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There Were So Many Sunflowers

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Hello! My name is J, and to be very frank and clear, I am back on this platform after many years of abandoning it. I have just recently been getting back into the groove of reading fantastic, absolutely gut-wrenchingly brilliant fanfiction and other works done by incredibly talented young authors. Never have I felt more inspired to write again, it’s been about three years I should say. I remember my Wattpad days, as you would. The covers I’d create for my numerous and numerous works, and how bad the content of them would be. I feel like I’m writing as though I’m now this old wise owl looking back at her toddler self. So much has happened, huh? It DOES feel like years ago Zayn Malik left One Direction, so close to home when the band really fell apart. I don’t personally wish they make a comeback. They’re so grown now, and I feel like I grew with them. Which is why I wanted to address a lot of the books on this platform about this band. 

I don’t like it when someone is described as a “green-eyed boy.” We get it, saying “he” all the time gets confusing and repetitive. But nothing sounds more juvenile. 

I don’t like it when a person that exists in real life ends up being a very shallow antagonist. There is always a reason as to why a person is an antagonist. I don’t want to read anything that the original person would hate to read about themselves in any negative setting. It makes me uncomfortable, as though we are taking an already existing name and face and attaching it to something vile. There must always be a string of events that led them to become so nasty. I must write as though I want Simon Cowell to be touched in my avatar of him being a murderous psychopath. You see what I mean? 

What’s sad is, everytime I scroll through a certain tag, my mind instinctively goes to so many criteria factors and places. How many words does it have? How many tags? How many hits? I end up with a fantastic novel with 30,000 words a chapter, slowly burning a hole in my mattress as I sink deeper and deeper. So many of these fantastic and alive stories I wish I had the capability to write myself. I began to wonder what my perfect story would be like. What kind of world I’d create, who would love who and who would die. I have finally come to the conclusion that it really doesn’t matter the hits, tags, words. I must create a compelling narrative, filled with people that others want to read about, filled with heartaches that people want to feel. 

This is a story about Zayn Malik, a man of no talents. He’s not a singer, or an artist, or a poor boy, or a rich boy. He’s not fully out, but also not fully closeted. He’s beautiful, but never in a way that anyone could describe. He walks four miles every morning to help out on a ranch owned by a special old man, who tells him wonderful fictitious tales of conquest, power, and strength. It never occurred to Zayn that the old man had any relatives, until a striking figure enters, the old man’s nephew, fresh and seasoned like a lost love coming back from war.  

So here it is. I dedicate this story to my beautiful, beautiful friend Aisha. Trust me Ash, this band is long dead, but here I am recovering its soul as a historian would about a fiery love affair of a Beatle and Justin Timberlake. I hope I do you proud. 


 

The cottage was getting increasingly hot as the days passed. The spring mornings, crisp and fluid, were now almost simmering. The sun was a round and even stove, roasting the ground and all in between. Zayn could understand the uneasiness of feeling like he was always upside down, like the world was upside down. He got up in his bed as the sun burned his forehead, and immediately blinked at the brightness of his bedroom. He inhaled deeply, a bit overwhelmed, for he thought in that first moment of the day that he was on the ceiling. He exhaled, gingerly shifting himself. His toes touched the ground and he almost gasped into it, heels following suit. He stared at his feet for a moment, but jumped when the door slammed loudly.

He began to shake, his heart shaking as fast as his hands, looking up to realize that it was because he left the window open again. Of course he did. Silly Zayn. “It’s just the wind slamming the door shut, you knob.” Zayn whispered to himself, and finally propelled himself off of his mattress. He immediately realized his discomfort throughout the next inhale, feeling the heat of the air thickly entering his lungs. The day was so quiet in this town, the nights nearly dead silent. He stretched widely, cotton tunic slipping around his body like a dry cat’s tongue, the material heady and well worn. He quickly got dressed and slipped out the front door, running into the flattened path of the forest. 

He knows he should’ve eaten breakfast as his mother tells him to, but Zayn was never very good at listening. He keeps running, the sunlight in front of him illuminating each bug and twig like a dark blemish on a corn yellow sky. Now he could really feel it, the sticky chapped nature of his lips, sweat gliding down his back and thighs, he swallowed and his mouth was dry. 

But he didn’t stop until he reached the ranch, as he has always done for so many years, it felt like it became the only thing he knew for sure. You wake up and run. Run along this path that has changed meaning for you every summer it survived. You sweat some days, you shiver others. It was the one thing that never changed in Zayn’s life. 

Finally reaching the ranch door, he stepped up onto the porch in the same exact places he did every morning. This way, he’d hear the same exact creaks of the same exact floorboards, and the door pushed open with his elbows. 

“Good morning, my boy.” A voice rung so gnarled and wrung out pierced the wind and silence. Zayn stopped and turned to his side, a giant smile immediately stretching his face as he saw the old man sitting on his usual armchair, smoking a pipe. “Wash your face. There’s porridge on the stove, the stables need mucking today and we need to pull the berries out as the birds got to them.” Zayn nodded as the old man lifted his eyebrow, almost like a question of assurance that Zayn felt up to the tasks. Zayn languidly shuffled to the back door of the house, stepping down into the property. He breathed again and giggled a bit, the chickens were jumping all around the front of the yard as the kittens chased them about. He made a bee-line for the well, throwing the bucket down and rolling it back up, heaving as the dehydration and exhaustion slowly made him nauseous. When the bucket finally came up, he grabbed it and splashed his face, rubbing the water all around his neck and ears, just like his mother taught him to. “The girls will never go for a boy attracting flies,” she would chide, harshly rubbing a damp washcloth across his face until the skin began to go red. “But then again, my jaan will live clean and healthy, meet a girl who wouldn’t care what he smelled like as long as she could stare at his face forever.” The daily compliment would bring the blood back to Zayn’s face, preening on the small stool as his mother lovingly worked on her creation. She’d clean his eyes and eyelashes, and help him wash his hair with homemade soap. 

Clank. Zayn poured the remaining water into the pig’s troughs, softly smiling at his days as a child, wide eyed and unbelievably clueless. The days when his mother, who smelled of roses and freshly cut carrots were his whole world and sunshine only surrounded them. But those days were long behind him. He trudged over in the old man’s boots to the stables, where farmhand Liam was dozed off by the door. His feet were up on a pile of hay and his straw hat covering his face. Zayn bit his lip, standing awkwardly for a moment. Then he mustered enough courage to tap the farmhand’s shoulder. 

“Ugh, it’s too bloody hot to do any bloody work,” Liam moaned, lifting his straw hat with his lazy arm and getting mildly shocked at Zayn, who was patiently waiting for him to get out of the doorway. “Oh, it’s just you. Hi Zayn.” 

“S-sorry,” Zayn stuttered, getting wildly nervous for no good reason. “It’s just that I have to, I have to muck.” he swallowed deeply, and Liam gave him an odd look before stretching across the chair and jumping onto his feet (movement that also startled Zayn). 

“Yeah, yeah of course.” Liam muttered, rubbing his curly brown hair that nearly reached his shoulders. It poofed out horizontally from the sides and vertically from the top which made it look like Liam’s face was the sun. Zayn quite liked Liam, he wasn’t mean to him. Liam shifted him and the chair out of Zayn’s way, watching the guy scamper into the stables towards the shovels. “Hm.” Liam pondered vaguely. He then shrugged, reaching underneath his shirt to scratch at his stomach and began walking towards the smell of breakfast wafting from the house. 

It wasn’t that Zayn was afraid of Liam. They’d known each other for a good four years now, and was mutually not surprised by each other’s existences thus far. They would do the chores side by side. When the day’s work was over, they’d both sit down at the old man’s dining table, scarfing down fresh butchered chicken and baked bread as the old man would yap on about the newest story he dreamed about. Zayn was just very quiet, and everyone knew Zayn was quiet. Didn’t talk much, but was fair and dependable. You didn’t need to be more than that in this part of the world. 

As for Liam, he found Zayn to be very strange. He himself made some money doing the daily chores at the ranch, but Zayn never accepted a penny. While this job was convenient for Liam as he lived ten minutes walk west, Zayn lived four miles away and would still arrive early. Sometimes earlier than Liam. He moved like a mouse and acted like one too. Liam never heard anything about his family or Alpha or lack thereof. A skinny, silent mystery that wasn’t bad to look at. Every now and then Liam would be ashamed that that was all their friendship was despite having known each other for a considerable amount of time. 

Zayn hoed at the ground, pulling each dried strawberry plant root by root and turning the soil over. He soaked the ground after collecting all the plants, stomping them down and tossing them into the compost bin. He worked as hard as he could until his brow was wet and his eyes went fuzzy, for that’s all he knew. Pretty quickly, all the jobs were done and the sun began to turn warmer, enveloped into strings of blue and pink, slowly inching a goodbye. 

“Zayn!” The old man shouted from the back door. “Stop staring at the sunset and come in for supper.” Zayn dropped the hoe and obediently walked towards the back porch, slipping easily of the rubber boots and rinsed his hands in the pail of water by the door. Liam was already inside, yawning and lazily sipping a beer. He watched as Zayn held the door open for the kittens and only closed it when all were inside. 

“Wipe yourself off and change.” Old man barked at the two of them, throwing two wet rags in their respective directions before turning back to whatever was happening on the stove. 

Zayn began to wipe at his dirt smocked face, and walked into a separate room whilst already peeling away his shirt. In a short second, Liam saw a giant scar entrenching the greater half of Zayn’s torso. When the bedroom door shut, he quickly turned back to the old man. 

“How come Zayn comes around every day?” He asked with newfound curiosity, wiping his own face and dusting off his trousers. “He don’t gotta job?” 

“He doesn’t have a job,” The old man corrected, flicking Liam’s uneducated head and tutting. “Four years and now you have questions?” He tutted again and Liam peered into the pot, hot and steamy Chicken and Dumplings. Everyone’s favorite. 

“He got that big scar on his belly, and don’t talk at all,” Liam purposefully degenerated his grammar, fully knowing that the old man fixed that of him years ago with painful swats to the head every time he’d utter a sentence. “Does he have an Alpha or come from a rich family, so he doesn’t need to work?” Liam automatically straightened his words as soon as the old man gave him a stink eye. 

“Boy has no family, and no work. So don’t you go around telling the whole town that there’s an unmated and orphaned omega popping in every day. You leave Zayn be. He’s still a bit quiet about what happened.” The old man handed Liam a bowl of soup, beckoning to place it on the table along with spoons and forks. “I promised his mama that I’d take care of him. Now that you know, you keep your mouth shut and promise his mama too…”

“Aw shit, no more of that “I’m going to die soon” nonsense--OW!” Liam scrunched his face up when the old man hit him for the language. “But yeah, yeah. Okay. I promise.” 

“Best thing that ever happened to this town, Zayn’s mama. Everyone who remembered her is now withering in their graves, but we all knew to take care of her babies.” The old man grunted as he sat down at the head of the table. “It doesn’t matter how long it takes. Someone will always need to be there for him. Do you understand?” Liam nodded at this, and glued his mouth shut as Zayn came back out of the door, freshly bathed and pink still in his cheeks. Like a mouse, he sat down in between Liam and the old man, quietly putting his hands together as grace and then quietly picking his spoon up, starting the daily trudge of food meeting mouth. After a few bites, he looked back up to the old man with his large, doe-like eyes and pleaded without words, the recipient immediately understanding him. “You want a story?” Zayn nodded. 

“Okay. Hmm, see I’ve been giving this one a lot of thought. But I think I’ll talk about Annabella,” he said and Liam snorted. “Back when this town was still young, I built my family home with my father, and day by day, as we laid down plank by plank, there was another family right next door doing the same exact thing. There was this girl with big arms and had all her skirts tied around her legs, carrying the wood and stones up, holding all of them as her daddy glued and placed each and every one. It went on like this for a long time, until my father realized that our houses were getting too close to each other. ‘Build yours more to the right!’ he’d say to the girl’s daddy. ‘Build YOURS to the left!’ he would yell back. It went on like this for days and days, until an entire season passed.” The old man theatrically moved his arms around and about, signaling streets and weather with his fingertips. 

“So what happened in the end?” Liam asked with his mouth full. Zayn nodded in agreement to that question. 

“Well, finally none of our mamas could take it anymore. They met during the day, when they were baking the breads and dollying the laundry, and set for me and that girl to meet.” 

“Why?” Zayn asked in a sweet voice, but it was intrinsically sweet, not forced. 

“They wanted us to get married so that the houses could just connect!” The old man and Liam roared with laughter, but Zayn still seemed confused. “When my mama buttoned me down in my Sunday best on a Tuesday, I knew something was wrong. When we all met, the girl was also in her Sunday best and we looked ridiculous. The rouge on her face reached her forehead and her lips looked like she was a clown. I swore I would never marry such an ugly and thick girl.I pointed and laughed at her like a monkey.” The old man shook his head, like he knew what an idiot he was. 

“What happened then?” Zayn asked. The old man pushed Zayn’s bowl closer, as a beckon to eat more before he continued with the story. Zayn complied, shoveling the last four spoonfuls into his mouth. Liam smiled from behind. 

“She kicked me. Ran away crying, and I swear that was the hardest beating my mother ever switcheled down on my poor bottom. Later that week, I went down to the plains and picked a whole bunch of sunflowers to say sorry for being so mean. When the girl saw me, she was the one who laughed.” The old man picked his bowl up and slurped the rest of the contents, burping in satisfaction. “She said it was all a trick. Purposefully painted her face like a clown all so her mama didn’t force her to go on an outing with me. She never wanted to marry such a skinny and ugly boy like me.” Liam nearly spit out all his food snickering in the background. “But you know what’s so funny? That day in the plains, when we got up and close, she was a lot more fair than I thought she was. Her hair was so golden and shiny. Her dress so clean and starched. ‘What a cunning person,’ I thought. Here she was, half my size and twice the strength. I chased after her for three more years after that.” 

Zayn smiled as though he was warming by the fire on a cold winter’s day. “Did you get married?” He asked enthusiastically, sipping his own beer and feeling the pink behind his cheeks grow stronger. 

“Took about five more years chasing after her. She finally agreed, and we broke down the walls of our houses and built to connect them.” The old man smiled, shooing Liam to pick up all the dishes. “This was her mama’s dining table. That’s her mama’s stove, and these are my papa’s chairs. We’re all connected, all helping each other past our lives. That is why we are here in this world, Zayn.” He pinched Zayn’s cheek lovingly. “To help and love one another even if you don’t know them at all. Spent fifty-eight years with Annie. It feels like it all went by so fast, since she worked so quickly that it seemed so.” 

“I’m heading out,” Liam took his hat off and bowed slightly at the old man, who dropped a few coins in his hand and showed him out the door. “See you Monday.” He looked at Zayn, who nodded. 

“Alright Zayn, let’s take you home.” The old man led Zayn out to his Ford car, starting it and driving towards the cottage. As they sped down the dirt roads, Zayn looked out on his right, where there was a rich forest. He looked to his left, and there were the plains. The fireflies illuminated his imagination; of the old man and Annabella running through the fields, playing a game of tag through the thick walls of sunflowers. He sneaked a small smile. When they finally arrived to the familiar cottage, Zayn slipped out and closed the door. 

“Thank you Mr. Selley.” He spoke, and the old man smiled while shaking his head, turning around to go back home. 


 

It was the next morning. Zayn woke up, realizing quickly how hot his room was, and rushed to open the window before he fell faint again. Today was a Sunday, which meant no work at the ranch and time to clean his entire house. He yawned and stretched, splashed his face with water from the nearby communal well, and headed out with a basket towards the forest. He knew that on Sunday, the old man went to church for several hours and refused any chores to be done. Zayn didn’t really understand why, but it probably had something to do with the fact that he didn’t understand God and what it meant. So on Sunday, he cleans his house, counts his coins, and gathers food from the forest. Inside his basket he always carried a gun, his Baba’s gun, and a small knife. He walked through the same flattened road of the forest. He plucked the mushrooms that he sowed into the bark of fallen trees last winter, digging up edible roots, medicinal herbs, and berries along his way. When he found a rabbit, he shot it. When he saw pretty flowers, he picked them, smiling to himself. He even began to skip up the mountains towards the large river, where he knew there would be trout breeding. 

The day was scorching and unforgiving, for every fifteen minutes he had to stop and take off his hat, the breeze cooling his sweaty head of hair and would fan himself in the shade under a rock or tree. As he journeyed, he pondered again about God, as he did every Sunday. Did God build this mountain? Build the sun? The ground that was cooking his feet? Hours went by, the trudgings of his feet nearly jumped in joy when he heard the sound of running water, and was immediately hit with a gust of cold river air. He huffed a final time before dragging himself to the river side, cupping the icy water to his face and down his throat. He unwrapped the bandana around his throat and used it as a washcloth, cleaning his neck and head of the sweat that the walk had accumulated. After about half an hour lazily dipping his sore feet into the river, he heard bushes rustle behind him. Zayn gasped softly, immediately beginning to shake in fear. A boar? Even worse, a bear? He wiped his feet and slipped his shoes back on, running behind a large rock with basket in tow. He trembled as he watched the bushes for any movement again. Suddenly, the cause, heavily leaped out of the bushes, making Zayn cower and shut his eyes. 

“H-help!” 

It was a man. 

“I’ve been shot, please, I know someone’s there, please I’ve been shot, I need a hospital I need a hospital--” Zayn looked back up and saw a tall man dragging himself towards the footprints he left behind. His right leg was soaked in blood, a large arrow sticking right out of it and the man was pale and sweaty. Large locks stuck to his white forehead, and his lips were blue. Zayn closed his eyes again, breathing deeply before coming from his hiding place. The man looked up, and Zayn met his eyes. They looked blown out and extremely shocked, the man tried to lift himself up to meet his potential savior. 

“Were you wandering in the woods, sir?” It was practically a whisper, but Zayn could automatically tell who shot the man and why. A hunting accident. No doubt. No one used a bow and arrow except for deer. 

“What? I can-I can’t hear you.” The man’s body gave up, back hitting the stones of the river’s edge with a loud thump, and he fluttered his eyes shut. Zayn began to panic. He knelt down over the man, staring at the blood gushing from his leg, and bit his lip. He needed to stop the bleeding, and looked around frantically. The white sheet that he lined his basket in should do it. He quickly roped the man’s leg over the sheet and tied it swiftly and forcefully above his wound, the pressure making the man’s eyes shoot wide open in pain and he screamed. Zayn whimpered at the sound, dropping everything and covering his ears. 

“Fuck!” The man screamed, making Zayn jump and nearly start crying. When the victim noticed, he looked at Zayn’s face. “Fuck, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, please help me, please,” he blabbered again, looking even more gray than before. Zayn grimaced and nodded, breaking the half of the arrow that went straight through his leg. He shifted the man’s body over and with his breath held, yanked the other side right out. The man ripped a gut-wrenching scream once more, but when Zayn securely tied the knot over the gaping hole in his leg, his face seemed to recognize a sliver of relief, eyes closing again. 

“Water,” Zayn whispered, scared out of his mind. He had never seen this much blood before. He dragged the man to the river, cupping water into his palms and dumping it on top of the man’s mouth. With his bandana, he cleaned the man’s face and pushed his thick hair back, revealing the alls of his face. Zan had never seen such a face with no blemishes, liver spots, not even chapped from the sun. His skin was smooth, forehead was wide, and nose perfectly placed in the center of his face. “Sir, sir,” he whispered, like a siren call. The man opened his eyes, nearly pitch black from how blown out they were, and the man coughed. Zayn helped him sit back up, nesting the bad leg against his torso for support. 

“Thank you, thank you.” The man spoke again with a waver in his voice, and Zayn automatically recognized it. 

Alpha. He was an alpha. A lost, foreign alpha. 

“What’s your name?” The man asked, clearing his throat and rubbing at his chest, still looking disheveled beyond belief (and yet still cloyingly handsome). Zayn studied his clothes, which were richly dyed and ironed, such fine creases in his pants and an expensive shirt! On his wrist he wore a watch--covered in his blood--and his shoes were a polished leather. This man was a city man. That’s why he got lost in the forest. He went off of the path and got shot accidentally by a couple of young boys and they ran off scared as all hell. Probably. Over the mountain laid the city. Zayn knew. Liam would talk about it. 

“My name is Zayn.” Zayn finally croaked out, a bit frightened, still holding onto the man’s injured leg. He felt submissive and weak under this man’s voice and skin, and although injured, his aura was slicing through Zayn like he was powerless under his spell. 

“My name is Harry.” The man breathed out as he exhaled, and it was so soft even Zayn thought it quiet. But he heard it, he did. The man’s name was Harry. The city man’s name was Harry. Harry groaned as he sat up further, the color in his cheeks coming back and his hair was beginning to dry from the wind. 

When he sat up, his torso was almost twice the height of Zayn’s. His legs were slender and long, and when he silently tried to stand up, Zayn grabbed his hand and yanked him forwards. Harry’s hands were soft, and for a moment, Zayn felt embarrassed to be rubbing his calloused ones against them. “H-How far is the town?” Harry asked Zayn, who reached down for his basket and they began to walk together. “The town on the border of plains and forest. I can’t remember its name for the life of me.” 

“The only shortcut is through the forest, but there are no paths so we can get mistaken for prey.” Zayn informed Harry, who looked like it solved all his life’s questions. “The proper way is down the mountain, but it takes me hours. We have to wait until sunset when they stop coming out into the forest to hunt.” He was so heavy, leaning against Zayn’s small body as they clumsily trudged onto a fallen tree to properly rest. 

“How long until the sun sets?” Harry made eye contact with Zayn again. Zayn had never seen green eyes before in his life. Not only that, he never makes eye contact with anyone, so he quickly looked away instinctively before answering, “An hour or a little longer. I have to re-dress your wound.” The river was still only a couple of feet away, so Zayn quickly untied the sheet on Harry’s leg and ran to wash the blood out, wringing it expediently and rushing back to Harry. With the medicinal herbs in his basket, he slapped and ground them up with his hands and pressed it to the hole, re-tying the extremely tight knot around his leg. It wasn’t until the contact with Harry’s body stopped that he realized his hands were shaking. 

“Are you all right?” City alpha man tried making eye contact with him again. Zayn looked down. City alpha man--Harry touched his chin and rose it, and Zayn automatically knew he was inspecting his face. He turned a bright scarlet and looked back down again. 

“I’m quite alright. You’re the one bleeding out, sir.” Harry’s hand traveled to Zayn’s neck and he stiffened. Harry was ghosting his fingertips over his Omega Spot, and Zayn moved away. 

“Sorry, this must be hard for you. I can’t be light.” Harry said in a tone of realization; of who Zayn was, of his current situation, of their current situation. “Do you live in the town?” Zayn nodded. Harry bit his lip, wishing the sun would set quicker. “When we make it back, I’ll be sure to repay you.” Zayn said nothing. Harry muttered, “If we make it back.” 

“We’ll make it back...H-Harry. We will.” Zayn looked at him and weakly smiled. This had been the most frightening day of his life. 

“I didn’t know that there were regular hunts. I didn’t know that there was a path. I’m quite sorry that we’re in this situation,” Harry continued, “May I ask how old you are, Zayn?” 

“I-I just turned twenty.” Zayn replied, having gotten the courage to receive eye contact once more. 

“So did I.” Harry laughed softly. “You look so young, but your scent was so--” he paused, thinking of his word choices. “Mature.” 

“I get that quite a bit,” Zayn said looking at the sun, wondering how long it would be until they didn’t need to talk anymore. 

“Are you mated?” Harry asked Zayn, who frowned at him and quickly shook his head. “Judging by your reaction, there is no one in the picture?” A head shake of a no again. 

To Harry, this wasn’t the most frightening day of his life. Sure, he’d been shot right through with an arrow, but there was always a silver lining to things. In this case, the pretty omega who just saved him. 

“The sun is setting, Mr. Harry.” Zayn spoke even though they were of the same age. Harry stumbled as he stood up, leaning against Zayn’s smaller frame. “It’s Harry Styles. I’m from London.” 

“My name is Zayn M...Malik. From Suraj Mukhi. If we go this way, it’ll take us maybe an hour or two to get to the driving road.” 

As they began their trek through the thick forest, Zayn felt numb. He wasn’t sure if this was all a dream. Harry Styles’ scent was powerful, more powerful than any Alpha he’d ever met, and it made his body feel funny. Every time Harry spoke, his ears would ring and his neck would stiffen. But it also made him feel extremely warm inside, like millions of fireflies in his heart. He was still frightened, no doubt, but felt very safe. Harry seemed, although his appearance convinced the opposite, very trustworthy. Zayn just couldn’t place as to why. Harry joked about the dead rabbit in Zayn’s basket. Zayn led the heavy Alpha through the forest, avoiding fallen tree trunks and kicking away the snakes as they came. The forest was Zayn’s home, and he knew exactly where to go. 

The sun was long gone by the time they made it to the main road. All cars usually stopped going places by Suppertime, as the village folk got ready for night with their families. Zayn dragged Harry all the way to his cottage without stopping. He never thought he’d have to become a human leg crutch, but here he was, letting a complete stranger into his home. What knows what this stranger might do? A weak, vulnerable omega living alone, miles away from everyone else. But Zayn continued onward, as something within him told him that he must. 


 

Zayn, without any hesitation, moved to remove Harry’s trousers. The latter was a little weirded out at first, but let him do it, and Zayn quickly covered that part with a blanket as he removed the white sheet around the wound as well. With a red face, he rushed towards the kitchen and boiled a huge pot of water. He promptly discarded the white sheet, and ran towards the closet with the linens and boiled them until thoroughly disinfected. Although he was trying not to be rude in someone else’s home, the exhaustion took over and Harry sank into Zayn’s bed. Zayn hung out the linens on a clean rod, and he began to clean off the wound. He then boiled salt with water and soaked some linens in that as well, waiting until it cooled before applying them with clean hands. Skillfully wrapping a thick layer of dry linen around his leg, he finished the tie off with a bow. He will need to re-do all of it tomorrow, as he needed to continue the salt treatment until the tissue began to grow back. Thankfully, there were no punctured bones or arteries. Zayn didn’t know what he would’ve done if that was the case. 

After five rounds of running back and forth to the well for more freshwater, the last pot boiled away at the stove, the wood fire underneath leading smoke out of the chimney. As the night cooled, the house became warm. He lit the oil lamps on the walls. Within the last pot, he boiled vegetables and numerous herbs that he knew had some sort of benefit, ladling the finished broth into a mug and bringing it to the handsome stranger. 

Never before had his own bedroom feel so foreign, as though he was intruding in someone else’s house and walking around under someone else’s roof. He silently sat by the edge of his head, and whilst licking his lips in contemplation, Harry’s eyes shot open. 

“Here,” Zayn blurted out, hoping Harry didn’t know that he was staring at his sleeping face. Groaning, Harry willed himself up, touching his aching head and looking at his leg with a scowl. When he turned to Zayn and saw the cup of steaming something, his face softened. 

“Thank you.” Harry responded, sipping silently as Zayn stared, saying nothing. Oh yeah, nothing about this situation was awkward.

Chapter Text

“When I was very young,” Harry started as Zayn changed the wet cloth on his forehead for a fresh, new one. Zayn bit his lip nervously and nodded. Harry had a fever. “I cut my finger on my textbook. I was boiling mad, I screamed and threw a fit in the library. Legs kicking the air and all. It’s weird to think about your memories in such a mesmerizing light, as though you remember the caliber in which you felt pain and it all seems so silly. My mother spanked me so hard over her knee after giving my tutor such a hard time, and even then, the paper cut ranked a close second.” Harry chuckled, his breaths short and strained, like he was fighting to push a heavy weight off of his chest. Zayn nodded with a half-smile, unbuttoning Harry’s shirt to reveal a sweaty and scorched chest. He wordlessly wiped this down with a cool cloth as well. This was not good. Either he was experiencing an infection or was getting sick from the mere shock of the day’s events, and Zayn was not equipped at all to take care of him in the proper way. Harry looked at his face as though he knew the situation was exponentially getting worse. So he opened his mouth to speak. 

“I don’t remember much of my childhood, I often dream as to how colorful it might’ve been. Sometimes I get mere glimpses of my mother, but that’s it. In a flash, it’s gone.” Zayn spoke softly, not truly understanding why he was saying all this to a stranger he had just met. But it felt right, it did. “Sometimes I hear a loud noise or a bright light shines in my face and it’s another flash of a memory, small snippets of the days my mind wants me to remember. But it’s short, and it makes me feel like I take a step back in life every time. Everyone is moving forward, and here I am, stuck in a loop that I did not volunteer to be in.” 

“Is that why you covered your ears when I screamed?” Harry asked, his eyelids were beginning to droop, and Zayn took in a sharp breath. Harry’s eyes were darting around in different directions, and his breathing quickened in an unnatural manner. 

“Perhaps that’s why.” Zayn tried to keep him awake, speaking a little bit louder. He surprised himself, he had never spoken so loudly in a such a while that his voice quivered. He bit his lip again. Weak little boy. “Harry Styles, you need to stay awake. You need to stay awake.” 

Harry panted, heading rolling back. Zayn shook him gently awake, coaxing him to keep his eyes open. “Sir, what will I do if you die in my house? Will you haunt me?” Harry laughed at the thought of him being a ghost, not really paying attention to what Zayn was telling him to do. 

Zayn bent down and opened the linens on Harry’s leg, gasping softly as the wound had begun to release pus in a sickly green and yellow hue. He bolted up to boil more water, wondering how long until the sun rose again. If this stranger would stay alive until then. “You can’t die, Harry. I don’t know who to contact if you do. Wouldn’t your mother worry?” Zayn chided half-heartedly, really hoping he wouldn’t have to resort to slapping him if it meant him staying awake. 

“Me mums dead,” Harry muttered under his breath, wincing as Zayn rubbed harshly on his collarbone. “Ow fuck, what was that?” 

“I can’t have you die.” 

Harry’s eyes fluttered wide as he forced himself to look at Zayn, and what he saw was a bit scary. Zayn looked extremely determined, but also strangely panicked in the sense. ‘What’s it to him if I die?’ Harry thought lazily, almost as though he was severely inebriated. ‘He just met me anyways.’

“Another person can’t die here, Harry.” Zayn begged him, shaking him and shaking him desperately. 

“Wha-what do you mean another person can’t die here?” Harry grunted as Zayn repeatedly shoved him and pressed harshly on his collarbones. The second he said that, Zayn sat up, almost dazed. 

“I-I don’t know. I don’t know why I said that.” Zayn blinked at him, and gulped, for he truly didn’t. The sun was starting to rise. The sun sets late and rises early, which is why every morning it’s already roasting in his room. Soon he can drag Harry to the old man and Liam, to get him to a hospital and back to where he came from. Soon he can go back to his usual routine, where he’s blind and confused on a daily basis, plagued by memories that he can’t piece together. Zayn exhaled and with conviction, forced Harry out of his bed. 

“I want to sleep, I’m sleepy.” Harry groaned, but still letting Zayn drag him up and onto the floor. “Where are we going?”

“I’m taking you to Mr. Selley’s. He can drive you to a hospital.” Zayn frantically pushed the large man out of the house, the panic settling in that it’s another four miles from here. They will have to walk four miles as Zayn has no car, or phone, or horse for that matter, and this man will probably die in his arms on the way there. He closed his eyes as he lifted Harry’s arm over his head and began to walk. 

It wasn’t the freeing and peaceful mornings that Zayn always had for as long as he’s known. He could not run through this forest as he normally would, count the bugs floating within the sun. All he could feel was the sweat forming on his back where Harry’s arm was draped over, hear the man’s grunts in his ear as each step pained him further, his own heavy pants as the exhaustion crawled up to his eyes. The world was fuzzy, it all sounded far away and hopeless. Zayn wondered why it felt so familiar, but then decided against further thought when he nearly dropped Harry down the side of the hill. 

“I’m going to die, aren’t I?” Harry moaned, beginning to dry heave above Zayn’s head. He was so much taller, and so much heavier. They still had two more miles to go, Zayn’s dwindling hope fading as Harry’s moans grew louder. 

“Why do you say that? We’re almost there.” Zayn lied through his teeth, dragging Harry with wider strides. 

“I can’t feel my leg.” Harry confessed. “I haven’t been able to feel it for the last hour. I can’t feel my heart, or my lungs. This is all very new to me.” 

“Don’t worry, Harry. Don’t worry.” Zayn was nearly in tears. What did he do to deserve this? His whole body ached, and he felt as though he would be unable to move for the next week. “You’ll live, you’ll live.” 

“This isn’t a bad place to die,” Harry continued to lament, “It’s so pretty. It feels like spears of sunlight are raining down through the trees. The animals would eat what’s left of my body.” 

They were nearly there. Once Zayn began to recognize the surroundings of the third mile he plopped Harry in a shaded area and went to a nearby stream to drink water. He could do this. He could save this man’s life. 

“There are many trauma syndromes and degenerative diseases that can swallow you alive once you’ve been exposed to infection of any major wound.” Harry laid his head against the trunk of a large tree. “I know because I’d spend hours in that damn library, reading and re-reading every last word in every book there was. As though I could do anything with the knowledge I had.” To Zayn’s surprise, a tear flowed down from Harry’s cheek. The first tear he’s seen this whole time. “It was my mother’s library. She died last month. She thought it so important for me to know so much, and here I am, about to die in a forest miles away from all that know me.” Harry bitterly scoffed, repeating, “I can’t feel my legs. I can’t feel my legs.” 

“My mother was also very important to me.” Zayn managed to utter, about to pass out from exhaustion. “It’s all I have left. What I remember of her.” 

Harry cried harder, “How am I supposed to repay you? You have done more for me in the past few hours than anyone has done for me my entire life. How am I supposed to repay you if I die here? I can’t die here, I can’t!” Harry began to punch at his legs, and Zayn used all his strength to stop him from doing so, holding both of the large hands close to his chest. 

“Dying isn’t something to be afraid of. It’s watching someone die that’s frightening.” Zayn pleaded, watching Harry’s eyes dart back and forth again. “Repay me by not dying. I swear to you, we’ll make it. We’re so close, so close.” Harry seemed to believe him. With a nod, he stumbled back upwards, and they dragged each other down the path. 


 

“Oh my God!” Those were words that Zayn never hears come from the old man’s mouth. He never used the Lord’s name in vain, but the shock of that could not compare right now. “What happened?” 

“Mr. Selley please help,” Zayn begged, Harry still draped over his body, about to give out. At the mention of that name, however, Harry twitched as though he was being reanimated. 

“S-Selley?” Harry looked up for the first time and couldn’t believe his eyes. So much so that he nearly scoffed at how ironic it was. 

“Harry? Mr. Selley asked, in a whisper like a scared child blindly asking the monsters in the dark to not hurt him. “Is that you?” 

“He needs a hospital, an arrow went through his leg and it’s infected,” Zayn cried, not caring how loud his voice had become. Mr. Selley nodded quickly, ushering them outside and into his car. They shoved Harry in and in lightning speed, the ignition was turned and they were off. The nearest hospital was almost twenty miles away. Zayn almost vomited in relief. 

“I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it,” Mr. Selley kept on muttering to himself, in shock himself, confusing Zayn even farther. It occurred to him what had happened upon initial meeting. 

“You know who he is?” Zayn asked, and Mr. Selley nodded, pressing down harder on the pedal and speeding past the plains and forest until they were just one connected blur. 

“He’s my sister’s son. Back when we all lived together I helped raise Harry for the first four years of his life. Then they moved to the city and I haven’t seen them since. What the hell is he doing here?” Mr. Selley shook his head, beckoning Zayn to get ready to drag him out. Harry’s breathing was even more frantic in the backseat, as the heat from the sun came down through the windows right onto his face, he felt as though he was hanging off the edge of a cliff. He was so afraid to die. He didn’t think he’d die. But now he could no longer feel his arms. 

“We’re here! Hang on Harry!” Mr. Selley barked, and there were sounds of the doors opening and wheels rushing out closer to him. Closer. 

He closed his eyes. 


 

When he came to, he was in a very flat and thin bed. There were skirts surrounding him, poking him and brushing his face over and over with a towel. He lifted one hand to shoo them away, and when he did, there was a sharp inhale next to him. 

“Harry,” it was his uncle. 

“Hi, Bubba.” Harry grinned sheepishly, he felt so much better after getting a good night’s sleep. “Where are we?” 

“We’re in the hospital, you dimwitted boy.” His uncle groaned. “You didn’t wake up for four days.” 

“How’d you recognize me?” 

“Pictures from letters. Why did you get tangled in the forest?” 

“I...I took the train from London and accidentally got off at the wrong stop. It seemed close enough, like I remembered when I was small. I decided to walk, just follow the forest and cut it straight through. Didn’t make it very far.” Harry said groggily, sitting up in the uncomfortable hospital bed. 

“You gave Zayn such a shock.” Mr. Selley pursed his lips, shaking his head the tiniest bit. “He’d never raised his voice before.” 

Harry winced and suddenly remembered all the things they exchanged and said to each other the night before. “Is he here? I want to thank him.” 

“Of course he’s not here. I took him back at the ranch. I can’t risk stressing him out further.” His uncle sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. “We need to talk about why you’re here. Your mother hadn’t said a word in more than five years. Even after your auntie passed. I wish I could be a bit warmer but I’m not exactly in the best of moods these days.” 

“Mum’s dead.” Harry said plainly. “Consumption. She’d been unwell for the last couple years and it finally escalated. She was in a lot of pain and didn’t want to drag you into it. I’m sorry.” Mr. Selley took in a deep, shuddering breath, and held his head in his hands. “I came because she left you something. I decided it was best that I told you instead of some lawyer.” 

His uncle looked up. Harry continued almost bitterly, “She left you the whole library, all of your books, her books, my father’s books, all of it. She said that it was you that sparked her love for wanting more in life. Thought it was fair that you get it back in the end.” 

This moment was almost too caricature-like. An entire room of sick, dying people and their loved ones huddled in low whispers and final prayers. A temperature controlled coffin, the scents and feelings and tears mixed through the air. The nurses in their thick uniforms swished about like ghosts, or grim reapers, gently peeling souls away from bodies. But Harry was relentless. He didn’t care how sensitive the situation was. 

“She left me all of it but that. I’m not saying that I wanted everything including it. I’m saying I could’ve done with that and nothing else. She knew that. So I want to know why, why it’s so important to you when you’re just a farmer living in a ghost town, when you are a ghost in our family tree. I wanted it so bad that I hated how much I needed it to feel as though my mother was still alive and next to me. She wanted grandchildren. A country home. Social status. A peaceful death. Got none of it, and never will. Tell me why you got the library. Tell me.” Harry blankly stared at his uncle, who was at a loss for words. The moment was swallowed in silence. 

“They were Annie’s books, Harry. You’re right.” His uncle began to tear up. “I made them the center of our entire family, didn’t I? Taught you to read. But they were Annie’s books, Harry. Anne promised me they’d come back home. She fulfilled that promise and nothing more.” The truth rolled easily off the tongue, and Harry could scream. Finally, he could feel his arms and legs again, and it hurt so badly. There was a hole in his leg for this. This was what he needed to hear himself. 

“Okay,” Harry whispered after a long while. “That’s all I needed to hear. Please let me borrow a change of clothes and if you have a phone I can call for a car. I’ll be out of your hair soon.” He grimaced as he got out of bed, his leg sore and throbbing. But he was alive. He was alive.  


 

“I promised I’d repay you.” That was the first thing Harry said to Zayn, who was admittedly waiting by the door pretending to sweep. “I promised I would.” His uncle had walked past them to get Harry some clothes and to make a phone call to the city. 

“I don’t need money, sir.” Zayn restarted the formalities in a hushed whisper, seating Harry down on one of the couches. “Mr. Selley takes care of me.” 

“It’s not about money. You’ve never been out of this town, have you? Been to London?” Harry asked, grabbing Zayn’s hand in a rush. “I can take you there.”

Zayn was shocked, mouth open to start a stutter, “W-Where would I go? Where would I live? Who would I talk to?”

“This is not where you should be, Zayn Malik. I can feel it in my bones. You need a different world view. A heightened palette of tastes and smells and experiences. You mentioned that you always feel as though you are stuck in a loop of being lost and slow while everyone moves on. I can help you. You can live with me. I can take care of you.” Harry grabbed the other hand, bringing them close to his chest as Zayn had done a few days ago. Zayn nearly began to tremble, the Alpha’s grip had been getting tighter on his wrists and he felt incredibly overwhelmed. 

“But sir, I’m sick. My bones ache constantly. I get ill constantly. I cannot go to the city with you.” Zayn pulled back his hands like they hurt. “Please go back and become well and strong.” He smiled weakly. “It was an honor meeting you. I never knew Mr. Selley had more family.” 

“Neither did I.” In a bold move, Harry used his head to push back a few stray hairs in front of Zayn’s face and inched closer. “Please. Please come with me. I am alone in my big, idiotic house, filled with people who do not know a single thing about the things that I feel. But you understand, I know you do. Your stories brought me back to so many happy memories in the instant that I thought my life was well and truly about to end.” His uncle came back into the room. 

“Here are some clothes, and I phoned a taxi to come from the city. Here is some cash, hopefully, that will cover all of it.” Mr. Selley looked at the distraught Zayn on the couch, and back at Harry, who looked utterly horrified with himself. He was about to ask what was going on when Harry cut him short. 

“Bubba--Uncle, you know that my family has connections in government and high power. There is a war coming, and you know it. The tensions with the Allies and the Axis are grinding to a near stop, and they will attack mercilessly. What will Zayn do? He lives close enough to the city but too far from the rest of the town in case they decide to drop a bomb on the edges of London.” Harry said, looking back at the confused Zayn still trying to process what was happening. “You can’t protect him like this. He’s too vulnerable. They might send troops through here towards London. What will you do if that happens?” 

“I promised his mother that I would protect him.” Selley seethed, nearly losing his patience. This visit had not fared well for either of them. “I can’t just hand him off to you.”

“You should. I would take care of him with my life.” 

“Is this you or the animal inside you talking?”

“Does it matter?” Harry questioned, finally moving from the staredown to put on the shirt his uncle offered him. “He’s an unmated,” he came closer, “traumatized omega. Do you really think this will be safe in the next year? Two years?” 

Mr. Selley’s hard expression was unreadable, as was the room. They were blocking the only way through the hallway to the back door, where the animals were, where Liam was, probably finishing up all the chores. It was all too overwhelming as Zayn whimpered at the animosity between blood. He never wanted any of this. War? What war? Safe? He wasn’t safe? 

He bit his lip and looked downward, trying desperately to not cry. The amount of dominant pheromones in the air was ridiculous. It felt as though the tension would never let up until finally, Selley recoiled. 

“Would he be safe in London?” He asked as though he already knew the answer. “He’ll eat and sleep well there? Find things to do?” He knew the answers to all of these. “You can even take him to America, can’t you? Keep him safe?” 

“Yes, yes I can. Mother left me everything, but nothing about being a true man. This is my first step. I don’t intend on ever hurting Zayn, you know this, don’t you?” Harry stepped closer to his uncle. “I have to do this. I have to repay him for what he’s done for me and for the remainder of our family.” Harry knew he was getting to him. “He could’ve left me there when he found me. But he didn’t. He needs to heal without being afraid the Nazis will destroy his life even more than already. It’s what his mother would want.” 

“Don’t you dare say anything about his mother when you don’t know a single damn thing,” Zayn flinched at the curse word. But Selley was furious, “It’s worked for almost five years, keeping him like this. He has to be stable, and can’t be triggered.” 

“I’ll go,” Zayn cried out. “I’ll go, Mr. Selley.” 

The two men turned to him in shock, one equally as dismantled as the other. It didn’t occur to them that he was able to make that decision. “I can’t die here, I don’t know why but I just can’t die here. Harry is right, there is so much holding me back here. I can never think straight anymore. I feel like a kept pet, and it hurts. I raised my voice for the first time in what I think is six years, and never did I feel so weak. I don’t feel human anymore, Mr. Selley. And if this war truly is as bad as you two are making it, I will go. I can’t burden you further.” 

He didn’t know why he said it, but something inside him bubbled and wrenched itself out. He understood the stares of people in town every time he was seen with Mr. Selley buying supplies or meeting neighbors. It was because there was a dark secret inside of him that he couldn’t, shouldn't remember, and every day was a constant reminder of how he was fading. Could he really not remember much more than the mornings of his childhood, when his mother would scrub him raw and yank his hair neatly into place? What happened to her? What happened to his life, and those warm days? For what was London? For what did it mean to be a city man, on the arm of a dashing and powerful Alpha, covered in riches and books? Maybe he wanted to find out. Maybe he really did deserve to know. 

“There is a lot I don’t know.” He blurted out as Harry left to change his pants in another room. Mr. Selley sat down next to Zayn, sighing deeply. “I don’t want to be slow anymore, and this could be my only chance.” 

“You’re not slow, Zayn. You never were. But your entire life is here--”

“I don’t remember anything. All it does is confuse me. I dream of a childhood that wasn’t mine, I can picture memories that I’ve never experienced. There was never life here. I worked and worked, trying to remember an answer as to why I feel this way. But I can’t. This town is moving on, Mr. Selley, and I will have to as well.” He turned to the old man, feeling extremely scared but very sure. As he shifted his weight from one foot to the other, the floorboards underneath creaked. In a house that has seen so much and lived so long, Zayn was an anomaly. His entire existence was an anomaly. 

Mr. Selley looked at him for quite a while. For years, he had always thought of the future of Trisha and her children, even more so now that it was only Zayn. He had seen all of it, and knew. Zayn could be so much more. 

“The world must be bigger than this. That must be why I’m always so confused. I’m stuck in such a small corner of it, Mr. Selley.” Big, fat tears began to roll down his face. “I’m so lost and so weak. I don’t want to be weak anymore.” There was a pause, and then a sharp inhale. 

“Harry’s driver won’t be here for another couple of hours. Let’s get you packed.”

Chapter Text

Zayn was shaking. In his mother’s suitcase, he packed his clothes and what felt like his whole life away. He didn’t know what to do with his bed so he made it neatly, tightly pressing the sheets inwards as though the mattress underneath needed protection from the sun. He emptied out his mother’s coin purse and counted each and every one for a final time, gingerly shining each one in between his fingers. He only had five shirts and five pairs of trousers. Six pairs of socks, and so on. When there was so much space left in the case, he decided to try and stuff in his pillow, but after failing miserably he called it quits. ‘I’ll be back soon,’ he thought. ‘Why shouldn’t I be back soon?’ 

But deep inside, he knew why. He was terribly frightened, and for a good twenty minutes of dusting the remainder of his house and organizing all his belongings, he feared he made the wrong decision. London could be an ocean for all he knew, and Harry could be a merman dragging Zayn to the depths of the deep to drown him, sacrifice him even. London could be one large factory collecting smoke and poisoning him until he could remember even less about his past. It could be anything. 

The creak of the door startled him, with Mr. Selley’s head popping in with tired eyes, “Are you ready?” Zayn nodded, jaw clenched. His jaw stayed clenched as he got into the old car for quite possibly the very last time. Held the handle of his luggage in both hands as he rested the case on his lap. He looked straight ahead at the dusty road ahead of him. He didn’t want to look at the forest nor the plains. He wanted to look at both. Keep both in his peripheral as he stared straight ahead because looking too hard in any direction otherwise would make him change his mind. 

But suddenly, in the corner of his eye, the sunflowers came into view. The infamous and priceless sunflowers, tall like giant trees, shaded the entire road. His head snapped to the right, and looked up at each flower head, looked up at the petals that shimmered past the sunlight. They were facing away from him today, and Zayn knew that it was a goodbye. “Do you think I can come and visit?” He asked the old man, who so far had been concentrated on avoiding every pothole and large rock. “Do you think I can come back and visit you?”

“I don’t see why not.” Mr. Selley chuckled, but it didn’t sound genuine. 

“Mr. Selley, where is Miss Annabella buried?” Zayn asked suddenly, and the look on the old man’s face said it all. 

“I-Uh, she’s buried where we bury all of our town folk. Deep in the forest, there’s a nice grounds for that kind of thing.” Mr. Selley cleared his throat, they were nearing the ranch. He stepped on the pedal harder. 

“Do you think I can visit Miss Annabella one day?” Zayn asked, biting his lip. They were almost back at the ranch, back with the chairs and couches and stoves, back with the stranger who was set on taking Zayn away. 

“If-When you come back, I promise I’ll take you. But not anytime soon, I’m sorry. Not anytime soon.”

Zayn didn’t have time to question why before the car screeched to a stop. 


 

Harry was waiting for them at the front of the house, looking like a plain farmer with uncharacteristically long hair. His large torso was nearly too big for the old man’s shirt, as well as the trousers crawled up his ankles. He smiled too widely and too whitely at Zayn, who couldn’t meet his gaze. There was something wrong with him for sure. He had just escaped permanent damage to his entire body, lest death and here he was, making every sort of grand gesture to and fro. Zayn looked down, making Harry frown but didn’t question it further in front of his uncle. The two entered back into the house, Zayn’s trembling hands gripped tightly around his luggage. All of his possessions were in it, but it felt so incredibly light that the weight alone symbolized to Zayn that he needed to escape. There was more than one dusty road in the world. 

“The car will be here in around twenty minutes, maybe less. Sit tight.” Mr. Selley huffed, scratching the back of his neck and heading out towards the backyard. 

“My uncle has grayed a considerable amount.” Harry tried to joke, but Zayn stared straight ahead, not even at him. “I remember once when he was a lively young man who only wore a smile on his face. Didn’t occur to me that he was running an orphanage to make up for the loss of his wife. But I guess we all have our coping mechanisms with death.” 

Zayn snapped his head towards Harry. “It’s not an orphanage. He’s just a man who makes good on his promises, he’s taken care of me for as long as I can remember, and he’s nice to Liam too. Don’t talk about Miss Annabella in that way.” He sternly said, but the words came out too quietly to sound threatening, he almost slumped in defeat. 

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend. I was just trying to make conversation as we will be living together, you’ll be residing in my home for the foreseeable future.” Harry didn’t mean to sound snarky, but sometimes, it just always came out that way. His tutors were snarky, his nannies were snarky, and now it felt like anything he said sounded snarky. He thinks that Zayn probably liked more of the version of himself that was delirious and crying about his dead mother. If Harry had even piqued Zayn’s interest. “I...I want to thank you again for saving my life. It means an immeasurable amount to me, and to a lot of people back home who depend on me. I couldn’t have lived without you, I would’ve bled out in that forest.”

“I just did what anyone should do in that situation, Mr. Styles,” Zayn replied, the formality making Harry scrunch up his face in displeasure. 

“‘Harry’, please. After all, we are the same age. Being called Mr. Styles makes me feel extremely old.” He laughed, but the moment quickly became silent and sour. 

Liam burst through the backdoor, frantically looking for Zayn. When he spotted him near the front door, he bounded over and grabbed Zayn forcefully. “Zayn, take me with you. Please take me with you. You can’t just leave us here. Me here.” 

A car outside honked loudly, making Zayn jump and hold Liam’s hands to his chest. “Of course I’ll be back for you. I’ll come back. I’ll come back, I promise.” He whispered, touching Liam’s hair for what was arguably the first time. The two shared a bond that never needed heavy articulation of vowels and consonants, yet here they were, mesmerized with how good they were to each other all those years. “I’ll come back for you, Liam.” He almost couldn’t hear himself. They stood up together, and in a rush of instinct, Liam hugged Zayn as tightly as he could, feeling the older one shivering under his grasp. Both understood what it meant to be vulnerable, to be an omega, constantly afraid yet yearning for more. Zayn had to be dragged away from Liam, who was only 17 years old, living with a drunkard grandfather. He had no prospects, no fond memories of this town. Just like Zayn, and he’s leaving him. Zayn didn’t remember getting into the large black car, when the doors closed, and when they took off. He was transfixed at the ranch, studying every last detail of the front, begging his mind to never forget. Mr. Selley and Liam waved at him, and Zayn stared at the ranch until it was just a dot in the distance. When he finally turned back around to face forward, he was smacked with reality. 

He was still gripping his luggage, knuckles white as his bottom lip began to quiver. On the other end of the car, Harry rested his aching leg and let his face drink the sunlight with eyes closed. Zayn dared not to look at him. He couldn’t. They stayed like that for quite some time, Harry comfortably sprawled out in the backseat as Zayn tried to make himself as small as humanly possible, his heart beating so fast and hard it was crawling up his throat. 

This was a mistake. A big, fat, honking mistake. He had left himself with a complete stranger on the grounds that there was a war he needed to be protected from. That London and this man, this strange, overbearing Alpha had so much to offer. As they kept on driving farther and farther away, Zayn’s chances of changing his mind dissipated. They began to pass scenery that Zayn had never seen before in his life. Harry shifted in his seat, rousing from his nap and what seemed to be a placid dream. He saw Zayn, stiff as a board, and sighed, thinking about what to do. 

“Do you believe in fate, Zayn?” Harry yawned, thinking that for the long and dreary car ride they had ahead, it would make no sense to stay so silent. 

“Fate, sir?” Zayn said while looking straight ahead. “No, no I don’t.” 

“It wasn't fated that you were there on the day I got pierced right through by an arrow?” Harry smirked, then groaned as he accidentally hit his own injured leg. “Whoever shot me definitely heard me shrieking. But they ran off.” 

“I don’t think that it was fate that I found a bloodied and dying man on the banks of a river I had been frequenting my entire life.” Zayn still wasn’t looking at him. In fact, he looked away and out of his window. “I don’t think this is fate right now. Perhaps I’m not ready to see what the world is like. It doesn’t feel like fate.” 

“If not fate, then a thanks was due on my part.” Harry sat up, favoring his leg in the most comfortable position he could get it. The sun was beginning to set outside. “The war is real. The Nazis will declare war, and the political climate alone could decimate entire countries economically. For saving my life, I’ll save yours.” Harry stared right at Zayn’s face, which was very fair if he were being honest (or crude). His nose sloped down in an attractive way, eyelashes fluttering with the sunlight fading behind him. Lips perched on a strong and slim chin, slightly parted and pink. One of the most beautiful people that Harry had ever seen, and he has seen many, many eligible omegas in his lifetime. He knew that Zayn could feel his eyes on him, from the way the large brown pupils would dart back up and down, and he started to bite the inside of his cheek. 

‘I’d like to bite the inside of his cheek,’ Harry thought, then recoiled at his own nonsensical comment. ‘Or I’d give him something to bite the inside of his cheek for.’ That was seemingly better. (Weirdo.) 

“And to me,” he decided to keep talking . “Meeting you feels like fate. Although I lost all my belongings and abilities in the forest, I met an angel who dragged me for kilometers on end without stopping to make sure I stayed alive. I thought my soul was departing this world for good, and an angel was disobeying God to will me alive. Pieces of my life began to flash before my eyes, my mother, my sister, and my father. My body didn’t feel my own.” Zayn finally turned to meet his eye, and their eyes locked intimately. “It was fate that I met such an angel.” 

There it was, the final blow. Zayn’s face blushed red, and he broke eye contact as he looked down shyly. The corner of Harry’s mouth lifted, as though he’d done it. 

“Do you talk that way to every omega that catches your eye?” Zayn giggled, clearly not buying a word of what Harry was saying. Harry’s smile drooped and brow furrowed. 

“Well, well only to beautiful people that save my life,” he stammered, and Zayn giggled again. 

“Mr. Sty--Harry, I’ll have you know that much of my mind is hidden from me, yes. But not the parts that are quick witted. I have a backbone, you know. I’m not going to bend it over for any Alpha that waltzes into my life and denatures it completely. I’m not spineless, is what I’m saying.” Zayn felt brave enough to lock eyes again, and this time, Harry flushed. 

“I didn’t mean to offend.” 

“I know you didn’t. But having heard many stories about people from the city, I wouldn’t be too surprised to hear if you visit several of your wives at a time. I don’t plan on being one of them.”

“Wives? Plural?” Harry laughed. “Maybe in another life, but in this one, I am alone in a big and dusty old house.”

Zayn chuckled, his lips red after biting and peeling the skin on them with his teeth the whole ride. “It’s safe to assume you are not a farmer, or postage man, or peddler…” Zayn listed all the official jobs he could think of and Harry smiled at him. 

“No, not quite.” A soft smile stayed on both of their lips. The sun took its time today bidding a farewell. Soft, cottony clouds of red, blue, and orange hues took over the seamless blue sky. The plains, if not a blur, were whistling strands of long yellow grass. When their conversation ended, all they could hear was the soft hum of the engine beneath them, and each other’s slow breaths chasing after each other. It became a learned rhythm, sometimes breathing together, or not at all. Zayn held his breath as he felt the man next to him stare so deeply into the side of his face. He tried to not act like he noticed, but he did . Neither of them could deny that they smelled each other, could hear each other, and in tandem, were breathing together. Zayn’s grip on his mother’s suitcase loosened. He visibly began to relax. 

“What will I do when we get to London?” He asked, his voice soft and sweet, fluidly moving through the air right through Harry’s nose and chest. 

“Well, we’ll get you some proper clothes, and I can introduce you to some classes near our estate,” Harry answered, feeling as though he was losing all his inhibitions, as though something was drawing him closer and closer to the person next to him. “Art, History, Math, and Science courses. There are men in my favor who would teach you all about the world…” They met eyes again, and all the breath was knocked out. “And when the war comes, I will take you someplace safe. I will keep you safe.” 

“Keep me safe?” Zayn whispered, and before they knew it, they were less than a foot apart, legs almost making contact, noses almost making contact. Harry nodded, taking the initiative to trace the side of his hand down Zayn’s thigh. 

“Of course I will.” A brown lock fell down perfectly in front of Harry’s face, eyes blinking slowly. 

“You have very nice eyes, Harry.” Zayn whispered. 

“You do as well.” Harry lifted his chin up, wafting his scent right towards Zayn, who tried not to make a sound. Tried not to breathe, for that matter. The atmosphere in the automobile had thickened significantly, and even the driver in front could smell them and nervously gripped the wheel tighter. Harry’s hand reached over to brush Zayn’s hair behind again, as he had down back at the ranch. Zayn’s breath hitched. “God, you smell incredible.” Harry brought his face closer, lips ghosting over lips, nose almost tracing the outline of Zayn’s face. 

Before they could pull away from each other, Zayn whispered, “ Shaid London ik sumandar nahi na tou ik karkhana, lekin shaid London ik aadmi mei hai .” Then it happened, Harry grabbed Zayn’s waist and tugged him closer, and the hand that was gripping so desperately at his suitcase released its hold and fell to the bottom of the car. The Alpha buried his head in Zayn’s neck, breathing hungrily at every part of him that emitted a pheromone. The scent was sweet and fresh, like sniffing a peony on a winter’s day. Zayn closed his eyes as he let Harry run his fingers through his hair and down his back, feeling overwhelmed by the warmth and touch of the man before him. 

“Tell me what it means,” Bottom lip touching bottom lip. Hands squeezing his sides and fingers running through the sides of his scalp. “What does it mean, sweet thing?” Zayn shuddered at the words, and made a small noise when Harry brought him even closer , chest pressing against chest and his head buried in his neck once more. He squirmed when he felt teeth meet his skin, biting down on the Alpha’s shoulder instinctively as a warning. 

Harry seemed to like it. He grunted, moving his hands to underneath Zayn’s loose tunic, running them upwards of his torso. “ You smell so good, it’s insane . Like I can’t, I can’t--” 

“Perhaps London is not an ocean,” Zayn finally pushed him away, panting and squeezing his thighs together. “Nor factory, perhaps all of London is in one man.” He got off of Harry’s lap, scooting away from him. Their scents were thick in the air, and it wasn’t just Harry who was going crazy. Zayn’s nose tingled and exhilarated his senses every time Harry even shifted an inch, like oranges and peppermint and tobacco and peaches and almonds --

The driver in the front cleared his throat, definitely the most uncomfortable situation he’s ever volunteered for in his life. “S-Sir, we’re nearing the city.” Harry nodded, rubbing the back of his neck and sitting up straight. “I gotcha.” Zayn shifted towards his window, peering out into the unfamiliar paved roads that awaited them. At this time of night in Suraj Mukhi, there were no people or lights wandering about through the common areas. It was pitch black, silent, each house nursing a dining room with family gathered together in worship. But as they hit a bump in the road, which wasn’t a bump actually, it was the start of the paved paths, where stones were carefully cemented into the ground, and the ride immediately felt such a degree smoother Zayn thought they were floating. 

Hours had passed, and Zayn could still hear Harry’s heavy breathing from the other side of the car, but they couldn’t look at each other. Zayn squeezed his legs tighter, arms flush against his sides as he tried to control his heart. Maybe an hour more of this. Two. 

“Come back,” gently touched Zayn’s chin, turning it towards him. Zayn licked his lips, nervously looking at the back of the driver’s head. Harry moved closer and pulled Zayn back up onto his lap. 

“Your leg,” he gasped, trying to get off of Harry’s thigh and all Harry did was bring him closer, turning his head slightly to the side. He was terrified, so he closed his eyes shut and braced for impact. 

Then Zayn felt it. Harry’s lips. Gently pressing against his own. They were pillowy and moving in between Zayn’s mouth as he kissed and gently kissed. He whimpered as Harry ran a hand through his hair again, pulling Zayn so much closer to his chest than he thought possible. His legs were now on either side of his waist and again was he relentless, trailing his lips down the side of Zayn’s neck and reaching down to his clavicle. Everywhere he kissed, he left a ring of fire, jittering Zayn’s entire body in its trail. Harry’s hands were underneath his shirt again, rubbing and pinching at his sides, making Zayn cry out softly every time he got too close to a sensitive spot. 

“I’m melting, I’m melting,” Zayn gasped, not knowing what to do with his hands so he yanked and pulled at Harry’s hair, holding back soft grunts each time Harry pushed down at his hip bones. 

“I know,” Harry murmured, lips on his chin. Kiss . “Me too, baby, me too.” Kiss . His hands suddenly traveled to Zayn’s ass, cupping both in his hands and holding him down as the Alpha ground his own hips upward, Zayn crying out in shock. Through the fabric, he could feel Harry’s dick poking at him and grinding against him, and he nearly passed out. 

“Harry, Harry no more,” Zayn pushed weakly against him, but his own body wasn’t listening to what he was saying. 

“What?” Harry breathlessly asked, looking up at Zayn confused. “Stop? Stop, darling?”

Zayn nodded, and Harry immediately stopped, prying Zayn’s body off of his with a few heavy breaths. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”

“No, it’s alright,” Zayn panted, pulling at his collar and trying to not focus on the tightness in his trousers. “Feels good.” He released in a slurry of words, trying not to cry from how strong Harry’s scent was. 

“You have no idea what you do to me.” Harry sighed, shifting again with the same tightness in his jeans. “But that wasn’t myself and I shouldn’t have--”

“I could’ve shoved you out of this car if I wanted to and we both know it,” Zayn shushed Harry, who then head nodded in the direction of the driver, who really wanted to finish this job so he could go home and boil his entire cab. “I’ve never felt that way before.” 

“You’ve surely been kissed,” Harry sighed, shifting his pants again. Zayn shook his head. His eyes widened. “T-That was your first time?” He asked, horrified and Zayn couldn’t understand why. “Oh god, I can’t believe you had your first snog in a cab.” 

“It...It felt good,” Zayn whispered naively, tracing his lips with his fingers where Harry had kissed them. “You do this when you’re in the city?” 

Harry laughed, running his large hand through his hair before facing Zayn again. “No, not necessarily. I don’t snog random strangers out on the streets.” 

“Then you snog random strangers you meet by rivers?” Zayn joked, and Harry laughed even harder. 

“I can’t wait to show you the Thames, in that case.” 


 

“Master Harry!” A servant gasped from the front door, jaw agape. “Oh heavens, he’s alive! He’s back oh dearie me--He’s home! He’s back!” She ran back into the house, screaming. 

The cab driver helped Harry hobble up to the grand steps as Zayn stared at the entire house in shock. With trembling hands, he gripped his humble suitcase once more, feeling very cold all of a sudden. As Harry was passed onto another round of male servants who each took an arm, he sheepishly smiled at them. 

“That was quite the long journey, I unfortunately don’t have any pounds on me for tip for the fellow.” The servant nodded and reached into his pocket, pulling out the biggest wad of bills that Zayn’s ever seen and handing the cab driver an extra fifty pounds for his trouble. With a red face, he tipped his hat at both Zayn and the grand house before taking off. 

“Who are you?” The same female servant came running back out to meet Master Harry and looked at Zayn with a suspicious glare. “Picked up another stray, did you, sire?” She tutted, pulling Zayn’s thin arm into the house. To Zayn’s amazement, the porch was made from marble. Instead of a familiar old creak, there were small taps of polished and extravagant stone. Vines covering every wall and trimmed neatly so it laid flush against the exterior of the house. 

The inside of the house was unbelievable, Zayn couldn’t even register it. The ceilings were so high off the ground, it was almost like the house was made for giants. There was a grand hallway and multiple young ladies scampering about, men in fine black dress regally tending to every painting on the wall, every seat and corridor. He was at a loss for words. A house that smelled of springtime in the forest, where fresh grass and raindrops dribbling down trees met moss and wildflowers. Although it was summer, the inside of the house was cool and Zayn could almost see his breath leaving his lips. 

Petrichor . That’s what it smells like. It smells like petrichor. 

The female mistress led Zayn down the corridor and into a separate room, firmly pushing him in and closing the door behind her. She turned him around and around, inspecting his body, his face, and his hands. She looked at his fingers and saw how shaky and gnarled they had become, shaking her head. 

“Alright then, time for a bath. I hope you have a name,” she sternly asked Zayn through her spectacles, hurriedly gathering linens and a folded bundle of what looked to be clothes. She ushered him through into another powder room with a large tub (a tub with legs!) lined with gold. “If you’re not going to speak, I will introduce myself first. My name is Mistress Hewitt. I was born in the era of the Queen Victoria. I am headmistress of the house of Selley and Styles. All the servants and caretakers of this home answer to me.” She dumped buckets and buckets full of water into the tub, lighting a match underneath it. She briskly began to strip Zayn of his clothes. 

“My name is Zayn Malik. I-I am twenty years old, and I live in a town one hundred and twenty miles north of London called Suraj Mukhi. I-I answer to...to…” He stuttered, vaguely afraid of the giant human sized pot he was about to be boiled in. 

“That’s quite enough now.” Mistress Hewitt turned off the gas underneath the tub, testing the water with her hand. Wordlessly, she led Zayn into it, having him sit down before dumping a bucket of hot water over his head. “It won’t matter whoever you are, because from now are, you are a guest in my home. I have been caring here for nearly thirty years, and will make sure that whatever the young master has you here for will be accomplished.” She harshly rubbed soap into Zayn’s hair, scrubbing the pads of her fingers about to and fro. After rinsing it all out, she then scrubbed at his skin with am embroidered washcloth, which Zayn had never seen anybody do. Embroidery meant it was pressed and tucked neatly in the bosom of a lady going to church, not for scrubbing dirt off a poor farm boy. 

“Harry mentioned that I was to take classes for Maths and Science and Art and History--” Hewitt dumped more water over his head. ‘--and then we’ll be off to someplace safe when the war hits London.” He saw her blank expression change for a slight moment before returning to its unreadable composure. 

“If he’s taking you out of London as all the noble families are doing right now, perhaps you are not here just for schooling, Mr. Malik.” She cleaned his ears, making Zayn squirm about in the water. “You are very thin, I can see every last bone. Do you come from a poor family?” She then worked on his sore hands, bending and massaging them about. “Did this happen because you were working in the field?”

Zayn shook his head, “No Ma’am, my bones have been weak since I was a child.” 

“Who taught you to read and write?” She bent one knuckle in an odd way, causing Zayn to cry out in pain. “Your vernacular is certainly farther than that of a farmer’s son.” 

“I have no parents, Ma’am. Harry’s maternal uncle took pity on my siblings and I when we were children, and he understood basic formalities such as those. But we couldn’t afford to go to school.” 

“I understand. And that is Master Styles to you. It must’ve slipped my mind that the late Lady of this house still had family.” She wiped Zayn’s face and gently through his eyelashes and eyebrows. “But my, you are much fairer that I could’ve expected from such a background. No spots, no scars. Where are your siblings?” She asked, helping him out of the tub and wrapping long sheets of linen around him. 

“Gone, Ma’am.”

“I understand.” She ushered him out and down onto a velvet lined chair, surrounded by an assortment of leather shoes. She rubbed his hair through linens until it was no longer wet, and shaved every last one of the peach fuzz that grew on his face. She helped him dress into clothes that looked similar to the ones that Harry was wearing that first day down at the river, and he smiled to himself in the mirror. Golly, a real mirror. It expanded to reflect his entire body right back at him. Mistress Hewitt brushed at any remaining wrinkles in the fine dress, buckling the shoes as though someone had made them just for him. “Goodness, they’re a bit too big.” Oh. Apparently not. “We will have to ask the shoemaker to create a pair that fits you.” She sighed, lifting herself up as though the task were no longer easy, combing his hair and rubbing cream on his face. “You’re ready now. Follow me.” He did as he was told. 

These shoes clacked against the floor, he could hear himself walk and marveled at the sound. Younger maids rushed past him, giggling and whispering underneath their breaths, and many other man servants all peeked to get a glimpse of his face. 

‘He really is so fair, no wonder the Master brought him back to London.’ 

‘What a good jaw, and a handsome set of eyes.’

‘Why is he here?’ 

After what seemed to be a very long walk for a house, Mistress Hewitt turned around to face Zayn, who bit his lip and couldn’t make eye contact with her. “This is my farewell. Jane here will now tend to your every need. Should you see me again, it won’t be because of something good. But I will be there at meals and every time the family goes out on a particular outing. Good day, Mr. Malik.” He nodded back at her, and after a quick look around to his surroundings, realized that he was in the doorway of one of the most important rooms in the house. Inside it, there was Harry, sprawled out on one of the loveseats. He was groomed and his leg re-wrapped, already have begun to start a book. 

“H-hello,” he called out meekly. Harry turned around to see Zayn standing in the doorway, and with a grin, he stood up and limped to meet him. “I thought you’ve already read every book in this house.” Harry smelled so good. If he didn’t smell good before, now he smelled strongly of lavender and orange blossom water combined with everything else. It simply wasn’t fair. 

“I have, I was looking over some options that might pique your interest,” Harry smiled as they both sat back down. “Here is one of my favorites.” He handed a red and gold book to Zayn, who took it with both hands and simply stared at the cover. “It is about a man who comes lost at sea, and one day, when all the food and fresh water runs out, he tries to drown himself only to be saved by a siren.” 

“I’ve heard of this story before,” Zayn’s breath hitched when Harry leaned closer. “Mr. Selley used to tell it at night when we would gather for dinner. I love it too.” He gingerly opened the cover of the book, gently turning the pages to reveal the first few pages. Zayn gasped softly, and Harry smiled at him, and when he leaned over with a large hand to help Zayn turn another page, their fingers touched. They both recoiled, for the contact felt like a small burst of electricity had struck them. “W-What does ‘vellichor’ mean?” He asked Harry, looking up at him while blinking slowly and almost sleepily in a way. It was seductive as all hell. 

“The strange wistfulness of used bookshops,” Harry bit his lip, watching as Zayn’s long eyelashes fluttered up and down, and the light in his eyes made them look almost wet. 

“A-And ‘opia’?” Zayn nearly started crying at how close Harry was getting. 

“The ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable,” Harry replied again, tilting Zayn’s chin up. “So probably like right now.” 

Zayn’s hand shot up to touch Harry’s face, thumb rubbing against his right cheek. It felt as though this sudden attraction was quelled upon their first meeting, but now, experiencing Harry as a real, living, breathing, and powerful man in front of him, their biology pushing them closer together bit by bit. He knew Harry felt it too, this surge of energy between them, through any bit of physical contact. 

“May I kiss you again?” Harry asked, and Zayn couldn’t say a word except nod. “Please, I need to hear it, darling.” There it was again, the hand on Zayn’s waist that pulled him closer. 

“Please,” Zayn whispered, holding onto Harry’s neck. “Please kiss me.” So he did. Gently, caressing Zayn’s body as though he could break at any moment. Harry combed through Zayn’s hair with his hands, moaning softly when Zayn’s eyes rolled back at the touch. 

“I don’t know what’s come over me, but now I feel like I’ll die without touching you,” Harry planted kisses all down Zayn’s neck, sucking a bit once he got close to his clavicle. “Your scent, you’re so stunning, I don’t know what’s the matter with me.” Harry bit down softly at Zayn’s neck, emitting a submissive moan to rip from Zayn’s neck. He held his teeth in through his skin, waiting until he felt Zayn’s whole body go lax under his touch. “So stunning.” Harry licked at the wound, and then pushed Zayn down back onto the couch, placing his knees in between Zayn’s thighs. At just the mere sight of Zayn’s red lips and wrecked out face, Harry thought he could just have that one image in his mind forever. He interlocked their hands as he reached again down to meet his lips with Zayn’s, who squirmed about until he was able to hold onto Harry’s neck and broad back. They kissed fiercely until they had to come up for air, and that was when Harry bent down to bite the other side of Zayn’s neck. When his teeth broke skin again, Zayn grunted in pain, eyes clenched shut until he felt his body go limp again. It was a high that neither could get enough of. “I could have you sit on my face right here.” Harry growled, and Zayn mewed, wrapping his legs around Harry’s waist. 

“Ahem,” A voice coming from the doorway. Harry grabbed Zayn and shot up, holding him to his chest in a protective stance as his head snapped to who was talking. “I really wish you wouldn’t do that in front of me.” The second Harry saw who it was, he relaxed his body and groaned. “Louis.” Harry said in an annoyed tone. 

“My, who’s this pretty little thing?” Louis strode over, holding Zayn’s face and gasping at how cute he was. “What are you doing here in the big bad wolf’s house?” He cooed, and Zayn thought he could die from the embarrassment. 

“Don’t touch him,” Harry snapped, swatting Louis’ arms away. “When did you come?” 

“Um,” Louis flicked at Harry’s forehead. “The second I heard the news that my best mate came back after disappearing for five days. With a gaping hole in his leg, for that matter.” Louis made it a point to smack at Harry’s thigh as well, resulting in a scream and a tumble of bodies. Zayn was underneath him again, but this time, he covered his face to hide just how red he was. “Fuckin’ idiot, thinking he can wank off without saying one fuckin’ word,” Louis hit Harry’s head again. “There were AFFAIRS to finalize! Papers to sign, and you left me to do all the work while you fucked off getting yourself a warm body in the countryside!” 

Harry rubbed at his head, letting Zayn escape from the cage and run out of the library in embarrassment. “You really do like ruining a moment, don’t you?” 

“You really like bringing random omegas home don’t y--mffgh” Louis shot Harry a deadly glare as he covered his mouth. Louis threw Harry off of his face. “Who is he, anyways?” 

“His name is Zayn, I picked him up after visiting my uncle on my mum’s side. Farmhand. He’s the only reason as to how infection hasn’t claimed my soul yet. I promised my uncle that I would take care of him and...give him classes and such.” Louis didn’t seem convinced. “If you really don’t believe me, just watch the man for the next few days. He lost his memory after his family was murdered.” 

“No no no, I believed that bit.” Louis chuckled, striking a match to light a long cigarette that he fingered from his coat pocket. “So why were you snogging, is what I’m looking at you that way for.” 

“He smells bloody fantastic. But other than that, not really sure.” Harry grabbed the cigarette from Louis’ lips to take a puff, releasing a sigh of relief. “You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting for some tobacco.” Louis continued to stare at him like he was an oddity. “Maybe it was the whole ‘he saved my life’ thing.”

“He’s fair, I guess.” Louis chuckled, and they left it at that. 

“I should probably check on him.” Harry got up, feeling so much more alive than he’s ever felt, and stumbled along to check room by room to see where Zayn could have gone. He realized how daft he was being this whole time. Of course Zayn would be overwhelmed. He had just been uprooted and swept away, and now living in a giant house that didn’t feel at all homey or inviting. Perhaps Harry was forcing himself onto him earlier. Fuck. 

He knew he had found the right room when he saw Jane, one of the maids, standing outside of it, knocking desperately at the door and fruitlessly turning the knob. When she noticed his presence, she gasped and automatically pulled back with her head down and a curtsy on cue. Harry gave her a half-smile and waved the curtsy away. 

“What’s wrong with my guest?” 

“He--he ran into the room and locked himself in, Mistress Hewitt told me to fetch him as she knew the both of ye hadn’t eaten all day and had dinner ready. But he’s been refusing to talk to me or open the door and I know I’ll be in big trouble, ye ken?” Jane looked pale. “It’s been almost forty minutes, I dunna what to do, Sir.” 

“It’s all right, Jane. Thank you for telling me. I’ll be sure to enlighten the mistress on why the dinner’s gone cold, and that I understand how unkempt and unorthodox it was for her to prepare food at such an inappropriate time.” He patted her shoulder, sighing as she ran off towards the other hall. He turned to the door. “Zayn, I know that you’re in there. I can attest to Hewitt that you’ve fallen asleep, exhausted from the journey, but for me I’d rather establish a caliber of trust between us if I am to have you be a guest in my mother’s house.” 

No answer. 

“To specify, a guest currently camped out inside my mother’s bedroom.” 

It took about sixteen seconds before the doorknob began to jiggle, and there was Zayn with a guilty look on his face, cheeks still bright pink. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know.” 

“I’m not cross with you, it was an honest mistake.” Harry motioned for Zayn to come closer, and then wrapped his arms around him. “I’m sorry that this has all been so overwhelming for you. I could’ve made it easier, but I didn’t. And now I fear I’ve made it worse and has left a bad impression on many of the people in this house. Especially of who I must seem like to you. I promise that I am not a bad man.” Zayn was shaking until finally, he brought his arms up to wrap them around Harry as well. 

“I-I miss my home. Already I missed running through the forest, feeding animals and greeting Mr. Selley by the door. I missed the drive back home after a long day, and the dinner with L-Liam, who I left behind to fend for himself.” Zayn pressed his ear to Harry’s chest. There was a heartbeat. “I’ve known you for a total of six days, and have spoken to you for two...and a half of those days. The very ground doesn’t feel the same here. These clothes don’t feel the same. The air doesn’t even smell the same.” Zayn’s chest was expanding wildly as he tried to catch his breath, and the pair didn’t even realize that they were embracing each other in the hallway while multiple eyes quietly observed. “There are so many people in this house,” Zayn whimpered. “I don’t even know why I’m acting this way either.” He pulled away from Harry, hugging himself. He couldn’t bear to look up at him. Here he was, thinking that the city was a place filled with magic and wonder. That he could bear the brunt of it, and the second he arrived he knew that he couldn’t. He was too weak. “I don’t know you.” 

“I don’t know you either. But we must learn one another. I will learn. So little has felt right in the past year, Zayn. You’re so correct in saying that this house has too many people inside it. Nothing felt worse after visiting my mother, sitting next to her bedside as many feet clamored and shined and polished the walls of this house. Yet, the rose and the life of it was dying. I never thought I’d have to wish my mother dead until she began to vomit blood and bile every morning.” Harry sighed, wondering if he should touch Zayn again. But he decided against it. “The second I met you and smelled you, I’ve been overcome with the sentiment that this is right. Please let me show you the wonders of this world for I need to rediscover them as well. I don’t want to loathe my home anymore. I don’t want to loathe my life anymore.” 

“Do you wish you had more time with your mother?” Zayn asked as they walked down the hallway once more, just following Harry’s lead to another section of doors lined up next to one another.

“No, no I don’t. I think that’s what I’ve always feared. She taught me everything I needed to know, stretched each painful day out to make sure I was ready for everything she built for me. But I’m still not ready. I don’t know how to be ready.” 

“You’ll be ready. Don’t worry, look at all the things you have, and all the things you’ve overcome. I’d do anything to feel like I know my mother has given me every tool for life. You should feel liberated.” Zayn smiled, placing a hand on Harry’s chest. Harry raised one corner of his mouth, eyes shiny. 

“This is my room.” Harry pushed the door open, revealing a large bed, work desk, and piles and piles of books stacked along the walls. It was decorated richly, and Zayn had never seen anything so lavish. “To come in is your choice. But if you do, I can’t say for certain what will happen.” 

“Does that line work on every omega you invite into your room?” Zayn playfully scrunched up his face. 

“I wouldn’t know. I’ve said it before until now.” Harry spoke plainly with a straight face. “I probably won’t be able to take my hands off of your body.” 

“What else would we do?” Zayn licked his lips, inching closer, as though all this conversation was merely a game...or a buffer.

“Erm,” Harry had a bit of trouble concentrating. “Perhaps discuss the courses you’d like to take. And then the sub-genre of those courses that we could...talk...about. I personally love literature, if it wasn’t obvious alrea-” Zayn shuffled straight into his room, wordlessly sitting on the edge of Harry’s tall and grand bed before looking back at him with an unreadable expression. 

“Will your leg be okay?” Zayn asked as Harry came in closer towards him. The latter nodded, gently leading Zayn onto the bed until his back was flush against the mattress. “I-I’ve never done this before.” 

“That’s alright, as long as you’re sure.” Zayn nodded quickly and without any hesitation, breath hitching as Harry moved to unbutton the shirt and remove the belt off his trousers. 

“These are mine,” Harry murmured, moving on to the shoes and shimmying Zayn out of his trousers. He then removed his own garments, being careful with the bandages on his leg. Zayn covered his chest with his arms, fixated at the ceiling. His expression only changed when he felt Harry lift and bend his knees upwards, and let out a small noise when Harry’s mouth began to suckle and trace his inner thigh. He was completely exposed, with no undergarments to cover his dick and hole, glistening with slick. He willed himself to not start shaking. 

“Although I appreciate this angle, darling, I’m afraid I can’t do much if you continue squeezing my head in between your legs. Harry laughed, and Zayn could feel his hot breath ghost over the most sensitive part of his body. 

“S-Sorry.” He felt his knees part, and Harry moved upwards, looming over him. It’d be a lie to say that he wasn’t handsome, for he was. Undeniably. Unattainably. Devilishly. His face and voice forced you to keep on staring at him, as though once you meet eye to eye, that was it. 

He’s in full control. Zayn looked down and his eyes widened. He started to panic. 

“How will that fit?” His brow furrowed in shock, snapping him back to the reality of the situation. 

“We don’t have to do that today. Should we stop? We can stop,” Harry said, bringing Zayn closer to his body. Zayn realized in that moment of how cold the room actually was, Harry’s skin felt like fire in comparison with his. Utterly and completely naked. It was a moment that Zayn could’ve never thought he would experience. So he shook his head. 

“I don’t want to stop,” Zayn gulped, watching Harry’s face relaxed in relief. “I won’t break. Pleas-please, touch me.” Harry nodded, moving back down to Zayn’s hole, using gentle hands to push his knees farther apart and firmly spread Zayn’s legs. When he licked a fat stripe up from his perineum to his balls, he almost came at the shriek Zayn ripped from his throat. 

The feeling was indescribable, a grown man in between his legs, lapping up something that Zayn had always found so dirty, so lewd, and he couldn’t control the noises he was making. He desperately wanted to clench his legs shut, but every time he tried, Harry’s grip would only get firmer on his calves. So instead, he scrambled to hold onto the bed sheets, pillows, Harry’s hair, anything to grab onto as he was sent into another dimension with every lick and suck. Apparently, he was being too loud as Harry came back up, licking his lips and kissing Zayn hard. When they stopped to breathe, Zayn was inconsolable, babbling about, “I need you I need you I need you I need you --” 

“I’ve gotcha, darling.” Harry stuck a finger in his mouth and pulled it out, pressing it into Zayn’s hole and pushing it all the way through. This led to another scream, but this time it didn’t sound like he was being murdered. Oh no, it was definitely a sex scream, and while Harry preened each time Zayn made a noise, he knew that there were going to be whisperings and gossip throughout the house tomorrow. But fuck it. 

Zayn bit down on Harry’s shoulder, his eyes squeezed shut so tightly he thought his head might explode. Harry kept twisting and pushing and pulling, almost as though he was searching for something. In the next second, he had Zayn arching his back with his jaw dropped, he found it. Harry pushed a second finger in next to the first and continued with the same curling motion, imprinting the image of Zayn squirming and biting his lip in pleasure. He rubbed relentlessly and Zayn thrashed about, moaning and screaming until finally, streaks of white covered his stomach. Harry moaned, kissing Zayn again. All of it was insane and inconceivable. To have the most beautiful omega moaning and coming undone underneath him, Harry will have dreams about this moment for days to come. 

“I thought my heart was going to burst,” Zayn choked out, throat very dry. “I feel as though I am flying.” 


Perhaps London is not an ocean nor factory, perhaps all of London is in one man. 

Chapter Text

Hello there! Jade again!!! I must put a disclaimer in the beginning of this chapter, as it is a very important one that will eventually escalate into the next part of this story. I need to review some of the connotative societal measures and ideas that I’ve thought out for when in the contemplation of what kind of setting I wanted to create. Obviously all of this is fictitious. That much is true, but it also doesn’t necessarily fit into most common A/B/O standards and practices and understandings as such. Hell, this almost became a Doctor Strange fic, but maybe that’s a story for another time. 

To start off with, an omega going into heat with almost always have an alpha accompany them through it. Especially with where we are in this story, no one experiences that shit alone. You can think of it as though not only is it is this primal and animalistic need to mate and procreate, but it’s also excruciatingly painful. As our characters jump through time, I’ll be sure to describe that in the future, with medical and societal advancements, going through heats and ruts like that are more bearable and easier to handle alone. It’s not necessarily a sexual gesture when an alpha helps an omega through their heat, and vice versa. It’s simply because as a society, it is their duty. It’s almost concerned a public health issue. 

Secondly, the biting that I’ve a bit hinted towards in this story is a bit of an homage to Nelly_O_Dell’s book on AO3 called “Growl,” where in this very alpha-archical society, there’s a level of dominance and prestige over the other categories. It’s merely seen as an act of when they need to subdue, show affection towards, or a symbol of being promised almost. So when Harry casually bites Zayn until it really hurts and Zayn’s body starting to go lax, it’s an example of that. 

Thirdly, there’s no homophobia in this story. Fuck that. I’ve had enough of that in real life. Instead, I’ve made it so that it’s more uncommon for an Alpha and Alpha pair, or a Beta and Omega pair and the like. In the future, when our characters are no longer in the 1940’s, society will become more accepting towards people who would like to become mates with whoever and such. It’s not necessarily taboo or a hatred, but in this time setting, just very uncommon for it’s infamousy in that it doesn’t work most of the time. 

Fourth, there is explicit sexual content in this chapter! Quite a lot of it! More so than last chapter! If you’re uncomfortable, just...I dunno, skip to the end. You won’t want to miss the end. 

Finally, there are major character deaths in this chapter...oops! If you’re uncomfortable with that, oh honey, this isn’t where you should be right now. Please find a fluff tag and take care. 

Hm... I think that’s it! Please enjoy this chapter, I tried really hard not to rush the contents of this chapter but we’re really really far from the main story and plot, so I’ve been a bit forced to give up a lot of the lengthy prose that I would like to write just to FINALLY get to the good stuff, lol. I can’t wait to write about it, and I can’t wait for you to read it. 

Ta! 


 

Birds . That was what was outside, gently tapping at Zayn’s ears to get up. He could feel the sun on his face, a warm comforter underneath his chin and over his body. As his body began to awaken, being able to move his joints again, Zayn yawned. He felt his ribs expand outwards and contract inwards, over and over again, and he let out a sigh of relief at his apparent state of life. By the time he felt Harry rustle and turn in the space next to him, Zayn was already sat up on the bed, body facing the long window that revealed the dancing trees and birds outdoors. He felt a deep sense of shame running throughout his body, making his chest tight. He felt Harry reach up and slide a hand down his back, almost using him as leverage to lift himself up. He wrapped his arms around Zayn, nestling his neck into the groove of his neck and sighing deeply. 

“I need to go home,” Zayn’s voice broke, feeling his heart contract. “I can’t stay here,” Harry lifted his chin and met face to face with a confused expression. “I let you defile me.” Harry shook his head, looking somber and went to embrace Zayn tighter in his arms. Zayn refused, beginning to hit at Harry’s chest and let the tears roll down his cheek. “Not only am I the town’s laughingstock but now I can’t get married,” Zayn cried, breathing heavily but still letting Harry hold his body. “You’re not going to marry me. This was never supposed to happen. I was supposed to, I was supposed to…” He couldn’t even finish his sentence. Why did he come to the city? There was no clear direction, no clear answer, there was nothing and no one to guide him. 

“I’m sorry.” Harry released Zayn from his grasp, moving away and getting off the bed, leaving Zayn to continue stiffly looking out the window. “I’m so sorry.” There were sounds of clothes being pulled on, a rustle of fabric and skin gliding together. 

“Stop apologizing,” Zayn whispered, his back still turned to Harry. “This is was all me.” 

Harry blinked silently for a moment, watching Zayn hug himself and he closed his eyes. 

“Zayn,” he walked around to the other end of the bed, where Zayn had covered his face and was hanging his head. Harry knelt down before him, and pulled his small hands to his chest. “You need to stop wallowing within limitations that don’t exist. Yes, you ran off with a stranger. Yes, I held you. Yes, life is full of danger and pain and being unable to recover all the good experiences to cast a shadow over the bad ones, but we’re here now. You have leaped with me into a world so much larger than the couple square feet you’ve known all your life. Please allow me to show you how vast this world can be, and in the end, if you still choose to leave, then I will take you back home.” 

  “You seem...obsessed.” Zayn shook his head. “Are you sure the infection hasn’t reached your head?” He slid a sly smile, the tense state of his shoulders slowly letting up. “If we get to know each other, what happens if you’re dissatisfied?” 

“I have a feeling neither of us will be.” Harry smiled, bright and handsome, with the sunlight creating a halo around his head. “Now come on, we have many places to visit today.” 


 

“To begin,” Harry brushed at Zayn’s shoulders, admiring the clean and pressed garments that Hewitt had sowed smaller the night before. “An ice lolly.” 

“What’s an ice lolly?” 

“It’s uh, flavored ice. Usually something like strawberry or...yes, strawberry.”

“Ice in the summer?” Zayn marveled as Harry dug throughout the pantry, dusting away the sawdust in the icebox to reveal a very large chunk of perfectly cut and preserved ice. “It’s magic!” 

“I’ll have someone get them ready by the time we return, it’s ‘far too strong’ for breakfast, as Hewitt would say. Have you ever seen Kensington Palace, Zayn?” Harry reached for his hand, shocked that the latter didn’t pull it away. When their hands touched, there was a generation of heat against them, almost sizzling and popping each time Harry decided to interlock their fingers. 

“Is this not a palace?” Zayn cocked an eyebrow. “It seems fit enough for the King. And how wealthy are you to be able to own a pantry twice the size of my house?” He fumbled through many jars listed with dates, with tons of strawberry jams to last throughout the whole year. 

“My father’s name does hold a bit of power, it’s true.” Harry leaned against a sack of potatoes, trying to not hit his head on the ginormous cured meats hanging above his head. “But he passed right before my sister got married.”

“You have a sister?” Zayn asked, smiling at the thought. Previously, he hadn’t wondered what a woman would look like with Harry’s face, but now that the thought has been enabled, Zayn thought to himself that she must be an unfairly fair woman. Good breeding, good grooming, good schooling. How out of place it was for Zayn to shuffle through the grand house, mimicking a life that required such things. 

“I do, she’s living with her American soldier in New York.” Harry chuckled, reaching over to hold Zayn’s hand. “I know I may not be as exotic as an American, but could I pass as such an adonis?” 

“If you’re trying to get me to incriminate myself by saying embarrassing and indecent things, it really isn’t going to work.” Zayn left himself be led out, following Harry to a secret door that led directly to the outdoor grounds of the house. “But perhaps these roses might do it.” He gasped, the air around the garden was suddenly viscous , perfumed with the most plump and healthy looking flowers he’d ever seen in his entire life. 

“Is the rose you’re favorite flower?” Harry flirted coyly, sporting a sheepish grin on his face. “Probably not, it’d be too conceited to love yourself.” Zayn groaned, swatting at Harry’s arm in red-faced delight, everything seemed lush and rich, surrounding and encapsulating Zayn in almost a forcefield of gratitude. 

“You’re right, it isn’t my favorite flower. These are.” Zayn bent down at the grass to pluck two dandelions, making sure to pick them as deep as he could, revealing a very long stem. Harry scrunched his face up in near horror. 

“You...You’re most partial to the weeds?” He snorted, and Zayn shook his head at him.

“If you pinch a small hole in the stem here, you can thread it through like this,” Zayn held up his creation to show Harry. “You can’t make a ring with roses.” He giggled, tying off the flower around Harry’s ring finger. “Would you walk around like this?” 

“Of course!” Harry assured Zayn, “I’m never taking it off.” They spent a few more minutes picking at the dandelions and making each other bracelets, and Harry thought to himself that when the sunlight hit Zayn’s face just right, he was nothing short of an angel. 


 

This went on for the next six months. They rode boats just when the autumn leaves began to fall, for Harry rowed and Zayn read books out loud, licking sherry and madeira off of each other’s lips. Zayn practiced his penmanship by writing letters to Liam and Mr. Selley every single day, becoming enchanted with the thrill of watching ink melt and dry into paper, and pouring the hot rubber to seal and crease it goodbye. He practiced creating straight and even lines, crisping up his diction when he read aloud his essays during classes, and when school was finished, Harry would be there waiting right outside. They picked apples and Zayn made twenty different kinds of apple pie, not only impressing the cook staff in the house, but also possibly making Harry sick by trying all of them. When winter hit, they ice skated on the banks of the Thames River, drew fireplaces and hung the stockings on the mantle. 

He attended church for the very first time, and he sat on the pews surrounded by entire families and the scent of cinnamon, no, nutmeg in the air. As he sat with back straight and listened to every word the priest had to say, in his head he wondered if God truly did have the power to heal and save. If God truly did love him, and if he could forgive just how slow and useless Zayn had been up until now. If it was God’s doing that brought him to Harry. If God was the cause of his continued happiness. 

It became a routine, of Zayn waking up to a new set of clothes fresh from the tailor, he now had his own pair of shoes. He ate breakfast with Harry in the mornings, walked to university, then came home to bathe and enjoy dinner at night. He got into the habit of baking bread with white flour, a luxury that was only allowed on one’s birthday back home. He got used to smelling of perfume and soap, and in the past, when he worked with his hands doing hard labor on the ranch, his hands were now used to write in cursive and formulate stories birthed from his own creativity. He no longer washed his own clothes or shaved his own face. Day by day, his bones filled out more due to Mistress Hewitt’s feeding, his skin became brighter, and his mind slowly forgot about all he did back in Suraj Mukhi. 

Three days a week, Harry left early in the morning before Zayn woke up, and came back home before dinner smelling of expensive tobacco and whiskey. Every time he came back, he’s have a brand new book for Zayn, more ink, more paper, and together they would read about the current state of the war. Or as much as they could anyways, since Mistress Hewitt didn’t like to talk about bombs and ‘collateral damage.’ On Saturday nights, Louis and some other friends would come over for a night cap. 

What was strange was that Zayn no longer found anything strange. The fact that the food, firewood, spirits, and water never ran out didn’t perplex him anymore. He forgot about the plains, the forest, and the barnyard animals that were once the whole of his entire world. No longer was he struggling to remember any piece of his past or family, for now he was so busy he barely had time to think about anything. It was him and Harry, who he broke bread with, made love with, and read out loud to. Everything else began to fade away. 

Until spring came, he and Harry’s first spring. 

They were out into the town, holding hands in the bustling street, perusing through the flea market and watching as men fished in the turbid waters of the Thames. In a silent moment, Harry turned to Zayn looking a bit nervous. 

“Darling, today marks a particularly important day since began courting,” Zayn nodded at Harry’s words, unable to contain his own smile. “And I think it’s time for us to really move forward upon entering this next journey of our lives, which is still all fate determined by God at the moment, but if I’m being very optimistic--which I am--”

“Stop stammering love, it’s just me.” Zayn reached to touch his face. “What is it?”

“I’d like you to meet my parents. I haven’t...I haven’t visited since my...I feel like a terrible son.” Harry looked vulnerable, and Zayn grabbed his hands to bring them to his chest. 

“I understand, truly, I do,” Zayn placed Harry’s hands on his heart. “I don’t even know where my parents are buried, so don’t feel as though you’re a bad son. It’s quite easy to be proud of you, and I am sure if they were here right now they’d be beaming at all your achievements.”  

“Then we’ll go.” Harry kissed his hands, attracting the side eyes of many people passing them. “My god, we’ve become one of those insufferable couples that people can’t stand to look like on the side of the road. That gentleman’s nearly got sick from his grief of loneliness.” Zayn giggled, and they were off. They jumped into a cab, Harry thumbing at the back of Zayn’s hand the entire way, clasping it almost desperately. Zayn’s face was red the entire way there. “Should we have gotten flowers? Jesus, I can’t seem to get a grip on myself.” 

“I’m sure it’s fine.” Zayn reassured him, “We’ll get them flowers next time.” 

“They’d love you, I mean, my father would at least. He was just like me in never getting enough of someone who had such a different perspective on life than him. My mother was from your town, point being made there. Perhaps that’s what all the ruckus is about.” They got out of the car, the whole churchyard an effervescent green and damp all around. “I love the way you view the world.” 

“It’s never ending with you, hm?” Zayn sighed exasperatedly. “Do you spend your hours thinking about new ones to spew, hm?” He could see Harry giggle from the back as he led them to another section of the graveyard. Even the cemeteries were beautiful here. 

But then there was a sudden stop. Like really, Zayn bumped into Harry’s back and was jolted for a minute, looking up at the back of Harry’s head in instant confusion. “Harry, is something wrong?” He couldn’t see from behind Harry’s broad back, so he walked along the side to see that it was because a man in front of them. Well, a good twenty feet away from them, but in the way, nevertheless. Aforementioned man was setting down two bouquets of springtime flowers underneath their respective stones. 

“N-Niall?” 

The man turned around, meeting face to face with Harry, and after the initial shock a giant grin erupted onto his face. “Hazza!”

Hazza? Hazza

“What are you doing here?” Harry asked breathlessly as Niall strode over for a very large hug. “I thought you were in Mullingar.” His arms shot up to squeeze Niall in the same fashion, and the two rocked alongside each other. When they finally pulled away, Niall gave Harry’s cheek a quick peck before reaching down to retrieve his hat that had fallen off in the ruckus. 

“Well, yes, I was in Mullingar. Still am. I was going to come over and visit you but wanted to stop by here first. To think that we’d meet here,” Niall chortled, then quieted his voice as there were other people, you know, grieving over their family members. When Niall saw Zayn in the background, looking awkward and sheepish, he made a face at Harry. “Haz you’ve made me a rude bastard! You should introduce me to this lad!” Niall smiled, and it was a beautiful fucking smile . Zayn bit down on his jaw intensely and smiled back, shaking his beautiful fucking hand

“Lovely to meet you, I wish it would’ve been in another setting, but fate has gilded it in this fashion, I supposed. My name is Niall Horan, I’m...one of Harry’s friends.” 

“It’s lovely to meet you as well, my name is Zayn Malik. I’m also one of Harry’s friends.” 

In the corner of his eye, he could just make out Harry flinching. 

“What brings you here? This is sudden.” Harry inserted himself back into his conversation, but his words sounded like his chest was tight. Zayn was feeling extremely uneasy, uncomfortable, and could feel his entire body getting hot. 

“Well, to tell you the truth...I’m getting married.” Niall pulled down at his collar to reveal a very visible and present mating mark on the base of his neck. “His name is Charles, I met him a few months ago and it just clicked, you know? Since all my family is buried here, and I heard about your mam and you know they treated me like I was their son, Hazza, so I came to pay my respects before settling anythin’ with the registry.” He flashed another brilliantly white smile, putting his collar back in place and tapping on it with a small chuckle. “I was planning on telegramming both you and Lou before I came, but, sometimes life just works out that way!” 

Harry’s eyes were glazed over. His chest wasn’t inflating and deflating, so Zayn knew that he was holding his breath. His entire face was flushed, and his body language just so telling . Zayn has never felt worse. 

“T-That’s amazing, man. I’m really...I’m really happy for you.” Harry went in for another hug, this time pecking Niall’s cheek as well, and again they rocked back and forth. While they kept on embracing each other, Zayn silently stepped towards the graves that Niall had laid down flowers for and knelt down in front of them. Inside his coat pocket, he took out an embroidered kerchief and began to wipe down the stones. With a finger, he traced over their names. Desmond Styles and Anne Selley Styles. In pace quieti sunt . In peace they rest. They. Together. Zayn wondered if he would ever feel such a love like that. Niall was walking away down the churchyard road. He felt a hand grab at his shoulder, turning around to see it was Harry. And his eyes were still dewy, out of focus, and blown out. His scent smelled sweeter than before, and Zayn knew what that meant. Zayn gulped, turning away from Harry and brushing off his hand. 

“This is a lovely place to bury someone, Harry. It’s so very quiet and peaceful.” Zayn whispered, all of a sudden feeling very meek again. He hadn’t felt so powerless in a long while. 

“Is something the matter, darling?” 

“I fear as though I’ve made a fool of myself.” Zayn stood back up, finally exhaling a shaky breath as he walked away in front of Harry. 


 

“Zayn, open the door. Please.” 

Zayn was in his own bed today, his outdoor clothes still on and hugging himself with the blankets and pillows. He ignored Harry’s pleads outside. 

“There’s nothing going on between us, I swear to you, it’s all over. Zayn please, you’ve missed two meals and you’re giving Jane quite a fright.” 

Don’t bring Jane into this. 

“Just please allow me to explain it all. Don’t have me spill it all out in the hallway looking like the imbecile I am. I’m sorry.” 

You didn’t do anything wrong . I did. Don’t make yourself so vulnerable in front of all your employees

But Harry began to explain himself anyways. “Our families have known each other since before I was born. When both of our mothers conceived around the same time, it had been a running joke that we were to be betrothed to each other. Funnily enough, they did actually set such a de facto arranged marriage. I was in love with him, from the moment I met him, I admit it. I do. Especially when his entire family died of the influenza and he came to live with us. He stayed in the room across in the other hall--” Zayn opened the door. 

“That’s enough,” Zayn could barely get the words out past his tears. “Just stop it, Harry.”

“But then we both presented, and we were both alphas. I was heartbroken, and my parents decided to send him to his great-uncle and aunt’s estate in Mullingar, so that he could learn his family trade and live his life far from London.” 

“Harry--”

“He used to be so tortured and broken, Zayn. But now, going away from London has done him so much good I’ve realized how much my own life has paled.”

“I don’t need a life story every time you make a mistake, Harry.” Zayn snapped, but then immediately regretted it. 

“That was almost four years ago now, Zayn. It’s over and done, he’s getting bloody married for Christ’s sake. Don’t act like this.” Harry seethed. Were they fighting? They were fighting. 

“You’re saying that you can move on, that you’re biologically incompatible, that now he’s taken and long gone from your grasp, but yet you still yearn for him.” Zayn whispered. “Your eyes become wet, your skin raises where he touches it, you crave his embrace, you can’t get enough of just how good he smells.” 

“It’s been four years.” 

“No, it’s been sixteen years, and you have known me for less than one. I said it when we started this, and I will say it again for it’s true. I’m a fool for ever thinking that I could have this. This was never fate that we crossed paths.” Zayn rubbed at his face, turning his back to Harry and walking further into the room. 

“I love you.”

“Stop it.” Zayn had to refrain from screaming. “Okay, okay.” He shot back up to face Harry. “I’m here because of a promise. You promised to bring me to London, keep me safe from the war, put me through courses, give me books. You promised that to Mr. Selley. I think there should be nothing more than that. And once I’m done with university or the war’s ended or some other major checkpoint, I will go back to my town and find a way to repay you.” 

Harry tried to touch Zayn’s arm, but he dodged in along with a series of strained and stressed breaths. “Darling,”

“Just please stop. I can’t do this. I have people who depend on me now, Harry, including your maternal uncle.” Zayn pushed Harry out, locking the door again. “Please tell Mistress that I’m very sorry for missing dinner again.” 

Harry stormed off, giving the death glare to any servant that shot him a worried or knowing look. He rushed off into his room, running his fingers through his hair over and over again. He washed up in the powder room and did the same thing, slamming soap and suds everywhere in frustration. It was always like this with Zayn, even after it had been so good for so long. He rinsed his hair angrily. Shaved his face angrily (don’t try that at home kids). He couldn’t even finish any work, he was just so angry and done for. By the time he climbed in bed, blew out the lights, he couldn’t sleep a wink. An hour passed, then two, then three. The sun was nearly about to rise again before he heard the doorknob rattle. 

“I couldn’t sleep without you,” That was it. They had been sleeping together for the last six months. “But then that’s it. No more. Even if I never sleep again.” A touch of drama, Zayn. But nevertheless, Harry flipped open his comforter, pulling Zayn into his arms and digging his nose into his hair. They closed their eyes, hearing both hearts beating in tandem, both sets of lungs breathing in tandem. 

“Good night, love.” 

Harry didn’t get a response.


 

 

Zayn stood true to his word. When Harry woke up the following morning, his lover was already gone, had taken an early class, Jane said, hadn’t touched a bit of his breakfast, Hewitt said, never seen him run so quickly out of the house, the butler said. So Harry placed it aside, ate alone, went to his usual work, and came back. But Zayn still hadn’t come home. 

“Just got a phone from the professor of Literature at the university to let the Master of the house know that Zayn is going to stay a few extra hours tonight to finish a project he’d been working on.” Hewitt said as Harry read the daily paper in the parlour. “I do hope everything is alright, Master Styles.” 

“It’s grand and dandy, thank you, Hewitt.” Harry mumbled through his teeth without even looking away from the paper. Mistress Hewitt sighed, wiping her hands on her apron and making a polished exit. After about five hours re-reading every last word of the paper, and yesterday’s paper, and last week’s magazine, the front door finally budged. Zayn slipped in, carrying a very large bag, obviously stuffed with books, and swiftly walked past Harry. No sign at all of acknowledging his existence. Harry heard his bedroom door close. 

This continued for the next year. Zayn would stay at the school until late, eat with fellow classmates outside or with his professor, silently slip back into his room and if Harry caught him, he acted like not a soul was there. He lost the weight that he had gained, his face becoming sharper and his eyes slowly becoming more sunken in. Harry left dandelions outside Zayn’s door nearly every day. He worked extremely hard too, drinking obscene amounts on a daily basis and smoking at least a pipe every hour. He sketched his blueprints and organized speeches for the military, designed war codes and never paused in his work. Every time he could steal even a moment of eye contact with Zayn, his entire body would sigh in deep, insatiable longing. He would wait outside the doorway of the library as Zayn would practice reading the classics to Jane, who would applaud happily every time Zayn accomplished pronouncing a particularly difficult word. Steal a glimpse of his smile. Harry felt as though his character was becoming more dishonest by the second with all this thievery, and the scent of tallow became thick in his bedroom when he left the lights burning all through the night. 

But it never once felt lonely. Unspoken exchanges in the kitchen or hall. In the rose garden, Zayn would sit amongst the flowers as he scribbled words into his notebook, and not too far would be Harry underneath the gazebo, sketching out a new blueprint for something, anything at all. He was a specialist in being able to enhance and upgrade practically everything. This also included bombs (but he would never talk about it). When they saw each other, their jaws clenched and their chests became tight, not knowing if they should say something and what they’d even say if they tried. 

On a fateful winter’s day, twenty two days away from Christmas, to be exact, it finally happened. The moment that was constantly in the back of everyone’s minds, but everyone was too preoccupied to give the thought any room to foster and grow. 

Zayn went into heat. 

Harry was coming back from a meeting, trudging through the snow with a scarf covering the greater half of his face, and as he approached the house, he saw Jane frantically gathering snow into a large copper bowl with her bare hands. When he got even closer to stop her, he turned her hands over to reveal that they were chapped and bleeding, but she clearly didn’t care. 

“M-Master Styles, you’re home,” She was hyperventilating, as though it was terrible that Harry was there. “Stay here, I’ll get Mistress.” She sprinted into the house with the bowl full of ice, of course Harry didn’t listen to her and followed her in. 

He immediately noticed there were a significant decrease in the number of workers in the house. He looked around in confusion, loosening up his scarf as Hewitt took large strides towards him, looking panicked. She was too late. He smelled it in the air. 

He growled, his eyes becoming unnaturally dark, “Zayn.” Before he could think or move another step, Hewitt smacked him hard across the face, making his entire body lurched back. He shook his head aggressively, holding his head where a bright red mark was already starting to form. 

“He doesn’t want you, you foolish, incompetent, sorry excuse of a man,” Hewitt, with strength that he didn’t know she possessed, dragged him out to a separate part of the house, shoving him into a chair. “He’s in agony, and you need to make a decision. I’ve already sent all the Alphas out of the house, since they’re so young, none of them would be responsible enough to help Lord Malik. And yes, after this, you are making him a Lord.” She wielded a formidable weapon, a metal ladle, right at his face, threatening to knock him out if he tried getting near Zayn’s room. “Call Mister Tomlinson or I will..” 

Harry couldn’t process any of this. The boy he loved was just down the hall, crying and screaming in indescribable pain, but he didn’t want him. He got up again, only to get smacked down by Hewitt. “Louis is my best friend, he’d never--”

“Stop making this about you. If Zayn had broken his leg, you’d call a physician. If he wasn’t partial to that physician, you’d bring him a different one, you’d bring all the best physicians in all of the King’s lands to treat him. This is nothing more or short of that. Be an adult,” she slapped him again, but Harry was still wild and out of his senses. “I’m calling him. You can stay here.” Before he knew it, she was outside the cellar, the door slammed and he heard her key lock him inside. With a roar, he slammed his entire body against it, screaming. 


 

Louis rushed over the moment the phone rang. The snow had been too thick to take any cabs, so with several winter coats and a heavy heart, he bolted the four blocks from his large estate to Harry’s. He was met with Jane, the lovely young servant girl, whose cheeks were frostbitten and tear stained, hands bandaged as she led him through the corridor. He had no idea where Harry was, but didn’t stop or think to ask. 

Jane entered the room first, and all the air left Louis’ lungs. It was several degrees hotter, the air several times thicker with an aroma of primal instinct, sweat, and to be honest, sex. Jane was still crying as she wrung out a washcloth laying in a tub of icy water, wiping Zayn’s face and chest.

Oh, you poor thing

Hair stuck to his brow. Entire body covered in a layer of sweat and slick, making his naked body glisten underneath the lights. He was making soft noises of pain, pleading for ‘Janie’ to help him, that it hurt so much, and Louis nearly lost it. He walked over to the side of the bed, shedding both coats, loosening his tie, tossing the scarf away, and immediately pressed his hand to Zayn’s forehead. The reaction was immediate, and the calm and sweet Zayn that Louis had been friends with the last year and a half was all gone, his eyes blown out and scent making the room spin. Zayn’s eyes rolled to the back of his head and grabbed Louis’ hand with both of his frail arms, screaming so loudly that no sound came out. Once he could finally get his quickening breath into a rhythm, between each huff he begged, “Louis, please . Please.” Louis nodded, popping off the buttons of his shirt with his free hand whilst letting Zayn pull his fingers into his mouth. To describe the temperature that Zayn was nursing underneath his skin was probably immeasurable. Alphas themselves have an elevated temperature, so for his hand to feel frozen on Zayn’s head was unthinkable. When Louis finally got his shirt off, he hit his own chest once to spit out the words he needed to say. 

“I know why I’m here and he isn’t love.” Louis started, and Zayn groaned, seemingly trying to change his mind about Louis being there at the slightest mention of Harry. “We don’t have to make this anything more than what it is, and I will always love you as a friend and cherish you as such. I’m going to take care of you, love,” Louis finally unbuckled his belt, kicking his pants to the floor. The slick dripping down Zayn’s thighs had nearly soaked the entire bed, and Louis couldn’t help but lap it up. God, it was honey . He stopped himself from inching up any further. He wasn’t here for that. 

Zayn’s hole was glistening and nearly gaping, at every touch of his skin he whimpered, his mouth dry and jaw aching. Louis was already hard, and within the minute the latter was inside him. Both boys let out an inhuman gasp and groan, rocking back and forth and Zayn began to sob from the relief. During a heat, everything goes on forever. It was so much worse than Zayn’s first heat, absolutely terrible. Until this alpha--he couldn’t remember Louis’ name--popped a knot in him, it couldn’t be over. It was taking a bloody long time to do so. 

He came five times before Louis finally grunted, pushing even farther into Zayn and collapsed onto his body with a shudder, lifting Zayn gingerly onto his lap and then laying him back down onto his chest. Once they calmed down, Zayn was conscious enough to speak. 

“You didn’t have to do this. What if you’ve ruined your friendship with Harry?” Zayn asked in a small voice, which Louis thought was positively adorable. No wonder Harry was so whipped, one look into this kid’s eyes...

So he looked away. “Hazza and I are solid. We also fucked once when we were younger so don’t worry about it.” 

Zayn shot up, nearly ripping off Louis’ dick. “What?” He whisper-shouted. After Louis’ scrunched up face finally loosened up, he gritted his teeth and settled Zayn back down. 

“Well uh, we were an adventurous couple of boys who shared the same tutor and spent every breathing minute of every day together. To be honest, there isn’t a person in this entire neighborhood who hasn’t fallen in love with Harry at least twice.” 

Zayn gave no response to this, and Louis knew he fucked up. “But trust me when I say this, little one, it’s different with you.” Zayn looked up. 

“How so?”

“Well, he wasn’t even like this with Niall.” Zayn flinched. Ooh, bit sensitive. 

“Once Niall left for Ireland, Harry smoothed that all over. He told me about that day in the cemetery. I would bet on that however he reacted in front of you was just from the shock of it. He hadn’t...we hadn’t seen the bugger in years. Weren’t even invited to his wedding.” Louis grunted, pulling Zayn off of him and reaching over to grab a washcloth to clean up. “So you should talk to him. A year of punishment is long enough, and this is coming from the king of grudges.” 


 

Harry knew it was the next morning because the window in the cellar had light coming through it. He knew it all had to be over by now, so he sat down and patiently waited for someone to let him out. His head snapped back up when the door knob turned, in coming in a very scared young boy with a basin of warm water and some cloth. He was also holding breakfast. Gingerly, he stepped up to his employer and kneeled down to where Harry was on the floor, the sound of water hitting water ringing throughout the air. With a gulp, the servant began to wipe at Harry’s face, trying to be extra gentle where Hewitt had made a nasty mark near his temple. “Good morning, sir.” A bare whisper. 

Harry shot up, nearly giving the boy a heart attack, pushing the cellar door open and walking up without a word. 

There was a great amount of commotion that flowed through the echoey halls of the house, yells from butlers and scared maids scampering about like mice. Zayn had just woken up from his slumber, sitting up to find Louis gone and the room scrubbed and returned to its original pristine state. He didn’t remember being bathed, his sheets being changed, or putting his clothes back on. He groaned as a maid walking past his door dropped a large metal bowl, the sound pounding at his head. With shaky legs, he willed himself to get to the door, rubbing his eyes and asking the nearest person, “What’s going on?”

“Mister Malik, please go back inside. We will handle it and then come get you for breakfast.” A senior butler used his gloved hands to support Zayn as he was led to an armchair back into his room. Just then, a giant roar ripped through the house, and Zayn’s heart stopped. His entire body was weak and unstable, but he pushed past everyone towards the noise, hearing furniture being thrown and papers being torn to shreds. 

Harry was destroying the library. He was ripping out the shelves with his bare hands, all the seats that had been neatly placed in the room were upturned. Chair legs broken, the stuffing of the loveseat exploding past the velvet lined cushions. Books were being ripped apart. Zayn felt someone pull him back, it was Jane who looked like she was ready to quit, face pale as she used all her strength to try and take Zayn away from this mess, from the danger of being hit by all the books being savagely thrown across the room. “Zayn, please--” Jane cried out, unable to get enough leverage to drag Zayn away. Zayn shoved her aside, holding the wall as he moved closer. 

At the mention of his name, Harry stopped. He straightened up and slowly turned around, faced with a tired-looking, tears dripping off his chin. Zayn let himself fall to the floor to pick up a manuscript, once a book but Harry had ripped out a binding. He pulled it to his chest, sobbing, looking back up at Harry with the most potent betrayal in his eyes. Harry’s eyes were crazed and blown out, pupils pitch black and surrounded by a webbed iris, his hands were bleeding and was breathing harshly. Harry wanted to fall too, wanted to hold Zayn in his arms and apologize and apologize and bite him and breathe him in, but he couldn’t. His mind was consumed by anger, so he turned around again to continue throwing books off the shelves. 

Did a lot of thinking while I was locked up ,” Harry’s voice was guttural and nearly animalistic. “ About London and promises and oceans and factories ,” he tore up the copy of Jane Eyre, Zayn emitting a desperate scream for him to stop. “ Never read anything quite like it. Wanted to see if my uncle had hidden an extra book somewhere in here for you to have thought up with such a tale. ” When he got to the other wall lined with books, his hands met a particular shelf on a particular level, and Zayn’s shriek nearly made his eardrums pop. A book fell down onto the floor, pages getting spread apart, and yellow confetti immediately littered the ground. Harry stopped, reaching down to pick up the foreign objects as Zayn tried to get to it first. 

They were dandelions. Zayn had saved every dandelion that Harry had been leaving outside his door for the past year, pressed and dried them into this book. Zayn was no longer upset, he was furious. He forced himself up, ignoring the pain in his back as he snatched the book away from him. Harry’s eyes were still wild, but blinking furiously at the shock of what he had just seen. 

Zayn began to yell, his voice the loudest it had ever been in his entire life. 

“There was a fisherman who lived on an island with his wife and four daughters. Every day, he would step into his boat and onto the sea, gathering herring starting when the sun greeted him and ending when the sun went to sleep.” Zayn hit Harry’s chest, screaming in frustration. “But one day, he was met with a terrible storm, and in a single wave him and his boat fell into the ocean. He thought he’d surely die, but a siren had grabbed him and gave him the gift of being able to breathe underwater. They fell in love, and lived underneath the island.” Harry’s eyes shifted from green to black erratically. “But then one day,” Zayn collapsed, and this time, Harry fell with him. “The factories on the land had exploded, and the surface of the ocean was covered in thick black tar. The island looked to be suspended in air.” He wheezed, and saw that Harry was beginning to come back to his senses. He gulped, trying to moisten his dry mouth before proceeding. 

“He promised the siren to save their home, that he would go back to the land and fix it. But he couldn’t get past the black. It had stretched too far into the ocean for him to have swum around it. His beautiful siren died choking in his arms, while his wife withered away just above him. All their children had long grown up and gone, but she had waited for the day he might return.” 

“Zayn-” 

“You know what’s rich about this?” Zayn snapped, looking up to see Harry looking around, confused and heartbroken. “This library isn’t even yours. You’ve destroyed Mr. Selley’s property.” He hit at his chest again. “And all last night, all I wanted was you.” He spit out, voice wavering and tears forming in his eyes again. “I shouldn’t want you like this.” He began to squeeze at Harry’s wrists, his hands were bleeding too much. 

“I love you,” Harry could barely even make the sounds. 

“I think I love you more.” Zayn snapped, still boiling. 

Harry realized what a fool he was for thinking that he was the fool this entire time. When he thought that Zayn was just throwing away the flowers, he was preserving each and every one. When he sneaked a longing look at him when Zayn looked away, Zayn was doing the same, peeking over the roses to the gazebo in secret. When Harry was watching Zayn and Jane happily reading and laughing together, Zayn did the same when Louis would come over to get drunk and silly with Harry. 

“You’re terrible. I hate you.” Zayn said, but he couldn’t mean a single thing he was saying. “I should hate you. Look at the mess you’ve made.” He couldn’t help but pull Harry closer, angrily kissing all over his face and thumbing at the scratch on his face. Harry almost couldn’t register how confusing this was. Zayn held Harry’s head in his arms, and he bit down into his Alpha’s neck. Harry flinched, and it didn’t hurt that much, but he let Zayn do it anyways. 

Then he moved to his mouth, and as they kissed they fought back each time one tried to overpower the other. Within the next five minutes Harry had taken off Zayn’s shirt and Zayn was moaning into Harry’s neck. When he moved to set Zayn down onto the ground, he groaned, pushing Harry just a little. “You’re bleeding, you knob.” 

“It doesn’t hurt.” Harry pushed him back down, moving Zayn’s legs to either side of his waist and pushing his hips up. Zayn wrapped his arms around Harry’s neck as their lips met fervently, but just as Zayn’s eyes were about to roll back into his head he pushed at harry, gasping for air. “I’m serious, you’re bleeding onto me.” 

“Did Louis do it like this too?” Harry mumbled, nudging his nose against Zayn’s face, obviously hurt like a puppy who got accidentally kicked. Accidentally.  

“Mm, you’re doing it again,” Zayn felt his body being lowered as Harry attacked his neck. “And no. It was very straightforward.” Harry huffed exasperatedly at that. “Plus, I heard you two had something in the past, so I am drawing this line even and straight.” Zayn made a slashing motion with his hand. Harry blinked, but then sat up in defeat. Zayn took his shirt and wrapped Harry’s hands together with it, and they both fumbled out of the room. 

I love you. 

I think I love you more. 


 

“I’ve decided to go back home,” Zayn said a couple hours later. Harry nearly spat out his tea, eyes going comically wide in panic. “To get Liam. Then I’ll come back.” They were wrapped around each other in the parlour, the fireplace making every part of their bodies toasted and soft. Harry was about to protest, but Zayn cut him off before he could do so, “I promise I’ll come back. No more running away.” 

“But--”

“You know that the war is coming to London. I made him a promise. He’s supposed to receive a letter every day with how I’ve been timing them but he’ll be missing a few from here. I have to get him.”

“Is he important to you?” Harry asked, sighing into Zayn’s skin. 

“He scratches my back, I scratch his, as the people at university say.” 

“I could come with you,” Harry took a shot a tit, but of course Zayn shook his head. 

“So that you can get septic from a hole through your other leg? No. You stay here and you keep doing the good work you’re doing. You save lives. You come home for dinner on time. You stop drinking.”Zayn bit the inside of his cheek. “I’ll handle the rest of my affairs and come straight back.” 

Harry nodded, contemplating for a moment before deciding to touch Zayn’s clothes, wondering just how satisfying it would be to rip them off. Zayn immediately noticed, weakly pushing at Harry’s chest, the other working to intertwine their fingers. The cuts on Harry’s face and hands have healed already, but Zayn was still sore from the night before…

“I’ll have to take the books back,” Zayn whispered, breath hitching when Harry’s lips met his ear. “You know, this sounds silly, but I always thought I’d be the wife.” 

“Hm?” Harry was busily brushing Zayn’s hair out of his face, kissing and breathing down his neck. 

“Waiting for her husband, knowing he’s drowned but still having that tiny, probably insane part of her mind wondering if she could still have hope. I thought that I would end up like that.” Zayn gripped at Harry’s back, just letting him touch his body and rub his giant hands all over his torso. “But you--ah, you make me feel like I’m the siren.”

“Are you implying that I have a secret wife that I’ve been hiding behind your back?” Harry nipped at Zayn’s side, making him let out the softest noise and Zayn pulled at Harry’s hair. 

“No,” Zayn felt the rush down his spine and nerves trailing up his neck and every part of his body felt like it was on fire. “You make me feel like I’m beautiful.” Harry stayed silent, moving together as they toyed with each other’s bodies, as though they were merely nothing but parts of a large game that they couldn’t be aware of. The feeling that the universe was turning and giggling at just how silly they were being, mindlessly holding bodies and touching sweat with sweat, like lovers, like animals. 

“Promise me that you’re coming back.” 

“I swear on my life.” 


 

The look on Liam’s face when he answered the door could’ve brought Zayn to tears right then and there. His hair had grown even longer, frizzy, unkempt, and looked terribly uncomfortable. Liam’s lips were pale, his cheeks not rosy, and he had gotten skinnier. He almost looked shorter than Zayn. With a whimper, he threw himself into Zayn’s arms, who dropped all his bags and the driver behind him had finished taking out all the boxes of books. 

“Hi, Liam.” Zayn’s small voice made an appearance again, the bone-crushing embrace making his eyes squeeze shut but Liam didn’t let up, not one bit. “I told you I’d be back for you, hm?” 

“You got bigger,” Liam sniffled, finally looking up with a pair of large and round doe eyes, glossy with tears. “Filled out.” Zayn kissed his hair. 

“It’s Sunday, aren’t you supposed to be at church?” 

“Old man can’t really get to anywhere nowadays.” Liam didn’t let go, so they shuffled together farther into the house. Zayn waved the driver goodbye, who tipped his hat and started the car. “My grandpa kicked it.”

“I’m sorry.” 

“No, he beat me. It’s better.” 

“Take me to the old man, will you?” Zayn brushed Liam’s tears away, then combed through his hair with his fingers, smiling as though Liam wasn’t staring. “We used to cut your hair every two weeks, it grows so fast.” 

“He’s having a lay in his room.” Liam rubbed at his face, crossing his arms to follow Zayn into the old man’s bedroom. When they got to the door, Zayn turned around, took a deep breath and instructed Liam to go get the boxes from outside. He turned the knob, pushed the door and heard it creak, and a body inside of the room twitched at the intruder. Mr. Selley struggled to get up for Zayn, almost desperate to push his frail body up for his guest. 

“You handsome devil.” Mr. Selley barked a laugh when Zayn lifted his torso up in support so that now he could sit against the wall. “Who are you, and what have you done with my Zayn? Are these his clothes? His fresh smelling hair? Your face got even brighter without any mud dried onto it,” Zayn laughed at that, sitting beside the man that had loved him and taken care of him for so many years. 

“I’m slightly more learned than the last time you saw me.” 

“You’ve filled out.” Mr. Selley commented, patting down Zayn’s arms and shoulders. “It fits you, looking rich.” 

“I brought Miss Annabella’s books,” Zayn sighed, because what was in front of him did not look good. Mr. Selley was definitely deteriorating, it didn’t take an idiot to see that. 

“About time,” Mr. Selley answered, nodding his head. “As you can see, I’m dying. Some kind of ill of the stomach, the doctor said.” 

“It fits you, saying that so plainly.” His voice shuddered as he said it. He honestly didn’t know how to cope with it, but he agreed it would be lame to break down in front of the old man right now. 

“I was thinking that if you never came, I could just leave this house to Liam.” Mr. Selley continued to nod slowly, his eyes fluttering open and shut. “But I’m glad you did, because it’s time for you two to leave.” 

“And who will take care of you?” Zayn scoffed in disbelief. “Would it kill you to be selfish for once in your life?” He helped lay Selley back down onto the bed, turning to see that Liam had finished bringing all the books in. “I’m staying for as long as you need me.” 

“I’m not going to let you bury another body, you silly boy.” Mr. Selley, who paused for a moment before starting again, “Do you...remember more? About your mother?” 

Zayn shook his head. “No, that part of me fades bit by bit every day. I’ve been studying so hard that now, I’ve decided to only look towards the future. It’s alright that only once in a while, my mum can appear in my dreams.” 

“I told you that all our villagers were buried in a special place in the forest, but that was a lie. Since plague times the residents of this region have been carting away their dead to the sea, about fifty miles east. It keeps the land healthy and the spirits at bay.” Mr. Selley bit his lip, like he was remembering something painful. “Y’know, Harry’s mum would always say that even though she’d grow up to be a rich lady, when she dies she wanted to be with our mother and father in the water.” Selley was exhausted from this dialogue, his breath inconsistent and strained. “I think she ended up underneath the roads of that city she always wanted to be important in.” 

She did, but Zayn couldn’t tell Mr. Selley that. He knew that his mother was probably buried at sea, and so were all the answers to the questions he had about his own past. What he couldn’t tell Mr. Selley is that he didn’t want to know those answers. Especially if it meant sporting that same face the old man was sporting right now, the one that showed he remembered everything and it was hurting him so much. Perhaps it was better that Zayn didn’t remember. 

“You should just call the mayor, tell him I’m dying. He’ll send a nurse, and you take Liam back to the city, you hear? You teach him proper grammar and how to clean himself and take care of himself.” When Zayn shook his head, Mr. Selley grunted, “Trust me, I’ve got a week, maybe two. You both have suffered enough.” 

“How do I repay you?” The tears finally let themselves show, running down Zayn’s face and his throat felt dry and all the fancy words he had learned in the past year felt juvenile, as if nothing could explain this feeling, like the whole world was about to end and there was nothing he could do about it. “I could’ve been dead by now. But you grabbed me and pulled me in.” His words stuttered, his heart couldn’t find its rhythm. 

“You brought the books,” Mr. Selley reached up with a dry hand and touched Zayn’s face. “Now I can bring them back to her.” 


 

The next morning, Zayn woke up to an extremely sore neck and stiff back. The hay and wool mattress did a number on his body, nothing compared to the rich one he had back at Harry’s estate. He yawned, spreading his entire body as the sunlight poured from one opening in the window, and it occurred to him that he felt numb. In the bed next to him, Liam was curled up in a ball, looking ever so sweet. He pulled himself up, rubbed at his eyes, then got to work. 

He made sure that all the animals were maintained and the fields were turned. He scrubbed every bit of the house, putting away the utilities and the excess away into cabinets and places of storage, opening up each room in the house like he was uncovering a memory of what it once looked like. When Mr. Selley woke up, he silently washed the old man’s hair with a bucket of hot water he gathered from the well, snipping it shorter and shaved his face with a switchblade, the sound of knife cutting hair loud in the room. He helped him swallow down half a bowl of porridge before it all got a bit too much, so Zayn swept the floor quickly and left him to rest. He fed Liam before going out and running towards his cottage with an empty bag. 

It had been over a year since he’s done this, and even though he’d done it over a thousand times, the run through the forest now only brought up memories of when he had dragged Harry’s body through the path that fateful day. He couldn’t pay attention to how the bugs were small black dots on the sun, or how the morning dew made the air feel wet. The crunch of grass and plants underneath his feet, the exhilarating slip of his body over moss, and the sweat that coated his back. When he reached his cottage, he nearly threw up, lightheaded. 

He pushed open his front door, the smell the exact same as the last time he was there. He took probably about four breaths before starting to dump belongings of importance into the bag he brought, raising a smile when he walked past the linens he was drying for Harry’s wound. He straightened the chairs, each kitchen utensil, dusted all the surfaces and windows. When he was done, he picked his bag back up and walked to the front door. After walking off the steps of his porch, he spun around to face his house, and in true Suraj Mukhi fashion, he bowed before it. In a silent prayer, he asked any God that was up there to protect the house, and he thanked it for all the nights it had kept him safe. He had lost a lot in his life, it was true, but so did this house. It was fate that Zayn stayed alive. It was fate that brought him and his house to this moment. When he was finally ready, he left back for the ranch. 

He helped Liam wash his face and hair, cutting it shorter like he had done for Mr. Selley and helped into new clothes he had brought back from the city. They were big on his skinny frame. Together, they finished the chores, and when night creeped up on them, they butchered a chicken and had it for dinner, then lit all the candles near Mr. Selley’s bed so Zayn could show off his new reading skills. The three of them sat close together as Zayn gently flipped page by page, pacing his words and smiling as Liam’s face lit up. They repeated this routine for the next three days until the public nurse sent from the town office arrived, and the next few hours after that Harry’s driver had come to pick them up. Zayn helped pack Liam’s five or six things, and they got into the car and left, not before gripping Mr. Selley’s hands one last time and kissing his head. Zayn instructed the nurse that he wanted to be sent out with the piles and piles of books by his bed. Then he and Liam left the ranch, sobbing inconsolably, gripping each other. When Liam fell asleep in his arms about an hour later, he looked out the side windows to view the sunflowers and the green forests, remembering the day that he and Harry had taken this same path. There were so many sunflowers, taking over the fields and drinking every drop of sunlight in before it bid adieu, Zayn wanted to get lost in them. To be swallowed whole and reabsorbed, to forever greet the sky with grace and no other obligation. 

It was late when they finally got back, and strangely, Louis was there to greet them at the front of the mansion. Liam was still asleep when the driver, who was an alpha, went out and opened the back door to carry him out, as the chivalrous man he was. Liam instantly woke up and began to freak out, pressing his nose down with the back of his hand began to struggle. He forced the driver to drop him a couple feet before the door, wriggling and crying because the scent was too strong. “Z-Zayn,” He cried, grabbing for his friend and trying to inch away from Louis, an even stronger Alpha, who was trying to help him up. 

“Oh, love, it’s alright. This is just Louis, he’s Harry’s dearest friend.” Zayn tried to help Liam up, but they were both very weak and approximately the same size, so he tumbled to the ground as well. When Louis picked Liam up, it was even worse. The smell was so strong it made his head tight, scrunching up his face and started to pound at Louis’ chest. They eventually made it to the first seat inside the house, Zayn following after them and making a beeline for Harry’s room. 

Louis put Liam down, his body still hovering over his, and Liam panicked, breathing heavily while trying to shove Louis away. Louis grabbed the nape of his neck, pushing his head to the side and bit down on Liam’s neck. The omega screeched, truly not knowing what was happening, struggling underneath him until his body (to his disbelief and dismay) went limp. 

“That’s it, love. You’re okay. It’s all okay,” Louis cooed, pulling back and lapping at the wound. He sifted his fingers through his soft brown hair, until Liam’s vision and nose began to clear. “It’s all a bit overwhelming, innit? First interaction with a bloke like me, I’m assuming.” Liam whimpered, cheeks flaming when his body disobeyed him, instinctively drawing himself closer to Louis. “You sweet thing,” Louis whispered, their noses touching. Zayn came back out with a blanket and Harry following him like a lost puppy, covering Liam with it and Louis quickly moved to snuggle him closer. 

“What’s happened to the heating?” Zayn was shaking, was about to join Liam on Louis’ lap before Harry pulled him backwards into his arms. “I feel frozen.” 

“The gas lines got frozen, so I had someone go back there to try and fix them before you’d come. How was my uncle?” Zayn wrapped his arms around Harry’s neck, folding his legs up and kissing at his face. He was so warm. 

“He’s really ill, Harry.” Zayn murmured, sighing when Harry moved to intertwine their fingers. “Really, really ill.” 

Harry’s jaw was tight, and his chest didn’t move up and down for a bit. He didn’t look down at Zayn, but when he finally inhaled, he replied, “Perhaps it is for the best.” He smiled a sad smile, and kissed the hand that he had trapped within his grasp. “He shouldn’t have to be in such pain during a war.” 

Louis was too busy fiddling with Liam’s hair, looking ever so fascinated and entranced. When he rubbed Liam’s ear in between his thumb and forefinger, the latter shifted in his lap, letting out a soft sigh and Louis got pulled in even further. Liam leaned his face into Louis’ touch, as though it was very right and every instinct told him that the man holding him was safe. 

“Louis is going to take you and Liam to Ireland. We have word that it’s safe there. Niall and Charles know you’re coming.” 

Zayn didn’t want to hear what Harry was saying. He just wanted to stay in his arms just like this forever. 

“I’m staying here.” 

Zayn shot up, his large eyes creasing and his facial expression turning in indescribable anger. “No, you’re not. I’ve seen your blueprints. The ones they have must be just as destructive. My professor says that they burn books a-and burn children alive a-and--and--” Zayn squoze Harry’s shirt within his fists. “You’re not staying. I swear to God, you’re not staying.” Just as Harry moved to argue with him, Zayn continued, “If you stay, I’m going to stay.” 

“No. It’s not safe in London right now. You have to take Liam and go until I tell you that it’s alright to come back. I promised to keep you safe.” 

“To hell with safe,” Zayn seethed, his entire body was trembling and his grip on the clothes began to stretch and wrinkle the fabric, he tried to swallow his tears but they rolled down. “I’ve decided I’m not going to let you drown alone,” 

Louis looked confused at the choice of words, but Harry waved him away, waiting until Louis had carried Liam out of the room. 

“I’m not going to drown, love. It’s a city above the ocean, remember?” Harry pulled Zayn closer. 

“What if you die? What if you die? Tell me what I’m going to do if you die. What if I die? What if you’re wrong and they bomb us in Ireland and I’ll die alone--” Zayn couldn’t get all the words out, because he knew he had lost the argument the second it started. Of course Harry wasn’t going to leave London. This entire time Zayn knew nothing of his job but he knew that his role was instrumental in the activities of this stupid war. All those secret meetings, designs of weapons, all this secret information that Zayn had been accepting selfishly for the preservation of his own life. The other thousands of civilians didn’t know that Ireland was never to be invaded. 

“I’m going to stay here.” Zayn began punching at Harry’s chest, he was so so angry at everything. 

“No. They’re going to attack sometime later this week. You have to leave tomorrow morning. I’m not offering you any kind of choice, Zayn.” Harry peeled Zayn’s hands off of him, trying to stay calm as his beautiful boy sobbed and struggled in his grasp. 

“I want a choice,” Zayn blubbered, he felt completely weak. 

I’m so weak. 

“This decision I made in the optimistic reliance I have in that in just a few weeks I will travel up there to join you. I promise that.” Harry kissed Zayn’s forehead again, “Now come, I cannot sleep another night without you.” 

The way that Harry lifted Zayn up was so smooth and effortless, Zayn did feel as though he was floating in a large bowl of water, he was finding balance in order to keep his nose above the water line, but was always presented with the fear of a slight tap and he’d go under. That sinking feeling didn’t go away even as Harry laid him on the bed and began to drag kisses down his body, reaching every forbidden door and entrance on his skin. It didn’t go away when Harry nipped at his thigh, trying to get his attention, when he slid two fingers into Zayn’s mouth and moved them to his entrance, and as their bodies began to coat in a layer of sweat and the air becoming thick with sex, he realized that perhaps he was wrong about that fisherman’s tale this whole time. 


 

“We just got here,” Liam was refusing to eat his breakfast. He pushed his fancy egg holder away, his plate of thick bacon and toast with no crust. “And now you’re planning to move me again? It isn’t right.” 

“They’re planning to bomb us,” Zayn muffled, feeling deflated, defeated, and honestly quite sore. 

“Who’s going to bomb us?” 

“The Germans.” Zayn flattened his toast with his fork until it was soggy. He refused to look up at Harry, or Louis, who had stayed overnight due to extenuating circumstances. 

“That’s not very nice of them,” Liam decided to entertain the idea of cracking the shell of his hardboiled egg. 

“It really isn’t, but a majority of our lives haven’t been very nice thus far anyways. I’ll read you very many books while we’re in Ireland, staying in the house of Harry’s past lover.” Zayn sipped his tea while Harry choked. “And we can...feed sheep.” 

“You know, Zaynie, it just occurred to me that we left the old man to die by himself.” Zaynie? That was new. But hearing Liam say it made him smile. 

“It fits the kind of man he is to be embarrassed by his own death,” Zayn tried the coffee right next to his mug of tea, nearly gagging at the sour and bitter shock it gave his sensibilities. “I’d be embarrassed by my own death too. However, I can confirm that Harry treats the nature of his environment as though all of us are supposed to just leave him to die here as well, except that he doesn’t want to die alone, but for some reason feels the need to make a hero out of himself.” Zayn pushed his chair back and stood up, leaving the napkin on the table. “If you’ll excuse me.” 

“You’re not excused.” Harry stood up and strode after Zayn out of the dining room, leaving an immensely uncomfortable Louis and admittedly famished Liam to their own devices. When Louis opened his mouth to try and initiate conversation, without a beat later Liam interrupted his endeavor. 

“I don’t like you. You still smell.” Liam decided his hunger strike was going nowhere, so he stuffed the whole bit of toast into his mouth. It was now very cold. 

“Ah-Hopefully a good smell?” Louis was sweating, he felt intimidated but at the same time, a sliver of amusement at the curiosity before him. 

“A ‘too much’ smell. It makes me weak in the knees and I don’t even know what for.” 

“If it’s fair, you secrete the same kind of smell to me.” Louis stood up, brushing off his clothes and offered a very gentlemanly hand out to Liam, who grabbed it. “I had hoped our first meeting would’ve been under different circumstances, as I don’t think I quite acted like myself last night. I wanted to apologize, all my actions yesterday were very rude and imposing.” Liam let himself be led out, and they walked through the gargantuan house to the back gardens. “I hope you can understand that we’re only making you take the journey to Ireland because there is a danger in staying in London. They’re calling the ‘Blitz,’ and we’re having bomb safety drills nearly every night. You’re certainly my guest, and I will not have you getting hurt under my watch.” Louis turned to him and smiled. 

Liam had already started to relax, but he didn’t want to show it in front of this privileged and smooth man. “I’ll have to apologize as well. You’ve certainly kept Zayn in a well state, he looks very healthy and proper. God knows that he deserves it. When do we set off?” 

“By noon.” Louis smiled, plucking at a rose, picking off the thorns with his nails before handing it to Liam. “Ireland isn’t just sheep. It’s very green there.” 

Liam sniffed at the flower, his cheeks turning pink and for some reason, couldn’t muster up the courage to meet Louis’ eye. “Where I’m from, it’s very green too. There’s a thick forest that separates the lower half of the town to the northern, and right next to us there are acres of sunflowers that were planted by our ancestors and maintained for many decades. That is why our town is named Sunflower.” He finally looked up, and his brown eyes met Louis’ blues. “And a lovely clear sky. It turns orange and red when it sets, and all the sunflowers sleep until their god returns. I’m never going to go back, am I?” 

“Maybe. ‘Never’ is a word that can’t be used by humans like us, for we simply don’t know what the future holds.” Louis inhaled that fresh scent of peonies on a winter’s day, Liam’s smell cleared his sinuses and made his heart warm. 

They stayed there for the next few hours, talking and lending small giggles to one another as Zayn and Harry bickered in the house. Liam made Louis a crown of dandelions, and when he revealed that he had never held someone’s hand before, Louis bravely inched closer to the wonderful creature, and when their fingers interlocked, so did their hearts. 

It was well past noon by the time Zayn ultimately gave in to the fact that Harry was staying behind, getting dark actually, when a giant siren pierced the air, so loud that Liam pulled away from Louis to cover his ears. 

“Fuck.” Louis began to breathe heavily, and ushered Liam back into the house. They reached Zayn and Harry, who were shocked and all the blood has drained from their faces. “Turn off all the lights!” Louis barked, blowing out every candle and turning down each light in his direction. “We’re such fucking idiots, oh my fucking God, I’m an imbecile--” 

“Take them,” Harry quickly put on his long coat, shoving Zayn into Louis’ arms and picking up a large brown case. “Go! Now!” 

“No!” Zayn screamed, struggling so he could chase after him. He pried himself from Louis’ grasp, running out the door and latching himself onto Harry’s back. Without holding back, Harry removed Zayn off of his body, forcefully turning him around and grabbing his face. 

“I love you.” 

“I love you too you idiot--I love you I love you--is that what you wanted to hear? Don’t leave me Harry please,” Zayn was pleading with every inch of his body and soul, fisting harry’s shirt in his hands. 

“I love you.” Harry repeated, almost a whisper, nearly a prayer. He kissed Zayn, desperately, as though it may be the very last time he ever will. Before he knew it, Zayn was being carried away by a driver, and no matter how hard he screamed and struggled, Harry went into his own car and with a final look at his face, drove away. 

He was promptly thrown into a car next to Liam, who was in tears. A large sound of an explosion shook the ground underneath the car, making Liam cry even harder with his hands pressed against his ears. Zayn was quick to reach for him and hold him, and together they panicked and sobbed. Louis was in the front seat of the car, swiftly driving the car under into a large hidden tunnel. They moved underneath the city, and when the tunnel ended towards Central London, the driver drove hastily and began to speed, until a figure in front of the car appeared and he slammed down at the brake, making everyone inside it lurch forward. 

It was a child. A child whose nightie was singed at the hem, and she was holding her teddy and crying when the driver honked at her. Zayn looked around, and to his left he saw a row of buildings on fire, the one that was bombed absolutely engulfed in destruction and flames. He looked down to street level and saw Harry’s car parked in the middle of the road, and from one of the buildings, copious amounts of children and adults were screaming and escaping from the inferno. Zayn scrambled to open the car door and threw himself out, must to the behest of everyone inside it. Louis tried to get out of the car as well, but Zayn stopped him from doing so. 

“Take Liam. Promise me you’ll take care of him.” Zayn screamed at him while running, towards the madness and danger and the smoke overtaking his eyes. He heard the car behind him drive away. 

“Harry!” Zayn screamed with all his might, grabbing the little girl and carrying her. “Harry!” He panted, collecting more scared and hurt children and instructing them to run to the nearest building that wasn’t on fire. He pushed back the whole crowd that were escaping, because he knew where the man he loved was. He could feel it. 

“Harry!” He tried one more time as he entered the building, squinting past the flames. He took out his kerchief and held it to his nose, pushing forwards. He saw people in the back of the room, and a tall man trying to dislodge someone else from underneath the rubble. “Harry!” The man turned, and almost couldn’t register that Zayn was there from the shock of it. 

“What are you doing here?” Harry yelled at Zayn, who immediately went to try and lift up the heavy amounts of wood that were trapping a young woman. 

“There’s no time for that!” Zayn shrieked, and together, they began to lift until she could just wiggle herself free. Her right leg and arm were definitely broken. As Harry lifted to support her up, Zayn spotted two little boys further into the room, and he immediately went to step through the snug area for them. There was no time for Harry to protest. He began to help the young woman out of the building, and when she was in the hands of other people that were helping outside, he went back in for Zayn. 

“It’s alright, loves, it’s alright!” Zayn tried to shush the two little boys hiding underneath a wooden desk. Tears and snot covered their whole faces, coughing as the smoke began to rise. They were immeasurably traumatized, holding each other as the room seemingly began to get smaller and smaller. Zayn tried not to slip over any of the fallen articles of furniture and debris, desperately moving towards the children. He reached out for them and they grabbed, he pulled them out and made their way back to the hole in the wall that Zayn had to squeeze through to get them. Harry was there, looking extremely panicked, and Zayn pushed the children through the hole to Harry before trying to shimmy his way back out again. Harry ran with both children under each arm, practically throwing them to the adults outside before running back in. The fire Marshalls and aid had arrived, all the helping civilians hurriedly throwing water and dirt at the building. It was slowly working. 

“Zayn!” Harry screamed, looking around desperately. The building began to lose integrity as the fire consumed every part of its wooden structure. He ran, calling for Zayn’s name over and over, until the room began to rumble again. Zayn spotted and ran towards Harry, arms outstretched and he was almost there until… 

Boom. 

Boom. 

Boom. 

In that moment, Zayn couldn’t hear anything except for his own heart erratically pounding against his ribcage. He could hear each breath and could feel how much they hurt his lungs. Before he knew it, he was on the floor, and it was hot. Through blurry vision and hearing still mangled, he could hear Harry scream his name as he crouched down to start trying to lift the parts of the ceiling that had fallen on top of Zayn. 

It occurred to him that his body felt wet, and when he looked down with tired eyes, he saw his entire torso soaked in his own blood. He could barely swallow, and although the fire was dying, the chances of him getting out of this building alive were getting dimmer and dimmer. 

Everything sounded so far away, and he couldn’t feel his legs. But he wasn’t panicking like Harry was that day. He felt hot and slow, as though the whole world was under water. But then all he could see was Harry, who had stopped trying to lift up what was pinning Zayn down. Harry’s tears hit Zayn’s face, as he was leaning above him. He could hear Harry say his name over and over and over again, but it sounded muffled. 

It occurred to him that he was dying, that this is what drowning was. He had been sinking this entire time, and now it’s happened; he’s been lightly tapped and gone under. With his free hand, he reached for Harry’s face, and wet the inside of his mouth just enough to say the words, 

“Get out of here,” the words were so hoarse and so painful, his throat felt like there was sand rising and sinking from his lungs. “The rest of the building will fall.” 

“Not without you,” Harry sniffled, holding Zayn’s hand as it touched Harry’s brown hair and thumb weakly swept over his eyelids. 

“You know, I think I got the story all wrong.” 

“Hm?” 

“I was never the siren.” Now Zayn was crying. His body had left already, he could no longer feel anything, not even Harry’s skin under the pads of his fingers. “There was no siren.” 

“T-the story?” Harry wasn’t following. 

“There was no magic,” Zayn’s voice became fainter. “The fisherman just drowned and left his wife a widow.” 

“No, you mustn’t think that way,” Harry mouthed with his lips pressed on Zayn’s head. He was laying down next to him, holding Zayn’s hand and leaning as close as he possibly could. “You saved me, remember? My beautiful angel.” Harry kissed him again. 

“You have to get out of here.” The tears leaked from the corners of his eyes. But Zayn knew it was fruitless. He knew Harry wouldn’t move, because he would’ve done the same. Stayed. 

“There’s nothing for me out there.” Harry held Zayn’s head and pressed it to his. “You were everything for the first time in a very long time. You are everything. I love you.” 

“I love you,” Zayn whispered, closing his eyes. 

Outside, the crowd of onlookers, heroes, children, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, darlings, loves, enemies, all collectively gasped in horror as the buildings caved in on themselves in tandem, and from their sheer force, blew out the fire like it was a candle sitting on a nightstand. 

 

As it turned out, London was an ocean. The real reason why Zayn had been so terrified of oceans his entire life was because he never actually learned how to swim. 

 

 




Chapter Text

The sound of a siren went through both of Harry’s ears and the wavelengths properly banged into his brain. His entire body jolted up with a sharp inhale, like someone had punched him in the gut and he was trying to get back up again. Every nerve in his system felt like there was adrenaline rushing through them, his face felt hot and he had sweat running down his whole torso. He was in a bed. Not his bed. By the time he could finally catch his breath, he coughed some and realized that his lungs didn’t burn. The sheets that were covering him looked plain without any elaborate detail, and he realized he was completely naked. He looked up, and he wasn’t in his room. This wasn’t his house. 

There was a giant window right ahead of him facing the sun completely, and the white walls just made everything seem brighter, so while squinting his eyes did he look for any type of garment in the room that he could put on. There were strange looking wires, oddly shaped holes in the walls, a strange chair that had wheels on the bottom, overall, the whole room was spacious and strange. There wasn’t a single book anywhere. 

He found odd-looking trousers on the floor, so he quickly slipped them off without a moment’s notice and began to dizzily lurch towards the door, reaching for it with a stiff hand to turn the doorknob and propel himself into the hallway. The scent of breakfast and grease was floating in the air, the hall was short and there were only two other rooms next to the one he came out of. He heard a person singing, something sizzling on a pan, noises of knives chopping at wood. 

Zayn. 

It’s Zayn, isn’t it? 

Who else could it be? 

He followed the hallway, blinking furiously and trying to regain focus of his sight. There were tables and couches that weren’t like anything he’s ever seen. They were surrounding a shiny black box that sat in the far end of the parlor, and he turned around to see that the kitchen was right next to the living room! Without even a partition to separate them. But what was most shocking is that the back of the person he recognized was not the one that he wanted. 

“Niall?” Harry whispered, utterly, completely, dumbfoundedly confused. Niall turned around with a grin, wearing an apron that wrapped around his neck, with a thin looking shirt and the same kind of trousers that Harry scavenged for just a few minutes earlier. 

“Morning, Haz, your coffee’s over there. One or two eggs?” Niall set down a plain white china plate, lifting his eyebrows when Harry stood still with his jaw dropped to the ground. 

“Where am I?” 

Niall’s expression became concerned. 

“Where’s Zayn?” 

He bit his lip, untying the bows that held his apron onto his body while taking large steps towards Harry, who honestly felt very faint. “Who’s-who’s Zayn, love?” Niall immediately stuck a palm to Harry’s forehead to check his temperature. “Oh fucking hell, did you take those shrooms from yesterday? You don’t know what those are laced with, Harry, you can’t just take anything any stranger gives you at a club you fucking dolt you--”

“What are--what are ‘shrooms’?” Harry was nearly in tears, and Niall helped him sit back onto the couch. “Where am I? Why am I here with you?” 

“Listen mate, maybe I need to take you to urgent care. This isn’t right.” Niall looked panicked, and Harry could read what was on his shirt. 

I heart N...Y? What the fuck does that mean?

Then another shock went right through his body, and with a gasp he began to retreat from Niall. “Why are you American?” Harry gasped in horror, hyperventilating and his eyes were about to bulge out of his head. 

“Uh, I moved here when I was nine? You moved here a year after? We went to the same schools together ever since then? We both lost our accents? None of this rings a bell to you? Buddy, you’re fucked up. You’ve fucked up.” Niall huffed, straightening his back and ran a hand through his quiff, thinking of an action plan for what to do. “Okay, what did you take last night? We did a couple of lines, hit a few blunts, you had your usual peach vodka bullshit and who knows how many acid pills--” Niall was counting them off on his hand. 

What the fuck? 

Suddenly, Harry grabbed his head and screamed at the top of his lungs, falling to his side and nearly hitting his head on the corner of the coffee table. Niall screamed too, arms outstretched to catch his best mate before he caused himself some serious damage. It was a pain that Harry had never felt before in his life. He felt his body curling into a ball upon instinct, and thousands and thousands of memories, thoughts, and feelings rushed into his head. He remembered all of it, everything from his laptop to watching Zayn lose his breath after the building had crushed all of his ribs--

He fell onto the floor, because now he felt it in his stomach. Every emotion he’s ever had from both lives up to this point was affecting his liver, his kidneys felt like they were failing, his lungs contracted but never released, and with his flailing arms he held onto Niall as soundless scream after soundless scream ripped from his entire body. The duration was only a few seconds, but it felt like hours before he could breathe again, and Niall was so scared that Harry was going into cardiac arrest and dying right then and there in his arms. Harry gasped, dry heaving and Niall held him up right to his chest and squeezed him in a discombobulating panic. Harry instantly burst into tears, holding onto Niall’s arms, still flailing to an extent and making the most pitiful and saddening cries that the latter had ever heard his best friend make in his entire life. 

“Harry please don’t die, dude that’s so fucked up of you--” Niall began crying as well. 

“Zayn isn’t here.” Harry breathed out, his inhales and exhales moving his whole body. “Not in here.” He slapped his head. “He was there, but not here.” 

“Was Zayn someone you met last night?” Niall blubbered, aggressively wiping his tears with the backs of his hand. “Dude I don’t know what you’re saying, you’re scaring the absolute fuck out of me man, if this is a joke--not cool.” 

After a few more minutes of Harry silently in Niall’s lap in deep contemplation, thoughts, and trying to organize all his memories and his new memories in his head, he realized further that in this new life, he has never met Zayn. He was in America, Los Angeles, for that matter, Niall was his best friend, he’s never met Louis in his whole life, Charles didn’t exist, his parents never died. He’s never heard of Zayn. Never seen his face. Overpowering the absence of his baby was the memory of watching Zayn’s face, covered in ash, and a tear running down his cheek. Overpowering the absence of the life he knew was the memory of fire entering his lungs, turning around to see that Zayn had run into the burning building looking for him, and the pool of blood that soaked both their clothes before everything went black. In this new life, Harry was twenty-one years old, his mother was the CEO of a successful investment company, his sister ran a quaint bakery four streets away from the apartment that he shared with Niall, his father was a stay at home dad who was part of the PTA and coach of the Little League team that Harry was a part of. His first kiss was with a girl named Daisy, his first time was with a guy named Chase that he had fallen in love with his senior year of highschool. He remembered when he got his college acceptance email on his Macbook Air Laptop, when he and Niall applied for a dorm together their freshman year. He vividly remembered the house that he grew up in, a two story mid-century disaster that was always filled with laughter and the smell of lasagna on a Friday night. No illness, no death, no lonesome echoes when he walked through it. No servants, no Hewitt, no books

This had to be magic. Or a curse, maybe Hell...probably Hell. His head hurt so much. 

“Here’s like...five Advil.” Niall shook the bottle on its side to get each tablet out one by one. “Maybe that’s overkill, maybe it’ll send you off the edge mixing it with the cocktail of shit you funneled into your system yesterday...one Advil.” Niall gulped, practically forcing it down Harry’s throat with no water to aid it down his esophagus. “You remember who you are now? You remember anything that happened last night?” 

“It was lime vodka. Not peach, mhm, definitely lime. No coke, but I do think I took a few of those tiny purple ones that...Angel...wanted me to try out.” Harry tried to stretch his tongue out in order to release the tension from his jaw. 

“Do you think you’re going to die? Because I really hate driving dude, but I’ll do it if you like...get a heart attack or something,” Niall tried to act like he totally wasn’t crying just ten minutes ago. 

Harry chuckled in a bittersweet way, trying to find the strength to get off of the carpeted floor. “I know you hate driving. I think I’ll be okay.” 

“Ugh, the toast is all burnt. We’re lucky we didn’t set off any alarms or anything.” Niall wheezed, using the spatula to slide some overtly crispy eggs onto the plates. 

As Harry slid himself onto the barstool at the counter, he felt really, really fucking sad. There was no other way to describe it, as though he had cried himself a river and was now trying to drown himself in it by tying a rock to his foot. There was a hole in his chest, parts of him were missing that he didn’t know how to get back. His past life full of innovation and meeting important people, holding hands with the love of his life, watching the sun hit Zayn’s face just right all those times they rode canoes on the Thames. The days of languidly smoking cigarettes inside the house were over, as were the days that he’d press his lips on his darling’s head while they tried to fall asleep late at night. 

Maybe it wasn’t that Harry just hasn’t met Zayn in this life. Maybe...maybe Zayn didn’t exist. It was a detestable thought, but of course his mind went there. He picked at his eggs with a fork, lips tightly pursed as he continued to think. Niall had already inhaled his breakfast and ran to the shower. He finally gave up, not feeling well enough to chew and swallow, letting his head fall back and his eyes stared right up at the ceiling. 

God, are you there? 

This is some fucked up shit, dude. 

Maybe one of the brighter sides of this existential paradox that Harry had gotten himself into was the language he was now allowed to use. Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck. 

“Hey man, I’ve got a morning lecture today so...just call me if you need anything. I’ll call you an Uber to the ER.” Niall cheekily grinned, tripping while slipping his shoes onto his feet and rushing out the door, the door making a heavy thud noise as it slammed closed. Harry realized that he also had a morning class today as well, so deciding his best bet was to hop in for a cold shower and dig through his closet for some real clothes. 

The feeling was surreal, he had taken advantage of running water his whole life, but at the same time, it was the very first time he’s ever experienced running water in his whole life. He let the pressure tickle his face and nearly moaned when the shampoo smoothly went through his curly hair, there was nothing more satisfying than watching all the water quickly drain out and there was no awkward manservant waiting by the door. When he got out, ruffling his hair with a towel—marvelous invention—he sifted through every grungy looking article of clothing in his closet, feeling very adventurous, as though he was on an alien planet and needed to choose an outfit to greet their king. He decided on a look, chose the shoes, and was about to head out the door with his books when he heard his phone make noise in his bedroom. ‘Ah,’ he thought. When he unplugged it from its charger, the weight of it in his hand felt very foreign, but very familiar at the same time. He had gotten a text from Niall, trying to confirm who was going to be at the apartment for dinner next week. Niall was an aspiring food scientist, and always had Harry taste everything he made, and well, it’s not like Harry would’ve ever refused. 

He walked into his morning lecture accompanied with a wave of deja vu, sitting in the same seat he had always chosen this entire year, listening to the little old man in the front of the room ramble on about how to determine the cause of death from skeletal fragments and such, but all Harry got from it was the aspect that everything came with a consequence. Just like how a broken leg would heal over and scar on the bone, every time Harry took a step in his shoes it’d wear them down just a little bit. Just like how there were differences to post and perimortem fractures. Just like how every time there was a war, people would die. 

I love you too you idiot--I love you I love you--is that what you wanted to hear? Don’t leave me Harry please— 

Harry’s closed eyes shot wide open, he executed a loud and sharp inhale and the student next to him jumped a little in surprise. The professor had finally moved on to a different subject where he was proposing opportunities for internships as well as fellowships for certain archaeological experiences. Had two hours passed by that quickly? Harry never conceived himself as someone so absent minded, but perhaps this was the man he was to be from now on. 

As he was walking out of the lecture hall, he noticed several boys and girls alike were ogling him as they walked by in groups, whispering to each other almost as if they knew his secret. Harry didn’t feel very comfortable with this, it was already hard enough accepting that he wasn’t dead (he was supposed to be) and that he looked very different. His hair was fluffier, his body thin and muscled, tattoos claiming home to most of the skin on his torso. He knew he smelled very strong, as he always has, but now it had a different kind of feel to it. He felt like a dangerous, reckless young man who was suddenly capable of doing much more than the Harry in the past could’ve ever expected to do. A drug using, tattooed, Doc Marten wearing boy who blinked slowly and didn’t read many books. (The horror.) He made it to a nearby bench and opened his phone, beginning to tap on every app he had in it as if he needed to practice the action of doing so. He replied to Naill about his dinner guests, and when Niall texted back with a series of comic objects, it took a second for Harry to remember that they were, in fact, emojis. He told him that he was going to visit the library, to which Niall blatantly entertained, 

“Since when do you read books”

Harry remembered how the only books in the apartment were textbooks for their courses. 

“Dunno decided to try something new” 

“Maybe you hit your head this morning go to ER” 

“Very funny” 

The campus was very pretty with all the weeping willow trees swaying in the breeze, each building covered in creeping vines and the atmosphere gave off a cool and damp feel. The sun wasn’t too hot today, and Harry thinks that this is the first time he’s ever sat down and looked at his own school like this, appreciated its modernity and grandeur. It was lucky that Harry was so smart, because he nearly had all his credits in order to graduate already, and if he really wanted he could easily get himself into any paid fellowship for a doctorate in the future. He tried to imagine himself as ‘Professor Styles’. 1941 Harry was so focused on pleasing people, Zayn, and bombing. 

Or perhaps all of his past life was just one extremely complex dream, and now he’s woken up with an ache for a phantom lover as a soldier would for his amputated limb. 

Maybe there was no siren. Maybe there was no magic. 

Harry fluttered his eyelids again while on the bench, and when he opened his eyes, a young man was awkwardly standing in front of him. He looked thin and submissive, terribly shy and super nervous. Harry sat up from his slumped position. 

“H-Hello.” 

“Hello.” 

The guy couldn’t even make eye contact, Harry had never seen him in his life before. 

“I um, this is probably a terrible idea and you can say no but, erm, I’ve sat in the seat behind you for Anatomy 1 for the last couple of months. Not to stalk you or anything, but I just noticed we both liked to sit in the same pace each time and you’re quite handsome so...my name’s Anthony, sorry, should’ve led with that, oh fuck, uh, I’m…” Anthony was so nervous all his words became twisted and his face got extremely red and he handed Harry a piece of paper before power walking away. 

Harry blinked again, watching Anthony practically sprint from him before looking down to inspect the paper. 

We also linked last night, but perhaps you don’t remember. 

Ant XXX-XXX-XXXX

The small bit of paper was oddly soft, as though Anthony had it folded in his hand and sweated right through it. It smelled strongly of beta, and Harry didn’t think he’d ever go for a beta, so he stuffed it into his back pocket and picked up his stuff. 

I think I love you more. 

He shook his head, ruffling his hair and focused on finding the college library. 

Harry realized he simply didn’t know where to start. The library was vast and intimidating, he had to swipe his card to enter and that was already much of an endeavor to do so. He looked at all the labels of each massive bookshelf, skimming through the halls getting whiplash at just how many authors he couldn’t recognize. He giggled when he got to the YA section, picking up one of the novels that Niall and him once read to each other out loud as a joke when they were teenagers (but secretly both wished they weren’t virgins anymore). Zayn would’ve gone insane if he knew that in the future they figured out how to put a colored picture on a book as its cover. 

But all of that must’ve just been a dream. Harry put the book back. 

He strolled over to an entire section of the library dedicated to classics, coughing in the realization that he’s read all of these several times. He lazily flipped through The Master and Margarita , finding a chair to sit on and dropped his bag on the floor. Several people had taken notice of him, his scent, and Harry tried not to notice just how many people were noticing him. He tried to focus on the contents of the book, for maybe he could he transported back to another world, maybe that’s what he needed to settle his head. 

What Harry failed to notice was a pair of brown eyes secretly staring at him through the gap in one of the bookshelves; almond shaped, sparkling, and oh so familiar. 


 

“How does my ass look in these?” Louis was wiggling his own bum in front of the mirror, trying to squat and find all the different positions he could do before his pants ripped. When he partied, he partied hard. “God, I gained like ten pounds in the span of a week. I look so fat. I look fat, don’t I?” 

“No you don’t, Lou. You’re very lovely, as usual. I’m pretty sure you could show up naked and no one would complain.” The replier smiled sweetly, sitting on his stomach on the bed with his calves up in the air, highlighting a passage in his textbook. 

“Okay, but the point is that Jimmy Crawford is taking me to this party, and I can’t let him fuck me if I think I’m fat, and I need to get fucked, Zayn like exams are almost over and I’m so pent up.” Louis huffed, deciding the hot red jeans would be a bit too slutty and began jumping and wiggling into his black ones. 

Zayn looked up for the first time, pushing his glasses farther up his nose and looking up and down at his best friend. Louis looked and smelled so confident, Zayn could never have the balls to emulate that in his life. He found it funny Louis was asking him for advice, in that recognizance. “You know Lou, everywhere you go, all the attention is right on you. No one can stop staring. It’s probably one of the main reasons we get along so well, you attract all the eyes and I can slip away unnoticed,” Zayn got off the bed to hold his best friend’s waist and snuggle into him. He playfully bit at Louis’ neck, it made no mark but got the message across. He was stunning and juicy looking, his resting face was a tantalizing and seductive grin that reached all the way to his eyes. 

“Thanks, babe. You’re right, I’m a sexy, powerful, independent omega who needs no Alpha to take care of him, just sometimes when he really needs a fuck.” Louis was mostly telling himself in the mirror. “God I’m sexy. Okay, I’m off.” 

“Good luck. The pepper spray’s in the bowl if he’s rotten.” Zayn went back to his notes and Louis gave him a kiss on the head before walking out their bedroom. They shared a one bedroom flat after they both couldn’t afford to dorm anymore, and it worked out pretty well. Louis made sure Zayn ate something from time to time and the latter made sure Louis didn’t completely sully and wreck the place every day. A symbiotic relationship. “Don’t just stay in the library all day, eat something I swear to FUCKING GOD!” Louis shouted, and then Zayn heard the door slam shut. 

He took a stretch on the bed, yawning and hugging his knees into his chest. He only had one final assignment before the quarter ended, and then he could follow Louis around from club to club, try drinks and meet people who’d pinch every part of him, men who’d be willing to pay the world for him, and women that wanted to keep him as their pet. ‘Twas a dangerous life that only half of the pair partook in, for Zayn only went to make sure that Louis didn’t get kidnapped while as high as the Empire State building. He decided to take a shower before heading to the library for his assignment. It was supposed to be a final paper on one of Mikhail Bulgakov’s books, his professor hated giving tests and tried to avoid them as often as she could. While scrubbing his body double times and massaging his head, he thought about which book he wanted to do it on. Surely everyone must’ve taken all the copies of Heart of a Dog , so maybe Master and Margarita, considering Zayn had already read it before. The paper should be a breeze, his professor liked him and he knew how to give a good pouty face if it truly ended up as shit on a paper plate. He got out of the shower, rubbing lotion on his body and hurriedly blow drying his hair. After inspecting the clean clothes in his drawer, he decided on what he liked best, a faded old band t-shirt, some jeans, his raggedy old pair of Docs that Lou has been begging him for the last six months to throw away. 

He made himself a PB&J and forced himself to chew it and eat it, even though it felt wrong and grimy in his mouth. He took his meds, drank two glasses of water like a good boy, brushed his teeth and hurried out the door. It was probably a fifteen minute walk to the North side of campus, where the Humanities departments lived. He bid a ‘hi’ to Rachel, the librarian, swiping his key card in and heading straight toward the Russian Literature section. He was right to predict that all the Dog novels would be gone, there was a giant gap in the shelf where all five of them used to be. Margarita it is, so Zayn traced all the books with the name Bulgakov, and sure enough, all the Margaritas were gone too. The paper was assigned a few weeks ago, Zayn should’ve been more prepared. He stood up from his bent position, and as he slowly rose, he saw directly in front of him what seemed to be the very last copy of The Master and Margarita. He could recognize the cover anywhere, the colorful resumè papered design with a picture of a black and white cat on the front. He blinked, and stood up further to confirm if it was one of his peers from the Literature Department. It was not. 

Instead, from the key card that hung around the person’s neck, they were from the Bio-Cultural and Medical Anthology Department, which was all the way in the central part of campus. They had their own library, why was this guy taking all the books in the North campus when that’s where they all mattered! Although he was shy, Zayn decided he must try to convince the man to hand the last copy over, but when he finally straightened up completely and saw the man’s face through another crack in between the shelves and the books, something inside him immediately, instinctively changed his mind. 

The student looked older than Zayn was, and unbelievably, earth-shakingly handsome. From the way his body was folded in the chair, he could see that his arms were long, his legs were long, his torso was long, his neck was long. His shoulders were almost twice as broad as Zayn’s, and when the lean, sculpted adonis shifted in his seat and ran a large hand through his hair, Zayn’s breath fell short. His face was lean but not too thin, with an extremely strong jaw and high cheekbones that only made his eyes sparkle more in the natural lighting of the library. They were green, by the way, his eyes. Zayn had no idea he could describe another person with such fastidious detail until now. He peered down and saw that he was wearing Docs, expensive, last year’s limited edition collection Docs that were almost $300 and so far out of Zayn’s budget that all he could do was visit the site every day and stare at them. He realized that they were basically wearing the same outfit, and he nearly fainted. 

Oh god, he was sweating. He wiped his brow in disgust, he hated sweating and now his hair was probably going to get all frizzy and muddled--

The green eyed god shifted in his seat again. Oh jesus, that was nasty. The man, yes, the man sighed, smiling to himself as he scrolled through the rest of the book very quickly. Zayn nearly breathed a sigh of relief, maybe he just wanted to look through it and put it back, he wouldn’t have to muster up the courage to approach this lovely, gorgeous guy and embarrass himself today. His inference was right; the gorgeous guy stood up and Zayn panicked and ran away to the next shelf, panting heavily. 

Gorgeous man was at least 6 ft tall, Zayn thought he might die right then and there. He watched as he carefully slipped the book back where it belonged, straightening other shelves if they were crooked and Zayn couldn’t help but smile. What a cutie. 

Uh, no. Get a hold of yourself, you knob. 

When the guy left, Zayn went back and snatched up the copy and pressed it to his chest. What a journey. Upon instinct, he opened it up, and when he flipped the pages he could smell the scent of the guy on the edges, fluttering into his face and his knees became weak. Of course gorgeous man was an Alpha. Alpha man, as gorgeous as he was, probably already was in a relationship with someone else. Well, it wasn’t as if Zayn was ever planning to approach with that motive at all, if at all ever. He knew which department he came from, and he knew how to get to that building. Did Zayn really want to get to that level of desperation, though? Maybe the guy was visiting his girlfriend on the North side. Zayn’s shoulders slumped as he checked out the book. 

“Only one today, Zayn?” The book’s tag made a small beeping noise as she scanned it, clicking away at her computer as she scanned Zayn’s card with her other hand. 

“Yeah, final paper.” Zayn smiled at her, trying to stay calm and cordial when in reality he was losing his shit inside. 

“It’s so funny, a guy from the central campus was just here. I asked him if he knew that there was another library on that side and all the Anthology books were there, and he said he knew but just wanted to look at the selection of Russian Literature we had over here. ‘Fair enough,’ I said.” Rachel hummed, making sure all of Zayn’s past check-outs were in order before handing him back the book. 

“Did you catch his name?” Zayn blurted out without thinking, not knowing exactly what he was doing and feeling very impulsive. 

“Mm, it was a Harry...something. Somethin’ with an S.” Rachel waved him by as he walked through the security scanner, and Zayn could feel his breath being knocked out again. 

His name is Harry S. from the Bio-Cultural and Medical Anthology Department. 

Zayn nearly ran into the glass doors on his way out. 


 

“I think I failed my exams.” Niall slumped onto Harry, forcefully opening up his friend’s lap so he could lay his head on it in despair. They were outside on a table underneath the shade of a tree, where Harry was practicing getting used to the feeling of typing on his laptop. 

“All of them?” Harry raised an eyebrow. 

“Yeah, all of them. Do we look gay doing this? Are people staring at me with murderous intent for stealing away the fittest Alpha on the central campus?” Niall asked, looking up at his best friend. 

“Maybe, but most of the people here know that we could never fuck.” Harry pinched Niall’s nose, laughing mainly to himself. “That’d be literal incest.” 

Niall snorted. “Yeah, you’re dick’s a bit too small for my taste.” 

“You’re funny.” Harry realized he said that to Niall a lot. 

“I think if we were dating people would start speculating that I was the bottom in this relationship, so I’m just contemplating the theory.” Niall sighed, feeling very drained and dull. “What’d you do all this time, Mr. ‘I have credits from graduating early and getting 5’s on all my AP Exams?’” 

“I read a book, walked around campus, grabbed a coffee, now I’m wondering how I should let the person who gave me this—down gently.” Harry fiddled with his back pocket, taking out the paper and showing it to Niall. 

“Linked last night...you remember...Ant.” Niall made an impressed expression, nodding his head. “Was he cute?” 

Harry shrugged, “Kinda. But he was a beta, and I don’t think I’ll really be into that.” Niall nodded in understanding, still holding the paper while reaching for Harry’s phone. 

“What about you just texted him ‘Hi...this is Harry from earlier...I’m extremely flattered, but I’m not looking for a relationship right now...thanks so much…” Niall typed, they had their face IDs on each other’s phones. Before Harry could snatch his phone back Niall sent it, and Harry groaned. 

“You know, I could’ve just done that myself. He looked really shy, what if it crushes him?” 

“I could’ve just written ‘fuck off m8 your arse and my dick aren’t compatible’ but I didn’t.” Niall stuck his tongue out at Harry. 

“You’re right, you didn’t.” Harry smiled in defeat, closing his laptop and beginning to curl Niall’s hair around his fingers. “Did you really fail all your tests today?” Niall nodded, and they both sighed simultaneously. “Which excuse am I going to make at your mum this time?” 

“You can just say the truth. Her son is a failure and will be leeching off of his best friend’s wealth for the rest of his life.” Niall shrugged, still on Harry’s lap as he tried to avoid the sunlight in his eyes. 

“Maybe we can start a pack together or something,” Harry murmured, trying to think of a solution to their predicament. If Maura found out, she would cut Niall off for several weeks until he got his grades back up, and their rent was due in about three weeks. Their apartment wasn’t exactly cheap, and neither of the privileged boys had any experience in a real job. They were learning Forensic Anthropology and Food Science, for Christ’s sake. 

“If we started a pack, we’d have to have other people than just us in it as well. In order to legally register as a co-dependant group we’d also have to have mates and other betas and shit like that. We’d have to get a giant house and have well paying jobs and maybe even a few kids--” Niall groaned, feeling very tired. “I’ll still have to be capable of providing and being smart and dependable and shit. Why did no one teach me these things? Probably all your fault.” He lightly slapped at Harry’s stomach. “Stop spoiling me.” 

“If I stopped spoiling you, you’d complain, and we’d be right back to where we started.” Harry stretched his arms. “You were right, people are staring at you with murderous intent. There’s a whole clique of omegas to our 12 o’clock that are faced dead in our direction.” 

“Mate with one of them,” Niall yawned, “We have to quality for this pack license as soon as possible so that I can file on as one of your dependants.” 


 

“I’m telling you, the size of an eraser. Looked like one too.” Louis whispered at Zayn, they were now at their work at a cat cafe a few blocks from campus. Zayn’s mother was the owner of a couple animal adoption agencies and managed a few donation trusts in order to run the cafes. “Never have I put my lace panties back on and ran out of a guy’s place so quickly.” Louis picked up a cat and held him under his arm as he continually vacuumed loose fur away. 

“Lou, you’re scaring the children.” Zayn set ‘Nyan Gosling’ down and took Louis to the storage room. “Was it really that small?” 

Louis scoffed, “Yeah, and he made me pay for half the lunch too! When he had ordered something three times the price of what I ordered! Preposterous, maybe 90% of his prick went towards his personality.” Zayn snorted at that, and they began to scoop dry food into some clean metal bowls. 

“I’m sorry it didn’t work out, babe.” Zayn balanced two bowls in the crook of one arm and three in the other. 

“It’s okay, there are many many many fish in the sea.” Louis sighed, “Teaches me not to get greedy for day-dick.” 

“Please don’t say any of those things out there, we have potential adopters with their children here.” Zayn shook his head as he pushed the metal door with his back, spinning around to carefully place the food bowls on the ground. All the cats came running, meowing comically loud at Zayn until he pushed the food towards them and began petting their heads. One of the little kittens, bless him, ran too fast and couldn’t decelerate in time, resulting in a front flip and splatting right into the wet food. “Oh my god, Bunny.” Zayn picked up the feline, who was licking food off of his body, and quickly ran into the backroom. While he was 

bathing the kitten in the back, he heard the front door’s bell chime, signaling that a visitor had come in. He heard Louis start talking to them, so he didn’t pay much attention to it. 

Once he was done, squeezing all the water out of Bunny’s fur and ruffling him rather firmly with a towel, he came back out with him in hand, setting him down next to his siblings and finally looked up. 

It was Liam. Liam had come to visit. 

“—And then I told him I didn’t want anything to do with his business, but he said that he could make it my business while waggling his eyebrows,” Liam chuckled and Louis chortled a bit too much to be natural, and the former noticed Zayn and sported a smile that reached his ears. “Hi Zaynie, how are you?” 

Zayn crinkled his nose, coming in for a hug. It seemed like every time he saw Liam, he got taller and more muscled, he was becoming more and more grown and Zayn didn’t know if he was alright with it. “We’re not twelve anymore, I don’t like that nickname.” 

“Only I can call him that,” Louis added, and Liam chuckled again, nodding. 

“Alright, alright. I just came over because my mum wanted me to drop some stuff off, a couple donations and the like.” Liam motioned to some big bags he had set down under a table. 

“Are you sure you won’t take one hooooome?” Louis held a very wet and rat-looking Bunny up to Liam’s face. “Look at how darling this absolute demon is.” 

“I’m sure, gramps is still very much allergic.” Liam smiled again, hugging Louis and Zayn again. “I’m gonna hit the gym, but I’ll see you guys around.” He left the store, and Louis automatically sighed a dramatic, theatrical sigh. 

“He’s fit as fuck.” Louis licked his lips, a very angry Bunny suddenly chomping down on his finger. “Ah, shit alright alright, I’ll put you down, Satan.” 

“You should just ask him out, Lou. He’s a good one.” Zayn carried the bags of food, toys, and blankets further into the room where another employee had them disappear into storage. 

            “But you said he was a virgin, didn’t you? I don’t do virgins.” Louis smacked his lips. “Maybe he isn’t a virgin anymore. Do you think you can find out?” 

“That’s quite an awkward topic to start with, Louis dear,” Zayn giggled as he handed a customer her drink and change. “Why don’t you just find out for yourself?” 

“I dunno, something just tells me not to. I feel like if he fell in love with me I’d end up one of those married omegas who stay home and birth like, six children and become worn out having to act like they were the perfect little Christian boy who the in-laws loved—“ Zayn stopped Louis by slapping his hand over his mouth. 

“I get it. You can stop now. Shift ends in thirty minutes, could you handle getting some actual work done?” Zayn raised an eyebrow, Louis removed his hand and pecked his cheek. 

“Well of course, love. I will scoop up the shit and mop the floors for a fourth time. Remember we have a party to go to at nine at the residence of Sean Montgomery, you and me need to get laid.” 


 

“Haz, spot me.” Niall grunted while slipping onto the bench press, and Harry added thirty pounds on both sides of the bar. Harry stood behind the rack, holding his hands out in case Niall couldn’t push up, but he knew Niall could bench twice the weight. He just wanted to show off. By the time his best friend reached the fifteenth rep, Harry’s eyes began to wander around the rest of the private gym. Spacious, modern, air-conditioned, a boxing ring, several exercise machines that neither of them had any idea how to use. But then something made his neck stop. “Haz, up.” He helped Niall put the bar back onto the rack, still looking at what caught his eye. 

“Is that Liam?” Harry inquired, curiously cocking his head to the side. The person was lifting weights while looking at himself in the mirror, absolutely focused. While red, the face was definitely Liam’s face, but the body gave him whiplash. 

“Who?” Niall got out from under the rack, wiping his neck with a towel and flexing inconspicuously for the omegas dubiously staring at the pair. 

“I—I never knew he was an alpha.” Harry blinked, feeling awfully confused. Something was different than the last time he saw Liam. But then of course, everything was fucking different and Harry had regenerated into a different time period with a slew of memories from two lives. 

“Him? Someone you know?” Niall squirted water into his mouth, poking Harry’s cheek to do him the same. 

Harry snapped out of his thoughts, shaking his head. “Nah, I think I recognized him for someone else.” 

“You’ve been acting really weird since this morning mate, are you sure you didn’t take anything that permanently fucked with your head or something?” Niall asked as they stripped of their workout clothes in the locker room, getting their feet into flip flops and rushing for an available shower. 

“Yeah man, I’m feeling fine.” Harry replied through the stall, softly gasping when the water turned on. It was still like magic. 

Okay, so he wasn’t feeling fine, but what was he to say? It’s not like he could do much about it, which is why he hasn’t completely begun to rip out his hair and gouge out his eyeballs just yet. He was beginning to question the reality of his current situation, but after experiencing just how real and believable the whole day was, maybe his past life was the dream. 

Maybe Zayn was just a figment of his imagination this whole time, a creature created from his subconscious to comfort just how...lonely he was. 

He shook his head, his hair slapping against his skin and turned off the water. He ruffled his body dry, put on new clothes, and headed with Niall out the door. By the time they got to their car and Harry opened the driver’s side, another memory flashed in his mind, causing him to hit his head on the roof of his car. 

I could’ve shoved you out of this car if I wanted to and we both know it...

Please, Harry...please kiss me again. 

In a daze, Harry took a deep breath and started the ignition, feeling the car purr underneath him and his seat automatically began to slide forward.. As they were fastening their seatbelts, Niall opened his mouth. 

“By the way, Montgomery’s having a party tonight at his place in WeHo. But maybe you should pass on it tonight, you might actually die this time.” 

Harry really was about to agree with him, but just as he was about to reverse out of the parking lot another white flash slapped him across the head. 

Dying isn’t something to be afraid of. It’s watching someone die that’s frightening. 

Maybe it was a worse idea for Harry to be alone in the house, marinating within his thoughts. The answer that came out of his mouth was determined. 

“Nah. I’m no pussy.”

Chapter Text

In order to stop any confusion on what is a flashback and what is a thought that Harry is having in that current moment, all flashbacks will be italicized AND quoted. Thanks! 

 

“Open up, baby boy.” Louis squished Zayn’s face, almost moaning when it slipped in between his lips. “Now suck, but no choking.” 

Zayn nodded submissively, taking in a deep breath of the blunt that Lou had ever so carefully rolled for him. He kept all the smoke in his lungs for a good couple of seconds, and before he could exhale it back into the air Louis covered his mouth with his own, creating the sexiest shotgun kiss picture that no one else was there to witness. It was the third hit that finally got Zayn pouty and horny, and the ‘crackhead’ playlist that was playing in the background was making his vision go in and out of focus. “Lou, give me kisses.” 

“Dude, you’re so hot. Shit, shit. Don’t look at anyone like that tonight, or else the world might implode in on itself.” Louis happily pressed succulent kisses on Zayn’s mouth, moving down his chin and onto his neck, making him pant. He even made such a gesture to bite down on Zayn’s neck, making the recipient open his mouth in a perfect, red lipped ‘O,’ and the adventure would’ve gotten steamier if it weren’t for a knock on their apartment door. Zayn sank back onto Louis’ bed, wiggling. It wasn’t necessarily that they had feelings for each other, but they did share a connection farther than just friends, and omega on omega action was sexy as hell. Especially if they were doing it in front of an audience of alphas. 

“Liam, you have our key.” Louis groaned, coming back from opening the door and pouncing on Zayn again, taking a second to grind against each other. Louis bit at his neck a second time, and Zayn’s eyes closed halfway. Liam did not know how to process the scene before him, one beautiful omega spread out on top of another, moving like devilish seductresses and making the most lovely noises. Louis moaned again, getting up and turning Zayn to the side to slap his ass. “Got him fired up enough. Let’s go, shall we?” He stumbled out of the bedroom with his good black skinny jeans and a black crop top on, and if he raised his arms all the way up, everyone would see Louis’ nipple piercing. He was definitely determined to score something tonight. 

Zayn was still on the bed, and when he saw Liam he cocked his head to the side innocently and reached out both arms. “Leemo, can you help me up?” 

“Yea,” It was almost a whisper, so much breath came out with it. “Yea, ‘Course.” Zayn was comfortably nestled within one strong alpha arm while the other crushed the stub of the blunt, turned off all the lights, locked all the windows and went out the front door. Liam shuffled to get the omegas’ key out of his pocket, locking the door with Zayn still snuggling his head in his neck. 

“Kisses, Leemo?” Zayn’s voice was so, so sweet. Coupled with that sleepy blink of his, Zayn’s already alluring nature was perhaps quadrupled with the scent he was letting out. 

“Don’t think so, Zaynie.” Liam found Louis in the parking lot, angrily trying to force Liam’s car door open, resorting to weakly kicking at his car and huffing. “Lou, I unlocked it. It should work now.” 

“Oh my god, I’m gonna dance and drink and then throw up and then do it all over again, and then get myself some dick, throw up some more, make out with another one, and more drinking and then all over again.” Louis was antsy, Sean only lived a couple minutes away and he was so ready to free loose his inner animal. Zayn in the backseat continued blinking slowly as though he had just woken up, biting his lips. 

“Hopefully...not in that order.” Liam chuckled, pulling into the roundabout of a giant mansion that already looked to be quite trashed. “I’ll come in just a second, yea? Don’t get into too much trouble, love.” He warned Louis, who shivered at Liam’s voice before nodding and closing the car door. The two of them sauntered in, arms wrapped around each other’s waists, looking like walking dessert. Louis was certainly powerful, his demeanor and presence shook a room and had all the alphas leaving their posts towards the sensuous creature. Zayn was usually the timid baby boy that followed Louis around, accepted mocktails from alphas who looked at him like all they wanted to do was bend him over, but of course, when he was coming to the party already inebriated, everything was a different story. 

The scent of an omega varies between one’s body chemistry and sometimes was a sign of class and power in society. The weaker your scent is, the less of an omega you are, making you less attractive than one that can overtake all the air in the room. It also varies a considerable amount as to whose nose you’re asking. Some describe it as sniffing peonies while sucking on a peppermint, while others describe it as a new flavor of fruity candy that they become desperate to get even a lick of. 

Nevertheless, Louis and Zayn came from powerful, influential families whose bloodlines go way back into history, where each contender for marriage all had qualities of ambitiousness, effervescent beauty, fertility, and most importantly, intelligence. 

Perhaps now would be a good time to mention, as the two omegas immediately caused all heads to turn and Louis began to steal beers out of people’s hands, that these two were doctors. Not medical doctors, but doctors of Economics and English Literature, respectively. Yes, they are both 20 years old. The mechanics of how they both acquired their PhDs would take millions of seconds to explain, and is honestly very confusing and hard to keep up with. 

“Fuck yeah!” Louis was already being pinned to the wall by a tall, brooding student wearing a leather jacket. Could anyone not have guessed that this boy was a genius? 

Zayn started by sitting at the Montgomery family bar, the family had a de facto obligation to host nearly every high class social event in town after offering to host one year, so they had a fully decked out bar built into their banquet room. The bartender immediately took notice of Zayn, who was batting his eyelashes and looking very sweet. 

“Aren’t you that child prodigy? Something about how your mom--”

“Read me all of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens’ books while I was in the womb? Yeah, that’s me.” Zayn giggled when the bartender poured him two shots. He downed both of them, and upon showing off his neck, he knew he got the man hooked. “One of the leading theories was to be blamed by my geneology,” Two more shots. “I had a great great grandmother who had a genetic mutation that allowed her and her descendants to have a lengthened mental bandwidth and heightened ability to absorb information; learn at an exponential rate.” He downed both of them then moaned at how the vodka sizzled down his throat. “And she had a fourth cousin that had the same mutation, and that woman is coincidentally Louis’ great great aunt. We’re legally not related and both ended up as omegas. But imagine the babies we would’ve had.” Zayn pushed the stool back, running his hands down his own body. 

“I have no idea what you just said.” Bartender laughed, shaking Zayn up another cocktail. 

“I figured you didn’t.” Zayn smiled sweetly, swiping the drink and walking away. “The family tree is absolutely terrible to look at anyways, darling. Now I must dance!” He got about four steps away from the bar and got two shimmies in before a large pair of hands grabbed at his waist and pulled him into their body. He was spun around, and it was Sean Montgomery with the biggest shit eating grin of all the shit eating grins that existed. 

“Hi baby, how’s Russian Literature treating you?” He mouthed at his neck, licking up behind Zayn’s ear. “You look so sexy without your glasses.”

“It’s boring, and you’re already fucked out.” Zayn playfully pushed him away. 

“Maybe you should try Engineering then. All those fucking dorks would pop their boners the second you walked into their building. What kind of virgins build a volleyball court in the middle of campus?” Sean shook a small tin box in front of Zayn, who nodded and stuck his tongue out for the treat, a small purple pill. 

“Virgins that know how to piss off football players by showing off the money their department has.” Zayn scrunched up his nose as Sean kissed him on the cheek. 

“You should be drunk all the time. You’re so much fun to talk to when you’re drunk.” Sean patted his knee and pulled Zayn in to sit on it, running his large alpha hands all over Zayn’s body in want. 

“I guess it helps loosen up my tongue from time to time.” Zayn turned his head around and passionately laid waste to Sean’s lips. “Sober Zayn likes to keep the adults happy.” 

“Baby boy, you have no idea what you do to me--”

“I think I have quite some idea--” 

“You smell too fucking good to be true.” Sean bit Zayn’s neck, making him grunt in pain and eyes roll back as his whole body began to relax, the former lapping at the mark he made. “Wanna go up to my room?” 

“But I’ve only had four shots,” Zayn shrugged, laughing at the face Sean made. He paused, then bit his lip. “Maybe in a bit.” 

“Realized no one can pound you like I can?” 

“No, realized that it’s just very convenient.” Zayn smacked his lips, and Sean rubbed a thumb over his eyelid and kissed his temple. 

“You say the rudest things sometimes, since you know you can get away with it.” Sean slipped Zayn off his lap, slapping his ass as he walked away. “You know where to find me.” 

“I’ll scream ‘Hut!’ and have you running for the touchdown.” He shot a finger gun at him, causing a smitten smirk to escape from Sean’s face at Zayn’s raunchiness, but somehow was still adorably charming. 

“Don’t get accidentally mated tonight.” 

“Am I stupid? You know the answer to that.” Zayn disappeared back into the crowd. 


 

“Oh fuck, that’s Charlie Axton. He’s in my lab.” Niall gasped, looking through his window at all the guests piling into the house. “He’s proper fit.” 

“Don’t get too stupid tonight, Niall.” Harry slapped the back of his head, finding a parking spot and seamlessly backing into it. 

“You can think of it as my final hours before the end of my life. Before Maura takes a hammer to all my savings and cuts up my metal credit cards with her diamond teeth.” Niall got out the car, nearly too excited to wait for Harry. “But you, no questionable drugs. Drinks only, got that? If you die tomorrow morning my dearest mummy will feel obligated to put your funeral on my tab, which will be in the negative millions by then. Remember that you’re my insurance.” 

“Got it, tiger.” Harry smirked, taking a deep sigh before stepping up the porch into the house. 

The house was dimly lit and packed with bodies, all grinding to each other with the heavy bass of some trashy club song, different scents mixed through the air, ones calling to drunken pleasure, others calling to satiate the primal instincts of youth and lust. So of course he had already lost Niall, and the bar was packed full of people. Nevertheless, Harry made his move. 

“Sunset and coke, my man.” He asked the bartender, who looked impressed with such a decision. 

“That shit’s as strong as moonshine, white boy. You really think you’ll be able to handle it?” 

“Happens to be my favorite.” Harry grinned as an omega girl in front of him was already giving him the look , nursing a beer with one hand and a bottle of exotic Korean soju in the other. 

When he got his drink, he sipped at it casually, walking through the halls of the house, passed by drunk 18 year olds and tripping 24 year old grad students, who already had their fill and were practically napping on top of each other. In one room, the corner was occupied by a couple who were suspiciously grunting and shifting. 

“Fuck baby, right there.” The bottom seemed to be in an interesting position under the alpha, whose hair was being pulled in all different directions. Harry froze. He recognized that voice. He walked towards it, shifting his view to take a peek at the owner of that voice. 

“Louis?” He nearly dropped his drink, but then the alpha turned around. “Liam?” He dropped his drink. 

“The fuck are you?” Louis was red in the face and his crop top was almost pulled up and off his body. Whilst Liam looked slightly embarrassed, he merely pulled him back down. “Come back, baby.” They ignored Harry, who stumbled out of the room in such shock that his hearing went to straight white noise and all his thoughts began mixing in his head. 

So it was true. Louis and Liam were here. That must mean...that must mean…

With shaky legs, he got back up on his feet and saw the grand winding stairway, and having already scoped out the bottom floor of the house he bounded up it, because he had a feeling, something inside him just knew. Most of the rooms were open, except for one. As he walked closer to it, the smell of sex was practically leaking out of it, and Harry’s vision began to get blurred with anger, he felt possessive and need to break up whatever the fuck was happening in there. He was planning to dramatically kick the door down, but realized the door was unlocked and so he turned the knob. 

And there was a figure on the bed sleeping soundly with a coat covering their body, no one else in the room. What Harry was smelling was not the intermixing of a pair having sex but just the pheremones of one particularly horny person. As he got closer, he realized the person was a guy, a lot smaller than from afar, and his face was covered by one of his sleeves. Upon removing the sleeve gingerly, Harry felt the soul leave his body. As if a supernatural entity had grabbed it and yanked it from him, all the hairs on the back of his neck raised, and for a moment, everything went white. 

It was Zayn. 

Harry sputtered a gasp, falling back onto the floor next to the bed. He broke out into a cold sweat, panting at what he was seeing in front of him. Harry’s breaths began to get more and more panicked as he gripped his own head and struggled to stop his heart from leaping into his throat. 

Zayn shifted on the bed, drunkenly murmuring something under his breath, and then curling up again. But in the moment that he could smell the presence of an alpha near him, he stirred, stretching on the bed and then suddenly sitting up. Harry was still on the floor so Zayn couldn’t initially see, but Harry realized that it was real. 

He could see the sweat making a shiny line on the side of Zayn’s face, accompanied with bedsheet marks on his cheek. His hair was so lifelike, tousled and messed up, and as Zayn’s neck turned, Harry heard it crack. 

“Sean?” Zayn asked the air, whining a little. “Is that you?”

Harry couldn’t control himself. “Who’s Sean?” 

Zayn jumped a little, realizing that the intruder was on the floor. He rubbed at his eyes, still exhausted and squinted at Harry, trying to focus. He must’ve lost his contacts downstairs. “Ah, I’ve come prepared this time.” Harry stared as Zayn shifted through the pockets of the coat that had been covering him, taking out a glasses case and slipping them on. He looked at Harry again, his eyes went wide, yelped a little. “You’re the--you’re the--” 

“I’m the what?” Harry asked, terrified. 

“I saw you in the library earlier, reading the last copy of Bulgakov--ah, the Margarita, and Rachel told me your name was a Barry something um--” Zayn snapped his fingers, trying to think, but he was still feeling the after effects of the “acid” that Sean given him earlier. 

“Harry,” he breathed his own name out. “Do you--do you remember me, Zayn?” 

“How do you know my name?” Zayn asked softly, and the silence that followed could’ve made it easy to hear Harry’s heart audibly shattering. 

“I...I…” Harry was at a loss for words. But then something clicked in his head. “We had orientation together.” 

“I didn’t have orientation.” Zayn’s voice became suspicious, he was starting to back away from Harry. “How do you know my name?” He asked again, but this time, firmly. 

“Do you really not remember me?” Harry whispered, and the face he was making made Zayn feel so yucky inside, like it hurt to see the guy like this. 

“I’m sorry...I don’t.” Zayn shook his head. “Should I?” 

Harry crawled up onto the bed next to Zayn, unable to make eye contact. “I guess I could say that a very long while ago, you were my entire universe.” As he got closer, he realized how cloudy Zayn’s eyes were. He was still high, maybe Zayn’s thinking this entire conversation was just an acid trip. Maybe Harry could say whatever he wanted to say. “We met in the summer of 1939 when I was fatally wounded on the outskirts of a rural town called Suraj Mukhi.” He took Zayn’s hands into his, and got even closer. 

“I took you to London and showed you all the books in the world.” He kissed the back of Zayn’s small hand, then with his own reached up to touch his face. All real. This was real. “We strolled around the city at night, talked about the places we would go, the family we would raise.” Their noses touched, and the breath from his lips ghosted over Zayn’s. “But then we died in the war.” Harry pulled back. 

“We died?” Zayn asked, feeling overwhelmed and needy and ever so seduced. “How did we die?” 

“A bomb had destroyed an old cathedral, sparking a fire that spread throughout the entire street. One of the buildings was an orphanage that still had children trapped inside, and we died saving them.” Harry couldn’t hold back his tears anymore. 

“I feel like I should know who you are,” Zayn leaned in closer, and now they could study each other’s faces. “But I’m sorry. I don’t. I’m so sorry.” He pinched Harry’s nose, squishing his face between his small hands. He was fascinated by the architecture of the library guy’s beauty, a symmetrical and ever so dynamic silhouette. Likewise, Harry could notice just how different Zayn looked as well. His skin a gorgeous tan, irises lighter than they used to be, a healthy flush that spread on his cheeks and his lips. However, the shape of his eyes were the same, still large and doe-like, with eyelashes so long they blinked before his eyelids did. 

“Beautiful,” they said simultaneously before blinking and moving slightly away. 

“Are you and ‘Sean’ dating, love?” Harry asked as Zayn was slowly sinking back down onto the bed, his moment of paying attention was over. 

“No, no we’re not.” Zayn giggled as if what Harry said was the silliest thing in the world. “My mom says he’s too dumb for me.” 

Harry blinked at the remark, because the Zayn in the past would’ve never said anything like it. “Are you dating anyone , Zayn?” 

Zayn, yawned as his eyes closed, reaching over and holding Harry’s arm gently, like he oh so wanted to sleep but didn’t want Harry to stop speaking to him. “I don’ think so, at least.” 

“I see,” Harry laid down next to Zayn on his side, and this position felt awfully familiar. Except there wasn’t a pool of blood and a giant piece of the ceiling prohibiting him from holding onto Zayn’s entire body. So he took the chance to do so now. Harry knew it wasn’t right, that this was technically non consensual cuddling, but he just needed it, he just needed it so bad. His hands were shaking as he pulled himself closer, wrapping around Zayn’s waist and tucking his beautiful head in his neck, and when Zayn subconsciously did the same, Harry burst into tears. 

It was real. He was real. 

Harry closed his eyes, sobbing further when he could feel Zayn’s breath on his collarbone. He silently prayed, 

Thank you, God. Fuck. 

They stayed like that for quite some time. 


 

It wasn’t until Harry’s eyes snapped open when he could hear and smell someone coming towards the room. His grip tightened on Zayn, sitting up and nestling his baby in between his arms. Sean came in, looked absolutely shocked for a second at the sight of Harry, but then quickly turned sour. 

“Who the fuck are you?” Sean snarled, his stance changing and eyes flashing silver. Oh, show of rich boy dominance, so scary. Harry’s eyes flashed too, but it was different. It felt like the room around them also flashed, and Harry’s scent was much stronger than his. Even the sleeping Zayn could smell and feel the tension in the room, instinctively pushing himself closer to Harry’s body in discomfort. 

“What the fuck did you give him?” Harry snapped before Sean could, and Sean immediately, helplessly stood straight up and his eyes went back to normal. 

“None of your business.” 

“My experience with acid is that it typically makes people inhibited, but not paralyzed. The blood vessels in his eyes have almost popped out, you fucking idiot.” Harry stood up with Zayn in his arms, the glare he was sending Sean only getting more intense. “I’m not gonna ask what you were planning to do with him. But you should know what I do to alphas so desperate to get an omega that they resort to rape.” Harry leaned closer, and now Sean could hear the low, guttural growl that was meant specially for him. “I rip their knots off.” Harry’s mouth now at his ear. “But you smell so weak, are you sure you even have one?” 

He left Sean with his back pressed to the wall, panting and sweating. Harry carried Zayn down the stairs, popping his head into the same room where he had caught Louis and Liam fucking in the corner. Sure enough, they were still there, Louis asleep on top of Liam, funnily enough with clothes still on. Harry bent down, tapping Liam awake.

“Hey, we need to get these two out of here. You know him, yes?” He motioned to Zayn, and Liam nodded his head, still hammered. “I’ll drive you guys back to my place and you can spend the night. I just realized that most of Montgomery’s friends are packing date rape drugs. Follow me.” Liam grunted as he slipped out from under Louis, picking him up and holding Louis’ head on his shoulder. He followed after Harry, who had Zayn wrapped up in his arms, and they made another stop. 

“Niall,” Harry barked, and the alpha that was under...Charlie Axton looked around to see who called him. “Let’s go.” 

“But—“ Niall pointed right at Charlie. 

“He can come too.” Harry sternly answered, and Niall groaned, getting up with Charlie’s legs wrapped around his waist and arms around his neck. 

Everyone was drunk and high off their knockers, barely making it to Harry’s car. It was a good thing it was a 7 seater, Harry gently tucking Zayn and Lou next to each other in the far back, Liam and Charlie in the middle, and Harry and Niall in the front. As Harry turned his key, Niall asked, 

“You sober?” 

“Definitely.” It wasn’t a lie. Harry burned through alcohol very quickly, and he hadn’t had much to begin with. 

“Who’re they?” Niall pointed to the back, his words slurring. 

“You’ll introduce yourself in the morning.” Harry safely pulled out of the roundabout full of cars, taking a left into the street towards their apartment. Niall didn’t press further, leaned his head against his arm, his eyes closed because all the blinking lights were hurting his eyes. 

The situation was an odd one to be in. Everyone was silent, still in their haze of spirituality that came in the form of a bottle. When you get drunk, your chest becomes warm, and your soul gets to take a flight right from your head, still tethered to your body of course, but gets to breathe and wiggle its toes. Very spiritual. At least, maybe the anthropologists in the next millennia will consider it so, after they’ve discussed the questions as to why the silly people in the past continued to destroy the planet, partake in wars, and ruin their bodies. 

So the air was thick. Lots of warm, satiated people breathing in and out, the silence dampened by it. To imagine this further, it was like pulling the comforter over your head on a very hot and sweaty night, the way your body ultimately feels suffocated and ticklish. 

It didn’t really feel like someone in the car had just escaped a probable rape. 

It didn’t feel like all of them were together again, even though technically, this was the very first time. 

Louis was an omega, Liam an alpha. Niall ended up still with a Charles, and Zayn, ever so lovely, was the complete opposite of the boy that Harry fell in love with. 

The boy he fell in love with didn’t depend on anyone else, didn’t do anything for the sake of satisfying himself. He saw the world as the world saw him: small and ever so inconsequential, to the point where he reveled in such little things and entertained Harry’s version of grief and loneliness as if it was penance for still being alive. 

Although now, Harry could see that between the two of them, Zayn was the only one who truly understood what it meant to grieve and be lonely. He took a second to look in the car mirror at Zayn’s half-awake, drugged out face. 

The Zayn that resided in the year 2019, Harry automatically knew who it reminded him of. Himself, back when he had all the money in the stupid, unimportant world, back when he was smart and selfish, but yet not a bad person, just completely normal. He was so normal, there was nothing wrong with him, but then God sent him an angel who put him in a box of humility and told him to die. 

Harry pulled into their parking garage, feeling overwhelmed and his mouth was strangely dry. He just couldn’t get the memory; sensation out of his head, the one where a building began to fall on top of him. As he opened the backdoors, letting Liam, Charlie, and Louis out, again he spoke to God. 

If this isn’t just some joke you’re playing on me, then maybe it’s all a lesson that I must learn. 

He reached in, ever so gently touching Zayn’s cheek and body, drawing him out of the car much like a lifeless corpse. 

“I can’t move,” Zayn began to cry, his fingers desperately gripping at Harry’s shirt. 

“It’s alright, darling. You’re okay.” Instinctively, Harry brought his lips to Zayn’s head. 


 

“Waters,” Liam spoke to the crowd, he was beginning to sober up. He handed glasses to Niall and Charlie before sitting down next to Louis. “Lou, love, water.”

Louis squirmed and pushed him away, deciding he wanted to be difficult. “Coffee,” he said, leaning back into Liam’s chest and holding his arm in a delicate and affectionate way. “Can we fuck again, Liam?” 

Liam gulped nervously, jumping when Louis said it, until he went back down and replied, “Not now, love.” 

“And why not?” Louis made Liam set the water down so that he could crawl on top of him, thighs on either side of his waist. 

“You’re drunk, love. Also, this isn’t where you or I live.” Liam pulled him back down into his chest, so that now they were laying and Louis decided again that he was much too tired anyways. 

“Big fat alpha cock--” Louis whispered before Liam covered his mouth, wondering if Niall or Charlie heard. But they were also sprawled out and asleep on the other couch, the latter adorably snuggled up against the other. “--and you’re so fucking cute, shit, fuck, shit--” He cursed as Liam began to plant kisses all over his face and rubbing the base of his neck, right where it met with his spine. It was where a lot of omegas were sensitive. 

“You should sleep, you’re going to be so angry in the morning.” Liam chuckled, softly rubbing circles on Louis’ back. “I’ll take care of you.” 

And it feels like that’s the first time in Louis’ life that anyone’s ever said that to him. 


 

“Zayn, Zayn, can you look up here, darling?” Harry whispered gently, unlacing Zayn’s shoes and throwing them to the side. He helped him wiggle out of his coat, Zayn’s eyes glazed over but determinedly focused on him. “Your eyes are going back to normal, that’s good, hm?” 

“P-pants,” Zayn couldn’t get a grip on the zipper of his jeans, still not in control of his own body. “H-Help, Barry--”

“Harry. It’s Harry, love. To think that you were the one who sought me out first,” He joked, but was honestly quite nervous as he gingerly peeled down Zayn’s pants, revealing many tattoos littered on his skin like some kind of contemporary artwork. He tried not to stare at how vulnerable and open Zayn looked on his bed, but when he caught himself looking, he snapped out of it and went over to his drawers to find some more comfortable pants. He realized all his pajamas were way too big to fit on Zayn’s frame, they’d either fall off or he’d trip over them in the morning. So he pulled out the largest jumper he had. This will have to do. “Arms up, Zayn.” He hoisted Zayn’s limp arms above his head, pulling off the tee shirt and replacing it with the jumper almost too easily, Harry could hear himself panting at the sight of more tattoos all over Zayn’s lean and muscled torso. Once he got him dressed, he fixed the covers over him, got into bed next to him, but on top of the covers. He silently bid Zayn goodnight, then reached over to turn off the lamp. 


 

Harry woke up to the sound of laughter in the kitchen, accompanied by sizzling, music, and the familiar smell of grease. He groaned, grabbing his neck in pain. He had given his pillow to Zayn, and now his spine was all bent. Once he loosened up his muscles and cracked his posture back into place, he looked over at the clock. 

1:43...PM. 

“Shit, wow.” Harry sighed, looking over at Zayn, who was curled up in a ball and sleeping so quietly and sweetly. He almost couldn’t believe that they were in bed together again. It was riveting, enchanting, and quite frankly, a really fucked up situation. As Harry shifted, Zayn, being the light sleeper that he was, tossed and turned, fighting his dreams and yawning. Harry heard him smack his mouth open and closed a few times, he stretched his arms way above him for about three seconds until Zayn finally turned over and realized that Harry was there and watching him the whole entire time. 

Of course, a scream. The magnitude of it could rival a 7.8 earthquake, Harry so startled that he fell backwards and off of the bed. 

“Did we...Did I...I saw you at the--oh my god, I’m not wearing any pants. Whose sweater is this?” Zayn panicked, getting out of Harry’s bed and running around to collect his things that were randomly spewed across the floor. “Oh my fucking god, I’ve done it now. Wait.” Zayn turned around, running to the other side of the bed where Harry was still on the floor, holding his head, as if he needed to confirm something. Zayn screamed again. 

“You’re the--you’re--” Zayn snapped his fingers. “The library guy! Oh my fucking god, this isn’t happening right now--” Zayn swallowed dry as he hurriedly leaped into his pants and stripping of the jumper. “Shit, I’m such a slut. Shit, shit shit--” Harry stood up and grabbed Zayn’s arm before he could open the bedroom door and run out. 

“How are you okay?” Harry asked, Zayn was so active, alert, and it didn’t even seem like he was hungover. “You--you were roofied.” 

“You ROOFIED ME?” Zayn shrieked, pulling away from Harry and Harry tutted as Zayn began screaming nonsensically into his face, finally pulling him closer, bending his neck over and biting down. Hard. The reaction was immediate, Zayn punched at Harry’s chest, screams turning into whimpers, relaxing into Harry’s arms. When Harry finally pulled away, Zayn was calm, livid, but calm. 

“No, Sean Montgomery roofied you.” Harry answered, taking in a deep breath. He then outstretched his hand towards Zayn. “Hi, my name is Harry.” 

“I know,” Zayn blurted out but immediately regretted it. “I mean--I--okay, I saw you at the library a couple days ago and sort of creepily watched you read the last copy of the Master and Margarita--” 

“I know, you told me yesterday.” Harry laughed, looking down with a blush. “You were up in one of the bedrooms and we sort of had a conversation.” 

“I don’t remember any of it, so maybe this is my chance to redeem myself.” Zayn shook Harry’s hand. “Hi, my name’s Zayn Malik and I’m trying to get a degree in Russian Literature.” 

“Erm--I study really dead people and how they died,” Harry shrugged sheepishly, feeling very pleased when Zayn smiled, laughing with him. 

“That’s pretty cool.” Zayn looked up with him with those alluring eyes, the ones that probably make everyone he meets fall in love with him. “I sound boring in comparison, don’t I?” 

“No, no you don’t. You’d be surprised how much I adore that kind of thing, libraries...and books, I mean.”

It was a bit of an inside joke that only Harry knew. “By the way, we brought your friends over too. I’m pretty sure that’s the ruckus outside.” 

“Thank you.” Zayn said it like he meant it, pulling Harry in for a friendly hug. “I guess you kind of saved my life yesterday. I owe you a dinner.” 

Harry’s heart soared. Yes, a dinner. Maybe two dinners, which would turn into three. “Don’t even mention it. I just did what was right.” He smiled a crooked smile, opening the bedroom door and leading a very flustered Zayn into the living room. The four were already awake, laughing and eating on the couches and at the kitchen island. When they saw the pair, Niall cheered. 

“You’re finally fucking awake, I thought you guys were dead in there.” 

“I only have one evening class today.” Harry shrugged, opening the carton of orange juice and directly waterfall-ing it into his mouth. “So? Who’s here today?” He asked, as if he already didn’t know everyone. 

“I’m Louis,” Louis raised his hand like he was in class. “You caught me and Liam fucking yesterday.” He slapped Liam’s chest, who blushed profusely. 

“I’m Charlie, really nice to meet you.” The guy behind Niall held out his hand, and Harry shook it. This first meeting was real, Harry had actually never met Charles ever. 

“I’m Zayn,” Zayn softly said, holding his hand out for Niall to shake, but Niall did not shake. Niall was a hugger, let this be known. The squeal that escaped Zayn’s lips made everyone laugh, Niall even went as far to lift Zayn up a little. 

“Yeah, it’s like meeting a giant puppy.” Harry smirked, taking the coffee pot out of its cubby to pour himself a mug. “Do you want anything to eat, Zayn?” 

“Um, I think I missed my meds this morning,” Zayn bit his lip and looked at Louis, who nodded. “But um, I’m supposed to eat something, so, um,” Louis raised an eyebrow. 

“I mean, I won’t force you...” Harry started but Louis aggressively shook his head at him, “How about a piece of toast? That sound doable?” 

Zayn quite liked this approach, where the people offering him food did it in a very well worded way, Louis used to convince him to eat like that but then after a while got too tired of being witty so resorted to shoving food down his throat. He nodded at the toast, and Louis looked relieved. 

“I’m in Food Science,” Niall spoke with his mouth full. “What about you guys?” He swallowed before continuing, “I know Charlie’s in nursing.” 

“You’re in nursing? Could you take a quick look at Zayn? I think he was roofied yesterday, and now that I know he’s on prescription medication on top of it, it’s got me worried.” Charlie nodded, giving a very benign and friendly smile at Zayn. “Fucking Sean Montgomery.” 

“I heard rumors last night about not taking any of the acid at the party because it’s some kind of bad batch from the school’s dealer.” Louis looked worried as well, pinching Zayn’s cheeks and running his fingers through his hair. “But you seem fine, I don’t get it.” 

“I agree,” Charlie looked at Zayn’s eyes one more time, checked his pulse, looked around for any bruises or discoloration. “I guess this is what the power of being around an alpha can do.” The crowd looked confused at his statement, so he explained, “Being as evolved as we are, there are many studies and theories going around about the nature of our biology and how it affects us, such as how we heal, how we have heats and ruts, how guys can carry children--one of them is that when an omega is in the presence of a stronger--or suitable alpha they immediately can feel the effects of advanced healing, stronger pheremones and emotions, stuff like that. That’s kind of like the science-y explanation of the old wives’ tale about fated pairs and bonds between packs and stuff.” 

Fated pairs and bonds between packs and stuff. 

Fated pairs. 

“Do you believe in fate, Zayn?”

Harry got lost for a second but then ruffled his head, trying to clear his thoughts. Every now and again, another memory would pop up into his mind and overtake everything. But then another one flashed into his head. 

“Fate, sir? No, no I don’t.”

“It wasn’t fate that you were there the day I got pierced right through by an arrow?”

“You know Harry’s been all fucked up since yesterday, maybe you took some of that bad shit at the other mixer,” Niall pointed out, but Harry shook his head. 

“First of all, I’m fine, and I don’t think it was that.” Harry laughed, sipping at his mug of coffee. “You heading out?” He asked Liam, who stood up and patted down his pockets for his keys and wallet. 

“Yeah, I’m gonna run back to the Montgomery house to get the car. You wait here?” He asked Louis, who looked like he’s never been one to be obedient in his life but he would for this person, so he nodded. 

“My uber’s almost here,” Charlie wiggled his phone in his hand. He bit his lip, turning around to give Niall a kiss on the lips. “Thanks for last night, I put my number in your phone.” He waved at everyone and walked out the front door. 

“He seems nice,” Harry commented, watching in disbelief while Niall stuffed several more Eggos into his mouth. “I don’t understand how you’re a food scientist. I really, really don’t.” 

“You don’t have to understand, dearest, because I’m probably not going to get my degree. Maura was faster this time around.” He showed Harry his bank statement from an app on his phone. “Drained.” 

“I need to shower as soon as we get back, we have a shift at my mom’s shop in an hour.” Zayn said while looking at Louis. 

His mom ?

“Your mom? You have a mom?” Harry asked, the words feeling foreign in his mouth. 

“Um...yeah, I--yeah, it’s a cat cafe,” Zayn blushed, he really got flustered mentioning it to anyone. “Louis and I had to get our own apartment and earn our own rent, our parents said.” 

“That sounds really lovely, a cat cafe.” Harry looked right at Zayn with a longing, mysterious look that Zayn couldn’t quite decrypt. Why was he looking at him like that? Did Harry not have a mom? Was he being inadvertently insensitive? Oh fuck. 

My mom runs an investment company and we only see other during extra special occasions. ‘Extra’ being the key term here, she couldn’t make it to her own granddaughter’s birth last year.” Harry laughed almost bitterly, Niall patting him on the back. 

“Well, you can always talk to us about it at the shop,” Louis slid over a business card. “Our coffee is really shitty, but most people come for the cats anyway. We’re there every weekday from 4-7.” 

“Louis,” Zayn complained, feeling very embarrassed. 

“Hey, this guy’s magic, Zayn. You took practically everything yesterday and you don’t even have a hangover right now. Also,” Louis looked right at Harry, “He’s very fucking beautiful, and obviously understands basic human decency. I have a good feeling about you.” Louis bopped Harry’s nose with his finger. Zayn held his face in his hands, it was like watching your mom try to set you up with someone. 

“Perhaps if I have time.” Harry grinned, and just then, Louis’ phone buzzed. 

“Oh, Liam’s outside. Catch you two snacks later,” Louis picked up his sweater, slipping on his shoes. “C’mon, Zaynie!” 

“I’ll be right down.” Zayn bit his lip, turning around and holding out his palm. “Phone, please.” Harry gave it to him. “So...this is my number. Call me when you’re ready for that dinner. And thanks again.” He went up onto his tippy toes to kiss Harry on the cheek, his entire face and neck turning a bright vermillion and sprinted out the door. 

What Harry felt in that moment was indescribable. His eyes became unfocused and glazed over, he didn’t hear what Niall said before he headed into his room. He stood there, in the kitchen, taking a deep breath of all the scents that lingered in the air. How right they felt all mixed together the way they were, how right it felt when Zayn kissed his cheek and when they held each other last night. 

Now this was his monologue; maybe he was right to assume that this Zayn was the complete opposite of the Zayn he fell in love with. Perhaps this Zayn believed in fate, a happily ever after, hope for the future just by the memories of his past. An open, shining, beautiful creature that has gotten quite close to his full potential. Not at all like the person he knew in 1939. 

Keep me safe?”

“Of course I will.”


 

“God, Zayn, do you really have to scrub twice? We’re gonna be so late!” Louis yelled, changing into different clothes and quickly brushing his hair back. “Hurry up!” 

“Alright, alright. I’m done, you better chill.” Zayn stepped out, a towel around his waist and his wet hair down. He slapped Louis’ ass as he walked over to his closet, choosing an outfit. 

“Here, your deodorant—wait.” Louis pulled Zayn close to him, his eyes nearly bulging out of his head. “Something’s wrong.” 

“What’s wrong?” Zayn asked, slipping on underwear and pants after that. “Lou?” 

“You smell different.” Louis gasped, taking another sniff just to be sure. “Like, holy fuck, I know what you smell like and you took a whole ass shower but you smell so, so different.” 

“What the fuck does that mean?” Zayn hissed, beginning to panic. 

“Does it seem like I have the fucking answers?” Louis hissed back, inspecting Zayn’s neck and body for any weird marks. 

“Do you think it was the fucked up pill I had yesterday?” Zayn asked, and Louis shook his head. 

“No. You don’t get it, it’s like, fundamentally different. As if your entire body chemistry’s changed.” Louis freaked out, running across the other side of the room to grab his phone. “We have to call in sick, this shit isn’t okay. We have to get Liam to take us back to that guy’s place—“ 

“Harry? You think he had something to do with this?” 

“Well I don’t know, you were in the same room together all night, maybe he fucking did something shady. It doesn’t matter, because I’m gonna have Liam beat his ass and I’m taking you to a hospital.” Louis furiously typed a message to Liam, dropping his phone back onto the bed. He pulled Zayn in for a hug just one more time to be sure, and he was. “We need to go. Now.” 

“Okay, okay,” Zayn ruffled his hair with his towel one last time before chasing Louis out the door. They ran to campus, right through it, all the way to the graduate school dorms, all which Louis navigated through a bit too expertly. They ended up in front of one of the complexes, pounding on the front door. Liam immediately answered. 

“Lou? Zaynie? What’s going on?” Liam asked, it was clear he had just showered and changed his clothes as well. 

“Take a sniff.” Louis pushed Zayn towards Liam, who hesitantly hugged him and breathed him in. His eyes snapped open, looking up at Louis in shock. 

“Oh, fuck.” 

“What? Is it bad? Is it really really bad?” Zayn pleaded an answer, but neither of them told him anything, Louis typing on his phone at lightning speed while Liam struggled to find socks and put on his shoes. 

“Let’s go.” Liam firmly pushed all three of them out of the door, dangling keys in one hand and shoving a wallet into his back pocket with the other. 

“Unacceptable, completely fucking unacceptable,” Louis kept on muttering under his breath, and Zayn could feel his heart beginning to skip beats. The entire car ride, he twiddled his thumbs, tapped on his collarbones every once in a while, and tried not to throw up. 

They arrived at an apartment building that looked vaguely familiar, expensive and grand. Louis forced Zayn out of the car while Liam drove away to find parking, one hand on his arm as they marched through into the building. When they were stopped by the doorman, Louis sweetly explained through his teeth that he was here about thirty minutes earlier at his friends’ place and he had forgotten his jacket. Once they got through, Zayn’s anxiety level lifted as high as the floor they were getting to from the elevator, and when it dinged, he nearly had a heart attack. 

Louis seemingly remembered a lot of the place, pulling Zayn along with him from corridor to corridor. They arrived at a door, which Louis fearlessly and mercilessly pounded against, until a man opened up. 

“Hello—oh, hi guys. Did you forget something?” It was Niall. 

“Where’s Harry?” Louis gritted his teeth, protectively having his arms wrapped around Zayn. “We just want to talk.” 

Niall’s expression turned, slightly amused but with a hint of curiosity, “Well, he’s in the shower, so if you want to wait for hi—“ 

“Yes, I think we will.” Louis shoved in, the elevator in the distance dinging and they heard Liam running through as well. 

They waited on the couch for about ten minutes, all three looking extremely panicked. Zayn the worst of all. It wasn’t until Harry popped his door open and strolled into the living room that everyone started shouting. Flurries of “What did you do to him?”, “He smells different!”, “What’d you give him, motherfucker?” all overwhelmed a silent Zayn, who gripped at his chest. As Niall bickered with his two friends, Harry strode over, scooped Zayn up and brought him close. 

“He smells the same to me.” Harry carried Zayn over to another part of the couch next to Niall, holding him in his arms like he was a baby. 

Now it was Niall’s turn to realize. “Harry.” 

“Hm?” 

You smell different.” 

The room exploded into noise again, filled with concerned friends and defenses for accusations, and Harry could feel Zayn’s heart getting faster just by how hard it was beating against his chest. So he brought a hand up and began rubbing his back, lowly purring into his ear. 

“It’s alright, darling. It’s all alright.” Harry whispered, feeling a bit happy when Zayn wrapped his arms around his neck. “Is is anxiety that you take medications for, darling?” Zayn nodded, his body shaking. “It’s okay. Just listen to me, yea?” He stood them up, walking away from the living room back into his bedroom. 

“Hey, where are you taking him?” Louis demanded, but Harry didn’t answer. 

He shut the door behind them, snuggling Zayn into his neck and basically rocking him back and forth while heading towards the bed. “It’s okay, baby boy. It’s okay.” Zayn made a little noise at the sentiment, shivering still but now being hit wave after wave of Harry, eau de toilette

“Focus on me.” Then a pain in his neck, he gripped Harry’s back and cried out, thrashing a tiny bit. 

It was hard to explain, and not really an explanation as to why omegas let alphas do it, make their body submit and crumble under them. Some say it’s a high, others say because they get so overwhelmed sometimes that it’s nice to feel dominated. Shit, was it the latter that applied in this case? Zayn didn’t care, he felt his heart stop tensing, his breath deepening, just an overall feeling of safe

“The issue is,” Zayn could finally speak again, “I’m meeting my family in a couple of weeks.” 

“Oh shit, I see.” Harry ran a hand through his hair, looking unfairly handsome, and Zayn felt his thighs squeeze together. He was feeling extremely hot and bothered, which was uncharacteristic of him when he was sober. Being under this beautiful, gorgeous guy probably wasn’t helping how displaced he felt. So Zayn reached up to push Harry’s head down, and their lips met. 

His lips were soft and warm as they met his own, making noises that were somehow both sweet and erotic at the same time. His hands instinctively went to thread Harry’s hair through his fingers and pull, at the same time pushing forward into his mouth. 

It wasn’t that Harry’s wasn’t enjoying this, but for some reason, as daft as it was, he just couldn’t stand how confident Zayn was being. They fought for dominance, moving tongues and pushing each other with them. It wasn’t until Harry finally pinned Zayn to the bed that he moaned in his mouth as retaliation. He began to grind himself on Harry, scratching at his back, begging to be touched. They kissed a few more times before Harry moved down to Zayn’s neck, moaning through bitey kisses until he chose a spot and began to suck. 

“Unnngh,” Zayn couldn’t be in control of his body anymore, letting Harry manhandle him on the bed, twisting and turning their position every few seconds. But when Zayn reaches over to palm at Harry’s crotch, it all stopped. 

“Shit, shit, we can’t be doing this.” Harry pulled off of Zayn, eyes silver and wild. “It’ll just make it worse.” 

“Make what worse?” Zayn asked, sitting up on the bed feeling embarrassed. 

“Well, if they’re actually saying that we smell different, and it’s only us that smell different, someone’s really, really wrong.” Harry paced around the room, trying to distract himself from his half-hard dick that was rubbing against his pants. 

“Do you think we…” Zayn made a hand sign, and Harry shook his head, feeling very shocked at Zayn’s lewdness. It was all too overwhelming as it was. 

“No! You were literally roofied, there is no way I’d do that.” Harry shook his head, finally stopping his pacing to sit down next to Zayn. “I know this might be difficult but, can you remember everything that happened to you yesterday?” 

“I remember smoking weed with Louis, erm, driving over to the house and getting a couple shots in before I danced a bit and ran into Sean.” Zayn remembered, heart skipping nervously as Harry got closer. 

“And then?” Harry asked gently, their thighs were almost touching again, and both could tell just how much sexual tension was pulsing between them. Harry’s eyes were still silver. Zayn thought it best not to tell him. 

“Then he grabbed my ass, tried to talk to me, and then showed me a tin with a bunch of those little purple pills. I don’t even think I asked him what they were, I just remembered I’d taken them before.” 

“Jesus.” 

“Hey! You two better not be fucking in there, I swear to god--” Louis pounded on the door. Harry yanked it open, the air that wooshed from the hallway and bedroom letting everyone know that the scents were very much different than before. “Zayn, are you okay?” He bounded into the room, instinctively grabbing for Zayn as they always have with each other. 

“I’m okay, I was just trying to remember what happened last night.” Zayn rubbed at his eyes, kissing Louis’ cheek. “But I don’t want to lie to you, I did kiss Harry just a moment ago.” 

“I fucking knew it,” Louis wanted to pounce on him, but Liam caught him before he could. “This is all your fault. What is your dad going to say, Zayn?” 

Dad? Zayn has a dad? 

“I don’t know, maybe it’ll just go away, maybe it’s just a hormonal flux or something. We’re going back home in like three weeks, right? We have time to figure it out, right?” Louis went back to pull Zayn’s head close and kissed it again. 

“Yeah, babe, of course we do. We’ll figure it out.” They hugged, and Louis glared at Harry. “Thanks for nothing, bitch.” 

“Lou!” 

“No, we have wasted time now, we should’ve gone to a hospital first, what if you’re really really sick and I dragged you here on first instinct only to get that stupid pretty boy doesn’t know anything!” 

“Maybe they’re just really compatible.” Liam chimed in for the first time as everyone watched Louis and Zayn kiss each other on the lips. “Um...you know, like what Charlie said about powerful pheremones attracting other powerful pheremones.” 

“You know what, that actually sounds pretty plausible. Harry’s family is distinguished or something like that, that’s why he’s got those silver eyes.” Niall pointed to Harry, who now realized that his eyes were still silver from the encounter with Zayn. 

“Zayn’s of good breeding too,” Louis pulled back in contemplation. “Maybe--” 

“Maybe not describe my background with the word ‘breeding’, Louis.” Zayn huffed, he was all hot and bothered from being rejected a couple minutes ago and with everyone in the room he couldn’t pounce on Harry again. He didn’t even understand why he wanted to, just felt consumed with the thought that he really, really wanted Harry to fuck him through the mattress. 

“Well anyways, if the attraction’s changing them, all we have to do is cut it. You’re staying away from Zayn.” Louis stood up, and Liam looked to agree. “For your own protection, you don’t know what Zayn’s dad might do if he had reason to believe someone’s defiled his baby boy.” 

“No one’s defiled me, this isn’t the Edwardian era, for fuck’s sake.” Zayn stood up and stomped after him. 

Harry thought it was odd that Zayn said the Edwardian era and not Victorian, which was more common, but he tried to not make too much out of nothing as he silently watched the visitors leave again. But of course, before he stepped out the door, Zayn gave him a look, a look that both said something and expected Harry to be able to understand what was being said. 

“Does that line work on every omega you invite into your room?” 

The memory flashed and disappeared before Harry had time to even process it. 


 

 

“So,” Zayn was gone, went to finish his shift at the cafe because he felt bad for abandoning an employee there, but Louis couldn’t be bothered, so he and Liam were back at their apartment, watching a movie on Netflix. “Was it your idea to get me, or Zayn’s?” Liam asked, not really looking at Louis, ‘cause he knew it’d piss him off. 

And Liam’s so sweet, it’s not like he could lie. “Mine,” Louis bit his lip, moving closer to Liam on the couch. “Are you mad at me?” 

“No, but he didn’t think it weird that you knew exactly where I lived?” Liam raised an eyebrow, outstretching an arm and wrapping Louis with it. 

“I’m sure he’ll mention it sometime,” A languid, seductive whisper, they hadn’t even introduced all the characters yet in the background but it’s been taking too long for Louis anyways. “If he remembers.” 

“And that new bloke, Harry, he saw us too. You’re okay with that?” Liam couldn’t contain his smile as the beautiful boy leapt over and onto his body, sitting right down on his lap facing him (legs on either side of Liam’s waist). 

“God, I forgot how the men from our mother country speak, we should’ve had you shipped here ages ago.” Louis moaned, bringing his ass closer to Liam’s crotch. 

“Very funny, love. Maybe you should’ve never left.” Liam ran a finger to tuck a strand of hair behind Louis’ ear. “But Zayn refused to go without you, and I felt like a wife watching her soldier leave for war, that last night we promised not to ever tell.” Liam pulled Louis closer, until their noses and foreheads were touching. “Promised that we’d find each other again, like the kids we were.” 

“You were our nanny’s son, Zayn liked you so much at the time, I couldn’t say anything. But now I can,” Louis intertwined their fingers. “It’s such a good thing, you happening to me. A very, very good thing.” A soft kiss placed gingerly, like he didn’t know how Liam would react or what he’d say next. 

“You think we can say it now?” Liam asked, running a hand up and down Louis’ back. “Tell everyone?” 

“I think your mum will be disappointed you ended up with the slutty one,” Louis gasped when Liam gripped his ass, chest heaving against chest. “She’s swatted my arse more times than you have,” Liam lifted Louis’ shirt off. “We have about ninety minutes before Zayn gets back and we go to the clinic, let’s make good use of it, yeah? Gonna be so good to me?” He cocked his head to the side because he knew Liam loved it when he bared it, like he was fully allowing someone to dominate him. 

“I dunno, I might just leave now if you mention my mum one more time.” Liam mumbled, rubbing his hands all over Louis’ perfect, perfect chest. “Won’t be good to you, spread you out then leave you hangin’.” 

“You wouldn’t,” Louis kissed Liam, looking up him before doing it again. “The clock is running, Zayn will walk in on us at this rate, you’re such a slow cummer--”

“And what if he finds out?” 

Louis pulled back, annoyed at how Liam was dodging him. No one has ever rejected him like this. He was literally offering himself up and making sure he could smell just how much he wanted him, and Liam had the nerve to refuse. “If he finds out...well then I guess he’d find out. I can’t imagine him getting mad. Now will you please fuck me into this couch?” 

So why even keep it a secret anyways? 

Liam turned them around and pushed Louis onto the couch, now fully positioned in between his legs, with only their pants in the way. “Pants, pants,” Louis was so desperate, groaning when Liam decided to grind forward. “Li, please.” 

“What was that? Could you say it again, love?” A kiss planted on Louis’ Adam’s Apple, another grind downwards. Louis moaned, gripping the cushion behind him and throwing his head back. He was so annoyed, but being bossed around every once in a while did make things interesting. 

“When’d you become such a daddy?” Louis tried to fight back, he hated how powerless he was. “Maybe I’ll just find someone else to fuck me, then.” He glared, making a move as to slip out from under Liam only to be met with a growl and both hands pinned above his head. “No seriously, where’d you learn that? Sunday school?” 

The mocking worked, Liam practically ripped off Louis’ pants before unzipping his jeans, Louis spread his legs wide open in triumph, showing Liam how wet he made him. He puckered his lips and bit them as he watched Liam take off his clothes almost too slowly, the abs clenching as the shirt pulled over his shoulders. All mine, he thought. Liam breathed in through his teeth, planting kisses down Louis’ body before wiggling off his underwear, and Louis moved so that there was a very clear view of his hole. Liam stuck a finger in Louis’ mouth, who filthily licked them up and around before encircling his entrance and pushing it in. When he was met with literally no resistance, he looked back up at Louis, who was sheepishly smirking. 

“When?” Liam demanded, shoving a second one in and watching Louis’ toes curl. 

“All of you guys were asleep and I was horny,” Louis whined, jaw dropping open as Liam thrust his fingers in and out of him. “You can’t blame me for that.”

“You were literally in someone else’s house, you...you…” Liam’s words trailed off, reaching down to swipe a lick from his perineum to his hole. 

“Whore? Slut? Skank? You can say it.” Louis moaned again, high pitched and sweet, reaching behind to push Liam’s head down. “I think today was the first time I’ve ever heard you say ‘fuck’, I thought you were a good catholic boy,” 

Liam came up, breathing heavily and smacked Louis’ ass hard. “I don’t know what about me gave you that impression, but lover, you’re wrong.” They switched positions again, Louis’ legs hooked over Liam’s arms. “All that earlier about me being good to you, right now I have it within me to bend you over my knee, you naughty little fox.” 

“Shit, shit.” Louis threw his head back, clenching as Liam teased his hole. “Liam, put it in already, fuck. Fuck.” 

“I don’t answer to you. Where’s my ‘please?’” Liam began to push down, sending Louis’ lower body into the air. 

“Jesus Christ, it’s like I’m fucking Prince Harry.” Louis smiled, pecking Liam softly, genuinely. “Mm, Prince Harry.” 

“Say it or I’ll leave right now.” Liam rubbed their noses together. 

“Please, please, please, please,” Louis gasped in delight when Liam finally pushed in, not stopping until their bodies met together. “Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck--”

They rocked together, Liam aggressively grunting and slamming Louis down with each thrust, so much so that his body kept on getting pushed up every time. Louis’ eyes went from fluttering closed, to rolling back, to making direct eye contact with Liam. He was going really hard today, and Louis was all for it. 

It could be said that Louis had much of what was called a power complex, it didn’t help that he was raised in money and glamour, his beauty also didn’t help his humility, but presenting as an omega certainly did. But not in the sense that he was ashamed of being an omega, oh no, he’s known that since he was young. It was more of what he could do with it, find pleasure and dominance when watching any Alpha he let fuck him fall apart and become smitten, chase him ‘round until he got sick of their attention and moved onto another. He understood his place in the world as necessary, attractive, and powerful. 

But every person has their vices. Louis’ first vice was indisputably Zayn, who he had grown up with as their parents were the bestest of friends. They became attached, de facto bonded with each other, and they quickly moved from being two separate boys into one unit of intelligence and competence. (Louis’ father was the CEO of a stock broking company so of course both of them ended up being obsessed by numbers and the game they played that the majority couldn’t.) ((Louis and Zayn hold stakes in Apple, for instance.)) 

If Louis’ first vice was Zayn, Liam is a champion for being the next. They first met when he was at Zayn’s house while their parents attended a charity event, they’d just switched to a new nanny. The new nanny had a kid that she couldn’t leave home alone at night, so consequently fostered another of Louis’ few weaknesses. They fell in love by the time they got to middle school, Louis made sure they kept the same nanny for this exact reason, had his first kiss with the exotic boy from humble origins and a goodly-shaped face, lost his virginity to him. Promised a whole bunch of himself to Liam that Louis would never dare to admit out loud. He didn’t even like thinking about just how much some people meant to him, because it was immeasurable, and who wants to think about something they can’t put a number to? 

He gasped when Liam pulled out and came on his stomach, following shortly after. Liam fell on top of Louis, biting his neck as the finale before their sex haze came down. Louis couldn’t think, just wrap his arms around Liam’s neck and pull him for a kiss. 

“I love you.” Louis sobbed through it, and Liam nodded, reaching to cup his face. “Fuck, I’m pretty sure I love you. Is that bad?” 

“I’m not sure, but my instincts are leading to ‘no, no it isn’t bad at all.’” Liam kissed his nose and forehead, carefully getting up and lifting Louis into his arms, headed towards the bathroom. 

It wasn’t the first time Louis said he loved Liam. In fact, he said it every time they had sex. But Liam, being honest, dependable, nice Liam, stayed even after Louis would change his mind about it every time. For this is how Louis worked, and the only one who knew all his ticks better would be Zayn. Louis loved to be loud, be in control of the numbers, have all the attention on him at all times, but hated anyone seeing how vulnerable he could become when he came into contact with anyone who treated him right. Liam knew he was always good to him, even chased him to America, for fuck’s sake. He’s more than willing to wait. They showered together, cleaning each other up and pretending as though this was just making use of their bodies, that this was just a game to Louis, when in reality, neither of them truly knew what the fuck they were doing. They continued to pretend that they didn’t know what they meant to each other. 


 

By the time Zayn came back, Liam had already cleaned up the entire apartment and left, greeted by Louis trying really hard not to look fucked out on the L seat of the couch, casually scrolling through Netflix. 

“You cleaned?” Zayn made a “mind-blown” hand motion, with the added sound effect. “That’s weird, like really fucking weird.” He threw off his shoes, running around to plop down next to his best friend. “Do I still smell weird?” 

Louis bent his neck over. “Yeah. Should we try the clinic tomorrow or today?” He leaned over and gave Zayn a kiss. 

“Did you shower again? Your hair’s wet.” 

“Uh...yeah. I got all sweaty cleaning the house and you know how I hate being sweaty.” Louis smiled at Zayn like he was his baby. “But we really should stop by the hospital though. We shouldn’t be trivializing this, what if you’ve been poisoned?” They turned to face each other, Louis running a hand through Zayn’s hair. “Work go okay?” 

“Yeah, I just felt bad that I left Marjorie there alone because of what happened today.” 

“It’s funny how we technically don’t need to help out at the cafe but here I am, volunteering to scoop litter every half hour and wipe up cat vomit.” 

“Because you love me.” Zayn batted his eyes at Louis, who pinched his nose and groaned. “You wouldn’t let me do it all alone, would you?”

“Yeah yeah, I love you.” Louis kissed Zayn again, and they smiled, like all of this was so funny to them. Them being physically intimate. Them being so close they were almost like mates. Them getting college degrees and doctorates because they can. Them acting as though they were blissfully unaware of what the world was by mingling with people that had half their IQs and getting drunk with them. Them lying with the flick of their sly tongues like reciting poetry. Them playing the part of two normal, little boys waiting for their prince charmings to come around. Zayn loved to be comfortable in his role of ‘Louis’ friend,’ loved letting everyone think that he was a sweet, innocent daddy’s boy that only thought good of the world in all its irrelevancy. But of course he didn’t, because he had gambled too much on the whole Earth and would be damned if it all failed with his hard effort down the drain. If all his stocks collapsed, his trust fund drained, his connections to practically all of the billion dollar industries were erased, he wouldn’t be able to play the game he was playing now. 

“We’ll go tomorrow, but I think it’ll all be fine.” Zayn intertwined their legs together, cuddling on the couch that Liam and Louis had fucked on twenty minutes prior, watching the movie that was playing during it. 

“Yeah, I’m sure it’s all alright. But I mean it when I say to not go near that person again. Scratch everything I said about having a good feeling about him.”

“You gave him the number to our cafe, Lou.” Zayn laughed, getting up to head to the kitchen, to send a text that Louis had just told him not to send. 

This was what Harry meant when he first met this Zayn, that feeling of instantly recognizing the person in front of you as yourself. Rich as can be, to present yourself as unattainable when you’re the loneliest person in the room, and to have so much hold on the world you can’t afford to think that none of it even matters. It’s why he fell in love with the Zayn in 1939 in the first place. To that boy, the world meant nothing. Each day was just a day, wasn’t a step towards something else or a pulling back of the past before it, each day was lived like it was a grain of salt melting into hot water. Anything he did was because he could do it. He knew could save Harry when he saw him crawling out of the bushes that day by the river, so he did. He was told to go to London, so he did. He was told that he was loved, and so he loved. He knew Harry was in that burning building, so he ran in. Nothing was a price. Everything was done by instinct. 

That Zayn embodied what it meant to be human, and now, perhaps Harry was meant to fall in love with the person that now wears his face, and through it, maybe he could learn to forgive himself for surviving. 

 

Hi. Memorized your number from your phone from this morning. Sorry about Lou, he gets protective sometimes. 

-

Hello. Fast memorizer. I thought we weren’t supposed to be interacting. 

-

Meet me in RLiterature section in North campus library tmrw...11 am. 

-

Alright. 

 

Chapter Text

Author’s note really quickly I’m annoying I’m sorry-- 

So, writing has always been one of my passions and dreams ever since I was really little, and after taking a long break from it to focus on my mental health and getting through puberty alive, it finally feels like I’m actually getting better at it? I feel like I can actually get a sense of my own style and places of humor, irony; where to place this and how to say that, and it’s all such a wonderful feeling. I feel like even though, as a writer, I don’t know where the hell I’m going most of the time, I can get through to my point simply by knowing who my characters are, every tick, every flaw, how to describe them in a way that perfectly explains them, even though you could never sum up an entire human in a short narrative like this. 

 

I just wanted to say, about the mental health thing, there is no one who is more cognizant than me of the fact that it affects the entire generation that I’m apart of. I’ve been fortunate to be able to write, pursue art, take up hobbies, get antidepressants, get therapy, get help. I know that most cannot afford that, either financially or some other personal barrier. 

 

I’m still shit at writing, but I’m learning. I’m still going through puberty, but I’m learning so much about the people that I interact with in real life that pieces of them end up in my writing in some way or another, in a fic, in a poem, in a song. Because that is what I feel like makes any story digestible, being able to instinctively tell how human a fictional character is, and being able to reflect on your own mistakes after reading about theirs. 

 

I wanted to make it clear that if you are reading this and struggling, you are never forgotten. Bits and pieces of you end up somewhere, and the cosmic dust that you create through connecting with other people lasts forever. 

 

Because most days, I, in real life, don’t feel like I’m getting anywhere. 

But maybe it’s not about the destination, maybe it’s not even about the journey. 

Maybe it’s about those few happy moments that we steal every once in a while after feeling so lost, afraid, and dark. 

 

It sounds so silly, but every time I get a comment or a kudos, or there’s one more bookmark than before, I feel really fulfilled, and it makes me want to keep on practicing and getting better as I go. It’s taken me a long time to feel this confident in one of my abilities. 

 

And if you ever need to talk, send me a message. Let’s talk. I love talking. (Clearly.) 

 

Thanks again for reading, because you honestly didn’t have to, but because you did, it made a really insecure and sad girl very happy. Okay now on to the chapter. 

 


 

After they finished their movie last night, Zayn fell asleep on the couch while snuggling with Louis, who very carefully shut off the tv, carried Zayn in his arms to their loft bedroom and tucked him into his bed on the right half of the room. The lights were turned off, windows slightly ajar, and everything was still. 

Zayn woke up to Louis crawling into his bed sometime later, poking at his face until he opened his eyes. “Mm?” He yawned, turning over. Louis reached and brushed a hand through Zayn’s hair. “Good morning,” Zayn mumbled, his eyelids felt like sandbags and his entire body felt like he was in a dry sauna sucking all the moisture out of his body. It was a good feeling, despite the description. 

“Good morning,” Louis echoed, kissing Zayn softly on the lips. “We have to talk about what’s going to happen today.” 

“What time is it?” Zayn asked in the realization that the room was still dark. 

“5:45.” 

“Fuck off.” Zayn shoved Louis away, aggressively turning over and wrapping himself further into his comforter. 

“I’m just worried about you going to the clinic today. This is the first time that anything like this has ever happened.” Louis wiggled forward, spooning Zayn and breathing on his shoulder. Zayn gave no response. 

“And I’m worried about Montgomery, the weird acid that everyone’s been taking.” Louis continued, really trying to not make the real reason for this conversation a blow to the head. He wanted to first dampen it by talking about something else, and when Zayn was sleepy he was less conscious (obviously) of his reactions and would never get mad. 

But he really wasn’t getting up. Louis tried kneeing his ass, but Zayn calmly slammed the pillow onto Louis’ face before turning over again and closing his eyes. 

Louis bit his lip. “I’ve been sleeping with Liam for the past year and a half.” 

It wasn’t an immediate explosion. Immediate explosions don’t exist. In movies, when bombs go off and things explode, there’s always at least two to three seconds of a silent, wide shot of what’s about to blow up before it blows up. That kind of energy was present in the room. Louis could see that Zayn’s chest was moving up and down, but there was nothing distinctive about that. His jaw was beginning to hurt, he’d been clenching it for a while in anxiousness. 

“So,” Louis jumped when Zayn turned over to face him. “You’ve been lying when we were talking about how good looking he was and how you should ask him out?” 

“...I guess so.” 

“You guess so?” 

“I wasn’t consciously doing it, I swear. It’s like one of those instances when something is in the back of your mind all the time but you can’t talk about it, so you end up projecting an overcompensation that’s usually unnecessary and only makes things worse?” As Louis was saying it, Zayn’s eyes were narrowing. 

“So you tried to introduce me to the idea of you and Liam together, it ended up as a lie because you were really trying to divert me from ever suspecting that you two were already together?” Zayn’s tone was getting increasingly angrier. 

“...You always did have a knack for summing things up perfectly,” Louis laughed nervously, trying to read Zayn’s expression; if it was composed, possibly feral, etc… 

“I really didn’t want to be mad, but I’m finding myself really really mad,” Zayn was visibly upset, beginning to breathe heavily and eyes getting watery. “And while we’re on the trend of confessing things, I was totally planning to secretly meet up with Harry the library hunk today.” 

“Fuck.” Louis was literally on the verge of tears too. “We’ve lost ourselves, baby.” 

“I know.” Zayn scrunched up his face. “For a year and a half? That’s like, almost 548 days, that’s like, how many hours of fucking behind my back--I thought you guys fucked for the first time at Sean’s house!” He was throwing a fit like a baby, so angry at Louis for lying to him but he really had no right to be. It was disorienting. 

“No, we’ve been fucking for quite a while now, ever since Liam decided to apply for his PhD program.” Louis scratched at his head, trying to get Zayn to come closer to him. 

“That’s more than a year and a half,” Zayn gritted through his teeth, reaching to grab fistfuls of Louis’ hair. “Dirty slut!” 

“Well, this dirty slut couldn’t wait until your proper waking up time to tell you, because dirty slut was so nervous about you not loving him anymore.” Louis peeled Zayn’s fingers away from his head. “Do you not love me anymore, Zaynie?” He stuck out his bottom lip, kissing Zayn’s chin. 

“I love you so much that I’m going to kill you for lying to me.” Zayn aggressively kicked away his bedsheets. “Motherfuckers who wake me up at 6 AM deserve to die anyways.” 

“In all fairness, you lied to me too. I deliberately told you not to go near Harry and here you are, running your pretty little mouth off about how you were going to fuck him in the university library.” Zayn was about to retaliate, but Louis cut him off. “Don’t lie and say you’ve never imagined it.” 

“It’ll be a murder-suicide.” Zayn crawled on top of Louis, and they began to wrestle, falling off the bed and rolling around quite non-aggressively on the floor. They just looked like a human rolling pin. Not only that, but both were very weak and out of shape, so quickly pulled away from each other, huffing and puffing like the big bad wolf when he was met with the brick house. 

“I’m sorry, Zaynie-poo. Bambi baby. Pumpkin pie. Magnolia cupcake. My Vuitton to my Louis.” Louis begged. Zayn tried to stay stubborn, but he really didn’t feel like being mad today. 

“I’m sorry too. For going against your back.” They wiggled closer to each other until their noses were touching. 

“I’m sorry for lying.” Louis sighed. “I just felt even more off about it when Liam mentioned it yesterday, how I basically told everyone that he and I fucked at the party and how you’d find it weird that I knew exactly where he lived.” They pecked affectionately. “I never wanted to hide it from you, but I just got all swept up and didn’t even know how to process it into my system.”

“I forgive you.” Zayn patted Louis’ head. “I didn’t really want to secretly fuck Harry in the library. I want to openly fuck him in the library--no, what I mean is, I think I’m crazy about him.” They finally got off the floor, Louis sniffing Zayn again to make sure he was still smelling weird. 

“You’ve known him for like, two days. You can’t be crazy about someone you’ve known for two days.” 

“I know, it’s so uncharacteristic of me to be acting like this. But then I see his face in my head, I remember how much smarter he is than Sean Montgomery--who, once upon a time, thought was too good for me. I get all fuzzy inside, and I just want him.” Zayn stripped of his shirt, inspecting himself in the mirror. “Almost like a new toy in the store that I can’t have.” 

“Pretty fucked up to compare a person to a toy,” Louis laughed when Zayn threw his shirt at his face. “But then again, that’s how Liam was to me too. Then we started fucking, and it got all confusing. The numbers get confusing, you try to return it at the store but you’ve lost the receipt at home, and now you’re stuck with it.” 

Zayn didn’t want to think about it anymore. “I guess the plus side of waking up at 6 AM means I have enough time to bullshit my final paper.” He casually took off the rest of his clothes and headed for the shower. 

“I’m telling you, Harry’s bad news. You’re going to get whipped.” Louis sighed when Zayn closed the door on him. “I’m not about to let you get played and then thrown out like any other dollar store omega.” 


 

Harry woke up with an immense pain in his lower back, like he had bent it the wrong way and bruised the bone. He groaned, breathing in through his teeth when tried to get out of bed. “Niall!” He looked over at the clock and realized it was much too early for Niall to be awake, so with a few determined breaths, he yanked himself up, howling when a large crack ripped through his back. He stumbled, his breaths shaky. He had to close his eyes, nearly yelling when he had to stand up. It felt as if his back was broken, and it hurt so badly his vision went blurry by the time he made it to the kitchen to look through all the drawers for anything. 

Niall must’ve heard all the noise of things being shuffled around and Harry trying to scream silently, because when he walked out, hand under his shirt, eyes half open, he saw pale-faced Harry with a hand gripping his back and about to pass out onto the floor. “Haz? Oh, fuck.” He ran over, and Harry basically crumbled against Niall, and they fell to the ground, this situation feeling all too similar. 

“My back,” the words came out during a pant, Harry’s fingers white as they gripped at Niall’s shoulder. 

“Your back?” Niall repeated, reaching behind to lift up Harry’s shirt. But there was nothing. No bruises, and although it felt like it, no broken bones sticking out of his skin. “There’s nothing there, Haz. Are you okay? Does it feel like your muscles got tensed up?” 

“It feels like someone’s taken a knife to the base of my spine and severed it,” Harry gasped when Niall gingerly touched him with the pads of his fingers. “Ow, fuck.” 

“Okay, now I’m definitely taking you to a hospital. I don’t care if you’re scared of them.” Niall shook his head, helping Harry up and they hobbled to the front door. “We should’ve gone days ago, jesus.” 

“I personally didn’t know that my body was going to give up on me, thanks.” Harry groaned again when Niall had to lift up his leg to fit on one shoe, and then the other. “I think I might die.” 

“Sooner than that, you might get kicked out of your bloody class,” Niall had one of Harry’s arms perched across his neck as they walked slowly to the car. “And then where will we be?” 

“You’ll figure it out if I die,” Harry screamed again when he sat down into the car and his hands began to shake. “Just submit to Maura and take over your dad’s company.” 

“I’d sooner let you die.” Niall started the ignition, cursing as he jerkily drove them out of the building’s parking lot. “Shit, where was the medical school again?” 

“Literally take a left and go straight,” The pain in Harry’s back wasn’t letting up, his face absolutely soaked in sweat, hands so clammy they were slipping off the dashboard. “Try not to suddenly brake, or else you really might send me through the window.” 

“Right.” Niall was so nervous, looking both ways multiple times before turning and so focused on keeping the car straight on the path. 

“Maybe I did something to it in my sleep, because nothing makes sense about this. Absolutely fucking nothing.” Harry cried out when Niall braked at a light. “Fucking hell, man!” 

“I’m sorry! I’m not equipped to deal with this, mentally and structurally!” Niall yelped back, pressing the pedal again when the light turned green. “Left here?” 

“Left here!” Harry roared, a couple seconds away from passing out. 

Niall zoomed through the Emergency Room, parking at lightning speed so that he could get Scary Harry out of the car as quickly as possible. They hobbled again towards the doors, and the second they came in, Harry screamed again, tripping over himself and practically all the nurses, lab techs, nursing students, resident students, everyone else waiting for care jumped and looked over. It took about thirty seconds for most of them to run around, some getting a wheelchair, another running to get a doctor, the others all clamoring to help Harry up and move Niall out of the way. Another thirty seconds later, they were in a room with a bed that had wires and machines on wheels plugged into it, and a doctor walked in as she put on gloves. 

“What happened?” She asked Niall, who seemed very traumatized. 

“He said his back was hurting, like he broke something or something.” Niall scratched at his head, stepping out of the way when another nurse came running in. “Oh, hi Charlie!”

“Really not the time, Ni!” Harry said through his teeth, jaw dropping and eyes closing as the doctor probed at his lower back, brow furrowing as she did so. 

“There’s no bruising, nor any prominent fractures that I can feel. Are you two just wasting my time?” 

“Doc, I’m sweating balls here, I’m about to pass out from how much it hurts. And I hate hospitals. This is not a prank.” Harry begged, and Charlie kept looking at Niall as he moved to take Harry’s blood pressure and check his pupils. 

“Let’s get you x rayed, Charles, please page Doctor Fewb.” The doctor slipped off her gloves, scribbling something on a clipboard and handing it to Charlie. “Give this to your supervisor, start him on XXXX medication after screening and page me again when he’s stabilized.” The doctor hurriedly left to get to another patient. 

“Okay, love, let’s get you to the MRI room.” Another nurse came in with Charlie to wheel Harry out, Niall chasing after them. 


 

“Zaynie, after your morning class we should head over to the hospital. It’s a bus ride away.” Louis said as they walked to campus, freshly washed, pampered, essay-ed. School was always a control in every experiment they devose, because that’s what they knew so very well. 

“I hate hospitals.” He shook his head, just wanting to forget about it all. “I think I’m fine, Lou. Just stop worrying about it.” 

“You were drugged. Think about what could be going around in your system right now, like a ticking time bomb, a slow release cyanide implosion.” Louis was met with a smack to the head as they approached the Literature Hall. “You’re going. You have no choice in this.” 

“Fine,” Zayn stuck his tongue out. “Now hurry up and go learn about statistics or some other bullshit.” 

As he watched Louis walk away, he walked further into the Lit hall with a mind full of simulations that he was running through his head. He needed to text Harry about changing their meeting time, he needed to also pray that his final grade of the quarter wasn’t a fail, he needed to get blood drawn at one of the most hateful places on earth. He sat down at his usual seat, tapping his fingers against his desk absent-mindedly as his professor went on and on about the period context of a particular novel. By the time the class was halfway done, he felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned around to see a guy smiling at him, holding out a piece of paper. Zayn took it and turned back around. 

 

The note said: 

Hi, my name is Ant. I’ve been admiring you for a while now, I’m taking Russian Lit as a minor. You’re super beautiful…number? 

 

Zayn was a little surprised at how juvenile and innocent the gesture was, considering that this might’ve been the fourth or fifth time that ‘Ant’ tried to make an advance on him. He’d heard rumors that he wasn’t very well mentally, so wanting to be nice, 

 

He replied: 

I’m super flattered, I don’t consider myself “super” beautiful. I’m actually currently talking to someone, so it’d be unfair to you if I led you on. 

 

He turned around, passed the note to ‘Ant’ just as the professor ended the class early. He stood up with urgency, collecting his things up off the ground. He heard Ant mutter under his breath, “Bitch.” 

The reaction shook Zayn to his core, a chill down the full of his spine, sure, he’d handled bad rejections before, but nothing had ever made him feel so endangered. He felt scared to face Ant’s direction, so he walked forwards and then ran out silently along with a group of people. 

It was like he was holding his breath the entire time he was trying to get out, and when he saw Louis waiting for him at a bench in front of the building, and so with his outstretched hand he held onto Louis and sat down next to him. 

“You okay?” Louis immediately went to brush his hair with his fingers. “Nervous about hospital?” 

Zayn stayed still before deciding to nod. “Can we ask Liam to take us? I kind of don’t want to take the bus.” 

“To be tell you the truth, Liam hasn’t been answering me since last night, which either means he’s super busy today or he forgot his phone at home.” Louis shrugged, and Zayn nodded in defeat. “We’ll be in and out. I promise.” 

“Okay,” Zayn leaned up and kissed Louis’ nose before standing up and walking together hand in hand to the bus stop. Zayn took a few seconds to open his phone and text Harry.  

-

Hi

don’t think i can make it to the library today 

-

Zayn didn’t receive a text back, 

By the time Louis and Zayn were at their appointment at the hospital, they were waiting in one of the open waiting rooms. After about twenty minutes of regular white noise and calm, something caught Zayn’s nose and he turned his head up to face the hallway. 

They were wheeling Harry somewhere, and Niall was chasing after them. Zayn immediately stood up to check out what was going on, much to Louis’ behest. 

“Niall?” He called out, and saw Harry look to see who was calling his friend’s name. When he saw Zayn jogging after them, he groaned again. 

Niall turned around, distraught, but smiled at Zayn nonetheless. “Hey, man, fancy meeting you here.” 

“What’s going on? Why is he getting an MRI?” Zayn asked, trying to peer in through the windows of the room to see a couple of nurses and the radiologist moving Harry onto the big slidey thingy. 

“I don’t know, he woke up today screaming on and on about his back,” Niall tried to calm down, his anxiety levels were through the roof. 

“Did he hurt it?” Zayn held out his hands for Niall to grab, which he did, and as his large clammy hands gripped around Zayn’s small ones, he began to relax. 

“There was nothing on him, no bruises, no bones sticking out. Just yelling his head off.” Niall took a deep inhale, followed by a just as deep exhale. 

“Then I’m sure he’ll be just fine.” Zayn smiled, leading Niall over to where he was waiting with Louis. 

“Zayn!” Louis called him over, he was in the doorway as some nurse passive aggressively scribbled something on a clipboard, looked up at Zayn, and beckoned to follow him. Zayn left Niall on one of the seats and went with Louis, got his height, weight, and blood taken, then came back out to see that Niall had disappeared. 

“Where’d he go?” He asked Louis, who shrugged. “He said Harry hurt his back.” 

“That sucks.” Louis quickly made sure that the tape and gauze on the crook of Zayn’s arm wasn’t falling off. Niall passed by again, and Zayn bounded after him, hearing Louis huff in annoyance. 

“Is he out? Is he okay?” Zayn asked, he knew he was being a nuisance but he didn’t really care. “Did they say anything?” 

“He’s in a room right now with a lot of painkillers, but they haven’t told me anything. He’s just over there, go and say hi so you can embarrass him.” Niall told Zayn before turning to the receptionist and quietly asking things. Zayn took Louis’ arm and walked over to the room Niall was talking about, opening it and seeing Harry on the hospital bed with a couple tubes up his arm. 

“Shit, maybe we shouldn’t be here, Zayn,” Louis tried to stop him, but Zayn went forward, pulled up a chair and sat right next to Harry. He leaned over and whispered ‘hi, it’s Zayn’ and patiently waited for Harry to respond. 

“You’re going to be the death of me.” Louis pinched the bridge of his nose. 

“Don’t be all strung up just because Liam isn’t texting you back.” Zayn shot back, sticking his tongue out at him. The noise woke Harry up, who was groggy and dizzy from all the meds, saw Zayn and Louis bickering over him with whispers that were too loud to be whispers. 

“Jesus,” Harry breathed out, and the two stopped, looking down at him. 

“Hi, Harry.” Zayn smiled, and on the inside, Harry was so ecstatic at the sight of his baby smiling down at him like some type of angel, but he couldn’t really react. 

“Hi. How’d you know I was here?” Harry asked, his body was numb and his throat felt dry, so everything he said came out as a pained gasp. 

“I didn’t, I was here to get blood drawn and saw you.” Zayn explained, fluttering his lashes and sending Harry to nirvana. Looking at Zayn’s face was better than any painkiller, he was just that beautiful. “Are you okay?” 

“They said I had hairline fractures all along my pelvis,” Harry could almost laugh at how stupid it sounded. “They have no idea what could cause that in certain places and not bruise or swell in the slightest. They described it as the trauma of a giant dumbbell falling on me.” 

“That sounds fucking shit, man.” Louis shook his head and giving Harry a pitying look. 

“Did a giant dumbbell fall on you?” Zayn asked, getting closer to Harry. 

“I’m pretty sure it’s a no.” Harry laughed, bringing up a hand weakly to swipe under Zayn’s chin, pulling a cute giggle out of him. “Sorry that I wasn’t able to make it to the library.” 

“It’s okay, I wasn’t able to either.” Zayn shrugged, and Niall walked back in. 

“They said you’ll probably be in here for a few days, and in order to access your health insurance we have to contact the person who has all of your information.” Niall sighed, placing his hands on his hips. “You can ditch it and pay the 100 grand, or you can call your mum now. Either way it’s gonna seem like I let a car run you over.” 

“Call Gemma,” Harry flapped his hand about. “Tell her to pay the bill, and I’ll pay her back in installments so that mum won’t know.” 

“Why not just tell your mum? You can avoid paying the 100 grand if you did.” Niall reasoned, but Harry shook his head. 

“She’ll make this whole big thing about it and force me to come back to London. I have the money, so why not?” 

Harry groaned as he sat up, making everyone’s eyes grow wide and quieted the room when he did so. 

He looked around at everyone looking at him strangely, in such silent shock that he could feel everyone’s hearts beating. “What’s up?”

“What the hell, man?” Niall rushed over to gently push Harry back down on the bed. “You just broke all of your bones down there. How the hell did you even get up?” 

“I feel better,” Harry realized, and it all seemed too strange. 

“There is no alpha powerful enough to heal over that much trauma within literal hours of it happening.” Louis stepped back instinctively. “What the fuck.” 

“Do you really feel okay? It’s not just the meds talking?” Zayn put his hand over Harry’s, the action surprising both of them. 

“I don’t really feel the meds anymore,” Harry breathed out. “I think you should call the doctor back in here.” Niall nodded and went back outside. Harry gently intertwined hands with Zayn, whose heart skipped a million beats. They were absolutely smitten with each other, and it showed on their faces. It just seemed so right to be next to each other, just felt so right to hold hands and make eye contact. Maybe staring into Zayn’s eyes healed him. 

“This is fucking insane, some kind of voodoo shit going on in here,” Louis was laughing at how crazy it seemed. But then Zayn got a notification on his phone, so he looked at it and saw that the hospital had texted him about his blood test results coming in. “That about the blood test?”

“Why did you get blood drawn?” Harry asked, frowning when Zayn let go of his hand. 

“Because Louis is a neurotic worry-wart who says I still smell weird.” Zayn showed Harry the gauze on his arm. “The fucking worst, needles are.” 

“You should go and get the results.” Harry smiled, and let him and Louis leave the room just as Niall came back in with the doctor. 

“He says you’re feeling fine?” The doctor slipped those same blue gloves over her nimble fingers. “That you’re moving around?” Harry nodded, and she looked really confused. “Can you turn over for me?” Harry did, and she gently went past his hospital gown to palpate his hip bone and its surrounding area. “Doesn’t hurt?” 

“Not one bit.” Harry replied, and the doctor became even more confused. 

“He’s too lucid for it to be the pain meds. And he’s bruising, look here.” She motioned for Niall to look. “But see the color of it? It’s almost as if he fast forwarded a week of healing.” She slipped off her gloves, furrowing her brow in concentration. She was running diseases, conditions, syndromes all throughout her head, trying to understand what was happening here. “Do you know where you lie on the scale? When you presented?” 

Niall nodded. “We opened our letters at the same time, and Harry’s score was off the charts. His mum was really proud.” 

To explain, for those who are confused as to what they’re talking about, in society, there is much more nuance that goes into the separation of people into the three categories of Alpha, Beta, and Omega. Structurally, all classes are equalized by the International Committee of Science as equally important, deliberate, and the only difference between them was the roles that they played. But what divided people even further was the illustrious measure of how much of an Alpha you were, how much of a beta you were, and how much of an omega you were. So when you submitted your DNA sample to the hospital for class testing (this usually happens in the peak of puberty, say, 14-16 years old), you would receive a letter disclosing your class and on a scale from 1 to 100 how powerful your status was in that class. The lower your number, the weaker you were in terms of being that class. Over time, this has been viewed in society as a measure of how evolved you are, which is false, but it was true that some people ended up different if they were abnormally off the charts on either end of the spectrum. Studies are yet to be published about those people. 

The running average of the majority was around 65 across all three classes. Niall lay on the scale at 98, which is already abnormally high. 

Harry lay on the scale at approximately 106. (Approximately, because there are not many ways to measure it past 100.) 

The doctor went dead silent again when Niall said the number out loud, as if all her ideas of what could be happening suddenly didn’t apply anymore. With a sharp inhale, she broke down the initial questions. “It’s safe to assume you’ve always healed pretty quickly, yes?” Harry nodded. “And you experience color refraction in your irises? Goes all silver when your mood changes?” He nodded again. “That still doesn’t explain why you’ve healed this fast.” She sighed, her pager was blowing up, this was her 22nd hour of her on-call rotation, her feet were killing her, why couldn’t this have this happened like 12 hours ago, when she was still willing to deal with God’s unexplainable bullshit? 

“Have you been seeing anyone recently?” She cocked her head up. “The Chadwick-Hearst theory, maybe.” It was mainly said to herself for herself. 

The Chadwick-Hearst theory was an uneasy hypothesis about the nature of the class spectrums. It was proposed after a series of experiments run by Evolutionary Biologists Sarah Chadwick and Melinda Hearst, where they paired several different couples up with different levels on the 1-100 scale, to see if there was any effect on the participants after living together: flow of hormones, behavioral changes, heightened physical abilities. One of the couples, an extremely powerful Alpha and Omega pair, showed signs of fastened healing after one of them had accidentally broken their ankle and it healed over within a matter of seconds after their partner touched them. 

“I mean, we've been hanging out with all sorts of people.” Niall started, confused as to why the doctor even asked that question, but Harry knew what the CH theory was. He knew what she was getting at. 

“There are these two omegas we recently got acquainted with, I’m not sure where they lie on the scale but they did hint at the fact that their bloodlines are rather powerful and both come from distinguished families in England.” The doctor nodded, clenching her jaw. This was a piece of work. 

“Well, I can’t hold you here right now, because the university hospital is much too busy to conduct any experiments and find out what’s really going on. If you’re feeling chipper, go home. Stay around those omegas, stay hydrated. Come back if anything else happens.” She headed out the door. “The nurse will have the discharge papers ready for you outside.” 

So...what Harry got from that was, staring at Zayn’s face really did heal him.


 

“We found no traces of any harmful or abnormal things running around. This is good news, because you have no idea what those drugs have been laced with nowadays.” The nurse scolded the two of them. “As for the scent changing thing, I think it’s just a matter of body chemistry based on pheromones. Sometimes being around a lot of strapping Alphas can do that to you.” He shrugged, and Zayn looked back at him sheepishly. “You said your level on the 1-100 scale was a 101, right? You sure it was a 101?” A doubtful brow was raised.

Both Zayn and Louis nodded. 

“Hm, then it’d make more sense that your body experienced changes if you were around other people who have an abnormally powerful level as you. Like your friend here is a 101 too, right? Know any alphas or betas that score really high like that as well?” The nurse folded up the blood test results and slipped them in an envelope. 

“Maybe.” Louis looked over at Zayn. “But I mean, we’ve hung around Liam all our lives and this has never happened. He’s a 93.” Zayn blinked, nothing made sense. 

“There really isn’t a definitive answer to these things, but what’s important is that physically, you’re fine. Keep taking your meds, eat and drink regularly, exercise, all that. You’ll be back to one hundred percent in no time.” 

The nurse shooed them away, calling in the next patient. 

“What a condescending ass,” Louis huffed, walking towards the exit with Zayn from the clinic side. “But I’m glad you’re okay, Zaynie. I wouldn’t have known what to do with myself if you died.” 

“I wouldn’t have died, you queen.” Zayn slapped his arm. From the other side of the building, Niall and Harry were walking towards the exit too, and the four of them stared at each other. 

“It seems we keep on running into each other,” Zayn said to Harry, who shrugged and smiled at him. 

“Guess what? The doctor thinks that looking at you cured me.” Harry flirted, watching how Zayn’s face got pink in an instant. 

“Well, more precisely, sneakily holding hands cured him.” Niall inputted, making Zayn even more red. Niall was currently very very smug, because while Harry was signing the discharge papers and calling his sister to convince her to foot the bill without telling his mom, he and Charlie secretly snuck away for a quick moment to snog in one of the medical supply closets. He was practically skipping out the door. 

Louis silently followed after all of them, pausing before pushing the glass door open to look at his phone. Liam still hadn’t texted back. 


 

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Zayn asked, he had accompanied Harry to the college office to report the medical incident that happened this morning so that it wouldn’t be a strike on his record. “You broke your pelvis in several different places.” 

“I’m right as rain. Look,” Harry lifted up the side of his shirt so Zayn could see that there was bruising, yes, but the bruises were yellowish-brownish, meaning that they were practically healed, and everything inside it was practically healed. But all Zayn could look at was the cut of Harry’s v-line that popped out. “Have you ever heard of the Chadwick-Hearst theory?” Zayn only nodded just to get Harry to shut up, keep on lifting his shirt higher. “Zayn?” Harry snapped his fingers in front of his face, because it was really obvious how his eyes were glazed over and pointed in the wrong direction. 

“Hm? Oh...yeah, you were saying?” Zayn ruffled his hair, and Harry couldn’t contain his smile. Back in the past, Zayn used to always get distracted when he saw Harry’s body too. “Sorry, I totally wasn’t staring at your abs.” He slapped a hand over his mouth. 

“You’re really bad at keeping your thoughts hidden, huh?” Harry softly pinched at Zayn’s face, he knew it was mean to tease him, but the way that Zayn got puffy and couldn’t meet his eye was just too cute. 

“You do this to every omega to get them all whipped for you? And it works?” Zayn made fun, trying really hard to guess whether or not the beating of his heart was so loud that Harry could hear. Harry’s smile faltered a bit as they walked through the courtyard, suddenly becoming absent minded. 

“The very ground doesn’t feel the same here. These clothes don’t feel the same. The air doesn’t even smell the same...

I don’t know you.”

“Harry? Are you okay? Did I say something wrong?” Zayn asked, seeing how the color drained from his face. He walked in front of him and turned to face him, stopping Harry. “I-I’m sorry if I did, I--”

“Do you wish you had more time with your mother?... 

My heart was about to burst--

I feel as though I am flying.” 

“I…” Harry couldn’t get his head on straight, trying to push away the mist that covered his eyes. “I...No. You didn’t do anything wrong.” He snapped out of it, taking deep breaths and looking down at Zayn. Harry reached up a hand to hold Zayn’s face, and they awkwardly stood there a while as Harry wordlessly stared at him. 

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Zayn felt so light, he was feeling so comfortable with the way Harry was touching him, the electricity that ran through their skin creating pathways, connecting something deep inside them that couldn’t be described. Harry nodded, it was beginning to seem as though he could only think whilst looking at Zayn. 

“I think I have to call my mum.” Harry bit his lip. “I’ve been a brat.” 

For just a moment, while he was continuing his bitterness and riding along with the story of living in 2019 with the memories of this new life, he had forgotten that in 1939, his mum died a horrible death. How could he? How could he forget? What about this life was so powerful to the point that Harry was already beginning to lose pieces of himself? 

Sure, Harry’s mom now was a cold and distant workaholic who was never able to emotionally attach with her children, but she was still here . Alive. He had thought that the universe giving him another chance with Zayn was the only gift, but he was so wrong. Meeting Zayn again was giving him time to fix things for himself that he never could in the past. 

“The quarter is officially over.” Something inside Harry lit up as he said the words. “You and I have a lot of chemistry, it’s obvious. Trust me when I say that even though we’ve only known each other for a couple of days, it feels like I’ve known you years.” Wow, it’d be really lame if he started tearing up right now, wouldn’t it? Oh, and down they came, and if seeing Harry get discombobulated in the hospital wasn’t enough, him crying surely would’ve chased Zayn away. 

But Zayn didn’t feel uncomfortable or awkward. In fact, his whole body felt at peace. He was smart, he was smart since the day he was born. He knew how to devise a story. He knew how to create a character. How to get what he wanted by saying the right things, how to have fun at someone else’s expense. So in that moment in the courtyard, letting Harry hold his face, he broke down everything about him in his head. 

Harry was tall, charming, intelligent, rich. He was dependable, honest, and in an extreme case, Zayn thought, he wouldn’t even be that mad if he was playing him right now. He scrolled through all the factors of Harry that he could think of thus far, and it led up to one question. 

“What’s your score on the 1-100 scale?” Everyone was staring at them now, some taking pictures, some texting and whispering wildly about Harry from Anthropology and Zayn from Literature possibly being together. 

“106.” 

Zayn yanked Harry’s face to his and their lips met. A collective gasp ran through the students that had been watching. 

“Darling,” Harry spoke into his mouth, pausing very briefly to remind Zayn that they were out in public. “Darling, we have to stop.” 

“Why?” Zayn was this close to throwing a tantrum. “I haven’t been fucked in weeks, I don’t care if those snakes post it everywhere. C’mere--” Harry shook his head, turning around and bending down, motioning for Zayn to get on his back. “Really? We’re doing this now?” 

“Let’s go somewhere else, shall we? Change the rumors from “they fucked in the courtyard” to “they had a sweet moment in the courtyard before walking away.” Zayn relented, getting onto Harry’s back and holding onto his neck, and Harry settled Zayn’s legs through his arms. 

“We’re going back to my house.” Zayn bit Harry’s shoulder, which sparked a laugh. “I don’t think Louis’ home.” 

Something about this situation felt too familiar, but at the same time, it was too different to really warrant looking into. So as Zayn rode Harry as a horse, walking across the campus grounds to the street level where there were a slew of apartments and stores, a peaceful but bustling street with cars, bicycles, and pedestrians laughing amongst each other, Harry took the liberty to think during the silent pauses between every time Zayn would speak. 

They described it as the trauma of a giant dumbbell falling on me , Harry thought, smiling  when Zayn began to twirl locks of his hair around his finger. It made no sense, it wasn’t like someone had come into the room at night to angrily smash at his pelvic region and then leave. And even if they did, why did they do it so evenly? They could’ve just worked on Harry’s hip bone and shattered it. And even then, Harry surely would have woken up, right? 

Why did this feel like deja vu? 

Harry getting injured, Zayn suddenly appearing, having an impulsive love affair, taking one to one’s home, making love. (Harry really couldn’t see the parallels at all.) 

“This is it right here.” Zayn pointed to a building, jumping off Harry’s back and reaching in his back pocket to grab his keys. “I also just realized that you’re still wearing pajamas, aren’t you?” He giggled when Harry looked down, and he was right, he was wearing a plain gray t shirt with some joggers. 

“It’s a good thing that I decided against my Batman onesie,” he joked, smiling when Zayn laughed at it, pulling his hand up the stairs. “For someone who claims to be of an extremely distinguished background, this home is very humble. Are you living in some kind of simulation?” Zayn rolled his eyes at Harry, walking across the floor and stopping in front of a door, meddling with the keys again. 

“Well, at the time, Louis was fascinated with the romantic idea of living in a loft. So loft it was, and now that there is technically only one room, we have to share the upstairs together.” Harry wrapped his arms around Zayn from behind, trying not to think about how perfectly the former’s body fit within his. Zayn threw his keys somewhere on the counter, spinning around to reach up and peck Harry on the lips. “So...are we gonna do what I brought you here to do?” 

“How come you asked me what my score was? On the 1-100 scale?” Harry dodged Zayn’s attempt at grabbing him, picking up a book that was spread out on the couch. “Oh, your Margarita,” he held it up, and Zayn’s face burned. 

“Because I score 101.” Zayn answered tightly, this guy was not an easy fuck, that’s for sure. 

“That’s abnormally high,” Harry said nonchalantly, but also said it to emphasize how unnecessary and ironic it was for him to say such a thing. “And you only kissed me after I told you mine. Why?” He finally pulled Zayn close to him, making him sit on his lap as he closed his body in and around Zayn. 

“Well, you went on about how it felt like you’ve known me for years, and how much chemistry we have, so I ran it through the hub.” Zayn tapped at his head. “I don’t usually bring people home during the daytime, especially not if I’m sober. I had to really think about it.” he turned his head and gasped when Harry was there, lips ghosting over his, a tender kiss, an anxious one. 

“What kind of contemplation did you think on me when you were ‘running it through the hub?’” Harry gripped Zayn’s chin when he leaned forward again, the kiss harder this time, breathy moans being let escape, but before Zayn could really start pulling Harry’s hair or something, anything at all , the latter pulled away. 

“Firstly, I had to measure your intelligence against mine. And against the people that I’ve fucked in the past.” Zayn said it bluntly, Harry’s surprised look not fazing him. “I figured that you’re definitely smarter than Sean Montgomery, so…” 

“Really? Sean Montgomery?” Harry scoffed. “Consensually, right?” 

“Yes, before I went celibate for a while and he got all desperate. I knowingly and willingly fucked him. Did you know that he purrs during sex? And then cries after he cums?” Zayn let out a giggle when Harry groaned, he didn’t want to think about another alpha right before they were about to fuck. “If this is what you consider foreplay, I have to say that I’m definitely not riled up.” 

“I don’t personally consider this foreplay, but I think this is what you like, actually.” Harry slid his hands up under Zayn’s shirt, the surprised moan breaking past his lips. When Harry ran his thumbs over Zayn’s nipples, he keeled over. “I think you like analysis, breaking down a character. You like the control you have over people when you read about them or when you write about them. So I’m going to break you down.” Harry nipped at Zayn’s ear, making him jump, Harry’s tongue running around his earlobe before placing a kiss at the base of his neck, where he was most sensitive. Zayn jerked again, squeezing his thighs together. “Keep going. What else did you think about before kissing me?” 

“I...I--oh fuck,” Zayn couldn’t get the words out because Harry was rubbing his big ass hands all over his body, he reached behind him to grab Harry’s hair, but then Harry pressed his nose down on the base of his neck and his entire body flailed. “I...I was thinking that if I still smelled weird by the time I went back home, maybe I could--maybe I could bring you with me. Show you off, explain that me being around you was the reason why I smelled weird. But I couldn’t do that if I can’t show you to my mum. My mum expects the best from me, you see. Practically wants me to marry into the Royal Family.” 

“I see, darling.” Harry bit down on Zayn’s neck, and the sound he made was music to his ears. “Take your shirt off.” He helped Zayn shimmy out of his shirt, pulling his body closer again so that his chest was flush against Zayn’s back. “So you asked about my score, did you? To justify why you smelled different? The hormones coursing through us and whatnot?”

“Yeah, yeah, I did.” Zayn whimpered when Harry pushed his hip bones down, and he could feel that he was sitting directly over his crotch. “Fuck.” 

“You know what struck me about you? When you told me straight up how you stared at me for a solid hour watching me read the book you wanted. Does that get you off, love? Rudely staring at people?” 

“No, I just, I couldn’t--ah, I couldn’t look away.” Zayn body was hot, and every time Harry touched him suddenly it was like a burst of electricity running through his skin. 

“You know what also struck me? About you?” Harry turned Zayn around to face him, their lips meeting again. Zayn hummed, and Harry lifted them up again, supporting Zayn’s legs with his arms as he searched for the stairs. Zayn pointed behind him, showing a thin staircase that led to an exposed upper loft. “What struck me is that you’ve already thought of all the possibilities that this can go. You don’t ever actually think in the moment, but you pretend to.” 

 “That what can go? This? Me and you?” Zayn asked when Harry plopped him down on one of the beds. “Wrong one, Louis will kill me if we have sex in his bed.” He crawled off and jumped into the other one, making grabby hands at Harry. “You know, you also seem like you do a lot of thinking too. Always so absent minded.” Harry took offense to that, biting Zayn’s arm before taking off his own shirt. They kissed again. “Of course I’ve thought about it, ever since I saw you in the library. Just like how little girls dream about meeting their princes and getting married to them.” 

“Everything’s a story with you, everything has consequence. I like that.” Harry unzipped Zayn’s pants and yanked them off, crawling over him once they were thrown onto the stairway. They made out for a few minutes, rubbing body against body, Zayn finally getting to grip fistfuls of Harry’s hair and pull. 

“You sure you’re okay? Your broken pelvis from this morning, remember?” Zayn looked around to look at the bottom of Harry’s hips, and there were no traces of bruising left. “That’s a little scary.” 

“You would rather me bedridden?” Harry took off his pants, grabbing Zayn and planting kisses from collarbone to chin. 

“Why dead people?” Zayn asked, making Harry stop. “Why do you study dead people?” 

“That’s what forensic anthropologists do. We study skeletal remains, you can learn a lot from bones. I thought we were past the sexy talk at this point.” 

“What can you learn from bones?” Zayn flipped them off, shimmying out of his underwear and trailing kisses down from Harry’s face, down his chest. He expertly took off Harry’s underwear too, gasping at the sight. “Tell me.” He grabbed Harry’s dick, pumping it a little, licking his lips. 

“This is strange, I must admit.” Harry clenched his stomach when Zayn wrapped his lips around the head, moving his tongue about, moving his whole mouth lower down the shaft. “Fuck, baby.” Harry sat up, running his hand through Zayn’s hair as he worked his cock, his vision going blurry every time Zayn went farther down. Zayn hummed, as if he wanted Harry to keep talking or else he’d stop. “You can tell what sex the person was, you can determine cause of death and whether or not some injuries were before they died or after.” Zayn pulled off with a pop, breathing heavily. 

“That’s sexy.” Zayn pumped Harry’s dick again, kind of slapping it along his tongue and looking right up at Harry, who couldn’t believe what was happening right now. Never in a million years did Harry think he contributed enough to the world to have deserved this moment. Once Zayn was done, he crawled back and kissed Harry on the lips, panting and blinking sleepily, like a fucking Marilyn Monroe portrait. “I think I want to ride you.” 

“I’m not gonna say no to that. I will never say no to that.” Harry quickly rambled, thinking he was going to cum from simply feeling the slick that pooled on his body, Zayn rubbing about on his lower half. 

“Condom,” Zayn breathed out, getting off of Harry to reach over to the nightstand. “You have to wear a condom.” 

“Of course I will.” 

“Can’t get pregnant.” Zayn handed it to Harry to let him do it as he kissed him and bit his bottom lip. The sexy, magnificent creature on top of Harry then reached behind him to open himself up, the other hand pressing down on Harry’s chest for support. His soft, breathy pants and moans were driving Harry crazy, patiently waiting for Zayn to be ready. He had come into this thinking that he was going to have Zayn wrecked and fucked out under him, but of course he was wrong. Zayn had everyone who even looked at his face wrecked and fucked out under him, and Harry was no match for that. 

Zayn bent over Harry’s dick, gripping it and bringing it to his hole. He whined slightly, trying to relax around it and just sit down, but when he couldn’t, Harry brought his hands up to his waist, holding him close, planting kisses on his neck, sitting down until their bodies touched. 

“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” Zayn was quickly getting overwhelmed, breath stuttering, and Harry kissed him again for comfort. 

“You okay?” Harry asked gently, running his hand through Zayn’s hair again. 

“God, you’re really big,” Zayn huffed, tears were literally pooling at the edges of his eyes. When a concerned Harry was about to suggest stopping, Zayn quickly cut him off like he knew, “Just shut up for a second, yeah?” He leaned his head upward for another kiss, Zayn clenching around Harry and driving him mad. 

When Zayn finally got comfortable, he lifted himself up, Harry’s hands scrambling to keep him steady, and he sat back down, ripping a moan from the both of them as he did it over and over again.

“Fuck, darling.” Harry’s grip on Zayn’s hips got stronger. “Fuck, yeah, just like that.” 

“S’good,” Zayn moaned, leaning forward and begging Harry to kiss him. They rocked up just like that, until Zayn’s legs gave out and he collapsed onto Harry’s chest.  

“I got you, baby.” Harry lifted them up and flipped them over, slowly grinding upwards and downwards into Zayn. Both of them were too distracted by each other’s chests, how the tattoos moved when they breathed, Zayn’s red lips, the sweat dripping from the sides of his face. “You’re so beautiful.” The words came out breathy, and Zayn couldn’t help but smile. He was already blushing. 

“Kiss me.” Their noses rubbed together, Zayn’s hands tugging and running through Harry’s hair. Their bodies moved together, the sounds of Zayn’s moans and the hickeys Harry was creating all over his body, they even held hands. It was almost too good, extremely surreal, and when Harry’s pace became frantic and rough, Zayn scratched all over his back and came on his stomach, Harry pulsing into the condom not moments after. He collapsed onto Zayn, breathing harshly into his ear and kissing him again before pulling out of him and beginning to clean up. “Come back.” Zayn softly rubbed at Harry’s arm, feeling absolutely sated. 

“Don’t worry, I’m back.” Harry wrapped his arms around Zayn, kissing him again, maneuvering the blanket to be on top of them. Zayn held onto Harry for dear life, whining softly when Harry kissed him all over, snuggling closer to him. It was a sweet sight, but their forty minutes of bliss was over when they heard the door open. 

“Zaynie, did you leave the door unlocked again?” 

“Shit!” Zayn mouthed, motioning for Harry to ‘shush’ as he grabbed for his pants. Louis was walking further into the loft now, but because he was faced towards the kitchen, he had his back toward the second floor. Zayn threw Harry’s pants. “Lou, I’m changing, so don’t look.” Harry got on his pants as fast as light speed, Zayn merely just threw on his shirt. 

“That’s funny, considering we’ve literally fingered each other before--” Louis turned around, stopping mid sentence as he came face to face with a bottomless Zayn and a topless Harry. “Hm.” 

Harry wanted to die, this would be the second time that Louis’ walked in on them. It was a joke that he could tell no one. 

“Lou?” Zayn asked tentatively as Louis calmly looked back down, pouring himself a glass of orange juice. He didn’t really answer Zayn, just shrugged, drinking from his glass. 

“At least you didn’t use my bed this time.” Louis pointed to his nicely made bed. Zayn winced, looking at Harry, who still wanted to die. 

“Lou--” 

“I was coming in here so that I could rant about how shitty my day was, quarter ending, yay, time to go tan in Madrid, taste the boys in Sweden, see the family on the way back, but no. I got a C on my final exam, the first C of my entire life, because I was so distraught about Liam not texting me back, then I got distraught about me being distraught over such a superfluous thing, and then I had a nervous breakdown in front of my professor. Then you weren’t answering your phone, so I thought ‘it finally happened, someone’s scooped him up and ran off with him,’ but it had only been about an hour since I seen you last so I could only stay calm until 48 hours had passed to file a Missing Persons Report. I walk in,” Louis sipped his juice. “See your shirt on the couch, look back up to see if you took a nap naked or something. But I guess this is adjacent to you sleeping naked.” Zayn put on his pants, running down the stairs. 

“It just...it just happened.” 

“I’m not mad, babe. I’m not. But I’m also not going to guard you when your dad gets on your case as to why you’re coming home smelling like the alpha that you’ve met two days ago. What did we learn about hormones today? Shit lingers, it does.” Louis reached down under the sink, taking out the vodka bottle he was hiding there. “But who listens to Louis anyways? Who takes him seriously anyways?” 

“Lou? Lou-Bear.” 

“I am frightfully upset.” Louis stated, and Zayn nodded, getting closer and closer until they met and hugged. “I think I lost him. I really think I did.” 

Harry finished putting on the rest of his clothes, looking into the nearby vanity to do something about his hair. He quietly went down the stairs, motioning to Zayn that he was going to leave. Zayn nodded, and Harry silently slipped out with his shoes. 

“What makes you think that, baby?” Zayn asked, rubbing Louis’ back and letting him rest his head on his shoulder. 

“He read my texts.” Louis sniffed, he could feel the hiccups coming. 

Zayn winced, holding Louis tighter. “I’m sorry. Did you try calling him?” 

“Like nine times.” 

“I’m sorry.” 

“Don’t be sorry for things that no one should be saying sorry for.” Louis pulled back as Zayn kissed his cheek. “I must’ve done something. It has to be me. I just don’t know how to get his attention.” 

“Don’t fuss. It’s Liam, the most patient, kind, caring Liam. He’ll come around. Whatever you’ve done, he’s always come around.” Zayn brushed at Lou’s hair. 

“I sure hope you’re right.” Louis tried to wear a hopeful look, but it failed. He had a really terrible feeling about this one.


 

It was getting extremely late, after they’d eaten dinner and showered, Zayn changed his sheets and fell asleep almost immediately after. Louis couldn’t sleep, it was one of his weaknesses when he was especially nervous or worried about something. He twiddled his phone in between his hands, hoping and wondering for that text from Liam, the ‘hi, i was about to text back but then my phone died’ text, the one where Louis didn’t do anything wrong and Liam wasn’t pissed. 

When Liam gets angry, he doesn’t yell. He doesn’t get passive aggressive, or argue, or cry, or feel the need to punch and break things. Again, he was the complete opposite of Louis. He simply covers it in a mask, gets very silent and solemn, and will ponder for hours until he isn’t mad anymore. 

Louis’ already accepted that he must’ve done something wrong, something terribly wrong, because it had been over 13 hours since Liam began to ignore him. Louis is aware of the fact that he’s a manipulative, bratty, messy bastard who never deserved Liam in the first place. Their entire friendship to relationship was defined by Louis’ mistakes and how patient Liam was in accepting all of him for who he was. 

So like the manipulative brat he was, Louis typed up a text. 

 

I want you to know that I’ve always loved you. 

-

Louis deleted it. 

 

Li I’m sorry. 

-

He deleted that too, Liam’s heard it before. 

It turns out that during this quarter break I have a marriage meeting 

 

Li I’m sorry. 

 

I love you. 

-

 

He sent it, feeling terrible about lying, but he sent it. He knew that Liam was probably not going to believe his usual antics, but perhaps he was just gullible enough. Louis has made it through to telling Zayn about them. If he and Liam can get past whatever this is, he swore he’ll tell his family. Louis’ heart rushed so quickly, he crawled downstairs to take another swig of his vodka, sitting down and leaning against the kitchen drawers. The more he drank, the more disgusted he was, he felt pathetic and utterly wicked. He began to remember every single time he hurt Liam, wronged him in some way, and he sobbed into his arms and drank some more. 

Then he heard it. He heard it with his entire body, the phone ringing on the couch. He stumbled as he tried to get up, knocking over the vodka bottle and dizzily reached for his phone, nearly hurting himself in the process. It had begun to rain outside, as Spring tended to do, the night feeling dampened, the ground wet, and by morning, the morning dew created waves of grassy scents and yellow flowers would spring up in the verde fields across campus. 

It was Liam, and although Louis thought he’d be relieved, his heart only pounded more. He answered it. “Li?” 

“Lou, no more lying.” Liam whispered softly, and Louis’ nearly lost it again. “I’m outside your building.” 

“You have our key, goddamn it.” Louis tripped again trying to slip on his sandals, audibly stumbling around, he was so drunk he missed the doorknob twice. “Stay right where you are.” 

“Lou--” Louis hung up. He gritted his teeth, thinking if he clenched his jaw harder, his vision would clear, but of course that didn’t happen. He took the elevator, as slow as it was, to the bottom floor, willing his body to walk through the lobby and out the glass doors, where he saw Liam wearing a hoodie outside. He went out and Liam turned around, instinctively trying to block Louis from the rain, and Louis cried when he did so. This was it, wasn’t it? What did he do now? They were all grown up, of course Liam would get sick of him, it was inevitable. Louis just kept fucking up, and here Liam was, still taking off his hoodie so he could put it on Louis, still wiping his tears, and he hated it

“Liam.” Louis’ face was snotty and all the words were coming out slurred, but good riddance, because he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to handle this sober. 

“Lou, are you drunk?” Liam asked, holding his face and Louis turned away. 

“Just get on with it.” He sobbed, wanting to be so angry, but he knew he had no right to be. He wanted to be selfish and hit Liam hard, tell him that he’s dumb and that he’s sorry and that he loves him, but he knew he couldn’t. They were adults, for fucks’ sake. Louis was a doctor, and Liam was on his way to being one. 

Liam bit his lip, his heart already broken. “I got a call from my mum a couple days ago. She told me she was laid off. Your mom said that there was no reason for her to keep her if the kids weren’t around anymore, even though she was a housekeeper too. She got a really good severance, it’ll cover the rent for at least a year, but it made me realize something.” 

Louis couldn’t look at him. 

“That you never even needed a nanny,” Liam’s breath was shaky. “The first time I met you two, that much was clear. You were so smart and even though you got into trouble a lot, really mature and you took good care of Zayn and good care of all your siblings. You two had already scared off the six nannies before my mum. You only really kept her around because then you could...you could keep me around.” Liam let his hands fall from Louis’ sides. “And I realized that my entire life, I’ve...my entire life, everything was because of you. I got into the same private school as you guys because my mum suddenly got a huge raise that allowed her to send me there. I got into this college because your mum wrote me a really nice recommendation letter. I fell in love with you because you didn’t give me any other choice but to.” 

Louis crumpled onto the sidewalk, about to vomit. His face became pale, both of them were soaking wet. They couldn’t even get back into the building because Louis didn’t bring his keys, and it seemed like Liam didn’t bring his either. Liam knelt down onto the floor, instinctively pulling Louis to his chest. 

“I love you, you know I do.” Liam was shaking, and Louis was about to pass out. “You’re the only person I’ve ever loved like this. It was never Zayn and no one not even after you guys left for America. I love you.” 

Louis couldn’t even say it back, because at this point, he’d said it a million times to Liam so casually that now it would be cheap to do so. He just gripped Liam’s arm, so disoriented and drunk he couldn’t do anything else except hold him. He didn’t intend to let go. 

“But we’re adults now, yea?” Liam cried, simply because Louis wasn’t saying anything. Usually Louis would be screaming, trying to argue, or they’d be fucking by now. But Louis was silent, trembling in his arms. “I can’t afford to finish my PhD here. I declared my Masters today, and I’m going back to the U.K once quarter break starts.” Liam kissed his head, Louis’ skin was getting cold. Liam helped him up, rummaging through his back pocket to call Zayn. “Hi Zaynie, sorry for waking you. It’s Li. Can you come down and open the door for Lou? Thanks.” 

Louis was numb. Of course everything was catching up to him. Not just Liam, but now his whole character, his whole life of being a terrible person couldn’t be avoided or ignored now. It didn’t matter how much he told Liam he loved him or how well he took care of Zayn. Everything was falling apart and it was Louis who pulled the strings to get here. 

“Lou, babe. Go back inside. You’re going to catch a cold.” Liam bit his lip, Louis still hasn’t said anything and he was about to leave, most definitely for good. “Lou?” He so badly wanted to touch Louis’ face, but he didn’t dare. Through the glass doors he saw Zayn come down, walking towards them with a worried look on his face. He opened the door, helping Liam take Louis in. But he stopped there, he just left Louis in Zayn’s arms and turned to leave. 

“Li?” Zayn asked, but Liam didn’t turn around. 

In that moment, Louis pushed Zayn away and chased after him. He was freezing, drunk, he couldn’t see very well in the dark, and could barely make out Liam’s figure jogging away down the path. They were close to the graduate school dorms, and so the winding roads surrounding the housing were quiet, not a car in sight, not one cicada chirping. Zayn couldn’t even run after Louis to stop him, because he only had socks on, so as Zayn went back upstairs to get his shoes and umbrella, Louis ran. 

“Liam!” He screamed as hard as he could, but it didn’t come out as loud as he thought it would. He was absolutely hammered, he had almost finished the entire bottle by himself waiting for Liam to call. He tried screaming again, but his head was so dizzy that no sound came out. It didn’t matter, because Liam heard him the first time. He had turned around. 

Louis couldn’t see anything anymore. He bent down to throw up, not realizing he had stopped in the middle of a single car road. He couldn’t move, he was so inebriated to the point of forgetting how to breathe. He tried to vomit, but nothing came up, instead his heart burning and his stomach beginning to cramp horribly. 

He did see the distant headlights in front of him, coming towards him. But he just collapsed onto the floor. Maybe it was because he thought the driver would see him and stop. Maybe it was because he just couldn’t give enough of a shit to muster up the adrenaline to move out of the way. 

He could hear Zayn scream his name. Was Liam gone? He was probably gone, Liam was always such a fast runner. Louis remembered their middle school days when they would play sports competitions and games on the field, and everyone wanted to be on Liam’s team, because Liam was so good at sports and being a team player and he was bright and shiny and beautiful and-- 

“Stop!” Liam waved at the car, it was still a good couple of feet away and was going very slowly, but nevertheless, Louis was still lying in the middle of the street. Liam scooped him up, rushing over to the other side of the sidewalk just as Zayn met up with them, holding up the umbrella as they rushed him back inside. 

“Li, I have something to tell you.” Louis whispered, but it was so silent he himself didn’t even hear it. All three of them were dripping a trail of water on the floor of the lobby, Zayn pressing the elevator button and anxiously waiting. “It’s not a lie, I promise.” Louis continued, Liam catching the end of it but didn’t really think to stop until they got back into the apartment. 

“Shit, he’s freezing.” Zayn peeled off Liam’s soaked hoodie off of Lou’s body, taking the shirt off as well and helping his best friend out of his pants. Liam came back from the restroom with towels and blankets, and together they helped dry Louis off, get him into another set of clothes. 

“I swear I’m not lying,” Louis was beginning to have a panic attack, gripping Liam weakly, unable to catch his breath. “I swear.” 

“Lying about what, love?” Liam asked, holding his boy to his chest and continuously wiping away his tears. 

“Li, our baby. Our baby.” Louis sobbed, the room was starting to get smaller, the walls were closing in and his heart was beating so fast it was about to rip out of his chest. 

Liam looked up at Zayn. “Do you know what he’s talking about?” Zayn shook his head. He looked back down at Louis, trying to calm him down. “Lou, love? What are you talking about?” 

“A couple months ago,” he hiccuped, Zayn tried to get him to drink some water but he refused. He swallowed painfully, “A couple months ago I had woken up the night after a party and was throwing up so bad and my body felt all weird, so I...I took a test.” Louis covered his face, wailing. He pushed Liam away, screaming and crying. “I even went to the doctor and they told me I was like, four weeks along, but then the next day I started bleeding and-and I lost it.”

Liam went pale. Zayn had already been crying. 

“I didn’t tell anyone, I was so ashamed. I’m a fucking whore who killed his own baby by drinking nearly every day and doing all sorts of drugs on the planet--it didn’t matter how strong of an omega I was or how smart I was or how many things I could control. I’m weak. I’m worthless.” Zayn sobbed harder at his words, finally pulling Louis’ hands off his face and pulling him for a hug. Liam was absolutely frozen, he knew this couldn’t be a lie. He knew this couldn’t be a joke, Lou would never go that far. But then it meant that everything he was saying was true, it actually happened. 

“Lou.” Zayn whispered, clenching his arms around Louis’ body fervently, desperately. “Lou Lou Lou. You are not worthless.” Zayn firmly spoke, but his voice was shaky. “You are the strongest person I’ve ever met.” Louis shook his head. “My entire life you were always by yourself, taking care of everything and--and just trying to survive. Always looked up to my Lou. Even my own parents were so proud of anything you did. My Lou.” 

“I’m a terrible person.” Louis even pushed Zayn away, trying to get up and away from them, but Liam grabbed him and forcefully manhandled him onto the couch, holding his body so tight, like Louis was going to disappear if he didn’t. “Li--Li, I’m so sorry. I mean it, I mean it so bad, I’m sorry. I didn’t want it to be like this. It’s all my fault, I’m so sorry, I did all of this, I didn’t tell you, I’m sorry--” 

“Lou, please stop. My love, please,” Liam shushed him, but Louis wouldn’t stop. 

“I didn’t want to think about it, I didn’t want to say anything because I’d knew it’d make things even worse, but of fucking course I went ahead and projected all of it and became...such a fucking monster.” His brain was pounding against his skull. His lungs were giving out on him. “I treated everyone like they were objects, I slept with so many people, I cussed out my mom the last time she called, and it was all because of my innate issues, my superiority complex, my narcissistic tendencies, and I dragged both of you right through it.” He didn’t want to let Liam say anything. “I acted like I was gonna do better, be better about my studies, be better about Zayn--Zayn would’ve never started using if it weren’t for me--, I thought if I told you that I-I loved--I loved you, it’d make it better, but it didn’t. So good riddance that you’re leaving. Get away from me, baby, please--” But he couldn’t say anything either, tears streaming down both their faces. “I’m such a fucking wreck. I fucking messed everything up. So--so just go.” 

“I don’t think I should be leaving.” Liam placed a hand on Louis’ forehead, he was burning up. 

“You have to go back and support your family--” 

“Will you shut up?” Liam asked, his voice raising. Louis closed his mouth and gulped nervously. “Let me speak?” Louis looked broken. Zayn was trying really hard to keep it together. “What did you mess up? Tell me. How self-centered could you be to possibly think that you have had that much impact on the entire world? Hm? I never said you messed me up. Never. Did I ever say that, Lou?” Louis shook his head, feeling like he was going to die. Liam doesn’t yell. He just doesn’t. Every word was slicing into his ears. 

“I just--” 

“I told you to shut up.” Liam whispered, shaking his head. “You didn’t mess me up. I was the one who was always aware of how our relationship, and I never did anything about it, never said anything.” His voice became soft again, he was trying really hard not to cry at Louis’ terrified face. “No one ever taught you how to deal with shit. You’re so smart that you figured it all out for yourself, you made shit work for you. That’s being smart, Louis. That’s surviving.” Liam looked at Louis’ wrists, they were so thin, his neck was so thin, his entire body was so small and all he wanted to do was hold him and never let go. “So yea, you’re a little bit manipulative. You lie sometimes because you don’t know how to handle things that you’ve never been programmed to handle. You drink, you use. Because not having control over something is fucking terrifying for you, just like having too much control for me is the scariest fucking thing in the world. I thought it’d just work out if I just accepted all the things you were doing to cope. I was blind, stupid, and couldn’t protect you. I couldn’t help you. I made you feel even worse just by being so benign and unhelpful. I made you feel even more alone.” 

“That’s not true,” Louis whispered, whimpering when Liam kissed his head again. “It’s just not true. You’re so good to me, you’re so--you’re so good.” 

“You can say that about me, but it doesn’t mean that you’re bad . That doesn’t mean that you’re not trying to better yourself. You are learning, and adapting in so many ways. I’m upset that I let you take all the heat, take all the blame for being the bad guy.” Liam kissed him, pulling back again and running his hands through his hair. “I love you so much.” 

“I love you.” Louis gripped his hand weakly. He looked up, turned around and outstretched his arms. “Zaynie, c’mere.” 

“Lou,” they sobbed together, Zayn kissed his head and all over Louis’ face until they were both calmed down. “Lou, I love you too much to let you antagonize yourself. Don’t make a list of your issues just so you can pull it out and show everyone how long it is when you need to. You cope by letting them out, and a lot of it, sure, it takes loneliness and self awareness. But you can’t push the people who love you out of the way because you fear that you are the poison.” 

“I forget how good you are at people.” Louis was almost bitter, but the laugh that Zayn gave him was worth it. “Isn’t he so good at people-ing?” He asked Liam, who smiled a small smile, but nodded. 

“And I want to be better for you too. I want you to feel safe enough to tell me shit that happens to you.” Zayn started tearing up again. “That should’ve never happened to you.” He knew what Zayn was referring to, but Louis didn’t want to bring it up again. Part of him regretted saying anything at all, but the other part felt free. Some things aren’t meant to be held onto with rope, especially if the rope was giving you burns. 

“I just want to be normal. I want things to be normal.” Louis sighed as Liam rested his chin on his head. “I want to be a bit more stable, a bit less dramatic.” 

“Babe, I’m afraid you’ll always been excessively dramatic.” Zayn joked, and Louis lovingly slapped his arm at the statement. “I’ll give you two a second, I’ll run out and grab some cold medicine. I have a feeling you’ll need it.” Once Zayn collected his wallet, keys, slipped on his shoes and left, Louis turned to Liam. 

           “Baby, let’s not change the subject just yet.” Liam gently whispered, like Liam does, but Louis flinched. 

            “Don’t call me baby.” Louis winced, closing his eyes pressing his face into Liam’s chest. 

            “ Baby , it wasn’t your fault.” 

Louis tried pulling away, but Liam didn’t let go. “It wasn’t your fault, my love. It wasn’t—“ 

            “B-but it was. It was. If I wasn’t such a fucking mess, I—“ 

            “You didn’t know,” Liam held his face in his hands. “I’m sorry you had to go through it alone.” 

            “Li, our baby,” Louis whimpered again, trying to cover his face but Liam wouldn’t let up. Held him just like that, the broken little thing he was, like a piece of glass. “It hurt so much .” 

            “I love you, Louis.” Liam kissed Louis’ tears away. “Don’t ever hide again, my love.” 

 Louis didn’t have much choice other than nod, and Liam began rubbing the base of his neck. “Can you turn your neck this way, Lou?” 

            Louis bit his lip and nodded, leaning his head to the side and grabbing onto Liam as he bit down. His body immediately convulsed, it was painful and rough, but after a few seconds Louis’ body relaxed and went limp in Liam’s arms, his heart and breath slowing down. They stayed silent and sweet for a while, cuddling while Liam continually kissed his head and whispered how much he much he loved him. Then Louis got a little sick of it. 

            “You know, just a couple of hours ago I walked in on him and Harry fucking.”

Liam raised a brow. “Really, during the day? Zayn? Our Zayn?” When Louis nodded, Liam made his ‘contemplation’ face. “Hm. That seems about right.” 

“And what’s that supposed to mean?” 

“I know that you don’t believe in ‘fated pairs’ and those kinds of stories, but when I see those two together, I get a very strong feeling that they were always meant to meet. Both their faces light up when they see each other, they even smell different now. It’s a good feeling.” Liam kept on kissing Louis’ head. 

“Do you think we’re fated?” Louis asked, and Liam laughed. 

“Oh, fuck no.” 

Louis’ jaw dropped. “Should I be offended?” 

“I mean, in the sense that I think we’re a happy accident. Perhaps we were never meant to meet, but it ended up better that we did.” 

“Will you still go to the U.K?” Louis asked, and Liam nodded. “And I’ll stay here?” 

Liam shrugged, sighing deeply and giving Louis another kiss. “I’ve never owned you. You do as you please.” 

“Well, I’m going back with Zayn in a week. To see my mum, Zayn’s mum, all the kids. Let’s go together.” Louis didn’t want to sound like he was pleading, but in that moment, he was. Liam didn’t answer for a moment, because he wasn’t impulsive. He thought about everything before he said it. But then he nodded, and Louis could finally breathe again. 

“I think that’d be good. In the meantime, let’s distract ourselves. Let’s start thinking about how we’re going to make up an excuse as to why Zayn smells like another person. And how we’re going to tell both of our families that we’re together.” 

            Louis breathed out, nodding his head at Liam’s statements. He was ready, he’s been ready. 

“I wonder what’s taking him so long.” Louis let Liam hold up the glass of water to his mouth, but he missed his mouth and water spilled all over his lap. “By the way, I’m still very, very drunk.” 

“No shit, Sherlock.” 


 

It was around 3 AM at that point, the rain took a break, so Zayn padded along the sideways paths of the housing area, he was just planning to stop by any 24 hour store, get what he needed, then pop right back out. 

He tried to walk where the lights where, all the colors of the college town glistening in his peripheral vision. Most of the stores were closed, so when there was a 24 hour store, it stuck out like a sore thumb, and if there were people loitering around it, they stuck out even more. Zayn spotted his target--the ratty old 7-Eleven that he’s never been to in his life. There was a figure standing outside of it, and as he got closer, he realized that it was Harry. 

“Are you stalking me, or am I stalking you?” Zayn asked, and the figure turned around. He was right, it was Harry, smoking a cigarette outside of the most random location in all of random locations. “I couldn’t tell that you smoked.”

“Neither. I apparently have a stalker. When I got home, my doorman showed me footage of a guy walking into our building last night and breaking into my apartment. Then I had to go to the police station, explain the Chadwick-Hearst theory like I would for a bunch of kindergarteners. They still didn’t believe that I was attacked, so I had to go back to the hospital, obtain the x-rays from this morning, chase down that attending doctor so that I could get her professional opinion on what she thought happened. She thinks that because I already have a speedy healing time, whoever tried to maim me probably didn’t find much luck in doing so, because I’d just keep on healing. That’s why the fractures weren’t all that deep by the time I woke up and went to the hospital. She suspects I was probably drugged, which is why I didn’t wake up during it. But then after learning that, I had to go back to the police station and they ended up arresting this random dude that I rejected a couple days ago. Anthony. Total psychopath. Kept going on and on about how bitter he was that no one wanted to date him, and that they were never going to find his acid lab. He’s probably been the one selling the laced shit. But yeah, my building promised strengthened overnight security, Niall is furious at them for letting this happen. I was confused as to why he would target my pelvis, why not go for the face? But then I realized. He really tried to beat my dick to death, isn’t that funny? Beat me to death with a blunt object starting from the nether regions up. Funny. So funny. So yeah, I don’t smoke, just really needed one today,” Harry exhaled with his neck up, the smoke looking white against the black sky. “I’m surprised that you’re awake.” 

“Needed some Kids’ Nyquil. Sorry about Ant. I think he’s got some kind of mental illness. He’s asked for my number four times this month, as if he didn’t remember he’d already done so. I hope he gets to a mental hospital or some sorts.” Zayn shrugged, moving closer to boldly take the cigarette out of his hand and taking a puff. He breathed in sharply, trying really hard not to cough. He needed to seem cool in front of the cool grunge type. 

“Shit gets crazy in this corner of the world, I guess.” Harry smiled, and they stood together in silence, without any awkwardness, just accepting and adapting to one another’s presence. “What are you doing for quarter break?” He asked Zayn, who still hadn’t walked into the store to get what he came for. “I’m visiting family.” 

“I’m visiting family too. In London. Big ol’ joyous event, when the American boarding school boys come home.” Zayn tried to steal Harry’s cigarette again, but Harry moved it away, smirking while tutting his head. 

The taller of the two took another hit, speaking while the smoke escaped his mouth, “Don’t you think it funny that we’re all English? Big ol’ coincidence?” He entertained Zayn, wanting to hear what he had to say about the question. 

“We go to the most pretentious college in this entire city and studying the most pretentious majors. Of course we’re all English.” Zayn said, and Harry barked a laugh. 

“You’re absolutely right. Why Kids’ Nyquil? Are you quitting alcohol?” Harry asked Zayn shook his head no. 

“It’s for Louis. After today, I have a pretty strong feeling that he’ll be quitting.” Zayn sighed, and Harry nodded in what seemed to be inarticulate understanding. When he didn’t say anything or ask another question, Zayn thought it best to start heading into the store. He heard Harry throw the butt onto the ground and stamp it out. 

“Will we meet in London, darling?” Harry asked, and the term of endearment made Zayn’s heart jump a few beats. 

“Is that a promise?” Zayn spun around, eyebrow raised. 

“I can make it a promise.” Harry left it at that, watching Zayn head inside before walking away into the night. 




Chapter Text

When Harry got home, Niall was on the couch waiting for him, along with two police officers and another person who looked like a person that would claim themselves a specialist. Being extremely aggravated and exhausted, Harry rolled his eyes at them and went straight for his room. But Niall blocked him, wiggling his eyebrows and making head motions at the cops seated on their L-Seat. 

“I’m tired. I’m over it.” Harry sighed gruffly, rolling his eyes again when the two police officers looked surprised at his sentiment. “I’m not even hurt, see?” He was planning to flash everyone to get them to leave, but Niall physically stopped him again. 

“We-we just, we’re surprised you don’t want to press charges. What he did can be considered an entire plethora of charges, you could sue, we can go to court--are you sure?” The female police officer asked him, the male one agreeing with her statements. 

“Our home was broken into, I was drugged, I was physically assaulted, I woke up, went to the hospital, and came out unscathed. I don’t want to press charges, that’s just superfluous at this point, since you already got the guy in custody.” Harry ran his hand through his hair, deciding to head into the kitchen to get a glass of water. “What I want is--hey, you a psychiatrist?” He pointed right at the other guy who wasn’t in a police uniform. The ‘specialist’ nodded, and Harry could almost laugh at how predictable everything was. “I want you to do a thorough psych eval on him and send him to some kind of rehab program. But no suing, there’s no reason for me to try and squeeze unnecessary money out of a family who probably didn’t even know their kid was sick in the head. And no grand jury, because that would mean I’d miss the original date for my family trip, which would raise numerous suspicions from my neurotic mother. Just get him some help. Get out of my house.” He finished his glass, slamming it back down on the kitchen island and breathing deeply. 

“You smell like cigarettes.” Niall tutted, and the three people on the couch stood up, brushing out their clothes and trying to wipe the surprise off their faces. “I put four more locks on the door.” 

“I noticed.” Harry sighed, waiting for everyone to clear out before he opened his mouth again. “Niall, I think I have something to confess.”

“What is it? You secretly did something so horrible to Anthony that would warrant his motivation to do such a thing like this?” Niall tried to joke, and Harry shook his head while laughing. 

“Nah, he’s just fucking psycho,” Harry poured himself another glass of water. “You were right when you kept on implying that I haven’t been okay since, since--well yeah, you know when.” Niall pulled up a barstool, sitting down and facing Harry like the good, kind, protective, lovable little shit he was. 

“You should indulge me as to what’s going on in your mind.” 

Should I really though? Harry scoffed in his head, but for a good moment he was tempted to let everything spill out. But he knew that Niall would probably have it end up that Harry gets the psych eval. He then realized that perhaps he could let it all spill out, but introduce it and present everything in a different way. “Do you believe in metaphysical consequence; fate, shit like that? Where sometimes you feel like the whole universe has this huge, ineffable plan for you, and you have no idea how it will start, end, and who could even be behind it?” He asked, and Niall shrugged. 

“Maybe I will after you tell me more.” 

Niall was so lovable. “You’re all questioning this fifth dimension shit, you start talking to God like you actually believe in one, because sometimes shit gets so crazy to that point? Like, like--what if this whole situation with Anthony and Louis and Liam and Zayn was all meant to happen? Like it was all some kind of fucked up metaphor?” 

Niall was looking more and more confused the further that Harry rambled on, but there was no way he could stop now. “Like have you ever wondered if this isn’t your first life? Like perhaps anything weird that happens to you right now all meant something to the past life?” 

Niall sharply inhaled, “Tell me the truth. Tell me how many edibles you’ve consumed.” 

“Trust, I’m entirely sober. This is just me all up in my head, just let me babble on, yeah?” Harry asked, he had been tensing his jaw the entire day to the point where his teeth and temples were aching. “What if I died in my past life being crushed to death? And so now, this shit is all some kind of fucked up homage to my death in my past life?” 

“That’s...oddly specific.” 

“I know, but have you ever thought about this whole ‘fated pairs’ thing? Like sure, you can explain the compatibility between two people with all the science in the world, but then take away all the science, and you’re left with the question as to why these hormones and scents and changes are so strong in the first place, to the point where you’re coincidentally attracted to just one person? What if all this compatibility shit is just...two people meeting again?” 

“Are you trying to say that you think that you...were crushed to death...and you’ve met Zayn before…?” Niall was completely unconvinced, but sometimes, it was healthier to entertain each other’s quirks and antics. 

“...Maybe? I dunno man, this shit is all so fucking freaky.” Harry didn’t realize that through that entire monologue he had said it all within just two or three breaths. So he hogged all the air in the moment of silence when Niall just stared at Harry like he was completely insane. 

“Maybe we should sleep in the same bed tonight. Like how we used to do when we were kids, when you’d come over to my house during a thunderstorm because I was scared of the sounds. Make some hot chocolate...build a fort.” Niall stood up, walking around to pat Harry’s back. “Take a shower, I’m going to quickly fasten a lock on the inside of your bedroom door too.” 

“Ni, you know I love you right?” 

“Yeah yeah, just shut up before you scare me more. You stink. I hate cigarettes. Shower. Now.” 

It wasn’t as if Harry was about to refuse. 


 

When Zayn got to his building, about to turn the key to the front door, he suddenly got a call. He stopped, leaving the key in the keyhole as he bent to pick up the phone. “Lou? You okay?” 

“Zaynie, are you almost home? Li-Liam left.” Louis’ voice was so small and meek, quavering at every word. 

“Yeah, Lou, I’m just downstairs. I’ll be right up.” Zayn hung up, unlocking the glass door and running up the stairs to his floor. He unlocked their apartment, pulling down his hood and immediately bending in half to unlace his shoes. “Lou, I got you some medicine.” 

“Li-Liam left.” Louis repeated, he was still curled up on the couch, and as Zayn approached, he saw a human sized wet mark that encompassed an entire seat. “He was really wet, so I sent him home.” 

“Yeah, makes sense.” Zayn sat down on Louis’ other side, pulling his friend in for a tender embrace. “I think the bed would be more comfortable, no?” 

“I don’t think I can get up the stairs,” Louis whispered, kissing Zayn’s chin from the angle he was currently at. “Zaynie, I don’t feel well.” 

“That’s understandable. I think you were more drunk and vulnerable tonight than all the times you were drunk and vulnerable combined. This is coming from the unique experience of someone who has witnessed all of those times.” They pet each other’s hair, being soft and cute. 

Zayn looked down. “Lou, you know you can always come to me, right? Like, I don’t want you to think that our relationship is exclusive to you just taking care of me.” 

“I know, I just...I just couldn’t…” 

“I know, bubba.” Zayn kissed his nose. A beat of quiet. “Can I confess something too?” 

“Yeah.” Louis whispered, their faces were so close to each other. 

“Sometimes, I feel really numb. So I’ll act out, do and say horrible things because I can’t feel guilty. Get high and drunk all the time because I know I can get away with it. Make people fall in love with me and dump them type of thing. I don’t feel good about myself a lot, there are a lot of parts of me that I’m not proud of.” Zayn reached over to unscrew the childproof cap of the Nyquil, reading the directions on the back. He poured the strangely colored liquid into the little clear cup the medicine came with, handing it to Louis. 

Louis downed it and replied, “Sometimes I forget how similar we are. But when I do remember that we’re basically the same person, I start blaming myself for making you like me . Then I think, ‘That’s narcissistic,’ and I stop thinking about anything at all. Because why should I care? I’m pretty, rich, fertile. Your life and my life don’t mean shit in the grand scheme of the whole universe.” 

“Since when did you start comparing everything to the grand scheme of the universe, Lou? That’s not right, because there is nothing on this Earth that can be comparable to the grand scheme of the universe. That’s why we have frames of reference, because of course we’d be negligible to the big picture of it all. We compare ourselves to the things that we can be compared to. If everyone suddenly started having existential crises about the miniscule nature of humanity, everyone would stop having a reason to fight for anything.” Zayn knew that Louis was understanding every word. It was one of the benefits of having similar IQs. 

“I just feel like I’m so silly sometimes for thinking I’m important.” 

“Of course you’re unimportant to a satellite looking at the Earth from space. But you’re Liam’s entire world, does that make him silly? Does that give you privilege to just quit?” 

Louis couldn’t answer, but after a moment, he could. After all, it was a rhetorical question. “No, it doesn’t.” 

“Thinking that you had such gravity in the nature of the lives of everyone around you, that’s what’s silly. You did not fuck anyone up. You couldn’t have. We’re all too smart for that, babe.” Zayn wiped Louis’ tear off his cheek with his thumb. “Stop focusing on all the mistakes you think you’ve caused. Start only looking forward.” 

“I love you so much,” Louis sobbed, sobbing harder when Zayn said it back. “I love you more than you love me, I swear.” 

They hugged tighter, two small boys on a small couch, a tiny speck of dust on a small Earth, tucked inside a big, big universe. “We can sleep down here tonight, we can lay down blankets and watch t.v.” Zayn pulled away, wiping his own eyes and feeling emotionally drained. “By the way, you’re never drinking again. It’s not even legal yet for you to drink, so just think of it as you abiding the law.” Zayn sniffed, trying to be firm. “Not even kombucha. You drink sparkling water and juice.” 

“I won’t ever drink again, I swear.” They pinky swore on it. The sealing of that promise, now that was comparable to the grand scheme of the universe. 


 

They actually did end up building a fort. Niall insisted, and when has Harry ever been able to refuse Niall? Never. Both lives. Never. Now they were inside their creation, Niall softly breathing next to him, and Harry just couldn’t sleep. He just kept on staring at their blanket ceiling, hands resting on his ribs, wiggling his toes. He felt so unsettled, anxious, and afraid at the same time. He couldn’t articulate any of what he was feeling and thinking, and so there he was, blankly staring up into the void, clenching his jaw. After a good thirty minutes once Niall was in deep sleep, Harry rolled over to check his phone, squinting at the brightness, focusing his energies into finding out the time. It was nearly five in the morning. Harry had been awake for almost 24 hours at this point, but he wasn’t sleepy in the slightest. He crawled out of the fort like a ninja, with his phone in between his teeth, flopping over onto the living room floor once he was out of the pillow and blanket fort. He did a couple of stretches, did some bullshit mindfulness activities, tried meditating, but his eyes kept on gravitating towards his phone. What was the harm in trying to call someone? Of course they wouldn’t answer, so it’s all fine. It’d be all good no matter what. Harmless. He bit the inside of his cheek thinking about it, wondering who to call and what to say on the slight possibility that they’ll pick up. Apparently, the universe thought he was thinking too long, because at some point, his phone began wildly vibrating and making considerable noise against the wooden floor, Harry panicking and scrambling to pick it up. 

“Hello?” He whisper shouted, tiptoeing into his room and quietly shutting the door. 

“You-you picked up?” A familiar voice whisper shouted back at him, and he couldn’t contain his smile at that point. “Oh gosh, I didn’t actually expect you to pick up, was this a mistake? Should I hang up? Did I wake you?” 

“No, no you didn’t,” Harry said through his smile, sitting on his bed and noticing that Niall actually did install a lock on his bedroom door. “Actually, I was just about to do the same thing, but you beat me to it.” 

Zayn sighed in relief, it seemed like he was also in a secluded area as well. “To be completely transparent, I was staring at my phone for half an hour wondering if I should actually do it or not. I’m a pained insomniac, I am.” 

Harry laughed, “Don’t worry. I did the same thing. I couldn’t fall asleep.” 

“Can we have a nice conversation until we do?”

“Of course, darling.” Harry said it because he knew it’d make Zayn blush. 

“You should tell me the truth. You couldn’t sleep because you were a teeny, tiny bit scared, right?” Zayn asked in a small voice, the sounds of his breaths made Harry’s heart soar. Just the inclination that Zayn was alive and well made Harry’s heart soar. 

“I do admit that I was a ‘teeny, tiny bit’ anxious. I told the police that I didn’t want to press charges, just wanted the poor guy to get some help.” Harry audibly sighed as he fell back onto his bed. “They were all really surprised.” 

“That’s very admirable of you,” Zayn complimented Harry, who was biting the inside of his cheek again in satisfaction. “To be quite honest, I think we’ve done the wrong thing between us.” 

Harry frowned, unable to discern where this was going. “Pardon?” 

“I asked you out to dinner, and you fucked me first. Really not very gentlemanly of you. Now I’m all smelly, because you’ve rubbed your hormones all over me--I have to see my baba in just a few days. I know very little about you, and the same for you regarding me.” 

“Perhaps we can learn all about each other right now, and then I’ll pick you up for a double espresso. Niall’s an early bird, so I reckon we have about two hours.” Harry heard Zayn giggle on the other end, his chest was getting warm. 

“What an insufferable flirt you are,” Zayn flirted, and Harry could imagine him batting his eyelashes. “Should we do this old school? You ask a question, then I ask one?” 

“Shoot.” Harry encouraged, and Zayn exhaled deeply. 

“Hm. Favorite color?” 

“I quite like yellow, very sunny,” Harry heard Zayn giggle again. He had just the question to ask Zayn. “What’s your favorite book?” He heard him fake gasp, like he was so appalled that Harry would ever ask such a thing. 

“I’m the flippin’ proud recipient of an English Literature PhD, mind you. No favorite book.” 

“Jesus, some kind of prodigy, hm? Why are you still in school?” 

“Because I have the money to waste time, I don’t expect to have any kind of impressionable career. My family expects a great deal, which displaces me from having the opportunity to dream.” Zayn said, making Harry frown again. “By the way, that counts as your turn, right?” 

“Sure. Go ahead.” Harry fluffed his pillow, relishing the way his phone was heating up against his cheek. 

There was a short pause, then Zayn asked, “Do you believe in fate?” 

 

“Do you believe in fate, Zayn?” 

“No, sir, I do not.” 

“---I don’t think this is fate right now. Perhaps I’m not ready to see what the world is like. It doesn’t feel like fate.” 

“---It doesn’t feel like fate.” 

“---Keep me safe?” 

“Get out of here--”

“The rest of the building will fall.” 

 

“Harry? You still there? You didn’t fall asleep on me, did you?” 

Harry sharply inhaled, pulling the phone away and covering his mouth with his hand to stifle a cry. Squeezing his eyes shut, he tried to regain control of his breath, letting go of his phone so he could cover his mouth with both hands. It was so much all at once this time, and he was met with the realization that he practically had no control over his life. Why was this happening? What was he supposed to learn? Do? 

“Hi,” Harry finally came back to the phone, obviously breathless and sounding a tad distressed. 

“Is everything alright?” Zayn worriedly asked, perhaps thinking that he’s mucked everything up. 

“Yes, yes, I just had to make sure Niall was still sleeping. He’d flip out if he realized I wasn’t next to him.” Harry lied, closing his eyes. “To answer your question, yes, I do believe in fate. What’s your favorite flower?” 

“F-flower? Hm, I’ve never really thought about that before. But it does feel like I’ve always seen roses my entire life, so maybe it’s roses. How about you?” 

Harry bit his lip, feeling the tears pool at the corners of his eyes again. “Dandelions. I...love dandelions.” 

“You know, you’re so right!” Zayn chirped, and the tears escaped down the sides of Harry’s face. “Dandelions are so versatile, they’re bright to look at, you can make wine of them, salad, finger rings.” 

“I used to know someone who was excellent at making finger rings,” Harry interjected, and now his heart was pounding against his ribs like a gong. 

“Maybe dandelions are my favorite too. Would that be okay?” 

“God, of course,” Harry sniffed, wiping at his face. “We can start a club.” 

Zayn giggled again. “That would be adorable,” another beat of silence. “Listen, to be honest with you, I’m quite nervous about this whole ordeal. I feel really, really quite displaced almost, and maybe I downplayed just how bad it is for me to go back to my family like this.” 

“I understand your concern. My immediate family lives here in the States, but for every single break we’ve always reconvened at my nan’s, where the entire extended family gets together to update on serious pack business. They’ll notice if I smell off too.” 

“But at the same time, I don’t want to accidentally sully what can be between us by riding on the copious amounts of hope I have that this works out.” Zayn whispered, and Harry nodded through the phone as if the former could see. 

“I did mean what I said earlier. That when I’m with you, it feels like we’ve known each other for years.” 

“You didn’t just say that to get me in bed?” 

“Darling, if I recall, you were the one trying to undress me in public before I could say anything.” Harry tried to laugh quietly, and from the sound of it, Zayn agreed with him. “Darling, I know it’s fast to say anything like this, but I’ll take care of you. We can lie to both our families, say that we’ve been together for a while and that’s why we smell different. We can still...explore the possibility of us being together afterwards.” When Zayn didn’t respond, Harry bit his lip in anxiety. Is he going to say no? 

But the answer was well worth the patience. “That’s a solid plan. We’re adults anyways, even if they don’t approve they can’t fight with our imminent compatibility.” Zayn sounded determined, and Harry pulled his phone back to check the time. 

“It’s 6:15, darling. Aren’t you sleepy?” Harry asked in a smooth way, trying to sound dreamy and desirable. He would die if Zayn didn’t think he wasn’t either of those things. To be that dramatic, yes, he’d die .

“I’m not.” There was a rustle over the phone. “Meet me in front of my house in fifteen minutes. I know a cafe that’ll be open.” He abruptly hung up, giving Harry no choice. He blinked for a second, still lying on his back and staring at the ceiling. Then he shot up in a panic, running towards the mirror to check his hair, hastily stripping of his clothes and running to the bathroom to wash his face. He got dressed at the speed of light, sifted through his colognes, messed with hair a million times. Once he was done, he tiptoed back out of his room to the fort in the living room, crawling back in on all fours. 

“Ni,” Harry whispered, gently poking the side of his face. “I’m gonna go out for some coffee, d’you want anything?” 

Niall groaned, still very much asleep, turning over onto his side. But it seemed like he did hear, because he began to release a slew of words. “...Croissant, ‘Am ‘n Cheese...booberry muff…” 

“I’ll just bring you one of everything.” Harry patted, retreating backwards. “Don’t freak that I’m not here.” 

He quietly tucked his phone in his back pocket, keys in his jacket, on with his shoes. He unlocked the four extra locks that Niall installed the night before, slipping out into the world. 


 

Zayn was panicking in the restroom, desperately holding the cold spoons over his eyes and checking every three seconds to see if his under eye bags had magically disappeared, but to no avail. He ran around the drawers in a panic, trying to see if Louis had any concealer but then changed his direction once he remembered that Louis was about four shades lighter than him. So he just groaned, got dressed, fixed his hair, and walked back over to the sleeping Louis on the couch. He kissed his forehead, 

“I’ll be right back with coffee, babe.” 

Louis shifted, squinting his eyes and looking up at Zayn with them half open. “Zayn?” 

“Go back to sleep, I’ll be back before you know it.” Zayn kissed his forehead again, tucking him further with the blankets before heading out the door. When he got down the stairs to the lobby, an overwhelming urge to turn back rushed through his body, like something was telling him he was much too eager for this. Plus, Harry wasn’t even here yet and he didn’t want to seem desperate. So he silently slipped back up the stairs and decided to pace back and forth on the third floor. It was about fifteen minutes before Zayn’s phone buzzed, and he nearly dropped it in his hurry to answer. “H-hello?” 

“Hi, darling. I’m downstairs, I hope I’m at the right place,” Harry chuckled, his voice gruff and tired sounding. “I think I might need a triple shot at this rate.” 

“I’m coming, I’m coming.” Zayn smiled as he said it, hanging up and practically skipping down the stairs. He saw Harry’s distinct figure through the glass doors, shoulders broad and legs earth-shakingly long. As he went through the doors, the figure turned around and smiled at Zayn, his teeth earth-shakingly bright. “This really isn’t fair,” Zayn shook his head. “You look like you got eighteen hours of sleep while I was resurrected from the dead just a couple minutes ago.” 

“It just occurred to me that you’ve no idea how beautiful you are, even at your worst.” Harry tutted as they began to walk down the road. It was super early in the morning, and so the colors of the day were encapsulated with a brilliant jeans blue, the sky darkly lit and the pavement underneath them reflecting it. The grass looked darker, the trees looked black. It had rained the night before, so the stark scent of petrichor added to how damp everything still was. 

Zayn couldn’t help but stare up at Harry every few seconds, because he was astounded every time he turned to do so. His skin, the structure of his face, the perfect green eyes. It was immeasurably unfair. 

Harry tried not to notice every time Zayn would look up at him, but when he turned away, he stole looks downwards to focus in on Zayn’s face. It was exactly the same as he had remembered it, the side profile with the long lashes sticking out, lips berry pink, hair dark and fluffy. The only difference was that this Zayn had a certain air to him, like everything he was on the inside was the opposite of the Zayn in the past. Harry looked away before he could be caught, smiling to himself, for Zayn’s smile was still the same. The tone of his laughter was still the same. 

They continued to do this in complete silence, sneak glances at each other back and forth without even thinking of anything to say. Just completely astounded in a new way every time they looked at one another, becoming more smitten as the seconds passed. 

“It’s uh, just around the corner. I know the owner, she’s super nice.” Zayn broke the quiet, finding the courage to make eye contact with Harry. As they walked closer and closer to their destination, a sinking feeling in Harry’s chest got deeper and deeper. Zayn pointed again at the cafe, and Harry stopped in his tracks. 

“Um, this is really awkward, but that’s my sister’s bakery.” Harry admitted, cheeks turning pink. “We can still go in, it’s fine, I was just a bit surprised.” 

“This is a tiny world,” Zayn responded, now feeling weird about Harry opening the door for him. The bell chimed, and the beautifully decorated space of the shop echoed the tune. A head popped up from behind the glass cabinet of freshly made pastries. “Hello, Miss?” 

“Zayn? Harry ?” Gemma looked confused, still holding her tongs and a baking sheet. “It’s not even 7 yet, what are you two...doing here? I thought classes were on break? Wait, you guys know each other?” She put down her items, brushing her hands off on her apron and walking around the display cabinets. 

“Yeah, uh, we met a few days ago,” Harry sheepishly rubbed the back of his neck, having a crisis at the sight of his older sister hugging the love of his life like they’ve known each other for millennia. “I didn’t realize that Zayn got his coffee here.” 

“He’s the only one who buys it, I burn it every time.” Gemma laughed, ruffling Zayn’s head. She turned to Harry with a completely different expression. “I have a bone to pick with you. Would you excuse us for a second?” She smiled sweetly at Zayn, running back to grab him a mug of morning joe and a cheese danish. With the same manufactured smile did she yank Harry’s arm with such force that he nearly tripped and fell over, the two of them disappearing into the back room. “I think you’ve got a lot of explaining to do, calling me out of nowhere to say that you’re footing me the bill of over a $100,000 dollars and then hanging up without a word.” She crossed her arms. “So out with it? You picked a fight? Got hurt? Drug money? Tell me right now.” 

“I was...well…” 

“Well?” Gemma was a lot shorter than him, but four times more intimidating despite it. 

“I--okay fine. Our apartment was broken into the other day and a person that I rejected decided to try and break my entire...nether...region--I know it sounds like I’m lying--” 

“Because you are.” 

“I swear to God, I was at the hospital and everything. There were x-rays taken, the guy is in police custody right now as they figure out what to do with him. I had like, 10 fractures all along my hips--” 

“Then how are you walking? It wouldn’t matter that you’re strong, an injury like that would still knock you back a week. I should know, because you broke your leg when you were little and I witnessed your inhuman healing speed.” Gemma squinted at Harry. 

“Zayn?” Harry said it like it was a question, but then rephrased. “It’s like, some weird biology shit about how compatible couples that are super high on the 1-100 scale that when they’re near each other, unexplainable shit can happen. I was in the hospital bed, that same day Zayn came to visit me and touched my hand and I healed over.” Harry said plainly, Gemma’s expression looking more and more unconvinced. But she finally let up, uncrossing her arms. 

“I guess that could make sense. You do smell so fucking weird, dude.” She laughed in a sarcastic manner, “Mom’s gonna love that.” 

“That’s why I couldn’t say anything, she’d go fucking nuts.” Harry explained, trying to look pitiful and widening his puppy dog eyes. “I swore I’d pay you back, didn’t I? I knew you had that other secret account that mom doesn’t know about, so you were my safest bet. Please, Gem? Don’t tell her?” 

Gem sighed, slapping her little brother on the arm. “I won’t, since you’re not hurt or anything. Plus, if I told her, you’d have to repeat all this nonsensical bullshit to her and both of us would be in deep shit.” 

“Thank you, I love youuuuuuuu--” Harry cooed, comically puckering his lips. “You’re the best big sister in the entire entire world--” 

“I’m not covering for why you smell weird. You have two days. Figure it out.” Gem said as she pushed open the door for the backroom, letting them out and back into the cafe space. Zayn looked up at them, glad to see that Harry was back. She yanked Harry down to her ear quickly, “I have no idea what the fuck’s happening with that, but you better not pull any of your usual fuckshit with this one.” She said through her smile, acting like her threats were choral hymns. Harry shuddered, nodding and straightening up again. 

“Y’all good?” Zayn asked, sounding a little nervous. Gemma nodded her head, shoving her brother forward. 

“Peachy. It’s on the house, if you two want to take anything home.” Gemma gestured behind her. “I think Niall will be pissed if you come back empty handed, yeah?” 

Harry nodded, taking Zayn’s cup of coffee out of his hands and downing the rest of it, as if it was natural to do so, like they were intimate enough to share cups and coffee and bodies. Harry gagged. “Jesus, Gem. That’s fuckin’ shit. What did you do, add a bottle of gin and set fire to it?” 

“Hey,” Gemma was busy packing Niall’s favorites into a pastry bag. “I’m a patissiere, not a barista.” She smiled again at Zayn, who was quiet throughout all of this exchange, graciously accepting the amount of expensive looking foods she handed to him. 

“Thanks, sis.” Harry winked as they walked out the door, feeling satisfied when she responded with an exaggerated eye roll. He went right back to Zayn. “Sorry about that, I tend to avoid her, so she gets worked up every time she catches me.” 

Zayn relaxed, the same bright smile illuminating the world. “How come you avoid her?” 

“Well, I just...my family dynamic is a bit odd, if you will. It just feels unnatural to act like we’re a super tight knit family. Our mum makes all the money, dad did most of the raising. They’re also an alpha/omega couple, if you can guess which is which.” 

“Mum’s the alpha?” 

“Nope, dad is. It just ended up that way, and I think somewhere along the line to her incredible success, she was met with such backlash and we just--we just slowly became emotionally distant. I was always the mama’s boy, even though me and Gem were technically closer to my dad. My mum...she tends to get worked up about me. I pull a lot of stupid shit.” Harry explained, Zayn listening intently and nodding his head. 

“It’s like that in my family too. I have a lot of sisters, and they’re all Alphas, so most of my mum’s attention went towards how to utilize them. My baba and I were always closer, I’m his meri jaan.” Zayn scrunched his nose up, feeling embarrassed. “I pull a lot of stupid shit too, much to my father’s grief. They could finally breathe when both of our parents made the unanimous decision to ship me and Louis to a boarding school.” 

“I don’t believe for a second that you caused that much trouble.” Harry bumped his elbow with Zayn’s, and the contact made the latter swoon. 

Zayn raised an eyebrow. “You really want to get into that? Louis and I once created an entire satirical play about the dictatorship of the school head. We caused a literal revolution. We are Karl Marx. Liam was terrified the entire time.” He felt inspired to say more after seeing Harry’s shocked reaction. “Another time, when we were really small, our parents had dragged us to a charity auction. In a fit of rage we went up onto the stage and presented a speech about the classist nature of the whole event, made a whole metaphor about how all the rich folks there symbolized a peacock spreading its wings to remind the chicken of how poor and stupid it was. We were carried off stage, of course, but I swear I saw a couple of tears being shed. It was a beautiful speech.” 

“And you were how old?” Harry breathed out, sliding closer to Zayn and brushing arms with him again. The sun was beginning to rise. 

“We were 10. Our asses were beat when we got back home, but it was so worth it. I had just finished reading the Communist Manifesto and told Louis all about it.” Zayn smiled at the memory, and Harry could tell that Louis was a gigantic part of Zayn’s life. “But enough about me? What about you? I heard you were pretty smart too.” 

“I’m boring, unfortunately.” Harry pouted, but Zayn shook his head, biting his lip as he playfully pushed at Harry. 

“C’mon, we both know that’s not true.” 

“Well, I grew up pretty normal, despite everything I said about my mum. I was the rich, British brat at school, so Niall and I stuck together. Our families had actually combined packs, and while some of us moved outwards, the hub of Styles is still in London. That’s why we go so often.” Harry started, loving the way Zayn was listening and looking at him like he was the sun. “I felt really pressured about that kind of stuff. I’m supposed to be extroverted, charming, ambitious. Like my mum. So I graduated high school early with high honors, fucked around for a year, then got accepted here. I immediately majored for Business, but then I realized that fuck it, there’s no shame in learning about the world and being a librarian. It’s who I really am inside. I got through Cultural Anthro, but then moved to Forensic because I liked the idea of studying dead people.” 

Zayn nodded, they were getting pretty close to the apartment building, but it felt like everything had only just begun. They didn’t want it to end, subconsciously slowing their steps. “I’m a doctor, did I mention that?” He tried to come off as cheeky. 

“Yes, yes you did. It’s still an unfathomable thought. Have you published any books?” Harry finally moved all the food to one side, tucking the bag in the crook of his arm, and with the other hand, grazed his fingers over Zayn’s. Electricity. 

Zayn gasped softly, his heart beating out of his chest. He grabbed Harry’s hand and they intertwined fingers. “No, I’m much too afraid to. We have a lot of great authors in my family, I don’t want to go down in history being considered one of the mediocre ones. I did publish many essays in the process of being a PhD candidate. They’re a real eye sore, though.” His words trailed off as Harry lifted their hands together and kissed the back of Zayn’s, he never wanted to die more than at this moment, but simultaneously wanted to make it last forever. 

“I’m sure anything you write would be gold. I’d leave praises on every goodreads page. I’d make all the captions of my social media posts quotes from your books.” Harry joked, feeling delighted when Zayn found it hilarious. 

“That’s cringe, don’t ever do that. I’ll come and find you.” 

“Good.” 

Was it okay to be shamelessly flirting like this? 

“You’re good in bed,” Zayn blurted out, releasing the hand hold to slap it over his mouth. He was so, so dumb. He always did have a terrible tick of being too blunt at the wrong times. “I’m sorry, I don’t know what comes over me sometimes.” 

Harry shook his head, reassuring him. They stopped, they were now in front of Zayn’s apartment building. “It’s all good. And it was all you. I was frozen for a majority of it, you did most of the work--” 

“Ah, stop right there. I’ll become a tomato with panda eyes.” Zayn looked up at Harry. “Can I kiss you?” 

“Can I come up?” 

“Louis’ home, and I think Liam’s here. That looks like his car over there,” he pointed to a car that was parked on the other end of the street. “But...maybe it’d be good to introduce our plan to them. Talk some more...take a nap, maybe.” Zayn bit his lip, Harry finally leaned down for a peck. 

“Don’t mind if I do.” 

Zayn fumbled around for his keys, unlocking the door and letting them both inside. As they approached the stairway, a major wave of deja vu went through them, except this time they weren’t in such a rush. They weren’t desperate to fuck (or were they?). Zayn led Harry to the apartment door again, unlocking it and expecting to find Louis and Liam inside, but the loft was empty. “Lou?” He asked the air, looking around confused. 

“There’s a note here,” Harry held a piece of paper up from where he set down the pastries on the kitchen island. “Think they went somewhere.” 

“Oh, he probably lost his phone yesterday. ‘Going out for the day.’ Without the car? That’s not like him. Louis hates walking and sweating.” Zayn shrugged, setting it back down and freezing. This meant that he and Harry were alone again. Was it wrong to expect something? What was he expecting? Was something going to happen now? A slushie of thoughts mixed around in Zayn’s head. 

“I think I was saying earlier about my uh, about how I’d do anything to get your attention--oh shit, see your face--I mean,” Harry blushed and Zayn became a tomato. “Fuck. Sorry.” 

Zayn’s confidence level went up about 400%. “You didn’t kiss me properly. Do it again.” 

They walked together, slumping down on the couch. “You’re quite demanding, aren’t you?” Harry’s voice went low, and their noses were nearly touching. 

“I’m used to being spoiled.” Zayn reached his hands up and around Harry’s neck. 

“You do realize that we haven’t slept in 24 hours? Is it also safe to assume that you haven’t eaten since yesterday morning?” 

“Being around you makes me forget.” Zayn felt himself being lifted up by the legs, now comfortably rested with his face just slightly above Harry’s. 

“If we’re going to act like we’ve been in a committed relationship, we should start now. We’re not having sex.” Harry carried Zayn up the loft stairs, similarly to how he did yesterday. “We’re taking a long nap.” 

“Are we crazy? Is it normal for people who just met to be acting like this?” Zayn asked, letting himself be let down onto his bed. 

Harry shook his head. “No, definitely not. But we aren’t normal ourselves. I’ve never met an omega who scored a 101.” He slipped in next to Zayn, wrapping an arm around his waist. 

“I didn’t even know a level of 106 was possible.” Zayn murmured, feeling properly sleepy for the first time in days. 

“World’s 15th highest.” Harry now could feel the exhaustion hitting his eyelids like they were heavy weights. It made sense, too. They always had trouble sleeping if it weren’t next to each other, Harry remembered, then remembering to text Niall. He wiggled his phone out and quickly sent a message, popping it back into his pocket and right back to snuggling Zayn in until their chests were touching. Zayn was already fast asleep. “Good night, darling.” Harry gave into the temptation of kissing his head, it felt natural to do so. 

They slept for a very long time, deep in their dreams and psyches. In Zayn’s dream, he was on a canoe with Harry on still and clear waters. Harry rowed, and it almost felt like they were in the Little Mermaid scene without Sebastian the crab serenading them. A weeping willow tree brushed against their bodies, and there was no sound at all. They just smiled and stared at each other, surrounded by a sun, nature, and the connection between them. 

Funnily enough, Harry was having the same dream. Except in his, they’re on a disgusting fishing boat in the middle of the ocean and get caught in a storm. Zayn falls overboard and gets swallowed by the waves. 


 

When Niall woke up, he felt very, very silly. He looked over to see that Harry was gone, and immediately went to check his phone to see if the bastard at least texted. He did, but it didn’t make Niall feel any better. He cleaned up the fort, washed the dishes, made breakfast for himself and went to the school gym. He did his usual workout, until his sweat formed a puddle on the ground, and washed as per his routine in the communal showers. When he got out of the gym, hair still wet and face tight, he squinted at how strong the sun was shining right onto his face. 

“Hello there, stranger.” A familiar voice made him turn around, a smile cracking through his face. 

“Hello, Charlie.” 

“Was a bit upset that you didn’t reply to me yesterday after what happened at the hospital.” Charlie looked sexy, wearing dark clothes and bright blue eyeliner. Completely different from his fresh faced nursing scrubs attire. 

“Sorry, got a bit held up by something. I promise I wasn’t trying to ghost or anything like that.” Niall moved toward just as Charlie did, and the action confirmed the spark between them. 

“Listen, I don’t really do this often—“ 

“I don’t either—“ 

“I was wondering—“ they said simultaneously, and stopped with a smile. 

“Would you like to go on a date with me?” Charlie popped the question before Niall could, and of course he nodded. 

“I’d love to go on a date with you.” Niall beamed, not realizing that this view of him, as the sun was hitting his face, made him look like a complete angel with blonde hair and blue eyes. 

“Great. We should uh, we should plan something.” Charlie awkwardly responded, rubbing the back of his neck. 

“Yeah, ‘course.” 

Niall pulled Charlie close to kiss him, sweetly, without a drop of shallow lust as motivation. The second he pulled away, Charlie initiated it the second time, holding Niall’s face. 

“You’re a real gem, Niall Horan.” Charlie whispered, his hands on Niall’s face and Niall’s on Charlie’s waist. They kissed once more, then pulled away and Charlie headed towards another building. 

Niall was on top of the motherfucking world, feeling dazed and his eyes glazed over and unfocused. He drove back to the apartment, nearly getting into an accident in the process, still in a daze even up the elevator and back to his apartment, his hands shaking and constant shivers were running down his spine. The most beautiful person in the world wanted to date him, take him out, maybe make him theirs. That was a surreal feeling. 


 

 

“So, my mum called me this morning saying that Johanna called her back just last night because there was a spider that she was deathly afraid of.” Liam told Louis, who was hungover and weak from last night, but nevertheless, laughed. 

“My mum goes through phases of where she thinks she can handle being alone and such, but she really can’t.” They were on a park bench in the shade of a large tree, Louis leaning his head on Liam’s shoulder. “That’s probably where I got it from. Does this mean you’ll continue your PhD program?” 

Liam shook his head. “No, I already renounced my candidacy. It doesn’t matter that much to me anyways, I’m anxious to start working.” 

“I’m sorry,” Louis repeated. “It’s all my fault, really.” 

“Just shush, my love.” They had been embracing each other like this since the day they met, but now, being in Liam’s arms felt totally different. 

“No, really. Everything you said yesterday--”

“I officially renounce everything I said--” 

“Li, shut up.” Louis panted, his breath was shaky, he was malnourished and in so many levels of pain that he couldn’t possibly articulate. “Everything you said was true. I’m a spoiled, entitled brat. My parents said it all the time, and I thrived off of that shit. The feeling of being able to do whatever you wanted, because you had an out. I always had an out in life.” 

Liam shifted their position again so that now Louis was on his lap sideways, ear pressed against Liam’s chest. Louis continued, “I didn’t--I didn’t expect that it would be like this. I realized that I’m not in control of my life. I can only control my actions, and no matter how many calculations I predict and test probability scenarios, I can’t control my consequences.” Louis could hear Liam’s heartbeat, and he made sure to breathe in that same rhythm. The world was beginning to spin. “I didn’t expect to love you. I didn’t expect that...that…” 

“Lou?” Liam asked as Louis’ words trailed off. “Baby?” 

Louis’ eyes snapped back open, jumping a little. “Yeah, that too. Oh my god, oh my god,” He lurched forward, hoping to throw up, but again, nothing came out. Liam, in a panic, rushed to support Louis’ body, rubbing his back and settling him back down. 

“Love, I think we should go to the hospital.” 

“That’s not it.” Louis sighed, closing his eyes. “That’s not it.” 

“Okay,” Liam whispered, kissing his hair. “I love you, you know that?” 

At that moment, Louis remembered what Zayn had told him yesterday night. “But you’re Liam’s entire world, does that make him silly? Does that give you privilege to just quit?” He answered the question truthfully this time, and out loud. “You’re silly,” He looked right up at Liam. “You’re silly for loving me.” 

“Louis--” 

Just let me quit. 

“You can’t love me. I’m a mess, a fuck up, and an omega who’s ultimately going to have to...marry someone within my own league.” Louis pushed himself off of Liam’s lap with unnatural power. 

“Lou, you don’t mean that.” 

“Liam, I’m not useful otherwise. All of this that I’m doing right now, acting like I live here, like I’m studying to get a career, like I’m king of the fucking world, that’s me just being silly.” Louis tried not to sob. “I’m eventually going back to London too, you know. I have expectations to meet. I can’t--I can’t be in love with my nanny’s son. I’m sorry.” 

The only sounds left were the cars rushing past, the trees swaying their lush leaves, the children in the far background running amok, oblivious of their youth. The biggest part of growing up was sacrifice. For Louis, it meant that he could no longer afford to be selfish. He didn’t deserve Liam, and everyone knew it. 

They stared at each other for who knows how long, both pale in the face and shocked beyond belief. It must’ve been a strange thing to see for a witness passing by. 

“What are you saying, then?” Liam let the words slip. 

“That you were right when you said that you only fell in love with me because I didn’t give you any other choice. I can’t make you happy, Li--” 

“You make me happy every day. You have been for the past fourteen years. I-I wanted to marry you.” Liam’s voice was raising, sounding more and more distressed. 

Louis flinched, but it was too late to change his mind now. Nothing felt right anymore. 

“I’m sorry.” He whispered again, almost too softly to hear. But he turned and walked away, his entire body trembling and weak. 


 

By the time Louis got back home, he had no energy left to take the stairs. He waited for the slow elevator, taking it up to his floor, feet dragging all the way to their unit. The door became unlocked, a trudging and heartbroken Louis entering into his home. He expected that Zayn would be home, but he was nowhere to be found. Instead, there was Harry on the couch, quietly reading one of Zayn’s books. 

“Where’s Zayn?” was the first thing that came out of Louis’ mouth. Harry looked over, surprised to see that he was home. Louis had slipped in that silently. Harry shut the book, respectfully placing it down on the coffee table and moved to get up, but Louis stopped him, motioning for him to stay seated.

“He... he went out to return a book from the library, and something about getting you a new phone.” Harry helped Louis down onto the couch. “You don’t look well, is everything alright?” 

“What’s it like to knowingly fall in love?” Louis asked, collapsing against the cushions. “Expecting such a result? Being able to be vulnerable, flirting, holding hands for the first time. I don’t know what it’s like, and if I did, I don’t remember.” At the sound of the state of Louis’ voice, Harry got up anyways, moving to the kitchen area to get him some water. There were a few bottles in the fridge, he grabbed one and came back next to Louis. 

“Drink a few sips, and I’ll answer.” Harry bargained, snapping open the bottle and handing it to Louis, who obliged. “Well, I don’t know. Sometimes people can back together with a previous lover, and find that they’re doing all of it all over again. Discovering how changed they’ve become, letting themselves be vulnerable again and again.” 

“I broke up with Liam. He’s loved me for fourteen years.” Louis closed his eyes. 

“And how long have you loved him?” Harry asked, but Louis shrugged and shook his head. 

“I don’t know, and it’s funny. I’ve been counting everything since the day I was born, but I forgot to clock in the day I fell in love with the love of my life. And I realized that, I might not be the love of his .” Louis drank a few more sips, it was annoyingly helping his aching head. 

“I don’t know you. I don’t know who Liam is, and hell, I still don’t know much about Zayn. But I do know love manifests way before we’re aware of it.” Harry told him with as much truth as he could. “It’s powerful enough to kill us, but not as powerful as to change the trajectory of the universe. A lot of very intelligent people, people like you, have been plagued by such big ideas. Most people wouldn’t understand.” 

“I can’t even face my family like this,” Louis groaned as he cried, wiping at his face. “I haven’t been vulnerable to my own mother since I left for America.” 

“Maybe they’ll surprise you, Louis. You’re a prodigy, according to what I’ve heard. A damn gift from nature. Maybe it’s time to start gambling a little more on what we can and can’t do. Take more chances, give more chances to those that we’ve been fearful of our entire lives.” 

“I’m sorry for dragging you into my mess.” Louis apologized, but Harry shook his head. “And while I’m at it, I could probably stand to mention that I had a miscarriage, and when I finally told someone, it left me like this .” Louis pointed to his current self. “Absolutely non-functioning and broken.” 

Harry said in a gentle voice, “I’m sorry that happened to you.” 

“I just want to give up.” Louis said in between breaths. “Just give up.” 

Harry rolled up his sleeve on his left arm, showing it to Louis. “You see this tattoo right here? It’s a semicolon. I got it done right over the scars I have right here. Now, a semicolon means a pause. Most times all we need is a pause, not a complete stop. Your pain stays with you, sure, but as you grow, it makes you stronger.” 

“I’m broken,” Louis sniffled, and Harry’s heart broke. 

“You’re not broken.” Harry reached to pull him in for a hug. He remembered how there was a time that Louis was taller than him, sturdier, richer. He had entrancing eyes and a lovely way of speaking, and they stayed best friends till the day Harry died. The boy that was now in his embrace was so small, exploding with intellect and grief, but it was still the same boy. “You aren’t broken.” He repeated again, just as Zayn pushed open the door to see the sight on the couch. Harry said it one more time, while he had Louis like this, his lovely Louis who was once upon a time his best friend from another life. “You are not broken.” 



Chapter Text

“Uh, hi, Lou?” Zayn tried to read the room, but couldn’t, for the life of him, understand what was going on. Harry hugging his best friend that he’s never truly formally met, and no Liam in sight. 

Harry and Louis pulled back from their embrace, and he could instantly see the state Louis was in. Zayn didn’t need to read anything else, because that’s the face Louis wore when they left for America and left Liam behind. “Lou?” 

Louis couldn’t even say anything, just looked down and lost it, a whole mess of tears, sniffing, and struggling to breathe. Harry looked at Zayn in worry. Zayn, for the first time in his life, didn’t know what the fuck to do. And maybe Louis could sense it, because after forcing and willing himself to steady his breath, he looked right back up at Zayn. “Babe, could you leave Harry and me alone for a few? I don’t even think I’ve formally introduced myself.” 

“Uh, is that really a good idea?” Zayn automatically began to run lists in his head as to where he might escape to. 

“I’ll let you know when I have a bad idea. ‘Cause in fact, this has been my first solid idea in days.” Louis huffed, accepting the Iphone box that Zayn had bought for him. 

“Uh, alright. Call me if you need anything?” Zayn’s voice tipped into a question, because this was a strange situation. Harry widened his eyes at him, feeling an overwhelming wave that something bad was about to happen. But Zayn shrugged and shot him a sympathetic look, lacing up his elaborate Docs again and headed out the door. 

“So,” Louis snapped his bed back towards Harry, who flinched when he did so. “You know, the first time I saw you, that morning in your apartment, I noticed a few things there. First of all, how you’ve marked my best friend as yours,” Harry wanted to interject, but Louis held up a hand. “Secondly, that your last name is Styles? You’re English, correct?” 

“Immigrated here when I was ten.” Harry informed Louis, the energy in the room could be compared to as a bad boy boyfriend being introduced to the strict parents for the first time. 

“I know your mother,” Louis let it be known, and Harry snapped his head up at him, looking extremely confused. “All of our families dabble in stocks, I guess, among other things. Your company is one of our competitors, I should know because I memorize all of our competitors.” Louis said in a very matter of fact tone, and the small, quavering voice that Harry hugged earlier was all gone. Now this was Louis’ protective side. 

“I swear I didn’t mark him or claim him or anything shady like that,” Harry tried to defend himself, Louis keeping his unfazed composure. 

“Mm, that’s what they all say.” 

“No really, like—“ 

“No really, like,” Louis mocked Harry’s tone, and Harry’s never been so speechless and felt so powerless in both of his entire lives. 

He ultimately realized he had to admit defeat. “I would never do that to someone who was under the influence. He just slept in my bed, is all.” Harry was trying to think of ways of how he could sound convincing, but Louis shook his head. 

“You know, I believe that much, but I also find it hard to deem you trustworthy after that large ass bite mark on his neck just now, you fucked in my house again? Probably a couple of minutes before I came in? Hm?” 

“No, we didn’t have sex, we both had stayed up all night and just took a nap. I swear on it, on my mother.” 

“Now the stakes have been raised, betting our mothers. You’ll find that I know a good investment when I see one. But you? Not looking that promising, to be completely honest.” Louis clicked his tongue, and Harry shivered. 

“I didn’t even know that you guys were my mom’s competitors,” Harry started and Louis nodded like ‘obviously.’ “I don’t, I’ve never wanted to go into investments and be a CEO type of thing.” 

“Considering you’re studying Anthropology.” Louis clicked his tongue again. 

“Did you like, look me up or something?” Harry asked, and Louis rolled his eyes. “...Or you would have noticed that the only books in our flat were Anthro textbooks...got it.” 

“I also know your blood type, exact height to the centimeter, weight, and foodborne allergies.” Louis smiled, but it was a power smile, a smile that Harry couldn’t quite handle the heat of. 

Harry breathed out, “The hospital, must’ve had some kind of chart, but I don’t remember you looking at anythin’ like,” 

“I was literally staring at your chart whilst over you, remember? When Zayn touched your hand and it was like the poor wench that ripped Jesus’ crinoline? Healed magically, the messiah has come back to Earth!” Louis shook his head, wondering just how normal people could be sometimes. “The point is, if you’re actually trying to date my Zayn, you’re entering into a world where people trying to protect him will go a billion times farther than that. All the bitter suitors he’ll reject for you, his parents, every one of his sisters, probably every one of his exes too. Because it is sort of like an elite society of psychopathic behavior.” Louis shifted in his seat, so Harry felt compelled to as well. “I don’t find you all that compatible, to be honest, which is why I think the whole Chadwick-Hearst thing is pure bullshit. You did something or Zayn did something, and Zayn’s too naive to do anything.” 

“I swear, I didn’t do anything. I didn’t even know that I smelled different, either.” 

“It smells like you mated.” Louis dropped it on him. “I finally realized after a couple of hours, it smells like you two mated. So should I call the police that I have a rapist in my house, or are you going to stop lying to me?” 

Harry was shocked, very much so. He had no idea how to process any of which Louis was saying. So he blurted it out, it was worth a shot, “This isn’t my first life.” 

“I’m calling the police.” 

“No, please hear me out.” Harry begged Louis to stay, for he had been needing to tell someone ever since that day where he died, then woke up almost a century later as part of a whole different life. But of course Harry couldn’t say that, so he tried to explain it in a more plausible sounding way, “I had a really terrible fucking dream a week ago. One where Zayn and I were in love sometime in the distant past and there were bombs and we got crushed under a building.” The words didn’t feel like they were actually being said, but there they went. 

“After you met Zayn?” 

“Before I met Zayn.” 

Louis looked suspicious, but decided to let Harry babble on anyways, “So when I saw him at Sean Montgomery’s house, I just knew that he was that boy from my dreams and that I needed to take him out of there. I swear on everything I have that I didn’t do anything to him. I changed him out of his clothes, sure, but we just slept in my bed.” 

“The Chadwick-Hearst theory doesn’t cover anything about...oracle visions of mates.” Louis shook his head, deciding he was nearly done with Harry’s bullshit. 

“I know it doesn’t, I wrote a whole dissertation on it. I remember.” Harry pushed his hair back and began shaking his leg. “But it feels like I’ve known Zayn for so long. Every time I see him in my dreams, sometimes he’ll say something in real life and it’ll just—click. And I know it sounds idiotic, but I truly think I’m falling for him.” 

“You’ve known him for about a week.” Louis retorted, but Harry did begin to look more and more benign. Plus, if he did end up being shady, Louis knew the whole army of people behind Zayn that would rip him from limb to limb. 

“You know, Zayn said was being weird to me too. When we came back from your house after yelling about how you guys smell different, he came out of your room with a giant bite on his neck and some kind of smirk on his face, like he just confirmed something he’s known for years beyond me, which is impossible because there are no years beyond me, we were born hours apart in the same hospital. Our mothers practically conceived at the same time.” Louis snorted, Harry looked sheepish on the couch. “You’re going to have to come with us and take the blow, you know. Zayn absolutely cannot go home smelling like he was mated and have no mate to show for it. But one look at you is a huge tell that you’re not worthy. The way you dress, your status in life, it wouldn’t matter how powerful an Alpha you were and how compatible you were with Zayn.” Louis bit his lip. 

“Zayn and I planned to just lie that we were in a relationship, I had no idea that we smelled mated to other people.” Harry pushed his hair back again, twiddling his thumbs in anxiety. “And I know I’m not worthy. Your families are…so beyond and displaced from what I want in life.” 

Louis flinched, because the topic of class was now touchy. For a split second, he wondered if Liam ever thought that they couldn’t be together because of the places in life they were apart of. But maybe Louis was just trying to fish for justifications for breaking his heart. 

“I actually go back to London quite frequently too, my pack is there.” Harry said and Louis nodded. 

“You have the established nature of your pack to lean on for now. The House of Selley and Styles has been long standing for centuries, just like the Tomlinsons. But that’s simply not enough. You can’t face Zayn’s parents telling them that you aren’t the pack leader, if you know what I mean.” Louis pinched his nose, then rubbed at his temples, moving his jaw around a bit before getting up and heading to another one of his secret vodka hiding places, pulling out a bottle. 

“I thought you were going to quit,” Harry calmly said, watching Louis weakly stumble back onto the couch. 

“Who told you that?” Louis scoffed, popping open the bottle, but right before he could take a swig Harry smoothly took it from him. 

“I ran into Zayn yesterday, he was getting you Kids’ Nyquil.” Harry explained, calmly closing the bottle. “I figured it must be that bad if you couldn’t even drink the level of alcohol in a cough syrup.” 

“Well, you’re wrong. I have no intention to stop any of my habits.” Louis snatched it back from him, taking a swig before he could be stopped. 

“It’s barely past noon.” 

“It’s just a warm up for the party I’m going to tonight.” 

Harry exhaled. “Why are you so hell-bent on punishing yourself?” He asked, watching Louis flinch. He took another swig before answering Harry. 

“You know, when I was really small, they had my IQ tested. Said that I was immeasurably bright, that I was going to be so important and do such great things, and I’ve never seen my mom so proud. But turns out, with great intelligence comes great consequences. I was a fucking nightmare when I was little, Zayn was my sidekick and we just liked to drag Liam around.” He looked down, tracing the curve of the bottle with his fingers like it was his best friend. 

“You still turned out great. You didn’t become some spoiled idiotic brat.” Harry suggested it, but Louis scoffed at him mid sentence. 

“I’m the definition of a spoiled idiotic brat. You know I continually cheated on Liam? All those years? Making this excuse to his face that since we weren’t official, that it was just,” Louis was about to lose it again, covering his face with his hands. “That since we weren’t technically together, I slept with literally every alpha that you see on the graduate campus. So a big part of me...I…” Louis couldn’t speak again, and so Harry moved the bottle out of the way and lent Louis his arms, a much needed (but not quite deserving of) embrace. “What if...what if it wasn’t Liam’s?” 

“Don’t.” Harry speaks firmly, and Louis couldn’t help but press his face to Harry’s chest, needing to hear a heartbeat, closing his eyes. “Don’t keep on thinking about the things that don’t matter anymore.” It was a cruel thing to say, but it was the truth, and at the very least, Louis deserved the truth. “You’ve already done what you thought was right, haven’t you? Let him go?” 

“Did I actually do the right thing? I can’t tell what’s selfish or not anymore.” Louis pulled away, swiping the bottle again and turning it over. “I used to be able to tell, that’s what got me off. Knowing that I was always choosing the bad.” 

“You won’t feel better by drinking it all away and partying, you’re smart enough to know that.” Harry finally couldn’t stand it anymore, roughly stealing the bottle away from Louis and putting it away from arm’s reach. 

“But I like how dumb it makes me,” Louis laughed bitterly. “God, I’m so fucking pretentious.” 

“It’s all right, we all are. But hey, from now on, I’ve got your back.” Harry rubbed his tongue over his teeth, giving Louis the most dependable and trustworthy look he could. “If you have my back in London, I will have yours for the rest of our lives.” 

“Promises don’t really mean shit to me--” 

“I’m sure they don’t,” Harry interrupted, causing a look of surprise. “But they mean something to me. We’re going to be the best of friends from this point on.” 

“It’s taken Zayn him his entire life to even be able to grab just a smidge of vulnerable Louis. I can’t say that I’m convinced that I have faith in you.” 

“You’re never going to tell Zayn what you told me just now.” Harry tried to sound as authoritative as possible. “You’re going to stop drinking, and you’re never going to go near Liam again, because he’s a trigger. Because you’re going to make your mum proud, do you understand me? Now, I will only help you if you let me, and it seems that you do want help.” 

“I’m tired,” Louis got up, tripping over the coffee table and stumbled up the staircase, Harry stood up and watched him go. Louis plopped down onto his bed, facing Harry who was still looking up at him from downstairs. They stared at each other for a bit, Louis in deep contemplation. He finally opened his mouth, “Come back tomorrow, Styles. I highly doubt you’ll be able to get through to me, but I will tell you this, I love Zayn more than anything in this entire world. I’ll help you to not fucking embarass yourself in front of the ocean of people that will be against you and him together. But the second you reveal that your intentions are shitty, I will join that ocean and personally rip you from limb to limb.” 

“Understood. Make sure you eat something, have nice dreams.” Harry smiled, just as Zayn walked back in. 

“I’m sorry, I couldn’t take it anymore, I just can’t fucking process what the hell is going on here,” Zayn panted, back pressed against the front door. “Would anyone care to explain to me what you two were talking about? Why you were even talking?” 

“I’m basically going to turn him into the alpha that your parents would prefer.” Louis yawned, laying himself down and letting out a deep sigh. Zayn’s face paled, then snapped his head back towards Harry, beginning to wonder just how Louis would accomplish such a feat. 

“Hey, stop looking at me like there’s no hope. I’m starting to get offended.” Harry joked, picking up his jumper and walking towards the door, slipping his shoes on. He suddenly pulled Zayn towards him, hands around his waist and they kissed passionately, just before Harry let go and flashed him a wink, leaving the apartment and leaving Zayn the most stunned he’s ever been in his life. 


 

Liam submitted his final paper to his supervising professor, who gave him a formal goodbye and a speech about how he’d miss his mind here at the university. He walked home, packed up all his belongings in the same suit case he brought with him when he came to America. After realizing a large portion of it couldn’t fit, he filed through and threw away most of his own clothes and objects, a large portion of them being gifts from Louis in the past. He couldn’t bear to even think about him treasuring those now. 

He meticulously vacuumed, then left a note saying that his roommate could keep his vacuum. He mopped, he swept, he polished. It took many hours, but Liam could never stand a mess. Ironic. 

He also made a note saying that his roommate could have his car and any other utilities he left. He walked out of his apartment, waited for his uber, and when it came, wordlessly got in, staring out the window. The driver tried to make conversation, to which Liam made a show of putting in his earphones so that they’d stop. The wave of deja vu that came over him was inevitable, as he was returning on the same path that sent him to this city, this new country. This city was beautiful; dusty, hot, and graffiti-ed at every turn, but resonated a constant sense of life and wonder. He stared out the window the entire time to the airport, wondering if this will be the last time he’ll ever see America again. He thought, ‘probably’ because now he would never be able to look at his experience here in the same way. 

He got out of the car, walking to his appropriate terminal and going through the usual measures of security. He ate nothing, silently just waiting for the boarding to begin. It was almost as if the last two days had never actually happened, he had been living in this fantasy for so long that it didn’t really feel like they just broke up. Well, Louis broke up with him, and Liam felt silly that he thought he could break it off first. The night settled in outside the airport, and it began to get quiet in that section of gates. Even when the attendants announced boarding, it still didn’t feel real. 

That moment that happened to his feet when the airplane lifts off, it still didn’t feel real. 

That moment when the plane touches down, and to peer out into his home country like he doesn't recognize it, it still didn’t feel real. 

It posed the question, was it all a waste? A lie? Liam hoped that most of it wasn’t. He hoped that some parts were real. He hailed a cab and went on his way to his mum’s house, feeling out of place when he got there. He realized his hands were shaking, pressing on the doorknob like he was a guest at his own childhood home. When his mother answered the door, they didn’t need to exchange any words, just a kiss and hug, just a knowing look and a sad smile. 

Before bed that night, Liam turned off his phone and took out the sim card with a paperclip, for when morning came, he was to get a new phone number. 


 

“I never took you as one that loved baseball,” Niall commented, watching Charlie expertly hit every ball that shot out of the machine. “I’ve always been more of a football guy.” 

“British football or real football?” Charlie joked, beckoning for Niall to come closer. “Try it out with me.” 

“How do I already know I’m going to embarrass myself?” Niall shook his head, but let Charlie get behind him to fix his posture and steady his position. Niall proceeded to miss the next fourteen balls that shot out. “God, I jinxed it!” 

“You really did, though.” Charlie laughed, feeding Niall a piece of popcorn by tossing it into his mouth. They were taking a break, sitting next to each other outside the batting cage on a bench, Charlie’s legs crossed and dangling, Niall’s head spinning. “What’s something that you love to do?” 

“Oh, I love to cook.” Niall admitted, and Charlie seemed very intrigued. “I’m majoring in food science, my family’s into art dealing. Sort of funny, huh?” 

“You any good? I’m a little hungry, or whatever.” Charlie flashed him a smile, biting his bottom lip. 

“Yeah? You’d be willing to go back to my place, I can fix dinner? I swear I’m good, I’m not one of those white guys that only seasons with salt and pepper.” Niall stood up, holding out his hand for Charlie to take. They walked out together, fingers intertwining and moving closer to each other. It was like a scene from a movie, this moment. 

“Yeah, I’d be willing. It’s not like I’ve never been.” 


 

Yo haz 

 

Dont come home for a while 

Cheers

-

Harry groaned, wondering what he should do now. He couldn’t go home for a while, but he also couldn’t just waltz back into Zayn’s apartment again. He couldn’t even go anywhere at this time, everything that was nearby was beginning to close. So after a while of deciding, he decided to just loiter around for a smoke. It was a bad habit, but sometimes, life was deserving of either a smoke or a punch in the face. He settled on a random tree on campus, laying under it and sighing, taking out the pack of cigarettes he had bought last night along with the lighter. Just when he couldn’t handle being alone with his thoughts anymore, he decided to make a call. 

The phone rang for about thirty seconds, then failed. Harry huffed and tried again, and this time, after thirty seconds, the intended recipient picked up. 

“Harry darling, I’m afraid I will have to call you back in just a second, I’m catching up on some emails--” 

“Hi mum.” Harry choked out, this was actually the first time he has heard his mother’s voice since he was reborn. Is reborn the right term? Probably. The lovely tone, the sophisticated air around her voice was the same as ever, and the old Harry inside of him wanted nothing more than to sob. “It’ll just be a minute, I just wanted to apologize to you.” 

“For what, lovie?” He heard some shuffling, and then his mother say, “Okay, you’re on speakerphone. If you hear some incessant typing, it’s just some of the usual business.” 

“I’m sorry for being such a bad son,” Harry couldn’t hold back his tears anymore. “I’m such a privileged brat, mum, and I’m sorry for being so ungrateful.” 

The typing stopped. There was shuffling on the other end again, and his mom’s voice ran closer and clearer. “Who told you that you were a bad son?” 

“I was--I was just thinking that if anything were to happen to you before I got to say it, I wouldn’t know how to live with myself.” 

“Well that’s morbid, and extremely pessimistic. I thought your father taught you to view on the side of glass half full. Plus, I’m in very good health, you’ve not to worry your head off.” 

“I’m a really big disappointment.” 

“You ‘really’ aren’t,” she emphasized the ‘really’. “If you were, my darling, I would’ve said it years ago. Have I ever been audibly disappointed?” She sighed, wondering where this was all coming from. 

“But you do admit that there were times that you were silently disappointed, yeah? I let you down, yeah?” 

There was a pause. “My darling, please don’t cry. You know I love you.” 

Harry looked up at the sky and struggled to breathe. “I’m sorry, mum. I really am. And I really do love you too. I’m really grateful for how hard you’ve worked for me to come this far.” 

There was another pause. “Harry, you’re beginning to worry me. Where are you and what are you planning to do?” 

“I’m-I’m outside on campus. I wasn’t gonna, I-- this call wasn’t for any last words or anything. Who’s morbid now?” He tried to joke, but his voice was too broken. “You know mum, sometimes I have dreams where I’m small again and you’d read me those really long books before bed, and right before we got to your favorite bit I’d be asleep, so you’d wake me up, telling me to never close my eyes for an important thing.” 

“I remember. You’d be half-awake, but I’d be damned if I ever let my son be someone who was okay with never knowing the resolution.” 

“You taught me really well,” Harry closed his eyes. “I love you a lot, mum.” 

“Darling, I’ll see you when we meet at for the connection at JFK. I love you very much, and stop smoking. I can hear it in your voice. I have to get back to work now, get home safely.” She hung up in her usual cold and efficient fashion, and Harry felt a giant weight lift off of his chest, letting his arm and phone fall beside him on the grass. He took a minute to just breathe, let the tears run off the sides of his face before he made another call. 

This time, the recipient answered within ten seconds. ‘Hi, Harry!” 

“Hi, dad,” Harry chuckled. “How are you?” 

“Oh, quite fine, I was just doing some maintenance in the garden.” His dad had a great laugh, and Harry drew blood on his lips trying not to cry. He hadn’t heard his dad’s voice in so long, it was as though someone had ripped Harry’s heart out. “Everything okay?” 

“Yea, yeah. Of course. Just finished the quarter, met up with Gem.” Harry ran a hand through his hair. “You doing okay?” 

His dad laughed again. “Yeah, as great as ever. Your mother actually had time to sit at dinner today. I won the community golf tournament last week, that was quite exciting. I’ve also got a new pie recipe I’d like to try when we get back to London.” 

“That sounds amazing, dad.” 

“D’oh, but we both know that’s not why you’re calling. You never call, always waited for the bloody quarter to end to meet up and say anything. What’s wrong?” 

“I have a confession to make, I met someone.” Harry smiled, sitting up so that he could bring his knees up to his chest. “I think I’m really in love with him.” 

His dad made a happy humming noise, it sounded like he was walking through the house now. “Well out with it, what’s his name?” 

“Zayn, Zayn Malik.” 

There was a comically long pause before Harry nearly went deaf from his dad’s bellowing laughter. “Oh god, that’s actually great. I’m being serious, this is the best news I could’ve been given.” 

“Uh, why are you finding this so funny? You know who Zayn is?” 

“Are you really telling me that you don’t recognize that name, Malik? Your mother bloody hates Patricia. Ripped each other’s hair out with their eyes at the last gala. When she finds out, she’s either going to explode or be very maniacally delighted. It’ll be like a Queen Victoria alliance, merging the two empires together. Although, I do think that Selley-Styles-Malik sounds a bit much.” 

“Well, whatever her reaction, I just wanted to let you know that when we meet up at JFK, just don’t get too shocked. I smell really different, I didn’t mate anyone, don’t worry, but I just smell a tad strange.” 

“Yep, yep, hormones will do that to you.” His dad finally settled back down. “I’m assuming that the score between you two is at least 200.” 

“Added together, it’s around 207.” Harry heard his dad snort again. 

“Oh my god, she’s going to die. 207? You’ve basically claimed each other. Those are some insane levels of pheromones rushing through you two. It’s too late to try and break that kind of attraction.” 

“You were an Evolutionary Biologist, yeah? Have you ever heard of really compatible pairs having...oracle-like visions? Like being able to see and know that person before you’ve met them?”

“No. That’s just simply impossible. No amount of hormones is going to magically produce a mental image of a person you’ve never looked at, or taken a whiff of, for that matter.” 

“Don’t tell mum, but I was actually attacked a few days ago. Broke a lot of places, but when Zayn came to see me in the hospital, I ended up completely healed and discharged within the hour. We tried to stay away, but...it just didn’t work. He smells different as well. I was told that it smells like we’ve mated.” 

“Well, that certainly places a target on your back.” 

Harry’s eyes widened. “Do you really think I’ll be assassinated? Because I was honestly thinking about it and it truly does seem like I’m going to be in deep shit when we get back to the estate. Zayn planned on showing me to his parents.” 

“Yeah...good luck with that.” His dad casually down played it. 

“Wow, thanks a lot, dad.” Harry groaned sarcastically. “Did mum actually have dinner with you? She sat at the table? Finished her plate?” 

“Mhm. She’s been discussing retirement a lot lately, I think her job had truly drained it out of her. But unless she can find a worthy successor, she’s still CEO. Plus, she loves the work like a bloody masochist, so what’s the big fuss for being a little more patient?” 

“I see. I’ll see you soon, dad.” 

“I love you very very much, Harry. I have complete faith that you will figure it out, you’ve always been bright and full of potential, much more than me.” His dad’s words were so warm. 

“I love you too. I love you.” They hung up, and Harry realized how dark it had become. He checked the battery percentage on his phone, he was good for another hour if he conserved it. He sent Niall a quick text. 

Nearly done, you lot?

 

Niall replied quickly, much to Harry’s surprise. 

-

 

Yeah 

Hes stayin over for tonight 

Harry sighed, lifting himself off the ground, shuffling on the path back home. 


 

It was the next morning. 

“Lou, you have to tell me where you’ve hidden the goddamn vodka.” Zayn’s hands were on his hips, Louis drunk on his bed. “I checked the usual places before I left yesterday, so this must mean you’ve found different spots.” 

“The bottle from today is the last one, I swear,” Louis lied, pulling at Zayn’s shirt to come and cuddle him on the bed. 

“That’s some bullshit.” Zayn stomped down the stairs, and began ripping through the entire apartment, going through every cabinet, drawer, and shelf, even turning over the couch. When he got to the tv stand, he pulled out a drawer and found six mini-fridge size bottles of rum and tequila, looking up at Louis. “You little bitch.” 

“Well, I did say that the vodka was the last full sized bottle…” 

“No, no I don’t think you did, fucker.” Zayn hissed, taking the plastic bottles out and stuffed them into a bag. “Come clean now. Where are the rest?” 

Louis scratched his head, looking a bit unsure, a bit like he was just trying to give Zayn a hard time. He relented, “There are some inside the cushions.” 

“Fucking unbelievable,” 

“...And there’s one half sized tequila underneath the loft stairs. And there’s more under the bathroom sink.” 

“I literally can’t believe this. It’s worse than I could’ve ever thought. I can’t fucking believe you, Lou.” Zayn roughly threw out all the alcohol, his head practically steaming. “I’m coming up there and beating your ass.” 

“Yeah, because last time went so well for you,” Louis yelped when Zayn pinned him onto the bed, and together they rolled onto the floor, screaming and kicking. “Where did all this fucking strength come from?” 

“Adrenaline!” Zayn shouted, as they began to pull each other’s hair and bite legs. “Ow, fuck! You fucker--” 

“Stop crushing my arm, then!” 

“You stop fucking biting me!” 

Then the phone rang, making the both of them jump and stop. “Yours?” Louis asked Zayn, who shook his head. “Well, fuck.” They got up off the floor, and Louis snatched his phone from the nightstand. “I just put this shit together, I have the same number, right?” Zayn nodded, and Louis sighed, answering the call and putting the phone to his ears. 

“Hello, is this Louis?” 

“Yes, who’s calling?” 

“Hi, Louis. It’s Karen, your old nanny?” 

Louis froze, quickly putting the phone on mute and shot Zayn a look. “It’s Liam’s mum.” 

“Oh fuck, oh fuck fuck fuck--” 

“Shh!” Louis turned the mute button off and put Karen on speakerphone. “Hi, Miss, it’s been a long time.” He put a finger over his lips at Zayn. 

The nice woman on the other end let out a nervous laugh before responding, “It has been a long time, hasn’t it? We haven’t seen each other since last quarter break.” 

“How are you?” Louis asked, Zayn giving him a look, to which he shrugged. 

“I’m doing well, your mum is too. Listen, I really wanted to talk to you about Liam. He flew over just this morning, and hasn’t really said a word about why he’s left the university. I was hoping that maybe you and Zayn know what’s been going on with him.” 

The blood drained from both of their faces, and Zayn had to stop Louis from crumbling onto the ground. Zayn pressed Louis’ head under his neck, securing him inside his arms. Liam had already left, probably a few hours after...after… 

“I didn’t know that he had already left.” Louis’ voice broke in the middle of his sentence. Zayn took the phone from him before Louis could give away anything else. Louis pressed a hand over his chest, sharply lurching forward when a dull pain exploded around his lungs. It was probably all the drinking. 

“Hi, Miss Karen!” His voice sounded too high, too chirpy. “I heard you were asking about Liam?” 

“Hi, Zayn. Yes, yes I was just asking if something could be wrong.” 

“Well, I don’t really know the details, but,” Zayn paused as Louis began to weep. “I think Liam mentioned that he didn’t really feel like going for his PhD anymore, so he just proclaimed his Masters and left pretty quickly after that.” 

“That’s a bit strange. Do you...do you think it had something to do with him and Louis? I know I’m probably wrong, but I haven’t really seen him like this since...well, when you two left for boarding school all those years ago. He was so determined to meet up with Louis in Los Angeles, and now he’s back all of a sudden…” 

“Going through a bit of a rough patch, I will be honest. They uh, they kind of broke up yesterday.” Zayn got a slap to the head when he said that, Louis’ eyes widening and ears getting red. 

“Oh. I see.” 

“Well, have a lovely...evening, Miss Karen. It’s evening over there, correct?” Zayn tried to wrap things up before Louis got more furious. 

“Ah, yes. You have a lovely morning, Zayn. Make sure to eat.” Karen bid him goodbye, and Zayn ended the call and collapsed on the floor next to Louis. They were in dead silence for a few minutes, before Louis inhaled and opened his mouth. 

“He really just left. I mean, of course he did, but.” 

“Lou, try not to get too worked up about it, yeah? Perhaps this is for the best?” Their shoulders met. Louis’ eyes were getting fuzzy again. 

“Uh...yeah. Maybe it is for the best. You know, yesterday Harry told me that he thought Liam was a trigger for my drinking. That this has to be the end of it.” 

Zayn nodded silently, not really knowing what to say. “Well, whatever happens, it’ll always be just the two of us, Lou. We know that. Are you okay? You look a bit pale.” 

“Yeah, fuck. Yeah.” Louis wiped his tears away. “I love you, Zaynie.” 

“I love you too, baby girl.” They both giggled at that, and just sat there next to each other for a while. 

“We have to take out all of Harry’s piercings. Get him a new wardrobe. Fix his diction, cut his hair, get him a facial, get him some new shoes.” 

“Geez, you’re not going to turn him into a Sean Montgomery, are you?” Zayn joked, but when Louis didn’t answer, he got a bit frightened. “Um, I’m not sure how comfortable I am with that. No cutting his hair.” 

“Just a trim. Really, just a small trim. Thor Ragnorak is much too short, but Thor The Dark World is much too long.” Louis tried to reason with Zayn, who nodded after a while. 

“No covering up tattoos. I don’t want to see him in any kind of button down, I’ll die. I’ll jump off this building. No taking out his earrings.” 

“Babe, we HAVE to take out his earrings.” 

“Fine. Everything but the lobe.” 

“Whatever, we’ll get him some diamonds, will that make you happy?” 

“I love how we’re discussing this like he has no choice.” 

“Well, he doesn’t.” 


 

Harry woke up to the sound of the bed creaking in the room next to his. He refrained from screaming, but after many minutes of trying to block the sounds out with his pillow, the dresser on the wall closest to those motherfuckers began to shake. He lost it, jumping up and running into the bathroom to shower, went back into his room to get changed and out of the door as quickly as possible. There was moaning, a bit of screaming, it almost sounded like a murder scene, those freaks, and so Harry had to get out. The very first thing he did was call Zayn. 

“Good morning,” Zayn answered in a sing-song voice, Harry could hear Louis gagging in the background. “Did you sleep well?” 

“Aren’t the both of you too whipped to be calling each other every day when you’ve only really known each other for like two weeks--oW!” Louis chided, but a large thump ended his sentence with some heavy breathing. 

“Sorry about that.” 

Harry laughed, shaking his head. “It’s okay, he’s right though. This could look a bit unusual to most. I had to escape my apartment because Niall and Charlie were fucking each other into the walls.” 

“Oh no,” Zayn jokingly laughed, and it sounded like Louis was laughing too. “Well, it’s a good thing you called actually. We need to discuss the level of rich fuckboy we can take you to be.” 

“Pardon?” Harry stopped in his tracks. “Rich fuckboy?” 

“Yes, I’m afraid the piercings has to go...along with the ripped pants and t shirts. Maybe a haircut. Maybe.” 

“Most definitely!” Louis shouted through the phone. “We can’t bring a stray mutt home!” 

“Louis!” Zayn snapped, the sound of something being thrown was evident. “Sorry, Harry, he didn’t mean that.” 

“I most certainly did!” 

“Oh you know what, you motherfucker, pissing me off all morning--” The phone sounded like it was dropped, sounds of the both of them screaming and fighting in the background. Harry patiently waited for them to be done, and after a couple of minutes, Zayn picked up the phone again. “Do you want to come over? What time’s your flight tomorrow?” 

“It’s actually a red-eye for tonight, which is probably why Niall and Charlie felt the need to...anyways, do you think we’ll have enough time for this makeover?” Harry began walking towards their apartment, which was less than a mile away. 

“You’d be willing?” Zayn sounded confused. 

“Anything for you, darling. I actually want your family to like me, considering we will have to pretend like we’ve been together for a while.” 

“Aw, so sweet.” Louis sarcastically drawled, yelping when Zayn threw another object in his direction. “We’re cutting your hair Thor Ragnarok style! Be prepared!” 

“We won’t cut it that short if you don’t want to,” Zayn quickly blabbed. 

“I’m okay with it, my mum hates my long hair too.” Perhaps another ten minutes walk from here. “I’m almost there, can I call you back when I’m outside the door?” 

“Oh fuck, oh, um, yeah! See you in a bit!” Zayn’s voice had gotten an octave higher, ending the call and looking at the state of their apartment in horror. 

“Hey, this is your fault for going on a booze crusade,” Louis started, but the glare Zayn shot him made him shut his mouth. 

“We have ten minutes, oh god. Oh god, oh fuck.” Zayn began to close all the drawers, put the couch back together, he ran around with a vacuum for a bit and wiped down the kitchen, barked at Louis to make the beds, and just then, his phone rang. He sounded very out of breath when he answered. “Hi! I’ll be right down.” 

“Whipped!” Louis shouted, the door closing as Zayn sprinted out. He ran down the stairs, nearly tripping over his unlaced shoes before realizing that his hair was a mess in the lobby mirror. (Why do lobbies always have mirrors?) He left out a groan of frustration, deciding to just comb it all backwards with his hands before opening the door for Harry, who acted like he totally didn’t just watch Zayn geek out in the mirror. 

“Hi,” Harry chuckled, Zayn’s face was red and his chest was going up and down erratically. “You good?” 

“Oh my god, I’m great!” Zayn said a bit too excitedly, so when he turned around he cringed at himself. “I uh, I had to clean a bit, it was a mess when you called.” 

“Ah, I’m sorry about that.” Harry giggled as he chased after Zayn, who tried to run up the stairs in embarrassment. “What’s this I hear about Thor?” 

Zayn spun around, began to make hand motions, but no sound came out of his mouth. “Well, you’re going to need to cut your hair. And take out all piercings...and possibly wear a suit.” 

Harry scrunched up his face, “I’m going to have to wear a suit on the plane?” 

“Oh no, I mean, we probably won’t meet up that first day.” Zayn explained, pushing the door open with his back and nearly falling in the process. Harry caught him, and the former’s face went completely red. 

“Am I allowed to request you some changes, then?” Harry asked innocently, Louis turned around to widen his eyes at Zayn. 

“Yeah Zayn, is Harry allowed to change you too?” An eyebrow wiggle, a fierce glare in return. But Zayn wasn’t too serious in his annoyance, he knew it was just Louis’ front that he was putting up. 

“What about me would you like to change?” He looked up sweetly at Harry, batting his eyelashes and softly grabbing his hand. 

“Nothing personally,” Harry grinned, letting go of Zayn’s hand and using his to stroke the side of Zayn’s face. “But my mother is already going to yell her head off when she sees that I’ve brought home the Malik boy. I don’t think your usual garb will soften that blow either.” 

“How do you know your mum will hate me?” Zayn asked, touching a strand of Harry’s hair, like he was contemplating on how short he should get it cut. 

“Did you know that there’s a Youtube video of our mum’s ripping out each other’s hair at the last Gala they attended? Louis sent me the link.” Harry chortled, and Louis joined in. Zayn pouted. 

“Since when are you and my best friend so chummy? And I could say the same for you, my mother’s not going to like it either.” 

Harry and Louis looked at each other and shrugged. “I dunno, it’s almost as if we have an agreement.” Louis rolled his eyes at Harry’s statement. 

“We should go right now. Now now now!” Zayn jumped around like a little boy, beckoning for Louis to get up. But he only shook his head, laughing at the two of them. They really did make a cute couple. 

“I’m not third wheeling. Just send me photos of everything you think you’ll buy.” Louis waved them off, and grunted when Zayn landed straight on his back. “God, you motherfucker, get off of--” 

“You don’t have to hide that you’re not having a good day, Lou.” Zayn whispered in his ear, and Louis just patted his head by reaching behind him. “You don’t have to put up any kind of front.” 

“Yeah, yeah.” Louis shrugged him off, Harry awkwardly standing by the door. 

“Come with us,” Zayn pleaded, giving Louis the puppy eyes. “Let me help you forget about him.” 

I don’t think anything will work . “I’m just a bit tired today, yeah? I dunno. I feel like resting.” Louis took in a sharp breath, and Zayn relented, sliding off of his back and kissing his cheek. 

“Well, oooooooookay, then. Love you lots.” He kissed Louis again. 

“Love you more.” 

Louis sat completely still until he heard Harry and Zayn leave, then took the initiative to collapse on the couch and start crying. He folded his hands onto his chest, took in deep, solemn breaths, and a tear one by one left his eyes as he silently stared up at the ceiling. He didn’t utter a single scream or whimper, not even a shout or an ugly form of heaving. Silently, with his bottom lip shaking, let everything flow out of him. 


 

(I haven’t written much in Zayn’s perspective! I’m terrible.) 

Every time Harry shifted, Zayn got hit with a whiff of his scent, knocking him out every six seconds or so. It was like a high, breathing in Harry’s scent, and it wouldn’t be long before he got addicted. 

He followed behind Harry as they used navigation to find the highest rated barber, staring at the way his back moved, his hair swung about, how his legs were pacing in perfect, even strides. He wasn’t about to lie to himself, because Louis was right. Maybe Zayn was getting a little too whipped too quickly. 

“I’m not going to lie to you.” He blurted out, and Harry didn’t even pause to look behind him. 

“Thank you for the reassurance, darling.” His laugh was so sexy, deep and sensual, it simply just wasn’t fair. “I never suspected that you’d ever lie to me.” 

“I want to know more about you,” Zayn bounded up so that he was walking with Harry side by side, grabbing his arm and hooking it with his. “Don’t you want to know more about me?” 

Harry looked down at him, like he was inspecting his face. Zayn could already feel his face becoming hot. Harry hummed, standing back up straight and continuing to walk. “What would I want to know?” 

Zayn fake gasped, a little bit offended on the inside. But he shrugged it off. “My body count?” The reaction was worth it, Harry snorted, flashing Zayn a white smile with his green eyes narrowed. 

“You know, that reminds me. In forensic anthropology, we have this institution called a body farm, and basically, people who have donated their bodies to science, some of them are left to rot in various ways so that we can study how people decompose. It’s sick, I saw a body blow up once from its own putrefied insides.” Harry tickled at Zayn’s neck, making the both of them laugh and lose their breath a little. 

“That’s sick, mate.” Zayn felt Harry let go of his arm, and wrapped his arm around Zayn’s neck. Woah, there. 

“But do you actually have a body count?” Harry asked, and Zayn was so close to him now that he nearly couldn’t speak. 

“My murders or my sexcapades? To add them all together...let’s just say it’s more than fifteen and less than 30.” He made eye contact with Harry, who shook his head in laughter. 

“That’s such a tell that the number is like...24.” Harry said, making Zayn gasp and cover his mouth. 

“Did-did you read my mind? I think you did. Oh my god, this is so freaky.” Zayn slapped Harry’s chest, getting a weird look from the girl that was passing by them. “What’s your body count?” 

Harry looked up, thinking about it for a second. “About...five. Including you.” The answer made Zayn choke on air, that was unbelievable, considering Harry was the sexiest man he’s ever seen in his life. 

“You’re making me feel like a slut,” Zayn raised his eyebrow at Harry, who shook his head again. 

“No darling, you’re making me feel like my game is weak,” They laughed together, walking along the roads to the street level, where all the artisan shops and businesses were. 

“How come you’ve only done it with five people? If you don’t mind me asking,” Zayn asked just as Harry pointed to the barber shop that they were headed to. 

Harry shrugged, “I guess it just didn’t happen a lot. I had to be in a relationship with them, get to really know them. Sex just doesn’t mean that much to me.” Harry admitted, and Zayn frowned at that. 

“You weren’t in a relationship with me.” 

“That’s different, we’re actually compatible.” 

“You’re saying that you went for people that weren’t compatible with you?” Zayn asked as they walked closer and closer to the barber’s. “Isn’t that setting yourself up to think that sex is nothing?” 

“Are you saying that you’ve never been attracted to someone who wasn’t compatible with you?” Harry asked, opening the door for him and the two walked inside, the cool breeze of the air conditioning flowing down their backs. 

“That’s different, baby. Those were all power plays.” Zayn shot Harry a wink as he was whisked away to get his hair washed. When the barber asked how short, they showed him a picture of short-haired Thor, and by the time they left, Zayn perhaps fell deeper and deeper. 

“I have many benign outfits, for your consideration. Most of my closet is benign, I’ve just been too lazy to do the laundry this week. The clothes I’m wearing now are on the extreme end, I admit.” They were now walking through the park, eating ice cream cones from the stand and strolling languidly as the heat began to settle right behind their eyes. 

“Specify benign.” Zayn licked a fat stripe up of his vanilla cone, and Harry nearly choked on his wafer. “Are we talking a printed button down or a full trenchcoat? And can I just--” He went up onto his tiptoes to touch Harry’s hair, eyes widening at how soft it was. Their faces became really close, so close to the point where Harry just went for it and bent down to meet Zayn’s lips, pecking them softly, the sound sweet to the prying ear. 

“You are...fuck.” Zayn let go, huffing and covered his face with his hands. “Seriously, stop it. I am a tomato.” 

“You’re a beautiful tomato,” Harry tugged Zayn closer, and now more people were watching them from the other side of the street . Cars were honking at the two beautiful boys walking down 3rd in their leather jackets, couldn’t even get their hands off each other. “And if I were to specify, the rest of my closet looks like Niall chose it for me.” 

“Oh, then we’re fine.” 

They burst out in laughter, reconvening even harder now, hip to hip contact. “Is that mean? I don’t wanna say that I think Niall’s fashion sense is bad, but like, I--I’m so mean,” Zayn scrunched up his nose. 

“Don’t feel sorry for him. He has his own charms, he and his new boo wouldn’t have been fucking at eight in the morning if he didn’t.” Harry ruffled his hair. “I like this haircut, it’s refreshing.” 

“I’m sorry I made you cut it.” 

“I don’t care that much about such things,” Harry patted Zayn’s head. “If I did, I wouldn’t have let you, would I?” 

Zayn bit the inside of his cheek. “I guess that logic does make sense. I still feel bad though.” 

Harry tutted, running up and turning to face Zayn, walking backwards. “What time is your flight tomorrow?” He asked Zayn, who looked down at his feet. 

“Actually, I’m leaving tonight, like you. So that I can make it by noon or whatever.” Zayn pulled Harry in before he backed into the street. “I’m not stalking you or anything.” 

“Um...okay! What flight are you on? Airline?” Harry moved Zayn so that he was on the inside of the sidewalk and he was walking on the street side. Zayn tried not to blush. “Emirates? 11:30?” He said tentatively, looking up and trying to see Zayn’s reaction.

 “I swear I’m not stalking you, I just...I just really wanted to like, you know,” 

“You know...what? First class?” Harry asked, bending down to get up and close into Zayn’s face. 

“Yes, first class.” 

“So that probably means that you just wanted to find the airline that would have seats left this late, huh? And Louis’ coming?” Harry tried not to laugh, if it was anyone else but Zayn, he’d be a little creeped out. But for some reason, he found this endearing. “How much did you spend? 10k?” 

“My...father has many credit cards,” Zayn breathed out with a laugh when Harry practically screeched. “Hey! Stop laughing at me!” 

“You do realize that I’m lying to you, right?” They were nearing the apartment again, and this time, Zayn stopped both of them in their tracks, looking right up at Harry. “I’m taking a connection flight; United Business class. Emirates first class would go straight through. You’ll get there before me.” 

“How did you guess that I was taking Emirates?”  Zayn sputtered, but he already knew the answer. “I mean, I guess it’s not that hard to figure out.” 

“It’s not like Zayn Malik is going to take Spirit Airlines, is he?” Harry shook his head, rubbing the back of Zayn’s neck with his thumb. “You probably did a lot of work, trying to find two seats this late. You probably paid an extra thousand dollars as well.” 

“Perhaps I was too ambitious.” They were at the building now, Harry’s new haircut glimmering with the sun behind him. “You’ll make it a promise that you’ll meet me? You won’t flake? You’ll stand up to my family with me?” 

“What reasons would I have to abandon you?” 

Zayn made a face at him, “I mean, for all sorts of reasons. You could literally just decide to not go, for one.” 

“And leave my mother to her own devices?” Harry brushed an eyelash off Zayn’s cheek, swiping underneath his face and up his chin. “She’d hunt me down, find out about everything I’d been up to these past two weeks. Does it seem like I’d want to start a war?” 

“I mean...uh--no. No.” Zayn bit his lip, feeling overwhelmed by the smell of oranges, peppermint, a hint of tobacco, a shit ton of spearmint, he just wanted to slam his face into Harry’s chest. 

“I’ll meet you in London, love. I can assure you that.” Harry pecked his lips again, and Zayn nearly moaned. 

“Don’t we need like, contact information, or something--” 

“I have Louis’ email.” Harry ruffled his hair. “I have to go now, better go do that laundry, start packing and stuff. Have a safe flight, Zayn.” 

As Harry walked away, it sounded like Zayn said something in the distance, but when he turned around, the boy had already gone upstairs. He realized that it was just another one of his memories, but so faint that it seemed to be carried away by the wind. Just a week ago, every time Harry would remember something, it’d blind him for a few seconds, thrash his head about. But now, it seemed that 1939 was leaving him. 

It was just past noon, the sun was still high up in the air, glorious and fiery, and all the plains had become vibrant in its wake. The trees swayed and pushed about patterns of hot air, the grasshoppers chirped, and the flowers were blooming all around campus. 

So Harry closed his eyes. Stood in the middle of the college courtyard, facing the sun and the sky, letting the colors around him whisper secrets of things that were settled long before our birth; hunting, bones, wind, love. It was almost as if it were all singing, a smooth melody that felt as though he was listening from underwater, like a siren call of the nature surrounding him. 

In his head, there was that forest again. The one where the walking path was made by the continuous stomping of galoshes and hunting boots, flattened earth and duff canvassing across the rich soil. He thought to himself about the day that Zayn dragged a man twice his size for many kilometers without ever stopping. Harry wondered what this feeling was, being able to sense that he was still in that forest from long ago, and he realized that it was the sun. 

The sun was the same. It was the same sun holding itself high above the world from 1939 and 2019, and it was she who was feeding the creatures and letting Harry into all the secrets of our universe. 

The sun said to Harry, “What a brave little boy you are,” and he couldn’t understand her words, with his eyes closed and facing the light, all he could see was pink and swirls of black and white. The music was changing, and just like a sunflower, Harry was facing the sun wherever it went. 

 


 

“Mom!” Gemma shouted, waving at their parents at the gate. “Dad!” Their dad got up from his seat, at least. The two siblings had just touched down in JFK and barely made it to their connecting flight with their parents. 

“Oh my Gem Gem Gem,” their dad exclaimed, bringing in his daughter into a large bear hug. “Oh, how I’ve missed you. You get any sleep on the flight?” 

“Just enough.” Gemma laughed, and they moved towards the Starbucks. Harry awkwardly stood there for a moment, in front of his mum, who was texting wildly on her phone. 

“Hi mum.” 

His mom looked Harry up and down before going back down to her emails. “Hi, Harry.” 

Harry kicked at his feet a little, then decided ‘fuck it’ and plopped down next to her and held out his arm. “Give it a sniff.” 

“What’s the meaning of this?” Anne twitched an eyebrow, getting closer to her son’s arm before retreating, an obvious frown evident on her face as she finalized the last sentence of her very important email. “That’s a bit odd.” 

“That’s all you have to say? ‘That’s a bit odd?’ Your son smells like he mated with somebody and you don’t have enough time to look up?” Harry didn’t want to get aggressive, but for some reason, he felt very aggravated. 

“Who’s the boy?” Anne asked, scrolling through more of her emails and inquires. “If you tell me his name, I can always just end it for you.” 

“I didn’t mate with anyone, mom.” Harry said to her plainly. “I did find someone, though. I really like him, I do.” 

“I’m aware of the CH theory, love bug.” Anne fixed her glasses, now erasing a lot of spam voicemails. “Very powerful person, is that safe to assume? Someone I’d like?” She finally took them off, turning to face Harry while resting her arm on the armrest. 

“I’m almost positive you’ve heard of him,” Harry said while nodding slowly. “His family just...incidentally happened to be very affluent, they have a very strong...presence, in England, if you will.” 

Anne shrugged. “I always knew Niall would settle for you.” 

“It’s not Niall.” Harry nearly gagged. Anne raised her brow again, the super intimidating one. 

“And this is someone I’d ‘positively’ know?” 

Harry nodded. She looked to the side. 

“I have some suspicions, but I lend to you the benefit of the doubt until we touch down. I better not be right.” His mom put her glasses back on again, turning and getting right back into her emails. 

“Caramel Macchiato for you, decaf green for mum, I think we’re set. They should be boarding soon, right?” Gemma looked up at the monitors. “Oh, we’re right on time!” 

Harry could feel his heart quicken inside his chest, how it was racing at the thought of his mum possibly having an explosive reaction. He knew that she was in deep thought, already canceling and sorting out the multiple possibilities that could be running through her head. It wouldn’t be long before she’s narrowed it down. He stayed dead silent even as they were seated, Gemma and mum on the left, him and dad in the center. One of the many perks of being able to afford First Class seating was that the second they were in the air, virtually no one could hear one’s conversations if they were a low whisper. 

“Did you tell her?” His dad asked, and Harry shook his head. “Oh, but she’s probably gotten close to figuring it out by now, hasn’t she?” Harry nodded. 

“Do you think she’ll disown me?” Harry asked very seriously, and his dad snorted. “Dad, I’m being really honest with you right now, this might do it for her.” 

“Harry, you are undoubtedly her favorite. She would never disown you, c’mon now.” He patted Harry’s arm, but he still wasn’t convinced for the next six hours. He barely got any sleep, no surprise there, as he had been getting terrible sleep for the past two weeks anyways. He fiddled on his monitors, watched three movies, shook his leg and clenched his jaw. 


 

“Why are we taking the flight at 11:30? I feel like shit,” Louis keeled over, bending his body over his luggage and groaning whilst upside down. 

“I thought it’d be easier than trying to wake you up at 5 AM.” Zayn lied, closing his eyes and trying to steady his breathing. “It’s first class Emirates, Lou, you can’t get much better than that.” 

“Oh, is this being charged to the joint account, are we? Or did you make the initial payment and I can just venmo you later?” Louis rubbed at his head, both boys were tired beyond belief. 

“You don’t have to pay me back, Lou. It wasn’t much.” Zayn suddenly felt very faint, so he rested his head on Louis’ shoulder the second he decided to sit back up. “Is it just me, or is it really hot in here?” 

“In the airport?” Louis immediately slapped a palm to Zayn’s forehead, and there was no fever. “Yes, I think it’s just you. You haven’t been eating much, have you? And your sleep schedule is all fucked up?” Louis began to pet Zayn’s hair, it was always the initial reaction. “You’ve caught a cold, you knob.” 

“Nah, I think I’m just a little nervous. About airplanes, you know.” Zayn leaned into Louis’ touch. “A little nauseous. I think I caught your cold, Louis. Remember? The one you got after you ran into the rain?”

“You don’t have to remind me. I think we can just ask a flight attendant for some Advil or something, because we’re boarding now.” 

“Okay,” Zayn breathed out, trying to be mindful of his surroundings, looking around the large airport while still holding onto Louis’ arm. “Okay.” 

“Do you remember those little jam cookies that my mum always had in the kitchen? I completely forgot about them, and now the craving for them is nearly overtaking me.” Louis was a little delirious, his mouth was dry and his mind was going in circles. They were in the air now, a couple hours in, the flight attendants, all of whom were poised, insanely gorgeous, and very nice, were passing out meals to the first-class on actual white ceramics. The cabin pressure was making Zayn dizzy and his ears were hurting. “But I guess it’s daft of me to be thinking about Jammy Dodgers when I’m being served steak on a plane. Right, Zaynie?” Louis looked over to him, and he saw how Zayn had his knuckles white by clenching on the seatrest, his entire body tense. The second Louis bridged the distance in between them and knelt on one knee in front of Zayn, touching his face with the back of his hand, Zayn’s eyes shot open. 

“Hey, hey, it’s okay. It’s just me,” Louis felt his forehead, which was burning. So hot that he had to retreat his hand after two seconds. “Fuck, I don’t want to ask this, but you’ve been taking your supressants this week, right?” 

Zayn immediately began to panic, and with enough space for two of them Louis crawled in and wrapped his arms around him. “Fuck, I completely forgot, fuck fuck fuck—“ 

“It’s aight, mate. Don’t worry.” Louis kissed his head, then asked for a flight attendant to come over, letting them know the situation. An announcement was made that all passengers in the first-class had to wear masks for the next two hours, which embarrassed Zayn greatly, and he began physically shaking when a tall, slender, model-like attendant approached them with a white kit. 

“Hi, My name is Samara, and I’m the doctor on flight today.” Zayn literally wanted to die. “So, the typical procedure is just one quick shot, we’ll give you a change of clothes when we touch down, and you should be good for the rest of the day.” 

“The shot? Like, the shot? The one that literally feels like my arm is being sawed in half?” At least the people next to them were trying to act like they weren’t paying attention. 

The shot that Zayn is referring to is well, a large cocktail of different medications to the point that no one actually knows what’s in it anymore, just that it works. (Most everyone had a different opinion as to what was actually inside it, but no one has actually cared enough to analyze it properly.) If an omega does not take their suppressants prior to week of their heat, the shot is the last measure in an emergency situation. Zayn’s a lazy ass, so he has experienced the pain of omega tranquilizer at least five times before. It’s one of the worst experiences in the world, but still better than experiencing a heat alone. 

“Any allergies…?” Samara was expertly fixing on a pair of blue gloves, another attendant helping her lay down supplies. 

“Are the masks really necessary?” Zayn whimpered when they tied the rubber on his arm, jumping a little when she prepped the area with alcohol. It was so cold to the point that he even yelped at her a bit, trying to get away instinctively. 

“It’s just a precaution to keep you safe, Mr. Malik. Once the plane’s filters have gone through whatever may be in the air, we will make another announcement.” Samara, like a fierce tigress, grabbed Zayn’s arm and held it down with immense strength, efficiently finding his vein and stabbing the needle in. Zayn convulsed his body a bit, wincing when she pulled it out and pressed gauze harshly down onto the area. Louis patted his hand in support, the other attendant quickly covering him with a blanket. As she was cleaning up and throwing the biohazardous materials into their respective bins, she looked up at Louis. “Are you alright, sir?” she asked, looking at Louis’ face. The latter nodded, and she hesitantly left them. 

“Holy shit, that looked like it hurt,” Louis cackled, Zayn crumbling on top of him. They pushed away the arm rests for more space (as if they needed more) so that they could cuddle. Zayn nonsensically murmured, eyes half closed and his arm was already starting to bruise. “Fuckkkk,” Louis inspected the mark, and although it was prettily covered with a pretty Little Mermaid bandaid, the bruise’s circumference was already encircling way past it. “She got you good.” 

“I hate you, stop making fun of me.” Zayn’s cheek was squished, so the words were intelligible. “I wish Harry was here.” 

Louis snorted, “So that he could fuck you in the airplane bathroom?” Zayn glared at him. 

“No, that he could just cuddle me without being such a dick about it.” 

“I told you to take your meds, all of them.” Louis licked a stripe up Zayn’s face, causing an annoyed-beyond-belief groan to escape, he had no energy to fight back. “There’s only a couple hours left before we touch down, babe. Just sleep, yeah?” 

It would be a lie if Zayn was to say that he didn’t fall asleep with the mental image in his head of Harry fucking him in the airplane bathroom. But Louis didn’t need to know that. 


 

“Must you always come home to me like this, meri jaan?” Before he knew it, he was in his baba’s arms, they must’ve called someone because it seemed like Louis went home. “Incoherent?” 

“Stop making fun, the lot of you.” Zayn’s eyelids felt like sandbags. “Hi, baba.” 

“Oh, they got you good,” Safaa was in the doorway and laughed lowly at the sight of him. “Someone forgot their suppies,” she mocked in a singsong voice, and if Zayn had the energy, he would’ve clocked her in the face right then and there. 

“Safaa, leave your brother alone.” Trisha’s face softened when she locked eyes on her boy, all small and crumpled up in his dad’s arms. “Welcome home, my love,” They placed him on his bed, wrapping him up like a burrito and tucking him in. “Go back to sleep, babe. We’ll be here when you wake up. 

The world was fuzzy and unstable, but warm and comforting as his mum sat at the side of his bed, petting his hair and tucking it all behind his ear. 

He took a 27 hour nap, basically. 


 

“Hi mum,” Louis dropped his bags at the door and his mum wrapped her arms around him. “Missed you.” 

“Missed you too,” Johanna pulled back, holding his face in her hands to inspect. “You look terrible. What happened?” 

And Louis could lie and say that he just didn't get enough sleep, maybe tell a half-truth that he was on his usual bullshit, or maybe he could just say nothing at all. Instead, the response to her question literally poured out of him without his consent, quick tears racing down his face. 

“Oh, Louis. What happened?” Johanna had only seen her son cry twice. Once was when he was born, and the second time was when he left for America. He had not uttered a single sound in between those times or after. 

“Mama, I’m sorry,” Louis’ voice was high and broken, and they walked over to the nearest seat in the house. “I’m sorry I yelled at you last time.” 

“We both know that to you, us having an argument is not a good enough reason to cry,” She began doing that thing where she began to massage the base of Louis’ neck, he was shaking, he was. “You know that I can see through every one of your lies, so don’t even bother coming up with something.” 

“Liam and I have been dating for the last fourteen years.” They shifted so that now Louis’ head was on her lap, looking right up at her face from below. “It’s not a lie, my eye didn’t twitch, see?” 

“I know that’s not a lie, I’ve known that for quite a while, you dummy,” Johanna clicked her tongue, shooting him a sly smile when he looked up in confusion. “Did you break things off?” 

“Yeah, yeah I did.” It came out as a whisper, and Johanna cooed at it, rubbing his face with her thumb. “And I had a miscarriage.” She froze. 

“When?” Her voice was light, Louis was looking more and more pale as the minutes passed. 

“A couple months ago, around the time we fought.” 

“Come here, my love,” Johanna pulled him up into a child’s embrace, nestling him in her arms in a way that he hadn’t allowed her to do since he was a year old. “My smart boy.” 

“This isn’t my body anymore,” Louis closed his eyes. 

“You cannot say that, Louis, and you know it. You’ve been through quite a bit of trauma, quite a bit of...unstable circumstances. How clean are you?” 

“I had some vodka yesterday, since we’re being honest here.” Louis told her. “I think it was Liam’s. I think. But I guess it doesn’t matter anymore.” 

“Was it actually a serious thing? Knowing you, I thought that you were either just messing with him the whole time or you two were just really good friends.” Johanna’s words were harsh, but no malice intended. 

Louis’ breaths were slowing. “Mum, I think I really loved him.” 

“Louis? You alright, babe?” His mom tapped on his cheek, and no response. “Have you fallen asleep, Lou?” The second she got closer, her heart dropped. 

He wasn’t breathing. 


 

By the time Zayn woke up, it was dark outside. He couldn’t move the right side of his body, so with a few determined wiggles and propelling himself off the bed, he reached his back pocket, pulling out his phone with his working hand. 

It was the next day, well, night. Zayn had slept for more than a day. 

“I thought I heard you scuffling about,” Safaa walked in with no warning, causing a jump. “Drink water, you’re dehydrated.” 

“Fuck off,” Zayn mumbled, but still letting her feed him some water anyways. “My head fucking hurts.” 

“Don’t curse at home, stupid bitch. If baba hears you, it’s over.” She replied to him, and the both of them started laughing. “Welcome back, hoe.” 

“I’m happy to be here.” 

“You smell weird. Like now that the shot’s worn off and everything, I just wanted to let you know.” Safaa smiled at him sweetly and Zayn slumped back down into his bed. 

“Go away, Saf-ass.” 

“Who is it? They’re gonna find out anyways, so you might as well just tell me.” Like the good little sister she was, she began to massage his right leg, cracking his knee unceremoniously and loosening up his joints. She pulled him up and did the same for his shoulder, knocking all the air out of his lungs. 

Zayn coughed a little right when she started to hit at his back, so after taking his moment to choke to death, he said, “It’s someone that mum will not like.” 

“Mum likes everybody, the only person she well and truly hates is Anne Selley-Styles, who lives in America.” Safaa laughed, but stopped when Zayn didn’t say anything. “Oh my god. It can’t be the daughter, so...the son! The son! You mated with Anne’s son! Oh my god, you’re SO DEAD, this is amazing—“ 

“Listen, you little shit.” He pinned her down with his good arm, but because she was much stronger than him, she basically just thrashed him about. “You’ll say nothing. You understand me? Fuckin’ nothing.” 

“Okay okay,” Safaa sat up, brushing out her hair and spinning around. “By the way, Louis’ mom called earlier, I don’t know what it was about, but mum seemed really worried and so she left.” 

“Did something happen?” 

“I think something about Louis, but I wasn’t listening too hard.” 

“Okay, you asshole. He’s your godfather, just remember that and care a little more.” Zayn forced himself up, tripping and falling right before he could make it to the door. “Ah, fuck.” 

“Zayn? Is that you?” They heard their baba out in the hallway, and Zayn shot a look at Safaa that seemed to be along the lines of ‘help me.’ 

“No, it’s just me, baba!” Safaa ran out, stubbing Zayn’s toe with the door as she did so, closing it behind her. “I just wanted to check in on him, but he’s still very much asleep. I don’t think we should bother him.” 

After the pain in his foot subsided and he mucked up the energy to do so, he dragged himself back over to his bed to grab his phone. He called his mum immediately, huffing when she didn’t answer the first time. He tried again, and it worked the second time. 

“Zayn? Are you awake, love? Oh, babe, this is some terrible timing,” He heard some shuffling, the voices of many people talking all at once. “Erm, I don’t...okay. Babe, I don’t want to stress you out or anything, but I have to let you know that Louis’ in the hospital right now.” 

Zayn’s body froze. “Is-Is he okay?” 

“They’ve got a pulse, but, they do think he’s suffered from hypoxia. No one really knows what’s happened, it sounded like it could be a number of things.” Trisha sighed, and Zayn could imagine her pinching the bridge of her nose right about now. “I’m here with his mum, and maybe you and baba could come to the hospital in a bit.”

“Hypoxia? Hy…isn’t that brain damage?” Zayn’s voice broke, he was beginning to go into a panic attack. “Mum, is he even still alive?” 

“Yes, babe. Just breathe, sweetheart. Once they’ve got him stable, I’ll call you back.” 

When the call ended, the walls of his room were already starting to close in. He could hear his heart beating faster and faster, overpowering all other sounds from outside. It got to the point where he couldn’t hear himself hyperventilating, but when he fell over, he got a hold of himself. There was no time to be a pussy in this situation. Just calmly explain everything to his father and quickly go see Louis. What will he say? “Oh, I know it smells like I’ve been mated with someone but it’s nothing really, I’ve just been messing around with the intensely hormonal son of mum’s worst enemy.” No biggie, yeah, no biggie. But then what will he say if baba asks him how they met? It didn’t matter now, Louis needed him. “Baba!” He yelled at the top of his lungs, he was still very much on the floor where Safaa had left him, and thirty seconds later, the sound of footsteps gradually closed in on him. The bedroom door opened. 

“Meri jaan? You awake? Where are you--oh, there you are.” His dad looked around to the other side of the bed where Zayn was slumped over. “Oh, jaan.” He kneeled down, pulling Zayn up. “How are you feeling?” 

“I know about LouisandIhavesomethingtoconfesstoyou.” Zayn blubbered, nearly dry heaving when he realized how dry his throat was. “I smell different because I met someone who’s quite high on the 1-100 scale, and I really like him and his family’s in London, I swear I didn’t mate with anyone, you can give me a sniff if you’d like, have I mentioned that I did not mate with anybody?” He held up his good arm and nearly decked his father’s face with it. “Ah, sorry, baba.” 

“And who is this person? Is it serious? Are your mum and I going to meet him? Did you meet him at school? What does he study?” The string of questions began to erupt, but Zayn, still hyperventilating, was not having it. 

“Itdoesn’tmatterrightnow. I mean, yes, you can meet him, but please take me to the hospital. I need to see Lou, baba. Please, please.” 

“Zayn,” his dad started, trying to calm him down. “Oh, jaan, please don’t cry.” 

“I have to see him, oh my god, fuck, fuck. Fuck. Louis’...Louis.” Zayn’s vision was going white. He didn’t even care that he was cursing right in front of his dad right now. “We have to go, we have to go.” 

“I will take you to see him, but you have to eat something first--” Zayn wanted to interrupt him, but his dad firmly continued, “You need to take your meds so that you don’t have a panic attack while you’re there. It wouldn’t be good energy to spread, especially with his mum. Okay, jaan?” His father always did have a knack for saying everything softly, concisely, persuading-ly. 

“Mama said that...that he got hypoxia or something. They don’t know what happened.” Zayn’s breaths deepened. “What could’ve happened that he lost oxygen to his brain for that long?” 

“Was he okay before all of this?” His dad asked, standing up and helping Zayn to do the same. “Have you noticed anything weird?” 

“He had a cold and so he was really tired these past few days. I didn’t...I didn’t think…” 

“This is not your fault, Zayn. For all we know, it could be something that was dormant for a long time, anything. What’s important is that he’s alive, and they’re working to get him stabilized. I talked to mama a little bit ago, she said that it seemed like things were going well.” 

“I’ll eat toast and my meds on the way.” Zayn walked out, in the same clothes that he flew in. “


 

Hi, Liam. Just wanted to let you know that I’m going to be staying a few nights at the house, Johanna had an emergency just when their dad dropped off the twins, so someone needs to watch them for the weekend. 

Did something happen? 

Not too sure on the details, but it did sound like Louis came home today. That’s about it. 

Oh. Alright. I’ll see you later then. 

Yes, I’ll see you later. 


 

To try and describe the feeling that Zayn had in his chest, it’d be a feat that could only be possible if Athena came down to write it herself. One side of his body felt numb, and the other side felt jittery, confused, startled, and waves of dread would drown him every few minutes. 

London looked the same; gray. It smelled the same; mildewy. The sun wasn’t out today, so the entire ride to the hospital had a blue-grayish ambience, Zayn making the insides of his cheek bleed and his chapped lips stretch out. In his mind, he thought of nothing but how stupid he had been the last few days, leaving Louis alone multiple times, never being there when it counted. Ditching him for Harry every second that he could, and if we really wanted to go there, he began to blame himself for downplaying how serious Louis’ state actually was. Zayn was only thinking about himself the entire time. And now his most brilliant best friend has suffered brain damage, to what degree was uncertain. 

Baba held his hand like he was a baby as they walked in together, the sounds of the hospital making him want to puke. Wheels rolling, machines beeping, families crying. He looked over to the ICU, seeing a little girl leave with her mum in absolute tears. She looked terrified. Zayn was terrified too, and he wanted to tell her that it would all be okay, making short eye contact with him before she was led out the door. 

His mama walked out to meet them, instantly reaching for Zayn’s face, but he couldn’t even think to hug her back. The alarm of not being able to cry after you’ve taken anxiety medication could be comparable to falling on your head from a great height. First, nothing. Then, extreme internal panic. He heard her say some words to him, but it sounded extremely far away. His mind was clouded with the repeating thought in his head that Louis would hate to die on a gloomy day, and it repeated over and over, even as he was gently led to him. Zayn immediately broke into a dry sob, and suddenly, Johanna was there, hugging him too. 

Louis was surrounded by machines, all flashing different things and moving in different ways. His entire body was limp, propped up onto the bed in a way that simulated an alive person sleeping, and an oxygen mask that was almost too big for his face. 

“He’s actually doing quite well, erm,” Johanna stuttered softly, sitting down next to her son. “He’s been going in and out of his coma, talking a little bit, moving too.” 

“Well, that’s good, yeah?” His baba sat down next to her, offering her a hand to squeeze. Their friendship was unbreakable. Zayn almost felt jealous; his friendship was on the brink of being torn apart. Without any words, he reached over from the other side, taking a moment to stare at the body before him. He stood completely still, his eyes just fixated at Louis, not making a single sound. At some point, his mum told him that they were going to take Johanna home and that she’d be right back. Zayn stood in the same place even as nurses would periodically come to check on all the machines, staring directly to see if Louis’ chest was going up and down. 

An unknown amount of time passed, and Louis began to stir. Some of the most dormant machines beeped as though they came back to life, and Zayn snapped out of his trance. “Lou? Lou, hi.” He went up on his tiptoes and peered over Louis’ face, which was slightly twitching in some areas. Louis reached up a hand to try and take the mask off, mumbling something. A nurse rushed to help him take it off, writing something down after looking at all the monitors. Louis was trying to steady himself in some way, turning his head before looking right at Zayn. 

“Louis, it’s me.” Zayn whispered, gently touching the side of his face. “Oh, jesus fuck you fucking scared me, you fucking asshole.” 

“Hey,” Louis’ voice sounded rough, and couldn’t make eye contact very well. “You’re pretty cute.” 

Zayn let out a little laugh, “Do you know what’s happening right now? Where you are?” 

“‘M in the hospital,” Louis mumbled. “You wanna date?” 

“You know my name?” Zayn asked, moving his hand to grab Louis’. 

“Zayn,” Louis replied, smiling a tiny bit as his head rolled back and forth. “You’re cute.” 

Zayn looked up at the doctor, wondering if this was normal. She seemed to know exactly his concern when she said, “Don’t worry, he’s just a little out of it. I doubt he’ll even remember anything about today.” Zayn looked back at Louis, his bottom lip shaking. 

“I love you, you idiot.” 

“Woah there,” Louis had the nerve to joke, “Too fast.” He slumped a little bit, closing his eyes just as the nurse fixed the oxygen mask back onto his face, slowly going back to sleep. Zayn flashed another look at the doctor, who was still assessing different parts of Louis’ body. 

“What...what exactly happened?” His voice sounded so meek, he hated himself. 

The doctor sighed, pulling back and getting her gloves off. “Well, we have a couple ideas. But the main issue was that he had a blood clot in one of his main arteries in his heart.” She drew Zayn a diagram of a circle with a couple of tube-like things going through it. “This artery was clogged, and so by the time it stopped providing adequate blood flow to the brain, he sustained some nerve damage as it tried to turn off multiple organs to compensate. He lost oxygen, and he did go through a bit of hypoxia. Other than that, we’ll do a procedure that’ll unclog the artery, which we didn’t start with because the first pressing issue was that he couldn’t breathe. He’s stabilized to a satisfactory amount, to be transparent with you. He’s a fighter, and things are definitely looking up just by how quickly he’s come to.” 

“Thank you,” Zayn’s voice was getting quieter and quieter. The doctor nodded at him and left the room. 


 

It has been three days since the Styles family had touched down in London. Harry had been thoroughly kissed, pinched, inappropriately groped by every family member that had come to the estate. He’s had time to go out with his sister, do the typical elitist bullshit you do when you’re in London, but he had emailed Louis a few hours ago with no response. 

His mother was avoiding him, obviously so. Harry attributed it to her probably having realized that there were few boys in London with the criteria Harry teased. Or maybe she just didn’t know what to say, and perhaps that was why Harry didn’t really didn’t want to resent her for it. 

But then three more weeks passed, with not a single response from Louis, or Zayn, for that matter. The entire family had caught on to Harry’s different scent, wouldn’t Zayn’s family have too? He tried not to worry about it as he picked Niall up from the airport, who had to first settle things with his mother before he could afford to get his plane ticket. ‘Positively drained,’ if you remember. They did the traditional youth activities, drinking and smoking at various clubs all over the city, road racing at night, running about during the day. 

“So uh, you meeting Zayn soon?” Niall popped the question one morning, they were sitting in one of the dining rooms at Harry’s. The latter looked up, wondering if Niall knew how antsy he had been about the topic. “I thought you guys were gonna like, do this whole relationship scheme with his family. Hasn’t it been almost a month?” 

“I dunno, man. I emailed Louis and stuff, because I don’t know if they have an international phone plan, right, but no word from them. I’m starting to think that maybe I should’ve asked for Zayn’s first, but they’re so close to the point where they probably read each other’s emails, so I don’t really understand what’s going on.” Harry scratched at his neck. 

“Is it possible,” Niall paused to drink some tea. “That you were played?” 

Harry flung a piece of toast at his face. 


 

“Mushy peas, Zaynie. They’re fucking feeding me mushy peas, no wonder I’m still here.” Louis gagged, closing the container of green goo that was on his beige plastic tray. “This is all a scam, purposefully trying to poison their patients so that the hospital gets more money.” 

“Ooh, you caught me.” The nurse said dryly, changing his fluids bag and writing down the updated beep-boops from all the machines. 

“It can’t be that bad, Lou.” Zayn picked at the substance with the fork provided. “It beats dying, remember that.” He looked at Louis seriously, who rolled his eyes. 

“I wouldn’t have died, you queen. I’m much too valuable for that. If I died, the scale of pleasant and unpleasant things in this world would be thrown off balance.” Louis made hand  motions of a balance. “And then where would we be, with an excess of--” 

“Pleasant things? I think we’d all be quite jolly.” Zayn smirked, the grimace that Louis wore in reaction was worth the smartness. “You’re one of the lucky bastards, probably hid under a rock from the grim reaper.” 

“That I did.” Louis began to feel tired again, so he laid back, trying to focus on deep breaths. “That I did.” 

“We’ll get there, Lou. You and me, like we always have. Even if it means I have to shove mushy peas down your throat to make you stronger.” 

“I think I really took L.A’s food options for granted, I was too spoiled there with the culinary excellence. I forgot that people here literally eat toast in between two slices of toast.” Louis let Zayn feed him a bite of the rest of the goo, looking extremely displeased but swallowed it all the same. “Shouldn’t you go home?” 

“And leave you alone? No, not a chance.” Zayn grabbed his best friend’s hand, eyebrows crinkling in worry. His lips were chapped from biting the skin off of them this last month, coupled with days that Zayn would go without drinking any water. “I’m never leaving you alone again.” 

“My mum will be here in like, five minutes. You look like shit. Go home.” Louis squeezed his hand, and Zayn really tried not to notice how weak his grip was. “I’m doing better, yeah? I’m not gonna die again.” 

Zayn’s eyes began to water, Louis groaning at the sight of it. “You were dead for like a whole two minutes,” Zayn’s bottom lip began to quiver. 

“Oh no, not the lip. Babe, I’m okay. I’m right in front of you. But your body’s stressed out too, okay? Please sleep in an actual bed.” Just as Louis said that, Johanna walked in with a basket of food, Louis hurrahed at the sight. “Oh, and Zaynie?” 

“Yeah?” Zayn was bent over while packing up his things. 

“I forgot, but, I think you should check my email for me when you get home. You remember the password, yeah?” Louis kissed his mother when she pulled out a pack of Jammy Dodgers. 

“Yeah, yeah I do.” Zayn had completely forgotten about Harry from all the strain that was placed on him lately. He figured that Harry would be worried, so on the ride home, he quickly signed into Louis’ email account on his phone, and sure enough, past all the spam emails from multiple different porn and sugar baby websites, there was an email from a certain Harry S. Styles. “Well, shit.” 

He tapped on it, and it was Harry asking when they’d like to meet, almost a full month ago now. Zayn cringed because this did not look good on his part. For all Harry knows, Zayn could’ve just ghosted him, so after thinking about it for a second, he typed up a reply. 

Hi, this is Lou. Had a family emergency, so just got back to using my phone. Do you have an international cell phone plan? 

Zayn sent it, the app making its endearing little ‘whoosh’ sound. He held his phone in his lap, twiddling his thumbs over the black screen. Just as the taxi was nearing his house, the phone beeped in a reply. That was really fast, Harry. Someone clearly doesn’t care about looking desperate. 

-

Yes, I do. 

Almost as if it were timed, Harry called Zayn at the exact moment his mama let him into the house (he must have deduced that if ‘Louis’ was asking if Harry had an int. phone plan, then both Louis and Zayn had an int. phone plan, allowing him to call right about now), Zayn nearly dropped his phone in surprise. He did, actually, but Trisha caught it. 

“Oh, who’s Harry? She teased, answering the call for him and putting it to his ear. “Hello, this is Zayn’s mum, and who might you be?” She expertly dodged all of Zayn’s attempts to snatch his phone back. It took about three seconds before her joking smile began to fall, and her gaze quickly looked towards Zayn. “Hold on a mo, dear. I just realized who you were.” She ended the call abruptly, raising an eyebrow at Zayn. “Did I just speak to Anne Styles’ son?” 

“Who?” Zayn hiccuped, he always hiccuped when he lied. 

“I’ve met him before a couple years ago at an event in New York, just before he left for college, she was parading him around like some kind of trophy. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but later realized that he was going to the same college as you. I’ve heard that voice before.” Trisha placed a hand on her hip, Zayn hiccuped again. “Is he the reason why you’ve been smelling off?” 

“I--mama,” Zayn began to plead when she calmly walked away from him. “Listen, I meant to tell you--” 

“Zayn, I’m afraid I’m a bit too tired to do this right now. Just, just--” 

“I didn’t do it because I wanted to upset you in any way, I actually didn’t even know who he was when I met him, neither of us did, we only just found out like, right before we flew to London.” He followed her down the hallway. “Mama, you can’t be mad at me. Please.” 

“Of all the boys in the world, Zayn.” Her voice was gentle, but her eyes didn’t show it at all. She handed him his phone back. “There are reasons why we stay away from that family.” 

“What are the reasons?” Zayn asked, but she closed her office door. He wanted to pound on the door, barge in maybe, but for some reason, his instincts defied him as he began to cry. He gave up, walking back towards the main entrance, where Safaa was waiting for him on the staircase. 

“Oh, you little shit, you scared me,” Zayn groaned, initially walking past her. “And no, I don’t want to talk about it.” 

“I know the reason, by the way. Why we don’t affiliate with the Styleses anymore.” Safaa casually mentioned, sprawled out on the stairs in a way that most definitely couldn’t be comfortable, but she made it look natural nonetheless. What she said worked, as she knew it would. Zayn turned right back around. “If I tell you, you have to give me something in return.” 

“It depends on what you want.” 

“A pot brownie?” 

“Fuuuuuck no.” Zayn rolled his eyes at her, but she stopped him again. “Saf-ass, there is no way you’re going to convince me.” 

“Just a corner of a pot brownie. Please, Zaynie, please, it’s for an experiment, to see whether or not I get even smarter when fucked up.” Safaa put her hands together in a begging motion. “It’s a good deal, considering that I’m about to let you in one perhaps the biggest family secret of all time.” 

They did a stare down for a few seconds, before Zayn sharply inhaled, “How the hell do you know more about this Styles v. Malik business than me?” 

“I know a lot of things that you don’t know about, brother. That’s probably why they left me more in the will.” 

“Excuse me? What the fuck did you just say, you little shit?” Zayn ran after her, but after a couple of minutes, he had to stop because the world was spinning. “Oh, fuck off.” He lightly pushed her when she slumped beside him, immediately beginning to press at the base of his neck. “I thought I told you to fuck off.” 

“Let me help you, jackass. I took Biology. I know what doing this does.” She continued, Zayn’s breath steadying. “Your arm still hurts, doesn’t it? From the shot?” She pulled at his arm, the joints cracking and expertly popped his elbow. “You’re not healing very well because you’re not eating and drinking very well. But of course, this isn’t shit you don’t know already. Maybe having a powerful, handsome alpha around will do the trick.” She clicked her tongue, and Zayn rolled his eyes at her. 

“Fuck. Fine. Half an inch by half an inch.” 

“One inch by one inch.” 

“Three-quarters of an inch by three-quarters of an inch, and that’s final.” Zayn let her help him stand up, Safaa always had a talent for things like this. Zayn would never admit it out loud, but sometimes he thinks that she could easily surpass him. 

“May I direct you to the library, dear brother?” She flew down another hallway, waiting for Zayn to catch up every two seconds. “No, not that one. This room right here.” 

“It’s locked, Saf. It’s been locked all our lives, even when Doniya still lived with us.” Zayn tried to reason, but Safaa quickly pulled a pin out of her hair, pressing her ear against the door right under the lock. Within two minutes, she had the room unlocked and Zayn stunned. They tiptoed in, and gently closed the door behind them. 

“I first got in here when you guys left for America, I was so bloody bored I decided to go through all the rooms of this house. Did you know that there are life-sized porcelain dolls in the attic? Shit’s creepy as hell. Here, put these gloves on.” Safaa scurried around, it was clear that she had frequented this room many times.  “It’s our family archives, precious articles of literature that we own, etc. This room is even temperature-controlled, see?” She pointed to the digital thermometer just above the door. “We’re getting serious now.” 

“Are you really saying that the secret as to why our mum and Harry’s mum rip each other’s hair out at parties is in this room?” He sounded unconvinced, but his little sister was too cute sometimes in her wild spontaneity. Perhaps this was her equivalent of a princess tea party. 

“So, like, a lot of people think that the name Malik is this super ancient pack that began thousands of years ago, but actually, we only took that name recently. The ancestors that we’re related to are from our paternal side, an assimilated family called The Smiths. The name “Malik” came directly from our great-grandmother Aisha. She was like the matriarch because when her husband, a Smith, got into deep shit for some shady art dealing back in the day, they took her last name instead.” She gently began to run her gloved fingers over the spines of multiple books, trying to find a specific one. “You’re named after our great uncle, did you know that?” 

“I didn’t know, actually.” Zayn peered over her shoulder. “Did he write all of these books?" He pointed to a particularly important-looking shelf. 

“Yeah, they’re his poetry anthologies. But he was most famous for these series of letters that were published weekly in this magazine at the time. We’re the last legal owners of these copies. Look here, dated 1942. Sick.” She showed Zayn, who was indeed impressed by such a find. “I don’t really know if it’s true or not, but after reading all his stuff, I think the reason why Styleses and Maliks don’t mix is that once upon a time, our great uncle was mates with Harry’s… great uncle? I think? Yeah, yeah that makes sense.” 

“What happened?” Zayn asked in a whisper, the both of them kept on anxiously looking at the door in case anyone could hear them inside. “Why is there such bad blood?” 

“Well, they were in love, right, but then when the Blitz struck London in World War Two, they got caught up trying to save a bunch of kids from this orphanage. Zayn made it out, but Harry didn’t.” 

“What? His name was also Harry?” Zayn asked loudly, Safaa slamming her hand over his mouth. 

“I know, right? It’s so freaky, elite families reusing names and shit. Look, there was a Louis Tomlinson back in the day too.” She showed him the line of a poem. “Zayn’s whole body got disfigured, his immune system was so shot that he caught tuberculosis and died two months after the incident. But hey, the building literally fell on top of him and he decided there was enough time to publish four books.” 

“That’s pretty badass,” Zayn let out a laugh, but his smile faltered. “I guess I don’t really live up to his name, huh?” 

“Hey, you’re strong in your own ways.” Safaa elbowed his arm. “Letting a building fall on you isn’t the only way to prove that you’re tough. Anyways...Harry didn’t survive. That’s why it all kinda went to shit after that, and now the Selley-Styleses and Horans have combined, reached out into this weird Western Hemisphere diaspora, and are powerful in other areas of the world. Imagine hating a family so much you’d be willing to move your whole pack out of the country. The Maliks and Tomlinsons ended up being good friends along the way.” 

“I guess the past Harry was really special.” Zayn shrugged, and just before they could look further into the actual contents of some of these books, they heard the front door open and close, followed by his baba’s voice ringing through the halls that he was home. “Shit, put it away!” The two of them scrambled to put things back where they found them, slipping off their gloves and pressing their ears on the door to hear whether or not someone was passing by. Safaa opened the door and popped her head out. 

“The coast is clear.” They scampered out, Zayn immediately running upstairs. 

He had grabbed the newspaper and tucked it under his shirt when Safaa wasn’t looking. He knew there were at least three more copies of the same edition, so he didn’t feel that bad about it. In his room, he opened up the drawer of his bedside table and gingerly tucked the newspaper inside, terrified that it was going to rip. 

As he left to greet his baba downstairs, the late morning sun rose and lit up the room.  The sunlight coming from the window pointed directly at that nightstand. Some might say that it was almost like magic. 








Chapter Text

When Zayn’s mom hung up on him, a wave of anxiety rushed about in Harry’s system. Did she find out? Was Zayn in trouble because of him? He decided that it would be a bad idea to call him again, and that he would try again later after there was a buffer of time. Perhaps Zayn could talk later. 

A little bit of him wanted to believe that Niall was right, he was played. His feelings were strung up and now he’s hanging on by a loose thread to something that might have not been real.

But it had to be, didn’t it? Why did the universe have Harry meet up with Zayn again in the first place if it was all just going to be some kind of practical joke? Harry wanted to ponder more on it, but his thoughts were pushed aside when he saw his mom come walking towards him, making direct eye contact while perfectly pacing her high-heeled steps in his direction. It was almost like a tiger stalking its prey, but Harry would never dare to tell her that. 

“Son, I think it’s time that you and I had a talk.” Anne stopped right in front of him, waiting until Harry stood up. 

“About what, mom?” Harry asked tensely, unable to meet her stare. “About the bomb that I dropped a month ago? Are you going to stop blatantly ignoring me?” 

Anne decided not to push it, so she just continued with what she had to say. “I’ve thought a lot about this relationship with the person you’re obviously infatuated with, tried to think who’d you even be remotely interested in. The criteria you laid out for me was very telling in the end, either a Tomlinson or a Malik. Neither is acceptable.” 

Harry swallowed, and in the spur of the moment, his eye line twitched to join the staring contest. “Mum, I didn’t tell you because I needed permission or anything,” Harry started, but Anne turned around and began to walk while beginning a new sentence, Harry following after her in annoyance. 

“I was thinking so hard as to why you called me that day, going on about how you are a disappointment.” Anne led Harry into her office, sitting down with him on the couch. “Was it because you knew that I’d find out eventually, due to your smell changing?” Harry shook his head. 

“I called you because I needed to remind myself how much I love you, how I don’t want to resent you, mum. That’s the truth.” Harry fiddled with his hands, so Anne grabbed them to make him stop. “I’ve known for a long time that I didn’t turn out the way you wanted.” 

Anne didn’t say a word, and this usually meant that she wanted to have Harry say his entire piece before her rebuttal. Harry started shaking his leg, and she pressed down on that, too. It was one of her many teachings, not to show signs of weakness when you’re having a conversation that bared your soft underside. Harry knew this because it was all she ever taught him growing up. How to put up a facade. 

“His name is Zayn,” Harry’s voice was meek. “And I think we’re meant to be together.” 

Anne flinched, taking in a deep breath and she looked away from Harry. “Of course, it’d be the Malik, of all people.” She gritted her teeth. 

“Why do you hate them? What did they do to create such animosity? Why didn’t anyone ever tell me about it?” Harry flung all his questions at her, and before she could answer, he added another bit in, “I fell in love with Zayn before I knew who his family was. Same with him, he probably didn’t even know that I existed.” 

“I’ll have you know that I do not hate, Harry. Hate is a word that murders entire countries, maims people, oppresses people. I do not hate.” Anne said it nonchalantly, and her answer was so poignant that Harry began to feel a little silly about his choice of wording. “We stay away from those families because they are bad luck. In the past, business deals with them have always sunk, blood has been spilled, and a lot of pain has ensued every time we try to make amends. At this point, it’s the courteous thing to do on both our parts to keep the sections of our worlds separated.” Anne exhaled. “That’s why I cannot let you go through with this relationship. In fact, the changed nature of your scent is fading, so with a little more time, you’ll be back to normal.” 

Harry stood up. “Mom, I can’t agree with you. I’m sorry that I can’t be on the same page as you again, but some things are meant to be challenged. Why not let us challenge this...this curse?” His mom did not stand up, did not try to fight him. 

“You will get hurt, Harry. Or, it’ll hurt the rest of our pack. We have Niall’s family depending on us to not take any chances when it comes to the preservation of our institutions. You have expectations as the future pack leader that need to be upheld. I’m sorry, but I’m not going to let a summer fling threaten our security.” When she realized that she was starting to raise her voice, she recollected herself by looking away from Harry. 

At that point, Harry just left, walking out of the western wing, up the stairs to his London bedroom. He wasn’t angry, nor sad, but a dull pain was growing inside of him, and so he laid on his bed and stared at the ceiling. It was frustrating, of course, but Harry knew that if Zayn felt the same way as he did, nothing would be able to stop them. 


 

Zayn woke up to Waliyha softly nudging him awake, Safaa doing the same from the other side of the bed. When he finally came to from his moments of exhaustion, he squinted at who was bothering him so. When he saw that his sister was home, his grin couldn’t be contained. “Hi, Wali.” 

“Hi, Zaynie-kins,” she laughed softly, giving him space to stretch and fully awake. “Saf was right, you look like shit.” 

“Thanks, that’s so nice of you to say,” He rolled his eyes, sitting up and realizing that his hair was sticking up in all sorts of directions. “Is it the next day?” 

“No, you crashed after baba came home. You napped for a good two hours.” Safaa spun around on his desk chair. “Wali came home just now.” 

“I was thinking that maybe I should go see Louis for a bit, you know? I heard what happened and all. I woke you just to see if you wanted to come with.” Waliyha said as she watched her brother slowly get up and off the bed. “But seriously, you seem ill.” 

Safaa added, “He got the shot last month because he went into heat on the plane,” Waliyha shot a troubled look in his direction. “But the bruise of that still hasn’t completely healed over. And his joints are all rickety, like he’s an 87 year old grandpa.”  

“You haven’t been eating, huh?” Wali sighed exasperatedly, as if this was a war that they all knew too well. “You haven’t been taking care of yourself.” 

“Also, he’s gotten himself into a bit of a Romeo and Juliet situation here with a certain alpha boy,” Safaa dodged the pillow that Zayn threw at her. “And so now that’s far away from him, he’s become almost totally incapacitated.” 

“Ah, I was wondering if the smell was just because you haven’t showered in a while,” Waliyha commented, and on that note, Zayn slid into his restroom and locked the door, the sound of the water running made them smile. She turned to the youngest. “Anything else been going on?” 

“Hm, I tried an edible.” Safaa was very proud of herself, the brownie had indeed made her marginally brighter. The high was truly eye-opening, and Waliyha groaned. “I didn’t get as paranoid as I thought I’d get, just dipped pickles in peanut butter for a while on the kitchen floor.”

“Stop becoming so difficult, you’re reminding me more and more like Zayn and Lou back when they were intolerable.” Waliyha pinched her nose, leading the two of them out of Zayn’s room. “D’you want to come with us to the hospital?” As they walked downstairs, the voices began to get fainter and fainter. By the time Zayn came out of his shower, he quickly had the mental space to realize two things. 

One. He needed to call Harry back, holy fuck. 

Two. The newspaper was still in his nightstand. 

Oh, and a bonus: He needed to email Marjorie for the weekly update on the cat cafe. 

While ruffling his wet hair with a towel, he slipped on his underwear and some pants with his free hand, struggling and tripping all over his room trying to get some of his shit together. It was a sad, yet very relatable sight. When he was done getting dressed, he nervously thought about how the phone call might go, if Harry was in a similar familial predicament to his. 

“Zayn, are you ready?” Waliyha called from downstairs, her voice being projected, bounced off the high ceiling and walls. “I’ll get the car going, meet us outside!” 

He bit his lip, running over to check the nightstand, just to make sure that the newspaper didn’t begin to deteriorate in any way. It was still there in one piece, yellowed and the pages brittle from age. The article of importance had a compelling title, “To Whoever It May Concern about Recent Peculiarities,” by a Zayn Malik, dated in 1941, but the month and day had sadly rubbed off a long time ago. Zayn sighed in relief, carefully sliding the drawer back to its original closed state and ran downstairs with his shoes in his hands. He ran outside with just his socks, sliding into Waliyha’s car and putting on the shoes on the way. 

“It’s this room over here, towards the end of the hall,” he told his sisters, walking through the familiar space of what he liked to call ‘Purgatory.’ Where grim reapers would wait around for people to die, where some would escape by being asleep for years on end, and where some would evade it entirely by making a full recovery. Either one of these ways caused ripples of grief and misery to run through the hospital, the negative energy could turn even the most optimistic person into a depressed, gray broad. 

“Hi Louis,” Waliyha flashed her lovely smile at him, he was reading a book in bed, and when Louis saw her, his entire face lit up. “I’m back.” She said it in a singsong voice, arms outstretched in front of her for an initial embrace. “The world really does go topsy turvy sometimes, doesn’t it?” 

“You’re a gem, Wali. It’s nice to see you.” Louis kissed her cheek, and Zayn frowned, because there were a couple of new bandages on his leg. 

“What the fuck is that?” Zayn pointed, the entire experience has turned him unapologetically blunt. Safaa looked up at her sister, and they mutually decided to clear the room for just a bit. No one ever wanted to get in between the pair. 

“I uh, fell in P.T.” Louis admitted, shrugging like it was nothing when it actually made him so sad. “I was, I was holding onto the bars and everything but then all of a sudden my head went blank, like I didn’t remember how to walk. It’s just a scrape though, nothing to worry about.” He himself didn’t even sound convinced. Zayn gave him a knowing look, climbing onto the hospital bed and Louis scooched over, being very careful to avoid all the wires and tubes. They held each other for a minute, resting heads on shoulders, and Zayn could just feel how discouraged Louis was. 

“It’s just a tiny, tiny setback, Lou. Probably not even a setback, you just had an off day. You’ll do great tomorrow.” He kissed Louis’ head. “I promise we’ll get there.” 

“It’s kinda funny,” Louis snuggled further into Zayn’s embrace. “I always wished to be dumber, but now that I am, it’s actually kind of terrible.” 

“You’re not dumber. You’re just missing some things. The level of intelligence is still the same.” Zayn muttered. “Don’t talk like that.” 

“I forgot how to walk, Zaynie. That’s like some real ass shit right there.” Louis was trying really hard not to reveal just how upset he was. “I can’t even stand up for longer than five minutes before needing to sit down.” 

“Hey, I’m the same way, and I’m just weak. It’s not so bad once you get used to it.” Zayn brushed his hair back, closing his lips tightly. He swallowed before opening his mouth to say, “Lou, don’t you think it’s time that you call him?” 

Louis already knew who Zayn was referring to, he immediately shook his head. “And say what, I kind of died after I broke up with you? That’d be too fucking lame.” He looked down, then looked back up at Zayn’s unreadable expression. “Plus, I already tried. His number is disconnected.” 

“Miss Karen still is at your house, Lou. You know that if you asked for his new number, she’d give it to you in a heartbeat. I just want to know what’s actually stopping you.” Zayn planted another kiss to his head. 

“I’m scared to face him, in all honesty. I was such a fucking dick, the way I ended it.” Louis exhaled just as Zayn’s sisters walked back into the room with snacks from the vending machines. “Ooh, I love those.” He pointed to a bag and Safaa tossed it to him. Zayn scooched out of the way to make room, grabbing his phone out of his back pocket and slipping out the door while Waliyha got Netflix going on her Ipad. 

When outside the room, Zayn paced a little bit, just a couple feet back and forth, his mind was too muddled to think clearly. In the midst of this process, many nurses came up to him and asked if he was alright, and he wondered if he really looked that bad. After running his tongue over his teeth a bit more, he inhaled sharply and opened his phone, scrolling through his contacts to make a call. 

The ringing noises dulled as he held it up to his ear, waiting for the person on the other end to pick up. 


 

Harry’s phone rang, and the shock of it made his heart skip a few beats. Was it Zayn? 

It was. He swiped to answer, holding the phone up to the side of his face, anxious to hear his voice. When Zayn’s voice traveled through, Harry’s heart couldn’t help but soar. 

“I’m so sorry about earlier, my mum took my phone,” Zayn sounded nervous and tired. “She kind of found out about you.” 

“My mum did too. She didn’t really approve, to say the least.” Harry sat back in his chair. “H-How are you?” So fucking lame. 

“Uh, well, I-I think I’m okay, yeah.” Zayn slapped his head, he was so nervous. “I’m sorry I didn’t reach out sooner, there was an emergency with Louis and we’re still trying to recover from it.” He didn’t know why he was telling Harry this, but it was pent up inside him for so long that it just needed to be let out. 

“Is he okay?” Harry sounded worried, and Zayn loved it. “I completely understand, by the way. I just wanted to make sure you guys were alright.” 

Zayn preened at his words, his chest beginning to feel warm. “He’s been in the hospital for a while now, it’s kind of consumed all my time. He’s doing a lot better though, so don’t worry too much.” He bit his lip when he heard Harry sigh. 

“I’m sorry such a thing happened, I was wondering why you sounded so tired.”  

“I sound that tired? People have been coming up to me all day asking if I was alright. I didn’t realize I looked and sounded that zombie-like.” Zayn sat down on a bench. 

“You still sound beautiful, if it’s any consolation. May I ask which hospital?” He heard Harry shuffle around. “I’m around Belgravia right now, if that’s pretty close to where you are.” 

“You want to meet now?” Zayn squeaked, slapping a hand over his mouth when his voice cracked. He wanted to refuse so badly, but he did shower today...and he really, really missed being around Harry. “I-I, we’re, we’re around that area, yeah. We live pretty close by, near the tube. Should we meet at XXXX park?” Zayn’s heart began to thump powerfully. 

“That’s perfect, actually. Ta, darling.” Harry’s voice was so smooth and sexy, Zayn nearly melted at the pet name at the end. “I can be there in about fifteen minutes.” 

“So can I. See you soon.” Zayn hung up, pressing his phone to his chest for a quick moment, trying to recollect himself. Get your shit together, Zayn, it’s never been more important. He walked back into Louis’ room, where he and his sisters were catching up on all the episodes of ‘Sex Education’ that he missed. Well, Wali and Safaa were sleeping next to Louis, he had been petting their hair for a while now. He looked up when Zayn walked in, and with a knowing smile, his slyness exited from his mouth,

“You look happy.” 

“I called Harry,” Zayn shrugged, pushing his sleeping sister gently so that he could join in on the tiny bed. “He said he wanted to meet me at the park in fifteen minutes.” 

“What are you still doing here? Go.” Louis laughed at him like he thought Zayn was being silly. “When I say sad shit, you know that’s when to trust me. Go to him while you still can.” He whispered, because Safaa was stirring. “I won’t be alone, anyways.” 

“I’ll be back soon,” Zayn kissed all their heads, waving one more time to Louis before heading out of the hospital. Suddenly, these hallowed halls seemed a tiny bit brighter. There was a couple signing discharge papers at the receptionist’s desk. Some families were crying out of happiness and relief. Zayn knew the feeling, and was ecstatic for them. He fidgeted in the elevator, trying to think about the things he and Harry would talk about. It had been a full month, after all. When it dinged and opened the doors, the realization that he was actually meeting Harry struck him like a brick. He almost didn’t make it out the door, but once he was outside, there was simply no turning back. He knew the park’s location by heart, having frequented there as a kid to test all of Louis’ science experiments and play football with Liam. The streets were suddenly brighter too, it seemed like there were more smiling people on the street than usual, the pavement didn’t look dark blue. The sky wasn’t gray either, just slightly hinting towards a more robin’s egg shade. As he neared the park, he began to get more and more nervous, twitching his hands in his pockets as the trees got closer and closer. 

It wasn’t a very big park, a modest patch of grass with a playground, a few benches, a couple of hearty old trees, and a lot of soul. Zayn checked his phone to see how much time had passed, and it was exactly fifteen minutes since their phone call. He decided to wait on an empty bench, enjoying the view of screaming children in the meantime. It was only a couple of minutes before he heard footsteps approaching behind him. They were calm, evenly paced, and familiar. Zayn turned around. 

Harry’s hair had grown back almost to the length with which they started. With his long black pants, he sported a plain white shirt and a black trenchcoat, looking dazzling and wonderous. Zayn knew he must look like a mummy in comparison. “Hello, darling. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?” 

Zayn stood up to welcome Harry’s embrace, aggressively running into each other and the second Zayn had his arms wrapped around his back, he felt so much better. Less tired. He didn’t even realized that he was pressing his face into his chest. “I missed you,” he mumbled nonsensically, a bit muffled but oh so endearing. “I missed you a lot more than I thought I’d miss you.” 

“I can say the same thing, darling.” Harry reached down to kiss Zayn’s head. “You look exhausted, are you sure I didn’t give you any trouble?” They got out of their haze, walking back to the bench and sitting down. 

“I feel a lot better now that you’re here. I’m not saying that to be cheesy, like, I actually feel better.” Zayn naturally crawled onto Harry’s lap so that his legs could stretch out on the bench, one side of his face against Harry’s chest. They intertwined fingers immediately, and Zayn could’ve sobbed from how perfect it felt. “Like really, I don’t feel as tired.” 

“It must’ve been a really shitty emergency, that safe to assume?” Harry asked gently, his other hand circling bits of Zayn’s hair around his fingers. 

“The shittiest.” Zayn looked up at Harry, his perfect skin, eyes, and lips making the latter blush. “...Louis died.” 

“What?!” Harry jumped, pulling his hands away so that he could adjust Zayn on his lap. 

“For like, two minutes. Then they revived him, but now he forgets how to walk sometimes,” Zayn blubbered, not really knowing what he was saying except that it had been on the tip of his tongue for a while. “I almost lost my best friend.” His voice stilled, and for a moment, the only sounds that could be heard was the bustling city life surrounding them. 

“I know what it’s like to have a scare like that,” Harry began to run his fingers through Zayn’s luscious, shiny black hair. “You should’ve taken more time away from me, then. A month isn’t enough.” 

“It was, it was. Louis’ doing a lot better, started physical therapy a couple weeks ago. The cerebral damage was really minimal, they got him back pretty--pretty quickly.” Zayn blinked, there were white spots forming in his vision. But holding onto Harry helped greatly. “Doctors think he’ll make a full recovery soon, his surgery went well too.” Harry just kept stroking his hair and face. Zayn looked up again, giving Harry a pining look, moving the corners of his mouth awkwardly. 

“The dark circles under your eyes are almost gone,” Harry observed, a finger brushing over his cheek. He laughed in disbelief, “You do look healthier.” 

“Being around you is good for me. I don’t care if my mum doesn’t like you, I really don’t.” Zayn sounded determined. “Would you love me even if I had no money?” 

“My god, who needs money?” Harry joked back, and they giggled together. “No amount of money in the world could ever measure up to this.” 

It was the truth. No amount of money could buy a ticket to be reborn. 

“Are you just exaggerating to make me a tomato again?” Zayn lightly kissed Harry’s neck. “I think we’re making all the people sick, they’ve been giving us the stink eye since you got here.” 

“They’re just lonely,” Harry brought Zayn closer to him. “They won’t be so bothered once they find someone.” 

“The way you think about everything is really fucking adorable, Harry.” Zayn giggled, breathing Harry in was the most calming experience out of all calming experiences. “Do you think I should call Liam?” 

“They broke up, right?” Harry asked, and Zayn nodded. 

“It just, it just feels a little wrong. Yeah, they were dating, but we’ve been friends practically our whole lives. Liam would want to know.” Zayn seemed pensive, and it made sense that he was looking for some guidance. 

“I’m guessing Louis doesn’t want to tell him?”

“He’s afraid to see him.” 

Harry sighed, “Honestly, I don’t think that’s a good enough reason for you to not call him. I know I said that Liam was a trigger for Louis’ drinking, but something tells me that Louis is never going near anything that isn’t salad, fruit, and water ever again.” He looked at Zayn, pressed their noses together. The girl in the bench next to them was shook. “I think you should call him. It’s a very human thing to do.” 

“It is, isn’t it? And I miss Liam, he’s just the best.” Zayn looked sad. “I feel like our lives have gone to shit. The gang is split, Louis died, I’m dating someone that my parents would disown me over, I have the physical and mental strength of a seven year old...it’s a mess.” 

“It can’t be that bad.” 

“My baby sister throws me around like a rag doll.” 

“That’s pretty bad,” Harry couldn’t contain his smile at the thought of Zayn and his sisters, being close, loving each other, enjoying life. “I think you should start heading back, Louis might be missing you.” 

“Can I take you to that dinner soon?” Zayn stood up, holding onto Harry’s hand until the very last second as they walked to the street side. Harry hailed a cab, and as it pulled up, he turned back to him. 

“Yes.” Harry pecked Zayn before sending him on his way. As Harry began to walk home himself, the city began to grow dark. The yellow and orange lights rose like spirits coming back from the other world, and if you squinted, the lights looked like they were flying around. The cars were becoming more confident, rambunctious, drivers were illegally speeding and taking risky turns. Spoiled teenagers were huddled in a dark corner, smoking weed as if nobody would notice, the neighborhood of Belgravia stood excellently poised and proper, all of the families probably eating dinner and chatting about their day. Harry remembered when his family used to do that, eat dinner and laugh together. Now his mother spoke to him like he was just a business associate she had no time for. But he didn’t want to dwell on that. 

When he got up to the large gates of his grandmother’s estate, instead of properly showing himself to the camera and waiting for a buzz, he decided to go the old way of climbing up the tall oak that grew right next to the fence, jumping off onto the other side. He used to do it a lot in his youth, every time he’d come back to London for the summer and he and Niall would hang out past curfew. Harry sneaked into his room, throwing off his shoes and neatly putting away his coat. His heart felt warm, satisfied beyond articulation, and he was just so entranced. 


 

“Woah, if only I knew that alphas were the solution,” Louis sputtered a laugh when Zayn shyly walked back into the room. “You look glowing, that’s surprising because like two hours ago, you looked dead.” 

“Thanks, Lou.” Zayn rolled his eyes, reaching over to gently shake his sisters awake. “Wali, Saf, it’s time to go home, yeah?” 

“Oh, shit.” Safaa yawned, there was a prominent bed sheet mark on her cheek. “That was one fat nap.” 

Waliyha reached over to give Louis a hug before sliding off the bed, fixing her hair and repositioning all her clothing garments. “Zaynie, did you nap too? The color’s gone back to your face.” 

“Something like that,” he smiled at them, looking at Louis when he laughed. “I’ll see you tomorrow, babe. Love you.” A kiss on the cheek, a squeeze of the hand. “You won’t forget how to walk tomorrow, I have this feeling that you won’t.” 

“Have a nice night.” Louis settled back down on his bed, it was clear just how spent he was. The three Maliks left him to sleep. 

On the drive home, Zayn fiddled with his phone nervously, thinking about what Harry said, and trying to play out all the possible repercussions that could come with calling Liam. But in the end, Liam was still their friend of over 14 years, and he deserved to know. Zayn opened up his texts, drafting a message to Karen. 

Hi Miss Karen, I was wondering if you could give me Liam’s new phone number?

-

Hi Zayn, may I ask what for?

-

Just haven’t seen him in a while. He’s one of my best mates.

-

Alright then. XXX-XXX-XXXX

-

Thank you, love you Miss. 

Zayn knew that she’d give it if either one of them asked, he didn’t even know why Liam bothered to change his number in the first place. He tried calling the phone number, and after a suspicious four seconds, it was most definitely declined. Liam knew Zayn’s and Louis’ phone numbers by heart, of course he’d decline if he recognized that either one of them was calling. Zayn decided not to push it, and sent him a text instead. 

Hi Leemo, it’s been a while. I just wanted to say that I know things are rocky, but I’ll always be here, because no matter what, you’re still one of the most important people in my life. I would’ve left you alone for longer, but something happened that I thought you deserved to know. It turns out, Louis had a dormant autoimmune disease, and the drinking and using aggravated it over time, clogged an artery and caused a heart attack about a month ago. He’s in recovery and doing really well, thankfully. 

 

I know this probably the last text you’d ever want to get, but you needed to know. I hope one day we can all be friends again. Because honestly, this shit has got me thinking that I can’t be wasting any second anymore. I love you Leemo. xoxo


 

“What are your dreams, Zaynie?” Safaa asked, still groggy from her hospital nap, resting the side of her face on her brother’s lap. She was turned away from him, so she couldn’t see Zayn’s reaction to that question. It occurred to him that no one had ever asked what his dreams were.

“I dunno, to be a rich housewife, I guess.” He chuckled sadly, brushing out her long, black hair with his hands. “What are your dreams, Saf?” 

“I kinda want to be a vet, like Wali and mummy,” She yawned, her eyes kept on closing. “Maybe a Zoologist. Hang out with rhinos and giraffes.” 

“That’s epic, Saf.” Zayn knew he probably wasn’t helping her sleepiness with this petting, but he needed to take advantage of every rare occasion his little sister was calm. 

“I don’t actually think you want to be a housewife, Zaynie. You’re capable of a lot more than that.” 

“Thanks, babe.” Zayn tried not to notice how Waliyha kept on looking in the mirror at Zayn. “We’re almost home, yeah?” He helped her sit up just as they reached their gate, the familiar noise of buzzing and grand fences mechanically parting to let them in. “I haven’t really thought much about dreams, to be honest. I rarely even have them in my sleep,” He used the play on words to confuse her for a second, but as they walked back into the house hand in hand, Safaa made her comment. 

“I think now is a great time to start having dreams, Zaynie. What if you’re not here tomorrow?” Safaa mumbled, letting Zayn firmly tuck her into bed with the comforter. “I asked Lou if he had any dreams, and he said no too. It’s dumb to die without having had a dream.” 

“You’re very right, jaan.” Zayn sat at the edge of her bed until she fell asleep, thinking about her statement in the back of his head. Little Saf, wise beyond her years, was right. He had always grown up thinking that he wasn’t allowed to have a dream, having just read books and studied all the time in his youth. Even a PhD in Literature couldn’t quell his fear of becoming an author, but everyone knew that Zayn had a passion for it. It was evident in just how much he cared about most pieces of prose and the lyrical aspects of the world, how he re-reads every book he opens, and it was evident in his speaking voice. Every sentence he uttered sounded like it was well-thought out dialogue from a novel, vagabonds and kings alike found it easy to fall in love with him. But no matter how much praise he ever received on anything he’s written, he couldn’t shake the fear from his mind if he wouldn’t be the success that everyone wished for. In the side of the world they lived in, you weren’t worthy unless you were a phenomenon. Everyone else in his family was intrinsically special. He’d rather fade into the background than be seen as the mediocre one. 

After turning off her bedside lamp and quietly slipping out of the room, Zayn slowly closed his door, turning around to see that his baba was waiting for him in the other room. They made assured eye contact, and Zayn knew he had no choice but to talk. 

“Meri jaan, I think it’s been a good enough time to talk.” Baba closed his book, taking off his reading spectacles to reach for Zayn. “We are nearly in the clear with Louis, and you look like you’ve caught up on some sleep. Will we talk about this boy now?” 

“Mama hates him,” Zayn’s eyes were watering. “You’ll hate him too.” 

“Why would I hate him?” Yaser asked gently, rocking Zayn subtly back and forth. 

“Because we’re supposed to stay away from that family,” Zayn repeated, and Yaser immediately knew who he was referring to. 

“Ah, Romeo et Juliette ,” Yaser chuckled. “I wouldn’t say that that’s the only reason as to why we’ve generally just stayed separated. Bad luck and curses aren’t that real, Zayn. But people are, and your mother is guilty of returning any amount of sabotage she’s given.” Zayn didn’t really want to respond to that. “Most of the ‘peaceful’ business deals in the past have only failed because both sides suspected each other and ruined things for the both of them. Horan or Styles?” 

“Styles,” Zayn looked up at his baba innocently. “He studies dead people.” Zayn really did not have a knack for setting up tricky conversations well. 

“There’s only one boy in the Styles family that I know of, yes. I always thought Anne Styles was secretly hiding him somewhere in America, studying the family trade. Pathology?” 

“No, forensic anthropology. He also just happens to be very fond of Russian Literature.” Zayn said it, and the both of them started laughing quietly. “He’s a good egg, baba. I swear. Just by talking to him you can really tell how he sees the world. I met him today, and just by doing that I look so much better than before. See? The shot bruise is gone.” Yaser inspected his thin arm, and indeed, the yellowish stain that never went away was now away. 

“I believe you, meri jaan, I do. But Anne and your mother, that’s the real issue. They really can’t stand each other.” 

“Why?” 

“Well, once upon a time, all the families used to be good friends, entertain for parties together, celebrate Christmas all together, even. Your mama and Anne were actually best friends. They were torn apart by some differences, to the point where Anne decided it’d be better to move the greater half of her pack elsewhere rather than make up with you mom on whatever it was they fought about. I guess that was the final wound, you know? Both of them are intolerably stubborn.” Yaser kissed Zayn’s head, then again. “You fall in love with whoever you want to, meri jaan. You just have to grow up enough to understand the responsibilities that come with all of your decisions, and others will follow. Sure, mama is mad now, but she’d never go as far as lose you over something like this.” 

Zayn nodded, “I understand, baba. I really didn’t know they hated each other this much, I didn’t even remember that Styles existed when I first met him. And even then, had no idea there was such animosity.” 

“You really do smell different,” Yaser hummed. “Not my baby anymore, are you? I might not be as approving of this Styles boy as I thought I’d be.” 

“I’ll always be your baby,” Zayn groaned, covering his face as he said it. “Are we done now? Can I go to sleep?” Yaser set him down, placing on his spectacles and picking up his book again. 

Zayn scampered into his room, shedding off all his clothes and replacing them with comfy pajamas, his bones jittery in anticipation. He made sure to lock the door before slowly pulling at the drawer, the yellowed newspaper waiting for him like a letter from a soldier to his wife. He picked it up gingerly, trying to take care of just how easily the paper could snap. He read the article title again with that familiar name as author, giggling to himself like he was being let in on the greatest secret of his life. He blinked, took in a deep breath, and began to read. 


 

It wasn’t as though Liam didn’t see the text message. In fact, he read it the second the notification popped up on his phone, as he was finishing setting up his new apartment. He read it over multiple times, because he couldn’t process the words the first five times he repeated the text in his head. 

He plopped down onto his new couch, suddenly hyper-aware of his surroundings. The  fabric of his throw pillows, the shoelaces tight around his feet, the dust particles floating through the air. He first wondered how Zayn managed to get a hold of his new cell phone number, but he quickly solved that mystery by deducting that his mum probably gave it to him. 

Autoimmune disorder? Heart attack? His mouth became dry, the base of his spine was aching for some reason. He tried to take deep breaths, but found himself shaking and unable to move. “Fuck.” He let it out, and it felt good, to be honest. “Fuck.” The second time, not so much. His guardian angel must be shaking his head right now. He groaned, propelling himself upwards, thinking about what his next move should be. 

The next move was calling Louis’ mom. It ended up that way. (Neither Zayn or his mum answered.) 

He remembered her number too, the muscle memory of it typing into the number pad on the screen. Here goes absolutely fucking nothing, this was a stupid fucking idea. 

It rang, and three seconds later, Johanna answered. 

“Hello, this is Johanna speaking,” Her voice was familiar, comforting, and really lovely. “Who is this?” 

“Hi, Ms. Tomlinson, it’s…” Liam’s vision went white for a second. “It’s Liam.” 

“Oh, Liam!” She sounded a little tired, a little unsure of what this phone call was about. There was a deep breath on the other end, “I’m guessing you heard?” 

“Y-yeah. Zayn told me.” He bit his lip, pacing around the room. 

“Um, to be very honest with you, Louis and I haven’t talked that much about...your guys’ relationship, so don’t feel too awkward about that. I don’t know if he’s really ready yet to meet you,” Johanna sat down in a chair, trying to flatten out a crease in her blouse. 

“I’m so sorry about what happened,” Liam’s voice cracked, and she immediately denied it, trying to get Liam to stop, 

“Liam, love, this was not your fault. It’s just something that happens, alright? We both know his lifestyle, his habits mixed with his personality is what got us here.” Johanna chuckled softly. “He would rather die than let anyone know he needed help.” 

“Yeah, jesus, yeah. I know.” Liam was getting extremely overwhelmed. “I’m so sorry miss, this was probably a mistake--” 

“Tell you what,” Johanna cut him off. “I’ve always liked you, Liam. If I didn’t like you, there would’ve been a lot of things that could’ve ended up differently. You’re quite the opposite from my Lou, which is refreshing, and you were always such a sweet kid. I’m gonna tell you the details about where Lou is right now, okay? But you have to promise me you’ll only go if it means something will stay between you two, and I mean a friendship.” 

“I promise. Thank you.” 


 

Niall loved to eat. He made sure that everybody in the entire world knew this. He loved eating so much that he went to go study about food. His metabolism was always fast, and so some days, if he bothered to keep track, he’d have six full meals. It’s a little disgusting to Harry, but their love for each other overshadowed all the flaws. 

“Mam, I love you.” Niall called out to her, Maura huffing as she walked out to meet him at the front door. “Remember that, yeah? I’ll be back in a few hours.” 

“You’re going to kill me one of these days,” Maura watched him leave, a grown man with a bouncing, rambunctious, and complex personality. Most people think that Niall is very straightforward character wise, but then again, most people don’t ever see Niall at his worst. 

He’d been stalking Charlie’s instagram for the last month, tensing his jaw at pictures of him and some other alpha on the beach, (along with a few more friends, but the alpha was still there, nonetheless) splashing around half naked. He’d developed a gorgeous tan that Niall couldn’t his mind off of. 

Charlie was like no one he’d ever met before. Most of the girls and guys Niall fucked around with were really plain and simple. Pasty, affluent, boring. Charlie was Latinx and Japanese, so with his jet black hair he struck everyone he met with his green eyes, one of them half brown in the iris. Charlie’s origins were a mystery, but it seemed like if he could vacation in Bora Bora, he definitely wasn’t poor. There were also posts of him taking mirror selfies in the hospital restroom, the unflattering scrubs just happening to accentuate all of the most eye-catching parts of Charlie’s body. Niall got hard thinking about it, sometimes Charlie would whisper medical terms in his ear while he rode him. 

He didn’t wear a label or stick to any kind of boundary, wearing different colored eyeliner every day, experimenting fearlessly with style. His entire being was dissimilar to the ones Niall had grown up being around. 

Although he knew that to him, Niall was just a convenient fuck, a cute guy to mess around with, but he couldn’t help but want more. 

And if this wasn’t serious, what was the harm in having a little fun of his own? 

He linked up with a few of his craziest mates, the ones who drank and have tried every drug and drug combination on the planet. He fit in in his own way, having similar senses of humor, and the group liked how dependable, stable, and quiet Niall was. This group frequented the party scene so much that they had a reserved table in the club just for them, some of the betas snorting coke on his left, some making out on his right. He put on his facade of looking unbothered by the crowd, sipping at his drink like it tasted bad, scanning the floor with hungry blue eyes. A certain omega caught his attention, dancing and swaying his hips to the beat nearly perfectly, acting like no one else was in the room. Niall watched him for a few more minutes, tapping his index finger on his glass as the bass shook the whole room. The omega seemed to notice, flashing him a sly smile behind his shoulder before continuing his performance. The glass was put down, and feet began to come closer to the sexy creature. 

“Hi,” Niall whispered in his ear, and the boy turned around. “How’d you notice me?” 

“Your eyes were glowing,” the boy smirked, laughing as Niall ran his hands over his body. “I haven’t seen you with that group before.” They walked off the dance floor, hand in hand, the boy tugging Niall outside. “You gonna tell me your name?” 

“Niall Horan. Yours?”

“Oh shit, a Horan. Knew the whole blonde-haired and blue-eyed thing was on purpose.” They both laughed at his joke, the boy taking out a blunt and lighting it. “My name’s Hunter.” 

“That’s a sick name,” Niall could smell the alcohol and sex oozing from him, the scent making every movement feel like someone sprayed perfume at his face. Although he hated smoking, he let Hunter put the blunt in between his lips, taking a hit in the heat of the moment. 

They shared smoke for a few more passes, the mood lightening up with each perfectly timed exhale. Then Hunter started laughing. 

“Listen, the real reason I noticed you is because I know who you are.” He blew in Niall’s face. “My brother fucks you, yeah?” 

Niall choked. “What? Who? When? Where?” 

“My half brother anyways, we have the same eyes.” Hunter batted his eyelashes at him, and Niall hit himself in the face. “Ah, there it is. What a fuckin’ coincidence, am I right?” 

Hunter’s eyes were a light green, almost hazel, and they were currently boring a hole through Niall’s face. But Niall played it cool. 

“Yeah, Charlie. I guess so,” he stomped the tiny bit of the joint out, putting his hands in his pockets. “Don’t think he actually likes me though. I had no idea he had family in the U.K.” 

“If my little baby Chartreuse bothers to tell me about it, then it’s much more than just a friendly fuck.” 

Niall got whiplash. “What? Chartreuse?” 

“What’s he having everyone call him over there?” Hunter laughed, like it was just a fun game or story. “Charles?” 

“Yeah, you nailed it.” Niall suddenly wanted another hit. “You got another joint?” Hunter pulled out a second prepared little roll, lighting it and taking the first puff before handing it to Niall. “Why change his name?” 

“He hates it, tries every which way to get away from it.” Hunter nodded, it was starting to kick in. “I won’t tell him about tonight, yeah? Just...don’t hurt my brother. He’ll hurt you back tenfold.” Hunter plucked the joint from Niall’s lips, fixing it in his mouth before waving and walking away. Niall, who was a little embarrassed, a little hard, and very high, laughed to himself, shaking his head. It was almost as if the universe was trying to tell him something, of all clubs, countries, and continents in the world, he just had to run into Charlie's brother. 

It’s much more than a friendly fuck. 

Niall didn’t want to believe him, so he quickly cleared it from his mind by calling Harry, asking the familiar request for a pickup. 

 


 

Zayn was right; Louis didn’t fall in P.T today. 

He actually had a remarkably good day, was able to get a little bit farther, stand a little bit longer. Recovering from heart surgery was a weird experience, because after having never noticed the presence of your heart before it, now it felt like a foreign object residing in his chest, trying to mold back together and recover from the grief Louis put it through. They stopped giving him shitty food, so now every day when someone came to visit, they came with something edible. 

He was really bored, though. It sucks that a lot of his quarter break was to be spent in this way. He liked the friendly banter with all the nice nurses, having made a reputation for himself in that whole section of the hospital. He befriended a little girl in physical therapy too, she was trying to practice walking on her prosthetic leg. 

He laid in his bed, fiddling on his computer all the things that weren’t finalized before he...well, before he fucking died for a hot minute there. If he ends up having to stay in England when the new quarter starts, he’ll have to let the board know. So he did some of that, emailing. Catfished a bunch of strangers for a while, that was fun. Went live on Instagram, most of his American classmates were thrilled that he was alive. Fuck, he was bored. 

One of the changes that Louis had to adjust to was how early he went to bed now, or rather, how easily tired he got. He cuddled up with himself on his side while the sun was still out, the mantra of machines all controlled by him (It’s a little freaky to think about how the behavior of medical machines was dependant on your life). He was almost deep in his nap when someone entered the room behind him. 

The gentle nature of the visitor’s steps quickly revealed that it wasn’t Zayn, or any of his friends. His mum had already stopped by today, so maybe it was Trisha or Yaser. Either way, if they saw that Louis was sleeping, they’d just do what they came to do and slip back out. But a good two minutes later, the visitor still hadn’t walked back out, or even come into Louis’ view, for that matter. 

But the smell was a dead giveaway. Louis froze, and his heart began to thump loudly, the corresponding machine matching its pace. He slowly turned onto his back, and was met with the eyes that he was so terrified to face again. 

“Hi, Lou.” Liam breathed out, looking dashing and desirable. “I--” 

Louis quickly looked over to his left, and saw that the nurse had upped the dosage of all the pain meds, and as a coping mechanism, he thought that maybe Liam wasn’t actually here, that he was asleep and dreaming. But Liam’s hands were shaking. 

“Li?” Louis asked, sitting up on the bed to gently touch the side of his face. “You’re real, aren’t you?” This was a terrible time to be doped up. 

“Lou, what happened?” Liam was on the brink of tears. “Zee texted me, and--” 

“I, uh, was a little dumb, to say the least.” Louis laughed sheepishly, the situation becoming more and more awkward. Liam wasn’t even making eye contact with him. “I had a really bad cold that whole week and didn’t tell anyone about it. That and the drinking, mostly the drinking.” 

“Louis, I’m sorry. This was a mistake.” Liam turned to leave, but Louis grabbed his arm, and Liam just had to turn at how weak his grip was. Louis was out of breath just reaching for him. 

“Don’t go, Li.” Louis’ voice was small. “Please don’t go.” This was such a shitty idea, and both of them knew it. 

Liam turned around, coming a bit closer, his hands sliding up Louis’ outstretched ones, instinctively, every movement at this point on was out of his control. The hands reached up to Louis’ face, and with a thumb, swept it over his cheek. Liam stared at Louis for quite a while, for it was like meeting a face for the first time but have known it your entire life. In the back of your mind, always. Louis was about to cry, he could tell, and just to prevent him from doing so, Liam leaned forward and kissed him. 

The heart monitor definitely sped up at that. 

Louis pulled Liam closer, leaning into his touch desperately as if this would be the very last time. Everything about Liam screamed ‘home,’ from his body, his smell, his voice. When they pulled away, Louis’ hand was still gripping as tight as he could on Liam’s shirt. “Li,” 

“Lou,” Liam responded, kissing his cheek and neck. “Lou.” Louis started crying, he was starting to stress out a bit, the commotion causing a nurse to walk in to see what was going on. Liam tried to let go, but Louis whimpered and firmly held onto Liam, crying and shaking. The medication machine went up and down in dosage periodically, allowing less gray area as to possibly making the patient addicted. She reached over wordlessly, because it was none of her business as to what was going on, but pressed Louis down onto the bed, fixed the oxygen mask over his face, and began to administer a calming agent. 

“Baby,” Liam whispered, and Louis made a sound at that, his body completely defying him as he sank into the hospital bed. “Louis, I’m sorry. I love you.” 

Why the fuck are you sorry? Louis thought, but he couldn’t say the words out loud. What the fuck are you saying sorry for? 

“I love you so goddamn much, to the point where I can’t even get you out of my mind. You’ve always been there, my entire life, and I’ve loved you my entire life.” Liam’s eyes were getting red, pausing between his words to sniff and try to get his shit together. “Jesus, I’m fucking lame.” 

Did he just curse? 

“I’ll...see you around, yeah?” Liam smiled tightly, his touch slowly letting go of his body. And the second he walked out the door, Louis knew that no amount of surgery could ever fix how broken his heart was. 


 

(Prepare for feels.) 

The moment Zayn was done reading the newspaper, his insides didn’t feel so good. He felt as though suddenly, a neverending feeling of doom was taking over his entire body, squeezing his lungs tight and he dropped the article to the floor. He began to panic as the walls moved closer, laying back down on his bed with tears rushing off his face. Every bone in his body felt cracked, and he passed out from the pain. 

As he slept, the colors surrounding him began their whisperings, the air began its song, and the moonlight slowly crept into his room. The voices were murmuring secrets that have never been told before and gave Zayn a crazy fucking dream that night. Rather, they gave Zayn back his memories , the universe has formed a habit of doing so. Are you confused? You should be. 

This is what was written in that article. 

……...1941. Inscribed by Zayn J. Malik 

This will be the second time that the Angel of Death has passed by me. This time, I saw her, in a white frock and brandishing a flame in her right hand, and when she kneeled above me, the light hid the angelic face of the voice that whispered, “What is it you would wish to live for?” I cannot recall what I said, for even I have my suspicions that this entire event was created in my state of unnatural delirium. 

The recent fascinations and theories regarding me and my family have made it quite clear that no matter how silent I stay, I will be forced to come forward with some kind of statement, to appease and to satisfy all those that are intrigued. The whispers make their demands known, questions such as to who I am, where I am from, and just how I could’ve possibly survived. I believe that I can assuredly provide the answer to two of those questions. 

As a placard of context, the illness that I was taken to they call the witch’s kiss, or a siren’s kiss. How my memory has escaped me for a greater portion of my life thus far, perhaps is a riddle to be solved by the medical doctors and scientists in the future. I know in my heart that I will not live to see that day, to hear just precisely how my spirit and soul decided to close my eyes and ears whenever I tried in my youth to open the door to one of my memories. Perhaps this is for the best. Perhaps a small part of me never wants to know why I forgot. 

Zayn Malik, a peculiar name for a peculiar face and story, I would assume. Many have inquired me on how to pronounce it properly, but these are also the same people who tiptoe around my current state and apparent pathetic nature. If I ever do meet you, I would like you to try. In complete confidence, I promise to never reveal whether you pronounced it right or not. The worst that can happen is I correct you. Actually, the worst that can happen is that I correct you and you mispronounce it again the next time we cross paths. 

It is unclear to me how I am to go about this, topics of my life to press into the pages of a book, so that someone will read it and will deeply understand everything about me, about the time I’m living in, and the ways in which my mind works. There are few guidelines in the many writing textbooks I have read on how to be eloquent when discussing something that is far from it. 

Perhaps it would not be too insensitive to start with the questions that so many publishing houses and gossip circles are eager to know. Yes, my entire family was murdered when I was 16 years of age, in a terrible burglary. I survived that incident with a giant gash on my stomach, if we ever have the pleasure of meeting I will reveal that scar to you as well. 

For the next five years after the incident I was plagued by images and flashes of the childhood that was stolen from me. Some may argue that at sixteen, I was well grown enough to think on my own terms and be strong enough to not let such a trauma define my life. However, I have found that it did not matter the age, race, or the wealth of a man that determined your capabilities. What defined my life was a constant struggle of surviving, and that I did. There were some instances that I should have died, but I didn’t, and here we are, me writing to you, reader, as though we are intimate friends that share most everything in confidence. 

I would have dreams of my mother, as many young men do sometimes, days of sunlight and a humble, hard-working upbringing. I would be so young again in these dreams, laughing and playing with other children whose faces were all but a blur. I have now come to the realization that in fact, these were my sisters. They had not survived the terrible incident, but amazingly, as fate would have it, I was not the only one who escaped their brash acquaintance with Death. I had an older sister that I was not aware of who had been living in London for many years, and upon my discovery, I have been welcomed into her grand home by her and her magnanimous husband. She had no idea that there were any survivors, the town that I am from was very good at keeping such secrets for their own reasons. My sister and her husband are both patrons of art and living freely. Perhaps such sentiment runs in our blood. 

The next thing I would like to confirm is that yes, I am dying. The building that had fallen on top of me shattered not only four of my ribs, but also pieces of my spine and hips are permanently disfigured. I am not in great pain, just crippled and bed-ridden. I am now extremely sickly and spend most of my time being under the careful watch of many doctors and my older sister. I can feel my body growing weaker every time I wake, it is possible that it is Consumption. The Angel of Death will surely not miss me this time, and so I thought this sort of timing was best to finally publish my written word. 

My life is not to be pitied, I implore you to save your sympathy for someone or something else. I am entirely grateful for the life that I have been given by our merciless and cruel God. Yes, I slander him so. 

I wish not for sympathy because I was taken in by the most kind-hearted, generous man that I have ever had the privilege to meet. He was a man of extraordinary intelligence, compassion, and motivation. Selley was a man who was thoroughly satisfied with what he was given, and although I realize his vast potential now, I think that he never left our humble town of Suraj Mukhi because he was just that satisfied. For why leave when his house was there, a beautiful modest ranch. His life was there, with all the people who had stayed behind. His wife was also there, flying above us at every turn and decision, or perhaps she is swimming with the most beautiful ocean creatures with whom she was buried. 

I never had many friends, but as fate would have it, I have been blessed with many people of good nature and spirit. Mistress Hewitt of the house that clothed me, bathed me, and let me sleep inside. My precious, darling Jane, with her kind eyes and loyalty, there is never a day when I do not miss her so. Louis Tomlinson, who never once discouraged me in my pursuit for freedom and knowledge. Of course, Liam, who still does not know my last name as I do not his, I have such a strong love of his undeniable courage and spirit. He did not ever question or dispute. He listened, he observed, and he maneuvered. I hope one day to meet him again. 

As for the final question, the one that has ignited this spark of curiosity and gossip, about the man who was found next to me when the authorities finally got around to looking through the rubble. They were most assured that nobody still inside the building had survived, so I do not harbor any grudges for the amount of hours I was under there waiting. I have been waiting for all my life, and this was not much different. After escaping death twice, I now consider it close to folly, perhaps I could make it a sport. But it should be noted that I was selfish. I had taken the last son of the House of Selley and Styles with me, led him astray and towards dangerous instances that I should have never let him get near. It is true that I was in love with him. It is true that I am the reason that he is dead. It was my body that they had to pry his hands off of. I wake with immeasurable guilt and regret, and perhaps the pain of that has overshadowed the pain of my bones trying to heal with what little is left of my body. 

In Suraj Mukhi, there is a saying that was repeated to me over and over either in the form of oral poetry, in the form of a story, or a blessing. That we are all connected, all helping each other past our own lives. I didn’t realize to what caliber this statement would be true. My pondering of that saying certainly didn’t measure up to the price of the life that it has cost for the answer. The day they found us was the day I died as well. He was taken from me, gnarled and far gone, and I never saw him again. When in surgery, I could not even attend his funeral. 

Harry was a man that was like no other, at least no one I had ever met before him. He was fair-skinned, charming, and stubborn. Our first meeting involved an arrow, a river, and a forest. Looking back at that memory, it felt almost as though our meeting was natural and intrinsic, as if it was always meant to happen. He whisked me away to a new world, taught me to write, to read difficult words, the joy of eating an ice lolly in the summer, what it felt like to ride upon the smooth waters in a boat. He let me observe all of his work, his inventions and ‘upgrades,’ as he called them. Then at night, we would talk about grief. Loss. Loneliness. It did not take long for me to be absolutely entranced by him. 

I still have yet to repay him. 

I still have yet to thank him. 

But I have succumbed to the reality that I will never be able to do so, not in this life. 

Harry was a brilliant peculiarity, and oh lucky me, I was the one who had stumbled in his way. He could have pushed me aside and have done better, most definitely have lived longer. But the day we met, he revealed the anger he had in his heart about the loss of his mother, and that was the first time a person had let me witness them so vulnerable. He let me touch his body and tend to his wounds. He let me convince him to not die, to lay his body over mine and we dragged each other to exactly where we needed to be. 

The things that I have done for him will never compare to all that he has done for me. He has given me hope, passion, and a voice. He challenged me into considering, ‘Perhaps your world is not as wide as you think it is,’ and he proved me right. This world is immeasurable, brilliant, and cruel. In return all I have done is lend him my body, my dependance, and how to make a crown out of weeds. 

I still have one fond memory of the two of us in the rose garden tucked in behind his grand house. We sat in the middle of it all, and spoke for hours. From the time that the sun came up all the way to when it returned back down, it was impossible to escape the shadows of his face. And his eyes, oh, his eyes. Anyone who has met him knows exactly what I am speaking of. 

My articulance is a miracle. My life is a miracle, and just like all lives, it has been filled with pain, for miracles cannot happen without it. The days I promised myself that I would love this man until I died; I am still set on the path to keeping that promise as my body deteriorates. I left my heart in his hands when they pulled him away from me. I made sure he was buried with it. Yes, it was stolen goods. Yes, I let my thief keep my most precious ware. 

As my numbered days pass, I should hope that my dreams continue to all be with him. Running through a field, clasping hands in our beautiful forest, riding horses across the plains. Let there be no more pain for this man. For now, he is with his father and his mother, I should hope that all of the unanswered questions he had for them have been answered by now. 

Some days I pray to our universe to grant me one more miracle, to be able to meet this man again in a new life. In a life where I am less pitiful and he is less genuine, to even out our humanity, to meet again like new people and fall in love again despite our sinful imperfections. I did not once ask our God, because I knew he would tell me no. So I prayed to our universe, and if that makes me a heretic, so be it. 

I would like to conclude this statement with one more memory, after recovering all of mine, I have become partial to sharing them. 

The day that I picked up my life and left with this strange man to a strange new world, the conversation we kept during the journey has never escaped me. I was shaking, pathetic, but he was calm. That was probably the moment that we first loved each other, or more accurately, I loved him. I kept my view out the window to the last of my town as I rushed away from it, but I could feel his eyes on me. So when I finally decided to turn my head, I was struck beyond reason. Not only did I meet his face, but I was also met with the hundreds of thousands of sunflowers behind him, and our car was moving so fast it looked like my Harry was floating in an ocean of yellow and hope. 

Suraj Mukhi translates to ‘Sunflower’ in English. I was always told that our ancestors had planted every flower one by one, as a blessing for our town and the energy that would surround it. 

There were so many sunflowers, not only in the plains, but in my stomach, in my throat, and of course in my heart. All bloomed at that moment, as I gazed at this wonderful man like the ignorant idiot I was. 

At some point, he asked me if I believed in fate. 

And I lied to his face, I was so shocked at my current situation and the rush of emotions that had overwhelmed me for the past week to the point where I said to him, “No,” upon many other things that I cannot remember. Magic may be folly, but it is unmistakable that our universe does not make mistakes. I know exactly what I would say to him if we get the chance to meet again; perhaps soon I can join him in Heaven. I have known for so long now what the first thing my mouth would utter to him if we fell in love again. 



Of course I believe in fate, Harry. 

Of course I do. 






Chapter Text

HI GUYS!
I just wanted to explain the whole “new life” and “great uncle” and “past life” shit all here just so I could get it over with and everyone would be on the same page as me. I’ll start with Harry. For the Harry in 1940’s, I’ll call him “Old Harry,” and the Harry in the 2010’s, I’ll call him “New Harry.”

So, Old Harry dies without children. As previously mentioned, he had a sister named Gemma who lived “in the states with her handsome soldier.”

We can safely assume that after Harry’s death, Gemma ends back up in England. She has children, one of them has Anne, New Harry’s mom. (They coincidentally decided to name her “Anne.” Coincidentally.)

Anne marries Desmond and has two kids,
New Harry and New Gemma; they cOiNcIdEnTally decided to name their kids after Anne’s grandmother and her brother.

New Harry has a perfectly normal life until 2019, where he wakes up with the memories of Old Harry. So technically, New Harry has two different lives inside of his head right now. I know. I’d personally go insane.

Here, I’ll attempt a diagram for you.
OLD GEMMA ———— OLD HARRY (died young) 
|
HAS A(t least one) CHILD
|
HAS (at least) ANNE
|
HAS NEW HARRY AND NEW GEMMA, making Old Harry their great great uncle.

NOW ONTO Old Zayn and New Zayn.
Old Zayn, as we have read, dies shortly after the collapse of the orphanage, and left behind no children. While in hospice, he was cared for by his long lost sister Aisha and her husband, _____ Smith. (I can’t think of a name.)

It is safe to assume that Aisha has children, and one of those kids has Yaser.

Yaser and Trisha get married, has Doniya, Waliyha, Safaa, and New Zayn. They too have cOiNCiDeNtAlLy named their son after Old Zayn!!!!

New Zayn lives his own life, as we know, completely unaware that New Harry knew that this was their second time meeting. Until he steals that newspaper that cOiNCideNtAlly told him everything he needed to know, and all of a sudden, he gets overtaken by the memories of Old Zayn. He is now also dealing with both lives in his head.

Another diagram!!
AISHA ———— OLD ZAYN (died young) 
|
HAS A(t least one) CHILD
|
Has (at least) YASER
|
HAS SAFAA, DONIYA, WALIYHA, AND ZAYN.

I know that technically makes “Old Harry” New Harry’s great GREAT uncle, but writing great great uncle is annoying. Same for Zayn.

 

Some might ask if New Zayn and New Harry would’ve even met if this phenomenon hadn’t occurred. Some might ask if New Zayn and New Harry could even fall in love and love each other the same way Old Zayn and Harry did.

But the universe never tells you its plan. (It’s me. I’m the universe.)

Hopefully this cleared things up! Ciao! If you have any more questions, feel free to ask!
By the way, if you ever want to give up on this fic and read some actual quality Zarry shit, go over to @dunklenacht310 ‘s profile, because she is a master of Zarry AUs.

Chapter Text


    The defining feature of most greek tragedies is that they will present to you the most important parts of the story as the beginning. 

    In this chapter, Liam and Louis discover the extent of the latter’s brain damage. 

    In this chapter, Niall nearly overdoses the day that Charlie decides to pay him a surprise visit. 

    In this chapter, Zayn and Harry break up. 


 

    “Zayn! Open the door!” Safaa was pounding on it, the door was locked for some strange reason and they were about to start breakfast. “Bhaiya! Wake up!” She tried, and it didn’t sound like there was any movement inside. She huffed, walking into her room to get a pin. 

    She unlocked the door, finding Zayn on the bed curled up in a ball, hardly moving. Her first instinct was to jump up and sit on him, but the second she touched the bed, Zayn jumped awake, making both of them scream. “Bhaiya!” She was so startled she almost began to cry. “What the fuck, mate.” 

    Zayn was covered in sweat. From head to toe, his eyes wild and webbed. His chest was contracting and loosening rapidly, shuddering breaths being led out one by one. He looked around his room like he’d never seen it before, but when his eyes met Safaa’s, he visibly relaxed. 

    “You good?” Safaa asked, Waliyha running into the room after hearing them scream. “Zayn?” 

    “Hey, you okay?” Wali came around the bed to grab her brother, immediately putting a hand to his forehead and clutching him tight. “What happened? You’re shaking. Saf, go get baba,” 

    Zayn couldn’t speak, and if anyone had experienced what he just did, they wouldn’t blame him. Images and voices kept on flashing in his mind, overwhelming every one of his senses even as his baba ran into the room. “Jaan? What’s wrong, Zayn?” His mama was right behind him. Every string of words that came out of his mouth were incoherent, everything was out of focus. 

 

    White handkerchiefs. Too nice to bathe with. 

    Tallow candles.

    Apples. 

    Roses. 

   

    “Get Dr. XXXX on the phone, grab some towels and a bowl of ice water.” Orders were being thrown about, Zayn was still profusely sweating. It was almost like he was seizing, his eyes rolling back into his head and unable to move his body. “Meri jaan, can you hear me? Come on, love. Try and steady your breathing, you hear me, right?” 

   

    Fate. 

    Fate. 

    Something about fate. 

 

    “Auh,” He vocalized, cueing his parents to look at him with wide, concerned eyes. “I-I’m...okay. I’m okay.” Several kisses were planted over his face, and one of his sisters ran in with a bowl and some hand towels. “Baba--” 

    “Yeah, lovie. We’re here. Must’ve been one bad dream,” everyone began to calm down when Zayn became calm, his breath normalizing and eyes returning to normal. “You’re sweating buckets, jaan.” 

    “It was a really bad dream,” he whispered, swallowing and trying to take back control of his body again. “I’m...okay.” As Safaa ran around the bed, she saw the fallen newspaper on the floor, and whilst trying not to act like she saw anything she kicked it underneath the bedside table. The color was starting to return to his cheeks, flinching a little when his mama began wiping his face with a cold ass towel. 

    “Dr. XXXX said that he’s on his way,” Wali announced as she came back into the room, letting out a big sigh when she saw that everyone was okay. “Zayn, what happened?” 

    “I-I don’t know.” It was the truth. What he went through was no kind of human experience, no amount of meth, LSD, or any other illicit drug could produce this fucking trip. 

    All he knew was that it wasn’t like a dream. He was actually there, lucid, present, tangible. London looked different, the cars were different, and everyone looked like they were from a different time. As he experimented with walking, a car nearly ran him over, and the sound was so real, the wind from the car barely missing him felt real. Everything was gray and bleak, smoke rising from inconspicuous places, and then, a voice. 

    “Zayn! There you are, I thought I lost you.” The voice exclaimed, and it was louder and clearer to the point where all other sounds wiped out. Zayn turned around. 

    “Harry?” He asked, and said person came running over to pull Zayn a safe distance from the road. “Is that really you?” 

    “Why yes, it’s really me,” Harry laughed, casually holding Zayn’s hand and leading him in the direction that he was apparently supposed to be in. Zayn could immediately tell that Harry looked different. His shoulders were less broad, the bone structure more pronounced in his face, hair was curlier and shorter. Perhaps he was even a few inches taller. “The bookshop is right around the corner, I haven’t the faintest idea as to why you were walking in the other direction.” His voice was deeper, a bit raspier, as if he smoked pipes a lot. 

    As they neared the ‘bookstore,’ the glass display case on the outside wrote, “Atkinsons’ Books, established 1935.” Right above the door there was a sign announcing that it was the store’s fifth anniversary. Zayn may be a Literature major, but he could do basic math. 

    “It’s 1940?” He was mortified, Harry looking back at him like he was crazy. “It’s 1940?” He repeated again, a bit louder. 

    “The last time I checked, yes, darling. Well,” Harry looked at his pocketwatch, a pocketwatch, a fucking pocketwatch, dangling from a fucking gold ass chain, and looked back at Zayn, smiling. “We’ve about two hours until we’re expected home. Choose whichever piques your interest.” They separated, and too much was going on in Zayn’s head for him to register anything. He then realized that he was in a bookstore, this was basically his element. He decided to search for a book that was published after 1940. If it didn’t exist, then it would prove that he wasn’t in a dream. There was no way he’d ever have a dream that didn’t include his favorite books. He quickly sifted through the last names of the authors, looking for William Golding’s Lord of the Flies . Nowhere to be seen; it was published in 1954. He went up to the shop clerk and asked, and he said that no such book existed. 

    Well, fuck.

    He couldn’t even find it within himself to have a panic attack. He heard Harry call for him again, but the second he turned around, he was no longer in the bookstore. 

He had transported to another place, one with marble floors. He was in a large hallway, in a big house that kind of modeled his own. Were they in Belgravia? Harry, in different clothes, was walking towards him, the same big smile reaching from one end to the other. “Darling, I have something to show you out back, it’s a new project I have been working on.” He took his hand again, Zayn staring at his body trying to process the clothes Harry was wearing, looking down at his own body to find himself in a similar garb. He was led out of the hallway, through a door and was automatically hit with the visual of countless rose bushes planted in rectangles with paths interlocking through them. The smell was otherworldly, and it seemed like Harry was pulling him to the gazebo that was in the middle of it all. “A boat design, what do you think?” He slid over to Zayn a large blueprint, and Zayn didn’t even have enough time to react, because when he looked up, Harry was gone again. 

    “Harry?” He spun around, and suddenly, he was in the middle of the street again, except it was nighttime, London was pitch black with not a single car threatening to run him over, no bustling sounds and no people going about their business. He was standing in front of a building that was ten times taller than Harry’s house, and it was on fire. The whole street was on fire. 

    It was angry and vengeful, orange and yellow, breaking down window sills and although he was a good distance away from it, the heat was burning his face. There were children and nuns running out of the building in sheer terror, the fire patrol trying desperately to hose it all down. A few seconds later, he saw Harry running out with two little boys in each arm. 

Zayn began to run towards him, about to beg Harry not to go back inside, but by the time he even got close enough, the building collapsed, the force making Zayn fly back a couple of feet. When he looked back up, the fire had been put out. The whole street was black and smoking as he stared at the ruins, mortified. 

    “H-hey!” Zayn screamed at a constable who ran past him to help pick up a child that was standing near the building. Neither even looked at Zayn, and even when he stood up and ran towards the crowd on the other side of the street, no one could hear him, no one was speaking to him. He tried to grab someone’s shoulder, but his hand went right through their body. This alone made him collapse onto the pavement. 

    He woke up to discover that he was in a different place again, lying in a bed, in a strangely decorated room that felt a tiniest bit familiar. He tried to get up, but he couldn’t. He pulled off the duvet and screamed, the lower half of his body was completely destroyed. His hips were jutting out in unnatural ways, his body permanently bent and disfigured. He was also missing a leg. He whimpered, even more afraid of the fact that he had lost sensation in that part of his body, his fear quickly tripled when he lurched forward and began to cough up blood. People began to run into the room, people that he didn’t recognize one bit, it didn’t matter anyways because his vision was blurring and then, black. 

    Black. The whole world was black. The floor was black, the skies were black, all of his surroundings were black. He was standing in a void, until he began to defy gravity, his body floating upwards, and the void parted to reveal a large sun, the sheer size of it unfathomable, and Zayn was thrown towards it, he didn’t even have enough time to scream. 

    The next time he woke up was at the sound of Safaa knocking on the door. 


 

    Let’s rewind the clock a tiny bit, not 78 years, of course. Just a few hours, back to the night before. 

    “Jesus, Ni. You hate pot, the hell are you doing?” Harry dumped his friend into the backseat of his car, yes, he had a car in London--taxis get expensive--feeling incredibly winded after having to basically pick Niall up off the floor. 

    “I’m also a bit drunk,” Niall pointed out ten minutes after Harry had said anything. The latter rolled his eyes, expertly maneuvering through the London roads, back to Harry’s house. “Have you ever thought about how water talks? Like, the sounds it makes, maybe it’s talking to us,” 

    “Just go the fuck to sleep.” Harry sighed, making a sharp turn, jostling Niall in the back. “Sorry.” There was no way that he could take Niall home in this state, Maura would probably explode. As they began to near the S.Styles estate, Niall began fiddling with his phone. 

    “What time is it in Bora Bora?” An innocent question with a questionable motive. Harry parked suddenly, and Niall rolled into the car floor. “Ow.” 

    “You’re such a pain in the ass, Ni.” Harry sighed, taking in a deep breath before carrying Niall out of the car, his arms trembling from the weight. “And you need to stop eating so much, jesus christ.” 

    “I think it’s an acceptable enough time to call someone in Bora Bora.” 

    “Okay, Ni.” Harry propped him onto his back, holding his legs and walking into the house, nearly smashing Niall’s face against the door. “How the fuck am I gonna get you upstairs?” 

    “Oh, it’s Niall,” Harry’s dad couldn’t help but chuckle from the parlor. “It seems as though all adventures were successful tonight.” 

    “Dad, he’s drunk and high off his mind at 10 pm. This was not a success.” Harry grunted, running up the stairs with an energy spurt. “You smell like shit, Niall.” 

    “If iMessage works, that means they have wifi, right? Means I can call him?” Niall asked as his best friend shed every article of clothing off his body, wiping his face with a rough towel. “Damn, are these mine? You never gave them back?” He asked when Harry slipped a pajama set over his body. “Shit, they still fit. Need to work out more.” 

    “Call who, Ni?” Harry sighed dryly, shoving Niall onto the bed and covering him with the comforter. “Why the fuck do you still hang out with that crowd? You hate them,” 

    “I don’t hate them, they always have the good shit,” Niall laughed a little bit while closing his eyes, letting Harry tuck him in tightly. “Shit. Shit shit shit.” 

    “Don’t fucking O.D on me the next time you have a rough day, alright?” Harry mumbled as he inspected Niall’s nose and gums. “God knows you won’t tell me what’s bothering you, because you yourself already know it’s over something stupid.” Harry jabbed two fingers against Niall’s jugular to feel his pulse, then inspecting his forearms. Yes, sometimes it did get that out of control. 

    “Don’t you think Charlie is pretty?” Niall opened his eyes again, bloodshot and confused. “I think he’s so pretty.” He told Harry, who in all honesty wasn’t listening. Harry was still trying to gauge just how fucked up Niall got himself tonight, because again, God knows Niall won’t say anything. This is why the next sentence surprised the both of them, “Did a few lines, had a couple of shots. No black tar, I promised you I’d quit that.” 

    “And some weed, I can smell it.” Harry checked his forehead, really trying to hold back just how upset he was over the situation, because Niall typically had more control than this. “No speed?” 

    “No speed. Never done it.” Niall was falling asleep, holding onto Harry’s arm. “Haz, I love you, you know that, right?” 

    “Love you too, you fucker.” Harry couldn’t believe that a long time ago, he was in love with this little shit. But that was when Niall’s hair was brown and he was still very much Irish. That Niall also had his demons, too, which perhaps adapt to the times. For a quick moment, Harry wondered what even happened with Niall and Louis and Liam, if they even made it to Ireland. Harry wondered about the life that they might’ve led after the war ended, but not wanting to dwell too much on it, he turned off the lamp and walked out of the bedroom. 

    When Niall heard the door close, his eyes snapped open and went right back to his phone. He tested his theory by shooting Charlie a text, and when it was delivered as blue, a small part of him cheered. He hesitated before calling, but it wasn’t like he was going to change his mind. 

    The phone rang once, twice, three times. Niall’s heart began beating louder in anticipation, the thrill of whether or not the boy on the other end would pick up. So when he did, everything stopped for a moment. Niall’s whole being froze when he heard Charlie’s voice, and he couldn’t control it, couldn’t even say anything for the first five seconds. 

    “Hello? Niall?” His beautiful, smooth, voice, that wasn’t too high pitched or too low either. “Helllllooo?” 

    “Hi, Charlie.” Niall exhaled. “Fuck, it feels nice to hear your voice.” 

    “Woah, you sound fucked up,” Charlie giggled, the sound making Niall’s lip crack into a smile. “Had a bit of fun there, did you?” 

    “You’re so pretty.” 

    “Uh...huh,” Charlie scoffed, his voice twinging with concern. “Everything alright?” 

    “I know we just met, but,” Niall’s head was ringing, the darkness of the room began exploding into a kaleidoscope of color. “I think that you...are something else.” 

    “I think you’re something else too, Niall. But you didn’t answer my question; you good?” 

    “Do you think you could love someone like me?” Niall blurted out. “A good-for-nothing, dumb, selfish drug addict? Could my money alone entice you to stay? I’m so unstable that sometimes I can ruin good things before they reveal just how good they are. So, would you let me get my hopes up?” A tear ran down from the side of his face, a lifetime of disappointed stares and expectations creeping up his body. 

    “Niall,” Charlie started softly, and the former knew that he was about to say something bad. But he surprised him, the second surprise of today, “Of course I could fall in love with you.” 

    What? “Wait, sorry, could you repeat that?” Niall’s tongue was getting lazy, so most of the words weren’t understandable. 

    “You don’t need to put yourself on a pedestal. You don’t need to punish yourself for not being able to reach the expectations you knew were impossible from the beginning. I like you because you’re loyal, and you’re human. I’ve known who you were before we met, your family being quite public and all. People would call you the fuck-up out of your whole family, but, I think it’s gotten to your head a bit too much, considering it’s not true.” Charlie laughed, and it was crisp, warm, beautiful. “Your financial stability was just an added bonus.” 

    “It’s not even that stable, my mother likes to thoroughly drain my accounts every time I piss her off,” Niall let the phone rest right next to his ear. “Which is often. I just can’t be enough for anyone. Maybe I don’t even want you to be able to love someone like me.” 

    “You think I would’ve stayed if I thought you were too much?” Charlie hummed. “I mean, maybe the drug addict thing is a lot. You sure you can’t just stick to weed and alcohol?” 

    “It’s possible. But I get tempted.” Niall wanted to be honest. “I haven’t done super crazy shit, like meth, and I only tried heroin once before Harry beat my ass, so, yeah. I can do it.” 

    “He must’ve put the fear of God into you, I knew a couple of heroin users that got addicted after trying it once.” Charlie was so calm as he was saying this, as he was listening to Niall, and it was the safest feeling in the world. “Plus, your cooking isn’t half-bad, and you’re pretty smart. I think I could love you.” 

    “My hopes will reach sky high if you enable them,” Niall warned. “I might go batshit crazy over you,” as if he already hasn’t. 

    “Would you let me love you?” Charlie popped the question, “Would you let me try you out? Because so far, I quite like being with you. Maybe more than others in the past.” 

    “Then would we be exclusive? Because that’s kind of why I called in the first place. I nearly went home with someone today, and felt so awful I went a bit harder than I usually do.” Niall’s dreams were slowly inching up at him. 

    “Let’s be exclusive, then. Be only mine.” 

    Niall fell asleep right after he heard it. 


 

    We can now proceed with our regular programming, but this time, a few days ahead of when Zayn had his crazy apeshit dream. 

“So, Doctor XXXX predicts that if we continue at this pace, you should be able to be discharged by the end of the week. This is really good news, Louis. There were a lot of concerns with preserving your already existing heart and not making the call for a transplant, about the complications we might face. But you’ve healed excellently. Good job.” His other doctor smiled at him, and Louis took in a deep breath. His favorite nurse patted his hand, also looking extremely happy, but even though the news was incredible, he still felt like shit. 

    Liam hadn’t come back to see him, and Louis was slowly becoming miserable. The situation was hopeless, because what did they even want from each other? A month isn’t long enough for Liam to have found his true love, and Louis was in the hospital the entire time that he was supposed to be reinventing himself. Now look at him, unable to walk for more than five minutes at a time. 

    Louis is not the kind of guy that would ever admit to the things that scared him. But honestly, you don’t really need his audible confirmation to know. Louis is definitely terrified of love, unable to gauge the caliber of it, unable to measure up or down from it, unable to accept it. He’s absolutely petrified at the thought of being a bad person, because no matter how much of a ‘spoiled brat’ front he puts up, it always bounces back to square one, where no progress has been made, and Louis was still the same lost little omega that he never wanted to be. 

    It’s also extremely obvious what he isn’t afraid of. 

    He isn’t afraid of doing bad things, a superficial rush that no one would’ve ever been surprised that he’d be good at handling. He also isn’t afraid of being loud as long as it wasn’t about him. 

    And he is most definitely not afraid to die. 

    This should be a bit unnatural, for all humans have a primal instinct to survive, that’s why our brains make us feel pain, fear, and anger. When scared, we run. When in pain, we do anything to stop being in pain. When we are angry, anything is possible. But Louis has never let any of these three instincts define his life. He has been able to process problems and their corresponding solutions from the minute he was born, was able to recognize his own fragility. In complete cognizance, there is no such thing as fear, just a fuckton of sadness. 

    He was over being tubed up and wired into machines that were built to keep him alive desperately, and for a moment, Louis wondered if said machines could understand the fear of death better than he could. This hospital room was stuffy, plain, characterless. Trapped inside his own body, a body so weak and stupid that it couldn’t even handle the minimum of what Louis could do to it. 

    Perhaps his unusual act of desperation towards Liam was stemming from Louis’ need to be able to fear. Please fear that the love of your life is leaving. Please fear that the love of your life will find someone better, someone perfect. Please fear that everything is all your fault. 

    Conclusion: It is not fun to visit the inside of Louis’ head. 

    But speak of the devil, the Desperation walked back into Louis’ hospital room, holding a few random things, looking handsome as ever and wearing a pained expression on his face. “Louis,” Desperation started, his voice like fresh caramel on the turn of an autumn’s day. 

    “Liam,” Louis replied, and his body ignored him, hands immediately going to grip at Liam’s shirt. This was Desperation. This was fear. “Liam, I’m...I’m so sorry,” He began to break down as the love of his life set down the random things onto the bed so that he could wrap Louis in his arms, softly murmuring the plot of a sweet dream into his ear and kissing his head in between the words. 

“I love you,” Louis said, and it didn’t sound cheap or overused this time. “I died and I still love you. That’s gotta fucking mean something.” 

    “I love you too,” Liam softly held Louis’ face. “There is no way that you aren’t the love of my life.” 

    Louis’ hands shook as he sobbed into Liam’s chest. 

    “Even if I was reborn into a new life, I would still love you,” Liam continued, bending down to kiss Louis’ lips and wipe his tears away with his thumbs. “Even in every parallel universe--” 

    “Okay, I get it.” Louis sniffed, this probably wasn’t happening right now. He’s either in a dream or maniacally hallucinating. But then Liam shoved the teddy bear he bought for him from the hospital gift shop into his chest, all embarrassed and fucking adorable, and that was when Louis knew it was real. “Jesus Christ, you make me human.” 

    It was true. Liam embodied all the things that define humanity, because without him, there was fear, pain, and anger. Liam kissed Louis gently, then again, and once more after that. 

 


 

    Insanity had begun to creep up on Zayn every second of every day. When Zayn would try to do anything, he’d instantly get struck in the face by a memory or a flashback of some sorts. 

    He didn’t remember what happened after he read that newspaper, just that suddenly, all the breath was knocked out of his lungs and there was pain all throughout his body, and when he woke up, nothing was the same. Sometimes he didn’t even recognize his own bedroom, he became hyper aware of scents and movement. He had no idea what was happening, but he knew that it had something to do with Harry. 

    He instantly decided that Harry could never know what Zayn saw. Not only would he not believe him, but it’d probably put a strain in the thing they’ve been doing. He was going to try and be normal, act the same, pretend like nothing even happened. His family had already forgotten about his pseudo-seizure from a few days ago. It just threw him off every time Harry would call, like his lungs would try to jump out of his body. 

    The phone rang and Zayn turned his head so quickly he nearly snapped it, answering at a pace close to the speed of light. “Hi, Hazza.” ‘Hazza’ was a new thing he was trying out, Harry didn’t seem to mind. He had no idea why he wanted to call him Hazza, but if he tried to think about it, it’d just be a shitshow. 

    “Hi, babe. I just wanted to let you know that my rut’s supposed to be this week. I’m planning on just using suppies and riding it out till it’s over.” It sounded like Harry was outside somewhere. Zayn hated it. He wanted Harry to stay inside his house, where he was safe, and...and… “I don’t want you to feel any kind of pressure to help with my rut, darling. It’s too soon, and from this point on I want to take things--” 

    “Fuck, you are not stopping me.” Zayn growled, and he could imagine Harry’s reaction in his head. “Where the fuck are you right now?” 

    “I-I’m near the intersection at XXXXX and XXXXXX, why?” Harry chuckled nervously, but a bit turned on at Zayn’s sudden aggressiveness. 

    “Great, I live near there. Don’t you fucking move. I mean, obviously if something’s about to fall on you then you should move, but--” he knew he sounded crazy. 

    “Yes, yes, darling. I’m standing very still right now.” 

    “Good.” He let another growl rip, ending the call abruptly, flying down the stairs and out the front door. He ran as quickly as he could, because he knew his window of energy was short. Harry said that he was two streets away, and so Zayn sprinted. He was about to die by the time he got to the end of the street, but when he turned he could see Harry’s obvious outline hilariously stopped right at the intersection where he said he’d be. When Zayn got there, the first thing he did was grab Harry’s jacket, sparking a turn around and a smile. 

    “Hi, babe.” Harry laughed at Zayn’s panting and sweaty presence. “You okay? You sounded a little panicked.” He pulled Zayn closer into his arms, rubbing at his back. Damn his sexy alpha-ness, it was diverting Zayn from the goal. 

    “I want to be there for your rut!” Zayn said loudly, the four people on the other side of the street turning to look at them. Harry cough-laughed again, squeezing Zayn a bit tighter so that he was hidden behind his long coat, away from prying eyes. No one was to look at his baby. “I want to be with you all the time, Harry,” Zayn whined a little bit. 

    I need to make sure that my dream was just a dream, not some kind of fucking dark omen. “I need to protect you,” Zayn pouted his lips when Harry seemed unsure. “I don’t want you to be all sick and lethargic for three days. If I was with you, it’d only be one, right?” 

    “I’m a bit of a handful during my ruts, even with suppressants it can last for a week. Without them, maybe a little over two days. I don’t want to hurt you.” Harry pushed his hair back, leading the both of them to a more conspicuous area. 

    “You won’t. I’m made for you,” Zayn said it and Harry cringed. “We’re supposed to be together, baby. Don’t push me away.” 

    “Darling, when have I ever insinuated that I was going to--” 

    “Your family’s gonna be out of town, right? They’ll be in Scotland for an animal rights charity event?” Zayn said as Harry peppered kisses all over his face. “I know because my family’s leaving too, including Safaa, now that she’s expressed interest in Zoology. It’s a big event, no powerful family in the U.K would miss it. There will be investors there, your mom’s an investor, right?” 

    “Your point being?” Harry raised an eyebrow. 

    “I can be with you without them knowing,” Zayn frowned when Harry immediately shook his head. “They already know that you’re the reason I smell different anyways. They can’t stop me.” 

    “You’re right, they can’t stop you. But next time they’ll have the better arms.” Harry brushed at Zayn’s face and hair. “We need to lose some battles in order to win the one that counts.” 

    “Harry, please.” Zayn begged, puckered his mouth a little, saddened his eyes a little. “I want to be there for you.” 

    Harry was very hesitant, but after a few moments of contemplation, he agreed. “But this means I help you with your heats from now on too, okay? No more fucking shots that make your whole arm one big bruise.” 

    “I missed you,” Zayn kissed Harry’s lips, “I always miss you when you’re not around.” 

    “Babe, you saw me yesterday.” Harry rolled his eyes while laughing, secretly pleased. “Are you hungry? Ah, I know you’re not, but you probably haven’t eaten all day so let’s go somewhere.” They held hands and Zayn practically skipped all the way to the street of restaurants in Belgravia. 


 

    “Have a safe flight, baba.” Zayn was squeezing his father tightly in his arms, trying to get as much of his familiar and safe scent in before his parents left. 

    “It’s just for a weekend, love. The plane ride is only an hour too, so if you need us, just call.” A firm kiss was planted on Zayn’s head. The plane ride was so short to the point where his parents were already dressed in their formal attire, probably to make some dramatic entrance on the venue, walk out of their private jet together. “Trisha? Do you know where my pocket square went?” Yaser called out, patting himself down to see if he forgot anything else. 

    “I left it on the ironing board, love!” Zayn’s mom called from upstairs, where Wali and Safaa were helping her choose the right jewelry. 

    “Got it, thanks. Are you nearly ready, girls?” He called out, the pattering of feet following just seconds after he did so. “We will be far past fashionably late at this rate.” 

    When his baba passed by him, Zayn got a good glimpse of the pocket square neatly tucked into his suit jacket. It was hand embroidered, and suddenly, an image flashed into his mind, 

    Embroidered kerchiefs are too nice to be used as bathing rags. 

    “What the fuck,” Zayn muttered under his breath, slapping his head a little.. He looked up when he saw that his whole family was being escorted out the door by one of their bodyguards, planting final kisses onto his face before waving and leaving. Seeing Safaa and Waliyha so excited felt foreign. In fact, seeing Safaa and Waliyha at all felt foreign. Zayn had no idea why. 

    After watching their car leave the driveway, he crawled back into the house, feeling very small all of a sudden. But thank goodness for Harry’s freaky timing, ringing Zayn’s phone. 

    “Hi darling,” Harry’s voice sounded a little tired, a little raspier than usual. “Everyone’s left?” 

    “Yeah, they just drove away right when you called me.” 

    “Really? My family left like two hours ago!” 

    “And unsurprisingly, mine likes to make an entrance.” 

    “That’s fair, who wouldn’t when the whole family shares those eye-catching genes?” Harry laughed a bit, making Zayn blush. “Truth be told, I’m not feeling all that well today. Maybe some rest is needed.” 

    Zayn bit his lips, he’s been doing that so often nowadays that they were bruised. “Maybe...come over? I can...delivery order some chicken soup,” They both giggled. 

    “Maybe if I’m near you, I’ll feel better.” Harry’s voice lowered into a whisper. “It’s worked once before,” they both had no idea why they were beating around the bush like this. 

    Zayn has been extremely clingy the past couple of days, mainly because of this new paranoia he’s been exposed to about losing sight of Harry and then him...dying. Understandable. “Hazza, come over.” There it was again, that illustrious ‘Hazza.’ Had he heard it being said once before? 

    “Okay, send me the address. If I fall asleep and crash my car on the way there, please give Niall all of my Beatles records.” They hung up, Zayn feeling very relieved as he typed his home address to Harry. He decided to run up and take a quick shower, steaming his body and trying to loosen up any tension through opening his sinuses and breathing deeply. The anxiety was still there. 

    You have to leave the apples to sit so that all the water comes out, or else the pie will be soggy. 

    “Jesus, what the fuck. What, the, fuck.” Zayn shook his wet hair wildly, feeling very lightheaded all of sudden as he stepped out of his shower, ruffling his head with a towel and changing into a new set of clothes. As he was walking down the stairs, the doorbell rang, and through the chiseled glass door he could see exactly who it was. 

    The evening was just about to set it, so when he opened the door, the cool breeze flashed through his damp hair, making his head feel cold while the rest of his body was still burning. Harry looked delicious, but Zayn would never say that out loud. 

    “You look delicious--” Oh, there it was. Zayn has always had that nervous tick, where he is unable to control his thoughts to the point where his mind can only filter through them by releasing some out of his mouth. “Fuck, I’m sorry. I feel all crazy right now.” 

    “You’re the one who looks delicious, Zayn. Actually, can we stop saying delicious? It’s freaking me out a little bit.” Harry sighed in content as Zayn pulled him into the beautiful house. “You smell so good,” they greeted properly as Harry swooped down for a kiss. “Your home is beautiful.” 

    “Thanks, it’s kind of a clusterfuck of antique and mid-century pieces. Most of this furniture has been passed down through generations.” Zayn held Harry’s hand, breathing becoming harsh as he led through the house. “Uh, do you want anything? Water, maybe?” 

    “Water would be great.” 

They walked into the kitchen, sitting Harry down on one of the barstools at the kitchen island, while Zayn pressed a tall cup against the fridge, ears ringing every time an ice cube hit the glass. 

Ice? In the summer?  

“Fuck.” Zayn let out, holding his head. His hands began to shake a little bit, so he set the 

cup down and pressed his hands on the counter to steady himself. Harry stood up to grab him, a worried look spread across his face. Zayn’s stomach knotted, his lungs felt like they were tying themselves together. 

    Your scent, you’re so stunning, I don’t know what’s the matter with me… 

 

    I thought my heart was going to burst.

    “Zayn? Darling?” Harry was grasping him tightly, even lifted him up so that he was sitting on the counter top so that Harry could get a clear view of his face and chest. Zayn came back down from his freak out with Harry rubbing at his arm, his first instinct to grab Harry’s face with both hands. He wanted to make sure that he wouldn’t just disappear. “Zayn?” 

    Zayn’s voice quavered, “Fuck. Fuck.” 

    “Alright, babe, just try and take deep breaths, okay?” Harry wrapped Zayn’s legs around his wait, supporting him from underneath as he carried him out of the kitchen. 

“Let’s just have a conversation.” Zayn was angry, annoyed, anxious beyond comprehension. Harry nodded, choosing any one of the loveseats in the parlor to sit them down, and although it wasn’t their library, there were still several shelves of books pressed up against the walls. 

Something about this scenario felt too similar, and both of them knew why, but kept it to themselves. It was easy for the mood to become awkward. “Let’s talk about real life shit, and shit.” 

“O-okay,” Harry slowly retreated his hands from Zayn’s waist, feeling a bit embarrassed and a little shameful. Then something came over Zayn, something he couldn’t necessarily control, an inner voice that was in the back of his head the entire time was now exploding, and it was not pretty. 

“I hate myself. I consider myself to be a failure. I don’t think I could ever deserve you, and so much inside me keeps telling me that this won’t work somehow.” The truth left his lips like a knife rising off the cutting board. Both of them felt shocked, neither was expecting for Zayn to say what he just said. “But I can’t let go of you, because, because...if I let you out of my sight I keep getting scared that you’ll, um.” 

“I feel the same way. You know, I actually don’t think we have all that much in common.” Harry took that same knife back down onto the cutting board, extremely distressed at what he was saying. But he couldn’t control it, “I don’t even think that we’re that compatible.” 

This was good? They were having a real conversation between two adults, and will deal with this like real adults, but to say that their hearts didn’t break would be a lie. Also, what the fuck? 

Perhaps this was worse for Harry than it was for Zayn, because the existential crises he had come up for the last six weeks have proved him wrong. Perhaps this was never fate, because he couldn’t even tell whether this was love. Maybe the only reason why Harry took Zayn to his house that night at Sean’s was because he just assumed there would be something there. 

“This fucking sucks, dude.” Zayn crawled off of Harry’s lap, sitting next to him at least a foot away. “Let’s just confirm it right now, how incompatible we are. I don’t want kids.” 

“I do.” 

“I want to become even richer.” Zayn stared right ahead. 

“I want nothing to do with the part of my family that makes that kind of money.” 

A beat of silence. “I hate being in relationships. It’s always been that way, to make myself unaccessible purely because my family can’t afford to have raised a fuck up that ran off with the first alpha that made him feel special.” 

Harry didn’t respond to that one. 

Zayn’s body nearly gave out on him. “Perhaps I care about you, but… past physical attraction, I don’t think we have much.” He blinked furiously to prevent any tears. “What are we holding onto, Harry?” 

 

They both knew. They both said the same thing in their heads. 

I’m holding onto the person that you were before, the person that died in that orphanage, and it was my fault. 

 

Harry still didn’t know that it was him that did not survive the collapse. He still thinks that Zayn was the one who perished in that horrible, horrible bomb fire. The information that Zayn survived and became a published poet had only been revealed to Safaa and Zayn himself. 

But one thing was clear. Both thought that the other had no idea about the things they knew from those years in the 40’s. Zayn was still trying to figure out if it was all a dream, while Harry was trying to slowly forget it.

What was it about them now that just didn’t work? The spark was there, but it was merely a mirage to hide the fact that there was no fire. They had very few shared interests and dreams, and their families would never be able to accept them. Every time Zayn grabbed Harry’s hand in 1941, it felt different than in 2019. In those dreams, those terrible, awful dreams, the few moments where he could hold Harry and all his old timey splendor, he could feel that magic rushing through his veins. But not now. Not in this time. Perhaps not anymore. 

“I’ll always love you, like,” Zayn started, but felt too shitty to make up the end of that sentence. “But maybe we rushed into this.” 

“Maybe,” It was a whisper. Harry stood up, brushing his hands off like ‘what the fuck just happened’, as if all of a sudden Zayn turned on him. “I’m...I’m feeling really ill. Niall will be waiting for me to come back home, so,” 

“Yeah, of course.” Zayn was confused. He was so very confused as to what was really occurring, it was all disorienting and made no sense. 

As Harry picked up his jacket and pulled his keys out of his pocket, he suddenly got angry. He ran back into that burning building for Zayn, and now he was being thrown away. “Lose my number.” he said in a calm but shaky tone. He walked out of the house without having seen the reaction evident on Zayn’s face, but he immediately regretted saying it the second he sat down behind the wheel in his car. 

“Fuck you,” Zayn kind of screamed, still confused as to what was happening, “Fuck you,” while watching Harry pull out of the driveway. The situation quickly overwhelmed him, a plethora of emotions taking over his entire body. 

He loved Harry, but at the same time, he didn’t. Not really. Harry was just supposed to be a fun fling, a short thing, but now, everything was jumbled and messed up in his head. 

Zayn thought about Harry’s face in that ‘dream’ he had, the length of his hair, the slight curl of his smile. The gold pocket watch and hung from a chain on his right leg. The shoulders, lips, legs, and the wisdom that seeped out of his eyes. Zayn crumpled to the floor right at the doorway, feeling like he had just lost a whole piece of himself. 

As Harry sped away, his heart was beating extremely quickly too. Instead of the road, he saw Zayn’s young, tanned body in the darkening sky, with his hollow cheekbones and that pensive expression permanently etched into his face. He thought about the Zayn that had such wonder and acceptance of the world even though he knew nothing about it. 

This Zayn knew too much of the world. Nothing would ever be simple and intrinsic with him, especially if he’d been surrounded by people like pessimistic-realist Louis all his life. 

Then Harry thought about Louis too, the alpha Louis, who was generous, kind, optimistic, full of hope. 

He gripped the wheel tighter as his foot pushed down harder on the pedal. 

If you remember, in his address to the general public about the fascination surrounding ‘the country boy hero’, Zayn had mentioned how he had once prayed to the universe that if he and Harry should meet again, this time, Zayn wouldn’t be as pitiful and Harry wouldn’t be as genuine. One can only wonder if their humanity has evened out to his satisfaction. 

But who knows? There are too many factors at stake here to reach that kind of conclusion just yet. 


 

    When Niall woke up in Harry’s guest room that morning, he was met with the worst hangover possible, the sound of his phone loudly screeching into his ear. That specific ringtone was only ever meant for one person. He groaned, accepting the call with his eyes still closed. 

    “Niall James Horan, I swear to fucking God--” 

    “Mam, please. My head,” Niall’s mouth was so dry to the point he was nearly gagging. “I already know what you’re going to say and do, alright? So just, just do it.” He didn’t even let her respond to that before he ended the call abruptly. He thought about sleeping a little more, but then decided he’d rather get drunk again and pass out, so he dragged his weight downstairs to the Styles’ liquor cabinet, taking the gin out only to turn around and see that Harry was across from him in the parlor, nursing a bottle of rum and looking extremely aggravated. Niall almost rolled his eyes. 

    “Good morning. Move over.” He walked over to Harry and leaning over him. “Yes, you, fucker. Who else?” When Harry shifted his body weight to the side of the chair, Niall stuck his hand right in between the hand rest and the cushion, feeling around a bit until he pulled out a little baggy. Harry was absolutely mortified. 

    “You hid drugs in my house?” 

    Niall shrugged, “I’m here a lot.” He popped a Xanax in his mouth and washed it down with gin. “Want one?” Harry looked like he wanted to refuse, but fuck, he really was not about to refuse. He downed his with rum. 

    Niall let out a sigh as he sat down on the chair next to Harry, looking mindless and truly miserable. Harry couldn’t even help at this point, because he was feeling the same way.    

    “You ever wonder where we went wrong?” Harry asked, and Niall snorted. “Like, I’m being serious right now. I think I’m going insane.” 

    “You came outta your mam’s cunt insane,” Niall said in a vulgar tone, taking another swig. “I should know, because so did I.” Because there was nothing in his stomach, the Xanax was kicking in early. “The fuck’s up with you?” He sort of snapped at Harry, who let him disrespect him so. 

    Harry understood. Sometimes, Niall gets tired of being lovable, gets tired of being alive. “Zayn totally dumped my ass yesterday.” Niall spit out his gin while Harry downed the rest of the bottle of his rum. “It’s too fucking late to start suppies now.” 

    “Oh shit, you’re so fucked.” Niall laughed at him. “So, so fucked.” He jumped up, setting the bottle down at the nearest flat surface and headed towards the piano, reaching behind it and feeling around for another bag that he had taped there last quarter break. Once he found it, Harry’s eyes widened at the sight of pure cocaine, at least an ounce of it. He groaned, deciding that he was too tired to yell at him today. Niall stuck a wet pinky inside the bag and sucked on it like fun dip. 

    They stayed there in those same positions until Niall’s phone went off again, making the both of them lose their shits for a second. “Jesus fuck,” Harry moans, slamming his head against the rum. Niall dragged his feet over back to the chair, plopping down onto it and answering the call. 

    “Who the fuck is it?” 

    “Well, that’s no way to greet your new boyfriend, hm?” 

    Niall’s eyes widened, pulling the phone back to check who it was. It was Charlie, and Niall’s heart practically stopped. “Oh fuck, sorry love. I just kind of woke up.” 

    “You sound high. It’s 11:30 in the morning.” 

    Niall frowned, how the fuck would Charlie know the exact time in the U.K? 

    “When you fell asleep on me, I guess you didn’t hear the part how I was at the airport when you called. I’m in London right now, coming to visit my dad.” Charlie sighed at the confused sound Niall made. “Can I come over? Where are you right now, baby?” 

“Baby? I’m baby?” Niall asked innocently, sinking into the armchair even further. “I’m at Harry’s house.” He announced, much to his best friend’s dismay. 

“And where would Harry’s house be?” 

Niall elbowed his friend in the face. “Harry, where are we?” 

“We’re at my house.” Harry grumbled, turning over to his side. 

“The address, you idiots,” Charlie said in a dry tone. “I don’t even want to know what you had for breakfast this morning.” 

“We’re somewhere on Weatherby Lane,” Niall scratched at his head, feeling too rushed inside of his head to really think.

“That’s where your house is, dumbass.” Harry giggled. 

“We live on the same fucking street, you fucking dumbfuck.” Niall shot back, but then getting distracted by Charlie’s laughter. 

“What color is Harry’s house, baby?” There is was again, that ‘baby.’ Niall could find himself a slut for it. “How big is it?” 

“It’s white and excessive.” Niall answered, his heart began to rush a bit too quickly all of a sudden. “Belgravia.” 

“Alright, baby. I’ll be over in a second, don’t die until I get there.” 

“I had some fun dip, not going to lie to you.” 

“He means coke!” Harry shouted, and Niall smacked him with his phone. Charlie ended the call.

 


 

Louis woke up panicking. He couldn’t hear a single thing, first off, and secondly, he couldn’t breathe. 

There was physically nothing stopping him from breathing. The oxygen mask was on, Liam was by his side, mouthing something at Louis as his doctor and nurses rushed in. White noise, panic, holding onto Liam. 

Suddenly, a nurse made a fist and harshly ground her knuckles against Louis’ collarbones, making him gasp in pain and pass back out onto the bed. His ears popped, and now he could hear everything just losing his shit all around him, Liam clutching his hand like Louis was about to die. 

Louis wanted to die. He tried taking back control of his voice. “Li-Li-“ 

“I know, love, I know, I’m here.” 

“I forgot—I forgot—“ 

“You forgot how to breathe,” the savior nurse finished her sentence, facial expression a bit grim. She and the doctor looked at each other, and Louis began crying. 

This was his life now, trying to navigate which parts of his brain that sustained damage, having to make Liam worry all the time in case Louis falls on the street out of nowhere or chokes himself to death. Right now, he didn’t even have the strength to hold his body up. 

“We’re discharging you today,” the doctor concluded. “You need to be home with your family and your alpha.” 

He felt Liam hold his head and kiss the side of it, and it was again that Louis felt like nothing about this was right. 


 

 

“Baby, I think I’m outside. Can you come out so that I can make sure I didn’t wander onto some other rich fuck’s property?” Niall’s eyeballs were hot. He wasn’t really listening. 

“I’ll fucking get it,” Harry seethed, he was burning up and angry. He stomped over to the door in a zig-zag pattern, struggling to locate the doorknob before yanking it open, and there Charlie was, right outside the large gates. The latter waved at Harry, and Harry pushed the button to let him in, wordlessly going back to the parlor, slumping again on the armchair. 

The second that Charlie stepped into the house, something in Harry snapped like a rubber band stretched too far, and all three froze. Harry’s eyes became black and spidery, and the rum he was holding in his hand shattered into a thousand pieces, his hand began to pour blood. Charlie weakly fell onto his knees, using his arms to support his weight. “N-Niall?” 

It was like Niall’s high dissipated in that moment, jumping up off the floor after taking one look at his best friend. He ran over, scooped Charlie up in his arms, and sprinted past Harry, who was bloodied and growling. 

Charlie whimpered into Niall’s neck, feeling the slick pour down his legs, the alpha pheromones in the air making his head blank and body hot. “Niall-“ 

“I know, baby, I know,” Niall ran up to the third floor of the house, finding the music room and settling Charlie down on the couch. He peeled off his sweater, holding it to Charlie’s face with a kiss on the lips. “I’ll be right back, love, yeah?” Charlie nodded as he stuffed his nose in Niall’s sweater, feeling weak and desperate. 

Niall ran back down the stairs, only to find Harry gone from the parlor, a trail of blood leading back up the stairs. A roar was heard from the second floor, and after realizing that he had gone past Harry, he ran back up, absolutely horrified. 

Which way now? Left? Right? This mansion was stupidly big. He decided to go left, running into all the rooms and trying to find his best mate before he destroyed anything. 

Charlie was terrified, in all honesty. He was still on the couch that Niall left him on, squeezing his thighs desperately to try and stop all the slick that was ruining his favorite pair of pants. He heard a roar, definitely closer than the first, and panicked, forcing himself to get up and lock the room. 

From the small crack underneath the door he could see Harry’s footsteps pacing about, trying to find the source of omega that had catalyzed his rut. When he finally found it, Charlie hiding in the corner petrified, a low growl escaped his throat, making Charlie whimper a bit and more slick ran out. 

Harry tried the doorknob, but after discovering it was locked, with one clean kick it came straight off the hinges and Charlie screamed. Harry spotted him instantly, beginning to crawl towards him on the floor with the scariest fucking eyes that the latter has ever seen in his life, snarling gutterally. Charlie was frozen, and by the time Harry’s body was over his, slowly leaning down in between demonic breaths, all he could think was, 

Fuck. It’s over. He’s going to bite me.

He braced himself for the pain, jumping in surprise when instead of teeth, his neck was met with Harry’s nose. 

“N-not, not you.” Harry said in his normal voice, sounding just as scared as Charlie felt. “Not you.” 

Charlie would have cried in relief, but this was a crucial moment. He lifted his hands to slowly push at Harry’s chest, trying to be as calm as possible. “Where’s Zayn?” Harry asked in a small voice, the tone of it making Charlie’s heart break a little. Niall finally figured out that Harry had gotten to him, getting to the doorway absolutely mortified, but Charlie had it under control. 

“It’s alright, babe. Zayn’s coming,” He was holding Harry’s head to his chest. “Right, Niall? Zayn’s coming?” He looked up at him with fearful eyes. 

“Y-yeah. Zayn’s-Zayn’s coming.” Niall cursed in his head, going back to the parlor to grab Harry’s phone, quickly unlocking it and calling his number. He had to call him four times, the fucker was declining all of them. Finally, the last attempt went through. 

“Harry, I—“ 

“It’s Niall.” He rudely cut him off. “Harry’s in rut. This is your problem now. I’ll send over the address, and if you’re not here in twenty minutes I’m going to have to do an emergency epi pen.” 

“Fuck.” The call ended after that, and Niall ran back up without any hesitation, peeling Charlie away from Harry and getting him out to another room on another floor; the guest room that Niall usually crashes in. Again, the house was excessively big. 

“Baby, I need you,” Charlie was sweating buckets, delirious and probably going into a sympathy heat. “Please, babe, plea—“ He was thrown onto a bed, the door locking with Niall quickly ripping off all of their clothes in less than two minutes. His alpha reached over to the nightstand, pulling the drawer out to get the heat and rut condoms that he had stashed there a long time ago. (Don’t ask why, but the same reason why he also hid multiple illicit drugs in the house: He was at Harry’s a lot.) 

“Wanted to treasure you lots,” Niall licked a stripe up his thigh, practically drinking the slick pouring out of the gorgeous creature spread out on his bed. “But I have to take care of you quick, yeah?” Charlie moaned loudly when Niall pressed in two fingers into his hole, clenching around them and becoming even more wet. 

The sound of the condom package being ripped open was music to his ears. Niall slipped it on his hard-on, pulling Charlie’s body down roughly until he was right where he needed his baby boy to be. There was no time to hesitate; he lined himself up and began pushing inside quickly, leaning his torso down so that Charlie could hold onto his back. 

Every thrust was pronounced, the slapping noises they produced were echoing off the walls, the pace punishing and brutal, knocking the breath out of Charlie so that he couldn’t even moan. He began scratching at Niall’s back in retaliation for how rough he was being, and Niall started sucking on a part of his neck without any mercy. 

It was about five minutes of non-stop ploughing, Niall’s crazy libido and strength finally able to reach maximum potential as he held his omega down. Alphas have big cocks, everyone knows this, and if Charlie wasn’t in a heat-like state right now, it would’ve been painful as fuck. 

The base of Niall’s cock began to grow, threatening to stretch him further with every continuing thrust, and that hurt. As the pace slowed, now Charlie could scream every time that monstrous, wide thing tried to shove inside him, Niall pulled back from working on his hickey to bite Charlie’s neck. As his body relaxed, his knot slipped right through, connecting them together. When Charlie came all over his stomach, Niall followed. The former began to cry tears of relief, his alpha’s teeth still holding onto his neck. Niall forcefully intertwined their hands together on both sides, and for a second, Charlie thought it was cute, but quickly realized it was really an extra measure to hold him down as Niall was knotting him. That’s still sexy, I guess. 

The feeling of the condom stretching and expanding inside him was really strange, but yet, still exactly what he needed, at least until Niall began to press his hips harder into Charlie, causing him to scrunch up his face in discomfort. Why do alphas do that? It’s not like we can fucking escape either way. 

It was about ten minutes later when Niall’s knot began to soften, slipping out gently and quickly threw the monstrous looking condom away. Charlie was well and truly fucked out, still lying on the bed with legs and arms spread. 

“Fuck,” his voice was shaky. “I didn’t think it was possible for me to cum that fast.” He looked over at Niall, who was quickly putting his clothes back on, coming back over to the bed to give Charlie a sweet kiss. 

“I’ll be right back, baby.” Fuck, Niall’s voice was at least half an octave lower. Charlie had to close his legs as his alpha left the room.


 

Zayn had been waiting outside the gates of Harry’s house for about five minutes now, ringing the bell every thirty seconds. He was nervous, a bit scared, feeling a tad regretful, but all his chances of running away vanished when the gates began to open, Niall opening the front door in the distance. There was at least a 50 foot gap, so when Zayn got reasonably close, he could smell the sex radiating off of Niall’s body. His hair was fucked up and shirt was on backwards, they silently nodded at each other, and Niall wordlessly pointed upstairs, Zayn obediently went. 

He nearly tripped, Niall following until they reached the second floor, and Niall left to another room. Zayn didn’t need any more directions; he could smell Harry the minute he had stepped foot inside the house. His body became restless, uncomfortable in a lot of places, and by the time he reached the third floor, his knees were shaking. Right in front of the stairway was an unhinged door just lying on the ground, he looked up to see which doorway it previously belonged to. He stumbled to the naked room, spotting Harry in the corner holding his head in between his legs and crying. 

    “Harry,” Zayn’s voice was shaky. “Harry?” The mentioned looked up, eyes black and silver, lips and hand bleeding. Zayn didn’t know what to say next, so he just walked over to him, and the second his hands touched Harry’s hair, Harry snapped up and grabbed his wrists forcefully, huffing angrily and eyes flashing red. He crawled on top of Zayn, pushing him down onto the floor, and Zayn could see just how hard his breathing was, his chest expanding and contracting wildly. The breath was knocked out of him when Harry instinctively began by biting down onto his neck. By the time he pulled away, his lips and hand had healed over. Zayn became putty in his arms, expecting something painful to happen next, but instead, demon-like Harry just kissed his face, licked at his neck, all while still pinning him to the floor. He seemed desperate, Zayn could sense how sad he was too, judging by the way Harry would pause to stare at his face every few seconds. 

    “You.” Harry’s voice sounded insane. Zayn silently nodded in response, letting out a soft gasp and slick beginning to spill all over the floor when Harry acknowledged him. “Mine.” 

    “Yours?” Zayn said it like a question, and Harry didn’t like that. He stood back up, picking Zayn’s body up and over his shoulder, walking to some other room that Zayn couldn’t see from his limited view. 

    “Mine,” Harry repeated again, still huffing and eyes red as he flipped Zayn onto a large bed. “Say you’re mine.” 

    “Hazza,” Zayn tried to deflect his questions, keeping in moans as Harry’s hands ran all over his body in absolute hunger. He shrieked a little when Harry lifted up both legs to bury his head in between Zayn’s thighs. It was clear that Harry was aching in multiple different ways. 

    Harry came up for air, licking his lips while looking at Zayn from in between his legs, and that enough could make anyone cum. It didn’t matter how scary he looked right now. 

    “Why aren’t you mine?” Harry asked in a broken voice, pinning Zayn’s wrists down to bite at his face and neck. “My body works so well with yours.” 

    “Hazza,” Zayn exhaled in ecstasy when Harry decided to lift him up onto his lap. He widened his eyes, “I am not fucking riding you. Hell the fuck no. Gravity is going to rip me apart.” 

    Harry whined like a spoiled child, pulling off Zayn’s stupid shirt and his own stupid clothes. They were getting in the way of the very tasty, yet unattainable treat. In his fuzzy mind, he didn’t really register who Zayn was or what they were doing, just that he smelled right and felt right. When his dick grazed over Zayn’s hole, his lover slapped at his chest a bit, repeating something about a condom. He let tasty snack get off of the bed to search for one, eyes following his every move. If tasty snack tried to run, he’d pounce on him. 

    Zayn found one, thankfully one for heats and ruts, slipping it on Harry and situating his luscious, soft thighs around his waist. He seemed tense, so Harry bit him again to make him relax. He made some unintelligible noises when Zayn pulled them back down onto the bed so that he was hovering over him again. 

    This boy was unbelievably beautiful, scent unbelievably enticing, eyes shiny and lips red. Harry wanted to kiss him, but he kept on turning away. He decided to be a brat and bite the beautiful boy again. 

    “Ah, fuck. Stop it,” Zayn was reacting in so many ways to Harry’s behavior, his lower region producing more slick as all the muscles in his body relaxed. “You need to stop fucking biting me, motherfucker. Get in here.” Tasty snack pushed Harry’s hips forward, entering him fully and both moaned. Zayn screamed, actually, because Harry was bigger than any alpha he’d ever had sex with, and it was even more when Harry was in rut. 

    Demon-eyed Harry looked down at where they were connected, pulling back slowly, relishing the whimper he ripped from Zayn’s lips, slamming back down into him and tasty snack came all over his stomach with a scream. Harry wanted to lick it off, but he needed to knot tasty snack first. 

    Merciless. That’s maybe how Zayn would describe it. Harry was holding his entire body down as he fucked into his body hard, like an animal trying to claim their mate. With each thrust, Zayn’s eyes rolled back and he instinctively began to bring his hips up to meet Harry’s. Their actions were desperate and confused, their physical compatibility trying to overcome their emotional differences, and it’d be a lie if Zayn said that this wasn’t the best pounding he’s ever had. Even in the memories of his past life, Harry never got like this. 

    But after a while, after cumming onto his chest and Harry’s chin a few times, it was starting to become uncomfortable. They had been going at it for at least thirty minutes now, and Zayn was starting to feel gross through all his sweating and how he was kind of in a puddle. 

    “Harry, knot.” Zayn tried to coax it out of him, petting the alpha’s hair softly. It ended up working, he began to feel something large trying to go into his hole, and he nodded, pulling Harry down again so that he could wrap his arms around him and squeeze his shoulders for dear life. He began panicking a little, he couldn’t even get the courage to look at what was about to go inside him, but Harry could obviously feel how tense Zayn was getting, because he sunk his teeth in his neck again. Zayn gasped, “Hazza--” and when his body relaxed, Harry pressed all the way in, pulling another orgasm out of the boy under him. 

    It was a little awkward, Harry was pushing his hips further into Zayn continuously, as if he could get deeper, and it hurt a little. The grip he had on Harry’s shoulders made Zayn’s knuckles white, his toes curling at every wave of warmth, and Harry kept on biting him. Alphas get so possessive during their ruts, it was a little unbelievable. They stayed connected like that for a while too, Zayn kept on thinking how knots usually don’t last this long, he kept on hoping that the condom wouldn’t go overcapacity and explode inside him, but just as he began to actually get worried about that last concern, Harry softened, pulling out of Zayn gently and throwing the condom into the wastebasket. He sunk back on top of Zayn, holding his hand and moving them so that Zayn was cuddling into Harry’s chest. 

    Harry was getting sleepy, he must’ve been so exhausted. His eyes were returning to their normal verdant hue, and he instinctively put an arm around Zayn and placed his chin on his head. “Zayn?” Harry asked, his normal voice sounding high pitched compared to just a few minutes ago. “Zayn? How come you came?” 

    Zayn pulled back a little to kiss Harry’s chin, “Because this is my fault. I’m the one that made you skip your suppressants, and you’re my responsibility.” 

    “Are we really ending this?” Harry asked, pulling Zayn close again. 

    Zayn closed his eyes, he had given up on trying to pretend he didn’t like how Harry was snuggling him and kissing him so kindly. “I don’t know,” was his honest answer. 

    “You’re a prodigy. I think you know.” Harry replied, eyes closing as he passed out, his grip on Zayn’s waist not letting up a single bit. 


 

    “This is my new flat,” Liam held Louis’ hand as he unlocked the door with the other. “I do have to say, marginally better than a grad student dorm.” 

    Louis smiled weakly, rubbing his thumb over Liam’s hand and walking into the apartment. It was indeed quite nicer than where Liam was living before. It was spacious, had great natural lighting, and in the bedroom, a sizable bed. They sat down on the couch, Louis immediately moving to hug Liam closer to his body, to feel Liam’s heart beating against his own. 

    “Do you think you could move on?” Louis asked out of the blue, Liam pulling back to cock his head at the strange question. Louis looked at him quite seriously, “If I died.” 

    Liam groaned, pushing Louis onto his lap so he could wrap himself around him. Louis wanted to answer the question first, “...because I can’t. If you died, I would die too. But that’s just me. I want to know if you’d be okay.” 

    After thinking about it for a second, “If at the hypothetical event occurs where you are no longer here for whatever reason… well, would you want me to? Move on?” Liam asked, kissing his love over and over again. 

    “Yes,” it was a whisper, practically a prayer. “I would want you to.” Louis leaned into the last kiss, prolonging it a bit further. 

    “Then maybe I’d try. It won’t work, but I guess I’d try.” Liam ran his hands through Lou’s hair. “Lou, I love you.” 

    Louis lets a tear fall, trying really hard not to lose his shit again. He was thinking. He was contemplating. Liam knew that face well. “Lou--” 

    “Will you marry me?” Louis cut him off. “Would you? Knowing that I’m a flight risk?” Liam froze. “Because I’m not going to do it if you couldn’t move on.” Louis was so serious. “I don’t want to die and continue to drag you around. I already feel like I’ve wasted your life.” 

    Liam was still processing that first bit, understandably so. 

    “D-did...Did you just ask me to marry you?” Liam asked in a monotonous tone, Louis feeling very frustrated that he missed the point. 

    “I don’t know if I was asking,” Louis tried to pull some bullshit, now feeling very exposed and vulnerable. Liam shook his head at him, holding a finger to his lips to shut him up. (Ugh, gotta love it when Liam shuts Louis up and says his piece, it’s sexy.) 

    “Stop thinking about the unknowable factors, baby.” Liam’s grip on him was tight, and his eyes were starting to change color. “Live now.” Louis shivered. 

    Liam kissed him again, joining bodies like the last piece of a 1000 piece puzzle. “Marry me.” Liam said it, and it was no longer a question. 

    Louis turned bright red. “Fine. Your loss.” 

    The happiness was obvious though, the safety, the security. This was Desperation. This was Fear. This was 

    Love. 





Chapter Text

“Harry.” 

“Harry, wake up.” Zayn poked his cheek over and over again, exhausted, gross, and famished. After that first time, Harry then woke up and fucked Zayn from behind, on his back with legs straight up, from the side, up the wall, over the bed, even riled him up enough that Zayn rode the shit out of him...you get the gist. Now it was quite possibly the next day (neither of them really checked), but Harry’s rut had cleared. Zayn tried again, “Harry.” 

He finally stirred, his first instinct to grip Zayn tighter, but after a sound of protest and a slap on the arm, he popped one eye open, and the sunlight made his eyes look even brighter and striking. “Is it morning?” Zayn really tried to ignore Harry’s morning voice. Zayn pointed to Harry’s arm. “Hm?” 

“Let me go, so that I can shower. And eat. You remember eating, right?” Zayn tried to dodge an attempt at a kiss, so Harry settled for one on the forehead. “You’re making this whole ‘let’s end this’ thing really difficult and confusing.” 

“You’re the one who came into my home while I was in rut and shoved me inside you,” Harry deadpanned, Zayn squirmed. 

“My conscience told me to be here.” 

“Don’t try and say this was a pity fuck.” Harry’s mood was already ruined, he got up and went right for the restroom stark naked, leaving Zayn to kind of just sit there in silence. There was a knock on the door, Charlie poked his head inside. 

“It smells disgusting in here. Like, disgusting.” Charlie was taken aback a little bit, motioning for Zayn to come to him. When he tried to get off the bed, his legs were so shaky that he just kind of slumped onto the floor, and Charlie had to force himself to walk in and help Zayn out. “There are many many restrooms in this palace of a house. Here are some clothes, I ran back and got some of mine. They might be a little big,” Charlie handed him a t-shirt and sweatpants, and Zayn stepped into the shower. 

When Harry got out of his, Niall was waiting for him at his desk, he had the window wide open and all the sheets taken out, for sanity’s sake. Niall was giving him that same smile he always flashes Harry when given an opportunity to validly torment him. “So, how did it go? We heard most of it, but I wonder if this will complicate anything between you guys?” The sentence tipped into an exaggerated question, Harry rolled his eyes as he got dressed. 

“He’s not interested in being in a relationship with me anymore. Honestly, that’s fine. If not now, it would’ve happened later.” Harry’s tone was extremely passive aggressive, Niall made an audible wincing sound. 

“But you’re soooooo compatible.” Niall put his feet up on Harry’s desk. “He’s soooooo perfect. Two days ago, you were in love with him, and now you’re all bitter. We should talk about what happened, huh?” 

Harry didn’t reply automatically, he was too busy thinking, I’ve wasted so much time believing in something that was meant to fail. Of course shit like this just doesn’t happen, we’re two extremely different people that would’ve never met had I never gotten that stupid fucking nightmare. “Just… when something doesn’t work, it just doesn’t work, right? Plus, my mum hates him.” Harry shuffled his hair around in the mirror. 

“Why do I get this feeling that shit is gonna hit the fan?” Niall sighed exasperatedly, walking out of the room. 

“So,” Charlie said, making Zayn jump and try to cover himself with the towel. “The door doesn’t have a lock.” 

“Uh…” Zayn’s face went red, it was hard not to feel intimidated by a person like Charlie. “I-I uh, didn’t even know you were here.” 

“Yeah, my dad lives here. Niall and I are trying it out.” Charlie leaned against the sink, making straight eye contact with Zayn for a good ten seconds, making him close his eyes tight when another white flash took over his body. 

And ‘opia’?” 

“The ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable.

 ...So probably like right now.

“Zayn? You still with me?” Charlie had moved forward to steady him so that he didn’t hit his head on the wall. “Shit, you okay?” 

“Yeah,” Zayn’s voice trembled. “Just uh, I get weird headaches sometimes. But it’s passed now.” Charlie didn’t seem convinced, and Zayn’s face was getting redder as those piercing eyes watched him get dressed. “So uh, is there a reason you’re in the bathroom with me…?” 

“Niall said you broke up with Harry.” Charlie shrugged. “Thought that was strange, considering.” 

“Considering what?” 

“Considering how well matched your pheromones are, among other things. Both score super high on the 1-100 scale, both come from rich families, both are beautiful and young and will probably make lots of beautiful rich babies. You were kind of a perfect match.” 

Zayn swallowed, feeling uncomfortable. “Physical compatibility isn’t everything.” 

“You guys were so smitten. Harry would literally start running every time you’d tell him to come over.” Charlie pressed on, feeling like he was getting close to a satisfactory conclusion. 

“I don’t want babies. Harry doesn’t wanna be rich. Our families hate each other.” Zayn refuted all of Charlie’s points. Charlie raised a brow, and he looked fucking ethereal doing it. 

“You don’t want kids?” Charlie asked, following Zayn out of the restroom. “How come?” 

“I just...I realized I just don’t want to be in a relationship. I just don’t fit well with most people, Louis understands.” Zayn was now trapped with Charlie, considering that this was not his house; he had nowhere to run. 

“You didn’t answer my question. Something’s telling me that you’re holding back.” 

Zayn didn’t answer for a second, he was too busy thinking, 

I can’t live with myself knowing that I know something he doesn’t. I can’t live with feeling as though he’ll disappear within thin air any second. That he could be taken. That another person who’s close to me will try and leave. 

If you remember, both have no idea that the other has memories of the past. Also, Zayn has suffered a considerable amount of trauma this past month, with his best friend nearly dying; the only person who truly empathizes with his complex view of the world. Plus, he didn’t have a good track record with alphas, it’d be better not to get whipped and then thrown away like some dollar store omega, like Louis warned. Zayn meets Charlie’s eyeline. “It’s just not...written in the stars for us, you know?” Charlie nodded in a way that meant ‘I guess,’ leading Zayn downstairs to feed him some of the groceries that Niall went out and bought. 

You’re right, Zayn. It isn’t written in the stars. It’s embroidered on the biggest thing plastered in our blue sky. Hint: Earth orbits around it. But enough of the symbolism, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.


 

 

“Liam? Hi, babe. Could you, um, I’m sorry to ask this all the time but, could you pick me up from someone’s house?” He was now in the gigantic kitchen, sitting at one of the seats at the dining table. “Oh, Louis’ there with you?? He got discharged? No one told me? What do you mean ‘it was a last minute thing’?? People don’t get discharged on a whim, Li. Bring him too. Ugh.” Zayn snapped his phone shut, 

Charlie was chopping up vegetables on a cutting board as if he were in his own house. “You okay? Did something happen?” 

“You remember Louis, right?” Zayn tried to explain. “He got a heart attack a month ago, nearly didn’t make it.” 

Charlie’s face softened. “That fucking sucks, dude. Is he okay now?” 

“A little bit of brain damage, but he’s healed remarkably well otherwise,” Zayn bit his lip, it felt disgusting trying to talk about this, he felt like throwing up at the thought of Louis leaving him without even a goodbye. Charlie set down a plate of food in front of him, but Zayn couldn’t even look at it. He suddenly couldn’t even think about eating. 

“Hey,” Charlie looked at him with a knowing look, “You better eat. I’ve seen you naked. I’m a nurse, and I know malnourishment when I see it.” 

“I just, food is so gross most of the time. I only really eat when I stand up and I get dizzy.” Zayn explained, but because Charlie wasn’t letting up, he picked up the fork and attempted a few bites. “S’good.” 

“Mhm,” Charlie was a lot sassier than Zayn expected him to be. “You’re a little handful, aren’t you?” Again, the eyes. One was green, the other was half green and brown, a little creepy, a little enchanting, a little ‘all knowing.’ 

Niall came downstairs, no Harry to be seen, immediately heading straight for Charlie lips first. When the latter pushed him lightly, playfully dodging every kiss Niall tried to make, Zayn almost puked, disgusted only with himself. How dare he think that he could ever have that

The phone rang, vibrating against the counter, giving Zayn an excuse to drop the fork and get up, answering the phone hurriedly without even saying goodbye to...to...Chiall? Nharlie? Whatever. “Li? Yeah, it’s the big white one. I’ll be right outside.” Zayn said in a cool tone, Charlie running after him with a bag full of food. Jesus, this guy really was trying to dig deep into Zayn, and they practically just met. As Zayn escaped out the front door, Harry was going down the stairs, only seeing a flash of black hair pass by him like he didn’t exist. 

Whatever. 

“See you next quarter!” Charlie called out to them, Zayn, Louis, and Liam, smiling smugly as he turned back around to face Harry. “Don’t be so glum, chum. It’ll put wrinkles on your pretty face.” 

“Yeah, chum.” Niall parroted, finally seeing his chance to kiss Charlie and taking it. 

Harry groaned. “Go do that in your own fucking house,” shoving them out the front door. 

“I left breakfast on the stove,” Charlie called out as they were leaving, and he and Niall just laughed to each other, holding hands as they began the tedious trek of walking down the street, whispering about all the things they predict will happen between Harry and Zayn. 


 

The new quarter begins. Louis is medically cleared for school, and Liam decides to move in with Zayn and Louis until they finish their degrees. Zayn still does not know that Liam and Louis are engaged. (It’s all been a soap opera, who even had the time.) 

The day comes where they all bid goodbye to their respective families, Charlie having met up with his father and half brother, Hunter, who, with his impeccable acting skills, pretended that it was the first time he’s met Niall. His conclusion was that Chartreuse’s family were all too cunning and too beautiful for their own good.  

Harry was angry the entire ride to the airport. He was angry on the flight back, because Niall had annoyingly upgraded Charlie’s seat, they were basically fucking right behind him. He was angry on the ride back to his apartment. 

Zayn was furious too, Louis and Liam were all snuggled up with each other like that was a normal thing, considering they had broken up and Louis died because of it, but whatever. He was sleep deprived and malnourished, having had the worst nightmare the night before about old-timey Harry being lit on fire. He was cold the entire time, because now most of his bones had less fat to keep them warm. But whatever. 

The whole mood was just...whatever. 

Classes started up again, Zayn and Harry never crossed paths, they really didn’t have any reason to; they were committed to two different parts of the campus. They went on with their studies, went to parties (well, not Louis), and acted as though the last seven weeks never happened. The only difference now was that Charlie somehow got a hold of Zayn’s phone number and periodically checks on Louis’ health and how much Zayn’s ribs were showing. He was a really nice guy. 

Then it happened again, an unlikely, but still somewhat plausible scenario. 

Picture this: Zayn sitting at a bar after successfully lying about his age, sipping a cocktail that was too sweet while making googly eyes at the bartender. He liked messing with bartenders. All of a sudden, Harry walks into the same bar, spots Zayn, and sits right next to him. 

Now change Harry to Sean Montgomery. 

“Hi, Zayn.” Sean looked nervous, sitting down on the stool next to his and immediately turning to face Zayn. He was told to make his body language clear and approachable. 

Zayn’s reaction was understandable, his pretty face muddled with traces of disgust, rolling his eyes as he tried to leave. But Sean grabbed his arm softly, a whisper begging him not to go. Zayn has no choice; their strengths are too far apart. 

“What do you want, Sean?” Zayn growled, throwing Sean’s hand off of him. “I thought it was implied that you never go near me again.” He turned to leave the bar, Sean following after him like a lost puppy. 

“Zayn, I’m sorry.” But it didn’t work, Zayn didn’t turn back. “Zayn,” Sean called out, jogging after him. Damn, he was being very persistent today. Sean catches up and stops Zayn from walking any further. “Please hear me out. I’m so, so sorry.” 

Zayn had to relent. “You have five minutes,” he seethed, giving Sean his most menacing glare. Sean gulped, looking anxious and not at all douche-like. 

“I had no idea that the drugs were actually laced. It sounds like a lie, but it isn’t, and either way, it’s still my fault because I still bought them even though I heard they might be bad. I truly wasn’t going to do anything, when I saw you were getting tired I laid you on my bed, and when I came back, I only reacted that way because…” Sean couldn’t make contact. “Because I thought he was hurting you. Then he started spouting crazy shit and ran off with you, and I’m also sorry about that.” 

It seemed truthful enough, and Zayn didn’t like harboring grudges on people he could possibly use in the future. “Okay, yeah, I can see that.” 

“Are you okay?” Sean asked, and it sounded genuine. So this is Sean, exhibiting more character right now than he has in his entire life. Sure, he was still too dumb for Zayn, and a little too weak, but Zayn knew his parents. He knew Sean couldn’t have possibly turned out that bad if he had nice parents like those. What a relief to know that he was right. 

“I made everyone in the house throw it all out. I swear, you can call the police and have them do a check. You won’t find anything, it won’t ever happen again. It was irresponsible, and stupid, and-and it put so many people in danger. Like you.” 

And maybe it was because Zayn had been starved of affection, or maybe it was because he wanted to settle, but he stepped closer to Sean, even daring to reach a hand out to hold the side of his face, looking at him with his practiced ‘loving eyes.’ “I believe you, Sean. I do.” 

“You do?” God, this guy was such a gullible idiot. “Can you forgive me?” He was so stupid enough to think that what Zayn was doing was real, judging by the way he lifted his own hand to put it over Zayn’s. “I’m so sorry for being such a douchebag these last few years. The truth is, I just...I-I was just never told how to do this right. So I started therapy and anger management counselling. I realized a lot of things this break.” 

“You did?” Zayn moved closer, now wrapping both arms around Sean’s neck, and hearing the idiot’s breath hitch was like honey to Zayn’s ears. He got closer, and Sean’s pupils dilated. “That’s so good, Sean. I’m proud of you.” 

“Yeah?” Idiot asked. 

“Yeah.” Zayn gave him a sweet peck, brushing a hand under Sean’s chin before turning and smoothly walking away. This was going to be so fun. 


 

“Harry, guess what.” 

“Hm?” 

“I passed my class.” 

Harry’s head snapped over to face Niall’s in complete surprise, the shock evident in his eyes. “Wait, for real?” Niall slapped the back of his head. “I mean, oh yeah, I knew you’d pull through…” 

“I get it, I’m dumb. I didn’t even know I passed, I just got a notification saying that my trust and checking has been replenished of all funds. I am no longer on a rationing budget.” Niall showed Harry the bank account from his phone. “I guess my mom checks my grades faster than I do.” 

“Niall, being able to pay rent for a $3000 apartment, along with groceries, and still being able to fuck off and get drinks every weekend is not a rationing budget. Stop making us look like the spoiled rich brats we are.” Harry laughed a little, continuing to work on his paper. “I can’t wait to be finally done with this stupid fucking degree.” 

“So, you’re not going for the doctorate, is what you’re saying?” Niall was throwing potato chips up in the air and catching them with his mouth. “Don’t most anthropologists have to get a doctorate?” 

Harry didn’t want to say anything. This new quarter had been weighing heavily on his soul. 

“Aaaand what about Zayn? I wonder if he finished his Russian Literature shit, Char never tells me anymore.” Niall lit the fire, incredibly pleased with himself when Harry’s ears went red. 

“Sorry, who?” Harry grumbled, incessant typing getting louder and more aggressive. It was either break his keyboard or Niall’s face. 

“You know who. You were saying his name in your sleep last night.” Niall shrieked and dodged when Harry swung at him with a five pound textbook. “You were all like, ‘Z-Zayn, Z-Z-Zaynnnn--” He rolled off the couch to escape Harry’s wrath, surrendering to the kitchen still chewing his chips. “What kind of dream were you having there, eh, Haz?” 

Harry didn’t answer again, for now he was on his concluding paragraph and if he stopped now, he’d never get it finished. But definitely distracted by Niall’s statement, he thought to himself, You don’t want to know the dream I had. 

This was his dream. 

Harry was driving to the capital when cries and shouts grabbed his attention, hundreds of people screaming and the entire street to his left was on fire. The car skidded to a stop and he ran out immediately towards the small children that we either coming out of a certain building or getting too close to it. He asked them through their snot and tears where was everyone else? Where is your governess? To which the children pointed to the tall structure embedded with fire and threatening immense tragedy. He pulled off his coat and ran without hesitation, hair singed as he dodged through all the burning debris and smoke making his eyes tear. He spotted a young woman trapped underneath a bookshelf, and after trying to lift it off of her for a second, it seemed impossible. But suddenly, he looked over and another pair of arms were helping him push, small and not that strong, Zayn kneeled next to him with intense fear. They met eyes, exchanged some words that Harry couldn’t hear. They got the young lady out safely, but the horror of it all was how Zayn was crawling further inside. 

He began to think of all the questions he would’ve had in this moment, as a human of this situation, as a human of this time period, as a human who was definitely either lucid dreaming or revisiting a lost a painful memory. 

Why did he run after me with such resolve, even though he is clearly terrified? 

He is so small, so weak, and timid, and here he is, the clothes on his back burning as he 

slides deeper into this inferno, a hero he must make himself, but what for? 

Get Zayn out. Get Zayn out. Get Zayn out. 

Suddenly, as the building began to finally crumble, everything stopped. 

Harry’s eyes were clenched shut, he had not yet noticed that he was suspended in time. 

Everything was frozen, even the flames paused exactly how they were. When he opened his eyes, Zayn was on the floor, crushed underneath the piece of the ceiling that had given up on its structural integrity. Blood everywhere. Eyes closed. 

And there Harry was, still standing there, looking around at his surroundings, he turned to face the main entrance and saw the frozen expressions of bystanders and fire patrol with arms reached out towards him. 

Why stop at this exact moment? He had remembered this memory so many times before, but this time, it pressed pause right before the climax, to maybe torment him, or maybe make him see something he missed the first time. 

He turned back around and jumped when Zayn was standing up, no longer on the floor, no longer bleeding, just looking at Harry with a gleam in his eye. 

Harry’s hands began to shake, and his tongue could not muster a single word. Zayn’s clothes were fresh and new, not burned, face not covered in ash and tear stains, and then, he smiled. He looked right into Harry’s eyes. 

“What are you waiting for, my love?” Zayn asked him, Harry still stunned and speechless. “This is your chance. Go. Look at how they need you.” Zayn cocked his head to the side, referencing the civilians outside. “My brilliant city man, brilliant city man.” 

“What do you mean?” The sentence finally got past his lips. “Zayn?” 

“It’s not me who needed saving, my love.” Zayn blinked slowly at him, the slight smile still there, it was a longing look that he was flashing at Harry, full of his characteristic pensiveness and tranquility. “You could’ve ran out. You should have ran out.” 

“You-you died.” Harry couldn’t understand why Zayn seemed so peaceful and calm, this was one fucked up dream, but that was the thing that made the least sense. They said goodbye to each other. They died together. Right? 

Zayn pointed right above them, and Harry tipped his head back. From where he was standing, or where he would have been laying, a grand piano from the upper floor would’ve fallen on Harry’s head. But because it was so light relative to what was pinning Zayn down on the floor...then...then… 

“Even if the entire street fell on me, as long as I survived the initial weight, I could have survived anything.” Zayn finally let it be heard. “This is what you missed, my love.” 

“What are you saying?” Harry fell to the floor, the ghostly Zayn joining him. “What are you saying?” He repeated. 

“That the universe doesn’t make mistakes.” Zayn whispered, lips ghosting over Harry’s forehead. “My Harry. Trying to find me until his very last breath.” 

“Zayn.” Harry grabbed his hand, desperate to touch him, to stare at his face again, or more likely, that expression. The way his eyes looked at you, the glassy sheen over his lips. The fear he wore like it was his most favorite cape. 

“You’ve found me.” Zayn squeezed his hand. “But of course, now, we are different, aren’t we? Things are so difficult now. But I promise that it’s not just the face that is the same.” Zayn began to disappear, the whole world began to disappear. 

That’s when Harry woke up in a cold sweat, hyperventilating and hugging his knees to his chest. 

So now, Harry finishes the last sentence of his essay, slamming the laptop shut and getting out of the house so that he could print and turn it in. 


 

 

“Liam,” They were on the bed, cuddling and only cuddling like they had been for the last two weeks. Louis was beginning to get a little antsy. “Liam?” 

“Babe, no strenuous activity.” Liam already knew what he wanted, not really looking up from his book as Louis was cuddled up right with him. “How do you feel?” 

“Good,” Nowadays, all Louis wanted to do was get close to Liam. Specifically, press his ear against his chest to listen to his heartbeat. Nothing made him feel safer. 

Even though Liam wanted to point out how cute it was, he knew that Louis would stop doing it out of spite if he said anything. This was a nice angle to reach down every once in a while to peck at Louis’ head. It’s almost as if their bodies were craving each other’s warmth and assuredness of their existence, because only disastrous things come when they are apart. “I’d feel better if you gave me a handjob.” 

Liam rolled his eyes, exhaling loudly. “You’re a little freak, you know that? Would risk getting another heart attack for an orgasm.” 

“I’m your little freak.” 

“Yes,” Liam kissed him again. “Yes you are.” 

Louis had been napping the entire day after his lecture, because a morning class now felt like a 14 hour trek up the Appalachian mountains. He hated when Liam went to work at his stupid Pharmaceuticals job with his stupid Business degree and stupid sexy medicine smartness, because his bed felt really cold without him. Liam suggested a heating blanket, but the glare he received made him quickly stop. “Liam, are we really getting married?” 

“You tell me,” Liam flipped the page. “Are we?” 

“I was just asking again, in case you changed your mind or something.” Louis mumbled, leaning up more so that he could bury his face in Liam’s neck. “Then you won’t have to go to work.” 

Liam leaned out so that Louis could get closer, “So you’re telling me that you’ll commute every day and work?” 

“I have a trust fund and investments in multiple properties and stocks. I’m not working, hell no. And neither will your mum. I’ll take care of all of us.” Louis was getting fired up, and it was the most adorable thing in the entire world. 

“Louis Tomlinson, I love you.” Liam finally put his book down. “But I’m still not giving you a handjob.” 

“God dammit.”


 

“Sean, babe, everyone’s watching.” Zayn giggled half-heartedly as the alpha attacked his neck in the North courtyard, sitting oh so inconspicuously on his lap for everyone to see. “You don’t need to mark me everywhere, they all know I’m yours.” 

Sean stopped, looking up at Zayn with his gray eyes. “I know. I’m just doing it because you’re so fucking delicious.” He was being unironic. 

Gross

“I have class to get to, babe. Don’t you have practice? We can meet up later for dinner?” Zayn stepped up off his lap, neck sore from all of the weak hickeys and bites that just wouldn’t go away even after a couple of days. Sean slapped his ass as he walked away, and Zayn had to bite down on his lip. He walked past the large cluster of Montgomery groupies that practically hissed at him as he went by, thinking himself with utmost genuineness, You can do so much better, ladies. 

Truth be told, no matter how much of a sleaze Sean was, he was very, very easy to control. He does everything Zayn asks of him, the conversations are simple, and the sex was...good enough. It helped that Sean wasn’t ugly. 

Most importantly, Zayn didn’t get terrifying and gory visions every time he was around Sean, and just in that, there was no way he could find something to resent. Zayn didn’t necessarily consider this to be forcing himself to try and be with someone, because it wasn’t really about the relationship that Zayn craved. Over time, the mentality of “perhaps I could be satisfied with him” quickly overtook anything else, because what was really all that wrong with Sean? He was handsome, fit, wealthy, and would stay that way. Zayn’s mother made it very clear that it could be anyone but a Styles, and so he will deliver. 

This time of year, he was now instructed to check out a Dostoyevsky, so he began strolling down the familiar path to the north campus library, the trees lining the pavement beginning to slightly shift to their yellows, whistling flute noises; the wind rustling all those leaves. He was nearly done with this degree, and it wouldn’t be unlikely if Sean proposed to him by the time they graduated, and even if he didn’t, there were always the boys back home in England. Zayn was set. Zayn was determined. 

He waved hi to Rachel, who smiled at him as he tapped in, steps silenced by the university library carpet, the mahogany study tables filled with stressed freshmen trying to pass their finals. Zayn went straight for the Russian Literature section, per usual, acknowledging the many recognizable classmates likely doing the same thing he was doing. Fluttering his fingers over all of Dostoyevsky’s books, he found Demons and pulled it out gingerly, taking it to find a seat somewhere to begin his project. The seat he liked to occupy was usually available, so instinctively checked there first. He stopped dead in his tracks when a familiar smell wafted to his nose. 

Harry was in that seat by the window, legs up and crossed over one another across the window sill, taking a nap with arms crossed and a copy of Requiem by Anna Akhmatova open and upside down on his lap. Zayn silently cursed, immediately spinning a 180 to go the other way, but the shuffling of a body and a low whisper stopped him again. “Zayn?” 

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. 

Zayn turned around, trying weakly to act like he didn’t even notice Harry there. “Oh, hi, Harry.” He cringed in his head, not knowing why he was trying to cover up his neck from view. He couldn’t even meet Harry’s eyes, the sunlight facing him through the window was blinding. 

“I could smell you from a mile away,” Harry chuckled, but it wasn’t enough to ease the tension thick in the air. “How are you?” He uncrossed his legs, sliding over to jump off the window sill, closing Requiem and brushing off his legs. He was coming closer, and Zayn couldn’t even run. 

It had been a month since they last saw each other, when they abruptly ended their relations with each other for reasons that neither could explain. Zayn’s heart was thumping so hard he was sure everyone could hear it, He’s going to touch me, and it’s going to happen again, I just, I just know it. 

Harry finally got about two feet away, his lovely scent stronger than before. Oranges and roses and cinnamon and tobacco and peppermint and apple-- Apple? 

Are you making another apple tart, darling? Goodness, with all of them we could probably pass them around to the neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Williams would trade one of them for a bottle of their orange blossom water, are you keen?

“Hi.” Harry kept his voice quiet, they were in a library, after all. 

“H-Hi.” Zayn looked down, feeling overwhelmed and about to cry. He felt Harry’s hand ghost over his shoulder, and he flinched away. Don’t get closer. Please. Please. Another white flash hit Zayn like a ton of bricks, so much so that he stepped back. 

I cut my finger on my textbook. I was boiling mad, I screamed and threw a fit in the library…

My mother spanked me so hard over her knee after giving my tutor such a hard time, and even then, the paper cut ranked a close second.

“Zayn?” Harry didn’t take the hint, now fully holding his chin and tipping it back to reveal all the damage Sean did on his neck. Zayn gasped, eyes snapping open to see that Harry’s eyes has gone dark, feeling very powerless when Harry’s other hand wrapped around his waist and forcefully yanked him closer. Of course, all the marks and hickeys began to disappear when Harry touched him, the hormones practically radiating between their bodies. Harry kept his chin up as he glared at Sean’s bite marks slowly fading away, he wasn’t even breathing. Just completely still. 

Zayn steadily put his hands up to push Harry away, and surprisingly, he stepped back. Harry’s bottom lip began to bleed from how much he was biting it, looking at Zayn one more time before walking away, having never felt more furious in his entire life. He had so many questions and emotions charging up his system that he nearly body slammed every student on his way out the door. 

Zayn stood at the same place for a moment, with shaky hands he touched his neck, realizing that being near Harry healed all of Sean’s work. But he was determined that the memories that rushed into his head were painful enough to stay away. He checked out his book without looking Rachel, or anyone, for that matter, in the eye, looking down as he rushed back to his apartment in tears. 

When he was close to the lobby door, he decided to make a call. The phone rang once, twice, and then at the third time his baba picked up. 

“Hello, jaan, to what tremendous occasion warrants this phone call?” Yaser teased, sounding very pleased that his son was casually checking in. Zayn’s breaths broke and he sniffed a little, dropping his head into his hand. “Jaan? Everything alright?” 

“B-baba, I...I—“ 

“Zayn? What happened?” 

“I think I’m done with school. I already have a doctorate and Russian Literature turned out to be a lot more boring than I thought. Can I come home?” 

Yaser sighed. “Zayn, you have one more quarter. You know your mother will not let you give up on this one.” 

“I know, but—“ 

“I’m afraid there is no but. I have a feeling this sudden wanting to come home isn’t because you aren’t enjoying this major. Is this about Harry Styles?” 

Zayn reached the lobby door, turning it open with his key with knees wobbling and head hot. “We’re not together anymore. But that isn’t the only reason why I want to come home. I’m so tired, baba. I’m tired of living this life in America, where I can’t be held accountable for anything and now it’s all coming back to bite me. I’ll go to Africa with mama for a year, go golfing with you every day, I just...I need more discipline.” 

“Now I definitely know that it’s just about the Styles boy. Since when has my Zayn ever craved discipline? Or stability? What makes you special is your confidence, jaan. You know that you’re capable of surviving anything.” 

Surviving? 

The choice of words sent a shiver down his spine just as he unlocked the apartment door and was greeted with the scent of Liam’s cooking and the sound of Louis’ playlist. “Surviving?” His thoughts became known out loud. 

“Yes, jaan. Surviving. You can survive Harry, Zayn. A heartbreak isn’t worth quitting school so close to gradu…” He stopped listening. 

You can survive Harry, Zayn. 

There was no siren. There was no magic.

“Zayn? Beta?” Yaser asked kindly, just as as a concerned Louis pulled Zayn in for an embrace. “Are you still there?” 

“Yeah, baba, I uh, I’ll talk to you later. Love you lots.” Zayn hung up quickly just as he broke down, Louis hugging his head and kissing his face repeatedly. The wailing scared both of them, Liam shooting Louis a concerned look from the kitchen area. Louis rubbed Zayn’s back, the furrow in his brow deepened when he realized there were bones that weren’t supposed to be sticking out were sticking out. Liam hung his head again, plating the dinner he made for all three of them and carried it to the coffee table, setting it down to hold Zayn from his other side. 

“Zaynie, love?” Liam was so good at being comforting and nurturing and wonderful, and softly coaxing it out of Zayn has worked their entire lives. But not today. “Tell me what the fuck Sean did.” His voice got low as he cursed, and both Louis and Zayn snapped their heads up in surprise. 

“It’s happened,” Zayn sniffled, beginning to wail again. “Leemo’s been corrupted and it’s all my fault.” He was trembling like a little leaf, Liam was shaking his head so hard he nearly gave himself a headache. “Sean didn’t do anything. Sean does nothing. Sean is boring and nasty and plain.” Zayn let Louis swaddle him up in a blanket like a baby, and he pulled the bundle close to his chest. 

“So...Sean didn’t do anything, and that’s what’s wrong?” Liam blinked, but it did make sense in a way, considering both he and Louis detest this relationship, Sean Montgomery even existing was wrong. 

“Li, he’s shaking so bad.” Louis pet Zayn’s hair, wiping away the continuous tears with his other hand. “Zayn, lovie, tell me what happened, hm? Baby?” His best friend looked so sad and pale, it broke his heart. “Why don’t we talk about what’s been going on with you lately?” 

“Lou,” Liam’s tone seemed uneasy. “Let’s tackle one thing at a time—“ 

“Nah, I think we should just rip the bandaid off right now.” Louis shook his head, squeezing the bundle of Zayn tighter. “You’ve been distant with me ever since we came back from London, you’re not eating again, and you’re fucking someone with the IQ of a monkey.” Liam couldn’t help but snort, but the glare Zayn shot him made him retreat. 

“He doesn’t have the IQ of a monkey. Maybe a golden retriever.” Zayn let Louis place kisses on his neck and head. 

“Aaaaand you have avoided every conversation about Harry Styles,” Louis murmured, Zayn was still shaking but he wasn’t sure if it was a concern or not yet. 

“What do you mean I’ve been distant from you?” 

“Alright, pasta time.” Liam propped Zayn so that he was sitting up, twirling a bite of spaghetti with a fork and holding it to his face. “I have never seen you this thin in my entire life.” 

“I thought you were in love with Harry Styles,” Louis continued, eating his pasta and looking at Zayn back and forth. Zayn was resisting Liam’s feeding, looking quite ill and done with everything. “Actually, I know for a fact that you were in love with Harry Styles. Then you never hung out with him or mentioned him ever again. Not even secretly, because you don’t smell like him anymore.” 

Zayn finally accepted the bite just as an excuse to not have to answer. Liam rolled his eyes, this was getting nowhere and Louis was just being a little shit at this point. “Zaynie.” 

“Yes, Leemo?” Zayn was shoveling food into his mouth, looking extremely unhappy about it. 

“I want to know why it didn’t work out. Please tell me the truth.” Liam grabbed the plate to slow him down, it was like he was trying to choke himself. 

Zayn chewed slowly, swallowing and looking Liam in the eye, then Louis. He sighed, “Okay, okay. It didn’t work out because all of a sudden, I was getting a bad feeling around him. It felt like I was getting pulled back and forth in the sense that I’m so bloody attracted to him, but then at the same time, I don’t even think I like him. Does that make sense?” 

“Kind of.” Louis cleaned his plate, placing it back down before turning to him. “Elaborate more, though.” 

“I was having nightmares about him. Bad dreams.” Zayn admitted, this was the very first time he was saying anything about this. “Where...he’d die. Over and over again. It’s like I was getting flashbacks of another life where we were together, but the thing is, we were a better couple in that life. I realized that perhaps trying to be with him in reality is just a fantasy that isn’t supposed to happen.” Liam checked his forehead for fever. 

“That’s odd.” Louis pondered thoughtfully, biting the inside of his cheek. “You know, a couple months ago, he said something similar.” 

Zayn coughed, sputtering into the blanket. “What? What do you mean?” 

“How he felt like you were meant to be together, like he could feel it because he would dream about you. Thought he must be on shrooms or something.” Louis shrugged, sipping a glass of water as Zayn stared at him with his jaw dropped. “Also, it’s fucking dumb that you gave up something great because you were having bad dreams about it. Sorry, but that’s fucking dumb.” 

“Louis, don’t be mean.” Liam sighed, wrapping his arms around both of his favorite people. “He doesn’t mean it, Zee.” 

“But I do though. Maybe all those nightmares were just you projecting how much you liked him. Or maybe you were seeing it wrong,” Louis handed the glass to Liam for a sip. “Maybe he was dying in your dreams because you were so anxious in real life to always be near him. Maybe it wasn’t that your relationship was better in this ‘past life,’ maybe it just means you can see yourself with him for a long time. Maybe you should allow yourself to indulge in a fantasy. Zayn. I know you. Fucking Sean Montgomery was you trying to convince yourself that you’d be fine settling.” 

Zayn said nothing, just looked intensely at Louis in complete disbelief. “I’m...I’m dumb?” 

Liam shook his head, groaning into his hand when Louis replied, “Yes. Yes you are dumb. This is coming from someone who pushed a guy like Liam away for fourteen years.” Louis gulped, getting closer to Zayn. “I had to learn that it was okay to keep things that I didn’t think I deserved.” 

Liam looked at Louis past Zayn’s head, with that same smitten look he had been wearing since the moment they met. This was unbreakable, whatever this little trio was. Absolutely invincible. 

Zayn shook his head, even though he seemed convinced. “No, even if you’re right, I’ve fucked things up way too much for Harry to ever want me back. It’s probably for the best that I just finish this last quarter and move back home, let my mum catch me a nice heir to an energy company or something.” 

“You’re so melodramatic. Seriously. I bet you ran into him today and that’s why you’re melting down like Paris Hilton forgetting her wallet at Balenciaga.” 

“What makes you think that?” 

“Oh, I dunno, just how all of Sean’s weak ass handiwork has dissipated from your body.” Louis raised an eyebrow at him. “You still talk to Charlie, right? Can’t you somehow maneuver your way back into that apartment through him?” 

Zayn bit his lip. “Do I even want to?” 

Now it was Liam’s turn to roll his eyes, “Zayn, you’re literally shaking because you miss this guy. You should tell him what he means to you. If he doesn’t accept that then, it’ll just mean there’s someone better for you out there. Okay?” They were both rubbing Zayn’s head and neck, not even that firmly, but because Zayn was so light it was moving his whole body around. Louis looked nervous at how small Zayn looked, and Liam could feel it. 

“Maybe.” Zayn’s unsatisfactory answer wisped. 


 

Niall woke up from his nap to the sound of Harry slamming the front door so hard that it shook the whole apartment. Charlie flinched a bit in his arms, looking up at him whilst holding him tighter, afraid it was a burglary. Niall just groaned in response, pulling Charlie off of him to stand up, kissing him and calming him down before even thinking about going out into the living room. “Hey, it’s just Haz. We’re okay. Just go back to sleep, yeah? It’ll only be a few minutes.” 

Charlie nodded, snuggling into the comforter and covering his face with it. Niall scratched his head, opening his bedroom door and walking out into the living room to find there was no one there. He turned back into the hallway and Harry’s door was closed. He sighed, standing still while knocking on it. “Harry? You in there?” 

No response. “Haz, did something happen? Are you okay?” Niall opened the door, immediately seeing Harry curled up into his knees in the corner of the room, unhappily sighing and keeping his head down. “Oh, what the fuck?” 

Harry looked up, and it was obvious he had been crying before he even got home. Niall came a little closer, slumping next to his friend even though Harry hissed at him a little in protest. “Haz, just tell me what happened, yeah?” Harry sniffled in response, nose red. After a few more minutes of silence, he opened his mouth in the realization that Niall wasn’t going to leave. 

“Man, I’m such a fucking idiot.” Harry sighed, rubbing at his head. “I’m seriously a fucking imbecile.” 

“It can’t be that bad,” Niall joked, but the look on Harry’s face was enough of a tell that it probably had to do something with the tiny little boy that gave up on him just a month or so ago. “Zayn?” 

Harry twitched, and Niall nodded. “I see.” 

“He’s seeing someone else,” Harry started fiddling with his hands. “Someone who’s marking up all over him, smelled like Sean Montgomery.” 

Niall’s eyes went wide. “Sean Montgomery? Nah, it can’t be, he fucking roofied him!” Harry shrugged. 

“I think he’s more scared of me than he is of that half-wit.” 

“What makes you say that?” 

Harry scoffed, “You should’ve seen him. He was fucking shaking and his eyes went all wide when he saw me coming. Pushed me away a little too.” 

“That fucking sucks.” Niall meant it, he couldn’t even fathom what it would feel like if Charlie reacted to him in that way. “I’m sorry, man.” 

Harry wiped his face with his sleeve, classic Harry, immediately trying to change the subject. “Charlie’s waiting for you, yeah? It’s getting kinda late for lunch at this point, so you should go and start your dinner date early.” That was a very obvious message that was telling him to fuck off and let him wallow in his sadness alone. 

“Alright, alright.” Niall put his hands up. “We’ll bring you back some food. Be emo.” He got up, knees cracking a tad, closing the door and walking back to get Charlie. “Hey babe, Harry wants us to fuck off.” 

“Ah, alright.” He stretched a little on the bed, looking up at his lover like he was a dream. The afternoon sun was going through the window, making the sheets look whiter and Charlie more distinct. “Paint me like one of your french girls, Niall,” he joked, bounding up and away before Niall could tackle him back onto the bed. “It’s a little early for dinner, don’t you think?” 

“We can do the walk in the park first, illegally feed ducks, get arrested, be bailed out and be back just in time for some Shake Shack.” Niall changed his shirt, ruffling his hair. 

“You’re so fucking adorable.” Niall was met with a kiss. “Even committing crimes is pure with you.” He laughed at that. 

“You commit crimes with any of your past flames?” 

Charlie snorted. “We don’t got all day. Let’s go.” 


 

They did not illegally feed the ducks, they forgot to buy bread. Instead, after shopping and day drinking for a bit, they created intense PDA at the park, dissatisfied mothers covering their children’s eyes and acting as though they weren’t jealous. 

“Could you really believe that we met drunk at a party?” Charlie breathlessly asked as Niall kissed and bit at his neck. 

“Yes. Without a doubt.” Niall chuckled, holding his omega close to him protectively as other alphas were passing by. “Baby, are you getting hungry?” 

“I’m ‘baby?’ That’s new.” Charlie giggled, standing up while still gripping his hand. “I guess this means that you’re hungry. Makes sense, you’re always hungry.” 

“That and it’s 6 o’clock. I’m sure Haz has concluded his sad boi hours by now.” Niall checked his watch, which was Emporio Armani, if anyone was wondering. He patted down all his pockets, making sure he had everything before standing up and wrapping an arm around Charlie’s waist. 

“My treat today,” Charlie tried, but Niall shook his head. “Why do you never let me pay?” 

“Make me use my money, babe. I’d rather spend it on you than going out and using all the pleasure money budget that Harry set out for me on crack.” Niall laughed, but it wasn’t as funny because Charlie’s smile faltered a tiny bit. “Hey, it was a joke. Sorry.” 

“No crack.” 

“Yes, no crack.” 

They walked together along the streets, letting the public feast their eyes on the sight of beautiful Niall Horan with his even more beautiful boyfriend. Niall felt good about how much better looking Charlie was than him, with those exotic eyes and white smile. And god, that body. 

The sun was starting to set a little, as it did set early in Los Angeles, but the day was still warm and the city was only getting more and more alive. It was one of the few cities in the world that the majority didn’t close shop at 7 pm. They ate dinner while chatting and laughing about in the restaurant, kissing every few minutes and making all the customers sick. 

While it looked like they were having an elaborate and heated discussion about something serious, like politics and sex, but in reality, they were having a lengthy discussion about ducks. Go figure. 

“Hey, is it bad that I’m falling in love with you?” Charlie asked out of the blue, Niall choking on his sweet tea. “Ah, I guess so.” 

“N-no! It-It’s… not bad at all.” Niall cleared his throat, face getting red. “I think I am too. I think I’ve got it worse.” 

Charlie leaned closer. Their table neighbor rolled her eyes, they were going to start making out again. But to her surprise, Charlie whispered something in Niall’s ear that made his eyes go wide in shock. Everyone who had been secretly watching the couple was now curious as to what was being whispered, considering these two were shameless in every other way. 

“Let’s go.” Niall stood up abruptly, scanning the room with a glare to see who panicked and looked away. (everyone.) Charlie cleaned off their tray, interlocking fingers with Niall again and walking out with Harry’s bag of food in his other hand. They had stayed in Shake Shack for a long time, apparently, because the night was black when they walked out, the air finally beginning to chill. 

They were walking down the street of clubs and fancy restaurants when they heard a few voices in a dark alleyway that caught their attention. Niall immediately gripped Charlie harder as he listened in. 

“Ah, listen, Se—Ah!” It was an omega being pressed up forcefully against the wall, obviously struggling and trying to shove the alpha off of him. “Sean! Stop it. Please—” It looked a little violent, so Niall let go to Charlie to walk up to them. 

Charlie’s blood went cold. He could recognize that voice anywhere, considering he’d been hearing it a lot in the last month. “Niall!” He hissed, but Niall didn’t listen, still slowly approaching the two. 

When he was in viewing distance from them, he froze for a second at a sight that he couldn’t believe. It was Zayn who was being pressed up and aggressively manhandled by none other than Sean (fucking) Montgomery. Niall cursed a little, eyes going dark when he realized that not only was Sean being a predator, he was also going into rut.

“Hey!” Niall’s voice echoed down the alleyway, Charlie face palming. “Asshole! Let go of him.” 

Sean let Zayn go, who slid down the wall whimpering as he turned around, most definitely about to go into a full blown rut. He snarled at Niall in a condescending tone, and usually, Niall would try to be more civil, but the punch that he delivered to Sean’s face came first. There was a satisfying cracking noise. Sean growled, pouncing on Niall and they wrestled a bit on the ground, trying to avoid the broken beer bottles on the floor. At some point, Charlie ran up to Zayn. 

“Zayn? Babe?” Charlie asked, patting his face and looking all around his body. Fuck. His wrist was most definitely broken, and when he pulled Zayn forward a little bit, there was blood coming from the back of his head. “Oh, I’m going to fucking kill him,” Charlie seethed in the direction of where Niall was pinning Sean face down onto the cement. He turned back around, stabilizing Zayn’s head. “Sweetie? You okay? You hear me, right?” 

Zayn made a few noises, blood dripping from his nose and eyes glassy and watery. Charlie cursed loudly, taking off his jacket so that he could wrap Zayn up and tug him closer, fiddling with his phone to call 911. 

“Is he okay?” Niall asked, holding Sean’s hands with a knee pressing harshly down at his back. “Fucker went into rut.” 

“He’s having a concussion, and his arm is broken.” Charlie dialed the number as calmly as he could, rubbing Zayn’s back as he held him to his body. It came naturally to be protective of Zayn for some reason. “Hi, there’s been an assault by an alpha in rut, we’re in the alleyway between this club and this club, it looks like he’s had some blunt force to the head and his wrist is swelling, I think it’s broken.” He set the phone down just as the operator promised an ambulance was on its way. “Zayn? Sweetie, don’t fall asleep on me, okay? You’re going to be just fine, babe.” Zayn whimpered again, his arm was hurting and the entire world was spinning. He felt like throwing up, but he wasn’t in control of his body. 

“I’m going to make your life a living hell, you piece of fucking shit,” Niall kicked Sean again, slamming his head down repeatedly onto the floor. “No amount of daddy’s money is going to prevent the charges that are waiting for you.” He bent at Sean’s wrists, feeling so angry after seeing Zayn’s. “You’re the reason why alphas get a bad rep. I should fucking kill you.” 

“That’s not a good idea.” Charlie called out, patting Zayn’s face gently. “Just keep on breathing, yeah love? I know you can hear me, it’s okay. You’re going to be fine.” Just a few more minutes, Charlie. Stay calm. Stay fucking calm. You see worse all the time. 

He yelled at Niall to stop beating Sean up, that he wanted a turn before the dickwad passed out. He was so, so angry, for many reasons. Firstly, at Zayn, because it seemed that no matter how much Charlie harassed him this month about eating, he was still losing more weight. Then, at Zayn again for ever dating Sean Montgomery in the first place. But mostly, at Sean Montgomery and his sorry existence. He probably started going into rut and pushed Zayn into the wall a little too hard, gripped his wrist a little too hard. Cunt. Cunt. Cunt. 

Sirens were wailing in the distance, making the both of them let out a breath of relief, Niall was sweating from how much Sean was struggling under his grip. There was a small piece of a beer bottle stuck into his cheek. Nice job. 

The ambulance quickly sped right in front of the restaurant Charlie directed them too, paramedics rushing out like soldiers, two of them pulling out the gurney from the back and the other two rushing towards the omegas with a kit. The police were already handcuffing Sean as another paramedic quickly administered the epi pen and they mercilessly dragged him to the car, shoving him onto the hood. 

“Thankfully, the concussion doesn’t seem that bad.” A female beta was inspecting Zayn, and Charlie snapped at her, “I fucking know. It’s his wrist that’s the issue.” She ignored his comment as she took out two thermometers, one for his temperature and one to measure his score on the 1-100 scale, because the amount of hormones a person had greatly affects the way they go about emergency treatment. She frowned at the reading, Charlie rolling his eyes. 

“It says his score is between one hundred and a hundred and four.” She hit at the handheld machine like that was going to fucking work. 

“It’s accurate.” Charlie stated, growling when the other paramedic roughly picked up Zayn’s arm. “Hey, let go of my fucking alpha!” He screamed at a police officer that was pushing Niall around too. 

“Well, uh, okay, let’s just go to the hospital, I guess.” The female beta, obviously a weak bitch, lifted Zayn onto the gurney and wheeled him into the ambulance. By now, there was a crowd watching the scene from the other side of the street, taking videos and pictures. Charlie wanted to set fire to all of them. 

As they left for the university hospital, he picked his phone back up off the ground, scrolling through his contacts as he walked over to Niall, who was giving a statement with bloodied hands. Charlie bit his lip, wrapping himself around Niall, ignoring the police officer’s demands to not do so. 

The phone rang and went to voicemail. Charlie nearly threw his phone at the ground, but quickly just tried again. 

“Hello?” A gruff voice finally decided to show itself, and Charlie exhaled. “Charlie?” 

“Harry, meet me and Niall at the university hospital. There’s been an attack.” 

He heard shuffling and keys being picked up. “What? Is Niall okay?” Like a good friend, Harry was already rushing out the door. Charlie closed his eyes when Niall exchanged glances with him, he could hear Harry too. 

“Um, yeah. He’s fine. Listen, don’t freak out.” 

“What? Why?” 

Charlie exhaled shakily again. “It’s Zayn. Sean went into rut and no surprise, he’s a violent type.” 

Harry hung up. 










Chapter Text

One moment, Zayn was cuddling with Liam and Louis on the couch, and the next, he 

was getting a call from Sean demanding where he was. He sighed, wiggling out of the blanket burrito Liam turned him into and moving to slip on a jacket and his shoes. 

Louis bit his lip. He wanted to protest so bad, but if he said anything at this point, it’d only make Zayn more determined to do something even more idiotic. 

“I’m leaving right now, babe. Yeah, I know where it is. I’ll rush, don’t get mad.” Zayn sounded tired, cradling the phone in between his ear and shoulder while lacing up his shoes. Louis looked at Liam, who was focused on the floor while tapping his hand against the couch arm. 

Zayn slapped at his face a bit, trying to get himself together, get rid of all the heat in behind his eyes so that Sean wouldn’t notice he’d been crying by the time he got there. The sky was beginning to turn shades of pink and orange, the light blue becoming deeper shades by the minute. He walked through the courtyard of the campus to cut through into the main streets where the actual city began. He caught a few wolf whistles; cat calls, whatever you like to call it, as he approached the restaurant that specialized in food he hated. 

He could see Sean flirting with an omega girl from the end of the block, Zayn rolling his eyes at the realization that he didn’t even care. He was going to dump him tonight anyways. 

They ate dinner, or at least, Zayn took a few bites as he watched Sean disgustingly scarf down his food like an animal. They walked back out, and that’s when Zayn smelled it. 

You know the rest. 


 

Harry’s heart was beating out of his chest. His driving was horrendous, he was swerving all over the place and nearly crashed a few times even though all he needed was to make one left and go straight. He could barely breathe, his forehead covered in sweat. 

He parked his car in the first spot he could find, rushing to call Niall as he ran into the urgent care building. When Niall didn’t answer (he was getting stitches in his hands), he tried Charlie, who was waiting for him. 

“Third floor, on your right.” Charlie informed, he was supervising the doctor who was doing the stitches, making sure they were impeccable and the local anesthetic was administered correctly. He was studying to be a nurse anesthetist, it made sense that he was extra careful about that bit. If Niall scarred, he was already thinking of how he was going to sue. 

Harry made the elevator just before it shut on him, panting and repelling all the other people who were with him, it was already crammed enough before this asshole pushed in. He made it to the third floor, and some of them recognized what the third floor was, wishing him good luck that he probably didn’t hear at the speed he ran out. 

He ran past Niall and Charlie, who groaned and stood up, calling out to Harry. He stopped, turning back around with such intense fear in his face that he smelled of it too. 

“He’s over there. You have to be gentle, okay? He has a concussion, so he’s probably feeling nauseous and weak as it is.” Charlie said gently, placing his hand on Harry’s arm to steady him. He nodded, letting Charlie lead him to another room of patients separated by curtains and levels of care. Charlie stopped and went ahead first, halting Harry as he walked past the curtain. 

 

“Zayn, babe. Harry’s here. Is it okay that he’s here?” Charlie leaned over, whispering softly as to not hurt his head more. Zayn was on a fuckton of pain medication and his wrist was currently being elevated to drain all the blood that had collected from the break. He was loopy for sure, and although Charlie was now hesitant to let Harry through, Zayn nodded as lucidly as he could. “Okay, babe. I’m here, yeah? Anyone you want me to call for you?” Charlie asked, and Zayn told him the password to his phone, saying ‘Louis.’ 

Charlie went back out, where Harry was standing and waiting patiently, nodding to him. “I’m going to see if I can get his jacket back, gonna call Louis. Talk softly, okay?” Harry nodded, gingerly padding to the curtain. 

It’s indescribable, seeing the person you’re supposed to be with in that much pain. Especially if the connection is strong enough that it seems like a bond. Harry choked a little, seeing Zayn being swallowed by the bed, arm purple and looking at Harry like he didn’t realize he was there. “Darling?” Harry whispered, moving the chair quietly and sitting next to Zayn. “Zayn, hi.” 

Zayn looked over, blinking, smiling a tad. He was so high. He couldn’t even feel his broken wrist anymore, just a little dizzy and fuzzy. But he could smell and sense Harry, see the rough outline of his face. He attempted to say something, but to his surprise, only opening and closing his mouth wasn’t producing sound. It took him a second to remember he had a larynx. “Hi Zayn.” He said to Harry, who was both relieved and heartbroken. “Wait, I’m Zayn.” 

“Fuck.” Harry mouthed while looking down, his hands were shaking uncontrollably. “Fuck. I’m so sorry.” 

“What did Harry do?” Zayn asked him, watching the colors spin around Harry’s head. 

“I...this is all my fault. This should’ve never happened. Fuck.” Harry looked back up at him, Zayn was still so adorable and attractive even when immobilized and sick in a hospital bed. He reached over and touched his face, and Zayn gasped slightly. A nurse saw what was happening, making a beeline towards them to stop. But her urgency was quelled by the shock of something else entirely. 

The patient’s arm was draining before her eyes, becoming blue and then brown, and then yellow, before the bruising completely disappeared and the bone looked set straight. What the fuck was going on? She did a 180 and paged the attending doctor. 

“Harry?” Zayn blinked, leaning into his touch. “Harry?” he asked again, and said person nodded. It was such a strange sensation, it was like his brain was dancing around in his skull and clearing up his vision. “What the hell is happening,” he grumbled, eyelashes fluttering as the attending and the nurse ran over. 

“It’s you again,” The doctor gaped at Harry, who gaped back. “106.” 

“I have a name, doctor.” Harry recognized her as the ER resident who treated him when Anthony tried to break his reproductive system. (That was a weird sentence.) 

“Why would I remember your name?” The doctor asked bluntly, in a tone that was rhetorical. She checked Zayn’s eyes as the nurse’s jaw dropped at the completely healed arm. She snapped her fingers for the clipboard attached to Zayn’s bed, knowing exactly what to look at first and laughing in disbelief. “101. This is insane.” 

“Are you going to have to report us to do experiments?” Harry smiled when Zayn used his free hand to cuddle closer. The pain medications were still going strong. “CH theory proven, right?” 

“I mean,” the doctor shrugged as she examined the rest of Zayn’s body, pushing his head gently forward to inspect the trauma done to it. Yep, it was all healed and the cut was scabbing over. Kind of gross, to be honest, seeing the process so sped up. “There’s no reason to. This is an extremely unlikely happenstance. You’re probably one of like, four couples in the world who have such high scores on the 1-100 scale. It’s just making me a little bitter, actually. If there was any way to replicate this, I could go home earlier every day.” 

“I never played you as one to make jokes, doc.”  

“There is literally no imminent concern anymore. At this point of healing, Zayn should’ve been discharged hours ago. We need to clear the bed.” 

“That’s it?” Harry stood up, frowning a bit. 

“Most people think that emergency rooms and hospitals err on the side of prolonged stays and extreme care, but it’s impossible. Most patients wait hours before getting treated sometimes, because the order has to go from the worst to least. I’ve made patients wait with broken legs because someone else came from a car accident, just like how I’ve made people with broken legs get discharged because there are two new coma patients. Beds are scarce, people get hurt nonstop. Take your omega home.” She pulled off her blue examination gloves, turning down the dial on the morphine, instructing the nurse to fully shut it off and remove the I.V in fifteen minutes. As she walked away, Harry noticed the heels she was wearing effortlessly as if they were comfortable. 

“You going somewhere?” Harry asked, and she turned around. “Shoes? What’s your size, your feet look tiny.” 

“I’m getting off in ten minutes. First date with my husband in two months.” She had no idea why she was telling Harry this, because it was unprofessional to discuss personal affairs, but it came out of her. “Six and a half, I guess that’s pretty small.” Harry smiled at her. 

“You deserve it. Thank you for everything, Doctor...Hewitt.” Harry looked at the I.D clipped onto her coat for the very first time. 

She nodded at him, “Elaine.” She even gave a slight smile. Those shoes seemed uncomfortable and didn’t match the outfit she had under her coat very well, it was obvious she hadn’t worn them much. He wondered how she’d react to a pair of Louboutins. 

“I used to know someone with that last name, Hewitt. She was very dear to me. Elaine is a nice name.” Harry smiled like he had a secret she’d never know. She walked away, probably didn’t want to be late. 

He wasn’t lying to her, it truly was a lovely name. 


 

 

“Harry, what are you doing here?” Zayn winced as the nurse was removing the I.V from his arm. He didn’t even question why his wrist wasn’t broken anymore. Harry smiled gently at him. 

Even if Zayn didn’t want to be with him, Harry knew he’d always be in love with this boy. He’ll always be around to find him, to take care of him. To meet him in secret rendezvous in his dreams. 

“Charlie called me and told me what happened. I’m so fucking sorry, Zayn. I should’ve...I should’ve done something, but I was too much of a pussy to confront you about Sean.” Harry bit his lip. “He should have never done that, douchebag or not. He’s definitely facing jail time.” 

“I doubt it,” Zayn sat up, wiggling his body around, feeling awkward about the distance Harry was from him. “His dad is best friends with the LAPD. Maybe he’ll get community service.” He looked Harry right in the eye, and both of their hearts jumped. He looked back down. “He’s not an innately terrible person. He just wasn’t raised right.” 

“Still.” Harry’s voice was small. The silence was deafening, Charlie and Niall had disappeared a while ago and Louis and Liam were on their way to the hospital. “H-how have you been doing, apart from this?” So lame. 

Zayn cackled at the stupidity of his question, throwing his head back and making Harry blush. “Um, well, tried to trap Sean, we see how that worked out. Nearly quit school. Had a couple of nervous breakdowns. You?” 

“Had many nervous breakdowns,” Harry admitted, not elaborating further on that. “Why Sean?” 

Zayn sighed, not really knowing the answer himself. He turned and got up off the bed, feeling very revitalized just from being close to Harry. “He apologized to me about what happened at the party. I thought he was a lot more mature after that, told me he was going to therapy and taking behavioral classes. He needs a few more years, I guess.” 

“Mm.” It was so awkward to the point that they were making the other patients next to them uncomfortable. “Erm, Louis’ on his way. I’ll see you around, I guess.” Harry turned, walking towards the elevators as Zayn watched him go. 

“Harry—“ He couldn’t hear, the elevator dinged as he said it, and Harry was gone, Zayn closed his eyes and cursed to himself. He took a few deep breaths. 

“What are you doing?” A girl with a bandage wrapped around both of her legs threw her hands up at Zayn. “Go after him.” He looked at her like she was crazy, but she looked at him like he was crazier. 

He jumped up and ran into the other elevator right before it closed. 

By the time he got down to the first floor, Harry was already walking outside, he could see him through the glass doors. But on the other end of the multiple entrances were Louis and Liam rushing in, looking panicked. Louis’ head just had to turn in that one moment, doing a double take when he saw Zayn. “Zayn? What the fuck!” They ran over, and Zayn cursed. Louis went in front of him and grabbed him, confused as to why he was up and looking completely normal. “What the hell?” Liam added, inspecting Zayn as well. 

“Lou, I’ll explain later, okay, right now I need to—“ 

“Are you fucking kidding me? I get a call from your phone and it’s Charlie saying that you were attacked and in the hospital? Is this some kind of practical joke? It’s not funny—“

“Louis! Just, just shut up for a second. I’ll be right back.” Harry was crossing the street to the parking lot, he was getting smaller and smaller. Zayn sprinted before Liam could grab him, nervously running across the street three seconds before the light changed. He looked around the parking lot, spotting Harry’s hair and jacket and running towards him, yelling “Harry! WAIT!” 

The sound echoed, Harry stopping and turning around. He was holding his keys, just about to step into his car. 

Zayn was running towards him, maybe this was a dream, because this was too fucking coincidential to be real. 

“Harry,” Zayn panted, out of breath. His cardiovascular stamina was still weak. “Harry, wait.” 

“Z-Zayn?” Harry blinked quickly, narrowing the gap between them.

“I think, I think, I-I,” Zayn stuttered, suddenly feeling very afraid. “I think...I think I made a mistake.” He dropped his arms to his sides, frozen and bracing himself for Harry’s reaction. “I’m stupid. Really stupid. And a pussy. I didn’t mean any of the things I said ba-back in London. I don’t even know where it came from, it’s like I word vomited because I was confused as to what I was feeling.” 

Harry’s heartbeat was deafening. 

“I want to be with you, Harry. I’m so fucking sorry for ruining it just before we could’ve gotten even better. I’ve never...I’ve never felt this way about anyone, and that probably scared me.” Zayn continued, the mood was getting terrible as Harry wasn’t responding. 

“You…” Harry sputtered, Zayn froze. “You didn’t ruin anything. I just don’t think we should be together, Zayn. You made me realize the reality of it all.” 

“What?” Zayn’s voice became quiet again, weak. “W-why not? You literally just saved me from two months of slow and painful recovery. Doesn’t that...shouldn’t that mean something?” 

Harry shook his head. “I can’t make you happy. I don’t know what I was thinking, trying to...act like I deserved you. You’re so out of my league, Zayn Malik, I’m reminded of it every day.” Zayn’s jaw dropped.

“Louis told me you used to dream about me.” 

“He did?” 

A beat of silence. “Was he lying?” 

Harry blushed, looking down. “I uh, no. He wasn’t lying.” 

“I dream about you too.” Zayn said the words, and Harry instinctively, immediately rejected them. There was no way. 

“I’m sorry, Zayn. Really. I hope that we can be friends.” Harry turned away, unlocking his car and getting in. 

This was truly unbelievable. Zayn’s breaths were getting labored, the engine sputtered and he panicked, trying to think of what to do. Should he stop him? How? What was he missing? 

As the car pulled out, it clicked. 

“I remember you!” 

Harry didn’t hear him, shooting one last look at Zayn and driving the car towards the exit. 


 

 

Zayn stomped back to the hospital, signing the official discharge papers aggressively, nearly ripping the paper with how hard he was pressing the pen. Liam was getting extremely worried, it was just him now because they had met up with Charlie and Niall earlier and Louis decided to go with them for something. 

“Zayn? Are you okay?” Liam asked, following the short boy out of the door, he was walking fast and angrily, he could practically see the steam shooting out from his ears. “Zayn. Zaynie,” Liam grabbed his arm, and when Zayn spun around, there were tears in his eyes. 

“I’m so fucking dumb, Liam. Just let me be mad, yeah? I don’t want to calm down right now.” Zayn shook him off. “I ruined everything. Don’t come after me.” 

Of course Liam didn’t listen, following Zayn at a constant few feet behind. “Zaynie, where are you going?” 

“I am renouncing the title of ‘Zaynie.’ I am no longer young and innocent and beautiful. It’s over. That Zayn is dead. Hope isn’t real. Love is bullshit!” He screamed that last bit, kicking a street trash can and scaring the children on the other side of the street. 

Liam waved at their mother as an apology, quickly catching up with Zayn. “What do you mean? What happened?” 

“I fucked up so much to the point where I made Harry an asshole.” Zayn sniffled, his foot really hurt but he didn’t want to admit it. Liam sighed. 

“You can’t make someone be an asshole. That’s entirely their choice.” 

“Sean’s parents made him an asshole. He was vulnerable and weak and he deserved better.” Zayn grumbled, and Liam did a double take. 

“Zaynie—“ 

“I am not Zaynie.” 

“Fine. Zayn, please don’t say that. Sean nearly...he nearly…” 

“Raped me, I know.” Zayn seethed, he felt so frustrated. Liam nearly fainted at how insensitive and crude he was being. “Try it out, they say, see if you can be happy, they say. But no, no one tells you about all the dreams of him dying over and over again!” He screeched loudly, kicking everything in his path and shrieking until his cries echoed to the next street. 

“What are you talking about?” Liam exclaimed, desperate to shut him up before he caused a complete commotion. “Zayn, stop for a second. Please.” 

Zayn listened, halting and his body stood completely still. He was still crying, his face was red and swollen. He felt like an imbecile; he was an imbecile. Why did he ever date Sean in the first place? Why did he ever even say those horrible things to Harry in the first place? 

“Zayn,” Liam grabbed him before he thought to escape, pulling the both of them down until they were sitting on the curb, Liam’s chin placed on Zayn’s hair and arms enveloped around him. He added a bit of pressure so that Zayn might relax, and it worked a tad. “Take a deep breath.” 

“I’m so stupid, I’m so fucking stupid, Liam, you don’t even know the extent of my stupidity.” Zayn babbled, hiccuping and huffing in between each word, he was really fighting to get all of his self-deprecation out. 

“You and I both know you’re not stupid, Zayn Malik.” Liam shook his head. “Whatever it is you think you’ve done, I swear that it’ll all work out.” 

Zayn wished it were true. Hearing Liam say it to him made him even more frustrated, to the point where he took out his phone and slammed it onto the street, it shattered and was definitely broken. “Take that, Harry Styles. Fuck you. I’m never going to even THINK about calling you ever again. Fuck you. I don’t want to be friends. I want you to fuck yourself with a KNIFE—“ Liam covered his mouth. 

“Why does it always come back to Harry Styles?” Liam’s voice was pained. “You do realize all your contacts are saved in the cloud, right?” 

“I’ll never get another phone again. I will retreat to the forest and return to my people like the hobbit sized bitch I am.” Zayn let out another screech. “Liam, I’m so fucking stupid,” he whined, crying more. “It’s all ruined. Of course I fuck my own chances at happiness.” 

Liam just hugged him tighter, because fuck, Louis was definitely better at the talking bit. “Zayn, everything isn’t over. I’m not saying you should pine after Harry forever, because you should respect his space, but I don’t even think you realize how many people would die for a date with you.” 

It was so ironic that Zayn began to slam his head against Liam’s chest. 

“You’re right,” Zayn’s voice was shaky, “You’re so right.” 

Liam kissed his head, cuddling his friend closer. 


 

 

“I never pegged you for a In-N-Out kind of guy,” Niall commented as he and Charlie watched Louis scarf down his second burger. 

“This is the first time in a million years that I’ve tasted grease. Liam doesn’t even put olive oil in his pasta, I’ve been eating rabbit food every day and having to pretend that it’s fine because he’ll fucking cry if I tell him the truth—“ 

“Oh-kay,” Charlie took the milkshake away from him, handing him a glass of water. “The next heart attack you’ll have is from clogging your arteries.” 

“Thanks for the sentiment.” Louis felt like being sarcastic today. “Did Zayn actually break his wrist?” 

“Technically, Sean broke it. Then Niall broke Sean’s face,” Charlie patted his boyfriend lovingly. “But Harry visited and I guess it just healed over after that.” 

Louis relaxed his shoulders, slowing his bite down and swallowing before responding, “That’s probably why he ran out so fast.” It was said mostly for himself.

All three of them looked at each other with a shared sentiment of observing the wild shit show that was ‘Zayn and Harry, a Romeo and Juliet fanfiction.’ Niall breathed in, “Harry’s fucking crazy about Zayn. I’m pretty sure it’s all he ever thinks about, like ways that he could get Zayn back.” 

“Zayn always does the extreme opposite of what he wants in the hopes that it’ll change what he wants, but because he’s an immature little brat he hasn’t fully accepted the reality that it just makes him want what he wants more.” Louis polished off his burger, so content that he could cry. 

“I think that it’s extra tricky because their moms hate each other.” Charlie added, the other two nodding in agreement. “It seems like Harry’s sort of a momma’s boy, if you ask me.” Niall frowned at that. 

“I don’t—“ 

 

“C’mon, Ni. The way he always mentions her in every decision he ever makes, remember that one time when he was crying about how he could never be enough for her after having a meltdown about which shirt to wear?” Charlie pointed out, Niall closing his mouth. 

“Why does it have to be that both of our kids have intense inferiority complexes?” Louis moaned after shoving five french fries into his mouth at once. “Why can’t they just act like adults for once in their goddamn lives?” Niall hummed in agreement. 

“I’m sure they’ll get there. Don’t worry, you guys. If they really love each other, they’ll find it eventually. No matter what it takes.” Charlie swiped the fries away, throwing everything and motioning to leave. “We’ll drop you off, anywhere you need to be?” 

Louis thought for a second before nodding tentatively, “Yeah. I do, actually.” 


 

Harry was drinking at a random bar. It was late at night anyways, it wasn’t like he was day drinking. The bartender most obviously pitied him, she wasn’t even trying to hide it as she shook him up another mixer. Seriously, the heartbreak was radiating off of him. 

Harry was silently wallowing until someone came up to him, pushing the stool closer to Harry’s before sitting down. He could recognize that smell anywhere, he choked on his drink, coughing and sputtering. “An-Anthony?” 

Ant looked well, better than a couple of months ago. He raised an eyebrow at Harry. “Hi.” 

“Dude, what the fuck?” Harry scrambled to get away, but Anthony just rolled his eyes at him. 

“You can file for a restraining order after this, I’m only sitting here because you’re one of the few people who hasn’t yet. Sorry about what I did. I was off my meds.” 

“People who are off their meds and become that crazy are usually hospitalized.” 

“I’m a special case.” Anthony got his mocktail, and now that Harry was calming down, he could see just how drugged up the beta guy really was. “When you’re off your cocktail of psych medicine, you start craving the cocktail of recreational stuff. Lots of it, all kinds of it. I lost control. It was shitty of me, dude, I’m sorry. I’m not even that attracted to you.” Anthony flicked at the mini umbrella in his non-alcoholic juice. “I’m actually quite smart and lucid, if you can believe it.” 

“I can.” Harry just attributed this fucked up moment to the fucked up God that liked fucking with him, downing the last of his drink and quickly motioning for a beer. 

“I don’t have any ulterior motives, by the way. Just trying to pretend like my life is normal.” Anthony yawned, eyes perpetually half closed. “NASA needs me, apparently, which is why they haven’t put me down yet.” 

“Ah, I see.” Harry responded dryly, holding his head. “Nasa?” 

Anthony nodded. “I make sure there are no golf-ball sized holes in the rocket ships.” 

Harry stared at him with a blank face for at least thirty seconds before slamming his head back into his hands again, “Dude, I’m sorry. This is just too fucking weird.” 

“Don’t sweat. But I can tell that you’re going through it , man. It’s plastered all over your body language. Whatever you’re unsure about, I say go for it.” 

“That’s not advice that I want to hear from you.” Harry groaned. 

“It’s advice that I’ve been living with my entire sorry excuse of an existence, and look at me. I’m still standing.” Anthony reached his arms out, Harry flinching at the movement. “If it’s about a girl, I say just apologize. That’s usually what they want.” 

“Mhm,” Harry stopped listening. 

“But if it’s about Zayn Malik, I say just give it up stop acting like you’re right against him.” Anthony chuckled as Harry choked again, almost dying this time for real. 

“W-what?” Harry’s throat was burning. 

“Oh please, fucker. Everyone saw you two in the courtyard that day. There isn’t a single person on the north side of campus that wouldn’t cut their dicks off for that boy. Am I really supposed to assume you’d be any different?” Anthony finished his juice, counting a couple of bills and leaving it on the table. “It’s on me today. Live free, Styles. If it’s any consolation, at least you aren’t as fucked up as I am.” Ant slid off of the stool, saluting to Harry before leaving the bar like the boss ass schizophrenic-bipolar-borderline bitch that he was. 


 

 

“Don’t tell Louis,” Liam haughtily whispered to Zayn, even though they were the only two people in the apartment. He pulled out a tiny bottle of vodka, tossing it to Zayn, who’d never thought he’d cry so hard over it. It was finished in less than five minutes. “Jesus, I’m surrounded by a hoard of alcoholics.” 

“Listen, don’t group me in with what Lou used to do, okay?” Zayn flopped onto his bed, trying to pass out on command. Liam snorted. 

“This is exactly what he used to do. Zaynie, scooch over.” Liam squeezed into his bed, pulling Zayn in for a bear hug. “Remember how I used to do this at least three times a week because you’d have those anxiety attacks about school and your mum finding out about all the fucked up shit I let you and Louis do?” 

“Yeah. I do.” 

“I just want to reiterate that you cannot make someone an arsehole, Zayn. If Harry was being an arsehole, that’s all on him. I can beat him up if you want.” Liam cooed when Zayn snuggled closer. “You’re so cute, you only grew a little bit from middle school.” 

“I’m done with you tall assholes.” 

“You’re the one who called yourself hobbit sized. Little Zaynie, little little Zaynie-kins—ow.” 


 

Louis was scheming something, as he usually was, scribbling aggressively on his notepad, hidden away in a corner of the library. He was making diagrams, writing down every possible scenario he could think of, calculating the odds, all the odds, and finally, he stopped and looked at all his work. ‘Hm.’ He thought to himself before standing up and walking out of the library, a heavy weight resting on his soul. 

When he reached the courtyard, he took out his phone and reached Charlie again. 

“Hi, Charlie. I uh, I wanted to discuss something with you. It’s about Zayn and Harry, yeah, but it’s also kind of about you.” 

Charlie blinked, and the silence obviously meant he was surprised. “M-me?” 

Louis nodded like he could see him, “Yeah. You. Have you ever realized that you have successfully tied the four richest people in London all together? I was really thinking about it, and it just seems odd to me how you’ve been making such an effort to hang out with Zayn and bridge the gap between Niall and us so badly.” 

“What are you saying?” Charlie fidgeted. “I mean, what are you implying?” 

“Well, I’m not necessarily implying anything. I thought it was worth mentioning, considering I know a lot more about you than you think I do.” Louis was being scary again. 

“You—You do?” Charlie squeaked, even though he honestly had nothing to hide, but Louis made him feel like he did. 

“I know that you were planning to register as a complete independent.” Louis’ tone was thoughtful, but it made Charlie’s blood run cold. “And that you’re the illegitimate child of—“ 

“Okay, okay. Please, can you like, not?” Charlie slapped his face into his palm, a sudden headache reaching over him in a wave. “I don’t even want to know how you know that.” 

“You have a half brother named—“ 

“Please,” 

“—And your name isn’t Charles.” Louis concluded, and Charlie’s knees went shaky. “This isn’t information that I obtained to blackmail you in any way. Rather, I just do that to everyone I meet. I think I can make you kind of a good offer, because I need your help in orchestrating something complex. You don’t have to do anything and we can just be normal, like I won’t say anything, but it’s your choice if you want to hear my offer.” 

Charlie bit his lip. “I’ll hear it.” 

Louis smiled, walking over to the nearest bench and sitting down, flipping through his notepad. “That’s such a good quality, always willing to measure up all the possibilities. But anyways, to provide a little context, we all know about the Zayn and Harry situation,” 

“Yes,” 

“And I know that Niall’s mother wouldn’t approve of you. You know how I know? The same reason why my father wouldn’t approve of Liam.” Louis started. “Which is why I’m asking for your help in executing this plan for all six of us to register as an official pack.” 

Charlie choked on his water, gasping and coughing for air, trachea burning and mind running in circles. “What?” 

“I know the pack you were born in doesn’t accept you.” Louis inspected his nails. “Even if that’s not true, I am fully cognizant of the offer that I’m presenting, because if this works, we’ll be one of the richest packs in the world. We wouldn’t even have to work, but maybe Liam can be a CEO in something if he really wanted to, I dunno.” 

Charlie scoffed in disbelief. “Is that all you think I am? A gold digger?” 

“Of course not. But it’d be daft to say the thought has never crossed your mind before, just how much money the Horans and Styleses make. I can’t say a specific number on their account, but I can for mine. This is all insurance to me, that you’ll have my back.” Louis sighed. “We’re definitely going to make a few mothers cry, a few asset and settlement lawyers cry, probably Zayn’s sisters will cry too.” 

“You’d disown your pack to be with Liam?” It came out as a whisper, but he knew the answer to the question before he even asked it. Of course Louis would drop his family for Liam. Charlie looked to Niall, who was sleeping on the couch. 

“Would you disown your pack to be with Niall?” Louis asked a similar rhetorical question. 

“I’d disown my pack for a bag of chips.” Charlie mumbled. “What I’d do doesn’t matter, it’s not like I have any stakes here anyways.” 

“You’re right, but you have a lot of conviction, loyalty. I like that about you, you’re very open to the idea of all of us being close.” Louis flipped through his notes again. “And you’re cunning, I can tell from one sly little shit to another. I’m sure you can figure out a way to get Niall on board, whatever it takes.” 

Charlie went silent. He then breathed in, “I don’t know if I want to do that.” 

“Don’t make it seem like you’re doing something wrong.” Louis laughed a little. “Because you’re not. Trust me, if anything, it’s me who’s the calculating bastard. I’m already thinking of a new surname for all of us.” 

“I don’t want to lie about anything to Niall, I don’t even feel good about him not knowing about my name and my family.” Charlie whispered, sneaking into the other room. 

“Then let’s hold off on that for now. Let’s start with getting Zayn and Harry together, because they’re the center of it all. They have the most money.” Louis spoke bluntly, making Charlie uncomfortable. “And the most power. The sheer publicity that would arise from the scandal of a Malik and a Styles being mated to each other. It’d completely throw off the elite system in England, that’s for sure. That way we can smoothly cut out our families from all our sources of income, we can purchase a place of residence, and start a new house.” 

Charlie didn’t answer for a while. “Louis? Can I ask a question?” 

“Yes, of course.” 

“Why now? Couldn’t we wait until we all graduate, wouldn’t that make more sense to make a move?” 

Louis had the answer for that, he was waiting for Charlie to ask. “Listen, my health isn’t in the clear. I didn’t get a new heart, they just cleaned out my old one. Who knows when I’ll drop dead? But I promised Liam my life. If I kick it, I need to make sure Liam will be fine. There’s no way in hell everything I’ve worked for is going to my father.” 

Another pause. “Can I get a number?” 

Louis laughed, and told Charlie the exact amount, down to the last pence. 

He nearly tripped over the bed and knocked himself out. 


 

“Let’s start by just “accidentally” having them meet.” Louis was showing Charlie the game plan with a white board and a neon pink dry erase marker. “See what happens, then we can move on from there.” 

“I have no idea what’s happening,” Niall said to Liam, who nodded and handed him a beer. They were becoming really good bros. 

“What if that works right away?” Charlie asked. 

“It won’t. You’ve met our babies. They’re impeccably stupid because they choose to be. It won’t happen on the first try.” Louis chastised casually. “I say we just kidnap and lock them in a room for a while.” 

“I’m sorry, who are you kidnapping and why?” Liam asked, Niall nodding in agreement. 

“You just don’t understand,” Charlie and Louis waved them away, “One day you will. We’re doing this for you.” 

“I don’t even want to know,” Niall sighed, putting his beer bottle into the recycling can. “I’m going to hit the gym.” 

“After beer?” Charlie questioned. 

“I’ll be fine.” Niall waved him away in the same manner, Liam standing up to apparently join him. “We’ll be back in a bit.” 

“Don’t fall in love with each other, Charlie and I’s intelligence are too well matched for you two to elope. There needs to be a balance in life.” Louis said in a loving tone. 

“We’re offended.” The alphas left. 

“We don’t need them to put Zayn and Harry in the same room. We don’t have to kidnap them. Just lie and tell one the other is in imminent danger or some shit, those who will eat it up.” Charlie circled the final plan. 

“You are evil. Wanna get married?” Louis came close, one stunning person staring down the other. 

“That’s the plan.” Charlie rolled his eyes, smiling slightly. “We’re doing this for them.” 

Louis ruffled his head. “Yes. We are. And for the children you and Zayn will have.” 

Charlie shook his head, “Louis, for the last time, it is highly unlikely that you’ll have a relapse—“ 

“Yeah yeah. Just let me feel like I have a deadline, keeps me motivated.” Louis ruffled his hair again.


 

Harry 

 

Sean harassed Zayn again, tried to get away but neither Niall or Liam are here right now and I am but a helpless omega we’re at Zayn’s apartment

-

I’m coming over  

 

-

 

Zaynie

 

Don’t freak out, but Sean punched Harry in the courtyard, so we brought him back for some ice, but we know it’d be better if you just patted his head or some shit and healed right away 

-

fuck okay 

-

“Thank you, Montgomery.” Louis snickered, laughing with Charlie. “Now all we have to do is let Harry in.” 

“Don’t you think actually smacking him is a bit too much?” Charlie asked, getting the textbook ready and standing by the door. 

“Zayn won’t get near him if he sees that Harry’s pretty face is fine. We just need to make his nose bleed a lil, it’s only fair.” Louis chuckled, and just then, Charlie’s phone received a text message. Louis gave him an airkiss, running downstairs to open the lobby door. The path down the stairs was enough time for Louis to completely change his facial expression. 

“Oh my gawsh, thank GOD you’re here,” Louis exclaimed, opening the door for a frazzled and disgruntled Harry. “He’s upstairs.” They ran up together, Louis let Harry go first into the apartment, and when he passed by the door, Charlie smacked him with a Statistics textbook as hard as he could, Harry groaning, falling down and grabbing his nose. 

“What the fuck, Charlie?” Harry’s voice was nasally and betrayed. 

“I’m sorry, Haz.” Charlie winced, but Louis’ phone was already beeping, Zayn letting him know he was on his way. Both boys yelped, Louis shoving Charlie and him out of the apartment as Harry bled onto the floor. 

“I’m here!” Zayn explode through, the door smacking Harry’s back and they both shrieked. Zayn fell down in shock, firstly looking at Harry and at the absence of Louis in the whole loft. “What the fuck!” 

“I should be saying the same thing!” Harry said with his chin tilted towards the air. “They said Sean attacked you again!” 

“They said Sean attacked you !” Zayn screamed back, dropping to his knees to inspect Harry’s face. “Wait, this doesn’t look like a punch—“ 

“Because it’s not!” Harry exclaimed, whimpering a little as his nose went back into place under Zayn’s touch. “Ah, fuck fuck fuck.” They didn’t even realize that Zayn was on top of him, Harry smelled so good. “They tricked us here.” 

“I’m sorry about my sociopathic best friend.” Zayn sighed, wiping the blood off Harry’s face with his sleeve. “There, all better.” He moved to wiggle off of Harry’s lap, but he stumbled and they both fell to the ground, blushing profusely. 

“Uh-“ 

“Uh…” Harry seemed uncomfortable, and Zayn’s heart only got stabbed further, quickly scrambled to get off of him. 

“S-sorry.” Zayn apologized, unable to look at him. “Um,” 

“You’re set for the foreseeable future, bitches!” Louis shrieked through the door, they had a chair ready outside so that they could stuff it under the doorknob. Harry cursed. 

“I can always jump out of the window,” he muttered, but Zayn heard it. He tried really hard not to look like a dejected little bitch, but it was quickly coming in waves. 

“Sorry.” Zayn didn’t know what else to say, so he just said that again. “I’m sorry.” 

“Don’t be.” Harry grunted, getting up and walking to the kitchen sink, washing his face. “No harm done, technically.” He saw Zayn looking down, still on the floor, sleeves bloody. Harry cursed silently again. 

“Zayn,” Zayn looked up. “Come here?” 

Zayn’s legs were shaky, so he tried to act like he was hesitant as he willed his body to not collapse as soon as he stood. Harry seemed to get it though, judging by how he came around to steady Zayn, trying not to lose control at how good Zayn smelled. He helped him out of his jacket, the latter kind of tossing it aside in any direction. 

They turned back, and the moment was awkward. Like, trying to spread cold butter on a piece of untoasted bread awkward. And again, Zayn has always had a tick of spurting out all the words he tries so desperately to keep in. 

“Why’d you reject me?” It came out in a flash, and the regret was too pungent and concentrated for Harry to have even thought about pretending nothing was said. Zayn turned an unnatural shade of red, immediately spinning around to squeeze his fists together and mentally punched himself in the face. 

“Yeah Harry, why’d you reject Zayn?” Charlie shouted through the door, the assholes were listening in. 

“He’s never been rejected before!” Louis added wood to the flame. Zayn began banging his head against the wall, and after a few more seconds of Harry being an asshole and letting him, he finally came forward and grabbed Zayn by the waist. 

Everyone was silent, Zayn’s wide eyes piercing into Harry’s soul and the two asshats outside listening fervently for any noise. Zayn blinked, surprised at the move Harry made, his hands warm and large across his body. 

Harry’s eyes were wide too, subconsciously squeezing a little bit at just how small Zayn had become. Zayn squirmed a little, hands pressing onto Harry’s chest. They locked eyes again, and quickly pulled away. 

“Uh...I uh…” 

“...Yeah…” 

“What the fuck is happening in there, I can’t hear a damn thing,” Louis whispered to Charlie outside the door, both boys snapping their heads towards the sounds. Zayn held his face in his hands, unfathomably mortified, while Harry was trying to recount the last thirty minutes of his life that had gotten him to this unfortunate moment. 

“I mean, it’s not because of you.” Harry finally spoke, voice quavering. “I know that sounds so lame—“ 

“It does—“ 

“—But it’s the truth. You’re nearly perfect, Zayn. I say nearly, because if you were any more perfect, you’d be an angel.” 

There were gagging noises coming from the front door, and now it was Harry’s turn to be red. Zayn took his sleeve softly, leading him up the loft stairs so that their conversation could be a little more discreet. 

“So what is it?” Zayn plopped down onto the bed and looking up at Harry, not really trying to be seductive but inadvertently being so. “What’s wrong?” 

“It’s just...I can’t really explain. Something just doesn’t feel right, as if I’m trying to force myself.”

“To be with me?” When did Zayn’s voice get so sweet? 

“No, to...not be with you. As if a part of me wants to be repelled, but the other part wants nothing more than to be...holding your hand and shit.” Ugh, it’s like a too sweet cupcake with a too sweet frosting. “It’s dumb. I know, but I know that you could do so much better than me.” 

Zayn stared at him for a second, then exhaled while opening his mouth, “Me? Do better?” He refrained from scoffing. “You know why I don’t want kids?” 

Harry sat down next to Zayn’s laid body, looking at his face. “Why?” 

“I’m scared of what I’ll make.” 

Harry sighed, running his fingers through his hair. “Zayn, for the last time, you are literally one of the most beautiful people—“ 

“No, I didn’t mean that. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t care that much about looks, Harry.” Zayn rolled his eyes, pulling Harry down so that now they were both lying and facing each other. 

“Sorry.” Harry bit his lip. 

“I have a lot of issues. I’m afraid procreating another me would just carry on those issues.” Zayn spoke plainly, blinking up at Harry and waiting for his response, but of course, the only real reaction was to be flabbergasted at this statement. “And before you say some other cheesy bullshit, it’s just...it’s the truth.” 

“Well, what are said issues?” Harry asked, coming in a tad closer. 

Zayn raised his eyebrows, also shimmying a bit inwards. Now their elbows were touching. “Are you sure you want to know?” 

Harry guffawed, “Yes, Zayn. Yes.” 

“When I was really little, they thought I was on the spectrum. And I know that’s not really an issue, I mean, autism shouldn’t be treated as one, but thinking back on it, that would’ve been really scary for my parents, considering they had to fight the old elders about their marriage in the first place, and they’re super close minded. Turns out I was just a quiet kid. Pretty smart, pretty cute, would be a famous prodigy of some sorts, and make a nice wife someday. I think a lot of people kind of forget about what happens when you’re a quiet kid who keeps all his thoughts to himself.” Zayn shrugged, looking skinny and pale. His eyes still blinked up at him, his gaze loving. 

“What happens?” Harry whispered, not daring to make any movement. 

“I dunno,” Zayn shrugged. “Bad shit.” He kind of shimmied away from Harry, just a tiny bit. “When we were little, my eldest sister Doniya kind of took care of all of us when our parents couldn’t be around. But then, one day, she just left. A big fight, shit was thrown, and she just...disappeared.” 

They both went silent, then Harry spoke up, “Well, that’s not your fault, Zayn.” 

Zayn scoffed a little, “They were yelling about me, Harry.” 

“So? They’re the ones that were yelling.” Harry blinked at him when Zayn did, eyes locking again. “Did she ever come back?” 

“Kinda,” says Zayn. “But I dunno. It wasn’t really the same.” He let in a shuddering breath, everything was harder when you were on your side. “Not only are my abandonment and trust issues full fledged, but I guess you could also say I have intense inferiority and control issues.” 

Harry sighed, shaking his head as his body began to heat up the mattress underneath them. “Don’t you think you’re being too hard on yourself?” He asked, shifting around a little. This situation was feeling more and more intimate. “I feel like I could say the same things about myself too.” 

“I have a hard time eating. I like doing self-destructive things willingly because I feel like I’m in control of all the bad things that happen to me.” 

“I have mommy issues. My sister calls me a sundowner, my dad secretly thinks I'm good for nothing and I’m not even half as beautiful as you.” says Harry, licking his lips. 

Zayn raised a brow, “Is this a competition? Because you’re about to lose.” 

“Let’s not make it one,” Harry groaned, rolling over to stretch about, “This is already a terrible narrative. Rich kids complaining about how shitty their lives are in order to further the plot.” He turned back, and Zayn had gotten even closer. 

“You’re absolutely right.” Zayn smiled at him, his eyes golden and wide. 

“Have your eyes always been that color?” asked Harry, who reached out with a hand to pick an eyelash off of Zayn’s cheek, the recipient going red once more. 

Zayn shook his head, “No, actually. They used to be brown. They got all weird colors when I presented. What about yours? Those greens can’t be real.” 

Harry laughed, looking anywhere but Zayn’s face. “Yeah, actually. They used to be blue.” 

Zayn gaped, “Blue?! I can’t imagine you with blue eyes, to be completely honest.” He brushed back Harry’s hair with a gentle hand, tucking it behind his ear. When he pulled back, it seemed as though Harry was about to go in for a kiss, but Zayn cut him off. “Wanna watch a movie?” 

Harry giggled a bit, sitting up and fluffing his hair about. “Yes, I’d quite like that. As long as it’s not the Phantom Menace.” Zayn sat up as well, feeling paranoid that his hair looks like Frankenstein’s. 

“I was thinking more Deadpool anyways.” They crawled down the stairs, quietly laughing at the hilarity of how Louis and Charlie must still be outside. 

They watched the movie, popped a few bags of microwave popcorn. They didn’t kiss, or fuck, or even remotely cuddle, just sat on either ends of the couch. They laughed together, stole looks at each other’s faces when they were sure they wouldn’t notice, the scent of butter and peonies mixing in the air. 

When Liam and Niall came back to Louis and Charlie sleeping outside the door, they looked at each other as if they now shared a secret that no one else would ever know, or perhaps a bond so unique that no one else could ever replicate. As they quietly tried to bring their lovers inside, they saw Zayn and Harry passed out onto the couch. 

They weren’t even touching, and yet, the looks on their sleeping faces looked so in love as they were peaceful. Their body language inching towards one another, hands nearly intertwining. 

Louis was incorrect that this experiment was just a test run, Charlie had actually gotten it right on the spot. What were they to do now that their plan has worked right away? 


















Chapter Text

After that day, Zayn and Harry went back to being distant friends for the next few weeks, texting every so often, liking each other’s Instagram pics, joining in when Charlie forced them to all congregate for a drink. It almost seemed too natural in this role, staring at each other from afar, wondering if the void in between them was the only thing that was stopping one from grabbing the other. 

For what for? This view was lovely, Zayn could easily describe each of Harry’s singular hairs from this distance just like how Harry could describe the four colors that Zayn’s eyes would change to depending on his mood. The way his lips would look extra red against the green of a lime slice, tongue licking at salt, adam’s apple bobbing as tequila passed through it, all of these things Harry has memorized in his head, he could very easily describe it in vivid detail on paper. 

They continued movie nights, becoming more and more elaborate as the weeks passed, hanging up fairy lights and piling on the blankets and cushions, the snacks becoming more varied. Louis would always fall asleep right before the most important part of the movie struck, and if Liam’s trapped underneath him, he’d soon follow. Charlie and Niall would fuck off just as the first movie rolls its credits, but the remaining two would stay put. Wide awake, sitting criss-cross next to each other, playing the movies in stark tandem as though they never wanted to leave. Would laugh and talk about their crazy days and sexcapades as if everything were as they were supposed to be. 

Things changed dramatically when Louis and Liam finally decided to announce that they were going to become official mates. 

“What?” Zayn was the first to audibly react. “You—you’re what ?” 

“We’re getting married, love.” Louis said casually, sipping his water again. “I didn’t realize the concept was so foreign to you.” 

Liam choked, shooting Louis a warning look. “I get this is a lot to take in, Zaynie. Didn’t plan on just throwing this on you, but considering that graduation is so soon…” 

“I get it. Just shut up for a second.” Zayn had to sit down. “I didn’t know the heat between you guys had grown that...that—“

“Zayn, we’ve basically been exhibitionists ever since we came back from quarter break.” 

“You’ve been engaged since quarter break?” Zayn hissed, feeling very faint. “Oh my god, you fucking lunatics,” He tripped over his feet a tad, nearly face planting onto the floor. “I’m—I’m…”

“Babe,” Louis kissed his head. “I’m sorry for not telling you earlier. Maybe now you can make sense of why I’d been working so hard to make you and Harry work again.” 

Zayn deadpanned. “I literally have no fucking idea. I’m not being sarcastic right now, I have no idea how I am part of one of your sick and twisted plots, Lou.” 

Louis sighed, setting down his glass and pulling an angry Zayn into his arms. “My love, my lovie lovie lovie, there comes a time where we all need to grow up, ya know? We get to live our lives now, become our own people. I’m tired of living in this box of who I’m meant to be, I want to be a bit more dynamic than that.” 

“Whoever said you were a manic pixie dream girl, you idiot?” Zayn muttered, letting Louis give him kisses all across his face. “You know how this changes things, right?” 

Louis nodded, “Trust. It’s been a long time coming. And I,” He turned to look at Liam, “doubt that there is anyone in this entire universe that I’d rather be with.” 

Liam’s eyes softened, if that were even possible, and a small smile grew from the corners of his lips. Louis smiled back, and when Zayn noticed he mumbled and shifted in his grasp. 

“God, and you gag when Harry and I watch movies.” He dodged the next kiss, to which Louis rolled his eyes and pulled off of him. “But I guess I’m happy for you guys.” 

“Hi, I’m Zayn, and I’m just friends with Harry Styles mergmergemrgegerhgehregemthe meh,” Louis stuck his tongue out, yelping when Zayn threw a pillow at him. “And even though I talk in my sleep about how I’d swallow his dick whole—“ 

“That’s it—“ Zayn stood up, but Liam grabbed him before he could lunge, carrying him softly away. “You’re such a fucking cunt, Lou.” 

“As I said, all of us need to grow up sometime, no?” Louis laughed, coming back to snuggle him. “Why lie to yourself? About Harry?” 


 

“Another date with Zayn tonight?” asked Niall, who was cleaning off his eggs at breakfast. 

“It’s not a date, Ni. God.” Harry rolled his eyes, fixing his tartan scarf and checking himself one last time in the mirror. “We’re just meeting at the pub.” 

“We’re graduating in two weeks!” Charlie exclaimed, walking out of Niall’s room with his eyes concentrated on his phone. “In two bloody weeks!” 

“Don’t remind Harry again, he’ll get all sour about the decisions he has to make,” Niall sighed, dropping the plate into the sink and waving him goodbye. “Don’t get smashed, but if you do, call Char and not me.” 

“Really, Ni?” Charlie huffed just as Harry rushed out of the door. 

In Los Angeles, the dust has a certain smell that is unlike any other major city or hub in the world. Where in others, the humidity rises and coats skin, lungs, and lips, in this city, the dust does so as if it were a poem being sung to a love long lost in a sandstorm. 

The dust smells sweet and familiar, the sun bakes the ground and changes the whole skyline with a filter of yellow, everything is sunnier here, everything is warmer. There is hardly a day of rain, and if you’re visiting during one, you may need to see a medium to do something about your bad luck. Harry has loved this city from the moment he hopped thousands of miles again from London, to Washington D.C, and then here to the desert, where he has met countless loves of his life and countless traumas too unique to ever be shared with another from his home land. Nights in Los Angeles are as warm as London afternoons, and tonight was no exception. He didn’t even need the scarf, really, it was more a fashion choice, swinging away in the wind as he opened the glass door to the favorite pub of the university students. 

Countless loves of his life, as mentioned before. All beautiful and strange, yet all were so simple and plain. Nothing could ever compare to the feeling of meeting Zayn’s eyes as he turned around on the barstool to greet him as soon as he could smell him coming. The golden hues in his irises matched how golden the entire world was. 

“Hey,” Love of His Life said, laughing softly like he meant to, turning again as Harry sat down next to him. “How have you been?” Love of His Life asked, the smell of his shampoo and cologne wafting through the air conditioned surroundings of the bar. He then blinked, distracting everyone who was paying too much attention to his striking eyes, eyelashes hitting his cheek and coming back up languidly and sleepily. Harry wanted to love him, love him out loud. To be able to say it, scream it, take faith in it. But it just wasn’t practical. He had no idea that he didn’t have to. 

Zayn shuffles around to order two beers, beautiful hands holding up two fingers at the bartender, mouth moving to speak which IPA he wanted, Harry stared all the while. 

“You’re graduating in two weeks, isn’t that crazy?” Zayn asked him, sipping at his beer like it was tea. “It’s like I landed in America for the first time just yesterday, time flew by so fast.” 

Harry choked when Zayn made eye contact, “Mm, yeah. I can’t believe it either.” 

Zayn blinked again, Harry was acting strangely tonight. “It’s almost been a whole year since we first met.” He downed the rest of his pint, motioning for another. “By the end of graduation, it will have been.” 

“You’re right, huh?” Harry downed his too, getting another pint. “A full fucking year.” 

Zayn snickered, like he couldn’t believe it either, they’d been stupid naive idiots with each other for so many months. “Do you remember? ‘Cause I do.”

Harry paused. “Remember what?” 

“That night at Sean’s party, when you came into the room and talked to me.” Zayn whispered, gasping softly at how Harry’s eyes began to shift, for his blood went cold. 

“W-what?” Harry hiccuped, setting everything down and immediately turning away from Zayn. “What do you mean?” 

Zayn sighed softly, heart beating like a rabbit angrily thumping its feet. “We’re about to leave each other, I reckon. I’m going back to London after I graduate, possibly moving again once that happens. I thought I’d come out and say it right now.” 

Harry held his breath, the whole pub getting tense in their conversation. “Say what?” 

Zayn smiled at him. “I finally remembered what you said to me that night, that alone was some kind of a miracle. ‘The places we’d go, the things we’d see, the family we’d raise.’ Not only that, I ended up learning a lot about myself during these months.” He turned fully around, not letting Harry escape his eyes. “I remember you, Harry...of the house of Selley and Styles.” He held his chin and leaned in for a kiss, and the whole pub went quiet. Zayn’s lips were soft and smelled lightly of beer, more so of spearmint gum and watermelon candy. “I know you probably have no fucking clue what I’m talking about, but that’s okay. I...went to the registrar today and picked up my diploma among other things, perks of being an already alumni. I’ve caused you a lot of grief, haven’t I? I’m so sorry.” He brushed his thumb over Harry’s bottom lip, his own lips trembling and eyes watering.

“I know it’s too late, but I just wanted to say that I love you, and I wish you all the best. I love you.” A tear finally escaped, sprinting down the side of Zayn’s cheek and the barstool squeaked as Zayn left the pub, a 50 dollar bill left for the bartender and Harry frozen right where he was. 

What the fuck? 

“Shhhhhit, dude. That sucks balls.” The guy on Harry’s other side chortled, tapping his shot on the table before taking a hit for him. “I have no idea what the hell just happened, but you have my sympathies, dude.” 

“What the fuck just happened?” Harry blew up, letting his hands outstretch and surprising everyone that had been listening in. The bartender shook her head. 

“Jesus Christ, it’s like I’m trapped in ‘Love Actually’,” she groaned, pouring another from the tap and sliding it over to the new customer that replaced Zayn. “The fuck you mean what just happened? Go after him, he’s probably waiting for an uber or some shit right now.” 

Harry stared at her with jaw dropped, she looked at him again dryly. “It’s paid. Go.” 

“Yeah, dude. True love!” Same surfer boy thumped him on the back. “We got your back, broski.” 

“Yeah.” Harry fell off the barstool, rubbing at his eyes in confusion. “Y-yeah.” 

“Go get em, tiger!” The whole bar roared, the bartender still shaking her head as she wiped clean the glasses, giving Harry a curt nod as he slammed the door open with his shoulders. 

But Zayn was already gone. 


 

“I did it. It’s ended.” Zayn panted, having run super quickly and so the front door was all he had to support his body. Charlie was there with Louis, enjoying a cup of tea and they both stared at him in complete confusion. “Oh. Hi Char.” 

“Uh, hi?” Charlie cocked his head to the side, Louis mirroring. “What did you end, exactly?” 

Zayn looked up, then shook his head. “Just...you guys teased me for weeks about how Harry and I are just going to stay friends, and I finalized that shit today.” 

“Is that why you planned to move two weeks before graduation? So that you can make a clean escape like this is some fucking shitty British romcom?” Louis sighed, finishing his tea. “Fucking ridiculous, you lot.” 

“Hey, you said that Liam was going to start work in a week, I thought this would be helpful. I have enough time to move out of my house once we’re back in London, change my number, dye my hair, get a new nose.” 

“So dramatic.” Charlie rolled his eyes. “So, so dramatic. How do you live like this?” He asked Louis. 

“My dear, if I had the answer to that question…” The two of them watched as Zayn scrambled to drag the heavy suitcases down the stairs, losing grip of them as they crashed down onto the floor. “Zayniekins, your flight isn’t even for another twelve hours. What will you do if he comes running to our apartment, considering he knows where we live and if desperate enough, how to break down that flimsy glass door we call a lobby entrance?” 

Zayn scoffed, “He’d never.” 

Charlie shrugged. “Niall would. Liam would. Sean definitely would. You sure Harry wouldn’t? What exactly did you say to him?” 

Zayn gulped, stopping in his tracks. “Is there any way I can take an earlier flight?” 

Louis slapped his own forehead. “Jesus, Zayn. What did you do?” 

A bang on the door made all of them jump. “Oh, fuck me.” Louis slammed down his cup back into its saucer as Zayn shrieked and laid waste to the bathroom. “Char, drag him by the ear, will you?” Charlie nodded, lazily strolling over to the bathroom door. 

“Is Zayn in there? Zayn? Zayn!” Harry was banging on the door like a madman, and for a split second Louis wished that there were a pair of strong alphas around to deal with the mess he was about to face. But then he quickly took hold of his senses, walking confidently and opening the door to let Harry fall in.

“Hello, charmer.” Louis stuffed the rest of Harry’s legs in with his feet. “How can I help you?” 

“Did you break the lobby?” Charlie asked, still trying to unlock the bathroom lock with a pin. 

Harry sat up, nursing his head. “Huh? No, someone let me in.” 

“Ah,” both boys simultaneously nodded. 

“Is Zayn here? I—I need to talk to him.” Harry hit his head again as he tried to stand, everyone present wincing along with him. A muffled shout was heard from inside the bathroom, Charlie snapping his head towards it. 

“Well,” Louis groaned. “This ain’t our business. Let’s go, babe.” He grabbed Charlie’s arm and he grabbed back, giving one look at the state of their loft apartment before heading out. 

“Fuck.” Everyone could hear Zayn from the bathroom. 

“Zayn?” Harry’s voice was shaking, tears were falling down his face. “Zayn, what the hell?” 

There were a couple moments of silence, and then the bathroom door creaked a little bit, Zayn softly padding out, unable to meet Harry’s face. Harry was still breathing heavily, chest heaving and eyes webbed. “What the fuck.” 

Zayn nodded, wincing slightly. “Yeah, what the fuck. You should sit down. Your head’s going all red.”

“What the fuck, Zayn.” Harry stood still, his eyes boring a hole into him. The latter nodded again, softly pushing Harry backwards onto the couch. 

“I’ve always been shit at masterminded plots,” Zayn chuckled weakly, still intensely focused on Harry’s chest. They plopped together, and Zayn blindly lifted a hand to Harry’s face. It was immediate anyways, everything had bruised over and disappeared. Zayn could feel his heart through his chest, hear it even. 

“You need to...you...please explain. Please.” Harry pleaded with a whisper, holding Zayn’s hands and lifting up his chin. “Look at me.” 

Harry looked frightening, his eyes silver and webbed, and he seemed angry, Zayn hated it when people were angry. “I’m sorry.” The first instinct, and Harry’s facial expression softened. 

“No, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.” Harry relaxed his shoulders. 

Zayn began to cry, looking away and pulling his hands back. “I’m—I’m sorry, Harry. I really am.” 

“Just explain to me what you meant, darling. Please.” Harry begged again, and Zayn cried harder. 

Darling

“Harry, I’m leaving tonight, like I said. I didn’t want to—I didn’t want to—“ Harry moved closer, making Zayn flinch and lose his words. “I didn’t want to leave without having said it.” 

“I need you to say it again, Zayn.” 

“Harry, this is going to sound crazy—“ 

“Try me.” 

“Harry, I, uh, this—this isn’t the first time we’ve met. Well obviously, it’s been almost a year now, but I’ve kept away because of…” 

Harry went dead silent. “Zayn?” 

“We were...we were in a war, Hazza.” Zayn looked up, eyes glassy. “And you—you died, and one day all of a sudden that’s all I could see every time I saw your face.” 

Have you ever fallen off a bike? Or perhaps was sitting in a wheelbarrow and felt yourself tipping to the side? Or maybe wheeling a luggage bag through the airport only for it to have keeled over in a moving crowd of what seems like thousands? 

To be in a state where you are falling, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. You cannot put out your hands to save the impact from your head, or shout for help, you just take it. You close your eyes, clench your teeth, and only until the damage has been done would you really process what just happened. 

In those brief moments of being suspended in air and time, that’s where Harry was trapped. Sideways, about to hit the floor. About to run into the person behind him. He knew he was sitting on a couch, but that was it, he knew nothing about the world he was in and the man before him. When he could finally release his jaw and look straight up at the sky, he came back down huffing breaths to let Zayn know how alive both of them were.

“It’s not crazy, darling. Because I remember you too.” 

Zayn looked up. “What?” 

“Every time I looked at you, I saw the sun. How the branches of our apple orchard would become painted shadows in a red and orange sky,” Harry leaned forward, immediately pressing on the base of Zayn’s neck and when his body relaxed, pulled him close. “And the wonder in your voice every time you’d read aloud.” 

“Oh my god,” Zayn wailed, letting Harry press his nose into the crook of his neck. “Oh my god, this is insane. This isn’t real. They’re gonna put me in a straitjacket, dope me the fuck up, oh my fucking god—“ 

“Darling, shh for a moment, yeah?” Suddenly Harry was between his legs and lowering Zayn down onto his back, kissing all the while. 

“Wait wait—“ Zayn protested meekly, trying not to moan when Harry started to take off his shirt. “Harry, stop.”

He immediately did so, pulling back and looking at Zayn from above. “Did I hurt you? Are you okay? Oh god,” 

“No, it’s not that. Um, it’s just… it’s been a while, no?” Zayn asked, feeling very shy with his split knees. “And I’m a bit sore, my heat finished yesterday.” 

Harry growled lowly, a shiver going down Zayn’s back. “With who?” 

“A dildo, you idiot.” Zayn smacked his chest, going red. “Forgot my suppies again.” 

“You went through it alone?” Harry was astonished, fully pulling back and sitting on his knees. “Are you fucking serious?” 

Zayn sat up, blushing. “Unfortunately. I thought I was dying.” 

Harry gulped, all of a sudden his face feeling hot. “Fuck, I’m—shit, I shouldn’t have forced myself onto you like that. Sorry.” 

Zayn cackled loudly, surprising him, looking right at Harry like he was mad. “Harry, if I didn’t want it I could’ve squeezed your balls into putty by now.” He licked his bottom lip. “That’s the first time I’ve heard you call me darling since we ended it. Harry?” 

“Yes?” Harry’s curls fell forward a bit, and Zayn nearly fainted. 

“Do you remember when you told Hewitt she was like your mum and she started crying?” 

Harry froze. “Yes, it was the first time I’d ever seen her cry.” 

It was chilling. 

This was proof that God wasn’t real. Or that Zayn was in hell. He was probably dead. Maybe in Purgatory. This couldn’t be real. 

“Holy fuck, I’m totally joining Ant in the mental hospital.” 

“About that—“ 

“They’re going to give me electroshock therapy, I’ve gone mad.” 

“They’ve stopped doing that in—“ 

“I need to go.” Zayn whimpered, shaking his head roughly and scrambled away from Harry. “Fuck, I need to go.” 

Harry grabbed his wrist, “Do you remember the first time we rode down the Thames? I told you I knew how to row, but I was bluffing and I fell into the water.” 

Zayn’s face contorted to that of someone who’s seen a ghost. “Oh my god—“ 

“Or when you dragged me, wee thing, seven kilometers to my uncle’s house?” Harry murmured, pulling Zayn in again, touching the sides of his face. “It’s very real, my love. You were right, I did tell Louis I dream about you.” 

“Oh my god, it must’ve been the shrooms,” Zayn moaned, beginning to hyperventilate. “Because I think you just described exactly what happened in one of my dreams as if you’ve had the same one,” He laughed madly, faltering after a few more seconds of Harry’s unfazed stare. He moved again, but Harry kept him still. 

“Stop running, god dammit. Stop it.” Harry huffed, looking like he was going to cry himself. “It’s real, and I—I love you too.” 

And in that moment, Zayn understandably passed out. 


 

“Wakey wakey, Zaynie-poo. Sweetie pie. My little key lime. Baby baby—“ 

“Oh my god, stop.” Zayn slapped Louis’ hand away, eyes half closed. They were in a car, driving at least 70 miles per hour on the freeway. Liam was humming along to the radio, and Louis was in the backseat with Zayn, poking his face for the last hour. 

Good morning, sunshine.” Louis cooed in a condescending way, Liam rolling his eyes and shaking his head in the rear view mirror. “We didn’t want to miss your flight, so we just counted on you waking up. I figured it’d be an odd sight carrying a sleeping Zayn, taking your shoes off and dragging you through the metal detectors.” 

“What happened?” Zayn asked, rubbing his face. 

“You passed out, Harry called Charlie in a panic and left pretty quickly after we came back. Said something about how he’ll let us know once they’ve all graduated properly.” Louis shrugged, running his fingers through Zayn’s hair. “You good?” 

Zayn was not good. “Yeah.” 


 

“Whad’you mean you’re moving out?” Trisha crossed her arms, leaning against the door. “Zayn? What is the meaning of this?” 

“I’m a doctor, mama. It’s time I focused on becoming an adult, no?” Zayn grunted, lifting another box and nearly falling backwards trying to carry it out. Trisha raised a brow and stifled a laugh. 

“You’re still a baby, love. A baby who can’t even carry his own books out the front door.” Trisha sighed, jumping when Zayn tripped again. “Should I call you some movers?” 

“Mama, please stop making fun.” Zayn whined, breathing heavily and feeling extremely frustrated. “I’m working on borrowed time here, a week and a half deadline, if you must.” He stood up again, giving a very manly roar as he pushed the next few boxes out with his feet. 

Trisha laughed again, sipping her afternoon sangria. “And what is to happen at the end of these one and a half weeks?” 

Zayn looked up at her. “Harry Styles will ride in on a gallant steed in full steel armor and a vengeance.” Her smile faltered. 

“Are you serious?” 

“Very, mother. Considering he knows where I live, moving out and changing my phone number is the key to avoiding all of that, for your sake.” Zayn held his breath as he shoved another box out. “I can’t be trusted around him.” 

“Are you sure it’s not the other way around?” 

Zayn rolled his eyes, screaming in frustration as he turned around after opening his trunk. They had now migrated to the garage. “Mama, if I am to be completely honest, if I see that boy, I’ll go with him. I’m doing this so that you and Anne Styles don’t start a bloody war if I do so.” 

Trisha hummed in an ingenuine tone, tapping her nails against her glass in intense thought. “How noble of you.” 

Zayn finally got the last box in, “I love you, mama.” He leaned over and pecked her on the cheek. 

Trisha sighed, rolling her eyes and turning around to go back into the house. “Call if you need anything, like how to pay bills, taxes, set up insurance, do your laundry, all very menial things, one can say.” 

Zayn slammed the driver’s seat, whispering a quiet ‘fuck’ when he remembered that he didn’t know how to drive in the U.K. 


 

“Harry,” Niall said in a nervous tone. “Mate, can you stop? You’re making me nervous.” He sat back in his seat, Charlie fiddling with his cap and tassels. “It’s just a few more hours, fucking calm down.” 

Harry has made the executive decision to not pursue his Anthropology doctorate and take up the family trade back in London. His mother is elated, for she doesn’t know the real reason as to why he made this decision. 

“It’s happening then? We’re doing this?” Charlie asked, Niall leaning over to give him a kiss. “This is actually happening, huh?” 

Niall nodded, “Yes, babe. In a few days, we’re proclaiming a new independent pack. Granted, if Harry manages to hunt down Zayn in time before Louis goes to the Registrar and does it himself.” 


 

Let’s back up, shall we? 

So what did happen in those one and a half weeks? 

One week and five days ago 

“Baba,” Zayn warned, feeling mopey and defeated. 

“Beta, I’m not angry with you. In fact, this whole ordeal is extremely amusing to me.” Yaser pulled into the parking lot of Zayn’s new condo, one of the most expensive complexes in Greater London. “How are you affording this?” 

“Don’t worry about it.” Zayn walked out, immediately being surrounded by a group of men wearing matching shirts. “Are you kidding me?” 

“Your mother called ahead, don’t look at me like that. They’ll unpack for you and everything, granted if it’s not broken or mangled by your shoddy transport.” He laughed, kissing Zayn’s head as they walked inside. The movers got to work, the doorman keeping the door open as they all filed in a straight line, collectively going into the elevator and making Zayn all the more embarrassed at his own incapabilities. 

They silently watched all the robotic movers at work, unpacking the copious amount of clothes and books, discovering that Zayn had broken the fine china set he had stolen from the house, and even doing as much to get rid of all the trash. Once they all left, Yaser finally spoke up. “So why are you running, jaan?” 

Zayn tested the air for danger before answering. “He told me he loved me.” 

“Ah.” Yaser blinked at him, for some reason, Zayn had all of a sudden become very good at answering. “When?” 

“A few days ago.” 

Yaser groaned, looking at Zayn with disbelief. “So you ran to another continent?” 

“I didn’t plan on him saying it back to me!” 

“Oh, so you said it first? I thought you were broken up.” 

“We were.” 

“Ah,” Yaser let out again, standing up to pour water into the kettle. “Good thing you didn’t break the teacups, at least. I think we’d both do well with a cuppa.”

Zayn twiddled his thumbs. “Baba, are you mad?” 

“There’s nothing to be mad about, it’s your life. I’m sure even if I could find something to be validly upset about, you’re probably ten times more upset about it already.” Yaser hummed, giving Zayn a comforting smile. “I mean, it has been a year since you met him, no? And I don’t know what you've been up to.” 

“I wasn’t trying to run away from mama, or do anything crazy, like elope with him.” 

“Jaan, if anyone understands the pretenses of an unacceptable marriage, it would be me. What I also have a keen eye on is when my son is being foolish and he himself knows it. So out with it, whatever you’re trying to hide.” 

Zayn gulped just as the kettle began to whistle, bottom lip quivering. “I think I really do think he’s it, baba. I tried, I tried so hard—“ 

“What did I say about explaining yourself to me, jaan?” Yaser sighed, pouring the boiling water over the teabags, being careful that the paper tabs didn’t fall in. “It’ll have to be oolong, you have no milk and sugar yet.” He set down the cups and sat back down at Zayn’s dining table. (Previously bought.) “So I guess I was asking the wrong question, then. Why are you running away from him ?” 

“I didn’t understand before, just how much being a Styles would affect our family. But now I do, that’s why I picked up my diploma early, I had to leave as soon as possible. Because, if he said he loved me back, it’d mean I’d have to leave you. I wish I was being dramatic.” 

“Your mother and his mother could spend hours pulling at each other’s hair, but you’d never leave me, jaan. Not in the way you’re thinking of. You’d still be your sisters’ brother, my son, your mama’s son. Whatever choice you make, she will understand eventually that that is the choice she must accept. So you must start making those choices. Don’t put yourself in a box just because you’re scared to step out of it.” 

“I’d lose everything. My share of the—“ 

“Don’t worry about that, Zayn.” Yaser pushed the teacup closer to him. “You worry about the life you will make for yourself.” 

“You wouldn’t hate me?” Zayn sipped, pulling back at how boiling hot it was. “If I ran off? Made her disappointed?” 

Yaser chuckled, “There is no doubt in my mind that no matter my own opinion, you will step into your own path. Your mama could suggest one side of the road, but knowing you, you’ll probably go for the other end of the fork. And that’s okay.” 

“Baba, I love you.” Zayn said it so genuinely that he began to cry. “Like really, I’m so fucked up right now, you have no idea.” 

“Oh, beta.” He pulled his baby boy in a tight embrace, clutching his body like he was slipping away from his grasp. “My beautiful boy.” 

Zayn whimpered, wrapping his arms around his father’s neck. “I don’t know how to set up rainstorm insurance.” 

“Goodness gracious.” 


 

One week and one day ago 

“Liam, stop fussing so much, hm?” Louis shook Liam’s hands off, he had been checking Louis on and off for the last two hours. “Like you said, I’m in good health. There should be no trouble.” 

“I know, I’m sorry for stressing you. I just hate this place so goddamn much.” Liam cursed, pulling Louis into his neck just so he can feel his breath against his skin. “I hate having to wait so long for the results every time, it’s just so bad.” 

“Yeah, I know, baby.” Louis leaned his head up to kiss Liam’s chin, sighing softly at the sight of the bandaid nestled in the crook of his arm. Drawing blood regularly was no fun. “I’m going to see if I can find some snacks, yeah? Stay here?” Liam nodded, Louis stood up whilst checking his pockets and flashed him a cheeky smile before leaving the waiting room. 

The vending machine on the floor was broken, and so was the one on the floor just beneath. So after bounding up the stairs back up to the fifth floor, he discovered a working machine and daftly slid in the coins and punched in the number. When he leaned down to grab his parcel, he felt a tug on the back of his trousers. “What the…” 

“Could I have one, sir?” It was a little girl, wearing a baby blue beanie and mini hospital gown with no shoes. Louis frantically looked around before looking back down again, kneeling on one knee to come eye to eye with the little girl. 

“One of these?” Louis asked, holding up the pack of crisps. Little girl nodded, holding out her hands in a cute fashion as he gazed at him. She had no eyelashes, eyebrows, and definitely no hair underneath that beanie. Louis found the sign for the floor he was on before turning to her again. “Are you sure you should be running about, love?” 

“I have another che-che-chemotherapy session in a wee bit. I’d like a crisp, please.” Her voice was sweet and alluring, Louis couldn’t help but relent. “My name is Eden.” 

“That’s a wonderful name, Eden.” Louis smiled, handing her the pack of crisps before picking her up and resting her in his arms. “Where did you run off from? Where are your parents, Eden?” 

“I’m an orphan, sir.” Eden stuck her tongue out, deeply concentrated on ripping open the package. Louis blinked at her. “I’m five years and two months old. My guardians are the, are the, erm, Sisters of...something.” She scratched her head, and Louis couldn’t help but coo. 

“How come you’re getting chemotherapy, love?” He rocked her a bit as they walked to the room she had pointed at. 

“Leukemia, sir.” 

Louis heart must’ve shattered a bit. “That’s a big word, Eden. I’m very proud of you for nailing it.” 

“Sister Anne always said I was very smart in that regard.” She giggled when Louis tickled her, but it was obvious just how exhausted the little one was. Louis located a nun who had been desperately walking around the halls, feeling satisfied at her expression of relief when she saw them coming. “I don’t want to go to chemotherapy, sir.” 

“Why not, Eden?” Louis frowned. “Don’t you want to get better?” 

Eden shrugged. “There’s a baby younger than me named Bailey, she’s got cancer too. I don’t want them wasting all the medicine on me, they can only afford to treat one at a time, sir. I think I’d rather die than let her do so for my sake.” 

As shocked as Louis was, he probably wasn’t as shocked as the nun was when she approached them, quickly grabbing the girl from his arms and scolding her about ‘running off again.’ They disappeared into a room for a moment before the sister came back out, most likely to thank Louis. “Thank you so much, Edie tends to run off like that a lot.” 

“I have never met a suicidal six year old before in my life.” Louis said cautiously, feeling a bit sick. The nun smiled weakly at him. 

“Edie was always an exceptionally bright one. She always had trouble grasping the more human side of her when it came to things like this. I don’t even think she truly understands what it means to die.” 

“Louis Tomlinson. Pleasure to meet you.” He held out a hand, and after the brief shock of realizing who he was, she took it and shook back. 

“Ava Grayson, sir. It’s an honor.” She even bowed a little bit, much to Louis’ dismay. 

“Is it true you can only afford to treat one child at a time?” He asked, sitting her down on one of the chairs near the chemotherapy room. She nodded, giving him a sad look. 

“Yes, we used to have public funding for these things, but as the years have gone by, the cuts just kept on coming and we’ve had to rely solely on private contributions. Edie’s the only one who’s fully aware of the plight we’re in, despite her being so young.” Ava sniffed a bit, wiping her nose like it pained her to even repeat the situation again. 

“Is she extraordinary?” Louis asked curiously. 

Ava nodded. “Without a doubt. We’ve never had her tested, of course, but her intelligence is unlike anything I’ve ever seen in any child of her age. She’s a cute enough kid, but I think the baggage is what scared most of the contenders away. They want a healthy, impressionable infant, not a prodigal cancer ridden toddler that would surely be too difficult and expensive to handle.” 

Louis felt more sick. “I’m so sorry. She definitely seems like a future conversationalist.” 

Ava giggled a bit, covering her mouth. “I’ve had some of the most intelligent conversations I’ve ever had with that little girl. Her curiosity on death and fear and pain is one of the most eloquent and striking. Almost a bit…creepy, one might say. I personally adore her, but many of the others that are part of the order find her a bit too peculiar to love.”

Louis thought for a moment, turning away from Ava. He turned back sharply, making her jump. “This is my contact information.” He pulled out a business card, which he always had in his pocket just in case, writing his personal cell phone number on the back as well. “I’d like to visit again, visit Eden. It seems as though I have perhaps stumbled across my match.” 

“I’ve no idea what you mean, sir. But thank you.” Ava smiled, gracefully taking the card and gingerly putting it in her pocket. “God bless you.” 

Louis stood up, stopped for a moment and turned around. “God bless you,” he said it back, and although he wasn’t one to believe in God and such things, in that moment, this whole happenstance seemed too fated to be a coincidence. 


 

Six Days Ago 

Charlie was out on the balcony, smoking a well deserved cigarette. Niall didn’t let him smoke inside the house, and Harry didn’t allow weed, so. 

He was thinking and figuring out a lot of things, he and Louis had been talking for so long, devising and deciding. Up until now, he had completely thought Louis was just joking, that they weren’t actually trying to manipulate everyone into becoming one big power pack and start a war between all the families. But it did seem like shit was getting serious, and Charlie had no idea what the fuck he was going to do with an American nursing degree in England. If it was to even work at all. 

It did seem like all of a sudden, they had become very close, getting up and personal into each other’s lives like they’ve known each other since the womb. But Charlie was still too nervous to really even consider the gravity of the situation, what it’d mean between him and Niall. What it’d mean to open up to someone about the things you’ve been trying to repress your entire life. Turns out Charlie didn’t need to. 

“Babe? You out here?” Niall poked his head into the balcony, cringing at the smell of tobacco and swatting the smoke away with his hand. “Could I talk to you?” 

“Yeah, of course.” Charlie put out his cigarette, throwing it into the trashcan in the corner. “What about?” 

Niall seemed off. Charlie knew because he’d experienced that uneasiness in the air many times in his life. “Everything okay?” 

“I’m...a little pissed, to be honest with you.” Niall didn’t scream it, nor did he look it, but his tone of voice had changed. It seemed unkempt and a little dizzy, a little betrayed, a lot of tense. Charlie couldn’t help but freeze where he stood as Niall shifted and paced around. “I fucking know what you’re doing. With Louis.” 

“What do you mean?” Charlie was already about to cry, Niall’s scent had completely changed and it was making the hairs on the back of his neck rise. 

“I just—I thought you were different, Char. I—what the fuck are you doing?” Niall said softly, but firmly. “I fucking found those documents earlier. The ones you sign for an independant status. You’re hiding so much from me, all the goddamn time, and it’s like we’re pretending everything is transparent between us when it’s not.” 

“I—“ 

“You said,” Niall’s voice shook. “When I called you, all fucked up, you said that you had known who I was and what it meant to be me. And when I thought about it, what do you actually like about me? Why did you ever—“ 

“Niall.” Charlie had an idea of what he was insinuating, and he looked down to discover his hands shaking terribly. 

“And you told me to be yours. That you think you could love me, but first, you—you first said who I was.” Niall wiped his tears away furiously. “Who am I to you, Char? A warm body? Financial stability?” 

Charlie looked up at him, panicked and shaking his head, “No, baby, that’s not it. That’s not why me and Louis are, are doing whatever the fuck it is we’re doing. I don’t know.” Charlie pressed his face into his hands. “I’m so sorry, I never meant to—“ 

“I can’t do this.” Niall whispered, his hands were shaking too. “I don’t know who the fuck you are. You know,” He turned around sharply, raising his hand to scratch his head, but Charlie jumped away at the sight of him doing so. Niall noticed that too, and hung his head even more. “Last time I was home, my brother told me to watch out for sluts that only wanted one thing from us. I feel so fucking stupid.” 

Charlie shook his head, “Baby, you do, I swear to god, please, I just need to explain,” he chased Niall through the hallway, and the latter slammed the bedroom door in his face. Charlie cursed, the tears running out of his face like a rainy day, his back sliding against the door as he stuck his head in between his knees. 

Fuck

And he cried and cried, while Niall cried and cried on the other side of the wall, one feeling like he had messed up the greatest thing in his life and the other feeling like a fool. 

Charlie cried so hard to the point where his face felt hot and his brain began pounding against his skull, saliva filmy and lips chapped, looking up to realize that the day had passed and the moon had settled in. 

Niall was not making a single sound, and Charlie’s heart felt like it was trying to rip itself out. He scrambled to get up, feeling overheated and nauseous, having cried himself dehydrated. The clock told him 12:30 AM, and so he grabbed his jacket, fumbled around for his keys, realizing immediately that he had nowhere to go, his apartment lease ended a week ago and he had been in the process of trying to move in with Niall or at least just stay here until he figured something out. He felt drained, he couldn’t even cry anymore because there were no more tears left. “Maybe XXXXXX is home.” He opened his phone, blinking at the brightness of his screen as he looked through his contacts, nervously missing the name and cursing when it happened again. 

“Char.” A tired voice rang through the living room, and Charlie flinched. “Char.” Niall repeated again, staggering into the room with bags under his eyes. He stepped towards Charlie, throwing his jacket back onto the counter barstool and grabbing him, lifting him into his arms and letting his legs wrap around his waist, and walked back into the bedroom. 

“Ni?” 

“I couldn’t sleep without you, it’s fucking stupid.” Niall mumbled, burying his head into Charlie’s neck. 

“Ni, I’m sorry.” Charlie’s entire body was shaking. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” 

“Babe,” Niall put them both back onto the bed, Charlie squirming and sobbing. “Baby.” 

“I’m so sorry, I promise you aren’t just a bag of money to me, I’m sorry, baby,” Charlie curled up, covering his face with his hands and jumping every time Niall touched him. “I’m such a piece of shit, I’m sorry.” 

“Charlie,” Niall unfurled him, trying to hold him close but he kept on pushing away. “Babe, just sleep.” 

“I’m sorry,” Charlie repeated, sweating and tears making a wet spot on the bedsheets. “I know I’m just a lying slut, okay, when I said I could love you I meant it like I know I could fall in love with you even though I knew how out of my league you were, I got selfish and ambitious and I feel like I wasted your time, I’m a fucking nobody—“ 

“Charlie, no. I’m the one who should be sorry. I should’ve never said that, I’m a fucking asshole. Baby,” Niall touched his face, and Charlie slapped his hand away on instinct, as though he couldn’t bear for Niall to touch the disgusting thing that he was. 

“My name isn’t Charles. My actual dad’s dead, the person you saw was my foster dad, and Hunter and I… we don’t fucking get along as well as he says we do.” Charlie hiccuped, he couldn’t even get most of the words out. “It’s fucking Chartreuse, can you believe they named me that? A fucking color?” 

“I know.” Niall whispered, feeling so desperate to touch him. “That night I called you, I told you I was at a club and… I ran into Hunter, of all fucking people. He told me your real name, and how… how—“ Niall felt so ashamed. “That I was more to you than I thought.” 

Charlie bit his lip, he looked exhausted and pale, brow shiny from a cold sweat, and he was still shaking. 

“I love you,” Niall whispered, crying again. “When I saw those documents in that box, I just snapped. I’m so sorry, I invaded your personal space and I should’ve never kept all those things from you.” 

“My family hates me, because I’m the product of a head alpha and a prostitute.” Charlie scoffed, backing away. “I’ve attempted suicide twice, once when I was fourteen, and the other time when I was nineteen.” 

“You don’t need to say all of this, Char.” Niall firmly pulled him in. “Fuck, you’re burning up so bad.” 

“I’m not good enough for you, Ni. Can’t you see that? Don’t you see why I was trying to hold onto you so bad?” 

Niall’s heart was on the floor. On the ceiling. On the wall. “Charlie, please.” 

He shifted and crawled over Charlie’s body, knee in between his legs and hands pressed on the bed on either side of his head. 

“Ni,” Charlie croaked, feeling disgusting and awful, “Don’t.” 

Niall breathed, looking at him intently, studying his face like it was an artistic masterpiece recovered from the ruins of an ancient palace, every stroke of the brush that created the perfect being that was given to him and laid out before him. He then flipped them over, so that Charlie was on his lap and chests were pressed together. “Charlie Axton, I have been yours from the moment I met you.” 

“Niall,” Charlie whispered, he was feverish. 

“And I ever want to do is hold you,” 

Charlie wailed, shaking his head and trying to cover his face, but Niall didn’t let him. 

“And take care of you, keep you safe.” Niall’s hands moved behind him so that he could gently press on the base of his neck. “I’m sorry, I’m the piece of shit between the two of us. I thought I was going to lose you, and I just fucking lost it.” 

Charlie collapsed a bit against his chest, his body stopped shaking and his breathing slowed. “Niall?” 

“Yeah, baby?” Niall was kissing him repeatedly, Charlie couldn’t even talk. 

“Ni, do you really mean it?” Charlie was sad, and it was making Niall want to stab himself over and over again. “You—there are a lot of people who are in your league, man. Are you sure I can be enough? Because I don’t think I can. I don’t think your parents will like me, I don’t—“ 

“None of that fucking matters. Of course you’re enough. And we’re fucking going along with Louis’ plan, because you’re it for me.” Niall growled a little. “My mam’s a raging bitch, anyways. I’ve read her will, she’s giving my brother most of what she’s got.” 

Charlie’s face was enough to say it all. “I’m sorry. That’s...that’s terrible.” 

“Charlie, I’m really fucking sorry about everything I said. It’s not even my business the things that you want to keep hidden and what you choose to disclose. I should have trusted you regardless.” Niall kept on rubbing his back, they slowly lowered themselves back down until Niall’s back was touching the sheets, Charlie’s ears pressed firmly so that he could ear his heart beating. 

“I have something else to tell you, babe. Actually, I have two things to tell you.” Charlie tilted his head so that he could look at Niall’s face and Niall could look at his. “I’ve been keeping it to himself for a while now, and it’ll fucking change everything, which is why,” he got up and off of him, shifting his legs off the edge of his bed. He faced the window, unable to look at Niall’s face. 

“I’m pregnant.” 

Everything seemed silly, didn’t it? The petty fight that Niall picked just a few hours ago, the way Charlie cried and sobbed outside of his bedroom door as if that stupid, petty fight was what was going to break them up. The way that he smoked a cigarette on the balcony like he didn’t give a shit, and how he had kept those independency papers instead of ripping them up a long time ago. 

And Niall? He was clean, but now he was losing it in other ways. He had gotten into the seventh screaming match with his mother this month just last week, blocked his brother’s phone number a couple days ago, and had been in a depression that didn’t really show to the others. He talked to Liam about it sometimes, when they’d work out together, go on a run together, things like that. He couldn’t talk to Harry anymore, he was either busy studying or busy chasing Zayn, and it wasn’t as though he was about to stress Charlie out either. 

These are two very shitty people that we are reading about. They’re good people, no mistake. But good people who had never felt as though they were allowed to be human. Even the way they met was idyllic, the way they viewed each other like gods. Just like in this moment, as Niall gazed upon Charlie’s back like he had met his soul mate. 

He was so happy. 

So, so fucking happy. 

They celebrated a little bit, still feeling a bit sullen from the fight they had, but happy and teary eyed, nevertheless. Niall scolded him about smoking, and Charlie found it funny that he was being lectured by resident drug addict, then Charlie scolded Niall for calling him a slut. It was half-hearted, the joking and the dry humor. Niall was so excited, Charlie couldn’t just not be excited with him, let him know that he was three and a half weeks along. Then Niall told him I love you, and that was kind of it. 

They wept some more, held each other’s bodies like there was no other option but to, slept, moved around, and woke up the next morning alive and confused. 

Charlie did say that he had two things to tell him, didn’t he? 


 

Four days ago 

“Hi Eden!” Louis giggled softly, bending down onto his knees as the little girl walked forward with a smile. “Remember me? Crisp man?” 

“Hi,” Eden bit her finger, smiling wide as Louis pulled her into his arms. “Hi.” 

“Hello, love.” Liam smiled at her too, bending down on one knee so that both of them could look at her from eye level. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, I’ve heard many things.” 

Eden looked at him a bit wary, but stuck her hand out to shake Liam’s, which made him laugh. Eden then decided that his laugh was very nice. 

“So, Eden, I was thinking maybe you could spend the afternoon with me, Louis, and Liam today?” Louis asked, gently supporting her lack of balance and quickly fixing the beanie on her head so that she didn’t get cold. “Do you have any favorite books we can read together? Anything you like to do for fun and wish you could do more of?” 

“Yes, I do. It’s over there.” She pointed to her bed, a measly little thing, with shabby but clean sheets and a paper flower stuck to the wall above it. Louis nodded, standing up with her still in his arms, walking over and sitting on the side of her bed. Liam straightened up, smiling at the sight of his lover holding a baby. 

“Ah, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross… On Death and Dying?” Louis blinked at the title, looking back at Eden, who nodded very intently. “Erm, wow. Where’d you get this book?” He opened to where the bookmark was keeping itself, she had gotten almost a quarter of the way in all by herself. 

“I got it from the library.” Eden looked up at him with her big brown eyes. “I wanted to learn.” 

Louis couldn’t help but coo, despite how absolutely terrible it was. He clicked his tongue. “Well, alright then. I’ll just pick up from where you left off.” Liam sat down next to them, offering his arms to Eden, who nervously complied, but amazingly settled into Liam’s lap comfortably. The three of them took turns reading aloud, Liam becoming more and more astonished at Eden’s genius nature; impeccable pronunciation, diction, she even seemed to understand words that he didn’t even understand. He looked up at some point to look at Louis, as though now he understood why they were there. 

Louis was lovingly staring at Eden, smiling softly when she struggled, but resolved her mistakes within the second, the way she’d turn her head to ask a deep and personal question that threatened all the laws of the fourth dimension, the fifth dimension, and what was thought to be humanly possible. 

It made so much sense now, and it only got clearer as the hours passed and the meals were eaten, they tucked Eden into the hospital bed, trying not to sob at how it consumed her, gently petting the side of her face until she fell asleep. 

Once, when they were teenagers, and Louis had come home for winter break from boarding school, and was doing a solo violin performance for the community chapel. They were sitting on the third pew to the light, Liam remembers this moment so vividly, a mutual childhood friend of theirs leaned over to Liam and whispered, “Are we sure he’s human?” 

With his curly brown hair and the baby fat still clinging onto his face, he smiled a little and whispered back. “Yes. It’s just that whatever he does, it is always at the very limit of what is humanly attainable.” Their friend seemed to agree with that, because he never questioned it further, even as Louis became crazier and crazier. 

Liam understood why they were here again, at this horrible, horrible hospital, where grim reapers pace around in wait, where people step into Heaven and others become ghosts. Louis saw a very human part of himself in this little girl, who was obviously brilliant and evocative as she was sweet and gentle. He was always the kind of guy that would never settle for anything less than perfect. Could Eden be perfect? 

When they tiptoed out of the room, Liam wrapped an arm around Louis and kissed him three times on the cheek. “I can’t wait to live the rest of my life with you.” 

Louis smiled at him, like he had already been constructing the perfect plan for him and Liam since the moment they first held hands. 


 

Three days ago 

“So...you want me to abandon my family so that we can create our own pack so that you two can get married and adopt a kid?” Harry pointed accusingly at said “you two.” Louis and Liam nodded at him, holding hands and biting each other’s lips. “Niall has been joking about that shit for years, you guys can’t fool me.” 

Louis cocked his head from side to side, squinting a little, “We’re a bit serious, mate.” Liam nodded in agreement, looking at Harry all hopeful. 

Harry gaped. “But there are rules, there are papers and regulations and qualifications and--” 

“Yes, Harry dear, and we’re all in agreement that we can take them on. But we need at least three pairs in order for the state to recognize the legality of it, and then and only then could we,” Louis looked over at Liam. “Can get married, and then get Eden.” 

“Who’s Eden?” Harry threw his hands up. “Like seriously, why do random people keep on popping up into my life and impaling every part of it like I don’t have a choice anymore?” 

“Eden’s the five year old leukemia patient at the hospital, she’s orphaned, suicidal, and pretty sure her IQ is of a high school student.” Louis explained monotonously, watching the way Harry’s face contorted at every detail. “She’s perfect, she’s a little me, and I’m going to fight for her. So listen, you don’t need to take us up on this, alright? We’ll trap Zayn a nice rich Scottish alpha, take Niall and Charlie to the Registrar and do it ourselves.” 

Louis was scary. Liam squeezed his hand. 

Harry looked appalled at the idea of Zayn with another alpha, which why Louis obviously mentioned it. He bit his lip in contemplation, and ran over all the checks and balances of this decision in his head. How else would he meet Zayn again? Who the fuck would they even set Zayn up with? Would Niall no longer be his best friend? Would his mother not love him anymore? 

“I’ll fucking do it,” Harry growled, sparking a small smile to appear on Louis’ lips. “I’m an adult, and I can make my own fucking decisions. At this point, I think I’d murder any other person that tries to threaten me and you guys, even if it’s my mum.” He gulped at that last bit, Louis’ eyes flickering for a second in understanding. “But on one condition.” 

“Name it.” 

“Liam’s head alpha.” Harry cocked his head in his direction, Liam frozen in shock and fear. “It can’t be Niall, and definitely can’t be me. Also, another condition, we have one joint bank account, our money will be centralized, but our other assets in private trusts and stocks are individual. The institutions that have been promised to us, obviously our parents will try to repeal that right once we tell them we’re going independent--” 

“Which is why I’ve already hired a team of lawyers, I’m going to secure the portion of our pharmaceutical estate, and authority from that point on will be delegated to the employees I will hire.” Louis told Harry, who looked nervous as fuck. “But you? Don’t worry about the money, don’t worry about the families. Worry about how you’re going to get Zayn back, alright?” 

“What the fudge did you guys just talk about? Delegate? Centralized?” Liam cut in, breaking the electric stare between Harry and Louis. 

“Don’t worry about it, my trophy wife.” Louis kissed the side of his head, smirking at how Liam went red in embarrassment. “And to be clear,” He looked right at Harry. “I’m not doing this for selfish reasons, I’d never ask that of you and especially not Zayn. This is because of our pride as autonomous people, so that we can love who we want to love, and secure our own empire for our children. Our families can either accept it or they accept it. We should have that right.” Liam went puppy eyed at the mention of children, and when Harry noticed, he smiled a little too. 

“Autonomous people, great term.” Harry fist bumped Louis, expanding his ribs on a deep inhale and shoving it all out on the exhale. “I’m no little bitch. I’m no little bitch.” 

Another flash of white overtook his eyes, the first one in a very long time, and it came over him like the ones in the beginning of the year. 

You know, this sounds silly, but I always thought I’d be the wife… 

You make me feel like I’m beautiful. ” 

Harry blinked again to see Louis feeding Liam a bit of his salad, and he took a deep breath, looking down to find that his hands were shaking. 

Promise me that you’re coming back . ” 

“I promise,” Harry muttered to himself, jerking up when the waiter came around with his lunch. He put on a smile, made conversation with Louis and Liam for the next hour or two, feeling like his heart was on a unicycle. A unicycle driven by a monkey and cycling along a tightrope. 


 

Present Day 

Harry practically sprinted off that stage, shaking hands wildly and giving curt nods to the professors he didn’t like. He skipped down the steps, nearly bending the diploma in his hands, there was no time for the luxury of formalities, in fact, there was just no time PERIOD. He ripped off his cap, maneuvered himself out of his gown, and waved to his dad and Gemma, who was in attendance and looking very confused. Niall, Charlie, and Louis had all graduated already on different days, so Harry was the last one to meet them at the airport. 

He stopped in his sprint, feeling bad about it, running back and giving his family a bear hug, not even pausing to listen to his dad try to explain why his mother wasn’t there as he began running again. He finally made it home, the doorman let him in for the last time, he dropped his keys off and terminated lease agreement at the leasing office, panting shakily as the elevator propelled him up. His phone was beeping and vibrating wildly texts from some of his classmates, Gemma, Niall, etc…, but he honestly couldn’t give less of a shit. He called the uber, having already promised his car to the doorman as a parting gift, dragged all his luggage down the steps and waited on the curb, entire body shaking and sweating. 

Well, he was nowhere close to being late for his flight. He just wanted to produce a sense of urgency. He was going to see Zayn again, face his mother again, clean out his bedroom, pray that Gemma and his dad wouldn’t be too disappointed. It was crazy to think that in a couple of days (assuming all goes well with Zayn), Harry will be staking claim to a quarter of his family’s old income hotspots, moving into a new house with five other people with a new last name, a new pack, and the promise of everything on the line. 

He was going to prove that Maliks and Styleses can mix, that he could be much more than just his mother’s successor or a quiet-lived librarian. 

Before he knew it, he was at the airport, the guy was helping take his suitcases out of the trunk, wished him luck, and off Harry went. He disassociated a little as he took off his shoes and got scanned by a metal detector, and wasn’t able to process that he was walking through all the terminals to the gate. He didn’t even truly process how Niall greeted him, Louis and Liam were already napping in the corner, and Charlie handed him a lunch. Then they said it, the thing that made Harry’s ears pop and snap him back to his reality. 

“You better not fuck it up with Zayn.” 



Chapter Text

They arrived in one piece, well, of course they did, it was Emirates first class. They had told none of their families they were back in England, and Harry turned his phone off after Gemma kept spam calling him on the plane. (Because plane wifi! Wonder what it’s like to be that rich!) 

It seemed that Louis was the most dependable person one could ever meet. He already had four promising houses in mind, had already begun a joint account in a bank that all of them already had funds with, and has successfully managed to sneak a small percentage of the Tomlinson Pharmaceuticals income without anyone really noticing. Powerful. 

Niall was becoming more responsible too, out of fucking nowhere. He transferred all of his money into the new bank, autonomized his trust fund, and was already beginning to invest in multiple industries with that money. It seemed as if he and Charlie had gotten even closer, which Harry had no idea how it would’ve been possible, but the universe made it happen somehow, Niall wouldn’t even let Charlie open the door for himself. He’d hold everything for Charlie, wrap his arms around him more than he used to, gave everyone who looked in their direction a sullen glare. 

But perhaps Harry was too preoccupied to investigate that nonsense further. 

“That one.” He pointed at the very first house, and the real estate agent smiled weakly. 

“You didn’t even look at the other ones, Haz.” Niall rolled his eyes, but Harry could care less about house picking or whatever. What he cared about was whether or not Zayn would be in that house within the next week. Fuck. “This one has ten bathrooms? Why would anyone need ten bathrooms? Louis, do we really need to get excessive about this?” Niall turned to Louis, who rolled his eyes at Niall. 

“We’re making a statement. Sending a message. It’s not as though I’d raise our children in a tiny three bedroom, Niall.” Louis clucked disapprovingly, and Niall went red at the thought of the amount of children there had to be to have a need for ten bathrooms. How many times he’d have to get Charlie pregnant. 

“Maybe this one,” Niall quickly answered, Charlie slapped the side of his head like he could read his mind. 

“I quite like this one, it’s a bit remote, there’s a forest on the property, lots of space for kids running around and dogs and things.” Liam showed Louis, who cooed at him and nuzzled his shoulder. 

Harry was on the other end of the couch, shaking his leg and rubbing his hands harshly, trying desperately to regain control of his breath. He was nervous, they were truly riding on him managing to fix things with Zayn, who, by the way, had disappeared into thin fucking air, having not contacted anyone since he left more than two weeks ago. 

“Then we’ll visit that one,” Charlie nodded in agreement with Liam. “I know that forest, it’s north of London, right? It’s supposed to be really safe there, it’s almost agricultural. I think we should have lots of space too.” 

Harry snapped his head. “North?” 

“Yeah, pretty far from central London, but it’d be fine. Probably better to have some distance from the families.” Louis pondered out loud.  

“The area used to be a ghost town,” Charlie informed. “It was known to be a town of superstition and magic, honoring ancestors, observing Samhain, stuff like that. A lot of paranormal specialists and mediums went there and famously called it ‘The City of Benevolent Spirits.’ They say that whoever visits in the hopes of catching a poltergeist or being scared out of their wits actually ends up feeling safe and content by the time they get back home, as if the whole town is charmed with good luck.” 

“Okay, we see you, smartie,” Niall checked Charlie out, looking up and down coyly. 

However, Harry didn’t react. It wasn’t that he was unimpressed with Charlie’s extensive trivia knowledge, but… okay, I need to break the fourth wall here. We all know what this town is and what it used to be. Yes, you, the person reading. “Let’s go there then, visit the house.” Harry croaked weakly, and the rest of the guys nodded, looking back at the real estate agent, who seemed immeasurably happy at the thought of selling a 14 million pound mansion. 

There was a vibrating noise, and Louis shifted over to reach in his back pocket. “Oop, my arse is ringing.” He answered the call. “Hello?” 

Everyone was getting ready to leave the agent’s office, sweeping off their clothes and making sure they had everything. “Zaynie?” 

Harry’s brain jostled about from how he snapped his neck towards Louis, chest beginning to heave in and out. 

“Changed your number, did you, you fucking cow?” Louis laughed, wiggling his eyebrows at Harry and nodding his head very seriously at him. He then went back to smiling, so that his words would sound like he was saying them through a smile, to mask his actual emotion. 

Kind of creepy, to be honest, how Louis was so freakishly good at deception. 

Everyone scampered out the door at Louis’ unspoken instruction, leaping into the car. “Sorry, where’d you say you were? I’ll come over with a housewarming gift, babe. Li’s coming too. You eat anything yet? Probably not, we’ll pick someone--something up on the way. Bye babe, love you too, motherfucking Houdini.” He ended the call and quickly typed in the address that Zayn sent over into navigation, panting almost crazily and Liam lifted an eyebrow. 

“Calm down, Lou.” 

“Li, you know why I can’t calm down.” Louis’ voice quavered a bit, shocking everyone in the backseats. “It feels like we’re running out of time for her.” 

“Don’t say scary shit Lou, Ava told us that things were turning up for the better.” Liam shook his head, pulling out of the parking lot and turning left at Siri’s command. 


 

“We’re just gonna shove you in, okay?” 

This was it. The moment that Harry will have an aneurysm and finally die properly for good. 

“Good luck, man. No pressure.” 

Harry has begun to hold his breath in the hopes that the oxygen deprivation would save him from this situation, but alas, Niall thumped him on the back and he let go with an ‘oof’. He glared at him, then looked at the rest of them weakly, and they all understood. This was no easy task, if any one of them were in Harry’s position they’d be scared shitless too. 

“Roses, they’re Zayn’s favorite.” No they’re not. “And Byron burgers, Zayn will eat half of it before complaining about eating the rest.” Louis handed it to him, giving him an unconvincing smile. 

“Everything will work out, Harry.” It’s Liam who sounds genuinely reassuring, eyes glittering in the hallway lighting, giving Harry a single nod and crooked smile. 

Louis knocked on the condo door, and everyone scuffled away at the sound of the locks unlocking, and just when the door opened, Niall shoved Harry in with as much force as an NFL defense player. All four of them peered over to see that Harry had landed directly on top of Zayn, calculated that they’ll be fine, and ran away before Zayn could notice. 

“Oh my fucking god, they need to stop doing that.” Harry whimpered, his hands hurt from how forcefully they smacked the ground. They were under Zayn’s head, because Harry grabbed him before he could injure himself, and now they were on the floor. 

Zayn shrieks so loudly that Harry forgets about the pain in his hands, and he rolls over screaming with him, the food in the bag tossed at least eight feet into the apartment and the roses absolutely destroyed in the corner of the entrance. 

“You fucker!” Zayn’s voice is so shrill Harry has to physically check with his hands to see if his ears were bleeding. “Ugh! No! NO NO NO NO NO!” Zayn jumps up, his entire head red as a tomato and angrily stomping around the living room. “UGh!” A throw pillow is thrown onto the ground, and Zayn falls onto his knees and starts punching it. “Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!” He stops, and Harry is frozen in fear, still sitting down and leaning against the front door watching Zayn lose his shit. 

Zayn turns around, and Harry’s life flashes before his eyes. His ears were practically steaming like that of a provoked bull, and Harry has absolutely nowhere to run. “I didn’t want this. Go back. Please. Go back.” Zayn says sternly, stomping over to see whether or not Harry was hurt anywhere. “Fuck Louis. I’m going to murder him, dance on his grave, then bring him back to life, murder him again, and then dance on his grave again.” He mutters venomously, roughly shoving Harry’s head left and right to check for any bruises. 

“H-Hi,” Harry is in literal tears, this moment did not go accordingly to any one of the simulations he tested in his head of how this would go. “Hi.” He squeaked again. “I’m sorry, don’t be mad at Louis. It was me who needed to reach you the most.” 

Zayn didn’t look at him, just got up from his lap and wordlessly headed to the kitchen. “Tea?” 

“Mm,” Harry squeaked again, knees weak as he tried to stand up. “Yes, thank you.” Zayn pulled out a chair for him at the dining room table, walking back to watch the kettle intensely. When Harry sat down, Zayn jerked a bit. “I won’t waste your time, I promise.” Harry stood back up and walked towards Zayn with intent. 

Now it was Zayn’s turn to be frozen. Perhaps Harry was going to yell and scream at him for being so stupid and mean, but of course he didn’t, because Harry would never. Harry would probably cry, which he did. He looked mad about it too, that he was crying, looking away every time another tear ran down his face. “Zayn,” It was a whisper , and the whisper hurt. “I’m… I’m surprisingly not angry. But I’m also not sad, either. I’m crying because I’ve bottled up what I’m about to say for a full fucking year and that’s exhausting.” 

Zayn finally looked up, looking right at the heartbroken man in front of him, feeling completely terrible. 

“I get it now, why you’d keep on running away.” Harry’s voice got louder to a conversational level. “It took me so long to figure it out just what went wrong for us.” Harry stepped forward, and Zayn’s breath hitched. “But you gotta stop running away, okay? I know you will anyways, so promise me that you’re coming back for when you do.” 

Promise me that you’re coming back.

Zayn’s lower lip trembled as Harry softly raised a hand to tuck his hair behind his ear, and remembering that memory didn’t hurt this time, there was no white flash and keel to the head, but more like a gust of wind went through him, pushing all the air out of his lungs and knocking on his heart, telling it to speak its truth. “Zayn, I figured it out.” 

“Fi-figured what out?” He finally spoke, letting Harry come even closer, backing him up against the wall. 

“I realized that I was the one who died. It seems fucking obvious, because you told me that before, but it didn’t really register until I believed it myself.” Harry breath was hot against Zayn’s forehead. “I stayed with you, yeah?” 

“Yeah,” Zayn’s voice was light and broken. 

“And I thought if the--the roles were reversed, if it were you who had stayed even though you could’ve gotten out, and you ended up being the one dying, I’d...I’d never forgive myself either.” 

Zayn broke into a sob, his back finally touched the wall just in time for Harry to lift him up, wrap his legs against his waist and hold onto his neck desperately. 

“I was so mean to you, darling.” Harry looked up at him from this angle, looking gorgeous and smelling so sinfully good, “I thought I would never be able to tell you, I initially thought you had no idea, but even when I found out you did remember, I kept on telling myself that it was because you were too much of a different person than before.” Harry placed his forehead against Zayn’s chest. “I just wanted to make sense of it all, why you kept running.” 

“I--I am a different person, Harry. You were right to think that.” 

“No, my love.” Harry slid him back down, so that now Zayn was at Harry’s eye level and their bodies flush against each other. “I was so wrong, baby. You never changed. You’re the same person, it’s me who’s different now.” 

Zayn was confused. “What do you mean?” 

“The way I described the past you was wrong from the very beginning. You were never quiet, or constantly pensive, or wonderfully curious about the unknown world and life I forced you into.” Harry carried him out of the kitchen, Zayn pointed to one of the bedrooms and Harry walked them into it. “You never never any of those things, and that’s what I got wrong. I didn’t find you, you found me, and you were loud and sure of yourself with both feet planted firmly on the ground.” Harry sat down on the bed, Zayn still in his lap, and the heat generated between their bodies was making their clothes stick to their skin. “You saved me in so many ways that I could never have done for you.” 

Zayn was full on crying, unable to catch his breath, hyperventilating and his entire face soaked. “Ha--Harry!” He couldn’t stop himself, opening his neck up so that Harry could punish him for being so bad, for causing all the ruckus. Harry did bite him, but it didn’t nearly hurt as much as when Liam would bite him for being bad. Harry stopped quickly, kissing his neck and turning Zayn’s face back to him to meet his lips. “I truly think we’re here again because of you, you know? It sounds crazy and I can’t explain it, but it’s this gut feeling that something must have brought us together. I love you, Zayn. I love you, I love you, I love you,” Harry repeated it between every kiss he’d plant on Zayn’s lips, turning them around and Zayn’s body hit the sheets lightly. The bed was cool and refreshing, just enough so that Zayn could process what exactly was happening. Being tossed onto the bed made him realize just how hot and bothered he was, slick soaking his pants and his chest felt like it was on fire. Harry climbed over him, pausing when their eyes met, curly hair falling downwards and the smell of his shampoo making Zayn’s head spin. “Darling, you’re still crying.” A warm thumb rubbed over his eyelid and cheek. “Are you okay? You have to tell me if it’s okay,” 

“I love you so much,” Zayn whimpered, hands reaching up to grab Harry’s face. “And I hate you for it. I wanted you to be not right, to be just a dream, but then we broke up and we talked and watched movies for like, seven months straight and it just made me realize how much I love you. Not just because of our...previous life, I guess, if we can call it that. You’re it for me, Harry. Seriously, there was no way I was ever going to fall in love with anyone else the way I fell for you.” As he said it, Harry began crying, tears dropping onto Zayn’s face. He leaned down and buried his head in Zayn’s neck, and while he did so, Zayn reached over and traced the tattoos on Harry’s arm with his fingers, breathing in his shower gel and reached over again to feel the shoulder blades on his back and the dipped line that enclosed his spine. The way Harry would inhale and it pressed Zayn down just the tiniest bit. This was Harry’s body. He’d never had the chance to study it like this. 

When Harry was done sucking the lovebite behind Zayn’s ear, he pulled off and up, sitting on his knees as he quickly stripped of his shirt, and the sight of his abs with the precisely detailed tattoos made Zayn’s mouth water. He instinctively reached to touch Harry’s skin, a hand on his chest, just as Harry leaned back down to help Zayn out of his shirt. 

“Fuck, babe. You’re so fucking beautiful,” Harry murmured like he was talking to a baby, running his large hands up and down Zayn’s sides. “Gorgeous.” A kiss was placed on Zayn’s eyelid when he shut his eyes. “Open your eyes, babe, let me see you.” Zayn obeyed, and Harry’s facial expression was nothing like he’d ever seen before. He blinked, and Harry’s breath skipped. 

“Your eyes are pretty too,” He says to him, and Harry looks like Zayn totally just read his mind or some shit, because he looks away quickly in embarrassment. “Hazza, hand.” 

“My hand?” Harry asks, bringing it to Zayn, and with a breath and shit ton of newfound confidence, Zayn grabbed and pulled Harry’s index and middle finger into his mouth, sucking them before moving his tongue around to wet them and relaxing his jaw so he could coat them properly. He shut his eyes and whimpered a bit when Harry pressed further in, not enough to gag, but just enough to make Zayn get even more hard in his pants. Zayn popped off his fingers with a line of spit, and Harry moans, moving to kiss Zayn’s lips shove a tongue past them. 

Zayn realizes that their pants aren’t even off yet, so his effort was futile, huffing and slamming his head back on the bed as Harry shifted to shimmy himself out of his pants. Zayn’s eyes moved slightly, to sneak a first glimpse and of course, it wasn’t like Harry was going to shrink, of course it was still huge as ever. 

Harry unbuttons Zayn’s fly with his hands, one of them glistening in the lamp light and forcefully yanks his jeans off like they’ve done him a cruel injustice. Zayn should always be naked, it’s a waste to cover all of this. He stared for a moment, eyes running up and down his body, and Zayn got a bit shy, bending his knees inward towards his midsection and doing the same with his arms. Harry shook his head, “Uh uh, none of that bullshit today, let me admire you, babe.” He holds Zayn’s arms away, smiling just a little at how flushed he was, basically at Harry’s mercy and completely exposed. Harry spots something strange though, something he’d never seen before. Just on the inside of his arm, a tiny little mark, when Harry moved closer, he could see that it was a tattoo that said “1939.” 

He could hear Zayn gulp nervously, so Harry gulped too. “1939,” Harry said fondly, eyes flickering back to stare Zayn’s down. “Fuck, I love you.” 

Zayn nearly screams at that, because this was nice and all, but Harry was being a real piece of shit with all this corny ass teasing, so he shimmied his arms out of Harry’s grip, straddling his lap with opened thighs. Fuck, it was an invitation. 

So Harry did what any sane person would do, place his hands behind Zayn’s knees to spread his legs further and bent down to lick a long stripe up from his tailbone to his balls. Zayn has to physically restrain himself from screaming, covering his mouth in the surprise of it all, and Harry was having none of that either. “I want to hear you. Don’t cover your mouth.” Zayn put his hands back down immediately, exhaling exaggeratedly and put his head to the side. His sheets were freshly washed, they smelled so good and comforting, it felt perfect and real. He could see his window from here, how the day was beginning to end, the sky a whole bunch of colors and it almost felt like the sun was saying ‘goodbye, I think you’ve got it from here.’ 

He didn’t know why he felt that way, but it was impossible to keep watching the sun go down because Harry began to shove his tongue right past his rim, making him squeeze his eyes shut and now did he truly scream. 

“Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god,” Zayn blubbered nonsensically, looking down, and just the mere sight of Harry’s head in between his legs is enough to make him come. His soft hair was touching the inside of Zayn’s thighs and at this point, they were so sensitive to the point that every time Harry shifted his head--consequently shifting his hair, the movement made Zayn clench and buck his hips up. Harry was so deep to the point where his nose was firmly pressed against his perineum, and Zayn thinks he might actually die from this. “Fuck!” And okay, this time he screams a tiny bit too loud, but Harry doesn’t dare stop, instead letting go of one leg so that he could stuff his fingers back into Zayn’s mouth to shut him up a little bit. Zayn clenches again, and Harry just presses his tongue harder, then out, and moving it all over and around the area of Zayn’s hole, really trying not to be distracted by how he was literally deepthroating his fingers up there, even using a little bit of teeth like he wanted to catch Harry’s attention. 

“Hazza, Hazza please.” Zayn pops off and begs him, chest going up and down and legs now moving wildly to get him to stop. “You’re gonna make me come if you keep doing that.” 

“You’re right,” Harry lets go, widening his eyes a bit to loosen his face, exhaling and biting his lip when another wave of slick practically pours out of Zayn. He brings his hand back down to press both of the fingers into his entrance, and Zayn jumps a little at the intrusion. “Sorry.” Harry stops immediately and rubs at Zayn’s chest with his other hand. “You okay?” 

Zayn nodded, and Harry continued, pressing further further until he reached his knuckles, and then he pulled them out and did it again, completely dazed and lost in that action. He was transfixed on the way Zayn was clenching and moving his legs up and down, bending his knees and spreading his thighs a bit more, eyes closed and mouth wide open every time Harry pushed back in. He then looks a bit downwards back to Zayn’s cock, a pretty little thing that was dripping and looked painfully hard, and Harry is just a man, how could anyone ever expect him to not take it in his mouth? 

Zayn wails, floundering around until deciding it would be better to trap Harry in between his thighs, almost like a vengeance. 

He grabbed fistfuls of Harry’s hair, pulling on it every time Harry twirled his tongue around his head as well as clenching around his fingers, moaning and screaming like he was so angry that he felt this good. 

“I’m going to come,” he warned Harry, who looked up at him like it was obvious. “I’m gonna come, so get in me already.” But all Harry does is close his eyes again, moving his head up and down Zayn’s cock as he adds another finger in Zayn’s hole. “Oh my fucking god, you fucker.” Zayn cursed, throwing his head back and feeling how cold it was from the sweat that had been deposited just moments earlier. The automatic setting of the A.C must be on, of course the fucking A.C is on, as if today couldn’t get perfect enough. 

The second Harry adds a fourth finger, Zayn comes, his orgasm like a heat wave going up his spine and through his neck and back down the front of his body. He nearly chokes Harry out with his thighs, lifting his hips up the bed and moaning repeatedly, his voice getting higher and higher with each one as he rode it out and slowly came back down, releasing Harry’s hair, and hesitantly his head as well. “Fuck,” Zayn already sounds wrecked, and looks it, too. 

His legs are completely spread open, hands were back down to grip the sheets until his knuckles were white, parts of his hair sticking to his brow and lips having become oh so red. He panted like a horse, peeking one eye open to see Harry reaching over at the nightstand. “So you’re really going to assume that’s where I keep the lube?” 

Harry stops, looks at Zayn’s face and smirks like the goddamn stud he is, “Well then, is it under the bed?” Harry pops upside down to check, and surprise surprise, he was right. Harry grabbed it and came back up, now wondering where the condoms could be, and Zayn guesses it too, which is why he speaks again. 

“I want your knot, Hazza.” Zayn squirms a little, running a small hand up and down Harry’s bicep. “Yeah?” The look on Harry’s face is unreal, like he just stumbled on a rock and died and woke up in Heaven, and he basically plops against Zayn to kiss him. 

It feels so good, his lips against Zayn’s. Soft, pillowy, and oddly dominant. 

“You sure?” Harry asks against his mouth, already beginning to lift Zayn’s leg up anyways. Zayn nodded, then squawks a little when Harry presses his leg too far against his chest. 

“I’m not a fucking ballerina, am I?” Zayn slaps at Harry’s chest, “Flexibility typically doesn’t come naturally to people who don’t even bother to exercise, Hazza.” 

Harry deadpans, “Well, you were a ballerina when I was in rut, if I recall correctly.” Zayn goes crimson at that, and slaps at his chest again. Harry giggled playfully, grabbing the bottle of lube and cracking it open, letting some spill onto his fingers and after contemplating about his cock, he spills some directly on that too, giving Zayn the nerve to roll his eyes. 

Then, a really wet hand was rubbing at Zayn’s hole, and Zayn puts his head back onto the pillow, all of a sudden feeling nervous, like he was some kind of a virgin or some shit. He got over it using sheer resolve, but then whined again when the tip of Harry’s cock touched against his entrance. 

Harry, being lovely per usual, stops to check him. “You okay, babe?” He was being such a nice guy about it, and it was making Zayn embarrassed. “Wanna stop?” 

“Fuck no.” Zayn snaps at him, immediately apologizing. “I want it so bad, but I honestly don’t know how the fuck I took that thing in all those other times.” Harry chuckled shyly, like he as being praised, crawling back down and over Zayn to settle him in his arms. 

“Hold onto my back, okay? Tell me if it hurts.” Harry kisses Zayn’s temple, right arm moving down and Zayn acts like he doesn’t know what he’s doing, but then he really feels it, Harry pushing into him. His first instinct is to clench, but Harry expertly reaches back and circles at the base of Zayn’s neck with his thumb, just enough to relax him, so he could continue. 

It didn’t hurt, of course it didn’t, considering Harry was going so slow and biology , no explanation really needed there. It just felt kinda weird, like Zayn was being held into place right where he was by a 9 in x 2 ½ in alien like thing stretching him open. Then Harry shoves the lower third of it in rather quickly, knocking all the air out of Zayn’s lungs. He pants right into Harry’s ear while running his nails all over his back, toes flexing. 

“Well okay then,” Zayn croaked, licking his lips and letting Harry settle in. “ You okay?” 

Harry grits his teeth, “Never done it before without a condom, you’re so fucking tight, babe, sheesh.” Zayn kisses Harry’s neck because just what the fuck is he supposed to reply to that with? You’re welcome? 

Then Harry starts to move, and it’s like being run over again and again by a force that doesn’t really have any clear direction, just riding through his body in increments of pressure and intoxicating rubbing. Also, Harry’s being slow about it, taking his time, rolling his whole torso to press his hips in and pull his cock back out. Zayn stares at him like he’s a motherfucking god, considering he does look like one right now, his abs moving and the veins in his arms popping out as he’s holding Zayn’s hips that tightly. Harry has his tongue slightly sticking out from the side of his lips, and periodically moves to push his hair back with his hands, giving Zayn a clear view of his muscular triceps and veins running down his forearms.

Harry does this for such a long time, and although it feels good, after what must have been at least fifteen minutes of this, Zayn feels like it’s the 16th century and it’s his wedding night, and he’s just basically waiting for his alpha to come and consummate this virginal marriage in the eyes of God. So he stops Harry softly, pushes him whilst maintaining eye contact until he’s fully out of Zayn. Zayn sits up, leans his head back so that Harry kisses him, breathing softly against each other’s faces until Zayn decides to turn around, plopping his weight down onto his elbows and shoving his hips in the air as high as he could, presenting for his alpha like it really was their wedding night or some shit. 

He did a good job, he reckons, when Harry growls and palms Zayn’s cheeks and moves them around, spreading them for a good look at his hole and groaning. Zayn hears the lube bottle being opened again, flinches when the chill of it suddenly hits at his entrance, exhaling with purpose to calm himself down. He wiggled his ass a little, wondering what the reaction might be, and unsurprisingly, the reaction he gets is Harry shoving his cock in as fast as he could back into him. “Ah!” Zayn yelps, but not because it hurts, but because the force makes his knees crumble, but Harry catches his hips and holds them up as he begins to ram into him at a pace that Zayn had no idea he was even capable of. 

“Oh, fuck,” Zayn bunches the sheets in his fists, and this position is surprisingly a whole lot of work, trying so hard to not let his knees crumble from how Harry was hitting places inside him that made them want to crumble. It was so much deeper like this, a lot more intimate, and a particularly hard thrust made Zayn bite down onto the sheets, still producing muffled screaming nevertheless. He lets go when he feels it, the pit of his stomach heating up and his groin beginning to tense, clenching around Harry tightly like he needed to let him know without saying it, but he said it anyways. 

“Harry, I’m gonna come,” he sobbed, and Harry doesn’t necessarily go faster, but just grips Zayn’s sides tightly and slams harder . “Holy fucking shit!” Zayn’s knuckles are white, and he’s so, so close. 

Zayn’s eyes shut tight and his mouth and tongue hang out and open as his orgasm rolls through him in an indescribable way, coming all over the sheets just as his legs give out. Harry’s right behind him, kissing his neck and back, stroking Zayn as he comes down from his high, slumping onto the bed. Harry just kind of turns him around onto his back, pushing it gently all the way in, looking exhausted. “I think I’m gonna--gonna fucking knot you.” 

“Oh my fucking god, yes ,” Zayn nearly laughs, letting out a high pitched grunt when Harry moves closer to hold his hand. “I don’t think I’ve ever been--” 

“Same.” Harry gulps a bit like he’s nervous, but he’s so close he doesn’t care. “You good?” 

“So good.” Zayn reassures him, intertwining his fingers and strategically clamping down every time Harry pushed in, and after a few moments, he could feel it; Harry’s groans were a tell, growing at the base of his cock and catching at Zayn’s rim every time he pushed again. “Augh!” Harry shoves all of himself in, falling on top of him, accompanied by shuddery breaths and Zayn feels the need to comfort him, almost. Harry’s kind of shaking, it’s a new experience for both of them, and Zayn’s so perfect, kissing his face and running his fingers through his hair lovingly, and then he starts to come. 

It’s nothing like wearing a heat and rut condom. There are no comparisons for how it felt, and Harry definitely couldn’t even think, so all he does is nuzzle into Zayn’s neck and bite him, holding onto his neck and whimpering desperately as wave after wave hits him and goes through Zayn. 

Zayn thinks he’s going to come again, like really, he’s being serious. He gasps when Harry bites him, because it hurts, but then remembers that that’s what he did when he was in rut, so he’ll forgive him for that. It’s warmer than he realized, and deeper. He has to close his eyes when Harry presses in harder, grunting at the odd sensation of being filled up , but it felt more right than it did odd. 

Harry’s on top of him for a long time, and when he finally lets go of Zayn’s neck, he’s already murmuring ‘sorrys’ and kissing at the bite mark until it healed over, kissing at Zayn’s jawline as he started to soften. He bends upwards so that he’s no longer on top, just resting on his knees and the shift makes Zayn cry out, so he rubs soft circles on his hips, really trying to ignore how Zayn’s stomach looks...bigger, one might say, as he’s pulling out and clenching his teeth. 

“Hazza,” Zayn sounds wrecked, “Hazza?” He’s almost in tears when Harry lets go of his body to grab a towel. “Harry?” He has no idea why he’s panicking, just that the air is cold and he’s vulnerable and exposed, and he actually does start crying just when Harry comes back into the room with some damp cloth. 

“Babe? What’s wrong, darling?” Harry rushes over, climbing back onto the bed and pulling Zayn to his chest. That was the remedy, the sniffles begin to slow as Zayn wrapped himself around Harry like a koala bear. It seems that Harry has already cleaned himself up, because he only uses the cloth on Zayn, being gentle and lovely because it’s Harry, of course Harry would be so kind, eventually finishing up and throwing it on the floor somewhere. “Should I go turn off the air conditioning?” Zayn protested with an aggressive shake of the head, Harry nodding tentatively. “C’mere, baby. I love you so much.” Harry lays down on his side, facing Zayn and bringing up the duvet from its exile. As he’s flipping and fluffing pillows and flapping the duvet about, Zayn looks down at his stomach, putting a hand over it curiously and all of a sudden feeling much more well versed with his own anatomy. None of Harry’s...none of it was leaking out, like Zayn thought it would. It was almost as if something in his body was just keeping it in, and just the thought of that was so hot. 

He felt claimed, submissive, but in the most powerful way. He eyed Harry from where he was lying on the bed, looking right at his soft cock and feeling triumphant. That was his alpha cock. If anyone tried to get near it, Zayn had the right to gouge out all their teeth with a toothpick. Harry came back to bed, scooching close to Zayn and right before he covered him with the blanket, he placed a hand on the exact same place that Zayn just did a few moments ago, letting his thoughts be known out loud. “Fuck. You look so good like this. You should always look like this.” 

Zayn snorts and swats at him, “Sheesh, fuckin’ alphas.” He’s secretly pleased, though. 


 

Zayn wakes up pretty early, the bedside table’s clock tells him so. He rolled over to find Harry sleeping next to him, looking handsome and warm and peaceful, and when he looked down, his stomach had somehow gone flat again. 

He shifted, so of course Harry shifts, drunkenly stretching his body out, a few cracks could be heard here and there, a low rumbling coming from his chest. He cracks one eye open right at Zayn, and smiles so wide you’d think it was his birthday. “Good morning,” his morning voice was indeed the sexiest fucking thing Zayn’s ever heard in his life. He leans over so that Harry doesn’t have to, softly holding a kiss for at least ten seconds, separating with a cute smack and grin. “Are you going to run away?” 

“This is my place. Are you going to run away?” Zayn knows he’s being serious, so he teases lightly, raking his fingers through Harry’s hair, the large window pouring in sunlight and warmth began to radiate all throughout the room. Zayn turns his head and kind of finds it ironic as if the sun was asking, ‘So how did it go?’ but he turned back, thinking that it was a silly thing to imagine. 

“Never.” Harry’s eyes look really quite green, not quite the color of grass, but also not quite the color of dark emerald either. “God, your eyes look golden, babe.” Zayn laughed at how their thoughts synced up. “I love you.” 

“I love you,” Zayn said it back, just because if he meant it, he should say it. So he said it again. “I love you, Harry.” 

Harry smiles again, this time like it’s Christmas morning, and pulls Zayn down for another long and ardent kiss. 

They are interrupted by a rather rude knocking on the front door, sounding like multiple fists incessantly patting on the door, and so they look at each other knowingly, and then together, lift a shit-eating grin. Zayn slides out of bed, putting on his silk bathrobe and snakes out of the bedroom, going up to the front door and opening it. 

As predicted, Idiots Number One, Two, Three, and Four were there, simultaneously looking Zayn up and down before breaking out into a cheer. 

“Well, we’re coming in.” Louis charged past, taking off his shoes and already beginning to judge the new place. “Wow, it’s actually pretty nice. Pity you won’t be staying here long.” 

“I’m sorry, what?” Zayn’s voice broke, Charlie and Niall already beginning to rampage his kitchen for breakfast ingredients. 

“We’re moving, Zaynie.” Louis looked at him lovingly. “All of us. We’re moving real soon.” 

“Wha--what’s happening?” Zayn deadpanned, looking even more shocked when Liam nodded along. “Wait, Li, you’re serious?” 

“You listen to him and not me?” Louis scoffed, pinching Zayn’s nose. He handed him his phone, open on the new realtor page. “Look, our new pack house.” 

“I’m not following.” 

“We’re leaving our packs, Zayn. It’s been decided already if you made up with Harry and things worked out, we can claim independency. Li and I can get proper married without my asshat of a father trying to ruin it, so can Niall and Charlie, so can you and Haz, if you wanted.” 

“I’m pregnant,” Charlie announces out of the blue, maybe seeing if that would change the sour expression on Zayn’s face, which it did. “And Louis is trying to adopt a 5 year old leukemia patient genius child.” 

“Wow, um.” Zayn wasn’t freaking out as much as everyone thought he would. Louis thought that he’d at least be mad about the whole Harry strategy. “Well, okay. I guess I can just rent this place out, it’s paid off, and I haven’t even finished unpacking.” 

“Oh?” Louis cocked his head to the side, and Liam already knew he was going to provoke it in some way. “You’re cool with it? 

“I guess I am, yeah.” Zayn yawned, looking gorgeous, and scuffled back into the bedroom. 

“The power of being fucked out.” Louis audibly captioned, and Liam snorted. 


 

The next three days are a legal shitstorm. 

(I don’t know how any legal proceedings work, so I will just describe what happens in a time montage so that I can advance the plot with minimal effort) 

Louis and Niall have already concluded their moves on the chess board, having fake robo-assistants call their angry families back: “Sorry, Mr. Tomlinson/Horan unfortunately cannot be reached today, but I will be sure to leave him a message that you fucking called again . Have a wonderful day!” 

“Maura’s days of draining my accounts whenever she pleases are over,” Niall plopped down onto the couch next to Charlie, pulling him in for a sniff and a cuddle. “How are you feeling?” He mouthed on his cheek, pecking his temple. 

Charlie groaned, leaning into Niall’s touch, “Sick. Always.” He sighed, pointing to the plain crackers and sparkling water on Zayn’s coffee table. “Zaynie’s real nice for letting us stay here, huh?” He shut his eyes, feeling nauseous again, so Niall running his hands through his hair was very helpful. 

“Yeah. If it were me and I had a three bedroom condo, I wouldn’t have let them go to a hotel either.” Niall kissed Charlie’s head again when he whimpered slightly, feeling like he was on a rocky boat. “Peanut giving you a rough time?” 

“Actually, it is the size of a poppy seed right now.” Charlie informed, smiling when Niall kissed him. “Much smaller than a peanut.” 

“Oh, whatever.” Niall rolled his eyes, sighing contently in Charlie’s hair. “You smell good all the time. I just wanted to let you know.” 

“Thanks.” 

Harry’s efforts, on the other hand, do not go unnoticed. He hired a lawyer, and of course, Anne was notified, he specifically charged it on her account so that she would. They were at the lawyer’s office, drafting an excerpt on how they were going to tackle her. Suddenly, Harry’s phone vibrates against the desk, the both of them peering slowly at it like it was Godzilla. 

“Speak of the devil,” The lawyer chuckled nervously, motioning for Harry to answer it. They exchanged another look before Harry slid his finger from left to right, pressing the speaker button and setting it back down on the desk. 

“Harry Edward Styles,” The voice rumbled through the office like a call from God. “I just got an interesting call from the bank, care to explain what’s happening?” 

“Hi to you too, mum.” 

“It’s in pounds. You’re in England?” 

“Thanks for coming to my graduation.” 

“Let’s not digress from the focal issue just yet,” Anne didn’t even bother to reply to anything that he said, and he could tell that she was working too, by the pauses in between her sentences and the scratching noise heard through the other end. Probably writing something. “Are you in legal trouble, because I can’t think of any other reason as to why you’d require a lawyer.” She never breathed loudly, so every word felt demonic. 

“Mum, I’m sorry.” Harry slumped his shoulders, realizing that once it all comes out, it’ll be out for good and there’s nothing he could do about it. “But I can’t… I can’t take over the family business, I don’t think I can even come home.” 

“And why is that?” 

Harry looked at his lawyer, who nodded, motioning to the script they had devised moments before she called. “You’re going to get a letter very soon requesting your appearance at court. I’m motioning for a beneficiary grant for the rights to Papa’s trust that he left for me. Not only that, I have already begun to pull all my funds out of most of my accounts.” 

“And why are you doing that?” She didn’t even sound shocked or in the least bit surprised. 

“I am going to marry Zayn, mum. I’m legally removing myself from our family pack.” 

There was a pregnant silence that encapsulated the room, and again, no breathing, no moving, nothing. “A-and you can take me out of everything else, I’m fine with it. You can disgrace me, tell our relatives that I died or some shit, but I’m going to do it even if I lose.” 

“Harry,” Anne’s voice sounded a lot softer, but still at the same volume. There was another pause, and it seemed like she had stopped writing whatever she was writing. “There’s no need for a court hearing. I will sign over your grandfather’s trust to you. But you absolutely cannot proclaim independent status.” 

“I-” Harry felt stupid saying it, but he might as well, “We’re starting a new pack, all of us (as if she knows who) are leaving our families. I wasn’t even supposed to let you know that I was doing this, I was planning on just disappearing for a while, but I couldn’t not tell you, you know? I’m sorry for being a disappointment, you can curse me, you can scream at me, you can give me another lecture about some bullshit reason as to why I shouldn’t be with Zayn.” Suddenly, he didn’t know what else to say. “I love you, mum. Tell dad and Gem I love them too, yeah? I know they’ve been worried.” 

“You’re making a mistake, and I know I haven’t been around enough, but I think you know yourself that this is the most idiotic idea that I have ever heard you come up with.” Anne now sounded like she was about to lose her shit, and it was unclear whether it was to cry or to start screaming at him until he went deaf. 

“I love you.” Harry choked out, ending the call as fast as he could just before breaking down, bending in half with his hands covering the sides of his face, and his lawyer patted his back awkwardly while waiting for him to calm down. A few minutes later, the phone vibrated again, much to Harry’s surprise, because Anne Styles never calls back. You call her back. So he answered, even through the counsellor’s protest. 

“I have tried to be patient, to refrain from telling you the whole truth, I had no idea it would get this far.” His mother seethed, and Harry couldn’t help but wince. “You know why we stay away from that family? You really want to know?” 

Harry didn’t respond, but she went ahead anyways. 

“Because Zayn’s ancestor killed yours. Then things went to fucking shit,” He had never heard his mum curse in his entire life. “For over sixty years, Harry. Our family was disgraced for nearly an entire generation before you were born, and we learned our lesson. That family is cursed.” 

“Mum, I know.” 

“W-what?” Anne stuttered, and that was also the first time he’s heard her do so. 

“I know that I--he died. I’ve done a bit of digging, some might call it. But you know what happened to Zayn’s ancestor, the one that outlived mine? Mum, he was permanently disfigured, couldn’t walk, contracted pneumonia or tuberculosis--either one of them, and he died in excruciating pain. They think we’re cursed. And that’s why it’s bullshit.” 

“Is that what Zayn told you?” She asked meanly, and even Harry’s lawyer had to wince at that. Low blow. 

“No. It’s written and published, mum. And we were so busy trying to move away from them to even notice the things that went wrong, because their lives went to shit too. All I could think about when I found out is how if we had never--” Harry’s voice cracked. “If our families had never abandoned each other, it would’ve saved so much pain, mum. I--I can’t stay in our house and proliferate that kind of narrative about the person I love.” 

Two days ago

“It’s funny, because I actually did end up becoming a writer.” Zayn smiled as Harry spun his finger around his fingers and held him close to his chest. “After the bombing. And it turns out I did have surviving family.” 

“What?” Harry stopped, sitting up on the bed and stared down at him. “Wait, I’m confused.” Zayn pursed his lips, thinking for a second before sliding off of the bed, slinking his way through the stacked moving boxes in the corner of the bedroom. There was some shuffling, a small “Aha!” emitted, and Zayn came back, holding a plastic covered sheet and two linen gloves. 

“Put these on. You have to be careful, okay? I swiped it when I was packing all my things, I figured that it’d be good if I kept a copy, no matter what happened.” Zayn looked a little nervous, watching Harry struggle to slide the petite sized gloves over his long fingers. He popped open the plastic, pulling out a very yellowed and old newspaper, handing it to Harry shyly. “You read that. I’m gonna--I’m gonna go check to see if Charlie wants to get something to eat.” He scampered out. 

Harry sat on that bed for the next twenty minutes, slowly and carefully trying to process each word that was written after he died, and that alone was a crazy thought to try and wrap his head around. He started crying at one point when it described what had happened to Zayn’s body, how he was bedridden and knew he was living on borrowed time, and Harry wiped the tears away before they could even have a chance at falling onto the paper. 

“Of course I believe in fate, Harry. Of course I do.” He whispered out loud, whimpering softly and he had to set it down to cover his face with his hands. “Oh my god, oh my fucking god, it got crazier. It got even more fucked up, oh my fucking god, how was it even possible to top all the other fuckshit that we were put through?” He spoke to himself, muttering and mumbling his jumbled thoughts as an attempt to reorganize them. “Zayn,” he started crying again at the mere sight of his name on the very top of the article, how it was proudly announced and printed in a way that Harry could only find as the bravest thing anyone could ever do. Zayn addressed a sea of people who demanded an answer, and he appeased them without a single trace of fear of drowning in the waves. 

“Haz?” Zayn popped his head back into the room. “Oh fuck.” He ran over, grabbing Harry’s face. “Shit, babe, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you cry.” 

“I love you so much,” Harry pulled his waist in, burying his head in his neck and crying a bit more. “Seriously, you’re my hero.” 

Zayn’s ears went red, “I-I wouldn’t say that, you were the hero back then.” He rubbed at Harry’s back and kissed his shoulder. “When I read this for the first time, that’s when I remembered. And the first thing that I dreamed about was the way you looked at me when we were on--on that floor. Then I had the dream again, and again, even when I wasn’t asleep. I kept on finding more mistakes on went wrong, what I didn’t do, because it was my fault, Harry. I shouldn’t have--” 

“Darling, please.” Harry shook his head. “No, no. Just stop, okay? The past shouldn’t eat us up anymore. There was a pause. “You know, sometimes I still think about it. The story you told me about the fisherman and the siren and his wife. It’ll come out of nowhere, like I‘ll see a picture of a fish while walking past a fish and chips shop and I remember it. I’ve decided that I don’t like that story.” 

“Yeah?” Zayn kissed his shoulder again. 

“There’s no fucking lesson, right? What is it we’re supposed to learn from that story? What was the point?” 

It was true, it was indeed a very meaningless story without a climax or a resolution or even a theme of warning. Then it clicked. “Maybe--maybe it’s only half of the story. I don’t think Mr. Selley ever told me the rest of it?” Zayn pulled back, and Harry blinked at him. Today his eyes looked like lake water, mostly green with a slight shade of blue, shimmering and piercing. “I guess it’s up to us to decide what happens with the rest of the story.” 

“I guess so.” Harry smiled at him, and Zayn’s heart skipped a million beats. “That makes me really happy for some reason.” He blinked again, distracting Zayn from the words he was saying. Harry had two oceans in both of his eyes, he figured. 

“How are you mine?” Zayn whispered in pure disbelief, how has no one else fallen for Harry as deep as Zayn has? “Fuck. You’re everything, Haz. Like genuinely everything. Wherever I am, as long as it’s with you, it’s home. Whatever shit I pull, it doesn’t matter just as long as you’re next to me, and if you really about it, dying wasn’t even all that bad because I had you.” 

“I think you should marry me then,” Harry asked him, he looked so hopelessly in love, which meant Zayn must look the same way. “Wanna marry me?” 

“Did you even have to ask?” Zayn scoffed, kissing him firmly whilst holding Harry’s chin, going up on his tiptoes to reach because Harry was still sitting on the bed, and they stayed like that for a very, very long time. 

They walked out like idiots, announcing it to the rest of the group, who laughed at them but still smiled fondly like fathers watching their children walk for the first time. All of them were floating, high in the air with love, the smell of Zayn’s laundry detergent, the air freshener, the heated floors, and the warm lamplight ingrained into Harry’s senses until he couldn’t care about anything else in the world. 

When everyone was asleep, he stayed up all night, reading anthologies that Zayn had published before his death (with Safaa’s help he had managed to smuggle some of them out), shed a few more tears, and in the process, shed most of who he used to be. 

He thought to himself that maybe he shouldn’t be holding onto too much of that previous life. It was finally time to stop refusing the gifts the universe was offering to him, and let fate determine the happiness that was to come. 

Chapter Text

“Harry, is there nothing that I can do to convince you not to do this?” 

The lawyer shook his head at him, and he mirrored that response, “I’m sorry, mum.” 

“I’m sorry for not going to your graduation.” 

“This is really not about you—“ 

“And for all the times that I should have been there.” Anne interjected, completely ignoring what Harry was going to say about her being a narcissist. “Perhaps this is all my fault. But I always thought we’d meet in the middle somewhere.” 

Harry looked down, twiddled with his thumbs. “You can’t expect someone to just meet you wherever you want them to go. Thank you for making me rich, mum. Thanks for teaching me to never show my weaknesses, to put my best self out there, to be self reliant, question everything.” He paused before continuing, “Even you.” 

“I’ll email you the documents now. I want you to know that there has never been a single second where I wasn’t proud of you. I would do anything to keep you safe if I could.” 

“I know.” Harry whispered, and then hung up, because there really was no point in going further. He kind of felt like an asshole, he had just blown off his mother out of nowhere and completely disappeared from his father and sister. For a split second, he wondered if he was even doing the right thing. But then he closed his eyes and imagined Zayn in that forest, the sunlight hitting him just right, and when he smiled, the whole world faded out. 

“I will contact you again once she sends over all the forms.” The lawyer stood up, brushing off his hand on his pants before moving to shake Harry’s hand. “You’ve got balls, kid.” 

“Thanks.” Harry left the office, clicked on the elevator button, got into his car, and just before turning on the engine, he took a moment to slam his head right down on the wheel and sob for just a minute. 


 

“What does it feel like?” 

“Hm?” Charlie asked back, looking over at Louis. They were standing next to each other on the balcony overlooking the view of the city, sipping at their smoothies as if they were whiskies. “What does what feel like?” 

“Being pregnant.” Louis downed the last of the strawberry kiwi atrocity, cringing at how it made his mouth all sour and tight. “Jesus, the fuck did Liam put in this?” 

Charlie’s breath stopped for a second, immediately feeling bad for no reason. “Oh. Well, I mean, I don’t really know how to explain it.” 

Louis looked over at him with his wide blue eyes, the tops of his cheekbones glimmering in the sunlight. “Could you try? For me?” 

Charlie smiled small at him, walking back inside together to put away the glasses. “I guess it just feels like I have to be on top of my shit all the time.” Louis laughed at that. “Like it’s not just me anymore, so I can’t just have this ‘fuck it if I die’ kind of attitude, you feel?” 

Louis nodded, biting his lower lip. “I feel.” 

“Like yea, sure. The baby. But also it’s Niall, Zayn, you, Liam, Harry, for some reason I feel all tied to you guys. I don’t even know if it’s a good thing.” Charlie let Louis cuddle him up on the couch, softly running his fingers through his curls. 

“Why wouldn’t it be a good thing?” asked Louis, who seemed mesmerized by just how beautiful Charlie was. 

“Because what if I’m gone?” 

“Hm?” 

“B--but maybe that’s not a bad thing either, knowing there are folks that’d miss you. That need you around, you know?” 

“The fuck are you talking about,” Louis sighed, shifting them a little, “being gone or some shit?” 

Charlie looked at Louis with a faltering smile. 

“Lou, I don’t think you looked deep enough into me. There’s something I haven’t told Niall, and I’ve--I’ve been meaning too, but everything got so tangled. But maybe I can tell you. I feel like you’d understand, because we both know what it’s like to want to make sure the guy we love is taken care of no matter what happens to us.” 


 

(Intermission: Chartreuse Beau Axton) 

My name isn’t my name. Never was, never will be. Who the fuck names their kid after a color? Even mainstream names like Violet are terrible. I hate names that have so little fucking meaning to the person that has to drag it around. So I make it clear, please call me Charlie. 

I don’t really remember my mom’s face, all I remember is growing up in my dad’s pack as his “nephew,” but all of those posh British fucks could smell the bastard on me, and so could Hunter. Perfect Hunter with the strong name and the full green eyes, milky toned asshole with nice hips and a trust fund. But me? I’m the fucking shade of vomit green standing behind him. The freak with the messed up irises, the skin color of a dirty mutt, the son of a homewrecker, a skinny freeloader. 

You’d think that since my dad had so much money, I probably had a room and never went hungry, but that’s not true. I usually slept in whichever room was available, sometimes in a closet, sometimes on Hunter’s bedroom floor if he was feeling nice. Hunter’s mom hated me, which is perfectly understandable. She’s a perfectly respectable woman with perfectly reasonable reactions, of course I could not have the key to her heart. I wasn’t even supposed to be born. I’m not mad at her one bit, since because of her, I learned how to feed myself and make a bed so spotless you could bounce a quarter on it. Think Hunter can do that? I think the fuck not. 

Things got bad once I presented, because now I had the constant harassment from the older “uncles” in the pack on Hunter’s mom’s side, going after my ass like the entitled pedophiles they all were. But perhaps I could say that it made me quick witted. 

After attempting suicide for the first time, I ran away from home the second I woke up and realized I survived. Everything I had was in one backpack, and after staying nights on a park bench for a while, that’s when I met Noah. 

He was sixteen, his third year on the streets, tall, skinny, too good looking for his own damn good. It happened when someone tried to take my backpack from me while I was sleeping, he punched them square in the face and handed it back to me, and although it was dark and the last lamplight was beginning to flicker away, he looked me dead in the eyes and told me I was unlike anyone he’d ever met. “Like a freak show?” I asked him, and he shook his head, they always shake their heads like that. He told me it was a dangerous game, being a hundred pound omega living by himself on the streets, and that if I wanted, I could go with him. 

Maybe I should’ve never gone with him, you know? Just the way I’m describing it already reminds me of how stupid it was from an objective perspective. But even if I turned back time and had a second choice, I think I still would’ve grabbed his hand, let him buy me dinner, feed me, and fuck me at his apartment. 

Because he said “Nah, not a freak. Just all shiny in the light like that, couldn’t resist.” 

Isn’t that pathetic? It’s not even like he told me I was beautiful or that I was worth more than the sum of my broken parts. All it took was to tell me that I wasn’t a freak, and I let him have his way. I lived with him for four years, dealing and snorting cocaine together, so if I’m being honest I don’t really remember most of it. It wasn’t an exclusive thing, I think I had more sex in those two years than I have since I started college. I finally left the day that Noah drank a little too much and gave me a black eye for what inarguably was the third time. The minute I turned eighteen I dealt weed and got myself a phone, signed myself up for a sugar daddy website. 

I met a sugar daddy, sure. The first thing he said to me was that I looked exotic, that he liked my eyes. So I fed him exactly what he wanted, the exotic version of me, the sensual young boy toy that has nothing to lose and nothing to gain. After five months of that I attempted suicide again, but after not succeeding once more, I contacted him to see if he’d let me come to him in America. 

He had an omega and two kids, but I didn’t care. I demanded a flight to Los Angeles, an apartment, a spot at the university I’d always dreamed of going to. He was the executive dean there, so all of this was an easy flick of a finger, every demand like one more blink of the lamplight on that first night, where I decided I could be as easily bought as I could adapt.

I chose nursing because I wanted to remind myself that I needed other people just as they’d need me, because up until that point I had never been needed in my entire life, and could feel how that human part of me was starting to dim. I met with my daddy twice a week, over dinner, at 3 in the morning, over coffee and a quick peck. He liked to talk to me more than he liked to fuck, and when we did, always told me to keep my eyes open so he could look into them as he knotted me then transferred money into my account the next day. 

Who was I to all of these people? Probably nothing, maybe a small blip. A blink of an eye, a face to forget and replace. My relationships with people suddenly all had the dynamic that it was temporary and that I was just a step on the ladder before they reached who they were truly meant to be. I accepted that I was never going to be the guy whose love interest would climb the fire escape in the rain and profess their love for me with roses in their hands, have a long, ardent kiss as the camera pans out and fades to black. I had never told anyone in my entire life, not even my father, that I loved them, just like how no one had ever said it to me. College was one big acid trip, kept adding warm bodies to my list, the amount of shots I could handle, the lives I could help save. Maybe all I really wanted was that rush of human connection, the thrill of skin on skin and knowing someone really, really needed you. 

So that day at Montgomery’s party, I showed up like it was just another Saturday, began my drinking, my snorting, letting the first fit alpha I saw run their hands all over my body. Under the strobe lights and past all the students, I could see the outline of a figure that felt so familiar, as though I was witnessing a ghost of my past slither through the wave of people, a man so fit and recognizable I physically willed my high away. 

Of course I recognized Niall Horan, any British brat knew of that family. Rich, good looking, and moved the ship to America with the Styles pack, branching out their collaborative empires to the Western Hemisphere. I heard he went to my school, but had never actually seen him until that very night. So I put down my drink and tousled my hair a bit, the alpha behind me swooned, got hard and pressed his dick up my ass. But just as I was about to swat him away and start walking towards that new, fresh body, I realized I didn’t need to. 

“Hey, you and your small dick can fuck off now.” Niall had walked over to me, threw the guy’s hands off of my shoulders and looked me right in the eyes. “You’re Charlie, right? I sit behind you in your lab.” 

He knew me? “I’ve never seen you before.” I let him pick me up from the ditch I dug into the guy’s lap, genuinely gasping when he held me into place with an arm around my waist. 

“You’re barely there,” He laughed at me, leading me away with that warm and large hand pressing against the small of my back. I already knew he was just going to be one of those ‘hit it and quit’ kind of experiences, so I leaned into his touch just a little bit. I assumed he was probably lying about the whole lab thing too, because if I had spotted this guy earlier, we would’ve fucked ages ago. “And I barely show up too. So every time we do align our appearances, I’ve always noticed you. You’re fit as fuck, you know?” 

I didn’t know. “Yeah, perhaps I’ve heard that a few times.” He ordered me a drink, the exact drink that I had been drinking before, and even though I didn’t want to, I instantly made note of how he attentive this guy was. Not only that, he smelled of spearmint, oranges, coconuts, some variant of a masculine Gucci scent, and I couldn’t help but get wet at that either. He was already nosing the back of my neck like he knew what he wanted, and for the first time ever, I had no idea what I wanted back. 

He of course just tucked me away into another little corner and held my waist in place, planting his lips on my neck like I was his last meal. He was good at it, I can remember that. But then we drank and snorted some more, so the rest after this is fuzzy. It got so heated I thought he was going to fuck me into the wall right then and there, but he didn’t, just paused every once in a while, nudged my face with his, traced down the line of my back and made sure I knew how much he loved my thighs. 

No matter how fucked up I am, I never let myself get carried away to some random guy’s house. But here I was, practically trying to melt into a man I just met, being swept away into a strange car and cuddling with same man in his apartment, and I swear to God, I had never felt so safe in my life that I slept like a rock, which hasn’t happened since I left the womb. 

I woke up around 3 AM with my body clock, because I realized that not only was my phone on 5%, but also that I was supposed to meet with daddy that night. Let him tie me up and fuck me, get a Louis Vuitton suitcase tomorrow. I stood him up and rode Niall instead. 

It’s strange, how all the inexplicable decisions you’ve made in your life end up eating at you at what could’ve been, and perhaps what should’ve been. I’ve witnessed many men fall in love with me, and I’ve always let them do it because