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Harry’s always been sentimental. He gets attached to things and won’t move on; people, shirts, houses, dishes. But everything else was nothing compared to how he got attached to Louis.

He doesn’t remember them meeting; as far back as he can remember, there was Louis. Bright blue eyes, skinny limbs, tanning in the summer so quickly Harry always felt it was somehow unfair. Louis was always up to something, and since he could walk, Harry was always his partner in crime. That’s all Harry could remember, and he expected it to continue that way.

His parents got divorced when he was seven, but that was okay; Louis’ real dad had been gone since Louis was four, and the older boy explained how everything would be okay. And then, a year later, Anne married Robin, and Louis explained how his mum had met Mark. No matter what happened, Louis had it under control.

Harry remembers asking if he did something wrong. That was all he could think when his parents told him they were moving. He was nine and Louis was eleven and they were still together on everything. Louis held his hand when they walked home from the bus stop to keep him safe. Louis taught him how to ride a bike and kick a ball and everything. So losing him felt like punishment. That was the only option he could think of, because how could his parents do this to him otherwise?

As usual, Louis had it under control. He told Harry not to worry every day. He insisted he had a plan, but the plan kept changing; Harry could live with him, or he could stay on his own, or he could live with someone else, or Louis could come with them, or…

Harry remembers crying when Louis told him he couldn’t stop this. He thought Louis could do everything. It hurt that he couldn’t do this.

The day he left, Harry wouldn’t let go of Louis. He tried to pull him in the car, thinking if they got the doors closed fast enough, if he convinced his mum to drive off quick enough, it might work. Louis let go, though. He wriggled out of Harry’s arms and kneeled on the car floor in front of him and nervously repeated “Hey” until Harry stopped crying to listen.

He gave him a ring. Louis explained the whole thing; he had a matching one, and the rings would help them find each other again when they were bigger. Harry often wonders if Louis believed that. He probably didn’t. But Harry did. He nodded solemnly when Louis said this made them permanent best mates, no takebacks.

He never forgot Louis. No matter what his friends were like, he never called any of them his best friend. That was taken. And no matter how many times he cleaned his room or his mum redecorated, he kept the ring safe. He hit a growth spurt around age 16 and suddenly it didn’t fit anymore, so he hung it on a chain and wore it sometimes. It made him feel warm inside, to remember fitting with someone so simply. Things were natural with Louis. He missed that.