"Love is friendship that has caught fire.
It is quiet understanding,
sharing and forgiving.
It is loyalty through good and bad times.
It settles for less than perfection
and makes allowances to human weakness."
It is one of these days where Louis feels like complete shit after a unbelievably long day of rehearsals, signings and interviews. One of these days where everything just feels too much and is too overwhelming to bear. During one of the short breathers they had, he has unsuspectingly dared to went on Twitter and regretted it straight away and yeah, that is most likely also one of the reason why Louis feels entirely shitty.
In front of the cameras he's always the outgoing and extroverted lad, known for his vivacious personality, who would never neglect a chance to crack a joke or make a sassy remark but to be perfectly honest, it's all just a cover-up for all his insecurities, he may actually be quite the opposite.
But of course, he'd never admit that to himself, let alone anyone else if it wasn't absolutely necessary which it mostly isn't. Usually he'd just keep up his charade until he is alone in his room at last but the massive list of cruel comments and insults he's read on Twitter today were just too much.
Fact is, he knows that he's too short, that his tummy is too fat and flabby, his ass to girly, his voice too weak and high for a boy band and potentially his impulsive behavior occasionally oversteps the mark but knowing it himself is such a enormous difference than knowing that other people have recognized it as well. Apparently it must be quite obvious then, when even people he's never even met in real life are able to detect it that easily.
The other boys have promptly recognized that something was definitely out of sorts as Louis stayed quiet the rest of the day and only answered questions in interviews and signings when they were directly addressing him. Most prudently no one broaches his standoffish behavior as they finally get into the car which is supposed to drive them all home, possibly in the hopes that he'd have just a bad day.
Except Harry, of course. Harry is there, he's right there, sitting right next to him, gazing at him with a worried expression on his face. Louis ignores him, has to ignore him, because he's sure he'd break down then and there, if he met Harry's worried eyes and he could not let that happen, under no circumstances.
He is the oldest of the band, he has responsibilities, he needs to be strong because he's sure people do expect him to be strong, to hold them all together and cheer them up when people send them hate, not the other way around. He could not let that happen, no way. He could not burden them with his problems as well, when they already have a whole lot for themselves to deal with. He'd be damned to let that happen. So he rests his forehead against the cool car window and closes his eyes as a desperate attempt to calm himself down before he'd be inevitably confronted with Harry.
When they finally arrive at their shared flat after they've dropped off Liam, Zayn and Niall at their own respective flats, Louis gets out of the car and hurries up the stairs without hesitation. He doesn't realize that Harry's right behind him until he apparently isn't even able to unlock the door by himself anymore, cursing nonsensical under his breath.
"Here, let me help you, yeah?" Harry catches Louis' attention cautiously and reaches his long arm around Louis and gently lays his hand on top of Louis'.
And for Louis it's almost too much, even this tiny, tiny bit of contact seems too much when he is so, so close to the edge of breaking down. He holds his breath warily as he feels Harry's warm breath on his neck and tries to blink away his restrained tears at least halfway effective.
Harry gingerly closes his hand around Louis' and turns the key once, twice and then the door clicks open but Harry lets his hand linger on Louis' for a moment longer, just a bit longer than necessary before he withdraws it completely and pushes the door open wide.
Louis doesn't move for a moment, afraid that Harry might see his glassy and bloodshot eyes which would give him away so easily, but then again, he thinks, he hasn't been quite subtle all day long and it's not as if Harry's dumb or anything. He can put one and one together, everybody could do that, really. At least Harry's his best mate, he's most probably the one person who's closest to him, who knows him best and for God's sake, they live together.
So he gets his shit together and moves forward after what seemed like an eternity, entering their flat. He carelessly throws his keys and his phone on the coffee table in front of the couch and makes straight towards the stairs to get into his room as fast as one can, because he's not sure how much longer he's able to hold it all back.
Before he can set a foot on the first step, Harry's uttering his name quietly, so quietly that Louis could easily pretend he hasn't heard it at all but then he's calling for him again, louder this time.
"Louis?" Harry asks cautiously, his voice softer than usual, almost as if he's afraid to address him at all and Louis would like to slap himself in the face because Harry should never feel like this, should never be afraid to talk to him.
He reluctantly stops in front of the stairs to hear Harry out, not turning round, though. Even if he'd much rather just lock himself in his room and stay in bed, hidden under his softish duvet for days, Harry deserves being heard out.
"Louis, are you all right?" Harry tries again after a few minutes of dead silence. "It's just, you seemed quite distant during the interview and, I don't know, that's not like you and I'm just, I just wanna make sure you are all right."
Louis swallows the lump in his throat, fully aware that his hoarse voice's inevitably going to give him away without a doubt but he also knows it's Harry and he's genuinely worried about him and he has to give him something, something to soothe the waters effectively. It's enough that he's feeling shitty but that is not to say that Harry needs to feel bad as well.
"Yeah mate, I'm fine, thanks. I guess it's just not my day and I'm actually having a fucking vicious headache," Louis answers eventually, trying to laugh it off a bit.
"Ok, so how about you go upstairs and gather up some comfy clothes while I'm gonna make you a cuppa and run you a hot bath, huh?" Harry offers considerately and Louis couldn't help but turn round and smile fondly at the younger boy because Harry is just too good to be true. He doesn't know what exactly he could have done good in the past to deserve someone as kind-hearted and genuine as Harry in his life. It must be something exceptionally good, though.
"Nah, it's ok, mate. You must be just as thoroughly exhausted than I am and I don't wanna bother you but thank you very much indeed," Louis says appreciatively and turns round again to finally leave for his room.
"But I want to!" Harry blurts out urgently, without hesitation and makes Louis stop partway again. He looks down through the banister and his eyes meet Harry's hopeful one's and for a moment they just look into each other's eyes, frozen, just stare at one another. Cerulean blue meeting emerald green.
"Yeah," he agrees quietly, still feeling kinda paralyzed, looking down and smiling fondly at the curly-haired boy because he's pretty sure he could not ask for a better best mate. Harry fucking Styles must actually be the best person in the world; in the whole universe, if he has any say in it.
"Yeah, ok," Louis repeats more convincing this time, his voice still hoarse from the lack of talking he did today.
"Yeah?" Harry asks for assurance again, a faint smile playing around the corners of his mouth.
"Yeah, of course. A cuppa and a bath sound great!"
"Alrighty!" Harry affirms happily, now literally beaming like the sun itself, dimples on full display and yeah, Louis has to admit that besides Harry's soft chocolate curls and his amazing personality, his dimples may be also one of his favorite 'Harry things'. The list may be endless anyway. "And if you still doesn't feel better after all, I'll get you some Advil," Harry adds attentively.
"Ok then. I'm gonna go and fetch some comfy clothes," Louis lets Harry know and takes two steps at a time to finally, finally get into his room. He closes the door right after he enters and breaks down then and there. He leans his back against the closed door and slumps down, folding in on himself as he wraps his arms tightly around his knees and starts crying uncontrollably.
Fuck, he doesn't deserve a friend as good-natured as Harry, just as little as he deserves to be a part of One Direction. Who the hell is he trying to fool? He knows all too well that he has by far the weakest voice from all of the boys and that he's not able to keep up with their thoroughly fit bodies and all. No matter how hard he works out, his flabby paunch and his fat ass doesn't seem to shrink the slightest bit. Yeah, he's sure he deserves the hate and all the insults and cruel comments he has gotten today.
And Harry's most probably already waiting on him downstairs and he really shouldn't let him wait. He still hasn't gathered up any clothes yet and he's sure he already looks like hell but he still can't stop crying. It's as though all the things he's so effectively tried to hide, would break out all at once, just now.
Somehow he manages to get up off the antique pink carpeted floor of his room, clumsily supporting himself on the wall, and makes towards his walk-in closet and prudently fetches the loosest sweats and jumper he owns. He carelessly throws them on the bed and flops down beside his clothes, face pressed into the softish duvet as a vain attempt to muffle his sobs. He doesn't register the tapping on his door and still less Harry opening it ajar and cautiously poking his head in.
"What the fuck?" Harry blurts out involuntary as he sees Louis curled up into a ball on his bed, face still pressed into the duvet, sobbing his heart out. "Louis?"
And that's when Louis notices him and fuck, fuck, fuck, apparently he's forgotten to lock the door and fuck, no one is supposed to see him like this. No one, not even Harry or especially not Harry. He's the youngest and he's always looked up at Louis and he definitely doesn't wanna be a burden on him or anyone, really.
And Harry, Harry's just too young to deal with all this shit and all his insignificant problems and insecurities. And Louis can not answer, can not react at all, he can't even move. He's frozen and even if he wanted to say something, he surely wouldn't be able to form a coherent sentence.
Harry is still at the door, hasn't dared to come closer yet, most probably because he's never seen Louis like this, has never seen him crack before. Louis is pretty sure he's never even cried since he's auditioned for the X Factor. So yeah, Harry has every right to be shocked because Louis is probably the strongest person Harry knows but then again, maybe he isn't.
So the younger boy steps in Louis' room and closes the door
(just to be on the safe side, you never know, right?) and heads straight for Louis' curled up figure. Louis feels the bed dip slightly beside him and before he knows what is happening, Harry gathers him up in his lap and rubs soothing circles on his back, whispering reassuring words in his ear.
A little later Louis' sobs die down quite a bit and turn into quiet sniffs and Harry gently pushes him off his lap and on the bed in front of him. They sit cross-legged, with their knees touching, on Louis' bed and Louis hasn't looked up and met Harry's eyes yet, his head still hanging low between his shoulders.
Harry gives him a moment before he cups his face with his massive hands and forces his head up to see his face but he's surely not braced for what he sees when Louis' glassy, red-rimmed and puffy eyes finally meet his, his fringe sticking to his forehead, soaked with tears and his flushed cheeks strained with tears.
Harry holds his breath for just a moment and then he wraps his arms around him again and drags him even closer to his chest than before, if that's even possible.
Louis still doesn't, no, can't react. He just rests his forehead on Harry's broad shoulder and inhales his scent. He smells like a mix of apples and mint and like freshness and the fabric softener Harry uses to do their laundry. His little housewife, he thinks, and he can't suppress the faint smile that creeps up on his mouth.
"Louis, fuck, what happened?" Harry asks softly, lifting Louis' head up again, and runs his fingers through his sticky fringe to shove it out of his eyes. Louis is not sure if he's ready to speak yet, if he's able to form a coherent sentence but Harry's there, right there, holding him, and he deserves an answer, so he at least needs to try.
"I, it's, it's nothing, nothing important, really," he stutters feebly, almost inaudibly, his voice hoarse from crying. "Just, just me, being, being silly."
"Louis!" Harry warns tenderly and runs both his thumbs gently over Louis' prominent cheekbones to wipe away the remains of his tears.
"It's just, fuck Harry, I don't wanna burden you with my insignificant problems," Louis says ashamedly and shakes his head fiercely. Harry cups his face again, lays his massive hands on both sides of Louis' face to still his head and makes eye contact with him.
"Whatever has made you as miserable as you are right now is significant to me and you could never ever be a burden on me, don't you dare to ever think that again, you get me? I'm your best mate, Lou, that's what I'm here for, to ease some of the burden on you."
“No, it's not, Harry. It's not what you're supposed to do. You're so young, Haz. You shouldn't deal with the shit they throw at me,” Louis explains, desperately trying to make a point.
“So, it's something the fans have said to you then? What did they say, Lou?” Harry asks sensitively and lets his hands drop from Louis' cheeks to his knees, stroking calmingly over his kneecaps with his thumbs.
“You know, usually I push it to the back of my mind but sometimes, sometimes it feels like it all gets too much, almost too much to bear. Sometimes it just overwhelms me,” Louis whispers as if he's revealing a secret and Harry thinks, maybe he is, because Louis has never admitted that something's getting too much for him, would never admit it and Harry's heart clenches painfully at that precise moment.
“What did they say, Lou?” Harry asks again, vehemently.
“Harry, please!” Louis pleads helplessly and lowers his head self-consciously.
“Lou, you're not the only one they throw shit at, you know? We all get hate. It's not just roses and sunshine. It's shit but I guess it's just part of our job. Not everyone likes us, not everyone likes me, or you, or Oreos,” Harry jokes, smiling warmly and shrugging his shoulder's in disbelief because how can you not like Oreos, like seriously?
In fact, Harry's jokes are the worst, really, yet he never stops trying again and again to make the people around him laugh and Louis envies him secretly for his adamant persistence, even though most of them laugh more as result of his infectious smile, rather than of his terrible jokes. Here and now, Louis can't help letting out a short but hearty laugh himself and the beaming smile he gets in return is so, so worth it. Louis thinks, yes, Harry must be something like sunshine. Everyone should have a Harry in his life, really.
Normally he'd tease Harry about his not-so-funny jokes but right now he doesn't quite feel like teasing, not when Harry tries his hardest to cheer him up. He's so young and so innocent, he still believes in the good in the man and Louis just wants to wrap his arms around him and hold him close forever and protect him from this cruel, cruel world.
“You could have talked to us, you could have at least talked to me. I just thought, I thought you'd trust me,” Harry adds, feeling deeply offended, and suddenly his expression changes drastically and he drops his now deeply hurt gaze.
“I do trust you, Harry. It's just...,” Louis trails off guiltily because he's the one who's caused the hurt in Harry's eyes, he's the one who's made him unsure of his trust in him and he feels as though his words are stuck in his throat and he'd start crying again any moment.
“You know, Lou, you don't have to be strong all the time. You can feel shitty from time to time, you can feel offended or hurt. We all do. Just because you're the oldest doesn't mean you have to stand up for us all the time. We won't judge you when let your guard down and cry, we know how hard it can get, how much it can get. Too much sometimes but you don't have to pretend to be all right and cry your heart out all by yourself. If you don't want the boys to see you like this, you can at least come to me and I'm gonna hold you, comfort you, listen to you. Whatever you need, I'm gonna be there as long as you need me. It's just me, Lou!” Harry speaks softly, placing his hands on Louis' shoulder, and caress his collarbones with his thumbs. Fuck, Harry knows him all too well. It's almost terrifying.
“Thank you, Hazza!” Louis whispers quietly and blinks away the tears forming in his eyes, because he's so, so happy to have Harry in his life. Right now he's so overwhelmed with emotions he can't quite put a finger on yet but he knows it fells awfully good to have Harry at his side.
“And now we go downstairs and you'll have your bath and in the meanwhile I'm gonna cook dinner for us. After dinner we can cuddle up on the couch and watch a movie, unless you'd rather go to sleep. That's up to you, of course.”
“No! No, I'd love to cuddle and watch a movie.”
“Ok, let's go then!” Harry exclaims happily and jumps to his feet, smiling proudly from ear to ear. He holds out his hand for Louis and fuck, there are these dimples again and Louis' heart swells with adoration for this supernatural boy in front of him.
He places his tiny hand in Harry's large one and then Harry's hand envelops his hand almost completely and somehow they fit perfectly together. Harry's caressing the soft skin of the back of his hand with his thumb when their eyes meet and they stare at each other once again, just for a moment, before Harry gives his hand an reassuring squeeze.
Louis clutches his clothes with his free arm and then he lets Harry lead him downstairs and into the bathroom. He doesn't wanna let go of Harry's warm hand when he reluctantly unloosens his grip on his hand and neither wants Harry but they have to eventually, even if it's just for a while.
The sedative scent of Lavender envelops him first when he takes in his surroundings for the first time after he's averted his attention from Harry.
“I've dimmed the light a bit and added the Lavender bath salts for your headache. Did you know the essential oils of Lavender have a calming effect? Anyway, I hope you like Lavender!” Harry blurts out nervously and looks bashfully at the ground.
“Yeah, of course, I like it. Thank you, Haz!” Louis says fondly and drops his clothes carelessly on the stool near the bathtub.
“You're very welcome, Lou. See you in a bit then!” Harry replies, smiling contentedly and leaves Louis alone to prepare dinner.
By the time Louis comes out of the bathroom with his hair still wet and a towel wrapped around his shoulders, he feels a great deal better then before and he's positive that Harry's made significant contributions to it. He owes quite a lot to him, really. He still feels hurt and he still knows he's not good enough and he sure as hell doesn't deserve Harry but he doesn't feel like crying anymore. For now, that's enough and to spare, he thinks.
“Hey, are you feeling a bit better?” Harry asks still worriedly when Louis enters the kitchen.
“Yeah, I owe you,” Louis answers bashfully and makes his way around the kitchen counter to take a smell of whatever delicious meal Harry's cooking there. He places a hand on Harry's shoulder to steady himself and raises himself on his tiptoes, curiously peeping in the pots on the stove. In the first pot he reaches are what looks like braised carrots and broccoli florets, in the second mashed potatoes and the third he can't reach, so he takes one last smell and thuds back on his feet again.
“What is it?” Louis asks curiously, adjusting Harry's apron while Harry's alternating between occasionally steering whatever's in the third pot and melting a knob of butter in the mashed potatoes.
“Uhm, actually, it's Sunday roast. The roast and the Yorkshire puddings are still in the oven but they should be ready any minute. I thought you'd like it but if you don't, we could still order takeaway. No trouble at all, really!” Harry explains hastily, afraid that Louis doesn't even like Sunday roast and yet he just wants to make Louis feel better, he's zealous to please him.
“Harry,” Louis says affectionately, lays his hands on Harry's biceps and turns him over, so that they're standing face-to-face. Harry self-consciously blinks at him through his ruffled curls with his innocent emerald green eyes. “I'm gonna love it. I'm actually craving after a home-cooked meal for days and your's are always the best, right after my mom's, indeed. Thank you for everything, Hazza!”
With that said Louis pulls Harry close and wraps his arms around the younger boy's waist and Harry immediately clutches him so tightly that Louis can't breath properly anymore but he really doesn't give a fuck, not when Harry looks so innocently self-conscious about himself and he has a chance to let him know how fucking grateful he is to have a friend like him. He just squeezes him tighter in return and nuzzles his nose in his chest, once again inhaling the familiar scent he became so attuned to and which he loves so, so much.
They don't let go of each other until the deafening ringing of the egg timer Harry has set for the oven annoys them so much that they're quite close to just throw it out of the window and Harry gets seriously concerned about the deliciousness of the roast and the Yorkshire puddings if they'll remain in the oven any longer.
"Uhm, I guess I should take care of that," Harry suggests, nuzzling his nose into Louis' still damp hair while pointing to the oven, and reluctantly loosens his arms around Louis' shoulders.
"Yeah," Louis agrees quietly, taking a step away from Harry to let him handle the egg timer and hopefully not burnt food in the oven. Harry steps back as well and looks down at Louis and it feels as though the world stops moving around him for just a moment. He reaches up absent-mindedly, lost in cerulean blue, and gently runs his fingers through Louis' silky hair. A few drops of water fall down on the floor and interrupt the moment. They both start giggling awkwardly at each other because maybe, just maybe that moment of being so close to each other with their eyes locked and Harry's hand in Louis' hair was a tad too long and intimate.
"You can sit yourself down. Dinner will be ready in a few." Harry shakes his head slightly to recover his senses again, withdrawing his hand from Louis awkwardly. What the fuck is wrong with him? What was he thinking? He can't just act out his feelings so shamelessly, can't let his emotions outdo his mind. He feels as though he'd take advantage of the vulnerable state Louis is in. He needs to get a grip on himself. Fuck Styles, get a fucking grip! Now!
"Ok," Louis agrees automatically, still in a daze somehow, as Harry finally turns towards the oven again and breaks eye contact with Louis after what felt like three eternities.
Louis stares at Harry's back awhile, watches him switch off the egg timer
(Thank god!) and watches narrowly how his muscles flex when he bends down to get the roasting tin out of the oven and sets it down on the counter, only to bend down again to get the Yorkshire puddings out as well. Louis' eyes are riveted on Harry's back, still overwhelmed by the recent events, until Harry kicks the oven shut with his foot and the thud brings Louis back to reality.
Fuck, he really needs to collect and clarify his fucking thoughts. He turns on his heels and storms out of the kitchen, confused. He plops down on his usual chair around the dining table Harry has already laid neatly and closes his eyes, taking a deep calming breath.
They've honestly been getting quite close to each other lately. Louis didn't give it too much thought when Simon called them out on their closeness a few months ago but now he thinks, yeah, he might have been right. They more probably should turn it down it.
Even Hannah had noticed and confronted him with it and she barely sees him anymore. Of course, he has told her the same he's told Simon, that they're each other's only stability in the ever-changing live they live now and that that's the reason why they're closer than normal best mates, they're family now.
But well, now he thinks, maybe they have all been right, maybe they've gotten carried away a bit lately. They've come so far that even they can't draw a clear line between whatever this is between them anymore. They've gotten so close that it's seemingly getting awkward between them somehow, because that weird moment in the kitchen a few moments ago was awkward, wasn't it?
He doesn't wanna risk their friendship just because they've gotten so used to be around each other. He sure as hell can't go through this without Harry and he might sound a bit sappy but Harry truly does light up his damn world. So yeah, they should most probably turn it down a bit, just a bit though, but not now, not today. Today he needs Harry too much to care about their uncommon closeness.
Louis clears his thoughts when Harry enters the dining room with two plates in his hands. He doesn't say anything as he sets one plate down in front of Louis and takes the other along to his usual chair, across from Louis'. He sits down and they start eating in oppressive silence and Harry thinks, he needs to do something, anything, to ease the tension between them, really. Once he's cleared his plate, he coughs awkwardly to get Louis' attention and asks, "Do you want something to drink?"
Louis is chewing on his last bite before he places his fork and knife down on his cleared plate and looks up at Harry, swallowing eagerly. "Yeah. Yeah, I'd love something to drink, really!" He says equally eagerly when he's finally emptied his mouth, relived that Harry has broken the silence.
"I've promised you tea earlier. Wanna have it now? I'm gonna clean up later. You could make yourself comfortable on the couch and pick out a movie in the meantime. Unless you don't wanna watch a movie anymore?"
"Yeah, I could do that. On one condition, though. You're gonna let me help you clean up later, yeah?" Louis answers warmly.
"Deal!" Harry agrees appreciatively and a smile spreads across his face which might could split it in two. Yeah, he surely is something like sunshine, really.
They both get up simultaneously, smiling at each other, and Harry leaves for the kitchen, taking along their empty plates, and Louis leaves for the living room, grabbing a fluffy blanket out of one of their many walk-in cupboards along the way.
They meet up again only minutes later in the living room, Harry with a steaming mug in each hand and Louis sitting on the couch, rummaging through their box of DVDs and Blu-Rays. Harry approaches him silently, not willing to disturb his concentrated search for the right movie, and just when he's about to bend down to set the mugs down on the coffee table, he stumbles over the blanket Louis has apparently discarded carelessly right there, in front of the coffee table. Harry clumsily tries to steady himself somehow without his currently occupied hands but still spills some tea on Louis' jumper.
"Fuck, I'm sorry. I'm sorry, Lou. Are you all right? Did I scald you?" Harry curses hastily and sets the now half-full mugs down on the coffee table to help Louis who's currently trying to get out of his jumper. Harry grips his sleeves and pulls firmly and together they manage to get the jumper over Louis' head.
"Fuck Harold, what was that?" Louis curses under his breath and wraps his arms around himself to shield his exposed upper body from Harry's view. Harry takes a step back and gulps thickly at the sight of half-naked Louis right in front of him. He lets his eyes wander over his sun-kissed skin, over his sculpted biceps, his slightly muscled chest and his cute little tummy he adores so, so much.
He watches Louis wrapping his arms around himself and realizes that it's already autumn and it's definitely too cold in London to be half-naked, even inside their heated flat. He pulls his own lilac knitted jumper over his head and passes it to Louis.
"Here, put it on. You're shivering. Your hair is still damp and otherwise you're gonna get sick," Harry says thoughtfully, adjusting the black t-shirt he'd been wearing underneath his lilac knitted jumper. "I'm so sorry, Lou. I should've watched where I'm going."
"My fault, Harold, really. I shouldn't have left the blanket on the floor. We all know how clumsy you are. It was bound to happen and I should have seen it coming, shouldn't I?" Louis teases cheekily as he slips into Harry's oversized jumper.
It is so loose on him that it almost comes down to his knees and only his fingertips are peeking out of the sleeves. And Harry thinks, Louis must be the most adorable thing in the world because what could be even more adorable then tiny Louis looking all pliant and soft in his oversized jumper? Nothing at all.
All of a sudden, the buzzing of Louis' phone on the coffee table, where he has discarded it earlier that day, startles Harry out of his reverie. Harry looks down on the phone and sees that it's Hannah who's calling. When the phone stops buzzing, he realizes it's not the first time that she has called. The screen reads 'Hannah Walker - 7 missed calls'.
"It's Hannah," Harry declares coldly.
"I know," Louis says unaffectedly, without looking at his phone, and peeks in the half-full mugs on the coffee table to find the one Harry has made for him.
Harry likes his tea with an obnoxious amount of sugar in it, he actually likes everything a bit sweeter than everyone else. Whereas Louis likes his tea unsweetened with a dash of milk, preferring Yorkshire Tea. Louis grabs the mug with milky tea inside and takes a sip. He wrinkles his nose in disgust because by now the tea's only lukewarm.
"Why don't you answer her calls?" Harry asks curiously, even though he's well aware that it is definitely none of his business.
"Dunno, I just don't fell like talking to her today," he sighs deeply with a shrug of his shoulders. "Nor talking about her. So can we just stop it and watch 'Love Actually' already?"
"Of course," Harry heaves a sigh of relief and plops down on the far left of the couch. To be quite honest, he really doesn't need any details on their relationship, he thinks, he'd not be able to take it when already the mere mention of her names feels like a stab into his heart.
He knows he's kinda pathetic to feel like this because Louis isn't his, he has absolutely no claim on him, other than Hannah. On the contrary, he's Louis' best mate at last and that means he should listen to every detail Louis thinks is worth telling him. He's all the happier that apparently Louis doesn't think it's worth even talking about at all.
Louis gracefully kneels down in front of the TV and loads the movie. When the menu appears on the screen, he seems to be satisfied and gets up again. Harry watches his every move, smiling fondly at him, when he makes towards him and stops in front of the couch, looking down at him expectantly. Harry gets the message within seconds and opens his arms widely and spreads his legs just as far apart as necessary for Louis to fit in between them.
They smirk contentedly at each other for a minute before Louis settles himself in between Harry's long legs. His last growth spurt has totally done itself justice and left him with immensely long limbs he yet has to learn to control which just adds up to his already existing clumsiness. Which, Louis thinks, is quite adorable, to be perfectly honest.
Louis gingerly cuddles into Harry's chest and Harry hesitates a moment before he wraps one arm around Louis' waist and places his hand down on his tummy. Louis leans slightly forward to grab the remote and presses play to start the movie, then he curls into Harry's chest again and rest his hand on Harry's bare underarm which sends chills up and down Harry's spine.
"Shit, you must be freezing," Louis notices caringly as he feels Harry shivering and reaches for the discarded blanket. He awkwardly throws it over them and pulls it up until most of Harry's bare arms are covered.
"Nah, I'm fine but thanks anyway," Harry says fondly when Louis is settled back in his arms again, stroking up and down his underarms, apparently as an attempt to warm him up faster. Louis doesn't reply, though, just keeps stroking his underarms lightly and fixing his eyes on the flickering TV screen.
Harry, however, just feigns interest in the movie as his mind is revolving only around LouisLouisLouis. Louis in his clothes, Louis in his arms, Louis in his head and his heart, Louis everywhere, really.
It's not that he's not contented with Louis' choice, quite the opposite actually, they both love 'Love Actually' and Louis' choice could have been much worse. It's just that Harry can't seem to concentrate on anything other than the boy curled up into his chest. Louis' body is warm and soft, pressed against his own. He looks down at him and the light of the TV illuminates half of his face and he looks almost angelic. He sees the older boy's eyes droop occasionally, he must be entirely exhausted from their long day of rehearsals, signings and interviews, plus his breakdown from earlier tonight. He watches fondly as Louis nuzzles further into his chest.
"You rather wanna go to bed, boo?" Harry asks softly, repeatedly running his hands through Louis' now dry and feathery chestnut hair.
"Nah, I'm not tired at all," Louis lies badly and makes Harry chuckle affectionately as Louis weakly props himself up on his arms to sit up straight for a moment before he collapses back into Harry's arms.
Harry slightly lifts up his arms from around him to let him find a comfortable position. They both freeze instantly when Louis is settled comfortably against Harry's chest again and Harry lowers his hand but instead on his scratchy lilac knitted jumper his hand lands on Louis' exposed tummy, palm flat against the soft and warm skin slightly beneath his belly button. Obviously the oversized jumper must have rucked up in the process of finding a comfortable position, apparently completely unnoticed by Louis as he's as grown stiff as Harry himself right now.
Harry makes no move to withdraw his hand from Louis' tummy. He's just too shocked about the sudden contact until Louis wraps his hand around Harry's wrist and pulls on it harshly. Louis really doesn't want Harry to feel the bulge that is his tummy, he doesn't want him to feel the wobbly fat there. Harry lifts his hand reluctantly and watches Louis backing away from him and curling into himself insecurely on the opposite side of the couch, eyes once more fixed on the TV screen.
"I'm sorry, Lou. I didn't mean to... touch you," Harry apologizes reverently but Louis doesn't respond at all. "Lou?" Harry tries again and scoots over hesitantly. Louis has his knees pulled up to his chest, his arms tightly wrapped around and his chin rested on them. Harry leans forward and sees Louis' wide and terrified eyes. "Did you hear me, Lou? I'm sorry, I didn't mean it."
Once again no reaction, therefore Harry gently places a hand on his shoulder as a soothing gesture and startles the older boy unambiguously. Harry knows Louis well enough to know that he needs to give Louis some space, some time to sort out whatever is bothering him right now. He knows Louis won't tell him when he's not ready and he obviously isn't. He also knows him well enough to know that he's not good at revealing his feelings. Harry thinks, that he might think it's weak and since he's the oldest of the band, he needs to be strong, so he rather bottles his feelings up. Furthermore Harry thinks, that Louis would never admit to anyone that he needs help, on the one hand because he doesn't want to bother anyone with his 'insignificant' problems, as he classifies them, and on the other hand because he simply doesn't want to be dependent on anyone. Yeah, Harry thinks, Louis is quite the independent person. The only thing that bothers Harry is that he may have been the trigger for the status quo.
He backs away from Louis nonetheless and gets up from the couch reluctantly, grabbing the forgotten mugs from the coffee table to put them in the dishwasher along with the remaining dishes from their dinner. Louis has craned his head slightly to watch Harry's every move.
"Where are you going?" Louis asks quietly as Harry's about to leave the living room.
"I'm gonna load the dishwasher and then I'm off to bed, I guess," Harry answers warily and turns round to shoot a glance at Louis. Louis remains silent until Harry again starts edging his way towards the kitchen door after a few minutes of hesitation.
"Don't go!" Louis states quietly, almost inaudibly. So quietly, actually, that Harry couldn't have heard it clearly from across the room.
"What?" Harry stops again and looks at Louis over his shoulder, his head craned comically wide.
"Please, don't go!" Louis repeats feebly, pleadingly. "I don't want you to leave. Please, stay!" Louis lets go of his knees and his feet slip down the edge of the couch, landing on the floor with a loud thud. Louis looks hopefully at Harry as he pads the spot next to him on the couch.
"Ok, yeah, I'll stay. I'm just gonna load these in the dishwasher and then I'll be right back. Will you tell me what's bothering you then?" Harry speaks calmly, raising his hands with the half-full mugs and Louis nods approvingly.
Minutes later Harry sits down next to Louis and they keep awfully silent for a while, both of them staring at the TV screen, where the movie's ended by now, with their hands folded in their laps. When Louis doesn't make a move to talk, Harry clears his throat and turns towards Louis, cross-legged.
"So?" He asks cautiously.
"It's just when we had that short breather in between the signing and the interview, I went on Twitter and I bitterly regret having done that, really. I know I shouldn't take it to heart and not anyone does like me or us or whatever but I can't turn a blind eye on something I know is true," Louis admits hoarsely, without averting his eyes from the TV screen.
"It's still about what they've said to you on Twitter earlier then, yeah? Nothing I've done wrong?"
"Of course, it's nothing you've done wrong," Louis confirms confidently and turns his head towards Harry to look him in the eyes for the first time since their little 'incident'.
"Why don't you tell me what they've said? Let me help you, Louis, please!"
"They said my tummy is fat and flabby and my ass is too girly, that I don't fit with the four of you. They're right, Harry. It's ok, I know they are but it must be patently obvious if even they can see it. I honestly have never thought it'd be that bad but it's ok, I'll get over it eventually. It just let me a bit shell-shocked, I guess."
"That's why you freaked out when I, when I touched you then?"
"You don't need to feel my flabby paunch, do you? It's disgusting. I don't want you to feel disgusted by me, Haz!" Louis laughs bitterly and lowers his head in shame.
Harry can't believe what he has just heard, can't believe Louis actually believes what he has just said. He can't let Louis put himself down like this, he needs to make him see how stunningly beautiful he truly is. He can't believe their 'fans' actually call him that. Whether they like him or not but haven't they had a close enough look at him to see his radiant beauty. He highly doubts it if they are serious about the things they've called him.
"Louis," Harry says ever so softly, placing his hand on Louis' knee closest to him and squeezing lightly. He's not sure if he can find the right words to make Louis understand how wrong they all are but most importantly that he could never, not even in a million years, be disgusted by him. "What the hell are you talking about? Look at you, you're stunningly beautiful. Your little tummy and your girly ass are two of my favorite things on you, they're adorable. Can't you see that you're perfect just the way you are? And there's so much more wonderful about you, you have such a outstanding personality. You care and love so much, you have the biggest heart. You're gorgeous, Lou. Don't you see?" Harry is forced to pause his little rant when he feels his lungs running out of air, breathing rapidly now that he's stopped talking. He gently cups Louis face with his massive hands and draws a deep breath. He's not finished yet.
"I want you to know that I could never, not even in a million years, be disgusted by you. Shit Lou, I don't think I've ever seen, let alone known someone more perfect than you are."
If Louis didn't have tears in his eyes after Harry's first rant, he definitely has tears in his eyes now. He blinks rapidly to choke back his tears. Harry's still there, even after he's revealed himself to him. He's right here, in front of him, stroking his thumbs along his prominent cheekbones and looks at him with teary green eyes.
"Don't cry, Lou, please. I can't stand seeing you cry," Harry whispers breathlessly, caressing Louis' cheeks and thumbs away a few tears that have escaped Louis' eyes. His eyes are still glassy from crying but that only makes them more stunning. They're shining in an even brighter cerulean blue now, almost blinding as they reflect the flickering light of the TV screen. They just stare at each other, the only sound in the room is their steady breathing and the faint background music of the movie menu.
Harry's caught up in Louis' eyes. He feels his heartbeat getting faster and the blood throbbing in his veins as he feels a magnetic pull towards Louis who hasn't moved since Harry's last words. He's still trying to process everything that has happened today and that Harry's still there, after all of it, and he's looking at him with such a sincerity, that he's sure he'll stay at his side, no matter what. He feels a fresh wave of tears welling up in his eyes but this time they're tears of joy and happiness. Harry is something like sunshine, even on his darkest days.
Louis closes his eyes tightly to stop the new tears from spilling. He doesn't wanna give Harry a false impression and he's so sick and tired of crying. When he opens his eyes, Harry's face is only inches away from his, their noses almost touching. He can feel Harry's warm breath on his face and sees the leftover tears in his breathtakingly green eyes, they're so close that they're even breathing in the same air.
And then Harry closes his eyes and contorts his face with something like pain. He's struggling with his by now bounded rationality, he knows that he shouldn't give in to his feelings, he should think with his head and not with his heart. His heart apparently has other ideas since he feels like he can't fight against the magnetic pull anymore. His skin is hot and tingling all over, like thousands upon thousands ants under his skin.
He clutches Louis' face tighter and opens his eyes again, once more meeting Louis' cerulean blue one's. He knows there's nothing he can do anymore, he's lost the fight against his heart long before. It was merely a matter of time.
So he leans in and bravely places his lips on Louis' thin but soft pinkish lips, closing his eyes once again. He doesn't move, nor does Louis. They just feel each other and let the electricity between them do their work, connecting them in a way they've both never been connected with anyone else before which leaves Louis thoroughly overwhelmed and terrified, all at once.
Then Harry starts moving his lips soft and gentle against Louis' and Louis doesn't know what to do. He tilts his head slightly and lets their lips mould together. Harry's right hand wanders from his cheek into his hair and grabs a strand of hair tightly, passionately even, as if to hold him in place, as if he's afraid Louis would come to his senses and run away any minute. Louis moans quietly as Harry's grip in his hair tightens and the tingling sensation sends a shiver down his spine.
Louis' hands furiously reaches for something to hold on to, something to ground him from the floating feeling in the pit of his stomach and he, all of a sudden, starts realizing what he's doing here. Yeah, what the hell is he doing here? He has a girlfriend, for fuck's sake, and he's straight and here he is, passionately kissing his best mate. It needs to stop, he needs to stop.
He abruptly stops moving his lips against Harry's and his body tenses up before he reaches out both his hands, places them on Harry's chest and forcefully pushes him away. He jumps to his feet, takes one step back and looks down at Harry, both panting heavily with swollen red lips.
Then it hits Louis, he has cheated on his girlfriend and ruined the best friendship he's ever had. Harry doesn't say a word but he looks just as overwhelmed and terrified as Louis who's now slowly edging his way towards the stairs. Harry's eyes follow his every move. He knows he should apologize, should tell Louis it was nothing, just a stupid mistake but it wasn't and he knows it and he isn't going to lie. Louis has kissed him back and that has to mean something, doesn't it?