The text comes when Louis is getting ready to head to Heathrow airport to go back to the United States. He barely stays in London anymore, only comes when it’s extremely necessary, because… What is the point, right?
For a year now Louis’ life has been based in Los Angeles and all of its neighborhoods. For someone who used to say he hated that place so much, it seems like Louis is being castigated for it. In truth, for a long time now, everything he does feels like punishment – he’s not even sure he deserves it, but… It is what it is.
Louis checks his phone. Harry’s name is on the screen and so is the little house emoji by the side of it. It hurts to look.
He arrives at the airport with his mind already made up, and as the driver stops by the sidewalk, leaving the car to get Louis’ suitcase, Louis knows that trying to ignore the text Harry sent him is useless. He sighs, thanks the kind man for driving him at ass-o’clock in the morning and makes his way inside, thanking the heavens that there is no pap waiting for him here.
“Morning, Mr Tomlinson,” a middle-aged woman smiles at him at the check-in booth. Louis has always wondered how those people act so chipper-y and smiley twenty-four hours in a row. Nowadays he can barely hold his smile for one minute on a pap-walk. “You can wait in the VIP room if you’d like…”
“Sure, but, hm- when’s the next flight to France?” He questions.
“France? Oh, hm,” she frowns, clearly troubled. “Here it says your flight is to LAX, California, United States. I’m sorry, there must’ve been a mix up…”
“No, no,” he assures her. “I just need to change my ticket,” Louis says resigned and takes his credit card, handing it to her. The woman, of course, does not question him, just accepts it and he waits patiently and sleepily while she does whatever she needs to do so Louis can get to Harry in a couple of hours.
The plane touches the ground at eight a.m. Paris time and by eight twenty-five Louis is at Harry’s doorstep. He doesn’t know how long Harry’s been here, but there is something to do with the fact that he was being mobbed at the hotel that the cast is staying at. Louis only learned Harry started filming because Niall told him, he hasn’t seen the boy in months, since his ex’s birthday, which is why, when Harry opens the door, it is a shock to see, in person, that his curls are gone.
Louis brings both hands to his mouth and widens his eyes without realizing it. Harry’s wearing black sweatpants and a grey, loose shirt, his hair pointing in every direction and his eyes reddened, like he hasn’t slept in hours or cried himself to sleep the night before. Louis hates both options, and makes himself say a quiet, quick hi, Hazz .
“You actually came.” Harry whispers bewildered in return.
“You asked,” is all Louis says.
Harry nods, still a bit out of it, and opens the door wider so Louis can get in. He helps him with his luggage, making small conversation like “how was your flight?” and “are you okay?” and goes straight to the couch, sitting there and waiting for Louis to join him.
It’s quite nice, the flat he’s in. Small, too, uncharacteristically Harry. And then Louis remembers that this place isn’t actually Harry’s, just somewhere the people from the movie found for him to stay – a hidden location, the media is calling it. Louis isn’t even ashamed that this is how he keeps tabs on Harry these days.
At the beginning, when they finally parted ways and the break started, he’d ask Niall and Liam for updates on him, just because it didn’t feel right to nag Harry about his whereabouts when Harry had made it pretty clear that they should stay away from each other until they regained some of their healthiness. But after a while Louis started to feel pathetic, and every time Niall talked to him it just got harder not to notice the sympathy in his bandmate’s voice.
So Louis just stopped. He kind of stayed away from everybody and told himself he was doing well. Of course he still talks to all of them – via text –, even with Harry, who every now and then calls him and whom Louis calls too, he can’t avoid it, but it’s all kind of mundane, it’s all very far away from what they used to be.
Harry looks small. He is staring at Louis and even though his muscles are bigger, his frame is broader and his features are older, Harry looks the youngest Louis has seen in a very long time.
“What’s going on, Harry?” He asks and Harry bursts out crying. He clutches on Louis’ shirt and pulls him closer, and Louis goes easily.
Harry hugs him strongly, holding onto Louis like he is his lifeline, and even though Louis doesn’t quite know what is happening, he hugs back, closes both of his arms on Harry’s waist and makes sure their chests are flushed together, whispering comforting words in his ear and soothing him the best he can, running one of his hands up and down Harry’s spine.
The other boy is choking out words and Louis can’t quite understand what he is saying through his sobs, but he makes out a few sentences such as everything is wrong and I can’t do this anymore, I can’t do this or I don’t want to do this, Louis, please . Louis hugs him and hugs him and does his best not to cry too, because, after all these years, seeing Harry suffer is still the worst kind of pain Louis has ever experienced.
“Harry, Harry, Hazz !” Louis calls in his ear, one hand moving up to his nape and trying to find some hair to entwine his fingers there but only catching few, short strands. He caresses Harry’s scalp and tries to separate their bodies; Harry can’t keep crying or he won’t be able to breathe right and Louis doesn’t know where his inhaler is anymore.
“You’re my best-” a hiccup, “best friend, Louis, you need to hel-help me, I- I can’t, ” tears keep streaming down his face and his eyes are even redder and the only thing Louis can do is sit here, in front of him, cleaning the tears as they come, as softly as he can.
“What can’t you do, H?”
“Anything, Louis, I can’t do anything!” His voice is tortured and Louis has never felt so at a loss.
A little more than a year ago he would’ve been able to actually do something besides sitting here and watching Harry hurt without even knowing for sure why he is hurting. Louis would’ve pulled him in and kissed and fucked the sadness out of him. Louis would’ve known beforehand that Harry was hurting and wouldn’t have let it get to this point in the first place. But then again, a little over a year ago Harry hadn’t broken up with him, so, there’s that.
It takes a few more minutes, but at some point Harry’s tears subside and Louis cleans his face one more time before kissing his forehead and getting up from the couch, moving towards the kitchen to grab them both some water. He can’t believe it’s nine a.m. and his day is already this heavy. Fuck.
“Here, drink some,” Louis says and hands the glass to Harry, who drinks it all in one gulp and places it on the coffee table. After that, Harry moves closer to Louis again and hugs him one more time, fitting his head in the space between Louis’ shoulder and neck. Louis doesn’t think twice when he lets his body sag into the couch and brings Harry with him. They fall asleep together.
When Louis wakes up, at around noon, he notices he is alone on the couch, but it’s the smell of bacon and eggs that makes him open his eyes and tilt his head, finding Harry behind the kitchen counter in the same clothes, but with wet hair, clean face, and a frying pan in his hands.
“Morning, Lou,” he says.
And who wants to cry hard , now, is Louis. Because there Harry is, in all his glory, making Louis’ breakfast on a Thursday like the last fifteen months haven’t happened. Like they’re still back in London, in their house, and they’ll spend the day making out in the pool and taking stupid Polaroids for their stupid wall in their stupid music room.
“Morning,” Louis manages to say and gets up. He notices he isn’t wearing his vans anymore and imagines that Harry took them off at some point. His shirt is a bit wrinkled and he’s sure his hair is disheveled, so he asks Harry where the bathroom is and goes in there to try and freshen up.
It’s nothing new when he realizes he is a mess, but this isn’t even the other boy’s fault. Louis is rarely not a mess. He washes his face and does the best he can with his fingers to tame his hair that has no product whatsoever in it. This will have to do.
He makes it back to the kitchen after telling himself to just be cool and smiles when he sees that Harry is already seated at the table, both of their plates set with tea and juice too. Louis thanks him and digs in. He doesn’t even stop to say anything because this is just so, so good . Louis has missed it so much.
“It’s not Starbucks, but-” Harry jokes and Louis looks at him for the first time since he started eating. Harry’s got a smirk on his face that Louis wants to wipe it off his face.
“It’s not funny,” he replies.
“It kinda is, it’s like- Louis Tomlinson’s official stunt spot,” his ex laughs.
“C’mon, I’m just joking, Louis, who am I to judge?” He shrugs and bites on his egg. He is right; he is no one to judge, since Harry himself has been part of big, big stunts. Still, Louis never likes when he brings it up, because, at some point, Harry was willing to stop, and Louis just kept going. Harry never pretended to understand him, but never questioned either, not until their break up.
“The food’s really good, H,” Louis chooses to say. “But I’m still going to need an explanation.” Louis completes and Harry nods.
They finish eating and while Harry loads the dishwasher, Louis has half a mind to grab his phone and text Oli to let him know he won’t be arriving in the United States today after all. His friend doesn’t reply and Louis turns his phone off, leaving it on the coffee table and sitting down on the couch again, waiting for Harry to come to him.
Louis can’t pretend he doesn’t study Harry while he moves in the kitchen. The weak sunlight coming from the living room window makes the place seem bigger than it actually is, and as Harry puts away what they didn’t use, Louis’ eyes focus on the way his back moves, the way his biceps are bigger and seem harder; he roams Harry’s entire body with his eyes and still can’t find one imperfection.
He forgets, most days, Louis does. He has a system of keeping himself busy until he needs to go to bed so he doesn’t think much about Harry. Now that he is here, though, he sees no reason to deny himself the pleasure of taking in Harry Styles’s presence.
Harry notices that Louis is looking, because he isn’t stupid, but he doesn’t comment on it. Instead, when he comes back to the couch and sits at arm’s length from Louis, he does the same. Like always, Harry’s eyes stop on Louis’s collarbones and get darker. He moves quickly, and Louis would feel uncomfortable and scrutinized, but it isn’t like Harry has never seen or tasted every part of him, and it’s not like Louis has never done the same to Harry so it’s nice that they can, at least, give each other the opportunity to take the other in.
“Thank you for coming,” Harry’s voice is low when he speaks.
“Like I said, you asked me to.”
“We haven’t seen each other in months, Louis.” Harry sighs.
“We said we’d still be there for each other. You were there for me in January, H, when most people weren’t.”
“I’m always going to be there for you.” He says seriously.
“And I for you.” Louis replies matter-of-factly. “Now out with it,” he says and nudges Harry’s thigh with his knee.
Harry breathes in and out to prepare himself.
“I think this acting thing was a bad idea after all,” the other boy says. “What was I thinking, Louis?” He laughs with no humor in his voice. “I wasn’t ready for it, I’m not good enough for it and now everyone will know- I can’t go through another 2011.”
Louis knows what Harry means. 2011 was probably the best and worst year of their lives, because the bigger they got, the more uncertain they were that they could actually make it – the criticism never helped, and if Louis was the one to take it the hardest from the record label, Harry, for sure, was the one who suffered the most in the hands of the media.
It is normal that Harry is feeling this way. Louis understands he is nervous and he understands why he is feeling like this, and by understanding it, he also understands why Harry texted him instead of anybody else to be here right now.
You see, any other person would tell Harry not to feel this way. Whoever he called – it being family or an old friend, another bandmate or one of his LA mates – was going to say stop this, Harry, you know you’re Harry Styles, people love you , but they would all be so. Seriously. Wrong.
Because the thing is: Harry isn’t aware of who he is to the world. When people say that fame hasn’t changed him at all, not in the way it generally changes people, they don’t know it’s because even though Harry’s evolved as an artist and grown as a person, he still has the same insecurities as the sixteen year old boy that auditioned for The X Factor six years ago.
Harry Styles is still self-conscious about pimples on his face and the extra fat on his tummy if he stops exercising for over two weeks; he stills trains harder than any of them in vocal coaching and he still doubts that he is as good as Louis or Liam as a songwriter. No one else knows this, but Louis does. And Louis is here, to tell him that it’s okay to feel this way, you are allowed to be scared .
“Hey, yes, you can,” Louis tells him, holding his gaze. “It’s hard as fuck, but when did you ever want anything easy, Harry?” He asks the other boy. “You went there, you auditioned like everybody else, competed with other actors and got the part, so… Fucking Christopher Nolan thought you were ready and right . I think he understands a bit more about acting than you,” he jokes and Harry laughs a bit.
“It’s just—it gets harder every day. Filming, that is.”
“It’s like- I wear the same clothes every day, and they put some dirty-make up thing on my face every day, right?” He pauses and Louis nods. “And then there’s a lot of running and climbing walls and diving into the ocean, but also… There are lots of hard scenes.”
“It is a war movie, H.”
“I know, it’s just- people die, you know?” He furrows his eyebrows.
“But not for real, silly! I promise you the blood is probably just ketchup…”
Harry rolls his eyes. Louis has already made him smile twice, so they’re on the right track.
“It’s not it, you git,” he tells Louis. “Those scenes in which people die are intense, you know? You’re supposed to convey emotion and- like, I feel like a fraud. Those people have years of experience on me and there I am thinking about a sad thing to try and focus on what’s going on.”
“And does it work?” Louis asks and Harry nods. “So…?”
“I don’t know, I just- I don’t know , Louis, but I sometimes cannot breathe in there; it always hits me— the magnitude of it and I- I just. I just needed to see you,” he finishes weakly.
“I’m here, yeah?” He grabs Harry’s hand and squeezes it. “When d’you film next?” Louis asks him.
“And it’s one of those scenes?”
“Yes. But I swear I almost called in sick- I don’t even know if actors can do that, because I’m not an actor but I… I texted you instead.”
“First of all… You are an actor. Get used to it,” he chuckles. “You did well asking me to come here, Styles,” Louis smiles at him. “Because here’s what is going to happen: you have one more hour to wallow in your misery and feel sorry for yourself. You can cry, if you’d like.” Louis offers. “Or I can tell you about my life in the past few months, whichever you prefer, honestly, I’m here for you…”
“Second option, thank you,” a small smile appears on Harry’s face. “And after that one hour?’
“After that one hour you’ll grab your script and we’ll rehearse tomorrow’s scene.” Louis kind of commands. Harry’s eyes widen comically, but he nods unsurely anyway. “We’ll rehearse it till I say, in all of my Netflix experience, that you’re good to go. And after that you’ll cook us dinner, we’ll watch something, I’ll make fun of your hair and you’ll go to bed early.”
“I hate my hair,” he says in a low voice again. “I hate walking around without a beanie and I- yeah, I miss my curls.”
Louis’ heart breaks once again, and he moves closer just to touch it – it’s still soft and full and Harry’s.
“I love your hair,” Louis tells him.
“But you miss the curls too,” Harry states. Louis doesn’t argue with him there.
“You’re the most gorgeous person I’ve ever known, Harry. This is not going to change because you got your hair cut. Plus, you still look hot.” He offers him the compliment and Harry takes it, grinning and blushing – his dimples appearing for the first time today.
“You look hot, too, by the way. Always.”
“I know,” Louis brushes off because they can’t go down this road. “So, how does my plan sound?”
“You really want to rehearse with me? It can be ridiculous!” Harry warns. “You don’t know the plot and-”
“You can fill me in. Or not, if you want me to be overall surprised when I buy every ticket the nearest cinema is offering to your movie when it comes out…” They both laugh. Harry knows that Louis would do that. “Will that make you feel more comfortable? To rehearse today without an audience?”
“So it’s settled.”
“I still have an hour, though!” Harry reminds him.
“Better make good use of it then.”
“Start talking, Lou,” the younger boy says. “I want to know about everything. How’s L.A? How’s your son? How- how are you?”
So Louis starts, and for one hour it’s like nothing’s ever changed.
Louis is Harry’s best friend, yes, but Harry is his too. It doesn’t matter how long they spend apart or how many people Louis meets along the way, at the end of the day it’s always Harry, the person he will feel more comfortable with, simply because Harry is his favorite person in the world – his favorite person to do everything with.
Harry’s Louis’ favorite person to talk with, to play videogames with, to drink tea with and watch movies with. So it’s no surprise that once he starts babbling about his insane schedule back in Los Angeles, he just can’t stop. He tells him about waking up really early sometimes just to go into the studio and prepare himself for the day ahead and he tells him about picking Freddie up every other day to just spend some time with him before having to go on another pap walk.
Louis tells Harry about how dirty he feels every time he does it. (They don’t go too deep into it, not now, because Louis doesn’t want Harry to end up comforting him – Louis doesn’t even think he deserves to be comforted, since he is the one doing it all, technically, out of his own free will.)
“I’ve read some rumors online…” Harry comments. “Is the custody battle really a thing? You didn’t mention anything in our previous texts…” Harry asks.
Louis loves that Harry’s just asked this; he loves it that he didn’t tiptoe around the topic like everyone who knows Louis generally does. But that’s just how they’ve always been, isn’t it? Louis and Harry never needed to be drunk or in the dark to talk about their deepest scars, fears and problems, so it’s only natural that Harry comes up with this question in broad daylight.
“No, it’s not,” Louis huffs out, “but it might as well become one.”
“I hate her,” he chuckles. “I truly hate her, Harry, and her entire fucking family. But I also think he needs her, because he is a baby and she’s his mother, so…”
“But if you still see him, there’s no reason to go to court. Even if you hate her. Does she take good care of him?” Harry questions.
“Yeah, to an extent. She does expose him a lot.”
“So do you,” he points out.
“I hate myself too,” Louis grimaces. “It’s like there is this big ball of craziness growing more and more in Los Angeles, and all I can think about is that one day Freddie’s gonna grow up and have access to all of it, and I won’t be able to explain it to him, because I myself have no idea of what is going on.” He sighs.
“I don’t get it,” Harry frowns. “If it’s bothering you so much, why don’t you just stop it? I mean- you could, if you wanted to. We’re not contractually obligated to do any of this anymore. You don’t belong to Simon, Lou.”
Harry has a very valid argument right there.
“I think I just- I was scared,” he shrugs, “and I didn’t know how to handle it at the beginning, so I let them handle it. And now I can’t see a way out.”
“I’m sorry, Lou,” Harry offers and places a hand on his shoulder.
“It is what it is,” he grimaces one more time. “He’s great, though, you know? I know it might come across as if I don’t give a damn, but he’s just- he’s amazing.”
“Course he is. He looks just like you, by the way. He’s got your nose.” Louis looks weirdly at Harry now. He hasn’t sent Harry pictures of Freddie in forever. And the only and last time he saw Louis’ son, Freddie was still a week old, so unless Louis’ family has been keeping him updated on his growth… “I might’ve stalked Briana’s instagram the other day,” Harry laughs and puts an end to Louis’ questions. “She followed me,” he shrugs, “people on twitter were going mad about it, so I went and checked it out, it’s been a while.”
“I’m telling you, she’s insane,” Louis snorts. “I think the only person she’s more jealous of than Danielle is you.”
“She knows about us?” Harry’s eyes widen, as if there is one person in Louis’ personal life that doesn’t know that they were together, that Louis loved him with all the love he’s ever had to love someone, all the love he will ever have to love anyone.
Louis doesn’t even have the strength to reply to Harry, so he just nods.
“What about Danielle? You actually dating her? Actually, where do you know her from? That was so out of the blue,” Harry chuckles.
“You know I’m not,” Louis rolls his eyes. “She’s just a friend, there isn’t even a contract, we’re just helping each other out- I’ve known her brother for a while.”
“Hm.” Harry’s got his jealous expression on. And it would make Louis feel good if that weren’t so unfair. “Do I get to ask if you’re dating anyone for real?”
“Course you do,” he allows. “You get to ask everything.” Louis pauses and considers his next words. “I am. Well, don’t know if dating is the right word, but d’you remember David from that club we used to go in Silver Lake?”
“The TV director?” Harry asks and Louis nods. “No,” he laughs. “You used to make fun of him all the time.”
“He’s hot, Harry,” Louis shrugs.
“That he is.” The other boy smiles. “How long?”
“A couple of months. He’s easygoing and doesn’t pressure me; it’s been nice, and it’s all very private. Only Danielle and Oli know- and now you.”
“You’ve got a nice smile on your face, you know?” Harry offers. “Think you’re gonna fall for him?”
“You know I won’t,” Louis replies too quickly. But oh well, it’s the true.
“So let me get this straight: your family thinks you’re dating Danielle too?” Louis nods. “That’s fucked up.”
“It is. But although Daisy and Phoebe are old enough to understand the bullshit now, they’re not young enough to keep their mouths shut anymore. Lottie just doesn’t care, I’m pretty sure she hates me at this point. And Fizzy is uncontrollable. Mom’s just disappointed in me, all the time. I couldn’t put them through another lie, could I?” He looks down.
See, this is what Harry does to him: he makes him say what Louis really thinks, what he coaches himself to believe that he isn’t thinking. It’s as exhausting as it is liberating. And Louis is pretty sure Harry’s “hour” is almost over.
“I’m not judging, but…”
“But I think Jay should know. And Lottie doesn’t hate you, she misses you.”
“She talks to you?” Louis asks, raising his eyes.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to Louis, because Harry and Lottie have always been a gang of their own, but it’s still a bit of a shock to realize that two of the people he used to be the closest to are still close without him in the equation.
“Tell her I said hi.”
“You can tell her yourself.”
“Yeah…” Louis trails off. His last phone calls with his sister have been nothing but weird. “What about you, Styles? You dating anyone?”
Louis doesn’t even realize he is holding his breath until Harry laughs quietly and shakes his head.
“No,” he says, “haven’t since I started filming anyway. Or before that, I don’t know…”
“Not even Xander?” Louis asks with a sour taste in his mouth. He honestly supports Harry in whatever or whoever he wants to do , but he’s been around Xander many times to know he doesn’t like the man.
“We broke up ages ago.” He tells him and Louis frowns, so Harry explains. “He said I love you, I obviously didn’t say it back, so.”
Harry said I love you to Louis less than two months into their relationship. Louis said it back.
“What a pair we are,” Louis chuckles, throwing his head back and resting it on the back of the couch. He then looks at Harry. “Are we ever gonna fall in love again, Hazz? With other people, I mean.” He asks him in a quieter tone.
Harry studies him for a while, squints his eyes and smiles sadly.
“I don’t know, Lou,” the boy finally answers. Something tells him that Harry’s thinking the same thing Louis is: not like that; never again like that.
Harry’s “hour” ends and Louis excuses himself from the living room to change into something other than skinny jeans. Harry offers him clothes so Louis doesn’t need to mess his things up in the suitcase and he accepts it in a heartbeat. Louis schools himself not to dwell in it – on its smell or on how it looks on him, on how he’s missed the softness that only something that was worn-out by Harry can have. He makes it back to the living room and there is Harry, script in one hand, coffee in the other, offering him some.
Louis bypasses the coffee and grabs one copy from Harry’s hand, doing something obnoxious to lighten the mood up, trying not to focus on the way Harry’s eyes pierce his shoulder and collar bones, where his too big of a shirt lets Louis’ body be half-exposed. Louis sits in an armchair and, after opening the window (Harry’s floor is high enough that they don’t need to worry about anyone seeing them), Harry stands in front of him, saying that he will start.
And it’s nice. The scene is pretty good and very intense, just like Harry had told him. Louis understands why it’s hard for the boy to find a connection with it, because it’s something that he never went through, would never go through in his entire life. It’s even hard to read it, because when Louis thinks about it, he also thinks that someone has already been through something similar – someone is going through it as they speak, and since the reality of war isn’t something that Louis thinks about every day, or ever, if he’s being honest, it hits him like a truck when he goes through the text one more time.
“It still isn’t right,” Harry voices.
“No,” he agrees and skims through it once again.
“When you say that you think about sad things to, like, get into character, what do you think about?” Louis asks him without raising his eyes from the paper.
“Usually, like- people dying, how fucked up the world is… Those kinds of terrible things,” he shrugs.
“Nothing personal?” He asks, now looking at Harry.
“Not generally, no, it wouldn’t have much to do with the story… So…”
“But no one needs to know that.”
“What do you mean?”
“You’ll never know what war pain means, Harry.” Louis tells him. “As much as you’re politically aware, you have no idea of what it’s like to see men in uniform killing children and women around you, your best friends dying in crossfire, that sort of thing… And thank God for that,” he huffs out a laugh. “But you, Harry Styles, you know pain .” He states sadly. “I know you do, because I… I’ve seen you in pain, and I’ve shared your pain, so…” He looks down. “This script is amazing, and this scene’s gonna come out great if you just-”
“Focus on my saddest memory.” He finishes Louis’ sentence with wonder in his voice.
“Ok, yeah, ok. Let’s try this again.”
They go through it three more times. Louis may be a little bit biased, but he thinks Harry is brilliant , and when he says so, Harry goes from ‘teary-eyes’ to ‘wide-grin’ in less than one second, thanking Louis and hugging him tight, lifting him from the ground and twirling around in the middle of the flat.
“Put me down, you oaf,” Louis laughs. “I knew you could do it.”
“Do you wanna come tomorrow?” Harry blurts out. “I mean- you don’t have to, but- if you wanted to see the set and everything…”
“I don’t know, will I get to meet Mark Rylance?” Louis challenges.
“You’ll get to have lunch with Mark Rylance.”
“You serious?” His eyes widen. Louis has always been a proper fanboy; that hasn’t changed.
“Yes, Lou, I’m serious,” Harry chuckles. “You sure you want to come? ‘Cause then I’ll send your name in, so you get a credential to walk around and all that…”
“I mean, are you sure? Won’t I get in the way?” He checks. Harry says no, of course not . “Then I’d love to.”
Harry gets his MacBook to send the email and check some other things, and Louis turns his phone on again to check if Oli replied – he not only did, but also called a fuck-ton of times. He excuses himself and goes to Harry’s room to call his friend, not wanting to argue with anyone in front of Harry since he’s already stressed enough.
Louis was already waiting for him to say what the fuck are you doing there, Louis? when he picked up the phone, but he still gets pretty annoyed when Oli tells him how stupid Louis is being for going after Harry the second Harry asked him to. And Louis wants to argue, but there is no way he can explain to a person without sounding completely pathetic that that’s just the way it is.
It doesn’t matter how crazy life is, what he is doing or how long it has been, Harry will ask him to come and Louis will do so; just like the grass in green, the sky is blue and Taylor Swift is fake, Louis is going to be there for Harry no matter what, because Harry would do – has done – it for him too. But Louis understands why Oli can’t see it, since he is the one who picks up Louis’ pieces every time he breaks down missing his ex-boyfriend.
Oli warns him that he will crash and burn again, and Louis just nods, sighs, maybe chuckles nervously a little and says he won’t, they’re good now. He wants to convince himself they can do this, he can do this.
There’s a knock on the door and it startles him, so he ends the call and turns to see Harry standing there.
“Can I come in?”
“It’s your room,” Louis smiles.
“Wanna watch something?” Harry asks with his laptop in hands. “But in bed because my back’s hurting from that couch.”
“Sure, what are we watching? A movie? A TV show?”
“We could watch a movie- what are you in the mood for?” Harry moves to the bed and places the laptop there in the middle; he then gestures for Louis to join him and Louis goes, sitting comfortably by Harry’s side and staring at the Netflix screen in front of him.
“Any romcom is good with me, you know it.”
“Choose one, then,” Harry turns the computer to him. “You’ll end up picking one we’ve already watched a hundred times anyways…”
Louis rolls his eyes, but doesn’t even reply, because Harry is spot on. He clicks on the search bar and types The Notebook in there, preparing himself to suppress any tears that are bound to come, but at the same time feeling giddy inside that he and Harry will watch it together again.
“I have a question…” Louis starts, loudly and theatrically. “By any chance, is this still my account?” Harry smiles mischievously back at him. “Honestly, Styles, you’re a millionaire and you don’t even pay for your Netflix account…” He rolls his eyes and Harry shoves him on the shoulder.
Louis presses play.
I am nothing special; just a common man with common thoughts, and I’ve led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten. But in one respect I have succeeded as gloriously as anyone who’s ever lived: I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul; and to me, this has always been enough.
As the movie keeps going, Louis notices that Harry can’t help but lean into him. They’re sitting side by side, balancing the laptop on their thighs, and the sadder the story gets, the closer Harry is. And Louis can feel him all around. He feels all of the places where their bodies are touching, and when Harry places his head on Louis’ shoulder, he can feel a few of his tears wetting the shirt Louis is wearing.
For a few minutes Louis thinks back to the X-Factor. He remembers exactly the first time they watched this movie, in a tiny bunkbed and how tightly he held Harry that night, how much he already loved him right then, running his fingers through his messy curls and telling him to calm down, it was just a movie .
But it was never just a movie to them. Not because of the plot itself, but because of what it represented: an undying love. A love that would cross any boundary. A love that would last through eternity. Something that even when they weren’t mature enough to understand, they already felt.
The best love is the kind that awakens the soul and makes us reach for more, that plants a fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds, and that’s what you’ve given me. What I hope to give you forever. I love you.
So maybe Louis is crying a bit too. Maybe this was a terrible idea, but maybe both of them needed this moment. Maybe this is how they truly reconnect.
After the movie ends, they stare at each other and laugh. And then Harry thanks him, and Louis just hugs Harry. He doesn’t want to let go, but he eventually does, and he and Harry move to the kitchen to fetch some dinner. It’s all quiet and domestic, but Louis doesn’t let himself think too much about it.
Harry fills him in on other aspects of his life and he does the same. They talk a bit about the band. They mention how bizarre Liam and Cheryl are together and how afraid they are of asking if they’re actually a couple or if it’s just another stunt to help her. Who knows.
“And what about Neil?” Louis leans on the counter. “Is he actually going to work with Modest!? I mean… Weren’t we going to stay the fuck away?”
Harry just shrugs.
“It’s about golf, not music- if it works for him and doesn’t keep me in the closet for the next five years, I’m fine with it,” Harry chuckles.
“You really wanna come out, don’t you?”
“It’s more like… I don’t want to hide, is all,” he tells him.
“Yeah. I’m not about to make a big gay announcement,” Harry tells him. “I just don’t wanna do any more straight PR.”
“Not even with Kendall?” Louis teases. But he knows better. What happened in December was almost like a favor to her . And Louis actually finds Kendall Jenner a right laugh. Plus, he never felt threatened by her, so. Harry laughs back and calls Louis a menace. Just another day in their lives.
“Tea’s ready,” Harry lets him know when Louis comes out of the shower.
“Thanks,” he smiles shyly and grabs his cuppa. He doesn’t even need to drink it to know it’s perfect, because Harry made it, and Harry knows how Louis takes his tea, has made it for him countless times.
Louis agrees to sleep in Harry’s bed after the third time Harry assures him that it’s fine, the bed is big enough for the two of them. And it is, but that’s not what Louis is worried about, no. He’s not worried about sleeping by Harry’s side – he’s worried about remembering what it feels like to sleep by Harry’s side and then going back to his huge mansion and his own king size bed with no one to fill the empty space.
They say goodnight and Harry turns off the lights, lying by Louis’ side, leaving, of course, a respectable space between them. The room is in complete silence apart from cars passing down the street. They have to wake up at six in the morning, which is why they’re already in bed at nine thirty p.m. Louis wants Harry to fall asleep first, because then he’ll be able to sleep peacefully too, but as the time passes, no matter how hard Harry tries not to move, he can’t fool Louis into believing he’s already asleep.
“You’re still awake,” Louis whispers in the dark.
“I haven’t moved,” Harry whines defeated and Louis smiles endeared.
“Your breath is all wrong,” he offers back.
“I’ve slept with you for years, Harry.” I used to count your heartbeats to fall asleep. “Have you been having trouble going to sleep every night?”
“For how long?” He questions him, eyes wide open. He can feel Harry’s gaze on him, now that he’s shifted on the bed, but he keeps staring at the ceiling.
“A bit more than a year.” Harry confesses. Louis wants dig a hole in the ground and bury his head in it.
“You need to sleep, Hazz,” he then turns to him, watching him with a fond expression. “Those scenes are… Draining, emotionally speaking. And you wake up really early every day from what you’ve told me.”
“I lie down pretty early, Lou; I just don’t fall asleep easily, is all.”
“What d’you need, Harry?” He asks.
“You know what I need.”
Louis just opens his arms and waits for Harry to scoot closer, tangle their legs and rest his head on Louis’ shoulder. He squeezes Louis’ middle and thanks him in the smallest of voices, and Louis doesn’t have the strength or courage to say anything back, he just kisses Harry’s head and closes his eyes, praying that he won’t miss him too much when he goes back to real life .
Harry’s breaths even in one minute. He’s asleep.