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Invisible Magic

Chapter Text

Prologue

Zayn didn’t know exactly how he had ended up behind bars (because there was no way in hell that he was calling it a cage! He wasn’t an animal!). Personally he blamed the other guy – it was his teasing and ridiculing that had made Zayn hit him in the first place, he had just chosen to retaliate; so yeah... it was definitely the other male’s fault. But the other male had been escorted to the address that had been resting on the tag connected to his collar and, all because he didn’t have one Zayn had been dragged to the nearest Hybrid Animal Pound. And if that wasn’t a punishment in itself, then Zayn didn’t know what was.

They had checked him for a microchip almost as soon as they arrived at the pound:

“Name:” Tristan, who was the manager at the Hybrid Animal Pound began, reading off of the microchip scanner. “Zayn.”

Zayn groaned, knowing that the silence he had managed to keep up since being handcuffed an hour ago had been for nothing… they were going to find out everything from that stupid microchip!

“D.O.B: 12th January 1993. Owner…” Tristan trailed off.

“What?” Jemima, the police woman who had arrested him asked, almost impatiently.

“Say’s here that his owner’s name is… Louis Tomlinson…”

After that, they hauled him into a room that was just lined from side-to-side and top-to-bottom with large cages that were half full of hybrids, just like him (although he did as much as he could to not be associated with them). There had been a young, full human girl standing at one cage and stroking the wars of a ginger cat-hybrid who was loving the attention:

“Charlotte?” Tristan scolded as they entered the overly large, clearly extended room. “I thought I told you to stay in the staff room and do your homework?”

The young girl, who was no older than 15, looked up at the sound of her Dad’s voice. Her eyes lit up and her mouth fell open when she set eyes on Zayn.

“Oh my god!” She cried, jumping up and away from the ginger haired cat and hurrying over to her father’s side, and evidently right in front of Zayn. She didn’t show any caution or hesitation as she instantly started running her fingers through his hair, hitting his ears and making him keen from the feeling. “He’s gorgeous! Can we keep him Dad? Please?!”

“No Charlotte,” Tristan dismissed as he gently pulled Zayn away from his daughter and over to the other wall where a ground-floor cage was available.

“But Dad! You’ve been promising me a hybrid for ages! And this one is by far the cutest one I’ve seem! And so young! His whiskers haven’t even come through yet!”

“We can’t have him Lottie,” Tristan explained, almost sadly. “His owner is on his way to collect him.”

“Oh,” Charlotte sighed disappointedly. Now she understood why they couldn’t have him.

“But you’ll never guess who his owner is!” Tristan spoke, hoping to spark that happiness in his daughter’s eyes again.

Charlotte didn’t believe it when her father had told her that his owner was Louis Tomlinson. It took a little bit of convincing, but she finally realised that her Dad was telling her the truth. And then she almost went crazy – and Zayn realised she was a fan. She went almost crazy, freaking out over the fact that Louis Tomlinson’s hybrid was standing right in front of her. She explained to her father that no one, except Louis and those closest to him, knew what he looked like! Apparently it was a privilege to be one of the first people to meet him and she even snapped a few pictures of him while he hadn’t been looking (and the only reason Zayn knew she had got pictures was the tale-tale click of her phone’s shutter echoing around the room).

Then he was placed in the ‘cell’, the door swinging shut before he could make any movement – and a thumb-print padlock was secured around the lock – making any attempt of escape futile.

And now all Zayn could do was wait until his ‘owner’ came to collect him.

~ IM ~

Zayn was sat with his back facing the cage door – not wanting to look at any of the other hybrids in the room, or the few workers that kept walking up and down the cages, taking hybrid’s out and putting other’s back – each one clearly having heard that their latest inhabitant was ‘owned’ by no less that a world famous boy band member and stopped and had a good look at him each time they went past.

So Zayn didn’t see when Tristan returned and pressed his thumb on the padlock to unlock the cage door. He whipped around at the squeak of the door, curious as to what was happening.

He never thought he’d ever be grateful to see Louis, but god-damn-it, he was.

Louis smiled at him and crouched down, opening his arms wide. Zayn hurried over to the other male on his knees (as the cage was only tall enough for him to sit in) and fell into his chest heavily. Louis’ arms wrapped tightly round him and for a moment human and hybrid rejoiced in each other.

It was times like these that Louis could really see the cat-side of Zayn starting to make an appearance.

“Oh bud,” Louis murmured, raising one hand and skilfully running it through Zayn’s locks. “You scared me!”

“I’m sorry,” Zayn whispered, only Louis’ ears picking up the quietly spoken words.

“Hey,” Louis soothed, as if he was speaking to a scared cat, as his hand ran firmly down his back. “It’s alright. You’re okay. I’ve got you now.”

Louis closed his eyes, because when he had gone out into the garden to check on his pet, he found the back gate wide open and not a raven hair in sight – and it had scared him half to death. He’d phoned his band mates and demanded to know if they’d seen him… they hadn’t. The worst part for Louis was that Zayn hadn’t even been wearing a collar; they had been building up to it, but they weren’t quite ready for it just yet – and now, he had to force one on Zayn, because he would be questioned about it if he didn’t put one on him. Louis just hoped that Zayn had had too much of an eventful afternoon to put up much of a fight about it.

“Please don’t fight this,” Louis muttered in Zayn’s ear, almost making no sound at all. Zayn didn’t get any time to ponder on that thought as Louis pulled out of the hug. He continued speaking as he dug around in the bag he had deposited beside him earlier, the one Zayn hadn’t noticed.

“How did you get out of the garden big guy?” Louis cooed, clearly not mad at all. Zayn raised an eyebrow, he knew Louis was just putting on an act for Tristan who was stood a little behind them, observing the scene. He knew Louis would have seen the open back-gate and would have put two-and-two together. But Zayn had always been planning to go back; he hadn’t been escaping, just exploring.

“And how did you shake your collar off?” Louis asked curiously, eyebrows furrowed. Zayn’s eyebrows dipped too – he had never, ever wore a collar… except back at the facility (he shuddered at the thought). Zayn couldn’t ponder on the thought for long as Louis finally found what he was looking for in his bag and pulled it out. Before Zayn could get a proper look at what it was, Louis was securing it around his neck – lose enough to not strangle him, but tight enough for him to know it was there… a collar. “It was probably faulty, eh?” Louis chuckled as the thumb-print lock clicked into place.

Zayn pulled at it testingly a couple of times, but the thing didn’t budge one bit. And when he looked back at Louis a leash was already attached to it and Louis was standing up, holding the leather end tightly in his hand.

Zayn closed his eyes in shame and humiliation. He would forever hate the people who had done this to him, for what they had reduced him to - a being considered nothing more than an animal.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 1

It was luck that Lucy found him.

It was dark and bitterly cold. There was a thin layer of ice on parts of the ground. The wind was bitingly harsh and snow was starting to fall fast. The roads were empty apart from the gritters who were out in force, and a few odd cars here and there.

Lucy was on her way home after her shift at the hospital; she’d been working since 3pm the previous afternoon. She was cold, shattered, and hungry and couldn’t wait to get home. It was because of this that she forgot that she needed to make a stop at the nearest petrol station and fill her car up as soon as possible. And she only remembered when her car had started to slow down.

Once the vehicle had come to a stop, completely out of gas, Lucy had grabbed her coat from the backseat and hopped out. She made a quick phone call to a friend for a helping hand and then lit up a cigarette. She shivered against the wind and the snow and wrapped her coat tighter around herself as she breathed out, watching the almost white smoke dance away into the black sky.

It was then that she heard a broken cry, a groan of pain. She whipped around, her nursing instincts taking over at the overly familiar sound (after all she did work in A&E), her eyes searching the dark.

“Hello?” She called loudly.

The night now sounded deadly quiet as she listened closely for any sign of anyone.

“Hello? Is anyone there?” She called again. This time she got another groan in reply. Whoever it was, was close by and definitely in need of her help.

She acted quickly, pulling out her first-aid kit and flashlight out of the car boot. She moved up and down the pavement, moving the torch light over the dark-inky floor.

“Hello?” She spoke loudly once again.

She had walked roughly 10 meters when her torchlight fell over a body. She placed her hand over her mouth to muffle her gasp as she processed that this… boy… was naked.

“Oh you poor thing,” She cried, hurrying the last couple of feet towards the barely-moving body. She dropped to her knees and dropped her torch and first-aid kit so that she could take her coat off. She draped it over him – ignoring the 15cm long fur-less tail producing from the end of the boy’s backbone and the ears on top of his head. “You must be freezing!” She checked him over quickly, but couldn’t find anything that could be causing him pain – well anything human at least. She could clearly see that this boy was an unwilling, but she didn’t know anything about hybrids to know how to help him.

“My name is Lucy,” She introduced herself. “I’m a nurse and I’m going to help you okay?” She didn’t get a reply. “Let me help you up and into my car. I’ve got some blankets in the boot which you can wrap up in.”

She went to help him sit up, and the hybrid put his hands up to help guide himself up, but he couldn’t – he cried out in agony and collapsed back against the frozen ground.

“Okay, okay,” Lucy soothed the animal. “Give me two seconds and I’ll bring the blankets back to you.”

It didn’t take her long to bring them and a few other items back and wrap them around him tightly, resting one under his head.

When that had been done, she helped him drink some water (because who knew when the last time he had had a drink was) and offered him a biscuit. He took it with his clawed hand and eagerly began nibbling on it. There wasn’t anything else that Lucy could do, apart from deal with those burn marks and whip marks on his body – but she knew that getting warm was more important at the present moment. So with only one other thing that she could do to help the hybrid, she pulled out her phone and found out the local RSPCH number and dialled them.

Once she had explained to them everything she knew, they were quick on their way.

~ IM ~

For Zayn, the next few days passed in quite the blur. He didn’t remember ever leaving the cold pavement but when he woke the first time he was in the back of some sort of van, blankets wrapped round him tightly and bars obstructing his vision. He didn’t have any energy to even be surprised at his surroundings and let his eyes shut again.

The next time he woke he was being gently washed down with a soft sponge and warm hands. Whoever was watching him was ever so careful, minding the cuts and bruises that littered his body and talked to him softly – what she had said, Zayn didn’t know; the water and rhythmic motions of the sponge relaxed him enough for him to fall back to sleep. He was still exhausted.

He was woken by the sharp sting of something on one of the whip marks on his back. He bucked at the pain and found himself held down by large, soothing hands. There were a few people in the room and Zayn couldn’t help being confused. Words washed over him and confused him even more because he just couldn’t seem to process them. He didn’t miss the unmistakable prick of a needle in his neck and before he knew it he was out cold.

He woke a few more times over the next day or two, sometimes to grey walls and other times to faces and words. Each time he woke, he didn’t hold on to consciousness for too long – what he had been through had completely taken it out of him, and he just couldn’t get any bearings to his surroundings.

When Zayn woke properly, he found himself curled up on top of the largest pillow he’d ever seen, with a soft brown blanket draped over him. For a moment, he didn’t think anything of it and stretched out with a yawn. He blinked a couple of times and threw back the blanket, feeling rather warm. He barely noticed the unusual white attire he was dressed in before he closed his eyes and snuggled down again to sleep – he felt like he could sleep for a hundred years and still not feel refreshed.

But a moment later, he seemed to register what he had been wearing and jerked awake to make sure he wasn’t seeing things. But he wasn’t. He was dressed in an unfamiliar white cotton shirt and white cotton trousers. There wasn’t anything on his feet.

He sat up quickly… too quickly it seemed as a burning pressure ran through his spine and he jumped off of the pillow with an un-human wail. He reached round to his ass, where the pain had been more prominent, only for his hands to grab hold of something long and bare and thin – something that hadn’t been there the last time he had checked. He turned his head as best he could to get a look at it, preying it wasn’t what he thought it was. His eyes were greeted by the sight of a 30cm long, fur-less tail.

His breathing picked up and he was finding it hard to focus properly. His hands let go of the tail as if it had burnt him. He backed up, as if this would help him get away from this nightmare.

He held his hands out in front of him and was greeted with the sight of claws instead of fingernails and, when he let his hands wonder up to the top of his head, he could feel two very pointy, bare ears.

His eyes darted around the small space he had woken up in. The only things that occupied the room were the large cushion that he woke up on, which – under closer inspection – had little fishes dotted all over it; the brown blanket that had covered him when he had woke; in the corner of the room was what could only be described as a large litter box; and along one of the walls were two bowls, one filled with water and the other chunks of… whatever that was. The room wasn’t very bright, the only light source seemed to be coming from behind him.

But when he turned…. He fell to his knees in shock, crying out. There, in front of him were bars – he was in an overly large cage, like an animal… like a hybrid.

~ IM ~

Louis glances around the room, knee jogging up and down nervously. He didn’t really know why he was here – well that was a lie. It was his recklessness that had got him kicked right in the direction of the RSPCH. Apparently the public was getting tired of seeing him act so carelessly and a plan had been put into place to correct that, to show the public that he could in fact be responsible. And the best way to do that, supposedly, was to adopt a helpless hybrid.

“Good afternoon Mr Tomlinson.”

Louis looked up at the sound of his name. He stood when he clashed eyes with the man in the doorway.

“Please, call me Louis,” Louis protested politely, shaking the man’s hand.

“It’s nice to meet you Louis. My name is Gordon Sykes and I’m the governing board director here at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Hybrids. I understand that you are interested in adopting one of our many hybrids,” The man introduced. In Louis’ opinion he talked too fast, and he normally would have said so, but he remembered what he had agreed with the boys – he was going to try and change his ‘bad reputation’. And he was going to try his damned hardest to keep his promise to the boys… he wasn’t doing this because he had modest breathing down his neck.

“That’s right Gordon,” Louis agreed, clapping his hands together. “I’m not sure exactly what, or who, I’m looking for and was hoping you would give me a tour of it all.”

“Absolutely,” Gordon agreed without second thought. “Do you have anywhere in particular you wanted to start? Is there a certain animal breed you’re interested in?”

“Well, I’m unsure – but I’d love I nice family hybrid.”

“Shall we start with cats and dogs then?”

Louis had thought about it a little and knew that he’d personally love a dog, if he found the right one. Harry had been begging him to get a cat, but the whole point of this whole operation was for him to show that he could be responsible… he’d make the final decisions.

“Dogs please, if you don’t mind.”

“Of course not, right this way.”

The dog-hybrids were all gorgeous to look at, but there wasn’t anything that really caught his eye. They all fought for his attention and were all over the place. He knew dogs were loyal creatures, but these dog-hybrids were certainly too much for Louis. Louis wanted a quieter animal who wouldn’t need much looking after… after all he didn’t want to really be doing this.

So he decided that the dogs weren’t right for him and hoped that maybe a cat might be better for him. Cat’s tended to be rather independent – they just needed feeding and watering every so often… didn’t they?

The cat-hybrids weren’t much better. They were all stuck up and snobbish and barely batted an eye his way.

Louis was just about to give up hope and go back for a dog when he caught sight of a rather bedraggled, wet cat-hybrid being led down the corridor of cages, presumably back to his own. He looked so sorry for himself, so unhappy – his half grown fur-less tail was wrapped round his leg; his fur-less ears pressed down flat on his black, shiny, wet hair; his eyes were droopy and sad and his clawed fingers were wrapped round his biceps.

“That one,” Louis decided out of the blue.

“Sorry?” Gordon asked, shocked out of the talk he had been giving to Louis – the one the celebrity obviously hadn’t been listening to.

“I want to adopt that one.”

“I’m ever so sorry Mr Tomlinson, but Zayn isn’t up for adoption just yet. He’s been through a though few months recently. He’s an unwilling – forcefully turned from a fully-fledged human being into a hybrid. He was kidnapped off the street, forced to become what he is now, tortured to an inch of his life and then left on the streets for dead. He was barely alive when we found him. And making that transition from human to hybrid hasn’t been an easy one – he’s fought it all the way. He’s 4 months into his reconditioning program and he should be almost finished by now – he’s barely made a start. He’s nowhere near ready for adoption.” Gordon explained sadly. “But if you’re interested, you can certainly sponsor Zayn.”

Louis bit his lip; it sounded like this Zayn had been through a lot and just needed a friend. Louis wanted him, and there was no way he was leaving without him.

Chapter Text

Zayn knew that Louis had been visiting him recently over the last couple of weeks, because he was interested in adopting him. His trainers had informed him so, and his training had been upped. But, Zayn didn’t want to go home with the pop star; acting out even more so than before, in hopes that the RSPCH would decide that Zayn just wasn’t ready to be re-homed or decide that Zayn wasn’t the right hybrid for Louis.

Therefore, he was surprised when Louis came to his normal Friday, 6pm visit with a leash and collar in his hand. Zayn had been sat on the floor at the time (no furniture in the room, apart from the small table and a single chair in the corner, that everyone informed he, wasn’t for him) and Louis had crouched in front of him, smiling like an idiot.

“Hiya Bud,” Louis beamed, ruffling his hair.

James, Zayn’s trainer, who had previously been stood by the door before Louis had entered the room, and who had usually left by this point, was suddenly behind him. Zayn’s head flew to the side; to watch what the man was doing.

Louis spoke again, bringing Zayn’s attention back to him.

“Ready to come home?” He was brandishing the collar in his right hand. It was eye-catching and Zayn had to admit, it wasn’t too bad. It was blue and had comic book style ‘sound effects’ printed all over it.

“What?” Zayn blurted out bluntly. Suddenly, James’ hands were around his neck, his thumb pressing against the thumbprint lock around the hard, metal collar he currently, reluctantly wore. Zayn held his breath, feeling the metal unlatch and become loose around his throat, until the older man behind him, pulled it away from his skin completely. Zayn relaxed, in a way he hadn’t since he’d arrived at the RSPCH 6 months ago, his eyes closing in bliss at the feeling of not being owned.

And then, as quickly as the metal one had come off, the leather one that Louis had been holding replaced it.

“No!” Zayn cried, eyes opening wide in panic. His hands came up to his neck, to try and pry the tight, restricting leather away from his throat, but Louis already had it in place – and the thumbprint lock would ensure it stayed on. “No! Please!” Zayn’s eyes filled with tears as he fell forward, not intending to but landing in Louis’ chest.

Louis sighed sadly, his heart already so in love with the handsome hybrid in front of him. He didn’t want to do this to him, he knew that the collar was keeping Zayn back in accepting his place – and he wanted to help, he did! He just had to put on the perfect show for the public; and while they had kept this whole transaction hush-hush, the 1D fans had somehow caught wind that Louis was adopting. But, if their plan had been a success, absolutely no one – not even Louis’ own band members, knew where or when Louis was picking Zayn up. But there could never be any promises.

“Hey, listen to me,” Louis spoke solidly, trying to portray security in his tone of voice. “It’s going to be okay. You’re going to come home with me, and together, we’re going to learn and adapt – but at your pace. You’ll have to wear the collar when outside, for obviously reasons, but not at home,” Louis left the ‘not at the moment’ hanging off the end of his tongue. He did eventually want Zayn to wear the collar all the time, but he also didn’t want the pet to be terrified of it, which he obviously was.

“You’re going to love it at home,” Louis continued, when his promise didn’t seem to make Zayn feel any better. “The house is massive and there’s certainly lots of room for you to play. And the best part? It’s just you and me.”

Zayn’s tears continued, but his sobbing had stopped; he was listening to what Louis was saying.

“Come on Bud,” Louis laughed lightly. “Don’t make me tell you everything about home; I do want some of it to be a surprise.”

Still, Zayn didn’t move his head from Louis’ shoulder.

“How about I make a stop on the way home and get some salmon for tea?”

Surprisingly, this is what got Zayn’s attention.

“Really?”

“Yeah,” Louis nodded encouragingly when he felt Zayn’s head leave his shoulder. “We can have Salmon and pasta and my mum’s special cheese sauce over the top. It’s divine!”

“Do I have to eat from a bowl?” Zayn asked shyly, his distaste for doing so clearly present.

“Not if you don’t want to,” Louis smiled softly, having already decided this is what he would do before even getting the conformation that he could adopt Zayn.

Zayn nodded slowly after a moment or two.

“Thought you might like that!” Louis beamed, picking up the matching lead that he had discarded on the floor and attaching it to the ring on Zayn’s collar. “Let’s get you in the car.”

Zayn obediently followed Louis out of the visiting room and through what felt like endless hallways until they eventually walked through the front doors; it had been only the second time that Zayn had ever seen them doors, his first being when he entered through them.

He was walked over to a large, posh, black Range-Rover with a nice shiny ‘16’ plate, indicating just how new the car was. It was parker casually in between a couple of Ford’s, but stuck out like a sore thumb. Zayn didn’t have much chance to stand and admire the view of the car before he was lead round to the back of the car.

“Wait…” Zayn mumbled when Louis opened the boot. It became clear that this is how Louis wanted Zayn to travel. The bars that were screwed against the back seats were obviously there to stop whoever was travelling in the back couldn’t gain access to the seats.

“Come on Zee,” Louis prompted. “I know this is a big step, but let’s get you home and settled, eh?”

“No,” Zayn whimpered again. His emotions had suddenly become too much for him to handle, and for the second time in less than 5 minutes, he was a crying, sobbing mess in front of Louis. “Please; let me ride up front with you! I’ll be good! I promise!”

“I can’t Zayn,” Louis frowned, almost feeling the Hybrid’s heartache. “That’s just one thing I can’t let you do. When we travel by car, you’ll be travelling back here I’m afraid.”

Zayn shook his head, his face hidden in his hands. He’d backed away as far as the lead would let him, which wasn’t very far at all.

“Come on, bud. It breaks my heart to have to do this too you know. If it wasn’t law, I swear you would be riding up front with me,” Nothing was consoling the kitten. “Come on, it’s only a 20-minute drive home – it’ll be over before you know it.”

Zayn glanced over at Louis, frowning his displeasure at his new ‘master’.

“I don’t care how long the journey is,” Zayn grumbled, crossing his arms. “I’m not doing it.”

“Yes you are,” Louis replied confidently, but softly. Even though he wanted to ease Zayn into the life, the hybrid still needed to understand that Louis was in charge.

“You can’t make me!” Zayn tried to defend himself. His voice came across weak and pitiful. He knew that he wasn’t going to win this one with Louis, but yet he kept trying.

“No, I can’t,” Louis agreed with a nod. Zayn looked back up at him, eyes wide. “But it’s this or I will walk you home. And we’re bound to see someone with a fancy camera on the way back.”

Louis paused, waiting for Zayn’s answer. He knew the cat had no want to be in the limelight, and Louis had to admit that it was a harsh card to pull, but he needed Zayn to climb into the boot.

“Come on Bud, I’ll make it worth your while. When I stop for salmon I’ll get you a treat.”

Zayn turned his back on Louis, so that he was facing the open space in the car made specially for him. He raised his hand’s to his eyes, and Louis pretended not to notice his wiping at his eyes.

Slowly, but steadily, Zayn clambered into the back of the car, sniffing slightly as he went.

Louis’ frowned sadly, but quickly leant in after the cat, to unclip the lead from the pet’s collar and to ruffle his hair.

“Good boy.”

And with that, Louis pulled the door down, effectively trapping Zayn in.

Louis walked away from the car, instead of around it to the front seat, like Zayn expected him to do. And for a moment, a flash of panic rocketed through him; he couldn’t help but think that Louis was leaving him. But, as he watched the singer walk back through the automatic, sliding doors of the RSPCH building, he relaxed some.

Zayn grumbled to himself as he tore his gaze away from the building he hated so much to look about the small spot he was now enclosed in.

There was enough room for Zayn to move around, and sit up straight, but if he wanted to lie down, he’d have to curl up – there was not enough space to lie stretched out. But, if he did want to lie down at any point, he decided, he would certainly not be lying on the kitty pillow that was pressed against the right side of the boot.

Opposite the pillow, there was a, roughly, 2-litre container filled with water. The container was attached to a bowl, but the bowl was bone dry. Zayn scowled at the contraption, understanding immediately what it was; a button on the side of the bowl made it obvious. If you were to press the button, water would be released into the bowl for Zayn to drink. Upon slightly closer inspection, Zayn discovered that the thing was bolted to the floor of the car – so there wasn’t even a chance of him picking the bowl up and tipping the water into his mouth… he’d have to bend over and lap it up with his tongue if he really wanted a drink. He couldn’t even work out how to get the container off so that it could be emptied and refilled with fresh water. Another container beside it was exactly the same, but was full with brown, unappetising chunks. (Zayn knew they weren’t disgusting, as it had been all he was permitted to eat for the last 6 months. But with the promise of salmon, and eating it from a plate like an actual human was enough to make Zayn decide that he was never eating the humiliating kitty-chunks again!)

Slowly, Zayn brought himself up to his knees he glanced through the bars that were connected to the back of the backseats. The seats were a creamy white leather and very shiny and clean. They looked super comfy, and a far sight more relaxing that the bloody boot was! The car looked almost too knew, and Zayn wondered if the pop-star had brought it especially, with the boot already made up to transport a hybrid ‘comfortably’.

When Louis reappeared, he was brandishing quite a thick pack of paperwork, and a 100-watt smile. Zayn watched him carefully as he pulled the car keys out of his pocket and came round to the front of the car.

“Right then,” Louis spoke as he climbed into the driver’s seat. He placed the pack he was holding down on the passenger seat and moved the rear-view mirror so that he could see Zayn in the reflection.

“Ready to go home?”

Zayn didn’t reply, but that didn’t seem to dishearten Louis as he started the car up and flashed that smile to Zayn through the mirror before he pulled away from the parking spot.

It was just after Louis had turned left out of the parking lot of the RSPCH and flicked on the radio so that there was some background noise surrounding them instead of a dead silence, that Zayn realised that this was all real, that it was all really happening; he was being adopted – going to his ‘forever home’. But it wasn’t with just anyone… his new owner (Zayn shuddered at the thought) was a famous celebrity, known throughout the world – his new owner… his new master… was Louis Tomlinson.

And Zayn just wasn’t entirely sure that he knew exactly what that entailed.