Your job doesn’t define you.
It’s something Harry had to tell himself every single day when he left for work. His job does not define him. It’s something that he did for a living, so he could pay rent and buy groceries. Did he like his job? Most definitely not. Hunting down famous people to take pictures of them doing basically nothing wasn’t his idea of the perfect career. Spending his day with a camera in his hand was though, and as a photographer he didn’t really have a choice. He really tried to find work which allowed him to pay his bills and involved photography, but he couldn’t find one. London was flooded with young, passionate and hopeful photographers like Harry, and they were all looking for jobs. After a few months of frantically trying to find work, he gave up and applied for a job as paparazzi. He spent his days roaming around in England’s capital, looking for famous people. He always tried to be respectful towards the celebrities, which was often appreciated. Still, he was a paparazzi, whose goal was to get pictures which were preferably as scandalous as possible. Most of the time, celebrities lived a private life and getting that one scandalous picture that his bosses desperately wanted proved to be difficult. Harry’s photos consisted mainly of celebrities walking down the street, and every now and then he shot a picture of a celebrity holding hands with a new lover, if he was lucky.
Today wasn’t one of those days. Harry was feeling really bored today, and all he wanted to do was play around with his new camera. He had saved up for months to be finally able to afford buying it and today was the first day he actually used it. It felt like a dream, finally being the owner of a somewhat high end camera. So far, he had borrowed a camera from his best friend and colleague Niall, who had been part of the business for a bit longer. When he was 18, Harry got his own camera for his birthday. It was an old model, but his family couldn’t afford to buy a better and newer one. Harry used the camera almost every day, until he became a paparazzi and had to work with a better quality camera. Still not being able to afford to buy one himself, Harry was glad that Niall offered him one of his. “You can use these, and in the meantime save up for your own,” Niall had said to him. It was pretty unusual for paparazzo to support each other, but Niall and Harry had been friends since college, and Niall refused to let Harry quit his job due to the fact that he didn’t have money for a better camera. After months of desperately saving up all his money, Harry was finally able to buy his own camera. And today was the first day he could actually put it to use. Luckily, it was a Friday, meaning that he had the day off tomorrow so he could finally focus on photographing things he actually enjoyed, instead of spending his day stalking celebrities.
Harry sighed and tried to motivate himself. Just a couple of hours and he would be done for the day. He walked through the streets of Kensington, trying to resist the urge to stop and take some pictures of the old Victorian houses while they were surrounded by autumn trees. It was a well known fact that a lot of celebrities owned posh properties in Kensington, among them numerous models, reality stars, football players..
And Louis Tomlinson.
When Louis woke up, it was dark outside. He had a stiff neck and his head was still pounding. “How long till we arrive?” he asked his driver with a raspy voice.
“Just a couple of minutes, sir. Ten, at most.”
Louis shut his eyes and tried to fight back a groan. He had a massive jetlag and above all, a nasty hangover. It had been months since he felt this miserable and all he wanted to do was fall face forward on his bed and just sleep for days. He missed the familiarity of home and the sense of safety and acceptance that it had. His house was a place where he could be himself, without anyone trying to tell him otherwise. The first halve of his tour had been really fun. The fans were amazing as always, shouting back the lyrics from his songs and the support had been really great. But Louis was so tired from traveling throughout the US, and he desperately wanted to go home. His friends, Liam and Zayn, had coaxed him into celebrating a successful first leg of the tour, and the drinks and lack of sleep started catching up on him.
He stared outside and watched the houses of Kensington pass him by, slowly but surely recognizing the buildings, and soon they arrived at his destination. A little breath of relief escaped his lips when the car came to a halt, and his driver opened the door for him.
“Thank you,” Louis said while he yawned. “I appreciate it.”
“No problem at all, sir,” his drive sat, tapping his hat. “Any time. Can I help you with anything, sir?”
“Nah, it’s okay. I’ll manage. Enjoy your weekend!” Louis said with a tired smile, fumbling in his bag to find his keys.
The driver thanked him, and slowly the car made its way out of the street. It was then, that Louis spotted him. Leaning against a wall, there was a guy with a camera pointed towards him.
“For fucks sake,” Louis groaned while he immediately turned around and quickly walked up the steps to his house, trying to escape from the paparazzi. It was too late. He heard footsteps behind him, and soon enough a voice: “Louis-“
Louis pressed his lips together and tried not to snap. “I don’t have time for this now,” he growled, while he desperately tried to find his keys.
“I only wanted-“
“You want what? A picture?” Louis turned around angrily, glaring at the young man in front of him. “I literally said that I don’t have time for your bullshit, okay? I’ve had a long fucking day and I want to sleep, alright?”
The man lifted his camera, and it was at that moment that Louis did what he was taught to never ever do. In a reflex he pushed away the camera, causing it to slip out of the man’s hand and fall down the stairs. The man gasped and immediately ran after it, carefully picked it up and inspected it. Louis noticed that his hands were shaking while he started fumbling with the buttons. Instant regret washed over Louis when he saw the distress and hurt in the man’s eyes.
“Shit, I didn’t mean to do that,” he stammered, trying to find an excuse. “I- fuck.”
“It’s okay,” the man said quietly, but Louis knew that he didn’t mean it by the way his eyes filled with tears.
Harry stared at his camera, his new camera. The one he had spent months saving up for. It was all gone. The lens was cracked, and so was the little screen. And to make it all worse, none of the buttons responded when Harry pushed on them. His hands shook a little when he put the camera in its case. He couldn’t really blame Louis for pushing the camera away from him, but Harry never intended to take a picture of the singer. The second Louis stepped out of the car, Harry knew that something was wrong and his gut told him not to take any pictures of the man.
“It’s not,” Louis frowned. “I shouldn’t have done that. You were only doing your job.”
Harry looked up at him, for the first time that night. “I wasn’t trying to take a picture of you. You dropped your keys and I wanted to give them to you. Here,” he showed the bundle of keys. “they’re yours.”
Louis stupidly grabbed the keys, while he looked at the seemingly younger man in front of him. “I’m such a dick,” he softly said. “Look, I’ll get you a new one, okay?”
“It’s fine,” the man’s green eyes shifted to the ground. He nervously pulled at a loose curl that was hanging in front of his face. “I shouldn’t have disrespected your privacy.”
“Isn’t that your job, though?” Louis huffed, but he immediately wanted to take back his words when he saw the way he flinched in response.
“I.. I gotta go,” the younger man stammered. “I’m really sorry if I bothered you. Have a good night.”
And before Louis could respond the green eyed paparazzi disappeared in the darkness of Kensington, leaving Louis with a feeling of confusion, but mostly the feeling of guilt.