Four days have gone by and there was still no sign of Nico. Physically, of course. Louis had heard brief phone calls taken by different members of the Styles family, Nico’s booming voice shouting for his husband to be returned to him over the phone to no avail. Most of the time Nico would be cut off mid-sentence and Louis would run off, having to pretend he was doing something else so that it wasn’t made known that he was eavesdropping.
There really wasn’t much to do, though. He was stuck.
Louis slept alone in the room he had been placed in when he first arrived. He woke up in the late morning and, upon realizing they weren’t going to torture him or murder him, had tried to help around the house (naturally, as if he were staying in a fucking resort and wanted to help the maid) but was always shooed away by Harry or one of his henchmen, as Louis liked to call them. Apparently, to Louis’s surprise, there were maids here to do all the cleaning up, something Louis was just not used to.
On that particular day – a dreary, rainy Thursday – Louis awoke at a somewhat reasonable hour. The clock across the room read 10:37 am.
If he were at home, Louis would have been awake three hours ago, probably in the midst of cleaning something, cooking dinner, just something to stay busy so that Nico was pleased when he came home. With his hands idle most of the time, Louis wasn’t quite sure what to do.
Louis climbs out of the king bed, dragging his feet tiredly to the ensuite bathroom, flicking the light on to check his appearance. He looks properly sleepy, yet rested at the same time. His hair is all over the place, the cinnamon locks twisting up at every angle. Lines ran across his face from where the sheets had made an imprint. Sleep was still stuck in the corner of his eyes, Louis rubbing at them before yawning.
The boy nearly jumped out of skin at the sound of another voice outside the bathroom door.
Louis practically dives across the bathroom to grab the robe – charcoal, of course – hanging next to the tub, shrugging it over his shoulders and tying it tight around his waist before deciding it was acceptable to open the door. Behind it is a well-dressed Harry, making Louis feel properly embarrassed in his own boxers and bathrobe. Clearly the curly-haired man had been awake for many hours than Louis had been, signified by his own messy hair and sleepy eyes.
Harry reveals a cheeky smile at the underdressed boy. “Just woken up, have we?” although it’s not really a question, a soft chuckle falling from Harry’s lips. The older man takes in the sight before him; Harry has grown exceedingly fond of the boy in their few short days together. They had not spoken much to each other, just short exchanges mostly. Harry attempted to make conversation, but Louis was rather tough to open up. That was his mostly his fault, really – the poor boy had been kidnapped, after all, but Harry had made sure the boy was treated nicely ever since that night.
Louis was simply caught up in the middle of a war he had no choice but to be dragged into.
The younger man nods in reply, scarlet creeping into his cheeks as he looks down at his underdressed self. “I-I’m sorry, I-I didn’t know you would be here this morning o-or else I would have gotten u-“
Harry cuts him off with a louder laugh. He never failed to be amused by the boy, who was always apologizing. “Louis, dear, I don’t expect you to know when I’m here or away.” He says, leaning against the door frame with his arms crossed against his chest, relaxed. “And you certainly do not have to wake up earlier for me or for anyone, for that matter. But you’re right, I was supposed to be away this morning, but I finished up my work early.” He continues nonchalantly, never taking his eyes off of Louis.
The younger boy felt a bit uncomfortable under his gaze, unsure why Harry was staring at him with that weird look in his eyes. He decided to disregard it for the time being, smiling shyly at him instead.
“I’m serious, you know. You don’t need to wait around on me,” Harry pauses, eyebrows furrowing in a moment of realization, “Does that bastard make you do that? Treat you like a fucking maid?” he spits, voice darkening.
Louis’s eyes shoot wide in surprise, his face paling. “N-No!” he says a little too quickly, so Harry doesn’t believe it for once second, “I-I’m just home by myself most of the time, most days, you know,” Louis goes on, voice dropping to almost a whisper, “So I keep myself busy. Cleaning, cooking, stuff like that.”
The curly-haired man isn’t convinced but decides to not press the issue any further; he can tell Louis looks uncomfortable. Harry nods curtly to himself, pressing his lips together before leaning away from the door frame.
“I’ll leave you to it, then, freshen up and what not.” The older man says, awkwardly backing away from the door with a cheeky smile on his face and exiting the room. Louis just blinked in response, confusion clouding his thoughts once again, shutting the bathroom door again before moving to stare at himself in the large mirror. He placed his hands on the counter, leaning forward to get a good look at his reflection, staring back at himself in disbelief.
“What the fuck is going on?”
Louis could not be more confused by his current living situation.
Other than the fact that he was still coming to terms with the fact that his husband was a cold-blooded killer, he wasn’t having a terrible time. He missed Nico a lot and wanted nothing more than for him to come and rescue him, but to be completely honest, the Styles were treating him very nicely. There was a lot of free time on his hands, something he was only used to in the early hours of the morning at his original residence.
The other odd thing for Louis was the fact that the house was rarely empty. Guards stood outside Louis’s door most hours of the day, while other men seemed to just hang around the house waiting for something to do. They were in the kitchen, in the study, in the living room, anywhere really. Louis wasn’t used to having this much company all the time. The past few days had gone by quietly for the most part, the most ruckus being caused by Nico a phone line away. Louis was somewhat surprised with himself that he wasn’t more bothered with his predicament. Perhaps it was the hope he had that, eventually, Nico would come for him.
Or maybe that he wouldn’t come at all. Louis shook the thought quickly from his head.
He eventually emerged from the bedroom around half an hour after the bathroom encounter with Harry, dressed more properly now. He wore charcoal suit pants with just a white button-up, the buttons done a two-thirds of the way up his abdomen so some of his tan chest could still be seen. The stark contrast of his skin against the white made his skin seem that more golden.
Tiptoeing down the stairs, the young boy ventured into the kitchen to find something to eat, realizing that his stomach was growling angrily at him. He quickly realized that the house was oddly quiet that morning – almost afternoon by the time Louis had come downstairs – the usual quiet banter Louis had grown used to over the past few days missing from the house. Tentatively moving to the fridge and feeling uncomfortable in the quiet, Louis opened it as he hummed softly to himself, searching for something to satisfy his stomach.
“Anything particular you’re looking for?”
That fucking voice again, sneaking up on him. It was kind of annoying.
Louis squeaked, turning away from the fridge to see Harry in front of him.
“You scared me. Why do you keep doing that?” Louis blurts out, unable to think of anything more intelligent to respond with. He sure had a way with words.
“What, me walking into my own kitchen scared you?” Harry jokes, a stupid smile on his face that Louis wished would go away. It freaked him out more than anything. “Were you looking for anything particular in there?” he continues, changing the topic.
Louis suddenly feels like he’s been caught off guard, glancing back into the fridge yet unable to actually think of something he’s hungry for. He can’t decipher why he keeps letting Harry under his skin like this, making him so nervous for God knows what reason.
Harry moves behind Louis, leaving barely a few centimeters of space between their bodies as the curly-haired man grabs the milk, which is right in front of his eyes, out of the fridge. “Is that all? You’re hungry for… milk.” Harry chuckles softly again. Louis frowns, growing increasingly annoyed.
“I could have gotten it myself.” The younger boy huffs.
“I’m well-aware, darling,” Harry has magically whipped out a glass, already pouring milk out for the other boy, “But I don’t want you to lift a finger, if I’m being completely honest.”
Louis is growing annoyed with this man. He won’t let him do anything for himself and it’s irritating. He is a well-established, independent man. “I don’t need you treating me like a fucking four-year old, I know how to pour a glass of milk.” He snaps.
Now there was the fire Louis had been looking for.
Harry doesn’t respond right away, taking the time to return milk to the fridge. He also moves to pop two slices of bread in the toast, despite Louis not asking for any. Louis can feel his temper growing as he becomes increasingly pissed off.
“Well are you going to say anything? You’ve got me here and I haven’t done much complaining because, well, you’ve been rather nice to me, but to be fairly honest with you I want to leave, I want to be with my husband, I want to-“
“The husband who puts those bruises on your chest?”
Louis freezes. The room is suddenly quiet.
Except for the toaster that has just popped the slices of bread up.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Louis whispers, no longer feeling the bravado he once had.
Harry laughs darkly, moving to grab the toast with his back facing Louis. The older man hadn’t meant to spring this on Louis, nor do so as harshly as he just did, but as much as Louis had tried, Harry spotted the fading purple and yellow on his chest beneath the bath robe and it lit a fire in Harry that he couldn’t quell.
“That piece of shit was worried about me coming on to you when he puts his hands on you,” Harry continues, shaking his head, still laughing but finding this far from funny, “On your chest. They’re not new. How old are they, Louis, will you tell me?” His voice has changed, softer than it was before as he butters the toast, turning his head to look Louis in the eyes.
Louis suddenly feels small, no longer in control of the situation (although he doesn’t know if he ever really was). He tries to swallow, but everything has dried up in his throat. His hands begin to shake as the comfort he felt in this home over the past few days dissipates before him.
“A-About a week ago, a little more.” Louis doesn’t know why he’s telling Harry this information because, frankly, it’s none of his business. It’s no one’s business but his and Nico’s.
It’s really not that bad. It’s not as bad as it seems.
Harry doesn’t speak right away, taking a piece for himself while placing the plate with the second slice on the table next to Louis who is surprisingly still standing. He chews, pondering the information Louis has just told him.
“After lunch, I’m assuming.” Harry says nonchalantly as he chews, referring to their post-Church meeting from the other week, looking to Louis for him to confirm. Of course, Harry wants to be surprised but can’t force himself to be. Seems just like a sonuva bitch Costa to beat his significant other just for talking to someone, for having a fucking friend. Louis’s lack of a reply confirms Harry’s suspicions.
“Louis, darling, would you do me a favor?” Harry grabs one of the two glasses of milk that are sitting next to each other on the table, taking a sip before putting it down. A thin line of white rests along the top of his thin lip, “Would it be okay to ask if you would unbutton your shirt for me, just so I can see? If you don’t want to, that’s okay, I just want to see how bad he hurt you.” Harry’s voice is soft as silk, words dripping from his lips in a way that Louis just cannot say no to, no matter how loud his brain is screaming “NO” from the inside.
Harry licks the white from his lip and Louis slowly starts to unbutton his shirt, head bowed down as he does so. The boy doesn’t notice Harry slowly start to close the space between them as he undoes his buttons, fingers shaking as he struggles to undo the fourth button.
“You don’t need to be nervous, honey, I just wanna see how bad it is. Let me help you.” Harry murmurs, reaching forward with his long fingers to swiftly undo the last few buttons, letting the shirt fall open and away from his torso. Harry’s breath catches in his throat when he sees the extent of the damage.
A sickening display of yellow and purple sits on Louis’s chest and abdomen. Some of the bruises are fresh, still bleeding beneath the skin as they glare at Harry with purple-hued eyes. The rest of his skin was an ugly yellow, recovering from damage that may never truly heal. The freshest of the injuries were horrific, angry blue and red in the shapes of handprints. In some spots, it looked like there were imprints from rings his husband wore.
Harry had no words to describe what he was seeing, Louis still bowing his head in shame as if any of this were his fault. “Louis, honey, did he hit you because of me? Because I wanted to speak with you?”
Tears began to well up in the younger boy’s, embarrassed that the secret he had tried so hard to push away was coming to the surface.
It still wasn’t that bad.
Louis nodded in confirmation, unable to force any words out as his throat closed on him. He couldn’t stand feeling weak; he was fiery and independent and responsible and passionate and let his husband beat up on him when he got too angry or too drunk or too anything.
“Look at me, dear,” Harry gently nudges his chin upwards to stare into the other boy’s glassy, emerald orbs, “You shouldn’t feel embarrassed. It’s not your fault, you know that?” he coos quietly as the tears begin to fall from Louis’s eyes, hiccupping quietly as Harry spoke, nodding to his words. “You’re lovely, Lou, too lovely for that prick to be putting his hands on you.”
The gangster pauses for a second as he catches himself staring for a second too long at Louis’s lips, touching his face for a second too long, forgetting his dead husband for a second too long. He pulls way abruptly, unable to figure out a proper place to put his hands in that moment. Louis was too emotional to notice his lapse in judgement.
Louis wipes at his eyes, struggling to rid himself of the embarrassment he feels. He starts to button his shirt again, wanting to conceal his ugly injuries as quickly as possible.
“Louis,” Harry starts, turning back around to face him, “Would you mind accompanying me today? If you don’t mind.”
As if he has a choice, Louis thinks.
Regardless, he nods, agreeing to go wherever it is Harry plans to go today. It would be nice to get out of the house, he thinks. He’s confused about their shift in conversation, but Louis is grateful that it is no longer focused on him and his injuries.
“I had planned a separate excursion for today.” Harry continues, turning again so his back was facing the younger boy, hands pressed on the counter so hard that his knuckles were white. He couldn’t describe the anger he felt; it was unlike anything he had ever felt. He wasn’t sure if he was ever so worked up about something before, over a boy he barely knew yet was seemingly infatuated with.
“But I think there will be a change of plans.”