It hurt, and it hurt, and it hurt, and the buzz was this almost too loud noise in his ear but it was reassuring in a way that Zayn promised it would be so Harry ignored it.
But it hurt.
And it hurt, and it hurt, and then it hurt some more and when Zayn asked "What does exactly?" Harry lied and said his skin was tender there. All pale and never witness to the sun.
Zayn laughed and ruffled his hair and then apologised when the tattoo 'artist' admonished him for making Harry move.
If only Harry could believe his lies himself.
But it hurt. And it hurt, and it hurt and the words would make it better maybe. He hoped.
But he didn't believe it really. They'd all know after this. Words inked into his skin wouldn't be able to be swept under thick carpets like lips against skin in the form of whispers or touches too long on flesh on show could be. The black would stand out, dark and filled with a meaning that Harry was no longer happy to hide from. He couldn't and wouldn't stay hidden behind the curtains others drew around him anymore.
And then it was done and he paid the man and Zayn was looking at him with knowing eyes that Harry hid behind his glasses to get away from.
"Can I get a photo?" The man asks as Harry gives the man his credit card, his fingers itch to press the words in, stain their meaning into his skin.
So he nods and says a slow, “That'd be fine, mate, post it on your site if you want to."
And Zayn says his name in a way that means, 'What are you doing?' but Harry doesn't care. He wants it out there because she is still around and it’s enough. Enough.
Then there's a flash and they're wrapping Harry's arm and he nods in the right places about the after care and such because he's had a tat before, thank you. Even then, he's on tour with Zayn who's a virtual wikipedia page on information for maintenance and such because the boy's skin tells more stories than Harry's two tiny pieces do.
Yet this new one, this doesn't whisper meaning, this screams it loud and Harry hopeswishesprays that it's loud enough.
He and Zayn are one their way back to the hotel when Harry's phone buzzes with a tone that belongs to one person and one person alone.
And he doesn't answer because it’s not the right question.
cmon haz, whats it mean?
And again he just slips the phone into his palm, resting it against his heart because it’s somehow still beating to this sluggish rhythm that it has become ever since he said 'not yet, not yet. I can't. Wait, just wait for me' and Harry had agreed. But it's not enough and it won't be enough and this has to mean something.
Harry tears up at the words because -- two words, two tiny words and they're the opposite of what he wants to hear. He gets out when Zayn tells him to, and he follows Zayn and their security keeping his glasses on until they're alone in the lift and even then he ignores the way Zayn stares. He ignores and ignores because it’s what he does isn't it?
No, there's only friendship here.
No, we've never kissed.
No, I don't want to talk about that to be honest.
Lies upon lies upon lies, until he feels so full of them, so full of these words that aren't his own because if he could speak -- they'd be full of everything the lies are not.
He's mine and I love him and I'm deliriously happy and I want him all the time. But lately it's been why can't I just tell them all? Why and why and why and then he's there with his not now, and soon and soon and when we get a little bigger, when they all know our names.
When kids in countries that don't even speak english sing along to our songs? Is that when? Harry wants to ask. He wants to ask when because nothing feels like enough anymore.
"Haz?" And it's Lou and he's alone and Harry didn't even realise that he was standing in front of their door -- let alone got out of the bloody lift yet.
Harry stands there and he stares at those blue eyes that he wakes up to and can see clear as day when he closes his own. He stands there and he breathes in the everything that is the man he loves. The sweet smell of whatever he's just been eating -- something like chocolate and cherries maybe -- and that sharp tang of the cologne he wears and he breathes in and in until his lungs burn and can't take anymore.
"I'm sorry," Lou says and it’s quiet, hushed, just like everything Harry is used to when it comes to them and what they are as an 'us'.
Louis blinks, dark lashes framing the blue and making them disappear only to come back into view blurry with tears unshed. Then one does, rolling down his cheek, cutting in two as it passes over sharp bone. Harry's hand lifts and brushes it away with shaking fingertips, only to stop when Louis grabs at his wrist, presses his face into Harry's palm. Harry releases his breath as Lou turns his head, his lips cool against Harry's skin.
"I won't. I won't you know," Harry mutters, his voice strangled but so, so sure.
"I know." Lou says and then he's dragging them back into the room and dragging Harry back in until Harry and everything he wants is buried under what they have to hide once more.