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don't tell the gods (we left a mess)

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Louis notices three things in quick succession when he wakes.

One, his head hurts. The sour stench of tequila on his breath and the vague memories of slamming back shots is enough to explain this mystery. Louis quickly stops thinking about it.

The second thing he notices, his brain working decidedly slower this morning for obvious reasons, is that it’s hot. He’s trapped under the doona, body engulfed completely, and held in place by Liam’s meaty bicep, draped heavily over Louis’ shoulders. This is annoying, to be perfectly honest, because there’s a very sparse string of circumstances under which Louis allows sweaty, heavy men to drape themselves all over him and his best friend being blind drunk and clingy doesn’t factor into them.

Ordinarily, Louis wouldn’t grumble so much. It’s not as though he’s not used to Liam’s huge arms and love for spooning — it’s just that, with a pounding hangover and a mouth that tastes of feet, Louis can get away with being a little highly strung.

The third and, possibly most important thing that Louis’ notices is the sharp, shrill sound of Liam’s ringtone. It’s the stock tone, the one that Louis hears at least once every day when one of his students forget to put their iPhones on silent before texting in class, and it sets Louis’ teeth on edge.

He shoves Liam as best he can.

Hnngnngghhh,” he groans. “Liam. Phone.”

Liam lets out a low, inarticulate grumble, tightens his grip around Louis’ shoulders and snuffles his face into his pillow. Then he falls still again and starts to snore.

The phone keeps ringing.

Louis only barely restrains himself from punching his best friend in the face. It’s a close thing, honestly, but he controls himself at the last second.

Let sleeping boys-who-are-mourning-their-recent-breakup lie, and all that.

He fights bodily against Liam’s grip for a moment, and manages to wrench one of his arms free. He struggles to reach over Liam’s huge, stupid shoulders and curses a couple of thousand times when he doesn’t find the phone straight away. Finally, finally, his fingers hit cool metal and he manages to grab it.

He rolls back into place, lets out an exhausted sigh and lifts the phone to his ear.

“Liam’s phone,” he says, and instantly flinches. His voice is much, much grittier than he’d expected. He clears his throat awkwardly and tries again. “Uhm, Louis speaking?”

“Louis!” an incredibly enthusiastic voice replies. “This is a surprise!”

Louis’ brain really isn’t awake enough to deal with this. It’s only now that he realises he didn’t even have to answer the phone, he could have just silenced it and gone back to sleep.

But no. Here he is, a sweaty, unwilling little spoon awake at what is clearly arse o’clock in the morning, on the phone to Liam’s mum.

“Karen,” he says, trying not to sound as strained as he feels. “Hi, how are you?”

He’s never actually met Liam’s mum, but he’d like to. Since meeting Liam three years previously on Louis’ first real day teaching, he’s spoken to Karen several times on the phone. Every time, without a doubt, she asks after his mother and his sisters. She checks in on how his students are, and how he’s finding the school — she’s essentially as invested in his well—being as his own mum is.

Besides, she’s Liam’s mum. And mums love Louis.

It’s just that he’s not really performing at his best, right now.

“I’m good, sweetheart,” Karen says. “How have you been? That school still treating you well?”

Louis smiles grimly, suddenly reminded of all the student papers he should have been marking instead of going out and getting plastered with his best friend. He lifts a hand and presses it to his forehead, painting a smile on his face.

“Yeah, I’m good,” he says, even though he is absolutely, certainly not. “Doing a lot of marking, you know.”

She probably doesn’t know. Liam’s a music teacher so most of his time is taken by grading his students on their performances. When he does mark them on paper, it’s usually compositions that take up most of his time. Louis, on the other hand, has essays for three separate English classes waiting for him when he gets his shit together. And then he has to take care of his Drama student’s assessment.

Karen makes an understanding noise anyway, which is all Louis can ask for.

“What about you?” Louis asks. “How’s Geoff going?” He is ninety percent sure that Geoff is Liam’s dad’s name, and hung-over enough that the last ten percent doesn’t bother him.

Karen replies happily enough though.

While she begins to enthusiastically tell Louis all about how cheap strawberries are becoming this time of year, and the amazing deal she got at the store the day before, Liam begins to stir. The arm that’s draped so casually over Louis body shifts a few times, Liam’s grip loosening and tightening as he comes to. His eyes flicker open and Louis watches as he takes in where they are and what’s going on.

He’s tired though, his eyes hooded and sleepy as he cuddles closer to Louis.

“Morning,” Liam interrupts, his voice husky. He rolls his neck a few times, stretching out the muscles before letting his cheek rest on Louis’ shoulder. “Who’re you talking to?”

“Shhh,” Louis says.

“Louis?” Karen says.

Liam lets out a tired yawn and yanks at the blankets a little. “Jesus, Lou,” he says. “Quit hogging the covers, its fucking freezing.”

This is way, way too much to deal with this early in the morning.

“Sorry,” Louis says hastily down the phone, doing his best to ignore Liam’s grumpy hands. He relents the blankets, wondering how the hell Liam can be feeling cold right now. “Sorry, Karen, I’m just — ”

Liam’s head jolts up at his mother’s name. He frowns at Louis, zeroing in on his phone at Louis’ ear — suddenly looking very, very alarmed. His mother interrupts before Liam can begin to ask questions.

“Did I just hear my son?”

“Are you talking to my mum?”

Louis gives Liam a furious look. “Would you shut up for one fucking second?” he hisses.

“Why are you talking to my mum!?” Liam hisses right back.

“Oh, my god,” Karen says.

Louis gets the sudden, sinking feeling that something is about to go incredibly wrong.

“You’re the boyfriend?!” Karen says suddenly.

The pounding of Louis’ blood suddenly sounds incredibly loud.

Admittedly, he panics.

“You’re mum doesn’t know?” he whisper-shrieks. Liam and his ex broke up over three weeks ago, how could Liam not have told her yet?

Liam goes a shade whiter, starts shaking his head.

God, Louis fucking hates it when he’s right.

“Oh, my god,” Karen says. She sounds amused, a laugh lacing her words like she’s pleased with what she’s apparently discovered. This is bad, so bad. “I can’t believe you’re the one he’s been hiding all this time.”

Eyes wide, Louis looks frantically to Liam in a desperate attempt to figure out what to do. He can’t do this; he can’t be the one who explains to his best friends mum that her son’s just been dumped, no fucking way.

The silence lasts a little too long. Karen lets out another pleased laugh, and then sighs.

“I’m guessing I wasn’t supposed to find out like this, was I?”

Louis feels vaguely like he’s watching a car spin out of control in the middle of a road. Only the car is him and the road is his life and all semblance of normalcy.

“Well,” Karen says, “I’ll leave you to explain, shall I? Say hello to that son of mine.”

Liam’s waving at Louis, trying to silently demand the answers Louis isn’t giving him.

Louis can really only gape.

“Oh, and Louis?”

Louis swallows thickly. “Yes?” he says.

“I’ll see you at the wedding!”

She hangs up with a final, happy laugh, leaving Louis alone with his frantically confused best friend and the sweaty, haphazard tatters of his life.


“Okay,” Liam says forty minutes later.

He’s had three cups of coffee, but there’s no telling whether or not his wide, wide eyes are due to the overwhelming amount of caffeine or just sheer panic in the face of what Louis’ just told him.

“Okay,” he says again.

Louis takes a deep breath. It looks like he might have to take the reins here.

“Look,” he says carefully. “We can fix this, right?”

Liam stares forlornly at his coffee mug.

Louis swallows, bites back the swell of anxiety that’s settling in his gut, and tries again. “Liam?” and sure, his voice sounds a little dangerous but he’s panicking okay, and he’s still way too hung-over for this kind of shit, so he’s allowed to sound a little stressed.

Liam blinks a few times and finally tunes in. Louis feels his shoulders drop as he relaxes — reassured simply by the fact that Liam’s finally with him, that Liam seems to be thinking about what they’re going to do next.

He rubs his hand across his eyes for a second, before he drops the hand back to the table and looks at Louis with his big, sad, brown eyes.

“Uh, yeah, sure,” he says. He’s nodding his head haltingly, like he doesn’t believe a fucking word that’s coming out of his mouth. “We can definitely fix this.”

“Liam?” Louis says warily.

Liam, because he’s Liam, plasters an incredibly fake smile across his face and does what is clearly his best attempt to look positive. It’s awful. The smooth skin at the corner of Liam’s eyes just makes Louis think of the crinkles that should be there, of the goofy little laugh and something like guilt stirs the toxic mess in Louis’ tummy.

Fuck, Louis thinks, this is not going to end well.

“No, really,” Liam says. His fake happy voice is pretty much the worst thing Louis’ ever had to listen to. “Really, it’s fine. It’s fine, I’ll just call my mum, it’s — ” his voice catches here, and Louis’ heart pretty much breaks in two. “It’s fine.”

Shit, Louis thinks. Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit.

Because here’s the thing. Liam’s been Louis’ best friend for a long time. Three years long, to be precise, and the only reason they’ve been friends is because since the very beginning Liam has always tried to take care of him.

It was Louis’ first day, first day of pretty much everything, the day that they’d met. He’d only been living in Manchester for about two weeks, the grand total of which Louis had spent in his tiny new flat, surrounded by boxes (for all of his belongings and all of the pizza he’d been eating), wallowing in self-doubt and melodramatic misery. Liam had been the one to meet him at the start of his first day teaching, his first real teaching job since he’d gotten his degree.

Liam had gone on to take him around the city, introduce him to a few of his friends and direct him to all the best pubs and cafes. It had taken a few months for their friendship to find its footing — Louis was a little abrasive, he knew that already, and Liam was kind of a stickler for the rules — but once it did, it did.

And now his best friend, of three years, was sitting opposite Louis recently dumped and looking more miserable than ever about the prospect of phoning his mother.

Louis sighs.

“Why didn’t you tell your mum?” he asks quietly.

The fake smile is gone in an instant, and suddenly Liam’s back to looking at his coffee mug. His voice is soft, quieter than Louis’ heard it in years, when he replies. “I dunno,” he says. “Didn’t come up.”  

Liam’s been in two relationships since Louis met him. The first to a dancer named Danielle, who had incredibly pretty hair and loved Liam a lot. Louis knew exactly what it was to love each other the way that Liam and Dani did, the overwhelming need to be close, to touch each other all the time even if it’s just to hold hands. But Louis’ knows how that ends, as well. It was just puppy love, and when their break up had happened — Louis was jaded enough already to not be surprised.

Liam had been though.

Dani had gotten an offer from a dancing troupe, a ballet that travelled around America that would give her far more opportunities than she could find in Manchester. She’d been scouted, as well, and the troupe had asked for her specifically. She couldn’t possibly say no.

Louis knew what that felt like as well.

Liam reacted quietly, the way he always did when he was upset. He did his best at work, always loud and cheerful with the kids — but on the weekends, and in the hours they sat together in the staff room to eat lunch, he was withdrawn, didn’t chat so much, or laugh at Louis’ jokes.

(And Louis’ got good jokes, okay?)

There wasn’t any real time that he got better, either. Louis tried and failed to help for a few weeks before he ultimately learnt his lesson. There was no use in dragging Liam out to bars and clubs when the only thing Liam wanted to be doing was sitting at him cuddling a girl who’d moved three-thousand miles away. (“Time heals all wounds,” Louis’ mum had said on the phone, getting a hearty “uuugghhhhhhh, fine,” in response.)

One day, Liam’s smile just started to reach his eyes again. And then his giggle got goofy, and he started asking Louis if they could chill out after work and it got better.

Louis’ holding out that the same thing happens now, but they’re only at the three week mark and Liam’s break up with Sean was remarkably more volatile. This breakup was nothing like the sad goodbye at the airport when Dani had left, this one had sent furious accusations flying and ended with slammed doors and blocked phone numbers.

Louis’ never had that, before. He’s the king of amicable, passive-aggressive break ups. He didn’t have any idea how to help when Liam called him, doing his best to hide the sniffling noises as he asked Louis to tell the school he couldn’t work the next day. Louis didn’t know how to help Liam deal with the names Sean threw around, with the awful things that filled Liam’s brain.

He’d done his best, though. Louis was the one who’d been there when Sean had come to collect his things from Liam’s flat. He’d gotten nothing more than a sneer for his trouble, and a vindictive sense of gladness that Louis had thought to herd Liam out of the flat. Then that afternoon he’d sat on Liam’s couch and made Liam watch some brainless action movie to try and distract him from the empty spaces Sean’s things had left behind.

It makes an awful kind of sense that Liam didn’t tell his mum. Louis probably wouldn’t have either.

“But why would she think that it’s me?” Louis asks, before he can help himself. “You didn’t mention him once?”

It sounds more accusatory than it should and Louis winces when the words hit the air. Liam curves in on himself a little more. He shrugs his shoulders in a quick jerky motion. “It was early, you know?” he says, his gaze darting nervously up to Louis before settling on the table again. “I didn’t want to, to jinx it after Dani ...”

He wipes his hand across his face again.

“I dunno,” he says with a sigh. The rest of his sentence spills out in a mad rush. “I don’t know why, it was stupid, I — look, it doesn’t even matter, alright, I’m going to sort it — you don’t need to — ”

“I know I don’t need to,” Louis says. “I will, though.”

It’s a bit bizarre, the way he makes his decision. Liam clearly has no idea what he’s talking about and why would he? Louis hasn’t even got a fully formed plan in his head, just the bare bones of a thought and the knowledge that this might make life a little bit easier for his best friend.

Liam looks up from the table. “You will what?”

Louis swallows. Put on the spot, he doesn’t have a single clue how to explain what he’s thinking. Is it weird? He thinks. It’s probably weird. He lifts a hand to scratch awkwardly at the back of his neck.

“Uhm,” he says, “I just mean, you know, I could... pretend?”

Liam blinks at him.

Then he blinks a little more.

“What?” he says finally.

Louis feels his cheeks warming, the familiar spread of pink that’s probably stirring across his neck and around his ears. He clears his throat and attempts to look casual when he shrugs.

“I don’t know?” he says, and yeah that’s not nearly the level of unaffected he was going for. “I just — I know how shitty it is to have to admit you lied to your mum, and you’re already dealing with the whole, uhm, Sean thing.”

Liam stares at him for a little while longer. “Wait,” he says. “You don’t want me to tell her the truth?”

His voice sounds incredulous and honestly Louis doesn’t blame him.

“I don’t want you to not tell her,” Louis says, “but if you wanted to like, hold off for a bit — you could, I mean, I wouldn’t mind?”

There’s a pause.

Horrifically, Liam’s eyes start to well up.

Ordinarily, Louis would give him shit for this. But, the situation as it is, he just kind of panics.

“Oh,” Louis says, his own eyes widening in alarm. “Oh no! No, don’t — don’t do that. I didn’t mean it, I’m sorry!”

Liam flushes an awfully dramatic shade of red, hunches his shoulders and wipes at his eyes. When he looks back up at Louis, he’s blinking furiously.

“You’re a really good friend, Louis,” he says.

Louis really doesn’t know how to deal with it. His own blush heats up again, and he awkwardly looks down at his own hands. “Well,” he says, “I mean, you’d do it for me?”

Liam still looks a little teary.

Louis sighs. “Knock it off, you know you would,” he says — and it’s a bit ridiculous that Louis knows that so resolutely but he does — “And if I can help to make your life a bit easier right now, of course I don’t mind.”

“Only if you’re sure,” Liam says resolutely. 

Louis doesn’t even pause. “I am.”

And he is. Honestly. It’s not like it’s going to be hard, he already spends eighty percent of his time with Liam anyway. And Liam’s mum lives miles away so it’s really just a matter of a few convincing phone calls. It’s no skin of Louis’ back, especially not if it means that Liam might start smiling again.

And there it is. A hint Liam’s familiar optimism shining through all the sadness and the bullshit he’s had to put up with these last few weeks.

If anything seals the deal, it’s that.


“One quick question, Payno,” Louis says a few minutes later. “Your mum might’ve mentioned a wedding?”

“Oh,” Liam says. “Shit.”


Four weeks later, Louis finds himself in the passenger seat of Liam’s car, speeding down the motorway. Their suitcases have taken up all the room in the backseat, save for right behind Louis’ seat, where a crisp suit bag hangs.

“Alright!” Louis says. He claps his hands, rubbing them together for absolutely no reason at all before he manages to control himself. He grabs his own knees, palms smoothing over the denim of his jeans in an effort to keep himself still. “Yes! We’re doing this; let’s do this thing, Payno!”

There’s a good chance his nerves are getting the better of him.

Liam notices, because Liam notices everything.

“Lou?” he asks, his voice annoying cautious. “You alright?”

Louis pointedly ignores the ‘thump, thump, thump’ of his heart beat and nods enthusiastically. “Better than ever, Payno!” he says. “Why?

He’s talking much louder than the small car requires, but he just can’t seem to help himself.

The points of Liam’s brows come together in the middle, and he frowns. “You keep calling me ‘Payno’,” he says.

Louis shrugs. “Course I do,” he says, his face scrunching up. “That’s our thing, that’s what we do, we’rebros.”

Liam watches him for a few silent seconds, his increasingly concerned gaze flicking from the road to Louis face. “Okay,” he says after a beat, “I think there’s a rest stop up ahead, I’m going to pull over and — ”

“What? No!”

“Louis, come on, you clearly need a breath of fresh air or something, you’re freaking out,” Liam says.

“Excuse you, Liam,” Louis says. “I’m fine. I’m wonderful. Great, even.”

Liam shoots him a blank look, a look that would probably be more serious if Liam didn’t have to keep an eye on the road at all times. There is silence in the car for about a minute. Then:

“Quiz me again,” Louis orders.

Liam groans. “Louis,” he whines. “Why?”

“You know why.”

“You already know everything,” Liam continues to protest. “We’ve been doing this for weeks.

Louis puffs up his chest indignantly. “And we’ll keep doing it as long as we can, Liam James,” he says with a frown. “If I’m going to be your boyfriend, I’m going to be the best damn boyfriend your family has ever seen.”

Liam slumps in his seat, gazing forlornly at the road that spills out ahead of them. (For someone who’s been shooting Louis so many judgemental looks, he’s done a remarkable job at keeping the car between the white lines. Liam’s always been a good multi-tasker.)

“You do realise that that’ll just make my mum hate all of my real boyfriends, right?” Liam says.

“Course I realise that,” Louis replies. “That’s my plan.

Liam groans again. After a second though, it’s clear he’s been in enough arguments with Louis to know how this one will end. He lets out a heavy, exhausted sigh.

“Fine,” he says. “What’s my mother’s name?”

Louis rolls his eyes. Liam doesn’t notice, though; too busy watching the actual road as he drives.

“Liam, come on!” Louis says, getting vocal. “This is a quiz, I need the hard questions.”

“You didn’t even answer!” Liam says.

“God, it’s Karen, alright? Your mother’s name is Karen.”

The corner of Liam’s lips tug upwards like he’s pleased with himself. Smug bastard.

“And my dad?”

Louis shoots Liam a very cold look, the impact of which is softened by the fact that Liam’s still not fucking looking. “Geoff,” Louis huffs.

“My sisters?”

Now Louis kind of wishes Liam had pulled over the car. Then he could give him a good punch in the arm for being difficult. (He refuses to acknowledge that any of this behaviour might have stemmed from his own influence. Nope. Absolutely not.)

“Liam, stop being stupid. I’m supposed to be remembering the bridal party — you know that group of some of your oldest friends who’ll be expecting me to know at least something about them?”

My sisters,” Liam says again.

Louis’ eyes narrow to slits. “Ruth and Nicola,” he says flatly.

Liam finally, finally turns his head — but before Louis can convey any of the righteous fury that’s boiling in his core, Liam grins sunnily at him.

“Okay!” he says, looking incredibly pleased with himself. “You did well.” Just as Louis’ about to abandon all thoughts of road safety and punch Liam in the fucking neck, Liam continues. “Now, tell me who’s getting married.”

Louis takes a long, deep breath — employing the calming breathing techniques his ex had taught him about in uni — and swallows down his fury. Ultimately, he’s got what he wanted.

There’s a wicked look in Liam’s eye that suggests he knows it too, but Louis decides to pointedly ignore it.

“Your fake cousin, Niall,” Louis says. And this is where it gets a little more confusing.

Louis has this much so far: Niall’s family and Liam’s family had lived next door to each other for as long as Liam can remember, and he’d grown up with Niall around twenty four/seven. They had the strange relationship that all children of family friends do. They weren’t friends at school — in fact, they’d attended separate schools. Liam had gone to the neighbourhood public school, but Niall had been enrolled at one of the private schools a little further away — but at home, they’d been inseparable.

And the same could be said for their mothers. When the Horan’s had moved in next door, Liam had explained when they’d first started to prepare Louis for the wedding; Karen had just found out that she was expecting another baby. And when she found out that her neighbour was not only also expecting, but had a son Nicola’s age, she’d been over the moon. Greg and the girls never quite hit it off, Nicola had always been happier to play with Ruth and their dolls than go and wrestle with the boy next door, but Niall and Liam had become life long friends.

Mum says they never really gave me or Niall a choice,” Liam had joked. “They were always getting coffee and over at each other’s houses and course they had to bring the babies with them so, like, there wasn’t much stopping it.” 

They’re practically family, is the point. Liam even called Niall’s parents Uncle Bobby and Auntie Maura.

“I don’t know why you’re even stressed,” Liam says, after Louis recites all this back to him “You’re totally on top of it, it’s all sorted.”

Logically, that’s correct. Emotionally, however, Louis’ heart is still thrumming like a hummingbird’s caught beneath his chest. Wolverhampton, a sign on the side of the road whizzes past. 30 Miles.

He says it again in his head as they get closer, and Liam doesn’t seem to mind as Louis gets a little quieter. (In fact, he seems almost glad.) Karen, Louis thinks. Karen, Geoff, Nicola, Ruth, Niall, Maura, Bobby. Niall’s got a brother named Greg, who’s going to be at the wedding as well, and a nephew named Theo.

Well, Louis thinks. If all else fails, he’s good with kids. People are always charmed by the guy that makes the toddlers laugh.

He can’t remember Greg’s wife’s name though, but he’ll probably get away with that one. After all, it’s not like he’s actually met any of these people. And while he expects there to be a general expectation that he’s heard of them, that Liam’s talked about all of them while he and Louis were frolicking around Manchester doing couple-y things, he’s sure they’ll introduce themselves when he gets there.

But that’s not what he’s nervous about.

The Horan’s and the Payne’s are so close, is the thing. And Karen had been insistent when they’d spoken to them on the phone. This wasn’t just a day trip — stay for the night so you can enjoy the reception, then drive home with a hangover the following day. Instead, Louis and Liam would be staying for the week — helping set up and organise all the last minute details for the wedding itself, and giving Liam the chance to plan an exceptional bachelor party. (Aside from coaching Louis, Liam had spent the last few weeks obsessing over those plans and his best man’s speech.)

It’s a long haul con, basically, and Louis’ not sure his twelfth grade drama skills were up to the task.

By the time they arrived at Liam’s childhood home, Louis’ heart had leapt right up into his throat. His skin, he was certain, was now a few shades paler.

Liam pulled the car into the driveway — slotting in behind a pretty blue car that almost certainly belonged to one of Liam’s sisters. Another car, this one parked on the street, probably belonged to the other sister. They’d both arrived the night before.

Louis swallows heavily.

Liam drops a hand on Louis’ shoulder, looking impossibly guilty. “You don’t have to do this, you know,” he says. “I could take you to the train station right now; I’ll buy you a ticket.”

Louis shoots him a weak smile. “You trying to get rid of me?”

Liam rolls his eyes, shaking his head a little. He looks fond though, and he rubs his thumb across Louis’ shoulder. It’s nice, comforting, that Liam is really ready to let Louis leave if this gets too hard. Reassured, Louis takes a deep breath and shrugs the hand off.

“None of that mate,” he says, looking pointedly at Liam’s hand. “We’re dating now, if you want to make me feel better its hand holding or nothing.”

The look Liam gives him is very, very dry — but he holds out his hand nonetheless. Touched, but very careful not to let it show, Louis’ reaches out and takes it. Liam’s palm is super sweaty, and somehow he holds hands the wrong way, but it’s a nice little gesture and Louis suddenly doesn’t feel quite as panicky.

There’s a pause.

“We’ve got to get out of the car,” Liam says.

“Right, yeah,” Louis says.

They drop hands and move to their separate doors. Louis’ packed pretty light, just a simple shoulder bag — and Liam’s only got a small rolling suitcase. As such, Louis is the one who grabs his suit from the backseat.

They pause on the porch for a long, final moment. Remember to breathe, Louis tells himself. You must remember to breathe.

“This is going to be fine, right?” Liam says quietly, as they stare at the closed door.

Louis swallows, nodding his head jerkily. “Absolutely,” he says, “Yeah. It’s going to be fine.”

His voice wavers a little bit on the ‘fine,’ but they both ignore it.

“Okay,” Liam says.

“Okay,” Louis says.

They’re silent again, for a beat.

“Hold my hand again?” Louis says.

Liam’s grabbed his hand before Louis’ even finished asking. Then, before either of them can think it through any further, Liam knocks resolutely on the door. This is good, Louis thinks, they’re a united front.

“This is going to be fine,” Louis says, one final time to himself.

The door swings open.

“Oh,” Louis says.

“Oh,” Harry says back.

Alright then, Louis thinks as he stares across the threshold at the ex-love of his life. This probably isn’t going to be fine.