Louis reminds Harry of the snow. He’s beautiful and delicate and unique and overpowering and he can be cold and harsh, but he’s Harry’s favourite thing in the whole entire world. Much like the snow. Louis is playful like snowball fights as the sun sets behind silver trees, refreshing like the winter chill on a late night stroll, and free spirited like the tumbling, spinning, uncontrollable snowfall that cascades down and covers the Earth with no escape. Sometimes he’s as small and lost as a single snowflake and other times he’s as frantic and chilling as a blizzard. But Harry wouldn’t have it any other way.
Harry meets Louis when he’s six years old and lost in the middle of ‘Toys R Us’. And it’s snowing.
He’s determined to find the perfect doll for his sister's Christmas present. He thinks he remembers Gemma saying that Ariel was her favourite Disney princess so Harry sets about finding her an Ariel doll. After searching through half the doll aisle he finds a Belle doll, complete with beautiful yellow ball-gown, and decides that he has to have her. But when he turns around to show his Mummy, she’s not there.
Harry’s not scared. Not at all. He is six years old and six year olds aren’t scared that easily. But he’s never been lost before and he doesn’t know what to do. Harry is good at following rules and being a good boy, but now he's lost in more than one sense of the word. He might be just a little bit scared and as he starts to cry he hears a loud, cheerful voice from behind him.
“Do you like Belle?” A boy as soft as silk asks him. A boy with tanned skin and fluffy brown hair. A boy with piercing blue eyes and a comforting smile. A boy who's wearing shorts despite the fact that it's December, displaying the many scabs and bruises he has on his knees and shins. A boy who can't be more than a few years older than Harry and is definitely the prettiest person that Harry has ever seen.
Through all his looking and thinking, Harry had forgotten what the boy said, “Huh?”
Flashing another smile, he asks again, “The doll, do you like Belle?” And just like that the boy melts away Harry's fears.
Harry smiles back, “Oh. Yes, I like Belle.” He brandishes the doll towards the boy to show him.
Harry's brow furrows at the unexpected question, “Well, uh, she reads books, and I like books, and she’s nice to everyone and has curly hair like mine.” He answers, hugging Belle to his chest as if to protect her.
“Belle’s hair’s not that curly.”
Harry pouts, self-consciously prodding his hair, “Yes it is.” Harry knows he's being a whiny child now, but he can't help it. He is a whiny child.
The boy smiles, eyes boring into Harry's, “I quite like curly hair.” He reaches up and curls a ringlet of Harry's locks around his finger and pulls, grazing his cheek as he does it. Harry doesn't blush. Not at all.
Harry, being the polite little boy he always is, asks, “Who do you like?”
The boy lights up with the question, “I like Peter Pan. He’s fun and goes on amazing adventures and he never grows up, which is good because adults are gross.” He's bouncing up and down now, practically vibrating with joy and light, “And he fights pirates and he can fly and he’s dashing and handsome and-”
“You’re like Peter Pan.” Harry cuts in without thinking. It's true. The whole time the boy's been ranting about Peter Pan all Harry could thing was how similar this boy was to the description. Even the dashing and handsome. Like a prince.
“Thanks.” He smiles sweetly, eyes glazing over.
“’s nothing.” Harry mumbles.
The boy offers a hand to Harry, “Do you wanna be my Wendy?”
“Oh.” And Harry definitely blushes now. Harry takes it, despite the fact that the boy's hand is incredibly dirty (paint on his fingers and dirt under his nails) and that Harry is an extremely clean person.
“I’m Louis.” The boy says shaking his hand.
“Harry.” He replies.
The boy, Louis, pulls his hand away and looks at Harry with sincere eyes, before whispering, “Why were you crying?”
Harry huffs indignantly, “I wasn’t crying,” he insists, “I’m six and six years olds don’t cry.”
Louis shrugs, “I’m eight and I still cry,” he tilts his head contemplatively, studying the boy in front of him, “I didn’t like that you were sad, and when my sister’s sad I always talk to her until she’s happy again.”
Harry smiles at that, thinking of how Gemma talks to him to cheer him up. “I’m lost.” He admits.
Louis beams, and Harry's confused at his reaction until Louis says, “Like the lost boys?”
Harry smiles too, “Yes, like the lost boys.”
“Well then,” Louis says taking Harry's hand again, “I, as Peter Pan, will help you.” And without a word more Louis pulls Harry down the aisle at full speed.
“Where are we going?” Harry yells, stumbling in his too big shoes.
Louis laughs, ecstatic, “To find your mum of course!”
Harry's brow furrows in confusion, “But, where's your mum?”
Louis scoffs, “I'm eight, I can look around the shop by myself.” He replies, smugly.
In awe, Harry whispers, “Wow.”
They run through the shop, hand in hand, and Harry isn’t sure where they’re going, but he decides that he’d go anywhere with Louis. The soft, kind-hearted boy who helped Harry when he was scared and lost. Harry feels like he’s made a new friend, and really hopes that Louis feels the same.
They’re running through an aisle of video games when Harry hears a very hysterical and very familiar female voice.
“Oh Harry, there you are!” And then he’s wrapped in warm, comforting arms, and Louis is still holding his hand and he feels like flying (and if he did try flying, he knows that this moment would be the happy thought he’d think of). His mum pulls back from the hug and cups his face in her hands. “I've been looking for you everywhere, are you alright?”
“Yeah.” Harry answer, smiling brightly.
Anne sighs in relief. “Never wander off again, ok?” Harry simply nods, turning to Louis, “And who's this?”
Louis finally lets go of Harry’s hand, something that Harry isn’t particularly happy about, and offers his hand to Anne, “I'm Louis, Mam.”
She shakes his hand, smiling amusedly, “Nice to meet you Louis, I’m Anne.”
Harry pulls on her other arm, to get her attention, “Mummy, Louis helped me find you!”
“Well then, thank you very much Louis,” she says, turning back to Harry, “now come on, we've got more chores to do.”
She goes to pick Harry up but he runs to hide behind Louis, “No! But I wanna stay here!”
“Sweetie, you'll see Louis again.”
“Well, if you boys both want to, I could give Louis here our telephone number, so that he or his mother could phone us. Does that sound good?”
“Yes!” Harry yells and the same time Louis politely replies, “Yes please, Mrs Anne.”
She smiles at the two boys then takes a piece of paper and a pen out of her bag and writes their 11 digit number down, before handing it to Louis. He smiles in gratitude.
Anne stand up again, reaching for her shopping bags, “Harry, say goodbye.”
Harry runs to hug Louis and can feel himself start to cry. Louis laughs, but hugs back just as much, “Don't say goodbye, Hazza, coz I’ll be seeing you soon.”
Harry pulls back and nods, but he keeps crying quietly. So Louis pinches his cheek and ruffles his hair, grabs a Mario game off the shelf next to them and takes off down the aisle again. He and his mum exit the shop and head towards where their car is parked.
Harry may be young but he still feels like something very important and special just happened. And when his mum says, “Oh look, Harry, it’s snowing.” he looks at the falling specks of white and thinks of Louis.
Harry falls for Louis when he’s fourteen and confused and so blinded by Louis’ beauty that he can hardly breathe. And it’s snowing.
Ever since the ages of six and eight they had been inseparable. Even when Louis went off to middle school and spent hours working on homework he had never had before, and little nine year old Harry sat and watched him work, trying to help even though he had no idea of the answers. And when Harry saw Louis change; growing taller and stronger, as soft lines became sharper, more defined, and his smooth little body molded into curves that Harry somehow couldn’t take his eyes off. And when Harry started changing too, now as tall as Louis despite their two year age gap, baby fat melting away as he grew older.
It was around this time, when Louis is sixteen and has his first girlfriend (a truly lovely girl called Eleanor, that, despite the fact that Harry knows she’s pretty and funny, just like Louis, he can’t stop himself from hating), that girls start being interested in him too. They come up to him at lunch, or whenever really, their uniform skirt hitched-up too high and wearing too much lip gloss, and ask if he’d like to take them out. At first Harry blushes with the attention and politely declines, but as time wears on it becomes more and more frustrating and he really struggles to not come across as mean when he says no.
Niall, one of the only friends he has in his own year at school because all the others are dicks, thinks he’s the stupidest person on the planet for always saying no.
“What is wrong with ya? I’m not saying take them all out but some of those girls are so hot,” Niall yells indignantly after Taylor from Music class has walked away from them.
“I’m just really busy with work, Nialler,” Harry sighs.
“Ya need to get your priorities straight.” And Niall starts ranting about all the fit girls in their class, but Harry can’t bring himself to listen.
It’s something that’s been confusing him lately, really. Niall often talks about girls, and, Harry assumes, so do most teenage boys, but Harry just doesn’t understand. He’s never found girls particularly attractive, but he always thought he was a late bloomer, and that sooner or later he’d find a girl he really fancied and things would go on from there. But nothing.
He ends up thinking about it most of the day, not listening to his English teacher rattle on about ‘Othello’, and it’s not until lunchtime that something changes. And, as usual, that change comes in the shape of Louis.
“Greetings, children.” Louis says as he sits across from Harry at their lunch table.
“’sup granddad.” Niall replies, stealing one of Louis’ chips. Louis aims a kick at Niall under the table but ends up hitting Harry instead. It hurts. A lot.
“Oh, sorry babe.” Louis says, reaching out to stroke his arm in comfort. And all the pain goes away with that simple touch. Harry’s about to say something when Liam and Zayn, two boys in Louis’ class who are nice enough, are joining them and Louis starts ranting to them about some piece of homework or another.
So Harry says nothing and he watches Louis. It’s something he does often. It’s difficult not to watch Louis when he’s so bright and animated and beautiful. Well, that’s new, Harry thinks. But it’s true, isn’t it? Louis is beautiful, probably one of the most beautiful people Harry has ever seen. He’s all sharp jawline and fluffy hair and blueblueblue eyes and long eyelashes and thin lips that Harry wants to kiss. And it’s that thought that changes Harry’s world forever. Louis is gorgeous and Harry kind of wants him. The more he thinks about it the more it’s true. He want to hold his hand and run his fingers through his hair and suck marks onto his collarbones and kiss him, oh god does he want to kiss him.
Harry stops for a moment and thinks about what this might mean. Is he gay? Maybe. Does he find other guys attractive? He looks to Zayn, who’s sat next to Louis, and can certainly appreciate his good looks. And Liam too. Definitely more so than any girls he’s seen. Ok, so he might be gay. Guys are attractive. Louis is attractive. And pretty and stunning and hot. And that leads Harry to think about… other things. Things such as Louis’ strong arms and tiny waist and tan skin. Harry will admit that he’d never really given dicks a thought before but there are definitely plenty of things he wants to do to Louis’. And things he want Louis to do to his. Like, right now, if possible.
He’s shaken from his reverie by a foot knocking his and worried cerulean eyes studying his face.
“Are you alright, mate?” Louis asks, nudging his foot again.
Harry blinks slowly, dazed, “What?”
“I asked if you were ok. You seem a bit distant, Haz.”
“’m fine, just daydreaming.” He notes the husky tone of his own voice. He also notices that he’s got a hard on in the middle of the school canteen, and that Louis, who is still staring at him with concern from only two feet away, is the one who unknowingly caused it.
And suddenly Louis’ palm is pressed to his forehead and that certainly isn’t helping Harry’s current situation, “You feel hot, are you sick or something?”
Harry tries to talk but his tongue feels heavy. He opens his mouth and-
“Hey Lou Lou, ready to go?”
It takes a while for Harry to realise that he hadn’t said those words. He looks to his left and sees Eleanor standing there, beaming. Then Louis’ hand is gone from his forehead as she takes a hold of it.
Louis clears his throat, “Oh, hey El.”
She leans down and pecks his lips, “I’ve missed you,” she turns to Harry, “Hello Harry.”
Harry still can’t talk so he simply nods. Eleanor pulls Louis from his seat and into a hug, “So, ready to go?” she asks again.
“Um, go where?” Louis asks, confused.
“Maths, silly.” She laughs.
“Oh, right, sure,” Louis struggles to gather his things before Eleanor pulls him away, “See you later, Harry.” And then he’s gone.
Harry waves, dumbfounded.
“Ya sure you’re alright, mate?” a loud Irish voice says in his ear and Harry falls out of his seat in shock.
Harry had forgotten the boy was with him, “Shit, Niall, don’t do that.”
“Don’t do what? Talk? You’re not the first to ask that,” He laughs, “Ya looked about ready to murder her.”
Niall throws a chip at him, “Eleanor, of course.”
He slowly stands up, then realises that he’s still sporting a semi, and quickly grabs his bag to hide his issue, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Niall fixes him with a knowing gaze, “‘s just, ya were looking at Louis like you wanted to eat him,” Harry blushes, “and then she turned up and-”
“You know what, Niall,” Harry says, as he slowly backs away from the lad, “I’m gonna head to the nurse’s office, I’m not feeling too good.”
Niall laughs again, “Whatever ya say.”
And if Harry maybe goes to the bathroom to deal with his Louis-induced problem, no one has to know.
It’s coming to the end of term, and Christmas excitement is in the air. With it comes short days and cold nights and dismal weather, so the merriment is toned down a bit.
Harry knows he should be concentrating on work, so as not to fall behind in his GCSE’s before they even really start, but his mind always drifts to Louis. He finds himself thinking about Louis a lot. When he wakes up cold and wishes the boy were with him. When he’s in class and remembers a funny joke Louis told him. When he’s alone in his dark bedroom and the image of Louis’ tanned skin fills his mind. It’s very distracting. Niall noticed it first.
“Hey, mate,” he said during a rigorous FIFA tournament with Zayn, Liam and Louis, after the three boys had left to get refreshments. Harry had spent less time playing and more time watching Louis dominate the game. “I know you’re shit at this, but not normally this shit. If lover boy is distracting you too much, why don’t you do something about it?”
Harry choked on thin air. “What?”
“Why don’t you tell Louis you like him?” Niall said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
“I- I don’t,” Harry replied, looking anywhere but at the Irish lad.
“Nice try, but you’re not exactly subtle. Or maybe I just know you too well.” Harry said nothing, and Niall looked at him curiously, just to figure out what to say next, “I don’t mind, if that’s what you’re worried about. I couldn’t care less who you fancy. As long as they treat ya right and love ya. A happy Haz makes for a happy Nialler.” He nudged Harry playfully, trying to lighten the sudden tense atmosphere.
Harry decided to continue with the joking, “That’s the longest I’ve heard you speak without swearing.”
Niall shoved him, harder than last time, “Oh fuck off. I’m trying to be sensitive over here! You’re me best mate, and you can fuck whoever ya want and I’ll still love ya just the same.”
Harry looked at him skeptically, but smiled anyway, “How sweet. But really, Nialler, thank you. You’re my best mate too.”
“Don’t let Louis hear ya, or he’ll get jealous.”
Their moment is broken by Louis barging into the room, “Don’t let me hear what?”
“That Harry likes me more than you.” He said, offhandedly.
He sits down so close to Harry that their sides are pressed together, “Impossible.”
His mum notices soon enough, asking him if the reason he’s been so distracted is because of a girl. He’s quick to correct her, saying that he does have a crush, but on a boy. Immediately she knows it’s Louis. And they hug and drink hot chocolate and talk into the early hours of the morning.
It seems that the only person who doesn’t know about his crush is Louis himself.
Louis had always been the one person Harry could talk to about anything, and he wasn’t planning on stopping now just because the subject matter was a little more serious.
They’re walking towards their town shopping centre to do some Christmas shopping together, like they do every year, when it starts to snow. Harry looks up as the heavens fall upon them. Then he looks to Louis, whose eyes are bright with child-like wonderment at the sight of the snowfall. Then he looks to his bare hands as they start to go numb from the cold, and just a second after Harry realises that he forgot his gloves, Louis is holding his hand. Harry looks at him in shock.
Louis laughs at his expression, “Don’t want you getting frost bite, now do we.”
Harry is speechless, but doesn’t dare let go, and makes a mental note to forget his gloves more often. The moment that walk into HMV, Louis drops his hand in order to browse the CD’s, and Harry misses it immediately. Yet his skin still feels warm from where Louis was holding it with his gloved hand. And that feeling of lingering affection is enough to give Harry the courage to talk.
“Louis.” He whispers. Louis simply hums in response, not looking at him, “Can I ask you something?”
Harry realises that he doesn’t know how to say it, but his mouth has other plans, apparently, as it speaks without his consent, “Well, I have this friend, you see.” He mentally face palms.
“Friend. Right.” Louis laughs at the clichéd nature of it all.
“Yeah, and he’s been thinking a lot lately, and he’s, umm, come to the conclusion, that he,” he takes a deep breath, “likes… boys.”
That’s what finally get Louis to look at him, eyes full of shock and concern. He slowly puts down the CD in his hands and speaks even slower, “Okay.”
Too late to turn back now, Harry thinks, so he carries on, slowly digging his own grave with his words, “And he doesn’t know whether or not he should tell his other friends, because… because he doesn’t know if they’ll be okay with it, or not.”
And there it is. It’s all out there. Well not all, and he did it the most cowardly way known to man, but that’s beside the point. Louis looks at him with a blank expression, and Harry wonders what he’s thinking, what he’s gonna say. If he’s gonna say anything at all, or just run away and never speak to Harry again.
Louis takes a deep breath and Harry physically flinches, “Well.” He seems to deliberate over how to phrase his words, “If I were this friend of yours, I’d think that… if any of my friends didn’t accept me for who I was, then they weren’t true friends.” Louis takes a step closer, so that barely any space is separating them and Harry feels like he may cry, “And. If I was one of your friend’s… friends… I’d tell him that I’d love him no matter what and that he should never be afraid of telling me anything.”
There’s silence between the two of the, but Harry brain if running a mile a minute. He breathes a sigh of relief, and feels tears forming, eyes glazing, “That’s, um, that’s good advice. I’ll tell him that.”
Suddenly Louis’ pulled him into a tight hug and Harry simultaneously can’t breathe yet breathes easier in Louis’ grasp. Then the tears start flowing, Harry hugs him back just as tight and Louis’ warm breath is whispering into his ear, “I mean it, Haz, you’re my best friend and I love you no matter who you are. And the fact that you want to share such an intimate and important part of you means the world to me.” Louis pulls back enough to look Harry in the eye, but doesn’t let go.
All Harry can think to say is, “Thank you.”
Louis chuckles affectionately and brings his hands up to Harry’s face. He cups his cheeks and wipes away Harry’s tears with his thumbs, “I love you, Haz.”
Harry feels like crying again. “I love you too, Lou,” he replies, smiling so wide his face hurts.
There’s a moments between them, their platonic (at least on one side) ‘I love you’s' hanging in the air and Louis' palms still cupping his face, and Harry feels something change.
Then it’s all broken when Louis drops his hands and takes a step away from him, laughing breathlessly, “Come on, I think it’s the perfect weather for a Disney marathon and hot chocolate. You with me?”
“Always.” Harry smiles following Louis to the ends of the earth. Or the DVD section.
Then they’re browsing through DVDs and everything’s wonderful. Harry feels warm and wanted, and Louis looks lovely. Soft and cozy and content, and that makes Harry so happy he could burst at the seams. And his heart is beating incredible fast and he’s having trouble fighting his urges to touch Louis.
Then Louis takes two DVDs off the shelf and hands one to him with a smile. Harry looks down and sees that its ‘Beauty and the Beast’, and just the fact that Louis remembers that it’s his favourite shouldn’t be quite so endearing, but it is. So, Harry takes a deep breath, prepares to confess his feelings, and extol Louis’ beauty and all those wonderful romantic things, but then Louis is showing him the DVD still in his hands, Peter Pan, and starts speaking enthusiastically.
“The drama department’s doing Peter Pan next term and guess who I am?” He pauses for effect, but Harry knows the question was meant rhetorically, “The boy in green himself.”
Harry smiles smugly, as if he had known all along (and, he supposes, a part of him did), “That’s fantastic, you’re perfect.” And sure, he meant for the role, but he means it just as much in the generic sense. Not that there’s anything generic about Louis.
“And,” he adds excitedly, “Eleanor is my Wendy!”
Louis is smiling widely and impishly (but Louis always has an air of mischief about him. That’s why he’s perfect for Peter Pan) and Harry knows he wants him to match his excitement, but a part of him feels like it’s dying as he remembers when they first met.
“You’re like Peter Pan.” Harry cuts in without thinking.
The boy offers a hand to him, “Do you wanna be my Wendy?”
So Harry puts on a brave face for his best friend, smiling encouragingly, and resolves himself to pine in silence.
They finish their shopping and head to Louis’ house, winding their way through the falling snow. When they arrive, instead of warming up in the living room and having a Disney marathon, Louis pulls him through the house and out into the garden and collapses into the snow to make a snow angel.
Harry watches him, breathless. And not just because of the running. Louis simultaneously blends into the snow and stands out in stark contrast. His eyes close in bliss, and Harry wonders how he’s not cold, lying in the snow like that. Everything about Louis is perfect. He’s lying there, face flushed and disheveled and he couldn’t be any more beautiful. And that’s when Harry realises that he’s well and truly in love with him. He doesn’t have much time to dwell on the thought before Louis opens his eyes, smiles, and pulls Harry on top of him, and he decides that if he could live one moment on repeat forevermore, this would be his moment. Right here, right now. Just him, Louis and the snow.
Harry’s heart breaks when he’s sixteen and Louis leaves for University without saying goodbye.
The first person Louis goes to when he gets his A-Level results is Harry. He hasn’t opened the envelope yet and he’s having a bit of a panic attack, so Harry sits him down and tells him how proud he is of him and that no matter what it says in that letter he’ll support him.
When Louis opens his results and squeals in joy (which he’ll deny having done if you ask him) Harry’s the one he practically jumps on to hug. When Louis suggest going out to celebrate, its Harry he wants to celebrate with. And when Eleanor texts Louis asking if he wants to come ‘round to hers, he says no in order to stay with Harry.
So all and all, it’s been a pretty good day. It’s a warm summer evening and everything’s tranquil. They decided to stay in and watch a film rather than go out and everything’s wonderful until half way through the movie when Louis says “D’you ever think about life?” Harry’s head snaps round to look at him, brow furrowing at the unexpected question, “Of course,” he says, hesitantly.
Louis nods slowly then speaks again, still not looking at him. “But like, what you want to do with your life and where you want to go, you know, big stuff like that.”
Harry shakes his head, “Not really.”
“I have.” Louis is looking at his hands now, fiddling with a loose thread on the armrest he’s leaning on.
Harry’s worried now. “Do you wanna talk about it?”
Louis physically shakes himself. “No, I just- let’s just watch.”
Harry nods slowly, relaxing back into his previous position, but he doesn’t take his eyes off Louis, staring at his profile. He can tell that Louis isn’t watching the film, eyes unfocused, and Harry can practically see his internal monologue.
“I’m going to London, I think.” If Harry hadn’t seen Louis’ lips move to form those words, he wouldn’t have believed his ears. Harry’s still trying to focus on what’s happening when Louis elaborates, “For Uni. With these results, I can.”
And then the silence returns, the only sounds being the film’s hollow dialogue and Harry’s heart as it beats erratically in his chest. Harry wonders if Louis can hear it too. “Oh. What’re you gonna do?” Harry asks, trying to keep his voice steady as he slowly start to freak out.
Louis clears his throat, “Well, I’m doing drama and education to-.”
“To be a drama teacher, right.” Harry finishes automatically.
Louis finally turns to look at him, whispering a tentative “Yeah.” He looks so young in this moment, eyes wide and afraid, curled up against his side of the sofa.
There’s a question burning at the back of Harry’s throat, and when he asks it, he spits the words like acid. “When are you moving?”
“The end of the month.”
The film still plays, and Harry is thankful for the distraction as he watches it with empty eyes. Then he asks, voice filled with desperation, “Why didn’t you tell me?”
Louis turns his whole body towards him, causing Harry to do so too. He looks at Harry imploringly and speaks frantically, “I didn’t know. Until I got my results I didn’t know if I’d be able to. I didn’t want to say anything in case things didn’t turn out right.” Louis is moving his hands wildly as he rants. Harry grasps his hands in his.
“Congratulations.” He tries not to sound bitter, for Louis’ sake.
Louis shakes his head, eyes cast downward. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you-”
Harry brings a hand to lift his chin, looking him in the eyes, “No I understand, and I’m so proud of you.” He smiles shyly.
Louis smiles back, “Thank you.”
That’s the last they talk about it. They finish the film, then Louis says something about having work early the next day and makes his quick exit, leaving Harry alone, confused and a little bit sad. He’s left only with his thoughts, and that’s never a good thing, especially when it concerns Louis. Louis whom he loves. Louis who’s leaving him.
Harry gets up from their saggy old sofa and cleans up the mess of drinks and popcorn. It isn’t until he’s returning the DVD to its case and putting it away that the situation really sinks in. Louis is leaving. He’s moving to London and who knows when he’ll be back, if ever. He’ll do amazing new things and make amazing new friends and live his life without Harry. Maybe Eleanor will move down with him and they’ll start their perfect little life together like it was always going to be. And Harry will be stuck here. In this stupid little town with the same people he’s now since he was born, dying of boredom.
For a moment Harry thinks of the positives, if there are any, of Louis moving to London. Louis will be happy, Harry thinks, he’ll achieve his dream and live his life in the big city. Louis was never meant for town life, he’s too bright for that, too loveable for that. Too brilliant for that. And if Louis is away, then maybe, just maybe, Harry can start to get over him. There’s nothing more painful than unrequited love. No, scratch that, there’s nothing more painful than unrequited love, never standing a chance at that love, jealousy and that love leaving you. Yep, that just about sums up Harry’s life.
It just about sums up how he feels about Louis, knowing he’ll never love him back, A) because he’s straight and B) because he’s got a beautiful girlfriend who he’s been with for the past three years and loves dearly and who he’s probably moving across the country with.
Yet. No matter how much pain having Louis right in front of him but not having him is, Louis not being there at all would be pure agony.
But. Harry can’t possible say anything. Louis is his best friend and he isn’t gonna stop him from living his life. He just wants Louis to be happy.
So. Harry will be the amazing, supportive, best friend that Louis deserves. Whilst dying inside.
And apparently, part of being supportive is throwing him a going away party. Harry thinks it’s stupid, but Niall insists that it’s a brilliant idea.
“It’s a brilliant idea!” Niall insists, once again, as he sorts out the drinks for the party.
“I’m still not sure about it,” Harry replies, hanging up fairy lights.
“I think it’s a bit too late to change your mind now, mate.” Niall laughs, indicating the room they’d been setting up for the last hour. Harry and Niall have commandeered his house for the night, Harry having promised his mum that nothing would go wrong and allowing Gemma to stay as a chaperone for the event. And so far their decorating had gone pretty well (Gemma having been no help). Lights and food and plenty of alcohol. Niall even managed to get a banner that says ‘London Calling’. Not bad.
“Yeah, well, you’re pretty persuasive.” He finishes blue-tacking the lights to the wall and indicates for Niall to turn the main light off.
Once the fairy lights are on and everything’s set up, people start arriving. Harry wasn’t sure who he should invite or not, so he just invited most of Louis’ year and the Drama department to come along and hoped for the best.
By 20:00 pretty much everyone is there except for Louis and Zayn, who was tasked with distracting Louis and then bringing him to the party. Harry is just starting to worry that Zayn himself got distracted when a distinctly Northern (and in Harry’s opinion, beautiful) voice speaks from behind him.
“Well, well, well, what do we have here?” Louis asks, smirking.
Harry’s clever reply is, “Hi.”
Louis laughs. “Very articulate. Is this a party? For little ol’ me?”
Harry’s blushing now, fumbling with his words. And he hasn’t even had anything to drink, “Uh, yeah. It was Niall’s idea though so.” He points an incriminating finger at Niall.
“Well thank you both, this is wonderful.” Louis says, pulling them both into a crippling hug, “Now I assume there’s alcohol.”
Nialls laughs, having drunk two and half beers already but having hardly been affected at all. “Sure thing, Tommo. Just don’t tell me mam.” And then the two of them are off to the kitchen to get more drinks, leaving Harry alone.
Harry had always hated parties. Especially ones with alcohol. Especially when there’s people getting off with each other on every surface. Not that Harry has anything wrong with that, he’s just never been the sort to make out with random people. He’s sixteen years old and he’s only really kissed one person. Last year, he dated this boy Nick for a bit. Nick was nice enough, snarky and sarcastic, and it didn’t take long for Harry to realise that he liked him because he was a bit like Louis. He’d ended it after that realisation. It wasn’t exactly a tough decision to make, mainly because Louis and Nick hated each other, so the choice was clear really. And he hadn’t even done that much with Nick. Sure, they had snogged, a lot, and it was great but Harry’s the sentimental type, and anything without proper feelings behind it just doesn’t feel right.
He stands with Liam for a bit, both in their sober glory, and when Zayn pulls Liam away for a ‘confidential conversation’, Harry decides that he needs a bit of a ‘party-break’, heading up to his room for some peace and quiet. When he gets there, however, there is already a body lying on his double bed. And Harry is kind of embarrassed that it takes him about two seconds to recognise Louis’ outline in the dim light.
Harry crawls onto the bed, kneeling beside Louis, who’s lain face-down on the mattress. “Hey Lou, you having fun?”
“Yeah, this is brill, Haz, thanks so much,” he replies, a strange tone to his voice. Not quite sarcastic. Monotonous, maybe.
Harry is shocked by this. Especially because Louis is a fun and completely crazy drunk, not the type to spill all his woes to a bartender. “Are you okay?”
In the same dry tone, he answers, “Course I am.”
“Lou, what’s wrong?” a wave of panic washes over him, “Is it the party? I knew it was a bad idea, I told Niall that, but he-”
Louis laughs, but it’s humourless, bitter. “The party’s great, Haz, I’m the miserable bastard that’s ruining it.”
Harry stares at the back of Louis’ head. Then he raises his hand and lays it on Louis’ back in what he thinks is a soothing gesture, but it’s as if he’s flicked a switch in Louis, as he stands up, shaking off Harry’s hand. He looks like he’s been crying. He looks older in this moment than Harry has ever seen him.
“I’m leaving on Monday,” he sighs.
Louis raises an eyebrow at him, asking if he really knows, “I’ve got two days.” Harry doesn’t know what to say, so he shrugs. That seems to annoy Louis beyond belief. “Why do we have to grow up, Haz?” he snaps, “Why do things have to change, why do people change and leave you in the fucking dust?”
Harry tries not to sound too concerned. “What happened, please tell me.”
Louis closes his eyes and puts his head in his hands, self-deprecating. “I’m being whiney, and I’m sorry.”
Harry rushes to his side. “No, don’t be sorry. People are allowed to complain, you are allowed to complain. Everyone need to let off steam every once in a while.”
Louis just stares at him for a moment, then says, scarily calm, “I get into Uni by the skin of my teeth, now I’m gonna move to a huge city with no one I know and spend three years bottom of my class, before devoting the rest of my life to teaching ungrateful teenagers in a shitty school how to be a tree.” Hot, angry tears are streaming from his blue, blood-shot eyes, running over the ridges of his defined cheek bones and intermingling with his stubble. He looks utterly broken. “That’s what I’ve decided to do with my life, Haz. When I was little I wanted to be an actor. Well, you know what they say: If you can’t act, teach.”
“But you can act, Louis. You’ve always been in the lead in the plays and musicals the school’s done.” Harry realises that he’s started crying too. Second-hand sadness.
Louis chuckles darkly. “Big whoop. Out in the real world, I don’t stand a chance.”
“You don’t know that-”
“She left me.” And now, rather than being angry, Louis looks desolate and confused, trying to figure out what he’s done wrong.
Harry blinks, mouth agape. “What?”
Louis sits down on the edge of the bed again, leaving Harry standing awkwardly in the middle of the room. “Eleanor, she broke up with me, before I got here. That’s why we were late.” He says it like the words physically cause him pain. “I thought getting smashed would help, but here we are.”
“Oh.” And Harry knows he shouldn’t be at all happy about it, but his disloyal heart skips a beat.
“After three years,” he says, more to himself, than Harry.
Harry walks slowly over to Louis, giving him the time to tell him to piss off. When he doesn’t, Harry sits down next to him. He tries not to ask, he really does (he doesn’t at all) but the word is on the tip of his tongue, just waiting to be said. So he gives in. “Why?”
Louis is suddenly animated, telling Harry this as if he were a children’s entertainer telling a bedtime story. “She said she wanted a fresh start. Going to Uni, and all, a new life,” he pauses, solemn again. “I told her that I loved her, as I always do when we have fights. She said that she thought she loved me like that, but she loves me like family. Three years I wasted on her. Three years I thought I had someone to love me. I should have known really. Who could love me?”
Those four words break Harry’s heart in two, and it physically pains him to think that this lovely, soft-as-the-fresh-fallen-snow, boy thinks that no one could love him. That how Harry feels is impossible. Harry wants to curl up and cry, but he knows he must be strong for Louis. “Your family loves you. Zayn and Liam love you, even Niall,” he pauses before adding, “I love you.”
Louis laughs and Harry crumbles a little more, “Thanks, Haz, but it’s not the same. All I’ve ever wanted is to be in love. Call me a hopeless romantic, that I’m too young, but. If you have love, you can get through all the other shit that life throws at you.”
And there’s the punch line. The deepest cut, the knockout punch. The last straw.
“I’m in love with you,” Harry says, and Louis looks like he’s been punched in the gut or that one of his family members has died. Harry kind of wants to take it back, but he couldn’t without being the worst friend in the entire universe. So, he thinks, in for a penny, in for a pound. “I’ve been in love with you since I was fourteen. I think even before that, probably.”
“Very funny, Harry, but-” Louis starts to edge his way off the bed, putting agonising distance between them, but Harry can’t let him go without knowing just how loved he is.
“I think you’re amazing. You’re funny and talented and clever. You’re kindhearted, thoughtful, caring. You’re beautiful.”
And now Louis seems to believe him. Or at least, wants to believe him. All fear and panic leaving his eyes and his expression softening. Like Harry had just said the magic words that Louis had been waiting to hear all his life. And maybe he had.
“You- You think I’m beautiful?” Louis is blushing now, and it is quite literally the cutest thing in the world, but above all that, it’s stunning. So he tells Louis as such.
“Louis. You’re the most gorgeous person I’ve ever met.”
Louis stares at him in wonderment, eyes glazed over and a shy smile on his lips. Slowly, he edges his way towards Harry, crawling across the bed to reach him. Once he’s right in front of the curly haired boy, he pauses, searching Harry’s face. Harry, on the other hand, cannot breathe, something he is very used to around Louis. His face is an inch away from Harry’s, and they’re so close now that it’s hard to focus on any of Louis’ features, so Harry lets his other sense take charge.
He breathes in the smell of him. Vanilla and cheap cologne and Louis. He feels Louis’ warm breath on his lips, smelling strongly of alcohol, but Harry doesn’t exactly focus on that. Then it’s like someone’s switched Louis into action. He pushes Harry back until he’s lying on the bed, then straddles him, leaning forward until their noses touch, and Harry’s senses are on overload. He feels Louis’ strong legs around his hips and his arms caging him in, surrounding him in golden skin and warmth.
“Tell me to stop and I will,” Louis whispers, and Harry feels each word as it hits him.
Harry has been wanting this for the past two and a half years, there’s no way he’s stopping it now. When he tries to say something, all that comes out is a raspy, “Louis, please.”
Louis smirks then closes the distance between them. And Harry sees fireworks and lights, colours dancing behind his eyelids, the soundtrack of the century filling the silence. And he knows it’s clichéd, and that it’s clichéd to acknowledge and conform to the cliché, but that’s not stopping him. He feels drunk, and Louis’ touch is the sweetest wine he’s ever tasted.
It feels like so much more than a kiss. Probably because his hands are in Louis’ hair, Louis’ fingertips exploring his torso and Louis’ tongue exploring plenty more. Like Harry’s mouth. And neck and chest. Sucking bruises that he’ll feel for days. But it feels like more because it has substance behind it. Love, if only Harry’s, and compassion and knowledge of the other. Louis’ movements are frantic yet careful and Harry feels more loved than he’s ever felt before. He also feels more turned on than ever before, his hard-on straining painfully in his jeans, but he doesn’t have the strength to feel embarrassed as Louis grinds down and Harry loses all coherent thought. Well, except for the thought ‘oh my god Louis is touching me and I can tell he wants this just as much as me’ as Harry feels Louis’ erection digging into his hip. And this is definitely the most erotic thing Harry’s ever experienced. It feels so much better than anything Harry had done with Nick, but that all comes down to Louis.
Louis moans from above him. “You think too much. Just let go,” he whispers hotly into his ear before biting down and sucking a bruise just below it. And Harry does. He lets himself feel and experience, back arching in pleasure as he falls into the abyss.
Harry wakes to aching muscles, happy memories and an empty bed. He reaches across to feel the space that Louis had occupied, finding it cold, Louis nowhere in sight. Part of Harry wants to freak out, but the rest of him is still blissed out from the previous night’s events. He tells himself that Louis has a valid reason for why he left, after all, why wouldn’t he?
He get up, pulls on a pair of tracksuit bottoms and heads downstairs, joints cracking and muscles stretching pleasantly. He finds his house relatively empty, the only people around being Liam, Zayn and Niall, who are passed out in the spare room, Gemma being asleep in hers, and his parents not being home yet. The house is, however, full of rubbish and a few stains on the carpets, but no lasting damage. Harry is surprised that they coped so well, particularly because he hadn’t rejoined the party after his time with Louis, but Harry’s pretty sure that Liam had taken charge anyway.
He wakes up Niall, Zayn and Liam, laughs at Zayn’s hangover and somehow manages to convince Niall to help him tidy up. Liam offers his help freely. Throughout his morning (well, early afternoon) of cleaning, all he thinks of Louis and how soon is too soon to go see him. He decides, after their clean-up is done and the boys have headed home, that he’s never waited before seeing Louis before, so he’s not gonna start now.
He walks through the town with a spring in his step and anticipation coursing through his veins. He rings the Tomlinson’s door bell, is greeted by Louis’ mum, as he always is, and starts the usual journey upstairs to Louis’ room. He knocks, and hears Louis telling him to ‘come in’, so he does.
Louis is lying on his bed, much like he had been on Harry’s last night. There are boxes upon boxes of Louis' things strewn about the room, showing off his terrible packing skills and his laziness. Harry smiles at the scene fondly. That smile vanishes however when he sees the cold look on Louis’ face.
Harry tries for sweet, “Hi.”
“Hey, Harry,” Louis sighs, getting to his feet and busying himself with the surrounding boxes, something Harry has never seen him do willingly.
“You left before I woke up this morning, so I just thought I’d come see how you are,” he says tentatively.
Louis doesn’t look at him, “I’ve got the world’s worst hangover, but I’m otherwise fine.”
Harry walks slowly over to him, and, when Louis doesn’t stop him, he puts on hand on Louis’ bicep. “I just wanted to say, about last night. Thank you. It means so much-”
“Don’t,” Louis snaps, shaking Harry off.
“Don’t what?” Harry murmurs.
“Don’t talk about it. I don’t want to talk about it.” When Harry says nothing, Louis turns to see if he’s still there. When he sees Harry rooted to the spot looking like he’s been slapped, he takes a deep breath before asking, “Let’s pretend it didn’t happen, alright?”
Harry can feel the tears but won’t let them fall, “No, I can’t.”
Louis sighs in frustration, “Look, Harry, I was drunk and I. I didn’t- didn’t mean to.” He deflates, “I just wanted to feel. Loved.”
“You are loved,” Harry assures him, thinking that’s what he want to hear.
“Don’t start with that again,” Louis spits.
Harry ignores the pain of Louis’ words and powers through, “Louis, I love you.”
Louis looks at Harry, really looks, his gaze unwavering, and Harry feels like he's being inspected. Analysed to see if he’s lying or not. “You need to stop this, I can’t take it anymore.”
And something in Harry snaps, the side of him that just lets Louis yell and scream without question breaks away, and Harry’s anger bubbles to the surface. “You’re the one who’s been a pain in the arse to everyone for the past month. Yelling and scowling, and just being a dick, really.”
Louis seethes. “Don’t make me out as the bad guy, Harry.”
“Well, aren’t you?”
Louis turns back to his boxes, focusing on anything other than Harry. “Look, Harry, I’ve got lots of packing to do, so if you don’t mind.”
Harry knows he’s done something wrong and searches desperately for a resolve. “Do you want some help?”
Louis freeze, hands still holding random bits and pieces from his desk. Harry can see that one thing he’s holding is a picture of them at Lego land when they were little. Harry knows that Louis is looking at the photo too, and prays to a god he doesn’t believe in that Louis will let him stay.
“Leave.” Louis’ voice cuts through the silence. Harry nods, though he knows Louis can’t see him, and slowly trudges towards the door. He looks at the photos still adorning Louis’ walls, yet to have been deemed worthy of coming to London with Louis, or being left in his childhood bedroom with the rest of his unnecessary juvenile belongings.
He sees pictures of them as kids, through middle school, documenting the near ten years of their friendship. He turns back to Louis, who still hasn’t moved an inch, obviously waiting for Harry to leave. Harry doesn’t want Louis to feel guilty, to be ashamed about what they did. He doesn’t want Louis to hate him. “Last night was my first time, Louis,” he says slowly, and Louis visibly flinches at the words, “You were my first time. And no matter how resentful you are about it, I don’t regret it for one second.” Harry can see Louis start to shake with silent tears. “I’m glad it was you.”
Harry leaves without another word, and it isn’t until Harry gets home that his own tears start falling. And he wants to go back and fight, to argue his case and get Louis to love him, but the odds aren’t exactly in his favour. He knew things weren’t going to be perfect, what with Louis still moving, but he had hoped. And maybe prayed a little.
That’s the last he sees Louis before he leaves. He stopped himself from going back, saying that if Louis wanted to talk, he’d come to him. Wishing for Louis to come beating down his door in order to apologise to him, so as not to leave it like this. Not leave their friendship in tatters with Louis moving away. But, of course, that’s what has happened. Harry knew he’d feel lost without Louis, like a part of him is missing, but he didn’t expect just how much that would hurt. And he had hoped he’d have cheeky texts from Louis and pictures from the boy to numb the pain.
Harry also, foolishly, expects Louis to call and say sorry. But that doesn’t happen either. In fact, months go by, school and A-Levels starting, Halloween passing by in a drunken daze and bonfire night being uncelebrated for Harry, with his only connection to Louis being his Twitter feed and Instagram photos.
The thing is, that night Harry thought that Louis liked him back. Liked him the way he has always craved and yearned for. It wasn’t exactly an irrational assumption. Louis had kissed him, and caressed him and whispered sweet nothings in his ear. He had mapped out Harry’s skin with his lips and held him close as he fell into bliss. And Harry just doesn’t understand why Louis would do all that and then abandon him. It’s not like Harry was some random guy he met in a bar. No. They’ve known each other for ten years, best friends for a decade. Been there for each other no matter what. Surely even sleeping together couldn’t ruin such a friendship. But maybe too much love can.
It’s late November and Harry finds himself counting down the days until the Christmas holidays. Or rather, counting down the days until he could see Louis again. That is, until he finds out that Louis is staying in London for Christmas. A part of Harry thinks he’s doing so just to avoid him, but the rest of him reminds him that that’s ridiculous. He tells Niall as much, hoping for reassurance.
“Are you stupid?” Niall yells around a mouthful of food, as they’re sat at their usual table in the canteen, “Really, Haz, I love ya, but there’s more to life then Louis, ok?” Niall has been the only person Harry feels like he can rely on. His family are great, but Gemma’s at Uni and his mum works late hours now, he hasn’t seen Liam or Zayn in months and, of course, there’s the whole Louis thing. But Niall is here. Niall is consistent. Niall is good.
“I know that,” Harry insists, “Look, it’s not as if I’ve become a recluse. I’m doing well in school. I still go out with you once a week. I work at the bakery at weekends. This is just another… hobby, of mine.” Harry speaks as if he’s arguing his case in a court of law. And in some ways he is. He’s definitely being judged and his fate is unknown.
“What? Pining after Louis?” Niall laughs, “You’d think that hobby’d get old after three years.” And Harry blushes at that. He often finds himself wishing he could get over all this. Stop himself thinking about Louis all the time and, mainly, stop acting like a teenage girl with a crush. “Nah, I’m sorry mate,” Niall continues, “You know I’m on your side in this whole mess.”
“Do you think,” Harry starts before stopping himself, “no, nevermind.”
“No, tell me. Pleeeaaase.” Niall bats his lashes at Harry, pouting profusely.
Harry rolls his eyes, but doesn’t comment, “Do you think I should send him something?”
“What, like nude photos or…”
He whacks Niall up-side the head then elaborates, “I was think along the lines of a dignified, sentimental, birthday/Christmas gift.”
Niall snorts, “Like what?”
“I dunno yet,” Harry shrugs, “just, do you think it’s a good idea, you know, in general?”
“Yeah, don’t see why not.” Niall returns his attention to the food he had been so wrongfully ignoring, leaving Harry thinking of the perfect gift for Louis.
Louis wakes up to a crick in his neck and someone standing over his bead. It takes him a while to figure out it’s his housemate Greg, and during the time he’s unaware he has some sort of heart attack.
“What the fuck do you want?” he asks, rolling over to try and return to the wonderful dream he had been having.
“I’m wishing you a happy birthday!” Greg sing-songs, before promptly throwing something at his head, “You’ve got post.”
Louis glares at him, “The least you could’ve done is brought me cake, if you’re gonna wake me up this unceremoniously,” but he turns around to reach the letters and parcels anyway.
“Well, I can make you tea if you like?” Greg offers.
“That would be acceptable,” Louis sighs, and Greg laughs as he heads out of Louis’ room.
Louis sits up tenderly, greatly aware of a series of bruises he received after attempting to demonstrate his table dancing skills, and sets about waking up a bit more before opening his post. He pulls on the first clothes he sees and, when he doesn’t find a comb, simply pulls a beanie over his messy hair. He brushes his teeth, forgoes shaving and spends a worrying amount of time staring at his reflection in the mirror. He looks old is the thing. Mainly because he’s not shaved, but also because he looks tired and stressed. Which would definitely be an accurate description of Louis Tomlinson at the moment. He knows he’s probably imagining it, considering as he’s only just turned nineteen and has had a fairly easy life apart from suffering through maths, but he looks older than he really should. Cheeks hollowed, eyes dulled with dark bags hanging from them. And it’s not as if he looks mature, or like a proper, function adult. He just looks depressed.
Once he gets back from the communal bathrooms, he grabs his post and the tea Greg courteously made him, and sits down at his desk. Three letters and a small parcel.
He opens the first letter, a birthday card from his mum and sisters.
He opens the second, another card, this time from Liam and Zayn promising him that they’ll hang out soon and that he doesn’t look a day over forty.
He opens the third, a letter from his bank. Ignored.
Finally, he opens the parcel. There’s a rectangular shape wrapped in layer of bubble wrap, which’ll be fun if the gift’s shit, and a folded piece of paper. He grabs the paper first and nearly drops it or rips it or screams at the sight of the familiar hand-writing. It’s a very short message, and Louis’ eyes blur as if preventing him from reading it. Postponing the inevitable, more like, as there’s no way he won’t read it.
First of all, please don’t burn this letter. Secondly, please don’t throw away the gift.
I know you hate me, but there’s no way I couldn’t get you a gift for Christmas. And if, by any chance, you happen to feel guilty for not getting me anything, then we’ll call this a birthday present instead (it’s sort of both really) and you’ll have nothing to feel guilty about. (Louis laughs at that, the cheeky bugger.) You have nothing to feel guilty about. (And suddenly Louis doesn’t feel like laughing anymore.)
So, happy birthday, merry Christmas, happy New Year etc.
All my love,
His hands are shaking as he puts down the letter and reaches for the bubble wrap pile. He unravels it slowly, not knowing how fragile the contents may be. Once his solo game of parcel the parcel is over, he stares at the item in his hands, not clear on what it is at first.
It’s a silver picture frame that opens up like a book, storing and displaying two images. On the left is a photo of Louis and Harry from Louis’ tenth birthday party. Louis is dressed up as Peter Pan and Harry is sporting what he supposes is a make-shift male version of what Belle wears (sadly not the beautiful golden ball gown). They both look absolutely ridiculous and thoroughly hyper but happier than Louis remembers being in a long time. The second photo is from only a few years ago, and is strikingly similar. Louis is dressed up as Peter Pan and Harry is by his side, but instead of a kid’s birthday party, it’s the opening night of the play. Louis looks like he’s buzzing, skin charged with sweat, stage lights and applause. He looks alive, and current Louis feels a pang of jealous and longing for that feeling once again. Harry looks like a proud mother, eyes brimming with tears and smiling so widely it looks like it hurts. They’re gripping onto each other tightly, as if letting go would result in their imminent deaths. Written on the glass of the second image, in front of their unbalanced legs, in silver are the words “Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting”, Louis’ favourite quote from Peter Pan, which hits far closer to home then Louis would like. It feels more like plea than just literary prowess. Like it’s Harry’s words carved out in front of him and not J.M. Barrie’s.
The thing is. This is the sweetest present anyone has ever given Louis, with the only other competitors being other gifts Harry gave him. He stares at the curly hair and green eyes watching him from within the frame and all the guilt, shame and regret he had been ignoring rushes back to him in one knockout punch.
But it’s not that he regrets that night with Harry. He could never regret that. He feels guilty for doing that to Harry, taking advantage of him. He’s ashamed with how he acted, how he treated Harry like he was nothing. He regrets leaving Harry. And he misses him with all his heart.
He needs to talk to Harry.
Harry wakes up on New Year’s Eve, just as depressed as he’s been all Christmas, much to his mother’s chagrin. It’s not that his Christmas hasn’t been good. He got good gifts and ate good food and his family have been lovely, but he’s just not feeling the Christmas spirit. He tells his mum that he thinks he’s too old for holiday cheer. Gemma tells him he’s a Grinch.
He’s lying in his bed, string at the ceiling and totally not picturing what Louis looked like above him when he gets a text from Niall.
im havin a party 2night @8 and ur goin or im gonna kill u
Harry rolls his eyes - nice to know youre still feeling festive - he replies.
im serious haz if u dont come over ill drag u there by ur curls
Harry sighs, he knows it’s not exactly an empty threat, as it has happened before, but he just doesn’t feel like going out. He tells Niall as much.
no ur going. end of story gdbye the end
Harry groans, checks the time, 11:00, and curls back up in his sheets.
He blinks and suddenly it’s 15:00, and he sees that Louis posted a picture of him and the large tree in Trafalgar Square on Instagram. He’s with a very tall and very good looking guy who, based on the image’s caption, is called Greg. Harry throws his phone into his pillows in frustration, then follows suit.
The next time he opens his eyes it’s 19:00 and he’s genuinely surprised that his mum and Gemma have let him sleep the whole day.
He pulls on a pair of black skinnies and a loose fitting black tee, his signature black ankle boots and his black trench coat. He likes black, so sue him.
When he gets to Niall’s there’s barely anyone there. Niall greets him as if Harry’s just come back from war then introduces him to his new mate Ed ‘from music’. An hour later and the party’s in full swing, and Harry’s trying not have flash backs of his last party, but so far it’s pretty similar. Particularly when Liam approaches him, in his sober glory, and they have a long conversation about Uni and the bakery and family, and Harry wishes he had spoken to him more when he had the chance.
Once again Zayn comes over, greets him like they were close friends, and not just friends of friends, and proceeds to steal Liam away.
He sits sipping at a beer for a while, sees it’s 23:45 and decided that it’s probably a good idea to leave before midnight and things get really crazy. He finds Niall, tells him as much and knows that is he weren’t as drunk he’d try and stop Harry. But he is, so he doesn’t.
Harry steps out into the empty street and breathes in the tranquility. Absorbs the knowledge that everyone’s busy; with family or friends, going out or staying in and just waiting for the fireworks. And then there’s Harry. Alone in the brisk winter night.
“Where you going, Cinderella?”
Or maybe not alone, as he turns to see a figure sitting on the edge of the pavement. They slowly stand up and turn to face him and Harry feels his heart drop.
Louis smiles at him tentatively. “You’re running away just before midnight, very fairytale.”
Harry should say something, but he’s just staring at the boy in front of him and wondering where his heart has rolled off to. Louis looks different, tired, and his hair is getting incredibly long. But he looks grown-up. In control.
Louis looks suddenly nervous. “And it is New Year’s Eve, midnight is kind of the point of the party,” he laughs uneasily. Louis stands there staring at him, and Harry stares right back, feeling like he’s turned to ice.
He finally starts to thaw and speaks what he’s been trying to for the past five minutes, “I’m dreaming. I must have drunk more than I thought and I’m currently passed out on Niall’s kitchen floor.”
Louis giggles, actually giggles, and beams at him. “God, I missed you.”
And then the snow the country’s been waiting on all winter starts to fall, and Harry thinks it's all very ironic.
Harry physically shakes himself. “What are you doing here?” he demands.
“I’ve come to take you to Neverland,” Louis whispers in awe, like it’s a secret.
Harry turns away from him, suddenly sheepish. “You got my gift.”
Louis shrugs. “Yeah.”
He hears Louis step closer to him, sees his shadow edge across the pavement, “Don’t be ashamed, Harry. It’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for me.” Harry still says nothing, so Louis adds for good measure, “I love it. Thank you.”
Harry finally turns back to meet his gaze. “You're welcome,” he breathes so quietly he’s not sure if Louis heard him, but he knows he did when he sighs in relief.
Louis makes his way towards him, arms outstretched, and Harry wants to feel and hold and touch, but he won’t let himself give in so easily. “I’m still mad at you.”
Louis recoils his hands as if they’ve been burned, stopping in his tracks, “I know.” Louis studies him carefully, eyes challenging, “Are you gonna run away?”
Harry shakes his head, “No, you’re the one that always runs away, Louis, not me.” Louis bows his head in shame and Harry can’t bear to see him like this, “I’d wait a thousand years for you.” And Louis is looking at him so fondly, Harry thinks he’ll melt from the heat of his gaze.
“You deserve an explanation.” Louis says, strong. Resolute.
Harry nods, “Yes, I do.” Louis nods too, but says nothing, “Well?” Harry presses, “I’m listening.”
Louis startles, blushing, “Oh. Right.” He clears his throat, biding his time and checking that Harry isn’t about to run off before he starts. “I’m so sorry about how I treated you, Harry. You’re my best friend and I shouldn’t have done that to you. But I want you to know that I don’t regret what we did either. I think a part of me had been waiting to do that for a long time.”
Harry knows he should stay silent and let Louis speak, but he has to be sure of what Louis’ saying, “Don’t be vague, Louis, please just. Say it?”
Louis nods then takes a deep breath and admits, “I wanted to kiss you and hold you. And that scared the shit out of me. And so while I was with Eleanor she was what I focused on. But I think she knew something was up and when she ended it, I was lost.” And yes, Harry remembers it well. “And then you were there. All sweet and understanding and lovely and I was drunk and I took advantage of you, I shouldn’t’ve done that.”
“I wanted to, Lou,” Harry insists, “don’t think you did anything against my will, because you didn’t.” The last thing Harry wants is for Louis to feel guilty about that. Preferably, Harry wants to repeat the actions of that night.
Louis shakes his head, “I just feel like you deserved better.” And Harry’s about to protest when he continues, “Especially for your first time, I mean, fuck, Haz.”
They’ve been slowly gravitating towards each other, like two magnets or one soul in two pieces that longs to be whole again. They simply stand there for a while, their fingers turning numb because of the snow, but neither caring. The only sounds they hear is the music from inside and distant traffic. They feel isolated. Invincible.
Then a thought occurs to Harry. “But,” he begins, “if you wanted me too, then why did you ignore me?”
Louis sighs, “I was moving to London, Haz. I have moved to London,” he corrects, “and I’ve got this new life and I-”
“Don’t want me anymore,” Harry finishes for him, but Louis shakes his head.
“No, Harry, that’s not it, I promise.” And Louis is so close now Harry can feel the warmth radiating off him. “I didn’t want to, I dunno, be with you and then leave you as I ran off to London. I wanted you to be free to live your life regardless of an old friend halfway across the country.” He says it wistfully, and it occurs to Harry that Louis thought Harry’d forget him. “And I was so scared, Harry, really. I couldn’t breathe with the fear of it all closing in on me.” And Louis looks so small in that minute, so young and lost and Harry is remind of the ‘going away’ party again, everything too similar, the only difference being the snow swirling around them.
“What are you afraid of?” Harry murmurs, unsure if it’s a question he’s allowed to ask.
And Louis seems unsure too, hesitating and thinking carefully before speaking, “Of letting my family down, of London, of Uni, of leaving you, or not leaving you. Of wanting you.”
And Harry understands, of course he does. And he forgives him, of course he does. But he still doesn’t get why Louis is here now. He asks Louis as much and he blinks at him like the question hadn’t occurred to him. As if he got on that train to come here without so much as knowing why.
When he’s decided on his answer he speaks, slowly, “Because I’m not afraid anymore. Because, if you can find it in your heart to forgive me, I want you,” he says, stronger, surer, “Because I- I.”
It starts to snow heavier now as Louis cuts himself off, the white specks almost obstructing Harry’s vision, but Louis is so bright he shines through. He smiles at Harry, small and sweet and serene.
“Because I love you, Haz.”
And Harry can no longer stop himself from reaching out and touching, pulling Louis into a tight, long awaited, hug. He wraps his arms around Louis’ waist, burying his nose in the crook of Louis’ neck as Louis' arms wind around his shoulders, a hand tangling itself in Harry’s hair. They stand there, wrapped in a blanket of white. Despite Harry being considerably taller than Louis, he finds himself being held by the older lad, leaning down to compensate for their height difference and not caring how ridiculous they must look.
“I’m sorry,” Louis whispers, hot tears falling down his face and soaking Harry’s shirt, contrasting with the cold night air, “I’m sorry it took me so long to realise, but I do love you, Harry. I think I always have.”
Harry pulls away just enough to look Louis in the eyes, blue meeting green, as he says, “I love you, too.”
They study each other, eyes taking in every detail of the other’s face after long months apart. They’re wearing matching grins, bright and wide and just for the other. They know the hardship’s far from over. Louis still lives in London. Harry’s stuck here. But now they both know they’re willing to fight for it. Suddenly, they hear the collective voices of everyone inside Niall’s house starting the count down.
The snow rushes around them, cocooning them from the outside world. It dances in the darkness and cascades down upon them, perching itself on their hair, clothes, eyelashes.
Louis reminds Harry of the snow.
He’s beautiful and delicate and unique and overpowering and he can be cold and harsh, but he’s Harry’s favourite thing in the whole entire world. Much like the snow.
Louis is playful like snowball fights as the sun sets behind silver trees, refreshing like the winter chill on a late night stroll, and free spirited like the tumbling, spinning, uncontrollable snowfall that cascades down and covers the Earth with no escape.
Sometimes he’s as small and lost as a single snowflake and other times he’s as frantic and chilling as a blizzard. But Harry wouldn’t have it any other way.
Louis is radiant. He’s ethereal, breathtaking, so many things. He’s so beautiful no mere words can describe him well enough.
Louis makes Harry feel beautiful too. Harry tells him as much. Louis laughs.
Louis’ arms wind around Harry’s waist pulling him tightly against him, no space between them, “For warmth,” Louis promises, smirking.
Harry brings his cold hands up to cup Louis’ jaw feeling his heated skin beneath his fingertips, warming him from the inside out. He leans in until their noses are touching, eyelashes dancing on each other’s cheek.
They meet halfway, lips pressing together in a sweet chaste peck, as they hear excited yells from inside and fireworks in the distance. Then they pull each other closer, open their mouths and kiss as if their lives depend on it. Like it’s their oxygen. Their drug. Like they’re making up for all the time they’ve wasted. Savoring it for when they’ll have to part. But they don’t dwell on that now. For now there are fingers in hair, pulling and twisting, hands caressing every inch of clothed skin, moans of pleasure and sighs of joy. The world can wait.
They stand there for minutes or hours, the first minutes or hours of the New Year, holding each other, whispering ‘I Love You’s between presses of lips as the snow continues to fall.
Harry wakes up early on a Sunday morning when he’s eighteen, in his own tiny flat, in his own tiny bed with the tiny body of the boy he loves and who loves him back tucked into his side. And it’s snowing.