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I Should Have Bought You Flowers

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Same bed but it feels just a little bit bigger now.

The space next to Harry felt empty and cold. It made him shudder, it made him cry. He didn't want to be alone. The bed should be filled; filled with laughter and loud moans and maybe cuddles on Sunday morning. Those are the sounds of him and Louis. 

Their bed, just his bed now, should have Louis in it.

Our song's on the radio but it don't sound the same.

Harry used to tease Louis, pinch his side a little and smirk at him from the driver's seat when certain songs came on the radio. Louis was a fan of love songs, but he would never admit to it.

Harry would catch him humming along to an old Mariah Carey song. You'll Always Be My Baby, he thinks it's called. Louis would smile at him over the console; smirk at him like he was relaying those words back to Harry, that Harry would always be his.

He didn't pinch Louis so much then.

Now sad songs play on the radio. Maybe there are happy tunes, but Harry wouldn't know. Every song on the radio is a song that he used to or never would get to sing with Louis.

 

When our friends talk about you, all it does it tear me down.

Niall is the worst when it comes to bringing up Louis. Liam and Zayn will just sit across the couch from him and drink tea, their hands intertwined, talking nonsense to Harry, most likely because they've no clue what to say to him. But Niall slips up.

Harry will ask Niall how his day went, and Niall will get excited. There was a time when the smiles on Niall's face would have been an instant cheer-up for Harry. That would be all it took to crawl him out of the slumps. But Niall would reenact a particularly funny prank he and Louis pulled before he catches the glares from Liam and Zayn and stops in his tracks, explaining to Harry that it was 'not that funny'.

Harry waves them off, tells them he's okay, but when six months pass and they all realize that Louis and Harry won't be getting back together, they stop telling stories altogether. 

'Cause my heart breaks a little when I hear your name.

Louis was a tyrant when it came to dry-cleaning. He picked up and dropped off loads at a time, punching Harry in the shoulder when he told them they didn't have anyone to impress anymore. One Direction was over and they were free to live their lives with out the press constantly breathing down their neck.

"I'm not bumming it because you're too lazy to pick up my things from the cleaners, Haz."

Harry laughed into his morning coffee at the thought. 

He was at the cleaner's now, the old one he and Louis used to go to. Louis changed dry-cleaner's. 

He must not have wanted to see Harry that bad.

The older woman runner the counter, zooming back and forth, picking up tickets and handing out suits of clothes, smiled at him. He hadn't seen her in a while, over a year in fact. 

"Mr. Styles," she exclaimed. "I haven't seen you in a while, been on vacation in the States! How's Lou, hun?"

It killed Harry to tell her he didn't know.

Too young, too dumb to realize.

Harry's vain enough to say he's done some growing up since he was a teenager, doing four world tours in the span of four and a half years will do that to you. Being an international pop star will do that to you. 

But those things didn't age Harry, Louis did.

Harry had to learn how to be an adult to be with Louis. He had to learn how to prioritize, Louis over fame, which took him longer to get than anything else. He had to learn how to have adult emotions. He had to learn how to deal with adult emotions. 

Louis was a lover when he was loving, but a fighter when he was mad. Harry had to teach himself restraint when he and Louis got into an argument. He had to know when to take the high road, and deal with Louis' fragile emotions when he did the opposite. 

But no matter how much he'd grown and changed and evolved into a man that Louis could love, he was still that young, stupid, crazy in love boy who didn't know how to deal with things.

I should have bought you flowers. 

Louis hated Valentine's Day, or at least he said he did. He wanted Harry to show him every day how much he loved him, not just on the 14th of February. 

Louis would flat out refuse to go to anything on Valentine's Day, so Harry never planned anything. Louis was a grown man, if he wanted to do something, he could speak up.

He didn't notice Louis' face, green with envy when Liam and Zayn would gush over their night, Harry just thought they made him sick. He didn't notice Louis take Niall's candy and flowers he'd gotten for his girlfriend, Samantha, and hidr them in their room, 'as a prank'. He didn't notice the withdrawn looks the weeks after or the tears on the couch cushion when Louis just happened to fall asleep on the sofa in front of the telly. Every Valentine's Day. 

He wasn't looking, he thought things were okay.

And held your hand.

Louis was big on PDA, he wanted everyone to know Harry was his, even before they got rid of management. 

Harry was not. 

Harry knew who he belonged to; he knew Louis was his as well. He didn't need anyone in his business or printing a picture of what was supposed to be a private time between him and the love of his life. 

So Harry would occupy his hands with a phone or a guitar or a cup of coffee. 

He didn't want to hold Louis' hand so a photographer looking to make some quick cash, could trade a photo of a couple of has-beens in for a couple quid.

So he didn't. 

Should have gave you all my hours, when I had the chance.

Zayn and Harry loved singing, as did the other boys in the band, obviously, but Zayn and Harry loved it enough to continue. Just small gigs, never together, but individually. Harry would sometimes join Ed at some local bar and sing his heart out all night and then return home to Louis. 

Zayn took Liam wherever he went. They sang together and toured together, taking the UK by storm again. Liam knew he had a beautiful voice, but he wanted Zayn to have this by himself. Also, Liam had started working with his idol, Justin Timer-something, so he was busy with that. But they liked it; they were each other's support system, so it worked. 

Louis and Harry did not have the same luck. 

Louis hated for Harry to be singing again. He didn't want him in the public eye again because he was afraid that things would go back to how they used to be. Harry tried to calm his fears by takinghim with him, like Zayn did Liam, but Louis was miserable and he missed his mum and he just wanted to go home. 

So Harry stayed behind as well. 

But not for long. Sitting at home, even with Louis, made Harry bitter. 

How come Zayn got to live out his old dreams and be a solo act? How come Louis couldn't be like Liam and support Harry, instead of holding him back? Did Louis not trust Harry? 

The questions became too much, so he tried up again, only performing in a close enough distance where he could make it home at night. 

But nights became days and days became weeks and Harry didn't have as much time for Louis as he should have.

That's the way the dream works.

Now he was gone and Harry could do whatever he wanted, because Louis wasn't there to keep him stapled to the ground anymore. 

That's not what was supposed to happen.

Take you to every party, cause all you wanted to do was dance.

Harry loved to have a good time. He loved to dance and sing and do whatever he could as long as music was involved. Music spoke to Harry, wasted or not. He liked to have a good time, but his good times didn't line up with Louis' all the time.

Louis wanted to go out dancing just to get drunk. Harry didn't agree with that.

When they were younger and still a part of the biggest boy band in the world, Louis wanted to get wasted to drown his sorrows. He wanted to bury his heartache and pain that came from never being fully able to be with Harry while their every move was being scrutinized. 

Louis would dance at a club, no matter what the occasion, and if Harry wasn't there, he would dance with other men. 

It wasn't scandalous dancing, not in Louis' eyes. Louis never meant any harm, but that didn't mean other guys weren't raking their eyes over his body, trying to touch and grope as if everyone didn't know Louis was his. Because they didn't, then. 

But now, they should. 

When Harry first started going on the road again, long term, he would catch pictures in the paper, cheating scandals that involved him and Louis and some stranger. Harry trusted Louis and he knew it was all bullshit; nevertheless, he didn't appreciate being embarrassed every Sunday morning when the photos from the weekend made their way around news columns.

So he told Louis not to go. He told Louis that he was making Harry feel like a fool, and jeopordizing his career, because how could he focus on his trade when Louis was slutting it up in every gay bar in London?

Those had probably been their last words to each other before things stated to change, this time to Harry's notice.

My pride, my ego, my needs, and my selfish ways, caused a good strong man like you to walk out my life.

Harry knew he was wrong, he knew. He knew Louis was being himself and that Harry had no right to take that away from him. He knew where he messed up, but he didn't want to say he was sorry.

Back then, pride had never gotten in Harry's way. He'd do anything as long as it leads back to Louis. There was nothing more important then, and there really isn't now. 

Except there is. 

Harry is tired. He's tired of causing arguments and receiving the brunt of arguments and he's just sick of arguments in general. 

He was a star again. This was the second part of him living out his dreams. He deserved this. He needed this, just to say he could do it, that he did it. 

It was selfish, but it was done. 

Louis was gone and Harry was alone with an empty apartment and a dream he was starting to consider the value in.

Now I'll never, never get to clean up the mess I made.

Harry had waited for Louis to cement the break-up. He'd waited for the final blow to happen. 

Louis was like that. When he got a hold of you, he liked to drive the final nail into the coffin before he sat back satisfied. But not this time.

Harry found himself waiting for it, wanting it to happen, so he would know how to fix it. Because he knew how to dismantle that Louis, he knew how to fix it then, even if it was just for a little while. A little while wasn't enough time for Harry. 

But nothing would ever be enough.

So he did it himself, before Louis could do it. 

He figured Louis just hadn't found the time yet, or maybe he was still moping around, like Harry. Maybe he was thinking of a way to make Harry suffer, trying to come up with something new.

So Harry pulled the trigger first.

He packed up Louis stuff. He packed it up nice and tidy, nothing out of place or broken. He even labeled the boxes, so Louis wouldn't have to sort through everything like he did. 

He cried during the process. Everything in the apartment had a memory to go along with it. Every scarf and hoodie and breakfast mug. The couch where they made love for the first time in this apartment. Everything.

He packed it up, with Nick's help, despite Nick's protests. 

He rented a moving truck and had it delivered to Niall's, where he knew Louis was staying. 

It was a dick move, he was aware. But if he could provoke Louis, maybe Louis would come out and attack, make Harry feel like shit and feel bad enough to pick up the pieces. 

He didn't.

Harry got a phone call in the middle of the night, it was Louis ringtone, and it was bloody painful to hear. 

And he made a decision. 

He didn't want to be in pain. He wanted to be with Louis, but he couldn't deal with all the hurting. And he didn't want to hurt Louis anymore than he had to. 

So this would be his turn, his time to hammer the nail into the coffin of their long-time love affair.

He answered the phone and said: 

"The truck's due back by Tuesday. Don't fucking call here again, Louis."

He heard Louis let out a breath, thick and heady from crying he guessed.

"Haz, there's an engagement ring in here..."

He took a deep breath, ignoring the tears cruising down his cheeks.

He hardened his voice. "Guess I never got around to giving it to ya, Lou. See you around."

And it haunts me every time I close my eyes.

The next time Liam saw Harry, he punched him right in the face, just above his right cheek.

Harry lie there, and he took it. He knew it was coming. He was actually surprised it had taken so long. 

"You're a real jerk, you know. How could you do that to him, Harry?"

Harry had a chance to get up, only because Zayn had put himself between him and Liam. 

He scrubbed at the blood on his face, probably coming from his nose.

"He's the one that left, Li. Don't know what you expected me to do."

Liam lunged at him again, but Zayn held his grip and whispered something in his ear. Something private and intimate and so much like Harry and Louis used to do that he had to look away.

When he looked back up, it was to a door slamming and Zayn standing alone in his living room. 

He fled to the kitchen and came back, handing Harry a bag of ice wrapped in paper towels.

"Thanks, Zayn."

Zayn shook his head and took a washrag to Harry's face, gently wiping away and excess blood he could see.

"Don't thank me, mate. I'm still pretty mad at you, but I- I understand."

Harry laughed. "I'm sure you do, Zayn."

Zayn jabbed at his lip a little harder than necessary.

"Don't laugh, you arsehole. I do."

They stayed quiet until Zayn finished cleaning Harry up and took the bloody dishrag to the hamper behind the stairs and sat back on the couch.

They just looked at each other.

"When Liam was still with Danielle, I left him." Harry furrowed his brows, because that didn't make sense at all. Zayn must have seen the confusion, because he cleared it up. "When Modest! was making them date to cover us up? You remember?"

"You and Liam were together, then?"

Zayn nodded his head and drummed his fingers on his lap.

"Yeah, we were. And it sucked. I would look at them together and there were times when I thought he hated her. But there were times when I swore he loved her."

Harry grunted and twisted his face into a condoling smile for his best mate.

"One day when I saw him kiss her outside her door with no paparazzi around; no cameras, just them, I lost it. I threw everything my hands could find when he came to our room. I yelled and I screamed and I wouldn't let him touch me, the bastard."

"How is that similar to what I did, Zee?"

Zayn leveled him with a stare. It wasn't mean or rude or spiteful, just a stare.

"Because he walked out on me later that night and I went and told Danielle he'd cheated on her with me before the agreement."

Harry gasped. "She didn't know?"

"Nope," he said, with extra emphasis on the 'p', letting his lips pop. "And to this day she still won't talk to him."

"But you're together now, so it must not have mattered."

He sighed. "Harry, I took something from him. I took it because I was selfish and I wasn't willing to share him with the rest of the world. Even though I got him back at the end of the day."

"Still, how does that—"

"You took Louis's spirit away, Haz."

"I didn't—"

"You didn't mean to, buddy. But you did. You crushed him and he doesn't know how he's gonna go on, right now."

"Maybe I should—"

"But he will, Harry," he whispered, standing up and cutting Harry off. "He'll find it again, and it's gonna be without you. You may have knocked him down, but he won't stay down."

Harry stood up, outraged and offended that Zayn was judging him when he had just told him that he'd done something just as horrible.

"Don't judge me, Zayn. You fucked Liam over just like I did Lou."

Zayn pointed his finger at Harry, cruel now, no longer being nice.

"I did it because I wanted Liam without Danielle tagging along. You did it because you couldn't stand the thought of him doing well without you."

"That's not why I did it."

"Bullshit, Harry." He laughed, mean and with intent to hurt. "He wasn't calling and checking on you or moping around, begging for you back, so you wanted to shake him up. You wanted to be the one to break him."

He was right. 

"Zayn, tell him I'm—"

"Well, he said fuck you, Harry." Zayn shuffled his way to the front door, where Liam was waiting on the other side. "And I love you, mate, but you went too far this time."

"I'm sorry I broke him, Zee, I am."

"Don't worry about it, Haz, because someone who's not you is going to come along and fix him right up."

"Za—"

"And it'll be all your fault."

And when he closed his eyes that night, he couldn't help but think the words hurt more than his best friend's punch ever could.

Although it hurts, I'll be the first to say that I was wrong.

It was a year and a half before Harry set eyes on Louis again. 

He'd been on tour, his friends and troubles forgotten, but never Louis. Never.

He'd been home for a week, tops. He was due back in The States at the end of the month. 

So far he'd spent all his time at Radio 1 with Grimmy or sneaking lunches in with Zayn before Liam got out of his meetings with Justin Timber-what's-his-face's execs. 

Zayn laughed at him and told him Liam wasn't even mad anymore, hadn't been for a long time, but Harry's face wasn't taking another hit from Liam Payne's painfully accurate right hook.

He was shopping for some of the crisps he liked at some run-down market a block from Zayn's when he saw some couple macking and making fools of themselves in the small store. 

He was surveying packages when one of them bumped into him. 

"Sorry," the voice muttered. "I didn't see where I was—

The voice stopped and Harry looked up, fast and searching.

He knew that voice. 

That voice had tortured him with bad vocals in the car. The voice had shouted demands for Harry to turn off the kitchen water when he was in the tub. That voice had also shouted his name, in various positions and octaves.

That voice belonged to Louis. 

Who used to belong to Harry.

He couldn't speak; all he could do was look. Louis looked good, great in fact. 

His hair was a bit longer, but still spiked in every which way. His skin was darker, contrasting his white shirt with broad stripes. It's a new one, because Harry could recognize any piece of Louis' wardrobe, and that was new. As were the dark blue trousers that stopped short of his ankles.

It came to his attention that he was ogling Louis in front of company. 

"No," he said. "It's no big deal. I'm- I'm the one that's sorry, Lou."

All the memories came flashing back. The laughter, the crying, the love making, the pain and the pleasure. It hit Harry like a brick in the chest and it hurt.

He didn't prepare himself for this. He didn't work himself up to seeing Louis, because it was such a far off possibility. He didn't know how to tell him that he still loved him, that he would always love him, no matter what he'd said or done, that would always be true. 

"I'm sorry," he repeated.

That's all he knew how to say. That's the only think he could say, the only thing that he could let slip out of his mouth without hurting Lou. The only thing he could say without dragging him back down, into the place Harry was, were the memories haunted him.

Louis was quick to respond. He was always fast on his feet. Always.

"It's fine, Hazza." The nickname made both of them wince. "You were—" he choked on the words, and Harry just wanted to hug him, but he would wait for Louis to finish. He owed him that.

"You were trying to get something," he gestured to the bag of chips in Harry's hands, "and I got in your way."

"Lou," he breathed.

"I'm sorry, Harry." He looked down at his shoes, trying not to meet Harry's watery gaze. "I'm sorry I didn't let you get what you want."

They weren't talking about chips. They weren't talking about this situation at all. Louis was talking to him, apologizing to him when he did nothing wrong. He was swallowing his pride after 18 months, something Harry had never had the decency to do.

"I'm sorry I made you feel like that, Lou."

Louis didn't drag their conversation on any longer. The man, the one he was horsing around with, he grabbed Louis' hand and tugged him along. And seeing Louis with another man was enough to spur Harry into a flurry of movement. 

"Lou," he yelled, watching Louis turn around, ignoring the whining of the man next to him.

"Yes, Harry?"

"I'm sorry, for everything."

Louis smiled at him, small and sad and breaking Harry's heart. 

"So am I."

Oh, I know I'm probably much too late.

It'd taken him a few hours and a couple annoying text messages to Zayn to figure out Louis had a new boyfriend.

He'd figured as much, but he wanted to be sure. 

They'd been dating for five months, the entire duration of Harry's last stint in the road. 

Nick told him he'd seen them out before, but he didn't want to upset him, so he kept it to himself. 

Harry asked Liam point blank if Louis was happy.

He'd risked a trip over to his and Zayn's apartment and asked him when Zayn left for the studio.

"Yeah, Harry. He is."

Harry just nodded his head and took a swig of whatever drink Liam had put in front of him.

"Please don't fuck it up, pal."

He didn't intend to.

 

/////

It was time to go back to the States again. He was taking Grimmy with him this time, they called it his vacation. He was just happy to have friend along. 

He wrote a song. Grimmy said it was bloody depressing, but it was appropriate. 

He left a copy of it on Louis door step, before leaving London for the last time, for good. 

He was on stage now, somewhere in Texas, a small pub with lonely strangers and thick smoke. 

They would appreciate this.

 

"But I just want you to know 

I hope he buys you flowers

I hope he holds your hand

Gives you all his hours

When he has the chance

Takes you to every party

'Cause I remember how much you loved to dance

Do all the things I should have done

When I was your man" 


And when he sang the words for the first time on stage, out loud and in person, where people could hear, he let go.

He just let go.