“See you later then, mate!”, Louis called out to Niall, who gave a small wave and went down the hallway in the opposite direction of Louis. As soon as the older boy saw him turn the corner, he sighed, his shoulders slumping noticeably, and he slowly rubbed his aching temples, hoping for the stinging in his forehead to subside – without much avail.
Although he had enjoyed this football match with his closest mates, as he usually did, today he hadn't totally been into it, his thoughts always wandering to the text he would have to finish reading, editing, commenting and whatnot in two days. The thing was, what with other school projects and, most of all, him being responsible for his younger siblings since his mother was working full-time, he barely had a minute to himself he could spend without worries or having to do some form of assignment – it was unnerving and rather stressing, really, the bags under his blue eyes growing more and more evident every day, draining the colour from his face like a sponge that had been forgotten beneath the hot summer sun.
Today, which happened to be a for this time of the year rather sunny Thursday, was the only day he had for himself in a long time due to his sisters being taken care of by their stepfather who had this day off. Louis quickly checked his phone, knowing he'd receive a message in case anything went wrong, and pocketed it once he saw that nothing in his status bar had changed, his frown softening slightly albeit still being evident due to having school work to do.
Not being able to suppress another sigh, despite knowing he had been adapting this bad habit over the past year and wanting but not really trying to get rid of it – to put it bluntly, he didn't care a bit, it was just that everyone else would never shut up about how annoying it was - the 22-year-old slowly made his way outside, entertaining the hope that on this windy March day no one would use the benches in the school's garden due to them not being in the best state.
He had his to-be-done worksheets already half taken out of his stylish brown bag as he spotted a lanky boy with dark brown, unruly curls sitting on a bench. Noticing the boy's plugged in headphones, he decided to take place next to him anyway, hoping he wouldn't get too distracted by the seemingly quiet boy and opened his notepad, another deep breath leaving his mouth involuntarily.
He shot a glance at the boy next to him, watching him writing down something on his very own notepad and he wondered how one could concentrate on something while listening to music. He himself would always get too caught up in the lyrics and the rhythm of the music that he could not at all focus on the matter at hand, his foot tapping to the beat and he himself humming the lines. He would find himself in some sort of weird trance, his mind discovering spaces unbeknownst to himself and mankind, exploring worlds he couldn't have dreamed of even with his rather wide fantasy.
Trying to clear his always too busy head from thoughts of tempting, distracting music, he looked down at the sheets in his hand, desperately trying to focus albeit knowing it would make the task at hand even harder if he wanted to force it. All of his trying and thinking led to him missing the curious glance from the other boy just as he had missed Louis' before.
Although Louis knew how important this project was (his teacher had held a lecture for over fifteen minutes, his whole class – even the ones who would practically sleep all day – had gotten the point, complaining silently and hurrying to take notes for at least the rest of the class to avoid being totally dependent on others – they would still be, though), but still he couldn't let his mind settle on the boring text about some peoples who had lived thousands of years back, inventing what had been claimed as incredibly revolutionary but Louis just found himself thinking spinning wheels, really now?
Whenever he would succeed in reading a paragraph without letting any - probably important - detail slip his mind, he found himself distracted by the head of curly locks positioned on his left and he wouldn't be able to read another sentence and remembering what he had just learned, causing him to restart at the beginning of whatever boring paragraph he was at (religion, buildings, women's position – why did he take history again??).
After an embarrassingly short amount of time,however, he caught himself thinking more about how to get a conversation started with Curly (no, he most definitely did not waste his time in making up a nickname for his newly found 'neighbour', he did not) than actually thinking about his history project with all the boring dead people (that boy must have really invaded his mind for this was the first time he found himself thinking like that about something he usually was quite passionate about – it depended on the topic, though, his heart was all for important contracts and revolutionary battles, his eyes would shine at hearing someone talk about soldiers hiding in horses and whole troops being defeated due to a fortunate advantage at sea, but he would just sit and bear a lecture about women collecting berries and men sharpening weapons).
The sight of the boy biting his lip when he was reading in concentration, fingers ready to turn pages immediately after he would have finished reading the last word of a page, sometimes heaving it even earlier to urge him to go faster, read quicker, and, as one could tell by his extremely detailed observation, all of that didn't help Louis at all, really.
What had to be not even five minutes later, he decided to just go with the flow and, despite knowing Curly was listening to music, he started talking to him. He just blurted out the first thing he could think of, which turned out to be about the weather – wow, Louis, he thought to himself ever so sarcastically, rolling his eyes inwardly – but the boy showed no reaction whatsoever.
Feeling slightly offended, Louis turned back to his sheets, biting his lip in concentration until the next - at this moment to him seemingly brilliant - idea flooded his mind.
Trying to appear casual, Louis leaned in closer, asking the taller boy if he could borrow his pen, claiming he needed a red one but having forgotten his own at home. At that, the boy turned his face but only looked at Louis with wide eyes, not making a move, reminding him a lot about the famous deer in headlights.
Louis resisted the urge to roll his eyes – another bad habit of his, he had quite a few of them actually, finding no time or will whatsoever in working on them -, muttering under his breath something along the lines of how loud does that music have to be, but he tried nonetheless and made writing movements with his hands albeit not being able to keep from saying the words quietly, showing without words that he was in need of the boy's writing utensil.
A tight-lipped smile on his face, the first Louis had ever seen on him – and good god yes did he like it -, the boy handed his marker over, nodding his head at Louis' rushed thanks.
Actually underlining some important lines in his five-pages report and surprising himself a bit in doing so, Louis handed the pen back eventually, standing up to leave, not without donning a bright despite close-mouthed smile and a curt nod at Harry who returned the gesture, making dimples that had been hiding themselves from Louis until this day pop out.
Making his way home where Louis was sure he would have to do the dishes, laundry and preparing himself some meal, as usual (being the eldest of the family and having hard-working parents really sucked sometimes, most of the time, actually, but what could he do?), he shook his head in amusement as well as wonder about the boy he had just met, dimples embedding themselves as much in Louis' thoughts as they had done in Harry's soft-looking, round cheeks.
The next day, Lottie, Louis' sister, who was trying to show everyone how mature she already was, insisted on taking her younger siblings out since he had a short school day anyway.
After having argued over two hours, which had been interrupted by a short period of time Louis had spent banging his head onto the kitchen table, they eventually agreed on letting her go but only if their aunt would accompany them, at which Lottie had only rolled her eyes – probably Louis wasn't the best big-brother-idol but, whatever.
Seeing no reason as to why to go back to his now abandoned home if he could study as well at school just like he had done the day before, Louis once again made his way to the benches, the weather being even better than it had been the day before, which he took for a good sign (not that he needed one, no, just, you know).
When he arrived at the benches, which were already losing its once bright green colour, seeming a bit lonely and odd in spring's first warm and ready embrace this year, he wasn't the least bit disappointed about not seeing Harry (at least that's what he told himself).
The urgency of his project already forgotten, he decided that he, being the talkative guy he was, after all, could wait a few minutes for the other lad to show up and try to get him to talk today. He told himself that he wouldn't wait longer than five minutes, at most.
After what must have been about ten minutes longer than he had agreed on with himself – although he hadn't dared to look up the time after four minutes had passed -, he finally decided to turn his attention to the papers, which seemed even more boring than they had the day before.
Just then, curly-headed dimple boy (It didn't take Louis long to come up with that so it doesn't really count, nope) came along, wearing a warm smile as well as a grey beanie that allowed some cheeky strands of his hair to poke out at the sides and front, making him look unintentionally beautiful.
Carefully, Louis, who was currently trying to fight the without a doubt face-splitting smile his lips would force him to wear, slipped closer to the male next to him, not really putting effort in seeming to be interested in what he was reading any more, in contrary to the boy.
He had noticed right when the boy had arrived that he was once again wearing his white earphones, so, upon deciding that music had to have some sort of meaning to him, he took that as a pick-up line and asked, his voice louder than usual in an effort to get the boy to pay attention to him, what he was listening to.
But he only received a half-hearted smile as the boy was pointing to his headphones, obviously trying to make clear that he either hadn't caught onto what Louis was saying or that he wasn't interested in giving up his music marathon for entertaining a conversation with the almost stranger at all.
Annoyed, Louis leaned back and opted on ignoring the boy, his nose buried in his worksheets which he didn't read, his eyes catching sight of something different. Meanwhile, Louis was cursing himself in is mind for not giving up on getting this boy's attention – he loved it when he was being listened to, yes, but something about this boy made him want to not stop trying, to keep going until he would get a final answer, whether it be that yes, the boy indeed would not mind having a conversation with him or a clear and definite no showing him he had crossed the boundaries somewhere.
Sighing – not too long ago he had made the decision that he would just keep doing what he was doing, which included his sighing, eye-rolling and shrugging at all times of the day –, he put out the pad of sticky notes his gaze had been lingering on and tried again with questioning the boy's taste in music by asking him what song he was listening to.
To Louis' surprise, the boy picked up his post-its and told him, words looking oddly noble despite not being perfectly neat in red ink that it was a very special song.
Louis raised his eyebrows at that, digging further by asking if he could listen to it.
The answer he got took him by surprise again, for the boy told him no because he was embarrassed. Although Louis wanted to tell him he was sure there was nothing to be ashamed of, he decided to let go of this topic for now and started with something casual, asking the boy's name, a smiley face edged onto the yellow paper.
He tried not to smile too widely when he found out the boy's name was Harry – something more fitting has yet to be invented, Louis thought – and told him his own, when asked, which happened to be immediately after.
Just like that, time passed, leaving both of them forgetting about their work, too captivated by the short yet most of the time witty answers on the sticky notes, eyeing each others special font that could tell so much about a person – Louis' being messy, just as his thoughts usually and Harry's being neat, each letter being thought over before written, picturing his way of living an thinking.
Soon, the unoccupied place on the bench between them was filled with post-it's, a yellow spot on the faded green ground, and they both long gave up on trying not to laugh.
Their conversation never seemed to stop, they talked about superficial themes such as age and surname to favourites in all kind of things: films, music, food, learning little things about each other without effort, having warmed up in a heartbeat.
Louis, who had had to discover with a frown on his face that he was older but shorter than Harry, going with his usual manner of ah, just fuck it, and, when he sensed they slowly ran out of time – rather than things to say, really, because they seemed to never get to a stop with talking – told Harry that he had had a lovely time and would like to see him again, asking for his number, not without scribbling a grinning smiley face in the bottom right corner.
“No. I don't have one..“
Louis snorted at that, the sound echoing through the silent air. He shook his head about Harry's antics - despite the thought of knowing all about them was ghosting around in the back of his mind, causing pleasant chills to erupt all over his body.
“Really? That's a terrible lie...”
Louis could almost hear himself saying these exact lines, his voice dripping from sarcasm, and he once again wondered why they were still talking via sticky notes. Before he could get too engulfed in the thought, he noticed Harry having added another post-it on the pile of yellow paper, and he scanned over Harry's neat, now familiar handwriting, that was a stark contrast against his own incredibly blowzy one, and he smiled at reading that Harry would be here again the next day.
He swiftly donned a positive response back, just when he heard his phone beeping, a text message from his mother telling him to come home immediately.
The shorter lad shrugged apologetically and got up, frowning at his still undone work that was due in a few days – there was no use, he would have to stay up late that night, if he wanted to or not.
It was the third day now, the sun shining even brighter than since the beginning of March, spring announcing itself by lovely tunes erupting from all kind of birds' throats.
Louis had been the first one to exit his last class of the day, putting on a thin jacket due to the air already being warm and smelling like grass that was beginning to rise to a new life, a new year since the last bits of snow had melted.
The feathery haired boy, who had been doing most of his work last night until the hands on his clock had stroked two in the morning and he decided to leave it be if he didn't want to be a dead man walking the next day, was rereading the last page of the essay, making notes at the sides and trying to remember as much as his tired brain would allow him to.
He looked up irritatedly as a hand suddenly came into his view, his hazy brain not having realised the dawning footsteps, but his features softened immediately as he saw another sticky note being pressed onto his paper by a large hand wearing the two silver rings Louis had noticed and admired the day before. He relaxed subconsciously at being engulfed in Harry's refreshing scent that floated around him at all times.
He found it quite endearing that Harry told him that it was good to see him again in their first note of this day, and he decided on being cheeky as he put out his own post-it's, violet this time – variatio delectat or whatever Cicero or his Latin teacher or whoever would have said in this situation -, scrawling a You're late :) x.
For that, he received a light push from a laughing Harry, causing himself to chuckle loudly, watching Harry getting ready with a likewise cheeky comeback.
Over the course of minutes, the two of them have been getting closer to each other without either one taking further notice of it, being completely comfortable with their sides pressed against each other, arms scurrying around the place as sheet after sheet was being piled onto Louis' as well as Harry's notepad.
When the space on both their pads got less and less, Louis started to glue a sticky note onto Harry's sweater, making the younger boy gasp in fake offence and ended in him not being able to see any longer due to a post-it being put right on his forehead.
After they have calmed down enough from their laughter, Harry suddenly looked insecure, shielding what he was just writing with his body, and he took a long look into Louis' cerulean eyes before showing him the note he had just made.
"Would you like to listen to my song?"
Louis looked up again, feeling honoured that Harry, after all his, at least in the beginning withdrawn appearance, although traces of it could be noticed every now and again still, let him have a glance into his own world, so he swallowed hard, somehow sensing the impact that hid behind such an otherwise casual question.
He reassured Harry in his doing and expectantly put in the familiar white headphones. His eyes were wide as he listened excitedly but – nothing.
He frowned, eyebrows scrunched together as he looked over at Harry, feeling odd.
“That's weird! I don't hear anything!”, he exclaimed.
Then, he saw Harry making movements with his hands, green eyes suddenly dull and sad, and despite not knowing what exactly he was signing, Louis understood.
Suddenly, he felt stupid for his initial behaviour and too-fast judgement, and he admired Harry's bravery for engaging in conversation despite not being able to hear, or talk.
Without further thinking, he wrote down another note, concentrating on making his font as neat as could be as he wrote "You're still beautiful."
And by the look in his eyes Harry could tell that Louis meant it, so he smiled happily despite timidly and leaned in, slowly, watching anxiously if Louis would be okay with it as soon as he would catch onto Harry's doing. The younger boy was taken by surprise as Louis closed the gap between their mouths suddenly, both trying to tell what they couldn't say or hear in this one first kiss.
Despite Louis having learned sign language after a while, they still, after years and years of knowing each other, sometimes would spend hours in talking via sticky notes, having them stacked in all different colours, shapes and sizes at their home.
And the pile in both their bedside lockers would grow and grow, notes with all different meanings from simple "Hi"'s to meaningful "I love you"'s; from one of their very first, casual conversation where one had asked about the other's day to one of their most meaningful, "Marry me?" And "I do" being written in careful, neat font on both sides.
As they grew older, their sticky notes did as well, but there would also be new ones, whether it be from them, a detailed drawing of a bug from their son, or a princess drawn by one of their daughter's hand, their whole house soon was covered in sticky notes, guests being invited to leave some, adding to their very special story.