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He doesn't open his eyes just yet. His head hurts. "God, you're useless in an emergency." Louis now, Harry's certain, but he's all terse. "What's your great idea?" Zayn asks, just as snippy. "We should get Paul," Liam suggests. "We need to get him to a hospital." Harry manages to crack an eye open, at that. "Bloody hell. Calm down," he says, slowly, looking up at the circle of faces hovering above the couch. "Oh, thank god," Niall mutters, looking ridiculously relieved, and Harry squints at him for a moment. "Hey, look. You didn't kill him," Zayn says, mock-encouraging, slapping Niall on the back. "We're going to be in so much trouble," Liam says. "We?" Louis repeats, "I didn't brain him with the controller." He runs his hand through Harry's hair, almost absently, in a way he hasn't for months, now, and Harry presses into the touch, instinctively. "I didn't realise he was behind me!" Niall protests. Then, to Harry, "Mate, I'm really sorry." Harry licks his lips before replying. "FIFA?" "I beat Liam 7-2," Niall says, proudly, and Harry gives him a weak thumbs up, closing his eyes again. "Oh, no, don't do that," Liam says, urgently. "I read once that you're meant to keep people with concussions awake." There's a long pause (and Harry doesn't have to open his eyes to see the sceptical looks from the other guys), then a slightly defensive, "Or maybe I saw it on TV." "I thought that was a myth," Louis says, almost thoughtfully. "I don't have a concussion," Harry says, without opening his eyes. "Are you a doctor?" Zayn asks, which, Harry feels, is a little uncalled for. "I'll get Paul," Liam decides, and Harry groans. Louis crouches next to the couch. "We probably should get you checked out," he allows, touching Harry's cheek lightly with the back of his fingers. Harry opens his eyes and smiles slightly. "OK." Then, because he's honestly curious, "How long was I out?"
Louis tweaks his nose before answering, and they're both smiling, now. "Only a couple of seconds." Liam returns with Paul in tow, and when Paul sees them all surrounding Harry, he gets that look on his face, like he can't quite remember why he took this job. "I'll bring the car around," he says, as Louis and Niall help Harry sit up, before doubling back and dropping a heavy hand on Harry's shoulder. "You feeling alright?" Paul asks, genuinely. "Never better," Harry says, mildly. Niall nudges him with his elbow, still apologetic and Harry drops his head onto Niall's shoulder for a moment in reply. "I'll go with them," Louis says, lacing up his shoes, which is - Harry was expecting Liam. Or Zayn. But this is good. He's not complaining.
(In the back seat of the car, Harry closes his eyes against downtown Toronto flying past and - yeah. He's definitely felt better. Louis' hand lands on his, giving it a comforting squeeze, and when Louis doesn't let go, Harry lets himself smile again, just a little).
*** "What's the verdict?" Liam asks, head whipping around, when they return. "Is he going to make it?" Zayn asks, melodramatic and wide-eyed, and he almost manages to keep a straight face. "I'm fine," Harry says. "We should've asked to see his credentials," Louis muses, "I'm not certain he was a real doctor." Harry laughs, tiredly. "He was nice." "He gave you Panadol," Louis says. "Because I'm fine," Harry says, again. "We just need to keep an eye on him for the next couple of days," Louis says, to the others, "And he's meant to ice his head if it hurts." He snorts, quietly, almost contemptuously. "Ridiculous."
"I'm really glad you're OK, Harry," Niall says, and he still looks a little guilty, so Harry waves at him, dismissively, before he can apologise again. "I," Harry says, "am going to go lie down for a bit." "Good idea," Louis says, solemnly, still hovering at his side. He strips down to his boxers, tossing his shirt in the direction of his bunk (and Liam doesn't even chide him about any of it, bloody hell, the perks of mild concussions) and goes to brush his teeth - and, of course, Louis follows him into the bathroom. "You right?" he kids, like this band hasn't already broken down every barrier possible, broken them down and broken them apart, like they still have privacy and secrets, like Harry doesn't know these four guys better than he's ever known anyone. Louis smiles. "Quite." Harry shrugs. "Carry on," he says, grabbing his toothbrush. "Seriously, though," Louis says, closing the door behind him, and Harry's eyebrows are rising, "Don't do that again." He wraps an arm around Harry's waist and pulls him into a hug. "Thanks, Lou," Harry says, pressing his temple to Louis', briefly, because he's been fluent in the lines between what Louis' not saying for years, now. Louis pulls back a little and kisses him, soft and fast. "What are you doing?" Harry whispers, and Louis snickers, pressing a quick kiss to Harry's chin. "Cute." He kisses Harry again, slower, dirtier, and Harry pulls away, licking his lips, once, out of habit. "Lou - what about Eleanor?" he asks, helplessly, and Louis' face creases in confusion as he pulls back too. "When did you talk to El?" he asks, and Harry's just as confused as him. Possibly more. "I ... didn't?" he says, slowly. "OK," Louis says. "Um. Good? Why are we even talk-" he reaches out and touches Harry's waist again, lightly; Harry flinches away, and Louis looks hurt. "I'm not going to - not while you have a girlfriend," and his stomach's twisting unhappily. He's missed this - missed Louis, so much - but he can't. Not like this. "A girlfriend," Louis repeats, face now carefully blank, hand falling back to his side. Harry shrugs. "Yeah." "As in, Eleanor."
OK. "Band emergency. toothbrush still dangling from his hand." Louis finally says. come on." He touches the small of Harry's bare back before slipping out of the bathroom. lazily. How is he the one with the head injury? "Harry. yeah?" Zayn again. "Isn't 'code red' fire?" Liam asks. "Yeah. if Louis was ." Zayn plays along. "Louis. brow creased again. and Harry shakes his head. amused. Curly. ." Louis says." Harry reminds him. "Yeah. "Code red. Liam sounds mock-resigned. "Night. ignoring them. fond and quiet.there's something wrong. With Harry's memory.the doctor checked him out. did you start a fire?" "I think . "Well." Louis says. "Yeah. But he thinks I'm still with Eleanor." he hears Louis snap. before." And that sounds like maybe they . he'd know if they'd. "About . no. "OK." Louis says." Harry opens his eyes. "I thought . "'s OK. and rubs his eyes." Louis says. *** He avoids Louis' thoughtful gaze when he leaves the bathroom..A beat. Night. but Louis follows him to his bunk. as Louis pulls the curtain closed behind him." Niall breathes. "Jesus fuck." "Yeah?" It's an expression of Louis' Harry can't quite read. and someone mutes the TV. OK? "You texted her this morning about meeting us in LA.he'd just know. poking his head around the curtain before Harry's even lying down. Harry can tell.." And seriously. hesitantly. exhaustion creeping over him." he mumbles. slightly.but. "I think it is. flatly. "The fuck?" Niall's laughing. smoothing the hair off Harry's forehead. Harry grins. "Code red?" Zayn asks. suddenly serious.
" Harry echoes him from before." Louis says. rolling his head towards Harry's on the pillow. freezing when Harry meets his gaze. yeah. because Louis hasn't crawled into his bunk for the better part of two years. "He wouldn't. again." is all Liam says. all brusque and clipped." "Yeah. Niall. "See what she thinks." Harry admits." Niall says. I'll call Anne in the morning." "That's true. quietly. "You sure he's not just fucking with you?" Zayn asks." Harry says." Louis says. head knocks and all). "Didn't mean to wake you. Where he is. again (smiles so much. as his hand creeps under the blanket. settling in beside him. as his hand rubs lazy circles on Harry's bare stomach. He knows us." he says. just as softly. and." Harry says. and a corner of Louis' mouth curls up. "Not . sure. "You never know." Louis says." Louis says. ." Someone murmurs their agreement."Lou. "I think.not about this. and he's close. "Yeah?" Louis asks. "Don't.I don't know." Louis' reply is quick. *** Harry stirs when Louis pulls back the curtain again. so easily today. unconvincingly. "You think there's something wrong with my memory. "Hey." There's a long pause. rolling over to make room for him. seriously. maybe." "He might sleep it off. "He knows .who he is. "Jesus. "I was just checking on you. "Hey. he's smiling a little. finally. so close. and Louis smiles." he whispers. "Maybe." Liam says. low and gentle." "Couldn't sleep. I just . "you've had a really fucked-up day.
17 Black. Where Things I can should benothing. He wipes clear a bit of the mirror and turns to the side. He didn't notice yesterday (which. It's a tiny soccer ball. The star. standing under the hot water until he's pink and pruning. Liam's giving him a look. one by one. different. "Ta. and he pulls the skin around it taut as he studies it. yeah. but he doesn't know why or where he got it. The masks. that bothers him. at his chest. um. thoughtful and wary. Hi. "Morning." Harry's not an expert. and god. Mostly Louis. and touches his fingertips to his tattoos. just because. "What?" he asks.*** He wakes up alone the next morning. "Coffee?" Liam offers.finds only Liam.and traces the inside of his elbow. and that. The iced gem. (He smiles and prods that one again. and Harry grunts his agreement before his eyes focus on Liam properly. but"What happened to your hair?" he says. lightly. The padlock. curiously. What the fuck? *** When they arrive at the next hotel. The hanger.. cocking his head to the side. lightly. Louis and his stupid face and stupid hands and stupid mouth). sometimes. so Harry reaches out to take his coffee. like Louis. Most of them are there. But Liam seems to have grown his buzz cut out. absently.refuses to check Liam's face now . and wanders into the kitchenette. It's kind of cool. There's one he doesn't recognise. a little hesitantly. he's as bad as Zayn. concerned. overnight. . Which is sort of reassuring. now." he mumbles. "It looks .." he adds and something else he didn't notice in the dark of last night. looking for the others . He had other things on his mind. He puts the mug down slowly . is fair enough. Liam touches his head. doesn't know the story. He likes it a lot). Harry takes an extra-long shower. scratching.
Harry likes pranks.. "Shopping. are you-" and Louis leans forward and braces his elbows on his thighs.. "put some ." Louis shrugs. and it's a shitty. towel low around his waist." he says. "You've been together for like . he's not proud . But that was ages ago." Louis jerks his chin in a half-nod. "Urgent errand. pulling on a pair of black cotton boxers. You said that I thought you were still with Eleanor. shitty thing for Louis to do (Louis who knows. the one he needs. "Right. "Is that . "last night. Niall's been working out. "Hey. who must ." Louis mutters. "Hurts more where I hit the floor. before lightly pressing the egg on the back of his head. yeah. a year and a half?" "No. I guess. because. "Where are the others?" Harry asks. "This isn't funny." Harry says.and no." he kids. "I'm just gonna -" Harry gestures at his suitcase." Harry perches on the end of the bed." Louis' lips twitch. eyes bright. "and my tattoos and-" this is the big one. pants on. "You and I-" and he doesn't know how. and Harry ignores him." "No. for the first time.. sounding as confused as he looks. Lou.but that's wrong. frustration creeping into his voice.." Louis says." he deadpans.He's not surprised that Louis' hanging out on his couch when he opens the bathroom door." he says. there's a part of him that wants to hear that they broke up . "Not bad. Louis looks up from his phone. aloud." Louis pauses. "Understandable." he cuts him off. "I told you that guy wasn't a real doctor. "Suit yourself. "I don't understand what's happening.. automatically. instinctively. Harry knows what he's going to say. Pranks are funny. lightly. "How's-" Louis gestures at him.. "How's your head today?" Harry touches his forehead." Louis echoes. "El and I dated for a few months. But this is cruel." "Yeah. "Hey." Harry admits. "Liam's hair-" and Louis makes such a confused face that Harry'd laugh if this wasn't so serious. but in that moment. or something?" The corners of Harry's mouth curl up a little.
About this. "We agreed. almost indifferently. "You and I were . so badly. even as a tiny part of him wonders how Louis could change his tattoos. that Harry loves him. "Maybe I just wanted to hear your voice. "If only there was a way for me. how Louis could grow out Liam's hair. .has become so quietly. settles over him. it'll be online. to believe that.whatever. who . back to Louis. "Haz. "You can't possibly have another song to promote. helplessly. Haz. To anywhere in the world. "Any of them." And Harry wants. Just got out of the shower. He shrugs. because it was awful enough the first time around. and Nick snorts. we agreed that you wouldn't hold that against me." "Shut up. gives himself at least the illusion of privacy. as a warm familiarity. But he doesn't want to wait and he knows someone who will tell him. Then they acknowledged that the band might actually be going places." Louis says." Nick greets him. you know." And he almost does. Then Louis called it all off. won't lie. rock star?" "Oh. "Hell. and Harry grins. They'll tell you. from the side of the bed. equilibrium. mock flirtatiously. never stopped loving him). And Zayn. Then Harry knew that he loved Louis more than Louis loved him. waving an arm at where the others would usually be." Harry says. shoulders hunched forward." Harry says. "What are you up to. "Then . Take your pick. Because Liam. Niall who probably knew Harry loved Louis before Harry did. and Harry crosses his arms over his chest. To broadcast my undeniably sexy voice." Harry mumbles. Niall would never joke about this." Harry says." and he won't finish that out loud. And Niall. Or ask them. "When we got back together.." Louis says..even if gave a shit about Louis' pranks this early in the morning . "I wouldn't ." "You're so full of shit. who tries so hard to be the sensible one.joke. and according to his phone it's only the middle of the afternoon back homehe calls Nick. amicably. Then they realized that they might be in a little over their heads.know." and Louis slows his words here." Harry teases. like he hasn't thought about it since. still loves him. wonders what the payoff for a prank like this could even be. exact and deliberate in a way he isn't naturally. During X-Factor and after. fiercely protective of him lately.
but)HARRY STYLES COMES OUT?! . "We're friends. Friends with cock-sucking benefits. "Oh. He hangs up (after a mumbled "Gotta go. of course. Nick.Louis and him ."Don't let your boyfriend hear. it's that that convinces Harry.who haven't been seen together for a few months . from January 2012 . With the band's tour starting next week.") and stares at his phone for a long moment." Nick amends. but who took him under his wing and never made him talk about it. finds he doesn't really care. yeah? Louis and me?" He knows that Louis can hear him. I have a few of those. before joining Louis on the couch. There are pictures of them . who knows that Harry's still all kinds of fucked up and hung up on Louis. shouldn't trust Sugarscape. Bloody hell. and Harry needs to know." And the earth tilts under Harry's feet again and strangely. him carrying some groceries. He's about to back-button out of there like he's on fire when another headline catches his eye (and he shouldn't. Nick laughs. who wouldn't give a stupid prank of Louis' the time of day. The cute twosome .over a year old. are we still . The first link is old . but everyone's having a field day: Harry Styles Gives Louis Tomlinson a Helping Hand We have to wonder ." and Nick's "Oh. it might be their last for a while! The adorable domesticity in these pics is enough to make up weep! Sound off in the comments below . and Harry chokes on nothing in particular.is Larry Stylinson back on? Days after Louis Tomlinson confirmed he and student Eleanor Calder have parted ways. anyway. "Sure.but he opens it. up against the couch arm. and Louis pretends not to know what he's doing. the One Direction cutie was spotted out and about with charming beanie-clad band-mate Harry Styles. lightly. Of course. He googles Eleanor.is Larry Stylinson back on? Was it ever off? Or do you prefer some other combination of the One Direction boys? Whose shoulder would you cry on to get you through a breakup? Sugarscape. He sits sideways. by far. he knows. knees up and toes just shy of Louis' thigh.picked up some groceries before heading back to their flat for a quiet night in.don't let your entirely-platonic-better-half hear. shouldn't look. the life of the rich and famous.walking down a London street together a good foot between them." he warns. it's nothing scandalous.
giving the picture one long. cursorily. OK. before squeezing it. before putting his phone down. "Tell me what I said.. saying only. "You said that I was your best mate." Harry says. He taps the photo and zooms in a bit. But that more importantly. at a memory Harry can't touch. "It's cute!" So coy. softly. "Oh. is this real?" he asks. instead.. at that. yeah. "Why'd you break up?" he asks. because it must've been him. Louis glances down. a little hesitantly. slowly." Harry looks at the picture again. I'm a top" shirt earlier today. and Louis wraps his hand around Harry's ankle. Louis smiles. photoshopped shit in the last few years. he grinned and pointed to the cartoon spinning top. Harry waits. it wasn't fair to Eleanor. last look. Or you. "I'm pretty someone from Modest was actually yelling about the morality clause in your contract." he breaks off and .this. fast and genuine. and nods." he begins. and the hair on the back of his neck's standing up. (Check out our album of Harry's best shirts below!)." he admits. "You said. Louis grins. "How much trouble was I in?" he asks. I don't remember. Literally." Louis turns to face him on the couch. solemnly." he agrees. "that it wasn't fair that I had to hide who I was." he scratches at the back of his neck. What do you think? Was it all for publicity? Is it just a cute shirt? Or is Harry trying to tell us something? And. back against the other arm.Our favorite One Direction mop-top often wears his heart on his sleeve. he has to admit. legs crossed . because he's never seen that shirt before in his life (although. You said. "Uh." Louis continues." He chances another glance up and Harry nods. "Did I . because there's no way he got away with that. knowing that Louis'll follow him. He's seen a lot of weird. "I don't . then holds his phone out to Louis. Harry was seen out in a Queer Republic "Hi. When asked about it. "Sounds about right. as he thinks. at one point. But . Harry. "Tell me. "I can be pretty reasonable like that. His latest choice has everyone talking.can only hold his gaze for a moment. fear prickling down his back. and Harry can't help but grin back. that Louis'll follow him anywhere. reassuringly.. the spinning top is cute).." he says." and Harry laughs. "and that no-one meets the love of their life at sixteen. and Louis laughs a little. but that you loved me. and it's cheeky and young. lightly.
"that we'd always regret it if we never gave it a proper shot. He hasn't seen it trend for months. lifting up his phone and sticking out his tongue. trying for sarcastic. we've been sharing. the door to his room bursts open. Liam and Zayn following him in. before glancing down again (and this can't be real. "Wow. straps of the helmet dangling around his chin." Harry says. if you like. His thumb hovers over the screen for a second. reaching for the helmet. Before he can say anything. before he checks Louis' twitter." Harry's throat is tight." He meets Harry's gaze. but there. Liam pocketing the room key. like it'll stop Louis from seeing it. from two nights ago. though." He's smiling a little again. Oh. briefly." Harry says. "We got you a present. "Looking good. it can't be. "Do we normally-" "Yeah. wants it so much he aches with it)." Louis says. and Harry flips him off." he says. in the silence. "Please.shakes his head slightly. then his. generic enough that they could try to deny it. even as he tries to think." "Oh. "So charming. tries to remember anything they could've done to get LarryStylinson trending again. at the memory. before he can catch himself. A pair of matching tweets. triumphantly." Louis offers. "I can bunk with one of the other lads tonight. love . right there: #LarryStylinson and he tilts his phone towards his chest. He opens Twitter on his phone and stills. automatically. "This tour. immediately." Zayn says. but he knows his cheeks are dimpling. holding out a pink helmet adorned with a jaunty gold ribbon. but he wants it to be real. made within minutes of each other. jerking his chin in a mock-sleazy once over. and oh. because it's too stupidly perfect. come in. "If this just got too weird. "Thanks. if they wanted to @Harry_Styles: night babe @Louis_Tomlinson: night." is all he manages to get out." Louis says. because he loves these idiots." Niall announces. dryly. "I need a picture of this.
Louis doesn't seem too disappointed though. and Liam's grip on his phone tightens. "Traitor. but there's no real irritation behind it. lying on the couch. "Lost it.*** They go to some Korean barbeque place Niall's dying to try. ." Harry mumbles. What's your name?" "Louis Tomlinson. swinging his feet down to the ground as he tosses his book aside. and Harry's not trying to be rude. He bends his head. "I'm fine." he offers. congratulate her on the Believe in Magic benefit? Where should they send it?" As far as ruses go. I guess. you know. it's a pretty weak one." Zayn. for lunch." Harry says. "I'll type it in.who they're talking about. deep in conversation with Liam. Harry holds out his hand. what . both frowning a little. but he just needs a minute." Liam shrugs." Harry says. Their parents exchange holiday cards every year. suspiciously. "The Wanted. so he sandwiches himself between Zayn and Niall when they get there. which is probably the most normal thing that's happened all day. "Stop testing me. snorts into his book. "My parents want to send your mum a card or something." Harry rolls his eyes. a little testily. "Fine. and Harry knows. looking up from his phone. aiming for casual." Zayn sits up. with all certainty. *** They all follow Harry back into his hotel room. and Louis snorts his laughter from the single armchair." Liam says. Li. his feet in Liam's lap. almost imperceptibly. "Harry. "That's OK. "Address hasn't changed. Harry holds his gaze for a long moment as Niall sprawls next to him on the bed." Harry says. "You're really not. "What's the band's name?" Zayn presses on." Niall says. mate.
without missing a beat. There's a bit of cautious hope on Liam's face.." he insists. "It wasn't that bad. because these guys have always had his back (always will).." Niall mutters. "and never really grew it back. cats. We won Brit awards and VMAs and we made another album and we toured again. because this will always be true." he adds." Harry recites. "So that bit's OK. you shaved your head and we thought you were having some sort of breakdown-" Niall's trying to muffle his laughter." he amends.. so they made us into a group. "Um." Liam nods slightly in confirmation. and he helped his mum with the dishes and slept in ." he trails off.it was boring and low-key and so completely normal that it was awesome and he wasn't Harry from One Direction for a week. Up All Night. yeah?" "Who won?" Zayn challenges him. Except. "Matt Cardle. Harry shrugs.. now. We made an album. "I fucked up my solo. just Harry." Harry says." Harry says. "I remember the show and the bungalow and Simon's house and Louis getting stung and singing Torn and we came third. In our first performance of What Makes You Beautiful." Liam says." he says.you broke up last year." and Niall laughs." Harry scrubs his face and tries to put it all in order. "What do you remember about her?" It's the first thing to trip him.. "You were really cut. "Went back home for a few days.. "Uhhh. "We didn't get through as solo acts. Harry picks at a loose thread on his blazer. "We toured again. because he knows this. "and all of his . We toured." Louis says. and Harry can't help his smile. I remember."What do you remember?" Liam asks. "What'd you do for Christmas?" Zayn asks. because obviously Liam has grown his hair out. "What next?" Zayn prompts. "I met you in the bathroom." he says . then. then. a little sheepishly. You . glancing over at Louis. and Louis glances up from his lap. expression now unreadable. "Simon signed us. or never cut it off in the first placeand apparently. Harry can tell. suddenly. tries to condense the last few years into a few sentences. a little thoughtfully. here. "You . "We met on X-Factor. "Danielle. they were better friends to Liam. pointedly." "What else?" Liam asks. in this reality or whatever it is.
. "Maybe we need to take you back to the hospital. in thanks. and he stares at it for a long moment. But Louis' mouth twists a little. "so Niall could have his surgery. and it's a different hospital.for a moment ." Harry glances quickly at Niall. waking the phone up." Harry parrots." Louis tells him." "Maybe I switched with another Harry. 3-1. "It's like. dutifully. He taps in Louis passcode . "What does the doctor think?" she asks. his birthday. He scrolls up until he finds the Christmas pictures. and Niall's grinning." he suggests. and . and Harry loses. shows him the scar on his knee. automatically. before he realizes what he's saying. stupid Santa hats on. and Louis snorts his agreement. there's a bunch of them. because Niall abstains. "it's like you have this whole alternate reality. "and Christmas Day and after with your family. "We had a couple of weeks. half-kidding." Liam corrects." Harry protests. Louis' background lights up the two of them. (They end up voting on it. who." Zayn pauses. again. a different doctor and a different." he promises. that was the wrong answer." Liam says. again.late and teased Gem and watched Christmas movies. "That no two head injuries are the same. and Harry knows. wide and brace-y. slowly. still .and opens up his picture album. and Louis looks for his shoes.2412. So Liam gets Paul. twisting in his stomach). probably not intentionally. somehow. Louis tosses Harry his phone.he feels like the kid he still very much is. Santa hats and Christmas trees and a slightly off-kilter picture of Louis kissing his cheek. *** He calls his mother as they leave the hospital. "We did the week up to Christmas Eve with my family. and he pats Niall's leg." "We only had a couple of days off. and he's frowning again. awkward conversation). and his face is scrunched up in laughter and mock disgust. and his mum laughs. again. "I'll remember this. probably a little harder than necessary. slowly. feels not even faint recognition (just fear. looking at Harry in something approaching wonder. and Harry looks from it to Louis before. and Harry shakes his head slightly.
" he says. though. brightly." she tells him. but he can't stop thinking (about Eleanor." she's just teasing him. his world. "I'm not sure that puts me at ease.I can be on a flight tonight." Harry says. "Love you. if you want. and Louis salutes him. "Did you want me to ." She doesn't try to hold back her laughter.I can bunk with one of the other lads." Paul begs. Harry knows. over his shoulder." he says. "We'll do our best. and he needs to get some sleep. and he loves her all the more for it. "Thanks." "Yeah. if you like." Louis offers again. "I've kind of lost the last two years of my life." Harry says. they have sound check and interviews and a concert. "It's fine."Are you OK?" she asks. and Harry presses the phone harder to his ear. The guys are taking good care of me. no different here than in his memory. *** Louis' been texting the other guys. They have a concert tomorrow." she says." he promises. until the door locks behind them). he knows. "Night!" Harry says. and he can sense Louis turning in his bed to face him. "There's no shame in needing your mum. and Harry shakes his head. "It's OK." Harry mumbles. . *** He can't sleep. "Love you too." she adds. "It doesn't matter what time. walking them to their room. so no-one's waiting for them when they return. and his mum is all kinds of awesome. throat inexplicably tight. pulling off his shirt. as he closes the door. about Louis. and Louis glances away. "Do you . and it's part that it's his mum and part that she's a constant. and Paul sighs (but Harry knows he'll stay there for an extra beat. about whether he can trust any of his memories). "Call me whenever. "Just one day without a trip to the hospital. about the real world." she offers.
and they've clearly talked about this without him. after a pause. so quietly. "Nope. (Except here. in-between bites of scrambled egg. "Thanks. not for the first time.fuck. for him. back in his world. and he's not sure he wants to know. . *** He knows Liam and Zayn are watching him closely at sound check." Harry calls after him. because they'd either have to bump other dates or eat into their holidays or double back to Canada after New Zealand and none of that sounds appealing. "You going to finish that?" Niall asks. *** "We can cancel these shows. too. He can still sing. Bags under his eyes and all. and maybe this Harry is a little bit badass)." Then .like an admission. until Zayn slings a companionable arm around Harry's neck and pulls him in close. patting Harry on the back as he pulls away. Which ." Zayn says. into Harry's ear. so he's having trouble sleeping. and Louis pushes his plate towards him. It is what it is. Louis' silent for a moment. "Just . hopefully. because the thought of him getting away with that . and for a moment. it's not fine. and Zayn turns.OK. In Nobody Compares?" he waits for Harry's nod.whatever. he aches for all of them. honestly. not unkindly. yet. It's fine." he amends. poking at his hot breakfast a bit listlessly." "I know." Zayn agrees."Kind of. and Harry ignores him. "Or post-pone them. softly. Louis looks at rough as Harry feels. and Louis. "Did you love her?" Harry asks. but cancelling would disappoint people. or even mentioned." Harry says. and his voice isn't sleep-scratchy." Harry says. "You've been changing "girl" to "babe" lately." And Harry actually raises his eyebrows at that. or fought." he mumbles. and Eleanor. "I think I could have. suddenly. "I wanted to. and he ignores them. apparently." he agrees. Might not be the most sensible approach. It's something he's never brought up. "Hey. over breakfast. Which is .do whatever you want. but he has a lot of lady-specific lines on Take Me Home. "Eleanor?" and it's the one thing he's been wondering all afternoon. He's not going to be that guy. one day. and rescheduling would be a nightmare. "Just so you know. "People would understand." Liam says.
"Do you feel up to it."Also." Zayn points out. Louis' smirking a little. "No matter what Louis says. solemnly. legs dangling off the edge. yeah?" "We'll have time to cut him off. well. for local radio." and Harry stretches out to kick him." Louis says. he can tell. "It would've been hilarious!" *** They have only one interview this afternoon. so Harry doesn't react. "Noted. "What's the main thing you look for in a girl?" the interviewer asks. sometimes. craning around from where he's sitting at the front of the stage. Harry?" he asks. No. with a grin." Louis agrees. and it's so clever in its simplicity that Harry can't help his smile. . We truly have the best fans in the world) until "So which of you are currently single?" and he's been asked this question what feels like daily for years.as back in his world (We didn't get though as solo artists.uh. "Someone fun. honestly) opens his mouth to give an answer Harry can tell he's given before. and his eyes are kind. "Course." Liam says. He would. you never get used to it." he says. but he's not sure how this Harry answers this question. outraged. relaxing a little. even as he imitates Harry. and Zayn pulls his earbuds out and even Louis and Niall stop wrestling for a moment. "Actually. we haven't changed "rock me" to "fuck me". nodding. and Liam frowns as they're driven over to the station. none of us have girlfriends right now. so I want someone who can bring me out of my shell a bit. this one time." "A dreadful bore. It's the same questions ." he says." Harry laughs at that. we'll just play it off as a joke. doesn't look at Louis. "Uh. holding up a finger. "I'm quite boring." Harry says.same answers . We're proud of this album. and before he can really fuck things up." "It's true. we . Liam (and bless him. "He's so boring. leaning forward. "if he says anything obviously wrong." "Zayn!" Louis protests. The VMAs last year was definitely a highlight." Harry says "Li.
"You know how you can tell that some people are just genuinely good people?" Louis asks.Zayn." Niall finally says. at the interviewer's prompt. like he's about to implode. Little Things gets him. the guys are dancing around. Someone . and Niall's just jumping in a circle. He can do this. knows his cue in Torn like he knows his name. the way they keep looking over at him. something they haven't done for years. so Harry grabs his forearms and joins in. settling into it when Little Things. still grinning. in this world (or whatever it is). "You know? A girl who can carry a conversation. and it's somehow so much better than anything meaningful or deep." *** He pulls on jeans and a flannel shirt he remembers with hands that shake. just a little.puts that LMFAO song on. Louis waves everyone over." "Someone who knows how to cheer me up when I'm taking life too seriously. the nerves in his stomach worse than he can remember (right up there with Simon's house and the first live show and Red or Black). *** It doesn't go that badly. he thinks . as it registers that apparently. so familiar. There are things that are so. "Confidence. Zayn and Perrie broke up too. (He knows he can. and Harry glances at him. Everyone looks at Niall. and he looks over and meets Harry's gaze for a moment."Uh . pretty openly. "A good cook. "Wiggle wiggle wiggle!" Zayn shoves him. and Louis' pretending to fan Liam. "That's what I look for. and he's settling. feeling like a shitty mate." he says." Zayn suggests. and they reach into the tight circle. and Louis catches Harry's gaze. and Liam rolls his eyes. and Niall shoves at him. pumping themselves up. as Louis cries.a good sense of humour. holding his hand out. he could do the choreography to What Makes You Beautiful in his sleep. . because he's pretty sure this answer hasn't changed." Harry says." Zayn says. not since the early days of X-Factor. Definitely better than the others are expecting. "Bring it in. until they're all breathless and laughing. palms down. and maybe that's the difference). and it's almost comforting that their pre-show ritual hasn't changed much. rhetorically. and Zayn's walking on the spot.
Like he remembers. and when Louis sings something about Paris and kissing. Harry stands too. and Louis' smiling. knees buckling. and Niall at the back. halfway between their stools. but it's a giant Fuck You to someone. with none of the theatrics Harry's expecting. and moves towards Louis. "It's you. . and Louis touches his cheek with the hand holding his mic and Harry ducks his head and smiles. and somehow. and it's all happening so quickly. and Harry clutches at his shirt exaggeratedly. and the screaming intensifies. and it's stupid and fun and so. And then.it can't be. and all they've done is swap stools. His Louis would never (maybe once. they all grab a wooden stool and make a wide v. the song's nearly over. somehow. over the screaming. and they continue over to each other's seats. and Harry holds his gaze and sings it back. because he might never get this chance again. *** He sings 'babe' in Nobody Compares. and they meet in the middle of the v. easy and un-self-conscious in a way they haven't been on stage for so long and he's missed this so much. *** After the first costume change. a long time ago. Louis wraps an arm around Harry's waist. squeezing his biceps." to him. Liam and Zayn trade off the first verse. before turning back to the audience. and not on stage) but this Louis' smile is growing. encouragingly. now. really. eyebrows raised expectantly and . and Harry knows . *** During Up All Night. Louis grabs his hand and lifts it and nods at him. Something happens. and Harry ducks and spins under their joined hands until he's dizzy and grinning. laughing into his neck. staring after Louis. and Louis grabs him from behind. Louis starts singing about tea and everything's normal and fine until Louis stands up. he pokes Harry's chest as he walks past. something the audience is expecting.he knows . low and underneath his blazer. but he starts his part. when Louis glances across the stage again and sings. unhurried and faux-casual. guitar resting on his thigh. like it's in this-Harry's muscle memory.this is a Thing. but not now. he knows. just simple and quiet. so easy. "How's everybody doing tonight?" Liam yells. he knows exactly what it is. Liam and Zayn at the front.
before his face splits into a wide grin. follows his gaze and grins. "Animals. In the lift up to their floor. the back of Louis' hand brushes against his. and there's a beat. Louis manages to open the door.*** He takes his final bow sandwiched between Louis and Liam." and Zayn knows. because he's fighting a grin. "Come on. and Louis looks from their legs to Harry. before he pulls away. sweaty and warm and buzzing. like he's not quite sure what's happening. and Louis' smirk is getting out of control. Harry's guessing. and Harry's kissing him before he's kicked it shut behind them. and Harry curls into him. briefly. comfortable silence. but he doesn't care. and his stupid cheeks hurt from all of this smiling. and looks back out the window. mock-regretfully. Louis shifts in the seat beside him. "Keep it down.and he knows Louis knows . though. It's warm and familiar. and Louis' surprised laugh is warm in his ear. too. *** Everyone's quiet on the drive back to the hotel. Liam. and walking ahead of the others.and even Liam's joined in the hip-thrusting Niall and Zayn have got going. eyes narrowing slightly. "Can't promise anything." Liam mutters. but Harry follows him and presses their knees together again. and Harry shrugs." Louis says. He chances a glance over his shoulder as he unlocks their door . then"Oh. when the lift doors open. back and forth. and he can't stop smiling. too. laughing against his temple. "What's so funny?" "Nothing. knee pressing against Harry's.that people are recording this. Niall glances between them. and so much better than the tour bus (there's no . "Oi!" Louis protests. "I'll tell you later. straightening up and leaning back until Louis' feet leave the ground. too." Harry says. now. immediately. until Zayn looks up and asks. They drop their arms and pull apart and Louis flings himself into Harry. and Harry gives him a tiny smile. lightly. suspiciously. and Harry wraps his arms around him. yeah?" Niall says. It's adrenaline and relief and joy and he knows ." he says. and it's a good. and Louis doesn't seem to. and he bites his lip and tries not to smile. noticing. linking his arm through Harry's." he pretends to snap. and Louis' muttering something about filthy minds.
if that-" and Harry cuts him off with a hard kiss. until Louis lifts up and lets him pull it off. as he leans over and grabs the lube." "Fuck off. stroking him lightly. he's allowed to and he hasn't. he kneels between Louis open legs. "Do you have a-" "We don't usually-" their voices overlapping. again. He rolls off Louis and tugs on his shirt. without embarrassment. And yeah. hand circling him. no unhappiness hanging over him). and he pushes up into the touch. immediately." "Are you honestly worried about my virtue?" Harry asks. a little breathlessly. his cheek. laughing into Harry's neck. and Harry settles onto. "Are you sure?" he asks. and Louis helps him wriggle out of them. as he shrugs out of his shirt. into. him. Louis hooks his fingers through the belt loops of Harry's jeans. amused. "the first time you blew me in a bathroom stall. Louis grunts as Harry's leg rubs against him. forcing the words out through almost-gritted teeth. Louis pulls back. leaning forward to kiss him again. rubbing against him through too many clothes. for so long. "I don't want to . kissing Louis' mouth. "Or not?" Louis says." he says. a little self-conscious at Harry's scrutiny. because Louis knows what he's asking." he says. Take advantage. "But I think I have one in my wallet? If you . They fall onto the bed in a tangle of limbs and laugher and Louis rucks Harry's shirt up a bit and touches his stomach. He braces himself on one arm as he undoes his jeans. and again (he's allowed to. "Top drawer. glancing at the table between their beds. in his world). tonight. kissing him. his hands shaking a little (not for the first time. Louis opens his mouth to him. so that definitely happened in this world. rutting against Harry. pointedly. and he's as hard as Harry. as Harry grinds down against his hip.you know." Louis says. He unzips Louis' pants. so quietly (and it's mostly to a Louis who's not here). too. again. and his hands span Louis' cheeks in a way they didn't three years ago. and Harry follows. smile fading a little. easily. OK. as he spreads his legs. his chin. Louis laughs. he knows). a bit reluctantly. "I'm pretty sure that went the way of your dignity-" Louis nips his neck in silent reproach. "I've missed you. tugging him back towards the nearest bed. and Harry commits him to memory. and Harry grins. a little absently. and Louis grabs his hip to still him. ." Louis says." Harry says. smiling at the way his muscles twitch in response. and when they're both naked. squeezing Louis through his pants.guilt eating him up. and Harry kisses him. Louis doesn't break his gaze. slowly. "We're all class. "C'mere.
gently. He pulls back a bit. and he likes this. with a nod. and Louis kicks at him with his heels until he pushes all the way in. and Harry reaches down between them. "Close." he breathes. and Louis arches his neck. his dick's ready too. He's nineteen. "Yeah. "Fuck. and when he presses in a bit. he's tight. and he's pounding into Louis harder than before. he knows. he's being a bit cheeky." he murmurs. because Louis kind of smirks a little. and Louis' eyes are dark. but . and Louis nods.does it. Haz. He drizzles some over his fingers and reaches out. and Harry's coming. from when they had no idea what they were doing.I'm ready. breathily. Louis arches against him. stroke him through it. as he wraps his legs higher around Harry." is all he says. He pushes one finger into Louis. so dark. and that . a little idiotically. pushing in a bit more. cheek to cheek. touches Louis between his legs. stupidly in love). and says." Louis says." Harry mutters. almost reverently (and he remembers this. and Louis rocks his hips against him. yeah. now.if he's honest . and apparently he doesn't do as good a job at keeping his face blank as he thinks. and they catch their breath for a moment. after a moment. against Louis' lips. softly. but he manages to stroke Louis semi-in-time."I'm good. hard and sudden." he says. makes an obscene gesture with his hand. He collapses onto Louis for a long moment. licking a bit of Louis' come off his hand. "Love you.that . "Yeah. "Jesus." he murmurs. you can just-". likes watching Louis fall him apart as he fingers him. something inside him breaks. but he doesn't want to hurt Louis. "Yeah. changing the angle a little. he does. and he has to slow down a little to coordinate it all. but there you go). . and Harry's torn (because. and when Harry lifts up a bit more. as Louis squeezes tighter around him.again? still? Harry doesn't know. here. "Next time. "I'm . "There?" Harry checks. hot and tight. and he can say that again. and yeah. and he likes to think he's grown up a bit. and Harry lifts up a little to grab the lube." Harry moves his finger back and forth a little. Louis grunts again and fuck. takes a couple of thrusts to get in a rhythm. until Louis' crying out every time he slams into him. and it's almost too much. "Love you too. and they're creeping up towards the headboard a bit. OK. "Come on. "OK. chest heaving." Louis adds. smiling . as his legs tighten around Harry. and Harry picks up the pace a bit.he's still so." he says. and Harry didn't think it was possible to get any harder. "You good?" Harry asks." he warns. and he pauses there." he says. and Harry's not going to last long. but this is happening. toes curling as he comes over his own stomach. but Louis doesn't seem to care. He grabs the lube again and slicks himself up and Louis smiles at him as he lines himself up. raspy. eyes shut. and Louis draws up his knees a little. from when he was sixteen and stupidly in love.
" Louis says. not moving. and Niall puts his fists up like they're going to box. "But you weigh a tonne." he agrees.Detroit. He pulls out. He wonders how . are a gentleman and a scholar. Niall cannonballs into the pool. and Louis hisses through his teeth. Louis shoves Liam underwater and manages to climb onto his shoulders. and Harry huffs a laugh.so Paul blocks off the hotel's pool for them." (They don't. he splashes Louis in the face. and Harry laughs." Louis adds." Niall says." he says. and after cleaning up a bit. Zayn's still pretty shit at swimming. "A god among men. so Louis wraps his arms around Liam's waist and topples them both into the deep end. sir. "Keep it above the belt. "I was just going to say thanks. and Liam reminds the rest of them not to run. "Come on!" Niall says. Harry flops down onto the bed next to him. with a wave of his arm that Harry assumes begins the fight." he adds. according to their schedule . "What are the rules?" Liam asks Zayn. but it's still there. "Yeah. carefully. grandly. When Harry awakens. they're mostly horsing around in the shallow end. It just is. "In a minute." Harry says. Paul. as he and Niall start to grapple. all lazy-lipped. as Harry slowly jerks him off). Louis' still stretched out next to him." Liam deadpans. "Mmnn." Zayn says. (Niall's knee is near Harry's face. Louis slumps against the cool wall tiles. and Harry ducks under and lifts Niall up. ta. sleepily. and it's not sad or sorry." Louis says."I know. he can tell. Louis' eyes barely open. and he tugs Louis into the shower. He kisses Harry's cheek. so through unspoken agreement. so he lurches towards Liam and Louis. the next morning. apparently. "We got this. pressing down on Harry's shoulders. and when Liam resurfaces. to Liam. *** They have one extra day in Toronto before packing up and heading for . "Should go clean up. "You. and Louis leans over a bit to kiss him. and the scar's fading. like he remembers.
"during what can only be described as an all-outbrawl over the straightener. because Harry knows. *** Another interview when they arrive. Harry knows. "Little bit." Louis explains. quickly. though. Harry allows. so Harry does it again. These boys. in this reality.. even in this world. with Harry. "Small head knock. and Harry high fives him." Liam agrees. "Niall's scrappy. now. grabbing Louis' legs to keep him upright." he admits." and he sounds so indignant that even Liam laughs. "I call Harry. interfering . but for him. about not having to hide. even when Liam splashes at them. "Louis' . they really are better together). almost thoughtfully. and Louis corners Harry on one of the steps. Niall falls out of the way.more often). will protect this secret . (As always. but they're kissing. still kissing.. Louis kicks at him and Liam yells something about a yellow card. as Zayn jokingly reaches for the helmet.Niall got his surgery so early. It's like living with children." Zayn says. pulling Louis closer. though. but they're kissing.. "He is. sometimes. wonders if maybe. because. they banded together a bit more. like in his world. and Louis' chest slides against his nicely. except word's gotten out about Harry's hospital visit. Harry reaches out. slowly. loyally. and Louis dives off Liam's shoulders to tackle him. "Red card!" Niall says to Zayn. the number of people they can be themselves around is suffocatingly small. and when he tickles the bottom of Louis' foot.themselves . while the others are distracted. *** They play a bit of FIFA on the way to Michigan. "You think you're clever?" he demands. more of the same questions. lips chlorine-y and wrinkly." Louis says. Honestly..not for the sake of the band. stood up for each other ." and Louis' laughing against Harry's mouth. floating away on his back. and Harry grins. laughing. and they're both wet and slippery and he's not sure who moves first. they win. half-heartedly (but there's something nice about it. mock-tough. . and for Louis).
and Harry can almost see the Louis he was. *** He sings 'babe' in Nobody Compares.he can't make it out. come on . now. he's smiling so hard. Louis' foot nudging his when he really liked a line or chord or solo . The band. that they're laughing so stupidly hard. and Niall throws his head back and laughs.twice. exactly. and he smiles into his lap at the memory. and they can sit wherever they like in interviews. "My lips get dry. Harry does a bit of The Fray's Heartbeat.but then Louis sings "chapstick". but it's his face and Louis' face and a big heart. and it's part that it's Liam. it's pretty good. and he's pretty quietly chuffed . and it's all quite brilliant). tonight. who scoffs in mock outrage.That somehow segues into. part that they're actually having a good time. and points out a poster with . laughing. "That's what Vaseline's for." Zayn replies. early on. and this'll be all over the internet by the time the show's over. fringe and rolled-up pants. one earbud each. "Harry carries around chapstick!" he says. squashed into the same bunk. another concert. Louis pulls him aside. and there aren't any weird. stomping his way through the chorus. They laugh. with a grin over his shoulder. and they don't have to pointedly not-choose sides. Harry can tell. *** Another night. and one of Louis' hands is still gripping the inside of his elbow. he's done it twice. and Harry almost misses his cue." Harry says. so he gives a big thumbs up in the general direction of the poster and Louis squeezes his arm. "Who worries about their appearance the most?" and the question's barely out of her mouth before they're all tripping over each other to name Zayn. and he gets into it. tense undercurrents. pretends to catch himself in time. again. mildly. instead of "lipstick". (They laugh more. listening to The Fray and The Script. to memories of him and Louis sharing an iPod and a bed in the XFactor house. *** Louis does a few bars of Hey There Delilah. "That's not what Vaseline's-" Liam breaks off. and as far as deflections go.
he comes hard." he says. "Because my Louis' a bit of a coward. "Maybe he did. he pushes Harry onto his back and blows him. curiously (and Harry can't bring himself to answer. after that. untilHarry flips onto his back and sighs. very slightly." he says. "Were you?" he asks. before shrugging." Harry frowns. .no. and mulls it over." Harry mumbles into his pillow. Louis' fingers playing an invisible piano on Harry's thigh). fingertips mapping the dips in Harry's spine. softly. "You think so?" "I know so." And maybe that's not fair or true. and he reaches out. who flattens his tongue and swallows what he can). he remember. confidently." he says. and when Louis comes. "He'll pull his head out of his ass eventually. "I know how his mind works." Louis says. "Give him time." Louis props himself up on his side. *** (Louis keeps his promise and lets Harry finger him until he's breathless and broken. and Harry kisses his knee before reaching out and wrapping a slick palm around Louis' cock. When he catches his breath. to lighten the mood a little. "He's probably fucking terrified. but it is to him.(and they listened to How to Save a Life over and over. loudly." His throat's all tight now. head bobbing between Harry's thighs. instead. There's silence for a while. and it's too much and he comes before he can warn Louis. stroking him with a sure grip. tonight. hips rocking against Harry's hand frantically. Disappointed. "Or . "He'll be sad. *** "Your Harry. because what sort of wanker complains about the life he had?) "He'll be so mad at my Louis. "Why?" Harry thinks about it for a moment. Haz." Louis humours him." Then. and this Louis' watching him. as he tries to think it through. "My Louis chose Eleanor. and Louis still makes that same." Harry smiles. "He'll be really lonely." Louis pretends to pout a little. "I wonder if he took my place. sweat matting his hair to his forehead. with almost startling clarity. eyes soft and sad. wet noise as he does in Harry's memory. what the fuck?." and Harry finally laughs a little.
"I'll prove it. sweetly affectionate. "FIFA. "We're up early tomorrow. watching him carefully." He's not in a hotel room with Louis." Harry points out. "Babe. "Maybe don't get up just yet. "Christ. Louis squeezes his shoulder briefly. fuck.. he knows. "I like it here. pinning him to the mattress. fuck. "this is real. "We're in Toronto. Liam. slowly." Louis groans. and Louis' kiss is warm and familiar and so." he says. shoving at his shoulder. Harry bites his lip. before he opens his eyes." and Harry's laugh turns into a sharp gasp. "What day is it? Where are we?" Liam asks. quite reasonably. and they're both smiling. . putting words to his biggest fear. "So cheesy." Harry hears." Louis says." Harry says. he knows. "Fuck. He sits up a little. lips brushing Harry's. yeah?" he doesn't really ask. "All the more reason to get some sleep now. "Right?" he finally looks up at Louis. for someone so exhausted. as Louis nudges him with his nose. With surprising speed. and his hand doesn't linger.. Louis flings himself on top of Harry. "What if . but he's fucking happy. short hair. "I'm so sorry. what if I wake up back in my . "I'm fine. Can't look at Louis."Go to sleep." "We're up early every day. ask him something he'll know." Louis mutters. reaching down between them to cup Harry." Zayn says." Niall offers. and the disappointment's almost suffocating." Louis murmurs. who grins back at him." His smile's goofy. With his stupid." "Yeah?" Harry asks. *** "Fuck.my real life?" he asks." he says.
mock-solemnly.one more thing. and Louis narrows his eyes in confusion."See? He's fine. "I missed you. "Were we in it?" Niall asks. "Tell us about it. all helplessly fond. Louis' texting. "Perrie and Eleanor are still meeting us in LA. "I had the weirdest dream. like. All of you. we're OK. "Hi. Harry pushes his sleeve up and traces the tattoo in the crook of his elbow. reaching for his cigarettes." Liam says. more than anything. Things I can." Liam says. "Hi. squashing into Harry's other side. yeah?" Harry half-asks. like he's not quite sure what's happening." he says. looking down at him. but Louis still looks troubled. and Niall kicks Zayn's knee until he collapses half on top of him. maybe slight irritation. it's OK. knows what the answer'll be before he even opens his mouth. OK. and Louis chucks his phone onto the table beside them before diving onto the pile. perching next to him on the couch." "Dude. stretching out over all four of them." Zayn kids. and Harry gives a tiny shake of his head. like. the same look he always gets when Harry talks about Eleanor." Harry says." Louis says. Louis' the only one still standing. laughing." Zayn teases him. . "Not if it involved Niall. and his expression shutters. Max." he clarifies. and Liam stills beside him. and Louis' smiling. "What are you waiting for?" Liam asks." "I still think he should see a doctor. "while I was asleep. Probably Eleanor. immediately. very slightly. "Yeah. and Liam shushes him. "Yeah?" And. to Louis. "while I was out. Just . He's really back." "Was it a sexy dream?" Liam asks. probably out of habit. you were out for. Harry smiles. ten seconds." Harry says. And he knows. love.
" Louis' phone buzzes on the table next to them." Liam says. quickly. "Doesn't matter. because it's not a joke. "Now." Louis frowns. It's fine. "is going to tell us a story. these days." Niall says. but it's a nickname he so rarely uses. rather." Louis says. and Louis turns to look at it. Niall's legs hooked over his. "'Tis." Louis offers." Liam says. but Louis' craning his neck to look at Liam. . and. as he crams himself between Harry and Liam. slowly. and Louis' smile slowly fades." Harry stage-whispers. to him. getting to his feet."Missed you too." Louis hasn't pulled away. "OK. mildly. "Because it sounds disgusting. and Harry glances at him. beside Harry. in a mindless rhythm." Louis sniffs. slowly. "This is ridiculous. hard. "I'll get Paul to drive us. oblivious." Louis says. yet." Zayn says. "Budge up. without missing a beat. Harry.whatever. lightly. "Good lad. young Harold here-" "That's not my name. Harry reaches up and laces their fingers together (knows that Louis won't throw him off or anything. "I quite like it. throwing an arm around Harry's shoulders. almost upside down. "Your arse is really bony. and he's clearly just playing along. and maybe. and Harry loosens his grip a bit so Louis can grab his phone." Niall says to Louis. twisting until he's right way up again. maybe this is enough). suddenly. instead. "Come on." Liam says. brightly. leaning back to catch Zayn's glance. then." Liam deadpans. he bounces their joined hands off Harry's chest. Li. so much like he was when he was eighteen and doing video diaries on the stairs that Harry can't help but laugh. and Harry's not smiling. "Is that a sex thing?" Niall asks. It's ." "After we take him to the hospital. Hazza. from the other end of the couch. stilling their hands." Louis says." Louis says. "Honestly. and Louis shifts a bit in their laps. man! What are you waiting for?" Louis yells. and Niall starts and laughs. but he'll casually disentangle himself in a second. to Liam. "Fetch Paul. "I'll go with him. "You're a bit of a wet blanket. too.
" Harry repeats (and it's not. and Louis ignores him." Niall says.today? That's enough). . tucked into his side and . "Just like old times. Liam returns with Paul. Louis grabs his shoes. but Louis' smiling at him. too. helplessly. "I'll bring the car around. or could've been. Harry laughs a little. pockets his phone without reading the message and bumps Harry with his shoulder. not really." Even Zayn glances up at that. because there's a phone burning a hole in Louis' back pocket. at them. even as his head starts to really throb. who sighs.Louis stands. pulling Harry up with him before dropping his hand (and it doesn't hurt as much as Harry thought it would). Haz. "Idiot. and it's everything and nothing like it was. at Louis. and Louis' grin is a bit smug. then Liam. "Just like old times. like maybe that's all he was after in the first place. linking their arms. from the couch." even as Louis beams at him. to Paul's back. Harry smiles slowly. "You and me." he says. who smiles back. soft and fond and everything Harry misses so much." he calls. all quietly playful. who still looks a bit concerned. and Zayn snorts in laughter. "You're a doll.
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