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you know that i'll never leave your side

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the thing about harry is that once he has set his mind on something there's no changing his mind.

in other words: harry styles is an annoying little brat.

but annoying little brat or not, his puppy dog eyes are still irresistible and that's probably the reason he's sitting in the passenger seat of liam's car right now, bouncing up and down excitedly.

"i'm telling you harry, this is a bad idea." liam says for what must've been the millionth time.

and for the millionth time in a row, he's talking to deaf ears, because harry just sends him an excited smile. "it's going to be awesome, li, i just know it!"

and yet again liam tries to convince him 'no, harry, getting a cat and a dog is not a good idea it will most likely end in tears and wreckage' but halfway liam's speech they reach the animal shelter and harry's already bouncing out of the car before liam has even properly parked it.

liam sighs and gets out of the car too. he wishes he would've just ignored harry's calls this morning. after all, he could still be in bed right now. but no, instead he's following his bouncy best friend into the building that will surely lead to his death.

ok now liam's just exaggerating.

but it still won't end well.

--

harry ends up with a kitten named louis and a puppy named nick.

separately, they are adorable.

louis is a little grey kitten with white and black stripes and he paws at liam's shirt and liam can't even be mad about the holes the kitten makes in his shirt because after that it curls up on his lap and starts purring and it's really really adorable.

nick is a brown and white puggle and even though liam thinks he just looks sort of grumpy all the time, he's still really cute and he lets out these really cute barks whenever liam comes around that make him want to steal the little pup and keep him forever.

but together, together they are horrible.

liam knew this was a bad idea and it turns out he was right, because nick and louis can't seem to stand each other.

first there's this thing where nick really likes to interrupt louis' naps by barking really loudly right next to the kittens ear (but liam can't really blame him for it, i mean, the goddamn kitten sleeps all the time).

then there's the thing where louis takes most of his naps in nick's dog basket, forcing nick to sleep in louis' (much smaller) cat basket.

and then there's them awake, constantly chasing each other through harry's apartment, causing a wreckage wherever they go.

all and all, they are a disaster.

harry seems to think otherwise though.

"they're adorable together."

"harry, they ruined your couch pillows within a week, they refuse to be silent at night, effectively keeping you up and they will kill each other. probably pretty soon also."

but harry stubbornly shakes his head. "i'm telling you liam, i think they're in love."

liam sort of wants to scream at him that 'cats and dogs don't even know what love is' and 'if that is love i don't ever want a boyfriend' and 'jesus chirst harry just admit this was a bad idea' but then harry is sending him one of those adorable half smiles and liam is lost, really.

"you are mental."

harry just laughs.

--

the thing is, liam starts to see it, the whole 'they're in love' thing.

he guesses it's in the way nick and louis always fight, but never hurt each other (physically at least. liam has literally no idea about the mental state of the two idiots. he guesses it's pretty bad though).

or maybe he sees it that one time harry has to take nick for a walk and louis has to stay inside (normally louis always comes with, pads next to nick on the side walk and paws and the puppy's nose every now and then).

but this time he can't come because there's an awful lot of snow outside and harry is scared louis will accidentally burry his tiny self in the snow and freeze to death so instead he asks liam to 'cat-sit' him until harry's back.

and the entire time liam is there, louis seems to be almost... sulking.

it's like, first of all louis refuses to remove himself from nick's dog basket, lying there in a curled up little ball, which is not weird, except when liam goes to pick him up, louis lets out tiny whiny noises and starts to claw at liam's arms and when liam puts him down again louis immediately scampers back to the dog basket.

then harry comes home, earlier than normal, and when liam walks into the hallway to see if everything is all right, nick races past him, leash dragging behind him, making a bee line for the little kitten curled up in the corner.

the minute louis hears the dog paws on the wooden floor, one of his eyes crack open and when he spots nick he lets out an adorable little whiny mew.

nick licks louis' nose and louis paws at nick's nose and before liam knows it, they're chasing each other through the apartment again.

"i'm sorry i'm back so early, but nick was acting all weird and he refused to walk and at one point he started dragging me back to the apartment and i decided to just go with it, i think he might be scared of the snow or something." harry says, popping up behind liam.

liam turns to harry and shakes his head astonished. "no, you were right haz." he says as he gestures to the two chasing each other behind him. "they're in love."

louis chooses that moment to run into the side table and liam's glass of coke he placed there early spills all over the place and harry all but laughs at it all.

--

years go on, and louis grows out to be a proper cat (still hyperactive and annoying, and he's also still adorable and likely to get away with everything) and nick becomes an actual dog (harry claims he looks a bit like a grumpy hipster. liam definitely agrees with him).

liam and harry also grow older and at one point liam realizes he has been in love with harry all along ("took you long enough." harry mutters, before kissing him again.) so he moves in with harry ("not really a big change though, you've practically been living here forever now." "i have not!" "liam stop lying, your underwear has been in my underwear drawer for years now." "shut up.").

the thing is, things change, but at the same time they really don't.

for example, harry still has bad ideas and liam still does everything he says.

louis and nick still hate each other though they actually really don't.

the years pass and live goes on and liam feels like they're a proper family now.

he will come home and be greeted by an excited nick barking at the door and as he walks into the house he will bump into harry somewhere (most of the time it's the kitchen, harry cooking dinner for the two of them) kiss him, then look for louis (in nick's dog basket, always) pet him for a bit and then they will eat dinner.

afterwards harry will take nick and louis for a walk, sometimes joined by liam (when years pass it becomes more yes then no) and when that's done they will probably watch a movie, lazy kissing on the couch and then go to bed early to cuddle for a bit.

they're having their own little weird routine and liam loves it, loves the normality of it, loves how it makes him feel home and safe and he doesn't want it to change, ever.

and then something happens and liam can't believe he didn't think of that before, how he could've let this happen, how he never thought that this day would come even though he knew it, he knew it from the fucking goddamn start.

cats and dogs don't live forever.

it happens on a friday night. liam walks into the living room, falls down on the couch and turns on the tv.

minutes later, harry walks in with a bowl of popcorn and two cokes. "aaw, would you look at them. they're so cute." he gushes as he places the cokes on the table and manages to sit down next to liam without spilling the popcorn.

liam turns his head to see what he's looking at and, well.

nick is lying in his dog basket, which is weird, because ever since harry bought the thing, nick has never slept in it, once, always being forced to sleep on the floor since louis is always, always, sleeping in his dog basket (nick stopped fitting in louis' cat basket years ago, so that thing has ever since been laying in the corner, deserted).

the 'cute' thing harry was probably referring to was louis, who's sprawled all over nick, and it can possibly be because louis refuses to give up his spot in the basket, but looking at it a bit longer liam realizes it's most definitely something else.

it looks like louis is trying to protect nick.

"i don't know, haz, i got a bad feeling about this."

harry smiles fondly at him. "you always have a bad feeling about everything, li."

liam glances at the cat and the dog one last time, before turning back to the television.

"yeah, you're right."

(when they go to bed, liam makes sure to pet both animals a bit longer than usual, just to make sure.

he almost cries when he sees harry do the same.)

--

liam's gut feeling was right. for the first time in his life his gut feeling was right and he hates it, hates it. harry is supposed to be the one that's right, not him. liam should never ever be right again.

it starts in the morning, when he's awoken by harry shaking his shoulder and pressing kisses to his hair.

he frowns, because sure, it's nice, but it's not the way he's usually woken.

on normal days, actually on all days, he's awoken by nick scratching the door and making whiny noises and on most days he can hear louis softly mewing in the back.

but now it's harry shaking his shoulder and liam can't seem to shake the bad feeling pressing down on him as he slowly opens his eyes.

"i'm scared." harry says the moment he sees liam's eyes are open. "it's ten o' clock already, li, normally they're clawing at our door at around nine and i'm scared.

liam takes a deep breath and sits up. "maybe they just... overslept? i mean, it's weekend for them too, isn't it?" liam tries to joke. the already horrible joke completely falls away thanks to the waver in his voice.

harry gets this determined look on his face that liam normally loves and swings his legs over the side of the bed. "we have to check on them."

liam agrees, even though he's scared of what they might find.

the bedroom door opens and harry pads outside, closely followed by liam.

they find nick and louis where they left them the other night, sprawled over each other in the dog basket. they both lie completely still and harry grabs liam's hand. "are they both..?"

but then louis lifts his head and his eyes blink open and harry lets out a sob of relief. but then louis lets out a tiny winy noise and rests his head on top of nick's again, who's still lying completely still.

"oh no..." harry mutters as liam slowly edges closer to the two animals. he reaches over louis and presses his hand against nick's neck, checking for a pulse, a breath, anything really.

he finds nothing.

he stands up again and looks at harry with sad eyes. harry immediately understands and rushes forward, hugging liam tight, hiding his face in liam's neck.

liam feels harry's tears on his shoulder and louis circling round their feet and realizes he's crying too.

--

they hold a funeral.

nothing special, really. actually they just bury him in the backyard and that's it, but to liam it still feels like a proper funeral.

after all it's their last goodbye to the dog they all loved for so long.

louis is there too, sits next to harry and liam as they burry nick, watching with what liam thinks are actual sad eyes.

when they finally go inside again, louis makes a bee line for the dusty cat basket and resolutely curls up in it, completely ignoring nick's dog basket for the very first time in his life.

--

life goes on after that, but it's different.

for example, harry still takes louis for a walk. even though louis is a cat, and doesn't even need a walk, but harry still grabs his coat every evening and every morning, and every single time louis pads over to the door and follows him outside, only to come back with harry about twenty minutes later.

when liam comes home at the end of the day, harry's in the kitchen, like always, but louis is in the cat basket and there's no nick greeting him at the door.

and just when liam is getting used to this new routine, with just the three of them, life takes a bad turn again.

one night, louis pads into the room and lays down in nick's dog basket.

the next day, harry goes for his walk alone.