Louis thinks this empty feeling deep inside him, like shattered glass on the kitchen tiles or a dried flower forgotten in a rainstorm, is the feeling people get when they’re sad. He doesn’t remember ever being sad before, not like this anyways. He remembers the sadness of a dropped ice cream cone or losing a football game, but somehow it doesn’t feel the same.
He doesn’t want to move, ever. He would be content to lie in bed and stare at the taupe ceiling for hours, or maybe fall asleep and never wake up. That’d be nice, at least in his dreams he feels somewhat happy, especially when the boy with the stupid curls shows up and pleasures his subconscious being with smiles and dimples and other cute features that constantly haunt his waking thoughts. At least in his dreams his mind can pretend that he and Harry are together, that they’re happy and free like two eagles floating high above the clouds, salmon in their mouths to bring back to their young.
When Louis is awake he can’t escape reality, everywhere he goes the stupid boy is there with his stupid smile and dimples and hair and green eyes and really, he should be more considerate. Doesn’t he know Louis crumbles, like an old cobblestone walkway, weather eroding the stones down to dust, every time he smiles, every time he laughs at something Louis didn’t say or do?
They’re told they’re needed in ten minutes for pre-show interviews with local radio and broadcasting stations and Louis feels tired. It’s no longer physical, he’s gotten used to the aches and pains of sleeping on a tour bus, but he hasn’t familiarized himself with the emotional toll of seeing Harry every day and not being able to touch, and he thinks that might be more tiring than exhaustion caused by a lack of sleep.
They perform brilliantly, of course they do, but every concert is the same and Louis is getting bored and tired of the same routine. He’s lying in bed one evening, long past an appropriate hour to be awake, when he thinks of the most brilliant plan. He’ll run away. It’s simple really, as long as he somehow manages to get past security whenever they stay in a hotel next. He’ll run off, somewhere far away where nobody can find him and start over.
It’s simple, and it’s bound to work. Nobody will notice he’s left until it’s far too late. He knows he'll be doing the band a favour, he’s got the weakest voice, he’s the ugliest, not the mention the fattest, and he’s the messiest member, worse than Niall, and Liam is always yelling at him to pick up his dirty laundry and discarded socks. Besides, he’s not even funny anymore. He used to be funny, back when he had the world at his fingertips and he was constantly trying to impress Harry. But that’s different now; Harry doesn’t like him like that, won’t ever care for Louis the way Louis cares for Harry.
He misses his family and it hurts to know that, if he runs away like he plans to, he may never see them again. It would be far too risky to go back to a predictable location like Doncaster. But he knows freedom will be worth it, at least he hopes it will be. It has to be, giving up his world because he can’t take the misery of seeing Harry every day and not being able to be with him, while that might seem stupid to others, it makes perfect sense to Louis. Because nobody knows Harry like Louis does, and knowing every aspect of the boy and not being able to love him like he yearns to may be the most painful experience Louis has ever had to go through, and the fame and money only makes it worse.
He thought he’d enjoy having girls throw themselves on him daily, he thought he’d enjoy the constant stream of money filling his bank account and getting paid to sing. But he didn’t, still doesn’t, and it’s times like these where he thinks it’s not worth it, none of it is. Being famous isn’t fun, it’s difficult and scary and Louis knows he should be used to it by now, should grow up and be a man but he doesn’t want to grow up. He wants to run away and hide under his blanket, torchlight illuminating the sheets around him until his mum comes with a plate of cookies and sits on the foot of his bed, waiting patiently for him to explain while Louis cries into her shoulder.
The next night, he chooses Iceland because he’s always wanted to visit but hasn’t told anyone about that particular dream. He’s got his plan all figured out, the only problem being his inability to pack a suitcase. It’s surprisingly hard to do so, especially when the suitcase must contain all the necessities for starting his new life in Iceland.
“Welcome to Iceland.” Louis finally lets the breath he’s seemingly been holding all flight out and stands, stretching his arms out and yawning. He’s exhausted, mentally and physically, but finally being away from the constant familiar faces is more liberating than he’d expected.
He picks his luggage up at the single carousel and follows the signs to the taxi station. His limbs hurt and his bag is heavier than he’d remembered but he’s too tired to care. He tells the taxi driver the address of vacation rental he’d ordered a week ago and slouches into the comfortable leather seats that smell faintly like sea salt and tobacco. It reminds him of Zayn but he tries to distract himself from such thoughts by watching the passing scenery. Iceland is beautiful and he wonders why they’d never scheduled a concert here, but he’s glad they haven’t because maybe less people will recognize him, but he’s wearing his special sunglasses and beanie just in case.
He pulls out his phone, quickly remembering that he’d disconnected his contract yesterday and is quite pleased with the realization that nobody can contact him or track his phones GPS system. He lets out a manly giggle, rolling down his window and chucking the useless phone into the field of grass along side the roadway. The sun is shining and he feels content, not necessarily happy but not sad either; he thinks that must mean something.
The woman that rents out the apartment is one of the loveliest humans he’s had the privilege of being in contact with. She greets him with tea and scones, offering a walking tour of the little village surrounding the small but quaint cottage. She doesn’t seem to recognize him, even when he takes off his sunglasses, and on the off chance she does know who he is, he’s very thankful she doesn’t mention anything.
When the woman, Marta, leaves him to unpack and get situated, he goes grocery shopping.
He doesn’t remember the last time he’d done something domestic like picking up milk, but he enjoys it more than he would have expected to.
The village he’s staying in doesn’t get much global news, typically the newspaper is one page describing the weeks market prices and events, but when Louis spots his own name on the headline, he panics. He knows he should pick it up, but he’s been meaning to check the time of the Saturday dance and it just kind of happens.
According to the news story, “Louis Tomlinson, 22, from the world famous boy band, One Direction, has strangely disappeared while on tour in The States. Band members are very worried…” Louis feels sick. He violently crumples up the newspaper and throws it in a nearby rubbish bin, turning on his heal and running home, not bothering to answer to newspaper boy’s frantic calls.
He throws up the moment he steps foot into the bathroom and doesn’t leave for five hours, the smell of his own sick filling the air around him. He locks himself in the cottage for two days, only leaving when he runs out of toilet paper.
Within a week he’s almost fully recovered from his attack, but he stays far away from any more newspapers, instead asking his neighbors and new friends for local times and information.
He’s at the weekly Saturday dance when the music stops and a voice comes on the loudspeaker. He feels sick the moment he hears it. “Louis, I know you’re here. Meet me outside, now.” It’s Harry and he sounds angry, pissed even. Louis doesn’t know what to do, he’s stuck mid dance, arms out to his sides but he can’t seem to move. How in the world did Harry find him? Wasn’t he careful? What did he do wrong? A long list of questions whizzes through his brain but the music had begun again and his friends were pushing him outside, apparently unaware at the magnitude of the situation.
“I’ve missed you.” Louis doesn’t have to turn around to know Harry is pressed against the brick wall but he doesn’t sound mad anymore, instead he sounds tired and stressed and a little bit sad, but Louis can’t imagine why. Harry should’ve been happy to have Louis gone, to finally be free from the annoyingly clingy boy because really, Louis did him a favour by leaving, so why was Harry here and why did he miss him?
“Why are you here.” It comes out colder than he’d planned, but he doesn’t really mind. Not when the boy behind him, who he’s still too afraid to look at, has caused him so much pain. Louis has a right to be angry.
“Because. I’ve missed you.” Now Louis knows he sounds sad, but why? “God Louis, just look at me please.”
Louis turns around and immediately regrets it. Harry looks horrible, he’s got thick circles under his eyes, causing him to look highly sleep deprived, and even in the dim streetlight Louis can tell his eyes aren’t shinning, instead looking dull and lifeless like a murky pond. Louis knows he shouldn’t feel guilty, but he can’t help but blame himself. He’s tried harder than anything to forget about Harry, to push away all thoughts about him, but at the end of the day, he’s in love with him and three weeks away from the stupid boy doesn’t change his feelings, although he desperately wishes they would’ve.
His heart catches in his throat and he wants to cry, to scream out, because Harry isn’t supposed to be here. He was supposed to never see him again, to escape from the eternal heartache Harry brings him.
“Louis, Louis please.” Harry looks and sounds terrible, likes it pains him to be near Louis and he hates himself for causing the boy misery. “I miss you. I need you. Louis, I… I love you.” Harry sighs, and Louis coughs. He can’t take it anymore, he can’t have Harry here, within an arms length away (when did Harry get so close?) and hear him say the three words he’s longed to say to the boy and to hear in return, but he knows Harry doesn’t mean it the way Louis would.
“Harry” his voice sound forced and he feels like he might choke on his own saliva but he whispers, “Please Harry. Leave me alone. You don’t love me, not like I love you.” Louis turns around, fully prepared to run away again, but a strong hard grasps his bicep, preventing his escape. Harry looks sad and Louis feels sad and they both want to cry but neither of them can.
“Shut up, you don’t know anything. Maybe if you looked at me once in awhile you would see the way I look at you. Don’t you see it Lou? Don’t you see how much I love you? Come on Louis, don’t be like this.” Louis feels Harry tug at his arm, pulling him impossibly close and soon he’s floating. Harry’s lips are on his lips and he can’t breathe but he doesn’t really want to. The kiss is simple and sweet, just a light press of lips together and when they break apart Louis can’t help but gasp. His world has turned on his axis and he can’t find it in himself to care about anything but Harry and Harry’s lips and wow. Louis smiles at the boy whose hand is still grasped around his arm and Harry smiles back. “How, how’d you find me?” Louis giggles like a schoolgirl who’s just had her first kiss.
“We have lots of time to discuss details later” Harry smirks, winking at Louis before continuing, tone suddenly serious, “I was wondering, since you left and all, would you mind if I um, joined you? Like, how you ran away and stuff, I could maybe stay with you for a while until everyone forgets about us and stuff? Would that be alright?”
Louis grins, leaning up on his tiptoes to kiss the boy on the forehead. “I’d love that.”
They spend ten years in Iceland. Martha lets them buy the cottage and they spend far too many hours sleeping in, cuddling on the couch, watching the sunrise over the fields, and kissing on the kitchen counter. Their life of fame seems like a distant dream, although sometimes the memories feel more like nightmares.
When Louis looks at his life, he thinks this feeling of being totally filled, like a large bouquet of flowers or a twin sized bed with two full grown men curled around each other, is a lot like the feeling of being in love. And with Harry by his side, he finally feels happy and free, like they’re two eagles floating high above the clouds without a care in the world.