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Grow into you

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Louis likes being fourteen. Fourteen means he can go out with his friends without his mum coming along, it means he can go for sleepovers at Liam’s place or Zayn’s , it means he doesn’t have to go back home before it gets dark. It also means he is in his second year of secondary school.

Six months into his school year he decides he likes it; not school per se, - who likes doing school work anyway? – but the school is a lot bigger, there were a lot of new people who he’s made friend with, though of course Liam and Zayn are still his closest friends, and he thinks its just exciting, not being in primary school anymore. It’s even better now, when he’s not in the youngest group at school anymore.

Today is Saturday, the first day of their half-term holiday and Louis is meeting up with Liam and Zayn at the park. He takes his skateboard with him shouting an ‘I’m going mum’, so loud that she can’t possibly have missed it even with all the noise the girls are making. He makes quick work of getting there with his skateboard, even if he does come close to running into a few people who shout words angrily at him, the type of words that should shock and intimidate him but don’t really because he’s not in primary school anymore and he’s used to hearing them from older students.

Liam and Zayn are already there when he arrives and he quickly chucks the skateboard away, eager to play some footie with his friends, though it’s more of kicking a ball around than playing footie, what with them only being a group of three. Louis will have to make sure to invite some more of his friends from school next time.
“What took you so long anyway?” Liam asks, kicking the ball towards Zayn.
Louis shrugs, there’s no specific reason really, he’s just incapable of ever being on time for anything.

When they tire of playing, they lay around on the grass, sweaty regardless of the temperature which can’t be over six or seven degrees. They figure it will help them cool off, so they stick around for a while.

Louis looks around, distracted, and can’t help but notice a boy seating on a bench about ten meters away. There are lots of benches at the park, but the boy is seating on the one that is just next to the playground where little kids are playing with their parents watching them. What is funny about the boy is that he is looking at them, watching. Louis thinks he recognises him, is sure he’s seen the boy around a few times on the street, guesses he probably lives close by. He also knows that every time he’s seen this boy he’d been alone, just like he was now. He shrugs it off; he’s probably one of those weird kids who have no friends.

When his teeth start chattering from the cold Liam decides they should go, so the boys pick up their discarded jackets and bundle up in their scarves and gloves and set off on their way after agreeing to meet up again the next day.


Louis has nine days in total to do the half-term homework they were set, but keeps putting it off in order to go meet up with his friends, or just do about anything really, you know, except for homework.

On the last Saturday of their break he goes to the park again, with Liam this time, Zayn having left to spend the day at a relative’s house, which is something Louis’ family almost never do, not being close with the rest of his relatives. It doesn’t bother him, from what Zayn tells him there’s always a bunch of little kids running around screaming and crying, and no matter how much Louis loves his little sisters he has enough of that at home.

“I shouldn’t be here” Liam says, he seems a bit flustered and all Louis can do is roll his eyes.
“I haven’t done my homework yet.” Oh yes, and there it is, the guilty face.
“So?” He kicks the ball back at Liam “I haven’t either.”
“Yeah, but that’s you” He says it as if it explains everything. Louis supposes it does.
“How come you haven’t done it yet anyway? It’s usually the first thing you do.”
“Do you even have to ask?”
Louis looks at him confused.
“It’s your fault!”
“How is it my fault?” He feels a bit affronted now.
“Well, you keep coming up with things for us to do everyday and now I haven’t had time to do any of it and I only have one day left and I’ll never have time to finish it all” He seems to just freak out more the longer he keeps talking.
“Liam calm down! Gee, if you’re so scared about it then just go home and do it!”
“I’m not scared” he scowls.
“Yeah, yeah whatever. Just go alright? Before you end up giving me white hairs or something”
“Sorry. Fine. I’ll just… You’ll be alright?”
Another roll of eyes.
“Yes Liam” he sighs.
“Well… okay then, I’ll see you on Monday yeah?” he turns around and is gone before Louis can answer. That boy and his homework, Louis shakes his head. He thinks he’ll never understand it.

He goes back to playing around with his ball, but he get bored soon, doesn’t really like playing alone. He picks up his ball, intending to go home but his eyes fall on a boy sitting across from him. It’s that boy again, the one with the messy, shaggy hair that he never sees with anyone else; and he’s watching him again.

Louis huffs angrily and starts off on his direction. He can see, even from where he is the boy’s eyes widening in surprise. He stops once he’s a few feet away from the boy and crosses his arms.
“Why do you keep watching me?” He asks, voice sounding harsher than necessary, but the boy only shrugs his shoulders in response. Louis is not taking it.
He sees the boys’ cheeks turning red, and he looks down at the ground before looking back up at Louis who’s still waiting for an answer.
“I like you” the boy says simply leaving Louis both confused and embarrassed.
“What? You can’t like me.”
“Why what?”
“Why can’t I like you?” Louis looks at him with wide eyes, thinking that this is definitely not what he was expecting from this conversation.
“Because. You’re not supposed to. You don’t even know me!”
The boy looks down at the ground again, ashamed; shuffling his feet that just barely seem to reach the ground and Louis can’t help but take pity on him.
“How old are you anyway?” He thinks the boy can’t be any older than ten with his chubby cheeks and features that are too big for his face.
“Twelve” he says and Louis scoffs impatiently.
“Yeah right.”
“I am!”
“Whatever.” Louis turns back around, walking away from the boy. He feels quite cold and wonders whether his mum will be in a good mood when he gets home and make him some hot chocolate, or tea. Louis likes tea.

He is aware as he walks that there is someone walking behind him, but it’s only when he turns a corner into the narrow alleyway that leads out of the park that he sees in his peripheral vision the same boy from before, skipping and humming happily as he looks at his own feet. Louis shakes his head, sure that the boy can’t be twelve, but he halts and waits until the boy looks up again.
“Are you following me?”
“You are!” Louis says, accusingly.
“I’m not!”
Louis rolls his eyes.
“Where’s your mum anyway?” Louis knows that if one of the girls walked out of his mum’s sight when they were out that she’d definitely be freaking out.
“Home” Louis frowns.
“She doesn’t mind you going out by yourself?”
“Of course not. I’m twelve!” he sounds a bit indignant now, it’s quite amusing.
“Right.” Louis nods along, “just stop following me okay?”
“Okay” he says meekly.
Louis nods again, satisfied. He thinks of Liam’s and Zayn’s faces when he tells them that he had a ten year old following him around. Chuckling to himself he doesn’t notice or hear the light sounds of footsteps that are not his.
He doesn’t see the boy again, too busy running around with his friends or being forced by his mum to go revise for his exams. She’s promised him he can have the mobile phone he’s been pestering her about for months if he gets good results. He also has to choose his GCSE subjects, a matter Liam seems to take very seriously.
“I can’t choose!” he cries out one day at school. Louis and Zayn just look at him amused.
“How can they expect us to choose only four out of all of these?” They laugh at him, not only Louis and Zayn but the others who are sitting around the table. It’s not malicious laughter. Though Liam is by far the most studious guy in their group, he is also kind of endearing and just about nice to everyone, so no one ever picks on him for it, instead just tease him playfully.
“Calm down Li, it’s fine just choose the ones you like the most.” Zayn tells him.
“Have you guys decided yet?” Liam asks.
“Yep, I crossed out the ones I didn’t want and then closed my eyes and picked four” Stan says.
Louis grins, the others laughing around him.
“That’s an excellent idea!” He praises, taking out his wrinkled form from the bottom of his bag. He’s already chosen music and drama, so he has only two more to choose from. He closes his eyes and starts picking though his finger seems to always end up in one of those subjects he is certain he doesn’t want to spend two years doing, so he has to do it a few times. He ends up with P.E and Spanish, and shrugs, thinking it could be worse, so he ticks them and fills in his name and everything else he needs to at the top, while the others keep talking around him.
“Done!” He shouts, accomplished.
“So, what are you doing?” They ask curious.
“Music, Spanish, P.E and Drama” He recites.
“Really? Spanish?” Zayn sounds doubtful.
“P.E? I’m thinking about taking that one” Liam muses.
“Could be worse” Stan agrees.
“Yeah, but Spanish?” Zayn is still sceptical, and Louis doesn’t blame him.
“Yeah, you suck at accents, let alone another language.” Cher agrees.
Louis rolls his eyes.
“It’s my fate to study – or not – Spanish, so I shall do it.” He says, solemn.
They roll their eyes, snickering, but let the subject drop.

When he tells his mum, she’s really just happy that he’s finally decided on something.
The summer holidays start on the 22nd of July, which Louis thinks is unfair because summer is half gone by then already, but he is just happy about not having to wake up at 7:30AM everyday.

He’s walking down his neighbourhood towards the nearest shop, one of those small ones that are always open. His mum asked him to go get some more milk and he just took it as an excuse to get out of the house, because it was blistering hot in there.

He’s about two roads down his house when he catches sight of that boy from the park, he is on the other side of the road, thankfully, standing next to a bike much too big for him, he sees the boy drop the bike on the small, grassy front garden before running inside the house.

Louis can’t help but feel a bit silly for thinking the boy was following him all those months ago, when he really just lived close to Louis’ house.

Louis sighs, bored. His mum asked him to take the twins to the park today and she didn’t even let him take his ball or video game with him, saying that he’d probably get distracted and forget to watch the girls. So there he is sitting at the bench right next to the playground, hoping those noisy birds will keep away from him and wishing he had his mobile already so at least he could text his friends or something.

He jumps when a pigeon lands a bit too close to him, and watches suspiciously as it starts to waddle away, until it’s next to a boy sitting down criss- cross on the glass. He’s seen him so many times by now that he recognises the boy immediately. He’s looking down at the bird interested, while messily licking away at an ice-cream that is melting all over his hand.

Unfortunately, or so Louis thinks, the boy looks up, catching his gaze, eyes widening before he gets up and starts walking towards Louis, who only sighs resignedly.

He watches as the boy hops up onto the bench next to him before saying a cheery “Hi”.
Louis mumbles another “Hi” back, wishing he could just ignore the boy.
“What are you doing here by yourself?” He asks, leaning forward to catch a look at Louis.
“I’m watching my little sisters.”
“Oh.” He pauses, “Are you okay?” he asks leaning forwards a bit further so that he ends up loosing his balance. Louis instinctively reaches out for him, to stop the boy from falling on his face.
“Jesus! Be careful would you?” Louis snaps at him.
“Sorry” the boy says sadly, before looking down at the ground where the ice-cream he wasn’t able to save is. Louis sighs.
“What’s your name?”
The boy looks up again, smiling; ice-cream forgotten.
“Harry!” Louis chuckles at the boy’s enthusiasm.
“I’m Louis.”
The boy – Harry grins wider, dimples appearing on the chubby, rosy cheeks that Louis can’t help but feel jealous of. He’s only been a teenager for two years but he’s already tired of having spots and pimples everywhere on his face.
They go silent then and Louis wonders how much longer he’ll have to stay here.
“What’s your school like?” Harry asks after a while. Louis looks at him sideways.
“Why do you ask?”
“I’m going there in September.” Louis frowns.
“How do you even know what school I go to?”
“I’ve seen you.” He blushes. And, of course he has, Louis thinks.
“You’re starting year eight then?”
Harry nods excitedly, and Louis mentally winces. Harry barely looks older than eleven now, and secondary school is tough. It wasn’t for Louis of course, because he’s loud and funny and he made friends faster than Liam could work out maths equations, and people just like him, but secondary school was filled with students up to the age of eighteen, and as usual the big kids just loved to pick on the smaller, wimpy looking ones like Harry, and he’d seen a fair share of them getting mocked and pushed around at school and all he can think is: poor Harry.
“Good luck then.” Louis mutters, knowing he’ll need it.
Obviously Harry doesn’t realise the problem, and no matter how annoyed he gets with the kid he can’t help it. Just. Poor Harry.
First day back at school is a drag as usual, it’s the same thing over and over again with teachers explaining everything they’ll be doing for the next two years and what the course consists of and blah, blah, blah and Louis just wants to sleep because he definitely got his sleeping pattern all mixed up during the summer and waking up this morning was just about the hardest thing he’s ever done.

He is lucky though, he admits to himself at the end of the day, because at least he’s in the same group as Liam, Zayn and Stan for English, Maths and Science which are obligatory, the same for Ethics, R.E and Games, and he has enough friends that he’s always with someone he knows on his chosen subjects, also having Zayn in his music lesson and Liam with him in P.E.

All in all it could be a lot worse.
It’s a few weeks into school when he sees Harry, he’s just coming out of the English room, watching the floor as he always seems to be doing, shoulders hunched, and Louis know immediately that he’s had a few rough weeks at school already.

When he sees Louis though, he seems to forget about it, lips stretching out in a smile as he bounds his way up to him.
“Hi Louis!” Louis looks at him amusedly, can see at the edge of his eyesight both Liam and Zayn gaping at the kid.
“Hey Harry” Louis watches as he bounces on the balls of his feet grinning up at him, but apparently he dwindles too long and the English teacher, Miss Elliot comes out of the classroom telling Harry to “Hurry up now or you’ll be late for your next class.” Harry looks down, subsided once again.
“Sorry Miss” he mumbles before hurrying away.
“Who’s that?” Liam asks him curiously as they walk in to take their places.
“Some kid who apparently ‘likes me’.” He tell them, plopping himself down on his seat.
“He likes you?” Zayn sounds amused, Liam just looks surprised.
“Apparently.” He waves over Stan who’s just walked in.
“That’s weird.”
“He’s fine.” Louis says, “Weird. But fine.”
“Who’s weird?” Stan asks once he’s close enough to hear the conversation.
“No one” Louis shrugs and they turn around once the teachers calls their attention so that they can pretend to listen while Liam takes all the notes.
He gets used to seeing a lot of Harry after that, not just him either, everybody pretty much gets used to the sigh of the lonely boy following him around. His friends don’t even blink anymore at the fact that wherever they decide to sit during lunch the curly haired boy is always, always in sight of them or, you know, the other way around. His friends find it funny, usually referring to the boy as his “pet”.

After a few months it starts to grate on Louis’ nerves, though Harry never really approaches him when he’s with his friends, he’s always just a step behind, saying hi to him every time they pass by each other on the corridors. It doesn’t matter how sad or sulky the boy is every time he sees Louis and gets a “hi” back his face always stretches out in a smile so wide Louis thinks it must be painful.

One day, Louis snaps. He finds him during lunch – not of course, that he had to look for him, he was always there.
“Harry.” Louis starts, sitting down at the table where Harry is sitting by himself.
“Louis!” Harry says happily, unplugging his earphones.
“Erm, hi.” He really wants to be firmer, harsher so he’ll finally get his point across, but Harry’s reaction to him is a bit disarming, he admits to himself.
“Look Harry, we have to talk.”
“About what?” He asks innocently. Does he really not know?
“You’ve been following me.”
“I haven’t.” The boy shakes his head.
“You have.” Louis says, annoyed at his denial, when it’s so obvious to him and everyone else in school, that yes, he has.
“’M sorry” he mumbles, looking down.
“Don’t be sorry. Just stop doing it okay?” Exasperation colours his tone and he watches annoyed as the boy’s face flushes.
“But –“
“No Harry seriously, don’t you have friends to hang out with or something?”
“Friends?” He asks it as if he’s doesn’t understand the concept, never even thought of it.
“Yes, friends. Make some and stop following me around, it’s annoying and weird.”
“But why?” Louis wonders how this can not be getting through to Harry. Is he really that oblivious?
“Because!” His voices rises “I want you to stop! I don’t like! It’s annoying having you follow me around everywhere. It’s no wonder you don’t have any friends if this is how you always are!” He gets up angrily and walks away without looking back at Harry, even if he can already feel regret at what he’s said, especially as he can hear, people laughing and snickering at the boy, but he feels torn, confused, and he doesn’t tell them to stop even though he could, if he wanted to.
He feels guilty. Louis is a lot of things yes, a joker? Sure. A slacker? Most definitely. And, okay he is a bit sarcastic, and he’s been called sassy quite a few times and admittedly he has a problem with his attitude sometimes, but Louis is not mean and his conscience keeps bothering him all day.

His friends are not helping either. Liam is looking at him reproachfully, Zayn keeps grimacing at him and even Stan keeps stealing this guarded glances at him as if he is a time bomb that will explode though he doesn’t know when.

And okay, so maybe he snaps. Again.
“I get it! Okay? I have to go apologise. Now stop looking at me like that all of you.”
Apparently though that only opens up the floodgates.
“There was no reason for you to yell at him like that.” Liam tells him.
“Yeah, well, you’re not the one he’s been stalking for the past five months” Louis sulks.
“Yeah, but still, it’s not like he was actually doing anything.” Zayn adds.
Louis sighs, looking at Stan for help.
“Sorry mate. But, you made him cry, like” he grimaces “that’s not very you is it? I mean everybody else already picks on him, and just… you know.” He shrugs at the end not knowing what to say.
“Fine, I’ll just. I’ll find him later alright?”
“Good, this is his form room, so it won’t be too hard for you to find him” Liam tells him.
“It’s not like it’s ever hard to find him. How do you know this is his form room anyway?”
“It might be now that you embarrassed the boy in front of the whole school” Liam says harshly, and Louis flinches, filled with guilt once again.
“Besides” he sighs out “He comes in here at the end of the day, and this is our last lesson” he says it slowly, in a tone that suggest an underlying “How could you possibly not know where his form is?”
“Right.” he says helplessly.

They wait with him at the end of the day, outside the classroom even though they should be going to their own forms. They can hear the teacher inside doing the register, but Harry never shows.
He doesn’t find him the next morning either. It feels weird, he realises; looking around and not seeing the messy haired kid, but he doesn’t see him anywhere, and the longer it goes the guiltier he feels.

He leaves form in a rush to get to Harry’s form room, but when he gets there the room is already empty. Dejectedly he walks towards his locker where he can dump his stuff before leaving. He closes his locker, swearing under his breath at the stiff key that keeps getting stuck in the lock and turns around feeling annoyed at his day. Really he never realised the kid could be so hard to find. All he really wants to do is apologise so he can stop feeling guilty and then forget about it and move on.

He looks up, eyes suddenly falling on a head of messy hair. He perks up quickly dodging the few people that are still around the corridors. He is just about to call out his name when he sees him trip slightly and bump into another boy who he recognises as Marcus something, and who Louis is pretty sure is in year nine.

Apparently though the boy doesn’t like being bumped into and he immediately pushes Harry, hard, and he falls to the ground with a surprised yelp.
“Watch where you’re going, you freak” he spits.
“Sorry… Twat.” Louis eyes widen and shit.
He watches as Marcus advances on Harry whose still on the floor.
“What did you just say to me?” He grounds out, and Louis thinks that this is definitely the time to interfere.
“Oi” he calls out, “What are you doing?” His voice rises in volume as he sees Marcus lifting a fist.
At the sound of his voice though, he stops looking up at Louis before grinning.
“Just teaching this freak a lesson, no need to thank me.” Louis wrinkles his nose in distaste. Does he really think he’ll just stand there and let him beat Harry up.
“I don’t think so.” He walks towards where Harry is, watching the interaction with wide, scared eyes.
“What?” Marcus asks, confused.
“You’re going to leave, and you aren’t going to bother Harry anymore.” His voice is forceful, and damn it if he can’t be scary when he wants to.

He watches as Marcus’ eyes flicker down to Harry before rightfully deciding he isn’t worth it, walking away with a scowl on his face that’s the size of the world.
“You okay?” The boy looks up at him and Louis watches bemused as slowly Harry’s face breaks out into a brilliant smile, his whole face lit up. Louis doesn’t really understand how Harry can still smile at him after what he did to him, but he doesn’t ask, instead offering a hand to help the boy up.
“Wow” he sighs out, “Thanks a bunch Louis”
Louis shrugs.
“Listen Harry, I want to apologise for yesterday” he starts but Harry is cutting him off before he can say anything else.
“It’s okay Lou” he shakes his head.
Louis startles a bit at the nickname, but considering he kind of owes the kid for what he did he lets it go.
“Ugh, are you sure?” he feels a bit awkward, wasn’t really expecting such easy forgiveness.
“Course” he says happily, nodding.
“Huh” it annoys him that being forgiven so easily only makes him feel guiltier. That was definitely not the plan.
They start off together towards the exit doors and god, the boy is practically skipping, and it’s really no wonder he gets picked on so often.
“What happened to you yesterday?” Louis can’t help but be curious.
“What do you mean?” Harry looks up at Louis, big, round green eyes staring happily up at him, and Louis wonders how he could ever have been mean to a boy with such a baby face. Damn it, he must be an awful person.
“I was looking for you, but you didn’t show up for registration.”
Harry’s eyes widen, mouth parting in surprise and awe, as if the fact that Louis came to look for him is the most amazing, unexpected thing he’s ever heard.
“Yeah…so what happened?” Louis is a curious person okay?
“Oh, mum came to pick me up early” Louis’ stomach churns a bit as he forces out a “why?” he really, really hopes it’s not because he was upset. Really, really hopes.
“Oh she promised to take me out for the day, so she took me to London to watch this musical, and it was brilliant!” He’s practically bouncing on his feet in excitement now, but Louis just feels more curious.
“Why did she promise that?”
“Well, it was my birthday yesterday!” Louis halts, feeling his breath rush out of him, because this is a lot worse than what he thought; a lot worse than him being upset. Louis can’t help but feel like the worst person ever.
Harry tries after that, even Louis has to admit it, but it’s not like he stops following him around like some lost puppy, it’s just that he becomes a lot more sneaky, so that Louis doesn’t spot him. His friends do though, every once in a while, and Louis just sighs giving up. If that’s how Harry wants to spend his time, it’s fine with him as long as he doesn’t start coming up to him as well, or expects Louis to talk to him. He tells this to Harry one day, and watches Harry’s face falling in disappointment.

Still, something changes after that day. They still don’t really talk to each other, but whenever Louis sees someone picking on Harry, and it happens more than he had ever noticed, he always makes sure to shoo whoever it is away and that Harry is fine before going back to his friends. He learns one day, that Liam, Zayn and Stan do the same thing when Louis isn’t around, and he is grateful, because he feels somewhat responsible for the kid, even if it is ridiculous.
That summer is different; very different from the last. That summer, Louis realises he’s not interested in girls, or at least he’s not interested in them the same way his friends are, Zayn often talks about the latest girl he’s snogged, and Liam seems incapable of stop talking about this girl in their year – Danielle or Gabrielle or something.

He thinks many of them are pretty; beautiful even, but he often finds them as annoying as he finds them pretty. Maybe he wonders to himself, maybe he just hasn’t found the right girl yet.

Another thing that’s different is that he finds out that his friends actually like Harry, and he’s got to admit, that comes as a surprise for him.

They are at the park again, Louis, Liam and Zayn. It’s really their best option since they don’t have any beaches close by. This time though Zayn keeps getting distracted by passing girls in short shorts, while Liam never stops looking around. Louis is pretty sure he’s looking for that Danielle girl.
“How do you even know she’s going to be here?” Louis asks after about half an hour of Liam trying to strain his neck.
“I don’t.”
Louis stares at him, can see Zayn doing the same.
“So why are you looking for her?” Zayn asks practically taking the words out of Louis’ mouth.
“Just in case.” He shrugs.
Both Louis and Zayn look at each other amused.
“Oh hey, isn’t that Harry?” he nods his head towards a boy sitting under a tree that Louis immediately recognises as Harry.
“Should we go say hi?”
Louis groans “Do we have to?”
“Yes. Come on.” Liam says, already getting up.
“But why?” He’s whining now, but can you blame him?
“Because he’s your friend. Come on, don’t be rude” Liam nudges him with his foot signalling for him to get.
“Fine.” He huffs out.

He looks at Harry where he is sitting in the shade; he has a book in his lap which he seems to be writing on. At least it doesn’t look like he was watching them, Louis thinks. It must be some kind of improvement, maybe he’s finally getting over this hero-worship thing he has with Louis.
“Hey Harry!” Liam calls out once they are close.
Harry looks up confused, pulling his earphones out and looking up at Liam. Louis sees his eyes going from Liam to Zayn to finally fall on Louis, a bright smile appearing on his face as soon as he sees him and Louis mentally sighs because, nope, apparently he is still no over this thing he has about Louis, whatever it is.
“Hi Louis!” he says, completely ignoring Liam’s greeting.
His friends chuckle, amused, while Louis flushes a bit in embarrassment.
“Hey Harry.” He mumbles.
“What are you doing there?” Zayn asks.
“Oh!” he looks down, “ nothing really, just doodling”
Zayn grins, he’s quite big on art, and drawings of any kind.
“Oooh, let’s see” He grabs the book quickly, ignoring Harry’s protests.
“Holy…!” he trails off, looking at the book with wide eyes. Louis really can’t be blamed for getting curious.
“What?” Both him and Liam ask at the same time.
“This is brilliant Harry!” He shoves the sketchbook at Liam and Louis quickly moves next to him to see it. There’s a small picture of a girl stuck to the corner of the page, a pencil drawing covering the rest of it. The drawing is so good; it actually looks like a picture itself even though it has no colour. Louis stares at it for a few minutes.
“Who is that?” Liam asks, after looking at the drawing from every angle possible.
“That’s my sister, Gemma.”
“You have a sister?” Louis’ surprised about that, he’s never seen the boy with anyone else, nor has he ever even heard him talking about anyone else.
“Yes, she’s eighteen, and she’s leaving for uni soon.” Harry frowns. Louis wonders if he’s close with her, he is close with his little sisters regardless of the age gap and he’d definitely miss them if one of them left to live with their dad or something.
“Well, it’s a really good drawing Harry.” Louis tells him.
“Really?” he perks up.
“Thanks Lou!”
Louis can feel his cheeks flushing again and can see both Zayn and Liam trying to hide their laughter.
“Well, anyway. We’ll see you around, yeah Harry?” Liam says; always the nice guy.
Harry nods enthusiastically and calls out a “Bye Louis!” as they walk away.
As soon as they’re far enough his friends burst out in laughter.
“Oh, shut up.” Louis snaps at them.
“Sorry, Lou” Liam is breathless now, eyes full of mirth, “it’s just that, he’s so. He’s so…”
“Cute!” Zayn finishes for him.
Louis rolls his eyes, “he’s embarrassing.”
“Don’t be mean Lou, he just has a bit of a crush, it’s adorable really.” Liam admonishes him.
“Yeah, yeah. Whatever.”
On a Thursday morning, he takes Phoebe and Daisy to their ice-skating lesson. He grumbles about it a bit, mostly because he had to wake up at 8:00 am. He sits on the bleachers, half watching, half playing on his phone. He would call the boys but he is pretty sure they’d kill him for waking them up so early.

He smiles and waves every time the girls do something, wonders if his mum ever feels this proud when any of them do anything.
Louis startles at the voice, turning around to see Harry sitting next to him, a dejected look on his face; and sure, it’s not like they live in a huge city, or even a city at all, but this is a bit much.
“Harry, what are you doing here?” Louis thinks he has a right to feel suspicious, the boy has been stalking him for over a year, but Harry only sighs a bit sadly.
“Gemma convinced me to come for lessons with her, but I’m not very good at it” He blows his curly fringe out of his eyes and Louis looks down, noticing for the first time that the boy has got skates on. Oh.

God, now he’s getting paranoid.

“Is this your first lesson?”
“How do you know you’re bad at it then? Everybody is bad at their first lesson.” Louis’ never seen the boy looking so downcast, it’s a bit weird really.
“Because I fell more times that everybody else put together” he answers, flatly.
Louis thinks that it’s really, really strange to hear the boy talking like that.
“Why don’t you go back on the ice, and I’ll watch and tell you whether you have any hopes of succeeding in this?” Louis asks, he’s only trying to be nice really. Even if the boy hadn’t told him he was bad at it, Louis would have suspected so, he could barely walk straight without tripping on normal ground, let alone ice.
“Really?” He looks up at Louis surprised.
“Yeah, go on.” He shoos him away, and watches as Harry trips over his feet as soon as he takes the first step.

In the next twenty minutes, Harry proved that Louis’ theory was right. Louis on the other hand couldn’t stop wincing every time the boy fell, and it turned out that Harry was right too: he did fall more times than everyone else put together.

When he comes back to Louis, grimacing and rubbing at his elbows, Louis smiles at him, feeling bad for the boy, maybe it would have been kinder to just let the boy give up.
Harry sighs, sitting next to him again.
“That wasn’t so bad.”
Harry shoots him a look that says “are you stupid?” and it surprises Louis so much he actually laughs.
“Okay.” Louis admits, “You’re pretty bad.”
Harry nods sadly, “Mum always said I have two left feet.”
And truer words were never spoken, Louis thinks.
Louis looks up once he hears his name being called, sees his sisters running up to him. The sight made a lot funnier because of the skates they still have on their feet.
“Lou! What do you think? How did we do?” They ask excitedly.
“You were great girls.” He tells them even though he didn’t watch them much for the last few minutes, kneels in front of Daisy to start undoing her laces.
“Who’s this Lou?” Phoebe asks, looking up at Harry.
“That’s Harry.” He is distracted with helping Daisy, and is surprised when he looks up to see Phoebe on the sit next to Harry, tugging at his hair, while Harry smiles at her.
“I’m Phoebe,” she tells him, “and I like your hair! It’s pretty.”
Harry grins, “Thanks,” he lets her play with his hair, seemingly unbothered.
“Phoebe! Leave him alone.” Louis chastises her.
“I don’t mind.” Harry says happily. Apparently he’s over his disaster of a lesson.
Louis just shakes his head, helping Phoebe with her skates.
“Come on then loves, lets get going” Louis says once he’s got them ready.
They both hold on to each of his hands, turning around to wave at Harry who waves back and calls out a bye to Louis.

Louis just shakes his head.
On Saturday Liam drags Louis and Zayn to the mall with him. Apparently Danielle will be there. Louis couldn’t help but roll his eyes once he heard that.

Zayn is bored. Louis is dozing off on his shoulder. Liam is blabbing about how great Danielle is. All in all Louis thinks this day could be going a lot better. Apparently though, this day is not destined to be a good one.
“Oh hey there’s Harry.” Louis jumps as soon as he hears the boy’s name.
“Over there, look” Liam points to where harry is sitting by a bench a thin (picture book?) in his hands, he can also see the boy taking small glances over it every thirty seconds or so.
He groans.
“He followed me here, didn’t he?”
“Seems so” Zayn shrugs.
“Don’t be so big-headed” Liam says “come on”
“Noo, not again” he whines but Zayn just pulls him up dragging him up to where Harry is.
“Hi Louis” he says, smiling happily, Louis just gives him a faint smile.
“So Harry, did you get the lessons then?” Louis looks at Liam, confused at his question.
“Oh yes! I finally convinced mum to pay for the lessons, I had to give up ice-skating with Gemma though, but I don’t really mind” Harry smiles sheepishly.
“Wait, what lessons?” Louis is admittedly confused.
“Harry is taking piano lessons” Zayn tells him.
“I just had my first lesson a few days ago, and Greg told me to buy this book” he shows them the book Louis thought was a picture book that says ‘piano for beginners’ on the cover “he told me to practise them at home. I can’t though because I don’t have a piano yet, but mum says she’ll buy me one in a while if I don’t change my mind, I don’t think I will though, playing piano is a lot more fun than ice-skating” he says it all in one breath and Louis has to concentrate to catch it all.

They left him a few minutes later so they could go back to their Danielle hunt. Louis isn’t really sure what to think, he just blurts out the first thing that comes in mind.
“How did you know Harry’s taking piano lessons?”
Liam looks at him surprised.
“He told me the other day.”
“Since when do you talk to him?” he sounds harsher than he intended, but it’s still a good question.
He flares up in annoyance when he sees Zayn and Liam exchange a look.
“Louis” Liam starts cautiously, “what exactly is your problem with Harry?”
Louis gapes at him for a few seconds.
“Are you serious? He’s been following me around for over a year, and you ask me what my problem with him is?”
“He just wants to be your friend Louis, what’s so bad about that?” Zayn asks.
“What’s wrong is that I don’t want to be his friend! Why can’t he understand that?”
“He is not bad you know” Liam tells him, “Sure he’s a bit starry eyed when it comes to you, but he’s actually quite nice.”
Louis is angry, can’t really believe he’s fighting with his friends because of that kid.
He catches sight of Harry again, he’s standing in front of a window display of a music store, staring at the piano inside, leaning forwards as if he wants to just melt through the glass.

Louis starts off in his direction, determined to get the boy to stop with this whole thing.
“Harry” he starts. His hands are clenched and he knows, knows that he has to calm down; he doesn’t want to regret this or feel guilty later, but he just has to make Harry understand. Has to.

Harry smiles cautiously at him, and Louis thinks that perhaps he’s picked up on Louis’ mood.
“What is it Lou?”
“Don’t call me that.” Louis says curtly, “look Harry I know it might be hard for you to understand, but I want you to stop with all this okay? You’ve been stalking me for a year and now you just think you can steal my friends too?” It might be petty, but Louis is not thinking about that right then, all he thinks about is the fact that Harry’s become a much bigger part of his life than he ever wanted him to be.
“I’m not Lou. I’m not trying to –
“And I don’t want you following me around anymore, and for God’s sake don’t say you haven’t been!” His cuts him off, voice strained and he takes a deep breath, trying to calm down.

Harry just looks tongue-tied, unable to say anything.
“I don’t like it, and I don’t like you okay?!” His chest is heaving.
Harry looks up at him with big, watery green eyes.
“But Lou – I thought. I thought we were friends.
“We’re not, and I don’t want to be your friend Harry, just give it up okay?!”

He walks away then, ignoring the looks Liam and Zayn are giving him. He is not going to feel guilty over this. He’s not.
When he meets Eleanor, he thinks he’s finally found the right girl for him. She’s pretty and funny and they spend most of their time together, Louis kind of wishes summer would never end.
When school starts up again, all Louis can think about is how he still has three more years to go.

They walk around school holding hands, and Louis can’t help but feel a bit smug about it. He kind of likes Eleanor and the fact that she likes him too makes him feel a little bit kind of invincible.
“I’ll see you at lunch?” She asks him before they part ways.
“Course! I’ll be waiting” He smiles at her, leaning down to peck her lips and watches as she walks away. His eyes catch on to Harry’s for a second who’s standing in front of his locker, Louis frowns warningly at him and Harry flushes looking down quickly.

Satisfied, Louis starts off towards his class, he’s got Spanish this morning and he thinks that’ll be a great way for him to catch up on sleep.