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Dog got your Tongue?

Chapter Text

I am currently NOT accepting any translations.
I do NOT allow changes to my stories/adaptations

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“Hey, hey.” Louis huffed while being tugged on by six dogs.

It was a normal day for him; pick up the perfect little pups, in a neighborhood that was a little too well off, and walk them. Louis enjoyed his job although his family refused to even call Louis walking dogs a ‘job’. It was a job to him and it wasn’t easy. Louis had to make sure the dogs were hydrated, play with them in the scorching heat –cleaning up shit. He drove a two door car so it was very difficult to fit six dogs inside, but Louis managed.

“Please, puppies, I know you’re excited.” Louis patted their heads, “But you’re getting too crazy.”

Louis made his rounds like he did almost every day. The dogs were used to the route and knew that as soon as Louis picked up his coffee, from the very rude coffee shop employee, that it was park time. He always had a very hard time holding onto his coffee but again, he managed.

Louis stopped, stomping his foot to try and assert dominance. “Hey!”

His voice wasn’t the loudest, it was very soft and weak. Being mute for the first seven years of his life wasn’t easy. Louis’ voice came out low –or not at all. In the mornings, his voice was -rough. It wasn’t so much that he didn’t trust his voice but his voice seemed not to trust him, so it hid.

People flooded him with questions all the time –why couldn’t he speak louder? Why did his voice crack so often? His mother always told him it was because he knew a secret that no one else could know. God made a baby secret for him alone. Louis believed it for about thirteen years until he was thrown into a fence and beat up by a fairly large girl. He couldn’t express himself properly at the time, so he often touched people to explain what he wanted from them. The girl didn’t appreciate Louis touching her hair in a crowded hallway.

When his ‘screaming’ didn’t work, Louis tried threatening. “We don’t have to go the park, puppies.” He shook his head, “I will turn this around right now.”

Although they did not understand him, the dogs did finally settle, giving him an opportunity to drink his iced coffee.

Not many things in Louis’ life lasted more than twenty. That was his internal clock limit; twenty. Twenty days, twenty minutes, not even more than twenty seconds. And it took just about that much time for the dogs to see the park and, even less, for Louis to spill iced coffee all over a reading bystander on a bench.

“Oh my God!” Louis tugged on the leashes, something he hated doing, but it forced the dogs into submission. “I am so sorry, sir!”

The man looked at him, the dogs and then his lap. “What the fuck, man.”

Louis removed the cup carefully off the man’s lap, ice falling to the floor. “I am so –so sorry. I don’t –oh my goodness you are soaked.”

“Oh,” The man looked down at his pants. “Am I? I hadn’t noticed.”

Louis shut his eyes briefly, “The dogs –they were pulling me and –I don’t even know what to say.”

The guy stood up, letting the rest of the ice fall from his lap. “You can say that you’re going to pay me for my three hundred dollar book.”

The dogs nudged the back of his knees just as they went weak. “Three –three hundred?”

“Three hundred.”

“Wha –Three hundred?” What book cost three hundred dollars? Louis barely made that much in a week.

The guy side stepped the dog that sniffled him. “I am trying to stay as calm as I can but you repeatedly saying, ‘three hundred’, is testing my patience –that is currently melting away.”

Louis took a deep breath. “I don’t have three hundred dollars right now. I’m sorry.”

The guy shook his head, looking up then back down. “You know what, don’t care. I don’t care, I don’t care.” He closed his wet book and walked away.

“Wait!” Louis tried, tripping over the rowdy animals. “Wait!”

The man continued, either ignoring Louis or not stopping because he couldn’t hear him. Louis was ninety-five percent sure the man could not hear his scrawny voice in the middle of a crowded walkway. “Please!” Louis tried untangling his legs in the leashes, “Sir!”

The guy turned around with crossed eyebrows. “If you’re trying to get my attention, you need to speak up.”

Louis cleared his throat. “I can’t scream…” He paused, “you heard me?”

“Barely.” The guy looked down at himself –again. “This is bullshit.”

Louis frowned, staring at the distress stranger. “I’m sorry, sir!” Louis kicked the sidewalk when the man turned away. “Clumsy idiot!”

“You got one thing right!”

His head shot back up, surprised that he was heard. He tilted his head, watching the tall male walk further into the crowd. It took nineteen painful seconds for Louis to pluck every butterfly from his stomach and walk on to the park.

Chapter Text

 

“Louis, sweetie, if you’re tired we can stop for today.” 

The skinny child made an uncomfortable face while twisting his fingers together. The small boy opened his mouth, only a few choked sounds coming out. He shook his head aggressively, clearly frustrated. Louis sighed, laying out one hand flat, touching the tips of his right hand to the palm of his left.

“Again?” His therapist questioned. “Louis, you understand that not everything can be accomplished in one day.”

He scrunched up his eyebrows, repeating the signing motion.

His therapist smiled softly, “okay then, again.”

-

It was hot today. Not unbearably hot for the dogs though, a nice walk to the park would do them good. Louis was having a good morning. He had some oatmeal for breakfast, from the bakery nearby his house, before picking up his lovely doggies.

“I am on my way to the park now actually.”

“Did you put on sunscreen?” Niall, Louis’ best friend and step brother, questioned. “It’s really fucking hot outside, you could faint.”

Louis smiled, “It’s not that hot. I did bring extra water for the puppies just in case though.”

“They are huge dogs, Lou, not puppies.” Niall sounded like he was eating something. “Bucky is definitely not a puppy. Even when we got him as a puppy, he wasn’t a puppy.”

Louis stroked the large Pitbull, “yes, but he’s a puppy to me.” Louis cleared his throat as he approached the usual crowded walkway. “I guess I’ll see you later when I get back home?”

“What?”

“I’ll see you later!”

“It’s getting loud where you are, Lou. I’ll talk to you when you come home.” Before Louis could speak, Niall hung up. He puffed, sticking is phone into his pocket.

It wasn’t that Louis wasn’t used to it; people couldn’t hear him in person. With the large crowd, and bad reception, there was no way someone could hear Louis on the phone. It just made him a little frustrated.

“Come on, my sweets.” Louis rushed the dogs along, wanting to get them to the park so that they could have some water. At least they could hear him.

Louis couldn’t whistle, but he tried while he walked. It came out in weird sharp scratches rather than an actual whistle but that was fine; no one paid much attention. Louis approached the all familiar park and stopped briefly, halting the dogs as well. He squirmed with a small excitement –it was the man!

Louis wasn’t going to lie and say that he hadn’t thought about the guy. It was hard not to think about him when he spilled coffee on him. Louis had come the next day but hadn’t seen him, or the day after that. It was Tuesday again and, there he was, reading –again. Louis made sure to approach him as quietly and calmly as possible.

He stumbled a bit, not being as ‘quiet’ as he hoped as the guy looked up at him. He flinched and scooted down the bench with low eyes. “Not again.”

Louis smiled nervously, “No coffee today.” He lifted his hand full of leashes. “Promise.”

The guy scooted back to his spot, sticking his face back into his fairly large book. “Bye.”

Louis looked around, scratching his arm. “Um –I wanted to talk.”

 “Don’t want to.” The man looked up and oh –he had something on his face. It looked like it was being covered by make-up or something.

“I understand that-” Louis got a foul look from the large male. “I just thought that we could talk.”

The man closed his book and put his foot on his knee. “You spilled iced coffee on me and my three hundred dollar book. You think it’s a good idea to approach me?”

Louis thought about it for a few minutes. “Probably not.”

“Yeah, bye.” He opened his book once more and continued reading.

Louis sighed, turning around, staring at the dogs that were panting –clearly ready for some water. He glanced behind him and then at the sun, it was hot. Louis grinned at the animals, tightening his hold on the leash before falling, ungracefully, to the hot cement.

Louis kept his eyes shut, getting licks and sniffs from the dogs. He got a rough kick to his side, not expecting the treatment, and opened his eyes. “Ow,” He groaned. “What was that?”

The guy leaned over him, face very annoyed –but amused. “Did you really just pretend to faint?”

Louis sat up, dogs walking back and forth over his legs. “Yes.” He rubbed his side, “how’d you know?”

“Because it looked fake and you were still holding the leashes.”

Louis held smiled, “I’m Louis.”

“Harry.”

The dog walker cleared his throat. “I want to apologize for that day. I can’t pay you back but I can make it up to you somehow.”

“How?”

Louis mumbled a small, ‘I don’t know’. Standing up with the bench’s help.

“Why offer if you don’t know?”

“How can you hear me?” Louis plopped down next to Harry. “I don’t understand.”

“Because noise is coming out of your mouth.”

“Yeah, but it’s low.”

“Yeah, but it’s noise –a lot of noise.” Harry rolled his eyes, hair strands falling over his eyes. “Have a good day.”

“Can I see you again? Do you come here every Tuesday?”

Harry actually grinned and Louis started counting his blessings. One…

“Yeah, I do, I teach a class down the street.” Two… “You’re observant.”

“Thank you.” Three… “Maybe I can come to one of your classes?”

Four… “Can you sing?”

Five… “Eh, no.”

Harry laughed into his elbow loudly. The man’s voice was very deep and Louis could tell he taught singing lessons –his voice had volume. Harry laughed for a while before standing. Fourteen… “Then no, I don’t need you to come.” He patted Louis’ shoulder fleetingly, “Have a good day –Louis.”

Seventeen… “Um –yeah, okay. Next Tuesday?”

Nineteen… Harry held up a thumb as he walked away from Louis just before twenty.

Chapter Text

             

“Hi, Zayn.” Louis smiled handing over Bucky’s leash to the owner.

Zayn smiled back, “Thanks, Louis.” He motioned him inside, “come.” Louis wiped off his feet before shyly entering the very large house.

Zayn unhooked his dog's leash, nudging his face against the Pitbull’s, before Bucky trotted throughout the house. He stood, wrapping the leash around his hand. “How are you, Louis?”

“I’m good.” Louis looked around. “You guys redecorated?”

Zayn smiled, “yeah.” Louis had a hard time reading Zayn. He was very quiet and intimidating. Zayn was nice though, he was the one to actually help start his dog walking business. Louis still lived with his mom- yes, he did. Him, being a twenty-four-year-old, shouldn’t be living with her but she was bearable –most of the time.

“Is Niall here?”

“Yeah.” Zayn walked to the base of the stairs. “Niall, Louis’s here!” The man rolled his neck, “we got in a fight.”

“Oh.” Louis pressed his lips together. “Why?”

Zayn shrugged, “I don’t think it’s okay that he goes to some stupid concert for a whole week.” They watched Niall tap down the long stairs. “He does.”

“Ugh,” The blonde rolled his eyes. “Please.” He smiled at his step brother, hugging him.

Niall and him grew up together. Niall succeeded Louis in just about everything; talking, walking, school. He started a hair salon business at nineteen, found Zayn at twenty and now, at the beautiful age of twenty-six, has accomplished more than Louis might in his whole life.

“Aw, Lou.” Niall rubbed his cheek, with his thumb. “You burned.”

“Yeah.” Louis cleared his throat, blushing. “I guess I did need sunscreen.”

“I made lunch.” Niall pulled him towards the kitchen, “let’s eat together.”

“Um,” Louis pulled back, “I’m okay, actually. I should get home.”

“And this isn’t your home?”

“Yes,” Louis smiled. “But I should get home to my bed and stuff.” He hugged his brother briefly, “I just came by to drop off Bucky.”

Niall sighed, “Louis, you got to speak up, I can barely hear you.”

Louis tried repeating himself, but his voice ended up cracking, and he could feel his face getting hotter now that it had Zayn’s attention. He took a deep breath, “sorry.”

“Don’t be.” Niall chewed on his thumb nail, “have you gone to therapy this month?”

Louis looked at the floor. “No.”

“Louis.”

“What, Niall, I don’t like therapy.”

“It’s not what you like, Louis. I am paying for you to go, you have to go.”

“No, you don’t.” Zayn walked past them, “If he doesn’t want to go, he doesn’t have to.”

“Shut up!” Niall exhaled, “Louis, you need to find a proper job and I know why you haven’t –you know why you haven’t.”

“Niall,” Louis’ smile didn’t even reach his cheeks. “I have to go.” He took a few steps back, gripping his cross-body. “Bye Zayn!” He knew Zayn hadn’t heard him but that was fine.

-

“Oh,” Louis stared hard at the ice cream truck flavors. “Two blue ones.”

“What?”

He looked up, “two blue ones, please.” Louis pulled out some change and laid it on the counter. It was his day off. Actually, meaning that Louis woke up in a not-so-good mood and needed a break. It was Tuesday and Harry hopefully hadn’t left yet.

Louis chewed on his lip when the man set the two down, “yum.” He took both popsicles and pushed the change at the man before saying a quick thank you. He took off to the bench, where he hoped Harry was sitting, bumping into a few people with apologies. Louis peeked at the bench and took a heavy sigh of relief. Harry was there, hair pulled up into a tight bun –Louis could spot him like a sore thumb. Louis glided over to the spot beside him and sat.

Harry didn’t move his eyes away from his book. “You shouldn’t just sit next to people, it’s rude.”

Louis pouted, “Sorry.”

The man yawned before closing the book. “What do you want today?” He looked around Louis, raising a brow. “No dogs today?”

“Oh.” Louis smiled, now feeling empty without his animals. “Not today.”

Harry nodded, moving down the bench to look at him, “makes you look different.”

Louis blushed, shoving one of the blue popsicles at him. “I bought you this.” Harry looked the white plastic wrapper up and down. “It’s a blue popsicle –it’s my apology gift.”

Harry took it, shaking it. “It’s not a bomb or poison, right?”

“Right.” Louis smiled opening his, “so, Harry, how are you?”

Harry slowly opened his, hesitant, “fine.” He sniffed it before licking it a few times. “You?”

Louis smiled, biting into his. “I’m good.”

“Why would you even –you know what.” Harry turned away from him, “I’m gunna pretend I didn’t just see you do that.”

“What?” Louis peeked over Harry’s shoulder. “What did I do?”

“Who bites into a popsicle? It’s cold.”

“Yeah.” Louis shrugged, “It’s hot outside.”

“Never mind.”

Louis already knew what he taught –but he asked again anyway. “Um, so –what types of classes do you teach?” He was bad at conversation but that was alright because it seemed like Harry was too.

The man finally turned back around. “I teach singing classes.”

“Is it weird?” Louis sucked on his popsicle stick, “That you don’t look like the type?”

Harry didn’t say anything at first. “Is it weird that you look like you get beat up a lot?”

Louis frowned with a shake of his head, “It’s not, but I don’t.”

Harry smirked, “I guess it’s not weird that I teach singing classes then.”

“You just look,” Louis thought before leaning into Harry’s personal space. “Is that a tattoo on your face or a beauty mark?”

The larger male moved back. “It’s a tattoo.”

“Why,” Louis stuck the ice pop in his mouth, “is it on your face?”

“I don’t know, why are you trying to talk while there’s food in your mouth?”

Louis grinned, “it’s okay, you don’t have to tell me.” He pulled the melting ice cream out of his mouth, “So, singing classes.”

“Your mouth is blue.”

Louis paused, then smiled, sticking out his tongue to look. “It is blue!”

Harry squinted at him, “your voice cracks a lot.”

Louis shrugged it off, still intrigued by his blue tongue. “Yeah, it does.”

“Hmph.” Harry snickered, “Yeah, I teach singing classes. What do you do?”

“I’m a dog walker.” Louis smiled softly, “I walk dogs.”

“Those exist still?” Harry licked a blue drop that fell on his hand. “I thought all those dogs were yours.”

“No way!” He giggled, “I walk rich people’s dogs.”

“Oh.” Harry shook his head, bun tight with not a strand out of place. “You just got a lot more interesting.”

“Sounds a little sarcastic.”

“It was.”

Louis licked his lips, “It’s so weird that you have a tattoo on your face. What is it supposed to be?”

“A tear drop.”

“A tear drop,” Louis repeated. “Did you kill someone?”

Harry laughed aloud, his laugh was loud, music to Louis’ ears. “Do you regularly ask strangers that?”

“Hey,” Louis spoke slowly, leaning in. “Your mouth is blue too.”

“Yeah?” Harry stuck out his tongue. “I guess it is.”

“It is.” Louis sighed, “I was having a bad morning, but you made me feel better.” He rubbed his throat, not used to talking for so long.

Harry adjusted the book on his lap, “I’ve been coming here for about two months and I always see you, everyone sees you actually, walking dogs. You’re always tripping, and I always laugh at you.” He smirked, “you’re a loser.”

Louis touched his heart, “Wow, Harry, I thought that was going a whole other direction, thank you.” He smiled tightly at the sky, staring at the sun, “That wasn’t rude or anything.”

Harry shook his head, tossing the melting ice cream in the garbage beside him. “I have to go now but, thanks for the ice cream.” Harry stuck out his tongue, going cross-eyed to look at it. “And my tongue is very blue now.”

“Oh.” Louis finished off the rest of his. “No problem!”

The man tilted his head, “How old are you?”

“Twenty-four.”

“Your voice cracks a lot for a twenty-four-year-old.”

Louis could only shrug, “I guess. You have a tattoo on your face, one that means you killed someone. So, I can’t be that weird.”

“If you think I killed someone, why are you still talking to me?”

“You are the only person who can actually hear me in a crowded walk way and it makes me really happy.” Louis shrugged, “that’s why.”

Chapter Text

 

Louis knew he couldn’t talk to Niall about Harry. Niall would just become worried and have someone constantly watch Louis without him knowing.

 “Mom, I’m leaving!” Louis scratched his arm waiting for his mother at the front door.

He talked to Liam about it a little bit. Liam wasn’t too happy to hear that Harry might have killed someone, and Louis thinks he should have left that part out. Luckily, Liam and Niall didn’t like each other so it worked out.

“Mom!” Louis coughed into his hand when his voice failed him. He sighed and walked to the living room, “Mom!”

“Yes?” She spun around. “Yes, Louis?”

“What are you doing?”

“What am I doing? –I’m trying to fix the TV.” She smiled, “I think I unplugged something. I wanted to try out that dance game Zayn bought me.”

Zayn was a really good guy, he bought them a new house, with a bedroom for Louis. Niall always told Louis that he’d buy him a little apartment, but Louis denied. Since he was a child, Louis was used to people helping him with everything. Pitying him and making him feel like he couldn’t do things for himself. He was older now and he could do things for himself –it was irritating when people made him feel like he couldn’t.

“Okay, mom.” He waved at her. “I’m leaving.”

“To therapy?”

Louis pressed his lips together, “Not today.”

Then she gave him that look that everyone gave him. That stupid tilt of the head with a lopsided lip that made Louis want to vomit. And then she said the words, “Louis, you have to go to therapy.”

He looked away from her. “Zayn says I don’t…”

“What? Louis, I can’t hear you.”

“Nothing, I’ll go to therapy tomorrow, promise.”

She smiled uneasily, “okay, Louis.” His mother held her index finger to her lips before laying a flat hand on a folded fist.

Louis took a deep breath, repeating the same action. “I promise.”

-

It was Thursday, a little late in the day. The sun was going down and Louis wanted to go for a walk. He didn’t live too far from the beach, it was maybe a thirty minute walk. He wanted to go but he also kind of wanted to see Harry. It was Thursday, and he knew that his new friend wouldn’t be there, but that was fine because Louis was on a mission.

Tuesday night Louis went on the computer to look up music shops and chorus classes. He smiled as he approached a small studio. There had only been one and it was about a five minute walk from his favorite bench.

Louis opened the door slowly, making a small bell go off. He closed the door softly and looked around. There was a circle of chairs, a desk and a three tier platform. Louis carefully walked along the shoe print covered floor. It smelled like –children, like an elementary school.

He looked around, not seeing anyone. Louis suddenly felt like he was breaking and entering somehow. The short male strolled up to the circle of chairs and sat in one. It felt like one of his earlier therapy sessions, just quieter and more relaxing.

“Woah!”

 Louis jumped and fell out of the small chair. He quickly stood up and brushed himself off. “Harry!”

“What the fuck, man.” Harry shook his head, touching his chest, “You scared the shit out of me.”

Louis giggled into his hands, heart racing, because Harry had scared him too. “Sorry –hi.”

Harry almost laughed –like a choked laugh, holding papers in hand. “Are you stalking me?”

Louis shook his head quickly, “no, no! I promise.” He made a quick motion of ‘promise’ in sign language, swiftly retreating his hands behind his back. “Sorry, I just wanted to say hi.”

Harry gave him a fast up and down before dropping the stack of papers on the desk. He dragged his feet into one of the chairs cross from Louis. The tall man sat with his legs wide open, too big for the chair. “What’s up?”

Louis smiled, sitting down, “um, nothing.” He shrugged, “I wanted to see how you were.”                

“Yeah?” Harry yawned, rubbing his hands over his face. “I’m alright. Class just finished.”

“Can you tell me more about what you do?” Louis looked around, “do you teach kids?”

“Yes.” Harry rubbed his neck with a small smile, “observant.”

“I can smell them.”

“Excuse me?”

“Like, it smells like kids in here.” He looked around, “And these chairs are really little.”

Harry leaned back, crossing his arms over his chest. “Are you always sick or is there a reason your voice cracks so much.”

“Tell me why you have a tattoo on your face and I’ll tell you why my voice cracks so much.”

“No.”

Louis shrugged, “me too then.”

Harry smirked, “Are you really twenty-four?”

“Yeah.” Louis picked at his nail, “I am, how old are you?”

“Twenty-seven. –I’m going to a party tonight, wanna come?”

He swallowed hard, “really?”

“Yeah.”

“Is there going to be a lot of people or?”

“There’s going to be a lot of people.” Harry yawned again, “It’s my brother’s party. I don’t normally go to many parties anymore but it’s my brother so, you know.”

Louis nodded, “I don’t think I can go.”

Harry squinted at him, “Because you aren’t actually twenty-four?”

Louis laughed and stood up, beginning his count down. One… “I don’t like being in rooms with so many people. I get a little anxious.”

Four… “We’re going to be outside and stuff,” Harry stayed seated. Nine… “I’m gunna be with you the whole time.” He shrugged, “if I’m honest I just don’t wanna go alone.”

Twelve… “Why?”

Thirteen… “Cause I’ve took a big step away from my family so, I don’t see them as often.” Harry paused, “Do you smoke or do drugs?”

Louis shrugged, “I have –smoked.” nineteen… and his breath hitched. “I don’t like it though, it hurts my throat.”

“Okay.” Harry licked his lips, “Good.”

Twenty.

“How do I get there?”

Twenty two… “I’ll pick you up.”

Twenty three… “Should I give you my number?”

Twenty four and Louis was about ready to faint when Harry grinned at him. “That sounds like a pretty good idea.”

Chapter Text

“Bucky!” Louis beamed, hugging the large dog.  He licked his face but Louis didn’t mind. Louis smiled up at Zayn while caressing his favorite puppy. “Hey, Zayn.”

Zayn smiled tiredly, “hi, Lou. Come in.” He opened the door, allowing Louis entry.

Louis looked around, “more redecorating?”

“Yeah.” Zayn stretched an arm above his head. “Niall wanted to change things around.” He shrugged, “I like it. I like that he likes change.”

Louis nodded, chewing on his lip. “I like you for Niall a lot, thank you.”

“I love your brother.” The lawyer yawned, “I love you guys, so I don’t mind.” He motioned him towards the kitchen. “Niall is out with Cassandra but you can have breakfast with me if you want.”

Louis blushed, he got nervous around Zayn sometimes because he had liked him. When Niall had brought him home the first time, Zayn had spent a lot of time with Louis because Niall had went on and on about how important Louis was to him. Louis had completely fell in love with the fact that he was a lawyer, he was beautiful, and that he listened and understood.

Zayn had went through obstacles to get where he was, just like Louis. He didn’t make fun or talk about Louis’ stuttering and speech problem, like Niall’s short time boyfriends had. He actually was on Louis’ side for most of everything. Louis’ crush vanished when Zayn asked Niall to move in with him. He felt bad feeling so hung up over his brother’s boyfriend. Then Zayn started him on a dog walking route and Louis’ small crush bubbles came floating back up.

“Okay,” Louis spoke softly, sitting on a bar stool. He wanted to talk about his new crush with his old crush, because his old crush was probably the only one who wouldn’t talk him down about it. “Zayn?”

“Yeah?” Zayn pulled an assorted bowl of fruits from the fridge. “What’s up?”

Louis also liked Zayn because Zayn never screamed. His voice was always as low as Louis’ and he loved it. Most people asked him to speak up but Zayn never did. Whether he heard what Louis said, or not, he never mentioned it.

“You can’t tell Niall.”            

The man’s face pulled up into a grin. “Keeping secrets from the protective big brother.” Zayn slid the bowl on the counter before turning around, “Shoot."

“I dropped my iced coffee on this guy one day, and I think I like him because he can hear me when everything is loud, and he’s cute and funny, sometimes.” Louis swallowed down his breath. “He listens to me, and he’s taller than me, and he has good hair.”

Zayn turned around slowly. “That is the fastest I have ever heard you speak, you know that?”

Louis groaned, reaching into the bowl and pulling out a grape. “Zayn, what do I do?”

“Why can’t I tell Niall? Then I’ll tell you what to do.”

Louis chomped on his grape, “I think he’s killed someone.”         

Zayn’s jaw slacked a little, “How would you even know that?”

“He has a tear drop on his cheek.” Louis’ face scrunched up, “And he won’t tell me why.”

Zayn sighed, “Well, then he probably did. He’s obviously not horrible though, so what’s the problem?”

“You know Niall would never allow that!” His throat was hurting, that was enough talking for today. He made a sign to his throat and made ‘x’ with his arms.

Zayn leaned against the counter. “You want water?”

Louis shook his head quietly, embarrassed. “Well, I think you should first find out if he did and, if you like him, then it probably won’t matter to you -depending.” He shrugged, “if he’s a nice guy then what Niall thinks means nothing. I work with a lot of people –murders –it’s not always what we think. Just make sure he is a good guy, Louis.”

Louis nodded slowly, signing ‘thank you’ to Zayn. The lawyer smiled, “You’re welcome, Lou.”

-

Louis paced his bedroom. He had texted Harry to park down the street just in case his mother wanted to be nosey. Harry had texted him a simple; ‘k’, leaving Louis anxious and waiting. What if Harry didn’t come or he realized that he didn’t want anything to do with Louis?

Louis chewed on his cheek hands bawled in nervousness. He spent the whole rest of his day in silence. He wanted his voice in tip-top shape for when Harry picked him up. Louis also knew that it didn’t really work like that but it was nice to pretend.

“Oh my God,” Louis squealed, kneeling down beside his bed and ripping his phone from the charger. “He –hello?” He cleared his throat -damn his scratchy voice.

“Hey, I’m down the street. It’s 72nd, right?”

“Yes.” Louis closed his eyes as a smile ripped through his face. Harry’s voice on the phone was as smooth as in person. “I’m going now.”

“Kay.” And Harry was gone. He grabbed his wallet before running out of his room. He closed the door softly and edged his way to the front door, closing it quietly behind him. Louis snuck out a lot to sleep over Niall’s when he was younger. It was a skill.

He jogged down the street, sticking his phone in his pocket and wiping his face. He could see Harry’s car from here. Louis swallowed hard, slowed down, and fixed his shirt for the hundredth time. Harry’s car looked a lot nicer than his. It was a two-door but the car looked like it was for racing, while Louis’ two-door looked like it was going to break down very soon.

“Hi. –Hi.” Louis struggled to get in the car but finally did. He looked over at Harry who was staring at him.

“Hey.”

“Hi.”

“Okay, then.” Harry started the car and pulled away from the stop sign. “How was your day?”       

“Good.” Louis spoke too fast, “Really good.”

“That’s good.” Harry spoke slowly and Louis was afraid to look at him but, after a few moments of silence, he did. Louis got closer, putting a hand on Harry’s arm. “You have a lot of tattoos.” His mouth opened wide, “When –wh –I’ve never seen those?” Louis had looked Harry up and down multiple times and he was sure this was the first time he’d seen a tattoo on the man other than the one on his face.

Harry smirked as small street lights hit his face. “Is it a problem?”

“Well no, but I feel like I don’t know you.”

“You don’t know me.”        

“Yeah, but now I really don’t know you.”             

“You never knew me.”

Louis exhaled, touching over each mark before pulling away. “I’m sorry.”         

 “It’s cool, people do it.”

 “What people?”         

Harry glanced over at Louis’ crumpled face, “Kids, people.”

“I don’t get it.” Louis sat forward, staring at the road. “So, are you going to explain how you somehow got both of your arms completely tattooed in a day?”

“Make-up.”

Louis quickly rubbed Harry’s arm, “Liar.” He rubbed harder, “It’s not make-up.”

Harry laughed, “I cover it up with make-up, you idiot.”              

“Oh.” Louis pouted, “Why?”

Harry shrugged, “why do you sound like a fourteen year old boy hitting puberty?”

“Oh,” Louis touched his chest, offended. “How specific.”          

Harry stopped at a light, looking at the tattoos covering his arms. “I’ll let you know when you let me know.”          

Louis looked away, “kay.” He really didn’t want to tell Harry why his voice was so stupid. He didn’t want to tell him that Louis was a ‘disabled child –disabled person’. Louis hated it. Every time he went to therapy it was in a disabled persons building and it slapped him in the face with the realization that he was one.

“How late can you be out?”

“I’m twenty-four,” Louis chuckled. “As late as I want.”             

“I still don’t believe it.” 

 “I have an I.D.”              

“S’probably fake.” Harry smiled at him, getting onto the highway. “Tell me about yourself in six words.”

 “Why six?”

 “It’s my favorite number.” Harry grinned, “Six words, go.”

Louis lifted his thumb, “soft, nice, dog-walker, shy, quiet, patient.”

“That was seven.” Harry’s smile could cut glass.

Louis bit his lip, “seven’s my favorite number.” He caught Harry’s eyes momentarily. “Seven words, go.”

“Quiet, chorus teacher, private, patient, convict.”

Louis licked his lips, “that’s six.”

“Sweet,” Harry finished.

Louis blushed at his window. “Convict.”

“Quiet.”

Louis shook off his nervousness. “Why are you a convict?”

“Why are you quiet?”

Louis couldn’t help but smile, he played with the small rip in his jeans. He brought one knee to his body and laid his head on it as they drove past a row of lights. “Patient.”

“Patient.”

Chapter Text

 

The house was nice, the yard was beautiful, and he could see yellow flowers covering the large bushes. There was a white picket fence that looked like it was just painted. There was loud music coming from outside of the house just before they could walk up to it.

No, everything was fine. Aside from the ridiculous number of stares he received beside Harry. Aside from the two people tonguing on the porch –right in the doorway, aside from the group of very large men playing a very bloody looking tackle football on the beautiful lawn. Aside from the girls on the grass literally snorting cocaine in front of him –in front of everyone. Yeah, just fine.

The inside was beautiful, and he appreciated that Harry kept a hand on the small of his back. The inside had gorgeous furniture and Louis is a hundred percent sure he just watched a cop walk out counting cash.

“You good?” Harry’s mouth was practically pressed against his ear.

He shuddered at a stare he got from a girl on the stairs. It wasn’t a bad one, she was smiling, but she was bleeding from the corner of her head. He nodded, “yeah.”

“Good.”

Louis crossed his index and middle finger tightly, thanking God Harry could hear him with this loud music blaring.

“We’re going to the back of the house, okay?”

“Okay.” Louis was sure Harry didn’t hear that, but the small squeeze on his arm every few seconds kept him breathing. The house was extremely smoky, he could see people, but he wasn’t sure they could see him. Louis smiled at the group of people dancing in what seemed to be the living room. They looked like they were having a great time, Louis liked dancing.

He moved his hips a little, looking back at a girl who smiled at him. Louis waved awkwardly, with Harry ushering him along. Louis looked around as soon as they went outside. There were less people back here, or maybe it was just more contained. There was a group of four playing dominoes, another group playing cards and a few girls lingered around.

“Hazza!” Louis jumped slightly in Harry’s grip. Harry kept a loose arm slung around Louis’ tense shoulders until his friend came closer. “You came, man!”

Harry shifted away from Louis to clap hands with the man. “Happy Birthday.”

“Thank you, bro, thank you!” Harry’s brother, Louis assumed, was so fucking happy to see Harry. As if he hadn’t seen him in years. Louis cleared his throat as the attention was thrown on him like a hundred bricks. “Hi.”

Louis smiled uncomfortably, he was so fucking uncomfortable. “Hi,” He spoke slowly. “I’m Louis.”

“What?” The guy came closer, “Louis?”

Louis nodded, “Yes!”

“Hi, Louis!” He grabbed Louis’ hand and shook it. “I’m Cory.” There was no way in hell Cory was Harry’s brother –blood related brother, no way. As soon as the man pulled off his sunglasses, that Louis could not understand why he was wearing –because it was obviously night time, he knew. Cory was Asian, Harry and him looked nothing alike.

“Hi, Cory.” Louis liked him, he was nice. He also thought Harry was nice and if Harry hadn’t seen his ‘nice brother’ in so long, then one of them weren’t too nice.

“You guys just got here?”

“Yeah,” Harry spoke up. “I met Louis a few days ago so I asked if he wanted to come.”

“Yeah, man!” Cory was obviously drunk and that was fine, it was his birthday and Louis was sure that everyone at this party was drunk or high –both. “Please have a drink. There’s a bartender in the kitchen or ya’ll could have some beers outside! You know how to play dominoes, Louis?”

“Uh –uh,” Louis stuttered, his hands pulling at his clothes, “n –no, I don’t.”

“Harry!” A girl –the same girl from inside, wrapped two hands around Harry.

“Nicki.”

Louis smiled as she came into view. He giggled softly, she was like a fire cracker. She didn’t stop talking, Louis couldn’t even understand her, but Harry seemed to. She was so little too.

“I missed you! I missed you, Hazza!” She hugged him again, “Yee! You’re actually here!”

Cory nudged him, “That’s Nicki, our cousin. No worries.” Louis let his jaw slack a little because, no. Nicki is black, Cory is Asian, and Harry is white. Louis looked around briefly, was everyone here related? Because Louis felt like he was intruding on a really big family gathering.

He watched Harry indulge in every word the girl uttered. Nicki looked so happy and Harry seemed happy. Louis chewed on the inside of his cheek, Harry had to be adopted; there was no other way –someone was adopted. So, Louis made a mental check list of things he was learning about Harry.

She poked at Louis softly, bringing him from his thoughts. “Hello, hello.”

“Oh, hello!”

“Hi!” She was screaming. “What’s your name?”

“His name is Louis.” Harry answered as Cory swung a hand over his shoulder.

“Hi, Louis!” Louis couldn’t even tell if she was drunk or not. “I’m Nicki!”

“He knows, Nicki.” Cory laughed into Harry’s shoulder. “She’s going to scare him away, Haz, you better get her.”

“Nicki, Nicki.” Harry tried grabbing onto her arms. “Hey, calm down.”

“Wanna dance?” She asked quickly, shoving off her cousin. “Come on, I saw you looking.”

Louis blushed bright red and looked at Harry. He did want to dance, Louis loved music –any music, he loved it. “Um –um, yes?”

“Oh yeah!” She began tugging him until Harry caught ahold of his hand.

“Nicki, he is mine, shoo.” Louis’ face collapsed. His. He almost started smiling but instead Louis kept his head down because Cory had been staring at him for the duration of time that they were together.

“He said he wanted to dance!”

Harry slapped her hand away and grasped one of Louis’ wrist, “aye, you wanna dance –for real? You don’t have to.”

Louis licked his lips and nodded, “I want to.”

“You sure?”

“Yes.”

“Okay. I’ll be out here. I’ll come and get you after, kay?”

“Yes, Harry.”

Harry smirked, shoving him towards Nicki softly –so softly. Louis could feel Harry’s finger tips lingering on his skin during the thick heat outside.

“Yay!” Nicki punched Cory’s arm. “He’s coming!” She grabbed Louis and hauled him away. Harry stood up straight, making sure Louis got in the house and wasn’t dragged somewhere else.

Cory slapped his stomach, “He’ll be fine, lover boy. Come on.” Harry followed his brother across the back yard, grabbing two beers before sitting on two lawn chairs.

Harry crossed one ankle over the other, “the house is looking real nice, Core.”

“I took good care of it,” He shrugged popping the top off his beer. “I mean, we could kick some people out and it’d look nicer.”

Harry nodded, taking the cap off his beer, taking a long swig. “How are you, Cory?”

“As good as I can be, baby.” It was quiet for a while. He pointed his beer at the house. “Who’s that boy, Harry?”

“He spilled a drink on me while walking some dogs.” Harry shook his head at the memory. “On my three-hundred-dollar book.”

“Jesus.”

“Yep.”

“And now you’re hanging out with him? Cause if someone robbed me of three hundred, I would have killed them.”

Harry shrugged, “he came up to me and pretended to faint so I would talk to him.” He chuckled at the thought, “And bought me a popsicle.”

“A fool.”

“I told him, most people would be scared.” He looked at the house, “Not him.”

“He likes you then?”

“Yeah,” Harry scrunched up his nose. “I think so.”

“You like him?”

“I don’t know yet.” He sipped on his beer, lips pressed to the top of the bottle. “I might.” Harry tapped his bottle against the chair. “I think he’s scared of me.”

“Scared?” Cory sat up, “what’d you do?”

“Nothing, nothing. He just saw my tear drop and asked if I killed someone.” Cory leaned forward laughing. “I swear, no hesitation –like it’s the most normal thing in the world.”

“Oh God.” His brother covered his eyes with his arm. “That’s incredible, he has some balls.”

“Yep.”

“You told him you didn’t?”

Harry shrugged, “Nah.”

-

Dancing was nice because no one was talking. Everyone either held each other or held themselves. It was all about rhythm, no reason to utter a sound. The music made all the noise, it made up for the voices.

“Hey!” Harry grabbed ahold of his sides. “You okay?”

Louis smiled at the contact of Harry’s cool skin against his flushed one. Louis was hot, with the smoke and lack of air conditioning, it was hot. He turned around bopping his head from left to right. “Yes!”

“You okay?”

“Yes!”

Harry laughed, “Did you drink?”

“No!” Louis grabbed Harry’s hands and shook him. “I love dancing!”

“That’s good.” He wiped Louis’ sweaty hair from his forehead. “Let’s get you water before you dehydrate.”

“Okay!” Louis’ throat was going to hurt later, he needed to stop screaming. Harry didn’t need him to scream.

Harry pulled him away from the bodies that continued dancing. He held tightly onto Harry’s arm, having lost Nicki a little bit ago after she said she had to use the bathroom. He wanted to go outside for a little.

Harry pulled him back outside and to two lawn chairs by a very large tree. Harry sat Louis down and lifted both hands at him, “be right back.” He jogged away and Louis laid back comfortably. A heavy gust of wind passed right over him and Louis almost moaned at the feeling.

“Hey,” Harry laid the cold bottle on his stomach. “Don’t make that face.”

“Mm,” Louis rubbed the cold-water bottle over his face and arms. “What face?”

“You look like you’re getting fucked.”

Louis sat up and opened his bottle quietly. “This feels way better than having sex.”

Harry snorted, “You clearly haven’t had sex with the right person.” He sat down at the end of Louis’ chair.

Louis chugged down the bottle gratefully. “Guess not.”

Harry smirked, “you seem more confident.”

“Nicki is really nice.” Louis smiled, crossing his legs. “She is your cousin by blood?”

“No.” Harry chuckled, “neither is my brother, which I’m sure was question two.”

Louis shrugged, “question two was why you haven’t talked to them in so long.”

“Reasons.”

He smiled, “it’s okay.” The smaller male closed his eyes briefly as another cool wind washed over the two. “Patient.”

“Patient,” Harry repeated.

“Are they going to cut the cake soon?”

“Ha,” Harry laughed, shoving Louis’ knee playfully. “My brother in twenty-nine years old. What the hell is a cake?”

“Um,” Louis opened his eyes with a pout. “You blow out candles on it.”

“Louis, I know what the hell a cake is, but no one is going to cut a damn cake. Getting drunk, that’s cake.”

Louis twisted his mouth, “cake tastes a lot better than alcohol.”

Harry laughed hunched forward, Louis laughed too. Harry laughed so loud, Louis wondered if it was because he was not in public or because he normally laughed this loud. He leaned forward a little, catching Harry’s eyes shut tight, hand wrapped around his stomach, making the sweetest sounds and lingering giggles float around them. The boy was no doubt, the hottest –most beautiful boy Louis had ever encountered. What in the hell was he even doing here?

“Oh, man.” Harry flicked a tear from under his eye. “You’re kind of funny.”

“Eh, my brother wouldn’t agree.”

“Oh,” Harry licked his lips, “you have a brother?”

“Yeah, step brother.” Louis scratched under his chin, “He’s really nice.”

“Anything like you?”

Louis shook his head no. “The furthest from me in every way.”

“Ooh, that could be a bad thing.”

Louis smiled, placing his half empty water bottle in between his thighs. “He’s nice.”

-

“Birthday boy! Birthday boy!”

Louis and Harry sat far away when too many people flooded the back yard all at once. They had to have been talking for at least an hour and in that hour, thirteen people came over to pull Harry away. Louis was grateful that he denied each one of their attempts.

In that time, Louis had added a few more fun facts to Harry’s check list. This was Harry’s mother’s house. Cory had held onto it after she passed away. Harry was adopted and Cory was adopted, both from the same foster home when Harry was six. Harry lived here until he was sixteen and then left –Louis wasn’t sure why, Harry said he loved his childhood. He came back when he was twenty-two and moved to Long Beach, about an hour drive from his mother’s house, and stayed away from his family for a long time –Louis wasn’t sure why about that either.

“It’s late.” Harry looked away from the group that chanted for his brother. “Wanna go?”

Louis pouted, “Don’t you want to stay for your brother? They look like they’re about to sing.”

“Nah,” Harry shook his head. “We can go if you want. Everyone’s fucked up and it’s gunna start getting stupid.”

Louis shrugged softly, “I’ll leave if you leave.”

Harry grinned, “oh really? Because we didn’t come here together or anything.”

Louis giggled, “Sorry.”

Harry stood up. “Let’s go, I don’t think I wanna stick around for the aftermath of this.” He reached out to help Louis out of the chair. Harry stayed behind Louis, keeping a hand on his lower back just like when they first got there. They tried their best to slide past people, everyone was jumping around, and Louis was sure someone was vomiting next to the couch. He kept his head down, keeping an eye on his shoes.

Nicki was screaming for them as soon as they stepped out of the house.

“Hey!” She crossed her arms, leaning to the left a little too much. “-fucking serious, Harry?” Poor thing was slurring.

“Nicki.” Harry grinned, walking back up the steps to hug her.

“Are you really fucking leaving without saying bye –no, no!” She slapped his hands away. “Hazza, come on. We don’t know when we’re ever gunna fucking see you again –say bye to Cory, Harry!”

Harry couldn’t get two words in. Louis watched carefully. Nicki was frowning hard at whatever Harry was whispering to her. “He is your brother, Harry! It’s his fucking birthday!”

“Nicki, he’s twenty-nine, Jesus! He’ll be fine.” Harry backed up, “go inside.”

“Harry!”

“Go inside, Nicki!” Harry grabbed Louis’ arm, tugging him backwards. “Now, you’re drunk, I want you inside.”

“Say bye!”

“Bye!” Harry sounded angry but the hold on Louis’ arm was so soft, he couldn’t have been. “I’ll call him tomorrow!”

She crossed her arms, swaying softly. “Don’t bother.” The drunk girl turned on her heel finally allowing them to leave.

Harry shook his head on the way to his car. “Seesh.”

“You should have at least said bye, Harry.”

“Cory won’t even remember me saying bye.” Harry sighed, “They are so drunk I don’t think they even remember whose birthday it is.”

Louis rubbed his arm as they walked to the car that was parked further down the road. “Tell me more about you.”

“Oh, no.” Harry wiggled his finger. “I’ve talked about myself all night. Your turn.”

“What do you want me to say?”

“Your brother, what’s he like?”

“Um, he’s blonde –beautiful, he loves decorating and cooking. He owns a hair salon, he has a boyfriend –Zayn.” Louis watched every step he made, “Zayn’s a lawyer, he’s really cool. Niall is also really protective, worse than my mother.”

“Okay, what’s your mom like?”

“Uh, different from me –she’s nice, at times.” Louis played with his pocket. “Very protective.”

“Eh, not always a bad thing.”

“In her case it is.” Louis looked around at the houses. All of them were really beautiful, Harry was lucky to have grown up around here. “My brother wants to buy me my own place but I’m really bad at accepting help.”

“Why?”

Louis looked over at Harry who was staring at him. “I needed a lot of it when I was younger.” He looked away, “I don’t want it now.”

“We all need help eventually.” Harry unlocked his car from afar. “Does you being quiet have anything to do with you needing help?”

Louis looked at him from over the roof of the car, “unfortunately.”

Harry put his arms on top of the car, head sitting on them. “Do you think needing help makes you weak?”

“Yeah.” He frowned, nose creased, “I do –that’s bad, huh?”

“Yeah, it’s kinda bad.”

Louis cursed at himself, “Dammit, I know. I hate it.”

“Sometimes not asking for help, helps the person,” Harry offered. “You seem fine to me.”

“Thank you.” Louis laid his head on the car, “You seem fine to me too.”

“Thanks, Louis.”

Louis walked around the car, scooting onto the hood. “I have this countdown in my head –and I completely understand if you think it’s weird.” Harry joined him. “Twenty. It’s always the limit, you know? It’s my limit. Nothing for me last more than twenty –twenty days, twenty seconds. I mean, hours and years are a bit much but normally nothing really good happens after twenty.”

Louis laid on the cool windshield glass. “It was the only number I could count to without stopping to catch my breath when I was younger.” Louis’ throat was starting to feel sore and none of his words were coming out properly, Harry didn’t seem to mind. “It was really frustrating and then I started realizing, nothing good came after twenty. Because as soon I could feel it happening, my countdown would start and boom, nineteen –six, ten.” Louis licked his lips, “But you,” He paused, not wanting his voice to crack. “You went way passed twenty.”

“What’s that mean?”

“I have no idea.”

“Great.”

“I’ve never gotten this f–” He cleared his throat before looking away. “My throat hurts, sorry.”

Harry climbed off the car, holding out his hand, “It’s cool. We can have a long –quiet, car ride.”

Chapter Text

“I don’t know if I told you yet,” Harry unlocked his door. “Thank you for coming with me.”

The car ride had been in complete silence, Louis almost felt bad. Harry played some nice piano music, Louis fell asleep at least twice. He really didn’t want to go home for two reasons, his mom was going to give him shit about going out without actually giving him shit. She’d do the; ‘oh, I wished you’d at least tell me. You don’t have to tell me where but I was really worried’ –blah blah blah. And number two, he had a therapy session tomorrow morning, if Louis wasn’t home then –what therapy session?

Louis hummed softly, he signed you’re welcome at Harry’s back, shaking his head because what the hell was he doing. “Welcome.” He spoke low, “I actually had a lot of fun.”

Harry smirked, “I saw that, little dancer.”

Harry was the one to ask if Louis wanted to sleep over or go home. Louis didn’t hesitate when he said he wanted to sleep over. He hadn’t slept over anyone’s place since his brother’s, which doesn’t count. This was going to be nice, Harry lived in an efficiency attached to someone’s house. The teacher warned him that it wasn’t that big, but Louis would rather take a fucking shoe box than have to go home.

Louis had no doubt that he was going to love Harry’s place and never want to leave –and he was fucking right. Because as soon as the three-legged beauty trotted up to them, Louis fell in love.

“Oh my God, you don’t have a dog right now.” Louis bent down slowly. “Holy shit, you have a dog.”

Harry closed the door behind him and hung up his keys. “I do have a dog.” He petted her briefly while Louis ogled the large dog. “Her name is Petal.”

“Ooh,” Louis scratched under her chin. “She’s so sweet. She’s missing a leg?”

“Yeah, I got her a few years ago, when she was a puppy.” Harry yawned, chucking off his shoes. “She was missing a leg and no one wanted her, she was sweet so I took her.”

“Aw, hello –hello Petal. I’m Louis.” Louis looked up at Harry, beaming. “Why don’t you ever take her to the park? She’d have so much fun with my dogs.”

“She,” Harry thought of the right word to say. “Is very scared? So when I do take her out it’s early. She doesn’t bite or anything but she freezes up and starts crying when there’s too much going on.”

“Oh.” Louis allowed the dog to lick him, “Hm, I like her.”

Harry smiled, falling onto his couch. “She likes you.”

Petal hurried away from Louis to sit beside her owner. “Hey,” He scratched her head. “How are you, sweetheart?”

Louis watched the scene endearingly. Harry clearly loved his dog, and Louis loved dogs, and Louis really loved that Harry loved his dog. Things were going too well.

Louis shuffled over, sitting beside Petal on the floor. “I’m probably only going to play with your dog the whole time I’m here.”

Harry smiled softly, “do what you want, she’ll love it.”

“She’s a purebred Pitbull?”

“Yeah.” Harry yawned, “She is.”

“She’s so beautiful.”

“Thank you.” Harry sat up, letting Petal on his quilt covered couch. “You’re hungry?” He rubbed his stomach, “I’m hungry.”

“I could eat something.”

“I have a waffle maker.”

Louis squinted, “I would fucking love some waffles.”

Harry smirked, tussling Louis’ hair, “waffles it is.”

Louis sat there for a while, staring at Petal, because how could this get any better? Harry had a Pitbull, Louis’ favorite dog –scratch that, Harry had a dog, that’s enough. Harry didn’t just have a dog, he loved his dog and he picked her when no one else would. That meant Harry was even sweeter than Louis could have imagined and, under Harry’s list of seven, he could check off sweet because Harry hadn’t lied lying.

Louis kissed Petal’s before going to the kitchen, running back to kiss her head once more. He backed away slowly, “you’re so beautiful, puppy.” He clapped his hands together happily before skipping to Harry’s very narrow, very small kitchen. Louis voted to just stand outside.

“If you want something to drink, I have some drinks.”

“Lemonade?”

“No, you like lemonade?”

“Love it.” He touched his chin, “Juice?”

“I have mango juice?”

“Yum.”

“Go on,” Harry motioned to the fridge while pulling out the waffle maker. “I wouldn’t have invited you in if I didn’t want you to feel at home.”

Louis blushed, opening the fridge. Harry didn’t have much food but Harry was eating for one so that was okay. He picked up the pitcher that he assumed was mango juice. “Did you make it yourself?”

“Yeah.” Harry opened a cabinet, “Where is my pancake mix?

“Yum.” Louis looked around the tight kitchen, “Cup?”

“Cabinet.” Harry pointed up, still searching for the mix.

“You know,” Louis started, “I can’t get over that you have so many tattoos.”

“Found it,” Harry slammed it on the counter. “What about my tattoos?”

“You have a lot.” Louis placed down the mug that had a cartoon duck on it. “And I know the Harry with none, so it’s weird.”

Harry scrunched his eyebrows together at the waffle maker, “I normally put make-up on or wear long shirts.”

“You must have a lot of makeup then.” Louis sipped his mango juice, “it’s good.”

“Thank –you.” Harry finally plugged in the machine, “Jesus, that was complicated. –I do have a lot of cover up.” He chuckled, “I use costume cover up, if not I’d be spending a fortune on make-up.”

Louis nodded, cup to his lips. “Do you cover up because of the kids you teach?”

“Uh,” Harry pulled a bowl from the top cabinet. “Yes, I do. Most parents don’t want a tattooed convict teaching their kids.”

“I think they wouldn’t mind.” Louis shrugged, lowering his voice, “Maybe the one on your face would be a problem.”

“I got it when I was younger.” Louis wanted to shuffle closer but the kitchen was too small for two people. “I went to jail and ended up joining a gang.” He poured some of the mix in a bowl. “I was young and stupid, so I let them tattoo my face.”

“So,” Louis did come closer. “You didn’t kill anyone?”

“Nah –almost –a few times.”

Louis clammed up, leaning by the small sink. He took a deep breath, “Why?”

“I was young and stupid, Louis.” Harry looked at him, “And I was underground fighting.” He smiled sadly, “I was making a lot of money until the cops showed up.”

Louis boosted himself up on the counter, clutching his cup tightly. “How long were you in jail for?”

“Sixteen to twenty-two –so, roughly, six years.”

“Six years!” Louis set his glass down, “what? For underground fighting?”

“And,” Harry poured water in with the mix. “Drug smuggling –I was in high school. The cops knew but also had no proof. Someone snitched me out.” Harry shook his head, disappointed. “Told them I was doing underground fighting and it all went downhill.”

“Wow.” Louis pressed his lips together and all he could think about was Zayn. Louis still liked Harry, he probably liked Harry even more than before. “Why’d you join a gang?”

“Just so I wouldn’t get killed.” Harry faced Louis while mixing the batter, “I punched a guard in the mouth and received an extra sentence, which ended up dropping because the guard was caught sleeping with an inmate.”

“Wow, you lived a crazy life. –The most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me was when I ate a bug –by accident!”

Harry laughed, it was loud, and he had to set down the bowl to hold onto the counter. Louis’ laugh had always been small –like a stupid little giggle. Harry’s laugh echoed, it roared and created vibrations through Louis’ spine.

“That’s funny, I’m sorry,” the teacher groaned, rubbing his side. “Alright, well now you know about my face.” Harry spooned some batter on the sizzling waffle maker. “Your turn.”

“Wait,” Louis picked up his glass, “I have more questions.”

“No, no.” Harry flicked the spoon at him, “Your turn.”

Louis sighed, setting down his drink. “I don’t know with what luck that my voice is behaving right now.” He pouted, “So don’t call me a faker.” Harry looked confused but listened, Louis was grateful.

“I was born mute.” Louis signed as he spoke. “I went to therapy and it was at seven years old that my voice seemed to start developing? It was weird.” Louis lifted three fingers and made a clawing motion. “I went to therapy every day, every single day for hours. I never wanted to leave because I wanted to speak.” He shrugged, “It wasn’t until I was thirteen? A girl punched me, I didn’t know how to express myself properly –I tend to touch.” Louis laid out his hand, palm down and rubbed his middle finger against the top of his hand. “I didn’t want to do therapy anymore. I was ‘disabled’, I didn’t want to be so I stopped going.”

Harry licked his lips, turning around only to remove the waffle. “You don’t go now?”

“No.” Louis rolled his eyes, “My mom begs me, my brother wants to strangle me because he pays for it.”

“Hm.” Harry laid down another layer of batter. “Quiet, check.”

Louis smiled into his glass, “Sweet, check.”

Harry snickered, “here.” He handed him the plate with the large waffle on it. “There’s syrup in the cabinet.”

“Thanks.” Louis slid off the counter, “Can I ask one more question since we practically know each other’s life stories?”

“Sure.”

Louis tilted his head to the side, “Why don’t you like your brother?” Harry wanted to have a staring contest, and Louis could win if he really wanted to, but he decided it wasn’t the time so he forfeited. “Where’s the syrup again?”

Harry pointed at the small cabinet.

“Thank you.” Louis smiled, trying to brush away the thick air. “I can eat way more than one flimsy waffle, just so you know.” He toed out of the kitchen, “I expect more.” The only thing keeping him standing was Harry’s laugh.

Chapter Text

 

   

“My mom was the best.”

They had been talking for a while –Louis ate six waffles. The waffles were delicious and Harry found blueberries on the third batch so it got even better. “Sweet, loving, beautiful. She was hilarious,” Harry smiled. “I couldn’t have asked for anyone better.”

Louis chewed on his lip, syrupy plate rested on his leg. “How’d she die?”

“Life took her.” That was the end of that.

“So, how did you get into teaching chorus?”

“It’s really hard to get a job when you come out of jail.” Harry ate the last bite of his waffle. “I cleaned houses, I worked on roofs for a while. When I got enough money together I rented out that little room by the park and started chorus lessons.”

“That’s amazing.” Louis set his plate on the small table that held a lamp. “Can you sing?”

“No, of course I can’t sing, I’m a chorus teacher.”

Louis deadpanned, “you should add, slick asshole, to your list.”

Harry shoved Louis’ softly. “I’ll look into it. –of course, I can sing.”

Louis grinned, “Can you sing for me?”

“I’ve went on five dates in the last couple of years and all five people asked me if I’d sing to them.”

Louis covered his smile. “Did you?”

“No.” Harry lips were pulling up into a grin, “And I won’t.”

“Aw,” Louis laid his head back. “I was so close.”

“You wish you were.”

“Harry?” Louis started. “I think I know why you can hear me. I think it’s because you’re a chorus teacher.”

“Eh, probably. I listen to pitches.”

“It’s nice.” Louis mumbled, curling into the soft couch. “I can whisper, and you still hear me.”

“What?”

Louis kicked him playfully, “slick asshole, look into it.”

“Will do.” Harry laughed, patting the couch for Petal to jump on. Louis stroked her softly, it felt nice. He didn’t have a dog, although he loved them.

“You don’t have a dog?”

“No.” He sighed when Petal laid her head on his lap. “I can’t even take care of myself.” He nuzzled his face against hers. “How can I take care of such a precious puppy, hm? How can I do that, sweet baby?”

“You look really happy.”

Louis lifted his face, “I am. I love your dog. I love that she’s missing a leg and that you took her in. I love it all.” He kissed her head and, if she was a cat, she would have been purring her face off.

Harry chewed on his nail, “when I came out of jail, I went home.” Harry’s face was screwed into a ball of confusion –anger. “When I went home,” he almost looked like he couldn’t remember what happened. His words were coming out short and strangled. “When I went home, my brother was playing on his console with a few of his friends. –I was released early for ‘good behavior’ and sentenced to like a year of community service while on probation, it was awful. I could have just stayed in jail, you know?” Louis didn’t but he nodded.

“Well, I walked inside, and it looked the same but also nothing like my mother’s house. It smelled nothing like her house, there were drugs on the table and cash on the floor, so I was pretty sure my mother wasn’t home.” Louis' eyes were drooping because he didn’t really want to know where the story was headed. “I got high fives and hugs and my brother was in tears and so happy to see me –mind you, he saw me a year before I got out.”

Harry licked his lips, a hurt smile on his face. “First question, where’s mom? Where is my mother? Second question, how did she die? Third question, when did she fucking die?” Harry laughed at the memory. “It was as if the world knew something that I didn’t. It was stupid, like if it didn’t matter? – ‘oh, her –our mother? –she died. Someone came in the house and shot her because I owed them money. Oh, she died two years ago, and I failed to mention it the last time I saw you. –oh, what? She stopped visiting you, how did you not notice?’”

“Oh.” Louis leaned forward. “Oh.” He said again like it was going to heal some damage. He grabbed a hold of Harry’s hand, “Oh my God.” He brought the hand to his chest, “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.”

Harry allowed his hand to be cradled. “That’s why I hate my brother. He is my brother though, and my mom always told us to protect one another.” He massaged his dog with his free hand. “I forgave him. He was on drugs when all of that happened, but it doesn’t change that I can stand him. So when the family asks me why I’m not around or why I don’t come around I just kinda,” he shrugged. “Because if not then I’m a liar –I didn’t actually forgive -forget.”

“He lied too, Harry.” Louis scooted beside him, forcing Petal to sit where he had been. “That’s a lot, Harry.”

“Well, now you know it all.”

“Thank you for telling a stranger. I appreciate it.”

“Thank you for telling a stranger your story.” Harry bopped Louis on the nose, “I appreciate it.”

Louis nuzzled into his side and kept their hands entangled. “I’m sorry I destroyed your book.”

“Eh, let’s never talk about that again.”

Louis laughed but stopped. “Harry, please tell me you’re gay.”

“Can I call myself bisexual?”

“As long as you like me too, I don’t really care.”

“I do, I also think this is moving really fast.”

Louis bit his bottom lip, “bad?”

“No actually.” Harry laid his head on top Louis’, “really good.” He grabbed Louis’ legs and laid them across his own, humming to himself, “soft, check.”

Chapter Text

         

Louis tended to ‘sleep in’, or like his mother and brother called it; ‘fucking laze around instead of getting a real job.’ Louis enjoyed sleep. If humans weren’t supposed to sleep for fourteen hours, then why could they?

When Louis was woken up before ten o’clock in the morning, he knew it. Before seeing the sun or even opening his eyes, Louis just knew it. He also knew what time it probably was, for the most part. Louis didn’t need to open his eyes to know that it was way too early to be awake. He also knew that he was super fucking uncomfortable. He also, somewhat, remembered saying something along the lines of; “no worries, Harry. I can take the couch –no need to pull out the couch bed.”

Louis wasn’t woken up by an actual hand shaking him. He could hear pattering of dog feet trotting from one side of the room to the other. He’d slept with Bucky in his room before, it was fine. What woke him up was the singing –humming?

Louis opened one eye. He wanted to sit up, but he also wanted to pretend he was still asleep so he wouldn’t have to. Louis eventually did though and it was a mistake because Petal came right up to him, nuzzling him and panting excitedly. Louis loved dogs, he absolutely loved them –but they brought a lot of attention on themselves.

“Oh, hey.” Harry was forking something in a small bowl. “You’re awake.”

Louis was not awake but because Petal found him awake, he was awake. He smiled, clearing his throat, “hey.” He covered his yawn, rubbing his neck. “Good morning?” It was probably morning.

“Good morning.” Harry leaned against his living room wall, forking away. “Hungry?”

“Always,” Louis smiled. His airways were being kind to him. He used the bathroom in the middle of the night and drank some water from the sink. If not, his voice would be too cracked to speak.

“I’m making an omelet?” It was a question.

“Sounds delicious, thank you.” Louis smiled down at the dog that held his attention. He scratched just below her head, pressing his face against hers. “And good morning to you, Petal.” He kissed her nose, “How’d you sleep, precious?”

Harry smirked, “I slept fine, thank you.”

Louis blushed a soft red, “Sorry.” He giggled, standing up, “How’d you sleep, Harry?”

“Fine, Louis, thanks. Yourself?”

“Amazing,” Louis lied. “Your couch is really comfy.”

“Really?” Harry shrugged softly, “I fell asleep on it once and I had the worst knot in my neck for like a week.”

Lovely.

“What –what, uh, time is it?” Louis licked his lips, “You’re all dressed to go out it looks.” Harry was dressed in a long sleeve and beige pants. He had socks on, they were two different colors and his hair was pulled up into a tight bun. Louis could only see two small tattoos peeking out from Harry’s low shirt. The one on his face almost threw Louis for a loop. Harry had an actual tattoo on his face. Right there, on his face. “Jesus, your tattoos are real.”

Harry’s eyes grew comically. “Wow, thank you. They are.”

“Sarcasm.”

“So much of it.”

“Eh,” Louis rubbed Petal tenderly. “Just not used to it yet.”

“Its five-twenty, I think.”

He said it as if it was okay. As if it was a normal time. As if five was too early but five-twenty was just late enough to be deemed anything less than appalling.

Five-twenty.

Louis knew it was early, not five-twenty early. He suddenly began pondering the night before. Harry had been wearing a short sleeve, so he actually changed clothes –probably even had a shower. He wondered how long Harry took in the shower, maybe ten minutes. Because in Louis’ head it added up to Harry being awake since four thirty –in the morning. And if that wasn’t enough to make a sane person gag, Harry was fully dressed as if someone’s actual day started at five-twenty in the morning.

“Louis, are you just going to stand there and look behind me?” Harry laughed, “Because you look like you're seeing fucking demons, if I’m honest.” Louis could only see one and he had one green sock and one white sock on.

“Why is it five-twenty?” Was all Louis could manage.

“Why?” Harry laughed, waving a hand to the kitchen. Louis followed, Petal hot on his trail. “It is five-twenty because the earth says so.”

Louis rubbed his eyes, feeling the small boogies break away. “Yeah,” He scratched his throat softly. “I mean –it’s five in the morning, why are you awake at five in the morning?”

“I always wake up at four.” Harry poured his omelet mixture into the sizzling frying pan. “Since I was in jail.” Louis made a funny noise in his throat catching Harry’s attention. The chorus teacher laughed awkwardly, “What the hell was that?”

“Eh,” Louis’ shoulders rose. “I feel a little disgusted.”

Harry’s mouth pulled up into a grin, “disgusted?”

“Mm,” Louis cringed. “It’s five in the morning.” He hugged the wall, “You wake up at four in the morning every day.”

“Yes.” Harry shook the frying pan. “Everyday.”

Louis made the sound again. Harry pulled a face, grimacing with a small smile. “You’re making me not wanna eat.”

“No one should eat at five in the morning.” Louis shook his head, “It’s still nighttime.”

“Shut up.” Harry chuckled flipping his omelet, “I just got used to it.”

“I guess.” Louis toed into the kitchen. “Can I sit on your counter?”

“Do you normally sit on the counter at your house?”

“Yeah.” Louis yawned, “I get yelled at, but I still do.”

Harry nudged the omelet softly. “Like I said last night, I wouldn’t have invited you if I didn’t want you to make yourself at home.”

Louis took a deep breath, “does that mean I can, because I do a lot of things at home that I shouldn’t?”

Harry held his bottom lip in his teeth. He kept his eyes on Louis, halfway on the counter, instead of on his omelet. “Do whatever you want, Louis.”

Louis giggled, bouncing onto the cold counter top, “yay.”

“Yay.” Harry smiled, grabbing a white plate from his cabinet. “I didn’t want to bring it up but,” Harry slid the colorful omelet on the plate. “You’re voice sounds really rough.”

Louis stared at the food, really wanting it suddenly. “Yeah?”

Harry nudged him with his white sock covered foot. “Yeah, you listening?”

“Yeah.” Louis sneezed, “Oof –I was listening. I think my voice is doing good actually. I’m pleasantly surprised.”

“Bless you, and yeah?” Harry cut the large omelet in half, taking two forks from the drawer and bringing the plate closer to Louis. “It sounds worse than last night. It’s not cracking as much but it sounds like you lost your voice or something.”

Louis picked the fork closest to him, noticing they were two different forks. Both metal, but different designs. “Did you buy both of these?”

“What?” Harry brought a piece to his mouth. “You flip conversations a lot.”

Louis played with the fork, “They are two different forks. Did you buy them together?”

“No.” Harry licked his fork, putting it next to Louis’. “I don’t remember buying any of my utensils. I think they were given to me.”

“Do you think they bought them together?”

Harry shrugged, “probably not.” He cut himself another piece. “They are different.”

“Hm, you’re right –it would be cool though.” Louis took a big bite of the food, “If they did.” He chewed, “Then the company who made the forks messed up big time, huh?”

Harry watched him quietly, nodding once. “Yeah.” He set his fork down and crossed his arms. “You think a lot.”

“Is that a question?”

“No.” Harry licked his lips. “It’s a statement.”

Louis ran the fork’s points over his bottom lip. “I think way too much for my own good –about everything.”

“Like?”

“Like why your socks are miss-matched. Your house is really clean, but I think your head is a little messy.” Louis stuck his lip out, “Probably do it on purpose.”

“My socks?”

“Yeah, because you were in jail and you probably only had one outfit. Never really got to pick your own stuff.” Louis picked up a piece of omelet with his finger this time. “Probably why. If not, then you just couldn’t find the other pair and I’m over thinking it.”

Harry stood, stunned and a little irritated. He opened his mouth twice and Louis didn’t even look up from the food on the counter. “I wore miss-matched socks because I couldn’t find its pair.”

“I was wrong then.” He finally looked at Harry, his blue eyes a tint of pink –clearly tired. “Sorry.”

Harry snorted, “I couldn’t find its pair because I purposely lose it.” He picked up his fork, “You weren’t completely wrong.”

Louis stuck the fork between his thighs and snapped two thumbs at Harry. “Yay.”

“Yay,” Harry copied, stabbing a piece of omelet. “You’re eating it all. Half was for me, you know.”

“You weren’t eating.” Louis set his fork down, “the rest is yours –sorry.”

“You liked it?”

“Oh yeah.” Louis held up a hand, “It was amazing.”

Harry high-fived him. “You seem so enthusiastic.” He chewed, “That’s sarcasm.”

“I know it is.” Louis yawned with a stretch. “Mmm –that was really good. Who taught you how to cook?”

“My mom.”

“Well,” Louis rubbed his belly. “Tell her I say thank you.”

Harry pushed the scraps towards Louis who gladly took the plate in hand. “Will do.” He scratched his side, “Are you allergic to dogs?”

“No.” Louis shook his head, “Of course not. I’m a dog walker.”

“Louis, your voice sounds so raspy –it’s actually making me want to drink water.”

“I think I sound really good considering I never talk this much in the morning.”

“I couldn’t imagine you quiet.”

“In the mornings I am.”

“Why in the mornings?”

Louis set the empty plate down and swung his feet gently. “I don’t talk in the mornings.”

“At all?”

“Not at all.” He rubbed his hands together, “I –hm, I normally can’t talk in the morning. It comes out in breaks until I actually eat and do some exercise.”

“Exercise?”

“Yeah,” Louis puckered his lips. “Like gargles or do, re, me.”

“Hm,” Harry nodded. “Does it help?”

“I’m able to talk to you in the afternoons so yeah.” Louis hugged himself, “It helps.”

“You look really tired.”

“I am so fucking tired.” Louis chuckled, “It’s so fucking early.”

“You can go back to sleep.”

“Oh, thank you.” Louis scooted off the counter, “I will.”

“I’m going to take Petal for a walk. We’ll be back in a bit.”

Louis shook his head, scooting back onto the counter. “Wow, I’m not even tired anymore.”

Chapter Text

 

“Did you know dogs dream?” Louis tugged softly on Petal’s leash when she began walking off.

“Really?” Harry grabbed a hold of Petal’s collar when she ignored Louis’ tugging.

“Yeah,” Louis smiled. “You know when they like twitch in their sleep, they’re dreaming. –It’s pretty cool actually.”

“Is that true, sweetheart?” Harry patted the Pitbull’s head, “you dream?” The dog panted happily at Harry’s praising. “I guess so.”

Louis laughed looking at the sky. It was still dark, no sign of sun yet. “What do you think she dreams about?”

“Probably friends.” Harry bent down, untangling Petals feet from the leash. “She needs a little friend, just don’t want her to react badly.” Harry looked up at Louis, “you know? Don’t want her to be taken from me.”

“Yeah?” Louis kneeled beside the dog, rubbing under her chin. “You want a friend, princess, hm?”

Petal licked his face once.

Louis chuckled, “Okay, okay. I’ll be your friend.”

Harry smiled standing up. “You’re good looking.”

Louis deadpanned at the dog that focused on a bush a little bit away. “Really?” He looked up at Harry. “Really?”

“Yeah, I like your face.” Harry stretched softly, “I’d date you.”

Louis looked away, “I think I’m blushing.” He stood up. “Am I blushing?”

Harry came closer, opening his eyes wide. “I don’t see a blush.”

“Well, my face feels hot. –I like your face too.” He nudged Harry back with his finger. “I’d date you too.”

“Good thing we’re taking this slow.” Harry winked, taking the leash away from Louis as Petal became restless. “But I’m glad we’re on the same page.”

“Yay.” Louis skipped to catch up. “You’re so cool with your Pitbull and your tattoo face.”

“I literally have one tattoo on my face,” Harry laughed.

“And it’s cooler than any of mine.”

“You have a tattoo?” Harry questioned quickly. “No way.”

“I don’t.” Louis wiggled his eyebrows taking the leash back. “Or do I?”

“You don’t.”

Louis shrugged, “eh, you never know.”

Harry shoved him playfully, “I know you don’t.”

Louis shoved back hard, “If you say so.”

Harry shoved him harder, knocking Louis into the bush Petal had just peed in. “Oh my God.” He quickly helped Louis up, “I’m so sorry.”

Louis cringed, sighing when Petal sniffed at him, “…yay.”

-

“Louis!” Niall flared, “I have been calling you for hours! Mom was calling you!” He looked his brother up and down, “what the hell are you wearing?” Louis had to borrow some of Harry’s clothes that weren’t only large on Harry but also on himself.

Louis walked passed his brother, into his house, “Hi Niall.”

“Ugh.” The blonde sucked his teeth, “you sound horrible, Lou. What the hell.”

Louis shrugged softly as his mom rounded the corner. “Louis Tomlinson!”

He held up a hand, “I am twenty-four, stop.”

“I know, Louis.” She frowned, “But I wish you’d just call.”

Louis rolled his eyes but turned around, “I’m sorry, mom. I was hanging out with someone and I slept over.”

“Who?” Niall crossed his arms, “a guy?”

“Yeah.” Louis chewed on his cheek. “I like him.”

“Oh, Louis!” His mother hugged him. “That’s incredible! Come, come.” She dragged him to the family room, Niall on their trail. She sat him down, “tell me all about him.”

“Uh,” Louis looked to Niall for help.

Niall sighed, “Mom, don’t pester him about it.”

“Oh,” She cooed. “Just a little bit, is he nice –is he cute?”

“Uh, yes and yes.” Louis groaned, covering his face, “Mom, I just met him.”

“And that’s why it’s a great idea to sleep over a stranger’s house?” Niall crossed a leg over the other. “Very intelligent.”

“Niall,” Louis scooted away from his overbearing mom. “He’s nice. Don’t sit here-” His voice broke, “-Fuck –don’t make it seem like you haven’t done it.”

“You had an appointment today.” Niall laced his fingers together. Niall was damn beautiful, Louis couldn’t deny it. He was obviously mad at him but Louis could only admire his brother. He looked so grown up and serious. Niall was clean and –perfect. He wasn’t only nice (who woke up at seven on Sunday to volunteer at soup kitchens with their fiancé?), Niall was professional and smart. His brother was slim and had good hair. Louis could barely walk up a flight of stairs without needing to catch his breath.

“I am paying for your therapy, Lou. You literally sound like you were on a roller coaster.”

Louis cleared his throat, “I wasn’t.” He played with his thumb, “I was just talking a lot.”

Niall closed his eyes briefly, “Sandra is coming today.”

“What?” Louis stood up making his mother reach out for him. “What the hell, Niall.”

“I’m calling her to make a house visit.” Niall’s posture didn’t falter. “You’re going to be here.”

“I’m going out.”

“No!” Niall uncrossed his legs, “You are going to do your therapy. I pay for it, Louis! I have been paying for it!”

“Niall,” His mother tried. “Don’t scream.”

“I don’t need it!” Louis’ voice barely came out. His throat hurt so much and his hands were sweating. He shook his head, frustrated, “I don’t need it, Ni.”

“Don’t.” Niall held up a hand, getting off the lounge chair. “I’m done. Sandra is coming and you are going to talk to her. I’m done.”

“She isn’t my speech therapist anymore!” Louis cried, fresh tears falling down his cheeks. “She’s just my therapist! I don’t want to go to therapy, Niall!”

“Louis,” Niall turned away from his brother. “I can hardly understand what you’re saying –that should tell you more than enough.” Niall collected his scarf from the chair. “If I call her now, she should be here in an hour.”

-

“Louis.” Sandra opened her arms wide as Louis ran into them. “Good morning.” She kissed his bright red cheeks, “How are you, Louis?”

Louis put his right hand to his mouth and placed it to his open-faced palm.

“Good?” She smiled, “that’s good, Louis.” Sandra stood, Louis clutching her thigh. Sandra kissed Louis’ mother on the cheek with a smile. “Hey, how are you?”

“Good.” Joan, Louis’ mother, smiled. “We just came from the pool.”

“Oh, did you?” Sandra tickled Louis softly making him smile and wiggle to her other side. “Did he have a good day? He’s not talking?”

Joan smiled sadly, “he wouldn’t stop talking yesterday. I don’t know what happened. He was playing with Niall and he was so happy.” She shrugged, “this morning I tried and tried to get him to speak and nothing. When I told him I wouldn’t let him to go swimming until he spoke, he started crying and begged me to hold him.” Joan sighed bending down, “I took him to the pool to calm him down. I really don’t know what happened.”

“Oh.” Sandra nodded seriously. “Well, let’s try and figure that out then.” She ruffled Louis’ hair. “Right, Louis?”

Louis glanced up at her with a small frown and a croak; “Yes, Sandy.”

-

“Louis.” Sandra was a bit older now. “I haven’t seen you in so long.”

Louis gave a fake smile, hugging her briefly. “Hi Sandy.”

“Oh,” She sat at the kitchen table. “You sound sickly.”

He shook his head, taking a sip of his water. “I’m fine.”

“Would you like to sign?”

“No.” Louis tapped his fingers against the table, “I had plans later, so-”

“We can start, no problem.”

He didn’t want to come off as rude. Sandy was Louis’ everything and he loved woman more than his own mother. She was only kind to him and he even stayed over her home sometimes. She was the only reason Louis could even talk. After Louis began speaking fluently, he saw her less and less. He didn’t need to see her anymore. He knew how to do his exercises on his own; he didn’t need help. Niall didn’t think so and it was because of the one day Louis had a ‘panic attack’ –as Niall deemed it.

It was Thanksgiving and Louis was laughing and talking along with everyone else at the table. His voice had been off and on throughout the week. He got up only to get some more water, Niall followed. Niall was drunk and hugging him, telling Louis how proud he was. Louis had accomplished what he thought was impossible –what Niall had thought was impossible. Louis wanted to say thank you but couldn’t. He went through his motions; trying to laugh, scream –breathe. He blacked out, unsure of what happened after that, but the next day he was with Sandra –signing instead of talking.

A week of therapy his voice was stabilizing. It happened once but it seemed like Niall couldn’t get over it.

“How are you, Louis?”

“Good. You?”

“I’m good, Louis.” Sandra laid her dark hand over his. “I really did miss you.”

Louis stared down at her hand, his now larger than hers. He smiled, “I missed you too, Sandy.”

She pulled her hand away and took out a small note pad. “So,” She sniffled, “What is going on in the world of Louis Tomlinson?”

Louis shrugged, “I met someone the other day.”

“Ooh,” She teased. “And who is he?”

Louis giggled, scooting closer. “Um, he’s beautiful.” He spoke quickly, looking back to make sure no one was listening. “He’s so sweet and he has a dog, Sandy, a Pitbull.”

“Aw, that’s your favorite, Lou.”

“Yeah!” He squealed, “I know.” Louis coughed, “He’s –sorry, he’s so cool.” Louis looked around quickly. “He was in jail.”

“Oh.” Sandra even looked around, scooting closer. “Your momma know he was?”

“No.” Louis shook his head. “Neither does Niall.” Louis ran around the table to sit beside her. “He was young when he went in though. He didn’t kill anyone even though I thought he did.”

“Why would you think he killed someone?”

“He has a tear drop on his face.” Louis whispered, big eyed. “Like tattooed on his face.”

Sandra laughed, “Your mother is going to slap you –and worse, Niall is going to kill him and you.”

“I know.” Louis frowned nibbling on his nail. “I really like him, Sandy. He even knows about my speech and he’s okay with it. He makes fun of me.”

Sandy raised an eyebrow, “Makes fun of you?”

“Yeah. He says I sound like I haven’t hit puberty.” Louis sighed thoughtfully, “He’s so sweet.”

“Oh, Lord. My sweet child.” She patted Louis’ cheek, “He sounds lovely, Louis.”

“Thank you.” He hugged her tightly and he suddenly felt small again. Louis held her close, “My voice is doing badly, Sandy.” Louis dug his face into her shoulder. “I hate it.”

“I hear.” She patted his hair down. “I want you to start again with me, Lou. It can be just like this.”

“I don’t want to,” He mumbled childishly. “This wasn’t supposed to happen, I’m supposed to be fixed.”

“You were never broken, baby.” She hushed him. “What did I always tell you?”

Louis smiled into her dress, “my volume was turned down too low.”

“And?”

“And I just needed to turn it up.”

Chapter Text

               

“Hey.”

“Hi Harry!” Louis beamed, shoulder holding his phone to his ear. “I’m walking to the park now. Are you there?”

“No, not today. I canceled class.”

Louis frowned, pausing his steps while the dogs tangled themselves in their leashes. “Why?”

“Uh, my brother came over.”

“Oh.” Louis tried to untangle each animal, struggling with the phone. “Is everything okay?”

“You sound really good.”

“Huh?”

“Your voice sounds really good, Louis. You sound louder.”

“Oh,” Louis shuddered at the compliment. “Thank you, Harry.”

“Welcome. –aye, no!” Louis heard shuffling. “Ryan, come here!”

“Ryan?” Louis pulled the dogs along. “Come on puppies. –Who’s Ryan?”

“Cory’s son.”

“Whose son?”

“Cory, my brother.”

“He has a son?” Louis unclipped the leashes from all of the dogs except Bucky. “Stay close, puppies.” He sat on the grass watching the group of dogs run around. He patted his thighs for Bucky to lay his head. “You’re babysitting?”

“Yeah. Ryan –hey! He keeps trying to get to Petal. –Ryan! Hold on, Louis.”

Louis smiled, keeping an eye on each dog. He caressed Bucky’s head, “I know you wanna run around too, my sweet Buckster.” Louis looked up when he heard barking, “Gennie! Come here!” The Dachshund ran right into him, extremely excited. “Hey, calm down. Don’t be so,” Louis laughed as she ran away. “Don’t be so aggressive!”

“Hello?”

“Hey, you okay?”

“Yeah.” Harry moved around, “What are you doing after work?”

“What?”

“After you’re done working, what are you doing?”

Louis stayed silent for a while. No one ever called his dog walking a job. It felt nice because Louis saw it as a job. He took it seriously and he loved it.

He chewed on his bottom lip, one hand on Bucky’s stomach. “Um, I’m –sorry.” Louis chuckled, “I’m not doing anything. –Do you want me to help you babysit?”

“Well no.” Harry laughed, “Ryan, come on, man. –I’m taking him to the beach but a little later when there isn’t so much sun. Wanna come? I’ll pick you up.”

“Um, of course I want to come. I love the beach.”

“Awesome. You can tell me more about how much you love the beach when I pick you up at five thirty?”

“I’d really love that.”

-

“Hi.” Louis slid into the two door car. “Hey Harry.”

Harry leaned over kissing Louis’ cheek with his own. “Hey, Lou.”

Louis pressed his lips together, it wasn’t even a real kiss and he was ready to melt. Harry pulled away from the end of Louis’ block.

“Ryan.” Harry looked at the small toddler in the rear-view mirror, “say hi to Louis.”

Louis looked at the back seat, mouthing falling open. “Oh my goodness.” He clapped excitedly, “He’s so cute.”

Ryan waved his chubby arm at Louis, pacifier in his mouth. “Hi!”

“Hi!” Louis grabbed onto his hand gently, “I’m Louis.”

“Hi!”

Louis looked at Harry, “he’s so freaking cute, Harry.”

“And hyperactive as hell.” Harry turned on his headlights, one hand one the wheel and one on his stick shift. “He wanted to play with Petal so bad.”

“You didn’t let him?”

Harry squinted at the road in thought. “Eh, no. Cory said it was okay but I don’t want him to scare her or grab her too hard, you know?”

Louis nodded understandingly. “Yeah,” He looked back at Ryan who was playing with a small toy car. “He’s delicious and fat!” Louis squeezed his own thighs, squealing, “so cute.”

Harry smiled, putting a hand on Louis’ thigh. He rubbed his hand up and down Louis’ beach shorts. “So rough, be nice to yourself.”

Louis melted into the contact, laying both hands over Harry’s larger one. “Okay.”

“You excited for the beach, Ryan?”

“Beach!” Ryan pulled the pacifier from his mouth. “Re! Re!”

“Yes?” Harry came to a red light and looked back, “Yes, Ryan?”

“Beach!” The boy giggled, pulling on his shorts. “Beach!”

“Yes, sir.”

Louis laced their fingers together, rubbing his thumb across Harry’s hand. “You’re good with kids it looks like.”

Harry shrugged, “I guess. I work with them.”

Louis looked back at Ryan momentarily, he lowered his voice as if the boy cared for what he was saying. “Why are you watching Cory’s son? I mean, it’s not really my business.”

“It is.” Harry used both hands to turn the wheel but quickly placed it back onto Louis’ lap. “Ryan is two.” Harry tapped his fingers against the steering wheel. “He isn’t my brother’s only son. Cory has like five or six kids from different girls.”

Louis’ jaw fell, “five or six.” He sat up straight. “Jesus.”

“Yeah.” Harry shrugged. “Abby is Ryan’s mom and the only mom I actually like.”

“Mommy!” Ryan threw his pacifier to the front, whining as soon as it left his hands. Louis smiled, taking it off the dashboard and handing it back to the boy.

“Why are you throwing stuff?” Harry frowned, “you wanna go back home?” Ryan shook his head, whining, placing his hands over his eyes. “Throw something else.” Harry pulled into the beach parking lot. “Well, Cory came by with her today and they kind of just threw him on me.”

Louis nodded, “How does that work?”

“Don’t ask me.” Harry raised the windows, “I didn’t mind though. Had to cancel my class but I like Ryan.”

“Beach!” Ryan squirmed, trying to get out of the car seat. “Out!”

-

“Ryan!” Louis called the child who filled his bucket with water. It took a few calls but his head eventually snapped to Louis.

“Yes!”

“Come here, buddy!” Louis waved his hand at the toddler. “I have goldfish!”

Ryan screamed all the way over to the pair laid out on beach towels. Louis handed him a small pack of goldfish crackers. Ryan hugged Louis hurriedly, sitting in the sand. “Open!”

“Please.” Harry nudged the boy softly with his foot, raising his sunglasses over his hair.

“Please!”

“There you go,” Louis handed them back.

“Thank you!”

“He’s so sweet.”

“Cause of Nicki.” Harry yawned, “she normally watches him.”

“Titi Nicki?”

Harry sat up, wiping sand off of Ryan’s hand, “yes, titi Nicki.”

“Not here?”

“Nope.” Harry kissed his nephew, “Just Re and Lou.”

Ryan giggled looking at his bucket. His mouth fell open, standing, “Re! Look!” He set down his small packet of fish crackers, showing them his empty bucket. “Nothing!”

Louis clapped, “an empty bucket!” He looked at Harry, “Yay?”

“Yay. –I guess.”

“No water!”

Louis smiled, reaching for a bottle of water. “You spilled it all over the sand, Ryan.”

The toddler sat back down, picking up his snack. “Oh no.”

Harry laughed, “you little fatty.” He picked up the sand-covered boy, kissing him all over his cheeks. “You only care about your fishy snacks.”

Ryan giggled, holding one up for Harry who ate it. “Mm, one more.”

“No!” Ryan wiggled away from him and held one up to Louis’ mouth. “For Lou!”

Louis took what was offered. “Yummy. Thank you.”

“Welcome!” Ryan plopped down right in his lap.

Louis ran his fingers over Ryan’s soft curly hair, “this is nice.”

“Why do you like the beach so much?”

“Water.” Louis shrugged. “I like water because it muffles everything.” He kissed the top of the child’s head. “I was in silence for a long time so going under water, letting everything wash over you, is a little nostalgic for me.”

Harry smiled, laying his head on Louis’ knee. “Silence doesn’t sound so bad.”

Ryan leaned back into Louis’ hold, digging around for his snacks. Louis’ hand rose to scratch Harry’s scalp. “It’s deafening.”

-

“Sing!”

“No, go to sleep.”

Louis poked his head into Harry’s bedroom, “hey.”

“Hey, come in.”

Louis stayed at the door, trying not to look around too much but this was his first time seeing Harry’s room. It was really small, and Louis loved it.

Harry’s mattress was on the floor, Louis wasn’t sure why, but he loved it. Harry had a brown dresser and a white closet door. His bedroom was mostly white and his floor felt like cement. Harry had guitar in the corner and a window that was covered with plain white blinds. Louis loved it. It smelled like nothing and it looked so boring. He loved it so much. It was Harry.

“Hi Ryan.”

“Lou!” Ryan jumped on the bed, “play!”

Louis smiled as Petal nudged his leg softly. He looked back at her, “you wanna say hi to Ryan?”

“No.” Harry eyed Louis. “She doesn’t.”

“Doggy!” Ryan bounced. “Doggy!”

“Come on.” Louis pouted, “she’s sweet.”

“He’s gunna scare her, Louis.”

“Ryan.” Louis crossed his arms, “If I let doggy in you have to be quiet, okay? She is very scared, okay?”

Ryan covered his mouth.

“Okay?” Louis looked at Harry who covered his face.

“You better be able to pull her off when she mauls him.”

“What?” Louis shook his head, letting the dog inside. “Don’t make her sound like an animal.”

“She is an animal.”

“Hush.” Louis sat on the edge of Harry’s bed, pulling Ryan onto his lap. Harry stood up and sat beside the two. “Come here, Petal.”

The dog came over as soon as Harry sat down. Louis leaned Ryan forward to touch the dog who licked his hand. He giggled, “Doggy.” He patted her head softly, “doggy, doggy.”

“Soft, good,” Louis kissed the boy’s arms.

Harry kept a hold on her collar, “good girl.” He patted her back, letting her trot off.

Louis stuck his tongue out, “she’s sweet.”

“Yeah, yeah.” He pushed the two down, making them giggle. “Time for bed.”

-

“You want me to take you home?”

“No,” Louis rubbed his shoulder. “My friend said he’d pick me up. I would sleep over but I have a therapy session tomorrow.”

“Oh, you’re going?”

“Uh, yeah.” Louis shrugged, “my brother is paying for it. It’s why I probably sound a lot better.”

“That’s amazing, Louis.” Harry’s played with his water bottle top, “thank you, by the way, Ryan had a lot of fun and so did I.”

Louis smiled, curling deeper into the couch. “I had a lot of fun too. Playing house was fun.”

Harry smiled, “it was.” He squished Louis’ cheeks together with one hand, kissing the side of his face. Harry rubbed his nose there, “I really appreciate it.”

Louis grabbed Harry cheeks, passing on the same endearment. “I love being around you. You make me smile.”

“I am –uh –I am going to see my mom, he grave, after work on Friday. Maybe you wanna come to, after you’re done working?”

Louis smiled brightly, laying his head against the couch. “I still have to tell her what a great omelet maker you are.” He closed his eyes, “I’d love to.”

Chapter Text

“Hey Zayn,” Louis slid past the homeowner. He wiped the sweat off his forehead, “jeez, it’s so hot out.”

Zayn smiled, walking towards the living room. “No dog-walking today?”

“It’s way too hot to walk the dogs.” Louis yawned, “So sleepy.”

“It’s early, Lou, a little weird that you’re even awake.”

Louis fell onto the cold couch. “Oh, this feels good.” He grinned up at Zayn, patting the seat next to him. “Sit.”

  Zayn did, “what did you do?”

“Is Niall here?”

“Hey, you sound really good, by the way.” Zayn patted his shoulder, “I heard you’ve been seeing Sandy. She came over yesterday actually.”

Louis rolled his eyes, mumbling under his breath. “‘Course she did.”

“Hey,” Zayn shoved him lovingly. “You know we just worry.”

“Yeah, whatever.” Louis looked around quickly before sitting up straight. “Niall isn’t here, right?”

“Nope.” Zayn checked his watch. “And I will be gone in thirty minutes. –You’re welcome to stay and sleep in our bed if you want.”

Louis almost moaned at the thought. “That sounds like heaven.” Louis loved Niall and Zayn’s bed. It was one of those that you see on TV. The ones that move and change their shape to fit your body. Whenever he slept over Louis would tuck himself in between the couple and sleep his miserable life away.

He chewed on his lip, “I can’t though. I have plans.”

“This early?” Zayn lifted an eyebrow. “Is it with ‘murder’ boy?”

“You didn’t tell Niall, right?” Louis grabbed onto Zayn’s arm, “Sandy didn’t tell him, right?”

“No, you nerd.” Zayn slapped Louis’ hands from his ironed button up. “You know Sandy would never and like hell if I’d be the one to tell your brother.”

Louis squealed, scooting closer, “okay, he didn’t kill anyone.”

Zayn chuckled, “of course.”

“The tattoo on his face was because he went to jail –he has so many more than I thought he did! We went to the beach with his brother’s son –oh, his name is Ryan and he is so cute!” Louis pretended to squish something in his hands. “He is so chubby and sweet. Well, Harry took off his shirt and it was little a tattoo haven. I wanted to ask about some but I really, really didn’t want to come off as rude either.”

 Zayn nodded, trying to keep up.

“I want to kiss him already, Zayn!” Louis covered his eyes, “he’s so sweet and he’s so soft and gentle. We kiss on the cheek because we’re taking things slow, and that’s okay, but I just want a little kiss.” Louis pouted, pinching air, “just a peck.”

Zayn leaned back, pressing his lips together. “What does he do for a living?”

Louis played with the rip in his jeans, “teaches kids to sing.”

Zayn nibbled on his bottom lip, “he’s allowed around kids? Did he have a pardon?”

“Uh,” Louis scratched his head. “I have no idea. I didn’t think about that.”

“Probably. Why’d he go to jail?”

“Smuggling drugs and underground fighting.”

“Hm,” Zayn fixed his watch. “For how long?”

“Six years, about. But he got out early on good behavior.”

“Well,” The lawyer sat up, “you seem to have a lot on your plate.”

“I have a fucking buffet on it.”

Zayn patted his thigh, “if he’s safe, and nice, then you know we don’t care. He makes you happy and that’s it.”

Louis smiled when Bucky came trotting up to him. “Hey, Buckster!” Louis hugged him gently, patting his head. “You just woke up?” He sighed softly when Bucky sat at his feet. “Zayn, he is honestly the sweetest, nicest guy ever. I’m going to the cemetery to see his mom.” He cradled Bucky’s head when the animal put it on his knee, “I’m nervous.”

Zayn smiled, “don’t worry, she’ll love you.”

“She’s dead.”

“Well, she can’t hate you.” Zayn stood up, “so, no worries.”

-

“Well,” Louis spoke, tip toeing over the mass amount of graves. “Never imagined myself doing this.”

Harry smiled, hands tucked in his pockets. “Never been to a cemetery?”

“Um,” Louis squeaked, almost stepping on a patch of flowers. “I have not.”

“No one in your family ever die?”

“Yeah, but my parents never took us with them.” The shorter man shuddered, “this feels so weird. I feel like I’m stepping on humans.”

“They’re all bones now.”

“Not all.” Louis stayed close to Harry, “some are still fresh.”

Harry chuckled, latching onto Louis’ hand, swinging them up and down. “It’s such a nice day.”

Louis nodded, “yeah.” He looked up. “Think it’s gunna rain though.” Louis rubbed a soft thumb against the top of Harry’s hand. “Thanks for bringing me.”

“Thanks for coming.” Harry leaned softly on Louis. “I appreciate it.”

Louis blushed with a small smile. “So, tell me more about your mom. What was she like?”

“Beautiful.” Harry smiled thoughtfully, “Soft spoken but she could damn sure scream.” He sighed, “kind. She babysat kids a lot. I was always jealous and Cory and I would sometimes bully them because that was our mom. She wanted us, so she picked us.” He squeezed Louis’ hand, “But she always reminded us that we were hers and she loved us.”

Louis hummed, “Cory and you were her only kids?”

“She had so many kids.” Harry smiled down at Louis, “but yes, Cory and I were her only. I remember she would make pancakes every Sunday morning before church.” He paused, “yeah, I remember that so well. She’d make us eggs and, on special occasions, omelets. She never had much but she always wanted us to work hard.” Harry shrugged, “we wanted her to work less hard. So that she didn’t have to, Cory and I did. It wasn’t legal work but it allowed her to not work so much, so we really didn’t care.”

Louis was wrapped under Harry’s arm now, fingers lazily entangled against his shoulder. “Did she sing? Like you?”

“Oh man, could she sing.” Harry laughed, “she was in our church choir. Oof, my mom had some lungs.” He shrugged, “and that’s why I started singing. –Cory can’t sing for the life of him.”

Louis smiled as they approached a different section of the cemetery. “She sounds wonderful. Can’t wait to meet her.”

“Well, I’ve prayed to her about you.” Harry stopped at a grave on the floor with small blue flowers growing from the grass above it. “So, I’m sure she’s just as excited.”

Louis bit down hard on his lip. He wasn’t too religious but the fact that Harry thought about him enough to pray felt really good.

“Well,” Harry pointed at the stone on the floor that read; ‘In loving memory of Artist Jones-Styles.’ “Here she is.”

Louis pointed at the flowers, “you did that?”

“Yeah. They don’t grow.” Harry scrunched up his face. “They just stay small.”

“Hm,” Louis sat down in the grass. “Hello, Artist.” He looked up at Harry, hand over his eyes to block out the sun. “Sit.”

Harry sat, “hey mom.”

Louis grinned, “Her name is really cool. Artist.” He touched the flowers. “Your son is the only one that can properly hear me.” He brought his knees to his chest. “It’s refreshing.”

Harry kept his head down, smile on his face.

“He’s really cool. I like him a lot.” Louis touched the epitaph along the stone. “Wish I could see you. I’m sure I’d love you.” He laid down beside the grave, “this feels a little weird. When I was younger I’d talk to myself a lot and I’d pretend I had a friend that could hear me. A friend that didn’t question what I was saying.” He stretched a hand to the sky, “so maybe it’s not so weird. Talking to no one.” He glanced over at Harry whose head stayed down. “But someone can still hear me. It feels familiar, nice.” He laid a hand on Harry’s knee, making the man lift his head. “I feel good with your son.”

Harry’s eyes ripped their way through Louis’.

“I think I want to date him. –Eh, I know I do.” Louis closed his eyes, “Is that okay?”

The two laid there for about six minutes, sun kissing their skin; the wind brushing the sun’s love away –taking it somewhere far.

Louis thought for a moment that he had fallen asleep. “Harry makes a mean omelet, says you taught him.”

Harry laughed quietly.

“I wanted to come and say thank you because it was really great, just like how you raised him –really great.”

Harry sat up, fingers untangling from Louis’. He walked around, sitting beside the smaller man, wiping the grass off of Louis’ back when he sat up. Louis scooted in between Harry’s legs, turning his neck to the side when two strong arms held him.

“You’re amazing.” If Harry said the words any lower, Louis would have missed them.

Louis laid his head back against Harry’s shoulder, smiling up at him. “You’re amazing.”

The music teacher kissed the corner of his mouth before sealing their lips. Although the position was a bit uncomfortable, the kiss was far from it. Harry’s hand ran above Louis’ collar, wrapping oh-so-gently around his neck, before settling around his jaw. He squeezed softly, running his tongue along Louis’ bottom lip, nipping at the pink skin. Harry kissed up to his cheek, behind his ear, finding a spot on the back of Louis’ neck to nestle his face. “If you were trying to make me like you more, you did it.”

Louis was faced forward, eyes blown wide, skin dotting with goose bumps. He bit his lip, licking over them, shivering when a gust of wind passed over them. Harry held him tight, and Louis couldn’t remember a time that he thought more of his childhood. When he’d hide under the covers, no one could hurt him.

When he opened his eyes, he could see a small group of people gathering for a funeral. Burying a friend, or maybe a family member –possibly someone’s lover. Being here suddenly put things into a different perspective. People died here and then were put here, some people died here, some could only live while being here.

Right now, Louis felt more alive than when the first word came out of his mouth.

“You ready to go?” Harry left tender kisses on the back of his neck.

“Next time let’s have a picnic with her.” Louis looked over at the grave that laid beside them. “It’s probably a little weird, but I think she’ll enjoy it.”

Harry hummed in his ear. “Okay.”

Louis smiled, “we’ll leave in a few, okay?”

“Okay,” The chorus teacher cleared his throat and Louis realized then that they had both been whispering. Scared almost, as if they were going to disturb someone.

“…Can you feel the beat of my heartbeat, beat through me…?”

Louis stayed still while Harry sung, not wanting to do anything that would make him stop. Louis’ eyes fluttered shut at the soft sound that flowed from Harry’s mouth. He was suddenly filled with pride for Artist and himself –Harry was so talented. He could do other things, be a singer, make more money, but he taught children instead. This ‘convict’ was a saint. Suddenly ‘private’ on Harry’s list of seven was tossed out the window. He was spilling every one of his secrets off his lips.

“…I can make you happy, I can make you love me…”

Harry kept his face in Louis’ neck, making his singing come out slightly muffled but it was fine.

It was perfectly fine.

-

“I knew it was going to rain.” Louis mumbled, hand in hand with Harry. He quickened his pace, “we have to hurry, you’re walking too slow.”

“I like the rain.”

“I don’t.” Louis shook his head, glancing up at the sky every now and again. “Walk faster, please.” He walked ahead, tugging Harry behind him.

Harry laughed, “Slow down. What if you never get to see the sky again?”

“Oh, please.” Louis power walked, he could see Harry’s car from where they were. “Enough with your jail talk. You’re free and the rain will be here forever.”

Harry laughed louder, stopping to hold his side. “You are so stupid!”

“Harry,” Louis whined, “come on.” He looked around, sniffing the air. “Ew.” He looked down, “what is that?”

“What?” Harry looked around his feet. “What’s what?”

“That freaking smell?” Louis pouted, “ew. Let’s get away from this spot.” Harry followed, stopping before they got to the car.

“Yuck,” Harry checked the bottom of his shoes. “I can smell it now.” He looked at Louis, “check your shoes. I think you stepped in something.”

Louis lifted his left shoe, looking, “why would I step in something?” He put the foot down, “it’s probably a rotting body.” He checked his right shoe and quickly put it down. Louis stared off into the distance. “I stepped in shit.”

Harry frowned, “that’s fucking nasty.”

“Oh my god, I stepped in shit.” Louis looked at his foot three more times. “What the fuck.” He closed his eyes, trying to calm down. “Who in the hell takes a dog to a cemetery?”

Harry shook his head, “I want to laugh but I honestly feel bad?” He made a motion with his hands. “And you’re upset but it’s actually hilarious because you thought the smell was coming from somewhere else.”

Louis squinted at Harry, “anything else?”

Harry pursed his lips, “um, no? I don’t think so. –I’m suddenly concerned about my car but I think I have plastic bags in my trunk –yeah, probably.”

“Do you live in fairy tale land or something?” Louis pointed aggressively at his foot, “weren’t we supposed to have lunch?” He slapped his forehead, “I wanna die.”

“Well,” Harry looked around. “No better place to do it.”

Louis growled as soon as a water droplet touched his face. “This is bullshit.”

Harry raised an eyebrow at Louis’ foot. “Actually, it’s dog shit.” Louis didn’t say anything, he stared at Harry instead. Harry shrugged his shoulders with a sympathetic smile. “It is.”

Louis lifted his foot, hopping, “I am going to pretend that I didn’t step in human feces.”

Harry snorted, “that’s dog poop, not human. You loser.”

“I am going to pretend that I did not step in human feces,” Louis spat. “I am also going to pretend that you didn’t cleverly insult everything I said. And, with that, we will go to lunch and pretend that nothing, after we left your mom’s grave, happened.”

“Deal.”

Louis took a deep breath. “It might have been dog crap but it’s not the dog’s fault that its owner is garbage and won’t pick up its poop.”

“True, true.” Harry threw an arm over Louis’ shoulder. “Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone.” He kissed his cheek, “promise.”

Louis rolled his eyes, limping to the car. “And it’s raining and the poop.” He groaned, “My day was going too well. God literally placed the shit there himself.”

Harry chuckled, “eh, maybe it’s because he wants you to come back to my place and let me make you lunch.”

Louis spun around, back against Harry’s passenger door. He grinned, “Really?”

“Maybe he wanted Louis to sleep over Harry’s place.”

Louis pushed Harry teasingly, “I’m starting to think you placed the poop there yourself.”

Harry held up both hands, “oops, you got me.”

Louis looked down, blushing a sunlit pink. He looked back up at the sweet face that smiled back at him. He crossed his arms, “I would really love all of that.”

Harry pressed his forehead to Louis’, kissing his nose. “Damn, so glad I put the crap there last night.”

Louis giggled, “Idiot.” He kissed Harry’s nose back. “It stinks so bad.”

Harry shook his head, slowly turning it into a nod. “It smells bad but I am willing to hold my breath just to look at you, and your poop shoe.”

Louis covered his mouth, trying not to smile. “Your eyebrows burned off already.”

“Well, good thing you didn’t hang out with me just for my eyebrows.” He wiggled them up and down making Louis laugh. “Let’s go before it starts raining.” Harry pinched his cheek, “I wouldn’t want you to melt.”

Chapter Text

“I think we should try to take Petal out in the day.” Louis laid out on Harry’s rug with Petal cuddled into his side. “I think she would have a lot of fun.”

“Um,” Harry yawned, standing off the couch. “Probably not going to happen.”

“Aw,” Louis rolled on his back, staring at Harry. “Come on, she’d have fun. Zayn has a male Pitbull, Bucky, he’s really sweet.”

“That is literally a horrible idea.” Harry smiled, nudging his socked foot against Louis’ elbow. “But it’s sweet that you think about her, I’m sure she appreciates it.”

Louis preened, lifting a hand at him, “so sweet.”

Harry bent slightly to kiss Louis’ fingers, mumbling, “so sweet.” He patted his thigh, alerting Petal, “come here, pretty, food time.”

“Ooh,” Louis cooed, letting his fingers slip through Harry’s fingers. “And Louis’ food?”

“I said pretty, didn’t I?”

Louis stretched against the rough carpet, “I would have followed if it hadn’t started with a thigh pat.”

Harry chuckled on the way to his kitchen. “I respect that.”

Louis could fall asleep here. He really loved Harry’s place. It was so small but they somehow fit perfectly. Petal, Harry and Louis; a mini family that barely knew each other while knowing all about each other. Louis just wanted to know more, it was selfish. He knew all he needed to know. Harry was a great guy who unfortunately got caught up in the mess of his youth.

But no, Louis wanted more. He wanted to see how Harry would treat their waiter, he wanted to see the face he made when he ate his favorite food. Louis wanted to watch Harry read, he wanted to watch Harry teach his students. How he handled his anger or maybe how he couldn’t handle it. Louis wanted to watch him have a total meltdown and cry, wanted to see the look in Harry’s eye when he fought for something he loved. He wanted to see the way he slept or when he couldn’t sleep. Harry’s expression when he got scared or excited. Louis wanted to see things that were impossible to see in a month. He wanted to see things that took time –years. He didn’t mind waiting.

“Harry,” Louis called, staring up at the brick ceiling.

Harry poked his head out of the kitchen, bag of dog food in hand. “Yes.”

Louis craned his neck back to look at him. He smiled because Harry came when he called him. He didn’t just call back and ask what Louis wanted. He actually heard Louis and came to him instead of Louis having to go to him. It felt so good. “What are you cooking?”

Harry’s face pulled up into a grin. “Why are you smiling?”

“I don’t know.” Louis chewed on his lip, “just happy. What are you making?”

“Food.”

Louis rolled his eye’s attention back to the ceiling. “What type of food, Harry?”

“Really good food that you’re going to love.”

Louis rolled onto his stomach, “and if I hate it?”

“I’ll go pick you up McDonald’s or something.”

Louis sat up, hair probably sticking up, “really?” He tilted his head to the side, “you sound serious.”

Harry shrugged, stepping out of the kitchen. “I am. I’m not going to force you to eat what you don’t like.”

“Is that jail talk again?”

Harry paused for a moment before laughing. “Maybe.”

Louis shook his head, back against the couch. “Do you want me to help you?”

“Nah,” Harry pointed his thumb in the kitchen. “It’s too small for two anyway. No worries. I’m going to start cooking, if you want to walk around outside I’ll give you the key.” Harry pointed the dog food at his room, “or you can take a nap on my bed or watch TV in there.”

Louis pressed his lips together so he wouldn’t answer too quickly. “Um, can I watch TV in your room? That’s okay?”

“Of course, Louis. I’m going to get started on cooking.”

Louis nodded, standing up with the couch’s help. He took small strides to Harry’s closed bedroom door. He opened it slowly and peered inside. No one was in there, and he didn’t turn around because of the chance that Harry was watching him act like a fool.

He toed over a chew toy on the floor, looking over the room like he had done once before.

The room was so plain and it still didn’t smell like anything. It didn’t even smell like dog, although there was Petal’s bed right beside Harry’s. Louis scratched his scalp at Harry’s bed. The mattress was on the floor. It was so odd but Louis really did like how it made the room look.

He kneeled on the bed slowly, carefully. He patted around the perfectly made sheets, unsure what he was looking for. Louis stood up on his knees, looking out the window that sat above Harry’s pillow. He watched a few cars drive by in the pouring rain before lowering the blinds.

He looked around for the remote with no hope of finding it anytime soon. Harry’s TV sat on his dresser, and Louis couldn’t see the remote there either. Harry had a side table with an alarm clock on it and the end of a charger beside the clock. Everything had a place and in its place was everything.

Louis really didn’t want to get caught looking through Harry’s stuff because he couldn’t find a remote.

“Harry!” Louis folded his legs, wanting to look as casual as possible. “Where’s your remote!”

“What?” Harry came into his bedroom few seconds later, pan in hand. “What’s up?”

Louis was in awe. Harry really could hear him. Louis could hear pans banging around in the kitchen but, over all of that, Harry heard him calling –it wasn’t a game. Harry actually heard him and followed the sound. “You come when I call you.”

Harry lifted an eyebrow at Louis, “oh, and the thigh patting was bad?”

Louis blushed, “It’s not –like that. Ugh.” Louis groaned, covering his face, “I’m just not used to the person I’m calling coming to me. It’s usually the other way around.”

“I see.” He set the pan on his dresser, “I don’t like screaming or loud sounds, so I try to keep my house quiet.” Harry walked around his bed and opened his side drawer. He handed Louis the remote before pinching his cheek, “luckily your screaming isn’t much of a scream.”

Louis pouted, “thanks.”

Harry kissed his puckered lips softly, running a hand over Louis’ dark red cheek. He pulled away, giving Louis one last kiss to the corner of his mouth. “You’re so pretty sitting on my bed.” He winked, “s’really cool that I met you.”

Louis pulled on Harry’s bottom lip gently, “yeah, it is.”

“I’m going to cook then.” Harry smiled as Petal came trotting in, “if you don’t want her to stay just ask her to leave and she will.

Louis lifted a confused palm at Harry. “Are you fucking kidding me? Never.” Louis patted the bed, “come here, precious.”

Harry laughed, “she’s not gunna get on, she’s not allowed.”

Louis’ mouth formed an ‘o’. “How could you.”

“Get a few dog hair splinters and you’ll see why.” Harry walked out, swinging the pan in his hand. He came back seconds after, “by the way, remind me to put your poop shoes to wash.”

“Wow, thanks.”

Harry winked, “no problem.”

-

“Wow,” Louis strolled into Harry’s small kitchen, jumping onto the counter. “Smells really good.”

“Thanks.” Harry was concentrated on his cellphone. “Sorry, my brother is messaging me.”

“So, you do talk to him often?”

“No.” Harry chewed on his cheek, thumbs beating away at his keyboard. “Just recently cause I went to his party.” He slid his phone on the counter top, putting his attention on stirring the pasta. “He wants to ‘rekindle our brotherhood’.” Harry sucked his teeth, “this always happens and then a month later we don’t know each until another birthday or holiday.”

Louis kicked his feet softly, “do you want to be around him again?”

Harry squinted his eyes thoughtfully, “I really don’t.” He shook his head, “Not at all actually. I prefer to keep it that we see each other when we need to and pretend we’re friends.” Harry pressed his hip against the counter, “is that bad?”

Louis tilted his head from side to side. “Eh, a bit but it’s also your choice. You have no obligation to your brother.”

“True.” Harry turned off the stove, “I just feel like I need to love him.”

Louis shrugged, “you don’t.”

Harry smirked, “that easy?”

Louis bit into his bottom lip, smile curling onto his face. “That easy.” He leaned forward, sniffing the air, “what are you feeding me, tattoo boy?”

“I already told you, food, non-tattoo boy.”

Louis pointed a finger at him, “you don’t know that.”

Harry chuckled, crossing his arms over his chest. “You don’t.”

“You haven’t seen my body, Harry.”

“We were at the beach and you were only wearing shorts –no tattoos.” Harry smirked, “so I have.”

Louis licked his lips, “you haven’t seen my whole body.”

Harry raised a brow, “oh? Should I be looking somewhere else?”

Louis giggled, looking away. “If your dinner is good enough maybe you’ll get to check.”

-

“Eh,” Louis pushed the plate that Harry held out to him. “Problem, problem.”

“Problem?” Harry looked at both of their plates in each hand, “problem?”

“Big problem.” Louis sat up, Petal sniffing at Harry’s legs. “I’m allergic to broccoli.”

Harry set his plate down on the side table. “Oh, I didn’t know. I can make you something else.”

Louis curled his feet into the rug, “yeah.” He smiled, “just kidding, it’s gross. I’m not eating that.”

Harry looked like he was about to dump the steaming plate of pasta and broccoli on him. “You are out of your fucking mind.” It sent chills down Louis’ spine. “You are going to eat this.” He stuffed the plate into Louis’ hands and picked up his own plate. He sat beside Louis, forking at his food, “eat.”

“What happened to not forcing me?”

“I take it back.” Harry shrugged, “because you tricked me.”

Louis set the plate on the cushion in between them. “You are out of your fucking mind.” He smiled, crossing both legs into the cushion, “I am not eating that.”

“You haven’t even tried it.” Harry laughed, putting the fork to his mouth. “It’s really good.”

“Broccoli can’t be good.”

“Try it.” Harry kicked his knee, “if you hate it I’ll make you something else.”

“You are going to knock over the plate.” Louis pulled the plate away from Petal’s sniffing nose. “You might as well make it now –better yet, I’ll take that McDonald’s you offered earlier.”

Harry smiled, mouth full, “stop being a baby.”

Louis spun the cream covered pasta around his fork. “What’s the green stuff?”

“Broccoli.”

Louis deadpanned, “the other green stuff.”

“Basil.” Harry pointed his fork at Louis’ plate, “I think you have more shrimp in there than me.”

“Good.” Louis carefully put it to his mouth, “you promise it’s good?”

“Promise.”

Louis slowly chewed on the pasta, shrugging slightly. “Hm, decent.” He ate another bite, “I think, other than this, I am allergic to every other type of broccoli.”

Harry chuckled, fork to his lips, “and my broccoli and egg omelet?”

Louis almost moaned at the taste of his food. “Wow, this is really good –and no. No broccoli omelet.” He stuffed his mouth with more food, “mm, wow.”

They eat in mostly silence, with a few sounds coming Louis. Many of them being; ‘wow’.

“So, you like it?” Harry licked his lips, setting his plate on his thigh.

“So good.” Louis held out his plate, “more please.”

“There is no more.”

Louis frowned, “why?” He wiped his plate with his index finger. “There has to be more.”

“I made enough for two.” Harry laid his head against the couch. “I can give you a sugar free ice cream cone.”

Louis cringed, “that’s disgusting.”

“It is,” Harry agreed with a wrinkled nose. “I didn’t realize it was sugar free.” He sat his plate on the cushion, “sorry.”

Louis set his plate on top Harry’s, stretching, “it’s okay. It was great, thank you.” He smiled, sighing, “so, you still believe I don’t have a tattoo?”

Harry smirked. sitting up a bit, “I really don’t think you have one.”

“I don’t.” Louis grinned, “I was lying.”

Harry snapped his fingers, “knew it. You don’t look like the type.”

Louis stood up, petting Petal before undoing his jeans. “I was lying about that too.”

Harry’s eyes grew slightly. He scooted to the edge of the couch, elbows on his knees, “you have a tattoo?” He glanced down, “down there?”

Louis smiled, “close. Do you mind?”

Harry licked his drying lips, “not at all.” He motioned for Louis to continue, “I never say no to a free show.”

Louis laughed at the ceiling, “oh, God.” He shuffled his jeans down, leaving himself in boxers. “I got it here because no one could see it, not even me, but it was okay cause I knew it was there.”

Harry lifted his eyebrow. “I’m worried.”

Louis shoved him, almost tripping in the process. “Idiot.” He lifted up both sides of his boxers and turned around, thighs together. “Can you see it?”

Harry leaned forward, putting both hands on the back of Louis’ thighs. He rubbed his thumbs over each tattoo, pressing his fingers against them. “Shit.” He held his bottom lip in his teeth, “two tattoos.”

“Two tattoos.” Louis exhaled, “I literally have a semi so I’m not turning around for a minute.”

“What?” Harry flicked the back of Louis’ thigh playfully, “why?”

“You’re like massaging me back there, sheesh.” He back-kicked Harry’s leg, “well, what do you think?”

“Who did them?”

“An old friend.” Louis looked back, “he found out I was gay and –well we don’t talk anymore.”

“No one knows you have these?” Harry looked up, hands still holding Louis’ legs.

“Nope, only you.” Louis stuck his tongue out, “feel special.”

“What does the tongue mean?” Harry was actually really obsessed with it more than the writing on the other side. It was done really well, no fading or bleeding.

It was a mouth with its tongue sticking out. It looked like it was sown back together with the abandoned sewing needle beside it.  On the other side was letters ‘sown’ into Louis’ skin.

“‘Dog got your tongue?’” Harry was confused. “What do they mean?”

Louis tugged his boxers back down, sitting on the floor. He adjusted himself quickly, “sorry.” Louis cleared his throat, “um, well I had drawn it when I was in third grade. My teacher was telling us that when we had a fire drill we had to stay quiet so we could hear instruction.” Louis rolled his eyes, trying not to make eye contact. “Some kid said, ‘well, Louis doesn’t have to worry about that’.” Louis lifted his fist, shaking it, “I should have punched him –anyway, when I went home I drew a picture of a tongue and then I erased the middle part.

“I think in fifth grade I drew the stitches because I saw a cartoon movie where someone zipped the characters mouth and they couldn’t talk.” Louis shrugged, “I could relate and Sandy, my speech therapist, was teaching me to sow.” He crossed his ankles and brought he knees close, finally looking at Harry. “When I was in,” Louis thought for a minute, “–Seventh grade? –yeah, seventh grade. My mom was babysitting Niall’s cousin’s daughter.” Harry nodded slowly. “And I couldn’t talk properly and she was five and wouldn’t stop cracking jokes. One day she came up to me and said; ‘Louis, speak –you can’t speak? Why, does a cat have your tongue?’” Louis shook his head, unamused, at the memory. “So stupid.”

Harry smiled, “it’s clever.”

“It was so clever it was stupid.” He smiled softly at the memory, “but I ended up getting it tattooed on me but with, ‘dog’, instead of cat because I love dogs.” He huffed, “sorry for talking so much.” His throat was throbbing.

“It’s cool. I love hearing you talk.” Harry scooted onto the rug beside Louis. “I don’t want you to hurt yourself either though.”

Louis took a deep breath, when he could feel his throat closing up. “It’s –fine.”

“Hey,” Harry put a hand on his knee. “Can I show you something?”

Louis nodded, entranced with the warm hand holding him to earth.

“Take a deep breath.”

In and out. It stung, but only a little.

“Do.”

“I know how to do this.” Louis opened his closed eyes, “it’s one of my exercises.”

“Stop it.” Harry scooted closer, legs wide. “Repeat –Do.”

“Do.” Louis groaned, “I’m fine, can we not do this?”

“Re.”

“Ugh.” Louis tried laying back but Harry grabbed his forearms and pulled Louis closer.

“Aye, why are you doing that?”

“This is annoying.” Louis huffed, “you aren’t my teacher, we’re friends –stop.”

Harry let go of him, “do, re, mi.” He carefully placed both hands to Louis’ throat. “Do, re, mi.”

Louis pouted, making a strangled sound in his throat. “Do, re, mi.”

Harry beamed, pressing his index and middle fingers to the sides of Louis’ throat. “Do, re, mi.”

Louis closed his eyes, “do, re, mi.”

“Mi, re, do.”

“Mi, re, do.”

“Ah, ah, ah. –Go higher every ‘ah’.”

“Ah –ah,” Louis coughed, “ah?”

“Don’t force it.” Harry made small circle motions against Louis’ skin. “Ah, ah, ah.”

“Ah, ah, ah.”

“Good.”

“That was awful.”

“It really was.” Louis slapped him making Harry laugh. “But it was better than the first time.” He leaned forward, kissing the middle of Louis’ forehead. “You did great.”

Louis frowned, “thanks.” He looked down at his bare feet tucked under Harry’s thighs. “Really –thank you.”

Harry leaned back on his hands, “don’t mention it.” He smirked, “can’t believe you have tattoos under your ass cheeks.”

Louis looked up fast, face going red, “you have one on your face! It’s literally right there!”

Harry licked his bottom lip, “I really like your tattoos.” He smirked, “a little too much I think.”

Louis looked away, smile tickling his face. “Whatever –I like your face one, I guess.”

“You guess?” Harry snorted, tickling his feet into Louis’ sides. “I love yours and you guess you like mine?”

Louis giggled, moving away. “I love it –I love them.” Louis twisted his toes, mumbling, “…love you.”

It was normally quiet in Harry’s house but it became pin falling quiet. So quiet, Louis could hear the sweat falling down the side of his face. So quiet, he could practically hear Petal screaming at him in her head. So quiet, Louis could hear his stomach digesting. Louis wanted the silence to break into thousands of screaming pieces. Those pieces would rip up their memories and he was going to take all of those pieces and swallow them with a cup of lemonade. The lemonade in Harry’s fridge that he specially bought for Louis. Harry hadn’t even touched it, he didn’t even drink it. It wasn’t bought for Harry.

“Why so quiet?” Harry was smiling so wide. It was the widest smile Louis had ever seen in his fucking existence. “Regret what you said?”

Louis wanted to scream. He was having a panic attack. It felt like he was teleported back into his seven year old body. He was running away from his voice –no, his voice was running away from him.

“I hope not.” Harry glanced down, lips pressed tightly together. “Or maybe,” He chuckled, “Dog got your tongue?”

Chapter Text

“Liam, Liam,” Louis chanted lifting both hands. “I meant to tell you eventually.”

“That’s he’s a criminal!” Liam flailed his arms, “what did he even do?”

“Nothing major.” Louis shrugged, “he didn’t kill anyone or anything.”

Liam rolled his eyes, “oh God. You make it sound like it’s still okay that he went to jail at all.”

Louis wiggled his fingers, “I mean, it’s kinda important why someone goes to jail, isn’t it?”

“He is a criminal! He won’t even be allowed around kids!”

“Luckily,” Louis preened, “I don’t want any and he had a pardon –I think.”

“You think?” Liam groaned, “Jesus, Louis, what have you gotten yourself into. Does Niall know?”

Louis made a stupid face before mimicking his friend, “‘does Niall know?’ Of course fucking not. Could you imagine what would happen?”

Liam fixed his shirt, “remember that time we knocked over that candle and burned half of your backyard?”

“Yeah.”

“Pretend that candle is a fucking dragon, your ugly brother, and your house is you and pretend that right outside your house is that guy.”

“Harry.”

“Yeah, and he’s also getting burned alive.

Louis rolled his eyes, “we don’t hang out as much because you’re too dramatic.”

Liam crossed his arms, “speak up, can’t hear you.” Louis glared at his friend who brushed it off. “So, what do you plan on doing? Hiding him in a box for the rest of your life?”

“You are so negative –another reason!”

“You really should open your mouth wider, no one can hear anything you’re saying.” He sat up straight, “you eventually have to have him meet everyone.”

“No, I don’t.”

“What?” Liam closed his eyes. “You really plan on keeping him a secret.”

“Not him,” Louis played with his thumbs. “Just physical him.” His friend stared at him for a long time before Louis pulled at his face. “He has a goddamn tattoo on his face! Niall won’t even look at him! Niall wouldn’t even let me get one!”

“You can’t get a job with those things.” Liam sighed, “I think I may have to agree with you, though. You have to hide him.”

“I love his tattoo face now.” Louis pouted, “he’s so cute with it and it’s not like I want him to change it.” Louis’ eyes grew, he snapped his fingers, “oh shit! I have an idea!”

“Oh God.” Liam was ready to roll to the floor. “This is already bad.”

“He normally wears make up around the kids!” Louis stood up, “when he meets the family, he can wear his cover up!”

Liam thought about it, “That’s actually a good idea.”

“Yes!” Louis fisted pumped the air. “This is gunna be great!”

Liam settled him down, “so, what happened after you told him you loved him?”

Louis curled into a ball on the carpet, “oh kill me.”

Liam crossed one leg over the other, “you disgust me.”

“I disgust myself.”

“You don’t say you love someone after two days.”

“Go fuck yourself. It’s been way longer than that.”

“Oh sorry,” Liam patted his shoulder, “three days.”

“You’re such bad energy, why do I even hang out with you?”

“I am literally your only friend and the best only friend you’ve ever had.”

“Blah, blah.” Louis covered his ears, “any way, he was so sweet about it.” Louis sighed, “he’s so nice, Liam. He’s just really sweet –check.”

“I don’t know what you’re saying.”

“I don’t care.” Louis mumbled, sitting up, “I like him.”

“You love him,” Liam pointed out.

“I see why Niall hates you,” Louis glared.

Liam stood up, rubbing Louis’ hair, “Niall can suck my dick.”

-

“Hey, babe.” Harry closed the door with the back of his foot. “How was your day?”

“Good,” Louis purred on the other end. “How was class?”

“Good.” Harry set down his groceries, bending down to nuzzle Petal. “Where are you? It’s a little loud.”

“Loud? I’m at my brother’s house. They are having a barbecue. Maybe that’s why.”

“Oh, I didn’t mean to bother.”

“No, no!” Louis shifted on the phone, making Harry smile. “Don’t hang up, hold on!” It was funny when Louis tried speaking loud. When Louis spoke it always sounded the same, never lower or louder. Sometimes he sounded like he was sick but nothing more than that.

“Can you hear me? –Harry? Hello?”

“Yes, yes.” Harry put his milk away, “I can hear you fine.”

“Oh, good.” Louis cleared his throat. He should have texted him but he wanted to hear Louis. It was selfish of him when Louis may have been using his voice a lot today already. “What did you eat today?”

“Eat? Hm,” Harry thought back to the morning. “I had some cereal –I actually tried some of your lemonade. It’s alright.” He picked up a bag of lemons, “I bought some lemons so I could try and make you some homemade lemonade.”

“Wow.”

Harry raised a brow, stopping before putting the bags of lemons in his fridge. “Not a good idea?”

“It’s literally the best idea. I’m so happy, I can’t stop smiling.”

Harry rubbed his eyes, smile creeping up on him. “That’s not a bad thing.”

“Not at all.” Louis breathed, “I want you to meet my mom and brother and stuff. Is that bad?”

Harry stilled, “um, no. That’s not a bad idea.” He leaned on the fridge, “you sure though?”

“I mean, I met your family –sort of.” Louis sounded so nervous. “I just thought maybe you’d wanna meet mine. I mean not now or anything. I don’t wanna pressure you or make you uncomfortable.” Louis paused, “no pressure! Say no if you want to. I don’t care.”

Harry chuckled, “I mean, yeah. I’ll meet them. I don’t mind –it may be kind of awkward. Like, are we meeting as a couple or am I just your friend?”

“Oh.” Louis didn’t talk for a short time. “We aren’t a couple.”

“We aren’t?”

“Oh my God, are we? Did I mess up?”

Harry laughed, “I don’t know, Louis. We’re taking it slow. We can be whatever. I just want to know how I’m gunna be introduced.”

“If I say as a friend?”

“Then I’m a friend.”

“And as a couple?”

“Then I’m gunna probably be holding you all night long.”

“Oh.” Another round of silence. “A couple. I wanna be a couple.”

Harry threw his head back, barking out a laugh. “That’s cute.”

“You’re cute.” Louis groaned, “so cute –so sweet.”

“Thank you, Louis.”

“You're welcome. –Ooh, I found something.”

“What did you find?” Harry grabbed Petal’s dog food from the cabinet.

“I found a roach.”

“Ew.” Harry smiled, slightly grossed out. “I’m afraid to go to your brother’s house now.”

“You’re afraid of roaches?”

“No, but I don’t know how I feel about seeing one once I come through the door.”

Louis giggled, the sweetest sound. “Well I’m actually walking around the block. –He ran away. Zayn is a lawyer, he might as well live in a Cathedral. No roaches there.” Louis coughed, “I think it’s going to rain.”

“Go back to your brother’s place. I don’t want you getting wet.”

“Yeah, I don’t feel like getting wet either.”

“Yeah, you don’t like the rain.”

“Aw, you remembered.”

“Of course I remembered.” Harry walked to his bedroom, “I like you enough to remember things about you.”

Louis squealed, “that’s so cute!” He took a deep breath, “I like you too.”

“You love me,” Harry chuckled.

Louis clammed up, “oh God, you’re just like Liam!”

“That’s your friend, right? You don’t talk about him much.”

“He’s cool. Kind of a dick but I don’t hate him. I like hanging out with you more.” Harry was about to speak but Louis whined, “oh no! It’s raining!”

“I thought you were already home?”

“Shit!” It sounded like he was running. “I’ll call you back!”

“Okay.” Harry looked down at the ‘end call’. He sighed with a smile, setting his phone down. The teacher laid down, petting his dog’s head with a lazy hand. “Oh, Petal.” He turned on his side, “I like him a lot, girl.” Harry reached for his phone when it blared, “hello?”

“Haz.”

Harry sat up, “hey, what’s up?”

Cory didn’t say anything at first, “uh, can I come by? I’m in the neighborhood.”

Harry rolled his eyes, “what’s wrong?”

“Got caught up in some shit.”

“Oh no, no.” Harry got up, “you better not bring shit to my house.”

“I’m with Ryan,” He groaned. “I just need to stay somewhere for the night.”

Harry closed his eyes, pulling at his hair, “fucking asshole.” He shook his head, rubbing a hand over his face. “Yeah, come by.”

 

Chapter Text

           

“He’s really nice, Niall.” Louis scrubbed at a dirty plate before placing it in the washing machine.

“Is he in school?” His brother sprayed his counter top, wiping it off. “Does he work?”

“He is a chorus teacher.” Louis twisted his mouth, “I don’t think he went to college.”

“If he’s a chorus teacher then he went to school.”

Louis looked at the now empty sink, “he teaches kids how to sing at a rented out room. He didn’t go to school for it.” Louis could be wrong.

“Hm,” Niall made an indifferent sound, opening the cabinet by Louis’ legs. “Where’s he from?”

“Here,” Louis whistled softly, moving aside. “He was born here.” Harry was adopted so there was a possibility that he was born somewhere else.

Niall stood up, wiping his shirt. He leaned against the counter, “do you have a picture of him?”

“Um, no.” Louis crossed his fingers together, blushing, “that’s kinda weird.”

“I guess.” Niall paused, “what’s he look like?”

Louis didn’t have to lie, he really didn’t. He could just say what Harry actually looked like and let Niall bitch about it but lying seemed so much easier.

“He has long curly hair.” Not a lie. “He slicks it back.” Lie. “Um –clean cut. He’s tall, slim –really good looking.” Everything was fairly true. Louis preferred not to mention the tattoos all over his body nor the empty piercings on Harry’s ear lobes. He failed to mention Harry’s laid back demeanor and that he didn’t talk prim and proper. He definitely didn’t talk about how Harry was in prison for most of his teenage to adult life nor why.

His brother smirked, “and how did you find this good looking man?”

Louis smiled nervously, “well, we didn’t have the best first meeting.” Niall motioned him to continue. “I uh –I dropped my drink on his book. On his uh –three hundred dollar book.

“You what?”

“I know.” Louis cringed at the memory, “he was so mad.” It was the only time he’d ever actually saw Harry really upset.

“And he didn’t kill you?” Niall snorted, “he must have some serious patience.”

Louis nibbled on his lip, “yeah.” He smiled, “he’s great.”

Niall squinted at his brother for a while, “I’m having a dinner party for Zayn’s friend soon.” He nudged Louis softly, “invite him. I want to meet him.”

Louis’ stomach lurched but he nodded once, “yeah, okay.”

-

“Harry?”

“Hey,” Harry sounded aggravated. “What’s up?”

Louis stopped putting clothes in his bag, “did I get you at a bad time?”

“Kind of, why?”

“Oh.” Louis sat on his rug, “never mind. I can talk to you another day.”

Harry sighed, “You called me now for something. What do you need?”

Louis didn’t say anything. He pulled at his rug not sure what to actually say. “Nothing, Harry. Bye.” He hung up and pushed his phone away. Louis brought his knees close, considering everything he could have possibly done to piss the man off. Maybe Harry somehow heard him talking to Niall.

Louis was probably being selfish. Harry should be allowed to be stressed like every other human being. Louis just never wanted Harry to be stressed with him.

He glanced at his phone on the other side of the rug as it lit up. Louis let it ring until it stopped. A few seconds later and it was going off again. He crawled to it, taking a deep breath before answering it.

“Hello?”

“Are you fucking kidding me?” Louis swallowed hard. “Yo, don’t ignore my calls, don’t hang up on me. It’s fucking rude.”

“Sorry.”

Harry groaned, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to get loud with you. My brother came by with Ryan. They’re going to sleep over and I honestly don’t need this right now but he had Ryan so I said yes.”

“Oh.” Louis pulled on his lip, “I’m sorry. Why’d he come by?”

“Got caught up in bullshit. I’m sorry about that, Lou. What’s up, baby, are you okay?”

Louis blushed softly, stomach fumbling. Harry sounded so good when he was sweet. When he’d call Louis baby or something else endearing. His smooth voice did wonders for Louis’ heart.

Louis opened his mouth, clearing it, “I was calling-” He moved the phone from his ear to cough into his palm. He spoke a lot tonight, probably too much. He shook his head, closing his eyes –embarrassed. He put the phone to his ear, trying to speak, but only broke sounds came out.

“Louis? You there? What happened?”

Louis threw the phone, holding his throat. He closed his eyes, trying to calm down. This happened sometimes, he had to keep calm.

“Do,” He shook his head, “do, re, mi.” Louis rubbed his eyes, refusing to go to his mother. He covered his ears when his cell phone began ringing. When it finally stopped Louis uncovered them. He scurried for his phone when it started to sound again. Louis quickly ignored it, sending Harry a text.

‘I’m so sorry, can’t talk –literally’

Louis closed his eyes, continuing his do, re, mi. He was considering just going to bed because in the morning everything would be better. His voice would be back.

He looked at the text he got back.

‘Relax’

‘Come over?’

Louis’ heart fluttered and he set his phone down just before he started crying. He groaned into his hands. He couldn’t talk, Harry knew this and still wanted him to come over. Louis was packing to ask if he could sleep over. After his conversation at Niall’s he really wanted to see Harry. Talking about the man reminded him of what a great guy Harry really was, and he just wanted to be around him.

He thought about Cory. What would Cory say when Louis wasn’t talking because Louis wasn’t going to be talking –at all. He wouldn’t, he couldn’t.

Louis texted him back a few minutes after.

‘I won’t be able to talk to anyone’

Louis put the phone in his lap. He didn’t dare continue packing just in case Harry changed his mind. Just in case he didn’t want to explain why his ‘boyfriend’ couldn’t talk. Before Harry could be embarrassed by him or pity him.

The phone buzzed twice and Louis didn’t dare read it until he finished his sixth round of voice exercises.

‘You don’t need to talk or answer to anyone’

‘Want you here’

Louis started packing.

-

Louis smiled at the two men sitting outside of their home. He walked around the back and down a small stair case to Harry’s door. Harry’s shoes were outside, drying it seemed. He rubbed a hand on his shirt before knocking. He tried his best to calm down, it was three in the morning on a Friday.

Louis smiled when he heard small scratching against the door. Petal had to know it was him. A few seconds later and Harry’s locks were being undone.

Louis smiled at the sight of Harry in grey pajama pants. The music teacher smiled tiredly at him. He motioned Louis to come in, Petal instantly sniffing all over him.

The whole place was dark, Louis blinked a few times to adjust.

“Hey, babe.” Harry leaned down to kiss him, before hugging him. He kissed Louis’ cheek softly, kissing his neck. “Sorry that you can’t talk.”

Louis opened his mouth but closed it. He wanted to tell Harry not be sorry, it wasn’t his fault.

“I’m happy you came,” Harry turned on the hallway light, smiling at Louis. “You make me comfortable.”

He grabbed Louis’ hand, bringing him to the living room where soft snoring filled his ears. Louis brought Harry’s hand to his lips, kissing his knuckles. He hoped Harry understood his thank you.

Harry opened his bedroom door. The light was on, so was the TV. It was funny. It was on the same channel Louis had left it on when he was here the last time. Harry clearly never watched TV.

He put his stuff beside Harry’s bed and put his shoes in Harry’s closet. The room was the same, the comforter was flipped on one side and Louis suddenly felt sick. Harry and him never slept in the same bed together. They’d never even laid in bed together. Louis tugged at his shirt. Oh, he was nervous.

“Gunna bring two water bottles.” Harry let Petal trot in first before leaving. Louis bent down to pet her. He smiled, wishing he could praise her. Instead, Louis held her close, knowing that she understood. Harry came back with two bottles of water. He closed the door with his foot, handing one to Louis before opening his.

“You okay?”

Louis lifted his hand making a knocking motion before rolling his eyes at himself. He nodded with a smile and a thumbs up.

“Is that how you say okay in sign language?” Harry fell onto his low bed, putting his bottle on the night stand, “like that?” He copied the motion.

Louis smiled, slowly sitting beside Harry. He shook his head no. He turned his head to the side, before mouthing, ‘yes.’

“Oh,” Harry snapped, “it means yes. That makes sense.” He smiled, a hand under his head. “How do you say no?”

Louis lifted his index and middle finger, putting them down.

Harry copied, “that’s cool.” He sighed, “I know you can’t really respond but did something bad happen?”

Louis shook his head quickly. He shrugged, opening his mouth and pointing at it, shrugging again.

Harry smiled, “wow, I understood all of that.”

Louis shoved him with a smile. He pointed at Harry, then a thumb at the door. Harry nodded, “he owes some people something and he was with Ryan when they ran up on him. Ryan’s mom is freaking out. I tried telling her that they’re fine but she keeps blowing up my phone so I shut it off. I wouldn’t have said yes if Ryan wasn’t with him.”

Louis nodded, with a shrug. Harry was a really good guy.

“You work tomorrow?” Louis nodded but then shook his head. “You aren’t going to work tomorrow?”

Louis nodded.

“Wanna hang out with me? I honestly don’t want to be around my brother.” Louis bounced on his knees with a big smile. He made a knocking motion vigorously. Harry grinned, “You’re so cute.” He wiggled closer to Louis. “Really love being around you, Lou.” Louis wiggled closer to Harry’s embrace, sighing at the contact. He wanted to tell Harry how good he felt being with him too but he could only manage a forehead kiss.

Harry wrapped his arms around Louis’ body, folding his hands. He put their foreheads together. “I haven’t felt like this in a long time.” He closed his eyes, “I’m sorry if I scared you or was rude to you earlier, on the phone.”

Louis wrapped his arms around Harry’s neck and hugged him tight. He kissed the top of his head over and over. He moved away a little, putting down his middle and ring finger only leaving up his pinky, index and thumb sticking out.

Harry grinned, “What’s that mean?”

Louis shrugged, kissing Harry’s cheek. Harry smoothed his hand down Louis’ side. “I’m gunna find out what it means, you know?”

Louis closed his eyes, nuzzling his face into the crook of Harry’s neck. He shrugged once more, wanting to pause time if only for a moment.

-

Cory smiled at Louis through low eyes. He had Ryan squirming in his lap, with a dark bruise under his eye. “Louis.” He adjusted Ryan. “Good morning.”

Louis scratched his arm with a tight wave. He forgot Harry’s brother was here and now all he wanted to do was retreat back to the room. He looked around briefly, hoping Harry was going to wake up soon so he wouldn’t have to explain why he couldn’t speak.

Ryan turned his head, screaming when he saw Louis. The boy squirmed away from his father, running to Louis’ legs. “Hello!”

Louis beamed, bending down. He glanced at Harry’s room making sure it was closed.

“Hi! –Daddy!” Ryan ran back to his dad on the pull out couch. “Look daddy!”

“I see him.” Cory pulled his child back into his lap, feeding him a slice of banana. “Sit Louis.”

Louis took a small breath before strolling over to the bed. He sat on the edge, smiling at Ryan before looking up at his father.

“I didn’t hear you come in last night.” Cory grinned, “How are you?”

Louis lifted two thumbs then played with his shirt. He glanced at the window behind Cory. It was really early but Louis couldn’t sleep.

“It’s pretty early.” He pointed at Ryan who smashed pieces of banana in his mouth. “He gets up early.” Cory sat his son on the bed. “You’re up early.”

Louis looked at Harry’s bedroom for the fifth time. He nodded once, starting to blush. Cory would eventually question his silence.

Cory smiled, looking down then back up. “You’re quiet.”

Louis inwardly groaned. He shrugged softly, not sure how to explain.

“Harry told me that sometimes your voice kind of –fucks up?” Louis’ eyes grew. “Don’t be mad at him or nothing.” Cory pulled Ryan’s hands from his mouth. “He didn’t want me questioning it so he told me last night.” Cory shrugged, “it’s cool.”

Louis didn’t say anything. He just nodded before scooting towards the end of the bed.

“I’ll be out of your guy’s hair in a few.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “It was a tough night.”

Louis liked Cory, he seemed like a really nice guy but Louis knew not to put his guard down.

Cory laid back on the bed, his son jumping on him making Louis smile. “Alright, Ryan, I fed you. Let me fucking sleep.” Louis stood up, waving at the small boy who waved back and settled on his father’s chest.

He walked back to the bedroom, having the door open before he could touch the handle. Harry leaned against the frame, rubbing one eye. “Where’d you go?”

Louis shook his head, mouthing ‘nowhere’. He slid under Harry’s arm, with Petal passing by him to the living room.

-

“Harry.”

“Hey,” The man spun around. “You’re talking.”

Louis nodded with a blush. “Yeah, just finished my exercises.” He stretched, “you told your brother about my voice.”

“Yeah, I didn’t want him bugging you about it.”

“Thanks.” Louis sighed, sitting on Harry’s counter. “I’m still so tired.”

“Go back to sleep.” Harry put Petal's dog food away before walking in between Louis’ swinging legs.

“We’re going to the dog park though.”

Harry groaned, pressing his face into Louis’ neck. “The dog park.”

“Yeah, it’s pretty early. Petal’s going to have so much fun.”

“Fine, but you carry her home if she freezes up.”

“Deal.” Louis shook Harry’s hand in one firm shake. He swung his feet back and forth while Harry pulled out a pitcher of lemonade. “Oh, you didn’t.”

“I told you,” Harry smiled. “I bought lemons to make you lemonade.”

Louis squeezed his eyes shut, “You’re trying to kill me.”

“Never.” Harry pulled two cups from the cabinet. “We’ll both try it together.”

Louis gasped, “You haven’t tried it! How do you know if it’s good or not?”

Harry poured two cups, “I watched four YouTube videos to make this.” He handed Louis a cup, “How bad could it be?”

“Oh no.” Louis barely cheered his glass with Harry’s. “That usually ends with it being bad.”

“Let’s find out.”

“No...” Louis slowly put the cup to his lips, whispering ‘no’s’ the whole time.

“Ugh!” Harry put his glass down and spit in the sink. “That’s fucking awful!

Louis cringed at the sour taste. He tilted his head back and forth, “eh, it’s actually not too bad.” He sipped it again, “I kind of like it.”

“Yuck, fuck.” Harry rinsed his mouth. He lifted the pitcher to his face, “That’s nasty.”

“No!” Louis grabbed Harry’s arm to stop him from tossing the drink. “I liked it!”

“I don’t think anyone should drink this.”

“Stop!” Louis whined. He pulled the pitcher away, “You made it for me, so don’t toss it.”

Harry lifted a brow at him, “You’re gunna get a fucking hole in your stomach.”

“And, if I do, I bet it’d be in the shape of a heart.” Louis lashes fluttered, “Because you made it special for me.”

Harry hunched over, holding his stomach, laughing aloud. Harry didn’t laugh often but, when he did, it was intoxicating. It ruined any ‘scary’ demeanor he had. No one could take him seriously if they saw what Louis saw. It was beautiful.

In that moment he almost regretted not telling Niall about Harry’s laugh.

About how lovely it sounded.

That it complimented him.

But, then again, it was a nice little secret only Louis could see.

Chapter Text

Petal did freeze up.

Louis did keep his promise and carried her home.

-

“Oh,” Louis moaned, “my back. Someone call a chiropractor.” He laid over Harry’s couch, arm flung over his eyes.

“I told you,” Harry kicked off his shoes. “She gets scared.”

“Well, I carried her.” Louis stretched, “she is heavier than she looks.”

“When you’re walking six blocks, most things are heavier than they look.” Harry lifted Louis’ legs, sitting beside him before laying Louis’ legs over his own. He massaged Louis’ calves slowly. “But I am surprised you actually did it.”

Louis lifted his thumb, “I am a trooper.”

The place was quiet.

Petal’s soft snoring keeping the room lively.

He sat up a little, allowing Harry to continue massaging his legs. “My, um, my brother is having a dinner for Zayn and his friends.” Louis pressed his lips together. “He wanted me to invite you.”

“Oh yeah, sure. When?”

Louis scrambled onto his knees, “really? No questions asked?”

“We’ve talked about me meeting your family a couple of times, haven’t we?” Harry rubbed the top of Louis’ cheek, “I don’t see a problem with it. I mean, it’s a little early but you met my mom.”

Louis smiled, “wow, you’re great.”

Harry leaned forward, kissing Louis briefly, “thanks, you’re not too bad yourself.”

“Harry,” Louis whined. “There’s a small problem –big problem.”

Harry sat back, arms crossed. “I’ve probably had bigger problems.”

“I lied.”

Harry tilted his head, “this conversation is getting really confusing.”

“To my brother –and mother. I lied to them about a couple of things.”

“About me?” Harry frowned, “what’d you say?”

“No,” Louis crawled into Harry’s lap. “Oh, no. Don’t be sad.” He clutched Harry’s head to his chest, patting his head. “I don’t want to tell you if you’re going to be upset.”

Harry chuckled, face mushed into Louis’ shirt. “You have to tell me if I’m going to meet them.”

“I may have told them you were clean cut, no tattoos, didn’t mention you being jail.” Louis spoke quickly. “May have painted a slightly different picture of you.” Louis squeezed Harry’s face closer to him so he wouldn’t have to face him. “Please don’t walk away.”

“Well, I still need to breathe.”

Louis pulled away slowly, “I’m sorry.” He pouted, “My family sucks and they aren’t as accepting as I am. My brother would flip.”

Harry fixed his hair, “your brother sounds like he has a complex problem.” Harry rubbed his neck, “I get it though. I’ve had girlfriends who hid me from their parents.”

“I’m not trying to hide you!” Louis frowned, “and I’m not a girlfriend.”

“Yeah, you’re a boyfriend. First time for everything.”

“Harry!” Louis curled into the corner of the couch. “Are you going to stay mad at me?”

He rubbed the back of his head, “I’m not mad because I’m not really surprised. I told you, I’m used to this. Just a little disappointed but I’ll get over it.”

“Disappointed is worse than angry! Disappointment festers!”

“I’ll be fine.” Harry chewed on his lip, “how do you expect me to meet them then?”

“It doesn’t matter, I want to introduce you as you now. I can’t care what they think.”

“Lou, it’s fine. How were you going to do it in the first place?”

“Nope.”

“Tell me.”

“I don’t want to!” Louis covered his eyes. “I don’t want to be every other person you’ve met.”

Harry moved his hands, “you aren’t, relax.” He kissed his forehead, “how were you gunna do it?”

“Try to change the way you talk, cover your tattoos with makeup, and cut your hair.” Louis covered his ears. “It sounds worse out loud.”

Harry’s eyes grew, “Jesus.” He sat back, “You might as well find someone else.”

“No!” Louis flung himself at Harry again. He pulled Harry’s face back to his chest. “I want you, I’m sorry. I don’t want that at all.”

“I can’t breathe again.”

“I don’t care!”

“I can’t meet anyone if I’m dead, Louis.”

“Why do you still want to meet them? Why are you so passive and perfect! Fuck! I feel like a monster!”

Harry gently touched Louis’ sides, pushing him away slowly, “relax –again.” He took a deep breath, “thank you for not suffocating me, I appreciate it.”

“You’re welcome.”

Harry grinned, “I think we should talk about this later.” He pinched Louis’ nose. “Let’s go somewhere.”

Louis pouted cutely, “Where?”

“I don’t know.” He pulled Louis’ back to his chest. Harry played with his pinky fingers, “pick somewhere.”

“I want ice cream.” Louis wiggled his pinkies against Harry’s fingers. “I feel sad now.”

“It is the morning, I doubt any ice cream shops are even open.”

Louis tilted his head back, groaning, “That’s what I want.”

Harry smiled, kissing his throat multiple times. “That’s what you want?”

“Yes.”

He pulled Louis’ face down, pressing his forehead to Louis’, “alright, we can go to the supermarket if you want. I’ll buy you cream.”

“I can buy it.”

“Thanks for the offer,” he lifted his head, wrapping his arms securely around Louis’ front. “But I have to buy groceries anyway.”

“Oh yes,” Louis hummed, “that sounds like a couple thing.”

“Does it?” Harry chuckled.

“It does.” Louis turned around kissing all over Harry’s face. “I like you so much. I’m sorry.”

“I like you so much too.” He nestled his face in Louis’ neck, “and I told you it was fine, Louis, we’re good.”

Chapter Text

 

“I’ve never been to this supermarket.” Harry pulled out a shopping cart, “looks nice.”

Louis nodded, holding onto the side of the cart. “They give out samples here.”

“You want one, baby?”

Louis shook his head, leaning on Harry, “I’m fine, thanks.”

-

“Let’s get the ice cream last so it doesn’t melt.”

Louis smiled, putting the bread Harry asked for in the cart. “Kay.” He scratched his arm, he was still sleepy.

“You’re quiet,” Harry pointed out. “you good?”

“Eh,” Louis shrugged, “my throat’s itchy.”

“Want to get some lozenges?”

“I will.” He wrapped his body around Harry’s while he looked at the assortment of meats.

“Are you staying tonight?”

“May I?”

“You may.”

Louis smiled, “yes.”

“Want chicken for dinner?”

Louis nodded, he didn’t really care what they ate. It would just be nice. He felt like an old married couple. Harry did everything with class and care. He was so calm, forearms always resting on the cart as they pushed it through the store. He kept the cart always pushed to the side, explaining that it was rude to just leave it in the middle of the walk way –his mother had always reminded him of that.

Harry was the definition of cool, calm, and collected.

The man got riled for nothing. Not when someone cut him off while driving, not even when people were in his way, not even when people ignored him. Harry was flawless, and Louis wanted to know his secrets.

“Baby? You there?”

“You’re perfect.”

“What?”

“What?”

Harry laughed softly, “I’m what?”

“If I’m honest, I don’t know what I said. I was probably thinking out loud.”

“Okay, Louis.” Harry put a couple of different meats in his cart. “Do you want potatoes?”

“Can we have fries?”

“Chicken and fries?” Harry shrugged, “yeah, sure.” Louis rolled his eyes catching Harry’s eyes. “Do you not want me to agree with you?”

Louis frowned, “What?”

Harry raised a brow, “You rolled your eyes at me.”

“Did I really?”

Harry pressed his lips together, crossing his arms. “Are you having memory loss or something?”

“What? No!” Louis laughed, “Oh my God, I’m so sorry. It’s just that you never disagree with me. You just go with it. If you want potatoes, please, get potatoes.”

“Why disagree with you? I like fries.”

“Yes,” Louis cleared his throat. “But you don’t have to say yes to everything I want.”

“Why not?”

Louis lifted his arms before letting them fall. “I don’t know, why would you?”

“Because I don’t want to do what we’re doing right now. If I want potatoes, I will get them. But you want fries, so why not just get both. Fortunately, we are able to do that, and I like fries anyway. I was thinking about making grilled chicken but now that you want fries, we should make fried chicken. It works out fine. There was no reason for this conversation.”

“Wow, you’re perfect.”

“What?”

“What?”

-

“You wanna run and get the ice cream and we’ll go?”

Louis nodded, “I will.”

“I’m going to the line.” Harry looked around. “This place is fucking weird.”

“I know,” Louis shook his head, “why do they let adults sit in the carts?”

“I have no idea, you saw that guy?”

“Yep. Let me get the ice cream. I’ll meet you at the line.”

Louis skipped away, walking past a few aisles before stopping at the end of one. He cut his eyes at the familiar figure jumping up and down. It looked sort of looked like the guy that was sitting in the cart. Louis didn’t really get to see his face.

The guy screamed several times at something on a high shelf before trying to jump again. Louis looked away, quickly scurrying away to the frozen section. They probably shouldn’t come here again.

-

“You saw him in the cereal section?”

“Yeah,” Louis’ eyes grew. “He looked crazy.” He put Petals’ food away, “the supermarket wasn’t too bad, their samples were good.”

“Yeah,” Harry put a bunch of lemons on the counter. “You wanna start squeezing them?”

“Yep!” Louis sucked happily on his minty lozenge. His throat felt more opened. “I watched enough YouTube videos in the car. I got this.”

“I’m pouring the other one out.” Harry pulled the pitcher from the fridge.

“No! It’s mine!”

“Louis, there is no room for two pitchers and anyway, this is the only pitcher I have.”

Louis looked away while Harry poured it out. He pulled his phone from his pocket as it went off. “Hello?”

“Lou, where the hell are you?”

“Hi, Niall. I’m fine thanks.”

“Louis, what the fuck. Mom said she woke up and you’re not home.”

“I slept over my friend’s place.”

“Could you maybe call and tell someone.”

Louis pulled on his lip nervously, “sorry.”

“Could you please just call her, she’s freaking out.”

“Niall, I’m an adult.”

“I know, Louis, but you live with her. At least tell her you’re going out.”

“Okay.”

Niall sighed, “Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” Louis smiled. “I’m really good actually.”

Niall snorted, “You sound really good. You two had sex?”

Louis glanced at Harry who glanced at him. Why was his brother’s voice so loud? “Uh, no. No, we didn’t.”

“Oh, well you sound like you did. Did you ask him about the party?”

Louis’ face was going red. “I did.”

“And?”

Louis looked at Harry who was no longer looking at him. “Uh, I think he might come.”

“Cool, tell him it’s sort of formal. He doesn’t have to wear a suit but a button down and some jeans will do.”

Louis groaned, “Kay.”

“Get over it –and call mom, bye.”

“Bye.” Louis sighed, sticking his phone back in his pocket. “Sorry about that.”

“It’s good. So, button down and jeans?”

Louis covered his eyes, “yeah.”

Harry poked his side, “its fine. I’ve had plenty of court dates, I have clothes.”

Louis giggled, “I’m such an idiot.”

“The long sleeves will hide my tattoos.” Louis’ eyes rested on the one on Harry’s face. “And I can put makeup on my face.”

Louis shook his head, “don’t.” He tapped his fingers on the counter. Niall would kill Harry where he stood. “Don’t wear any cover up, just wear you.”

“Okay, I’m obviously not going to do that. I know this tattoo brings up a lot of attention.”

“Harry, you really don’t have to.”

“I know.” He smiled, “it’s okay.”

Louis touched his phone, “I’m going to call my mom really quick, okay?”

“Kay,” Harry smirked, “by the way, you don’t sound fucked out.”

Louis’ jaw fell, “oh my God.” He slapped Harry, “Don’t say that. You made me feel weird!”

“Bad?”

“No!” Louis turned bright red, “oh my God, I can’t believe you said that before I have to talk to my mother!”

“My bad, my bad. Go call your ‘mother’.”

Louis walked away, stepping into the kitchen briefly. “What would I sound like if I was –fucked out?”

“You know last night?”

“I couldn’t even talk last night.”

“Exactly.”

Chapter Text

“Don’t hate me.”

Harry didn’t turn around, instead he kept cutting the lemons. “What’s up?”

“A couple of my regulars are asking if I can walk their dogs –today.”

“That’s fine.” Harry wiped his hands on a towel. “You have to go?”

“Not right now! I want to make the lemonade.” Louis curled his toes against the cold floor. “I was wondering if you maybe want to come with me –to walk them –today?”

“Yeah, of course. It’ll give us something to do.”

“I’m so happy I met you and not someone else.”

Harry snorted, “you’re so weird.” He kissed Louis’ before walking past him, “I’m going to pee. I cut the lemons for you.”

Louis jumped up and down, clapping like a fucking seal. Harry was way too good for him or anyone for that matter. What type of luck did Louis receive from the universe? Harry just said yes –to everything. Everything was either a shrug or, ‘sure’. He had to be the best person Louis’ ever met.

Louis calmed down. He was starting to look like the idiot at the grocery store.

He took a deep breath before squeezing the lemons into a small bowl. By the time Harry came back he squeezed out one full lemon. It was a lot harder without a lemon squeezer. Louis felt even more special that Harry had taken his time and squeezed out so many lemons just for him.

“Yeah, yeah, that’s fine.” Harry opened his refrigerator, phone between his ear and shoulder. “Where are you by?”

Louis was trying not to be nosey, but Harry never mentioned he had friends even though it didn’t make sense why he wouldn’t have any friends.

“Okay, let me know when you’re out front. Alright, bye.”

Sometimes Harry’s voice was rough, deep and sexy, like now. He was sweet as hell, but Louis saw way beneath that. Saw more to Harry than just his sweetness.

Louis considered the lemons he was squeezing. Feeling too much like them.

“How’s it going?”

Louis jumped slightly, “uh, not very far.”

Harry chuckled, stepping behind him. He set his head on Louis’ shoulder and swayed them softly. “It’s going well, it looks like.” He kissed the side of Louis’ neck. “A couple of friends are coming by –not in the house but they’re gunna drop off some money.”

Louis stopped swaying. “Do you –sell drugs?”

Harry laughed, that ridiculously loud laugh, sending pins up Louis’ spine. “No, I don’t sell drugs.” He slowly came down from his laugh high. “I used to –used to do a lot of things.” He nestled his face into the crook of Louis’ neck. “They owe me some money I lent them.”

“Oh,” Louis chuckled nervously. “Okay.”

“I don’t sell drugs, Louis.”

“I know.” Louis pulled Harry back when he felt him lean away. He laid back against him, picking the seeds out of the lemon juice. “I know you don’t, I believe you.”

“Good.” He rubbed thumb circles into Louis’ hip bones. “I was telling you, because I wanted to introduce you to them.”

Louis stopped trying to pick out the seeds. He turned around awkwardly, now pressed against the counter. “Meet your friends? Are you sure?”

“Yeah, they wanted me to go out, but I told them I was with you.”

“No, go out!”

“Shh,” Harry hushed him. “I’m with you and they asked me if you could come out. You don’t have to go to the car, but you can wave.”

“Do I look ugly?”

“No, and none of them are gay so they won’t really care.”

“It doesn’t matter, I could still look decent for your friends.”

“Yeah,” Harry kissed him slowly. “I think you look perfect.” He kissed him slower, letting his tongue circle Louis’ mouth. He pushed a warm hand on the side of Louis’ neck, deepening the kiss. Louis leaned up, hands tugging at Harry’s gray T-shirt. He panted softly, Harry lips centimeters from his own.

“Just perfect, baby.”

Louis whined softly, pulling Harry’s hands around his hips. He locked his fingers around Harry’s neck pulling him down slightly. Louis liked kissing Harry, he liked that Harry was an experienced kisser. His kisses were careful, he made sure their mouths fit together. Louis’ tongue moved gently against Harry’s warm one. He didn’t want to rush the kiss, Harry didn’t seem like he was trying to either.

Harry’s large hands crept down to Louis’ ass, he fit each cheek in each hand. He cupped it tightly, bringing out a low moan from the back of Louis’ throat. Kneading Louis’ cheeks in tight circles, Harry placed kisses down Louis’ face to the side of his neck.

Louis could finally catch his breath, but it was short lived as Harry sucked softly on his already flushed skin. Louis gasped, almost wanting to push Harry away. He was getting hard and he really didn’t want to meet Harry’s friends with a hard on.

Harry nibbled gently on the wet patch of skin. He pushed Louis closer to the counter, groaning when Louis’ erection pressed against his thigh.

“Such nice skin for hickies.”

Louis nodded quickly, squeezing Harry’s arms in a death grip. “You can suck harder.” He wasn’t sure if the words came out, but Harry was definitely sucking hard on his skin. The teacher slid his hands just below Louis’ ass, running it up and over the tattoos behind his legs.

“God, wanna put you in my bed.”

Louis squeaked at that. He let his hands fall onto Harry’s face. Louis held him still, “I’m a virgin.”

Harry’s eyes grew, “no, you aren’t.”

“I am.”

“No, you aren’t.”

“I really am.” Louis blushed bright red, “I mean, I’ve played with myself but I am.”

“Don’t expect to go home tonight.”

Louis cursed under his breath. “I didn’t plan on it.” He squealed at Harry’s loud ring tone. “Shit, scared me.”

“Sorry, fuck.” He quickly kissed Louis twice, reaching for his phone, but going back for one more kiss. “It’s them. –Hello.”

Louis touched his chest and his stomach. It felt like he was still floating. He turned to his lemons, squeezing them quickly to relive some of his tension. He stopped, touching his neck quickly. It was really hot in the spot Harry had been sucking.

“Alright, I’ll come out now.” Harry laughed into the phone at something his friend said.

Louis wiped his hands on his pants, hard on finally gone. He rinsed his hand with water before picking up his phone and looking at his neck in it. Even with the dark screen, Louis could see the small red mark. He was sure the mark was going to be much bigger, but Harry was so gentle it couldn’t have been.

“You good?”

Louis looked away quickly, “yeah, sorry.” He smiled nervously, “just admiring it.”

“Yeah,” Harry touched the red spot, accompanied by tiny bites. “Looks nice. Is it okay?”

“Yeah, it’s great.” Louis smiled, “I’m a little nervous about your friends now.”

“Don’t be,” Harry grabbed his hand. “They all suck.” He dragged Louis to the front door, Petal following behind. “No princess, stay here.”

The dog sat calmly as she always did.

“Be right back, baby!” Louis blew her kisses as Harry pulled him outside. “Are they nice?”

“Yeah, they’re nice. I’m nice, right?”

“Yeah.” Harry opened the back gate. “You are.”

“I hang out with nice people.” Harry waved at his neighbors. “Hey.”

The old man sat on his porch, as usual, smiling at Louis and Harry.

“Harry!”

Harry smiled at the car full of people. He approached it with a small jog. Harry clapped hands with almost everyone in the car while Louis stood awkwardly next the porch man. He rocked back and forth on his heels.

“Louis!”

Louis jumped at the female voice.

“Come here!”

Harry smiled, waving him over, “Nicki’s in the car.”

Louis shuffled over, not wanting to look like an asshole. He smiled at the abundance of people in the SUV. “Hi… Hi, Nicki.”

“Hi, Louis! How are you?” The girl was loud as ever, but it was comforting.

“Good, thank you.”

“This is my boyfriend, Jordan.” The man in the driver’s seat flashed Louis a mouth full of golds. Louis came in closer.

“Are those real?”

Harry laughed, putting a hand on Louis’ lower back. “They are real, Lou.”

Jordan could have answered him if he wasn’t laughing so hard. When the man finally stopped, he nodded, “yeah, they are.”

“Wow.” Louis nodded slowly, “That’s great.”

Nicki squealed, “Harry, I love him! Why don’t you guys come by tonight? It’s party night.”

“Nah, were good, Nick, thanks.”

She pouted, shaking her shoulders, “I never see you anymore and you won’t even come to party night?” She looked around, “The fact that I even came to this side of town should already be enough.”

Louis looked at Harry quickly, “we could go?”

Harry looked surprised, “you want to go?”

“Yeah, why not? We had nothing to do.” He smiled at Nicki, “we’ll go.”

“Ha!” She punched Harry in the stomach. “I knew I loved him! He gets your ass out of the house!”

-

“You really want to go?”

“Yeah, it’s your family.” Louis opened the door seeing Petal in the same spot as they left her. “Hello, precious! We’re back!” She sniffed them both happily. “It’ll be fun. I had fun at the other party.”

“If you want to, sure.” He leaned on the wall, “I’m just hoping my brother isn’t going.” Harry rolled his eyes, “hopefully he stays home and acts like a father for once.”

Louis stopped petting Petal. “We’ll have fun, Harry. Have some drinks, dance –come home –come,” Louis winked.

Harry lifted a suggestive eyebrow, arms crossed, “keep it up, we can start early.”

Louis giggled, wrapping Harry in a hug. “We can’t start early, we have lemonade to perfect and dogs to walk!”

“I can make time for all of those things.”

Louis laughed into his chest, “Harry!”

Chapter Text

“Jesus,” Harry tugged at the dogs. “Do they ever listen?”

Louis pulled on Bucky, “hey, puppies!” He stomped his foot, getting their attention. “Relax please!” Harry snorted at Louis’ attempt at ‘screaming’. Louis shoved him, “I try!”

Harry leaned against him, smiling, “I think you sound great.” He stopped at the bench they’d met at. “And here, dogs, is where Louis dropped coffee on me and my book.” The dogs sniffed around the bench.

Louis groaned, “I thought we were past that.” He pouted, rubbing Bucky, “I said sorry – a lot.”

“I know.” Harry pulled Louis close, wrapping light hand around his waist, “it’s cute to see how flustered you get about it though.” He pressed his nose to Louis’, “I don’t mean to mess with you.”

Louis smiled, it was short lived when Bucky pulled hard against the leash. He tripped over the dogs, landing on his back. “Ugh, Bucky!” Harry quickly helped him sit up.

“Are you okay, babe?”

“Yeah.” Louis rubbed his lower back, “nothing new.” He glared at the dog, “Bucky! Behave, you are being a bad boy!” The dog laid his head on Louis’ lap. “Nope.” Louis turned his head, “I don’t want to hear it.”

Harry pressed his lips together, watching Louis argue with a whining Pitbull. He lifted a finger but put it down when Louis scolded Bucky, using; ‘puppy’ and ‘dog’ interchangeably. He smiled, watching the scene. He looked at the smaller dogs that seemed to finally settle.

If someone would have told Harry he’d been here, watching his boyfriend fight with a fully-grown Pitbull –he’d never believe it.

-

“Harry.” Louis stared at his neck, the hickie was a lot darker now. He rubbed it, “can I borrow your cover up?”

Harry stepped out of the shower, wrapping a towel around his waist. “Yeah, it’s in the cabinet.” He walked past Louis, giving him a kiss on the shoulder before closing the bathroom door behind him.

They’d made the lemonade and it was amazing –no surprise there. Harry said dog walking was alright, he said it was hard work. It made Louis proud because he did it all on his own. Harry always reminded him that his dog walking was an actual job and not a joke.

Louis wiped the steam away from the mirror. He stuck his pinky into the cover up before patting it onto his skin. He rubbed it in, frowning at the color difference. Louis put it away and used some water to wipe away the makeup. He would have to deal with the hickies. They were fine but he was going to a party and he didn’t want anyone poking fun at him.

Harry’s friends were nice –they didn’t look like they’d be, but they were. They didn’t look like the type of people that Harry hung out with and it made Louis tilt his head.

Did he really know Harry?

Obviously not, they just started this but –Louis was just being selfish.

He wanted to know more about the man. Going to a party as a couple would be a good thing, he could watch Harry interact with his friends –see how he acts around Louis + his friends.

Harry knocked on the door before peaking inside. “Hey.” He was dressed in jeans now, only missing a T-shirt. He stood next to Louis, smiling at him in the smoky mirror. “You okay?”

Louis nodded, wanting to speak but deciding against it. He wondered if Harry’s friends were actually like Harry. If Louis went to this party and (Louis was not party material, what-so-ever) would his friends find it weird? Louis was in a separate loop. A shy, quiet loop by himself.

“Harry.”

“Yeah, babe.” Harry grabbed a hairbrush from his drawer.

“Do you think,” Louis started, “you friends are going to think I’m –weird?”

Harry brushed his hair back, Louis watched his muscles flex in the mirror. “Does it matter?”

“Uh,” Louis blinked quickly, “uh –yeah, it does.”

Harry shrugged, “I think that they can think whatever they want, we’re still together.”

“Yeah,” Louis nodded small. “But what if I lose my voice or –my voice cracks and they call me a fourteen-year-old boy?”

Harry grinned, holding his hair tie between his teeth, “if anyone,” He pulled his hair back, removing the tie from his mouth. “Tells you anything you don’t like, let me know.”

Louis rolled his eyes, turning to look at Harry, “okay prison guard, calm down.”

Harry laughed, tying his hair back tight. He sighed, “you’re the one that said yes.”

“Oh, I know,” Louis said seriously. “I want to go. I enjoyed your brother’s birthday a lot. If there is music, I’d be happy to go.” Louis rubbed his neck, “I just don’t –are they the same people from the house party?”

“No.” Harry rubbed his nose, “only people in that car that went were Nicki and her boyfriend.” He smirked, “my friends don’t like my brother.”

Louis bit his lip nervously, “is he going?”

“Probably. He shouldn’t.” Harry came closer, grabbing Louis by the hips. “He needs to be a fucking father but,” Harry kissed him. “No one cares about him, you shouldn’t.” He pushed Louis against the counter with a smile. “Don’t think so much.”

Louis bit his lip to hide his smile, “You know that’s impossible.” He poked Harry’s chest, grinning, “We’ll have fun.”

“Of course, you’re a fun person.” Harry kissed Louis’ forehead, “we’ll get something to eat after –and then I’ll bring you back here.” Louis threw his head back, laughing. “And I’ll try to take something from you.” Harry kissed Louis’ cheek hard, holding him close.

“You don’t have to try.” Louis blushed, “I do expect to be pretty quiet tomorrow morning.”

Harry snorted, backing away, “let me stop now before you have no voice now.”

Louis rolled his eyes playfully, “oh please.” He patted Harry’s shoulder, “you better not disappoint.”

“Look at this growing confidence.” Harry grinned, stepping back to admire Louis. “Looks like it’s coming off of you.” He nodded, looking him up and down. “We’ll see how much you have to say tomorrow morning.”

-

“Oh, fuck this.” Harry pulled Louis away from the house. “Let’s go.”

“What?” Louis tugged on him, removing his hand from Harry’s. “What’s wrong?”

“We’re going home.” Harry pointed at the house, “that isn’t anyone’s house –the cops are going to end up coming.”

Louis frowned, “we’ll leave before they come.” He looked back at the house, “Let’s dance a little, we don’t have to drink.”

“Louis,” Harry was serious. “I’m not going back to jail because of a fucking house party.”

Louis grabbed Harry’s arm, “and I don’t want to go jail either.” He pulled Harry to the house with much resistance. “You need to stop thinking about jail all the time.”

Harry groaned, letting Louis pull him.

“We can dance, have one beer.” Louis spoke but the music soon overpowered his voice. He kept talking though, even if Harry couldn’t hear him. He smiled big when they entered. It was smoky –a reoccurring theme it seemed. “Looks fun.” Harry didn’t respond but Louis was pretty sure he heard what he said.

He held onto Harry’s hand, but it was short lived.

“Harry!” Louis took a big step back, letting the guys jump on his boyfriend. He smiled at it, Harry was laughing. One guy slapped his chest, “where have you been?”

Harry fixed his shirt, “staying out of trouble.”

Louis licked his lips when a guy gave him a once over. “What’s up?”

Louis cleared his throat and waved, “hi.”

“This is Louis.” Harry stood next to him. “Louis these are a few old friends of mine.” Louis tensed under Harry’s arm, putting his arm behind Harry’s back to grip at his shirt.

“I’m Shawn.” One of the guys held out his hand to shake Louis’. Louis smiled, shaking it. “You –uh, ya’ll dating?”

“Yeah.” Harry sounded proud of it and Louis glanced up at him. He was smiling and Louis followed, hugging into Harry’s side. “He wanted to come, he likes to dance.” Oh, Harry was too honest. Louis looked down, avoiding their smiles.

“Well,” Another guy motioned to the wide space for dancing. “Go for it.”

Shawn grabbed Harry, “can we steal him for a bit?”

Louis nodded quickly but Harry held onto his shirt before he could leave. “You don’t have to.”

“I love dancing.” Louis smiled, “it’s okay, find me in a little.” He backed away and Harry gave him a deep grin, shaking his head at Louis as he was dragged away with his friends.

Louis smiled, folding his hands. He walked to where everyone was dancing and fit in without going noticed. It wasn’t what he thought it would be. No one seemed to know each other, which helped. It was an actual house party and it helped him relax knowing that no one was going to talk to him.

This was where Louis loved being. He could be alone or with someone –this was where he belonged. The dance floor.

He swayed left to right, raising his arms when the crowd did. He bopped his head up and down, knees bending, hips circling. The music was so loud, Louis couldn’t even hear what they were saying. The rhythm mattered, the thumping is what had Louis twisting and turning. It didn’t matter that you were a bad dancer –no one cared. You felt it in you, the beats and the bass. It was indescribable. Dancing was an art and Louis was painting.

He felt hands creep up behind his waist and Louis stopped moving. “Louis!”

He soothed, smiling at the loud voice. He turned around, “hi Nicki!”

“Hi, Louis!” She rocked his hips in speed with hers. “I noticed your white ass from a mile away.” She grabbed his butt and Louis squeaked, “And what an ass it is!” She laughed, shaking her shoulders, Louis copied. “And where is my oh-so-sweet cousin?”

“Some friends –took him.” Louis smiled, breaking out in a sweat when the music changed. Nicki might not have heard him, but stayed with him, dancing.

Louis enjoyed dancing with her last time and this time was just as fun. He liked that Nicki wasn’t bothered by anyone around her. She closed her eyes and didn’t speak when she danced. It was the perfect dance partner.

They danced for a long time and Louis knew it was a long time because every time Nicki took a picture, he’d look at the time. Eventually his legs started killing him and Harry was nowhere to be found. So, Nicki took him to a room in the house, he met three people and was offered drugs at least nine times.

Then she took him to the kitchen to get a beer. “Have you and Harry fucked yet?”

Louis’ eyes grew, surprised by the question. He’s seen her take something, then she became quiet, now -she wouldn’t stop talking. “No, not yet.”

She nodded, “he’s a good guy –keep him safe, alright?”

Louis nodded, clutching the neck of his beer. “I plan on it.”

Nicki snickered, pinching Louis’ face. “I’m going to go find my boyfriend.” She bumped hips with him before leaving. Louis wished she hadn’t.

He was shoved, spilling some of the beer on his shirt. He quickly scurried to a corner of the kitchen when a fight broke out. Louis did he best to get a better view behind people that covered his sight. He took a sigh of relief when he realized Harry wasn’t involved.

Louis tried scooting out but then the kitchen was filing up more. He decided that he’d just stay put and wait it out.

It didn’t calm down.

Five minutes in and the fight got bigger. He flinched when two other guys knocked into him. Louis dropped his beer and put his back up against the wall. He blinked quickly, trying to stay far away even though the fight was literally right-next-to-him.

He looked at the entrance of the kitchen, eyes clicking with Harry’s immediately. He raised two hands and shrugged. Louis flinched when the pair got a little too close, looking to Harry for help.

Louis watched Harry shove past people, getting to Louis. He pulled him away from the fight. It all ended when Harry picked up a beer bottle, breaking it against the wall.

He held it up at the man who bled from his face, “did you hit him?”

“Wha –what?”

Harry came closer and Louis grabbed him. “He didn’t!”

“Yo.” The man held his head, “I wasn’t fighting him.”

Harry dropped the glass bottle and pulled Louis out of the now-quiet kitchen. He pushed Louis into a corner, pulling out his phone and using the light to check Louis’ face. He touched Louis’ jaw, neck and cheek. “You okay? I was looking for you everywhere, where’d you go?”

Louis frowned, he was shaking. He grabbed onto Harry’s shirt with both hands, pulling him close. He pressed his forehead to Harry’s shoulder, “shit.”

That was intense.

Louis had never been around this type of stuff. The most fighting he’d ever seen was when his mother fought with a lady at the store. It was uncomfortable, especially being right next to it. Louis kept cursing under his breath while Harry rubbed deep circles into his back.

“It’s okay.” Harry spoke softly, “Look at me, baby.” He lifted his face, “you got hurt?”

“No.” Louis’ voice wavered, “I just –you –were you going to stab them?”

“Of course.” Harry said it like it was normal. “What if they would have hit you?”

Louis shook his head, “says the guy who doesn’t want to go to jail!” He hugged Harry tight, “shit, Harry.” His voice was going to be gone and, if Harry was planning on fucking him tonight, he wouldn’t have a voice for a while.

Harry cupped the back of his head. “Did you get to dance?”

“Yeah,” Louis mumbled.

“You wanna dance more? I won’t leave you this time.”

“Harry!” Louis grabbed his face. “You almost stabbed a guy with a beer bottle!”

“Stop screaming.” Harry put two hands on Louis’ throat affectionately. “Your voice is getting raspy.” He kissed Louis’ cheek softly, pecking his nose and then other cheek. “Convict.”

“Convict.” Louis closed his eyes and took shallow breaths of air. “Yes, I want to dance with you.”

Harry pressed him to the wall when the kitchen filed out. He stroked Louis’ face, kissing him in the midst of people. He rubbed their noses together, “I’ll always take care of you, you know that –right?”

Louis nodded shyly, “yes.”

“I won’t let anyone hurt you, okay?” Louis kissed him, nodding. “You hungry? We can leave, baby.”

Louis cuddled into Harry’s hold –the safest place on earth had to be right here. He pressed his hands to Harry’s chest, giving him kisses every now and again while he whispered sweet words.

It felt like a movie, bad boy and goody-two-shoes. Louis couldn’t even call Harry a bad boy, even if he did almost stab someone. He felt honored that Harry would stab someone on his behalf –probably not something he should feel honored about but he didn’t get to control his emotions.

Harry’s hold on him was loose but also firm. He let Louis move around while they somewhat danced on the wall, making out around people who ignored them. It felt good, Louis felt like he was special. Even though people weren’t staring, Louis sort of hoped they were. Because Harry had pretty much ended the fight in the kitchen. Harry protected him and a crowd of people saw that.

“Love how your hips feel.” Harry kissed him softly. “I wish I could have seen you dancing today. My little dancer.” Louis preened at how soft and sweet Harry sounded over all the drugs, music, and screaming.

Louis was happy he dropped his coffee on Harry.

The way he mumbled on Louis’ lips and spoke the same words in his ear –just in case Louis had missed them somehow. He wanted to make sure he heard every word that was uttered for his ears alone. With the hundreds of ears that surrounded them, Louis’ were all Harry cared about.

And when Harry would say; ‘I’ll take care of you.’ ‘Never let anyone hurt you.’ Louis couldn’t express how he felt. How it made his heart feel. Louis had been taken care of his whole life. He’d broke that mold when he grew up but –but Harry wasn’t asking if he needed care. Harry was going to care for him no matter. Make sure he was safe and happy. Harry was doing some crazy shit to Louis’ stomach and head.

When Louis couldn’t speak it felt like he was alone. All by himself in this big world where everyone could express themselves and scream and laugh loud and long. Right now, Louis felt like he was alone, but with Harry, they were one –alone –together.  Here, with Harry, Louis didn’t need to scream. He didn’t need to laugh loud, Louis got to be himself. He got to let his voice crack and fail and giggle because Harry only smiled and kissed him. He only smiled and spoke sweet words.

‘Look so beautiful when you dance.’

‘Love seeing you happy.’

And Louis didn’t have to respond, and Harry didn’t take offense. It was okay because seeing Louis happy was clearly enough for him. Louis couldn’t give this boy up.

 

“Cops!”

Harry turned around at people running around. “Fuck.” Louis’ neck cracked at how hard Harry pulled him. He ran against traffic even when Louis pulled the other way.

“Harry!” Louis covered his face with one hand –people hands swinging around him. “Everyone’s going the other way!”

Harry didn’t say anything and when they got outside, Harry looked around. Louis was trembling, this was his fault and, if they got arrested, he was going to kick his own ass. Harry couldn’t go back to jail, he wasn’t going to allow that. It wasn’t going to happen.

Harry bit his thumb, “can you run fast?”

Louis didn’t flinch, “as fast as you need me to.”

Harry pulled him to the fence and helped Louis to jump over it. Harry followed him, landing on his feet. His eyes were running around but Louis could only see the bright red and blue lights. “Run.” Harry pushed Louis to the end of sidewalk. “Run all the way down that street and make a left, when you get there, relax. Pretend like you’re just walking around, I’m going to pick you up.”

Louis nodded, grabbed Harry before he left. He hugged him hard, “please don’t get in trouble.”

“Go.” Harry kissed the side of his neck and pushed Louis away.

-

Louis sat on the side walk waiting patiently for Harry’s car. He hadn’t gotten any calls from Harry and he didn’t want to call him, in case Harry was hiding. Louis had no doubt that Harry was fine though, his little convict would never get arrested now.

He felt bad when he tried pulling away from Harry. He rubbed his wrist at the thought. Harry was holding his wrist so hard, it hurt. Once they got over the fence Louis decided that if anyone knew what to do –it’d be Harry. He listened and ran, fingers crossed the whole time.

Cops did pass by Louis, circling the block. Louis kept his eyes on his phone when one had pulled up to him. He stayed calm as possible, just like Harry said.

“This your house?”

“Yeah.” Louis covered his eyes at the cop car lights.

“Alright.” The cops drove away, and Louis fell to the side, holding his chest. This was so nerve-wracking.

Louis sat up when more lights came into picture. He stood up calmly, strolling over to Harry’s car –not drawing attention to himself. He slipped in the passenger seat and didn’t speak until Harry backed out of the neighborhood.

Once they got to the highway, they both breathed. Louis finally looked at him, “that was wild.”

Harry smiled, “I’m really happy you are who you are. You listen so well.” He put a hand on Louis’ knee. “You’re great.”

Louis looked out the window, smiling hard. “I was worried that you got caught but I knew you wouldn’t have.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah, you’re really smart.” Louis turned his head, “I should have listened when you were taking me outside.”

“Don’t ever follow the crowd.” Harry hummed, “they’re like cows to slaughter.”

Louis brought Harry’s hand to his lips, “thanks for trying to stab a guy for me –it was really romantic the way you silenced the whole room.”

Harry laughed, eyes crinkling. “I’m not a bad guy.”

“I never said you were.” Louis kissed his knuckles, “I’m the bad guy, and you’re the good guy.”

Harry drove fast but Louis didn’t mind, the wind felt nice against his skin. He laid his head against the car seat, rolling it to glance at Harry. “Sweet boy.” Louis reached over with his free hand to poke Harry’s jaw, “sweet, sweet convict boy. Check, check, check, check.” Louis sighed, closing his eyes. “Love you.”

Harry smiled at him.

Louis wasn’t embarrassed to say it, even if it was so early in their relationship. “Love you, my sweet convict.”

Chapter Text

Harry whistled when they got back to his house. He put his keys on the hook and smiled when Petal trotted up to them. He kissed his dog, rubbing her head. Louis fell to the ground, wrapping his arms around the dog that tried to run away.

“Petal!” Louis squealed, “We were almost arrested!”

The dog panted, licking Louis’ hair. Louis smiled tiredly, now with a small cow lick. “Your daddy saved us.”

Harry smiled at Louis from the living room, arms crossed. “Why are you always on the floor?”

Louis grinned, letting Petal run to Harry. “It’s closer to her –she probably doesn’t like that everyone is so much taller than her.” Louis took off his shoes and socks, “I’m only thinking about her.”

Harry snorted cutely, going into his bedroom. Louis got up, tripping at first, and followed Harry. He rubbed his stomach, “that place had really good food.”

“Louis,” Harry flopped onto his bed, laughing. “We went to McDonalds.”

“And my BigMac was great.” Louis shrugged, walking beside the bed. “I had fun eating in the car.”

Harry lifted a hand to link in Louis’, “I love watching you dance, you’re in a whole ‘nother world when you dance.”

Louis blushed, “I love dancing.”

Harry bit his lip, “yeah? Why?” He put both hands behind his head, “why do you love dancing?”

Louis’ feet turned in, “I like –feeling. No one talks –everyone just moves. It’s like being under water.”

Harry’s eyes lowered fondly. He patted the bed, “come here, baby.”

Louis blushed, kneeling slowly on the low mattress. He curled up beside Harry, letting the man play with his hair. “I had a lot of fun, Louis, thank you.”

Louis pressed his nose into Harry’s chest. “Thank you.”

Harry smiled, leaving a warm hand on his head. They stayed like that for a while. Louis was the first to move. He sat up, rubbing his arm. “Harry… are –are we still going to have sex?”

Harry’s eyes rolled back. He touched his chest, “you’re so direct.”

Louis looked at his lap, small smile on his lips. He wanted to have sex with Harry, he wanted to get the ball rolling –not only because he wanted Harry but because his voice was literally getting worse and worse with every word. He knew Harry could hear it. The party was so loud, and Louis had to scream for everything and instead of shutting up, Louis pushed his fear away, and he screamed.

“Yeah, baby.” He leaned up on both elbows. “Let’s see how loud I can get you to scream.”

Louis shivered, playing with his shirt. He blinked quickly, “I –I can open myself up, if you want.”

Harry grinned, rolling onto his side. He put one hand under his head to prop it up. “As much as I’d love to see that, I think,” Harry licked his lips. “I want you to enjoy yourself more –for your first time.” He beckoned Louis closer, “come here.”

Louis followed instructions and allowed Harry to adjust his body to his liking.

“Say goodbye to this.” Harry sung, removing Louis’ shirt. Louis’ skin puffed up with small goosebumps. “Say goodbye to these.” He shuffled off Louis’ tight jeans, kissing his bare knee when Louis started shaking. “And say goodbye,” Harry played with the top of Louis’ boxers. “To these.”

Louis’ trembling fingers itched to cover himself, but instead he closed his eyes, and whispered a small, “goodbye” to his clothing.

Harry whistled with a warm smile. He rubbed two flat hands up and down Louis’ naked thighs, avoiding his crotch. He kneaded the skin, rubbing over his knees and down to his ankles. Harry kissed small parts of Louis’ skin, humming a tune against his tan thighs.

“You promise,” Harry mumbled, taking great care to massage Louis’ calf muscles. “You promise you’re a virgin?”

It wasn’t that he didn’t believe Louis, especially with the way his muscles tensed under his touch. He believed him, believed that his skin couldn’t have been touched before. Louis’ skin was very smooth, it looked like he took good care of his body.

“Promise.” Louis whimpered at a particularly tight squeeze on his thigh. A tight squeeze that made his cock twitch embarrassingly.

“Okay, baby.” Harry kneeled in between Louis’ thighs, kissing him slowly. He pressed his clothed body against Louis’ smaller one. Running a curved hand through Louis’ scalp, Harry smiled. “You tell me if you want to stop, alright?”

Louis whined, covering his hot cheeks. “You’re too nice to have been in jail!”

Harry laughed, kissing Louis’ forehead, “save that voice, babe.” He pressed a flat palm to the side of Louis’ throat, pressing the ball of his hand against it. Louis’ lips parted, neck coming up. Harry took the opportunity to suck and nibble at his Adams apple, not far from the mark he’d left earlier.

Harry rubbed two fingers against the base of Louis’ neck, laying sweet kisses to his nose.

Harry sat back up, unbuttoning his black button down. Louis sat up too, watching Harry’s long fingers under fluttering lashes. They were both worn-out and Louis hoped that he was getting the full experience, even though he was exhausted.

Harry tilted his head to the side, smiling fondly at Louis’ staring. He took Louis’ cheek into his hand, “You’re red.”

Louis tried swallowing, the dryness in his throat was making it difficult. He should have grabbed a bottle of water.

“Harry,” Louis croaked.

“Yes, Louis.” Harry came closer, pants now undone. “There’s no rush.”

Louis shook his head quickly, “I –I talk a lot.”

Harry laughed lovingly, “I know.”

Louis hit him playfully, “when I masturbate, jerk.” He grabbed onto Harry’s bicep, “what if I say something weird –or I talk too much?”

“I want you to feel completely comfortable.” Harry laid him down. “I want to hear everything you have to say.”

-

“Mm.”

Harry pressed a second finger into Louis, his tongue joining. He moved the fingers away for a minute, earning a disapproving sound from his boyfriend. He smiled against the soft skin, pressing his tongue inside, nose pressed just above Louis’ butt. He smiled proudly when the fluttering hole took his tongue effortlessly. He wiped his wet mouth, ignoring the lube taste (next time, Louis’ ass was all his). Harry spit on his fingers, even though there was more than enough lube on them.

He rubbed it over Louis’ pucker, pressing both in at the same time. “Good baby.” Harry praised, Louis was accepting his middle and ring finger with no resistance.

Louis was laid out on his knees, waist up, chest flat to the messy sheets. His throat closed at every jab to his prostate. He could feel Harry’s longer finger nip at it every time he twisted the digits. Louis had the corner of Harry’s pillow trapped in his teeth.

Harry used the hand that had Louis spread, to play with his tattoos. He loved the tattoos. Harry loved even more that he was the only one that knew about the tattoos, he hoped he’d stay the only one.

They were so rebellious; maybe not for someone like Harry but for Louis, they were. And the fact that Louis was innocent, for the most part, the tattoos just added more character. They were done well, the color was taken care of, no smudges. With the way Harry kept touching them though, one might think he was trying to wipe them away.

He carefully pulled both fingers out. He could hear Louis’ hard breathing, he could hear him whimpering behind his pillow. Harry would have snatched it away, but he didn’t want to make him uncomfortable. But shit, it was way too quiet. He didn’t like it.

It didn’t take a genius to see that Louis was enjoying this. His cock was leaking, his body was flush with goosebumps –those small thighs were trembling from the position.

Harry sat back on his heels, watching Louis’ soft pink hole twitching at the air hitting the cold lube. The back of his thighs, and tattoos, were coated in the thick liquid. It seeped out of Louis’ now-open hole in small beads. Harry licked his lips when Louis’ clenched his ass on the air. He made small noises at the lack of interaction.

Harry was jerking off. He couldn’t not jack off to the sight. Louis’ asshole was ready, more than ready, for him. He wanted a blowjob, he wanted to see what Louis’ lips could do but they had time for that. He wanted to fuck into him all at once, really do some damage to those already damaged vocal cords. Give Louis pleasure he couldn’t even dream up, but he waited –stroking himself instead.

Louis wasn’t trying to turn around, he stayed in place, which was interesting. Harry gave one more hard tug to himself, sighing. “Why are you so quiet?”

Louis jumped at that, cock hitting the bed. He hissed at the contact, breathing in and out. He craned his neck to stare at Harry, eyes glossy and waiting. “I’m not.”

Harry smiled, the boy was beautiful.

“Turn around, on your back, please.”

Louis did.

-

Louis whimpered, fingers to his bright lips. Harry licked up his cock, bobbing his mouth on it. Louis’ cock wasn’t too big. Harry was able to bring it to the back of his throat, holding it there for a few seconds. It’s then that Louis finally spoke.

“You –your mouth is so wet…” Louis choked out as loud as he could manage.

Harry flinched at it. It was abnormally high for Louis’ voice and he loved it. It usually cracked when he screamed so, no one would actually call it a scream, but Harry saw it as one. It was wanted. He wanted it, for the last forty minutes, and now that he got it, he knew he could get it again.

“My mouth is what, babe?” Harry heard him. He just wanted to hear it again. Harry rubbed his lips against the tip of Louis’ cock, wetting his lips with the small droplets of precum.

“Wet,” Louis wheezed. He clenched his fists, thumbs tucked into his hands. Louis sucked in his stomach, knees turned in and knocking together. He was crying, beautiful tears, eyes closed shut. His lashes gathered the droplets, wetting his deep pink cheeks. Harry sighed, licking his lips at Louis’ parted one’s. Lips so soft, and bright red from being bitten.

Harry was in love.

-

“Fuck.” Louis threw his head back while Harry bit his collar bones. He closed his eyes at how tight Louis felt. Reminding himself that Louis was a fucking virgin, dildo or no dildo.  Louis’ body was conforming to his shape –to an actual dick’s shape, for the first time. His cock thumped with blood, inflated and fat against Louis’ snug, wet, sweet walls.

Louis’ wrapped his legs around Harry’s waist, plunging deeper until their hips were fitted together. Harry’s slid his hand around to the back of Louis’ thigh. He wanted to turn him over, but it wasn’t time yet.

He wanted to see his dick disappear behind those two mounds. Watch it vanish inside Louis’ rim. Dig his nails into that bouncing flesh. Harry wanted to fuck Louis into the mattress so hard, make them get really acquainted, because Louis wasn’t leaving his bed. Not with an asshole that tight and not with sounds so sweet. Louis needed to consider adding a few more notes on his check list of six.

***

Harry’s was fucking him without thought. Louis pushed back every time Harry pushed forward. His face pressed into the cool sheets sideways, hand stroking himself messily. His other hand was behind him, covering Harry’s hand on his hip. Harry’s held him in a bruising grip. He could see the marks forming as he fucked him.

“Fuck! Harry!” Louis was screaming and Harry would smile if he could, if it didn’t feel so good. He could only stare at the way Louis’ ass cheeks bounced painfully against his hips.

“Feels so good!” Louis croaked, trying his best to get words out. “Feels –my ass –oh fuck me!” He clenched down on Harry and fuck -Harry couldn’t remember that last time he had sex.

No one should feel this good, but then Louis started screaming louder and oh my God. Louis was actually going to lose his voice. Harry almost started slowling down -almost.

“Goddamn.” Harry should have brought them water –he probably should have turned the air on too. “Fucking hot –you’re so fucking hot.”

Louis was shaking, head coming up while he came. He slowed down, just so he could feel Louis’ walls squeezing him. Louis attempted to get words out, but nothing followed. Harry wanted to make him scream, and he did. Harry wanted him to scream so loud, Louis forgot he was ever mute.

-

“Shit, shit, shit.” Harry bared his throat, hugging Louis’ slim waist. Louis rolled circles on his cock, and he could feel himself about to blow.

Instead of stopping, Louis started bouncing again. (Harry thanked God that Louis walked dogs for a living.) His eyes are open halfway, closing when he sees tears drying on Louis’ face, mouth slack.

How is this the same person who dropped coffee on him?

He doesn’t think Louis could talk at this point. Louis’ hands sat on his chest, loud sounds forming in the back of his throat. He sounded like he was choking. Harry deiced to ignore that it turned him on.

He put a hand to Louis’ throat, trying to massage him, to get those vocal cords going. Louis coughed, rasping as best as he could, ‘choke me’.

Harry groaned, squeezing hard on Louis’ throat until he went limp. Harry loosened his hold, head thrown back as he came.

***

“Oh, fuck.” Harry fucked into Louis’ throat (he really shouldn’t be) but Louis asked him to. (How could he not?) His throat’s tight, and hot. Louis could hold his breath for a long time too.

Harry has to work tomorrow.

He wanted to wipe off his dick, but Louis didn’t let him. He started sucking him off, cum and all. Louis wasn’t saying anything but those sloppily sounds of him gorging on Harry’s slippery cock were more than enough sound for him.

Louis wasn’t good at this, he’d probably never sucked a dick in his life –but fuck. Harry was spinning for his mouth.

Louis looked up at him, lips covered in spit and shiny. He blinked up at Harry, voice cracking when he spoke. Louis looked fucked up, like if Harry beat him but there was no proof of it. Louis’ head swayed, “yo –you –you’re ama –amazing.”

Harry covered his eyes. What the fuck was Louis talking about?

Harry grabbed onto his sensitive appendage, “I’ve never wanted you to shut up before.” He waved it at Louis who smiled sneakily, getting back to work. Harry groaned, “I’m amazing –my ass, you’re amazing.”

-

Harry brought him water. It took him forever to understand the sign for water, but he finally got it.

“Here, baby.” Harry had let Louis shower and changed the sheets. He’d shooed Petal when she sniffled at the sweat and cum covered blankets.

When Louis got out of the shower, Harry helped him dry off and got him dressed. He laid him down and put the TV on a random channel, to calm the atmosphere.

Louis smiled gratefully at Harry. He put the water bottle to the side, closing his eyes for a moment. He looked so tired, Harry felt bad. He put his hand on Louis’ forehead, removing the cold wash cloth. “How are you feeling?”

Louis lifted a thumb and smiled, teeth and all. He settled back against the quilts and yawned. Harry pouted, kissing Louis’ temple. “I know I said I’d make you quiet, but I’m feeling kinda bad about it.”

Louis sat up, shaking his head. He sighed, Harry watched him sign for two seconds before he smacked his forehead. Harry grabbed Louis’ hand and shook his head, “don’t hit yourself, baby.” He kissed Louis’ forehead, “do you not want me to feel bad?”

Louis nodded quickly and frowned. He opened his mouth and held two thumbs up. Harry smirked, “you’re going to be okay?”

Louis nodded.

Harry cupped his face, “that was incredible and, I hope you know, I would have gone longer if you wouldn’t have almost passed out.”

Louis looked down, blushing.

Harry laughed, even his voice was rough. “Next time.”

Louis looked up, smirking. He shook his head, laying it on Harry’s chest. He lifted a hand, doing a motion he’s done before, that Harry had to still investigate.

It looked like a rocker symbol.

Louis hugged tight around Harry’s torso. Harry assumed the sign wasn’t a bad thing.

“I rock sign you too.” He kissed the top of Louis’ head and, if Louis could speak, his laugh would have sounded much louder.

Chapter Text

“Wait,” Harry looked up and then down at his laptop. “Slower.”

Louis smiled, making his hand into a ‘c’ and running it up and down his chest to his stomach. Harry wrote that into the computer. He looked up fast, “you wanna make a wish!”

Louis shook his head, sleepy. He did the motion again but rubbed his stomach to help Harry out.

“You’re hungry!”

Louis nodded eagerly, making the sign motion. He rubbed his eyes, mouthing “very.”

Harry beamed, closing his computer, “I’ll learn it, you’ll see.” He got off the bed, “would you like an omelet?”

Louis nodded but stopped Harry before he left. He took both of his hands, crossed one over the other and pointed both at his mouth. Harry jumped back on his computer, “do it again.” Louis did, shaking his head at Harry’s enthusiasm.

“Picnic!”

Louis nodded quickly, he spread his hand, tapping his thumb against his chin. Harry took a while to figure out what he was saying, asking Louis to do it over. Harry smiled wide, “mom!” He chewed his cheek, “you wanna have a picnic with your mom?”

Louis shook his head, no, pointing at Harry.

“My mom –you wanna have a picnic with my mom!”

Louis nodded, flopping back on the bed. Harry moved his computer away, rolling over on top of Louis. He kissed Louis’ nose then his cheek. “I miss your voice.” Harry whispered so low, Louis barely heard it. He fixed Louis’ cheek up with plenty of kisses, giving some extra kisses to his throat. Harry massaged Louis’ neck with a gentle palm, “when will it come back?”

Louis wanted to ask him; ‘if it doesn’t come back, will you leave?’ Instead Louis just shrugged.

Harry smiled sadly and shrugged back, “that’s okay.” He kissed both of Louis’ eyes, “you look exhausted, babe, sleep a little more. We’ll have a picnic later.”

Louis gratefully closed his eyes, cuddling up to Harry. He signed thank you and it didn’t take Harry long to grab his computer and look it up.

***

“Is it bad,” Louis choked out to his brother, “that I think –no one will ever love me?”

Niall sighed, rubbing Louis’ sweaty forehead. “Someone will love you… you’re amazing.”

Louis cried into Niall’s shoulder, “but –but what if –what if one day –it just disappears?”

“Louis,” Niall held his brother close, “you can’t think that way, there’s someone out there for everyone. Someone who will love you when you can speak, and when you can’t.”

“But,” Louis cried harder, “what about me!” He tried getting up, but Niall kept him from moving. “What about –when they don’t want me anymore?” He looked up at Niall desperately, “what happens when they leave me?”

***

They walked over the graves to Harry’s mother’s grave.

Louis’ voice still wasn’t back and he avoided a panic attack only when Harry helped him breathe it out. Harry was very helpful in that way; calming Louis down enough to get him breathing. Louis was frustrated that he couldn’t thank Harry properly, that he couldn’t explain things correctly. It wasn’t fair that Harry had to put up with him, with his disability. Harry didn’t sign up for this and no matter how calm Harry was, he would eventually snap.

Louis did his exercises as best as he could, even allowed Harry to help him –his voice was still gone. It wasn’t gone for good, Louis knew it wasn’t, because he could at least do his do, re, mis. But, God, was it annoying. The sex, incredible, Harry kept his promise. Louis tried to stay calm because he didn’t want to make Harry feel bad, but on the inside, he was having another battle.

He couldn’t speak. He couldn’t tell Harry what he wanted, what he needed. Every ten seconds Louis was signing, and Harry was typing the description into his phone or computer to understand. Louis tried mouthing but it was pointless, Harry could read lips to an extent –as could most people. It wasn’t Harry’s fault, Louis wasn’t mad at him at all –he was just scared.

Louis’ biggest fears were; one, rain, and two; getting sick –both things worked hand in hand. He avoided rain because if he got rained on, he’d get sick. If Louis got sick, the first thing to take damage was his throat. If Louis’ throat got damaged, there’s a chance his voice wouldn’t be the same. Louis worked tirelessly to get his voice to where it was now, he couldn’t destroy that.

When Harry had told him, he’d lose his voice in the morning, it had only turned Louis on. As much as the thought scared him, he wanted it. Pushing that fear away meant a lot to him –he wanted to tell Harry that –explain how much he trusted him with his voice. Right now though, Louis couldn’t explain much.

They approached the grave, where the same small flowers lay. Louis sat down first, setting one of the bags beside him. Harry made them omelets and hash browns, they wrapped it up to go. Having a picnic here was something Louis really wanted to do. This place felt special, where they first really bonded. He wished he had a voice, to say hello –say thanks again to her.

“Baby,” Harry shook the water bottle in Louis’ face. “Here.”

Louis took it with a small smile. He sipped the water, breathing in between each sip. He closed it and laid on his back. He was starving but eating suddenly didn’t sound appealing.

“I have my phone,” Harry said quietly. “If you want to sign –I’ll look it up.”

Louis sat up, blinking at Harry. The man had to have been sent from God.

Louis pressed his lips together. He thought for a minute before signing.

Harry opened his phone fast, “again.”

Louis made the same signing motion. He pointed at the bottom of his chin then his chest. Harry shook his head, “me?”

Louis nodded, he made a motion.

“Tell me!”

Louis clapped happily, he sat up on his knees. He made another motion and Harry looked it up.

“About.” Louis lifted both thumbs. “Tell me about –what?”

Louis lifted a flat palm at Harry then made the sign for mom. Harry didn’t need to look it up. He scratched his head, “mom? Tell you about my mom?”

Louis nodded, licking his dry lips.

Harry seemed proud of himself. He put his phone down, leaning back on his hands. “Hm, my mom –she,” Harry smirked, “she was amazing.” He shrugged, “if I talk about her, it sounds like I’m bragging but she was just –an amazing person. So good, she took light with her.” Harry looked up at the sky. “I miss her so much –I wish she could have seen me now, you know? Not when I was in jail.” He nibbled on his bottom lip. “She always told me I’d do something special, I just wish –she could have seen me… when I teach –that I have my own place, that I’m doing good.” Harry looked at Louis with serious eyes, “I wish she could have seen you –know that I didn’t end up with a piece of trash –that I ended up with someone better than me.”

Harry sighed, “That’s what she always wanted, us to be better than her. She wanted us to find people better than us, and I found you.” Louis’ bottom lip trembled when a gust of wind passed them. Harry licked his lips, “best person I’ve ever met.” He smiled, “even if you dropped a hundred coffees on me.” Louis giggled low. Harry looked at his mother’s stone, “Life isn’t fair, you know? Things just aren’t fair, but sometimes, just sometimes, you get lucky enough to overcome that unfairness. She didn’t get to.” He rubbed the inner corners of his eyes. “My mom was a godly woman, church every Sunday. She always said, ‘when it’s your time, it’s your time.’” He shrugged, “It’s the only thing that keeps me from not killing my brother.”

Louis crawled closer to his boyfriend, Harry sat him in his lap. Louis stared at Harry’s chest, hearing crying in the far distance. He blinked some tears away, hands against Harry’s chest. The silence was comfortable –Louis was glad he couldn’t speak in that moment. The wind filled in most of the gaps.

-

“Tomorrow,” Louis rolled his eyes, “I know, Niall, eight.”

“Don’t be late.” Niall said quickly, “mom is coming.”

“What!” Louis almost let go of his dogs. He cleared his sore throat, “who?”

“Mom,” Niall drawled, “she wants to meet –what’s his name?”

“Harry.”

“Yeah, she wants to meet him.”

“No.” Louis sat on the bench in front of the ice cream truck. Louis walked Harry to work with his puppies. He promised Harry to stop by later to see the kids he taught, Harry said they’d enjoy the dogs. “She can’t –no, we’re not going, no.”

“What’s the problem?” Niall groaned, “I’m meeting him, you said he was nice.”

“Yeah,” Louis covered his eyes with the leashes. Louis’ mother would flip, if Niall didn’t flip when he saw Harry first. Harry was going as himself and Louis was bracing the impact. Zayn would hopefully defuse the situation but now that his mother was going –there was no way. “But –she gets weird.”

“She won’t.” Niall huffed, “she’s coming and you both are coming, we already ordered all the food, Louis.”

“Jesus, Niall.” Louis croaked, “Why would you tell her?”

“Because you don’t tell her anything! She never knows where you are, you’re never home anymore. I told her because she’s worried.”

“Of course.” Louis hissed under his breath, “whatever, I can’t go.”

“You’re coming or, so help me God, I will find every chorus teacher named Harry in the area.”

-

Louis watched Harry move around the small kitchen, Petal sitting just outside. Louis played with two different types of spoons.

“You think,” Louis stared at both. “They were bought together?”

Harry glanced at him, smirking, “what’s with you and all my silverware.” He put both slices of chicken on the hot pan. “I got out of jail with no money, Louis, most of my stuff was given to me. I doubt any of these things came together.”

Louis nodded, putting the spoons down. “Harry.”

“Hm?” Harry moved the chicken around, eyes focused.

Louis rubbed his knees with his sweaty palms. “Did the kids like the dogs?”

“Oh, yeah.” Harry smiled, “they didn’t stop talking about them yesterday –thanks, they keep asking when you’re coming back.”

Louis smiled, picking both spoons back up. “When you –put cover up, is it annoying?”

“Um,” Harry shrugged slightly, “sort of, I mean, I’m used to it now, but it does take a long time. Sometimes the kids smudge it and I have to apply more.”

Louis nodded slowly, “Kay.” He tapped his chin, “tomorrow is the dinner party.”

“Yep.” He turned down the stove. “I was going to wear something, wanted you to see it –see if it’s okay.”

“Yeah, of course.” Louis didn’t look him in the eye, instead he stared at Petal. “Are you going to wear cover up?”

Harry stirred the food slower, looking at Louis. “I wasn’t, do you want me to?”

“No.” Louis shook his head, “no.”

“You sure?” Harry crossed his arms, leaning on the counter. “I can.”

“No.” Louis smiled nervously. “If they meet you, it should be honest.”

“Louis,” Harry closed his eyes briefly. “You look like you’re about to faint. I can wear it.”

“My mom is going to be there.”

Harry stayed quiet before speaking, “Uh –okay.”

“No,” Louis pressed both spoons to his eyes, “She’s really judgmental.”

“Okay.” Louis could feel Harry approaching him, he pressed the spoons in harder. Harry moved them off Louis’ eyes with a pop.

“One, that’s gross.” Harry threw both spoons in the sink. “Two, I’ll wear the cover up, I told you.”

“No, my mom needs to get over herself.” Louis wrapped his legs around Harry. “I just don’t want her to say something rude.”

“Trust me,” Harry chuckled, “I think I can take it.”

“Tell me,” Louis touched Harry’s tear tattoo, “about jail.”

Harry smirked, going back to the food, “what about it?”

“Is it as bad as everyone thinks it is?”

“Um, no.” Harry flipped the food. “I got my food, bed, toilet –next to my bed, a roommate, clothes –shower, all free.”

Louis scrunched his brows, “sounds like a hotel.”

“A-half-star hotel, but sure.” Harry yawned, “Got into a couple of fights, tattooed, haircuts, strip searches –it wasn’t too bad. Getting out was probably the worst part. Probation, community service –house arrest, couldn’t find a job –yeah.”

Louis groaned, “How’d you get a pardon?”

“Lots of begging, making friends, behaving.” Harry smirked, “I worked hard to get my life back on track.”

Louis covered his face, “you didn’t belong in jail, Harry, you’re literally an angel.”

Harry snorted, “tell that to someone else.”

Louis undercover one eye, “are you secretly doing bad things or something? Trying to get back in jail for your free meals?”

“Yes, I would happily go back for the free meals,” Harry spoke sarcastically. “Top of the line, sirloin steaks, caviar –the works.”

Louis pursed his lips, “loser.”

Harry winked at him, “they don’t have you in jail, so I think I’ll stay out of it for a while.”

-

“Do I look alright?” Harry rolled up the sleeves on his button down; Louis swooned. He ran his hands down Harry’s ironed shirt making him laugh.

“You look beautiful.”

“That’s a first.” Harry looked down at himself, “but I’ll take it.”

“Wow,” Louis shook his head, “you look so handsome, Harry.”

Harry chuckled, looking down, blushing. “Thanks, Louis.” He pulled his boyfriend close, kissing him. “This is going to be –fun.”

“If anything upsets you, you say the word and we’re out of there,” Louis said sternly.

Harry kissed Louis’ forehead, before hugging him, “you always think about me first, I appreciate it.” He pressed kisses into Louis’ shoulder. “I rock sign you.”

Louis pulled back, mouth agape. “Hey!” He smacked him, “you know what it means!”

Harry held up two hands with a big smile. He went into his bedroom, Louis followed, arms crossed. Harry looked around in his drawers pulling out a book. He wiggled it in Louis’ face until Louis grew annoyed. The smaller male snatched the book, reading the title.

“Sign Language for Dummies.” Louis closed his eyes, smile growing. “You absolute angel.”

Harry looked smug, “I’ve been learning.” He wiggled his face into Louis’ when Petal walked in. “I’ll be a professional, you’ll see.” He gave quick pecks all over Louis’ face. “I’ll be a jack of all trades.”

Louis hugged him close, suddenly loving every single one of Harry’s tattoos even more. He nuzzled his nose into Harry’s shoulder, “you already are.”

-

“Your hands are really sweaty, babe.”

Louis quickly wiped it on his pants. “Sorry.”

“It’s fine.”

They had been standing in front of Niall’s house for ten minutes. Louis didn’t want to knock, he didn’t want to go inside.

“Um,” Harry spoke up, “do you wanna leave?”

“No.”

“Okay.” Harry leaned on the brick, “I guess we’ll wait.”

Louis nodded shakily, this could go really bad –or he could just be over reacting. Eventually Harry went on his phone, Louis still couldn’t move.

Another ten minutes passed, and Harry asked him again if he wanted to leave –again, Louis said no.

“Harry.”

“Hm?” Harry finally looked up from his phone.

Louis swallowed, “if –if you want to leave, tell me.”

“Louis, I could have put on the cover up –it really wasn’t a big deal.”

“No!” Louis groaned, “It is, this is you –I love you, not the cover up you!” He sighed, “I just –I live with my mom, it’s just –hard.”

“I know.” Harry put a hand on his shoulder, “which is why I didn’t mind. I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed, we can have a good night. I can meet your family however you want me to.”

Harry was so selfless. Harry was a good person. Louis didn’t deserve him.

Louis shook off his thoughts, “No, your mom met me like this.” Louis pressed the doorbell without thinking. “If they don’t like you, I don’t care. I like you.” Louis grabbed Harry’s hand in his. “I like you.”

Harry brought Louis’ hand to his mouth, kissing his sweaty fingers just before the door opened.

Zayn smiled, holding a champagne glass, “hello –oh.” His eyes grew. “Oh.”

Harry squeezed Louis’ hand, “Oh.”

Zayn looked behind him, closing the door.

Louis took a deep breath, “Zayn, this is Harry. Harry, Zayn.”

They both just stared at each other until Zayn poured out his cup of champagne into the bush –he threw the cup too. Louis blinked from him to the bush, “well –that was unnecessary.”

“I know him.” Harry sighed, shaking his head. “You were my prosecutor.”

Louis stood completely still. “You –know each other?”

Zayn squished his own cheeks together, “you’re dating –each other?”

Harry looked away, “yeah.”

Louis shook his hands into the mix, “you know each other! You know what, no.” He got in front of Zayn, “nothing, don’t you say a word.”

Zayn was only looking at Harry, “when’d you get your pardon?”

Harry stuck his hands in his pockets, “after probation.”

Zayn nodded slowly, “this stays here.” He looked at both of them, “we –need to talk later.”

Harry snorted and Louis grabbed onto his arm, not liking the sound. “Talk about what, Mr. Malik?”

Louis pulled him away from Zayn, “let’s leave.”

The door flung open revealing Niall, “what the fuck are you guys doing?” He stepped outside, stopping when he saw Harry. “Oh.”

Louis stopped breathing, “Niall.”

“Uh, hi.” He held out his hand for Harry. “I –am Niall, Louis’ brother.”

Harry carefully took his hand, shaking it. “Harry, Louis’ boyfriend.”

Louis stared at Zayn, who had his eyes closed. He tried to smile when Niall looked at him, “sorry we’re late.”

“It’s fine.” Niall swallowed, smiling. Louis loved his brother sometimes. “We haven’t even started eating yet, please, come in.”

Chapter Text

“Harry Styles,” The judge read over his file. “Doesn’t look good for you, son –and you tried to hit,” The judge lifted his glasses, “the police officer that had to bring you in.”

Harry chewed on his tongue, glaring up at the judge.

The man glanced down at him, “something wrong with your legs? Stand.”

Harry scowled, not moving.

“I said,” The judge leaned forward, “Stand.”

Harry kicked his chair back, making a loud noise. He stood up, pressing his tongue against the inside of his cheek. He smirked, annoyed, “happy?”

The judge sighed, “you’re pushing it, Styles.” He closed his file, “I could give you more years than you can count on your little hands, but I know your mother, I know she’s a good woman.”

Harry looked down.

“Fighting, drugs, you’re still a child, still in school.”

“Can you just sentence me already?” Harry growled, “That piece of shit in the suit called me an animal, right?” He looked over at his prosecutor who shook his head. “I should be locked up, right?”

“If I may, your honor,” Mr. Malik spoke up. “For the record, I never called him an animal –but he does act like one. We all saw how he came in here, kicking and screaming –a child.”

Harry shoved his lawyer out of the way, running at the prosecutor. “Fuck you, bitch, say that to my face!” The bailiffs grabbed him, he struggled against them, snarling at Mr. Malik. “Say that to my face, bitch, come on! You want it for the fucking record!”

The prosecutor didn’t flinch. He looked at the judge, bored, “I don’t think there’s any other proof needed.”

“Fuck you, watch when I get out –I’ll fucking kill you!”

The judge beat down his mallet, “enough!”

Harry didn’t stop thrashing, getting picked up by three bailiffs. “Give me all the years you fucking want!” He thrashed, kicking and screaming to the side door. “Someone fucking snitched me out –let me go! Fuck you!”

-

“Please,” Niall smiled, “make yourself at home.” He cleared his throat, “Louis has told us a lot about you.”

Harry nodded slowly, “really?” He tried to smile, squeezing Louis’ hand. “Good things –hopefully.”

Zayn rubbed the inner corners of his eyes, “yep.” He spoke up, “only good things.”

Niall smiled quickly, motioning them to the dining room. Louis tapped on Niall, “can you give us a second?”

Niall nodded, “of course, come in when you’re ready.” Zayn gave them both a once over before walking after his fiancé.

Louis quickly pulled Harry to the side, “what the fuck,” he hissed. “You didn’t tell me you knew Zayn?”

Harry lifted his arms, “how the fuck did I know you knew him?”

“He hates you!”

“I know. I fucking threatened him!”

“You what!” Louis’ jaw fell, “why!”

“I was young, he pissed me off!” Harry groaned, “I can’t believe this.”

“What if he tells Niall?”

Harry lifted a brow, “what, you’re going to leave me because he tells your brother I was in jail?” He snorted, “what happened to knowing the real me?”

“Stop being a cock!” Louis hit him, “of course I’m not leaving you, I love you.” His voice cracked, he rolled his eyes at it. “I just don’t want him to be mean to you –how could you even say something like that?”

Harry sighed, grabbing both of Louis’ hands, “I’m sorry, babe, I’m sorry.”

Louis pouted, “I don’t care, Harry. I told you already, I really like you –we just, have to survive the night. I don’t think Zayn will tell. We’ll be fine.”

“If he tries me, I’m going to hit him.”

Louis looked behind him swiftly, “no!” He hit Harry again, “you can’t hit him! That’s my brother’s fiancé and Zayn’s so sweet!”

“Why do you keep hitting me, what did I do?”

Louis kissed the shoulder he kept hitting, “Zayn’s great –he’s my old crush.”

“What?” Harry smacked his forehead, “You dated him?”

“No!” Louis rasped, “I liked him! Look, we just eat and leave, this never happened –Zayn won’t talk, we’ll be fine.”

“Louis,” His mother sang. She poked her head into their space. “Louis, is this your –oh.”

Louis inwardly screamed, his mother fucking sucked.

“Um, oh –I –I’m –hi.”

Harry pressed his lips together, “hello.” He held out his hand, “Harry.”

She glanced down at the hand, slowly taking it into her own. “Joan.”

Harry half smiled, “very nice to meet you, Louis’ told me plenty about you.”

Joan nodded, “I’ll leave you to talk.” She gave Louis a funny look before returning to where she came from.

“Well,” Harry raised both eyebrows, “that went well.”

Louis stared at the floor hard, “I can’t believe her; how she treats people sometimes.” He shook his head, “let’s fucking leave, she ruined the night.”

Harry picked up his chin, “we’ll stay.” He kissed Louis softly, then kissed the button of his nose. “Free food is free food –and drinks.”

Louis chuckled sadly, “I won’t let them say a bad word against you.”

“Thank you, Lou, I appreciate that.” Harry took a deep breath, “we got this.”

Louis nodded, clasping Harry’s hand in his, “yes we do, or we’ll try.”

-

Louis and Harry walked into hushed harsh whispers. He cleared his throat, getting Niall and his mother’s attention. He cut his eyes slightly at them, “is there some where we can get something to drink?”

Niall clapped his hands together, big smile, “of course.” He left his mother staring out the window. Niall brought them to the dining room, stopping a caterer. He pulled two champagne glasses off the tray and handed it to them, before taking one for himself.

Niall took a short breath, “so, Harry, you teach children?”

“Yes,” Harry sipped his champagne. “To sing.”

Louis smiled proudly, leaning into Harry, catching Niall’s gaze. Niall bit his lip, “do you like it?”

Harry wrapped a loose hand around Louis’ waist, “love it.” He looked around, “your home is beautiful.”

Niall tipped his head, “thank you.” He rolled his champagne, “so, Louis told me he dropped coffee on you.” Harry’s face fell and Niall chuckled. “Oh, it’s true.”

Harry sighed, just as Zayn came up behind Niall. “It’s very true.”

Louis groaned, “I thought we weren’t going to talk about it!”

Harry kissed his forehead with a grin, “Okay, babe, we won’t.”

Niall sucked in a deep breath, leaning back against Zayn. “Harry teaches kids, Z.”

Zayn nodded, new cup in his hand. “I heard.” He put his hand on Niall’s lower back, “what do you teach?”

Harry straightened up, “singing classes.”

“How long?”

“A year or so.”

“Hm,” Zayn nodded, taking a long sip of his drink. “Louis seems to really like you.”

Louis blinked at Zayn before wrapping his arms around Harry, “he’s learning sign language.”

Zayn lifted a brow, both of Niall’s followed, “really?” Niall tucked one arm under his arm, “since when?”

“Just recently,” Harry swallowed, “I know it’s tough for Louis sometimes, I think it’s only fair that we should speak the same language.”

Louis grinned, pressing his nose into Harry’s shirt. “Thanks…” He mumbled.

Harry patted his hair down, glancing at the couple that watched them carefully, “of course, baby.”

-

If before was awkward, this was worse.

It was dinner time; Louis’ mother wouldn’t even look at Harry. Louis wished he had a longer foot so he could kick her.

Luckily, the party was for Zayn’s colleagues, so they spoke most of the time. Unfortunately, Niall was sitting near them, their mother beside him. Close enough to ask a lot of questions without bothering the other conversations.

“Did you go to college?”

Louis and Harry kept hands on each other’s legs, giving one another a helpful squeeze every few seconds.

“I didn’t.”

“No?” Niall nodded, “what did you do before becoming a singing teacher?”

“Uh, small jobs –working on houses and such.”

Louis rubbed Harry’s knee, “Harry’s kids met the dogs.” He smiled, “it was really nice. Harry has a dog.”

Niall smiled, “That’s lovely. I’m sure you’ve learned of Louis’ obsession.”

Harry played with his napkin, “yeah, he pays more attention to Petal than me sometimes.”

“I don’t!” Louis blushed, “I just like her a lot.”

“Do you plan on moving in together?” Joan finally spoke up, with a harsh undertone.

Louis clenched his teeth, “we’re just dating right now.”

“Harry,” She turned to face Harry’s stone demeanor. Louis could say one thing about his boyfriend, no question fazed him. Harry was a rock, solid. He smiled when he needed to, fake laughed when necessary, listened carefully, and thought before he spoke. Harry was ‘A’ class boyfriend material –if they could see past the tattoo on his face, and body. “What made you want so many tattoos?”

Harry grinned and Louis could feel the conversation turning sour. He rubbed his throat, feeling Harry grip his leg tight. “I love tattoos –love art, music. I’ve had tattoos since I was a teenager.”

“And the kid’s parents have no problem with that?”

“Mom,” Niall slammed his fork on the table before Louis could chew her out. He smiled sternly, “why don’t we talk about how they met instead.”

“I’m only asking a question.”

“It’s fine,” Harry crossed both of his hands on the table, Louis missed the warmth immediately. “I usually wear cover up around my kids, it’s no problem.”

“So, they don’t know?”

Harry bit his lip, licking over it, “they don’t. It shouldn’t really matter though, tattoos have nothing to do with singing, mam.” He leaned back, back straight. “Anything else –mam?”

Joan practically snorted, “And your mother?”

“Mom!” Louis shouted, not catching anyone’s attention. “Enough, you’re attacking him.”

“Babe,” Harry shook his head, “it’s fine.” He smiled tiredly at Joan, her gaze sharp. “I wouldn’t really know how she feels about them, she’s dead.” Harry smiled wider when her scowl dropped. “But I’m sure she wouldn’t have minded much –mam.”

Joan scooted her chair back, heels tapping against the marble floor. Niall scooted back slowly, giving Harry an apologetic smile, “I’m sorry about that, I’ll be right back.”

Louis looked at Harry when they left, “I am so sorry.”

Harry shook his head, smiling at Louis, “you did nothing wrong, Lou.” He touched his face, “we’re fine.”

Louis smirked, “you hold your own pretty well.”

Harry stole a fast kiss, “always have. Thanks for trying to defend me.”

“Of course,” He frowned, “she’s acting crazy.” He huffed, “let’s leave before dessert.”

“Aw,” Harry teased, nudging his nose against Louis’. “But dinner was so good.”

Louis giggled, kissing Harry, “McDonalds has amazing desserts too.”

“Yeah?” He licked the corner of his mouth, “could I have two desserts tonight?”

Louis blushed, “I think I could go for two desserts.” Harry winked, making his heart flutter softly. “You’re amazing, Harry.”

“You’re amazing, Louis.”

“Louis.”

Louis quickly looked up at Zayn, “yes.”

“Can we talk in private, really fast?”

Louis glared at him, “why can’t Harry come?”

Zayn looked at Harry who ignored him. “Just briefly.”

“Go, Lou.” Harry held up his glass of wine, “I’ll be here.” He looked up at Zayn, grimacing, “try not to leave out too many details, Mr. Malik.”

-

“You all,” Louis said before Zayn could speak, “fucking suck.”

“I haven’t done anything.”

Louis stomped his foot, “the only sensible one is Niall –a miracle!”

Zayn groaned, “Louis, I see that you both really like each other, okay? I’m not trying to break anything up, but I have to tell your brother about him.”

“Why? You said you wouldn’t!” Louis covered his eyes, “fuck, Zayn.”

“He already thinks that somethings up. I can’t stop staring at Harry –he’s questioning me about it!”

Louis shoved him, “fine, tell him, we’re leaving.”

Zayn grabbed Louis, spinning him back around, “it’s not personal, Louis!”

“Clearly it is!” Louis screamed, voice cracking. “I don’t care, Zayn, I don’t care what he did!”

“He was so aggressive! He threatened to kill me at sixteen! Harry was put in a ward before he went to prison, Louis, it was really serious. It doesn’t make sense how he went from that to this –he could seriously hurt you.”

Louis tightened his jaw. He couldn’t even imagine Harry doing any of those things –this Harry was not that Harry. This Harry was his Harry, his loud laughing angel.

“I dropped a coffee on him –on his book that cost a lot of money.” Louis growled, “I was a stranger, he could have hit me –I would have hit me –you would have hit me!” Louis screamed, “Harry didn’t, he could of, but he didn’t. Harry isn’t who he was. I don’t care who he was. He doesn’t care who I was before him –we move forward!”

“So, he was in prison?” Joan was standing stiff at the entrance of the hallway. Niall behind with low eyes.

Louis bit down hard on his cheek, pulling skin.

Zayn fixed his tie, “he was, I was his prosecutor. He’s different from how I remember.” He sighed, “He’s better.”

“He’s a criminal,” Joan spat.

Louis felt tears bubble up to the edge of his eyes. He looked past her at Niall who was now leaning on the wall.

“Yes, but he had a pardon.” Zayn tried explaining, “the court doesn’t just hand out pardons to anyone.”

Joan laughed, “of course you’d find a criminal, Louis. We tell you to get a job but instead you find a murderer.”

“He isn’t a murderer,” Louis defended, “he made mistakes just like everyone else. It’s not his fault.”

“No?” She tapped her chin, “did someone force him to go to prison?”

“Quit being a fucking bitch.”

“Excuse me?” She stomped towards him, “I am your mother –do you see this? Do you see how you’re acting?”

“He is my boyfriend.” He balled his hands into fists, “I don’t fucking care how you feel about him, or us. I brought him because my brother asked me to!” Louis flinched at the impact on his cheek.

“Watch your damn mouth, Louis Tomlinson.” Joan spat, “I am still your fucking bitch mother whether you like that or not.”

The slap left Louis’ ears ringing, tears now escaping his eyes. “I –we’re leaving.” He moved away when Zayn tried grabbing him. “This,” he sniffled, “is why I hate this family –this,” He pointed at the three of them, “is the reason I hide things –you all.”

Niall kicked a foot up, trapping Louis in the hallway. ‘Why didn’t you tell me he went to jail?”

“Because it didn’t matter.”

Niall scoffed, “you didn’t think that mattered?”

“No, because I thought how happy I was mattered more.” He was crying pathetically, nose forming boogers.

Niall touched Louis’ burning cheek slowly, “let’s clean you up.”

“Oh please.” He swatted his hand, “we’re leaving.” Louis looked at his mother, “I’m packing up my stuff tomorrow. We’ll see if Harry minds me moving in! Since you wanted to know so badly!”

Joan shrugged, “unbelievable, he’s a criminal!”

“He’s a convict!” Louis rasped, “There is a difference! He is a convict, he is sweet –he loves his dog, he sees my dog walking as a job –he loves me and makes amazing omelets! You don’t know anything –anything about him! Don’t talk like you do!” Louis’ voice was breaking with every word, coming out in separate pieces, but he made sure his point was understood. “You are so judgmental! You want –me to find –the per –perfect person! I am imperfect –he is imperfect –we are human beings! I love Harry, I don’t care-” Louis’ voice came to a screeching halt. He rubbed his watery eyes, “…leaving…” He coughed out, pushing his brother’s foot away.

Louis didn’t have to go far to find Harry. He was standing by the front door, arms folded. Louis tried clearing his throat, quickly walking into Harry’s embrace.

Harry kissed his red cheek, whispering soft words.

“It’s okay, baby, I got you.” He rubbed the swollen cheek with his thumb, “you ready to go –your throat must hurt, huh? Hm, you want to go home –get some lozenges?”

Louis made an aggressive knocking motion with his hand.

Harry kissed his tears, “yes, I understand.” He held Louis to his chest, staring at his family. “Thank you for having me.” Harry ran his fingers through Louis’ hair, “Joan.”

The woman stilled.

“Don’t put your hands on my boyfriend again. Thank you.” He glanced at Zayn then Niall, “your home was beautiful, thank you for inviting me, again.” He kissed the top of Louis’ head, “I should get him home. It was nice to meet you all.”

-

Harry had the sign language book in his lap, trying to keep up with Louis’ messy signs. Louis was crying in a heap, making motions Harry couldn’t keep up with so well. He was signing really fast.

“Babe,” Harry closed the book. “I can’t.” He used his shirt to wipe Louis’ face. “Give me a week and I’ll try to keep up then.”

Louis laughed sadly, shaking his head. He made the motion for sorry.

Harry shook his head, “I’m sorry –we didn’t stay for dessert.” Louis giggled, choking when his throat went dry. Harry offered him his bottle of water. He fixed Louis’ hair, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry she hit you. I’m sorry it was a bad night for you.”

Louis closed the bottle with a small shrug.

“Thank you. You really stood up for me.” Harry smiled, “everyday, it’s like I find a way to like you more.” He tucked a little bit of Louis’ hair behind his ear. “You know you can move in with me any time, your dog-job and all.”

Louis smiled, mood lightening. There was a loud knocking on the door.

Harry got up, “stay here.” He closed the door behind him. Louis tilted his head to the side, running to the door.

Who would come at this time of night?

He peeked out of the bedroom door.

“Harry Styles?”

It was police officers. Louis opened the door wider.

“Yes, I am.”

“Is a man by the name of Louis Tomlinson here?”

Harry crossed his arms, “he is.”

“We got a call from the mother saying he was kidnapped by a Harry Styles.”

“Excuse me?”

“We’re going to need you to step outside.”

Harry snickered, “you fucking wish.”

Louis quickly ran out when one cop grabbed Harry roughly. He waved his hands around, trying to speak, “st-op!”

Harry was pushed up against the wall, “you’re under arrest.”

Harry squirmed, “what the fuck for!”

Louis cried, grabbing onto the police officer. The second one pulled him away, “Louis Tomlinson, your mother called us. Everything is going to be okay. We understand you cannot speak well. We’re taking you home? Do you understand?”

A scream barely escaped his mouth as the cop hauled him away.

“What the fuck, man, I didn’t kidnap him!”

Petal growled at the police officers. Louis grabbed the man’s arm when he tried reaching for the dog spray. He sobbed, hitting his back.

Harry whistled, “Petal! Down!”

The dog whined, growling slightly.

“Down!” Harry screamed again when he was dragged out of the door. “This is ridiculous!”

Louis reached out for his boyfriend who was being pulled to a separate car.

“It’s okay, baby!” Harry screamed, pulling against the handcuffs, “this is going to get cleared up, you hear me? I’m going to clear this up –don’t cry, okay? We’re okay! You hear me, Louis!”

Louis could hear him, but he kept crying. Harry’s door was left wide open –Harry was being taken from him and Louis couldn’t explain because he couldn’t fucking speak.

He was ‘gently’ pushed into the back of the police car. He slapped the window with two hands, watching Harry get shoved into the other car.

Louis shook his head at Petal running into the middle of the street. He kicked the cage in the back of the cop car. He wanted to scream –sign –yell, anything!

But Louis could only watch the car drive away in the opposite direction of him –away from Petal –away from Harry –tears blocking any hope of fixing this.

Chapter Text

“You what?” Harry approached his brother, “what did you just say?”

“I –I didn’t pay back some people,” He looked around nervously, “they came –and mom was here-” Harry didn’t let him finish, hands wrapping around Cory’s throat.

“You let her die!” Harry’s grip tightened, squeezing until he heard a small crack. He shook violently, eyes watering at the corners, “I’ll fucking kill you –you let our mother die! I’ll kill you-”

Harry was pulled off somewhere in between, glaring when his brother took a big breath, coughing up blood. “I –it –was –wasn’t-”

“Don’t you fucking dare, you piece of shit!” Harry roared, “This is your fault –I went to jail because of you –she died because of you –because I wasn’t here… I wasn’t here with her.” He covered his face, crumbling to the floor, “The next time I go to jail,” he looked up lazily, “it’s going to be for killing you.”

-

“She is missing a leg.” The man shrugged, “she’s a nervous one.”

Harry wiggled his finger in the cage, sighing when the animal cowered closer to the corner. “How much?”

“Eh,” The owner crossed his arms, “She is a pure breed, but she is missing a leg. Hm, I’ll give her to you for seventy-five.”

Harry’s fingers curled around the small cage, “yeah. Yeah, alright. I’ll be back for her. Give me two weeks.”

-

Harry sat in the cage beside the fearful animal, “hey. I guess I’ll be taking you home.”

The animal whined.

Harry chewed on his lip, staring at her. “I heard you were abandoned –your mom was killed in a dog fight.” He rubbed the inner corners of his eyes, “my mom was killed… we’re like each other.” Harry closed his eyes, “I’ll call you… Petal,” He chuckled, “because you’re missing one.” Harry pressed the back of his head up against the wall, glancing at Petal who now stared at him.

“Sound good?”

-

Louis ran out of the car at full speed. He slipped through the police officer’s hands when they grabbed him. Louis banged on the door with both hands, kicking it until it cracked.

His mother opened the door and he had every mind to slap her, instead, Louis shoved her out of the way. He ran to the house phone, he’d left his phone at Harry’s.

Louis took a few tries to get Niall’s number.

Two rings in and the phone was snatched out of his hands. Louis swung at his mother, who moved before she was hit.

Joan put a hand on her chest, “you tried to hit me.”

Louis was red faced, breathing hard, hands fisted at his sides. He let his tears leave his eyes in blobs, burning from the air.

Joan held the phone behind her back, “who are you going to call, hm? You can’t speak, Louis!” She walked away from him to the cop at the door. Louis took the chance to run to his room.

Once upstairs, Louis locked his door and pulled out two suit cases from his closet. He stuffed his clothes away before crawling under his bed to pull out his savings. He looked through the cash, shook his head, and then emptied the contents into his suitcase.

He grabbed his car keys and zipped up his suitcases. Louis jumped slightly when his mother knocked on the door. He stuffed the suitcase in his closet, opening the door right after.

Joan pressed her lips together, “can we talk?”

Louis smiled sadly, lifted both index fingers, bringing one down against the other. –Cant-

Joan sighed, “Louis, you’ve made so much progress. Why let a criminal ruin that?”

Louis blinked slowly at her. He pressed his index fingers against his thumbs, making circles, and flicked them at his mother. She stiffened slightly. –I hate you-

“I did everything –everything for you! How dare you say you hate me!” Joan sniffled, “I helped you in every way I could, Louis. I busted my ass when I had nothing, for you!”

Louis scoffed, he put a hand around his throat, croaking, “y –yo –y –y-”

Joan groaned, “stop! You’re going to lose your voice. Do you want that, Louis?”

Louis bit his lip, “fuck you.” It didn’t come out in a complete thought –he didn’t care because she got it.

Joan snorted, “run away again and I’ll make sure that killer,” she spat, “is arrested again.”

Louis smiled evilly at her before slamming the door in her face, locking it. Louis retrieved his things, pulling them by the window. He struggled to get the window to stay open but eventually got it. Louis wanted to scream when he saw it was raining.

He had to suck it up –rain or shine, he had to get back to Harry and Petal –he had to fix this. So, Louis pushed his fear of rain aside because he had to –because Harry needed him and Harry was always there when he needed him to be. It was Louis’ turn. His mother did this and now he had to take responsibility.

His mind was running a mile a minute. He could use his savings, bail him out, Louis would clear this up. They’d be happy again. Harry, Petal and Louis; a mini family.

They’d make lemonade that was too sweet or too sour, he’d wake up to omelets and kisses. They’d go to the grocery store like a couple and buy things. Louis would suck it up and wake up at the crack of dawn to walk Petal. They’d make love in Harry’s bed that was on the floor, even though it still didn’t make sense, but Louis didn’t care. It didn’t matter as long as Louis could wake up to him every morning for the rest of his miserably quiet life because, when Harry was around, things felt more reachable. When Harry was around, Louis felt like he could scream even when he couldn’t speak.

He tossed both suitcases out, following his luggage.

He looked around, making sure the police officer was gone. Louis ran to his car, suitcases in tow. He threw them in the back seat before driving off to his brother’s house.

-

Louis was trembling when he knocked on the large door. He looked around, shivering from the cold rain. He wiped his face, knocking again.

“Louis.” Zayn shook his head, pulling him inside. “What the hell, Lou.”

Louis ran around the house, looking for Niall. He ran back to Zayn, signing Niall’s name.

“Niall? He’s sleeping.”

Louis ran upstairs by two’s, barging into the bedroom. Niall was halfway off the bed when Louis busted inside.

“Lou,” He yawned, turning on the light beside his bed. “What’s going on?”

Louis was a crying mess, signing too fast for his brother to keep up with. Niall eventually grabbed both of his hands, “Zayn!”

The lawyer was at the door with water, “Here, Lou.” He offered Louis water, but he denied.

Louis shook his brother, signing Harry’s name.

Niall got that, “what happened?”

Louis signed ‘mom’. He cried into his hand, feeling useless. Zayn ran at him with a paper and pen. Louis gratefully wrote as fast as he could, explaining what his mother did.

He ended it with; “I need help –I don’t know where they took him.”

The pair read over the letters, Niall’s eyes going wide. Zayn ran around the bed, grabbing his cell phone. Niall sat Louis down on the edge of his bed, pushing him back when he tried to stand, “stay here, we’re going to help you. We can’t help him if you’re freaking out, okay?”

Niall picked up his cellphone, calling someone else.

Louis’ leg bounced up and down.

This was happening. His world was shoved back into silence. It was strange, and with the worst timing. He felt so pathetic, if he wasn’t disabled, if he wasn’t who he was, this never would have happened.

Now Harry was sitting in a jail cell somewhere, Petal was probably roaming the streets and Louis was here, a crying mess of silence and tears.

“You did what!” Niall was screaming until his voice chafed. Louis closed his eyes, suddenly being able to breathe; suddenly feeling safe. “You are not allowed to put yourself in between Louis’ life –now you’ve lost your son because you don’t know how to let him be happy –I hope you remember this for the rest of your life, mom, you pushed away your fucking child –oh, don’t you fucking dare –with all the shit he puts up with –just because you gave birth to him and loved him doesn’t mean you can’t fuck up –so, congrats, mom, you fucked up!” Niall hung up and threw his phone, going to his closet.

“Yeah,” Zayn put on his shoes with the phone between his shoulder and ear. “Alright, awesome, thank you so much, Ray –alright –alright, sorry about the late call –alright, goodnight.”

Zayn hung up, “he’ll tell me where he is being held in a few minutes, Lou.”

Louis spelled out money and Zayn shook his head. “Hold onto your money. I got it.”

Louis tried not to cry, failing, he picked up his paper and scribbled down a few words.

Zayn read over them, “Okay, we’ll meet there, alright?”

Niall came out, dressed in different clothes. “Let’s go.”

“Louis needs to go back to Harry’s,” Zayn looked at his fiancé, “we’ll get him and all meet at Harry’s.”

-

Louis barely put the car in park when he exited his car. He ran into the now closed door, trying to open it –locked.

Louis tried again, same result. He banged on the door, peeking into the window. Anyone could have come in –what if they took Petal?

Louis flinched when the door unlocked.

“Louis.”

Louis blinked quickly at Cory with a child who was not Ryan –much younger than Ryan. He waved, wave going short when he saw Petal trying to get past Cory’s legs. Louis dropped to the wet floor, arms around the dog’s neck. He cried into the top of her head, pulling the large dog into his lap.

Louis looked up at Cory miserably, he shrugged –unable to speak.

Cory smiled sadly at him, “Harry called Nicki and she called me. I had to bring my kids. I found Petal outside crying in the rain.” That made Louis cry harder, clutching the dog closer and she let him. She was so brave, behaved so well, and if Louis could call her a good girl he would have.

“She’s okay,” Cory helped him up, even when Louis put most of his weight on him. He stared at the sleeping baby. “His name is Jaden, he’s another one of my kids. I assume you can’t talk.” The man frowned, “I don’t know exactly what happened, but they won’t release Harry tonight. They said they’d let him post bail tomorrow.”

Louis frowned, leaning on the wall for support. He nodded slowly. That was it? Petal was okay. Zayn and Niall were going over for no reason but maybe Zayn could do something. Either way, Louis was breathing easy.

-

“Hey, mom.”

“Hi, baby.” She smiled from behind the glass. “Nice tattoo.”

Harry groaned, phone pressed to his ear. He grinned at her, “I gotta survive, momma.”

“I know, baby, I know.” She touched the glass lightly, “we miss you back at home.”

Harry closed his eyes briefly, “I’m behaving. I’ll be out soon.”

“I know you will.” She smiled, “First meal when you come out?”

“Mm,” Harry touched his stomach, “omelets, please.”

“Omelets it is.” She bit her lip, “I miss you so much, Harry –things at home are –different.”

“Cory’s taking care of you, right?”

“Yes, baby, yes, of course he is. You both have always taken care of me,” she gave him a look, “even in your ways of doing it.” She shrugged softly, “It’s just different when I have both of you. You guys always take care of each other –right?”

“Yes mam.”

“You’re family –gotta love each other, you’re all you got, you understand me?”

“Yes mam.” Harry pressed his hand up against the glass, “I’ll be out soon. Wait for me, alright?”

Artist wiped a falling tear, “always, baby, always.”

-

“Harry Styles,” Harry looked up from the floor when the cell opened, “your bail’s been posted.”

He squinted at the officer, “thought you said not til tomorrow.”

The officer motioned him out, “well, you got yourself a lawyer.”

“A lawyer?” Harry tilted his head at Zayn and Niall, “uh, hey.”

“Hey,” Zayn crossed his arms, “you’re free.”

“Um,” Harry rubbed his neck, “Thank you –thank you so much.”

Niall nodded, “Louis was hysterical –he’s going to be really happy to see you.”

Harry rubbed his wrists, “is he okay?”

“Yeah, he’ll be fine.” Niall shook his head, “I’m so sorry about our mom, what she did was awful.”

“It’s fine…” Harry chuckled lightly, “I’ve had people try to kill me before.”

Zayn smirked, “you’re probably going to have to go through processing. I’m sure you’re used to it.”

Harry laughed low, licking his lips, “I am –thank you.”

-

Louis muffled screamed even when it hurt. He jumped into Harry’s arms as soon as he walked in. Louis was still wet from the rain, eyes bloodshot from crying so much but nothing was going to stop him from physically feeling Harry.

“Baby…” Harry squeezed him, “you’re so cold.”

Louis cried quietly into Harry’s shoulder, refusing to pull apart. Harry rubbed his back, “thank you so much, Louis.” He kissed the side of his neck, warming Louis up significantly, “missed you.”

Louis nodded, squeezing Harry’s shirt, afraid he’d be taken away again –not again, not this time.

Harry laughed when Petal scurried around him, even with the amount of people crowded in his small place. He carefully bent down, Louis still around him, to pet his dog. “Hey, girl, you were so good.”

She waved her tail, aggressively sniffing at Harry, “such a good girl, Petal. Thank you, sweetheart.” He looked up at Cory, “hey.”

Cory yawned, smirking, “they let you out?”

He pointed back at Zayn and Niall who stood awkwardly by the door, “Louis got me a lawyer.”

Zayn snorted at Harry’s playful tone.

Harry rolled his eyes, “He was the one who put me in jail.” Cory nodded slowly, taking that in. Harry sat on the floor, when Louis’ breathing evened out –signaling that he fell asleep. He closed his eyes, laying against the wall. He looked at the two by the door, “thank you –again, really.”

Niall stepped closer, “take care of him. I don’t really care what you did –what you’re doing right now is a lot more important to me. Our mother won’t bother either of you again. I promise.”

Harry nodded, “thank you.”

Zayn put a hand on Niall’s lower back, “if,” He started, “you need a lawyer –let me know. I know a pretty good one.”

Harry chuckled deeply, pressing a kiss to Louis’ forehead when he stirred, “thanks –all of you.” He looked at Cory who had his arms crossed, “thank you for finding Petal.”

“She was waiting, in the rain, but she was waiting.” The dog was curled up against Harry’s legs, whimpering softly. “Faithful, perfect pair. You got the man and man’s best friend, both faithful.”

Harry took a deep breath, “I know…” He sort of wished Louis would wake up and spill a cup of iced coffee on him again just because. Harry didn’t care what Louis did as long as he stayed in his lap –cold and calm.

-

“Louis,” Sandy smiled, “good morning.”

“Good morning, Sandy.” Louis blushed, voice weak.

“How was school?”

“Okay…” He played with his shirt, “Some –someo –one called me s –something bad…”

Sandy scooted closer, “oh? What did they call you?”

Louis pouted, “re –retarded…”

Sandy frowned, “well, that is just ridiculous, isn’t it?”

Louis looked up curiously at her, “hm?”

“That you would get upset over such a word?”

“B –but,” Louis stuttered out, “it’s a b –bad word, isn’t it?”

“Well,” She shrugged, “if you look up the meaning, it just means someone who is slower in development.” Sandy tapped her chin, “so, it just means that you need extra help, that’s all. Is that a bad thing?”

Louis grinned cutely, “no, Sandy.”

“Hm, so that person must not know what they’re talking about. Good thing we do, right?”

Louis kicked his feet happily, “right.”

-

“Good morning, Louis.” Harry smiled down at him, “how are you feeling?”

Louis’ mouth was so dry. He tried clearing his throat, it burned so much.  He shook his head, covering his face with his blanket. Harry uncovered him, “voice still missing?”

Louis nodded sadly.

Harry kissed his nose, “that’s okay.” He kissed Louis’ cheek, before getting up. “I have work, but I want you to rest, okay?”

Louis had been sick for the past three days since that god-awful night. He was –scared. He pretended not to be but, his voice wasn’t back yet and it was scary. Louis was scared because his biggest fear had come to life.

If his voice didn’t come back, what would that mean for Harry?

The past three days had been a ride. Cory had come by last night to check up on them with Ryan and two other children. It wasn’t awkward. It was comforting even with all the yelling children. Louis was grateful that he’d dropped everything and came, even with his child. Petal would have just stayed outside for who knows how long.

Louis wished he could speak so he could thank Zayn and Niall –and apologize. A lot of texts were sent to both of their phones and he hoped they could feel how thankful he was. For Zayn to defend Harry, clear up the situation, to pay his bail and make sure they dropped all charges. It was so nice. For Niall to help, and accept them, was so heartwarming, especially now that they were his only family.

His mother had called him; left a few tearful voicemails and texts. Louis had never imagined that someone who loved him like his mother did could ever hurt him as bad as she did. You would think that someone who raised you and loved you, someone who did everything for you, would be happy that you’re happy. But sometimes, it just didn’t work like that. Sometimes it went the opposite direction and you learned things that you’d always known but hadn’t realized. Louis now realized.

He realized that not everyone who said they loved you, even showed that they loved you, would be understanding or accepting. Louis learned that all mothers love their children differently. Louis didn’t need his mother’s love. He was okay without it.

The fact that he felt Harry’s dead mother’s love more than his own, told him more than enough.

“Babe,” Harry stood over him.

He peeked from under the covers.

Harry placed his hands, crossed, over his chest and took a deep breath. Louis’ mouth slowly pulled up into a small grin. –Relax-

Harry smiled brightly, happier than usual –more loving than usual. Since that event Harry held Louis a little tighter, kissed him a little longer. Since then, he sat with Petal for a while longer, gave her extra treats even when he wasn’t supposed to. Harry smiled more, he did little things that no one would notice, no one except Louis.

Harry lifted his thumb, putting his nail against his nose and pulling down to his chin.

Louis bit his lip, trying not to cry, before copying the motion, nodding when Harry did it back.

Patient

Chapter Text

It had been one month since that god-awful day.

“Baby,” Harry jogged after Louis, “take your key, I’m going to leave now instead of later.”

Louis nodded, getting a kiss to the lips, grabbing the keys. He adjusted his small backpack, stretching before looking at his boyfriend.

Louis laid his hands flat, palms up, swirling them before putting one pointed hand to his lips. He finished the sign with a flat hand face down and cupped a hand over it.

“Uh, whatever you want for dinner is fine, babe.” Harry grabbed his waist, kissing him once more. “Text me if you want me to cook, if not, I’m pick something up.”

Louis smiled, thumbs up.

It had been a month and Louis’ voice hadn’t come back yet. After the initial shock, tears and panic attacks combined into this messy ball of anger and exhaustion –Louis accepted it.

More importantly, for him, Harry accepted it. Which made Louis even sadder and angrier, because Harry didn’t sign up for a mute boyfriend. Harry had been extremely supportive, cooperative –kind, patient as hell. He always had either his pocket sign language book on hand, his phone, or his ‘Sign Language for Dummies.’ Louis felt so bad, even when Harry told him it was okay, every morning. Even when Harry kissed the harsh thought away, even when Harry reminded him that he didn’t fall for Louis’, ‘not-yet-hit-puberty voice’.

Louis was choked up about it all. With the stress from ignoring his mother, getting all her messages through Niall, to not being able to speak even though he was seeing Sandy twice a week.

Today Louis was going to the doctor, because Sandy hadn’t seen much progress and she said it could be something she couldn’t really help. If Louis’ vocal cords blew out, then that was a whole different type of therapy. He tried doing do, re, mi’s every morning. It made him feel a lot better but even that wasn’t giving him his voice back.

It was frustrating as hell and the only person that kept him sane was Harry and, dog-wise, Petal. He felt like Petal could understand him, specifically when he didn’t want to work, instead he’d stay home and cry with the same channel playing. Petal would be by his side, a warm body keeping him distracted, nudging him and making sure she was pressed close.

Things weren’t easy, but Harry didn’t make them difficult either.

Because Harry was such a simple man, with simple needs, it helped.

Louis was the complicated one, who needed special treatment. He told himself that this was a phase, and that it would pass in twenty days. It had been about thirty, so Louis was ready to slam his face into a wall.

To go from mute to not mute to back to mute could not be more maddening.

-

Louis rubbed his eyes, waiting for the doctor to come back with the x-rays.

He had to communicate through a nurse who thankfully knew sign language. It was embarrassing and taking too long. There was no signal in this place either, he couldn’t text Harry when he had a small panic attack in the bathroom a while ago.

Louis had never been so dependent on a person in his life.

What if the doctor said that he was mute for life?

What if she said that Louis would be able to talk again but not for a few years?

What if Louis told Harry and Louis was alone all over again?

Louis couldn’t accept that, he would just have to start over. He couldn’t listen to a doctor, they told he’d never speak –they were wrong.

“Louis.” The doctor smiled, coming inside the small room. “I have the pictures of the x-rays. Would you like the nurse to come in to translate?”

Louis shook his head no, hands shaking.

“Okay.” She clipped the pictures to the wall. Although Louis couldn’t really understand what he was looking at, it made him sick. “This is your throat.” She ran her hand up and down the picture. “This small part right here is the larynx.” The woman pressed her lips together, “you seemed to have damaged yours.”

Louis began sweating.

“There is no need for surgery in this department, but you will need to see a speech therapist frequently, possibly every day. There is no guarantee on when your voice will come back –it could be tomorrow or in five years.”

Louis grabbed his throat.

“I know,” She nodded sadly, “you were born mute and, in your case, you started talking again –which is not common but not impossible -clearly. Your voice was very low and I’m sure saying certain words were more difficult that saying others. Be persistent. There is no reason to give up.”

Louis nodded, eyes watery.

“I know you have your own speech therapist, but we also have one that works with the hospital if you are interested?”

Louis only had one therapist.

He shook his head quickly, grabbing his bag.

“Okay, Louis.” She frowned, “I am very sorry about this.” Louis almost rolled his eyes. He heard those words a million times. “Wait, let me get the translator. So, you can ask me what you need to.”

Louis closed his eyes when she left, throwing his bag to the floor.

-

“Baby,” Harry touched the top of Petal’s head as he entered the house. “I’m home.”

Louis stayed seated on the couch, waving when Harry came closer.

“Hey.” Harry sat beside him, putting a hand on Louis’ thigh, “I read your texts.” Louis nodded, playing with the string of his jeans. “How are you?” Louis shrugged, biting his lip. “You wanna talk about it?”

Louis snorted.

Harry sighed, “you know what I mean, Lou. Don’t do that.” Harry rubbed Louis’ thigh, “seriously. You’ve been off. Tell me what’s going on.”

Louis swallowed, sticking his lip out. He blinked at Harry, putting a hand on top of his.

“Baby.” Louis’ mouth twitched. “Do you think I’m going to leave you if you can’t talk?”

Louis blinked quickly, surprised by the sudden question. He swallowed and nodded.

“Louis,” Harry turned towards him, “when you found out that I went to jail, why did you stick around?”

Louis swallowed, signing; ‘because I love you’.

Harry smiled, cupping the side of his boyfriend’s neck, “why would I leave you because you can’t speak? I love you, just like you love me. I am with you because I want to be.” Harry shook his head, “I can’t control how you feel, babe. But I love being with you. When we were at my mom’s grave for the first time, it was silent. Our silence is not quiet. It’s full of so many different things.” Louis sniffled. “If I was only with you, for your voice, then I definitely wouldn’t be with you. Because you sound like a fourteen-year old.” Louis shoved him.

“Baby,” Harry smiled, “I love you, silence and all. You don’t judge me, and I don’t judge you.” Louis nodded, tears building in the corner of his eyes but a small smile on his face. “If I have to remind you every day, I can do that. I’m really good at routine.” Louis rolled his eyes, pressing his face to Harry’s shoulder.

He pressed light kisses to Harry’s shirt, breathing in the classroom, the outside. Louis sighed when Harry’s strong arms pulled him in, letting the couch cradle them.

It wasn’t okay but it was going to be okay. Not now, but eventually.

-

“Hello,” Sandy shook Harry’s hand, “nice to finally meet you.”

“Likewise.” Harry smiled, arm still around Louis, “please, sit where ever you like.”

“Thank you.” Sandy took a seat on the couch and Louis sat next to her, curling up against her arm. “How are you, baby?” Louis frowned, shrugging. “As good as you’re going to get, huh?” Louis smiled small, closing his eyes.

Harry set three cups and a pitcher of lemonade down on their new coffee table, “homemade.”

“Impressive.”

Harry smirked, “Louis helped. He’s a great lemon-squeezer.”

Sandy patted Louis’ head, “I am sure he is.” She looked at Harry, “how is work? You still teach chorus?”

“Yes mam.” Harry grinned at Louis’ blush, “I do. I love it. I have more students now. Louis sometimes comes by.”

“That’s nice.” She looked at Louis, “talk to me, baby.”

Louis sat up, shrugging again, rolling his neck to look at Harry. Harry smirked, “he’s being lazy. Doesn’t want to sign. I always have to speak for him.” Louis rolled his eyes fondly. “We had a talk about his voice never coming back. What would happen if it never came back.”

“What would happen?”

“I would love him just the same.” Harry puckered his lips at his boyfriend, “maybe love him even more.”

Louis bit his knuckle, trying to hold back a smile. He blew a kiss at Harry, bringing one knee to his chest.

“So, what are you worried about, Louis?” Louis looked at Harry again.

“Worried that I’ll stop adoring him.” Harry shook his head with a sigh, “that I will hate that he can’t talk. That it will be so unbearable that only I can speak. That I will hate him for ever and ever even when he shows me nothing but best kind of love. Even when he knows that what I feel for him surpasses words.” Louis made a soft noise and Harry grinned. “I think he also just wants his voice back, something that has nothing to do with me. My baby is just scared, and that’s okay cause I’m right here.”

Sandy chuckled softly, looking at Louis, “boy, do not ruin what you have right now because you are afraid.” She poked him, “that is one of the sweetest boys I have ever met and he’s cute.” Louis giggled, wrapping around her arm.

Louis stared at his boyfriend, batting his lashes, blowing Harry another kiss.

-

“Fuck,” Harry put his fingers in Louis’ hair, pulling. He threw his head back thrusting inside his boyfriend, groaning.

Harry didn’t care that Louis couldn’t talk. If he didn’t like one thing it was that Louis didn’t talk during sex, but he did make little noises. Noises that drove Harry wild.

“You like that, baby?”

Louis whined high in his throat, painfully, stroking his cock between his legs.

Harry licked his hips, huffing, grabbing a handful of Louis’ ass, “Jesus Christ…” He ran a hand down Louis’ spine, both hands gripping his hips, pounding into the smaller man. “Fuck, you feel fucking amazing.” Harry squeezed, watching himself appear and disappear inside his tight boyfriend.

This was why Harry still loved him. Not just the sex, but because nothing changed. Louis was still the sweetest boy he’d ever met. Louis was still weird and still made him laugh. His boyfriend was still the tightest, most delicious person he’d ever gotten to stick his cock in. Louis still spread his legs and arched his back and begged for Harry’s cock with no words.

Louis was still himself.

He thought too much. He asked too many questions. He was still clumsy.

Louis still reached back to grab Harry’s hand while they fucked. Still ached for Harry in the same way and that’s why the transition was easy.

Louis wasn’t a burden. He wasn’t needy. Louis was the same but quieter and Harry was more than okay with that.

“Turn for me, baby.” Harry pulled out, wincing, flipping Louis on his back. He watched his boyfriend, rubbing a warm hand up Louis’ stomach, “look at you -fuck.”

Louis panted, lifting his legs straight up, showing Harry his tattoos. The tattoos Harry was obsessed with. His little secret.

The teacher grabbed his ankles, putting them on his shoulders, touching the tattoos with his other hand. “You like showing me these.” He pinched Louis’ skin softly, “teasin’ me.”

Louis smiled softly, pursing his lips.

“I love you so much, Louis.” Harry pushed Louis’ knees to his chest, tucking his hands behind Louis’ knees. “Give me a nice little view.” He slid back inside, shutting his eyes briefly. Watching the tattoo’s every time he pulled out.

If he could just convince Louis to get one on his hip or lower back.

“Fuck.”

-

“Louis.” Louis looked up from the floor, waving at Cory. He opened his arms for Ryan and Gina who came waddling after.

“Loulou!” Ryan giggled, bouncing.” Louis grabbed Gina’s hand carefully, kissing it. “Loulou can’t talk yet!”

Cory smirked, “no he cannot. Get off him.”

Ryan went to Petal instead, patting her head carefully, like Louis taught him.

Louis signed a ‘thank you’ to Cory, while hugging Gina. Cory nodded, “no problem. You good?” He nodded quickly, holding a thumbs up. “Good to hear.” He looked behind him, “Harry’s talking with some people in the car.” Louis nodded. He knew, he just didn’t want to come outside. “Nothing sketchy. People are just finally paying him money back, you know? He’s always been too generous.” Oh, Louis knew.

Louis smiled when Harry came back seconds later. “They’re waiting for you.”

“Yep.” Cory squatted, “aye, come here.” Both Ryan and Gina went to him. “I’m leaving. You both behave, you hear me? I’m not playing.”

“Yes daddy!”

Cory gave each of them a kiss before standing. “Thank you again, Louis. I’ll be back tonight.” Louis nodded, even though Cory was probably not going to be back til tomorrow afternoon. Louis was going to get paid for his baby siting time. That’s all that mattered. He liked hanging out with the kids too. Once they (Ryan mostly) understood his voice wasn’t coming any time soon, they didn’t bother him with it. Louis liked kids and animals for that reason. They listened, not questioned.

Louis still walked dogs, but they wanted to move into an apartment, so he took care of Cory’s older kids while Nikki took care of the smaller ones. It was surprising that Gina was here, but he didn’t mind (mostly because she was, for the most part, potty trained).

Harry and Cory’s relationship had changed but neither in a good way nor bad. When Cory came it was a; ‘what’s up’, and when he left it was a; ‘bye’. Never ‘see you soon’ or ‘let’s hang out’.

Harry picked up the kid’s backpacks, “have you eaten, Ryan?”

“No!” Ryan giggled when Petal licked him, “I have food in my car backpack!” He ran to Harry, “open, open!”

“Relax man, relax.” Harry huffed, struggling to unzip Ryan’s bag. “Why is it sticky?”

Ryan watched Harry with an open mouth for a while before answering with a small; ‘I don’t know’.

Louis laughed, kissing Gina’s little brown arm. He loved Gina just as much as he loved Ryan. She was quiet, like him. She rarely cried and she always went down easy for naps.

Louis waved at her and she waved back. He had ‘class’ with them where they would read, and he would teach them some sign language. Harry sometimes took the class with them. Gina always learned the fastest.

Louis made a c, putting it on his chest and moving down before pointing at her (Hungry?). He did it two more times before the small girl pinched her fingers together and put them to her mouth (food). Louis beamed, kissing her puffy cheeks. These were the moments where he wanted to praise her, make sure she knew that he was proud but then she was laughing. Then it was okay because she knew he was happy, and he didn’t have to say a word.

“I’m going to start cooking, baby.”

Louis nodded quickly, reaching out for Ryan before he walked by. He took a cracker from him, giving it to Gina.

“Loulou, I want,” Ryan paused to chew. “I want to see the TV.” Louis signed the letter ‘T.V’ and Ryan copied immediately. “Yes! I want to watch it!” He rubbed his chubby hand around his chest (please). “Please!”

Louis smiled, taking them both to the room with Petal following. He set Gina on the bed, changing to a channel with cartoons before going to the kitchen. He kissed Harry’s back before sitting up on the counter.

“Hey.”

Louis smiled, head to the side of the fridge, waving.

“Ready for a long night?”

“Mmhm.”

Harry smiled, setting his cutting board down, “I am not.”

Louis half-smiled, watching his boyfriend wash a pepper. He wiggled his hand, signing. (What’s for dinner?)

Harry lifted a packet of steak, “fajitas? Did I get that right?”

Louis nodded, signing. (Yummy.) He sighed, tapping his fingers against his legs. (Do you want kids?)

Harry frowned, “again.”

Louis made the motion for want twice before doing spelling out ‘kids’. Harry had gotten so good at spelling. If he didn’t know a word yet, Louis spelled it and Harry always got it, no matter how quickly he signed.

“Oh.” Harry tapped the knife against the board, “nah. I don’t.”

Louis smiled wide, pointing at himself before dancing his index finger and middle fingers against his other middle and index fingers. (Me either.)

“I like that I can give them back.”

Louis closed his eyes, listening to his boyfriend chop. He swung his feet softly, happy -more than satisfied with his life despite no voice. Things could be better but things being worse scared him a lot more than the want for them to be better.

“Hey.”

Louis opened his eyes, smiling at Harry now in front of him.

“You remember when you asked me about jail? How it was?” Louis nodded. “I feel like you have put yourself in one. You think too much, just like I did. Way too much.”

Louis rolled his eyes, laying his head against Harry’s shoulder.

Happy endings didn’t always happen the way people want them to because Louis’ would have ended with his voice back. But this wasn’t the worst ending. It was the most realistic one. The one Louis didn’t want, but he got.

But

Louis had Harry. He had Petal and a new home -soon to be even newer. Louis had more patience than when he started his journey. Louis had more love and acceptance than twenty days ago, than twenty months ago.

It wasn’t a happy ending but, then again, it was the end.

He breathed in, grabbing the sides of Harry’s shirt, mouthing, “I love you.”

And Harry loved him too. Loud or quiet, Harry loved him. And, convict or quiet, Louis loved him because Harry was also sweet. Harry was also patient, and a chorus teacher, and private -and perfect. Harry was perfect for him.

Check and check.