“So,” the interviewer starts, “Let’s talk about Nick – I mean, if you’re ready for that, Harry.”
Harry nods, it’s been almost a year since the breakup, but he’s still a bit touchy about it. He thinks about what he could have done – what he should have done – when he’s lying in the bed they used to share, trying to shut his brain down enough for a good night’s sleep.
“What about him?” Harry asks wisely. He doesn’t want to start a ramble on live television about how much he misses Nick – he can’t and won’t allow himself to embarrass himself and Nick.
“Well,” she says, licking her lips, “You can start by telling us why you two broke up? If you’re okay with that. You two seemed so happy. Everyone is just curious.”
Harry blinks a bit, decides on the best answer to reply with – the appropriate answer, one that’s a bit of a stretch of the truth because he can’t let all his fans know about his cocaine addiction and the fact that Nick left him because he refused to stop; try to stop, at least.
“We hadn’t been happy together for a few months before the break up. He was having a hard time and I was making it worse so we decided to go our separate ways,” Harry replies.
The interviewer nods, obviously not happy with the answer, but goes on with the remainder of her questions. Harry doesn’t remember anything else in the interview.
“Haz,” Zayn pleads, “You’ve got to stop, man. Didn’t this cause you enough trouble in the first place?” He motions to the cocaine and Harry scrunches his nose.
“That’s the whole point, though, innit?” Harry asks, a lazy smile on his face, “I’ve got nothing left to loose. I’ve lost it all already.”
Zayn shakes his head, “No. you’ve got a hell lot more to lose, Harry, and if you can’t open your eyes and see that then I don’t know what can help you.”
Zayn goes to get up and leave, but before he can make it far, Harry reaches out and grabs his wrist.
“Please,” Harry begs, “Stay. Don’t leave me too.” He curls in on himself and Zayn looks down at him, sadly, shaking his head.
“Could never leave you, Haz,” he says, sitting back down on the sofa and pulling Harry close to him. “Could never leave you,” he repeats in a whisper and then Harry can’t hear much over the loud ringing noise in his ears and the tears pouring down his cheeks.
“I can’t do this anymore, Harry!” Nick yells, grabbing a duffel bag roughly from underneath the bed.
“So you’re just going to leave me? Just run away from our problems? That’s your problem, Nick. You’re always running. Always fucking running away from everything like it’s going to help you,” Harry yells back. He’s pissed – Nick is being so bloody selfish, leaving just because things are a bit difficult and different – but he’s sadder than anything, tears staining his cheeks.
Nick laughs, a long, evil pitched laugh, “You think I’m running, Harry? That I’m scared and I’m running? You need to learn the difference from running and leaving. If you run – you’re hiding. If you’re leaving – you don’t want to be found.”
“That makes no sense,” Harry spits.
“Might be all the cocaine clouding your brain,” Nick says and starts shoving his clothes in bags.
Harry bolts awake, sweating everywhere, tears going down his cheeks. He hasn’t dreamt of Nick in a bit over a month, and the thought of the nightmares coming back makes him break down, hiccupping from the sobs racking his body.
Once he’s controlled himself enough to where he isn’t a shaking, crying mess, he picks up his phone and calls Zayn. It seems like Zayn is the only one that talks to him anymore, Niall only talking to him when he has to see him at sound check or concerts – when they have any.
“Hello?” Zayn answers, his voice thick with sleep.
Harry sobs again, “I-I’m sorry for waking you u-up. It’s – I’m having them again, Z.”
“Do you remember what I told you last time it happened?” Zayn asks, yawning a bit at the end. Harry can tell that Zayn’s exhausted, but his voice is still steady and caring.
“Y-yeah,” Harry replies, trying to compose himself.
“Okay,” Zayn breathes, “Want you to breath with me, yeah? Deep breath in.”
“Deep breath out.”
His breathing is still a bit shaky after the third time they do it, but he’s not crying anymore. Harry scrubs a hand shakily down his face and sighs.
“’m sorry you’ve got to go through my bullshit, Zayn,” Harry says. He never wanted to drag anyone down with him – never wanted to be dragged down in the first place.
“Don’t start that shit with me, Haz. You know I’m always going to be here for you. You can never get rid of me. I’m permanently here, no matter whether you want me to be or not,” Zayn says persistently.
Harry cracks a smile, “You know I love you, yeah?”
“Love you too, Haz. Now try to get some sleep, yeah? And if you’re having any more nightmares or even bad thoughts, I’m a phone call away – or I could go to your house. Just remember that, okay?” Zayn tells him, breath evening out. Harry stays on the line until he knows for sure that Zayn is asleep.
Harry lies in bed for what seems like hours, staring at the ceiling and wondering why me?
Harry was sixteen when he’d first tried cocaine. He didn’t like it – didn’t like how it burned going up your nose or the effect it had on your body. He swore to himself since that day that he’d never do it again because it was absolutely horrid and disgusting.
Then he got famous at age seventeen. The first year was great – the money, fans, everything was amazing. Then word got out about him and Nick dating a month after his eighteenth birthday and everything started to spiral. The band lost a good bit of fans – not enough to potentially be worried about, but enough to notice that they were gone.
Harry turned out to be like every other famous person known: when the going gets rough, drunk or do drugs to make it better. But the drugs didn’t really actually make it better – it made it worse.
Harry lost a lot of people because of drugs. He’s lost his mum, his sister, Nick, fans, one of his best mates – Niall – and probably a lot more of people that he doesn’t really think of.
Harry looks at himself in the bathroom mirror, splashing a handful of cold water onto his face. He scrubs his hand down his face and says to himself, “Why can’t you just be like everyone wants you to be?”
“I think I need help, Zayn,” Harry says once Zayn picks up the phone.
“What have you gotten yourself into now, Harry?” Zayn’s voice rings into his ear, sounding tired and full of dread.
“Not that kind of help you dolt. I mean – I want to stop. I want to stop cocaine. How do I do it, Zayn? I need help,” Harry whines. He’s really thought this through – stopping with his addiction. Once upon a time a while ago, Harry had been motivated to quit with his addiction – but for all the wrong reasons. Back then, he was fresh off of his breakup and thought that if he’d quit, Nick would love him again and come back. But now Harry knows that that isn’t going to happen. He’s got to get better because he wants to, not because he wants Nick to want him again.
“Oh, Hazza,” Zayn breathes – Harry can tell he’s smiling, “that’s bloody brilliant. I’m sure that there’s a class you could take – a rehab or something. I am so proud of you, Harry.”
Harry takes a shaky breath, “Can you – can you come with me, maybe? I can’t do this alone, Zayn. I can’t.”
“Of course I will, Haz, you don’t have to do this alone. And you won’t. God, do you know how proud of you I am right now? I am so proud and so happy for you,” Zayn says.
Harry smiles, his first genuine smile in months, “Can you look around and find out where and when the next class is? I really want to do this, Zayn. I really need to do this.”
“Yeah, yeah, Haz. I’ll look around and I’ll find out, okay? I’ll let you know when I find out. God, I am so proud of you,” Zayn gushes.
“Thanks Zayn, I’ve got to go now, bye,” Harry says, hanging up. He shoves his face into his pillow. There’s no going back now.
Zayn tells him the next one is tomorrow at six. Harry has a whole day to mentally prepare himself. Is he sure he wants to do this?
No going back now.
When they get to the rehab facility, there is a group of chairs in the middle of the big room, in one big circle. There’s a table at the back with cookies and coffee and tea on it, with a stack on flyers in the corner.
There are a few people there already, already have taken their seats around the circle. Harry wants to crawl in on himself and die.
“Maybe we should go, Z. I wanna leave,” Harry says, begging.
Zayn shakes his head, “Come on, Haz. You said you wanted help. I’m going to help. Just give this first try a chance, okay? And if you don’t like it – we’ll figure something else out.”
“Okay,” Harry sighs. He looks for a spot where there aren’t any people at. Everyone’s spread out, pretty much, and the only spot that has a gap of two from someone is by a skinny bloke with the bluest eyes Harry has ever seen.
After a few minutes of people starring at Harry, Harry remembers he’s a celebrity and it must be odd to see him at a rehab center.
A man walks in and sits at the head of the circle and smiles, “Hello, everybody, I’m John. And today we’ve got a special guest. And I’ve been instructed to tell everyone that he would rather not if you’d go blab his story to any gossip magazines. So – let’s start. Who wants to introduce themselves first?”
The boy next to Harry raises his hand a smiles, frail, “Hi. I’m Louis Tomlinson and I’m only here for the free goodies.”
John laughs, “Be serious, Louis.”
Louis nods, “I’m Louis Tomlinson and I purge.”
John smiles, “It’s good to see you again, Louis. I see you’ve started again? I was almost positive you’d have stayed on top this time.”
“My parents divorced,” Louis says lowly. Harry can feel the pain in his few simple words and almost feels the need to reach out and grab his hand, hold him, make him feel better.
John frowns, “it gets better. I promise. Okay, who’s next?”
Harry doesn’t know why, but he raises his hand.
John smiles at him, “Since you’re new: all you’ve got to do is introduce yourself and tell us why you’re here.”
“Hi. I’m Harry Styles and I’m addicted to cocaine,” Harry says, taking a shaky breath towards the end of his sentence.
John nods, “When did your addiction start, Harry?”
Harry clears his throat, “Uh – when I. When I – um. When I started dating. When I.” Harry’s mouth goes dry, can’t quite get the phrase when I started dating Nick out of his mouth.
“He’d rather not say when or why,” Zayn cuts in, squeezing Harry’s hand. Harry breathes, not even noticing until that very moment that he was even holding his breath.
John nods, “Perfectly understandable. It’s good to have you here, Harry. Okay, who’s next?”
Someone else raises their hand, but Harry isn’t paying attention. His eye twitches when he sees in the corner of his eye that Louis is watching him intently.
Once it’s over and done with, Harry and Zayn go to the back for a cookie.
“That wasn’t so bad,” Harry admits, “I actually quite like it.”
“Yeah? See, I told you. You just needed to give it a chance,” Zayn says, smiling. He takes a bite of his cookie.
“Hi,” someone says from the side of him. Harry can tell from the voice who it is and turns with a smile.
“Hi,” Harry replies.
“Can I talk to you, maybe?” Louis asks, eyes twitching to look at Zayn for a split second, making it obvious that he meant alone.
“I’ll be waiting in the car, yeah? Take your time. Make friends and all that,” Zayn says, patting Harry’s shoulder and walking away.
“I just wanted to tell you that what you’re doing is a very, very brave thing, Harry Styles,” Louis says, smiling, and then he walks away, leaving Harry speechless and holding his half eaten cookie.
For the next few days, all Harry thinks about is when he’s going back to the rehab center again. He’s anxious about seeing Louis Tomlinson again, wants to know his story and help him. He has an itch under his skin to talk to the bloke again and hopes that when the time comes that he will be able to talk to him, he won’t chicken out.
He asks Zayn to go with him again on Friday. Zayn agrees, of course, but it wasn’t like Harry thought that he would have refused.
Harry dresses a bit nicer than he did last time in hopes of seeing Louis again.
But Louis isn’t there this time.
Louis doesn’t show up to the next three meetings, either. Harry wonders if he should be worried or not. It’s not like Louis has a responsibility and he has to go, so. But Harry can’t help but to think that something bad has happened.
When the following Friday comes and Louis still doesn’t show up, Harry starts to get concerned – he isn’t quite sure why, though, considering he doesn’t even know Louis Tomlinson.
“Can I ask you something, John?” Harry asks after the group session is over with and people start to file out.
John smiles, “Of course, Harry! Ask away.”
“I know it’s none of my business or anything… but, uh. Do you know why Louis Tomlinson hasn’t been coming to the center anymore? He hasn’t come in at least four weeks,” Harry asks, adding a bit of his knowledge into the question.
John frowns, “Do you know Louis, Harry?”
“Not really, sir. I’m just worried. He talked to me the first night I came here and now he’s not showing up. I know it’s strange, but do you by any chance know where he could be?”
“Louis is… well. He isn’t the type that comes every time there is a session until he’s better. He comes when he thinks he should or whenever he feels like it. But if you’re really worried that something may have happened to him, I could give you his number. It’s not in my place to give it to you, but I could still help out,” John replies, digging in his pocket for his phone. Harry waits patiently for him to recite Louis’s number to him so he can save it in his address book.
He thanks John, meeting Zayn in the car outside, and thinks about how much of a weight his phone feels in his pocket now.
Mid-day the next day, Harry texts the number that John gave him. He hopes that it’s actually Louis’s number and that he isn’t just trying to be nice and act like he gave him a real number when it’s actually a very fake one.
Hi, is this Louis Tomlinson? Xx
Harry keeps his phone in his hand while he goes to the fridge to get a bottle of water. Harry found two weeks ago that if he drinks just water, no soft drinks or coffee or tea, it helps him stay balanced. Water makes him feel like he’s infinite and that he doesn’t need cocaine. He dumped all his cocaine in the toilet after the second time he went to the group session at the rehab center and he hasn’t tried getting more of it ever since. Harry feels good about himself, feels that maybe he can actually stay clean this time.
Louis isn’t allowed to use his phone, dear. You can tell me who this is, though, and I’ll pass on the message to him. This is his mum, by the way. X
Harry scrunches his eyebrows together. Why could Louis not be able to use his phone? He looks to be somewhere around Harrys age (19) maybe even older, so why would his mum have his phone?
Why can’t he have his phone? Harry texts back. His curiosity is bigger than he is, apparently.
It helps with his therapy in the hospital. I can tell you where he’s staying if leaving a message to pass on isn’t your style.
Harry replies (yes, please) and she texts back the address of the hospital Louis is currently at and the room number. He isn’t really supposed to have visitors on days other than Tuesdays, so Harry decides he’ll wait until Tuesday to go and see what’s happened.
Harry’s so worried about Louis he gives his dealer a ring, buying a pound of cocaine and says fuck all.
When Tuesday comes around, Harrys nervous, but he won’t let being nervous hold him back from seeing if Louis is okay.
He goes to the hospital, saying who he’s here to see, and a nurse escorts him to Louis’s room. She knocks on the door and then opens it, smiling and saying, “You’ve got a visitor.”
Louis looks up from where he’s starring out of the window by his bed and smiles, “Hi, Harry. Well, this is unexpected.”
“I’ll leave you two alone,” the nurse says, giving a big smile to Harry before she leaves. Harry goes to close the door behind her, but Louis stops him.
“I can’t have the door closed when I’ve got visitors. They’re afraid I might get something from them and start again,” Louis says sadly.
“Start what?” Harry asks, sitting on the edge of Louis’s bed.
“Why are you here?” Louis asks, ignoring Harry’s question entirely. He has an eyebrow cocked upwards and a grin fighting its way out of the corner of his mouth.
Harry shrugs, “I’m not sure, exactly. I was worried something happened to you, and obviously something did, considering where you are.”
Louis laughs. “I tried to kill myself,” he says, shrugging as if it’s the most normal thing to bring up in the middle of a conversation.
“Why?” Harry asks. He doesn’t know this boy – not really, at least – and yet at the moment he wants to know all of Louis’s secrets, all of his past. He wants to know everything about this boy sitting in a t-shirt and looking so fragile.
Louis shrugs, “I don’t have much to live for, so why live? Why stay somewhere and be miserable, when you could go somewhere else and get away from it all?”
Harry licks his lips, “But you don’t know for sure that where you go once you die is better than here. It could be worse for all you know and once you’re dead – that’s it, Louis, you’re dead.”
Louis smiles, “Never really thought about it that way, Harry. Thanks.”
“For what?” Harry asks.
“Making me notice I haven’t really got it as bad as I like to think I do,” Louis replies, resting his head on his knees and looking out of the window.
At that moment Harry thinks I always want to see you smile.
“So, you’re trying to stop, I hear?” Niall asks when Harry comes into sound check. It’s the first thing Niall has said to him in months and it’s refreshing, if anything.
Harry nods, “Yeah. It’s been a bit hard, and I started again for a bit. But I’m trying; I’m trying really hard, Ni.”
Niall smiles, “I always knew you had it in you, Harry. You’re a good lad.”
“Can I ask you something?” Harry asks Niall after a few moments of silence.
“’Course, mate,” Niall replies, smiling. Niall hasn’t smiled in front of Harry in forever.
“Why did you leave me when I needed you most?” Harry asks. His voice breaks and is filled with anger, but all he feels inside is broken and sad; fragile.
“I didn’t leave you. You left me,” Niall says and for the first time, really, Harry opens his eyes to that.
Harry starts visiting Louis on Tuesdays. It’s his third time visiting Louis when Louis greets him with a big, wide smile and good news.
“They said they’re letting me out by Friday. They said I’m showing progress and they really think I’m getting better. Do you know what this means, Harry?” Louis says, full of excitement. Louis is like a big ball of excite, almost like a kitten with a ball of yarn.
“What?” Harry asks, smiling so hard he’s sure his dimples are showing.
“It means you won’t have to visit me in this terrible, stupid place anymore! I get to be free! You could take me for ice-cream sometime or something,” Louis says and it’s so cute. Harry imagines if Louis were a girl, he’d be tucking a loose strand of hair behind his ear nervously.
“Is that your way of asking me out on a date?” Harry asks.
Louis giggles, “We’re both better, Harry. It’s a celebration – of meeting someone new and overcoming something that’s been weighing us down for countless times. But, if it makes you feel better about yourself, it can be a date.”
Harry smiles. He’s a famous nineteen year old boy who’s overcoming an addiction that he thought would eat him alive one day and finding love for a second time and he’s never been happier.