Louis gets to the shops and parks the motorcar so he can go and look for Harry. There are not a lot of shops and some of them are closed for the Winter, so it shouldn't be too hard to find him.
Harry is walking out of a café at the end of the row with his paper folded and tucked under his arm when Louis see's him and waves to get his attention.
They walk quicker to get to one another and Louis reaches out a small hand to squeeze Harry's arm in greeting.
"How was it?" Harry asks.
"Well...there have been some developments actually" Louis replies almost solemnly as he rubs his eye's and forehead tiredly.
"I'd rather chat about it at home love" Louis replies, looking around at the passers by. "But you look a little flustered yourself. Are you ok?"
"I've had some of my own developments actually" Harry replies, looking back to the café he's just left.
"Well how 'bout we go home for a nice warm brew and discuss our developments?"
"Ok, but can we go to the grocers and the butchers first? I want to make us a nice tea and if there's left overs we can have sandwich's tomorrow"
"Sure" Louis agrees easily.
In both the butchers and the grocers Harry goes a little overboard. He can't decide between the Pork and the Beef so they get both.
And don't get him started on the vegetables in the grocers! Locally grown, he doesn't seem to be able to go past anything. He picks potatoes, swede, pumpkin, carrots, brussels, corn and cabbage.
In the butchers he also visited the providore section and got fresh butter and cream, cold meats, cheese, olives and some salt and pepper.
"I'm sorry about spending so much" Harry apologises in the car,
"You don't have to apologise Harry. I know you enjoy cooking. And it's so cold that it wont spoil if we don't use it all right away anyway".
"Thank you" Harry replies as he leans over and pecks him on the cheek. "I can't wait to get home. It's so much colder today" he adds.
"I heard someone at the Solicitors say that there might be heavy snow coming too" Louis replies as they turn into the dirt road that leads to their cottage.
"But aren't we meant to go back to Carlton House in a couple of days?"
"I guess. But there's nothing we can do about the weather, is there?" Louis replies with a cheeky smile and a wink.
As soon as they got home, Harry got to preparing the Pork and Louis started the fire in the sitting room and in the stove.
Harry carefully scored the Pork and covered it in a thin layer of butter and salt for crackling, and then got onto the peeling and chopping of the vegetables.
Louis prepared a pot of water for some tea and arranged the mugs according to how they each liked it. He then went and got changed into his full length pyjama suit and got their blankets ready for the lounge.
Louis watched as Harry worked in the kitchen and beckoned him over.
"Just a minute sweetheart" Harry answered. "I want to get changed too"
"Well be quick then love. I miss you".
"Are you ok?" Harry asked as he got comfortable under the blankets too.
"Kind of" Louis answered anxiously.
"What happened this morning? I'm worried".
"It's nothing for you to worry about" Louis began "But the Solicitor says someone contacted him about illegal activity I am involved in, so they don't know if they can go ahead with the division and sale of the property for us".
"What?! Who would do that?" Harry asked, genuinely shocked.
"But you're not doing anything illegal!"
"Yes I am Harry"
"What do you mean?" Harry asked with his big innocent green eye's looking at Louis.
"This. Us. We're illegal".
"Oh" Harry replied, shaking his head as if the memory had just escaped his brain "yes, yes.." he adds sadly. "So what now then?"
"I don't know..." Louis answered looking up from his lap.
"Can't you just find someone else to help with the sale?"
"They're the only one's in the local area, but I guess I could. It will just delay everything, that's all".
"Well that's ok" Harry replies as he puts a hand out to rub Louis' thigh for reassurance.
The fire in the corner crackles as a large log is burnt in half and collapses, sending embers all over the stone surround.
Louis get's up to clear it up and put some small pieces of wood on "It's not ok Harry!" he says, getting frustrated. "We wont get anything started 'til after the New Year now!"
"Ok..ok" Harry responds passively, his hands in front of him in surrender.
"Stop saying it's ok Harry!" Louis almost yells as he throws a piece of wood back on the pile.
For a moment neither of them say anything. Louis stands with a hand resting on the fire place, his side facing Harry. Harry waits for Louis to calm down and doesn't have to wait long for Louis' tears to fall.
In one swift move Harry is up off the lounge and standing in front of Louis, cupping Louis' jaw in his palm.
"Darling?" Harry asks, almost in tears himself. "What is it sweetheart? Please talk to me..." he begs.
"I hate it! I hate her! I hate the house, my Father, the society!" Louis cries in frustration "I just wanted to get the cottage sorted before Christmas so I had something to look forward to. Something that would get me through the horrible holiday season she's got planned".
"But she knows about us. Why would she make you do things you don't want to?" Harry asks as he wipes away Louis' silent tears.
"Because there's nothing I can publicly do about it. And she's a vindictive, spoilt woman who's used to getting her own way!"
"Why don't we go to the supply store tomorrow and see if Michael Timms' Brother wants to buy the property? My Parents sold the Bakery direct to the new buyers and we simply had the papers looked over and signed by a lawyer. Couldn't you do that with this place?"
"I don't know" Louis replied honestly. "I've always looked after the maintenance and tenancy of our properties, but never the sale. And selling separately will make us the most money".
"It doesn't matter about making the most money. So long as we have enough to get to France and buy a place, that's all that matters. We can do it up ourselves and grow our own vegetables and really make it our own. It doesn't have to be a grand castle Louis. So long as we're there together".
"But I want the best for you".
"You are all that's best for me. Let's go see Mr Timms tomorrow and then if the weather isn't too bad, we could see a Lawyer somewhere, couldn't we?"
"Yes love" Louis replied, enthused by Harry's spirit. "What would I do without you?" he added with a sweet soft kiss to Harry's lips.
After tea Harry makes a crème anglaise which he pours over some of the old bread and sultanas as a kind of bread and butter pudding.
Wiping his mouth with a napkin, Louis remembers that Harry had said something also happened to him while he was at the shops.
"Harry love, I'm sorry but I totally ignored that you said you had your own happenings today".
"It was nothing really" Harry begins as he puts his bowl to the side "But I just kept seeing the same man all over the place. I asked him if he was following me and he said he wasn't. I can't do anything but believe him, can I?"
"What kind of man?" Louis asks jealously.
"Mmm, normal really. Kind of well dressed, wearing a suit and a hat. About mid thirties or so. Dark hair. Nothing out of the ordinary, but he was just always....there!"
"Do you think he could have been sent by her?"
"Oh Louis, don't be silly! He was probably just wondering about the stranger hanging around. It's hardly a tourist spot or holiday time of year, is it? And besides, I've forgotten it now".
"Well I wont be able to forget it now".
The next day at the supply store, Michael Timms has some great news. His Brother is most definitely interested and had tried to call in on them to discuss it, but they hadn't been home.
Harry rubbed Louis' back as Michael spoke to them about his Brother's enthusiasm.
Apparently Timothy had grown up in the area and would have liked to have brought the entire Hillsdale Farm, but it had been divided and the premium land sold at a cost out of his reach at the time.
He'd since acquired full time work and had been buying, renovating and selling on properties of his own.
Michael watched Harry's arm reach around the back of Louis and when he noticed Michael's gaze, Louis tried to shrug him off.
Harry had been smiling at Louis and not seen Michael's gaze, so he had no idea what was going on.
As soon as he looked at Michael, he knew what was wrong and removed his arm, but was met with support "It's ok. My cousin is...like...umm, you know, the same as you" he whispered as his eye's darted around.
Harry and Louis both relaxed, but their eye's tried to find where or who Michael's were darting to. "It's the boss. He's old school and doesn't understand so just be careful around him. Tim, my Brother is ok too".
"Thanks for that. Do you know where we could find him to talk about the property? We were looking to hurry things along a bit" Louis explained.
"He should be up at his house today. I'll go and write down the address for you. He wont mind if you go up there".
Louis' car chugged up the hills to Mr Timms' place. It was really getting icey cold now and the sky had turned a greeny grey colour so they knew the snow was really coming.
"Is this a good idea Lou?" Harry asked nervously.
"If we can get this sorted, then we can just go home and ride out the snow there. We've enough food and fire wood for a few days, don't we? We'll be ok".
"I think we should just go home now. We can wait 'til after the snow to sort the property...".
"I just want to speed things up a little Harry. I told you last night remember?".
"I do remember, but I told you it doesn't matter when it happens. It won't be any trouble if we wait another couple of weeks Louis. We'll still have it to look forward to".
"I just want the agreement from Mr Timms to buy it, and then I'll be happy, ok love? I just want the reassurance that we're on the right path and everything is settling into place..." Louis answered with a solemn look on his face.
Harry drew in a long breath and let it leave his nostrils slowly. He could wait another few weeks for everything to be settled, but it wasn't him who had to put on the happy front over the holiday season with a family and society he despised, so he simply agreed to let Louis take the reigns "Ok. But I don't want to stay for too long. And you owe me a really good cup of tea when we get home. And a foot rub".
"Ha ha, tea and a foot rub it is then" Louis laughed as he put his hand out and rested it on Harry's thigh. "Thank you" he added seriously.
After about 20 minutes of fairly slow careful driving through the light snow, they finally reached Mr Timms' house. He was just leaving one of the outbuildings and going back to the main house when Harry and Louis pulled up.
Mr Timms stopped to look at the strangers approaching, and when they pulled up he began walking to them.
Louis quickly jumped out of the car "Mr Timms?" he asked, thrusting a hand out for him to shake.
"Yes?" Mr Timms replied, returning Louis' gesture.
"I'm Louis Tomlinson-Styles. I own the property over near the old Hillsdale Farm. Your Brother said he mentioned that I want to sell?"
"Oh yes!" Mr Timms answered enthusiastically. "I tried to call 'round yesterday but you weren't in".
"We had some errands to run" Louis replied as Harry appeared as their sides "This is my partner Harry" he added, gesturing between the pair.
"Business partner?" Mr Timms asked, shaking Harry's hand too.
Harry and Louis looked at one another nervously. Michael Timms had told them Timothy would be ok with them, so they hadn't thought to keep it a secret.
"Aaahhh, no, not quite..." Louis replied as he cleared his throat. "Your Brother said your...cousin...?" Louis stumbled.
"Oh, oh, yes!" Mr Timms reassured. "My apologies. I was just thinking about the business, that's all. I guess I was wondering who I was going to be speaking to about finances and contracts and the lot".
Harry physically relaxed as Mr Timms smiled at them. He looked at Louis who also looked confident that they were safe and together they looked back at Mr Timms.
"Please, please come in. Where are my manners? It's getting a bit rough out here, would you like some tea?"
"I'd love a brew, thank you" Louis replied enthusiastically, always ready for some.
Mr Timms' house was beautiful. He told them he'd brought it as a deceased estate which was almost derelict and had done it up by himself with the help of his Brother and some friends.
Inside is modern and light, but simple, and the back part is an entire wall of glass doors looking down over the hills surrounding them. Mr Timms had installed another fire place in the sitting room and had added a hallway to the outside bathroom so it was now attached to the house.
He'd also added an extra bedroom on the side which was very large and he and his wife Isobel occupied that one. It had only been a three bedroom cottage when they first got there, and considering they had three growing children, they wanted to expand for comfort.
There is nothing fancy about the house. It's a simple cottage with cream stone walls and the mess of three children, but it's comfortable and it's their home.
Louis and Harry can hear some commotion coming from the bathroom and Mr Timms explains that his wife is bathing their children, trying to settle them down for the evening.
Isobel ended up asking them if they wanted to stay for dinner and they politely accepted, so while Louis and Timothy discussed the sale at the table, Harry and Isobel got to preparing the meal.
The Timms' children, six year old twins Meryl and Moira and their four year old son Daniel, ran around squealing all afternoon.
Timothy continued to ask them to settle down, but they were having none of it. They ran into the kitchen and Isobel tried shooing them out with a dish towel, but they just thought it was a game and tried over and over to get back in there!
"I'm sorry" Isobel sighed lightly "they get over excited and like to show off sometimes".
"It's fine, I love children" Harry replies as he watches them run this way and that.
"Do you have children Harry?" Isobel asks.
Harry's eye's widen and he looks over at Louis who has heard the question and is also looking back at Harry.
"No love" Timothy answers for him "the lads are together".
"Oh, I see" she replies embarrassed "I didn't realise. My apologies".
"No need to be sorry Mrs Timms" Louis says a she jumps up off the chair and goes to Harry's side "we're just grateful that you're accepting".
"Yes of course" she replies, still bashful.
After their early tea and after discussing the sale of the land, they decide it's probably time to head home.
Mr Timms had agreed to the sale, but just wanted to check a few structural things with the cottage first so he would pop around again the next day.
Having pulled the blinds closed to shut the house down for the kids before tea time, no-one had realised just how hard the snow had started to fall.
Harry and Louis had each pulled on their coats and had their hats in their hands when Timothy opened the front door for them and groaned.
"What's wrong?" Harry asked, peeping his head around the corner to have a look as they were all gathered at the door.
"I don't think you'll be going anywhere this evening. The snow's way too heavy" Timothy replied.
"You can stay in our room tonight, we'll shuffle in with the kids" Isobel adds.
"Oh no, we couldn't impose on you like that" Harry replied.
"It's no imposition at all Harry, we insist" Timothy added, backing up his wife. "I'll just go and put your car under the roof with the tractors so it doesn't freeze over".
"Well ok then, so long as it's no trouble" Louis chimed in, even though he was already removing his coat again.
"Not at all love. Here, sit down and we'll have some more tea and get the cards out for a game, shall we?" Isobel answered while Timothy went about moving the car.
About an hour later the kids are snuggled up in front of the fire while the adults play card games. Harry had Meryl in his lap as he holds the cards close to his chest and there's a knock at the door.
The kids rouse a little and the adults all sit up straighter as Timothy goes to answer the knock.
They all wait to hear what is going on at the front door "Archibold!" Timothy bellows "What are you doing here man?! Come in, come in out of the snow!"
"Archibold Thomas" Isobel says softly "Farmer down the way. Not doing so well after his wheat went sour this season".
Harry and Louis nod in acknowledgment and then start to politely rise from the couch to greet Mr Thomas.
Only, when he turns the corner into the sitting room Harry's expression falls and he turns his white shocked face to Louis.
"It's the man from the shops..." he whispers.
TO BE CONTINUED.