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The cold ivory keys slip beneath his fingers and resonates beautiful crisp notes of Louis Gottschalk's "The Union" (x). He found it ironic to be playing a piece by a fellow with the same first name as him, but then again he supposed there were a lot of composers by the name of Louis, weren’t there? To any passerby, they could safely assume it was a player of many years they were hearing, one who had many years of training and many years to play and perfect, but they’d be wrong. For in the room they’d pass would be Louis Tomlinson, a high school student of eighteen who just happens to be a piano prodigy.

 

Louis never liked that label; he didn’t want it to make him something he wasn’t. He was simply a boy who could play piano well and that was that. No need to use the ‘p’ word to make him sound extraordinary. He was quite the opposite. He was just ordinary, just Louis. He was the boy who was quiet and shy who sought comfort in his piano and tranquility in quiet. Louis was the boy who lived on his own to attend a school with an outstanding music and arts program while his family lives a few hours away; the one that only had a few friends and blended into the background of things. Louis was a wall flower, and he liked it that way.

 

 He was a not so tall lad; curvaceous in all the right places with chiseled feminine facial features like his jawline and cheekbones, fluttery eyelashes and cerulean eyes usually hidden behind a black rimmed pair of glasses. His hair was a fluffy brunette mess that he usually kept under a beanie, snapback, or fringe, and only if he ever felt daring which was rare, perhaps a quiff would make an appearance. So yes, he was simple and plain, it was part of the reason he blended into the background so well.

 

He didn’t blend in the background at home though. Home in Doncaster with his family, that is. You would think being the eldest of seven would make you slip out of the framework but his parents (though separated and now his mum is getting married again) are very proud of him, they like to talk to the town about how amazing he is, how he’s attending a school so dedicated to his greatest musical abilities that will surely get him into a prestigious school or maybe even Julliard. He couldn’t blame his parents, if he were them he’d boast too but he preferred being under the radar.

 

His family consisted of his mum and dad, and his seven younger siblings; Charlotte, the eldest girl of the bunch that they just called Lottie, Felicité who they call Fizzy, the older pair of twins Daisy and Phoebe, and the newest and youngest pair of twins, Doris and the only brother he has, Ernest. It’s safe to say with six kids (with two practically teens now) running around Jay (his mum) has her hands full already, the pressure of looking after Louis being taken off her already crowded plate was probably a blessing in disguise.

 

Louis’ lucky his father works at a high paying job because he’s never had to get a job after moving from home (reluctantly though, he wanted to stay home and help his mum with his sisters but then his step father came along and well, things changed), his father sends him money for rent and groceries every month and even a little spending cash for him too. He knows he’s better off than most and doesn’t forget to appreciate everything his parents do for him.

 

Louis continues to play the piece he’d plucked out of his pile today, he makes himself practice for at least four hours or more a day, taking apart a piece of music and studying it, playing it over and over until every note is crisp clean and the piece flows with perfection. He’s midway through when a loud blare of loud pounding music comes through his flat’s walls and startles him. He grimaces but continues playing, the baby grand piano ringing out over the music. But as the piece progresses and the music gets louder he realizes he’s started to play the piano to the music rattling the frames on his wall and not the piece he’d been playing originally. He slams his hands in fists down on the ivory making a horrible ruckus of a noise before standing up from his cushioned bench in frustration and begins stomping out of his music room through his flat.

 

The flat was selected by his mother and him on a day they came from home to look for a flat for him. With one look they knew that this was the place to live. It was a big two bedroom flat nicer than any flat he’d seen and he fell in love with it. with an open concept living room with three white walls and one wall was stone wall with big bright windows with a great view of a park across the street, a kitchen with a breakfast island and beautiful appliances (not that Louis can cook, he’s a simple guy), and a bathroom with a giant bathtub to relax in. The bedrooms were bigger than his one at home and immediately the larger of the two was deemed his music room because the acoustics in it were much better and Louis only needed a room to sleep in.

 

It was a beautiful little place and it came fully furnished and at a great price in his dad’s set budget for a place, and within one day of talking to the landlord he was free to move in. Of course they’d been looking in summer so Louis didn’t move in officially until a week before the school year began. He’d moved when he was sixteen, he was eighteen now. Things had been great so far. The only thing that bugged him was his pesky neighbour whose door he was pounding on now. His neighbour happened to be one of his only friends, but still. Louis continued to hammer on the door.

 

“Zayn, you ass hat. I know you’re in there, open up.” He shouts and moments later the door swings open to reveal Zayn.

 

When Louis first met Zayn it was because Louis couldn’t open his door with the bag of groceries in his hands, so Zayn- who had been in the hallway at the time- had took his keys and opened the door for him and then invited himself in. Louis had learned that if he was ever bored and needed something to do, staring at Zayn was a perfect way to pass time. Zayn was beautiful; with big brown eyes with long eyelashes and high cheeks and clear cut jaw with tanned skin covered in black ink of tattoos, he was like a model without trying. His hair was fluffy most days, and he is growing facial hair lately, and Louis is jealous of his everything.

 

Currently Zayn in wearing only a pair of grey sweatpants, no shirt, and a maroon beanie. He looks as though he’s just walked off a porno, and a little like he’s just woken up, but he still looks impeccably attractive. Louis hates him.

 

“I hate you.” Louis grumbles as he pushes past Zayn to flop on the couch. Zayn gives him a smile and closes the door, following to the couch.

 

“I knew it’d get you over here, my mate Niall hooked me up with some fresh stuff.” Zayn holds up a plastic baggy containing papers and another bag with weed in it. Louis sighs.

 

“You trying to make me become an addict?” Louis asks as he grabs a paper and begins to roll a joint. Zayn shrugs and takes a haul off one he’s already rolled. The room begins to fill with the smell of it.

 

“Nah, you’re just holed up in your flat every night banging on those keys, I figure if I can get you out of your house more often I’ve paid my debt to society and have been a good civilian.” Zayn explains and Louis gives a snort before taking a haul off his own joint.

 

“Because getting me to do drugs is helping society.” He says but leans back on the couch and lets the good feelings come to him and relax him.

 

“So what is it you’re working on over there?” Zayn asks.

 

“Just brushing up on songs, I want to have a full list of songs I could play for when testing comes up for colleges and schools.”

 

“Music is the shorthand of emotion.” Zayn says absentmindedly. Louis quirks an eyebrow.

 

“That Hugo guy who wrote Les Mis?” He asks and Zayn smiles because he knows Louis tries to guess who he’s quoting every time, and it’s cute but not even close.

 

“Tolstoy.” He murmurs back. Louis nods as if he gets it but he doesn’t. all he knows is Zayn knows far too many deep and meaningful quotes and every person who said them to be human, he’s either a robot or he swallowed a quote book.

 

“You’re an old soul, Malik.” Louis says with a nod and a haul. Zayn laughs.

 

“Any new drawings for me to see?” He asks and Zayn hums. He stands and grabs a canvas board from the counter of his kitchen island. Louis sees a lot of shading, and he sees it’s the boy Zayn fancies in the shading and a bunch of wavy lines like the boy- Leeroy or Luke or Lyle- something with an L, is fading away, or that he can’t see Zayn, which is really deep and Louis thinks that he’s spending far too much time listening to Zayn explain artistic meaning of pictures to be able to understand that.

 

“Art is not a handicraft, it is the transmission of feeling the artist has experienced.” Zayn says thoughtfully and Louis grimaces.

 

“Vincent Van Gough?” Zayn smiles like he wants to laugh.

 

“Tolstoy again.” He admits. Louis huffs.

 

“Well then.” Louis grumbles. They finish their joints slowly, the munchies hit midway through them and he and Zayn share a family pack size bag of Doritos.

 

“So any word from that teacher about Julliard?” Louis sighs.

 

“Nope, Griffith said they take forever to respond or some shit.” Louis blows out a puff of smoke.

 

“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” Zayn says and Louis thinks for a moment. Zayn gives him a knowing look and Louis all about throws the empty bowl of Dorito crumbs at him.

 

“You know what; fuck you and your Tolstoy.” He shouts before marching to his own flat. He’s sure he has a box of jammy dodgers there that are bound to be gone by morning.

 

*

 

Harry steadies his breathing as he jogs on the treadmill. He turns the page in his text book and reads through the next page. The music in his ear is playing his workout playlist, Talk Dirty To Me is blaring. Harry looks to the right where Liam is on one of the benches doing presses with Niall as his spot. This is their routine every day, working out together. He turns back to his book and jogs for the final five minutes of his run.

 

“Harry you’re going to overwork yourself.” Niall says when he practically collapses on the floor after the run. He waves his hand up at Niall as if to say ‘pish posh’ but Niall just helps him up and hands him an ice cold water. He chugs it in seven seconds flat.

 

“Seriously H, coach tells us it’s not healthy to overdo it. Anyone in health class could tell you that.” Liam adds.

 

“Have to work on my legs, dad says they’re losing their tone or some shit.” Harry pants out. The world may be swirling around him right now; Niall’s a great leaning post.

 

“You just ran for an hour without a stop or switching. You’re gonna overdo it, break something or pull something or even exhaust yourself to the point of hospitalization.” Harry wants to tell Liam not to be over dramatic but right now he feels like he’s gunna pass out so he simply sits on the bench with his head between his legs waiting for the feeling to pass.

 

“I’m fine. Pass me my text book?” Liam sighs and hands him the advanced maths text book and gives Harry a look.

 

“You’re so stubborn.”

 

“Get that from my father.” Harry says bitterly.

 

“Let’s go shower.” Niall says and Harry follows slowly behind with his bag.

 

“I’m not showering here tonight, boys. Got to get home, Gems is home for the weekend.” Harry says excitedly. Liam and Niall smile at him.

 

“Tell her to call me yeah?” Niall says and Harry grimaces.

 

“You’re not dating her. You’re not going to be dating her. It’s not happening.” He states as he walks down the hall of the gym. Niall cackles a laugh. Harry sighs but makes his way out to his car. The cool leather feels nice on his warm skin. The car was a ‘congrats’ gift for making quarter back on the varsity football team at school.

 

Harry’s just turned seventeen, but he’s in his last year of school. When he was younger they bumped him up two grades. To say he was smart was an understatement. Everyone loves Harry Styles. He’s a people person. He could charm anyone’s pants off without even trying. He could play sports, really good at football (actual football, not soccer). But he wasn’t a stupid jock either. He didn’t fall into the category of boys on his team that were total walking stereotypes. He was getting straight A’s in his classes and even his volunteer hours were completed at multiple charities, yet he still continued to volunteer at them. He’s the type of person that helps you see that there are good people out there, and popular good people at that. Not every popular person is an ass hat who is the stereotypical type of ‘popular’. The fact that he’s fit doesn’t hurt either.

 

Big green eyes that are soft and kind, unruly curls perfectly styled all the time. His pink lips always curved into the most beautiful smile, one that brought out dimples that made your knees weak. A nice physique, broad shoulders and simply detailed abs and toned legs. Harry has the biggest heart and a wonderful personality.

 

But there were things people didn’t know about Harry. Harry loved photography. He loved capturing moments behind the lens instead of in the center of it. Harry loves football, he does, but it isn’t something he wants to do for the rest of his life. Harry loves photography. He loves capturing moments behind the lens instead of in the center of it. He doesn’t always want to be known as Harry Styles, quarterback. He wants to be Harry Styles, the great guy who can play football and is a great photographer. But no one knows he can do that.

 

Harry’s father is one of those people who have to have control over everything. His mum has never left his dad because deep down she does love him, he was her one and only love, but Harry thinks she’s afraid that if she leaves, she and him will have nothing. His father supports them through everything; he’s the one bringing home the money to put food on the table. Harry and his father have a strained relationship. The main reason, Harry is openly bisexual. And his father never took well to that news. It would be a correct assumption to say that Harry’s father pushes football on him to make him straight. He also pushes because he wants Harry to follow in the footsteps of all the Styles’ men (except his father), being quarterback of the varsity team straight into college.

 

Harry puffs out a breath when his head hits the pillow of his bed. He should go to the shower and wash the sweat off him, and he should probably go drink a protein shake, but his bed is too nice and he was up all night studying again and up early in the morning for his morning jog. He closes his eyes and breathes in the air between his face and the pillow, and when his eyes open next it’s because someone is jumping on his bed and screaming his name loudly and off pitch.

 

“Harry! Harry! Harry! Wake up!” She shouts loudly and Harry turns over with a grin and tugs his sister down into his arms, laughing at her squeals and laughter.

 

“Hiya Gems.” He mumbles into her hair and she sighs.

 

“You smell.” She says and he laughs.

 

“Missed you too.” Harry says softly. Gemma pulls out of the hug and Harry sits up and shakes his gross hair.

 

“C’mon baby brother, we’ve catching up to do.” She says and swishes her blue purple hair over her shoulder. She pops up and tugs Harry up and whistles when he stands.

 

“Christ you shot up like a bean stalk!” She teases and he smiles.

 

“Now I’m only good for reaching the top shelf to get the biscuits.” Harry banters on and Gemma laughs.

 

“Why does she even still keep them up there if she can’t reach them?” Harry raises his arms.

 

“Exactly what I say every time!” He says giddily. He misses her, his only sister Gemma. They get along so well, though she’s a few years older than him. Now she’s away at uni and hardly ever comes home, and Harry thinks she chose a uni in London to get away from their father. He doesn’t blame her.

 

“He’s still on you about football, isn’t he?” She asks as she sits in his desk swivel chair, picking at her nails. Harry grits his teeth.

 

“You heard I made varsity?” He says as he collects comfy clothes. Gemma sighs.

 

“Harry, I know you like football, but I know what you really love. Fuck what he says, you don’t have to be something you don’t want, you-”

 

“Gems, come on. You’re only here for the weekend and I don’t want to spend it fighting about something that’s going to happen whether we want it to or not.” He pouts and Gemma waves her hand.

 

“Go shower, stink boy. I’ll be waiting on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and Doctor Who on the telly.” She gives him a smile that says ‘this chat isn’t over’, and he knows that true because it never is. So Harry showers and arrives to the couch in his comfy clothes and achy muscles. Gemma notices quickly.

 

“Sore muscles?” Gemma asks and Harry shrugs.

 

“C’mere.” She says and Harry sighs but moves to where she tells him and she begins to slowly work out the kinks and knots in his shoulders and back. He rests his head against her shoulder comfortably.

 

“Where’s mum?” Gemma asks Harry and Harry shrugs.

 

“Wasn’t here when I got home, guessing she isn’t back yet then?” He answers. Gemma nods.

 

“You know, my school offers a great photography program,”

 

“Gems.” He warns and she smiles that sad smile that means ‘I wish you would help yourself’ and she fluffs his hair before continuing to work out a knot in his shoulder.

 

“Okay, okay.” She says with a sigh. Harry relaxes and watches a mad man and his blue box travel time and space and wishes he could become his companion, wishes he could fly away off to the stars and never come back.

 

*

 

 

It’s on a Tuesday, not that the actual day matters, when it happens. Gemma’s gone home just the day before, so Harry’s feeling a little down because he hardly ever sees her anymore and he misses her more every time she leaves. He wishes she’d chosen a closer school, somewhere where she could at least live within driving distance, and not train distance. His sister was his totem pole he leaned against for guidance and she’s the strong and sturdy constant in his life, but now she’s not there as much as she was, and Harry feels like he’s falling over small bits at a time, and it’s only a matter of time before he falls completely.

 

He shrugs the messenger bag over his shoulder and looks at the clock in his large kitchen. It’s just coming up on twenty after eight, school starts at half eight so he doesn’t have time to eat and drive to school, so he skips out on breakfast. He’ll regret that in study hall when his stomach will growl loud enough that the teacher will shush him, but for now he pulls on his Chelsea boots and fluffs his untameable curls so they’re at least off his forehead (maybe he’ll badger Liam for some product to keep it there when he gets to school) and pulls his shirt back down into place. He pushes the black framed Ray Bans onto his face before exiting the house and going to get into his red Jaguar E type roadster.

 

The air is warm but the breeze keeps him cooled off as he pulls into the school lot with five minutes to spare. People are entering the school and are heading to classes, Harry begins running down the halls to get to his maths class and gets inside the class door with only seconds left. He’s seated by the time Mr. Stephens takes attendance. The class is dull and they’re working on something Harry has already learned so for the duration of class he doodles cameras and stick figure drawing of the three musketeers with Harry, Liam, and Niall’s faces.

 

“Remember the test at the end of the week and don’t be late. If you’re late for that class, you will not get into the room, you will be marked a zero, and you will have a parent teacher meeting to explain why you were late and why you got a zero.” The teacher finishes his rambling just as the bell rings and Harry takes a big sigh of relief when the boring class is over. He’s smiling as he walks down the hall to the class he truly wants to be in.

 

Advanced Photography, a class you could only get into if you’ve taken Photography 101 and a computer tech class, both of which Harry took in grade nine as electives, plus a recommendation from the teachers of both those classes. In advanced photography, or AP as Harry calls it, he learns how to work with different cameras, older models and new. He learns how to get different prints of the same image with the negative films. He learns how the dark room is used (even though he learned that in grade 9). He learns what it takes to make photography a genuine profession, how photography is more than just snapping a picture, it’s capturing the emotion and the mood, how it’s capturing a memory to be held in a single frame forever. It’s not all just point and click; you’ve got to have a certain eye for it.

 

Harry pulls a freshly developed photo out of the container and pins it to the line to dry. The room is tinged red and Harry hums a soft tune while he works. He hears someone enter the room from the class room and he looks over his shoulder to see the teacher standing there with a smile on her face and her arms crossed over her chest.

 

“So there’s a competition going on, a photography competition.” Harry turns to peek at her over his shoulder with a curious face.

 

“Oh?” He intones.

 

“Mhm. It’s for students who seek a career in photography, who seek collegiate schooling to further their development in that field; to help-”

 

“What are you getting at here, Fitz?” Harry asks and the teacher sighs. She leans against the wall and watches him work.

 

“What I’m getting at, Harry, is I want you to enter this competition.” Harry turns around and gives her a look as if she’s crazy.

 

“’s the point in trying? I wouldn’t win. And what’s the prize anyway?” He says and the teacher, Ms. Fitzpatrick whom the students call Fitz, uncrosses her arms.

 

“You get a full scholarship to any school of your choice, including those that require student visas to live in the US. Think of it, studying in a foreign country full of wonders and sights to photograph.” She banters on excitedly. Harry frowns.

 

“’M going to school on a football scholarship, most likely.” He replies frigidly.

 

“I really think this is a beautiful opportunity, Harry. I’d hate to see you pass this up. Besides, it’s always nice to have a back-up plan. So here’s the brochure about it. Entries start in the coming month but they’re getting their participants an early notice to prepare. You’ve got to find a muse, a singular thing and create a portfolio of at least twenty or so photos with the muse as the focus, of sorts.” She pauses and waits for him to look over, but he doesn’t so she sighs and continues.

 

“You see, someone could pick something like flowers, they’d have a broad spectrum of flowers to photograph, but there are only so many things you can do with flowers before they get quite dull. So it’s best to be creative. You have to use as much of your knowledge as you can, and you’ve got to write something, it could be a paragraph or a full essay really about your muse, your focus point and why you chose it. I think you’d do extremely well Harry. Give it some thought? The students have to go through a teacher to sign up, so if you make up your mind, let me know.” She sets the brochure down on the stool beside him but he doesn’t look her way as she exits the dark room. He unclenches his hands from fists and picks up the brochure. He gives it a quick look, but he doesn’t think it’ll help him. He puts the thin folder of forms and information in his bag anyways, because he knows she’s right; having a back-up plan is always a good idea. He’s not going to be a star player for forever, something to fall back on would be good.

 

When the bell rings for lunch Harry cleans up the dark room and then emerges into the dimly lit classroom. The only thing in the room is the teacher, and she doesn’t look up as he goes out into the hallway. He stumbles into people and waves to the people who smile and wave at him like the polite person he is. Harry doesn’t realize where he’s going until he’s turned down a hallway he didn’t even know existed. The hallway is darker than any of the others in their high school, and it’s creepy because no one is in the hallway, at all. It’s eerily quiet.

 

He decides to peek into the classroom doors windows to figure out what the hallway is. In the first door a bunch of people are dancing. He assumes this is the drama room people talk of. The next door is people sitting in a circle eating their lunches but he sees instruments everywhere and can safely assume it’s orchestra or band. The next two doors are the same. But the last door at the very end of the hall is different. It’s a large empty room with instruments laying everywhere. There’s a door that looks like the teachers office to the room, and a set of stairs beside it. Harry is curious, he’s never been down this way before and he’s not sure that he will come back, so he lets his curiosity get the best of him and he tries to open the door. It’s unlocked.

 

He enters the room and it’s odd to him that the room feels like its vibrating. At the top of the stairs are three doors. He climbs the stairs quietly as if he’ll disturb someone in the empty room. When he sees two of the rooms are empty, he’s disappointed to say the least. He thought maybe it’d be more amazing than just an empty room if he’s honest. But then the last room on the far left is occupied. He’s not disappointed.

 

In that room is a single piano, and a boy. The boy is gorgeous. From a side view, that is. His features are soft, jaw cut and soft hair, soft cheeks, the look of soft lips, soft everything. He’s wearing thin framed glasses so Harry can’t see his eyes, but he has a feeling those are beautiful too. His fingers flow up and down the ivory keys of this piano but Harry can’t hear what he’s playing. Harry isn’t sure fingers are supposed to be going as fast as this lad’s, and all Harry can think is he’s obviously good with his fingers and he’s got to stop thinking that about a person he’s creepily watching and doesn’t even know. He wants to hear the music but doesn’t want to disturb the player so he only turns the door slowly, and cracks the door ever so slightly so the music pours out and holy shit this guy is possibly fucking Mozart.

 

Harry is positively captivated. His finger move eloquently and in time for every possible note. Harry can feel the vibrations of the piano in his chest it’s that loud. Just when Harry thinks the guys at the fastest he can go the speed intensifies and Harry can’t imagine how long it took this guy to play like this. The piece must be coming to a close, it’s slowly dwindling apart from a few loud thunks on the lower keys and when it’s finished the guy opens his eyes, stretches his fingers, and then starts playing another fast tempo song. Harry gasps then, out loud, and the music ceases immediately. The boy turns and looks at the door and catches Harry’s eyes. Fuck he’s gorgeous. And he’s also just caught Harry creeping on him. Harry gets a mental image and then runs from the view of the door just as the lad behind it stands. He runs into the darker room of the three, locks the door and hides in the corner. He hears the guy come out of the piano room and then hears nothing.

 

“I saw you.” He states clearly to the empty room. His voice is soft and higher pitched than Harry expected, quite feminine and flamboyant. Harry likes it. He swallows hard.

 

“No, you didn’t.” He says back, hoping this room is sound proof too. The guy outside the doors laughs.

 

“Mate, you picked the only room that isn’t sound proof in this entire hall to hide in. Bravo.” He hears fake applauding and with red cheeks and a shy smile he stands up and opens the door. The lad is shorter than him by what seems like a whole foot to Harry (perhaps only a few inches really). He seems quite shy by his disposition, standing pigeon toed and angled away from Harry as if he’s going to bolt into the safety of the piano room at any moment.

 

“You’re wicked talented, mate. I’m-”

 

“Thanks. I- uh- I know who you are.” The guy blushes and smiles at his feet. Harry gestures his hand out for the other to shake.

 

“Well since you know me, it’s only polite if you introduce yourself.” Harry says with a kind smile.

 

“Louis, ‘m Louis.” He says and shakes Harry’s hand hesitantly.

 

“What was that you were playing?” Harry points and Louis shrugs.

 

“Moonlight Sonata. It’s by Beethoven.” (x)

 

“Was he on meth when he wrote it? That’s insane!” Harry jokes and Louis just smiles.

 

“Hey, are you coming to the football game tonight?” Harry picks at his jersey. Louis bites on his finger nail.

 

“Um, I wasn’t planning on it? I’m sorry, that sounded rude, it’s just-”

 

“Hey, it’s cool. I get it. It’s probably really boring to watch a bunch of guy run at each other and knock 'em down like bowling pins.” Louis giggles faintly and Harry feels a surge of something that feels like sunlight taking over his body. The warning bell rings and causes both boys to jump and then laugh. Louis points to the piano room and gives a weak smile.

 

“I should um… probably get my things and go… it was nice to meet you.” Louis turns to collect his things when Harry clutches his hand. Louis looks back, surprised.

 

“The game tonight. Think about it? And if we win, I’ll take you out for ice cream after.” Harry grins and Louis laughs loudly this time.

 

“What a tempting offer. Maybe.” Louis says and he quickly grabs his bag from the chair just inside the door of the piano room. The second warning bell rings.

 

“I’ve got to go.” Louis mumbles quickly and shoots down the stairs and out the door before Harry can say anything else. He wipes his clammy hands off on his jeans and sighs. He shrugs his bag over his shoulder and walks to class with one thought in mind; I’m totally fucked.

 

*

 

 

Louis can’t breathe. He ran from that room so fast he nearly took out someone’s project trying to get as far as he could from the room. He has a free period, it’s why he plays piano at lunch and then eats lunch now during this period of freedom, but right now he’s about to pass out from running and lack of oxygen and this is why he hated gym all those years because Louis and running don’t mix (unless he’s playing footie, the really football aka soccer to Americans).

 

“Jesus Louis, breathe.” Are the first words Zayn say when Louis dashes into the semi populated cafeteria and nearly collapses on the table. Zayn offers his water but Louis feels sick. He sips the water and then meets Zayn’s questioning eyes.

 

“Gunna tell me why you went all marathon runner on me a minute ago?” Zayn asks as he uses a French fry and ketchup to draw on a napkin.

 

“Harry Styles was watching me in the music room. Like a proper creep. I nearly died. He talked to me. I nearly died. The bell rang, I ran before I could make any more of an idiot of myself, I-”

 

“Nearly died I get it. What’s so bad about that? Niall says he’s nice, from what I hear.” Zayn’s hand twitches like it wants to reach for the cig nestled behind his ear. Louis starts eating Zayn’s fries because now he can breathe and he’s hungry and doesn’t feel like going and buying a meal.

 

“He kinda invited me to the football game tonight? Said if they win he’ll take me out for ice cream. I said maybe.” Zayn, who was sipping from his water, spits out the mouthful and stares wide eyed at Louis.

 

“Harry Styles, jock strap quarter back with the dazzling eyes, invited you to the game, and practically fucking asked you to go on a date with him, and you say fucking maybe!?” Zayn exclaimed and nods when he’s told to sh.


“What the fuck is wrong with you!?” Louis blushes.

 

“I like low key. He’s top of the pedestal high key and…”

 

“Louis, this is ridiculous. You can’t hide in the music room forever. He knows you’re in there now. He doesn’t seem like the type of guy who takes no as a final answer and if I’m honest, I think you’re passing up a major opportunity to date an actual person… a nice one who is very good looking at that.” Louis sighs.

 

“I’ll just go home on lunches.” Louis says faintly but Zayn gives him that ‘are you even fucking listening’ look.

 

“You’re being an idiot.” Zayn says and Louis slums his face into his arms on the table.

 

“I don’t know the first thing about football. It shouldn’t even be called football! They hardly use their feet! It should be called tackle ball, or dog pile ball. Or something clever like that.” Louis groans and Zayn laughs.

 

“Well think of it this way, if you go, and they win, he’ll take you for ice cream, and he can teach you all about football then.” Zayn says as if it’s so simple. Louis sighs.

 

“I feel like a little girl.”

 

“You’re acting like one, if I’m honest.” Louis huffs and frowns.

 

“Well fuck you too then.” Louis stands up, leaves the tray for Zayn to clean up and storms out of the cafeteria. Zayn shakes his head as Louis rushes out. Louis is being ridiculous and although he’s his friend, he can’t make Louis do anything, or see the way he thinks. It’s best to leave Louis to choose for himself and until then, he just has to put up with Louis’ dramatic attitude. He really needs a smoke.

 

*

 

 

Louis doesn’t go to the game. Harry is sad. He scoured the entire audience at the football game but he couldn’t see Louis anywhere. They won, as expected of the team, and he didn’t feel much like celebrating so he went home and had a pity party instead. The next day he comes to school with a wounded ego and a pouty face, and surely that would win Louis over.

 

“Didn’t see you at the football game last night.” He says to Louis who is in the library in the classical music book section, of course. He probably shouldn’t have come up behind Louis like a stealthy tiger, because he startles Louis, causing Louis to spin around, drop his pile of books, and nearly topple over before Harry catches him. Louis huffs and reddens in embarrassment and glares at Harry.

 

“Jesus Christ, warn a guy.” Harry gives him a dimpled smile.

 

“Sorry.” Harry says and Louis nods.

 

“You hurt my feelings you know, leading me to believe you’d probably be attending the game. We won; I was so looking forward to ice cream.” Louis smiles but it doesn’t touch his eyes.

 

“I’m sorry I couldn’t come, I got caught up with stuff at home.” Louis explains as he carries his now picked up books to the check-out desk.

 

“Oh. Okay. Maybe we could go for ice cream today then?” Harry presses and Louis gives a soft snort of a laugh.

 

“You don’t give up do you?” He looks up at Harry under his eyelashes and Harry flutters his own eyelashes and gives that dimply charmer smile.

 

“Not in the least.” Harry says back and Louis sighs.

 

“You see I really need to practice piano…” He holds up the books and Harry knits his eyebrows in confusion.

 

“But you’re like an ace player already. I heard you yesterday?”

 

“But to become a professional I need to be much better than that. I need to memorize songs like that and easy ones too so if I got requests I could- why am I telling you this?” Louis questions himself.

 

“Because you find me nice, I’d hope. And because I’d really like to get to know you.” Harry tells him and Louis gives a small smile.

 

“Cute. But your friends just walked into the library, if you’ll excuse me…” Louis says and he walks away from Harry towards the door.

 

“What were you doing talking to that piano guy?” Niall asks and Harry notices that Louis flinches. He can hear them.

 

“That’s Louis. We’re becoming friends.” He says and Niall raises an eyebrow. Liam coughs and then detours to actually look at books.

 

“Why?” Louis clearly slowed his walking so he can hear and Harry is quite forward with his answer.

 

“I find him interesting.” Harry explains to Niall and Louis practically runs out of the room but Harry knows he heard and he hopes his answer makes Louis want to get to know him more.

 

“Not really your type, is he?” Niall asks as he bites a nail.

 

“Everyone is my type Niall.” Harry defends and Niall shrugs as if it’s a good enough answer. Harry can’t help but want to go find Louis but he knows they’re going to work out after Liam gets a book for his paper. He’ll just have to keep trying harder to earn Louis’ attention.

 

*

 

It’s been almost two weeks and Harry feels like moping and complaining. In the weeks he’s made an effort to see Louis every day, but Louis brushes him off with his little shy ‘oh’s and ‘I gotta go’s and Harry actually feels defeated because he’s never had somebody not be as interested in him as he is them. Liam and Niall call him out on it while sitting in Niall’s bedroom watching the footie match on telly with a bowl of healthy popcorn. Harry sighs loudly and Niall throws a popcorn kernel at him.

 

“Shut up mate, you’re ruining the aura of the game.” Harry frowns.

 

“I am in a slum, Niall. The least you could do is pretend to care.” Niall touches his heart but his eyes never leave the screen.

 

“Dear Harry, what has gotten you oh so woebegone? Who has wounded your giant heart with a silver arrow? Who has- YES!” He shouts as his team scores a goal, putting them in the lead of their opponent. Harry pouts.

 

“You know who, you twatlicker.” Harry whines and Niall snorts.

 

“Appropriate title considering your sister and I-” Harry glares at Niall.

 

“If you don’t shut the fuck up and listen to me whine I will call Gemma right now and tell her you’re going to propose, just to creep her out and make her hate you for all eternity.” Niall laughs but nods none the less. Liam, sitting on the floor, turns around to face the two on Niall’s bed with pink cheeks.

 

“Did you really… with Gemma?” He asks in a surprised tone but unashamed. Niall grins.

 

“Guys!” Harry whines and both boys laugh now.

 

“Oh fine. Do tell us all about your painful butthurt because unlike everyone on the planet Louis is showing signs of uninterestedness. Is that a word? Doubt it, but we’ll go with it.”  Niall waves his hand.

 

“It’s just- I think I’m smitten, I’m completely gone and I hardly know him, and when I try to get to know him, he shuts up and won’t let me anywhere near him. Am I really that repulsing?” Harry asks and Niall shakes his head.

 

“Nah; if I was gay or bi I’d have a go at you.” He admits unabashedly. Harry nearly chokes.

 

“Oh. Um, thanks?” He says but he’s not all that bothered. He’s sure that once when they were drunk he and Niall snogged. Niall nods.

 

“Invite him to the party this weekend?” Liam suggests before taking a sip of his fake soda from one of those machines called a soda spray… soda spritz… soda something. Harry sighs.

 

“I tried inviting him to ice cream after the game but he wouldn’t go. Or the day after that, after school, he still said no.”

 

“Because that’s ice cream mate, we’re not fucking six. Give him free alcohol and he’ll be yours.”

 

“Not everyone goes for that, Niall.” Harry retorts but Niall shrugs and takes a swig of his beer.

 

“Well I sure would.” Harry sighs.

 

“We know that, Niall.” Liam says from the floor.

 

“Lemme talk to Zayn, he buys weed off me sometimes. I hear he and this Louis lad are like best mates or summat. Maybe we can devise a plan to trap you two in the same room for longer than ten seconds so you can actually get the balls to ask him out on a proper date?” Niall says and Harry lights up.

 

“You’d do that for me?” He asks fondly. Niall shrugs.

 

“If it gets you to stop whining for a while, why the hell not?”

 

That’s that.

 

*

 

The thing is, Louis is paranoid. It’s like every corner he’s turning he sees curls and mischievous green eyes that make him feel like Jell-O. He gets so freaked out he has Zayn come with him everywhere, even to the loo. Zayn thinks he’s insane.

 

“You know, most people would be grateful to the gods for blessing them with the opportunity to have Harry Styles so interested in them, and here you are having me play fucking look out. You’re a weird one, Lou.” Zayn says as he peeks around the corner and then gives Louis the signal that the coast is clear. Louis dashes around the corner clutching his book bag tightly and makes sure Zayn’s following him the entire way to the music room.

 

“I can’t afford any distractions. Besides,”

 

“You like being the background noise, I get it. There, you’re at the music room. Now can I go?” Louis frowns.

 

“Aren’t you going to walk me in, Zaynie?” Louis pouts and Zayn sighs but opens the door for Louis.

 

“Jesus Christ!” Louis says as he whirls around to go back out the door. Harry and his friends are sitting in the music room laughing at a story the blonde haired guy is telling. When they hear Louis they look up and Louis scowls at Zayn for not moving out of the way. But Zayn’s eyes are glued on Harry’s other friend. Louis recognizes him from the picture Zayn drew. The boy with the name that started with an L.

 

“Louis! Just the lad I wanted to see.” Harry says and pulls Louis away from the door by the hand. Louis tries to pry him off but Harry’s grip is tight. Zayn stumbles into the room with a curse and the door shuts behind him.

 

“Are you stalking me? Are you planning on murdering me? Do you know where I live?” Louis asks and Harry laughs.

 

“No to all of those.” Harry explains and brings Louis to sit in the chair that is vacant beside his. Louis sighs and sits because it’s inevitable to slink away to the piano room. He looks at Zayn who is standing near the door. He waves him over but he’s frozen. He follows Zayn’s stare and sees the eye contact between Harry’s friend and him.

 

“Looks like Zayn and your friend are having eye sex.” Louis whispers and Harry looks, but he grins.

 

“Ah. He’s the artsy lad isn’t he?” Louis nods.

 

“Liam has had a thing for him for like, years now. Since, Zayn was it? Since he won at the arts fair for that painting of London...” Harry says thoughtfully. Liam! That’s his name.

 

“That was grade nine.” Louis says back.

 

“Mhm. He’s always been too shy to say anything though. I think this may be their first real interaction.” Harry says menacingly. Louis sees Zayn looking like a deer in the headlights but Zayn’s the one who trapped him into this, serves him right for fucking himself over.

 

“Well uh, if you’ll excuse me I’ve got to-”

 

“Wait!” Harry jumps up to stop Louis, causing Louis to jump back, startled.

 

“Um, okay?” He says with a red tinge to his cheeks.

 

“It’s just- I’ve never gotten a chance to really talk to you. You always run off and brush me off. It’s sending me out of my mind. I want to know you. All I know about you is your name is Louis, you’ve a friend named Zayn, you’re fucking Mozart on the piano and you’re startling attractive. I know you’re shy and quiet but I want to be someone you can be loud with. Shit that didn’t come out right-” Louis laughs.

 

“I get it. I do. It’s okay.” Louis says and pats Harry’s shoulder. “Why me though? There are plenty of other suitors out there.” Harry grins.

 

“Oh yes, just look at that long line up.” He gestures to the empty room.

 

“You know what I mean.” Louis punches playfully. “How do you even know if I’m gay? Hm? I could be straight for all you know. Or taken.” Harry pales.

 

“Shit. Are you? Straight? Or just taken? Or-” Louis laughs louder than Harry’s ever heard him. He likes it.

 

“No Harry, I’m not straight. I’m not taken, either. You should’ve seen your face though.” He slaps his knee and Harry pouts.

 

“Rude. You scared me; I thought I was going to grovel for forgiveness and friendship.” Louis smiles at him.

 

“No need.” He brushes off and tries to duck around Harry’s gangly body to make a safe getaway to the stairs but Harry side steps and blocks him again.

 

“There’s a party tonight at Niall’s. His parents let him hold one every couple months, there’ll be board games and juice and sweet tea and karaoke. Total rave.” Harry grins and Louis looks at him confused.

 

“You call that a party?” Harry snorts a laugh.

 

“Alright, there’ll be alcohol and good music and dancing and a strobe light. Plus he has a pool.” Louis still looks at Harry oddly as if he doesn’t suspect the implied, or rather impending question that comes with Harry telling him this information.

 

“Will you come to it with me?” Harry asks when Louis doesn’t catch on and Louis straightens.

 

“Oh. Um. I’m not much of a party person.” Louis admits and Harry’s face falls.

 

“Please?” Harry pleads with his eyes. Louis’ eyes trail to Zayn who is closer than before to Liam and they’re actually talking. Zayn’s got his hips pushed forward and his ‘I want you’ smile on, but the look in his eyes are full of wonder and ‘how the hell are you real’. He sighs internally. Zayn’s in.

 

“I um… I guess?” He flicks his fringe out of his eyes and pushes up his glasses.

 

“Really?” Harry lights up like a neon sign. Louis smiles.

 

“Why not? I’ve never really attended a party before?” He blushes.

 

“Oh it’s fun. Most of the time.” He teases. Louis swallows.

 

“What do I wear?” He asks curiously.

 

“Whatever you feel comfortable with? It’s not formal, it’s a teenage party. You could come in your underwear and everyone wouldn’t even notice. Too zoned into their drinks and the music.” Harry says with a grin. Louis nods.

 

“I could pick you up, if you’d like.” Louis freezes. He’s obviously gone off the deep end, why climb out of the pool now? He goes with it and swims.

 

“Okay.” He manages to tell Harry his address and Harry tells him he’ll be at Louis’ house for seven, and then Louis says he really needs to go work on his piano. Harry watches him with a giddy grin as he disappears into the piano room and he nearly does a dance. He fucking did it.

 

“Congrats mate.” Niall says with a sly grin and Harry just beams.

 

“So will you come?” Liam asks Zayn and Zayn smiles.

 

“Sure.  ‘d love that.”

 

“Louis’ coming.” Harry says excitedly. Zayn breaks out of his Liam trance with a surprised look.

 

“You convinced him?” Zayn says incredulously.

 

“Why do you seem so surprised?” Harry asks with a sly grin.

 

“Louis’ the most stubborn person in the world. I’d better go check on him, he’s probably up there freaking out.” Zayn says with a small laugh and then looks at Liam.

 

“You’ll text me then?” He asks and Liam grins.

 

“Of course.” He says and Zayn nods before ascending the stairs and slips into the piano room. The three boys leave the choir room and Harry is absolutely buzzing.

 

 

*

 

 

Louis is a fucking basket case. He can’t do this. He simply can’t. He’s never gone to a party, he’s gone on minimal dates (can this be classified as a date? It’s a date.) and it’s because he’s a fucking lunatic. He overthinks everything and worries himself into a state of mental that not even a doctor could fix. He stands in front of his mirror in his sixth outfit when he looks at the time. He has fifteen minutes.

 

“Fuck. Why did I agree to this?” He runs his hands through his fringe. He frowns.

 

“Because you want this despite your being scared. And I’m proud of you for going out of your comfort zone because I don’t think you’ll regret it.” Zayn says simply as he enters the room. Louis regrets not locking the door.

 

Zayn looks hot, he’s wearing dark tight ‘fuck me’ jeans with a wallet chain to make it look cool, and a grey Henley with pushed up sleeves to reveal his tattoos. His shoes are his cartoon vans. His hair is fluffy and not quiffed, Louis thinks it makes him look like a hedgehog in a cute way, and he’s let his stubble stay. Louis’ almost certain he’s lined his eyes with a touch of kohl for a sultry look to his already impossibly long eyelashes. He looks like a model. Or Louis thinks he could look like a tanner, younger, fitter Jim Sturgess.

 

“I have nothing to wear.” He whines. Zayn looks at the clothing all around Louis’ room.

 

“That’s because your room has eaten your clothes.” Louis pouts.

 

“Alright, alright. Jesus that face makes you look like someone murdered your dog right in front of you. Put on your tightest pair of jeans while I find a shirt.”

 

Louis realizes those were the third pair of pants he tried on and they’d been flung across the room and landed on his lamp. He retrieves them and slips them on, turning to Zayn for guidance. Zayn throws him a shirt. He looks down at it and smiles before tugging it on. It’s a tight navy blue shirt with thin white stripes with a low neck line. It clings tightly and it’s a soft fabric so it’s comfortable. Louis adjusts his glasses and Zayn shakes his head.

 

“Put your contacts in. Really wow him.” Louis laughs but puts the new contacts in. his eyes water but settle and it’s a nice change from his glasses, he must admit. Zayn drags him to the bathroom and sits him on the toilet. When Zayn’s finished, Louis’ hair is quiffed and his eyes are lined with light kohl to accentuate the blue with a little va-va-voom. He feels like a brand new person.

 

“Now I’m going back to my flat because that’s where Liam is picking me up.” Zayn says with a smile.

 

“Are you going to fuck him?” Zayn grins.

 

“Hope so. But if not, I will just have to try harder. He’s right fit, yeah?” Louis smiles.

 

“I guess. I’ve kinda got my eyes on a green eyed charmer, myself.” He grins.

 

“You’re a cheeky thing when you’re all sexed up. You gunna fuck Harry?” Louis blushes.

 

“I don’t know?” Zayn nods. He looks at the clock.

 

“Prince charming should be here any time. Better figure out that answer before he shows up.” Zayn gives a wave, and Louis knows he’ll see him at the party but being alone in his flat makes him anxious. He has so much time to think.

 

Harry knocks on the door at 7:01. Louis puts a mock pout on his face and waits a few seconds before going to the door, and taking a deep breath, he swings it open.

 

“Holy fuck.” Harry chokes out, his green eyes widen and his pupils grow. Louis still pouts.

 

“You’re late.” He says tauntingly.

 

“Fashionably late by one minute, how dare I.” Harry jokes but his eyes keep trailing Louis.

 

“Zayn helped. I probably would’ve gone in my underwear if he hadn’t.” Louis shrugs and Harry grins.

 

“That would be okay too.” He says and Louis laughs. Harry looks amazing as always. His hair is everywhere and it’s perfect, he’s got a black tee shirt with a blue jean button up over top completely undone and a pair of jeans Louis didn’t know were even possible to squeeze into. He’s got Chelsea boots on. The answer to Zayn’s question is a definite maybe.

 

“Ready for the party of your life?” Louis smiles.

 

“Take the lead?” Louis says and loops his arm through Harry. Louis feels like a brand new person. He likes this adventurous Louis who takes chances. His normal shyness seems to melt away from there.

 

“Of course.” Harry says. Louis locks the door and the two are off to Harry’s impressive car.

 

“So what kind of music do you listen to, besides classical stuff?” Harry asks curiously. Louis looks over to him from the passenger seat. He watches Harry drive.

 

“Um I listen to a lot really. It’s a broad spectrum of music. One minute you could hear something of The Fray or The Script, or stuff like old rock, and then it’ll jump to musicals like Wicked and Grease. I was in my old schools production of Grease actually. Played a mean Danny Zuko.” Louis goes on and Harry listens with a smile.

 

“You’ll probably like the music at the party. Niall usually nicks my phone at parties; I make playlists for everything and have mostly songs on my phone. It takes up most of my storage really.” Harry says and Louis laughs.

 

“He would never take mine, there’s a lot of classical stuff on it; so I can learn the songs by ear on the go and play them later.” Harry looks over to him on a red light.

 

“You play by ear?” He asks surprised.

 

“Mostly. I mean I know how to read sheet music, but I prefer learning by ear first, and then applying the sheet music to it. It’s kind of a memory trick for me, hearing the music in my head, playing it, and then filling in the notes I can’t pick out.” He says as if Harry will understand but he knows it’s going in one ear and out the other.

 

“Have you ever thought of applying for Julliard?” Louis smiles.

 

“It’s a far off dream of mine, yes. But tuition is ridiculous for there, I have no chance at a scholarship, and I’d have to live in New York which is also expensive.”

 

“You have a huge chance, you’re fantastic!” Harry defends but Louis shrugs.

 

“Griffith said people from Julliard take forever to respond.” Harry makes a face as he switches lanes to turn down a street.

 

“Well I’ll bet they’re going to respond, and they’ll come here and snatch you up on a full scholarship. You really are amazing.” Harry says and Louis blushes.

 

“Thanks.” He’s quiet after that.

 

“Do you know what you want to go to school for? I know you’re graduating this year, smarty kid.” Harry laughs.

 

“I’ll probably go on a football scholarship. That’s what everyone expects me to go for.” Louis can see the downward turn of Harry’s lips. he places a hand on Harry’s arm, gentle enough not to jostle his driving.

 

“But what do you really want to do?” Louis asks softly. Harry sighs.

 

“Photography.” Harry admits. Louis smiles.

 

“I bet you’re great.” He says and sits back. Another moment and they arrive at Niall’s house. Louis expected cars to line the street but there’s none. Harry parks in the parking lot because that’s where Niall lets him park, and the two get out of the car. When they reach the door Harry walks straight in.

 

“Harry! Yay!” Niall says. He giggles, obviously tipsy already. Harry laughs and shakes his head.

 

“You little Irish bugger. What have you even done to get ready?” Niall laughs and slurps back more beer.

 

“Put the kegs in the kitchen to keep cold, lined the counters with cups, put the coolers out too.”

 

“And got into the kegs I see.” Louis says with a smile and Niall lifts his red cup to his lips to drink.

 

“Sorry I forgot to mention, the party starts at eight? I usually get here early to set up.” Harry smiles and Louis nods.

 

“Want a beer?” Niall asks and Louis shakes his head.

 

“I’m okay.” Harry disappears into a closet and Louis could joke about it but Niall beats him to it.

 

“Harry, why’re you going back in the closet?” Louis snorts loudly. Harry blushes when he emerges from the closet with a rolled up rug.

 

“Haha, funny. Wanna help?” Harry asks and Louis nods. He and Harry roll the black rug out over the cream coloured carpeting.

 

“Mum and da make us put that rug down or else we can’t have the parties here. White carpet and all.” Niall sloshes his beer.

 

“I get it.” Louis smiles at him sweetly.

 

“You look fit, by the way.” Niall says before he leaves to the kitchen. Louis looks at him with a confused look.

 

“Sorry, Niall turns a tad bi when he’s drunk. It’s cute. He’s right though. You’re proper fit.” Louis laughs but doesn’t question it. He also blushes at Harry’s compliment. He helps Harry finish setting up. The first guests, Liam and Zayn, arrive at eight. It’s a steady attendance after that.

 

The party is in full swing by nine. It reminds Louis of parties on TV, where everyone is a cluster of dancing people in the huge living room. People are playing beer pong. Others are doing body shots. Some are using the walls as a steady place to make out. Some are using plants as vomit catchers already.

 

“Would you like a drink?” Harry calls over the music. He and Louis are watching the party more than participating, Louis’ taking his time getting into it.

 

“Just soda’s fine, please.” Louis hollers back and Harry hands him a cup of Coke and he sips from it.

 

“Do you not drink?” Harry asks and Louis shakes his head.

 

“I do sometimes; I’m more of a wine person, if I’m honest. That probably makes me sound so fucking old.” Harry laughs.

 

“No, it’s okay I think it’s nice that you’re not one of those drunks that forgets every party. I am usually the only sober one at parties, to keep the fort down. Obviously Niall isn’t.” he points where Niall is dancing on the coffee table and nearly falls face first off of it. Louis laughs.

 

“Do you want to dance?” He’s feeling surprisingly brave. Harry seems surprised by his question.

 

“Sure. Are you sure?” he asks and Louis takes his hand and sets him drink on the table, he won’t return to it. He pulls Harry to the middle of the crowd where they’ll blend in most, and he looks at Harry for guidance.

 

“I’ve never really done this.” Louis blushes. Harry laughs.

 

“Well how would you like to dance? Like that?” He points to a boy girl couple dancing face to face with the girls arms around the boys neck and their foreheads pressed together. “Or that?” he points to the two guys dancing back to front. Louis almost shivers.

 

“You choose. I’ll follow. You lead, remember?” Louis says and flutters his eyelashes at Harry to hide his nerves. Harry gives him a smile, he gives him a spin and when Louis stops Harry is behind him. He gulps.

 

“Just move your hips to the beat.” Harry whispers in his ear and Louis does shiver this time. He closes his eyes and leans his head back on Harry’s not much taller shoulder and lets Harry’s hands rest on his waist while his hips move in time to the beat of the music and against Harry.

 

“You’re so fit Louis.” Harry breathes into his ear and Louis hums in response. Somehow he slips away and loses himself to the music, letting Harry lead him until he feels like he’s suffocating, and the heat of Harry being everywhere is so intense, he turns and asks Harry if they can get drinks and go outside. Harry complies.

 

“You get quite in warm in there, yeah?” Harry says when they’re sitting beside the pool. Louis nods.

 

“That was nice though.” Harry hums. He takes Louis’ hand in his and Louis lets him keep it.

 

“It was. Thank you, for giving me a chance tonight.” Harry says with a smile.

 

“I think it would’ve been inevitable, me caving. I fancy you a lot, you know.”

 

“You’re shy, that’s all. I was hoping I’d eventually break through that barrier of shyness. It wasn’t easy, you know.” Louis grins.

 

“Don’t lie, you love a good chase.” Harry shrugs but he’s grinning cheekily.

 

“Makes the catch so much more meaningful and fun. You’re a great catch.” Harry says and Louis smiles down at his drink. He hears rustling in the distance, and looking up towards the sound he can see two shadows in the distance. One looks familiar.

 

“Is that… is that Zayn and Liam? Are they… are they shagging in the shadows?” Harry squints to see, and he grins.

 

“Nah, just an intense make out I think. Hey Leemo, don’t forget the rubber yeah?” He shouts and Louis practically snorts his drink out of his nose. The two shadow breaks apart and come red faced toward the pool in shame. Zayn’s lips are red from kissing and he has a love bite on his neck. Obvious.

 

“Nice vamp bite, Z.”

 

“Bite the weenie, Lou.” Zayn mutters.

 

“With relish.” He says back, Zayn catches the reference to Grease and rolls his eyes.

 

“Niall’s room is open, said only one of us could go in. He’s probably passed out in the bathtub again.” Harry offers and Liam looks to Zayn who looks to Louis and Louis nods his head to the house and they walk off with a quiet thank you in the air.

 

“Well that’s awkward. My best friend is shagging your best friend in your other best friend’s bed.” He gets a chill and shivers. Harry laughs.

 

“Never thought of it that way.” There’s a quiet that comes over them and they can’t decide whether it’s awkward or tense because Harry wants to kiss him so badly and Louis isn’t saying anything because he wants Harry to kiss him. So they’ll go with sexually tense.

 

“I’m gunna go make sure they haven’t set a fire in the place yeah?” Harry says with a smile and goes inside before Louis can say ‘okay’.

 

“I’m gunna fuck it up.” He whispers to himself over and over. It’s one of the reasons he didn’t do things like this. What if Harry didn’t want to kiss him back? He wasn’t going to be the one to make the move. Here he was, eighteen and he’s scared over a stupid kiss that may or may not happen. He sips the last bit of his Coke and goes to find Harry. When he finds him he drags him to the dance floor, they crowd together and wordlessly let the music carry them.

 

The party dies at four. Everyone (about fifty people) crashes at Niall’s house like always, most pass out on the floor, cuddled up to plants some even on tables and counters. Harry and Louis are the last ones awake when Harry shuts off the music. He looks at Louis before speaking.

 

“Erm… I usually… sleep in the guest room.” Louis nods towards the stairs and smiles.

 

He begins to go upstairs and he pulls Harry along. Harry shows him the guest bedroom with a queen sized bed that looks heavenly right about now. Louis kicks off his shoes and hops on it, sinking into the memory foam mattress. Harry stands at the door awkwardly, unsure of what to do. Louis quirks an eyebrow at him.

 

“You coming to bed, curly?” He asks and Harry looks up from his feet.

 

“You sure?” Harry asks hesitantly and Louis pats the space beside him.

 

“You invited me here but it doesn’t mean I’m going to steal your sleeping spot. C’mon, I bet you’re a good cuddler.” Louis teases and he’s not sure where this confidence is coming from but he kind of likes it.

 

Harry smiles; he shuts the door behind him and comes over to the bed. He loses his boots and climbs up on the bed with Louis. The dim light of the fading moon shimmers through the drapes. Louis lies on his left side to face Harry. Harry lies on his back with a good enough distance between he and Louis. Louis pouts but Harry doesn’t know that. Louis scoots closer until he’s curled up into Harry’s side and Harry tenses, he lifts his arm and wraps it around Louis’ back comfortably. They’re now cuddling, Louis’ head on Harry’s chest and hearing his erratic heartbeat.

 

“You okay?” Louis asks him as his hand rubs soft circles to Harry’s chest. Harry breathes deeply.

 

“Better than. This has only been my dream for the past few weeks I’ve known you. I’ve fancied you since you caught me creeping on you.” Harry admits to the dark. Louis smiles.

 

“Why were you creeping on me anyway?”

 

“Never knew about that hallway until that day, when I found it I got curious and found you.”

 

“Curiosity killed the cat, Harold.” Louis teases.

 

“Mmm, but I have nine lives still. Meow.” Harry banters back.

 

“Just so you know, even though it may not have seemed like it, I fancied you since then too. Maybe even longer.” Louis admits and Harry shifts beneath him.

 

“Why didn’t you ever come say hi?” Harry asks and Louis gives him a ‘really Harry’ type shove.

 

“You know why.” He answers. They’re quiet.

 

“God I’ve wanted to kiss you since the first time I saw you. And tonight when you opened your door, holy shit I nearly passed out you looked so good and I just wanted to kiss you then. I still want to kiss you now. Can I kiss you? Please?” How could he say no when he was so polite?

 

“Please do.” Harry sits up and faces Louis. Louis lies back on the back and Harry hovers over him. Their noses brush and Harry’s necklace chain dangles between the spaces between them. Their eyes meet.

 

“Please kiss me.” Louis breathes and Harry smiles. Louis closes his eyes and wraps his arms gently around Harry’s neck, pulling him closer. It’s Harry who seals the final distance between them and their lips touch.

 

If Louis were to write an essay on clichés, he’d write this. Kissing Harry is like kissing the sun. Harry is warm and full of light and even in the dark room he’s beaming brighter than anything Louis could ever imagine. Kissing Harry is like kissing a flower. He smells so lovely and he’s perfect and his lips are as soft and delicate as a flower petal. Kissing Harry gives him fireworks and white lights behind his eyes and he feels like a star exploding and becoming something new and brighter. Kissing Harry feels like home, and it’s scary and wonderful all at the same time.

 

Harry is the first to pull back. In the darkness he searches Louis’ face for hesitance but there’s none. Louis pulls him in for another kiss and he gently traces his tongue along Harry’s bottom lip. Harry shivers but goes with it, parting his lips and letting Louis’ tongue meet his. They stay like this for a while, kissing lazily and comfortably until Harry falls beside him and they’re breathless and giggly and it’s all just really nice.

 

“I’m never going to want to stop doing that now.” Harry tells Louis. Louis laughs. Louis wouldn’t stop him.

 

“Thank you, Harry.” He says softly to the dark. Harry looks his way.

 

“For what?” And for what, Louis isn’t sure he could pin point a single things, but rather a few things. None the less he just shakes his head and cuddles in to Harry and sighs, contented.

 

“Just, thank you.” Louis says again. They don’t talk after that. Louis lets the sound of Harry’s breathing and heartbeat lull him to sleep. Harry has the best sleep he’s had in the longest time.

 

*

 

 

Things escalate quickly after that night and Louis’ not complaining one bit. Besides Zayn, he now has three friends, one of which he can technically say he’s dating. They haven’t exactly put a label on it, but it feels a lot like a relationship so Louis goes with it.

 

Every day Harry walks Louis to his classes. He sits in the music room with Louis while he’s practicing and does his homework. He learns things about Louis. When Louis opens up to someone, he’s an open book. And he takes pictures. Harry is always snapping pictures of Louis, not that Louis minds. He grows comfortable with Harry being around.

 

They spend their time at school together, but when Harry doesn’t have football practice he’s usually at Louis’ flat. It’s like a ritual, even if Harry is at football practice he always comes to Louis’ house to make dinner for them (Harry claims Louis is thin because he can hardly cook anything and Louis doesn’t complain about home cooked meals). While Harry cooks, Louis plays. It becomes second nature to them. It’s strange how well they’ve just become a part of each other’s lives and yet it feels like it’s the easiest thing in the world.

 

“So I may be entering a photography competition.” Harry tells Louis over dinner one night. Louis looks up with a string of spaghetti still hanging from his mouth. He’s a happy surprised.

 

“Really? What’s it about? What do you win?” Harry smiles at Louis’ curiosity.

 

“Well, participants have to select a muse and create a portfolio of sorts, or really a mini gallery, of different photos they take of this muse. They have to write a thing about the muse too. Like why they chose it and what it means to them and stuff. The first prize winner gets a full scholarship to a school of their choice, anywhere.” Harry says and Louis’ eyes light up.

 

“That’s amazing! I’m sure you’ll win. So if you’re entering, what is your muse?” Harry gives him a ‘wouldn’t you like to know’ kind of look.

 

“We can’t reveal what our muse is to anyone until the contest is done.” It’s not the truth, but the rules say that they participants shouldn’t disclose information about their entry so it’s not lying either. Louis nods.

 

“I like this.” Louis says and Harry smiles.

 

“Thanks. My mum taught me-”

 

“No, not the pasta silly. Although that’s good too. I like this, us. Whatever it is, I like it.” There, he finally said something about it. Harry blushes.

 

“Oh. Well, I like it too.” He tells Louis and then they continue about their dinner. Louis surprises Harry with a bottle of red wine, the sweet kind and not bitter, and the two of them cuddle up on Louis’ couch together, sipping their wine and watching Britain’s Got Talent. They fall asleep early on the couch and don’t wake up until early morning when Harry’s phone is buzzing.

 

“Hazza, kill it.” Louis whines and Harry wakes up enough to slide the phone open and answer the call.

 

“’lo?” He mumbles and rubs sleep out of his eye.

 

“Where the fuck are you?” The voice barks and Harry is completely awake now.

 

“Hello to you too.” He replies back bitterly.

 

“Don’t talk to me in that tone, Harry. I am your father. You were supposed to be here. I told you my good friend was coming from the university to see you. He thought you stood him up!”

 

“Shit sorry, I was at a friends and blanked-” his dad cuts him off.

 

“Luckily I covered for your ass and said you were at an early morning football practice and he’s agreed to come by again for lunch. You better be here, it’s your future on the line.” The other end goes fuzzy and clicks off and Harry wants to throw his phone.

 

“Who was that asshole?” Louis says groggily.

 

“My dad.”

 

“Oh. Correction, sounds like a lovely lad.” Louis gives a tired thumbs up and yawns. Harry finds that cute.

 

“He’s a prick. Just one more year to deal with him and then he can fuck off.” Harry says and disentangled himself from Louis despite the other boy’s protests.

 

He makes them both tea and omelettes before he tells Louis he has to go. Louis goes on his tippy toes to kiss him goodbye, and Louis makes his way to his bedroom for more sleep in just a pair of boxers and Harry’s big jumper. It’s the cutest thing Harry’s ever seen. Harry goes home in a tee shirt that’s not his that smells like Louis and it makes him feel better about the impending shit storm of his father. Baby steps.

 

Just as he expected, when he arrives home the house is spotless from hours of his mother cleaning and there’s a full lunch set up on their long dining room table they hardly use and his father is sitting in the recliner chair watching a football game in a suit with a scowl on his face. His mum is in the kitchen in one of her fancy dresses and heels as she cleans the counters. He’s about to sneak up to his room when his father hears the door shut.

 

“Harry Styles.” He says in that tone that simply means ‘come here’. Harry sighs and stomps into the living room and isn’t surprised to see his father’s face redden at the sight of him.

 

“Jesus Christ Harry, go clean yourself up before Glenn gets here. This is a future we’re striving for here; you can’t just wear ratty jeans and a tee shirt as hideous as that. Is that even yours?” Harry doesn’t answer, just glares at the asshole and stomps up the stairs.

 

“Put on appropriate clothing!” His father booms up the stairs.

 

“Fuck that! I am not wearing a god damn tie!” Harry shouts back. He’s sick of shit like this. He showers and dresses in record time and when he’s coming downstairs in a pair of his best jeans and a button down his fathers at the door welcoming Glenn back.

 

“I really am sorry about earlier, it was a last minute practice the coach called and being the quarter back, well he had to be there.” His father talks in his professional voice and Harry wants to gouge his eyes out with spoons.

 

“Harry, this is my good mate Glenn Robertson, he’s the coach at the university. Glenn, my son, Harry.” Harry gestures his hand out and Glenn shakes with a firm grip.

 

“Quite a hand shake you’ve got there son. I’ve seen you play, you’re an excellent player. We’d be proud to have you at the university.”

 

“Let’s hope those scouts of yours pick him for the scholarship.” His dad jokes and Harry grimaces at him.

 

“With a push in the right direction from a coach, they just might.” Glenn joke back and Harry is ready to off himself. He excuses himself to the bathroom and calls Louis in tears.

 

“It’s like I don’t even matter, like I’m just a pawn.” He sniffles. Louis coos on the other end.

 

“Hey, I know it’s hard right now, but get through this dinner and then come back over, my doors always open. You know that. We’ll have a nice cuddle again and watch Disneys like little kids.” Harry smiles at that because of course that’s Louis’ way of trying to cheer him up. He likes that.

 

“Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Thank you Lou. A lot. For everything.” He hangs up after hearing a small ‘you’re welcome Harry’ back. He splashes water on his face and tries to appear happy but the sinking feeling of going back out there is crushing him.

 

“Harry?” a soft voice on the other side of the door calls.

 

“Coming mum. Tell him not to get his knickers in a twist.” He opens the door and she draws him into a hug.

 

“I love you darling.” She says and the two walk back to the living room where his dad is showing off all of Harry’s trophies.

 

“Ah, there he is. Come now, let’s eat.” He sits at the head of the table and Harry sits in his usual place, Glenn sits in a neighbouring chair but Anne doesn’t sit down at all. She serves them. Fucking serves like a waitress or a slave.

 

“Mum, aren’t you eating with us?” Harry asks and his dad clears his throat.

 

“No, she is not. She already ate.” He says dismissively and Anne gives Harry a look before going into the kitchen. Harry feels sick. He swallows it until Glenn has left and then he fucking blows up.

 

“How fucking dare you!” He shouts to his father who is loosening his tie. His father looks surprised and Anne just stands in the kitchen door way with her ‘Harry please don’t bother’ look.

 

“Excuse me?” his father says in a challenging tone.

 

“She’s your fucking wife not your god damn maid, waitress, or slave so stop treating her like one! I know full well that she didn’t fucking eat before the meal, you made her fucking serve our meal and then eat in the bloody kitchen like a dog! How fucking dare you!” Harry spews and his father stands tall and menacing.

 

“Well the last time I checked, Harry, I was the man of the house. I was the person who paid the bills. And the one who is trying to get you a scholarship to a great university to ensure your future. So I’m the one who fucking decides what goes on and who does what in my house. Not you. Who do you think you are to call me out like this? Hm?” His father’s hands are on his hips. Harry is hysterical.

 

“You are a bastard. A selfish, egotistical, controlling fucking bastard! You don’t care about anyone but yourself! You don’t care how others feel; it’s all about your own gain! And you use me as a puppet to make yourself look good. But guess what, father? Soon enough the strings will be cut and you will have nothing to hide behind.” Harry spits venomously toward his father. The man doesn’t even flinch. He simply swings and lands the punch right to Harry’s left temple just by his eye. Harry hears his mother’s scream but he’s jarred and stunned by the hit and falls backward against the wall. He blacks out a moment and when he looks up; his father is looming over him.

 

“Remember who the man of the house is Harry. Focus on football, you’re good at that. And don’t you dare shout at me like that again.” His father simply walks down the hall to his office and slams the door. Anne runs to Harry the moment the door shuts, fawning over him.

 

“Oh my baby, are you alright? That’s so unlike him! Harry please say something so I know you’re okay!” She cries. Harry just stares blankly at the wall for a moment before sitting up and touching his temple. He hisses in pain.

 

“Harry?” He stands up on shaky legs and Anne follows him. Harry stumbles down the stairs to the lobby by the main door. He toes on his books and grabs his keys.

 

“Harry where are you going!? You can’t drive like this! You could be concussed!” She calls.

 

“I’ll be fine. I’m going to a friend’s. I’ll text.” He says but he’s running as fast as he can to his car and driving away. His head is throbbing and he wants to cry but if he cries he’ll have to pull over because he won’t be able to see. He prays he doesn’t get dizzy because it’s not going to be good. He manages to make it to Louis’ house and only once he’s parked in the building parking lot does he break down. He calls Louis in between sobs.

 

“Hey babe how did things- Harry?” Louis’ voice fills with worry the moment he hears a sob. It takes him a full minute to form the sentence.

 

“Hit. Me. Downstairs. Please.” And somehow Louis understands because not even a minute later he’s sprinting to the car and yanking the door open the help Harry out of it.

 

“Jesus Harry, you shouldn’t have driven like this. C’mon, let’s get you upstairs.” And Harry lets him lock his car and put the roof up, he lets him throw his arm over his shoulder and help him upstairs to the flat; he lets Louis sit him on the couch while he goes and gets a first aid kit, an ice pack and Paracetamol. Louis thinks of everything. Harry stares blankly ahead.

 

“Okay, almost done.” Louis tells him as he rubs an alcohol pad across the small scrap the punch gave him. Harry just lets Louis clean him up.

 

“What happened?” He asks but Harry’s tongue is lead, it won’t move.

 

“Harry?” Louis says and Harry meets his eyes.

 

“Are you feeling confused? Dizzy? Sick?” Louis asks softly and Harry winces when he shakes his head no.

 

“Okay. You’ll tell me if you are, right? It’s a sign of a concussion, and you’d need to go to the A&E.” Louis explains and Harry nods.

 

“You can talk to me, babe. It’s okay. Just breathe deep for me. Tell me what happened?” Harry nods. He breathes deeply.

 

“He hit me because I screamed at him. For treating my mum like a slave. For being an asshole. He’s never hit me before.” he says thoughtfully. Louis doesn’t say anything about his father or press any further. Instead he checks Harry for any more bumps and bruises. He doesn’t put anything on the scrape; it’s small and not worth a band aid. But he does give Harry the ice pack to hold to his now swelling eye.

 

“I can’t believe you drove like this. It was so careless of you.” He tuts and brushes a soft curl out of Harry’s face. Harry sighs. Louis sits on the couch and lets him cuddle in. Harry whimpers and Louis just combs through his matted curls.

 

“Well apart from your head, I must say you look quite handsome, mister.” Louis says softly to make Harry smile. It works.

 

“You look very nice in my sweater still.”

 

“It smelled like you. Plus the flat’s been a bit chilly. I refuse to turn the heat back on when summer is almost here in two months and I’ve already cleaned out the vents again.” He says as if Harry knows why he had to clean out the vents in the first place. Harry supposes it’s something people with their own houses did. Something his mum did.

 

“How about some tea, love?” Harry’s warm and comfortable and doesn’t want to move.

 

“No thanks.” Louis nods.

 

“You can’t go to sleep yet.” Louis warns and Harry whines.

 

“But I’m sleepy.” Harry mumbles. Louis sighs.

 

“I know but you’re not supposed to sleep after you bonk your bean…” He says lightly. Harry just nods as if he understands.

 

“Do you need anything?” Louis asks and Harry shakes his head this time. he cuddles in close and watches the clock on the wall tick.

 

“No. Just need you. Stay.” Now that is something he can do. So Louis stays.

 

*

 

Harry stays with Louis for the remainder of the weekend and the whole school week too. Louis washes his jeans for him every couple of days because he doesn’t want to wear dirty jeans but Louis’ jeans won’t fit him but all of Louis’ shirts do fit perfectly tight. He only stops by his house once to collect his school bag from his mother at the door. She hadn’t thought to send any clothes because she’d assumed he’d be returning home that evening, even when he wasn’t. So he’s stuck with one pair of jeans and Louis’ shirts. But he loves wearing Louis’ shirts so there really isn’t a problem there. They’re not exactly hiding their relationship, but it’s on Friday when the cover is blown.

 

They’re walking through the cafeteria together and Louis pays for yet another lunch because Harry’s wallet is currently only holding a credit card linked to his father’s Harry account and he assumes the connection has be cut off currently for his outburst. Louis is more than willing to feed and clothe and shelter Harry. Harry isn’t sure where he’d be if it wasn’t for Louis right now.

 

“Here’s your change.” The lunch lady hands Louis his coins and he and Harry carry their trays to a table. And Harry happens to lean over on Louis’ shoulder and Louis smiles down at him from under black frames (because his contacts had been bugging him again lately) and then Harry leans up and kisses him. He doesn’t think anything of it until the chatter of the cafeteria turns to silence. Louis freezes.

 

“It’s okay.” Louis whispers and Harry looks around. People are staring, people are on their phones, and Louis is still but he doesn’t seem to be bothered that Harry’s pretty much just outted him and put their relationship in the gossip chain of the school.

 

“You sure?” Harry says quietly back. The room slowly returns to white noise.

 

“Don’t really get a redo, do we?” Louis says with a playful smile and Harry knows he’s really alright. Louis leans in and kisses him again, and then kisses the mark on his face. It’s healing slowly, left a nasty bruise and his eye just returned to normal size a few days ago.

 

“So it’s official then?” Harry asks and Louis laughs.

 

“Harry, I officially pronounce you my boyfriend, you goof.” Louis puts an imaginary fake ring on Harry’s hand and it makes him warm and tingly.

 

“I officially pronounce you boyfriend too.” Harry repeats Louis’ action. Louis laughs.

 

“Now kiss me you fool.” He says and brings Harry into a big kiss.

 

“Ew, are you two official now too?” Niall says as he sits down. Liam and Zayn follow suit, making heart eyes at each other. Harry and Louis both hold up their hands and point to their ring finger.

 

“What the fuck does that even mean?” Niall asks confused and both Harry and Louis laugh loudly.

 

“You’re too young to understand, Niall.” Louis pats his shoulder.

 

“I’m older than Harry for fucks sakes.” Niall pouts and the whole table laughs.

 

“But Harry is far more perverted than you, Nialler.” Liam speaks up. Niall shrugs at that and begins eating his pizza.

 

“Liam you don’t even know what it means either.” Harry replies and Liam shrugs.

 

“You gave each other imaginary boyfriend rings to seal the deal. We did that too, see?” Liam says as if it was completely obvious to him. He holds out his bare hand and Harry ‘ooooh’s at it.

 

The group laughs as they eat their lunch together. Harry and Louis dismiss themselves early and they walk to the music room. Louis holds his hand the entire walk and people stare but Louis just smiles and stares at his feet and Harry feels like a proud mother duck after her duckling turned into a swan and took its first swim. When they get into the music room Louis releases a big whoosh of air and Harry hugs him.

 

“It may take some time for that to die down.” Louis nods.

 

“I suppose I’ll have to get used to being main orchestra now, instead of just background noise.” Louis says simply and Harry knows they’ll be okay.

 

The two of them go into the piano room, and Harry takes his place in the comfy chair to the side of Louis’ piano bench. Louis doesn’t pull any books out, he gives Harry a fond look and a smile before closing his eyes and letting his hands run across the ivories until he finds the ones he’s looking for perfectly.

 

With one note, Harry knows what it is. It’s Clair de Lune by Debussy. (x) It’s the one piece of classical music that Harry can identify (apart from the Tchaikovsky pieces from the Nutcracker and Swan Lake, and that was only because Gemma constantly watched the Barbie adaptations of those when he was little). Harry watched as Louis’ fingers trail the ivories and ring out crystal clear notes of music that travel deep in him. He watches Louis’ face, the calm and almost sleep-like look that takes place, the serene look of him. Louis looks so comfortable in his element. Like Louis was meant to be part of a piano. This was what Louis was meant to do. Harry realized how inevitably fucked he is. He’s hooked. And as the last high pitched note of the song rings out Louis’ eyes open and meets Harry’s. Maybe Louis’ hooked too.

 

“Clair de Lune?” Harry says and Louis grins.

 

“You know that one?” Louis asks and Harry grins right back.

 

“It’s one of the few I know. I know the Swan Lake and Nutcracker ones too.” Louis laughs at that.

 

“C’mere. C’mon!” Louis urges softly when Harry gets a confused face. Harry slowly stands up and comes over to Louis. He sits down beside him like was told to do, and he doesn’t lose eye contact. Louis takes Harry’s hand in his and smiles.

 

“Want to learn something?” Louis asks, and Harry’s eyes lighten up.

 

“Really?” Harry says in excitement. Louis chuckles at him but nods. He holds his hand up and makes Harry do the same. Their fingers are spread comfortably and then Louis places Harry’s fingers on the ivory.

 

“I can teach you a real song, or I can teach you a trick that makes it look like you know what you’re doing.” Louis says casually and Harry laughs.

 

“I’ll take the trick, then.” Harry replies and Louis nods with a smile.

 

“So stick to the black keys then, they’re the ones that’ll make you look smart.” Harry moves his fingers up to the black keys. “Now all you need are your thumb and pinky. With your thumb find a black key. Typically the left one in the sets of two makes it sound the best.” Harry finds a left in a set of two black keys and presses it. Louis nods.

 

“Now with you pinky find where the key repeats.” Harry finds that key with his left hand and then sets his pinky there. He plays them together and makes a little squeak noise of excitement that makes Louis laugh and kiss his cheek.

 

“Cute.” He mumbles into Harry’s shoulder.

 

“So do the same with your left hand now.” Louis tells him and Harry listens. Louis feels proud.

 

“Okay, so now if you keep your hands like that you can move them to any two keys that repeat, if that makes sense.” Louis shows Harry and Harry gets it. Louis nods.

 

“Try with both hands.” Louis encourages once Harry gets the hang of it. Harry continues to move his hands in the same motion and Louis watches on with a smile.

 

“Okay, now for the tricky part that’ll seal the deal, moving you other three fingers.” Louis shows him how to play the black keys in random tunes within his thumb and pinky with his hand placed over Harry’s. It’s cute, like something from a film. Harry nearly dies in happiness because this is so cool. He does this for what feels like ages and his fingers start to cramp. Louis laughs when he whines about it.

 

“How do you play and not get cramped.” Harry mutters and Louis rubs Harry’s hands perfectly and practiced.

 

“For the longest time I did; every time I’d play my mum would have to do this. Sometimes I’d have to ice or hot pack my hands just to get them to unlock. Muscle and joint relaxants are my best friend.” He says with a reminiscent laugh.

 

“Do you ever miss home?” Harry asks thoughtfully. Louis sighs.

 

“Sometimes. But other times I feel like it was better that I moved out, so my mum wouldn’t have to take care of me anymore. She’s got a lot on her plate and all. I know she worries about me, but I tell her I’m okay and she trusts me to be on my own.”

 

“It must’ve been scary, living by yourself at sixteen.”

 

“In ways it was. It was lonely, if anything. I grew used to that, took it out on the piano. Then when I met Zayn and everything was good. It’s a lot better now though.” He nudges Harry as if to say having Harry around makes the difference. It makes Harry blush.

 

“I finally have the happy balance in my life I’ve wanted. Between piano and people. I made two new good friends from you, and I have you to myself. I realized this not to long ago when I was alone at my flat, you’d just gone home. And I didn’t feel lonely. I felt content. Happy. Balanced. And… and I think you were the missing link that brought it all together.”    Louis admits and Harry can’t help but grin and hide his face in the crook of Louis’ neck.

 

“Here, gimme your fingers.” Louis says softly and he places Harry’s hand on a few keys.

 

Over Harry’s, Louis plays the notes with him as well as the right handed notes. They’re playing Clair de Lune again. He moves Harry’s hand as if they were one, and when it comes to a more complicated bit he stops. He and Harry meet eyes. They stare at each other for a minute of silence, Harry’s eyes flicker to Louis’ lips.

 

Harry surges forward and captures Louis in a kiss, catching Louis off guard. He makes a noise of surprise but falls right into step with Harry. The kiss is fast paced and it’s not unlike one of their many make out sessions at Louis’ flat but holy shit- this is happening at school. Harry gets Louis to stand up while still kissing, and slowly they make their way backwards until Louis has his back against the wall. Louis lets out a whimper into the kiss. Harry pulls away and he looks at Louis and Louis looks back at him with wide blown eyes and red cheeks and kiss bitten lips.

 

“Fuck.” Harry groans from where he’s rested his forehead on Louis’ shoulder. Louis laughs and pulls Harry closer.

 

“You’re a trouble starter, Mr. Styles.” Louis says in a low voice.

 

Harry grins against the fabric of Louis’ red tee shirt. His nose nuzzles against Louis’ neck and moves the red fabric out of the way just enough to see a patch of unmarred skin. He goes for it. Harry presses an open mouthed kiss to the space and Louis shivers. Well that’s promising. Harry kisses again, each time a little harder. Louis is shaking beautifully against the wall. His hand is in Harry’s hair, clutching the curls but not pulling him away. Harry takes a breath of air, and begins sucking at the skin. Louis gasps at the sensation and lets out a throaty groan.

 

“Holy shit. Harry.” Louis whines and pulls on Harry’s hair but it only drives him more and he sucks harder. Louis is making small whimpering noises and puffs of air and when Harry pulls back his lips are spit shiny and bright pink, eyes wild and hair everywhere. Louis is falling down the wall, eyes blown, and a big blooming love bite on his collarbone. He’s also sporting a semi in his jeans. He blushes.

 

They’ve never really done anything sexual yet, which if he’s honest surprises Harry. It’s not that they don’t want to; they’ve just not hit that aspect of the relationship yet. Shit, they weren’t even official until lunch time today. But Louis isn’t ashamed of having a semi, and Harry sees a golden opportunity and he’s going to take it. He steps forward with a mischievous look in his eyes and he grips Louis’ hips and rolls his into Louis’. Louis’ head falls back and his jaw drops.

 

“Could suck you off, if you want.” Louis makes a noise in the back of his throat.

 

“Fuck, Harry. As much as I’d love that, I mean I’d love for you to do that; I mean what kind of person wouldn’t want a blow job from you, especially at school like a rebel, the bells gunna ring and we’ve both got class and fuck-” He runs a hand through his fringe and down his cheek. Harry chuckles.

 

“Alright. To be continued?” Harry says and a warning bell rings. Louis groans and Harry backs away slowly, he’s about to exit the room when he meets Louis’ eyes.

 

“To be continued.” Harry repeats and winks before the door. Louis slides down the wall and wrings his hands in his hair. He looks up at the door and sees Zayn standing there with a knowing smirk. Louis just covers his face with his hands and whines.

 

“I’m so fucked.”

 

 

*

 

“Boo.” Harry says in Louis’ ear. He startles him, the sneaky little ninja. He never even heard the door close behind him. Harry pulls Louis back against him and leans in to nip at Louis’ ear lobe, nearly causing Louis to fall over, his knees give out.

 

“Hello.” Louis says breathily.

 

“Hi.” Harry chuckles. Louis sets his bag down on the chair beside them and Harry pulls him over to the couch. Louis squeaks when Harry gives him a light shove, ending with Louis on his back staring up at Harry kneeling over him.

 

“Fast worker, you are.” Louis mumbles and Harry laughs. He leans over for a kiss and rolls his hips down to Louis’. Louis’ on his way to being fully hard.

 

“When I said to be continued, I meant it.” Harry mumbles into his ear. Louis stifles a moan.

 

“I didn’t think you’d mean as soon as we walked through my flat door.” Louis responds and groans when Harry’s hands make their way to the bottom of his shirt. He sits up a bit and raises his arms so Harry can remove it. Harry stares at him sighs in happiness.

 

“Can I keep you like this always?” Harry asks and Louis blushes.

 

“You want me always?” He says back softly and Harry smiles fondly at him but doesn’t say anything.

 

He simply kisses him and hopes the feeling he has, Louis has too and the emotion is conveyed through the kiss. Louis sighs happily into the kiss and Harry can’t help but smile. But then Harry begins trailing his kisses to Louis’ neck, and downward from there. He kisses and nips at both of Louis’ nipples, earning delicious noises from the boy before going further. Harry is thumbing at the button of Louis’ tight jeans and kissing across his ribs and tummy.

 

“How long has it been?” Harry asks. Louis whines and scrabbles for something to cling to.

 

“What?” Louis breathes out.

 

“How long has it been since something like has happened?” Oh, he means sex. Louis whines and bucks up to tell Harry to keep going.

 

“Ah- two… two years.” He says just as Harry flicks the button open on Louis’ jeans and pulls down the zipper. Louis lifts his hips and Harry tugs down the jeans, leaving Louis in his boxers to further tease. If Louis could form proper sentences he’s tell him to get on with it already and stop the teasing.

 

“Jesus, how’ve you lived?” Harry says surprised. Louis pants out air as Harry kisses along his boxers waist line.

 

“My hand has become a very best friend of mine.” He banters through gritted teeth and Harry laughs as he traces the line of Louis’ cock through his boxers. Louis’ thighs shake.

 

“Fuck Harry c’mon.” Louis begs and looks down at Harry with pleading eyes. Harry places an opened mouth kiss to Louis’ tented boxers. Well fuck.

 

“Fuck.” Louis groans. Harry laps at the wet spot of Louis’ boxers, making Louis a shaking whiny mess beneath him and he hasn’t even begun yet. Louis feels like he’s going to die. He fists his fingers into Harry’s curls and bucks up to give him an idea. Harry pulls back grinning.

 

“You wanna fuck my mouth?” He says with a shit eating grin. Louis heaves a breath and Harry finally pulls down his boxers. He stares at Louis a moment, for the whole time he’s known Louis he’s wanted this.

 

“You have no idea how many times I thought about this. Fuck I’ve wanked so much since I met you; you’re like walking sex, Louis. Seriously.” Harry tells him and Louis feels like an anvil is sitting on his chest he can hardly breathe.

 

“Please. Please.” He begs and Harry finally listens. He takes Louis in his hand and thumbs over the head teasingly to collect the precome there.

 

“Fuck, I never pegged you as one who teases so fucking much!” Louis grunts out. Harry laughs.

 

“Oh, just you wait and see.” Harry winks but he finally gives in the Louis, he keeps eye contact the entire time as he licks his lips and opens his mouth.

 

Louis’ cock rests against his bottom lip and Harry licks at the head. Louis physically can’t watch or he’ll cum instantly. He throws an arm over his face to cover his eyes. Harry wraps his lips around Louis and dips just the slightest bit, swallowing and inching down bit by bit until he’s got half of Louis in his mouth, the other half being pumped by his hand. Louis is practically wheezing. Harry takes his hand away, and he pulls off completely and Louis is about to ask what he’s doing when Harry takes him down fully for the first time. Louis can feel himself at the back of Harry’s throat- his mind goes fuzzy. Harry does this only twice more before Louis is choking out a small “I’m gonna-” and he cums harder than he has in all his years of having sex.

 

For a minute or two Louis thinks he may’ve passed out. When he clues in that he’s still awake and not in a sex induced coma, He can feel Harry grinding against his leg. He looks up to see the green eyed boy fully consumed in chasing an orgasm. Louis holds his hips still and Harry whines.

 

“I can help-” Harry shakes his head and keeps a steady pace against Louis’ thigh.

 

“Close. Close Lou.” Louis’ hand tangles into his hair.

 

“Please.” Harry whines. Louis doesn’t know what Harry is begging for until Harry moves his head away from Louis’ hand and- oh. Louis gives a tug on Harry’s hair and Harry gasps, he bottoms out over Louis and cums in his pants. He’s sort of crushing Louis on the tiny couch but Louis doesn’t mind. Louis just holds him as he comes down from his little sex haze cloud, petting his sweaty hair gently and running soft fingers down the knobs of his spine.

 

“Thank you.” Louis whispers to him and Harry pulls his face out of the crook of Louis’ neck where he was hiding and he’s grinning like a little kid and he’s so beautiful Louis wants to cry.

 

“Thank you.” Harry says back and Louis smiles back at him.

 

“Shower?” Louis asks and Harry pouts.

 

“I’m a cuddler after though.” Louis laughs but he bumps his hips up to make a point.

 

“You’re quite messy, mister. We can cuddle for as long as you like after but I need a shower and so you do. C’mon. You wash my back I’ll wash yours?” Louis says as a joke and Harry laughs with a cackle.

 

“I’m a dead weight; you’ll have to find a way to move me.” Louis thinks for a moment before he’s grinning menacingly.

 

“If you be a good boy and go get in the shower, I may just suck you off as a reward.” Louis says casually but Harry’s eyes darken again and Louis can feel the excitement growing against his naked thigh. Harry’s jaw drops and he all but crashes into the bathroom before Louis even has a chance to get up off the couch. He can’t help but grin to himself because this is his life now. And he loves every bit of it.

 

*

 

“Holy shit!” Louis shrieks very unmanly like. It’s not even seven in the morning but Louis is now wide awake. Harry comes running from the bedroom still half asleep and spooked and wearing a pair of Louis’ boxers and a tee shirt that’s too big for both Louis and Harry.

 

“What happened?” Harry asks and Louis stares wide eyed at his phone in a state of shock. Harry grows worried when Louis looks up at Harry with watery eyes before looking back at his phone like it’s magic or the grim reaper. Harry can’t tell which.

 

“Utter a word so I know if it’s good or bad?” He suggest and Louis lowers his hand. There’s a smile on his face that lights up the entire room. Good news.

 

“Juilliard.” Louis breathes out and Harry’s eyes widen.

 

“You got in?”

 

“Not yet but- but Mr. Griffith! He- that mad man- had a connection somewhere in there, oh my god! He said they finally contacted him back and it’s rare but it does happen, that a few representatives from Juilliard’s auditioning panel makes their way to the UK for a few auditioners –is that a word? Doubtful- that can’t make it to New York but have sent in videos and a bunch of shit and- and- they’re coming here. To let me audition. Me. I… I could be going to Juilliard.” His eyes meet Harry’s and he’s crying and beaming and Harry is so positively proud he scoops Louis up into his arms and spins him around and Louis laughs and hugs Harry as best he can and he’s so happy he could burst.

 

“Juilliard!?” Zayn shouts through the door and Louis and Harry burst out laughing and Louis screams “YES!” and Zayn unlocks the door with his key and isn’t at all phased by the boys lack of clothing, he’s severely lacking clothing in just a beanie and boxers himself. He comes and hugs Louis once Harry’s put his feet back on solid ground. Harry watches on with a proud smile.

 

But then inside he’s coming to the realization that Louis is auditioning for Juilliard. And if he gets in, that means he’ll be leaving the UK behind to go to New York. He’ll be leaving Harry behind. And that’s when the gut wrenching feeling settles in the pit of Harry’s stomach. It’s the best moment of Louis’ life, and possibly the worst for Harry’s. And there’s nothing he can do to change it.

 

*

 

Harry returns to his house the next day, after football practice. He’s sweaty and wearing Louis’ shirt and he hears the crinkling of a newspaper being held up and flipped through and he just knows that something’s going to happen.

 

“Welcome home son. How’s that bruise? Did it heal nicely? I wouldn’t know, since you haven’t been home in almost two weeks.” His father says in that voice that makes Harry want to slam his fist in a wall.

 

“I was at a friend’s.” Harry replies frigidly. His father turns the page.

 

“Mmm. I see. Niall’s? Or Liam’s? Probably not, because I called both their fathers, and they said they haven’t seen you in ages.”

 

“No, a new friend.” He says back.

 

“A friend or a bum fucker?” His father spits. Harry nearly fucking loses it. Instead he fights back fire with fire.

 

“Oh yeah, one of those. Totally got fucked up the ass the whole time I was gone. It was great.” He doesn’t say it in a joking tone either. His father stands off the couch and spins around to face Harry. He senses this is round two.

 

“I want you home every day right after school unless there is a football practice. You’ll attend every practice and you’ll work out from home now. You will have your homework completed and handed in with a 87% average on tests, and you will under no circumstances talk to the queer faggot who is poisoning your mind and stealing your time when you should be preparing for the final games of the season. College scouts will be there, that is your future. Is that understood?” Harry stood there taller than his father but not as strong as him. He can feel his lip wobble and his eyes are muddled with tears and he’s too fucking afraid to say no. So he nods and a stray tear falls. His father scoffs.

 

“Be a man Harry, not some boy loving pansy. If I hear that you’ve been talking with that boy, I will not hesitate to recreate a few weeks ago.”

 

“Can’t I at least tell him goodbye?” Harry says in a harsh, watery tone.

 

His father eyes him with a cold stare before turning his back and returning to the couch. Harry runs up the stairs so fast, falling into his bed and smothering his face in the pillow to drown out the sound of his pitiful sobs. One minute, his life was perfect and as happy as can be, and right now it feels like everything is falling apart at the seams, and all Harry can do is watch from the sidelines like a puppet still tethered to the strings.

 

*

 

 

Harry decides to go for the slow fizzle rather than the quick and searing burn. Louis invites him over every day, and Harry always finds an excuse not to go. He slowly stops walking Louis to his classes, stops coming to the music room, stops having lunch with him. He just completely stops. He still drives Louis home every day from school because it’s a nice thing to do. And he knows the day when everything is going to fester and boil over and spill out of the pot like bubbling water that’ll burn the element is coming. He’s dreading it. It just happens to be today.

 

Harry drives Louis home in silence and Louis frowns out the window the whole time. When they pull up in front of the flat, Louis gets out of the car. Harry follows. Louis stands in front of the car and stews a moment with his arms crossed in a defensive stance before looking over at Harry with piercing blue eyes. So this is what staring at pain feels like. Naked and bare and miserable.

 

“Is this some sort of slow fizzle break up? Because you’ve not been over all week, you don’t walk me to classes or eat lunch with me or stay in the music room- you don’t do anything you used to. And maybe a week is a little short for me to notice these things- but it’s so unlike you that I noticed it after not even two days. You hardly kiss me anymore. Have I done something to upset you? Just… just tell me what this means because I’m like a fish without water here.” He says simply, picking at his fingernails as he asks. Harry takes a deep breath and says the words he’s been dreading all this time.

 

“Louis, I… I can’t see you anymore.” Louis looks surprised, to say the least. He takes a full step back from Harry, eyes filling with confusion and hurt and doubt and tears but he doesn’t let them spill and he doesn’t change his face from the stone hard glare that looks like anger to hide all the pain that still seeps into his eyes.

 

“What.” Louis breathes out hard. Harry looks at his feet.

 

“I can’t see you anymore. It’s not-”

 

“Don’t give me that bullshit ‘it’s not you it’s me’ line, Harry. Don’t you fucking dare.” His voice shows traced of his impending cry. Harry nods.

 

“It’s true though. It is me, I’m the problem. I’ve been so distracted, happily distracted, that I haven’t focused on other important things outside of us. I haven’t taken the time to plan out my future, I haven’t had time for-”

 

“Football. You haven’t had time for football. That’s what this is about?” Louis sounds so fucking betrayed and wounded, he keeps taking steps back when Harry steps forward. Harry swallows.

 

“Not just that, Lou-”

 

“Don’t call me that.” He spits. Harry lets a tear slip out.

 

“Don’t Harry, don’t fucking cry like this is hurting you if you’re really doing this over a fucking sport. Over a fucking sport!” Louis shouts, growing angrier. Harry just stands there and lets out a pained noise. Louis loses it, he snaps, breaks, goes off the deep end. He begins wailing punches to Harry’s chest. They aren’t hurting him, Louis must know this, but Harry lets him take it out.

 

“You fucking asshole! You- I opened up to you! I opened up to you when I told myself a million times over I wouldn’t! That I wouldn’t get attached because good things like you don’t happen to people like me! I hate you so much! Why? Why would you do this Harry? Why?” He sobs out and Harry reaches out to hug Louis but he pulls back as if Harry burned his skin. He glares at him. Harry just stares at him, speechless.

 

“You fucking promised me Harry. You promised to be here for me. You promised that if I let you in, if I opened up to you, that you’d stay. You said you always wanted to stay. Look at you now. Where the fuck are you going to be now? You’re a coward Harry, a fucking coward.” Louis says with the most hurtful and hateful voice he can muster around crying. He begins backing away to the building, turning around about to run up to stairs to get in the main door when Harry grabs his arm and chokes out “Louis wait, please let me explain-”

 

“No. Fuck you. Go cuddle with your fucking football and don’t you dare try to talk to me again. You’ve made your choice.” Louis says icily and yanks his arm away before he’s rushing into his building and leaving Harry behind. Harry watches him go and feels as if he’s being stabbed repeatedly and gasping for air. He lets out a scream and slams his fist into the brick wall. “Fuck!” He screams as his knuckles bust open and they begin to bleed.

 

And just as he gets in his car, the skies open up and begin pouring. He’s thankful to have his roof up. He wipes his knuckles on a towel from football and puts his head to the steering wheel and sobs. Pent up emotion from all week and the constant ache in his chest leaves him dry heaving from sobbing so hard.

 

“Fuck. I’m so fucked up.” Harry cries.

 

Eventually he sees Zayn coming home from school and one look at his car and the state of Harry and Zayn knows. His face turns to one of anger to Harry and Zayn runs up the stairs; Harry knows where he’s going. Harry’s tear subside into sniffles and he feels it’s a suitable time to drive away from the damage he’s caused. He doesn’t drive home. He can’t bear it. He drives to Liam’s and when Mr. Payne answers the door to a red faced teary eyed Harry he asks what’s wrong and Harry just makes a choked noise.

 

“Um… relationship problems? And uh, stuff with my dad? It’s complicated. Can I come in?”  Liam’s dad lets him in right away. “And uh, could you do me a favour?”

 

“Sure, what is it?”

 

“Can you call my dad and tell him I’m over here, but not because I’m upset, but because I’m running drills with Liam?” Harry sniffles.

 

“Sure son, I can do that. Is there something you want to talk about Harry? I mean, about your dad?” Harry shakes his head no when he wants to say yes.

 

“Okay. But you know you can talk to me, right? After all this time, you can come to me or Karen; you’re like another son to us.” Harry nods and actually says fuck it all in his mind and hugs Liam’s dad. The hug is shaky and pitiful but it’s reassuring in a way. Harry runs upstairs after that and barely makes it into Liam’s arms before he collapses in another fit of the sobs and all he can muster is, “I fucked up”. And all Liam can say is “I know”. Of course he knows.

 

“I deserve all of this. I deserve it. I’m a pitiful excuse of a human being, calling it off like that. He was only going to leave me for New York anyway, it would’ve hurt more then, right?” He says more to himself but Liam just hushes him and lets him cry.

 

“No one deserves this Harry, especially not you. You just got dealt a shitty hand of cards, it’s up to you to shuffle the deck and get a royal flush out of it.” Harry just whimpers. Right now he wants to be flushed down the toilet to the sewage where scum like him belong. He must say that out loud because Liam hushes his again and just holds him tighter.

 

“Where is he?” Harry hears in the distance and he knows that voice. A second later Niall is in the room and crouching down to look into his eyes.

 

“Hey babe. S’okay, me and Leemo ‘ll take care of you.” Harry just nods because he’s given up on trying to keep it together today. He just lets Liam and Niall take care of him until he falls asleep and dreams of those cold blue eyes piercing his and the reminder that he’s the reason everything is fucked up and now he has to live with it.

 

*

 

It’s miserable, is what it is. He never realized just how miserable his life was until Harry came along. Of course he has a lot to do right now so his mind is clustered with plenty of other things to worry about besides the fact that his heart is being held together by a billion imaginary pieces of duct tape and they’re growing less sticky by every passing day that Harry isn’t in his life. It’s been nearly a week now, and he still feels as if it were yesterday that Harry dropped the break up bomb on his head and obliterated everything he once knew and blew it to dust.

 

He focuses on putting together a good balanced repertoire of songs that will hopefully impress the Juilliard panel. He’s trying to find a slow and soft piece to put in, and Louis hates himself for saying this, but he doesn’t want to put Clair de Lune on there because it reminds him of Harry and the love bite and the day they fooled around on his couch. And he doesn’t want to put Moonlight Sonata on there either because it’s the song that reminds him of the day they met and that’s the best and worst day of his life, currently.

 

It didn’t make sense to Louis why it hurt him so much. Harry was simply a person, how could one person have such an impact on someone? Harry wasn’t family; so why did it feel like someone in his family had died? Harry wasn’t really a friend either; this pain he felt inside hurt so much more than when he’d lost friends in the past. It hurt so much worse. It felt like a part of him had died. Like part of him was missing and it was irreplaceable. It felt like his heart had been ripped out of his chest but it was still attached to him, keeping him alive but dying slowly, shriveling into nothing but a memory of a once good heart, capable of so many things.

 

Louis tries to explain how he feels to Zayn and Zayn just nods as if he’s taken it in and understands where Louis’ coming from.

 

“That’s the thing about pain, it demands to be felt.” Zayn says and Louis sighs.

 

“John Green?” Louis guesses and Zayn pauses mid haul off his cig.

 

“Holy shit, you just got one right.” He says as if he can’t believe it and that’s when Louis realizes just how fucking low he’s gotten because he actually guessed one of Zayn’s stupid quotes right.

 

“Oh god, it’s worse than I thought.” Louis hides his face in his hands. He closes his eyes and Zayn touches his arm.

 

“Louis, have you ever thought of looking past all the anger and pain you’re feeling and find the real emotion that’s hidden within those feelings?” Louis tenses.

 

“No, because unlike you I’m not a fucking genius who knows how to pinpoint an emotion hidden within an emotion.” He huffs. Zayn sighs.

 

“I’m going to go to the loo. Maybe you should try to be a genius for once and not a piano prodigy sap. Find the root of the problem and admit it to yourself.” Louis frowns but as Zayn walks to the bathroom, Louis tries, he really does.

 

What is beneath the pain? Beneath the anger? Louis likes to imagine it’s just a big red flaming steamy pit of lava that decides to act like stomach acid or one of those science experiments that bubbles and boils until it explodes and ends with Louis having one of his lately regular break downs at night when he lays on the right side of the bed because Harry sleeps on the left side and it still smells like his laundry detergent and cologne or maybe that’s Louis’ imagination toying with him but still. Beneath that anger and pain Louis thinks could be the memories he buried of he and Harry, all the pictures Harry took and all the funny faces he’d give Louis and all the times when they’d whisper to each other like anyone in the world could hear them murmuring things about what they want for their lives or stupid things that meant nothing to everyone but something to them. He thinks it could be all the smiles Harry gave him, all the kisses pressed to the outer corners of his eyelids that he called ‘forever kisses’ and on rainy days when he missed Harry terribly he swears he can still feel the ‘forever kisses’ being pressed there. It could possibly be waking up on a Saturday morning just before the sun rises and realizing he has more time to sleep but he simply can’t because Harry is there, fast asleep soft faced and innocent with curls swept everywhere and far too mesmerizing for Louis to stop watching him when he could and probably should be sleeping. Its simple moments and simple things like this that are buried at the very bottom of the red and roaring pit of gloom Louis’ worked himself into.

 

Beneath that rage and anger and all the pain that he’s endured lately, Louis thinks Harry is there. Everything is Harry. And that when he realizes what Zayn is getting at; it’s so clear now. And Louis feels like an idiot and a genius at the same time and he’s not sure how that could be. When Zayn returns he eyes Louis curiously. Louis looks up at him with watery eyes and all he says is “I love him” before bursting into tears. Zayn smiles and nods. He holds Louis tightly and hushes him softly.

 

“I know babe, I know you do.”

 

*

 

Simply put, Harry is mulling through everything. Life goes by in a blur. It’s been a week, maybe a bit longer and he feels like everything is burning to ashes around him. He thought it would be getting easier (or at least he lies to himself in thinking it would) but it’s so much worse. Everywhere he goes there’s memories of something he and Louis did and he doesn’t dare go near that hallway anymore. It hurts to much and it’s his own fault.

 

Harry is slipping behind in English. He’s too distracted at practices and gets benched and subbed. His father isn’t happy. He doesn’t understand the reason for Harry’s sudden change. He doesn’t realize he’s the thing keeping Harry away from Louis, the one thing that made him happy. Football doesn’t make him happy like it used to. Nothing does.

 

It’s not Niall or Liam that makes him realize it. It’s not Zayn or anyone you’d expect. It’s Josh from the football team during stretches at practice. “Harry, you’ve got to get that Louis kid back, mate. You’re downright miserable. You were so heart eyes in love with him, and now there’s hardly a spark left in you.” 

 

How could Harry not have realized all along that what he was feeling wasn’t just adoration and attraction and a little too much fondness but a whole lot of love? Of course the idea had crossed his mind once or twice that maybe he could be in love with Louis but he never thought too much in detail about it because it scared the shit out of him. Harry had never loved anyone aside from his mum so who was he to know what real love was? But he knows now. He knows now what love is.

 

Love is early mornings when you’re cooking breakfast and they hug you from behind. Love is dancing around in the living room in your underwear at an ungodly hour singing at the top of your lungs until the neighbours tell you to shut up. Love is holding onto a person even if they’ve hurt you. Love is forgiving and moving forward together. It’s forgetting about yourself and the only person in the world that matters is them. It’s making a fool of yourself just to make them smile. Love is effortless and easy and confusing all at the same time. Love is Harry and Louis.

 

Harry thinks about it all night when he got home. He thinks about it at dinner when his father talked about the big game coming up. He thinks about it when he’s working out downstairs in their basement mini gym. He thinks about it in the shower and when he’s ready for bed. He’s in love with Louis. Now that he realizes this, he knows there’s only one thing that can fix him, that can bring all the shattered shards that are Harry back into one perfectly broken piece. Louis.

 

Harry is about to climb into bed when out of the corner of his eyes he sees something on his desk. He looks at it curiously and smiles for the first time in what feels like forever. It’s the brochure about the competition for photography. He picks it up and sits down at his desk, reading over it. The deadline was in a day. One day. Harry sighs. At the very back of the packet there’s a little green stick it note with simple hand writing on it. He knows who’s writing it is.

 

You left this here the other day, so I stuck it in your bag this morning. I happened to take a sneak peak and I think you should go for it! Everyone needs a back-up plan, don’t they? Xx – L

 

Harry can’t help but let a happy little choked noise come out of his mouth. The tears on his cheeks aren’t sad, but ones from good memories and happy times. Louis makes him happy. He makes him smile. Maybe just maybe Louis loved him too. He feels like this is the sign he needs. He can’t let Louis down now after he already did so many times before.

 

Harry spends the better part of an hour trying to come up with a muse. And it doesn’t hit him until it literally hits him, a picture of him and Louis messing about on Louis’ bed falls from his bulletin board and hits him in the face before floating into his lap. It’s then he knows what his muse is. He supposes he always knew, deep down. Harry spends most of his night going through the photos on his phone, putting them to his fancy computer so he can select ones he wants. The others he’ll have to develop and work on at school tomorrow, but he knows he can make this happen. He has to. Harry wakes up with a crick in his neck from sleeping at his desk but it’s worth it. There are forty two pictures edited the way he wants them, perfected. There is the essay bit stewing in his brain, ready to be written out on paper or typed out. All he has to do is develop the negatives and narrow down his choices. He can do this.

 

He skips his morning jog and his breakfast and drives to school earlier than needed to. A teacher, Mr. Harris let’s Harry into the school because he can charm the pants off of anyone, and Harry all but trips his way to the photography shop room. When he opens the door, Fitz is sipping her morning coffee and looks startled to see him. He’s huffing and puffing and panting but he’s got a wild look in his eyes and it’s the most alive she’s seen him in near two weeks.

 

“Harry.”

 

“Fitz, can I use the dark room?” He asks politely and she gives him a look.

 

“What for?” He grins.

 

“Ruins the surprise doesn’t it?” He replies back.

 

“Alright.” She nods her head and Harry escapes into the dark room.

 

“Use it for however long you’d like, if you need, I can message your other teachers and say you’re helping me with a thing for the day and to excuse you.” She says as he goes in. He pops his head out of the room and waggles his eyebrows at her in a way that tells her a) yes please and b) thank you so much you, life safer you. He spends most of the day editing pictures until they’re just right, adding effects by hand had never been easy but Harry had come to love it. For some reason, Harry is in better spirits and feels like maybe things were only falling because he was on the ground looking up and now he’s back on his feet.

 

When Harry’s finally finished, he’s so pleased that he cries. They’re all so beautiful he simply can’t narrow them down without help. He brings all one hundred and sixty seven photos out of the dark room once they’re dry and glossy and perfect and he lays them out on all of the desks in the classroom. Fitz looks up from her marking with a curious look.

 

“I have one hundred and sixty seven.” He tells her and blushes. She smiles and stands and brings her coffee with her. She wanders around the classroom with a smile on her face and when she looks up at the end she’s in tears.

 

“This isn’t all of them, is it?” She asks and Harry shakes his head.

 

“There were four hundred on my computer but I narrowed it down. Another hundred in negatives.” She nods.

 

“They’re all so, so beautiful, Harry.” She begins plucking out singular ones and setting them aside. The limit of photo submissions in one participant’s entry is twenty five, and Fitz has chosen twenty four. Harry has agreed with every selection. She’s debating between a few. She sets her coffee mug down on a desk and begins looking at two up close. When she picks the cup back up a photo is stuck to it. She gasps.

 

“Oh!” She says in surprise, when she pulls the picture away, Harry knows, that’s the one. The one with the singular ring of coffee on it, the perfect effect.

 

“I’ve got my twenty five.” He says in a breathless manor. She smiles at him and touches his cheek.

 

“You’re doing this for him, aren’t you?” she says softly, and Harry looks at his feet.

 

“I’m doing it for him because he wants me to do it for me. I want to do it for me.” He admits. She completely understands.

 

“How long is the written component?” She says and he sighs.

 

“Feels like a novel in my head. Can I borrow your laptop?” He asks and she nods. He opens a new word document and begins to write. He writes and writes and cries a few times and laughs because within the writing is little memories for him and an imagination for the reader. And it’s perfect when it’s done.

 

“I’m so proud of you Harry.” She says when he hands her all his components. The rest is in her hands.”

 

“Just tell me when the contest is over, yeah?” He says, scooping up the rest of his prints. Fitz lifts her giant coffee mug.

 

“Of course. Now go get him.” She says in the most encouraging tone. He plans to.

 

Getting to his car is the easy part. Finding Louis isn’t. Louis always waits until everyone has left before he begins his walk home, he and his wallflower like ways. Harry waits until Louis comes out of the school and begins his journey home. He starts to follow behind at a decent distance until they’re nearing his house and he speeds up, matching pace with Louis’ walking.

 

“Louis!” He calls the name and Louis turns and begins walking faster. Harry speeds up.

 

“Please Louis, please just listen-” Louis starts walking even faster. Harry, frustrated, parks the car safely and begins walking behind Louis. Louis starts running. Harry runs after him and catches him quick around the waist, spinning him. Louis makes noises of irritation and anger.

 

“Get the fuck off me Harry! What part of don’t talk to me don’t you understand?” he screams at Harry. Harry doesn’t cry. He doesn’t.

 

“I’ve missed you. More than I thought I could ever miss someone. And I know why. And I want to talk to you, and apologize, and say all the words I’ve been thinking and more since I fucked up. And all I’m asking for is a little bit of your time, that’s it. To hear me out, to listen to what I have to say, and if you want to run away after, I won’t stop you. But please let me explain. Please.” He gets out and Louis begins walking away and for a moment Harry’s sure he’s lost him.

 

“I love you!” He shouts to him and Louis freezes. He spins around and looks like he might collapse at any moment. A ticking time bomb.

 

“What.” Louis says more than questions.

 

“You heard me. I love you. I love you more than you could ever possibly know and it took me some time to realize just how much my feelings were for you, but I know now and if I never get to have you again I at least want you to know that… I love you.” Harry pants out and Louis’ eyes fill up. He steps closer to Harry with every word.

 

“You are the biggest twat I’ve ever met. You broke me, absolutely shattered me. I opened up to you and trusted you and you fucked that. You blew that to the wind. You obliterated that.” Louis says and Harry listened. Louis deserves to scream at him.

 

“You’re not the jockstrap people think you are. You’re kind, caring most times, you have a big heart and a smart brain, even if you forget to use it sometimes, and I hate how much I fucking love these things about you. Despite everything you’ve cocked up lately, and despite my head telling me not to for a good reason; I am completely and stupidly in love with you Harry Styles-” Harry doesn’t need to hear anymore. For the first time in forever Harry cups Louis’ cheeks and kisses him. Louis doesn’t hesitate to kiss him back. They stay there like this for a good five minutes of kissing and crying like saps.

 

“Can you let me explain why… why I did this to us?” he says softly against Louis’ lips.

 

“C’mon, let’s go to the flat for tea. We’ll talk there.” Louis says and Harry obediently follows and Harry thinks he may have did it. He may just get his Louis back.

 

*

 

 

After explaining to Louis everything, and after a good long cry, and a good long kissing session to make up for lost time, Harry tells Louis he has to go home to face the wrath of his father and Louis walks him to his car and kisses him breathless, and then watches him drive away, but this time it’s with a smile on his face with the knowledge that he’ll be coming back.

 

When Harry arrives home his father is sat at the kitchen table in a suit. His reading glasses are on the bridge of his nose, and his jaw is tense. He’s pissed.

 

“Where were you?” His father asks.

 

“Out.” Harry replies simply. He’s about to run to his room, but he’d rather take the confrontation now than later.

 

“And I specifically told you to be home after school every day unless there was a football practice. And was there a practice today Harry?” He’s speaking in that condescending tone that Harry hates again.

 

“No, there wasn’t.” His father nods. He stands from the table and crosses the room to stand near Harry.

 

“Right. So do tell me then where you were?”

 

“Out.” He says again and his father grips his shirt in his fist, locking his dark menacing eyes with Harry’s frigid ones.

 

“I’ll ask again, where were you?” His fingers dig into Harry’s shoulder. Harry swallows and grimaces.

 

“I was at Louis’.” His father sees red.

 

“Louis. The boy I specifically said not to see, correct?” Harry clenches his jaw.

 

“Yes.” His father drags him into the living room by the shoulder and faces him again.

 

“And what were you doing there?”

 

“I asked him to take me back. And he said yes.” Harry replies honestly. His father’s face is bright pink with anger.

 

“You don’t listen very well, do you?” His father gives him a look and swings. Harry recognizes this now; he ducks the punch and catches his father’s wrist, twisting it harshly. His father gasps in pain and Harry holds pressure on his wrist. One slight move and his hand will be hanging from his arm limply with a broken wrist.

 

“You made me the unhappiest person in the world by telling me to not see him. And being the idiot I am I listened to you. But in doing so my English grade dropped. I was getting benched at practices because I couldn’t think straight because I knew I didn’t have him. So we’re doing this my way now. I choose my own damn curfew, if I want to stay over at his house, I will. I get to see him because he makes me happy, I love him, something you’re incapable of. I will focus on bringing my English grade back up and work harder to be the quarter back that I am. And you will do what you always do, use me to brag to all your little friends about the son of the year. But you will not tell me who I will and will not see and you will not treat me like a slave, nor my mother for that matter, because I am seventeen, and she’s a grown fucking adult, and you’re a pathetic excuse for a father most of the time. I’m glad we had this chat.” Harry says and releases his father’s wrist. His father steps back and clutches the wrist tightly; he glares at Harry but says nothing about what just happened. He collects his papers and goes into his office with a slam. Harry feels very proud of himself and he sees his mum standing in the kitchen doorway. She runs to him and tells him how proud she is.


“We’ve got to get out of here.” He whispers and Anne nods.

 

“Don’t worry, darling. I’m working on it.” She breathes back and hearing that makes the room ten times lighter. Harry is on cloud nine.

 

“Can I tell you something?” Harry says softly.

 

“Anything.” She replies with a smile and excitement. Harry goes on to tell her about the photography competition and how it’s a long shot but he thinks he has a chance and all about Louis too. After a long few weeks of feeling down and glum, Harry has never felt so damn good.

 

*

 

 

Things go surprisingly well. With just a week away from the football finals and a bit longer for the Juilliard audition, Harry is actually the sane one. Louis is the one who is flipping shit.

 

“Harry just let me practice.” He whines when Harry tries to pull him from the music room of the flat. Harry frowns.

 

“You can hardly move your hands. You’ve been playing for almost four hours going. You can’t overwork yourself, or your hands might seize up mid audition. C’mon, let’s take a break, yeah?” Louis panics. His eyes race between Harry and the piano. Harry is right; he can barely bend his fingers. Harry kisses his neck and draws him near and Louis sighs, letting himself be manhandled into the bedroom.

 

“C’mon, naked cuddles.” Harry says and Louis lets Harry undress him.

 

Harry follows suit and Louis huffs as he lies back on the bed. Harry reaches in the side drawer for the hand cream Louis keeps there, and nearly blushes at the sight of lube and condoms. He simply sets the cream out on the bed beside them to give Louis hand rubs to ease the cramping but when he looks over at Louis, Louis’ half hard with a hand around his cock and well, that’s one way of relaxing.

 

“Oh. D’you want me to suck you off?” Harry offers. He’s learned that that is one of Louis’ biggest turn ons. But Louis shakes his head. He’s got a mischievous look on his face.

 

“You want me to relax, make me relax.” He taunts and Harry doesn’t get it until- oh. He does.

 

“Is that an invitation to-” he flounders. Louis laughs.

 

“I didn’t purchase new lube and condoms for nothing Harry. Want you to take me apart, make me relax.” He says dreamily and Harry nearly dies.

 

“Holy shit. Um, okay. Turn over.” Harry says and Louis removes his hand from his cock and flips over. He’s on his knees but his head is resting on the pillows comfortably.

 

“Did you have this planned the whole time or something?” Harry says grabbing the lube and a condom out for safe keeping. He’s got a little something he wants to do first.

 

“No, but it’s a golden opportunity, why waste it?” Louis says thoughtfully and Harry laughs. When he’s behind Louis, Louis’ pink hole is on display and Harry’s eyes roll back in his head. He spreads Louis’ cheeks and takes a cautious lick to see Louis’ reaction. Louis squeaks and wiggles his bum back.

 

“Fuck- fuck Harry- please.” And who is Harry to object to a plea?

 

He slowly gives flat tongued licks until Louis is shaking and whimpering and beautiful, and then he prods in. Louis lets out glorious noises. Harry pulls away when his chin is covered in spit and he’s satisfied. He spreads lube on his fingers, and touches Louis’ hip to warn him. His index finger slips in slowly, Louis is so tight, it’s been a while. Louis makes pathetic little whimpers.

 

“God, your fingers are so long.” He moans and presses back. Harry takes that as the go ahead to move it. In slow circles he twists his finger, with slow steady slides he presses in to Louis. He adds more lube to be cautious before slipping a second finger in and scissoring. Louis cries out into the pillow.

 

“Fuck Harry please-“ He whines and Harry kisses his hips to shush him.

 

“More?” And Louis just presses back until Harry’s fingers are taken completely.

 

“One.” Louis grunts. He trembles and Harry listens. The third slides in easy and Harry sets a pace while trying to curl his fingers, and then he feels it, and obviously Louis feels it if the that he’s howling into the pillow and Harry thinks he may be crying?

 

“Y’alright Lou?” He asks softly with a smile. He knows this feeling.

 

“Please, please Haz pl- yes.” He hiccups as Harry hits his prostate on almost every thrust of his fingers.

 

“Stop, close, do wanna, please.” Louis gurgles out in a shaky breath and Harry withdraws his fingers and rolls on the condom. He adds more lube because you can never have too much, and then he’s lined himself up. He leans over the long expanse of Louis’ back so that his face is in the crook of his neck, slowly he presses in and Louis chokes out a noise. He goes slowly, and when he’s fully inside he’s shaking because fuck- Louis is so tight and he’s coming undone beneath Harry and it’s all so perfect and Louis finally breathes.

 

“Fuck me Haz.” Louis mumbles and Harry pulls almost completely out before he’s pressing back in and bottoming out. They set a rhythm just between fast and normal grinding thrusts because Harry is deep in Louis and just simple circular grinding against Louis is enough to have him crying again. Louis is crying and moaning Harry’s name along with fuck’s and oh god’s and Harry just gives him what he wants because this is about Louis right now.

 

“Fuck, I’m so close.” Louis breathes out and Harry reaches around to help him out but Louis bats his hand away.

 

“Make me come untouched. Know you can, fuck me so good Harry, fuck- right there-” he gasps and shudders and Harry can feel it ripple all the way through his body. Louis clenches around Harry so tightly he can hardly move, can hardly breathe but with a tiny thrust he spills into the condom and they both collapse in a heap of sweaty sticky bodies. Louis is breathing heavy and looking at Harry like he’s the sun and Harry is grinning like an idiot and he’s so besotted with this boy, he makes sure to tell him that.

 

“You know, I wouldn’t object to you fucking me next time. I quite like a switch.” Louis’ eyes light up in a mischievous way. Holy fuck Louis is going to be the death of him.

 

“Promises, promises, Styles.”

 

Holy fuck Louis is going to be the death of him.

 

 

*

 

 

Louis finds out Thursday evening that his Juilliard audition has been bumped up from Monday, to Friday. He’s terrified, and he can’t even tell Harry that the dates been moved up, because Harry has enough on his plate. Friday is also the finals game. It’s the game that could make or break Harry’s career in football. And the worst part is, Louis promised he’d be there to support Harry, and now he may not even be able to do that.

 

As Louis sits in the hallway waiting for the panel of Juilliard he flips through his phone. The pictures are all of him and Harry and they make him less nervous about the whole thing. He tugs his cardigan again even though it was fine the first time he fixed it. His palms are sweaty and his stomach feels sick. He is so nervous but the pictures are helping. He smiles nervously at his screen biting on his thumb nail. Harry is his anchor to keep him calm. This is happening, and he can do it, and Harry loves him, and everything is great.

 

“Louis?”

 

“Everything is great!” he says quickly. He looks up and earns a worried look from Mr. Griffith.

 

“You sure?”

 

“No I’m fucking losing it.” He mutters but Griffith just smiles.

 

“Well they’re ready for you now. So deep breathe, chin up, flex those fingers and impress the pants off of everyone that room. Just remember that Harry is thinking about you, he loves you. Imagine you’re playing for him in the piano room. Just you two alone. Happy thoughts. Okay?” And suddenly Louis’ not nervous because he knows Harry told Griffith to say that to him on audition day. He’s thinking of Harry and everything is going to be great.

 

“Okay. Let’s go.” He nods and steps inside the room. The choir room isn’t much different. A baby grand piano the school only breaks out for musicals is placed in the center of the room, and where a cluster of chairs for class would be, two tables lined with seven people are sat. Four women, three men. He smiles at him and waist for them to speak.

 

“Hello.” A woman says with a smile.

 

“Hi.” He says back excitedly.

 

“How’re you today Louis?” She asks.

 

“I’m great, actually.” He means that.

 

The thoughts of Harry are there and he’s not nervous. The chat between he and the panel is short, they cover the basics of what they’re looking for, what Louis seeks out of becoming a part of the Juilliard ‘team’, not student list. They tell Louis to place a piece of his choice first and then they will choose two songs from his given repertoire. It seems simple enough until he’s sat at the bench of the piano like a deer in the headlights. He doesn’t want to forget every song on that list.

 

“Think of Harry.” He reminds himself quietly. He closes his eyes behind his black frames and breathes out a solid breathe. He places his fingers, imagines himself in the piano room like any other school day and begins to play Harry’s favourite, Clair de Lune.

 

Every note rings clear and crisp and beautifully, his timing is spot on, his emotions aren’t forced and his hands are graceful. He’s like a ballerina on the piano. When he opens his eyes the piece is over and the panel is smiling at him and some are writing.

 

“We’d like you to play Moonlight Sonata next.” And Louis thinks of the day that Harry found him. He says Harry ‘found him’ because ever since he met Harry, he realized that it was fate for them to find each other. It was fate that Louis moved here to go to school. It was fate that two years ago they went to the same concert. It was fate for Harry to find him. So he thinks of that day and focuses on playing it exactly like that day. To hear the last note ring out makes him grin. He looks up and sees Griffith standing at the back of the room with a grin on his face as well. He looks at the panel. All writing on their papers.

 

“Nocturne in E-flat Major, please.” (x) A man speaks and Louis nods. This was one Harry hadn’t heard, or maybe once he had, but Louis just focuses on his hands and makes sure that every note came through in the piece. When finished, he thinks that’s the end of the audition. He was told that when the audition was done, he was to stand up and wait to be dismissed, so he does that. His hands aren’t shaking and he’s not nervous at all. He hopes he’s left a good impression to the panel.

 

“Louis, there is a song on here entitled ‘Ocean’s Breeze’, but it doesn’t have a composers name to it…” Louis’ face goes pale at the woman’s question.

 

“Oh, yes. There is. That’s um. That’s something that I’ve written? I just… I didn’t know if I was supposed to place my name where a composers name would normally because… because I don’t see myself as a true composer yet. I see myself as someone on his way to being one, someday. I want to learn from the best on what it means to be a true composer, and only once I’ve learned everything I should need to know, perhaps then I would place my name there, and consider myself a composer.” Louis explains. He twiddles and twists his hands together behind his back to hide the sudden nerves of this question. He’s unsure of what the panelists’ faces are portraying.

 

“And is there a story to it? To the piece you’ve written?” Louis smiles.

 

“Yes, yes there is. It’s a very special, very personal story that inspired the writing behind the piece.” Louis admits but doesn’t let on to what the real story is and the panel accepts that.

 

“Will you play it for us?” The woman he first spoke to asks. Louis straightens his back and takes a breath.

 

“Oh, yes! Of course I can.” He says and he turns back to the piano and takes a seat at the bench. He readies his fingers and his eyes look to the panel.


“Whenever you’re ready.” She smiles at him. He nods. He takes a deep breath, runs his fingers against the keys without actually pressing them, and then begins to play his own piece.

 

(x)

 

Louis wasn’t lying when he said that the piece told a story. To him it told the story of Harry and Louis. Two boys in love who didn’t know it, who were placed in a serious situation that ended in heart ache and anger, but in the end faded back into the happiness of the beginning. Louis’ fingers play the melodies of the beginning and smiles. He’s reminded of rainy weekend days of laying on the couch of his flat in nothing but a tee shirt watching classic love movies. Or watching Looney Tunes from his kitchen island while eating breakfast. He’s reminded of the walks in the nearby park, walking by the water hand in hand with nothing but the path to guide them and the trees wind and the waters soft noises and the nature to accompany them. He’s reminded of happy smiles, soft touches and warm embraces. He’s reminded of home.

 

In the middle, the piece grows intense. It’s fast and sudden and his fingers flow along the keys, descending into the deeper darker notes that represent the splitting of Harry and Louis. It’s nights he lied awake in bed sobbing because the bed smelled of Harry and his heart hurt. It’s times when he’s pass a photo on his phone and he’d be unhappy that it wasn’t like that anymore. It’s times where he felt so alone he was willing to call Harry and beg him to come back. it was all the times when Harry wasn’t there and Louis needed him. Louis had written the piece in the dark times. In the times of the middle of the piece. When Harry wasn’t there. And he wasn’t sure how to end it, he got writer’s block. He couldn’t figure out how to end it because he wasn’t sure how Harry and Louis were going to end. He wasn’t sure if one day they would reunite, rekindle and resume being happy like in the beginning. So he left the piece unfinished. He wasn’t sure it would ever be officially done. Louis finished the piece a day after they talked, after the storm had past and the sun had shined its rays once more and he felt happy.

 

The music slowly transitions back to the same melody as the beginning. Happy. And at the very end the melody changes to one that makes Louis think that no matter what comes their way, it’ll always fade back to the happy. Because it’s all he can hope for, it’s all he wants. And that’s truly the end of the story, the end of the piece. When Louis finishes he touches his cheeks. They’re wet. He’s been crying. It was the first time since fully completing the piece that he’d played it. When he looks at the panel, they’re all silent. Had he done something wrong? He spots Griffith, who looks stunned. Louis’ stomach twists. The one panelist cracks a smile and Louis thinks maybe he hasn’t done anything. He smiles and sniffles and wipes his cheeks and stands before the panel.

 

“I’d like to thank you for the opportunity.” He says softly.

 

“Thank you Louis.” Louis takes that as his dismissal. He turns and walks out of the door and just like that the audition is over, a weight is off his chest, and he feels confident.

 

“Holy shit.” He breathes. Griffith exits the room a minute later with a smile on his face.

 

“They’ll send out admissions forms in a week or two, to get everyone prepared. I think you’ve got a really good chance Louis.” He says with a hand on his shoulder. Louis beams proudly.

 

“Now go to your boy.” He breathes out and Louis gasps. The game!

 

“It’s only half an hour in. GO.” Griffith tells him and Louis runs as fast as he can to the field.

 

 

Harry is putting everything into this game. They’re ahead of their opponent, and he’s feeling particularly good. But he’s also worried. Louis hasn’t turned up. Harry has scanned the crowd numerous times, he’s spotted his mum and his dad and his dad’s friend Glenn but Louis isn’t there. He promised he would be. What if something happened to him? What if he’s hurt? Or sick? Harry should be there. He wants to call time to just call and see where he is but he’d be told it was stupid and it wouldn’t be allowed. He tries to keep his worrying at a minimum. Louis is okay. He is.

 

“Quarterback Harry Styles is making a run for it, he’s dodging beautifully! He’s almost there! Touchdown!” he announcer shouts and Harry throws the ball down and holds his arms up in the air in excitement. They set up for another play, and Harry scans the audience for Louis again.

 

“What’s the matter, fag? Your boyfriend a no show?” One of the other teams players catcalls to him.

 

“Probably fucking another bloke behind his back!” Another calls. Harry grits his teeth.

 

“Maybe he’s being fucked by another bloke!”

 

“Shut up ass hat! Play the fucking game!” Niall shouts and Harry lets out a huff of air. He doesn’t let it get to him. He doesn’t. Harry manages to get another touch down before they’re regrouping and setting up new plays.

 

“Styles, are you even listening?” The coach yells and Harry startles.

 

“Yeah coach.” He repeats the plays and the coach nods.

 

“Keep your eye on the ball Styles, the scouts are watching.” Harry’s mind tingles with the thought of that.

 

“Way to add the pressure.” He retorts sarcastically. They return to the field after that.

 

Louis is just running up to the sidelines now, he’s panting and clutching his chest because he doesn’t normally run like that. He’s holding onto the stands and watches he spots his boy getting tackled and popping right back up and he’s grinning.

 

“Go Harry!” He shouts though he doubts he can hear him. He watches for a few minutes, catching on to some of what Harry’s tried to explain, but really all he’s doing is watching Harry be fantastic.

 

Harry is running down the field at maximum speed when from the corner of his eye, he sees it. One of the catcallers is speeding up and gaining on him.

 

“I’m coming for you Styles!” He shouts and Harry laughs.

 

He’s almost there, almost to the touchdown zone, when it happens. From his blind spot, he’s tackled. Or rather, he’s pulled down to the ground and crushed by someone. He lands wrong, in a twisted movement and he hears it, before he feels it. The slick pop of something. He doesn’t realize it’s him until the weight on him makes it hard to breathe, he tries to move and he fucking wails in pain.

 

“Oh man, I heard that. Faggot, deserve it.” The person above him, the original catcaller, laughs at him and gets off him.

 

Harry is blinded by the pain shooting from his knee. He rolls to his back and clutches his leg for dear life and he’s sobbing. He’s had many injuries in his life, but usually it’s a broken rib or something he can mull through. This is so much worse. So, so much worse. He opens his eyes and looks down and nearly vomits at the sight. He knee is supposed to be facing forward. That’s what a normal knee looks like. But Harry’s is jutting out to the right side. He can’t move his leg, it’s excruciating pain. His knee is fucked.

 

Louis watches from the sidelines as Harry gets tackled. He hears Harry scream. Oh god.

 

“C’mon baby, please get up. Please, please just say it’s just reaction to scream like that.” He mutters to himself. But Harry doesn’t get up. He rolls to his back and clutches his leg and Louis knows it’s serious. He takes off running.

 

Surprisingly, Louis is the first one to make it to Harry, even from as far a distance as he ran. The other football players of his team swarm and call for medics and Louis collapses beside Harry and Niall pulls his helmet off carefuly. Harry’s sobbing and heaving and his eyes are frantic when they meet Louis’.

 

“Louis.” He says softly. Louis starts to cry and Harry cups his cheek.

 

“Hi baby. I made it.” Louis whimpers. Harry, despite his pain and his crying, smiles. But obviously someone moves him or something happens, because Harry screams bloody murder and sobs into Louis’ stomach. Medics come forward and begin to push everyone back.

 

“Son, you’ve gotta-”

 

“No, please let him stay.” Harry groans and clutches his leg and Louis at the same time. The medics don’t bother to move him. They converse as they look at Harry’s leg and simply touch it, pulling another howl from Harry. Louis takes one look at Harry’s knee before he looks right back at Harry’s face.

 

“We can’t set this here. I think there’s a possible fracture-” he moves Harry’s leg just a bit and Harry whimpers into Louis’ tummy.

 

“Sh, it’s going to be okay.” Harry goes limp in Louis’ arms. Louis looks down and Harry is unconscious. Fuck.

 

“He’s passed out!” Louis says rapidly. The medics take notice.

 

“We’ll need to move quickly. Is the transport here yet?” A medic calls.

 

“Ambulance is pulling up now.”

 

“You riding with him?” The medic asks and Louis lets out a breath.

 

“Um, yes, please.” He says quietly. He lets the medics roll Harry onto a stretcher and follows along as they begin to carry him off the field. They’re in the back of an ambulance and on their way to the hospital when Harry comes too. He immediately begins to cry again.

 

“Oh god. Make it stop. Please.” He begs and clutches Louis’ hand tightly. The medic prepares a syringe and taps it. He looks at Harry.

 

“It’s morphine, to help with the pain.” He says and injects it into Harry’s arm. Louis knows it usually goes in an IV, but they can’t exactly put an IV in Harry’s arm while in a moving vehicle and it’s the quickest way to administer it to tolerate the pain. Harry feels it immediately, his head lolling to one side, his breathing evening out and his eyes growing droopy.

 

“He wont go right out, but he’ll be drowsy. It wasn’t a big enough dose.” The medic tells Louis but it sounds like gibberish. When they arrive at the hospital Harry is rushed into A&E and Louis is told to sit in the waiting room. He doesn’t protest, but Harry does.

 

“It’s going to be okay H,  just let them fix your leg and then you’ll see me. Promise. I love you.” He kisses Harry’s forehead and then he’s being wheeled away. Louis cries into his hands in the waiting room.

 

“Where’s my son?” Someone shouts and Louis looks up to see a man in a suit and a woman with a face full of worry. Louis immediately knows these are Harry’s parents.

 

“Mrs. Styles?” Louis says quietly. The woman looks his way with wide eyes. She points.

 

“You’re Louis.” She says softly back. He nods. She immediately pulls him in and hugs him. He’s surprised to say the least.

 

“Thank you.” She breathes.

 

“For?” He asks in reply.

 

“For making my baby happy, for once.” She whispers back and he feels overwhelmed.

 

“I love him.” He tells her. She makes a choked noise.

 

“I’m so glad. He loves you too.” She answers.

 

“Who the hell are you?” The man’s voice booms. Harry’s father. Louis swallows and pulls away from the hug.

 

“I am Louis.” He says back surprisingly confident. Harry’s father sees red. He points a finger at Louis and crowds him against a wall.

 

“You! You’re the reason my boy is fucked up! It’s bumfuckers like you who ruin people! You waltzed into his life, made him unfocused, cloudy with mushy thoughts, lazy, queerer than he already was!  Harry is too good for people like you. He’s meant to go places in football. Meant to be with a girl. Not you. He doesn’t need you. Look what you’ve done.” He spits and Louis is stunned. For Harry’s sake he doesn’t say anything in return, just stares wide eyed at the man who just completely stripped him bare and beat the shit out of him without laying a hand on him. He swallows and turns his head to where a doctor his standing.

 

“Are you with Harry Styles?” the doctor asks quietly.

 

“Yes.” Anne says simply.

 

“Harry has suffered severe trauma. His kneecap has been dislocated, and it is what we call shattered. In the simplest of terms it’s been broken so severely that it’s in two pieces, as you see here…” He holds up an x ray and Louis feels sick all over. They can see Harry’s knee cap in indeed two pieces, a larger one and the smaller part that is separated from the larger section. Harry’s father curses.

 

“Harry will need to have surgery to fix it.” Louis sits in the chair nearest him and looks at the doctor with wide eyes. His mother covers her mouth, fearful. His father, the fucking tool that he is, is red faced and menacing.

 

“How long before he plays again?” The doctor knits his eyebrows.

 

“His kneecap is shattered- it won’t be many months before he’s walking properly, let alone playing. Depending on how badly the dislocation is, Harry may not return to football.” The doctor says simply and fuck, he’s done it now. Harry’s father screams, he screams and kicks the chairs and the nearest cart containing masks and gloves and hand sanitizer among other things. The doctor calls security to escort Mr. Styles out of the room. Louis and Anne meet eyes.

 

“Can we see him? Before surgery, I mean.” Anne asks.

 

“Of course. He’s been asking for Louis? I believe that would be you?” The doctor gives a small smile to Louis. Louis laughs, of all things.

 

“Of course he would. The bloody idiot has a shattered knee and he asks for me. I’m in love with an idiot.” Louis says with a smiles and a laugh. Anne grins.

 

“I’ll just go get some water for us? I do hope you’ll stay until he’s out?” Anne says curiously.

 

“I wouldn’t be anywhere else, Mrs. Styles.”

 

“Please, do call me Anne. You go see him, I’ll be right in.” She waves. Louis follows the doctor and enters Harry’s makeshift room quickly.

 

“Louis.” Harry says softly. Louis pulls Harry into a hug (as best as he can manage) and he doesn’t look at Harry’s gnarly knee in the splint on the bed waiting for surgery.

 

“You came.” Harry breathes out. Louis chokes out a noise.

 

“Of course I did.” He says back.

 

“I didn’t see you in the beginning. I thought you’d skipped out on me… like the first time.” And oh, it seemed so long ago and not just months that Harry and Louis met and Harry invited Louis to the game and to ice cream and Louis said maybe but never showed up.

 

“I would never, H. They rescheduled my audition to half an hour before the game started. I couldn’t miss that, but I came straight to the field after.” He runs a hand through Harry’s curls.

 

“Did you do good?” Harry asks excitedly, despite his current predicament. Louis laughs.

 

“Yeah, I think I did well. Thought of you the whole time.” Harry smiles at that. He nods to the IV pole beside him.

 

“Some good juice they’re givin’ me, eh?” He wiggles his eyebrows and Louis really laughs.

 

“You know you’ve got the have surgery, right?” Harry nods.

 

“They had to cut my gear off. Managed to save the jersey though. I bet dad’s right mad.” His eyes widen.

 

“Oh god, you didn’t meet him did you?” Louis looks away from Harry.

 

“He had a wide selection of words for me.” Harry shook his head.

 

“Don’t listen to them.” Harry says. Louis kisses his forehead. They startle when they hear yelling.

 

“Oh, um. I’ll be here when you wake up, okay?” He says softly. Harry nods.

 

“Love you, H.” he kisses Harry’s forehead and goes out of the curtained room. Harry turns his face and cries into the pillow.

 

“Man up.” Are the words he hears.

 

“Fuck you. Just fuck off.” Harry bites out and opens his eyes to his father.

 

“Don’t talk to me like that. You fucked up, Harry. I am so disappointed in you.”

 

“You’re always disappointed, what’s new.” He spits. His father nods.

 

“You’re right, I’ve got a faggot son with no future. I am disappointed. I’ll see you when you get home.” He says and storms out. Harry knows he shouldn’t, but he takes what his dad says to heart. He turns his face and cries into the pillow.

 

Game over.

 

*

 

 

A six hour operation and a week in hospital later, Harry is on crutches, in a sturdy knee brace from thigh to calve, and home, finally. His mother dotes on him. He returns to school just a week after getting home. Everyone sends him sympathetic looks, they stare at him in the worst way, and Niall is three seconds from knocking everyone’s lights out.

 

Louis is distant. He’s there to help with school, with getting around and with driving (because apparently unknown to Harry, Louis has his licence) to and from, but he’s not completely with Harry. Like he’s trying to space himself from Harry. And Harry won’t have any of that.

 

“Where are you?” Harry asks Louis. They’re in Harry’s living room working on their homework (English and Maths, fun). Louis looks up at him and looks around.

 

“In your house?” He says softly.

 

“No, I mean in here. Where are you?” Harry taps Louis’ head. “You’ve barely been… you all week. I feel like you're pulling away.” He admits. Louis pales.

 

“I…” He looks at his hands. Harry’s stomach twists.

 

“So you are. Is it me? Is it my leg? Or because-”

 

“No. No it’s me this time, not you.” Louis says softly. Harry frowns.

 

“Don’t give me that, you told me not to. So you don't give me that either.” Louis nods.

 

“But it isn’t you.” He says and Harry frowns.

 

“Then what is it? Is it- oh-  don’t tell me it’s because of what my father said… it isn’t that is it?” Harry says in a worried tone. Louis looks away.

 

“What… what did he say that would make you pull away from me?” Harry asks, growing proper angry. Not at Louis, but at his father.

 

“He just… he said I’m the reason you’re… ‘fucked up’. Bumfuckers like me ruin people. I know that’s not true, I do… but he said I made you unfocused. I… made you queerer than you already were. That you were too good for people like me. That you were meant to be with a girl. Not me. And that you don’t need me. He’s not wrong about one thing though, you’re too good for me. You deserve more. You-”

 

“Stop.” Harry says. He leans over and pulls Louis in and kisses him. “Stop that.” He whispers.

 

“He’s wrong, completely wrong. I love you, and it’s not going to change and everything he said is wrong. Don’t, please don’t listen. Please don’t pull away from me. I do need you. I need you more than anything. And that’s the truth.” He says softly and Louis whimpers.

 

“You know that, right?” Louis nods. He knows now.

 

“I love you, H.” Louis helps Harry stand up. He hugs him tightly and Harry hugs back just as tightly. The door slams open and his father storms up the stairs. He freezes when he sees Louis.

 

“What the fuck? What’s this fag doing here?” Harry’s grip tightens on Louis when he flinches. He pushes Louis behind him. Louis tries to stop him but Harry is already moving his way over to his father with fire in his eyes.

 

“You are fucking unbelievable. Take it out on me all you want but don’t you ever fucking take it out on him. Take it out on me that you’re mad that you’ve lost your star player, that I’m a fucking bisexual, that I’m the son that disappoints you. But don’t take it out on Louis.” He shouts. His father stiffens.

 

“I haven’t lost my star player, when your knee is heals you’ll do therapy and you’ll attend university on a football scholarship, just as we planned. You’re going to get better, son.” He pats Harry’s shoulder but Harry swats his hand away.

 

“Suppose now is a good time as any to tell you. We had a revisit with the doctor today. Says I am going to make a full recovery, as long as I stop sports. If I continue them, the surgery will be for nothing and I will be on crutches, a cane or a wheelchair the rest of my life. So football is over.” His fathers eyes widen.

 

“No, no you’re going to play again. You’re going to play!” He screams. He kicks the one wall unit near him and curses as his foot aches. Harry actually smirks.

 

“I’m not.” His father screams. Harry hobbles back before his father takes a swing.

 

“You’re never going to amount to anything, Harry. Football is your chance at being something. What do you have now, if you’re throwing it away?” He spits.

 

“Love. I have love from Louis, and my mum, and my friends who care about me, who support me and love me through anything. And photography, I have photography.” Harry retorts, his father’s eye twitches. “I’ve applied to colleges and universities, but it won’t be for football. They are places where Louis might attend, and some that I chose aside from the others. And if they don’t work out, I'll defer a year and figure it out.” Harry tells his father.

 

“Why would you apply to schools where that fag is going? Why apply at all? Football is your dream!”

 

“No! It’s your fucking dream! I may’ve loved football but it was never going to be something I wanted to do my whole life. It wasn’t my fucking dream to chase, it was yours! You forced it on me and because I’m a fucking good person I didn’t have the heart to tell you to stop pushing me. I let you push me to the breaking point. I’m done chasing your dream. Football is out. I’m done. I may not know where my life is headed. I could be some stupid bus boy working in a coffee shop, or in a bakery, or wherever! My life is changing every day now. But the one thing that is constant in my life is Louis, and it’s not about to change so you need to get past your ego, past your ideas of me being your football playing son and realize that.”  Harry’s father is speechless. He turns and storms out of the house and slams the door shut behind him. Harry finally lets his guard down and trembles. Louis is right by his side now.

 

“So brave, my brave boy. Sh, it’s okay to cry. You were so brave.” Louis coos to him and Harry whimpers but he feels so good right now. Anne, who had been listening in the whole time hugs both of them and tells Harry how proud she is.

 

“Guess what.” Anne says into his ear.

 

“What?” He says in a heavy voice.

 

“I got the divorce papers today. Filled them out, and gave them to him this morning. He signed them. He actually signed them without a fight. And then I proceeded to dangle the pre-nub in his face, which is signed by him from so many years ago saying that I am entitled to the house, and a long list of other things. He forgot about that pre-nub, but I didn’t. We’re free, once it’s legalized, we’re free.” She breathes out happily. Harry cries harder. He holds them both tighter.

 

For the first time in all his life, Harry is free. And it feels so good.

 

*

 

Harry whines into the pillow. He’s so tired of this knee brace immobilizing his movement. The thing is itchy and he’s not allowed to remove it. It’s terrible.

 

“Lou,” He whines. Louis comes into the bedroom with a look of  curiosity on his face. He sees the disgruntled look of Harry and frowns.

 

“Brace bothering you again?” Harry whimpers when Louis crawls up the bed to hover over him.

 

“Yes. Very much so. It’s itchy and unbearable.” He huffs. Louis smiles at him. Harry can feel Louis’ hand tracing the front of his pants. Oh.

 

“Could take your mind off it?” He says in that voice that gets Harry going and Louis makes a surprised noise when Harry visibly twitches in his boxers.

 

“I’ll take that as a yes then?” Harry nods with a pout and he’s trying not to smile. Louis smiles at him sweetly and proceeds to remove his shirt and begin on his jeans until they’re both in boxers. Louis gropes Harry’s erection over his boxers and Harry makes a strangled sort of noise.

 

“What would you like me to do? Suck you off? Or maybe… maybe I could ride you… would you like that?” Louis says in that tantalizing tone and trails his fingers over Harry’s broad chest, leaving goose bumps in their wake. Harry shivers.

 

“God. Please. Yes.” He chokes out.

 

“Yes? Yes to which?” He smirks.

 

“Both. Yes to both! Please! Fuck.” He stutters, brushing his hands through his hair. Louis laughs menacingly.

 

“Greedy boy.” Louis tuts and Harry just closes his eyes and waits.

 

Louis peels back his boxers and shimmies them down his legs, his erection pressed against his chest, heavy and red and smearing precome in the hairs of his happy trail. Louis gives a teasing lick where it’s spreading. Harry makes a soft pleading noise and his face scrunches up and his cock gives a large twitch and hits Louis’ cheek. Louis laughs and grips it in his hand and gives a simple jerk before taking his hand away. Harry shivers.

 

“Stop teasing, please.” Harry begs and Louis gives him a look.

 

“But it’s so fun to tease you. To bring you close and watch you squirm when I don’t give you what you want.” He smirks. Harry huffs a breath out.

 

“No one would believe me if I told them how fucking kinky you are in bed.” Louis shrugs. “Seriously, they probably peg you for the kind of guy who does the simple stuff.” Harry tells him. Louis just shrugs again.

 

“They can think what they want. They’ll never know how fucking awesome this kind of sex is. You don’t seem to mind, if I recall.” He says and Harry blushes because Louis’ right, he doesn’t mind at all.

 

“Shut up and put your mouth to work.” Harry sasses and Louis laughs.

 

His mouth doesn’t trail down though; it kisses down Harry’s neck to Harry’s nipples. He takes Harry’s right nipple in his mouth and nips and sucks and Harry writhes as much as he can, careful of his leg. He grips Louis’ hair and pulls to get him off but Louis just nips harder and Harry relents. When it’s pink and puffy Louis moves to the other. Harry’s breathing is heavy and Louis is everywhere and it’s nice to not be reminded of his stupid leg. Louis finally crawls backwards and looks up at Harry with a seductive smile.

 

“May I?” He asks and Harry must be losing it because he laughs.

 

“How polite of you to ask. Please do.” He says back and Louis listens, he takes Harry down in one go, letting his gag reflex calm with deep breathes and he relaxes his throat. Harry’s hips buck up but there’s nothing left to take and who the fuck is Louis to do something like that to him? Louis chokes a little with the buck, and then he’s holding Harry’s hips down as if to say stay still. Harry tries not to shake.

 

“Holy fuck.” He spits as Louis sets a speed between all too fast and far too slow. They’re deep bobs where Harry hits the back of his throat every time. Harry covers his eyes with his hands and makes a sobbing noise. He never thought sex could reduce him to tears but this is far too good and Louis is amazing and everywhere all at once and it’s overwhelming.

 

“Lou please, I’m so close,” Harry pants and Louis pulls off as soon Harry tells him that. Harry notices that his telling Louis made him stop; he whines (and earns a soft smack to the thigh so he’ll shut up).

 

“Hold on just a little bit longer babe.” Harry makes a small noise but nods. He looks at Louis; he’s all wide eyes and red ‘blow me’ lips glistening with spit. His cheeks are flushed. Louis watches Harry, eyes all blown and glassy; his lips kiss bitten and red from Louis and from Harry biting them to keep himself quiet. The flush has trailed down Harry’s chest and Harry’s breathing is heavy. He’s never looked so beautiful and fucked out before.

 

“Christ, you’re gorgeous.” Louis breathes and kisses Harry. Harry makes a soft noise, something like a sigh. Louis reaches for lube but no condom. After both being tested and coming back clean, the two decided to forego condoms because they obviously weren’t seeing anyone else besides each other. There hadn’t been much sex lately though, so this was one of the first times doing it like this.

 

“You gonna watch?” Louis asks and Harry nods vigorously. Louis turns around and faces Harry’s feet so Harry has a good view as he fingers himself open. Harry groans and wants to touch but doesn’t try. Louis’ up to four fingers and quivering over Harry when he turns around, flushed and ready.

 

“Sit back and enjoy the ride, Hazza.” Louis mumbles and Harry laughs.

 

“God even most of my jokes aren’t that bad.” Louis grins. He manages to line himself up with Harry and then he’s sinking down and Harry’s eyes roll back.

 

“Oh god.” He breathes.

 

Louis sits in Harry’s lap, nothing left to take. He waits a moment, and adjusts to Harry’s size by rolling his hips and causing Harry friction before lifting up and coming back down slowly. The pace is excruciatingly slow, just as Louis wants it. But he picks up the pace, his hands by Harry’s shoulders until he’s pulling Harry’s hands away from where they’re resting on Louis’ hips and he’s pinning them above Harry’s head. Harry begins to thrash about, careful not to kick his legs. He’s so gone and Louis’ thighs start to shake and he lets out big loud gasps and little whine like moans and soft ‘oh’ and big loud moans when Harry hits his prostate and he nearly falls over because it’s just so good. Harry gasps and pleads with his eyes and makes a soft little noise.

 

“Oh. Oh god. Lou. Close. So close. Please, please can I-”

 

“C’mon Hazza, cum for me.” Louis gives his wrists a squeeze and Harry cums right then. His eyes squeeze shut and his mouth drops open and he lets out a long groan and white flashes behind his eyelids. He’s panting and Louis is still riding him and it’s all so much that tears fall down his cheeks but he’s smiling.

 

“So gorgeous Lou.” Harry whispers and Louis lets out a high pitched moan and cums untouched across both their stomachs and then collapses forward. His face pressed into Harry’s neck and they breathe through aftershocks of their orgasms.

 

“Shit.” Louis says softly. Harry laughs. Louis sits up and brushes away the last of the tears on Harry’s face.

 

“Good crying, I hope?” Harry’s smile is giddy. He nods and Louis smiles back at him just as brightly.

 

“Thank god you’re done over there! Now we can sleep!” Liam’s voice is muffled through the wall but it makes Harry and Louis laugh.

 

“Maybe we’re going for round two!” Louis shouts back and Harry gasps. He gives a surprising twitch beneath Louis. Louis raises his eyebrows at Harry curiously, and Harry just smirks.

 

“Oh god no!” Zayn shouts.

 

“Round two?” Louis asks in a normal voice. Harry sighs happily.

 

“Gimme a minute.” He says and pulls Louis back down for a sweaty, sticky cuddle. Harry can’t help but smile.

 

“’d give you all the time in the world, Haz.”

 

 

*

 

 

Louis can hardly bear it. The envelope is sitting on his kitchen island, haunting him. It’s small. A single white envelope. Acceptance letters come in tall manila envelopes enclosed with paperwork and information. He didn’t get in.

 

He promised Harry he would wait until he got to the flat to open it. Harry had a doctor appointment today, to check the progress of his knee and possibly downsize to a smaller, easier brace. Baby steps. Louis can’t stand it any longer, Harry will know when he gets here that Louis didn’t make it. He’ll make Louis dinner like he promised and cuddle him while he cries tonight. Louis tears open the envelope and begins to read.

 

Dear Louis, it gives me tremendous pleasure to inform you that the Juilliard Piano faculty and Committee on Admissions have granted you admission to the Classical Music – Bachelor of Music program at Juilliard School on a full scholarship for the 2014-15 academic year. Congratu- Oh. My. God.”

 

“Hey Louis, I was on my way in when the post man asked me if I knew you! Apparently he forgot to put this in your mail today and the envelope says- Louis?” Harry hobbles into the room on crutches to see Louis standing at the kitchen island, a single piece of paper in one hand, the other covering his mouth to muffle his crying.

 

“Juilliard?” He asks excitedly. Louis looks to Harry’s hand. It’s a tall manila folder.

 

“Holy shit!” He screams! Harry’s eyes open wide and he screams with Louis!

 

“Is that a yes?” He asks and Louis collapses in his arms.

 

“I got in.” He breathes out into Harry’s chest. When he pulls away he wipes at his eyes and reads the next line on the paper.

 

Please note that all information pertaining to Enrollment and such will be posted to you in a separate envelope. Oh my god. This is real.” He says. Harry smiles at him but it doesn’t reach his eyes.

 

“You’re going to Juilliard. In New York.” He says softly, as if the news is sinking in. He sits on the couch and stares ahead. Louis realizes why Harry says it like that.

 

“Oh Harry.” he breathes out. Harry doesn’t cry. He doesn’t.

 

“It’s okay. It is. I’ll just come visit on weekends and you’ll be here holidays. It’ll be great.” He whimpers on the last word. Louis shakes his head.

 

“We’ll figure it out, we always do.” Louis runs a hand through Harry’s curls.

 

“Yeah.” But Harry feels like it’s already figured out. Louis is leaving. Harry isn’t. The world is ending and nothing can stop it now.

 

*

 

 

It’s graduation. Harry doesn’t know where the last month went, but it feels like time is running on warp speed and he can’t slow it down. Harry is in a suit that fits him perfectly, and Louis is wearing dress pants and a dress shirt. Fancy boys. Harry is in a bit of a slum. Louis is on an infinite high. Everyone talks about where they’re attending college or uni, and Harry says he doesn’t know yet because he doesn’t have any idea if he’s even going to go to a college or uni. Today blows. Harry gets to cross the stage today without crutches, only a hobble from the tight brace under his trousers. So that’s an upside. The ceremony ends, they flip their hat’s tails to the right, they’re officially graduated, and Harry feels the same. There’s no change. He doesn’t feel like a new person like everyone says he should. He’s just plain Harry.

 

“So where are you going to school now that you can’t do football?” A girl asks him and he’s about to say ‘no where’ when he hears someone screaming. “Harry! Harry!”

 

He turns around to see Fitz. She’s running to him. Why is a teacher running at him? What happened? She skids to a stop and hugs him tightly.

 

“Woah, Fitz! What’s happened? Who died?” She laughs but she’s giddy.

 

“You won! You did it, Harry, you did it!” She screeches like a teenager but Harry feels stunned because what.

 

“I what.” He states.

 

“You won the competition! For the scholarship! Look!” She holds up a torn envelope with a letter by it. He takes it from her hands and reads.

 

Congratulations Harry Styles on your innovative and creative entry to the competition. It was truly an inspiring piece. We are honoured to tell you that you have exceeded our expectations and therefore you are the winner-”He physically cannot read on. He starts to cry.

 

“Oh Harry I’m so happy for you!” Fitz tells him and Louis comes running over when he sees Harry crying.

 

“Hey, what happened!?” And Louis is surprised when he’s scooped off his feet by a giddy Harry.

 

“Holy shit did we win the lottery?”

 

“Of sorts!” Fitz laughs.

 

“What happened?!” He asks excitedly.

 

“Louis, I won. I won the competition! The scholarship! Do you know what this means? I can come. I can come to New York with you.” Harry says and Louis screams and starts crying. They’ve never been so happy in their lives.

 

“Someone needs to capture this moment.” Fitz fake whispers and Harry closes the gap between him and Louis and kisses him breathless.

 

He already did.

 

 

*

 

Louis lies in his bed reading one of the few books that’s unpacked. He’s thumbing over a page when Harry comes into the room. He lies across the bed and puts his head in Louis’ lap, staring up at Louis with big eyes. Louis lifts his book from where it’s blocking Harry’s face and he’s smiling down at him, reflecting Harry’s smile.

 

“Can I help you? I’m at the part where Hazel and Gus are on the airplane. He’s just announced his everlasting love to her.” Louis grins and Harry laughs.

 

“Well I’m sorry to deter you from that, but I have something I wanted to show you.” Harry holds up a black folder that’s larger than a normal one. He’s intrigued. He puts his book down and lets Harry sit up so he can show him.

 

“What is this?” Louis asks. Harry hands it to Louis but doesn’t let him open it.

 

“It’s my competition entry. Because the comp is over, I got my original prints back to keep. I entered them the day they were due to teachers to send off, and um, it was also the day I got you back? I wanted to show you what made me win.” Harry blushes. Louis smiles and tucks a stray curl behind his ear.

 

“Okay. Lemme see.” He says and flips open the folder, now he knows it’s more of a portfolio, and pulls the pictures out of the slot. He nearly drops them when he sees the top picture. It’s him.

 

“Harry.” Louis says in a soft voice. Harry is unsure how to read that voice. Louis stares at the top picture for a few minutes.

 

It’s of Louis in the music room at the piano. He’s playing a piece so his fingers are blurred in the picture, but his eyes are closed and he’s smiling. Louis remembers this picture. Harry had come late to the music room this day, and when he walked through the door he snapped this picture. It startled Louis but it didn’t stop him from continuing the piece. He looks so at peace, happy. He begins flipping through the photos; different angles of Louis’ hands on the ivory keys and different pictures of Louis himself, pictures of him half asleep at the kitchen island with a cup of steaming Yorkshire sitting in front of him. A picture of him in his onesie. A picture of him in the dark watching scary movies. Pictures of him and Harry together. One of him sleeping with his nose crinkled up. One of just his open eye. All so different and so beautiful, even the one with the coffee stain. Louis doesn’t understand how pictures of him could’ve possibly won Harry the competition. He’s nothing special. He’s crying. His eyes meet Harry’s and Harry is smiling at him.

 

“Why?” Is all Louis said simply. Harry blinks fondly at him, as if he was expecting this. Harry pulls a piece of paper from the other side of the portfolio.

 

“Part of the competition was to write something about the muse you chose.” Harry states and hands Louis the paper, taking back the pictures and flicking through them himself. Louis swallows and looks down at the paper. He wipes his eyes once and begins to read Harry’s paper on him.

 

Everyone has a muse. A muse is something that inspires the soul, reawakens the creative part of us. Most would say their muse is something simple, like music or a quote to inspire them. But for a photographer or any type of artist, I think a muse is something more. It’s something they draw from for inspiration like any other muse, but it’s like the centre of the universe to an artist. It draws them in like a light to an insect. It calls to them and makes them see something they wouldn’t normally see. It makes you look at things in different ways, building off of those new ways and creating something beautiful. My muse is a person, and not a thing. He is the most beautiful creature I’ve ever seen. His eyes are so blue you could practically swim in them. I often get lost in them. He’s just stunning; he is shy and quiet and likes to blend in with the background. He’s devastatingly beautiful without even trying. Louis is a wallflower. He blends in to the crowd, but I think he should be on display in the world’s finest museums. Louis is a wallflower and he likes it that way. He only lets the people he trusts, the people he loves see him. Louis makes me want to travel the world and photograph everything I see because he makes me realize that everything is beautiful in some way or another if you look close enough. Louis teaches me something new about life every day even if it’s something small. He is the reason I want to become so much more than a photographer. I want to be a person who can tell a story through my photos. I want to share an adventure with people. I want the world to see what inspires me, so it can inspire them too. Louis is my muse, and I want the world to love him just as much as I do; because a life with Louis in it is a life worth living to the fullest.’

 

Louis looks up to Harry who is smiling at him. Louis throws himself at Harry and lets out a heavy sob into his chest followed by smaller ones because this means so much to Louis. Harry just holds him and when Louis’ crying has reduced to sniffles, Harry brushes his fringe off his face and kisses his forehead as a silent I love you. They stay like this until they decide lie down and cuddle properly. Louis is almost asleep but he doesn’t miss what Harry says that makes him beam and feel the most love anyone could possibly feel.

 

“Thank you, Lou. Thank you for always being my muse.”

 

*

 

“Shouldn’t we paint the bathroom teal? I think we should, and give it a Finding Nemo theme.” Harry says while Louis looks at colour palettes. He looks up and glares at Harry.

 

“We are not painting the bathroom teal, good lord Harry.” He rolls his eyes fondly. Harry comes over beside Louis and plunks down on their brand new couch.

 

“Can we at least paint the kitchen orange?” He pouts and Louis huffs out a gush of air.

 

“We’re not painting the bloody kitchen orange either! You decide the organizational aspects of the house, and I choose the colours and furniture. We agreed upon this when we were on the plane.” Louis tells him and Harry grins. He loves teasing the shit out of Louis.

 

“Yes dear.” He replies.

 

It had been a summer full of late nights under the stars, long days practicing and photographing but every night returning to each other and to a bed that was Louis that had become theirs. It was a summer of working too, Louis at the library and Harry at the bakery to earn money to survive off of, apart from what their parents sent. It had been a summer of Harry selecting a school and being accepted on late notice with a recommendation from the holders of the competition because the winning was announced late. It was a summer of searching for flats online that was a close enough distance from Juilliard and the college Harry chose to attend and digitours and a trip to New York to seal the deal on the one they loved. It was many trips to New York to start moving over there and getting settled in before terms started. It was a summer that they loved.

 

And now sitting in their flat, it was so lovely to say that, Harry looked around. Sure there were boxes still unpacked and there were boxes still in the post. Sure they were missing a coffee table and the bed frame hasn't arrived so they’re sleeping on the mattress on the floor, but to Harry it’s perfect. It’s not finished and it’s messy but it’s theirs and it’s perfect.

 

Harry takes Louis’ hands in his, kisses them, and then pulls Louis from his spot on the couch. Louis whines but Harry raises his eyebrows.

 

“It’s half two in the morning, colour palettes can wait.” Louis pouts but follows Harry.

 

“But we want to go tomorrow and if I don’t have them picked out we can’t go.”

 

“Do them in the morning; we've all afternoon and all our lives to decide what colour to paint the bathroom. Like teal.” Louis lets out a noise like a squawk and a snort.

 

“We’re not painting it teal.” He replies as he falls to the bed and snuggles into Harry’s waiting arms.

 

“Can we accent in teal then? Maybe paint the walls a nice light chocolaty brown colour and then accent in teal?” Louis gives it some thought and smiles.

 

“Yeah, I actually like that idea.” He says with a contented sigh.

 

“And Nemo shower decals.” Louis hits his chest and laughs. "You're ridiculous." Harry grins down at him.

 

To think Harry and Louis barely knew each other a year ago is crazy. They’ve become so attuned to each other, so used to the other being around, Harry can’t even remember a time when Louis wasn’t a part of his every thought. He can’t remember a time where he’d look around and see a room full of just his things and not Louis’ mixed in with it. He can’t remember a time where he ever thought anyone besides Louis was who he was meant to be with. He just can’t.

 

In his future, all he sees is Louis. It’s like what he said to his father, he may not know where his life is headed; the world is shifting and his life is changing and he’s growing a little older and wiser every day. The one thing that’s constant in his life was Louis. Louis was the single thing he was sure of in this world. He was sure that every night he’d fall asleep entangled in a pile of limps with a kiss on his lips and every morning he’d wake up with Louis by his side with love in his heart and a smile on his face. And as long as he had that, nothing could ever be wrong. Because with Louis everything felt right, and it’s the way it was going to stay.

 

“I love you, you know.” Harry whispers to Louis’ forehead, as if he’s inking it into Louis’ skin and letting those words travel every inch of Louis until he’s completely covered in quiet whispers of ‘I love you’ without ever having a doubt that Harry will always love him. Louis smiles and cuddles closer.

 

“I love you too, H.” Louis presses into Harry’s neck. Harry feels like the brightest star in the sky.

 

Harry closes his eyes and smiles in the dark, enjoying the feeling of finally being home. Harry never thought that home could mean anything more than a house that you lived in. But now he knows he was wrong; because home could be a lot of things. It could be something as simple as your favourite book, or a nice cup of tea on a rainy day. It could be a certain scent, or a song.

 

But to Harry, home is a person. Home is Louis. It’s the place where Harry feels safest, it’s where Harry is the best version of himself, it’s comfortable and familiar and yet so new every single day. And if you asked him, Louis would tell you Harry is his home too. And in the arms of their home, Harry and Louis feel like they are exactly where they are meant to be, right where they belong.

 

 

 

fin.