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“He’s so handsome” Louis breathed out dreamily

“He’s alright, I guess” Barbara looked in the boy’s direction for a moment and shrugged.

“What?” Louis turned to her with a scandalized look on his face “How can you say that? He’s gorgeous”

She shrugged again, looking bored while taking a drag of her cigarette

“You're the blindest person I know” the boy settled before glaring at a seemingly unaffected Barbara one last time and turning back to creep on his lover.

They were on the rooftop of their high school –illegally, of course- because Barbara absolutely needed a smoke, and Louis absolutely needed to see the boy, who was always, always smoking outside the gym in front of their school around that hour. That had been the only reason why he, Louis Tomlinson, valedictorian and A+ student had willingly skipped a class. What he wouldn’t do for his boy.

“I think I'm in love with him” he confided, still watching Harry, who didn’t even once looked up, unaware of the pair that watch him closely.

“You're mental” Barbara said and turning around so that her back was resting against the railing that separated them from a safe death

“We’ve been dating for almost five whole months now, Barbs! That’s three whole months more than my longest relationship!” he cried out, not loud enough for Harry to hear, thanks God

“I know, but…” she looked over at him with a calculating look on her eyes “He doesn’t seem too fond of you”

“What?”

“Like, I don’t know…” she shifted awkwardly, like she regretted saying anything at all “he’s really cold and emotionless and… I don’t know, he just… when we go out he won’t even smile when he sees you or anything”

Louis blinked “And what does all of that have to do with our relationship?”

“What?” she cried “Everything?”

Louis waved a hand around “just because he doesn’t like to wear his heart in his sleeve or cry of joy every time we see, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t love me”

“I know, I'm just saying… well, that maybe you deserve someone who does” she avoids his eye when the words leave her mouth and puts her cigarette in her mouth and ignoring him when he gets closer

“Oh, Barbs” he said softly “Thanks, really… but I love Harry, and he’s just what I want and what I need, I promise, I wouldn’t love him if he changed”

She looked at him, doubt clear in her eyes, but eventually nodded and exhaled the smoke in her lungs. A smile made way to her face “I still think you’re going mental”

****

“I'm going to prove you Harry cares about me” he said as soon as he plopped down besides Barbara on the cafeteria. She was lazily eating a sandwich and raised an eyebrow

“I don’t doubt he cares about you?”

“I don’t care, I'm still gonna prove it” he chirped and took out his phone “now, look what I posted on Facebook!”

“’Dying for my fave from Starbucks!’” she read out loud, her brows knitted together “Sad emoji, crying emoji, gun emoji” she glanced up “Eloquent”

“I know!”

“But what does this have to do with your BF?” she asked taking another bite of her food while Louis stuffed his phone in his pockets and started munching on his pizza

“He’s gonna see what I wrote and he’ll buy me coffee, because I'm his boyfriend and he loves me and cares for me!”

“Does he know what your fave at Starbucks is?”

“We’ve been there a hundred times; I’ll rip his balls off if he doesn’t know. I guess it also works as a test on how much he knows me! Perfect!” Louis looked particularly delighted and Barbara chuckled lightly

“I swear I haven’t met anyone as weird as you, Tomlinson”

“I'm unique” was his only answer, shrugging. She just shook her head fondly.

“But, hey” she said suddenly after a couple minutes. Louis arched his eyebrows “What’s your fave at Starbucks? I should know so I know if he got it right”

“Caramel Frappuccino with skim milk, extra whipped cream, extra caramel, two shot of espresso and cinnamon dusted on top” he thought about it for a second “Also, I always get a chocolate muffin to go with it, but I don’t know if he’ll bring it, too… I guess he’ll pass the test with just the coffee, but the muffin would be a great touch”

Barbara nodded “you like some weird shit also” she commented, but at that point of their friendship, she wasn’t really surprised.

****

“Hey, Louis” Barbara suddenly appeared by Louis’ side when he was walking around the school, looking for her.

“Hey, I was looking for you” he greeted her “are you coming home with us? Everybody’s coming” he asked her.

“Yeah, sure” she agreed easily and lead them both to the entrance.

Once outside Louis shivered a little, it was colder he thought and he only had a light –fluffy- sweater. He looked over the parking lot, searching for a distinct head of chocolate curls but found nothing

“He’s there” Barbara pointed to the left and when Louis turned, sure enough, his boyfriend was there, leaning on his shiny car, scrolling absentmindedly on his phone. Louis couldn’t resist sighing when his eyes landed on him

“He’s so handsome!” he whined making Barbara snort

“Let’s go” she said, rolling her eyes in between chuckles and starting to walk in his direction

“Hazza!” Louis was first on greeting him, surprising the boy, who snapped his head up but smiled a little when he saw Louis there.

“Hey” was all he said to Louis, his eyes darted to Barbara and gave her a curt nod that she returned coldly “Let’s go” he said, and opened Louis door for him. Barbara was on the backseat and Louis on the passenger, and he couldn’t help but notice the Starbucks cup and paper bag on the glass holder. Harry started the engine and while he was driving away from school he passed both of them to Louis

“What is it?” he played dumb, fingers tightening around the items

“Caramel Frappuccino with skim milk, extra whipped cream, extra caramel, two shot of espresso and cinnamon dusted on top, and a chocolate muffin… I know you’ve been, um… craving it”

“Oh, God, you're the best” he said excitedly, stealing a glance of Barbara through the rearview mirror. She was already looking at him smiling softly. He sighed again, leaned in and placed a chaste kiss on Harry’s cheek, ignoring pointedly the way he flinched just a little bit and backed away, looking at Barbara “Thanks” he whispered in his ear, and sat normally again, not minding the pang of hurt in his chest

“You’re welcome” he responded, just slightly pinker

The rest of the ride was in silence, just the occasional bit of conversation Barbara and Louis shared, but it wasn’t that often since Barbara didn’t feel entirely comfortable with Harry around. When they arrived to Harry’s house, a big, two story house he had gotten when his grandmother passed away, Barbara seemed relieved and was the first to get off the car.
They followed her inside, Louis walking beside Harry, close enough to touch, and had they been alone, he would’ve taken his hand or maybe kiss the living daylights out of him, but they had company, and Louis knew that Harry wasn’t comfortable with PDA in any sort, so he let the gap stand between them. He watched Barbara open the door like it was her own home and leaving it open for them. Harry held it for him without a word and was making his way to the living room, where Louis could hear laughter and greetings being shouted before the dainty hand of Louis held him where he was

“Can you lend me a sweater?” he said, hugging himself tightly “I'm freezing”

Harry walked over to him with a frown and gently rubbed his smaller arms with his gigantic paws

“Of course” he answered and led him up the stairs to the room Louis knew too well. After all, he stayed there up to three or four times a week. He plopped down on the bed that smelled like his boyfriend and cuddled his pillow

“I'm really cold” he whined

“Why didn’t you wear something warmer?” Harry’s voice was heard from inside his closet where he was rustling through his clothes to find something for Louis
“It wasn’t this cold when I got out of my house… oh, thanks” he accepted the black sweater Harry was handing him. He quickly put it over his head and saw how big it was, he was positively drowning “I'm drowning on this” he said but he was smiling

Harry smiled tightly and leaned to kiss him. Louis was melted instantly and clang to the collar of Harry’s jacket, his lips parting to let his lover’s tongue inside. When they pulled apart Louis was breathless, red and completely dazed. It was incredible how much Harry could affect Louis with just one kiss. Now all he wanted to do was cuddle.
He hugged Harry tightly and placed himself on the older boy’s lap, burying his face in the crook of his neck

“Louis, we need to go down” Harry said, patting his back awkwardly a couple times

“But I want to cuddle, and you won’t cuddle me if we’re downstairs” he whined and pouted even though Harry couldn’t see him

“Lou…” Harry’s voice was strangled and Louis sighed but let his arms fall to his sides dejectedly. He smiled tightly and ignored the burn at the back of his eyes. It was a daily occurrence, this. Louis was naturally clingy, and there was nothing in the world he liked more than touching Harry, in any ways he could, and being deprived of that made him feel really sad, like he wasn’t enough, or that Harry was embarrassed of him. He knew he was being ridiculous, but his heart refused to stop breaking every time Harry pushed him away.

“I’ll go downstairs” he said, avoiding Harry’s eyes and successfully escaping the hands that wanted to keep him where he was

“Louis, wait” he didn’t, though and soon found himself in a two-seat sofa, a beer bottle in his hand and a fake smile on his face. The whole crew was there. Apart from Louis, Barbara and Harry, there were another thirteen people, Nick and his boyfriend Aiden, Niall, Zayn and his girlfriend Perrie, Liam, Ed, Olly, Sophia, Cara, Lou and her twin Sam and Tom, Lou’s boyfriend. They were all around the same age, from 16 –Louis- to 22 –Harry- but Lou, Sam and Tom were much older, closer to 30 than 20, but they were really cool so everybody got along swiftly, so much, in fact, that Louis actually thought of Lou one of his best friends.

They were in the middle of discussing a trip they were probably going to plan and then never actually realize when Harry entered the leaving room, a glass of something full to the brim and a stoic look on his face. He didn’t even look at Louis and went straight to the place besides Sam in the floor, nestled between Lou’s legs. Louis tried not to stare, he really did, but he knew he wasn’t succeeding at all. He looked at Harry with his eyes full of tears until he was sure Harry wasn’t going to look up and then looked down at his beer, side-eyeing the empty seat beside him. He suddenly felt self-conscious and small. He didn’t like the feeling.

A small movement caught his eye and he looked up to find Barbara with a questioning look in her eyes, leaning her head towards Harry. He sighed and looked down while shaking his head softly. He felt really, really bad, and suddenly he didn’t want to be there anymore. With shaking hands he took his phone out of his pocket and sent a quick ‘can you pick me up? I'm at Harry’s’ to his mum. He got a ‘sure, hun’ within two minutes and only then he could relax a little, focusing on drinking his beer.

He spent exactly 13 minutes on his bottle and when he finished it and went to the kitchen to leave it there, he got a text from his mum saying she was outside. He walked quietly outside, shutting the door without making any noise and sent Barbara a text with a simple ‘Went home, wasn’t feeling good, say sorry for me. See ya xxx.’

“Hi, mum” he greeted her and kissed her cheek. She was smiling brightly at him

“Hello, honey, how was school?”

“fine, fine… nothing new really” he said noncommittally

“That’s alright, I guess” she said and looked at him like she knew he was lying. He hummed distractedly but didn’t say anything, and she dropped it, the rest of the ride spent in comfortable silence.

When they got home, Louis phone started ringing. He looked at the screen and sighed. Barbs <3 it said in the screen, along with a picture of said girl with Louis, laughing with the Eiffel Tower in the background. He bit his lip and watched as his mum made her way inside the house, shooting him a questioning look when he didn’t pick up. He sighed again and pressed the green button

“Hi?”

“Hey, where are you?” Barbara sounded worried and he kicked a rock away from him

“I'm at home, I sent you a text, I'm not feeling well” he lied and pried she didn’t realized. She hummed and he knew she didn’t believe him “Really” he said

“Okay, yeah, let’s say I believe you” she sighed at the other side of the line “does any of this have to do with Harry? He’s awfully quiet”

“He’s always quiet” Louis rolled his eyes, though deep inside, he wanted Harry to be affected, to know it actually hurt Louis when they would be in public and he couldn’t even hold his hand

“You know what I mean” she stressed and waited

“It’s not…” he exhaled and started pacing around in his driveway “yeah”

“Do you want me to go over?”

“No, I'm fine, seriously. Maybe a little upset and hurt, but I'm not about to have a breakdown, don’t worry, I'm fine”

“You sure? I don’t mind”

“I'm sure” he smiled “I'm just going to do some homework either way” she hissed like she’d been burned and he chuckled softly

“Homework, Louis?” she sounded scandalized

“You make it sound filthy” he noted and looked over to the door of his house were his mum was gesturing him to go inside, pointing at the dark clouds over his head. He nodded and showed her thumbs up to let her know he’d be there soon and she disappeared inside

“It is! It’s Friday, Louis! You can’t do homework!”

“Well, I am” he said “look, I have to go, I’ll see you tomorrow?”

“Yeah, yeah” she didn’t sound too convinced “I don’t know if I'm going to make it to the skate park, but I’ll text you later, okay?”

“Sure, bye Barbs”

“Bye Lou”

The boy hung up and went inside the house, closing the door after him.

*****

Louis was seated on his desk, dutifully doing his math’s homework when he heard the first tiny rock hitting the glass of his window. He sighed and bit his lip, knowing too well who was standing below his window. He didn’t move, though, and sure enough, a couple moments later another rock hit the fragile surface. He looked over and debated whether or not to open the window and let Harry in. Another rock made its way to Louis glass and he sighed tiredly, getting up and walking to the window.

“What are you doing?” he hissed once he opened the door, glancing to the sides, almost expecting to see all his sisters perched on their windows, watching.

“You left” Harry deadpanned with his arms tightly crossed and Louis rolled his eyes, mimicking his posture

“I'm not arguing with you now” he said coldly and ignored the little pang of hurt his heart suffered

“Why did you left?” he asked either way and Louis wanted to seriously hurt him for being so obtuse.

“Harry…” he let his arms fall to his sides and sighed “we’ll talk later, okay? I really don’t feel well enough to do this again”

“Again? What does that mean, Louis?” he almost yelled from down his window

“Look now” he said sharply “I told you I'm not doing this now, and I'm not, so you can go now or you can stay, but either way I'm going inside now and I won’t come out, alright? Good night, Harry” then, he promptly shut his window, closed the curtains and turned the lights off, hoping Harry would get the idea and left.

He stood next to the window so Harry wouldn’t see his shadow, and heard him curse loudly a couple times before calming down and then his footsteps getting away. Once he was sure he was gone, Louis finally moved from the window and got in bed, not even bothering to change his clothes.

******

The next day when Louis woke up it was already noon, and he felt dizzy with hunger and incredibly grumpy, something always happened when he slept too much.

“Morning” he mumbled when he entered the kitchen, still in jeans and last night’ sweater, hair sticking to ten different directions and generally looking like shit. His mum was on the stove Doris perched on her hip holding a bottle with her little hands. Jay looked up and he saw her phone pressed tightly between her shoulder and ear while she flipped things around in the stove. Mummy octopus, as always.

‘Hey, Lou’ she mouthed a little distracted and arched an eyebrow at his appearance, but he ignored it.

He went to her and took the baby from her, smiling at the thankful look on her eyes and bounced his little sister on his hip, glancing down at the food. His stomach grumbled embarrassingly loud at the sight of meat and Doris let go of her bottle to let out a high pitched squeal and burst into laughter.

“You heard that, Doris?” he asked overdramatically and tickling her sides, watching her squirm and laughing like mad. He laughed too and stopped tickling her just to place a kiss on her wet cheek

“Finally” his mum hung up and rolled her eyes

“Who was that?” he asked

“One of the girls from yoga, I usually like her, but she only calls me to gossip and you know I don’t really like it so.” She shrugged and demanded her baby back. Louis hummed in response and let Doris go.

“So, what are your plans for today?” she asked after a while

“I don’t know. I think I’ll go to the skate park with the gang a little bit later” he shrugged

“Are you and Harry alright?” she asked and bit her lip

“You heard us last night, didn’t you?” he asked grimacing. She looked sheepish but nodded

“Hell, sorry mum. I always tell him to stop coming here at night but he never listens”

“That’s alright, I don’t mind if he comes sometimes, but just… maybe make sure he’s not that loud? I think the girls heard him, too”

“Oh, God” he buried his head on his palms “I’m gonna kill him”

“But he’s so lovely!” she pouted, successfully making him laugh, rolling his eyes

“Yeah, you're right” he said after a while. But that’s exactly the problem.

*******

“Bye, Mum” he shouted standing just outside the door, heard her reply and shut the door after him.

He was walking to the skate park, his skateboard tucked under his arm and his phone on the other. Barbara wasn’t going, so he was walking alone, and as always, arriving alone somewhere made him feel slightly nervous and jittery.

He heard the group before he saw them, always loud and disastrous. He smiled brightly at the sound and turned to the left, finally seeing them besides their favorite part of the park. He walked shyly there, his head ducked down until he was in full view and voices were greeting him all around. He saw Harry, his deep, intense eyes locked in him. He was sitting in between the twins and he looked darker than usual, his face serious and eyes unforgiving. He was in the grandstands, leaning on the step behind him and hell, he looked hot, all dressed in black in a tank top cut low and his usual tight jeans, a snapback and tattoos showing all over. He felt slightly dizzy. He wanted to go there and snog the shit out of him, but they were fighting –at least on Harry’s side- and Harry would probably throw him away if he kissed him in public, so.

He greeted everyone, engaging in meaningless conversations with everyone, buying time to think on how the hell to acknowledge Harry. But it wasn’t necessary, after all. Louis was talking to Tom, who was standing beside Lou, who was beside Harry, his stomach doing flips for being this near, when Harry leaned over to whisper on Sam’s ear, making her giggle and stand. He stood up behind her and took her hand, leading her away. Louis couldn’t look away, his stomach doing some crazy flips, making him seriously nauseous. He wasn’t even paying attention to Tom anymore.

“Are you alright, man?” his voice brought him back to reality, and he saw Lou looking up from her phone, frowning at his expression

“Yeah, yeah” he said, shaking his head and smiling a little. Tom looked at him, calculating but nodded. He smiled and then sat next to Lou, kissing her cheek, barely making out a weak ‘hey’ she pretended not to notice, though, and he was grateful

“She won’t do anything, you know, right?” she whispered after a couple minutes, acknowledging what he was desperately trying not to think “She knows you're his boyfriend, she wouldn’t do it”

He nodded weakly but he wasn’t that convinced. He didn’t know what to think. He trusted Harry, and he trusted Sam, but watching them go, holding hands, well, it didn’t really gave him a good feeling. He rubbed his arms, feeling suddenly really cold and tried not to think of anything. It didn’t work, though. He kept thinking on how Harry hadn't even said anything to him, how he went away with a girl, how he was ugly and how Harry didn’t seem to mind taking Sam’s hand in front of everyone, but he would never take his. Tears prickled at the back of his eyes and he quickly out on his shades, grateful for the intense shining sun, so he wouldn’t look like an idiot with them on, and ignored the look Lou sent his way, worried and biting her lip.

He was biting his nail when they came back, almost half an hour later. Louis hadn't moved from where he was, or talked to anyone, and when he saw then approach him, holding a bunch of food he relaxed a little, but his stupid mind, with his self-hatred couldn’t help but pick out some barely there details. How Sam’s cheeks were just a tad bit rosier, how her hair seemed to be just a little bit messier and how she was plastered to Harry’s side, under his arm. He stared, thankful again for his shades, because God, he had never felt those arms around him in public even once, and he feared his eyes would reflect that stupid longing.

Sam went and seated next to him, kissing his cheek as a greeting and he smiled as big as he could without breaking, which wasn’t much, but said nothing, not trusting his voice not to break and didn’t even glance at Harry. He was seated with his skateboard under his feet, swaying them lightly side to side, but he didn’t feel like getting up and skating for real. He didn’t feel up to anything, really.

“Want something to eat, Louis?” Sam’s voice called him. He turned to her, who was sitting Indian style with a basket of seasoned fries on her hands, he shook his head, and she shrugged and turned to Harry again, saying something to him, but he didn’t look back. She looked beautiful, he couldn’t help but notice. He wasn’t straight, never had been, but he knew she was beautiful, with her lavender straight hair, and arm tattoos, wearing a black crop top and short shorts with a shirt around her waist and vans on her feet. She had bracelets on her arms and a couple on her ankles, a choker on her neck, and piercing adorning her nose and earlobes… she was exactly Harry’s type. Harry, who was bi, and Harry who never touched Louis in public, but that touched her. Harry, who hadn't looked in love with him in so long.

A single tear rolled down his cheek before he could stop it, and he quickly wiped it away, looking down. He swore he saw Harry looking at him, noticing the tear, but minutes passed and when he looked back up he was talking to Sam, not paying him the minimal attention. Louis shoulders went down and he had to hold the tears with all his might.
He looked around and saw everyone having fun. Nick and Tom were chatting with Cara in the shade of a close tree, all the other boys in the rinks and the girls sitting to the left of Lou, who was chatting with them. He felt alone, the only one not talking or doing anything. He sighed for what seemed to be like the millionth time just that day and got up, taking his skate with him and walking away without saying goodbye to anyone. He felt someone’s eyes burning on his back, and he was pretty sure they belonged to certain curly haired boy, but he didn’t turn and didn’t slow down and soon, he was outside the park.

He ended up in a park –a normal one, with the jungle tubes and those things all his sisters loved-, sitting alone, which he found a little strange, since it was almost summer and the day was sunny and that shit kids liked, he expected tons of children, but he was glad there weren’t, he felt like being alone and be depressed alone.
Soon enough, though, footsteps were heard and he closed his eyes behind his sunglasses, he knew those footsteps by heart, had trained his heart to beat like crazy every time he heard de slow cadency of that long, skinny body being carried by his own gigantic feet. He didn’t open his eyes for a long time, and he felt Harry sitting beside him in the bench he was perched upon. He didn’t say anything. He had nothing left to say.

“I don’t know what’s happening with you anymore” Harry said after a while, his voice soft and even, no feeling seeping through the words “and I want us to break up”
Louis didn’t do anything. He stayed seated, taking the biggest blow he had ever received in perfect silence, not allowing Harry to see that he was trying his best not to start crying and panicking. He heard it, though, loud and clear, the sound of something breaking, and he didn’t know if he had actually heard something, or if it was his paranoid mind playing games on him, but in the middle of the pain that threatened to bring him down, he thought it was coming from inside him. his first thought told him it was his heart, but maybe it was something more, something more complex than that, maybe it was his confidence in himself, maybe it was his trust, or all his dreams of a future beside the love of his live going down the drain, maybe it was all of that, or maybe it was nothing.

He didn’t say anything, and waited for Harry to say something else, he stare straight ahead, eyes still shut tightly.

“I'm sorry” he said after a while, but Louis thought bitterly that he didn’t feel sorry at all “I… I'm gonna go, sorry, Louis” he felt shuffling and then Harry was walking away, his footsteps carrying him further and further away from Louis. He should’ve just made it a couple feet away when he started crying. It was soft at first, because he could still feel his love close enough, but after a couple moments he couldn’t keep it in anymore and started sobbing his life out. He brought his legs up the bench and hugged his knees tightly, feeling like he was falling apart.

He felt Harry’s eyes on him for a moment before his steps hurried away and he was gone; from the park, from his life, from his heart. It was really a depressing thought and Louis felt like panicking.

Don’t fall too hard was what his grandma always told him, a stern look on her face, Don’t fall too hard or you’ll get hurt, there’s no other way. He had always taken her advice seriously, but when he met Harry everything had gone down the drain. He was so lovely, so charming, and he was the love of his life, so of course he fell, hard enough to bruise, and God, was it bruising.

*******

Three weeks had passed. Three weeks and he was still as broken as the first day, no hope for recovery in the near future. He carried himself through his life hunched down, head low and eyes hidden, he was afraid of what people might see in them. He barely talked to anyone who wasn’t family, or Barbara, and sometimes Lou, who had called him as soon as he heard the news and had kept on touch even though Louis no longer hung out with them.

Barbara and his mum went berserk when he told them, both of them at once, because he couldn’t bring himself to tell the story two times. They started screaming nonsense, and threats and he just zoned out, their shouts muffling with the background. Then his mum had taken a proper look at him and started crying. Barbs calmed down, too, and sat beside him, enveloping him with her arms. He didn’t cry and after an hour of coddling he went up his room, never speaking about it again.

Three weeks had passed, and he still couldn’t sleep thinking on what he had done wrong, on where he had failed, where it all went to hell. He stayed up at night, staring at his window, hoping Harry would come one night, throwing little rocks to Louis’ window. In his fantasies, Louis would get up and when he opened the window, Harry would be there, the same mischievous smirk Louis loved and would claim he missed him. In his fantasies, everything would be alright.

But the truth was, they were only fantasies, and he never saw Harry on those three weeks. He could have, he could’ve gone up the roof to watch him outside the gym, but he didn’t, because he didn’t trust himself not to beg him for another opportunity if he saw him.

******

“Hey, Lou” he called and waved his hand for Lou to see him. She did and smiled brightly at him

“Louis!” she seemed happy to see him, and enveloped his tiny frame with hers “I’ve missed you!” she cried and hugged him tightly. Louis smiled from where his face was smashed against her shoulder and laughed a little, hugging her as tight as he could

“I’ve missed you, too, Lou” he said, and ignored the lump on his throat; he definitely was not going to cry. She detached herself from him and checked him over with her arms on his shoulders, like he had not seen her in years

“You're awfully thin, Tommo” she frowned and pursed her lips “Are you okay?”

“Peachy” he lied swiftly, giving his best fake smile. She seemed to buy it, and let it go, but he knew that somewhere along the afternoon they would definitely end up talking about Louis’ worst –and possibly best- nightmare.

“If you say so” she seemed a little bit unsure, but let him escape her grip and seated in front of Louis, putting down her bag on the empty space beside her.

“So?” he prompted, taking a sip of his coke “How’s the planning going?”

The effect was immediate, as her face lit up like a Christmas tree “Amazing!” she gushed “I'm so excited!”

She immediately started talking and giving the younger boy the newest updates on hers and Tom’s wedding. The lad finally had popped the question barely two weeks ago, but the girl seemed to have everything already planned and ready to party.

“Oh, that reminds me!” she interrupted his train of thought “I'm having a party next weekend and I want you there… well, technically it’s also Sam’s but” she gestured to the air “Whatever. It’s our birthday, so there are no excuses, you have to be there”

“I don’t know” the boy shifted in his seat “Where is it going to be?”

“In a club downtown”

“I'm underage” he immediately snapped, trying his hardest to find a suitable excuse for not going. Judging her expression, he wasn’t succeeding.

“That hasn’t stopped you before” she deadpanned “Look, I know you're scared, and you're trying your hardest to avoid Harry, but you can’t hide forever. And either way, the club is big enough so he won’t even notice if you’re there”

“I don’t know” he mumbled, playing with his fingers. She sighed.

“That’s alright” she said after a while, sounding a little defeated “You know you're more than welcome to come if you want, but I won’t make you”

“Thanks, I um… I’ll try my hardest, really” he said, because he felt like a dick denying her invitation. It was just too soon, the wound still too fresh on his chest. He needed time, and a lot of glue.

She hummed noncommittally and sipped the coffee she had bought earlier.

“So, how are you?” she said, trying to play it cool

“You're not fooling anyone, Louise” he said with half a smile, the pang on his chest he had learnt to disguise still very much there every time someone or something reminded him of Harry.

“Well, whatever” she rolled her eyes “But seriously, how are doing?”

“I'm doing alright” he settled on, though it was a complete lie “Getting over him”

“Right” she hummed, clearly not believing him “Louis, you know I won’t go running to tell him you’re still pretty much shattered, right? Because everybody can see you're miles away from being over him”

“Hey” he frowned and scratched wildly his left arm “I'm doing just fine, thanks”

“He’s not” she said softly, and well, that was new. It made the movements of his nails go slower until they stopped and causing his breath to hitch up.
“I don’t care” he said, trying to sound firm, but still sounding broken as fuck

“I know you actually do” she said “and I honestly think you two are the most stupid people I know. You love each other, for fuck’s sake, you're just… You're too afraid to see that there’s nothing to be scared of”

“I'm not scared” he said maybe too quickly “and either way, he was the one who broke up with me”

“And he’s conscious of his mistake” she said, and grabbed his hand tightly “he told me he was an idiot, and that he never wanted to hurt you”

“He did anyways” he said and it sounded so… broken, so needy, it brought tears to his eyes. Why couldn’t he be strong and keep everything in? Why couldn’t he be the person who laughs and doesn’t give a shit about boy and relationship? Why does he have to be so damn sensitive all the time?

“I know, babes…” she sounded downright sad and he wiped a couple stray tears that managed to fall out of the rim of his eyes, trying to shoot her a smile.

“Stop all the heavy talk” he whined half joking and took her hand in his “I want to hear all about that wedding”

All the afternoon after that was spent gushing over some wedding magazines Lou always had in her purse, and their coffee date was quickly replaced by a wedding date, but Louis didn’t mind at all. He was more than happy to help her out, offering some valuable tips from when he helped out his mum on her third time around. Also, the wedding talk guaranteed that no more talk about Harry or his shattered state would come out again. All in all, he left the café with a smile and a feeling of lightness he had missed. Lou was really a great friend, and he had missed her like crazy.

*********

Louis was in the middle of a dilemma. It was Saturday night Lou’s birthday party just an hour away, and he seriously needed to decide whether he was going or not. He was standing in front of his mirror, thumb between his lips as he chewed anxiously on his nail, and he was just dressed in a pair of skin tight black jeans, ones he hadn't used in a very, very long time, long before he even met Harry, and with good reason because the pants clanged to all his private areas in a non-friendly way, but he wasn’t overly uncomfortable, and God, they made his bottom look delectable.

He was shirtless, though, and his hair wasn’t styles, just sitting atop of his head, still wet from his improvised shower and sending drops of water down his chest.
He had been clueless all week, really. He had come home from his wedding date with Lou, and he had not stopped wondering should he go to the party or not. In fact, just an hour ago he was pretty set on not going, dressed in his pajamas, quietly reading himself to sleep, when he saw his phone, that made him think of the text Lou had sent him that morning with all the info, and once again he was left wondering if he should go.

He sighed, and scratched lightly at his tummy, not taking his eyes off the mirror, as if his reflection would tell him what to do. In a way, it kind of did. He was staring right into his eyes, when the door in the reflection flew open, and a very angry, very dressed up Barbara came into the room.

He spun around and fuck, she was really there. He tried to smile shyly at her but she was livid.

“Don’t even try that with me, Tomlinson!” she pretty much yelled, sticking her pointer at him “I was in my house getting ready, Face-Timing Lou, when I told her I had to pick you up, and she asked me if you were going to go!”

“Oh, um” he opened his mouth to answer but she wasn’t done

“And what the fuck were you thinking, telling her no to her birthday party, that’s just not cool, Louis! So I don’t give a shit if you're scared shitless of your ex, which I think it’s completely stupid from you, you're coming with me. So put some clothes on and let’s go because it’s getting late!” her monologue said, she stomped her way out of the room and closed the door after her.

Louis was pale, mouth wide open, but he instantly tugged on his shirt and vans, and styled his hair as good as he could in such short notice. He was still a little shocked but Barbara was not a person to be messed with, so.

He took his phone and wallet and he was out of the door. Barbara was downstairs, seating on a stool in the kitchen, chatting with his mum with a wide smile on her face; smile that vanished as soon as she saw him, quickly replaced by a death glare.

“You look really handsome, Lou!” his mum gushed, like it was prom night… god, what would actually happen on his real prom? He really didn’t want to know.

“Oh, um, thanks, mum, but, we um… we should go” he said and made eye contact with Barbara, who was already pulling herself out of her seat

“He’s right, Mrs. Deakin, we shall go!”

“Of course, of course” she nodded and came over to give each of them a hug. “Behave” she said when she let them go, and waved at them like she was sending them off to war.
“She’s dramatic sometimes” he mumbled under his breath

“You had to get from somewhere” Barbara said, rather bitterly, and he sighed. Very much not forgiven yet, it seemed

They walked quietly to Barbara’s small car, Louis in the passenger, his hands playing idly in his lap, and eyes set on his jeans.

“Hey” she said after a while “I know you're scared of bumping into dickhead, but it’s alright, if you see him, I’ll break his dick”

He laughed. He couldn’t help it, really, how she sounded so serious delivering threats like that, just for him. It made his insides go mushy.

“Thanks, I guess” he said, still smiling

*************

The music was pounding his ears, making them ache a little bit, but he didn’t mind the pain, swaying with music, hips pressed firmly against a stranger’s. He was really drunk. Like, really, really drunk. He didn’t really know how it happened, either, because he was fine, he had ordered a beer while he made his rounds with everybody, catching up and realizing how much he missed the gang, and suddenly he was in the middle of the dance floor, dancing like his life depended on it, pressing against a very hard dick and mind swimming miles away from his body.

*********
His body weighted a ton. He felt heavy and the sun was hitting him right in the eyes, a splitting headache pounding his head. He groaned and tried to move to avoid the light, but everything hurt, his mouth tasted like death.

The boy whined a little, but started to really wake up, feeling his limbs starting to loosen up. He blinked and yawned… then he stopped dead, he wasn’t on his room, or in Barbara’s room.

“No, no, no” he mumbled as he tried to untangle himself from those familiar sheets, almost falling but succeeding after a while. He stood there, in the middle of a too familiar room, with clothes thrown all over the place, and a musky scent clouding his mind. He was in Harry’s room. As in, Harry Styles, his ex-boyfriend and the guy that broke his heart.

“Fuck” he said again, this time louder and proceeded to put on his clothes, since he was only on his boxers. He was scared out of his mind; not because he feared Harry made something with him, because he knew Harry wouldn’t do anything like that, but because this was Harry, and the day he successfully lied to Harry was yet to come. Fuck, he just needed to open that gorgeous mouth and Louis would spill without hesitation.

Once fully dressed, he found his wallet in the bedside table, along with his phone, plugged in and already 100% charged. He took it without dwelling too much on it, and walked outside trying to do the less noise possible, since he was definitely not looking forward to a chat with Harry. He was tiptoeing along the hallway to the front door, barely five feet away, already tasting the freedom, when…

“What are you doing?” Louis shrieked, like, properly shrieked, and turned so fast he almost burst his head from how much it was hurting. Harry was there, of course, only dressed in boxers, looking confused, holding a cup of coffee between his hands. All in all, he looked like he had been watching Louis all the time, which Louis didn’t doubt he had, he was a sneaky little thing after all.

“I, um, ow” he yelped, holding his head tight, praying for it to stop pulsing

“Hey, here” Harry held out his cup of coffee, and Louis eyed it and Harry for a whole ten seconds before he very carefully took it and sipped. As soon as the hot liquid touched his tongue he almost let out an embarrassingly loud moan, catching himself just in time.

“Thanks” he croaked out and drank the coffee, still standing awkwardly

“I, um… I really think I should go” Louis said after an uncomfortable beat, but Harry’s eyes opened wide and he took a step forward at the same time Louis did one backwards

“No, no, um… please, can we, can we talk?” Harry looked at him, hands open in front of him and a pleading look on his face, but Louis was already backing away, his bruised up heart –who was he kidding? It was more on the shattered and completely unfixable side of things- told him to stay and talk things out, to give him another chance, to just hear him out… but his mind told him no, told him to run away as soon as he could and not look back, that he would save a lot of pain if he could just forget about the pretty boy who seemed too keen on stumping on his heart.

Louis had never been one to ignore his heart… but maybe, and just maybe, there was his mistake

“I'm sorry, I just…” he started, backing until his back was against the door “I can’t” he said and quickly got out of the house. It wasn’t until he was safely home he noticed he was still holding on tightly to the coffee cup Harry had given him.

***********

“I don’t know what to do!” he cried out, hugging tightly his pillow and stuffing a whole spoon of ice cream in his mouth. Six pairs of eyes stared at him unimpressed. Since he came home from Harry’s, the first thing he did was get a good four hour nap, but once he was up, he had summoned a ‘girls and Louis’ night’ in which he had every intention of air all of his problems with junk food, maybe even catch some advice from the girls, since they claimed to be better at all that lovey stuff.

“Lou, I don’t know what you want us to tell you” Barbara said from where she was sitting on the bed besides Cara and Perrie

“You pretty much turn down everything we suggest” Perrie said, and the girls nodded

“Because you're giving me shit advice” he deadpanned, earning a slap on his head, courtesy of his mum. Which, okay, it might not be the coolest thing to have your mum in your ‘girls and Louis’ night’ but she was really good at advising people. “Sorry, mum, but it’s true… they either want me to give Harry a chance or forget about him forever”

“Are there any other options?” Cara said, and looked pointedly at him in the eye, perfect eyebrow raised

“That’s why you're here!” he cried again, throwing his arms in the air “You're supposed to be helping me!”

“We’re trying, Louis” Lou said softly and took his hand before it could touch the ice cream tube

“They are, baby” his mum chirped in and started to card her fingers through his hair “But you have to understand that there are only two options in this, honey, no alternative way or plan C, either you talk to him or you don’t and continue with your life, that’s it”

He pouted and surveyed the room, looking at everyone’s faces. Lou and Sophia –who hadn't said much, but offered her silent support in form of ice cream and consequently very much valued- were seated to his right, both perched on a trashy loveseat he hated. His mum was cuddling him on his left, Perrie, Barbara and Cara all seating cross legged by the feet of the bed and Sam –the same Sam he thought was stealing his boyfriend- was seating in the floor by the door, close enough to hear everything but far enough to make clear she didn’t care.

When Lou came, with a very bored Sam on tow, Louis had scowled at her, only to receive an apology look of her part. He knew better than to get really angry at her, since he knew that whenever Lou was, Sam was, maybe it was a twin thing, but he kind of understood. At least she didn’t try to make fun of him or rub some juicy details about Harry on his face, for which he was very grateful. She was just seating there, phone in front of her face and not giving any sign she was even listening their conversation.

She looked up the, probably feeling the weight of Louis’ eyes on her, and their eyes meet for a second before he ducked his head, playing with the hem of his shirt, back to the wondering, then.

“Do you know what happened at the party?” he asked after a minute of silence, voicing out his most pungent question “I don’t remember anything”

The girls looked to each other before shaking their hands, some ‘I'm sorry, Lou, we didn’t see anything’ and ‘I left early, so’ were heard and he sighed.

“You were drunk out of your mind” It came the clear voice of Sam, cutting the air like a knife. Everyone turned to see her with wide eyes, but none comparing to Louis’, though she seemed as cool as always “Harry saw you dancing on top of one of the tables and took you down. Then you started to cry and just like, be a proper mess. He took you out of the club because he was afraid so many people would make you anxious or some shit, he said you only got worse, full on crying and yelling and then throwing up everywhere, he couldn’t leave you there by yourself so he took you home. Nothing else” she ended, her clear eyes piercing Louis’ soul before promptly standing up and walking to the door. She was almost out completely, when she stopped and turned at him “I know you think I slept with him, but I didn’t. He’s my best friend, but he’s never been more. I'm sorry if I gave you that impression.” She smiled tightly at him before walking out.

The door was not closed yet, when she stopped. She turned, her expression focused and biting her lip. She finally looked up and gulped “I shouldn’t be saying this, but Harry is scared, too. He wants you, and he wants to touch you like you want him to, but he’s scared. He’s terrified of losing you, and well, knowing that he already has… it’s… he’s a mess, Lou”

************

Sam’s words swam on his mind all week. He went to school and then home and then to the park or the coffee shop or somewhere, and her words were still on his brain, and maybe it was the last push he needed, since just two days afterwards he gave up and found himself in Harry’s house, shifting uncomfortable before knocking on the door just twice.

“Louis?” Harry answered and Louis looked up from where he was looking at his shoes and smiled tightly at him

“You said you wanted to talk” he said after a while “I… I feel ready to talk now”

“Good” he breathed out, though he seemed scared out of his mind “I… um, do you, come in, come in, please” he stepped out of the way and opened the door wider. He guided him to the living room, where Louis immediately took the one-seat couch “Do you want tea? A beer, anything?” he seemed nervous, Louis couldn’t stop himself from noticing
“Do you have coke?” he asked and Harry nodded

“I’ll be right back” he mumbled and disappeared on the kitchen. Louis leaned on his seat and bit his lip; he just hoped he hadn't made the wrong decision. Harry came back a couple minutes later, leaving a cold coke on the coffee table in front of him, like he didn’t want to touch Louis –again. Louis stared at him, but the boy seemed a little out of it, water on his arms and framing his face.

“So, um” he started, hovering awkwardly next to the couch in front of Louis’.

“You wanted to talk to me” he said, surprising himself on how unwavering and confident his voice sounded, not at all how he felt inside, and he was so fucking grateful.
“I, yeah” he breathed out, though he started to bite his lip like he did when he was nervous. He seated and just looked at the table, face concentrated, probably wondering what to say.

“It’s just me, Hazza” his heart spoke without his consent, his voice coming out fonder that he would ever want. It made the right effect on Harry, though, because the boy relaxed visibly, shoulders falling relaxed and meeting his eyes

“I just don’t want to screw this” he confided, and Louis dicked his head. You already did, his brain wanted him to scream, but he contained himself. He was giving Harry a chance-or trying to-, he should at least hear what he had to say.

“I miss you” Louis head snapped up, utterly surprised and mouth hanging open. Judging Harry’s red beet face and mortified expression, he didn’t mean to say that out loud. Louis’ breath hitched up a bit and his heart started to beat like crazy for the boy. Tears welled up on his eyes, and he wanted to cry so badly, because after all, Harry didn’t have the right to miss Louis, didn’t have the right to let him know! He was the one who broke his heart!

“You broke up with me!” he said, lip wobbling. That made Harry widen his eyes, and had Louis been any closer, or had they been on any other circumstance, he would have cradled the boy on his arms and hold him tight and close. He didn’t, though.

“I know, I know, but… but it was a mistake” the boy sounded an awful lot like begging, and Louis head was spinning, not able to match this boy who could talk his feeling out loud and his past boyfriend, the guy who wouldn’t be caught dead touching him in public. It was kind of confusing. “It was the worst mistake of my life, even” he went on, his big green eyes searching his “I… I was scared, at first, the whole… PDA thing, it scares me, Lou, and I know you wanted to understand it, to understand me, but I never gave you a chance, and… and the whole break up thing was my fear speaking, because it was easier for me to break up with you for acting off all week, than me talking to you and finding out I was the reason why you were so sad all the time. I was a coward, and I lost the only bright thing I had in my life” the boy seemed on the verge of tears right then, and Louis was pale and silent, crying quietly as Harry’s words registered in his mind.

“I know” he said after a while of silence, his eyes falling to the ground “I know I'm not supposed to ask you anything, I know I've done enough damage in your life and, god, I can’t promise I won’t hurt you again, but I'm desperate, Lou, I need you. You're the one that I want, my only one. I was shit at showing it, but these weeks… I haven’t been the same without you. I… I know I shouldn’t, but I'm asking you, begging you, for another opportunity” he was crying now, lip wobbling as he tried to keep the sobs inside.
Louis heart was breaking all over again. He stood up, his knees wobbly and unstable when he moved to stand in front of Harry. “Hey” he said, voice broken. He waited until Harry met his eyes, and stroked his cheek carefully as if he was made of porcelain.

“I know I shouldn’t” he whispered “i know you're not the best for me and I should definitely tell you no. you hurt me…” Harry’s eyes fell and another wave of tears fell out of his eyes “But you're one of the few people worth risking my heart for. I love you, and I promised to wait to for you, and you should know I always keep my promises”
By then Harry was looking at him with wide eyes with an awed look on them. Louis leaned over, his hands threading through Harry’s hair and breathed in his boy’s scent, musky and masculine, and just so him, he felt like fainting.

“Don’t hurt me like that again” he whispered, full of vulnerability and fear, before he gently put his lips over Harry’s. They kissed slowly, lovingly, and wetly, their tears falling from their eyes and making the kiss taste like love, and regret and hope.

“I love you” Harry said as soon as they pulled apart, his eyes red from crying but still looking like the most beautiful person Louis had ever seen. He probably was.

******

Three hours later, Lou and Sam made their way inside Harry’s house, since they always had movie night on Thursdays, only to find Harry on the couch, with a very smiley and cuddly Louis on his lap. They were both enthralled on each other, heads close and whispering contently. Lou’s smile was incomparable, and Sam only rolled her eyes
“It’s about time” she piped in, leaning on the wall, arching an eyebrow at the couple. It was comical really, how wide Louis’ eyes went and how quickly he tried to get away from Harry’s lap, before the other boy slipped a hand around his waist and made him fall to his chest again. He was stiff under Louis, and the boy knew he was not ready for such step so he looked into his eyes confusedly.

“You're perfect just where you are” he said, making Louis smile and cuddle closer to the boy. As Harry looked down to Louis, while the girls gushed over them and got ready for the movie night, taking in Louis’ soft features and feathery hair, he couldn’t help but think he really, really was.