He was out with her again. He'd seen pictures on the news. Him holding her hand, her falling behind as he 'protectively' leads her through the paparazzi. The paps who had been given an 'anonymous tip' on where they'd be eating tonight, to be caught in the act.
Anyone who knew Louis knew he didn't look happy in those pictures. They would all know how standing there with her would be the last place he would want to be.
He'd been the one to push Louis to follow management's requests. He was ready to stand Eleanor up, deal with the consequences from management at a later date and just stay in the flat with Harry. He'd been the one to tell Louis to go, that he'd be fine on his own.
His glance flickered over to one of the many photos scattered around the living room, whether they were pinned on a corkboard beside the door, or in the big picture frame hanging over the fire. The many frames on every other surface, all capturing the years he and Louis had spent together.
One of his favourites was one from the X Factor Era, as the fans called it. When he and Louis were falling, crazily fast, and deep in love with each other. Once he and Louis had slowly stopped hiding their relationship from the people in the house, Niall easily became their biggest fans, and this was one of his sneaky little photos.
It must've been one of their movie nights, because he recognised the loveseat that they were curled up on. It was their loveseat. They were cuddling, Harry in one of Louis' hoodies that was too big for him (Louis was actually taller than him at this point). He was snuggled in Louis arms, a few straw curls tucking out from the hood of the hoodie. His head on Louis' chest (still his favourite cuddling position to this day, three years later), Louis' arms wrapped around him. Harry was staring intently at whatever movie was on the screen, a content smile on his face. What he didn't see until Niall had showed him the picture was the way Louis was watching him.
He had this adoring grin on his face as he stared down at his new boyfriend, his eyes shining, his skin glowing. It sounded cheesy, but Louis looked radiant. And all because he was looking at Harry. Their hands were loosely entwined as they rested on Harry's lap, and Louis looked like he was about to press a gentle kiss to Harry's head (he did).
He sighed, putting the photo back in it's place. His eyes glanced back to the television, that had a few pictures of Louis and Eleanor smiling in, whispering something about whatever they had to small talk about. To anybody else, he looked happy. Sat there in this lovely shirt (that Harry had picked out), hair styled and this big grin on his face.
He didn't look radiant here. Not like he did when he was with Harry.
There was another photo that didn't have him or Louis in it, but it reminded Harry of the happiest day of his life so far. It was the day Louis had convinced him to go in a hot air balloon whilst they were on holiday - "I swear to you, Louis, those things are death traps!" - but he'd done it anyway. It had been worth it to see the grin on Louis' face alone. He hadn't noticed Louis take this photo, admiring the view like an excited child. It was sunset on the island, and from where the balloon was flying, they could see this massive expanse of ocean, with the sun glistening on the surface. A few of the houses were lit up, creating dots of light on the otherwise dark island, and the sky was these amazing shades of pink, purple, orange and yellow. Harry almost swooned at that alone.
Harry hadn't noticed until after Louis zoomed in on the photo that one of the lights on the island was a bit shinier, bigger, and not a light at all. It was the engagement ring Louis had sneaked into the corner of the photo, one he proceeded to give to Harry just a mere ten minutes after the photo had been taken.
He remembered that day as if it were yesterday.
"Haz? I'm back, love," Louis called softly, not wanting to wake the younger lad if he'd fallen asleep waiting for him to return.
Harry didn't reply, and as Louis entered the living room, he noticed the TV that was paused with this collage of him and Eleanor, and Harry stood by the fire, staring at the photo Louis had taken on possibly the most nervous evening of his life. He didn't say anything as he approached his fiance, even when he was stood right behind him, also looking at the photo.
"Just a little bit," Harry murmured without turning to face Louis.
"And a little bit more, and more, and more, until you have all of it. Where it belongs," Louis replied quietly, grabbing Harry's hand that had the ring on it, the ring he could only wear around family, in their apartment or on the tour bus. The ring that signified so much, yet could apparently ruin the whole band and their lives.
The ring that symbolised their love. Their love, that no publicity stunt, no homophobic manager, no forced relationship could ever come between.
Because it was theirs.