Styles Books was Harry’s life and pride. He had inherited from his grandfather and it was located on a small street in the center of London. It was modest and cozy and every day he opened his bookstore, ready for a new day filled with people thirsty for the experiences that sometimes only a book can offer. Endless stories about pirates and princesses and vampires and fairies and distant lands and sometimes even stories about people and their troubles, the little things that got to your heart and made you cry and think about it, about everything.
He liked mostly to watch the people that came in. Punk rockers who bought sensitive books, old couples looking for romances to pass time, nerdy types buying sci-fi, intellectuals looking for every poetry books they could find, people looking for book series, best sellers. All kinds of people, with all kinds of taste, looking for that one thing that would make their days better, the light at the end of the tunnel, or simply a way of chasing away boredom. Watching people really had to be his favorite part!
Two months after he took over the store, Harry saw a handsome guy coming into the store in the middle of the afternoon. He seemed tired, like he carried the weight of the world on his shoulders but had a smile that could light up the entire London, and blue eyes that looked like they could’ve been two lighthouses, but now seemed dull and sad, except when he readed.
That first day, the guy stayed there reading for the whole day. Even though every kind of people would come and go, he couldn’t tear his gaze away for more than five minutes. Something about that guy called his attention. He went out about half an hour before closing time. The next day he came in earlier, by the time the shop was open and left thirty minutes before closing time. And it was like that for another day.
Only that day Harry was going to the shop near the store after closing to buy something to eat and just as he turned the corner he saw the guy, lying on the floor with the duffel bag he seemed to carry everywhere serving as a pillow and a blanket thrown over him. Harry felt like it wasn’t his place to come to the guy and ask why he was there, at least not at the time, so he didn’t. Since he didn’t seem to see him, he went home.
He couldn’t sleep that night.
The next day the guy came in just as he opened the shop and got the book he was reading the day before to finish. Harry approached him and cleared his throat.
“Hm, excuse me… Can I talk to you?” He asked uncertain and saw the guys’ eyes widen.
“Oh my God, is it not okay if I come in and read? I’m sorry, it’s just I used to do it back home.” He says the word “home” as it pains him, but he covers it up quickly. “I’m sorry, really, I’ll just go.” He’s already getting up.
“No it’s okay! It’s just…” Harry cuts himself, thinks it’s none of his business, but he can’t stop worrying. “I saw you sleeping on the corner last night.” He says trying not to stumble through his words. “That got me pretty worried, I mean… Don’t you have anywhere to go?” He feels a knot in his gut after asking the question he’d been avoiding all night.
The guy looks down and visibly gulps, his eyes unbearably sad. “I-um… I don’t have anywhere to go. I actually came to London without really thinking and now I actually have no money, to go back, or go to another place, or anything.” Harry’s heart clenched at that and he reached to pat his shoulder.
“Have you eaten?” Harry notes the pale tone in the guy’s skin as he looks at him with big blue eyes and then looks down again before shaking his head. “Would you like tea? And a sandwich?” The guy chews on his lips and nods shyly. Harry smiles and stands up. “My name is Harry, by the way. Harry Styles. I’m the owner.”
“My name is Louis. Louis Tomlinson.” The guy, Louis, says smiling a bit. Harry leads him to the back of the store and leaves the guy who works there, Niall, to watch the shop.
Harry makes Louis a sandwich and a good cup of tea, and he tries to eat like he isn’t so hungry, but Harry can almost feel it, so he makes another one. Louis gives him a grateful little smile and eats that sandwich too, with another cuppa. He looks a bit more alive at the end of the meal, and Harry decides to have tea and a something to eat waiting for him every day.
They make this silent agreement. From that day Louis goes there every day to read at opening time, eats with Harry and sometimes at lunch time Niall buys them takeaway –usually Nando’s- and they eat it over a pleasant conversation. They talk about everything, music, books, tv shows and bond over tea and books. Before Louis showered on a gas station near, but now he showered on the bathroom at the back of the store.
By the end of the first week, Harry decides to invite Louis to sleep in his flat, which is above the shop. He asks at closing time.
“Thank you Haz, but you’re already being so good for me… I can’t accept.” He says with a small smile.
Harry feels a small twist on his gut. It was about to start getting cold and Louis couldn’t keep going like that. “Are you sure?” He bites his lips with pleading eyes and Louis almost gives up to this boy, this beautiful boy who couldn’t be so much younger than himself, and had such a big heart, but as soon as he realizes his thoughts, he backs out.
“Really Haz, thank you.” He smiles a little and gets out of the store. He finds a place to sleep where he knows Harry won’t pass, not wanting him to see him like that anymore, but he can barely sleep.
By the second week, he’s made new friends. One of Harry’s friends, Zayn, comes to the store to visit and buy some books with his boyfriend Liam. He’s the classic intellectual type, all plaid shirt and big glasses, but also very handsome and with some kind of classic style, with his quiff and the tattoos and the cigarette that seemed to always be between his lips.
Liam seems more of a sports type, and it’s clear how much he admires and loves Zayn. They fit together in a way Louis’d never seen before, and he found it extremely cute, all secret smiles and bright eyes. Louis found them endearing, and they were great people, and they chatted all day.
Harry invited him to his flat every night, and every night Louis refused it. He just couldn’t! He felt that he was slowly falling in love with the curly haired boy that became the sun to him, and he was afraid of losing him. He was afraid of showing his feelings and scare him off like he did with everyone else in his life.
On the third week since he met Harry, it was already starting to get cold. It only made harder to deny his daily requests of going with him. One day Harry couldn’t hold in the question he’d been wanting to ask since he met him.
“Lou, why... Why are you homeless? I mean, I know it’s not my place to ask, but.” He cuts himself and breathes through his nose. “But I’m worried. And you don’t look like you were always on the streets. And this can’t be easy!”
Louis looked down as Harry finished what he was saying, and he just looked so small all of a sudden. Harry never realized just how small Louis was before, and it made his heart ache. It was endearing, but also made it harder to believe that he would be okay alone in the streets, surviving the big bag world. He felt a need to protect Louis like he never did with anyone, and it made him sad that Louis wouldn’t let him do more than he already did.
“I…” Louis started a bit chocked up. He breathed deeply and just let it all out. He owed it to Harry. “I’m gay. And I told my family. I thought my mom would be okay, but…” His breathing became shallow and fast. “She threw me out. She said she didn’t want a faggot as a son, she said… She said she didn’t have a son.” And he was full on crying now. Harry’s heart ached and he held him tight. Louis buried in face on his neck and cried.
“It’s okay Lou, it’s okay. You don’t need to tell me more, I’m sorry I asked.” He said passing a hand through his feathery head, the other arm around the small of his back, feeling the sobs cut through his body and make him shake like an oak tree.
“No, I-I’ll t-tell you everything. I… I told my best friend. My best friend, Harry! And he said he didn’t want me to be near him. Said I took advantage of our friendship to see him naked. But it wasn’t like that Harry, I never felt anything besides friendship, it just wasn’t like that!” He said and couldn’t speak for a good five minutes, sobs cutting through his body. Harry held his body like he was fragile, like he could break at any moment, and Louis was grateful for that. For the first time since it all happened, he felt like he mattered for someone.
“It’s ok Lou… You have me now.” Harry whispered near his ear and felt Louis arms tighten around him.
“I came to London with with all my stuff in a bag and all the money I had, which wasn’t much. I was just glad I had finished school, but I couldn’t find a job, and I didn’t go to Uni, and I had nowhere to live. And one day I stumbled with your shop, and I always liked to read, and I came in and… And I’m glad I came in. I’m so glad, Harry!” Louis said still crying, and Harry couldn’t take it. He couldn’t take the feeling of Louis being this broken, this hurt. Of the people who mattered to him, who were supposed to love him no matter what hurting him because they were shallow. Harry’s heart ached, but not only ached for a friend. His heart ached with love for this boy, this small beautiful boy who came into his life so suddenly, and changed everything with his loud laugh and his mischievous way.
So Harry kissed him. He held his face and kissed him. With love, protection, like all he wanted was to take all the pain and just make him feel loved. Louis gave in to him for a moment, before he pulled away with wide eyes.
He took his bag and left the store in a rush.
He had been gone for three days. Harry was worried sick, and he had Niall, Liam and Zayn looking for Louis nonstop.
He screwed up! He kissed Louis in an impulse and ruined everything. Now his boy was in big bad London, without anyone to look out for him, to take care of him, probably hungry and alone and it was so cold! It had started snowing, and it was just so cold.
But he came in by the night of the third day. Shaking to his bones, and looking pale, blue and hungry, but mostly scared. Harry could barely stop himself from knocking him out as he ran to hug him.
“Louis, I was so worried! You’re freezing, come here.” He said and took Louis’ bag from him and took him to the back room, where Niall was eating supper.
Niall’s eyes widened almost comically, and he stopped eating to hug Louis. “You had us worried sick, man! Why’d you run away like that?” Louis looked at Harry and saw understanding cross Niall’s eyes. Harry had told him, Louis was sure. “I’ll… Let Zayn and Liam know. And I’ll leave you two, I think you need to talk.”
Harry nodded and Niall left the room. He wrapped Louis in a blanket that was behind the small couch and made him tea the way he learned Louis liked, and also a sandwich ‘cause he knew Louis was hungry. Then he went out of the room for a second and brought back the book Louis didn’t finish before he left, and Louis’ heart warmed.
“I’ll leave you if you want. You need to warm up, or you’ll get sick. I can get you soup if you want.” Harry said a bit awkwardly, but was startled by Louis’ voice.
“I’m sorry I ran out like that. I just was afraid that I would ruin everything with you too. I panicked.” He said sheepishly and took a sip of his tea. As he warmed, Harry could see the color coming back to his face, and his lips weren’t blue anymore. “I just… I’m in love with you, Harry. I’m in love with you, and I couldn’t afford to ruin everything and lose you. But I realized that I was losing you by running away. And I realized I don’t know how to live without you taking care of me anymore. I don’t know how to live without you caring for me. And if you liked me enough to kiss me, then I… I should take a chance.” He looked up and Harry could see the fear in his eyes. He had been so hurt before for being who he is, and Harry could see he was afraid of being hurt again. But Harry also saw hope, and that’s what moved him.
Harry kneed in front of him by the couch and looked into deep blue eyes that made him feel goosebumps. “I want to be with you. I want to show you that you can be loved. And I bet my family will love you just as much. My mum accepted when I told her I was bisexual, and she said she wanted me to be happy and you make me happy, Louis. I didn’t know you could fall for someone so fast, but I did fell for you. And I want to be with you. And you’re so lovely! You’ll have a new family if you want. Not just my family, but Niall and Liam and Zayn, they were all so worried, and they will be a family for you just as they are for me. Please, don’t run away anymore. It’s snowing and I was so afraid and I knew you probably were freezing and hungry.” Louis nodded once and Harry almost cried. His boy was away for three days, and he was in fact as hungry and cold and sad as he looked. “You have us now. You don’t need to go through that again. You can work at the shop and it will be ok. And you have me. Ok?”
Louis looked up at Harry, looked deep into his green eyes, trying to find any trace of doubt in anything he said, but all he could see was honesty and concern. He raised his hand, now warmed by the teacup, and touched Harry right beneath his eyes, on the dark circle that proved how much he was concerned while Louis was away. Harry closed his eyes and just felt Louis touch, but he wasn’t expecting to feel Louis' lips in his a second later.
The kiss was slow and perfect and they poured everything into it, every feeling. The fear of losing each other, the hurt, but mostly the love. The love that grew between then in less than a month, but they could feel it was forever. Louis ended the kiss and kept his eyes shut, his forehead on Harry’s.
“I’m in love with you too. It scares the living shit out of me how in love I am, but I don’t wanna lose you.” He said and opened his eyes to see the huge grin on Harry’s face. Harry kissed him again and sat on the couch beside him. He cuddled Louis and he ate his sandwich and finished his tea while reading the book Harry brought him.
By closing time, Louis was feeling sleepy and warm and, most of all, loved. He closed the book and leaned closer to Harry, who kissed the hair behind his ear. “I have to close the store. Do you wanna come sleep in my flat?” Harry asked lowly on his ear, the same question he’d been asking every night for the last three weeks.
Louis looked at him, a small smile forming in his lips. “Yes, I want to sleep in your flat.” Harry smiled and gave him a sweet kiss, just a brush of lips. He got up to close the store with Niall, and after everything was set, he took the bag that held everything Louis had in this world in one hand, Louis’ hand in the other.
That night Louis realized he could be loved. He could be loved and taken care of and could love back without being afraid. That night Louis went to Harry’s flat.
He never left.