Two weeks later
Louis and Harry coexisted for the most part.
They spoke sparingly and only when it was necessary for life as they knew it. Harry told Louis when meals were, Louis gave small bits of information to Harry about the Costas, and everything else was meaningless small talk.
Harry didn’t talk about… whatever it was he was feeling for Louis. Or their kiss.
To Louis, this was a good thing. He didn’t want to know about it. They could pretend it never happened and they could go about their lives.
Thinking back to that night, the young boy is embarrassed by how he acted. He played like putty right into Harry’s hands and it was the last thing he wanted. This was the man who had horribly mutilated his husband after kidnapping him from his home. There was no chance in hell he would ever feel that way about his husband’s near-murderer.
At least, that’s what Louis wants to believe
Since there wasn’t much to do except read and listen to music, Louis had taken to talking with the other guys who frequently visited the house for all sorts of matters. It seemed like they were here more often than Harry was, whether it was for business or just to hang out. Louis would often come downstairs for breakfast in his pajamas to a kitchen full of well-dressed, armored men. The first time, they had pulled their guns out on him and he had nearly soiled himself on the spot. Thankfully he hasn’t had to stare down the barrel of thirty guns since then. He assumes Harry had nearly beaten all of them senseless and made them aware of Louis’s situation.
He had drifted towards the cheerful blond lad, Niall, in the previous days just because he seemed to be the least brooding of Harry’s close comrades. Liam wasn’t too bad, but he didn’t have much to say and Zayn just scared the shit out of him, with his dark eyes and sharp beard and, oh, the fact he had nearly concussed Louis into next year.
There was a playful air to Niall and it was refreshing amongst all the talk of murders and plots and looting.
Louis liked the girls too, all of them were just so beautiful and so nice to him. He felt like he had gained four new friends in them. It was a nice change from before, when he only had Suzanna, who he saw sparingly and only because of the “business”. It helped that the girls were total badasses and could probably fight better than Louis could. He hated to admit it, but he felt safe here with them.
Currently, Louis was sitting with books sprawled across the massive kitchen table with Niall sitting across from him, chewing on the pencil between his fingers. Light spilled in from the several windows in the house, filling the room with a bright yellow light that was so rare in the rainy country. It was late afternoon and Louis had been sitting there for a few hours now, just writing and reading while grabbing the occasional snack from the nearby pantry.
He had been alone for most of the afternoon until Niall had left the meeting and joined him upon Harry’s request. Harry didn’t like Louis being left alone that often, so he guessed that Niall was acting as his body guard.
The rest of the men and (some of the) women were just a few doors down the enormous hallway in a meeting room, planning a separate meeting to be held with another gang in the area. Louis hadn’t heard the name since they were speaking in their Gypsy language. He made a mental note to ask Harry about it later, if that was going to be their spare interaction of the day.
“What the fuck is all this?” Niall gestures to the books before grabbing a loose stack of papers from Louis’s side, trying to decipher what the younger boy had written down, but it was a foreign language to him. Louis glances up at the Irish man and chuckles softly at the confusion displayed across his face.
“Anatomy. Human body. Muscles and organs and bones, oh my!” Louis jokes quietly, chucking as he watches Niall’s face twist with disgust. “You know, it’s ironic that you find this horrifying for someone who actually has to see it outside of someone’s body.” He continues matter-of-factly, to which Niall just shrugs.
“Just because I’m good at spraying it doesn’t mean I wanna know what it’s doing and how I’m treating it like shit.” Niall goes on, lighting a cigarette and sucking in the smoke for emphasis, just as Louis starts to write notes on the respiratory system. “Why’re you looking at all this for, anyway?”
Louis shrugs, thinking back to his short conversation with Harry about the same subject. “’Think I wanna be a doctor or something one day. And I just think it’s interesting. I like to learn. And read.” He thinks aloud, “Plus it’s not like I do much else here besides eat, sleep, and read.” He likes that the people here are interested in what he likes to do. He never had that at home, except for Suzanna, but he only saw her maybe once or twice a month. They were friends, yes, but Louis wasn’t allowed to be around others that much, so she didn’t get to know the ins and outs of Louis like he wanted her to.
God, he missed her so much, but the thought passes quickly as Niall’s loud voice starts to invade his thoughts again.
“That’s nice, really. Wish I had the brains for that shit. I’m a lot better with a gun than a pen, I’ll tell ya that.” Niall says, resting his chin on his fist, “You’re real smart, Lou. I’m glad you’re here. You’re not like those other Costa cunts- ah, shit, I’m sorry Lou, forget I said that, alright? I just hate those guys, but you’re not at all like them, that’s why I’m saying it.” The blonde man goes on apologetically, his Irish accent flaring up as he tries to cover his ass.
Niall is a nice guy overall, but he’s very protective of his family and anyone can be a direct threat to that family. When he had heard Harry’s initial plan to “retrieve” Louis, the blond man was skeptical at first, but since meeting him and getting to know him, he has taken a liking to him. He was a sweet and sometimes scared kid, but he had good intentions. He could see why Boss had a thing for him.
Louis just shakes his head, hiding behind a soft smile. Maybe he should be more bothered with the way the Styles talk about his family, but as more time passes and he learns about all the horrible things they have done, he starts to be less sympathetic to his mean, abusive in-laws and husband.
“It’s alright, Niall, really, don’t apologize.” The blue-eyed boy insists, shrugging nonchalantly. “They weren’t that nice to me anyway. I don’t think I ever really fit in.” He puts his pen down, pausing his scientific train of thought, “Almost all of them were big, strong, mean Italian guys and here I am, skinny little English lad and the only big muscle in my body is my mouth. Even if I had known about what they were doing, there was no way I would be any good at it.” Louis hums quietly, thinking about all the meetings he had overheard, fights he had witnessed between other guys in his home, and the yelling matches he and Nico used to get in.
Niall nods as the younger boy speaks, listening intently. “I’m sure you’d be good at it, Lou, but it’s not something you wanna get involved with directly, I promise you that.” The Irish lad scoffs, shaking his head again, “It’s probably already bad enough for you as it is.” He stops to think for a moment, as if what he was about to say was appropriate, “You don’t have to answer if you don’t want… but did you and your husband fight, Louis?”
Louis stopped letting questions like that bother him a week and a half ago. After his bruises had been on display for everyone, there would obviously be questions and he was prepared to answer all of them.
How did it happen? When? Why? How often? Was he a drunk? Drugs?
He may have gotten beaten, but it didn’t make him a fucking priss.
“Yeah, we did. Do? Did. A lot, actually.” Louis chuckles at the thought, shaking his head, “Some of it goes back to me having a big mouth and a big attitude, really, but Nico is a hothead. And a drunk. So, we would yell back and forth, I’d try to fight back, but he was always bigger and stronger, so it’s not like my punches really made a difference. You saw what he did.” He goes on coldly, shrugging as if it didn’t matter that he had become a human punching bag for Nico. Niall is staring intently at him, wrapped up in the sad story that Louis and Nico were.
“It doesn’t bother me as much now. Sometimes I still can feel him, though. Or the memories get vivid and I… I don’t know what to do. I just lose it. It doesn’t happen that often though. I try not to let it. I don’t like feeling weak.” Louis goes on, thinking back to when Harry had him strip his shirt off and everyone could see his bruises. The embarrassment he felt was horrifying, but it wasn’t Harry’s fault. He was just trying to prove a point.
“Fuck, Niall, sorry for saying all that shit. That was stupid.” Louis says regretfully, picking up his pencil almost immediately to try and go back to his books, wanting to forget he had spilled any of those secrets.
Niall releases a breath he didn’t know he was holding, amazed that Louis had opened up. Those were probably the most words he had spoken in one sitting during his entire stay here thus far. “Thank you for sharing that with me, Louis, really. I mean it. That takes a lot of guts, more than me putting my gun to some guy’s head. Don’t be sorry, mate, I’m glad you told me.” He runs a hand through his blond hair, shaking his head at everything he’s heard from the younger boy.
The two sit in silence for a bit as Louis buries his nose in his studies, Niall watching closely while trying to find the right words to say.
“Do you miss him sometimes, Lou?” the older man blurts out, immediately cursing himself for letting his curiosity getting the best of him but watching closely for Louis’s reaction.
The younger one pauses just a second too long that gives away his answer. “I do, yeah,” he pauses again, trying to think of what to say, “I mean, he’s still my husband. I love him.” He goes on quietly, shrugging before glancing to the plain band adorned on his ring finger.
Niall had noticed the way Louis and his Boss had been acting the past two weeks. The blond lad had never seen anyone unnerve Harry the way that Louis was doing right now. And he wasn’t even directly doing anything. Maybe it had more to do with the fact that he wasn’t doing anything. Obviously, he tried to act unbothered by Louis ignoring him – he was their fearless, unbroken leader, after all – but there was something about Louis that could throw off Harry’s daily rhythm in a heartbeat.
It was fascinating.
“You know, Lou,” Niall starts up again, pushing the chair away from the table to stand, walking to the opposite end of the kitchen to the liquor rack, grabbing a glass, disregarding that it was only eleven in the morning, “Mr. Styles means well. He cares about you.” He says in-between his pour, turning around with his glass after finishing his statement. “He probably won’t ever say it outright, but it’s why he’s keeping you around. You’re the first…long-term guest we’ve had in a very long time.”
His voice is sweet, but Louis doesn’t know how to respond. What the hell does “long-term guest” mean? “What are you trying to say, Niall?” he asks innocently, pausing his notes again to look up at the blond man, eyebrow slightly raised.
Niall takes a sip of whiskey, a sly grin on his face. “Everything I just said,” He replies coolly, shrugging as if he has no idea what he’s talking about, “Don’t worry, Lou, you’ll figure it out for yourself.” He adds, face breaking into a wider smile. He throws back the rest of the whiskey, making a face as he does so before putting the dirty glass back on the counter. “I’ll see you later, Lou, got some, uh, errands today.” And just like that, the Irish man is out of the kitchen in a hurry, running up the stairs to another room before running right back down and out double-set of front doors. Louis watches the sequence in both confusion and amusement.
Now that he is alone again, Louis sighs softly, staring at the mess of books and paper in front of him. The words Niall said keep replaying in his mind. “Keeping me around?” the young boy whispers to himself, unable to keep his brain from drifting to images of being beaten and tortured, which may have been the fate of other prisoners brought back to the estate. He immediately shakes his head in attempts to get rid of such a horrible thought. Harry was ruthless, no doubt there, but like he said:
“I have nothing but the purest intentions for you.”
Regardless of whatever Harry wanted from Louis, he refused to play into his hands so easily. This man was used to having everything he ever wanted; just by looking at the place, the money, the clothes, the girls almost every man here had adorned on his arm, Louis could take a pretty educated guess to say he didn’t need something else handed to him.
Even if said “something” was Louis, and Louis was kidnapped against his will and being held in this house (although not against his will). Harry was going to have to earn Louis’s trust.
Hold on, Louis, are you hearing yourself? The young lad thought to himself, running both hands through his messy chestnut hair. He felt like he was going mad. “Who said I even like him?” he says aloud in near-disgust.
And, as fate would have it, a moment before the meetings let out and rumblings came from down the hall, unbeknownst to Louis who was too lost in his own crazy thoughts to realize people would soon be flooding the kitchen for drinks and light fare.
“What was that, babe, you alright?” Eleanor asks loudly with Harry following in step, raising an eyebrow at the stress-induced boy. She moves gracefully to the liquor counter, grabbing herself a drink while awaiting Louis’s response. His mouth just hangs open, unsure of what to say now that he’s been caught off-guard.
“You might wanna say something or just close your mouth, you’ll catch a fly in there that way.” Harry adds nonchalantly as Louis slams his jaw shut, the taller man proceeding to light a cigarette in the crowded kitchen. People were spilling over into the connected dining room as everyone moves around, pouring drinks and lighting cigars.
In front of his brigade, Harry is trying to act like Louis is nothing special and nothing more than just a simple guest to the Styles home (even if it couldn’t be further from the truth).
Harry was trying every day to talk to Louis, even if just for five minutes. He wanted Louis to trust him despite everything he had done. He wanted to show Louis that he was more than just a gangster, that there was more to him than money and killing. The older man wasn’t sure why he felt like he had to prove anything to Louis, but he knew that there was something tugging at his heart that told him that there was just something about Louis that drove Harry insane. And he loved it every second of it.
Even the agony of not having him.
Louis presses his lips together while trying to think of something, anything to say. He might also be somewhat distracted from the fact that Harry is only wearing a white tee with suspenders and plains slacks, so his toned arms are on full display.
But he’s definitely not staring, not at all.
“Oh! Uh, nothing, just thinking aloud, El, sorry.” he stammers, quickly gathering up his books and notes from the table to make room as some of the men started to sit down. Now seemed like the perfect time for an escape as he made the move to stand, retreat from the kitchen, and move to the safe space that was his bedroom.
“Leaving so soon, Louis?” Harry asks quietly, grabbing the younger man’s arm gently but with a stern hand, “The fun has just started. We’re having a few drinks here then heading down to the pub for the rest of the evening. If you’d like to join, of course.”
The touch on his arm is enough to send Louis blushing, feeling as though everyone in the room knew about what had happened weeks ago. “It’s okay, really, I’m not really into parties or anything.” He pauses, biting on his lip in a nervous fit, “I’ve never really drank before, actually.”
Harry nearly swallows the cigarette between his lips, coughing out smoke into the kitchen. Some of the nearby men witnessing it start to laugh and make jokes, but the curly-haired man ignores them.
“You’ve never had a drink? Not one?” Harry asks incredulously, placing a hand over his heart as if he’s just been stabbed in the chest. “You, Louis…” he trails off, not wanting to use his taken last name.
“Tomlinson. Use Tomlinson. My maiden name.” the younger boy interjects, shrugging, slightly annoyed that he won't just fucking say his proper last name, “If that’s more comfortable for you.” he adds with an eye roll for effect.
Harry marvels at the beautiful last name, “Louis Tomlinson!”, letting the L’s roll of his tongue with a cheeky grin, “Have not once drank? Been drunk? How old are you, for Christ’s sake?”, meanwhile others in the room start to listen in on the conversation, raising their eyebrows upon hearing of such borderline-ridiculous news.
Louis glances around the kitchen before looking back at Harry, pleading with his eyes for him to just quiet down. He didn’t realize that it was so customary to drink, but Nico didn’t let him and growing up he didn’t have a lot of money, let alone enough to spare for even the cheapest whiskey.
“Twenty-two.” He replies quietly, embarrassed knowing that most men in England had been drinking since they were probably fifteen.
The gangster’s face curls into a mischievous grin.
“You,” Harry points to the younger boy, blowing smoke into the open room before continuing, “Are coming with us whether you like it or not.”
Before Louis has the chance to decline and run up to his room, Harry just keeps talking and turning up his charm and, suddenly, the hand resting on the younger’s arm feels like its burning a hole right through his skin. “We’re heading out at twenty two hours, dress in something nice, but not too nice, of course. Don’t make me come up there and get you either because you will be having your first drink with me tonight.” And with a wink, Harry releases him and gets lost amongst the small crowd, moving to talk about any matters carrying over from the meeting and mingling with some of the men before they go home to their families.
Louis sighs quietly, unable to fathom what he’s just gotten himself into, all while catching eyes with Eleanor and Niall who are whispering to each other (quite obviously) about the two of them. He tries to shoot them a glare but can’t help but shake his head lovingly at their excited faces.
This doesn’t change a thing, Louis thinks as he makes his way back to his bedroom, clutching his books tight to his chest as he shuffles through all of the large bodies. I’m still upset with him. Angry even. He’s got no right doing any of this.
Yet, oddly enough, there was a wave of excitement rushing over him. Maybe it was because of the freedom of it all, not being under someone’s immediate harsh hand. Maybe it was the idea of having alcohol for the first time in his young life and finally relishing in the hype of it.
Maybe it was being with Harry.
No, definitely not that, he thinks. Not at all.