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faith, trust and pixie dust (and a little bit of something else too)

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faith, trust and pixie dust (and a little bit of something else too)

 

“Peter Pan! Get back here you little scoundrel! I will end you this time I swear it!”

 

The cavern’s walls shake as Captain Hook’s frustrated shout reverberates across the hollow expanse. As per usual, Louis simply giggles, flying past boulders of rocks and skimming over the clear, reflexive liquid beneath him.

 

This is his favourite thing to do—tormenting Hook, that is. The old pirate is just so easy to rile up and—even after having grown up a few years during his stay in the real world—Louis loves the attention. He may no longer be the skinny, pale twelve-year-old he was when he first arrived in Neverland centuries ago, but his spirit still remained the same—troublesome and mischievous. Appearance wise, he’s still got his red hair and blue eyes. However, his arms are now littered with tattoos and his bottom lip is pierced, his body filled out and taller—though he’s still not as tall as he wished he was.

 

All of these changes served as reminders of a world he once traded with this one, all for a boy who ended up leaving him after two years of commitment and sacrifice.

 

Louis had done a lot of growing up during his time away though so he doesn’t regret it, not really. Even though it hurt, being lured and lied to, Louis is glad he’d gotten the chance to explore the world a bit, educate himself and learn more about who he is.

 

He isn’t a child anymore per say, but he certainly isn’t an adult either. Louis still loves to play and joke around and have fun. He still knew how to push Hook’s buttons and charm the mermaids at the Lagoon and save the day. He just knew more about how things worked in reality, understood more things about his body and mind. It was something he was bound to do at one point in his never-ending life, and Louis is glad he’d gotten it over with.

 

“Sure thing Hook! But you said that last time and look at us now! I’m still one step ahead of you,” Louis grins maliciously, not looking back as he bites at his mortal enemy. He’s missed this, he really has. It’s been a week since he came back but Louis isn’t tired. He was still making up for six years’ worth of absence. “Face it Hook! That will always be the case!”

 

“Argh! Smee!”

 

Trying to sustain his giggles, Louis dashes forward, heading for an opening ahead of him to execute his finale. Since it was always a bore to humiliate the failed Captain without an audience being there to witness it, the other lads were on the other side of the cavern, waiting for him.

 

Out of all of the boys, Niall, Liam and Zayn were the only Lost Boys to return with him. The others had fallen in love with the world of technology and advancements, and Louis had too, but in the end, his heart had won out and he had returned to Neverland, his true home.

 

Besides, Louis thinks to himself, annoying Hook is much better than any video game I’ve ever

 

Louis’ so lost in his head—so lost in the thrill of his current situation—that he doesn’t hear the gunshot until it’s too late.

 

He feels it when it hits him though, the force of the blow causing him to lose momentum and balance as pain spreads through his shoulder like ink does when it soaks into paper, and before he knows it, he’s plunging head first towards the water below him.

 

Louis’ pained yelp gets muffled as his head breaches the surface of the water. The unexpected cold sting of the liquid around him causes him to inhale sharply and—shit; he’s choking now, lungs brimming with liquid and he kicks and kicks until his head submerges back into the open and he’s coughing up the murky, mossy water back into the Boggy Bay. Louis can hear flashes of Hook’s gleeful cackle of disbelief as his head emerges for a few seconds, only for him to sink back down.

 

Louis can’t believe this. In all his years of living in Neverland, he’d never fallen victim to Hook’s gun. He doesn’t understand how he could have been so stupid as to miss or forget about the pirate’s asset. Maybe Louis lost his touch when he grew up a bit but he refuses to go out like this.

 

Peter Pan never lost to a charade, and he never will.

 

So Louis kicks his legs again, his shoulder flaring and it hurts, of course it does, but he won’t give up. He just needs to grab hold of something: a boulder, a log, anything to stabilize himself and whistle for help.

 

Not for the first time, he wishes Tink was here with him, but she’d returned to Pixie Hollow quite a long time ago. Louis misses her dearly everyday but it’s times like these when he needs her most. If she were here, she would’ve gotten the boys by now or warned him or something.

 

Quite simply, Tink was Louis’ saviour in the time he had known her and Louis still doesn’t understand why she stayed by his side as long as she had. He wonders what she would think of him if she were to see him right now, on the brink of his death. It wasn’t that the water here was particularly deep but it was deep enough for Louis to drown in if he were to give up.

 

“Oh would you look at that Smee.”

 

Louis looks up, treading as best as he can as he searches for something to grab onto, only to find Hook on top of a huge boulder that’s much too smooth to be of any use to him. Hook’s sidekick—Smee—is fidgeting nervously beside him, eyeing the dirty water with unease.

 

“The mighty Peter Pan, defeated at his own game.”

 

Louis can feel the anger that’s gotten him into a lot of fights back in London flare inside him. He glares at Hook, who in turn smiles maliciously down at him.

 

“I’ve been waiting for this moment since you made a home for yourself here on Neverland. I can hardly believe this,” Hook wipes a fake tear and it only serves to agitate Louis further. He knows that the boys are too far away for him to shout for help so he doesn’t try. He tells himself to focus instead, looking around as he tries to find a solution. His legs were getting tired dammit.

 

Think Louis, think.

 

“And as much as I would love to drag this on, I’ve learned from too many similar encounters that taking my time to savour such expected victories only winds up backfiring. So I’m—”

 

“Ha! Backfiring! I get it Captain!” Smee suddenly interrupts, looking delighted at his interpretation. However, the look of pure joy is gone the instant Hook turns to look at him angrily.

 

“Silence Smee!” the pirate shouts, shaking his hook at the plump man and looking like an affronted chicken whose feathers got ruffled while doing so. Louis doesn’t miss the sly hand that’s reaching for his gun though. He knows what he has to do now, and anyways, he couldn’t tread forever. So he plasters on a smirk, waiting patiently for the pirate to look back down at him.

 

As expected, Hook takes the bait, pausing his movements and looking half offended half suspicious as he asks, “What are you smirking at boy?”

 

Louis shrugs, smiling through the wince that tries to slice its way across his face as he nonchalantly replies with a simple, “Nice socks.”

 

The phrase serves its purpose well. The old pirate looks down at his feet, giving Louis enough time to take a deep breath and duck back into the water. His intuition is proven right when he hears the angry muffled squawk of the captain and the splash of a bullet following his path.

 

Louis continues to relax his body though, trying to sink as far as he can for the moment in order to avoid the spray of bullets falling around him. His plan is to tire Hook out, exhaust his gun so that he can safely emerge back into the open.

 

It doesn’t work that way though.

 

One minute, Louis’ surrounded by murky water, swaying gently as he holds his breath and in the next, he’s being tugged down by a great, insistent force. Louis startles, opens his eyes but he can’t see anything due to the dirty state that is the Boggy Bay. Nonetheless, the tugging continues to get stronger by the second and Louis feels panic cease him because if this is what he thinks it is—

 

He doesn’t finish the thought before the darkness swallows him whole.

 

❀❀❀❀

 

The first thing Louis notices when he comes about is the heat.

 

His skin prickles with it, and he shifts, grumbling for Liam to shut the bloody curtains because it’s too damn early in the morning for this.

 

Two things happen at once then.

 

One: he discovers that he’s not in the Hideout because it always stinks in there and that’s definitely not what he smells at the moment. Also, whatever he’s lying on is way too soft to be the inside of a tree.

 

Two: a sharp jolt of pain slices its way through his left shoulder when he moves.

 

And just like that, it all comes back to him; Hook chasing him, getting shot, drowning… Louis remembers it all and yet, only one question remains.

 

Where the bloody hell am I?

 

Blinking his eyes open, Louis takes in the frail structure of the ceiling above him. He can hear the sound of waves in the distance, mixing in with the soft chirping of birds. It smells really good too, like plants and Earth and sweet fruits and wait—there’s also the faint smell of dried blood.

 

Louis wrinkles his nose, blinking as he rolls his head to the side in an attempt to escape from the metallic smell.

 

And that’s when he sees him.

 

The first thing Louis notices about him is the millions of flowers in his hair, around his waist, his wrists, his ankles. They form a palette of pastels strung so tight together that they give way to a skirt. The curtain of flowers reaches to knee-length and is simply held up by two stretches of vine that intersect to form an X across an inked chest. There’s a butterfly, two swallows, a million other doodles that are too small for Louis to decipher right now and—are those ferns?

 

Louis doesn’t know. He has no idea but he does know one thing.

 

This boy is breathtaking.

 

He’s absolutely, and simply, breathtaking.

 

He’s got green eyes; cat-like and so wide and innocent that Louis wants to cry. They’re framed by delicate lashes and curvy eyebrows—eyebrows that Louis really wouldn’t mind smoothing over with his thumbs. He’s got obscene plump lips too, so red and full and—and Louis really wants to nibble on them. He’s got round cheeks, flushed a pretty pink and framed by long loose chocolate curls that kiss broad naked shoulders.

 

He’s breathtaking and yet, there are no words to describe just how beautiful he is.

 

He’s got an innocent aura about him, pure and curious and maybe a little bit insecure, if the hunch of his back, his hesitant hands, and his pigeon-toed stance are anything to go by.

 

Louis’ suspicion is proven right because, the instant the boy registers that Louis’ wide-awake and looking back at him, his eyes grow impossibly wider; this time with fear and not with wonder.

 

He stumbles back, long gangly legs resisting as he somehow trips over his own limbs and fuck—he lands right on top of Louis, his chest smacking his crotch in a painful manner, and yet, Louis’ arms shoot up to cradle the boy and soften the impact of his tumble, the urge to protect him and shield him away from the world already so fierce in his heart that it scares him.

 

It’s silent for a few minutes.

 

Neither of them moves, both of their brains still trying to catch up with the present. Louis can feel the boy’s blush through his shirt though, and he shouldn’t feel so endeared by it—just like he shouldn’t have felt obligated to protect the boy when he was the one on the receiving end of the pain—but he does.

 

His hands—which have at some point landed on the boy’s head—begin to involuntarily comb through his soft hair. The boy’s flower crown is amiss but a few petals have stayed behind, making residence amidst his unruly locks. Louis feels his heart swell again and—and he is so fucked because the boy lifts his head and blue meets green for the first time.

 

Louis’ even more fucked when the boy opens his mouth, his sweet, raspy voice infiltrating the surprisingly comfortable silence.

 

“Oops,” he whispers, so softly, so gently, with eyes bigger than a full moon and lips fuller than the sun. His cheeks are impossibly red and Louis hasn’t ever seen anything like him. He can’t, for his life, look away.

 

“Hi,” he breathes back. It’s dumb, but it’s the most he can muster at the moment.

 

The boy blinks prettily at him, a curl tumbling over his eyes. Instinctively, Louis reaches for it, tucking it back behind his left ear. Louis hadn’t thought it possible but the boy blushes even more.

 

And then—because Louis’ a stupid, stupid dick who has no social skills and must’ve dropped his brain somewhere on his way to wherever the fuck this was—he says, “As much as I’m enjoying this position, I’m going to pass out from the lack of air if you don’t get up soon.”

 

The boy’s reaction is immediate and really, Louis deserves what happens next, even though he knows it wasn’t intentional. The boy shoots up, but in the process of doing so, his hand bumps into Louis’ injured arm and the pain is immediate, hot and sizzling and white that Louis can’t help but cry out loud.

 

“Wilting flowers! I’m—I’m so so sorry—I didn’t—I didn’t mean to—”

 

The boy’s eyes brim with tears and no, no—that should never happen.

 

“Hey, hey it’s okay. I’m fine. I deserved that anyway, you did nothing wrong,” Louis soothes through gritted teeth, trying to calm the boy down. “I’m okay. See?”

 

He sits up to prove a point and fuck—he’s really not okay but Louis’ a fantastic actor, he really is. He goes for a smile, hoping it’s convincing.

 

“See? ’M perfectly fine. Please don’t cry.”

 

Louis watches as the boy sniffles, wiping at his eyes.

 

“N—no you d—didn’t deserve it and y—you’re n—not fine,” he says dejectedly. “A—and I’m still sorry.”

 

“Heyyy,” Louis pouts, not giving up. “Are you suggesting that I’m a horrible actor then?”

 

At that, the boy lets out a wet giggle, and Louis can’t help but beam with pride.

 

“M—maybe,” he says coyly, but just as quickly, his expression turns serious and he carefully gets up, all the while avoiding any sort of physical contact between them. And well, Louis is not pouting. He isn’t.

 

Standing up, the boy looks really small. Louis’ pretty sure they’re the same height but the boy is constantly hunching over, as if trying to disappear and—and that doesn’t sit right with Louis.

 

“Um, I hope you don’t mind but I—I already tended to that. I—I didn’t want you to like, get b—blood p—poisoning or something.”

 

In the rush of everything, Louis hadn’t noticed the wrap of bandages around his left shoulder. He blinks, dumbfounded, and the boy reddens, shuffling awkwardly on his feet. Louis tries not to gape but this boy—there was no way he was real. No one was this polite.

 

“Are you seriously apologizing for taking out a bullet that was lodged in my shoulder and saving my life?” he asks slowly.

 

“Y—yes?” the boy looks unsure of himself now.

 

“Marry me—”

 

For once, the boy isn’t the only one blushing and Louis silently curses Earthen terminology for making its way into his vocabulary.

 

Taking a deep breath to regain his composure, he coughs out, “I mean thanks. That was very nice of you…?”

 

“Harry,” the boy fills in quietly, flashing Louis a tentative smile. Louis thinks it suits him well and he mouths the name to himself, liking the way it rolls off his tongue. He watches as Harry hesitates before asking his own question, albeit doubtfully.

 

“And you’re—you’re P—Peter Pan right?”

 

There’s a moment of silence because a) Louis hadn’t expected him to know that although he really should have considering, and b) Louis isn’t sure if he should tell Harry about his new name, the one he’d taken on during his stay in the real world.

 

Setting aside everyone he’d interacted with on Earth, Zayn, Liam and Niall were the only ones who knew about it. The name Louis was quite special to him because it signified a big development in his life and here in Neverland, he was still only known for being the little mischievous kid who fooled around.

 

And Louis wants to keep it that way but, looking at the pretty curve of Harry’s eyebrows and remembering the fact that the kid just saved his life, he decides to trust him.

 

“It’s Louis actually,” he says.

 

Harry looks up, opening his mouth to undoubtedly apologize for assuming he was someone he’s not so Louis beats him to it, sparing him the trouble.

 

“Like, you weren’t wrong. I am Peter Pan but my private name is Louis. Only my friends call me that.”

 

Harry pauses again at that, lips quirking slightly as he asks quietly, “I’m—I’m your friend?”

 

“You saved my life,” Louis shrugs, trying to play it off. He has no idea what he’s doing. He blames Earth and its dirty-minded people for his newfound susceptibility to attraction and sex. After all, a big part of his development during his stay was discovering he’s into dick.

 

“You—you haven’t even known me for a day,” Harry giggles, biting at his thumb in a way that definitely does not make Louis’ dick twitch.

 

“I have a good judge of character.”

 

“Oh I’m s—sure you do. I’ve—I’ve heard loads of stories about your um your adventures. Always thought you were um, k—kinda cool I g—guess,” Harry admits the last part quietly, shyly.

 

Louis’ intrigued though. He honestly hadn’t expected Harry to know so much about him but he also shouldn’t have been this surprised considering he’s pretty much a legend around here. Louis figures he’s just gotten used to the real world, where he was just another body amidst the mass of millions.

 

“How much do you really know about me? And really, I’m only kind of cool?” Louis teases, eating up Harry’s blush. He’s never met someone who blushes so easily but he likes it. He’s always liked getting reactions out of people.

 

“Y—yes. O—only kind of,” Harry insists, crossing his arms and pouting like a petulant five-year-old. Louis’ not endeared. “And well, I—I know the basics like everyone does. Didn’t know you had like, t—tattoos and stuff. And you look older than I was told you were but again, t—that was a long time ago I t—think, so.”

 

He shrugs, and Louis is about to explain his detour to Earth because by the sounds of it, the boy didn’t know about it at all, when he registers the last part of what he said.

 

“Wait. What do you mean a long time ago?”

 

Louis feels the atmosphere tense as Harry glances down, wringing his hands in what can only be a nervous and an uncomfortable manner. 

 

“Um—” he shuffles, biting his lip. 

 

“You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to,” Louis informs. They may have known each other for less than thirty minutes but he can already tell that Harry wasn’t very comfortable under any kind of direct attention.

 

“W—well, I—I just—I don’t know how to say it,” Harry replies, throwing a quick glance at Louis. Then, he mumbles so quietly that Louis barely hears, “I’m a—afraid you’re g—gonna freak out.”

 

Louis furrows his eyebrows, confused. He can’t shake the feeling that something’s off about this whole situation now and that he won’t like the truth when he hears it.

 

But Louis has always been curious.

 

“I’m not? What’s—”

 

“H—how’d you get here L—Louis?” Harry interrupts, still fidgeting nervously. It throws him off.

 

“Um—I was being chased by Hook—”

 

“H—Hook?” Harry pales, looking shaky as he continues. “As in, C—Captain H—Hook?”

 

Louis is so, so lost but he answers anyway. “Yes, the one and only.”

 

Louis watches as Harry beings to tremble. His stomach flips at the sight.

 

“Harry, what’s going on? You’re freaking me out.”

 

“L—Louis—”

 

“Just say it!”

 

Louis has never been patient either.

 

“We’re not in Neverland,” Harry croaks out.

 

Louis blinks. He doesn’t understand.

 

“W—what?”

 

Harry looks at him with forlorn eyes, continuing to twist his fingers as he stutters through his response.

 

“I—you’re—we’re not in Neverland. We’re in—we’re in its neighbour. Y—you know, the star on the left, the one n—no one ever t—talks about?”

 

“But—but how?”

 

Harry shrugs, looking down at his curled toes.

 

“H—Hook got me here too um, a long time ago, or so I think anyways. I—I don’t know how long I’ve actually been here. Did—did he throw you in the murky water too?”

 

“Yes,” Louis instinctively replies, only to register the question. “No! No. He didn’t. He shot me and I fell into the water—I was at the Boggy Bay—but—I dived because he was gonna shoot again. And why do you keep saying it’s been a long time? What—what’s going on?”

 

“I—I mean—I don’t know, Louis. I have no actual idea if I’ve been here for days or y—years or centuries,” Harry responds, clearly frustrated. But then he whispers the worst part of the news. “All I know is that—is that once you’re here, you c—can’t get out.”

 

Silence.

 

“Can’t get out? What do you—?”

 

“You can’t fly here!” Harry bursts out, but it’s wobbly and he looks like he’s on the verge of crying. “This—this place is cursed. It’s—it’s the equivalent to Hell while N—Neverland’s the equivalent to H—Heaven.”

 

He takes a deep breath, voice breaking as he continues on much more softly, “You c—can’t fly here, Louis. Pixie—pixie dust doesn’t work here. I’m so, so sorry. I—I didn’t want to tell you l—like this.”

 

The silence that follows is long and ugly, only broken by Harry’s muffled sobs. A distant part in Louis’ mind screams at him to comfort the boy but he’s trying to absorb what he’s just been told and denial keeps getting in the way.

 

If what Harry was telling him was true, did that mean Louis would never get to see the lads again? That he was stuck on some random star forever with only Harry to keep him company? Or were there others here too?

 

Louis never gets to ask any of these questions right then and there because, the next thing he knows, he’s passing out again.

 

❀❀❀❀

 

The next time Louis wakes up, it’s to the smell of rich food. The flowery aroma that follows is what makes him remember that he’s not in his flat back in London or in the Hideout back in Neverland. He’s here, on the neighbouring star, forever if his foggy memory is anything to go by.

 

Louis allows himself a moment to absorb everything but the promise of food eventually rouses him from his comfortable position. He also may or may not be worried about a certain curly-haired beauty whom—the last time Louis saw him—was crying and apologizing for something he didn’t even do.

 

The first thing Louis does when he gets up though is look around, taking in his surroundings properly for the first time. In the rush of meeting Harry and finding out about everything, he hadn’t taken time to check out his current residence.

 

First of all, he discovers he’s in some sort of one-room man-made hut. It’s made of bamboo so that rays of light shine through the cracks but somehow, different kinds of flowers have also grown through them as well, bringing life into the room. The hut is small but cozy, softly lit and cluttered in a weirdly organized way. The cluttering is due to the growing buds; everywhere Louis looks there are flowers.

 

As for the actual furniture, it’s simple. Louis had been lying on a bed made of floras, which explains the smell. There’s a frail shelf on the right of it containing neatly folded garments, and on the left lies a small drawer with a flourishing vase, a bowl filled with water, a roll of bandages, a dagger, and a small cup filled with what looks like a creamy ointment on it.

 

Across from the bed, a small fire crackles. There’s a pot stewing on top of it and Louis figures this is the source of the mouth-watering smell. Then, hanging on the wall on top of the fire, a few handmade shelves containing bottles of different sizes and what looks like a few basic cooking supplies are strung up. Finally, a round carpet that’s adorned with floral pillows lies in front of the fire.

 

It’s a very bizarre arrangement but all in all, it’s definitely one of the most beautiful places Louis’ ever been in. He can see it as a permanent home, maybe some time in the near future. However, it’s missing one thing.

 

Harry.

 

The green-eyed boy is nowhere to be found but Louis is so hungry that he decides to approach the pot and peek inside anyway. His stomach whines at the sight of the creamy vegetable stew simmering quietly.

 

“O—oh. Um. Hi.”

 

Louis whips around at the gravely sound of Harry’s voice. The boy is standing by the door, flower crown placed back atop his curls, a basket in his hand. Louis could be possibly biased in saying he looks more beautiful than he remembers.

 

“Morning! Or afternoon? I—I don’t really know what time it is,” Louis stammers, laughing nervously. He keeps remembering the look on Harry’s face as he cried—yesterday, was it?—and his stomach twists in regret.

 

“It’s—it’s morning,” Harry says, a small smile quirking his lips. He’s still incredibly shy. “You’ve—you’ve slept through the day and n—night and now it’s d—day again.”

 

Then, upon noticing that Louis was up and out of bed, a frown finds its way across his pretty face.

 

“You—you shouldn’t be out of bed though; you’re s—still healing.”

 

Before Louis can say anything, his stomach speaks up for him. There’s a pause following the humiliating noise. It’s broken by Harry’s giggle.

 

“Oh. I see. How—how stupid of me; you must be starving. H—here, the stew is ready.”

 

He puts down his basket to grab a bowl from the nearby shelf. Ladling it up with soup, he gestures for Louis to sit down atop one of the pillows on the carpet. Louis complies and accepts the bowl graciously.

 

“Thank you,” he says, before diving in. There’s a lot of stuff they need to talk about but for now, Louis’ too starving to think about them, to the point where he even barely registers Harry joining him with his own bowl in tow.

 

“No problem,” Harry replies quietly.

 

They eat in silence, but Louis senses Harry sneaking glances at him every few seconds, only to blush and look away. It’s not adorable and it definitely does not make Louis’ heart thrum faster.

 

When he’s done, Louis puts down his bowl, shuffling as he prepares to clear some things up. Harry does the same, but unlike Louis, he avoids eye contact.

 

“So,” Louis begins, thinking back to everything he went over as soon as he had woken up. “I wanted to start off by apologizing. I didn’t react very well to the truth when I asked for it and—and I took it out on you. I’m sorry. That was a really shitty move on my part.”

 

Harry’s looking at him now, and Louis struggles to go on.

 

“A—and also, thanks again. You didn’t have to help me or take care of me to begin with but—but you did and you still are so just. Thank you.”

 

“You have n—nothing to apologize for, Louis,” Harry responds quietly, “You—you didn’t even react badly; all—all you did was pass out.”

 

Louis flushes a bit at that but the fact that it makes Harry giggle makes it worthwhile.

 

“And n—no need to thank me. It’s—it’s the least I could do. I—I wouldn’t want anyone to go through what I did. And—and I promise you, I’ll—I’ll find you the w—way out of here.”

 

Louis still can’t comprehend how someone could be so selfless.

 

“Harry—”

 

“No, Louis. I—I promise okay? You don’t belong here. Y—you belong in Neverland, with your friends. You have like, a purpose. You have a purpose and you’ll be b—back at it soon enough. It—there is a way out. For you there is. You were never even supposed to come here.”

 

“What—what do you mean? Are you the only one here?” Louis questions. He’s trying so hard to keep up but there’s so much he’s confused about.

 

“Yeah. It’s—it’s supposed to be that way too. The S—Script says so.”

 

“The Script?”

 

“Yeah it’s um, like a scripture, of what this place is? I found it w—when I was trying to get out of here, back when I um landed. Helped me understand a lot of things. It’s um h—hard to explain. I’ll just show you. T—tomorrow, since you uh should heal up a bit m—more before you start moving around a lot. And it’s uh a bit of a walk from here so…”

 

“Oh okay,” Louis’ head spins as he tries to take everything in. “Can you—do you mind if I ask how you got here? You said you don’t know how long it’s been, right?”

 

Harry shuffles in his seat, tucking a loose strand of hair behind his ear as he avoids eye contact once again.

 

“N—no, I—I don’t mind. It’s just um—difficult I guess. I’ve never told anyone before because, y—you know, no one was here to talk to but—but yeah. Um if my counts are correct, f—five years ago, Ho—Hook came to Earth.”

 

At the mention of the pirate’s name, Harry begins to shake again in fear. Louis dreads the possibilities regarding it. He hopes his mortal enemy didn’t lay a finger on the angel before him.

 

“He—he paid me a visit. I don’t think I was like—a specified target or anything b—but he um needed someone to take as ransom and—and it just happened to be me. So he t—took me.”

 

Harry stops, and Louis senses that what he’s about to say next is hard for him. So he reaches forward, squeezing the boy’s knee in encouragement. They both flinch at the bolt of electricity that sizzles between them but soon enough, Harry’s relaxing under his touch and Louis’ stomach bubbles at how he already has this kind of influence over this beautiful boy.

 

“I—I think it was you,” he whispers, and Louis’ stomach drops because he suspected this. Hook’s kidnapped people before to bait Louis but they were always saved on time because Louis had always been there.

 

Except for Harry it turns out.

 

“That—that Hook was waiting for. But you n—never came. He’d always—he’d always r—rage on about it, the fact that you’d been quiet for um quite a long time. He kept me for a while though. W—weeks, a—according to his s—sidekick.”

 

“Did he—did he ever—?” Louis can’t bring himself to say it but the thought gnaws away at him and he needs to know because he wouldn’t put it past Hook to do that.

                                                                                                           

“Touch me inappropriately?” Harry smiles sadly but he’s shaking his head and Louis sighs in relief. “N—no. No he didn’t but um—his crew would d—drop a few suggestive hints once in uh a while, when he wasn’t around. They couldn’t t—touch me though; he—he would’ve had their heads if they had.”

 

They sit in silence for a bit. It doesn’t take Louis a long time to break it though. He feels restless, the lingering question of what happened next poking at him.

 

“So what happened then?” he prompts quietly.

 

Harry blinks, swallows. Louis steels himself.

 

“E—eventually they um, figured out that you weren’t coming. I was—I was of no use to them. They um—offered me a place but I—uh—I uh refused of course. Some of the crew wanted to keep me for their own p—personal use but H—Hook was insulted at my refusal. So he sentenced me to the plank. They um, took me to that place with the murky water and threw me in. And the rest—well, the rest is history. You—you know what happened next.”

 

Anger.

 

That’s what Louis feels.

 

He’s angry at Hook, for doing this to sweet little Harry. He’s angry at Hook’s crew, for ever daring to think of using Harry in that way. He’s angry at the world for being so unfair and letting this happen but mostly, he’s angry at himself, for not being there when someone—when Harry—needed him.

 

Because he’d left by then. Six years ago was when he’d left for Earth. And five years ago was when Harry was kidnapped from Earth.

 

“I—I never blamed you,” Harry confesses, peeking from under his long locks. “I d—didn’t know where you were but I knew that you—that um—that you didn’t know.”

 

“I—I didn’t. H—Harry—” Louis chokes out, “God I’m so sorry I didn’t—I wasn’t—I wasn’t even in Neverland at the time! I left for Earth and I stayed there for a while. That’s why I look different than what—what they must’ve told you. If I had known… How do you not hate me? I let this happen to you.”

 

The guilt lodges itself in his throat and he can’t swallow it down.

 

“No L—Louis. Y—you didn’t. And see? I was right. You—you weren’t even here. You didn’t know and besides,” Harry shrugs. “I already went through all the p—phases; anger, denial, d—depression, acceptance. I’ve—I’ve had a lot of time to go through it all and um come to terms with my fate. So no, I don’t—I could never hate you Louis.”

 

“Still—”

 

“Louis, we’re—we’re not arguing about this.”

 

Louis’ taken aback by the ferocity behind Harry’s voice. And for once, the sweet boy gets through his words without stuttering.

 

“What happened happened. We can’t undo the past but we can certainly alter the future, okay? We’ll get you out of here.”

 

“W—what about you?” is all Louis manages to ask in turn. The thought of leaving this beautiful boy behind doesn’t sit right with him.

 

Harry just smiles, and on impulse, places his hands on top of Louis’. They both freeze at the action but neither of them pulls away. Louis tries to control his breathing as a pretty blush spreads over Harry’s skin. The boy looks down at their intertwined hands as he begins to trace Louis’ fingers gently. His hands are big but soft while Louis’ are small and callused. The contrast is absolutely stunning and Louis finds that it suits them both just fine because it’s a reflection of the juxtaposition between their looks and personalities.

 

“T—this is my home now,” Harry says quietly as he continues to play with Louis’ fingers. “And like, I can’t leave either way but um—I know you can. We’ll just have to figure it—we’ll just have to figure the riddle out. So um tomorrow, bright and early, we’ll—we’ll go. O—okay?”

 

He looks up and for once, doesn’t pull away from Louis’ gaze. Louis stares at his wide green eyes, his pretty pink lips and—fuck. He wants to kiss him—wants to spread his gangly limbs out on his stupid flower bed and wreck him so hard but—no, no, he can’t do that. He didn’t even know if Harry was gay or interested in dicks for Merlin’s sake!

 

When Louis goes back to steal a quick glance at Harry’s lips, he realizes that the curly-haired boy is talking again. He quickly tunes back in.

 

“—you should go b—back to bed now and rest, okay?”

 

And then Harry is leaning in with closed eyes and Louis doesn’t have enough time to panic or react or do anything before a searing kiss is left on his cheek. Louis can just feel Harry’s blush as the boy lets go of his hand and gets up, grabbing the two dirty plates and snatching an empty pail on his way to the door. Louis gasps a few seconds too late and watches the boy leave, mouth agape as he tries to recover from the burning imprint on his skin.

 

It’s when Harry’s two steps away from the door that he turns back around though, and Louis barely catches the permanent blush on his face before he’s staring at his feet and asking, “Did—did you need any h—help getting back t—to bed?”

 

It’s not Louis’ proudest moment when all he manages to do in reply is imitate the sound of a dying cow and almost rip his own head off with the vigorous force he puts behind shaking his head no.

 

Harry peeks up at him when he hears the noise that came out of his mouth and upon seeing Louis’ flubbing face, he giggles a bit, a smile blossoming on his face. Louis tries to take comfort in knowing that he at least managed to amuse Harry but he’s too humiliated this time around to feel any semblance of pride.

 

“A—alright then,” the little cherub says, still quite bashfully. He looks like an angel, what with the light coming from the cracks in the walls hitting him in just the right way. Louis really wishes he had a camera—an Earthen invention—at his disposal right now.

 

“S—sweet dreams, Louis.”

 

And well, if Louis repeats that scene over and over again for himself as he drifts off to sleep in Harry’s bed, no one ever has to know.

 

❀❀❀❀

 

Louis wakes up to the smell of food for the second time in a row. He tries to resist but, much like last time, the aroma is too tempting and next thing he knows, he’s tumbling out of Harry’s bed, hair messy and clothes rumpled.

 

He finds Harry in front of the fire this time, stirring the pot in silence. Louis takes a minute to admire the curve of his body and the sheer beauty of his current position. He stops when his dick starts to take interest because no. He wasn’t going to pop a boner when Harry was on his knees a few feet away. Absolutely not.

 

Did Harry even know what a boner is? How old is he even?

 

The fact that Harry looked barely fifteen made it easier for Louis to reason with his dick.

 

“Morning,” he alerts and maybe he should’ve tried to look a little bit more presentable but it’s too late now, what with the curly-haired lad turning to meet his gaze with a serene smile on his face.

 

“M—morning,” he greets back, managing to only stutter a bit. He turns back to stirring the pot as he continues, “Breakfast’s almost ready. How—are you feeling better?”

 

“Yeah, loads, and all thanks to you of course,” Louis replies, taking a seat on one of the plush pillows. The pain was just a faint ache now but Louis knew it would be weeks before it completely healed. “How about you? Did you have a good sleep?”

 

“I’m good. Um. The carpet’s really comfy.”

 

And fuck. Louis is such an idiot. He took over Harry’s own bed and forced him to sleep on the ground for what? Two nights in a row now?

 

“Fuck Harry—I’m really sorry I—”

 

But Harry’s laughing as he turns around to grab two bowls and fills them up with food. And fuck—are—are those dimples? Louis can’t believe it. How come he never noticed them before? He didn’t think Harry could get any prettier but—but he’s got dimples.

 

He wants to bite them, lick them, or maybe even come—

 

“Louis,” Harry’s amused voice cuts through his thoughts and Louis flushes, glad he didn’t go there. “It’s not a problem. I didn’t say that to like g—guilt you or something. The carpet really is comfy. And—and I offered you the bed so. Here.”

 

He hands him a bowl and Louis accepts. It’s a fruity mix this time. Louis wonders how Harry had the strength to survive this long on his own. If it had been him in Harry’s shoes, he would’ve died after three days, if not two. Harry really is something else.

 

Still feeling guilty about the bed incident though, Louis offers, “I’ll take the carpet tonight then. It’s only fair.”

 

Harry looks up from his plate and fixes Louis with an unimpressed look. Louis is not unnerved. He isn’t.

 

“No, you won’t. Your—your shoulder is still healing and—and sleeping on the ground will make it worse.”

 

“But—”

 

“Louis, please.”

 

And fuck okay. That’s not fair. Harry was giving him the puppy eyes, pouting lips and all and Louis really couldn’t compete with that.

 

“I can’t believe you’re trying to convince me not to sleep on the ground in your place,” Louis says in disbelief.

 

“Well I am,” Harry continues to pout.

 

“Fine,” Louis shakes his head in defeat. “But only because you pulled them eyes on me which hey—wasn’t fair. And as soon as my arm is healed, you’re getting your bed back.”

 

It was supposed to make Harry laugh but for some reason, he stiffens instead.

 

“That—that won’t happen. You’ll be b—back in Neverland long b—before then.”

 

Louis’ stomach flops—not at the prospect of being back home but at the meaning behind Harry’s words. It’s as if he was sure Louis would find a way out and that he’d be all alone again, all too soon.

 

“Harry—” he starts but the curly-haired boy is getting up, plastered smile on his face.

 

There are no dimples this time.

 

“R—remember how—how I t—told you I’d s—show you the—the Script today?” he asks and Louis forces himself to nod instead of saying what he really wants to say. “Well—it’s quite a—uh a walk from here so—so as soon as you’re finished eating—we’ll—we’ll go. So um—I’ll—I’ll meet you outs—outs—outside.”

 

Louis’ left to finish his breakfast in silence but really, the realization that Harry stutters more when he’s upset fills up the whole room.

 

❀❀❀❀

 

When Louis leaves the premises of the hut for the first time, he’s met with sand and a never-ending shore. The sky is clear and blue above him, the sun shining bright and hot. Palm trees spring up to decorate the shore, coconuts sprouting between their leafs.

 

He finds Harry by one of them, brows furrowed and basket in hand. The boy’s outfit is even prettier in the sun; the flowers more alive, vibrant. His crown looks different than yesterdays too, and Louis wonders if he made another one, or whether he’s got a collection of them and just alternates between them every other day.

 

He wants to learn all these little things about Harry and the fact that he does scares him because the last time Louis felt this way, he ended up getting hurt. Louis can’t imagine the little cherub before him hurting a fly though.

 

Harry looks up when Louis approaches him and returns the smile that’s offered to him. Louis knows he’s not mad at him and it’s a relief, but the fact that Harry’s being extra fidgety unsettles him.

 

“R—ready to go?”

 

“Yup,” Louis nods, still trying to figure out what the boy was feeling.

 

“Okay. Um I was also thinking of like, giving you a bit of a um t—tour as we head down?”

 

Harry phrases the offer as a question, still unnecessarily nervous, and it becomes clear to Louis that he’d been stressing over this. Louis wants to hug him and ease out all the tension that he’s carrying, because Harry really shouldn’t be burdening himself with such tiny irrelevant things like this. But before he can say anything, Harry is continuing on, as if he owed Louis an explanation.

 

“O—only so that you can get to know the place b—better and stuff. It’ll help if—if you know, you know the island better when we’re trying to like figure out the riddle because um—I’ve been here for five or whatever years and I still haven’t figured it out so—”

 

“Harry,” Louis cuts him off, silencing the boy with a finger to his lips. They’re as soft and plush as they look and—Louis hadn’t expected Harry’s breath to catch at the gesture but it does. He looks at him with wide, glassy eyes and Louis’ pants begin to tighten so he drops his hand quickly and plasters a smile on his face, one that turns genuine as soon as he looks back at Harry.

 

“A tour would be lovely,” he concludes softly.

 

Harry blushes and shuffles for a second before he looks down at his feet and points towards the thicket of palm trees growing behind him. Louis can see the path turn muddy, the peeks of a hill in the distance.

 

“Okay um sh—should we get started then?”

 

Louis observes Harry for a second, taking in his long gangly limps and hunched shoulders and fiddling hands. He can tell the boy doesn’t feel comfortable in his own skin, that he doesn’t value himself as much as he should, and Louis hates it. So he makes a promise.

 

He makes a promise to himself right then and there that he would show Harry both the inner and outer beauty he saw in him, show him that he didn’t need to hide who he was—not from Louis and not from anyone.

 

Determined, Louis begins his mission by lifting Harry’s head up to face his. Green meets blue, not for the first time, and Louis brushes his hand over the little jut in Harry’s chin, all the while keeping eye contact.

 

“Lead the way,” he breathes.

 

And so Harry, with his ever-persistent blush, does.

 

❀❀❀❀

 

At one point, the palm trees are replaced with a forest of thick foliage and the sand turns into soil. In turn, the heat dissipates, the canopy of trees protecting them against the sun. The chirps of critters and the smell of wildlife fill the air, softening to a background noise whenever Harry speaks.

 

And Harry speaks a lot, because Louis has always been one to prompt conversation and he also wants Harry to get more comfortable around him. So he asks and surprisingly, Harry answers. By the time they arrive, Louis learns a few important things.

 

One: Harry’s an excellent tour guide. Despite his stuttering and shy demeanour, he lays out an amazing summary of the land around them. He explains to Louis how this island consists of roughly four main areas—the beach, the meadow, the waterfall, and the caves—and relates each section to being up north, south, east or west. Louis learns that the beach takes up the southern part of the island and that up east is the meadow—which Harry promises to show him sometime—and that they’re headed up west, where the waterfall and the caves lie.

 

Two: Harry might possibly be the slowest talker he’s ever heard when he’s not nervous and trying to get everything out in a jumble. Louis might also possibly be a tiny bit in love with the fact. There’s just something about the way Harry’s deep, smooth voice fluctuates and drawls over his chopped words that Louis finds endearing—attractive even.

 

Three: Harry is the strongest person Louis’ ever met. He comes up with this conclusion after he asks Harry what it was like when he first arrived here, all by himself. Harry’s quiet for a long time before he answers, but once he starts, it all just comes pouring out.

 

He tells Louis about how the first night was the scariest. He’d landed on the beach, just like Louis had, but unlike him, there was no one there to rescue him and no shelter for him to take refuge in. Luckily, he wasn’t severely injured.

 

Harry slept under a cluster of palm trees that night, too scared to venture any further into the island.

 

It was the next day that he picked himself up and tore through the forest. He stumbled over the waterfall and that’s where he stayed, for a week maybe, because there was clean water there and lots of berries grew in the bushes.

 

It also became clearer to Harry that no one else was here—except for the wildlife around him—as each day passed with continued silence.

 

Eventually, he mustered enough courage to continue on to the caves, which were visible from where the waterfall was situated. It was then that Harry found the Script. Harry admits that he almost gave up back then, because the Script said the first person to come here couldn’t leave and he had already tried to fly when he first arrived. And there we no signs of any other humans. So Harry almost gave up.

 

But he didn’t.

 

He stayed. He accepted what life had thrown at him and went back to the beach, where he built the hut and learned how to survive. And it’s been that way ever since.

 

Until Louis washed up on shore two days ago.

 

By the time Harry’s done his story, Louis’ got tears in his eyes. He tells Harry how brave he is, how admirable, but Harry only blushes and looks down at his feet, mumbling a few disagreements under his breath. Louis decides to work on that later since Harry had already shared so much with him and he’d begun to stutter less as the day had progressed.

 

By the time they arrive at the entrance of the cave, Louis’ muscles are aching. They’d passed by the waterfall Harry had mentioned and Louis’ still stunned by the sheer grandness of it. He’d washed up a bit back then too since he hadn’t had the chance to do that for a few days now.

 

Harry leads him inside, where it’s surprisingly lit. The cave is small, wedged between bigger slabs of rock. It’s musky and hard to breath down here but sunlight streams through tiny openings in the walls. Harry stops at the end of the tunnel and gestures for Louis to come closer.

 

Hesitantly, Louis steps over to look at the stone wall more closely. There’s writing etched in there. He squints to read it:

 

here in Aeternus

the first and only individual to come

will hereby forever stay

there’s no faith or trust or pixie dust

there is no escape

 

however

 

if a second were to stumble, they may fly again

but only if, they solve the riddle herein:

 

it grows and blossoms

it dies and wilts

it’s much like a flower

only it sins

it’s the answer to all foolish problems

it’s the answer to the heart’s desire

say it, taste it, feel it (you must feel it before you speak it)

aeternus is one way to describe it

 

Louis reads the poem a few more times before he gives up, turning to look at Harry with furrowed brows and a pout.

 

“What—what does that even mean?” he whines, sliding down the wall to rest his back against it.

 

Harry shrugs, tugging a strand of hair behind his ear as he says, “I—I don’t know. I’ve tried to solve it for ages but—but then I gave up because there wasn’t like, anyone else here who um, who needed it.”

 

A beat of silence passes and Louis musters enough courage to say what he’s been thinking all along.

 

“I—I don’t need it Harry. I can stay here. With you,” he whispers and he means it. He really, really does.

 

Harry’s head snaps up at that. He looks confused for the most part.

 

“D—don’t be silly Louis,” he stutters. “We’re gonna get you out of here.”

 

“But Harry—”

 

“You’ll—you’ll be b—back with your friends as soon as we figure this out s—so the faster we do, the sooner you’ll be home. D—don’t you want to go back?”

 

“Yes but—”

 

“Then let’s figure this r—riddle out!”

 

“Harry—”

 

“Louis—please—just—just stop. We both know this isn’t where you belong and that you miss being home. So just. D—don’t. Don’t say things like t—that.”

 

“Harry—”

 

But Harry won’t have it. He shakes his head, his eyes wide with a panicked expression, as if the mere idea of Louis not wanting to leave, of Louis wanting to stay with him, is unfathomable. Louis hates it, especially since all the progress they’ve made on their walk here is now shattered.

 

“I’ll—I’ll meet you outside.”

 

It’s not like Louis didn’t want to go back to Neverland. He does. He knows the lads must be going crazy right now, trying to find him, and he misses them, more than he can ever say.

 

But if Harry was right about Louis not belonging here, why did the mere idea of leaving Harry here, of leaving him all alone and not having him in his life, make Louis sick to his stomach? And why did the idea of him staying here with Harry, forever, not?

 

And that’s how Louis knows he’s royally and irrevocably fucked.

 

❀❀❀❀

 

It’s on their fourth day—the day right after Harry showed him the Script—that Louis asks Harry something that’s been itching at him from the very beginning.

 

They’re sat in the hut, trying to figure out the riddle, when he does it. Louis’ on the bed, only because the little menace had insisted, while Harry himself sits on the carpet. He’s got a batch of flowers in front of him and Louis watches as he twists and binds them to form a beautiful flower crown.

 

At some point, Louis had given up on pretending to think about the riddle and decided to just flat out stare at the pretty boy before him. If Harry had noticed, he didn’t show it.

 

So Louis studies the way he furrows his eyebrows in concentration, the way he twists his lips and bites at the corner of them in thought. Everything about him, from the way his long fingers move to braid strands of flowers together to the way he gives every small detail his full attention, fascinates Louis. There’s just so much to know, so much to discover, and Louis wants it. He wants to know Harry.

 

So he takes a deep breath and asks.

 

“Harry?”

 

The curly-haired boy looks up at him, not pausing as he flashes him a small smile. Things have been a bit tense since their little incident back at the cave. They’d gotten back to the hut and had dinner. Then, this morning, Harry had insisted they begin thinking of the riddle right after breakfast. Louis knows that Harry’s trying to pull away now to protect himself from what he thinks is bound to happen later but he also knows that it’s only serving to hurt them both.

 

“Yes?”

 

“I was um, just wondering. What’s up with you and the flowers?”

 

As soon as the words are out of his mouth, Louis wants to swallow them back whole. Merlin, that was so badly phrased.

 

“I—I mean—” he scrambles to correct himself. “I—I don’t think they’re a bad thing—they’re—they’re lovely! And they suit you! It’s just—is it like—an—an interest of yours? Or—or—like a—a hobby? Does that even make sense—?”

 

“Louis, I get,” Harry interrupts with a short laugh.

 

Louis shuts up but he’s glad to see that Harry looks amused rather than offended.

 

The boy resumes his work as he continues.

 

“And um—um I guess it’s kind of like, both an interest and a habit of some sort? It’s just—when I first came here, I—I was all alone and then—when I found the meadow I was just, surrounded by all these flowers and they—” he shrugs. “I just—I just felt like I wasn’t alone anymore in their presence. I’ve always liked them and um, always took comfort in them. And I liked the way they looked and smelt and felt against my skin so I just—improvised I guess? And they just became a part of me.”

                                                

When Harry looks up to glance at Louis, he finds him smiling softly. He quickly looks back down, his face already flushing.

 

“That makes sense,” Louis finally speaks up and watches fondly as Harry blushes even more. “It’s cute.”

 

“Um thanks? It’s just—I know they’ll always be here. To keep me company and stuff. I guess that’s why I like them so much.”

 

The way he says it, Louis can’t help but feel like Harry’s referring to his eventual departure. Louis sighs, mentally preparing himself for the inevitable argument that’s about to happen. Harry was just so damn stubborn when it came to believing that Louis genuinely wouldn’t mind staying with him.

 

“Harry, is this about me leaving—”

 

“Don’t.”

 

Louis expected this, but it hurts nonetheless. He’s so tired of being pushed away.

 

“Don’t Louis. I’m—I’m literally begging you. Please don’t—don’t make a promise you know you w—won’t keep.”

 

“Okay Harry,” he knows he’s going to try again later but he says it anyway. For now. “I’m sorry I said anything.”

 

It’s silent and as Louis repeats what just happened in his mind over and over again, a line from the Script pops up in his mind and once it’s there, it doesn’t leave him for the rest of the day.

 

It’s much like a flower, only it sins.

 

Louis refuses to acknowledge what that reminds him of.

 

❀❀❀❀

 

The next day, Harry suggests that they go to the meadow because—quote on quote—“the riddle mentions flowers and the meadow is filled with them”. Louis of course, agrees, but really, he hadn’t expected the meadow to be literally filled with flowers.

 

It is though. Flowers of every kind and colour sprout everywhere, covering every inch of the ground and mixing in with the vibrant grass. In the centre of it all lies an oak tree, much like the Pixie Hollow back home. Overall, it’s a very bright and beautiful place. Louis can see why Harry likes to spend most of his time here. It’s just so…him.

 

They sit by the oak tree, Harry immediately plucking out a few dying flowers to work with. He always uses the dying ones, never the new ones. Louis finds it sweet, just like he finds a lot of things about Harry to be.

 

Much like the day before, it doesn’t take Louis a long time to get bored of thinking about the riddle. It’s partly because he’s never had the concentration span of most people—he gets distracted very easily, especially by things that fascinate him—and partly because he didn’t even want to figure it out to begin with. Not if it meant he would lose Harry in the process. Louis has no idea why he’s so attached to the green-eyed boy already because he’s never been one to form attachments quickly. But then again, it’s always been different with Harry.

 

So soon enough, Louis’ squirming in his spot and trying to garner Harry’s attention. He decides to take it to the next level when the boy continues to weave at his flowers and pay him no mind.

 

“Tell me about your tattoos,” he demands, but it’s spoken softly and gently, because Louis could never be anything but that when it came to the green-eyed boy.

 

Harry pauses at that, turning to peek at Louis.

 

“We’re supposed to be thinking about the riddle you know,” he frowns.

 

“Yeah but Harreh,” Louis whines, stretching out the y. “Can’t we take a break?”

 

“Louis—”

 

Please?

 

It’s Louis’ turn to use the puppy eyes trick on him and victory really is glorious when Harry wavers and admits defeat.

 

“Fine,” he sighs, stretching out his legs.

 

The silence between them doesn’t last for long though because Harry’s shifting again and Louis perks up, knowing he’s about to speak.

 

“It—it was H—Hook,” he stammers. Louis’ heart sinks. “H—he had me tattooed. He chose the first one but then he let me pick the rest. It was—it was supposed to be some sort of sick punishment but um—I grew to like it. Didn’t let him know it though. And I um, covered the tattoo he chose with this, the butterfly.”

 

He gestures at his tummy, where the butterfly lies and Louis watches as it flutters with every breath he takes. He resists the urge to touch it.

 

“He—he surprisingly let me do it. And I let the tattoos speak what I felt. Some of them were just like, reminders of home, and some were just for an—for an  escape.”

 

Louis thinks he’s done but then he’s adding in a whisper, “Those ones were based on N—Neverland. The mermaid, the ship, the anchor, the swallows. They were all based on stories I heard, the adventures of a c—certain Peter Pan.”

 

Louis’ breath catches at that, even more when Harry looks up at him, smiling tentatively with tinted cheeks. He blinks, telling himself that pouncing on Harry and kissing him bloody wasn’t the greatest idea at the moment.

 

“W—what about you?” Harry asks quietly after a moment. He gestures at Louis’ own ink. “Did this happen during your um s—stay in E—Earth?”

 

“Uh,” Louis clears his throat, willing himself to focus as he looks down at his arms. He owes Harry a thorough description, not a half-arsed answer. “Yeah. I discovered loads of things about myself there. One of them was that I like ink, and piercings. They called that look ‘punk’ there so I guess that’s what I am. But yeah, the first one I got was by accident. I went out drinking with the lads and somehow wound up with this.”

 

He thumbs at the stick figure on his right arm.

 

“Liked how it looked like in the morning so I decided to go try it out again, this time sober. As for the piercing, I’d seen a lot of people with them and liked how they looked. So I tried it. Had to wait till I was sixteen Earthen years of age though, which was quite annoying.”

 

He shrugs, glancing at Harry for the first time since he started speaking. He tries not to redden when he sees that the curly-haired lad had been watching him attentively all along.

 

“You know,” Harry says, smiling. Louis likes this Harry—the one who didn’t try to limit their interactions as much as possible in fear of getting too attached. “I—I think this is the first time you told me something about yourself. It’s—it’s nice.”

 

This time, Louis does blush.

 

“Um thanks,” he pauses, and then offers, “Is there anything else you want to know? Since I’ve been asking all the questions so far?”

 

“Uh…” Harry trails off in thought, and then perks up when he thinks of something. “How old are you? According to Earthen years anyways.”

 

“It’s good that you narrowed that one down,” Louis laughs because really, he doesn’t know how old he really is. He was centuries old, that’s for sure. “And um I’m eighteen I guess. I was twelve when I left Neverland and I stayed in Earth for six years so… How about you?”

 

“M—me?”

 

Louis can tell the question caught Harry off guard, as if he hadn’t thought of it at all. He nods, a bit nervous to find out because what if Harry was like, fifteen? Did he even know any of the sexual stuff Louis knew about?

 

“I—I’m sixteen.”

 

Louis tries not to sigh in relief because—sixteen was okay right?

 

“Technically supposed to be twenty-one right now but—”

 

Harry shrugs, twiddling with the flowers in his hands as a brief pause ensues. Louis feels a tad guilty for worrying about his age like that, as if they were ever going to do anything.

 

“You m—mentioned the ‘lads’,” Harry says then, changing the topic. Louis is grateful. “Tell me more about them. They’re um—they’re the Lost Boys, right?”

 

“Yup,” Louis nods, stretching out his legs to match Harry’s. His shoulder isn’t hurting as bad anymore. The thing is, it turned out that the bullet had only grazed the flesh there, not fully lodging itself so Louis only had to deal with a nasty bruise and a minor scratch.

 

“When we left Neverland, there were a few of them—nine, I think. Not all of them came back though. I lost touch with six of them. Zayn, Liam and Niall were the only ones to stick around and come back to Neverland with me.”

 

Louis leans his head back, closing his eyes as he thinks of his best friends. He’d been avoiding thinking about them if he were to be honest. He didn’t want to picture their current state—not wanting to remember them for being panicked and sad but for when they were together and happy.

 

“Niall’s blond and loud and Irish. Well, he came from Ireland—can’t remember when exactly I picked him up from Earth. It wasn’t too long ago though but yeah. He also eats a lot and he’s the only one who didn’t get tattooed. Said it wasn’t his thing, that little baby. He’s awesome though—a great laugh. We discovered that he had a good ear and hand when it came to the guitar too. He was sad to leave it behind when we came back. Always whined about losing his calluses,” Louis chuckles.

 

“Then there’s Liam. He’s the mother hen of our group and a big softy despite all his big muscles. Kid could run miles before getting tired. He made sure we came out alive at the end of the day but I loosened him up some. He was eleven when I picked him up so he wasn’t as immature as the rest of us. But when he’s in a playful mood, he’s as mean as hell. Comes up with better shit than me to be quite honest. We bickered a lot but it was all out of love.”

 

That’s when Louis realizes he swore—something he’s been trying to avoid because Harry says wilting flowers and bucketful of thorns for God’s sake, never a dirty word—and he quickly opens his eyes, turning to apologize. He doesn’t know why he feels the need to but it might also have to do with the innocent aura Harry radiates.

 

“Uh—sorry I swore. I didn’t—”

 

“No need to apologize, Lou.” They both blush at the nickname. “Go on.”

 

“Um ok,” Louis leans back again, but he can’t close his eyes this time. The word Lou keeps playing in the back of his mind like a track on repeat.

 

“Last one is Zayn. He’s my ultimate partner in crime. I think he understands me the most, which is kind of ironic considering the fact he’s the sanest one out of all of us. He’s badass though. Think he’s got even more ink than I do too. He’s certainly got the face of an angel. Had the ladies and lads swarming him like bees back on Earth but he rarely accepted any of the attention. He’s also a great artist, has a knack for doodling… I guess we all discovered big things about ourselves during our stay.”

 

A thought appears in Louis’ head right then and there—something so honest and true but nerve-wracking all at once—and so he musters up all the courage he has to say it to Harry. He makes sure he’s looking him straight in the eyes when he does it, heart beating fast.

 

“Wouldn’t say I regret any of it,” he whispers. “Except for the fact that I missed out on saving you from that twat Hook.”

 

Harry’s reaction is immediate. Louis can see the moment his guard goes back up, as if Louis’ words reminded him of reality and the fact that Louis wasn’t supposed to know about Harry, or be here with him at all.

 

Louis is done letting him think of himself that way though so he doesn’t back away when Harry asks him to. Not this time.

 

“Hey, look at me,” he instructs, taking Harry’s face in his hands and directing his gaze to his. Harry’s got tears in his eyes and he keeps trying to look away but Louis doesn’t let him. His lips wobble when he finally meets Louis’ gaze.

 

“I meant it, I mean it. Every single time I say I wouldn’t mind staying here with you, I bloody mean every single word. I wouldn’t mind it Harry. I really wouldn’t mind it if I had to stay here for the rest of eternity with you, even if it means I wouldn’t see the lads ever again. Because you’re—you’re worth it Haz. You’re worth staying here for. I’ve only known you for like, five days but from the moment I saw you I knew—I knew that you—you mattered to me the instant you tripped over nothing and fell on top of me, okay? It’s—it’s crazy—I know I sound crazy but it breaks my heart that you don’t believe me when I say it—that leaving isn’t important to me, not if it means not having you in my life. So just please—just please please believe me when I say that I, Louis, Peter Pan—whatever you wanna call me—care about you and want to get to know you and don’t want to leave you like—ever. Okay?”

 

By the time he’s done, tears are rolling down Harry’s cheeks in streams and Louis is out of breath. He hugs the younger boy to his chest, sighing in relief when Harry accepts the gesture and melts into his arms, hugging him back tightly.

 

Louis hadn’t said half of the things he wanted to say—like how he thinks he might be a bit in love with Harry already and how he spends most of his time trying not to pounce on him and fuck him—but it feels good, finally telling Harry that he’s worth it for Louis.

 

The curly-haired boy sniffles against his chest and Louis pulls back, smoothing a gentle hand over his face. He’s got tears and snot all over him and his eyes are shot and rimmed with red but he’s still the most beautiful person Louis’ ever laid eyes on.

 

He bites his lip and Louis’ heart jumps in his throat when he finally hears that one word, that one word that changes everything.

 

“Okay.”

 

❀❀❀❀

 

They develop a routine.

 

Every morning, Harry wakes Louis up with breakfast and cleans his wound. Then, they head down to the meadow, where they pretend to think about the riddle but wind up swapping stories and getting to know each other instead. Harry packs them lunch so that they can eat there and when the sun begins to set, they head back to the hut. Every other day, they alternate and visit the waterfall for a bath.

 

The best part of it all is that Harry opens up to Louis with each day that passes. He tells him more about himself—about his life before Aeternus. He tells him about his mom, Anne, who loved him unconditionally and who was the best mom he could ever ask for and about Gemma, his clever and annoying older sister who he loves very, very much. He cries about missing them dearly and whispers his fears about being forgotten, but Louis is there to kiss every tear away and reassure him.

 

And Harry doesn’t turn him away.

 

He tells him about Dusty, his cat, and about his freakishly clean room back in Cheshire, how he never had many friends but did well in school because of it. He tells him about small things too, upon Louis’ request, like what his favourite colour was, his favourite flower, his last name, whether he liked tea or coffee, sunny or rainy days.

 

And in turn, Louis shares his own experiences and thoughts and insecurities with Harry. He pours every part of him into their conversations, all the while struggling to ignore the looming truth, which is the fact that he’s falling more and more every day. Louis recognizes all the signs and that one particular emotion he feels every time he looks at Harry. Only this time, it’s a million times stronger.

 

It’s not until their twelfth day of making acquaintance that Louis completely submits into that feeling though.

 

❀❀❀❀

 

They’re in the meadow, just like any other day, when it happens.

 

Louis is lying against the oak tree with Harry’s head in his lap, struggling to concentrate because the younger boy was sporting a new hairstyle today. He had his hair in two simple pigtail braids, and instead of a flower crown he’s got flowers weaved in his curls. Louis had almost dropped dead when he’d first laid eyes on him that morning and even now, after hours of seeing him like this, he’s still having difficulties forming proper sentences.

 

Meanwhile, the younger boy is busy making another flower crown, this one tinted with lots of blues and reds. He’s listening to Louis though, as he recounts one of his pirate stories. It’s about the time he rescued Tink from Hook and he’s told it to Harry before but the curly-haired boy had asked him to recite it again and who was Louis to deny him that?

 

He’s mid-way through the story when Harry decides to sit up. Louis sends him a questioning look but then he feels the weight of the flower crown on his head and he blinks in surprise. Harry smiles softly at him, and Louis can’t help but flush under his attention.

 

“Perfect,” he whispers. “It looks better than I imagined.”

 

Louis fidgets under his gaze, heart warming at the gesture.

 

“Thank you Harry but we both know flower crowns look best on you,” he laughs, half embarrassed and half flattered.

 

“Nope,” Harry disagrees. “They look much nicer on you.”

 

“Heyyy,” Louis whines, then threatens, “if you don’t stop saying that I’m going to tickle you.”

 

But Harry’s a persistent cheeky bastard, Louis’ found out, and so he continues to taunt Louis.

 

“Louis looks much better than me in a flower crown. Louis looks much better than me in a flower crown,” he chants while clapping like the five-year-old he is. He’s got a cheeky glint in his eyes and he’s clearly fighting off the grin that’s threatening to break over his face.

 

And well, Harry might be persistent, but Louis is a man of his words.

 

“That’s it, you cheeky little bugger.”

 

He pounces on Harry, who shrieks in laughter as Louis pushes him to the ground. They’re both laughing now, the sounds of their chortles filling the air. The younger boy tries to get away but the fact that he’s half-naked from the top doesn’t help. He’s completely vulnerable to Louis’ efforts and so soon enough, he’s squirming and begging for mercy.

 

“Okay—okay—I’m sorry!” he huffs through fits of laughter, writhing relentlessly. “I—I t—take it—back!”

 

Louis stops, satisfied. He looks down at Harry, ready to flaunt his victory, only to realize the proximity of their current position.

                                                                                

He’s practically straddling the younger boy, legs on other side of his chest and hands locked snuggly around his wrists. Harry’s pliant and so pretty underneath him, cheeks flushed and hair on the verge of coming undone. His eyes are sparkling as he looks back at Louis, lips painted with a smile that fades away as he notes their current predicament too.

 

Neither of them moves away though.

 

Louis proceeds to trace the curve of Harry’s eyebrows and eyelashes with his eyes, the arch of his plump mouth. He’s never been able to comprehend just how beautiful Harry is and as he sits there in the meadow, on top of the curly-haired boy, it suddenly hits him.

 

He’s unconditionally, irrevocably, in love with Harry Styles.

 

He loves everything about him; from the way his eyes crinkle when he smiles that big, loud smile to the way he stutters less and less the more he talks. He loves that little freckle by his dimple and that little jut in his chin and he loves making him blush and giggle like a crushing schoolgirl and impressing him with stories about his big adventures as Peter Pan.

 

There isn’t a single part of him that Louis doesn’t love. There isn’t a single part of Louis that wants to leave him.

 

The admission is scary, and relieving, and breathtaking all at once. For the most part, Louis feels a lot lighter, the weight of his denial lifted. He feels drunk and high on it too and so he acts on impulse, letting go of all of his inhibitions and fears and doubts as he leans in and kisses Harry.

 

He kisses Harry.

 

They both stiffen at the action, shocked. A beat passes, their lips still touching, and then Louis’ inhaling sharply and pulling back, panicked, because Harry’s not kissing him back and—shit, he just fucked up so bad—

 

“K—kiss me again. P—please.”

 

It’s barely a whisper but Louis hears it and stills, almost choking as he stares down at Harry. The boy’s cheeks are flushed even more now, his eyes glassy.

 

Louis’ so, so in love with him it hurts.

 

“W—what? I thought—”

 

“J—just. Kiss me again Louis please—

 

And so Louis does. He crashes their lips together and this time, Harry melts into it, kissing him back, albeit shyly. His lips are much softer than Louis ever imagined them to be but it’s perfect, honest and innocent and gentle.

 

Their kiss blossoms like their relationship did, quickly and slowly and then all at once. Louis licks into Harry’s mouth, swallowing down his moans as he presses him into the ground, unconsciously grinding against him. He feels and tastes and breathes Harry, something he’s wanted to do ever since they met, and it’s so so good, having his world finally narrowed down to this beautiful boy.

 

“L—Louis.”

 

Harry’s the first to break away, the need to breathe too strong. He gasps for air as Louis continues to press kisses into his skin, nibbling at the little juncture between his ear and jaw, and committing the pretty sounds he makes into his memory.

 

“L—Louis—oh my God—uh—”

 

Louis pulls away to watch the younger boy writhe under his attention for a second and he almost comes at the sight before him. Harry’s cheeks are impossibly red, his swollen lips parted to release a string of moans. He’s rolling his hips against Louis more insistently now; arms wrapped tight around his neck as he tips his head back in offering. Louis takes the invitation to nip at his soft spotless skin, leaving his mark behind.

 

“Louis—I’m—p—please—I don’t know what—uh—Louis—”

 

Suddenly, Harry’s grip turns impossibly tight and his eyes roll back into his head. He cries out, sounding half pleasured and half scared as he trembles, his hips flush against Louis’.

 

Louis holds him through it, watching with wide eyes as Harry unravels beneath him, so quickly and beautifully and—fuck. The realization that Harry is coming just from kissing and rubbing off against him has Louis almost following in that path.

 

But Harry’s shaking against him, letting out confused little whimpers as he rocks through his aftershocks, and Louis knows he needs him right now. So he wills himself to calm down, pressing soft kisses into Harry’s hair and whispering reassuring words into his skin instead.

 

When Harry’s breathing goes down, Louis pulls away. He pecks him gently on the lips and Harry returns the kiss, but it’s clear that he’s embarrassed.

                                                                                                             

“Harry.” Louis takes his chin in his hand, prompting him to look up. “There’s no need to be embarrassed. What happened was perfectly fine. I was about to as well.”

 

Harry flushes at that, closes his eyes. Eventually, he whispers, “I’ve—I’ve never—”

 

And wait.

 

What?

 

“You—you mean you’ve never…?”

 

“N—no,” Harry confesses, still avoiding eye contact. “I mean I’ve—I’ve—I’ve heard about it but I never actually ever—”

 

Louis can’t hide the shock on his face, nor can he stop it from leaking into his voice as he asks incredulously, “Not even like, by yourself?”

 

Harry shakes his head, looking ashamed and no—no, that isn’t right. He shouldn’t be.

 

“Hey—hey. There’s nothing wrong with that, love,” Louis reassures, cupping his cheeks and making him look him straight in the eyes. “I’m glad I was able to give you that, as long as it was alright with you of course.”

 

Harry nods shyly, closing his eyes when Louis pecks him. The older boy swallows, willing himself not to get hard once again. He didn’t want Harry to think that he had to take care of him just because he got his release, especially now that he knew just how inexperienced and innocent—how much of a virgin—the beautiful boy underneath him really is.

 

“L—Louis?”

 

Louis pulls back reluctantly, already knowing what Harry’s about to say to him from the tone of his voice and he doesn’t want to indulge in that, not yet anyways. Because he can tell by the self-doubt and nervousness in Harry’s eyes that the boy is questioning everything—their relationship, the kiss, them—and Louis really isn’t ready for the rejection, nor is he ready to tell Harry how he really feels about him.

 

He knows putting off this conversation is going to come back to hurt him later but he hushes Harry anyway, pressing a finger to his lips.

 

“We’ll talk about that after, okay? Let’s—let’s get you cleaned up for now, how about that?”

 

He pleads with his eyes, begging Harry not to say anything.

 

The green-eyed boy nods hesitantly, but he still asks, “Once we get back to the hut?”

 

“Once we get back to hut,” Louis reluctantly agrees, leaning down to kiss him again because well, he still can.

 

❀❀❀❀

 

They never do end up talking when they get back to the hut. In fact, they never do get their proper “talk”.

 

Harry passes out—snuggling next to him on the bed for the first time (after a few award-winning pouts on Louis’ behalf of course)—as soon as they get back, and it’s okay, because so does Louis.

 

The fact that they shared a bed and cuddled has Louis waking up with renewed hope and energy though, butterflies in his stomach, ready to tell Harry everything.

 

Only, the curly-haired boy isn’t next to him, nor is he anywhere that is inside the hut for that matter.

 

Instead, there’s breakfast waiting in the pot, a plate gone, a cold empty indent in the bed and well, Louis’ broken heart.

 

❀❀❀❀

 

Harry doesn’t come back until nighttime.

 

Louis spends the morning crying and waiting for him to come back like the pathetic fool he is. He doesn’t bother trying to chase him down though because he knows Harry left to get away from him and Louis respects that decision. His message was bloody clear.

 

By noon, Louis’ tears are dried up and he just sits there, thinking about everything and anything that could have went wrong. He’d known yesterday when he begged Harry not to say anything that he was just digging himself into a hole. He just—he just hadn’t really expected for it to turn out this way.

 

He hadn’t expected Harry to fucking run away.

 

He knows he loves him. That he knows for sure. He also knows he’s willing to fight for him, but if Harry refused him, or straight up told him to leave—after Louis told him how he felt of course—Louis wasn’t going to deny him that. It would hurt him—kill him even—but Harry’s happiness was Louis’ main concern and if that was what it would take to make him happy…well, Louis was just going to have to deal with it.

 

Soon, the sun is setting. Louis paces the hut; worried that Harry was going to go as far as spending the whole night sleeping in the wild just to get away from him. By the time the last strands of light are seeping from the sky, Louis is just about fed up and ready to go out searching for him.

 

In fact, he’s just about to do that when Harry walks in.

 

And well, Louis’ not sure what he was expecting to see but it certainly wasn’t a huge-ass smile and excitement on the younger boy’s face.

 

“Louis!” his kryptonite says. His hair isn’t in braids anymore, and a flower crown is back in place.

 

Louis really isn’t sure how feels about the way he’s acting though. It was as if he hadn’t left Louis alone in bed and—and it fucking hurt, okay?

 

“Louis! I—I figured it out!”

 

And—and what?

 

“I figured the riddle out!” Harry beams, looking proud as hell and Louis—Louis’ about to start screaming. “You can go home now, Lou! I mean, I—I think you can. We won’t know unless you try it!”

 

Louis doesn’t move.

 

He doesn’t speak.

 

He doesn’t breathe.

 

He doesn’t do anything.

 

He just stands there, staring at Harry with a heaving chest. He’s afraid that if he opens his mouth, the ugly wail that’s building up inside of him will be the only noise released. So he just stands there, blinking, and wills himself not to make a sound.

 

Slowly, the smile leaves Harry’s face. He takes in Louis’ prolonged silence and has the nerve to actually look upset.

 

“Louis?”

 

Louis’ torn halfway between crying and kissing his stupid pretty face.

 

“Harry,” he somehow manages to grit out. “I—I don’t want to leave. What part of my rant back in the meadow did you not get?”

 

A flash of something passes over Harry’s face as he stumbles back a step, eyebrows furrowed in confusion. His happy façade is shattered, revealing the scared boy inside.

 

And in that moment, Louis knows.

 

He knows that this was Harry’s way of dealing with his fears, thinking that if he beat Louis to the punch, the separation would be much easier for him.

 

And—and Louis gets it. He knows how insecure Harry’s been his whole life and—and he’s so used to being alone, even before coming here, that he’s waiting for Louis to leave too.

 

So Louis gets it. He really does but it’s frustrating as hell because none of Harry’s fears were remotely close to coming true and he wasn’t going to let his boy off the hook easily—not this time.

 

“I—I thought—” Harry begins but Louis cuts him off, fire pumping in his veins.

 

“No!” he shouts, surprising them both. “You didn’t think, Harry. That’s the fucking problem! You didn’t think when you left this morning and—and it fucking hurt when I woke up alone okay? I—I know I said we’d talk later and we never did but I was going to tell you this morning and—and you weren’t even there.”

 

Louis swallows, tries to calm down but he can’t.

 

“And now—and now you come back to tell me you want me fucking gone. Is—is that what you spent the whole day doing? While I sat here t—thinking about how all I want is—is to be with you for the rest of my fucking life?”

 

Louis breaks off again, this time trembling too hard to go on. He’s angry, and hurt, and too bloody in love with the idiot before him.

 

“I—I thought—I thought you’d want to leave a—after what happened,” Harry quavers, his chin wobbling and confirming what Louis had known to be true. There are no longer any traces of happiness or excitement on his face, only stunned tears and fear.

 

Always fear.

 

“Harry,” Louis groans in frustration, pulling at his hair. “How many times do I have to tell you: I don’t want to leave. I—I love you okay?”

 

He said it. He actually fucking said it.

 

“I fucking love you,” Louis goes on, because he’s got nothing left to lose and if he stops now, he might just pass out. And he’s done plenty of that already. “And yesterday meant the world to me but it clearly didn’t to you—”

 

“That—that’s not true!” Harry wails.

 

“Well I—I love you. I’m in love with you,” Louis repeats desperately, helplessly, wanting more than anything for Harry to just bloody believe him.

 

So he watches as Harry wraps his arms around himself, holding all his broken self-conscious parts the best he can, and sobs. It breaks his heart to see him like this but Louis knows that this is something Harry needs to do. He needs to come to terms with it. So he goes on, determined and frantic to drill the truth in his head.

 

“I love you Harry. I love your long curly hair and your big gangly limbs. I love your cute rosy cheeks and your sinful lips. I love your dimples and your tattoos and the way your big loud laugh fills up the whole room. I love the way you blush half the time and use those ridiculous expressions—wilting flowers and bucketful of thorns—instead of swearing. I love the fact that you wear a skirt made out of flowers and a flower crown on your head. And—and I love how early you get up in the morning and the way you spoil me and make me breakfast in bed. I just—I just fucking love every single part of you and I—I want to wake up every single bloody day of the rest of my life next to you. I don’t want to leave and if it’s going to take me an eternity to convince you of that then—then so be it.”

 

The sounds that are leaving Harry by the end of Louis’ speech hurt. They’re nothing like the shaky sobs he cried back in the meadow. These tears are ugly, loud, heart-wrenching. Louis wants to rush forward and comfort the love of his life but his own heart is beating too fast, the fact that he just fucking poured out his whole bloody soul to Harry and didn’t even know if the younger boy felt the same way freezing him in place.

 

But then Harry’s making grabby hands at Louis, and he’s muttering something indistinguishable through his tears, over and over again.

 

“K—kiss me you fool,” Harry’s bawling, and—fuck, okay. That Louis can do.

 

He scoops him up, kisses him with bruising force, one hand gripping his hip and the other entangling in his hair and tipping his head back. It’s a kiss that hurts, one that speaks of fear and doubt and anguish, of never spoken apologizes on both of their behalves.

 

“I love you I love you I love you,” Louis mutters in between the slide of their tongues, determined to drill it into Harry’s head. “I wish you could see just how beautiful you are because God.”

 

Harry lets out a mix between a sob and a moan at that and he’s such a mess, a beautiful hot mess and Louis loves him so much.

 

Their lips continue to collide again, over and over until they’re not Harry and Louis anymore but HarryandLouis. Somehow, they wind up on the bed, Harry’s legs wrapped around Louis’ hips as they let their tongues do the talking.

 

“You’re so beautiful,” Louis says yet again. It’s all he can fucking say and he’s not going to stop until Harry believes him. “I love you so fucking much angel.”

 

Harry keens, ruts desperately against Louis.

 

“Louis—Louis please—” he breaks off, kissing Louis frantically.

 

But the older boy pulls away, wanting to give him what he’s asking for, whatever it was.

 

“What—what do you want? Tell me and I’ll do it, Harry. I swear it. Even if you want me bloody gone, I’ll do it.”

 

Louis means every single fucking word.

 

“No—no—don’t leave,” Harry moans, shaking his head effusively. His whole body is flushed, his eyes so glassy that Louis’ afraid he’s delirious. His flower crown is still tangled in his hair but it’s all scrunched up now, petals falling everywhere. It’s perfect. He’s perfect. “I—I want you.”

 

Louis groans at that, tucks his face in the crook of Harry’s neck as he wills himself not to come right then and there.

 

“How—how do you want me?” he asks, trembling with the thought.

 

“I want you to take me,” Harry whispers. “All of me.

 

Louis can’t help but pull back, shock evident on his face.

 

“H—Harry, are—are you sure?” he stammers.

 

“Yes, I’m sure,” Harry leans in for a kiss. Louis gives it to him. “I’ve wanted you since the moment I saw you. So please?”

 

Louis fish-mouths at that. He’ll never get over how bloody polite Harry is.

 

“Please Louis please—” Harry’s still begging so Louis kisses him, anything to calm him down.

 

“I—don’t worry baby. I’ve got you,” he hushes, heart beating frantically with the responsibility, the privilege of taking care of Harry. “I’ve got you now okay? Just—let’s take it slow. I want to make sure this is perfect for you.”

 

Harry whimpers at his tone, unable to stop squirming even as Louis slows them down and kisses him tenderly.

 

“Just—just relax Harry. I’ve got you sweetie, don’t worry,” Louis reassures, over and over again until Harry’s complying and completely pliant underneath him.

 

“You’re so, so good. The prettiest flower.”

 

At that, Louis feels Harry twitch beneath him.

 

Interesting.

 

“L—Louis please. I don’t want to come before you—”

 

“Okay flower.”

 

And again, Harry shudders against him.

 

It’s definitely the pet name, Louis thinks smugly, but before he can celebrate his newfound discovery, something else dawns on him.

 

“Do we—do we even have anything to like—I. I don’t want to hurt you.”

 

Harry stills, pausing as he looks at Louis with wide, misty eyes.

 

“I—I think we can use that oily ointment I have,” he says and fuck, he sounds so innocent and tiny when he says it. Louis wants to wreck him but right now, he’s going to take his time exploring him and making sure his first time is memorable. “It’s—it’s right on top of the right shelf, I think.”

 

“Okay just lemme—lemme go grab it.”

 

It’s a struggle to untangle himself from the curly-haired lad but they really do need some sort of lubricant so Louis forces himself to. Harry pouts a bit at the separation, watching as Louis reaches for a bottle and turns to confirm it’s the right one with him.

 

“Is it—is it this one?” he asks.

 

Harry’s a little bit hazy but he recognizes the substance inside so he nods. Louis rushes back to him, laying the bottle down on the side table as he clambers back on top of Harry, kissing him once before pulling back to look him in the eyes.

 

“You’re completely sure about this?”

 

Harry looks back at him with all the trust and love in the world. He still hasn’t said it but Louis can see it in his eyes and for now—for now, that’s enough.

 

“Yes,” he whispers. “I’m sure.”

 

Jerking his hips forward and moaning at the friction, he adds, “Now stop teasing me and do it before I—”

 

“Are you threatening me, Haz?” Louis can’t help but laugh, half amused and half fond. Mostly fond if he was to be honest. “I never thought I’d hear a threat coming out of your pretty little mouth.”

 

“Louis,” Harry whines, pouting.

 

Louis shuts him up by leaning down and suckling on his right nipple.

 

“Y—you’re mean,” Harry can only gasp when Louis pulls away, glaring up at him with the ferocity of a newborn kitten. Louis can’t help but laugh again at that.

 

“That’s what you get for leaving me hanging this morning,” he teases and then repeats the action, loving the way Harry pulls at his hair and pushes his hips into his in response.

 

After a while of relentlessly teasing Harry though, he pulls back, and he can’t help but repeat, “I love you Harry.”

 

He’ll never get tired of saying it.

 

“And I’m going to make you feel so good now, okay?”

 

He doesn’t wait for Harry’s response this time, immediately going to trail kisses down his body, from his eyelids to his jaw to his neck, then down to his chest and nipples—he’s got a soft spot for them and they’re so sensitive so he sucks on them until Harry’s on the verge of coming—and finally to his bellybutton, where he licks at the inked butterfly and watches as it flutters relentlessly against his tongue.

 

He pulls back when he reaches the edge of Harry’s skirt, helping the younger boy sit up and take down the straps holding everything in place. They sneak kisses between every touch, and once the straps are out of the way, Louis pushes Harry back down on the bed and slides into his previous position, smooching the butterfly tattoo once again as he hooks his thumps into the folding of the skirt and pulls down.

 

Harry’s cock springs up immediately and it almost hits Louis in the face. It’s a comical moment and they both giggle, but then Louis wraps his hand around Harry’s length and no one is laughing anymore.

 

Slowly, Louis pumps Harry once, twice, all the while submitting the feel of him to his memory. He’s big, more in length than in girth, his head pink and seeming with precome. His dick is also unabashedly the prettiest Louis’ ever seen in his life, and he’s seen his share of them back on Earth.

 

Louis takes a lick at the pearls of white gathering on the tip of Harry’s cock, humming at the sweet taste that is his boy. In turn, the younger boy bucks up, moaning. Louis holds him down as he continues to suckle at his head, mouth warm and wet, lip ring cool and adding to the sensation.

 

“L—Louis please.”

 

Louis lets go of Harry’s length in favour of nipping away at his thighs, wanting the younger boy to be completely strung out and ready for him when they actually did it. He sucks a mark on the flesh underneath his knees, then further upward, smack in the middle of his thighs, and finally at the cleft between his hips and legs. He’s guilty of taking a swipe at his hole—Harry flinching slightly at the cool of the metal on Louis’ lip—and of loving the way it flutters relentlessly against his tongue.

 

Harry’s so gone by the end of it, hands twisting in the sheets of flowers beneath them and stomach tattoos stained with a growing pool of precome that Louis can’t help but take pity on him.

 

“I’m gonna open you up now, okay darling?” Louis announces once he’s done teasing. Harry looks like he’s on the verge of crying, mostly in relief.

 

“Yes please. I’ve been waiting for ages.”

 

Louis can’t help but smile at that. Now that he has Harry right where he wants him—desperate and just the right amount of needy—he reaches for the ointment. He also revels in how naked and malleable Harry is beneath him, drinking in his bare body as a whole.

 

“You’re so, so beautiful,” he whispers in awe, eating up the bashful blush that creeps on Harry’s face. “My beautiful, pretty little flower.”

 

Harry bites his bottom lip at that, eyes shining as Louis cups his face and pecks him lightly. His hands trail up to rest on Louis’ waist, and he’s so, so pretty that Louis wants to cry.

 

“I love you,” Louis doesn’t wait for a reply but he accepts the sharp intake of breath as one. He steps back, taking out the cork from the bottle, but before he can do anything with it, Harry’s sitting up and intertwining their hands.

 

“Wait,” he says softly, looking nervous. “Can you—can you take off your clothes too? I—I want to see you please.”

 

Louis kisses Harry in compliance, putting down the bottle and giving the younger boy the go when he sets his hands on the hem of Louis’ shirt in question. Harry pulls the top off, maps out Louis’ chest with trembling hands and a warm mouth. Louis’ still got bandages on his arms but right now, he doesn’t even feel any discomfort at moving so hastily. Being with Harry took any pain off his mind.

 

“You’re so gorgeous, Lou,” Harry whispers and Louis can’t help but blush. “I’m—I’m so lucky to have you.”

 

When Harry sits back, Louis takes that as a sign to clamber off the bed and take his pants off. He’s not wearing any undies under—neither was Harry for that matter—and so he stands there, in all his naked glory like the day he was born. He feels a spark of self-consciousness when Harry ogles at him but it’s gone as soon as he sees the continued lust in the curly-haired boy’s eyes, the unspoken soft love.

 

Lathering up three of his fingers with their substitute for lube, Louis goes back to the bed. Harry’s got his legs pulled up to his chest by the time he’s done, every bit of him on display for Louis.

 

Louis kisses him fondly, lovingly, still not believing he was getting Harry like this as he circles his hole lightly with his pointer finger. It feels so small and puckered underneath him that Louis’ afraid to breech it.

 

“You ready sweetheart?”

 

He looks at Harry, who nods.

 

And then, with a trembling breath, he pushes in.

 

Harry’s mouth opens, but no sound comes out. He’s extremely tight around Louis’ single digit, his breathing quickening as Louis slowly begins to wiggle his finger around. Little whimpers leave his mouth and soon enough, he’s squirming and bucking his hips for more.

 

Lou—Lou—uh—please,” he babbles. “Please.

 

“I’ve got you angel, I’ve got you,” Louis reassures as he complies, squeezing in another finger.

 

He stretches Harry out slowly, carefully, taking his time and committing the pretty sounds he makes to memory. He avoids hitting his spot for now, wanting to save it up for later. He makes sure he talks the younger boy through it though, showering him with compliments and encouragements as he opens him up.

 

By the time Harry’s ready and loosened enough to take Louis, there’s a decent-sized pool of milky white on his stomach. But Louis’ leaking too, all over Harry’s legs and sheets.

 

“Louis—ah—I’m ready. Please, please I’m ready.”

 

Louis pulls his fingers out, slicks himself up. They’ve used almost all the ointment, but right now, neither of them cares.

 

He slides his hands to cup Harry’s face, making sure the boy is looking at him as he reminds him once more.

 

“I love you Harry.”

 

He’s not quite expecting it when Harry recuperates the sentiment.

 

“I love you too, Louis.”

 

Louis’ breath hitches. His heart stops.

 

“I love you so, so much and—“ Harry’s voice cracks, “and I’m sorry. For pushing you away this whole time.”

 

Louis’ throat is closing up so he blinks, wills himself not to cry. Harry’s looking at him with honest, forlorn eyes, his long fingertips tracing Louis’ features. Gradually, Louis sinks into the touch, closing his eyes and revelling in the moment.

 

“I love you Harry,” he repeats, because that’s what he feels and tastes and breathes and that’s all he can say over and over again, “I love you I love you I love you.”

 

“Then show me,” Harry begs, legs shuffling against Louis’ waist. “Make love to me.”

 

And so Louis does.

 

He scoops Harry’s legs up in his arms, hooks them around his waist and maintains eye contact as he very, very slowly pushes in.

 

Time stops.

 

The night stills.

 

Harry’s eyes flutter shut and he clenches involuntarily around Louis’ head.

 

“F—fuck.”

 

It’s the first time Louis’ heard Harry swear and shit—it’s so hot and dirty that he has difficulties not jerking forward and burying himself to the hilt in response.

 

He doesn’t though. Instead, he remains motionless, watching Harry for any signs of discomfort.

 

“Fuck Louis—you feel so good—please please more. I can take it,” Harry pleads.

 

Louis can only swallow, steeling himself against the swollen heat of Harry’s love as he inches in the rest of the way slowly.

 

It’s silent when he finally bottoms out. Harry’s eyes are closed again and Louis gives him the time he needs to adjust, only moving when those gorgeous emeralds are staring right back at him.

 

They move like the pull and give of the sea, their bodies crashing and colliding in a growing rhythm. Harry’s arms wrap around Louis’ neck, his legs around Louis’ waist. He shakes and trembles with every thrust, letting out tiny little uh’s and ah’s as Louis fucks into him.

 

It doesn’t take him long to find Harry’s spot—the jerking of his knees and curling of his toes cuing him in—and when he does, he doesn’t stop showering it with attention. Harry turns even louder in turn, beautifully vocal as he whimpers with each pull and keens with each push.

 

“You’re doing so well baby. Making me feel so good. So tight and hot and perfect. I love you Harry, so fucking much,” Louis mumbles over and over again.

 

They make love in the dark, the sea crashing in the distance and the moon seeping quietly through the cracks.

 

Needless to say, it’s perfect and gentle and passionate and when they’re close, it turns hungry and desperate but never stops being honest.

 

“Louis—oh—I’m gonna—I’m gonna—oh—

 

Harry comes first, nails raking down Louis’ back and hole clenching sporadically around him as he shudders, mouth wide open and eyebrows furrowed—the most beautiful sight Louis’ ever laid eyes on. Louis fucks him through it until he can’t anymore and then he’s coming too, with a muffled moan and juddering limps, hips twitching and nerves shaking.

 

When it’s over, Harry’s legs slide down his arms in exhaustion. Louis goes to pull out, but he’s met with a protesting Harry as the younger boy tightens his hold around Louis’ waist. The older of the two doesn’t say anything. He just peppers Harry’s hair and shoulders with love, the two of them listening to the sound of their hearts beating together, fast and lively and furious.

 

They sit like that for what could have been minutes or hours or days. Time doesn’t exist when they’re together, it never did. Eventually though, their limbs get sticky with sweat and come and Louis has to pull out, hushing Harry when he whines and pouts sleepily. There’s water in the bowl by the nightstand and a roll of clean bandages so Louis cleans them up, throwing the dirty rags to the side when he’s done to cuddle Harry.

 

The younger boy had turned into a pliant pile of mush the instant he’d come so right now, he’s extremely affectionate. Louis doesn’t complain though because that’s what he’s wanted since the beginning. He wraps his arms around Harry, coddling him, his front pressed to his back. Their limbs fit like a puzzle piece, and it’s nice, holding Harry in his arms like this.

 

It’s silent for a long time. They haven’t really said a word since they came but Louis understands that that’s what Harry needs right now. He trails his hands up and down his arms, pressing butterfly kisses into his hair and neck until Harry’s breathing softens and Louis can’t hold it in anymore.

 

“Will you be here in the morning?”

 

He can’t help it. Everything had turned out to be perfect but he still isn’t sure if this would turn out to be a repeat of yesterday. He prays to God it wouldn’t.

 

Harry turns to look at him immediately, a frown twisting his face.

 

“Of course Lou,” he says, voice laced with sadness and complete honesty. Louis loves it when he calls him that. “I’m never going to leave you again.”

 

“Promise?”

 

Louis feels like a twelve-year-old again but he needs this. He needs the confirmation and the reassurance from Harry.

 

“I promise,” Harry affirms, twisting his neck back for a kiss. “I love you.”

 

Reassured, Louis smiles and snuggles further into him. He doesn’t know what will exactly happen tomorrow but he knows that no matter what, they love each other and that they were going to figure something out, that, if fear seized Harry again, Louis would be there to reassure him of the truth.

 

So he whispers it back, private and only for Harry to hear in the dead of the night.

 

“I love you too.”

 

❀❀❀❀

 

He wakes up sore—a good kind of sore—with blurry eyes and a dried mouth. He can immediately feel the body next to him, bare skin flush against his. Harry feels himself blush as he remembers the turnout of last night’s events, the soft kisses and whispered words.

 

He can’t believe it but the evidence is there; on his skin, in the soreness of his muscles, and in the body wrapped around him. Still, he struggles to come to terms with the fact that Louis is in love with him.

 

But he felt it. If anything, Harry knows he felt it last night when they’d made love, when Louis had taken his time to make sure Harry had the best experience possible.

 

And he did.

 

He really, really did. It was everything and more than what he’d pictured and wanted since the beginning.

 

Turning around, Harry takes advantage of his typical early rise to mentally sketch Louis’ features in privacy. He traces the pretty curve of his eyebrows, the fanning of his eyelashes, the cute button of his nose, and the way his thin lips are parted in breath, bottom layer pierced.

 

He’s utterly stunning, his boy, and Harry still can’t quite believe that Louis remotely wants to associate with him, never mind love him.

 

That’s why he ran away, yesterday that is. That nasty voice in his head wouldn’t stop whispering to him, over and over again, that Louis wanted to leave, that he would tell Harry they needed to get back to thinking about the riddle again when he woke up.

 

So with the fear and doubt and the ever-persistent voice in his head, Harry had decided to beat Louis to it, slipping away into the meadow to try and figure out the answer to the Script. It had taken him the whole day but then it had dawned on him—just as the sun was setting and different memories involving a certain tattooed redhead played in his head—that it was love.

 

He was so sure of it, so sure that it was the answer to everything—that it was what Louis wanted to hear—that he’d rushed back, feeling happy to have at least helped Louis out a little.

 

But Louis wasn’t happy, or remotely impressed for that matter. Harry can’t remember his full speech but random words have stuck to his mind, phrases like “I love your dimples” and “I want to wake up every single bloody day of the rest of my life next to you”.

 

Harry still didn’t believe Louis when he said he didn’t want to go back home though. He knew that at least a tiny bit of Louis longed to be out of here and back with the lads.

 

But Harry’s selfish, and he’s so in love with Louis that he’s willing to believe the lie. He loves him, with every fibre of his being. He’s loved Louis ever since that day back in the meadow, back when he was given that first long and glorious speech, and he’d had a crush on him ever since Hook kidnapped him and the pirates told him about the infamous Peter Pan.

 

Harry blushes thinking about it, and before he knows it, his thoughts are trailing back to last night as well. He can’t deny the pool of heat he feels, looking at Louis and remembering the way he took care of him just a few hours ago. He wants to return the favour, have Louis be the centre of attention this time around.

 

And well, it’s weird that he’s being turned on by something like this but Harry has always been the kind of person who found romantic gestures arousing.

 

Before he can muster up enough courage to do anything though, Louis’ eyes are opening and he’s blinking sleepily down at him. He looks adorable, peeks of sunrise illuminating strands of his red hair, turning them into bright orange. When he sees that Harry’s awake and staring right back, he smiles, a gentle beautiful smile that reminds Harry of a breeze drifting over the meadow.

 

“Morning,” Louis says, voice still gruff from sleep. It makes Harry’s cock twitch and okay—maybe he needs to calm down a little.

 

“Morning,” he greets back, blushing. He’s always hated how responsive his body is, flushing at the smallest of things. “Sleep well?”

 

“Mhm. Of course I did. You were right next to me,” Louis’ eyes glint eloquently, knowing how corny he just sounded.

 

“You’re so cheesy,” Harry makes sure to tell him anyway, but he’s smiling nonetheless.

 

“That I am,” Louis agrees, leaning in for a kiss. “But you loooove it. And you loooove me.”

 

Harry giggles at that, opening his mouth and giving Louis access when he’s prodded with a tongue. He moans, and the way his dick fills up at a mere kiss is honestly just ridiculous.

 

“Love you,” Louis pants when they break off for air and Harry can’t help but preen at the confession. Louis’ said it a million times by now but it hits Harry every time.

 

“Love you too.”

 

They stay like that for a while, just holding onto each other. Harry trails his fingers over Louis’ skin, admiring the way his muscles ripple underneath his touch and the way he’s stained with ink. He can’t twiddle down the hunger he feels for him though, not even when his arse throbs, reminding him of last night’s activities.

 

And well, Harry might not be able to take Louis again just yet but he certainly could do something else that he’s been thinking about for quite some time now…

 

“Lou,” he pipes up randomly. Louis hums in response, letting him know he’s listening. “Can I—can I please give you a blowjob?”

 

Louis’ reaction is funny to say the least. His whole body jerks up, his hold tightening around Harry as if he’s been shocked. A long whine sounds as he turns to look at Harry with wide blue eyes, shock and lust both evident on his face.

 

“Harry,” he groans. “You’re—you’re going to be the end of me.”

 

Harry grins, even more when he notices Louis’ eyes dropping to the dimple flexing his cheek.

 

“Is that a yes then?” he wiggles his eyebrows, feeling rather ridiculous and silly all at once but he’s comfortable, always comfortable with Louis.

 

Louis laughs, shaking his head in disbelief. “Of course you noodle. As long as you’re sure?”

 

Harry loves how gentle and sweet Louis is with him, always making sure he’s okay with everything before they do it. However, he kind of wants Louis to be rough with him right now, but he’s also too scared to voice the thought out loud so he doesn’t say anything.

 

Instead, he pushes Louis so that he’s on top of him, ignoring the way his raw muscles scream in protest. It’s worth it when he sees the look on Louis’ face though, and even more when he sits back, feeling his warm length slip between his cheeks.

 

“H—Harry.” It's Louis’ turn to pout with pleading eyes. “S—stop teasing.”

 

Harry rocks his hips in retaliation, leaning down to nibble on Louis’ bottom lip—right where his piercing was—because he’s been wanting to do that for a long time and now he can. Louis moans into his mouth, hips jerking and making them both gasp as he rubs further against Harry’s tender hole.

 

“O—okay I’m done teasing,” Harry reluctantly admits as he falls victim to the sensation. He clambers off clumsily, feeling undeniably nervous as he fumbles for a comfortable position. Louis helps him ease into one in which he winds up lying between parted legs, head mere inches from Louis’ cock.

 

Harry hadn’t had time to examine the older boy properly yesterday so he does it now, taking in the pretty curve of his half-hard length and the grand size of him. And really, he’s not surprised because the visual matches up with the throbbing in his arse.

 

“Harry, you—you don’t have to do this if you—” Louis begins, apparently noticing Harry’s nerves. The younger boy cuts him off though because he wants this. He’s just nervous he’ll bite Louis off by accident or something. After all, he had zero experience; only knowledge gathered from too-loud classmates back on Earth and that was barely anything.

 

“I want to Louis,” he says, peering up at him from beneath his lashes. He doesn’t miss the way Louis’ breath hitches at that, and it’s nice, having this kind of control over someone. “I’m just—I’m sorry if I suck. No um—no pun intended.”

 

Louis barks out a fond laugh at that, carding a callused hand through Harry’s bare hair. His flower crown is amiss, somewhere between their sheets and too irrelevant to worry about at the moment.

 

“You won’t babe,” Louis assures. “Would it—would it make it easier for you if I guided you through it?”

 

Harry can’t help but squirm at that, the idea leaving him hotter.

 

“Um—that—that would be great,” he breathes and somehow, he manages to add, “But just like c—can you tell me how um—how I’m doing?”

 

He blushes furiously at his own words, not knowing if Louis would understand what he meant at all.

 

“You mean like last night when I called you flower and stuff?”

 

Harry feels like he’s boiling with the intensity of his blush but he nods shyly, peeking to catch a glimpse of Louis’ reaction to that. The older boy is merely smiling, looking proud as he continues to card his fingers through Harry’s hair.

 

“That’s perfectly fine kitten,” he says and Harry ducks his head at the nickname, cock blurting out a guilty stream of precome. “I’m definitely on board with that. I love you, okay?”

 

Harry looks up, green meeting blue.

 

“Love you too.”

 

Taking a shaky breath, he decides to get started by wrapping a trembling hand around Louis’ length, tentatively pumping him into full hardness. It doesn’t take him long—just two strokes—and once he’s got Louis hot and heavy in his hands, Harry moves in to press a gentle kiss on his head, licking at the beads of precome crowning the top and committing his taste to memory.

 

Louis moans above him, legs shifting as he turns to watch Harry with hooded lids, fingers still entangled in his chocolate curls.

 

“That’s really good babe. Feel s—so good.”

 

Encouraged, Harry slides his mouth further down Louis’ length, throat muscles fluttering as he struggles for a fraction to stretch them wide open. He sucks hard on his way back up, one hand still wrapped around Louis’ base and the other resting on his thigh. He pumps Louis a few times, then repeats; this time managing to swallow him half way down.

 

“You’re doing s—so well darling,” Louis pants, voice a pitch higher than usual. He sounds so on edge and Harry loves it. He likes feeling in control but knowing that at the end, Louis still had the upper hand. The grip on his hair is a constant reminder of that. “Look so good with that beautiful mouth of yours wrapped around my cock.”

 

Harry can’t help but preen at the compliment, throat opening a little bit more to fit all of Louis on the next bob of his head. He stays there for a few seconds, humming around the stretch of his jaw and only gagging slightly when Louis involuntarily bucks his hips up and hits the back of his throat.

 

“Fucking hell, Harry!” Louis shouts, pulling at a fistful of the younger boy’s hair and in turn pulling him off his dick. Harry whines in protest, helpless to the tingling in his spine and the blurt of precome that spurts out at the delicious pain.

 

“S—sorry,” Louis’ apologizing but Harry shakes his head, glancing at him from beneath his lashes again.

 

“I liked it,” he rasps, his voice already so fucked. He can see how much Louis likes the fact and well, he’d be lying if he said he didn’t either. “Do it again.”

 

He doesn’t wait for a response. Instead, he wraps his mouth back around Louis’ cock and sinks all the way back down. He closes his eyes as he stills and swallows, spit gathering around Louis’ base. But then Louis fucks up into him again and it’s so hot because he forces Harry’s mouth to open a bit as he glides against his tongue in harsh strokes.

 

Harry opens his eyes to look at Louis and he can’t imagine how obscene he must look, with a stretched jaw and glassy eyes and flushed cheeks, mouth stuffed full of cock. The thought has his own dick twitching and he moans, sending vibrations throughout Louis’ length.

 

“Fuck H—Harry—” the older boy gasps; thrusting sporadically a few times and making Harry gag again. He slows down to make sure Harry’s okay, even though the younger boy didn’t pull away. Harry blinks up at him, willing Louis to understand that he was still on board.

 

Louis being Louis however, takes his time to wipe away the tears that have gathered under Harry’s eyes and to run his hands through his curly hair. It’s such a sweet tender moment between the dirtiness of what they’re doing that Harry feels his chest expand, his heart picking up pace with the love he feels for the red-haired boy before him.

 

But then Louis fucks into his mouth again, this time a bit harsher and with a tighter grip. It startles Harry but he keeps his eyes open, letting the older boy use him as he studies the way Louis’ facial expressions change to tell a story. It’s a beautiful feeling; knowing that he was making someone he loved feel so good.

 

“Harry—I’m gonna—I’m gonna—”

 

Suddenly, Louis’ coming, back arching and toes curling as waves of pleasure crash over him. Having been unprepared and shocked at the spurt of liquid hitting the back of his throat, Harry pulls back and in turn, winds up getting painted with ribbons of white.

 

The splash of warm liquid on his face has Harry coming too, quick and sharp and untouched, mouth opening in pleasure as bits of Louis’ come continue to land on his eyebrows, one strip on his eyelashes, another in his mouth and the rest on his cheeks.

 

He keeps jerking Louis off through both of their orgasms, watching through hazy eyes as the older boy’s cock shudders to a stop. He leans down and licks the residue from Louis’ head when he’s done, pulling away only when Louis reaches out a hand from oversensitivity.

 

“Jesus Harry,” Louis gasps, moving up to cradle the younger boy’s face in his hands. He’s still got a load on his face and he feels a bit fuzzy as Louis wipes a hand over his brow, smearing at the come there. “You were so perfect little flower. You did so, so well. Thank you. Love you.”

 

He kisses Harry—who’s pliant and soft in his arms—as he continues to smooth his come over his face. The younger boy shudders when he feels Louis dig his thumb into his dimple.

 

“So beautiful little rose,” Louis whispers, staring intently as he rubs at the crater in Harry’s cheek. Harry dimples at that, as soft as a newborn kitten, but inhales sharply when Louis leans down to lick at the dent; teeth grazing the flesh there and lip ring warm against his cooling skin. “The loveliest flower, you are.”

 

When he pulls back, Harry nuzzles into his neck, body sinking into Louis’ as they cuddle. Louis runs a hand through Harry’s hair while the green-eyed boy simply blinks, fighting off the wave of sleep threatening to take over him.

 

“Sorry for not pulling away and not warning you earlier,” Louis says gently after a while, breaking the silence.

 

“’s okay I liked it,” Harry mumbles, voice scratchier than before. “And you taste good. Sweet.”

 

Harry feels Louis’ chest shake with laughter.

 

“Must be all the fruits you’ve been feeding me,” he jokes.

 

“Maybe,” Harry giggles and Louis lands a light spank on his bum in retaliation. Harry’s only comeback is to squeal and squirm, then giggle some more.

 

“Let’s get cleaned up, yeah?” Louis murmurs into his ear after another pause, kissing at his hair.

 

“Only if you carry me,” Harry pouts, too lazy and sated to move. He hopes Louis will decide he’d rather keep lying here and not move as well, especially since his shoulder wasn’t completely healed yet.

 

“Of course princess. What kind of boyfriend do you think I am?”

 

At that, Harry shoots up, turning to look at Louis with wide, hopeful eyes.

 

“B—boyfriend?” he echoes.

 

Louis looks nervous but his voice doesn’t waver as he explains, “I know no one is around so it’s not technically necessary but is it okay if I call you that? Boyfriend, that is?”

 

Harry can only nod through the glaze of tears in his eyes and the sudden lodge in the back of his throat. Their lips meet in a chaste kiss and when Harry pulls back, he smirks playfully, asking in a faux demanding tone, “Now take me away Mister! You promised me a lift and it’s your fault I’m so sore anyways.”

 

Louis’ laughing though, pecking Harry slightly as he sits up.

 

“That I did little flower but you certainly weren’t complaining last night,” he points out.

 

“I have no idea what you're talking about,” Harry singsongs but suddenly, he's being lifted into the air, a squeak escaping him as Louis hauls him over his uninjured shoulder and runs out the door, sand kicking in his wake.

 

“Lou!” Harry exclaims through fits of laughter. He hadn’t thought Louis would actually go through with it. “Your shoulder—”

 

He's interrupted by a sharp slap to his bum that causes him to lose his breath and okay—he might be a bit into pain.

 

“Is perfectly fine kitten,” Louis supplies, patting his bum. They're right by the shore now, wet sand inches away from Harry’s face and he should’ve known Louis would do it but he doesn't realize it until it's too late.

 

“Now flower, let me refresh your memory.”

 

And with that, he dunks Harry into the water.

 

❀❀❀❀

 

They end up fooling around on the beach until the afternoon sun is hot and blazing down on them. Harry's face hurts from grinning so much by the time they head back inside, skin drying in the heat. They get dressed—Harry in a replica skirt and Louis in an outfit Harry had made him a while back—and when they’re done, Harry sets out to make them a late breakfast, Louis distracting him with stolen kisses and embracing arms.

 

Now, if someone had told Harry just a few weeks ago that he would be cooking in the arms of his long-time crush in the near future, he would’ve laughed in their face.

 

In fact, if someone had even remotely suggested that he’d be meeting his long-time crush, he wouldn’t have believed them for a second.

 

But of course, with Harry’s knack of being sucked into abnormal situations, that’s exactly what happened.

 

And, with Harry’s knack of losing everyone he cares about, that’s exactly what happens next.

 

Because everything’s fine and perfect and bright and happy but Harry should’ve known better. He shouldn't have let his guard down. He shouldn’t have forgotten his discovery from yesterday.

 

It happens when they're eating.

 

Louis’ sitting down cross-legged on the carpet, taking his plate from Harry graciously and thanking him with a peck on the lips. Harry turns around to ladle up his own serving but when he turns back, he's met with the sight of a floating Louis, one who is still cross-legged but no longer seated on the ground.

 

It feels like a bucketful of icy water has just been dunked on Harry’s head.

 

He’d forgotten about the riddle, about the answer he came up with last night. He hadn’t known it worked, seeing as how Louis never tested it, but now, with Louis floating, Harry knows he was right. He knows he solved the riddle, that Louis could fly now, and that he was going to leave.

 

Oh bucketful of thorns, he was going to leave.

 

Mouth dry and skin pale, Harry swallows, feels his eyes tearing up and wilting flowers, he hates himself for ever letting his guard down because he knew this would happen. He knew it would and yet he still chose to believe him and Louis were going to last forever.

 

“Harry?” Louis’ eyebrows are furrowed, his face one of concern. Harry can’t do this. “What’s wrong?”

 

Everything, Harry wants to scream but nothing comes out. He takes a shaky breath, but he can feel his bones tremble, can hear that voice mocking him for being so damn stupid.

 

I told you he would leave, it says. He can fly now and he’s going to want to see his friends. He won’t stay for you. You got kidnapped for a reason. You were chosen to be the first resident of Aeternus for a reason. You are meant to be alone.

 

“Flower?”

 

Louis isn’t even aware that he’s flying and no—Harry can’t do this.

 

“You’re scaring m—”

 

Harry runs. He drops the dish in his hand and he runs, out of the hut, with no destination in mind, just away from Louis.

 

Everything hurts—his body and mind and heart—and he’s no longer holding in the waterworks because ugly sobs are escaping his mouth in fistfuls. He can faintly hear Louis shouting after him, but he can’t stop. He doesn’t want to be there when Louis leaves.

 

Just as he’s about to hit the water, a pair of arms wrap around his waist and his back is pressed to a familiar chest. Panicked, he tries to get away, but Louis just won’t let go. He can’t make out any of the words he’s saying, not until Louis’ turning him around and forcing him to look him in the eyes. Harry feels a quick calm rush over him, but it’s gone as soon as he remembers that he won’t be seeing that face again.

 

“Harry,” Louis’ speaking softly, like someone would to an injured deer. “Please don’t do this again. Please don’t push me away. You told me you wouldn’t do it anymore so talk to me. What happened? Why did you—what’s going on?”

 

Harry feels a fresh wave of tears flood his eyes and he breaks away from Louis’ embrace, wrapping his own arms around himself because that’s all he has now. That’s all he’ll have for the rest of his never-ending life.

 

“Harry please—I don’t know what I did wrong why are you—”

 

“You can fly Louis,” it comes out as a fraction of a shout. Harry doesn’t look up at Louis as he goes on. “You—you can fly again. I was right yesterday—the answer really was love but—but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that you can fly.”

 

“What—”

 

Harry’s face snaps up and he turns to fix Louis with a glare. It dissipates the instant he sees his face though because Louis looks so lost and hurt. But he’s also floating. He’s not touching the bloody ground and it’s like a slap to Harry’s face, a slap that assures him that this really is happening.

 

“You—you’re not even standing Louis. You’re—you’re f—floating right now too,” Harry points out, eyes fixed on Louis’ feet.

 

He can tell the instant Louis realizes he can fly because he hears the sharp intake of breath and watches as Louis tests it, floating upwards and then coming back to rest his feet on the sand.

 

“H—I—I don’t—I don’t understand—”

 

“Love grows and blooms but it also dies and wilts,” Harry whispers. He knows Louis’ looking at him again but he can’t look back, not when everything is crashing and burning around them. “It’s just like a flower in that way but it’s not innocent; it sins. It can also solve a lot of unnecessary stupid drama since it’s what the heart craves. And as for the last part, I guess we had to be in love for it to work. It worked because we said I love you.”

 

The last part is what hurts the most, the fact that by saying I love you, Harry had caused his own heartbreak. The selfish part of him regrets ever solving the riddle, whispers at him that it’s his own fault this was happening but he knows now that even if he hadn’t figured the riddle out the previous evening, Louis would have been able to fly anyway because Harry said it back. He told Louis how he felt about him and that was something he would never regret.

 

“The riddle was wrong about one thing though,” Harry adds bitterly then, as something dawns on him. “Love isn’t aeternus. It’s not forever.”

 

He doesn’t get to go on because there’s a hand lifting his face back up again and he doesn’t fight it. The fight is gone from him. He’s just tired at this point, wants to get this over with.

 

Green meets blue and Harry hates how sad Louis looks because of him. He shouldn’t be sad. He should be happy because he’s leaving and going back to his friends, but of course Harry had to make this about him.

 

“Harry,” Louis begins, cautious as ever. “I—I don’t know how many times I have to tell you I’m not leaving you for you to understand that I’m not leaving you. I can fly now. So what? It’s—don’t get me wrong it’s great and awesome and I’ve missed it but—but it doesn’t change a bloody thing about us. It doesn’t change how I feel about you. I still love you and I still want to be with you and I’m still staying. My ability to fly has nothing to do with us.”

 

He’s lying, the voice pipes up immediately. Harry closes his eyes, forever torn between the two sides. He’s just saying this now but in a few days, you’ll wake up to him gone. He’ll get bored of you just like your friends did back on Earth. Save yourself the trouble and send him away now.

 

“Harry please say something. I’m—I love you okay? I’m not leaving—”

 

“You should though,” Harry interrupts, voice a dying whisper. He opens his eyes and looks Louis straight in the eyes. “I—you should go back to Neverland. The lads miss you and—and I—”

 

“Harry no.”

 

Harry can see Louis getting riled up, offence clear on his face.

 

“That’s not—I told you I’m not going back—”

 

Do it, the voice murmurs. Save yourself and just do it.

 

“But what if I told you I wanted you to leave?”

 

There. He said it. The damage is done.

 

Louis looks like he’s been slapped in the face.

 

“W—what? Harry don’t be rid—”

 

“No Louis. This is the truth. I want you to be happy and I don’t want you to stay here with me because you feel obliged to for some unknown reason when I know you miss Neverland and your real life and just—I—we both know you m—miss the lads and they miss you too so you need to go. I—I—I need you to leave,” Harry babbles, throat burning with dishonesty.

 

“You—you don’t mean that—”

 

“Yes—yes I do Louis. I want you gone. I don’t want you here,” Harry repeats, forcing himself to say it over and over again until he believes it himself. He made his decision and he has to go through with it now.

 

“Is this because of your stupid fear of being left alone?” Louis suddenly shouts. He’s pissed now, frustrated, and Harry feels like he’s swallowed a thousand thorns but he needs to do this. It’s too late to go back anyway. “God Harry I don’t get what I have to do to make you believe me when I say I don’t want to leave!”

 

“Nothing you ever say or do will make me believe that Louis!” Harry hollers back, shaking noticeably. “This is what I want. I want you to leave please,” he pleads.

 

“I—I can’t—Harry, look me straight in the eyes and tell me you want me gone forever, that you don’t love me and I’ll do it,” Louis demands and no—Harry can’t do that. “I swear I’ll do it. I’ll leave and never come back if you say it.”

 

“I—I can’t—” Harry whimpers. “I do love you—”

 

“But you want me gone forever?” Louis is onto something, the fire clear in his eyes. “Let me get this straight—if I left right now, would you feel better?”

 

Harry’s heartbeat picks up. The no is on the tip of his tongue but he swallows it down.

 

“Y—yes.”

 

He chokes over the word as it burns on its way out of his throat.

 

“Okay,” Louis mumbles. “Okay.”

 

He paces back and forth a few times, the line of his shoulder defeated. Harry watches with blurry vision as Louis pauses randomly at one point and turns back around, clutching at Harry’s face and staring him straight in the eyes.

 

“I’ll leave,” he says, and it hurts. Harry’s the one who pushed him away and he has no right to feels this way but it hurts. It hurts to hear him say it after denying it for so long. “I’ll go back to Neverland and I’ll go see the lads because that’s what you want right? That’s—that’s what you want, or at least that’s what you’re pretending to want and at this point, I think it’s the only thing that will calm you down.”

 

A tear slips down his face and Harry hates himself because they’re both hurting right now and he’s just—he ruined everything and he’s so stupid but he can’t bring himself to say it. He can’t formulate the words that would get Louis to stay.

 

“But,” Louis continues, taking a shuddering breath. “I’ll be back Harry. I’m coming back whether you like it or not because you’re—you’re stuck with me now and I know you love me and I love you because if that wasn’t real—if we weren’t real—the spell or whatever wouldn’t have been broken and I’m—I’m only leaving because that’s what you want. I want you to remember that. I’m doing this for you.”

 

He kisses Harry then, hard and bruising and yielding and Harry melts into it, clutching desperately at Louis’ wrists because this is his last time to do so and he knows it’ll hurt him to remember this but he wants the memories. He doesn’t ever want to forget Louis.

 

Too soon, the kiss winds down to a frail touch, soft and sad. They’re both holding on tightly now because they know that when they break apart, Louis will be on his way.

 

But Harry has no one to blame but himself. He knows Louis’ not coming back. His promises and reasoning don’t stick with Harry because he knows that once Louis went back to Neverland, he’d realize that he didn’t want to come back and Harry can’t get his hopes up again. He just can’t.

 

With that thought in mind, Harry forces himself to pull away. He wants to get this over with. He’s tired of holding on to the last threads of hope so he lets go of Louis, takes a step back and wraps his arms back around himself.

 

The message is clear: it’s time for Louis to go.

 

But Louis isn’t done yet.

 

“I’ll be back Harry. I promise,” he repeats, and Harry can hear the underlying beg in his tone.

 

But he only closes his eyes, turns away.

 

“Stop making promises you’re not going to keep,” he wobbles. “Just go already.”

 

“I mean it Harry, I will be back,” Louis tries again and Harry can feel the ghost of his touch on his skin. It’s what causes him to snap.

 

“Just go already!” he shouts, his voice cracking. “Stop dragging this on and go! Just leave!”

 

The waves crash once, twice, and then—

 

“O—okay.”

 

Harry hears Louis swallow and he readies himself for the inevitable, but it’s a futile attempt because the words still affect him like they did when he first heard them yesterday.

 

God, that was only yesterday?

 

“I love you.”

 

Say it back.

 

It's not the nasty voice this time. It’s just Harry’s mind and heart and body telling him to do so.

 

Say it back.

 

The words get stuck in his throat though. Harry can’t say them and Louis can’t stay a second longer.

 

“Goodbye for now then flower.”

 

The next time Harry looks up, it’s to an empty beach and a clear sky.

 

Louis is gone, but so is Harry’s heart.

 

❀❀❀❀

 

Life after Louis is nothing, Harry discovers.

 

He wanders around the island, the shell of a being without him, only capable of remembering and hurting. Every place he goes he’s assaulted with memories.

 

Louis lingers in every crevice of Aeternus; his laugh echoes in the meadow and his whistling dawdles in the waterfall, his smell lingers on Harry’s bed and his imprint is seared onto his skin. There isn’t a place Harry can go to forget but the thing is, Harry doesn’t want to forget. Louis was the best thing that happened to him and even though they ended badly, Harry would always cherish every moment they spent together.

 

The ache in his chest doesn’t dwindle down with time though. In fact, it grows bigger and bigger with each passing minute. Harry can’t remember how he went about his days before Louis had washed up on shore.

 

Louis, with his stupid red hair and excessive amount of tattoos and that one ridiculous lip ring. Louis, with his stupid gorgeous smile and heart-melting words.

 

Harry’s chest aches with the heart he’s lost, because he’d given Louis all of him that night, when they’d fallen into bed together and exchanged I love you’s. He’d given Louis his heart and now that he was gone, it was gone with him.

 

But Harry knows he deserves it. He knows he deserves this pain, the feeling of being hallow because he ruined it—ruined them—and he knows that he has no right to be upset when he brought this onto himself by pushing Louis away. He ruined everything right after he blew Louis, right after Louis had asked him to be his goddamned boyfriend for God’s sake and he had no one to blame but himself.

 

A big part of Harry regrets doing that, regrets ever pushing Louis away. But a significant part, the ugly one that had caused him to brush Louis aside in the first place, reminds him that it was only a matter of time before he screwed up and Louis decided to leave him.

 

It’s a constant fight inside him, the war between his two sets of mind. He doesn’t know what to believe but he knows that he loves Louis and that he misses him. He knows that if he could go back in time, he wouldn’t have let him go.

 

But he did, and now he had to suffer the consequences of his irrational actions.

 

❀❀❀❀

 

He’d broken down after he’d looked up at the sky and realized the impact of his words. He hadn’t bothered to go back to the hut, had sunk to the ground and curled up on the sand instead, his tears mixing with the salty ocean, his cries muffled with its waves. He might have slept there too, because when he came about, it was to a rising sun, and Harry figured he spent a whole night in that same position, weak and crushed and withered.

 

He’d gotten up long after he’d grown numb to the sun’s burn and he still doesn’t know what motivated him to do so but he did it. He’d wandered around the whole island then, passing by the meadow, the waterfall, and then the cave; where he slept the second night, mind retracing the days he spent with Louis, the conversations they had, and the love they exchanged.

 

He woke up crying; only emerging out in the open once his tears had run out. He’d taken a dip in the waterfall, hunger gnawing away at his stomach but he didn’t go back to the hut just yet. Instead, he went back to the meadow, surrounding himself with the flowers he knew would never leave him but instead of calming him down, they brought back a conversation he once had with Louis—before the confessions and the promises and heartbreak—and so he’d broken down again, mind slipping into a state of unconsciousness eventually.

 

It was on the third day that he’d gone back to the hut. Their plates were still sitting there, their dirty clothes from that night still scattered on the floor, his flower crown a crushed mess between the sheets. Harry didn’t cry but he damn right felt like it, especially since the appearance of the place reminded him of what happened to be both the best and worst day of his life all together.

 

He’d cleaned up the place though—having decided that he had to move on with life at some point the day before—and then taken their dirty garments to the waterfall to wash. He’d tried his hardest to keep his mind blank throughout all of it, but he slipped sometimes, random flashes of Louis sneaking into his thoughts. He found himself opening his mouth to say something or the other to the older boy, only to remember that he wasn’t there anymore—and all because of him.

 

The most unsettling repercussion of losing Louis was just that: Harry’s vivid imagination. He thinks he feels Louis beside him sometimes only to turn around to an empty space. He thinks he hears Louis laughing or talking at times only to realize that it’s just the whisper of trees.

 

So it’s only natural that he dismisses Louis’ voice when he first hears it as he’s walking down from the meadow with a bucketful of flowers on the fourth day. He’s thinking of him again (obviously), remembering the time he tried to teach him how to make a flower crown and—

 

A shout sounds in the distance, one that Harry doesn’t recognize and thus cannot brush aside easily. He stills, finally tuning in to the gaggle of noises coming from the beach. He feels his heart pick up as he struggles to distinguish any of it but can’t.

 

He takes small steps, ones that grow bigger and bigger the nearer he gets because he hears it again, Louis’ voice and wilting flowers it can’t be him, it can’t be but then Harry hears, “Lads, you’re going to scare him off” in Louis’ high accented voice and he knows it’s him, he knows it’s real, and so he starts running, feet pounding against the ground as he breaks through the clearing and his eyes land on the love of his life for the first time in days.

 

There’s a moment where everything stills, and Harry’s entire world starts spinning again. It doesn’t matter that he pushed Louis away, doesn’t matter that they ended on a bad note because Louis’ here, he left but he came back with his friends in tow and Harry—Harry’s never been more in love with him.

 

He only moves when Louis turns around to look at him, their eyes meeting in a flash of aqua and then Harry’s running again, tears spilling down his cheeks but he doesn’t care, because his eyes are only fixed on the blooming smile on Louis’ face and he is the only thing that matters.

 

His legs instinctively wrap around Louis’ waist the moment they crash into each other, arms wrapping around Louis’ neck as the red-haired boy spins them around and around, Harry laughing and crying through it. Louis stumbles when Harry kisses him and then stills, mouth opening to allow for the glide of their tongues. They kiss until they’re dizzy with it and Louis’ pulling away, hands warm on the back of Harry’s thighs.

 

“God I missed you,” Louis whispers, tears glistening in his eyes and Harry can only kiss him again, mind still trying to catch up with everything. He’d honestly believed that Louis wouldn’t come back but he’s here. He’s bloody here and Harry can’t—he won’t ever let go of him again.

 

“What—how—Louis,” he fumbles, kissing him once more when he can’t formulate his thoughts. “You came back—I—I thought you wouldn’t come back but you did—”

 

“Harry,” Louis rubs at his skin, eyes scanning the younger boy’s face. He frowns at the frail bruises beneath his eyes. “I told you I was coming back, flower. Unless you did really want me to leave?”

 

“No!” Harry tightens his hold on Louis and he feels like a koala but he doesn’t care. “No please no. I’m sorry—I’m sorry for pushing you away—”

 

“I was never mad at you babe,” Louis reassures. “I’m sorry I didn’t come sooner.”

 

“You’ve got nothing to apologize for Lou. You—you came back after you went home and that’s just—that’s everything.”

 

“I didn’t go home though,” Louis protests. “Neverland’s no longer my home. It never even was. My home is you, Harry. It’s always been you.”

 

It dawns on Harry then, that Louis really is in this for the long haul. He wouldn’t have come back if that wasn’t the case and the realization causes more tears to prick at Harry’s eyes.

 

“Louis…” he chokes out but then his eyes flit over the three other figures behind them, all of whom are wearing identical fond expressions on their faces as they watch HarryandLouis’ sappy reunion play out. Harry blushes at the attention, embarrassed to have forgotten about their presence. Loosening his hold on Louis, he slides back to his feet.

 

“What about them though?” he asks, stomach twisting as he realizes they could have been forced to come here just because Louis wanted to be with Harry. “You didn’t have to drag your friends here—”

 

“Lou didn’t drag no one mate,” the blond one suddenly pipes up. Harry remembers him to be Niall. “We all came here by our own choice and anyways, our home is wherever Tommo’s is. Didn’t hurt to meet the lad that kept him alive and who’d gotten him settled down either so here we are.”

 

“Harry, this is Niall,” Louis introduces, laughing. “And this is Zayn,” he points at the raven-haired boy next to him, then at the burly one, “and this is Liam. I hope you don’t mind that I brought them along.”

 

Harry throws them all a shy wave. He feels self-conscious because he’s been crying and he’s sure they know the shit he pulled on Louis a few days ago but there’s no judgment in their eyes and Harry knows they’re all going to be okay.

 

“Of course I don’t mind,” Harry scoffs at Louis then, having registered what he said. He offers the three boys a smile. “’M Harry.”

 

“Hello Harry!” Niall beams and Harry can’t help but giggle at how bright the Irish boy is. “It’s so nice to finally meet you.”

 

“Like Niall said, we wanted to thank you for everything you’ve done for Louis,” the puppy-eyed boy, Liam, adds in. “God knows he’d be dead by now if it weren’t for you.”

 

“Heyyy,” Louis whines as they all laugh. “You’re mean. I don’t like you anymore.”

 

“We all know that it’s true Lou,” Zayn rolls his eyes, then turns to fix Harry with a gentle smile. “Thank you though Harry. We owe you. Oh, and for the record, he wouldn’t shut up about you the whole time we were catching up.”

 

Harry blushes at that, all bashful and pigeon-toed, but before he can say anything, Niall’s speaking up again.

 

“Now, where’s the food at? Louis told me you’re an excellent cook. I’m hungry!”

 

It’s safe to say that the rest of their day is spent laughing.

 

❀❀❀❀

 

That night, Louis and Harry end up sharing the bed. The lads refuse for it to be otherwise, no matter how many times Harry insists they take it. Eventually, he complies, setting up the carpet as well as he could under the circumstances and promising the three of them a proper bed by tomorrow.

 

He curls up next to Louis then, back pressed to his chest and hands intertwined. The silence settles around them but soon enough, Niall’s snores fill the air and Zayn and Liam’s breaths even out. Harry feels Louis shift behind him for the umpteenth time since they’ve all exchanged their goodnights. He can’t help but smile fondly at his childness.

 

“Pst,” Louis whispers, and Harry feels his lips twitch. “Flower, you awake?”

 

“Yes,” Harry giggles, unable to resist. “It’s not like anyone could sleep with all the ruckus you’re causing. You’ve been fidgeting this whole time.”

 

“Mhm.” Harry feels Louis’ fingers trail up to his hips, clutching at the layer of chub there. He blushes when he feels Louis’ half-hard dick press against his ass. “It’s cause I’ve wanted to do this.”

 

Scandalized but amused, Harry turns his head around to look at Louis.

 

“Louis,” he scolds. “We can’t do this when your friends are literally a few feet away from us.”

 

“Yeah we can,” Louis pouts. “And they’re your friends too. Besides, they’re asleep now and they won’t wake up. They sleep like the dead, I assure you.”

 

“Louis…” Harry can already feel his resolve weakening because he’s missed Louis and he wants to be close to him again.

 

“Fine,” he agrees and he knows Louis’ smiling like a loon but he can only roll his eyes fondly. “But we have to be quiet.”

 

“Obviously,” Louis mutters. “By the way, I got us some real lube that I brought back to Neverland on my way back from Earth.”

 

Harry can’t help but laugh at that, biting at his hand to muffle the sound.

 

“Are you—are you serious?” he asks. “That’s a bit presumptuous isn’t it?”

 

“Maybe,” Louis shrugs, grinning. “But it’s serving its purpose well right now so I wouldn’t be complaining.”

 

Harry hears the snick of the bottle, followed by the delicate touch of Louis’ fingers ghosting over his hole.

 

Whining, he turns his head to the side again to threaten, “If you’re gonna be a tease, I’m calling this whole thing off.”

 

He feels Louis’ chest shake with laugher as the older boy complies, sinking his middle finger to the knuckle into Harry’s heat. Harry bites his lip, groaning quietly as he pushes back against Louis’ single digit. The older boy gets straight to it, opening Harry quickly but efficiently with three fingers until he’s a loosened writhing mess, lips bitten raw.

 

“Lou—Louis please—I’m ready—just fuck me already—please—”

 

“Calm down princess.” Harry feels the drag of Louis’ cock against his cheeks and he keens, a bit too loudly, humping up into the air. They’re still in the same position, Louis glued to Harry’s back. It’s quite limiting but they’re both too impatient to figure something else right now.

 

“There we go,” Louis grunts as he sinks into Harry. He waits until Harry’s pushing back on him, trying to fuck himself on Louis’ cock, before he starts thrusting back and forth, movements a bit choppy due to their awkward positioning and attempt to keep it down. It feels as good as the first time though, Harry tight and wet and snug around Louis, and so it doesn’t take long for the both of them to feel the build-up in the bottom of their bellies.

 

“Louis—” Harry pants. He hasn’t even been touched yet. Whenever he tries to wrap a hand around himself, Louis would slap it away and Harry would tuck it under his head to resist temptation. Louis really just wanted Harry to come from him only. “Louis I’m gonna—”

 

“Come for me little flower,” Louis bites at the juncture between Harry’s ear and neck then, nibbling at the skin that’s there until he’s sure he’s left a blooming mark. “You’ve been so good for me. You can come now.”

 

Breath catching, Harry shudders through his high, Louis fisting his dick loosely until Harry’s squirming from oversensitivity. It doesn’t take him long to follow in Harry’s wake, punching in just a few thrusts before he’s filling up the younger boy with his come. He sags against him when it’s over, bones sated and mind mushy, lips pressing soft kisses into his broad shoulders.

 

“Love you,” he rasps, but it fills up the whole room and the whole night too.

 

“Love you.”

 

They sit in silence for a while, Harry trying to fight off fatigue as he blinks and yawns. He doesn’t say anything until Louis pulls out, feeling the come seep out of him. He likes the feeling though and so he sighs, snuggling further into Louis’ arms.

 

“You know,” he begins, knowing Louis is listening. He turns his head to the side. “I still can’t believe you’re back.”

 

“Well you should,” Louis smiles, leaning over to kiss him on the mouth. “Because I am and I’m here to stay.”

 

“I’m sorry for pushing you away so many times,” Harry continues, sinking back into Louis’ embrace. “It’s just—I’ve always been so self-conscious and I—I dunno. I’ve um been ditched by a lot of people and you’re just like so beautiful and I didn’t get how or why you would want to stay. But I’m not listening to that voice anymore. Losing you made me think about a lot of things but you coming back made me realize how wrong I was not to believe you.”

 

“I’m so proud of you for acknowledging all that princess,” Louis breathes, tracing mindless patterns on the younger boy’s arms. “It’s not an easy thing to do and you’ve struggled with it in the past but you’re doing it now and I love you so much darling. Your stuttering has also calmed down a lot too and it’s just—I’m so, so proud of you.”

 

Harry flushes at that, heart brimming with emotions. He feels like crying a little but they’re happy tears because they’re here together, and that’s all that matters.

 

“I just really regret spending so much time fighting this, fighting us, when I could’ve spent every second loving you. And I didn’t mean any of that stuff about you leaving Louis. I was lying and I’m sorry.”

 

“I know you didn’t mean it love,” Louis assures, rubbing at Harry’s wrist. “But it needed to be done. You got over your fears and I got the lads back.”

 

“True,” Harry whispers. Then, smiling, he decides to admit, “You know I’ve had a crush on you long before I even met you?”

 

Harry feels Louis stiffen against his back in shock.

 

“What?” he gasps.

 

“I’ve had a crush on you ever since the pirates told me about Peter Pan and all his crazy ways,” Harry says, feeling shy all of a sudden. “I looked up to you because you were the only thing that had stood up against Hook. I liked you for your courage. You got me through my days as a hostage, even though you didn’t even know it. My tattoos were based on my favourite tales about you. So you did save me Louis. You saved me back then and you’ve saved me again without even knowing it.”

 

“Harry,” Louis’ voice is wet, quivering with emotions. “I’m glad I was there for you in some way back then. I really am sorry I failed to rescue you though.”

 

“Louis, we’ve been through this. I don’t blame you. This was all meant to happen. And—and you did rescue me. You rescued me from myself.”

 

“I know Harry but that still doesn’t make any of what happened to you alright. I promise I’ll find you a way to see Anne and Gemma again.”

 

“Louis—”

 

“I promise Harry, okay?”

 

“Okay,” Harry sighs in defeat. “’M sorry for not telling you all this sooner.”

 

“It’s okay but it would’ve definitely saved me all the trouble of being nervous about telling you how I felt,” Louis mutters dryly, and the tension is broken.

 

“Heyyy,” Harry giggles. “I said I’m sorry.”

 

“I know,” Louis presses his smile into Harry’s shoulder. “I love you.”

 

Harry turns around then, wanting to see Louis’ face. He feels his breath catch when their eyes meet, just like it did when oops first met hi.

 

“Love you,” he says back, every cell in his body burning up with it.

 

❀❀❀❀

 

And well, Hook might have succeeded in shooting Louis down around three weeks ago, but he didn’t win (he knows that now, seeing as how Louis paid him a visit two days ago when he went back to Neverland and thanked him for getting him to Harry).

 

Because after all, Peter Pan never lost to a charade.

 

And he never will.

 

❀❀❀❀

 

Aeternus

faith, trust and pixie dust (and love)

 

 ❀❀☠❀❀