Actions

Work Header

Larry Stylinson One-Shots

Chapter Text

Stadiums. That still didn't seem right, it had only been five years since he had been working part time in a bakery to make some extra cash. Yet now all of these years later he was on stage at the iconic Wembley Stadium in London in front of sixty thousand screaming fans. Harry loved the job, it was pretty obvious and so did the other boys. Things had changed massively for them but somehow they were all stronger.

Or so everyone thought.

Behind the scenes there was a lot going on and there were two people in the centre of it all. A disgusting tragic story of lost love, secret relationships, and plenty of fights. Harry Styles may only be twenty-two but his life was incredible- well from the outside anyway. Nobody knew but Harry and another boy whom was only a few metres away from him right now. He can't even think of his name without getting choked up. He can't even look at him without imagining the older boy on top of him softly rocking into him whilst whispering sweet nothings into his ear to distract him from the burn.

He can feel his eyes begin to tear up but he plays it off by pretending to have an eyelash stuck in his eye. It has become an even bigger excuse recently and fortunately everyone fell for it. On stage Harry was as happy as he could possibly be in his seriously messed up personal life that is constantly scrutinised by press and just everyone in general. Nobody ever sees the real him, nobody knows the real him except a certain boy with cerulean blue eyes.

Once again, a familiar burn ached in the centre of his ribcage- a burn he knew well. A lot of people simply assume that heartbreak is only an imagined feeling- the brain tricking the body into thinking it is in physical pain but Harry knows differently. For him heartache is a real thing and it is something he has been feeling since it all began to go downhill. He shook his head lightly and once again played it off as flicking his long hair out of his face because he knew people would believe it. When Harry says that things are wonderful his normal cheery mood fools everyone.

Also, when he says that no one knows just what he is going through, he means it. Liam doesn't know, Niall doesn't know and even Zayn doesn't know even though they haven't spoken for quite a while after a big fight away from cameras. Despite the visible tension though, Harry still loves Zayn like a brother and he wants to make up with him. Now Harry is getting more upset but he ignores it again and sings with as much force as he can muster. He can hear what seems like one very loud single scream instead of thousands of individual screams and he tries his best to ignore some of the banners that fans are holding up that consist of a rainbow flag.

He already had a constant reminder of what once was, what could be now if it didn't all go to shams.

He can't even tell you when it first happened, one day it just did and it was a secret from everyone but themselves. The song finished soon after when Liam decided to do something simply for old times' sake because he knew that the fans miss the stupid things they used to do. So the screens at the back that usually showed the four boys turned into screenshots of twitter questions and the scream got even louder if that was even possible. A tiny smile formed on Harry's face now, he did miss this and he couldn't deny that on stage he was as happy as he could be even though his whole body ached at seeing the one person who completely shattered his heart and didn't care.

Of course no one knew this, everyone just simply assumed that they had grown apart because Harry matured a lot whereas Louis still seemed hell bent on staying as young as possible and for living in the moment. A small sob came from his mouth as he thought the name but it was drowned out from the scream of the fans echoing around the giant stadium. For the next ten minutes they answered questions that were all either weird or very well thought out. A few laughs were shared but none stood out quite so much as the boy with caramel coloured hair, well this was until the final question appeared and just like that the scream stopped and a few collective gasps were heard.

"What really is the truth behind the Larry fallout?"

It was Niall who read the question out loud and Harry bit his lip for what he knew was going to come. Every time the question got asked it happened yet somehow Harry still held on to the extremely tiny hope he had that one day it wouldn't happen. It was only now that he chanced a look at the boy whom he had noticeably been avoiding the whole concert as much as he could help it to see his face was beet red with anger and his nostrils were flaring. Even though he knew it was coming, it still stung every time it happened;

"Stop fucking asking bullshit! It is all of these secret relationship rumours that destroyed our friendship so nice of you to remind us!"

That collective hush continued until the next song kicked in and soon the scream reappeared. Despite hearing pretty much the exact same sentence hundreds of times by now every time those words left Louis' thin yet defined lips was like another knife slicing through his already broken heart. If only people knew that for almost three years, it wasn't just fantasy- it was reality. Yes, that's correct. Larry Stylinson used to be a thing and Harry stupidly believed the older boy when he said that he was the one for him. Instead Louis had earned a place in the younger boy's heart that the other boys didn't hold and then slowly tore the muscle that kept him alive out and ripped it into millions of tiny pieces. Millions of tiny pieces that had never been repaired.

Now there was a strong tension on stage surrounding Harry which was emanating from the still fuming oldest bandmate but he had learned to not think about it. If he thought too much into it, he would only end up thinking more of the possible outcomes if it didn't end the way it did between them. Harry tugged on the sleeves of his brightly patterned shirt as he felt his wrists beginning to itch. It wasn't a new sensation, recently it has been happening more often even though it is also a secret. Nobody could know what lay underneath his shirt, they would only recoil in horror at the scars.

The final thirty minutes of the concert seemed to drag by and despite pretending that everything was alright as usual he really wasn't alright. Inside Harry's heart was breaking once again- it always did when questions over their friendship arose. Harry understands that the fans just want to know what happened but Louis is just determined to not speak about it. This is what caused the inevitable fight that caused Harry to pack up his belongings in what was their shared flat and leave in a fit of rage. It was the next morning they called time on their relationship and that had been two years ago.

That may seem like a very long time but love does that to someone. Despite his reputation, Louis was and is the only person he has ever had sex with despite the elder always saying that they were making love. In his words exactly sex just seemed meaningless and sounded like a onetime thing. So many people assume that Harry sleeps around and it even got to the point that his own dad called him out on his 'womanising'. If only he knew.

They never even told their families that they were ever together, they really did keep it a secret and to an extent this might be why it all fell apart. Harry can't even look Louis in the eye anymore without feeling his heart ripping apart once again. The boys soon left the stage and were heading back to their dressing rooms for a quick change of clothes as their stage ones were covered in a thin sheen of sweat but the tension was still there. Well, maybe it was only between the two ex-lovers. Louis was muttering underneath his breath and each word only cut into Harry more like glass.

Disgusting.

I'm happy, why won't people accept that.

It's bullshit.

It's the rumours faults.

Eventually Harry walked out of the room because now it wasn't just his wrists that were itching, his whole body was. He walked into the bathroom near the room and slowly unbuttoned his shirt to see what he had become over the last two years. It was no secret that Harry used to love being naked and he made sure everyone knew this. It was no secret that Harry was working out hard to try and gain some muscle.

That wasn't there anymore.

The reflection in the mirror showed the complete opposite of that. Instead of muscles, Harry's bones were sticking out underneath his skin. Nobody ever saw this anymore, he always refused to take his top off. His fingers trailed over his laurel tattoos but instead of smooth skin under his fingertips was numerous scars that the black ink hid to perfection. They were everywhere- the scars that is.

The first time it happened was an accident. It had been a year ago and the two of them were fighting again when Louis roughly shoved the younger boy into a glass table. It wasn't meant to hurt him in any way but the glass shattered and some of the shards cut into Harry's heavily inked skin. Just like that all of Harry's thoughts of Louis disappeared along with the never ending ache in his chest. After that, each time they had a fight led to another fresh cut on Harry's skin. Legs, chest, arms and even some on his back.

It was like someone had given a young kid a red marker and was told to draw all over the paper except the paper was Harry's skin. A lot of them were hidden underneath his tattoos. He chose them all specifically so no one could see underneath and considering he already had a fair collection of body art before all of this happened it wasn't suspicious in any way. If anyone looked close enough they would see just how much the youngest was hurting on the inside and the outside. A small knock on the door caught his attention and he quickly pulled on another shirt as a thick Irish accent rung through the hall asking him if he was done.

He took in his appearance once again but he wished he hadn't. His considerate weight loss was beginning to show on his face. His cheeks had sunk in and his jawline stuck out in a way it shouldn't. His eyes lacked that playful look that they used to always hold. He just looked exhausted both mentally and physically. Harry opened the door and stepped outside to let the bubbly guy inside to change as well. As he walked down the corridor though he heard a voice he knew so well. It was a voice that used to make his knees knock together and caused his heart to speed up. Used to. Now it only caused him a great amount of sadness.

"Hi gorgeous, what do you say to dinner tomorrow night?"

Instantly Harry threw the back of his hand to his mouth whilst trying to fight back tears as recognition dawned on him. Of course it was her, it couldn't be anyone else. Don't get him wrong here, because Harry doesn't hate Eleanor. He can't hate her if she doesn't know anything. This is what caused even more fights between Harry and Louis because despite feeling horribly betrayed he knew it was wrong of Louis to do what he was doing.

To put it simply, Eleanor was a beard. At least she was at first. After around nine months of dating, the pair of them made the stupid mistake of telling their management assuming they would be allowed to come out. Instead Louis was forced to get a beard but had managed to convince them to choose his own 'girlfriend'. Harry knew Eleanor through mutual friends and introduced them. He had expected Louis to tell her that it was fake, but he didn't- she genuinely believed their relationship was real. Unfortunately for Harry that fake relationship shifted into a real relationship and he has even overheard them talking about marriage previously.

He knew it was probably wrong to listen in to their conversation but he just couldn't stop himself. Louis' voice still sent shivers running up his spine and caused a light fluttering feeling. It used to be him on the receiving end of phone calls like this. Harry was really disgusted by his refusal to tell his girlfriend the truth, it was wrong of him to keep something like that hidden from her. There have been times when Harry has been hanging out with Eleanor and he has felt like just spilling everything but it wouldn't end up well. Either she would call him a liar and continue to date Louis or she would believe him but his already non-existent friendship with Louis would be damaged so much that they would never be able to go back to how they were.

If Eleanor does ever get told the entire picture, it needs to be Louis that tells her unless she finds out on accident.

Despite feeling immense levels of jealousy because she is in a sense replacing him (despite her not knowing), she was still a close friend of his. It was one of Harry's old friends at school that they met through. Not long after X-Factor ended, Harry had gone to this friend's union on campus to catch up. Eleanor didn't recognise him, she never tended to watch reality television so Harry knew that she genuinely wanted to get to know him for him. They had swapped numbers that night and had kept in touch since.

Suddenly aware that he was still listening in on their conversation he reluctantly walked down the corridor and began making his way to the back entrance where his car was parked. Since they were playing in London tonight, they didn't see the point in travelling in their tour bus so they drove here separately. He could hear the screams of the fans at the gates who were waiting to see if they could get even a tiny glimpse at their idols but right now Harry didn't want that. He doesn't want people seeing just how much of a mess he is now.

It's only been just over a year that he began 'expressing' his feelings even though these weren't his actual feelings through what he wore. It tricked people perfectly. His out-there sense of fashion made people automatically assume that he didn't care what people thought of him but that wasn't the case. It was a vicious cycle with him. He would be hurt all day from hearing these rumours- especially since they weren't just rumours for almost three years- and there would always be hate sent to him on twitter. The boys didn't know that Harry never broke his habit of reading negative comments. His grip tightened slightly on the cool leather of the steering wheel as he drove back to his house.

How did his life turn out like this? Fame was supposed to be an amazing thing to experience and singing was something he always wanted to do in his life. However, Harry was a broken mess and his life was in even bigger shambles. He does love the job; he really does but it is one specific person ruining everything for him. Why must Louis always make it out like the rumours only affect him? It is always him moaning about how people can't accept that he is happy and nothing else. The rumours affected Harry a lot worse than they did him. After all, it was Harry that was being faced with a constant reminder of something that Harry desperately wants back.

He wants to be able to talk to Louis like before. He wants to be able to joke with Louis like before. He wants to annoy him like he did before. He wants to play pranks with him like before. He wants to hold him like he did before. He wants to kiss him like he did before. He wants Louis to love him like he did before.

It won't ever happen though; Louis is far too stubborn a person to think outside the box to see the bigger picture. The oldest needs to stop thinking about himself so highly and like he is the only person affected. Liam has tried to knock sense into him before but it only ended in him throwing the biggest hissy fit and none of the boys have tried to get through to him since. The thing is, he thinks the rumours are affecting Eleanor but that isn't the truth. She laughs them off and finds it quite comical actually but Louis is just dead set on the stupid assumption that they are affecting his relationship.

His relationship. Not their previous failed relationship. Harry suffers in silence when he is hurting and after so long he has learned to just ignore everything going on around him. He is the one hurting and not Louis, Louis is simply in denial and is too far caught up in a lie to do anything about it. It is only now that Harry realises he is crying but he doesn't bother wiping his tears despite them obscuring his vision slightly as he drove- he was only two blocks away from his house anyway. Deathly silence surrounded as he walked inside, reminding him of just how lonely he actually is. He's holding this huge secret from everyone and his past lover just denies everything that ever happened.

Did he ever mean it when he told Harry he loved him? Did he ever mean it when he kissed him passionately? Did he ever mean it when they were making love? If he ever did it sure didn't feel like it.

Love is supposed to be an incredible thing to experience, yet for him it is the worst thing he has ever experienced. He doesn't regret his relationship with Louis at all, the only thing he regrets was being so naïve to think that their management would just allow them to come out. Now the majority of people in the world believe that he is a whore who uses women like tools. He won't lie, he is attracted to women but he has never gotten any farther than kissing a woman. Louis was his first everything really.

Yes, he had his first kiss when he was around twelve years old but he had no idea what it was he was doing and it was extremely awkward. Then again though, almost all people's first kisses are awkward. Louis was and is the only person he has ever gone farther with when it comes to affection. They were together for almost three years but over two years of it was filled with lies. At first Louis was horrified with what he was being forced to do but he knew there was no way out of it because he was under a multi-million-pound contract.

For a few months the eldest hated being near Eleanor. He didn't hate her as a person because he did like her personality wise but his heart belonged to Harry- or so Harry thought. The first time that Harry found out that he had taken her out despite not being forced to by management was the first dagger in his heart. This happened more and more until it eventually got the point that they hardly talked to one another never mind anything else. It hurt him a lot. The first time he walked in on them doing things that was more than a single kiss was when he snapped at Louis because he didn't want his friend to become the awkward third wheeler in the seriously fucked up situation that their relationship was.

After a long and exhausting argument, Louis finally admitted to the one thing that Harry feared most. He had fallen in love with Eleanor throughout it all.

This was when the inevitable fight happened, once he had admitted that despite being heartbroken at hearing those words- he wanted Louis to be happy and if that meant being with Eleanor he would support it. Harry already assumed that Eleanor knew the whole thing and he was planning on telling his friend that she wouldn't need to act as a beard anymore but Louis stopped him. That was when he realised that he was not only lying to him, he was lying to someone he was very close with which meant Harry also lied to Eleanor. Lying is one of the things he hates the most. That memory was possibly the worst he has with his ex-lover which is saying something since Louis did shove him into a glass table once.

---

Drama surrounded them everywhere they went, it wasn't anything new. Being a member of the biggest band in the world shoved them all into a life that meant they had almost no time alone anymore. At times this can get annoying- for two members in particular who need the time alone it was even more annoying. Everyone needs time just to themselves occasionally but when no one else knows what is really going on the alone time is desperately needed. Harry was expecting Louis to come home that night to their shared flat after going out for dinner with his family so he had set everything up.

Multiple movies, silly board games and he blushed inwardly at feeling the small foil wrapper in his back pocket. It had been a long time since they had last done anything and to put it lightly, Harry was growing desperate to feel Louis again. They barely even kiss now and he should have saw the signs. The younger boy sat on his laptop scrolling through his twitter feed when a certain picture caught his attention. It was on an update account and he clicked it just to make sure his eyes weren't playing tricks on him- he hoped they were. He read the tweet along with the picture and just then his heart broke on the spot.

Louis and Eleanor had a romantic dinner tonight!

This couldn't be happening, not again. That is right, this was happening more often and it explained why Louis had been so distant the last couple of months. Just to make sure he picked up his phone and called Johanna since Louis had told him he was with her. However, the older woman was shocked when Harry told her this and she shakily replied that she was still in Doncaster with all the kids. Harry wanted to believe Louis, he wanted to forgive him but this was the last straw. It was only when he hung up that he let the tears fall. He wasn't sure how long he had been crying for but his head snapped up when he heard the jingling of keys in the door.

He can't take this anymore, he can't take all the lying and the hurt. He can't be deceived again; it has to end. Harry never thought that it would happen, always thought that they were forever. The only reason he knew that Louis wasn't being forced out with her by management was because he had a schedule of the times that they were forced out together. They weren't due to go for a 'date' until Saturday and it was only Tuesday. So he stood up and walked to the door and leaned against the frame. Soon the door opened and in walked Louis, it wasn't difficult to tell he had been drinking as his balance was slightly off.

"Where were you?"

His tone was dark and held no emotion at all. At first Louis seemed to just ignore him as he proceeded to remove his expensive leather jacket and his black vans from his feet before giving Harry a wide grin. It faltered though as he saw the dry tear stains on the younger's cheeks and he remembered the question.

"I was out with my mum, Dan and the siblings. I told you that already Harry."

The words flew effortlessly out of his mouth which only hurt Harry more and he was furious at his friend. How could she do this to him yet act like nothing was strange? For fuck sake, she was a beard and not Louis' girlfriend. Louis was in a relationship with Harry and a very serious one at that. The worst thing though? Louis is a terrible liar and since those words fell from his lips without a single stutter or waver or hesitation told Harry this wasn't the first time he had lied about this to him. He was already aware of at least three other times but his excuse was simply that he wanted to make it seem more believable. Louis stepped forward and reached his arms out to pull Harry into a hug but he shied out of it.

"You're lying."

It scared the older boy just how low and deadly his voice was. He has heard him angry before but that was nothing compared to this. His voice cracked slightly at the end and his eyes filled up with more tears as he stared at Louis. He used to look at him with insane amounts of love yet now he only looked at him with impossible levels of disgust.

"No I'm not Harry-"

He didn't get the chance to finish his sentence because soon Harry had broken;

"Yes you are Louis! Tell me then how when I was on twitter there is pictures of you with her on a 'romantic date'? How come there are paparazzi pictures of it? How come I can smell her perfume on you? How come when I called your mum to ask what time you would be home she replied that she was still in Doncaster with the kids?!"

He knew he had been caught, how stupid could he be? Now that he was paying attention he could still smell the flowery scent of Eleanor's perfume on him although it was faint. How could he have been so stupid as to risk another date with her knowing that there would be paparazzi pictures and knowing Harry was on twitter a lot? Why did he make the stupid decision of bringing his family into this because now his mum is going to ask him questions and he doesn't want to answer them? Harry was still crying now yet Louis was refusing to look him in the eye out of shame and also because he hated seeing the pain he was putting him through.

"Just tell me the truth Louis, nothing but the truth. I can't take any more lies."

His voice was no longer so dark sounding, but that was replaced with the pain Harry was now feeling. He was stuttering and he continued to look at Louis who was staring at his feet. He could see the shame on Louis' face but it wasn't shameful for lying- Harry could see that now. He was only shameful at being caught lying once more. What made it worse was before he left he had kissed him deeply and had whispered 'I love you Harry' before he left to go to a family dinner which didn't even happen. Shakily, Louis looked him in the eye before diverting his gaze elsewhere not being able to think properly with his heartbroken face.

"I don't know when it happened Harry, I'm so sorry!"

Now, his heart really did break apart. It was only a few words but just then Harry's entire world crashed down. He didn't need to hear the confirmation; he could see it on his face. Now he has to be realistic, things like this happen occasionally and he didn't want things to be awkward between them all not just because of the band but because of their friendship. Harry didn't want to lose Louis and if that meant calling time on their almost three-year long relationship so he could be happy he had to do it.

"You've fallen in love with her haven't you?"

Louis bit his lip and nodded slightly. Ignoring the unimaginable amount of agony that was tearing through his body he pulled him in for a tight hug, tears still pooling in his eyes. This was it, it wasn't fair on either of them to continue this seemingly never ending game of cat and mouse. All of the lies have finally came to a stop and just like that their story of love had ended. Heartbreak is a horrible thing and to an extent both of them are in a sense of denial over it even though they know that they can't go on sneaking around like they have been the whole time. They wanted the best for each other.

"Do you want to tell Eleanor or shall I?"

Suddenly, Louis froze in Harry's grasp and the younger looked at him in confusion. That hurt look on his face was enough to tell him something else and now he felt violently sick. He can take someone he cares about lying to him over something but someone he cares about lying to someone else he cares about is just one step too far over that fine line.

"You never fucking told her did you?!"

Louis flinched a little and was about to retort back but Harry had beaten him to it;

"Oh my fucking god Louis! How could you do something like that? Why would you lead on a close friend of mine from before it all went crazy with us career wise, let her believe you had genuine feelings for her right from the very start, let her fall in love with you yet not tell her?! Did I ever mean anything to you or have I also been a little game to you?!"

Now tears were falling even faster but not sad tears, these tears were full of anger and absolutely no other emotion. How could he be so heartless as to do something like that? Harry felt disgusted at secretly blaming Eleanor for getting in between everything because now he knows that she had no idea. She didn't know she was a beard- at first anyway. It wasn't long until verbal poison was falling from the older boy's thin lips the second Harry said that he needed to tell her. It was obvious that he was only thinking about his own reputation and not caring about how much he is hurting Harry by forcing him in the middle or caring about how Eleanor will feel when she finally gets told.

Two hours. That was how long the very explosive argument lasted and it only stopped when the back of a hand flew across Harry's cheek. He had just stood there stunned before running into his bedroom, pulling out his suitcases before packing all of his belongings. He sent a message to Niall to prepare the spare bedroom for him and that night he left and didn't go back to their shared flat.

---

A small sting on his arm brought him out of his thoughts. Harry tended to do this a lot, space out so much that he didn't know what he was doing, a bit like he was sleepwalking. He had soon noticed that he was in his bedroom and he could feel a thin piece of metal held between his thumb and index finger, the coolness of the blade drastically different to the humidity inside the room. He was still crying, it seemed as though it was the only thing he had been doing recently. Yes, it is wrong what he is doing to himself but he has yet to find another way to help him cope with the pain.

It also didn't help that he was alone when dealing with this amount of pain.

He was vaguely aware of his phone dinging with numerous text messages but he didn't want to look because he knew what they were already. The other boys had been talking about going to a club tonight since they had a couple of days off but he hadn't said anything. He knew they were getting suspicious of his strange behaviour especially over the last year- well he doubted Louis knew because he was way too up himself to admit to what he is doing is wrong and try to put things right.

Gently, he pressed the sharp edge of the blade against his left arm once again right next to where the corner of his anchor tattoo ended since it was on one side. He's already made two cuts, the sight and scent of the blood not affecting him anymore. When he started cutting he didn't ever think he would get addicted to feeling metal tearing open his skin and feeling blood- his blood- spilling from the wound. Now he can hardly go a day without doing it and this led to him getting even more tattoos to cover the pale scars that littered almost every part of his skin.

He bit his lip a little before pressing the metal further and slid it a couple of centimetres across. A small hiss of pain escaped his mouth but that soon disappeared and he was once again in a state of oblivion. Harry carried on this pattern until he reached seven cuts on his arm, all hidden by black ink. The only person who ever saw the scars was his go-to tattoo artist and he swore the man to secrecy over everything. His stomach rumbled in protest now but he couldn't eat, he hasn't eaten an actual meal in months without purging it back up.

It was only a month ago that he was diagnosed with bulimia and surprise, surprise no one knew about it.

Whenever they went out for food together he would always come up with some logical excuse to go to the bathroom before throwing it all back up. It hurt to do it, it really did but he felt at times that he needed to be punished for everything. By now his cuts had long since stopped bleeding and that crippling pain was back. How did he get himself into a mess such as this? Oh yeah, because he's still completely in love with Louis and Louis is in love with Harry's close friend who doesn't know that she was originally just a cover up of Larry Stylinson.

Maybe he should just man up and tell her everything although he already knew he wasn't going to do that. He didn't want to see her end up with a broken heart and Louis would only resent him even more than he already did. It wasn't long after the last big fight they had that they stopped talking to each other and like most of the time, Louis is refusing to believe he is partially at fault and blames it solely on the rumours. This is what really annoys Harry about him. Louis is intentionally insulting fans by denying everything, saying it was all the rumours that destroyed their 'friendship'.

That is what was bullshit about this mess. Louis' thought process that is. If it wasn't for him lying to Eleanor, she wouldn't be in this fake happiness. If it wasn't for Louis lying to Harry about everything they would still be friends. Yes, he is also at fault as well but the majority of the fault is Louis'. He just knew that this wasn't going to get any better but he can't bring himself to quit a job he absolutely loves and worked really hard for. So what he took the easy route by going on a television show but he was only sixteen years old and had no idea how the industry worked at the time. All of this pretending was also a lot of work.

He just hoped that one day he wouldn't be so deep in his current state of mind and would somehow escape it some way. Preferably without more hearts broken in the process.

---

It was a good thing that their tour had finished, but this didn't mean that they weren't working. Right now they were in Los Angeles to lay down the vocals to a song and they were all annoyingly waiting on Louis. They had already recorded all of their solos but yet he still hadn't turned up. All three of them had tried calling him numerous times but he had his phone switched off and it was really beginning to piss them off. This had been going on for a few days now so he couldn't just blame it on simply sleeping in or forgetting there was a session today.

Harry had a feeling though why he was ignoring them all, he had been since last week after another explosive argument which consisted of Harry telling Louis to just shut up for once on the Larry stuff because now it was beginning to affect Eleanor. Not the rumours, the fact that Louis kept putting her in front of his closest friends. She couldn't deny that it felt amazing that he was standing up for her but she understood the brother code and he was breaking it. Now she was beginning to feel responsible for something she had absolutely no control over.

Instead of going to a hotel, they had all decided to just stay in Harry's house, it was nice to have a bit of familiarity in their hectic lives. Luckily, he had a gated entrance that required a passcode so no one could get inside so they were more or less free to do whatever they wanted to do. It was nice to have them all around, but Harry's arms and legs were itching more to be tore open again but he couldn't risk them knowing. He had already gone three days without giving himself a fresh cut. That day they had all been sitting in a circle playing a good old fashioned game of truth or dare when Louis answered his phone. Soon he stood up and walked into the hallway out of earshot but they knew that it was Eleanor who called him, he always kept away from the boys when speaking to her so his behaviour wasn't strange.

All knowing that he had been missing his girlfriend, they continued their game but they soon stopped when they heard his thunderous voice echoing into the room. Liam looked at both Harry and Niall with a strange look because not once have they ever heard Louis really yell at her. They listened for a bit to try and figure out what their fight was about but they soon heard an annoyed grunt before Louis stomped back into the room, proceeded to remove a cigarette from his pocket and bring it to his lips. Despite Harry absolutely despising the habit and despising everything that Louis was doing he still cared for him so he simply asked;

"Relationship troubles?"

It was only a very simple question but it was what Louis said after that which silenced everyone in the room out of pure outrage;

"Like you would know what relationship struggles are like, all you do is whore around."

Just like that, Harry's already shattered heart broke apart more and he stood up and ran outside, grabbing his coat and jumping into his car. The worst thing about it? Louis didn't even look like he cared that he had just made Harry flee his own house in tears. Niall was stood completely stock still as if trying to process what his bandmate had just said to Harry; he had obviously said that because he knew that it would affect him. It is no secret that Harry hates the womaniser persona he was forced to keep up and Niall knew that Harry had never slept with any of them women in question.

"Honestly Louis, what the fuck is your problem?!"

It was Liam who said it and when Niall finally came out of his trail of thoughts he saw that he had pinned the eldest to the wall and was giving him the harshest glare he had ever seen. This was the final straw for Liam, he knew it. Over the last couple of years, he has noticed that Harry and Louis had obviously fallen out but they never elaborated. Harry just kept quiet on it all and Louis was just a stubborn arse who needed to get some serious sense whacked into him.

How did it end up like this? They used to be so close and now they were all slowly breaking apart the longer this went on. Louis still wasn't even flinching but neither was Liam.

"Get off of your fucking high horse Tomlinson. You are only thinking about yourself and not about anyone else. So what you are having relationship struggles but that doesn't mean you take it out on anyone. Plus, you know fine well that Harry doesn't 'whore around' as you just so boldly put it- this is forced on him by management trying to sell us out. I don't know what happened to the two of you but stop blaming everything on Harry, the fans, those rumours and just grow up for fuck sake!"

Liam loosened his grip and gave him a filthier look before storming out of the house, Niall following close behind in disgust at what Louis had just said. They had no idea where Harry went but they knew they had to find him. They both jumped into Niall's rental and drove around the city, searching all of Harry's favourite spots of Los Angeles in the hopes they would find him. After almost half an hour later they still had no luck. They were about to give up when Liam's phone rang and a name flashed on the screen. The only reason they hadn't tried to call Harry was because his phone was charging in the living room before he fled.

"Hi Zayn."

He put the phone onto loudspeaker so Niall could hear as well. They didn't get to speak to him as much considering he was now doing his own thing and they were really busy themselves.

"What is wrong with Harry? He's just came by mine in floods of tears."

They could hear the concern in his voice and Liam was a bit shocked that Harry had gone to Zayn's place. They hadn't talked for a while since they had a big fight almost a year ago but then again, he was possibly the best listener out of them all. It used to be Louis but right now they didn't even want to be in close proximity with the oldest. Niall replied that they would be there as soon as they could and they would explain everything. Both were still furious at that single comment, he had absolutely no right to say something as despicable as that when it wasn't the truth. Soon, they had pulled up at their ex-bandmates large house and walked inside since he was expecting them. What they walked in on was possibly the most heart breaking thing they had ever seen, Harry curled up on the couch, tear stains completely covering his face as he slept. Zayn was just looking at him with a really upset look at seeing his brother like this;

"He cried himself to sleep, what happened for him to react like this?"

Niall had his hand covering his mouth as he stared at the scene, now that he was really looking at Harry he noticed just how ill he actually looked. He had always had a very slender body but he was now just plain skinny and not in a nice way. His jawline had always been really pronounced but now it stuck out at an awkward angle and now that he thinks about it- he hasn't even seen him really smile in months. He gently knelt down beside him and tucked some strands of his long chestnut hair behind his ear trying not to wince at seeing his sunken facial features. How had he not noticed before?

"Louis is a right prick that is what."

Niall's head snapped up at hearing those words and suddenly he no longer felt sad. He felt angry, really angry at the ignorance of the statement that came from someone they thought was just goofy. He had said it so seriously like he genuinely believed that Harry was whoring around which is not the case. After all the last 'girlfriend' Harry had was over half a year ago. Something really awful must have happened between the two of them to cause so much tension between them. Of course it could just be the rumours so they feel pressured to stay away from each other but up until a couple of years ago they found the rumours funny. That ruled that option out so what did happen between them? Zayn made a small gesture telling them to continue and since Niall could still feel the fury coming off of Liam at everything he filled in their ex-bandmate;

"We were just playing truth or dare and Louis got a call from Eleanor and left the room. A couple of minutes later we heard him yelling at her but we don't know why they were fighting. Then he walked back in and Harry simply asked if he was having relationship problems and Louis then said something along the lines of him never knowing what that will be like because all he does is whore around."

It may have been cliché, but Zayn's jaw dropped open in disgust at hearing those words. He snapped his head to Liam as if he was asking for confirmation to what the Irishman had just said to which he nodded. Now, Zayn was extremely pissed off at Louis but this time it wasn't because of their clashing personalities- it was because he made a comment that upset Harry so much that he had fled his own house and cried himself to sleep. How could someone ever be so heartless? Why would someone stoop so low as throwing it in his face that he doesn't have a say in his personal life?

That had all happened last week and truthfully it was the only thing that Harry could think as a plausible reason for Louis' obvious avoidance of them all. He had to get his grip together because Simon had even yelled at him last night for neglecting his work because it was affecting the band. Like Liam had said to him, he needs to get off his high horse, grow up and take responsibility instead of blaming it on others. Once again Niall threw his phone on the desk (glad he had a screen cover and a chunky case so it wouldn't smash) at failing to get a hold of Louis. Just as they were about to give up and call Simon that once again he was refusing to work he finally walked in, not sparing a single glance at any of them.

"Where have you been?! You've already been warned twice this week Louis!"

He didn't reply except from giving Liam his middle finger and walking into the booth, their producing team all looking at them in confusion. This is what it has all came down too, now they were all fighting each other and it is truly suffocating. Why is Louis acting like he is the only person affected when it is his own actions that is causing all of the trouble? He hadn't even apologised to Harry, in fact by the time Liam, Niall and Zayn had convinced Harry to go home they had found out that he had left. He wasn't speaking to either of them, and now he was refusing to work with them all even though this is their job. Brothers aren't supposed to fight with one another but sometimes brothers have to make the decision to defend someone.

In a way, Harry is glad that Louis has been avoiding him recently. It means he doesn't need to look at him knowing all the shit he has put him through. However, it is also tearing him apart more that he now seems physically repulsed by the youngest when he hasn't done anything wrong- well actually, he has. He's lying to himself by saying that he doesn't love Louis. He's lying to the others about what really happened between them. He's lying to the fans by keeping this giant secret between them. Most importantly though, he is lying to his friend. Outside of the band, Eleanor is probably his closest friend except perhaps Will even though they hardly get to see each other.

She's being led on and has been being led on for over four years and it is wrong.

He doesn't want to destroy everything though because that is what will happen if he finally does bubble over. Louis will hate him even more than he currently does, Eleanor will hate him for his allowance to her being treated like a toy, the boys will hate him for not speaking up and the fans will most likely hate him for not being honest. People assume but not once have these assumptions been denied nor have they ever been confirmed. It's more or less just a waiting game on who will accidentally say too much and who will be there to hear it.

Harry's scrunched his eyes shut to try and block out all of the thoughts before he gets far too carried away, ignoring the looks the other two were giving him. This was finally beginning to get too much for him to handle, he has way too much on his plate. He needs to tell someone; he has to finally tell someone what is going on so he isn't suffering on his own. If he carries on like this, he is only going to get more and more depressed as time goes on which may lead to the irreversible. The sad thing though is that death seemed wonderful. If this was living, he would much rather not be alive. Life is supposed to be full of happiness and not letting people take each other down and that is exactly what is happening.

He's already made up his mind so now he just needs to find someone to tell that he knows will not spill secrets. Eleanor was definitely ruled out because he doesn't want to break her heart since he cares a lot for her and he doesn't want her to hate him. Liam would look down on him and then try and force it out of Louis which would destroy the band. Niall was out of the question because he always spoke whenever he wasn't supposed to- it was too risky to tell him and to keep it a secret. That only left one person- Zayn.

Since he had fled to his house last week, they had gotten back on speaking terms. Their fight that tore them apart in the first place completely forgotten although they were definitely not as close as they used to be. He was a very good listener and he knew he would be able to keep the secret and he could trust him the most. There was no one else he could tell because his family would tell him to buy out of his contract and come home immediately- not wanting him to suffer like this and he doesn't want that. He's always wanted to sing and he isn't going to give up his dream because Louis is far too up himself.

He sent a text to Zayn knowing that he had a fortnight off from his own solo stuff during this time so he would probably be in his home right now watching television or something. He didn't wait long for a reply to see that his conscious was correct and he told the other boys where he was heading- not Louis though because it was no secret that Louis and Zayn were definitely no longer friends and he doesn't want any more tension between them. He won't be able to handle anymore tension before he finally snaps. He had already recorded all of his parts to the songs they were laying vocals down for today which meant he had a long time to think over what to tell Zayn and in detail.

Harry drove in silence, the very familiar buildings and exotic-like trees now a common thing to see. He tried to ignore the flashes from cameras up until he arrived in the heart of Beverly Hills. It was a good thing that Zayn's place was located a little out of the area which meant it was very private. Privacy is what he needs right now. Once he had walked inside he was pulled into a tight hug despite it being a bit awkward due to the slight height difference. He closed the door behind him and it was only now the waterworks turned on, startling the oldest of the pair a lot at the drastic change. Just as Zayn was about to ask what was wrong, Harry unknowingly answered the question for him;

"I can't keep doing this, I have to tell someone and everyone else won't help the situation so I had to come to you Zayn."

He could hear how desperate his voice was as he spoke, not once has he ever seen Harry look so upset before in his life except when he was reading hate online. So he pointed him to the kitchen and they both sat at the isle which doubled as a minibar for when he had the occasional party (which was very rare). Harry had his hands covering his face to try and hide the numerous tears which were falling but they only seemed to be falling more whenever he tried to calm down. He wasn't even sure where to start, how does he start to explain this extremely fucked up situation?!

"Whoa there, calm down. It's ok Harry, I won't judge you."

It seemed to reassure him though and he gave Zayn an extremely tight lipped smile- although it was obviously forced and thankfully he didn't comment on it. Without really realising though, he felt his fingernails start to dig into his skin and despite it not satisfying him as much as a cut would, it was better than nothing. Harry quietly thought over how he could put it and try not to make it seem as bad as it actually was but there was simply no possible way to do that. Zayn is going to hate Louis a lot for this but he knew he could trust him to not kick up as big a fuss as anyone else he knew. He quickly warned Zayn that it was a very long story which may take an hour to completely get through- possibly more if he interrupts. He doubted he would though, he always kept his opinions until the very end.

"We were still in X-Factor when it happened Zayn. As you know a lot of people were confused with how close Louis and I were, it confused me as well. I mean, I got along with you all but for some reason I just trusted him the most. Just before our last performance there we stayed back in our room whilst you guys went to finish getting ready and we- we ended up kissing."

Zayn's eyebrows flew up now in shock. He can actually remember feeling confused as to why the two of them stayed back only two hours before their performance but never would he have guessed that.

"We didn't put a label on it for a couple of weeks, a bit scared too because Louis was the first boy I'd ever been attracted to and vice versa. We were both still unsure of our sexualities and we didn't want to make it exclusive or anything. It was about a month after we first kissed that he asked me to be his boyfriend and honestly, I've never been happier in my life. Although we didn't tell anyone- not even our families never mind you guys. We were worried of what people would say because at this point in time we were still not used to all the hate directed at us.

"Things got serious pretty quickly between us and after properly being together for six months we first said 'I love you' to each other. I was stupid though, naïve and stupid. We got more serious and well, he was my first. I knew I wasn't his though because he had been with Hannah for quite a while. Unlike what Louis told you guys; they broke up near the end of X-Factor instead of May. We wanted to keep it as much to ourselves as we possibly could. We were still so young and the fact we were in such a serious relationship was terrifying.

"About nine months into our relationship however, we'd had enough. We talked for a few days and decided to tell people that we were together but stupidly we made the mistake of telling management first instead of anyone else. Young, naïve and stupid. This happened around the same time we released the first single and there was a lot of hype around the release, management didn't like the idea of two of us being in a relationship with each other and gave us the option to split or fake relationships. We chose the second option and as you know I was forced into this womanising persona but Louis was simply forced to get a beard. I knew Eleanor for almost as long as Louis and I had been together and I introduced them. Luckily he was allowed to choose who he wanted to 'date'.

"It went like this for a while and we were given a timetable of sorts for when Louis had to go on dates so we knew when we could fit in our own time together. It worked out for us but I wanted to properly come out. I was getting sick to death of getting bashed constantly in the media. As I said already Zayn, we were in a very serious relationship, a very serious one but things started to go downhill. Sexually nothing happened for a couple of months but this was the start of the Take Me Home tour and you know just how busy we were so I put it down to that.

"But then Louis started to go out with Eleanor when they weren't scheduled to, he just kept telling me that it was to make their relationship more believable. I didn't want to lose him so I didn't think much on it. This continued all throughout the tour and I was getting more and more confused with his mixed signals- we rarely even kissed by this point never mind anything else but he refused to say anything to me on it and I didn't want to make matters worse.

"I started to get increasingly annoyed at Louis and Eleanor too, I mean she was his beard and yet he was treating her better than he was me and I was his partner. I had everything planned out that night, Louis told me he was going for a family dinner and I didn't have any reason to doubt him on that. A couple of hours passed and he still wasn't home so I sat on twitter checking update accounts in case anyone had seen him- and then I saw the picture."

Harry was a bawling mess by this point and Zayn had managed to get over his shock at hearing this and pulled Harry in. He knew he needed someone to help him through this, he could kind of guess where this was going and he wasn't sure if he knew he wanted to hear it. It isn't fair though on the youngest, he already has it the hardest because he is definitely the most sensitive out of them all. Zayn gently rubbed his back trying to calm him down but it wasn't doing much but it was worth a try.

"He had been spotted on a dinner date with Eleanor. At first I thought Photoshop but I got my answer. I called Johanna and asked her where she was and she simply replied in Doncaster with all the kids. I was absolutely disgusted and most of all completely heartbroken. I cried a lot that night and soon he came home and even then he tried to deny it until I brought up the fact that I could smell her perfume on him and that his mum had contradicted his lie. I just asked for him to tell me the truth because I couldn't take it anymore, it wasn't the first time this had happened. He just said he didn't know how it happened and he didn't need to say anymore- I knew what he meant."

Another round of tears soon pooled in his dull eyes as he recounted that very painful night. Zayn could feel his fists balling up angrily at his sides. How could someone bring their family into a lie to try and cover up the fact that they were cheating? It disgusted him that this was happening to his non-biological brother. He began to also feel angry at Eleanor for putting her friend through this but Harry seemed to register what was on his mind as he continued to the most horrible part;

"I asked him if he had fallen in love with her and he replied yes. I was torn apart- there isn't any other words to describe what I was like but I had to be the bigger person. I care about others more than I do myself and if he was happy with Eleanor, I would accept it. So then I asked him who should tell her that we had broken up but he froze on the spot and the even more disgusting truth came out. He'd never told her she was a beard, she genuinely believed that it was a real relationship from the very beginning. He'd never told her about us being together never mind told her that we had to stay hidden. How could he lead on a close friend of mine like that and then willingly bring more people into the mess?"

He was breaking hard, very hard but he had to get it out. He'd gotten through most of it already so if he could just hold it all together before it gets far too much. Zayn didn't know how to feel. He felt angry at Louis, disgusted at Louis, horrible for Eleanor and downright upset for Harry. Now he knew what really happened between them, and what really caused them to fall out. They had clearly gotten into a heated argument after this and he knew he had to ask but he didn't want to. Somehow the fight had stopped because when both are angry they never back down.

"How did it stop?"

His voice cracked a little as he asked the question, he really didn't know what to feel right now. How could anyone know what to feel when being told something like this?

"He slapped me, not hard but it was enough to stun me. I just looked at him and he didn't even look guilty, he was just angry. I packed my things and left the flat, moved in with Niall until I could find my own place. I text him the next day to tell him that it was definitely over between us. I wanted to get over him, so badly Zayn you have no idea but I just couldn't do it. I wasn't being forced into this persona anymore that was created around me which I should have been glad about but I quite simply wasn't. Whenever I saw Louis we would fight- the fights occasionally getting pretty physical.

"Then last year happened, when I really started spiralling out of control. I was only getting more and more depressed and I felt so alienated from everyone for being forced to keep this secret in me. Louis had already gotten physical when I brought up telling Eleanor, I didn't want him to hate me more, I didn't want Eleanor to hate me, I didn't want you guys to turn against me, I didn't want to ruin the bands image and I didn't want to disappoint fans. As you know by this point that Louis was denying any sort of rumour about us secretly being together which hurt even more because it wasn't always just a rumour.

"Last year though, we got into another heated argument and Louis shoved me really hard. The fights progressively got more and more physical and this time there was a glass table behind me and he had thrown me into it. The glass shattered, a lot of the shards stuck in my skin. I was bleeding a lot and even then Louis just walked away like nothing had happened. I had to drive myself to hospital to get all the glass removed from my body but it kick-started something. When I was hurt like that I wasn't thinking about Louis, I wasn't thinking about my broken heart.

"I started cutting. At first it was only very small ones, barely noticeable but before I knew it- it had become an addiction. I couldn't go a day without hurting myself. What was initially scars that could be passed as papercuts became so big that I had to find ways to hide them- I chose to hide them with tattoos."

As if to prove his point he lifted his shirt enough for his laurel's to appear and Zayn got the message. His own heart ached when his fingers touched the skin there and expecting to feel smoothness- instead he felt numerous dents and obvious scabs. Can real love actually do this to a person? He looked into Harry's eyes and he got his answer. Yes. Love could do this to someone. The fact that Harry was willingly subjecting himself to excruciating pain in order to keep it together was horrible.

"It spiralled from there on out. I used to only do it once a day but it soon turned to multiple times a day. I was making numerous cuts on my body and they might possibly scar me for life. Some of them were so deep. Physical pain was so much better than this psychological pain. Then about four months ago we got into another fight and Louis accused me of only wearing loose shirts to hide the fact that I was fat. I knew it wasn't true but it did something to me. I mentally wasn't right and I'm still not. I started eating less until that eventually turned into full blown bulimia and I've actually been diagnosed with it.

"I was still so, so depressed though. If anything I was more depressed than I was before. We were still fighting every time we saw each other and now people noticed. Then last week happened and I just snapped. I can't do this anymore Zayn, please help me!"

Despite his head being in a complete frazzle, his body reacted first. He had soon pulled the youngest into a tight hug and let him sob into his chest. A lot had been thrown at him and he really, really wanted to beat Louis up for causing his friend this level of pain. As usual, Louis was only thinking of himself whereas Harry was being the mature one and looking at the bigger picture. Zayn tried to ignore what he had told him about him cutting and the bulimia but he just couldn't. He didn't need to ask Harry to remove his shirt, he just seemed to know what he was thinking.

Skin and bone.

That was all that was there. His hand covered his mouth and his breathing became really rapid. He could see almost every single rib jutting out at the sides, he could see where his v-line used to be but now all he saw was his pelvic bones. He managed to see past the thick black ink and he saw the cuts. They were everywhere, his arms, chest and he knew there was more scattered over his body. How did it ever get to this stage? Now he was angry, really angry and he stood up but Harry stopped him at figuring out what he was going to do.

"Please Zayn, don't do it. I don't want to make things even worse between us and I don't want to break my friend's heart."

He didn't expect him to comply, but surprisingly he did. Zayn did ask a very simple question though;

"Can I at least punch Louis in the face?"

Harry couldn't do anything but nod. He had to let his ex-bandmate take some of his newfound anger out at the person who was causing everything.

---

Indeed, Zayn did punch Louis in the face the next time he had saw him. He didn't even care that it happened in public, he just caught site of the older boy, walked over and swung his fist at his face. Numerous pictures were taken of the incident and a lot of people were freaking out over what happened. Liam just laughed when he saw the pictures because as much as he sees Louis as a brother he really, really deserved that punch to the face for that nasty comment. Today though, they had a one off concert. They had only just finished recording for their new album so as a whole they had time off.

They weren't doing anything huge, just a small concert in Kensington Park to raise money for a charity. Harry tried his best to look away from the couple only a few metres away from him. He was not told that Eleanor was coming. Of course he was happy to see his friend but he wasn't happy that once again Louis was flat out lying. He had overheard them talking again last night and Louis told Eleanor that Zayn punched him after making a rude remark about him wanting more money and that was why he left the band. Harry was furious when he heard that and he had to really hold himself back from running in there and giving Louis an even bigger black eye.

He took almost no time to get ready as did Liam. However, Niall and Louis were both taking a very long time as usual. The first because he gets distracted far too easily and the latter because he is a vain arsehole. Eleanor and Louis were both giggling over something and it made Harry's stomach twist extremely uncomfortably. He had managed to make the others think he had eaten but when he said he had to pee he was actually pressing his fingers against his gag reflex to force it back up.

Zayn has been there for Harry just like he promised. Whenever Harry felt like cutting he would call him and the elder of the two would try and talk him out of it. It didn't always work but a few times he had managed to capture Harry's attention enough that he wouldn't tear his own skin open. His stomach was rumbling uncomfortably, knowing that he desperately needed food but he just didn't know how to keep it down anymore. He's lost even more weight and people are beginning to notice but lies come far too naturally to him now.

After all, his entire life at the moment is based around lies and deceit. Eventually Eleanor stood up and walked over to sit beside Harry, giving him a friendly smile as she done so. He managed a weak smile back but she seemed to see directly through it because she asked;

"Are you ok?"

Her hand rested gently on his knee in reassurance. Liam had left not long ago for a quick smoke and Niall was god knows where.

"Just not feeling that great, had a bit of a stomach bug the last couple of days."

She gave him a pointed look but luckily didn't press further. She knew when he was lying but she also knew he would only lie if he didn't want to speak about it. They talked for about ten minutes which suddenly changed when Liam walked back in with someone in tow. What was he doing here? He was supposed to be in California for crying out loud! An illuminous blue quiff told him who it was and Harry ran over to pull Zayn in for a hug.

"Surprise!"

Niall must have heard his voice from wherever he was previously and soon the blonde bombshell had jumped on his back whilst repeating just how much he missed having him around. Eleanor was glaring at him though because obviously she had been told a complete other story and he had punched her boyfriend in the face. She had every right to be pissed off with him. Tension filled the room again when Louis walked back into the room, a faded mark on the left side of his face from when Zayn punched him a few days before. He was looking between the other boys, to Eleanor and then to Zayn. Shit. He was going to be caught lying again.

"I hope your face still hurts dick."

Louis' startled expression changed to one of anger and he walked forward intending to also swing his fist across his smug face. Liam and Niall both stepped in between them though, preventing another fight because they didn't need one just before a performance. They were due on stage in an hour so they still had plenty of time. Eleanor was now completely confused at everyone's reaction, hadn't Zayn punched Louis for him calling him out for wanting more money? Harry stayed back though, not wanting to get into anything he shouldn't. Especially because his head was beginning to throb painfully on top of his stomach screaming at him to fill with food.

"Don't go fucking near Zayn you prick, he done the right thing. You have the audacity to treat Harry like shit, call him a whore simply because he asked if you were having relationship problems, avoid us for an entire bloody week after that and then dare say that it is because Zayn wanted more money! More like Zayn is being the bigger person right now and got over his feud with Harry to help him out instead of make it fucking worse!"

It was Niall who had said it and to say that Harry was shocked was a huge understatement. He was always so carefree and always saw the good in people but here he was yelling at his own band member for acting outrageously? Eleanor on the other hand looked physically sick and she got her answer when she looked at Harry, silently asking him to confirm or deny what she had just heard spill from Niall's mouth. Harry nodded lightly and now she walked over. What people didn't expect was for her to swing her leg back and aim it directly at Louis' most sensitive areas.

"You dare fucking lie to me again Louis especially over something like this and you will never be able to have kids, do you hear me?!"

With all of the chaos that was occurring right now, no one's attention was on Harry. This was not a good sign. His head throbbed more and he felt faint. He was struggling to stay awake and the next thing the people in the room noticed was him falling limply to the ground unconscious. It was Liam who reacted first by trying to wake him up but he failed miserably. People were rushing into the room at hearing the commotion from outside and people were trying to get through to 999 to get an ambulance. Niall quickly ran to tell the person who organised the charity event what was happening and the entire thing had been postponed until further notice.

Almost ten minutes had passed by the time an ambulance arrived and Harry was placed on a stretcher. The other boys- apart from Louis- bundled into the back of a black van as they were driven to the nearest hospital. Eleanor was also sitting there still fuming that her boyfriend made up a lie like that and had actually called her friend a whore. Harry wasn't that, he had told her on numerous occasions that he had only ever slept with one person but he would never say who that person was.

The ride to the hospital seemed to take quite a long time and on the way someone called Anne, Robin, Des and Gemma to tell them Harry had been taken into hospital. Gemma managed to meet them there since she lived in London and worked from home but the others wouldn't be there for at least three more hours. They did get a fair few funny looks from people but luckily no one came up to ask why they were here, or rather who was here. The fact that Louis just walked out of the room when Harry collapsed showed just what he had become.

A self-conceited prick. Nothing more and nothing less.

Soon a nurse walked in and asked for people who were waiting on Harry, although he was startled at the amount of people there were. So they were all moved into a room to await to hear what had happened to Harry. All of them apart from Zayn stood shocked when they were told that he had collapsed as a mixture of stress and lack of food. Niall felt violently ill now when the dots connected and Eleanor had left the room crying- how could they not have noticed? Despite him hearing it from Harry himself, the words didn't sit right with Zayn. Gemma even had to leave the room and was demanding to know where her brother was.

It was a very long few hours before the three adults walked into the room, Anne in a blubbering mess because Gemma told her on the phone. Nobody knew what to think, nobody could seem to piece everything together and they were all desperately trying to get a hold of Louis. Eventually Liam managed to get through to Lottie only to find out that Louis told her something different again and when she had been told the real reason she told them she was on her way. They knew that Louis was only going to get more pissed when he heard this but it was wrong of him to paint himself as perfect when it was him causing all of the problems. It hurt Zayn more though because he knew that Harry was still completely and utterly in love with Louis and he was treating him like dirt.

He thinks that he's making things better but he isn't. With him lying so much to everyone it is only making things a whole lot worse. It wasn't long until Lottie walked in with her newly dyed lavender locks and like they all guessed she was fuming and demanded to know what had really been happening between Harry and Louis. No one answered because the majority didn't know and Zayn had promised Harry he wouldn't tell anyone.

The next few days came and went very quickly, Harry had gained consciousness for a mere six hours in total during those days but what hurt them the most was when he asked where Louis was. The answer was simple; no one knew where he was. Louis was ignoring their calls again- even Lottie's since she had been told what actually had been happening between them. Gemma had hardly left his side the whole time since Anne, Robin and Des had to go back to their work. It tore Anne apart, seeing the state that her son had become.

They weren't even told that Harry had bulimia, they just knew. It could be the only option there was because they had seen him eating often but now they really noticed that he would always leave the table within fifteen minutes to go to the toilet. A doctor had told them that it was during this time period that it was easiest to purge undigested food back up. It truly did sicken them but what sickened them more was Louis avoiding them all again. Of course there had been pictures of them all going to and from the hospital and people were wondering what was happening. There was only three people who knew what was happening though. Those people being Harry, Zayn and Louis even though he always denies it.

There have been times when Zayn has just wanted to scream during it all, but he knew it would not end well. What Harry was doing was an extremely brave thing. He was willingly putting up with this huge burden in order to not hurt anyone he cares about. Eleanor had stayed the first day but she soon had to go back to Manchester for a family member's birthday. However, she had been texting and calling often as she was genuinely really worried for her friend. She herself had been trying to get in touch with Louis only to find out that he had temporarily blocked her number. It was obvious that he was once again ignoring his problems thinking that they would just disappear but he was only making them worse.

After a few days though it became clear to everyone that Harry had to be discharged. He'd already been forced down whilst a tube was stuffed up his nose that stretched down to his stomach to force feed him. Just seeing that level of hopelessness on him as he fought the people holding him tight grasps whilst crying a lot. It was a horrific sight to see. That was when they really saw how Harry's life had turned out. Of course they all simply assumed that it was because of the fame being too much for him but this wasn't the case.

If only people did know the truth of everything.

Yes, it wasn't exactly hidden that all of them are not exactly fond of the level of fame but there are way too many pros that effectively weigh out all the cons. That is music wise though, personal wise this isn't true. Harry may seem as though he is enjoying every bit of his life but he really doesn't. He loves making music and singing in front of thousands, but he hates that he constantly has to lie to keep everything together. He doesn't want the other boys to hate him and he doesn't want to break his friends heart. Unfortunately, though, over time Harry would only get more and more depressed and this would never change. After all, he is being forced to watch the man he loves be in love with someone else all whilst lying to everyone about the truth.

It was three days later that Harry was discharged from hospital and even then Louis still refused to make an appearance. He was refusing to answer any of their calls and texts much less come to the hospital. This just proved how much of a self-conceited prick he had become. Right now, Liam was sitting in his own living room just thinking about everything. What could have happened to cause all of this? It was obvious it involved Louis because they had been fighting for a long time but they have only seen some of them. Neither of them ever openly spoke about what was going on so they quite simply had to guess.

Liam had a theory and he wasn't sure if it was just numerous rumours finally getting to him or if it was because he had always known it was there and had simply chosen to ignore it all. Louis always blamed their fall out on the Larry rumours- but up until two years ago they both found the rumours funny. What changed? It just seemed to happen instantly and before any of them could even blink it seemed. They started fighting a lot until they eventually just stopped talking to each other. Heck, they barely even acknowledged each other's existence anymore.

Gemma was staying with Harry currently because he was advised to have someone constantly with him and since she worked from home it meant that she was best to be there for him. This was hurting Liam, Niall and even Zayn to a ridiculous extent so what must it actually be like for his blood sibling? What even made it more sickening was that Louis was now lying once again- but this time to fans. Since numerous pictures were online of Harry being rushed into hospital they had been asking questions but none of them knew how to even reply because it was obvious Harry didn't want this getting out.

So when Louis replied saying that he simply collapsed of exhaustion shocked them all to the core. At the same time though, it really angered them. Zayn eventually had to go back to Los Angeles whilst the other boys all had been forced to take time off until Harry was well again. Eleanor had been visiting as often as she could as well because she hated to see her friend in so much pain and even Louis was avoiding her. He wasn't only avoiding her now, he was even avoiding Lottie since she had found out what really happened and he was refusing to speak with her.

This is what angered Liam the most about Louis' outrageous behaviour. He was acting like nothing was wrong and it had simply just been exhaustion that caused him to collapse. Unfortunately, the lie was believable since they are living such high profile lives. They all thought that fame would never get to them and they would never change but somewhere along the line this changed. He hadn't even meant to find them- the scars that is. Whilst still in hospital Liam had finished recording his solos for the day earlier than Niall and since Louis was refusing to show his face he had gone there.

Harry was still unconscious and he had simply trailed his fingers along Harry's very thin arm. At first he ignored it but soon he began to feel more of them underneath his fingertips. Now he really did feel violently sick. He managed to hold it down though and look closer at Harry's tattoos and his free hand covered his mouth in disgust. they were everywhere and what hurt most was seeing that some of them were easily a year old by the shade. What really had been going on?

He knew that Zayn probably knew considering Harry had fled to his place after that disgusting comment but he had probably been sworn to secrecy. Annoyingly, their ex-bandmate always kept his promises so he knew he wasn't going to get anything out of him. Liam's theory to what happened didn't shock him much but it still didn't sit right with him. He had been pondering over numerous solutions in his mind for a few days now and somehow it always came back to the same conclusion. Was there more to the Larry rumours?

The fact that Harry and Louis may have been in a relationship at one point didn't shock him- in fact he kind of expected it with how close they were. Well, how close they used to be because now they couldn't even be in the same room as each other without catastrophe. What disgusted him more though was that Harry was now suffering both mentally and physically yet Louis was pretending like everything was alright. Honestly, the few seconds he caught Louis as he was leaving the studio and the oldest was entering he had wanted to literally strangle the boy.

He couldn't do that though, right now they needed time off from everything until things started to turn around. Never in his life did he think Harry would have bulimia of all things. He managed to hide it so well and always had perfectly thought out excuses to go to a bathroom after eating that nobody ever questioned it. It didn't help that they all only saw just how fragile he truly was when he was put into a hospital gown. They should have saw it a lot sooner considering they usually notice something wrong almost immediately.

Harry used to love walking around completely naked yet over the last couple of years he hasn't done this. Or at least not like he used to. He used to be so confident in himself and never let anything but the occasional hate comments get to his head. He used to laugh a lot and joke around often yet now he just didn't do that. What made Liam really upset though was that he just knew that there were more scars than simply on his arms. He never looked for more but he knew they were there.

If his only logical theory was correct, how long had they been together? What was Louis doing with Eleanor? Did she know? Did Harry know? Was there a cheating scandal going on? He just didn't know and it was really frustrating him. Since Harry had been discharged and Gemma temporarily moved in with him she had been updating hourly on his condition. Someone had to always be there for him to make sure he didn't purge his food back up or rip his skin open again. Just how long had Harry been in such crippling suffering?

It was a fortnight later that Harry was deemed well enough to work again but he was still incredibly weak. Now that they were all looking, they could actually see just how skinny Harry was and it wasn't a nice way. His legs were like sticks, his hip bones protruded and his stomach had concaved in. Today though was the first time in a while that Louis finally made an appearance once again and despite being furious with him still they were not going to cause any more drama. They had rescheduled their charity concert which is what they were doing right now.

Currently Louis was sitting at the opposite side of the room with his arm around Eleanor although she looked like she would much rather be somewhere else. He had obviously not apologised to her but he just didn't seem to care. Lottie was also giving him the silent treatment despite family usually coming first for her. What Louis was doing was just childish and everyone was aware of it except him. He's always ran away from his problems instead of trying to solve them. Running away only makes matters worse though.

Lou and Lottie both tried their best to try and make Harry look not so ill but it really was a lost cause. His entire face had sunk in and no amount of makeup could cover it. His hair had lost that shine that a lot of people envied and had numerous dead ends thanks to him not taking care of himself. At first Niall found it quite funny that someone had to constantly follow Harry around and even go to the toilet with him but this was quickly weighed down with the seriousness of everything. This wasn't some television sitcom that they could just switch off- this was real life.

Harry had been refusing to look at Louis and just blatantly ignored him but then again almost all of them were ignoring him. What angered them more was that he genuinely looked annoyed that they were avoiding him. Eventually they were summoned to the stage and just like that Harry's happy act came on. They could see through it though now that they knew. They got through the concert with no problems and soon they had all rushed backstage once more. Louis went to hug Eleanor but she shied away from him and gave him a disgusted look which caused him to stomp down the corridor because she wasn't cooperating with him the way he wanted.

They all changed again and Liam, Niall and Eleanor tried their best to hide their horrified looks as they saw just what Harry had become. Despite Eleanor having siblings, Harry was more of a sibling to her. She had known him the longest and from the start of everything. She got to know him for him instead of getting to know him for his fame and fortune. Then she fell in love with Louis although right now she really wasn't feeling that. She wasn't going to drop her guard until Louis apologised for lying to her about something like that.

The next ten minutes passed and there was still not a sign of Louis but right now they didn't want to be in close proximity to him. Niall was sitting on the couch with a cup of soup trying to coax Harry into eating some but it just wasn't working. The youngest just kept shaking his head and cried harder every time the cup came closer to his mouth. He had quite simply just given up on life. It was a horrible thing to witness happening, but it was happening and there was nothing they could do to stop it from happening.

Another ten minutes passed and eventually Niall had managed to coax Harry into swallowing a few spoonful's. It wasn't much at all but it was a drastic improvement. There wasn't even a point in Harry keeping up his false pretence around them anymore- they all knew. Eventually, Eleanor walked over and pulled her friend into a hug and allowed him to cry into her neck. She patted his back gently whilst whispering soft words into his ear to try and calm him down but if anything he was only getting more upset.

Unfortunately, it was right at that moment that Louis decided to walk back into the room. His eyes scanned the room before landing on the couch and suddenly anger flashed across the ocean blue colour. No one had time to react before he was pulling Harry out of Eleanor's grasp and had pinned him tightly against the wall. Does he just not get it?! His arm was around Harry's neck and he was pressing down. Eventually, Liam managed to pry Louis off of Harry and had gotten him into one of his deadly headlocks trying to keep things from going out of control.

"What the fuck is your problem Harry?! She is my girlfriend, not yours so back off!"

Niall and Eleanor were both simply standing back with shocked looks on their faces, not knowing what to even think. Was it simply jealousy that was causing all of this madness? What happened next, neither of them expected. They had all come to notice that whenever Harry and Louis fought he usually ran out of the room. This time though he simply walked forward and Niall tried not to look at the angry red mark on his neck from where Louis' arm had been a minute before. He raised his hand and landed a powerful punch to the side of Louis' face before practically spitting out;

"You want to know what my problem is? Well, the answer is simple. You are my problem Louis; you've always been my problem. You treat me like shit, you lie to my face for years, you lie to everyone around you, you act like you are completely innocent when in fact it is you causing all the fucking mess! Seriously Louis, is it in you to be honest at all?! Accept the responsibility and start trying to make things right instead of fucking making them worse and just grow up!"

For a split second, Harry saw a flash of hurt cross Louis' face but it soon disappeared again. The other people in the room were just standing there in stunned silence and despite it not being right for Harry to punch Louis in the face, he really did deserve it. What they didn't expect was for Harry to continue;

"What about all the times you have hurt me Louis? What about that time last year when you threw me into a fucking glass table and then walked out the room like nothing even happened? When you left me to drive myself to hospital to get the glass removed from my body because you pretended like nothing happened?!"

Now, Eleanor really did feel heavily sick to her stomach. So not only had Louis called him a whore and lied to everyone about Harry's condition, he had also intentionally hospitalised him and pretended to have done nothing. How could someone be so heartless?

"Shut up you obese bastard, go lose some fucking weight."

Silence. That is what surrounded the room the second those words escaped Louis' lips. They knew he had changed for the worst but did he really just stoop that low? Just like that, Harry's lips began to tremble and a second later he was running from the room with Niall hot on his heels. Liam tightened his grip on Louis to stop him from going after them despite really wanting to hurt him. Now, Eleanor walked over after she had gotten over her shock and aimed a strong kick in a place that wasn't pleasant. She moved her head closer to Louis' before practically spitting out;

"Get out of here. Don't call me again. Don't text me again. Don't speak to me again. I could maybe have forgiven you for calling my friend a whore if you fucking apologised to me and to Harry. But no, you pretend like nothing is wrong and everyone else is at fault because you don't want the responsibility. Now I find out that you threw him into a glass table and left him to take himself to hospital?! You wouldn't tell someone who has suicidal thoughts to kill them self and you shouldn't tell someone who is starting his recovery from a serious eating disorder that he is obese and needs to lose weight! We are fucking done and I don't want to see you ever again!"

With that said, Liam roughly pushed Louis to the ground and the two of them left in search of Niall and Harry. The eldest stayed behind in pain, shock and anger at what just happened. Did that really just happen? Did his girlfriend of four years break up with him to take Harry's side?

---

Not to anyone's surprise really, the tables turned on them. Whenever things had been bad between them it was always Louis avoiding them because he didn't want to face up to the responsibility. Now though that wasn't the case. Over the past week he'd reflected a lot on his actions and he really realised that everyone else was right as usual. Louis doesn't like to lose and he doesn't like to be in the wrong but right now he really deserves it. He's been an arsehole and not only has he lost a woman he loves; he's lost the boys.

Now that he was finally owning up to being a prat everyone else was ignoring him but again he deserved it. He was bang out of order with his comments and for blaming everything on other people. It's always easier to blame someone else for messing up so you don't make yourself look bad. He can't believe he said that to Harry. Serious eating disorder? How could he have not noticed something like that?!

They used to be so close and in all possible ways. It shouldn't hurt this much; he should be more hurt over Eleanor breaking up with him but instead he was more upset about losing Harry. He wanted so desperately to move on from him but he never did and he hated Harry for it. It was him who fucked everything up though. If he had told Eleanor right from the beginning that she was initially a beard himself and Harry might still be together. If he hadn't lied so much to him for so long, it might have worked out.

As much as Louis tries to deny his feelings, he quite simply can't. He'd be lying to not just other people but to himself by saying he doesn't still love Harry. The almost three years they spent together were so happy but Louis got too caught up in a lie and he messed up everything. He wanted Harry to think differently because he didn't want him to feel responsible for them falling apart. Harry almost always blamed himself for things like this. Louis hadn't fallen for Eleanor when he said he did, he had gotten too scared of being exposed and that was why he said it.

He can still remember that horrific look of betrayal that was on Harry's face when he said that and his own heart broke right at that second but he couldn't take it back now. What hurt more was that Harry could be happy for him even if he wasn't going to be happy about it. How could he treat Harry like he had been for the past two years? Like Liam always said to him, he only ever thought of himself instead of the bigger picture and it had now gotten him into this horrible state.

Over time he had genuinely grown to love Eleanor but his feelings for her were tame compared to the feelings he still had for Harry. No matter how hard he tried, he just couldn't move on so he started to take it out on him. He felt bile rise in the back of his throat over the glass table incident. He had actually forgotten all about that one but once Harry said that the memory came rushing back. How could he just walk away whilst Harry was bleeding badly and had numerous glass shards stuck in his body?

Not only has Louis lost four people he deeply cares about, he's lost the person he loves.

He was kidding himself with Eleanor. He could only love her but he could never be in love with her. How could he when Harry was with him almost every single day? He can remember the sparks that flooded through him the first time their lips touched before their final performance on X-Factor as finalists. It was so intense and both were very inexperienced and in shock. Louis had never been attracted to another guy before and he knew Harry was the same.

What was it that he was so scared about with his previous relationship with Harry? He wasn't sure if it was the fear of being rejected by a lot of people or if it was because he was scared of the backlash they would surely get. There are still a lot of people who are openly homophobic, so was he just scared of the media turning it against them? Was he scared that the pressure of being forced to live a lie by their management? Or was he simply just scared of himself considering he had never been attracted to another guy before Harry?

It wasn't that he was against gay relationships because he was completely for them. Although behind that acidic tongue that he had inherited from Jay he was actually very insecure. He didn't even know if he was gay or if he was bisexual or if it was simply that he was just attracted to Harry. He really needed a second opinion, and he needed to get it from someone who didn't know all the shit that had happened with everyone. So Louis pulled out his keys before jumping into his car and making the journey to Doncaster to speak to his mum.

Jay had been both shocked and delighted when she opened the door to her eldest son. He saw Dan in the hallway wave to him and he gave a weak smile in return. His step-dad didn't see through it considering he hadn't learned each little trait about all the kids yet but Jay immediately saw through it. She quirked her eyebrow up but told her husband that they would both be upstairs for a much needed catch up. Luckily he didn't press questions and Louis peeked into the room to see him tickling his younger brother which brought a tiny smile to his face. Jay shut the door behind her before turning to Louis and saying;

"Alright, what is wrong."

Louis let out a shaky breath and covered his face for a second, thinking over exactly what it was he wanted to say. Jay sat down and wrapped an arm around her eldest child who wasn't even a child anymore as he was twenty-four years old.

"I've fucked everything up mum, and I don't know what to do right now."

---

In Surrey though, things were looking up. Right now Liam had finally managed to convince Harry to come around to his place but the youngest didn't know that he was planning on getting as much information as he possibly could out of him. He didn't want to scare him away and cause him to relapse. He hadn't been doing that great but at least he was starting to eat again and he had already told Liam that whenever he felt like cutting he called Zayn who normally always knew what to say to change his mind. That confirmed to Liam that Zayn knew exactly what was going on but again he wanted to hear everything from Harry and not from anyone else.

It wasn't even that he wanted to hear it from Harry. He needed to hear it from Harry. So the youngest drove down from London after having convinced Gemma to give him space for the day. She had protested strongly but eventually realised that he couldn't be babied. If he was going to constantly have someone with him he would eventually rebel and she didn't want that. She had told him though to call her every two hours to make sure that things were okay.

Harry hated putting her through this, but he was far too trapped to do anything about it. Every day is another struggle but at the same time every day it gets slightly easier. The night before he had managed half of an Indian takeaway with Gemma which was probably more than he had consumed in two weeks when the bulimia was at its worst. He had also been prescribed medication to prevent acid reflux in his stomach since he had gotten so used to surviving on next to nothing. It wasn't much, one pill when he woke up in the morning and another before he went to sleep at night.

It wasn't easy for him, but he wanted to get better. He didn't want to be like this anymore. Harry wanted to be how he was when he was eighteen and everything was amazing around him. After his and Louis' last fight, Eleanor had told him she had broken up with him because she couldn't love someone who had become so heartless. Despite feeling bad for his friend because she did have genuine feelings for his bandmate and ex-lover, a part of him was extremely giddy that Louis was single once more.

The drive only lasted just over an hour and he had soon parked up next to Liam's fancy black Lamborghini. The older boy pulled him into a tight hug once he answered the door and let Harry in. The youngest hadn't been here that often but every time he did he was blown away by the extravagant building. Harry never tended to spend a lot of money on things, didn't see the need in extremely fancy items. Yes, his own house was very expensive but London is a really expensive city.

He followed Liam around to the back of the house into the very large garden which had very high walls to stop unwanted visitors. They don't mind people coming over and asking for pictures but they all agree that it definitely crosses a barrier when people camp outside their houses to try and get a picture or an autograph. Harry even had to move house a few months ago because he wasn't left alone and he now lived in a gated area. It didn't completely keep people out but he had been getting a lot more privacy since he made the decision which he was very glad about.

Liam asked Harry if he wanted some sandwiches and despite a part of his mind telling him no, he replied yes. He wanted to get better. He was sick of being like this and now he felt like he would be able to get the closure to move on from Louis. Maybe one day they could be friends again. As much as the eldest had hurt him both mentally and physically for a long time, he wanted to hear his side of the story. No, he needed to hear his side of the story. Maybe there was something else going on behind the scenes which he didn't tell anyone much like Harry not telling people about his depressing thoughts.

Liam came back out soon with some sandwiches and placed them in the middle of the table along with two steaming mugs of tea. Harry recognised the scent. The older of the two looked on warily when Harry picked up a slice and slowly tore a piece off. He covered his mouth with his other hand and Liam figured it was because he was struggling to swallow it. Eventually he managed to get it down and took a long gulp of the steaming beverage to force it down so he wouldn't be as tempted to throw it back up. He'd only purged twice since he got out of hospital which was a drastic improvement because he hadn't gone a day without doing it at least once beforehand.

The two ate and drank in silence, just enjoying the peace. Luckily Simon was still their boss and he treated all of them like his children and when he had heard about why Harry was hospitalised he had constantly been checking up on all of them. Harry may have only managed one sandwich by the time he had finished eating but it was a huge difference and Liam gave him a small smile to silently show him that he was proud of him. Eating disorders are very difficult to overcome and Harry was even more brave for trying to overcome his on his own and not in a clinic. Harry isn't even sure when his change of thought occurred, he just realised when he was in a hospital bed that he didn't want to be like this.

"Harry, what really has been happening between you and Louis? You can tell me you know."

Liam reached his arms over and took hold of Harry's hand whilst staring deep into his eyes. He could see his feelings without even seeing Harry's reaction to the question. The youngest stiffened up and bit his lip hard to try and fight off the tears. It was a good thing that Liam understood and didn't pressure him because he might not be ready to speak about it. Deep inside though, Harry knew he was sick of lying. He licked his lips to let some moisture into the slightly cracked skin before looking Liam straight in the eye before simply stating;

"A lot."

It wasn't exactly an answer, but Liam understood immediately what it meant. He thought over his theory to try and word it so that he wouldn't freak out Harry because he wasn't sure if his theory was correct. It could very easily just be the rumours getting to his head after so much time. He took a deep breath before asking;

"Harry, was there ever any truth about the Larry rumours?"

There. He had said it. A huge weight lifted from his shoulders as he stared at his younger bandmate and non-biological brother. Harry had started crying now and Liam immediately got his answer. So he was right then. Harry and Louis had been in a relationship previously in secret. Did that mean Eleanor was only ever a cover up? He had moved his seat around the table and pulled Harry in for a tight hug letting him breathe shakily into his neck. He could actually feel the heartbreak coming from him. They stayed in that position for a couple of minutes before Harry pulled back.

"Yes. We were in a relationship Liam. We officially got together a couple of weeks after X-Factor finished and we broke up at the end of the Take Me Home tour. Almost three years."

Now, Liam was shocked. They had managed to keep up a relationship in secret for that long and were never caught out? Harry was only sixteen and he was in such a serious relationship so young. He didn't even need to hear it said aloud, it was obvious that they had both been very serious if they made it last so long without telling anyone. This only meant one thing. Harry had told them on numerous occasions he had only ever slept with one person and now he knew who that person was. Louis.

"What was the deal with Eleanor then?"

Harry cast his gaze elsewhere for a bit thinking of how he could word everything. It didn't feel quite so daunting explaining it for the second time especially because he knew Liam wouldn't judge him. so he told him everything- well, almost everything. He was obviously not going to go into detail over his sexual encounters with Louis because that would just be awkward. He may be perceived as someone who never stops having sex but Harry is actually quite shy when it comes to speaking about it.

Eventually he just decided to tell him absolutely everything like he had with Zayn. He explained how they were still really scared about being in such an intense relationship so young and that was why they didn't tell people they were together. He told Liam how Eleanor was initially a beard but she was never told this and that is what led to the two of them fighting a lot. By the end of everything he was crying once again. Liam was just frozen stiff in his place at hearing what really had been going on. It was even more disturbing than he had ever imagined. Despite feeling extremely angry with Louis again, he asked Harry if one day he would ever take him back to which Harry replied;

"I really don't know Liam. I can't lie to you by saying that I moved on from him because I never did, I am still in love with him. If he does eventually tell me his side of the story which I hope will give me the closure I not only want but need, we might have a chance of being friends again. But I really can't answer if I would ever take him back in a relationship way because I genuinely don't know if I would or not."

---

Before any of them knew it, almost a month had passed since that talk. Since then, Harry had told Niall as well and he was very glad that they just accepted him for it all. He had finally gotten to a point that he wasn't on medication anymore because he could now hold his food down for long enough so he wouldn't be able to throw it up without being in agonising pain. He also hadn't cut in nearly a month and his old ones had now faded to a very pale white which almost blended in with his natural skin colour.

Today though they were having another concert but this time as a release of some sort as this was the first time they were playing the new songs from their unreleased album they have been working on for the past few months. They hadn't released a single so they were all very nervous about how the new songs were going to be perceived. Of course as usual there were going to be people who hated the songs but there would also be people who loved the songs.

What shocked them more though, was that Louis wasn't being as much of a dick as he had been for the past year. He wasn't exactly speaking much but when he did he wasn't angry and wasn't blaming everything on Harry anymore. There were still times when Liam and Niall wanted to hurt the eldest for putting Harry through so much shit but they could tell that he was really trying to make up for everything. He had even asked Harry to accompany him to see Eleanor to tell her what really happened.

Much to Louis' surprise, she just accepted it. She also wasn't angry at Harry because he was simply looking out for her and that day Louis and Eleanor had gone out only as friends. He had even introduced Eleanor to a close friend of his and Harry was sure he could sense sparks flying between the pair and was hoping something might happen. She never did anything wrong, she deserved to have someone who would actually love her in all possible ways.

Harry and Louis had been talking again and never fought anymore- at least not seriously. Of course they still had stupid disagreements but they managed to get over everything. The youngest had gained a lot of weight back and started to look like himself again and this made everyone happy. There wasn't any more tension tearing the band apart and even Zayn had managed to accept that Louis was genuinely trying to win their trust again. Although, he had threatened him that if he ever hurt Harry again he would not hold back and would make him regret it.

Louis had a plan tonight.

Liam and Niall were both in on it but they didn't know the whole extent. After his very long talk with his mum, Louis realised that there was no reason to be scared. Real fans would stay and they might also gain some more fans out of everything. It had taken a few days to convince Liam and Niall to give him time to tell his side of the story but luckily they did. It was that night he drove to Harry's home and broke down in tears whilst telling him everything from his point of view.

They weren't like how they used to be but Louis hoped that in time he would be able to win back Harry's trust. Harry noticed Louis slip some sheet music to the band that provided the instruments (even though they did play their own fair share of instruments) but he didn't intervene. Everyone seemed to know what they were doing. They finished getting ready not long after and about an hour later they were getting ready to go on stage. Niall was pacing back and forth which was beginning to irritate the other three but luckily they were all handed their mics and they walked on stage.

The concert went surprisingly well actually. The songs all seemed to be well received and the people in the building weren't screaming that loud. Of course they weren't quiet either but it was like they just all silently agreed that they would just listen to the songs and not ruin it for other people by making a ridiculous amount of noise. Around half way through though, Louis turned around and made a gesture to the band behind them and the music cut off. Harry looked at the others in confusion and he was left only more confused when realising that Liam and Niall seemed to know exactly what was going on. Louis walked over and stood in front of Harry.

What Harry wasn't expecting was for Louis to hold his microphone up to his mouth and tell everyone in the entire building what happened. He just stood there shocked and there was a collective hush everywhere. He swears he could probably hear a pin drop it was so quiet. the only thing he could hear was his own breathing and Louis' angelic voice that still caused goose bumps on his skin. When he had finished the silence continued but this was soon replaced with an acoustic guitar. Harry looked around and he saw Niall behind him strumming away to a tune he didn't recognise.

And then Louis sang.

Tears sprung to Harry's eyes at the lyrics because they were obviously about what happened between them. Next he could hear the band joining in after what he presumed was the first chorus. It wasn't long until he felt his eyes begin to get damp and he wiped a couple of the tears away before they could fall. It's times like this that Harry really doesn't question how he still loves Louis after all of this. Once Louis had stopped singing there was silence for only a second before a loud applause broke out from all the spectators. Louis held his hand out for Harry to take before asking him one question;

"I've been an arse Harry, and I really want to make it up to you and hopefully win you back one day. I don't deserve it and quite frankly I know you could find someone better than me. Can we start over just as brothers again and see what happens?"

Harry didn't even need to think over his answer because he had soon pulled Louis into a very tight hug and he wasn't trying to hold the tears in anymore.

---

As the months flew by, things only got better and better. Harry could feel himself falling again and on the first night of their European leg of their tour they had kissed again. Just as much sparks as the first time they kissed spread through them. Like before they didn't put a label on anything because they wanted to take their second attempt at a possible relationship really slowly considering the disaster that happened last time. After a few weeks though they came clean to their families, friends and most importantly the other boys.

Of course everyone was sceptical but they accepted that they still did love each other deeply. Also, they weren't exactly young anymore. Harry was twenty-two and Louis was almost twenty-five. They weren't babies and they knew what they were doing. It was two months into their second attempt at a relationship that Eleanor came running to Harry's door in a burst of excitement but Harry got his answer at seeing a diamond rock on her left hand. Louis had been just as happy for her and they both helped her plan her wedding to Alex- the friend Louis had introduced her too.

They might have not been together for long- only four months officially- but when people saw them together for the first time as a couple they knew that was it. Harry had even been asked to be the best man and he took it upon himself to embarrass his newly married friend as much as possible in front of Alex and the guests.

Things really were looking up for everyone now, and as each day passed Harry found himself really trusting Louis again. He had proven time and time again though that this time he wasn't going to tear out Harry's heart and rip it up into millions of pieces but the fear was still there. On their six months' anniversary as a couple again, Louis booked them a romantic holiday on a private island and it was incredible to do whatever they wanted and not needing to worry about someone taking pictures and twisting it into something it wasn't.

It was on their second last night that Harry finally forgave Louis and to put it nicely, there had been a small dent on the wall where the king sized bed was in their rented cottage. It had been just as intense as their first time and Harry had hardly been able to walk the next day but it was so worth it. Once they were back in the studio there had been plenty of wolf whistling noises from Liam and Niall despite them not saying they had made love. They just knew each other so well that questions didn't need to be asked. It took longer for Zayn to forgive Louis but he also had done so and he was extremely happy for his friends.

Three months after that break, Eleanor came running around to their now shared house which they had bought a couple of weeks after they got back from their anniversary and she shoved a few pictures at them. They had given her a confused look but they only looked at the pictures for a second before they had scooped the brunette into a very tight hug at realising they were ultrasound pictures. There was still speculation considering they had remained close with Eleanor but there wasn't anything to confirm because she was now happily married and now expecting her first children since the picture had clearly shown two babies. She had come over to ask Harry to be the godfather to one of the unborn twins and Louis to be godfather to the other.

On the last date of their tour though, something happened. Once again, the concert seemed to stop about half way through which confused Harry but Liam and Niall were both giving him beaming grins which told the youngest they knew what was going on. Once again, Niall strummed his acoustic guitar and Louis serenaded him with a song before promptly dropping down onto one knee in front of sixty thousand people. He spoke a very long speech and had soon presented Harry with quite a simple ring but one sentence was carved into the metal and his heart almost burst.

Always in my heart.

When Louis finally finished speaking Harry was effectively a blubbering mess and his heart had literally turned to mush over how cute this all was. So when Louis asked Harry if he would do him the honour of becoming his husband- there only was one answer. Harry pulled Louis up and pressed his lips against his for a short kiss before looking him straight in the eye and replying quietly;

"Yes, of course I'll marry you Louis."

It was secrets that had torn them apart the first time, but this time there was no secrets there that could tear them apart. This was their forever, and both of them just knew that they would grow old and wrinkly together.

And they had been right. Three years after getting married they adopted a little girl whom they named Scarlet, and two years after that they adopted baby twin boys whom they named Elijah and Aaron. It had been a joint agreement that year to end the band but they remained very good friends still. They all agreed though that in ten years' time they would do a reunion album and a tour and fans were already counting down the days until then which had made them all laugh. They spoke about adopting another child but they eventually agreed that three was enough. The tables had turned around and they couldn't be any happier with each other.

Love really is a funny thing and it has funny ways of showing itself. They had fallen apart once before but right now they knew that nothing could break them apart again. They loved each other, they were married, they were both fathers to three incredible children and most importantly, they both had four best friends to always be there for them.

Chapter Text

Family is so important. It is a very well-known fact but some people either don't realise this or they are too stubborn to realise that without their family they would have lost their ways in life. Of course there are different scenarios which can come into question but at the end of the day family is the one thing everyone needs. Whether that be blood, legal, or just personal. Some families are very tight-knit, some people add to their families via adoption, and some others just consider people they are incredibly close to as family.

Which is why when the news was confirmed that Charlotte Tomlinson had a serious heart problem things took a huge turn for the worst. She was the only girl Johanna had- in fact, she only had two children anyway. In this day and age, it was frowned upon to have less than three children but after the death of her late husband she couldn't bring herself to marry again nor could she bring herself to carry another child. This was possibly why the Tomlinson's were probably the closest tight-knit blood family there is in the Kingdom.

There was a war, many years ago which tore the country apart. Instead of fighting until victory- armies simply separated in an act of peace. From then on what used to be the United Kingdom had split into thirty separate Kingdom's. Each with their own ideologies, government, laws, and royals. Currently it was Desmond Styles who was on the throne although in half a year it would be passed down to his only son. Nobody had ever seen what the Prince looked like, never mind what he was like as a person.

The only reason that people weren't afraid of having a horrible ruler– there have been plenty of those– the family were well loved and treated their subjects and people equally, just with a few barriers. Everyone was paid the same amount of money and everyone was fed well. As long as a miniscule 5% of their earnings went to the crown in order to better the Kingdom. Nobody complained with that as it was fair in almost everyone's eyes. Occasionally King Desmond and Queen Anne would visit hospitals and even orphanages in their spare time and help those who weren't as privileged.

Not many royals will ever do that, and that is what made them loved- because they loved their people and their homeland. It came as a huge blow, the diagnosis that is. It was an even bigger blow when they were told that if Charlotte did not get surgery within the year she would not survive. But Johanna was a single mother and she could not afford such a surgery on her own. This was when she actually considered meeting another man who would love her as well as her children, and maybe have enough to save her beloved daughter's life.

Charlotte was only thirteen, only just beginning her transition from a girl to a woman. She had so much left to live for and it would just be cruel to leave her to die in a bed because nothing could be done. However, there was one other option. Legally, people under the age of eighteen were not permitted to work, and Louis had recently turned eighteen. Johanna was annoyed when he brought the alternative solution up in conversation two weeks after his younger sister's diagnosis but she eventually saw sense in such a serious situation.

This was why Louis was currently walking around the city in search for an advert of any kind which may catch his eye. He would like to find a job in which he enjoyed but if it came down to it, he would happily work cleaning sewers if it meant he might be saving her life. He would do anything for family, even kill someone or sacrifice himself. That was how close he was to his mother and sister. He was close to his father as well but unfortunately he had an unknown illness which claimed him in his sleep ten years ago.

Another reason why he was desperate to help. They couldn't save his dad, but there was hope to save his sister. He strolled into a few shops and even a large business and he was told someone would be sent to his own home with news of whether he qualified for the job. He didn't worry much about that considering Louis had graduated from school a year early with almost perfect grades in every class. His only thing that might fail him is his acidic tongue. It sure got him into trouble all throughout his school years.

He chuckled lightly to himself before continuing on his quest when he spotted two horses with knights on their backs. The people in the street immediately divided down the centre to allow them to pass but Louis was confused- knights only ever came into the city if there was an announcement to be made. Everyone else carried on with their lives but he was intrigued- so he followed. At least he wasn't alone because he spotted a few people cocking their heads in confusion and also walking along to see what the fuss was all about.

They stopped in the exact centre of the city. A perfectly carved circle with a microphone on a raised platform. The two horses were tied up and the two knights walked up to the platform- the rest of the circle quickly filling up with spectators. As if on cue the two knights removed their helmets and a lot of gasps and muttering was heard around. Knight Payne and Knight Horan. The Prince's appointed knights and also his best friends if the rumours were true.

This only meant one thing, they were here about the Prince. Knight Payne stepped up to the microphone and a collective shush echoed everywhere. Louis bit his tongue and held his breath because it was known that interrupting a knight's speech was frowned upon and would result in a punishment. It didn't happen often, but it still did when someone dared to speak their mind when they were not supposed to.

"We do not come with any news; this is simply an announcement on behalf of the royal family. We need to find someone who is willing to privately tutor our Prince."

Louis' ears perked up at this. Normally a royal would not concentrate a lot on education considering their life was already planned out for them the second they were conceived in their mother's womb. It's nice to see people actually relying on possible back-up plans now because not enough people do. Knight Payne stepped aside to let Knight Horan take to the microphone, his strong accent thick as it was known his grandfather made a trade of his life to serve his then enemy. His work was so looked up on that his son was knighted on his sixteenth birthday- and Knight Horan was also knighted at the same age after- if reports are correct- fighting off three seasoned warriors at the same time.

"If you wish to sign up for the job, simply stay behind. From here there will be tests we will put you through to decide whether you are worthy or not. If you are chosen, then yourself and your family will be given your own suite inside of the castle. You will also be rewarded with gold, and a possible title to your name."

More murmuring was heard and now Louis was sold. He knew he was a really smart kid, and in numerous ways. There are more ways to be smart than just through education. Strategy also comes into play, and if he plays this game right- he will be able to save Charlotte's life. The two knights nodded and stepped down a few steps as the centre quickly emptied out. Surprisingly, it was only Louis and a woman who stayed behind. He knows though that a lot of people just don't want to risk being put through a test run by knights.

The woman walked over to him and gave him a small smile before introducing herself as Heather, Louis repeating the gesture as an act of kindness. Johanna always brought him up to be polite no matter the situation he found himself in. The two knights walked over to them, their chain mail making clanging sounds in the process. Red velvet tunics worn on top with a silver tiger emblazoned on the front of the expensive material. Knight Horan gave them both a welcoming smile before handing them a contract to sign for both privacy, and safety reasons.

Louis filled in the form rather quickly and he caught Knight Payne give him a look but it wasn't harsh. He didn't dare speak up first though because he did not want to accidentally offend the young knight especially with the six-foot sword dangling from his hip when Louis was weapon less. Despite being quite small for his age, he used this to his advantage. It meant he was very fast and also very agile. Strength and numbers do not win fights. Of course they help, but in the end it is all down to strategy. He walked home after this and despite Johanna pestering him where he had applied- he wasn't going to tell her. Louis was determined that he was going to get the highest paid job available currently to a commoner.

---

The two knights rode back on their horses a longer way they had come. After all, they were not needed for any meetings so they had a few hours to themselves. Liam and Niall very rarely get time alone together so whenever they do, they make the most of it. After all, they kind of need to do so in order to not be exposed. It wasn't that it was looked down on to not be in a relationship with the opposite sex- far from it. But there are people who will question their loyalty for it so they keep it quiet. The only person who was aware of their relationship was the Prince and Princess.

At least they could both be trusted to keep it a secret. The two of them grew up inside the castle walls under their parent's high position so they had also grown up with both Harry and Gemma. The youngest royals were to some extent siblings to them as well but they never spoke about this out loud just in case of the rare situation of someone getting offended by the proclamation and being expelled from not only the castle- but from the Kingdom.

They both rode down a path that led up to the castle, this one being their favourite because it required riding alongside waterfalls and the wildlife was an incredible sight. Not many people cared for nature now, cared solely for their family and their name- nothing else. Far too many people are prideful now, Liam has come across one-too-many in his short twenty-two years. He was only two weeks older than Niall and it was probably a good thing they were so close in age as it meant they understood each other.

They had spoken their first words days apart, they started walking days apart, they started training at the same time, they were both knighted at the same time, and they admitted their feelings for each other at the same time. They had been together for almost two years and they were actually planning on finally coming out to the Kingdom concerning their love for each other- but neither could deny that it was great fun sneaking around to get the occasional private moment. Whether that simply be for a quick kiss or for something else.

"So what do you think of the two candidates then, Li?"

The slightly older turned around to face his lover before smiling a little bit.

"The woman seemed a really nice person- but the boy. There was something in his eye- "

"Determination."

Liam nodded at Niall's small interruption as the word had slipped his mind previously. The testing wasn't necessarily needed but they considered Harry a little brother they had to protect at all costs and not simply because he is going to be King in a short six months from now. He didn't quite catch the boy's name but he knows someone who is a fighter simply from a glance- and he knew that he was not going to settle for not getting the job. There wasn't even much to the testing, simply a long interview in which the two knights would decide whether they were worthy of the position or not.

"He's got a reason, there is something driving him towards this."

Niall nodded along but Liam knew that he wasn't really listening to what he was saying but instead only agreeing with him. Just as he thought that, he spotted a doe run across the path into the opposite side of the forest which made him smile. It wasn't just the nature that made this route their favourite- this was also where they had shared their first kiss with one another. The first of hundreds of shared affection despite them keeping it quiet. The two rode in silence apart from stealing the occasional peck but they didn't risk anything else out in the open for fear of being caught in the act.

They were both a little apprehensive though for what they would walk in on when they arrived back at the castle. Around an hour before they left, Desmond and Anne had called Harry into their chambers for a private talk. They didn't feel right not calling them by their titles except for Harry but the two monarch's had told them time and time again to not bother with formalities except for in official meetings or introductions. He was never called in for a private meeting on his own- and they both had an inkling what it was about.

Prince Harry was not in a relationship- nor was there anyone he had his eye on. Of course he could easily step up to the throne and take his father's crown on his head on his own but there were people who would not take lightly to this matter. A lot of people believe that the Prince must be married either before his coronation- or shortly after. They never talked about it openly around their friend because they didn't want to upset him in any way as they knew he wanted to wait until the right person came along. Harry did not like rushing into something and instead planning it out a lot beforehand.

Soon, the two knights arrived at the royal stables where the hands took their horses for cleaning and to be fed. The first thing they both did when they had gotten to their own chambers was remove their armour considering they only ever had to wear it either in a fight or for official purposes. Niall let out a loud huff as he peeled the heavy chain mail off of his limbs and changing into a white cotton shirt with black trousers and leather shoes. The older donned similar attire but instead of black he wore brown.

People greeted them as they continued on their quest to find their friend who was more of a little brother to them despite the title separation. They grew up with him since they were babies- literally. At times it was frowned upon for a royal to be so close with someone who was not a royal even if they were of high rank. They didn't need to look far because they spotted the young Prince strolling through the courtyard towards the private gardens at the back of the castle. They both looked at each other silently deciding whether or not to give him space but eventually their curiosity got the better of them and they followed.

The private gardens were a lot grander than the main gardens- even a small maze for the young kids. Lots of flowers arranged in a way that it appeared like a giant prism being bombarded with light and all preened to utmost perfection. Not a single weed littered the pebbled path that weaved throughout the large area. The Prince sat down next to the pond and trailed his fingertips into the water for a split second before looking up at his two closest friends and smiled.

"Hey."

The way he spoke told the two knights that something was definitely on his mind. His voice was already really low and he talked ridiculously slow but even they could tell he wasn't exactly in a cheery mood. Liam reached out and gently touched his shoulder in reassurance.

"What is it your parents wanted to talk to you about?"

The young Prince sighed and tilted his head in a way that told the elder two to sit down. Harry ripped out a single daisy from the grass and gently pulled the petals apart until only the stem was left- a habit he had developed when he was stressed out at a very young age. After all, it was stressful on a young boy knowing he would be taking the throne and hundreds of thousands of people would be looking to him for guidance.

"I'm twenty, going to be King in a little over half a year, and I'm not married. My father has just told not only me but my mother about a betrothal that was on my name to Lady Aaralyn. Apparently the wedding is already arranged and will be in five months- three weeks before my birthday."

It was Niall who made the move first and pulled his friend in for a tight hug which Liam followed with soon after. They of all people knew that Harry was not ready to be married and that he didn't want to be forced into a marriage. He always wanted to fall in love with someone and now that opportunity was being taken away from him. However, nothing could be done now so he had to face up to the matter. At least he was arranged to marry a woman he also grew up with from a young age. He's never had feelings for her and neither has she- but they liked each other simply as people.

"So, how did your quest go on finding a tutor?"

Niall chuckled a little which caused the young Prince to smile lightly. The blonde always wondered why he ever willingly wanted to be properly educated considering he had a job lined up for him the second the Queen found out she was pregnant with him.

"There were two applicants- a woman and a boy. They both seem nice but the boy definitely has a look about him that tells me he isn't going to accept no for an answer."

At this the youngest let out a small chuckle. The three sat there for roughly an hour before deciding to retreat to their own separate chambers. Harry always respected that the secret couple needed some alone time between them. He jumped with a start though at seeing he only had thirty minutes to get ready for dinner. Harry doesn't like having to be so public during normal family moments but unfortunately it came with being a royal and he didn't want to make a bad impression of himself before he even took the throne.

---

Despite Johanna pestering him, Louis would not tell her where he had applied for a job. He didn't want to get their hopes up as it was still a possibility that he might not get one. It had taken her three days of constant questions both direct and indirect before she finally got the hint that he was not going to tell her anything. At least he knew when the testing was going to be for the more unlikely offer. Louis may be a very stubborn character but he knows that the chances of getting a job within the castle is almost impossible so he just has to remain optimistic and just hope for the best.

His mother was working the day he received the letter from the castle alerting him of the impending interview. Nerves kicking in instantly when he read that it was going to be Knight Payne conducting said interview. Surely no person could not be nervous about being berated by a knight. He was not going to let them get the better of him however because there was someone's life on the line here. Himself and Charlotte were very close growing up despite the five-year age gap between the siblings. Of course they had fights but every set of siblings fights surely. They never got bad though, it would always end up in one of them saying something completely ridiculous and then they would be laughing loudly at each other.

Laughter is something he misses. Now most days his little sister stays in her bed getting frailer and frailer. The clock was ticking with her and he knew that if he didn't do something in the next few months she would not make it. This is what kept his nerves from going into overdrive- thinking of her and just how much he loves her. It wouldn't be the same without her. The death of his father struck hard but this would definitely strike harder if the worst did happen. Louis shivered on the spot before pulling on a cotton shirt.

Usually he dresses very casually but he wanted to look somewhat presentable today. After all, it would not do him well to make a fool of himself in front of someone of such a high ranking. The material itched but he bit his tongue and just accepted it. Charlotte was currently at her friend's house and since his mother was at work he had the place to himself. It wasn't a big house, far from it actually but it was big enough for the three people residing under the roof.

If he got this job though then they would be packing up and moving into their own chambers within the castle. He's only ever seen the large building a mere three times in his life considering it was behind a very large gate and could only be seen from certain angles. The royal family like to keep very private and reveal nothing about the Prince or Princess. Nobody knows their names, ages, or what they look like and this unnerved Louis a little bit. After all he didn't want to end up tutoring a self-conceited person.

The streets were rather busy this early afternoon but it was a weekday and businesses were thriving. It was a lovely community he was brought up in where everyone banded together in times of tragedy and also helped each other out if anybody got into any kind of trouble whether it be financial or personal. A few people waved to the eighteen-year-old as he made his way to the outskirts of the town to meet with the knight. He just hoped that he did not have his sword with him because the threatening weapon really set him on edge and he doesn't need any extra nerves on top of the ones he has right now.

The closer he got the sicker he felt but he just kept thinking of his sister and he was suddenly calm again. He needs to keep his sister as his main priority currently above everything else at the moment. People thinned out the further away he got from the bustling centre until only one other person was left standing at the bench and Louis recognised the young knight immediately. He put on his best poker face to hide just how scared he was and walked over.

Knight Payne looked up at him sternly before letting a smile take up his features and gesturing Louis to take a seat. He cannot deny though that he was surprised at his choice of clothing- very casual for a knight. He's used to seeing knights in armour and chain mail with threatening weapons dangling from their bodies. The older appeared to be analysing Louis deeply and he was sure that he was looking directly into his soul the stare was so intense. After a tense minute he shook his head and said;

"There is no need to be scared, Louis is it?"

The younger nodded before backtracking as non-verbal communication was sometimes frowned upon.

"Indeed Knight Payne. My apologies."

The formal words rolled off of his tongue very awkwardly as he was not used to speaking in such a posh manner. Very simple questions were asked and after a few minutes, he finally settled in and opened up a little more. Of course he still held his tongue to a certain extent because he did not want to accidentally insult someone of a much higher rank than he was. It was the final question that caught Louis off guard though;

"My companion Knight Horan observed that you were very determined to get this job- is there a reason for that?"

Louis froze on the spot then and it only took a split second for the knight to know he had hit an incredibly touchy subject. Liam was about to change the question as he didn't want to make him uncomfortable but he didn't get the chance as Louis began speaking;

"It's my sister, sir. She was recently diagnosed with a terminal heart problem that requires an extremely expensive surgery that is too out-with my mother's budget. I wasn't just going to sit back and watch her die- she means far too much to me and I can't lose her."

Liam's heart swelled for the boy in a mixture of sympathy and admiration. There wasn't even a point in him doing this interview considering the other applicant did not turn up for hers so Louis was the only person left. It was still standard protocol though. His reasoning for applying in the first place reminded Liam of a time his own sister was seriously ill but she managed to recover with simple medication- this was not the case for Louis. So the knight ignored all kinds of formalities and image by leaning over and pulling the shorter boy into a tight hug in an act of reassurance.

"You'd better get packing when you get home. You're going to save your sisters life."

The words didn't settle for a few minutes because Louis was too shocked over the fact that a knight was embracing him so warmly. Once they did settle in though his eyes widened before he wrapped his own arms tightly around the older and much more muscular boy whilst muttering 'thank you' over and over again. He was in very high spirits on his walk home but on his way he remembered that he had not told his mother anything concerning him applying to be a private tutor for the Prince nobody knew. How was he going to break this news to her?

It wasn't that it was bad news because it was fantastic news. But his mum had always been attached to their house. It actually belonged to his grandparents but in their will it was left to them. They did have a house but it was a lot smaller- Louis and Charlotte had to share a room all of their lives yet they each got their own room when they moved in. Would they be allowed to keep the house? He hoped so. This job will likely only be temporary considering the Prince will be crowned after his birthday and then all of his time will be dedicated to taking care of the Kingdom the King had passed down to him.

Just as he expected, the second he walked into the house his mum entered the hallway with a stern look on her face. Louis did not want to lie to her so he asked her to sit down and he told her everything. Johanna was shocked of course, but she was incredibly happy for her son. Although, she was even more happy that her only daughter was not going to die from her heart problem after all. Over the next three days the family packed up all of their belongings despite them knowing they were getting their own private chambers within the castle- after all, they needed some sense of familiarity as moving was a stressful time.

Two days later a few carriages approached their modestly sized house which garnered a lot of attention from onlookers considering they had no idea what was going on. Louis really went out of his way to keep his new job a secret because he did not want to be treated as someone special when quite frankly, he was not. Nobody was special. Yes, there were people who were very different from others but at the end of the day everyone was human. He just wants to be seen as Louis Tomlinson and not as the Prince's private tutor.

Louis cannot deny that he was absolutely terrified right now because he was. After all, he had no idea what the Prince was like. There was never any information released on him. He didn't know his name. He didn't know his age. He didn't know what he looked like. Most importantly though, he didn't know what the Prince was actually like. It is very possible he could be someone who looks down on people who are seen as 'commoners' and treat Louis really badly. It was too late now because the family of three were heading up to the castle right now.

Neither Louis or Johanna told Charlotte where they were going because in Johanna's words she wants to 'Princess her daughter up' and Louis had smiled at her. Their lives are going to change drastically from here on out and they just have to keep an open mind. The entire journey, the youngest was asking question after question but nobody would tell her where they were going or why they had to pack their belongings. A good ten minutes later she finally got the message that nobody was going to tell her anything and the rest of the journey, Louis braided her hair into a tight French braid. It was something she practically forced him to learn the first time she ever saw a braid.

Louis had only just finished tying off her hair when they came to a halt. At the family's request they had dark curtains covering all windows from the outside so that Charlotte could not peek. The people who were sent to collect them had just chuckled and agreed with the single request. There is nothing more rewarding than happiness. Happiness was something that didn't show as often over the past few months after Charlotte's diagnosis considering she was now essentially a ticking time bomb.

Not anymore though, Knight Payne had made it clear as day during Louis' interview that his sister was going to survive this heart problem.

The carriage door opened now and a hand gently reached out for Johanna to take and she carefully stepped out as graciously as she could. After all, neither of them wanted to make a bad impression on people who worked directly for King Desmond and Queen Anne. Louis held his hand out in a similar fashion for his sister to take which she did with an odd look before following in their mother's footsteps out of the carriage and onto the castle grounds. Charlotte's eyes widened immediately and right then forgot about her etiquette manners and attacked Louis into a very tight hug and screaming excitedly.

Her reaction pulled quite a few chuckles from the people who were watching them. She spun around to her mother with pleading eyes to ask why they were at the castle but someone bet her to it by walking over and informing he was escorting them to their chambers and that Louis was being asked to meet the Prince in the private gardens. His nerves kicked in again because now he had no other reason to not be nervous. Louis was generally a very friendly person but he does have a very acidic tongue that had gotten him into quite a bit of trouble before. He did not want to make a fool of himself in front of the royal family of all people.

The chambers they were given were incredible- there was no other word to describe them. Rich colours all blending together seamlessly and a pristine marble walkway with a deep purple carpet on either side. Rooms so large that they were probably larger than their house. They had been given space to explore their new home even if it is only temporary. Neither could see themselves ever getting used to such extravagance in their life anyway so while they have it they are going to enjoy it.

Louis chose one of the smaller rooms even though it was easily twenty square feet at the very least and letting his mum and sister take a larger room. They both deserve it. His mum raised the two of them amazingly well along with their father when he was still alive and Charlotte deserved to experience the finer things. Much to his surprise, Louis found that the wardrobe had been filled with clothing already along with a note saying someone would be around to take his exact measurements so everything was a perfect fit. He did not want to make a fool of himself so he pulled on some black trousers with a burgundy top. It was a far cry from what he would normally wear but he wanted to make a good first impression on the Prince.

He was just in time too because there was a light knock on the door and Louis opened it to find a guard standing there. The older scanned his attire before nodding to let the eighteen-year-old know that what he was wearing was acceptable and he escorted Louis throughout the castle until they were near the back. The guard stopped at a fancy gate and told Louis that the Prince was waiting on him inside and they would be private. Well, duh- Louis thought. There would not be a sign saying 'private gardens' if they were not private. Of course he didn't voice this out loud because he did not want to get into any trouble.

For a few minutes he strolled around the path slowly, taking in the grandeur of the place. Everything was expertly placed in a pattern Louis did not recognise but it was clear that someone cared a lot for appearances. The path was made of pebbles and chunks of what he assumed to be quartz crystals. Why was no one here? Was the Prince supposed to come and meet him or was he supposed to go and meet the Prince? Louis did not need to think too much into the matter because he soon came to a large pond with a waterfall feature built into the rock.

A boy was sat there who appeared to be a little older than Louis. Hair falling to almost his shoulders and such a rich shade of chestnut that it did not look natural. Falling in waves and parted deeply to one side. He was wearing similar attire to what Louis was wearing except he was wearing a forest green top instead of burgundy. At first he did not move but after a few awkward seconds he turned to face Louis and smiled a little bit.

"You must be the Louis Tomlinson I've heard so much about from Liam and Niall then."

At first Louis was confused because he did not know anyone with those names but then he remembered it was Knight Payne's and Knight Horan's first names. He nodded a little bit and the Prince seemed to notice just how nervous he was because he stood up and gestured Louis to follow him further down the path. The whole time Louis was trying to calm down his racing heart due to being in the presence of the future King. He was younger than Louis expected him to be that was for sure, and he looked scarily like his Queen mother. He soon realised they were at a field of some sorts with benches lining the path, the two boys sat down on one.

"There's no need to be nervous, Louis. I'm just a normal twenty-year-old. How old are you anyway?"

If anything, Louis was now more nervous but he masked it the best he could.

"I've just turned eighteen your Majesty."

No words were spoken for a few minutes. Normally both are very vocal over certain things but right now it was for different reasons. For Louis, it was because he was simply too scared to accidentally insult the Prince and lose everything before it had even begun. He didn't want to be back to the first square and having to live knowing his sister would likely die in less than a year without this surgery that his mother could not afford on her own. For Harry, his were very different. The young Prince had to force his eyes from growing when he first saw Louis- well, more specifically when he saw just how drop dead gorgeous Louis was.

Caramel coloured hair which looked to be styled to look deliberately messy. Sides slightly shorter than the top yet still with some length. A small beard adorning his jawline along with a moustache above his top lip. Eyes so blue they appeared to hold an entire ocean inside of the iris- yet so deep Harry was sure he could see every single thought running through the younger boy. Facial structure so chiselled that it would make even the most beautiful woman jealous and not a single blemish adorning the skin. Harry had never openly told people because it was seen as offensive for a royal to be attracted to the same sex.

He had accepted that he was attracted to males three years ago although deep down he knows that he knew a long time before then. He never told anyone apart from his sister, Liam, and Niall of his sexual preferences. There have been times when a servant has flashed her breasts at him in an attempt to get into his bed but he was never aroused. The sight of a woman's body did nothing to him and if anything- disgusted him a little. However, the future King cannot be gay because then he cannot have a blood relative. Another reason why Harry did not want to go through with this betrothal and arranged marriage.

It was only a couple of minutes the silence continued but eventually Louis started to ask him questions concerning why he wanted to be properly educated. Well, the younger certainly got a shock when Harry told him that he never wanted to be King. Louis was confused to put it lightly- who wouldn't want to be the highest rank there was available within the Kingdom? He didn't realise he had said this out loud because Harry turned to him before explaining his reasoning;

"It's so much pressure. Over a million people looking to you for guidance and having to essentially tread on eggshells. One wrong move on my part and the Kingdom erupts in chaos. So much responsibility and having to live up to people's expectations even when your heart is not in it to ensure peace. Never really having the chance to go out and explore the world and being cooped up inside the castle grounds your entire life. I've only ever been out of the grounds three times in my life. Once for a gala, once for an engagement party, and once for a meeting with other royals. I want to explore new countries, see different cultures with my own eyes, and I want to marry for love and not appearances. That isn't possible for me though. That is why I don't want to be King, Louis. I don't have a choice though."

To say Louis was stunned would be a huge understatement. He had always assumed that constantly living a life of luxury could never have any cons yet here was the Prince of all people effectively pointing out all of the cons. He'll never know what it is like to explore, he'll never know what it is like to be free, and he'll never know what real love actually is. That one shocked Louis because he must get hundreds of beautiful and wealthy young women thrown his way very often. Any boy of twenty would normally be delighted with that happening unless- oh. His mouth fell open and he looked at the Prince in complete shock.

"You're- "

"Gay?"

Louis was cut off by the older boy with the answer. Now he can understand why Harry does not want to get married. He cannot marry another male without being shunned by a lot of people since he then cannot produce an heir which ultimately means the royal bloodline cannot be carried on. This would not be good for the Kingdom as it essentially means that it is up for the taking and Louis knows that there are other royals within what used to be the United Kingdom who only want land and do not care about their people in the slightest. An uncomfortable silence followed but Louis seized his opportunity to change the topic of conversation to another topic;

"You've only ever been out of the castle grounds three times in your life?"

At this, the young Prince nodded once more. This fact shocked the younger boy because somehow he could not get it into his head that his future King had not even seen his own Kingdom before. He must feel so lonely- although he did not voice this out loud. Essentially being cooped up like a bird inside of a cage and knowing that he cannot just leave since like he had put it previously- over a million people look up to the royal family. Their Kingdom is one of the larger ones within the old country but unlike the others they have never extended nor downsized. The Styles family has only ever cared for their people and not for their appearances although Louis was quick to realise that things aren't all they seem.

"Has nobody ever brought up the topic of you leaving the gates for a few hours? Nobody ever been there to accompany you to make sure you are safe even though no one knows what you look like or your name?"

Again, the slightly older nodded solemnly. Perhaps being a royal is not at all what it is cut out to be. A plan was forming in Louis' mind now but he was not sure how to go about bringing it up to the young Prince without making it seem like he's being treated differently. Despite Louis only knowing him for a miniscule twenty minutes he felt like he had known him for quite some time. In that short time period he had learned to never judge a book by its cover. A tattered cover may hold a hidden diamond, and a stunning cover could hold a story in which staring a brick wall would be more interesting.

"It's Harry."

Louis frowned in confusion now, what was he talking about? The Prince must have noticed his confused expression because he continued;

"My name, it's Harry. Please call me by my given name and not by titles despite it being proper. I don't like feeling out of place and really different from anyone else."

A short chuckle left Louis' mouth now as he tested the royals name on his tongue. Harry Styles, it had a nice ring to it. A plan was beginning to form in his head now concerning his new job because there was nothing in the details that Knight Payne had gone over with him after being told he had been given the role about taking it out of the gates. He would probably need to get permission still from either the Queen or King but it would be best for him to run it across Harry first.

"Why don't I show you around the Kingdom then maybe once a week for these tutoring sessions then?"

A small smile formed on the older which confused Louis but he soon got his answer.

"I thought you were my tutor, not my tour guide."

It took the two of them approximately three seconds before they were both laughing hysterically at one another. It felt really good to laugh now that he thought about it. The last time he ever really laughed had been a long time ago- in fact, he couldn't even remember the last time he had ever laughed like this. Laughing to the point that no sound was escaping his lips and he was gasping for air. Laughing to the point his lungs and ribs ached but even then he couldn't stop. Maybe this was a good idea after all. This job looks like it is going to help him just as much as it is Charlotte.

"I would be very pleased to let you show me around my own Kingdom, Louis."

---

For the next two months this was how everything worked. Harry wanted five days a week private tutoring and Louis used one of those days (normally on the weekend) to take him out of the castle grounds for a while. Of course there was the occasional glare from someone else in the castle but at the end of the day Louis got permission from Queen Anne in order to let her son out for two hours per week. It wasn't much at all but the young boy knew that if anyone even got wind of his name things would not go down well.

After all, nobody even knew what Harry's name was never mind what he was actually like.

It was strange for the Prince, having to suddenly get used to being treated like a normal person for once considering he gets special treatment within the castle. It wasn't that he was spoiled because he wasn't but being a royal means only the best things. It had certainly caused a few chuckles on Louis' part whenever they went out. The first time they went out of the castle there had been an undercover guard with them- Max his name was if Louis recalled correctly considering he was terrible with remembering names.

After the first trip this didn't happen anymore because he was simply there just on the off chance that something happened to the Prince despite the likelihood of that being less than one percent. Nothing bad had ever really happened within the Kingdom- or nothing to worry the locals so nobody ever worried for that. The whole day Louis simply showed him the main places where people spent their daily lives which fascinated the elder greatly despite him remaining relatively quiet the whole time.

Each time they went out, the Queen was a little more lenient and allowed an extra twenty minutes if nothing bad had happened between them so by now they were allowed more than three hours. The tutoring sessions were also going really well and Louis was extremely shocked at just how academic Harry actually was. He had expected him to only know politics and possibly a little on finance considering they are the most needed areas of expertise in order to run a Kingdom. Of course there were many others but schooling wise they were the most needed.

Instead Harry had shocked him with an interest in almost everything apart from sciences- apparently Princess Gemma was the expert in that area. He had to hide a chuckle when Harry told her that she once asked for a vintage chemistry set for her birthday simply for decoration in her bedroom. At first he didn't believe it but Harry just had to prove it to him when his sister went riding one afternoon and sure enough on her chest of drawers was a perfectly set up chemistry set that was covered in rust because it had not been used in a very long time.

There wasn't much Louis could do in teaching him things considering Harry knew a lot of them already from reading numerous books in his private library because of course the crowned Prince has his own private library. Louis had felt very privileged indeed when he was granted access to the large room and instantly the smell of old books and something spicy- perhaps cinnamon- invaded his nostrils. He might not be a big reader per say but he cannot deny that he absolutely loved the scent they gave off either being brand new or old.

At first he didn't notice it, the small skip his heart made in its regular beating pattern. He only really noticed it when he met the Lady that Harry had to marry in just three months from now. Her hair was midnight black and fell to a little below her shoulders, and her face made up to absolute perfection. He watched as the pair interacted from afar and it was his mother who pulled him away to whisper sharply in his ear to not let himself get too close to Harry as she didn't want him to get his heart ultimately broken in the end.

He ignored her comment for a few days but one day he decided to acknowledge it and that was when he noticed that whenever Harry was near his legs felt weak and his breath would hitch. He'd never really taken his sexuality into account before- simply going by the belief that love was love and nothing else. It was something his father had always told him before he had passed on. Louis may have been seven when that tragedy struck within the family but that was the one thing he remembered of his dad the most.

He does miss him, an awful lot. At the same time though he never really got to know him because he was far too interested in running all over the place with his friends and spending very little time with his family. This was a reason he was so close to both Johanna and Charlotte. Secretly he had always felt bad that he never appreciated what was most important in life when he was young and he swore an oath to himself that he would not miss a single second of taking care of two females who have a very special place in his heart.

Louis sure did not expect to hear the news of Charlotte- and it wasn't bad news for once.

It was a complete coincidence, just a simple case of being in the right place at the right time. Very rarely did his sister have the energy to walk around but that day she did. There wasn't much she could do as she couldn't go outside so the entire day she spent learning how to do intricate braids in her hair and learning numerous makeup tricks. Despite her only being thirteen she definitely had a knack for it. That afternoon as she finished an almost impossibly perfect eyeliner wing, Princess Gemma had walked in to offer her some cakes she had been given. The ten-year older woman simply looked at Charlotte and right then asked if she would be her personal makeup artist. His sister had jumped at the chance.

He smiled a little to himself at remembering just how excited she was and the first time he had seen her handiwork in all its glory had been in preparation for Prince Harry's engagement party to the Lady Aaralyn. The name sent a weird feeling running through Louis and he knew that it was jealousy but he knew nothing could happen out of it. It was frowned upon for a royal to date a commoner no matter how much respect they had. Since becoming Harry's private tutor he had certainly earned a lot of respect. There wasn't anything to be jealous over anyway because he knew that Harry would never feel anything more than friendship towards the Lady.

Harry had even assured him a few times despite him not knowing he was doing so. Harry simply assumed he was getting everything off of his chest but secretly it was only telling Louis something else. Despite his mother's warning and him knowing the consequences- he was beginning to fall for the Prince. Two hours before the party had started the Princess was taken to make sure her dress was an absolute perfect fit before she asked to be left alone with the thirteen-year-old. The people who usually dealt with her look wise had given the very young girl a quirk of the brow as if asking her to prove herself silently.

Well, she had definitely done that. Louis knew nothing about makeup considering he never paid any attention to it but even he knew that she had worked wonders with the Princess. She didn't have bad skin at all but face it, everyone is prone to spots and the occasional freckle. Charlotte had managed to give her a flawless face with a glowing finish and also give her a couple of very realistic looking freckles considering they were seen by a lot of people as a sign of beauty. A dark red pout that it appeared to be blood and neutral tones on the eyes with a slight flick at the corner. The whole night Louis watched as people complimented the Princess on her makeup and it made him swell with pride.

Maybe serious problems do end up turning out good. If it weren't for Charlotte falling ill in the way that she had he would never have applied for this job. He wouldn't have met the Prince, they would still be in a house that was only just big enough for the three of them, and Charlotte would not have gotten this incredible opportunity simply from pure coincidence. Her surgery had been scheduled to be in three weeks and he cannot deny he was nervous for it because things could possibly go wrong. If they didn't do anything soon though she would not live to see the end of the year and that was a fact.

Despite him being so happy now considering he had succeeded in his one goal in life which was to protect his family, he cannot deny that he was also beginning to get miserable. Harry had been spending a lot more time with Aaralyn but he still made every single study session and their weekly walk-about but outside of that things had changed. He wasn't sure if he was miserable for himself or if he felt miserable for the Prince considering he will never get the opportunity to discover real love.

Love is something he wants to experience in his life and he thinks that everyone should experience it sometime in their life no matter what they do. No person is perfect, everyone has a flaw. It's just that some people have much bigger flaws that scare a lot of people away.

Perhaps this is why he wasn't surprised when he walked into the wrong room trying to find the main library only to find Knight Payne and Knight Horan in a heated kiss. They had pulled apart very quickly and asked him to remain quiet as they wanted to tell people themselves they were together. Louis simply pretended to zip his lips shut and throwing away the key to assure them their secret was safe with him. That afternoon he saw Harry and his Queen-to-be taking a stroll through the private gardens and an even sharper realisation came to him.

He wasn't falling for the Prince; in fact, he hadn't even fallen for the Prince. It was a lot more than that. This had been the week after his sister's surgery and she had been given the all clear and he had been working there for a little over three months. He realised he was completely and utterly in love with Harry. This wasn't supposed to happen; this wasn't a part of his contract he signed. The whole night he lay awake in bed just thinking of all the scenarios that could come out of this but he didn't know there was someone else having the exact same thoughts a floor above him.

It was a few days after this that there was a drastic change of events within the castle walls.

For one, Charlotte's surgery had been a roaring success and a huge amount of relief washed over everyone. One person who was really affected by the incredible news was Gemma. Despite her only really getting to know the much younger girl only a month prior to then, she had grown to care for her a lot and treated her almost like a sister. That day they celebrated by having a girly day out and Louis just about dropped the books he borrowed when he saw Charlotte had dyed her hair a sea green colour and Gemma had put a tinge of pink through hers.

Luckily the colours were not permanent and would wash out but it had certainly shocked him to nothing else. He always knew she would have done something with her hair but he never expected her to dye it bright green of all colours, why couldn't she do a more natural colour? Because it's Charlotte, she has always lived by the motto of life is too short to not take risks. She of all people knew this despite her now being in the all clear but he knew things were not going to change.

Still, he did not voice his inner feelings until one day, Charlotte had simply pulled him aside as she caught him out of her peripheral vision looking longingly at Harry as he chatted with his fiancé. He couldn't lie then, and within ten minutes everything had been spilled- tears included. She didn't know what to say to him but she did tell him to find a way to take his feelings out- so he started riding.

Louis had always loved the thrill of being on a horses back as the animal galloped. He didn't expect for someone to follow him a specific morning though. This was when he usually chose to go riding considering Harry's tutoring sessions started at noon and the morning breezes felt amazing. He was riding a stunning palomino who was called Buttercup. He found it a weird name for a horse but apparently it was a knight's young daughter who named the mare and nobody could think of a better option so Buttercup it was.

Her blonde coat gleamed whenever the light hit off of it and her white mane always seemed to flow with the wind and today was no different. Or at least not until he heard hooves that were not from his horse. He looked behind him only to see Harry atop his stunning black stallion whom was named Thor- a very fitting name if Louis does say so. He was a very intimidating horse, almost seven feet in height and muscles built so much it was impossible not to admire the beautiful animal's strength.

Harry had caught up to him quickly and slowed Thor down to a gentle canter to be in sync with Louis. The elder simply suggested they take one of the forest trails which Louis was not even aware existed but the second he saw the scenery he knew he would be back. They rode for roughly half an hour before Harry signalled him over to his left. At first he didn't see it, but when he did his eyes widened in shock. They were next to a waterfall, but when he looked closer he saw there was a cave behind the rush of ice cold water.

His eyes widened slightly when Harry pulled some premade sandwiches from a bag that was slung at the side of Thor's saddle. He only blushed when Harry stated he had seen him riding most mornings and decided to join him and also take a miniature picnic along with him. The thought caused a warm and fuzzy feeling to erupt within Louis' stomach at the generous act. Once they had finished their food he watched as a sombre expression coated the young Prince's face. Louis asked what was wrong and Harry sighed deeply in response.

"I don't want to do this, the wedding that is. It's not that I don't love Aaralyn because she's like another sister to me but I cannot love her in any other way. How can I marry someone, have her be my Queen, having to share a bed with her, having to have kids with her when I cannot love her?"

A few tears fell down his cheeks and despite his heart leaping a little, he pushed his feelings for Harry aside and pulled him into a very tight hug and let him cry into his shoulder. He'd only known Harry for four months now but one thing he did notice was that he always bottled everything up inside of him until he quite simply couldn't do it anymore. This was clearly pressuring him immensely but he needs to do what is expected of him and not what he should do for his own sanity.

"At least she's someone you care a lot for, she could be someone you absolutely hate."

At this comment, a small chuckle left Harry's lips and Louis swears the sound is sweet music to his ears. He went quiet again and Louis soon realised his eyes were burning deep into his own as he stated;

"I can't marry her when I love someone else."

Right then, Louis' heart broke on the spot. He might not know of his feelings but it still hurt him massively. It didn't help that his gaze didn't break once as he spoke those words. Maybe if he concentrated more on Harry's body language instead of his words he would have noticed that his hands were placed delicately on either hip and he was dangerously close to him. Their staring match must have only lasted a couple of seconds but it felt like hours. The next thing Louis knew was that Harry's lips were pressed against his own.

At first, he was shocked. Extremely shocked. It took him a fraction of a second to recover and soon one hand was around Harry's back and the other was tangled in his long chestnut locks. So much passion, a fire igniting between the pair, and so many emotions being translated to each other with every little touch. It certainly wasn't a sweet kiss by any means, in fact it was a rather aggressive kiss which Louis was sure would leave a bruise of some kind.

He moaned deeply when Harry pressed his body closer to his and the friction between them increased. It was when he moaned that the older seized the opportunity to gingerly slide his tongue into Louis' mouth and right then Louis swears he is in heaven. His entire body felt floaty but at the same time like he was going to incinerate on the spot. After a few minutes he felt something and clearly Harry did too because he stepped away immediately and fear was written all over his features as if he had only just realised what had happened between them.

Just like that, the young Prince ran out and jumped back onto Thor's back whilst muttering about some kind of meeting that Louis knew wasn't actually happening before riding off into the day. His lips were burning from the kiss and he hissed in pain when he brushed his fingers against the tender area but the physical pain was nothing compared to the emotional pain at being rejected like that. He stood there for a few minutes before he too jumped onto his horses back and started the ride back to the castle willing himself not to cry and hoping some of the swelling on his lips went down before anybody asked questions.

---

It was extremely awkward with tension that afternoon. The King and Queen were chatting excitedly and Gemma was too busy tucking into their delicious meal. It was rare that they have dinner simply as a family but right now Harry would much rather be surrounded by excited chatter. This happens a lot, he feels left out at the table but sadly he has gotten used to it. The entirety of his parent's discussion he wasn't listening in and picked away at his very large roast dinner which was to be followed with an extensive dessert once the family had finished.

Despite there being no tension in the room- it sure felt like there was a lot of tension. A bubble surrounded him and essentially alienating him from everyone and truthfully it was suffocating. Until three months ago he never noticed this but ever since Louis came into his life and seeing the way he interacts with his mother and sister. For most of his life Harry was raised by friends and he's really missed out on a lot. Of course he loves his parents but he wishes they acted like parents to him and not as advisors for when he steps up to take the throne in three months' time.

"What do you think, Harry?"

The youngest looked up at his father who was grinning wide at him. Gemma was just staring at him with an extremely stern look as was his mother, what did he say? The King realised he was too deep into his own thoughts so he repeated what it was he had said;

"The Lord Byron and myself have noticed that yourself and the Lady are getting closer and closer over time, so we have decided to fast forward the wedding and it will be next month instead of two months from now."

At that moment, Harry's heart broke on the spot. He didn't even want to go through with this wedding nor did Aaralyn but their fathers are both dead set on them getting married. He didn't speak a single word and Anne seemed to read every single thought in his mind. So his mother didn't want this for him either but she was ultimately overruled by her husband on the matter.

"No."

The word tumbled out of his mouth very quietly but everyone heard it. Gemma and Anne both gave each other a look before promptly leaving the room because this had to be between the current King and the future King. Desmond was just looking at his son like he had just slid a sword into his ribs at being challenged. He's been contemplating this for a few weeks now but only right at this moment did he realise he really does not want to marry the Lady despite her being like another sister to him.

"I know you don't love her, son. But in time you'll grow to love her like your mother and I did."

His stomach turned inside him and he felt violently sick. His throat was constricting and he could feel the tears building up inside his eyes but he knew he had to remain strong here. He can't marry someone he doesn't love nor can he ever love. Gemma knew and he suspected his Queen mother was aware but his father never paid enough attention to him as he grew up. Harry shook his head now but he still never broke his gaze despite sweat desperate to escape.

"Harry, this is best for you- "

This was when the twenty-year-old stood up from the table and placed his palms onto the solid mahogany. His nostrils were flaring, the green of his eyes flashing, and so much power radiating off of him.

"You know nothing about what is best for me, this is best for my appearance. I don't care about appearances father nor will I ever care about that. I'm not going to marry someone that I have no attraction towards nor will I ever be able to love. Don't tell me that I'll grow to love her like mum and you did because that is not the case for me. You've always put appearances before me and I've only just noticed that very recently. I'll never love the Lady and I've already spoken to her on this matter and she has told me personally that she will never love me as more than a brother. You want to know why I cannot love her, father? I'm not attracted to women- I never have been. Gemma knew, Niall knew, Liam knew, and mum suspected it but never asked me personally. I'm gay, father."

With that the young Prince stormed out of the room leaving the King in stunned silence. Now that his precious son had pointed it out to him- he was never there for him growing up except on important days. His eyes never once wandered over at any woman but he never questioned it. Simply put it down to him not wanting to settle down. For the first time in his life, Desmond realised that he had failed as a father.

It was only when Harry was outside that he let the tears fall, and they were falling very rapidly. Some workers looked at him but thankfully did not ask any questions as he ran up the two flights of stairs to his and Gemma's quarters within the castle. People see tears as a sign of weakness but right now for Harry they were a sign of being too strong for too long. Ever since he was old enough to realise just how important he was to the Kingdom he's been under so much pressure and it has finally bubbled over. Right now he needed a shoulder to cry on and at the moment there was no use in going to his parents so that left Gemma. His sister was shocked when he knocked on her door but when she saw just how upset he was she scooped her baby brother into a very tight hug despite their height difference.

"Gemma, you have to help me."

The older sibling looked up at her much taller brother and cocked her eyebrow up a little and nodding ever so slightly to let him know he could continue. Despite males being more respected as far as royalty is concerned- neither of the two agree with this. They've always believed that everyone should be treated with respect and equality.

"I can't do it. I can't marry her. I just can't do it- "

Harry looked at his sister as his tears started to fall down his cheeks, but he was confused as she still had the exact same look on her face. Gemma reached over and pulled her brother into a tight hug before stating quietly in case there was someone lurking in the shadows;

"You love someone else, and that person is Louis."

At first, he scoffed. Even though he knew it he wasn't ready for other people to know yet. Gemma just crossed her arms and gave him a look and it wasn't long until Harry was crying again. She was shocked but she let him into her own room and ordered him to sit down on her couch until he calmed down. It was clear after a couple of minutes though that this was not happening so instead she did the only thing she could do in this situation- be there for her little brother. Neither sibling was aware of how much time had passed, but if they did they would have noticed it was beginning to get late. Gemma stood up and gave him a stern look which caused her red-eyed little brother to give her a confused look. All she did was point her arm to her door and stating firmly;

"Enough of the crying, Harry. You go out there and you find Louis and tell him how you really feel right now. I'll try and talk to father along with mother out of this arrangement. I don't care if you have to refuse the crown, I want you to be happy and if Louis gives you happiness then that is perfectly fine by me."

At first he shook his head frantically. Fear was building up inside of him because he is sure that Louis absolutely hates him for leaving him the way he did. Despite their kiss being hours ago they were still burning with passion and he desperately wanted to feel that again. Of course he's kissed many people in his life as a lot of twenty year olds have but not once has he been hung out over a single kiss like now. Gemma just stood there with that exact same stern expression on her face despite Harry being the more respected royal of the pair.

"What happened earlier between you two?"

She didn't exactly ask the question kindly but she also didn't ask the question harshly. Whether she was angry at what happened or if she was angry at Harry he wasn't sure. She was always the only person he ever went to when the pressure got too much for him and she would always help him calm down before he had a nervous breakdown of any kind. Harry wishes he could speak to someone else on the matter but he knew that at the moment he couldn't.

"I- I kissed him. I got scared though and I was confused and I ran. I just left him standing there and didn't look back. He probably hates me right now."

The tears turned on once again and Gemma found herself pulling him in so his head was resting in the crook of her neck and not caring that his hot salty tears were staining her very expensive dress. It was now that she realised with a start that this was not just a silly crush and that her little brother was indeed completely in love with Louis. For a long time, she always said that experiencing love was better than not experiencing love but just seeing the way he was breaking apart in her arms told her that this is not always the case.

"I don't know what to tell you, Harry. I still think you should go and find him right now and tell him everything. What I can tell you is that he does not hate you, he looks at you the exact same way you look at him."

For a few minutes he pondered over her advice before he decided there wasn't anything to be scared of. Louis would not have kissed him back if the feelings weren't somewhat reciprocated. As long as he is honest with him then everything should be fine. It won't be easy convincing the King but on this occasion he needs to stand up for himself. After all, in two months he is going to have to look after over a million people and those people will be looking up to him. He wouldn't make a very good King if he did not start fighting his own ground.

So he pulled Gemma in for a tight hug before leaving her bedroom. The first floor of the castle was solely for the people who worked within the walls, the second floor was for the Prince and Princess, and the third floor was for the King and Queen. He knew what room Louis was in and since it was rather late now and people would likely be asleep meant the pair would have peace. His nerves returned as he knocked on the door. Despite this being his own home he felt wrong just walking into a room that belonged to someone else.

A couple of minutes passed and eventually Harry opened the door only to see the room was empty. Where had Louis gone? He wandered around the room before spotting a note saying that he had taken a stroll through the private gardens to clear his head. With that, the Prince pulled on a thick coat and ran out towards the back of the castle and making sure nobody was watching. It wouldn't exactly do him any good to be spotted essentially sneaking out even if it wasn't anything bad he was doing in the first place.

The whole time his heart was hammering away inside of his chest that he felt like it would just explode out of the skin. He wasn't sure if it was down to fear or adrenaline that was causing his body to react in the way that it was but he wasn't sure what else it could be. He wasn't even aware that he was running until he felt his calves burning from not having worked out recently but only one thing was on his mind. Louis. He must have been running for a good ten minutes before he decided to try the maze since it was the only place he hadn't looked for him yet within the gardens.

Whether it was luck or the process of elimination, there Louis was. Standing at the mouth and looking deep into the eight-foot high hedges that winded in a way that only three people knew. The wind was rushing past and making a small whistling noise in the process and Harry could hear soft cries coming from Louis. Right then, his heart tensed and he decided he hated the sound of him crying. Carefully he walked over and sat down beside the younger boy but Louis did not look up.

"Why are you here? I thought you hated me."

The harshness in his tone made Harry realise just how much he had hurt him by running off like a coward. That is what he was though whenever it came to affection or letting people in. He may be brave in a fight but whenever someone wants to get close to him he usually tends to block them out of his mind until they don't bother anymore. Right now though Harry knew that it had to be now that he stopped running away and making the problems bigger- he had to be brave currently.

So he told him absolutely everything. From the first time he ever lay eyes on him, to when he first realised he may have liked him as more than a friend, to actually realising his feelings for Louis, and of course why he had run earlier today after they kissed. To say Louis was shocked would be a massive understatement. A part of his mind was telling him it was a lie but he could hear the way Harry's voice cracked as he spoke and he knew he couldn't just do that on purpose. He was telling the truth, nothing but the truth, and it made Louis fall even more for him.

This happy feeling did not last for long because Louis knew that nothing could come of this. Even if something did it would not end up good for either of them. Louis was not cut out to be a King and Harry was not cut out to simply be a commoner. Their lives were too different and way too many mannerisms were imprinted into their minds that neither could genuinely get used to anything. Never mind that, Harry is being forced to marry the Lady. Don't get Louis wrong though, he doesn't hate Aaralyn. Far from it actually but she is engaged to the person he loves and that fact does not settle well in his stomach.

"My sister is currently speaking to my father, trying to get me out of this arranged marriage."

The words fell from Harry's lips quietly but Louis caught every single word. He felt a weird tightness inside him due to his thoughts having a civil battle with each other trying to decide if this was worth it or not. Do they risk being together and not being accepted or do they risk not trying anything and watching the other fall in love with someone else? It was only now that Louis figured that there was more to it so he asked Harry. After all, the King was dead set on this wedding happening so something must have happened. He'd overheard from a couple of workers that Harry had stormed out of the royal dining hall a few minutes after his mother and sister had. There had been a fight but nobody could make out the muffled words.

"My father and the Lord Byron noted that myself and Aaralyn were spending a lot more time with each other than we normally did and they both took that as a sign that we were actually learning to love each other. So they arranged for the wedding to be next month as opposed to two months from now and I just told him no. That was when my mother and sister left and then it was only us. He tried to tell me that it was best for me but I simply told him that it wasn't and it was only good for my image. Then I just told him straight out that I was gay then left him sitting there at the table. I ran to Gemma after that and that's where I've been the last few hours. Just crying in her room."

The moisture left the younger boys mouth immediately at that. Nobody and he means nobody ever got away with standing up to the King- not even his own family. What did Harry just get himself into? Was he going to be stripped of his titles by saying that or would he just be left alone? Was the wedding still going to go ahead? He sure hoped not. He's watched how Harry acts with his father and they both just seem to respect one another's wishes and don't get in each other's way. Right now that wasn't the case considering Harry had essentially done the one thing that was frowned upon by everyone in the Kingdom- disobey the King.

They both sat in silence once more, or what would be silence apart from the slight whistle in the wind and hearing bushes rustle from rabbits or other small animals. Eventually Harry lightly grabbed Louis' hand which caused the smaller to look at him with a small smile on his face.

"I don't care what happens to me, Louis. If I get stripped of my status I won't mind. If I get banished, then I won't mind. If I get shunned by the people, I won't mind. If I do still need to go through with this wedding though, I want you to know one single thing. And that is I love you Louis Tomlinson. I love you with all of my heart."

Neither boy broke eye contact during the speech and when Harry had finished, Louis gripped his hand tightly to let him know he was exactly the same.

"I love you too, Harry."

Right there in the early hours of the morning, they shared their second kiss although it was decidedly different than their first kiss. The first being full of lust and energy whereas this was just very soft and gentle. Sparks erupted in both of their stomachs at each little touch and it wasn't long until Harry's fingers were seeking purchase in Louis' hair and tangling the strands so tightly around his knuckles they turned white. They pulled apart for a split second to stare deep into their eyes before Harry simply said one word.

"Bedroom."

They both got up off of the grass and made their way back to the castle making sure that they were not seen. It was only a few guards who were stationed outside anyway but they still made sure to stick to the shadows just to be on the safe side. Harry led Louis down a corridor he did not recognise but after a few minutes of thinking they were lost he realised it was a secret passage of some kind and they were soon stood in the centre of Harry's bedroom. Both of their hearts were hammering so much in their chests because they both knew exactly where this was going and neither wanted it to stop.

Eventually their lips found their way back to each other again and within a minute Harry had nudged Louis back onto his extremely big bed and climbed on top only to knot his fingers into his hair once again. Their lips were tingling in a mixture of pain and pleasure but the latter overrode the former massively. On top of that, they both knew that this might possibly be the only time they could show their love for each other and they wanted to make it a night to remember. Harry was sure he would never forget this moment in his life. He may have only realised he loved Louis and didn't just crush on him a matter of days ago but this felt absolutely right. He's never been surer of something in his life before now.

He took his time carefully removing the smaller boy's clothes and he took even longer to remove his own. The whole time during this their lips still never left each other except when they pulled their tops over their heads. Louis lazily swung his arms around Harry's neck now and pulled his face impossibly closer to the point their cheeks were almost touching and their noses were itching from bumping against each other but neither boy cared. Tonight they were simply going to love each other and nothing was going to stop them from doing so.

After a few minutes Harry shimmied over to his bedside cabinet and pulled out a bottle of lube along with a condom which caused the smaller to quirk an eyebrow up at how easily accessed the items they needed were. He knew though that this was the first time Harry had ever gone the whole way with someone just the same as it was for Louis. Yes, they've had their fair share of experiences but neither have actually had sex before now.

Harry gently massaged Louis' exposed bum and gently ran his finger along his crack. Louis shivered underneath the much taller boy in a mixture of nerves and anticipation. He wants this, so much but he cannot deny that he is a little bit scared. His eyes fluttered shut when he felt Harry lick a bold stripe right down his cock which was dripping precum from the tip. The younger knew that he was only teasing him- annoying him so much and he was absolutely loving having him completely at his mercy.

Louis watched carefully as Harry generously covered his fingers in the slippery substance before pressing the pad of his middle finger to his rim. He didn't do anything and kept looking directly at Louis to make sure he was completely sure about this. Neither of them wanted to regret tonight especially since it might be the only night they get together. When the smaller boy nodded Harry gently began to push his finger in and to distract him from the burn he kissed Louis once more. It wasn't painful for him in the slightest but it wasn't comfortable either but he knew that in time he would be begging for more once he is more used to the feeling.

As soon as Harry realised that Louis was not in any pain he slowly pulled his finger out and sliding it back in to let Louis get used to the feeling. Once he was used to this it didn't take long for Harry to be able to slide in a second finger comfortably and finally followed by a third. By now Louis was letting out soft moans and it made Harry's heart flutter that it was because of him that those pleasured noises were falling from Louis' lips. He made sure to softly brush his prostate ever so slightly which caused the smaller to shiver in pleasure.

Eventually, Harry pulled his fingers out and wiped the leftover lube onto the sheets before ripping the small foil packet open with his teeth to remove the condom. They didn't need to use one since both were clean and there was no possibility for an unwanted pregnancy but Harry knew there would be more drag without the latex and he didn't want to hurt Louis. Well, he didn't want to hurt him anymore than necessary. No matter how careful he is Louis will still be in pain by the time morning arrives. Louis carefully sat up and took the condom from Harry and offered to slide it on himself and Harry moaned deeply at feeling Louis' small hands wrap around his thick cock and Louis swears it sounded more like a purr than it did a moan. Louis made sure to coat him in a fair bit of lube before laying back down so his head fell into the plush pillows and Harry was hovering above him.

"Are you sure about this, love?"

Louis nodded from underneath Harry because he was one hundred percent sure he wanted to do this. He wanted to show Harry that he did indeed love him and he wanted Harry to show him how much he loved Louis. So what they were living in the moment and Harry was forcefully engaged- right now it was only them and no one else. It was a good thing the Prince had locked his door behind him so there wouldn't be any unwanted visitors. Harry carefully lined himself up at Louis' prepped rim and stared him directly in the eye before placing his hands on either hip to keep Louis as still as possible. Slowly, he began to sink in.

Louis hissed at the stretch because Harry's fingers did absolutely no justice to how thick he was. Tears built up at the corner of his eyes and he was willing to keep the whimper in. Harry noticed he was obviously in pain and stopped half-way to deeply kiss Louis once again before whispering sweet nothings into his ear and telling him to try and not tense up because it would hurt more if he did. They must have stayed in that position for a good minute but eventually Louis gripped Harry's bulging bicep to let him know he was okay to move again. Harry stalled a little and searched his eyes for any sign of discomfort. When he found none he carefully slid all the way in and bottomed out.

The feeling was absolutely exquisite- fully sheathed in the tight heat and hearing Louis' short gasps. Of course he was still in pain but Harry was doing a wonderful job at distracting him from the initial burn by telling him how much he loved him and the younger has never felt more loved in his life before now. Of course he's experienced love from his mother and sister but not this kind of love. They need to make the most of this time they have because they might not get to do this ever again. They're just going to live for the night before morning comes and they have to go back to pretending they don't love each other- that is if the Princess cannot convince the King to get Harry out of this marriage.

Louis realised now that Harry was asking him if it was ok to move because staying stationary was torturing the older boy but he didn't want to continue without his lover's consent. Their gaze was so strong that both could swear they were looking directly into one another's souls and Louis nodded. Carefully, Harry pulled out until only the tip was still inside of Louis before sliding back in. The pain was still there but it wasn't as bad as it was earlier. The older leaned over at an angle that he could still continue his soft and loving thrusts whilst being able to kiss Louis. He accepted the kiss immediately and it wasn't long until the pain was being overridden with pleasure and soft moans began falling from his lips.

At the same time Harry stopped fighting his deep grunts at the incredible feeling of the tight warmth that was Louis because to him it was unfair that he was enjoying himself and Louis was in pain. That gravelly tone only turned Louis on more and no other feelings but love and admiration was running through his veins currently. Sweat beads were running down Harry's forehead and his lips were just parted as sounds of pleasure left them and this was when he sped up ever so slightly but still keeping a pace that was loving and not simply just sex. After all, they wanted to make love to each other and not just to be a one-time thing that would be forgotten in a few days.

Now that he knew Louis was no longer in pain he slid his hands up his sides and exploring each little curve of his body because he wants to memorise every little bit of him. The way his stomach was slender yet still had a little pudge on the front to the way his waist transitioned to the curve of his hips and the way the muscles in his arms were defined. They weren't that big considering Louis never mastered the art of wielding a sword and instead preferred archery but Harry's arm muscles bulged underneath the skin due to his proficiency in the art that was swordplay. All males were required to master at least one type of weaponry now.

Harry didn't care that Louis didn't have bulging muscles, didn't have a rock solid six pack, and didn't have the most lusted after body. To him he was perfect and he wanted nobody else. Their lips soon found their way to each other again but with one thrust Louis' legs began vibrating and his body jolted ever so slightly which told Harry he had found his prostate. With that he pulled away once more because he wanted to watch Louis as he wrecked him over and over again until he was about to reach orgasm before slowing down once more.

His mouth fell open in an 'o' shape and a long and rather loud moan left his thin lips and Harry was sure he had never heard anything so beautiful sounding in his life before. He was still gasping and his arms were aching from holding himself up so he didn't crush the tiny boy underneath him. He kept a steady pace in his thrusts and Louis was writhing underneath him but not once did their eye contact break. An idea now struck Harry because he knew he wasn't going to be able to hold himself up for much longer so he hesitantly pulled out and flipped them both over so he was now underneath and Louis was on top.

At first Louis was confused and his arse was clenching at wanting to be filled with his Prince's cock once more. Eventually he realised what Harry was doing and he placed one hand on his cheek and the other on his chest before lifting himself up to realign himself. The change of position was a bit awkward at first but eventually Louis found a pace that pleasured them both equally as much. If this was the only time they would get to be together in this way, then he was more than satisfied. Curiously he changed angle just slightly and he had definitely made the right choice when the tip reached his prostate once more.

He aimed for that spot over and over again and it wasn't long until he felt a tightness in his lower stomach. He made little figure eight motions with his hips as he impaled himself on Harry now and rocking ever so slightly. From the way Harry's eyes were occasionally screwing shut and from the way his bottom lip had torn slightly from biting down too hard he knew Harry was also nearing his end. This became his sole goal now and he rapidly sped up the movements of his hips and taking every single inch that was Harry's cock.

It wasn't long until his eyes were also screwing shut and his legs were aching from being in the position he was in but he was not stopping. He was right to do so because the next time he sank down Harry began tugging at his own cock in time with his movements and strangled noises left Louis' mouth now as even more pleasure wracked through him he was surprised he hadn't exploded in ecstasy. It only took another minute before he was seeing stars and his whole body began shaking at the incredible feeling and he could see that Harry was in exactly the same boat as he was.

Even more pleasure was running through his bloodstream now and it only took him one more calculated shift of his hips until his orgasm hit him full force. During so he continued to take Harry's cock with zero hesitation. Harry soon grabbed his hips and stilled him in his movements but Louis figured out why he done so when he felt the condom fill and that was what caused white to spray over his and Harry's chest. Both boys sat in the same position to catch their breaths but eventually Louis pulled himself off of Harry as sensitivity kicked in. The older got off the bed to go into his own bathroom and returning with a wet flannel to clean them both off.

That was how they fell asleep that night- well, technically early morning but neither were caring. Louis curled up in front of Harry with his warm back pressed against his chest. When Louis woke up he was confused at seeing he was not in his own bedroom but then the events of a few hours ago came back to him. He waited for the regret to sink in considering Harry was engaged and he had just had sex with him. It didn't come though. All he felt was relief that his feelings were indeed returned. He also realised now that Harry was not in the bed with him but his side was still warm which meant he wasn't far.

Carefully Louis stood up and hissed at the ache in his bum but it wasn't as bad as it could have been. He knew that Harry tried to be as careful as he could so he would be able to walk when they woke up to evade suspicion. It would not go down well if people got wind of what had happened between them. He pulled on his clothes he was wearing the night before and it wasn't long until Harry walked back into the room with his hair damp telling him he had just taken a shower. At least he had clothes on because Louis knew he would not be able to control himself if he had walked out naked or with only a towel slung around his hips. He walked over slowly with a little wobble in his steps so he was in front of the older boy before gently leaning in for a kiss.

"Whatever happens Louis, I want you to know that it's you I love and not someone else."

He leaned in for another quick kiss before leaving the room and going back to his own and trying to mask that he was in a bit of pain from the castle workers. Harry stayed in his room and quickly stripped his bed and opened his windows to let the fresh air in hoping it would do something about the faint smell of sex from his and Louis' love making. With that he left towards the family dining room but fear was settling inside because he did not want to go through with this wedding at all. Of course he could just demand to not go through with it but in doing so he would need to give up the crown in order to do so. He knew he would struggle to not be in the royal circle since it is all he's ever known.

When he walked in he spotted his father, mother, and sister already sitting there who appeared to be waiting on him to appear. He wasn't late for breakfast, it's just the rest of his family tended to arrive much earlier than normal. Gemma gave him a large smile when he sat down and this caused a good feeling to ripple through him because she wouldn't have smiled like that if something bad was going to happen. Eventually, the King looked to his Queen and smiled at her before turning to face his son- not just his son, but his heir.

"Harry, look at me son."

Cautiously, the twenty-year-old lifted his head to stare deep into his father's hazel eyes, waiting on what he was going to say.

"Son, what you said last night made me think a lot, and I realised something. I've never really been there for you as you grew up- was too occupied with my duties and missed out on a lot. I still look at you and I see you a teenager but you aren't anymore- you're twenty years old and you are definitely old enough to make your own decisions. I had a chat with the Lord Byron and he respects my wishes despite him wanting this for his Lady daughter- but the engagement is cancelled."

Right then, excitement bubbled over in Harry's stomach but he knew there was more coming. Desmond looked to his wife and daughter and nodded to them and they left once more, Gemma giving her little brother a discrete squeeze of the hand to let him know things were going to be alright.

"I realise now son that appearances most certainly do not matter. All that matters to me is that you are happy. I wouldn't be able to forgive myself if I continued with this wedding if your heart was never going to be in it."

It was now that Harry leaned over the table to pull his father into a tight hug. This rarely happens with the two of them- just a normal father and son moment. Most of the time when they speak on their own it is concerning the Kingdom and how to better benefit their people but this was not the case. Desmond smiled into his son's neck before pulling away and giving him a little smile.

"How long have you loved Louis, Harry?"

To say he was shocked would be a huge understatement. He was sure his dad could see that his lips were swollen and it was a good thing he had taken care to cover up his love bites to hide what happened last night. How did he know? The answer hit Harry now and he wasn't sure if he was angry with his sister or relieved that he wouldn't need to tell his father on his own that he felt more than friendship towards his tutor.

"I don't know. I always felt something more than friendship for him but it was quite sudden when I realised that I didn't just have a silly crush on him and I did in fact love him."

His father nodded at him and his eye glinted a little which told Harry that he knew something. The Prince asked him what and soon Desmond took a small sip of his mulled wine (he much preferred the spicy taste to the sweet taste) before telling his son;

"You'd better get to the tailor to get your suit measured up."

Now Harry was confused, didn't his father just tell him moments ago that the wedding was off? Desmond seemed to notice his son's confusion and he said with a small chuckle;

"I said the engagement to you and the Lady was off. The wedding is not off so you had better go and tell your Louis to also get to the tailor as soon as he possibly can."

It only took Harry a second to realise what he meant and soon his legs were scrambling almost comically out of the room and up the stairs towards Louis' room. Workers were looking at him in a mixture of shock and amusement because they all knew he was very clumsy and he was certainly tripping up on a few items that may or may not have been there at all. He didn't even knock on the door and instead burst into the room which startled Louis but Harry's grin was enough to tell him that things had gone well. He yelped when Harry rushed over and promptly picked him up before kissing him deeply and Louis could do nothing but accept the kiss.

"The engagement is off, Louis. I need to get to the royal tailor right now though to see about my suit."

The contradiction in Harry's statement confused Louis. Why would he need to get a suit made if the wedding was off? He got his answer when he noticed that Harry had put him down and had promptly got down onto one knee in front of him and took both of his hands.

"The engagement to the Lady is off, Louis. But the wedding is still on. My sister told my father about us and he is perfectly fine with this. Even though I only told you last night that I loved you and you also told me- I know that is not going to change. So, will you do me the honour of becoming my King, Louis Tomlinson? Will you marry me?"

The smaller boy's eyes widened and before he knew what he was doing he had been nodding. Tears were threatening to spill and soon Harry had stood up and pulled him in for another needy kiss. Harry only pulled apart to apologise for him not having a ring considering this was rather sudden but Louis assured him it was perfectly fine. He yelped when Harry suddenly grabbed his hand and ran through the corridors with his laughter echoing everywhere. The pair got a few strange looks from workers because in their minds the Prince was still engaged to the Lady and here he was running around the castle hand-in-hand with his tutor of all people.

They spent two hours with the royal tailor who had already been informed by Queen Anne of what was happening now and he congratulated the two of them on their upcoming union. Louis winced as pins were inserted into a make-shift suit but he remained surprisingly still which shocked the Prince. Of course he was used to this but he remembers the first time he needed a professional fitting and he could not stand still at all. Afterwards they retreated to Harry's bedroom and Louis blushed at remembering the night before which he still ached from- but he still didn't regret it at all.

They discussed decorations and colour schemes before Louis suddenly jumped at remembering he had not told his mother or Charlotte about his impromptu engagement. Harry accompanied him to explain the entire situation and by the end of it Charlotte was quite literally bouncing from wall to wall and Johanna kept muttering something about her little boy being a King. It was that afternoon that Knight Payne and Knight Horan confirmed to everyone who wasn't aware of their relationship that they were in fact together and rather publicly too.

Niall was so embarrassed by Liam kissing him straight on the lips in the middle of town in front of everyone but they both felt immense relief at no longer needing to hide. By the end of the week their suits had been perfectly tailored- Louis' being a soft blue shade whereas Harry's was a royal blue shade. Quite fitting considering at the moment Harry is the only royal of the pair. Louis felt something weird when he tried on his suit because it probably cost more than his house did as it was made from a mixture of cashmere, velvet, and silk- all three being very expensive materials that very few could afford.

What delighted him the most though was seeing his sister along with Gemma raking through numerous dresses and giggling about becoming sisters. Despite their ten-year age gap they got on exceptionally well with each other. Charlotte's sea green hair had now faded to a pale mint whereas the Princess' had faded completely back to dirty blonde. They broke tradition on their wedding day by extending the invitations to everybody within the city and there had been many whispers among the people considering it was so sudden but Louis had never been surer of something in his life before now.

The day soon came when Louis was walking down the aisle with his uncle's arm looped protectively around his arm considering his own father did not get to see the day his son married. He was wearing a cufflink though- the exact same one that his father had worn the day he married his mother and that was enough to comfort Louis. They had decided to marry in the front gardens that surrounded the castle because the private ones were just that- private. They still wanted to have their own special place. In total over ten thousand people showed up and the food and drinks were flowing quickly but nothing compared to the Prince and his husband.

If Louis thought five months ago he would fall in love and get married, he would have laughed his head off. Yet here he was just after saying 'I do' and his vows to the future King and he himself was going to be King in a little over a month. He'd said for a long time that Charlotte's heart condition was the worst thing that ever happened apart from his father's death but now he knew it was the best thing that ever happened to him.

After all, if it wasn't for her diagnosis- Louis would not have applied to be Prince Harry's tutor. He wouldn't have fallen in love, and he wouldn't have gotten married. Maybe some things really do happen for a reason. Something really bad happening only meaning that something incredible was going to happen in time. All he knew right now though was that he was happier than he had been in a long time.

Best of all though? He had his husband by his side at all times and nothing was going to change that.

Chapter Text

Not many people can recall the exact time they had met their significant other, Harry Styles was an exception. He can remember the exact day- November 17th- that he had met Lauren for the first time. It was difficult for him not to notice the quiet female who always sat beside him in his labs when he was still doing his degree. The first few times he didn’t think anything of it, just thought that was where she liked to sit and Harry didn’t mind because it was nice to have some company even if limited words were spoken between the pair.

He was eighteen at the time and she was seventeen, both only in their first semester of their first year of university. So, they had met young but nothing happened for quite some time. It wasn’t until one afternoon they had decided to partner up against their tutor’s advice and help each other out with a report but making sure they were different enough to not draw any suspicion. As it would turn out whether it was sheer dumb luck or pure coincidence- she was in the flat situated directly above him. Harry was glad that he had decided to study at Oxford and not Harvard despite him getting a place. He didn’t want to be forced to stay in a room with somebody he probably wouldn’t get along with.

He wasn’t antisocial to say, but he wasn’t exactly known around campus. He opted not to join anything that was scheduled out of class and always walked back to his flat after his lectures had finished for the day. Occasionally he would take a walk by a river that was close-by and just sit on the grass and stare out at the beautiful view. Well, something changed between Harry and Lauren those few days that they spent working on that report and by the time Friday had arrived he had asked her on a date. At first, she was hesitant considering she had never been on one before, in fact she had never been with anyone before.

After all, not many people pay attention to tiny people with jet-black hair and thick glasses. Harry liked that she went against the norm of society and accepted herself for who she was, this was what attracted him to her in the first place. The next day couldn’t have taken longer to get there. He didn’t want to dress up too fancy but he also didn’t want to be too casual so instead he decided on a dressier shirt along with his regular black skinny jeans that looked as though they had been painted on. He let his long hair fall in deep waves and made sure to spray some of his favourite cologne on his skin.

Half an hour later he answered a faint knocking on his door only for his jaw to momentarily drop as he took in Lauren. She had ditched her glasses for the night and opted for contact lenses, her slightly more edgy clothing replaced with a feminine dress which showcased her delicate curves that fell to a little above the knee. A pair of black flats adorning her feet to avoid being in pain and her ebony hair messily braided across the back of her head in a diagonal. Very little make-up was on her skin, just her characteristic heavy eyeliner but that was pretty much it. Eventually he collected himself and held his hand out for her to take before leading her out to his car. It wasn’t anything fancy, but it was cheap and didn’t need much diesel to run so he wasn’t in too much debt.

She asked numerous times where they were going but he would not tell her. Instead opting to give her a look every few minutes with a strange glint in his eye before focusing on the road. They had been driving for only twenty minutes or so before Harry had pulled up at an Italian restaurant.

It may have been a bit cliché but Lauren’s heart soared at this. She didn’t exactly have feelings for him yet but she could see herself being with him. Unbeknownst to her, Harry was having the exact same thoughts as she was. The whole night they sipped their fizzy drinks (Harry couldn’t drink since he was driving and she didn’t want him to feel left out) and ate their delicious food before sitting there and chatting like they had known each other for years. As they got up to leave, Harry asked her if she would like to do this again and she immediately nodded. Well, three months later they had been on ten dates in total and this didn’t count the days they spent in their respective flats watching movies and eating junk food considering it was pretty much all they could afford with their student loans.

He can still remember the first time he’d had the courage to close the small gap between their lips and the way that the fireworks seemed to explode within him. That was when he knew that he didn’t just like Lauren, he loved her. Another two months passed before he told her those three little words that held so much meaning to them. When she didn’t say anything, he was sure he could feel his heart break right there but she responded after a moment by kissing him deeply whilst whispering the exact same words back to him. He’s never felt more relieved in his life. That was the first time he took her to his bed and showed her just how much he loved her.

The next year went by very smoothly. Not a single serious argument, only silly ones that seemed as though they were sibling fights. They’d become a lot more known on campus due to their occasional public displays of affection and from the way that people got jealous of their love and wondering themselves if they would meet their true loves here. One day he was strolling down a street when he first saw the gleam in a window he passed by. He turned around and looked in only to see a diamond ring. He’d never thought about it before but now that he was, he realised that he didn’t want Lauren to simply be his girlfriend anymore.

So, Harry walked into the shop to look at some of the rings until his eyes landed on one with three little diamonds on it. It was just flashy enough and wasn’t too shiny- perfect for Lauren. He hissed at seeing the price and he quickly checked on his phone how much money he had in his bank before letting out a sigh of relief that he could afford it if he budgets carefully enough over the next month. The past year he had been working part-time at the weekends for some spare cash. He still bit his tongue when he slid his card into the slot at the £1,500 he had just spent. Not once in his life has he spent that amount of money in one go apart from when he bought his car.

He also paid an extra £10 to have it gift wrapped in a pale lavender box with a silver ribbon tied in a bow. Harry made sure to hide the box in the glove compartment in his car before driving back to his flat considering he opted to remain off campus. The rent worked out to be roughly the same so it was better in his opinion. As he walked in, Lauren was spread out on the couch and he smiled to himself. After making sure she was sound asleep he carefully snuck the bag in with the piece of jewellery that hopefully she would accept before picking her delicate body up. He walked her into his bedroom and lay her down on the mattress and pulled the covers over her before climbing in himself. It wasn’t late, but he cannot deny himself a cuddle with the woman he loves dearly.

The ring sat in Harry’s room for another three weeks. He had told his parents and he had asked her parents for their permission along with asking for ideas. Eventually he decided on a cliché one again. He simply told her to dress a little fancier but not too much that she would look like she was trying to be someone she was not. She knocked on his door two hours later once again with her hair messily braided back, contact lenses in, and this time an impeccable wing drawn on her eyelids. She asked numerous questions as he drove but once again he did not say anything to her in fear of giving anything away. He had the lavender box safely stored in his coat pocket to evade further suspicion.

She let out a small chuckle as Harry parked up outside the exact same restaurant they had their first date. As usual when they went on a date, Harry walked over to her door and helped her out which always caused the short woman to grin at how lucky she got with this kind man. They came here often so it wasn’t too out of the ordinary but Lauren knew by now when her boyfriend was nervous and she could tell he was. She didn’t open her mouth for quite some time and just as she was about to ask he had slid out of their booth and promptly dropped to one knee and holding out a stunning diamond ring. She didn’t even need to hear the words before she was nodding and crying at the same time.

They then both decided to wait until after university to get married. This gave them two years to save up towards a house deposit and enough to have a wedding. Lauren’s parents offered to pay for the honeymoon and after a lot of bribing they both agreed on the kind gesture. Well, two years quickly passed and soon they were both walking around in their graduation clothes both with a 1:1 degree, and with post-grad jobs lined up already. They tied the knot two months later and both swear they have never cried so much happy tears in their lives. Lauren looked incredible in her lace detailed ivory gown and he had looked just as incredible in his black tailored suit. Once they got back from their honeymoon, Harry’s parents offered to pay the extra £1,000 they needed for the deposit on the house they wanted and they snatched it up the second they could.

It was two years later that Lauren first told Harry that she was pregnant and the grin that formed on his face after those words fell from his wife’s mouth he wondered how his face had not split in two. He attended every scan despite him working most of the days but his colleagues understood he was excited about his first child and gave him some leeway in that department. Isabelle was born a week premature and Harry has never felt more in love as he stared at his tiny baby in his wife’s arms. When she fell asleep, he carefully cuddled his little girl to his chest and sung her a lullaby which got her sleeping almost immediately.

By the time that Isabelle was walking and talking, Lauren found out she was expecting again. With their daughter now being two and with their now better positions in their jobs there was plenty of money to spare. At first Harry ignored Lauren’s warning when she told him that this pregnancy felt different than the first and instead joked that it might just be a boy this time. Well, he was right but not completely right. They found out they were having twin boys and Harry was about to faint as this information digested but his smile soon broke through.

This pregnancy was tough on Lauren and the two of them were more than happy for the boys to be here. Even then there was a complicated birth and she eventually had to get booked in for an emergency caesarean but it was so worth it in the end as they each held a twin. Jacob and Kye Styles. It was an unspoken agreement that they didn’t want any more than three children so Lauren asked to have her tubes tied then and there so it couldn’t happen again. Six years quickly passed, six incredible years and Harry couldn’t have been any happier. Well, that was until they began discussing their children’s schooling. Lauren wanted them to go to public school whereas Harry wanted them to go to private school since they had enough money.

“They’ll be singled out, Harry! People will just look at them and think ‘oh, they went to a private school, they will be spoiled rotten’, surely you can see that?”

This fight had been going on for the past hour and Harry was trying his best to stop himself getting angrier as he didn’t want to terrify his wife.

“They won’t be singled out though, they’ll be with other kids too you know.”

Lauren was having none of it. It was a good thing that the kids were out with Gemma for the day and weren’t home to witness this happening. No child should ever witness their parents arguing at all. Only a few more minutes passed before Harry finally closed his mouth and turned around, telling his wife he was going for a drive to clear his head a bit. At first Lauren felt a bit guilty but she wanted her children to have the same upbringing that she had and not in another way. Lauren herself had a cousin who went to a private school and she treated her like dirt because in the elder’s words, people who couldn’t afford private school were scum.

Once Harry was in the car he let out a stressed sigh. They had been arguing about this for quite some time now and it was beginning to get to him. He had even suggested to Lauren that the children remain in public school until they were old enough and then they could decide for themselves what they wanted to do but the thing about his wife was that she was very stubborn. Once she had made her mind up, then it was not changing any time soon. He wasn’t aware of how long exactly he had just sat there doing absolutely nothing but he soon snapped out of whatever trance he was in and slid the keys into the ignition.

He didn’t even know where he was going exactly, he just needed to get away to clear his head. He didn’t want to remain at home with Lauren in case they ended up fighting and he didn’t want his children to see their parents fighting. Harry himself went through a lot of that when he was roughly the same age his own kids are now and he had never forgotten how isolated he had felt as he watched it all play out. It was only now that he noticed a stray tear had fell from his eyes and was slowly rolling down his cheek but he didn’t bother wiping it away. He needs to let his emotions out right now in one way or another.

A lot of people see tears as a weakness when they are a sign of a person being too strong for too long. Harry didn’t know if he had been driving for seconds, minutes, or hours but before he realised he had pulled up at his local bar. He isn’t a drinker but he does enjoy the occasional sip of alcohol like most people but right now he knows that he cannot drink. The place was rather deserted which didn’t surprise Harry as it was still quite early and nobody ever drinks now in the day.

Instead he walked over to the bar and just asked for water which garnered a confused look from the bartender until Harry told him that he was driving and didn’t want to drink. It was a good thing that he was here so early though as it meant he could easily get a table to himself and not be forced to spend time with people he had never met before and would probably never meet again. He took his drink and walked over to a booth that was situated in a far corner as he wanted to be left alone with his thoughts. There just seemed to be a never-ending headache with their marriage now due to this disagreement that the pair had.

Was Lauren right that their kids would be singled out by other kid’s due to them being at a private school? He wasn’t so sure considering he had only met a couple of people in his life who had gone to one. The people he did know were not singled out in any way at all but he could see where Lauren was coming from. Harry didn’t want his children to be treated differently to any other child or to think that they were something that they were not. Neither of them had it easy as they were growing up and they wanted their sons and daughter to understand just how difficult life was. He sipped away on his glass and closed his eyes for a few moments in a futile attempt at sorting his head out. When he opened them, he was surprised to see someone else sitting in the booth and he gave a startled yelp which caused the other man to laugh at his expense.

“I probably should have introduced myself first before inviting myself to sit here. The name’s Louis, Louis Tomlinson.”

Harry blinked a little and gripped his hand albeit warily considering he had never met this man before. The town he lived in was one of those places that was small and everyone knew everyone in some round-a-bout way and he had never heard the name before. Maybe he was just passing through and had stopped for a drink. He gulped a large wad of water down before looking at Louis once again.

“Are you new here? Not heard of you before.”

He nodded to confirm what Harry was thinking and continued;

“Just wanted a change of scenery for a few years, live out of a city to see what it is like. So, I compromised and came to this small town considering there is direct links to a lot of places but is still quiet.”

Harry nodded and a small smile formed on his lips although he wasn’t entirely sure why this was. Again, he took a long sip of his drink and Louis quirked his eyebrow up quizzically at his choice of drink.

“Normally people drink alcohol in bars, not tap water.”

For the first time that day, a small laugh left Harry’s mouth as he nodded in agreement. He normally did enjoy a few pints whenever he went out to a bar but that was usually at night and his children were fast asleep. He wouldn’t drive with alcohol in his system anyway but he didn’t want to get drunk and have his kids see- especially with him and Lauren fighting so much as of late over their children’s future. Just like that, his face dropped in sadness as he absolutely hates arguing with his wife whom he loves to pieces but he saw this as an opportunity that would never arise again and they must take it while it is still a valid option.

“What is it that is troubling you, man whose-name I have yet to be told?”

Harry’s cheeks flushed at these words and he coughed awkwardly to hide his embarrassment at forgetting to tell Louis his name.

“Harry Styles. What’s troubling me is that I have been arguing constantly with my wife recently and it’s not fair on our kids at all. I just needed to get away for a few hours to clear my head a bit and I’m not drinking because I’m driving. I also didn’t want to get drunk because I don’t want my kids to see their parents fighting.”

Louis nodded in understanding although he cannot deny that he felt a bit crushed that Harry was married. Louis was fresh out of university after doing a Masters course and was still looking for work. He wanted to make friends and hopefully meet someone. Well, the first person he had set his eye on was clearly taken but there were plenty of more fish in the sea for him to reel in. Louis had thought that Harry was younger than him, maybe the same age as he was considering he looked young still but that was obviously not the case. Well, that was unless he had been a teenage parent and somehow Louis knew that this wasn’t the situation.

“How old are you? What is it your wife and yourself have been arguing over? How many kids do you have?”

Louis couldn’t stop the numerous questions from leaving his mouth but as soon as he realised that he had essentially been rambling he covered his mouth with one of his hands. Harry let out a small laugh again which felt almost foreign considering the mess his mind was right now but he found himself answering Louis’ question- or questions- anyway;

“I’ve just turned thirty-two a month ago, and I have three children. A daughter called Isabelle who is eight, and twin boys called Jacob and Kye who are both six. My wife and I have been arguing over their schooling. We’ve both got decently paid jobs and we can afford for them to have private schooling and I see it as an opportunity that cannot be passed up. Lauren- my wife- on the other hand firmly believes that they will be singled out because of where they went to school. It’s just getting a bit too much and we’re nowhere near to coming to any kind of compromise on the matter.”

Harry wasn’t sure why he was telling someone he had known for less than an hour all of this, but there was something about him. A little voice that he had in the back of his head telling him to trust Louis. Right now, he needed to let everything out because it became clear once he arrived that simply being on his own was not going to solve the problem at hand. He was surprised that he had not felt his phone buzz in his pocket but he also knew that Lauren respected that he needed time alone. That was probably the great thing about being with her for fourteen years of his life, that they knew each other inside out. They both respected the other needed time alone on certain occasions and this just so happened to be one of those occasions.

Neither were sure how long it had been that they sat there for, just talking over everything. A considerable weight had lifted off Harry’s chest as he spoke more and more. A weight that he knew would probably come back the second he walked into his home to face his wife. All they did know was that the small bar was rapidly filling up with people wanting to have a fun night and that was when Harry realised he should probably be heading home. He bid goodbye to Louis before making his way out, making sure to swap numbers with the younger man. At least he now had somebody who seemed to help him weave through the maze inside of his head and hopefully, himself and Lauren can come to an agreement.

Harry quickly slid back into his car and proceeded to run his fingers through his hair, trying to think what he should tell Lauren over his whereabouts for the past few hours. The kids would all be back home now and this was enough for a smile to break out on his face. If there was one thing that was keeping him sane at this moment in time, it was his three wonderful children. He looked up at his surroundings before shifting the car into gear and pulling out of his parking space. For a minute, he considered taking the longer route home so that he would have more time to himself but he realised that he was just being cowardly. He would have to face her eventually so he may as well get it over and done with.

On his journey, however, it had started raining heavily. He had to squint his eyes to see out of the windscreen. He blinked once before frowning deeply at what he saw. At first, he thought he was just imagining things but it became clear that he was not. Louis was walking along the pavement with his head down in only a thin hoodie which was doing nothing to shield him from the torrential downpour. Dread began to seep into the older man as he came to a stop a few feet ahead of him and called out. Louis jumped at hearing his name but his smile grew once he spotted Harry. He walked over to say some witty comeback but he didn’t have a chance to as Harry asked him to jump inside and he would take him to where he lived.

At first, Louis disagreed. He didn’t want to feel like a burden of some sort but his chattering teeth made it painfully obvious just how cold he was and he didn’t exactly like the idea of walking in this for another thirty minutes. So, he slid into the passenger side, shivering from the cold and dripping water. The younger felt bad as he watched the leather seat get covered but Harry quickly assured him that he didn’t mind. He wasn’t going to let him walk in this under any circumstances. Louis shivered for another reason when Harry put the heating on and directed it towards his feet and his face, causing him to give the older a very relieved look.

Harry asked him where it was that he lived and he had to stop his eyes from bulging as he was told the opposite end of the town, just under a mile from the main streets. Relief washed over him now because he would have felt bad if he had just left him to it. So, Harry quickly drove away once again, squinting his eyes a little bit to see through the thick sheet of water falling from the clouds. The two of them bickered over what to put on the radio but before they knew it, Harry had pulled up outside of Louis’ house that he shared with two other people. It was a lot smaller than his own but he remembered his first house that he had moved into as well not long after he got married. They only bought the house that they currently have because their family was expanding and neither thought it fair that all the kids had to share the same bedroom.

He bid the younger goodnight before turning around towards his own house once again. It was roughly a ten-minute drive to where he lived from where Louis did, but it seemed to pass by in a matter of seconds. Once again, Harry considered trying to stall more time but he eventually decided against it. The more that he puts it off, the more he is going to want to postpone it. He’d may as well get it all over and done with. Once he was inside, he could hear the television in the living room playing which told him exactly where his wife was. There was no way either of the kids were still awake now because both were very strict about them falling asleep no later than 9P.M., he was right in his assumptions because he spotted her ebony hair and her slender frame curled up on the couch.

She turned to face him and a large smile broke out on her face in relief, which caused Harry to momentarily feel elated. She was worried for him because whenever he’d previously had to clear his head for a few hours he was normally back to put the kids to bed. Tonight, had been different and she was extremely glad that he was fine. Over the past few hours, she had been thinking a lot herself and had gotten a few opinions from family members over what is best for their children. Neither of them wanted to fight because that isn’t fair on Isabelle, Jacob, and Kye. Both remember growing up in a household with their own parents arguing constantly and they didn’t want history to repeat itself a generation on.

Lauren asked Harry what exactly it was that he had been doing and he had answered her truthfully. How he had gone to the local bar but didn’t drink, to meeting Louis, and to him taking him home to avoid the horrid weather. Her heart leaped at his generous action and she was once again reminded that this wonderful man was her husband, how she had gotten so lucky she had no idea. She pondered over what exactly to say to him on her decision because she still felt a little guilty over the way that she had blown up at him earlier on in the day. Eventually, Harry walked over and pulled the short woman into a tight hug, breathing in the scent of her raspberry shampoo as he done so.

“I spoke to a few people today, and I’m still not entirely sure about it but I am willing to let the kids try out private schooling. We can put them in for a month and see how they like it. After all, Isabelle has friends in her current school as do the boys.”

Harry quickly assured her that friends are friends. He was certain that their children would easily make new friends wherever they chose to enrol them this year. Until the early hours, that is what they did. They looked online for the closest private schools and calling them up to see if there were any vacancies for another three pupils. Only one got back to them and despite it being in the heart of Manchester, they agreed with it and went to enrol them during their lunch break considering both worked in the city.

---

Just like Harry had told Lauren, their children quickly made a lot of friends and seemed to slot right in with everyone else. She still felt a little awkward about it but she couldn’t deny that they seemed incredibly happy and if they were happy, then she was happy too. There was only one thing that was annoying her now and she knew that Harry probably wouldn’t take too kindly to it. Lauren started work early so she couldn’t take them in the morning which meant that Harry always had to drive them in daily. It was a bit hectic for him considering he had to get them in by 08:40am and he started work at 09:00am, this coupled with the traffic in the city was a logistical nightmare. In her mind, it would probably be a much better idea to move closer to the city or to the city so that their mornings weren’t anywhere near as rushed.

Just like she had assumed, when she brought it up to Harry, he had gone ballistic. He didn’t want to leave Holmes Chapel because it was where he had grown up and that he didn’t want to live in a huge city. He tried his best to assure her but once again, she was being stubborn so he had just shut his mouth and let her get everything out. There wasn’t a point in arguing because Harry could see exactly where it was that she was coming from, it was a bit of a nightmare to make sure that the kids got into school on time and he got to work on time too. He hated the traffic too but he just didn’t want to up and leave his childhood home.

They had lived in the city before, well the outskirts really. It was only a five-minute drive until they were technically in Manchester and neither of them had liked it. They’d gotten used to living in a largely populated area considering they studied in Oxford, but it was different. Everything was a lot quicker, seemed to blend together and it was difficult to take notice of what was going on around them at a specific time. So, they had moved up north again to where he had spent most his life. Lauren had been quick to fall in love with the lifestyle of being in a small town where everyone knew everyone.

So, Harry was annoyed that she was willingly suggesting putting her own and his happiness to the side so that their mornings were not as chaotic. He couldn’t be mad though as she had made a decent point, so he had no other option other than to listen. Lauren finished with her talking not long after this and she looked up at his face, trying to figure out what exactly it was that was going through his mind right now. It wasn’t possible to do so, as Harry’s mind was going into overdrive. Of course, he knew that every married couple has serious fights but they were becoming more frequent and it was getting steadily more difficult to hide it from their children. Neither Harry or Lauren wanted their children to experience what they did at their ages.

Lauren’s dad had walked out on her mum not long after she was born only to turn up at their doorstep when she was seven years old. Her mother had been stern but she also thought it was a good thing that she had a relationship with him for her daughter’s sake. It wasn’t right to force a child away from a parent despite everything that had happened in the past. It was a recipe for disaster, simple as that. He drank a lot and she had watched her parents fight almost every time they were in the same building as each other and it had affected her as it made her feel that she had to pick sides. Something that she did not want to do.

Similar had happened to Harry and it made him sympathise with her because he knew exactly what it was like from his own personal experiences. His mum and dad fought a lot and eventually got a divorce. Each weekend, Harry and his sister would stay at their dads and throughout the rest of the week they stayed with their mum. This arrangement had worked well until something happened- he never did find out what had happened as he was always pushed away and told that he was too young. After this had occurred though, his parents ended up fighting often and eventually Harry just stopped visiting his dad. He regrets it now, but everything had been solved before he had gotten married. Luckily both of their parents agreed to shove their differences aside for them to support their children on such an important day.

Once she had realised that he wasn’t going to say anything, she nodded softly to him- a gesture he knew well. Whenever either needed some space from each other, they would do this before going for a walk somewhere. It was a nice afternoon so Harry just smiled at her to let her know that nothing was going to happen between them. He’d spent fourteen years of his life with Lauren and he wasn’t going to throw that away for a few silly fights that they were having in secret behind their sons and daughter’s backs. She stood up onto her toes and pulled him into a tight hug to which he returned. It was probably a good thing that the two of them had this understanding with each other as it made everything a lot less volatile.

She left soon after, telling Harry that she would call him when she was coming back. He knew that she would be back before their kids got home from his mother’s anyway so he didn’t need to worry about anything. However, once she had left- a feeling overcame him. It was a feeling that he wasn’t accustomed to but he knew exactly what it was. Loneliness. He’d never even felt this as he watched his parents fight constantly, so why was he feeling it now suddenly? It was almost as if a switch had been flicked inside of him and there was no way for him to change it back. Harry looked around the large living room, searching for something that could keep him occupied but he found nothing. Just as he was about to admit defeat, he spotted his phone sitting on the television stand. He didn’t even need to think about whom to call, and soon a slightly higher pitched voice answered the phone;

“Who is this?”

For a second he thought that he had copied the number down wrong but then the voice had registered. Louis had obviously not checked the caller ID when he had answered and that was why he was asking that question. With this, Harry chuckled and it took the younger man a few seconds to finally figure out who it was that was calling him. He asked why he had called and before he could even think about what to say, he had asked him if he wanted to come over for the remainder of the afternoon. At first, he was shocked but he soon asked what his address was and that he would be there as soon as possible. Harry replied quickly before hanging up. For some reason, there was a kind of urge for him to change his clothes to look more presentable but he fought it off- after all, he didn’t need to impress anybody so what was the point? He must have gotten lost in his thoughts for quite a while as a knock on the door startled him. He answered it anyway to see Louis standing there, looking around his large house with a clearly shocked expression.

“I know you said that you and your wife have a good income but holy shit.”

Harry could do nothing but chuckle softly as his cheeks reddened a little bit. He let the small man in and gave him a quick tour around the house. Normally whenever Harry had invited new people into his home he had felt quite open. It was difficult to describe but it was like his entire life had been put into a large book that anyone could read. For some reason, this wasn’t the case. There was something about Louis that calmed him down massively, made him not feel quite so exposed. A lot had been going through his mind recently and it was nice for him to just sit back and relax for a little. Even if it was only for a couple of hours, it was a lot better than nothing. It made him realise that there was no need to stress out over everything.

Louis paused in the main corridor after being shown upstairs as he spotted several pictures hung on the walls. He looked at all of them and a smile formed on his face at what they all were. Each had obviously been set in chronological order so it was almost like a story was being told through the frames. The first one consisted of Harry and who he assumed to be his wife cuddled into each other. From how young they looked, he figured out it had been taken whilst they were still in university. The second was of them once again cuddled tightly together but a small diamond rock was now on her finger. His heart ached a little bit because it was obvious that Harry loved his wife to pieces- not many relationships nowadays are like this.

A smile formed on his face at this thought because it was a wonderful thing to see. Harry was stood behind him and he kept glancing from Louis to the pictures himself, searching for something that he wasn’t sure of yet. The smaller continued to take all of them in. The one after had clearly been the day that the pair had graduated if the black robes and strange hats were anything to go by. The fourth had clearly been taken at their wedding and he tried to ignore the clench in his chest as they were kissing in this one. Harry looked so happy in it and it was almost like a large slap to the face. He knew nothing could ever come of his attraction towards the older man so he wasn’t going to bother in telling him. It was a silly crush, nothing more than that.

However, he could not deny that the next few pictures were nothing short of adorable. There was one of Harry’s wife with her top rolled up to expose her baby bump and Harry’s hands had been placed just a little below her navel. The shot had been taken from the neck down so their faces were not in the picture but he knew that they had both been smiling dazzling at one another when it was taken. There were only five more after this. One of Harry gently cradling who could only be his daughter close to his chest not long after she had been born. He had his little finger gently stroking the baby’s cheek and it was clear to see that he was crying a little bit. It must be an incredible feeling- Louis mused. The surge of love rushing through someone’s veins when they first meet their child.

There was another bump picture after this except his wife had gotten a lovely picture painted over the swollen area. Louis wasn’t sure if it was meant to mean something or if they had just gotten it because it looked nice but he wasn’t going to bother asking. It wasn’t something important and he’d only spoken to Harry once before and he had practically forced Harry to speak with him. It probably wasn’t a good idea for him to just go up and start talking to a complete stranger- he could have very easily have been a murderer or something. Another large smile broke out onto his face at the next which was solely of Harry and his wife holding their new-born sons for the first time. The final two pictures were obviously their first day of school.

That is what this wall was, their milestones. From when they first met, to their engagement, graduation, wedding, and finally their children. Little snapshots from their story of love immortalised onto paper which were hung along the wall of their house in frames. Some people might find it weird that they had done this but neither Harry or Lauren wanted to forget where they had come from and just how they had fallen for each other. A lot of people reminisce solely on memories, but the two of them preferred physical copies of said memories to remind themselves over everything they have gone through.

This caused a ghost of a smile to form on Louis’ face. Despite his small crush on the older man, he couldn’t deny that these pictures were beautiful. Harry clearly loved Lauren in more ways than simply as a wife. He loved her as a person, he loved her as a friend. One day, he hopes he will find somebody who makes him feel the way that Harry feels for Lauren. That kind of love is incredible. It was enough for him to push aside his slowly budding feelings even though he hadn’t known Harry for long at all.

That was the problem with Louis, he always falls too hard and far too quickly. This never ended good for him because anyone he was with was either not ready for an exclusive relationship or they simply weren’t that interested. Every time it happened it hurt him more but he didn’t let people see just how insecure he could be. Harry realised how quiet Louis was being now and turned to face him with a quizzical expression adorning his features. He snapped out of it and gave him a slightly lopsided grin which seemed to fool the older momentarily.

Harry concluded the tour of his house not long after and soon the pair were sitting in the living room, just enjoying the peace and quiet. Normally this was extremely awkward but for some reason this wasn’t the case at this moment in time. Eventually they began talking more and it didn’t take Louis long to realise that Harry was upset over something once again. Hesitantly he asked what it was that was wrong and this only seemed to confirm it to him. Harry’s face almost immediately caved in on itself and his true emotions came to light. Despite it being awkward considering they haven’t known each other for long, Louis leaned over and pulled the older man into a tight hug, making sure to gently apply pressure to the small of his back.

“We had another fight. That’s why she isn’t here.”

A part of Louis’ mind immediately went to a dark place. A voice in the back of his head telling him that Harry was only using him to feel better. The more rational side of him however knew that he wasn’t the kind of person who played with other’s emotions for his own personal gain. He simply needed a shoulder to cry on, a friend to turn to. He felt honoured that he had been the person that Harry had called to do just that.

“What were you fighting over now?”

Harry stayed in that position for a few silent moments, his breathing ragged as if he were trying desperately to hold in his tears. He’s a strong person but even Louis knows that fighting with people that you love dearly is a nasty thing to experience.

“It’s been a bit of a nightmare in the mornings for us. You know, with getting the kids to school on time, me getting to work on time. Lauren manages the local bookshop whereas I work in a law firm in Manchester. Since the kid’s school is in Manchester I drive them in on my way to work. It’s not fun though with rush hour traffic and Lauren brought up the idea of us moving closer to or to the city. We’d lived there before we got this house and we both hated it. I don’t like the fact that she is willing to put her own happiness away so that our days aren’t as rushed.”

Louis frowned a little bit and instead focused on calming Harry down. He’d like to think he was helping but he genuinely didn’t know if he was or not considering they weren’t close yet. He did find it a bit strange however that despite them only meeting not long ago and he was spilling stuff like this to him. Then again, occasionally a person just meets someone that they know they can trust with their life and it was obvious that Louis was that person. He tried his best to think up a way to help calm him down but he couldn’t do that as he could see exactly what Lauren’s point of view was. She simply wanted what was best for her husband and her kids even if it made her unhappy.

Whether it was irony or sheer coincidence, the door soon opened and in walked a woman that Louis recognised from multiple pictures. She was more beautiful in real life than she was on paper. Her hair falling almost to her hips in deep waves, slightly tanned skin as if it had been kissed from the sun, a figure that wasn’t slender yet not curvy either. She wore almost no makeup on her face apart from a pale pink on her plump lips and her eyes were heavily lined with black kohl. She gave him a bit of an odd look as she obviously didn’t recognise him but luckily Harry stepped in to introduce the pair of them;

“Love, this is Louis. The guy I met at the pub not long ago after well, you know. Louis, this is my wife Lauren.”

Her mouth fell open now in understanding and her cheeks tinted slightly red in embarrassment at not knowing his name. She walked over and Louis reached out to shake her hand but she instead pulled him into a tight hug. The gesture certainly caught him off guard but he accepted it anyway. They both pulled away a few seconds later and she gave him a large smile before asking if he wanted to stay for dinner tonight. He was about to refuse but he glanced to Harry who gave him a small smile in reassurance. With that, he nodded his head to let her know that he would.

With that, Lauren moved to the kitchen but on the way, she leaned up to give Harry a gentle kiss. He could deny it all he wanted, but Louis felt his stomach tighten at the move. He didn’t have the right to be jealous anyway. After all, Harry had been married for ten years and had been with Lauren for fourteen. Louis had never been in a committed relationship that passed the five-month mark and he found it extremely difficult. It would be a whole lot harder for someone who had spent almost half of their life with. He chatted with Harry for roughly half an hour before Lauren called the two of them into the kitchen.

At seeing what was on the menu, he almost snorted in amusement. Harry seemed to be the same and the petite woman gave them both an irritated look. Louis remembered Harry saying during one of his oblivious ramblings that he was the cook in the house and it was obvious that was indeed the case. He sat down at the dining table and looked at the clearly store-bought pizzas before deciding on the pepperoni. There were another two kinds- one being a meat feast and the other being vegetable. He still felt Lauren give him a playfully annoyed look and eventually he couldn’t help himself and he burst out laughing. This caused the three people at the table to start laughing uncontrollably as well.

“So, what is it you do then Louis?”

He was caught off guard by the question but he replied truthfully anyway;

“Just now, I’m looking for work. I just finished my Master’s degree in the summer and I moved into a house here with a couple of friends. I’ve got quite a bit saved up but it’s tight now.”

Lauren gave him a small smile in acceptance as she remembered how difficult it was to find a job after herself and Harry completed their education.

“Well, if you want I can speak to the owner at the bookshop for you and see if I can get you a position?”

At first, he didn’t catch on to what she was saying but the second it registered he looked at her with wide eyes. To an extent, he wanted to dislike Lauren considering he has a crush on her husband but he could see exactly why Harry did fall for her so hard. She was an absolute sweetheart. Even though they’ve had disagreements, it wasn’t bad because every couple has had their fair share of disagreements ranging from stupid to serious. He glanced at Harry out the corner of his eyes and his stomach tightened at the large smile that was being directed his way. With that, he looked back at Lauren and managed to stutter out;

“Of course, that would be amazing. Thank you so much, Lauren.”

---

Before he could even breathe it seemed, over a month had gone by. Now that he thinks back on it, he shouldn’t have taken up Lauren’s offer because it was obviously just going to be a recipe for heartbreak. Even though he had a somewhat decent income, it wasn’t quite enough to move into his own place yet. Don’t get him wrong, he gets along with the people he lives with but he was getting sick of having almost no private time to himself. Privacy was the one thing he needed at this moment in time for him to sort out his very mixed emotions.

He had hoped that his slight crush on Harry would have faded as the pair grew closer together but this was not the case at all. They were getting stronger and it was steadily getting more difficult to drag himself out of bed most mornings to go into work. He doesn’t mind the job at all, but it was being faced with Lauren that made it unbearable for him. What made it worse was that he couldn’t bring himself to dislike her because she was a genuinely nice person. But having to constantly see the one person who was standing in the way of his feelings being fulfilled was extremely difficult.

Over the past week though, he had noticed a slight change in the woman. It wouldn’t have been visible to people who didn’t know her or knew her mannerisms well. Louis wasn’t close to her but with spending so much time with her, he had picked up on a few things. Before she enjoyed having time to herself quite often so that she could read in a corner somewhere, this hadn’t happened for a couple of weeks. Instead he had found her constantly doing things from ridiculous to needed, almost as if she was trying to keep herself busy at all costs.

It had been just over a week since he had last seen Harry because he had been hired to represent a young woman in court who was raped by her now ex-fiancé. It was a messy affair and he had been in London as the case played out. He had a feeling in the pit of his stomach though that he was trying to stall time on something and Lauren’s odd behaviour seemed far to coincide with this. He didn’t want to jump to any sorts of conclusions though without getting a reply straight from the horse’s mouth first. So, on his lunch break one afternoon, he finally had enough. He walked over to Lauren who was near the back of the bookshop. She appeared to be arranging some of them in some order along the shelves.

“What’s wrong, Lauren?”

She jumped a little in fright when she heard him speak because she had not been expecting it. She managed to calm down not long after though and turned to face him before darting her gaze elsewhere. Almost as if she were deliberately avoiding all kinds of eye contact. When she didn’t respond, Louis prodded further;

“I’m not stupid, Lauren. I might not know you well but I have noticed that you’ve been off. I won’t tell anyone, you can trust me.”

For a few moments, she didn’t say anything but she eventually seemed to come to some sort of conclusion as she nodded her head. He frowned a little bit but this disappeared when she suggested that they go to Costa and talk it over something to eat and drink. Louis agreed and he quickly grabbed his jacket and wallet before walking to the coffee shop. The good thing about this town being small was that these places were always practically empty. The pair of them sat down at a booth near the window, both secretly loving to people watch on unsuspecting walkers.

“Where do I start?”

She spoke the words quietly and Louis almost missed it. As they processed in his mind though he turned to face her with a concerned look on his face. Despite the barrier that was up between the two of them, he wasn’t going to lie because he had grown to like Lauren. How could he not like her? She was perfect for Harry. Always knowing when he needed a shoulder to cry on, always knew when he needed time alone, always knew what to say to calm him down. Things like that only came with knowing someone for a very long time and caring deeply for that person.

“Don’t start then, just tell me it in summarised form.”

It was difficult for him to say this kind of thing considering he was always someone who wanted to know everything without getting involved with the drama. He knew he probably shouldn’t get involved with this but he could tell that Lauren was about to explode and he didn’t want her to do so in front of either Harry or their three children.

“We’re fighting again, but not stupid fights. Like, they’re millimetres from becoming physical and neither of us believe in any kind of violence.”

Hearing that was like a huge punch to his chest. Having grown to care for the married couple, it was difficult to see them going through such a difficult time. It wasn’t easy to see what seemed like the picture-perfect couple fighting constantly.

“How bad it is?”

Lauren blinked a few times and Louis knew that she was desperately trying to hold in her tears. She was clearly heartbroken over all of this. Silence shrouded the pair of them and it was extremely awkward. Tension was building up that Louis could probably grab a knife and cut a shape into the thick sheet that was surrounding them.

“Very. That’s why he’s staying in London longer than he needs to be. We need a break from each other for a couple of weeks.”

Despite knowing deep down that it was probably something like this going on, it was still difficult to come to terms with. Not everything was as it seemed. In fact, he could see their marriage beginning to crumble. Lauren seemed to be realising this too but she wasn’t a person to give up so she didn’t want to give up on something like this. They’d gone fourteen years of their lives with very minimal fighting so why was it only now that they were fighting so much? Had there just been pent up anger that the pair of them had locked away in the deepest and darkest parts of their minds and they were finally spilling over?

“I don’t know what to do, Louis. We both watched our parents go through fucked up relationships and neither of us want the kids to go through the same thing. I love Harry to pieces. He isn’t just my husband, he’s my best friend and I don’t know what I’d do without him. I don’t know if it’s worth it though to keep fighting in secret behind their backs because it’s not fair but I don’t want them to witness their parents separating.”

Louis could do nothing but nod solemnly at her whilst biting down on his bottom lip hard. There wasn’t much that he could do other than that because he knew that if he tried to comfort her she would only cry and he hated seeing people cry. Even if it was a person he hated, seeing someone reach breaking point was never a nice thing to see. So, he decided that when Harry got back up North that he would ask to spend time with him personally to try and get his side of the story. He had no reason not to believe Lauren but everyone has different points of view. If he couldn’t have Harry, then he wanted Harry to live happily and Lauren gave him that. He had to help them.

---

Louis would have been lying if he denied that a part of his brain was overjoyed about a potential split. It was extremely selfish of him but isn’t everyone a little bit selfish on occasion? Although, he knew that this was something that he shouldn’t be feeling this emotion over, especially because there are children in the mix. Louis himself hadn’t grown up with a father figure and he had seen friends go through their parents divorcing, the end results had not been pretty. Despite this small feeling though (or, he convinced himself that it was small) was nothing compared to watching the love that the pair of them had for their children.

The first time that he had met the three of them, Isabelle had been fascinated with his tattoos. She asked numerous questions but he never told her how he had gotten them, instead telling her that someone with a special pen had drawn them onto his body. It wasn’t exactly a lie to be fair, but he knew that for some kids the idea of blood and needles wasn’t pleasant so he wasn’t going to risk things. The twins were incredibly hyper and were constantly trying to play tricks on their parents and on one occasion, himself.

The memory made him laugh as Jacob had hide behind a door with a plate filed with whipped cream- intending to smack it onto Louis’ face. However, the two boys had not thought over the height situation and instead it had landed in a rather- well, compromising area. Unluckily for him, Lauren had just happened to walk inside at that exact moment and she had broken down into hysterical laughter. It had been roughly a month since Lauren had spilled to him and she hadn’t spoken much about it since. A week after Harry had come back from London, the pair had talked through whatever it was that they were feeling. There didn’t seem to be any problems at this moment in time, but Louis knew deep down that things weren’t as they seemed.

It was only tiny things he spotted, but they were there. Harry and Lauren obviously didn’t want to involve him in on the mess that was their marriage and relationship which he did understood completely. He didn’t necessarily want to become a third wheeler in a sense. He doesn’t like to pick sides either, always wanting to remain somewhere in-between which did cause a few arguments on occasion but that was his view. Everybody was entitled to their own opinion and that was that, there are just some people who refuse to even consider any other view than what they personally believe in.

He had noticed when he had come over one morning that Harry had been sleeping on the couch and Lauren had been sleeping in their bedroom. He had also noticed that they barely spoke around their children with the fear of a fight breaking out. The two of them had been in their kid’s shoes, after all. It wasn’t pleasant watching people who had raised you separate after such a long time. So, since there were much bigger problems going on, he wasn’t going to openly speak about what it was that he was feeling for the eight-year-older man.

Although, over the last couple of days he had noticed these weren’t as prominent. It didn’t take him long to realise that they had worked through whatever it was they were fighting over and were getting their marriage back on track. Deep down, he was happy for them but there was still that niggling voice in the back of his mind trying to convince him otherwise. How long could he keep quiet on it though? Eventually he was going to slip up, that was a definite. Was it maybe just a silly crush or was it something more that he was feeling? That was why one night after all the kids were asleep and Lauren had gone out with her friends for a girl’s night that he indirectly spoke about the situation to Harry;

“Can I ask you something, Harry?”

The older turned in his seat to face the younger, his face holding a quizzical expression on it. Louis seemed to be in deep thought over something but Harry didn’t want to prod in case it was something extremely personal that wasn’t his business. Instead he nodded and frowned as Louis’ face seemed to get even sadder.

“How did you know that you were in love with Lauren?”

The question had caught Harry completely off guard. He had expected for it to be something a lot more sinister than that. He carefully thought over his answer as he stared at something just past Louis that he wasn’t taking in. Just staring at nothing really. It was a habit of his that he had developed when he was younger and it was a habit that he had never broken. Eventually, he sighed a little bit and completely turned around so that he was looking Louis directly in the eye.

“It’s difficult to explain this, Louis. It was just a feeling that I had. It had always been there but as each day of our relationship in the early days went on, it only intensified. A bit like a fire inside of me that seemed to light up when even her name came into conversation, an incredible feeling constantly surrounding me. Whenever I wasn’t with her I constantly thought of her and when we were together we never ran out of things to talk about. Lauren isn’t just my wife, she’s the woman I love with all of my heart, she’s the mother of my children, but most of all, she’s one of my best friends.”

As the words left Harry’s lips, Louis felt his heart break on the spot. There was still a part of him that was telling him that he only had a stupid crush on the eight-year older man. Now however, it was painfully obvious that this crush hadn’t even developed into feelings. How Harry had described his love for his wife was how he felt towards him and it had torn him apart.

“Do you like someone, Louis? Is that why you were asking me that?”

Louis could do nothing but nod. Harry was clueless of course, assumed that it was a woman that Louis had strong feelings for. The younger had never even told him of him being bisexual so that was justified. So, he leaned over and pulled him in for a tight hug, completely oblivious to the change in Louis’ breathing pattern. As he was held, so much warmth travelled through his body to the very tips of his fingers, a warmth that he knew that he had just gotten addicted to in the few seconds that he was in the embrace. He made sure to commit his unique scent to his memory, and he made sure to completely memorise just the way that his arms had felt wrapped around him.

“You need to tell her, Louis. The worst thing that can happen is that she rejects you and if that happens you can come over here and we can goof around. I may not have known you for long but I already feel like I’ve known you for years. Don’t lie to people though; it never ends up well.”

Louis bit his tongue at that statement and instead nodded. It felt wrong to him though because he had just been told not to lie but he didn’t have much more of a choice now. He wasn’t going to barge in between the two of them because that would just be extremely unfair. There were much more important people to think about in this situation than simply himself. So, he had simply replied;

“Aren’t you doing that with your children, right now? You’ve said yourself you don’t want them to go through what you and Lauren did.”

Harry had simply hung his head in shame and the slight shake of his shoulders told Louis that he was crying. It did sting to see him like this but once again, he pushed these thoughts away to be there for his friend. They hadn’t known each other for long at all, yet it certainly did feel like they had known each other for years. Very rarely is a connection like that made with two people who had never knew each other previously and maybe one day, Louis could accept this. Perhaps he would find someone whom he would grew incredibly strong feelings for.

“I just don’t want to give up. We’ve been together for fourteen years, Louis. We’ve grown up together, we’ve done so much. It just feels like it would be a massive waste to just pack it all in.”

Louis could only nod in acceptance. Although, he did offer him some advice on the matter.

“If I were you, Harry. I would rather give up and not lie to your kids instead of holding on and lie to them.”

---

Despite how harsh Louis’ words had been that day, Harry knew that he was correct. It really wasn’t fair that he was doing this. He’s heard numerous people say it both in speech and in other forms that holding onto nothing was easier than letting go. If he was asked a few months prior if he would be feeling these conflicting emotions, he would have shrugged it off and denied it. Now that he was really thinking about it however, he realised that their relationship hadn’t been as strong as it had been previously- especially over the last year.

He also realised that the way that he had described loving Lauren to Louis, he wasn’t really feeling anymore. He still loved her a lot, but he was beginning to realise that he didn’t love her in that way anymore. Still, Harry wasn’t someone to just give up but he knew deep down, that things were not going to get better with them. Louis was right, it would be better to give up now and not have to lie in the long run. It’s really his children that are keeping him level-headed at this moment. He had to think about them, not himself nor Lauren.

That was why over the past week he had been speaking more to Louis. Lauren simply assumed that he was going through something and he wanted someone apart from her to seek comfort in. Normally this would irritate a partner but because she was so understanding over her husband’s personality, she was fine with it. It was a harsh decision for him to make, but Harry knew that sooner or later he had to talk to her without anyone there to influence them.

Unfortunately, the timing was off. In a month, it would be their fifteenth anniversary together. Isabelle had just turned nine a few days prior and Harry didn’t want to bring it up then. Once again, Louis was right. The more he was putting it off, it was only becoming harder to come to terms with. There was still a small chance of them repairing their relationship, but he couldn’t keep a secret like this. Not just because Lauren is his wife and she’s the mother of his children, but because she was one of his best friends and she was a rock for him when he was going through a tough time.

Harry had gotten home from work earlier than usual that day, he was home by 5pm whereas he usually wasn’t home until 7pm. They didn’t need someone to babysit the kids since Harry didn’t work weekends and his parents were more than happy to look after them when they weren’t in school. On top of that, they had plenty of friends that they spent time with. This was one of those days and he finally decided that he was going to talk to her about the way that he was feeling about their marriage.

Most days they only made something quick to eat but he wanted to treat Lauren tonight. For the past hour, he had been rushing around the kitchen, making sure nothing was burning and was on track for her arriving home. He had gotten his timing pretty much exact because as soon as he had placed the first course on the dining table, she walked inside. Almost immediately, a small shriek of excitement escaped her before she skipped over to him and leaned up to give him a peck on the cheek.

Normally whenever she done this, butterflies erupted in his stomach, but instead his stomach clenched. Whether it was out of nerves or because he found himself slowly falling out of love with the woman he married eleven years prior, he really wasn’t sure. Twenty minutes later she came back downstairs after saying something along the lines of looking more presentable. This made him chuckle lightly. She’d changed into black skinny jeans, a tank top with a multicoloured kimono on top, her dark hair tied back in a slick ponytail, and of course her characteristic heavy eyeliner.

For the starter, Harry had made pea and ham soup along with a couple of slices of garlic bread. It might have been simple but the complexity of a dish wasn’t what mattered to a lot of people, all that mattered was the thought behind it. For the main he had been a lot more adventurous. Salt and pepper chilli chicken, steamed green vegetables, all on a bed of curried rice. Harry didn’t cook often considering he normally didn’t get home until after Lauren, so the table was usually set beforehand. So, he was very proud of himself at getting everything correct. Finally, for dessert, he’d made a rich chocolate sponge that once it was cut in to, a mixture of salted caramel and hot fudge sauce spilled out.

The pair both ate in comfortable silence. So many people see silence as awkward which both Harry and Lauren would agree was occasionally correct, but there were so many times this wasn’t the case. This was one of those times because they were too busy eating their delicious food to do anything else. By the time they had finished, half the cake was left and bits of chocolate sponge were covering their chins. Harry laughed a little as an idea came to mind but it also seemed she had the same idea. Luckily, he managed to dodge her hand when she grabbed a chunk of leftovers which was intending to smack on his face.

Laughter boomed between them, neither remembering the last time they’d been so silly with each other. Ever since they’d gotten steady jobs and having children to take care of, the times were incredibly rare. So, they cherished moments like this in their memories to be remembered for eternity. But then his mind wandered to what it was he wanted to say and just like that, his laughter stopped and a sad expression took over his facial features. It didn’t take Lauren long to spot and she gestured him to the living room where they both sat on the couch, her staring at him, waiting on him to speak.

“What’s bothering you, love?”

A choked sob escaped him now but he covered it up quickly, not wanting to cry in front of her. He always refused to cry in front of Lauren unless he absolutely could not hold it in. this was because she always got teary eyes and then he felt awful afterwards.

“I don’t know, Lauren. I just don’t know.”

She frowned a little bit and leaned him over to pull him in for a tight hug, rubbing his back just slightly to let him know that she was going to listen.

“I’m so sorry, but I can’t keep ignoring it. I’ve been feeling it for a couple of months now ever since we started fighting often. I really don’t know what changed- “

“Harry, you’re talking in circles, but I think I know what you’re getting at.”

His lip wobbled slightly and that was when he finally let his outer shell crack and for the first time in over a year, he openly cried in front of her. Hot salty tears running down his cheeks and into his mouth, his hand placed over his mouth as he tried to keep the sobs that were desperate to escape at bay.

“We’ve been together for almost fifteen years, Lauren. How has it come to this? When we are speaking, we’re arguing, and when we aren’t speaking, we’re alright. I can’t keep lying to myself anymore. I’m just going to say it and I hope that you don’t hate me.”

As he said this, she closed hr eyes, tears threatening to spill from her eyes. She could never be mad at him, not truly anyway. Especially over something like this because that would just be extremely hypocritical. She herself had been feeling like this but just didn’t want to speak about it, tried to push the thoughts away and convincing herself otherwise.

“I love you to pieces, Lauren, but I don’t think I’m in love with you anymore. I’m so, so sorry. I can’t keep it in anymore because I don’t want to lie to you and I especially don’t want to lie to Izzy, Kye, or Jacob. I don’t want them going through what we did.”

All that Lauren could do was nod, with huge amounts of relief washing through her.

“I don’t hate you, Harry. I could never hate you. There’s nothing to be sorry about because truthfully, I’ve been feeling the same with you. I love you with all my heart, but I’ve been convincing myself over the past few months that I still love you in that way. Things haven’t been working for a while, we both know it. We also can’t ignore it for the sake of our children.”

Harry hadn’t expected that response in the slightest. After he spoke, he swore he would be able to hear a pin drop at how quiet it had gotten but somehow, hearing her reply with a similar realisation had brought on a huge wave of relief. Neither knew what was going to happen, they had to speak to do that. Another perk to being together for so long, they could talk about anything and everything with each other.

“So, what happens now? Do we try and move past this? Do we separate for a bit to see if things change? Or do we just give it up?”

He had spoken the three questions in quick succession, not really paying much attention to the words coming from his mouth. So many built up emotions were spilling now and he was finding it difficult being so raw and open. Harry wasn’t an introvert to say, the complete opposite, but he found it extremely difficult to trust people.

“I don’t want to give up just yet, and I know deep down you don’t either Harry. But at the same time, we can’t be together like this because all we’re doing recently is fight and it’s only making things worse. I think we need to take a break from each other. Give it three weeks or so and then we can speak about this.”

From beside her, Harry nodded lightly because he felt that was their best option currently. So that night, he packed a small suitcase up and he called Louis to ask if he had room. He could have gone to his parents but he didn’t want questions, and he just wanted to be with a good friend through a tough time like this. The younger replied within twenty minutes by saying he had a blow-up mattress and they also had a large couch in their house.

It was only once he was in his car that it struck him. Both himself and Lauren were speaking amicably with one another over something incredibly serious. It was an odd realisation, considering the numerous fights they’ve had over ridiculous things. The drive didn’t last very long and it was only just beginning to get dark. That wasn’t surprising considering now it was only 8pm. It felt a lot later than that.

He knocked on the door to be polite and one of Louis’ housemates answered the door. They’d spoken a few times whenever he came over but they hadn’t had a chance to get to know each other, so he was a bit shocked to see the older there with a suitcase in hand. Lucas was his name, and he directed Harry upstairs to his friend’s bedroom where he assumed he was going to be sleeping.

As soon as he was inside, he let out a small chuckle at the blow-up mattress. He hadn’t used one of those in years, in fact, he was probably still a teenager himself when he had last slept on one. He did have a few for when the kids had sleepovers but that wasn’t the same thing. Harry had only been in Louis’ bedroom a handful of times but every time the simplicity took him off guard.

He jumped a little when the door opened and in walked Louis with his hair soaking wet and nothing but a towel covering his lower half. Louis clearly hadn’t expected Harry to have arrived yet because he jumped in fright which caused the towel to shift just slightly to expose a tiny part of his dick. Harry looked away immediately in embarrassment and he felt his face flush at seeing that.

At least he wasn’t the only one who was very embarrassed because Louis quickly pulled on a pair of tracksuit bottoms and proceeded to throw the towel in the washing basket he kept in his room. However, he didn’t bother with a shirt and for some reason, Harry found himself staring at Louis’ tattooed chest. He knew he had plenty of ink like himself but seeing it was something else. His cheeks were still slightly flushes which confused Harry but he put it down to partially seeing Louis naked.

“So, what happened between you both?”

The shorter plopped himself down at the foot of his bed, staring at the older man with a quizzical expression. Harry sighed lightly before sitting down on the makeshift bed and looked to his clasped hands. Subconsciously he began knotting his fingers together.

“I just told her, simple as that. It’s difficult to say something when you don’t even know what you’re feeling. I love her to pieces but I honestly don’t think I’m in love with her anymore. I told her this and much to my surprise she’s been feeling the same way over the last few months. So, then we spoke about what we were going to do. We’ve decided to take a break for about three weeks from each other, then come to a solid conclusion. We’re not divorcing but we’re not together either. It’s weird and I don’t know how to feel right now. All I know is that I can’t pretend to my children anymore.”

Louis could do nothing but give him a tiny smile. Deep down, he did feel guilty for essentially forcing the realisation on Harry but he was also relieved to have done it. After all, if he hadn’t said what he had, Harry and Lauren would have tried to get over everything and move on, pretending everything was alright between them when it really wasn’t.

“How are you feeling about it all?2

That seemed a decent enough question to ask him. Louis had no idea how he was handling everything, he didn’t want to mention Lauren or Harry’s children. Harry sighed a little bit as the question sunk in, thinking to himself. What was he feeling about all of this?

“I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. A part of me is glad that if our marriage doesn’t work out we’ll be on very good terms. A part of me is sad because I’ve spent nearly fifteen years of my life with her. I’m angry at myself for not trying harder and I’m also relieved that I’m not lying to my children anymore about the picture-perfect family.”

The younger nodded his way to indicate he knew exactly what he was thinking without going into more detail. He understood why he had called him and not someone else or a family member. He wanted someone who hadn’t been there to witness the good times the couple had gone through, and Louis was that person. A knock on the door startled the pair and they looked up to see Xander who was looking at them weirdly.

He asked what they were going to eat and Harry finally realised that he was essentially burdening them. With the thought in mind, he grabbed his phone and stated that since he was going to be staying here for a couple of weeks, he’s treat them all to a takeaway, and help with bills. Xander shook his head in the negative at the second proposal but he called Lucas to ask what he wanted. After a lot of yelling from room to room, they agreed on Chinese and Harry ordered everything they asked for, saying he would pay for it.

It took roughly thirty minutes for their food to arrive and the aroma filled their nostrils. Louis walked into the kitchen to get four plated along with cutlery before sitting down at the dining table. Despite Harry being hungry, somehow the thought of food disgusted him. He rarely ever got like this, but it always happened when he was going through a lot of different clashing emotions. What made it worse was that he was horrible at hiding his emotions, and Louis’ housemates were sending him quizzical glances. They knew of Harry, but they didn’t know what was going on. Also, this was their house and to them he was a stranger. Roughly half way through his meal, he looked at the pair who quickly tried to look elsewhere but they were too late.

“It’s ok, guys. I’m a stranger to you both and we’ve only spoken a handful of times. I’m just going through a lot of family things and it’s not fair for me to have my kids around to witness it.”

They both nodded at the very summarised version had been going on. However, Harry caught Xander giving both him and Louis a strange look before he shrugged to himself and continued eating. Small talk was made during this but there wasn’t much to be said. It was getting late now, nearing 11pm, and Harry was so glad that it was a Friday. He had taken the car and he didn’t feel like getting up at stupid-o-clock to get the kids to school and get himself to work on time.

The next couple of days went by like this, and Harry was beginning to miss his home life. It was obvious that there was no hope for him to save his marriage because he wasn’t going to force himself to love her in a way that he quite simply didn’t anymore.

It was when Monday arrived that it finally seemed to sink in. he had woken up ridiculously early along with Louis’ housemate Xander who had to make a morning commute. The twenty-six year old unlike his friends, had stayed on to do PhD and he was in his final year of doing so. So, whilst the other two males were asleep upstairs, they were eating and trying to wake up. If there was one thing Harry hated about being a lawyer, it was the ridiculously early mornings.

It certainly didn’t help that he still had to do the school run, glad his mum had offered to look after the children whilst him and Lauren were going through their somewhat separation. He hasn’t explained anything yet to her and he knew that it was coming, he just needed a few days to himself to sort his thoughts out first. At 7:30am on the dot, they both climbed into Harry’s car, Xander happy that he didn’t need to fight for a seat on a train.

When Harry pulled up to his parents, he was greeted with the front door opening before he even got out the vehicle, and his nine-year-old daughter barrelling into his arms. From the yelling coming from the hall, he shook his head in amusement, already knowing his boisterous boys were being difficult like they were most mornings.

“Jacob, Kye, hurry up or you aren’t getting McDonalds on the way home!”

It was comical how quickly his boys appeared, completely ignoring their dad and buckling themselves into the backseat. Harry shook his head with a smile on his face before bidding his mum goodbye and getting back into his car. Xander was laughing a lot at the exchange between father and sons. It was his weapon of choice to get his boys to listen to him, threaten them without their favourite place to get food.

The drive into the city took roughly forty minutes and it was a further ten to get to the kid’s school. He dropped them off very soon after with plenty of hugs and kisses, and his sons begging to still go to McDonalds because they were good boys. He rolled his eyes playfully and promised them before meeting Xander once again.

“Your boys are hilarious, how old are they?”

Harry laughed merrily at the way Xander was still chuckling under his breath.

“They’re six, my daughter is nine. My boys are pranksters. In fact, Louis became victim once when they attempted to smack a plate covered in cream on his face, but didn’t think out the height thing. I think you can guess where it landed.”

It took Xander approximately half a second before he was howling with laughter. His friend had not told him that and he knew he was going to tell Lucas as well when he got home so they could irritate him together about it. That was until he realised that they were closer than he thought and he knew of Louis’ feelings for the older man. His eyes moving discretely to see the gold of his wedding ring standing out against the black leather of the steering wheel.

“I didn’t know that Louis had met your children.”

At hearing those words, Harry’s eyebrows creased in confusion. Had he not told them? Then again though, it was a bit odd to tell someone you got along with a friend’s children. Xander however, was thinking something else entirely and he desperately needed to speak to Louis.

“Has he told you anything personal?”

Harry hummed a little as he took the turn that led towards the university, trying to think of an answer to the question.

“Yeah actually, he told me not long ago that he’s got feelings for some girl but he doesn’t want to tell her.”

Xander choked on his saliva at the statement which caused the older to give him a weird look in the rear-view mirror.

“Um, Harry, it’s not a girl he has feelings for. Louis’ bisexual.”

At hearing the word leave the seven-year-younger man, he almost slammed on the breaks but there was no point in doing so as he was now just a few yards from Xander’s building. He pulled up onto a part of the kerb that wasn’t marked with double yellow lines before turning to him.

“He what? He’s bisexual?”

The younger just looked as if he had said something that was supposed to be a huge secret. Harry however, felt hurt that his close friend couldn’t tell him his sexuality. Yes, Xander needed to speak with Louis and soon at that.

It was late that night when Xander finally managed to get to Louis. Lucas had gone out somewhere and Harry was with his parents, explaining everything to his mum. When the oldest picked up Xander from his classes, it was weird in the car. It was even weirder when he picked his children up from after school activities and getting his boys their beloved McDonalds. They just weren’t speaking, and the silence was deafening.

Right now, since the house was quiet and would be for at least another hour considering Harry had left thirty minutes prior. Wanting to make sure his children were all asleep before saying anything in case they overheard. If he and Lauren can’t figure things out between them, it’s going to be a joint thing when they tell them. Neither felt like cooking so they ordered Chinese. Once they finished, Xander gently gripped Louis’ arm and gave him a look.

“You never told him you’re bi, he thinks it’s a girl when it’s actually him.”

Within seconds, he was crying. The slightly older felt horrible about putting it so bluntly but it was the easiest way to get to Louis. He bit his lip as he carefully thought the situation through.

“Louis, I don’t think it’s wise that you’re letting him stay here when he’s completely oblivious. It’s clearly hurting you seeing him here.”

The younger shook his head.

“No Xander, he’s only going to be here for another fortnight. I can handle that.”

He closed his eyes and breathed deeply, accepting defeat with a grunt. Louis was stubborn and once his mind was made up there was nothing changing that. A fight was something he did not want to get into at this moment in time.

“What if they work things out between them, Louis? Have you even considered that? I’ll leave you alone just now but you really should think about the bigger picture. After all, there are three innocent children involved.”

Louis left promptly after that, claiming he had to clear his head. Lucas had overheard the entire exchange and he practically forced Xander to tell him everything. At first, he hesitated because Harry could walk through the door at any second. Things didn’t need to be any more awkward than they already were. So, he directed him to the back room of the house where he gave him a summary of everything.

It was a good thing he had done so because only a few moments after he had stopped talking, the eldest’s heavy footsteps echoed through the house. These few days that he had been staying with them had certainly created a bond of some kind with them. Would they consider him a friend? No. Perhaps soon though that would be the case. But first Louis needs to come clean over his feelings and they need to wait to see what will happen with Harry and Lauren.

He asked where Louis was and Xander shrugged his shoulders, simply saying that he had probably went to his parents for the night. He watched carefully for his reaction and he was glad that he did. There was a tiny sparkle in his eyes that disappeared when he heard this, and his body visibly slumped in hurt. So, it wasn’t one-sided. Deep down, Harry clearly felt something for Louis but he probably hasn’t realised himself yet. That was to be expected though, he’s been married for a decade to a woman and has three children with her.

“So, how did your mum take it?”

The eldest bit his lip but both housemates were taken aback at his body language. They had both expected to see him be really upset, but instead there was only acceptance.

“At first, she was surprised. But as soon as she realised that it’s a two-way street with myself and Lauren, she understood. Honestly, I think we both know our marriage is over. I do love her to pieces, but only as a friend now. And she’s already told me the same. It’s not even the idea of divorcing that bothers me, it’s losing our entire relationship. I’ve been with Lauren since I was eighteen and now I’m thirty-three, that’s basically throwing fifteen years of my life down the drain.”

Louis didn’t come home that night, which both his housemates thought would happen. they knew that whenever he was faced with truth, he always went away for a bit to clear his head. This time though that wasn’t going to be the case because the one thing on his mind was something he would probably never get. The two eldest repeated the exact same morning routine but this time Harry made sure there was no McDonalds in sight. He doesn’t want his kids growing up being handed over everything they want.

Both their days were boring but when they got home, they saw Louis through the window. Harry’s stomach done a small flip which caused him to frown, what was that? He shook it off however and stepped inside. The second he looked in to those bright blue eyes, the hurt came back, feeling betrayed that he couldn’t tell him something like that. Yes, they haven’t known each other for long but time doesn’t define a friendship. Both Xander and Lucas left the room, sensing they needed to be left alone at this moment in time.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

Louis at least had the decency to show his true emotions. The guilt being prominent in his facial features.

“Honestly, I don’t know. I know it isn’t what you want to hear, Harry, but I really don’t have an answer to that question.”

He had dozens of questions swirling around in his head but he saw just how awkward Louis was currently and with that, he simply walked over and gave him a tight hug. Missing the change in Louis’ breathing pattern. It was getting harder to hide what he felt for the older man, but he had to keep it together. As Xander had said, there are three innocent children involved. Louis knows how messy divorces can get, especially when there are kids in the picture. It was probably a good thing that Harry and Lauren were going about it in the way that they were because it meant they were on the same page with one another. If they do separate, they’re going to be on great terms with one another and no variation of point scoring will be in play.

Their routine went like this for the next week. Harry and Xander would wake up in the early hours, he would pick up his children from his mum’s, drop the kids off at school, drop off Xander at his building, and then go to work himself. Normally, routine was something Harry craved and he felt out of place if even the tiniest thing was out of order. But something was off. It wasn’t this that was annoying him exactly, what was annoying him was that he had no idea what it was that was off. Ever since Louis’ reluctant confirmation of his sexuality, the two hadn’t spoken much. In fact, their conversations seemed forced.

Harry had no idea why this was. Yes, he had been raised in a different time and homosexuality wasn’t as accepted as it was today, but he was always one of the few who did accept it. He’s always believed that love is love, nothing other than that. It got so bad between the pair that he had even retreated to sleeping on the small couch, which had resulted in numerous cramps in muscles in his body he didn’t know were there. But he couldn’t be in the same room as him with this tension surrounding the pair. One week left. In only a week himself and Lauren will be coming to a decision concerning their relationship. The bad thing was, Harry’s feelings hadn’t changed.

Neither him or his wife had any contact with each other this past fortnight, knowing they needed to stay away from each other whilst they work out what they are feeling. Guilt was eating up inside him. What if she still loved him in that way after all? Would that create some animosity between them? That was what he feared most, them coming out the opposite side not being able to look at each other. He does not want his children to go through the same sticky divorce he watched his parents go through.

Lucas was noticing the change of atmosphere, and he knew exactly what was happening. He could see the hurt in the eldest’s eyes when Louis deliberately ignored him or acted like he wasn’t interested. But at the same time, he saw the hurt in his friend’s eyes that he had to do it. He was trying to push Harry away, attempting to get over his crush for him. Although, both himself and Xander knew it wasn’t just a crush. His feelings for him were a lot stronger than that. It was three days before the dreaded conversation with his wife that he finally had enough of it, and he confronted Xander;

“Why is he avoiding me? Did I do something wrong?”

Xander had to bite his lip at the way Harry’s voice cracked in pure hurt. Losing a friend is difficult at the best of times so it must hurt a lot more when that person is on the brink of starting divorce proceedings. Louis had asked him to keep quiet, at least until he was comfortable with how he felt. The older had resisted at first, but he eventually agreed. Right now, though, with him being singled out inside Harry’s car just after he had picked him up from his classes for the day, he knew he couldn’t keep quiet anymore.

“No, it’s not you Harry. It’s something he did, and it’s something he doesn’t want to act upon.”

He sighed deep and looked out the window. He hadn’t left yet, and he wasn’t leaving until he got some answers. He’s done enough waiting. That was why he had deliberately locked the doors from his side so only he could open them up, which Xander figured out almost immediately. He didn’t want to betray Louis’ trust, but he also doesn’t want to lie to someone he’s become friends with over these past couple of weeks.

“What did he do, Xander? Why does he not want to act on it? What has it got to do with me?”

Those three questions had been swirling around in his head and he wasn’t sure what one he wanted an answer to more. He just hoped that the younger of the pair would tell him something. That’s all he needs, just something. He hates being someone who was always left in the dark over things, and this was no different. The younger looked down to his lap as he carefully thought, knowing fine well that Louis would put two and two together instantly, but he really couldn’t keep quiet on it anymore. Especially if Harry and Lauren work out their differences with one another, because then his friend is going to be broken hearted.

“He- he fell in love, Harry. He’s trying to deny it to himself and that is why he’s being so distant with everyone. He’s refusing to act upon it because this person doesn’t feel the same way towards him and it’s hurting him.”

Harry frowned deep as he thought carefully over what Xander had just told him. He’d only answered two of the questions, and this made him pause. How did he not realise when Louis asked him a while ago how he knew he was in love with Lauren. He was struggling to come to terms with how he felt for someone. But who? That was when it clicked, and his mouth immediately went dry. His eyes widened and his body began to shake all over. His eyes trailing down to his 20-carat gold wedding band that meant nothing now considering he knows he’s going to start divorce proceedings in only a matter of days.

“It’s me, isn’t it? He loves me.”

All Xander could do was bite his lip and nod sadly. A few minutes of complete silence engulfed the two of them at Harry’s realisation. For him it was like he was frozen and everything around him began moving a hundred times faster than it normally did. So many thoughts rushing through his head and it was impossible to separate even one from the labyrinth. Eventually, Harry shifted his hand slightly and for the first time in front of someone, he removed his ring. He only ever took it off when he was getting washed or he had to clean the metal. He turned it over in his fingers as he stared at the engraving inside it- the date he had asked Lauren to marry him. That day felt like it was forever ago when really, it had been thirteen years.

At the time he was only twenty, and now he’s thirty-three. Back then he had simply lived in a flat underneath her, not knowing he would spend over a decade with her. Now he lived in a five-bedroom house with her. Back then they had only ever talked about having one kid, yet they have three. Back then, he had truly loved her to pieces. Now though, that was no longer there. He no longer has those feelings for her, and now he’s found out that someone he considers to be one of his best friends is in love with him.

“Oh my god.”

That was the only words he could say. Hesitantly, Xander leaned over the space between them to pull him in for a tight hug. At first, he wanted to reject the gesture, but he forced himself to lean into his touch. He needs to speak to Louis now, find everything out. How long has he felt like this towards him? It certainly explained why Louis seemed to be avoiding him the last week. When he pulled away from the hug, he gave him a smile, and then he glanced down to his ring once again. He was about to slide it back onto his finger but then he stopped. Why was he still wearing it? Instead, he slid it into his pocket for safe keeping and finally beginning the journey back to the house. Harry was glad his kids had a sleepover today and he didn’t need to pick them up.

Just shy of an hour later, the house came into his vision. He parked up on the driveway and they both got out. Through the window, he saw both Louis and Lucas playing a video game. Louis only worked part-time at the bookshop so he was usually back by 2pm. From beside him, he caught Xander giving him a sad look, clearly understanding how difficult this was for him. Once inside, it didn’t take long for Louis to promptly shut the game off and go upstairs. Tears were desperate to escape, but he wasn’t going to let them fall. Lucas simply took one look at him and realisation dawned on him.

Harry hastily walked upstairs, knowing Louis was going to be furious at the invasion of private space, but he needed to know. As he got closer however, he felt butterflies erupt in his stomach but he didn’t think anymore on it. Simply putting it down to nerves and nothing more than that. When he opened the door, he saw Louis stripping himself of his top. Before the younger could react, Harry walked inside and locked the door behind him. His eyes trained on his muscled back, taking in the way they rippled underneath the skin, the way he had two dimples near the base of his spine. Louis spun around on the spot and alarm became prominent in his eyes, but Harry didn’t see that. Instead, all he saw was a bright ocean blue. The butterflies appeared once more and before he could think about what he was doing, he moved closer. Louis was slowly backing away until he was in the corner, and Harry came closer. That feeling deep within intensified as he approached him, seemingly warming him directly to the core.

Stuff it.

Louis didn’t have time to react before Harry’s lips were pressed against his own, and he also didn’t hesitate to kiss back with equal amounts of passion. Deep inside the pit of his stomach, it was as if a lit match had been dropped into petrol. The flames licking away along their restraints in a dance only they knew. The beauty of reds, oranges, and copper shades mixing together seamlessly. Those flames grew and it was a feeling Harry felt that he would love to be addicted to. A feeling he wanted to experience more of.

At some point, he had placed his large palm on Louis’ cheek. His hands were so big that they completely covered the area of his face, and his fingers were gently tangling some pieces of hair near his hairline directly above his ear. He gently stroked his thumb over his delicate skin, feeling the slight roughness from the stubble of his moustache. Relishing the way that he felt like he had won the lottery.

And that was just the way he felt under his touch.

The kiss, that was a whole different story. Louis’ lips felt like velvet and silk combined. They were so soft yet just rough enough to add more depth to their gentle movements. Both seeming to know the exact pace they both loved, moving almost in perfect sync. At some point, he dragged his bottom lip past his own and bit the tender area just slightly, a loud moan escaping the younger who was completely at his mercy. Hesitantly, he pressed his body closer to his smaller one, and placing his remaining hand on the delicate curve of his waist to his hip.

He softly massaged the skin there and at some point, his other hand had travelled to the back of Louis’ head. He pulled him closer, their noses now bumping uncomfortably but neither of them cared. All that was on their minds were one another. A few minutes had easily passed, and it was when Louis pulled away to breathe for a second that Harry took the opportunity to slide his tongue past his lips. Louis groaned lowly in his throat, vibrating in his throat and sounding more like a purr.

Slowly, he explored his mouth. He didn’t even hesitate nor did he battle him for dominance. He had submitted to him in a way that he had never done with a possible partner. Just like that, his memories reappeared and he pulled away once more. This time though, he refused to fall under a trance again. But he wanted to, so badly.

“Harry, you’re married- “

“And soon to be divorced.”

Louis bit his lip because his mind was still very much at war over how he felt. He couldn’t let his feelings for Harry get in the way of something like this. That would just be incredibly selfish. There are three innocent children involved. Ever since Xander had spoken those words to him, they had been playing repeatedly. Almost taunting him in a sense, a constant reminder that he might never get the man he’s fallen deeply in love with over the last few months.

“You don’t know that for certain. What if you do work things out with her? You’ve got a great wife, you’ve got wonderful children, a beautiful home, and a job that you love. What have I got?”

His lips were burning in desire. Harry desperately wanted to kiss Louis again but he knew he had just overstepped a boundary by doing so. It hit him like a truck. He’d just willingly cheated on his partner of almost fifteen years. He waited on the regret to sink in, waited for that crashing wave to knock him off balance. Or the hurt that he always assumed he would feel if it ever came to this. It never did. Instead, all he felt was sadness. In his mind, he also knew that it wasn’t sadness over his marriage breaking down into nothing but dust that would be blown away in the wind. No, this was sadness over not being with Louis.

“So, what? You might not be able to give me anything, Louis. But I cannot deny any longer that I am attracted to you massively. What you’ve got is something that keeps me alive, keeps my blood rushing through my body. You’ve got my heart, Louis.”

A few tears had settled in his eyes as he stared at him. Searching for anything that might betray his speech. For so long he’s been convincing himself that Harry will never look at him like that, will never feel anything like that towards him. Yet here he was. Opening to him and to an extent admitting that he loves him. The pair were broken out of their trance by a knock on the bedroom door, and they done a quick scan of their lips to check if their kiss would be obvious. At the thought, Harry’s body was craving to feel that again. He just had one obstacle in the way.

That obstacle came quicker than he thought it would. Before he knew it, his three weeks was up. After avoiding his dwindling feelings for his wife for so long, he was finally facing them head on. In a part of his head, he knows that Lauren feels the same as him now- nothing. The only love they have for one another is now like a family love, or even the love a person has for their best friend. It was some comfort anyway.

He was alone in the house today. Louis and Lucas were working, and Xander had a few lectures he needed to attend. Harry had woken up early, his thoughts torturing him so much through the night that he had barely slept a wink. There were large bags underneath his eyes that he was hoping would disappear soon. Xander had woken up roughly two hours after he had, and his eyes bulged at seeing him sitting on the couch with his phone to distract him.

Like every other day as of late, he picked his children up from his mum’s house. She gave her son a tight squeeze on the shoulder, knowing what today was and what it meant for him. Then he made the forty-minute drive into the city. The whole time, he kept up a happy façade to keep his three kids in the dark. Not wanting them to know yet. On the way into Xander’s building, the two barely spoke a word to each other. However, when he dropped him off outside, the younger gave him a gentle touch on the arm, offering him moral support.

Over these twenty-one days, he had grown close to both of Louis’ housemates. But there was something about the oldest of the three, they just clicked in some way. By the time he had gotten back to the house, the remaining people who lived there had left for their shifts. Now here he was. Standing in front of a full-length mirror, analysing his outfit and trying to decide if he was ready for this. With one last glance at himself, he nodded to try and give himself some courage before making his way outside.

The drive to his house seemed to last a lot longer than it was. But as he pulled up in the driveway and saw Lauren’s car, he realised he wanted it to last longer. Were they right to have a temporary break? Would it solve their constant fighting over every little thing? For a few minutes, he sat in the vehicle. Trying to stall time but at the same time knowing that time was not a friendly thing most of the time. Eventually, he took a deep breath and opened the door, making his way up the driveway to the front door.

Nothing had changed. Why would it? As soon as he walked inside, a warm feeling erupted within him. He loved this house, and it really did feel like a home to him. Then he saw her. Even in her regular attire of jeans and a top, she looked exquisite. Her dark hair pulled up into a high ponytail, her petite frame giving her a look of innocence. Her eyes twinkling against the light. Harry swallowed and sat down next to her. It was silent for a few moments between them, neither of them wanting to speak but at the same time wanting to get it all over and done with.

“We can’t keep doing this. This constant game of cat and mouse. It’s not healthy, Harry.”

He only hummed a little in response. His guilt eating him up from the inside as he remembered the passionate kiss he had shared with Louis a few days prior. He forced them away before replying;

“You’re right. We can’t. It’s not fair on us, and it’s certainly not fair on our family. I can’t lie to the kids anymore, Lauren. Never mind the kids, I can’t lie to you anymore. Lauren, I love you to pieces. I really do. I’ve loved you for fifteen years and that is something I’ll never forget. Nor is it something I will ever regret. But I don’t love you the same way, anymore.”

She took in a shaky breath at his words. She had expected it to hurt, hearing him say he wasn’t in love with her anymore. But she didn’t. All she felt was a crashing wave of relief. Lauren curled up into him and he wasted no time in wrapping an arm protectively around her much smaller body.

“We should tell the kids first before collecting the papers. They deserve to know beforehand. If we tell them prior, there’s no risk of them thinking we went behind their backs.”

At her words, he nodded solemnly. They both sat like that for a few minutes, the silence between them an immediate confirmation. There were no words that could be spoken because no words described how they both felt. Deep down, they still loved each other deeply, but it wasn’t in the same way anymore. This was more the kind of love a person has for a family member or for a best friend. Not in a relationship way. Harry was waiting on the regret to sink in, for him to feel any kind of guilt considering this is them essentially throwing fifteen years of their lives away, but it quite simply wasn’t.

“It’s a bit of an odd request, Harry. But can we just forget everything for one night? For one night we’re not about to begin divorce proceedings and we don’t have children? Just be us for one last time?”

A small smile made its way onto his face at her words. That sounded nice. Just another night together as them. Be teenagers again, when things were good between them. Also, neither could deny they were rather deprived in that area. It had been months since they’d last been remotely intimate with one another. They just didn’t have time. Their schedule was simply around looking after their kids and working, nothing else. So, with the thought in mind, Harry wasted no time at all in leaning over the few inches between them to smash his lips against his wife’s.

Almost immediately, his mind wandered to that one time he had kissed Louis, but he forced that away. There was nothing but passion in each little movement, whatever feelings they had buried deep inside of them being transmitted to the other. Slowly, Harry’s hand reached up to cup Lauren’s cheek which he carefully caressed before steadily deepening the kiss. Her small hands moved up his back before resting her palms on the back of his neck, pulling him in further.

A couple of minutes passed of just this gentle kissing, a slight buzz of electricity emanating from them. Eventually, he began to press his tongue against the slight parting of their mouths, and she wasted no time in giving him entry. They battled for dominance for a little and Harry may have let her win but she didn’t need to know that. Secretly, he always loved her when she was a bit more animalistic. Now, he was leaning over her on the couch, running his free hand down the curve of her side before resting on her hip, rubbing circles into the exposed skin from where her top had ridden up.

Neither were sure how long they stayed like that for, but at the same time, none of them cared. This was going to be their last time together and they wanted to make the most of what little time they had left. They wanted to remember this. They didn’t want to remember the other from their fighting, but from how much they loved each other. He now slowly stood up and placed one hand behind her back and the other underneath her legs, picking her up. Her arms immediately went to behind his neck again before leaning up to kiss him again, not wanting to give up just yet.

He placed her on their King-sized bed and gently hovered over her again. Now, Lauren swivelled her hips slightly, giving Harry pressure and causing a deep grunt to leave his mouth in between their kisses. He gripped her hips and ground his own down, moans leaving the two and breaking the silence that was surrounding them. With each swivel, he was getting harder and his mind was steadily getting foggier. He wasn’t sure when he began to unbutton his burgundy shirt or when she removed her own.

Her bra came off next, and she arched her back when Harry pinched her nipple lightly. The slight stinging sensation was always a massive turn on for her. From here, he made a trail of small love bites from her jawline, to her collarbone, to just above her perky breasts. She was panting hard underneath him, not sure if she loved or loathed her husband’s incessant teasing. A loud gasp fell from her when he took her nipple into his mouth, applying pressure with his tongue.

Now, she reached down between them and began to unzip her jeans, growing desperate for something else. Instead, he smacked her hands away and giving her a glare, her accepting defeat with a very audible grunt. He gently grabbed her hand and placed it over the almost rock-hard bulge in his trousers, a long sigh escaping him at the contact. A few more minutes passed before he finally decided he’d tortured himself and Lauren enough. So, he finished undoing her jeans and she lifted her hips up so they could just slide right off. He removed his right after.

From here, he leaned forward once more to join their lips together again, one hand placed gently on her hip and the other travelling up the inside of her slender leg. Each touch was magnetic, one of them being the positive end and the other the negative end. By now, Harry was fully erect inside his boxers but he wanted to tease her a lot more. With the thought in mind, he let his fingers gently run along her cloth covered centre. He could already feel her arousal in her underwear, and it only turned him on even more.

He ran his fingers up and down the small area, never applying the pressure that she desperately craved. At some point, they were battling for dominance once more, but this time Harry didn’t let her win. She reluctantly backed down and she decided she would get some revenge. So, she dipped her fingers into the waistband of his boxers to stroke his hard member. His breath hitched in his throat at the small movement. Neither were sure how long they done this for, but at some point, they got fed up and tore their underwear off, leaving them both completely bare.

She wasted no time in opening her legs, presenting herself to him. Now he could clearly see her arousal and it only made him more desperate to feel her tight walls clenched around him. He closed his eyes for a moment before returning to running his fingers along her entrance. He circled her sensitive clit a few times, applying varying amounts of pressure before moving them down once more. He ran them along her delicate folds, revelling in how wet she was for him.

Slowly, he pushed his middle finger in and curled it up into that one spot he knew she loved. Her back arched as a short scream left her mouth. He manoeuvred it around for a moment before removing it and running it up and down her sex once more. By now, she was moments from reaching her end but he wasn’t going to allow that. With no warning whatsoever, he re-entered two fingers and placed his thumb onto her clit. The feeling intensified between them.

Now with two fingers slipping in and out of her with ease, he edged in a third with it. Her body stilled underneath him from the stretch but he knew she loved it as she was biting her lip. With his free hand, he wrapped his fingers around himself and his eyes closed in relief. He was painfully hard now but he wasn’t going to do anything before she was fully prepped. When he reached the tip, he ran his thumb over his slit, collecting the precum there. A couple of minutes passed before she gripped his arm lightly, her way of telling him she was ready for him to take her.

Harry leaned forward once again and put his body weight on his left elbow. He gripped himself again to carefully align himself to her. With a short nod given, he leaned down to deeply kiss her before softly pushing his hips forward. A loud gasp left him and his eyebrows creased in the middle at the incredible feeling. With one long thrust, he was nestled deep inside of her, her walls tightening deliciously around him. He refused to move again, letting her adjust to his size because he wasn’t exactly small or average.

After a moment, she gripped his arm again to let him know she was ready for him to move. He gripped her hips and raised her slightly before beginning to rock slowly into her. The only sound there was in the room now was pants, grunts, moans, and skin slapping against skin. She always preferred when he went slow, and she knew why he was abiding by her preference. He wanted to show her he was always going to be there for her as a shoulder to cry on and as a very close friend.

He got a little bit deeper than before on his ninth thrust and a loud moan left her as he hit that delicate bundle of nerves buried deep inside. All Harry could think was how perfectly their bodies connected, how simple it was to move despite how tight she was. Her muscles knowing the exact time to clench tighter around him. Eventually, that familiar knotting sensation made its way into his lower abdomen, but he wanted them to come together.

With anticipation growing inside of him, he pulled out and flipped them over suddenly so that she was now on top. She smirked down at him before helping him sit up a bit so she could place one hand on his shoulder and the other on his chest. Once again, he aligned himself and gently guided her hips down to take him all the way in on a single drag. Lauren was rarely on top, not preferring the fullness she felt in the position. But this time, she did. It gave her a sense of empowerment and she quickly raised her hips until only his tip was buried inside before shifting down again.

A few more grunts left Harry as she done this, understanding she was now going to go by his preference of going fast. He gave her what she wanted. Now she was going to give him what he wanted. His lips attached to her exposed jugular when she flung her head back in intense pleasure, sucking deep to bring blood to the skin and biting. She began to swivel her hips as she sank down on him, interchanging between circles and figure eights. Wanting to memorise every bit of him for the rest of her life.

With her fast movements, it didn’t take long for that knot to intensify deep inside of Harry and from the way she was biting her lip so hard the skin split slightly, he knew that she was the same. He knew he was reaching his end very soon and with three more bounces from Lauren, he gripped her body to still her as he came deep inside alongside her. During their orgasms, she continued to sink down onto him but she was considerably slower and her movements were sloppier, their heads in an amazing sense of oblivion.

Once that passed, she let herself sheath him for another minute before pulling herself off him. He slid down the bed again so his head was pressing into the pillows as she snuggled up close to his warm and sweaty body. Harry gently kissed her head and caressed her cheek a little. She looked up at him directly in the eye before kissing him deeply for the last time.

“I’ll always love you Lauren, never forget that.”

She smiled deeply his way and quickly replied;

“And I’ll always love you, Harry. No matter what.”

---

Elsewhere, Louis was terrified. He had shut himself up in his bedroom and was refusing to reply to anyone who tried to see how he was doing. Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to let someone he’s fallen hard for live under his roof when said person was still married. Up until Harry left, he was his usual chirpy self but then reality hit. He had even gone to the bottom of the driveway and peeked his head around the hedge that separated them from the neighbours to watch his car go down the road.

His clothes were still there, because he had no idea what was going to happen. there is a possibility he will work thigs out with Lauren, even though he hopes that isn’t what happens. He was sitting on his bed, staring at the black suitcase that Harry had. Some of the elder’s clothes were strewn on the floor in one area and his jacket was hung on the back of the door. He hadn’t bothered to take one with him which to Louis seemed like a confirmation that he would be coming back for his things.

A couple of tears fell from his eyes as he stared at the item in question, not being able to look away for some reason. After a few moments, Louis finally stood up and walked over to it, removing it from the hook and breathing in his scent. It was slightly musky and he absolutely loved it. Deep down, he knew this wouldn’t end up good for him but he still held on to that piece of hope he had that things would work out.

In a single decision that might have been stupor, he pulled the jacket over his body. Harry was a few inches taller and the leather dwarfed him. The sleeves went way past his fingers and he grabbed them in his fists. He walked around for a bit but he stopped when he heard a high-pitched noise. Frowning, he looked down to the floor to see what had made it, and his eyes widened when he spotted a 20-carat gold ring.

He’s taken it off. Louis hadn’t even noticed. Then again, he wasn’t exactly looking at his fingers or him in general since he figured out he’d fallen deeply for him. His lips were still stinging in his imagination from when Harry kissed him. Harry’s words after were still spinning around in his head. When he had said that he could no longer deny an attraction to him but he didn’t want to do anything because he has a wife.

The worst thing about it was that Louis always liked to blame someone over things like this, a lot of people do. He couldn’t blame harry because he’s been with Lauren for very near to fifteen years. He couldn’t blame Lauren because she was a sweetheart. So that only left himself to blame. Which it was. If Louis had not sat across from Harry at that table so long ago, he wouldn’t be in this mess.

Xander and Lucas came to check on him a few times that afternoon, but he simply yelled at them to go away and leave him alone. He held his phone in his hands, hoping that Harry would rather call or text him to let him know how things were going. He knew he wasn’t going to do so in his heart, but he still did it. He watched intently as time disappeared, from afternoon to night. Harry didn’t come back, and to Louis, this was a confirmation that he would be coming to pick up his things tomorrow and say he was moving back in with his wife.

When morning came, Lucas finally had enough. He opened the door and basically told Louis to get off his sulking arse and stop feeling sorry for himself. It resulted in a pillow being thrown his way but he couldn’t deny that he was right. He wasn’t doing himself any favours sulking like a ten-year-old that had been denied a bar of chocolate. So, he went downstairs to meet his housemates who weren’t so discretely looking his way. A few moments of silence followed but this was broken by Xander;

“He’ll come back Louis. They’ve got a lot to talk about and he probably stayed there because it was late. They’re not getting back together Louis- “

“You don’t know that Xander, so don’t feed me false hope.”

The slightly older rolled his eyes and he looked at Lucas, who proceeded to fling his arms up in the air at the exchange.

“Louis, he told us days ago that he’s got no hope for them working things out. In fact, he flat out said to us he doesn’t love her in a relationship way anymore. Why do you think he stopped wearing his wedding ring?”

Lucas’ eyes widened at this, not quite catching on that he wasn’t wearing such an important piece of jewellery anymore. Louis however, wanted to deny it. A part of him arguing that they’ll force their marriage to work for the sake of their children. He opened his mouth to speak but a door opening startled them all. From the heavy footfalls, they knew that it was Harry. Xander gave Louis one last look before the eldest walked in.

“So…”

Lucas trailed off after this, having way too many questions to ask him. Harry sat down at the dining table and proceeded to knot his fingers together. He bit his lip hard and tried his best to hide the wince considering they were still sore from kissing Lauren so much the day before.

“That’s it, over. We’re going to tell the kids on Friday so that they’ll have a couple of days to get used to it before they go back to school. After that I’m going to collect the papers, then go house hunting.”

Despite Louis being told on numerous occasions that they probably wouldn’t get back together, hearing it from him was something else. Almost immediately, tears were streaming down his face and he ran upstairs. He locked himself in his room and let out a loud whoop of delight. Downstairs, they didn’t hear him so they were staring at where he had been and to the door. The two housemates immediately looked at Harry and raising their eyebrows, demanding answers. His cheeks tinted slightly which was enough confirmation for them.

“I don’t know yet, I just know that I have an attraction towards him. I just didn’t want to do anything until we’re finalised because after all, I’m still legally married.”

They both nodded in understanding at his explanation. Since they all knew that Louis was going to make his appearance again soon, they decided to stay downstairs. Xander pulled out a deck of cards and giving Harry a look, and he readily accepted the silent challenge. Roughly twenty minutes passed in which the pair played cribbage (Harry currently in the lead with 108 points versus Xander’s 96) before the door creaked open and Louis walked back inside. He sat down beside Harry and wasted no time in giving his shoulder a light squeeze.

It wasn’t much of a surprise when he won and he offered to go to the corner shop and buy drinks, that was something they could all agree on after a strange three weeks. Lucas was shocked when Harry swiped his card without even batting an eyelid at their £150 total. He knew he made a lot of money, a lot of lawyers did, but he couldn’t fathom how someone could spend money like that on something as meagre as alcohol.

They started with a couple of pints, before moving onto spirits, and finally to shots. Harry found out the hard way that he couldn’t hold his drink like he used to when he ran to the downstairs toilet and committed in to the pan. This didn’t deter him however, he was just determined to have a good night. By this point, all four were severely drunk. They couldn’t stand up straight, slurred every word, and were hiccoughing often. Neither were sure what time they went to sleep, but the second their heads hit a pillow they were out cold.

When Harry woke up, he was met with a splitting headache. His hand immediately clamped to the area in question as he frantically tried to remember what had happened the night before. After a few minutes, he grunted in annoyance and looked around him. At least he’d managed to make it to the blow-up mattress in his drunken stupor. Louis was also snoozing away on his bed and at the sight, his smile grew.

“Wakey wakey, I have ibuprofen!”

Lucas’ loud voice only made his headache get worse and Louis was still out cold. Harry groaned out to let the younger know that he was awake and he soon walked inside. He glanced to the two of them and Harry noticed the slight disappointed look he had. The younger handed him two pills along with a glass of water so he could swallow them down better before speaking;

“Not going to lie, I expected you two to be fucking each other all night.”

At the statement, Harry’s middle finger was being directed at him along with a ‘fuck off’. He quickly swallowed the medication and slowly drank the water, not wanting to make it worse than it already was. Ten minutes later, he got up and with one last glance at Louis, he met Lucas downstairs.

“Xander still sleeping as well then?”

Lucas nodded his way before looking at the clock. Harry’s eyes trailed along to it and they widened at seeing it was nearly 3pm. What time did they fall asleep at? He asked Lucas if he wanted food and he nodded, knowing that eating something fatty would help kick his horrid hangover. It had been a long time since Harry had last drank anywhere near that amount. In fact, if he remembers correctly he had woken up passed out in some friends garden the morning after his thirtieth.

Not that he was complaining, because he was most paying the price for it now. Within a matter of seconds, they had devoured the food and now all they could do was wait on the other two to wake up. It took nearly two hours for that to happen; Louis looking just as rough as himself and Lucas but Xander seemed fine. Harry gaped his way to which he replied with;

“I almost never get hangovers, it’s great.”

The other three glared at him for the remark and Louis microwaved the large fry up that had been left. He was so glad he had a few days off work because fuck knows how he would have been awake on time like this. Never mind that, there was no way he was in a fit state to drive into Manchester.

Before he knew it, Friday had arrived. He had already received the papers and he was slowly filling them out along with Lauren, but this was the day he was dreading. How does someone explain to a nine and two six-year-old’s something like this? Their best option is to just come out with it but they also want them to understand fully. He asked Louis what he would do if the roles were reversed but the younger genuinely didn’t know what he would do.

They put their house on the market and Harry had a couple of viewings at the weekend; both himself and Lauren agreeing to split the selling price so that one wouldn’t have a fancy place and another be in a shed. For this reason, he had asked the three housemates if they could explain to the kids here. Neither of them wanted to involve their parents and they’d currently only told close friends about them going through divorce proceedings.

At first, they were a bit shocked at the request, but they eventually agreed. Louis even giving him a tight hug to give him some sort of comfort because he knows how much this is going to hurt the older man. A light knocking on the door shook him out his thoughts and he opened it, his children immediately jumping into his arms. He made sure to rub their backs and kiss their heads lightly before letting them in. Lauren followed soon after and she was biting her lip hard, clearly not wanting to have this conversation either but they’d better get it done now instead of later. Within seconds, his boys were making a lot of noise and pretending to be aeroplanes whilst Isabelle was sitting on the carpet, laughing at her younger brothers.

“Boys, please sit. Your mother and I need to talk to you about something.”

His low tone was enough to catch their attention and they proceeded to plop down on either side of their sister. They glanced at each other before sliding off the couch themselves, and giving them solemn looks. They didn’t say anything for a bit but eventually, Lauren spoke up;

“You guys need to know we love you all to pieces, alright? Whatever happens, your father and I will always be there for you.”

They proceeded to look at their parents confused, not quite understanding her words. With a deep sigh and fighting to keep his tears at bay, Harry said;

“Your mother and I aren’t going to be together anymore. We’re getting divorced.”

Silence followed for a few seconds, and it was broken by a loud sniffle from their daughter. Harry wasted no time in scooping her into a tight hug whilst the boys went to Lauren. Hearing her cries tore his heart into pieces and he was whispering soft words into her ear to try and calm her down, but it was having little to no affect.

“Is it because of us?”

Kye spoke up, and within seconds, Lauren answered;

“No way. In fact, it was you guys we kept trying for. But it’s just not working out. You probably won’t understand until you’re older but it is not because of you. It’s grown up things babies. We both love you to pieces and we will always be there for you no matter what, ok?”

The whole time, Isabelle was still crying into her dad’s neck but they slowly subsided as she pressed a wet kiss to his cheek, and tucking her head underneath his chin as he held her small body to his.

“Your mums right, guys. We’ll always be there for you. We’re just no longer together. Also, we’re still best friends. You’re all just going to have to stay with someone until we have somewhere to live. Listen carefully here, alright?”

Harry was surprised that Jacob wasn’t crying yet, because everyone else was. A bold black line was smudged down Lauren’s cheek from it. He just seemed to be taking it in well whereas his siblings were struggling with the concept.

“We’re going to split time together. Once we both have somewhere to live, things will be different. For three days of the week you’re going to stay with your mum, another three days a week with me, and the last day we’ll spend as a family. Do you understand?”

They all nodded at this, finding the proposition fair. It didn’t take long for them to work this out between them and it meant they would get equal time with the three of them. They spoke to them for nearing another hour to make sure they really understood before Lauren left with them, Harry kissing all their cheeks beforehand. Now he was alone again, and he wasted no time in grabbing his phone to text Louis, Lucas, and Xander. Twenty minutes later, they walked back inside and Louis immediately walked over to pull him into a tight hug, rubbing his arm gently over Harry’s back.

“How did they take it?”

Tears were prickling at the corners of his eyes again as he returned the hug before sitting down on the couch.

“Izzy burst into tears immediately, Kye followed not long after, and Jacob remained quite calm. But they know now and we also explained what the living situation is going to be like. I don’t think they all fully understand what is going on, but they definitely know that Lauren and I are definitely no longer together.”

Not much could be offered to him comforting wise, because neither of them were even in relationships never mind married with kids. So, they done the only thing they could do. Support him. They offered to let Harry stay with them until he had his own place again so he wouldn’t need to rent out somewhere. In fact, they even offered to accompany him to a couple viewings, knowing he would want to have a second opinion.

That’s what happened the next day. Harry had struggled to fall asleep the night before, his daughters torn apart face keeping him awake. He remembers being in their same position so many years before, and how much he hated it. At least the split had been very amicable, he really wasn’t in the mood for multiple arguments. Xander accompanied him to his viewings that day since both Louis and Lucas were working.

There were three viewings; one was a large flat and the other two were houses. Each had four bedrooms which meant the kids could have their own room if they wished, but his twins would probably share like usual. The first was one of the houses and it was instantly a no. He needed a large place with three kids but this was way too much space for four people. Despite this, he still looked around with his younger friend.

The flat was the correct size he was looking for, but it had a downfall that it was situated directly above a pub and they could hear a lot of things being thrown around. On top of that, the bedrooms were a bit on the small side. After this, they had gone to get food and they chatted for a bit. If he was being honest, Xander was shocked at the prices of the places, and he asked Harry about his income considering he was also doing a law degree;

“Well, it took a couple of years until I got on at the firm I work at. Until then I done a bit of tutoring and worked in retail temporarily. When I started out, I just done the simple things, then I got asked to take a case out of the blue. It was a test for me and I done so well on it, I was immediately hired as a criminal prosecutor by twenty-four. Pay wise is difficult to give you advice on Xander, it all depends on the person. The more successful cases taken, the higher the annual pay gets. Right now, I earn anywhere between £45,000 and £56,000 per year. And my house is currently on the market for £420,000. So, when it’s finally sold plus what I earn, I’ll have way more than enough to support not just myself but my children.”

His eyes widened again and they only got larger when he said if he wanted to pursue a similar career path, he would put in a word for him. It was something he was seriously considering and with the fact he was currently doing PhD and had a Masters already under his belt, he would be desirable by potential employers. Finally, they moved onto the final house and almost immediately, a warm feeling filled Harry. It was the perfect size he was looking for, the bedrooms were large enough, there was a large garden at the back, and it was situated on a private road which meant peace.

He asked Xander what he thought of it and he nodded his way, agreeing with everything he said. The next day there were another two viewing but neither of them made such an impact on him than house three did. So, he called the real estate agent that was selling it and made an offer just above the asking price. A couple of hours later he got a call back saying his offer had been accepted and he went to pay the deposit right then. Now, he just needed to sell his own house.

Luckily, that didn’t take long. Within a week an offer had been made that was slightly under the asking price, himself and Lauren wasting no time in accepting it. A few days later they had completed the divorce forms and they went them away to be reviewed and to finalise everything between them. There was just one thing that was bothering them- the rings. They had been his grandparents and he didn’t want to get rid of them or sell them. Not just those, but the engagement ring as well. At least, that was until Louis came up with a brilliant idea;

“Why don’t you melt them down and get them made into pendants for the kids? The wedding rings for the boys since they’re identical and Isabelle can have the engagement ring.”

His two housemates looked at him shocked at his proposition, not believing he could think of something so sentimental. He brought it up to Lauren and she was delighted with the idea, immediately setting up a date in which they could go and get it done. They came up with a few ideas before deciding on them being made into tiny bears and having one of each stone from what had been Lauren’s engagement ring into each. They picked them up three days later and by now the cheque had come in for their house, which they halved immediately.

With the money, Harry paid what was left on his new house and began getting furniture and other things. Xander, Lucas, and Louis all helped him move in. every day Louis would stay behind. Slowly, Harry noticed that his heart sped up whenever he was near Louis. Yes, the younger knew of him being attracted to him and he knew that he had fallen deeply for him. But he still refused to make a move before the divorce was officially finalised.

Well, a month later that happened. By now, the kids were used to the living situation and every day Harry drove them into school on his way to work and took Xander as well. It had been a bizarre couple of months but he was so happy right now. Even better, he was still great friends with Lauren. They weren’t ready to cut the other out of their lives completely because they’d known each other since they were seventeen and eighteen- and they’re now thirty-two and thirty-three. It would really be a shame if they didn’t remain close after so long.

It was because of this that a fortnight after the divorce was finalised that they met up for lunch. Like her ex, she had gone for a decently sized house as well and at some point, was rehired into forensics. The subject that caused them to meet in the first place considering he took an extracurricular class. They chatted like old friends and not as a recently divorced couple. Harry coughed however when Lauren stated something;

“You’re falling for him, aren’t you? Louis, I mean.”

He would have expected to hear an accusatory tone in her voice, but there was none. After a few silent moments, he took a long gulp of his coffee and looked her in the eye. She had a very humoured look about her and he knew she was loving the way he was trying to avoid the question. Eventually, he gave up and let the blush on his cheeks be enough confirmation.

“I’m not mad. Louis’ great, Harry. You’ll treat each other right. If things don’t work out with you both you can always call me and I’ll come knocking on the door with a lot of food.”

Now, he couldn’t hold in his snort. Why did he feel bad about liking Louis this way? However, Lauren’s blessing for the pair was more than enough to give him the courage to call and ask to meet up with him. At the local park, he found him easily enough on a bench overlooking a small pond. He turned around at hearing the older male’s footsteps and he stood up to give him a tight hug. The taller had different ideas because he immediately grabbed a hold of Louis’ cheeks and leaned in for a gentle kiss. He pulled away a few seconds later and stared deep into ocean blue eyes;

“Go on a date with me.”

With a large smile, Louis agreed and wasted no time in softly kissing him once more. Letting the electric feeling take over their bodies.

By the time that the month ended, they had gone on five dates. All of which going extremely well. They weren’t official by any means because Harry wasn’t sure if he was ready to jump into another relationship so soon. After all, he’s only been divorced for two. It really wasn’t a long time at all but then he remembered how quickly he had fallen for Lauren, and that turned out amazingly. Yes, their relationship didn’t work out, but he got fifteen years of happiness with her and he also got three incredible children from it.

He had a weird feeling in the pit of his stomach, and he wasn’t sure why. He was currently on his own, sitting on the couch in his new house taking multiple notes over an upcoming case. He loves what he does for a living, but there is always a downside to everything which was why he was always so meticulous when it came to it. If he got the tiniest detail wrong, his defence could be affected massively. Luckily, it wasn’t a large case that didn’t require him to be anywhere far away.

It was on his fourth date with Louis that he finally admitted his feelings to himself, and not simply just an attraction. But he wasn’t ready to make things official. He wasn’t sure if he would be for a while but he is more than happy with where they’re at right now. After all, it is still very early days. It was approximately two hours later when he decided to take a break and he picked up his phone which he’s had on silent to avoid any interruptions.

There was a text from Louis there along with one from Lauren. He opened the latter first and a laugh escaped him at seeing a picture of her covered in some form of goo- undoubtedly something their sons had plotted in doing. He replied quickly and then opened the second text, his eyebrows creasing the middle at the vagueness;

[From: Louis]
Can you come over around two? I accidentally let slip to my mum I was seeing someone and she’s desperate to meet you.

At those few words, his heart leapt into his throat. They weren’t even official yet apparently, they’re at the meeting parents stage. With a quick glance at the clock, he saw it was just after four, so he had just enough time to get ready. He may as well look presentable for such an important meeting. He eventually decided to go for a mixture between smart and casual. Plain black skinny jeans, black ankle boots, a white shirt, and a tailored suit jacket.

After this, he ran his fingers through his new shorter hair. He was still getting used to it, but he did enjoy the change. It was certainly a lot easier for him to maintain. Then he picked up a locket necklace. Himself and Lauren had gotten these a week after their divorce had been finalised and Harry rarely went a day without wearing it. Inside was a collage of pictures of his children moments after they were born.

He assumed that Louis must have kicked Xander and Lucas out the house, knowing this was a very important part of what might be. Harry wished the drive lasted longer than ten minutes, because he had soon pulled up outside and was walking up the driveway. His heart was hammering away inside his chest the closer he got, the whole time he was frantically trying to remember if he had been this nervous when he had met Lauren’s parents for the first time.

But it had been so long ago now that he genuinely couldn’t remember much from that day. He closed his eyes before knocking on the door, letting out a small sigh. Louis opened the door and just like that, his nerves vanished. He pulled the smaller in for a quick kiss along with a warm hug. From one look at his face, Harry knew he was just as scared as he was over this. But Louis had never been so certain over something in his life before now, so Harry had an advantage over him with that.

Louis led him into the kitchen where he immediately spotted an older woman who bore an uncanny resemblance to his partner. Harry wasn’t quite comfortable yet with calling Louis his boyfriend yet, but the younger respected that. He’s been through a tough year. Louis coughed a little which caught the older woman’s attention as she immediately looked towards Harry. Despite the look appearing to be friendly, he caught the sternness behind it.

“You must be my son’s boyfriend then, I’m Jay.”

A weird feeling overcame him at hearing that word said aloud, but it didn’t feel uncomfortable. He didn’t answer the question, not knowing if he was ready to do so. He didn’t want to ask him here, he wanted to plan a fantastic date and ask him during or afterwards. Not in front of a parent.

“Mum, we’re not official. It’s still very earl days between us.”

She didn’t appear to be pleased with the answer, and Harry knew she was going to ask him a personal question any second. Unluckily for him, that happened almost immediately;

“What do you feel towards my son? What are your intentions with him?”

He bit his lip and he also felt Louis place a hand on his knee, offering him reassurance. The younger knew it was doing nothing to help, but it was nice knowing he was supporting him through this despite being stuck in the middle.

“I like your son very much, Miss. I plan on being with your son for a while if things go well. Now, we’re still working things out between us relationship wise which is why we are hesitant to make things official. Also, I got divorced only two months ago and because of this, I’m a bit warier then your son when it comes to relationships.”

Harry could tell that Louis was shocked at his admittance to his previous marriage. Of course, he knew it would come up during this conversation at some point but he didn’t expect it to happen within the first few minutes. It appeared his mum was also taking this in similarly as she asked;

“How long were you married for? Have you got kids?”

At hearing the last word that fell from her lips, a large smile took over his face. His kids mean the world to him.

“I was married for almost eleven years, but I’d been with her for fifteen years. We have three kids together; my daughter is the oldest, Isabelle and she’s nine. Then there’s my twin boys, Jacob and Kye who are both six. Luckily for us as a family, the separation wasn’t bitter. In fact, Lauren- my ex- and I are still good friends, and she gave her blessing for your son and me. I hope you’ll also give us your blessing, Miss, because I think your son is going to be a part of my life for quite a while.”

It was clear she was far from happy yet, but he caught a slight upturn of her lips at his words. Then, she turned to Louis. Silently asking for his response. The youngest looked down to his lap where his hands were clasped, trying to fight off the blush from coming onto his cheeks.

“I’m very happy, mum. Honestly, I’ve liked him ever since I met him but I refused to do anything because he was still married. In a way, I became a solace for him when things got bad between him and Lauren. That was when I realised I loved him. But I didn’t tell him, he figured it out himself after Xander accidentally hinted at it.”

A tiny laugh left Harry as he remembered that day. Especially the shocked look on the younger’s face when he quite literally locked him inside his car until he got answers. He could feel Louis looking his way, wanting him to finish things off with the conversation.

“When I realised he had these feelings for me, I also noticed I had a strong attraction towards him. By this point, Lauren and I knew our marriage was over but we were still together. I kissed him, and we talked for a bit afterwards. I explained to him I didn’t want to make any kind of decisions though until my divorce was finalised. A month afterwards was when my ex-wife gave us her blessing. She likes Louis a lot, she got him his job after all. I asked him out on a date and we’ve been on a few now.”

As the only female in the room stared at the somewhat couple, a smile made its way onto her face. She caught the way her son’s eyes lit up as he spoke to Harry and she caught the fond look the older had on his face whenever he stared at Louis. She’d also taken notice it was the exact same look that adorned his face when he briefly spoke about his children, and this confirmed that he really did have feelings for her baby.

Two hours quickly passed. About an hour in, Harry offered to go to the deli at the end of the street to get some food. So, as they ate their sandwiches, they continued to speak. Occasionally sharing a few funny stories. Harry’s phone buzzed and he opened it to be met with another picture of Lauren, now with a mouse trap stuck to her fingers. She’d simply captioned it with: Jacob…

Louis gave him a weird look when he burst out laughing at it. He was staring at the screen and was also delighted that it wasn’t him being subjected to his son’s practical jokes. Eventually, Harry gave him the phone and soon he was laughing along. Jay gave them a weird look but she got her answer when he handed her his phone so she could see the picture. A large grin took up her face as she remembered her own kids playing silly pranks on her when they were younger. Well, maybe not when they were younger.

Before any of them knew it, it was nearing 6pm. By the end of the afternoon, Jay had given them her blessing. It was all they wanted, and they shared a very sweet kiss. Harry stayed for another hour before making his way home. He fell asleep that night with a large and relieved smile on his face.

Three days later, Harry was stood outside the zoo, with Louis by his side. It was today at some point that he was planning on making things official with the younger. Multiple scenarios were going through his head, most not ending well. But he wasn’t going to put it off any longer. Isabelle was station at his side and his boys were pretending to punch each other in the face. That was making him nervous, because he isn’t sure how to go about telling his kids he’s getting into another relationship. Especially so soon after Lauren and he split.

He quickly put his foot down and paid his partners ticket. Louis could only grumble but deep down he did feel a little giddy that he done that, despite it being cliché. Once they were through, his children took hold of his hands and dragged him over to the map. They argued over what animal they wanted to see first (his boys wanting to see tigers and his daughter wanting to see the monkeys).

After a good day out, they made their way back to Harry’s house. His children immediately jumped at seeing their aunt standing in the driveway. Louis quirked his eyebrow at seeing Harry’s sister, not knowing why she was there. He was left only more confused when he caught her winking at them. She bundled the trio into her own car and left, leaving the two adults alone. Harry held his hand out for Louis to take and led them inside, going straight for the dining room.

Immediately, Louis’ hand flew up to his mouth as he took in what Harry had done, realisation finally sinking in as to why his sister had taken his kids for the night. The room was simply lit with only a few candles to create light. On the table lay a vase filled with red and white roses. Beside it a bottle of champagne and another bottle of what he assumed to be wine. He’s arranged with his sister to create a secret date in a sense.

Suddenly, he felt like a slob considering his t-shirt had been stained from spilling some ketchup on it due to his messy eating habits. But he knew none of Harry’s clothes would fit him considering he was taller and appeared to have more muscles than him. Harry reassured him that he didn’t care what he looked like and proceeded to point to a mustard stain on his collar. Their meal consisted of chicken marinated in a sweet chilli sauce that was stuffed with mozzarella, with a side of creamy mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables. Occasionally, they sipped on the alcohol in amongst mouthfuls of delicious food. As Harry stared at Louis, he realised it was now or never. He gently took hols of his hands which caused him to look the taller in the eye.

“Will you do the honour of being my boyfriend?”

Louis wasted no time whatsoever in pushing his chair back, walking around the table, and smashing his lips against Harry’s. He was taken off guard considering any kiss they’ve shared previously were short and sweet. This was anything but that. Deep inside, he felt the desire burning away inside of him, the flames licking away deliciously and creating goosebumps on his skin.

It was an automatic reaction when his fingers found purchase in his hair, knotting the strands around his knuckles and tugging lightly. His other hand rested on his hip and Louis’ were around his neck. Their lips moved ferociously together, their teeth clashing slightly but neither cared. Harry backed them up until the shorter was pressed against the wall. His hand moved slightly, feeling the delicate curve of his waist to his hip. It travelled to behind to rest over his bum cheek, and squeezing lightly.

He keened in delight at the action. He lifted his leg and proceeded to wrap it around Harry’s waist, desperate for more contact. Harry have him it by pressing his hips against him and edging his tongue past his lips to battle for dominance. That was when he knew, Louis realised. That this wasn’t a fling, nor was it going to be a quick romance. This was it, he thought. And little did he know, the older was thinking the same.

It was three months later those three little words first fell from Harry’s lips. Deep down, he knew he wasn’t just attracted to or had simple feelings for Louis. But he was hesitant. He had every right to be after coming out of such a long relationship not long ago. One week after they had made things official was when he sat down with Louis and his children to tell them they were together. At first, they were slightly confused because they didn’t completely understand, but they accepted it nonetheless.

For Harry, that was the first major barrier between him admitting to himself how he really felt towards him. Not long after they had done that, they’d made the step of meeting one another’s families. Yes, Harry had met Jay already, but there was an army of siblings to get through. Louis had been terrified that day, having never met anyone in Harry’s family apart from his kids and his ex-wife. Like they expected, some people had been hesitant over their relationship. However, those that were sceptical had gotten used to it rather easily.

That led it to now. Every week, Harry made sure to go out of his way by cooking up a fancy meal for them. They didn’t get much time together with the older working for eleven hours a day on top of being a parent. So, they made do with what they had. It was during one of these home dates that he first spoke the words. At first, it appeared that Louis had not heard. He was about to repeat them but then Louis clamped his hand over his mouth and burst into tears. Through his sobs he managed to mutter that he didn’t think this would ever happen.

Within seconds, their lips were attacking each other with force. Neither wanting to back down. Harry knew where this was going and it made his nerves flutter away in the pit of his stomach. He’s never been with a guy before so he had no idea what to expect. Obviously, when they made things official he had done some research into these things just in case anything did happen. The smaller boy’s hands moved down to the zipper of his jeans and pulled away, silently asking for permission. He didn’t even respond, he just took the item of clothing off before grabbing his hand and running upstairs to his bedroom.

That night, Louis showed Harry how deep his feelings were by making sweet love to him. At first, he had been grunting in pain but the second he had gotten used to being penetrated for the first time, loud moans were falling from his lips. He had been so careful with him, knowing from personal experience how painful the first time is. In total, it didn’t last long. No longer than ten minutes. But that was all that was needed before they climaxed together. Harry was sore, there was no denying that. Despite this, he pulled Louis in to press his sweaty back against his front. Splaying an arm protectively around his small body and muttering those words to him once more before falling asleep with his lover in his arms.