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Runaway Land

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They’re running through the streets, shoes soaking wet from an earlier drizzle that held the power of a storm. Laughter’s echoing in between the buildings, the traffic humming somewhere in the far away distance.

The city is quiet at this hour, but at the same time so, so loud. Louis stops his running abruptly, making Niall thump right into him from behind.

"Oof!" Niall yells, "What are ya stopping for?"

Louis shakes him off, and stares up at the sky. He feels so small, standing in the middle of an empty road, in a dimly lit street he didn’t even know existed until now. London is mysterious like that. It’s late September, and the air is chill, making Louis’ hair stand up in the back of his neck. He can’t see the stars from the city, but the aftermath of the rain has left the sky a dark shade of orange, clouds silently going about. The sun will be up soon, and the silence will dissipate.

"It’s so loud," he whispers to his friend. "The silence." His ears are ringing, and not the kind you get when you have a headache or anxieties, but like a reverb of every noise he’s heard this night. The chattering outside the club, the bass booming through the bathroom walls, the drunken shouting from strangers he’ll never see again.

Niall snickers beside him. "D’you want me to whisper?"

It’s as if they’re the only people left on the planet, and they’re standing in a large, empty room, sounds from the outside muffled by the walls. Louis forgets what he was going to answer when Liam finally catches up with them, breathing heavily and leaning forward with his hands on his thighs. He’s giggling in between breaths, eyes crossing at the steam coming out of his gaping mouth. Louis didn’t realize it was that cold outside. Is it, really?

Liam straightens up. "Shit," he breathes. After another moment or two he looks up, giggling again, eyes glossy and wide. "Are we on a boat? Has London been a big boat all along?"

Louis frowns, lips turning up a bit at his flatmate’s non-sense ramble. "A boat, Li?"

Liam looks between Louis and Niall, betrayal evident on his face. "You knew, didn’t you? And you didn’t think to tell me?"

Niall’s cackling like a seagull beside Louis, bending over himself. And then he accidentally slaps his bad knee in the process. "Fuck, shit, fuck!"

"Let’s sit down, yeah?" Louis pulls him towards a bench on the other side of the street, tuning out Liam’s muttering about boats, and lies, and conspiracies.

"Wanna light up again?" Louis asks, already patting down his pockets for the cigarette pack, complete with pre-mades.

Niall nods, rubbing his hands in anticipation. Liam, on the other hand, spins Louis around in disbelief, whisper-shouting, "Here?!? Where everyone can see?!"

"Close your eyes, Li. No one can see you if you can’t see them, remember?" Louis points out while lighting up the spliff, taking a long, slow drag before passing it to Niall who’s still panting from the pain in his knee.

They are in fact alone in the street, but Liam’s paranoia gets worse with every little sound he hears. He’s pacing behind the bench, and after the sound of a window cracking open he finally wimps out and goes to stand on a street corner fifteen meters away.

"If you’re aiming for casual, it’s not working," Louis shouts.

"Shh!" Liam stresses frantically, eyes darting from window to window.

Louis is honestly surprised it took Liam this long before his trip went south. It isn’t his first time smoking, second to be exact. The first time he caught Louis rolling up by their kitchen counter, making the poor lad drop all his groceries on the floor, cracked eggs painting their floor in a nice, yellow colour. "Is that real marihuana?" he’d asked. He didn’t know Liam all that well, given he’d just moved in. Liam was looking for someone to share rent with, and Louis was there. And from the moment Louis unpacked his bags, he’s been making Liam’s life a living hell - or dream, depends on how you look at it, really.

"Your knee any better?" Louis asks, accepting the spliff when Niall passes it back. Niall groans in response, before sinking down in his seat, letting his head hang over the edge of the bench, eyes fixed on the invisible stars.

Louis takes a drag, his lips turning up when he gets that familiar pang in his head that he’s been craving this whole night. He’s floating.

Just as he is about to slump down next to Niall, a door bangs open and Louis shifts his gaze over to where Liam is now backing away from a crowd of people.

A crowd. They literally came out of nowhere.

"Where did…?" Louis mumbles, looking ahead with furrowed brows. There are at least twenty of them, all around his own age, neon paint covering up their bodies where their brightly coloured clothes does not. Somewhere in the middle of the crowd he makes eye contact with a greek god or… something. Apollo. Must be, by the way his entire being lights up. And green. Apollo has green eyes.

Louis blinks. And blinks again. God, his head feels like an air balloon.

"What’s in there, you think?" Niall is tugging at his jeans, temporarily bringing Louis out of his bubble. In there?

Louis squints his eyes, even though the crowd that’s slowly growing smaller is right in front of him. His gaze follows the sun god, whose attention is on the door being held open for him.

Louis blinks. Apollo looks at him again. Or is he looking past him? Louis turns, but sees no one behind him. When he turns back, the man is gone. The crowd is gone.

"Niall, was I…?" he breathes out, baffled. What sets Louis off the most though, is that the sky is now streaked with soft shades of pink. Sunrise. Now, he is not an expert on Greek mythology, but what he does know is that Apollo was here a minute ago, with a chariot disguised as neon people. "Did you put something stronger in these or-?"

"Where’s Liam?" Niall cuts off, jumping to his feet.

"What do you mean where’s Liam? He’s right…" There? Was a minute ago. Louis scans the pavements, but the only people here are Niall and himself. So the crowd is gone, the sun’s up, and Liam is gone.

"Liam is gone," Louis says.

"Do you think he followed those people inside?"

"So you saw them too?"

Niall takes the spliff from Louis’ hand, stubs it, and carefully puts the remains back in the cigarette pack sticking out of Louis’ pocket. "I think we should go in and check."

Louis looks towards the door by the corner where Liam stood just minutes ago. From the outside it doesn’t look anything out of the ordinary. Just a flat complex. But twenty people? In one flat? At sunrise? Good luck cleaning that up the morning after.

"Alright, c’mon," Louis says, already moving towards the building. With Niall one step behind him, he tries opening the door.

Of course it’s bloody locked. It’s London.

After pressing every name next to the buzzer, someone eventually opens the door for them, screaming at them for "forgetting their keys". Nice old lady, that Mrs. Hobbs.

The entry hall is small, smaller than Louis’ bedroom - which isn’t much. There are a few postboxes lining one wall, and a staircase that goes up and down by the opposite wall.

No lift.

"You go up, I go down," Louis says, taking a step forward.

"But my knee!" Niall complains.

"If you go down, you still have to go up, though," Louis points out.

Niall throws his hands up, sighing. "I’ll keep watch then, and see if I can reach Liam by phone."

Louis grumbles, but obliges anyway.

He takes the stairs up first. He has no intention knocking on every door to find Liam, because Liam is an adult and he should be fully able to take care of himself. His guess, however, is that he’ll hear music or clear chattering where the neon people went, anyway, so Liam should be just around the corner.

First floor, no music. Not on the second or third either. When he reaches the fourth - and final - floor, he gives up his search and goes down to find Niall again.

Except Niall isn’t there anymore.

What the fuck.

Louis rummages through his jeans pockets for his phone, and hits dial when he finds Niall in his contacts.

"Come on," Louis paces, biting his nails. He peeks out the front door window. Niall is nowhere to be seen. It goes to voicemail.

"Niall, where the fuck are you?" he spits into the phone, and hangs up.

He searches the small hall once more, and his eyes land on the stairs again.

Louis goes downstairs.

It’s only one floor down, and the only thing in sight when he reaches the cold, cement floor is a single, wooden door. It’s ajar.

Ajar means ‘come in’ in at least one language, right?

The door squeaks when he pushes it open, and Louis is so regretting taking that last hit, because all of a sudden it feels like he’s in the beginning of a really bad horror film. Like someone’s breathing down his neck, watching him.

"Hello…?" Louis whisper-shouts. "Niall, are you down here or-"

Louis stops. All he can see in front of him is darkness, but judging by the echo, his guess is that he’s standing in front of a long, empty hallway. And…Is that people he’s hearing?

He bravely puts one foot in front of the other, and after a minute in complete darkness he’s walked up to another door. Walked into another door, to be exact.

"Fuck," he mutters, rubbing his now sore nose.

"Code," a deep voice booms, and Louis jumps back, staring wide eyed at another pair of eyes peeking through a letterbox-sized hole in the door.

"…Ajar?" Louis tries.

With a bang the eyes are gone, the letterbox closed, and Louis is left alone in the dark again. Wrong codeword, then.

Louis knocks on the door.

Louis does not stop knocking on the door.

"Hey!" Louis shouts, banging harder. "I’m looking for someone? Little Irish guy, probably limping, and another guy, looks like a firefighter but is actually a-"

The door crashes open, and out comes two broad-shouldered men, dressed in black from top to toe, fists clenched at their sides, approaching Louis.

Definitely the beginning of a bad horror film, Louis notes. In one swift motion, Louis spins around and runs. Fuck Niall and Liam, honestly, this isn’t really worth it.

He makes it five feet before he’s grabbed harshly by the hood of his jacket, and pulled back.

"Wait, wait, I’m leaving, okay?" Louis dumbly raises his hands, like he’s being held at gunpoint, when the men grab one of Louis’ arms each. And the bloody fuckers squeeze.

"Ouch, be nice, will ya?" Louis squeaks out, and struggles against their grip to no avail. "I got lost, I swear to god." The two men aren’t answering, and marches Louis through the door he’s been knocking on.

Well, it’s one way in, he supposes.

The first thing he notices when they walk through the door is the smell. Lavender? It smells so good.

The next thing he notices, is of course, all the people. No one notices him, everyone caught up in conversation, and… Are those drinks luminescent?

It’s a mix of neon lights and scented candles, and fog and chattering for twenty seconds until Louis is pushed inside a small office of some sorts, and the door is locked behind him.

And he’s alone.

"Shit," he breathes, looking around. There’s a desk with a chair behind it in the center of the room, some bookshelves to his right, a couch to his left. No windows.

He didn’t see Niall and Liam. Didn’t really have the time, to be quite honest.

One thing he knows is that he was not supposed to know about this place, judging by the welcome he received. Is this an illegal club maybe? What was in those drinks? Is this a brothel?

Louis’ head spins, and he slumps down on the couch, and takes out his phone. One missed call from Niall. He calls back.

Niall picks up at the first ring. "Louis! I found Liam, he walked back to your place by himself, said he wasn’t feeling very well or something."

Louis closes his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose. "And you went there as well, I suppose?"

"Well, yeah, just got out the taxi. Where are you?"

"You couldn’t have called me, like, the second you decided to go back to my place?" Louis doesn’t try to keep the anger out of his voice.

"Sorry, mate, was talking to Liam over the phone the whole way over. He was freaking out, being paranoid about cops and stuff," Niall laughs, oblivious to Louis’ anger.

Louis stands up from the couch, pacing in the tiny room. What is he supposed to do now? Just wait for someone to come in and murder him? He’s gonna miss the final season of Game of Thrones because of this. "That’s just great, Niall."

"Are you on your way home, or..?" Niall asks after a beat.

Louis stops his pacing, sighing exaggeratedly and looks up. "I’m locked in a basement."

Niall is silent for a second, then breaks out laughing. Louis has to take the phone away from his ear until the other boy calms down.

"I’m being serious, Niall. I walked down the stairs, and found this… Illegal, underground nightclub or something, I don’t know, and these huge thugs just grabbed me and-"

"Stop taking the piss, mate. Liam is being difficult and refuses to sleep alone, and I for one, am not sharing a bed with him again after last time."

"You’ve shared a bed with Liam?" Louis asks interested before stopping himself, focusing. "No, Niall, I’m not taking a bloody piss! Come and get me! I can’t call the cops, because I’ve got the stash on me and I’m not throwing it away!"

The moment Niall starts responding the door opens, and Louis quickly hides the phone behind his back, backing away from the three men entering; the two scary men, and… Apollo.

Apollo does not look happy.

"Take his phone," Apollo says, and three second later Thug #1 is crushing Louis’ brand new iPhone under his boot.

"Oh, for fucks sake," Louis mutters. "I spent all my savings on that."

"Don’t care," Apollo says calmly, boring his gaze into Louis. Thug #2 grabs Louis by his arm and pushes him over to the couch. Louis sits. Louis is scared.

"I saw you outside," Apollo says.

Louis blinks. "Yes…?"

"Who are you?" The edge in his voice is making Louis shiver. He didn’t take Apollo for a bad guy at all. Especially not with those angel-like curls, doll-like lips, and a flower-printed shirt revealing his… everything. Louis may or may not stare a moment too long at the exposed skin, before looking back up at the man again.

"No one special," Louis answers innocently.

"What. Is. Your. Name." Apollo asks, voice still scarily calm. Louis has goosebumps.

"Louis," he squeaks, then coughs. "Tomlinson. Or Tommo, if you prefer nicknames."

Apollo doesn’t look particularly amused by Louis’ attempt at cutting the tension. "What are you doing here? How did you find us?"

Louis frowns. Maybe it’s one of those cults, and Apollo here is their leader. He shouldn’t have given him his full name, what an idiotic thing to do. What if they go around the city at night, beating random people up like in Clockwork Orange, and comes here to celebrate their success in the morning? Kind of like the milk bar. Maybe it was luminescent milk they were drinking out there? Louis nods to himself.

"Answer me!" Apollo yells, making Louis jump.

"I was looking for my friends! I didn’t even know this place existed until now!" Louis desperately exclaims, waving his arms around. He’s still baked, so his movements probably feels a lot calmer than they look.

"So your friends are here as well?" Apollo raises a brow, leaning over to whisper something to Thug #2.

"No, no. See, I thought they were here. But obviously they weren’t, so this has all been a big misunderstanding."

Apollo turns back to him, considering.

Louis gets to his feet, clasping his hands together. "This has been fun and all, but I have a thing, so-"

"Sit the fuck down!" Thug #1 yells. Louis has never sat down faster in his entire life.

"Stay here," Apollo points at Louis, and gestures for Thug #1 and #2 to follow him.

"Wait," Louis interrupts, making all three turn to him. "What is happening now? Can’t I just go home? You’re not gonna… kill me, are you?"

Before anyone can answer him, the door opens, and in comes a woman with short blonde hair, and red painted lips.

"Harry, Zayn's outside the door, demanding to speak to you. Should I throw him out?"

Apollo- no, Harry, turns to the girl, sighing. "Thanks, Gems. Just keep the door locked. He gets bored easily so he’ll leave by himself eventually. I’ll deal with him some other day. Until then," Harry turns back to Louis, who is still sitting on the couch, wide eyes, trying to understand at least part of what’s going on.

The girl sees Louis for the first time, raising her brow. "Who do we have here? A visitor?"

Louis gives her a small wave. "Hi," he croaks.

"Is he…?" The blonde girl, Jen or Gem, turns to Harry.

"Not sure," Harry responds, keeping his eyes on an even more confused Louis.

"Well," she says. "Good luck!"

And just as fast as she showed up, she disappears.

"Am I what?" Louis asks.

The three men are whispering to each other, ignoring Louis.

"Oi! I’m talking to you!" Louis hisses, earning a death glare from Thug #1. "Am I what?"

Harry and the two thugs leaves the room without giving him an answer, unless once again locking the door counts as an answer, that is.

"Fucking unbelievable," Louis mutters.

With a sigh, Louis leans further into the couch. Might as well get comfortable. He stares at his phone laying in pieces on the floor. He’d just gotten to level 127 on Candy Crush.

"Shit," Louis tells himself. "This is shit."

Maybe Niall will come back for him. He probably would eventually, but Louis reckons that won’t happen until after Niall’s had a good nights sleep, a shower and played five rounds of FIFA. But the probability of Niall getting in here, and getting out with Louis, is slight, all things considered. So maybe… somewhere between nine hours and never?

In the meantime, Louis dozes off.  

 

 

 

When Louis wakes up, he’s still alone in the office. He goes to try the door handle, but of course it’s still locked.

He’s bored already.

Then he remembers; the little cigarette pack in his back pocket. Louis goes to sit back on the couch, lighter and cigarette pack in hands.

There are two spliffs left, tucked inconspicuously between a dozen regular cigarettes. He lights up, and takes a drag, tapping his fingers on his knee.

He’s still bored. Smoking alone with no TV, no food, nothing, is a waste of weed. He goes over to the bookshelf and skims over the titles with his pinky, blowing the smoke away from the books.

Louis pouts. From what he gets from the titles, these are all history books. A professors study on ancient Greece, The Heroes of the Greek  Greek, Greek, Greek… What’s Harry’s thing with the Greek? He probably is Apollo, and Louis wouldn’t be surprised. Louis’ finger stops at Odyssey. That’s fiction, right?

He takes the book with him over to the couch, and opens the first page.

It’s a heavy read, Louis can tell from the first paragraph. He slams the book closed, and practices blowing smoke rings instead. He tried reading old literature once, back in uni, before he dropped out. He had to, considering he was studying English literature. He didn’t drop out because it was boring, per se, but because he couldn’t see a future with the degree after graduating. He could be a teacher, sure, but it all seemed like a waste to him. Why go to school and have your motivation burn out before you even begin your life?

So instead he started cleaning tables and taking orders at various bars, a new one every night. He never actually applied for a job at a bar, because he honestly can’t see the point. He still gets the tips, and if someone discovers they suddenly have a new waiter that’s stealing all their tip, he disappears before they can call the cops, and finds himself a new bar to work at. And it is pretty damn exciting. Some may call it cheating (Liam), or illegal (Liam), but Louis calls it the best fucking plan.

It’s probably not a plan that’ll last forever, but it works for now. Rent is low, Liam buys Louis food and does most of the cooking, so he gets by pretty well. Top that off with the 100 quid his father sends him every month, and he’s basically living the dream. As long as his father doesn’t find out he dropped out, of course, then he’ll probably have to find himself a… real job.

Louis is feeling light headed, and stumps the remains of the spliff on the floor. Fuck Harry’s floor, to be honest.

He goes over to the door, once again trying the door handle even though he knows it’s locked.

"Hello?" Louis yells, banging on the door, getting deja-vu from this morning. The difference is that now he wants to get out. "You can’t keep me in here forever, you know? I have to piss."

To Louis’ excitement - or dread, he’s not sure - there’s rustling of keys outside, and the door opens.

Harry steps in, alone this time, and closes the door behind himself. Louis crosses his arms, raising an eyebrow. "Can I go home now?"

Harry sniffs. "Did you smoke weed in here?"

"Yes," Louis says. "Gonna call the cops?"

Harry gives a short, humorless laugh, and walks towards Louis, making Louis take a step back. And another one. Step, step, step, and with a grunt, Louis’ back is hitting the bookshelves. He can feel Harry’s breath hitting his face - he’s that close.

"What do you know?" Harry asks, voice low, not taking his eyes away from Louis’.

"What do you mean? I don’t know anything! If I’m being quite honest, Harry, I’m just really fucking confused," Louis answers, indeed, confused.

"You know my name," Harry points out, tilting his head.

"That’s because someone called you by your name this morning!" Louis says bewildered. "I’m not stupid!"

"Stupid enough to come here," Harry bites back.

"Well, I’m intrigued," Louis crosses his arms over his chest, accidentally - or not - brushing Harry’s chest in the process. "Tell me then, what’s so special about this place since I’m already stuck here."

It should be uncomfortable being this close to the person that might want to kill you, but Louis is feeling brave. Also, is that vanilla he smells?

"You will leave now, and I don’t want you coming back here ever again," Harry says slowly, like he’s talking to a child.

"And if I do?" Louis challenges.

"The guards will show you out now," Harry dismisses, and then he turns around, and leaves Louis alone. Louis huffs.

"The guards," he mocks quietly, rolling his eyes.

 

 

 

 

When Louis finally steps into his and Liam’s flat he firstly, and most importantly, goes straight to the bathroom to take a piss. Then he goes out to the living room, and flings himself down on the couch, face first.

On his way out of the office, he could take in his surroundings more clearly than on his way in. There were less people, and the smoke from the joss sticks or whatever the source was, had vanished. It was a big room though, couches and tables and chairs spread out, taking up most of the space. There was also more doors, dozens, lined up side by side down a narrow hallway across the office. Other than that, it wasn’t much else. A couple of the neon people were dozing off on the couches, soft music playing from a speaker. Louis would describe the state of the room as a successful night out, and nothing more.

Louis is now dozing off himself, though after another ten minutes of laying down, the front door opens.

"Louis, you home?" he hears Liam call.

Louis grunts as loudly as he can into the cushions in response.

"Alright mate?" Niall calls next. Louis grunts again. "We brought pizza!"

At that, Louis sits up. He hadn’t noticed how hungry he was, what with the whole being locked in an office thing. The smell of ham and bacon makes his stomach growl.  Liam sits down in his chair (yes, Liam has his own leather armchair) opposite the couch, placing the box of pizza on the coffee table. Niall plops down next to Louis.

"Where’ve you been? Did you crash at someone else’s?" Niall asks, taking a slice of pizza.

"You could say that," Louis says, grabbing a slice for himself. "If you count being locked in a basement the whole day as crashing."

Liam’s eyes go wide. "You what?"

"I thought you were joking?" Niall says.

"Nope," Louis says, popping the "p". If Niall had been paying attention over the phone, he would’ve heard the sound of a giants massive foot stomping down on their conversation, but of course that didn’t strike Niall as odd. Louis’ pretty sure that if he was being beaten instead, Niall would be roaring and laughing on the other end, asking Louis to teach him how he makes noises like that.

"You were kidnapped?" Liam asks, holding his pizza slice midair, frozen. Liam is not like Niall, quite the opposite, really. He worries, he stresses, but he alway cares. Not that Niall doesn’t care, because he does. But with Liam… Let’s just say that when someone has a problem, Liam is usually the one that has more trouble dealing with said problem, than the actual sufferer.

"No, more like, detained, I don’t know. I wasn’t supposed to be there, I guess." Louis shrugs. He’s too tired to be mad at his friends for not taking him seriously earlier. His back hurts from sleeping on that bloody couch.

"Did they hurt you?" Liam asks, setting his pizza down on the table.

"No."

"Did they threaten you?"

"No. Yes. I don’t know!" Louis says, irritated. "I’m home now, it’s fine."

Liam looks down, picks up his pizza again and starts eating slowly. It’s silent for one, blissful moment.

"What was down there? Who were they?" Niall asks.

Louis rubs his temple, feeling a headache coming. "I don’t know. Don’t care much, either."

Though that would be a lie. He did mean what he said to Harry. He was intrigued. What could be so secret down there? And if it’s all so secret, why did they let him go? Just like that? For all they know, Louis could be walking around telling people that there is a secret, underground nightclub in London filled with beautiful people and illegal, luminescent milk.

Pling.

"That must be the fish fingers," Niall says, before getting up and disappearing into the kitchen.

"Fish fingers…?" Louis falters, and looks to Liam for answers.

"New recipe," Liam shrugs.

Niall comes back, a tray of slightly burned fish fingers in hand, and waggles his eyebrows. "Everything so far has tasted good on pizza, so today…"

"No, Niall, c’mon," Louis scrunches his nose.

"You didn’t hesitate to eat fish fingers and custard after that Doctor Who episode, so what’s wrong with this?" Niall asks, curling a slice of pizza around a fish finger.

Liam and Louis exchange a look. Liam flinches slightly at the crunching sound when Niall bites into his meal.

"Mmm!" Niall exclaims around a mouthful. He swallows audibly, and lifts his newest discovery of a dish into the air triumphantly. "I give you: Pizza fingers, by Niall Horan!"

 

 

 

It’s Sunday evening, and Louis is lying on top of his bed, staring at his rusty light bulb. It’s swaying back and fourth to the rhythm of padding feet in the flat above. It’s been one day, and his brain just won’t shut up about that nightclub, about milk, about vanilla. He keeps replaying what that blonde girl asked, "Is he…?"

Louis isn’t one to leave his questions unanswered. However, he isn’t an idiot, either, and going back there is probably just him asking for trouble. He could stake out the place, though. Like he does with his bars, only from a far away distance.

His guess is that the neon people will return to the club at sunrise, like they did the day before. At least that’s his best shot, given he can’t go up and knock on their door again. Sunrise is seven hours from now, though, and Louis is restless.

He gets out of bed, and reaches into his nightstand drawer, pulling out his work diary, and starts flipping through the pages. It contains a list of at least one hundred and thirty pubs, clubs, and bars in London, all complete with details of opening hours, work clothes, addresses, and escape routes in case he gets caught being an impostor. He’s also written down the amount of tip he’s made for each of the bars he’s been working at, for future reference in case he miraculously runs out of places to work (although there are over 3900 registered pubs and clubs in London, and 3000 more if he counts the ones that doesn’t have a Facebook page. He thinks he’s safe).

Next on his list is a bar called The Sea Hawk, and it’s twenty minutes away, walking distance. Louis puts on a black v-neck shirt, black skinny jeans, and picks out a black waiter’s apron out of his apron collection. They don’t wear badges at The Sea Hawk, and Louis is grateful. His self-made pins has cut into his nipple one too many times already.

Louis reckons working at The Sea Hawk will be an easy night, given it’s a two-stories high student-bar. If he’s in danger of getting exposed, he’ll just dispose of his apron, and blend easily in with the crowd while taking off. It would be like looking for a corn of sugar in a sea of salt. 

 

 

 

 

"Diana!" Louis greets, walking behind the bar and clasping his hands together.

The bartender stops what she’s doing, staring Louis down. "It’s Eileen. Do I know you?"

Louis slaps himself on his forehead. "Eileen! That’s what it was, I’m so sorry. It’s my first week here, and I’m terrible with names."

Eileen frowns, putting a hand on her hip. "I didn’t know we had a new waiter. What’s your name?"

"William," Louis answers, shaking her hand. "You’re not the first one that’s underwhelmingly surprised to see me. I kinda feel like I’m one of those shitty birthday presents now. Like... socks," Louis pouts.

"No, no, of course not! I just didn’t know we needed new people…?"

"Oh, you didn’t hear?" Louis pretends to sound apologetic, pressing his lips together and looking around himself, as if someone were to eavesdrop. "The boss didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, wanted to keep a low profile… Ah, I’m not sure if I should say anything."

Eileen’s eyes widen. "No, go on! What happened?"

Dramatic pause. "You know that tall guy that did the tables? With the bad posture?"

"Marcus?" Eileen supplies, biting her nails. There’s always a tall guy with bad posture.

"Yeah, him. Let’s just say if you ever mention him during lunch break ever again, someone will lose their appetite," Louis puts a hand on Eileen’s shoulder for good measure.

Eileen is silent for a moment, then; "Oh god! I knew it! I think I’ve known it this whole time, I was just afraid I would be the one getting fired if I said something!"

Louis has no idea what she’s talking about, but he’ll take it. He sighs dramatically, and shakes his head. "Absolutely horrible," Louis says.

Eileen nods, then hands Louis a notebook and a pen. "We should probably just… keep going."

Louis nods. "Don’t wanna upset the guests."

"Right," she says. Then after a beat: "Thank you, William. For telling me, I mean. I know you could get into a lot of trouble for even mentioning it."

Louis looks her straight into the eyes. "You deserve to know."

In another life, Louis would be an award winning actor.

 

 

 

 

"That’ll be 74,85" Louis says, putting the bill on the table and starts gathering the empty glasses while the small group of students around the table are arguing about whether they’ll split the bill, or if their new friend Jonathan should pay for them. Poor Jonathan. The amount of cruel people Louis meets while working is more than most would think.

"Everyone has to pay the first time out, Jonathan…"

"It’s just that, ah, I’m saving up for this concert…"

"It’s like a blood ritual…"

Jonathan is a short guy, probably in his early twenty’s, with a neat quiff and an expensive tie. Louis gives him a small smile. Jonathan adjusts his glasses, and bashfully smiles back.

"Alright," Jonathan says, taking a few bills out of his pocket and leaving it on the table. A girl to his right kisses him on his cheek and jumps out of her chair, and the group leaves. Jonathan lingers.

"You’re not going with your friends?" Louis asks, gathering up the money.

"I am, it’s just…" Jonathan looks up at Louis, then down at his hands, before pulling out a pen and scribbling something down on a napkin, sending it Louis’ way, before he hurriedly gets out of his chair and leaves.

It’s the fourth number Louis’ received this week.

The tip was generous, though. Louis stuffs it in his back pocket, and takes off with his tray over to the bar.

On second thought, he sets the tray down on a table nearby the minute he sees Eileen arguing with a tall guy with a bad posture behind the bar. That’ll be Marcus, then.

Louis quickly takes off his apron and rolls it into a ball, stuffing it under his arm before heading to the exit, zig-zagging between tipsy students, keeping his head down.

He chances a glance behind his shoulder before slipping through the door, and of course - of course that’s the moment Eileen makes eye contact with him. She is not happy.

Louis runs.

 

 

 

 

Louis’ made about 280 quid this night. Not bad. And about 30 % of it comes from Jonathan. He feels a bit bad, because he took the money that was supposed to go in the cash register from that last table. Oh well, it’s not Louis’ fault that Marcus decided to come to work today.

It’s chilly outside, and Louis has been chain smoking (regular cigarettes, mind you) for forty minutes, staring at the door to the underground club. He found a bench a fair distance away, neatly placed behind a tree.

The sun will be up any minute now.

This is stupid, Louis is stupid. But he needs some answers, dammit. And he kinda wants to see Harry again. From over here, of course. Just to, you know, look. Nothing wrong with looking.

"Can I bum one?"

Louis startles, jumping a feet into the air and turns to see a beautiful, raven haired man sitting next to him. What’s with this place and super models, honestly?

"Where the fuck did you come from?" Is all Louis answers, dumbly rising his cigarette pack to the stranger who accepts one, smiling.

"Sorry, I thought you saw me," he answers, taking the lighter Louis has been holding in a harsh grip, and lights his cigarette.

"I didn’t," Louis mumbles, still staring at the man. He looks like he’s in his mid twenties, somehow making stubble look like porcelain. Louis wants to touch his face.

The man doesn’t say anything else, just smokes, keeping his gaze on… Louis turns. He’s keeping watch of the door as well.

Louis raises a brow. "Waiting on someone?"

"Are you?" The man asks, blowing out smoke.

Louis is about to answer, but when he notices the man sitting up straighter, more alert, Louis shifts his gaze back to the door.

"Here they come," the man says.

It’s what Louis expected, really. The same people, neon paint, laughter, chatter, heading inside the building. Harry is with them, but he is not laughing like the rest. His head turns in Louis’ direction, and Louis thinks, or prays, he is quick enough to hide his face behind the tree trunk in time.

"He saw you, you know," the man next to Louis says, chuckling. "You know him?"

"No," Louis whispers. "Do you?"

"I did," he responds, and stumps his cigarette. He gets up, and walks towards the door.

"Where’re you going?" Louis hisses.

The man doesn’t answer, but keeps going. Louis bravely peeks out from behind the tree. It looks like the raven haired man and Harry are discussing something. Maybe? Louis’ not sure. Harry keeps looking in Louis’ direction, poking the other man in the chest.  Eventually Harry goes back inside, leaving the other man outside. He stands there for a while, and in the meantime, the sun is rising. Of course.

After a while, the man turns and comes back to where Louis has been sitting frozen this whole time, staring at the beams of sunlight breaking through the clouds.

"You must stay away from this place," he tells Louis.

"Excuse me?" Louis whips his head around, bewildered. "Who the fuck are you anyway, thinking you can decide where I can and cannot be? This is a public bench!"

"Let me rephrase then," the man says, putting his hands in his pockets. "I advise you to stay away from this place."

Louis splutters, stutters, trying to come up with a comeback, and decides to throw his apron at the other mans feet instead. The man raises an unimpressed eyebrow before turning away from Louis. The wind picks up, and the apron flies back into Louis’ chest.

Who the fuck is this guy? Coming here and thinking he owns the place, when he clearly does not since Harry wouldn’t even let him past the doorstep.

Or… Wait.

"Are you Zayn?" Louis shouts after the man, and the man freezes, turning back around.

"How do you know my name?" he asks coolly.

Louis sits up straighter. "Heard Harry talking about how desperate you were to come inside the other day. I don’t think he likes you too much."

"So you do know Harry, then," Zayn decides, crossing his arms.

"Just because I met him once against my own will, does not mean I know him," Louis grumbles.

"Against your own will?" Zayn asks. Louis shrugs. "So you have no idea who he is?"

Louis perks up at that. "Should I?"

Zayn steps closer to where Louis is sitting, carefully, as if not to scare him off. "You’ve been down there?"

Louis shrugs again, then nods. "Nothing special about the place if I’m being quite honest with you. Looks like a failed sitcom from the 90’s."

Zayn doesn’t answer, but Louis can see the wheels turning in his head. Louis’ head hurts, why can’t people just be straightforward for once.

"Are you a cop or something?" Louis nervously asks.

Zayn shakes his head, staring at Louis.

"You definitely shouldn’t come here again," Zayn finally decides, and then he’s off, leaving Louis confused, yet again.

Chapter Text

Louis enters his flat at 7am, just in time to catch his favorite reality show, that is Liam Payne in the Morning. The reason why they went out on Friday was to calm his nerves, because today is a big day for him. Fourth-grade school assistant Liam James Payne is stepping in for the actual teacher today, as she had a doctor’s appointment.

"I am actually shitting my pants right now," is the first thing Liam tells Louis once the latter’ through the door, with a towel wrapped around his hips, and his hands covered in what appears to be hair wax.

"Good morning to you, too," Louis greets, taking off his shoes. Liam has a strict no-shoes policy.

"I can’t open the bloody bathroom door, because my hands are covered in goo," Liam stresses frantically, stepping closer to Louis and practically shoves his hands in his face.

Louis raises a brow. "You can’t just dry it off on that towel you’re wearing?"

"I can do that," Liam realizes, looking down at himself. "That works. But, oh god, I haven’t dressed yet!"

"I’ll put on some tea," Louis decides, walking into the kitchen.

"There’s no time for tea!" Liam yells, already back in the bathroom.

Louis takes out two mugs from the cupboard. "There’s always time for tea!"

Before they went out on Friday, Liam was holding his lecture for Louis and Niall, accompanied by a miniature white board and everything. When Louis didn’t pay attention, he got a note. "Hand this to your parents when you get home," Liam had told him sternly. Louis paid more attention after that. Teacher-Liam is not a joke.

While Louis’ busying himself with making their tea, he thinks. Analyzes, trying to make sense of what is; the underground club. This weekend was probably the most interesting weekend Louis’ ever had in his entire life, yet people keep telling him he should forget about it, and move on. At least that’s what Louis gathers from the cold shoulders he’s received on every end there is. You definitely shouldn’t come here again. They don’t want him to know their secret. But Louis is curious by nature, he can’t help it.

He wonders what’s up with that Zayn guy. Does he and Harry have some kind of feud? Maybe they’re from separate mob gangs or something. Or maybe Harry got a modeling contract, and Zayn didn’t. No, that’s illogical. Both would’ve gotten it. What if Zayn is a spy, and Harry is onto him?

"Do these socks go with this tie?" Liam steps into the kitchen, dragging Louis out of his thoughts.

Louis turns, and takes in the burgundy socks the red tie Liam’s holding up. They don’t go well together, but he’s not going to tell Liam that in the state he’s in. "You’re wearing shoes, no one will notice what colour your socks are."

"Right. That actually makes sense. I guess I have time for tea, then," Liam takes a seat at the little coffee table they’ve got tucked in the corner of their kitchen. Liam sinks his shoulders, like he’s already exhausted, and it’s not even eight yet. "Did you work all night?"

"Yeah, at The Sea Hawk," Louis says, filling up the teacups.

"The Sea Hawk? I’ve been there. Nice place," Liam says, accepting the mug Louis hands him.

Louis takes a seat as well. "It is."

They sit in silence for a bit, Liam slurping his tea. He doesn’t have time for it to cool down. "Have you thought any more about getting a permanent job? I mean, I’m sure you’ll earn just as much, if not more by having a solid workplace."

Louis smirks. "Where’s the fun in that, though?"

In fact, Louis has thought about it. The idea of freeloading off of innocent bar owners came to him while he was high, actually. He wrote down all the pros and cons, did all his research, and even made a first draft in his work book. He got a lot done that night. At the time, it felt like Louis had come up with the greatest con ever. After the first night of trying it out, he convinced Niall he could make a living out of it. This was before he met Liam, of course. Liam would’ve talked him out of it in seconds. But since Louis is stubborn, he’s not going to quit so easily now.

Liam sighs. "One day you’ll get caught, you know. And the consequences won’t be pretty."

Louis just shrugs, sipping his tea.

 

 

 

 

Louis got three hours of sleep, tossing and turning for an hour after Liam left for work. It feels like his head is going to explode with all the theories he’s come up with about the underground club, or whatever it is. Louis wants to go back there again. He feels like he’s read a mystery novel, but the last chapter was missing, and now he can’t stop thinking about it.

He’s doing the dishes, for once, staring at the drip, drip, drip of the tap while scrubbing the same plate over and over again.

"If you don’t stop scrubbing, that plate will turn to dust," Liam says from behind him, making Louis startle and drop the plate back into the water.

"Jesus," he breathes. "You scared me. How did it go today?"

Liam shrugs, picking up a few of the newly cleaned mugs and places them in the cupboard. "Was fine. They had a test that period, so I didn’t do much other than wait."

"I thought you were holding a lecture?" Louis asks.

"I was, but they rescheduled it or something, I don’t know," Liam says. He sounds disappointed.

Louis rinses the plate. "You worked hard on that. There’s always a next time, though, Li."

"I guess so. What’s on your mind, anyway? You have bags," Liam says, leaning against the bench. "Are you still thinking about that basement?"

Louis dries his hands off on a flannel. "Yeah, I just… I kinda want to go back?"

Liam’s eyes widen. "Go back? Louis, you were almost killed last time you were there!"

"I wasn’t, stop being so dramatic."

"But why would you want to go back?" Liam asks incredulously. "I thought you said you didn’t care the other day."

"I think there’s something weird going on down there," Louis muses, absentmindedly drying a glass.

Liam shifts. "What, something illegal, you mean?"

"Not sure."

Liam is silent for a moment. "I think you should stay away from there, mate."

Louis sets the glass down harshly on the table, making Liam flinch. "What’s with everyone telling me to stay away from there? It’s doing my head in!"

Louis stomps out of the kitchen, and sits down on the couch in the living room, elbows on knees. He is not pouting, no. Nope.

Liam comes over, and carefully lowers himself down in his armchair. "Uhm, Lou-"

"What if you come with me?" Louis interrupts, looking at Liam excitedly. "If we go there right now, while it’s still light outside, the two of us, just to stake the place out? We can back each other up."

Liam shifts a bit, making small, hesitating sounds as if he’s waiting for someone to come and save him. "I don’t think that’s a good idea, Louis. I mean, that’s kinda like breaking and entering."

"No, of course it’s not. I know a lady there, Mrs. Hobbs, she’ll let us in," Louis says.

"Mrs. Hobbs?" Liam asks confused.

"And it’s not breaking and entering if someone lets us in, now is it?" Louis smiles, almost jumping in his seat. This could work.

"No, but-"

"It’s settled then, go get your coat," Louis says, getting out of his seat. It’s not like they’re gonna barge through the door or anything. Just, you know, find out more. What’s the worst thing that could happen, honestly? Louis wasn’t killed last time, surely they wouldn’t think to do it now. And Liam needs more excitement in his life.

Liam makes a whining noise. "But I’m tired."

"Oh, come on, Li. Please? I promise we’ll get out of there the minute something goes wrong."

"Goes wrong?"

Just as Louis is about to put on his parka, the front door opens, and in comes Niall.

"‘Ey lads, where’re you off to?"

 

 

 

 

Niall is way more excited about coming than Liam, and now the three of them are walking down the streets of London, listening to Niall going on and on about his new recipe. Chicken and waffles. Liam has been trying to tell Niall for ten minutes straight that chicken and waffles already is a thing, but Niall won’t listen.

"Niall!" Liam interrupts Niall mid-sentence. "I’ve been to New York, alright, and they are legit selling chicken and waffles on every damn street corner."

"Don’t shatter his dreams, Liam," Louis says, giving Niall a pat on the shoulder.

"Well, then," Niall says. "I’m going to make chicken and waffles in a chicken. And roast it."

"Nice," Louis says, earning him a friendly bump in the shoulder from the Irish one.

After another minute of walking, the three of them are standing in front of The Door. The Illegal, Underground Nightclub. Proper noun. Louis pushes the buzzer next to the old lady’s name.

"Yes?" Someone croaks at the other end of the line.

"Mrs. Hobbs!" Louis exclaims. "Still haven’t gotten them keys back, from the… key man. Think you could be a darling and buzz me in?"

"I told you, young man-" Blah, blah. Louis waits while she yells, patiently balancing back and fourth on his toes, while Niall and Liam exchange looks.

"Of course, of course" Louis says after Mrs. Hobbs has finished. "This will be the last time, I promise."

She buzzes them in. Louis beams.

Louis walks behind Niall and Liam down the stairs, making sure no one is following them. He feels like he’s in a proper James Bond film. He hasn’t really planned what exactly they’re gonna do once they get there. Maybe Louis can bang on the door demanding to get a refund for his broken phone.

"What are we looking for, Louis?" Niall asks. "You said there was a door?"

Louis pushes past Liam. "Yeah, it’s right…" He stops, frowning.

Where the fuck is the door?

He looks around the room, but all he can see are bikes and baby trolleys, locked inside metal storage cages.

"Lou?" Liam cautiously asks, taking a step forward.

Louis throws his hands up. "The door’s gone."

Silence.

"The door was right there on Saturday morning, alright," Louis points at the wall. Maybe they cemented it down? To hide it? Louis feels around on the wall. Small pieces of stone clinks to the floor.

"Mate, I think that wall has been there for a while," Niall says, also stepping forward. "You sure it was here?"

"Yes, Niall, I’m fucking sure," Louis snaps, making Niall step back again, slightly raising his hands in surrender. Louis’ head is spinning, and he’s starting to second-guess everything that’s happened the past two days. But he shouldn’t, because a door was right fucking there, and he saw the neon people walking in here yesterday. He also talked to Zayn, who also knew about this place, so there is no way he’s imagined it.

"Are you okay, Louis?" Liam puts a hand on his arm, and Louis quickly shakes him off.

"I’m so fucking confused," Louis murmurs, holding a hand to his forehead.

Liam closes his hands around Louis’ arm again. "Let’s go home, yeah? Get some rest."

"Yeah, Lou, you don’t look so good," Niall supplies, casting worried glances Liam’s way. Louis notices.

"What?" Louis asks, shaking off Liam’s hand once again. "You think I’m making this up?"

Liam shifts, glancing at Niall again, then back at Louis. "I mean… You smoke a lot of.. marihuana right, and so, I mean…Sometimes when you smoke too much marihuana, you know, some people start to see weird shit even when they haven’t, you know, smoked marihuana, and-"

"What the bloody fuck, Liam?" Louis shouts. "You think I was hallucinating? Making up an entire underground club? And all the people?"

Liam doesn’t say anything, just gives him a sympathetic look.

"It was right there," Louis points at the wall again. "Maybe they knew I’d come back, and covered it up or something."

"Who are ‘they’, Lou?" Niall asks.

"The neon people, you both saw them this weekend!" Louis exclaims, a desperate tone to his voice.

"Yeah, the students? Going to an after party?" Liam supplies.

"Yes," Louis says, sinking his shoulders. He’s exhausted.

How did they make the door disappear like that? Maybe it’s an optical illusion or something. Louis steps closer to the wall, and starts investigating every corner of it. Liam and Niall are whispering quietly behind him, being no help at all.

He doesn’t find anything.

"What the fuck," he breathes. He knows how this must look. His friends must think he’s lost his damn mind. But he hasn’t. Because the door was. Right. There.

"Maybe you should stay off the weed for a bit," Niall says, making Louis whip his head around, eyes boring daggers into Niall.

"And where do you think I was that morning, if not behind that door for all those hours? Passed out on the sodding cement floor?" Louis asks, angrily stubbing his foot across the floor in question. He kind of wants to kick something else.

Niall shrugs. "Maybe. Probably. You were pretty stoned."

"Weed doesn’t make you hallucinate like that!" Louis booms.

"But it can trigger a fucking psychosis!" Niall shouts back.

Louis stills. "Get out," he says coolly.

They don’t budge.

"Get the fuck out!" He yells.

"You can’t blame us being a bit worried right now," Liam pleads.

Louis snarls. "Alright, I can’t. So I’m gonna stay here until the door comes back, and I’ll prove it."

No one says anything for a moment, but Louis doesn’t take his angry gaze away from Niall.

"Fine," Niall huffs after a minute, turning to go up the stairs again. "Liam?"

Liam hesitates for a moment, then pushes his phone to Louis’ chest, a stern look on his face. "Keep this on you, call us when you’re done being difficult, and don’t smash it."

Then they’re gone.

Louis is feeling faint, fatigued, bloody tired. He also feels proper shit for being a shit to his friends. But it’s not just them he has to prove everything is real to, it’s himself as well. Because what if everything was, in fact, in his head? He’s always had a wild imagination. Even if he has to wait until sunrise, he’ll be waiting right outside this… wall. So he curls up next to one of the storage cages, takes off his parka to make a pillow out of it, and with Liam’s phone safely tucked in his pocket, he dozes off.

 

 

 

 

"…keep coming back here, then?"

"It shouldn’t be possible."

Louis groans, finding his back aching, and turns over. The voices stop.

The voices.

Louis snaps his eyes open, and looks around, trying to locate the people, or more importantly; where he is. And he knew it.

He’s back in the office. In the underground club. Louis is freezing cold, only wearing a t-shirt and curses himself internally when he remembers that he took off his parka outside the non-existent door. Or not, apparently, considering he’s back here. And in front of him is Harry, Gem/Jen, Thug #1 and a two other men he can’t recall seeing before.

"You’re real," he whispers, sitting up in the couch he’s been laid down on, and swings his legs off the edge. Tries to at least, until something sharp tugs his right leg back. He curses at the pain. There’s a chain around his ankle, shackling him to the couch by its legs.

"What the fuck is this?" he exclaims, tugging at the chain with his leg, making it clatter. "Get this off."

"I told you not to come back," a deep voice tells him, making him turn his head. Harry. He’s got his hair in a bun this time, and a cozy sweater covering up the previously exposed skin.

"You told me not to come back here," Louis corrects, waving his hand around the room. "And I was outside, so technically, I didn’t do anything wrong. You did, by bringing me back here. That makes you kind of a hypocrite, if I’m being honest."

Harry purses his lips.

"What’s with the door disappearing? My friends thought I’d lost my mind," Louis asks, trying to maneuver himself into a sitting position, having his right leg crossed awkwardly over his left one to avoid the cuff digging into his skin.

"He knows too much. What if he’s one of them?" Thug #1 tells Harry. And hold on, one of them? Who do they think he is? Scarface? Now Louis may look immensely menacing and terrifying and all that, but… No, no he doesn’t. He’s wearing pac man socks, for fucks sake.

"Or maybe he has the sight," one of the people to Harry’s left, a man, says.

Louis blinks. "The sight?" he asks while untucking his jeans from his socks. "What are you talking about?" And Louis though he was going out of his mind.

"Do you know where you are? What this place is?" Harry asks after a beat. "And don’t you dare lie."

Louis bites his lip, thinking. He doesn’t really know, but he still guesses, "An underground nightclub. An illegal one."

Gem/Jen has a hard time hiding her laughter behind Harry, who just stares dumbly at Louis. "So you really haven’t got a clue, then." He decides.

Louis shrugs. "Are you part of the mafia, then? Is this a brothel?"

The blonde girl’s laughter is turning into hysterics.

"Gemma," Harry says, turning to her, and her laughter dies down after a quick ‘sorry’. She’s still looking very much amused, though.

Louis is not. He leans back into the couch, giving up. "What is this place then, if it’s not something illegal?"

"What if I told you," Harry takes a step forward, carefully. "That this is a safe house for demigods?"

Louis blinks about fifteen times. "A what?"

"Demigods, half-bloods, does that ring any bells?" Harry asks, hovering over Louis like a New York skyscraper.

Louis snorts. "Like Percy Jackson, you mean?"

Harry nods, face serious.

Now Louis is the one breaking out in hysteric laughter, slapping his thigh and everything, the chain jingling like bells along with the rhythm. Why is no one else laughing, though? Louis wonders.

"Why is no one else laughing?" he asks out loud. Silence. Louis scrunches his forehead. "What, you’re not being serious, are you?"

"I’m being very, very serious, Louis," Harry says, nodding on each word, like it’ll make it more believable. It’s also the first time he calls Louis by his name. Louis’ stomach flutters. "What we want to know, though, is how you can be here."

"I can be anywhere I want," Louis shrugs, not having anything helpful to say.

"Only half-bloods or gods can walk through that door. Normal humans aren’t even supposed to be able to see that door," Harry says, a confused tilt to his tone, like Louis has all the answers.

Louis stares at them some more. Then he grins, "Are you pranking me or something? I was having this inside joke with myself that you were Apollo, and-"

They all gasp in unison, and Louis stops, his heart skipping a beat. There are five pairs of wide eyes boring into Louis now, and he’s never felt more uncomfortable.

Thug #1 steps forward, almost knocking over one of the men Louis doesn’t know, and grabs him harshly by his hair, forcing him to look him in the eye. "Who the fuck are you?"

Louis wipes some spit of his face, and with a lack of better judgement, backhands the thug across the face so hard his hand explodes in pain.

"Fuuuck," Louis squeaks, carefully cradling his own hand. The thug moves to grab Louis again, but Louis backs away. "Don’t fucking touch me, you tit."

Thug #1 is breathing harshly, a bruise already blooming on his cheek. Louis is quite proud of himself.

"You’re such a shit," the thug childishly whines.

"Enough!" Harry booms, making both Louis and Thug #1 jump.

Gemma steps forward. "So, he doesn’t know a thing. He’s clueless."

"What are we going to do?" a man asks.

"If we’re ever gonna figure this all out, we’ll have to convince him, for starters," Harry muses. "Can someone get Perrie in here?"

"Who’s Perrie?" Louis asks. "Another demigod?" he mocks.

"Yes," Harry nods courtly.

"Are we doing what I think we’re doing?" Gemma asks.

Harry chuckles. "Afraid so. I don’t think he’ll like us much after."

Louis huffs, biting back a comment.

A moment later a blonde girl with a bright smile steps into the room, taking a seat next to Louis. She reaches for his bruised hand, and waits for his permission before taking it and holding it in her own. She closes her eyes. Louis wants to roll his eyes, but he kind of likes Perrie, given she’s the only one here showing Louis respect, by asking before touching.

He’s not sure what he’s waiting for. He’s about to say as much until Perrie lets go of his hand and gives him a warm smile. Louis clenches and unclenches his hand into a fist, his heart now definitely beating through his chest, because his hand feels fine.

"Perrie Edwards," she introduces herself, shaking Louis’ hand. "Daughter of Asclepius, god of medicine and healing."

Louis faints.

 

 

 

 

  

They left Louis alone in the office. Again. He must admit, he’s quite tired of being stuck in there, no matter how much he’d wanted to come back a few hours earlier. He’s been given a glass of water and a banana to get his blood sugar up after his little fainting episode - something he’ll never in a million years bring up ever again.

Liam and Niall are probably worried, because he hasn’t called them yet. Thug #1 took the phone Liam lent him (apparently his name is Balder) (Louis had to laugh because he’s pretty sure there’s a guy in norse mythology sharing the same name), and Louis had to beg him not to smash it this time.

He’s been trying to find a logical explanation to how Perrie magically cured his - most likely broken - hand. Being the daughter of a greek god with healing powers is not a logical explanation. Maybe in Rick Riordan’s book, but not in Louis’. Still though… The door did magically disappear when he was trying to show it to Liam and Niall. But why could Louis see it the first time, and not the second time? Maybe the spliff had something to do with it, he doesn’t know.

Louis has decided this all leaves him with three possible answers: 1) Someone is pranking him, big time. Though Louis has no idea why they’d go through so much trouble for a simple lad like himself. 2) Louis should see a doctor. 3) Demigods, gods, Greek mythology, it’s all real, and has been this whole time.

Louis doesn’t know much about Greek mythology, apart from reading the Percy Jackson series when he was younger. He doesn’t remember much. According to those books, a demigod is a person whose one parent is a Greek god, and the other is a regular human. It described how gods would walk amongst the human species, fall in love with a man or a woman, and have a kid with them. Then the god would leave, and was not allowed to contact their child ever again. Quite depressing, if you ask Louis.

Louis’ been tapping his knee impatiently for a good hour now, nearly bursting with all the questions he wants answers to. He’s annoyed that they would leave him here, in the state he’s in, and not give him an explanation to why he’s still bloody cuffed to the sodding couch jesus fucking christ.

If no one feels like giving him answers, Louis will find them himself.

He rises from the couch, carefully to not chaff his ankle any more than it already has been, and squats down to find the other end of the chain. And of course, of course it’s linked between two metal bars on the couch’s legs. He grunts.

Naturally, this is when Louis starts dragging the couch with him to the other end of the room, to where the bookshelves are at. The floor creaks as the legs of the couch are making tiny scratches on the wood. Again, fuck Harry’s floor.

Louis is exhausted when he finally reaches his destination, and slumps down on the armrest, moving his fringe away from his eyes. He scans the titles of the books in front of him. Now that he really thinks about it, it should have been obvious the first time around as to why all the literature in here is mainly Greek history. Because Harry has a thing for Greece and Greek mythology. An obsession, really. And sometimes - in Harry’s case - obsessions leads to extreme delusions.

Louis takes out the smallest book he can find; a pamphlet. He unfolds it, and a moment later he’s sitting with a map over every single significant Greek god there is. A family tree.

Louis frowns. He can’t see Asclepius - allegedly Perrie’s father - on the map. So apparently he’s not good enough to make it to the family tree, then.

Louis turns the map over, and on the backside there’s small illustrations of each of the twelve Olympians. Zeus, Poseidon, Hera, Ares, Demeter, Apollo… Apollo. Louis reads the little description. Apollo is the god of music, poetry, art, sun, light, oracles, archery, plague, medicine and knowledge. Has a twin sister, Artemis. Son of Zeus and Leto.

Earlier, when he’d joked about Harry being Apollo, he hadn’t meant it. Or had he?

No. Nope, no no no. Louis refolds the pamphlet, and stuffs it back in the bookshelf. Harry can’t actually be Apollo. It’s absurd! Or is it? No…

His mind is going a hundred miles an hour, trying to make sense of everything. The door disappearing, his hand healing, the sun coincidently going up the same time Harry enters his "safe house for demigods" two times in a row.

Isn’t Apollo supposed to do that with a chariot or something? Not by throwing a parade with super models.

The door opens, and Louis jumps, making him fall off the arm of the chair and back into the couch, like he’s just been caught with his hand down the cookie jar.

"What happened in here?" Harry asks, taking a step into the room, mournfully staring at the scratches on his hardwood floor.

Louis sits up straighter, staring at Harry. He doesn’t really resemble Apollo from the illustrations, if he’s being honest. Then again, they’re illustrations, not portraits.

"Are you Apollo?" Louis blurts, closing his mouth shut the minute it’s out.

Harry freezes. He actually freezes, one leg midair, his walk interrupted by a simple question. Or not so simple, apparently.

"How did you…?" Harry asks, whispers, and lowers his foot back down.

Louis doesn’t say anything, just tilts his head in question.

"No," Harry chuckles awkwardly, before sitting down next to Louis, not looking at him. "No."

"Touchy subject?" Louis squints his eyes.

"No, it’s just. You got it a bit wrong, I believe," Harry says. Now he’s looking at Louis, suggestively.

Louis just shakes his head. "Can you stop being so vague? I feel like the cat was out of the bag the minute Perrie introduced herself. Now, I don’t trust the cat, just so we’re clear."

He doesn’t hesitate. "Apollo is my father."

Louis tries not to stare at him like he’s the most abnormal creature he’s ever laid eyes on. It’s hard. He feels a bit sorry for Harry, to be honest. Imagine convincing yourself that you’re the son of a mythical god.

"Right," Louis says, not very convinced, but he’ll play along. "So you’re a demigod, then, like Perrie."

"Yes," Harry breathes.

"Like Percy."

"Yes."

"Like Hercules."

"Heracles," Harry corrects, an amused smirk playing at the corner of his mouth. "One of the greatest heroes that ever was."

"Demigods can be heroes?" Louis asks.

"They very much can. Anyone can."

"Are you?"

A beat. "No."

Alright, then.

Harry shifts in his seat, putting one leg under the other and faces Louis. He gestures to the bookshelf. "Been reading up?"

Louis shrugs. "Out of boredom more than interest." Lies.

Harry hums. He moves even closer to Louis, tangling his fingers together over his knee. "I came in here to ask you something, actually."

"Did you, now?"

Harry hesitates for a moment. "Are you- are both your parents… Your biological ones?"

Louis splutters, something like ptssr, before blinking, offended. "Of course they bloody are!"

Harry purses his lips. "Are you sure?"

He can’t believe this. Is he trying to suggest that Louis might also be the son of a mythical god? Really? Louis is starting to think he’d like Harry way better if he actually was a crime lord. "Yes, Harry! I’m pretty damn sure."

"How sure?"

Louis gets out of his seat, advancing towards Harry, but he stands up, as well, and moves away, so Louis is left tugging at his cuff and throwing his hands up. "What kind of a rude fucking question is that? And get this off!" He tugs at the chain again, trying to kick it Harry’s way.

Harry raises his hands in surrender. "It was just a question."

"Yeah, well. Choose your questions better next time, then."

"So you’re okay with me asking another question?" Harry presses.

Louis sighs, sitting down again. "I never intended on going anywhere, you know. I probably have just as many questions as you have. So this," Louis gestures back to the chain. "I don’t see the point of."

Harry considers for a moment. "Alright, I’ll get the key. Stay there."

Louis blinks incredulously, crossing his arms. As Harry is about to leave, he tells him "And bring my phone back as well, will you? Or my flatmate will send out a search party."

Harry gives him a mock salute, and closes the door.

 

 

 

 

Louis: gonna be in late, tell Liam not to wait up

Louis: p.s. i’m fine

Louis: p.p.s. don’t touch my lasagna, neil

Louis puts Liam’s phone back in his pocket. "So…"

They moved the couch back to its original position, and are now sitting down in each end of it. Harry’s got them both a cup of tea, and he’s been awkwardly sipping it while Louis’ been going through the texts he’s received from Niall. "What did your flatmate say?"

"Niall’s not my flatmate, Liam is. I don’t really know where Niall lives," Louis chuckles, dipping his teabag in and out of his cup. No one knows where Niall lives. Whenever they bring up the subject, he always lives someplace new; Narnia, Hogwarts, Regina George’s basement. Louis has this theory that he doesn’t actually live anywhere, ‘cause he’s always moving around, socializing and meeting new people. He crashes on his and Liam’s couch at least twice a week.

"‘s Liam that lent me the phone, after your mate Balder destroyed mine," Louis says, giving Harry an assessing look.

"Sorry about that," he says, taking another sip of his tea. "Balder’s got a temperament, what with being the son of Ares and all that."

Ares, god of war. Was that his excuse all through middle school whenever he got into a fight then? ‘Sorry for punching you, Patrick, but I didn’t choose to be the son of Ares.’ Louis is gonna start making that excuse whenever he drinks on a Wednesday night; ‘Sorry, Li, but I’m the son of Dionysus, wine is like oxygen to me!’ Louis sighs. "Right. Anyway, Liam hasn’t freaked out yet, according to Niall. Or hasn’t cared to, I guess. I think he’s mad at me."

"Why?" Harry frowns. Like he cares. But he’s giving him a look, like the only thing that matters in this moment is what Louis is going to say. It’s weird, really. It’s like you can’t be dishonest around him. That if you are, you’ll hurt his feelings, and in return, your own feelings are hurt. Louis doesn’t remember lying to him in the three days he’s known him. Apart from playing along with the whole demigod thing, but that’s not really lying. It’s called pleasing.

"Why?" Louis muses. "Probably because I screamed at him earlier about not believing me."

"When you were showing your friends the door," Harry says. It’s not a question.

"When I was showing them a door that did not exist anymore," Louis corrects. "They thought I was psychotic."

Harry raises one brow. "You don’t agree?"

"Funny," Louis says dryly, sipping his tea. "Why did the door disappear?"

"It didn’t disappear, per se. It kinda camouflages? Sort of, around normal people," Harry says. Camouflages. The door is a chameleon, confirmed.

"You don’t count as normal people, then?"

Harry gives a tightlipped smile. "Not demigods, no. Not completely."

"Only half," Louis states.

Harry hums in response.

"So what does that make me, then?" Louis asks.

Harry ponders for a moment, tapping his tea cup with his fingers. "I’m not… sure."

Louis raises a brow, waiting.

"I mean," Harry continues. "The reason why I asked you about your parents was to make sure you weren’t like us. But, still…"

"You’re saying I’m lying?" Louis asks, feeling the anger flutter back into his chest.

"I’m only saying you could be wrong. About your parents," Harry says, carefully. He puts his cup down on the floor, sitting up a bit straighter, as if he’s expecting a punch coming his way. He’s right to be cautious.

"Are you suggesting that I’ve been lied to my whole life? And for what? Because I’m a demigod?" Louis mocks a laugh. "C’mon Harry, that’s absolutely ridiculous!"

"What do I have to do to convince you, then?" Harry asks, raising his voice.

"You can’t convince me, Harry!" Louis raises his voice as well. "Because it’s a fucking joke! It’s fiction! Alright?"

Harry stills. "Not to the people staying here, it’s not." His voice is scarily calm. "The same people who are going through hell because of who their parent is. Who are being targeted every fucking hour of every day. Because we’re not supposed to be here. We were never supposed to be born. And since we were, there’s a price on each of our heads."

Louis is gaping. He was not expecting that kind of speech. He’d actually feel horrible denying it further, if it’s that important to Harry. "Someone’s killing you?"

"Lost three from this safe house. Who knows how many more in other parts of the world," Harry’s voice is shaking.

"Who’s doing this?" Louis asks, voice much softer than before.

"Minor gods," Harry shrugs.

"Like Perrie’s father?"

"Yeah." His voice sounds so broken. Devastated, even. Louis could actually believe what he’s being told. If, you know, it wasn’t based on myths.

"But why?"

Harry shrugs again. "Like I said, we weren’t supposed to be born. It’s not exactly ethical, I guess, for a god and a human to have children. And the minor gods are always bored, having been around all these years. Catching us gives them some feeling of significance, power. Like the Olympians are finally acknowledging them."

"Catching you? I thought they were killing you?" Louis asks confused.

"I never said that. But no, we can’t die like normal people can. Gods live forever. So, since we are demigods, we only go halfway there, so to speak."

Louis’ eyes widen. "And where’s that?"

"The Underworld."

Louis sips on his tea for a while. It’s gone cold. "Isn’t that like hell? Doesn’t that mean you’re… you know."

"Dead? Usually, yes. But when demigods end up there, they just keep on living there. Forever. Frozen in time."

Louis can’t remember reading any of this in the Percy Jackson series. They made the Underworld sound like an amusement park in comparison. Louis feels a bit lightheaded, and desperate for a topic change.

"What’s the point in having a code word to come through your second door if you’re the only ones being able to enter the first one?"

Harry smirks, his face finally relaxing. "The answer is right in front of me."

Louis puts his hand to his chest in a mock offense. "Excuse me?"

"Can’t have just anyone walking through that door, now can we?" Harry grins. "No matter what they are. Also, regular gods are able to enter through the first one, but there’s only a handful of them we trust, naturally, so, that’s why the second one has a code word."

Louis presses his lips together, squints his eyes. "What is the code word?"

"Not telling you," Harry says, a glint in his eye.

Louis just huffs. He’ll figure it out eventually. And really, a code word? If a god was determined enough, surely they would find a way through that door, with or without a code word.

"Then why would you let me in, if you’re having such trust issues with strangers? I could be a minor god, you know. In disguise," Louis says.

"Yeah, no. You don’t really fit the profile of someone that’s been around for thousands of years. Gods can’t get stoned, either," he smirks, giving Louis a knowing look.

"Can you?"

"Yeah, I…" Harry brings his fingers up to his mouth, physically trying to restrain his smile. He’s not very good at it. It’s kind of endearing, but Louis’ not going to tell him that.

"What is the sight? One of your friends mentioned it earlier," Louis asks.

"Oh, that," Harry says, not so subtly trying to cough away his smile. "It’s what humans would call a psychic, kinda. Someone who just knows."

"And you think I could have it?"

"Nah, that’s a theory that didn’t quite add up," Harry says, considering.

Louis doesn’t know why he’s offended by that. "Why? I could be… Psychic. I mean, I could smell the Apollo on you the moment I laid eyes on you."

Harry chuckles. "Is that so? The moment you laid your eyes on me."

Louis wants to slap himself, he’s blushing. Abort, abort, drink tea, drink more tea. The tea is so cold it’ll probably lower his temperature a bit. God. That’s a line he’ll never use again, intentional or not.

Harry seems unfazed though. "If you really did have the sight, you’d see Perrie coming as well. And the door wouldn’t disappear on you like that. The door does, however, disappear for demigods when they’re in the company of humans. To avoid confusion in case said demigod steps through the door. So I’m not quite sure where you come in, in all of this, or what you are."

Louis chooses to ignores the last sentence. "You’re talking as if you’re not human," he answers instead.

"Am I though?"

"Seem human enough to me," Louis says, considering. "Hey, by the way. Do all demigods have special powers? Like Perrie with the healing, and you with the sunrise?"

Harry sighs. "I’m not the one in charge of when the sun rises. I don’t have any control of that. Perrie is… rare, so to speak. She’s the only one under this safe house that has inherited ‘powers’" Quotation marks "by her godly parent."

Louis ponders on that for a bit. "Then why did the sun coincidentally rise at the exact same time both times I’ve seen you and your gang show up here?"

"That’s just me being difficult," Harry says with a humorless laugh. "If I walk in here the minute the sun goes up, it means my father just missed me. If he was intending on seeing me, of course."

"You’ve never met him?" Louis asks.

"Not once," Harry answers, mouth tilting into a frown. "My sister, Gemma, has though."

"Gemma’s your sister? And she’s also a demigod?"

"Yeah. Apollo actually lived with my mother for quite some time before he fucked off."

Louis tilts his mouth down, regretful. "I’m sorry."

"Nah, it’s alright. He left before I was even born, so."

"Then how did Gemma meet him? Does she remember it from when she was little, then?"

"He left when she was three, so no. But she ran into him while she was visiting mum a few years back. Right after we’d moved to London. He was just popping by, to see how things were," Harry breathes a short laugh. "Said he really, truly, did care. That it was out of his control, and all that crap."

Louis really feels for him. His own dad isn’t exactly the father of the year himself, not really being a bigger part in his life other than sending him money and calling him on his birthdays. But at least Louis has the choice to meet up with him, grab a coffee and talk. Harry doesn’t have that. Whether his father is Apollo or not, Louis doesn’t doubt the fact that Harry’s never met his father.

"Gemma doesn’t blame him for anything, though," Harry continues. "She wants to believe him so badly. Can’t blame her, either, since she’s had the privileged of meeting him."

"And you?" Louis quietly asks. "If you had the chance, would you like to meet him?"

"That’s every kids dream, isn’t it? Who’s never met their parent. Just to see what they’re like," Harry says. "For me though? I’ve never really decided on that. Guess I’ll wait and see if it happens."

Louis’ phone buzzes, making him realize how quietly they’ve been talking. He can hear every inhale and exhale coming from Harry, the soft padding of feet outside the door. Louis’ totally forgotten that this place is bigger than the office, that there’s more to the mystery that is The Safe House. Proper noun.

Louis takes out his phone. Niall’s calling.

"Is it okay if I…?" Louis asks.

Harry gives him a go ahead gesture.

"Niall," Louis answers the phone. Harry starts collecting the tea cups, Louis’ glass of water from earlier, and the banana skin that’s been carelessly thrown to the floor.

"Alright, Lou? Still waiting for that door to appear?" Niall asks. He sounds tired. Louis quickly pulls the phone away from his ear, checking the time. 1:08am. Shit.

Louis puts the phone to his ear again. "No, I…" What is he supposed to say? Should he lie? Or tell the truth, and fuel to their worries about his mental state? How is he even supposed to convince them that he’s telling the truth? He goes with something in between, for now. "I’m with a friend."

A tiny smile is tugging on Harry’s lips, and Louis nearly misses it. But he saw. As Harry turns to leave with the dishes, Louis smiles to himself.

"A friend?" Niall asks.

"I do have other friends than just you and Liam, you know," Louis says bitterly.

"Are you coming home anytime soon?" Niall asks.

Louis hesitates. Fuck it. "Do you even want me to come home?"

"What are you talking about, Louis? Of course we want you to come home," Niall says, his tone incredulous. "Back to yours and Liam’s place, I mean," he adds.

"C’mon, Niall. It’s just as much your place as mine and Liam’s," Louis says softly, playing with a loose string on his t-shirt. The pressure in his chest is lifting a bit.

Niall chuckles. "Do you want me to meet you halfway? Bring your beanie and all? It’s cold out."

Did Louis mention he can’t stay mad at his friends for long? No? He can’t. "Nah, it’s alright. I’ll be fine. Be sure to warm up that lasagna, though, and we’ll share it."

"So you’re coming home?"

"Yeah, I’ll be there in half an hour, okay?" Louis is smiling now. He loves Niall.

"Alright, mate. I’ll see you then. Love you."

Louis is still smiling when Harry comes back.

"What?" Harry asks, a smile of his own tugging at his lips.

Louis just shakes his head, pockets his phone, and stands up. "I’m gonna head home now, I think. Niall’s warming up the lasagna."

Harry frowns. "You’re not staying?"

"Staying?" Louis questions. "Why?"

"I just…" Harry gives a short laugh. "I guess it’s safe, for now. Has been so far, right?"

Oh, jesus. Is this about the demigod thing again? Louis is balancing on his toes, swaying back and forth with his hands in his pockets. "Yup."

Harry considers him for a bit. "After all that shit I just told you, you still don’t believe me?"

And that’s one way to ruin the mood. "I do believe you, Harry. At least some of it. The rest… It’s just a lot to take in, alright? You do get that?"

Harry is silent for a moment. Then he nods. "Of course, yeah. I guess I’m just, more used to it."

A beat. "Will the guards show me out this time as well, or…?" Louis asks, a playful tone to his voice. Breaking the tension, just breaking the tension.

It works. Harry laughs, the sound painting the atmosphere of the room in warmer colours. "I’ll show you out."

And Louis follows Harry.

Chapter Text

Louis wakes up around 10am, having slept soundly the whole night. His head hadn’t been as full as it was the day before, thanks to the talk he had with Harry. He’s standing in the shower now, though, and that’s when new questions start popping into his head. Questions about demigods, and lies, and deceit. Maybe Louis should call his mum? No, he can’t do that. What good son randomly calls his mother asking if she’s actually his mother.

He could call his father though, since he’s practically a stranger by now. Still though, it’s a weird question to ask. Maybe if he invites him out for dinner, and starts digging a bit, going about it more vaguely. It’s still a shit thing to do. Then again, his father choosing not to be around most of his life was also a shit thing to do. What if that’s the reason his father has been so distant? Because he never really was his father?

Louis turns the water to cold, ice cold. Just considering the idea of this is making him feel nauseous.

After his shower, he curls up in front of the TV with a bowl of cereal, not really paying attention to the program. It’s some kind of a baking contest. Louis has zero interest in baking.

Maybe Louis should pop by the safe house today? Get more answers, and in return provide some for Harry. If Louis’ not psychic, nor a demigod, then what is he? He’s sure that if he was an actual god, he’d known. And he shouldn’t even be playing with the idea, it’s not healthy, he thinks as he shoves another spoonful of coco pops into his mouth.

Louis picks up the remote, putting on Netflix. Maybe there’s a movie he can watch, just to give him some ideas. Conveniently, the only film that’s on Netflix right now featuring Greek mythology is Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. He never actually watched the movies, only read the books. He puts it on.

One and a half hours later, Louis is disappointed. Where’s the chimera fight scene? And why isn’t Percy’s eyes sea green, like Riordan reminded him every five pages throughout the series? Neither did he learn anything new. Luke’s hot, though.

He gets off of the couch, and takes his dishes to the kitchen. He contemplates putting his bowl in the sink and leaving it for Liam to deal with, but Louis’ a responsible adult. He can clean his own damn bowl.

Neither Liam, nor Niall, mentioned anything more about the door when he came home last night. Instead, they talked about going out again this weekend, just the three of them. It was fun last time, but didn’t exactly end as planned. Niall hurt his knee, Liam was tripping, and Louis was basically kidnapped. They decided that this time around, they’d go out for drinks at Gillan’s - the only place Louis can’t take advantage of. Niall said if he did so, that would be the end of their friendship.

Gillan’s is a small bar just down the street of where Louis lived before he moved in with Liam. Louis was living by himself then, and still going to uni, where he and Niall met. Liam doesn’t share the same love for Gillan’s as Louis and Niall does, but that’ll change on Friday. Until then, Louis has a lot of free time on his hand. He could find a bar and earn a few quid, but he could also visit the safe house. He wonders if Harry is there now. He also wonders if Harry lives there, or if it’s just more of a clubhouse they go to in times of trouble. Louis will ask.

  

 

 

 

Mrs. Hobbs probably hates his guts by now. He’s got to find another way to get inside. As for now, he presses the buzzer. She takes some time to answer, and when she does, he doesn’t get away easily. After threatening to call the cops on him, and telling him off for disturbing her afternoon nap, she finally lets him in. Louis’ sure that deep inside her heart, she cares about him.

When he gets to the basement, the door is back. There’s no "normal people" around him this time, so of course it’s there. Just like Harry said. Louis walks through the dark corridor, making a mental note to suggest that Harry should install a light bulb. When he gets to the second door, he knocks.

There’s a bit of shuffling on the other side, before the letterbox opens. "Code?"

"Hello, ’s Louis. Is Harry in?" Louis asks, giving a tiny wave. The letterbox closes. So rude.

A moment later, the letterbox opens again, only for a split second, revealing a pair of green eyes. Louis doesn’t even get to blink before the door opens, and Harry is gesturing for him to come inside. Today, Harry is wearing another one of the shirts that reveal his torso - and is that tattoos? His hair is loose, resting on his shoulders. Harry is fairly attractive, Louis thinks, not for the first time. Louis can’t help but compare himself to him, how Louis hasn’t shaved in five days, is wearing joggers, neatly tucked into his socks. It’s fashion, though, just in another sense.

Louis takes a few steps into the room, taking it all in again. There are a few people sitting around a table, playing some sort of board game, but their eyes are on him now. They aren’t dressed up and painted in neon today, just in their casual clothing. There are also some people sitting by themselves in couches, either reading or scrolling through their phones. Or did, because they are staring Louis down as well.

Louis waves awkwardly. "Hi."

After some grunts and some shifting around, they’re all back to doing what they were before. Alright, then.

Harry comes up next to Louis. Louis leans in, and whispers, "Why do they hate me?"

Harry makes a clicking sound, then puts his hand on the small of Louis’ back, leading him forward. "We’ll talk in my room. The office’s occupied at the moment."

Louis ducks his head, trying to conceal the burning in his cheeks. His touch is so gentle, and they’re going to his room. Wait.

"Your room?"

"Yes."

Harry lets his hand drop from Louis’ back when they enter the narrow hallway on the other side of the common room, making the spot go cold, and instead walks a step ahead of Louis. He stops outside a door at the very end, and opens it. Louis steps inside.

It’s cozy, homely. It kinda reminds him of what the inside of a treehouse would look like if it was decorated properly. There are plants everywhere, and the bed has been made as if it was going to get it’s picture taken for a magazine, cushions in warm colors neatly placed atop the bedspread. There are a few framed posters of famous musicians lining one wall, and a massive bookshelf lining another. Like in the office, there’s no windows here either, but Louis doesn’t get a claustrophobic vibe from the room anyway. Harry sure made it work.

Harry is hesitating by the door for a moment, like he’s waiting for Louis to judge his taste in music or something.

"It’s nice," Louis comments. "Really nice."

Harry ducks his head, and goes to sit in one of the fancy-looking, orange armchairs that’s placed the furthest away from the door, and gestures for Louis to sit in the other one. A wooden coffee table, decorated with a fair selection of cacti, separates the two chairs.

"So you live here?" Louis asks, taking a seat, twining his fingers together over his stomach, his elbows atop the armrests while gazing around the room.

"For eight years," Harry nods, also looking around.

Louis frowns, Harry doesn’t look that old. "How old were you when you moved away from home?"

"Fifteen," Harry says, not missing a beat. Louis opens his mouth to comment, but Harry beats him to it, "Tea?"

Louis deepens his frown, but nods nevertheless, "Yeah, tea sounds good."

While Harry is gone fetching their tea, Louis gets up from his seat, and spends his time scanning the bookshelves. Unlike in the office, there’s not a single book about Greek mythology on this shelf. There’s comics, a collection of poetry, DIY books, cooking books, and various top-selling novels. There’s also a handful of children’s books, like he couldn’t bear to throw them away. The middle shelf has an ugly plant on it, a couple of guitar picks, and a framed picture. Louis leans in. There’s a picture of a little boy, probably around five, a girl, and a brunette woman. He leans in closer.

"My hair wasn’t as curly back then," Harry says from behind him, making Louis jump back.

"Sorry for…uh, snooping," Louis apologizes once he’s gotten his breath back.

Harry gives him a lopsided smile, "It’s alright. Tea?"

Louis accepts the mug Harry hands him. It’s littered with tiny, smiling sunflowers, clumsily painted on. There’s a fingerprint in the middle of one of the sunflowers’ faces. "Was these in your DIY books?" Louis asks, gesturing to the mug he’s holding.

Harry grins. "Shut up."

They take a seat again. It’s weird, Louis walked in here with a million questions, but he can’t think of a single one to break the silence. So he starts sipping his tea instead. Is that caramel?

"Have you thought about it?" Harry eventually asks.

"About what?" Louis asks.

"You know, the…" Harry says suggestively. "Thing."

"My parents," Louis guesses. Harry nods. "I did… I mean, I’m pretty sure they are my real parents, but I was thinking that maybe…" Louis shakes his head.

Harry perks up though. "What?"

A beat. "I’m thinking about inviting my father out for dinner. Ask some questions."

There’s a smile curling on Harry’s lips. "So you believe me now?"

Louis ponders for a bit, not sure what to answer. He’s been pretty determined in his beliefs, but since yesterday… He’s been unsure. "I shouldn’t," Louis decides.

"Why not?"

Louis takes small sips of his tea, buying himself some time while he thinks. Then, "Greek mythology was just fiction to me up until three days ago. It wouldn’t be very wise to just blindly believe it’s all of a sudden a reality, you know?"

"It would," Harry huffs.

"It wouldn’t," Louis says. "If I were to believe it, it would turn the world as I know it upside down."

"Not everything in Greek mythology is real, you know?" Harry carefully says. "All the monsters and stuff, they’re mostly fiction the humans came up with to make the stories more interesting."

"Mostly?" Louis eyes go wide. There are actually monsters out there?

Harry chuckles, unfazed by the panic in Louis’ voice. "Mostly, as in, they’re not as bad as they sound. Most don’t even exist. Take a Cyclops, for instance. They’re actually just normal people that lived around three thousand years ago, and were missing an eye due to various things; war, work, punishments, et cetera. So they made up a name for that group of people. Quite horrible, if you ask me."

"Really?" Louis asks, astonished. "What about Medusa?"

"Oh, she’s real," Harry sips his tea. Louis splutters his back into his cup, coughing. Harry gives him an offended look. "What? She’s fine now, got that mess of a hair fixed ages ago."

Harry is making it harder for Louis to believe what he’s saying by the second. "But in Percy Jackson-"

"Percy Jackson is fiction," Harry interrupts, shaking his head. "Forget everything you’ve read about Greek mythology, Louis. I can assure you that most of it is just pure bullshit."

"But the Olympians are real, apparently," Louis says. "And demigods. And powers. And the Underworld."

Harry sets his mug down on the table. "I’ll break it down for you, okay?"

Louis nods dumbly.

"Let’s say you were out one night, and something crazy happened. So you decided to share that story with one of your mates. Then one of your mates though that story was so good, they just had to share it with their mates," Harry says. "You following?"

Louis nods, blinking.

"And the story is just so good, it was talked about in class. It was talked about on parties. It was talked about at someone’s Aunt’s and Uncle’s wedding anniversary. So it spread further. Years passed, and a teenager asks his father how things were when he was young. So he recalls hearing that crazy story. He doesn’t know who it involved, doesn’t know it’s origin. He just knows it’s a good story, and he wants to share it," Harry shifts a bit. "Do you see where I’m going with this?"

Louis purses his lips. "The story changed?"

"The story changed," Harry confirms, satisfied. "Imagine that story going around for thousands of years, then. Do you think it would stay exactly the same?"

"It wouldn’t," Louis decides. Harry’s got a point. Louis’ just never thought about it like that, but now that he does, it makes perfect sense. It also makes everything more believable. It’s not that crazy to say that gods exist, when they’ve been talked about since the beginning of time. Is it? Still, though, there’s something that doesn’t add up.

Louis sets his mug down as well. "But how can the stories of the Olympians and the demigods stay the same, then? Surely they would’ve changed as well, like the rest?"

"That’s because the gods are still around," Harry says. "They wouldn’t want their stories to become something else."

"Then why couldn’t the gods keep all the stories true, then? Make sure they wouldn’t change, and all that. If it really is possible," Louis challenges.

Harry mocks a laugh. "That sounds like a lot of work. Who has time for that amount of damage control?" He says incredulously, like it’s obvious. It’s not. Louis decides to leave it for now.

There’s a knock on the door, and Gemma walks straight in.

"Oh," she says. "Didn’t know you had company. Again," she gives Harry a knowing look.

She walks toward Louis with an outstretched hand. "I don’t think I’ve properly introduced myself. I’m Gemma Styles."

Styles. That must be Harry’s surname as well, then. Harry Styles. Even his bloody name is perfect. Louis takes her hand. "Louis. Tomlinson. But I’m sure you’ve heard."

Gemma raises a brow. "Have I?"

"Oh, come on. I’m not exactly a welcomed guest amongst your squad out there. Know thy enemy, and all that, you know?"

Gemma presses her lips together. "Is it that obvious?"

Harry claps his hands together. "Anyway! Gemma! Hi," Harry awkwardly exclaims, eagerly interrupting. "What did you want?"

Gemma winks at Louis, holding back a smile. She winks. What the hell does that mean, then?

"Zayn’s here," she says, pointing a thumb behind her.

Harry sighs, tilting his head back.

"Wait," Louis cuts in. "What’s the deal with you and Zayn? Saw you arguing-"

Harry holds up a hand. "I’ll tell you later," then he stops, like he just had an idea. "Or maybe…?" Harry looks at Gemma, then back at Louis, then back at Gemma again, and raises a brow.

"What?" Louis squints his eyes.

Gemma just points at Louis, incredulously raising a brow. Harry nods. Gemma shrugs. Louis huffs. Siblings.

Then Gemma is out the door, leaving Harry and Louis.

"I think the office is available now," Harry says, getting out of his seat, and walks out the door. Louis follows.

 

 

 

 

"Zayn, this is Louis. Louis, this is Zayn," Harry introduces. They don’t shake hands, instead they just stares at each other. Their first run-in wasn’t exactly friendly, as Louis recalls.

"He threw his apron at me," Zayn mutters.

"And you bossed me around," Louis shoots back.

The three of them are standing in the middle of the office, and Louis’ pretty sure that from the outside, this is what a Sopranos poster would look like.

Harry clears his throat. "Zayn, why don’t you tell Louis your full name?" Louis rolls his eyes. As if he was to stalk him on Instagram later.

"Why should I? It’s none of his business," Zayn spits.

"Zayn, I swear to god, I’m gonna kick you out once and for all if you don’t start talking," Harry threatens. Louis had forgotten how scary he could sound, if he put his mind to it.

Zayn takes a deep breath, the dramatic fucker, and straightens his posture. "My name’s Zephyrus. And I’m the god of the west wind."

Louis feels like his eyes are gonna pop out of his head. "You gotta be fucking kidding me?" he exclaims. "An actual god? Is this a joke?"

Zayn a.k.a. Zephyrus just examines his fingers, bored. Louis turns to Harry. "Tell me this is a joke."

Harry shakes his head, and goes to lean against the desk. "Afraid not."

"Aren’t gods supposed to be like-"

"Oi, show me some fucking respect, you wanker," Zayn spits. A god with a colourful vocabulary, at that. Louis can’t believe it.

"You’re not a god," Louis says, tone critical.

Zayn steps closer to Louis then, one eyebrow raised high. "Oh no? Then explain this."

With a flick of his finger, a slight breeze is sent Louis’ way, his fringe brushing into his eyes. Zayn hums satisfied. Did Zayn just… Breathe on him?

Louis tries so hard to hold it in, but he can’t. He howls out laughing, holding his stomach and everything. He’s sure the people outside can hear him loud and clear, maybe even Mrs. Hobbs. He should be shocked, maybe he is shocked, but bloody hell, is that it?

"I knew it," Zayn mutters while Louis is trying to recover. "Every fucking time."

Louis wipes his eyes, going over to the couch to sit down for a moment. "I’m sorry, it’s just," he cackles. Louis lifts his own fingers, and in a mock gesture, flicks them the same way Zayn did. Out of the corner of his eye he can see Harry struggling to restrain his own smile, hiding it underneath his fingertips.

It takes him a few moments before he’s fully composed again. Zayn is staring at him, menacing. And then it just clicks. Zayn just gave him proof. No matter how small and frail, it was still solid proof that he has abilities. Just like Perrie. And according to Zayn, he’s a god. God of the west wind. Which is also a minor god.

"Do you trust him?" Louis directs the question at Harry.

"He’s not a danger, no," Harry answers, taking his fingers away from his mouth. "He’s been around for a while."

"Then why are you so cautious about letting him in here?" Louis presses.

"Because," Zayn cuts in. "I was trying to help."

"Selling us out doesn’t count as help," Harry spits.

"I didn’t sell you out, Harry. How many times do I have to tell you-"

"Wait, wait, wait," Louis stops them. "I’m not following."

"It’s none of your business," Zayn snarls, not turning away from Harry.

Harry looks like he’s ready to explode, the veins on his neck bulging. Whatever happened between the two of them really pissed him off.

"I won’t discuss this with you now," Harry says quietly, setting his jaw, as if he’s hoping Louis won’t hear. "We’re done here."

"Harry," Zayn starts, more gently, almost pleadingly.

"Go," Harry interrupts, staring at the door behind Zayn. His fingers are twitching at his sides.

Zayn lingers for a moment, like he’s about to say something else, then turns to leave. Just before the door clicks shut, another breeze is sent Louis’ way. It’s cold, making Louis’ hairs stand up in the back of his neck.

Louis shifts a bit in his seat, not really knowing what to say. Harry is chewing his lip for a moment, then he comes over and plops down next to Louis, crossing his legs. He seems restless, his leg bouncing up and down. He’s usually so calm, even when he’s threatening people (Louis).

"Is everything… uhm," Louis clears his throat. He still has goosebumps from the wind. "Is everything alright?"

Harry drags his fingers through his hair, twice, before answering, "Yeah. It’s just…"

"What?" Louis asks encouragingly.

"We had a… Bit of a falling out, a few months back. Something he did years ago, that he should have told me sooner."

Louis is a bit lost here. It’s too vague. "He cheated on you or something?"

At that, Harry guffaws, startling Louis. Louis made him laugh. Didn’t mean to, though. "We’ve never had a relationship like that, no. Remember, he’s still a god, you know."

A god. It’s just… Harry talks about it like it’s nothing, like it’s completely normal. But to Louis it isn’t. But how can he keep denying it, after everything that’s happened? After everything he’s been told? And how the fuck did he link Harry to Apollo without even knowing him? It’s like someone has chucked a bucket of ice water over his head. "Shit," Louis breathes. Now Louis is the one bouncing his leg, massaging his temple. A god. Right.

Right.

"What are you thinking about?" Harry asks.

"I’m thinking I need a drink," Louis replies, his heart pounding through his chest. "A few, actually."

Louis stands up from his seat, and starts pacing. He’s not sure what’s happening. Maybe it’s the shock. This is normal right? Louis’ been having terrible mood swings these last couple of days, maybe that’s what. He’s also witnessed a few things that shouldn’t really be things. Harry stands up as well, walking over to Louis.

"Just breathe," he murmurs.

If this is all true after all, then what does that make him? Is there something wrong with him? Will minor gods come for him as well? He’s so confused. Just so bloody confused. It’s like he didn’t know what that word meant until now. His head’s spinning, and he’s having trouble relaxing his muscles. Trouble breathing.

What if this is all in his head after all? That would make more sense. It would. That’s logical thinking, alright. He does smoke a shit load of weed, so maybe Liam was right. Louis shouldn’t have done that. He regrets it so, so badly. Louis needs to sit down, right now.

"I’m losing my mind," Louis manages to say, sinking to the floor by the desk. Something warm is holding onto his shoulder, a voice repeating something over and over, but to Louis it’s all just muffled noise. Louis shuts his eyes closed. He doesn’t want to see it. Doesn’t want to know what it means to lose his mind. He didn’t think it would feel so extreme, like any minute now he’ll snap and lose control. He can feel it coming, breathing down his neck.

At that, he covers his neck with a trembling hand, leaning his head against his knees.

He doesn’t know how long he sits like that, but after a while the heaviness is lifted from him, slowly, but surely. There’s a low ringing in his ears that he didn’t quite notice before, too pre-occupied with trying to hold himself together.

"Louis?" a soft voice calls in front of him. He lifts his head from his knees, and looks up. Perrie is kneeling in front of him, and has somewhere along the line taken ahold of his hand. She hasn’t let go.

"Feeling better?" Harry asks. Louis scrunches his forehead. He hadn’t noticed Harry had sat down next to him. Louis is suddenly feeling extremely embarrassed. First fainting, now this.

"I’m so sorry," he chokes out, then clears his throat. "Fuck."

"Don’t say that," Harry murmurs.

Less than a minute ago, Louis thought he had lost his mind. Now, though, he doesn’t. He recalls the feeling, though, vividly. Like the world spun too fast, his mind taking a 180 for a split second, and then went back to normal. "What was that?"

Harry shifts a bit. "Panic attack."

Oh. Well, that sure came out of the blue.

Harry clears his throat. "I, uh, used to get them, a few years back as well. Then Perrie came along, and that… that helped."

Perrie lets go of his hand then, carefully laying it back in his lap. Like he’ll shatter if not treated with caution.

"Do you know what triggered it?" she asks.

Louis just shrugs, feeling a bit empty in the head. The ringing in his ears is starting to get a bit annoying. Perrie looks at Harry, then, raising a brow.

"I think we’ve convinced him," Harry says.

"So you weren’t convinced first time? When I healed your hand?" Perrie asks, confused.

"I don’t know. Kinda was, in a way, but…" Louis shrugs again. "It feels like the more I know, the more it’s draining me."

Perrie frowns at that, and he feels Harry shift closer to his left. The two… Demigods, are giving each other questioning looks. Like they know something. And Louis is sick and tired of being left out.

So he stands up, wiping his palms on his jeans. "I think I should get home."

"What?" Harry asks incredulously, like he doesn’t know how much this is starting to fuck with Louis’ head, and stands up as well. Perrie follows suit. "Can’t you stay for a bit? You’re still a bit shaken up, Lou."

Lou.

"See you around, Harry," Louis says, heading towards the door. Harry stops him, though, a hand on his shoulder.

"I really don’t think you should leave," Harry says, almost sounding desperate. Almost.

"And a few days ago you told me never to return, so," Louis shrugs.

Harry slumps his shoulders a bit, biting his lip again. In the end he settles for, "At least drink something before you leave. It’ll make you feel better."

Louis turns around, nods his head once, trying not to make eye contact. His eyes are burning a bit. Like he’s about to cry. He doesn’t cry. Least of all in front of Harry. He doesn’t know what’s gotten over him, to be honest. He just knows he needs to get away from here. Some space to think, maybe.

After following Harry over to the kitchen area on unsteady legs, and chugging a glass of water, he leaves, without saying another word.

Chapter Text

Being curious is considered a good trait. At least on a résumé. Key words; hardworking, punctual, outgoing, curious. Ready for a challenge. If you’re curious, you usually end up learning new things. Then you get even more curious about that thing, and in the end your mind is muddled with everything there is to know about a certain topic. It can be quite handy, really.

Sometimes, though, you choose the wrong things to be curious about. And you don’t realize it’s too late until you get to that point where your mind is all muddled up.

Louis’ curled up on the couch, swimming in one of the biggest hoodies he could find. He’s watching the news, he thinks. He feels a bit stupid for walking out like that yesterday, too stubborn to even say ‘good bye, Harry’, or ‘thanks for the water’. But Louis is… angry. Kind of. He doesn’t really know how to describe the feeling properly. It’s like he wants to punch something, but not someone. He wants to fucking scream, but he doesn’t want anyone to hear.

Frustrated. He’s so bloody frustrated.

It feels like he’s been lured into another dimension, of sorts. And there’s no way back, because now he knows. He knows there are gods, he knows what happens to demigods, about what can happen to Harry. And he knows Harry. The first time they met, he was intrigued. The second time, he was involved. And now, there is no way out. Sure, he could choose to never go back to the safe house, never see Harry again. But he can never forget about it. Or him.

What’s the deal with Harry anyway? Yes, he is a demigod, and no, he’s not safe in this world, and he probably never will be. But why did he move from home at 15? And why doesn’t he want to talk about it? Something must’ve happened, right?

He feels like he’s overreacting as well. And he doesn’t understand why he got a panic attack. Louis’ always been tough, nothing has ever really been able to touch him. Until now, apparently. Is it because he knows the truth now, maybe? About the world, and how it works? Or is it because he doesn’t know the truth about himself yet? He’s desperate to find out. Like, he needs to know right now. He hasn’t slept all night, just been tossing and turning until he finally gave up, cracked the window open, and smoked his last spliff. Reminds him he needs to buy more.

"Here we are," Liam sits down with Louis on the couch, for once. He’s made dinner. Some kind of pasta dish that looks delicious, honestly, but just not… appetizing.

Louis sits up straighter anyway, taking the plate Liam hands him with a quiet ‘thank you’. His voice is rough. Liam has been tip-toeing around Louis ever since he came home from work three hours ago. Hasn’t dared to ask, though.

"Niall’s coming over," Liam says after taking a bite.

Great.

Louis turns up the volume on the telly, trying to pay attention to what’s being said. It’s hard, what with his muddled mind.

 

 

 

 

Beep.

Louis’ biting his nails, nearly ripping his skin off. He pulls the sleeves of his hoodie down over his hands. He’s seen Black Swan, alright. He knows what happens if you don’t leave your fingers alone.

Beep.

They need to clean their shower. Is that mold? Is that possible?

Beep.

He sits down at the edge of the bathtub. Yes, Liam could afford a bathtub, but he couldn’t afford a fucking washing machine. Louis rubs his temple, reminding himself that he’s okay with walking a block to do his laundry.

Beep.

Louis should probably get a proper job. And start buying groceries as well.

Beep.

"Hello?"

Louis closes his eyes, mind blank.

"Hello? Who’s this?" his father asks, his voice oddly unfamiliar. It hasn’t even been that long since they last talked.

"Um," Louis answers, clearing his throat. "’s Louis. I’m, um, borrowing a friends phone."

A beat, then, "Louis! How are you, son?"

"Fine, I’m good, thanks," Louis says. He takes a breath. "How are you?"

"Good. I just finished a meeting, actually. Is something wrong? Do you need more money?"

"No, no," Louis interrupts. "I was just wondering if maybe… you’d like to, um, meet up? Maybe? Have dinner?" Louis bites his nail again, waiting. This feels so wrong, so, so terribly wrong. But he has to know.

"I’m actually in London now," his father says. And, oh. He’s here. In London. Louis didn’t know he even had business in London. "How about Friday? At seven?"

Friday. Louis had promised Liam and Niall that they’d go out on Friday. The dinner probably won’t take that long, though. Hopefully.

"Seven’s good," Louis replies. This shouldn’t feel so awkward. It’s like he’s meeting up with a stranger for the very first time, and is just waiting for the day to end so he can catch his breath.

"I’ll text the address to a nice place I know of, alright? Or do you want me to pick you up?"

"Yeah, text me. Um, to this phone, mine’s smashed," Louis says. He doesn’t think he can bear to sit through a car ride with him, considering what he’s about to do.

"See you then, son," his father says. And it’s like a punch to his face really, because what kind of a shit person is he? Why can’t he just accept that there is something about himself he doesn’t know of, and just be at peace with that. Lots of people are struggling with finding themselves, alright?

"Yeah," Louis replies, hanging up.

 

 

 

 

Niall’s staying over tonight, and it must be a new record, Louis’ sure of it. In one week, he’s crashed on their couch four times. Maybe something’s up? Louis should ask.

"Is something going on, Nialler?" Louis carefully asks. Niall and Liam are playing FIFA, and has been doing so for two hours straight. Louis has been wanting to go to bed, and just lay there, even if he can’t sleep. But he has this feeling he shouldn’t, and that something’s going on.

It’s not… It’s not about him, is it?

"Could ask you the same thing, Lou," Niall answers, pausing the game.

Fuck. It is about him.

He hasn’t prepared anything, hasn’t thought about it. He needs to come up with a lie, quick. His friends can’t know a thing about this, obviously. Not just because they’ll think he’s making shit up, but because it could be dangerous. At least as far as Louis’ gathered. People are being sent to the Underworld just for exciting, for fuck’s sake. There’s probably a reason why normal people don’t know.

"What do you mean?" Louis asks, hoping to get away with that.

He doesn’t, of course. Liam goes to turn on the lights. Louis liked it better when they were sitting in the dark. He’s trying to make his face look somewhat neutral, but his mind is running so fast.

"You’ve barely said a word, even moved since you came home yesterday," Liam says, sitting down next to Louis. He hasn’t sat in his armchair all day. "Did something happen?"

"No," Louis says. "I’m just a bit tired, is all."

Niall rolls his eyes so hard he has trouble getting them to focus again. "Tired," he deadpans.

"I can be tired, can’t I?" Louis asks, and here it goes.

"Yeah, but you were fucking shaking when you got home," Liam says. "Did someone rob you or…?"

"God, no, Liam. I wasn’t robbed. I was at work," Louis says. Lies.

Niall frowns. "You never work during the day."

Shit shit shit.

"Always a first, right?" Louis says, nonchalantly.

"Why are you lying?" Liam asks now. He sounds hurt. Louis hates himself. "I think we should, like, talk about what happened with the door, and you know, how you’re doing."

Jesus fucking Christ. It hasn’t even been one week since it all started. No wonder Louis is feeling like absolute shit.

"I’m meeting up with my dad on Friday," Louis says. It’s at least something. And he is really fucking anxious about that.

So he talks to them about it, leaving out the bit where he’s going to break his fucking heart. And they listen. And they don’t press any further, and for that, Louis is grateful.

 

 

 

 

Friday comes around, and Louis’ decided it was time for a shower. He hasn’t bothered to clean himself up the past few days. Hasn’t left the flat. He’s afraid that if he leaves the flat, he’ll somehow end up at the safe house. Louis feels a bit guilty about it, not leaving the flat, because that means he hasn’t been to work in almost a week. Rent’s due on Monday, and Louis’ not sure he can afford it.

He’s scrubbing himself thoroughly, trying to make the guilt go away. Guilt about money, about lying to his friends, about avoiding Harry, about what’s going to happen at dinner tonight. His father texted him the address to the restaurant earlier today, and Liam being Liam asked if he wanted him to walk with him. Louis said no.

His stomach is growling. He hasn’t been able to eat anything since yesterday, he’s too bloody nervous. Instead, he’s drunk about eight cups of tea, though he’s not sure that’s gonna help him with his nerves.

Louis steps out of the shower, wraps himself in his fluffiest towel, and sits down on the cold tiled floor.

And just sits.

 

 

 

 

The restaurant is packed with people. Of course it bloody is, it’s Friday evening. Louis’ following a waitress through the room, eyes darting around trying to spot his father.

"Here’s your table, Sir," the waitress politely says then, gesturing to the table in front of them, where his father has already sat down. He’s got his phone in hand, hurriedly finishing a text. It’s just Louis’ luck, really, that the table is the furthest away from the exit it can be, as well as surrounded by a dozen other occupied tables. If this ends in a bloodbath, at least there’s witnesses.

"Thanks," Louis replies, and with a nod, the waitress is off.

His father looks up from his phone. "There you are! Sit down, sit."

Louis sits.

"Just one moment," his father says, tapping away on his phone again. Louis plays with a string on his jumper. He feels underdressed. His father is wearing a suit.

Louis stakes out the place in the meantime, checking if there’s any other exits. Not that he’s gonna run away or anything. It’s his second nature now, after taking up working at bars. There are no other exits nearby.

Louis fills his glass with water, then. He feels awkward. Louis never feels awkward.

"Sorry about that," his father says, pocketing his phone. "Good to see you, Louis."

Louis clears his throat. "Yeah, yeah. Good to see you, too. Didn’t know you were working in London now."

"I’m only here for a week, meeting new clients, and all that. I won’t bore you with work, though. How are you? How’s uni?"

Louis nearly chokes on the water he’s been sipping on. Uni, right. English literature. This was supposed to be his final year. "Good."

Thankfully, this is when the waitress shows up again. Louis hasn’t even checked the menu yet. His father orders some sort of salad, so Louis goes for that, as well. He takes another sip of his water, boring his eyes into the table. Look at him.

Louis looks up. "I’ve never been here before. It’s nice."

"It is, yes. I go here a lot," his father says, leaning back in his chair. So he goes here a lot. Which means, he’s in London a lot. Hasn’t bothered to tell Louis that, though. Does he even want to be here right now?

"How’d you get here?" his father asks. God, this is so awkward.

"The tube. And walked," Louis answers.

After that, they talk about trivial things, such as the weather (of course), the news (Louis doesn’t know shit about what’s going on in the world at the moment), and the city. Louis says he likes it in London. His father agrees, says it’s the finest city in the whole of Britain.

When their food arrives, Louis let’s his father do most of the talking, always making sure his mouth is stuffed with lettuce. He knows he has to ask soon. He’s pretty sure they won’t be staying for dessert, judging by how often his father is checking his phone. It’s pissing Louis off, to be quite honest. Here they are, father and son, eating dinner together for the first time in two years, and said father is wasting that time by checking his mail. Louis had been planning on going about the topic more vaguely, but at this point he just doesn’t give a fuck. Well, he does. He doesn’t. He does-

"Um, so," Louis says after they’re done discussing the train-system in the country. "I wanted to ask you something."

"Alright," his father encourages, sprinkling his salad with more pepper, making Louis wrinkle his nose. Their tastes in spices isn’t something they have in common.

"Um," Louis clears his throat. "I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, or… I guess you can only take it the wrong way, um…"

His father sets down the pepper shaker, giving him his full attention. Right. "Go on."

Louis’ hands are clammy. He takes a sip of his water.

"Are you in some kind of trouble?" his father asks.

Louis takes a deep breath then. Here goes nothing. "Is the reason why you’re never around because… Because you’re not my real father?"

Yikes. Harsh. Louis wants to kick himself. And by the look on his fathers face, so does he.

"Why in the world would you think that?" his father asks. He doesn’t deny it though.

"Are you?" Louis presses. His voice shakes.

After a beat of stunned silence, his father leans forward, closer to Louis. Louis has a urge to lean away, but manages to stay still. "What have you been up to this past week?"

And… That was unexpected. What does he mean by that? Does he know? He can’t. That’s not possible. "What do you mean?"

"See, I heard," his father continues, dragging his chair even closer to the table. He’s always been a little intimidating, it’s hard to keep eye contact with him without feeling like you’re less than him. Right now, Louis has an urge to run away. "I heard you’ve been going to a safe house nearby."

Louis freezes, mouth suddenly very dry. His heartbeat is picking up. He swallows. "How do you know about that?"

"I know about a lot of things, Louis," his father says. "I know you’ve gotten some new friends as well. The son of Apollo? Feisty, that one."

Louis just blinks in response, unable to say anything. Unable to move. If his world hasn’t been turned upside down enough this week, it sure has been turned now. Or just disappeared altogether, and been replaced with a new one.

"Who are you?" he manages at last.

"Just one moment," his father says then, taking out his phone. Is this really the time? Christ.

"Answer me!" Louis shouts, realizing a moment too late that they’re in public. He quickly looks around. To his bafflement, no one turned. He frowns. In front of him, his father finally puts away his phone, wiping his mouth with a napkin. With a snap of his fingers, everything turns from warm to cold. Louis barely has time to react.

It’s quiet. Even the sound of traffic is gone. The room is completely emptied of guests, apart from himself and his… father. He can’t see anything outside the window, only darkness. It’s still the same room, though. The same restaurant. It just looks… Abandoned.

"I feel like this happens too often," his father says then, breaking the silence.

"What is this?" Louis stands up from his chair, but the minute he’s up, something drags him back down, scooting his chair so close to the table that the end is digging into his ribs. He looks behind himself, but no one is there, then turns back to his father, trying to morph his face into something brave rather than the dread that’s pulsing through his veins.

"I thought that this time, I’d let you keep doing what you’re doing. The safe house seems nice," his father says with a shrug, and starts picking at his salad again. His father. Is he really, though? Who is this man?

"Who are you?" Louis asks, scooting his chair back a little, fighting against rubbing his now bruised ribs.

"The face you make is priceless every time, you know? And this time you’re just gonna have to get used to it. Least for a while," his… whatever, chuckles.

He has powers. Teleporting? And telekinesis, or whatever it is that forced Louis down in his chair again. They’re stronger than Zayn’s and Perrie’s. He’s not a god, is he? He can’t be. Gods aren’t supposed to have contact with their kids. They’ve always had ways to contact each other, no matter how far away they were from one another. They even spent a Christmas together a few years back.

"You’ve figured it out so many times, about the gods," the older man says. "And to keep you safe, and close to me, I’ve had to take that knowledge away from you, time and time and again. You’re a clever boy. I’m quite proud, actually."

Louis doesn’t know what to say, he just blinks. He would’ve appreciated it if - for once - someone would start a conversation with him without being so bloody vague. What does Louis look like to them? A fucking oracle?

"It’ll all make more sense once I’ve explained," he smirks. He then points a thumb behind him, towards the blacked out windows. "You know what’s out there?"

Louis swallows. "No."

The man in front of him, Louis doesn’t know him anymore, leans in closer. It’s told like it’s a whispered secret, like if the name is spoken too loudly, the echo will never quite disappear, "The Underworld."

Louis pales. He’s suddenly feeling very, very cold. And scared. He knows where this is going, he knows who is sitting in front of him. He just doesn’t want to believe it. Doesn’t know if he should believe it. Maybe he’ll wake up soon, and everything will turn back to the way it was before.

"And you are?" Louis asks anyway, voice shaking. He needs to hear this. Louis can’t believe he walked in here thinking he was going to break this man’s heart. He’s not even sure he has a heart.

"Your father," the man answers promptly.

"What else?" Louis presses, struggling to keep eye contact.

"The Lord of the Underworld."

 

 

 

 

Louis throws up in a bin behind the restaurant twenty minutes later. His head hasn’t stopped spinning. He looks around himself, checking again like he’s done every two seconds since his father left if he’s back in London, and not in the Underworld. To Louis’ relief, a bus drives past.

He doesn’t know what to do. He’s supposed to meet up with Liam and Niall in an hour, but he doesn’t know how he can do that with his head screaming at him to run away, to hide.

According to his father - he doesn’t dare say his real name - he’s been "protected" for all these years, by taking away his memories. Since he’s the son of one of the Big Three, he’s also one of the most powerful demigods out there. According to his father, this isn’t the first time Louis has figured out who he truly is, and least of all who his is father is. But the thing is, Louis isn’t supposed to know, shouldn’t know for his own good. Something’s changed though, because he still has all his memories from this week fresh in his mind. And Louis just… He doesn’t know why. And he doesn’t know what to do.

So he runs, and he doesn’t stop to catch his breath even once. City lights are slowly, but surly, being blurred from his vision as his eyes well with unwanted tears. He blinks them away, keeps running. The traffic sounds like a circus, like caged animals screaming to be heard, to be seen. But he can’t look. He can only look ahead. Turn left, turn right. Four blocks. Somewhere along the way he bumps into a pedestrian, but he can’t bring himself to apologize. The thought doesn’t even cross his mind. Left, three blocks. Right. Cross the road. One block.

Twenty minutes later, he’s standing outside the safe house. Mrs. Hobbs buzzes him in, no yelling this time, just a sigh. Louis walks through the hallway, and knocks. He’s so bloody tired. He feels like he’s about to pass out. He leans against the wall next to the door, and waits. The letterbox opens, then the door, and out comes Harry.

"Louis?" he carefully asks. "Is everything alright?"

And is it that obvious? Maybe. He did throw up his entire dinner and run the whole way over here. He’s probably a mixture of pale and sweaty. He’s still cold from earlier, hasn’t quite managed to warm up again.

"I figured it out," Louis says quietly, shifting against the wall. "And I’m… I’m scared. I’m so scared, Harry."

He doesn’t see it, but he hears it when Harry takes a careful step forward, stopping right in front of Louis’ slumped over figure. Louis stares at his shoes. They’re soaked. He hadn’t noticed it was raining.

Harry doesn’t say anything. Instead, he wraps his arms around Louis’ shivering body, and gently pulls him close to his chest. He’s warm. Louis takes ahold of the taller boys’ t-shirt, holding on for dear life. And he doesn’t let go.

Chapter Text

According to ancient tales of the Greek, Zeus was the Lord of the sky, Poseidon the sea, and Hades was the Lord of the Underworld. They’re known as the Big Three, all sons of the leader of the Titans, Cronus. And being in the Big Three squad acquires a certain set of rules. 1) Don’t enter each others territory. 2) Don’t mess around with your brothers lovers 3) Don’t - under any circumstances - have children with a human.

What happens, then, if that last rule is broken? From what Louis’ gathered, and from what he was told yesterday, it’s far worse than being the son of any other god out there. To the gods, it’s unimaginable for one of the Big Three to have a kid after what happened after last time. And what happened last time, you ask?

The year was 1772, and Zeus had a daughter named Marcelline, born and raised in France by her human mother. Much like in Louis’ situation, Marcelline didn’t truly know who her father was, didn’t know she was a demigod. She had, however, met her father several times. She’d been told that his father was a sailor, so he couldn’t see his family very often. That said, Zeus provided for them, made sure they ate well, and were safe from harms way. When Marcelline turned seventeen, she developed this ability where she would look up to the dark, stormy clouds, and if she screamed loud enough, a lightning would strike. After a few months, she could do this without even blinking, and after a few years, she could paint the skies with thunderclouds.

People took notice, or rather; the minor gods took notice. And they were so angry, angry with the Olympians, angry with Zeus. They all knew the law clearly stated that gods are not to breed with the humans, especially when it comes to the Big Three. Children of the Big Three are powerful, even has the potential to become more powerful than a minor god.

So to prove a point, and to make sure the Big Three were listening, they found her. Took her from her home when she was only nineteen, and made sure she never stopped screaming. The storm went on for 24 days.

Louis never got to hear the end of that story, probably because he was yelling at his father to bring him back to London, that he didn’t want to hear how it ended. Probably in tragedy, judging by the fact that she was the last daughter of Zeus.

The safe house is empty. Louis was curled up on a couch in the corner of the common room as he watched twenty demigods rush out the door earlier, dressed up in cocktail dresses, shirts and ties, on their way to some pretentious autumn ball. Harry had told him they go out just like normal people, because they need to connect with the world, or whatever, instead of being holed up in here with only a game of Scrabble to entertain themselves with. Louis had answered by blinking.

Louis is still curled up on the same couch, staring at the steam coming from his tea cup. On the opposite end of the couch, Harry is leaning over the coffee table, gluing tiny pom poms to a yellow mug. Louis hasn’t said a word since yesterday, unsure what’ll happen if Harry hears the truth. Harry has friends stuck in the Underworld. And Louis’ father is the one in control of the Underworld.

So.

Will Harry hate him? Kick him out? Sacrifice him to the minor gods hoping they’ll leave the rest of the demigods alone? Louis doesn’t know. He likes to think that Harry wouldn’t do that.

A week. It’s Saturday morning, and it’s exactly one week ago since Louis stepped a foot in this place. And in one week, Louis’ learned a few things; gods are real, some monsters are too. Louis is not entirely human. And Hades is his father.

"You should drink your tea before it goes cold," Harry murmurs to his right.

Without so much as looking in Harry’s direction, Louis picks up his tea cup and takes a sip, then places it back on the table again. He doesn’t miss the quiet sigh Harry makes.

 

 

 

 

Louis: i didn’t come home on Friday because-

Delete.

Louis: i’m at a friend’s place-

Delete.

Louis: i’m the son of hades and right now i’m in a demigod safe house too scared to leave in case someone decides to murder me once i go outside-

Delete.

Louis: really sorry i didn’t come home Friday night. don’t worry. i’m fine. - louis.

Louis sends the text off to Liam, hoping he’s not too pissed off, and gives the phone back to Harry. He should really get himself a new phone, but he low-key expects Balder to buy him one, considering it’s his fault his iPhone’s smashed.

"I’m going out for a bit," Harry says, pocketing his phone. "Gemma’s out, but Perrie’s in her room if you need company. Are you gonna be okay?"

Louis nods, giving him a tight smile.

Harry lingers for a moment, before nodding courtly and walks out the door.

It’s Monday, noon. Louis has barely slept, and he’s starting to feel it. Scratch that, he started to feel it two days ago around the time the demigods got back from their party. His ears are ringing, his head is aching, but he doesn’t think it’s a good idea to fall asleep. Not with all these eyes glaring at him every few minutes. They were out this night as well, so they’re looking pretty worn out. One of them had had too much to drink, and had shouted at Louis for being a liability when he stumbled through the door this morning. He’s not wrong.

Though most of the demigods are still asleep, there are four of them sitting around a table as far away from Louis as they could get, eating breakfast. Harry offered him some toast earlier, and he’s been nibbling on it since. The demigods probably hates his guts for stealing their food.

Louis tries closing his eyes for a moment, while still keeping his ears sharp in case someone comes over. The back of his lids are vibrating with different shades of red. It’s too bright to sleep in this room.

"What’s he still doing here?" someone booms out, and Louis startles awake. He hadn’t realized he’d fallen asleep, but now that he sits up straighter he can see that more demigods has woken up. Sitting around, eating, playing cards. Except for Balder, son of Ares. He’s standing in the middle of the room, with an accusing finger pointed Louis’ way.

If Louis sits completely still, will he be less visible then? Works on bears, anyway.

"We made pancakes," a brunette girl carefully says to Balder.

Of course, he ignores her. "Are we supposed to be okay with having this stranger in our safe house? For all we know, he could be here to spy on us, to sell us out!"

Louis swallows. He doesn’t want to leave. He doesn’t want to ruin their safe house, either, though. "Um, I…"

"Shut the fuck up!" Balder yells, making Louis’ pulse speed up. "You may have fooled Harry, but you haven’t fooled me, alright. And I’ll be damned if we let you walk back out on the streets to blab on us to whoever you’re working for."

Balder walks towards where Louis’ sitting then, and oh. This is not good, this will not end well. Louis scrambles to get out of his seat, holding his hands up in front of him. "I’m not working for anyone. Okay?"

"I thought I told you to shut up," Balder bites back, closing in on Louis.

"Balder, come on," someone sighs. And? Is that all? Words aren’t exactly going to help Louis out of this situation, because he’s pretty sure he’s gonna get beaten to death in approximately two point five seconds.

Two point five seconds later, Balder pushes Louis up against the nearest wall, knocking the air out of his lungs. Louis grabs onto the meaty arm that’s pushed uncomfortably close to his throat, trying to ease the pressure.

"I’ll give you one last chance," Balder says, his morning breath forcing Louis to breathe through his mouth instead. "Who are you?"

"No- no one," Louis manages. That earns him a hard punch to his side, making him lose his grip on Balder’s other arm.

"What is going on?" someone exclaims somewhere behind Balder. Louis recognizes the voice as Perrie’s. Thank god. Or gods. Is that a thing? Is this a bad timing?

"Stay out of this, Pez," Balder says, not taking his eyes away from Louis’. "You know we can’t trust him."

"Isn’t anyone going to do something?" Perrie calls out desperately.

"I second that," Louis groans, once again grabbing onto Balder’s arm, clinging on for dear life. Literally.

This is when the door opens, and Louis hears him before he sees him. Strolling through the door, whistling to the theme song of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, comes Harry, a bag of groceries hanging from one arm, his eyes on his phone.

Louis grunts out something like hhshs, the pressure to his throat making him see stars. It does the trick though, because Harry’s head whips to his right, eyes landing on the commotion that is Louis is getting murdered in front of tons of witnesses and no one except Perrie (a true angel) gives a fuck.

"Get your hands off of him," Harry says, advancing towards Balder. The latter doesn’t budge though. Instead, he squeezes the back of his arm harder against Louis throat.

A split second later, Harry tackles Balder to the floor, instantly making Louis fall to his knees. The sound of forks being dropped and chairs being pushed back adds to the sound of the two demigods rolling around on the floor to Louis’ right. While everyone else is busy dragging Balder away from Harry, Louis’ scrambling to get into a sitting position, wheezing. His throat is on fire. He tries coughing, but it doesn’t make it any better. It feels like he’s trying to breathe through a straw.

"You’re not making my life any easier, Tomlinson," Perrie says, kneeling down in front of him and reaches a hand out, placing it gently to his neck. A moment later, the pain is gone.

Louis takes some deep breaths. It feels like he’s just ran a marathon. He should start trusting his instincts a bit more; falling asleep was not a good idea. "Thanks," he says, rubbing his neck.

"Can someone take Balder out for a walk?" Harry says somewhere to his right, making him look up. His hair is a bit messy, but it doesn’t look like they were throwing punches at each other. Louis’ glad.

"I’m not a dog," Balder mutters from somewhere else in the room. Louis can’t see everything from down where he’s sitting, so he stands up. Looks like everyone in the room is on edge, nervously glancing between the son of Ares, and the son of Apollo. Thug #2 comes up behind Balder, slapping his hand down on his shoulder and starts steering him towards the door.

"Thanks, Brent," Harry says. Balder gives Louis one last glare before he’s walked out the door. Louis looks away.

"Are you alright?" Harry asks, turning to Louis. The guilt is slowly fizzling up in the pit of Louis’ stomach. He just caused two demigods, two friends, to turn on each other. Obviously everyone living here is pretty close to each other, considering they’re here to survive together. And Louis feels like such a shit.

"I’m so sorry," Louis nearly whispers. "I should go."

"Lou…" Harry looks at him pleadingly, like he did the last time Louis ran off. Truth is though, that everyone in this room is better off without Louis. Even Harry, and he’ll realize that sooner rather than later. Louis doesn’t think he can bear to stay here any longer knowing who his father is, and what his father is doing to Harry’s friends. Though it may be wrong of Louis to think this way, it’s better to leave without saying anything, than keep betraying him by staying. Harry will probably know the truth eventually, so he’ll leave it at that.

"It’s for the best," Louis says, picking up his jacket from the couch he’s been crashing on.

The demigods have already started to scatter, either going back to their breakfast, or their rooms. Perrie gives Louis one last consoling pat on the back, before she also retreats back to her room. Harry doesn’t go anywhere though. Instead, he steps closer to Louis.

"What happened was nothing, alright?" Harry says. "He’ll get over it."

"It’s not just that, though, Harry," Louis says, zipping up his parka. "No one wants me here."

"I do," Harry says. Judging by how he flinched at his own words, Louis has a hard time believing him. "Look, whatever happened with your father on Friday, it messed you up pretty bad. And I don’t want you to go through that alone."

"I have Niall and Liam. I’ll be fine," Louis insists.

"But what can you tell them, though? ‘Cause I’m pretty sure you found out you are a demigod that night. Tell me I’m wrong."

Louis bites the inside of his cheek. "You’re not."

Just because Louis can’t help it, he carefully lifts a hand to straighten out Harry’s collar. He did tackle a human bear for him, the least he can do in return is fix him up again. At least that’s the excuse Louis’ going for. Harry stands so very still, chest moving up and down. They haven’t talked much these past two days, just simple things like ‘thank you’, and ‘can you pass me the glue’. Harry almost had to tie Louis to a chair to make him join his little DIY club yesterday. Louis made a mug littered with stars.

"I might see you around?" Louis says, dropping his hand from Harry’s shirt. "London isn’t that big of a place, right?"

Harry doesn’t answer. Instead, he lifts his own hand, but quickly drops it, like he changed his mind. Was he going in for the hug? Louis doesn’t ponder on it much longer, though. He just leaves.

 

 

 

 

Louis dreams about Apollo that night, flying over the rooftops with his chariot. But he isn’t painting the sky with sunlight. Instead, it turns darker, thunderclouds casting shadows over the streets of London. Faceless strangers stops and points up to the sky. And Louis stands alone in the middle of the road, unable to move, to do anything, before it’s too late. A lightning strikes, and the world erupts in chaos.

He jumps awake, ripping the covers away from his face. Before he can get himself to sit up, his eyes land on another set of eyes to his right, making him jump again.

"Jesus!" he exclaims, holding a hand to his chest. "Scared the shit out of me, Liam."

Liam just furrows his brows. "I’m worried."

Louis lets out an exasperated sigh, rolling over to his back.

"What’s going on? Did you have a nightmare?" Liam asks. Louis shouldn’t be annoyed, he’s just a friend looking after a friend. And it isn’t exactly Liam being worried that annoys him, it’s the fact that he can’t talk to him about it. He would if he could. But he just can’t. And it’s really fucking annoying.

"What are you doing in my bed?" Louis asks instead of answering.

Liam sits up, and after some shuffling he places a tray down on his lap. "I made breakfast. Pancakes and chocolate milk."

Louis sits up at that, and now he smells it. Liam’s pancakes are the best. "Thanks, Li. You didn’t have to, though."

"But I did," he says, handing Louis the tray. "I’ve already eaten, so I’ll just leave you to it. We’ll talk later, though."

Louis stuffs a piece of pancake in his mouth instead of answering, humming while chewing. Liam gives him a small smile, then closes the door behind him.

Louis isn’t sure what his plan is really. Forget about everything? Beg his father to take all memories of the past week away? It’s tempting, but he’s not sure his father would oblige. According to him, he let Louis keep his memories this time around because he found others like him. But that just doesn’t make any sense? What does make sense, however, is letting Louis keep his memories so it’s easier to hunt demigods down. It makes sense. Louis isn’t just making up worst-case scenarios in his head, right? If that’s the case, Louis’ glad he decided to leave. But that also means he can never return, in case he’s being followed.

Louis takes a gulp of his chocolate milk. He asked Harry what the deal with the luminescent milk was. Apparently, it wasn’t luminescent milk, that was just Louis being baked. He wasn’t completely wrong though. Last year, Harry had made around twenty cups with tiny, waterproof LED lights glued to the bottom. "Great for parties," he’d said, proudly pointing out that he came up with the idea himself.

Louis smiles at the memory.

 

 

 

 

For the next couple of days, Louis runs on autopilot. He goes to work one night, getting through the whole night without getting caught. He manages to pay back Liam on the rent. Louis also decides to cook, for once, proudly presenting a mushroom soup to his flatmate and Irish friend. Not even Niall manages to finish his bowl. He also cleans the kitchen, the bathroom, and does the dishes every single day. Anything to keep his mind off of things, really.

After a week, Liam comes home from work, handing Louis a letter. Louis sets down his tea cup, turning the letter over. ‘Louis’ is written in neat letters on the front.

He opens it, and pulls out the note inside. Something clinks to the floor, then, and Louis leans forward in his seat. There’s a small, silver key laying next to his feet.

"The fuck," he whispers.

"What?" Liam asks absentmindedly, sitting down in his armchair with the morning paper in his hands. He never has the time to read it before work.

Instead of answering, Louis reads the note.

 

Louis,

Come by any time.

If I’m not in, I’ll always be just around the corner.

H.

 

Louis scrunches his brows. Is this from Harry then? Did he just give him the key to the safe house? And how did he get this address?

Louis looks up. "Liam?"

"Hm?" Liam answers, lifting the newspaper up higher, covering his face.

"Did you, by any chance, give out my address to someone?" Louis asks, stuffing the note back in the envelope.

"I might have," he answers, high pitched.

"Liam."

"Your new friend Harry asked," Liam says, lowering the newspaper. "He seems nice. Are you dating?"

"You talked to Harry!?" Louis exclaims.

"Well, yeah. I have his number from when you texted me after that incident with your father," Liam says. He had a sit down with Liam and Niall. Told them that his father wasn’t who he though he was. Nothing more. "Harry’s actually coming over for dinner on Friday."

"You what!?" Louis shouts, rising from the couch. "You invited him over for dinner!?"

"Calm down, Louis. He seemed kind of worried about you, so I invited him. It’s not even a big deal, it’s just dinner," Liam says unfazed, focusing on the newspaper again. And? What the actual fuck? What, did his flatmate and the son of fucking Apollo bond over a row of text messages, and decided that a dinner sounded like a good idea?

"It’s not just dinner, Liam! You don’t even know him!" Louis stresses, hands flying around.

"He doesn’t seem so bad, I quite like him actually. I’m glad you’ve found someone," Liam smiles.

"We’re not dating!" Louis exclaims, picking up the key to the safe house and stomps over to his room. "And cancel the dinner!"

"No way," Liam says from behind him. Louis slams the door closed.

 

 

 

 

"Louis? Can you open the door, please? I’m not supposed to leave the pasta!" Liam calls from the kitchen. He’s been at it for two hours now. Or a day, if the brownies he made yesterday counts. Louis has been very clear on the fact that he doesn’t want to take any part of this little dinner party he’s throwing.

He glances to his left. "Niall?"

"No way, mate. Can’t pause the game," he answers, eyes not leaving the TV screen. Louis said he’ll join the dinner as long as Niall would come, as well. Niall has a way of making every awkward situation a little less suffocating.

It’s not like the dinner will be awkward, per se. It’s just that… Louis left. And he was supposed to leave the safe house, Harry, everything behind. But of bloody course Liam had to invite Harry to dinner, and of bloody course Harry said yes. The quicker this is over, the better.

With a deep, dramatic sigh, Louis gets off the couch and goes over to the door. He hits the buzzer, and waits in the hallway. His palms are sweaty. He wipes them on his jeans. Shit, he’s actually nervous.

There’s a knock. No, really, there’s one, single knock. Louis opens the door. "Are you too hipster to knock like a normal person now?"

In the doorway is Harry; skinny jeans, fedora, beige boots, loose shirt. And a potted orchid. "Hi. I… um, brought this. Didn’t have any wine, so."

Louis suppresses a smile, accepting the flower. "Does it have a name, by any chance?"

"The flower?" Harry asks, stepping inside.

"No, Harry, I was talking about that ridiculous hat of yours," Louis teases, poking the fedora. He kinda digs the hat, if he’s being honest. But of course he won’t say that out loud.

"Oi, don’t mock the hat," Harry playfully bites back, a dimple popping in his left cheek. "And if you’re talking about the plant, it’s just called Orchid."

"How inventive," Louis rolls his eyes.

"No, really," Harry says, shrugging off his coat. "In Greek mythology, Orchid - or Orchis, if you will - was the son of some nymph and a satyr. It was also actually widely believed that if you ate an orchid flower during pregnancy, you could control the sex of your child, depending on which part you ate."

Louis just blinks.

"There he is!" Liam exclaims from somewhere behind Louis, saving him from the conversation. "So nice to finally meet you in person!"

"Liam! The flatmate, right? Hello, I’m Harry Styles," he says, shaking the other boys hand. Louis clenches his fists at his sides, getting a weird feeling in his stomach. Why didn’t Louis get an introduction like that?

Louis turns and goes into the living room, setting down the plant on the dining table. They hardly use it. Before today, it was covered in folded clothes that Louis hasn’t had the motivation to put away.

"The fuck is that?" Niall asks from the couch, eyeing the orchid.

And Louis doesn’t know why he has a sudden urge to defend a plant, but, "This right here is a luxury plant, Neil. Alright? Quality."

"It was only five quid, if I’m being honest," a deep voice drawls from his right.

Niall gets out of his seat, offering Harry a hand. "You must be Louis’ mystery friend then. I’m Niall."

The pasta’s delicious, of course. Liam actually made it from scratch, borrowed a pasta machine from a neighbor, and everything. The conversation mostly consist of Niall listing everything that goes well with pasta, what Liam does for a living, and then;

"What do you do, Louis?" Harry asks, shoving some pasta in his mouth. He’s sitting opposite him, and his long legs have accidentally bumped into Louis’ five times already. Not that he’s keeping score, or anything.

"Um," Louis shuts his mouth.

"You haven’t told him?" Niall asks from his right, laughing. And? This isn’t funny? Louis doesn’t actually go around bragging about breaking the law. At first, he thought his ‘job’ would make him appear more interesting, sure. But at the end of the day all he really does is cheating his way through life. It’s not a very attractive trait, he’ll admit.

"Can’t be that bad," Harry encourages. "I know you’re not a serial killer, or anything, so."

Louis gives him a lopsided smile, shoving his food around on his plate. "I, ah, am actually- I don’t really have a job?"

"Of course you do, you twat," Niall slaps him on the arm. "Louis here has robbed around a hundred bars! In less than a year, can you believe it?"

"Great choice of words there, Nialler," Louis huffs, looking at Harry. And, christ, he’s gaping. His mouth is literally wide open, pieces of white pasta sauce colouring his tongue.

And fuck no. No. Louis carefully shoves that thought to the back of his head. "I freeload," he corrects.

"How does that work?" Harry asks, finally closing his mouth. God.

"Basically I pretend to work at different pubs, clubs, and bars around London. And I just keep the tips. It’s not totally unethical if you think about it," Louis defends, taking a sip of his wine.

"Isn’t that illegal?" Harry asks, tilting his head.

Louis just shrugs. "Probably. ’s long as I don’t get caught, there’s no trouble."

Harry smiles. He smiles. Louis was expecting to be scolded, but no. "You sure are a curious being, Louis Tomlinson."

Curious being? Who is even this man, honestly?

They finish their dinner, talking about more trivial things. Harry swerves any personal questions coming his way with practiced ease, like where he works, where he lives, questions about family, etc. He does go on and on about DIY, though. Niall shows a surprising amount of interest on the topic, making Louis and Liam share a confused look over the table.

After dinner is over, Harry politely offers to clean the dishes. Liam tells him there’s no way, and orders him to go sit on the couch with Louis and Niall.

"Um, Lou, can I speak to you for a moment?" Harry asks, hovering next to the couch, and adds: "In private?"

Niall lets out a long whistle. Louis smashes a cushion in his face. "Of course, yeah. My room’s right next to the bathroom, let me just…"

Louis clumsily climbs over the back of the couch, ignoring the snickers coming from Niall, and leads Harry to his room. And shit. Shit shit shit. He hasn’t cleaned his room since-? Since when? When did he last change his sheets? He was way too busy cleaning every other god damned room in this flat, he didn’t think to clean his own.

"Um," Louis squeaks out, with one hand on the doorknob.

"Yes…?" Harry asks, amused.

"Just give me one second," Louis says, stepping into his room and closing the door in Harry’s face.

"Alright, how bad is it?" he murmurs to himself, turing around and, oh. He hadn’t realized his socks had started to pile up like an ant farm at the foot of his bed, and for fuck’s sake his bloody lube is on full display on his bedside table. Before he can so much as throw a blanket over the worst mess, the doorknob turns.

Fuuuuuuuuuuuck.

Naturally, this is where Louis - in one swift motion - throws himself across the floor with one arm outreached. And bless everything that’s good (and bad) in the world, he gets ahold on his bottle of lube. But he’s panicking, where the fuck is he supposed to hide it.

It’s been two seconds, and Louis - being the quick thinker that he is - stuffs the lube under the bedspread.

"What are you doing on the floor?"

You know that feeling when you’ve climbed a shit load of stairs, and you’re so out of breath you could faint, but your friend Dave that goes to the gym five times a week hasn’t even broken a sweat, so you decide to hold it all in? Yeah, that’s Louis right now, for you.

"Um," Louis starts, rising to his feet. "I was…"

"It’s cozy," Harry says, looking around the little room. Cozy seems accurate. It’s tiny, the bed taking up half the space.

"Take a seat," Louis says, gesturing to the bed. And for fucking fuck fucks sake that’s when Louis sees it. The outline of his lube clear as the fucking day underneath the covers, smack dab in the middle of the bed. Again, quick-thinking-Tomlinson flops down on top of the little bottle before Harry has time to react.

"Wow," Harry startles back, watching with furrowed brows as Louis’ trying to get into a comfortable position atop his lube.

"Oh, sorry," Louis says, blowing his fringe out of his eyes. "I’m very particular about this spot. My spot, you know. Can’t have anyone ruin my spot."

"Right," Harry says, lowering himself to the end of the bed after Louis’ knocked his sock tower down.

"Not that you’d ruin my spot or anything, it’s just- you, know. Like I said, I’m very particular." Shut up, Louis. He wants to kick himself. Where did all this rambling come from? And is he being paranoid, or is the lube really squirting out liquid under his bum as we speak? Did he remember to put the cap back on last night? He shifts a bit.

"Are you alright, Lou?"

"Me? Yes, I’m super. Peachy, even," Louis says, plastering on his best smile. The lube is really fucking leaking. He quickly glances over to his bedside table, confirming his theory that; nope, he did not put the cap back on. Louis prays Harry can’t identify what a lube cap looks like.

"What did you wanna talk to me about?" Louis asks, trying to suppress the panic in his voice.

"I was just wondering why you left? And never came back?" Harry asks, voice serious. "Did something happen, or…?"

"Um," Louis squeaks, feeling the material under his bum getting wetter by the second, internally cursing the gods for this terrible fate. He can’t do this serious talk right now. Not with his bum accidentally covered in lube. "D’you think maybe we could, um, grab a coffee?"

"Coffee?" Harry asks. And it’s so obvious he’s trying to hide his bewilderment, and Louis is so embarrassed.

"Yes. I hear Starbucks is a great place for mythical discussions," Louis says, flinching at the thought of having to stand up afterwards.

"Oh," Harry says. "Um, yeah, sure. Coffee sounds great. But, um. Why can’t we do this here? Or at the safe house?"

"Because I really want to have coffee," Louis says, a desperate tilt to his voice.

"Are you sure you’re okay?"

"Louis? The brownies are ready!" Liam calls from the living room. And bless, bless, bless Liam, the one true hero of the day. Louis will never say anything bad about dinner parties ever again.

"You go on out, I need to use the, um, loo," Louis says, shooing Harry towards the door with his hands.

"Alright, um. Coffee, then. Tomorrow?" Harry asks, lingering by the door.

"Yeah, tomorrow’s good," Louis answers.

It isn’t until Harry has closed the door behind himself that Louis realizes his mistake. He’s gonna have to meet up with Harry again. Today was supposed to be a one off thing, just to please Liam, really. But coffee? That’s basically a… No. No, it’s not the D-word. It’s a planned event with an acquaintance featuring scones, and latte, and nothing else.

Louis is a bit concerned, though. Harry has a way of being extremely intriguing, and Louis has no idea how he’s supposed to stay away when Harry keeps popping up in his life. And even worse; Louis likes him. He’s easy to talk to, he’s warm, and sweet… In platonic ways, of course. So what if Harry feels the same? Feels that they are friends, that they can trust each other? That should be a good thing right? But in this case, it’s the complete opposite, because sooner or later, Harry’s going to find out who Louis’ father is, and Louis doesn’t want to think about what will happen after that. Doom, probably.

One hour and one brownie later, Harry leaves. Louis sinks down on the couch, throwing his feet up on the coffee table, and exhales.

"Lou, did you change your trousers?" Niall asks from the other end of the couch, eyeing his jeans critically. "I swear to god, the two of you only stayed in your room for about five minutes. What did he do to you?"

Louis throws another cushion at his head.

Chapter Text

"I’ll have one um, large coffee. With um, milk," Louis orders, handing the barista a bill. He offers a quick look behind his shoulder. There’s a fancy-looking clock hanging above the door. It’s 11:43am. He’s early. Maybe he should have ordered something for Harry as well? But he doesn’t know what Harry drinks. Maybe he should have waited until Harry got here before he ordered? But then what would he do with his hands? He needs to buy a new phone.

The coffee shop is pretty full, considering it’s a Saturday. There are a few free tables all the way in the back, by the windows. Louis doesn’t really want to sit that far away from the exit, but he’ll just have to suck it up. He wonders how Harry and his squad of demigods can go out every weekend, and get drunk. What if they run into a minor god? Maybe that’s why they all go together, so they can fight them off. But how do one fight off a god, though?

"One venti caffe misto?" the barista calls, pulling Louis out of his thoughts. He points to his own chest, unsure if it’s his coffee the barista is scooting towards him.

"I um, ordered with milk?"

"Yes," the barista patiently answers, scooting the cup a bit more.

"Oh," Louis thanks her, and grabs his cup. He finds an available table by the windows, and sits down.

Ever since Louis found out his father was Hades, he’s been… paranoid. Whenever he goes out to buy some milk, or takes a shift at a random bar he always feels like he should watch his back. Like if he’s not careful enough, someone will jump him. It’s not a very nice feeling. So naturally, sitting at a table by himself in a coffee shop makes Louis jittery. He can’t really relax his gaze, eyes darting around every few seconds, just to check. How is he supposed to know who’s a minor god, and who isn’t? What if someone followed him here? What if someone hacked Liam’s phone and saw Harry texting a time and a place?

"Hey."

Louis startles, almost knocking his coffee over in the process, and whips his head around, only to see a very concerned Harry looking down at him. "Jesus," Louis breathes, mopping up a few drops of spilled coffee with a napkin.

"I thought you saw me, sorry," Harry says, sitting down in the opposite chair, shrugging off his coat. "Have you been here long?"

"No, no. Just got in, um… You’re not gonna order?" Louis takes a sip of his own coffee, gesturing. "The benti maccaca coffee is good."

"Venti caffe misto," Harry corrects, grinning. "And no, I’ve been trying to cut back on the caffeine lately. I’m down to one cup every morning, and one after dinner."

"How do you get through the day?" Louis asks, baffled.

"I just do."

Alright, then. Louis sips on his coffee, peeking out the window. It’s just starting to drizzle, and Louis curses himself internally over the fact that he didn’t bring his coat. There’s a homeless man sitting across the street from the coffee shop, half his blanket getting soaked by the rain, while the other half is sheltered from the roof of the building. Louis feels like he’s walked passed him a few times before, and never given him any attention.

"Louis?" Harry asks, as if he’s been trying to gain his attention for a while.

"Yeah, sorry," Louis says, turning away from the window. There’s an annoying ringing in his ears. He tilts his head back and forth, hoping it’ll go away.

"I was asking if you’re doing okay?" Harry has a worried crease between his eyebrows. His hands are clasped in front of him, and somewhere along the way he’s leaned impossibly close to Louis over the table. If he got any closer, Louis would feel his breath hitting his face.

"Why wouldn’t I be?" Louis asks, wiping off a stain on his coffee cup.

Harry takes a beat to answer. "I don’t know, you just- you seem a bit distant? Kind of? Ever since you met up with your dad and all."

Louis shrugs. "It was a lot to process, I guess."

The drizzle is turning into heavy raindrops drumming on the window. Louis can barely see the homeless man through the glass, but if he leans in a bit and squints, he can see that the man is hiding his face in his knees. It looks cold out there, and Louis can’t imagine how cold the man is from having been sitting on the pavement all day. Probably all night as well.

"Your father is not your real father after all. Anyone would have a hard time processing that," Harry says. Then he puts his hand on the top of Louis’, almost making him flinch away at the sudden touch. "Just know you can talk to me, alright? Or Perrie, or Gemma. Anyone at the safe house really, we’ve all been there."

Louis’ staring at the hand covering his. Harry thinks Louis’ father isn’t his real father. He is though. But Louis can’t just say that, for two reasons: 1) He’s Hades 2) How unfair would it be if Louis’ had the ‘privilege’ of staying in touch with his godly father, after all the shit Harry’s been through with his own?

The thing about lying is that it’s somehow made out to be some sort of crime. A sin. One shall not lie, and all that. But fuck that, honestly. Lying should be celebrated. Right now, lying is the only way Louis is gonna make both himself and Harry, and the rest of the world, somewhat satisfied. So.

"He adopted me when he and mum were still together," Louis says, and he immediately wants to take it back, because ouch. Lying hurts. And you know how one lie easily can turn into another one? Well. "He couldn’t tell me who my real father is, though."

Louis’ chewing up the insides of his cheeks. He’s feeling incredibly selfish. He is incredibly selfish. He’s saving his own ass, for one. Also, it’s like he’s playing with Harry’s emotions over this, using a bit of Harry’s own insecurities to build a wall of lies around himself. Then again, if Louis was to tell him the truth it wouldn’t be as pretty. His father is basically the enemy here, and what does that make Louis? Sure, none of this ‘hunting down the demigods’ business is any of his fault, but surely Harry wouldn’t feel the same way. Especially when Hades is holding his friends hostage down in the jolly good ol’ Underworld.

Harry squeezes Louis’ hand. "I’m so sorry, Louis. I really am."

"Yeah," Louis swallows thickly.

"Did he say why? Why he couldn’t tell you about your father?" Harry asks, and his voice is literally dripping with sympathy. Louis doesn’t deserve it one bit.

"Um," Louis’ voice wavers, and he carefully extracts his hand from Harry’s. He picks up his coffee cup, instead. "Said it was for the best."

Harry frowns.

"What?" Louis asks, sipping on his now lukewarm coffee. Did he see through the lie? He can’t have. Though it’s not one of Louis’ most admirable skills, lying is something he’s good at. Always has been.

"It’s just odd," Harry says. "In order to be able to protect ourselves, we should know who our parent is. In case something bad happens."

"What do you mean?" Louis asks. Shit, shit, shit. He didn’t think this through. He doesn’t know enough about this world to lie about it. He should have been more careful. But what should he have said instead? Made up some obscure god to be the son of? That’s too risky.

"Well, our godly parent is still our parent. We’re still sort of their responsibility. And believe it or not, they do us some favors," Harry says. "And if you’re ever caught by a minor god, they’ll want to know who your parent is, of course. There’s like this ranking system."

Louis’ eyes widen.

"Yeah," Harry says in response to Louis’ expression. "Being the son of Apollo is worth more than being the daughter of Asclepius, so to speak. Which in turn, makes me a bigger target than Perrie. So it’s not like we walk around bragging about our parent."

Harry is chuckling. Louis is trembling. "And… Favors? Has your father ever…?"

"Sort of," Harry says, looking down at his hands.

"I thought you’ve never met him, though?" Louis asks. He feels bad for asking, digging around in Harry’s head. But it’s not really what he’s doing, though. He genuinely wants to know, because he cares. And judging by how Harry’s forehead is creasing at just the thought of his own father, it’s a tough subject. Louis wants to listen.

"No," Harry says it like it’s final, sitting up straighter and ending the topic just like that. Louis shouldn’t be curious, but he is. He wonders what Apollo ever did for, or to Harry, and why it’s so hard for Harry to talk about it.

Someone on the table across from them is getting up to leave, an elderly couple. They’re arguing about which bus to take. Louis looks out the window, tuning them out. The homeless man is looking towards the coffee shop now, so Louis quickly looks away so he won’t be caught staring.

"Did you get the key?" Harry asks, and Louis can barely hear it over the elderly couple.

He waits until the couple is starting to walk away before answering. "I did, yeah."

"Are you gonna use it?" Harry prompts.

It’s tempting, Louis thinks. He really wants to go back to the safe house, but at the same time he can’t. The other demigods doesn’t want him there, for one. Not to mention, Louis is like a walking disaster waiting to happen. He might be paranoid, and all, but he’s not stupid. Of course his father is having him followed if he knows about the safe house. On the other hand, though, if his father knew Louis was going to a safe house, he must know where it is as well? Louis’ head aches. It’s all just so messy and confusing, and Louis kind of just wants to sleep for three months. Give or take.

"Hey," Harry carefully reaches out for Louis’ hand again, but Louis is quick to pull away, again grabbing his cup instead.

"The key. Um… I might use it, yeah," Louis says. It’s not really an answer, but it’s not a complete lie either.

"Good," Harry says, satisfied. "Look, I gotta head back. But you know. Call me, or pop by any time, alright?"

"Call you," Louis huffs.

"I’m gonna talk to Balder about the phone thing," Harry gives him a lopsided smile, buttoning up his coat. "He’s got the money, don’t worry."

That’s at least one thing Louis doesn’t feel guilty about; Balder buying him a new phone. Louis stands up from his seat, Harry following suit. They stand across from each other for a moment too long.

"Um," Harry says, awkwardly stepping around the table to stand next to Louis. "See you around, then."

And he hugs him. Louis was kind of expecting it, but he still freezes up a bit. Last time they hugged it was more because Louis physically couldn’t hold himself together enough to remain standing. Now, though, Harry is hugging him, hoping they’ll stay in touch.

Louis shouldn’t hope for the same thing. But he does.

 

 

 

 

"Hey," Louis says, holding out a bag of scones and a coffee to the homeless man. He doesn’t know why he’s doing it, he’s never done it before. This time, though, it felt like he had to. When Harry left the coffee shop, Louis was lingering behind, having this awful feeling in his chest, like there was something he really needed to do. Then he saw the line of costumers, and almost walked away. But the feeling was tugging at him so fiercely, like that feeling you have just before you sneeze. Or like double checking your locks, checking if the stove is off.

The homeless man looks up, and his face looks… familiar. Where has Louis seen him before? Looks like he’s around forty, broad shoulders, sunken eyes. Sad eyes. His name is at the tip of Louis’ tongue, but he can’t quite remember.

"Um," Louis says. "D’you like scones?"

The man’s eyes light up immediately, accepting the food. Louis is about to turn and walk the other way when the man speaks, "You’re a very kind man. Bless you."

Wayne.

 

 

 

 

Wayne R. Simmons, born December 2nd 1972. Son of Michael Simmons and Angela Simmons. Father was a fireman, died of cancer in 1993. Mother is still alive, but absent. Wayne was into gambling, owed a lot of debt, and therefore was killed in 2007 by a criminal named Harvey Bryant Jr. Three months later, he came back from the dead, on one condition: He could never touch money ever again, or his hands would burn.

Louis’ grip on the metal bar at the tube is slippery. The tube is packed, and Louis is feeling slightly panicked. Scratch that, he feels like he’s about to faint. Memories that isn’t his own has been playing on loop for the past ten minutes, and he doesn’t know why. It could be daydreaming. It could. It could be Louis’ imagination going crazy. But it feels so real, and it hurts. It psychically hurts, a pain that’s shooting through his chest every time a new flash of memories pop into his head. He prays someone will get off soon, so he can have a seat. He’s not sure how long he can remain standing.

Wayne R. Simmons’ best friend is - or used to be - his wife. He tried visiting her after coming back. She wouldn’t stop screaming.

Louis rests his forehead again the metal bar. Stop.

Wayne R. Simmons has a daughter named Amelia. She was devastated when her father was killed. She doesn’t know he’s back. Can’t know, or else she might relapse.

Stop.

Wayne R. Simmons eats from dumpsters, leftovers from strangers. He drinks water from public restrooms that doesn’t require pay. He sleeps in bus sheds, unlocked cars, benches. He doesn’t own a single change of clothes.

"Stop!" Louis yells, slamming his forehead against the metal bar, making it pang out in pain. And fuck. The tube is awfully quiet for a Saturday. He carefully looks up, only to see strangers staring at him like he belongs in a mental institute. Maybe he does.

Louis gets off at the next stop, avoiding eye contact with strangers. He tugs the sleeves of his hoodie over his fingertips, pulling up his hood, and makes a bee-line for the exit of the underground. There are pedestrians hurrying down the stairs, and Louis strays as far away from them as he can manage.

It’s stopped raining, the sun breaking through the clouds, making the pavements glimmer. Louis crosses his arms, feeling a slight chill down his spine.

Wayne R. Simmons.

Louis looks behind himself. Anyone could be following him, there’s people everywhere. He should have just gotten on another tube. Louis makes eye contact with a middle-aged woman.

Carly Shepherd. Born August 11th 1963, in Bedford, Bedfordshire. Three kids. Divorced. Died of a heroin overdose on her kitchen counter. Came back on one condition: she could never see her children ever again.

Louis shuts his eyes closed, keeps walking. He bumps into someone.

"Sorry," Louis manages, not looking up.

"Watch where ya goin’ next time, you wanker," David spits back.

David Jeffery Peterson, born January 21st 1991 in Shawbury, Shropshire. Student, single. Was beaten to death by his lovers’ husband after he caught them in bed. Came back on one condition: He would never find love again.

Louis starts running then, not daring to look at anything but the road ahead.

Wayne R. Simmons.

His heart is hammering.

Carly Shepherd.

"Stop, stop, stop," he murmurs, feeling tears clogging up his vision. He allows them to drop.

David Jeffery Peterson.

He reaches the door, and shakily unlocks it. When the door clicks shut behind him, it’s finally quiet. The feeling is quite similar to the one you get when you cool yourself down from the heat, or when you get to put your feet up after a long day. He’s still fucking crying, though. And he’s still fucking terrified.

"Louis," he hears then, making him look up. And there’s Liam at the top of the stairs, in his slippers and joggers, with the key to their mailbox in hand. "Shit, you’re crying."

And bloody hell. Louis quickly dries his eyes with the sleeves of his hoodie, but Liam walks up to him, anyway, putting one hand on each of Louis’ shoulders.

"What happened?" He demands. And Louis doesn’t know if it’s the genuine concern in his voice that does it, or if it’s because his mind is fucking killing him, but an embarrassingly desperate sob escapes his throat. Not even a second later, he’s engulfed in Liam’s arms, soaking his t-shirt with salty tears.

Liam’s telling him it’s going to be okay, to let it out, stroking his hair and everything. Louis’ sobs won’t die down though. He doesn’t know what’s happening to him, why he all of a sudden knows so much stuff he shouldn’t know. Is this his gift, then? His powers? Marcelline got the sky. And Louis was left with death.

At that, another sob breaks from his chest, and it’s borderline turning into screaming. Suddenly, he’s being lowered into a seat. It’s soft. Louis vaguely registers that they’ve somehow walked up to the flat. Liam sits down beside Louis on the couch, and wraps his arms around Louis’ torso, pulling him to his chest.

"It’s gonna be okay, Lou," Liam says. Louis closes his eyes, willing his sobs to die down. He moves over to breathing harshly instead, letting silent tears drip from his nose.

"Can you come over?" Liam says from behind him. He’s talking on the phone. Probably Niall. "Yeah, ’s Louis. Something’s very wrong."

Louis’ tired. He relaxes in Liam’s hold, leaning back. There’s some spilt coffee on the table. He stares at the spot, his eyelids heavy. Liam’s still murmuring to the person on the phone, but Louis’ tuning him out. His cheeks sting from the tears, and he rubs at his eyes. Another stream of tears drop when he closes them.

 

 

 

 

He wakes up in his bed. The room is dark, the curtains drawn. The traffic is humming outside, and sounds of drunken shouting and heels clicking are echoing from the street below. Louis turns over in his bed, facing away from the window. There’s a glass of soda and some biscuits at his nightstand.

With a hand against his throbbing head, he sits up in bed, grabbing the drink. His throat is raw. He feels kind of nauseous, as well, so he leaves the biscuit. There’s murmuring outside the door, one probably Liam. The other one, he can’t make out. Maybe Niall came over. He’s probably staying the night. God, Louis wants to erase this day. Just… Throw it away. What is he supposed to say to them? He can see previously-dead people now? He should talk to his father. He probably knew about this, that fucking arse.

Louis gets under the covers again, shutting his eyes closed. Not even a minute later, there’s a careful knock on the door. Louis just exhales, tugging at his duvet. He doesn’t want to talk. The door creaks open.

"Louis?" Harry. Probably the last person Louis wants to talk to right now. The only person he can and can’t talk to, all the same. Louis doesn’t respond, just keeps his face hidden under the covers. If you can’t see them, they can’t see you.

He hears him, though, stepping into the room and the door closes with a small click. Moments later, the bed dips, and something warm and heavy lands on his ankle. A hand.

"Will you tell me what happened?" Harry asks quietly.

Louis doesn’t answer. He regulates his breathing instead, feeling like he’s breathing embarrassingly heavy. He doesn’t. But it’s so quiet. A car drives past on the streets below. The hand on his ankle feels comforting, anchoring. His lips are dry.

Harry sighs. "You can’t keep everything to yourself, Lou. I told you I’m here, whenever you need me, okay?" A beat. "Was it something I said at the coffee shop, or…?"

"No." Louis’ voice is raw. He clears his throat and tries again. "No, you didn’t do anything. It’s fine."

"It’s not though, is it?" Harry shifts a bit, but doesn’t take his hand away from Louis’ ankle. "Liam is worried sick."

The floors are creaking in the floor above, feet padding softly about. Louis doesn’t know who lives there.

"Louis, please look at me," Harry pleads, finally lifting his hand from Louis’ ankle to tug at the duvet. Louis feels like a child, curling up the minute the duvet leaves his body. He still doesn’t look at Harry, though. He’s afraid that if he does, he’s going to start crying again. There’s a lump in his throat, making it hard to swallow.

Harry shifts closer on the bed, leaning down. "Please."

At that, Louis sits up, backing up towards the headboard, gaze down. His hands are shaking. Harry makes a quiet sound, enveloping Louis’ hands in his own, stilling them. It’s completely quiet for a bit, it even seems the traffic has stopped.

"Sorry for, um, sitting on your spot. I hope it’s alright," Harry jokes, reminding Louis about the day before. It should’ve been enough to make Louis smile, but he doesn’t. Instead, he looks up.

Green, kind eyes. And Louis’ heart hammers against his chest.

Harry Edward Styles, born February 1st 1994, in Redditch, Worcestershire. Son of Anne Twist and Apollo, Lord of the Sun. Brother of Gemma Anne Styles. Demigod. Was taken to the Underworld at the age of 15 by Boreas, god of the cold north wind. Came back five months later. No conditions were made. No questions were asked. No answers were given until seven years later. Harry never met his father.

Louis’ entire body turns to ice at that moment. It’s like he’ll never get warm again. Louis blinks, trying to control his breathing. His hands were already shaking, so that’s not giving him away now. The room is dark, and he’s thankful. The blood is drained from his face. Why didn’t this happen until just now? Louis’ known Harry for three weeks now, and not once has he even…

Except that one time.

Somewhere in the middle of the crowd he makes eye contact with a greek god or… something. Apollo. Must be, by the way his entire being lights up. And green. Apollo has green eyes.

It already happened. In fact, it happened weeks ago. At least some of it. Harry’s already been captured by the minor gods once. Maybe that’s why Harry moved away from home at 15. That’s why he’s so secretive about his past. That’s why he was so skeptical about Louis when they first met. He doesn’t trust anyone. Shouldn’t trust anyone. He knows what it’s like down there. And he lived through it. All the more reason for Louis not telling Harry the truth. No, scratch that, all the more reason for Louis to stay out of Harry’s life. He’s quite literally been through hell, and Hades is Louis’ father, and-

"Get out," Louis says, not meaning to sound so poisonous.

"What?" Harry asks, his hands going a bit slack around Louis’. He doesn’t let go, though, so Louis rips his hands away, getting out of bed. He can’t have him here, not anymore. The guilt is ripping him to shreds, and he just wants it all to stop.

"I need you to leave, Harry," Louis says, not daring to look him in the eye. "Now."

"If there’s something I did, I’m sorry. But you have to tell me what, Louis," Harry pleads, getting up as well.

"You didn’t do anything, okay? Just," Louis drags a trembling hand through his hair. "I just need you to leave. Please."

Harry doesn’t say anything, but lingers. After a moment he goes over to the door, and right before he closes it behind himself he says: "I’m not gonna let this go, you know that, right?"

Louis swallows thickly, bouncing his leg, staring at a spot on the floor. The door clicks shut, and Louis is left alone in the darkness. He stands there until he hears the front door shut as well, before he exits his room.

Liam is sitting in his armchair, solving crosswords in the paper. He puts it down quickly, however, when he sees Louis urgently walking up to him.

"How are you feeling-"

Louis cuts him off, "I need to borrow your phone."

The other boy furrows his brows, but obliges nevertheless, digging his phone out of his pocket. "Why’d Harry leave? Who you gonna call? It’s late."

"My dad," Louis answers, taking the phone Liam hands him. Before Liam can say anything else, Louis turns and heads straight back to his room, closing the door behind himself. He dials his father’s number, holds it to his ear, and waits.

It beeps for what feels like forever. In the meantime, Louis lowers himself to the floor with his back against the door, resting his head in the palm of his hand. His hands are still trembling from earlier. The nausea is getting worse.

Finally, there’s rustling on the other end. "Hello?"

"What the fuck is happening to me?" Louis chokes out, trying to swallow around the lump in his throat. It hurts.

It’s quiet on the other end for a moment. "Are you…?"

"It’s just so fucking- I’m-," he tries to blink back the tears, but they’re stronger than him. "They died. They’re…I know who they all are, and they’re fucking everywhere. It just happened so quick- and Harry-"

"Slow down, son. Alright?" his father patiently answers on the other end. "Let’s meet up, okay? I’ll come by your place, and we’ll talk."

But Louis doesn’t want to talk. He wants his fucking life back to normal. He wants to go to the grocery store without the constant feeling of being watched, he wants to get fucking smashed and not have a single care in the world. Now, though, he’s not even sure he can handle stepping outside the door ever again, if that means he’ll get these sudden visions or whatever it is about people that’s supposed to be dead. On top of all that, his life is on the line as well. And he’s a fucking first prize, at that, what with being the son of Hades. He just wants it all to go away.

"Take my memories. Please. Please, just take them," Louis begs, rocking back and forth on the floor, fisting his hand in his hair.

"I’m not gonna take your memories, Louis," his father sighs. "Just hang in there, I’ll come by tomorrow."

"No," Louis answers, a sob threatening to break through.

"I’ll see you soon. Good night, son."

"No, don’t fucking hang up!" Louis yells, but the call is already broken off. He rest his head on his knees, feeling his body just going slack. There’s some padding of feet out in the living room, and a moment later, a soft knock on his door. Sniffling, Louis dries his eyes on his sleeve, and gets off the floor.

Louis opens the door, and hands Liam his phone back. He considers shutting the door and go back to bed, but Liam isn’t making any move to turn around.

"Look, Lou," Liam says, taking a step forward. "Maybe you should, I don’t know, call your mum or something? Go home for a while?"

Louis just shakes his head. He’s not bringing his problems back to Doncaster, back to his siblings and mother. He needs them to be safe away from him. And knowing his mother, she’d be ten times more persistent on making him talk than Liam is. It dawns on Louis that his mother might have known this whole time, as well. Or maybe she doesn’t? What if Hades took her memories away as well?

Liam sighs. "Can you tell me, then? What’s happening? Ever since that night with the supposed basement, you haven’t been yourself, mate."

Biting his lip, Louis looks away. Liam can’t know anything. And it breaks his heart that he’s keeping Liam in the dark like this, but like everything else; it’s for the best. Even if Louis did tell Liam the truth, it would only make everything worse. Liam would probably drag him to the hospital, convinced Louis’ lost his mind.

"I can’t tell you," is what Louis settles on. It’s the closest to the truth he can get.

"But why? Why can’t you tell me?" Liam asks, frustrated. "I get it if it’s hard to talk about, but you scared the shit out of me, Louis. You were- you were screaming."

Louis flinches. "I’m sorry, Li. Won’t happen again."

The other boy lingers for another moment. "If this gets worse, Lou, I…"

"It won’t. Promise," Louis says, giving him a tight smile. "My dad might come over tomorrow. I’ll talk to him. Don’t worry your little head." Louis ruffles Liam’s hair up a bit for good measure, pulling a tiny smile from him.

"Alright, that’s- that’s good," Liam says. He gives Louis one last pat on the shoulder, before he says good night and walks off. Louis closes the door, and goes over to his bed, crawling underneath the covers. It’s safer here in the dark, where no one can see him. Where he can’t see them.

Chapter Text

Louis’ pacing in front of the cupboards in the kitchen, his bowl already filled with coco pops. If he holds the bowl any tighter in his grip, it might break. He’s not really up for sweeping up broken glass at the moment, so he carefully sets the bowl with dry cereal on the counter. They’re out of milk. With a sigh, he leans back against the kitchen counter, staring at the ceiling. Liam won’t be back from the gym for another hour, and Louis’ stomach is growling.

Sure, Louis could eat something else, if they had anything else. Liam doesn’t eat breakfast at the flat, he usually stops by some convenience store to get one of those pre-made sandwiches, which again means Liam isn’t in charge of restocking the milk.

The thing is, Louis doesn’t want to go out to buy milk. Not after what happened yesterday. What if the cashier by the corner shop has been dead once? Then Louis will know the minute he walks through the door. What if Mr. Henderson that lives across the hall was murdered in the 90’s? Then Louis will know if he bumps into him. Plus, it’s Sunday. Sunday means less stores open and more people.

Cereal can’t be that bad mixed with water, can it? It’ll still add some moisture. Hesitantly, Louis turns on the water, waiting for it to turn cold. Or should it be lukewarm for this? No, because he uses cold milk. Right. He carefully fills the bowl of cereal with a less than necessary amount of water, and turns off the tap. Niall would probably applaud him for doing this.

Louis pouts. If this was milk, it would colour the liquid in a soft, brown colour. However, this is water, and slowly but surely it’s starting to look like a proper mud cake. Amazing. With a sigh, he takes his bowl out to the living room, and turns on the telly. Maybe if he puts on one of them cooking shows, he can pretend he’s eating a chocolate cake. Might increase his appetite, and all that. Cake boss is on.

Satisfied, Louis puts the remote back on the coffee table, and fills his spoon with cereal. Breathe through your nose, Tommo. You like coco pops. You like water. The two of them together will blow your mind.

It doesn’t blow his mind. It’s not disgusting, per se, but he wouldn’t say it’s delicious, either. It works, though.

The buzzer rings. Louis furrows his brows. He didn’t actually believe his father when he told him he’d come by today, least of all before noon. Shoving another spoonful of cereal into his mouth, he considers ignoring the buzzer. But then it buzzes again, and christ.

Sighing, for the hundredth time today, Louis gets off the couch. It’s probably better he and his dad talks now that Liam isn’t in, anyway.

It takes a couple of minutes after he presses the buzzer before someone knocks on the door. Once. Either knocking once is a Greek thing, or that is not his father outside his door. Only one way to find out, though.

"Good morning," Harry says, pushing past Louis in the doorway, two grocery bags in hand. "Was hard to find a shop nearby that’s open. Oh, is that Cake Boss?" And what? Did Harry decide to move in, after Louis specifically told him to leave him alone?

"What are you doing here, Harry?" Louis asks, following Harry into the living room. "And what is in those?"

Harry holds up his plastic bags. "These? Well, Lou, I figured as you might be feeling a bit down today, we could do something fun!"

"What?" Louis squints his eyes. To be quite honest, Harry coming over doesn’t really help his case. It just makes him feel even more guilty for spending time with him. And Harry can’t be here when his father comes over, that’ll just… ruin everything. Maybe Harry doesn’t personally know Hades, though, even if he did spend five months in the Underworld.

Harry doesn’t answer, just gives him a smug look. He plops himself down on the couch, and starts unpacking one of the bags. Of course Louis is just a tiny bit curious as to what Harry is up to, so he discreetly steps up to the couch to peek over Harry’s shoulder. The items he’s laid out on the coffee table are: a pack of flour, a party-sized pack of balloons, and a funnel.

"Would be polite to ask before you decided to throw a birthday party at my place, Harold," Louis says, cocking his hip.

Harry turns around in his seat, beaming at Louis. "We’re making stress balls!"

Louis blinks. "Stress balls?"

Harry nods excitedly, his curls bouncing off his shoulders. "D’you have a pair of scissors, by any chance?"

"Um," Louis blinks again. "I really appreciate the effort, Harry, but um… I feel fine. And I thought I made it clear yesterday that I- that I don’t feel like hanging out at the moment."

"And I thought I made myself clear when I told you I’m not gonna let this go," Harry shrugs. "So… Scissors?"

Louis lingers for a moment. He kind of wants to stomp his foot and march off to his room, but Harry looks so excited. Last time - when he forced Louis to paint a mug - he seemed so satisfied, like sharing his hobby with another person made it a little bit more enjoyable. Maybe he’ll let Harry stay for an hour, just to make him happy. With a huff, Louis turns around and goes to find some scissors in the kitchen.

When he returns, Harry is unpacking the second plastic bag. There’s a set of coloured sharpies, an orange ball of yarn, and… Milk.

"D’you like strawberry milk? I bought this packet of like these straws, and it’s sorcery, I’m tellin’ ya. When you suck on the straw after putting it into your, um, milk, y’know, it kinda like explodes in strawberry flavour. It’s great," Harry says, trying to bite open the pack of strawberry straws.

"Give me that," Louis says, taking the pack from Harry. Carefully, to avoid chopping the straws, he cuts open the pack with his scissors, and hands both items back to Harry.

"You’re good with your hands, yeah?" Harry asks while Louis’ trying to get comfortable beside Harry on the couch. He puffs a cushion up a bit, placing it behind his back so his feet won’t dangle off the edge.

And what?

"What?" Louis asks, whipping his head around. Louis saw this meme on twitter the other day of a man blinking incredulously, positive he has that same look on his face. Only more… Panicked.

"Wait, don’t answer that," Harry says, holding up a finger. "I know you are. At least, I know you’re not completely useless. And that’s a good start."

"To be quite honest with you, Harry, I think I know my motor skills better than you do," Louis shoots back.

"No, really. You’re not that bad," Harry goes on. Louis’ getting more offended by the second. "And can I tell you a secret?"

"What?" Louis squints his eyes.

"I think Balder is quite an admirer of your work," Harry beams.

If Louis had a drink to splutter, he’d splutter his drink. "I’m sorry, Harry, but I’m not sure I want to discuss my-"

"He doesn’t even know you were the one that made it! He’s just been using that mug every day for the past week," Harry says, opening the pack of flour.

Oh. The mugs.

Right.

"My mug?" Louis clarifies.

"Your mug," Harry smiles. "Though in my god honest opinion, you could’ve been less generous with the glue."

Louis bites back a smile. "I’ll keep that in mind."

God. What has gotten in to him lately? If it’s not embarrassing episodes featuring leaking lube and these awkward misunderstandings, it’s mental breakdowns. And if it’s not mental breakdowns, it’s fear and paranoia. It’s exhausting really. Maybe Harry’s right, maybe DIY will get his mind off things. But stress balls? Really? He’d rather make something useful, like a… cheese slicer, or something.

"What’s that?" Harry asks, gesturing to Louis’ bowl of coco pops.

Louis quickly grabs the bowl and stands up. "Um, breakfast. I’ll get some glasses for the strawberry milk, yeah?" he says, and hurries off to the kitchen. There’s three clean glasses left in the cupboard, and Louis grabs two.

When Louis gets back in the living room, Harry’s lining up all the items on the coffee table, having folded the plastic bags and laid them under the table.

"So, stress balls," Louis says, sitting down again.

"It’s very easy," Harry says, and starts explaining how to make one. Louis can tell Harry really loves his DIY, judging by how animately he’s being while going through each step. It would be a lie to say that Louis didn’t find it endearing.

"What are the sharpies for?" Louis asks when Harry’s done explaining.

"We have to personalize our stress balls, of course. Duh," Harry huffs, grabbing the scissor to cut open the balloon pack. "Mind filling up the glasses?"

"Yeah," Louis says. He kind of wants to roll his eyes at all this. Here they are, two adults, making colourful stress balls and drinking strawberry milk - like children. Like they have yet to discover the dark secrets that the world holds. He must admit, though, it feels nice.

"Pick a colour," Harry says, holding the pack of balloons out to Louis. "And make it a good one, ‘cause the flour is limited."

"Um," Louis peeks inside the pack, and takes out a blue balloon.

"Alright, so," Harry says, picking out a green balloon for himself. "What we need to do basically, is fill these with flour, I’ll show you."

Louis watches as Harry blows up his balloon a bit, and stuffs the end of the funnel into the end. "Like this," Harry goes on, and starts filling he funnel with flour, carefully shaking it to let the powder drop into the balloon.

"Looks simple enough," Louis comments, blowing up his own balloon. While he waits for Harry to finish filling his balloon with flour, he takes a sip of his strawberry milk. It’s not that bad. Bit synthetic in flavour, but what can he expect when it’s sorcery. Nothing natural about that. Might be in Harry’s world, though.

"See," Harry says, detaching the balloon from the funnel. "And then you just tie a knot at the end here, and then you can decorate it! I just brought sharpies, though. The glitter just falls off and then you’ll get stressed, which contradicts the purpose, really."

"Give me that," Louis says, taking the funnel out of Harry’s hands. What Louis does wrong, though, is that he isn’t as light to the touch as Harry was with the balloon. He clumsily manages to pop the balloon with the end of the funnel, which results in his thighs getting covered in white powder. "Shit."

"You shouldn’t have made the balloon so big," Harry comments, dusting off some flour from his own jeans. "Look what you’ve done to my clothes!"

"I don’t know, Styles, I think it suits you," Louis says, inconspicuously creeping his hand towards the pack of flour while eyeing Harry up and down. "D’you know what would look better, though?"

Harry furrows his brows, still oblivious to Louis’ fistful of flour. At Louis’ evil grin, the other boy’s eyes shoot open, head whipping towards Louis’ hand. "Don’t you dare."

"Let’s call this payback for that time you chained me to your couch, shall we?" Louis suggests, expertly trapping Harry in by slinging his left leg over the panicked boy’s lap. "Poof," Louis smiles, and sprinkles Harry in flour.

After that, it gets messy. Harry manages to grab both of Louis’ legs and plops down on top of them, while Louis’ desperately trying to reach the pack of flour. He’s too slow, and only seconds later his entire face is covered in white powder. Louis coughs, and grabs onto Harry’s wrists, trying to wrestle him off his body, off the bloody couch.

Thump. "Fuck," Harry curses, rolling over to his back on the floor. Now it’s Louis’ chance to shine, yet again. He grabs the entire pack of flour, then, and stuffs one handful of powder down the front of Harry’s shirt, making the latter giggle and shout in protest. "Get off!"

"But I’m enjoying myself, Harold," Louis says, grabbing yet another handful of flour and claps his hands together right over Harry’s face, creating a cloud of powder that rains down on the boy struggling underneath him.

"That’s my only pack of flour, you tit!" Harry gasps, grabbing onto Louis’ shoulders.

"You started it!" Louis argues, trying to keep his balance.

"How was I the one starting it?" Harry shoots back, rolling Louis over to the side, and grabs onto both his wrists with one hand, and wrestles the pack of flour out of his hands with the other one. "You’re doomed."

"No! No, no, no," Louis protests when Harry pins his hands above his head on the floor, closing in with the pack of flour.

"Any last words, Tomlinson?" Harry smirks, tilting the pack until it’s on the verge of dropping a pound of flour in Louis’ face.

Louis clenches his jaw. "You. Can. Eat. My. Entire-"

Poof.

Louis just about manages to close his eyes before his entire face is buried in a castle of flour. He feels Harry’s weight shift above him, like he’s about to pounce, and fuck no.

"You’ll pay for this!" Louis yells, grabbing onto the first limb he can get to, and with a thump, tackles Harry back onto the floor. In a haze, Louis wrestles his way over to Harry, who’s struggling like a fish to get up from the floor, but the coffee table is in the way. Triumphantly, Louis plops down on Harry’ stomach, and shakes his hair like a dog.

"How does that feel, huh?" Louis teases, smearing some flour on Harry’s cheek for good measure. He loses balance, however, when Harry body shifts under him, and he falls flat atop on Harry’s chest, his face a mere inch away from the other boy’s.

The laughter dies down.

Harry’s eyelashes - dusted with flour - flutters, trying to find focus. There’s a fog of tiny, white particles dancing between them, bouncing back and forth with each breath. And when they land, they create a path of constellations against the tanned skin around his deep, green eyes. It reminds Louis of the year the first snow came early. There were still some leaves left on the trees, holding onto their branches for dear life. He gulps.

"What the fuck happened in here?" a voice squeaks to their left, and shit.

"Liam," Louis starts, scrambling to get off of Harry, and hits the back of his head on the coffee table with a bang. "Fuck!" He curses, holding a hand to his head.

"Shit, Lou, you alright?" Harry asks, sitting up as well.

"Harry?" Liam asks.

"Hi, Liam," Harry says.

"Louis?" Liam asks.

"Fuck," Louis mutters, rubbing his bump.

"I’m… gonna- just- take a shower," Liam stutters, and a moment later, a door closes.

"Let’s get you off the floor," Harry says, grabbing Louis around the waist and helping him up. "And the couch- yeah, that’s it. D’you have ice?"

"Nah," Louis says, giving his bump one final rub. "Don’t think it’s that bad."

"You sure?" Harry asks. He hasn’t sat down next to Louis, is just awkwardly swaying back and forth in front of the couch, towering over Louis. Seconds ago, they were so close Louis could almost taste his breath. Louis’ not sure how he feels about that, not sure how he feels about the tingling in his chest that won’t go away. He wants the tingling to fuck off, to be quite honest, because he can’t afford to feel like this. Like he’s weightless, like something great will happen. Because that something is standing in front of him now, alive and breathing, after having gone through hell because of Louis’ own father.

"I’m sure," Louis says. "Um, I should probably- um, Liam doesn’t like it getting messy."

"Oh, I’ll help you clean this up," Harry says, grabbing the empty pack of flour off of the floor.

"Just leave it, I’ll do it," Louis says. "I mean- um, my dad’s coming by- my… my human dad," he stumbles, and clears his throat. "Yeah, any minute now, so…"

Harry stills. "Oh. I didn’t know, you should’ve told me. I could’ve come by some other time."

"No, it’s fine. I had fun," Louis smiles. Harry smiles back for a split second, before he scrunches his nose and looks away. He does that a lot, Louis’ noticed. Like he’s trying to control his face, like he’s trying to hide his smile. Louis reaches out for the green stress ball Harry made, handing it to him. "Here. We’ll try again some other time, yeah?"

Harry shakes his head. "Keep it. Keep the sharpies as well, so you can draw on it. We made stress balls for you, you know."

"Psst, I’m not stressed," Louis says, studying the ball, giving it a squeeze.

"Come by sometime, yeah? I’ve talked to the others at the safe house, they’ll cut you some slack," Harry says.

Everyone except Balder, Louis thinks. But apart from him, what is Louis’ excuse now, then? If they don’t have a problem with him coming, Louis’ out of reasons to stay away. Unless he tells the truth, of course. "I’ll think about it, yeah?"

Harry lingers for a moment. "Alright. Um, keep the straws, as well. And the milk. I’m taking the funnel, though."

Louis bites back a smile. "Thank you," he says, looking Harry straight in the eyes.

"For the… milk?"

For being here, Louis wants to say. "Yeah."

Harry nods his head courtly. "Yeah."

 

 

It’s 6pm and his father has yet to drop by, so Louis decided to fill in the bathtub. It’s taking an excruciating long time to fill up, though, which leaves Louis with too much time to think. He borrowed Liam’s phone to text his address this morning, even if he has a feeling Hades knows where he lives. That should be unsettling. It’s not though. Louis just wants answers, and he wants them now. One should probably be scared shitless of the fact that Hades can turn up at one’s flat at any moment, because let’s be real here… Hades is equivalent to satan. At least that’s how Louis’ always seen it. However, Louis’ also known Hades slash satan his whole life; Christmas dinners, birthday cards, awkward handshakes at family events. So, Louis, scared? Nah.

What does scare Louis, is how fast his world has turned in these three weeks. How everything he’s come to accept as a reality, suddenly isn’t a reality at all. Louis thought humans were alone in this world. He didn’t believe in anything supernatural. Gods were fiction. Superpowers were CGI. Myths were myths. Humans were simply humans.

Now, though, he has learned that not all myths are myths. He shouldn’t even consider trusting myths to be simply myths. Gods are real, and they come in human form. And Louis himself? He’s half god, half human, and his superpowers are definitely not CGI.

Louis’ been standing in front of the mirror in the bathroom for ten minutes now, staring at his reflection. He had this wild idea that maybe he could sense his own past, given his memories were taken away. And from the four people he’s gotten glimpses of memories from, they all shared one thing in common: they were all once dead, which means, they’ve all been to the Underworld. Two weeks ago, Hades teleported both himself, Louis, and the whole damn restaurant to the Underworld. So Louis has been there. Louis can’t remember ever dying before, though. He imagines that would be harder to forget.

A knock on the door startles Louis out of his thoughts.

"Lou? Your dad’s here," Liam calls.

And shit. Of bloody course satan decides to shows up at the worst possible time. Louis hasn’t thought out all his questions properly, hence the bath he’s filled. He’ll just have to dive into it, then. Pun intended.

"I’ll be out in a second," Louis calls back, turning off the water to the tub. He pulls his clothes back on, gives himself a little pep-stare in the mirror, and walks out the door.

What Louis sees in the living room makes his blood boil. There’s Hades, comfortably plopped down in Liam’s armchair. And there’s Liam, making chipper small talk while filling up a cuppa for him. If Liam only knew… He can’t know, of course. So he needs Liam out of the flat.

"Liam," Louis says, gaining his attention. "We’re out of milk again, would you mind running down to the corner shop and get some?"

Liam furrows his eyebrows. "But I thought you bought-"

"I drank it. And I can’t have a cuppa without milk, you know that," Louis says, eyes on his father now. "I think we’re out of pasta as well."

Liam takes a beat to answer, until the light bulb above his head starts gleaming. "Oh! I mean, yes. Yes, I need pasta. Right now," Liam stutters, making Louis roll his eyes. "I’m going out then. Now. I’ll be back in…" Liam looks at Louis questioning, and jesus fucking christ.

"Just-" Louis cuts himself off, and starts shooing Liam away instead. He loves him, he really does, but Liam can be such a pain in the ass sometimes.

"Bye!" Liam calls from the door, a tad too chipper again. Louis’ eyes doesn’t leave Hades’, though.

"Sit," his father orders, gesturing to the couch. As much as Louis hates being bossed around, he does what he says. Getting answers is more important right now.

"So," his father begins once Louis’ sat down. "I didn’t get everything you told me on the phone, but as far as I’ve understood something… strange happened?"

Louis huffs. "Strange just might be the understatement of the century."

"Tell me," Hades says, putting his teacup down on the armrest. If that drops, Louis’ not gonna be the one cleaning up the mess, that’s for sure.

"I saw dead people," Louis says.

"Dead people?" his father asks, raising a brow.

"No, not dead. Um… They were dead. But now they’re… not." Saying it out loud makes it sound ridiculous. But he knows what he saw, or heard or… sensed. He knows it was real.

His father takes a beat to answer, like he’s trying to come up with an answer. "Strange." And? What, his father doesn’t have an answer, or? Is this the first time this has happened to Louis? He was suspecting that it would have happened the other times he found out about himself, before his memories were erased. Clearly, he was wrong, because Hades looks just as confused as Louis is.

"Strange," Louis deadpans. "Is that it, then? You don’t know either?"

"Tell me about it. What you were doing when it happened, how it made you feel. All of it," his father says.

So Louis tells him everything that happened yesterday. Or stutters his way through it, is more fitting. He remembers every detail so vividly, and he wishes that he didn’t. And how did it make him feel? Well… "Cold. Like someone chucked a bucket of ice over me, or something. Might have been the shock, I don’t know. But, yeah."

"So you’re like Marcelline," Hades concludes. "You’re powerful. And with time, you’ll get even more powerful."

"But I don’t want to be powerful. Not like that," Louis shakes his head. "And I don’t want to be like Marcelline. We both know what happened to her, and…" Louis can’t finish. Marcelline was just like him. A demigod. Her father was powerful, and so was she. She didn’t choose to be a demigod. She didn’t choose to be her father’s daughter. But she was. And that cost her everything.

"Where is she now?" Louis carefully asks. "Marcelline."

His father is giving him this look. Worried, like he hates what is happening just as much as Louis does. Louis’ not buying it, though. "She faded away a long time ago."

"Faded away? So, she’s not even in the Underworld, or what?" Louis asks. Does Harry know this? That his friends might fade away?

"The longer a demigod stays in the Underworld, the more detached one gets. Think of it like you’re a burning candle. Firstly, you burn out. Then there’s smoke, and you’re barely there. And then it’s all black. With humans, they fade away almost instantly. With gods, they don’t fade at all."

Louis ponders on that for a bit. Harry doesn’t know this. Was Harry beginning to fade, while down there? And what about the humans Louis bumped into, the ones that came from the dead? "What about the humans?" Louis asks out loud. "You said they fade almost instantly, but some of the ones I… sensed, they were down there for years."

"They made a deal the moment they died, of course," his father shrugs. "Some get the deal straight away, some has to pay for their mistakes and suffer the consequences."

"But they didn’t even do anything wrong!" Louis raises his voice. "Hardly, I mean… Wayne was murdered because he couldn’t pay up. Why did he have to stay down there for so long? And Carly was an addict, but she was trying to fix it, alright. So just because she wasn’t strong enough, she had to go to hell?"

"Underworld," Hades corrects.

"And then there’s David, of course. He thought she loved him. He loved her. She cheated on her husband. And her husband killed him. How is that fair on him? Thanks to you, he can’t find love again," Louis says accusingly.

"Thanks to me, David is alive," his father says. "The world’s not fair, son. You of all people should know that."

"Yeah, that’s right, it’s not," Louis says. And he hates it. The world is scary place, and apparently it isn’t safe for anyone. Shouldn’t really come as a big surprise, but it does.

"You mentioned someone over the phone," his father begins. "Harry, was it?"

Louis looks away. Something about how his name curls on Hades’ tongue gives Louis a bad feeling. But his father did mention something about the son of Apollo before, at the restaurant. Like he knew him already. "Yeah."

"He’s your friend, I presume?"

Louis swallows. "Yeah… Yeah, we’re friends. And…" he shifts a bit, trying to find his words. "He’s been to the Underworld. Um, when he was fifteen. Taken by some minor god of the winds or summat."

"Ah, the son of Apollo. Yes, he was lucky, that one," his father smiles. "Didn’t even have to make a deal himself."

"Who did?" Louis furrows his brows. Should he have asked? It isn’t really any of his business, and Harry should be the one to tell him. He hasn’t told him, though, so maybe he doesn’t want Louis to know.

"Apollo," Hades says annoyed, taking a sip of his tea. And… Was that what Harry meant then? About Apollo ‘sort of’ doing him a favour? His father made a deal with Hades to get his son out of the Underworld. Louis’ curious as to what that deal was, but he doesn’t want to dig. Or maybe he should? It doesn’t make sense to Louis that Harry hates his fathers guts, when his father saved his life, apart from the whole distant-father-thing. Maybe Harry doesn’t know?

"Does Harry know?" Louis asks, then.

Hades shrugs, like he doesn’t know himself, taking another sip of his tea.

Louis ponders. He wants to ask about the deal. If it’s a possibility that Harry doesn’t know the truth, maybe Louis can get the truth out. But what can he do with the truth, honestly? It’s not like he can march down to the safe house to tell Harry that he talked to Hades - his lovingly father - and found out the truth about how Harry came back.

"It’s actually kind of a funny story," his father says, putting down his teacup. Louis wants to yell at him that he didn’t ask, but before he can, his father continues. "Apollo knew about you, you see. Saw us together that time we went fishing."

So Apollo had something on Hades. Louis was a bargaining chip, and Apollo must have threatened to tell everyone about him unless Harry got back from the Underworld. Louis can’t remember joining his father out for a fishing trip, though. At all. Hades must sense his confusion. "You were twelve."

And oh. Normally someone would be able to remember going fishing with their distant father when they were twelve. Unless someone took their memories, of course. "How many times?" Louis asks, knowing his father will know what he’s referring to.

"That was the first time I took your memories. Blame it on Apollo, he was the one ruining our camping trip," his father chuckles. Louis doesn’t find it funny one bit. "After that… You started figuring it out quite frequently, all things considered. You walked into a safe house back in Doncaster, as well, when you were fourteen. You had a period in your life where you read that series… Perry Johnson, and you had this theory that you could be like the boy in the books. Even if you were just being a silly boy, I still couldn’t take that risk. And you figured it out now."

Louis read the Percy Jackson series when he was fifteen. He shakes his head in disbelief. That’s three times his father has taken his memories. He thought there might have been more times, but still. Three times. But wait… He found another safe house?

"Why aren’t you taking my memories now?" Louis asks. "Why are you refusing to take them now, of all times?"

"I told you, you found others like yourself. You’re safer. Now more than ever," Hades says.

"What about Doncaster then? The safe house up there?" Louis raises his voice again. "Are you trying to fuck me over?" He knew it, he bloody knew it. He has to warn Harry, warn the demigods. His father knows about the safe house, he knows Louis’ been there. He knows where they are.

Louis stands up from his seat, feeling restless. Angry. Hurt. Betrayed.

"You were a kid back then," his father sighs. "Look at you now! All grown up and able to fend for yourself."

"Are you going after them, then?" Louis asks, pacing back and forth in front of the couch. "Are you sending all my friends to the Underworld? And me?"

"You’re my son, of course I won’t do that. And I’m the Lord of the Underworld, which makes you immune to that. Unless you go to Tartarus, of course, but there’s a waiting list for that," his father says, pulling his phone out of his pocket like he’s going to check the status on Tartarus, whatever the fuck that is. Like it’s normal. Trivial, boring work.

"You didn’t answer my question," Louis says.

"The minor gods are the ones in control of the whole… demigod hunt. I think it’s pointless, if I’m being honest," his father shrugs. "It’s a lot of paperwork, for one. And two, I’m the one who has to argue with their parents afterwards. It’s exhausting, really."

"Why are you talking about this like it’s not a big deal? This isn’t a fucking joke!" Louis exclaims. "They’re scared shitless of that place! Understandable, given it’s the bloody Underworld."

"Don’t insult my home, son," his father says sternly. Louis wants to punch him. "It may seem bad-"

"It is fucking bad!"

"-But," his father says, putting his phone away. "There’s nothing I can do about it. I just make the best of it. The son of Apollo got out okay, and all the other demigods do have a choice in that as well."

"What, make a deal, you mean?" Louis snarls. "In exchange for what, exactly? Touch money, and their hands will burn? Not being able to have a family?"

A beat. "There’s nothing I can do."

"But-"

His father holds up a hand, silencing him. "You’re safe. And so are your friends at the safe house, at least from me. And if the minor gods do find you, just know you can’t be held down there for too long. I’ll know about it if someone applies for Tartarus for you," he chuckles.

Applies. Is it possible to get a summer job down there as well, then? "How can I keep the others safe, then? They don’t have the privilege of having you as their father."

"Nothing I can do," his father says. "I’m sorry, Louis. But there are other ways to keep them safe. Go to the safe house. Be there."

Is Louis supposed to believe his father? According to what Louis’ been told, the minor gods are the only ones actually hunting for demigods. And Hades is… Hades. He probably has enough responsibility as it is. And the worst part is… he’s right. Louis can’t keep the demigods safe by caging himself up in his flat.

"I wish we had more time," Hades says, before Louis can come up with anything else to throw at him. "But I have to go. Duty’s calling," he grins.

"What about my powers?" Louis hurriedly asks. "What do I do with them?"

"Go outside," his father advices. "They’re part of you now, so you should learn how to control them. I wish I could help you out, but I don’t have the time for that, I’m afraid."

"How the fuck am I supposed to do that?" Louis’ getting agitated now. It’s like someone is dropping a piano on his head and tells him to learn how to play the violin. It’s not possible.

"Tell you what," Hades says, taking out a note book. He scribbles something on a note, and hands it to Louis. "Call this number. He’ll probably give you a few tricks."

Louis stares at the number. "Who-"

Swoosh.

He whips his head back up, and suddenly, he’s alone. Teleporting. It’s confirmed. Louis wants to laugh, it’s utterly ridiculous. But his head is buzzing, there’s too much going on inside his head. Louis can’t call this… person, whoever it is before Liam returns. So Louis decides now is a good time for that bath.

He shreds his clothes on the bathroom floor, and carefully takes a step into the tub. Lowering himself in, he makes a plan. Firstly, he’ll call that person about his powers. Then, he’ll go outside. After that… He should visit the safe house. He’s got the key safely hidden in a match box inside his nightstand drawer. Maybe he’ll even take a shift at a bar, when the time comes.

Until then, Louis lets the cold water consume him.

Chapter Text

He can’t believe this.

He cannot fucking believe this.

The living room is a mess, but that’s not why Louis has been clenching his fists for the past eighteen hours. To be fair, Louis doesn’t bother cleaning up. The person he’s meeting isn’t worth the effort, to be quite honest. Liam would’ve probably rolled out his cleaning wagon by now if he knew Louis was expecting a guest, but he’s at work.

Coffee stains, spilt tea, dirty laundry hanging from the bookshelves (how did his joggers end up there?), flour Louis missed when he vacuumed yesterday - all these things making the flat look like a cozy crack house. There’s an empty pizza box on the coffee table from the night before. After Louis’ father left, - or vanished into thin air, more like - and Louis had finished his bath, Liam came home with ‘comfort food’. He thinks the reason why Louis is so bummed out is because of his father. Though not entirely true, it isn’t a complete lie, either. He won’t tell Liam that, though.

What Louis is willing to do, however, is water his orchid, Orchid. Harry had told him it needed water every two days, or it would go limp. Eventually it would die. So by nature, Louis protects what needs protecting. Though he’d rather keep people he cares about safe, a gift from a person he struggles to admit he cares about, will do.

It’s annoying, because Louis knows Harry is attractive. He knows Harry has the warmest smile, the loveliest personality, the strongest heart. And he knows what he felt last night, laying on top of the other boy, just… breathing with him. They were so close, and Louis can’t stop thinking about it. It’s been two years since Louis’ last relationship - if you can even call it that. It was just purely fucking, to be quite honest, sided with an unhealthy living style. They ate, they fucked, and they slept in. They decided to end it, because none of them really felt anything for each other.

With Harry, it’s different. Seducing him hasn’t even crossed his mind, like it usually would. He kind of just wants to… be around him. That warm feeling he got in his chest yesterday, was… Unsettling. But so, so good.

But he can’t. Can’t think about that. They would never work for so many reasons. One, is of course Louis’ father and Harry’s past. Two, Harry deserves so much better. Louis lies. About everything. And third, and most importantly, they’re polar opposites. Hades the Lord of the Underworld versus Apollo, the Lord of the sun. Evil versus good. It’s like… Dark and light.

Louis fills a glass with water - of course he doesn’t own a bloody watering can - and walks back into the living room to water his plant. That’s when the buzzer rings.

"Hmm," Louis murmurs to himself, just to be a shit. "Wonder who is outside."

The water soaks the soil, and Louis watches. "What do you think, Orchid? Should we let him freeze?" He sighs, petting the petals gently. "I’ll put on the kettle."

Louis strolls into the kitchen, then, humming under his breath. He’s enjoying this. He’ll probably pay for it later, but as of now, it’s enjoyable.

The buzzer rings again. "Just have a little patieeeence," Louis sings. Take That is his favorite boy band, hands down.

He puts on the kettle. The buzzer rings repeatedly, disturbing his singing. "Fucks sake."

Buzz. Buzz. Buzz.

Buuuuzzzzz.

Throwing his hands up, Louis stomps out to the hallway, buzzing him up. Can’t he just… teleport? Or is it an exclusive Hades thing? A minute later, someone knocks harshly on the door.

"This building is old, don’t break my bloody door," Louis snarls once he’s opened the door. A cold breeze hits his face. Is he imagining things, or did his nasal hairs just freeze?

"What is so urgent you couldn’t tell me over the fucking phone? Did Harry give you my number?" Zayn asks, pushing past Louis.

"Oh, make yourself at home, why don’t you?" Louis spits, slamming the door shut. Zayn plops down in Liam’s armchair. What’s with these sodding gods and that chair? "Nope, couch," Louis commands, snapping his fingers.

Zephyrus just rolls his eyes, moving over to the couch.

"I’ll go grab my tea," Louis mutters, stomping off to the kitchen.

"Sugar, no milk, please," Zayn calls after him. Louis fills both mugs with milk. No sugar.

Accepting the mug, Zayn asks, "What took you so bloody long? I have a schedule, you know."

Louis sits down on the far end of the couch. "I had to water my plant."

He gets an annoyed huff in response.

"Why couldn’t you just… I don’t know, teleport?" Louis asks, sipping his tea.

Zayn furrows his brow. "What makes you think I can teleport?"

Right.

Louis knows that if he’s going to get help with his powers, Zayn needs to know the truth. Thing is, it’s a pretty big fucking secret to share with someone you don’t trust at all. A minor god, no less. But, according to his father - and Harry, - Zayn can be trusted. Why else would Hades tell Louis he should reach out to him?

"I need to know if I can trust you," Louis says, looking the minor god in his eyes.

"Trust me?" Zayn huffs. "This better be good."

"Can I?" Louis presses.

"What’s this about, Louis? Why couldn’t you just… Talk to Harry? If you haven’t noticed, I don’t particularly like you."

"Feeling’s mutual," Louis sips his tea, thinking. Should he just blurt it out? Be vague and annoying? Make him prove he’s trustworthy? He’s here to help him control his powers, but what if he refuses? Wouldn’t surprise Louis if he did.

"Louis," Zayn calls, snapping Louis out of his thoughts. "What’s going on?"

"Alright," Louis says, shifting a bit. "So, um, this has to stay between us, yeah? No one knows about this except me… and, um, my father. Not Harry, not Gemma, not Perrie, not my even my friends. Alright?"

Zayn perks up a bit, interested. "Your father?"

"Yeah, um, I’ll get to that." He’s not sure opening the conversation with ‘Hades is my father’ would be a good start. He’s the first child of the Big Three in almost three hundred years, of course it’ll come as a shock to anyone. "Thing is," Louis continues. "My father is a god. And I’ve, um… Much like Perrie - inherited certain… gifts from my father."

Zayn frowns. "Congratulations? I don’t know what-"

"I need you to teach me how to control it," Louis interrupts, bouncing his leg. There’s no going back now. In a minute, Zayn will know the truth.

"Um," Zayn hesitates.

"Can you?" Louis presses.

"Well," Zayn says, sitting up a bit straighter. "I can. I mean, I taught Perrie. The question is whether I want to teach you."

Louis rolls his eyes. "So just because I don’t have long, blonde locks, you won’t help me?"

"Don’t speak of her that way," Zayn snarls. And wow, Louis really didn’t mean to offend anyone. "I just don’t like you, is all."

Louis waggles is eyebrows. "So you like Perrie, then?"

Zayn sighs, staring mournfully down at his mug. "Loved."

Louis did not need to know that. And also? What? "Loved? You had a relationship with her?"

"What’s so wrong with that?" Zayn spits.

"Um, she’s a demigod? You’re a god? Isn’t that, like, illegal in your world?" Louis asks, cringing a bit at his hypocrisy, what with being the result of a ‘terrible crime’ himself.

"It’s not illegal to fall in love," Zayn replies, sipping his tea. "We just… We could never work. She’d grow old, and I’d just… keep on living. Forever."

"Oh," Louis realizes then. That kind of sucks. "And you could never have kids."

A sharp intake of breath, then, "No. Or, we could. But I wouldn’t want to bring another demigod into this world. It would be selfish."

Louis purses his lips. He doesn’t want to feel sorry for him, but he does. Imagine being immortal, being able to live forever. Does that also mean Zephyrus will be alone forever? "Have you, um, tried having a relationship with, um, someone like you?"

Zayn rolls his eyes. "Someone like me," he muses with a humorless laugh. "By someone like me, you mean a god, then yes. You should read a book, mate. You’ll know my whole life story. But yes, I have. Several, actually."

Louis squints his eyes a bit. This is getting interesting. He knows the real reason why Zayn is here, but he can kill two birds with one stone, can’t he? "But… Um," Louis coughs awkwardly.

"Yes…?" The annoyance in his voice is apparent, but Louis didn’t expect any less.

"I, um, thought that um, all gods were like… kind of related?" Louis cringes at his own words. Is this taboo to talk about? Should he just shut up?

"Kind of, yes," Zayn confirms, making Louis scrunch his nose in slight disgust.

"That’s odd," he comments.

"It’s really not, though," Zayn says. "Why are we even talking about this, I thought I was here to-"

"I’m curious. Please continue." He wants to understand this whole world. And he’ll be sure to check out Zayn's wikipedia page afterwards. Is all the stories of him true? Was Zayn the one in charge of editing his own wiki-page? So many questions.

"Alright, I’ll answer this one, but then it’s your turn to talk, alright?"

Louis nods eagerly, leaning forward.

The god sighs, like he’s explained this a million times before. "Alright, so… The main thing that separates the gods from the humans, is that we - the gods - are a completely different species. We are the cats, you are the dogs, so to speak. But a thing that both the humans and the gods have in common, is that almost all of us share the same ancestors. You following?"

Louis nods. "Yeah, yours are the Titans, right?"

Zayn nods. "They ruled the world before we took over. Or rather, when the Big Three - Zeus, Poseidon and Hades - took over." Louis tries not to flinch at the mention of his fathers name. He does. "And they bred with different gods, sons and daughters of other Titans. And to humans, it may sound like the grossest thing ever, but to us, it’s completely normal. We’re not family, we’re a species. We’re gods. Which makes each of us is our own little… mini species, you can call it. Poseidon is a mini species of the sea, Apollo belongs to the sun, and I belong with the west wind. That’s what we are. We’re not humans, nor animals, not even living creatures."

Louis not sure he understands. At all. His face probably shows it, as well.

"Do you know how Athena was created?" Zayn asks.

"Don’t you mean born?" Louis asks.

"We don’t use that term about gods. Anyway, she’s known as the daughter of Metis and Zeus, and is the goddess of wisdom, mainly."

"Alright, um. Daughter, you say. Metis and Zeus are her parents, then. Sounds odd to me, but go on," Louis says.

"Again, that’s just a term. We could call them creators, if that sounds any better," Zayn chuckles.

"That does sound better," Louis comments. "So what’s the story?"

"Rumor has it she sprung out of Zeus’ skull in full battle armor," he grins.

Louis chokes on his tea, spluttering liquid all over his jumper.

"C’mon, mate, that’s like one of the most popular stories in Greek mythology. Read a bloody book," Zayn huffs. "As far as I know, it’s a true story. Point is, the Greek gods, the family tree, the brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers… It’s all just terms. Though Zeus created Athena, doesn’t mean she shares his blood. Though Apollo may have created Asclepius, doesn’t mean he is his father. At the end of the day, gods are the loneliest species in the universe. The humans started calling us a family with a lack of better knowledge, really," Zayn finishes.

Louis’ gonna have to mull this over. It really doesn’t make that much sense to him. If Chronos created Zeus, Poseidon and Hades with the help of a female titan, doesn’t that make them a family? Doesn’t that make the Big Three brothers?

Also.

Apollo is Asclepius’ father? Does that mean…? "Is Perrie and Harry related, then? Is Harry Perrie’s Uncle or summat? Is Asclepius Harry’s brother?"

"Fucks sake, Louis, did you not hear a word of what I just said?" Zayn exclaims. "No!"

"Sorry," Louis mumbles, sipping his tea.

"Do you really think Harry would be pining after you if you two were relatives?" Zayn rolls his eyes.

And what?

"What?" Louis asks out loud. Harry’s… Pining after him? Harry likes him? Like likes?

"Shit," Zayn curses. "Shit, I was not supposed to say that. Just… Just forget it, yeah?"

"What? Why? Did you talk to Harry, or…?" Louis asks.

"No, I was grabbing a coffee with Aphrodite and… She likes to gossip and stuff, and knows me and Harry are mates and- I shouldn’t tell you any of this, it’s bloody confidential," Zayn stresses, massaging his forehead. "Can you just… Tell me about your powers, now? And don’t tell Aphrodite, or she’ll might curse me or summat."

"Um." Louis’ cheeks are burning. His stomach is chanting HarryLikesLouisHarryLikesLouis, while his head is yelling at him to ignore it. Harry shouldn’t like Louis. Louis shouldn’t like Harry. Not with the mile-long list of reasons that’ll tear them apart once the truth comes out. He has a feeling a heart will break either way, but if he decides to ignore this crush or whatever it is, the pain won’t be as bad.

"What?" Zayn squints his eyes at Louis. Then he opens them wide, like he’s just figured something out, and fuck. "You fancy him as well, don’t ya!"

"I don’t," Louis says.

"You do," Zayn smiles, dragging out the ‘o’.

"I’m the son of Hades," Louis blurts.

The silence is crushing. The god sitting on his couch is actually paling. Louis didn’t know gods could get sick, but apparently he was wrong. Shit, he shouldn’t have said anything. Zephyrus is probably going send him to the Underworld now, isn’t he? He’s going to tell everyone, going to tell Harry-

"You’re lying," Zayn says, so quietly Louis has trouble catching it.

He shifts a bit, suddenly feeling extremely uncomfortable. Unsafe. "‘m not," he mumbles, not meeting the god’s eyes. "I’m… yeah."

Zayn stands up then, making Louis jump, and starts pacing. Shit, is he freaking out? Doubting his allegiance to the demigods?

When Zayn doesn’t speak, Louis clears his throat. "Um, Zayn?" His voice is shaking. Shit, is him being the son of Hades really this big of a deal?

"Who else knows?" Zayn asks, whipping around facing Louis. "Who else?!"

"N-no one," Louis stutters, heart hammering in his chest. "Just me and my dad."

Zayn scoffs. "Dad."

"What?" Louis asks, furrowing his brows. "He is."

"Yeah, I got that, Louis. But he is still fucking Hades. Do you know how dangerous it is that you’re alive? That I’m here, in your flat, right now? I could get in so much trouble for knowing about this!"

"It’s not my fault that Hades is my father!" Louis defends, raising his voice. "And he told me to call you! He said you would help."

A beat, then: "Why haven’t they caught you yet?"

"Why as in you want them to catch me, or why as in how is it possible?" Louis squints his eyes. He’ll give Zayn credit, though. Hasn’t jumped him yet.

"It should’t be possible," Zayn says then. "How old are you anyway? 23, 24? You’re an adult, and you’ve just now discovered you’re a half-blood."

Louis shrugs. "He took my memories, he said. Several times."

Zayn’s fish mouthing, and Louis is very confused. How is that shocking?

"What?" Louis asks out loud.

"Louis," Zayn begins, sitting back down on the couch. "Taking someone’s memories is strictly illegal. It was used a lot a few thousand years ago, but someone abused it’s purpose, and after that it’s been banned. I have no idea how he did that, unless…"

"Unless what?"

"Shit," Zayn breathes, staring wide-eyed at the demigod.

"Tell me, Zayn!" This is doing his bloody head in. "What did he do?"

"You know of the titans, right?" Zayn starts, and christ.

"Yes, Zayn, we literally just talked about them!" Louis exclaims.

"There was this one titan," Zayn goes on. "Mnemosyne. Goddess of memory."

What, did Hades bring Louis to this ancient titan and had her take away all his memories then? That doesn’t make sense. "I thought the titans were… gone? Or locked away or summat?"

"They are. But…" The god shifts a bit, clearly uncomfortable. "There’s a river… Um, sharing the same name, Mnemosyne. With your knowledge you probably only know of the river Styx-"

"Oi, I know of lots of rivers. The Nile?" Louis gets defensive and snappy when he’s nervous. He’s really fucking nervous right now. The river Styx is like… In the Underworld. 

"Parallel to the river Mnemosyne, lies a river called Lethe… And, shit, Louis. I’m so sorry."

"What?" Louis asks. "Hades took me to the Underworld every time he wanted me to forget something? Is that it?"

"Is that it?" Zayn echoes. "He took you, a son of the Big Three, to the underworld, and for all I know held you underwater long enough to erase some of your memories, to keep you a secret! That river… It’s meant for souls, Louis. It’s so that they can be at peace. Forget their previous lives, and fade away."

"Oh," Louis blinks. He’s torn between thinking that what his father did was horrible, cruel, evil, and… That he went through all that trouble to keep Louis safe. But that isn’t really the big issue, though. What he did was illegal, which yet again adds to Louis’ big pile of secrets that can’t ever come out.

"I usually wouldn’t feel sorry for you, but that’s like… Really fucked up, bro," Zayn says, shaking his head.

"But… I feel fine," Louis frowns.

"Of course you bloody do, when you can’t remember it."

And oh… Maybe he should ask his father about it. Was it really as bad as Zayn imagines? Dragging Louis to a river, kicking and screaming, and… Louis shakes his head. No matter how much Louis’ disliked his father in the past, or even now, he doesn’t think it was actually that brutal. Maybe he’ll never know.

"Can we, um," Louis coughs, desperate for a topic change. "Um, powers? Controlling them?"

Zayn sighs, giving Louis one last worried look before saying, "Yeah."

 

 

"Open your fucking eyes, wanker," Zayn spits from his right, and Louis can almost hear the eye roll. But Louis doesn’t want to open his eyes, scared of what he might sense. "There’s only like… Five people in sight, chances are they haven’t been dead."

Louis hesitates for a moment, breathing in the city air for the first time in days. The asphalt beneath his feet feels unfamiliar, after having gone barefoot ever since that incident on Friday. The sun is making the back of his lids flicker in bright, red colours. Finally, the sound of heels clicking makes him open his eyes.

There’s a woman across the street, bag in hand and a phone to her ear. Louis stares intently.

"Well?" Zayn asks. "You getting anything?"

"No," Louis breathes, relieved.

"Look, Louis," Zayn says, turning to him. "You’ve had a stressful couple of weeks. Have you considered that- I don’t know, maybe it was all in your head?"

Louis splutters, because what? Zephyrus, god of the west wind, of all should know that Louis’ being serious about this, that it’s definitely not in his head. "Not all people have been dead yet, Zayn! You just said so yourself. Let’s just… Keep walking. I’ll prove it."

Zayn shakes his head, but follows after Louis once he starts walking. "Sorry, mate, it’s just. It’s a lot to process is all. What with being the first child of the Big Three in three hundred years, and on top of that having the ability to sense people that belong in the Underworld… Personally I haven’t bumped into someone like you in over two thousand years."

Louis frowns. "Right. I keep forgetting you’re that old."

"Immortal," Zayn corrects. "Not old. There’s a difference."

"Whatever you say."

They walk for a while, and Louis’ not sure where they’ve ended up in the end due to the fact that he’s been gluing his gaze to the ground the whole time. He’s bloody nervous.

"Alright, there’s a park ahead, about thirty people or so in sight," Zayn says, patting Louis on the back. "Knock yourself out."

"Can we, like, sit?" Louis asks, not taking his eyes from the asphalt. Zayn grabs his elbow and walks with him a few steps, until they get to a bench. "Thanks," he says, sitting down.

Deep breath, now Tommo. At least he’s not alone, this time.

Carefully, he lifts his gaze. And there they are; people. He lets his eyes dart around for a moment. A woman with a baby trolley, a guy out for a run, people waiting around on benches… A business man, grey haired, suited up, staring at his phone.

Mitch Walker. Born December 30th 1960, in Huntingdon, Cambrigeshire. No kids. Never been married. Jumped off-

"-a bridge at 22, while drunk. Took over his father’s business. Unhappy."

"Louis?"

"Four in the morning. Regret. Shouldn’t have."

"Louis."

"Came back on one condition: he would never find happiness ever again."

Louis’ shaking, vaguely registering a hand landing on his shoulder. He’s cold. So, so cold. With trembling hands, he pulls on his hoodie, and wraps the fabric tighter around his body.

"Who?" Zayn asks. Louis just nods his head in Mitch’s direction, feeling absolutely drained. Mitch had a girlfriend back in uni. His first and last girlfriend.

"It’s not fucking fair," Louis mumbles. "The… Deals."

Zayn hums beside him. "It’s just how it is."

"Do you believe me, though? The powers?" Louis asks, looking down at his hands.

"Yeah, ’s just… Strange. A demigod with that sort of power," Zayn muses.

"Perrie’s are cooler than mine. And more useful. Mine are just…" Louis shakes his head. "It’s like a fucking curse."

"You don’t know that," Zayn says. "I mean, you haven’t really gotten a proper chance to try them out yet. To control them, to evolve them."

"To what, exactly?" Louis snaps. "Bring people back from the dead? No thank you."

They’re both quiet for a moment. It’s a warm out, considering it’s October. The leaves have turned orange, red, yellow. Some leaves have fallen. It’s going to be a long winter for Louis. He can feel it.

After a while, Zayn starts patting down his pockets, and fishes out a pack of cigarettes. "Want one?"

"Yeah." Louis grabs a cig, letting Zayn light it up for him. "Why do you even smoke? Harry said gods can’t get high, so I'm assuming the same goes for nicotine."

Zayn blows out some smoke, and quirks a smile at Louis. "Makes my cheekbones look good."

 

 

"This time I genuinely did forget my key," Louis says, bouncing on his toes, checking behind his shoulder in case someone is watching him. He can’t see anyone.

"Next time I will not hesitate, boy. I will call the police," Mrs. Hobbs threatens with her squeaky voice. Louis doesn’t feel threatened at all.

She buzzes him in.

Zayn had Louis watch people for a good hour, four of the hundreds of people he saw had once been dead. He thought there’d be more, considering how many he bumped into on Friday. Although, he did run through a crowd at rush hour that day, so that might have something to do with it.

The god didn’t have more time today, though, so they haven’t really gotten into the controlling bit yet. He gave him a few tips though; breathe, focus, clear your mind. Fuck that, honestly. It may work during yoga sessions, but when it comes to Louis’ powers, he isn’t really a fan.

Louis heads down the basement, easily stepping through the first door. He still doesn’t know the codeword to the second one, and he probably doesn’t even need it, given he’s got a key now. But he didn’t exactly plan on coming here. Zayn told him the second door was cursed for gods, that if they try the door handle their hands will like… Drip off or summat, like acid. Louis’ kind of curious to what happens if he tries the door handle.

So naturally, Louis touches the door handle. Nothing happens. He knocks.

"Code?" a male voice asks from the other side.

"For fucks sake, let me in," Louis says, rolling his eyes.

"Oh, it’s you," the voice grumbles, opening the door.

And of course. "Balder," Louis greets, bored. "If you’re going to strangle me, better do it now while no one’s looking."

The other boy just huffs, leaving the door open for Louis to step inside. "Harry’s in his room," he throws over his shoulder, before disappearing into the kitchen.

The common room is mostly stranded, apart from a girl curled up with a book in the corner. She doesn’t look up to greet Louis, so he heads towards Harry’s bedroom.

He’s stopped however, when he’s walking past the kitchen.

"Here," Balder says, pushing a small box to Louis’ chest.

Louis looks down. It’s a new phone. What the fuck? He actually bought him a new phone. Maybe Balder has a heart after all.

Wait.

He doesn’t.

"This is a Samsung," Louis points out irritated, turning the box over. "I had a brand new iPhone!"

"You can either thank me, or search the toilet for a week after I’ve shoved that fucking phone down your throat. Your choice."

"Fuck off, Balder," Louis says, walking away. He doesn’t need to thank him. Balder should thank Louis for even talking to him after he came close to murdering him.

Ignoring Balder’s threatening growl, Louis steps up to Harry’s door and knocks.

"It’s open!" Harry calls from inside.

With a steadying breath, Louis walks in. Harry’s sitting cross-legged in one of the armchairs, reading some novel Louis probably should have heard of, but never have.

"Hi," Louis says quietly, making Harry look up.

"Louis, hey," Harry smiles, putting away his book. "You used your key, I see."

"Actually, I forgot my key," Louis says, going to sit down in the other armchair. He puts his new phone down on the coffee table, next to Harry’s book. It’s titled Love Is All You Need, the text spread across a photo of a rainbow. "Um, this is an unplanned visit."

"Oh," Harry says.

"What are you reading?" Louis asks, gesturing to the book.

Harry picks up the book again, flips through the pages. "It’s an… Um, a collection of quotes? About love."

"Didn’t take you for the romantic type," Louis comments. Though, he totally did. He can picture Harry being the type to take baths in pink, bubbly water, surrounded by rose petals and candles. The type who would write sonnets for their first crush, the type who sent notes during class with a scribble saying: ‘Do you like me? Check yes or no.’

"’S good quotes. By iconic people, I must say," Harry grins, flipping open a page. "This is Albert Einstein. Um. Falling in love is not at all the most stupid thing that people do - but gravitation cannot be held responsible for it."

Louis swallows thickly, feeling the hair on the back of his neck prickling. "That’s… Sappy."

"I don’t know," Harry says, sucking his bottom lip in. "I don’t think he was being sappy. I’m not even sure he meant for it to be… I don’t know, romantic? More like," Harry shifts a bit. Louis’ heart is pounding. "Like if you like someone, and would do anything for that person, it’s… It’s like nothing should come in the way. No matter what barriers there are, you know?"

This is awkward. Especially now that Louis knows Harry’s ‘pining for him’. At least according to Aphrodite, that is. How does she know this stuff anyway? She just thinks of a person and knows instantly where their heart wants to go, or? Ugh, that sounded weird. Cheesy. Louis shakes the thought away.

"Yeah, um, I guess so," Louis clears his throat. "Anyway, I was thinking that, maybe… If it’s okay with you, that is, that I, um… Can come by? Like, more often?"

"That’s why I gave you a key," Harry chuckles. "Didn’t you read my letter?"

"I did," Louis says. "Very poetic."

Harry closes his book. "I see Balder got you your new phone?" Harry says, eyeing the little box.

"It’s a Samsung," Louis grumbles, picking it up. "But I guess it’ll do it’s job."

"And now you can put my number in," Harry smiles. "Instead of using Liam as your middleman every time you need to reach me."

"I can’t remember ever actually reaching out for you, Harold," Louis teases. "If I remember correctly, you and Liam went behind my back through texting to throw that dinner party."

Harry’s eyes widens. "I thought you were the one that wanted me to come. I’m so sorry!"

"No! No, no," Louis says, waving his hands about. "Not like that, I had fun. I was just… You know."

"Avoiding me," Harry states. And it’s not a question.

Louis shrugs. "Not you. More like… Everything, I suppose."

"Does that include me?" Harry asks, cracking a smile. Louis can’t help but smile in return. "Just kidding. I get it, though. Or, I think so, at least. I’ve always known about this world, though. Through Gemma, through my mother. I’ve never like… Known another world. But I know how it’s like to have your world flipped."

"Yeah," Louis whispers, chewing the inside of his cheeks. Of course Harry knows what it’s like. Maybe this is the right moment to ask him about his past? So Louis won’t have to go around knowing about it behind Harry’s back. He could try. "Wh- What’s… Flipped your world, then? If you don’t mind me asking."

Harry’s quiet for a moment, studying Louis. "It’s all in the past now. So… Doesn’t really matter that much to me anymore."

Oh.

"It’s like," Harry continues. "I’ve been through some stuff, yeah? But we all have, and I think it’s important not to dwell on it. To accept what is, and let the past stay in the past, you know?"

"Yeah, yeah," Louis says. "I guess you’re right. Didn’t mean to, um… Pry."

"It’s alright," Harry says, giving Louis one of his lopsided smiles. "Anyway, should we get your phone going, then?"

And so they unpack the Samsung, both moving down to the carpet, sitting cross-legged across from each other. Louis cries internally the whole way through. He’s not some stuck up Apple lunatic or anything, not at all, it’s just… His iPhone is worth like twice as much as his new one. He had to work so hard for it.

Which reminds him; he needs to take a shift at a bar soon. Rent is coming up again.

He’s got plenty of time for that later, though. For now, he let’s Harry pick a lock screen for him, a ringtone, and personalizes his file structure for him. Louis kinda wants to argue against having a baby goat as his lock screen, but Harry says it’s ‘quirky’. Louis doesn’t get it.

There’s a lot about Harry that Louis still doesn’t get, even if he knows of his secret past. But secret pasts, appearance, how he likes his tea, what his voice sounds when he’s tired… That’s all superficial things. It’s the other stuff that appeals to Louis. The things he has yet to discover about Harry. How his mind works, how he views things, wether he mulls over his dreams in the mornings.

Does Harry think the same of Louis? Would Harry see past all the lies and secrets that surround Louis, if all he truly cared about was what defines Louis? What kind of material he’s built of; is he cold like a stone, is he soft like cotton? Would he hurt a fly?

"Would you kill a spider, Harry?" Louis asks, or blurts, and he shuts his mouth closed. They were just going through what apps to install, quietly arguing about what mobile game is the best. Louis blushes slightly. Such dumb questions.

"Depends on the spider," Harry answers anyway, unfazed. "If it’s only a little one, I’d probably carry it outside, or leave it to it’s own business. If it was one of those huge, chunky Harry Potter spiders, though, I’d probably want to kill it. But in the end, I’d run away."

"Didn’t take you for a wimp, Harry," Louis jokes, pushing him lightly in the shoulder.

"What? It would be logical to run away from those monsters! They’ve got more arms than me!"

"Don’t you mean legs? And if the spider has more legs than you, I’d say running away would be the stupidest thing you could do. It would catch up in seconds," Louis points out.

"That’s where you’re wrong," Harry says, poking Louis in the chest. "Spiders are clumsy creatures. Must be, with all those long limbs hanging about."

"You’ve got some pretty long limbs as well, Bambi," Louis laughs. "To be honest, I’d like to see you in a fight with that spider now. Would be a good laugh."

"Are you insulting my coordination?" Harry puts a hand to his chest in mock offense, gasping. "Not that I need to prove anything to you, but as a matter of fact I can stand on my hands!"

"As a matter of fact, you say?" Louis quirks an eyebrow. "Well, show me then."

"Fine," Harry spits, but his dimple is still out. It’s endearing.

Harry stands up from the carpet, dramatically stretching out his arms and legs, like he’s about to compete in the Olympics. He does that sideways thing, where he bends his upper body from side to side. Louis may or may not notice how his shirt rides up his sides, showing off a tattoo of a leaf near his hip. When he turns his body over to stretch the other side, Louis sees he’s got a leaf placed near the other hip as well.

Louis blinks a few times, changing his focus back to Harry’s face. He’s got his eyes closed, like he needs to get into the zone.

In one swift motion, Harry dives forward, making Louis scramble away just before Harry falls sideways with a thump.

"Wow," Louis comments. "That was brilliant."

"I know how to do it, I swear!" Harry defends, rolling up into a sitting position, rubbing his side. "It’s just… Been a few years since last time, is all."

"How many is a few?"

"Fifteen, maybe?" Harry says, scrunching his forehead.

Louis laughs though. "You’re a dork," he says, shaking his head.

And Harry laughs as well.

He should tell him. Maybe Louis could talk to his father, and let the demigods out of the Underworld? Maybe Louis could help? Surely Harry won’t hate him for who his father is. He’ll understand. Louis knows it. And if Louis told Harry, maybe he wouldn’t feel so alone in this. Maybe things would be easier. They could help each other out.

"Harry?" Louis carefully says then, after the laughter has died down a bit.

"Yeah?" Harry breaths out, a smile still playing on his lips. His eyes are shining, now more green than ever.

"There’s something I… Um," Louis starts, feeling his pulse picking up. You can trust him. "Something I need to-"

"Harry?!" Someone screams out then, startling both boys. Harry stands up in an instant, hurrying over to the door.

Louis takes a few more seconds to collect himself, before he follows after Harry.

"What’s going on?" Harry calls out, marching towards the common room. Louis has to jog to catch up. Louis hears the sound of panicked chattering and shuffling feet before he sees it.

When he rounds the corner, the girl from earlier isn’t alone in the room anymore. He counts ten demigods, all either pacing around or whispering hurriedly to one another. More demigods rush out of their rooms, bumping into Louis to get past him.

Louis only picks up a few sentences being thrown around the room.

"What happened?"

"How many?"

"But it’s in the middle of the day!"

Harry is standing stock-still next to Louis, eyes darting around the room. Louis’ heart is in his throat, his mind replaying the same sentence over and over again; Something terrible has happened, something terrible has happened.

"Where’s Gemma," Harry asks quietly, barely audible over the noise. "I can’t…" Harry takes a step further into the room, looking around. Double checking. Triple checking.

Louis’ heart aches.

"Where’s Gemma?" Harry shouts, making the chatter die down.

No one says anything. Instead, they all look around at each other. No one wants to be the one to say it.

"Where is she?" Harry bites out, his chest rising and falling rapidly. Louis wants nothing more than to walk over to him, to comfort him. But he somehow feels that it isn’t his place. Not right now.

Finally, someone steps up - Brent, if Louis remembers correctly.

"H," he begins, taking another careful step closer to Harry. "She’s… We were out, just around the corner and then-" he takes a deep breath.

Harry stands completely frozen, eyes not moving away from Brent as he musters up the courage to go on.

"Some men came our way." Brent’s voice cracks, but he goes on. "Five of them. We didn’t think much of it until they wouldn’t let us pass. And they knew our names… And…"

It’s heart breaking. It’s so silent, yet so, so loud. Like a dozen minds screaming at once.

"And what?" Harry manages, letting his tears flow freely down his cheeks. Louis can only watch helplessly from the sidelines.

"We ran, but… She wasn’t quick enough. I’m so sorry Harry. I shouldn’t have let her out of my sight, but it happened so quickly, and…"

"They got her," Harry states.

Brent nods.

"Not just that," another voice pipes in, and Balder steps forwards. "They got her nearby. You know what that means, right?"

No. No, no, no. Louis stares at his feet, trying to control his breathing. It’s his fault. They followed him. Gemma’s gone because of him.

"It means," Balder says when no one answers. "The minor gods are getting closer. And we are not safe here anymore."

It’s his fault.

Chapter Text

It’s his fault.

It’s his fault.

It’s his fault.

Louis’ sitting on one of couches in the common room, completely frozen as demigods rush back and forth in front of him. He hasn’t spoken to Harry yet, knowing he’s busy trying to plan their next move. Some have suggested fleeing, and leave the safe house behind. But Harry said that’s absolutely out of the question.

"We’ve been hiding from them for too long," Harry stresses out, dragging his fingers through his hair. "We’re just sitting here and- we’re not doing anything! We should fucking do something! Fight them, talk to the gods if we can, anything. Get my sister back, get our friends back."

Louis shifts his gaze away, staring at a spot on the wall instead. He’s crushing his hands between his thighs, afraid his trembling fingers will expose how guilty he feels. Or how guilty he is.

He should say something.

Do something.

But he can’t move. Can’t force himself to use his voice. He feels like if he does, it’ll end in chaos. It’ll ruin him. Maybe it’s selfish of him. It is selfish of him. But he feels so, so guilty. And he doesn’t want to lose his friendship with Harry. Doesn’t want him to think he’s a bad person.

Louis is a bad person. It’s his fault. He shouldn’t have come here. He should have listened to Harry that first day he met, when he told him to never return to this place.

And Louis’ freaking out. All this time he thought he was being paranoid, and it turns out he was right. Is this his father’s doing after all, then? Did he have someone follow Louis around? Or did some minor gods know about him all along, knowing they couldn’t really get to him, but thought that eventually he’d lead them to other demigods?

Someone must have followed him. It’s the only reasonable explanation for this. The demigods have been safe here for years, so it can’t be a coincidence their safe house was found only weeks after Louis started showing up here. Louis lead them here. It’s his fault.

His fault that Gemma’s been taken.

His fault that Harry is furiously wiping away tears.

His fault that the demigods are about to start an uprising against the minor gods. And it’ll end in a blood bath. Half-bloods are vulnerable, gods are indestructible.

He vaguely registers a shadow looming over him. His skin crawls with the notion that the shadow is staring at him, judging him. Suspecting him.

Louis carefully lifts his gaze, finding the son of Ares eyeing him. His biceps are bulging through his shirt, twitching as he crosses them tightly over his chest.

"You’re awfully quiet," Balder muses, boring his gaze into Louis.

Louis swallows thickly, trying - and failing - not to break eye contact. "I’m just… It’s horrible, what’s happening."

"It is," Balder replies, squinting his eyes as if he’s trying to read Louis’ mind.

"Piss off, Balder," a light voice says then, and Perrie steps past him. Balder turns around with a huff, looking back at Louis over his shoulder as he goes into the office.

As Perrie sits down next to him, Louis notices that Harry’s not in the room anymore. Not Brent either.

"He’s in the office," Perrie says then, and Louis realizes his eyes have been darting around the room. Subtle.

Louis just nods, not feeling like talking at the moment. He’s grateful when Perrie doesn’t say anything either.

What is he supposed to do? Running away has crossed his mind a few times, but that’ll look suspicious. He could also just sit here, pretend like nothing, and be here for Harry. Though that sounds like the easiest thing to do, it still isn’t the right thing. Louis knows he can do something.

He could tell Harry.

Louis was supposed to tell Harry, but then everything went to shit.

Tell Harry about his father, his powers, what he knows about the Underworld. He was gonna tell him about his friends fading away. He was gonna tell him that he knows about Harry’s past. He was supposed to tell Harry that despite all this, he can be a good person. A good friend.

Is he, though?

 

 

Two hours later, Louis’ in the safe house’s kitchen trying (and possibly failing) to make pancakes for everyone. He figured that since the demigods are busy planning, he’d take on kitchen duty. He also needed something to occupy himself with, instead of all the guilt that’s been rushing through him. Harry hasn’t come out of the office even once, and Louis’ wondering what they’re planning in there. For everyones sake, he hopes they’re not planning on starting a war.

"Fuck," Louis mutters, flipping the pancake over. It’s completely scorched, apart from a small bit in the middle. Probably still edible, though, he thinks while putting it on top of his pancake tower.

They’re all pretty… Scorched. And ripped. The one at the bottom is kind of round, though. Maybe he should flip the whole pile over and put the pretty pancake on top.

"Smells good," a rough voice suddenly comments from his right, startling him. Louis snaps his head up, almost dropping the frying pan in the process, making him lose his balance for a split second.

"Oops," Harry takes a quick step forward, as to save Louis from falling, even though he’s already got his balance back. "Careful," he comments with a lopsided smile, hand hovering next to Louis’ elbow.

Louis’ flushed cheeks are due to the heat from the stove. Not from blushing. Nope. "Hi," he dumbly says, blinking.

"Hi," Harry answers, amused.

After Louis’ carefully put his frying pan back on the stove, he turns around to face Harry. And he looks… Tired.

These past hours has turned Harry’s previously milky skin gray, his bright eyes red-rimmed, and his cheerful smile into a tight lip, like he’s forced it to stay put.

Louis turns off the stove, and puts the pan in the sink. "How are you?" he asks, facing him again.

Harry shrugs. "I don’t know."

Louis hums. He knows that feeling. The day his grandmother died, he felt completely numb, and whenever someone asked him how he was feeling, his answer would always be the same; I don’t know. How are you supposed to tell how you’re feeling, when what you’re feeling is something you’ve never felt before?

A month or so later, he still didn’t know how he was feeling, but people kept giving him little keywords, like flashcards, for what he could say when people asked. Sad. Angry. Not okay, but I’m cooping.

None of those words ever fit, though.

"I made pancakes," Louis says quietly, gesturing to the pile on the counter.

"I saw that," Harry says, curling the corner of his mouth up a bit.

They take the pancakes out to the common room. Louis’ carrying the food, while Harry carries a number of plates. While Louis’ busying himself with setting the table, Harry slumps down in a chair. Louis avoids looking at him, knowing the light has left his eyes. Harry is hurting, and it hurts Louis. If only there was something he could do.

Then he gets the idea.

He stops, his mind going a hundred miles an hour, measuring the pros and cons. The cons shouldn’t even matter at this point, because he kind of deserves every hit coming his way after all the lies he’s told, all the information he’s kept to himself. The pros tho… Even if his plan won’t work, it’s worth a shot.

"What’s this?" someone says from behind Louis, startling him. Metal clinks against porcelain when Louis drops the forks he was holding, and he turns. But it’s only Perrie, looking mildly confused about Louis’ reaction.

"Pancakes," Louis breathes, chuckling awkwardly.

Perrie eyes him warily for a moment, before shifting her gaze to the scorched pancakes. Her nose scrunches up for half a second, as if Louis wouldn’t catch it. "Alright."

"They don’t look it," Louis defends. "But my pancakes are the best. Promise."

Perrie, Harry, Louis, and a few other brave demigods eventually eats some of Louis’ pancakes. No one really says anything, besides "pass the syrup" or "anyone want a napkin." It’s like no one wants to say the wrong thing, nor talk about trivial things when the day is anything but normal.

Louis notices that Harry gets through half a pancake, before he gets up to take his dishes to the kitchen.

"Are you staying the night?" Perrie asks from his right, popping a piece of pancake in her mouth.

"Should I?" Louis asks. He isn’t sure himself. Doesn’t know if Harry wants him around at the moment. Or maybe that’s exactly what Harry needs.

Louis looks behind himself, seeing Harry exiting the kitchen and head towards his bedroom. Seconds later, a door opens and closes harshly, making Louis flinch.

"I think you should," Perrie says, eyes towards the hallways as well.

Louis nods once, getting out of his chair.

When he enters the kitchen with his dishes, he takes out his phone. He should probably text Liam, make sure he won’t worry too much. Liam is already at the end of his rope when it comes to Louis, and Louis is not about to make him more worried.

After sending of the text, he walks over to Harry’s bedroom door, giving it a few, gentle knocks.

No answer. Luckily - in Louis’ world - that always means ‘come in’.

Harry’s laying on top of his bed, staring at the ceiling. Only a few days earlier, that person was Louis. Hiding from the world, hoping all the bad stuff would all go away on its own.

Without a word, Louis goes over to Harry and plops down on the edge of the bed. Harry’s breathing carefully in and out, not even blinking.

"What are you thinking?" Louis carefully asks, barely above a whisper.

"I’m thinking," Harry says, swallowing before continuing. "Thinking how helpless I feel. That being holed up here will do just as much good as actively trying to get her back."

That’s not true, Louis wants to say. But he can’t. Louis’ gonna have to fix this on his own, lest he wants Harry to get hurt.

"What makes you think that?" Louis asks instead, shifting a bit closer to the other boy, carefully gazing down at him. Harry’s curls are wild around his head, creating wavy patterns as it’s resting against the sheets. There’s a single strand of hair laying across his forehead, out of place. Louis would brush it aside, but he doesn’t want to get burned. Doesn’t want to get closer.

Not yet.

"There’s nothing we can do," Harry breathes out, powerless. "We’re just weak, damaged half-blood, and we’re on our own. We don’t stand a chance against the gods."

Louis’ heart aches for him. If only he could reach out, grab his hand, hold him against his chest and make everything go away for one, small moment. "You’re not damaged, Harry," Louis murmurs.

Harry looks at him then, but Louis can’t see a single trace of hope in his eyes. Just helplessness.

"I am, though," Harry says quietly.

Louis swallows thickly, forcing the lump in his throat to go away. He doesn’t know what to say, or what would help. He can’t suggest asking Apollo for help, because he knows they can’t stay in touch with their parent. He also knows Harry doesn’t want that. And Louis’ already got a plan, and he’ll do it as soon as possible. As soon as he can.

Right now, though, he wants to stay here.

"We’re gonna have to move our safe house," Harry says. "I thought maybe we could like… guard it or something, but… We can’t risk losing anyone else."

Louis hums sadly. "Where’re you gonna go?"

"Don’t know, yet. Not far, I hope," Harry says, giving Louis a tiny smile, forcing it onto his face despite his sadness.

Louis smiles back.

 

 

Louis stays the night - on the couch in the common room, mind you. Harry has insisted Louis could lend a bed from one of the available rooms, but Louis doesn’t feel like getting too comfortable here. Not yet.

He wakes up every few hours, his back sore. When it’s just past 2am, he gives up on sleep and goes into the kitchen to make himself a cup of tea. His feet are bare against the cold tiles, making him shiver. The cupboard is filled with dozens of mugs in different shapes and colours. He spots one Harry made a few weeks back, the one with the yellow pom-poms. It’s way up on the highest shelf, so Louis has to get creative.

Sure, there are lots of others to choose from on the lower shelf, but he really wants to drink from that specific mug, alright?

Louis’ halfway on top of the kitchen counter when he hears a snicker coming from behind him - right behind him -, and almost falls back down to the floor. He’s stopped, however, by a hand firmly placed on his waist, holding him up.

A second later, another hand snakes past him and reaches for the pom-pom mug.

"Here," Harry whispers, handing Louis the mug.

Louis just squeaks, dumbly, and accepts the mug with a nod, clumsily hopping down from the counter.

"What are you doing up this late?" Harry questions quietly, tilting his head. He’s looming over Louis, standing way closer than he originally thought. Their toes are pressed together, which in return traps Louis against the kitchen counter.

"Um," Louis swallows. "What are you doing up this late?" It was supposed to sound snarky, but… It absolutely didn’t.

Too close, too close.

"Couldn’t sleep," Harry murmurs, reaching out his hand. Louis eyes it warily. Is he gonna touch him? Hug him? Kiss him?

"Did you put on the kettle?" Harry asks, reaching his hand past Louis. There’s some clinking behind Louis, and a second later the other boy has picked out a cup for himself. "I’ll put it on, then."

And shit, Louis can’t even think straight enough to answer a simple question.

"No," Louis says then, realizing he answered a moment too late. Idiot.

"No?" Harry asks, turning away to fill the kettle. "I thought you wanted tea?

"I do, I do, I just, um," Louis stumbles. "Just a bit tired, I guess."

Harry hums a reply, putting on the kettle. They’re both quiet for a moment. Harry’s watching as the water’s boiling, while Louis is awkwardly standing next to him, a harsh grip on his mug. Suddenly, he doesn’t know how to small talk. This would probably be a good time to talk about… Anything, but Louis’ mind is completely blank.

So instead, he listens to Harry’s soft breathing, while trying to control his own. The kitchen tiles doesn’t feel as cold beneath his feet anymore. His face is… Pretty warm, as well. Hopefully Harry won’t notice.

It’s annoying this… Feeling. The fluttering in his chest, the prickling in his cheeks, and how self-conscious he suddenly feels. His hair is probably a mess, after all the twisting and turning on the couch. He slept in his jeans and jumper, not bothering to ask Harry for something else to sleep in. It was too cold to not wear trousers. So, his clothes are probably all curled up and ugly now. He also has a feeling his breath stinks, though he’s not sure.

Harry, though… Looks flawless, even in his pyjamas and ripped band t-shirt. Even with the circles under his eyes, and his chapped lips. He looks soft, and so, so warm. What would it be like to snake his arms around his waist, and press his cheek against his shoulder? Louis would probably never feel cold ever again.

"Milk, no sugar, right?" Harry asks, gently taking the mug out of Louis’ hands.

He blinks once. "Um, yeah."

They sit in the common room together, sipping their tea and talking quietly about everything and nothing. The only subjects that never comes up are the safe house, Gemma, gods, monsters. They don’t talk about Louis’ job. They don’t mention the times Louis shut Harry out.

They talk about music. About books. About what their hometown is like. Louis talks about his mum, tells a story about the time she took him out for ice cream after he his football team won a match when he was fourteen.

Somewhere along the way, Louis doesn’t really notice when, their tea has gone cold. Harry’s telling a story from when he was in a band back in school, how he was the lead singer and everything. Louis asks him to sing something for him, but Harry blushes and says that’s never going to happen.

Everything feels normal, and it’s nice. Even if it’s only for a little while.

 

 

"I should get back to bed," Harry says, voice husky. They’ve had a second cup of tea, and Louis’ not sure he’ll be able to go back to sleep now even if he tried, but Harry sounds absolutely exhausted. He’s also been rubbing his eyes for the past half hour, trying to will away his sleepiness just so he could sit here and talk with Louis. Is it selfish of Louis if he doesn’t want Harry to go back to his bedroom yet?

Just as Harry’s about to get up from the couch they’ve been sharing, Louis asks, "Do you think I could have another blanket? ’S freezing in here."

Harry chuckles. "You know, you could’ve slept in one of the available rooms. They’re warmer."

"Yeah, but," Louis shrugs. "I’m not sure… Not sure I belong here, um, just yet."

Harry considers him for a moment, furrowing his brows. "You belong here just as much as any of us, Lou. Please don’t think you’re any less just because you don’t know who your father is. It’s not your fault."

Louis gulps, the guilt rising in his chest once again. Is it possible to blacklist a word or topic you don’t want anyone to bring up to you ever again? There must be some new technology for that. Louis would buy eight.

However, Louis still finds himself saying, "It’s not that."

"Then what?" Harry asks quietly, swinging his legs up on the couch again, like he’s willing to sit here for two hours longer, regardless of his exhaustion. Just for Louis.

Because it might my fault Gemma’s not here anymore, Louis thinks.

It is your fault, his mind screams at him.

"I… Can’t say," Louis settles on, averting his eyes to his lap. "Not yet."

"Is this about what happened after we went to the coffee shop?" Harry asks gently. It’s so quiet in the room that they can hear the soft snoring coming from the bedrooms down the hall, the water traveling through the pipes, the morning bus driving past somewhere up in the streets.

So Louis has to be careful with his words, and careful with how he says it. It’s harder to keep secrets in empty spaces, he’s learned. No distractions, no noise.

"Partly," Louis whispers. "But I- I…"

"You don’t have to say anything," Harry murmurs. "Just know that no matter what, I would never judge you, yeah? I’d listen."

Louis bites the insides of his cheeks for a moment. Maybe it’d be best if Harry went back to his bedroom now. It was nicer to talk about football with him, and how Harry got kicked of the team for letting too many goals past because he was too busy doing pirouettes. "I was twelve," Harry had defended. "Twelve year old boys can’t stand keeper for more than five minutes before it gets old."

"Can I," Harry asks, then stops, like he’s trying to choose his words more carefully. It makes Louis’ stomach drop a bit. There’s a seriousness to his tone, his expression, and Louis would rather fall asleep right there and then than face the question. "After you met Zayn, something happened, yeah? The panic thing?"

Louis hums, not so willingly urging him to go on.

"And you said something about… How the more you knew, the more it was draining you?" Harry asks, or finishes, and Louis isn’t sure this is where he’s supposed to come up with an answer.

He hardly remembers it, to be honest. He remember walking out, though, because Perrie and Harry were keeping something from him, and he didn’t know what, and he was probably still a little panicked.

But apparently, Harry remembers this.

"Alright, um," Louis shifts a bit. It should feel more uncomfortable talking about this, because the first thing that had popped into Louis’ mind after his panic attack was that he never wanted to bring it up ever again. When Harry talks about it, though… It feels safer. Like it really isn’t something to be ashamed of at all. Maybe because Harry had mentioned experiencing it before, as well.

"What about it?" Louis asks.

Harry waits a beat. Louis doesn’t like the hesitation, the dramatics of it all. Just rip the bandaid off. He feels like he’s had enough shocking news these past week that he’s come to be immune to it.

"When I was fifteen," Harry begins, boring his green eyes into Louis’ own blue, stilling him. The words by themselves would have stilled Louis anyway, because Louis knows what’s coming. "I was… Captured? Kind of. By a minor god."

"I’m… so sorry." Louis purses his lips, averting his eyes yet again. It’s like he’s burning under Harry’s gaze, even though Harry hasn’t got a clue that Louis knows of his past. This is where he should comfort Harry, or be shocked or something, but he can’t.

"I don’t blame anyone but the gods, Lou. And I came back, obviously," Harry chuckles a bit, like it’s not a big deal at all. "But a while after… It was like I had forgotten how it was like, um, down there. Like it never happened, sort of. I mean, I remembered getting there, and I remembered getting out. But the stuff in between was like a fog."

Louis meets Harry’s eyes now. "A fog?" Louis asks, furrowing his brows.

"Yeah, kind of. And after I came back, - it took a while, but - um, I could remember more and more," Harry says, head bobbing along with the words, like he’s got it as clear in his mind as a picture. "And the reason why me and Perrie, um, thought it was… weird with how you reacted was because that’s exactly what happened to me as well."

"Um," Louis furrows his brows, not quite following. "How’d you mean?"

"The Underworld made me forget," Harry explains. "And coming back made me remember. It fucked with my head for a couple of months. So that’s why we didn’t say anything to you that night - in case we got it right, and you’ve been to the Underworld as well."

Louis doesn’t know what to say. He has been to the Underworld. Once every time his father took his memories from him, but he doesn’t remember that, obviously. And he was there for like… Thirty minutes a couple of weeks back.

But he wasn’t stuck there for months, like Harry was.

"I… I haven’t, um," Louis stumbles for a bit. "I can’t remember ever being… caught by any minor gods, like you," Louis settles on.

Harry just hums, considering.

It makes Louis think though… Does that fog Harry described have anything to do with fading away? Like Hades told him; how demigods takes longer than humans to fade away. Was Harry fading, and that’s why he forgot?

"But now you remember everything?" Louis asks after a while. "About the Underworld?"

"Well," Harry says, rubbing at his eyes. He should go to bed. "It’s not like hell or anything. It’s just cold, and dark and lonely. And that’s it really. It’s not like there’s nightclubs and theaters down there," he chuckles.

Louis blinks. "Oh." A beat, then. "How did you get out? If you don’t mind me, um, asking. Don’t wanna… you know."

"I mean the cat’s outta the bag now, so. I don’t mind talking about it, you know. It just doesn’t matter that much to me anymore. But the part about getting out," Harry says, his upper lip curling slightly in disdain. "That’s why me and Zayn aren’t… On the greatest terms anymore."

Louis’ confused. "Zayn? What’d he do?"

"Went behind my back to convince my father to get me out," Harry says, voice flat.

Louis’ still confused. "Isn’t that a good thing?"

"No," Harry says, like it’s obvious. "Because now my father knows where I am at all times. Zayn like… Made a deal with him. ‘Get Harry out and I’ll keep you updated on your kids’, that kinda stuff."

Oh. It’s understandable that Harry doesn’t want that, given he doesn’t know his father, so he probably doesn’t trust him much, either. Louis would say it’s a small price to pay to get his life back, but… Louis’ never walked in Harry’s shoes.

"So every move you make, your father will know," Louis states.

"Yeah, that’s about right. He’s still not allowed to see us, though, but" Harry says, yawning at the last word. Then he stands up, stretching. "Anyway, um, I’m gonna head to bed now. Did you want an extra blanket?"

"Yes, please," Louis says, following after Harry down the hall.

Once inside Harry’s room, Louis goes to lean on the wall next to the door, watching as Harry rummages through his closet after a blanket. "D’you want some pyjamas as well? Or are you gonna sleep in that?" Harry asks, handing Louis a fluffy, pink blanket.

Louis muffles a laugh behind his hand, trying to keep quiet for the sake of the sleeping demigods in the other rooms. "Did you make this?" He asks, turning the blanket over. It looks like someone put a sheep in the washer along with a red sock, and all they were left with was a sad chunk of cotton candy.

"No," Harry says, indignant. "I got it at a flea marked, it was like- one quid."

"A good buy, then," Louis says. "And I’ll just sleep in this, it’s alright. Also um, good night. And thanks, for this."

"Good night, Lou," Harry says, smiling softly at him.

Louis turns to leave before it gets awkward, but just before he’s about to close the door, Harry speaks again. "Are you staying tomorrow as well?"

"Yeah, I think so. I should, um, head back to the flat and get a change of clothes, though."

Harry smiles again, bashfully this time, and Louis doesn’t know where he’s supposed to plant his feet. Harry is… Truly beautiful. It’s like he’s made of sunlight, regardless of who his father is. Only his presence paints the room in vibrant colours, making Louis’ chest feel warm - and his heart ache. Because he can’t touch him. Can’t go to near him.

Not yet.

"And thanks," Harry says quickly, as if he just remembered. "For the talk. Helped get my mind of off things."

Louis just nods once, trying to contain his smile, and closes the door.

Before Louis heads to bed, he desperately needs a piss. He’d be lying if he said he hasn’t held it in since that first cuppa with Harry. It feels stupid, it’s like one of them teenage crushes, where he strives to be as perfect as possible. He knows damn well that pissing is completely normal and all, but he didn’t want to interrupt their conversation by emptying his bladder, either.

It’s so, so stupid. But it’s true.

Louis remembers his first boyfriend, back when he was only seventeen. His name was Jake. Jake, of all names. He wasn’t a jock or anything. No, Jake was into chess and puzzles, things that "stimulated the mind". Anyway, when Jake came over to Louis’ after school one day, Louis had him wait down in the living room for forty minutes so he could clean it. He even changed his bedsheets. He really, really didn’t want Jake to think he was a slob.

He didn’t want to mess it up.

And that’s how it feels like with Harry. Louis just needs to… Fix everything first. Then maybe, someday, he could let himself feel what he knows is there. The want, the desire. This… stupid crush.

Louis flushes, and goes to wash his hands, splashing a bit of water on his face. He wonders if this is the only bathroom, and all the demigods share it. It can’t be. Sounds like a nightmare.

He picks up his fluffy, pink blanket, and heads towards the common room, looking forward to at least a couple of hours of sleep.

Louis’ stopped, however, halfway through the hallway when a chunky arm wraps around his chest, and a hand presses so tightly over his lips that it feels like his jaw is gonna break. The blanket falls out of his arms and lands by his feet as his arms fly up to the hands grabbing at him.

He barely has time to react before he’s pulled backwards into a room, and the door is kicked closed by the person crushing Louis tight against his chest.

Louis doesn’t even attempt screaming, but the other person whispers in his ear anyway. "Make a sound and I’ll snap your neck, you got it?"

Ah, how Louis loves the son of Ares. His comrade, his buddy bud, lad of the month.

He should have seen it coming, though. Balder has a thing for attempting murder, so it seems. He was also giving Louis this look earlier, right after Gemma disappeared, like he suspected Louis. Shit, is he gonna make him talk now? Or is Balder’s plan just to get it over with and send Louis down to the Underworld himself?

Balder’s shifting a bit behind Louis, and a second later Louis’ carefully and soundlessly plastered with his back against the wall, as if to not wake up the demigods sleeping in the room next door. The look in Balder’s eyes is finally making Louis’ heart speed up, because he’s not fucking around this time. His gaze is close to murderous, and desperate, and devastated, all at the same time.

"Who. Are. You," Balder bites out between his teeth, finally removing his hand from Louis’ mouth.

"I told you. I’m not here to spy on you, or whatever the hell it is you think I’m doing." Louis bites back, slapping Balder’s arms away. That only makes it worse, though, and Balder grabs onto each of Louis’ wrists, nails digging into his skin as they’re flung into the wall on either side of his head, making Louis groan in pain.

This is where Louis should knee the son of Ares in the balls, he’s got the perfect angle for it. He’s tired, though, and not very keen on sleeping on the couch with broken ribs.

Another day, maybe.

"I just find it funny," Balder spits. "How you’re the only supposed demigod here that doesn’t know who their father is. You also linked Harry to Apollo the minute you showed up here, though you claimed you were just an innocent little weakling."

Louis tries so hard to not let the other man intimidate him, but it’s hard. Especially when his face is blown red in anger and a mere inch away from his own.

"And lastly," Balder continues. "If you really were a demigod, you would’ve found us a long, long time ago. You wouldn’t have just stumbled in here by accident."

"There’s a first time for everything," Louis breathes. He makes stupid comments when panicked, alright?

"So of course I’m bloody suspicious of you. So here’s what’s going to happen," Balder says, pressing Louis even more firmly against the wall. Louis doesn’t even have the energy to put up a struggle anymore, knowing that the other man is much stronger than him. Maybe he’ll just let Balder have his way with him. It’s not like Hades is gonna ground Louis down in the Underworld once he gets there for not being careful enough, right? Maybe they could have tea, even.

"You’re gonna tell me exactly who you are, and what you want," Balder says. "Did you lead the minor gods here? Are you the reason Gemma’s been taken?"

At that, Louis looks away, the guilt twinging in his gut. He shakes his head.

"Don’t fucking dare lie to me," Balder says. And… Louis feels sorry for him, how close his voice is to breaking, how much this is actually tearing the demigod apart. It’d be insensitive of Louis to think that Balder doesn’t feel the same pain as any other demigod here after Gemma was taken. "I’ll kill you, I swear."

Louis’ right wrist is let free, but the relief is short when Balder’s hand lands on his neck a moment later, the message clear.

He squeezes.

"Please," Louis manages, grabbing at Balder’s hand, trying to ease the pressure. It’s stock still, and the more Louis struggles, the harder he squeezes.

"Tell me," Balder grunts out. His eyes are shining, like there are tears prickling at his eyes.

Black dots appear in Louis’ vision, and he tries - to no avail - to kick the other man in the shin, his entire body feeling like jelly.

Without a warning, Balder lets go of Louis completely, making him fall to his knees, coughing, trying to get his breath back.

"Fuck," Louis breathes, holding a hand to his throat. He’s left alone for one, blissful moment, until he’s grabbed by the shoulder and flipped over, landing on his back with a thump.

"Things were fine until you got here," Balder says, plopping down on top of Louis’ chest, grabbing his wrist when he tries to protect his face. "Harry’s been talking about you round the dining table, you know? I’m not the only person suspicious of you here. He’s probably just keeping you close to make sure you won’t fuck us over. Too late for that, though, isn’t it?"

The weight of the other man is crushing Louis’ ribs, making it hard to breathe. But what hurts the most are his words. They make sense, is the thing. Harry was suspicious of Louis when they met. It doesn’t make sense that he all of a sudden trusts him, given Louis hasn’t told him a single truth in weeks.

Louis deserves this.

"I saw you, you know," Balder says then, leaning down, boring daggers into Louis. "At that restaurant down the street. How’d you vanish into thin air, Louis? How did you do that?"

Louis pales, all blood drained from his face. His pulse is pumping harshly in his temples, in his hands, his chest. "When?" Louis manages, barely. His mouth is as dry as dust.

"Few weeks back," Balder says, pushing at Louis’ chest with his free arm just for the hell of it, dragging a painful groan out of Louis. "You were with a man. Who was he? A minor god, maybe?"

Balder’s known about this for weeks, and hasn’t said anything until now. Why wait? Is it possible that maybe, just maybe, Balder didn’t want to jump the gun, and rather wait and see if Louis was trustworthy after all? Gemma’s capture must have been the last drop.

"No," Louis says, shaking his head. "No minor gods."

Balder huffs indignantly, leaning back a bit as to come up with a comeback. "But you were there, weren’t you? I saw you."

Louis realizes then that he can’t get out of this. He knows how suspicious it must’ve looked. But he can’t get the words out, scared of what will happen when Balder knows the truth.

"If you’re so fucking innocent," Balder says, voice breaking at last. Louis squeezes his eyes shut, waiting for the demigod to compose himself, to go on. "Why can’t you just be honest? What could you possibly be hiding? Who were you with?"

Louis opens his eyes again, blinking at the ceiling. "My father," he says, barely above a whisper.

Balder stills, one hand resting on Louis’ wrist, the other still on his chest, but not as harshly as earlier. "You said you didn’t know who your father was."

"I know. I lied," Louis says, wriggling his wrist a bit, trying to get the blood flowing again. "I… I couldn’t tell anyone."

Balder frowns. "Who is he? Why keep it a secret? It’s not like you’re embarrassed of him or anything."

Louis breathes a humorless laugh. "Embarrassed," he deadpans. "If it was only that simple."

The other demigod waits a beat, before his grip tightens again. "Why the fuck should I believe you, though? After all that’s happened."

"It’s my fault," Louis blurts, not thinking. Balder is staring at him, like he doesn’t quite believe what he’s hearing, that he hoped it was all a big misunderstanding. "It’s… It’s all my fault, I’m so sorry," Louis says again, with a tight feeling in his throat.

Balder’s barely breathing above him, making no move to punch Louis, or yell, or anything.

"Don’t tell Harry," Louis begs, meeting the other boy’s eyes. "Please."

"Tell him what?" Balder finally utters. "What did you do, Louis? Did you sell us out?"

"No," Louis shakes his head. "They followed me here."

Balder furrows his brows. "The minor gods… Followed you here?" He deadpans, like what Louis’ saying is absolutely ridiculous.

"It makes sense!" Louis exclaims, a desperate tilt to his voice. "The first son of the Big Three in three hundred years, of course the minor gods would find out eventually."

"Wait," Balder says, scrambling away from Louis. "You’re…" He shakes his head.

"I’m the Son of Hades," Louis breathes out, and sits up to lean his back against the wall. He’s not even regretting telling him. It’s like a huge burden lifted off of his chest. Maybe if at least one person in this safe house knew, Louis wouldn’t feel so alone. He should probably prefer it to be Harry that knew, but… With Harry’s history, and what’s happened with his sister, it’s out of the question. Harry can’t know until Louis has fixed this.

"Shit," Balder says.

"I have a plan," Louis says. "I’m gonna fix this. Get Gemma back. Get everyone back before it’s too late."

Balder doesn’t say a word, and Louis doesn’t dare meet his eyes, but he goes on. "Just… Give me a couple of days. No one else can get involved, because you’re not sons of Hades. I am. And if it all goes to shit and my plan doesn’t work out, the worst thing that can happen is that I'll be... I don't know, scolded." Or drowned in the river Lethe, Louis thinks.

"What’s your plan?" Balder asks.

Louis takes a deep breath. When he tells Balder, there’s no going back. He’ll have to go through with it, no matter how fucked up his plan is.

"I’m gonna make a deal with my father."

Chapter Text

Two.

Louis keeps his gaze down, the rain soaking through his hoodie, making it stick to his skin. The sound of the rain muffles any other noise around him, apart from his heavy breathing and urgent steps. It’s getting darker outside in the mornings.

He left the safe house just past seven, after knocking on Harry’s door telling him he’ll be right back. Harry had answered by rolling over in his bed, grunting out a reply. Louis’ positive Harry started snoring the minute he closed the door.

Louis hates the rain. Hates the fog. He didn’t mind it a month ago, but right now the weather is making it hard for him to navigate through the streets of London without looking up. Zayn had told him he should get used to it, that there’s no way Louis would ever be able to control his powers if he ignored them the way he’s been trying to do.

Two women this time. One was just around the corner by the safe house, the other he bumped into five minutes ago. Sandra Richards and Mary Victoria Baker. Louis doesn’t mean to sound like an ass for anything, but despite their deal with Hades, at least their lives aren’t as shitty his.

And it’s about to get a lot worse.

Louis knows that. He’s not an idiot. Well, he’s kind of an idiot, given his plan is absolutely fucked up in every way possible, and can go horribly wrong in even more ways. At least that’s what Balder told him.

That’s the part Louis doesn’t get. One second Balder tries to kill him, and the next he’s worried about Louis’ safety. Like he suddenly gives a shit now that he knows who Louis’ father is. How does that make any sense? Louis is the son of Hades, for christ sake. The Lord of the Underworld. Satan. The bloody witch from Snow White.

And who knew the son of Ares could be so annoyingly understanding and concerned? "I get why you’re so fucked in the head now," he’d said, eyes wide as the full moon. "Hades, of all gods. You’re in deep shit, mate."

Balder had proceeded to try and talk Louis out of his plan about making a deal with Hades, and came up with all sorts of reasons why it wouldn’t work, and if it did work out, all sorts of worst case scenarios as to what was inevitable to happen. There were quite a few.

Louis had then brushed it all off, making Balder swear on his life that he would have to keep his mouth shut about the plan. This plan might be the demigods only chance to get their friends back, and might even stop this sick game of hunting the demigods down.

So Balder swore on his life.

A car drives past Louis, conveniently speeding over a puddle the size as the Atlantic sea, giving Louis the shower he probably needs, but doesn’t want. He’s already soaked, though, so he shouldn’t complain.

He flips the driver off anyway.

Joshua Atkinson. Born 4th of August 1989, in Tingley, West Yorkshire.

Louis walks faster, focusing on the patterns on the wet pavement. Breathe, clear your head, breathe.

Married.

Louis needs to pay rent. "Rent, need to pay rent," he mumbles, vaguely registering that he passes another pedestrian the exact moment he decides to talk to himself. "Rent. Due in, um-"

One year old son.

He squeezes his eyes shut. When is rent due? "Two weeks." Inhale, exhale. Pavement. Stomped out cigarette. He’s almost at the door.

Two dogs.

"Rent’s due in two weeks." Unlock door. Staircase. "Need money." Shit, he’s broke.

Died in a fight outside his father’s bar when he was-

"Fuck," Louis breathes, closing the door behind himself. "Fuck," he says again, realizing what he just did. He scrambles his mind to figure out what happened to Joshua, how long he was in the Underworld, what deal he made. But it’s just… Blank.

He turns to lean his back against it, just for a second to get his breath back, but…

"Where the hell have you been, you plonker!" Liam approaches him at super human speed, pulling out something from his pocket. "You see this? You know what this is for?"

"A… phone?" Louis answers carefully.

"Did you hear that, Niall?" Liam tosses over his shoulder, before facing Louis again. "A phone! It’s amazing, really, how this little thing right here is actually really bloody helpful in case your flatmate goes missing and you’re panicking because you have no idea where he could be and you called Harry but he wasn’t picking up-"

"Liam, Liam," Louis interrupts. "Calm down. I sent you a text yesterday, didn’t I? Got a new phone and everything now."

"No, you didn’t," Liam insists, but scrolls through his phone nevertheless. Louis taps his foot impatiently, crossing his arms. When Liam’s jaw goes slack, Louis raises an eyebrow at him.

"Told you," Louis says, pushing past Liam. "You worry too much."

"I do not!" Liam exclaims, stomping after Louis into the living room.

"Alright, mate?" Niall asks from the couch, eyes not leaving the telly. There’s a duvet and some pillows laying messily around him, so he probably stayed the night. Judging by what time it is, and the paleness to Niall’s skin, Louis guesses he’s been up all night playing video games. "We’re making mac and nachos with meatballs later. You up for it?"

Louis scrunches his nose. "I think I’ll pass. I’m just here to pack some clothes."

"Louis," Liam whines from behind him. "We haven’t hung out properly in like… Forever. Have dinner with us, please?"

"We had dinner on Friday," Louis points out. "And I’m… busy," Louis says, shifting on his legs.

Liam is giving Louis the puppy eye look now, lip pouting and everything. "But Niall’s making mac and nachos with meatballs."

"So I’ve heard," Louis answers while eyeing his flatmate, slightly annoyed. "Dinner is in ten hours, though, Liam. I’ve got shit to do. And you’ve got to go to work, yeah?"

Liam’s about to reply, but is interrupted when there’s a knock on the door. He frowns, and turns away from Louis to go and open the door.

"I hope Liam remembered to return that pasta machine from that creepy woman upstairs," Niall says, while violently pushing the buttons on his controller. "Or else I’ll have to eat dinner by myself tonight."

Louis doesn’t know why that sentence gives him goosebumps, but it did. Either that, or he’s getting a cold from walking around in the rain without a coat.

He glances behind himself, to see who’s at the door, and… Okay.

Neither the sentence, nor a cold, then.

"Zayn?" Louis asks, walking over to where the god is standing stock still in the door opening, staring at Liam with wide eyes like he’s never seen a human before. The door is swaying slightly back and forth, as if there’s a draught.

Louis hurries over to the door to still it, beckoning Zayn to come in. Zayn doesn’t move, though, eyes still on Liam, making the fabric of the latter’s shirt dance in the wind. Jesus.

"Zayn!" Louis says, gaining his attention.

"Um," Zayn says, stepping inside. "Hello, I’m Zayn," he says, making no move to shake Liam’s hand. Not that Liam has his outstretched or anything, because he’s just as gobsmacked as Louis was the first time he met Zayn. If not more.

"Hi," Liam says.

Louis closes the door. "What are you doing here? It’s early."

"I like your socks," Zayn says, smiling down at Liam’s feet. "Red is one of my favorite colours."

"Thanks," Liam says bashfully, smiling back.

"For fucks sake," Louis says, rolling his eyes. He snaps his fingers in front of the god’s face, finally making him face him. "Did you follow me here?"

"Yes," Zayn says. "Balder called me to tell me that I need to keep an eye on you in case-"

"Okay!" Louis exclaims, laughing awkwardly, patting Liam on his back when he frowns in question.  Is Zayn always this blunt? He’s a god for crying out loud, and should know better than to blow up a full storm at the sight of his flatmate. "Kitchen? Tea?"

Louis turns on his heel, fully expecting the god to follow him. He hears some murmuring behind himself, and Liam’s shy laughter. Louis’ gonna kill Zayn.

Louis’ also gonna kill Balder, because he swore on his life to not tell anyone. Well, not tell any demigods, but Zayn is basically a part of the squad. Same difference.

He’s pleased to find the kettle filled up and still boiling hot, and takes out two cups of the cupboard. Zayn enters the kitchen shortly after, heading straight to the fridge.

"D’you have any yoghurts? ‘m starving," he mumbles while rummaging through the fridge.

"There’s a banana in there somewhere," Louis answers, going to lock the doors to the kitchen. Niall gives Louis a suspicious look just before the door is closet. There’ll be questions later, then. Fuck.

"You’re not supposed to put bananas in the fridge, you know? Ruins the taste or something," Zayn says, already peeling his banana.

Louis goes to fill up the teacups, while Zayn plops down beside the breakfast table, his chair creaking over the tiles. "Did you want tea or not?"

"Nah, I’m good," Zayn mumbles through a mouthful. "Is he single?"

"What?"

"Your mate," Zayn says. "He’s cute."

Louis gives the god one murderous look before sitting down in the seat across from him. "Don’t you fucking dare."

Zayn just smirks, and Louis wants to chuck his tea in his face. He can’t do that yet, though. Not until Zayn has told him why he’s here.

"What did Balder tell you?" Louis asks.

"Just that you were about to do something stupid," Zayn shrugs. "Also, we’re gonna need your flat."

Louis frowns. "My flat? For what?"

"The demigods need a new place, and I don’t want them in my flat," Zayn says, finishing off his banana. "They’re messy and loud. Anyway, what is the stupid thing you’re doing?"

"No, no, no," Louis interrupts. "One thing at a time, yeah? I can’t fit twenty demigods in here, Zayn. It’s a two bedroom flat! And aren’t you forgetting my flatmate? The human?"

"Think of something," Zayn says, shrugging. "It’s only temporary until they find another place. Chill."

"Chill?" Louis asks, baffled. "For a god you’re damn stupid, you know."

"I specialize in the west wind, not hotels."

"About that," Louis says, leaning forward. "What the hell was that out there, with your powers, huh? Did you not think Liam would notice?"

Zayn looks away, like he’s trying to hide a blush. "Um."

Louis raises a brow, waiting.

"Sometimes I just… Get overwhelmed."

Louis honks out laughing, startling the god. "An- airection, or?"

"You’re starting to sound like Harry," Zayn grumbles. "And it’s not like that."

"Better not be," Louis threatens. "Find someone your own age."

"Funny," Zayn says drily. "Back to the stupid thing."

Louis slurps his tea. "Can’t tell you."

"For fuck’s sake, Louis," Zayn sighs. "If a son of Ares comes to me, telling me he’s worried someone he couldn’t give two shits about is about to do something stupid and dangerous, I can’t just ignore it."

Louis doesn’t answer, and continues sipping his tea.

"Louis."

"Just trust me, alright? It’s not dangerous, promise," Louis says. "And there’s nothing you, or Balder, or anyone can say to stop me. So just… Drop it."

"Thing is, though, Louis," Zayn starts, leaning forward a bit. "If this has anything to do with any gods, I can’t help you when it all goes to shit."

"If," Louis corrects.

"So it has something to do with the gods, then," Zayn says, scowling at Louis like he’s forgotten to do his homework.

"I know what I’m doing."

"Just remember," Zayn resigns. "I can’t help you. I may be an ally to the demigods, but I can’t afford to piss off the gods. Not when I’ll probably be around for a thousand more years."

"Good, I don’t need your help," Louis says. "Just don’t tell Harry, alright?"

"Alright. I won’t."

They sit in silence for a moment, Louis finishing off his tea while Zayn is worrying his bottom lip. The god is probably coming up with worst case scenarios as to what Louis’ planning to do. Louis won’t deny it; worst case scenario is exactly what he’s doing.

Louis’ about rise from his seat to take his empty teacup over to the sink, but just then he gets an awful feeling in his chest, like his ribcage has shrunk two sizes, and his lungs are filled with gravel, weighing him down.

He’s cold.

Louis looks at Zayn, trying to see if maybe it’s his powers that’s fucking with his head. But he doesn’t get anything from the god. Zayn’s never been dead.

"You alright?" Zayn asks, tilting his head a bit. "You’re pale, mate."

"Something’s not right," Louis hears himself say over the ringing in his ears. Carefully, he plants his hands against the table, leaning against it, scared he’ll black out any moment.

There’s something he needs to do.

Almost mechanically, Louis starts moving, walking out of the kitchen and leaving the door open behind himself. His skin is warm now, almost too warm, like he has a fever. Sweat is pricking the surface of his skin.

"Louis!" He hears Zayn call behind him, followed by his steps, but Louis keeps on walking. He’s running out of time.

The door to Mr. Henderson’s flat is locked when Louis tries the door handle. "Get this open."

"No," Zayn says, bewildered. "You can’t just walk in there. What’s going on?"

Louis ignores him, and takes matters into his own hands by kicking the door with all his might. He tries again. And again. "Fuck!" He has to get inside. "Don’t just fucking stand there, Zayn, help me."

Zayn hesitates for a moment, and Louis couldn’t give one flying fuck about what Zayn thinks of him right now. Louis has to get inside. Now.

"On three then," Zayn sighs, lining himself up beside Louis, eyes on the door. "One, two, three!"

The door slams open, and Louis hurries inside, towards the heat. Towards the smell. "Do you smell that?"

"I do," Zayn says, his footstep now urgent behind Louis’.

"Louis?" He hears Liam call from somewhere outside the flat. "What’s going on?"

Louis ignores him, focusing on the task at hand. "Kitchen," he mumbles to himself, eyes scanning the area. His gaze lands on his neighbor, who’s snoring like a chainsaw on the couch, smoke crawling around him like thunder clouds.

"Shit, call someone, Zayn. Get help," Louis stresses out, hurrying towards the source of the smoke.  He has to cover his mouth and nose the minute he steps into the kitchen, and thinks better of it when he sees how fast the flames have spread, and heads back towards the living room.

"Mr. Henderson," Louis yells, shaking the sleeping man’s shoulders. "Your bloody kitchen is on fire!"

 

 

Well.

At least it’s stopped raining, now. Even the sun is up, making the wet pavement glimmer like stars. So… things could be worse.

"Unbelievable. I’m late for work, I haven’t brushed my teeth, and we’ve been kicked out of our own home. Where the fuck are we supposed stay now?" Liam asks, bouncing on his heels while mournfully looking up at the building. "The smoke didn’t even spread to our flat, it’s unfair."

Louis’ joined Niall and Zayn on a little patch of grass by the road, and has been smoking like a chimney every since the firetruck arrived. He probably shouldn’t, given he got enough smoke down his lungs up in Mr. Henderson’s flat.

Poor Mr. Henderson.

"At least everyone got out okay," Louis says. "And it won’t be for longer than a few days, Li. We could check into a hotel or summat, yeah?"

"The family that lives above us was allowed back inside," Liam complains. "This is bullshit."

"Well, Li," Louis says, rolling his eyes. "At least we’re hanging out now."

Zayn has been eyeing Louis warily ever since they got out of the building, knowing he can’t ask Louis about what the fuck happened up there. Louis’ not really sure himself.

He got that same feeling in his chest as when he senses previously-dead-people, or whatever the fuck they’re called. The same cold feeling, the same flashing through his chest, the itching in his veins - like he’s forgotten something, like the words are at the tip of his tongue.

What was this, then? Mr. Henderson hasn’t been dead before - Louis made sure to check as he shook him awake earlier.

But what if…

Louis stumps his cigarette and starts typing on his phone, forgetting he doesn’t have Zayn’s number memorized and curses quietly to himself while searching for the notepad app.

Niall is laying between Louis and the god on the grass, arm slung over his eyes to shield them from the sun. It wouldn’t surprise Louis if he’s fallen asleep in the midst of all the chaos. Louis wishes he could do that, as well.

Can I predict death? Louis writes, and hands his phone to Zayn.

A moment later, Zayn gives Louis his phone back. Just below his own note there’s a new one.

Not unlikely.

Frustratedly, Louis drags his hands through his hair. So, now what? He’s gonna start getting these creepy ass visions every time someone is close to death? He doesn’t like this one bit.

Zayn must sense Louis’ discomfort, because a moment later he carefully takes Louis’ phone out of his hands, and starts typing again.

You might have prevented it. This is good, the note says.

"Well, lads," Niall jollily says, so sudden Louis almost jumps in the air from where he’s seated. "I’m gonna head home."

"Home?" Louis asks, frowning up at Niall when he stands.

Niall stretches, peeking up at the building. "Obviously the party’s over here, so. You coming, or?"

"To your place?" Louis asks in surprise, seeing Liam staring at Niall with an unbelieving expression as well. Niall is supposed to be homeless. At least that’s what they all thought.

"Yeah?" Niall says. "Where else are you lads gonna stay? I probably owe you, anyway."

"Um," is all Louis replies.

"I’ll have Howard pick us up. Mysterious guy, you coming?" Niall asks, directing the question at Zayn, while fishing his phone out of his pocket.

"Howard?" Louis and Liam ask simultaneously.

"My driver," Niall shrugs, holding the phone to his ear.

Liam squats down in front of Louis, and hisses in his ear. "I thought you said Niall was a tramp, you tit."

 

 

Niall’s place is fucking enormous.

Louis, Zayn, and Liam were squeezed together in the backseat on their way here, while Niall was giddily chatting with Howard the Driver, oblivious to the other boy’s gobsmacked faces. Zayn had cleared his throat awkwardly the whole ride, and Louis’ not sure if it was because of the car ride itself, or the fact that his thighs were pressed against Liam’s.

The driver wore a fucking suit.

The windows were tinted.

Now, the four of them are sitting around Niall’s Italian designer breakfast table eating cereal, listening to the chandelier clinging along with the draught.

"You’re fucking rich," Liam says again, for the fifth time since they got here, poking at an ugly glass vase in the middle of the table.

"You probably shouldn’t touch that," Niall comments. "It’s a Loetz."

"A what?"

Niall shrugs. "Old as hell."

Louis’ feels like he’s underdressed. He’s also unsure whether or not he should touch the spoon he’s been handed. It looks like it’s carved in silver.

From the outside, Niall’s mansion looks like something taken straight out of a history book on baroque arts. From the inside, though, it’s like a bloody art museum - statues, paintings, expensive-looking carpets.  Louis’ positive he saw a Monet hanging on the wall in the entry hall.

Despite all this, it looks really fucking modern, almost futuristic. The walls, floors and ceilings are all white, while the furnitures are in either black, or in chrome-like colours. On their way into the kitchen, they passed a wall that had been cut out in the middle and replaced with an aquarium filled with tropical fish.

"I have so many questions," Louis murmurs, gaze flicking around the room. "You live here by yourself?"

Niall snorts. "Of course not. My parents live here. I just like staying here while they’re away."

"So you have another mansion?" Liam asks, baffled.

"I have a loft," Niall shrugs. "But I’ve rented it out in the meantime."

Louis frowns. "How long are your parents away for?"

"Dunno," Niall answers around a spoonful of cereal. "The longer the better, to be honest. I love it here."

It’s quiet for a moment. Louis doesn’t really know what to say to all of this. So… Niall’s parents have been rich as fuck this whole time, and Niall thinks it’s no big deal at all. But Louis guesses it’s kind of like the same thing as when Harry talks about gods and monsters like they’re no big deal. They’re used to the unusual.

"Can I talk to you for a moment?" Zayn asks from Louis’ left.

Louis nods, holding back a polite excuse as he leaves the table. This mansion is too damn posh.

The two of them walk out back to the entry hall, too afraid they might get lost if they go somewhere else.

"Weird coincidence, don’t you think?" Zayn asks, crossing his arms.

"Yeah, Niall’s a bloody hero. Can’t afford a hotel if I’m being honest," Louis answers, peeking up the staircase. It has a balcony on the top, of course. Can’t have a mansion without a bloody balcony in the entry hall.

"I’m not talking about Niall," Zayn says. "I mean the fire. The evacuation. Nothing in this world is coincidental, you know? It’s all up to the Fates."

"The Fates?" Louis asks. "Aren’t those the ones that cut the string when someone dies, or summat? Those old people that are missing an eye."

"Yeah, in the Disney classic." Zayn rolls his eyes. "The Fates are pretty self explanatory. According to the history books, they decide a persons fate. Whether they’ll be a good person, a bad person, when they die and so on. But they can also fuck with fate, you know. Manipulate what has already been decided, make little tweaks here and there. I suspect they did that to your neighbor."

"They made him forget to turn his stove off?" Louis deadpans. "C’mon Zayn, lots of people forget to turn their stove off."

"Not all people are neighbors with the son of Hades, though," Zayn points out.

Louis mocks a laugh. "How does that make any sense? What is the point? So I would have to move out of the flat for a few days? And besides, no one even knows I’m the son of Hades apart from you and… Yeah, Balder as well, by the way."

"You told Balder?" Zayn exclaims, horrified.

"He tried to kill me, what else was I supposed to do?" Louis defends.

"You could have let him," Zayn says, like it’s obvious. "Your father would’ve just brought you back."

Louis huffs. "Yeah, because that wouldn’t look suspicious at all."

Zayn pinches the bridge of his nose, clearly annoyed. "Anyway," he says, exhaling deeply. "The Fates would know about you, given they’re the ones that decided how long you’re staying in this world."

"Okay," Louis says, shifting a bit on his legs, confused to where Zayn is going with this. "Should I be worried, or?"

"The Fates are minor gods," Zayn says.

"Oh," is all Louis can answer.

"And my theory is that they were hoping to get you out of the flat for some reason. But thing is, they’re not allowed to share information about fate - or in your case who your father is - to other gods without a price. Not even the Big Three. So I’m not really sure what’s going on," Zayn says, eyebrows pinched together in thought.

Louis hasn’t really been sure about what has been going on for quite a while, and it doesn’t feel any different this time around, either.

 

 

Are you alright? Thought you would be back by now. -H.

Louis sighs, and types out a short reply, telling Harry he probably won’t be back until later this afternoon. He feels like such a shit, for not being there with Harry with all that’s going on.

Thing is, he promised Niall to stay for dinner, as a thank you for getting to stay here while Mr. Henderson's flat is being detoxed - or whatever the fuck they are doing there, - as long as they moved dinner to 3pm.

Zayn’s still here, as well, chatting with Liam, assuring him that he won’t lose his job for missing one day of work, patting his knee and everything. In other words, he’s flirting.

"Aren’t you supposed to be somewhere?" Louis asks the god, poison dripping from his tongue.

Zayn gives Louis a half-cheeky smile, and gently grabs Liam’s wrist to get a better view of his watch. "I am, actually," he sighs apologetically. "I need to tell Balder they can’t stay at your flat, after all."

Liam shoots Louis a questioningly look.

"Balder’s a mate," Louis assures Liam, and Liam nods slowly. "And like I said Zayn, there wouldn’t be room for twenty people in our flat anyway."

"Twenty people?" Liam gasps.

Just then, Niall walks into the room, clapping his hands together. "Are we throwing a party?" He asks.

"I wish," Zayn says, raising from his seat. "I’m just trying to find a place for some friends of mine to stay. Um… Their- um, kitchen burnt down as well."

Louis rolls his eyes.

"Really?" Niall asks, frowning. "Strange. Must be something in the air this morning."

"Must be," Zayn says, smiling tightly. "But yeah, I’ll see you around," Zayn says, eyes landing on Louis. "Behave."

"Always," Louis grins.

"Wait," Niall says, making Zayn turn back around. "Your friends are welcome to stay here. I mean… My house is pretty huge."

"You don’t say," Louis mumbles under his breath.

"That’s a… great idea actually," Zayn says, shooting Louis a look.

And Louis knows what he means. It’s big enough for everyone, for one. It’s also away from the city, hidden inconspicuously between a shitload of planted trees. It’s kind of perfect, actually.

"Great," Niall says, eyes glinting. "I can’t wait to meet them."

 

 

They didn’t think this through at all.

Twenty demigods, one of them being the son of Hades, and two very human boys sharing a mansion in the middle of nowhere in the midst of a demigods versus minor gods war? Louis’ intentions were to keep Liam and Niall out of this mess, but the thought of moving the demigods to a safer place was louder than the thought of keeping his mates safe.

What a bloody mess.

Too late for second thoughts now, though, as they’re all packed in the back of a bus on their way to Niall’s mansion. Louis’ sitting next to Harry, watching the latter’s knee bounce up and down. He hasn’t said a word the whole trip, has just been watching the landscape pass by outside the window.

"You alright?" Louis murmurs, only loud enough for the two of them to hear.

"Yeah, yeah," Harry assures. "It’s just strange leaving the safe house behind, is all."

"It’s only for a few days," Louis says.

Harry turns to look Louis in the eyes now. "Then what? It’s not like we can go back to the safe house."

Louis rests his head against his seat. "I’m sure Niall won’t kick you out if you need to stay a while longer. It’ll be fine."

As long as Louis’ plan will work, they’ll all be fine.

Even Louis, in the end. Hopefully.

 

 

"It’s… big," Harry comments, setting down his bag by the foot of the bed.

"Yeah," Louis says, watching Harry. Normally he would probably be in awe of the room, but right now the only thing that awes Louis is how the sunlight is softly hitting the right side of Harry’s face, shadowing his left side. He looks like a portrait, only more beautiful. Not even the Monet down in the entry hall could outshine him.

"I snore sometimes," Louis hears himself say.

"I’ll be sure to plug my ears in then," Harry says, meeting Louis’ gaze.

Believe it or not, Niall didn’t have twenty bedrooms. Everyone had to pair up. And no, it was neither Louis’, nor Harry’s idea to share a room. That was on Niall, the little shit. "You two get on well, why don’t you share the master bedroom?" He’d said cheekily, in front of all the other demigods, making Louis’ cheeks burn.

"I won’t mind," Harry had said, giving Louis the softest of smiles.

So that was that.

"I can, um, sleep on the couch instead, if the snoring is, um, an issue," Louis stutters, awkwardly pointing his thumb in the wrong direction of the living room. "I mean, um, it’s not chainsaw-loud or anything. More like um, an annoying dripping sort of sound. I think, I mean, at least that’s what Liam told me-"

"It’s alright," Harry assures. "I’m not gonna let you sleep on the couch again."

"Okay."

"Alright."

 

 

The rest of the day goes by peacefully. Neither Liam nor Niall has really asked any questions as to how the fuck Louis knows all these people, and where they all come from. They have, however, raised an eyebrow at him every now and then. Louis just shrugs it off, praying the demigods will stay as normal as possible throughout their stay here.

It’s not like the demigods are unable to act normal. They just tend to discuss topics that aren’t all that… Human. So Louis would appreciate it if talk about minor gods and monsters and whatnot can be kept away from his poor human friends.

Luckily Niall and Liam get on well with some of the demigods here, especially Niall. Liam had come up to Louis earlier to ask whether Zayn would come back soon. Louis had answered by snarling.

It’s getting darker outside, and Niall has made enough mac and nachos with meatballs for everyone, and it actually tastes… Pretty damn good. Louis makes a mental note to ask Niall for the recipe.

Even Harry manages to finish his entire bowl, despite his constant sadness, frustration, or anger. Louis’ not really sure how Harry’s really feeling today. Hasn’t dared to ask, scared it’ll just make everything worse. He should ask, though, at least let Harry know that Louis’ willing to listen. But right now, Louis kind of wants to brighten the mood a bit.

He wishes he could just tell Harry that Gemma will be alright, that Louis has a plan. He hates seeing Harry like this. It’s weird how it was only yesterday Louis was sitting cross-legged on Harry’s carpet, and Harry was being his usual goofy self.

"Knock, knock," Louis says, breaking the silence between the two of them.

Harry shoves his bowl away, and rests his elbows on the table, giving Louis his full attention. "Who’s there?"

"Etch," Louis says, pressing his lips tight together. He can’t believe he’s doing this.

"Etch who?" Harry asks.

"Bless you."

Harry sputters a laugh, hiding his mouth behind a hand. "That’s terrible. I love it."

"It really is terrible," Louis says, smiling when Harry’s smile grows wider.

"Knock, knock," Harry says, then, a sly smirk playing on his lips.

"Who’s there?"

"Mikey."

"Mikey who?"

Harry is already laughing at his own joke. "Mikey won’t fit in the keyhole,"

Louis can’t help but laugh, but it’s not because of the joke - which he’s heard a million times before. He hates these jokes, honestly, but he would probably exchange a hundred more knock knock jokes with Harry, if it meant he’d keep that smile on his face.

And so the two of them sit there, long after the other demigods have scattered to somewhere else, exchanging terrible knock knock jokes. Terrible knock knock jokes turn into riddles, and riddles turn into stories. Harry tells stories from his childhood, involving old friends, his mum and his sister. He talks so fondly about them, and is smiling all the way through.

It’s good that he has all these nice memories to share, that he’s not shutting off completely. That’s what Louis did after his grandma passed, while everyone around him kept sharing memories. Louis had just felt so devastated, and not in the mood to talk about all the good moments he’d share with her. It took a while before he opened back up again, at least. But now it feels good to talk about her.

So Louis tells Harry about his grandma.

Three hours later they’re both yawning, and the moon is shining brightly in through the windows.

"We should get some sleep," Louis says, standing from his chair.

Niall had lent both Louis and Liam some clothes, given they were barely allowed to bring their shoes with them on their way out of the flat, and Louis quickly changes into his pyjama bottoms while Harry’s in the bathroom, and crawls under the duvet.

The bed is big enough to fit three people easily, but Louis is still nervous. It’s not like he hasn’t shared a bed with anyone before. Thing is, he’s never shared a bed with someone that makes the butterflies in his stomach go absolutely wild. Hasn’t shared a bed with someone he’d like to hold, but can’t.

Harry enters the room, quietly closing the door behind himself.

"Hey," Louis says, shifting around in the bed, pretending to find a more comfortable positing even though he’s actually trying to make the situation less awkward.

"Sorry, didn’t mean to wake you," Harry says.

"I wasn’t asleep," Louis says.

"Oh," Harry lingers for a moment. It’s only now that Louis notices that Harry is standing half-naked in the middle of the room, only wearing his pants. Louis swallows thickly, willing his eyes too look at the ceiling instead. "Good, then. Do you mind if we sleep with the window open?"

"No, not at all," Louis answers, when in fact Louis gets cold easily, and does mind. He won’t tell Harry that, though, of course. Because he’s a bloody idiot.

The sound of the window cracking open makes Louis realize just how quiet it is in the room. He wraps the duvet closer around his body, bracing himself for the cold. The bed dips a moment later to Louis’ right, and Louis curls his toes, makes himself smaller.

"Good night, Lou," Harry says quietly in the dark.

"Good night, Haz," Louis answers, willing himself to shut his eyes, and breathe like a normal person.

"Haz," Harry comments a moment later.

Shit. "Uh…"

"I don’t mind," Harry says quietly, turning around to face Louis. Louis’ still staring at the ceiling, though, unsure whether or not it’s a good idea to face Harry as well. He decides against it.

"Gemma calls me Haz sometimes," Harry murmurs. His breath is softly hitting the side of Louis’ face, and Louis struggles to hide the slight shiver it gives him.

"Yeah?"

Harry hums a reply, and a few minutes later, he’s snoring softly.

"You snore as well," Louis whispers quietly, smiling to himself.

Chapter Text

Louis has never really been much of a film geek. Sure, he watches a shit load of films, even went as far as calling Notting Hill a ‘motion picture’ instead of a ‘film’ once. He was really high then, but he sure did appreciate the art of standard cinematography for a standard rom-com.

That being said, he’s never taken the time to really dive any deeper into the art of film making. To be quite honest he finds it extremely annoying when he watches a film with Niall and he keeps going on and on about camera angles and shitty dialogue. Louis’ a simple guy; he puts the film on, watches it, then forgets about it.

It’s just past 9am, and the sun is hanging low on the sky, painting the room in warm colours. Specks of dust are flying about, creating little whirlwinds every time they get close to a new surface. It’s like they’re unable to settle down - or maybe they’re afraid of landing.

Louis’ freezing cold, and kind of wants to get up and close the window, but doesn’t want to wake Harry. So instead, he lies there quietly, listening to the birds sing, and Harry’s breathing.

It’s calming to watch how his chest moves up and down, so heavily that the entire bed shifts a bit with each breath. Sunlight is slowly, but surely, creeping up the young demigods’ arm, threatening to spill over.

If Harry wasn’t asleep, Louis wouldn’t be watching him like he is now. He never knew Harry had freckles, but there they are; small freckles, just barely visible, littering his nose. He must’ve been out in the sun a lot this summer.

Right now, it feels like Louis’ watching one of those artsy ass films - the ones that should’ve gotten way more attention. Those that play with the lighting, those with unconventional camera angles, and a slight shake to the picture. Those that catch the inconspicuous sounds; like the clinking of pans down at the kitchen, cars driving by in the faraway distance, how the house creaks because it’s getting older. Those that take your breath away, by how intimate and personal they feel. Those that leaves you in stunned silence when the end credits roll.

And it’s really fucking beautiful.

Louis wants nothing more, really, than to lie right here and forget about everything that’s going on outside these four walls. In a different world, he’d lie closer to the other boy. In a different world, he’d be an annoying shit, and blow on his eyelashes until he’d wake up.

Maybe that world isn’t so far away. If everything goes as planned, they can finally be at peace, and the scariest thing in the world wouldn’t be to walk outside the door hoping you won’t be seen by a minor god, or the fear of losing someone you care about, or for Louis to make a deal with Hades. When all this is over, the scariest thing would be daring to hold Harry’s hand for the first time.

Louis’ nose tickles, and he has to hold his breath trying to hold back a sneeze, but the tickle is too strong and before he manages to at least turn his head away, he sneezes hard and loudly into his duvet.

Twice.

Thrice.

Harry grunts beside him. "Wha’ time is it," he mumbles, rubbing his eye.

"Sorry," Louis whispers, sniffling. "Around nine."

Harry’s eyelashes flutter open, very slowly. His pupils are blown, and are slowly shrinking inwards, getting used to the light.

Louis realizes that he’s not supposed to notice these things, and scoots a bit away from the other boy. Then he sneezes again.

"Bless you," Harry mumbles against his pillow.

Louis sniffles again. "Thanks."

"Are you getting sick or summat?" Harry asks, furrowing his brows.

It’s really fucking freezing in the room. It’s October, though, so of course it bloody is. Also, he did stump around in the rain yesterday, so yeah, he’s probably getting sick. "No."

"You sure? I mean, your voice sounds pretty hoarse," Harry comments, sitting up in bed. "Is it because I left the window open?"

"No, no," Louis says, sitting up as well. "It’ll probably pass. Did you sleep well?"

"Yeah, I did. Bed’s nice."

"Really nice," Louis agrees. Another sniffle.

Harry sighs, and slings his legs out of the bed. "Alright, you stay here. I’ll go and make you some tea."

"You don’t have to-"

"I do," Harry says. "And I’m closing this," he adds, shutting the window closed. "Do you need more pillows? An extra blanket?"

Louis fights back a smile. "Maybe an extra blanket would be nice."

"Then I’ll get it for you," Harry smiles. "See? That wasn’t so hard. And I’m gonna make you some eggs as well. So just stay there," he says, pointing at the bed. "And be sick."

Louis gives a hoarse chuckle, regretting laughing the minute he feels the pain in his throat. "I’ll stay here."

"Good," Harry says jollily, and leaves the room in only his pants.

Louis falls back into bed, and exhales loudly. He doesn’t have time for this. He can’t be sick now, when Gemma - and every single demigod out there - is in danger, and he has the chance to do something about it.

He was supposed to call his father today and ask him to meet up with him within the next few days, but Louis’ not sure Harry will let him leave the mansion in the state he’s in.

It’s not like he can’t move, but Harry is Harry. And Harry will probably tell Liam, who’s even worse when it comes to these things. Two weeks after he moved in with Liam he had the flu, and Liam made sure to check up on him every hour while at work. God forbid if Louis didn’t pick up his phone. He ignored the calls the first day, but that ended in Liam coming home from work earlier to make sure Louis hadn’t passed out on the floor somewhere.

Louis sneezes hard, and sniffles as loudly as he can now that Harry’s out of the room. "Fuck," he curses, slinging an arm over his eyes. He should have just told Harry to keep the window closed, or worn a fucking jacket.

Without meaning to, Louis falls back asleep. He wakes up feeling something warm press against his nose, and his eyes flash open.

"What are you doing?" he manages, feeling his throat have gotten sorer already.

Harry smiles down at him, eyes shining and hair wild and messy. "I booped your nose."

Louis groans. "Don’t make me laugh, Harold. Throat hurts," he says, pouting.

"Oh, and now you’re sick? Thirty minutes ago you said you were feeling fine," Harry says, spreading a blanket over Louis’ duvet.

"I didn’t think it was this bad," Louis says, sitting up in bed, smoothing out the blanket.

There’s a tray on the nightstand. Harry hasn’t only made him eggs and tea; he’s made him a proper English breakfast, the sort no one in the world has time to make on the weekdays. Sausages, both scrambled and fried eggs, beans and bacon. There’s also a slice of bread, and it wouldn't surprise Louis if Harry would’ve baked his own bread if he had more time.

"I, um, also pressed some orange juice for you," Harry says, gesturing towards the drink. "Has lots of C-vitamins. You’re gonna need it."

Louis is… Overwhelmed. No one besides his mum or Liam has ever made this sort of effort just for Louis. It fills his chest with warmth. "Thank you, Harry. ’s very nice of you."

"No worries," Harry says. "Look, I’m gonna take a shower now, but enjoy your breakfast. And get some more rest, yeah?"

"I will," Louis smiles.

Harry nods, and does that little nose scrunch of his before grabbing a towel. "Also," Harry says, just before closing the door behind himself. "Text me when you wake up, and we’ll watch a film, yeah?"

"Yeah," Louis says. "I really, um- yeah. I like films."

"Good," Harry says, flashing Louis the brightest of smiles before leaving.

 

 

Louis’ wrapped up in his duvet at Niall’s fancy leather couch, sitting up like a snowman. It’s quite uncomfortable, but he’s holding off a seat for when Harry returns with their popcorn.

Niall’s spread out on the other couch, chewing loudly on leftover mac and nachos, no meatballs this time. He complained about the missing meatballs for ten minutes straight, giving Louis a worse headache than he already had. Louis had suggested putting more cheese on it, and drown it in whatever he could find in the fridge. Niall happily accepted the challenge, and his meatballs have now successfully been replaced with jam.

It’s looks fucking disgusting.

"I might have been a bit too enthusiastic about the salt," Harry says, entering the entertainment room. Yes, Niall was very specific about what the different rooms are called. There’s the living room, lounge room, tea room, and the entertainment room. The only entertaining thing about this room is the carnivorous plant by the windowsill, if Louis’ being quite honest. It bit Harry’s finger earlier.

Niall groans hungrily. "I love salt. Can’t get enough of it," he says, grabbing a handful of popcorn out of the bowl before Harry has a chance to put it down on the table.

"Are you always this hungry?" Harry asks with genuine curiosity.

"Nah, mate," Niall says around a mouthful. "It’s a myth. You just keep catching me at the wrong time is all."

Louis rolls his eyes from where he’s sitting, but of course that triggers a sneeze. "Fuck," he rasps.

Harry plops down beside him, poking him in the shoulder. "Why are you so stiff? You should put your feet up."

"Um, no?" Niall condemns. "That table is handmade especially for my mum, alright? No feeties on the table."

Louis groans, and lets his feet keep dangling off the edge.

"Here," Harry says, patting his lap.

Louis blinks.

"Your legs," Harry explains, as if Louis’ hammering heart didn’t understand what he meant the first time. Without giving Louis a chance to decline the offer, Harry bends down and lifts Louis’ legs off the edge of the couch, spinning him ninety degrees around until his legs are resting on Harry’s thighs.

"Put these behind your head," Harry orders, giving Louis a couple of cushions.

Louis dumbly obliges.

"What film are we watching?" Niall asks.

Louis closes his eyes for this bit, waiting patiently for Harry and Niall to agree on a film. Thankfully it only takes them five minutes to find something to watch; some obscure indie film starring who the fuck knows.

"What’s it about?" Louis rasps from his corner, fluffing up the cushions behind his head some more.

A loud gasp from the two other boys is what he gets as a reply.

"What?" Louis asks, rolling his eyes. "Christ, Niall, I’m not completely useless about films, alright? I watched all those Cubic films with you, didn’t I?"

Niall looks shocked. Harry looks amused.

"First of all, it’s Kubrick, not Cubic, you tit," Niall says. "And who the fuck hasn’t heard of Requiem for a Dream? Have you even lived? This friendship is on pause until further notice."

"Yikes," Harry comments under his breath, widening his eyes in a mocking gesture. "Better pay attention, then, Lou."

Louis does pay attention, and he enjoys the first ten minutes of the film. But then, Harry rests his hand on top of Louis’ legs, and Louis’ focus shifts to the electricity that shoots through his body at the touch.

Every time Harry’s hand shifts even an inch, Louis loses his focus on the film.

Then, after another forty minutes, a feather light touch to his ankle throws him out of the plot, yet again. Louis chances a quick glance towards his feet, only for a second. He tries to hold back a jerk when he sees Harry drawing small, soothing circles with his fingers just over the tattoo he’s got on his ankle.

He got the triangle tattooed just after he broke up with his last boyfriend. The one that claimed to love him, and the one Louis claimed to love back. They never really loved each other, though. They were just two boys, feeling alone in a world filled with hatred and fear towards what was seen as different, and they made each other feel less alone.

Louis knew that he didn’t need a boyfriend just to feel like he wasn’t alone, though. He didn’t need another man to tell him he was worth something. Just before the break-up, Louis knew that at the end of the day, the only person who could make him feel at peace with himself, was himself. And he didn’t want anyone to take that away from him.

So he got the little triangle tattooed, as a symbol that he was proud of who he is, regardless of what other people thought. If people thought ill of him, he would roll his jeans up further, making sure the tattoo would always be visible.

It hurt like hell getting it, though.

"Watch this," Niall says, pointing at the screen. "One of the most famous scenes in film history, that. They made the actors use like this belt thingy with a- a tripod, is that what its called?"

Harry nods, not taking his eyes off the screen, nor letting his fingers slip from Louis’ ankle.

"Anyway, yeah, so like the actors had the camera in their face the whole way through- look!" Niall exclaims. "Look at him running! If that was me I would’ve fallen over, I’m tellin’ ya. Cameras are heavy as hell. Or did they use a GoPro? Nah GoPro’s didn’t exist back then, did they?"

Louis tunes out Niall’s rambling, and locks his gaze on the telly. His mind is somewhere else, though. Light, gentle touches, like feather. Should he let Harry know he feels his touch, in some way?

Hesitantly, Louis’ starts rolling his ankle around, and Harry’s touch shifts from light to firm with each round he turns. It feels good. Calming.

The film turns into a flicker before Louis’ eyes, and he lets his eyes slip closed. His nose is starting to get stuffy rather than runny, and his mouth gapes open, letting the air he breathes turn the roof of his mouth into sand.

 

 

It’s raining, raining, raining. Heavily; the sound of raindrops crashing against the asphalt like a thousand soldiers’ raging march. A fog settles over the horizon, blocking the view of the sun. Darker, darker, until the only source of light left is a single flickering lightbulb hovering by itself high on the sky.

Light. Dark. Light. Dark, goes the lightbulb, ticking like a clock. You’re running out of time, you’re running out of time.

Louis has to fix it. He can’t let the lightbulb die out. He can’t let the world go dark.

So the demigod starts running towards the lightbulb, knowing there’s no way he can reach it when it’s so far out of reach. But he’s got to try. The raindrops are falling more rapidly now, the sound of thunder roaring to life in the faraway distance. It’s closing in, you’re running out of time.

Turning his head back, Louis gazes up at the flickering lightbulb. His throat is raw, his muscles are sore. With a whimper, Louis’ legs buckle beneath him. He can’t move, he can’t speak. The only thing he can do is to let his gaze rest on the dying light above him.

Suddenly, the world goes dark, and a moment later, there’s a deafening sound of glass crashing against concrete.

 

 

Louis jumps awake, clawing at his duvet, desperate to get it off. He’s gasping for air, ignoring how it’s making his throat burn, and scratches at his arms to make sure he’s awake.

"Mate," Niall says worriedly from somewhere in the room.

"Shit," Louis breathes, burying his face in his hands, trying to get his breath back. The flickering of the telly makes him anxious; he hasn’t quite managed to shake the dream just yet.

"Are you alright?" Harry murmurs, and a moment later a warm hand encircles his wrist.

Louis nods his head as a response.

"Bad dream?" Harry asks.

"Yeah," Louis whispers.

"I’ll go and get you something to drink," Harry says, and gives Louis’ wrist one final rub before the sound of his footsteps disappears into the kitchen.

"Another nightmare?" Niall asks, and Louis’ not sure whether his tone is critical or concerned. "Liam said you had one the other day as well. You don’t get them a lot, do you?"

Louis looks up, rubbing at his eyes. "Yeah, no," he rasps. "I got them a lot when I was younger, but… I don’t know."

Niall sits up straighter. "How bad are they?"

Louis just shrugs. "Not that bad. I’m alright."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah," Louis nods, and gives the other boy an encouraging smile for good measure.

Niall hums satisfied, but Louis can see that his eyes are still wary.

Louis’ scared to shit, if he’s being honest. Nightmares was something he managed to grow out of before he turned sixteen, and he - and his mum - had hoped it would stay that way. There was never an explanation for his nightmares, but his mum had suggested it might come from stress - going through puberty and all that kind of stuff.

He’s got to admit that he’s been… Really fucking stressed these past few weeks. It would only make sense that his mind would yell at him to chill the fuck out.

Harry reenters the room, and hands Louis a glass of water after plopping down beside him.

"Thanks," Louis rasps, and takes a few careful sips. He’s very much aware of how close Harry is sitting, how cautious he’s being, how gentle. Louis’ pulse had just gone back to normal, but with Harry’s gaze boring into his own, it’s hard to keep his heart in check.

"Better?" Harry asks.

Louis’ about to answer, but just then he start coughing harshly, and he sounds like a bloody sheep with a potato stuck in its throat. It fucking hurts.

"There you are!" A gleeful voice says from the door, and Louis looks up with tears clogging up his vision, hammering his fist against his chest to make the cough to away.

"Hiya, Pez," Niall greets. Of course Niall is on nickname terms with her already. Niall would probably be on nickname term with Hades, as well, if he’d have met him.

"God, Louis, are you okay?" Perrie asks, walking up to him.

"I’m great," Louis says sarcastically, voice conveniently breaking at the last word. He coughs again.

"He’s got a cold," Harry explains. "Been sneezing all day. His throat is getting worse as well." He turns back to Louis again, voice going soft. "I could go into town and get some medicine for you, if you’d like? And some honey for your tea."

"Um, hello?" Perrie pipes up accusingly. "I’m right here? You could’ve just come to me the minute you were starting to feel sick, Louis."

Louis eyes shoot open, and both he and Harry starts shaking their heads manically. "No, no," Louis insists. "Harry can go into town, yeah? Or maybe Niall? You can go, mate."

Niall scrunches his brows in confusion. "Uh, sure?"

"Relax, Lou, it’ll only take a few seconds," Perrie says, reaching out for his neck. Louis scoots away.

"Or you," Louis exclaims, quickly shooting Harry a panicked look, before looking back up at Perrie again. "Perrie, you can go into town? Bring some of the girls, yeah?"

"Relax," Perrie says again, and this time she manages to plant her palm against Louis’ neck, immediately stilling him.

"Fuck," Harry curses under his breath.

Fuck, Louis curses internally, eyes landing on a very confused Niall Horan.

Only a few seconds later, Louis throat feels fine, his nose is no longer stuffy, and the throbbing in his head has gone away. It’s like he never even had a cold to begin with.

"You’re welcome," Perrie sing-songs, straightening up. "Anyway, I came in here to ask if anyone is up for a game of football out in the garden? It’s sunny out today."

"Niall," Harry says, dragging out the syllables. "You up for it?"

At that, Perrie’s eyes widen, like she only just now realized her mistake. Louis holds back the urge to exasperatedly slap himself over the forehead.

"Shit," Perrie squeaks. "I’m just gonna… Go now. Heh," she says, waving awkwardly. "Good bye!"

And then she’s gone.

Louis wonders if Perrie got her blatantness from Zayn after spending too much time with him. Louis doesn’t want to think about how much worse Perrie would be off if they were still together.

"What the fuck was that all about?" Niall asks, chuckling. "She sure is something else, ain’t she?"

Maybe if Louis just… Doesn’t talk at all for a couple of days around Niall, he won’t notice a thing.

"Shit, mate," Niall says, then. "Your face isn’t… all puffy anymore."

Maybe if Louis just disappears altogether. Yeah, that would fix things.

"Oh," Louis says just about as Harry is about to say something else. "Perrie, yeah, she-"

"Your voice!" Niall exclaims, eyes nearly popping out of his head. "Wait, are you- are you fine again? Like-" he stumbles, shaking his head disbelieving. "Mate, that’s… fucking sorcery."

Harry sits up a bit straighter, leaning forward."Look, Niall-"

"It is," Louis interrupts, ignoring Harry’s panicked expression. "You remember that foreign documentary we watched? About that man with the healing powers?"

Niall nods, mouth agape. "The man from Snooze."

Louis doesn’t bother to correct him. "Yeah. Well, Perrie is much like him, you see. She had her own little healing clinic, kind of, before she moved to London. People in her town thought she was scamming them, and stealing all their money and stuff, so she moved here, to start fresh."

Niall nods along with Louis’ story. Harry doesn’t say a word, but Louis can feel the weight of his judging gaze on him.

"Perrie can’t cure everything, though," Louis lies. "And it’s not like… Jesus powers or anything, it’s more like acupuncture, sort of? Mixed with some stuff in her DNA and her aura and all that weird stuff. Although, most of it is just pure placebo."

Niall doesn’t say anything for a minute, just stares out into nothingness like his whole life has been a lie. Louis worries that he should have kept his explanation more vague and simple. It’s easier to lie if you keep your words at a minimum, Louis’ learned.

"Can’t believe I doubted the man from Snooze," Niall breathes. "Wow."

Louis lets out a quiet sigh of relief. "Yeah, it’s… Extraordinary, isn’t it?"

Niall nods slowly, eyes wide. "You don’t think…?"

Louis waits a few seconds before asking. "Think what?"

Niall drags a hand through his hair, chuckling quietly. "Nah, it’s stupid."

"What?" Louis urges.

A sigh, then: "My knee. You think that Perrie would be able to like- I don’t know, um, ease the pain a bit?"

Louis gives Niall a soft smile. "You could ask her."

"Really?" Niall asks hopefully, with the widest of smiles.

"Yeah, I don’t see why not," Louis answers, leaning back into his seat. "But you can’t tell anyone, Niall. Not even Liam. It’s supposed to be a secret, but I guess she slipped. If this gets out she might have to move again."

"Oh," Niall says. "I won’t tell, then. Promise."

"Good," Louis smiles, pleased. He makes a mental note to fill Perrie in on her backstory, as to avoid confusing Niall any further.

Harry doesn’t say a word.

 

 

They end up playing a game of football after all. Or Niall and Louis do, while Harry sits himself down in the grass by the sidelines to watch instead, after telling Louis that he’s shit at footie. Louis argued for a minute about how shit Niall is as well, and how that didn’t stop the Irish one from joining the game. Niall had then proceeded to slap Louis in the back of the head.

Harry didn’t even smile.

Louis gets it, he does. Harry is going through a tough time, not knowing if he’ll ever see his sister again. So Louis gave Harry a soft smile, and left it at that.

The game goes as well as it can with twelve demigods and two humans running after the same ball. Louis’ tried to learn a few names while he’s at it. Apart from the ones he already knows on the pitch - Liam, Niall, Balder and Perrie, - there are at least two demigods whose names are Adam. Then there’s Noah, Gabriel, Leigh-Anne, Ian and Jade.

Then… some more. Louis can’t remember.

After Adam/Noah/Gabriel/Ian - whichever - scores for the opposite team for the sixth time, Balder sighs exasperatedly, picks up the ball and throws it fuck knows how long into Niall’s flower garden. That’s everyone’s cue to leave the pitch and go back inside.

Louis lingers for a moment, waiting for the pitch to clear out, before he walks over to the flower garden to retrieve the ball.

Harry’s still sitting by himself in the grass, the shadow from a tree looming over him. It’s getting darker outside, and it’s not even dinner time yet.

"Hey," Louis says quietly to the other demigod, turning the ball over in his hands.

Harry gazes up at Louis, giving him half a smile. "Hey."

"Everyone left me," Louis says, pouting.

"The game’s over," Harry chuckles lowly, standing up.

"Not yet," Louis says, gesturing to the ball. "If you wanna?"

Harry dusts off some grass from the back of his jeans, not taking his eyes away from the ball. It’s like it’s the toughest decision he’s ever had to make, about whether or not he wants to have a little kick around with Louis.

"You can’t be that bad," Louis jokes, the words almost getting caught in his throat when Harry steps closer.

Closer, closer, closer.

Then Harry grabs the ball out of Louis’ hands and starts running in the opposite direction, his laughter bouncing back and fourth between the trees, the walls, the wind. "Come and get it then!" He tosses over his shoulder.

Louis’ legs finally starts working again, and then he runs after the other boy. "That’s not-" Louis dodges a tree branch. "Not how you play football, Harold!"

Harry spins around the corner of the mansion, and Louis picks up his speed. When Louis finally rounds the corner himself, he finds Harry clawing desperately at a fence separating the garden from the driveway.

Before Louis reaches the fence himself, Harry has started climbing, the ball already thrown over to the other side.

It’s not the ball Louis’ after, though.

"Gotcha!" Louis cheers, clinging onto Harry’s left foot like a lifeline.

"No!" Harry protests. "No, Louis, I’m gonna fall, let go!"

Louis smiles maliciously, and tickles Harry at his side, making the latter squeak out in surprise, and - judging by the thump that comes a second after, - lose his grip on the fence.

"Fuck," Harry curses, barely audible over Louis’ cackling, scrambling around on the grass while grabbing after Louis’ legs.

And so Louis goes down as well. But he’s still laughing, arm covering his eyes and everything.

"This isn’t funny," Harry comments sourly. "I could’ve broken a bone!"

That only makes Louis laugh more, and he can’t really remember last time he had a laugh this good. His cheeks hurts. He might even get a headache.

It’s great.

"Not funny!" Harry insists, and starts ripping grass off the ground, throwing it in Louis’ direction.

"Oi!" Louis protests, rolling up into a sitting position. The moment he’s up, he gets another fistful of grass thrown in his face.

This is when the grass fight breaks out.

Grass is flying through the air like confetti, raining down on the demigods like a million parachutes. Laughter bounces between the two of them; when one laughs, the other laughs louder. When Harry smiles, Louis smiles wider.

It’s by no means a peaceful grass fight, no, they’re really going for it; rolling around on the ground, smudging each others faces full of green goo. Somewhere along the line, Harry jumps up, and starts running away, and Louis follows suit with two handfuls of freshly picked grass.

"Where are you running to?" Louis shouts after the other demigod.

"Away from you!" Harry shouts back, running through the garden, jumping over flowers and bushes, ducking away from branches.

Harry’s no faster than Louis though, and when Louis nears the other boy he throws his grass at him with all his might, getting half of it back in his own face.

Louis - too busy spluttering grass out of his mouth as he runs - realizes a moment too late that Harry has stopped running, and thumps into the other boy, making them both topple over.

"Ouch," Harry groans quietly, staring up at the clouds, his chest moving rapidly up and down.

Louis snickers beside him, and rolls onto his stomach. "You alright?"

Harry tries to restrain a smile, blinking up at the sky. Then, slowly, he turns his head over. At an exhale, he finally gives in and smiles. "Yeah."

Louis giggles quietly. "Good, good." He doesn’t really know what else to say, doesn’t know what else to do. Should he get up now? Should he sprinkle Harry in flower petals?

"I feel like," Harry says, then stops for a moment, considering. There’s some grass stuck in his hair, messing it up. "I feel like we’ve been here before."

"What, on the ground?" Louis asks, smiling, recalling the flour fight.

"No, I mean yeah," Harry says, chuckling lowly, not letting his gaze shift away from Louis. "Not a literal place, more like… Somewhere to escape, sort of."

Louis hums quietly, and gives in to reach out towards the grass stuck in Harry’s hair, carefully pulling it out. "It’s nice to forget sometimes."

Harry watches Louis, he can feel it. But Louis focuses on pulling one piece of grass after the other out of his curls, forcing his hands to remain steady.

"There," Louis murmurs, flicking the last piece of grass away. "All better now."

"Thanks," Harry says, barely above a whisper. "Not only for um, plucking grass out of my hair."

Louis grins, his self-consciousness forcing him to look away for a moment, before Harry continues: "For like… I don’t know."

"Yeah," Louis says, knowing what Harry means. It’s like when Louis thanked Harry after they made stress balls together. Not for the stress balls, or the milk.

Just for being there.

 

 

Louis’ in the shower at midnight, scrubbing away grass stains from his knees, his elbows, his cheeks. He’s been walking around the mansion all evening not even noticing the state of his clothes and face until he got into the bathroom five minutes ago. Is that why Liam was giggling like a child during dinner?

Luckily, Niall wasn’t in charge of the making dinner today, as he had "some business to take care of downtown", whatever the hell that means. So Perrie and her girls, who Louis’ now learned are called Jade, Jesy and Leigh-Anne dragged Liam with them into the kitchen and cooked up some fancy pasta dish.

Zayn even came over for dinner, but he barely said a word to Louis. Nah, Zayn was having dinner with them because Liam had apparently exchanged phone numbers with the god, and Louis was this close to stuffing his entire pasta dish up Zayn’s arse the moment he found out.

Louis doesn’t like having Zayn anywhere near his flatmate, or even Niall for that matter. Hell, Louis doesn’t like having to watch his mates get along with the demigods, either, given all their lives are in danger.

What if something were to happen, and Liam and Niall were caught in the crossfire? Sure, everyone here is innocent, but his friends are clueless as to what is really going on. They keep asking the demigods how their burnt down kitchen is doing, when they’ll be able to move back home, and so on. One of these days they’re going to overhear the demigods talking about not so human things, and Louis will have a lot of explaining to do.

Stepping out of the shower is usually the worst part about taking a shower for Louis, but in Niall’s luxury bathroom there’s no such thing as stepping out into the cold. The tiles are heated, the walls are probably heated as well. Everything is just… So damn expensive.

The towel Louis’ got wrapped around his waist probably costs more than his rent, which-

Fuck. The rent. With everything that’s been going on - and still is going on - Louis hasn’t been able to work for over a week.

Is there a god out there that shits money or summat? Must be.

Louis pads down the hallway as quietly as he can. The other demigods have all gone to bed, as far as he knows. When Louis left their bedroom, Harry was in their en suite having a shower.

Louis enters their bedroom, and can still hear the water running in the shower. Harry likes long showers. Maybe he needs long showers to condition his hair or something, or maybe he uses one of those fancy body scrubs.

Louis doesn’t know. Louis’ not sure he wants to find out either. Not yet, at least.

Shaking his thoughts away, Louis drops his towel and jumps into his pyjama bottoms. He puts on a t-shirt as well, so he won’t get cold tonight, and crawls under the covers.

Harry steps out of the bathroom five minutes later with his hair still dripping wet, creating tiny streams that runs down his chest and down to the floor.

"Hey," Harry says, adjusting the towel around his waist. "I’m just gonna, um," he adds, pointing towards his suitcase by the foot of the bed. "Dress."

Louis nods slowly, before lying down in bed, gaze boring into the ceiling. He hears the towel drop a few seconds later, followed by some shuffling around.

Without really meaning to, Louis gulps.

Audibly.

Pressing his eyes shut, he prays Harry didn’t hear it, and doesn’t open them again until the bed dips beside him.

Harry groans beside him, groans, while shifting around, trying to find a comfortable position. "‘m so tired," he mumbles.

"Good thing you’re in bed, then," is what Louis answers. Internally, he’s kicking himself in the face. Repeatedly.

"Yeah, it is good," Harry says. "Been a long day. You’ve been sick, then cured, then you broke every bone in my body. Great fun."

Louis snorts. "Great fun," he echoes. He turns over to his side, facing Harry. "How are you?" He asks after a minute.

Harry purses his lips, eyes locked on the darkness rather than Louis. "Dunno, just… Kind of starting to realize it, you know? She might be gone forever."

It’s quiet, the only sounds that can be heard is the squeaking of the bed, and their breathing. "You don’t know that," Louis murmurs.

Harry’s eyes flash for a millisecond, and Louis’ heart beat picks up as if he’s said something he shouldn’t have. "But I do, though. Gemma might not be as lucky as I was."

Beat, beat, beat.

"I’m not sure what kind of deal my father made with Hades," Harry says. Louis’ chest freezes at the mention of his father’s name. "But I do know, however, that one can only make one deal with Hades."

Louis knew this, apart from the last part. He’s supposed to be oblivious to all this, but here he is, both knowing what Apollo’s deal was, and that Gemma isn’t gone forever. The guilt is tugging at his chest again.

It hurts.

"Deal?" Louis asks, so quiet it can barely be heard, even in this quiet room. "How’d you know he made a deal?"

"It’s the only way to get someone out of the Underworld," Harry says, shrugging. "The easiest way, at least. There are other… Methods, but. Those aren’t any safer."

"I didn’t know that," Louis says. He didn’t know there were other methods. "What are they?"

"Resurrection, though that has gone horribly wrong every time it’s been tried out," Harry says. "Either that, or the resurrections are brutal. Have you heard the story of Dionysus’ birth?"

Louis shakes his head no.

"Apparently, he’s a son of Zeus-"

"Creation," Louis comments quietly, recalling his chat with Zayn.

Harry stops for a moment, furrowing his brows. "Where’d you hear that term?"

"Nowhere. Go on," Louis says.

Shit shit shit.

Harry stares at Louis some more, as to catch him lying. Louis just blinks.

"Um, well yeah. Creation of Zeus, then," Harry goes on warily. "But his mother - or female creator if you will - wasn’t Hera, Zeus’ partner. Which clearly pissed Hera off, given she’s the most possessive goddess there is, and she made sure Dionysus was killed. One story is that Hera messed with the actual mother, making her explode or something in Zeus thunder, and therefore die before Dionysus was born. The other is that Hera gave the child to the Titans, who ate it. Both ended in Zeus sewing Dionysus to his thigh, and resurrecting - or recreating - him that way."

"That is brutal," Louis comments, eyes wide. "Is it true?"

"Probably not," Harry chuckles. "But the resurrecting part was indeed brutal, or so I’ve heard. There was a resurrection back in 1442, or 1642, I mix them up."

Louis smiles fondly. "Same difference," Louis says.

"That was a resurrection of a man. Human. It all went well, for a while. He went back to his wife and kids, started working again, and everything went well. Until it didn’t."

Louis pulls his duvet closer around himself, waiting for Harry to continue his story. It’s like listening to a scary campfire story. Except these stories are true.

"He lost his mind, started seeing things that weren’t really there. Dark shadows, devilish monsters. Voices telling him to do horrible things."

"Like what?"

Harry doesn’t answer, like what the man did was too cruel to be spoken of. "Let’s just say that he didn’t see his family as family anymore. In the end, everyone he ever knew, ever loved, became monsters in his eyes."

They’re silent for a moment. Louis’ desperate for a topic change, all of a sudden. "You said one could only make one deal with- with Hades." His father, his father, his father. "How’d you know?"

"Zayn told me," Harry shrugs.

Zayn didn’t tell Louis that. Fucker. "But hasn’t Apollo been around since like- I don’t know, forever? He must have made more than one deal with Hades."

"Maybe," Harry muses. "Probably. I wouldn’t know. Better to be safe than sorry, though, innit?"

"Better to think there’s no chance he’ll make a deal again for Gemma, than hoping that he will, you mean?" Louis asks, trying not to sound like a douche. He sounded like a douche.

Harry sighs. "Maybe you’re right. I don’t know. It’s not like I can just call him, and tell him to get her back."

"Talk to Zayn?" Louis suggests. He’s not sure why he’s suggesting it, when he has the plan ready. A stupid plan, but a plan nonetheless. Doesn’t hurt to have a back-up plan, though.

"I’m tired," Harry says instead of answering. "We should sleep."

Louis hums quietly, letting the topic go. "Alright. Night, Haz."

Harry smiles softly back at him. "Night, Lou."

 

 

Abandoned, dusty, dark.

The hotel is empty by the looks of it, but he can hear them. The sound of a million voices, whispering words he cannot understand. They sound desperate, worried.

Terrified.

Louis starts walking towards the stairs, the sound of gravel crunching under his shoes. No, not gravel. He looks ahead, and sees tiny pieces of broken stone rolling from the staircase, clinking to the floor. It looks like someone took a sledge hammer and cracked open the stone steps. He carefully places one foot in front of the other, and starts climbing.

Up, up, up. The voices gets louder, like he’s getting closer. There’s something pressing against his neck; like a harsh wind, or the heat of burning sun. Like someone is watching him. But he can’t turn around, can’t look, or else he might fall.

Without a warning, the whispers turn into screams, so intense the staircase starts shaking, threatening to fall apart. Louis’ head spins, and he can’t tell which way to go. Can’t tell which way is up and down. It’s like a hurricane and an earth quake mixed together, threatening to crack the ground open and swallow the Earth whole. His vertigo gets worse, while the screaming gets louder.

Louder, louder, louder. An endless blare of screaming sirens, warning him. They’re here. They’re here. You have to run.

In a haze, he moves his legs, not sure where he’ll end up.

"I can see you," someone whispers from the darkness, sending a shiver up Louis’ spine.

 

 

He can’t quite shake the shiver when his eyes flash open, his breath caught in his throat.

Can’t quite shake the feeling that someone is watching him.

Louis’ heart is hammering against his chest, so loud he’s scared it might wake Harry, who’s snoring softly beside him.

Louis carefully sits up in bed, and rubs his eyes. He looks at the time; it’s three in the morning.

I can see you.

What if Zayn was right? Maybe the Fates actually did have something to do with the fire in Mr. Henderson’s kitchen after all. Maybe they know the demigods are here. It would be only logical, to lead the demigods to some place far away, only to take them out all at once. They’re not any safer here than they were in the city.

A quiet thumping sound makes Louis whip his head towards the door, and his pulse speeds up again. Thump, thump, thump, like footsteps. It’s coming from downstairs.

Louis gets out of bed as quietly as he can, and walks over to the door. He waits. Maybe the sound was in his head, maybe he’s only half awake.

But there it is again, the thump, thump, thump. Heavy, like a man stomping around in boots.

Louis swallows thickly, before turning the door handle, and exits the room. Out in the hallway, he listens again.

It sounds exactly like footsteps.

As soundlessly as possible, Louis starts walking towards the staircase, keeping his eyes and ears open.

They’re here, he thinks. They found us.

The stairs creak as he walks down them, but the thumping doesn’t stop. At the sight of a statue in the entry hall, his heart almost jumps out of his throat. Not real, not real, you’re safe, he chants internally, like a mantra.

The moon is round and full outside, casting long shadows along the floors of the mansion. Louis tip toes through the rooms, carefully, and quietly. He curses himself for not bringing some sort of weapon.

When he enters the kitchen he picks up a frying pan - yes, a frying pan, it works in cartoons, alright? - and keeps his back against the wall. The thumping is getting closer.

They’re in the dining room.

He can hear it, sense it, feel how the hairs in the back of his neck stands up.

Tightening the hold of his frying pan, Louis bursts through the door to the dining room and-

The window’s open, swaying back and forth, crashing against a chair with each push. The thump echoes through the room.

Louis sighs in relief, and puts his frying pan down at the nearest surface. Now when the danger is over, he pads over to the window, and closes it shut. He startles himself when he looks out the window, and sees his own reflection.

"Fuck," he breathes, clutching a hand to his chest. "Calm the fuck down," he whispers, annoyed with himself.

He doesn’t dare look out the window again, though, afraid he’ll might see something he doesn’t want to see. Instead, he turns on his heel, and walks back upstairs, all too aware of the shadows and sounds of the night. You’re safe, nothing’s going to happen, everyone is safe.

"What are you doing?" a voice asks once Louis’ made it upstairs, startling an embarrassing squeak out of him.

"Harry," Louis breathes, relaxing his shoulders again. "You scared me."

Harry stares at Louis for a while, and Louis feels strangely exposed under his gaze. "Your hands are shaking," Harry comments after a moment.

Louis crosses his arms, trying to will the shaking away. "What are you doing up?"

"I heard you get up, so I was going to check on you," Harry says warily. "See if you were okay."

They’re standing ten feet apart, but can hear each other so clearly. See each other so clearly. But there’s the fog of lies separating them, making the space between them feel much bigger. Louis has the chance to close at least a part of that space now, and tell Harry why he’s up.

He’s paranoid. He’s scared. He thinks someone’s watching them.

But even that truth is too large of a truth. That truth could only lead to a slippery slope of more truths coming out, and it’ll once again leave a space between them. A space much more bigger, a space much more painful.

"I was thirsty," Louis answers, barely above a whisper.

Harry rakes his hand through his hair, and shifts on his legs agitatedly. "There’s a glass of water on your nightstand."

"I wanted milk," Louis says, mouth drying up inch by inch.

"You’re usually so good at lying," Harry says, effectively making Louis’ heart stop. "What changed?"

Louis drops his gaze, but quickly meets Harry’s eyes again when he remembers eye contact is important when telling a lie. "I don’t know what you mean. I drink milk in the middle of the night sometimes, yeah?"

Harry huffs annoyed. "Stop, Lou."

"With what?"

"With the lying!" Harry booms, loud enough to wake the other demigods. Louis jumps a bit, and Harry notices, his face going softer at once. "I’m sorry."

Louis doesn’t say anything, focuses on not falling apart right there and then instead. No matter how much it upsets Harry, Louis can’t let him know the truth. He just… Can’t. And it’s not only about their friendship anymore. It’s not only about breaking trust. It’s about protection, and keeping Harry safe. At least until all of this is over.

If Louis were to tell Harry right now - about his father, his powers, his plan, - Harry would want to contribute in any way he could. Gemma is his sister after all, of course he’d want to be a part of the plan.

But as selfish as it may be, Louis doesn’t want to lose Harry.

"It’s just," Harry says, voice back to normal now. "I’ve been so patient with you. And I know - I know - that it’s not fair of me to feel this way but… I’ve poured my soul out to you, Louis. All my darkest secret. But you? I know nothing about you. I know how you like your tea, I know you work in bars, I know you had a goldfish when you were ten. I know about all the good things going on in your life, all your happiest memories."

Harry steps closer, and Louis forces his feet to remain where they are, forces his eyes to stay on Harry.

"But I can see how much you’re hurting," Harry says. "I just wish you could trust me. Because you can trust me, Lou. You know that right?"

Louis finally drops his gaze, and nods once. His cheeks sting, and not the kind of stinging you get when you’ve smiled too much. The kind of stinging you get when you’re about to cry.

Harry raises his hand hesitantly, and places it on top of Louis’ arms. His thumb moves in circles over Louis’ forearm, coaxing him into uncrossing his arms.

Louis lets his arms drop, and a moment later Harry’s hand slides down his left arm, over his wrist, and stops by his hand. Harry gives Louis’ hand a careful squeeze, his breath hitting the tip of Louis’ nose so, so softly.

"I’m sorry," Louis manages.

"Why are you sorry?" Harry murmurs, while pushing Louis’ fringe out of his eyes with his free hand.

Louis looks at Harry, battling against the tremble in his voice, the torturous guilt, the pressure in his chest. "For lying."

Harry doesn’t let go of Louis’ hand, doesn’t let his hand fall from Louis’ face. "Are you going to stop the lying?"

"No," Louis says, voice dangerously close to breaking. "Not yet."

Harry nods, and drops his hand from Louis’ face. Louis squeezes Harry’s other hand, afraid he’ll let go.

Louis doesn’t want him to let go.

"It’s a start," Harry says, making relief flood to Louis’ chest. "Can you promise me one thing, though?"

Louis can’t answer that, so he just waits.

"If anything bad happens, something really bad, will you tell me?"

And just like that, his chest tightens again. But he can’t let it show. Eye contact, confidence, no fidgeting. Breathe. "Yes."

 

 

Meet me at the restaurant tomorrow. The one we had dinner at last time. Cancel your meetings, it’s urgent. - Louis.

Chapter Text

"Wake up."

Can’t move.

"Louis."

They’re here.

"I’m here. It’s okay."

"Don’t."

"Open your eyes, yeah?" The voice is soothing, giving Louis the same feeling in his chest as when he watches the sunrise. Warm. Calm. Alive.

His eyes flutter open, and he takes a few seconds to adjust his focus. There’s something warm resting against his cheek, while at the same time tickling his skin like feathers.

Harry’s gazing down at him, his cheek propped on his free hand. "You were talking in your sleep."

"Was I?" Louis mumbles, blinking. He’s lying on his back, just now noticing how damp the back of his t-shirt is.

"Mhm." Harry drops his hand from Louis’ cheek, and moves it down to his chest. "Your heart is going crazy."

Suddenly shy, Louis sits up in bed, rubbing his eyes. "I didn’t wake you, did I?"

"You kicked me in the leg a few times," Harry says, voice filled with worry.

Louis laughs, though. "‘m sorry. You could’ve just kicked back. I wouldn’t have minded."

Harry gives Louis half a smile. "What were you dreaming about?"

It’s hard to tell, if Louis’ being honest. His dreams so far has just been a mess of screaming and running and… Louis chews on the inside of his cheeks for a moment, images from the dream still as fresh in his mind as the previous ones.

"The end of the world."

A beat. "How does it end?" Harry finally asks.

"Um." Louis pulls his legs to his chest, tucking his feet under the duvet. "’s different every time. The first time it was because of the gods. Lightning. Second time was a dying lightbulb crashing to the ground, making the world go dark. Third time was, um." Louis scratches at his arm, looking anywhere but at Harry. "Natural disasters, I guess."

"And now?" Harry prompts when Louis doesn’t say anything for a minute.

"Monsters," Louis says, furrowing his brows. "They just… Wiped us out, one by one. Ate us. Ri- ripped bodies apart," Louis stutters, holding back a shudder at the graphic images that are forever etched into his brain. "Except- um, except for me. I always wake up before I- I don’t know- go down."

Harry hums sadly beside him. "I wish I could chase away the nightmares for you."

Louis just gives him a small smile, not really knowing how else to show his appreciation.

"For now, though," Harry says, his voice getting lighter. "I’ll make breakfast."

Harry jumps out of bed before Louis has a chance to respond, and pulls on a pair of trousers (for once). "Meet you downstairs in twenty minutes, then?"

 

 

Louis shoves his eggs around on his plate. He’d be lying if he said he wasn’t nervous about today, and nervous about what situation he’ll be in when the day comes to an end. Harry’s scrolling through his phone across the table, chewing around a mouthful of toast.

It’s a quiet morning, and most of the demigods are still asleep. Liam is already at work, and won’t be back until around dinnertime. Louis’ not sure when he’ll see Liam again.

"Can I ask you something?" Louis says, peeking up at Harry under his fringe.

Harry nods around his food, not really able to talk right now. His forehead is creased, though, in reaction to Louis’ serious tone.

There are a couple of demigods lounging on the couch in the other end of the room, minding their own business. Louis lowers his voice anyway. "How does it happen? I mean, the process of it."

Harry swallows down his food. "Process of what?"

"The… Bringing demigods down there, you know. Do they just kill them?" He asks, wishing his voice was more hesitant than pressingly curious.

Harry dabs his lips with a napkin, before curling it into a ball in his fist. "Hermes," Harry says.

Louis frowns. "Isn’t he an Olympian?"

"He is," Harry says, nodding. "Messenger of the gods."

Louis is confused. "So… Does Hermes kill demigods?"

"No! No, no," Harry quickly says. "They have something on him, I think. Probably has a deal with him he can’t get out of, so he helps them out."

Louis just blinks, unable to connect the dots.

When Harry senses Louis’ confusion he continues. "Hermes is the only god apart from Hades that can travel freely in and out of the Underworld. When I was taken by the minor gods, they brought me to him. Before I even knew what was happening, boom." Harry snaps his fingers. "I’m in the Underworld."

"Oh," is all Louis responds.

"Why are you asking?" Harry questions a minute later, shoving a fork full of eggs into his mouth.

"Curious," Louis mumbles, picking up his tea.

Not only is he curious, he needs to know how everything about this demigod hunt works before he meets up with his father. Has to be prepared, just in case.

"Why not just… Kill them? Wouldn’t that be- I don’t know, easier?" Louis asks after another minute, hoping the question didn’t come out the wrong way.

Harry doesn’t seem fazed by his straightforwardness, though. "It’s about the deals, mostly. A loophole, sort of. If someone makes a deal for themselves, their deal will have something to do with their deaths, rather than something completely random. The demigods aren’t in theory actually dying, they’re sneaked in, unable to get themselves out. So if they were to make a deal with Hades, he wouldn’t be able to find a worthy deal, so to speak."

Louis furrows his brows. His father had told Louis that the demigods have the same rights in making the deals as anyone else. Did he lie? Or did he simply not know?

"But you got out," Louis points out.

"It’s not the same thing. I didn’t make the deal, Zayn did. Not with Hades, but with Apollo, so the consequences weren’t so brutal, but yeah. And then my father made some deal with Hades, so I don’t really have anything to do with it. I’m just…" Harry trails off.

"Lucky," Louis supplies.

Harry is quiet for a moment, staring down at his plate before he picks it up and stands up from his chair. "I guess so."

Louis doesn’t call after him when he disappears into the kitchen, figuring Harry doesn’t want to continue the conversation. Maybe Louis should do something fun with Harry before he leaves, and hopefully bring a smile to his face. One final escape.

 

 

Louis plops down on the edge of the bed, adjusting the two plastic guitars he found on Niall’s loft on his lap, and waits.

Harry’s been in the shower for ten minutes already, and Louis’ curious as to what is always taking so long in there. Out of boredom Louis rereads the track list on the back of the cover. It’s about eighty percent Aerosmith songs, which is fine with Louis to be honest. That being said, it would be better if ‘I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing’ was on here as well, and Louis spends the rest of Harry’s shower being annoyed at the game makers for not putting that song on there.

The door clicks open, and out comes Harry - completely naked apart from the towel he’s dabbing his chest with.

"Uh," is all Louis manages, high-pitched and awkward, while covering his eyes with one of the plastic guitar in a horrible moment of panic.

"Oh my god!" Harry exclaims, followed by the sound of panicked footsteps - probably retreating. "I didn’t know you were in here!"

"I’m sorry," Louis squeaks behind his guitar, eyes also shut for good measure. "I promise I didn’t see anything."

Oh, he saw. And what he saw will probably be the picture that pops into Louis’ head at the least appropriate times for several days to come. Not that Louis’ complaining.

It’s big.

"What are you doing?" Harry asks, and Louis dares to peek around his shield of a dusty PlayStation controller, seeing Harry doing the same thing behind the door. His hair is dripping down on the floor, his eyes wide in horror. Apart from that, only a bare foot is visible behind the door.

Louis has to press his lips together when he feels a giggle building up in his chest. He fails, of course, and splutters the most unattractive laughter of the century, internally kicking himself in the face repeatedly for not being able to control his social antennas around Harry.

Not only half a second later, Harry is laughing as well.

"I’m so, so sorry," Louis manages, trying to control his laughter.

"Give me a second, yeah?" Harry says after a moment, dimple popping, before disappearing back into the bathroom.

True to his words, only a few seconds later Harry comes back out, wearing the towel around his waist this time. Louis supposes it’s less awkward than before, but … It still doesn’t leave much to the imagination.

"I found these," Louis says, holding out the plastic guitars.

"Guitar Hero?" Harry asks, grabbing one of the guitars, face breaking out into a grin. "God, I haven’t played this since I was a kid."

"You up for it?" Louis asks, bouncing a bit on the bed. He hasn’t played in a while, either.

Harry presses a few of the buttons excitedly. "Yeah!"

Ten minutes later the two of them are situated down in the entertainment room - both very much dressed this time, thank you. Harry’s got his joggers on, comfortably plopped down in the couch with one leg thrown over Louis’ knee, playing Guitar Hero like his life depends on it.

"I love this song," Harry comments every time a new song comes on, singing so loud it’s hard to make out Steven Tyler’s voice.

"Your voice is amazing," is what Louis says every time a new song comes on. Harry smiles bashfully each time, but it doesn’t stop him from singing.

"C’mon, Lou, you know this song!" Harry exclaims when ‘Dream On’ comes on, and Louis’ unsure whether Harry is playing Guitar Hero to play the actual guitar, or sing. Either works fine with Louis.

"Dream on!" Louis sings, making the latter cheer, and sing even louder - if that’s even possible.

"Dream oooon!"

"I don’t know the rest of the words!" Louis sings. Harry’s voice cracks as he starts laughing again, and his leg starts bouncing on top of Louis’ thigh. It’s ridiculously endearing.

"Imagine being a that big of a band," Harry says after a song ends. "That you get your own Guitar Hero. And the animations! It’s wild."

"You want that?" Louis asks, putting his guitar down. They’ve played for about an hour, and Louis’ fingers hurt from pressing down on the buttons.

"To have my own edition of Guitar Hero? Fuck yeah," Harry says, like it’s obvious. "Who wouldn’t want that."

Louis shrugs, he’s not going to deny that it would be cool.

They’re quite for a moment, listening to the house creaking as more demigods are waking up. The sound of Niall’s laughter is echoing through the mansion, even if he’s all the way on the other side of the building.

"Can I tell you something?" Harry asks hesitantly, breaking the silence.

"Anything," Louis murmurs, turning to face Harry, encircling Harry’s ankle to steady it on his lap. His chest is tingling, his head feels lighter.

"When I was a kid," Harry begins, boring his eyes into Louis’, voice low, like he’s telling a secret. "Me and Gemma made a tree house out in the woods, far enough away from the neighborhood so that no one could find us. Gemma was in charge of building the actual tree house, given she was the eldest. I was in charge of smuggling cushions and blankets out of the house."

"How old were you?" Louis asks when Harry goes quiet.

"I was ten, I think. Around that age," Harry says, brows furrowed in concentration as if he’s counting the years to himself. "Yeah. And we would bring food to the tree house, toys, books. Gemma brought some painting one day, she’d nicked it from our neighbors’ garage," Harry chuckles fondly at the memory.

"A little thief," Louis comments, smiling softly.

"No one besides the two of us were allowed in the tree house, and she said, ‘we need to make this place our own, and only ours.’ So she gave me a paint brush, and told me to go nuts. I firstly - and most importantly, of course - painted a blue whale on our door, because I had a thing for whales back then."

Louis laughs, snuggling closer to Harry without really meaning to, his cheek rested on his hand a inches away from Harry’s face.

"Then I wrote our names on the walls, painted on flowers, clouds, stars. Anything really. My sister then told me that since I was the king of our tree house, I had to give it a name."

Louis smiles fondly. "What did you name it then, King Harry?"

"Runaway Land," Harry says, eyes shining at the memory. "I was always so at peace there, minding my own business, not worrying about being scolded for not doing my homework, no teachers to tell me to lower my voice. Only me and Gemma in our own little kingdom out in the woods. We were like different people out there, so much freer. Made it easier to do all the boring stuff like take out the trash, do homework, make our beds. Because we had something to look forward to."

"That feeling I had while being at the tree house… That complete freedom and carelessness… I’ve been craving that feeling for so long, especially since after I moved to London," Harry says, shifting a bit around. He hesitates for a moment, contemplating on what to say, then decides against saying anything at all. Instead, he carefully reaches his hand out towards Louis’ hand, and starts drawing little circles on it with his fingertips.

It’s a small gesture; not any more intimidating than when he did the same thing on his ankle, or squeezed his hand, or caressed his cheek. But somehow it feels different this time, here in this empty room. The sun isn’t blinding them through the windows any longer, so it must be around noon. However, Louis can still feel the heat.

"I’m sorry you had to go through all that," Louis mumbles, and dares to turn his hand over, inviting Harry to draw circles in his palm instead.

They both have their gazes fixed on their hands, and Louis wonders if Harry’s heart is beating as fast as his own.

"I keep saying I’m over it, that it’s all in the past, but-" Harry sighs, cutting himself off.

"But?" Louis encourages after a moment, glancing up at the latter for a tiny second. Louis’ never understood the romantics logic of ‘rubbing that crease off of their forehead’, but… It’s tempting to do so now. As if rubbing away that crease will rub away all of Harry’s worries.

"Now that Gemma’s there, all the memories keep rushing back," Harry says. "Because it was horrible being there, and feeling so alone. It was terrifying to go from complete freedom to being almost- like," he stumbles for a moment, struggling to get the words out. "Buried alive in some way."

Louis swallows, and catches Harry’s hand in his own, holding on tightly. There’s not really anything left to say about this situation that hasn’t already been said, apart from the fact that Louis’ going to get her out. Louis’ going to rub that crease off of Harry’s forehead, and give him back his Runaway Land.

 

 

 

 

"Are you out of your fucking mind?"

"Maybe," Louis answers, but doesn’t stop walking. He zig-zags between some school kids, and takes another pull from his cigarette once he’s through.

Balder is still hot on his heels, though, and Louis’ already told him a dozen times that he shouldn’t have followed him here. But Balder is persistent. And annoying.

It’s a cloudy day out in London, not as sunny as it was up at Niall’s mansion.The air chill, but that doesn’t stop the tourists from clustering up in England’s capital city. A tour bus drives past, and Louis hears the clicking of a dozens of cameras going off. They’re walking over London bridge, and it’s packed with people who shouldn’t be alive. Packed as in; Louis’ sensed three already. He managed to shut two of them off, but the first one’s memories are still flickering behind Louis’ lids, refusing to be pried away.

Evan Johansson has lost his ability to taste after he choked on his food back in 2004. Hades sure has a wicked sense of humor.

"What about Harry?" Balder asks, almost jogging to catch up with Louis’ hurried steps. "Did you tell him?"

"Nope," Louis says, popping the "p".

Louis managed to sneak out of the mansion while the rest of the demigods were out in the garden having a barbecue. Harry had announced himself as the master chef, and after having rummaged through Niall’s kitchen for ten minutes he finally found an apron that matched his shoes. He’d beamed at Louis behind the grill, asking him how he liked his steak.

That steak has probably gone cold by now.

"He’s going to be devastated, you know? If something happens to you, it’ll break his heart," Balder says.

"Funny how last time you spoke to me about Harry, you said he was only keeping me close like an enemy," Louis shoots back, eyes pointed at the road ahead. "And I left a note, it’s fine."

"A note?" Balder exclaims. "How cold are you? Jesus christ, what did it say?"

"Pfft, relax. It’s not like a suicide note or anything," Louis says.

"Depends on what you wrote."

Louis stops abruptly, turning to Balder. "I just wrote that I may or may not come back. That I’m going to fix things," Louis says, and then he’s back to walking. He didn’t specifically write what exactly it was he was going to fix, in case it all goes to shit. He better have a lie ready if this goes south.

"Are you fucking kidding me, mate?" Balder exclaims, earning them both a look from an old lady. Balder lowers his voice, and steps uncomfortably close to Louis. "Your plan is shit, you know that right?"

"It’s not completely shit," Louis defends, flicking his cigarette over the railing.

"Completely, never seen before, one hundred percent shit sounds about right. Did you just… Expect him to show up and make a deal with you? Sounds too easy," Balder says.

"He’s meeting me there, so yeah, things are going smooth so far," Louis says, lighting up a new cigarette. If he hadn’t left the mansion, he and Niall would probably be sitting out in the garden smoking weed right about now instead, tummies full of steak and potatoes. That’s why Niall was in town yesterday, to stock up on his stash. Liam would have lost his shit if he found out, would probably have said things like ‘Louis shouldn’t be smoking in the state he’s in.’ Louis, on the other hand, feels like he should definitely smoke in the state he’s in. Calm his fucking nerves.

"What if you piss him off and he sends you to Tartarus himself, then what are you gonna do?"

"Fuck’s sake, Balder," Louis says, turning to him. "Go home. I got this, alright?"

Balder bounces on his toes, looking more distressed than Louis’ ever seen him before. That says a lot. "I can’t let you do this."

"What else am I supposed to do, then? Just sit and watch as you all get sent down to the Underworld? I can fix this."

"You can’t."

"I can try," Louis says. "Go back to the mansion. You’re not safe here."

"Neither are you," Balder challenges.

"That’s the point!" Louis exclaims, feeling like he’s at the end of his rope right about now. "Why do you even give a shit what happens to me?" Louis questions. It’s not like Balder suddenly cares about Louis, if the treatment he’s been served these past few weeks have any say.

Balder just shakes his head, and clenches his fists at his sides, because - of course - the son of Ares doesn’t like losing a battle.

"See?" Louis says then, turning away.

"Not everything is about you, you know," Balder calls after him, and Louis stops, morphing his face into something more neutral than the flush of anger that courses through his veins in that moment, because what the fuck.

"Did I ever say it was about me?" Louis questions, turning back to face Balder.

"This whole… Hero thing, saving the day and all that bullshit," Balder says, daring to jazz-hand his way over Louis, like he’s the most useless piece of garbage the former has ever laid eyes on. "It doesn’t work like that. Maybe it does in whatever fantasy world you think you’re living in, but not in the real word. A single demigod can’t save them all. It’s not realistic, and you are going to fail."

Louis takes a pull from his cig, inhaling deeply. "Easy for you to say when all you do is seeing the negative aspects of things, innit? Someone’s gotta try. Better be me, than any other."

"Better be you, yeah?" Balder muses. "Demigod safe house, what does that even mean to you?"

"I don’t belong there."

"But you do," Balder exclaims, getting visibly agitated. "You, like any of us other, are supposed to be kept safe from all that mythical bullshit. We’re trying to live as humans, we’re trying to live a normal life despite being half-bloods. And yet here you are, trying to start a war of your own with Hades, of all gods. It’s not brave, Louis. It’s reckless."

"Go home," Louis says, turning away once again, not wanting to listen to his bullshit anymore. When a solution is right in front of him, he won’t just ignore it because someone tells him it’s not going to work. Balder doesn’t know shit.

Well, maybe he does. But Louis’ pretty sure no other demigods has made a deal with Hades yet, so he’s going for it.

"We’re supposed to keep each other safe!" Balder shouts after Louis.

"Well this is me, keeping you safe, so ta-fucking-da!" Louis tosses over his shoulder.

 

 

Louis stumps his fifth - and final - cigarette on the pavement, gazing across the street towards the restaurant. The lights are dimmed inside, replaced with hundreds of golden candles littering the tables, the chandeliers, the walls. Families, friends and couples are dressed from head to toe in their fanciest clothing, and Louis has to refrain from rolling his eyes at himself for showing up here in his casual clothing once again.

Wrapping his parka tighter around himself, he jogs across the road.

Just as he’s about to enter the restaurant, someone calls out his name. When Louis turns, his father is leaning against a black car by the side of the road, dressed in a full suit and tie.

"Get in the car," Hades says - commands - and opens the door up for Louis to step inside.

Louis lingers, shoving his hands into his pockets. "What about dinner?"

Instead of answering, Hades gets in the backseat himself, leaving the door open for Louis.

Louis doesn’t like this one bit. The reason why he chose to meet up with Hades at the restaurant is because it’s public. Louis would ask for a deal, and if Hades got pissed, there’d be a chance for Louis to just walk out and come up with another plan. Now though, Hades is pretty persistent on having Louis come with him.

Louis won’t be in control anymore.

That doesn’t stop Louis from stepping into the car, though.

"Where’re we going?" Louis asks, buckling up.

"My office," Hades says, bringing his phone out of his pocket.

"The Underworld?"

"No, my other office."

Alright, then.

Louis slumps against the leather seats while his father is making a call, something about "an idiot satyr who got lost in the labyrinth" - whatever the hell that means. The traffic rushes by outside the windows, so Louis turns to watch that instead of his father - or his driver, for that matter. Louis swears the driver’s got a green tilt to his skin, though it may just be the lightning.

"What kind of a knob head plays his flute to calm down?" His father exclaims, dragging his hands through his thin hair. "That’ll only make the labyrinth grow thicker. That dumb fuck."

Louis presses his lips together, trying as best as he can to tune out his father’s conversation before he bursts out laughing. But it’s getting interesting.

"Of bloody course he’ll die if he doesn’t put that fucking flute away- no- no, I can’t spare him," Hades sighs dramatically. "If you don’t want him to suffer, that is. No? Then tell him to get a grip."

Louis had imagined that Hades’ job was to sit on his throne sipping on a glass of wine while watching as a stream of screaming souls floated past him, not arguing about nervous goats over the phone. Sounds exhausting.

After another few minutes, Hades finally hangs up the phone.

"Satyrs are real, huh?" Louis asks.

"Very real, and very annoying," Hades sighs.

"Why couldn’t we talk at the restaurant?" Louis asks.

"Because I wanted to show you the office."

"Where’s the office?"

"You ask too many questions," Hades says, and doesn’t elaborate further. Louis holds back a snarl.

They sit in silence for the rest of the ride, which isn’t any longer than five more blocks. The driver makes a left turn into an underground parking lot, and pulls up a few meters away from a lift. 

"Thank you, Isak," Hades says, stepping out of the car. Louis lingers a moment longer, staring at the back of the drivers head.

"Why are you green?" Louis blurts, feeling his cheeks colour.

The driver turns, and locks his lime-green eyes with Louis’, raising a perfectly arched brow. "Uhm, I’m a nymph?"

"Oh," is all Louis manages, and scrambles out of the car half a second later, jogging to catch up with his father.

"So strange," Louis comments under his breath, glancing over his shoulder. He shouldn’t really be surprised by the strangeness he encounters anymore, considering the things he’s already seen. It’s just kind of hard to become immune to surprises when he’s so used to his dull, human life.

Hades presses the down button as they step into the lift, making Louis raise an eyebrow at him. "We’re not going up?"

"Zeus’s territory," Hades mumbles. "I can’t go higher than five floors. And the basement’s nice. I’ve got an aquarium."

Louis’ phone vibrates in his pocket. He awkwardly rummages for it for a moment, glances at it for a second before switching it off.

"You can answer that," Hades says.

"I’ll call him back later," Louis says - knowing that he probably won’t call Harry later, - and pockets his phone. He’s probably found the note by now.

After they step out of the lift, Louis follows Hades down a cozy hallway. It looks like a proper office floor; coffee machine, huge plants, wooden floors and walls, rooms separated with glass walls. It’s quite big, and kind of has a bit too homely atmosphere in Louis’ opinion, considering Hades works here.

They walk past an open area packet up with wooden desks, office chairs, and - of course - Hades’ aquarium.

If Louis and Hades’ weren’t the only people here, it wouldn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary. But it’s completely abandoned - or rather, untouched. Like no one has ever actually been here besides the two of them.

"Here we are," Hades says once they’re at the end of the hall, and holds a glass door open for Louis to step inside. In contrast to the safe house, Hades’ office actually has a claustrophobic feel to it. The blinds are drawn, so he can’t see the rest of the office floor anymore. There are no windows, no paintings on the walls, no rugs.

The walls in this office is painted in a dark, chocolate colour - which would normally have a calming effect, but the ceiling is painted black, which again makes the room itself look like a black hole. There’s a desk with a huge chair behind it placed in the middle of the room, and on top of the desk is nothing but a computer - perfectly aligned with the chair.

"I’ll find you a chair," Hades says, and disappears before Louis has time to react.

Louis steps further into the room, taking it all in again - although there’s nothing more to take in, really. Apart from how cold it is, that is.

Louis crosses his arms over his chest, feeling his hands are already starting to get colder.

"This will do," Hades says from behind Louis, putting down a foldable chair in front of the desk. "Sit."

Louis sits.

Hades walks up to the front of his desk, and leans against it instead of sitting down in his own chair, gazing down at Louis. "So? Do you like it?" He asks, holding his arms out.

Louis shifts a bit, low-key annoyed Hades found him a plastic chair instead of letting him sit in the chair behind the desk when Hades has no intention of sitting down himself."It’s nice."

"Yeah?" His father grins. "I have one office in every capital city around the world - some even bigger than this one. But I must admit." He smudges a stain off his desk. "This one is my favorite."

They’re silent for a moment. Louis feels small under his father’s gaze.

"You said it was urgent," Hades says after a few moments, a somewhat strict tilt to his tone. "So why did you want to meet me?"

"Um," Louis clears his throat, and sits up straighter.

"I haven’t got all day."

Louis has to restrain himself from glaring. It’s not easy to build up the courage to speak without the complete knowledge of what consequences his words will end in. There will be consequences either way, he’s just not sure how bad they are.

"I wanna make a deal," Louis says, his voice coming out much stronger than he would’ve thought. He sounds extremely confident, like what he’s asking for is a job rather than a deal that might end his life as he knows it. He’s not feeling particularly confident, though. He’s terrified.

Hades cocks an eyebrow. "A deal?"

"Yes," Louis says, making sure he doesn’t break eye contact. "I want the demigods out of the Underworld in exchange for whatever you see fit."

"Yeah?" Hades says, slinging one leg over the other. "Like what? It must be beneficial for us both."

Louis swallows thickly, absentmindedly playing with a loose string from his t-shirt. He wonders how taking away Evan Johansson’s sense of taste was beneficial for them both. It’s not like Hades is trying to ruin every food producer in the world one food choker at a time. "It’s up to you. Whatever’s fine."

"So if I set the demigods free from the Underworld, you’d be happy to exchange whatever, is that correct?"

Louis nods slowly.

"Take away your sight, your speech, your hearing? Forbid you from spending money, forbid you from falling in love, make your mother forget she ever had a son?"

Louis looks down at that, feeling his pulse picking up. Did he think this through well enough? Does he care enough for the demigods to sacrifice himself like that?

That’s kind of the point of it all, really. The reason why he’s doing this is because he does care, and when Louis cares about someone, he’ll stop at nothing to make sure the people he cares about are safe, that the people he cares about are as happy as they can be. He cares about Harry. He cares about innocent demigods who did nothing to deserve their fate. He cares about those who deserve better. They all deserve better.

Louis, on the other hand, doesn’t deserve a single good thing after all the lies, all the things he’s done that at the end of the day makes him a bad person. Sure, good people lie all the time as well, but would they lie about something so big as to who they were to the people they care about, just to save their own ass?

So Louis nods.

Hades’ is silent for a moment, considering. Then, to Louis’ bafflement, he starts chuckling. Lowly, mockingly, shaking his head. "What do I do with you," he muses.

"I’m being serious," Louis says, sounding way less snarky than what he originally went for.

Hades drops his smile then, and sighs deeply. "I’m really sorry, son, but… Only one deal per person."

Louis frowns. "What do you mean?"

"What I mean," Hades says, rising from the desk. Louis almost scoots his chair back on instinct. Almost. "Is that you already made your deal."

"I’ve never made a deal with you," Louis says.

Hades shrugs. "Well, technically I made it for you, but… Details."

"What kind of deal," Louis manages, grinding around a lump in his throat.

"I made sure you were unable to fade away in the river Lethe," Hades says. "In exchange for your soul."

Louis’ heart is hammering. "My soul?"

"I own you, Louis. At least some part of you, for now. We are connected, meaning I always know where you go. I feel it, in here," Hades says, tapping his temple. "Decades from now on you won’t be here anymore, which is how it is for everyone. But your spirit will be, where all those powers, all that knowledge and all those memories are hidden. When your spirit leaves you, it comes to me. But some loses their spirit long before they’re gone, so my guess is that it won’t be long until it’s my turn, considering how your ability to control yourself is getting weaker."

"You’ll never own me." Louis raises from his chair, and tries so hard to be braver than he is. "And I’m not weak."

"The river Lethe made you weak. Hell, it even killed you! Three times, no less. Ever wondered where all those nightmares from when you were younger came from? The sleep walking when you were twelve? The unexplainable feeling of paranoia, fear, and panic? Resurrection has it’s price."

Louis’ at a loss for words, what with his mind doing the screaming for him. Memories from his teenage years, these past few weeks, flash before him, like the puzzle pieces are finally being put together.

"If any other demigod stepped a foot in that river, their chances of survival would be close to zero." Hades says, taking a step closer. Louis moves back. "You should thank me, son. You owe me your life."

"No, fuck you," Louis says, raising his voice. "You’re the one that dragged me under that cursed river. I had no choice! You can’t just drown me and say you own me now, just because you," quotation marks, "saved my life."

"But I can." Another step. "I’m Hades, after all. And just so you know, before you get all mopey for not getting your way, I wouldn’t have agreed on a deal with you either way regardless of the fact that you’ve already made your deal. The minor gods are on my side for once, and I’m not about to throw that away for you."

Louis freezes. He should have known better than to trust Hades. "You said you didn’t have anything to do with the demigod hunt."

"I mean, you are quite helpful when the minor gods are asking for directions."

"What?" Louis asks, raising his voice. "Is Gemma gone because of you?"

"Technically it’s because of you. I wouldn’t have told the minor gods where they hid if you’d just stayed away from there."

Louis shakes his head, clenching his teeth so hard it feels like they’re about to break. It was Hades that told him it was safe to go back there. Hades made him believe no one was following him. He fucking screwed him over. "I fucking knew it," he mutters.

"Point is," Hades says, ignoring what Louis said. "I have to get along with them to get what I want. If the minor gods lose their trust in me I’m back at square one again."

"What is it that you want, then?" Louis bravely asks, straightening his posture.

"I like to be in control," Hades says. "I like to know what is going on at all times. Being banned from Olympus isn’t exactly doing me any favours, which is why I’m seeking out minor gods to get on their good side. They’ll fill me in on everything that’s going on up there, as long as they get their end of the deal."

"End of their deal being demigods," Louis states. "That’s fucking disgusting."

Hades breathes a humorless laugh. "Anyway… This is why it’s good to have you. It’s handy to have another pair of eyes to look through."

"So you know everything." It isn’t a question. "You know where to find us."

Hades nods. "Don’t worry, though. You have plenty of time to hide your precious half-blood friends before the minor gods come for them up at your friends house as well. Two weeks, I’d say? As long as you don’t go with them, that is."

How the fuck is Louis supposed to get out of this? Louis’ like a walking hidden camera, and he can’t ever be trusted by anyone ever again. Including himself.

"I also know you don’t go to school anymore," Hades chuckles, as if trying to break the tension. "I’d suggest you’d find yourself a better job, though. The Fates informed me that if you keep this up you’ll end up in jail in a couple of months. I’ve heard it’s not very enjoyable."

Louis doesn’t want to be here anymore.

"That’s the perks of being my son. You get all the insider information, as well. All you have to do is ask."

"I didn’t ask," Louis says, referring to more than just his fate. "Is this why you won’t take my memories away now? Because all of a sudden I’m actually useful to you?"

Hades shrugs. "Basically."

"You don’t even give a shit about me, do you?"

"Of course I do," Hades says, voice dripping with false care. "I wouldn’t be telling you any of this if I didn’t care. And secondly, the minor gods have no idea what my source is. They don’t know who you are, and that I’m your father, because obviously that would piss them off. That’s me protecting you. All they know is that I got inside some demigods head, and I’m just-"

"Using me," Louis interrupts.

"Not letting our connection go to waste," Hades corrects, making Louis roll his eyes. "I can even let you find another safe house, if that’s more comfortable for you. You can start fresh, and avoid all that… Attachment. Someplace where Harry isn’t around."

Louis steps closer to Hades, glaring him in the eyes. "Don’t you fucking dare say his name ever again."

Hades smiles menacingly, his ice-cold breath hitting Louis’ face like a thousand spikes of ice. "I must say, I do miss his company quite a bit."

"Fuck you," Louis spits, turning on his heal.

"Louis," Hades calls tiredly from behind him. "C’mon, son, don’t be like-"

Louis slams the glass door closed before he hears the end of the sentence, walking straight to the lift with rage, frustration, and fear boiling in his veins.

He never wanted this.

 

 

"Don’t want this," Louis slurs, pushing the glass of water back to the bartender tiredly. "Top me off again, will ya."

Louis doesn’t feel drunk. He feels like he’s going to pass out, is all. No giddiness, no floating feeling, just all the downsides to drinking. He’s been to the bathroom twice, had twenty trips down memory lane - that being bad memories - and his head is pounding, like he’s already gotten a hangover.

At least he’s still able to walk straight.

The bartender hesitates for a moment before filling up Louis’ glass again. Louis chugs the drink down in one go.

It was probably a bad idea to turn off his phone and go drinking by himself in the middle of London. Probably a bad idea to start drinking in the first place. But he was stressed, not really knowing where to go after what his father told him. He can’t go to his flat, because he won’t be allowed inside. He can’t go to the safe house, because there’ll probably be minor gods waiting for him there. He can’t go to the mansion either, in case the minor gods are already following him and decides to take everyone in that house down once and for all.

So for now, Louis is homeless.

"Again," he says, pushing the empty glass towards the bartender. There are some older men sitting on the bar stools next to him, eyes fixed on the telly where a football match is on. There was a time where Louis actually gave a shit about football. About a month ago, give or take.

"Are you sure?" The bartender asks warily, and Louis’ this close to march behind the bar to mix his own drink.

"Yes," he grunts.

This is selfish for so many reasons. One is that Liam, Niall, Harry- fuck it, even Balder are all probably desperately trying to reach him by phone now. How long does Louis have to be away before Balder tells everyone about Louis’ - now failed - plan? How long before someone comes looking for him?

"Oi," someone shouts from behind him then, and a thick hand lands on his shoulder, spinning him around in his seat. "Aren’t ya that wanker that stole all me money?"

Louis squints his eyes, staring at the middle-aged man in front of him. He’s got a mustache the size of a rat, placed awkwardly under his nose like someone used his face to play ‘pin the tail on the donkey’. Charming.

"Sorry, don’t know ya," Louis lies, remembering he had to wear a pin at this man’s bar, resulting in one bleeding nipple and 300 quid.

The man - Louis’ quite certain his name was Bill - takes his phone out of his pocked, straightening his stance in front of Louis as to make sure he won’t escape. He’s a big guy, shoulders broad and tummy round. Louis’ not sure if he even has the energy to run off, so he sits there patiently, listening to the cheers from the men beside him when their team scores a goal.

"See this," Bill says, showing Louis his phone - or rather, a picture of Louis on his phone. It’s quite a grainy picture, taken from a security camera, but there’s no doubt that’s Louis right there, sneaking money into his back pocket.

Shit.

"That’s not me," Louis says, shooing the phone away from his face. "Leave me alone."

Instead of leaving, the man lifts the phone to his ear, not taking his eyes away from Louis.

"What’re ya doin’," Louis slurs, feeling his sight failing him a bit. He blinks.

"Calling the police," Bill says, then he gains the bartenders attention, mouthing ‘watch him’ before someone answers him on the other end of the phone.

Shit.

Baffled, Louis stares up at Bill. Then he turns to look at the bartender, whose leaning across the counter, watching Louis.

"You’re not gonna pay for those drinks, are you?" The bartender asks.

"No," Louis says, letting his head fall onto the counter. He’s sleepy.

Wants to sleep now.

"‘m tired," he mumbles, throwing all his cares out the window in that exact moment.

At least jail has a bed. At least he won’t be sleeping in the streets tonight. He might even get some food, a shower if he’s lucky, and a comfy jumper.

He feels someone pat him on his shoulder out of pity. "Get some rest while you can," the bartender says.

And that’s the last thing Louis remembers before passing out.

 

 

Louis wakes up in the backseat of a car, extremely disoriented and extremely nauseous. He’s lying sideways, his seatbelt hanging around him awkwardly like he was unable to stay in a sitting position. Streetlights are passing by outside like fireballs, making Louis feel dizzy.

He grunts.

"He’s waking up," a voice says, surprisingly familiar.

Louis doesn’t have any cop friends, does he?

"Fucking idiot," another voice mutters.

"Give him a break, he’s going through some stuff."

"Could’ve at least answered our calls."

Finally, Louis is able to connect some faces to the voices, and the nausea is speeding out of control when he figures out that Zayn and Liam are hanging out way more than necessary.

"Swear to god, Zayn," Louis slurs, mouth dry. "If you ever- ever- go anywhere near Liam’s cock- dick- wien- manhood, I’ll- I’ll break your perfect nose."

Liam chuckles awkwardly in the passenger seat, and reaches his hand back to pat Louis’ knee. He misses by a mile and gives him a thumbs up instead. Louis grabs Liam’s thumb, holding it still. "Missed you, Li."

"We saw each other this morning, Lou," Liam answers patiently.

"Sorry I left you," Louis says, squeezing Liam’s thumb in his hand.

"You’re here now, it’s alright."

"How’d I get here," Louis asks, closing his eyes, the grip around Liam’s thumb getting slacker. "I was- mustache man- arresting me."

"Payed mustache man off," Zayn grunts annoyed, taking too sharp turns for Louis’ stomach to handle. "Had to pay your bill for you as well."

"My wha’." Louis closes his eyes, burying his face in the carseat.

Liam ruffles Louis’ hair gently, sighing. "You had a lot to drink. Gonna feel that in the morning."

"Nah," Louis yawns. "Perrie’s gonna heal me. Healing powers. Pew pew," Louis giggles, shooting finger guns.

Someone turns the radio on - Louis’ guess is that it’s Zayn, given Liam would never turn the radio on that loud in the middle of a conversation. Some old pop song is blaring from the speakers, and Louis’ head just won’t stop spinning. If he was younger, he’d probably would have been sick right about now, puking all over the leather seats. But Louis has great experience with nausea from his partying days, so he regulates his breathing instead, willing his stomach to be nice to him.

"Rude," he mutters, even if no one can really hear him, before dozing off again.

Things are a bit choppy after that, what with Louis either going in or out of consciousness, or simply just being so drunk he’s blacking out.

He’s still convinced he isn’t that drunk, though.

"‘m just a bit stressed ’s all," Louis mumbles while trying to walk a straight line towards the front door of the mansion, after having promised Liam he learned how to walk ages ago. "Met a nymph today."

"What’s he on about?" Liam asks Zayn, as if Louis can’t hear him.

"Rude," Louis mutters again, giggling when he realizes how great of a word that is. So short, yet so meaningful. "Rude," he says again, this time faster. "Rude, rude, ruderuderude."

"You tell me," Zayn says to Liam, while backing away from Louis.

"Teell me, whadya hafta go and makin’ things so complicated," Louis sings while opening the door, his voice echoing through the house. Harry’s standing at the foot of the stairs, stock still like a statue, startling Louis out of his haze. This is when Louis first realizes that he’s actually acting like a drunk person, and refrains from slapping a hand over his face.

Tomorrow is going to be a nightmare.

Harry takes a few careful steps forward, and Louis has to scoot his feet a bit apart to keep his balance. "Are you drunk?"

"Had a few," Louis confesses, swaying away as Liam and Zayn step through the door.

"Do you need help getting him up the stairs, or?" Zayn asks, still an annoyed tilt to his voice.

"Shut up," Louis mutters, confidently walking towards the staircase. He may be an idiot, and he knows that. Doesn’t mean he deserves to be treated like one, though.

"A thank you would be nice," Zayn calls after Louis the minute he’s placed his hand on the railing, bracing himself for the climb.

"Thank you, Liam," Louis says, making a - wasted, given he probably won’t remember this - mental note to himself to kick Zayn in the arse tomorrow morning if he finds out he slept over. There are other fish in the sea for him. Literally anyone but Liam.

Probably breathless - Louis wouldn’t know, his upper body is numb - he crashes face first into his mattress, vaguely registering someone shutting the bedroom door behind him.

"I got you a glass of water, and some painkillers for when you wake up."

"Harreeeeeh," Louis drags out, voice muffled against his pillow.

Harry doesn’t answer, simply undresses in silence, before turning off the lights and getting into bed next to Louis. Louis’ too damn tired to get out of his jeans, so instead he just lays there, breathing in the dust that’s gathered up on his pillow during the day.

"Are you mad at me," Louis asks quietly, eyes closed.

"I’m not mad at you," Harry answers, voice calm, and genuine, and warm, and Harry.

"I like your voice," Louis says, not thinking. It’s nice to be able to say things without having to think about them too much sometimes. It’s like he’s just speaking straight from his heart. It’s raw, the words yet to be processed by the millions of excuses and billions of what if’s. What a waste of time that is. "If I’d lost my hearing today, I’d probably miss the sound of your voice the most."

Louis quickly turns over a bit, facing Harry, knowing he’s revealed too much. Harry’s got a frown etched onto his face, looking like a question mark.

"Your note." Harry shifts a bit, leaning up on his elbow. "It said you wouldn’t come back."

"Might not come back," Louis corrects. "But I’m here now."

"I was worried."

"So was I."

Harry sinks down into his pillow again, eyes still on Louis in wonder. "Will you be truthful if I ask you about it when we wake up?"

Louis inhales deeply, the smell of vanilla overtaking his every thought. "You always smell so nice."

"Will you?" Harry presses, but Louis’ already forgotten the question, much more interested in the way the moonlight hits Harry’s shoulder, making it glimmer like stars.

Louis reaches his hand out, letting his fingertips dance over the moonlight on the other boy’s skin. His skin is warm, in contrast to Louis’ cold fingers, which results in an eruption of goosebumps down the former’s arm. Louis’ fingers doesn’t feel as numb anymore, or rather; they feel a lot more alive than the rest of his body. He lets them slide down Harry’s arm, and up again.

Louis could fall asleep doing this.

"Will I what," Louis eventually asks, remembering Harry had asked him a question.

"Tell me," Harry asks, begs.

Louis has wishes of his own, though, and he once again let’s his heart do the talking. Raw, unfiltered, completely idiotic. "I really want to kiss you."

Harry makes a defeated humming sound, and Louis drops his gaze.

"Sorry," Louis murmurs, finally retracting his hand from Harry’s arm, like a spell has been broken, making the magic disappear like it was never really there to begin with. 

"Tomorrow," Harry says.

Is he referring to the note or the kiss, Louis wonders. But he doesn’t ask, sealing his lips closed, not wanting to let his heart speak for him any longer.

Chapter Text

So.

Louis’ hungover.

He wakes up feeling like a train has ran over him; a proper locomotive which has poisoned his veins with a burning steam sent straight from hell. Wonderful.

Groaning, he turns over to his side, feeling the inevitable nausea build up in his throat.

This is when the hangover anxiety hits him, and it crashes into him harder than a train, harder than a plane. A meteor, maybe?

He can’t hear anyone breathing beside him, but he peeks open an eye just in case he’s wrong.

Nope, Harry’s not in bed. Louis’ not sure whether he should be grateful about the fact, or feel more anxious given how he acted last night.

Louis had told Harry he liked his voice.

Louis had told Harry he smelled nice.

Louis had told Harry he wanted to kiss him.

"Fucking hell," he groans, burying his face in his hands, cursing the gods for letting him remember every single detail about last night, the memory etched into his brain for eternity, clear as the fucking day.

Not only had he basically declared his love for Harry, but he had also gotten into trouble down at the bar, almost gotten arrested, and rescued by the god of the west wind and his flatmate, who are probably shagging somewhere in this house right now.

Pushing that thought carefully away, as to not make his nausea any worse, he blindly scrambles around after his phone, squeezing his eyes shut at the annoying sound he makes while dragging his phone off the nightstand.

After having turned his phone back on, it starts beeping. Missed calls, unanswered texts, voice mails.

He holds the phone to his ear, and listens to the first voice mail.

"Lou, it’s me," Harry says on the other end over the rustling sound of paper. "What did you mean by ‘fix everything’? Where are you? Please call me back. I’m freaking out a bit here."

Next. "It’s Harry again. As soon as you get this, call back yeah? I need to know if you’re okay."

Next. "Where the fuck are you, you tit," Niall yells through the phone. Liam yells something as well in the background, too muffled to make out. "And what’s with that note? Christ, if this is about that bloody door again - I swear to god, Lou, - I’m gonna knock you out with a fucking lamp and lock you in my own bloody basement the moment you get your arse back here."

Next. "Hey, bud." Liam. "Did something happen? Call me."

Louis stares at his screen, contemplating if to whether or not open his texts as well. The little unanswered texts symbol in his notifications is annoying. Untidy.

He locks his phone, deciding against checking his texts. His chest hurts painfully, the guilt and anxiety and the regrets all bundled up together, squeezing at his already fragile heart, filling his lungs with some metaphorical bullshit blood from all the people he keep on hurting. He’s scaring his mates, he’s scaring Harry. Balder thinks he’s a selfish prick who only wants a hero status.

Now that he really thinks about it, he really is a selfish prick. He really thought he would be able to save Gemma, make a deal with Hades. He really, really thought it would work out.

How stupid of him to think that.

Even if the world he lives in now is anything but realistic according to his past self, doesn’t mean he can all of a sudden move mountains and change the world. Those are unrealistic goals, no matter what world one lives in.

He unlocks his phone again. Maybe he needs this. Needs to bury himself in these feelings of guilt, and reach the bottom before he can get his shit together and start acting like a normal person again. At least half a normal person, what with all things considered.

His texts are just an endless mess of "call me"’s and "where the fuck are you"’s, all from the same three people; Niall, Liam, and Harry. Desperate, angry and worried messages begging him to let them know if he’s okay.

Louis’ such a shit.

Then, in the midst of all the worried texts, is an unopened text from his father.

Two weeks.

 

 

Louis plays games on his phone for an hour before mustering up the courage to exit the bedroom, with joggers tucked deeply into his socks, and wrapped in the biggest hoodie he could find that didn’t smell similar to the death he’s currently feeling like.

His head is spinning, while his stomach is begging him to give it some food. Earlier, he’d taken the pill and drank the water Harry had put at his nightstand, so hopefully he’ll feel a bit better soon.

One thing Louis’ learned over the years, is that ignoring you even have a hangover, is the best cure for said hangover. If he just keeps telling himself he’s never felt better, his body is going to feel the same way.

"How are you feeling?" some girl asks Louis, startling him out of his focused walk down the stairs.

"Like absolute shit," Louis answers honestly, trying to put a name to her face. He knows she’s one of Perrie’s closest friends, but what with his head threatening to explode at any moments, he thinks it’s for the better not to rummage through his head for a name at this point.

"Yeah, heard of your little escapade last night," the girl chuckles, Geordie accent coming through strongly. "You don’t seem like much of a strategist if I’m being honest."

"I never said I was one," Louis says, furrowing his brows.

"If I were you," the girl says, flicking a long, brown lock over her shoulder. "I’d cut all ties with Zephyrus if I didn’t want to be found."

"Why?"

"D’you really think he randomly ran into you at that bar last night?" The girl asks. "I mean, I assume you wanted to be alone. Drown your sorrows and all." Great, everyone is this house knows about what happened last night then.

Brilliant.

Now would be a good time for the ground to swallow him whole, thank you very much.

"Don’t really give a shit about how he found me, to be honest," Louis mumbles, stopping in the entrance hall to brace himself for the coming storm. Harry’s just around the corner, he can hear him. Laughing at some story Niall is telling. Louis’ going to walk in there any minute now, and ruin the mood.

"You should, though," the girl says. "Sorry for being so straightforward about this, we haven’t really talked before, I know this is weird-"

"Hey," Louis interrupts gently. "’s alright."

"I just- have this instinct where I have to find better solutions, better strategies. Can get a bit annoying at times," she says, suddenly shy. "I’m Jeed, by the way."

"Jeed?"

"No, Jeed. Like fade."

"Jade," Louis smiles, reaching his hand out. "I’m Louis."

"I know that," Jade says, shaking his hand nonetheless. "My mother’s Athena. If you couldn’t tell," she says bashfully.

"Oh," Louis says. "Isn’t that the goddess who came outta Zeus’ brain, or summat?"

"That’s her," she says, her posture suddenly drooping a bit, as if she’s uncomfortable. She’s a cute girl, seems wildly passionate about strategies, but extremely shy when it comes to anything else. It’s like Liam with his weird Harry Potter obsession. He can talk about it for hours, but as soon as someone asks him about work, love life, anything else, his cheeks tend to colour.

"Anyway," Jade says after a moment. "Zayn’s a god. That gives him a few privileges. Has all the gods in his phonebook and all that."

"Are you saying he called everyone in his phonebook asking if they’ve seen me?" Louis chuckles, shaking his head. "As if."

"He must have done something," Jade says, and ends their conversation by walking away, just like that.

Strange girl.

Straightening his posture, Louis walks towards the dining room, following the sound of forks and knives clinking against porcelain.

The sound stops abruptly the moment Louis enters the dining room. Every chair around the table is occopied by demigods and his human friends, all eyes on Louis.

Louis hides his hands inside his sleeves, shifting awkwardly on his feet, contemplating if whether or not he should say something.

"Good morning," a female voice pipes up after the silence has stretched for long enough, and Louis shoots Perrie a quick smile before walking over to the couch in the other end of the room, plopping down.

Conversation starts picking up around the breakfast table after a moment, while Louis tucks his knees up to his chest, watching them. He feels like shit. Absolute shit.

They’re ignoring him; like they should. No one besides Perrie has made an effort to acknowledge his presence with more than glances.

Liam isn’t here, neither is Zayn. Would they ignore him as well, after helping him get home last night?

Niall made it pretty clear through voice mails and texts that he’s pissed at Louis. Balder made it clear that Louis was an idiot.

Harry, though, he hasn’t really made anything clear. Yet.

Louis sits on the cold couch, busying himself with dragging out loose strings from his hoodie, while waiting for the table to clear. He doesn’t want to sit down with that many people right now. Doesn’t want to kill the mood any more than he already has. A better solution would be to go back to bed, but that would only draw unnecessary attention to him, and he doesn’t want that either.

So he waits.

By the time the table is somewhat cleared, Louis’ managed to pull out enough strings of his hoodie to made a ping pong ball out of it. Harry’s still finishing his breakfast, listening to Niall going on and on about some film that has yet to reach the theaters. Another demigod is minding his own business at the other end of the table, while scrolling through his phone over a bowl of corn flakes.

Louis’ stomach growls, and he presses his fist against it to make it stop.

"You can sit here, you know," Niall says from the other side of the room, making Louis look up in surprise, fists full of white strings all tangled together.

He quickly pockets the strings, and nods once before walking over to the table, plopping down on a chair next to Harry. Maybe he should have chosen a chair further away, not really sure Harry appreciates his company right now.

"Tea?" Harry asks then, setting a clean mug in front of Louis, and fills it up before Louis has a chance to answer. Then he puts a plate before him, and starts filling it up with eggs and sausages.

Louis thanks him quietly after Harry’s finished, and starts eating slowly, gaze fixed on his food.

"How’re you feeling?" Niall asks after a moment, breaking the silence.

"Fine," Louis responds, shoving a forkful of eggs into his mouth, chewing slowly.

"Liam told us he and Zayn found you passed out at a bar in the city."

"Yeah," Louis says, picking up his tea, taking small, careful sips to make it last longer.

"You could’ve answered our calls, mate," Niall says, sounding like he’s given up already.

Louis mumbles an apology.

"Called your mum," Niall says then, and Louis whips his head up to look at him.

"What?"

"Me and Liam made it pretty clear last time you went all crazy that we were gonna have to-"

"That’s not your decision to make," Louis interrupts. "I’m not a fucking child. I can take care of myself. You didn’t have to worry my mum for nothing."

"Not for nothing," Niall insists. "I mean, fuck, Louis. Have you looked at yourself in the mirror lately? You look like a zombie, and that’s not even close to exaggerating."

Louis looks away at that, not really having noticed anything changing about his appearance. "Still doesn’t give you the right to go around and blab about things you know nothing about to my mum."

Harry’s sitting still as a stock beside Louis, letting the two boys argue in peace. Louis wonders where Harry stands in all of this.

"What’d you say to her?" Louis asks.

"It was Liam who called," Niall says. "Told her you’re not yourself, and we’re worried. That you disappeared. Left out the part where you left a fucking note behind," he spits, clearly still pissed. "Called her up again when you got back, told her you were drunk out of your mind."

Louis scoffs, putting his fork down. "You make it sound like I was trying to…" Louis shakes his head, not wanting to go there.

"What does it sound like to you then? How would you have reacted? Of bloody course we jumped to conclusions after how you’ve been acting these past weeks. And you won’t even say anything! Tell us what’s going on!" Niall demands, voice echoing through the room.

The demigod that’s been eating his cereal on the other side of the table quietly gets up and exits the room. Christ.

Louis chews on the inside of his cheek for a moment, feeling Niall’s gaze piercing through him, like he’s trying to read his thoughts. "I was doing some errands," Louis settles on.

Niall blinks incredulously, leaning back in his chair. "Errands," he deadpans.

"And it didn’t work out, so I made the stupid decision to get drunk by myself," Louis says. He’s as honest as he can be, at least.

"What kind of errands?" Niall asks after a moment.

"Nothing important."

"Sounds pretty damn important if failing means you drink yourself half to death," Niall points out.

"Alright," Harry pipes in, surprising the other two boys, after not having said a word until now. "Let’s take a break, yeah?"

Harry holds Niall’s gaze for a moment, before Niall nods once and starts gathering up his dishes. Louis shoots Harry a quick, grateful smile, before finishing off his tea.

"You should call your mum," Harry says, loud enough that only Louis can hear.

Louis should. He can’t really remember the last time he gave his mum a call. Hasn’t spoken to her at all after finding out who his father really is. Maybe his mum needs to talk about this just as much as Louis probably does.

So Louis nods, and thanks Harry for breakfast before returning to his room.

He fiddles with his phone for a few minutes, knees drawn up to his chest. He should have called his mum much, much sooner, and he knows it.

Clearing all thoughts out of his head before he starts second-guessing, he dials his mum’s number.

She answers on the first ring.

 

 

Thirty minutes later, Louis’ laying on top of his and Harry’s bed, occupying most of the space with his limbs all spread out, sunken into the mattress. He’s talked himself raw with his mum, and the lump in his throat still hasn’t gone away.

She knew, of course. Knew who his father really was, this whole time. She didn’t know, however, that Hades is using Louis to his own advantage. Didn’t know Louis had figured it all out about the gods several times before. So Louis decided it was for the best not to let his mother know what methods Hades used to make Louis forget.

There’s a knock on the door, and a moment later the door bangs open, startling Louis out of his zombie-like state.

"Oops, sorry," a voice rumbles, while managing to sound high pitched at the same time. "Almost fell through the door, there."

Louis squints his eyes against the lanky boy, who’s balancing an acoustic guitar and a couple of blankets in his hands. "What are you doing?"

"Packing," Harry says, dropping his items at the foot of the bed, and exhales deeply.

"Didn’t know you were moving out," Louis comments, eyeing Harry’s selection of blankets. It looks like something he would find up on Niall’s loft; one with lego print, the other with horses galloping by the seaside.

"We’re going hiking!" Harry exclaims, a pleased grin plastered on his face. "If you want to," he quickly adds.

Alright. Louis will play along.

"Where’re we going?" Louis asks, watching as Harry empties a backpack onto the floor, and starts filling it up with other stuff; a speaker, tape, plasters. "Finland?"

"Not far," Harry promises. "And I’ve made sandwiches."

"What’s the tape for?"

"It’s a surprise," Harry grins. "Meet me down in five minutes?"

"Um." Louis’ not really in the mood. But clearly Harry is, which is why Louis then says: "Alright."

Harry claps his hands once, loudly and thrilled, before stumbling out the door with the guitar thrown over his shoulder and the blankets and backpack in tow.

Suspicious.

There’s no way Harry has forgiven Louis for last night - unless he doesn’t feel like there’s anything to forgive, that is. It’s just strange to Louis, how everyone besides Harry - and maybe Liam - is pissed at Louis. Harry could at least have given Louis the silent treatment.

But no. Nope, Harry is taking Louis out hiking - which, if Louis’ being quite honest, is a punishment on its own. He hates hiking.

 

 

"I love hiking," Harry breathes satisfied, jumping a bit to adjust his backpack. "Love nature. So peaceful up here, don’t you think? No noisy traffic, no blinding lights, no toxic gasses."

Louis stumbles over a pinecone, cursing lowly to himself, before picking up his speed trying to keep up with Alexander Supertramp himself. "Lovely," Louis comments between breaths.

They haven’t really been walking for more than twenty minutes, tops, but… There are a lot of hills, lots of trees to duck under. Louis prefers walking along the pavements in London, thank you very much.

"Not long now," Harry says, as if he can sense how exhausted Louis already is.

Not even a minute later, Harry stops in his tracks, turning to Louis - who is currently kicking out his leg wildly to get a leaf off of his shoe. Nature is nice and all, sure. To look at.

"Close your eyes," Harry says, leaning a bit closer to Louis to block his view from… Whatever. All Louis can see around him are trees, the leaves barely holding onto their branches.

"I’m gonna fall," Louis complains, gesturing to the roots and rocks in the path before them.

"Close them," Harry insists, taking ahold of Louis’ hand. "I’m not gonna let you fall."

Louis makes a disgruntled noise, but obliges nevertheless, and steps closer to the other boy. He squeezes Harry’s hand with his right hand, and grabs onto his elbow with his left, knowing he needs all the support he can get.

Louis tries his hardest not to open his eyes, lets himself be guided through the thick forrest by someone far less coordinated than him. He can only follow the sounds of branches crunching under their feet, the stubbing of boots against pine needles, Harry’s soft voice telling him where to plant his feet.

It’s quite unsettling, really. But after a while, the fear of falling fades away.

"Shit," Harry curses quietly, and Louis almost, almost opens his eyes.

"What," Louis asks instead.

"Nothing, just, I- um," Harry stresses out, and Louis can only listen to him stumble over his words for so long.

"Are we lost?"

"No, no," Harry quickly says, then steers Louis a bit forward. "Stay here, keep your eyes closed, yeah? No peeking."

"Alright, alright."

Then Harry lets go of Louis, his hand instantly going cold. There’s a bit of rustling, and footsteps pacing back and forth.

"Can I open my eyes yet?" Louis asks, the back of his lids brightening up a bit as the sun hits his face.

"No."

"I’m gonna fall asleep like this, you know. I’m hungover," Louis says, crossing his arms.

"That’s not on me," Harry calls back, suddenly far away.

Louis sighs quietly, but keeps his eyes closed. He’s a bit dizzy, he’ll admit that much, and regrets not asking Perrie to fix his hangover. But maybe it’s good for him to pay for fucking up so badly yesterday. Also, he’s got to admit; going outside, getting some fresh air, it helps immensely with his headache.

"Okay, you can open your eyes now," Harry says after a few more moments.

Louis blinks his eyes open, the sun blinding him for a short second before he manages to see what Harry’s been so excited about showing him, and…

Louis takes a deep breath, trying to will away his laughter. He expected something more mind blowing, to say the least. But there Harry is, arms spread wide with a grin plastered on his face, standing on top of Niall’s lego blanket in front of the saddest pond Louis’ ever seen.

Looks like the pond of the dead, if he’s being quite honest; grey leaves floating around on the surface, no sign of life. A tree has managed to fall halfway over, its branches getting soaked by the - probably toxic - water from the pond.

Louis doesn’t really know what to say, and startles a bit when a frog quacks from somewhere to his right.

"Um," Harry says after a while, dropping his hands. "Place looked more colourful on google."

"No, no," Louis says, stepping forward, taking it all in again. "I like it, honestly. Very, um," he stumbles, gesturing towards the dead bushes by the water with his hands. "Charming."

Harry giggles quietly, before scrunching up his nose. "At least I brought food, yeah?"

Louis plops down next to Harry on the blanket, and they munch on their sandwiches in silence while watching the pond, as if it’ll suddenly come to life. There’s not really much else to look at, apart from trees, maybe even the clouds. But Louis finds himself glancing towards the other boy more often than not instead.

"Why’d you bring me here?" Louis asks after a while, fixing his gaze on his half-eaten sandwich. "You don’t have to pretend like you’re not mad at me, you know."

Harry shifts a bit beside Louis while trying to come up with an answer. Louis braces himself. "‘m not mad at you. I told you that already."

Right.

Louis puts his sandwich down, not feeling very hungry anymore. "You haven’t asked me about it. The note, where I went…" Louis trails off, not really sure he’s ready to share, really. But he’s curious as to why Harry wouldn’t be like Niall and demand answers. Anyone would demand answers. And Louis would probably give Harry answers now if he asked.

"We’ve got all day. There’s no rush," Harry says softly.

Louis dares to turn his head and look at the other boy now, and his eyes are as genuine as his voice. He’s boring his gaze with Louis’, but not in a way that would make Louis feel uncomfortable. More in a way where he feels warm all over, that if he dared, he would give away all of his secrets for Harry to keep.

That’s the thing about Harry; he makes you feel fearless.

Which is why Louis traps the air between them, making them both breathe the same air, as he’s leaning in. He stops, a mere inch away from Harry’s face, breath suddenly caught in his throat. The smell of vanilla takes over his every sense, making his head spin.

He wants this.

"Can I," Louis trails off, blinking, but still not moving.

He can see how Harry flickers his gaze down to Louis’ lips and back to his eyes again. Does he want it too?

"Yeah," Harry breathes out.

It’s quiet. So, so quiet. The wind is hitting the side of Louis’ face softly, his fringe falling over his eyes. There’s a voice inside his head, telling him to back away, telling him he shouldn’t do this. But bigger than that, is the storm in his chest, yelling at him to close the distance, just close the distance, heart spiraling out of control.

Harry closes the distance for him.

It’s hesitant, curious, soft and sweet all at the same time. Louis’ whole body is stock still, as he lets the other boy’s lips brush against his own, taking the lead, like a dance. A hand comes up to brush his fringe aside, the movement so, so careful. It’s as if they move to quickly, one of them will break.

Harry’s trapping bits of Louis’ lips between his own, nibbling at his bottom lip, taking away every bit of control Louis’ got left.

Louis dares to shift closer, and gets up on his knees to tow over the other boy, deepening the kiss. His hands moves their way up, stopping at Harry’s shoulder for support. Not once does he break the kiss, savoring every piece of this moment as if its his only chance.

Maybe it is.

The thought comes as quickly as it goes, being brushed aside as Louis’ hands find their way to the nape of Harry’s neck. He tangles his fingers in the other boy’s hair, drawing a soft moan from his lips, breaking the muffled silence they’ve been floating in.

The silence. So quiet, but at the same time so, so loud. A silence filled with bliss and innocence, like the world isn’t really turning, time doesn’t exist, and no one has ever told a lie.

Louis’ told a lie.

"What’s wrong," Harry murmurs against Louis’ lips, the kiss already broken.

Louis looks away, letting his hands fall away from Harry’s shoulders, before sitting back down.

"Louis." Harry shifts closer when Louis moves away, letting his hand grace Louis’ cheek. "Did you not want to-?"

Louis shakes his head, eyes fixed on his own hands that are firmly planted in his own lap. "I did. Um- I just." He shakes his head again, feeling like he’s tricked Harry into kissing him in some way.

Louis’ not who Harry thinks he is. Louis’ not the person Harry wanted to kiss. Not really.

Harry lets his hand rest of Louis’ cheek, drawing small circles against it. "Hey, hey," he says gently, leaning in to peek at Louis. "Look at me, yeah? It’s alright."

"It’s not," Louis says, still not looking up. "I’m sorry."

"None of that, alright? You have nothing to be sorry about."

"I’m ruining it, I’m sorry," Louis says, feeling sorry for more than just his lies. He feels sorry for Harry, who just hasn’t got a clue as to what Louis’ done to him. Harry’s put down all his walls for Louis, and Louis’ taken advantage of that, too weak to stay away when he’s always known he should have.

"You’re too good to me," Louis says, barely above a whisper, finally meeting Harry’s eyes.

Harry waits a beat, before slowly dropping his hand. "You asked why I brought tape."

Louis blinks, thrown off by the topic change. "I did."

"Well," Harry says, dragging out the syllables, and tilts his head a bit, grinning.

Louis knows what Harry’s doing. Creating an escape, a chance to forget that they every shared a kiss to begin with, letting Louis know that there’s still no rush. Maybe it’s what Louis wants, what he needs right now. That doesn’t mean Louis doesn’t want to feel his lips on him ever again, though. No matter how selfish that sounds.

"Well?" Louis asks, forcing a smile of his own to curl on his lips, his chest not feeling as heavy anymore. How Harry manages to make Louis feel lighter just by changing the tone of his voice, will forever be a mystery to him.

But the escape he’s creating doesn’t feel right. Not now.

Harry waggles his eyebrows - tries to at least, but instead it looks like he’s just overworking the muscles in his face, - and jumps to his feet. "We’re gonna catch a fish!"

"Tape doesn’t really qualify as a fishing rod, Harold," Louis comments, coughing to cover up the waver in his voice. He scoots back on the blanket as Harry rummages through his backpack, pulling out the tape.

"Making my own," he says, tossing the item at Louis’ feet, a smirk playing at his lips. Then he walks over to the tree that’s barely standing, keeping his eyes fixed on the ground underneath it. "D’you see any sticks? Has to have a bit of length to it."

Louis cranes his neck, not really being of any help. "Um, can’t see any, no."

"Wait," Harry says, and squats down next to the pond before pulling out a stick of the water about as long as his legs. "This’ll work," he says, giving it a few swings to get some water off.

Louis can’t really focus on what Harry’s doing, to be honest. The feeling is quite similar to the one he used to have at the end of a long school day, staring at the slow ticking of the clock, instead of taking his lecture notes.

"Are you sure there are fish in the water?" Louis asks, playing along, voice sounding convincingly skeptical. Maybe it comes from the confusion of Harry’s attempted mood change. "If I’m being honest, it doesn’t really look like anything’s lived there for a while."

"Don’t be a buzz kill," Harry scowls, eyebrows drawn together. "Hand me that guitar, will you?"

Louis raises his hands in a quick surrender, not very interested in arguing with the boy that only wants to have a bit of fun, and hands him the guitar.

With a practiced movement, Harry loosens the strings on his guitar, taking them completely off.

"The fishing line," Harry explains, setting his now stringless guitar down.

Louis raises his brows, baffled as to why Harry didn’t just bring a ball of yarn with him. He’s not going to ask him that, though. Doesn’t want to challenge Harry any further.

Harry ties a couple of guitar strings together, as best as he can what with it being steel strings, making sure his ‘fishing line’ is long enough.

"Tape," Harry commands, holding his hand out. Louis blinks, knowing he’d never in a million years be helping anyone build a useless fishing rod if they weren’t Harry. So he hands him the tape, and settles back down to watch as Harry tapes his fishing line to the end of the stick he pulled out of the water.

"Creative," Louis comments, finding he actually means it.

"Me and Gemma used to do this all the time as kids," Harry says, picking up Louis’ leftover sandwich, and tapes it to the other end of the line as bait. "Made around twenty rods out of sticks and tape. There was a lake a mile or so away from our treehouse, and we went there as often as we could. Especially during the summer."

"Did you catch any fish?"

"Gemma did," Harry says, a proud smile curling at his lips. "We didn’t use guitar strings back then, though. Used actual fishing line that we found in the garage. Mum’s never really been into fishing anyway."

"Why not - I don’t know, - buy actual fishing gear?" Louis asks, genuinely curious.

"Where’s the fun in that?" Harry asks, holding out his now complete homemade fishing rod. "D’you wanna do the first throw?"

"Nah, you do it," Louis says, and tucks his knees up to his chest. "You’ve better chances than I do at catching something."

"That’s not true!"

"Go on then," Louis says, gesturing towards the pond. "Catch me a fish."

Harry lingers for a moment, before squeaking out an ‘alright’, and jogs down to the pond. He checks his line, to see if it’ll hold up, before throwing it out into the water.

The picture before Louis feels familiar. The pond, the forrest, the clouds going silently about high up on the sky. The smell is the same, even - a mixture of dirt and pine. Him sitting in the grass, watching as his father does throw after throw, getting more and more agitated, muttering about why none of the fish would bite.

"Might be the weather," his father had said, and glanced behind himself to give Louis an apologetic smile. "Chances to catch anything are bigger when it rains."

Louis had nodded, saving that information for some other day, knowing with certainty that when he grew up, he’d go fishing all the time. He was going to catch the biggest fish in the sea. Make his father proud, and all.

"Sun’s coming up," his father commented a few minutes later, watching as the sky was turning orange. "Better get back to camp, son."

Louis remember wondering why it was so important to his father that they stayed inside at sunrise. It makes sense, given what happened after. Louis blinks the forgotten memory away, and focuses his gaze back on Harry.

Harry’s been trying so hard, not only today, but all days to make sure Louis’ able to catch his breath, bring a smile to his face, and just forget about all the awful things that’s constantly going on around him. But Harry can’t save him from the memories, from his father, or from his fate.

Least of all when Harry’s got no clue as to what’s really going on. And Louis is not going to let himself escape from it.

"Haz," Louis tries to call out, but his breath gets caught in his throat. He tries again. "Harry!"

Harry turns, brows furrowing when his eyes meet Louis’, and he doesn’t hesitate before coming over. "You want to try?" He asks, holding out his fishing rod. "Don’t think there’s any fish out swimming today, though."

Louis chews on the inside of his cheeks for a moment, his pulse picking up. "Last time I went fishing I was twelve," Louis says.

Harry puts down his fishing rod, plopping down in front of Louis on the blanket. "Yeah?"

Louis nods, trying to figure out how to proceed. "With my father. Um." Say it. "My real father."

Harry frowns, but doesn’t say anything.

"I lied about that," Louis confesses.

"About not knowing which one of the gods your real father is," Harry states, as to make sure he heard right.

"Yeah," Louis whispers. He wants nothing more than to grab ahold of Harry’s hand, make sure he won’t go anywhere. But that’s not up for Louis to decide.

"Why did you lie about that?" Harry asks after a while. His face is passive, as if he’s holding back whatever disgusted expression that’s hiding under his skin, screaming at him to break free.

"I didn’t want you to know," is what Louis settles on.

Harry hums, but doesn’t press further. It’s one of the many things Louis appreciates about Harry; he won’t push you into something you’re not ready for. Louis doesn’t feel ready to tell Harry these things, and maybe he never will.

But he’s running out of time.

"I can’t really remember much," Louis says, furrowing his brows together, concentrating on the story rather than the crushing feeling inside his chest. "I’m not supposed to remember. My father, he took away bits and pieces of my memories, making sure the things about gods, monsters, you, and I- all those things, um," he stumbles, trying to find the right words.

Harry beats him to it. "Would stay fiction."

"Yeah," Louis nods. "As you know, gods aren’t supposed to have children, nor any contact with them. But he broke all those rules, and has been a part of my life, no matter how small, this whole time."

Louis peeks up at Harry, seeing if he’s able to read his expression. Still passive.

So Louis continues. "A few weeks ago he told about that time when I was twelve, and took me fishing. And…" Beat, beat, beat. "Apollo saw us."

"Who’s your father then?" Harry asks.

"I’ll- I will get to that," Louis promises, voice coming out weak. He wipes his palms on his jeans, feeling a surge of regret run through his veins, because he knows he can’t turn back now.

"We can talk about it later," Harry suggests, leaning forward a bit. "No rush."

"No, no," Louis insists. "Gotta say it now. Don’t have enough time."

"We have all the time in the world," Harry gently says, like Louis hasn’t just admitted to one of his biggest lies. One of them.

"We don’t."

Two weeks, Hades said. But Hades has fucked Louis over before, and Louis’ ought to have learned from the mistake of trusting him.

Choose to have good people in your life, his mother has always said. Choose those who makes you laugh, those you trust with everything you have. Choose to stay with those that would shatter your heart if they ever were to decide to leave you behind. Though it may not seem like a great thing, only the very best of people will leave you in pieces in the end.

That’s the way it’s supposed to be.

So Louis’ going to give Harry all of himself, and give him a chance to leave. Pieces of his heart has already been given away to the boy with the curls, piercing eyes, and the warmest of smiles. It would only be fair to let him take them with him when he leaves.

"Apollo saw us," Louis repeats, getting back into the story. "And he didn’t really do anything about it at the time. But obviously I had seen too much, and my father took away my memories in a… not so pleasant way. And a couple of other times after that."

Harry makes a sad humming sound, and takes ahold of Louis’ hand. Does Louis really deserve the comfort?

"I’ve done something… bad," Louis says. "But I don’t want you to leave," Louis says, realizing it’s the most honest thing he’s ever said to the boy before him.

"I’m not going anywhere," Harry murmurs, giving Louis’ hand a gentle squeeze. "No matter where this story is going. No matter who your father is. You’re a good person, Lou. And whatever the reason you have for hiding things, the lies, all that- there has to be a reason."

Louis looks down at their hands, blinking. He doesn’t deserve it, doesn’t deserve Harry.

"Look," Harry says. "Let’s look at things from my perspective for a moment, yeah?"

Louis dumbly nods, feeling exhausted though he hasn’t even told Harry half the truth yet.

"This may sound sappy and all," Harry begins, surprising a quiet laugh out of Louis. "But… To me, you have the heart of Hera, the courage of Ares-"

Louis huffs, not quite agreeing about the courage bit.

Harry shushes him, and continues. "The brains of Athena, the beauty of Aphrodite, the wit of Hermes… the stubbornness of Artemis."

"Gee, thanks," Louis mumbles, but he can’t hide away his smile.

"Point is," Harry says, tipping Louis’ chin up to look him in the eyes. "Whatever’s happened in the past, doesn’t define who you are now. You are not your father. And you are not a bad person."

Louis stares Harry dead in the eyes, feeling another piece of his heart having been stolen from him. Might as well let Harry go now, before he takes away the remaining pieces.

"All the gods you mentioned," Louis begins, forcing his voice to stay even. "They’re all Olympians. Powerful, goodhearted, protective, trustworthy. They’ve earned their place on Olympus, haven’t they?"

Harry lets his hand drops from Louis’ chin, and nods. "I guess they have."

"Then what if I told you," Louis says, willing his gaze to stay on Harry, willing the lump in his throat to go away. "That my father is no Olympian. That my father doesn’t have a good heart at all."

"You’re not your father, Louis," Harry repeats in a whisper.

"What if," Louis continues, ignoring what Harry said. "My father is one of the reasons Gemma is gone."

Harry’s hand goes slack for a split second around Louis’, but he doesn’t break eye contact. "He’s a minor god, then."

"No," Louis says, heart about to break through his chest. "In your eyes I might have the brains of Athena and the courage of Ares, but in reality, I-" Louis swallows thickly, not allowing himself to look like some sort of victim. Not allowing Harry to tell him that Louis’ not his father. Not allowing himself to cry. "I have the blood of Hades."

It’s a funny thing, how easy it is to break a heart. Louis’ broken his fair share of hearts in the past already. He broke his mother’s heart once, when he was little, and decided to run away from home. Proper scared her, resulting in him being brought back home by two tired police men, and a right rollicking the moment he stepped inside the door again.

He broke his sisters heart once too, by telling her there’s no such thing as fat man in a red suit climbing down chimneys. She cried, and she cried, and she cried. Louis knew he couldn’t let his sister cry herself to sleep thinking Santa wasn’t real. So he arranged for their neighbor to run across their garden in his costume late at night, and made sure his sister was watching.

It was easier to fix her heart, than he imagines fixing Harry’s heart will be.

Harry still hasn’t let go of his hand, but his entire body is stock still, like he’s unable to move. Unable to look Louis in the eyes.

"Apollo made a deal with Hades while you were in the Underworld," Louis says, desperate to get it all out there. It’s not like he can make things any worse now. "Threatened to tell the gods about my existence, which could start a war among the gods on its own, if he didn’t release you from the Underworld. And now here we are."

Harry still doesn’t move a muscle, face completely unreadable behind a curtain of hair that’s fallen over his eyes. He’s staring at their hands.

Some sort of response would be nice. Whether its rage or tears, Louis doesn’t care. He needs to know what Harry’s thinking. So he presses further. "I have a deal with Hades, as well."

No response.

"He drowned me in the river Lethe, and made sure I would survive in exchange for my soul," Louis says, each word as piercing as a hammer on steel. "He’s taking my spirit. And he’s got this connection with me, knows where I am. Much like how Apollo always knows where you are."

Still nothing.

"Say something," Louis asks, begs, feeling the lump in his throat returning. "The demigods wouldn’t had have to run away from the safe house if it wasn’t for me. The minute I stepped a foot in there, he knew where you where. He’s got a deal with the minor gods, and they’re coming here as well. Because I’m here."

Harry’s gaze shoots up, his breath coming out choppy, like he’s trying to control himself. But Louis still has trouble figuring out what’s going on inside his head. He doesn’t look angry, he doesn’t look sad.

"Harry, please say something."

Nothing.

Would there be a reaction if it hurt more? "When you started to forget, while in the Underworld, it was because you were fading. That’s what’s going to happen with Gemma, that’s what’s happened with demigods before. They’re not stuck down there forever, like you thought. We’re running out of time."

Harry furrows his brow for a split second, but still… Nothing.

Louis inhales deeply, his heart sinking in his chest. "I just," Louis starts, voice almost breaking. Almost. "I’m sorry I didn't tell you. I wanted to tell you, I did. And I should have told you long ago about who my father is. About fading away. But I was scared. I was selfish."

When Harry still doesn’t answer, Louis dares to take ahold of Harry’s other hand, and brings them both together on the other boy’s lap. "And it’s been killing me, alright?" Louis says. "I don’t deserve to be here with you, or with the demigods, and I should have known. And I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry."

"Don’t," Harry says then, voice coming out rough, sending a chill down Louis’ spine.

"I’m sorry," Louis whispers, completely out of words as to what else to say.

Harry’s eyes are shining, and now it’s becoming more apparent that it comes from rage rather than hurt. "What else?"

"What else what," Louis manages, swallowing again, the lump still biting down inside of his throat.

Harry leans in closer, making sure to keep eye contact. "What else has he done to you?"

Louis creases his forehead, thrown off by the question. "Nothing-"

Harry cuts him off. "What else have you gone through these past weeks on your own that you couldn’t tell me?"

Louis blinks, confused by Harry’s reaction. Is he angry? Upset? Just as confused as Louis’ been? He answers anyway. "Um… There is something else, yeah."

"Tell me."

"I knew about your past before you told me," Louis says. "Before my father told me anything," he then corrects.

"How?"

"Powers," Louis says, and it sounds more like a question than an answer, the word sounding just as ridiculous now as it did the first time. "I can see the past of resurrected souls, what deals they made, how they died, where they grew up. I might have the power to feel it if someone’s close to dying. Um," Louis’ head is starting to ache, scrambling inside his own head for whatever information he can give to Harry. "First time it happened was after we were at the coffee shop."

"That’s why you told me to leave," Harry says, and Louis can see how the wheels are turning inside his head now. Like every piece is finally falling into place. "You didn’t want to have me around anymore because of my past."

"Because of what my father did to you," Louis corrects, gritting it out between his teeth. "What I assumed he did to you, and were doing to the demigods. What I only yesterday found out was true."

"Your note," Harry remembers. His face is much softer than it was before, almost like he’s… Not angry at all.

"I was going to make a deal with Hades," Louis confesses. "In exchange for Gemma, and all the demigods down there who deserves better."

Harry stills, completely stills for a few seconds before abruptly getting to his feet, making Louis flinch away.

"God, Louis," Harry breathes out, dragging his fingers through his hair rapidly.

Maybe Harry is angry after all. "I’m sorr-"

"Stop saying you’re sorry!" Harry shouts. He takes a deep breath, and continues on. "I don’t want to hear that you’re sorry, and I don’t want you to think for a second longer that you’re to blame for Gemma being taken away, or for the minor gods finding us."

"But it is my fault," Louis says, ignoring the confused tilt to his own voice. He stands up as well, taking a step towards the other boy. "None of this would have happened if it wasn’t for me. You see that, right?"

"No, Louis, I don’t," Harry says, shoulders going slacker. "If anyone should be sorry here it’s me. I should have made you tell me sooner, forced you even. Maybe then you wouldn’t see yourself as the villain you clearly think you are."

"I’m going to get her back," Louis promises, choosing to ignore what Harry says, but not daring to take another step closer. "I’ll find a way, and I’m gonna fix this."

"You don’t have to own up for your fathers mistakes," Harry says, taking the step Louis couldn’t make, closing the space between them. Louis attempts to step away, but Harry grabs ahold of his arm, not letting him go. "I’m so sorry, Louis."

Louis can’t look at him, fixing his gaze on the pond over Harry’s shoulder instead. "You should hate me."

Harry sighs quietly, carefully wrapping his arms around Louis, and pulls him to his chest. Louis wants to pull away, but the other boy keeps him still. "I could never hate you."

Louis fists the front of Harry’s shirt, his head spinning because he’s so fucking confused. This was not at all how this was supposed to go. Harry shouldn’t pity him, shouldn’t say sorry, and he should especially not be holding him in his arms.

"Why are you lying," Louis asks, finally letting the torturous lump in his throat free, words barely sounding like words over the pain.

"I’ve never lied to you," Harry murmurs, rocking back and forth, making them both sway. "And I never will."

Louis buries his face in the crook of Harry’s, wetting his skin with unwanted tears. Harry’s heart is beating harshly, but steadily. So Louis focuses of that rather than anything else.

"And I’m asking you to never lie to me ever again, as well."

Louis nods against the warmth of Harry’s skin.

"Promise me," Harry presses.

"I promise," Louis whispers.

 

 

Louis’ already broken his promise.

It’s around midnight, and Harry’s snoring softly beside Louis, limbs tangled in the sheets, chest moving slowly up and down.

They made it back to the mansion before sundown, both stepping inside the door as if Louis hadn’t been sobbing into Harry’s shirt only moments earlier, as if they both weren’t still shaken up, as if Louis hadn’t confessed to every single lie he’s ever told Harry.

All, except one.

As if they hadn’t just shared their first kiss.

Maybe even their last.

Harry had even cracked a few jokes about what Louis’ been hiding. Nothing touchy. Just "so this is why you get along with Zayn so well, he’s your bloody karate master!" and "Your powers won’t let you know everything about my past right? Because gee, do I have some embarrassing memories." Louis had given him a smile, a rather forced one, because he had hoped that once he told Harry the truth the guilt would let go of him.

But he hasn’t told Harry the whole truth.

Louis turns over in bed, watching the sleeping boy. The boy whose heart Louis does not deserve. The boy whose smile shines brighter than Louis ever will. The boy who could talk Louis out of going away, if he only knew the whole truth.

In two weeks, Louis is leaving him. And though it may break his heart, at least it will keep the boy he’s falling in love with free.

Chapter Text

It’s just before eight in the morning when Louis walks into the kitchen. It wasn’t that long ago that getting out of bed this early was out of character for him, but with Harry being around it’s hard to sleep in. He doesn’t want to miss a single moment with him, what with the small amount of time they have left.

The sun is hanging low on the sky, sending Harry’s shadow long across the floor from where he stands with his back against Louis, cleaning a pan. He’s made eggs.

Today, it’s one week left until Louis has to leave this boy forever. One week until he has to tell the demigods to run away, that the minor gods are coming for them. That Louis is at fault.

What Louis does after the demigods run away, is still uncertain. Maybe he’ll just go back to his old life, knowing that if any minor gods get to him, they can’t really keep him in the Underworld for too long until his father needs him back up on the ground. If Hades got his way, Louis would seek out a new safe house, and let the minor gods come for them instead.

But he’s not going to give his father the satisfaction.

"Morning," Louis greets quietly, and walks up to Harry.

Harry doesn’t turn, just keeps scrubbing the pan gently. "Morning, Lou. Did you sleep well?"

Louis leans his head against Harry’s back, right between his shoulder blades, feeling the softness of his t-shirt against his forehead. He’s so warm all the time. "Had a nightmare again."

Harry hums sadly, turning off the tap. "End of the world?"

Louis nods, letting his eyes slip closed. A moment later, the taller boy turns away from the counter, and wraps his arms around Louis, holding him close to his chest.

Louis’ allowed himself to get closer to Harry. Too close.

The day after their first kiss, Harry had asked Louis for another one. Asked. No one has ever asked that of Louis before, like what he gives away are his biggest dreams rather than a simple kiss. Louis could have said no of course, and left it at that. But he also knows that no matter how much he fights against this feeling he knows is there, the outcome won’t be any worse than it inevitably is going to be in the end.

So Louis had nodded, and let Harry kiss his lips raw.

The feeling of Harry’s lips is addictive. It’s like the minute they break apart, there’s something missing. A space between them. Maybe that is why they have been inseparable this whole week. Louis finds himself grabbing onto Harry’s arm while wandering around the mansion, doesn’t flinch when Harry’s hand lands on his thigh while they’re watching films. Last night, he let Harry trace every single tattoo on his body, all while curiously asking about their meanings, where he got them, which one hurt the most.

"You hungry?" Harry asks, his lips ghosting over the side of Louis’ neck, making the hairs stand up. So addictive.

"Yeah."

There’s a loud bang of a door being shut not only a second later, starting both boys out of their little bubble. The sound of urgent footsteps descending down the stairs follows after, and Louis mournfully breaks away from Harry’s embrace.

"Shit, shitshitshit, shit, shit," a voice stresses, coming closer with each word. "Shit. Shit. Shit!"

"Sounds like Liam’s late for work," Louis comments, followed by Harry’s snicker.

The footsteps find their way into the kitchen, and a half-dressed Liam shows up, face paler than a sheet, with a bloody hand held out towards Louis.

Louis’ eyes widen. "Shit, Li, what happened?"

"I was shaving," he says, chest moving rapidly up and down. He holds his hand closer to Louis’ face, as if Louis couldn’t see all the blood properly.

"Um," Louis says, turning his head away. "I’ll get the first aid kit then."

"Oh, no, no no no," Liam says, huffing. "No need for that when the cut is fucking gone!"

Liam turns his hand over, and back, and over again, so fast Louis doesn’t have a chance to really see what Liam is trying to show him. "It’s gone!" Liam yells out in panic. "Doesn’t even hurt anymore!"

Louis purses his lips, and glances over at Harry quickly before turning to Liam again. "Gone?"

"Yes, gone!" Liam stresses out, inspecting his hand up close. "Like I said, I was shaving, and cut my finger, and blood started coming out so I went around to check for a first aid kit, you know? And then Perrie came out of her room, so I asked if maybe she knew where I could find a first aid kit, yeah?"

"Oh," both Harry and Louis say simultaneously, both knowing where Liam’s story is going.

"And she was like, ‘I’m the first aid kit you’ve been looking for’, or some shit like that," Liam says, gesturing wildly with his hands. "I thought she was flirting with me! And then she took my hand, and poof, pain gone, cut gone, my sanity… Gone!"

Louis wants to roll his eyes, knowing he has to feed Liam the same lie he gave Niall. Why can’t Perrie just… Not be Perrie for a little while longer.

"Liam!" Perrie’s voice calls out then, followed by heels clicking down the stairs. "I didn’t mean to scare you!"

"Shit, she’s coming," Liam whispers, eyes blown wide in panic, before he steps up next to Louis, as if that’ll give him any protection.

Liam makes a low gulping noise as Perrie steps into the kitchen.

"She’s not dangerous, Li," Louis soothes, giving Perrie a slightly annoyed look.

"What?" She asks Louis, putting her hands on her hips. "I’ve done nothing wrong."

"How’d you do that?" Liam asks, voice wavering a bit. "Are you a witch?"

Perrie rolls her eyes. "No, I’m not a witch. I’m the daughter of-"

"Yes!" Louis interrupts, turning to Liam. "You could call it that. A witch, I mean."

Liam scrunches his brows, flicking his eyes between Louis and the so-called witch.

Harry steps towards Perrie, whispering something to her before he starts leading her out the room. She refuses, however, face close to blow up in anger.

"Just tell him!" Perrie exclaims. "I can’t keep doing this! It won’t be the end of the world if your human friends here know the truth."

"Perrie," Harry warns cautiously.

"The truth?" Liam asks, turning back to Louis. Then, so quiet that only Louis can hear: "Human?"

"About who we are," Perrie answers for him. "Like, seriously, Louis. We’re living with them, and I’m tired of being so careful around them. We can’t talk about anything other than sports, and what’s on the telly, or the bloody weather! I’m sick of it."

"That’s what normal people do, Perrie!" Louis booms. "And you’re not going to stay here forever, so let me just handle this, yeah?"

"Handle what? Louis, what the hell is going on?" Liam demands.

"Ey, lads," Niall’s chipper voice says then, and a moment later he’s in the kitchen. He grabs an apple from the fruit basket on the counter, and takes a bite. "What’s with the door slamming and yelling? Most of us are still asleep, ya know."

"Jesus christ," Louis mutters, massaging his temple. It’s too damn early for this.

"Perrie’s a witch," Liam tells Niall, eyeing the small distance between the latter and Perrie cautiously. "Healed my finger after I cut myself."

"Oh, yeah," Niall says casually, taking another bite of his apple. "She has healing powers. You should watch The Man from Snooze with me someday, and you might understand more."

"The what?" Perrie asks bewildered, and shit.

Louis never filled Perrie in on the backstory he made up for her.

"Man from… Snooze?" Niall says, like he’s unsure of his facts all of a sudden. "That’s what Louis told me. That you had a healing clinic and all? Had to run away?"

"You told him what?" Perrie yells, stepping towards Louis.

"Fuck’s sake, Perrie," Louis says, defeated.

"No," she snaps back. "Fuck’s sake, Louis. You’re going to tell them the truth now, or I’ll tell them myself."

Louis’ at a loss for words, really. He understands why Perrie is losing her shit over this, of course, but couldn’t she have given it another week? In a week, the truth won’t really matter anymore, given they’re going their separate ways, and his mates sure as hell doesn’t need to know the truth when the other demigods have gone away. The less Niall and Liam knows, the better.

On the other hand, there’s no way his mates are going to let this go now.

Perrie is arguing with Harry, who thankfully seems to be on Louis’ side when it comes to this. Liam chirps a comment about how confusing this all is every now and then, while Niall is awkwardly munching on his apple, eyes screwed to the floor.

Louis registers that a couple more demigods are standing right outside the kitchen, some biting their nails, others nodding in agreement to what Perrie is saying.

It’s a bloody mess.

"Alright!" Louis exclaims. "Alright, fuck. I’ll tell them. But I swear to god, if this ever comes back to them I’ll-"

"Comes back to them?" Perrie asks. "Of course it won’t. Loads of humans know about our world. My mum knows, Harry’s mum knows. All our other parent knows. Nothing can harm them, they’re only humans."

"Why does she keep referring to us as humans?" Liam asks cautiously.

"Yeah, that’s strange," Niall comments.

"Because," Louis sighs, dragging his hand through his hair. "We may not be entirely human."

Perrie huffs, crossing her arms. "That’s an understatement."

Liam walks over to Niall, and leans against the kitchen counter, like he’s scared of Louis all of a sudden.

Great.

"We’re…" Louis sighs again, looking over at Harry helplessly. Harry gives him a small nod, urging him to go on. "We’re demigods."

"Hahaha," Niall laughs, or says, really. "Funny."

"Perrie’s inherited healing powers from her father," Louis says, ignoring Niall’s comment. "She’s the daughter of Asclepius."

Niall and Liam just stares at Louis, like he’s lost his damn mind. Again.

Harry steps forward then. "And I’m the son of Apollo."

"Before you ask," Louis says, remembering when Harry was trying to convince Louis about the gods. "We’re not pranking you, we’re not delusional, and neither are you."

"Um," is all Liam says, looking to Niall for something to say.

"Demigods," Niall states. "Like Percy Jackson?"

Louis grins. "Yeah."

Perrie is looking very satisfied, chin raised up a bit higher than earlier. "And Jade’s the daughter of Athena, Jesy the daughter of Aphrodite, and Leigh-Anne’s the daughter of Hestia."

Perrie lists every demigods under this roof, and who their parents are. Louis listens in interest, because he doesn’t even know who half of these demigods’ parent is. Brent is the son of Athena - which, according to what Louis’ learned, doesn’t mean he’s Jade’s brother. Of course no one is the son or daughter to one of the Big Three, but the rest of the Olympians are being mentioned, even Hera, the most family orientated goddess there is.

All apart from Artemis - given she’s the goddess of virginity amongst hunt and other things -, and… Hermes.

Louis finds that strange. Or maybe not so strange, since Hermes is the one bringing the demigods down to the Underworld. Maybe he’s on the minor gods side. But can an Olympian really take sides?

"What about you then, Louis?" Niall asks, dragging Louis out of his thoughts. "Who are you the son of?"

Louis freezes for half a second, feeling all eyes on him. The only people in here that knows who Louis’ father is are Harry and Balder, the rest still thinks he doesn’t know himself who his father is, but… The stares he’s receiving right now feels a lot like suspicion.

"My mum," Louis says, making it sound more like a question than an answer. Way to seem less suspicious, Tommo.

"He doesn’t know," Perrie waves off, then proceeds to fill his mates in on the latest in demigod-world. Poor Liam looks like he’s about to faint.

Louis can’t really keep up with what Perrie is telling them, what with his mind still hanging onto what Perrie said about his father. Louis can see that Harry is thinking the same thing, crossing his  arms, shutting his lips, watching Louis.

Louis wonders if it would really matter anymore if he told the truth about his father. In one week, they’ll be on their way to become strangers, and the truth can’t really do any more harm to him than it already has done. As long as the demigods don’t go and blab about it to any gods, he’ll be fine. They might hate him, but he’ll be fine.

It’s suddenly very quiet in the room, and Louis realizes that it’s probably been quiet for a while.

Louis shifts a bit, eyes fixed on the floor, building up the courage to actually say it. He can feel eyes on him, and the silence is almost crushing. He knows that most of the demigods are still sleeping, but he also knows that everything that’s being said in this room, won’t necessarily stay in this room. Louis licks his lips, feeling his mouth going dryer by the second.

He’s going to say it.

"You don’t have to," Harry murmurs.

Louis’ eyes flick over to Harry, and he wonders how Harry can read him so well. "It’s ok," Louis assures.

"What’s with the drama," Niall asks, chuckling awkwardly.

Liam shushes Niall, wearing an expression way more serious than the latter.

"I may not have been, um," he coughs awkwardly, boring his gaze to a spot on the floor. "Completely honest about who my father is."

There’s some low whispering spreading out in the room, but the sound of Harry’s footsteps coming closer to him is louder. Safer.

Harry steps up next to him, and Louis’ not sure if it’s for comfort, or for fighting off whoever is going to kick Louis’ arse first. Hopefully not the latter.

Louis takes a deep breath, willing his feet to stay planted on the floor - the urge running away is making his toes curl. He reaches his pinky out slightly to the side, just to make sure Harry’s still there. He is.

 

 

So.

Dinner is awkward.

It took a certain amount of courage for Louis to join the rest in the dining room, given he’s been hiding out in his room all day after his little confession this morning. He wasn’t kicked in the face or anything, nor did anyone yell at him. There was just a long, long silence, followed by Perrie’s little "oh".

And that was that, before the demigods started to slowly scatter, whispering amongst each other while sending Louis unreadable gazes. At least they didn’t glare at him.

Liam and Niall obviously didn’t get what the big deal was - Niall even tried high-fiving him for having "such a famous dad". Louis had quietly shook his head at that, and left the room.

The pasta on his plate doesn’t look appetizing at all. He’s fucking sick of pasta. Is that the only thing Liam can cook, honestly?

Speaking of Liam, he called in sick today. Told his colleagues he had a migraine, and told Louis he was in shock, or something like that. He’d come up to Louis’ room around noon with Niall, and they had both sat down on his bed, apologizing profusely for assuming he’d gone mad while at the same time managing to give him a right rollicking for lying to them.

Strangely enough, they don’t doubt Louis’ the son of Hades, or that some monsters exist. Louis remembers being in their position, and it took him days to really believe what he was being told. Louis had asked them why it was so easy for them to believe in such a thing, and Liam had simply answered by saying that they trust him.

And fuck, did that hurt.

Louis has managed to separate the pasta completely from the sauce, having scrubbed it off with his fork. He can feel the warmth of Harry’s body next to his, his mates eyes on him, and the judgement from the rest of the demigods ripping his skin apart bits by bits.

"‘m not hungry," Louis says, shoving his plate away from himself, effectively putting a halt to the quiet murmurs around the dining table. Before anyone has a chance to say anything, he gets up, and leaves the room.

How can anyone trust him, when he doesn’t even trust himself anymore?

Louis jogs up the stairs, ignoring the urgent steps that follow after him, and heads straight back to his room. The room is safe. The bed is safer.

The door clicks open the minute Louis lands face-first on his side of the bed, followed by the soft padding of feet. Then, curls falling onto the back of his neck, tickling him. Harry’s lips feel warm against the back of his head.

"What are you thinking?" Harry asks quietly, lips ruffling Louis’ hair as he speaks.

Louis hides his face in the crook of his own arm, burying himself in deeper until he runs out of air. "I wish I could be someone else."

"Lou…" Harry hums sadly above him, before crawling into bed next to him.

Louis dares to peek out from his little hideout that is his elbow, seeing that Harry’s lying in the exact same position next to him, with a worried crease between his eyebrows.

Wordlessly, Louis reaches out towards the crease, and rubs it away with his finger. "Don’t waste your worry on me, Haz."

"You’re always so hard on yourself," Harry murmurs.

"Someone has to be," Louis says, dropping his head down onto the mattress. The cold sheets feels comforting against his skin. "People are just blindly trusting me. Liam trusts me. Niall trusts me. And you."

"There are reasons for that."

"Is there?" Louis questions. "Are the reasons any good, or is it just because you don’t want the other option to be true?"

"Which is?"

"That I’m a minefield," Louis says, voice quivering. "I’m a magnet to minor gods, I’ll be the reason for war amongst the gods, and I’m easily manipulated. One of these days the minor gods are going to be outside the door, someone’s going to let the gods know of Hades’ son existence, and one of these days my father will take my memories away from me again and turn me against you. And yet you still think I can be trusted."

Green, green eyes are curiously flickering before Louis, not quite deciding on which eye they want to look at. Wild curls are swaying slightly along with their breaths like thin, thin ivy. Just because Louis can’t help himself, he smooths a lock of hair against the mattress softly, feeling the silkiness underneath his fingertips.

"Do you trust me?" Harry asks.

"Of course I do."

Harry lifts his own hand, and gently takes ahold of Louis’ fingers, holding them to his lips. Louis stares in wonder as the other boy carefully brushes Louis’ fingertips across his own lips. The mix of cold air coming from his nose, and the warmness of his breath against the very end of Louis’ fingers sends shivers down his spine.

"Would you kiss me, knowing that I didn’t trust you?" Harry asks.

Louis frowns. "It’s not the same thing."

"Would you let me kiss you, then," Harry corrects. "If you didn’t trust me?"

Louis just blinks, thrown off by the question.

"Would you," Harry continues, moving Louis’ hand to his right cheek, letting the latter feel the softness of his skin. "-let me touch you, if you didn’t trust me?"

Louis blinks again, willing his heart to calm down. "I’m- I don’t know."

"If you didn’t trust me, would you believe me if I told you how wonderful you are?" Harry slowly raises up on his elbow, and leans down towards Louis’ face, eyes not even once breaking contact. "How much I admire your strength, your kindness. How seeing your face every morning makes my head spin, because of how fast I am falling for you."

Hearts truly do skips beats by such confessions. Louis swallows thickly, ignoring the heat in his cheeks. "They say love makes one blind."

"If that’s the case, I’d gladly go blind for the rest of my life, as long as I have you there by my side to guide me."

Louis barely has time to roll his eyes at the other boy, before his lips are being crushed by another pair of lips. Heat shoots through his body, sending waves of shivers down his legs, his arms, through his chest. In this moment, there’s no guilt tugging at his heart, no fear crawling through his veins. Nothing but two hearts beating as one, two set of lungs sharing the same air, and the feeling of desperate need.

"Trust me when I say this, love," Harry breathes, breaking off their kiss by pressing their foreheads together. "When I say that I trust you with all I have. I won’t let anything happen to us, or to you. I won’t let you keep doubting yourself."

Louis’ breath is coming out harshly, chest barely expanding properly before it retracts again. Up, down, up, down. Beat, beat, beat. "I trust you," Louis whispers, finding himself meaning it. He nods then, like he really needs Harry to know that he means it. "I do. I trust you."

"Good," Harry says, before diving in again, capturing Louis’ lips between his own.

Each kiss is discovering something new, triggering a different response every time their lips meet. Tongues clashing, teeth clinking, fingers softly tracing hot, hot skin, smoothing out the parts that needs more attention.

Louis lets Harry deepen the kiss even further, allowing the boy tip to his head back, exposing his neck. Harry breaks the kiss, very, very carefully, before moving his lips over Louis’ ear. "Let me take you away," he whispers, the breathiness of it sending a million shivers down Louis’ spine.

Louis can’t do anything but nod, what with his haziness, and let’s himself be taken away.

It’s slow at first, hands hesitantly gracing his arms, his collarbones, his hips. Between kisses, there are soft touches. Between their bodies, blending together as one, is the heat. Harry’s hands find their way to hem of Louis’ shirt, though that does nothing to cool him down. Suddenly, his body is on fire, and the desperation to do this now, before it’s too late, takes over his every thought.

Clothes are being shredded in a hurry, carelessly thrown away, away, away.

So little time.

Louis slings his arms around Harry’s neck, holding on as if the boy might disappear if he doesn’t hold him close enough. He buries his face in the crook of Harry’s neck, all while letting Harry touch him in places he’ll never be able to touch again.

"Stop," Louis finds himself saying. And there it is again, the guilt. Harry trusts him with all he has, so much that he’s willing to give all of himself over to Louis.

Louis can’t let him do that.

"Did I hurt you?" Harry asks, quickly removing his hands from Louis’ body, and instead moves them to either side of Louis’ head.

Louis shakes his head. "’s not that."

Harry considers him for a while, brows furrowed in worry. "We don’t have to do this now. There’s no rush."

Louis stares at the ceiling.

"There isn’t, right?" Harry questions.

Even the ceiling looks bloody expensive.

"Louis." Beat. "Look at me."

Swallowing down his fear, Louis moves his gaze away from the ceiling, finding a searching pair of green eyes boring into his own.

"You promised," Harry says.

"That I wouldn’t lie. And I haven’t lied yet," Louis says.

"What are you hiding, then?" Harry presses, his face morphing into something akin to frustration, brushing away the fire from his eyes.

Louis exhales deeply, knowing he’d have to tell Harry about this sooner or later. He was hoping for later. "Minor gods will be here in one week."

"We’ll leave before then."

"You’ll leave before then," Louis corrects.

Harry stills for a few seconds, eyes flicking between the blues before him, before leaning away. Like he’s burnt.

"So you were just gonna- what, exactly? Let me shag you, and then fuck off?" Harry asks. "Does this even mean anything to you?"

Louis closes his eyes, heart sinking, breaking, disappearing altogether, because no. Harry’s got it all wrong. "It’s not like that."

"Then what?"

Louis scrambles into a sitting position. "This," Louis says, gesturing between the two of them. "Us. You. It means everything to me. Which is exactly why I can’t be with you."

"How does that make any sense?" Harry asks. "Because of your father? Because they’ll know where we are at all times?"

"Yes," Louis says, not quite understanding why Harry doesn’t see the problem. "And I just- I’ve been so selfish. I shouldn’t have gotten so close to you. I shouldn’t have done that to you."

Harry shakes his head. "I’m not letting you go. I’m not gonna let you go, Lou." Harry scrambles closer to Louis, as if time already has ran out, and wraps his naked body around the smaller boy, crushing his shoulders in his hold.

"Please don’t give up so easily," he whispers. "Don’t let them have that control over you. I need you."

"I’d be a burden."

"No, you won’t."

"You won’t be safe."

"We’ve never been safe."

"You can’t stay in one place for long before having to run away again."

"Then we’ll run away together," Harry says, holding the other boy closer. "You’re not leaving me. And it’s not up for discussion anymore. I won’t be any safer without you, and you won’t be protecting me any more by being away from me."

Louis exhales against Harry’s skin, letting his eyes slip closed. Harry’s not letting him go. "If anything happens when it could’ve been prevented, I… I’d never forgive myself."

"Nothing’s going to happen," Harry says, even though they both know he can’t promise that.

"I still haven’t forgiven myself for what happened to Gemma," Louis confesses.

Harry’s quiet for a moment, before sighing quietly. "Neither have I. Forgiven myself, I mean. I feel like I should’ve kept a closer eye on her. Gone out with her that day. Protected her," he says, his voice turning into a whisper by the end. "Truth is there’s nothing either of us could have done to have prevented it."

They’re both quiet for a moment. This may just be the most intimate moment Louis’ ever had with anyone. Not even his ex would agree to sit like this, completely naked, legs all tangled together beneath them, and just talk, while holding onto each other like it’s the only thing they were meant to do. Louis is starting to realize that there’s no rush anymore.

"I’ll stay," Louis whispers, so low he’s not sure the other boy can hear him.

A moment later, Harry presses his lips to Louis’ forehead. "Good."

 

 

There’s a knock on the bedroom door an hour later, making Louis almost jump out of Harry’s arms where he’s been hiding this past hour.

Louis’ grateful they’ve both gotten under the duvet, because a moment later the door clicks open.

"Louis, I just got a call from- jesus christ!" Liam exclaims, one hand on his chest as he gapes at the two boys lying in bed. "I’m just gonna- just- yeah, I’ll go."

"I’ll be out in a sec, Li," Louis says, shooing his friend out with his hand.

As soon as Liam is out the door, Louis detangles himself from Harry. "I’ll be right back," he promises, and gives the boy a quick kiss before jumping out of bed.

"That was sweet," Harry murmurs, while Louis’ pulling on some trousers.

"What?" Louis asks.

"The kiss."

Louis finds himself giggling - like a bloody idiot -, before crawling back into bed, and gives Harry another peck. "I’ll be right back."

"You already said that."

"Then you know I mean it," Louis grins.

Liam’s pretending to admire a painting out in the hall, and even goes as far as to play surprised when Louis comes up to him.

"The landlord called," Liam says, turning to Louis. "Said we could move back in now."

"Oh," is all Louis can say, feeling his body sway towards the bedroom door. "Already?"

"Already," Liam deadpans. "It’s overdue, mate. They told us it would only be a few days. To be fair, they should pay me back on travel expenses. And your plant is probably dead now."

Louis widens his eyes, having completely forgotten about Orchid. "Fuck."

"Yeah, well," Liam shrugs. "Niall’s driver will get us into town after seven, so that’s sorted."

Louis shifts his gaze towards the bedroom door, already missing the heat. "Um."

"Are you two having sex now?"

Shocked, Louis whips his head around. "Liam!"

Liam just tilts his head, waiting for an answer.

"That’s none of your business," Louis mutters, wondering if Zayn’s bluntness has already started to rub off on his flatmate. Speaking of- "Where’s Zayn?"

And just like that, Liam’s cheeks colour, and he’s barely able to hold back a smile. Disgusting. "He’s working. He’s very passionate about his work."

Louis scrunches his nose a bit. "Do you even know what he does for a living?"

"He paints," Liam says. "Abstract art. Sometimes little cartoon characters. He drew me once."

Louis rolls his eyes. "You act like you’re already engaged for something."

"He’s nice. I like him," Liam says.

"Don’t get too attached, though, Li," Louis warns, suddenly concerned about his flatmate. Obviously, Liam doesn’t know that Zayn is an actual god, who can’t age, and who’s not looking for commitment. Not after last time.

"We’re just having a bit of fun."

Gag.

"But who knows," Liam shrugs. "Hopefully it’ll turn into something more."

Louis just nods, knowing it’s not in his place to drop the truth bomb on Liam. Doesn’t mean Louis’ not going to force Zayn into telling him himself, though.

"So," Liam starts, gesturing towards Louis’ bedroom door. "Guess you’re not coming with, then?"

Louis gives Liam a lopsided smile, then shakes his head. "I think I’ll stay a while longer." Preferably forever. "I’ll come with you to pack some bags, though. Niall needs his clothes back."

"Yeah, these trousers are making me sore," Liam agrees, looking down at himself.

"After seven, then?" Louis asks, already making his way back to the bedroom.

"Yes," Liam answers. "And, Louis?"

Louis stops by the door.

"Rent’s due soon. Just a reminder," he says.

Louis squeezes his eyes closed, having totally forgotten about rent. "Shit. Right. I’m on it," he promises, knowing he probably shouldn’t be running around London stealing from bars at the moment. He’ll just have to come up with something else.

When Louis enters the bedroom again, Harry’s sitting up in bed, scrolling through his phone. The duvet has slid down past his hip tattoos, exposing his skin. It’s not as sun-kissed as it used to be, the sun having been more and more absent these past few weeks. Louis wonders what Harry’s skin will look like during the winter, how he will look with snowflakes melting on his cheeks. 

"I’m going into the city tonight," Louis says, plopping down next to Harry. "Gonna pick up some clothes."

"Your flat’s ready, then?" Harry asks.

"Yeah, but I think I’m just gonna stay here for a bit," Louis says. He grabs his phone off of his nightstand, and sends a quick, angry text to Zayn commanding him to tell Liam the truth. Louis may not have the right to keep them apart, but what he can do, however, is to make sure Zayn treats Liam the way he deserves to be treated.

"Can I come with you?" Harry asks after a minute.

"To my flat?"

"To the city," Harry clarifies. "I need something as well."

Louis hesitates, not really wanting to take any risks. "I can get it for you?" Louis suggests. "What do you need?"

Harry shakes his head. "I wanna… Wanna get it myself," he says. "Some pictures, and um- something from Gemma’s room."

"Oh."

"I just need something from hers, is all," Harry says, putting his phone down. "In case… You know."

In case she never comes back. Louis understands that.

"As long as it’s safe," Louis says. "We’re going to have to be careful. The minor gods might still be there, waiting for us to come back and all."

Harry nods. "Yeah, yeah. Will Howard drive us?"

"Yup," Louis says, and snuggles closer to Harry to rest his head on the latter’s chest. Warm.

They lie in bed together until seven, just talking. Harry makes a promise to Louis that when the coast is clear, he’s going to take him to dinner, complete with golden candles and pretentious clothing. Louis then promises that he’ll do his best to make a mess of their table, play pranks on the waiter, and scare the other guests away.

It’s nice this feeling, so calm and careless, in contrast to how Louis was feeling earlier. How he ever thought telling Harry the truth would be a mistake, is now a mystery to him. Sure, he still feels like it would be for the best if they went their separate ways, knowing that it would definitely be the safest option. But there’s a different kind of safety in Harry’s arms.

It’s no longer Louis against the minor gods, his father, his secrets and his guilt. It’s Louis and Harry against the world. And he’s okay with that, because no matter how short-lived this feeling might be, this moment, here and now, is perfect.

 

 

"Thank you, Howard," Louis says, and steps out of the car.

The driver gives them one final wave, before driving off. He’s going to pick them up in exactly one hour, which gives Louis the time to pack his bags, check on his - most likely dead - plant, and for him and Harry to go back to the safe house to get whatever Harry needs.

Liam close to skips up the stair, key already stretched out in front of him long before they reach the door.

"What are you so excited about? It’s not like you’re getting an upgrade to the mansion," Louis comments, dragging Harry along with him up the stairs.

"Zayn’s staying the night," Liam says, and Louis can hear how wide his smile is.

"No shagging on the couch, and it’s all good," Louis mutters.

When they enter the flat, Louis makes a bee-line to where his plant’s at. He mournfully pets the crusty petals, lips pouting.

"I’m sorry, Orchid," he tells his plant.

Harry walks up behind him, and wraps his arms around Louis’ chest. "I’ll buy you a new one, babe."

Babe.

Louis holds back a giggle - stupid, stupid giggles, - and turns around in Harry’s hold to give the latter a peck. The corners of Harry’s lips turn up approvingly, and he leans in again, asking for more.

"Guys," Liam complains from somewhere in the room - doesn’t really matter where, because he’s interrupting.

"Go make some pasta," Louis shoos, before planting his lips firmly against Harry’s.

"And you complain about me and Zayn," Liam mutters, but walks off nevertheless.

Harry pulls back, his nose scrunching up. "You should tell Liam that Zayn’s a traitor."

Louis raises his brows. "A traitor?"

"I may be able to pretend like I get along with him when people are looking," Harry says. "But he betrayed my trust, alright? I haven’t forgiven him."

Louis tilts his head a bit, wondering whether or not he should put himself in the crossfire. He does anyway. "I think you should talk to him."

Harry huffs, shaking his head. His jawline is popping out, and it’s clear that Harry has no intention whatsoever to take Louis’ advise.

"Have you heard his side of things?" Louis asks gently.

"No," Harry answers.

Louis clicks his tongue, then smacks his lips for good measure, and waits for Harry to see his point.

After a moment, Harry rolls his eyes. "Alright," he shrugs, giving up. "Maybe I’ll have a word with him. Doesn’t mean I’ll forgive him, though. He had no right to make a deal with my father for me."

"Is that what you call it?" Louis asks.

"My father promised Zayn to talk Hades into getting me out of the Underworld in exchange for my privacy. I’d call that a deal, yeah."

Louis raises his hands in surrender. "Sorry. Clothes?"

"Yes."

Louis stuffs a bag full of clothes, and the weight of it on his shoulder nearly makes him topple over. Harry wordlessly grabs the bag for Louis, then, and slings it over his own shoulder.

"’s not that heavy," Louis lies, but lets Harry carry it anyway.

Before Louis exits his room, he opens his night drawer and grabs the key to the safe house that Harry got for him, even if he probably won’t need it anymore given the safe house isn’t really safe to stay at anymore.

"You coming?" Harry calls from the living room.

Louis pockets the key, and calls back. "Yeah."

 

 

Walking through the dark streets of London, Louis finds himself clinging onto Harry’s elbow like the boy is going to be taken by the wind if he doesn’t hold on tightly enough.

"Maybe we should have asked Howard to drive us," Louis says, eyeing a shadow walking along the pavement at the other side of the street. It isn’t until the shadow walks under a streetlight that Louis realizes it was just a man walking his dog. A human. Again.

"It’s a ten minute walk, Lou. It’s fine," Harry assures. "Minor gods aren’t constantly out looking for us, you know? They do have duties, given they’re - you know, - gods."

"Uh-huh."

They walk in silence for a moment, but the inside of Louis’ head is anything but silent. It was really fucking stupid of him to bring Harry to the city. Louis shoots a quick glance behind his shoulder. Just in case.

"You’re scaring yourself," Harry comments, and gives Louis’ hand a squeeze. "I’ve walked these streets for years, Lou. And I’ve been hiding from the minor gods for more. Chances are they won’t pop out of nowhere."

Louis nods, not really feeling very assured.

"Can I ask you something?" Harry says as they round a corner.

"Anything."

"Those powers of yours. Are they, like- have you sensed anything since we came here?"

Louis chuckles lowly, his chest loosening up a bit. "Haven’t really thought about it."

"So you can turn it off?"

"Yeah, I guess I can," Louis muses. "I mean, in the beginning I couldn’t control it at all. Scared the shit out of me. But Zayn told me I had to- I don’t know, find my zen or some shit like that. And the worst part is that it bloody works."

Harry laughs at that, the sound washing away any fear that was left in Louis’ bones. He had almost forgotten how beautiful London is in the evening. Though there are no stars visible on the sky tonight, there’s the glint in Harry’s eyes. Streetlights are hitting his face like the sunlight would hit the sea, making his skin glimmer. The shadows frames his face perfectly, and Louis wonders how he got this lucky.

Louis tugs at Harry’s hand, making them come to a halt under a streetlight. Wordlessly, Louis stands up to the very tip of his toes, and places a soft kiss to the corner of the other boy’s mouth.

"What was that for?" Harry asks, smiling.

"Just felt like it," is what Louis answers. "C’mon, then," he says, tugging at Harry’s hand again, and starts leading the way towards the safe house.

When they finally arrive at the safe house, the street is empty. No shadows lurking by the corners, no evidence that anything bad has ever taken place outside this building. Though it hasn’t really been that long, it feels like it’s been an eternity since the last time they were here.

Louis remembers the first time he discovered this place. The sky was orange, the roads littered with puddles, and the streets were emptied. The sound of traffic could be heard in the distance, but the sound of the silence was much, much louder.

It’s evening this time, and the sky has yet to be coloured orange by the city lights. The sound of traffic is louder, and the asphalt is dry. But it’s still familiar. And to Harry this is home, and home means safe.

So why is Louis’ chest aching?

Louis follows after Harry across the street, ignoring the sharp pain shooting through his chest, and bounces on his heels as Harry unlocks the door to the building.

"You alright?" Harry asks, holding the door open for Louis.

Louis nods. "Yeah, ’s just… Nothing."

"Okay," Harry says, making it sound like more of a question.

Louis’ very much aware of how quiet it is in the hall, how loud the echoes of their footsteps are. His heart is pounding.

"Something’s not right," Louis says, near a whisper, once they’re halfway down the stairs to the basement.

Harry stops with each foot on two different steps, and turns to Louis. "It’s okay," Harry soothes, and reaches out his hand towards Louis.

Hesitantly, Louis stares at the hand for a moment, before taking it. He’s still uneasy, though. His hands are clammy, head on the brink of spinning, and a low ringing is playing in his ear.

"I think we should go back," Louis says while Harry’s unlocking the first door.

"I’ll be quick," Harry promises, before opening the door.

That’s when they both hear it; voices, several of them blending together so it’s impossible to hear what’s being said. Not that it matters much, because either way they shouldn’t be able to hear voices coming from the safe house.

Louis realizes then what the pain in his chest is. It’s similar to the one he got moments before Mr. Henderson’s kitchen burnt to ashes. Similar to the feeling he got moments before someone was about to die.

Louis whips his head towards the other boy, feeling his whole body flashing cold. Before he has the chance to say anything, suggest that they just fucking run, run, run, a door clicks open in the other end of the long, dark hallway.

The shadow that emerges from the common room - their common room - stills as it sees the two boys, only within a stone’s throw away, before hurrying back into the room.

Louis slams the door closed, his heart yelling at him that they need to run.

But his head is telling him something else.

"They’re here," Harry stresses out, not making a move to run. "The minor gods are here."

"You have to run, Harry," Louis says, mind going a million miles an hour. He can hear someone yelling on the other side of the door. They only have seconds. "We can’t make it out here if we both run. I’ll stay behind, distract them." His words come out in a hurry, and he only prays Harry can understand the importance of them.

"No." Harry shakes his head, grabbing Louis’ hand, trying to drag him along.

"I’ll get out, my father will get me out," Louis stresses, shaking Harry off. "You won’t get out."

"Fuck," Harry curses, his tone suggesting that what Louis’ saying makes sense, but at the same time is the worst thing that could have happened.

In a desperate hurry, Louis grabs each side of Harry’s face, and places a harsh kiss against his lips. "I’ll be fine, go. Go!"

Louis can hear the footsteps now, coming closer and closer, just behind that door. He goes to lean against the door, all his weight pressing against it as if it’ll make any difference. Harry’s still lingering, his face completely distorted in pain.

"Go!" Louis shouts then, making the other boy flinch. "Fuck’s sake, run!"

"Promise you’ll come back," Harry says, backing up the stairs, his voice not sounding like his anymore.

"I promise," Louis says.

And then Harry’s gone.

Everything happens very fast after that. One moment, Louis’ blocking the door, heart pounding with the beat of the banging fists on the other side. The next, the door flies open, and Louis stumbles back, hitting his head against the floor.

He scrambles up quickly, knowing he can’t stop the minor gods from running up the stairs after Harry while laying helplessly on the ground. He needs to put all the distance he can between the gods and Harry.

There’s only two of them, both average-built men, nothing like Balder and Brent, so Louis does his best to try and slow them down by kicking, pushing, blocking, anything to not let them past him.

It works for only a few seconds before he’s being tackled, and once again lands on the floor, this time face first.

He quickly turns over, ignoring the throbbing pain on his left cheek, before kicking out his legs again, hitting one of the gods in the shin.

"Just take this one," one of them huffs out annoyed, while the other god is still shaking out his leg, groaning quietly. "He’ll tell us where to find the other one."

Louis chooses to ignore that last sentence, and instead lets his body go completely slack, bones aching and muscles sore.

He almost wants to laugh at how fucking inconvenient this is. Just how. Fucking. Inconvenient. After all the secrets he’s been keeping, all the feelings he’s been pushing away, all the guilt that’s been crushing his soul, he finally thought he was going to have it good. He finally got to hold Harry’s hand, he finally got to let go of all the things that’s been tearing him up inside for so long.

He was happy for one blissful moment, before it all went to shit again.

At least he has this; Harry got out safe, and that’s all that matters for now.

What the son of Hades should focus on next, though, - he notes - is to how the hell he’s going to get out of this, recalling the time Harry told him about minor gods wanting to know about which god they’re the child of.

As his ankles are being grabbed, his body being dragged across the concrete floor, bruising up his spine, he wonders how scared Marcelline was in this moment, not knowing what was to come.

But Louis, though… He knows.

Chapter Text

Things could be worse.

Louis was expecting a horde of minor gods, maybe with zombie-like features - yellow eyes, gray skin, the like. Instead, he’s faced with six of them, three of which have tired eyes and hunched over shoulders, like they can’t wait for the day to be over. Then, standing in the corner whispering to each other, are three women dressed in dreadfully unfashionable cloaks, if Louis would say so himself.

He was also expecting to be dangling from the ceiling somewhere, starved and beaten, punished for being the result of a crime.

Well, the chance of him dangling from the ceiling is still a possibility, given he hasn’t said a word since he was brought into the safe house. His head is throbbing painfully, making it hard to come up with a plan to avoid taking a walk in Marcelline’s shoes.

The plan would be to lie about who he is, of course. Only, being in a room with ancient gods that are likely to be wiser than himself, makes the lying part tricky. So for now, he’s keeping his mouth shut.

"Pass the salt, will you?" one of the male gods says from across the table, chuckling. It’s all very bizarre, this setting. Louis, along with two men and a woman are sitting around one of the dining tables like they’re in the uni cafeteria, rather than on the brink of more or less executing someone. That someone would be Louis. And being in that position makes it hard to appreciate this candlelit dinner before him, and the soft piano music playing from the speakers.

Louis sinks further into his chair tiredly, restraining himself from a snarky reply.

The god he kicked in the leg earlier picks up a breadbasket, reaching it over the table until it’s right under Louis’ nose. "Breadstick?" This god in particular looks exhausted, like he hasn’t slept in a thousand years. Might be true.

Louis takes a deep breath, the urge to shut these idiots up once and for all growing stronger. They’ve filled up his plate with some half-arsed salad, and his glass with the shittiest wine they could find down here, all while humoring themselves with the fact that Louis can’t lift his hands further than to the edge of the table before the chains around his wrists tug them back down.

Worst part is, he probably wouldn’t be chained to the bloody chair if it wasn’t for the fact that Harry already had them displayed on a shelf, ready for use, and ready to make Louis want to rip someone’s head off.

"I know you want it," the god with the breadsticks teases, giving the basket a shake.

"I’m good," Louis grits out, realizing a moment too late that the silent treatment he’s been giving the minor gods just went to shit.

"It talks," the sleep deprived god replies. Louis’ not sure whether he’s more annoyed by being referred to as ‘it’, or for this wanker to state the obvious.

"How’d you get in here?" Louis casually asks, gesturing towards the door. "Door handle’s cursed."

"You don’t ask the questions here."

The male god beside him shushes him, and nods towards the woman beside Louis. "Achelois doesn’t feel pain. Got her hand melted a bit, but," shrug, "-It’ll grow back."

Louis raises a brow, and glances over to Achelois, who’s currently immersed in a fashion magazine, ignoring the world around her. And, yeah, the hand she’s leaning her head on doesn’t really look like a hand. More of a burnt down candle.

Scrunching his nose, Louis turns back to the two gods across the table. It seems that the god who answered his question is the one in charge, what with his relaxed body language, and ability to shut up his fellow minor god. So Louis directs his next question to him. "And you are?"

"Boreas," the god answers. "God of the cold north wind."

Louis grips onto his shackles, as to avoid flying across the table, chair in tow, attacking the minor god before him. Boreas was the one who sent Harry to the Underworld all those years ago.

Morphing his face into something neutral, rather than letting the rage that is bubbling underneath his skin surface, Louis flicks his eyes over to the god sat next to Boreas. "And him?"

"This is-"

"I’m Gary," the sleep deprived god cuts off.

"He goes by a lot of names," Boreas explains tiredly. "Depends on which country we visit. Some call him Hypnos, the Romans called him Somnus."

"Not my name," Gary mutters.

"The millennials poke fun of his name a lot," Boreas shrugs. "The humans don’t even consider him a god."

"Do you have to bring that up every time?"

"Not my fault the humans prefer the Sandman over you."

While Gary, Hypnos - whichever, - starts arguing with the wind god lowly, Louis shifts his gaze to the three women in the very corner of the room. Obviously, they’re doing their best to protect their personal space, for reasons unknown.

One of the cloak covered women meets Louis’ eyes, and Louis damn near falls out of his chair at the sight before him. This woman - creature, whatever she is - doesn’t have any eyes for Louis to meet. Instead, in the place of where her eyes are supposed to be are a pair of deep, black holes.

Those would be the Fates, then, Louis realizes quickly, should he believe the tales about them only having one eye to share. He gulps.

Suddenly the music stops, and Louis’ gaze flicks back to Boreas, who has now leaned closer to Louis over the table, the remote to the stereo in hand.

Boreas gestures towards the three women. "The Fates."

"Obviously."

The god gives Louis a sly smile, before carefully laying the remote back on the table. "Now that we’ve all introduced ourselves," he says, leaning back. "It would be only polite for you to do the same."

Here it goes. Louis just have to trust his instinctive lying abilities on this one.

Except, Louis’ head is completely blank, so he settles on: "Why’s it matter who I am? It’s not like we’re gonna be Facebook pals after this."

"Removing the sons and daughters of the most influential gods will not only make a bigger difference, but it’ll also take me one step closer to becoming a true hero."

"Us," Gary corrects. "For us to become heroes."

"Heroes," Louis deadpans. "In what world do heroes send innocent people to rot in the Underworld?"

"This one," Gary shrugs.

"Who was with you out there?" Boreas asks. Louis realizes then that the minor gods never caught a glimpse of Harry, and might only have heard his voice. Louis can take advantage of that. "Another demigod, I presume?"

"No," Louis instinctively answers, which is probably the dumbest answer he could’ve given.

Boreas just raises a brow, urging Louis to continue.

Luckily, Louis has paid attention to every detail he has learned about this world from Harry, and his chest flares with hope when the perfect lie comes to mind. "He has the sight."

"You’re just saying that so we won’t go looking for him," Boreas challenges.

"It’s true," Louis insists. "Ran into him a few months back, and after that he’s been a proper pain in the ass. He knew who my father was at first glance."

"Really?" The god asks interested, leaning forward again. "Who is your father, then?"

"Zephyrus," Louis finds himself saying, cringing at the thought of having to explain this to Zayn if he gets out of this in one piece.

Boreas gapes. Gary snickers. Even Achelois, who’s been quiet this whole time, breathes a short laugh.

But it’s not them Louis is worried about at the moment. The Fates have somewhere along the line stepped closer to the dining table, their one eye fixed on him. The Fates know Louis’ lying, given they probably know every single detail about him down to the amount of freckles on his cheeks. They could expose him, right here and now.

"My brother," Boreas snarls. "Not only does he ally with half-blood scum like yourself, but he also breeds with the human race. A disgrace to the Winds."

"Yeah, he’s a disgrace, alright," Louis bites out, low-key hoping he scared Liam away by revealing who he really is - if he even revealed it.

"I think Zephyrus is cool," Gary comments nonchalantly.

"Shut up," Boreas hisses, before turning his attention back to Louis. "Just zap him and get it over with, we’ve gotten what we needed."

"Zap me?" Louis questions, not meaning to sound so distressed.

"I’m just putting you to sleep," Gary explains, like they’re forgetting about the part where they’ll also send Louis to the Underworld. Details.

Gary gets up from his chair, stretching and yawning, and only now does Louis realizing what Hypnos means; a god of sleep. He steps around the table, wiggling his fingers dramatically towards Louis.

"Wait," a voice says, and the Fates step forward.

Are they going to expose his lie? Everything was going so well.

"A word in private," the women say simultaneously, their creepiness leveling up. The eye is fixed on Louis.

"With me?" Louis asks, awkwardly pointing a finger at himself, fully aware of the fact that the Fates can’t see his hands.

The Fates doesn’t bother answering, instead they just stand there, in the middle of the room, waiting.

"We’ll get the car ready," Boreas says then, breaking the silence. Seconds later, Louis’ alone with the Fates.

He shifts uncomfortably in his chair, wishing the women would just sit down by the table instead of standing like trees. They’re not even breathing.

"You are Louis," one of the women says. "Son of Hades."

Louis just blinks, figuring she isn’t expecting a confirmation.

The Fates step closer, around the table - even the sway in their cloaks are in synch. Louis scoots his chair back the best he can away from the table, angling his body sideways, determined to be face to face with them. They may be creepy, but Louis’ faced creepy before. He’ll be alright.

Hopefully.

"You are protecting yourself," one of the women states.

"Anyone would," Louis replies. "Surprised they bought it."

The eye blinks once. Louis’ guess is that they’re not up for small talk.

"Are you going to tell them who I am?" Louis asks.

"No," they reply. Their voices sound almost robotic. No emotion shown in neither their faces, their eye, their voices. One probably has to have quite thick skin to decide the faith of every human ever brought to this world, Louis supposes.

"You can’t," Louis states, recalling the conversation he had with both his father and Zayn about the Fates. But it’s not like anyone would find out if they ratted him out, either.

"We can, it just wouldn’t be a wise choice," one of the women says - the one with the eye.

Louis smirks. "Is it because I’m useful, or because you’re afraid of my father?"

"You being on Earth makes it more efficient to remove demigods," she answers. "But your time will come. Just not yet."

Louis raises his brows. "So your plan is to keep my secret until you’ve wiped out every demigod on Earth with my help, and Marcelline me when you’re done?"

Louis takes the silence as a yes.

"Yeah, I’m not going to help you," Louis says then, shaking his head. "I’ll never be a part of this… Game, whatever it is."

"You will be," she answers, the presence of her sisters next to her looking more like shadows than living creatures when they’re not speaking. "When you were raised in darkness, raised by darkness, and now live among darkness, it only makes sense that your soul will turn dark, too. Your friends won’t be your friends any longer. Who you see as your enemies now, will soon become the only ones you can rely on."

Louis huffs, feeling impatient. "Whatever you say."

Luckily for Louis, he’s never believed in fate, anyway. Right now, the only thing on his mind is to get this over with as quickly as possible. He’ll be brought to Hermes, hike with him down to the Underworld, and wait for his father to return him back to Earth. Then he’ll go back to the mansion, back to Harry.

Harry’s probably worried sick about now. But Louis promised him he’d come back, and he’s not about to break another promise.

"Was there anything else?" Louis asks.

"Don’t let Boreas see you ever again, once you’ve returned," another sister warns. "Or you’ll reveal yourself."

"What about Gary?" Louis asks, relaxing in his chair. "He seems cool."

"Hypnos won’t be as bothered by who you are, but he won’t keep your secret. He’s too loyal."

"I take it Boreas was involved in torturing Marcelline, then?"

"Yes."

Louis nods awkwardly. He’s not sure if he’s supposed to thank the Fates for the warning, or scowl at them for wanting to wipe out the demigods. They confuse him too much.

"It’s time for us to go," they say simultaneously, stepping away from Louis.

"Wait," Louis says, making them turn back. "Are you the reason Mr. Henderson’s kitchen burnt down?"

"We are the reason for everything," one of the sisters answers mysteriously. "Goodbye, son of Hades."

And then they walk out the door, leaving Louis with more questions than he had to begin with. Next time, he won’t question fate. He can feel a headache coming.

 

 

His headache has worsened by the time he wakes up, face-down on the floor, in some unknown room.

After the Fates had left, the remaining three minor gods came back in, and didn’t so much as look at him before Hypnos poked a finger against Louis’ temple and his vision turned dark.

"Power zap," Louis mumbles against the hardwood floor, giggling quietly to himself over his own joke. Harry would love it.

"Did you say something?" a male voice says, and moment later a pair of… feet, come into view.

Louis thinks they’re feet.

He squints his eyes a bit, wondering what side-effects Gary’s zap had, because what the fuck are those.

Blink. Blink.

"What happened to your feet?" Louis groans after a moment. "Looks like you stepped on a fried chicken."

"A polite one, you are," the man mutters, then steps away, the lumps on either side of his ankles waggling along.

Louis rolls over to his back, the throbbing in his head worsening by the movement. He’s not sure if it’s from when he hit his head earlier, or if it’s Gary’s fault. Probably Gary.

It’s bright in this room, Louis notes. He blinks a few more times, before scrambling up into a sitting position, getting a clear view of where he is.

Fancy.

It’s a flat, and an expensive one at that, judging by the view out the large windows. He’s never seen London from such a height before. The skyline is streaked in different shades of orange, and he can just barely make out the moon rising behind the clouds.

Louis turns his gaze away from the view, remembering that he’s not alone in this flat- or penthouse, whatever.

Then he spots him, behind the counter of the open kitchen, wearing a dressing gown that could easily pay off Louis’ rent by the looks of it. He’s around Louis’ height, and has golden hair with grey roots, spiked out in different directions as if they were still living in the early 2000’s.

"You’re Hermes?" Louis asks, not meaning to sound so incredulous.

"You’re the son of Zephyrus?" the god bites back. "Please."

Louis’ not sure why that offended him, but it did. No one talks to him like that.

Huffing, Louis gets up from the floor and dusts off his jeans, while taking another look around. He was splayed right in front of a - fake - fireplace, not even an inch away from a fluffy rug that would’ve been much kinder on his back.

"I’m taking a shower," the god says then, and pads away from the kitchen, his feet coming into view again. Louis had always thought Hermes would have actual feathery wings for… wings, but.

They might be wings, if Louis squints his eyes a bit. In reality, though, they look like thin, thin unseasoned chicken wings, where the very end of them tones out into something akin to duck feet.

"Door’s locked, try picking it and it’ll shock you," Hermes lists off tiredly while walking away. "Jump out the window, and you’ll end up exactly where you were going in the first place. I don’t use a phone, so don’t bother looking for one. There’s milk in the fridge."

Then he disappears around the corner, and a moment later, a door clicks shut.

Alright, then.

Louis’ actually quite thirsty, so he walks over to the kitchen to fill himself a glass of milk. While sipping on his drink, he decides to snoop. It’s not a that bad of a place to spend one’s final hours, in Louis’ opinion. It’s big, warm, has a killer view, and milk.

However, Louis’ in no position to give his trip to the Underworld five stars, given he’s the only demigod that can get out of there without any fuss.

Louis steps over to the windows, and finds himself checking if any demigods have actually tried jumping out the windows in a desperate attempt to escape their fate. If so, the windows have been replaced by now.

He imagines Gemma waking up on the floor here, knowing that she might never come back ever again. Louis puts down his glass on the nearest surface.

Just over by the fireplace, he spots a small, framed picture, not really easy to spot if you aren’t looking for it. Louis walks over, moves away a potted plant to uncover the full picture.

It’s a photo of two girls, around the age of sixteen. Both with wild, auburn hair, deep, blue eyes. Both sharing the same features, which at first glance makes it look like they’re the exact same person. Identical twins.

Louis frowns, wondering for a split second why Hermes would have a framed picture of two teenage girls atop his fireplace before it clicks.

Daughters.

Louis takes the framed picture with him over to the couch, his thoughts running away from him as to why Hermes would agree on sending demigods to the Underworld, when he clearly has two demigod daughters of his own.

It’s a few minutes before the god walks back into the room, still dressed in his dressing gown, patting his hair with a towel.

Louis puts the photo down on the coffee table in silence, angling so that the god will see. "You have daughters."

Hermes stills, his gaze landing on the photo in front of Louis. "That’s none of your business."

"They’re demigods," Louis states.

"Put it back," Hermes dismisses, before walking over to the kitchen, opening the fridge.

"Are they safe?"

Hermes doesn’t answer.

"They are, aren’t they?" Louis asks, raising his voice. "So while you’re spending your days, flying around on your chicken feet, sending every other demigod to the Underworld, your daughters are perfectly safe. Why is that?"

Hermes still doesn’t answer, but sends Louis a death glare from across the room, closing the fridge when he doesn’t find anything interesting in there.

But this is not a hard riddle to solve. "You made a deal with the minor gods, didn’t you?" Louis guesses after a moment.

"Yes I did," Hermes exclaims irritated, reopening the fridge. He mumbles something Louis can’t make out, but he can hear the irritation is still apparent in his tone.

"And you’re fine with that?" Louis asks incredulously. "Look, I get that you want to protect them, but is it really worth it to sacrifice every other demigod? There are other ways to keep your girls safe."

"Not as safe as they are now," Hermes says, walking empty-handed out of the kitchen. "As long as I hold up my part of the deal, which is to take every demigod they send my way down to the Underworld, the minor gods stay away from my daughters."

"What’s going to happen when there are no demigods left for you to take with you, then?" Louis questions, then picks up the picture again. "When these two are the only demigods left on the minor god’s quest to wipe us all out. This deal of yours won’t hold up when that time comes. And it will."

"It’ll be a while before that happens," Hermes says.

"But it will happen," Louis presses. "This thing you’re doing, it’s no way to protect your girls. It’s only a way of dragging it out, and letting other demigods suffer the consequences in the meantime. It’s wrong."

"I don’t have much of a choice," Hermes says, bouncing his heel. "Wouldn’t you do anything to protect the people you love?"

"I would," Louis says truthfully. "But if there was any way to protect them without having to hurt others, I’d much rather do that. Without a doubt."

Hermes stares at the picture in Louis’ hands, but doesn’t say anything.

"Where do they live?" Louis asks.

"Up north."

"I can keep them safe," Louis promises.

"You couldn’t even keep yourself safe," Hermes huffs.

"But Harry is," Louis says quietly. "He got away."

Louis shifts a bit, then looks down at the photo in his hands again. "Harry’s sister was taken not so long ago. I tried to get her back, get a deal with Hades, but I couldn’t.

"What if I made a deal with you?" Louis asks, hope flaring up in his chest. "If you could just take me to the Underworld, then get Gemma out. I’ll get out on my own. Just-"

"Hold on," Hermes cuts in. "You can’t get out of there on your own, kid. It’s impossible."

"Not if you’re the son of Hades, it’s not," Louis says. He raises to his feet then, a long-lost plan B forming in his head. "And I’m not supposed to tell you that, it could start a war. But I trust you not to do anything with that information, unless it’s absolutely necessary. We can use that against Hades."

"Blackmailing?" Hermes asks, chuckling lowly, humorlessly. "It’s an entertaining thought and all, but I have a tight schedule so let’s just get this over with," he says, stepping closer to Louis.

But Louis’ not finished. "If you stop sending demigods down to the Underworld, the minor gods won’t have any way to keep demigods down there for long until they start making deals to get out. They won’t be able to have control over them anymore. It’ll be harder to wipe us out."

"The minor gods are never going to give up," Hermes deflates.

"Me neither," Louis says. "Just give it a shot, please. We have a demigod safe house, and we’ll move up to where your daughters live. We’ll keep them safe. And I’ll have a chat with Hades, I have a plan, alright?"

Hermes looks conflicted where he stands, hands hanging uselessly at his sides.

"How many demigods are in the world?" Louis asks. "Hundreds? Thousands? You breaking your deal with the minor gods can save them. And it can keep your daughters safe long-term. It’s not a hard decision to make."

Hermes starts bouncing again, his hands coming to life at his sides, like he’s trying to shake something off. "So I get your friend out, break my deal with the minor gods, and you’ll promise to keep my daughters safe. Is that it?"

"Simple as that," Louis says, excitement crawling in his veins.

"If the minor gods come for my daughters, I can’t get them out," Hermes warns. "You have to promise me that you’ll keep them safe."

"I promise," Louis says earnestly.

"You may be able to get out of the Underworld because of who you are, but I swear- if anything happens to my girls, I will make your life a living hell."

"I’ll keep them safe," Louis promises.

Hermes nods, a pained expression etched onto his face. It’s a big decision to make, Louis gets that. But it’s also the right decision to make.

"I’ll get dressed," Hermes mumbles, and then he’s out the room.

Louis lowers himself back into the couch, picture still in hand. He hasn’t felt this relaxed, this certain, in a long time. He’ll be okay. He and Harry will be okay. Gemma will be okay.

They all might be okay.

What it all comes down to, is what happens once Louis is down in the Underworld. He’ll have to face his father, because there’s no way Hades won’t know Louis will be down there, what with his soul belonging to him and all that crap.

Because it’s not only Hermes Louis’ making a deal with today. He’ll also have to make one with his father. Given he can’t have more than one deal with Hades, he’ll go for the more traditional deal. Also called blackmailing.

Blackmailing the Lord of the Underworld is probably the last thing anyone ever does. Louis should be scared. Maybe he is scared, but he just doesn’t give a fuck anymore.

Hermes walks back in a few minutes later, his early 2000’s hair matching his choice of clothing down to his tie.

"Socks?" Louis asks, gesturing to the god’s bare feet.

"Can’t fly wearing socks," Hermes says, like it’s obvious. It kind of is.

"We’re flying there?" Louis asks, raising a brow.

"It’s a term."

"Oh."

"Let me just," Hermes starts, gesturing to Louis to get out of his seat, then steps up to him. "Alright. What’s going to happen is that you’ll need to close your eyes. Keep them shut until I tell you to open them again, unless you’re into exploding eyeballs."

Louis gulps, but nods.

"Side-effects to traveling through to the Underworld may include-"

"Through?"

"Yes, through to the Underworld. You didn’t seriously think the Underworld was under your feet, did you?"

Louis creases his forehead. "I guess… Not."

"Look at it as a different dimension," Hermes says. "Though it really isn’t, but your stupid half-human brain couldn’t keep up with the theoretics even if I gave you a five hour lesson, so just bear with me."

Louis nods dumbly.

"Where was I?" Hermes asks, looking up as if the ceiling has all the answers.

"Side-effects," Louis supplies.

"Right. Side-effects include nausea, headaches, dizziness, fainting. Some feel like their chest is about to combust, their hearts stopping, cold flashes, bones snapping. What else," Hermes thinks again, unaware of Louis’ widened eyes. "Rashes, but it’s like a one in a million chance so don’t worry."

"Worry about a rash, don’t worry about combusting," Louis says. "Got it."

"It won’t matter anyway, ‘cause once you’re in the Underworld all that pain goes away. Dead people can’t feel pain, ya know."

"Right."

"So just close your eyes, take a deep breath, and it’ll all be over in a few seconds," Hermes instructs, stepping even closer to Louis.

"Try and drop me off somewhere near Gemma, yeah?"

"Demanding," Hermes comments.

Louis just closes his eyes, and waits. He’s not sure if it’s his imagination playing tricks on him, or if he can actually hear the flapping of Hermes’ chicken wings, but he can’t dwell on it for long until his shoulders are grabbed harshly. A moment later, it definitely feels like his chest is about to explode.

Imagine riding a roller coaster, the craziest roller coaster in the universe, and it’s going downhill at an insane amount of speed. Multiply that by a hundred, then a thousand, then keep multiplying until the numbers sound more like obscure names for prescription pills than actual numbers. It’s a fucking wild ride.

Air forces its way into Louis’ lungs, like lightning striking right down his throat, ripping his lungs apart like they’re made of cotton candy. It’s like his body is on fire, and if he wasn’t too busy feeling every cell in his body burning to bits, he’d probably advise Hermes to update his list of side-effects.

It only lasts for a couple of seconds, but shit, that’s a pain to remember.

"We’re here," Hermes says.

Louis’ eyes flutter open, and strangely enough the first thing he notices is that he doesn’t have a headache anymore.

The second thing he notices, is the temperature. It’s cold, right, but… Louis doesn’t feel it. It’s like being wrapped up in a huge parka, breathing in the winter air, like flip-flops to cold tiles. He knows it’s there, he just can’t feel it.

However, there is some sort of feeling. There’s a tight feeling in Louis’ chest, like he’s inside a club and the bass is booming so harshly the tables are shaking. But he can’t hear any music, and the ground isn’t shaking. His chest just feels tight, like he’s in a vacuum.

But it isn’t scary.

"Come along, then," Hermes says, before walking off down a path of sorts.

Louis follows quietly behind, taking it all in.

The walls are pulsing, black, dark. The ground is dry as sand, but shimmers nonetheless, as if the rain is coming from under his feet instead of from above. It’s raining upwards here.

The Underworld is like one giant rock, carved only on the inside, shutting out the outside world completely. Louis thought it would be more chaos, had imagined ghosts wandering around, but it’s comfortably quiet. The drip, drip from some unknown place has a calming effect, its echo bouncing between the walls. The path before him reminds him of the hallway down at the safe house, but this time he’s not afraid.

It’s not long before Hermes comes to a halt before Louis, and only when Louis’ steps around the god does he see why.

Gemma.

If the Underworld was a castle, this would be the ballroom. It’s big, like a giant bubble with rocky edges, threatening to spike the walls and make the whole room fall apart. If Louis tips his head back, all he can see is black, like the ceiling is hundreds of feet above him.

But for now, the only thing Louis can see is the blonde girl sitting all by herself on a lone piece of stone, like the air around her is the sea, and that rock is her island. She hasn’t spotted Louis yet, hasn’t looked up from where she is curled in on herself, head resting against her knees.

Just as Louis’ about to step closer to her, he feels something tickling his neck, sending chills down his spine. He’s had that feeling before, several times, in his dreams.

Someone is watching.

"My father knows I’m here," Louis whispers. "We better hurry."

Hades won’t like this one bit. He’ll know what Louis’ doing, what Louis is making Hermes do for him. Luckily for Hermes, Louis’ positive that it’s not the god this will end badly for.

Shaking that thought away, he gestures for the god to follow him as they step closer to Gemma.

Louis doesn’t notice what’s behind her until he sees a shadow looming next to her, watching something ahead.

"What’s that?" Louis asks Hermes, gesturing towards an open area behind Gemma. Looks like a sea of sorts - a very, very large sea. On the other side of the sea is something similar to a volcano.

The shadow next to Gemma takes a step towards the water.

"That’s the river Lethe," Hermes says. "Where souls go to forget about their previous lives to be at peace."

Louis doesn’t recognize it. It’s not like with the pond and Harry, where he suddenly remembered his fishing trip with Hades. He can’t ever remember being here, and the more he tries to recall those events, the more hazy he feels. As if he’s trying to remember a dream that just keeps on slipping away.

But he can’t help but stare.

"Are those people?" Louis asks, squinting his eyes a bit. It’s dark, the shadows all muddling together as one. But he can see movement out there, he’s sure of it.

"Souls," Hermes corrects. "And don’t stare, mate. Makes them self-conscious."

Louis frowns. "Sorry."

"Louis?" a voice pipes up then, carefully, unsure.

"Hello," Louis says casually, remembering why he’s actually here, and walks over to the wide-eyed girl. "You look bored."

Gemma opens her mouth, as if she’s trying to say something, but nothing comes out.

She must have a lot of questions. Louis knows that feeling.

"Son of Hades," Louis explains. "Getting you out. Tight schedule."

"What…" Gemma trails off.

Louis covers his neck, the chills traveling down his spine once more. Something is tickling his ear as well, like a whisper. They really are in a hurry.

"Let’s get you out first, then explain later. Hermes will fill you in. Harry has loads to tell you, I’m sure," Louis says, feeling his smile growing without giving his face permission.

Gemma just stares at him, like she can’t believe what she’s hearing, or seeing.

Thump.

Louis whips his head around. "Did you hear that?"

"What?" Hermes asks cautiously.

Thump.

"There it is again," Louis says over the echo that can still clearly be heard. "I think someone’s coming."

"Mate, I didn’t hear a thing," Hermes says.

"Alright," Louis says, turning back to Gemma. "Hermes’ gonna get you out now. I’ll get out later, tell Harry I’m fine and-"

"I’ve missed a lot," Gemma comments under her breath.

Louis ignores her, while trying to ignore the thumping coming from somewhere far, far behind them. "Call Harry, make him have Howard get you."

"Guess she can stay at my flat while she’s waiting," Hermes says.

"Great," Louis stresses out, his spine crawling with the notion that someone’s closing in on them. "Now go."

Just as Hermes is about to step closer to Gemma, hands outreached, Gemma jumps to her feet and slings her arms around Louis’ shoulder, surprising an embarrassing squeak from the latter.

"Be safe, yeah?" Gemma says. "Don’t make my brother wait."

"Yeah," Louis utters, giving the girl an awkward pat on the shoulder before she steps away.

Hermes rolls his eyes once, before his hand lands on Gemma’s shoulder, and not even a second later, Louis’ alone.

As alone as he can be in the Underworld anyway.

He lingers for a moment, his eyes fixed on the river before him. He can just barely make out a person standing at the very edge of the river, dipping their toes into the water.

Louis wonders if they might be hesitating, that maybe their consciousness is still trying to tell them they can still go back. Maybe they’re a demigod. Or maybe they came here too soon.

He’ll never know.

After a few moments of staring at the river, Louis shivers, and crosses his arms. It’s like he’s cold, but like earlier, he can’t really feel it. Apparently his body can, though, judging by the goose bumps erupting on his arms.

"Louis," a voice says, then, almost like a whisper, making Louis whip his head around in search of the source.

What kind of horror movie shit is this, Louis wonders, squinting against the darkness. Sounds like his father. Louis’ guessing this soul-selling connection they have are stronger while in Hades’ territory. Might be why Hermes couldn’t hear the thumping earlier. "Are you expecting me to come to you?" Louis asks, his voice sounding more like a shout in the silence of the Underworld.

The thudding noise starts up again, but this time it sounds like it’s getting further and further away.

"To your office then?" Louis calls out after the thudding, sounding as brave as he feels.

Thing is, the Underworld doesn’t really creep him out that much. Hades’ other office may have freaked him out more, but only because he didn’t feel like he was in control up there.

Not that he feels like home down here, because that would be weird. Or would it?

Louis shakes the thought off, and follows the sounds.

It’s strange how well Louis’ able to navigate himself through the Underworld. It’s a pretty huge place, believe it or not. Every wall looks the same, every river looks the same. But something inside him tells him that following the stream would only lead him to where the souls are going, and that if he walks against the stream, he’ll eventually end up in the right place.

And so he does.

Hades’ "office" looks more like a miniature castle, something kids build of sand. Louis walks up the stone steps of the staircase, letting his hand graze the railing as if it holds all the memories that are forever lost to him.

Maybe Louis doesn’t remember ever being here, but his feet let’s him know they are familiar with this place, as they instinctively step away from a piece of broken stone.

There’s no door to Hades’ little castle, so Louis doesn’t bother knocking, and walks straight in.

At first, Louis gets a sense of deja-vu when he sees where he is. But it isn’t really his mind playing tricks on him, because he’s been here before.

Last month or so.

It looks exactly like the restaurant he and his father went at when Hades first told Louis about who he is. Except, instead of tables and chairs, chandelier and waiters, it’s replaced with cheap IKEA furniture, making it look like a proper catalogue office.

Oh, and Hades is an Apple enthusiast, judging by his latest model of an iMac.

"Tea?" Hades asks from behind his desk, his feet slung across his keyboard like the computer is only set up for show.

Louis shakes his head.

"Good," his father says, and before Louis can blink an eye he’s thrown through the air at the flick of a finger, his back hitting the wall like a punch to the jaw.

Louis heaves, finding he can’t fall to his feet when his back is aching for him to just curl up there and then, but he can’t move.

Why couldn’t Louis get cool powers like that? It would make his life so much easier. He could put on the kettle without having to get out of bed, he could have the remote flying into his hand, and he could make his bed just by breathing on it.

Wouldn’t that be nice.

"What the hell do you think you’re doing, huh?" Hades asks, suddenly in his face.

"Didn’t think hell existed in your world," Louis manages.

"Hermes left the Underworld with a demigod," Hades hisses into his ear.

Louis strays away from his father’s sour breath as best as he can, and tilts his head to meet the god’s eyes. "What are you gonna do about it?"

Hades’ face is blown red in anger, and it almost reminds Louis of the Disney version of Hades. "I’ll make sure it never happens again," his father settles on after a while.

Not even a second later, Louis’ released from the wall, only to be pushed towards the exit.

"What are you doing?" Louis asks, and manages to step away from his father.

"Doing what I should’ve done the minute you started fighting against me," Hades says, then advances for Louis again, but the latter simply just steps away.

He’s going to take his memories away, Louis realizes, not even having considered that to be a consequence of what he’s done.

Louis’ about to object, but his father beats him to it. "I have what I need. I know where your friends are hiding, and it would be cruel to you to take them away while you’re still as attached to them as you are. I’m doing you a favour."

Louis shakes his head, his back hitting another wall as he refuses to go with his father. "You can’t do that."

"I can."

Louis breathes a laugh. "No, really. You can’t," he says. "Because if you do, those friends of mine are going to tell the Olympians about my existence. In turn, that would put you in a bit of a pickle, wouldn’t it?"

Hades’ face falls, but only for a split second before he turns his nose up again. "Are you threatening me?"

"Yeah," Louis shrugs. "Much like you’re threatening me. This isn’t a very healthy father-son relationship, if I’m being quite honest."

Hades huffs. "The Olympians won’t believe your half-blood friends for a second."

"Good thing Hermes knows as well, then," Louis bites back. "And Zephyrus. Apollo as well, thanks to you. Yeah, and don’t forget about the Fates, who are going to turn their back on you the minute they find out your son isn’t part taking in your schemes any longer."

Louis’ feeling braver by the second, and Hades’ reaction to his words is the only reason he keeps on going.

"Zephyrus told me taking away someone’s memories is illegal as well, did you know?" Louis tilts his head. "Breaking an awful amount of laws, are we? No wonder you’re no Olympian."

That was probably a low blow.

Hades’ face falls. Yes, definitely a low blow.

Louis takes it as a win either way, when Hades doesn’t seem to come up with an answer. "You’re gonna have to find some other way to fight your way up to Olympus," Louis carefully says. "I’m not going to be much of a help."

Louis wants to kick himself for trying to console his father. Two seconds ago Hades’ was ready to drown Louis for the fourth time, but yet here they are, face to face, not making any move to fight the other one off.

Maybe Hades’ has had a long day. Louis sure has.

"Then what now?" Hades asks after a moment, his hands hanging uselessly at his sides. "You’re going to keep protecting half-bloods you barely know? Are you choosing them over your own father?"

"I am," Louis says, no hesitation. "No offense, but they’ve been treating me kinder than you ever have. And I belong with them."

"You’re my son," Hades says.

"Yes, but you don’t own me," Louis says. "So what’s going to happen now is that you’re going to bring me back to Earth, and if you want to keep your head I’d suggest you won’t partake in the demigod hunt any longer. If you so much as breathe on any of my friends, I won’t hesitate to reveal myself to the gods. Are we clear?"

Being harsh doesn’t sit right with Louis, not in this way. But he knows it’s the only way to make his father take him seriously, to make him stop. Standing face to face with his father now doesn’t make Louis look small at all, doesn’t make him want to run away. Makes him look rather tough.

"You’ve got some guts, son. I’ll give you that," Hades chuckles, but his smile doesn’t quite reach his eyes. "For now, I have no choice but to oblige."

Louis wants to make a comment about the ‘for now’ part. But ‘for now’ is good enough… For now.

"If you ever threaten me again, however," his father warns. "I won’t take it lightly."

"Didn’t think you would."

Hades sighs, before pinching the bridge of his nose tiredly. "Was there anything else?"

Louis shifts a bit on his feet, because yeah, there is something else. Question is whether or not his father will throw him across the room once more if he dares to ask.

It’s worth a shot.

"Can you pay my rent this month?"

 

 

Louis drags his feet across the gravel in Niall’s driveway, his feet aching after a fucking long day. All he wants is to eat some coco pops, maybe watch a film, and fall asleep. His headache came back the second he came back from the Underworld, this time worse than it was before.

"Fucking hell," Louis mutters.

Before he opens the entrance door, he throws a quick glance over his shoulder. Just to make sure. Even if his father will back off, doesn’t mean the minor gods will. They’re still out there, still looking. They might not be able to sneak demigods into the Underworld through the loopholes anymore, but all the more reason to stay alert. If they aren’t snook in, a more traditional way of sending people to their deaths will surely come in use.

But Louis won’t let himself dwell on it tonight.

Or is it morning? Louis can’t tell. It’s pitch black outside, the moon hiding behind the clouds somewhere on the sky. His brand new phone got lost somewhere between the safe house and the Underworld - it could literally be anywhere, - so he hasn’t been able to check the time.

Oh, and he walked half of the way back to the mansion before some elderly couple felt sorry for him and let him ride with them the rest of the way.

Carefully, Louis opens the door, relieved to find it unlocked.

He can hear murmuring coming from the living room, someone’s quiet laughter echoing between the walls.

Louis walks towards the sound, his chest warming up by the feeling of safety, of home. It feels nice. Calming.

The moment he enters the living room, however, something- no, someone bangs into him without any warning, surprising an embarrassingly high-pitched sound out of Louis.

Vanilla.

"Fuck," Harry breathes, his lips gracing Louis’ ear, before pressing his nose against Louis’ neck. "Fuck, I was so scared."

There’s a chorus of "Louis, you’re home"’s "everything alright"’s, and "what happened"’s being thrown around the room. But Louis can’t really focus on them, the noise blending together as one. He can only focus on the warmth that is Harry’s skin against his own, his weight pressing against his body, arms holding onto him, telling him that he won’t let go. Never again.

"I’m so sorry," Harry whispers against his neck, the sentence coming out muffled. "I left you, I shouldn’t have. You could’ve been-"

"I’m alright," Louis says gently. "I promised you I’d come back, didn’t I?"

Harry nods against Louis’ neck, uttering another curse before pulling away, only to press his lips firmly against Louis’.

It’s desperate, like Harry’s trying to make up for their last kiss being so rushed, so full of fear, so uncertain. This kiss, though, is something completely different. Rather than rushed, it’s hard, but slow, all at the same time. It’s taking away every bit of fear that’s left in Louis’ bones, replacing it with hope. And most of all, it’s certain. Certain that they’ll be alright.

"Did Gemma get back okay?" Louis asks, breaking the kiss.

Harry nods, a smile spreading across his face. "Thank you," he says earnestly.

Louis’ almost forgotten they aren’t alone until a certain Irish man coughs conspicuously loud. Louis mournfully breaks away from Harry’s embrace.

"How was hell?" Niall asks, chipper as always.

Louis shrugs. "Not so bad."

A long silence follows, and Louis wonders if they’re all thinking what he’s thinking. They are safe for a few more days, but… They can’t stay here. And they all know that.

Louis shifts on his feet, letting his gaze travel over each face in the room, before asking:

"Now what?"

Chapter Text

"That’ll be 6,99."

"Do you take cards?"

"Sorry, we don’t."

"Of course not," Louis mumbles, while patting down his jacket. He eventually pulls out a curled up tenner from his right pocket, and smooths it out the best he can before handing it to the cashier.

Does this man even count as a cashier? Does this shop really count as a shop? If so, what kind of shop sells both chainsaws along with used cars? Louis bounces on his toes while waiting to get his change back, all while warily eyeing the strung up rifle on the wall. Wouldn’t surprise Louis if it was loaded, ready to kill any lost polar bears that’s made their way to this wasteland.

After getting his change back, Louis waves goodbye to the cashier and takes his bucket of paint with him out of the shop, finding Niall leaning against their pick-up, waiting for him.

Yeah, Niall bought a pick-up for twenty demigods to share.

Oh, and a house.

In Scotland.

When Hermes told Louis that his daughters lived "up north", he didn’t exactly think further than to Newcastle, at most. But no, no, no - north, as in, you can see the bloody north pole with proper binoculars from here.

Louis may be exaggerating a bit, but he’s still grumpy over the fact that he was the one who had to drive the entire way up here, with all the demigod’s pajamas and handkerchiefs and teddy bears and fuck knows what else, all while listening to Niall going on and on about some low-budget shit film he’s convinced is propaganda in disguise.

Meanwhile, Harry was on a train with the others, and probably slept through the whole ride.

Yeah, Louis’ bitter.

"Is that all you’re getting?" Niall asks, eyeing the bucket critically. "Mate, we’re painting an entire house."

Louis shrugs. "I say we all buy a bucket each. I just started working, I’m not throwing away my first check on paint, thank you very much."

"Someone’s cheap," Niall sasses, before getting behind the wheel.

Louis hops in the passenger seat. "Not all of us has a billion quid in their back pocket, Nialler."

"I don’t have a… Billion," Niall mumbles. "And I didn’t sell my loft for you to paint the front door and leave the rest. So suck it up."

"The door’s already painted," Louis mutters quietly, buckling up.

"Do you wanna walk home?" Niall asks, giving Louis a stern glare.

Louis looks away. "No…"

And then Niall starts laughing, drowning out the roar of the engine. "When I sell my first book, Lou," Niall starts, carefully backing out of the parking lot. "I’ll buy you as many buckets of paint you want."

"You were the one who wanted more paint," Louis mutters, but he’s not sure Niall heard.

Yeah, yeah, Niall coming along to Scotland might sound strange, given he has a mansion back in London along with some friends he left behind. But as it is, Niall was actually the one who asked if he could come, said that was his one condition if he were to help the demigods find a new place to stay. Nowadays, he’s furiously working on his first ever children’s book. Says it’s the best way to make money without having to get up at arse crack of dawn.

"When’s Liam coming?" Louis asks.

"Said he’d be here by six," Niall answers. "Zayn’s coming, as well."

Louis whips his head around. "What? How long have you known?"

"Relax, mate. Heard they’re happy together," Niall says, patting Louis’ thigh.

"Happy together," Louis deadpans. "I leave them for two weeks and suddenly they’re married. Unbelievable."

"Worst is, you’re not even exaggerating," Niall laughs. "They live together."

Again, Louis whips his head around. "What!?"

"I dunno why you hate Zayn so much."

"I don’t hate him," Louis deflates. "I just… I don’t want Liam getting hurt is all. Zayn will never be able to grow old with him."

"Aaaw," Niall coos. "Like you and Harry."

Louis giggles without really meaning to. "Shut up."

"Hey," Niall says after a minute. "Guess what I’m making for dinner tonight."

Louis sinks further into his seat, wishing with everything he has that Niall will stub a toe and be unable to make dinner tonight. "Fish and ice cream," Louis guesses.

"Nope."

Louis closes his eyes.

"Guess again," Niall says.

Sigh. "Beefcake."

"The fuck is a beefcake?"

Louis shrugs.

"Guess again."

"Niall!" Louis exclaims. "I woke up at seven, alright. I’m tired."

Believe it or not, Louis actually got his first ever job. The employer didn’t really have that many people to choose from, given this town’s population is at the size of a peanut, so it wasn’t really that hard to get said job. But Louis got it, and has been working at the saddest looking gas station in Europe for a full week today. He had two costumers today. Two.

The only upside to living in such a deserted place, is that Louis hasn’t had any visions ever since they moved here. The drive up here was hell, to say the least, what with driving past about twenty or so previously-dead people. Niall told him he needed to come up with a better name for them, because according to him, "previously-dead" people sounds like an insult.

He suggested calling them zombies instead.

"Guess."

Louis squeezes the bridge of his nose, and again, sighs. "Banana soup."

"Nope."

"Crayon."

"Ew, no."

"Niall, just tell me!" Louis nearly explodes.

Niall’s quite for a moment, then he smirks. "Chicken tandoori."

 

 

Louis has exactly one hour to get ready before Liam and Zayn arrive, and he so wishes he had more time. He wants to take a nap, he wants to stare at the wall until the room starts spinning, and he wants to sponge up in the tub.

Naturally, this is where Louis decides to take his boyfriend with him up to their bedroom, lock the door, and ruin the sheets.

There’s always time for that.

When it’s a quarter to six, Harry nuzzles Louis’ hand. Louis answers by wrapping his arms firmer around the taller boy, not wanting to get out of bed ever.

"Shower?" Harry asks, voice groggy.

"Nap," Louis answers. "It’s warm here. And dry."

Without a warning, Harry breaks free from Louis’ hold, and gets out of bed. Louis groans in complaint, and rolls over to Harry’s side of the bed where it’s warmer, closing his eyes shut.

"I’ll let you use my special soap," Harry woos, face all of a sudden an inch away from Louis’ ear.

Louis pops an eye open. "The vanilla one?"

"I’ll even scrub you in."

Louis rolls over to his back, and reaches out his arms. "Carry me."

"The bathrooms at the end of the hall, Lou," Harry says, frowning.

"And?"

"And you’re naked."

Louis spreads out his arms further, grinning. "You’ll have to run, then."

Harry’s smirking now, and looks behind his shoulder as if someone’s already caught them running through the house butt naked. The chance of people seeing them is dangerously high, given the house isn’t much bigger than their previous safe house. All the bedrooms are either in the first floor, or in the basement. The ground floor is just one big, open area; living room, kitchen and dining room all flocked together as one.

It’s cozy here, though. And in Louis’ own opinion, one shouldn’t feel ashamed to be walking around naked in their own home. He’s sure Harry feels the same way.

"Up you go then," Harry says, picking up Louis bridal style. "If anyone sees us, make sure you cover my balls."

"I will try my best," Louis nods, giving Harry a mock gesture.

Harry shifts his arms around a bit under Louis’ body, before marching over to the door. Louis opens it carefully, and peeks out.

He can’t see anyone. "Coast is clear," he whispers, before swinging the door open wide. "Go! Go! Go!"

Harry’s probably never ran faster in his entire life.

 

 

Fifteen minutes later, Louis descends down the stairs with Harry in tow. Louis’ got a pleased smile plastered onto his face now that he smells like vanilla, but it’s nothing compared to the other boy’s smile. Louis genuinely thinks it must hurt to smile that hard.

"I know," Louis says. "I smell amazing."

Just as they reach the ground floor, the doorbell rings.

"Not even a second late," Louis mutters, but a smile spreads back across his face at the thought of seeing Liam again.

He steps up to the door, while Harry goes to help Niall in the kitchen, and stops himself from opening when he remembers: "Code?"

"Is that really necessary?" someone mutters from the other side. That would be Zayn, then.

"Try opening it then," Louis calls back. "Unless you need that hand, that is."

Louis’ sure he can hear his ex-flatmate giggling on the other side, and a proud smile curls on the former’s lips knowing that they both enjoy messing around with the god. Mess, as in, joke around. Not the other thing.

God, not the other thing.

There’s a loud sigh coming from the other side. "Louis is cool."

"What, I didn’t hear ya properly?" Louis snickers.

"Louis is cool!" Zayn nearly shouts. "Now open the bloody door."

In all honesty, Zayn doesn’t really need a code word to get through the door. But Louis thinks it’s nice to hear Zayn yelling at the top of his lungs about just how cool Louis is. He owes him that much.

The area around the house is pretty much just trees and open fields, and it wouldn’t surprise Louis if he spotted tumbleweeds rolling down the roads out here. So a code word won’t really do much good. If any minor gods were to come here, they could simply just climb through the windows if they were determined enough.

Louis swings the door open, finding a crinkly-eyed Liam and a moody-looking Zayn standing in the doorway, each carrying way more luggage than needed for a weekend. 

"I don’t understand why you couldn’t just stick with orchid," Zayn mutters, ruining the mystery of the London safe house code word just like that. Louis gives him a good glare.

After embracing Liam and giving Zayn a harsh pat on the shoulder, Louis ushers them inside. He doesn’t bother giving them the full tour of the house, given they can see just about everything they need to see from where they’re standing right now.

"I brought you a present," Liam says, then nudges Zayn in the shoulder.

Zayn sighs dramatically, before putting down his bags. He rummages through the smaller bag for a while before pulling out a bottle of wine.

"Where’s the little bow?" Liam whispers to Zayn, as if Louis can’t hear.

Zayn rummages some more, before pulling out a yellow paper bow that’s seen better days. He gives both items to Louis.

"Housewarming gift," Liam explains jollily.

"Niall’s in the kitchen," Louis says, pointing his thumb in that direction. "Just leave your luggage here, I’m not really sure where you’re sleeping."

Living with twenty other people is like walking into a party every time he enters a new room. It’s no different today, as he leads the way across the room. Demigods are neatly spread out in the living room and dining area, Niall having made it clear that he doesn’t want anyone in his kitchen who isn’t named Harry.

Harry spots Zayn and Liam, and walks over to them straight away, giving both of them a warm hug.

While Louis was in the Underworld, Harry had made up with Zayn, finding that there wasn’t really anything to forgive. He just didn’t do well with being kept in the dark about how he got out of the Underworld for so long.

Louis leaves Liam and Zayn’s side to go over to the two teenage girls standing awkwardly in the corner. He invited Hermes’ daughters over for dinner today, as a way of getting to know them better given they’re the reason the whole safe house moved all the way to Scotland. Since they’re only sixteen, they all agreed that they shouldn’t be moving in with the demigods. To Harry, it was especially important to let them live at home for as long as they could.

They’re the only neighbor’s the demigods has got. Neighbor’s as in, it’s a five minute walk from the safe house. At first, Louis was apprehensive about letting them live so far away, given the minor gods are still out there, still looking. It all got sorted out when good ol’ Niall suggested taking shifts of keeping watch of the area. Just in case.

No minor gods have made their way up here yet.

Well, expect Zephyrus.

"Is he the god?" one of the twins, Lucy, asks, staring wide eyed at… Liam.

"No, no," Louis says. "That’s his um- friendly friend. One hundred percent human, just like Niall."

The other twin, Jane, scrunches her nose. "So that’s the god?" she asks, eyeing Zayn critically. "Doesn’t really look like one."

Louis holds back a laugh. "Yeah, yeah. Disappointing, I know."

It’s the first time Lucy and Jane is seeing a god in person. Like Harry, and everyone else here besides Louis and Gemma, they’ve never met their other parent. Hermes does send them letters, though, even if that’s technically also forbidden.

Hermes has also started sending Louis letters. He’s gotten two so far, where Hermes makes it very clear how much Louis’ life will suck if something happens to his daughters. Louis’ not expecting the letters to stop anytime soon.

"Dinner will be ready in a few," Louis informs. "Why don’t you go look for Perrie? I think she’s still in her room with the other girls."

The twins nod, and ushers away from Louis, straying as far as possible away from the other demigods. They’re shy, Louis can tell, and so far only seems to be comfortable around a few people here. Perrie is their favorite.

After Louis, of course.

"What are you smiling about?" someone says from behind him, and if it wasn't for the voice, Louis could probably recognize it’s Harry just from the smell. They really went for it with that vanilla soap.

"Am I your favorite?" Louis asks.

Harry frowns. "What?"

Louis tilts his head.

Harry giggles. "Only if I’m yours."

Louis goes to lean his chest up against Harry’s, a rather awkward position, but he’s feeling awfully happy these days. He just want cuddles and pizza and short walks in the woods. Maybe the fresh air has something to do with it. Maybe it’s Harry.

"Liam’s my favorite," Louis says, grinning.

"Heeey," Harry complains, but kisses Louis nonetheless.

After a surprisingly good dinner - Louis truly didn’t think Niall had it in him to make actual okay food - the twins are walked home by Perrie and Jade, Niall goes to turn on the telly, and Louis goes to have a stern chat with Liam.

"How’s Zayn treating you?" he asks, plopping down by the dining table where Liam’s been sipping coffee by himself. Zayn’s outside with Harry and some others to check out the house from the outside, so Louis figures he has plenty of time to talk shit behind the god’s back.

"Good," Liam beams. "He’s amazing. Really."

Louis squints his eyes, trying to see if there’s any underlying message in Liam’s words.

"I mean," Liam says. "When he told me about the, uh, god thing, I’ll admit I was a bit shocked. But to me he’s still just Zayn."

"Liam," Louis starts carefully. "You do know that he’ll… Stay that age forever, right?"

Liam shrugs. "Yeah, but. We’re taking each day as it comes. And right now I’m happy. We’re happy."

Louis chews on the inside of his cheeks. Alright, maybe Louis can’t decide who Liam dates and doesn’t date, but he’s still allowed to be worried. Right?

"I’m just worried," Louis admits. "You deserve the best, Li."

Liam pats Louis’ hand. "Already have the best. Got a nice flat, got a great job, and I’ve got Zayn with me every day."

"But what about his responsibilities? He’s still a god," Louis points out.

"And he goes to work, just as I do," Liam says. "Might not have solid work schedule, but he’s still got plenty of time for me."

Louis hums, still scared of what’ll happen in the future for the couple.

"Don’t worry your little head," Liam says, ruffling up Louis’ hair across the table. "We’ll be alright. At least for now."

Liam gives Louis one final encouraging smile, and Louis smiles back. In Louis’ experience, for now may be just enough.

 

 

The morning after, Louis’ alarm wakes him up at 7am, and it takes him about five minutes until he realizes it’s Saturday and he has the day off. He curses quietly, and rolls over only to find that the other side of the bed is empty.

Louis frowns, and sits up in bed. The sun hasn’t even had a chance to rise yet. Normally, Harry can sleep until noon if Louis doesn’t decide to wake him up.

He chooses to wait another five minutes in case Harry’s just gone to the bathroom, but when those five minutes are up, Louis waves goodbye to his bed and exits the bedroom.

The floors are creaking more in the mornings, Louis’ learned after he started waking up before everyone else. It’s so quiet, it’s almost unsettling. He stops at the top of the stairs. Maybe Harry’s downstairs.

When he can’t hear anything, Louis descends the stairs.

While wandering around the house, Louis flicks on all the lights, one after the other. He checks the couch to see if maybe Harry went down here to sleep, but he can’t see him.

"Harry?" Louis calls out then, just loud enough not to wake the other demigods.

No answers.

Frowning, Louis goes to put his shoes on, and exits the house.

It’s freezing outside, and the first snow can fall any moment now. Louis should’ve put a jacket on.

The pick-up is still parked in their driveway, so at least Harry hasn’t decided to leave town. Not that he has any reason to, but it’s unusual of him to disappear like this. He always tells Louis where he goes, even if it’s just to the bathroom.

Then he sees him, way out on the open field across the road, plucking straws from the ground. He’s too far out to spot Louis, his face turned towards east. Towards where the sun will rise.

One of the first things Louis learned about Harry, is that he doesn’t go outside while the sun rises. Apollo might know.

It’s still another hour until the sun rises, though, so maybe Harry will get up and leave before then. Louis’ unsure on whether or not he should walk over to him, or ask him about it later. If Harry wanted Louis to sit out there with him, surely he would tell him. Wouldn’t he?

Either way, Louis won’t be getting any sleep while knowing Harry’s out in the field by himself so early, not knowing what’s going on inside his head. Did Louis do something wrong? He can’t remember. He doesn’t think so.

Nah, Harry would let Louis know right away if he did something that bothered him.

Louis lingers for another moment, before deciding to let Harry have some time for himself, and walks back inside to make himself a cup of tea.

He sits by the dining table for no more than ten minutes before he gets restless, wanting so badly to go outside to Harry. But he should wait.

Then he remembers that bucket of paint he bought yesterday, hidden away down in the basement. He wasn’t supposed to do this until all the other demigods were awake to see, but figures that now as any would be a good time to get to work. He’s got plenty of time, after all.

Louis leaves his half-full mug of tea by the table, and as quietly as possible, walks down to the basement.

The walls are thin down here, and Louis’ grateful he and Harry got a bedroom on the top floor. He’s not sure if it’s Balder or Niall that’s snoring like a chainsaw, almost making the house vibrate. How annoying for the others sleeping down here.

There’s a tiny room just under the staircase, where they keep all their tools and washing equipment, and just on the highest shelf in the corner is where Louis put his bucket. He rises to the tips of his toes, and to Louis’ relief, he gets ahold of it without tipping the entire shelf over.

Hopefully, Louis got the right colour, or Gemma will be extremely disappointed in him. Or worse, Perrie, who made it very clear that if Louis were to do this, it would have to match the paint she bought for the window frames.

Before walking upstair again, Louis snatches a few paint brushes, not really sure what size he needs.

Louis puts on his jacket before heading outside again. It really is freezing outside. Fucking Scotland.

He gets to work before his hands fall off due to the cold, and by the end of it he can barely feel his fingers. Looks good, though. Perrie would approve.

Hopefully, Harry will as well.

Louis peeks over to where Harry’s still sat out in the field. He’s not plucking grass anymore. Instead, he’s watching as the sky is being streaked with shades of yellow, orange, pink.

Sunrise.

Louis frowns, and puts his bucket of paint away, along with the brushes he used, before heading towards the field.

The frosted grass is cold against his ankles, soaking up his shoes as he goes. Only when he’s halfway across the field does Harry turn his head towards him.

Sunlight’s resting against the boy’s cheek, warming him up after having been surrounded by the cold for so long. Louis wonders how long he’s actually been out here.

Without a word, Louis plops down in the wet grass next to Harry, and watches the sunrise with him. They don’t need to speak, both knowing exactly what Harry’s doing out here.

He’s letting his father know he’s alright. Letting him know he’s here. Though Apollo probably won’t show up, at least he knows.

"Remember when we talked about heroes, Lou?" Harry asks then, breaking the silence.

Louis shifts a bit closer to Harry. "That’s one of the first things you told me about. Heracles was a hero, right?"

"Yeah," Harry says. "And you."

Louis frowns, letting a humorless laugh escape his lips. "I’m not."

"But you are," Harry says. "If it weren’t for you we wouldn’t be here. Gemma wouldn’t be here. And I sure as hell wouldn’t be sitting out here watching the sunrise."

"Going out here this morning was your choice, though," Louis points out.

"Yeah, but," Harry starts, eyes fixed on the sky. "After I met you, I realized a few things. Like the thing with your father, how after everything he did you still don’t hate him."

"I don’t particularly like him," Louis comments.

"No, but," Harry shrugs. "You don’t complain. You just deal with it, knowing things can’t change, and choose to focus on the good things instead. And I admire that."

"Do I?" Louis asks skeptically, remembering what deep shit he was in only a few weeks ago. Maybe he didn’t complain that much about his situation, but he sure had some questionable methods to dealing with it.

"Though you may not be able to forgive and forget, you still find a way to move on," Harry says. "Like dealing with the fact that you’re a demigod, dealing with your powers. Finding solutions to problems and just going with it."

"You do that, too," Louis says softly.

"Greek mythology rarely tells stories about forgiveness," Harry says. "Remember when I told you that Medusa got her hair fixed? Got rid of the snakes?"

Louis snickers. "Yeah. Can’t say I’ve read that story in any of my history books."

"That’s because the story was never written," Harry says. "But she did get it fixed. And she can finally look people in the eye without accidentally turning them into statues, so I guess she’s pretty happy about that.

"In the history books, Medusa’s story ended when Perseus beheaded her," Harry says. "That her head was used as a weapon, placed onto Athena’s shield to turn enemies to stone. In reality, though, Athena chose to forgive Medusa, because if you’ve read the stories, Medusa did nothing wrong."

Louis knows he’s read her story somewhere, a long time ago, but he can’t say he remembers it.

"Medusa was made out to be some sort of villain," Harry continues. "The stories state that she was one of three sisters, all beautiful maidens. Poseidon took advantage of that. Athena found Medusa in her temple after the incident, and in rage she transformed Medusa into this horrible creature, unable to find love ever again."

"That’s horrible," Louis comments.

"Hundreds of years passed, and finally Athena got to know the truth of what happened in the temple. So she chose to give Medusa her old life back, as well as creating the story about how Perseus killed her, as to not ruining her own reputation about doing such a horrible thing to an innocent woman. But Medusa she just, forgave. Moved on. No grudges whatsoever."

"Huh," is all Louis can say.

"Gemma used to tell me that story," Harry muses. "So… I’m not really sure if it’s true," he laughs, plucking some grass from the ground. "But it’s helped me realize how grudges won’t really do any good. Both parts would end up miserable either way."

"Not sure I agree," Louis says.

"Do you bear any grudges?"

Louis thinks. "Well, no, not anymore. But I didn’t particularly like Zayn, only accepted him yesterday. And I wanted to rip my father’s head off. And don’t even get me started on Balder."

Harry laughs. "Yeah, but you’re cool with them now?"

"Cool, as in, I can stand being around them, yeah," Louis says.

"That’s what I’m doing now, then," Harry says, looking up to the sky again. "I’m not going to say I’ve forgiven my father, or that I accept what is, but… I’m trying."

Louis hums, and lets his gaze lift to the sky as well.

After another few minutes, Louis breaks the silence again. "I have a surprise for you."

Harry whips his head around, eyes round as the sun itself. "A surprise?"

Louis giggles. "Yeah!"

"I love surprises," Harry says. "What is it?"

"I can’t tell you that," Louis says, playfully smacking Harry in the arm. "You’ll have to see for yourself."

"It’s here?" Harry asks, craning his neck to look over Louis’ shoulder. Louis wonders what Harry thinks he’ll find hiding behind his shoulder, but okay.

"No," Louis says, getting up. "Let’s head back, yeah?"

Delighted, Harry hops to his feet, dusting away grass from his bum.

Louis takes ahold of Harry’s hand, and tangles their fingers together, before towing Harry with him back towards the house. The sunrise has made the air a bit warmer, the view a bit clearer.

When they get back to the house, Gemma’s outside, lingering with one foot inside the truck with her eyes fixed on the sign above their entrance door. She turns her head towards the two boys just when their feet hit the dirty road, gravel crunching underneath their boots.

"Did you do this today?" she asks, smiling.

"Did what?" Harry asks.

"Shh," Louis stresses, before jumping in front of Harry, covering his eyes with his hands. Then he turns to glare at Gemma, and whisper-shouts: "It’s supposed to be a surprise!"

"You’re covering his eyes, not his ears, mate," Gemma says, but she’s still smiling. "I’m going into town now, but…" whisper-shout "I really like it."

Louis grins back, grateful Gemma approves of his sign.

Gemma gets in the truck, and only when she’s out the driveway, does Louis turn back to Harry, his hands still firmly planted against the latter’s eyes.

"Alright, you ready?" Louis asks. "And please don’t say you like it just because I made it, be honest, yeah? My writing isn’t exactly the best and-"

"Louis," Harry interrupts. "I’m sure it’s fine, whatever it is."

Louis nods, before stopping himself given Harry can’t see him. "Alright."

Carefully, Louis lowers his hands from Harry’s face, before stepping aside.

It takes Harry a moment before he spots Louis’ surprise, but when he eventually does, Louis swears he can hear his breath hitching.

Is that a good sign or a bad sign?

"What do you think?" Louis asks.

Instead of answering, Harry steps towards the entrance, eyes never leaving the wooden sign above the door.

"You remembered," Harry says, almost whispers, fingers hovering an inch away from the writing. "It’s even the same colour."

"Got a bit of help from Gemma, not gonna lie," Louis says. "Sent me a few pictures of it."

"I love it," Harry says earnestly, turing to face Louis. "Thank you."

Louis smiles when Harry smiles, before turning to look at the sign again. The writing is painted on in neat, capitalized letters, the colour as blue as the deep ocean.

"I wanted to, um," Louis says, shifting a bit on his feet. "Give you back that feeling you had, while out in the woods, in your treehouse. Now a sign might not be able to do that, but it’s a start, yeah?"

"Runaway Land," Harry reads, eyes sparkling. "Only bigger. And a lot more far out in the woods this time," he laughs.

"Yeah," Louis grins. "Hopefully you’ll be more at peace here."

"We," Harry corrects, tangling his fingers in Louis’.

And so Louis smiles again. His head hasn’t felt this clear for ages. His chest hasn’t felt this light. Nor has he never felt this happy, this safe, than where he is now.

With Harry, and in their very own Runaway Land.