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What I Do For A Living

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Manchester, UK

1924

-

Louis hears the front door slam from upstairs.

Nico is home and, from the sound of it, he isn’t too happy. He is already on the phone with someone else, shouting words in a language – Italian, he assumes – that he doesn’t know so he cannot understand what Nico is so angry about. The fire behind his voice is enough for Louis to know he should wait a few minutes to greet his husband. Or wait until he is called upon.

Nico and his “coworkers” as he calls them had organized a raid today against their long-time enemies, Louis couldn’t quite remember their last names. He tried to remain uninvolved in Nico’s whole “company” as he calls it because Nico doesn’t want to get him wrapped up in. “It’s too dangerous, baby, don’t want you getting hurt.” He told Louis once. Louis doesn’t really know what they do, but sometimes Nico comes home pretty banged up so its up to him to tend to his wounds. Whatever it is he does, it allows the two of them to live a lavish lifestyle.

At the young age of twenty-two, Louis has seen a lot of the world. They have travelled all across Europe, even to the States for a few important business meetings, as Nico calls them. He didn’t understand where the money came from, but Louis knew better than to ask too many questions regarding Nico’s line of work.

Louis spends most of his days at home without ever leaving their apartment. He has to find ways to make himself useful while Nico is away during the week. Sundays are the only days where Louis gets Nico to himself for the entire day, but even then, an ambush could ruin the Sabbath day for him. He doesn’t understand why these attacks happen or for what reason. He doesn’t understand why Nico is fighting these bad men – “stupid fucking cunt bastards” – he refers to them usually.

The yelling from downstairs has ceased, so Louis assumes it is safe for him to venture down there and try to ease whatever is bringing Nico so much stress. He tiptoes quietly down the stairs.

“Nico?” he calls out, timid as a rabbit, “How are you? Are you okay?”

He turns left down a hallway towards the kitchen, Nico’s back facing him. He’s quiet, not answering either question Louis asked him. Instead of a verbal reply, he slams his fist on the counter, earning a frightened squeak out of the cinnamon-haired boy.

“Am I okay? Really, Louis, god-fucking-dammit, what a dumbass question.” Nico snaps back at the boy. Louis starts to shake slightly; no matter what he says or how he says it, anything he does could tick his husband off.

Nico turns around, revealing quite a nasty gash on his cheekbone. It stretched from right under the corner of his eye to his jaw. It was still bleeding, dribbling down his chin onto his suit jacket. He doesn’t bother to wipe the blood clean, instead opting to spit a combination of blood and saliva onto their kitchen floor. “Now, clean that up, won’t you? Make yourself fucking useful since you haven’t even fixed me something to eat, Jesus, Louis what do I keep you around here for?” he goes on, banging his fist down on the counter again. Louis is just glad it isn’t his skin that the fist is colliding with.

Immediately, Louis goes to clean up the spit on the floor, grabbing a towel and wiping it quickly before standing up and shaking off the insults Nico has just spit at him. He pretends he didn’t hear him; he knows that Nico isn’t annoyed with him, really, he just had a rough day at work.

Although it did seem like every day was a rough day for Nico.

“I’m sorry, Nico, you got home earlier t-than I thought, so I didn’t have the time yet.” He stammers, placing a hand on his lover’s uninjured cheek, trying to rid himself of the nervous feeling he felt. “Do you want me to get something to clean that with? I’ll bandage it up f-for you? I cleaned the entire house today, scrubbed the tub in our bathroom, maybe y-you’d like a bath once I fix this for yo-“

“No, Louis, I don’t need a fucking bath, I just want you to fucking fix this, since it’s all you seem to be good for.” He snaps, pointing to his gash, simultaneously grabbing Louis by his neck. Louis whimpers quietly, staring right back with his own chocolate orbs. “I don’t give a fuck that you cleaned the house today, that’s what I expect you to do while I’m out working hard so we can have a good life, Louis.” He releases him after that, dismissing him with a wave of his hand. Louis tries to recover quickly, wiping the tears that have begun to well up before sprinting back up the steps to their en suite bathroom, grabbing the medical supplies necessary to fix his husband’s wound.

When he comes back downstairs, Nico seems to have calmed down considerably. He’s now shedding his blood-stained suit jacket off his shoulders, throwing it on the chair nearby. Louis watches as he starts to undo his waistcoat, loosening his tie. He runs a golden hand through his raven hair, letting a deep sigh out of his chest. Louis takes the time to appreciate his beauty before he notices that he’s staring.

Nico is all muscle, bronze skin, and gorgeous dark hair. He keeps it clean cut yet long on top, just long enough so Louis can still run his fingers through it. His eyes are beautiful hazel orbs that could hypnotize anyone, male or female. Before Louis, Nico had been quite the ladies man. Why he had settled for someone like Louis, the younger man could never guess. Nico always said it was because Louis was “a good boy, so beautiful, so obedient, my little pet” although he wasn’t so sure about the whole “beautiful part”. A lady could never keep Nico satisfied quite like Louis could.

Louis breaks his own train of thought and quietly approaches his husband, not wanting to upset him anymore today than he already has.

“I’m sorry, Nico, I’ve got everything to fix the wound, I love you.” He murmurs quietly. Surprisingly enough, the older man turns around and takes him into his arms, kissing the top of his head, being careful to not get blood on his silky brown hair. Louis senses the guilt he feels for having yelled at him. Maybe he should be more upset with him than he is, but Louis has never been one to hold grudges. He loves Nico very much, or else he wouldn’t have married him just five months ago. He works so hard and does so many things for him. Maybe Louis isn’t grateful enough, that has to be it.

“I’m so sorry for yelling at you like that, baby, I love you so much, you have no goddamn idea, you’re too good for me, I’m a piece of shit.” He grabs the boy under his chin roughly and kisses him, teeth mashing against Louis’s. “I can’t believe you married a sonuva bitch like me, you’re too good for me, baby.”

All Louis can do is blush and look down, embarrassed at how Nico is gushing over him. He loves when Nico shows him affection and shows he cares about him because it only happens once in a blue moon. The younger boy has grown so used to Nico coming home angry for a number of reasons. Maybe a raid will have gone haywire, or maybe they lost money. Those are just the reasons he hears Nico complain about in English, the rest in Italian so Louis cannot understand. A guy could just look at Nico the wrong way and he’d be in a horrible mood.

Louis smiles down at the floor before looking back up at the older man, kissing him again gently.

“It’s okay, Nico, you know I’ll always forgive you.” He whispers, smiling shyly at him. He pulls away to grab the tools he needs from the medical kit – he’s gotten a lot of practice with this by now. He just wished Nico would tell him where he goes during the day, who he’s fighting, why he gets so banged up.

For now, Louis lets it go.

“Now let me stitch you up, then I’ll make dinner.”

Chapter Text

The younger boy was woken up by his husband around eight that next morning.

Louis was excited for today because it was Sunday. The Holy Day of the Lord, the Sabbath, whatever you want to call it. Besides the fact that Louis was a devout Catholic – thanks to the few years of religious education he received and realizing he loved Jesus – he got to spend nearly the whole day with his husband.

After the wedding and honeymoon, it felt like Nico Costa had disappeared into thin air. Louis knew what he was getting in to, marrying a wealthy and successful businessman, but he didn’t expect to see him this little. He always felt like work was first and Louis was second, especially when Nico refused to share the details of his work life with his lover. It felt like there was a wall between them, one Louis so badly wanted to break down but Nico just kept building up higher and higher.

“C’mon, boy, we only got an hour before we gotta go.” Nico whispers in his ear, biting and tugging on his earlobe to earn a small mewl out of the boy. Louis didn’t always appreciate being woken up with sexual acts, but he never dared to complain.

“Kinda hard for me to get ready with you in my ear.” He whispers, moaning softly as Nico moves to press his lips against Louis’s neck. He could feel Nico pressing against his thigh, making Louis instantly nervous, but his husband didn’t seem to sense his discomfort with the situation unfolding. “N-Nico, please, n-not now, I-I have to get ready, l-like you said.” He whimpers quietly, placing a hand on the older man’s chest.

Nico just snickers against his neck. “Baby, you’ll have enough time. Besides, can’t have you lookin’ too good, now. You’re just for me, il mio ragazzo, wouldn’t want one of those fucking Styles getting any ideas.” He growls, moving to crush his lips against Louis, whimpering in response, but cannot fight when Nico forces his tongue past his teeth, licking all over his pearly whites.

Tears start to bubble and drip down Louis’s face. He knows he told Nico about what’s happened to him, right? He remembers? Or maybe he just forgot, he’s got so many other important things to worry about that it just slipped from memory. Louis tries to remain calm, forcing the other memories out of his head.

The younger boy feels Nico’s hand slide down to his boxers, gripping him between the fabric. Louis loses it. “N-Nico, p-please, I d-don’t want to, I-I can’t, p-p-please don’t make me.” Louis cries out, his baby blues glassy with tears, struggling to push Nico off him.

For perhaps the first time ever, Nico doesn’t say anything. He sits up and wipes his mouth, just looking at Louis in his blubbering state. “Fucking hell, Lou, alright, you don’t have to fucking cry about it. Just go get dressed.” He spits at him, clearly annoyed with the lack of sexual services he has received this morning. Louis wipes his eyes before getting up from their bed, nearly tripping over the sheets he has wrapped himself in.

-

Louis and Nico are quite the beautiful couple, each accentuating each other’s features wonderfully. Louis is shorter than his husband, his frame similar to that of a woman. His waist was small, yet his hips flared out just slightly to give him some curve. His skin was tanned, shining and soft in the dim light of the candles lighting up the chapel. His hair was a gorgeous cinnamon color that sometimes fell down in front of his eyes. It was getting a little long on top, but he didn’t mind. Today he’s wearing an all-black suit paired with a black waistcoat that hugged his perfect figure in all the right places. Louis might not know it, but he was the envy of every man and woman who couldn’t help but be mesmerized by his angelic beauty.

Nico was more rugged than Louis was, more muscle and taller than the younger boy. He wore a similar to suit to Louis: all black, the lone difference being the maroon tie. You would’ve thought they were attending a funeral. His jawline was strong with black stubble dotted along it, some also found on his cheeks. Nico’s amber orbs danced beautifully in the light, capturing the air from any poor soul’s lungs who dared to peer into them. His skin was also tanned, darker than Louis thanks to his Italian roots. He was beautiful, it was almost sinful. He was hell’s temptation, charming and beautiful and articulate.

But he most certainly wouldn’t hesitate to burn you to the ground.
-

Church was uneventful for the most part. Nico hadn’t spoken much to him, seeming very interested in the service and the hymns being sung. The boy tried to just hold Nico’s hand while they listened to the priest speak, but Nico pulled his hand away, sneering quietly at him to which Louis frowned. Louis tried not to be bothered by it, but it was difficult not to be. The younger man’s husband always did this when he didn’t get his way: just shut Louis out until he apologized profusely and gave Nico what he wanted in the end.

The Styles family had been at the same chapel as them once again, an occurrence that just recently began a few weeks ago. Louis remembers about a month ago when they began to attend their church, Nico was outraged. He spat on the ground, cursed their names, and wished death upon all of them. The younger boy decided to assume that this was the rival company; who they lost money to, who caused Nico so much stress and grief.

He didn’t understand how Nico could hate them so much. From the minimal encounters he had with them, they seemed nice enough. Plus they were all stunning, even the ones who didn’t seem to be part of the family. Perfect porcelain skin with light features, some with chestnut brown hair, some blonde. One man wore tanned skin and darker features; Louis assumed he was simply a friend. Sometimes Louis caught himself starring at them from across the pew, mesmerized by each person’s unique beauty.

Once they exited the church, Louis grabbed Nico’s wrist as they shuffled into their black Buick. Their next destination was Pellegrino’s for lunch with the rest of the “famiglia”, one of the only authentic Italian restaurants in Britain that satisfied Nico. It was their tradition, always after church services, every Sunday.

“What is your deal, Nico,” he starts, trying to prevent tears from forming in his eyes. He’s rather terrible at being stern with his husband. “Christ, you don’t have to be so cold towards me just because I wouldn’t fuck you right before church, you know how I get. I told you what happened to me and, and you don’t even care.”

Once the car door closes behind him, Nico grabs a fistful of his hair, pulling him in close so that their noses are almost touching. That angry glint his back in his hazel orbs; if looks could kill, his husband would be guilty of murdering the poor boy.

“How dare you fucking speak to me like that, after all I do for you. I ask you for one thing and you want to throw a fit about it?” Louis is close enough to smell the scent of whiskey on his breath, frightening the younger boy even more. Nico told Louis he had stopped drinking because it turned him into someone else, someone that Louis didn’t fall in love with.

“Don’t you ever say I don’t give a shit about you, you ungrateful piece of shit,” he smacks Louis swiftly across the face, causing the boy to cry out. He can’t move, still caught in his husband’s grip, “I work so hard for you, for the both of us. See this car we’re in? The house we live in? The places we go? The food we eat? All because of me, Louis.” He spits at the scared boy, who has tears running down his cheeks. He knows Nico is right, nodding silently. “And I saw you looking at those fucking scum, don’t think I didn’t notice, you like one of ‘em? You sneakin’ behind my back, are you now, making eyes with that fucking-“ He’s thankful when the car finally comes to a stop, relief washing over him as he knows they’ll be in the public eye in about thirty seconds. Nico releases him, but gives him a fiery look to tell him that this conversation wasn’t over.

-

The restaurant is dimly-lit despite it being the middle of the day, with not a soul in the place except for the staff. Every Sunday it looks the same, because the entire Costa family nearly fills the place. Wine and bread are already set up on the tables.

“Good afternoon, Don de la Costa,” the host greets Louis’s husband, “We hope you enjoy your time here with your famiglia, sir.”

Nico just smirks and nods at the gentlemen near the podium before grabbing Louis’s hand and pulling him to their table. They sit down and start to make small talk with the other members of the family, Louis finding a spot next to Nico’s cousin, Suzanna. She had become one of Louis’s best friends after meeting Nico and he remains grateful that he has at least one friend to confide in about the things his husband does and says to him.

“Louis, mi amore, you’ve got to stop letting him push you around,” she whispers to him, pouring herself a glass of wine, “You’re so strong, you give him too much power, as if he needs any more than he already has!”

The boy sighs quietly, feeling defeated. He takes a small piece of bread, dipping it in the oil while he waits for their food to arrive. Nico is too preoccupied to hear the conversation he is having, telling jokes to his brothers in Italian so he cannot laugh along as well.

“I know, I know, I-I do try. But he’s just so much stronger than me and he just confuses me so easily with some of the things he says and I don’t know-“

All conversation comes to a stop when the front door of the restaurant rings.

Nico stands up swiftly, wine glass in hand, about to shatter the damn thing when he sees who is standing in the door frame.

Chapter Text

“Oh dear, I hope we haven’t interrupted.”

 

The man in the doorway is holding a cigarette between his fingers, taking a puff and blowing the smoke into the restaurant. Not another soul has spoken since he has. Instead, nearly the entire family had moved their hands to their belts, hiding various weapons. Precautionary, of course.

 

The curly-haired man chuckles as he watches the family reach for their weapons, holding up his hands in defense, cigarette still breathing between his long fingers.

 

“Relax, relax, not here to cause any trouble, now, can’t a man just get a bite to eat?” He asks to nobody, innocently, moving the cancer stick back between his lips and letting it rest there.

 

Louis is stunned by the man in the doorway. It’s him, it’s one of the Styles. From church, one of the men he couldn’t help but stare at. The others are behind him as well, Louis assumes they are his coworkers. Behind the line of men are people who look like Harry, similar porcelain skin with light eyes and chestnut hair. Nico mistakes this awe for fear and sets down his glass violently, sloshing the red liquid onto the ivory tablecloth.

 

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing here, Styles, ain’t nobody welcome here but us, you ingrate.” Nico spits at him, his pistol pointed right at the young bloke’s head. Louis squirms uncomfortably in his chair, hoping and praying that Nico wouldn’t dare pull the trigger.

 

The beautiful man takes off his flat cap, revealing a mess of curls that seemed anything but professional. Louis was all the more intrigued. The mysterious man chuckles again under his breath, seeming unnerved by the fact that the barrel of a gun was pointed right at his cranium. He puts the cigarette out against a plant by the door, leaving it there to die.

 

“Nico, dear, would you put the weapon down? You’re scaring your boy over there,” the man takes a glance at Louis, looking at him for a bit longer than he should have. It was his first time getting a proper look at him. Nico loved to shack the boy up, hiding him away from everyone.

 

“Don’t fucking look at him, you prick. And it’s fucking Don de la Costa to you.” Nico’s skin is glowing red with anger. How dare this bastard step foot in this restaurant, his fucking restaurant on the Holy day. Some fucking nerve.

 

“You seem to have forgotten that I’m married, dear Nico, I’m not here to steal your husband away” the green-eyed man states, holding his hand up to reveal a golden wedding band on his hand. It glimmers in the light. “And I thought you would have learned by now I will never show you that kind of respect. I am not of your heritage, nor do I care so much as to give a damn about what they call you in Italia, so I’ll call you by your name, thank you very much.” He smirks matter-of-factly.

 

Louis can’t believe Nico hasn’t blown his fucking head off yet.

 

The man takes a step forward while the rest of his crew stays back, hands in their waistcoats. Louis guesses that they too are armed, though he can’t imagine why all of these people would need guns in the streets of Manchester.

 

“I thought we could all share a meal together today, Costa,” he pulls out another cigarette, setting it aglow between his lips. “Can’t we eat side by side, be civil, we’re so well behaved in the chapel, why don’t we carry that over to this lovely restaurant, ah?” the man proposes to Nico, walking closer to him with that shit-eating smile on his face. Nico has yet to put the weapon down, nor has the rest of the family. Louis and Suzanna just look to each other, fear in the poor boy’s eyes. He just doesn’t want anyone to get hurt.  “Wouldn’t want to cause a scene, now, would we?”

 

Nico knows that the Styles family is bigger than his own. If a gun war were to break out in this restaurant right now, they would all be shot dead. The Italian man slowly puts his gun away, as does the rest of the company. At that moment, the rest of the Styles clan enters the restaurant, intermingling with the Costas as they tried to find seats.

 

The curly-haired man pulls up a chair in between Louis and Suzanna. His husband growls beside him, roughly snatching Louis’s hand into his own.  The pale man laughs, ignoring Nico for the time being.

 

“Is it alright if I sit here… Louis, is it? Right, yes, well, if you would like me to sit somewhere else, I will happily oblige.” The young man smiles at the younger boy, “Nico, I won’t remind you again, I simply want to properly meet your lovely boy.”

 

Louis glances at his husband, who takes the time to lean in and whisper into his ear.

 

“If he so much as touches you in any way that you don’t like, you let me know, I’ll blow his fucking brains out, baby.” Nico grunts into his ear before letting him turn back to the nice man. He spoke so kindly to him and they had never even met. He didn’t understand why Nico despised him so much.

 

“I-It’s alright, yeah, of course, have a seat.” He responds quietly, smiling up into his emerald orbs. My God, he was even prettier up close. Louis suddenly felt inferior, what with this gentleman’s pearly whites, beautiful skin, and such wonderful manners. His hair was longer than most women he knew, but it suited him so well.

 

“Louis, so wonderful to finally meet you. Congratulations on your marriage,” he sits down in the chair he has pulled beside Louis, pausing to glance at Nico who is already preoccupied with his brothers once again, “So wonderful, really, seeing two people who love each other tie the knot.” he grins, helping himself to the wine on the table. Louis senses sarcasm in his statement, but brushes it aside. Everyone else around them stiffens at the man’s apparent comfort. “I’m Harold, by the way, you can call me Harry though, love.”

 

Louis smiles sweetly at him. He finally has a name to the face. Harry. It fit him well, he thought. His voice was a breath of warm, fresh air, light and sweet and filled with excitement on every syllable. It had been what felt like decades since he had last heard his own accent spoken back to him, what with Nico being from the States.

 

“Harry, lovely to meet you,” he replies quietly, blushing when Harry picks up his hand, placing the tanned one between his own porcelain ones. Louis feels his heart pick up pace and the room is suddenly ten degrees hotter. Why he’s getting so nervous, Louis doesn’t know but he can’t stop his reactions. He notes the golden wedding band again. “Congratulations t-to you as well on your, y-you know, your marriage as well. Quite lovely.”

 

Harry chuckles, amused with the cute boy. He reminded Harry of a small child, unsure of himself and what to do in certain social situations. It only seemed fair, since this was one of the few times he had gotten the chance to interact with Nico’s husband. “Thank you, love, four years strong.” He leans in just a tad closer to Louis, Louis’s eyes widening slightly. “No need to be afraid of me, dear, I don’t bite much.”

 

Louis stares back at the beautiful man, unsure of what to say next. He was easily intimidated, and, from the look of his outfit and his bejeweled fingers, Harry must be important. Maybe he was the boss of his company, too.

 

“So, um, where is your wife, if you don’t mind me asking?”

 

Harry bursts into hysterical laughter, silencing the other conversations occurring around them. He eventually calms down, wiping the tears from his eyes. Louis is startled, trying to figure out if he said something funny.

 

“My wife? Oh Louis, darling, I haven’t been with a woman since I was maybe twelve!” he starts to laugh loudly again, nearly falling out of his chair before finding his composure again. When he sees that Louis doesn’t understand what he’s saying, he gives him that same stupid grin as he lowers his voice. He adjusts his tie, crossing one leg over the other. “I’m gay, love, as gay as they come. My husband is away on business in Birmingham. Small Heath, doing some negotiations, if you will.”

 

“Oh, um, I’m sorry, I-I didn’t mean any disrespect, sir-“

 

SIR?!” Harry falls into another laughing fit, this time reaching for his wine glass and taking a large gulp on his laughing has subsided. “Love, please, I don’t think anything of it. You didn’t know, and please, for the love of Our Lord, just call me Harry!” he assures him, this time placing a loving hand on his knee. In the short time Harry has spoken to the boy, he is growing increasingly fond of him.

 

Nico has been watching their encounter quietly, rage flaring inside him when he sees that Styles is still holding his husband’s hand and is being seemingly flirtatious with his boy. Once his hand touches his knee, the older man decides that he’s had enough.

 

“C’mon, Louis, we’re going.” Nico snaps, grabbing Louis by the arm and practically ripping him out of his seat.

 

“Nico, dear, we were just having a nice conversation, what’s the rush-“

 

“Cut the shit, Styles, find somewhere else for lunch next time or I’ll smear your brains all over this goddamn place.”

 

Harry sighs, running a hand through his locks, unbothered by his death threat. “I’m sure you won’t, love, but I’ll take note. Louis, it was lovely meeting you, we should do it again sometime.” He sends a wink Louis’s way to purposely piss of Nico, the other man’s head about to damn near burst.

 

Louis shakes under his husband’s grip, watching the scene unfold between Nico and Harry. He doesn’t understand why Nico has to speak like that to Harry when the other is so composed.

 

He can feel the bruise already forming from the pressure of his husband’s fingers. The couple scurries into their black Buick, back to their home. For the rest of the day, Louis is unable to rid his mind of the chestnut curls and emerald eyes.

Chapter Text

The following week was rather uneventful, for which Louis was grateful. Nico passes out in their bed almost immediately after eating most nights, tired from the daily events. Work has been busy this week, from what his husband tells the younger boy, and Nico doesn’t go too much deeper into it than that. He is thankful that his husband has not come back banged up recently; he hopes this means the dispute between the Styles company has been settled.

Louis thinks about Harry more than he would like to admit. He doesn’t know why – he loves Nico very much – but he just finds himself so intrigued by him. An air of mystery surrounds him, despite his extroverted nature. Louis couldn’t help but be inherently curious since he spent most of his days cooped up in the house. It would be nice to have another friend besides Suzanna in his life and Harry seemed like he could fit the part. Not that Nico would ever actually let him befriend the curly-haired man, but it was nice to think about.

Louis stays up for a few more hours after Nico has fallen asleep that evening, reading in their study room downstairs. A candle is lit beside him, feeling at ease knowing that Nico is asleep and won’t be bothering him until the morning. It feels terrible to think, that Nico could ever be a nuisance to Louis, but if he was stressed from work, Louis was the last person who wanted to be in his husband’s way.

It wasn’t until half an hour later that Louis realized he hadn’t actually read a single word from the pages he was flipping. It happened often, his mind wandering to other places. The gears in his brain turned the most at night when he was alone, no one but him and his thoughts and no one to tell them to. Not that Nico would really listen to him anyway.

Louis thought about Nico’s profession the most. More so, what he didn’t know about his husband’s job. The long hours, the weapons, the occasional fight and injuries that Louis treated without question. If he tried to inquire, the boy was screamed at and told ‘Not to worry about it’. But he was always so eager to learn more, which is one of the reasons he liked to stay up at night. If he was quiet enough, he could try and rummage through Nico’s things. He could never find much, just guns he didn’t know how to use or documents written in Italian. It frustrated Louis that Nico didn’t let him know more about his business.

But he would keep trying.

 

-

 

His train of thought gets interrupted when he hears knocking from the front door.

Louis checks the clock sitting on the fire place mantle, seeing its already two o’clock in the morning. His eyebrows furrow, wondering what someone could need at such an hour. They rarely had visitors at this time and the only visitors they ever had were Nico’s coworkers.

The young boy doesn’t get up right away to answer the door, hearing mutterings outside the door. He thinks they’re speaking in English, but their whispers are so quiet Louis must strain to hear what they’re saying.

“You sure this is the place, boss? Seems too nice to be a Costa living here.”

“Shut the fuck up, Jesus Christ, how are you not fucking dead yet-“

“I’ll slit both of your throats if you don’t shut your fucking mouths.”

Louis freezes in the armchair, hands gripping the armrests until his knuckles turn white. He wonders what the people behind the door could want, but he definitely doesn’t feel comfortable opening the door this late. He sets his book down, grabbing his candlestick while taking slow steps towards their front door. Louis just wanted to peek through the peephole, then decide if he had to get Nico or not.

The boy’s arms are quaking with fear, trying not to make a sound. Without having to try all that hard, Louis proves to be severely clumsy and ends up knocking his shin against the side table the candle was just resting on, crying out in pain.

Not too long after, the front door bursts open and Louis nearly drops the burning flame to the ground. He can’t recognize any faces, but there’s at least four or five of them in his foyer, too frightened to do much but stand there. The candle clatters on the hardwood, one of the intruders stepping on the flame to put it out. It’s too dark now for Louis to see who trespasses into their home, especially after the blindfold is wrapped around the complacent boy’s eyes.

“If you scream, I’ll spray your brains all over this goddamn room.” A voice whispers in his ears as his wrists are grabbed roughly behind him, tied uncomfortable above the small of his back.

He whimpers quietly, nodding in confirmation to the unfamiliar voice, hoping that Nico has heard the ruckus occurring just a floor below him. The English he first heard as become a language he is unfamiliar with, yet aware that it is not Italian. Orders are being barked in a loud whisper and within a few seconds, Louis’s is being shuffled forward by a man much stronger than him.

A blast of cold air hits him, Louis being forced into the outdoors by the intruders. It’s mid-November, autumn nearing its end as the rustic leaves continue to gather on the ground and the temperature continues to drop. Louis cries quietly, too scared to ask where he is being taken or why this is happening to him.

“Quickly! Get in, get in!” a voice shouts in English this time just as Louis’s head is being shoved down into a vehicle. The voice is strong, deep, accent similar to his own, but his brain is too rattled to try and determine who in the fuck is kidnapping him.

The engine roars to life and the boy is thrown back into his seat as the car speeds away from the house. Louis remains clueless as to why this is happening, growing increasingly frantic with the passing seconds. He tries to decipher through every action he’s performed in the past six days that may have, in some way, bothered someone enough that they would feel the need to steal the boy away from his home. When he realizes that he barely left the house within that timeframe, Louis decides to think of something, anything, to say to these people that would perhaps get him released.

Or killed, really; that was the other possibility.

“W-What the hell do you want? I didn’t fucking do anything,” Louis says, trying to sound stern but instead letting the fear he feels creep into his voice, shaking his words the same way his fingers are behind his back. Good one, Louis, they’re really gonna let you go now.

Instead of receiving an answer, Louis is swiftly cracked across the face, crying out.

“Shut the fuck up, Christ.” The same unfamiliar voice shouts at him, shoving him roughly against the car door. His head hits the window hard, feeling a warm liquid drip down his face. Black creeps around the edges of his vision and the sound he hears slowly drifts from him as he falls into unconsciousness.

 

-

 

He’s in the dark. Again.

Except this time there is no blindfold, simply just a pitch-black room. He might have well been placed in a freezer with how frigid the room is. Clearly no one gave a shit if Louis froze to death in this place.

Despite the lack of light, the young boy’s head is pounding. Louis groans softly, trying to grab and hold his head until he realizes that his hands are bound tightly behind him. His ankles are too bound in thick rope, unable to do much unless he decided to make like an inchworm and slide himself across the floor which wouldn’t get him too far. He briefly remembers the car ride, recalling that his head had been practically smashed against the window for no goddamn reason. He’s part annoyed at that, but is mostly about to piss himself in fear.

A door opens and light floods into the room from the hallway. Louis begins to quake all over again, shutting his eyes as the light assaults his eyes. He doesn’t know how long he’s been in the room, but he’s just tired and feels ill and just wants to go home.

“P-Please let me go, I-I haven’t done anything, I d-don’t know anything, you can have anything, I’m sorry.” He cries quietly, flinching away from the body moving towards him, afraid of being hit again. Louis desperately wished he was more confident like Nico and not so… weak in the face of danger. Oh God, Nico, what if they come for him next?

“Good God, I’m real sorry, lad, I don’t know what got into my friend there,” the Irish boy whispers quietly to the younger boy. What in the hell had Zayn done to the poor boy? They had strict orders from boss to keep the boy unharmed, yet here he was with angry, chaffed wrists and dried blood on his forehead. Even worse, he had fallen back on the bed he was placed on, trying to inch away despite only trying to help. Although, Niall thinks, he would be reacting the same way if he had just been kidnapped from his home without warning. “Hey, pal, I really am sorry about Zayn, he’s got a poor temper but,” he pauses, reaching behind the boy to untie his wrists.

Louis opens his eyes and allows them to adjust to the light. His eyes are still glassy but through the tears stands a small blonde boy, built similar to Louis except a bit more muscular. His face is soft and gentle as he unties his wrists, Louis pulling them to his chest immediately while rubbing the injured skin.

“Sit up now, c’mon,” the blonde boy whispers to Louis, helping him up into a sitting position, “Now if I untie your ankles too, you have to promise me you won’t run. I know it’s a fucked up thing we’ve done, taking you and all, but if you try to run I would be afraid to shoot you in the leg,” He goes on matter-of-factly, as if shooting someone was the most casual thing in the world, “And boss would not like if I did that to ya.”

Louis nods slowly, still whimpering quietly. He rubs the tears away from his eyes, wondering what he did to deserve to be in this current situation. This would be just his luck.

The blonde boy squats down to untie the younger boy’s ankles, not as injured as his wrists but still feeling sore. He then walks over, flipping a switch to finally light the room. It’s dim in here, definitely meant to be romantic, but Louis feels far from comfortable in the strange bedroom.

“Thank you,” Louis murmurs, moving his legs so that they are crossed indian-style, looking around on the bed. The comforter is a deep chocolate color, the pillows behind him white with matching brown detailing on the front of them. The bed itself feels massive to Louis. He guesses that it must be California King, or even bigger somehow. The floor is hardwood, a similar color to that of the sheets. The walls are dark gray that is dangerously close to black, the color of the Costas, but are just off. It’s a gorgeous room, but it is alien to Louis. His heart has not yet ceased its loud thumping, the sound of blood pumping filling his ears.

“No problem, lad,” the Irish man responds with a smile. Louis notes that he looks younger than him because he looks so boyish, his all-teeth grin slightly lopsided paired with a mop of white-blonde hair on his head. “I’m Niall, by the way, figured you should know since I’m the one helping your ass out and all,” he says, the irony in the situation causing him to chuckle.

“Niall,” Louis repeats, letting the “L” fall off his tongue slowly.

“And you’re Louis, if I’m correct,” Niall says before the young boy can get another word out, that same lopsided grin on his face. “I’m gonna go grab boss, you gotta stay here though. The doors are guarded so if you try to run, like I said, they’ll probably just shoot you and we don’t want that happening, now, do we?” Niall says, laughing as if he just told Louis a funny joke. He gets up from his spot on the bed and darts out of the room, leaving Louis to his own devices.

He sits there dumbfounded, partially confused as shit and partially scared shitless. The Niall fellow looked so familiar, but Louis couldn’t place a finger on why he recognized his face. He blamed it on the fact that his head was still pounding. He wanted nothing more than to go home, growing more anxious with each passing minute.

Instead, Louis just puts his head down and starts to weep. He just hopes Nico wakes up soon, realizes Louis is absent, sees the damage downstairs, and somehow finds where he is and saves him.

Meanwhile, voices are speaking beyond the bedroom doors.

“He’s in there boss, look, I’m very sorry about hurting the boy, I-I didn’t mean i-“

“Don’t fucking apologize to me, Zayn. I gave you strict instructions to keep the boy unharmed. So, naturally, you defy me and smash his head against the fucking window.”

“Sir, it was a mistake, I’m so sor-“

There is a loud crunch, presumably bone, with a pained cry following. Blood gushes from the center of Zayn’s face, his nose split down the middle.

“Get him out of my sight. I’ll deal with him later.”

The door opens again, quietly enough that Louis cannot hear over his sobs. Instead of getting up to try and, I don’t know, beat the shit out whoever walked into the room, Louis can’t stop crying. He feels so pathetic – not that he’d be able to beat someone up anyway because he knows he’s the size of a toothpick – but Louis didn’t even feel inspired to try. This is simply another unfortunate event in the life of Louis Costa.

“Hello, Louis. Lovely seeing you again. I apologize for the circumstances, really, but there’s something we have to discuss.”

The younger boy looks up to meet emerald eyes, the same ones he had been dreaming thinking about this entire week. He doesn’t know whether to be afraid or relieved, tears still dribbling down his scarlet cheeks.

“Harry?”

Chapter Text

“Louis.”

The name falls from Harry’s lips so easily, smooth as silk.

Harry is dressed similarly to how Louis saw him last time: dark grey suit, close to the color of charcoal. His waistcoat matches, and he wears a white button-up, no tie this time. The older man skipped the hat this time as well, his curls flowing freely down past his ears. Louis can't ignore how wonderful he looks. He tries to shake the Stockholm Syndrome thoughts from his head.

Harry smirks playfully at the younger boy, who is understandably confused.

“W-Why am I here?” Louis begins, looking frantically around the room again before flaring up at the man in front of him, “Why the fuck did you have to do that? You couldn’t just knock or wait until fucking tomorrow or some shit to ask me whatever it is you want? I-I just want to go home, I haven’t done anything to anyone, I just-“

Louis stops talking when Harry – suddenly about one foot in front of him in one swift step – leans in dangerously close to his face and places a bejeweled hand on his inner thing, still wearing that cute stupid smirk on his face.

“Lou, dear,” the older man starts, chuckling softly, “This isn’t about anything you have done.”

Now Louis is just annoyed with whatever game Harry was trying to play. “So then what is this about?” he huffs, frowning now yet trying to remain calm under Harry’s touch.

Harry removes his hand from Louis’s thigh, taking a step back while turning away from him. The room is silent, par the sound of Louis’s breathing.

“Your husband,”

Louis doesn’t say anything, confused as he waits for Harry to continue. Sure, Nico wasn’t fond of him, but it didn’t explain why he felt the need to kidnap him.

“Your husband had my husband killed. Murdered. While he was away,” His voice is cold, back still facing Louis. “Paid off the Peaky Blinders to kill him. Shot him nine times in the head in the middle of their meeting.”

Louis remains silent, the color draining from his face. He recalls Harry telling him just a week ago that his husband was away on business in the south of England. That was their first true encounter, where Louis had made a fool of himself as usual. The man Harry spoke of so fondly was dead. His husband.

But he doesn’t believe it, doesn’t want to believe it. Not Nico, his Nico. He wouldn’t do this, not even to his enemy.

Harry takes a deep breath.

“So now he will pay.”

Harry turns around to face Louis, head bowed down as if to show respect for his late husband. Louis can see tear stains under his eyes in the dim glow of the lit bedroom, Louis crying tears of his own. Out of sorrow for Harry, out of pity for Nico, out of fear for himself.

“So, you’re going to kill me.” Louis says, saying it as a statement rather than a question. His chances for survival were slim at this point. He couldn’t run, couldn’t escape, so his early death would come at the hands of this beautiful boy. It was only fair.

“Not necessarily. That is the whole reason you are here.” Harry says, as if killing the boy was still not completely out of the question. “Your husband took something from me, so I will do it in return. An eye for an eye. Except, I won’t be killing you.” The curly-haired man walks back closer to the boy, kneeling down so their eyes met at an equal level. “You are far too beautiful for that, my boy.” He says, voice strangely sweet, cupping his cheek with his soft hand. Louis remains frozen, unsure of what to do or say.

“If you think so.” He responds quietly, refusing to meet Harry’s eyes. He’s being rather touchy for having just lost his husband. Tears continue to dribble down Louis’s cheeks. “B-But can I ask you… a question?” The boy is slow to respond; he wants to make sure he doesn’t say anything that could get him hurt. He already feels like he’s walking on thin ice.

“Anything.”

“Why would he, um, have your, uh, husband, um…” Louis starts, hiccupping in between. He’s trying to stay away from the border of hysterical crying, but he’s struggling to come to terms with the fact that this man he barely knew said that his husband arranged for a man to be killed.

“Murdered in cold blood by a gang who is falling off the map? He felt threatened for whatever reason. By me, for whatever reason,” Harry whips out a rolled cigarette, a joint to be exact, lighting it before continuing, “As if he hasn’t taken enough from me, that fucking prick. My poor Finn.” He murmurs so low that Louis almost doesn’t hear. It takes him a few seconds to register what Harry has just said.

“I’m sorry, did you say gang?”

Harry’s eyes narrow, sadness turning into rage. What the fuck was this kid trying to do? Sure, he was all doe-eyed and innocent as a child but there was no way he was blind to the many atrocities Nico Costa had committed, many of which were against his very own fucking family. He sure as hell was not going to make a fool of Harry fucking Styles.

A dark laugh escapes Harry’s throat, not buying the kid’s act. “Don’t play fucking dumb with me, kid, I know you seen your cunt of a husband coming back all banged up and bruised. And do you wanna know why?” This time Harry gets so close his nose is practically touching Louis’s, air catching in Louis’s throat. “’Cause I fucking did it to ‘im.”

Louis pushes back roughly against the older man’s chest, his own fear evaporating into thin air upon hearing the accusations against his husband. “How dare you accuse him of such a thing! He’s no murderer, you animal!” Louis cries out, standing up off the bed now. “He’s just a fucking businessman, I can’t believe you would suggest such a-“

A swift smack to the cheek shuts Louis up.

Harry is stunned for two reasons: one being the fact he just hit this sweet boy, the other being that this boy’s reaction was too sincere to be a façade. Did he really not know? Another deep laugh erupted from Harry, but the situation was far from funny.

The poor boy had no idea his husband was a murderer.

“A businessman? Is that what he fucking told you?” Harry says in between laughs, placing the cigarette between his thin lips to take a drag. He actually feels sorry for the boy, unable to imagine being that oblivious. He clicks his tongue quietly, shaking his head, causing Louis to become even more frustrated. “Alright, love, what does he do? Hm? ‘Said he does business, but for what? For who?”

Louis starts to speak, but realizes he can’t answer the questions. His face pales.

The silence is all Harry needs to confirm his suspicions.

“N-No, there’s no way, Nico would never—"

“Dear,” Harry interjects, stopping the pitiful boy in his tracks, “Your husband, along with myself, are in the business of killing.” He finishes vindictively, an evil glint in his emerald jems, a sneer

Louis doesn’t believe it still, won’t believe it until he sees it. There is no way something this massive could have just… just gone right over his head.

Except for the fact that it makes sense. The gears start turning in Louis’s head as he starts to make sense of everything in his life.

The money.

The guns.

The blood.

Nico.

“And your husband,” Harry continues, unable to see the train of thought running into oblivion in Louis’s head, “Has taken the one thing I prized most. So, I will take everything from him until he has nothing,”

The man pauses to look back at Louis, eyeing the boy up. Louis doesn’t see anger in his eyes this time.

“Starting with you.”

Chapter Text

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.

“Louis?”

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.

“Milk.”

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.

Was it?

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.”

Chapter Text

Harry was livid.

More than livid, really.

Furious. Angry. Wanted to smash Nico Costa’s skull under the tires of his motor vehicle.

No words could really describe the way he felt as he sat in the backseat of their car, en route to the Costa estate. Not Nico Costa, of course, that poor bastard could hardly afford the house he lived in (not that Louis knew that). It was the brother of Nico, some poor Italian bastard whose name Harry hadn’t bothered to remember.

Louis sat quietly beside him, afraid of even breathing too loud or else Harry would blow a bullet through his skull.

Louis had no idea what he was about to get himself in to.

He wasn’t sure if he was ready for what was about to unfold in front of him. His time at the Styles estate gave him just a peek through the window that was the world of this mob world Louis had been blind to. Louis could hardly begin to wrap his head around it all. His life up until this point had felt so simple, just tending to the house and looking after Nico.

He wasn’t so sure if he was ready to throw that all away, but it didn’t seem like he had a choice at this point.

The car stops outside a house that seems miniscule compared to the size of the estate Louis and company just came from. Louis recognizes the house almost immediately as Michael’s house, Nico’s brother. His heart drops into his stomach. He wants to throw up without even knowing the reason they are here, although he is certain Nico must be in the house.

“Lesi afara!” The driver shouts to Louis. He just sits there until Harry is pushing a hand gently on his back towards the door, Louis clambering awkwardly out of the car.

“What was that?” Louis asks, glancing back at Harry as he emerges into the overcast day, still confused by the gibberish he just heard.

“Romany, dear, language of the gypsies.” Harry whispers into his ear, smiling, “’Family has been speaking it for years. He just wanted you to get out.”

Louis just nods, unsure of what else to say. He was used to Nico speaking in foreign tongue around him, so was not too off put by the idea of Harry and the others speaking a different language around him. Everyone around him was just so smart.

Behind the car they just stepped out of is another three cars practically stuffed with grown men and a few women, all dressed in suits or dresses. Louis feels underdressed in his plain white shirt and plain black dress pants, trying to remain calm except for the fact that every single person is insanely beautiful who steps out of the vehicles. Louis can’t help but feel inferior.

Harry smiles, nodding at some of the men as they walk by the two of them. However, four of the men and four women stop in front of them.

“Louis, I want you to meet some close friends of mine. They’re practically family.” Harry says, glancing between all the faces in front of them.

“This is Nick,” who bore straight, slicked back hair and a soft jaw line; he appeared to be the most feminine of the men in the group. He wore an open jacket and half-buttoned waistcoat, white shirt underneath and seemed the most relaxed, wearing a cheeky smile as a greeting to the younger boy.

“Zayn,” who has a gorgeous tan even in the middle of the fall as winter starts to rear its head, along with dazzling brown eyes and raven hair that falls just over his forehead. He wears a deep 5’o clock shadow, his only flaw being the scar across his nose. Louis recognizes him as the man that knocked him out in the car, deciding to stay wary of him.

“Liam,” who was the most rugged, his beard fuller and matching his sandy brown hair. His eyes were like a puppy’s, large and brown and deceiving. His outfit bore like Nick’s except more put together, all buttons buttoned and cuffs linked. A small chain hung around his neck with a cross and the letter S.

“And the last lad is Niall,” although he resembles a small child with his blonde hair and goofy grin, Louis couldn’t help but notice the scar across the side of his neck which probably held a gruesome story to it. He doesn’t recall that scar being there during their first encounte. The man was clearly a fighter, despite his friendly demeanor. He tries not to think that one of his husband’s henchmen did that to Niall.

All the men say hello, Louis just smiling back and waving to them shyly. He wasn’t so sure why Harry was being friendly, introducing to them as if he were his new husband or some shit. Everything about the situation was confusing for Louis and he couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable.

“And these lovely ladies are Perrie, Sophia, Eleanor, and Lou.” Harry goes on to introduce them each individually, each one just as intensely gorgeous as the next. Louis couldn’t help but feel squeamish under the pressure of being in front of all these beautiful people, hardly remembering that they were outside his fucking brother-in-law’s house about to do God knows what.

Before anyone can get another word in, Harry continues to speak.

“Thank you all for showing up today on short notice, but this had to be moved along,” he glances at the house before looking back at the eight people in front of him, “Zayn, Liam, and Perrie: you three will be accompanying me and leading the attack. Perrie, you will remain behind me and the rest of you will follow. Everyone else should fall in step.” He orders quickly.

Louis glances behind him to see a multitude of men and women preparing their weapons: sharpening knives, cleaning and reloading guns, you name it. His heart nearly caught in his throat, feeling queasy at the thought that this would be going anything but smooth.

“Louis,” his head snaps when he hears his name, staring back into the emerald orbs who called for him, “I want you to wait out here until we clear the house, okay? It shouldn’t take any longer than five minutes.” Harry assures the younger boy, his voice softer than it was just moments ago, “Eleanor, I want you to stay out here with him, okay? You are to make sure not a hair on his head is hurt or so fucking help me.” Harry orders, voice turning stern once again. The girl nods in understanding, not uttering another word.

Within the next few seconds, everyone has silenced and is preparing to storm the Costa estate. Louis stays back near the cars with Eleanor, watching as they approach the front door and windows from all sides.

“Sa mergem! Sa mergem!” Harry shouts before kicking in the front door. At least fifty people from the Styles family storm into the house, Louis hearing shouts in Italian as the only replies in between gunshots and screams.

Eleanor can sense the discomfort Louis feels, watching his face go pale as he hears the shouts of terror. There has been talk amongst the Styles family ever since the boy was taken into their home; Costa hardly disclosed information about his lover to others, an air of mysterious surrounding Louis that the others in the family were trying to decipher through. She could see why Harry had taken a liking to him, though: he was a beautiful, young boy and Eleanor was eager to learn more about him. “You okay?” she asks gently, placing an arm around his waist and pulling him close. She was thankful when her arm wasn’t thrown off.

Louis was having trouble processing the scene before him, watching as a body fell from the second story that looked like a guy Louis had just seen two minutes ago. He was thankful to be outside, unsure if he could stomach whatever was unfolding inside those four walls. “Not really, n-no.” he murmurs, struggling to find his voice, “T-This feels like a dream. A nightmare. T-This isn’t real.” he shakes his head at his own words, hoping that maybe he would wake up and be back in his bed at home with Nico, on a Sunday morning, about to get ready for church. He just wanted to be anywhere but here.

Eleanor kissed the younger boy’s shoulder, unable to rid herself of the pity she felt for Louis. She found it hard to believe at first that the boy could be ignorant to his husband’s cruelty, but he just didn’t know any better. How could he know that people like the Costas and the Styles could be the scum of the Earth? How could he know that both families can commit such unspeakable acts? “I know, hon, but I promise, it’ll be over soon.” She reassures him, smiling down at Louis since he was slightly shorter than she was. It was adorable. “I really do like your hair, Lou, I swear, it’s nicer than mine, you just have to tell me how you get it to curl like that.” She deflects the original conversation with ease.

Louis can’t help but smile at the ground in response to the compliment, unable to fathom how a beautiful girl like Eleanor could be complimenting someone so… ordinary. “Thank you, Eleanor, it’s not too hard, most of the time I just wake up and it looks like this.” He answers slowly, chuckling quietly when she gushes over the little effort he puts into his appearance.

No more than a minute later, Niall pokes his head out the front door that the brigade entered through. “Louis!” the blonde man shouts, waving the two of them over. A spat of blood is on his cheek, but he seems unbothered as it drips onto his shirt; he’s signaling to them that it was safe to approach the house. “Harry asked for you, Louis, but wants Eleanor to bring you up.”

Louis glances at Eleanor who just shrugs in response. She seems just as in the dark as Louis feels. The two of them walk up the lengthy sidewalk up to the front door, greeted by Niall once they arrive. He’s got blood splattered across his cheek and staining his blonde locks. Louis resists the urge to vomit.

“Up those stairs, there now, Louis, just you. I promise, it’s safe, we cleared it out.” Niall assures him, grinning so wide that you might’ve thought today was his birthday, not because he had just murdered about ten Costa men with just a knife once his gun jammed. Louis nods slowly, trying to ignore the strong stench of blood in the air and the few bodies he sees lying around before ascending the staircase, moving to where he hears the strange language escaping Harry’s lips, booming from outside the closed master bedroom door. Two Styles henchmen stand on either side of the doors.

Louis knocks hesitantly.

The door is swiftly opened by one Liam Payne, looking surprisingly okay despite a bloody lip. The young boy is met with a soft smile from the scruffy man, but his facial expression tells Louis that this isn’t going to be anything worth smiling about.

“Louis, dear, so nice of you to finally join us.” A gentle voice calls to the young boy.

The curly-haired man extends a hand towards Louis, who is standing in the center of the master room. His knuckles are bloody and there are a few small cuts on Harry’s face, but he looks okay, as if this is just another normal day for him. Louis slowly approaches Harry, unsure of what to do. He had never been in the middle of a raid before. The room feels full with just half of the Styles family here; in the midst of taking in his surroundings, he hears a muffled sound. Someone is yelling behind Harry. The curly hair turns suddenly away from Louis, the back of his head now facing the younger boy.

“Say hello to your husband, you fucking cunt.” Harry spits – quite literally, as he spits on the shoe of Nico Costa, who is tied up in a chair with half of his own tie shoved into his mouth. Harry steps just out of the way so Louis can get a better look at his husband. His hands are gruesome, fingers crushed to nothing but blood and bone. His face – oh, his gorgeous face, Louis could cry – was slashed multiple times across his cheeks and forehead and his nose looked split. Louis couldn’t breathe, couldn’t even move because there was nothing he could do to fix this. This was all his fault.

“N-Nico? Nico, baby, oh my god,” Louis practically sprints the few short steps to Nico’s side, dropping to his knees in front of him. “Nico, h-honey, I-I didn’t know this was g-gonna happen…” he blubbers, shaking his head as he talks down to his knees, unable to look Nico in the eyes. When he does finally look up, he doesn’t see sorrow or forgiveness. Frankly, he doesn’t see anything. If he were to pick any possible emotion, it would be anger. The same dangerous fire flickered in his eyes like when they were fighting, and it shook Louis down to his core.

Harry walks slowly to meet Louis, placing a hand on his shoulder to bring him back to reality. Louis glances up at Harry, then back at Nico before slowly standing up, wiping his eyes as he tries to calm his hiccups. Nico shouts against the tie stuck in his throat in protest to the older man’s touch against his husband, clearly displeased. Zayn shuts him up quickly with a pistol-whip to the temple. Blood pours from the side of his face. Louis jolts at the sound of metal against bone, a sob escaping from his throat.

Surprisingly, Harry walks closer to Nico, quickly pulling the tie from his mouth. The silent room fills with furious shouts in Italian, spewing vile insults into the room. Harry held Louis close to him, his pelvis pressed against the small of Louis’s back. Maybe he should have felt scared, being drug into this war between the two families; worried, as he was being used as a pawn in their games. Yet, Louis felt safe, even with his husband bleeding and broken and angrier than Louis had ever seen him.

“And you,” Nico spits, turning his broken head to the direction of Louis with eyes aflame, causing Louis to start shaking under Harry’s touch, “How dare you fucking betray me like this, not even fucking trying to come home to me. I bet you’ve been fucking him this entire time like the dirty whore you are. You actually enjoying these cunts? After all I’ve fucking done for you, after everything I’ve given-“

A shot rang off in the room.

Costa continued to scream, this time in pain from the bullet Harry had just seared through his foot. Truthfully, Louis was surprised Harry had let him talk for even that long.

“You motherfucker,” Harry’s voice dripping with venom, “Have no right to accuse this boy of any wrongdoing. Insult me all you want, put a price on my head, but don’t say a fucking word about that sweet boy you’ve ripped to fucking shreds.”

Louis stands there dumbfounded as Harry speaks.

“You ruined him,” he goes on, glancing back at Louis as tears began to bubble in his eyes, “Can hardly take his shirt off without shaking, because you put all those bruises there, didn’t you, you piece of shit?”

Harry isn’t asking.

Silence settles over the room again except for Nico’s quiet huffing.

Harry stands over Nico for a moment, taking in the sight before him. How weak he looked, how helpless he looked. The blue-eyed man chuckled, stepping back.

“Louis, come here, darling.”

The younger man takes the few steps to close the space between him and Harry, standing a little too close to Nico for Louis’s liking.

“Louis, honey, would you mind taking your shirt off for me, only for a little bit, I promise.” Harry requests sweetly, staring so deeply into Louis’s eyes he thought was going to melt on the spot; instead fear shook his bones.

“H-Harry, please, not in front of everyone, I’m so embarrassed.” Louis whimpers softly, staring down at his shoes. Nico starts to speak and Zayn crushes his skull some more. Louis wasn’t weak; he’s stood up to Nico his fair share of times, yelled until he was blue in the face, yet he was the only one with scars to bear.

“I only need to prove a point, my love, it’ll be so quick, I promise.” The older man whispers, leaning to put his lips just beside his ear as his fingers reach up to gently unbutton his shirt, going ever so slowly so that Louis would be comfortable. Harry ignored that angry shouts from Nico, Zayn doing his best to shut him the fuck up but, boy, he loved to hear his own goddamn voice. The gangster pressed his lips behind Louis’s ear to try and ease him, Louis not shuffling away like he half-expected him to. Tears fell down Louis’s cheeks, not because he wanted Harry to stop, but because he was afraid to reveal just how vulnerable he was, how he wasn’t as strong as he made himself out to be, how he had let things get this bad. He allowed Harry to push the shirt from his shoulders, shutting his eyes as he did so.

When Louis’s shirt hit the floor, he tried so hard to ignore the few gasps he heard around them. He had almost forgotten the room was full of Harry’s entourage.

Harry felt like a brick had been thrown against his lungs when he saw the full extent of the damage before him. The horrid display of colors on Louis’s chest that he had already seen till uneased Harry, but the rest of his body gave the older man the urge to vomit, and he has seen the most gruesome of injuries in his lifetime. His arms were bruised at the biceps from being roughhoused and his shoulder and back wore bruises of equal appearance to his front, just as gnarly and grotesque. If Harry wasn’t angry before, he was definitely angry now as he turned around swiftly to face Costa, closed the space between them, and hooked him as hard as he could with his fist. A satisfying crunch of his fist against the broken man’s jaw made Harry chuckle darkly.

“So, you like to beat up your husband, but I can’t even fucking talk to him? You hit him because I fucking held his hand and you beat the shit out of ‘im.” Harry asks with another laugh. “I should’ve known. Costa men want to act fucking tough but have to hit their fucking spouse, you coward.”

Harry steps away from Nico and over to Louis, who is now sitting on the bed with his shirt on, yet unbuttoned, still crying softly. The curly-haired man takes a seat next to him on the bed, placing a gentle, calloused hand under Louis’s jaw, tilting his head towards Harry. A pair of emerald eyes clouded with tears stare back at the gangster, breaking his heart ever so slightly. “You don’t need to be afraid, love,” he whispers, “But is it alright if I kiss you? I’ll be so gentle, I promise.”

Louis should’ve punched him, should’ve ran away, for Christ’s sake, his husband was sitting right there watching them. He’s not so sure he’s even in his own body anymore, this whole experience feeling like a dream – or a nightmare, he’s not sure which one. Yet he finds himself nodding in response, and a warm, soft pair of lips press against Louis’s own.

Nico is screaming his head off in the background but stops when Zayn sends a bullet through his other foot.

The kiss is sweet, just their lips pressed together, the same calloused hand cupping his cheek gently. Louis thinks he can feel the crack of a smile from Harry but doesn’t to take this for any more than it is. He’s still a pawn in their feud. It’s all a game, nothing more than a power struggle.

Harry pulls away, trailing fingers along the lateral side of Louis’s neck. “Can I kiss you here? Is that okay?” he asks so gently in such a stark contrast to the harsh, booming voice he was using just moments ago. Again, Louis nods, and soft kisses are pressed to the outside of his neck. Harry’s tongue lashes out every so often, moving to suck on the soft spot below his jaw that earns a quiet moan from Louis. It feels wrong, so wrong, his husband watching this unfold. Nico thrashes around in the corner of the room, pulling against his restraints. He was going to bash Louis into oblivion once this was over.

Louis is brought back to Earth with the shouts from Nico, placing his hands on Harry’s chest hesitantly. He thought Styles would become vehemently angry, but instead just a look of disappointment stared back at Louis.

“Are you okay? We can stop.” The gangster assures him softly, sweeping the chestnut locks from his forehead.

“I-I’m still married, y-you know.” He murmurs. “I don’t want to hurt him… I-I love him.”

Harry nods in understanding, suddenly feeling like a bit of a dick for putting Louis in this situation. “I apologize for my overstepping, Louis.” He stands suddenly, wiping his mouth with the back of his bloodied hand.

An awkward hand lands on the side of Louis’s own neck, trying to determine if the lips he felt on his skin was more than a dream.

“Now,” Harry moves swiftly from the bed back over to Nico, “I’ll give you one more chance to fucking answer me before I blow your brains all over this bedroom wall,” Harry hisses, punching him across the face again; Nico’s jaw is now misaligned. “Did you hit your fucking husband?” The punches landed in between each word. A few teeth hit the floor from Nico’s mouth. Harry lands a final punch on “husband”, punching right into Nico’s nose, forcing to an awkward angle that it sat at. He was just lucky he hadn’t stabbed his vomer up through his fucking brain. Nico did nothing but grunt as Harry landed blow after blow, Louis watching in horror.

The gangster steps back from the bloodied figure, knuckles coated with Nico’s blood as he awaits an answer.

“It was an act of passion.” Nico mutters, spitting blood and another tooth onto the floor, “Tough love.”

Harry could’ve split his skull up right there. Wrong answer.

“How fucking dare you hurt this perfect boy and have the nerve to call it love.” Harry spits. In two swift motions, Harry has a knife in his hand and said knife is slicing the right ear of Nico Costa off in one swipe.

Louis is the only one to scream.

Harry glances at Zayn to his right, then to Liam who is just a few feet behind Zayn.

“Take care of this cunt for me, both of you. I refuse to waste any more time on him. You know where to take him.” He commands eerily, turning on his heel towards the door. Zayn and Liam glance at each other before moving towards the broken man in the chair, shouting curses in Italian that Louis recognized. Before he could see what was going to happen to his husband, Harry was shuffling the boy out of the room along with the rest of the gang. They all seemed to know what was about to happen, a secret that Louis was not yet apart of.

Maybe he should have yelled after Nico, tried to struggle against the strong hand on his back pushing him towards the door while Zayn and Liam closed in on his husband, but not a word fell from his lips. Louis pretended to not hear the shrill screams from behind the door that was now closed behind him, silent tears welling up in his eyes.

“Come, Louis. You are with me now.” Harry says as they exit the Costa household, a cigarette magically appearing between his lips, setting it aglow. As they climb into the car, Louis glances back at the house he so frequently visited with Nico; his husband was still up in that room, who Louis had left behind.

He couldn’t help but feel like the life he used to know was left in that house, too.

Chapter Text

That night, Louis sat in the bathtub with the warm water up to his chest, bubbles dancing around him, still struggling to process the atrocities he witnessed today. He can’t stop seeing the deep red, or Harry cutting off his husband’s ear, his fucking ear, for Christ’s sakes, it was replaying over and over in his head like a sick film.

But he also can’t stop thinking about Harry’s lips on his neck or the sweet words he whispered as he pushed his shirt away from his shoulders. Louis didn’t know a ruthless gangster could be so gentle.

These thoughts also came with partial disgust at the idea of even finding Harry attractive. This was his kidnapper, his husband’s near murderer, and was now trying to have Louis commit adultery. It went against everything he believed in. Yet he still thought of Harry smelled like a mixture of cigarettes and a light cologne, thought he couldn’t put his finger on what it was exactly.

Why the hell was he thinking about how he smelled? Louis shakes his head in attempts to rid himself of the thoughts. “Jesus, Lou, snap out of it.” He whispers to himself.

A soft knock sounds at the bathroom door.

“Come in.” Louis calls softly, pushing the water around with his hand.

Harry slowly moves into the door frame. “Talking to yourself, eh?” He is finally changed out of the clothes from earlier, clad in a dark grey button up that is only half-done with casual black slacks. The blood is cleaned up from his hands and the cuts are starting to heal on his face. Louis thinks he can still remember where every blood stain used to be. “Enjoying yourself?” he adds, amused with how boyish Louis looks sitting in the large tub with the water up to his chest.

Louis nods in reply, smiling softly. “Definitely relaxing.” He comments, continuing to be heavily interested in the way the water shifts around his fingers, creating small waves in the bath. He tries not to think about how his upper body injuries are on full display or how Harry is in there while Louis is, you know, in the tub.

Without clothes on. Naked. Nude.

Harry takes a few slow, long steps to the tub, sitting down on the edge and placing his own fingers into the water. The two sat in a comfortable silence for few minutes, Louis sitting back and resting his neck against the back of the tub, closing his eyes.

“I apologize for my actions today,” Harry breaks the silence, sincerity dripping from his voice, “But only because of you, Louis. I wish you did not have to witness any of it, I mean it, but I do not regret severely injuring the man who has hurt you enough.” he continues, reaching to grab Louis’s hand that is resting on the top of the tub. Louis sits up in the bath, staring at their touching hands. “I do not intend to drag you into this, love.”

Louis nods, still intensely interested with the bubbles moving through his fingers. He murmurs in confirmation, unsure of what to contribute to the conversation. What does he say? No, really, it’s okay that you made out with me in front of my husband, then proceeded to mutilate him. The bath suddenly feels twenty degrees hotter in Harry’s presence, unsure if the liquid on his skin is water or nervous perspiration.  He doesn’t know if he should be angry or upset or thankful or just plain tired. He might be all four.

“Why did you want to kiss me?” Louis blurts out, breaking his staring-match with the water to look up at the gangster who doesn’t seem unnerved by the bold question.

“If we’re being honest,” Harry begins to run his thumb along the back of Louis’s hand, “You’re a beautiful boy, Louis, I mean that. Naturally, like I’m sure so many other men and women do, I wanted a little piece of you.” He admits, shrugging. “But I also wanted to cause a bit of psychological damage to Nico.” The curly-haired man adds with a grin, pleased with himself.

Louis is anything but happy with his response. “So, what the fuck am I here for then? I’m just this- this fucking pawn in your games? At least with Nico he kept me out of it, I didn’t have a clue what was going on. But maybe I prefer it better that way if it means I don’t have to be used as some fucking toy.” Louis shouts at him, angry tears welling up in his eyes. “If you’re just going to keep me here to be your thing then at least just… do it. Do me, if that’s all you want. Pass me around to your friends, bring them here, for fuck’s sake, at least I’ll be useful. If that’s what I’m here for.” By this time, in the middle of his agitated speech, Louis is sitting completely naked and soaking wet on the side of the tub next to Harry, wet hands on either side of him as he leans in towards him, face just centimeters away, daring Harry to touch him. Water drips into Harry’s lap as Harry stays completely still, watching Louis amid his outburst. The older man remained frozen.

To Louis’s surprise, Harry does nothing except stare right back, making Louis even more frustrated. He doesn’t move to close the space between them and his eyes don’t even wander his naked body, despite being completely exposed so close to him. “Just do something, won’t you, stop fucking looking at me like that.” Louis lets the tears fall down his cheeks, still dripping water all over Harry. He inches his face just a bit closer, their lips practically brushing.

Instead, Harry gets up from his spot near the tub, grabs a towel from off a hook, and wraps it around Louis’s bare torso. “Louis, dear, I think it’s time you went to bed. You’ve had a long day.” Harry suggests in the most emotionless voice Louis has heard from him since they have met. It frightens Louis, perhaps more than any angry reaction he could have received.

Louis feels the wave of gusto leave his body, sitting there with the towel wrapped around his soaked body, nodding slowly in response. Embarrassment replaces the fire he felt, although he’s not sure if he regrets it. “Harry, I-I’m sorry, I-“

“Just go to bed, Louis.” Harry snaps, staring down at the floor. Louis had clearly struck a nerve.

The rest of his apology gets stuck in his throat, standing up quickly and practically running out of the bathroom to remove himself from the awkward situation, away from Harry. As he changes into his pajamas he hears the tub start to drain and the light flicker off before Harry slips quietly out of his bedroom to retire for the evening. He doesn’t say another word to Louis, shutting his bedroom door loudly behind him.

Louis shouldn’t be feeling guilty, though. He is the victim in all of this. Like Harry said, he wasn’t meant to be dragged into this, none of this was his battle to fight. He knows that this isn’t entirely Harry’s fault, that Nico is very much still a perpetrator as the other half of this ongoing feud.

As he lays in bed, Louis can’t help but feel the guilt eating away at his insides. Should Harry have kissed him? Maybe not, but Louis let him. But it was just because he was caught up in the moment, he was scared and didn’t want to get hurt. Not because he had any actual attraction towards the gangster.

Right?

-

Louis doesn’t remember falling asleep last night, assuming he more likely just passed out from pure exhaustion. He’s awake earlier than normal but no longer feels that desire to help around the house. He has no reason to assist them. He didn’t owe them anything.

Except for the fact that they could have killed him along with the other Costa’s, but he’s not going to dwell on that fact.

He does, however, think about how Harry could snap him in half if he wanted to, shoot him right in the chest, cut off his ear, just normal thoughts you would have while getting dressed in the morning. But he forces those morbid thoughts away too as he fastens the final button of his pale blue blouse, rolling the sleeves up to his elbows. He does a quick take in the mirror, ruffling his hair with his fingers before emerging from his quarters.

In truth, he didn’t want to see Harry today. And for most of the day, he would prove to be successful. When he heard footsteps come towards the kitchen, Louis would dart outside to watch the rain drizzle from under the overhang of the house. While reading a book in the study room, he would hear the same footsteps whisper down the hall and Louis would turn his back to the door, making sure he remained unseen, or at the least uninterested in whatever Harry was doing today. The last thing he wanted to do was make it seem like he regretted any of his words from the previous night.

Even if he does. But only a little bit. He had too much pride to admit if he was wrong.

When Harry comes knocking on his door later that day, Louis doesn’t look up from the book he’s reading at his desk, assuming it is the gangster at the door. A pen is in his hand, writing away from the same book.

“Dinner is ready if you would like to eat with us.” Harry says, taking a step into the room.He sees that Louis is busy with something at the desk facing the opposite wall, so Louis’s back is to him. “What’re you doing?” he asks, curious as to why the young boy was scribbling so furiously.

Louis curses quietly to himself; of course he would make it almost the entire day before Harry would intrude on his only personal space. “Just finishing up this,” Louis gestures to the textbook and paper pad, “I got bored and found it in the study.”

“You got bored so you decided to digest-“, he moves to the desk and picks up the front of the book to see what Louis was reading “-an old Anatomy textbook?” Harry would sound incredulous if it weren’t for the amused smirk on his face, “Interesting, can I ask why the Anatomy?” Meanwhile, he’s trying so hard to not be thrilled over the fact that this is their first real conversation of the day. He had heard Louis’s quick patters through the halls whenever he came near, not saying a word to him all day. He wasn’t sure what to make of Louis’s behavior after his outburst the previous night.

Louis feels the blush creeping into his cheeks; Nico had scolded him any time he found out that Louis had the slightest bit of interest in literature, whether for pleasure or schoolwork. With Harry showing even the slightest bit of interest and approval, the younger boy almost didn’t know how to respond.  “I want to be a doctor someday.” Louis shrugs along with his words, shaking his head, “It won’t happen, though, probably, it’s just so much money, a-and I probably wouldn’t even be that good at it.”

Harry frowns. “Now, how will you know if you never try?” He glances at the notes Louis has written down, a mixture of print and script discussing the digestive system practically word for word from the textbook. Some key points were underlined in the thick ink, Harry smiling to himself. “These look wonderful, Louis, you’re so smart.” He looks to the younger boy, wearing the same smile.

Louis continues to stare at his own notes, refusing to meet Harry’s gaze. He doesn’t want the small talk to cover up what happened yesterday or what Louis said. He just wants answers. “Why am I here, Harry?” Louis asks, trying to mask the exasperation in his voice.

Harry sighs quietly, leaning his hip against the desk. He did not want to discuss this tonight, maybe not even for a few more days. He hoped that Louis would just be content with being here, out of harm’s way, or even just forget about it all together. It was naïve of him to think. “Louis…”

No, Harry, please just tell me what your intentions are with me,” The young boy goes on desperately, finally meeting Harry’s gaze, “I shouldn’t have spoken out like that last night but I’m not a fucking imbecile. It’s not like I can leave, or run, or overpower anyone here anyway if what you’re planning is-“

A kiss distracts the rest of Louis’s speech. Harry’s lips are on his own, soft and gentle, just like the other day. His own mind is screaming, should be pushing Harry away because god dammit, he’s still angry as all hell with him, but instead he finds himself closing his eyes and accepting the kiss.

And maybe he kisses back a tad - because this is the most gentle interaction he’s hand in weeks - before Harry pulls back with a playful smirk.

“Lou, I promise you I have nothing but the purest intentions for you,” the gangster leans in to press a kiss to the other’s forehead, “Because I find you… intriguing, and beautiful, to say the very least.” He murmurs into the younger’s ear, moving his hand to cup the boy’s cheek.”

Louis could feel the stupid tears filling his emerald eyes, wishing he could keep them at bay. Why was he so goddamn emotional? “Why didn’t you touch me last night, then? You just said you think I’m beautiful.” He asks, his mind in a blur of confusion. Trying to be strong is difficult when Harry has a way with everything he does: his movements, his words, the way he looks at you, it distracts Louis in an instant.

Harry chuckles softly. “Because you are not here to be my pet, Lou, you’re not going to be some fuck toy I use,” he runs a hand through the boy’s cinnamon hair, “Even if I wanted a piece of you so badly last night, I couldn’t bring myself to that, not yet.”

“But,” he starts, taking his gentle hand away and standing up straight, “if you want to leave that is none of my business. Although, if I’m being honest, there’s no where for you to go. There’s a price on your head, Louis, and every Costa is looking for you. They’ll bring you back to them dead or alive if they have to because, in their eyes, you have betrayed them even though that is not the case.” He takes a walk around the room, speaking of Louis’s potential death so nonchalantly, as if it were the morning news.

“The choice is yours.” Harry whips a cigarette out of thin air, lighting it the next second, waiting for Louis to decide upon his ultimatum.

Louis can barely find words after that kiss, let alone be able to discuss how his entire family wants to kill him. He wanted so badly to be angry, to throw a fit, because really this wasn’t his fucking choice. There was no way he could leave – it wasn’t even a rational thought. He didn’t know what they had done with Nico. It wasn’t like Nico would be thrilled to see him either way, if he hadn’t succumbed to his injuries or if Zayn and Liam didn’t kill him already. If he was still alive, the first thing he would do is kill Louis – or at least come quite close to it.

Shutting his notebook and standing up, Louis released a quiet sigh. “I want to stay here.” He whispers regrettably, unable to rid himself of the feeling that he was betraying Nico.

What other choice did he have?

Harry smiles, thrilled with the answer, although it was the one he was expecting. It wasn’t that he was trying to manipulate Louis, but he was simply presenting the facts – in a way he knew would get Louis to stay. “Wonderful.” He breathes, moving to close the distance of the room between them so that he is standing above Louis, less than a foot away from the torsos touching.

“Come join us for dinner, now, the studying can wait.” He says between the cigarette and a quiet chuckle, placing a gentle hand under the young boy’s chin. Louis turns his head swiftly so that his hand falls away. Harry tuts to himself, biting his tongue before he says something else that would get him in trouble with the feisty boy.

Louis was going to take quite the convincing, Harry knew that for a fact.

But he was a Styles. And after all, a Styles always gets what he wants.

Chapter Text

Two weeks later

Styles Residence

-

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.