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Tie Your Heart

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Chapter 1

Harry’s moan roused Louis from a sound sleep. It wasn’t the good kind of moaning, the kind that meant Harry was dreaming and Louis could slowly wake him up and then they wouldn’t get out of bed for hours. No, it wasn’t that kind of moan at all; Harry sounded like he was in pain.

“Hazza?” Louis rubbed his eyes and rolled toward Harry who was lying on his stomach, elbows bent with his head resting on his hands. “Are you all right?”

“My back,” Harry said with another groan. “It’s killing me.”

Louis reached over and sunk his hand in Harry’s hair, fingers twining through his soft curls. He lightly scratched his scalp. “Just give me a second to wake up, love. I’ll go get you something.”

“Already took,” Harry said, turning his head so that he was facing Louis. It was still early, the darkness just beginning to lift. In the early morning light, Louis could see the strain etched on Harry’s features. “Didn’t help.” Harry moaned again, “God, it’s like a hundred times worse than usual. I thought it’d get better once we were done touring and off the bus, but it’s getting worse.”

“Maybe you pulled something. I think we should have a doctor take a look at you.”

“Yeah, okay,” Harry answered.

Louis was immediately concerned. Harry had always rejected the suggestion of seeing a doctor about his back. He insisted he’d always had trouble with it and he just needed to get more rest, strengthen his core and get a better mattress. The mattress had already been replaced. Their current mattress was the one Louis’ mum had gotten them for a Christmas present. She’d had them both test it first, making sure it was firm enough for Harry. Louis knew fans thought it was a strange that his answer for the favorite gift question was a new mattress from his mum, but it was an honest one. Knowing it was as much for Harry as it was for him meant a lot to Louis. They were lucky to have such supportive families. All five of them, really, but especially him and Harry.

Harry’s core strengthening was also in full effect. Louis was still enraptured by Harry’s new body. How he had gotten so fit so quickly was amazing. It seemed as if overnight he’d shot up in height and become all muscled and manly. Harry’d worked for it, of course. They had both promised they’d get to the gym regularly, but Louis was erratic, easily persuaded to skip; Harry was disciplined, and it had paid off. Louis was still learning Harry’s new body—his muscled abs, the hard planes of his chest, his impressive biceps. He loved running his hands all over, feeling out each new change. Even better, he liked exploring Harry’s lovely new body with his tongue, biting on his hip, mouthing at his stomach and making Harry giggle.

Getting more rest was always a challenge. Even with the much needed stretch of time off, they were still going to the studio, making charity appearances. It was a shame that on one of the few days they had no obligations, Harry was losing sleep from being in pain.

“Do you want me to give you a massage? See if I can loosen you up?”

“Would you? That’d be nice, yeah.”

Louis scooted closer and kissed Harry, licking into his mouth, gripping his hair in his fist and tilting Harry’s back, just a bit. He smiled at the soft sound that left Harry’s mouth. Much better than his previous groans. “’Course,” Louis said, pulling away, smiling softly at Harry.

He straddled Harry’s hips and leaned forward, starting at his neck, digging his thumbs along side his spine and then running them up to the base of his skull. Harry moaned again, but this time it was appreciative. Louis repeated his actions several more times before moving to Harry’s shoulders. He massaged them, moving his arms down a bit and working on his biceps for a moment. He marveled again at how much bigger Harry was all over. He brought his hands back to the shoulders and started working his way down the spine. When he got to the shoulder blades, Harry let out a little whimper.

“Is that too hard?” Louis asked, stopping his motions immediately.

“No. I’m just really sore there. Like, really sore. Keep going, though. I’m sure it’s helping.”

Louis started up the massage again, but eased up on the pressure at his shoulder blades. Harry stayed tense, and his breathing changed; instead of the deep relaxed breathing he begun to sink into, his breaths were now shallow, almost panting. Louis halted the motions of his hands again.

“Harry?”

“I’m all right,” Harry choked out.

Louis gave a frustrated little laugh. “No, Haz, obviously, you are not all right. I think I should stop. I don’t want to make it worse by accident.”

“No, don’t stop. It feels good.”

Louis gave a bark of laughter. “Harold,” he chided.

Harry chuckled in return. “Well, not right there, obviously. Maybe just… skip that part? Do my lower back? That always feels really good.”

“Yeah, okay,” Louis said, scooting backward so that his weight was resting on the back of Harry’s thighs. He worked on Harry’s lower back for a while, spending extra time on the dimples right above the swell of his arse, placing his thumbs in them, loosely gripping Harry around the waist.

Harry looked so good splayed out like this, once again loose and pliant. Louis’ dick, half hard since he woke up, began to stiffen as Louis moved even lower, pressing his fingers into Harry’s arse cheeks. He tilted forward, then moved his hands higher again, grabbing Harry on either side of his hips. He rocked slowly so that his dick was sliding between the cleft of Harry’s arse.

Harry laughed and gave a small groan. “Lou, I don’t think I can.”

“You don’t have to do a thing. You can just lie there,” Louis said, continuing to rock his hips gently, rubbing up against Harry’s arse.

“You’re impossible.”

“I can’t help it,” Louis said. “You know what happens when I give you a massage. How am I supposed to resist getting turned on when I’ve been rubbing my hands all over your gorgeous body for the past half hour? It’s not my fault.”

Harry laughed again. “I really can’t. There’s no way.”

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” Louis insisted, taking hold of his prick with one hand and pressing it down against Harry’s backside.

“I’m serious,” Harry said, bucking up to dislodge Louis and twisting over onto his back. When his shoulders made contact with the mattress, he arched upwards, crying out in pain.

“Jesus,” Louis said, instantly forgetting about his dick, concern for Harry overriding all else. He scrambled closer, so he was sitting on the edge of the bed next to Harry. “Haz? Are you okay?” He reached out to touch Harry whose chest was still arched off the bed, then drew his hand back tentatively, not wanting to hurt him further.

Harry slowly lowered himself back down, wincing as weight settled onto the mattress. He was gritting his teeth and his eyes were squeezed shut. He let out a deep breath when he was finally lying flat.

“I’m calling a doctor right now,” Louis said.

“Not yet,” Harry said, eyes flying open as he reached out to grab Louis’ wrist. “Just sit with me for a few minutes.” He shut his eyes again, a deep crease forming on his forehead. His fingers dug into Louis’ skin.

“Okay,” Louis said, not wanting to leave Harry’s side at the moment anyway. “I’m right here.” He reached out with his free hand to pry open Harry’s hand from his wrist. He twined their fingers together and gave a squeeze, letting Harry grip his hand as tightly as he needed. His other hand flailed uselessly for a moment, as he was still unsure if he should touch Harry or not, then it found its way to Harry’s hair; he sunk it into his curls, rubbing his head soothingly.

After a few moments, Harry’s tight hold on his hand eased and he let out another deep breath, this one sounding like relief. He opened his eyes and sought out Louis’.

“Thanks. I’m better now.”

“Jesus, Harry, what the hell was that?” Louis asked, pulling both his hands away from Harry and rubbing his face. Now that Harry seemed to be doing better, the worry and fear were sinking in.

“I told you that it really hurt.”

“Yeah, I know what you told me,” Louis snapped. “But there’s hurting and there’s… whatever the hell that was,” he said, waving a hand vaguely in Harry’s direction.

Harry reached for Louis again, grabbing at his elbow.

“Don’t be mad,” he said.

“I’m not mad,” he huffed. “I mean,” he said after a long pause, his voice much more calm, “I’m not mad at you. It’s just… you scared me.”

“I’m sorry.”

Louis laughed, frustrated. “Don’t be sorry.” He tried to pull his arm away, but Harry held firm. He lowered his hand to his thigh. “You can let go. I’m not going anywhere.”

“Maybe I don’t want to let you go,” Harry said with a smirk.

Louis rolled his eyes. “Well, good, because I’m not so easy to get rid of, you know.”

Harry’s expression changed, eyes growing sad. Louis knew what was coming. He hated this so much, more than Harry, he thought.

“I wish you didn’t have to go tomorrow.”

Louis shifted, turning so he could bring his feet up onto the bed. He lay down on his side next to Harry, propped up on his elbow so he could look him in the eye.

“I wish I didn’t have to go either.”

He reached out as if to touch Harry, and pulled his hand back again. He gave another little huffy laugh. “I’m afraid to touch you now. I don’t want to hurt you.”

“You should never be afraid to touch me. I’m okay now, really.”

Louis reached over and brushed Harry’s fringe off his face, tucking a curl behind his ear; he stroked his cheek tenderly with his fingers. “I’ll cancel it. You need me. They’ll just have to deal with it.”

“No, don’t do that. Better to get it out of the way, yeah?”

Louis looked uncertain.

“It was just a bad muscle spasm. You’re probably right that I pulled something. I’ll end up spending the next two days in bed anyway, try and give it a rest.”

“Two days in bed sounds perfect to me,” Louis said with a saucy smile and a raise of his eyebrows.

“Speaking of… how’s your dick?”

“You sweet talker, you.”

“A regular ladies’ man.”

“Yes, yes. Hilarious. You really know how to kill an erection, that’s all I have to say.”

“I’ll make it up to you. I’ll suck you off later.”

“And how are you going to do that? You can barely move.”

“You’ll just have to straddle my head and fuck my face.”

“Christ, Harry. I take it back about you killing an erection.”

-o-

As Louis and Eleanor wandered the shops, he wondered if there was any way he could cut this visit short. They were supposed to spend the entire weekend together, be seen out and about a few times, get their pictures taken. With the tour in America coming up, the powers that be still wanted to maintain a certain image. The boys had all agreed, but Louis sometimes felt resentful that he was the one who had to do all the heavy lifting—especially when he wanted nothing more than to be at home, curled up with his beautiful Harry. But now that university had started back up, Eleanor’s schedule was less flexible; this was one of the few opportunities she had available to spend time with him.

He’d got to Manchester late the previous evening, putting off leaving as long as possible. Harry seemed to be doing better and he had let Louis make a doctor’s appointment for him the following week, but something about the way Harry had cried out when his back touched the bed had stirred alarm in Louis; he hadn’t been able to shake his uneasiness since. Louis pulled his phone out of his pocket and sent another text.

You doing ok? Miss you. Xx

Louis kept checking his phone, wondering where Harry was, why it was taking him so long to reply. He was about to call him when he heard his phone indicate he had a new text.

I’m fine.. stop worrying. Miss you too x

Can’t stop. Want to come home.

It’s just 1more day. I’m fine.. promise. Call me later?

Yeah, ok. Love you. Xx

Love you too x

Louis smiled and put his phone away. He looked up to see Eleanor staring at him, arms crossed, waiting. She rolled her eyes and shook her head, smiling. Louis gave a little shoulder shrug in reply and said, “Sorry. That was Harry.”

She gave him a look as if he were unbelievably stupid. Of course she knew who he was texting while grinning like a fool. She was a remarkably good sport about all this. Louis suspected Eleanor would much rather be out having fun with her friends, but she never hesitated to step in to play the role of his girlfriend whenever she was asked. “What’s the verdict? Is he going to live?” she asked.

“Ha ha. Very funny. You didn’t see him. It was really bad.”

She gave him a look. “C’mon. Let’s go someplace crowded and grab something to eat, then we can stay in for the rest of the evening and you can skype or text or whatever for the rest of the night.”

He reached for her hand and smiled. “Thanks, El.”

A buzzing under his chest woke Louis up. Disoriented, he tried to make sense of where he was, what he was hearing. It was still pitch black. Reaching for the buzzing object, he realized it was his phone which must have somehow got set to vibrate. Louis remembered then that he and Harry had stayed up for hours talking while he lay on the futon mattress on the floor of Eleanor’s room. He must have fallen asleep talking. Louis blinked at the time displayed: 3AM. His heart started racing with anxiety.

“’Lo?” he answered, sitting upright, leaning back against the wall. “Harry?”

He heard a muffled sound on the other end of the line.

“Harry?” He tried not to panic. “What’s going on? Are you okay?”

There was another sound, like a choked sob and Louis realized Harry was crying.

”Hazza? Say something. Please, you’re scaring me.”

After another agonizing moment of heartrending noises, choked sobs coming over the line, Harry finally spoke. “Lou?”

“I’m here. I’m right here. Tell me what’s wrong, love. Please, are you okay?”

“You have to come home, Lou. I need you.”

“Fuck. Tell me what’s wrong. Harry? Please. Tell me what’s going on.”

“I need you, Lou,” Harry only repeated, sobs punctuating his words. “You have to come home. You have to. Boo, I need you to come home.”

“Yeah, yeah. Of course,” Louis said, scrambling out of the bedding and standing, stumbling about, searching for the light. “I’m leaving right now, just as soon as I tell Eleanor and grab my things. I’ll leave right away.” The light next to Eleanor’s bed clicked on, illuminating the room. She was sitting up in her bed, long hair a tangled mess around her face, his frantic conversation having woken her. She blinked sleepily, but got up and started helping him put his belongings in his bag. “Harry?” Louis spoke again. “You’ve got to tell me what’s wrong. I need to know who to call.”

“No!” Harry practically yelled. “Don’t call anyone. I don’t want anyone else. I just want you, Lou. Just you.” His words ended with more tears.

“Okay, okay,” Louis said, his voice soothing. “I’m on my way.” Eleanor had his bag packed and was holding the strap for him, helping him put it over his shoulder. “Keys?” he mouthed to her and she nodded, hurrying to her desk, looking for his car keys while Louis stayed on the phone with Harry, trying to calm him down enough to find out what was wrong. He mouthed a “thank you” to Eleanor when she handed him his keys, and then an “I’ll call you.” She nodded and walked him to the door, letting him out with a soft, “Good luck.” Louis nodded in response, but she was already forgotten as his mind shifted to focus completely on Harry.

“All right, I’m heading to the car park now,” Louis told Harry.

“Hurry, please,” Harry said. “But, you know, not too much of a hurry. Don’t get into an accident or anything.”

Louis laughed, relieved that Harry seemed to be settling down a bit from his emotional outburst. “I’ll get there as fast as I can, whilst still maintaining safe driving speed.”

“Good, that’s good.”

“Harry?” Louis asked, voice softer. “Can you please tell me what’s going on? Are you hurt? Ill? Are you sure I can’t call someone to keep you company until I get there?”

“I’m sure. I… I’ll be okay until you get here.” He was still sniffling, but he sounded calmer, as if knowing Louis was on the way was helping. “Something happened,” he said.

“What? What happened?”

“Just hurry.”

“Harry, you’re freaking me out.”

“I... I just need you to come home, all right?” His voice was rising in pitch again, as if inching back toward his previous state.

“Yeah, ok,” Louis said quickly, trying to keep Harry calm. “I’m on my way. I’ll be there soon.” He continued to murmur reassurances and endearments while waiting for Harry to get control of himself again.

“Can you just… stay on the phone with me until you get here?”

“Yeah, of course. I’m at the car now. Getting in.” He narrated his movements for Harry as he got into the vehicle and started the engine, then pulled out of the car park. “Okay, I’m on the road. I’ll be home soon.”

“Keep talking to me? Yeah? I don’t care about what.” Harry’s sounded stressed, exhausted.

“Sure, love,” Louis quickly agreed, continuing to talk about any random thing that popped into his mind, trying to keep his own panic tamped down. He needed to be strong for Harry. Even more, he needed to get home and find out what was wrong. The road to London suddenly seemed interminable.

-o-

When Louis had offered to stay home and cancel the trip to Manchester, Harry had never been more tempted to let him. He hated they had to hide their relationship, but they had all agreed it was the most practical decision, especially so early in their careers and with another American tour coming up. Most days he could handle it, accepted the logic that had led to the decision, but other days, the unfairness of it all made his mood black and rage fester like sickness in his gut. He mostly kept it all in, not wanting to make things more difficult for everyone, but some days he felt like he’d explode. Harry knew these planned visits were just as hard on Louis as they were on him, but that didn’t stop him from feeling jealous. He knew Eleanor was no threat to him, but every minute she spent with Louis was a minute that didn’t belong to Harry. Every touch, every conversation, every event they attended were ones that should, by all rights, belong to him. But that Louis had been willing to stay, to cancel the trip simply because he was worried, that alone had been enough for Harry to let him go.

He regretted it almost immediately. Once Louis was gone, the fear Harry had been trying to ignore started creeping in. He hadn’t wanted Louis to be any more worried than he already was, but the pain was intense, far worse than anything he’d felt before. He was starting to worry something was seriously wrong—serious enough to affect the band. Shifting in the bed, Harry tried to find a position that was somewhat comfortable; he had to settle for one that was barely tolerable.

The next day was miserable. Harry had only moved from the bed to use the toilet and to eat. Every movement was excruciating. He didn’t tell Louis how badly he was doing. Harry guessed Louis probably suspected things were worse than he was letting on; he was grateful that Louis and Eleanor had decided to stay to let Louis spend the night on the phone with Harry. It almost made things bearable.

When he woke, Harry knew immediately something was terribly wrong. He’d fallen asleep on his stomach, trying to keep pressure off his back. The pain, now concentrated in his shoulder blades, had multiplied a hundred fold. He felt as if he were being split open, as if his flesh was being torn from his body. He screamed, his back burning white hot, like knives were tearing through his skin. Writhing in agony, Harry tried to reach behind him, clawing at his shoulders, trying to stop whatever horror was going on behind him. He felt drops of liquid sliding down his skin, an incongruous tickle in tandem with the monstrous pain. His stomach heaved when he realized it was blood. His blood. What was happening? Terrified, Harry whimpered, sobs catching in his throat as he felt something moving, emerging from his body, part of him, yet entirely foreign—lifting, spreading, every movement agony. Then the things were coming to rest across his back, settling over his buttocks, whisper touches on the back of his thighs, feather soft. He lay there panting, trying to comprehend the impossible.

Harry had grown wings.

-o-

Louis threw his bag down by the door the second he arrived home, calling out, “Harry?”

He raced through the flat and stopped short when he flipped on the switch to their bedroom. Fear twisted through him like a knife to the gut. His heart pounded and he felt as if he couldn’t breathe as he stared at the bed; the sheets were soaked with blood.

“Harry,” he yelled, panicked. “Harry!” Louis remembered the phone in his hand and brought it up to his face, relieved to see they were still connected. “Where are you? What happened?” he demanded.

“I’m in the bathroom.”

Louis rushed over the door and turned the handle; it wouldn’t open. He called through the door. “I’m here. Unlock the door.”

There was no answer.

“Harry!” He spoke into the phone again. “Unlock the door.”

“I… I need a minute.”

Louis’ panic ratcheted up a notch. He wiped the sweat on his brow with the back of his hand. He feared the worst.

“Did… somebody hurt you? Hazza?”

“No. No, it was nothing like that.”

“What happened? There’s… there’s blood everywhere.” He swallowed, afraid to voice his other thoughts. “Did… did you hurt yourself?” He closed his eyes, hands trembling, leaning his forehead against the door while he waited for Harry’s answer.

“What? No. God, no.”

Louis was flooded with relief. The thought that Harry had harmed himself was too horrible to contemplate. “Then was there some sort of accident? There’s so much blood. I should call someone.”

“No!” Harry’s response was immediate. “No,” he repeated in a calmer voice. “Don’t call anyone. I don’t want them to see me.”

“If you’re trying to reassure me, you’re doing a shit job of it. Open the fucking door.”

“Just wait.”

“Harry—”

“Just give me a fucking minute.”

“I need to see that you’re all right. Unlock this goddamn door.”

“I’m not all right. Okay? I’m not fucking all right. I’m never going to be all right again.” His voice broke on a sob.

“Hazza?” Louis felt his throat tighten and his eyes starting to prickle at Harry’s outburst. “I’m really scared. Please open the door. Please.”

“I’m scared too. I’m really scared, Lou.”

“Please open the door.”

The handle rattled and Louis pulled back from the door. It opened a crack and Harry’s face was looking back at him, Harry’s beautiful face with his big green eyes, brimming with tears.

Louis searched any visible part of Harry he could see for any signs of injury. When he found nothing, he pushed at the door, trying to open it further. Harry stopped it.

Louis shot him an incredulous look full of frustration and tension. “Haz,” he said, warning in his tone.

Harry took a deep breath, as if bracing himself, then stepped back away from the door, allowing Louis room to open it.

The door swung wide and Louis gaped in shock as Harry was fully revealed. “Shit, Harry. You’ve got wings.”

-o-

Louis sat on the bed with a bag of cotton wool and antiseptic. He had no idea where they’d come from, but was glad they had been in the medicine cabinet. After the initial shock of seeing Harry with wings and hearing Harry’s borderline-hysterical explanation of how they had just grown there, Louis’ mind had not stopped spinning. He had so many questions. First, however, he needed to take care of Harry, who was clearly on the verge of another meltdown.

He wrapped his arms around Harry’s middle and buried his face in his neck, holding him close. “I’m just so relieved you’re okay,” he whispered against his skin. “I was really scared.”

“I’m not okay,” Harry said, that hysterical edge returning once again. “Or did you not notice the fucking wings growing out of my back? Nothing about this is okay.”

Louis held tighter, aware of the soft brush of feathers against the backs of his arms. “Yeah, I know. I know, Haz. But, I mean, all the blood…” his voice hitched. Louis took a moment to get himself back under control, squeezing even tighter. It wouldn’t do to have them both of them about to lose it. “I thought you were really hurt. Like, really hurt. This is…” he was momentarily at a loss. “Well, whatever this is, we can deal with it. We’ll figure it out. All right?”

“How the fuck am I supposed to deal with wings, Lou?”

“I… I don’t know, but we will.” Coming to a quick decision, Louis said, “First things first. If you won’t let me call someone, at least let’s get you cleaned up so I can take a look at your back. That was… a lot of blood.” A tremor crept into his voice. “All right?”

“Yeah, all right,” Harry said, burying his face in Louis’ hair. “I’m glad you’re home.”

“Me too.”

Louis helped Harry into the shower, stripping down as well, so he could get into the enclosure with him. There had been some awkward maneuvering as Harry tried to fit his wings through the door, hissing in pain as he bumped one against the side.

“Shit, are you all right?” Louis asked.

“Fuck. That fucking hurt.”

Louis reached for Harry, then drew his hands back, nervous. “Should I… should I try to help… I don’t know… fold them up somehow?”

Harry grimaced as he brought the wings closer to his body. “I’ve got it,” he said. “I’m just not used to them. And they fucking hurt like hell every time I move.”

“I’m pretty sure I’ve still got some pain killers left over from the dentist that one time. I think they’re in the kitchen. I can go get them.”

“No.” Harry’s eyes took on that panicked edge again and he grabbed Louis’ arm.

“Yeah, okay,” Louis reassured. “Okay. I’m not going anywhere. Maybe later.”

When Harry nodded, Louis added, “Let’s get you in here.”

There was plenty of room as soon as they were both inside their large shower enclosure. Louis leaned over to turn on the water and once the temperature was adjusted, he reached for the shower lever then hesitated. “Can they get wet, do you think?”

“I dunno.”

“They’re feathers, right? And birds get their wings wet all the time, don’t they? I mean, they live outside. And it rains and stuff.” Louis’ brow furrowed. “And ducks swim, right?”

He looked up at Harry, hand still on the latch. When he saw the expression on Harry’s face, Louis’ lips quirked into a smile; seconds later they were both laughing.

“This is so fucked up,” Harry said, smiling, their laughter having relieved some of the previous tension.

Louis just shrugged in response and turned the shower on. “It is what it is,” he said.

When Louis finally got a look at Harry’s back, his previous good humour vanished. For a moment he thought he might be sick. Where the wings emerged near his shoulder blades, the skin was torn and ragged, blood still seeping from the wounds. It looked as if they had literally torn right through his skin.

“How does it look?” Harry asked.

“Not too bad,” Louis lied, taking a deep breath to psych himself up for what he needed to do. He took a flannel, held it under the spray, then started wiping the blood away from Harry’s left shoulder. At the first touch, however, Harry twisted away, crying out. Louis’ stomach dropped; he hated to be the cause of Harry’s pain. I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” he babbled. “God, Hazza, I’m so sorry.”

Louis closed his eyes, trying to keep his emotions under control. He had no idea what he was doing. “I really think we should c—”

“No,” Harry cut him off. “I can’t.” His voice was strained, eyes brimming with tears. Louis could tell he was barely holding it together. “Just you tonight, Lou. Please.”

Resigned, Louis knew he’d do exactly as Harry asked. “I think the flannel’s a bad idea,” he said. “I’m going to use the shower head to spray water directly on you, all right?” When Harry nodded, Louis detached the head and tested the pressure. He adjusted it to make the spray as gentle as possible. “I’ll try not to hurt you,” he said.

Harry flinched the moment the water touched his skin, but he stood silently as Louis worked on washing all the blood away. When the water finally ran clean, Louis let out another deep breath, feeling shaky. Then he helped Harry from the shower and made him stand still as he dried him off, trying to cause as little discomfort as possible, lightly running a towel over his entire body and last, over the wings folded down his back. When Harry’s entire body shuddered when the towel touched the feathers, Louis hurried to complete his task.

Looking at the soiled sheets and gauging Harry’s tenuous grasp on his emotions, Louis made another quick decision. “We’ll use the guest bedroom.”

Harry nodded in agreement and waited anxiously while Louis gathered medicinal supplies from the cabinet. Once they had moved down the hall, Louis had Harry sit on the edge of the bed, then he used the antiseptic on the jagged skin, doing his best to disinfect while being as gentle as possible. He covered the worst of the wounds with gauze and taped it into place, hoping he wasn’t damaging any feathers with the tape. When he was satisfied he’d done the best he could with his limited skill, Louis brought up the painkillers again. This time Harry agreed to let Louis fetch the medication from the kitchen. Returning quickly, Louis monitored Harry as he took the pills with a glass of water.

“You should rest,” Louis said. “Get some sleep.”

“You too,” Harry countered, studying Louis’ face.

A wave of exhaustion hit Louis at the suggestion and he nodded. “Yeah. We both should. We’ll figure out what to do next in the morning.” He leaned over to kiss Harry, mouth lingering softly against Harry’s lips. His hand reached up and he sunk his fingers into Harry’s curls, still damp from the shower. Giving Harry one more gentle kiss before pulling away, Louis said, “We’ll figure this out together.”

Harry nodded, hand reaching up to hold Louis wrist. He leaned in and rested his forehead against Louis’. “Thanks, Boo.”

“Get some sleep, Haz,” he said closing his eyes.

“Yeah. Hey, Lou?”

“Yeah?” he answered sleepily.

“Did you really compare me to a duck?”

Louis giggled and cracked his eyes open. “Sorry about that. Not a duck. More like a swan. A beautiful swan.”

Harry rolled his eyes. “Go to sleep, you fool.” Louis was gratified to see a small smile on Harry’s face.

He watched as Harry attempted to find a position comfortable enough to sleep in. He ended up on his side, wings folding behind him. Almost immediately, Harry’s eyes drifted closed; it was only moments before his breathing shifted into the rhythm of sleep.

Eyes roving over Harry, no longer distracted by the wounds he was attending, Louis took the chance to look his fill at the strange wings growing out of Harry’s back. The feathers were dark, almost black. The wings were large, curving up from his shoulders then draping down his back, reaching all the way to his thighs. Louis wondered what their span would be when fully extended. He imagined they would be impressively large. Eyelids growing heavy, Louis struggled to stay awake. He pushed aside all the questions he had—the whys, the hows, the impossibilities—to focus on one overriding thought: beautiful.

Harry’s wings were beautiful.

-o-

“Lou.” Someone was shaking his shoulder. “Lou, please wake up.”

Dragging himself from slumber, brain still sleep-fuzzed, Louis cracked his eyes open. When he was met with the sight of Harry, large green eyes brimming with tears, he instantly became more alert.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, blinking and rubbing sleep from his eyes.

“I hoped it was a dream,” Harry said before a tear slid slowly down his cheek. There was a movement behind his back, the rustling of feathers as his wings shifted.

Immediately, the events of the night before came rushing back to Louis. He shifted up onto one elbow, reaching over to wipe the tear from Harry’s face. “Hey, everything’s going to be okay.”

“You keep saying that, but I don’t see how. I’ve got fucking wings, Lou. Wings.”

“Yeah, I know,” Louis said with a smile.

“It’s not funny,” Harry said and his face crumpled with hurt, more tears escaping from his eyes.

“Hey, hey,” Louis said, reaching for Harry again, pulling him closer to tuck Harry’s head against his chest. “I’m not making fun of you. Shhh.” He ran his fingers through Harry’s curls, scratching his head in the way he knew Harry liked. “I just mean, well, they’re beautiful, Harry. Like everything else about you. Your wings are beautiful.” He followed his words with a kiss to the top of Harry’s head.

“I’m a freak.”

“You’re special.”

“First four nipples, now this.”

“One of a kind.”

“A kind of monster.”

“Hey now, no. No, no, no. An angel.”

Harry pulled away and looked up at Louis, face a mask of derision. “An angel? First a duck, then a swan, and now an angel? That’s what you’re going with?”

“Heavenly,” Louis said, face set in a serious expression.

Harry rolled his eyes. “Now I know you’re taking the piss.”

Not being able to stop himself, Louis’ face cracked into a grin. When Harry smiled in return, he felt victorious.

“They really are beautiful, Haz.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah,” Louis reassured, even though he could tell Harry didn’t believe him. “Look. We’ll… I don’t know… do some research. See if we can find any similar cases. If they just… grew, maybe there’s some way to… ungrow them.”

“Research where? Grimm’s Fairy Tales? Harry Potter?”

Now Louis rolled his eyes. “I don’t know. I’m just throwing ideas out there. Anyway, maybe there’s something out there. And if there’s not, and we can’t find a way for them to go away, well… don’t be angry, but there are worse things, right?”

“What about the band? Tour?”

“I don’t know. But we’ll figure out.”

Harry didn’t look convinced.

“We will. We’ll figure it out. Together.”

-o-