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i'm still learning to love

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“I think we can settle in here, yeah?” Louis puts on a smile as he faces the small apartment they’d just rented. Much smaller than what they got kicked out from hours ago, but contentment is there. They’re not really in the place to choose right now.


He looks back at his little siblings. They look tired and sleepy. Granted, they got kicked out at like nine in the goddamn evening without any warning whatsoever, and the girls (and boy) should be sleeping right now.


“Alright, alright. You all can unpack tomorrow after school. You look like zombies, reincarnated twice.” Louis says, patting his siblings on the head each before he watches them find their way to the new place. It isn’t that big to explore. It has one bedroom, a kitchen, a couch, a table, a bathroom, and a small telly.


Soon, he’s got his siblings on the bed, squeezing at the very little space they’ve got. From Lottie, to Fizzy, to Daisy, to Ernie, to Doris, and to Phoebe. Louis and his mother would have to sleep on the floor.


Which.. Louis finds a little broom and sweeps the floor silently. Only then, he lays out a comforter which desperately needs all the washing in the world. He lays out the two pillows and deems it comfortable before leaving the room to check the other rooms.


Okay so, the bathroom light keeps flickering that it actually gets annoying. Louis reminds himself to buy a ne light bulb. In the kitchen, almost every hinge of every thing creaks and Louis already hates it. He hates everything. It’s dirty. It’s unhealthy. It’s small. It’s.. It’s not anything Louis had expected his new home to be.


They’ve always lived a poor life ever since his dickhead father walked out on them – found some better body to fuck so he ran, leaving all seven children to his wife who’s spent day and night working for money. She never stops working, and all the money she’s earned all seem to fade at the end of the day because of the obvious reasons.


Louis helps. Of course he does. He’s been working like hell ever since he graduated high school. Though, bad things tend to happen in every aspect of his life. He never got to finish college. It was understandable – they were financially unstable. Louis had to give up his dreams of being an actor to work on various shitty jobs like a waiter in this posh yet fake restaurant, an employee of a car wash where he holds this giant piece of cardboard to point where the actual car wash is, a delivery boy where he may or may not snacked off a piece of ham from a pizza, and like.. more. They’re too stupid to count.


Louis has stayed up until he hears the door creak open. He knew it’s his mother, having called her before finding this shitty apartment. The day ended in a bad way, and it became even worse when his mother shortly bursts into tears, right at the doorway.


“Mum.” Louis goes to her, hugging her and shutting the door behind her and making sure to lock it.

“I’m sorry.” Jay says.


“Not your fault, Mum.” Louis assures her, rubbing her back. He tells her that almost every time, “The girls are sleeping, and uh.. I should be going job hunting tomorrow.”


Jay looks up, looking worried, “You got fired?”


He’s working at this gas station at the moment, and it’s literally a pain in the arse. And legs, because he has to walk miles before he actually gets there. Or maybe he’s just being a little dramatic.


“No, no.” Louis shakes his head, “Something to raise up the earn, y’know? We need it more than ever.”


Jay tears up again. Louis knows how she’s probably feeling –guilty, regretful, because she’s said it before, that they deserve better than everything they’ve been through. No one deserves it, but it can’t really be avoided, either.


“Oh, boo.” She cries all over again, and Louis rubs her back until they sleep on their little bed until the sun rises the next morning.


When Louis wakes up, his mum is replaced with a note that says Goodluck w/ ur job hunting. Send girls to school safely, gotta work late. Love you all xx


Louis does. He watches his sisters walk to their school, and he turns back to his two siblings who are too still too young to be in school. Louis groans inwardly. He can’t possibly bring the twins to his job hunting. It might get him all day searching for a bloody job.


“What am I gonna do with you two?” Louis says, sighing. He’s ready to buckle them in, possibly use a freaking leash tied to his belt all day. He might even land on a job because of their googly eyes.


“LouLou.” Doris coos.


“Yeah, I know.” Louis accepts her hug. He really can’t leave them.


Louis walks with the twins down to the owner’s room, and he knocks, biting his lip as he looks down at the twins. The owner swings the door open, raising an eyebrow and looking back and forth between them three.


Okay, plan B.


“Uh..” Louis clears his throat, “We just moved in yesterday, and I was wondering if.. there’s a um.. like a daycare.. or some place for kids around here where I can leave them?” He looks at her in anticipation.


“Don’t you have financial problems, boy?” She asks, and her face twists into something of pity, “I had a talk to your mother.”


“Uh.. yeah.” Louis says, nervousness evident, “If you can just give me the directions—“


“You can leave them here with me.” She says, shrugging, “I won’t charge you for it.”


Louis practically chokes on his spit, “W-What?”


“You can leave them here.” She repeats, “They’ll be fed and they’ll be safe, I promise.”


“Are you sure?” Louis asks, his hold on the twins tightening a little bit, ‘I-I mean, it wouldn’t be a bother?”


“Oh hush, darling.” She gives him a smile and bats a hand in the air, “Just come by here whenever, okay?”


Louis’ still in shock, jaw practically unhinged but he nods, pulling Doris and Ernest in front of him and kneeling, “You two, be good, alright? I’ll be back before you even know I’m gone.” He kisses their heads before Mrs. Malton guides them inside.


“Thank you so much, Mrs. Malton.” Louis says, “I promise to return any favor. Thank you.”


“It’s nothing.” She smiles, “Go on, then. Don’t want to be gone too long.”


“Right, right.” Louis glances over her shoulder give one last visual on the twins before he walks away, sending a quick text about his mum all about the situation. He frowns as it suddenly powers off in the middle of his typing. He slams it on his palm a couple of times. As he walks, his eyes are searching for any possible posters as his hands do the familiar removing of the battery and putting it back. He really needs a new phone. This one’s at least four years old.


He sends the text as soon as his phone continues to work. Reading a few posters on a huge bulletin board in front of a building, Louis purses his lips.

Cashier. Assistant staff. Video Editor. Janitor. Security Guard. Babysitter. Dri—Jesus Christ 25 pounds for a bloody hour?


Louis steps closer, possibly smothering the paper with his face.


Now Hiring! Babysitter £25/hour


For inquiries, call 020 7946 0463


Must be: Male/ female, Above 20s, great with kids


Huh, well. Louis can be those things. He knew having 6 little siblings will do him good some time. Louis takes his phone out and saves the number in his phone, and he proceeds to read other posters in case something as good as that babysitter offer.


He continues his little job hunting, entering buildings and available job fairs. He actually thought he’d land on a personal assistant job, but the time isn’t agreeing with him. He’s got other people to take care of.


He gets home at around late afternoon, and after fetching Doris and Ernie and practically getting on his knees as he thanks Mrs. Malton, he finds himself on the couch with his phone and an old notebook and pen on his lap.


“Okay, thank you. Have a good afternoon.” Louis sighs, hanging up. It’s his fifth call, and he crosses out the encoder job. He scrolls through his phone again, and he stills at the number labeled ‘babysitter’.


He really hopes he gets this one.


He taps his fingers on his knee as he patiently waits for someone to answer. And someone does, after a third ring, “Hello, how may I help you?”


~○~


“Mr. Styles?”


Harry doesn’t look up from his desk computer as he nods curtly with a, “What is it?”


The person enters the office, shutting the door behind him and standing in front of Harry across the large desk filled with papers and reports and crap. Harry looks up, pausing his typing, “Hm?”


“These are the financial reports for the whole week starting last Sunday.”

Jason says with a tight smile, handing Harry a folder with a thick amount of paper. Harry can see himself burying his face – or his life—in those piece of papers.


Harry looks up at his employee for a good couple of seconds, enough for the said employee to squirm a little in his gaze, before Harry dismisses him. His phone rings, then, and he tries not to scream as he fishes it out of his pocket.


His urge to scream is suddenly toned down as he sees his Mum’s number. It has to do something with Jacob. Harry answers, abandoning his work momentarily, “Yeah, mum? Is Jacob—“


“Jacob’s fine. He’s doing a puzzle.” Anne says, and her voice seems hushed, “What time are you going to get home? Y’know I love Jacob, hunny but Robin’s got a sick back lately and—“


“Yeah, yeah, sorry, Mum.” Harry bites down on his lip. He can’t deny the guilt every time he calls his mother or his mother-in-law to babysit Jacob. Even though it really isn’t something to be sorry for, because he can’t trust his son with strangers.


“How’s that babysitting thing going on?” Anne asks. If all of that babysitting thing comes down to shit, Harry can blame her. But, he can’t either.


“Hectic. I’m having Kate handle all the calls.” Harry leans forward to resume his typing, pinning his phone between his shoulder and cheek, “I’m gonna read the applications later, and possibly do the interview like.. maybe after.”


“You sound like you’re hiring someone for the Marketing Officer.” Anne huffs out a laugh through the line.


“I’m hiring my son’s babysitter, which.. is much more important.” Harry says distractedly, “I really need someone good for this, Mum. If it all goes downhill, it’s your fault.” He voices out his thoughts.


“If it doesn’t?”


“Then, you have my praise.” Harry says, “May I speak to him?”


It’s only seconds of murmurs then his son’s voice is right in his ear, “Daddy!”


Harry leans back in his chair, stretching his arms one by one, “Hi, darling.”


“Are you coming home soon?” Jacob asks, voice small. Harry’s lucky he doesn’t get to see those big green eyes, which pretty much why Jacob gets practically everything he’s ever wanted.


“I’m afraid not, bud.” Harry sighs, “But not too late, okay? I’ll be there before you can even say flabbergasted.”


He hears the pout in Jacob’s voice – all pink and whiney, “Flabbergasted.”


“Alright, you got me there. But only because you had days of practice.” Harry teases, lips curling up at the edges.


It’s a few murmurs once again, and Harry’s best guess is that his mum is probably whispering words of comfort to his son. Harry says – cooes, even, “My little love.”


A little sniffle, “Yes, Daddy?”


“I’ll be home before dinner.” Harry says, already mentally cracking his knuckles at the speed he’s about to muster.


“Promise?”


“Promise.” Harry says, “Alright, well, you better let me go, doll. I’ll see you later.”


When Jacob speaks again, he’s much happier, “Love you, Daddy!”


“Love you too, Jakey.”


Harry spends his next hours trying to finish everything – checking the reports, editing the documents, sending emails and much, much more. After making sure his papers are all organized, he finally stands up and stretches his back with a little groan. He grabs his briefcase and makes sure his wallet, phone and keys are with him before he walks out of the office.


Outside, he stands across from Kate, waiting as she hurriedly finishes a call and writing something real quick on her notebook before scrambling to her feet.

Harry asks, “How’s the applications for a babysitter?”


“Um..” She grabs the notebook and flips it on a random page to show it to Harry, “Many have called and I’ve told them to come by here this Wednesday, as you’ve said.”


Harry nods, eyes scanning the columns of names and basic information like phone numbers and addresses. He nods then, handing the notebook back to Kate, “That will be enough. I’ll handle the interviews at morning until lunch. You should know what to do with the my schedule at that time.”


“Yes, sir.” Kate nods.


“Good. Be careful on your way home.” Harry nods and begins to walk out. As expected, his car is out front and he takes the keys as the valet hands them to him with a short greeting.


“Thank you.” Harry says, patting the valet’s shoulder before he climbs in his car. He can’t wait to be home.


Arriving home has got to be the most welcoming thing he’ll ever experience. All he needs is his son’s hugs and kisses and he’ll be good for the rest of the day.


“I’m home!” He says, voice loud and clear as it circles around the house. It’s seconds before Jacob’s appearing from the den, running towards his father. Harry chuckles and drops his briefcase, lifting his boy up in the air.


“How are you, buddy? Hm?” He asks, squeezing Jacob lightly and resting him against his hip as he bends down to grab his briefcase once again.

Anne’s standing there just watching, and Harry walks over to kiss her cheek as greeting, “Hey, mum.”


They walk to the den with Jacob still nuzzling his daddy’s neck. Harry grunts as he sits down on the couch, “Did you eat, love? Or did you wait for Daddy?”


“Waited.” Jacob answers shortly, “I did a puzzle today. And I finished reading the book.”


“Hm, why don’t you tell me over dinner?” Harry makes a move to stand up when Anne speaks, “Harry, I better get going.”


“What? Just stay for dinner.” Harry frowns, still holding on to Jacob as the five year old patiently waits.


Anne waves a hand, “I’ll eat with Robin back at home. Goodnight to you two.”


Harry walks her out, and he makes sure to secure the door and gates before he’s inside, preparing the plates and silverwares as Jacob babbles on and on about that book. Harry has a smile on his face the entire time.


“And then it fit.” When Harry turns back to serve the pork chops and soup, Jacob’s sat in his chair with a confused frown in his face.


Harry chuckles and settles beside him, “Why the long face?”


“One girl should’ve at least fit the shoe besides Cinderella.” Jacob wonders out loud, watching as Harry put a piece of pork on his plate as well as cut it into smaller pieces with a knife.


“I agree.” Harry says, beginning to eat himself, “It’s not that fair, hm? I personally like The Little Mermaid better. What do you think?”


“Can I read that next?” Jacob asks hopefully.


Harry reaches to stroke his hair, “Of course.” They fall into a peaceful silence after that, and Harry can’t help but think about the whole babysitting thing. His son’s approval is as important as his.


“Hey, bud.” Harry opens up a new conversation, “I’ve been thinking...” How is he supposed to say this?


Jacob turns to him, waiting for his daddy to speak. Harry clears his throat, “Your Nana told me that I should get someone to watch over you.”


Almost instantly, Jacob says, “You said Dada watches over me.”


Harry softens, “He does, baby, he does.” He takes a deep breath, “Okay, okay. Let me rephrase that.” He starts over again, choosing his words carefully this time, “Daddy’s been busy with a lot of things lately, especially Nana Anne .”


“A babysitter, then?” Jacob says, then he continues on, “Nana told me about them sometimes. And my classmates also have babysitters. They said they were nice people who take care of babies when daddies and mommies are busy.”


“They are.” Harry rubs a thumb on Jacob’s chin, feeling a bloom of pride for him, “Would you want a babysitter?”


Jacob takes longer than expected, and it honestly makes Harry a little nervous, but Jacob nods eventually, “If they are nice.”


Harry smiles, nodding, “I’ll make sure they are, love. You’re sure?”


Jacob nods again, and Harry takes it.


~○~


“How was it?” Louis asks a fellow applicant, leaning over his chair eagerly, and quite nervously. He’s in this really famous and really big company and Louis can’t help but be fascinated as they get guided to this little waiting area outside a big office.


The girl doesn’t answer him, and she walks past him with the click of her heels. Louis purses his lips. Well, she looks like she’s not fit for a babysitter. Louis looks down at himself, wondering if he is. Skillfully, hell yes, probably. But physically, he’s not quite sure.


He’s wearing a simple navy blue button down shirt and tight jeans and his worn out converse. He would’ve dressed much better, but he can’t really afford better. But come on, it’s a babysitting job.


“Jack Bailey.” The woman says at the slightly ajar door, holding a clipboard. Louis leans to the right, trying to get a glimpse. He sees a man inside, in a fancy suit and—the door shuts.


Louis sighs and pulls out his phone, sending a quick text to Mrs. Malton to check on the twins. That Jack guy lasts for like thirty minutes before he comes out, a frown on his face, like the other applicants had been whenever they come out. It takes more minutes before the lady comes out again, “Louis Tomlinson.”


Louis springs up to his feet, ignoring the stares as he walks to the room, smiling at the woman, “Hi, good morning.”


She smiles back and gestures towards a seat across this big clean desk. Sat down by it is a --.. a really attractive man – curly, lean, pink-lipped, bright-eyed. Woah. And he’s.. okay he’s staring.


“Hi, sir. Good morning.” Louis smiles, offering a hand.


The man shakes it and Louis tries not to shiver as he speaks, “Please sit.”


Louis does, folding his hands on his lap. He’s empty-handed today, mainly because he was told to only bring himself today. The man speaks again and he opens his ears, “So you’re Louis Tomlinson.” He says, hands clasped and elbows resting on the arm rests of his leather seat, “I’m Harry Styles, and.. well, you should know what you’re here for today.”


“A babysitting job, sir.” Louis nods.


Harry nods. Can’t he like.. smile a little bit? “Tell me about yourself.”


“Oh, well..—“ Louis straightens his back, clearing his throat, “I’m twenty-two years old, and I’ve ..” Louis hesitates a little bit, but he’s practiced this last night, “I studied Communication Arts, Theatre, but.. I didn’t get to graduate.” He almost wants to shrink on himself when he says those words, but he’s told not to be ashamed on these kinds of things.


“Why is that?” Harry asks.


“We’ve always been financially unstable, sir, and my mother is a single mother and she had to take care of seven children—“ Louis doesn’t miss the way the man’s eyebrows slightly quirk up at the mention of his siblings, “—so I needed to get a job.”


“Your siblings range from what ages?”


“From three to eighteen, sir.” Louis answers, “Uh.. I have two sets of twins, and the first one are three year olds, and the second pair are thirteen-year-olds. The other two are sixteen and eighteen.”


“Big family.” Harry nods, rubbing his stubbly chin. He opens his mouth to speak but a ring suddenly sounds through the room.


Louis figures it’s an important call Mr. Styles has to take, so he sits back and patiently waits. But Harry doesn’t move a muscle, just expectantly stares at him. And then—“Oh! I’m really sorry.” Louis stands up and fishes his phone out of his pocket.


He answers the call as he starts to walk towards the door, “Hello, Mrs. Malton? This isn’t really a good time right now—“ He steps out of the open door and begins pacing.


“I’m sorry, but Doris has been crying and she’s been asking for you.”


“Okay, okay. Let me hear her.” Louis sighs. It’s seconds when Doris is on the phone, sniffling, “Hi, love.” Louis bites at his nails. He sends an apologetic look towards the woman waiting by the door, “Listen, Lou’s at work right now, darling. But I promise to get you and Ernie as soon as I’m done here, okay?”


“LouLou.” She sniffles.


“Sweetheart.” Louis cooes, “I promise okay? Be good for Mrs. Malton. I’ll be done soon.”


Thankfully, bless her precious heart, Doris finally agrees with him, “Mmkay.”


“Okay, love you. Tell Ernie I love him too.” He hears Doris mutter the words before he hangs up, hurriedly turning his phone on vibrate before he pockets it again.


“I’m really sorry.” Louis says both to the woman and Mr. Styles, “It was an important call—“


“I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but we could hear you from all the way here.” Harry speaks, “I’m guessing it was one of your siblings?”


“My youngest sister, yes. I uh.. I left her at a friend’s with her twin and.. yeah.” Louis gulps.


It’s a minute of silence and Harry looks to be so deep in thought, as if he’s studying his every little bit of Louis’ movement. Louis droves his eyes away and back to his fidgeting thumbs. When Harry speaks again, Louis can die of happiness.


“Saturday, 10am.” Harry says, standing, “Meet me here and I’ll drive you to the house. Please dress appropriately for you’ll be meeting my son.”


“Doe—“ Louis stands as well but his legs feel like jelly, “Did I get the job?”


Harry nods, “Congratulations.” He offers a hand and Louis grins, shaking it with both of his hands, “Your pay should come in weekly.”


“Thank you so much! I promise I-I’ll do great.”


Harry’s lips quirk up at the edges. Just a tiny bit, “You better, Mr. Tomlinson.” He then turns to the woman, “Tell the others to please leave. The interviews are over.”


The woman nods without objection, and then Louis’ being escorted out of the office as Harry leaves as well, walking with such high chin and straight shoulders. Louis squeals and ignores the glares of the others.


~○~


“Thank you, Mrs. Malton!” Louis gleefully says, holding onto Ernest and Doris as he leads them to the stairs. He feels a little too happy that it’s actually weirding himself out. As he unlocks their door and bounds inside, humming to himself as he let the twins wander off, but before they can go, Louis kneels in front of them.


“You,” He boops Doris’ nose, making her giggle, “Are a little lucky charm, and you,” He tickles Ernest’s tummy, and he bats his hands away with a wide smile, “are just as precious.”


It’s a free day for the rest of the day for him. He basically cleans around the house, because a house of eight is bound to get disgusting if left untreated. There’s not much room around the house but there’s quite a lot to clean, especially the bedroom and kitchen. Speaking of kitchen, he had teared a piece of paper from his notebook and wrote down a list of groceries. It’s not much, just more important things like dishwashing soap and a few canned goods.


He’s wiping down the counter when the door swings open. He’s met with his four other siblings, having came home from school. “Hey, guys!” Louis greets, pinning his note on the refrigerator before he goes to the living room, “I have great news!”


“Finally got a rich, old man to hook up with you?” Lottie mocks, a smirk evident on her face as she puts her bag down on the coffee table.


“Close.” Louis teases back, but then chuckles, “But really, I landed on this babysitting job—“


“Wait, you’re gonna work two jobs, too? Like Mum?” Fizzy asks, and there’s concern evident on her face, “Babysitters don’t even get paid well, Lou.”


Louis walks over and sits on the arm of the couch, pulling her closer by the shoulders, “Twenty-five pounds an hour?” He questions, watches as the two eldest of his little sisters quirk an eyebrow, “I wouldn’t think so. “


“Well,” Lottie grins, clapping her hands, “Looks like I’m getting into college!”


Louis snorts, “Low blow, Lots. You know Mum and I won’t let you stop school like I did.”


“I know.” Lottie smiles and she reaches over to mess with his hair before he’s whining and she’s running to their room.


“So,” Fizzy begins, “The parents are probably rich.”


“Yeah, no doubt in that. The dad owns the company I think.” Louis purses his lips, mind flashbacking to that attractive man. He shakes it out of his head almost immediately. He shouldn’t be thinking about a married man like that.


“Then you better dress appropriately!” Fizzy demands lightly, plucking a his navy shirt, “Go out shopping!”


“Shopping?” Louis laughs, “I have good enough clothes, but not enough money, Fiz. I can compromise.”


“Well, as soon as you get your first pay, treat yourself.” She stands up, carrying her bag and shoes in hand before she follows Lottie to their room.


He spends the next days working at that gas station, but there’s really no denying that he’s still so happy about that babysitting job. If he can earn properly, he might even buy his sister new things for their school. The twins mentioned something about a sketchpad, so that’s probably what Louis would buy first.


On Friday, he’s on his break. His boss would give him these sandwiches just because, and Louis would shove it in his bag until the end of the day. He approaches the said boss, fidgeting slightly, “Uh.. Will.”


Will’s reading the newspaper in his small office. Louis clears his throat and steps forward, sliding a resignation letter.


Will raises his eyes from the paper, “Hey mate.” They land on Louis’ letter, “What’s this?” Will asks, folding his newspaper. He’s sounding too serious for Louis’ liking. He has quite the close friendship with Will and they’d joke around whenever.


“I want to resign.” Louis informs him. He cautiously looks at Will’s face, “I found a new job, so..”


“Well, I can’t really do anything about it.” Will stands, then, leaning on his desk after rounding it, “Does it pay well?”


“Really well.” Louis answers.


Will nods, “Just know that I’ll be here, man. I know you’ve been on a rough road for quite a while now.”


Louis feels his heart swell at that. Will is like a big brother to him and they’re real close. He finds himself nodding, “Thank you, for everything.”


“Keep in touch, yeah? I’ll give you your last pay.”


Louis waits, watches as Will rummage through his desk a little more and eventually handing him an envelope. It’s one of Louis’ favors from his boss—to pay him cash instead of a check. It makes things less hassle, and of course, the kind-hearted man understands.


With one last goodbye, Louis turns, discreetly thumbing his notes inside the envelope. He whips back around just as fast, “Will—“


“Take it, Louis. Honestly, I don’t mind.” Will says almost immediately, already knowing Louis’ attitude, “You need it more than I do.”


Louis wills himself not to at least tear up. He becomes real emotional about these things, “Thank you, so much.”


Will smiles, “Alright, now, don’t faint on me.”


Louis goes home clutching his bag to his front, straps wore backwards. He walks and walks like someone’s going to rob him in every step. He makes it home when the sun had set, having worked all morning and afternoon makes him want to just dive straight in bed.


But one, he doesn’t have a bed, and two, he has six younger siblings to tend to. He leaves his bag in the room, on top of their dresser like always. He feeds his siblings, asks about their day, and when it’s time for them to sleep, he creeps out of the mattress and drags his small box from under their bed. He carries it until he’s on the living room with the holy envelope he’s been clinging to most of the day.


He sits, and gets to work. His boss had given him like two hundred fifty pounds, and that’s like sixty per cent higher than his salary have ever been.


A hundred for his siblings and mum, a hundred for a new apartment, and a fifty for emergencies. Louis considers putting at least another ten for his sisters, but he needs to earn more for a new apartment. He can’t stand seeing themselves practically fight for space in here.


Being financially poor is like.. a big pain in the arse, really. But his mum tells him –in the cheesiest way possible—that they’re not really poor, for their rich in each other’s memories and each other’s love.


Which.. it makes Louis shudder every time, but it’s true. He can’t deny that.
“Lou, you’re up.” A voice says from the doorway.


Louis screws the lid of the jars and covers the box again, “Hey, mum.”


“What’s all that?” Jay asks, stepping in and hanging her coat. She looks awfully tired, like she always is.


“Just junk.” Louis stands with the box in his arms, “There’s dinner in the kitchen. It’s gone cold, though.”


“Hm, I’d love a cold dinner.” She says dryly, but with a smile. Louis returns it before he goes down the hall and to their room to slide the box back under the bed. He goes back to the kitchen where Jay’s eating on a bowl, smiling at him when he enters.


“You’ll start babysitting tomorrow, yeah?” She asks.

Louis leans against the doorway, “Yeah. I just hope I won’t screw up. Seems like a tough job already.”


“You’ll do great.” Jay says, then Louis knows that he will. He should.


~○~


Sitting in a luxurious car is a new experience. Definitely a new one. So it’s really a bother for himself that he can’t seem to move a freaking muscle sitting there in the passenger seat while Mr. Styles drives from his building to his supposedly big mansion.


“You’ll work basically most of the day.” Mr. Styles suddenly speaks up over the hum of the engine, “From seven in the morning and six in the afternoon on Saturdays. On weekdays, you’ll be here at around 12 noon when my son comes home from school. On Sundays, you won’t have to work until I call you because normally that’s my bonding day with Jacob. Sometimes, you’ll extend, depends on my schedule for the day. And I’d have occasional business trips, which would require you to stay overnight or longer. Would that be alright?”


The overnight thing catches Louis off-guard, because then he won’t be able to take care of his siblings a whole day, which.. he doesn’t know how to feel about it.


Mr. Styles continues, after the long stretch of silence, “I take business trips rarely.”


Louis’ sold. Well, he has been since he saw that hiring poster. “A-Alright, then.”


Arriving at the Styles’ residence, it’s.. just,-- woah. Can people really afford a house that big? It’s crazy. The gate automatically opens even when Harry doesn’t do absolutely anything, and it closes right after the car is driven in a very much still luxurious garage.


Louis can’t be distracted, though, he has one questions, “Mr. Styles?”


“Call me Harry.” Harry climbs out of the car. Louis follows immediately, practically stumbling. He straightens himself out as he follows Harry from the garage. Harry speaks, “What is it?”


“How many are your children?”


“Only one.” They exit up from the hall which serves as an entrance from the garage, “His name is Jacob, and he’s five. If you’re good, you can get to know him well.”


“Okay, thank you.” Louis says. He knows he can crack a kid. Well, if the said kid is as serious as this dad, then he’ll probably struggle just a tiny bit.


And woah—the den is... well, it’s big. Unnecessarily big. And clean. Louis roams his eyes everywhere. He honestly expects to find like a two dozen maids, a driver, and a pilot, but.. it’s practically empty with people.


“Jacob’s probably in his room.” Harry says, and then he calls out, “Mum?”


“Right here.” A womanly voice says, and as expected a woman pops up from one of the hallways, wiping her hands with a tissue, “I was in the rest room.” She notices Louis and a smile spreads on her face, “You’re the babysitter, yes?”


“I am. Nice to meet you.” Louis offers a hand which is shortly shaken, “I’m Louis.”


“Anne, darling. Harry’s mother.” Anne introduces, “I’m basically the one who egged him to hire a babysitter.”


“I have to thank you, then.” Louis chuckles. He really does.


“Jacob’s upstairs?” Harry asks for confirmation.


Anne nods, “Yes. I just fed him breakfast and he’s probably reading up there.”


“Okay, Louis, follow me.” Harry turns and Louis only has to say a quick goodbye before he’s following Harry in quick strides upstairs.


Harry abruptly stops in front of a room after a quick walk around the upstairs. Really, how big is this thing? Harry knocks, and he opens the door slowly, standing just under the doorframe. Louis stays behind. He can hear Harry saying things to the famous son before the door fully opens.


Louis almost cooes, “Hello there.” He crouches in front of the small child, brunette with light sleepy eyes. He smiles fondly. He looks a lot like his father, but with a little less laugh lines, and frowns, and grumpiness.


The child continues to rub at his eyes, clutching at his little shark before he asks, “Are you gonna be my new Dada?”


Harry stiffens. Before he can say anything, Louis jumps to it, “I’m your babysitter. I’m sure your father told you?”


The kid—which Louis remembers is called Jacob— looks up at Harry and eventually nods, “Countless times.”


“Your father told me little about yourself.” Louis says, tone soft and gentle, “You’re Jacob, yes? And he told me you’re five.”


“I am. What’s your name?”


“I’m Louis.” Louis smiles, “With an S, though. Something to do about the French.”


“I like French fries.” Jacob says. He looks at his father again, silently asking for permission.


A hand strokes at the kid’s hair, “You’ll get your fries when it’s time for your snacks.” Geez, this child is spoiled.


“Okay, daddy.” Jacob flashes Harry a smile. Louis’ the one who swoons.


A few moments of small talk and Harry eventually talks again, “Jake, why don’t you go back to your room? I need to show Louis around real quick before I can go back to the office. From then, he’ll be taking care of you.”


“Okay.” Jacob says obediently. Surprisingly, he turns to Louis, “Bye, Louis.”
Louis waves his fingers, “Bye!”


The door’s closed, and once again Harry’s walking past him, probably to start the tour of the house. It’ll probably last for the rest of the day, but Harry makes it to fifteen minutes. Louis’ sure he’s ran a marathon from all the sprinting. He’s got shorter legs, alright? It’s not exactly a thing to brag.


“Did you get all that?” Harry asks, not even fazed.


“Yes, sir.” Louis nods.


“Harry.” Harry corrects with pursed lips, “My mum’s gonna stay for the rest of the day. She’s just gonna teach how it goes around the house for Jacob. You know how to cook?”


Louis nods again, “I’ll cook him french fries at uh.. snack time.” Whichever that time is.


“Don’t spoil him too much. Make sure he earns it.” Harry says, fiddling with his wristwatch, “He got the fries because he got an A on his previous quiz in school.”


“Noted.” Okay, so maybe the boy’s not too spoiled.


“And whenever—“ Harry gets cut off by his phone. He checks it for a few seconds, seems to read a text before he distractedly continues, “My mum will tell you the rest. I’ve gotta go.” He doesn’t say anything more, just goes back to the garage and disappears.


“Oh, that boy.” Anne emerges from the den. And oh, Louis’ still standing in that hallway. He looks at Anne and offers her a smile. The lady smiles back, “So, what made Harry hire you?”


On the den, there’s two cups of tea on the coffee table. Louis occasionally has tea, more of a coffee guy because of these late nights, and he doesn’t really need tea, “I guess it’s because I have six siblings. That’s what got him hooked, I guess.”


“And are you good with kids?”


“I like to think so.” Louis smiles, “My siblings tell me I’m a great big brother, so.. I have a right to brag at least about that.” He laughs, blowing lightly on his heated drink.


“Well, six siblings sounds like a hard work. How about your parents?”


Louis gulps a little, “U-Uh.. my mum’s a single mother so she really needs a little boost on the savings and money.”


Anne, thankfully, doesn’t push on it further, “Well, I think you’ll do great. Jacob isn’t a difficult kid.”


“How’s he?”


“Quiet, mostly.” Anne says, and there’s a fond smile sitting on her lips, “Only heard him talk a mile with his father. He’s a wonderful baby, smart, just like Harry.”


Louis can’t help but smile, “He’s been raised wonderfully, I bet.” There’s a question itching on his tongue, but he’s not one to pry. Where’s his mother? Or, in any other cases, a father?


After minutes of chatting, their cuppas have been emptied and Anne stands from the couch, saying her goodbye. Before any of it, though, she gives Louis Harry’s office number, and Louis didn’t have the heart to tell her that he already got it. As he walks her to the door, Anne teaches him how to work the very tech security system around the house. Louis catches on with it quickly. He just hopes he doesn’t screw it up.


“Alright, I’m gonna text Harry to tell him I’m leaving. Please take care of Jacob.” Anne touches her arm before turning, hopping on her car.
Turning around, Louis is once again overwhelmed.


~○~


French fries are good, properly salted, awkwardly plated, and with this basic mix of ketchup and mayonnaise as a dip on the side—because he’s not one to sprinkle the dip around.


He brings the fries with mango juice he found in the fridge. He puts them in a tray, and he turns around and almost has a heart attack, “Oh Go—“ He splutters, stilling and gripping the tray much tighter, “Hi, buddy!”


Jacob’s standing there, accompanied with his shark and a few thin books pinned to his side with his arm. He’s also carrying this rectangular box which looks like puzzles, “What’s that?”


“Oh, it’s your fries, babe. Come on, let’s get settled on the den.” Louis walks past him and remembers when the den is. He puts the snack on the coffee table while Jacob puts down his toys in front of it.


Louis walks over to the telly and sees loads and loads of movies categorized beside it. From horror at the very top, followed by action, followed by romance followed by kid movies. Louis hums, “Do you want to watch a movie?”


Jacob’s attention is caught, and he gets up to follow Louis, eyes trailing up on the rows of movies, “Little Mermaid?”


“Hm, good choice.” Louis crouches to the bottom shelf and searches. Soon, he’s clutching the movie. He crouches back down to work on the DVD player. He’s never owned one, in his life. So that time he worked on an appliance store is paid off.


Or not, because Jacob asks, “May I?”


“Sure.” Louis smiles and hands him the CD. Really, who even uses CD anymore? Louis knows that there’s Netflix and stuff, or every kind of stuff online. He’s not protesting, though. It’s good that this kid’s not too much consumed by technology.


Soon, Louis has joined Jacob on the floor. Has Louis mentioned that there are beanbags, too? Well, it’s the best thing ever. Glancing at the kid, he’s completely abandoned his toys to put his attention on the movie. He seems to really like it.


Louis, himself, didn’t want to disturb the little guy so he sits back as well. He knows this movie like by heart, because he used to watch it as a child before everything went to shit. It’s a bit rusty, but he remembers.


“Do you want fries?” A shy voice asks him, and he looks over and sees Jacob reaching his bowl out with both hands.


“It’s yours, babe.” Louis smiles, “Thank you, though.”


“I can’t finish this all, though.” Jacob says. He looks a little worried, “Daddy says I should never waste food because there are other people who starve and it’s not fair for them.”


Again, Louis’ amazed how kind-hearted this boy is. He can’t help the fond smile that stretches his lips, “Alright, if you insist.”


After the movie, it’s already five. He remembers Harry telling him that his day ends at six, so it’ll only be a little time before Harry’s here. Jacob’s eventually acknowledged his puzzles and Louis’ down with him. He’s not doing much, because this kid can totally do it himself.


Mentally, though, he’s counting his check. Only because he got curious. He’s gonna work for like.. eleven hours a day on weekends, and half of that during weekdays. which is kind of a lot, so yes. By the end of the week, he’ll probably be a rich man.


“Louis?” Jacob asks, sitting back on his bum as he eyes Louis curiously.
“Hm?”


“I like you.” Jacob says, “Because you play with me a lot.”


Louis feels a small tug at his heart, “Well, you’re fun to play with. I rarely get to play with my siblings because they’re always at school. They’re gone for most of the day.”


“Oh. You’re alone, then?”


“Not really, I have little sisters and a brother. The youngest ones.. they’re named Doris and Ernest.” Louis pulls out his phone and begins to scroll through his many pictures. He then scoots over to Jacob’s place and shows him the picture, “See?”


“They’re younger than me?” Jacob asks, quite fascinated.


Louis nods, taking his phone back as Jacob hands it back to him, “They’re only three.”


“Where are they, then?”


“I left them at home with my sisters.” Louis answers, “And during weekdays, I leave them at a friend’s so she can watch them.”


Jacob looks to be deep in though, eyebrows knotted together, “You let other people babysit them while you babysit others?”


Louis lets out a surprised chuckle, “Yeah, pretty much.”

 

“Then why don’t you bring them here?”


“Oh, well, I don’t think your daddy would like that.” Louis tells him gently, “Plus, they can be kind of a ruckus.” He chuckles.


“My daddy doesn’t allow that much visitors.” Jacob tells him, tone low and quiet that Louis almost missed it, “Sometimes I want to stay at school so I can continue playing with my friends.”


“Hm,” Louis purses his lips, “Have you ever asked him if you can, though?”
“He doesn’t want to.”


“Well, I’m here now.” Louis grins, reaching forward to ruffle the kid’s hair, “We can play as much as you want. Maybe I can convince your daddy to take you out, hm?”


A door is heard shutting from the foyer, and Jacob perks up. Louis watches as his face lights up as Harry calls, “I’m home!”


“Daddy!” Jacob stands and runs off.


Louis chuckles to himself and pushes himself to his feet, awaiting for both of them to pop back out. When they do, Harry’s got Jacob in his arms and he’s got a light smile on his face. Smiling suits him.


After the greetings, Harry puts Jacob down, “Did you have fun, bud?”


“I like Louis.” Jacob says decidedly, flashing a smile at Louis’ direction. It made Louis swoon, again.


Harry nods. His smile deflates to something serious when he glances at Louis, “That’s good. Why don’t you clean up your toys and then you can help me cook, hm?”


Jacob nods, and the two older men watch as he puts his puzzles back into box, carrying his shark, his puzzles and books. Soon, he’s waddling as he climbs the stairs, trying to balance everything in his hands.


“Good job today.” Harry says, fiddling with his cuff links.

 

“Thank you, Harry.” Louis smiles, the name rolling off his tongue.


“Monday, noon.” Harry reminds just as Jacob jogs down the stairs. Harry turns to warn his son, “Careful, love.”


Jacob, standing in front of Harry, beams at him, “I have strong legs, Daddy.”


Louis can’t help the chuckle that escapes him. Harry ignores him and cooes at Jacob, “I know you do.” Looking at Louis, he raises an eyebrow, “Louis.”


Louis nods, “I’ll see myself out.” He then bends down until he’s eye level with Jacob, “I’m gonna see you tomorrow, and maybe we can play some footie.” He glances at the curly man for a quiet confirmation.


“Daddy, can I?” Jacob asks, bouncing on his feet.


Harry smiles, “Of course you can, bud.”


Jacob’s still smiling as he looks back at Louis, “See you tomorrow, Louis.”


Louis grins and ruffles his hair, “You too, Jacob.”


He’s walked out by both Harry and Jacob, and before the gates could fully close he gives one last wave.


~○~


“Jake.” Harry lowers the heat and puts the lid on, wiping his hands on his apron before he moves to where his son is grating cheese, “I think that’s enough. Now,” Harry begins, taking the grater from his son and putting it aside, “You take a chunk of cheese,” He demonstrates, smiling at how intent Jacob is listening, “And you put them in here.” Harry says as he carefully pushes some of the cheese inside a cut he made on the side of the chicken.


“Got it?” Harry raises a thumb.


Jacob nods, grinning as he gives one back.


Harry kisses his temple. It takes them an hour to finish cooking, and they leave the kitchen to eat in the dining room. Harry watches as Jacob takes the first bite, “It tastes great, Daddy!”


“Really now? It’s like whenever you cook with me, it always ends up delicious.” Harry chuckles. He leans over and blows a raspberry on Jacob’s cheek, causing him to giggle.


“So, tell me about your day.” Harry says. He’s been itching to ask it. He needs to make sure Jacob’s safe with the babysitter. From the looks of it, there’s a slim chance that Jacob’s harmed. He actually looks happy, but of course, Harry will need to check the camera around later.


“Um.. he cooked me fries.” Jacob begins, “And later he watched The Little Mermaid.”


Harry raises an eyebrow, “I thought you wanted to read it.”


“I didn’t want him to be bored.”


Harry chuckles. It’s true, it does get boring in here sometimes, “Hm, and then?”


“He helped me complete my puzzles!” Jacob says gleefully, “And he has many little siblings.”


“I heard they’re six.” And they’re mainly why he hired Louis.


“He showed me what they look like! They’re named.. Doris and uh..” Jacob racked his mind a little bit, “And Ernest! They’re the youngest. He said that they’re at his friend’s because he couldn’t watch them. And..” Jacob suddenly gets shy, pausing at his eating.


“And?”


“And I asked why he can’t bring them here.” Jacob says, peeking at his daddy at the corner of his eye, “He told me you wouldn’t like it.”


Harry doesn’t know what to say, mostly because he can’t let random people in and out of here. And he can’t risk Louis abusing that. Okay, he doesn’t mean to sound heartless, “Would you want him to bring them here?”


Jacob looks surprised, and he becomes a hundred times timid, “Um.. if you want to.”


“But I asked if you would want to, love.” Harry says.


“I.. I wouldn’t mind playmates...” Jacob fiddles with his little thumbs.


“Let’s see..” Harry begins to ponder, “Louis can bring them here once a week. How’s that sound?” In his every word, he can see how Jacob’s face seem to lit up.


“Really, daddy?!” Jacob asks, eyes so bright and green.


“Of course.” Harry smiles. He’s happy to see his son like this, “Just make sure to tell me when something goes wrong, alright?”


Jacob nods, his fringe bouncing, “Promise.”


“Good.” Harry strokes his hair affectionately, “Now, finish your dinner.”


Hours later, Harry’s in his bed, wide awake and staring at the ceiling and an arm stretched tucked under his head, “You should’ve seen his face when I agreed to him having playmates.” He says, voice low and hushed, “I guess he likes the babysitter idea. I have to give up half of my pride to my mum because of that.” He purses his lips, thinking of what the hell he should say, “Oh, uh.. we’re opening up a new branch somewhere in Manchester, so that’s good, too. I know you’re proud of me.” He whispers the last part, “Always have been.” He sighs, rubbing at his eyes, “I’m really tired.” He pauses, “Goodnight, Carter.” And he could almost hear it back. Almost.


He rolls over then, tucking his head under his pillow and dozing off.

 

“Daddy?”


Harry blinks and pulls the pillow off his head. He looks at where his son standing by the doorway, clutching his little shark, “Hey, buddy.”


“I can’t sleep.” Jacob says, shyly shifting on his feet.


Harry smiles sleepily and lifts an arm, “Come here, love.”


Jacob closes the door and happily climbing up the bed and into his daddy’s arms, “Love you, daddy.”


“Love you, too, baby.” Harry places a kiss on his son’s head and falls back asleep.


~○~


“Jake.” Harry calls distractedly, “Time for fruits, come on.”Jacob looks up at him, holding a cereal box to his chest before he reaches up to drop it in the cart. He then continues to walk in front of Harry, occasionally looking back to see if his daddy is still there following him.


Once in the fruits section, Harry stays at the side, watching as Jacob scans the rows of fruits. The five-year-old stops at the pink fruits – the dragon fruit more specifically. He points a it, seeking his father’s approval. Harry smiles and nods. Soon, Jacob is toddling over, holding the fruit with both hands. He gently dumps it in the cart, and Harry strokes his hair affectionately.


“Vegetable?” Jacob asks before Harry can even mention it.


“You betcha.” Harry says, wheeling the cart over to the nearby vegetable section. He picks out a few, a meal for dinner and the day after already forming in his mind.


“What do I get?” Jacob asks. He’s grasping the edge of the cart and bouncing up and down on his feet, seeming very excited.


Harry chuckles, “Grab me some cabbage and carrots, love. Be careful, alright?”


And he watches as Jacob independently roam around the section to grab the right vegetables. It’s like a daily ritual for these two every time they go grocery shopping. It takes two minutes for Jacob to hug the ordered vegetables to his chest, cradling them carefully and he’s on his way back to the cart when a woman approaches him.


Harry’s immediately walking there, getting there in no time and grabbing the vegetables from Jacob to dump them on the cart, “Brenda, hi.” He steps closer to kiss her cheek as a greeting and she responds with a tight smile.


Harry clears his throat and looks down on Jacob, rubbing a hand over the child’s back, “Love, say hello to your grandma.”


Jacob takes Harry’s large hand and grips it, “H-Hi, grandma.”


“Why, hello, darling.” Brenda says, “What were you doing with those vegetables, hm?”


Jacob doesn’t seem intimidated for a second as he answers, “I was going to bring them to Daddy!”


“Hm.” Brenda says almost dismissively. She stares at Harry with those brown eyes but just as icy as blue ones are, “Ordering your child to do your chores for you?”


“No, Brenda.” Harry says, as politely as he can, “It’s our tradition, and he needs to learn independence from time to time.”


Brenda nods, “I’m sure.” An awkward silence follows, the three of them standing in the middle of the vegetables section with much tension dripping off them. Harry’s still mildly aware of the grip Jacob has on his hand, and he wants to sigh heavily in relief once Brenda smiles and says, “Well, I better get going now.” She doesn’t say anything more, doesn’t even five a glance towards her grandson standing there before she turns and walks away.


Harry then hears a whimper, “Daddy.” He kneels down in front of Jacob, rubbing on his arms as the child brings his little fists up to his face. He absolutely breaks as he hears the sob from Jacob. His son isn’t a crier, rarely cries, but when he does, he does it so quietly.


“I’m sorry, baby. I didn’t know she was going to be here.” Harry says, raising a hand to stroke at Jacob’s hair softly. If there’s one thing that gets Jacob to tears, it’s seeing his grandmother, Brenda. Harry knows what he feels, being constantly reminded that he’s not accepted into this world even though those reminders aren’t verbal.


“I don’t like her.” Jacob sniffles, still covering his eyes with his little fists.


“Oh, love.” Harry hugs him close, a hand on his back and rubbing up and down. They were receiving pitiful stares from the fellow customers, so Harry carries Jacob in one arm, letting his son hug his neck while he pushes the cart to the nearest cashier with one hand.


Arriving at home, Jacob races to his room and shuts it. Harry sighs, deciding to give his son some space before barging in. He busies himself with the groceries instead, putting them away in the right cupboards. Soon, it was all gone and he shoves the plastic bags into the bottom along with the others.


A cheese toast will sure bring his son’s spirits up.


He gets to work, making sure it’s only the right amount of cheese before pouring a glass of orange juice. He carries it all the way to Jacob’s room, coming face to face with the closed door, “Jakey, babe.”


The door creaks open slowly, revealing Jacob with red, puffy eyes and his nose having the resemblance. Harry walks in and places the snack on Jacob’s nightstand. He takes a second to admire the picture of him and Jacob on a frame.


“Jacob.” He begins, frowning slightly in curiosity, “Where did you put your Dada’s picture?” He looks toward his son and he softens immediately, feels his chest constrict painfully.


Jacob’s clutching his father’s frame against his chest. Harry must’ve not noticed it when he came in. Harry sighs and he forces a smile, even though it’s absolutely saddening, “Come here, love.”


Once Jacob is perched on one of his thighs, Harry presses a kiss on his temple, “Tell me what you’re thinking about, Jake.”


Jacob sniffles. He’s calmed down a bit from his sob earlier, but Harry can feel the sadness still radiating off him and that. That simply won’t do.


“Grandma Brenda is always mad at me.” Jacob presses his lips in a tight line. He’s pulled the picture away from him and simply staring down at it, “A-And.. she always says that it’s my fault why.. why Dada’s gone.”


Harry closes his eyes, nuzzling his son’s hair. It takes him his all not to at least tear up, because he’s the father. He’s supposed to be strong for Jacob, “You know it’s not, sweetheart. You were a tiny little thing, did you know that? So tiny and harmless. How could you do such a thing?”


Jacob doesn’t answer.


“You’re the best boy.” Harry promises, and it’s the truth, “And I will protect you from anything in this world.”


Jacob sniffles again and turns a little to hug Harry, “I love you, Daddy.” He then pulls back, hugging the frame close to his chest, “And I love Dada.”


Harry kisses his head again, “Love you, too, doll.”


~○~


“Louis!” is Jacob’s greeting as soon as Louis walks through the front door of the Styles’ home. The little kid is still wearing his uniform from school, neck tie undone and it seems like he raced down the stairs when he heard the front door.


“Why, hello there!” Louis chuckles, ruffling Jacob’s hair, “Did you have lunch yet?”


Jacob nods, “Ate a sandwich and salad in school.”


“Hm..” Louis slides off his bag and walks with Jacob to the den, “How was school, then?” Jacob opens his mouth to speak but Louis cuts him off, “Before that!” He exclaims, “Get dressed first.” He laughs when Jacob pouts and walk back to his room.


Bringing out his phone, he begins to type out a text for Harry, Mr. Styles, I just arrived at your house. I’m gonna see if Jacob has any homework that should be done and we’ll see if we can play some footie after. He’s been instructed to send updates to the man as much as possible.


He pockets his phone and simply waits for Jacob. Soon, the kid climbs down the stairs looking fresh, fringe falling into his eyes before he pushes it back, looking a lot like his father.


“Looking good!” Louis compliments, offering a fist bump to where Jacob accepts happily, “Now, I told your Daddy we should do homework first.”


Jacob pouts, “But I just got home from school! And you promised me footie.” He points at the abandoned football Louis had brought on the corner of the couch.


“I did.” Louis chuckles, “But don’t you want to finish your homework first? So that later, we won’t have to worry any of it when we’re playing footie. You wouldn’t want to cut our play short, no?”


Jacob pouts further but he eventually nods, “Okay.” He plops down beside Louis and tugs his bag on his lap, bringing out a book, a notebook and his fat pencil case.


“Good boy.” Louis praises, “Now, what’s your homework?”


Jacob flips the book into a certain and pats it. Louis leans in to read while Jacob explains, “We write in cursive.”


“Ooh.” Louis smiles, seeing three rows with the dotted lines which are formed to a letter, and another three rows which are blank, “Is this all?”


Jacob nods, bringing out his pencil. Even his pencil looks expensive.


“If you can finish it in under thirty minutes, we can take a nap so we can be energized for footie!” Louis offers, “Don’t wanna be all slouchy slouchy during a play now, can we?”


Jacob giggles at the word, surprisingly agreeing to the man, “No.”


True to his word, Jacob finishes in fifteen minutes, showing Louis his work from where the man is scanning his other books, completely interested.

Louis smiles, “I’m so proud of you! That looks better than my own handwriting.” He says, meaning it. He’s pretty sure his handwriting would look like he was writing on a bloody rollercoaster.


“Thank you.” Jacob giggles, “Nap now?”


Louis glances at the wall clock, seeing it’s only one thirty in the afternoon. It’s too sunny to be out back, “You can do whatever you want, just sneak a nap in. We’re going to head out at around three. Is that alright?”


Jacob nods, “Uh.. I think I’m gonna get my coloring books.” He doesn’t for Louis to say anything, just puts his books back to his bag before carrying it up the stairs to retrieve his things.


They spend the remaining one and a half hour just sitting around the den with the telly on. They have some footie on, and every once in a while, Jacob would raise his head to ask questions about it and Louis, having loved footie all his life, tattles on and on. The clock hits three and Jacob has sprawled on the couch clutching his shark, napping for thirty minutes. That should be enough.


“Buddy.” Louis whispers, rubbing his hand up and down Jacob’s back, “Sport, we have footie to play, remember?”


Jacob stirs, stretching much like a puppy before he sits up with a wide smile. Louis chuckles, “You should have some proper shoes, yeah? And shorts.” Louis pokes at the pajamas the boy is wearing.


To his surprise, Jacob stands and takes Louis’ hand, “Will you come with me? I have a lot of shoes.”


Louis chuckles, “Go on. Lead me to your room.”


The kid’s room is possibly bigger than his livingroom back in his apartment, and he tries not to drop his jaw at all the toys he has. Mostly it was books and puzzles, and that just proves hoe smart Jacob can really be.


“This one?” Jacob pulls some black shorts from his drawer. It’s loose and Louis figures he can move around there. He nods, “Yeah, that’s good.”


Louis stays standing in the middle of the room, hands inside his pockets. The room is of a violet color, an ombre actually. It’s goes from dark on the bottom to a lighter shade as it reaches the ceiling. A bed is pushed to the wall in the middle with like half a dozen pillows. There’s a shelf across from it filled with Jacob’s wonderful collection of books and puzzles and even board games. Beside it is a little toy chest, which Louis figures is filled with actual toys. There’s a single window on the right framed with thick yellow curtains and beside it Jacob’s closet, where he’s standing right now. The whole floor’s carpeted beige and well, it’s downright pretty.


His thought is cut off with Jacob’s giggle, “Louis!”


Louis blinks, “Uh, what?” He says dumbly.


“I was calling you but you were too busy looking at my room.” Jacob giggles again, waving a pair of white shoes in front of him.


“Sorry. Your room looks much nicer than my home, though. I give you that.” Louis chuckles, sitting at the end of the bed, “Yeah, that’s good.”


As Jacob gets dressed, Louis takes a look at his bed, but then he notices the picture frames sitting on Jacob’s nightstand. One is of him and Harry. It looks like a candid moment, and it looks like from a few years back. Harry’s sat on the floor on a colorful kiddie blanket, looking rather casual with his pajamas and gray shirt. A baby Jacob, Louis assumes at one year old, is standing on his own two feet, hands braced against Harry’s shoulders. Harry’s got a wide smile on his face, and it looks foreign to him.


The other one is of a man, sitting on a hospital bed sporting big baby bump. It looks like a candid moment as well, and Louis guesses that Harry took it. The man is sleeping, head lolled to the side slightly and his hands cradling his belly. The man is blond , light skinned and looks absolutely gorgeous. He and Harry make a great couple.


Louis looks back at Jacob, who’s taking his time tying his shoe lace while the other one is already done. When he stands back up, he grins, “Done!”


“Bravo! Come on.” Louis takes Jacob’s hand and leads them out the door. The backdoor is through the kitchen, and while Louis lets Jacob outside with the football, he takes water bottles from the fridge before going out himself.


“Alright.” Louis chuckles, putting the bottles down on the back porch before he steps on the grass. He’s in his jeans and converse, which isn’t at all the appropriate attire but he had somehow managed to forgot to bring some shorts, but these will do.


“How about we do stretches first.” Louis chuckles, clapping a gentle hand behind Jacob before he does a few simple stretches with Jacob following. Once they finish with ten jumping jacks, Louis bends over and asks, “Y’alright?”


“Yes.” Jacob says, smiling up at him.


“Oh, no. I want you to answer like this.” Louis clears his throat, “Yeah!” He loudly exclaims, energy dripping from his voice itself, “Got it?” He raises a knowing eyebrow.


Jacob makes a show of clearing throat before he exclaims, “Yeah!” with a little fist pump.


“Alright!” Louis grabs the ball and kneels in front of Jacob with a reasonable distance between them, “Have you played footie before, Jake?”

The nickname slips out of his mouth.


“No.” Jacob says.


“That’s alright.” Louis reassures, “Now,” He goes down on one knee, placing the ball on the ground, “We’ll do the basics for now. What do we use when playing football?”


“Feet!” Jacob answers, giggling.


“Good! So no hands.” Louis wiggles his fingers, “See if you can catch this with your foot, okay?” He then rolls the ball towards Jacob. He sees the child’s determination.. as well as his clumsy legs as he tried to at least place one of his foot on top of the ball. The ball rolls off from under his foot and Jacob slips a little, landing on a knee.


“Jacob!” Louis jogs over, “Let me—“


“I’m fine.” Jacob laughs, getting up and simply brushing his dirty knee before bouncing again, “Ball!”


“Hm.” Louis looks for it, and sees it a few meters away from them, “Let’s see if you can roll the ball from there to here, yeah?”


Jacob nods eagerly, running to the ball as fast as his little legs can take him. Once behind the ball, he kicks it, making the ball roll forward just a tad. Louis calls out, “Take your time!”


Soon, the ball gets to Louis’ feet as well as a beaming Jacob. Louis reaches a hand to ruffle his hair, “You have great potential in you, sport.”


They spend the rest of the afternoon out in the backyard. Eventually, though, Louis has grown tired from running all around before he collapses on the ground on his bum, leaning back against his hands.


“Tired already?” Jacob asks, pouting. He’s a bit sweaty himself, but boy, this kid can run a marathon like.. six times.


“We’ve been playing for hours.” Louis retaliates, “You do have strong legs, buddy.”


“I know!” Jacob says, confidently. He suddenly looks over behind Louis and exclaims, “Daddy!”


Louis mentally groans, not wanting to stand up yet, but he does. He ignores the strain in his legs as he stands and pats off the grass from his jeans. He sees Harry on the patio, hugging Jacob close. He pulls back with a wrinkled nose, “You’re all smelly, Jake. Why don’t you take a bath, yes? I’ll have to run you a bath.”


“Daddy, I can do it!” Jacob says independently.


“Hm, the last time you had water all over the floor.” Harry says, leaving no room for arguments, “I’m gonna do it fast. By then you should go say to goodbye to Louis for now.” He sends Louis a look and a nod of his head as a greeting. Louis returns it with a small smile.


“But..” Jacob pouts, however, “Can’t he stay for dinner?”


“Jacob.” Louis says, standing behind Jacob and rubbing at his back, “We’ll still see each other tomorrow, yeah? We’ll have plenty of time.”


“And Louis will be busy, still.” Harry adds on, “He has other siblings to take of, right?”


Jacob turns shy, looking down on the ground and nodding, “Yes.”


Harry seems troubled, judging by the frown on his face, but then it softens as he sighs. “Tomorrow, he can join us for dinner.” He looks up at Louis, “Right, Louis?”


“R-Right, yeah.” Louis stammers. He acknowledges Jacob, “See, Jake? I’ll stay for dinner tomorrow, so get your smile back up. Daddy doesn’t want to see you sad.”


Jacob releases a giggle and hugs Harry, “Thank you, Daddy.”


“You’re welcome, love bug. But you have a bath to get to, right? Wait for me in the bathroom.” Harry pats his little bottom before the child is off, darting off inside after giving Louis’ thighs a quick hug.


Louis follows Harry inside and back to the kitchen, shutting the door behind him, “I should go now, sir.”


“Harry.” Harry pockets his hands in his slacks, “Thanks for playing with him today.” He then looks towards the stairs where Jacob ran off, “Someone has yet to play with him like... not just educationally. Haven’t seen him all hyped up like that.”


“It’s nothing.” Louis smiles, mostly remembering how he had so much fun with babysitting Jacob, “He’s a great kid, not at all scared to try new things.”


“Yeah.” Harry nods, “He actually spoke to me.” He looks at Louis, eyebrows etched into a small frown. It’s probably a rarity to see them spread out calmly, “He said he wanted you to bring your little siblings. Doris and...?”


“Doris and Ernest?” Louis asks, head tipping to the side in questioning, “He wants me to bring them here?”


“He said he’d want playmates.” Harry informs, “And I told him you could bring them here once a week, help him socialize more and that.”


“Is.. Is that really alright, sir?”


“Harry.” Harry corrects again, “And yes. It is.”


“O-Okay.” Louis nods, still grasping the idea. He doesn’t know what to feel about it, “I’ll see what I can do. Thank you, though.”


Harry nods, “Just give me a heads up on the day before.” At Louis’ nod, he walks to the door with Louis following behind, “Thank you for today, Louis. Have a nice night.”


Louis slips out the door, “You too, Harry.”


~○~


Dinner with another person in house other than relatives or close friends is quite a rarity. When he walks through the front door, he’s greeted with an aroma of something.. sweet, or something. He puts his briefcase down on the coffee tables and lets his feet take him to the kitchen.


Louis and Jacob is on the kitchen island with Jacob sitting on it and Louis beside him, elbows resting on the marble as he takes a bite, giggling at Jacob. Between them in a tray of what looks like chocolate muffin. It doesn’t even look like it’s cooled completely before the two have dove in.
Catching sight of him standing under the doorframe, Louis straightens up, putting down the muffin and smiling, “Good evening, sir.”


Harry raises an eyebrow, and Louis clears his throat, “Harry.” He’s already been getting that title in the office most of the day, and he doesn’t prefer it to be heard at home, too.


“What were you two up to?” Harry asks, watching as Louis hook his hands under Jacob’s arms to assist him in hopping down the counter. He accepts his son’s hug seconds after.


Instead of answering him, though, Louis says, “Jake, why don’t you tell Daddy why we were celebrating?”


Jacob pulls away from Harry, “I got an A in a quiz!”


“A plus.” Louis supplies, looking really fond and happy as well. He then looks back at Harry, “So I decided to bake him some muffins to celebrate since he requested them. Um.. I hope you don’t mind.”


“Thank you.” Harry says, smile spreading on his lips. He puts his hands on his knees to get at Jacob’s eye level, “I’m proud of you, love.”


“Thank you, Daddy!” He then glances at Louis before stepping towards Harry more, whispering, “Is Louis still staying for dinner?”


In his other ear, Harry hears Louis let out a small laugh before quieting himself with a cough. The curly man answers just as quiet, but not really, “If he wants to.”


“Louis wants to!” Jacob exclaims right in his ear and Harry winces.


“Then..” Harry goes back to his height, “I guess Louis is staying?”


Louis has this wide smile on his face. It’s supposed to be creepy, really, but Harry thinks that it just makes him look prettier. Everyone does, “Louis is staying.”


“Great.” Harry says, “Any ideas? Jake?”


“Chicken?” Jacob asks hopefully.


“Alright. Just let me get dressed.” Walking back to his room with his briefcase, Harry changes into a pair of loose trousers and a shirt, feeling much more comfortable than his suit.


He finds Louis and Jacob in the den. They have a board game between – scrabble, and Harry itches to join. But dinner awaits.


It takes him a bit over an hour to finish cooking. Louis had wandered in right after Harry turns the stove off, the babysitter offering to set the table which Harry gladly accepts.


So, sitting here now with Jacob no longer beside him and chattering loudly to Louis, Harry watches silently, only uttering words whenever he’s acknowledged. One thing he’s noticed, though, is that Jacob always looks so ecstatic with Louis. Which, of course, that’s a good thing. A great thing, and only Harry can ever get to see his son like that.


“Daddy.” Jacob says, “Louis can bring Dorie and Ernie here tomorrow, right?” He’s giving this small smile, but the small dimple appearing on his cheek is all too familiar for Harry to recognize it as a silently-pleading-for-approval smile.


“Once a week.” Harry reminds, glancing knowingly at Louis, “How about your other siblings, Louis?”


“They’re at school for most of the day so I leave the twins at a friend’s.” Louis answers.


Harry frowns, curious, “Your parents?”


He sees Louis’ smile drop for like, half a second before it’s there again. Not meaning anything, just for show, maybe, “My mum’s working two jobs, so she gets home at like either really late or early in the morning. My dad uh.. he left.”


Harry decides not to push further since it’s obviously a personal topic, so he nods, dismissing it, “I remember you saying you studied uh.. Theatre?”


“I did.” Harry sees the beam in Louis’ face. Jesus, he’s like the sun, all vibrant and just... vibrant, “It’s.. it’s a passion of mine.”


“I see that.” Harry nods, “What year did you get to finish?”


“Second year.” Louis says, “I figured if I earned enough money for my sister’s, then I’d like to go back to college.”


Harry’s pretty sure he’s staring at the lad with such genuine interest about his personal life. With the details, Harry almost wants to ask him questions but he’s afraid it might be too far for Louis. One thing Harry can’t deny, is that Louis’ sure has one hell of a bump in his life.


Jacob pipes in, poking Louis’ arm, “What do you do in Theatre?”


“Well,” Louis clears his throat, and after he goes into full hyperdrive of telling all about threatre and acting and stage plays and more. Jacob seems to absorb it all, eyes wide as he processes the new information in his little, but certainly big, brain.


“Daddy!” Jacob says at the end of it all, almost startling Harry in the process.


“Yes, baby?”


“”Can—May I do ballet?” Jacob asks, looking genuinely worried and anxious for Harry’s reply.


Harry doesn’t even know why he got that from, but he suddenly remembers from Louis’ brief introduction to Theatre that he had participated in a small play and he got to be a one of the dancers, specifically for ballet. Harry shrugs, eventually, “Of course you can, love. Whatever makes you happy.”


Satisfied with his father’s answer, Jacob pats at Louis to get his attention, which doesn’t really involve a lot of patting and prodding, “I read a story once and it’s about a ballerina.”


“Ooh, wanna show it to me after dinner?” Louis smiles.


“I’ll show it to you right now!” Jacob says. Harry opens his mouth to speak, to remind his son that leaving your food unfinished is a bit rude, but the little boy is already darting off.


Louis chuckles, fond, “I think it’s great.” He begins, “That you let him do what he knows will make himself happy.”


“Well, of course.” Harry says, “It’s all that really matters, right? He can do things as long as he’s happy and doesn’t hurt any other people.”


Louis nods in agreement, “Some parents tend to just neglect their children’s aspirations for their own wants.” He scoffs lightly, obviously bothered by the fact, “It’s ridiculous.”


Harry may or may have been staring in awe, but it’s none of anyone’s business. He suddenly thinks how proud he of himself for finding a babysitter like Louis. He’s got Jacob’s in a matter of days. He clears his throat, instead, “I agree with you.” Tons.


“Look! Louis!” Jacob comes rushing back, holding his book in his hands.
“Jacob.”


His father’s stern voice makes him freeze, pausing as he looks up at Harry. It gets harder and harder to look into those eyes then scold him. Who even in their right mind would scold a child, an angelic-looking, baby—


Harry clears his throat, “You shouldn’t have left the table without excusing yourself. Table manners, love.”


“Sorry, daddy. I was just excited.”


Harry leans over and kisses his head, “Next time, alright?”


“Yes, daddy.” Jacob giggles, then he’s jumping back into his seat and animatedly telling the story, having Louis’ full attention.


A clap of thunder interrupts them and Jacob jumps, instantly running to Harry and clambering onto his lap. Harry kisses his head, “You’re fine, darling.” He looks back at Louis, and he sees the man looking down on his lap, looking rather frantic. Harry then hears the tapping sounds from what seems to be a phone.


“Alright, Louis?”


“Oh, uh..” Louis offers an unconvincing smile, “Yeah, y-yeah. It’s just... I probably should go now. My siste—“


Another thunder sounds from outside followed by the sound of heavy rain and Jacob whimpers against Harry’s neck. Louis continues, “My sisters are alone in the house. I should really be going now.” He begins to stand.


Surprisingly, Jacob yelps and reaches for Louis, “Don’t go! It’s dangerous out there.” After his words, he tucked himself back in his daddy’s arms.


Louis smiles and walks over, kneeling down beside Harry, “Well, my sisters need saving, Jake. And I’m their hero. I need to be strong for them, yes? Fight against the storm?”


Jacob lets go of Harry, standing up to his own feet to hug Louis around the neck, “Don’t go!”


“I can’t give up!” Louis argue back, his eyes showing worry, “What if your daddy asks for your help? You’ll save him, too, right?”


“But you don’t even know if your sisters need help.” Jacob pouts.


Harry leans forward and pets his hair, “Now, now, love. Be respectful.”


Another thunder rolls through, followed by a louder one. Jacob climbs back in Harry’s lap in fear. If there’s one thing Jacob hates, it’s thunderstorms. He wouldn’t let Harry let go—this is actually the first time.

“But...” Jacob whimpers.


Louis comes closer, raising a hand to rub at Jacob’s back for comfort, “I’ll still see you tomorrow, though! Nothing to worry about.”


Jacob finally looks up at Harry for help, widening his teary eyes and a pout forming on his lips. Harry sighs, “Baby, Louis already said there’s nothing to be worried about.”


It takes a lot of coaxing, and it only gets harder and harder each thunder that claps outside. The rain is heavier, too. To be honest, he’s actually worried for Louis’ sake as well. It’s late, it’s pouring a massive amount of rain, and it’s basically a storm.


After finishing dinner, which is a real task considering Jacob has decided to latch onto his daddy the whole time but thankfully Louis has done most of the cleaning, Harry settles on the den with Jacob, still coddling his child because of the endless thunder. He can barely hear Louis’ voice in the kitchen.


Louis comes out later, pocketing his phone, “My uh.. my sisters.”


“Are they alright being alone?” Harry asks.


“The oldest one uh... Lottie. She said she’s fine and she can handle it until Mum comes home.” Louis answers, looking contented with that, but then he freezes again and fishes out his phone, “Um, excuse me for a sec.”


Harry watches him leave, and he takes the time to comfort Jacob until his boy is blinking sleepily, ignoring the thunder still going on outside.


“Sorry. I had to text my Mum.” Is Louis’ first word when he comes out, “But uh.. I guess I should go now that...” He points knowingly at a sleeping Jacob.


Harry looks over to the window and sees the sheets of rain rolling down on it, “I think it’s best for you to wait for it to calm down.”


Louis’ eyebrows furrow in uncertainty. Before he can argue, though, Harry says, “I can’t have you walking home alone at night when a thunderstorm’s going on. It’s proper rude.”


Louis fishmouths. But then he eventually sees the sense and nods, “Okay, I’ll... I guess I’ll stay until it calms down.”


Harry looks down on his watch, “It’s already nine. When it hits ten-thirty and nothing has changed, you can stay the night, alright?”


Louis splutters in surprise, “W-What? I can’t. I—“


“It’s fine, Louis.” Harry sighs, “But are your sisters gonna be alone the whole night?”


“No.” Louis says, hesitating, “My mum said she’s got an early night out.”


“Well, then my offer stands.” Harry reminds, “It’s gonna be too late for you to be walking around if I send you whenever this rain ends. But if it ends before ten-thirty, then you can go.”


Louis seems to take it... after long seconds of pondering, “O-Okay. Um... thank you, though. It’s already so much that you’re paying me more than average—“


“Louis, don’t sweat it. It’s alright.” Harry assures, “I still have to thank you for making Jacob smile whenever I’m not around.”


Louis smiles at him, practically beaming, “It’s a pleasure.”


~○~


“Mum just arrived.” Lottie says from the other line, yawning in between her words, “Mum, Lou’s gonna spend the night at Mr. Styles’ mansion.”


“I’m not.” Louis sighs, “Just... at least if this rain ends before half ten.” He looks at the clock hovering over him, pinned to the wall. It’s ten, and the rain is not showing any signs of stopping.


“Hm, let’s see.” Lottie giggles, “I hear Harry Edward Styles is real attractive.”


“Hear? Is that what you teenage girls talk about now? CEOs and older men? I thought you went for hipster.” Louis chuckles, and okay he totally dodged that open question, because he can’t deny it. He can’t agree to it, either.


“Oh shut up. Tell me, what are you doing right now?”


“In the kitchen.” Louis says dryly, “Talking to an obnoxious somebody.”


“Boohoo.”


“Louis.” Louis jumps, swiftly turning around to face Harry who’s at the doorway, still carrying Jacob.


Louis clears his throat. It does absolutely nothing, “Y-Yes?” Damnit.


“I’ll go put him to sleep. You can get settled in the guest room.” Harry leaves without another word, silently climbing up the stairs to tuck Jacob in.


Louis sighs heavily. When he puts the phone back in his ear, he pulls it back twice as fast because Lottie squealed in his bloody ear. He groans, “What now?”


“I heard him! He sounds so hot!”


Louis chuckles, “You should be sleeping right now, y’know that? How are you and the others? Still okay?”


“Pssh, don’t worry about us! Just stay the night, yes? Who knows, maybe you can make him fall for you and we can finally get rich!”


Louis’ genuinely mortified by his sister’s words, “That’s horrifying, Lottie.”


“Kidding!” Lottie chirps, “But I’ll get off the phone now. Early tomorrow.”


“Good.” Louis sighs, “Sweet dreams.”


“Bye! Love you!” Lottie says before she hangs up. When he pockets his phone, he turns and jumps again when he sees Harry by the doorway. He clutches his chest, “Jesus. You’ve got to stop doing that.”


He sees the corner of Harry’s lips quirk up, “I cleaned the guest room. It’s upstairs, second door to your left.”


Louis purses his lips, “It’s not ten-thirty yet.”


“It will be.” Harry shrugs.


“But—“


“Louis.” Harry cuts off sternly, “It’s ten minutes and it’s still raining out. I’m not letting you go out because if my son happens to wake up and finds you gone, he’ll probably be in hysterics.”


Louis closes his eyes and nods, “Okay, I-I’ll stay. But uh.. I’ll go home first thing in the morning then I can just come back for Jacob.”


“Whatever you want.” Harry says curtly before he turns, ready to leave.
Louis catches up to him, and Harry faces him again, “Hm?”


“Um.. thank you.” Louis says, “For...” He flails an arm awkwardly, “... yeah.”


Harry doesn’t look stern like he usually is. His face is relaxed and he only nods, “It’s no problem, Louis.”


Louis’ conked out hours later, dressed in some pajamas Harry has lent him. He wonders if it’s his but it’s not that important to know. What’s important is that he wakes himself up at around three am and he can’t go back to sleep no matter how comfortable the bed is.


Louis grabs his phone as he stands, flicking on the lamp. The room illuminates a little. He slips on the slippers Harry also lent him before he finds his way downstairs. He makes his way to the foyer, peeking into the window beside the door. He’s not meaning to go out, hell it’s a death wish to go out in an unfamiliar neighborhood so early in the morning.


He walks around the den and stops at another window, pushing the curtain back a little. It’s a calming view, slightly eerie, but Louis can’t stop looking. There’s not much to look at, just the other houses and the street, and it’s really different Louis’ view whenever he comes home.


“Fucking—“


Louis yelps, turning around, “Bloody—“


“Hell.” Harry finishes, and heavy breathing follows. He’s flicked the light on in the hallway, and surely Louis’ silhouette standing on the window gave him a freaking heart attack.


“God.” Louis sighs heavily then he laughs, “You and me both.”


“What are you even doing out here?” Harry asks, “Standing in front of a window.”


“I uh.. woke up.” Louis says guiltily.


Harry heaves a breath, then surprisingly, he chuckles. It’s light and short, “You weren’t planning on sneaking out, were you?”


“Oh uh... no.” Louis says simply. He twiddles his thumbs, “I just can’t go back to sleep.”


“You and me both.” Harry says, and then he strolls into the kitchen, turning the light on as well.


Louis hesitates, but he follows Harry into the kitchen where the man’s stirring some milk into a glass before he puts the said glass into the microwave. Without looking back, Harry asks, “Want a cup?”


“Um.. no, t-thank you.” Louis says, “I’m more... of a coffee guy, really.”


“Explains why you’re so full of energy all the time.” It’s a minute and half and the microwave beeps. Harry cautiously takes his milk out and eventually faces Louis.


Louis stands there awkwardly, raising a hand to rub at his own arm, “I uh.. I guess.”


Harry drinks his milk and keeps eye contact with Louis until the latter coughs into a fist. Harry smiles, “Jacob really likes you.”


Feeling genuinely pleasant, Louis feels a smile stretch his lips, “It’s really great to hear that.”


Harry nods and drinks some more. When he’s finished, he wipes his lips before he puts the glass on the sink, “Good night, Louis.” He says before he passes by and walks back upstairs.