It’s been this way since they set off to conquer the world after X Factor and Harry absolutely despises it. It’s not that he minds Eleanor as a person because she’s really rather alright. She makes a good friend to the boys and Harry can tolerate her being around but unlike how it is with Liam and Danielle, Harry downright despises the concept of Louis and Eleanor as a couple.
Since she started officially dating Louis, Harry’s been in a right fit because Louis was his first and it’s not fair that all of a sudden he’s picked up this girl and now they’re together and ‘in love’ according to the multiple press statements and twitter messages that have transpired between the two of them. Each time Harry hears one of their fans or one of the interviewers gush about how perfect Louis and Eleanor look together there’s a part of him that just wants to be torn to shreds before he explodes because it’s just so painful to watch the way that Louis’s face lights up and he mentions that he’s quite possibly found the perfect girl.
And it’s not fair. It’s not fair to Harry who belonged to Louis first and it’s not fair to Eleanor when they’re on tour and Louis makes his way into Harry’s bunk or the bed in their shared hotel room and they find themselves pressed together, limbs shifting into place as their bodies fit together like perfect puzzle pieces that have been seeking their missing halves for ages.
There are times in the middle of the night, when Harry’s just drifted off to sleep or is almost there, when Louis presses his face into Harry’s hair and whispers sweet nothings to Harry; when he tells him that he’s in love with him and that Harry’s all he ever needs. Those nights end with nightmares, with Harry waking up with tears hidden away in the corners of his eyes and an empty bed. Those are the nights when Harry feels the absolute worst, worse than he ever feels even when he knows that Louis is with Eleanor and they’re kissing each other, making love to each other, promising that something more will come out of this because that’s all that will ever happen.
Louis wants Eleanor as much as Eleanor wants him, but Louis also wants Harry too and he doesn’t even see how desperate Harry is for Louis’s love; how much it breaks Harry every time Louis chooses her over what they used to be, what they always wanted to be.
He remembers the way that they’d curl up in Louis’s bunk together back at the X Factor house, Harry’s face pressed into Louis’s shoulder and Louis’s arm slung around Harry’s waist, holding him close. He remembers when they’d stay up late and exchange soft whispers about how much they wanted to win, about how much they wanted to be able to say that they were the winners of X Factor and then they’d finally be able to say that they were successful, that they’d done something that they were proud of. He remembers how they’d promised each other that no matter what happened they wouldn’t let the media change them and that they’d still be together afterwards even if they didn’t end up being successful after the show.
And then they lost X Factor and Louis did everything he possibly could to cheer Harry up, to bring him back from that hopeless shell that he’d turned into after he realised that everything they’d tried so hard to do had ended up amounting to nothing. He made Harry happy again, made him want to look forward to the X Factor tour, to the potential fame that they had yet to fully claim from their time on the show. He built Harry up and then managed to tear him back down completely when he brought Eleanor into the picture. It’d ruined Harry and there really was nothing that could fix it.
Especially when Louis crawled into bed with Harry the night after he’d declared that he had a girlfriend and took Harry’s hands and promised that this wasn’t going to change them. He whispered a web of lies to Harry, a web that he tangled Harry in composed of promises that this wasn’t going to change them, that he’d always still be Harry’s, that Eleanor meant nothing to him. Harry was trapped and he knew that even if he wasn’t there’d be no way that he could pull away from Louis and be himself again because Harry’s nothing without Louis and he’s known that since the first day he met him. Without Louis there wouldn’t be the curly-haired boy that people all over the United Kingdom and beyond had fallen in love with.
Without Louis, Harry would be nothing.
Harry knows that he ought to back away, that he ought to just take a step back from everything that he and Louis used to be because the longer he lets this go on the deeper he’s going to fall in this pit that not even Liam can pull him out of. He just loves Louis more than anything he’s ever loved before, including air for god’s sake, but Louis’s so wrapped up in this thought that he can balance the relationship he has with Eleanor with the one he has with Harry that he doesn’t even see how much it’s affecting his best friend. That’s why Harry finds himself considering that maybe it’s time that he takes it upon himself to break this off.
It’s hard, breaking off ties to what might have to be the best person he’s ever known, but there’s really no choice in the matter. If Harry lets himself continue down this path, there’ll be nothing left of him, no recognizable part of Harry left to consider Harry and Harry alone. He needs to distance himself, to become his own person again so that there will be some sort of chance that he’ll eventually get over his heart constantly breaking.
That’s why he finds it so strange and fucked up and convenient that he ends up eavesdropping on a conversation that Eleanor’s having with a mate on the phone.
It’s not like he means to listen in, but Harry finds himself making a trip to get ice for the room and Eleanor’s taken a train in for the day since they’re not too far away from home so he’s surprised to hear her voice as he rounds the corner for the ice machine and even more surprised to hear her say, “No, of course Louis doesn’t know are you daft?”
Harry freezes in his tracks and while he knows that the last thing he ought to be doing is listening to this, a small part of him hopes that by listening in he might be able to find something to use against Eleanor, something that will make Louis his forever. And yeah, the plan to distance himself from Louis isn’t working out well at all, so he’s moved on to blackmail it seems. He leans against the wall, holding the ice bucket to his chest as he listens to one side of a conversation that obviously sounds important.
“What am I supposed to tell him, Melanie? Why should I even tell him because we both know what he’ll say if I share the news with him.” She pauses and it’s obvious that she’s arguing with her friend on the phone because of the tone in her voice, bitter and biting. “I told you already that that’s not why I came to see him today.”
Harry shifts closer and he peers around the corner, watching Eleanor as she steps closer to the window. He can see the obvious stress that she’s trying to hide by the way she tenses up, her hand pressed against her ribs as if she can just push it all away as easy as that. “I can’t tell him, Mel. He won’t give me a chance. It’s easier if I don’t tell him because then if I want to get rid of it, I can. I’m too young to be a mum, Mel. I’m not ready for all this shit.”
Mum… Mum. Harry reels back at this information and he stumbles a little bit as he falls backwards against the wall, making a little bit more noise than he intended to, but he can’t be bothered to care right now because Eleanor’s pregnant. She’s pregnant and Louis’s going to be a father.
God, if Harry weren’t screwed right now he’d be laughing at how ludicrous the situation is because here he is, trying to distance himself from the love of his life and Louis doesn’t even know that his girlfriend, the one he said he’d never grow attached to, is pregnant with his child and considering getting rid of it without even consulting him about it first. And Harry is pretty sure that her decision is all his fault because she knows about the fact that she’s not the only object of Louis’s affections. She knows that she doesn’t have him all to himself.
“I’ve got to go, Mel. Text me.” Harry straightens and he walks around the corner just as Eleanor turns around and she smiles at him like she knows something he doesn’t, something that might just make Louis hers forever. “Hello, Harry. Haven’t seen you in a while.” She leans forward and kisses Harry’s cheek gently, something that Harry can barely manage to reciprocate before he pulls back from her.
“Hello Eleanor,” he replies and Harry’s genuinely surprised to know that he can manage to speak so smoothly and calmly despite the fact that he just learned that the world as he knows it is falling apart at the very hinges that it’s been built on. “Louis’s so happy that you’ve come to spend the day with us.”
“I know.” She smiles at him again and then tucks her phone into her pocket before she steps around Harry. “I ought to be getting back to Lou,” she says and Harry nods. He watches as she steps back down the hallway, going the way he just came from and Harry doesn’t miss the way she brushes her fingers over her stomach, feeling the nonexistent bump beneath the fabric.
And only then does it actually hit him that Eleanor’s really pregnant and this is really happening and not just a nightmare that he may or may not have been imagining as he went to get ice. His hands start to tremble and he drops the ice bucket but doesn’t bother to retrieve it as he slips to the ground, tangling his hands in his curls and tugging as he tries to make sense of what just happened; of what’s going to happen.
There’s not much that Harry can do with this information but he knows now that his plans, his plans that he’s been pushing aside since Eleanor first came into the picture of breaking it off with Louis because fighting for him is futile need to happen. He needs to distance himself from Louis because Harry’s absolutely certain at this point that if leaves Louis for good, that if he steps back and lets Eleanor have him (which is the absolute last thing he ever wants to do) that she’ll keep the baby and that Louis can be happy.
After all, the thing that Louis’s been mentioning to Harry ever since they’ve met is how much he wants to be a great dad, how he wants to be the kind of dad that loves his children and takes care of them the way that he feels the father figures in his life never has.
And really, who is Harry to deny him that? Who is Harry, a foolish, lovestruck teenager, to take away the one thing that Louis has been insistent about since they’ve met?
Harry squeezes his eyes shut and he sucks in a sharp breath as he accepts the truth. He’s nobody, nobody at all, and that’s what he’ll have to be to Louis if it means keeping him happy. That’s all he can be.
It’s like forgetting how to breathe and drowning and being shocked back to life all at once and Harry can’t remember the last time it’s hurt this badly to just keep functioning.
He’s curled up in the corner of Zayn’s room, glad that Zayn just let him in without a word and patted his head before telling Harry to not destroy the place and that he’d die if he stole his crisps. And then he left because it was so painfully obvious that Harry needed time alone and he wasn’t going to get it with Eleanor there.
So Harry’s been curled up in a tiny ball since Zayn left, his back pressed against the wall and his knees against his chest. He’s been having panic attacks off and on and there’s really no way that he can rationalise that this is happening and that he needs to step back, to pull away completely before he ruins his life and drags Louis down with him. The last thing he needs is the knowledge that it’s all his fault that Louis’s hurting, that he’s become the one to start ruining lives and shattering hearts by being selfish. That’s something that Harry will never be able to handle no matter how desperately he wishes he could.
Harry gasps for breath, not even realising that the last time he’s actually inhaled was about a minute ago because he’s been so lost in his thoughts. It’s like his body’s shut down and the basic processes that keep him alive aren’t even trying to function anymore because they just know what he’s going to have to handle in the future. It’s not worth it, breathing, functioning, whenever there’s not going to be a reason to do so.
Sure the music’s amazing and it’s everything that Harry’s wanted since he’s been a child. He’s still a child, he thinks, and he still wants the same things that he always has; the fame and fortune have meant nothing to him (and still don’t even though he greatly enjoys the paycheck that he receives at the end of the day). It’s the simple things, the desire to please and the ability to share his talents with the world so that they can understand his feelings and relate, that keep him going most days.
But Harry knows now that none of it matters at this point if Louis isn’t going to be at his side. He hasn’t even tried to pull away from him and yet Harry already knows that it’s going to be like removing a limb except less painful because at least with limbs there’s artificial replacements. There’s really no way to replace a missing heart and a broken soul. That much Harry knows.
The knock on the door startles him out of his dazed stupor and his body shudders as he takes in breath, his organs slowly coming back to life. It takes him a moment before he stumbles to his feet and makes his way over to the door, scrabbling at the wall the entire time to make sure that he doesn’t trip and collapse against the carpet in the process. He has a feeling that if that happens there’ll be no getting up from it and he’ll just lay there in misery until Zayn returns and finds him and rolls him out the door.
It’s Liam, Harry realises as he stares out of the peephole, and at first he doesn’t want to let him in. He doesn’t want to deal with Liam or even attempt to try and explain what’s going on with him right now but they both know that if he doesn’t let him in that Liam will find himself in that hotel room with or without Harry’s help. In the long run it’s just easier to let him in, so that’s what Harry does.
He unlocks the door and steps back from it, waiting for Liam to step in. It takes a moment for it to register, but Liam shows up quickly enough and he looks at Harry who’s shaking his way down the wall and onto the floor next to the doorway.
“What’s happened?” Liam’s tone is so soft and gentle that it presses its way into the room all wrong and now all Harry wants to do is cry. He wants to cry, to break down and sob against Liam’s chest while ‘daddy direction’ takes care of him and tells him pretty little lies about how it’s going to be alright and that they’ll fix whatever’s wrong. Harry wants to just let go of all of the pent-up emotions that he’s got pressing down on his lungs so that he can breathe again without having to remind himself that air is something his body needs.
But he doesn’t. No matter how much he wants to, breaking down in front of Liam just isn’t something that he’s capable of right now. “Just needed some time alone,” he responds and it sounds like a meek, pathetic response even to his own ears. Surely Liam can’t possibly believe what he’s saying right now, but then again it’s Liam.
Liam’s perfect. Liam’s the one that doesn’t contradict what they say even when he knows it’s a lie. Liam’s the one who, instead of demanding the truth and insisting that whatever it is, no matter how bad it is, he can fix it, just sits down on the floor next to you and slings an arm around your shoulders so that you know that he’s there without him overwhelming you to bits.
And that’s exactly what Liam does.
Harry curls up against Liam without even meaning to. It’s down to pure instinct, really, and Liam doesn’t even mind as Harry snakes his arms around Liam’s waist and clings because Liam’s the only sense of stability that Harry has left anymore. He presses his face into Liam’s chest and the breathing gets a bit easier.
“If you want to talk…” Liam offers after a few minutes of silence, after he’s sure that Harry’s no longer trembling like someone’s going to beat him. “I’ll listen, Harry.”
“I know,” Harry whispers in response and he really means it. Liam’s really all he has at this point because if he tries talking to Niall or Zayn about what he heard in the hallway one or both of them might end up attacking Louis and forcing him to choose before he can let Eleanor take him away for the rest of his life without another thought. “If I need to talk I’ll always come to you, Liam.”
Liam sighs quietly and Harry can feel the boy’s arm tightening around him. He can feel himself being drawn in closer and it’s comforting, the way that Liam’s taking such good care of him. So comforting, in fact, that Harry seems to stop for a moment and forget all about what’s going on and how painful it all is. It only takes a few moments of that peace for Harry to realise just how exhausted the anxiety’s made him and he drifts off to sleep shortly afterwards, his face pressed into Liam’s chest while Liam gently rubs his back and whispers that he’s going to make it all better.
“I think we need some time apart,” Harry says and he realises immediately afterwards how stupid that sounds considering they’re in the middle of their tour of all places and it’s not like there’s anywhere to go. Still, the reaction that he receives from Louis is more than enough to know that he’s chosen the right words.
It’s achingly difficult to sit there and watch as a medley of expressions dance across Louis’s face; to see him go from confused to hurt to upset and back to confused before settling on a mixture of ‘this is a really bad joke’ and ‘what if this isn’t a joke’ is causing Harry to forget how to breathe all over again. “What d’you mean, Haz?” he asks in a tentative voice and Harry winces at the nickname, the weak link that he’s chained by because Louis only uses Haz and Hazza when he’s feeling overly affectionate or worried.
Harry has a pretty good feeling it’s not being used for affection right now.
“I just…I think that…” Harry struggles with the words and Louis’s looking at him with such worry now that he’s not even sure that he continue with his thoughts. He falters and stares down at his hands, trying to compose himself so that he can least shoot out a reason, no matter how poor it is. “Eleanor’s going to join us for a bit, right?”
The relieved sigh that he gets from Louis is enough to confirm his suspicions and Harry just wants to curl up in a ball and die at the mere thought that she will be around with her trump card that will ruin all of their lives for good. “Yeah, mate. Are you worried about me spending too much time with her because I know how to divvy up my time.”
“No,” Harry replies and it’s softer, toned down to try and hide the oncoming wave of heartache that’s hit him all of a sudden. “No, that’s not it. I just…I figure that it makes more sense that you room together rather than make her get her own room, right?” He pauses. “I’m sure Liam or Zayn wouldn’t mind me bunking up with them and Niall could get first pick yeah?”
“I…” Harry finds himself surprised to hear that it’s Louis’s turn to be speechless. He looks up at him, a flicker of hope sparking in his chest and Louis actually looks kind of torn by the suggestion. “I guess you could,” he finally responds and the spark’s diminished as quickly as it came. “I just…it’ll be weird, not sharing a room with you. We’ve been doing it since we’ve first started, practically.”
“Yeah,” Harry mumbles and he’s back to staring at his hands, back to wondering if this is even a smart idea because Louis just sounds so upset and the last thing Harry wants to do is upset Louis even if it means that he’s the one who’s suffering instead. “I just figured you’d want some time with her, right?”
Louis doesn’t respond and Harry knows better than to look at him because the last time he did he almost regretted the whole thing. He waits for a minute, two, three, and Louis still doesn’t say anything which is screwing with Harry’s nerves more than it should. “I’m gonna go get some breakfast,” he murmurs and only then does Louis seem to acknowledge the fact that he said something to him.
“Will you grab me a muffin if there are any?” he asks and Harry nods before more or less bolting from the room, his hands shaking as he tries to stuff his keycard back into his wallet which he’s failing to do more than usual.
Harry doesn’t go to breakfast. That wasn’t even part of his plans because he knows that Liam is probably ordering room service for all of them, bless, and Harry can’t be bothered to check and see if there are muffins for the person that he’s trying to get over. So he does the only thing that makes sense when he can’t get his mind straight.
He goes to the pool.
It’s nice and quiet when he enters and there’s someone splashing about in the far end, probably practicing for something related to a swim tournament or getting in the last few moments of pool time before they have to wash up and check out of their hotel room. Harry doesn’t really pay much attention to them as he slips his mobile and wallet beneath the towel he grabs and sets them all down on a lounge chair. Only then does he step into the pool, fully clothed, and sink himself down beneath the water so that he can try and get a hold on himself.
He told Louis, which is what he wanted to do in the first place, so that should be considered an accomplishment, right? But Harry doesn’t feel like he’s accomplished anything; not even close. He feels as if he’s taken three steps backwards and everything hurts twice as much as it did when he first woke up. His nerves are tingling and he’s running out of breath but Harry doesn’t dare surface just yet.
He just needs another few seconds so that he can hit that point where it’s either breathe or run out of oxygen completely. He needs to be at that point because he knows that if he’s not he’ll just be a shaking mess of body parts when he breaks the surface.
It’s only when he feels like his lungs are going to spontaneously combust that he actually comes up for air and as he gasps for breath, he hears his name called. Except…his ears are ringing so he genuinely has no idea if he’s actually being called or not. Either way, Harry has no motivation to turn to see who’s calling his name, especially since it sounds young and juvenile coming from the mouth of whoever’s speaking it. It sounds feminine, something that Harry always tends to avoid.
Before he can even consider what ramifications there would be if he were to actually respond, Harry moves from the pool, grabs his stuff and bolts, his sopping wet clothes dripping chlorinated water down the hallway as he tries to connect the maze of a hotel that they’re staying at with what he remembers of how to get to his room.
Somehow, though, he ends up at Liam’s and he’s barely got his hand on the door before it’s open and Liam’s standing there, a towel much like the one Harry’s gripping tightly to resting on his shoulders. “Harry… Harry you’re soaking. What were you doing?”
“Went to the pool,” he barely mutters and Liam hesitates for a moment before he pulls Harry into the room and wraps his arms around him, holding him close and rocking him gently in his arms.
Only then does Harry let himself fall apart. Only then does a single tear slide down his face as he starts to cry.
Morning comes all too quickly in Harry’s opinion. He’s been rooming with Liam for three days now and it still feels weird, uncomfortable even, to wake up and not have Louis curled up against him or something of the sort. It’s not like he gets much sleeping done anyway, but what little he manages tends to be interrupted by the sound of Liam shuffling around the room to prepare for the day, attempting to be quiet but failing miserably as he crashes and bangs around the room. Harry now sees why Niall tends to room with Zayn when offered the option.
This time, though, Harry’s not woken up by the sound of Liam getting ready for the day. Instead, he wakes up to the smell of waffles and a weight on the edge of his bed. It takes a moment or two before Harry opens his eyes and finds Liam staring at him, a small smile on his face. “Good morning, Harry. I ordered you breakfast.”
Harry half-heartedly mumbles a ‘no’ in response and rolls over in the bed but Liam’s clearly not having that. “Harry, you’ve barely eaten and you clearly haven’t been sleeping much-”
“So let me sleep then,” Harry responds quietly as he curls up against a pillow, pressing his face into it as he tries to ignore the grumbles his stomach is making at the smell of the waffles. He’s not in the mood to be weighed down by both his emotions and food. Besides, it’s their day off. Why can’t he just spend it moping around in bed?
“Harry, get up,” Liam says before he squeezes Harry’s ankle tightly. “Get up and eat right now.” Harry grumbles and Liam squeezes tighter, refusing to let up until Harry rolls back over in the bed and glares at Liam beneath his mop of curls-turned-waves. “You need to eat, Harry.”
“Fine,” Harry responds before he sits up in the bed, rubbing away whatever what was left of the sleep that he was desperately trying to cling to. “Whatever, Liam. Fine.” He reaches forward and roughly grabs the tray away from him, trying to ignore the look on Liam’s face that is trying and failing to mask the upset at Harry’s outburst of anger. “God I-…what is this?”
In the moment that follows, Liam doesn’t answer him and Harry fears that he’s really pissed Liam off too now. That’s the last thing that he needs on top of all of this. “A spinach & feta omelet and waffles. Your favourite.” Liam stands and Harry instantly feels guilty so he reaches out and grabs Liam by the wrist, clinging tightly.
“I’m sorry,” he tells Liam, shame clearly showing in his voice. “I shouldn’t have snapped at you. I’ve just…”
This time, Liam cuts Harry off. “You’ve been having a few rough days, Harry. I understand.” He looks at Harry and smiles gently at him before gently prying his wrist out of the boy’s grip. “Go on, eat up. I’m taking you out today.”
Harry opens his mouth to protest but he stops himself before he can. He’s already snapped at Liam once this morning and he really doesn’t want to do it again, but going out has not been in his plans at all. The protest dies on his lips and he closes his mouth for a moment before nodding at Liam. “Okay,” he mumbles and Liam flashes a smile at him before he disappears off to the bathroom to shower, leaving Harry alone to eat.
The first bite’s the hardest. To Harry, the smell is just so appetizing and his mouth is watering at the mere concept of being fed, but he’s hesitant. Food is a comfort and he knows that once he starts he won’t stop until the entire plate is gone and that’s not what he wants to do. He wants to be able to savour the meal, to enjoy what Liam went out of his way to have prepared for Harry (because he’s sure that they do not serve waffles and omelets together on one plate) without gorging because he can or avoiding it because he’s too overwhelmed to eat. It takes him a minute or two of just staring at the piece of egg that he’s cut up and stuck on the fork before he’s able to stick it in his mouth, chew and swallow.
And all at once the flavours overstimulate him. In that moment as he concentrates on the food, Harry doesn’t feel like everything’s crashing down around him in regards to the Louis situation. He doesn’t feel like he’s about to quit his entire life over this and for right now he actually feels kind of happy about the whole situation. It takes Harry a moment before he comes down from the feeling and starts inhaling his breakfast with a vigor that he’s been definitely lacking the past few days.
Harry’s at that point where he’s actually happy enough that he’s willing to crawl out of the bed and get dressed without having to be told to do so. It’s like there’s a ray of hope there and Harry’s standing under it willingly despite the fact that he knows it will fade away soon.
By the time Liam’s out of the shower, Harry’s dressed, the breakfast tray is outside in the hall so that someone will pick it up and he’s curled up in bed, the happiness having faded from him already. “You’re dressed,” Liam comments as he dries his hair with the towel, dressed in nothing but a pair of jeans. “One less thing I have to tell you to do.”
“Yeah,” Harry mumbles and Liam’s joking attitude fades away just as quickly as it appeared. “Whenever you’re ready to drag me around to wherever…”
“Look, Harry.” Liam sits down on his bed and he looks at Harry, watching as he slowly uncurls himself from his little ball of comfort. “I don’t know what’s going on with you and I haven’t asked because you know I wouldn’t, but whatever’s going on has clearly put you in a foul mood and I don’t like it. I just…I want to see you be happy again, and I’ll do whatever I have to make sure that that happens, understand?”
Harry doesn’t really understand because he doesn’t see what importance it has with Liam but he nods anyway. “Thanks, Liam,” he mumbles because that’s genuinely all he can come up with right now without turning the morning into a full-on Harry drama session.
Liam’s expression softens and he reaches out and takes Harry’s hand, gently squeezing it. Harry hesitates for a moment before he squeezes back, forcing a hint of a smile onto his face so that they can at least pretend for a moment that everything’s alright again.
Liam drags Harry out shortly afterwards and Harry finds himself kind of clinging to Liam’s hand because he’s not sure he can handle being out in public right now as he tries to handle his emotional withdrawal from everything that is Louis. Liam’s grip on his hand is Harry’s lifeline and he can’t help but constantly squeeze Liam’s hand to make sure that he’s still there and that this isn’t just a nightmare where he’s going to run into a group of fans and they’re all going to turn into Louis and tell him that he’s never had any feelings for him whatsoever.
It’s happened before and Harry woke up from that one with a scream trapped in his throat. He really doesn’t want that to happen in real life too.
“Where are we going, Liam?” Harry asks for the seventh time and Liam just smiles patiently at him because he knows that Harry’s antsy and that running into a fan or even a crowd of them is going to set him off on a possible panic attack.
“We’re almost there,” Liam responds gently and his voice soothes Harry’s nerves for a few seconds before they’re back and he’s jittery again. Liam squeezes Harry’s hand gently to reassure him that everything’s going to be okay and Harry responds quickly by moving closer to Liam and god when did he become such a mess?
Liam stops them at a small park and Harry can’t help but wonder how they found a park in the middle of a city and more importantly how it’s been that a fan hasn’t recognized them yet. They have on beanies and sunglasses but still, people tend to recognize them the second they get out of their hotel. Harry chalks it up to the fact that it’s still early but he knows that isn’t it. Maybe they just have security tailing them and he doesn’t know it. In the end, Harry doesn’t really care. He just finds it strange.
“What are we doing here?” Harry asks and he sees the smile on Liam’s face before he untangles his hand from Liam and pokes him. “Going to answer, Daddy Direction?”
Liam pulls a face and he lets out one of those sighs that Harry knows is his ‘I’m not really frustrated but I am’ sighs. “I know I’m seen of the responsible one but I hear that enough from the fans, Harry. Please…” He then smiles and Harry knows that it’s all okay again. “You seem like you needed a pick-me-up and I just figured that getting out of the hotel and actually getting some fresh air would be good.”
Harry wants to laugh at the way that Liam thinks that this is what he needs to get over putting his feeling last but he just can’t because it’s Liam and Liam lives to make everything better for the rest of them so he can’t justify laughing. Instead he just looks at Liam and cracks a smile. “Thank you, Liam. It’s nice,” he admits and Liam grins in the way that only Liam can; in the way that relaxes Harry more than he has been in the entire week that he’s pulled away from Louis.
“I just want to see you happy again, Harry,” Liam admits and Harry can’t help but notice how relieved Liam looks when he realises that Harry’s smiling and somewhat okay with his mood rather than the miserable ball that’s been buried beneath blankets whenever possible. “I’ll do whatever it takes.”
Harry feels like this is supposed to have a deeper meaning but whatever it is he misses it completely because picking up on the fact that Liam is absolutely and utterly enamoured with making sure that Harry is happy is not something that’s on his to do list. Instead he just slips his hand back into Liam’s and squeezes gently before deciding that’s not enough.
They seem to come to the conclusion at the same time and Harry’s just about to hug Liam when Liam wraps his arms around Harry’s body and he pulls him close, ruffling his hair with his hand as he does so and it’s just so affectionate that Harry can’t possibly even be bothered to think of how upset he is about the fact that he has to leave Louis so that Louis can be happy with Eleanor. All he can think about is Liam.
When the finally pull back, Liam’s beaming and Harry’s got this sort of half-grin on his face that is actually really honest and true. He’s not faking smiles this time for the sake of trying to keep everyone together and it actually feels really good to be able to smile for real. It makes him feel like everything’s not breaking inside whenever he thinks about Louis.
“Thanks, Liam,” he tells him again and when Liam childishly drags him over to the swings and they end up trying to push each other as high as possible he doesn’t even complain. It feels wonderful and perfect and Harry can’t be happier. He even laughs when they finally return to the hotel and Paul lectures them on leaving without security.
Eleanor leaves that afternoon, back off home to, no doubt, make arrangements to talk to her mates about being pregnant and what she should do and if she should keep it or not. Harry can’t insert his opinion because he’s not supposed to know about the whole thing, but if he were allowed to he’d tell Eleanor that he’d back off of Louis completely if it meant making him happy. Louis’s always wanted a son and he’s often mentioned this to the boys whenever they talk about their siblings.
Harry even remembers one night when they were curled up together, Louis’s face pressed into Harry’s curls, that Louis mentioned that if they ended up spending the rest of their life together that Harry ought to be prepared to adopt an army of children. The mentions of being together forever was something that lifted Harry’s spirit so much that he spent the entire rest of that night thinking of baby names in between the thoughts about how much he loved Louis and wanted to be with him forever.
Harry’s mulling over a mug of tea between their interview and concert when Louis approaches him and he knows that he’s just said goodbye to Eleanor and that she’s heading home right now. That’s the part that he focuses on; Eleanor and the baby inside of her that belongs to Louis. It’s all he can think about and it’s the only motivator to keep this stupid plan going because he knows exactly what’s going to happen now.
“Hey Haz,” Louis says as he drops down on the couch next to Harry and slings an arm around his shoulders. Harry mutters a brief hello before he continues to sip at his tea. “It’s been ages since we talked.”
“We talked not even an hour ago, Louis,” Harry replies and he can’t help the slightly pained tint that his voice is displaying because he’s trying so hard to keep from just blurting out that Eleanor’s pregnant and that’s why he can’t be with Louis anymore despite the fact that he’s so in love with Louis that everything feels off-balance without him around.
“I know, but we haven’t talked much the past few days.” Louis looks at Harry before he kidnaps the cup of tea from his hand and sips at it, not even complaining about the fact that there’s sugar in it, something that he chastises Niall about constantly. “So Eleanor’s gone.”
“I noticed you saying goodbye to her,” Harry replies and he locks his eyes on the mug, wondering if he can steal it back or at least keep all of his focus on it so that he doesn’t think about how warm Louis is pressed against him or how red he can make Louis’s lips and how much more he could mess with that impossible hair of his if he had his way. God, if he had his way Louis wouldn’t even be able to find his clothing by the end of all of it.
Louis leans in and stares at Harry until he has to look away from the mug because Louis’s just so close now. “Does that mean you’re going to move back in with me for the rest of tour?” he asks and Harry hesitates. He knew this was coming. He’d known this was coming since the second Louis stepped over to him and the entire time he’s been trying to decide what to do. If he moves back in with Louis everything will probably go back to normal and that’s not what Harry wants. There’s too much on the line for Louis right now and he can’t be the one to take that away from him.
“I’m not sure,” Harry finally admits as he takes his mug of tea back from Louis and sets it down on the coffee table. “It’s been refreshing, rooming with Liam.” He doesn’t miss the way Louis’s face completely falls at the response or the way that the arm around his shoulders has disappeared since he leaned forward to deal with the mug.
They sit there silently for a moment, something that’s so uncharacteristic for the both of them that it feels like something’s about to break. Only when Harry’s itching to say something in order to just continue the conversation does Louis actually start to speak again. “I miss you, Haz,” he admits quietly and Harry can feel like something’s being torn up inside of him and his guts start to twist up in so much pain that he can’t even handle it anymore.
It’s like someone just decided to throw him in a shredder and turn it on because that’s what Louis does to him without even realising it. “I know,” Harry responds softly and he doesn’t look at Louis as he stands up and tugs his shirt down from where it was starting to ride up. He doesn’t need this right now. He doesn’t need to hear the way Louis’s voice kind of cracks as he admits that he misses him because that’s just something that’s overwhelming and painful and utterly heartbreaking to Harry.
“I’ve gotta go get changed,” he barely manages to get out before he’s bolting from the room so that Louis can’t break his heart any more than he already has. He runs into Niall as he leaves and Niall cheerfully chirps a hello at Harry before the happiness completely fades.
“Is something wrong, Harry?” he asks and Harry just shakes his head before he moves to push past Niall. But Niall’s not having any of that. He stops Harry and grabs him gently by the shoulders before shaking his head. “Something’s wrong. If you want to talk-“
“I’ll find you,” Harry blurts out before he slips out of Niall’s grip and around him. It’s not even conscious to him but he realises when he ends up standing in front of the door that he knows has Liam behind it. He doesn’t even think to knock. He just opens the door, spots Liam and grabs onto him before the boy can even say a word about the state of Harry.
Zayn’s there, talking to Liam about something or another but he stops the second Harry appears and just watches the way that Liam wraps an arm around Harry’s back and Harry presses his face into Liam’s chest. “I’ll leave you be,” he tells them softly and exchanges a look with Liam that’s rather unreadable before he stands and exits the room, leaving Liam to try and comfort Harry before they end up on stage in front of all of their fans.