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"You should reconsider the popstar thing," Ed pointed out, gesturing at Harry's chest. "You'd make for a good model, mate."

Harry laughed. "I think I'm good. But thanks."

Niall ran a finger over the fancy grey t-shirt. It had a low-cut collar, exposing Harry's collarbones, and the light fabric pooled on his hips. The sleeves ended just above his elbows, and one constantly slipped off his shoulder. Perrie had painted his nails black, insisting that it was an important detail the look couldn’t work without, and that people would notice.

"It actually matches the headband," Niall pointed out.

"That's the idea behind it," Harry told him, touching the band holding back his hair. It was made of the same fabric as the shirt, laced with another one that had tiny skull patterns.

All of them turned when Perrie joined them. Her cheeks were flushed, eyes bright and grin so wide, it split her face in two.

"You did so well, Haz," she cooed, going in for a hug. "Thank you so much."

Harry wound his arms around her shoulders, holding her close. "Anything for you, babes."

She sighed happily, drawing back to turn to Niall and Ed. "Thank you guys for coming," she said before giving both of them a hug too. "I'm really happy you could make it."

It had been her first solo show, and she had been preparing for it for months now. Harry was partly glad it was over, partly afraid of what would come next. When Perrie had asked him a few weeks ago to be the model for her final piece, Harry hadn’t thought he'd have to do more than show up and walk onto stage for a few minutes. He should have given it more thought before he had said yes.

Between the gigs Niall had scheduled for him, playing festivals and going to meetings with actual music labels, Harry had done nothing else but help Perrie prepare for this day.

It was a relief that everything had gone smoothly.

On top of that, Harry had been too busy to even think about Louis once -- at least not during the day. He had always wished for an opportunity to say all the things he hadn’t got to say three years ago. Now that they had all been said, however, Harry didn't feel the satisfaction he had thought he would.

Closure, he had wanted closure. Instead, when he closed his eyes every night since then, he saw the pain in Louis’ eyes, his lost, small figure in that cold bathroom, all hunched in on himself. Although Harry knew that Louis deserved it, had deserved every single word, he didn't cope well with hurting people. Not even the people he couldn’t stand.

Harry had never been good at confrontations. Back in school, Louis had done that for him, and when Louis had been gone, Harry had simply avoided them most of the time. Whenever he had got into a confrontation with someone else, Harry had felt bad about it until it could have been resolved.

There wouldn't be a chance to resolve things with Louis. There was nothing to resolve.

"Earth to Harry," Niall said loudly, shaking him gently. "You're in there?"

Harry blinked, looking from Niall to Perrie. "Sorry. Yes, of course."

"I have to stay a little longer and help get everything back in order." Perrie gestured behind herself.

"Anything we can help with?" Ed asked immediately.

She smiled at him, shaking her head. "I don't think, no."

Harry tugged at the shirt he was still wearing. "Where can I get changed?"

Gently, Perrie put a hand on top of his. "Leave it on. It's yours."

"But---"

"I want you to keep it. I made it with you in mind after all." She patted his hand softly. "I'll bring your other shirt back home later."

Harry smiled, taking her hand into his for a moment. "Thanks."

"You guys gonna head home?" Perrie asked, eyeing Ed and Niall.

"I thought we could stop by Tesco's on the way," Harry suggested. He turned to Niall, when they started walking. "You call up Babs to come over, and I'll make dinner. To celebrate."

Perrie beamed. "I'd love that!"

"Okay, so you get finished here, and meet us back home later?"

"Deal," Perrie agreed, squeezing Harry's arm. "Make it something spicy. You know I love spicy food."

Harry kissed her temple and hummed. "See you in a bit."

+++

"What's so funny?" Harry asked, several hours later, sitting at their kitchen table, hands folded over his stomach. Niall was sitting across from him and he apparently couldn't stop giggling. "What are you laughing about?"

Niall gasped for air, wiping at his eyes. "Just," he managed to get out and set down his glass on the table. "You're so dumb, Harry."

"Heeeey," Harry complained. "'M not."

Perrie shook her head, giving him a doubtful glance. "You think he wants to be just friends ?"

Harry shrugged, frowning a bit. "Well, he's not really making a move, is he?"

"Maybe it's about time you made a move," Barbara suggested.

"You're so thick, Haz," Niall told him, refilling his glass with more rum and what only looked like a dash of coke. "Obviously he wants to be more than friends."

Harry desperately turned to Ed for help, pouting his lips. This was not on him. He hadn't read Nick's signs wrong. Whenever they managed to meet up -- which wasn't very often, with both of them being pretty busy working -- Nick didn't give a single indicator that he wanted more than them casually hanging out. The occasional kissing seemed to be part of being casual, Harry had come to understand that, and to deal with it.

Ed smiled slightly, patting Harry's thigh. "Before you start to wonder what exactly he wants, you should probably make up your mind what it is that you want."

Perrie sighed, resting her chin on her hands. "There's a wise man, Harry."

Harry rolled his eyes. "I know what I want."

"If 'shag Nick Grimshaw' is on top of that list, problem's solved, mate," Niall pointed out. "I thought you were clear about that."

Perrie poked Harry's ribs. "Same. You've been weird ever since that BBC thing."

Niall laughed dryly, emptying his glass once again. "That's what Louis always does to him."

Harry froze, staring at Niall, and it only took a moment before Niall stared back at him, looking caught. He glanced at Ed and Perrie, biting his lip.

"Fuck, Haz," Niall started, trailing off with an apologetic look.

"Perrie knows anyway," Harry said, feeling oddly calm. He felt everyone else staring at him.

"About you and Louis Tomlinson?" Ed asked, sounding not too fazed.

Harry turned to him, confused. "How...?"

"Niall told me you used to be an item," Ed said. "Months ago, when he was drunk."

Harry turned to Niall, raising a brow and giving him an unimpressed look.

"He told me, too," Barbara supplied, looking guilty. "In Niall's defence, he wasn't drunk when he did."

"So, you guys knew all this time?" Harry looked between Barbara and Ed, feeling a little lost.

"Yeah," Ed answered lamely. He shrugged then. "It didn't make a difference, though. So he was your boyfriend couple years ago. You've got nothing to do with him anymore, do you?"

Lowering his head, Harry nodded. "He's obviously moved into a different league."

Perrie reached out to touch Harry's elbow. "So you saw him at that BBC event?"

Glancing at Niall, Harry shifted in his chair. "Briefly."

Niall snorted. "Should have seen him. I had a first class front seat during Harry's little act."

"What do you mean?" Perrie asked.

Harry noticed Barbara giving him a little smile, suspecting she had heard the story before, when Niall went on. "He walked over to them -- like, Escapade, of course -- and acted as though he had never met any of them before. Shaking hands politely, being all coy about their talent. Louis looked like a train had hit him. I almost felt sorry for him."

Perrie gasped, staring at Harry. "You just pretended not to know him?"

Shrugging, Harry leaned in to refill his own glass. He had no idea how the conversation had shifted to Louis so suddenly. It made him crave a drink. "Anything else would have made me look weak."

"And he just let you get away with it?" Ed wanted to know. "That makes him look like a coward, actually."

Harry looked at him for a moment before he mustered up an answer. "No," he said slowly. "No. He didn't just let me get away with that."

Niall gaped. "What?"

Taking a sip from his rum and coke mix, Harry fixed his gaze on the table. "After my gig, I went to the loo, and he followed me there."

"What did he say?" Perrie asked, voice hushed.

Harry shrugged. "Not much. I kinda--" He swallowed thickly. "Snapped."

For a moment, it was silent, some of the noises from outside trickling through the open window. Harry remembered seeing a group of kids playing footie on the pitch in front of the house earlier. They yelled and laughed, their voices carrying over.

He knew they expected him to go on.

"I told him everything I didn't get to say back then. I told him that I'm over him, and that I really don't appreciate his songs. That I hate his guts, basically. For what he did back then." Taking a shaky breath, he looked up, finding Niall's gaze. "I made sure he knew that I have moved on."

"So you had a go at him?" Perrie asked.

"I think so. I don't think he expected me to still be angry." Harry thought of how Louis' jaw had gone slack, his blue eyes turning grey in shock. "He looked a little shocked."

"Obviously," Ed said. "If he knows you at least a bit, he'd know that you don't just have an angry go at anyone."

Harry clenched his jaw. "He doesn't know me."

Ed gave him a quick smile, but he didn't say anymore about it.

"And now?" Niall asked. "You feel any better about it?"

Harry sighed, but then forced a nod. "Yes. I think I'm really over it now. He's been an arse, and he was wrong to go behind my back like he did. I feel much better, now that I've told him. Got it off my chest, you know?"

"And if you met him now?" Perrie put up one foot, resting her chin on her knee, as she looked at Harry. "Would it not hurt anymore?"

Harry shook his head. "No, absolutely not. I've said everything I had to say. He can't hurt me anymore."

Perrie smiled, reaching out to caress Harry's cheek. "That's good, Haz. I'm happy for you."

"We have to drink to that," Barbara announced, refilling their glasses. "It's a huge step, isn't it?"

It was, Harry thought. He hadn't realised it himself up until now, but it was a huge step. For three years he had been hurting, had kept on hurting over everything Louis had done to him. He wasn't hurting anymore, the pain gone with the moment he had seen the regret in Louis' eyes.

There was no going back, all of it was in the past now, everything he had ever had with Louis. None of it was part of the present, none of it still held any meaning for Harry's life. He was done and over with that.

Harry smiled, gulping down his drink and trying to chase away the bitter taste on his tongue.

+++

"Zayn, let's go out?"

Zayn looked up from his Kindle, giving Louis an irritated look. "I'm staying in tonight."

Pouting, Louis walked into the room, closing the door behind himself. Zayn's bed was neatly made, looking untouched, as Zayn sat in a chair by the window. Louis dropped down onto the duvet, burying his face in the soft pillow.

"You just can't stand a neat room, can you?" Zayn absently asked, not raising his look from the device in his hand.

"Why does no one want to go out with me?" Louis groaned, rolling around, messing up the sheets.

"You've been going out in every city we've been to during the past two weeks, Lou," Zayn reminded him. "It's getting a little tiring."

"Just a few drinks, Zayn," Louis pleaded, staring at the ceiling. "It's our last night in Spain. Madrid's got the nicest clubs. We should go out."

Zayn sighed and put down his Kindle. "What's wrong, Lou? Have you even been sober once since we picked up the European tour again?"

Louis wondered about that. He'd been sober for too long, his nerves throbbing under his skin, his heart aching for something he couldn't reach, something he could never make undone. His mind was always in a place where pale light made Harry's face look stony and hard, his eyes dark and unreadable for Louis.

A place where the Harry in front of him was not his Harry.

"Hey," Zayn said gently, suddenly next to Louis. He leaned against the headboard and ran a hand through Louis' hair. "How about you call it an early one tonight?"

"I can't," Louis croaked. "Not gonna get any sleep."

"You can stay here," Zayn offered. "I’ll tell Liam to come over."

Louis nodded, the prospect of having both Liam and Zayn next to him quite comforting. "I'd like that."

Zayn grabbed his mobile from the bedside table, typing out a quick message. "You'll have to tell us, you know?" he said quietly while he typed. "You've been acting like a kicked puppy for two weeks straight."

Louis turned his face into the pillow again, closing his eyes. "You know, don't you?"

"It's about that blond guy, isn't it? Your friend from school who we met at that BBC thing?"

Louis was quiet, and before he had made up his mind about what he wanted to say, Liam came into the room by quietly opening the door. He wore jogging bottoms and a faded t-shirt, his short hair a little dishevelled.

Without a word, he came up to the bed and crawled in on Louis' other side. "Finally ready to talk about it?"

Louis rolled onto his side, facing Liam. "You guys could have said something."

"You didn't seem ready," Zayn pointed out.

"He didn't seem mad at you, Lou," Liam said, making himself comfortable. "He looked taken aback, maybe uncomfortable, but not angry or mad."

Niall hadn't, Louis thought when Zayn dropped his head onto Louis' shoulder. Niall hadn't looked mad. Harry on the other hand, had been very mad. And by pretending to not even recognise Louis, he had managed to get the message across. By letting his anger show when Louis had confronted him in the toilets, though, he had ripped Louis' heart into pieces. Achingly slow, cutting Louis up inch by inch.

He had probably deserved it.

"Things won't ever go back to the way they were," Louis said, closing his eyes. "I fucked it up, and we won't ever be the same again."

"Lou, you need to stop feeling guilty," Liam reminded him. "It's done, happened. You can't change what's done."

"I know," Louis sighed, nuzzling a little closer. "I just wish he knew how much I regret it, how much I would like to make it up to him."

"He was quite important to you, wasn't he?" Zayn murmured quietly.

Quite, Louis repeated in his head, thinking of Harry's body melting into his own, Harry's eyes lightening up whenever he had spotted Louis, of Harry biting his lip when Louis had grazed his knuckles over the bare skin under Harry's shirt.

Everything , Harry's voice echoed in his head.

"Yeah," Louis answered simply, keeping in the words that would describe just how important Harry had been. Liam and Zayn didn't know about him -- no one knew about Harry. Or what Harry had meant. They were talking about Niall; Louis had to focus on that. "He was an important friend."

"Don't get me wrong," Zayn added, keeping his voice low, one hand resting over Louis' waist. "But if he was that important, how could you even do something like that to him in the first place?"

That stung, made Louis curl in on himself. Usually, this would be the point for him to block them, to push them away, get angry and tell Zayn to shut it, that it was none of his business. Now, however, Louis didn't think he had the strength, didn't think he could put up a fight.

If he had been less of an selfish idiot, less of a blind and ignorant fool, he wouldn't have done it in the first place. He would have talked to them, both of them, to figure out what to do. Instead, Louis had thought he had figured it all by himself.

"Hey," Liam hushed him, pulling Louis into a warm embrace. "Fuck, Louis, this really gets to you, doesn't it?"

"What can we do to help?" Zayn asked, curling around his back.

"Make me less of an arse," Louis answered, his face buried against Liam's chest. "Turn back the time and make me talk to them."

Liam laughed a little. "You're not an arse. At least the Louis I know is not an arse."

"You can be, you know," Zayn pointed out. "When you glue my boots to my suitcase." He pressed a warm kiss to Louis' hair. "But for the really important stuff, you're never an arse. You may have failed them, but you never failed us. You never would."

Louis nodded, closing his eyes. He would never do anything to betray his friends -- he had learnt that lesson. He only wanted for Harry and Niall to know that too.

"Thanks," Louis murmured. "I'm sorry I've been so rubbish the past weeks. I'll pull myself together, yeah?"

"It’s alright," Liam told him. "You'll be fine. I promise."

Smiling slightly, Louis closed his eyes. "Can we stay like this? Just until I'm asleep?"

"Sure," Zayn assured him. "We'll be here."

When Louis woke up the next morning, his limbs felt stiff, his back cramped, but Liam and Zayn still lay as close as they had when he had fallen asleep.

+++

August ended with rain.

Harry left the bakery, looking up at the grey sky. The air felt warm on his skin, the cool raindrops a harsh contrast. He hurried down the street to the next tube station and shook out his hair when he had reached the bottom of the stairs.

Just what he had hoped to look like on his date, Harry thought when he caught his reflection in one of the train windows. Or, maybe-date. He wasn't exactly sure if he was headed for a date right now.

Nick had called the night before. It had been the first call in weeks, actually. They had texted sometimes, but other than that, they had both been too busy to meet up. Harry had been a little surprised that Nick hadn't yet forgotten him.

They had agreed to have dinner together today to catch up a bit. Harry wasn't sure if Nick would bring other friends, or if it would be just the two of them. Maybe he should have changed after work, since he didn't even know where they were going to have dinner.

He ran a hand through his hair again, pulling out his mobile phone. He had a message from Niall, telling him to enjoy the night, two emojis added at the end of the message, one winking, the other a fist. Harry decided not to ponder the meaning of the fist.

When he got off the tube, Nick waited at the top of the stairs, looking a little tired, but smiling. His hair was soaked, too, and he hadn’t bothered bringing an umbrella. It made Harry feel a lot better about the state his hair was in.

"Hey," he greeted Harry, pulling him into a warm hug. "Haven't seen you in ages."

Harry hugged him back. "Same, mate. It's been a while."

"Been busy?" Nick asked.

"Pretty busy, yeah," Harry agreed. "Good busy, though."

Nick hummed. "I reserved a table at an Indian restaurant. That alright with you?"

"Sure." Harry followed him.

At the restaurant, they were led to a small corner table, slightly hidden away from prying eyes. Harry opened the menu the waitress had handed him, averting his gaze from Nick's face. So this was a date. A casual one, but with only the two of them, it was definitely a date.

"So, popstar," Nick said with a smirk. "How was Glasgow?"

"Well, nothing like the Big Weekend," Harry answered. "Just a small folk festival, basically. But lots of great people to talk to. And stuff."

Grinning, Nick nodded. "And stuff. I see. Always so eloquent, young Harold."

"Shut up," Harry snorted through a laugh, kicking Nick's shin under the table.

"I was out with Rita the other day," Nick told him, kicking back. "She said her record label signed a new artist?"

Harry blushed, looking down at the table. Nick had arranged for Capitol Records to listen to some of Harry's demos and meet up with him. That meeting had gone pretty well. "I got the paperwork a few weeks ago. Niall went over it, to find any possible loopholes and stuff. We had it changed, just a bit."

"Cocky," Nick commented. "One would think you'd sign whatever is thrown your way at the prospect of finally making it."

Shrugging, Harry fell silent when the waitress came back to take their orders. He waited until she was gone before he picked up the conversation again.

"I've been thinking about it a lot. I don't just want to take a chance. I want to make it right." Harry took his glass, swirling the wine slightly.  "And I'm not doing it without Niall. It's a decision that will change my whole life, and I guess--" He stopped himself, pushing the images of a clear blue sky and Louis' calm, collected face from his mind. "I guess a rushed and hasty decision won't get me where I want to be."

Nick was quiet for a moment, his feet now stuck between Harry's, completely still. "You know," he said then, taking his own glass. "That's why you'll make it. They'll accept your conditions, I'm pretty sure they will, because they wouldn't want any other label to snag you away."

Harry blushed again, his cheeks feeling a little hot.

"So basically, you're signed," Nick noted, kicking his feet again to get Harry to look up at him.

Harry complied, biting his lip to hold back a grin. "Not officially, but once they send back the contract... Yes."

Nick beamed, reaching for Harry's hand. "That's so great, popstar. I feel so proud of myself."

Harry laughed. "Excuse me?"

"Well, basically, I discovered you." Nick gave him a cocky smirk. "The music industry can thank me for having such fine taste."

Harry squeezed Nick's hand as he laughed. "We'll see about that."

"You can thank me too, once you're a worldwide sensation. Remember my name when you're rich and famous, living in a fancy villa in Hollywood next to Justin Timberlake and Leonardo DiCaprio," Nick suggested. "Most importantly, remember my number, so you can give it to Leo."

"If things should ever end up that way, I will remember that," Harry promised. "Until then, you'll be the famous one."

Nick hummed. "Reminds me. There's this private-something-party this Friday. I forgot. Maybe a birthday? It's at Funky Buddha, and I can bring however many guests I like. You wanna join?"

Harry frowned a little, leaning back when their food was served. "Isn't that one of those high-prestige clubs? I don't think I can---"

"Hush," Nick cut him off. "You won't have to pay. It's a private party. I'd put your name on the guest list."

Harry nodded. "Yeah, sure. I'd like to come."

"Text me Niall and Perrie's full names later? I'll add them too." Nick smiled at the waitress, mumbling a thank you.

"Thanks, Nick," Harry told him once she was gone. "You know you don't have to do that."

"Not doing that for you, popstar," Nick answered. "I like to surround myself with cool people."

Harry smiled, and jumped slightly when his mobile went off in his pocket. "Crap," he cursed, pulling it out. "Speaking of the devil," he added upon seeing Niall's name flash on the display.

"Take it," Nick said, gesturing at the phone. "I don't mind."

"Sorry," Harry mumbled, answering the call. "Niall, texting worked perfectly fine before, didn't it?"

"Sorry, Haz," Niall answered. "But this can't wait. I know you're on a date with Nick, but you need to come home."

Harry's heart dropped to his stomach. "Did something happen?"

"I--" Niall sighed. "I can't do this on the phone, Harry."

"Is Perrie okay?"

Niall laughed slightly. "She's fine. It's about work. And pretty urgent."

Harry glanced at Nick who stared at him worriedly. "Yeah, okay. I'm on my way."

"What's wrong?" Nick asked as soon as Harry had hung up. "Everyone good?"

Harry shook his head. "I think it's about the contract, maybe? Niall sounded pretty tense."

Nick turned to gesture for the waitress. "I'll give you a ride home."

+++

While Sybil babbled on about the Australian leg of their tour, Louis kept checking his mobile. Aiden had sent him all important data on the band they had seen a week ago. They had been pretty good live, playing instruments, their front girl blessed with an amazing voice.

Louis was sure they were worth a shot. He'd have to talk to Liam about it, but for now he wanted to check the chances of getting them on tour as a support act in Asia.

Of course, Asia wasn't exactly the target group for a newcomer band, but fortunately, these days it didn't really matter anymore. It would be enough to give them a boost in Europe, at least, with fans recording the band's performances and putting them up on Youtube. The association with Escapade would do the rest.

When the meeting ended, Louis hung around, watching Liam and Zayn leave, too caught up in a conversation to notice that Louis wasn't behind them.

"Um, Sybil," Louis asked once the door was closed.

She turned, looking a little surprised to still see him there. "Louis. I didn't think you'd have any questions, given the fact that you didn't even listen."

Louis shrugged, giving her a careless grin. "It's not about the Australian part of the tour."

"What else is it, then?"

He walked over to the desk, tapping his fingers against the wood before he picked up a pen and turned it between his fingers. "Since we didn't sign a support act yet, I thought I could make a suggestion. I found this really amazing band from South London, and they---"

"Oh, that has been sorted already," Sybil commented, not looking up from the tablet in her hands.

"What?" Louis blinked. "Did you find a local artist?"

"Oh no, that was too much of a hassle, really. The Korean venue refused any Japanese acts, the Japanese refused any Chinese, and the Chinese refused both Korean and Japanese and were acting a bit picky when we suggested a Malaysian or Indonesian act. Didn't know Asians hate each other so much." She looked up, giving a helpless shrug. "But, well."

Louis stared at her, feeling slightly overwhelmed by that load of information. "Okay," he answered slowly. "Who did you get then?"

"Liam made a suggestion."

Louis blinked. "What?"

"Liam suggested an act. Said it was a young talent worth supporting, and after viewing some material, we agreed and sent out a request." She smiled at Louis. "I don't think they'll refuse; they'd be stupid to, but just in case you can leave me all information on your pick."

Frowning, Louis buried his hands in his pockets. Liam hadn't told him of any young potential acts he had discovered lately. Not that he had to, but usually Liam did.

"Who is the act?" Louis asked. "The one Liam suggested?"

"Um," Sybil shoved a few sheets of paper around, filing through them before she pulled one up. "Harry Styles."

Louis' heart dropped, his mind shut down, and without another word he rushed out of the room.

+++

"Liam!"

Louis pushed open the door and stormed into the studio where Zayn and Liam were sitting on the sofa and going over some songs for the new album.

They both looked startled when Louis approached them, and Louis didn't even stop for a second before he jumped on Liam, gripping the collar of his shirt.

"You fucking dick," Louis hissed, curling his hand into a fist. "What the fuck do you think you're doing?"

"Louis," Zayn gasped, gripping his arm. "Are you out of your mind?"

Liam stared into Louis' eyes, his own big and scared and Louis' face was close enough that he could feel Liam was holding his breath.

"I think Liam here is out of his bloody mind." He pushed Liam against the backrest of the sofa with one forceful move and climbed off. "I could beat you up. God, I really just want to beat you up."

Zayn stood up, looking between the two of them in confusion. "What the fuck is going on?"

Louis paced the room, running a hand through his hair. "Liam," he spat out, pointing accusingly, "sent out a request for Harry fucking Styles as a support act for our Asian tour."

For a moment, silence fell upon the room, Liam looking at Louis with a guilty expression, Zayn staring at Liam with wide eyes.

"You said you wanted a chance to make it up to Niall," Liam reminded him. "It's a massive chance for him, a boost for his act, which --- all he really needs, isn't it?"

Zayn breathed out heavily. "Fuck, Li. You didn't."

Liam looked confused, standing up, too. "What? If Louis had sent out the request, he would have rejected it straight away. But it came from me, and I made it clear that Louis had no doing in it. I wanted to do something for Lou," he added, shrugging. "I thought it'd be a good thing for both of you."

"Fuck." Louis stared at Liam for a whole ten seconds before he crouched down and buried his face in his hands. "Fuck," he simply repeated. There was no way out of that. By now, Niall would have already received that request, and would have told Harry about it.

Harry, who had told Louis to stay away.

"Oh Liam, you idiot," Zayn sighed, sounding tired. Louis raised his head to look at him. "It's not about Niall. It's about Harry."

"What?" Liam and Louis asked in unison.

"He was the third one, wasn't he?" Zayn asked. "And from the way you looked at him, he was more than just that."

Screw Zayn. Screw Zayn for always being so observant, Louis thought, burying his face in his hands again. He let go of a shaky breath. "Yeah."

"What?" Liam asked. "But he--" He fell silent and Louis heard a numb sound, assumed Liam had plopped down to the sofa again. "He didn't know you?"

"He pretended," Louis clarified, and saying it out loud hurt. He knew he had a lot of things to say out loud that would just rip further into him. "He pretended not to know me, because he's pretty pissed."

"So you two...?" Zayn asked.

"Were a couple, yes," Louis confirmed. "And I left him for--" He gestured up at them. "This."

"Fuck, Lou, that's fucked up," Liam commented.

"I know," Louis groaned, closing his eyes. "I bloody know that, Li."

"What exactly happened back then, Louis?" Zayn asked, sounding rather collected.

Louis swallowed thickly, sitting down and drawing his knees to his chest. "Can we make it the short version? Please don’t make me go through all of it."

Zayn nodded. "About time you told us, though."

"Well, in that case." Louis sighed, looking up at them, both sitting next to each other on the sofa again. "I met Harry when I was seventeen, after one miserable football training. It was snowing and he looked cold, so I sat with him for a while. He showed up for all of our training sessions and games afterwards, claiming it was because of Niall, but he always cheered loudest when I scored." Louis smiled slightly, shrugging. "Guess I couldn't help myself, he was just so lovely. I don't even know how it happened, but before I knew it, he was my boyfriend. No one knew, though. Except for Niall."

He looked at them, feeling bad seeing the sympathy on their faces. He didn’t deserve it, none of it.

“We formed a band, and we weren’t too bad. Niall’s ace at the guitar, and Harry---” he stopped himself, running a hand through his hair. “Well, you’ve heard him. After a year, we started applying to labels, small ones, but got rejected each time. Until I received an email from Syco. And that was it, basically.”

"Were you guys still together when we first met?" Liam asked.

Louis nodded. "Yes."

"That's a long time, Lou. What? Two years?"

"Roughly."

"And you just threw it away for this?" Zayn asked, baffled.

It sounded so wrong, and completely failed to describe what happened that day. Then again, it was an spot-on description.

"Basically," Louis answered.

"And now he's doing it on his own," Liam noticed. "Pretending you never existed in his life."

Louis put his forehead to his knees. "I wish he had kept it at that." He bit his lip, forcing himself to go on. "I followed him to the toilet."

"Oh, Lou," Zayn groaned. "That probably didn't end too well."

Louis shook his head. "He laid it all out for me. How much he hates me, how little respect he's got left for me, that he despises the songs I've written."

"You fucked him over for a career," Liam said, sighing. "Of course he would."

Louis lifted his head to look at them. It hurt, still hurt, although Louis had thought he had finally moved on from that, had shut Harry out of his heart to keep himself from further harm.

"He told me to stay away from him," he added, frightened of the reaction that had to come to Liam's request. "To stay out of his business."

"That doesn't look good for you, does it?" Liam asked.

"He's gonna be so pissed," Louis groaned.

"I'd like to say sorry," Zayn pointed out. "But you are aware that Liam would have never done that if you had just told us the whole truth?"

Louis nodded tightly, gritting his teeth.

"What are we gonna do now?" Liam asked after a moment.

"Wait for their answer, I guess," Zayn said. "I don't suppose either of them was very delighted to hear from us at all."

"What if they say yes?" Liam looked from Zayn to Louis.

"They won't," Louis answered. "There's no way Harry’s gonna say yes."

+++

"There is no way I’m gonna say yes," Harry spit out, pacing the kitchen.

Perrie was sitting by the window, drinking her tea and watching him pace. Niall was behind him, then next to him, stopping for a second, before he resumed following Harry through the room, trying to calm him down.

Harry was bloody calm. Just a little upset, maybe.

"Listen, Harry, I don't know what this is about, but the email says it's Liam Payne who suggested you after seeing you play at that BBC thing." Niall furiously waved a piece of paper in front of Harry's face, trying to get him to read it.

Harry had no intention of reading it. "And you wanna tell me Louis had no fucking clue about this?"

"It says he doesn't," Niall said sheepishly.

"Only an idiot would believe that, Niall," Harry told him, throwing his hands up. "What's he trying? To humiliate us?"

Niall sighed, biting his lip. "I don't know, Haz. Maybe it's some kind of payback?"

"What right does he have to be pissed?" Harry wanted to know. "He broke my heart, he fucked me over and when I tell him off for being such a dipshit, he fucking offers me to be his support act?"

Niall shrugged, looking clueless. "Apparently."  

"Harry," Perrie piped up from the other side of the room. Her feet were bare and her hair a little messy, her shorts showing off a lot of her creamy thighs. She looked completely unaffected. "I don't think he would. Maybe it's really just Liam wanting to give you a chance."

"In bloody Asia?" Harry laughed tiredly. "I should probably try and build a career here, first."

"Well," Niall butted in. "Playing in foreign countries is not exactly a disadvantage anymore. Youtube and Twitter would do the job. Your name associated with Escapade would do the trick, and get you attention worldwide."

Harry took the words like a punch to his gut. "Thank you, I'm not interested in being associated with that band," he forced out before he turned around to the door. "Tell them they can kindly fuck off and that I don't need them."

“You said you’re over it, Haz,” Niall reminded him. “Why are you making such a fuss about this?”

“I am over him,” Harry confirmed, opening the door. “I’m so fucking over that arse.”

"Harry," Niall and Perrie both said.

"I need some fresh air," Harry simply stated and was out the door before either of them could stop him.

With his blood pumping through his veins, boiling hot, Harry stormed onto the small footie pitch in front of the house, stopping when he spotted the billboard at the back of the field. It was almost dark by now, but a few lights illuminated the poster that showed a little girl, everything black and white, except for the bunch of colourful balloons she carried.

Love makes me strong , it read at the bottom, and for a moment, Harry just stood there, staring at the billboard.

He slumped down, falling to his back and staring up at the sky, trying to will down his anger. The sky was painted pink and orange at the edges of his vision, everything else a clear blue. A slight breeze tickled his skin, cooling down his blood.

He had promised himself not to let Louis unsettle him ever again, to just forget about him and move on. Apparently, though, Louis still had the power to get to Harry's head.

Forget about it, he told himself, closing his eyes. He would forget about it, not grant Louis a reaction at all. Everything he would get would be that kind rejection of the offer that Niall would type out. Not a word from Harry, not a proof of how upset he was about Louis trying to humiliate him.

While darkness swallowed the radiating blue of the sky, Harry breathed in the night air, trying to shut out every thought about Louis in the same way.

He tried until he fell asleep, dreaming of blue eyes that defeated any darkness.

+++

"Oh God, I should have picked the yellow dress," Perrie whined, clinging to Harry's arm. "I should have known!"

Harry patted her hand, rolling his eyes. "You look fine, Pez."

" Fine ?" She repeated, appalled. "Fine isn't nearly good enough."

"Purple suits you, love," Harry told her, looking her over again. In the dark light of the club, the light purple of her dress seemed almost white, making her stand out. "You look fabulous, and now stop it."

Nick laughed, putting an arm around Perrie's shoulders. "They're gonna be all over you, darling. Harry here will have to guard you all the time to make sure none of the bad boys make a move on you."

"Obviously not," she corrected him, stepping aside a bit to let go of Harry. "I don't need anyone to guard me."

"I can take care of myself," Harry mimicked her voice.

Perrie punched his arm.

"Ow," Harry whined, rubbing his biceps. "I was just joking."

"You, my dear, have been in a spoilt mood since Wednesday, and I'm not letting you take it out on me." She still patted his arm in a gentle manner.

"I'm not," Harry argued. "I've signed my record deal yesterday. I'm in the best mood."

Perrie lifted a brow, but didn't say anymore about it.

"Reminds me," Nick piped up. "Everything okay? About Wednesday?"

Harry blushed. "Ah, that. Yeah, it was nothing. Sorry about the fuss."

Nick shook his head. "It's fine. I'm glad everything's good." He raised his hand, obviously waving at someone behind Harry. "Excuse me for a second, yeah?"

"Sure, go ahead," Harry allowed, smiling.

"That's probably the last we've seen of him tonight, isn't it?" Perrie asked, gazing after Nick.

"I guess." Harry turned back around and spotted Niall making his way through to them. He had three pint glasses in his hands, managing not to spill a single drop.

"Damn, this space is packed." Niall set down the glasses on the table and slid onto the sofa. "What a hassle to get a pint."

Harry was about to answer when someone patted his shoulder to get his attention. He turned around with a smile, expecting Nick, and froze when he saw Liam.

His first instinct was to glance past him, checking for Louis, because if Liam was here, chances were that Louis was, too. Harry cursed himself inwardly for that reaction, focussing back on Liam.

"Hi," he said, almost drowned out by the music. "Sorry to disturb you guys."

"Um," Harry answered eloquently.

"It's okay," Niall took over for him.

"Could I talk to you for a second?" Liam already sat down across from Perrie. Harry felt her shift closer, her gaze fixed on Liam's face.

He noticed her, putting on a smile and extending his hand. "Hi, I'm Liam. I don’t think we met before."

Her eyes flickered to his hand before she leaned into Harry's side and brought her lips close to his ear. "Damn, he sent the wrong one to convince you."

Harry couldn't help but laugh at that, and Perrie took Liam's hand, introducing herself with a kind smile. Liam looked a little confused.

"Louis told me that it's very likely you got upset over my offer," Liam began, clasping his hands together. "I just wanted to tell you guys that it wasn't my intention to offend you in any way."

He looked earnest about it, brows furrowed in worry, lips a thin line. Harry didn't think it was acted. "Well," he said, shrugging.

"Look, I didn't know," Liam added quickly, before Harry could say anymore. "At least not about you." He turned his face to Niall. "We only recently found out about you, actually. And when we met you at the BBC event, I was quite impressed by Harry's talent, and I thought I'd give him a little push. And, in addition, a little push to your career, since Louis isn't really in any position to hand out opportunities to you guys."

"Blunt," Perrie commented.

Liam shrugged. "I think being honest is the only way to settle things here."

He had a point, Harry thought and adjusted his position. Liam was right that lies wouldn't help their case. He felt a sudden pang of sympathy for the boy in front of them, and that was quite irritating. He wasn't supposed to like any of Louis' new friends.

"And I mean it when I say you're very talented and deserve the chance," Liam went on when no one answered him. "I'd really like to have part in that, but I see why you wouldn't let me. The offer was genuine, though. I wouldn't have made it if I wasn't convinced that you're worth it."

Harry stared at him for several long seconds, not sure what to say. Perrie nudged him with her elbow, though, to remind him to speak.

"Um, thank you," Harry choked out, his throat feeling a little tight.

Liam smiled, looking satisfied. "Great. Thanks for listening, yeah?"

Harry nodded, giving Niall a helpless look when Liam stood up.

"Hey, how about we have a drink together?" Niall asked. "Come on, just one shot."

Liam beamed. "I'd like that, yes."

Harry watched them drift into the crowd, chatting away. That had probably not been a good idea, but Niall obviously took to him, and Harry could see why. He was brave, and honest and not afraid to speak his mind, apparently.

"That was awkward," Perrie commented.

"Sufficiently," Harry agreed.

"Funnily, though," Perrie added, frowning into her glass, "his reputation doesn't seem fake. I like him."

Harry sighed, thinking about leaving it uncommented. That would feel wrong, though. Especially after Liam had shown so much courage as to come up to them and talk about it honestly.

"Yeah, me too," he admitted, leaning against the backrest of the sofa.

"Still wish it had been Zayn," Perrie mumbled.

Harry pulled her against his side, laughing and feeling a lot lighter.

+++

Louis watched the crowd on the dance floor, sipping his cocktail. He had managed to escape his last conversation, pretending to go for a wee. He was watching Nick Grimshaw from his corner behind the bar, wondering if that prick still had his hands all over Harry.

Liam had fucked off pretty soon after they had come here, and Louis wished Zayn had tagged along after all. Or that he himself had decided to stay home, just like Zayn had.

When he spotted Liam in the crowd, he perked up, about to wave him over, but saw Niall behind Liam just in time to stop his motions. Louis lowered his hand, frowning at the scene in front of him.

Liam leaned over the counter, holding up two fingers and turned back to Niall. They were chatting, looking relaxed around each other. Louis had assumed that Niall would stick to Harry's side, being angry at them for sending out that offer for Harry. Instead, Niall looked as cheerful as ever.

It seemed he hadn't changed a single bit since three years ago.

Niall wasn't the kind of person to hold grudges, or to blame anyone for someone else's mistakes. Liam had done nothing wrong, and Niall would be the first person to understand that and see Liam for who he was, not as one of Louis' allies, the way Harry probably thought of Liam.

A wave of affection rolled over Louis, the realisation of how great Niall really was, and that he had lost such a good friend when he had left three years ago.

He should have never given up on them.

Liam spotted him when he turned back to the bar, his head slightly tilted, and he turned to Niall, leaning close and gesturing towards Louis. Niall's gaze found him and his cheerful expression faltered a little.

A moment later, they walked over to him, and Liam threw an arm around his shoulders, squeezing him. "Hey mopey."

Louis poked Liam's side. "Bugger off."

"Be friendly, I brought a guest," Liam scolded him, pulling him a little closer.

"I can see that," Louis mumbled, glancing at Niall. "Hi."

Niall cleared his throat. "Yeah, hi."

Liam let go and put his arms on the table, glancing from one to the other. "I'll leave you to it for a minute and get us drinks, yeah?"

Louis threw Liam a desperate look, trying to make him understand that he couldn't just leave Louis alone in this, but Liam pretended not to see and went off. Slowly, Louis turned his gaze back to Niall, biting his lip.

They were both quiet for a few moments, then Niall said, "Harry's here, too."

Louis nodded, feeling his heart rate pick up speed. "I figured."

"He's pretty mad about the offer," Niall added, sounding tense.

"I--" Louis lifted his head, knowing there was no use in denying anything, or explaining himself. Niall probably already knew, could see it in the way Louis acted. "I'm sorry, Niall."

Niall sighed, running a hand through his hair. "Yeah, I guess you are. I mean, you look it." He held Louis' eyes with his. "I'm not so mad at you on my behalf, Louis. Harry's been a complete mess."

Louis broke the eye contact, glancing away. "I know."

"I don't think you do, Lou," Niall corrected. "He used to worshipped the ground you've walked on. You dropped him like a hot potato once you had a better offer." Niall was quiet for a moment, as if he was waiting for a comeback. Louis didn't think he could find his voice. "You remember what you told me at the train station?"

Louis nodded.

"I took care of him, you know? You told me to look after him and make sure he would be okay. I did. And I will keep doing exactly that." Niall took a deep breath, apparently still waiting for Louis to say something. "You asked me to take his side, and I did. No matter what he says, Lou, he's not okay, not even close to okay, and that's why I will keep taking his side in this."

"I want you to," Louis choked out. "I fucked you over the way I fucked him over, so there wouldn't be any reason for you to take my side."

"It's been three years, Louis," Niall reminded him. "Life's gone on for me, and I certainly got over it. I never really wanted to be in the spotlight anyway."

"That doesn't erase me betraying you," Louis pointed out.

"It doesn't," Niall agreed. "But it's easier for me to move on, to forget about it and think back of our friendship as something good. We had a wicked time, mate."

Louis felt a smile tug on his lips. "Yeah, we had."

Niall shrugged. "I wasn't the one completely attached to you, investing my heart into you, though," he told Louis, looking worried. "I felt betrayed, but I got over it once I grasped what exactly you had been offered. You picked a shit way to handle it, but I can't blame you for taking that opportunity."

Those words felt like a warm blanket, a soft caress on Louis' wounded heart. It was more than he had ever expected to hear from Niall.

"Thank you." He wasn't sure Niall could even hear him, his voice too weak to raise over the music.

Niall shrugged, glancing up when Liam came back with drinks. He lifted a brow. "You guys okay?"

Louis looked up, staring at Niall, unsure what to say. Were they okay? Was there a way that they'd ever be okay again?

"Kinda," Niall answered for him.

"Well, it's a start," Liam noted. "How about we drink to that?"

"I'd never refuse a drink," Niall said, raising his glass. He clinked his to Liam's before taking a huge gulp. "Just for the record. As Harry's mate I'm not sure about the offer, but as his manager, I really want him to take it."

Liam pointed a finger at him. "You'd be a shit manager if you didn't."

Niall laughed at that. "In the end, it's up to him, though. It's a huge opportunity wasted, but I guess I can't force him. I wouldn't want to."

"What if I promise to leave him alone?" Louis asked.

"What?" Niall asked.

"It's a huge deal, a great opportunity," Louis repeated Niall's words. "I don't want to be the reason he's missing out on it again."

Liam put an arm around his waist, fingers gentle on Louis' hip.

"I haven't sent out the email rejecting the offer yet," Niall admitted.

Louis looked up. "You haven't?"

Niall shook his head. "It kinda hurts rejecting an offer like that. I was still hoping he'd change his mind."

"Is there?" Louis asked, leaning closer to Niall. "Is there any way to change his mind?"

For a second, Niall stared back at him wordlessly. "You know there is," he answered then. "Despite everything, you know how to press his buttons."

Louis bit his lip. "He'll hate me even more."

Niall smiled. "Don't think he could, Lou," he pointed out. "If you play your cards right, he'll tell me to accept the bloody offer before we'll leave this club tonight."

Louis pondered that for a moment, his mind occupied with the fact that Harry hated him so dearly -- hated him enough for Louis to use that as a base to manipulate Harry. He looked at Liam who blinked at him in confusion.

He had lost Harry already, there was nothing there he could lose by taking that step.

"Let's give it a shot," he decided, turning back to Niall.

Niall bit his lip. “You’re okay with that?”

“If it means he’ll make the right decision, I’m okay with it, yes.”

"Louis," Liam stopped him, curling his fingers around Louis' arm. "Did you think that through? If Harry was to accept, it won't just be about him. You'll have to spend a month around him, too." Liam looked worried. "Would you be okay with that?"

It was about Harry, Louis thought, shaking his head. Louis couldn't make this about himself -- couldn't think of how much it would hurt to have Harry around, so close, and not being able to be close .

"It's okay, Li," Louis assured him.

Niall turned around, gesturing to the other side of the room. "Let's go."

Louis swallowed thickly, keeping Liam close by his side, and followed Niall through the crowd.

+++

Harry looked absolutely stunning.

The grey t-shirt was cut so low, it showed off his collarbones, milky white skin, the shadow of the dip between his collarbones looking creamy. His hair was braided on one side, just a few strands that held it out of his face, making it resemble an undercut.

Louis had the urge to reach out and touch, run his fingers over Harry's neck, grip the hair at the back and comb through it.

He was laughing at something the girl plastered to his side had said. She had dark blond hair and wore a purple dress, her hand resting comfortably on Harry's thigh.

Louis' stomach clenched a little, and he wondered if Harry had come to some life-changing conclusions within the past three years. They looked good together, and Harry seemed protective of her, his arm loosely slung around her waist.

"We got you drinks," Niall announced, sitting down next to the girl.

Harry's gaze found Louis, and his expression turned sour. "What does he want?"

Niall reached over the girl -- who was quite frankly glaring at Louis -- to pat Harry's thigh. "Don't bare your teeth, Thor," he said calmly. "We're just having drinks."

Harry glanced at Niall, frowning slightly.

Louis took the moment to smile at the girl next to Harry. "Hi, I'm Louis. Nice to meet you."

Her lips formed a thin line and she shifted closer to Harry. "Yeah, I don't think so."

Niall rolled his eyes. "That's Perrie. Usually, she's a very lovely girl."

Play it cool , Louis reminded himself. He couldn't let them intimidate him. He had to put on a mask, and act arrogant, cocky to get what he wanted. He had to be the one intimidating Harry.

"She seems nice enough to me," Louis commented, gently pushing a glass in her direction. "Liam told me he talked to you," he said then, pointing his attention back to Harry.

"I don't think I told Liam to get you to join us," Harry said, ignoring the glass in front of him.

"Believe it or not, Liam makes decisions on his own." Louis shrugged, desperately wanting to reach out for Liam and burrow into his side. He trusted Niall on this, though -- he could push Harry to make the right decision for his career.

"Anyway," Niall butted in. "I thought we'd just have a drink together, since it was a misunderstanding and no one meant any harm."

Harry glanced at Niall before his gaze settled on Louis again. He looked uncertain, suspicious even. Maybe he sensed that something was wrong. Maybe Louis had to ease him into believing this.

"I had no idea, okay?" he said, feeling a lot better when letting his real emotions show. "Liam didn't tell me about it, otherwise I would have told him to leave it."

"I told you to stay out of my business," Harry reminded him, and his voice sounded firm, unaffected. He didn’t seem sympathetic at all. "Do you need a rerun of why I don't want you to meddle?"

Louis braced himself, lacing his fingers. "I remember, thanks. I'm not meddling with your business, though," he clarified, leaning back on the sofa he and Liam sat on. "I have better things to do, really."

Harry lifted a brow. "I suppose you do."

"So what is this?" Louis gestured at Harry. "You here, trying to gain ground in the music industry?"

"What do you think it is?" Harry countered, looking gradually more pissed. "I think you out of all people would know that I've been working towards this for years."

He did; Louis knew so well. "I thought I did, and you had just jumped on the bandwagon," he said casually, sipping from his drink. It hurt, seeing the irritation flash over Harry's face for a split second.

"Excuse me?"

Liam winced a little next to Louis, obviously intimidated by Harry's cold tone, but Louis tried to ignore it. He couldn't afford getting weak now. He gave an indifferent shrug, focussing his gaze on the table. "Just had the suspicion you're not actually here for yourself, but because of me."

Harry clenched his jaw, his brows furrowed. "Aren't you a bit full of yourself?"

"Aren't you ?" Louis shot back immediately. "You're trying to prove that you can make it on your own? You don't have to prove anything to me, Harry."

"I'm not trying to," Harry pointed out, and he was obviously trying not to let his anger shine through. Almost, Louis thought. He almost got him. "You're not relevant to me anymore, Louis."

It hurt, cut deep, but Louis could see that Harry was just as hurt by how Louis treated him. It made his heart flutter slightly, the realisation hitting him that he could only hurt Harry because he still mattered.

It didn’t mean anything, though, because Louis was about to crush it again, like he had crushed Harry caring for him before.

"I would believe that, but you've always been a shitty liar," Louis calmly stated. "You're afraid, just admit it."

Harry let go of Perrie and leaned forwards, his elbows on his knees. He arched a brow. "Do I look scared?"

Louis gave him a long stare, trying to keep his emotions at bay. He smirked. "Actually, no," he answered. "But I know you are, or else you wouldn't have refused the offer."

Harry's expression turned confused.

"If I didn't matter anymore, as you claimed, you wouldn't have declined it," Louis added. He kept holding Harry's gaze, making sure he would hear what Louis was about to say next. "But you did, because you're afraid you'd only end up in my bed again if you accepted."

Harry inhaled on a hiss. "I wouldn't give you the time of the day."

With a kind smile, Louis raised his glass. "We both know you would."

"That's enough," Perrie suddenly spoke up. "You’re disgusting. What an arse." She got up and grabbed Harry's hand. "You're not going to listen to any more of this. We're leaving."

Harry stared at Louis, looking entirely disgusted, and Louis found a glint of disappointment in his eyes. He averted his look to empty his drink. Perrie dragged Harry off, and Louis turned to Niall.

"Lou," Niall said. "He'll be so pissed when he finds out, but---" He cut himself off and got up, holding out a hand for Louis. "Thank you."

Louis took Niall's hand, meeting his eye. "Glad I could help."

When Niall dashed off, Louis turned to Liam who stared at him with a slack jaw.

"Who are you?"

Louis choked out a laugh. "Still the arse I was three years ago, apparently."

"When he finds out you and Niall played him to get him to agree, he'll just hate you even more."

Louis took Harry's unfinished drink, eying the liquid for a moment before he gulped down what was left of it. It left a burn in his throat, and a light feeling in his limbs. Niall's earlier words echoed through his head, and Louis knew that they were true.

"He couldn't hate me any more, Li," he murmured, looking into the empty glass. "It doesn't matter."

+++

"What a twat," Perrie fumed once they were outside, approaching a cab. "What an utter twat!"

Harry tried to keep his anger in, tried not to explode. Perrie was right -- Louis was a complete and utter twat. Apparently, fame had changed him into a heartless, arrogant dick.

"Harry!" he heard Niall call his name, and turned to him. Niall reached them, slightly out of breath. "That was--"

"We'll accept," Harry told him before Niall could even finish his sentence. "We'll fucking accept that offer and I'll show him just how over him I am."

Niall blinked in confusion.

"Harry, do you really think--"

Harry turned to Perrie, giving her a stern look. "I'm not gonna let him believe that. I'll kick his fucking arse."

Perrie bit her lip, but she nodded, apparently on board with the idea of kicking Louis in any way.

"Are you sure, Harry?" Niall asked.

Harry took a deep breath, opening the cab door. He stared at Niall, saw the doubt in his eyes. There was nothing doubtful about it -- he would show Louis how bloody little he cared about him and his fucking fame.

"That game's on."

---