All around these buildings look so cold
And they look down on one more story left untold
And one more sunset that won’t turn gold
- Midnight Starlight, Jason Walker
"Yes, mum. Everything's fine, nothing's lost, don't worry. I've done this once before, I can do it again." Harry says into the phone as he finishes putting bowls into one of the kitchen cupboards. It's not that he doesn't appreciate his mums concern, it's just that he'd rather be left alone right now.
"I know, Harry, but you had Adam to help you last time, this time you're all alone. Are you sure you don't want me to come down there and help you? You know I will if you need me to." she continues in that worried voice that Harry wishes she wasn't using.
"No mum, it's okay I can do it alone, there isn't much left to do anyway." Which is true. The only thing he has left to do now is unpack his clothes and hang them in his wardrobe.
"Okay, hone. But remember I'm here and just call me if you need any help. I'm always here, Hazza." And now she's talking about more than the flat and Harry doesn't want that. He doesn't want that at all.
"Thanks, mum. I'll call you if I need you, promise. I have to go now though, love you." he says, and he doesn't necessarily have to go but he does still have to unpack his clothes so he's not completely lying.
"Love you too, sweetheart." she says before Harry hangs up the phone with a sigh.
He looks around the small flat, taking in the plain walls that should be covered with pictures of him and Adam, and the small couch that he should be cuddled up on with Adam, his long legs hanging off the edge, the opening to the bedroom that he should be stumbling through with Adam's lips on his own. He doesn't like living alone.
The flat looks far too empty without Adam, although it's too small to even fit most of Harry's stuff, but he's so used to making room for two people that it just doesn't seem right. He feels like Adam should be coming home from work soon, wrapping his arms around Harry's waist from behind and resting his chin on Harry's shoulder and he cooks their dinner for that night. It breaks Harry's heart all over again to know that's not going to happen anymore.
He needs to do something, he decides. He needs to go out and get drunk and dance with pretty boys and forget about Adam and what they used to have. He needs to get out of this tiny flat and go somewhere less lonely, less empty.
He looks down at the clothes he's wearing; an old t-shirt with paint splattered all over the front from when he was painting the walls earlier, old blue jeans that are ripped beyond belief with stains all down them. He should probably change. He goes to the bedroom (desperately trying to ignore the too big bed that would be just the perfect size if Adam was there to share it with him) and finds a few boxes full of his clothes.
He rummages around in the boxes for a while before finally coming out with a navy blue v neck and tighter-than-tight black skinny jeans. He changes quickly, wanting to get out of the empty flat as son as he possibly can, before slipping on his worn out boots, picking up his wallet and phone and leaving the flat without even a glance back.
Harry is drunk. Harry is so so drunk and finally starting to forget about Adam and the past month completely. He's not a hundred percent sure how many drinks he's had, but he knows that he's been bought quite a few from other people (which he has accepted and politely declined any offers to dance afterwards) so he's probably had far too much.
He's about to order another drink for himself (because apparently far too much is not enough) when someone slides up to the bar beside him. "Can I buy you a drink?" the boy asks, not waiting for an answer from Harry before ordering two drinks that Harry doesn't catch the name of and sliding one towards him when the bartender passes them over.
Harry looks over at the boy then, and it could be all the alcohol he's had, but Harry is pretty sure this boy is an angel. Or a fox. A fox angel. God he's drunk. "Thanks." he says, taking a sip of the drink. Fruity, interesting.
"You wanna dance?" the boy then asks. Harry considers it for a moment before deciding that it's not everyday a fox angel asks you to dance with them. He nods slightly, not wanting to move his head too much or he could possibly be sick, before finishing his drink and taking the hand the boy/fox/angel offers and follows him into the middle of the sweaty crowd.
It's been a while since Harry's done this. He never really went out with Adam, opting just to go to quiet pubs whenever they did. He's missed it, he realizes, when the boy starts grinding against his crotch, wasting no time before he starts kissing Harry's neck. Slowly, he kisses his way up to Harry's ear, nibbling slightly at the lobe and making Harry weak at the knees. "What's your name?" the boy asks, pulling away just slightly.
"Harry" he replies, grinding back down against the shorter boy as he starts to nibble at his collar bone where it's peeking out of his shirt.
"Harry," the boy repeats. Harry quite likes the way he says is, he decides. The way his accent makes the 'H' silent, making it sound softer. It's nice. "m'Louis." the boy then says, slightly muffled against Harry's sweaty skin.
"Louis" Harry repeats, just like Louis had and then after a moments hesitation, "Wanna take this somewhere more private?" And Harry wasn't actually planning on sleeping with anyone tonight, but that was before he met Louis and really, he's not going to pass up an opportunity like this.
Louis kisses him on the mouth ones, just lightly putting pressure against Harry's own lips before pulling back so he can speak. "Your place or mine?"
Harry wakes up slowly the next morning, squeezing his eyes shut tight against the morning sun that's coming through the big window next to the bed that Harry doesn't remember being there before. It takes him a while to realize that he's not at home, his heart stopping for a second as he tries to remember where he is. But then he hears light snoring sound from the bed beside him and looks down to see a sleeping Louis and then he remembers. Well, kind of.
He gets out of bed as quietly as possible, putting on his clothes from the night before and picking up the used condom that's lying on the floor and tossing it in the bin underneath the desk. Saves Louis from cleaning it up later, he supposes.
Just as he's about to leave he turns back over to the desk where he finds some paper and a pen. He writes his number, along with his name, on the paper as quickly as he can, before quietly tiptoeing over to te bed where Louis is still sleeping peacefully and puts the paper down on the pillow next to his head. He's not sure why he does it really, all he knows is that he likes Louis a lot more than he should after only one night that he can barely remember.
He kisses Louis on the cheek before he leaves, anyway.
Once a week has passed without a text or phone call or any kind of sign of life from Louis, Harry realizes it was probably a stupid idea to leave his number in the first place. Harry isn't disappointed, not really, because Louis was only supposed to be a one time thing anyway. Just something to take his mind away from Adam.
It's been about two weeks now since that night with Louis and honestly, Harry's started to forget about him. (He hasn't.) And his brain is certainly no longer a constant stream of 'Adam Adam Louis Adam Louis'. (It is.) So when his phone buzzes with a new message from an unknown number, Harry is definitely surprised. (No, he really is.)
He turns away from the stove where his pasta is boiling to look at his phone to stop it from getting splattered with sauce like his once white t-shirt had.
'Have i left it long enough to text you without seeming too keen?' is what the text says. And then a second one comes through saying 'This is Louis, by the way.'
Harry takes a few long moments to appreciate that Louis actually types properly when he texts, he can always appreciate some good grammar. Adam never did, he always used to use text talk, it was one of the few things about Adam that annoyed Harry. After a small pause he finally texts back 'I was starting to think you weren't interested' and then saves Louis' number to his phone.
He only has enough time to stir his pasta so that it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan before Louis is texting back a 'Who wouldn't be interested in you, curly?' and Harry tries not to think of how Adam obviously wasn't because he's over Adam, he really is. (He isn't.) He doesn't even have time to answer before Louis is texting him again. 'Listen, this is probably way too straight to the point but I was wondering if I could see you again tonight?'
Harry glances back at his pasta before quickly typing out a reply. 'I've made too much pasta for myself, you could come and help me eat it if you want?' Which is true, he's still getting used to only cooking for one.
Louis' reply comes almost instantly. 'Will there be desert? ;)'
'I'm in x'
"Hey, Harry?" Louis says later that night when they're lying in bed still naked and slightly sweaty.
"Yeah?" Harry replies, rolling onto his side to get a better look at Louis. He looks beautiful like this, freshly fucked with flushed cheeks and messy hair.
"Why'd you move here?" he asks. Harry tenses slightly, it's not that he doesn't want to answer, it's just that he doesn't know how. This is only the second time he's seen Louis and he doesn't really want to scare him away by telling him all of his problems. Louis must take his silence the wrong way though, turning his head slightly so he's looking straight at Harry. "Sorry, sorry. That was inappropriate. We hardly know each other, you don't need to tell me."
"No, no. It's just." Harry cuts off, not really knowing what to say because he does want to tell Louis. He kind of wants to tell Louis everything, just to be with him for longer. He wants to tell him anything he can think of and then keep talking, just to see the way Louis face changes with everything he says. "I just don't think you'd be very interested. It's just. It's not that interesting." he finally says.
"Harry, if you don't want to tell me-"
"No. No, I will. I'll tell you." Harry says, quickly, not wanting Louis to think he doesn't like him. "Okay, so like, four years ago, I started dating this guy - Adam. That's his name, his name's Adam. And he was just. I don't know, like kinda perfect. He was just so nice and he made me happy and I was just so lucky to have him, y'know? And after like a year we moved in together and it was great, like I was so in love with him and everything was perfect, y'know?
"But then we like, we started arguing a lot, like a lot. And it wasn't that bad, not really, not until like, a few months ago. Usually when we fought we would just apologize and that would be it but after a while he'd like. He'd leave? And he wouldn't usually come back until like, the next morning. And it's not like I was stupid, I mean I knew he was sleeping with other people y'know. I just. I tried to ignore it and pretend it wasn't happening, I mean, you would wouldn't you?" he can feel his eyes start to water at this point, his voice cracking slightly because this is the first time he's properly spoke about it.
Louis seems to notice because he leans forward and kisses his cheek softly, whispering softly into his ear. "Hey, hey. It's okay you don't have to tell me. I shouldn't have brought it up."
"No, I do. It's okay, I can go on." he says, wiping his eyes harshly, sniffling slightly. "I mean, it was kind of easy to just ignore it. But then there was one day when we had an argument and it was bad. Like worse than usual. So like, I went to mums and then in the morning I went home, no point in ignoring it, right? So I was going to apologize and everything was going to be fine but he. There was - there was a guy and he was like. He was still there and I just. I couldn't ignore that anymore. I just couldn't." He's crying by now, and Louis' kissing away his tears softly, holding him close and whispering sweet nothings into his ears as Harry keeps crying.
"Hey, Harry" Louis says after a while, "mind if I stay?"
"Please stay" Harry manages to choke out. Louis just kisses him again.
It's not until a few weeks later he realizes just how much he misses his family. It's only been a month or so since he last seen them but he's just so used to them living only ten minutes away. It was good like that, being able to just walk to his mums whenever he wanted, especially with him being as dependent on his family as he is.
He's always told his mum everything, ever since he was just little, even when he was a teenager and all his friends were keeping secrets from their parents because they were 'too cool', Harry would still come home from school and tell his mum about every little thing that had happened that day. And he still tells her everything to this day, at twenty-three years old, so being away from her for a month is. It's hard.
He doesn't waste any time before pulling a suitcase out from under his bed and packing enough stuff to last him a few days. He sends a quick text to his mum saying 'Coming home :) x' before grabbing his car keys and his suitcase and going out to his car. He puts the suitcase in the back seat, not bothering to put it in the boot since it's just a small one anyway, then climbs into the drivers seat and plugs his phone into the car.
He decides to go for his Ed Sheeran playlist, letting the opening keys of 'Kiss Me' play through his car speakers. He's not all that surprised when the thinks of Louis.
"Harry, oh god, I've missed you." his mum says, pulling him inside and into a hug. "Where have you been? I thought you would have visited before now."
"I know, mum. I've missed you too." he says, hugging her back, probably tighter than necessary because god, he really has missed her. "I'm sorry I didn't come and visit before, I've been kinda busy." Which is mostly true. He hasn't spent all of his time with Louis, he's been trying to find a job as well. Which has been so far unsuccessful.
"It's okay, honey. Just don't stay away that long again." she says, pulling away from the hug and taking Harry's case from him. "Here, I'll take this up to your room, you go and sit down, okay?"
"Okay. Thanks, mum. Love you." he says, just because he can and he does. More than anyone.
"I love you too, honey." she says, smiling fondly at him before dragging his suitcase up the stairs and in the direction of his old bedroom. He smiles after her before walking further into the house and into the living room.
Robin is sitting on the couch closest to the door, and Gemma is sitting on the furthest away one. He hugs Robin first, telling him how much he missed him, and he has, Robin is like a dad to him by now. He goes over to Gemma afterwards.
"What are you doing here?" he says, pulling Gemma into a hug when she stands because it's been even longer since he's seen her and he didn't expect her to be here today.
"Good to see you too, little brother." she says, and Harry can't see her face but he knows her well enough to know she's rolling her eyes. "Heard you were visiting," she says then, answering Harry's previous question. "Couldn't miss that, could I? Where have you been?"
"Busy," he says and before she can ask him to explain he asks, "what about you, Gem? What have you been up to?"
"Yeah, not much. Started working in that coffee shop you used to love. Y'know the one down town." she tells him, not noticing his abrupt change in conversation, or not mentioning it anyway. "I'm still looking for a proper job, but it's good for now, y'know? The people there are lovely."
"That's great, Gem. M'glad you like it." and he is, she seems happy, and that's all that matters really.
His mum comes in then, asking who wants a cup of tea and then walking back into the kitchen to make a cup for each of them. They talk a little about Robin's job while they wait for his mum to come back. She calls Harry back into the kitchen a few minutes later, asking him to carry in two of the mugs for her. He smiles, picking up his own and Robin's and carries them through to the living room. He's glad she shouted him in rather than someone else, he's glad to know just because he doesn't live here anymore he's not going to be treated like a guest.
No matter where he lives, this will always be his home.
It's not until after he's gone to bed that night that he gets a text from Louis. It's just a simple 'You coming over tonight? x' but Harry can't help but smile anyway.
He texts back, telling Louis that he's at his mums and that he'll be back in a few days. Louis tells him to enjoy himself and tell him as soon as he's back and in no time at all they're just talking about silly things.
It gets late fast and when Louis tells him he's going to sleep Harry tries not to be too disappointed when he sends a quick 'Goodnight, Lou x' to which Louis replies 'Goodnight, Haz. Dream of me ;) xx'
Gemma comes into his room early the next morning, wearing her pajamas and her housecoat, carrying two mug of fresh tea. He wakes up when she opens the door, and he knows from when they were younger to budge up and make room for her in his bed. They used to do this all the time, wake up early and just talk about nothing and everything. They haven't done it in a while, since Adam always used to be there they didn't really get much time to themselves.
She hands one of the steaming mugs over to Harry before crawling under the covers next to him. "Thanks." he says quietly, knowing his mum and Robin will still be asleep.
They sit in a comfortable silence for a while, taking sips of tea and listening contently to the birds outside singing softly. This is Harry's favourite thing about being home, he thinks.
"Tell me about him." Gemma says after a while, a knowing look on her face.
"About who?" Harry asks, acting dumb to the situation even though he knows exactly what she's talking about. They've always been like this, knowing things about each other without them even having to say a word. It's probably weird for other people but for them it's just normal.
"Don't play dumb, Harry. You can't hide anything from me, you should know that by now." she says, smirking slightly as she takes another sip of her tea.
Harry sighs, not really knowing what to say. There's nothing to say really. He and Louis aren't even together.
"I don't know what you want me to say, Gem. We're not even dating, we're just. Y'know." he says, blushing because that's not really something he wants to talk about with his sister.
"Just tell me about him, yeah? I wanna know what you like about him so much."
"I don't like him that much." he argues, ignoring Gemma's scoff. "His name's Louis." he starts, his face morphing to a much more fond expression, his voice going slightly softer. "I don't know Gem, he's just so funny and he laughs at all of my jokes, Gemma. All of them. He's like, the complete opposite of Adam and it's.. Kinda nice."
"Is he hot?" Gemma asks, because well. Priorities.
He chuckles slightly, trying to think of words to describe just how beautiful he really is. "God, Gemma. He's beautiful. Honestly, he's so pretty." he's not really good with words, apparently. "Wait - I think I've got a picture, hold on." He grabs his phone from the bedside table, smiling when he sees he has a text from Louis but ignoring it for now. He goes to his photo albums, quickly finding a picture he has taken of the two of them a few days before when they were watching telly in Harry's flat.
He hands the phone over to Gemma, watching as he lips form a fond little smile as she looks at the photo on the screen. "You've got yourself a keeper there, Haz." she says, passing the phone back to Harry.
They go back to sipping their tea in silence again after that, listening as their mum wakes up and turns on the shower.
Gemma leaves slightly after, collecting the two empty mugs. She pauses at the door, seeming slightly hesitant as she says "don't let him hurt you, okay?" before walking out and leaving Harry alone.
He goes home a few days later, saying his goodbyes at the door with hugs and promises to visit soon.
He hugs his mum first, then Robin and when he gets to Gemma she pulls him close and whispers "bring your boy next time" quietly into his ear for no one else to hear.
He blushes and whispers back "not my boy" but he can't help the huge smile that appears on his face. It doesn't fade the whole way home.
The first thing he does when he gets home is text Louis. It's a simple text, all it says is 'Home :) xx' but he knows Louis will read it the way he means it, read it as an invitation.
Rather than staring at his phone while he waits for a response like he wants to, he decides to put some of his dirty clothes in the washing machine. There's not a lot, since his mum had insisted in doing most of it while he was there, but there's enough to keep him occupied so he doesn't end up hanging around the phone like a teenage girl.
By the time he's done and goes back to check his phone he has two unread messages, both from Louis. The first one says 'Be there in ten xx' and the second one 'There better be food cooking, I'm starving xx'. Harry doesn't even try to hide the smile that spreads over his face at the thought of seeing Louis again. There's no one there to see him anyway.
He's not really sure what he even has in his fridge, or even if he had anything edible, but it was for Louis so he would think of something.
He looks in his fridge, confirming his thoughts that there is, in fact, nothing edible except for a few tomatoes that have been there for god knows how long. Take away it is then.
He flips through a few of the menu's he had lying in a drawer in his kitchen, debating whether he should just chance it and order Chinese and hope Louis will like what he orders, or get fish and chips from the chippy since he knows Louis likes that.
He goes for fish and chips in the end, better safe than sorry.
He texts Louis saying 'Ordered a chippy xx', getting a text back only seconds later. He opens it, slightly confused because Louis should be driving and also slightly worried that Louis isn't coming anymore because Louis should be driving. All it says is 'My savior xx' which. Okay, no need to worry then.
Just then there's a knock at the door and a very cold looking Louis walks through the door before Harry has a chance to answer it. So, that's a thing. Harry takes in Louis flushed cheeks and mitten covered hands before asking, "Did you walk here?"
"Yep." Louis says, smiling brightly at Harry, making his eyes crinkle in the corners. He takes his coat off, along with his beanie and mittens, rubbing his hands together to heat them up again.
"Why? Is something wrong with your car?"
"Nope," Louis replies, walking over to Harry. "I just knew you wouldn't let me leave if I didn't have a car."
Harry laughs softly, wrapping his arms around Louis waist and sighing contently when Louis wraps his own arms around his neck. "Wouldn't have let you leave anyway." he says into the crook of his neck, pulling Louis impossibly closer.
"Cheeky," Louis says, smirking against Harry's chest. He looks up, not moving from where he's wrapped in Harry's arms, so that they're both looking at each other. "I missed you," he confesses, shyly. "So much."
"I missed you too, babe." Harry says back, leaning down at the same time as Louis leans up. Their lips are centimeters away when there's a knock at the door. "That'll be the food then." he says, detangling himself from Louis.
"Fucking cockblocks." Louis mutters as Harry gets the money out of his wallet.
"Don't worry," he says, pecking Louis on the lips quickly. "There's always later."
"Louis! How much spaghetti do you want?" Harry shouts from the kitchen where he is plating up their dinner.
"A lot." Louis says, walking into the kitchen. "Just like. Put the whole pot on my plate."
"Greedy. What about me?" Harry says, putting a few scoops of the spaghetti on his and Louis' plates.
"Not my fault you make the best spaghetti ever." he says, just as Harry finishes putting their dinner onto their plates. They both carry them into the living room, getting comfy on the sofa before they eat.
"So good." Louis says as he takes a bite, leaning over to kiss Harry on the cheek. "Best. Boyfriend. Ever."
Both of them seem to realize what Louis said at the same time, both turning to face each other, Louis' eyes almost as wide as Harry's grin.
"I mean. Like -" Louis starts to explain. Harry cuts him off with a kiss.
"Boyfriend." he says, smiling. "I like boyfriend. Boyfriend is good."
"Yeah?" Louis asks, smiling almost as big as Harry now.
Harry is woken up early the next morning by a bright faced Louis shaking him awake. "Wakey, wakey Haz" he sings into his ear, much too loud for the time of day. "We've got things to do, babe. People to see."
"Wha'?" Harry asks, blinking awake. "We're not doing anything today, Lou." he says through a yawn.
"We are now," Louis says, pecking Harry on the lips, ignoring his disgusting morning breath. "We're going on a date!"
"A date?" Harry asks, sitting up on the bed so he can see better. "Where we goin'?"
"To the zoo!" Louis says, grinning excitedly. "So hurry up. I wanna see the pandas."
They get to the zoo about an hour later, much to Louis' annoyance, apparently ten minutes in the shower it too long, who would've thought. As soon as they get out of the car Louis grabs Harry's hand and drags him over to the ticket booth like an excited child. Harry can't help but smile.
"Can we get two tickets, please?" he asks the woman behind the booth. "Oh! And also two tickets to see the pandas"
There's the awkward moment after she tells them the price of the tickets and they both reach for their wallets. "I'm the on taking you on a date, Harry. That means I pay." Louis says.
"I drove so technically I'm the one taking you on a date." Harry argues. Louis wins, promising that Harry can pay for their next date.
When they walk inside Louis instantly starts dragging him around, pulling him in all directions. "Where should we go first?" he asks excitedly, gripping onto Harry's hand.
"Penguins?" he asks because the penguins are the closest to where they are and also he kind of likes penguins.
Louis smiles, shaking his head. "Nope. Penguins are last. Penguins are always last."
"Always been first for me." he says, smiling anyway because Louis' smiling, so.
Louis tuts. "What would you do without me, eh?" he says, dragging Harry by the hand in the direction of the lions. (Which is where Harry would usually go last but whatever.)
The lion isn't as interesting as it sounds, not really doing anything except pacing around, watching the people pass. The tiger, which is a little further down, is even less interesting as it sleeps in the far corner of it's own cage. Harry swears every time he comes to the zoo the tiger is asleep.
The other few wild cats are a bit better, some of them jumping up and down the platforms in the cage, others chewing away at the meat the zoo keepers chucked in for them.
Further down there's the zebras and the deer, then there's the birds and the monkeys and after about an hour of walking around with occasional stops to look at the animals, they're back to where the penguins.
"No, no, no." Louis says, pulling Harry by the hand towards him when he starts to walk closer to the penguins. "We're not done. Pandas first, penguins last. And look," he shoves his phone in Harry's face, displaying the time, "We're supposed to be there like, now."
They make it to the pandas just on time, they don't take long there since the pandas are, unsurprisingly, asleep. It's interesting anyway, hearing what the zoo keepers had to say about them. Harry finds himself not too bothered that they were asleep when he leaves, especially with Louis' hand in his own.
"Penguins now?" Louis asks, pulling Harry towards them before he can ever answer. They go through the tunnel where they can still see them rather than watching them from outside. Harry is glad, it smells less like fish in there. The only other people there are a group of girls, who seem more interested in taking pictures with each other than actually looking at any animals.
They watch in silence for a while, occasionally cooing at how cute the little penguins are waddling around.
The small group of girls leave after a short while, leaving Harry and Louis alone, which is nice. Just the two of them. "Hey, Harry?" Louis asks, sounding slightly nervous. Harry hums, turning to face Louis when he doesn't answer straight away. "I love you." he says, so so quietly that Harry probably wouldn't have heard if he hadn't been standing so close.
Harry feels like every cell is on fire as he hears those three words that he hasn't heard in so long. They're so familiar yet so so foreign and so different than it was when Adam used to say it that it makes Harry's heart skip a beat.
"I love you, too." he says, leaning down to kiss Louis, right there next to the penguins.
And three years later, when they're living in their tiny shared flat, which should be too small for them both but they make it work, with their two cats, eating waffles off of each others forks, Harry is really glad it wasn't just a one time thing.