive from Louis. He got rid of his old houses, part of the whole starting a new, a clean slate. Harry chose a flat over a house so he didn’t have a massive place that made him feel alone like it had in the past.

Harry calls Zayn as soon as he makes it home.

“Hello?”

“He slammed the door in my face,” Harry’s voice cracks at the end.

“Hey, it’s okay. This is one of the scenarios we talked about, remember? What did you say you would do if that were to happen?” Zayn reminds him.

Harry swallows hard, sniffing. “That I’d give him space and try again another day.”

“That’s right. You did the hardest part, Harry. You went to Louis’ house and made yourself known. I’m proud of you for that. Now you have to give Louis time to process the fact that you’re back.”

Harry nods. “Okay. Yeah. It was so... God, I just froze, Zee. I was determined to talk to him. I even practiced in the car before I walked up to his door. Then I saw him and it’s like all the words fell out of my brain.”

“It’s not going to be easy, but you need to talk to him. This can’t be a letter that you leave for him. We’ve already talked about how that wasn’t the best way to leave either. But, since we can’t go back in time, it’s all about doing things differently than you normally would have.”

“Thanks. I do feel a little better, you know? Just getting to see him in person, even though we didn’t talk. It was like finally being able to breathe again.” Harry explains.

“Well, you took the first step. Just continue taking it day by day,” Zayn encourages.

Harry takes a deep breath. “Yeah. Day by day.”

That night, Harry is on his laptop. They’d agreed he would stay away from social media until he officially begins promo which won’t be for another week. They still haven’t responded to requests for comment and as far as he knows, the media has no idea he’s now in London.

Harry ends up on Louis’ social media because he’s a masochist. He doesn’t post much, mostly things to promote his music or other artists. The last time he posted anything was last summer after the last day of his tour. It’s a picture of Louis with his team and crew. Everyone is flicking off the camera with their tongues sticking out. Louis looks adorable as he always does. After Twitter, he ends up on his Instagram and it’s basically the same. He wants to like or comment on his pictures but knows better. The last thing he wants is fans to go into a frenzy when Harry likes one of Louis’ pictures.

Instead he stares at a picture of Louis. It’s from a photoshoot he did for a magazine. He’s wearing a tracksuit, his face scruffy and so fucking gorgeous. It’s just how he looked when Harry showed up at his house. It’s so fucking sexy, Harry’s mind immediately goes to fantasies of Louis between his legs, rubbing his beard on his thighs. He shakes himself out of his filthy thoughts and instead opens another tab to Google Louis’ name. There are millions of results.

Harry goes into a spiral of getting his hands on any and everything there is to know about Louis in the past three years. His first world tour was a smashing success and sold out everywhere just like Harry knew it would. Louis broke ties with Jeff Azoff before recording his second album which he claims is more honest and truly him. Harry wonders why Louis and Jeff broke ties, and the articles he came across just say that his contract ended, but he knows there has to be more. Unfortunately, he can’t find it.

Apparently, Niall started his own management company and took on Louis as his first client and he’s been killing it. Louis no longer has back up dancers on his performances for his second album and his music is more raw and less over produced. Harry listens to the album and he nearly loses it. It’s amazing, it’s everything he imagined and more for Louis.

Harry’s favorite song is “Miss You” and not just because it may or may not be about him. He loves the sound and how it has a hint of punk to it. It fits with Louis’ personality so well.

Louis also went on a second tour, this time performing in arenas. He played the guitar and piano on stage, something Jeff was against when he’d first started out. For the second album, Louis got Grammy nominations for Record of the Year, Album of the Year, and Best Male Performance. He won the latter, and Harry’s heart fills with pride. Louis has accomplished so much and continues to do so.

There are some pictures from today that pop up on his results and Harry’s heart drops. They’re pictures of Louis with Dominic Harrison of YUNGBLUD and he feels like he just swallowed acid.

 

Louis Tomlinson out on lunch date with Harry Styles look alike, YUNGBLUD

Louis Tomlinson and YUNGBLUD getting cozy at lunch

Louis Tomlinson and YUNGBLUD hold hands as they leave the cafe

 

Louis is sat at a table with Dominic and he’s got his hand on top of his, smiling at him warmly. Dom is staring at Louis all dreamy, and Harry doesn’t blame him at all.

Harry slams his laptop shut. It’s not that he was expecting Louis to wait for him, of course, he didn’t. It doesn’t stop the sight of Louis with another man from hurting like hell. Harry’s chest is tight and he needs to count his breathing for a few minutes.

That familiar itch niggles at him, trying to pull him in. His mouth goes dry and his tongue sticks to the roof of his mouth. With shaky fingers, Harry reaches for his phone. It takes multiple tries to get his phone unlocked and find Zayn’s contact.

The phone rings and rings until he finally hears Zayn’s comforting voice. “Harry?”

Harry swallows. “Zee,” he breathes out. “I need— I need to go to a meeting. Like right now.”

He hears some ruffling on Zayn’s end. “Okay, yeah. Of course. I’ll come pick you up. Do you need me to stay on the phone with you until I get there?”

Harry closes his eyes, trying to get rid of the images of Louis and Dominic from his mind.

“Yes. Yes, please.”

Zayn remains on the line, he’s always been good at talking Harry down from the ledge. It’s one of the many reasons why they clicked so well from the beginning.

When Harry checked into rehab for the second time, Zayn was his roommate. Harry had been closed off at first, often brushing off things Zayn would do or say to try to be friendly. One day, after a particularly rough day of therapy that became very triggering for Harry, Zayn didn’t say anything when he saw the state he was in. Harry was curled up in bed, trembling, tears streaming down his face. All Zayn did was lay next to him and wrap his arms around him, holding him tight. That’s all it took for Harry to warm up to him. After that, they became friends, even more than that. They became brothers, forever bonded by the time they spent together in recovery.

After they both got out, Harry offered Zayn a job as his hairdresser and that was that.

Zayn made it to Harry’s house not long after and they went to a meeting close to Harry’s flat. It’s one of the other reasons why Harry chose to live in the area, making sure he was close enough to a meeting so he had no excuses.

Being in Jamaica for the last year was like living in a bubble. Now that Harry’s out of that bubble he has to do everything in his power to make sure he remains sober. He knew temptations would come, especially being back home where a lot of things would trigger him. If he wants to do things right like fix things with Louis, he’s going to have to practice what he’s learned.

 

Chapter Text

“…but it’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”

— Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

 

 

Louis gazes at the moon, the soft glow of it somehow comforting as he finishes the last drags of his cigarette. It’s no surprise that he can’t sleep, he doesn’t know who he was kidding when he got ready for bed. It doesn’t stop him from feeling bitter and mad. But perhaps it isn’t the lack of sleep that has him feeling this way.

After stubbing out his cigarette, he goes back into the house before he catches hypothermia. Louis has been replaying the events from this afternoon over and over again. The way Harry looked when Louis opened the door, Louis’ reaction. Every single second, down to the way Harry opened and closed his mouth. What was he going to say? Sorry? It’s going to take a lot more than an ‘I’m sorry’ to even get Louis to stick around and listen to what he has to say.

Louis is happy that Harry is healthy, that he has his shit together, he truly is. That doesn’t stop him from being upset at the way Harry left things. The way he just abandoned Louis, lying to him, making him believe things were okay when they weren’t. When instead of going to Louis’ show, he left without a trace or an explanation.

The fear of not knowing where Harry was if he was okay, alive… it’s all still so fresh in Louis’ mind. Not even Liam had known where Harry was, and that’s what scared Louis the most, that not even those closest to him had any idea where he’d gone. Days he spent coming up with worst-case scenarios, hoping none of them ended up being Harry’s fate. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that Louis got the divorce papers. That’s when he got mad, letting all of his anger out on those around him. That’s when he refused to sign the papers, deciding he wouldn’t do it until Harry came in person and asked Louis himself.

The sun eventually comes up, the light filtering into the house. Louis saunters into the kitchen to prepare his tea since there’s no use trying to sleep now. He lets Clifford out and lights another cigarette before the kettle boils. He has another writing session planned with Dominic, but Louis is considering asking him to come over instead of having to deal with paps camping outside the studio.

Louis shoots him a text to see what he thinks, and he agrees, so they plan to meet around lunchtime. In the meantime, Louis wastes time checking emails and catching up on social media. He doesn’t see any news on Harry. As far as the public is concerned, he’s still in Jamaica hiding out. Little do they know they’ve got a big storm coming, he thinks to himself.

He picks up the phone to dial Niall’s number, needing to talk to someone.

“Harry came over yesterday,” Louis blurts out, not bothering with a greeting.

“What? He’s in London? Thought he was in Jamaica.”

Louis sighs. “Me too, but apparently he’s back.”

“What did he say? Did you punch him? I would’ve punched him.” Niall says and Louis chuckles.

“No, I didn’t punch him. He didn’t say anything, I didn’t let him.”

“What do you mean?”

“I might have, sort of, maybe slammed the door on his face,” Louis admits.

Niall’s booming laughter is so loud, Louis has to move the phone away from his ear for a moment.

“That’s great, Tommo. Good for you.”

Louis doesn’t say anything for a while, and Niall’s laughter subsides.

“Why do you think he came to see me? Maybe I should have let him talk,” Louis finally voices out loud. “I feel bad for what I did, but at the same time I can’t stop thinking about the way he left things, you know?”

Niall hums. “Now, don’t get me wrong. I hate what he did to you and stuff. But maybe hearing him out will help you fill in the blanks and give you perspective on the situation. You can finally get some closure so you can move on.”

The thought of moving on makes Louis’ heart ache. He doesn’t want to think about that. He can focus on trying to get some answers from Harry for now. One step at a time.

“Yeah, I guess so. Can you do me a favor?”

“Anything, buddy. What do you need?”

Louis pinches his bottom lip with his thumb and index finger. “Can you get me Harry’s number? You’re my manager, I’m sure you’d be able to get ahold of his manager and get it for me.” He’s not sure if Liam is still his manager or if he’s got someone else. He’ll let Niall figure it out.

Niall’s voice brightens up at that. “Of course I can do that for you. I’ll work on it and get back to you. Call me for anything, alright?”

“I will. Promise.”

Louis busies himself doing some chores around the house to make sure it’s presentable for Dominic’s visit. There’s not much, just making sure the dishes are washed and there aren’t any clothes lying around the floor. He also passes a hoover over the carpet to get rid of Clifford’s shedding.

When he’s done, he gets in the shower, taking it as hot as his body will stand. He thinks about what he’s going to say to Harry. Should he apologize for closing the door on him or should he get straight to the point and tell him they need to talk?

Before he can make up his mind, his doorbell is ringing. Dom greets him with his usual smile and they get straight to work. Louis is suddenly feeling inspired and he won’t try to figure out why. They spend hours going over melodies and lyrics, finishing one song and having pieces of others.

“That song is sick, mate,” Dominic raves as they’re putting things back in order. They ended up plopping in the middle of Louis’ living room with instruments and papers scattered everywhere.

“Thanks. Had the chorus stuck in me head all day. Had to get it out.”

They named the song Long Way Down, and they don’t need to talk about what it’s about. It’s pretty self-explanatory.

“Well, it’s genius. Hit me up next time you want to work on stuff.” They hug and Louis thanks him before walking him to the door.

It’s deja vu the way Louis opens the front door and Harry appears. He looks like he was pacing back and forth on Louis’ driveway and telling by his wide eyes, he wasn’t expecting to see Louis yet.

They all stand frozen, Harry staring at Louis, Louis looking between Harry and Dom and Dom seeming unsure about what’s happening.

“Harry Styles, it’s nice to finally get to meet you,” Dominic breaks the tension by reaching a hand out to Harry. “I’m a massive fan.”

Harry startles for a second before his eyes fall on Dom’s hand and suddenly it’s like his brain is computing the situation. Harry takes Dom’s hand and shakes it, a smile that looks forced appears on his face.

“Thank you. It’s good to meet you. Love your music as well.”

Dominic blushes. “Thanks, man. Well, I’ve got a meeting I’m running late for,” he looks over at Louis and grins. “I’ll see you.” It looks flirtatious, but that’s just how Dom is with everyone.

Louis doesn’t miss the way Harry’s eyes harden as he watches Dom walk away. They stand in uncomfortable silence until Harry turns his gaze back to Louis.

“You’re not going to slam the door on me again, are you?” He’s going for joking, Louis thinks, but it comes out more nervous than anything. His attempt to smile falls. “I’m sorry, I was trying to lighten the mood. Didn’t quite work out.”

Louis is tempted to tell him to fuck off and leave, but then he remembers his conversation with Niall earlier. As much as he’d like to do that, there’s also the bigger part of him that needs to know Harry’s side of things.

“It’s fine. Come on in,” Louis says, moving out of the doorway to let Harry through.

Harry seems surprised at Louis’ invitation but quickly enters anyway, as if Louis might change his mind and lock him out. Louis walks them to his kitchen and begins preparing the kettle without asking Harry if he wants tea. He just needs to keep himself busy to distract from the way his hands are shaking.

“Make yourself comfortable,” Louis tells him when he notices Harry standing with his hands in his pockets and his eyes on the floor. Harry takes a stool from the kitchen island and sits, shedding his coat and setting it aside.

“I was actually trying to get your number to contact you,” Louis informs him after he’s turned the kettle on. He stands across the table from Harry and places his hands on top.

“You were?” Harry squeaks.

Louis nods. “I think I acted a bit brash yesterday. We have a long overdue conversation and I should have taken the opportunity to have it then.”

“Oh. Well, I planned to come back every day until you were willing to hear me out,” Harry admits.

Louis’ eyes drift to the pinkness in Harry’s lips and the way his cheeks flush when he talks. He’s obviously scared to shit being here. It makes Louis feel like he’s got the upper hand.

Louis prepares the mugs with tea, making Harry’s how he remembers he likes and slides it over to him. Harry mumbles a ‘thank you’ and sips on it before his eyes meet Louis’ again.

“I know this is long overdue, but I’m sorry.” Harry begins. The words shoot like daggers to Louis’ chest, each one exposing the pain that’s been buried there for three years. He swallows his tea to keep it at bay, needing to hear what Harry has to say.

Harry bites his bottom lip, his index finger circling the rim of his mug. He takes an audible breath as if gearing up to climb a steep mountain.

“First of all, I want to tell you that I’ve been sober for a year,” Harry begins.

“Congratulations Haz...Harry,” Louis stumbles, almost calling him by the nickname he had for him. “That’s amazing.”

Harry blushes. “Thank you. But that’s not why I’m telling you. I just… I don’t think I would have got to this point if I hadn’t left everything behind.”

Before Louis can interrupt again, Harry continues.

“I’m an addict, Louis. Back then, I was in denial about how serious my situation was. I didn’t want to see it. But then, God .” Harry rubs at his eyes as if he’s trying to cover the shame of his memories. “I made a tit out of not only myself but you in front of the entire world. I almost ruined your career, and I just. I couldn’t continue hurting you like that. I must sound like a broken record since you read the letter I left for you, but I just want to reiterate where I was mentally at the time.”

Louis wrinkles his eyebrows. “What letter?”

Harry pauses, staring at Louis confused. “The letter I wrote to you before I left. I couldn’t bring myself to tell you I was leaving in person. I knew that I wouldn’t go as soon as I saw your face. Instead, I wrote everything down. The reasons why I was going and why I needed to turn my life around.”

Louis has no idea what Harry’s talking about. There was never a letter from Harry. He should know, he tore up the house trying to find any clue as to where he’d gone off to.

“I never saw a letter. You didn’t leave anything behind. Just a few of your things, which I’ve got stored for you. I was planning on sending them to you as soon as I got word of your whereabouts.”

Harry sits up straight. “I left it near the tea kettle. I’m positive I left it for you. I don’t understand.”

“Me either, but wait. You didn’t almost ruin my career, though. In fact, I remember Jeff mentioning that your little mishap actually helped get my name out there. I mean, the Grammy win obviously also helped, but he was ecstatic about the boost it had given me,” Louis explains.

“I was never going to tell you this, but Jeff came to the house after the Grammys. He told me that I almost ruined your career and that I was a bad influence on you. That you’d be better off without me. I believed everything he said, and it’s what pushed me to leave and get better.” Harry tells him.

Louis huffs. “That fucking arsehole. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jeff is the reason I never got your letter. I sent him to the house to find you when I didn’t see you at the show. I’d bet almost anything he stumbled upon it and got rid of it so I’d think you left without a word.”

Louis wants to scream. The letter wouldn’t have stopped the pain of Harry leaving, but it would have at least given him answers.

“What happened to Jeff anyway? I read that Niall’s your manager now.” Harry asks.

Louis shakes his head. “He was embezzling money, taking more than his share of the sales of my records and merch and stuff. I dropped him as my manager and got a lawyer. Everything was settled outside of court. He didn’t want all the legal drama in the papers. No one wants to work with him now though.”

“In a way, I’m grateful to him that he told me all that, even though it was a lie. Because sooner or later, I would have ruined you, Louis. I’m sorry that shit got so messed up and I wish you’d known what I was up to. I can only imagine how hard it must have been for you. You probably thought I was dead somewhere, oh God.” Harry begins sobbing, covering his face with his hands.

Louis instinctively reaches out, taking one of Harry’s hands and squeezing it. His throat constricts and there are tears trailing down his own cheeks. “Listen to me. Don’t beat yourself up, please. Yes, it was hell, but look at you, Harry. You’ve been sober for a whole year. That’s such an amazing feat. I’m so fucking proud of you. You’re right, I probably would have begged you to stay if you’d try to talk to me. I wasn’t very good for you either back then and maybe I should have done more to get you the help you desperately needed.”

Harry squeezes back and shakes his head vigorously. “No, no Louis. You were amazing. You helped me stay sober this long. I told myself I couldn’t reach out to you until I was sober for a year. You helped me get to this point. I won’t have you blaming yourself for my fuck ups.”

Harry’s eyes are swollen, the tip of his nose red from crying. Louis wants to reach out and wipe the tears away.

“I’m sorry you had to find out where I was through the media. I was trying to keep a low profile until I got to talk to you.” Harry explains.

“It’s fine. It was a relief, to be honest. Knowing that you were okay. Alive.

Harry smiles softly. “You know, I have a new album coming out. My first single is out next week. It’s going to be a surprise drop, but I wanted to tell you about it. Let you know that it’s going to be about all of this. My addiction, my struggles, you.” His eyes focus on Louis.

“Me?”

Harry nods. “It’s the first song I wrote while in rehab. About needing to get better so I can be able to make things right with you.”

Louis’ cheeks heat up, he looks down at his hand still holding Harry’s. He loosens his grip.

“Talking about it is good. I’m sure you’ll be helping so many people who are also struggling.”

Harry shrugs. “I hope so. I just want to let people know they’re not alone, you know?”

Louis nods. There’s something in Harry that he never used to have before. A sparkle in his eye, something like hope.

 

**

 

Harry drops the single and the fans have a meltdown. He’s quickly trending on Twitter and other social media platforms. #HarryisBack and #MeetMeintheHallway trend all day on release day. Harry can’t help but see what people think of the song. He’d tweeted a link to the song on iTunes with a simple message:

@harrystyles: This song means so much to me, I hope it means something to you. All my love xH.

The support comes pouring in, with so many messages telling Harry that they’re proud of him and they’re glad he’s taken time to get sober. He made trips to the major radio stations in London, giving candid interviews about what he’s been up to the past three years. One thing he wanted to make sure was that he was completely honest about his addiction, not wanting to keep any of that part away from the public. He did leave out the parts that involved Louis and made sure they were blacklisted. Louis doesn’t need to be under more scrutiny because of Harry, as much as Louis had insisted that it was fine.

After Harry’s visit to Louis’ home, it was like a weight had been lifted and he was lighter. He and Louis ended their evening on a friendly note, exchanging phone numbers and promising to catch up some more another time. Harry wants to know everything about Louis and what he’s missed. He wants to know about his relationship with Dominic, but he didn’t have the guts to ask this time around.

Their contact begins small at first when Harry receives a text the day the song is released.

Louis: Loving the new song. Congratulations!

The text is short and sweet, but it’s enough to fuel Harry for the rest of the day.

They keep in touch after that, with Harry texting Louis ‘good morning’ and ‘goodnight’ and Louis doing the same. There are a few instances where they try to work something out to meet up for lunch, but their schedules clash and they aren’t able to. Louis reports that he’s been working on new music and Harry lets him know he can’t wait to hear it.

One morning, Harry’s has a text from Louis already waiting for him.

Louis: Want to join me in the studio today?

A grin appears on Harry’s face instantly. He’s done with most of the promotion for the single, currently taking a little break before the album release.

Harry: I’d love to

Harry’s stomach swoops when he hits send. It only takes a few seconds for the grey bubble to pop up with a message from Louis with the details.

Harry rolls out of bed with renewed energy. His trainer shows up and they do a rigorous workout that includes boxing and running around the neighbourhood. When he returns he showers and prepares a bowl of granola and fruit for breakfast. The butterflies in his stomach haven’t gone away since he received Louis’ text and he tries his best to tamp them down.

Not wanting to show up empty handed, Harry stops by a local shop to grab a couple of teas before heading to the studio. Harry is familiar with this one, has recorded an album in it many years ago.  It takes him a moment to get out of the car, needing a moment to steel himself before going in. This is the first time he’s seeing Louis since they talked about everything, so Harry isn’t sure how to act, or how Louis is going to be around him.

Louis invited him in the first place, so maybe Harry shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

Harry steps into the studio, taking in the familiar building. The last time he was here he spent most of it high and drunk off his arse. He spots Louis in the booth with headphones on singing a beautiful melody.

“Hey mate, you made it!” Harry didn’t notice Dom sitting by the soundboard and he startles a bit, nearly dropping the carrier in his hand.

“Hello,” Harry walks in and sits on the couch, setting the teas on the coffee table. He can’t help the disappointment he feels knowing that it’s not just going to be him and Louis.

When Louis is done singing he waves at Harry, a smile appearing on his face. He steps out of the booth to greet him.

“Hey Haz.” Louis goes in for a hug, one Harry isn’t prepared for, but he wraps his arms around him. It feels awkward hugging Louis like this with Dom in the room, but he’s not even paying attention to them, he’s busy listening to the playback.

“I brought you some tea. I’m sorry I didn’t know Dom would be here or else I would have brought some for him too,” Harry says, handing Louis his cup.

“Thank you. And don’t worry about it. Dom is about to head out anyway.”

Sure enough, Dominic gathers his things just a few minutes later. He hugs Louis and Harry as well.

“Nice seeing you again,” he says to Harry before turning to Louis, “See you later, Louis.”

Silence fills the room after he leaves, so Harry grabs his tea and sips on it, letting the liquid warm him up and calm some of his nerves.

“That was a good song you were recording,” Harry says, unable to take the quiet any more.

Louis smiles, settling on the couch next to Harry. “Thanks. It’s a song Dom and I have been working on. Finally got around to recording it.”

Harry nods but doesn’t say anything. Louis stands to get something from his bag, a piece of paper that he brings back to Harry.

“So I found this when I was packing the house up in LA. I recognized your writing right away, thought I’d save it for you.” Louis tells him handing him the piece of paper.

Harry takes it and unfolds it, the familiar words making his heart rate speed up. He always planned to show Louis the song, to hopefully record it with him someday, but then life got in the way and it never happened.

“Thanks for saving this,” Harry says, folding the paper up again. Louis stops him, his hand coming in contact with Harry’s, feeling warm where they touch.

“Will you show me how it goes?” Louis asks. His voice sounds small, vulnerable. Harry’s nodding his head before he even finishes asking his question.

Louis sets his tea down to fetch the guitar across the room and gives it to Harry. He takes it, resting it on his knee and strumming it a few times to make sure it’s tuned.

Harry meets Louis’ eyes and swallows. “I um. I wrote this song about us,” he says before his fingers begin playing the tune.

 

It's alright

Calling out for somebody to hold tonight

When you're lost, I'll find the way

I'll be your light

You'll never feel like you're alone

I'll make this feel like home

 

By the time Harry gets to the last chorus, his voice is cracking and there are tears in his eyes. When he’s done, he manages to make himself gaze at Louis, and he’s tearing up as well. Louis takes the guitar from Harry, setting it aside before he climbs on Harry’s lap, wrapping his arms around him tightly.

Harry’s own arms encircle Louis’ waist, he nuzzles his face into Louis’ neck and cries. He’s not sure how long they sit there, but it’s cathartic the way they both let out all the pent up emotions after years of keeping them in. Harry basks in the scent and warmth of being wrapped in Louis’ arms, trying to commit as much as he can to memory before they’re forced to break apart. He knows Louis isn’t his to have anymore and he wants to respect boundaries.

Louis pulls away eventually, his eyes red-rimmed. “Do you want to maybe record the song together?”

He doesn’t understand how Louis can look so nervous like Harry might reject him when it’s everything he wants.

“Yes. It was always meant to be a duet with you, you know?” Harry tells him as Louis stands to mess around with the buttons on the soundboard.

Louis smiles. “Let’s bring this song to life then.”

They spend the next few hours doing just that. They go over which verses each of them should take and when they settle on that, they take turns recording. It’s sort of magical the way the song comes to life. Louis’ voice has always been Harry’s favourite, and this song really highlights the magic of it.

It’s cute the way Louis gives Harry feedback, telling him what parts to go over again and what he should do with his voice. Harry does it with no problem, and when they listen to the final product they can’t get rid of the grin on their faces.

“It’s perfect,” Harry says.

Louis smiles, “Yeah. It is.”

They don’t talk about what they’re going to do with the finished product, but Harry won’t mind if Louis wants to put it on his album. Harry checks the time and realizes it’s almost time to go to his meeting with Zayn.

“Well, thanks for inviting me here Louis. I had a lot of fun.”

Louis stands with him as Harry puts his coat on. “You’re welcome any time.”

“I’m having a release party for the new record in a couple of weeks. I’d love it if you came,” Harry tells him.

“I’d love to.”

Harry blushes. “You can bring Dom too if you want.” He adds as an afterthought.

“Oh...okay. Thanks.”

They hug goodbye and Harry’s is out the door. A selfish part of him hopes that Louis doesn’t bring Dominic to the release party.

 

**

 

“What do you think?” Louis stretches his arms out and does a twirl.

Niall studies him while he stuffs his mouth with crisps. He hums, “You look nice.”

Louis scoffs, “Nice?”

Niall shrugs. “I don’t know what else you want me to say, Lou. You look nice, just like the ten other outfits you tried on. Can you remind me why you’re you’re stressing out about this?”

Louis sighs. “I’m not stressing out, just want to look nice.”

“Mmhm. Sure,” Niall winks and Louis rolls his eyes.

Louis ultimately settles on black skinny jeans and a grey scooped neck sweater paired with his favorite pair of Adidas.

“Are you sure you can’t come with me?” Louis tries again.

Niall sets the bag of crisps aside, cleaning off any residue from his hands.

“Can’t, bud. I already promised Shawn I’d go to this show with him. But let me know how it goes.” He stands, putting the bag away and patting Louis on the shoulder.

Louis is a nervous wreck the entire drive to the party. He parks the car and takes a minute before getting out, unsure of what the evening holds. There are paps outside, and they get snaps of him, but Louis is too anxious to pay them any mind.

The place is packed with people. There’s an open bar, a DJ and people mingling. Louis doesn’t see any sign of Harry, so he makes his way up to the bar to grab a drink, hoping it will help ease his nerves. He orders a beer and sips on it, letting the carbonation burn his throat. Someone next to him orders a pint and Louis turns when he recognizes the voice.

“Hey Liam,” Louis says.

Liam glances at Louis, his eyes going wide. “Louis, hi!” He embraces Louis in a hug. “How have you been? Harry told me he invited you, we were hoping you could make it.”

Louis smiles. “Yeah, I just got here. I was trying to find Harry, but didn’t see him anywhere.”

“He’s backstage preparing to perform a few songs. Want me to take you to see him?” Liam offers.

Louis shrugs. “Sure, why not.” He downs the rest of his drink, placing the empty glass on the counter before following Liam backstage.

They walk through the crowd as Liam leads the way and it’s reminiscent of when Louis joined Harry on tour that first night all those years ago. When they played “Ready to Run” for the first time.

It’s not as chaotic as Louis expected, in fact, they find Harry sitting cross-legged on the floor with his eyes closed. There is a guy Louis has never seen before sitting on a chair nearby messing around with his phone. The guy is gorgeous, black slicked back hair and tattoos all over his caramel skin. Harry opens his eyes as soon as Liam closes the door behind them, his face lighting up when he sees Louis.

Harry stands. “I’m glad you made it,” he says as he wraps his arms around him.

When they pull apart, the gorgeous guy that was on the chair is standing, walking towards them. Harry seems to remember his presence.

“Zayn! This is Louis. Louis, this is Zayn.”

Zayn smiles, extending his hand. “It’s nice to finally meet you, mate. I’ve heard so many great things about you.”

Louis blushes, shaking Zayn’s hand. “Nice to meet you.”

“You didn’t bring your boyfriend?” Zayn asks, looking to see if maybe he’s lingering behind them.

Louis wrinkles his eyebrows. “My boyfriend? I don’t have a boyfriend.” He looks at Harry whose eyes flicker over to Zayn then back at Louis.

“Oh shit, sorry. I thought you and Dominic were like together,” Harry explains, scratching the back of his head. Louis is still trying to adjust to seeing him with shorter hair.

Realisation dawns on Louis. Harry has seen him and Dom on multiple times together, and he doesn’t doubt that he’s stumbled upon the stories the tabs have been publishing about them.

Louis chuckles. “Don’t believe what the tabs say. You should know better,” he teases.

Harry’s cheeks flush. “Right. Sorry.”

“No worries. Dom’s just a good friend. We write music together, but that’s pretty much it.”

Harry nods. “Got it. Hey, can you guys give us a moment alone, please?” he asks Zayn and Liam. The boys nod and walk out of the room, leaving Harry and Louis alone.

“Zayn seems nice.”

Harry grins. “Yeah, he’s great. I met him in rehab. He’s helped me so much. Probably wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him.”

Louis can’t help the jealousy he feels. “Oh... “

“What… no not like that. He’s like my brother. Actually, he and Liam have been sort of seeing each other,” Harry explains.

“Oh really? They make a nice pair.”

“They do.” Harry stuffs his hands in his pockets, looking down at the floor. “Listen. I was wondering if maybe you’d like to perform ‘Home’ with me tonight? It’s okay if you don’t want to, just thought it would be great to sing it live.”

Again, Louis is taken back in time to their first performance together. The way Harry looked at him when he’d told him he wrote the rest of Louis’ song and wanted him to perform it with him in front of thousands of people. Today it wouldn’t be in front of thousands, just a few hundred maybe. Even so, it’s been so long since Louis has shared the stage with Harry, the nerves he’d been trying to keep at bay are back in full force.

Harry is trying not to show any emotion, Louis can tell, but he doesn’t miss the flash of hope in his eyes.

“I think I would be honored to share the stage with you again,” Louis says.

Harry’s eyes sparkle and his smile brightens up the room. He moves closer, so close Louis can feel Harry’s breath. Louis feels dizzy being like this, surrounded by everything Harry.

A knock on the door breaks their bubble and they both startle apart as Liam cracks the door open.

“Haz, they’re ready for you.”

Harry takes the stage and sings some of the songs from his album. It’s been so long since Louis has seen Harry perform, the first time sober. Harry knows how to capture his audience, always has and this time it’s no different. Gone is that apathetic look on his face he used to have. This Harry is full of life, the joy he exudes while performing contagious. Louis finds himself grinning like a fool the entire set.

“I have one more song for you tonight that isn’t on the album. It’s a song I wrote years ago about finding the love of your life. I’m going to have Louis Tomlinson join me in singing it with me. I hope you like it.”

Louis walks on stage, his heart racing as he approaches the mic stand. He glances at Harry who smiles at him encouragingly and begins the opening notes of the song. Just like that, all the nerves melt away and it’s just him and Harry against the world.

Louis closes his eyes as they belt out the final chorus, his skin is buzzing, his ears ringing. He hasn’t felt this way in so long. It’s a kind of rush he’s only had when he’s with Harry. His eyes open when they sing the last note and the audience roars in applause. Louis glances at Harry and he’s already staring at him, dimples out.

At that moment, in front of those hundreds of people, Louis realises that he’ll never stop loving Harry Styles.

The lights dim, and it isn’t until Harry is placing a hand on his shoulder that he notices they’re meant to get off the stage now. Louis is on autopilot as he steps down, heading back to the dressing room needing a moment to collect himself. His feelings for Harry have been lying dormant and being on stage, singing this song about their love, it’s like it pulled his heart out and exposed it for everyone to see.

“You okay?” Harry’s voice interrupts his thoughts.

Louis is pacing back and forth, his hands sweaty so he wipes them on the thighs of his jeans.

“Fine, I’m fine,” he stutters out.

“You don’t seem fine, Lou. Do you want some water?”

Louis pauses, facing Harry. “I don’t need water. I don’t need… I… “ Harry’s staring at him with those doe eyes of his, his lips parted. And why is he looking at his lips? He needs to get out of here is what he needs to do. Louis can’t be having this revelation in front of people, he needs a smoke. “I need to get out of here, Harry. I’m sorry.” He doesn’t look back, just finds the exit and sprints until the cool London air hits him. Louis places his hands on his thighs, panting like he just ran a marathon.

When he manages to get to his car Louis drives home willing his heart to calm down.

 

**

 

Harry can’t focus after Louis’ sudden departure. He seemed agitated about something and Harry doesn’t know what it is. He hopes Louis isn’t having regrets about performing together because Harry has never felt so at home being on stage with him again. It was like all of the pieces he’d been missing finally clicked into place.

Unfortunately, Harry can’t leave his own release party as much as he’d like to. He wonders if this is how Louis felt when Harry left his release party early, helpless and worried. God, he has so much he needs to make up for.

When Harry has fulfilled all of his obligations he can’t take it anymore and excuses himself, letting Liam know he has to go find Louis. He texts Paul letting him know he’s ready to leave and he’s waiting outside for him less than five minutes later.

Harry gives Paul Louis’ address and when they arrive he tells Paul he can go home. He doesn’t live far from here and can probably walk back. If their interaction doesn’t go well he will want to walk it out anyway.

He stands in front of Louis’ door, taking him back to just a couple of months ago when he was in this same position. Harry rings the doorbell, his heart pounding his chest. There is a faint buzz crawling underneath his skin but it’s something Harry has learned to ignore.

The door opens, revealing Louis in a pair of loose trackies and a hoodie. His hair is mussed up and he’s got an unlit cigarette hanging from his lips. His eyes go wide when he meets Harry’s gaze.

Again, everything Harry wanted to say disappears, his mind goes blank. Louis seems to have that effect on him.

“What are you doing here?” Louis doesn’t sound rude more like resigned, his eyes look tired like he’d been trying to but failed to get sleep.

“Why did you leave so suddenly? You had me worried,” Harry finally finds it in himself to ask.

Louis removes the cigarette from his mouth and licks his lips. He sighs, “Come in or you’ll catch a cold.”

Harry follows Louis into the kitchen. He leans against the counter and crosses his arms.

“Did you… did you not like being on stage together?” Harry hates how sad he sounds but he can’t help it. He may have felt like he and Louis belong up there together but Louis might feel completely different.

Louis shakes his head. “It’s not that. It was amazing actually. I haven’t felt that complete in a long time.”

That makes Harry relax, but Louis still looks troubled. “So then…”

Louis huffs. “You don’t get it do you? I’m still in love with you! That’s the problem. Being up there with you made me realise how much I still love you. So we have a bit of a problem.”

Louis averts his gaze and Harry wishes he wouldn’t. He wants to look him in the eyes.

“I don’t get what the problem is though,” Harry says approaching Louis slowly.

Louis shakes his head. “Don’t be daft. You know why it’s a problem.”

Louis finally moves his head to meet Harry’s eyes and by now Harry is just inches away. The proximity catches Louis off guard but there isn’t anywhere he can go.

Harry lowers his voice. “I don’t.” He caresses Louis’ cheek making his eyes close with the contact. “The only way it would be a problem is if I wasn’t in love with you too. And I’ve never stopped loving you, so…”

Louis’ eyes flutter open. “What?”

Harry cups Louis’ cheek. “Louis Tomlinson, you’re the love of my life and I will never stop loving you. No amount of time spent apart can diminish my love for you, it's impossible.”

Louis’ lips curve into a smile and he leans into Harry’s touch. Harry pulls him closer until there’s no space between them and their lips meet. They sigh into each other’s mouths, relaxing into each other’s arms. And just like that, the song they sang just a few hours ago comes to life right here in this kitchen. With Louis in his arms, showing him the love that's still alive and well within him, Harry is finally home.

All the stars align and everything feels right in the world again.

 

Chapter Text

“I choose you over everyone.”

-Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl

 

 

Harry has played in front of thousands of people and even that hasn’t made him as nervous as he feels now. He can’t stop fidgeting and staring at the door. A warm hand on his arm makes him jump.

“Relax, Haz.” Liam says.

Harry sighs. “I can’t Liam. I won’t be able to until I see him.”

Liam pats him on the arm but doesn’t say anything else. The music starts and Harry pauses to listen. This isn’t the song they had agreed to play. In fact, it’s a song Harry has never heard before.

 

You are the love of my life

 

Louis croons over and over in his sweet raspy voice accompanied by violins. The melody makes Harry tear up but before he can do anything else the doors open, revealing the most beautiful groom he’s ever seen in his life.

This isn’t an impromptu Vegas wedding this time around. They took their time deciding every detail down to their outfits. Though they decided to keep the latter as a surprise to each other.

Harry’s mouth goes dry as he watches Louis walk down the aisle in a navy blue suit that hugs all his curves in the most perfect way. His eyes can't look away. Harry went for a dark green velvet suit that almost looks black from afar. As he tried it on he knew that this was the outfit he had to marry Louis in.

Louis settles next to Harry and he reaches to wipe a tear from his eye he hadn't even realised he’d shed. They smile at each other as Zayn opens the ceremony by welcoming everyone.

When they got back together, it was like they were getting to know each other all over again. Harry introduced Louis to his new sober world, even bringing him to meetings so he could see for himself how Harry’s been working on his sobriety. Harry continued to join Louis in writing sessions with Dom. They've written some amazing songs together and have become great friends.

Louis released his new album, adding “Home” to the track list with Harry’s blessing. The album did great and even broke the record for most downloaded album in a 24 hour period. Harry couldn’t be more proud.

They were moved in together before they embarked on a world tour together. It was a mutual decision to combine their tours, aware of the magic they create on stage and how much the fans love it. Tickets sold out in six seconds to everyone’s shock. It was on their last tour date that Harry decided to propose. Sure, they were already married but Harry wanted to give Louis a proper wedding. One where they could invite their family and loved ones, and declare their love to each other in front of them.

So here they are now, reciting their vows in front of the most important people in their lives.

From the very beginning, loving Louis has always been an adventure. Harry can't wait for the surprises life has in store for them.

Together, forever and always.