"Mister Tomlinson, please stay after class for a moment. I need to speak with you." Mrs. Kendall said, shuffling with papers on her desk as students filed out of the classroom.
Louis felt his heart sink in his chest at his teacher's words, a massive weight being placed on his chest. When a teacher asked you to stay after class, it only meant one thing. And it wasn't that you're gonna receive a lollipop and a sticker.
He grabbed his backpack, placing it on his back and cautiously stepping up to the desk. His hands were trembling, his breathing ragged, his cheeks flushed. He didn't like getting in trouble, because he wasn't a bad kid or a bad student, and whenever he did get chewed out by one of his teachers, the result was never happy-go-lucky.
"Louis, you do know that you're failing my class, right?" Right. Louis nodded, swallowing the lump in his throat and looking down at his feet. "Then why don't you ever do your homework? I'm not just going to hand you an A, Louis, you need to do your work to earn your grade. You know I don't do extra credit, and if you don't stop slacking off, you're going to need to go to summer school." Louis' heartbeat began to quicken at the words 'summer school', because he really couldn't go to summer school. He'd be taking care of his sisters over the summer, his mother can't afford a babysitter or any sorts.
But Louis just nodded, understanding his teacher's intentions. He shuffled out of the classroom, still looking down at his feet as he walked through the crowded halls. And he couldn't help but feel like everyone was watching him, looking at him like he was some sort of disgusting alien that didn't belong there. "Hey, Louis, come suck my cock!" He heard one of the football players shout in a menacing, tortuous tone. This was a regular thing now ever since everyone found out that he was gay. They'd make fun of him, talk about him, call him a 'faggot', and he wondered if they knew that their words really did hurt him. Like, a lot.
Nothing in this school could make Louis smile. His teachers only chewed him out for not doing his work, but he really couldn't do his work, because while his mom was working 18 hour shifts at the hospital, he would stay home and watch his sisters, cook for them, bathe them, tuck them in. Then the whole cycle would start again. He had little time to himself, let alone to spend 3 hours on English homework. It was all so stressful, and with the weight of all of the shade thrown at him in the hallways? It was like his life was a living Hell.
But there was one person who could take his cares away, even if it was only for a moment, and that was his best friend, Harry. He'd eat lunch with him and help him ignore the hatred, he'd drive him home and sometimes he'd help him care for his sisters. Harry was a true angel, what he did for Louis. And he was so appreciative of it.
He saw the familiar curly-headed boy wading through the crowd in the hallway, reaching his hand up, waving to Louis with an unfaltering grin on his face. Louis smiled forcefully, waving back. "Hey, Lou!" Harry ran forward, pulling him in for a warm hug. And Louis really liked these hugs, because Harry would wrap his arms around his shoulders, shielding him from the disgusting world around them. He took a deep breath in when Harry held onto him, and he kind of smelled like fabric softener and toothpaste, and Louis really liked that smell. It was Harry, and he'd practically memorized it after all of the hugs they'd shared.
"Hey." He croaked out, folding his arms around Harry's back and holding him closer. He didn't want the hug to ever end, he felt safe, protected. But he felt something hit him in the back of his head, and turned around to see some guy that he'd never met standing there.
"Hey, faggot. Got a boyfriend, now, I see." Louis' eyes widened and his cheeks flushed, mouth ajar slightly as he looked back to Harry.
"I'm sorry, Harry, I didn't mean to drag you into this I-" Louis started, his eyes watering and stinging with tears, because now Harry was going to be made fun of, and that was the last thing he wanted. Harry was so nice to him, he didn't deserve to be talked to like that.
"Hey, why don't you fuck off, you dick?" Harry shouted, moving so he was standing in front of Louis. Everyone in the hallway got quiet, every conversation frozen in time. All eyes were on Harry and the mystery guy.
"Oh, going on to defend your boyfriend, eh?" He snorted, stepping forward and up to Harry.
"Yeah, I'm gonna defend him, because you have no right to call him those names. He's a human being, not a fucking dog!" Harry barked out, standing over the guy, and it was actually an interesting sight to see. Harry's long, lanky figure standing over this guy's short, fat persona.
The guy laughed, looking around at the students surrounding them. But noone else was laughing. Everyone else was watching intently, some people had their phones out recording. "He's. A. Faggot." He said sharply, and Louis flinched when Harry growled, lunging onto the guy. His hands were whipping down onto him, clenched fists hitting him every which way. The boy was wriggling beneath him, flailing his arms about, trying to grab onto Harry, but his hands only found the open air. A lot of students were cheering, and Louis wanted to cheer with them, but he only sat there with his mouth gaping open, eyes wide. He didn't know Harry could do that. Hell, Harry seemed like the calmest person ever. He couldn't hurt a fly.
But here he was, pummeling this guy into the tile floor, teeth barred and eyes dark. And, as if right on cue, two of the school officers came running down the hallway. The larger one went for Harry, pulling him off of the boy, and the smaller one helped the guy off of the ground. Harry stood there, restrained by the officer, curly hair mussed up and in his eyes, face red with anger. And the look on the boy's face was actually kind of priceless, eyes wide in shock, blood dripping down his nose, some on his lip. He was seriously tore up.
"Come on." The officer commanded, yanking Harry towards the office. Now Louis stood in the hallway again, exposed, but he still felt safer than ever. He didn't think that Harry would do something like that for him. He could get into deep trouble, even get suspended. But it seemed like he didn't care. And Louis smiled. A real genuine smile.
Throughout the rest of the day, nobody spoke to Louis. Noone looked at him, noone said anything about him. Nothing happened. And Louis was quite grateful for that. Nobody called him a faggot, nobody told him to go suck a cock or something, nothing. He waited in the usual spot in front of the school for Harry, watching as students walked by. "Hey, Tomlinson!" And Louis felt like he might've thrown up once he heard that voice. It was the captain of the football team, and he was the most ruthless of all of the bullies who've tormented him. "Heard your little boyfriend beat up one of my guys today." He tried to ignore him, turned away and started walking the opposite direction, but he felt two hands on his arms, yanking him to the ground. He yelped out, hitting the concrete and looking up at the two other football players holding him down.
The captain stepped in front of him, staring down at him with his arms crossed. "You know that I'm not gonna let you get away with that." He said in a clear, low tone. And Louis knew what was to come, so he closed his eyes, awaiting the first blow to come. And when it did, he clamped his teeth down, tears pricking at the corners of his eyes from the pain. And after that one, more and more blows came raining down on him, some from the other guys, and each one hurt with equal force. He tried to fight away, tried to hit back, but they had his arms held down tightly. He wasn't going anywhere.
"Louis!" He heard the best voice he'd ever heard shout out, and could hear the sound of his sneakers hitting the ground below as he ran closer. "Leave him alone! Go!" Harry shouted, pushing the guys away. They all glared at him and ran away, their figures getting into a truck and speeding off. Louis could feel his heartbeat in his head, his face tingled with a constant pain, his knees weak. He couldn't even think straight, his mind a complete blur. He knew Harry was talking but he couldn't hear him, only a ringing sound filling his ears. He stood up with Harry, wobbling a bit until he fell against Harry's chest. He felt Harry's arms around him, his own head settled into the crook of his neck. He could barely even breathe, couldn't see, couldn't feel much of anything.
"Louis? Are you okay?" He heard Harry's muffled words in his shoulder, and it took him a moment to process his words. He nodded, unable to form any kind of dialouge. "I'm gonna take you to my house and clean you up, okay?" Harry whispered, and Louis' heart swelled in his chest when he felt Harry leave a gentle kiss to his cheek. He and Harry never did anything like that. All they ever did was hug. But that one small peck to his cheek had so many words to go with it. Like he could feel everything that Harry wanted to say. And he hoped that what he was thinking was right.
He opened his eyes and held onto Harry as they shuffled over to his car. Harry threw their backpacks in the back seat and started the car, rushing out of the school parking lot. The entire car ride was quiet, the only sounds the ones of the engine running and a few sniffles from Louis' silent crying. Once they reached their destination, Harry helped walk Louis into the house, closing the door behind him and helping him to the bathroom. "Here, Louis, let's get you rinsed off." Harry said in a soft tone, and Louis had probably never felt so cared for in his entire life. He sat down on the cover of the toilet seat, swaying slightly. He felt a wet cloth brushing on his cheek, him hissing in pain, and clamping his eyes shut. He felt the rough cloth dabbing at his forehead, Harry moving it all around his face before rinsing it in the water.
"Does it look bad?" Louis said, voice sounding like razors and eyes red and puffy. He looked up at Harry, needing an honest answer, because he didn't want to answer the questions that are sure to come when he goes home. Home. Wait a second. "Harry, I need to get home, my sisters, the-"
"Your mom texted me. Said they were all staying with friends tonight. It's fine, Louis, don't worry, don't stress." Harry continued in the most soothing calming tone ever. Louis nodded, heartbeat steadying. "Anyways, I don't think it looks that bad... You... You always look beautiful if you'd ask me." Harry whispered sheepishly, dimples creasing into his cheeks as he grabbed a package of bandages from the cabinet. Louis looked at him, a bit confused, because nobody had ever said something so nice to him before. Even though this was Harry and he was always kind with him, he'd never said anything like that.
"Look, Harry, you don't need to do this just because you feel sorry for me." Louis said, frowning at him as he stuck a band-aid onto his eyebrow.
"Lou, I'm doing this because I'm your b-. Best friend and I care about you." Louis scoffed, shaking his head.
"No, nobody cares about me, okay? Nobody. You don't need to act like you do." And he meant it. Because no one cared about him. Not anyone. Only his mom and maybe his sisters, and they were all always gone. Nobody wanted him around. Everyone just felt bad for him or they didn't feel bad, and by that they would make fun of him and he'd end up like this.
"Don't you dare talk like that, Louis. You know I care about you more than anything in the world." Harry said, eyebrows furrowed and lips pouted slightly. He sat there, emotionless until Harry sighed. "Why don't you change into something more comfortable? I have some stuff that might fit." Louis nodded, Harry taking his hand and helping him up. But he never let go of his hand. He only held onto it tighter, leading him to his bedroom. Louis sat down on his bed, staring blankly at the carpet below as Harry shuffled through his drawers. "Here, wear this. It's the smallest thing I've got. I hope it fits." Harry said as he handed Louis a hoodie and some sweatpants. Louis stood up, attempting to remove his shirt, but his whole body ached with pain, and when he lifted his arms he only groaned from the stabbing feeling in his biceps.
"Harry, can you help me?" Louis asked, voice quiet. He stood there as Harry moved closer, helping him remove the wrinkled, worn t-shirt from his body. He then slipped the oversized hoodie onto his torso, and even though it was the smallest thing he had, it was still much too big for him. The arm sleeves were too long, it hanged off of his body. But Louis liked it. It smelled like Harry, felt like Harry, and that's all that Louis really wanted right now. He didn't want to see anyone else in the world except for the mop of curls and deep green fir irises. That's it.
He removed his jeans, not putting on the sweatpants, because he really didn't want to wear them. He just wanted to lie down and curl up into a ball and maybe cry his eyes out. He crawled up Harry's bed, getting under the covers and lying his head on the cool pillow beneath him. "I'll be right back." Harry smiled at him and left the room, Louis now left alone with his thoughts and feelings. And that really wasn't the safest thing for him right now. But he heard a familiar voice coming from the Television in front of the bed, and when he looked at the T.V., he could've cried at what he saw.
Harry put it on Doctor Who for him.
Now, that might seem like nothing to anyone else, but the thing is, Harry knew and remembered that Louis loved the show. And since he put it on, it meant that he was actually listening to Louis when he would prate on and on about the show. And it kind of meant a lot to Louis that he would pay attention to him like that. He smiled into the pillow, closing his eyes and relaxing for the first time that day. And it felt nice to know that there was someone who might care about him around.
He heard the door open, and looked back to see Harry shuffling in, holding two mugs in his hands. He set one on the bedside table by Louis, then moved to the other side of the bed and set the other one down. He lied there, watching as Harry crawled underneath the covers with him, pulling it up and tucking it under his chin. "You feeling better?" He asked, the dimples creasing in his cheeks seeming even deeper than usual.
"Yeah. 'M okay." Louis replied, turning his face away, because the way Harry was looking at him made him think of some really wonderful and beautiful things that would never happen.
They lied there, silent, for what seemed to be forever. Louis would giggle a few times at what the Doctor would say, and he'd feel Harry's stare on him, but would try to ignore it. He'd sip at the tea that Harry made him and sink into the sheets. And everything in the world was perfect. No worries. No stress. Just him and Harry sitting in his room, enjoying the peaceful aura of the moment.
"Louis?" He looked over at Harry, eyebrows raised. "I don't know if this is the right time or place to tell you, but I'm gonna do it anyways." Louis felt like his lungs might've collapsed inside of him, because Harry was being really shifty right now and he really didn't want to hear what he thought he was gonna say. He couldn't lose yet another friend.
"Harry, if this is about what those guys said to you earlier, I understand. You don't want to be friends with someone who'll only case you trouble." Louis mumbled, eyes burning again because he'd seriously been on and off crying all day and what's one more minute to let it all out?
"No, no, Louis that's not it at all." Harry comforted, wrapping his arms around Louis' shoulders and pulling him into him. "Not at all, Lou, no. That's not what this is about." He steadied his breathing, swallowing the dryness in his throat before looking back up at Harry. He waited for a moment, watching as Harry stared at the comforter on the bed before he spoke. "Louis... You know how we've been friends for a really really long time?" He nodded, sitting up straighter and listening, because Harry sounded really unsure right now and he wanted to make sure that he caught everything. "Well, yeah, we've been friends for a really long time, and you know how you're... ya know... gay?" And Louis nodded again, because of course he knew he was gay. Harry was the first person he told two years ago.
"Okay. Um, well. Louis, you're probably the sweetest, most caring and kind person I know. You're also really, really beautiful and amazing. You make me happy, and you make me feel special when we're around each other. And, whenever you laugh I get this weird bubbly feeling in my stomach, and when you cry I feel like the world is coming crumbling down on me, because when you're upset, I get upset, because you're always so happy and joyful. You listening?"
Louis sat there, mouth open slightly, eyes wide, bottom lip trembling, because was he hearing him correctly? Did he really mean all of this? What the actual fuck? "Yeah, I'm listening."
"Okay, well I just want you to know that I really really care about you a lot, and I don't want anything to happen to you, and I just... I love you, Louis. I love you more than I love anything in the world, I love you to the moon and back, I just really really love you." Harry sighed, rubbing his face with his hands and peeking at Louis through his fingers. And Louis sat there, breathless, surprised, because he'd wanted to hear that for so long now, and he'd finally heard what he wanted to hear.
"Harry-" He started, then began laughing, his face breaking out into a full out beaming grin. He covered his mouth with his hands, looking at Harry with wide eyes. "I love you so, so much too." Harry removed his hands from his face, mouth gaping open.
"Seriously?" He laughed, turning so his entire body was facing Louis.
"Y-yeah!" Louis shouted, the room filling with laughter and joy. The atmosphere was so light, so free.
"Like- like more than a friend?" Harry asked, leaning forward and taking Louis' hands in his own. Louis rolled his lips into his mouth, nodding his head, because he loved Harry way, way more than a friend.
He smiled when Harry pulled him in for a hug, wrapping his long arms around his shoulders as Louis held onto him. Louis was still laughing, because this was just unbelievable, and utterly crazy. "I love you so much, Louis." Harry whispered into his ear, kissing his jaw. Louis felt like his heart could've just grown wings and flown out of his chest then, his throat swelling.
"I-I love you too, Harry." He whispered back, shoving his face into his shoulder. He ogled up at Harry, trying to supress the smile on his face, but he couldn't stop it from spreading. Warmth and joy filled his body from where Harry touched him, and everything was nice.
He pressed his forehead against Harry's, eyes fluttered closed, grinning. And then he felt Harry's soft, plump lips against his thin chapped ones, and his heart felt like it could beat out of his chest. Because Harry was actually kissing him, and Louis was kissing him back. The kiss wasn't how he'd imagined, though. It was even better. It was so filled with love and devotion, the feeling more slow and languid, like the waves crashing onto the sand at the beach, or the rain pitter-pattering onto the ground. It was sweet, and calm.
And for the first time in forever, Louis was happy.