harry wakes up on a sunny morning, his arm numb for being crushed for several hours. there's dried up saliva in the corner of his mouth, and harry's brain wonders back to the night prior, and he full on grins.

louis groans against him, his body rubbing against harry's as he moves, and harry thinks perfect and he's really, really happy, right then.

"hmm," louis gets out, his fingers curling in and curling out like a cat stretching.

harry only stares, his brain taking him somewhere else. "morning," he replies, eyes downcast as his breathing becomes deeper.

louis looks up finally and brings his hand to harry's cheek; a gentle stroke.

"last night," harry begins, but louis' hand moves to cover the words, only to be replaced by a hot, warm, smelling mouth.

.-.-.-

this continues for weeks, louis slipping into harry's bed while the others sleep, unaware, and harry tries to swallow down the moans, the feelings, his chest hurting and so so loud.

louis takes his time, his words and touches driving harry insane. he thinks, look what you're doing to me, he thinks, look what i've become.

but no one ever replies. no one knows. and he's scared.

.-.-.-

the day it's announced louis needs a cover up is the day harry had fruit loops for breakfast. why was this important? it wasn't. not at all. but the suggestion of louis having a beard became so foreign to harry that everything else around him suddenly exploded with clarity-

that he had to wait several minutes for the oven to heat up before putting in your meal; that if you wanted the TV to change channel you had to press the button really hard; that if you drank enough liquor you really could forget things momentarily. and so he did - a lot.

.-.-.-

"when are you going to get off the couch? i'm getting sick of sitting on the recliner all the time,"

harry ignored zayn, his eyes unfocused as they followed the pictures on the TV. it had been months of this, louis going out with this girl (harry could barely remember her name half the time) and harry at home distracting himself, energy spent and interest decreasing.

the boys were worried. louis seemed to like her too, and harry didn't know what to do, he could see it on his face, in his movements, and it was killing harry.

management was pleased though, with twitter and facebook exploding with comments like 'omg you guys are so cute' or 'get married, noowww' and harry ignored them. but that's the thing, that's all he could do.

.-.-.-

it was two years later now, the band was still going strong, so were harry and louis. but it was still hard. louis was more used to it now, obviously, he was great friends with eleanor and they did make a nice couple when out in public, putting on a show.

harry liked to remind louis before he went out who he really belonged too, slamming him against the nearest wall and ravishing his mouth.

and when he arrived home he liked to throw him on the bed and fuck him, so hard that he would forget his own name and what city they were in and especially her.

there were some days that were tolerable, when he could still interact with louis even if she was there, but other days had him breaking, watching from the sidelines as the person he fucking lives for be intimate with another, touches that made his skin crawl and blood boil.

it seemed like breathing and dying were the same thing now.

.-.-.-

the news of louis and eleanor's engagement happened literally days after a slight 'larry' incident. nobody was meant to see them holding hands, but by this point harry didn't give a flying fuck, he wanted to be caught.

but louis… god damn louis wanted to stay hidden. and now… jesus christ, louis was actually kind of agreeing to this, this suggestion, and harry, well, he was fed up.

every day now harry wanted a new reason to actually get up and start his day. a day filled with commitments and meetings and lines that have been written for him to say to please people he didn't care to please.

all he wants… all he wants is for life to be easy again.

.-.-.-

louis whispers to him one night, "i'm sorry,"

harry says "i'm sorry too," but for a completely different reason.

.-.-.-

the wedding has been planned to be held in six months back in the UK, so louis's and eleanor's families can get there easily, so it's more convenient for them. harry wants to scream. he wants to yell, demand 'why can't things be easy for me?'

but his voice is silent, people continue on around him like he's still there, that this isn't changing his very being, that this whole thing isn't going to be the single most awful day of his life.

the other lads harry can see want to comfort him, but in this situation it feels pointless. what can you say, really? so instead they take care of everything, answer the questions, play the roles, and harry sits there, his shadow, for once, looking brighter than him.

.-.-.-

louis asks him, "you'll be my best man, yeah?"

and harry replies with "of course,"

because what else can he be? he can't be good enough to be able to tell everyone about them, he can't be good enough to actually be the one to be holding louis's hands as he says 'i do'. so this seems to be the only thing left. and he'll take it, even if it kills him.

louis kisses him, a whisper or a promise linked to it. a reassurance that things will be better. that this is the only way.

harry, for the first time, wants to wipe the kiss away when louis pulls back.

.-.-.-

on the day of the wedding, harry's dressed up in the best attire he's ever been in. who'd have thought the first wedding he'd be going to would be the one for his boyfriend and cover up. it was fucking with his head. it felt like that scene in a movie where you know something bad is going to happen, and you sit there, waiting, your eyes partially hidden behind your fingers as protection, even though you know it won't help in any way.

"harry,"

he whips around to that familiar voice, every part of his body facing the man he loves so much, the man he still feels lucky to share a bed with at night, a meal in the afternoon, a first kiss in the morning.

and it suddenly becomes too much.

"i can't do this anymore," harry tells him.

louis stares at first, harry's words not registering fast enough, and by the time they do, harry's expression is one of sorrow, pain, and louis feels every bone is his body grow weak at the sight, lets every thought escape his mind to be replaced with that of the man in front of him. so broken he's changed back into a boy now, and louis wants to cry.

"harry," he chokes, reaching out, "what do you mean,"

and harry doesn't reply, can't and his body moves, away from louis and through the doors of the room and down the hallway and out into the world, to the grass and sky and every grain of dirt.

harry doesn't know how long he's out there, he only remembers sitting down on the edge of the lake near the location, the flow of the water sending his mind on a loop of thoughts.

this is it… this is what loves feels like… painful and wonderful and feeling like your insides are in fire. he lets out a scream, a sob, tears clouding his vision as his fists turn painful from his grip.

harry contemplates a life without louis, a world where they aren't together, he tries to imagine what it feels like to lose your other half, and... it's gut-wrenching. harry chokes, the thought too much, and he stands up, a fleeting thought of diving into the lake and never coming back up for air...

but then… then he hears him. he fucking hears his voice, and he doesn't know if he's dreaming or not.

"harry!"

a body slams into his, warm hands grip his face and neck and shoulders and back, and he can't breathe, he can't move.

louis is crying, a grin spreading over his fucking goddamn beautiful face. "i called it off,"

and harry reacts quicker this time; he goes for a kiss, feet slotting in between louis's, and he thinks, this is what love feels like…

he thinks, beautiful.