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A Light in the Dark

Chapter Text

A young woman from around 17 years old had mascara stains on her cheek as she stumbled through the dark streets of Mullingar. She held an almost empty basket with just bought baby food and clothes in one hand. A crying newborn in the other.

The girl moved to the outskirts of town, as far away from her house as her tired legs could carry her.
Still crying silently, she tried to shush her baby and looked to see if anyone was around. Seeing they were alone, she sat down on her knees at the corner of a street and placed the bag on the pavement. The baby stopped crying then, and focused his barely opening eyes on those of his mother looking at him.

"I'm so sorry." The girl breathed out, her voice shaking. Tears fell down on the baby's face and he blinked.

"I can't take care of you. No one can know." She whispered desperately as she sat on her knees, next to the basket with her back towards the street. She held her baby in front of her. "I was stupid. And the b-" she choked on her tears and put her hand on her mouth to prevent herself from letting out another cry and maybe waking up one of the people living nearby.

"The best thing that I can do for you -that you deserve- is let you go." She placed a shaking kiss on his forehead, which was exposed just enough by the blanket wrapped around him, and carefully laid the baby in the basket. As soon as the child lost his mothers' touch, he started sniffing again and reached towards her, hoping she'd hold him again.

She felt even more broken at the sight and remained close for a moment longer. So soft it was almost a whisper, she hummed out a song.

"I know you'll be alright, child.

Just close your eyes, and see,

I'll be by your side-" The girl gently tapped his little heart. "any time you're needing me..."

For twenty minutes, the girl looked at her little boy. She wished things were different. She wished she could take him home, wished she could keep him. But most importantly, she wished the child would have a better life.

"I'll never forget you."

And with tear filled eyes, the girl left her baby all alone.

Chapter Text

The streets were poorly lit and abandoned. It was snowing lightly. No one was able to hear the painful cries of a newborn baby.

The child, whose laughter would one day light up the world, lay dying from the cold, wrapped in not enough blankets to keep his fragile little body warm.

The winter was hard on everyone on the streets. The child had been left there just three hours ago, but there were stray animals dying on a daily bases from the lack of food and below zero temperatures at night.

One of those animals was a black cat with clear brown eyes, living on the streets pretty much his whole life. A collar that said 'Zayn' the only thing keeping people thinking he had a home somewhere.

The cat was intrigued by the cries of the human and sought it out. When he walked around the corner, he must've seen the child in the basket, and approached him, seeing no other kitten or mother around him. The cat knew then, that this youngster was dying from the cold, because a kitten would die too. As the baby kept crying, the cat didn't go away. Instead, he got closer and closer, eventually with his front paws on the basket and into the child's line of vision. The child, in return, slowly stopped crying again and opened his wide eyes to look at the cat.

The animal sniffed, and shocked away one second, not expecting the sudden movements coming from the child, who in turn, got scared by the cat.

It was as though parental instinct had rushed over the cat. After he had lived alone on the streets for so long, he now had a human kitten to take care of. At least until its mother came back. He curled himself around the little one, shielding him from the cold and his soft fur serving as an extra blanket.

It kept both of them alive and safe through the night, the cat sometimes having to scare the crows away that came too close to the baby, or perhaps the baby food next to them.

 

The cat woke up again when the sun had set and the day had started. Soft echoes of chatters were heard from a few streets away, and the cat got out of the basket. He went out into the alley and meowed at people passing, hoping for one to notice him.

Eventually, a kind-looking woman bowed down to the cat and offered him some food, assuming he was hungry. The cat, however, ran away from the lady, stopping a few meters further and looking back. He was making sure she would follow him. The woman looked confused, but after a minute, she started following the cat, who led her through the alley and to the child.

"Oh Jesus." Was all the woman muttered when he saw the baby. She instantly saw he was abandoned, and the cat was still meowing loudly when she got there.
Falling to her knees next to the basket, she took out her phone and looked for the kid's pulse. His skin was cold.

"Yes? I need an ambulance. I found a baby on streets, I-" She looked looked at the cat. "I think someone left it here overnight."

Another voice sounded faintly through the phone. The woman tilted her head in thought.

"About, maybe a few hours old? Extremely undercooled."

"No. No one. No parents or any humans whatsoever. Only a cat."

A pause.

"Yes. He's alive."

Chapter Text

 

Harry Styles took his cherished last sip of his coffee as he made his way to the bureau. Throwing away the paper cup at the door, he pushed the door open to be greeted by none other than Josh Devine. The slightly smaller man hurried towards him and Harry found it difficult to read his face, in which he was usually quite good. 

"Harry.”

"Good morning to you too, Josh." Yeah. He'd been around Louis long enough to develop a bit of sarcasm for himself.

 Josh handed him some files. "Listen, there's a kid-"

 "There's always a kid, Josh, that's why we're all here." Okay, enough sarcasm for today. The other man simply rolled his eyes. 

 "Interesting story really, rather sad. Originally from Ireland, about a year old, and we're possibly risking our lives by keeping him here."

Harry blinked. "Why is that?" 

"The last family he was staying. Irish fellas, them. Really rich too. They were horrible to the kid, abused verbally and physically."

Harry sighed. This happened way too often. 

Josh continued, pointing at the files. Harry read along as Josh spoke. He noticed a photograph clipped to the file, a woman on it looking into the camera with a blank but scary expression. It was a jail shot. "The Irish child services took him outta there but especially the Mrs. went mad. Threatened to stop at nothing to get the kid back. For that and the abuse, she got jail time but she apologized for the threads. People believed her and her family paid a shit ton of bail money, and then she was free again.  

After that, the kid was at the Irish agency and nearly got kidnapped not even two weeks later."

"It was the woman." 

"Well, everyone kind of knew that. It was obvious. But, unfortunately, no one could prove anything, and of course the woman denied. The kidnapper didn't get away but he wouldn't confess. He's obviously been paid to stay silent. So, the kid got moved, and all records with him. All so she couldn't trace him."

Harry was silent for a bit after Josh finished talking, processing the information. They didn't often get these kind of kids, and when they did, Harry always felt bad. The children were too young for this, still so innocent and influenceable. He noticed another thing while he looked at the papers.  

"What's his name?" He asked, flipping through the pages. Josh finally looked away from the files and at the ground. "Josh?"

"He doesn't have one. Never got one in the first place."

"Original parents?"

"We don't know. He was left on the street in a basket after birth with some food. The person leaving him there obviously didn't think it through. They left him on an abandoned corner in the freezing cold of the night."

"How the heck did he survive?” 

Josh smiled. "Here comes the interesting part." He looked at Harry, who frowned.  

"The kid was left there all night, but the next morning a woman claimed to be drinking a pint when a cat came to her."

Harry looked at him in disbelief.  

"It's true! We have security tapes from the bar she was drinking, camera evidences that a cat -in fact- came to passerby's, and meowed until he got the attention of one. She followed the cat and found the baby still alive. Then called an ambulance. It was impossible for the baby to survive long enough, so the most logical reason is that the cat protected the baby through the night, fur holding the kid warm." 

"Wow." Harry managed after a while. 

"I know right. And when the ambulance arrived, the cat ran behind, trying to catch up. The ambulance stopped to let him in. It's the sweetest thing, almost like-" 

"The cat thought the baby was his." Harry finished. "Where is he now? The cat, I mean."

"After the kid got adopted by the rich assholes, the cat was nowhere to be seen again. At least not that we know of. We wanted to get it to a shelter, adopted, but he was gone again before we knew it. Like the kid's protecter."

"I need a cup of tea."

"Harry, the problem is the kid. How are we ever going to find a couple willing to adopt him?" 

Harry hesitated exactly one second before looking at Josh again, this time with a smile.

"I know exactly who to call."

Chapter Text

 

The call happened when Louis and Liam were watching tv, cuddled up and eating McDonald's. The ring startled them and Louis grunted at the interruption of their favourite show. Liam chuckled at his husband's response. He'd stand up for him, but since Louis was laying on his chest, he couldn't really move. 

Louis continued grunting as he walked to the still ringing phone and looked back at Liam while he picked it up. 

"Hello?"

"Hi Louis, how are you?"

"Harry? You make me walk all the way to the phone? You live next door, why not just come in?"

"I would, but I'm at the office. Lou, I might have good news."

 

Louis froze. He knew where Harry worked, so he knew what this was about. 

He and Liam were no strangers to the adoption agency. They'd tried many times. The way this agency worked, was, they'd have a kid, and usually about four couples applied to the child. Then, the agency would choose two couples that would fit well with the child and invite them both to the office to meet the child. Finally, they'd watch with whom the kid had the best bond with. Usually the child had a clear favourite. It had caused tremendous pain for Liam and Louis to see a kid choose another couple time after time. To be honest, Louis had almost given up completely on having a child. He still wanted it more than anything in the world, but by now it just seemed too good to be true. That didn't mean he didn't still feel the rush everytime they had the smallest chance at adopting. 

 

"Louis?"

"Y-yeah I'm still here."

"You okay?"

"Tell me, Haz. Boy or girl?" Not that they cared, but Louis didn't really know what to say at the moment. 

Liam's head shot up, and he was up and at his husband's side within a second, not without pausing Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which they'd been watching. Louis put the phone on speaker so Liam could listen too. 

"It's a boy," Harry continued. "He's 17 months old, the big milestones yet to be achieved. Wild crawler, he is. Irish, but," he paused. 

"What is it, Haz?" Liam asked and Harry didn't seem surprised he was listening. 

"He was found on the street at birth, abandoned. Then after his time in the hospital, he was placed into a family who... didn't treat him right. We took him away from there, and out of Ireland because of the threats, but now-"

"Threats?" It wasn't so much a question, but Louis wasn't messing around. This was all a lot of information. Usually, there wasn't this much History in the life of someone so young.

When Harry didn't respond, Liam asked again.

"Harry?"

"The last family have threatened they will stop at nothing ‘till they have the kid back. It's a very complicated story which I'll tell you guys in detail if you want, to be honest I don't know how he got placed there in the first place. All you need to know, is that there were threats made, that's why we moved him to this country. No big language changes but far away from that hell house. 

Because of those threats, no one really wanted the kid, and you're kind of the last shot. There's only one other couple supposedly coming in tomorrow. So, you're free to come too.. You know the agency has already approved of you guys, so the only thing you need to decide on is if those threads bother you..."

 

Louis looked at his husband with wide eyes, and the two didn't need to exchange words to agree on this. They'd wanted this for so, so long. Nothing could stand in the way now. Whatever it was, they'd face it. Together. 

 

"Count us in."