Chapter 1: One
This is falling in love (but baby it's the cruelest way)
Louis Tomlinson couldn't remember a day in his life he felt normal. He was only five when he landed a lead role in a family tv series, from then on it was constant movies and new televison roles. When he was thirteen he won his first grammy and thereafter he would succeed in winning six more. He never minded the fame, he adored his fans more than anything but sometimes; just sometimes; he imagined what it would be like to be normal. What it would feel to have real friends, or a real boyfriend. It seemed like everyone in his life now stayed with him for his fame, and it could all be gone tomorrow. What then?
That's why he made this decision, it's currently the reason his mom was giving him a incredulous look; why his dad couldn't stop laughing at him. Not that he really expected them to understand, they never got any of the decisions he made himself.
"Why on earth would you want to go to uni, Louis? I didn't understand your need to finish college and I certainly don't understand this either." Her arms were crosses over her chest, one eyebrow raised expectantly and lips pursed. Louis knew that look all too well. He took this moment of silence as an opportunity to push a brochure across the table. His mother glanced down at it briefly.
"Mom," he began cautiously. "Dad. I've spent my entire life being different, never sure if I had real friends. And now that Freddie's World has finally wrapped it's last season I thought it would be a great chance for a little break. Focus on my education, learn what it's like to be on my own and finally have a normal life."
His mother continued to give him a confused look before she sighed, reaching over to pick up the brochure. "University of Hawaii." She read carefully. "You expect us to let you move to America?"
"Mom, c'mon," he gave her a flat glance. "We both know I'm eighteen, and have more than enough money to do this. I was asking out of respect but if it comes down to it, I'll leave here without it."
His mom sent him her best withering glare. "Mark, talk some sense into your step son." His dad didn't reply, and when they both looked at him he seemed almost guilty. "Mark!"
"I think it could be good?" he turned to her with a soft smile. "I'll admit, at first I thought this entire thing was ridiculous but Louis makes some good points. He works so hard, the least he can do is try to live a normal life for a little while," Mark reached over to grab his wife's hand on the table. "This isn't the end, you know. Just call it a break. For education."
She stared at him with frustration, her tan skin turning an angry red. And after a moment she huffed, sliding loudly out of her chair and stomping up the stairs. Louis looked at his step father, surprise evident on his expression. "You're really okay with this?"
Mark slid his chair over to Louis' and placed a gentle hand on his knee. "I'll miss you like hell, kid," he admitted. "But I get it. This could be great for you. I don't think I or your mom have any right to forbid you from going."
Louis flung his arms around Mark, a wide grin spreading on his face. "Thank you!"
Four months later
The tension had been high around Louis' house since then. His mother was silently protesting and by that he meant completely ignoring both Louis and Mark. She took all her meals into her office, and that's where she stayed the rest of the day. Sometimes Louis would try to talk, try to get anything from her, but it was as if she looked right through him. What hurt the most was when she even refused to come to the airport to see him off.
But even after dealing with her, it was refreshing, to say the least, when he finally stood in front of this white door, 'Louis' scribbled on flimsy paper that clung to the top. Liam (probably the only real friend he has) stood next to him, a wide grin spread across his face. He had been estatic to hear Louis would be starting here, they knew each other since birth and had planned most of their future together. When Liam went off to uni and Louis chose his career it had been extremely difficult for the two, suddenly only seeing each other summers and holidays.
"So," Liam fiddled with the room key, struggling to hold his boxes and open the door. "Are you ready? I've been waiting for this moment forever. I guess this is it. Welcome to Uni, Lou."
Louis entered first, dragging his suitcase behind him and taking a moment to examine the blank room. It was exactly what he expected, a new feeling of freedom rushed over him. He could hear slight cheers and cries from down the hall, where the security guards blocked off the hallway until Louis finally became situated. Louis hadn't entirely approved of the idea but Mark said it would make him more comfortable, and after all Mark did who was Louis to argue?
"Wow," Louis grinned, dumping everything he had on the farside bed. "Look at this place. Look at me. I finally did it, I'm actually on my own."
Liam chuckled, scratching the back of his head. "I mean, not completely. You're stuck with me, you know."
He fell back on his new bed with a heavy sigh, arms and legs all spread out. From across the room Liam's phone buzzed and a brief second later banging echoed off the door, scaring the absolute shit out of Louis. Before he could react Liam was already on it, opening the door a good amount and Louis only saw a breif flash of blonde before Liam was being tackled to the ground. "Dude, what is up with those eggheads blocking the hall? You know what I had to do to get through? Practically suck one off, that's what."
Louis sat up curiously, a small smile threatening to escape his lips as he saw a small blonde sitting on Liam's lap, fussing up his short hair with one hand. Liam laughed, pushed the boy off him and stood back up. "Niall, those eggheads there are just here to make sure Louis settles in nicely."
The boy, Niall, turned around as if just noticing Louis' presence. When he noticed the actor on the bed his mouth fell open, face flushing the moment they locked eyes. "You're-you." He breathed.
Louis flashed him a small smile. "I'm me, yes."
"But what are you-why are you-how are you-"
"He decided to go back to school. Wanted to take a little bit of a break," Liam placed a reassuring hand on Niall's shoulder. "Didn't you, Lou?"
Niall's head snapped back to Liam. "Lou? Why do you call him Lou?"
"I don't know," Liam stated truthfully. "I have been ever since we were like five?"
"You mean to tell me," Niall started accusingly. "We've been friends for two years and you decided to leave out that you knew Louis Tomlinson. The Louis Tomlinson?"
"We're best friends actually," Louis corrected from his spot on the bed. "Have been since forever."
Niall looked back and forth between them before exhaling and stepping forward, outstretching his arm. Louis politely accepted.
"I'm Niall, it's so good to meet you. I love you in quite literally everything you've been in. Huge fan, seriously." He didn't let go of Louis' hand until Louis had to awkwardly use all his force to pull away.
"Well thank you, Niall. That's always great to hear."
"You've got to meet the rest of our group, we're meeting down at Punchbowl in ten. You guys in?"
"Oh, I'm not too sure," Liam started. "We had a long plane ride and Louis, you see, probably should keep a low profile for-"
"I'm in," Louis hopped up from the bed. "Come on, Li. I want to meet your friends."
Liam, still unsure, added, "seriously, Lou, we should rest. We still have to unpack."
"We can do that whenever. I said I wanted normal, right? This is normal. Be honest, if I wasn't here you'd already be gone, right?,
Liam only hesitated for another moment before grabbing his room key and shoving it in his pocket. "Alright, let's get going."
Niall clapped his hands together enthusiastically. "Sweet, man you have no idea how much Harry is going to cream when he-"
Before Niall could finish Liam kicked him out the door. Louis smiled after them, he already knew he was going to like it here.
Punchbowl turned out to be a pretty decent cafe. Beanbags thrown on the floor and a obvious hipster vibe within. Liam ordered his usual, tea and a chocolate crepe and Louis, unsure, ordered the same. They settled together in a corner by two large windows and slipped into an easy conversation. Niall, Louis learned, was originally from Ireland. After his parents divorced when he had just turned three his father won custody and they moved out to Hawaii a year later, Niall's been here ever since. He has an older brother, but he stayed with his mom in Ireland and they haven't seen each other since.
He was easy to talk to, Louis decided. Once he got over the shock he loosened up fast, didn't seem to care much about impressing Louis and instead focused on keeping the conversation going. He talked a lot, it was another thing he noticed, but Louis didn't really seem to mind. In fact he liked how for once the conversation wasn't focused on him.
It was only ten minutes that past before the door opened and in another flash the blonde was standing, waving his arms above his head and calling out. Louis looked over at Liam, picking another corner from his crepe and raising his eyebrows. "He sure is fast, isn't he?"
Liam looked fondly up at Niall. "Just excited," he responded. Liam stood up as two other boys approached him. He side hugged the one with dark raven hair first, then moved on to the other one. Louis' eyes trailed up his long legs, which seemed to go on forever. He was smiling, dimples carving into his cheeks and a curly mop of hair falling in front of a lovely pair of bright green eyes. Louis examined his broad shoulders, eyes scanning over the muscles that flexed under his loose white tee. Louis had to look away, for fear of drooling. "Zayn, Harry, how was your summer, lads?"
"Great," the raven beamed, glancing over at the curly haired boy. "Mate, so much happened-I swear to god-"
"Don't be rude, Liam," Niall nudged him excitedly, obvious laughter being pushed down. "Introduce them to your friend, Harry I think you'll be extra-"
Liam shoved him away. "Okay, uh, guys this is Louis. We've kinda known each other for awhile and he's just starting this year."
He stepped aside, finally revealing Louis as, he too, stood up. He swears the world stopped when he noticed he only reached the tall boy's shoulders. He looked up, met the raven's gaze first and smiled warmly. "Hey."
"Uhm, hi?" The boy looked at Liam and cleared his throat. "Hey, I'm Zayn. It's great to meet you, Louis."
Louis gave a small nod and slowly turned to look up at the other boy. His pale cheeks were flushed, and he was leaning away as if afraid Louis would hurt him. He didn't say anything for a long time, just stared down at Louis with a frog like look written upon his face, eyes bulging from his head. When the silence drew on, long enough for discomfort Louis gave a small, awkward cough. The boy choose then to spin around and exclaim, "I've got to go to the bathroom."
Only he never came back.
"I mean, seriously, Li. Who does something like that? What kind of friend is he anyway?" Louis knew he spent too long dwelling on Harry, he knew it must have been frustrating he wouldn't shut up about it since they were alone together again. But come on, you can't blame him really. He means a lot to Li, and totally ditched them. It's just rude, that's what it is.
From across the room he heard a sigh emerge and when he looked over Liam was looking at his watch. "Don't take it personally, Lou. Harry's just a strange one and-" Lohis scoffed, earning himself a glare. "And he would never mean to be rude. But if it helps we're meeting them all down in the cafe for dinner in a couple minutes, so I'm sure you can talk to Harry about it then."
"I'm not gonna talk to him about it," Louis stated, bewildered. "If I try there's a good chance he'll ditch us again anyway."
Liam smiled. "Probably."
Chapter 2: Two
Two: Didn’t you calm my fears with your Cheshire cat smile?
By the time Louis and Liam got through the crazy line surrounding the food stands Niall had already gathered the other three to their usual table. It was warm out, so Louis didn't mind eating near the beach. He approached with caution, already able to make out a certain curly haired boy sitting in between the two, body hunched over his tray of tacos. It seemed Niall had been teasing him, nudging his shouldee with a playful smile written on his lips. He shut up when they got close enough, eyes brightening instantly.
"I was starting to wonder when you dicks would be joining us," he grinned, kicking Liam's chair out across from him so he could sit down. Louis glanced at Harry, who still refused to look at him. He sat down next to Liam and picked at his burger.
"Sorry, living with an actor is hard. They take their time getting ready." He shot an amused glance at Louis.
He huffed defensively and gestured to himself. "It takes time to look as good as I always do, you know."
From across the table, Harry flinched. Then there was a sudden, small thud, which caused a yelp to escape Harry. His pale skin deepened with red and he slowly raised his head to look at Louis. He was smiling, very obviously forced. "Sorry about before, uh, Louis. I wasn't feeling well," they both knew he was lying. But Louis chose not to comment on it. "Probably something I ate."
Louis continued to look at him, eyes squinting with curiosity. He hated how cute he thought the blush on Harry's cheeks was. He hated how his smile made him want to smile straight back. He hated how they just met, and all he wanted was to know more about him. He pushed all those feelings away and instead lifted his shoulders in a small shrug. "It happens," his answer was simple. "No worries."
"So Z," Liam interjected. "You and H have yet to tell us just how crazy your summer's been."
Zayn noticeably beamed, he sat up straighter, looked at the boy beside him grinned. "Our parents went away for, like, the entire summer dude. It was constant parties and girls; well, boys for you, right H?" Harry's skin grew even darker and he sent a guilty smile Louis'way. "Fourth of july was the best. H got so fucked, fucked two dudes and then threw up all over himself."
"Okay!" Harry clapped his hands together and swiped his curls off his forehead awkwardly. "No need for that story, man. Don't we have to get ready for Chad's anyway?"
Niall was the first to jump up, always the excited one. "Fuck! How could we almost forget about Chad's? Seriously guys, there's no time for food. I'm positive ninety percent of the school is already getting ready."
Louis shot a sideways glance at Liam. "What's Chad's?"
"He's a super senior, and every year he throws the craziest back to class party. It's the most talked about party of the entire year, people go crazy," Zayn explained with a tiny smile. "Isn't that right, H?"
Suddenly Harry found himself at everyone's full attention. He saw Louis staring at him, eyes deep blue and glistening. He turned away, muttering, "I don't know what you're talking about. Niall's right though, we need to start getting ready." He stood up, legs still going on for what seemed like miles. "It was nice meeting you, Louis," he nodded sternly in Louis' direction and practically sprinted away.
Zayn was next to stand beside Niall, a wide smile still lingering on his lips. He wasn't afraid to meet Louis' eyes. "Yeah, I'm sure we'll be seeing you at Chad's."
"Can't wait, dress to impress, man!" Niall waved enthusiastically at them and together both Zayn and Niall followed after Harry.
Louis looked down at his plate, then back up at Liam with a small pout. "Is it just me or does it seem like Harry can't stand to be around me for more than a couple minutes?"
Liam sent him a flat look. "It's just you, mate. Harry's not like that." Before Louis could reply Liam leaned over, stuffing a spoonful of mashed potatoes in his mouth and effectively shutting him up.
Louis wasn't one to brag, really. He never felt the need to rub everything he had in other people's faces. It was just downright rude, and he's met (and hated) plenty of stars who did that.
But come on, seriously. There was no denying that on this moment he looked absolutely stunning. It wasn't just him either. The moment he came out of the bathroom Liam's eyebrows shot up and he gave a loud cat call. "Who are you trying to impress?" He gave Louis a lingering once over.
Louis turned to put his dirty clothes in the laundry basket and if that, in turn, hid his smile it was just a coincidence. "No one," he stated truthfully. "It's just my first uni party, can you blame me for wanting to look good?"
"Well no," Liam's slow drawl was almost hesitant. "But there's good and then there's you." Liam stood up from his bed and in three long strides had crossed the room. He reached up to run his hand along the swift side motion of Louis' soft quiff.
"Heeey," Louis ducked, aiming a slap toward his shoulder. "Don't mess with my hair."
"How did you even get it like that?"
Louis shot him a sideways glance of disapproval. "I've watched my hairdresser since I was like five. He gave me some of his products before I left." He places his hands on his hips and huffed, "now enough with the questions, okay? Are you ready?"
The smile that grew on Liam's face seemed to hide so many things. Louis decided not to comment and waited, impatiently, for Liam to nod. He grabbed his keys off the nightstand and moved to fling open their door. "Let's show you what uni is really all about."
It was nearning midnight when they all finally met up. Louis already had a few drinks in him and being as tiny as he was, was feeling pretty tipsy. And Harry, well being Harry, was looking pretty good in Louis' eyes. His jeans were skin tight, black and nearly torn apart with rips. His shirt was plain white, scooped low enough to see his sharp collar bones. It was such a simple look, almost like he didn't care at all. Louis had to look away for fear of drooling.
"Man," Niall was the first to speak, clapping Liam on the back. Louis was sure no one elae noticed the way his hand seemed to linger on Liam's shoulder. "There's this girl, right, totally hot. All over me, 'pposed to be getting her drinks now."
Was it just Louis, or did Liam seem to stiffen? He shrugged Niall's hand off him and set his lips in a stern line. "Well, are you?"
"Course, dude," Niall waved the red cup underneath Liam's nose. Even from his spot beside Liam Louis could smell the alcohol. "Just haven't seen you yet, wanted to say hi."
Liam set him with an almost dark glare. "Hi," he echoed emotionlessly. "I need more shots, time to get wasted." Before Louis could get a word out Liam turned sharply and headed straight for the kitchen.
Niall was next to leave, looking oddly disappointed and awkward. Zayn followed soon after, his name being called out by a group of frat boys across the room. When Louis looked back up at Harry he saw a flash of green. The music, which just a second ago seemed to be booming right on Louis' ear, sounded so far away now.
Harry was looking down at him, a blush visible on his pale skin. He seemed uncomfortable, uncertainty hidden within his gaze. He reached up to push his curls from his face and let a small smile reach his lips. "How are you liking the college life so far?"
It was the first real sentence Harry had spoken to him. His voice was like caramel, thick and slow. Louis bought himself more time by taking another swing from his red cup. He pushed any sign of fuzziness from his mind. "I mean, it's only my first day. Classes haven't even started yet but so far so good."
Harry's smile deepened, melting Louis' heart. He had the sudden urge to push his finger into the curve of Harry's dimple. "I'm glad to hear that, I know it can sometimes be a bit overwhelming."
Louis' eyes dropped down to avoid the intensity of Harry's stare. He seemed to focus on something else and before either boy knew what was happening Louis had Harry's hand in his, twisting to see a part of his arm better. He ran his finger along the dark cursive gently and read aloud, "we're all mad here."
"Oh, um, yeah it's from-"
"Alice in Wonderland," Louis looked back up at him. With his free hand he reached up and yanked down the collar of his shirt. Resting in the crook of his shoulder read the words, "would you like an adventure now, or shall we have our tea first?"
Harry stared at the words for awhile. "I didn't know you had this. How didn't I know?"
"The public doesn't know a lot about me," Louis replied softly. "I love Alice in Wonderland though, massive fan." When Louis saw the laugh Harry held back he asked, "what?"
"Oh, nothing," Harry chuckled. "Just...you're british and you picked a quote involving tea. How unoriginal. "
Louis shot him a offended glance. "How dare you, I didn't pick this quote because I'm British."
Harry didn't seem to believe him.
Their eyes locked and both boys let minutes pass in silence with nothing but dopey smiles on their faces. It was awhile later when Louis realized he still held Harry's hand. A slight blush rose on his cheeks and he let go and took a step back, creating more space between them.
For the first time today Harry seemed more confident, standing to his full height, shoulders rolled back and a cocky smirk replaced the softness from before. "So Louis," he began thoughtfully. "Wanna find our wonderland?"
Louis tilted his head to the side, eyes flashing curiously. "What do you mean?"
Harry extended his hand. "Wanna dance? Make the most of our last couple days of freedom for awhile?" The smirk still on Harry's face could be described as nothing less than Cheshire cat like. Before Louis knew what he was doing he reached over to link their fingers together. He let Harry pull him away, let Harry spin him around the floor and move him in ways he never thought he could move.
And if the next day he opened the notes on his phone and got to writing a new song all about wonderland and green eyes and a Cheshire cat smile, well, who cared?