Chapter 1

Louis sat on his bed, curled up into a position of defeat. The glow from the TV was the only source of light in the room and it cast daunting shadows across the walls. The TV was muted and the only sound that could be heard was a deep sigh that came from deep within the boy's body. On the TV was another boy, just a little younger than Louis. He held a microphone and was singing on a stage with lots of flashing lights.

Louis felt powerless. Worse than that, he felt useless. The curly headed boy on the TV was doing exactly what Louis wanted to be doing. Yet here Louis was.

A small lump formed in his throat. He closed his eyes to thwart the onset of tears. The darkness engulfed him. He imagined himself on stage, singing a song for the X-Factor judges. He saw himself famous and traveling the world. He saw millions of screaming fans. He opened his eyes and reluctantly returned to the sharp sting of reality.

Louis took the remote and turned the volume back on. He caught the last bit of the boy performing. The audience cheered and Louis winced at the sound. The boy smiled brightly, his grin wide with unspoken promise. Louis felt a tear drip from his right eye. He quickly rubbed it away with the back of his hand and forbid any future tear-shed on the subject. However, his eyes took no notice in his orders and only began to pour more ferociously. Louis buried his face in his pillow.

Life was unfair. He knew that. The odds were against him. He knew that as well. The dice had rolled and he had not been chosen. But it wasn't so much the rejection that hurt. He knew there was a very likely chance of being rejected. It was the small taste of his biggest dreams that made it so hard to return to his life here in Doncaster. He had been taken on in the boy's category but had gotten kicked off so quickly. It wasn't fair. He had been nervous. Nerves! It was all that it was. Louis knew he had the ability to make it. He just couldn't convince the judges otherwise.

What was also depressing was that he couldn't help but be happy for the boy singing on TV. Harry was his name, Louis had learned. Harry Styles. Louis had had a slightly awkward meeting with the boy in one of the X-Factor bathrooms. Louis cracked a half-hearted grin from the memory.

Louis had been stifling the urge to pee but he could not wait any longer. He rushed to the bathroom. He began to relieve himself in the urinal and, mid-pee, he heard the sound of vomit exiting somebody's body in one of the stalls. Louis had quickly finished his business and went to the stall. He knocked once.

"Are you alright in there?" he asked. He was answered with another round of vomit. Louis found the door had not been properly locked.

"Go away," a voice moaned. Louis pushed open the door and revealed a boy slumped over the toilet. Louis remembered feeling sorry for the kid as he threw up again. Louis kneeled down beside him and patted his back gently.

A groan radiated from the toilet bowl.

"I can't do this," said the boy, panic radiating from his voice.

"You can't throw up? Because I think you already did…"

"No, this show," said the voice from the toilet, "I've never been this nervous." Another wave of vomit slopped into the toilet.

Louis was at a loss at what to say. He knew absolutely nothing about this boy who was literally scared sick and needed reassurance that he could go on with the show when Louis really had no idea if he really could or not.

"You know… I'm sure you'll do great. I mean, you made it this far," Louis offered. There were a few moments of silence. The boy drew his head from the toilet and sat down on the bathroom floor in surrender. His light brown curls were a whimsical mess, curling around his face in a careless manner. He wiped his hand across his mouth and leaned his head back on the stall. Louis joined him on the ground.

"You okay now?" Louis asked, still concerned.

"Never been better… It was just nerves," the boy explained. Louis noticed the boy's face was red. He was not sure whether that was from puking or from mortification but Louis decided against comment.

"Come on. Let's get you cleaned up," Louis said, standing. The boy didn't budge. Louis held out a hand to help him up. The boy took the assistance and stood. Louis noticed the boy was a bit taller than him.

"I'm Louis," Louis said, turning the helping hand into a handshake. The boy smiled and looked into Louis' eyes with a piercing stare and emerald eyes.

"I'm Harry," he said. With that, he went to the sink and splashed some water on his face. He shook his head, his curls swaying in the commotion.

"Thank you for the help," Harry said quietly. Louis smiled.

"No problem," Louis said as he walked out of the bathroom.

Now here Louis was, contemplating if it would make him a bad person if he regretted helping Harry. He decided against regretting being nice and turned the TV off, the pixilated Harry Styles disappearing into the vast blackness of the TV screen. Louis did not want to watch the rest of the finale. He didn't know if he could stomach it. Louis lied down in his bed, enjoying the darkness of his room. He stared into the blackness at what would be his ceiling were the lights on.

It had been about a month since he had been sent home. He found himself loathing everything about the familiar life he had been content living until now. He hated the way all the kids at school could never find anything else to talk about but the competition and how they all thought he should have stayed in the competition. He hated the schoolwork he had to catch up on after he returned. He hated the recognition he got as the kid who got kicked off first. Most of all, he hated the way his mother pitied him for not getting his dreams to come true. He didn't want pity. He wanted more than the mundane life he had returned to.

His eyes were slowly adjusting and the ceiling fan was coming into focus. It spun and Louis watched as he wondered if ceiling fans ever get tired of never doing anything besides spinning in circles.

Chapter 2

Explosions of lights with the intensity of the sun flashed rapidly in Harry's face. Cameras were clicking from all angles and demands were being shouted with the ferocity often found in trench warfare. Harry squinted and shielded his face from the bright light. He could hear the screaming from fans calling out his name. If he was being honest with himself, the whole uproar made him feel a little bit giddy on the inside. He felt like the world was craving something that only he could give.

This was not at all what he expected from getting second place. He had thought that life would return to normal and his experiences with X-Factor would sink into the shadows of his memory. He hadn't realized the fan base that had grown during the time when he was caught up in the competition that he basically forgot about the rest of the world. It felt almost a little bit unfair to Mat. After all, he had won first place. Yet here Harry was, getting all of the attention. Harry felt like he had somehow stolen something from Mat. Although it was not his intention, Harry could not help but confess to himself that he was somewhat content that he was getting most of the spotlight.

Harry was currently at a promotional signing. As he was led blindly through the sea of people and blinding camera flashes, Harry thought about the upcoming year. This was something that Harry often thought about in his free time since he took the second place title. Tickets for the seventh season tour of the X-Factor finalists had already sold out within several days and Harry anticipated the time when he could perform for thousands of people in a new city every night. He even had gotten several offers for record deals. As he thought about the recent luck that had been bestowed upon him, he couldn't help but grin sheepishly.

Harry was sat down at a small table and suddenly the mass of people ebbed towards him in one great rush. The air felt like it was slowly being leached from his lungs as he signed countless autographs. Harry found it funny. A few months before and no one even bothered trying to decipher his messy handwriting. Now, girls were pushing and screaming to get a small little pen scratch that immortalized their meeting with Harry Styles forever.

Through all the commotion, Harry's mind drifted and he thought back on a recent interview he did. The interview made him feel important and Harry realized then how much he enjoyed the idea of fame.

Interviewer: So, Harry Styles… do you feel good?

Harry: I feel amazing. I feel like I'm on top of the world!

Interviewing: You should! The fans just love you. Did you see them lined upside when you came in here?

Harry: I did. The fans are great. It's a weird feeling to be recognized.

Interviewer: You're going to be big, Harry Styles! Think of all the girls outside, waiting in line just for you!

Chapter 3

Louis looked out the window of the plane and at a skyline that he would probably not see for at least a few months that was slowly starting to fade into the distance. Over the roar of the engines, he couldn't bring himself to miss what he was leaving behind. It just reminded him of the rejection that seemed to shadow him everywhere he went.

Louis remembered when he told his mother of his plans.

"You want to go where?" his mother had asked, a bit shocked.

"New York…" he repeated, his eyes making eye contact with his mother's, those eyes that knew him only too well.

"This is kind of coming from nowhere," was all she could utter in response. She sat down at the kitchen table.

"I feel like I'm just wallowing in my own self pity over here. I want something new. A knew place where I won't be seen as that kid who wasn't good enough."

"What about your friends? Us? Won't you get homesick?" his mother asked, genuinely worried.

"Well, probably. I'll keep in contact with my friends and I can come back and visit," Louis told his mother. He was so sure that New York was the right place to go.

"What is this about, Louis? You know you can tell me anything," she assured him. He knew that she was not lying. He found solace in his mother that he found in no one else in this world. His mother was more than just his mom. She was one of his best friends.

"I just can't stay here," Louis explained. Louis' mother sat silent for a few moments. Louis could almost hear her mind ticking away, adding facts and figures in her head. She bit on her lower lip, as if the right answers would come to her if she chewed just write. She looked into her son's eyes for a few seconds.

"Okay," was all she said and she smiled when she saw a glimpse of happiness return to those blue eyes she loved so much. She could find no reason why he couldn't go. It would be expensive but if it brought Louis happiness, she was willing to pay the price.

Louis sighed as he realized that he did have something to miss. But Louis quickly shook it off for he was now flying towards a new beginning and the idea of that brought him more happiness than he had felt for months.

He already had a place to stay. Both him and his mother had worked out the details so everything would flow smoothly once he arrived in New York. He got a small apartment in the city. Of course, he would have to go job searching as soon as he got out there. Louis thought about what he would do. This was his first real experience on his own. The new territory that he was about to explore entirely on his own was frightening but it was a good kind of fear. It made Louis feel alive in a way that he had never quite felt before. Well… he had felt it before, admittedly. Twice, to be accurate.

The first time was when he had scored the role of Danny in his school's production of "Grease." It was opening night and he had been so scared. He remembered tugging at the black leather jacket that they had costumed him in. The whole auditorium was filled and he felt like he was about to pass out. But as soon as the show started, he felt like he was on top of the world. He had only felt that surge in his veins again when he had preformed for X-Factor.

Louis quickly blocked any further thought of the damned show. That was exactly what he was currently flying away from. Louis put in his iPod headphones and drowned out his thoughts with some of his favorite songs. Eventually, sleep overtook the boy's sense of consciousness.

Louis dreamed but when he awoke, he could not for the life of him remember why a tight grin was spreading across his face. He looked out the window and saw that not a speck of land was in sight. Louis decided that if they plane went down, he would die happy.

Chapter 4

Harry loved London. He had never actually been there before his "rise to fame" (as his mother liked to call it) but now that he had his own flat in the middle of the city, he couldn't help but fall in love with the place. Whenever he got a chance to run away from Paul (Harry's illustrious, hulking body guard), Harry would throw on a hoodie or concealing hat and just roam. He never had a plan on where he was going. But he always found something that fascinated him and Harry could spend hours upon hours exploring the beautiful city.

Today, however, Harry just wanted to stay indoors and relax. Recently, he had been in full-throttle recording his first album, which Simon insisted be called "That One Thing" which he got from the first single Harry had recorded and released. It was an instant hit in not only the UK but also in America. There was talk about starting a tour around America soon. But all the constant signings and appearances he had to make currently left Harry aching for sleep and a cup of warm tea to soothe his throat.

Harry lied out on his big, soft bed and stretched. His muscles felt over-worked but the stretching felt like a small dose of heaven. He let a sigh escape from his lips as he spread himself out as wide as he could. The bed felt particularly big. In fact, the whole apartment felt particularly big for just him. Harry shifted himself under the covers and curled up tightly into a ball. He didn't need anyone to keep him company, he told himself.

"Television," was what Harry outwardly decided upon. He threw himself out of bed and walked into the living room. Luckily, the shades were drawn for he wore only his boxers. Harry shrugged. Living by oneself did have advantages. After sitting down on the sofa, he propped his feet up on the coffee table. After flicking through several nondescript television shows, Harry decided upon a documentary on bears that he found mildly entertaining. However, he quickly found his mind drifting elsewhere.

Harry thought about how any other celebrity would probably have their "pad" filled with girls and booze right about now. Harry chuckled to himself as he turned off the television and went in search for his cell phone. He had thought he had left it by his bed but the device had obviously somehow magically transported itself somewhere else. Harry went to the kitchen. That was the last place he had seen it…. Hadn't he?

"Oh well," he shrugged. Harry had a bit of a habit of talking to himself whenever he was on his own. He made a mental note on trying to stop before it became a habit.

"Where is my bloody phone?" he asked no one in particular. And no one answered him return. With a small frown tugging at the ends of his lips, Harry felt a little bit more alone than he did before.

Chapter 5

Louis sat on a bench, suspiciously eyeing the mysterious mass he held in his hand. He had decided to finally take a stroll through Central Park. He had been living in New York for at least two weeks now and he had decided the trip was long overdue. And he was definitely glad he took the trip. Central Park was beautiful and abundantly green. Louis surmised that he loved it so much because it was in such stark contrast with the rest of the city. He loved that the fact that something so green could flourish in the middle of such a urban place.

While he had been casually strolling down a path, Louis had encountered a hot dog cart. Louis had never had a hot dog before. Not that they were completely scarce in Doncaster. He had just never gotten around to trying one. Louis felt immediately obligated to try his first ever hot dog. With a shrug, he got in line. After he paid the man, he nervously went for the first bench he could find and sat down, all the while eyeing the mysterious combination of meat and bun.

"Are you just going to stare at it?" a voice said to Louis' right. He had not realized someone had sat beside him. It was a girl and she was American. Of course she's American, he thought. This is America. Louis had to constantly remind himself that he was in another contry and that was why everyone had American accents.

"You've been staring at that hot dog for a good two minutes," the girl laughed.

"Oh. I didn't realize," Louis laughed as he realized how silly he must have looked contemplating a hot dog. Upon further examination, Louis found this girl to be actually quite attractive. The girl's blue eyes widened slightly and a quaint smile spread across her face as she realized that he was British.

"I love your accent. It's so cool," she commented with a giggle bubbling in her stomach. She began to curl a lock of her golden hair in her hand. Louis quickly found that he was quite a commodity in America. He wasn't sure that was due to the fact that nobody knew him, if he was good looking, or they were just attracted to his accent. But in either case, he didn't mind the attention. Relationships were nothing he had really thought too much about for quite a while. Maybe he would find somebody in America. Or somebody would find him.

"Thanks," Louis said, "I'm Louis." He shook her hand. Her hands were soft and cold.

"I'm Lily!" the girl said quickly, "Where are you from?"

"I'm from Doncaster," Louis told her. He laughed as she just blinked at him. "It's in England.

"Oh," she exclaimed sheepishly, "That's so cool." Suddenly, Lily was off to shuffling around inside her purse. She pulled out a pen and grabbed Louis' hand. She scribbled her name (with the ever-so-stereotypical heart dotting the "i") and then her phone number.

"You should call me sometime," she said, while standing.

"It was nice to meet you, Louis." She started to walk away. She glanced once over her shoulder and flashed her best smile for Louis. When she was out of sight, Louis let loose a mischievous smirk. Maybe America wasn't the answer to his problems after all. Maybe it was the girls.

Chapter 6

It seemed to Harry that he had been swept away from London as fast as he had been swept away from his normal life. He felt like he had only cracked the surface with his explorations of the city when he was abruptly forced into a tour bus. He didn't mind all that much. He was excited for the tour. And it wasn't like he was leaving anything (or anybody, for that matter) behind in London. Nothing he couldn't do the next time he had a break.

This touring experience was very different from his first tour with the X-Factor finalists of the seventh season. On that tour, he had been mere an act that made up part of the show. He was not the main focus and he only did two to three songs, not to mention that the songs were just covers. The upcoming tour, however, would be focused only on him. The very idea got his heart beating fast within his chest. Now that his first album was released, he had a whole lineup.

He didn't like to admit it to himself but he had become something of a sensation. His album had hit recording breaking numbers and everyone from England to France to America was begging him to come to their town for a concert. The plans for an American tour had been confirmed and he would soon be heading off to his first American experience.

Although the whole fame thing was exciting, Harry could not help shake the feeling that he was just some puppet; that they loved the idea of him more than they actually loved him or ever could love him. After all, none of the fans personally knew him. They were either intoxicated by his voice or by his looks (or by a mixture of the two). This left a sad, sinking feeling in the bottom of Harry's stomach. He would be trying to fall asleep in some hotel room in some random city or he would be gazing out the window of the tour bus and he would think to himself. He would think about his worth as a human being and what justified him living this way. Often times, Harry would find himself in a bit of a slum. He really didn't have anyone he could talk to. Harry had never been happier. But he had also never been so alone.

But whenever Harry felt down, the roar of the crowd could always somehow bring back life into his soul. He knew that the smiles he flashed on stage were genuine. After all, he was living his dream. Harry just never realized how lonely his dream could be.

"C'mon, Harry," said his manager one day before Harry was about to enter the stage, "Make sure you smile. Don't look so sad. They want to see Harry Styles. Not some frowny face."

Harry found it inside himself to crack a small grin yet thought to himself, But I am Harry Styles. No matter what my face is doing.

Chapter 7

Louis quickly found that he was in no mood for relationships. He had called Lily back and eventually they had started dating. It lasted all of three days and it was particularly infuriating. She had insisted upon constantly texting and calling him and wanted to be up-to-date on every little thing he did. Finally, he just called her and ended it. Louis had come to New York to help himself, not further complicate his life with girls.

So in lieu of a girlfriend, Louis decided to get a job. He was not sure what he was going to do but he would be satisfied as long as it didn't cry if he decided it wasn't for him.

Louis had actually started looking for a job as soon as he had got to town with little result. After giving up on his little fling (if he could even call it a fling) with Lily, Louis decided to go into full-throttle on his search for the perfect job. This proved harder than he originally thought. Everything listed was either boring or Louis wasn't qualified. But Louis was running dangerously low on everything he had ever saved up, so he didn't have much choice but to get any job he could.

Louis made it a habit it to check to listings in the paper each morning (or afternoon, depending on when he awoke). Nothing ever caught his eye. That was until one Saturday morning when he got the paper and checked the listing to find something that grabbed his attention.

Wanted: Singers/Waiters (Waitresses). Must sing well. Possibly play an instrument. Call Le Chant Sirène for audition.

(917) 203-5279

The idea intrigued Louis greatly. He cut out the add and stuffed it into his pocket. This sounded extremely promising. Louis had missed singing very much. In his apartment, he really couldn't belt like he used to at home with people living on all sides of him. Also, the thrill that he had got whenever he preformed was like his own little addiction. He craved the very thought of performing again.

As soon as humanly possible, Louis dialed the number on the add. The phone started to ring and his stomach dropped. There was a click on the line.

"What?" a female voice answered sharply and abruptly. She sounded extremely irritated and there was a racket in the background.

"Um, hello. My name is Louis Tomlinson. I would like to audition for Le Chant Sirène," Louis told the girl. There were a few moments of frantic shuffling and the noise of pots and pans falling to the floor.

"You know, now's not the greatest time…" she said absently, obviously focusing on the problems she was having at the moment.

"But I saw in the paper…" Louis insisted. He normally wouldn't be this pushy but he wanted this job. There were a few moments of frantic commotion on the other end of the line.

"Um… hold on," she said and then was suddenly hissing to the people clamoring in the background, "I'm on the phone! This is a business! Okay, hi, you still there?"

"Mhm," was all Louis could manage. He felt this opportunity going downhill more and more as the conversation continued.

"We really have no time here at the moment. My uncle just passed away and I'm kind of taking over her and," she added so that the people clamoring in the background could hear, "MY EMPLOYEES ARE NO HELP."

"Can I just sing to over the phone?" Louis asked, desperate.

"Um, well, I really have to go-" the girl protested but was cut off as Louis started singing.

Louis put all he had into it. He wanted this job and this was his one chance.

Hey there Delilah

What's it like in New York City?

I'm a thousand miles away

But girl, tonight you look so pretty

Yes you do

Times Square can't shine as bright as you

I swear it's true

Louis thought heard the girl furiously quieting the people in the background. His heart was racing but in the thrilling way that made him feel whole and complete.

Hey there Delilah

Don't you worry about the distance

I'm right there if you get lonely

Give this song another listen

Close your eyes

Listen to my voice, it's my disguise

I'm by your side

Oh it's what you do to me

Oh it's what you do to me

Oh it's what you do to me

Oh it's what you do to me

What you do to me.

Louis finished and there was silence on the other side of the phone and his face flushed when he realized the girl may have hung up on him.

"Can you be here in an hour?" the girl said. She sounded like she was on speakerphone and the constant noise in the background had finally fell silent.

"Yes, I can."

"See you then." The girl hung up with a click and Louis smiled. He immediately hopped into the shower and then got dressed. The whole time, his heart would not stop feeling like it was about to burst with joy. He was so excited. He looked in his closet and picked out the best thing he could find that seemed fashionable and nice yet wasn't trying too hard. He picked out a pair of khakis and a white button up. To finish the ensemble, he pulled on a pair of suspenders. He thought he looked rather nice as he headed out the door to call for a cab.

Usually, Louis would walk to wherever he needed to go but it was a special occasion so he decided to get a taxi. When he finally got a taxi, Louis hummed the whole way to the club, smiling sheepishly. The taxi pulled up to a building and Louis looked out his window.

"Are you sure this it?' Louis asked. This building looked completely void of any forms of life.

"Yes. This is the address you gave me," the cab driver told him. Louis paid the man and got out. Upon further inspection, he realized there was a small sign plastered to the wall. It read "Le Chant Sirène" and had a picture of a mermaid on a rock, calling a sailor to her. Louis shrugged and went inside.

Louis gasped as he saw how messy the place was. The tables and chairs were all strewn about the room and a thick layer of dust covered everything. There was a small stage with nothing but a piano and a microphone stand. Louis looked to see if anybody was around. When he was certain he was alone, he got into the stage and pictured people sitting in the seats and the sound of applause made him feel warm inside.

There was a crash that came from a set of doors and Louis quickly jumped down from the stage and towards the noise of the crash. Before he could even get to the door, a short girl came rushing out. She ran straight into Louis, her face hitting his chest. She gasped and fell to the ground.

"Oh, hi!" she said, standing and brushing herself off. She put out a hand for Louis to take and he did as expected.

"Louis Tomlinson," the boy offered.

"I'm Rachel."

"It's a pleasure to meet you," he told her and she smiled.

"When can you start?" she asked.

"As soon as possible."

"Would tonight be okay for you?" she asked, completely serious.

It took a few seconds for Louis to realize he had gotten the job. He grinned widely.

"That would be perfect," Louis said excitably

"Come with me. You've got a lot to learn and so little time." She headed towards the door that she had entered through. Louis only hung back a second to appreciate the events that had just successfully turned out to be in his favor. Things were finally beginning to look up for Louis Tomlinson.

Chapter 8

Harry had just finished up his last number. He ended the song and took a few bows. Although the cheering was too loud for anyone to even possibly hear, he screamed "Thank you" and then proceeded to leave the stage with a brisk wave. As soon as he lost sight of the audience, he was hit by a sudden sense of isolation.

This was starting to happen more and more. Harry found his only sense of comfort in his fans but as soon as he was done performing and the roar of the crowd died down, an aura of loneliness would bestow itself upon him once again. And it seemed that each time that the overwhelming sense of depression would wrap itself around Harry, it would grow more intense.

The sense of loneliness was overbearing and Harry tried everything he could to ignore it or push it off. Yet, it would still creep up on him, transforming the normally bright and exuberant young boy into something much colder.

One night after a concert, when the feeling seemed to be physically pushing down upon him, he acted rashly. He had mindlessly and purposefully went out the stage door and into the mob of fans. He eventually found a girl that he found mildly attractive and took her back to the hotel. He did not say one word to her and she was too nervous to say anything to him. When he got her to his room, he kissed her and she kissed him and in those kisses he found an inkling of solitude. It did little to eradicate the feeling of loneliness but at least it temporarily put it out of his mind. Harry's intent had been to selfishly take the girl but he couldn't bring himself to go any further. He couldn't if he wanted it to mean anything.

The girl had left with reluctance and embarrassment in her eyes and Harry just stayed in bed, curled up while he thought about what he had almost done. Harry had almost abused his fame for the flesh of some girl whose name he didn't even know. Harry remembered a time when his dreams hadn't seemed so corrupted.

He crawled out of the hotel bed and took a long shower. The steam rose around him, making it hard to see. He looked for his hands but all he saw was steam. Harry felt like he was slipping away, disappearing down the drain with the water.

Chapter 9

Le Chant Sirène was formerly owned by a man named Gregory Schmidt. It was a well-respected and underground nightclub of sorts that had been passed down from his grandfather to his father and then to him. Although he had no kids, he did have a brilliant young niece who happened to be in New York. Her name was Rachel and she had just graduated high school and was in her freshman year of college at New York University. She had frequently come to visit her uncle whenever she had free time. She would help wait tables as well as occasionally grace the stage with a song.

When her uncle grew sick and died, the Le Chant Sirène was left in her name. At first she planned on selling the old place, but she knew how much it meant to her uncle so she decided to take on the responsibility of boss until she found someone else worthy of owning the place.

Unfortunately, one of the main acts that preformed nightly at Le Chant Sirène left after they realized Schmidt would no longer be running the place. This left Rachel with a monumental gap in her line-up as well as a number of other problems that had gone untouched while her uncle was alive.

Rachel was so thankful that she found Louis. He was perfect for the opening. He was quite a looker and he had talent to spare as far as his vocals went. As soon as he came in, she cooked up a set list for him that would entertain the audience as well as show off Louis. Louis made a few suggestions here and there and within the week, Louis was ready for his first performance.

The club opened and people shuffled in through the doors. Louis was surprised how many people the club fit despite its size. People of all ages were seated at little round tables that all centered around the stage that jutted out slightly into the room. On the stage was a wooden stool placed behind a microphone highlighted only by a blue spotlight. After a considerable amount of people had shuffled to their tables, Rachel (dressed in a beautiful black cocktail dress) hopped onto the stage. Her hair was curled- as opposed to the messy ponytail that Louis first saw her in- and the little brown ringlets bounced around her shoulders.

"Hi, can everyone hear me fine?" she asked, giving the microphone a quick tap. The audience replied with a round of applause.

"So, tonight is the first time we've been open in a while. I know a lot of you came out here today because of my uncle, Gregory Schmidt."

There was more applause and Rachel smiled at the memory of her uncle.

"Well, instead of some speech, I prepared a song because I know how much he loved music and how much he loved this club and how much he loved his customers."

There was cheering from the audience. Somebody whistled and others were clapping.

"So, this is for you, Uncle Greg," she said. She turned to the pianist and nodded. The pianist began and Rachel sang a beautiful rendition of "What a Wonderful World." Louis was in awe at the beauty of her voice as he took orders from his section. No wonder she's going to NYU for musical theatre, Louis thought. Her voice was so amazing.

Once she was finished, she was praised with a booming round of applause. She merely smiled and curtsied.

"Next up, let's hear from Kimmy!" Rachel beckoned for Kimmy, a sprightly girl with fiery red hair and an assortment of piercings, to come to the stage. Kimmy had a rock edge to her. She brought her guitar up there with her and she sang some Paramore songs. Louis took orders nervously, awaiting Kimmy's final song. He was after her and this was his first time performing for a crowd at Le Chant Sirène.

"Just relax," said Rachel's voice from behind him. She patted quickly him on the back and was off talking to customers. Kimmy's song ended and she took a brisk bow.

"Thank you, thank you! Alright, we have a surprise for you tonight! Someone new! And he's British!" Kimmy added in a whisper, despite being on a microphone. The audience laughed. Louis finished delivering a plate of food to one of his tables and he headed toward the stage. Kimmy stepped away from the mic and hopped on top of the piano, receiving a dirty look from Dot (the pianist). Louis took several deep breaths as he stepped in front of the microphone.

"Hello," Louis said. His voiced sounded weird to himself. The whole audience cheered.

"I'm Louis Tomlinson." There were whistles from the audience. Louis felt himself blush slightly.

"For my first song, I'm going to be singing "Valerie" by Amy Winehouse." The entire audience whistled and cheered as Kimmy began to strum and Dot started playing. Louis gulped as he prepared to sing his first note.

Well, sometimes I go out by myself

And I look across the water

And I think of all the things, what you're doing

And in my head I paint a picture

The adrenalin was now pulsating through his veins like fire and he felt his heart beat quicken. He felt the familiar spread of warmth into his body that he only got when he was performing.

'Cause since I've come on home

Well, my body's been a mess

And I've missed your ginger hair

And the way you like to dress

Won't you come on over

Stop makin' a fool out of me

Why don't you come on over Valerie?

Valerie, Valerie, Valerie…

Louis was now completely at home on the stage that had been so unfamiliar to him only a week ago. He looked into the audience and smiled as everyone started to clap along with his song. People were cheering and this made Louis feel like he was doing what he was born to do. He smiled and it felt like the entire world smiled back.

Chapter 10

After he had slept with that girl after that concert when the feelings of sadness had been particularly defeating, Harry had vowed that he would never do anything like that ever again. He was simply not one for one-night stands. He had felt depraved for several weeks after the incident. The media had been quick to label him as quite the "player" but Harry was actually very sensitive when it came to matters of the heart.

In an attempt to somehow thwart The Sadness, Harry put everything he had into his work. He focused on his career and nothing else. And it had actually worked for a few months. But eventually, Harry felt It slowly start to creep back and leach itself to his whole being.

Before his first US tour, Harry had been given two weeks off in which he was to visit his family back in Holmes Chapel. He enjoyed the time but his mom had been worrying over him from the second he got home.

"I'm fine, mum," he promised after the fifth time she had asked.

"You just seem down is all," she replied

"No. I'm fine, " Harry lied, mustering the most encouraging smile that he could. She eyes him suspiciously for a few seconds. Then her eyes flicked up to his hair and she let out a sigh.

"You need a haircut!" she told him. Harry laughed. It wasn't his doing. He did like his hair long but he was forced to keep it exactly the way management wanted it.

"Don't talk to me about it! It's not my choice," Harry told his mom, throwing his hands up. She laughed.

"Aw. My baby has to keep his fans pleased, doesn't he?" she said, pinching his cheeks between her fingers. Harry laughed. He loved his mom dearly and she definitely made him happy whenever he was around her. He hugged her tightly.

"I love you, mum," he told her.

"I love you too. You'll always be my little baby," she told him and she returned the hug.

The next week, Harry was packing his bags for America. He did have to admit that after the two-week vacation time he got, he did feel a lot better. And he was really excited about America. He had never been before and he was very anxious to see the new sites.

After he hugged his family goodbye in the airport, he boarded the plane first class. As the plane took off, he looked out the window at his hometown and hoped that America would bring him happiness. He felt bad about being so dependent on others for his own happiness. Yet, for some reason, he could not find any of the happiness that he craved so much within himself.

Chapter 11

Louis was living a dream of a life. He was performing nightly at Le Chant Sirène and he was getting paid great money to do it. He had found a wonderful best friend in his boss, Rachel, as well as a number of other friends he made while working at Le Chant Sirène. He had created a life of his own here in the city of New York and it felt so personal and beautiful that sometimes it baffled Louis.

On Mondays, it became a habit for Louis and Rachel to sit in the empty Le Chant Sirène and think of new songs to sing. Louis and Rachel could sit and talk and laugh for hours upon hours. They had become quite close in the few months that Louis had worked at the club. Although they both found the other attractive, they would sooner describe their relationship more akin to that of a brother and a sister.

"You know what song you should do!" Rachel exclaimed one Monday night, "That one! By that British singer!"

"Adele?" Louis asked.

"No! The boy. With the hair!" Louis knew where this was going.

"…Harry Styles…?" he sighed.

"Yeah! That's the one!" Rachel exclaimed, "You should sing the one that's always on the radio. But, like, a chill, slowed down version."

"Um… I'd rather not," Louis said, a bit unsettled. Louis had almost completely forgotten about Harry Styles and the whole X-Factor thing.

"What's wrong?" asked Rachel, seeing that something was wrong. Louis just shook his head. He had not told Rachel about the whole X-Factor experience. He just wanted to be rid of it.

"Oh, nothing. I just don't much care for him or his songs."

Rachel cocked an eyebrow in the air. She was giving Louis the look but he refused to give in, despite her big brown eyes drilling into his gaze. Reluctantly, Rachel dropped the topic. However, if need be, Louis had a great way to distract her. All he had to do was mention something on Broadway and she'd be off on a whole new conversation so fast that it would make his head spin.

As they were discussing song choices, Louis let his mind drift. He imagined a life where he had won X-Factor instead of Harry Styles. Would he trade that life for the one he had now? Probably not, Louis decided. Yet, it was still hard for Louis not to imagine a life where Harry would be wishing that he could be more like him.

Chapter 12

Harry's first concert had been in Hollywood. He had landed in Los Angeles and was greeted by a sea of paparazzi. He had become even more famous and there was a unending abundance of fans that recognized him everywhere he went.

To Harry's dismay, The Sadness had not left for good but had been hiding out, waiting to return more powerful and potent than before. Although America was fascinating, Harry could not shake the feeling of The Sadness.

Harry got through several concerts with a fake smile on his face. He did multiple interviews and radio broadcasts, forcing himself to sound a lot happier than he felt. He had never been good at faking but he tried his best. He didn't want to worry his mom or his fans. Most of all, he wanted management off his back. They were always telling him what to do and he was sick and tired of it. They treated him like he was a product to be sold and not an actual person. But that was the price of fame and Harry was sure that if given a choice, he would do the same thing. After all, it wasn't the fame or the work that made him like this. It was something else. It felt like something was missing in his life but he couldn't place his finger on it.

He traveled from California to Tennessee and from Tennessee to North Carolina and from North Carolina to Illinois and from Illinois to Missouri and from Missouri to New Jersey. The next stop was New York but Harry had little enthusiasm left. He felt like the weight of the world was crashing down upon him and The Sadness was beginning to take its toll. Harry hadn't slept for the past three nights and the dark bags under his eyes were growing more prominent with each concert. Harry felt like he was becoming more like a shell of what was formerly Harry Styles, a shell that would sing and dance and sign autographs if management commanded him to do so.

By the time the New Jersey concert ended, Harry felt the last bit of fight within him escape. He was so tired of this game where he fooled his own fans into thinking he was okay when he wasn't at all. Harry knew the fans would understand. They loved him. Or at least he hoped they did. They wouldn't be mad, would they? They would just want him to get better.

In the tour bus in New York City, Harry felt the towering buildings caving in on him and he decided that he had never felt so horribly alone in his life. It was as he was being driven through the streets of New York that he finally forced himself to use the word. Depressed. What did it even really mean? Harry didn't know the correct medical terminology but he felt so sure that everything that was going wrong with him in his life was revolved around that one, simple but devastating word. He had promised himself never to use it but he could no longer lie to himself. He was depressed. Harry Styles was depressed.

The tour bus pulled up to the theatre that was destined to be his final stop in the American tour. He was shuffled off of the bus and into the theatre. He was handed a microphone and he watched silently as the crew set everything up. As everyone was constructing the stage for the show, Harry felt his heart beat start to quicken. He felt so trapped. His breaths got shorter and sharper within his chest. He felt the world spinning around him.

"Are you okay, Mr. Styles?" he heard a voice say. He tried to talk but nothing came out. He felt the microphone in his hands drop to floor. People were suddenly crowding around him Everyone was talking at once, screaming his name or telling someone to call for help. The voices echoed in his mind and he felt like he was about to pass out.

"SHUT UP!" he heard himself scream. It was a voice that was simultaneously his but also the most foreign thing he had ever heard in his life. The voice was desperate and afraid. It was something unfamiliar that had crawled from his lungs, up his throat, and out of his lips.

The next thing he knew, he was running. He did not know where he was running or why but he knew that he had to get away from something before his whole life came crashing down at his feet. He heard his name being called behind him but the voices were fading into the noises of the city. Lights were flashing all around him and the chatter of people flew by as his legs carried him further than he had ever gone. His face felt wet and cold and he realized that he was crying, the tears streaking his face. His legs and lungs were burning but he willed himself to continue. To not get caught. He couldn't go back to that place.

By the time he stopped running, he was completely lost. The sun had just began to sink below the silhouette He had absolutely no idea of where he was but continued to walk. He checked that he had his wallet and phone. He pulled out his phone and saw that he had sixty-eight missed calls. He was in so much trouble. But he didn't care. He hadn't felt so alive in quite a while.

The phone vibrated in his hand. It was Paul. Reluctantly, Harry answered it.

"Hello?" Harry answered, wearily.

"…Harry? Is that you? Oh, you guys, I got him!" Paul told somebody in the background, "Harry. Where did you go? Everyone is freaking out? You know you're not supposed to leave me. You could get hurt."

"I know, Paul. I'm sorry… I just didn't know what to do. Are they mad?"

"Quite. They had to cancel tonight's show. They've had to refund 25% of the tickets already."

Harry was silent. He had let his fans down. That cut him the deepest.

"But they rescheduled it for this Friday. They just had a press release and said you were sick and needed a few days to recuperate. Where are you so we can come get you?"

"Paul… I need a few days." There was a moment of silence. Paul knew the pressures that Harry was under and Paul was probably the closest thing Harry had to a friend right now.

"I can buy you a few days. Today is Monday. You have the credit card?" Paul asked.

"Yes," Harry gulped. Was Paul helping him?

"Okay, don't do anything stupid. Stay hidden. Don't get recognized. Get a hotel and rest. God knows you need it."

Harry felt a lump forming in his throat.

"Thank you, Paul," was all he could say.

"Get better. I miss the old Harry. The world's a better place when you're smiling," was all he said and with a click, Paul was gone.

Harry looked up and realized how big New York was. He felt extremely insignificant but the idea kind of appealed to him. He pulled his hood over his head and hoped that was enough to keep anyone from recognizing him.

His stomach gurgled and Harry realized that he was hungry, which was a first in quite a while. He looked at the street he was on. He thought he could hear the faint sound of music coming from one of the buildings. He found the building that was the source of the music. It looked like some kind of restaurant. There was a sign with something in French written above a mermaid seducing a sailor into the ocean. He decided to get a bite to eat and then see where the world decided to take him from there. He entered and was immediately greeted with a beautiful song. A short girl with long brown hair was singing on the stage. It was some show tune that Harry vaguely recognized. It was breath taking.

Harry sat himself at a table in the far back, where the only source of light was a burning candle that cast flickering shadows every which way. Harry watched the girl, in awe at her voice. She was amazing.

"Can I take your order?"

The sound made Harry jump for two reasons. One, he had not heard the waiter come up to him. Two, the voice had a British accent, which was not something he was used to hearing in America. He looked up at the waiter. He was a young boy, who looked like he could be no more than eighteen. He had tan skin and bright blue eyes. His brown hair was pushed to the side in a very familiar way. Harry felt like he knew this person.

"I know you…" Harry mumbled. The waiter looked at Harry with squinted eyes. Harry searched his mind for the face that was looking back at his. He knew this boy but he did not recall how…

"Are you alright?" the waiter asked and with those words, the memory came flooding back.

Harry had been so nervous that day. He was not usually so prone to stage fright but the enormity of the event had left Harry's stomach churning uncomfortably. While he was in the waiting room waiting for his turn to sing in front of the judges, Harry felt like he was about to burst. He ran to the bathroom as nonchalantly as he could manage and went to a stall and feel to his knees over the loo. He felt the contents of his stomach start its way back up. He heard the door open and footsteps shuffle over to a urinal. As much as Harry willed himself not to, he emptied his stomach into the toilet.

"Are you alright in there?" a voice asked. He did not answer because he was preoccupied with another round of vomiting. He heard his stall door open and he felt the presence of someone behind him.

"Go away," Harry moaned grumpily. The boy behind ignored Harry and patted his back gently. Immersed with shame as well as sheer panic, Harry let out an audible groan.

"I can't do this," Harry told the boy.

"You can't throw up? Because I think you already did…" was the boy's reply. Cheeky, Harry thought.

"No, this show. I've never been this nervous," Harry shared. He was being surprisingly open with this complete stranger. Harry was attacked by another round of vomiting. He felt so defeated.

"You know… I'm sure you'll do great. I mean, you made it this far," the boy reassured him. Harry was baffled by how kind this stranger was being. Somehow, the kindness did something to remedy his stomach and Harry felt much better as far as his stomach was concerned. As far as his pride went, that was more bruised than anything. Harry pulled his head from the toilet bowl and sat on the grown. He wiped his mouth which he was sure was disgusting. He wished this boy wouldn't look at him like this. Yet the boy wasn't deterred, for he sat next to Harry on the ground.

"You okay now?" the boy asked.

"Never been better… It was just nerves," Harry explained. He felt his face flush with embarrassment.

"Come on. Let's get you cleaned up," the boy said, standing. Harry did not feel like standing but the boy held out a hand to help him up. Harry let the boy help him up.

"I'm Louis," the boy said. Harry smiled. As much as he was embarrassed, he sure was grateful for the boy's help.

"I'm Harry."

Harry went to the sink and washed his face off with a splash of cool water. He shook his head to sweep his hair out of his eyes.

"Thank you for the help," Harry had said, quietly. The boy merely smiled and said, "No problem" then retreated out of the bathroom.

"It's Louis, right?" Harry asked, making sure he had the right guy. Louis blinked at Harry in surprise.

"…Harry…?" Louis asked, his voice doubtful. Harry nodded. They both looked at each other in disbelief.

Chapter 13

"….Harry…?" Louis asked in disbelief. The curly headed boy nodded. Louis was at a loss for words. He sat down at the table and stared at Harry. He tried forming some kind of coherent sentence but no words were leaving his mouth. Louis didn't think he had ever felt so many emotions at once but most of all he was confused.

"What are you doing here?" was all that Louis could manage.

"Um… I'm not quite sure, actually… I, kind of, ran away…"

"You ran away?" Louis asked, cocking an eyebrow.

"Well…. Yes," Harry replied.

"From what?"

"From my concert, my managers, my bodyguard. I just ran away. And I ended up here. And now you're here…" It seemed as if Harry was just as confused and was trying to fit any possible puzzle pieces together.

"What are you doing here?" Harry asked. Louis felt something that resembled anger tugging at his stomach.

"Well, Harry," said Louis slowly and in an irritated manner, "I work here."

"No, I meant, America. What are you doing in New York City?" Harry asked. He seemed pleased that he had run into Louis. Louis could not have felt more the opposite. Seeing Harry was bringing back all kinds of feelings that he had not felt in quite a while.

"I came here after X-Factor," Louis told him.


"Because I felt pathetic and I needed to get away, okay? And I don't appreciate you with your perfect life just bursting in here and ruining it. I was doing fine-" Louis was cut off by Rachel's voice on the mic.

"Now please put your hands together for Louis Tomlinson!" There was the usual clapping and cheering. Standing, Louis sighed.

"Look. I'm happy that you won and all but I don't need you to remind me of my failure," Louis told Harry. Harry looked confused as Louis turned away.

He was not in the mood at the moment but maybe it would be a nice distraction. While walking to the stage, Louis hoped that he was suffering from a delusion and he had really been talking to an empty chair instead of Harry Styles. But something told him that it was all for real and, somehow, his old life had caught back up with him.

As he stood in front of the mic, he saw Harry Styles staring at him from the back in the shadows of the club. Louis sang his usual line up and the crowd was more than pleased. Louis specifically avoided looking at the back where Harry would be. He did not want to even think about him when he was singing. This was Louis' solace and he would not let Harry Styles take that away.

Louis was the closing act that night so when he finished, everyone paid their bills and gathered their belongings and shuffled out the door. Louis looked towards the table that had sat Harry but Harry was not there. Louis sighed in relief. He just wanted to forget about this whole night. As he cleaned up around the club, Louis marveled at the pure coincidence it was that Harry Styles had walked into the club that he worked at after the whole incidence in the X-Factor bathroom.

"Is everything good?" Rachel asked.

"Yeah, great. I'm almost done. You go home. I'll lock up," Louis offered.

"Thank you!" she exclaimed, wrapping him in a warm hug. "I will see you tomorrow!"

As Rachel left, Louis finished up and grabbed his coat from the back. He went outside and locked the door behind him.

"That was amazing," a deep and almost unintelligible voice said behind him. Louis jumped and turned to see Harry. Harry laughed at Louis' startled expression.

"You nearly gave me a heart attack!" Louis complained, grasping at his chest. His heart was thumping rapidly.

"Sorry about that," Harry said with a mischievous grin, leading Louis to believe that he was, indeed, not really sorry. Louis glared, but he felt a smile tugging at the side of his mouth.

"But really. You were amazing," Harry offered again. Louis just stared for a few moments.

"Thanks… Well, goodbye," Louis said and started to walk away.

"No, wait…" Harry said suddenly, grabbing Louis' arm. Louis rolled his eyes and turned back to the boy.

"What?" Louis asked. The boy hesitated a minute before speaking.

"…I don't have a place to stay…" Harry told him. Louis sighed. Here he was trying to escape his past and here his past was, trying to get him to let him stay at his home. Louis was about to decline the curly headed boy when something within himself tugged at his gut. Maybe it was the sad, lonely expression on Harry's face that made Louis cave.

Louis began to walk away and Harry just sat there staring sadly. Louis turned to him and asked, "Well… are you coming?"

A smile broke out on Harry's face as he ran to catch up with Louis.

"Thank you," Harry said. Louis just nodded. The rest of the way home, they walked in silence. Louis was in no mood to bring up the ghosts of his past that were threatening to haunt him once again.

Chapter 14

"It's not much, but it's home," Louis said as Harry entered the apartment. The apartment consisted of two rooms, one of which was the kitchen and the other was the bedroom. The front door led right into the kitchen and that was where Harry was currently looking around in silence as Louis gauged him for a reaction. Although it was small, Louis had made up for it in his decorating. Harry could tell from the way Louis dressed and the apartment that Louis took pride in his style. However, there was a bit of a mess strewn about the kitchen.

"This is brilliant," Harry muttered. Louis eyed him in disbelief.

"This is brilliant?" Louis asked, making sure he heard right. Harry nodded. It was not until he saw this apartment that he realized what had been so wrong with his own. His apartment had always been so neat and clean and felt too open. But Louis' place felt so much more like a home should.

"Yeah. It's great," Harry confirmed. Louis eyed him cautiously, waiting for something to signal that Harry was poking fun. Harry went from the kitchen area and to Louis' bedroom, seemingly in awe of the place.

"That's my bedroom," Louis told Harry. Harry thought he could hear a tint of annoyance in Louis' voice.

"Oh, sorry…" Harry apologized, turning to exit. Louis huffed.

"No, it's okay. Go ahead."

Harry went to the window and drew apart the curtains, revealing New York City in all her glory.

"That's a nice view," Harry told Louis. Louis joined him by the window.

"Yeah. It's great," Louis agreed. Harry yawned and it caused Louis to yawn as well. They both laughed a little.

"Well, it's been a long day… I should probably get some sleep. You look pretty tired yourself," Louis told Harry.

"I am tired," said Harry, "Where should I sleep?"

"I suppose I could make you a palette in here?" Louis offered. "I'm sorry I don't have a couch or anything."

"Oh, it's alright. The floor is fine."

The two boys proceeded to lie out several blankets on the floor. Louis went over to his bed and threw Harry a pillow.

"I'm gonna shower. If you're hungry, there's stuff in the fridge and in the cabinet. You can shower after me, alright?"

"Sure," Harry said and Louis disappeared into the bathroom. Harry was hungry. He hadn't gotten anything at Le Chant Sirène because he had been so shocked at finding Louis.

Harry made his way to the kitchen and started looking through the fridge when he heard the shower start in the bathroom. Not long after, he heard muffled singing. Harry smiled. He could tell Louis was not exactly keen on him. Harry wasn't exactly sure why but he could feel it. Harry, on the other hand, was greatly enjoying Louis' company. Louis was treating him just like he would anybody else (if not maybe a little colder) and he reminded him of home.

Harry decided upon a bowl of noodles that Louis had in his cabinet. Harry threw the noodles into a bowl, filled it with water, and popped it into the microwave. He sat at the kitchen table as he waited for the microwave to beep. While sitting there, he heard the bathroom door open and saw Louis, garbed in only a towel, shuffle past the door and to his closet. Harry quickly found somewhere else to occupy his gaze. Seconds later, Louis emerged fully dressed in a white v-neck and shorts.

"What you making?" Louis asked.

"Noodles," Harry replied, trying to subdue a laugh. Louis' hair was plastered to his head and he wore a pair of glasses.

"What are you laughing at?" Louis asked, narrowing his eyes.

"I didn't know you wore glasses." A giggle

"I usually wear contacts. Quit laughing!" Louis ordered Harry. This only made Harry laugh harder. The microwave beeped. Still laughing, Harry stumbled over to the microwave and opened it, taking out the noodles. In the middle of a more rambunctious guffaw, Harry tipped the bowl of noodles and the water came pouring out over his right hand. Wincing in pain, he dropped the bowl and it shattered on the floor.

"Shit!" Harry cursed as he grabbed his hand and he tiptoed around the broken glass. The water had burned him and his hand seared in waves of pain.

"Shit, shit, shit," Harry continued under his breath. Immediately, Louis was by his side and leading him carefully through the shattered remnants of the bowl to the kitchen sink. Louis turned on the water faucet and forced Harry's hand under the cool stream. Harry winced as the water made his arm burn worse. Harry tried jerking away but Louis held him in place.

"No. Stop moving. It will draw the heat out," Louis said calmly. Harry let Louis lead his hand completely under the water. The pain slowly started to fade to a dull throb.

"Stay here," Louis told Harry. Harry stayed put as Louis went to a cupboard and took out a first aid kit.

Louis took Harry's hand from under the water. His hand was bright red and a little swollen. Louis pressed down gently on a red patch and the skin underneath his finger turned temporarily white.

"I think it's only a first degree burn," Louis told Harry, leading him to the kitchen table. Louis opened the first aid kit and pulled out a tube of ointment and some gauze. Louis opened the tube and applied a large amount to his finger and slowly applied it to the red area. Harry bit his lip.

"Does that hurt?" Louis asked softly. Harry shook his head and Louis finished spreading the ointment around. He then took the gauze and wrapped it up nicely around Harry's hand.

"There we are. Good as new," Louis said, standing carefully to avoid the glass on the floor. Harry looked at the pieces of the shattered bowl.

"I am so sorry," Harry apologized. Louis grabbed a broom and dustpan from a coat closet.

"Don't worry about it. Did you cut your feet?" Louis asked while sweeping up the glass. It didn't feel like it but Harry checked to be sure.

"No, I don't think so," Harry replied. Louis swept the glass and noodles into the dustpan and threw it into the trash. He returned the broom and dustpan to its place and returned to the kitchen. He made another bowl of noodles and stuck it in the microwave. "How about I do it this time?" Louis teased with a little laugh. Harry smiled.

"I can pay for that," Harry offered. Louis just waved his hand.

"Not a big deal," Louis reassured him. Louis realized there was still water on the floor so he grabbed a paper towel and made sure everything was dry. Then Louis went to the fridge and pulled out a bag of carrots. Harry eyed the bag with a smirk.

"Carrots?" Harry asked. Louis nodded and took a big, crunchy bite.

"Mhm. I love em'. They're my favorite," Louis shared, taking another bite. The microwave beeped and Louis took out the noodles, over-exaggerating the care he took to poke fun at Harry.

"Knock it off!" Harry laughed. Louis plopped a spoon in the noodles and sat it in front of Harry.

"Thank you very much," Harry told Louis. Louis nodded and sat down beside him and sighed. Through a mouthful of noodles, Harry asked, "What is it?"

"Oh, nothing. I just never in a million years thought that I would be in New York City with Harry Styles," Louis said, scoffing at the absurdity of the situation. Harry knew what he meant. This whole situation was crazy and improbable. He had thought Louis' and his story was over that day in the X-Factor bathroom yet here Louis was, once again, coming to his aid.

"This is the second time you've helped me," Harry said aloud. Louis looked at him and grinned.

"Three, if you count me taking your sorry ass in," Louis taunted. The two boys laughed.

"Are you done?" Louis asked, nodding towards Harry's bowl.

"I can get it." Harry stood and grabbed the bowl with his left hand. Louis grabbed the bowl and let out a disapproving sound.

"You're going to ruin your bandages," Louis scolded playfully, grabbing the bowl. "Let me take care of it."

Louis washed the dish and threw the bag of remaining carrots into the fridge.

"You should probably wait to shower until tomorrow. A shower will probably ruin the bandage and sting," Louis advised. Louis flipped the light switch in the kitchen off and the boys made their way to Louis' room.

"Sure. Do you have something I can sleep in?" Harry asked, reluctantly. Louis laughed and nodded.

"Yeah." He went to his closet and threw Harry some athletic shorts and a plain, white t-shirt.

"Thanks," Harry said and stripped down to his underwear to pull on the new clothes. He threw his old clothes in the corner and lied down on the palette that they had made.

"Ready?" Louis asked and Harry nodded.

"The bathroom's right here if you need to go tonight," Louis told Harry and flipped off the ceiling lights, climbing into bed. Louis then turned off the lamp that was on his bedside table and Harry could hear him getting comfortable. The only sound for a few moments was the fan.

"Thank you," Harry said. There was no reply for several seconds. He hoped Louis had not fallen asleep so fast.

"You're welcome," Louis replied softly.

"Can I ask you something?" Harry asked quietly, looking in the direction of Louis' bed although he could not see anything in the darkness.

"Sure," was Louis' reply.

"Why don't you like me?" Harry asked. There was silence for a few seconds and Louis took a deep breath.

"I don't not like you, Harry. It's just… you represent everything I dreamed of but failed to do. If anything, I'm jealous of you," Louis confessed. He was surprised with himself. He was not usually so open with strangers. Then again, this wasn't exactly a stranger.

"I'm sorry. I don't know if it'll mean anything to you but I think you're great and I think you should have gone on. The way you sang in that club was amazing."

There was silence as Louis took this in.

"Thanks," Louis replied, his voice a whisper.

"And if it makes you feel any better, I am jealous of you," Harry added. Louis laughed sarcastically.

"Very funny, Harry."

"No, really. You seem so happy here…" Harry trailed off. Louis thought about that for a moment.

"I am happy here…" Louis realized, smiling in the dark.

"And that's what is important. Believe me," said Harry.

"Are you not happy?" Louis asked seriously. Harry sighed.

"It's a long story."

"We've got all night," Louis told him. And Harry let his story spill from the edges of his mind and out into the open where Louis could soak them in. Harry had never talked with anybody about this and he felt a burden lift off his shoulders. When Harry had nothing left to say, Louis told him his story. And they both took turns telling stories and jokes, laughing harder than either of them had laughed in a long time. They talked into the late hours of the night but eventually succumbed to sleep. They fought it, willing to continue sharing their life with the stranger in the dark. The two boys that had gone to bed as strangers were now falling asleep as friends.

Chapter 15


Louis jolted out of bed. The fire alarm was blaring. Louis coughed as he smelled smoke.

"Oh God," Louis uttered as he sprung out of bed and ran into the kitchen. Luckily, there was no sign of giant flames. However, a very wild-headed Harry Styles attempting to cook bacon did catch his attention. There was smoke billowing out of the skillet the Harry was attempting to cook the bacon in. Louis grabbed the nearest chair and stood to remove the battery from the fire alarm. Louis eyed the skillet full of blackened bits that had once been bacon.

"Well, I must say... this is a bit awkward. Good morning," Harry greeted Louis with a wide, roguish grin.

"What on earth are you doing?" Louis asked. Harry looked at the burnt bacon.

"Well, I was trying to cook," Harry said. Louis looked at Harry and they both burst into laughter.

"Well, first thing first, let's open a window," Louis said, running to his room to open the window. The air in the apartment was smoky and thick and smelled heavily of burned bacon.

"You, my friend, need more coordination in the kitchen," Louis told Harry.

"Is it safe to say that this can be thrown away?" Harry asked, getting ready to dump the remnants of the bacon into the bin.

"No!" Louis said abruptly. "I think I know what we could do with them. Put them in a baggy. They're in the top drawer. I'm going to get dressed."

Louis left Harry in the kitchen to get dressed. Louis shut the door behind him and went to his closet. He wondered what he should wear. Something that was "him" but wasn't trying too hard. He decided on a blue and white striped t-shirt with some jeans. He stripped down and pulled on his clothes. He then went to the bathroom and swooped his hair to the side like always wore it. Then he brushed his teeth. He smiled in the mirror. This will do, he decided. He exited his room and saw Harry sitting on the kitchen counter.

"Where are we going?" Harry asked. Louis shook his head.

"You'll see when we get there."

"Central Park?" Harry scoffed. "They use the term 'park' very lightly. This place is not a park. It's enormous." Louis laughed at the sight of Harry. He had one of Louis' hats on along with a huge hoodie and sweatpants that Louis had packed for the winter. Harry was trying to be on the down low because he was currently supposed to be sick and getting better. The oversized clothes along with the hat and sunglasses were supposed to be serving as a disguise.

"It's a little cool out," Louis said mischievously, faking a fit of shivers. Harry glared jokingly. Although it wasn't that hot for somebody in clothes fit for the weather, Louis imagined it was quite miserable in the getup Harry had on.

"Are we almost there, Louis?" Harry asked desperately, his breathing resembling panting. Louis kept walking down the dirt path they were on.

"It'll be worth it. I do this all the time. It's relaxing. Trust me, you'll like it," Louis promised although he was starting to doubt if he should have brought Harry here. He didn't exactly know Harry's tastes as far as good times went.

"Well, here we are," Louis said, stopping by a large rock that disappeared into a line of trees. Harry caught up and looked around for something more significant to catch his eye.

"Okay, I give up. What is it?" Harry asked. Louis started to climb the rock and beckoned Harry to follow. When they got to the top, Louis parted the leaves of the tree and revealed a small, undisturbed part of a pond. Ducks were swimming in the water below.

"Tada!" Louis said weakly, revealing the scene. Harry just stared.

"You're right. I'm sorry," Louis said quickly, "This is dumb… We can go back-"

"No, it's amazing," Harry said, taking everything in. He took out the bag of burnt bacon crisps and began to throw little bits of the bacon into the water. The ducks below started to pick at the pieces.

"How many people know about this spot?" Harry asked. Louis shrugged.

"I dunno. I've never seen anyone back here besides me. And the ducks."

"Mhm. I bet you bring all the American girls up here for some snogging," Harry teased, elbowing Louis. They laughed and continued feeding the ducks.

"Well, this was a glorious accident that would have never happened had I not burned that bacon, so I say cheers to me," Harry joked.

"Mm. Yes, thank you for burning my bacon, Harry," Louis replied sarcastically.

"Anytime, Lou."

"Lou?" Louis asked, raising an eyebrow. Harry blinked at him.

"Oh, sorry. I felt like a nickname was due. I won't call you that," offered Harry.

"No, it's fine. I just haven't been called that since I left my mum about eight months ago. It's weird hearing it," Louis explained quietly. Harry nodded knowingly.

"Do you miss home?" Harry asked. Louis kept his gaze forward.

"Yes and no. I like being on my own here but I miss my family," Louis clarified.

Louis continued, "I love my job though, and I love Rachel and I love this city."

"Uh, oh! Who's this Rachel that I'm just now hearing about?" Harry asked, shaking his eyebrows. Harry's green eyes really stood out in the sunlight, Louis noticed.

"Oh, Rachel? She was the girl on stage whenever you came into the club," Louis told him. Harry grinned.

"Is she your girlfriend?" Harry goaded. Louis laughed.

"No! She's just my friend. I tried the whole dating thing when I got here but that really didn't work out well."

"What happened?" asked Harry.

"Oh, nothing. She's just turned out being crazy and I'm too busy to deal with that kind of stuff, you know?"

"I know exactly what you mean," Harry said, throwing the last bit of bacon. He crumbled the bag and stuffed it back into his pocket, then laid down on the rock, staring up at the sky. Louis followed his example. They just sat there in the quiet for a while, soaking up the serenity.


"Mhm?" the curly headed boy replied.

"Have you been to New York before?"

"No, today is only my second day."

"Oh really?" Louis said sounding surprised.

"Do you want to see the city?" Louis asked excitedly, sitting up. Harry smiled and nodded. He hadn't felt this calm and relaxed in a while. In fact, he hadn't felt quite this happy in a while either.

Chapter 16

Harry gulped as he looked over the ledge of the Empire State Building. He felt his stomach tighten as he made out the tiny cars and people below. He felt a hand nudge his back toward the edge. Even though there was a fence there, Harry started and grabbed Louis' arm. Louis laughed.

"Knock it off. You're going to kill me," Harry told Louis. "And you don't want the death of Harry Styles on your conscious. Oh, what ever would the fans do with me?" Harry joked but he still took a few good steps away from the ledge.

"So, how's the view?" Louis asked. Harry looked out at the city in all of its marvel. The sun had just begun to fall and the sunset was breathtaking.

"Brilliant." Louis nodded his head in agreement. The two boys stared at the horizon, watching the sky burst into hues of orange and pink. The peace was interrupted by Louis' phone vibrating. Louis pulled out his phone.

"Oh, shit. It's Rachel. Work! I forgot about work!" Louis panicked. He answered the phone.

"Rachel?" Louis asked. Harry could hear a girl's voice on the other line.

"No, I'm so sorry…. I didn't even realize…. But, now that you mention, do you think I could have the night off…. Really? … Thanks, Rachel," Louis hung up the phone and Harry waited for an explanation.

"I can't believe I forgot about work," Louis said.

"You didn't have to ask off. I don't want to be any bother. I could go find a hotel or something," Harry offered. Louis shook his head.

"It's no problem. I don't think I've had a night off in ages. And I don't mind you staying at my apartment," Louis told Harry. Harry felt himself smile but the smile quickly dropped from his face.

"What day is it?" he asked. Louis thought about it for a second.

"Tuesday," Louis told him. Harry counted in his head.

"I have to be back Friday," Harry explained with a grimace. Harry did not want to go back. He wanted to stay on an extended vacation and let Louis show him all the sights of New York City. Harry sighed.

"You don't have to go back." Louis stared into Harry's eyes. Harry found it difficult to maintain eye contact. Louis' eyes were so piercing and blue that it felt like he was looking into his soul. Harry shook his head.

"Yes, I do. Management, I could care less about. But I can't disappoint my fans. It wouldn't be fair." As much as Harry didn't like what he was saying, he knew it was true.

"You're really dedicated to them, aren't you?" Louis asked. Harry nodded. His fans were what kept him going and what had gotten him started in the first place.

"I owe them everything." Louis continued to stare into Harry's eyes.

"Yes. But I think they at least owe you the right to be happy." Louis shrugged. "Come on. We've got another stop on our list."

"Are you absolutely sure about this, Lou?" Harry asked once again. Louis was doubled over from laughing so hard at a struggling Harry. "Quit laughing!" Harry ordered with little result.

Harry tried to let go of the railing once again but he immediately started to slip. Harry, in an attempt not to fall, tripped over a knot he had made with his own legs and landed on his butt. Somehow through a fit of laughter, Louis skated over to Harry's position on the ice.

"I expected more from you, Mr. Styles," Louis told him, unsuccessfully attempting to suppress another laughing fit.

"Oh, shut up. I bet you're getting a kick out of this, aren't you?" Louis nodded.

"You're actually making me tear up!" Louis exclaimed, wiping a tear from his eye. After finishing laughing, Louis offered to help Harry up. Harry slowly made his way to a vertical position on the ice.

"C'mon! You can do it," Louis encouraged. Harry tried moving a foot but he slipped and almost went tumbling back down to the floor.

"Here… take my arm," Louis told him and Harry wrapped his arm around Louis'. He felt immediately steadier than before. "Now, move your feet like this," Louis demonstrated. Harry tried but almost fell were it not for Louis' arm.

"It's probably because you're so tall and gangly," Louis joked. The comment was rewarded with an elbow to the side, which was less than appreciated.

"Don't be jealous because of my moves." Louis wiggled his way out of Harry's grip and started ice-skating backwards.

"Showoff," Harry muttered, watching Louis glide smoothly across the ice. He is rather graceful, Harry thought. Louis beamed at Harry from across the ice.

"You know, Styles," Louis told Harry, "You're not half as bad as I believed you to be." Harry raised his eyebrows.

"Well, I'm glad I'm exceeding your standards," Harry stuttered, while trying once again to navigate over the ice. Instead, he managed to bump into Louis and they both toppled to the ground. The two boys sat there on the ice, doubled over with laughter.

Harry looked at Louis and thought about how much he could bring Louis with him on his tours. Everything would be so much more entertaining, that's for sure, Harry thought. Harry realized the gaping hole that he had in his life. Sure, he traveled the world but he had no one to have fun with. He hadn't had fun in such a long time. It dawned on Harry that he was glad that he had a near mental breakdown. If he hadn't, he never would have experienced all the fun he was having now. And he did not want to think about where he would have been if he had continued on with The Sadness pushing any form of happiness away.

His eyes widening, Harry realized he had not thought of The Sadness since he ran away. He did not feel its familiar weight bearing down on his shoulders. He felt lighter.

"You okay there, Harry?" Louis asked, waving a hand in front of Harry's face. Harry snapped away from his thoughts, smiling.

"Yeah, I'm great," he replied, and for the first time in a long time, he meant it.

Chapter 17

The night the two boys got back from ice-skating in Rockefeller Plaza, they immediately made their way to the bedroom. Their muscles ached from a full day of endless activities and all they wanted to do was sleep.

"When you told me you were going to show me the whole city, you weren't kidding," Harry said from his palette on the floor. Louis chuckled from his bed.

"Styles, I've got two more days of stuff for us to do," Louis warned. "You better rest up now."

Harry was silent. Louis worried that he had been too pushy. Louis backtracked. "I mean, if you want. I understand if you want to go on your own or something. Don't feel forced to stay here. I mean, you're welcome to. I just-"

Louis stopped talking and sighed. "Sorry, I'm mumbling."

Harry laughed. "If it's alright, I think I'll stick with you. I just have to be back Friday." Harry sighed. Going back was low on his list of things he wanted to do.

Louis felt himself frowning. Although Louis was not going to say it out loud, he had really grown fond of this curly headed kid that was currently lying on his bedroom floor. Perhaps it was because he had gone so long without a friend that he could just hang out with and talk with about anything. Of course, Louis had Rachel, but they usually just talked about music and little of anything else. It was different with Harry.

"Okay. That's cool," Louis said, suppressing a grin and trying to sound nonchalant.

"Where are you taking me tomorrow?" Harry asked. Louis thought about it. There were several places that he could take him. But by the way both of their feet were aching, Louis thought he should probably not pack the day too full of anything that required a lot of walking.

"I don't know. I'll tell you when we get there," Louis replied. Harry chuckled. "Okay. That sounds good to me," Harry replied, yawning.

Louis pulled himself from his bed. He just wanted to sleep but he felt the need to shower. He had been moving all day and a nice, warm shower would be soothing.

"I'm going to take a shower," Louis told Harry, who barely nodded from his position on the floor. Louis went into the bathroom and locked the door. After taking out his contacts, he cranked the water to a warm (but not too warm) temperature and stripped down. Louis slowly entered the shower, letting the water rush over his body. The heat felt so good and relaxing. Louis started a slow but steady hum, which elevated into a full-on song after a few minutes of showering.

Louis absolutely loved to sing in the shower. It was probably one of the most relaxing things he could think of. He couldn't remember a time when he didn't sing in the shower. Louis loved how all the words echoed off the walls and how it everything sounded great because of the acoustics.

After he was done showering, Louis pulled on some athletic shorts and a t-shirt. He yawned and pushed his glasses onto his face. The world came back into focus as he brushed his teeth. After getting ready for bed, Louis opened the bathroom door and started to open his mouth to ask Harry a question when he saw that Harry was sprawled out on his bed, fast asleep. Louis crossed his arms and grinned. Louis was not sure why Harry was on his bed, but the sight of it all made him laugh. Louis grabbed a blanket and threw it over Harry's body. Harry shifted in his sleep.

Louis did not want to wake Harry so he turned off all the lights and lied down on Harry's palette. In the darkness before he drifted to sleep, he wished that he could go to bed this happy every night of his life.

Chapter 18

Harry's eyes blinked as he slowly started to wake up. Sitting himself up in the bed, he immediately felt guilty. By no means had he intentionally fallen sleep in Louis' bed on purpose. He had slipped onto the bed as a joke but it was just so comfortable that he slid into sleep before he could think otherwise.

Harry leaned over the edge of the bed to see if Louis' figure was asleep on the palette. Yet all he saw was the crumpled blanket and pillow with no body to warm them. Harry looked around the room.

"Louis?" he whispered. "Hello?" There was no answer. Harry stood from the bed, his feet making contact with the cool floor. Harry stuck his head in the bathroom. No Louis. Harry went to the kitchen. No Louis. Stumped as to where his friend could be, Harry sat down at the table. As he did, he noticed a piece of paper with a neat but indelicate scrawl. Harry read the letter that he saw was addressed to him.

Dear Harry,

I've gone out to buy some groceries. Please do not attempt to cook anything. I would love to return to my apartment building to find it not burned to the ground.



Harry grinned, folding the piece of paper into a square and stuffing it into his pocket. Maybe if he got lonely or sad during the rest of his remaining tour, he could pull the letter out and hope it would drive The Sadness away. Harry grimaced as he thought about going back. Why couldn't life be like the life he had known yesterday? Everything was so simple. He didn't have to try to please anyone.

Harry stood from the table and searched the cabinets for some cereal. He found some corn flakes and some milk and mixed the two in a bowl. Harry sat and ate his cereal. The apartment was a lot less entertaining without Louis in it. It seemed lifeless and devoid of any cheerfulness.

After he was done with his cereal, Harry went to the sink and washed his dish. He noticed the other dishes piling up in the sink and decided to help Louis out and wash those as well. With a sudden cleaning spree rising in his veins, Harry started to tidy up with whole apartment. Harry was no neat freak but he liked to keep things nice looking. Louis seemed like the type of guy that really didn't care either way.

In the middle of folding a pile of clothes, Harry heard a key jingled in the lock to the apartment and Louis entered with several bags of groceries in his hands. Setting them down on the kitchen table, Louis proceeded to look around the apartment.

"Wow. You cleaned," Louis said nodding in approval. "I don't think it's ever been this clean. Thank you. You didn't have to do that." Harry shrugged it off.

"Don't mention it." Harry started helping Louis unload the groceries into the cabinet and refrigerator. Harry grabbed a jar of mayonnaise and intensely frowned at it. Louis raised his eyebrows.

"Something wrong?" Louis asked. Harry nodded.

"I dislike mayonnaise very much," Harry told Louis, placing the jar in the fridge. Louis just laughed.

"So, where are we going today?" Harry asked, trying to get the picture of the white, mushy substance from his mind.

"Well, I have an idea, but I'm going to have to ask off from work again," Louis told him, finishing up putting all the groceries away. Louis dug his phone from his pocket.

"You don't have to ask off for me," Harry told Louis but Louis smiled. "I want to," Louis replied. Harry smiled as Louis dialed Rachel's number. He heard the phone ring a couple of time and then pick up.

"Hey, Rachel, it's Louis… Yeah…. I was gonna see if I could ask for tonight off again… Thank you so much. I owe you…. Okay, I'll see you later. Actually, can I ask you about something? … Hold on…." Louis ducked out of the kitchen and into his room, lowering his volume to a whisper. Harry couldn't make anything out but he guessed that was the goal that Louis was going for or else he would've just finished the conversation in front of him. But still, Harry wondered what the boy was whispering about in the other room.

When Louis came out of the room, he was beaming from ear to ear. "What are you smiling about?" Harry asked cautiously. The look on Louis' face reminded him more of a mischievous cat circling a wounded bird. Louis looked like he wanted to tell him but he wasn't going to.

"You'll see tonight!" was Louis' reply. Harry simultaneously loved and hated surprises. He hated how he did not know what was coming but it was also fun no knowing. The suspense would kill him if he didn't find things to occupy his time.

"Hey, how's your arm?" Louis asked, making his way over to Harry. He gently picked up Harry's arm and began to take the bandage off. Harry had actually quite forgotten about the burn or the bandage. Removing the bandage revealed that the skin had started to peel a little bit. But it did not hurt so it was healed as far as Harry was concerned.

"It's fine. Thank you, Dr. Louis." Louis laughed at the title.

"Oh, hey. Can I shower now?" Harry asked, remembering his lack of showering over the past two days. Louis nodded.

"Sure. There are towels below the sink," Louis told him. Harry nodded then thought about his clothes.

"I'm sorry. Can I borrow some clothes?" Harry asked hesitantly. He hated being such a burden on Louis.

"Of course you can. Just pick something out from my closet," Louis told him. "I'm going to go pick up some things for tonight's mystery, so just make your self at home. I'll be right back!" Louis started to make his way out the door when he turned back to Harry and added, "Don't burn anything while I'm gone."

Harry laughed and went to Louis' bathroom. Stripping down, he turned on the shower. The water was not near hot enough so he blasted the hot water as high as it could go. The steam started to rise as Harry entered the shower. The water poured over his skin and his muscles relaxed. His burned hand stung a bit at first but he eased it under the water and the pain subsided.

Harry looked around at the contents of the shower. There was some shampoo, conditioner, a bar of soap, a hand mirror, a razor, some shaving cream, and a washcloth. Harry looked in the mirror and disputed over whether he should shave or not. In all actuality, he did not have much to shave. He had fine stubble that was appearing on his chin but besides that, his face was smooth except for the occasional blemish. He decided against it and moved on to shampooing his hair.

Now that his hair was wet, it clung to his head and Harry had to constantly keep sweeping it out of his face. He grabbed the shampoo and started to wash his hair. It was a long ordeal with so much hair but was the image the fans wanted to see. He finished washing his hair and slicked it back across his head. He enjoyed making shapes with his hair whenever time allowed. He created a big Mohawk that eventually flipped over onto his face.

When Harry was done showering, he dried off and went to Louis' closet to have a look at what he would wear. He took his time inspecting Louis' clothes. Harry enjoyed getting an insight into Louis' world. He had a lot of blues and reds. Were those Louis' favorite colors? He saw a hook that contained several suspenders of different colors. Harry enjoyed that Louis expressed himself so freely with his clothing. It was refreshing. Harry decided upon a rather large, off-white sweater. He pulled it on over his head and put his old jeans on. He was taller than Louis and he doubted that any of Louis' jeans would fit him. Harry dried his hair and made himself look presentable in the mirror. He heard the keys in the lock once again and he ran to the living room.

Louis entered and, with one look at Harry, burst into laughter. "What is it?" Harry asked. He wondered if something was on his face.

"Why are you wearing that sweater?" Louis asked through laughter. Harry frowned.

"It's comfy. I don't see why you are laughing. It was in your closet," Harry remarked.

"Fair enough," Louis said. "It was my moms. I brought it here to remember her by if I was to miss her." Immediately, Harry felt guilty.

"Oh, I'm so sorry. I can take it off…" Harry offered but Louis stopped him.

"No, it looks good on you." Louis smiled. "Are you ready for tonight?" he asked. Harry nodded.

"Good, you should be. It's going to be great."

The cab stopped on the side of the road and the cab driver informed the two boys that they had reached their destination. Harry offered to pay the driver but Louis refused. "It's my treat," he said. Harry thought this was unfair because the past few days had been Louis' treat. Harry felt bad, especially because he had a credit card with loads of money on it. He even told Louis this but Louis refused.

"I like spending my money," Louis told him. Harry sighed and decided he would get Louis some kind of present in return for his generosity.

Louis handed Harry a pair of sunglasses and a beanie. "It's nighttime?" Harry commented, confused.

"We're going somewhere kind of mainstream so you should probably disguise yourself a little bit," Louis told him. Harry put on the "disguise" and stepped out of the cab. He gasped as he saw Time Square. He had not realized they had driven so far into the city. Louis put his hand on Harry's shoulder.

"It's great, isn't it?" Louis asked. Harry nodded, at a loss for words. The whole square was lit up with bright lights and glowing signs. The sea of people was constantly moving and the sounds of the city resounded from all around. Harry was in amazement. It was so beautiful.

Louis checked his watch and cursed under his breath. He grabbed Harry's hand and tugged him along. The contact shocked Harry but he didn't shy away.

"C'mon! We're gonna be late!" Louis said and the two boys ran.

"I don't even know where we're going!" Harry yelled in front of him. Louis was slyly navigating his way through the people and the only thing not separating them was the embrace their hands' were in.

"Trust me!" Louis shouted behind him. "I do!" was Harry's reply and he meant it.

Eventually, Louis led him to a building that large amount of people were shuffling into. Louis released Harry's hand to dig in his pocket. He pulled out two tickets.

"What's that?" Harry asked, his curiosity getting the better of him.

"They're tickets," Louis replied, handing the tickets to a man in a uniform. He scanned them with a device and handed them back. They two boys shuffled into the theatre.

"You got me tickets to see a show?" Harry asked. Louis nodded, his face cautiously trying to gauge Harry's reaction. Harry just sat there, dumbfounded at Louis' generosity. He was overwhelmed. He didn't know what to do.

Quickly, he wrapped Louis in a big hug. For a second, he was worried it would be awkward. But Louis returned the hug. "Oh, now you're being all mushy. Get off me," Louis joked and led Harry to their seats.

"Thank you, Louis. Thank you so much. I… I can't properly describe how happy I am." Harry stumbled around his words, trying to make himself sound less awkward than he felt. Louis shrugged and gave Harry a wink.

"It's my pleasure," Louis responded. Harry just stared at the boy sitting in the seat beside him. He felt something tug at his stomach but before he could wonder why, the show started. As Harry slowly started to turn his focus towards the show, he smiled and thought about how lucky he was to have re-met Louis Tomlinson.

Chapter 19

"Thank you so much," Harry repeated for at least the seventh time. Louis grinned. He was glad Harry had enjoyed Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark so much. At first, he had worried that Harry was not the Broadway type. Yet, Harry had immensely enjoyed the show.

The two boys had decided to walk back to Louis' apartment. It was a long way but it felt like they never ran out of things to discuss. The walk just gave them more time to talk.

"It's my pleasure, Harry," Louis assured the curly headed boy. Louis thought back to the awe-struck face as Spiderman had swung through the air. He made a mental note to thank Rachel for the discount on the seats. Since she was a student at NYU, she got a great discount. Louis probably would not have been able to afford the amazing seats otherwise.

"I could see you on Broadway," Harry told Louis. Louis raised his eyes brows in genuine surprise. "Me?" Louis asked. Harry nodded.

"You'd be great. You're so personable and loud and talented."

"Oh, stop, you're making me blush," Louis joked. Although he was joking, Louis felt unfamiliar warmth spread through his cheeks. Please do not by blushing, Tomlinson, he told himself. He was glad it was dark out or else he felt like his red cheeks would be a glowing indicator.

"I'm being serious, Lou. You'd be fantastic. You should try." Louis thought about himself on a Broadway stage. He certainly would enjoy show business. He remembered his experience with Grease. He did have a lot of fun.

The two boys continued talking about Broadway and New York and the fun they had been having. "One more day…" Louis reminded both himself and Harry. They sighed simultaneously. Harry wrapped his arm around Louis' shoulder and Louis did the same.

"It's not fair. I feel like I'm about to lose my best mate," Louis told Harry solemnly. His stomach felt like it was sinking within him. Louis had just begun to really get to know Harry. It wasn't fair that he was going to get snatched away as fast as he had entered Louis' life.

"Me too," Harry agreed. They walked silently for a few moments.

"Are you going to come to my concert on Friday?" Harry asked suddenly. Louis didn't know what to say.

"Of course I would like to, but I didn't get any tickets. You've got to remember that I didn't like you a few days ago," Louis reminded him. Harry laughed.

"I can get you tickets. Just be there. In the front row," Harry requested. Louis shrugged. "As long as I get to be a VIP, I'm in," Louis told him.

"Do you work tomorrow?" Harry inquired. "I was gonna see if I could get out of it…" Louis started but was cut off by Harry.

"No! I want to hear you sing again," Harry put bluntly. Louis tried suppressing a grin. He managed a quick nod and replied with a simple "Okay." The word felt weak and too tiny for the feelings that Louis was experiencing. But there was not a word he could think of that could properly express the way he felt.

When the boys got home, they sat at the kitchen table and played a rather rambunctious game of 20 questions.

"What's the worst thing you've ever done?" Harry asked. Louis grinned mischievously. "I pulled a moony in front of my class…"

Harry burst into a fit of laughter. "No!"

"Yup. I got suspended… Quit laughing! It was traumatizing for everyone!" Harry did not stop laughing despite Louis' commands. Louis whacked Harry in the arm.

"Okay, Styles. What's the worst thing you've done?" Harry thought about it for a minute.

"Um… well, this one time I ran through this train station in just my underwear." Louis' eyes widened as he imagined the sight and he burst out into a fit of laughter. Harry joined in. Louis stopped suddenly and grinned wickedly.

"Harry Styles. I dare you to go to that fridge and take out the mayonnaise and eat a big handful," Louis dared Harry. Harry feigned gagging. "No," Harry refused, shaking his head.

"I do not remember this turning into a game of truth or dare," Harry said, his nose in the air.

"Chicken!" Louis taunted. Harry stood abruptly and went to the fridge.

"Louis, don't make me do this," Harry begged. Louis cat-like grin only spread further across his face.

"Do it."

Harry opened the fridge and grabbed the jar of mayonnaise. The off-white substance jiggled within the jar, making the tiny hairs on the back of Harry's neck stand on end. He slowly opened the jar and dipped his finger inside the mayo. He pulled it out, his finger covered in a layer of goop.

"That doesn't look like a handful," Louis commented and Harry shot him a glare. "It's as close as I am going to get," Harry told him and walked to the table. Harry raised his finger to his mouth and was about to stick it in when he took his finger and swiped it across Louis' face. Louis's mouth gaped with shock for only a moment.

"I'm gonna get you, Styles," Louis warned and was up from his chair in a quick flash. He chased Harry across the apartment, Harry was nearly screaming at the top of his lungs, his curls flailing behind him as he ran. Louis was shouting, "Come here!"

There was a knock on the front door and both boys fell still and silent. Harry looked at Louis with wide eyes. Louis stood and regained his composure. He went to the door and cracked it open and was face to face with Rachel.

"Hi! I brought you your check because I thought you might- …is that mayonnaise on your face?" she asked suddenly, her face growing confused. Louis did not know what to do.

"Um… yes. Come in," he said, doing his best to smile at Rachel. She entered the room and saw Harry crouching on the floor, his eyes wide. Her face grew from confused to extremely confused.

"Louis?" she asked. Louis turned to her, trying to look as innocent as possible.

"Yeah?" he asked.

"Is Harry Styles in your apartment?"

It was at that moment that both boys broke into a fit of laughter that seemed unending. At first, Rachel only seemed confused but then she started to laugh too. Soon, it was the three of them laughing like crazy people.

"Harry, this is Rachel. Rachel, this is Harry," Louis introduced the two. They shook hands. Rachel turned to Louis.

"You have a lot of explaining to do, but I have to get back to the club… It was nice meeting you, Harry. Louis, here is your paycheck." Rachel handed him the paycheck and made her way to door.

"Lovely meeting you, Rachel," Harry shouted after her. Rachel let out a little giggle as she exited the apartment.

"Thanks, Rachel," Louis said as he shut the door. As he was shutting it, he heard her whisper "Why do you have Harry Styles in your apartment?" but before he could answer, the door was closed. He heard her let out a little squeal outside his door.

"Well, that was a bit awkward," Harry commented. Louis nodded but held up the paycheck. "At least I got paid."

That night, Louis slept in his own bed and Harry slept on the floor. They were exhausted from their walk back from Time Square. Harry was the first to fall asleep. As Louis slowly drifted to sleep, he heard Harry mutter something.

"What was that?" Louis whispered. Harry tossed on his makeshift bed and mumbled something again.

"What?" Louis asked, a little bit louder this time.

"You've got nice eyes," Harry finally managed to say coherently. Louis looked at Harry, who appeared to be fast asleep.

"Are you talking in your sleep, Harry?"

"No… I won't eat the mayonnaise."

Louis laughed as he listened to Harry's mumbling. As Louis fell asleep, he thought he remembered hearing Harry say his name but he couldn't sure.

Chapter 20

Harry had spent all day with Louis at Le Chant Sirène helping him get ready for work. They had gotten there around noon and had been playing music non-stop. Harry found that he loved singing with Louis. He felt that their voices complimented each other. That they fit, like a puzzle piece.

Louis had offered Harry the opportunity to sing with him that night but, to Harry's dismay, he had to refuse. He couldn't get caught and he thought singing for the public was practically begging for trouble.

But Harry was content to just sit back and listen to Louis. He simply adored Louis' voice. It was higher pitched and raspy and that made everything so emotional and real for Harry.

When the people started piling in, the lights were dimmed. Harry chose the same seat as last time. He sat in the back of the club, the shadows cast over his face. Louis was now changed into a rather dashing white button down with a black skinny tie. Louis would keep passing Harry's table and flashing him little winks or eyebrow raises as he brought drinks to the customers at the other tables. It made Harry grin and he felt like an idiot but he found he did not care.

On the stage was Kimmy. She had been flitting around the restaurant while Louis had practiced that day with her red hair flailing behind her. She has an okay voice, Harry thought. He just mainly wanted to see Louis perform.

Every now and then, Louis would pass Harry's table and drop off a cup of a different drink. The first time, Harry picked it up and expected it to be water but was quickly shocked when he found the liquid burned his throat and warmed his belly. Harry coughed. He gave Louis a look from across the club, raised the glass, and poured it down his throat. Louis looked impressed. After a few drinks, the world started to get lighter and Harry was feeling good.

"You okay there, Hazza?" Louis asked, a mischievous grin playing at the corners of his mouth. "Peachy," Harry replied slowly. He knew that Louis was playing with him but he was determined to win whatever game this was. Louis dropped off another drink and when Louis turned, Harry dumped it into a nearby plant.

Finally, after what seemed like ages, it was Louis' turn to sing. Louis was being featured as the main act so he had the biggest set list. As soon as Louis started, the hair on Harry's arms stood on end. He didn't know if it was the alcohol or if Louis was just doing a really great job, but Louis sounded angelic on the stage. Every song that Louis sang, Harry would hang onto every note.

"Alright, ladies and gentlemen. It's about closing time." Louis said over the mic after he finished up a song. "This will by my final number for the night. Here is 'Sweet Disposition' by The Temper Trap."

The piano started and Louis sang.

Sweet disposition

Never too soon

Oh, reckless abandon

Like no one's watching you

A moment of love

A dream

A laugh

A kiss

A cry

Our rights

Our wrongs

A moment of love

A dream

A laugh

A moment of love

A dream

A laugh

So stay there

'Cause I'll be coming over

While our blood's still young

It's so young, it runs

We won't stop 'til it's over

Won't stop to surrender

Songs of desperation

I played them for you

A moment of love

A dream

A laugh

A kiss

A cry

Our rights

Our wrongs

A moment of love

A dream

A laugh

A moment of love

A dream

A laugh

Stay there

'Cause I'll be coming over

While our blood's still young

It's so young, it runs

We won't stop 'til it's over

Won't stop to surrender

Won't stop 'til it's over

Won't stop 'til it's over

Won't stop 'til it's over

Won't stop to surrender

The song ended and Harry felt himself stand and start clapping. Louis had sung the song so perfectly and amazing that he couldn't help himself. A few heads turned to stare at Harry but he didn't care. Slowly, everyone started to join Harry in the clapping and standing ovation. Louis beamed at Harry from across the club.

As the clapping slowly came to an end and Louis disappeared from the stage, Harry could still not get the tune from his head. He didn't think he had ever connected to a song so strongly.

"Wait outside. I don't want anyone else to see you," Louis' voice said behind Harry's ear. Harry jumped with surprise and watched Louis' laughing figure disappear inside the kitchen. His heart was thumping inside his chest.

Harry made his way outside and waited a little bit down the street. People exited the club, one by one. Finally, he saw Louis exit the building. He ran out to him and wrapped in a hug.

"That was beautiful, Lou," Harry slurred, still holding Louis in the tight embrace. Louis laughed into Harry's shoulder. "Harry… Are you drunk?" Louis asked, laughter bubbling up inside of him. Harry shook his head unconvincingly.

"Alright, let's get you home," Louis said, wriggling his way out of Harry's hug. He slung on of Harry's arms around him and he guided the drunken boy to his apartment.

"You really did great, Louis. You sang beautiful," Harry said, trying his best to sound serious. Louis grinned at him as he unlocked the door and led Harry inside. "Thank you," Louis replied. Harry stumbled inside the kitchen.

"Are you hungry?" Louis asked. Harry shook his head and staggered into Louis' bedroom and, with a thump, dropped onto Louis' bed. Louis stood over him, feigning disapproval. Harry looked up at him innocently. Louis tried to scoot him off of the bed by pushing on his side by Harry quickly jerked away with a high-pitched yelp. Louis raised his eyes in surprise at the noise and then grinned mischievously.

"What?" Harry asked, slightly apprehensive.

"Harry Styles, are you ticklish?"

Oh no. Harry could see where this was going. He tried backpedaling. "No!" Harry quickly shouted but it was too late. The damage had been done.

Almost immediately, Louis was on top of Harry without a single word. Harry did his best to get away but Louis was deceivingly strong despite his smaller frame. "PLEASE," Harry begged but Louis was relentless. Louis tickled Harry like he had never tickled before in his life. Harry squealed and protested but it only gave Louis more drive.

"I'm going to throw up!" Harry warned, desperate for some excuse that would get Louis to stop tickling him. But Louis continued until his fingers could tickle no more. Louis rolled off of Harry onto his back. He was breathing heavy.

"I'm sorry. It had to be done," Louis explained. Harry was curled into a ball. He didn't think he would ever recover from the tickle session that had just ensued.

"I would say I hate you but it would be a lie," Harry mutter quietly in between small, hysterical laughs. Louis smiled, his breathing slowly returning to normal. Louis flipped onto to his side and stared at Harry with blue, unwavering gaze. Harry's eyes were half closed but the parts of the green orbs that would be seen twinkled under the light of the room.

"Your eyes are green," Louis commented. He didn't know why he said it. It had just come out. Harry looked at Louis and the light in Harry's eyes danced. "You sang beautifully tonight," Harry said once more and drifted off into the most peaceful sleep he had ever experienced in his life.

When Harry awoke, it was early morning outside. He could feel the sunlight beaming through the curtains. He felt an odd sense of warmth coming from his side. He cracked his eyes open and was staring into a tuft of straight, light brown hair. He swept the hair out of his face and saw Louis' face asleep on his chest. Harry smiled at the sight. He looked relaxed and a small smile tugged at his lips.

Carefully, Harry got out of bed. Louis turned onto his stomach. They were both dressed in the same clothes they had worn last night and Harry's head throbbed slightly. I must have fallen asleep, Harry thought. Harry went to the kitchen and checked his cell phone. He had several missed calls from Paul. He groaned as he realized what day it was.

Harry dialed Paul's number. It answered after the first ring.

"Harry?" Paul asked. "Yeah, it's me," Harry confirmed.

"What hotel are you at?" Paul asked.

"Um… I'm not at a hotel. I'll send you the address," Harry told him quickly, not giving him time to ask questions. Harry was about to hang up when he remembered.

"Oh, Paul! Could you bring a ticket to tonight's concert? A good one. Like, front row and center." Paul paused. "Sure…" he said. "We'll be there in fifteen minutes. Be ready." There was a click and Paul was gone. Harry sent him the address. Trying to be silent, Harry peaked his head inside of Louis' room. Louis was still fast asleep. Louis looked so innocent and young lying there in the bed. Harry didn't want to forget the face so he took out his phone, snapping a picture of the sleeping boy.

With a sigh, he stuffed his phone into his pocket and took a final look around the apartment. I'm gonna miss this place, Harry thought. He took a piece of a paper and scribbled a note onto it. When he was finished, he placed it on the kitchen table.

Harry went downstairs and waited for Paul. When he pulled up in a black car, Harry grabbed the ticket from him and ran back upstairs. He laid the ticket with the letter and took one final look into Louis' room at the sleeping boy. Harry already missed Louis and the life he had lived for the past few days and he wasn't even gone yet.

He turned and walked out the apartment for most likely the last time. Harry felt his throat tighten as he closed the door behind him. He was reluctant to go but his life was not his own and he had a schedule to keep.

Chapter 21

Louis' eyelids fluttered open as he awoke. The side of the bed where Harry had been was empty. The covers were tucked under Louis, signifying that Harry had made sure Louis was comfortable before he left. Louis sighed. He felt like he should be freaked out a bit that he had slept in the same bed with another man. He reminded himself that it was Harry and not some random stranger. They were friends. Louis would even venture as far to call Harry his best friend but he wasn't sure if it was just the lack of exposure to his friends back home that left Louis so quick to label Harry as his best friend. Either way, Louis didn't care. He was happy with the way things had been.

Louis propped himself up and looked around the room. Harry was not to be found. Groggily, Louis stood and searched for the curly headed boy.

"Harry?" Louis called but there was no answer. He felt a bit perturbed of the lack of noise in the apartment. Without Harry, it was just the simple place it was before. Louis went into the kitchen and saw the note on the table along with a ticket. Louis picked up the ticket and read the information.

Harry Styles

Beacon Stage 10:00 PM

2124 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

Admits One

VIP- R1 S15

Louis nodded in approval at the great ticket Harry had gotten him. He felt a growing excitement turn in his stomach. Louis sat at the table and read the letter.


Please come tonight. I would love you to be there. Don't expect anything amazing like what you did last night but it would be great to see your face in the crowd. I'm really going to miss this.

-Harry XOXO

P. S. I was going to make breakfast but I couldn't find the fire extinguisher. Sorry.

A sense of gloom hit him like a crashing wave as he realized Harry had left the apartment for good. Louis bit the inside of his cheeks. Maybe this was better. He hated formal goodbyes. Plus, Harry couldn't have stayed forever. He had known this. Louis felt like he was a little child who had taken in some stray dog that the owners had come to take back. Can't I keep him? Louis imagined asking Harry's manager. The whole thought made Louis laugh but the laugh didn't find its way out of Louis' mouth. It stayed in his head, where it eventually dissipated into a dreary afterthought.

Louis would've felt completely bummed if had not been for the fact that he was very much looking forward to the concert that night. He checked the clock. It was noon. From then until the concert seemed like an eternity for Louis. But it was well worth the wait.

Chapter 22

"How do you explain these?" Mr. Barker growled, throwing a stack of magazines onto the table separating himself and Harry. Harry didn't know what they were bu,t by the hue of Mr. Barker's face, he was sure it was not good. Harry picked up the magazines and sifted through them.

Harry Styles and Mystery Boy? Turn to page 7 to find what Harry Styles is hiding!

Britain's Harry Styles Finds American Love- learn Style's secret! (pg. 18)

What has Harry been hiding? Read all about it, pg. 20.

On the front of the magazines were pictures of Harry and Louis all around New York. There were ones of them at the Empire State building, the ice-skating rink, central park, and Time Square. Harry laughed and threw them back on the table.

"They've got it all wrong," Harry told Mr. Barker. The scowl on Barker's face grew deeper. Mr. Barker was one of Harry's managers. After Harry disappearance, Mr. Barker had been sent from London to personally see to the problem. Although he had been sent to just make sure everything ran smoothly, he was soon busy in a whirlwind of media frenzy trying to control rumors started about Harry's unorthodox relationship.

"Louis is my friend. I met him on X-Factor. He's not my boyfriend," Harry laughed at the idea. Mr. Barker was not amused.

"Harry," Mr. Barker said slowly and coolly, "I do not care if you sleep with every American girl you can lay your hands on or if you're gayer than Boy George. As an asset to Syco, you must maintain a certain image. If you are not who the fans want you to be, then you will drop so low on the charts that you won't be able to pick up a gig for a school dance. Do you understand me? You signed a contract." Barker was particularly ugly with his beat red face and ginger hair that was peppered with a light gray around his bald spot. His gigantic, hook-nose was all that Harry could focus on. Harry was not interested in what this devil had to say. It was bad enough that he had signed off his soul to the demon. He didn't want to have to put up with him anymore.

"Do you understand me, boy?" Barker shouted, thumping his huge sausage fingers curled up into a first on the table. Harry rolled his eyes. "Sure," was all he could manage without losing his temper.

"We're going to have a press release tomorrow. He is just an old friend. Is that clear?" Barker asked. Harry shrugged.

"That is exactly what he is," Harry said simply for it was the truth. Harry stood and left the room, making sure to slam the door behind him. Harry couldn't believe the tabloids had twisted his and Louis' friendship into some forbidden love story. It was things like this that led Harry to believe that fame was over-rated. He wished he could just perform and never have to deal with the world silently waiting for its chance to find something wrong with him. Not that being gay is wrong. I'm just… not, Harry thought to himself.

"You've got a mic check in an hour, Mr. Styles," somebody told him. Harry smiled and nodded. "Okay, thanks," Harry replied. He felt exhausted and he was still not over the hangover he had from last night. He went to his dressing room to lie down but Paul was waiting inside. He looked like he had something on his mind.

"Hey," Harry said, surprised.

"So… that ticket I got you… It was for that boy wasn't it?" Paul asked. Harry sighed and looked into Paul's eyes.

"It's not like that, Paul. Louis is just a friend," Harry reassured him. Paul shrugged.

"I'm not here to pass judgment, Harry. I'm here to keep you safe. I came to tell you that Barker is going to have a fit when he shows up tonight front and center."

"Good. Maybe he'll have a coronary," Harry said. He thought that perhaps that was a bit too vicious but he was still extremely angry with Barker for trying to control his life. Paul shrugged

"Anything to piss Barker off," Paul said and then started to leave.

"Paul," Harry's voice said. Paul turned back to him in the doorway.

"Thank you for this week," Harry said sincerely. Paul nodded and left the room. Harry stared at the mirror. Despite just being yelled at by Barker, the image he saw reflected in the mirror was one of the happiest Harry Styles he had ever seen in his life.

Chapter 23

Louis nudged his way to his seat. The theatre was immensely crowded and it was hard to find his seat. When he eventually found it, he realized how close he was to the stage. When Harry came out, Louis would definitely be able to get a high five. Louis looked around him and saw that a vast majority of the audience were teenage girls. He felt a bit out of place but nothing was going to ruin this night.

He sat down and waited for the concert to start, picking on the buttons of the blue button down he had worn. The seats to his left and right quickly filled up with teenage girls. None of them paid any attention to Louis. They were here for Harry Styles.

Eventually, the band came out and started an intro. The lights in the audience dimmed. The band was turned up loud. The bass dug deep within Louis' body and the drums echoes inside his head. From the center of the stage, a trap door opened and Harry was raised to the stage level.

He wore a simple white v-neck with a navy blue jacket. Louis wondered how much of that was Harry and how much was his designers and fashion consultants. The audience came to life quickly and were screaming, the sound similar to a siren. Clapping was billowing in from all sides of Louis. Louis grinned as he saw Harry sweep his hair out of his face the way he did many time in the few previous days.

"Hello, New York City!" Harry shouted and the crowd replied with a sequence of screams. Harry smiled absentmindedly. He seemed to be scanning the crowd. Is he looking for me? Louis wondered. Louis' question was answered when Harry made eye contact with Louis and beamed widely.

"Hi," Harry mouthed discreetly.

"Hey," Louis mouthed back. Harry grinned and winked subtly. Now satisfied that he knew where Louis was, Harry started on his first song. It was one of the songs that Louis had heard one or twice whenever they turned on the radio in the kitchen at Le Chant Sirène. It wasn't extremely familiar but Louis liked it anyway. On the radio, Harry's voice sounded very boy-bandish. But live, it had a rugged and raspy quality that Louis enjoyed greatly. The girls all around him seemed to love it and showed their enthusiasm by screaming at the top of their lungs.

Louis caught himself staring at Harry's neck multiple times. Harry had a way of singing that he would slightly tilt his head upward and the veins in his neck would stick out. Louis found this amusing. He watched Harry's mouth form the words to the song. He sure does have interesting lips, Louis thought. He had not gotten a chance to ever fully look at Harry from head to toe. Now that he did, Louis surmised that Harry was actually a very attractive lad. He hadn't really noticed before.

After the first few songs, Harry took a swig from a water bottle and then started toward the edge of the stage. "I would just like to give a shout out to Louis Tomlinson, my best mate, here in the audience tonight!" Harry pointed and Louis' eyes widened as he felt a thousand eyes turn their gaze toward him. Louis waved anxiously at everyone. There were lots of whispering and Louis felt something in the air for a minute. But soon, the attention turned back towards Harry as he started another song.

Louis closed his eyes and in the darkness he felt the music inside his bones and in the far recesses of his mind. He heard Harry's voice enter his ears and tumble around inside his mind. Harry had a great voice. Before he had met Harry, Louis had thought that he was just some image with no real soul or body to him. Yet, sitting in the audience, Louis could hear what he had not heard before. Louis felt an enveloping sense of euphoria. He wanted this moment to last forever. He didn't care that he had not moved on in X-Factor or that Harry had won because Louis had lost. He didn't care that he felt lonely sometimes in New York without his family. He didn't care that he was alone. All that mattered was what was happening at the moment. The music that filled Louis' mind was all the mattered. All that matter was Harry and the friendship and happiness that the name entailed. Louis had never felt quite so free.

"Alright, New York. Sadly, this is going to be our last song. We're going to play a song that hasn't been released yet. It's not done but we thought we would share with you what we had. Are you ready?" Harry asked the audience. Of course he was talking to the audience but it seemed to Louis that Harry was making a lot of eye contact with him. His green eyes shined brightly from the stage. Louis smiled at Harry and nodded his head in response to Harry's question.

"Here goes," Harry said and he nodded his head at the guitarist. The guitarist started to pick and the rest of the instruments began their movements. Harry sang.

You shot me out of the sky

You're my kryptonite

You keep making me weak

Yeah, frozen and can't speak.

Something's gotta give now

'Cause I'm dying just to make you see

That I need you here with me now

'Cause you've got that one thing

So get out, get out, get out of my head

And fall into my arms instead

I don't, I don't, don't know what it is

But I need that one thing

And you've got that one thing

Yeah, you've got that one thing

So just kiss me.

The song ended and Louis clapped. He had loved the song and it seemed the whole audience had as well although Louis felt a little bit sad at how short it was. He wondered if Harry had written it or at least helped write it.

"It's not quite done yet but there it is," Harry told everyone. The audience cheered. Louis thought that if Harry just sat there on a stool and picked his nose, the crowd would still cheer. But Harry had done a wonderful job so Louis cheered along with the crowd.

"Alright! Thank you for being a great audience! Goodnight, New York!" Harry shouted. He ran to all the sides of the stage and took his bows. He stopped to take a bow in front of Louis' seat and Louis saw a folded up note fall from Harry's hands and tumble to the floor in front of him. At first, Louis thought he had accidentally dropped it but Harry gave Louis a mischievous grin and finished his bows. Louis bent down in the midst of the roaring crowd and picked up the letter. He unfolded it and read the line of scribble that had been hastily written on the piece of paper.

Midnight. Back door (not the one on the north side)

Louis had expected something longer and funnier. This seemed urgent and unlike Harry. Louis felt his forehead crease as he felt the sense of euphoria slip away to be replaced with worry. Louis hoped every thing was okay.

Louis waited outside the theatre. The concert had ended around 10:45 and the crowd of people was still pouring out of the doors. The air was a bit chilly and Louis was glad he had brought his coat. He wrapped it around himself as he searched for the door. He passed by a door on the north side that he guessed everybody else thought was the stage door. There was a massive crowd hovering around it. It had opened several times and the crowd had all stopped breathing for a second but it was always some tech guy loading stuff onto a truck and the tour bus. But still, they did not budge from their spots. Somewhat deterred by their determination, Louis went around back. He didn't see any door besides one but it had a big set of bars in front of it that were welded to the building. Louis checked his watch. It was almost midnight. He felt his heart racing. Why am I so nervous? Louis wondered as he waited. He was not normally this imapatient.

When the door opened, Louis let out a sigh of relief. He saw Harry and smiled. Harry looked at the bars that prevented him from going outside.

"What is this?" Harry asked, frowning intensely at the bars. Louis shrugged.

"I dunno," Louis said quickly, shrugging it off. "Harry, you did great tonight," Louis told him through the bars. Harry smiled. "You really thought so?" he asked. Louis nodded.

"Thanks for the ticket. It's nice to have connections." They laughed. When it was quiet again, there was a moment of silence.

"So… I guess this is goodbye," Louis said quietly. He was not ready for this week to end. Harry's face fell. "Yeah, I guess so," Harry replied.

"Thank you for everything, Louis."

"Thank you, Hazza." They both laughed at the ridiculous nickname. Suddenly, it hit him. He was going to miss this curly headed kid so much. Louis felt his throat tighten. He grabbed Harry through the bars and embraced him in a tight hug. He buried his face in the kid's neck through a space in the bars. Harry returned the hug just as passionately. They both sat there for a minute.

"I'm really going to miss this," Harry whispered. Louis nodded. He was in no way prepared to say anything. He could tell his voice would crack and he didn't want to embarrass himself anymore.

"How touching," a cool voice said from behind Harry. Louis had not heard the man come up behind him. He was dressed in a business suit and was glaring (rather red in the face, Louis noticed). Beside the man was another rather large and strongly built man. Harry's eyes widened as he spun around. The two boys released each other.

"Mr. Barker…" Harry stuttered.

"Paul," the man signaled for the hulking man to get Harry. Harry tightened his grip around the bars.

"Sorry, Harry," Paul said sincerely as he picked Harry up over his shoulder. Harry wriggled, trying to get out of the man's grip but he couldn't. The man that Harry had called Barker moved towards the bars as the thrashing Harry disappeared.

"You are not to talk to Harry anymore. Is that understood?" the red-faced man ordered Louis. At that point, Louis was so confused and frustrated that he let his temper get the best of him.

"Piss off," Louis shouted as Barker closed the door. Louis started to run to the north side. If they were going to come out of anywhere, it would be there. As he ran, he felt panic rise within him. What was going on? Why wasn't he allowed to talk to Harry again?

As he ran up to the crowd of girls gathering around the stage door, he managed to make out Harry being subtly pushed along by Paul towards the tour bus. They were surrounded from both sides by screaming fan girls. Mr. Barker followed suit behind them.

"Harry!" Louis shouted, trying to push his way through the crowd. Harry seemed to hear him because he was suddenly looking all around for the source of the voice. "Louis?" Harry shouted, looking for Louis' face. When he finally found it, he tried to push out of Paul's grip but Paul held on steadfast. Harry tried shouting something but Louis didn't hear it. Mr. Barker was scowling heavily in Louis' direction. Barker got in a black car behind the tour bus, slamming the door shut.

Harry was loaded onto the tour bus and Louis felt a heavy wave of defeat push down on his being.

"Louis!" he heard Harry' voice shout. Louis looked up and saw Harry leaning out of one of the tour bus windows.

"What's your phone number?" Harry asked. The fans were all going crazy now. They were snapping pictures here and there and there was noise from all around. Louis shouted his number.

"What?" Harry asked, desperately trying to hear the numbers Louis was shouting. Louis repeated them but the tour bus had started to drive away. All Louis saw was Harry's curly hair disappearing down the street.

Harry Styles was gone.

Chapter 24

"Do you know what you're little stunt is costing us in damage control?" Mr. Barker snapped at Harry, a particularly large vein throbbing visibly on his forehead. Harry stared straight ahead, not bothering to reply. The further he got from Louis, the more despondent Harry became. He felt like he was leaving any chances of happiness far behind him. He could feel The Sadness lurking behind his back, waiting to grab a hold of Harry and drag him back down to the depression he had been in before he had re-met Louis.

"Are you listening, boy?" Barker shouted into Harry's ear. Harry did not flinch but he could feel his temper rising within in. Usually, Harry was a very fun-loving guy. But he had a very thin layer of calmness that could be broken at a moments notice if anything flustered him. And at the moment, this layer was particularly fragile. Harry felt a crack within him ready to burst at a moments notice. Harry usually didn't like himself when he lost his cool but he liked Barker a lot less.

"You are going to listen to me from now on, do you understand? When I say jump, you will jump. When I say crawl, you will crawl. When I say beg, you will beg. I control your career, Styles." Barker was in Harry's face now. Paul shifted uncomfortably in the corner of the room. He could see Harry quickly losing patients.

"Maybe we should just let Harry sleep. He hasn't slept since last night. I think everything will be fine, Mr. Barker. Harry will listen to you. Won't you, Harry?" Paul asked, giving Harry a look. Harry nodded weakly for Paul's sake. Mr. Barker just scoffed and left the room with a slammed door.

"Get some sleep, Harry," Paul told the boy but he didn't move.

"You remember that address I sent you?" Harry asked, his voice quiet. Paul narrowed his eyes but nodded.

"I'm going to need you to send something for me." Paul sighed.

"What?" he asked, not sure if he wanted to hear the answer. Harry took a letter in an envelope out of his pocket. He moved from his chair and handed it to Paul. Paul stood but Harry stopped him.

"One more thing," Harry told him. Paul sighed. He felt like this "one more thing" was going to be a lot bigger than a letter.

Chapter 25

Louis had not left his apartment in several days. He had stayed in bed and moped. He had not expected to get so attached to Harry. But here he was, without his best friend. His apartment seemed so desolate and bare without the curly headed boy occupying it.

It all made Louis feel like never getting out of bed. He realized that he had never really gotten over the whole X-Factor thing. He had just buried it with work and culture shock. But when Harry arrived, he hadn't event thought of it. He didn't even remember why he had a good time. Just that he did and that he wanted to have that feeling forever.

When there was a knock on the door, Louis seriously considered not getting up. They would go away eventually. But then Louis' stomach dropped when he thought it might be Harry who had run away again. He kicked himself out of the bed and rushed to the door. He opened it to find somebody who was not Harry Styles. Immediately, his heart crumbled within him. It was the mailman and he had a large package under his arm.

"Louis Tomlinson?" the man asked. Louis nodded glumly. The man handed him the package and made him sign for it. Louis thanked the man and shut the door. Louis took the package and set it on the kitchen table. He wondered who on earth this could be from. He read the label and immediately his heart beat started to quicken. It was from Harry.

He began to tear the package open and a letter in a white envelope fell out. Louis tore it open and read the words hungrily.


I am so sorry about the tabloids. It's so stupid that I can't have a personal life without people making assumptions about me. But, hey, there are some pretty good pictures of us. Anyways, I'm gone and my manager is being a prick. He says I can't be seen with you for "publicity reasons." I say fuck publicity reasons but apparently I'm not in charge of myself. Sorry about the package. Don't worry about it. I just needed some way to be able to communicate with you. I'm pretty sure they're going to block your number if you call or text me. So I got you this. I hope you like it. Take it as a token of my appreciation for one of the best weeks of my life. You are my best friend. I wish there was a better way to say that without sounding so stupid but it's the truth. Thank you so much for everything.

Until we meet again,

Harry Styles XOXO

P.S. You should figure out how to use Skype.

Louis dropped the letter on the table and looked in the package. He pulled out a small, silver Mac laptop. Louis' eyes widened. "Wow," he heard himself say. This stuff was expensive and Harry had just given it to him. He didn't know what to say. He sat down and opened it. He turned it on and the first thing he saw was a picture of Harry pop up as the desktop background. He was smiling a really cheesy smile. Louis searched around on the computer but besides that one picture, it was unused.

Louis stopped, puzzled. What had Harry been talking about when he mentioned the tabloids? Louis begun to reread the letter when there was a knock on the door. He knew it wasn't Harry but he couldn't not make sure. Louis stood and opened the door. Rachel was standing in front of him with an armful of magazines and a gaping mouth.

"Louis Tomlinson, you dog," she teased, sliding her way past Louis and letting herself into the apartment. She went to the kitchen table and laid out several magazines. Each one had a picture of Louis and Harry on the cover. There were pictures of Harry and Louis ice-skating, visiting the Empire State building, and walking around Time Square. Louis was surprised. He didn't think anybody had taken pictures let alone recognized Harry.

"I didn't know, Louis," Rachel told Louis. Louis gave her a questioning look. "Know what?" he asked her.

"That you were gay. I mean, you do dress really well and your hair and…" she started but Louis laughed.

"Rachel, I'm not gay," Louis assured her. Rachel picked up the magazine with Harry clutching onto Louis' arm. Louis read the caption.

Britain's Harry Styles Finds American Love- learn Style's secret! (pg. 18)

Louis snatched the others off of the table, reading them.

What has Harry been hiding? Read all about it, pg. 20.

Harry Styles and Mystery Boy? Turn to page 7 to find what Harry Styles is hiding!

Louis threw his head back and laughed loudly. Rachel looked confused.

"I'm not gay and Harry isn't either, for that matter," Louis told her. "It's all just a big misunderstanding." Rachel raised her eyebrow. She took the magazine with the ice-skating picture.

"Well you two sure do look cozy," she commented. Louis imagined what this must look like to Rachel. He had asked her for her student discount on the Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark tickets. She had shown up at his apartment and Harry was there.

"It's seriously not what it seems like at all," Louis promised. Rachel stuck out her lip in a little pout. "What's wrong?" Louis asked her. She shrugged.

"I don't know. You two would've made a cute couple." Louis smirked at the ridiculousness of the very idea.

"So, where is he?" she asked. Louis tried to keep his face from falling. Although he wasn't into Harry as a romantic interest, he did miss him as a friend. But he didn't think showing off his sadness would convince Rachel that he wasn't in love with Harry Styles.

"He's gone. He had to leave," Louis told her, doing his best to remain stoic.

"Are you alright?" she asked, genuinely concerned for Louis' emotional welfare. Louis shrugged.

"I feel like I've lost a best friend," he told her. She waved the idea away. "You didn't lose him. You can see him again," Rachel said in a soothing voice. Louis shook his head.

"At this rate, I don't think so. Harry's bosses aren't very happy with the tabloids," Louis told her, the puzzle piece somewhat coming together for him. That's why that Barker fellow had been so cruel and that's why Harry had been literally dragged away from him that night.

"You need some more time off?" Rachel asked him. Louis gave a brief nod. "I'll be fine in a few days," he assured her.

"Well, I'm here to talk if you'd like. I'm just a phone call away. I'll see you later." Rachel stood, gave Louis a hug, and left the apartment. Louis just stared at the pictures on the magazines. The pictures really did make it seem like they were close and intimate. It wasn't hard to see why people were jumping to conclusions from these pictures. They did look like a couple, he had to admit. Harry had his arm so perfectly wrapped around Louis' in the ice-skating picture. Harry was smiling brightly at Louis as the sun set, their eyes twinkling. The last magazine featured a picture of when Louis had grabbed Harry's hand.

Louis laughed and shook his head. "We're just friends," he told himself, and went back to his room to continue on with the task of mourning the loss of a friendship.

Chapter 26

Despite missing New York and his newly found/lost best friend, Harry had to admit that seeing the cars drive on the correct side of the road again was a bit of a relief. Yet it was not relief enough.

He had returned to London for a two-day trip. He would then take a week to visit his family in Cheshire. After that week was up, he would come back to London to work on his new album for a week. He then would return to his current tour in Australia.

When he returned to his apartment, he had set his luggage down and walked through the rooms. The place seemed so colossal in size yet so insignificant and unimportant to him. He wished he was back at Louis' apartment. He wondered what Louis was doing but quickly told himself to think of something else. He didn't want The Sadness to catch up with him too fast and thinking about Louis' absence made Harry's happiness slowly ebb. Harry could feel the lack of Louis' presence. He felt the lack of excitement, the lack of life.

Harry decided that he didn't want to be in his apartment anymore so he cut his visit of London short and hopped on a train to Cheshire the same day. He took a taxi to his family's house. Harry's mother had been surprised yet ecstatic to see him. When he knocked on the door and she opened it, she had embraced him in a tight squeeze.

"Harry! You're early!" she exclaimed. "I know. I couldn't wait to get here so I took the first train I could," he told her, which was a version of the truth. In all honesty, he had not been able to stay in his apartment by himself and he had hoped the house that he had grown up in would assuage his unexplainable qualms. Yet, as he crossed the threshold into the house, he did not feel any solace rush over his being. He had hoped for the same feeling he got whenever he had entered Louis' apartment but it did not even come close.

"Where's Joe?" Harry asked, looking around the house. It was quiet.

"Oh, he's at work," Anne said, walking into the kitchen. Harry followed her. She looked as if she had something on her mind. "Is everything okay?" Harry asked. She looked up at him, looking somewhat bewildered.

"Harry…. Am I okay? What about you? Are you okay?" she asked suddenly. Her eyes began to fill up with tears. She fanned her face with her hand and wiped away the tears that had begun to fall.

"Mum, I'm fine," Harry reassured her. She threw him a look.

"Don't say that. You acted so distant the last time you visited and I was so worried but I didn't say anything. Then, you go off to America and now I'm catching news about you are in love with some American boy. I'm worried about you. For good reason too," she scolded. Harry hated being scolded by his mother. It made him feel like such a bad person. "I didn't even know you were interested in… men," she tacked on.

"First of all, I'm not interested in men. I met a friend from X-Factor down in New York and I just spent some time with him," he told her. "Second, I'm really fine. It's just the press being stupid. It will all blow over." She looked at him with narrowed eyes. Harry knew it was hard to pull one over on his mother. He felt like he was lying and in trouble when in all actuality, he was telling the truth. Anne moved over to her son and embraced him once again. This time, Harry let himself become five years old again and he buried his head in her neck. She still smelled the same. When she pulled away, Harry snapped out of it and returned to his place in the present.

"You can tell me anything, Harry," she let him know. Harry nodded although he sometimes doubted whether he really could tell her everything.

"C'mon. You need to eat. You look like skin and bones," Anne told her son. She whipped something up. He hadn't been hungry in quite some time but his mother's cooking was a bit of a vice of his.

Harry spent the rest of his time at his mother's house just catching up on old news. His mother told him about the boyfriends the Gemma had dated and how his father was doing and how Joe (his stepfather) was getting on. At night, Harry slept in his old room and everything thing seemed smaller and distant, like the artifacts sitting on his shelf were from some past life that had long left Harry behind. The last day, when his mom went to the store, he just walked around the house. For the most part, everything was the same. Except me, he thought. Although he was home, he had never felt like such a vastly different person.

When it was time for him to go, his mother cried once again. "Oh, I'm sorry," she said through tears. "I don't know why I'm being so emotional." Harry shrugged it off and embraced her in a tight hug.

"I love you, mum," he told her. She squeezed him tightly.

"I love you too."

The train ride back was slightly monotonous. He sat in a private sectioning because, although he loved the fans, he did not feel like being bothered today. Harry had taken a nap and dreamed of New York. He awoke with a bitter taste in his mouth and his eyelid's heavy. Even his dreams were exhausting.

Back in London, Harry settled once more into his forsaken apartment. He dreaded going to the studio. They wanted him to come up with spirited and youthful ideas for songs but he felt like all he could yield at this point was depressing material. Harry reluctantly walked into the studio, his feet dragging behind him. He had thought about calling in sick but he knew everyone would know he was lying. As he entered the practice studio that he usually did his brainstorming in, he saw a flash of orange.

"Ed!" he exclaimed, running over the hug the ginger boy sitting on a couch with a guitar in hand. Ed smiled and stood.

"How are you, Harry?" Ed asked with a worried expression on his face. "These office kooks called me in here to help 'write a song' but I think they really just want me to make you happy so they can make more money," he explained. Harry laughed at the serious expression on Ed's face. Ed had a tendency to look somewhat serious but he was such a teddy bear in real life. Very talented teddy bear, Harry thought.

"I'm fine," Harry told him. Ed raised an eyebrow.

"You seemed fine in those tabloids," Ed commented. Harry rolled his eyes and filled Ed in. Harry wasn't getting tired of having to repeat the story. It was simple. They met. They were friends. Harry was happy. Tabloid caught them in very intimate positions that were not so intimate in real life. Louis was just a friend. Harry was just upset about the taste of freedom that he had lost as suddenly as he had gotten it. Blah blah blah, Harry thought.

"Oh, I see," Ed said, petting his orange beard ominously. He narrowed his eyes at Harry to gauge if his words were truth. Ed had a habit of knowing what Harry was thinking before Harry himself knew.

"Let's just get your mind off of everything," Ed decided. He plopped himself back down on the couch and picked up his guitar once more.

"I'm really not in the mood, Ed," Harry whined but Ed held up a hand and refused to listen to him. Ed began to play and sing. Harry suddenly felt himself lifted from his bad mood. Ed's music tended to do that to him. Harry suddenly had an idea and stopped Ed.

"Ed?" Harry asked. Ed looked at him, his eyelids half shut and no expression on his face. "Do you want to be my new best friend?" Ed shot Harry a look.

"No, you're not replacing that boy with me. That's solving none of your problems," Ed told Harry. Harry sighed. "You're no fun."

"Oh, sod off. You know I'm fun," Ed said and Harry nodded reluctantly. He wished Ed was around more but he was constantly gone with his massive amount of concerts. It seemed like Ed Sheeran was constantly moving and was impossible to tie down for too long.

"You want some advice?" Ed asked and Harry nodded fervently.

"Write it all down in a song," Ed told Harry. Harry shrugged. It was worth a try. So for the next several hours, Harry and Ed were writing lyrics and playing the guitar and trying to find rhyming words. When the fourth straight hour was almost up, Ed checked the time and jumped up.

"Sorry, mate. I gotta go. I got a plane to catch," Ed told Harry, piling his guitar into a case. Ed knocked Harry on the arm playfully.

"I hope you feel better," he told Harry with a suggestive look behind his eyes. He patted Harry on the back and with that he was gone.

Left with only a notebook full of scribbled lyrics and no guitar, Harry didn't know what to do. He tried thinking of more words for the song but nothing came without Ed's guitar. As he was about to leave, there was a knock at the door and Mr. Barker walked into the room. Harry glared and wondered where Paul was. He was not sure he could remain humane.

"How are you doing, Harry?" Mr. Barker asked. Harry didn't respond nor did he intend to. Barker came over to his couch.

"Will you please go to the other practice room? We have a meeting in here," he told Harry. Harry did not believe him one bit. There was that wicked glint behind his eye that made Harry constantly wary.

"Now," Barker ordered and Harry left the room with a slammed door. He cursed under his breath all the way to the room a few doors down. As he entered, he continued his cursing. He stopped suddenly as he realized a girl was sitting in the corner of the room. Harry stared at her for a few moments. Neither of them said anything. The amount of silence lengthened as they stood there. Finally, the girl spoke.

"Hi," the girl said, standing. "My name is Eleanor."

Chapter 27

Louis was sitting at the kitchen table, staring at the computer. It had been several weeks since Harry had left and he had yet to figure out what this "Skype" that Harry had mentioned was, let alone figure out how it worked. He had gone back to work but everything he did seemed less significant without Harry to share it with. He sighed at himself. Rachel's right. I sound like I'm in love! Louis chuckled at the idea as he often did. He gave up once again on the computer and closed it, turning to the magazine that lied adjacent to it.

Harry Styles Gay Rumors Denied

(Turn to page 317 for a look into his real love life)

Louis flipped through the magazine to the page number. He was quite interested to see how Harry's life was going. There was a large picture of some gorgeous girl walking hand-in-hand with Harry. Louis testily raised an eyebrow at the picture. He had to admit that he was slightly jealous of the girl. Louis wanted to be having a good time with Harry yet here some skinny girl was, showing him off. Eleanor was her name. She was some kind of model or something and the look in her eyes as she looked at Harry was somewhat sickening. Closing the page with an upturned nose, Louis retreated to his room.

Louis would often ask himself why he felt so dispirited but he knew the answer. It was Harry's absence. And it wouldn't have been so bad if Harry had just gone, but he had left a lingering ghost that seemed to haunt Louis' dreams with memories of happy times. It was like Harry had left a big hole in the space of his apartment and all of Louis was slowly being wrenched into the hole. He didn't understand why Harry's absence was affecting him so greatly but he could feel with pain within his chest resonating through his entire being.

Although he was not particularly gay for Harry Styles as the tabloids played it, Louis felt an oppressing and unbearable attraction to Harry and everything that he represented to Louis. Harry was freedom and fun and happiness and being around him was like forgetting anything bad that had ever happened. With Harry, he felt like he could be himself and that feeling was so relieving. It was something that Louis had never quite felt before.

But here was this girl- this Eleanor- probably stealing away all the happiness that Harry radiated and burying any memories of Louis that Harry may have had. Louis was not a fan of this Eleanor girl, to say the least. Louis had just had the time of his life and now it seemed as if his time was up and it was now some else's turn.

Whatever. I don't need him. I don't need anybody, he lied to himself and tried to continue on with the average life he had gotten so used to before a curly headed nuisance had ruined everything… again.

Chapter 28

"Harry?" Eleanor asked, waving a hand in front of the boy's face. Ever since she had met Harry, he had been quite distant. She often found him gazing into the distance, his green eyes glazing over. He snapped back into the present.

"What?" he asked, swooshing his hair out of his face. "You were spacing out again," she told him kindly. They were out to eat at a little café down the road from Harry's apartment. The little "date" (as Paul liked to call it) had been scheduled by Mr. Barker himself for publicity reasons. Apparently, Harry needed help with his public image and Eleanor's management thought that she could use a dangerous, singer boyfriend. So, naturally, they were paired together. They had no choice but Eleanor had been, by no means, disappointed.

"I'm such a huge fan," she told him the first time they got to talk, nervously moving about the room to keep herself occupied. "You're so talented." Harry had been too curious as to what she had been doing at the studio to pay too much attention. She had gone on to explain her love for X-Factor and music and modeling.

They had been thrusted together suddenly and both of their managers wanted to see the celebrity sparks fly. Although the couple was extremely attractive together, the flame that the managers had sought so dearly was not more than a mere flicker. Eleanor seemed more into it than Harry. He just usually kept his mouth shut and Eleanor would talk about anything and everything. She often wondered if Harry was really ever listening but she didn't really want to know the answer.

This thing between them had been going on for several weeks now. If she were being honest with herself, she would admit that she had developed quite the crush on Harry. She loved the fact that she could call him hers, even if it was only for publicity and Harry had no real intentions of dating her. She just wished that she could actually date him. She was convinced that if she tried hard enough, he would eventually start feeling things for her.

She felt herself slowly falling in love with the grin that sometimes played at his lips and the way his green eyes would stare off into the distance, thinking of somewhere else. When he said things, she would always laugh because she thought it would help. However, Harry showed no signs of affection for her. He hadn't even kissed besides when the managers had said to. It was all just an act to him and she was the foolish girl that had fallen for the unattainable. She wanted so much to be the object of his affection but the possibilities were slim.

Eleanor could remember the day she knew nothing would come out of the fake relationship in the end. It had been a long day of them pretending to be a couple. Harry had seemed more distant than usual and when she had tried to hold his hand in the car without the cameras looking, he hadn't returned the favor. Although her hand was grabbing his tightly, his hand laid slack in hers. She felt tears well up in her eyes.

"Is it me?" she asked, her eyes not meeting Harry's. Harry looked at her for a while. He was slightly surprised at the question, not knowing how to answer. "I know you don't like me…" she told him. He shook his head.

"No, you're great, Eleanor," he said to her. She shook her head and willed herself not to cry. "You don't have to lie to me, Harry. It's okay. I'm a big girl," she told him. He gave her an apologetic look. He really did feel horrible. She just wasn't the piece of the puzzle that would complete him and he didn't have to energy or willpower to try to squeeze a square into a circle.

"It's not your fault," he told her. She looked into his eyes and he saw the adoration and hurt in them.

"Can I ask you something?"


"Does it have to do with that boy in America?" she asked. The question caught Harry off guard. He just blinked at her. She nodded knowingly. Harry was not quite sure was what she knew but she understood.

"I'm here for you, Harry," she had told him and she meant it. Harry nodded his gratitude. He was still thinking about her question. Does it have to do with that boy in America?

Did it?

Chapter 29

"Don't judge me… but how do you use the Internet?" Louis asked Rachel, who was sitting at his kitchen table across from him. She giggled slightly and looked at him with her big brown eyes somewhat wide with shock.

"What?" she asked, an amused grin spread across her face. Louis sighed and rolled his eyes. "You heard me. How do you use the internet?" he asked her again. This time, she cracked up. She couldn't help herself.

"Oh, Louis. How do you not know how to use the Internet?" she asked him. He shrugged. "It's been a while," he told her. He stood and got the laptop that Harry had gotten him from his room and brought it into the kitchen, setting it in front of Rachel.

"Whoa. Nice. That looks expensive," she commented. He opened it up and signed in to the desktop screen. "When did you get this?" she asked him. He paused.

"Several weeks ago," he said, trying to avoid to subject of how it had been a gift from Harry.

"I'm trying to figure out how to… Skype…"

"Why?" Rachel asked, a playful expression on her face. Louis exhaled deeply. "Don't," he begged her but he saw the thoughts building behind her head.

"Does somebody want to Skype with a certain celebrity?" she teased. Ever since she had barged in on Harry and Louis, she had been insistent on making sure Louis knew her thoughts.

"No," he said too quickly. She winked at him.

"Sure," she whispered knowingly and began to type on the computer. Her fingers were swift on the keys and she quickly had several pages open that looked technical.

"I'm tech savvy because I used to upload videos of me singing on the internet like every day when I was in high school," she told him while staring intently at the computer screen.

"You have to connect to the Internet through WiFi then you have to open Safari and then type whatever you're looking for into the search bar. Since you're trying to Skype, you type that in." She was going through a series of clicking and typing on the computer that Louis' eyes could not keep up with. Somehow, the Skype web page popped up and Rachel started entering information into the box after pressing "Sign up." After she was done, she got up and beckoned for Louis to sit in front of the computer. He did so and looked at the screen, trying to make sense of all the buttons.

"So… now what?" he asked her. She looked at the screen for a few seconds.

"Did he give you some kind of username to add him with?" she asked. Louis frowned. He didn't think so. "I don't think so," Louis replied, the feeling that he would never see Harry Styles again sinking in. Then Louis gasped as it came to him.

He ran to his room and opened the first drawer in his bedside table. The note that Harry had put in the shipping box with the computer was folded neatly with the other note that he had left him the day of the concert as well as the ticket stub. He opened it up and scanned through it, looking for some kind of clue. Nothing. He flipped the paper over and noticed in the bottom right corner a tiny scrawl. It read, " 3."

Louis ran back to the kitchen shouting, " 3! .3!" Somewhat alarmed at Louis' excitement, Rachel entered the name in quickly and in Louis' contacts it showed a tiny, square picture of Harry with the words "offline" beside it. Louis felt impatient and wondered how long it would take before Harry would be online.

"Cool. Thank you," Louis said much more calmly. Rachel smiled. "You're welcome. By the way, I think it's cute." Louis looked at her, confused and waiting for her to add to her comment.

"What is?" Louis finally asked. Rachel winked again and smiled.

"The way you think you're not in love with Harry Styles," she said, grabbed her purse and walked out the door. Louis followed her.

"I'm not in love with him!" he called after her. She didn't bother turning around. She just waved a hand in the air.

"I'm not joking!" he assured her. He heard her laugh from down the hall as he shut the door and rolled his eyes. I'm not in love with him, he told himself. He's just my best friend.

Louis sat down at the kitchen table and stared at the computer screen, frowning. This was taking far too long for Louis and he was growing impatient as he stared at the words "offline."

Chapter 30

Harry was lying in his bed with his iPod in his ears. He had just woken up and hadn't felt like doing anything today and was listening to Ed's latest album. He had not gotten a chance to really listen to it yet and he was relishing in the opportunity. Harry loved listening to music and all of Ed's songs were great. Harry admired Ed Sheeran very much. He was a great mentor-like figure in Harry's life. He had put the album on and was listening to it straight through. So far, his favorites had been "Drunk" and "Lego House."

As Harry flipped his pillow over to the cool side, a new song began, one that he had not heard before. He had just finished listening to "You Need Me, I Don't Need You" and the new song was a lot softer. It started with the sound of Ed's voice whispering.

One, two, three, four

There was the sound of a guitar starting and Harry found the music especially soothing. It was melodic and beautiful.

Settle down with me

Cover me up

Cuddle me in

Lie down with me

And hold me in your arms

Harry closed his eyes and forgot about the empty bed that he was curled up in. He saw a face in his mind. Harry smiled and bit his lower lip.

And your heart's against my chest, your lips pressed in my neck

I'm falling for your eyes, but they don't know me yet

And with a feeling I'll forget, I'm in love now

Harry thought about piercing blue eyes and he felt his stomach tighten. He curled up tighter as the face in his mind began to become clear.

Kiss me like you wanna be loved

You wanna be loved

You wanna be loved

This feels like falling in love

Falling in love

We're falling in love

Harry had never thought that he had been in love before. He had never met the right girl and he was always so busy. When he had become famous, a relationship was obviously out of the question. He was far too busy to be tied down. Yet, Harry kept hearing the lyrics "this feels like falling in love" echo in his mind.

Settle down with me

And I'll be your safety

You'll be my lady

I was made to keep your body warm

But I'm cold as the wind blows so hold me in your arms

Goosebumps formed on his arms as Ed's voice became powerful. The song… it reminded Harry of someone… Someone who Harry cared for very much…

Oh no

My heart's against your chest, your lips pressed in my neck

I'm falling for your eyes, but they don't know me yet

And with this feeling I'll forget, I'm in love now

Kiss me like you wanna be loved

You wanna be loved

You wanna be loved

This feels like falling in love

Falling in love

We're falling in love

Harry could feel the epiphany rising within him. It was something he had known from the time when it had all begun. Memories were flooding back with more weight than when first experienced.

Yeah I've been feeling everything

From hate to love

From love to lust

From lust to truth

I guess that's how I know you

So I hold you close to help you give it up

Harry was so desperate to be not in his own bed but someone else's… In someone's arms…

So kiss me like you wanna be loved

You wanna be loved

You wanna be loved

This feels like falling in love

Falling in love

We're falling in love

Harry felt the distance between the one he wanted to be with widening into a giant chasm that he feared he could fall into and never return. He wanted so badly to return to the only time in his life he had experienced happiness… Kindness… Love…

Kiss me like you wanna be loved

You wanna be loved

You wanna be loved

This feels like falling in love

Falling in love

We're falling in love

Harry listened to the song again and again. He felt tears welling up inside of him and releasing, crashing from his eyes to his pillow. Harry bet he looked pathetic but he didn't care right now. Harry had just realized that he was in complete and utter love with-


There was an electronic sound from the computer in the corner of the room. Slightly annoyed, Harry uncovered himself and rolled out of bed reluctantly. It was probably Barker yelling at him via email for missing studio work today. He logged on to his computer and opened it. He absentmindedly clicked on the alert that was jumping up and down on his toolbar. A blue website popped up and then an image. Harry was confused as to why that particular image was on his computer or how it got there. It took Harry a second or two to realize that the image was moving. Harry's mouth dropped.

"Is this working…? Hello? HAZZA!" Louis's voice shouted from the computer speakers.

Chapter 31

"Louis?" Harry asked, disbelief thickly coating his words. Louis grinned as Harry stuttered on his words. It was like he was trying to fathom what to say. For a second, Louis thought Harry wasn't glad to see him. But as far as Louis was concerned, he was ecstatic to be able to see his friend once again.

"Finally!" Harry shouted at the screen and Louis' fears were assuaged. "How long did it take you to figure out how to use the bloody computer?" Harry fussed playfully.

"Well, that's a funny story… You see, I'm not the greatest with technology," Louis told Harry who was really close to the screen, as if he was hanging on every word. Louis could see the details of his green eyes and the white rectangle of the screen reflecting in them. Louis noticed Harry's hair was especially unruly.

"I thought you hadn't gotten it. I was worried," Harry confessed.

"Nope. Just me being technologically challenged," Louis snickered. "Thank you, by the way. You really shouldn't have gotten me a computer. What were you thinking?"

"Oh, it's nothing. Don't mention it," Harry said, shrugging it off. There was a lull in the conversation as Harry's face grew stoic.

"So… how've you been?" Louis asked. Harry looked tired. There were thick rings under his eyes and Louis wasn't sure if it was just the camera or if Harry was more pale than usual.

"Um… not particularly great. It's been… Well, I'm fine now. Let's just say that," Harry said, a genuine grin spreading across his face. Louis liked it when Harry smiled. Louis noticed that Harry had interesting lips. Not in a bad way. Just interesting.

"Well, it's been boring here ever since you left. I blame you for showing me what a good time was and then abandoning me!" Louis joked. Harry rolled his eyes. "Believe me. If I had a choice, I would've stayed," Harry assured him.

"So… about the tabloids…" Louis felt awkward bringing them up but he felt like it was some unspoken, heavy presence hanging above both of their heads. Harry laughed nervously.

"Yeah… sorry about that. At least we got it all squared away, right? My managers denied the rumors and it seems to have blown over by now," Harry said. Louis nodded casually. Louis didn't mind the rumors. It was just the press being the press.

"Just admit that you love me, Styles," Louis joked and winked at the camera. Harry laughed and his eyes crinkled in the corners. Louis had nearly forgotten that they did that when Harry laughed. It had only been a few weeks and he had started to forget things about Harry. Louis reminded himself to mentally make note of everything so Harry's face wouldn't fade into the recesses of his mind the next time he had to go weeks without seeing him.

"What have you been doing?" Harry asked, changing to subject. Louis thought about it for a second.

"Nothing much, really. Just the same old stuff as usual. So what's this about a girlfriend I'm seeing in the magazines?" Louis asked curiously, playfully raising his eyebrows. Harry's shoulders rose and fell as he sighed deeply.

"You mean Eleanor? She's… great," Harry tried to find something else to say but nothing came to mind. Per say Mr. Barker, Harry was forbidden to tell anyone that the relationship between Harry and Eleanor was fake and simply for promotional purposes.

"You sound so sure," Louis said, sarcasm radiating from every word. Louis shot Harry a skeptical look through the camera. Harry shrugged. "It's hard to explain," he told Louis. It looked as if Harry wanted to tell Louis something and badly. Louis wished that Harry would just saw what was bothering him.

"You've got something on your mind?" Louis asked, narrowing his eyes at the screen. It was obvious the curly headed boy had something to say.

"You can tell me anything," Louis told him. Harry's features softened as he smiled.

"I know. That's one of the reason I like talking to you so much…" Harry shared. Louis was relieved. He felt the exact same way but he had not been prepared to admit it.

"I know what you mean. I feel like… No. It's stupid," Louis started but had decided against saying anything. Harry shook his head. "No, you have to say it now!" Harry commanded. Louis sighed and rolled his eyes.

"I just like… with most people, when you talk to them, they're just waiting for their turn to speak. But with you… you're actually listening. Like you really want to know what I have to say," Louis told Harry reluctantly. He felt like he sounded so stupid but Harry nodded slowly.

"I know exactly what you mean… That wasn't stupid, Louis. I feel the same way," Harry informed Louis. Louis felt the beginnings of a smile but it was quickly whisked away with a yawn and Harry laughed.

"Was that a yawn?" Harry asked. Louis nodded and rubbed his eyes. "What time is it there?" Harry asked suddenly. Louis looked at the little icon in the top right corner of his computer. It read 4:17 AM. He had gotten home from work around two that night but had stayed up, hoping that Harry would get on Skype. He had done this for several nights and was about to give up when he had finally connected with Harry.

"It's four in the morning," Louis told him. Harry's eyes widened.

"Have you slept?" Harry asked and Louis shook his head. "You have to get some sleep!" Harry scolded.

"No," Louis said quickly and abruptly, "I've missed you. I don't want you to go yet…" Harry argued that Louis needed sleep but Louis was resilient. After convincing Harry that he didn't need rest, they two boys talked the rest of the night. Louis had felt extremely exhausted for a while but now he seemed wide awake.

"What time is it there? Louis asked. Harry just stared at him without replying.

"Hello?" Louis asked, waving a hand in front of the computer. Harry continued to stare.

"Are you okay, Harry?" Louis asked. Suddenly, hands shot out from behind Harry and wrapped Harry in a hug. Eleanor's face peeped over his shoulder and smiled at Louis. Louis felt his heart begin to beat fast. What's going on? Louis thought.

In the right corner of the screen where Harry and Eleanor were, something moved. Louis inched his face close to the screen and recognized the shape as a fish. It was a fish swimming around in the air beside Harry and Eleanor. Multiple fish started swimming around Harry and Eleanor now but they took no notice.

"Harry!" Louis tried to shout but only his mouth moved. No words came out. Louis placed a finger on the computer screen, accidentally scratching a hole in the screen. Water began to erupt out of a hole. The water was rising high all around Louis, engulfing him and his entire room in a sea of water and brightly colored fish swimming around him. Louis looked and saw the computer screen had grown and was now wide enough to fit through and he decided he was going to swim through to the other side so he could ask Harry and Eleanor what was going on. But before he began to swim, a whirlwind of fish circled around him, blocking him off from the portal to Harry's room.

The last thing Louis saw was the swirling colors and lightening flashes of the fishes' scales as Harry and Eleanor disappeared within the screen into a deep blue where Louis was not allowed.

Chapter 32

"Louis?" Harry asked the snoring boy whose head was collapsed in front of the computer screen. It had started with Louis lying his head down but it seemed that he was now fast asleep. Harry chuckled as he watched Louis sleep for several minutes. After a while, he started to feel a bit creepy. He signed off but left a message for Louis.

Sleep tight. Skype me again next time you have a chance! –Harry

Harry stepped away from the computer and lied back down in his bed. He was going through the conversation he had just had with Louis when he remembered something. He twisted in the bed so that he could reach his phone that was on the table beside his bed. He grabbed it and began searching for his photos. When he found them, he clicked on the latest picture that he took. The picture that he had taken that last day in Louis' apartment filled the phone's screen. It was Louis, asleep in his bed. His hair was gently tussled and he had a peaceful look on his face. Harry stared at it and his stomach wrenched within him. The feelings that he had felt while listening to Ed's "Kiss Me" were resurfacing but, this time, stronger and more intense.

"Oh no…" Harry mumbled to himself. It all clicked inside his mind. He felt a curtain unveiling the thoughts and feelings he had hidden from himself since the first night in New York. He stared at the picture at the sleeping boy. He looked at the way the sunlight peaking its way through the curtains was reflecting of the boy's tan skin He noticed the little smile playing upon his lips even in sleep. Harry's stomach flipped within him as three words echoed within the confines of his mind.

I'm in love.

Chapter 33

Louis awoke that morning with a start. He looked around his room and confirmed that he had been dreaming. He must have fallen asleep and not realized it. Angry with himself for not telling Harry goodnight, he turned on his laptop and saw that Harry had left him a message.

Sleep tight. Skype me again next time you have a chance! –Harry

Louis grinned foolishly. There was a warmness radiating from the core of his being from seeing his friend again. Although it had only been about a month since they had last seen each other, it had seemed much longer.

Sighing as he stood, Louis got ready for the day. He felt like he had a whole lot more energy and willpower to work worth that he had not felt since he had shown Harry the city. There was distinctive smile that held its place on Louis' countenance and the boy knew that it had a lot to do with seeing Harry Styles once again.

The boys Skyped every night that week. Although it was around mid-day for Harry every time Louis got home from work in the late hours of the night, Louis insisted on staying up and Harry insisted on keeping his schedule clear.

They talked about a multitude of topics, ranging from silly, trivial things to deeper and more universal topics. Whatever one boy had to say, the other would listen intently and then give his two cents on the subject matter. As time went by and the chatted more and more, they became increasingly close. Louis felt as if Harry was meant to be his best friend all along and the circumstances just hadn't been right at first.

As much as Louis enjoyed talking to Harry, he wished that it didn't have to be through a camera. There was so much to Harry that he felt like the simple camera couldn't truly capture the way Harry moved or the way Harry talked. It was Harry but it was like only being able to see him and experience him through a thick, hazy glass. Not that Louis was complaining. A "hazy" Harry Styles was far better than no Harry Styles at all.

"Do you have a Twitter, Lou?" Harry asked Louis one day. Louis shook his head. He had never seen the point of having one.

"No. Nobody cares what I think!" Louis said, only slightly joking.

"I care…" Harry said, making Louis smile. Harry had been really kind over the past week of the two boys talking via Skype. He always commented on what Louis wore and little things like that. Louis didn't think most people gave him much of a second glance.

"Well, that's just you, my friend," Louis told Harry and Harry raised an eyebrow high in the air. "You don't know, do you?" Harry asked. Now it was Louis' turn to raise an eyebrow.

"What?" Louis asked, curious as to what Harry had to say. Harry just shook his quickly. "I'll tell you next time we're in person."

"Which will be?" Louis asked. He had never wanted to spend time with someone so bad. He yearned for the long nights and endless days that had ensued when Harry was in New York. It had been a whole new city with him. Louis had seen a lot of the sites but when he was with Harry, it was like they were brand new to him.

"Um… I don't know, unfortunately," Harry said glumly. Harry frowned which, in turn, made Louis frown. Then, out of the blue, Louis decided to feign picking a booger and wiping it on the screen. This made Harry laugh and the frown disappeared.

"Why do you do that?" Harry asked. Louis didn't know what he was talking about. "What?" Louis asked.

"Whenever I get sad, you seem to get sad too. Then you make it all better." Louis thought about it for a minute. Hadn't realized before but now that Harry had said something, he began to see what he was talking about.

"I guess… It's just… Seeing you sad makes me sad. So, when you get sad, I want to make you… unsad… Does that make sense?" Louis asked, scrunching up his face at his horrible explanation. Harry's smile brightened and he let out a hearty laugh. Louis narrowed his eyes playfully.

"What are you smiling at, Styles?"

"You. You make me laugh," Harry said simply. Louis shrugged and took a miniature bow. "Thank you. Thank you very much," Louis joked in an American accent. This made Harry laugh harder until he remembered what he had mentioned before.

"Oh. Back to Twitter. You should get one so I can follow you!" Harry insisted. This sounded like a good enough reason to join for Louis. That night, after Louis and Harry had reluctantly signed off, Louis signed up for Twitter. At first, getting used to the laptop had been difficult but now Louis felt like a pro. He quickly found his way to the Twitter sign up page.

He entered all his information and clicked "sign up." After he verified everything with his email, he searched the people section for "Harry Styles." He found an awfully large amount of accounts with the name Harry Styles but he soon saw the legitimate one. HE clicked on the account and whistled.

"Over three million followers… Way to go, Hazza," Louis whispered to himself. He navigated his way to some support page that told him how to use Twitter and he sent his first Tweet to Harry.

Louis_Tomlinson: Harry_Styles Hi #hazza

Almost immediately, there was a reply.

Harry_Styles: Louis_Tomlinson LOU!

Twitter became another way of communicating between the two boys. It was often that Louis would be working a late night at the club and his phone would vibrate, signifying a Tweet from Harry. They also continued on with their Skype meetings, talking to each other pretty much everyday. Not a day went by when they did not have some form of communication. It was also not rare for one (or sometimes both) of the boys to fall asleep during a Skype session. Staying up until the late hours of the night were taxing but they continued their habit purely for the company of the other.

Harry was often busy with his tour and working in the studio and Louis was kept busy with the club and the occasional audition. He had ventured into the realm of theatre and was beginning to slowly edge his way into the industry. It was a slow-moving process but Rachel helped out quite a bit.

Louis felt like his life was a little bit more on track. It wasn't the devastatingly tragedy it was after the X-Factor incident but it wasn't the happiness he had experienced those days with Harry that seemed so long ago. It was somewhere in between and he was content for now. He would often listen to Harry's music on his iPod or whenever it came on the radio. It was satisfactory but it wasn't like hearing Harry live. Louis was especially anxious to see Harry. He saw him everywhere as far as pictures went but it wasn't the same.

Louis_Tomlinson: Harry Styles Your like on every single magazine in the stores. I think your slowly seducing me with your curls.

Harry_Styles: Louis_Tomlinson I know, that was the plan.

Louis would often laugh at the Tweets that he and his best friend shared. They were often the highlights of his day. He would tease Harry and Harry would tease back. It was playful and funny. Even Harry's fans got a huge kick out of it. Louis was starting to occasionally get recognized as Harry's best friend.

Life wasn't perfect. But it was good.

Chapter 34

Harry was sitting in the chair opposite a large, wooden desk. He was slumped in the seat and he was looking around the room. A picture of Barker and his family stared at him from the edge of the desk. He did not want to be here. Harry had been called into the office for an "urgent meeting." Barker was late. But just as Harry was considering leaving, the door to the office slid open and Barker slithered into the room with a fistful of papers in his hands.

Without speaking, Barker sat across from Harry at his desk. He had a venomous look in his eyes that made Harry's heartbeat quicken. Something was wrong. Harry could feel it.

Barker slapped the papers on the desk with a resonating slam and slid them over to Harry. Harry picked them up and sifted through them.

"These are all my Tweets and some random web pages?" Harry said questioningly. Barker nodded, still silent yet his gaze was unwavering. Harry felt like the man was going to explode any second if Harry said the wrong thing. To get his mind off of his daydream of his fists meeting with Barker's face, Harry read what was on the web pages. A lot of them were from Tumblr (some site Harry had seen once or twice when browsing but had never paid much attention to it) but some were from the Sugarscape web pages. He noticed a commonly occurring word. It was familiar but vague.

Larry Stylinson

"What's this mean?" Harry asked, pointing to the word. Barker shifted forward in his chair and leaned forward.

"It's a mixture of your name and Louis Tomlinson's name mixed into one. There are thousands of pictures of the two of you gallivanting around New York practically hand-in-hand. It has become something of an Internet sensation," Barker explained, clear malice obvious in his voice. Harry felt a lump get caught in his throat. There was something bad going on…

"And the little stunts you pulled with your Twitter account have caused a lot of damage." Harry wondered what "damage" it had caused. Nothing was going on between Harry and Louis as much as much Harry wanted there to be. He had always been joking with Louis and he knew Louis was joking with him. Louis would freak out if I told him I was actually having feelings for him. He'd never talk to me again… Harry thought. Harry decided that he would rather have Louis as a friend and have his heart broken than have him know and never talk to Harry again.

"I had thought that I had made my self perfectly clear on the subject of that boy," Barker said coolly, "But apparently the message did not come through. You've brought this on yourself."

"Brought what on myself?" Harry asked, his eyes narrowing. His body was pulsating with a mixture of fear, worry, and anger.

"You are no longer allowed access to the Internet. Your Twitter account has been taken over by me. You will no longer post personal things. 'You' will post tour dates and information on your appearances strictly for the benefit of this company. And, obviously, you are not allowed to see him."

"You can't do this…" Harry whispered, panic lacing his voice. He was going to lose the one thing that made him happy and the world felt like it was cracking in half.

"Oh, yes I can. We own you, Mr. Styles," Barker said with a vicious smile. Harry stood abruptly. The room was spinning.

"I quit," Harry said simply and defiantly. Barker laughed loudly.

"My dear boy. You can't quit. It's in the contract you signed. You are mine and you will never see that boy again until the day that you stop becoming useful to us," Barker told Harry, a snake-like smile spread across his face.

"I'll call my lawyer…" Harry stuttered. He was so confused and didn't know what to do. Everything was happening so fast.

"Who do you think pays for your lawyer, Styles?" he asked rhetorically and pointed to himself with a repulsive wink.

"I'll stop singing…" Harry was grasping for chances to take but each one was shot down.

"I have connections, my dear boy. I can get your family black-listed so quickly, you won't know what hit you."

Harry was at a loss. He didn't know what to do. He felt so numb and afraid. His world had spun off its axis and was hurtling towards the sun at speeds that he could not fathom. Harry sat in the chair and stared off into his thoughts.

"Can I… can I say goodbye?" Harry asked, desperate. He wanted to see Louis' face at least one last time. He needed it. He craved the boy's very being.

Barker shook his head and walked out of the room with a triumphant step. There was a slam of the door and Harry felt tears welling up in his eyes.

"Louis…" Harry whispered under his breath, hoping that somehow his voice would carry and Louis would show up to save the day. A violent sob erupted from his throat as he realized this would not happen and he grabbed the armrests, hoping that it would steady him.

"Louis…" he whispered again, a tear trickling down his face. He felt the warmness in his chest that Louis brought slowly vanish into a cold and merciless black hole that sucked the life from him. Without Louis, he felt like nothing would ever be good again. The Sadness- in all of its glory- whispered into Harry's ear and wrapped him in an embrace of forlorn solitude, shutting away the last glimpse of light and diminishing Harry's flame to a mere dying ember.

Chapter 35

It had been almost three months now and Louis had not heard a single word from Harry Styles. It was as if Harry had completely lost any possible interest in Louis and moved on with his life, leaving Louis alone and confused. There had been no transitions or signs or warnings. It was just a sudden and heart-wrenching cut off.

At first, Louis thought something bad had happened and he worried nonstop for several days. He would constantly check Skype but Harry was never on. About a week later, his account was deleted. Harry must have been avoiding Louis because, not soon after that, Harry was posting stuff about his tour on his Twitter and there were loads of pictures of him and Eleanor plastered on every tabloid Louis could find. The sight of them hand-in-hand cut Louis' already wounded heart deeper than he imagined it should. But he couldn't shake the fact that he craved the feeling he got whenever he was around Harry. Louis couldn't stand that Eleanor was getting all the attention now. Mainly, Louis just wanted to know what he had done wrong and why Harry was suddenly ignoring him. Maybe he just got tired of me… Louis thought sadly. But Harry had always come off as such a genuine person and it didn't make sense that he would just drop him like that. Yet, here Louis was, the idiot who had believed that he could actually mean something to some big celebrity like Harry Styles.

Louis began to question and analyze the times that they had shared but when he thought back, everything that Harry had said and done seemed too real to be a ruse. Louis just couldn't believe that Harry would do something like this. It just wasn't the Harry that Louis had come to call a best mate.

It had taken Louis quite a while to get over the estrangement once again. Louis felt like he was on some twisted Harry Styles roller coaster. Harry had shown up so abruptly in his life after so much time and then left, leaving Louis a mess. Then Harry waltzed right back into Louis' life and then just as quickly left once again. It didn't feel healthy for Louis. It was like he was going through withdrawals from a Harry addiction. Louis couldn't remember the last time that he had been so dependant on somebody.

Louis didn't have much of a choice but to get over it. At first, moving on had been hard. He swallowed his humility and pain silently and continued on with his life the best he could manage. Rachel had bugged him about what was wrong and even forced him to take several days off but Louis wouldn't confide in her what was wrong. He didn't want to talk about it and he felt bringing it up was just counterproductive.

Louis threw himself into his work. He worked as many hours as Rachel would allow and tried to fill his time and mind with anything that didn't remind him of Harry. It was hard because he had become such an integral part of Louis' life and happiness that, without him, everything was dull in comparison.

What Louis missed most of all was being able to hear Harry's laughter. When Harry had been staying in Louis' apartment, that laugh had bellowed through the entirety of the complex, making the place seem more alive and vivid than it had ever been. Even the laughter that had come from the tiny speakers of the laptop resonated with life that had warmed Louis' core. Now that it was gone, nothing shined quite so brightly and everything lacked a certain appeal. It was as if Harry had left and taken any sense of life with him.

The only thing Louis was looking forward to was Christmas. He had plans to visit his family back in Doncaster and the idea of something familiar (that was not Harry Styles) was pleasantly welcomed. The plane tickets were bought and sitting in his bedside table, next to the letters that Harry had written Louis. Yet despite his best efforts, Louis didn't seem capable of forgetting those green eyes and that smiling face. Louis did his best to continue on with his life without Harry Styles but it seemed a mere imitation. Nothing could make him forget the brilliant memories he had experienced when Harry was by his side.

Chapter 36

It was out of control. Eleanor knew this and could describe it in no other way. She had promised to not let herself fall for Harry any harder than she already had but she had not been able to help herself. But this was not the Harry she had known. This person was darker and had so much pain in his eyes… She couldn't help but want to help him. No. Need to help him.

Although Harry was in no mood to be around civilization and being around Harry was the last thing Eleanor felt was beneficial to her mental health, both of their managers had decided it was time for more "quality time with each other" which was their way of saying making sure the press snapped plenty of pictures. There had been a slight lull in their pseudo-relationship for a while. It was sad because that had been the happiest she had ever seen Harry. He seemed so wrapped up in some world of his own that he was completely oblivious to the world around him, much less Eleanor. He had ignored her with such candor that it was verging on rude. But it's Harry Styles, she had thought. It's worth it.

And just when Eleanor felt like she couldn't take it anymore was when their managers wanted to push them together more than they already had. They told Eleanor that she needed more publicity and Harry that he needed to walk the line between having every fan girl wanting to date him and making girls wish they had what Eleanor had. This made Eleanor scoff. What they "had" was nothing. At least not to Harry. Eleanor figured Harry's managers just wanted to make him look as straight as possible. Eleanor cringed when she thought about Harry and that boy together. The images burnt away at Eleanor's dreams of ending up happy ever after with Harry Styles. It hurt to know that she wouldn't and couldn't ever be the object of Harry's desire. She hadn't confronted him about it but she knew well enough. There were some things that didn't need to be spoken to be understood.

Despite the manager's wished, Harry became enclosed within his own mind and Eleanor noticed that the smile that had occasional graced his face was now a thing of the past. She hadn't seen that smile in months and it hurt her. Even if the smile wasn't because of her, she still wanted it there. But it wasn't until Harry started with the erratic behavior that she began to really worry. She had been at a party with Harry (a date forced upon the both of them by their lovely management) and he had started to drink. Someone had handed him a cup with a clear liquid and he started sipping at it. He disappeared from the party for a while and the next time she saw him, he was staggering around.

"Harry… are you drunk?" she asked surprised and Harry shrugged solemnly. She had never seen Harry drunk before. It was a strange sight to see. He looked even more empty than usual.

"I don't need any of this," he muttered and stumbled away. Eleanor wasn't quite sure what he meant but she didn't feel like he wanted to discuss it any further. She had hoped this spell of drunkenness would have been a one-time thing. Lord knows he needs it, she said to herself.

Yet, after that party, she seldom saw Harry without that drunken look in his eyes. His words began to blur together unintelligibly and his walk became more of a messy shuffle. When the faint smell of spirits began to follow him around, she started to panic. What was wrong with Harry and why was he spiraling downward so swiftly?

Eleanor watched as the boy she once knew withdrew into a cocoon of solitude, only she feared that he would never emerge as the beautiful butterfly that he had the potential to be. He hibernated within himself in a drunken stupor, refusing to fully deal with the hurt and pain he was obviously drowning in. His skin faded from tan to pale as the sunlight knew less and less of Harry. He became secluded as he could possibly make himself and he began to lose weight. Both his state of mind and body were wasting away and all Eleanor could do was watch as the Harry Styles she knew crumpled into ashes and scattered in the wind. His body resembled Harry but it was just a shell. A mannequin. A puppet. Harry Styles was a puppet and management was pulling the strings, making him dance for the fans that craved everything that he used to be.

Chapter 37

New York was a lovely place during Christmas. The already twinkling city shined even brighter during the Christmas season and Louis felt somewhat sad that he had to leave it all behind. On the other hand, he was extremely excited for his trip back to Doncaster. As the date of his departure to England grew nearer and nearer, he found himself missing home more than usual. It was beginning to become unbearable. Louis just wanted to be home and surrounded by people that loved him.

Louis had begun to successfully stop constantly thinking about him. That's not to say that he didn't think of him from time to time. He had a nasty habit of popping up in Louis' dreams. There had been many a time that Louis would wake up in tears from dreams about the curly headed boy. The sad thing was that the dreams were always good and the reason that he would wake up crying was because they were only dreams and nothing more.

But it was Louis' goal to try to push him into the far recesses of his mind where he would only be a memory and not a painful ghost. Louis believed that he had two choices. One, he could sit around and mope and miss him until he died or, two, he could get over it and try to move on. Louis thought he was doing a pretty good job on option number two, but it was a fighting process. Everything around New York held a meaning for Louis that seemed to have his shadow lurking behind it. He wasn't even dead but he was still haunting Louis.

Louis had gotten a week off from Rachel for the trip to Doncaster. She offered more time but Louis turned her down. In an attempts to put his mind on something else, Louis had auditioned for several shows and had finally scored a role at a small-scale theatre. They were putting on a small production of Hairspray and he had gotten cast as Fender, which was basically a chorus member. It wasn't anything big but it was something to keep himself occupied. He only had one line but he didn't mind. It was something small to get him started in the whole universe of theatre. He started rehearsals the week after his Christmas break trip and he couldn't have been more excited.

Rachel had helped a lot. Not only with helping him find auditions and practicing for callbacks but also getting his mind off of him. They had become significantly closer after he disappeared from Louis' life completely. Louis had needed someone to talk to and Rachel was really accommodating. Louis found that she wasn't as easy to talk to as him but that couldn't be helped. Louis was in no position to be picky about his friends. Anything that was a distraction was welcomed with open arms.

When viewed from the outside, everything was going well. But it was below the surface where Louis felt the excruciating shards of hurt pulsating through his entire body. He felt like a dam with the water about to spill over the top. There was so much pressure within him building. Sometimes it took a lot of control to not just break down. Louis was fully aware of the cause of his pain. But there was something that bothered him more than anything else. It was a question that would echo over and over in Louis' mind.

Why does it hurt this much?

Chapter 38

"Harry! Harry!" Harry heard his name being called from the front door. Harry was currently in his underwear on the floor in his bedroom, all the lights off. A nearly empty bottle of vodka was sitting beside him. Harry had a notebook in his hands and he was scribbling a poem intently. It was a new past time of his. Some new way to emote without being vulnerable to anyone but himself, the pen, and the paper.

sometimes i find him

at the bottom of the glass

it's all i can do

"Harry!" It sounded like Paul.

"Go away," Harry shouted. The noise stopped from then on out so Harry guessed it had worked. Harry was pretty far gone and the world seemed to be buzzing but not enough because Harry could still feel his heart yearning for the boy he missed so dearly.

"Go away," Harry said again, this time in a harsh whisper and not directed towards Paul. He was talking to the dull aching sensation in his chest. As Harry took another sip from the clear bottle, he felt his stomach churn uneasily. He fought the urge to throw up.

The edges of his vision grew hazy as the world started to spin. Harry found himself staring up at the ceiling with no recollection of how he got on his back. He closed his eyes and wished the pain to stop. "Lou…" Harry called quietly as sleep overtook him. But even in his sleep, Louis' face was there taunting him. Harry had never wanted anything so bad in his life. He felt like his world completely revolved around Louis Tomlinson but he was gone so Harry was left to hopelessly float, forever lost in orbit.

Chapter 39

"Merry Christmas!" Jay squealed, throwing her arms around Louis. Dropping his bags, he returned the embrace and they held onto each other for a good few minutes. When she pulled away, she began to kiss his forehead repeatedly. "Mum!" Louis protested and wiped away the lipstick she had managed to smear on his forehead.

"Oh, you look so grown up!" she exclaimed, looking him up and down. Louis didn't feel like he looked any different. He was silent as his mother took a suitcase and brought it inside. She was rambling on about tonight's dinner and Louis took the opportunity to just look at his mom. She looked the same. Young, beautiful, energetic. A few lines on her face had grown deeper here and there but besides that, she hadn't changed at all.

"I'm so glad you're home," she said and smiled, her eyes crinkling in the corners from her giant grin. As she wrapped him in another hug, Louis heard a thundering and bellowing mass of girls screaming "Loooouis!" He saw that his sisters were all heading towards him in a giant mob. They tackled him and he fell to the ground. They all hugged him and kissed him on the cheek.

"How long are you staying?" Phoebe asked shyly, hiding behind her twin, Daisy.

"Well… how long can I stay?" Louis asked playfully, giving both Phoebe and Daisy's cheek a light pinch. Without responding, they ran off in a fit of giggles. They had gotten so big since he had left. It made him somewhat sad but also proud in a way.

That night, he ate dinner with everyone around the dining room table. There was a constant, incessant noise that filled Louis with warmth. He was home. After dinner, the girls were sent to bed and Louis decided to have a look around. As Louis went through the house, he recognized little pieces of the life he had left behind for New York. It was strange. Everything was so familiar yet so foreign. There were pictures on the walls that he didn't recognize and pieces of furniture that were brand new. He didn't mind so much that his house had changed. He just wished he could have said the same for his room. Although it was visibly neater, it was still the same. It was like he had never moved out. Just become really clean. The clothes he had left behind still hung in the closet and books and CDs were piled neatly on an unoccupied desk. His bed was perfectly made. It reminded him of water before someone disrupts it by splashing through it. He felt bad for disturbing the smooth surface but it had been a long trip and he was ready for sleep.

As he laid in between the cool sheets with the lights off, Louis thought he heard music. It was faint and unintelligible at first. But as Louis listened, it became more and more evident. It was his music. Louis stood from his bed and moved swiftly into the hallway. He found the source of the music coming from behind Felecite's door. He knocked and she cracked the door open. The music became louder and Louis felt his heart ache.

"Could you turn that off please?" Louis asked quickly and she nodded. She looked scared from the ferocity in which he had asked her the question. "Yeah," Felecity replied and quickly retreated back into her room. The music cut off and she peaked her head out once more. "What's wrong?" she asked, looking concerned. "You're shaking."

Louis looked at his hands and saw that they were indeed shaking. He took a deep breath. His pulse had been rushing but it was beginning to slow. Louis didn't know what came over him.

"I'm fine… Sorry. Goodnight," he said and walked back to his room. He felt his sister's stare gazing into his back but he didn't turn around. When he got back to his room, he hid himself under the covers, trying to escape the memories seeping their way through Louis' defenses. As much as he willed himself to not picture the curly headed boy in his mind, his face was there and smiling and taunting Louis with the fond memories in which he was once associated with, memories that were no more.

The next morning, Louis was awoken by a soft rapt on his door. His mother slowly opened the door and closed it behind her. His eyes tried adjusting to the light but they were having a hard time. He pushed his glasses on his face and attempted to wipe the sleep from his eyes. It was morning here in Doncaster but for Louis there was a big time difference and his body was still craving sleep. His mother sat on the edge of his bed and stared at him.

"Mum?" Louis asked, his voice groggy from sleep. She smiled but remained silent.

"Louis…" she started and pushed a lock of hair from Louis' face. "I just wanted to let you know that I love you. And you can tell me anything…" Louis got a strange feeling in his stomach. What is this about? He gave his mother a questioning look.

"I saw the pictures in all the magazines, Louis… with that boy," Jay continued. She seemed completely calm about the whole subject unlike Louis, who was feeling rather sick to his stomach from thinking about him again.

"I don't care, Louis. I love you regardless," she told him. Despite the nausea caused by the thought of him, Louis felt more confused.

"You don't care about what?" Louis asked. He had no idea what his mom was talking about. All he did know was that it had to do with him and that was the last thing he wanted to talk about.

"That… well, that you're… um, I mean, if you are…" Jays stuttered on trying to get the word out. Louis raised an eyebrow.

"If I am what?" he asked, pretty sure he knew where this was going.

"Well… gay," she said finally and the weight of the word lifted from her shoulders. Louis felt a small laugh bubble up inside of him.

"Mom, I'm not gay…" he told her. She looked at him a long time.

"Just... the way you looked at him in all of those pictures… What was his name? Ha-"

"He is just a friend," Louis said, cutting her off. "Well, he was…" Louis didn't feel like going into all the details, let alone with his mother. It was all in the past and Louis didn't feel like revisiting that place. Jay smiled like she had some big secret.

"What are you smiling at?" Louis asked, somewhat perturbed. She just shrugged her shoulders.

"Louis, I raised you. I know you better than you know yourself, love. I don't know what happened between you and that boy but I can tell that you aren't happy right now and I suspect that it has to do with him. I just want you to be happy. And I would never want to get in the way of that."

Louis felt a sudden but well-deserved wave of gratitude for the woman sitting before him. She had always done so much for him. He felt his throat thicken and he wrapped his mother in an embrace.

"Thank you, mum. If I ever have anything to actually tell you, I'll let you know," he told her with a small laugh. Downstairs, the phone began to ring.

"Mum! Phone!" a voice screamed up the stairs. Jay let Louis go and turned towards the door. "Answer it!" she yelled back. The ringing ceased.

"Lemme go see who's on the pho-" Jay started but then Lottie burst through the door.

"Who is it?" Jay asked, reaching her hand out for the phone but Lottie shook her head.

"It's for Louis," she said and handed him the phone. Louis stood from the bed and took the phone and answered. "Hello?"


"…Rachel?" Louis asked, recognizing the voice immediately. But it sounded different. There was something in the way she said his name. Something was wrong.

"Louis? Is that you? Oh, thank goodness. Louis… it's Harry… He's in the hospital…"

Chapter 40

The international pop-star Harry Styles was hospitalized Saturday in the early morning when he was found passed out in his hotel room. He was flown to St Thomas hospital immediately for life support where they resuscitated him after he stopped breathing for several minutes. His family arrived that day as well as his girlfriend, Eleanor Calder. Although the family did not have any comments, Eleanor did share that she was "very concerned for Harry and his family and [she was] just here to help." Calder was spotted leaving the hospital two times since Saturday, both times looking more tired than the other.

Styles condition was reported to be "stable but critical" this Monday. No official word has been received on whether the drinking rumor is true or not. For the past few months, Harry had been photographed in bars or at parties with drinks in hand. Some of his concerts had been rescheduled due to reasons "unexplained" which begs the question… Is Harry Styles an alcoholic? Has this been an ongoing problem for the superstar? What has this celebrity been hiding? Read the next issue and find out!

Eleanor threw down the magazine in disgust. She had never said that. She knew her managers had sent that in to the magazine for publicity. Well, I don't want your fucking publicity, she thought as she sat down once again in the waiting room. She had just gotten back from the store to get some food for Harry's mom and sister, who were currently sleeping a few seats down from where Eleanor was sitting. They had been up for two days straight before they had slept. Harry was still in the ICU. He hadn't woken up since he had passed out that night in the hotel room.

Eleanor bit her lips as she felt tears well up in her eyes. She wiped them away quickly and forced herself to pull it together. She had to be strong for Ms. Cox and Gemma. It wasn't fair for her to add to their stress. Plus, who was she to Harry anyways? Just some faux girlfriend. Just some cover up. Just some "beard" as some of the people on the Internet liked to call her. Although the words were true, they still cut like knives.

Anne's head bobbed up as she awoke. She stood immediately and walked to the nurses' station. She talked to a nurse sitting at a desk. Eleanor could hear the conversation from where she was sitting.

"Is there any news?" Anne had asked quickly. The nurse shook her head. Harry's mom just nodded and walked back to her seat next to Gemma. Eleanor stood with the plastic bags she had got from the store. She pulled out a sandwich and handed it to Harry's mother.

"Here. Eat this," Eleanor told her and Ms. Cox just looked at it a second before taking it. "Thank you," she said and started to nibble at the sandwich. "Any news?" Eleanor asked, knowing the answer. Anne shook her head and Eleanor nodded grimly.

"I got Gemma a sandwich too. It's right here if she wants it," Eleanor said placing the bag on the floor and sat back down in her respective place. She didn't want to bug Harry's family. Just help.

Eleanor sat down and looked around the waiting room. She saw Paul sitting there in a waiting room chair, silent and stoic as ever. He had been the one to find Harry. Of course, the rumors were true. Harry had become something of an addict as far as alcohol went. But Eleanor was not sure whether it was the alcohol that he was addicted to or the relief from some unknown, unmentioned, constant pain Harry felt. She had asked him to get help but he had ignored her. And now look where he was.

Eleanor knew she was fighting some losing battle. Harry didn't want her. He had made that clear without ever speaking the words. It hurt to know that but no matter how Harry felt about her, she was still in love with him. She grimaced as she admitted it to herself. Always wanting what I can't have, she thought. She stopped herself. She was being petty and her feelings were not the biggest thing at stake right now. Harry's life was on the line and all she wanted was everything to be okay.

She hadn't gotten to see Harry because only family was allowed in the ICU. She could only imagine how he looked. She was actually kind of glad that she couldn't see him in person. Eleanor didn't know if she could keep up her composure if she saw Harry in such a bad state.

But what Eleanor was most worried about was him. She had overheard Paul on Sunday trying to get a hold of someone and it only look her a few seconds to figure out who he was trying to reach. It was that boy. That Louis. The object of Harry's affections. The reason for Harry's spiral downward that led him to drinking. Louis, the one that was so much better than her. Eleanor had hoped that Louis would just fade away and there she would be, ready to sooth Harry whenever he came running to her. But that had never happened. She felt so ashamed. She just hoped he wouldn't show up. She hadn't gotten the courage to ask Paul if he was coming or not but something told her that no matter how much she didn't want Louis to walk through the hospital doors, he would. Because there was something special between those two boys and no matter how Eleanor felt about Harry, she wasn't going to be able to change anything. She wanted so badly to be in Louis' place. She sighed. Her world was silently falling apart but she couldn't complain because at least her world was not coming to an end, as Harry's very well could be.

Chapter 41

It had not been a question whether Louis was going to go to see Harry or not. It was just a matter of time. If he could have been there in a single second, that would still have been too long. Every inch of Louis' body itched with worry. The panic had spread throughout his entire being when he had heard those horrible words that seemed to slash his insides with a million tiny razors.

It's Harry… He's in the hospital.

The words echoed inside his mind, tormenting him. It was like a bad dream where he felt himself running but he was only standing still. There was not a place on earth that he would have rather been than by Harry's side. Louis completely forgot about any qualms he may have previously had. All that mattered now was Harry being well. There was no other alternative. There couldn't be.

Almost immediately after he had heard the news, Louis was on a train to London. His mother had not asked many questions. If Louis hadn't been so preoccupied with his mind creating worst-case scenarios, he would have argued with his mother that the only reason he was going was because his friend was in some kind of danger and somehow being there would help. But his mind found no use in arguing the point. All that mattered now was getting to Harry's side and fast.

The train ride felt years longer than it actually was. Louis felt that every second that went by was one second he had less, that somehow being by Harry's side would save him. Louis didn't know what exactly was wrong with Harry. Rachel hadn't gotten that much information from Paul when he had called for Louis. Just that Harry was in the hospital, he wasn't waking up, and that he thought Louis should know.

If he was being honest with himself, it was probably the worst news he had ever received. It by far trumped the X-Factor experience or even his parent's divorce. His heart had never beat this fast with such agonizing terror. He was so worried. He didn't know what to do or what to say. All he needed was to be with Harry. To see him. Even if it's one last time…

Louis stopped himself. He couldn't even begin to fathom a world without Harry Styles. Even if Harry had stopped being his friend, Harry was not the kind of person who didn't leave his mark. Although he had tried to hide it from himself, Harry had left himself all over Louis. Everywhere Louis went and everything that Louis did… Harry was there.

When the train came to a stop, Louis practically ran through the station to the streets, where he called a cab. "St Thomas Hospital" Louis told the driver who had stopped with some aggressiveness seeping through his tone. He couldn't help himself. He felt so close but not near close enough. It wouldn't be close enough until he was sitting by Harry's bed.

The cab driver started driving at what seemed like a glacial pace. Louis bit at his lip, trying to curb his anger. This man obviously didn't understand what he was going through. Louis tried to remain patient and calm but his mind finally got the better of himself. "Couldn't you drive any faster? I've got a friend possibly dying and you're taking the bloody scenic route," Louis snapped, an icy glare beaming from his eyes. The cab driver looked at Louis through the mirror for a few seconds. He seemed to be deciding whether to push Louis' buttons some more or drive faster. The car seemed to pick up speed so Louis guessed the cab driver had seen how serious he was being.

When they pulled up to the hospital, Louis dashed out of the car, throwing a wad of money on the floor of the cab. It was more than enough money. Louis just couldn't wait around for cub drivers to scuffle up change. Money wasn't what was important right now.

The hospital seemed so grand that it seemed impossible for Louis to find Harry in all the floors and rooms. But he ran anyway, only stopping occasionally for directions. He ran into a nurses' station where he immediately blurted out, "I'm looking for Harry Styles." This must not have been the first time the nurse had heard that question because she gave Louis a rather skeptical look. "I'm sorry. No fans are allowed to see Mr. Styles."

"Please just call and tell the body guard that Louis is here," Louis begged. He must have looked desperate because the nurse dialed a number into the phone.

"Does the name Louis mean anything to Styles' body guard? … Mhm… I'll wait," the nurse said, resting the phone between her ear and her shoulder. Louis felt like shouting at her but he tried to remain calm.

"Yeah?" the nurse answered, "Oh ok. I'll send him down." The nurse hung up the phone and wrote down a floor and room number. She handed Louis the slip of paper.

"He's in the ICU so you can't see him. But the body guard is in the waiting room," she told him. He was hardly paying attention because he was already off, running towards Harry, saying little, silent prayers in his head. He traveled up stairs and an elevator and finally reached the right floor. When the doors to the elevator opened, he bolted out, searching for some sign of Harry. He saw a figure sitting in a chair that looked like Paul but Louis paid no attention. He swept past the nurse's desk towards a pair of large, swinging doors.

"Sir, you can't go in there," a nurse called after him but Louis didn't hear what she had to say. He just wanted to see Harry so badly. Paul and several nurses started to walk after him in the calmest manner that they could manage, which was the equivalent of a rushed trot. But their feet could not keep up with Louis. He was almost to Harry's door and his heart was pounding, gunfire heartbeats propelling his blood through his body in rapid bursts. There was an ungentle thudding in his ears and a sickening pounding in his stomach as he caught glimpse of a bushy mane of hair through a small window. Louis pushed through the door and felt his whole body freeze.

Harry was lying in a bed, several tubes connected to his body in various parts. A large tube came out of his mouth and connected to some machinery on the other side of the bed. His skin had a slight pale, yellow hue to it and it looked paper thin, like the wrong noise could tear the fragile covering. His hair was unbrushed and unruly above his face, the face that so resembled a sleeping statue.

"Harry?" Louis asked, his voice a mere hoarse whisper. Harry did not budge at the mention of his name. Machines beside him were beeping slowly and a monitor showed that Harry' heart was indeed beating, despite his dead appearance that left Louis' throat dry and his body hollow. The nurses were all behind him now and he felt Paul tugging him backwards out of the room. Panic started to rise deep from within his chest and seemed to pulsate through every centimeter of his body. "He's having a panic attack!" a nurse shouted as they continued to remove him from Harry's room.

"No, please let me stay here! Please! I need to make sure he's okay. I need him to be okay!" Louis begged but no one listened. With Louis in their grasp fighting and kicking, they finally drug him out of the room and back into the hallway. Louis felt tears streaming down his face as he realized he was in Paul's arms on the floor, the large man patting his back in a soothing motion. Louis breathed sporadically, his breaths shallow and quick. He couldn't get out of Paul's grasp. "I need to be by his side," Louis cried, his voice desperate and pleading.

As he grew tired, Louis eventually stopped fighting Paul. Fresh tears were still falling from his eyes and he just couldn't stop saying Harry's name, echoing it in some strange, panicked chant. Louis knew that seeing Harry in that condition was going to be hard but he hadn't known just how badly it would affect him. Paul took Louis' face between his hands forcefully as Louis' panic attack refused to falter.

"Listen to me," Paul told him in a firm and demanding voice but Louis remained unresponsive. Paul shook Louis roughly and they met eyes, Louis' blue eyes wide with fear. "I need you to calm down. Harry needs you to calm down. Heneeds you to be strong right now."

Louis felt the world around him detach from his personal realm of consciousness. As Paul's face slipped away into a black void, the last thing Louis heard was the faint but distinctive sound of Harry's heart monitor.

Beep… Beep… Beep… Beep…

"Louis? Louis!" he heard Paul ask in a worried voice but he was in no way able to respond. Louis felt so distant from his own body.

Beep… Beep… Beep… Beep…

"We need a nurse!" Paul shouted but Louis was no longer awake.

Beep… Beep… Beep… Beep…

Chapter 42

Eleanor stared at the boy asleep in the chair beside Paul. He had rushed so quickly into the waiting room and through those doors that Eleanor had been told she was not allowed inside. Like he owned the place. Who does this Louis guy think he is? she wondered. He had just stormed in and expected to be treated like he was the only one in the world who cared about Harry. Well, he's not, Eleanor thought snootily. She was fully aware that she was being rather snarky. She had expected she would react this way. She had expected to be jealous of what this Louis and Harry shared. She had expected to want him to leave. She did not expect to be jealous of his features.

He was so beautiful. It was the undeniable truth as much as she didn't want to face it. He was so perfect. His features were almost feminine. He would make a prettier girl than me, Eleanor thought sadly. He looked like a Greek god with his perfectly tanned skin and perfect cheekbones. His hair looked so messy but perfect, like he had just woken up/walked out of the beauty salon. He was curled up in a chair, still passed out. Even in sleep, his arms were muscular and toned as they wrapped around themselves. If perfection was a person, it would have been this kid.

Paul had carried him in here, Louis unconscious in his arms. Eleanor had guessed that he had fainted or something along those lines. Paul had set him down at least an hour ago and Eleanor had been going on with this internal struggle between attraction and jealousy for the whole time. She kept wondering when he was going to wake up when she realized how horrid she must look. Regardless of the fact that she was in a hospital, she snuck away to the bathroom to tidy herself up. She could practically see the scornful expression on his face at her unkempt hair and her less than perfect features. Why am I being so insecure? she wondered.

She brushed her hair in some kind of attempt to make her look less ugly than she felt. She covered a few blemished with some makeup and put a little bit of eyeliner on. She wanted to look like she was naturally beautiful, like Louis was. As she applied the eyeliner, she felt her heart wither inside of her. She wasn't used to feeling so inferior. No amount of makeup would make Harry love her. No amount of makeup would make her more beautiful than Louis.

"Dammit!" she exclaimed, some tears stinging her eyes. She felt so childish. Harry was practically on his last leg and here she was in the bathroom crying over superficial things. She regained her composure and fixed any possible makeup that may have smeared in the process of crying. When she deemed herself pretty enough to face Louis, she put all her makeup back into her purse and walked out the bathroom, feigning some sense of calmness that was merely skin-deep. As she walked into the waiting room once again, she saw that the boy was up now. He was hunched over in a chair besides Anne now. They were deep in discussion and Eleanor thought it rude to interrupt. She sat down and kept her distance, trying to find things in her purse to keep herself occupied. She gasped in surprise when she saw that somebody had sat down beside her. At first, she thought it was Louis ready to tear her apart for trying to be anything better than him. But she saw that it was Paul and her breath that was caught in her throat released.

"Ms. Calder," Paul spoke. She looked up at him. He was so large that he seemed to tower over her in ways that she hadn't realized before. She almost laughed because she realized how much of a soft teddy bear Paul was. Not to say that he wasn't well equipped to partake in his body guarding duties. Quite the contrary. Paul was good at what he did. But he was also a really great guy. "Hi, Paul," Eleanor greeted the hulking man, looking up at him. As soon as their eyes met, Eleanor felt the tears starting to swell on her lower lids. A single tear fell and Paul wiped it away.

"What's wrong, darling?" he asked, his deep voice kind and nurturing. Eleanor shrugged, at a loss for words. Paul wrapped an arm around her and she leaned in and began to cry softly into his shoulder.

"Hey. Listen to me," Paul told her, "You are beautiful, okay? This thing with Harry, we all knew it wouldn't work out. But just because that one boy doesn't like you, doesn't meant that the world is over. You're going to be so happy someday, Ms. Calder." Paul stood and patted her on the back. "Here's a tissue." He handed her the tissue and she blew her nose. She laughed.

"You must think I'm such a silly little girl," Eleanor told Paul, her cheeks blushing. Paul shook his head. "What I'm about to tell you, you may not like at first. But you need to hear it. And you'll learn to love it." Eleanor nodded, preparing herself for the blow she knew was coming.

"If a man wants you, nothing can keep him away. If he doesn't want you, nothing can make him stay." With those words, Paul patted her on the shoulder and went back to his seat alone in the corner of the room. Eleanor felt like the bodyguard had punched her right in the stomach. She couldn't catch her breath. The words were so inevitable. So final and true. So hurtful and wounding. It was like a sword had cut her deep. Yet it was that same sword that she felt had just healed her. It was like the closure she had never expected to have. Paul's words were the ones she had been subconsciously waiting for.

Another tear fell from her eye but she knew it would be the last tear that she shed for herself over loving Harry Styles. The conclusion of her pain was finally here and she was accepting it with willing arms. There was only so much hurt that a girl could live through without breaking into something less than herself. Eleanor was happy she had gotten out of the black hole before she had changed into a bitter and hurting creature. She felt so much gratitude towards Paul. But he was pretending to sleep now, his head bowed and his eyes closed only opening once or twice to sneak a peek at the scene around him.

Now, all that was needed for life to be whatever amount of perfect that it could be was Harry to get better. She looked over at Louis who was still talking to Anne. He looked up and their eyes met. He smiled slightly, the edges of his lips turning upward. Eleanor smiled back. She had made Louis up to be this big monster in her mind when the monster was just cradled within her own mind. Now that the monster was slain, Eleanor stood and walked over to the boy. He stood as she outreached a hand. He shook it.

"Hi, I'm Louis," he told her. She nodded. "I know," she said and sat down beside him. He was quite a charming individual. She sighed silently as he talked to her. Good for you, Harry. You picked a good one to fall for, she thought to herself.

That night, as she left the hospital for the hotel, she gave Louis her number in case anything came up.

"It was nice meeting you," he told her as she began to walk down a hallway. She turned and smiled. "It was nice meeting you too." As she disappeared from his sight, she thought about the hell that those two boys were going to go through. No situation was perfect. Harry's career could suffer if they both held mutual feelings about each other. Harry would suffer if Louis didn't return the feelings. Louis would suffer if something happened to Harry. It didn't seem like much of a winning situation. She felt bad though. She just wanted Harry to be happy. There was one thing that did bother her thought. Eleanor hadn't been able to appropriately gauge whether Louis felt the same way that Harry felt towards him. Oh well, she thought, It's not in my hands. She silently gave up on the thought that she could control anything in this crazy life and, in that moment, she had never felt so free.

Chapter 43

Louis wasn't sure he had lied when he said that it was nice meeting Eleanor or not. On some level, Louis found some battered form of closure from seeing her face in person. It was the face that Harry preferred over Louis' and Louis had to respect that. Quite the opposite of Louis, Eleanor had been so cool and collected throughout this whole hospital situation. He could see that she was such a help to the family while all Louis could do was worry and produce tears. He wished he could be of more help but Harry's family needed something strong to hold on to. Not something like himself that was in such a fragile and emotionally unstable state.

Much to Louis' dismay, Eleanor was even prettier in person. Louis figured this was partial reasoning for Harry's supposed infatuation with the girl, which made Louis deeply want to dislike her. But if she made Harry happy, Louis guessed that he should try his best at liking her. But trying to decide upon his feelings for Eleanor was very low on his list of priorities at the moment. There were far more important things to worry about.

Louis waited impatiently for Harry to slip out of his indefinite slumber, every moment slipping by more excruciatingly painful than the last. He was nothing but a giant ball of nerves, his whole being under pressures that, until recently, he had deemed impossible to feel. The waiting room, with its white walls and foreboding silence, seemed to be a place of unrest. People sat around, dispersed in little clumps, with their burdens hanging over their heads, threatening to drop at any moments notice and crash their world to bits.

Refusing to leave the hospital, Louis found his bed in the waiting room chairs. His back was starting to ache from the uncomfortable makeshift beds but he didn't care. He was not going to leave this place until Harry got better. He seemed to share this belief with the woman that had identified herself as Harry's mother. When he had awoken from his rather embarrassing fainting spell, she had been there with a cup of coffee for him, silently waiting by his side. She had been the first to speak.

"Are you okay?" she had asked, her voice tired and strained from lack of proper rest. Louis looked at her, trying to put a face to a name but his memory came up blank.

"I'm Anne. I'm Harry's mom." Louis nodded. "I'm Louis." He was going to say that it was nice to meet her but it was not. Not in this situation. Not with Harry's life on the line. She handed him the coffee. Normally, he was a tea drinker but he needed something in his stomach. He took the coffee and drank it swiftly. It was scalding hot, but it warmed his insides. "Thank you," Harry said and Anne nodded.

"Are you that boy from New York?" Anne asked suddenly. Louis knew that it must have been the question she was waiting to ask the whole time. Louis nodded in confirmation.

"Yeah. I suppose I am…" Louis should have guessed that his mother would have seen the tabloids. Had Harry told her that they weren't true? Louis felt completely in the dark. He didn't think he had even heard Harry talk about his family.

"Those pictures…" Anne started but Louis cut her off. He wanted to clear everything up.

"It was just the paparazzi making it into something that it wasn't. I'm sorry if…" Louis was cut off by Anne's hand on his knee.

"That was the happiest I've ever seen my boy… I… I just wanted to say that… that… just, thank you," she finished after trying to find the right words to say. Louis didn't know what to say to her gratefulness. He hadn't done anything on purpose. At a loss for words, Louis was thankful that that had been when Eleanor had walked up to Louis to exchanged their first words.

Louis wasn't honestly quite prepared to handle Anne's words in his current state. But that didn't stop them from constantly swirling in his mind, that little but somehow monumental "thank you" echoing hauntingly. Harry was probably one of the best things that had ever walked into Louis' life. If anyone should be thanking anyone, it should be me, Louis thought.

Despite his whispered pleas to the head nurse, only family was allowed into the ICU on rare occasions. Anne and Gemma would go in there and return to the waiting room in tears. The only thing Louis could picture was Harry's unconscious body lying eerily still. All that Louis wanted was for Harry to finally wake up. It was the only thing keeping him on the brink of sanity. Harry had to wake up…

One night, during a particular uncomfortable round of sleep in the hospital waiting room chairs, Louis had a nightmare about Harry's funeral. It was one of the scariest things that Louis had ever experienced. Louis was all alone in the back of a giant cathedral, staring at an open, wooden casket near the front. Harry walked slowly down the middle aisle, the ominous wooden pews making a hallway for him to travel down. When he arrived at the coffin, he looked inside and saw Harry. He was wearing a suit and his hair was uncharacteristically combed in a proper manner that made him look more posh than Louis was used to seeing him. The visual of Harry dead made Louis fall to his knees. The sight of Harry in a coffin was heart breaking and altogether just too much for his heart to handle. He tried to scream but there was no noise and no one to hear him even if he could. He was all alone with the corpse of Harry Styles and it hurt worse than any pain he had ever felt in his life. It was like his stomach held heavy weights inside and his heart was splitting into two parts. But the nightmare was not over. When Louis stood to bid his final farewell to his best friend, there were droplets of blood sliding down the orifices of Harry's face. Louis watched as the blood began to quickly pool around Harry. The blood rose in the coffin, submerging Harry in the crimson liquid. Little ruby droplets began to spill over the top of the coffin and onto the floor. Terrified, Louis began to run away but there was already a thick layer of blood on the church floor, making it hard to run. Louis cried as the blood rose around him. It was not until after blood covered his face and swallowed him in a giant sea of red did Louis wake up, panting and covered in a thick layer of sweat.

He had gone to the bathroom and cried. It took at least an hour before the stream of tears stopped their heavy flow. When he finished, he looked in the mirror. He looked terrible. He was in the same clothes that he had worn when he had gotten there several days ago and his hair was way more messy than he would have liked on a normal occasion. Luckily, he wasn't that dirty or gross because there had not been too much physical activity in the hospital. Just waiting. Constant waiting. Waiting for something that could possibly never happen. Louis thought about it and surmised that if he had to, he would wait for ever. Harry was worth it.

Chapter 44

Beep… Beep… Beep… Beep…

pain lots of pain

it hurts

where am i


Beep… Beep… Beep… Beep…

where am i



where is louis

Beep… Beep… Beep… Beep…

so tired

blue eyes

where is louis

i want to see louis

Beep… Beep… Beep… Beep…

where is louis

i want to talk to louis

where am i

i miss you.

Beep… Beep… Beep… Beep…

i love you

im sorry

im so sorry

"Mr. Styles?" Harry heard a woman's voice say. The voice was faint and distant, almost as if he was underwater. "Harry? Harry!" The voice became louder and drew Harry closer to alertness. Not quite there, Harry tried to make something in his body move. He couldn't feel his own body. Maybe a little tingling sensation but that was it.

"Are you awake?" the same woman asked. The tingling sensation spread out and Harry became aware of his fingers. He willed them to move. It felt like they twitched somewhat but he couldn't be sure. He wasn't sure about anything right now.

Beep… Beep… Beep… Beep…

What's that beeping? Harry wondered. He tried to open his eyes but they seemed unwilling to open. With more force this time, he tried once again. The light seemed to flood in around him, surrounding him from all angles. He closed his eyes once again and returned to the darkness.

Beep… Beep… Beep… Beep…

"Mr. Styles! Can you hear me?" the woman asked again. Harry wanted to nod but his head felt like lead. He tried opening his eyes once again. It was less painful this time but no less bright. He kept his eyes open though and a white room began to sharpen into focus.

Beep.. Beep.. Beep.. Beep.. Beep..

The beeps grew quicker and Harry felt his heart racing. He tried to speak but there was something preventing him from doing so. The only thing he could do was remain where he was and listen to the near hysterical woman shouting, each word sending a sharp sting to Harry's brain.

"Doctor! He's awake! He's awake!"

Chapter 45

Louis' nightmares had not ceased ever since the night he had first dreamed of Harry and the bloody casket. The nightmares were all rather horrifying and Louis had not gone to sleep on purpose once since he dreamed the first awful dream. At first, sleep had been a solitude but now sleep had become something to fear. The sight of Harry dead was something that picked away at the very core of Louis' sanity. He could only deal with so much and the nightmares seemed to weigh down on him. Having slipped off to sleep several hours before, Louis gasped awake from a particularly horrifying dream where Harry's dead body was slowly turning into a swarm of bugs that began to tear away at Louis' skin. Louis had actually fallen from his set of chairs and onto the floor. The pain he felt as his body made contact with the cool floor was almost welcome. Anything but that awful realm where all of Louis' fears became animated.

Louis looked around to see if anybody around had seen him fall but Anne and Gemma were no where to be seen. Louis stood and looked around. Where was Paul? Where was Eleanor? That was when the panic set in. Louis couldn't help but feel that something horrible had happened. He began a steady trot over to the nurses' station but ended up running over there.

"Um… is he okay?" he asked, not sure he wanted to hear the answer. He didn't need to use a name. The nurses there all knew whom he was there for. "Mr. Styles has been moved to a different room. He woke up." Louis froze. Was he still dreaming?

"I… I can see him?" he asked. The nurse nodded with a wide grin and handed him a slip of paper with the room number on it. Louis couldn't react fast enough. After reading the slip of paper, he was gone, frantically and swiftly searching to hospital for the correct floor and room number. To his dismay, Louis had to go up on an elevator. It wasn't going nearly fast enough for his liking but he couldn't help but notice his stomach tingling from the distance that he was closing between himself and Harry. He was so close. Elevator music hummed quietly while Louis was nearly bursting with excitement. This meant Harry was going to be okay! He had woken up! Everything was going to be okay!


The elevator door opened with a mechanical whir and Louis came face-to-face with Mr. Barker. Louis gasped involuntarily and his eyes widened. No, no, no. This isn't how it's supposed to go, Louis thought, eying the hateful man.

"Louis, Louis," Mr. Barker clicked his tongue, boarding the elevator. Louis tried to get off but Barker held him back with a wave of his hand. He clicked the button for the lobby and they started to descend. Louis grimaced as he lost distance from Harry. "You just can't take a hint, can you?" Barker asked and Louis felt his breath catch in his throat.

"I'm here to see Harry," Louis said dumbly. It was all he could say. His mind didn't seem to be working at its normal speed.

"Louis. I'm sorry to be the one who has to tell you this but… Harry doesn't want to see you," Barker told the boy coolly, a fake expression of pity painted on his face. Louis felt a pang in his chest. It was as he feared. Louis had thought that everything could go back to the way it was before Harry started ignoring him. I guess this didn't change anything, Louis thought. Barker patted Louis on the back and Louis cringed at his touch.

"It's not your fault. He's just embarrassed by you. You're bad for his image," Barker told Louis.


The elevator reached the lobby and the doors opened. "Will you at least tell him I stopped by?" Louis asked the man. The man nodded sincerely. "Of course! Harry would have told you that he was done with you himself but he's still very sick and still very tired. You understand, don't you?" Louis nodded and exited the elevator. He couldn't say anymore. Tears were stinging his eyes and a large lump formed in his throat. A tear fell down Louis' cheek as he began to walk away.

"Goodbye, Louis!" Mr. Barker shouted after him and Louis turned to see the elevators doors close, but not before Barker issued a wicked sneer. Louis wiped a few tears away but it was no use. They kept coming and Louis didn't care.

Louis straightened his posture and stuck his nose in the air. He needed Harry, that much was true. But if Harry didn't need him (or even want him), then fine. Louis would just have to move on. Although Louis knew that he needed to move on, he wasn't sure he could. But I can put on a damn good show trying," Louis thought to himself and exited the hospital. He hailed a cab and asked for the train station. On the way to the station, Louis tried not to cry but he broke down, sobbing in the back of the cab. Why does this hurt so bad? Louis wondered. But at that point, it didn't matter. All that Louis could feel was the dull ache deep in his chest where his heart had surely ripped into two.

I thought I meant more than this to you, Louis thought. You mean so much to me.

"I guess not," Louis said aloud, his voice cracking from the pain he felt from so deep within himself. There was no point in wiping away the tears. They weren't stopping anytime soon.

Chapter 46

"You mean… he just left?" Harry asked Mr. Barker, his voice filled with obvious hurt. Mr. Barker shrugged. "He said the only reason he came was because he felt bad and wanted to make it right if you would have… well…" Barker trailed off.

"Died," Harry finished. Barker nodded grimly. "He told me how hard it was when the two of you lost contact. He got so angry at you for it but now he's at peace, he said. I'm sorry to be the one to have to tell you this, Harry, especially in this state, but he doesn't want you to talk to him again. He was quite... firm in his standings. I'm sorry," Barker finished. Harry felt the tears welling up in his eyes. This wasn't his fault. This was Barker's fault for cutting him away from the best thing that had ever happened to him.

"Maybe it's better just to move on, hm? Forget about it all," Barker suggested. Harry scoffed involuntarily at the very idea of Barker's suggestion even being capable.

"It's kinda hard to forget about someone who gave me so much to remember," Harry said, his voice no more than a soft but pained whisper. Barker pretended not to hear him and continued on with his own conversation.

"I know this is a lot to put on you right after you've woken up but I must prep you on the schedule for your return to work. After this whole catastrophe with you going off and putting yourself into a coma, you're going to go to a rehab center for some undetermined time. We'll have a press release saying just how much you want to get over your alcohol addiction and move on with the new chapter of your life and blah blah blah. After you spend a considerable amount of time 'improving yourself', you'll be back on the tour where we left off before your little incident. Which is costing the company thousands, by the way," Barker added but Harry had stopped listen for quite some time. All he could think of was Louis and those blue eyes that he missed so dearly. He had never even gotten to tell Louis how he really felt. And he was never going to stop feeling the passion and love he felt for that boy that had popped up in his life at such a needed time. Right when Harry thought he was going to lose it, Louis had helped him once again and everything in the world had been right for once. Harry had only recently learned that he could love and now he was going to have to learn to live without. It wasn't fair that he would never even get a chance to try to make something more out of their friendship. Harry had mentally prepared himself to live in the constant, painful realm of mere friendship but now he was not even going to get that chance. All because of that bastard, Barker, Harry thought, his head pounding and his teeth grinding angrily. Along with his raging anger came a dull, heavy sadness with a sense of utter hopelessness that made Harry want to scream.

"Harry? Did you hear me?" Barker asked. Harry kept his mouth firmly shut. He felt that if he opened it even the slightest, he would scream horrible things that he would regret.

"I said," Barker repeated, "The doctors are releasing you in a week. We'll get everything packed for the rehab center and have it waiting for you."

"Can I go see him?" Harry asked, his voice barely audible. Barker crinkled his nose and shook his head.

"Let's stop while we're ahead, Harry. You don't want to embarrass yourself." It pained him to admit it but, for once, Harry felt that Barker was right. It was going to be hard though. This whole thing with Eleanor had shown him one thing. It was hard to pretend that he was in love with someone but it was even harder to pretend that he wasn't.

Anne was sitting on her son's bedside. He was asleep and she was watching him take little breaths. She smiled. He looked so much like he did when he was just a child. His fringe was dangling in his face so she slid a graceful hand to swipe the curls out of his eyes. He stirred in his sleep and his eyes blinked several times before fully opening.

"Mum?" Harry asked, his voice groggy from sleep. Anne smiled. She loved seeing his green eyes peering up at her. She had been so afraid that she would never see those green eyes again that seeing them now seemed like a miracle within itself.

"Morning, love," Anne whispered to her son. She was just so happy that he was alive. Sometimes, she would just burst into tears of happiness because he was right here and he was awake and he was hers to love forever.

"Mum… have you ever had your heart broken?" Harry asked quietly, avoiding eye contact with the woman that had raised him. Anne looked at him for a moment and then nodded.

"How did it feel?" Harry asked, his voice barely audible he was speaking so low and quietly. Anne thought for a moment.

"It felt like nothing in the world was never going to be alright again," she said truthfully. Harry nodded, his lower lip puckering and his forehead creasing.

"That feels about right," Harry said nodding and tears started to fall from his eyes. He finally made eye contact with his mother and it all came out. "Mum," he said, his voice cracking. She pulled him into a tight embrace and he held her with an iron grip, his shoulders heaving with violent sobs. Anne was crying now too. She hated seeing her son in such a heart-sick state.

"But I'll tell you a secret," Anne whispered in her son's ear. "It does get better. Everything will be alright again." Harry pulled away and looked at her, his eyebrows turned upward and tears still streaming down his face.

"When you're father left us, I thought I would never be happy again. But look at me. I have a beautiful daughter and a amazingly handsome son, who is an international celebrity. It was better this way. Everything will be alright, Harry. I promise," she soothed him, holding his face in her hands. Anne embraced her son again and they did not part until someone interrupted them several minutes later.

"Alright, Mr. Styles," the nurse said, "You're all ready to be checked out." Harry was out of bed and dressed in normal clothing. It had been a while since he had worn pants and a shirt. He had honestly gotten used to the open-backed hospital gown. He almost preferred the freedom.

Once Harry was officially checked out from the hospital, he had to say goodbye to his mother, sister, and Eleanor. Paul was waiting only a few feet away to escort Harry out to a car that was waiting for him. He went to Eleanor first and wrapped her in a hug.

"Thank you for everything, Elle. It means a lot," he told her. She smiled and squeezed him tightly. "Good luck, Harry. In all that you do."

Eleanor walked away with her parting words. Next it was Gemma's turn. He hugged his sister tightly who cried.

"I love you, Harr," she told him through the tears and he kissed her on the cheek. "I love you too, Gemma." Harry pulled away and turned to his mom. Without saying a word, they embraced and she pulled away only to kiss his forehead. "I love you so much, Harry. I'm so proud of you," she said, tears brimming around her eyes. Harry felt the sting of tears. "I love you. I'm so sorry," he apologized and hugged her again. This time, she pulled away and retrieved a small slip of paper from her jeans pocket. She took the slip and tucked it away into his jeans pocket.

"Are you ready, Mr. Styles? We have a plane to catch," Paul asked, taking Harry's mind off of what his mother had just slipped into his pocket. Harry took the hint. He turned to his mom and his sister. "I guess I'll see you after I get back… Goodbye. Love you all." He gave them one last round of hugs and, with a crooked smile, Harry walked out the door with Paul at his side. He turned once only to wave to his family and then he was gone.

Harry looked out the window of the plane. Soon, he would be landing in Dublin and on his way to a rehab center. Paul was sitting beside him, his focus primarily on a thick book he held in his hand. The city of London was staring back at him from the window and Harry thought about his mom who was no doubt on her way back to Doncaster with his sister.

"Oh!" Harry exclaimed outwardly, receiving a somewhat perturbed glance from Paul. Harry had quite forgotten about the little slip of paper his mom had stuffed in his pocket at the last second. He reached into his jeans and pulled it out, unfolding the crumpled thing.

You have to fight for what you love.


P.S. He's back in NY

Harry felt his mouth gape open. Although he had not been exactly candid with his mother about his heartbreak, she had put the puzzle pieces together and guessed it. Harry shrugged. His mother really did know him too well sometimes. More than that, he was shocked at her acceptance of his affections. She really did love him unconditionally.

"This is going to cost me my job, isn't it?" Paul's voiced asked over Harry's shoulder. Harry looked at him, an unspoken question glinting in his bright, emerald eyes.

Chapter 47

To put it nicely, Louis' birthday and Christmas had not been filled with too much happiness. He had tried his best to plaster a smile on his face and, for the most part, he believed he had pulled it off. He had told his mother that everything was fine. It was mostly the truth. As far as Harry was concerned, everything had turned out fine. He had woken up and that's all that mattered. However, Louis left out the part about his own personal wounds. He felt that his mom didn't need to worry herself over something that couldn't be fixed.

When it came time for Louis to return to New York, Louis felt like he was ready to go. A part of him needed to mourn Harry's friendship alone. He needed to start working again and keep his mind busy. Plus, rehearsals for Hairspray started soon and Louis looked forward to that as the ultimate tool of placing his focus away from Harry. Louis felt ready for some new chapter in his life, one that didn't contain international superstars that popped up out of nowhere to only leave him with an ache in his heart and painfully fond memories.

During the inevitable round of goodbyes, Jay had pulled Louis to the side. "Are you sure you're okay, Louis? You know you can stay longer." Louis knew but it was an offer he could not accept. "I've got my musical to go back to or I would," he told his mother. She nodded, sadness in her eyes. Louis wrapped her in a hug and she whispered in his ear, "I love you, my son. I'm going to miss you. Call me if you need anybody to talk to."

"I love you too, mum," Louis told her, and with that final goodbye, he was on his way back to New York. To make the plane ride as painless as possible, Louis slept most of the way there. He had first tried listening to music but each song that he played only threatened to peal off a fresh scab. Seeing that he was on an airplane and all, Louis felt like it would be inappropriate and a tad bit awkward if he had started getting overly emotional on the plane.

Although, Louis did notice that he was being rather calm about the whole situation. Normally, where he would have felt completely heartsick and hurt, he just felt numb. The fact that he felt nothing alarmed him. Am I just used to it now? Louis wondered as he tried to find some comfortable position to fall asleep in. When he finally felt like he had reached an adequate spot for sleeping, Louis let himself drift off to sleep where his dreams would hopefully provide him with some false sense of comfort that the real world could not.

Louis treaded up the stairs of his apartment building with his luggage in hand. He was grumbling unpleasant curses under his breath as he navigated the slim staircase, often hitting the walls or getting caught up on the railing. This would result in a fit of particularly colorful curses.

"The one time I've got luggage and the bloody elevator is broke," Louis barked to no one in particular as he neared the door that allowed him to his floor. Maneuvering the suitcases around he managed to squeeze through the doorway and into hallway.

"Lou?" a familiar voice said towards the end of the hallway, near Louis' door. Louis froze, his back turned to the voice he knew so well. In denial, Louis hesitated before turning around. But sure enough, as Louis slowly rotated, a crop of light chocolate curls came into view. For a moment, they both sat there and stared, not saying a single syllable.

"Hi…" Louis finally greeted the boy. Is he here to end the friendship in person? Louis wondered, horrified. He didn't know if he could hold it together.

"Erm… Hi," Louis heard Harry mumble in that familiar way.

Although they were on opposite ends of the hall, Louis saw Harry crack a little half-smile. It was that defining moment when a crooked smile suddenly made everything all right again. Louis's luggage dropped to the floor with a clatter as Louis sped down the hallway towards the curly headed boy standing in front of his apartment door. Everything that had previously happened with Harry ignoring him and not wanting to talk to him again was suddenly no longer an issue. As he approached, Louis could see the younger boy's eyes glistening their emerald sheen and Louis felt like everything was going to be okay again. Unabashed, Louis threw his arms around Harry and pulled him in for a tight and long over-due embrace.

Chapter 48

Harry had been sitting in front of Louis' door for several hours when he had heard the racket coming from the bottom of the stairwell. Although it could have been a number of people, Harry had a strange feeling that it was that one person he was looking for. As the banging grew louder, a familiar voice throwing around curses could be heard. Harry grinned. That was definitely Louis' voice.

But as Louis drew nearer, Harry stood and began to pace. "Shit, shit, shit…" Harry repeated over and over. He was so nervous. Last he had heard, Louis didn't want to have anything to do with him. But he had a plan and hopefully, it would work and all would be restored.

Louis, with several suitcases in hand, emerged from the stairwell. Immediately, Harry's stomach dropped. It had been so long since he had seen Louis. Desperately, Harry began to search his mind for something witty to say but he panicked at the last moment.

"Lou?" The name came out sounding like a question and Harry cursed himself. Get it together, you fool, Harry begged his brain. Louis slowly turned around, his eyes searching for the source of who called his name. When he finally made eye contact with Harry, his face was unreadable and it was driving Harry crazy.

"Hi…" Louis said and his very voice made Harry's flip. Harry gulped.

"Erm… Hi," Harry said lamely. Harry strived to find something more to say but he was too fixated on seeing Louis. It had been so long and just the sight of him brought a smile to Harry's face. All of a sudden, Louis dropped his luggage and began to race towards him. Harry's heart began to beat as an idea popped into his head.

Kiss him. Kiss him, please. Just do it. Be brave. Kiss him.

The idea was so deliciously tempting but, at the same, completely terrifying. Harry watched as Louis sped towards him, completely unaware of what his own body would do. He willed himself to reach out his hand and grab Louis face for the kiss that he had only dreamed about. But instead, he found his limbs and body unresponsive until Louis caught him in a giant hug. Completely overwhelmed with happiness, Harry squeezed the older boy back and they just sat there like two fools, hugging. Harry didn't care that he hadn't kissed him. They were together and that was all he needed for the moment.

"What are you doing here?" Louis asked when he finally pulled away from the embrace. His blue eyes were lit with curiosity and they stared deep in Harry's eyes. "I thought that you didn't want to see me ever again…"

"Uh… what?" Harry asked, his eyes narrowing as the gears inside his mind started to click into place.

"You told Barker that you didn't want me around…" Louis said but it started to sound more like a question. Harry shook his head and stammered.

"Um... no, not at all. Barker told me that you didn't want to talk to me ever again…" Harry trailed off as he realized the common factor in their dilemmas. They stared at each other, a bit unsure about what this meant for them. Harry noticed Louis was rather close to his own face. Harry knew he should have felt mad that Barker had tricked them both into almost never seeing each other again but with Louis in such close proximity, all his other thoughts dissipated.

"Harry?" Louis asked quietly, his voice a whisper. If they hadn't been so close, Harry didn't think he would have been able to hear Louis.


"Did you get tired of me? Is that why you stopped talking to me?" Louis' eyes looked painfully sad and the look that Louis was currently giving Harry was ripping his heart into several pieces.

"God, no. Louis, it was Barker. It was all Barker. Of course I wanted to see you and talk to you. But he kept me away." Louis stared into Harry's eyes as if gauging the amount of truth in what he had just been told. There was some emotion swimming behind Louis' eyes that Harry couldn't quite make out.

"That little fucker!" Louis yelled, revealing to Harry exactly what that emotion that he had seen was. It was Louis' angry side and a side that Harry had never seen before and, if he was being honest, it was a little bit amusing. Louis stormed down the hallway towards his luggage, cursing at the top of his lungs. "Do you know how bad I've felt ever since you left? When we started talking again, everything was bloody perfect. And then Barker had to go and fuck with things," Louis roared as he picked up his luggage and made his way back to his apartment door.

"The damned fool had no right! He can't just take you away and then lie when I thought you were going to- well, you're alright now. And that's all that matters. But the bloody fool had no right!"

Louis continued his rant as he managed to open the door to his apartment and barely squeeze through with Harry following in after him. Harry closed the door quickly before the neighbors got too worried about all the yelling.

"He had me thinking I was never going to see you again. I should have punched him in the bloody face, that little wanker. I swear, if I ever see him again... It was bad enough that I missed you something awful without having to worry about-"

"You missed me?" Harry asked, his green eyes wide. Louis looked at the younger boy for a second before answering.

"Yeah. I did."

Harry tried to suppress a smile but was doing a poor job.

"What are you smiling about, Styles?" Louis asked, a slight smile already tugging at his own lips.

"I missed you too, is all," Harry said and, with mutual avidity, they embraced again.

"Don't you ever do that to me again," Louis whispered in Harry's ear.

"Do what?"

"Going off and getting yourself hospitalized. You scared me near to death," Louis told the younger boy. "You have a lot of explaining to do."

"I know," Harry said and with a deep sigh, he began the account of his side of the story. The very story that had brought him here once again. He watched as Louis took in the words with little nods and a quick comment here and there. Those blue eyes rested on his and, in that moment, Harry was happy because he was with the one person who could make everything right again.

That night, they lied in Louis' bed facing each other, speaking in hushed tones and smiles seemingly permanently stuck on their faces. They still had so much to tell the other that they felt it unnecessary to part for an act as simple as falling asleep. Harry was so extremely happy to be lying next to the other boy. It didn't matter to Harry that they weren't touching, although Harry was sure that even the simple act of holding hands would greatly make the experience better. All he really, truly needed was Louis and there he was, looking right into Harry's eyes and recounting anything and everything that Harry had missed from being absent from his life.

"Harry?" Louis asked when there was finally a lull in the conversation as both boys were silently threatening to succumb to sleep.


"I'm glad you're here."

"Louis… there's no place I would rather be."

Harry decided that Louis looked rather beautiful caught in the arms of sleep. He watched as the boy took little shallow breaths that made him seem so vulnerable, the morning light splashing against his golden skin. Harry wanted nothing more than to nudge his head over a small distance and brush his lips again the older boy's. Get a grip, Harry told himself.

If Harry told Louis that he was in love with him, things could go horribly wrong and Louis might never talk to him again. But if things went well…. Well, Harry didn't want to think too much about it. He didn't want to get his hopes up for the impossible. That was practically begging for heartbreak.

"Louis… Lou… Wake up," Harry whispered warmly, a wide grin on his face as Louis grumbled and stirred from his slumber. He peaked his eye open and saw Harry smiling at him.

"What are you so chipper about?" Louis asked, his voice deeper than usual from sleep. Harry shrugged.

"It's my turn," Harry told the older boy. Louis stretched and Harry watched as his arms flexed. Harry bit down on the inside of his cheek. Louis was going to be the death of him and he didn't even know it.

"Your turn?" Louis asked, curious as to what the curly headed boy was going on about.

"To treat you to New York," said the younger boy, a beaming smile radiating across his whole face.

"Well, I must say… This smells rather bad," Louis commented, sending Harry into a fit of laughter. They were sitting next to each other, their shoulders bumping together every time the carriage hit a bump in the road. Harry did have to admit that the horse smelled particularly like fresh dung. But the little nudge from the shoulder beside him served as a reminder of Louis' presence and the smell quickly became overlooked.

At first, Harry had thought that the whole horse-drawn carriage bit was a little too romantic, as if the whole get-up would betray his secret. But, thankfully, Louis had just crawled into the carriage with a simple "I've never ridden in one of these things before." Then came the dilemma of which side to sit on. To Harry's dismay, the carriage had two bench-like sitting areas that faced each other. Flustered, Harry sat on the seat opposite Louis. Stupid, stupid, stupid! Harry scolded himself for his lack of courage. But to Harry's extreme delight, Louis stood from his previous seat and sat beside Harry.

"You weren't gonna leave me over there all by myself, were you?" Louis teased. Harry let out a laugh but was silently thanking the heavens. They sat next to each other, watching the city slowly pass by, small little snowflakes falling around them. Louis was talking about some upcoming show that he was going to be in called Hairspray and Harry made a mental note to definitely get tickets to see Louis in it.

"It's so cold! How are you not freezing?" Louis asked, staring at Harry's exposed hands. Harry was freezing but he didn't want to seem like a baby. The truth was that he hadn't packed very much because he had been in such a rush. At the moment, he was cursing himself for not packing gloves or mittens of some sort.

"You're fingers are nearly purple!" Louis commented, taking off his own gloves. He quickly put his hands on top of Harry's and then stuffed them into Louis' thick jacket pockets in a way that forced them to face each other. Harry was caught off guard by the sudden flash of blue eyes and golden skin. He could feel himself staring longingly into those oceans of blue and, in that moment, he didn't care. Because Louis was staring back. Harry's gaze flickered downward to Louis' lips. Is this the right moment? Harry wondered, Louis' lips slowly persuading him to kiss them.

"So, how long have you two been together?" the rough voice of the carriage driver asked. Both Harry and Louis jumped, startled. The two boys hadn't noticed that they had stopped and were at their destination until the carriage driver had finally spoken up.

"Um… we're not… he's not…" Harry stuttered on his words, trying to explain the painfully obvious.

"Two years this- what is it, darling? This February, I think it is," Louis was casually lying to the carriage driver. Harry was- without much success- trying to stifle a laugh.

"Well, congratulations. It's gonna be me and the wife's thirty-second anniversary this June," the driver explained. As Louis stood and stepped down from the carriage, all the while continuing with his little charade.

"Oh, we can't wait until our thirty-first, can we Harold?" Louis helped Harry down from the carriage by wrapping his arms around his waste, lifting him up, and then slowly turning him in a circle before setting him lightly to the ground. Harry let out a little, unintentional giggle. Louis winked at him and Harry realized that he must have thought the giggle was all part of the act. Harry's cheek flushed and he tried to turn away but he felt Louis' arm wrap around his waste, locking him in his position beside the older boy.

"Well, good luck to the both of you," the driver said. "It's not often that I see two young folk like yourselves who look at each other like that." The man climbed back onto the carriage.

"Sir!" Harry called, reaching into his pocket and pulling out his wallet. "I forgot to pay!"

"Oh, don't worry about it. It's on the house," the man said, a kind smile looking down on the curly headed boy. Harry pulled out two hundred dollar bills out of his wallet and stuffed them into the man's pocket.

"No, I insist. I appreciate it more than you know," Harry said in a lower voice, making sure Louis did not hear. The old man tipped his hat and left the two boys standing on the sidewalk alone. Harry slowly turned to face Louis, who was still grinning about the little act they had put on.

"Oh, Mr. Styles!" Louis cried playfully, planting a large smooch on Harry's cheek. This boy is going to kill me, Harry thought as Louis' lips left his face. Harry was momentarily torn between the agony of needing more than just a kiss on the cheek and the ecstasy of having Louis' lips on his face.

"You're quite the actor," Louis joked. "Maybe you should have considered a career in the film industry. Since, you know, this whole singing career thing… you'll never make it, I'm afraid!" They both laughed at the idea of Harry being an actor.

"C'mon! Let's go inside. We're going to freeze to death out here."

"I'm not going to tell you!" Harry whined in protest for probably the twentieth time. Louis looked at the boy from the across the table. He had his arms crossed in a serious manner but his face was mischievous and a wicked smile played across his lips.

"Harry. We are just two guys, hangin' out. Just chillin. My brotha'! You can tell me."


"How many?" Louis asked again. He had dedicated the last good hour trying to get Harry to tell him how many girls he had slept with but Harry would not budge.

"How many have you slept with?" Harry asked, a little bit too curious for his own good.

"Two," Louis answered simply. "See how easy that was? Now. Tell me." Harry just shook his head.

"Please? Pretty please?"


"How many girls?" Harry didn't answer.

"How many boys?" Harry sputtered on his drink as Louis began to laugh. "None!" Harry assured his friend.

"Only joking," Louis said and then continued on with his endeavor. "Why do you want to know?" Harry asked. "I'm just curious," was Louis' reply. Harry had hoped that there was some underlying reason for Louis wanting to know but he was pretty positive that it was just his friend being a pain in the arse.

"Please tell me," Louis asked again. It was an hour and a half later and the older boy had yet to cease his begging. They were walking through a little park that had been close to the restaurant. There were Christmas lights still adorning everything despite the fact that Christmas had just ended, making everything shimmer with a fantastical gleam.

"Louis, I'm not going to tell you," Harry said, once again refusing. Louis jutted out his bottom lip in a pout and dramatically made his way over to a park bench where he sat with arms crossed and a pitiful face intact. Harry almost told him right then and there because it was so incredibly hard for him not to give Louis what he wanted. But Harry grabbed on to whatever stubbornness he would find and held on for dear life.

"Harry, I don't see why you won't tell me," Louis said sadly, grabbing Harry's hands between his own. For extra measure, Louis lifted his eyebrows in mournful expression and protruded his lip out even more. It was the contact with Louis' soft hands that did it because Harry's defenses completely shattered with the touch.

"Erm… well… none, I suppose," Harry finally let out, looking away from Louis. He could feel his face flushing and he was grateful that the sun was not out for Louis surely would have seen his fiery cheeks.

"Are you serious?" Louis asked, genuinely shocked. Harry bobbed his head slightly in confirmation.

"A guy like you? Have you ever had a girlfriend?" Louis wondered.

"Yeah. Once or twice. But nothing serious."

"You are no doubt the only international pop star in the world that is still a virgin, mate." Harry cringed at the word virgin. It sounded so harsh.

"Well… I just wanted the first time to be… well, special."

Louis looked at the younger boy who was sitting beside him. "Styles, you are one odd little bugger," Louis told him with a warm smile. That smile caused Harry's cheeks to flush even worse. Harry stuck his hands in his jacket and made contact with a small, rectangular package.

"Oh. Merry Christmas, by the way," Harry said, sneaking the box out of his pocket and sliding into Louis' hand. Louis looked shocked at the box.

"Oh, Harry. I didn't get you anything…" Louis said, somewhat ashamed that he hadn't thought to get the curly headed boy anything.

"You don't need to," Harry said, feeling a strange boldness deep within him raise, "You being you is by far the greatest present I could ever ask for." Louis smiled, a slight blush on his cheeks. His blue eyes were twinkling with the Christmas lights strewn about the park and their deep gaze didn't leave Harry's for quite some time.

"Well, go one and open it," Harry pressured and Louis dropped his gaze to the present. He tore back the paper to reveal the box. Ever so carefully, he opened it.

"Oh, Harry…" Louis sighed, pulling out a stack of airplane tickets. He held them in his hands as if they were more fragile than they really were. Harry caught himself beaming but he didn't care.

"It's a bit selfish of me, actually," Harry admitted, "Most of the tickets are so you can come visit me whenever I'm back in England and on tour and whatnot."

"Most?" Louis asked quietly. Harry smiled as he realized that this was the first time he had ever heard Louis talk so little.

"Well, yes. Um… the last two tickets… They're for Paris, Louis… For me and you," Harry told his friend, making eye contact with the older boy. Louis just stared at the curly headed boy, his mouth gaping open in awe. From where Harry was sitting, he could see the little crooked tooth on the bottom row of Louis' teeth. Harry was particularly fond of that crooked tooth. It was unique and against the grain and special. It reminded him so much of Louis.

"The Paris tickets are for this summer. In July. I won't be busy. But, I mean, if you are, I can reschedule them… It's not a big deal, really. I mean, you don't have to come to the other ones either… I was just-"

Louis pressed a finger to Harry's lips to quiet him.

"Thank you," was all Louis could manage and wrapped the younger boy in a tight hug. Harry returned the hug, his head resting in the crook between Louis' neck and shoulder. Harry felt that he could have stayed in the embrace forever. I love you so much, Harry wanted to tell the older boy but he couldn't get his mouth to form the words.

"No, thank you," Harry whispered instead, his voice almost inaudible. When they finally pulled away, Harry saw that Louis' eyes were a bit red.

"Have you been crying?" Harry asked, incredulously. Louis wiped his eyes quickly.

"No," Louis lied, looking away.

"So, you like it then?" Harry asked, still worried that the present had been too much.

"Like it? I love it!" Louis exclaimed, rising from the bench. He began to run around the park, waving the tickets in the air, screaming "I'm going to Paris, baby!" at the top of his lungs.

Although Harry had offered another horse drawn carriage ride back to Louis' apartment, they settle for a cab for Harry's sake. His winter garb was definitely not up to par for battling the cold weather that New York was so forcefully thrusting upon them. While in the cab, Harry had tried shivering away the cold to no avail. Harry was quite thankful when Louis pulled him in attempts to warm him up. Harry wasn't sure if it was Louis' body temperature or just the fact that Louis was so near, but he eventually got warm. However, he did not tell this to Louis, who still had his arms wrapped around the younger boy. Harry wanted this moment to last forever, with Louis' arms wrapped around him like it was nothing. But it was something to Harry. It was everything. Everything in the whole, wide world.

"You know what I've just realized?" Harry heard Louis' voice say in the darkness. Once again, the boys were sharing the bed and Harry was staring at where Louis' figure would be if not for the lack of light.

"What?" Harry whispered. In his mind, Harry was envisioning a world where Louis would confess his mutual love.

"You're my best friend," Louis told the curly headed boy and, even though it was not what the younger boy had hoped for, the news still made his stomach clench in nervous pleasure.

"I know," Harry said, a smile on his lips. He was glad Louis could not see him because he knew that he was grinning like an idiot.

"Oh, you do?" Louis snorted, shifting his body closer towards Harry. Although he couldn't see, Harry could feel Louis' eyes on his face.

"Well, yeah. Because you're my best friend too. And best friends know that kind of thing about their best friends," Harry explained and the older boy chuckled. Harry had once heard a saying that a man should marry his best friend. He caught himself smirking as he realized the irony of the situation. Not exactly what they meant, was it? Harry laughed lightly to himself.

"What are you laughing about, Styles?" Louis asked.

"Oh, nothing," Harry said, his voice soft. The two boys were silent for a few seconds, the both of them obviously letting sleep sneak up on them.

"Goodnight, Harry."

A brave feeling rising in his stomach, Harry turned his head towards the older boy. He slowly but deliberately inched his way towards Louis' face, planting a small kiss on his cheek.

"Goodnight, Lou," Harry said quietly.

"Was that as good for you as it was for me?" Louis joked. Harry just smiled into the darkness, his lips still tingling from the small stubble on Louis' cheek.

"You're one seductive little wanker, aren't you?"

"I try," was all that Harry could manage before slipping off into a dreamless sleep, the all too pleasant smell of Louis radiating around him.

The next morning, both of the boys were awoken by a knock at the door. Harry grumbled unintelligibly as he returned to consciousness and Louis slowly maneuvered his way out of the bed in a zombie-like fashion. Harry heard the door unlock and open.

"Louis! You're back!"

The voice was undoubtedly female and a small flicker of jealousy ignited within Harry. He climbed out of the bed and took a quick peak from the bedroom. It was a girl and she was devastatingly gorgeous. Harry recognized her to be Rachel, the girl he had previously been introduced to when he had last been here.

"Hey, there's this party tonight since its New Years Eve and all and I was going to invite you- " Rachel stopped short and looked in Harry's direction. Caught and abashed, Harry cracked a half-grin and retreated from the bedroom sheepishly. Rachel's eyes grew big and a suggestive smiled grew upon her lips.

"Um… Hi, again," Harry said, awkwardly waving.

"Hi, Harry Styles who just came from Louis' bedroom," Rachel said quickly, directing her wide eyes towards Louis who just shrugged at her.

"Don't even think it," Harry heard Louis whisper towards the girl's suspicious but amused countenance.

"Think what?" Rachel said, her voice dripping with feigned innocence. "I don't think anything!"

"Out!" Louis shouted playfully, pushing Rachel through the open door. Rachel was trying to call to Harry from the hallway as Louis tried to shut the door.

"Bye, Harry!" she called and gave Louis a quick wink before disappearing behind the apartment door. Louis slowly turned to face Harry, an apologetic look on his face.

"What was that about?" Harry asked, amused at the way Louis' cheeks flushed a bright red. "Oh, nothing," Louis said, brushing the topic off as trivial and unimportant and then quickly changing the subject.

"So… Happy New Years Eve."

"Is it really? Time's gotten away from me," Harry said, completely and blissfully unaware of the time moving by so swiftly.

"Are you up for a party tonight?" Louis asked. Harry nodded. He was up for anything as long as Louis was with him.

"Your bowtie is crooked," the older boy said, straightening it up for Harry in front of the building where the party was supposedly happening a few stories up. Harry watched Louis face as he fiddled with the bowtie. Louis was definitely handsome. Beautiful, even. Sometimes, Harry would have to physically look away just to make his heart not beat out of his chest.

"There we are. Good as new and as dashing as ever," Louis said, throwing an arm around the younger boy. Harry blushed at the compliment as they entered the building and started up the elevator.

"I can't believe we almost missed New Years Eve," Louis said, pressing the button for the floor the party was located on. Harry nodded his head in agreement. He had just been so caught up in the world of Louis Tomlinson that everything else had just slipped by without much notice.

The elevator dinged, marking their arrival at the correct floor. When the doors slid open, they were greeted by a blasting wave of thumping music and flashing lights. They exited the elevator and joined into the mass of people that were all dancing in the middle of the giant room.

"It's so loud!" Harry yelled at Louis.

"What?" Louis asked, the music too loud to make out anything Harry was saying.

"The music! It's so loud!" Harry repeated. Louis shrugged his shoulders and put a hand to his ear to sign that he had no idea what Harry was saying. Harry was about to attempt to repeat himself again when a girl walked up to Louis. Harry didn't like her from the very beginning. She had bleached blonde hair, an exposed midriff, and shorts so short that Harry didn't know whether he could really call them shorts more than he could denim underwear.

"Do you wanna dance?" the skimpy little girl had asked Louis, her hands wrapping around his shoulders. Louis couldn't make out what she was saying so she drew him close and whispered in his ear. Harry felt the need to pry her away from him but he resisted.

"I can't leave my friend!" Louis yelled at the girl after she pulled away. But Harry shrugged. He didn't want to put a damper on Louis' evening.

"Go on! Have your fun!" Harry shouted, pushing his friend towards the dance floor. Louis sent a wink in Harry's direction and then proceeded to walk with the girl towards the crowd of dancing people. Harry forced himself to look away. He didn't want to see the tacky dance moves that the girl would no doubt be trying to pull off on Louis.

Harry situated himself in one of the corners of the room, quietly observing the people of the party. Harry was never one for parties. He preferred hanging out with his friends to the overly loud music.

"Hey, you wanna drink?" a slurred voice said to Harry's right. Harry turned and saw a girl holding two cups in her hands. Harry eyed the two drink, his defenses shooting up. No, no, no, Harry thought. It was the poison. His mouth grew dry as his mind began to justify just one sip... Harry began to reach towards a cup when a hand shot out and grabbed his wrist.

"C'mon. We're leaving," Louis said abruptly, not letting go of Harry's wrist as he made his way towards the elevator. Harry felt a deep and relentless shame spread throughout his entire body. What have I done? Harry wondered as he saw Louis' hardened face.

The drive back to Louis apartment was a silent one. Louis gazed out the window while Harry stared at the offending hands that had reached for the drink without his consent. Several times, Harry had wanted to speak but he remained silent, scared to make Louis any angrier than he already had.

The walk up to the apartment was bleak. There was no warm laughter or friendly nudges. Harry just trudged slowly behind Louis with his head held low. Harry wanted to apologize so badly. He had never seen Louis this mad before.

Louis entered his apartment but didn't turn around for some time. Harry closed the door behind himself. When Louis finally turned around, Harry gasped. Shimmering tears were falling from his eyes, making the blue shine brighter than Harry had ever seen them.

"I'm so sorry," Louis said, his voice cracking. "I cannot believe I was so stupid."

Harry stuttered stupidly. He wasn't sure what was going on. Why was Louis sorry?

"I should have thought… But I wasn't thinking. Ugh, how thick can I get?"

"It's okay-" Harry started.

"No, it's definitely not," Louis cut him off. "Do you realize how important you are to me?" Harry stared silently at the older boy, his eyes wide.

"I had thought that I was going to lose you once. And it was the worst moment of my life. Harry… I know why you were in the hospital. And I'm sorry that I wasn't smart enough to think ahead and realize there was going to be drinking at that fucking party. I'm so sorry…"

Louis turned from Harry, a small sob resonating in his chest. Harry could feel his heart breaking with each little tear that fell from Louis' eyes.

"Louis… I'm never going to leave you like that again," Harry swore, walking over to the crying boy. Wrapping his arms around his friend, Harry whispered in his ear.

"I promise."

Once Harry had gotten Louis to calm down, the two decided to have their own personal party right there in the apartment. Louis played some loud, thumping music similar to the tunes that had been playing at the party and they had a dancing competition to see could possibly make the bigger fool out of themselves. So far, Louis was winning.

There was a sudden change of song as the music went from booming bass to a enchanting piano melody, interrupting Louis' hilarious attempts at krumping. Harry was sitting on the floor, his sides aching from laughing so hard at Louis' dancing when Louis held out a hand to the curly headed boy.

"What?" Harry asked, eying the hand.

"Can I have this dance, Harold?" Louis said, his tone joking tone but his hand remained outreached. Harry grabbed it and Louis pulled him to a standing position. He grabbed Louis' left side with his right hand and held Harry's right hand with his left. As the ballad continued, Louis began to sway gently. Harry could smell Louis so clearly. It was intoxicating and enchanting. I'm dancing with him, Harry thought to himself, giddy at the very idea.

"This isn't working," Louis commented and Harry quickly pulled away, not wanting to seem like he was enjoying the dance too much. Louis chuckled. "No. I mean, like this." Louis pulled him in and wrapped both of his arms around Harry until his hands met at the small of the younger boy's back. Harry shyly brought his hands up and placed them around Louis' neck. Louis began to sway them back and forth. They were closer now. Much closer.

"I love this song," Harry whispered, his voice barely audible over the beautiful song. Louis hummed in agreement, his chest vibrating with the sound. Harry laid his head on the older boy's chest. It seemed to fit there perfectly, as if it was the final piece of the puzzle. The complete perfection of it all made Harry feel lionhearted.



"Well, um… I was wondering if you had promised your new years kiss to anyone yet."

Louis laughed and shook his head. "No. Why? Are you offering?"

"Erm… well, basically… yes."

"I'd be honored," Louis told the younger boy. Harry could feel himself shaking. It was the moment he had been waiting for. Their dancing continued in an unawkward silence. They were just enjoying the simplicity of each other's company. Their breathing seemed to be in sync now.



"It's eleven fifty-nine."

Harry slowly pulled his face away from the older boy's chest and looked at him in those bright blue eyes. For a moment, Harry felt that he was not going to be able to do it. But he mustered all the courage that he could possibly manage as the minute hand on the clock flicked forward.

Harry grabbed Louis' face, his fingers brushing over the stubble on his chin and jawbone. It was a weird sensation. Weird but not uncomfortably so. The roughness was welcomed because it meant that it was Louis' face that he was grabbing. Harry ran his tongue over his own lips as he curled his hands through Louis' hair. Ever so slowly, he began to erase the distance between his face and Louis'. Louis had lost the little smile that was on his lips and was now staring into Harry's eyes with a look of anticipation and excitement that matched Harry's. Although they were mutually nervous about what was about to transcend the boundaries of everything they had previously known, all they could focus on was each other.

Harry could feel his heartbeat in his chest but he noticed something else. He felt a similarly quickened beat from the body that he was so desperately clinging to. And in that moment, all of his doubts melted away and all that mattered was Louis. Without hesitation, Harry closed the distance between them. Their lips locked in fervent ardor and the world around them dissolved into sweet, impassioned nothingness.

Chapter 49

The kiss was simply beautiful and everything a first kiss should have been. With the timid naivety of every first kiss, they felt themselves wrapped around each other in a way that only gave away their inability to separate. Their lips lingered, pressing against each other in an earnest attempt to make the moment last. Louis felt Harry pull away, the skin of their lips trying to remain in tact. Harry was still in kissing distance of Louis, holding on to his face. He had a pained expression on his face, as if he was debating whether he should step away or not. He sighed deeply.

"I'm sorry…" Harry apologized, his glance glued to the ground. Louis tucked his finger under Harry's chin and raised it so Harry's eyes would met his own. The two emeralds were moist, as if he were about to cry.

"I'm not," Louis told the younger boy, his voice thick. Harry's eyes grew wide as Louis cupped his face within his hands and brought him in, brushing their lips together roughly.

Fire ignited within Louis' veins as an electric surge passed from Harry's lips to his own and then all the way down to his toes. He could feel Harry's hands knotted in his hair and a strange and overwhelming urge bore down upon Louis with such force that he felt his knees go weak. The smell of Harry filled his nostrils, intoxicating Louis in a way that had never happened before.

The younger boy wasted no time. As soon as Louis had kissed him back, he was exploring the openly available parts of the older boy's body. Louis felt the delicate hands examining his back and arms, all the while, kneading and grasping in a sensuous rhythm akin to a massage. But the hands were on fire and the fire was welcomed. Louis couldn't get enough of it. He could feel his heart beat rising in a fit of pleasure.

It had taken Louis the distance of the fall to the bed to realize that Harry had somehow moved them from the living room to the bedroom. Now vertical, Louis felt Harry release his lips. He gasped for breath but it was quickly stolen away as he felt soft, puckered lips kissing along his neck. Each little brush of Harry's lips again his neck sent waves of chills down his body, goose bumps erupting across his flesh.

Louis brought Harry's face back to his own and began where they had left off. Using his tongue to explore the other boy's mouth, Louis heard soft moans escape from the back of the younger boy's throat. Impatient hands began tugging at the shirt that Louis wore. He heard a frustrated grumble as Harry fumbled with the buttons. Eventually, his hands gave up at trying to civilly unlock the grand secret that was hidden behind the shirt and he grasped the shirt with both of his hands and pulled with brute force. The buttons landed to the floor with a series of clatters but Louis found very little interest in the matter of buttons.

The whole display of strength left Louis' breathing quickened, his lips desperate for more of the younger boy's intense kisses. With the buttons gone, Louis' shirt was tugged off and thrown to the side and Harry's tantalizing hands spread warmth across the back, stomach, and chest of the older boy. Louis wrapped his body around Harry, their bodies rubbing against each other in carnal tension. Louis felt something rub against his upper thigh and he blushed.

"Is everything alright?" Harry asked and Louis realized that he had just completely frozen.

"Harry… is that… is that your…?" Louis trailed off, not quite wanting to finish the sentence.

"Uh… yeah," Harry said, his voice deep and his heart still pulsing. Louis felt Harry's hand travel slowly from his chest and downward, stopping on a rather sensitive spot that made Louis catch his breath.

"You too?" Harry asked, the question more rhetorical than not. Louis hadn't realized that he had also been so excited but the extremely delicate and light touch that it was receiving from Harry in that moment was almost too much for him to handle before he was sent flying off the edge.

In a flash, Harry was once again tearing into Louis' lips and their tongues danced together in a twirl of desire. Suddenly, there was altogether way too much distance between them and Louis found himself pulling Harry's shirt over his head and tossing the unwanted thing onto the floor. When their chests met, the fire within both of them grew brighter, burning away their reserves. They each investigated the other's upper body with curious and desiring hands, leaving trails of warmth in their wake.

Once again, Harry was at Louis' neck and his hands were slowly moving down the older boy's back. Over the chinos that he was wearing, Harry firmly grasped Louis' butt with his hands. Louis felt a light gasp escape from his mouth. Harry chuckled, the noise coming from deep within him.

"Getting a little handsie, aren't we?" Louis teased through a kiss. He felt Harry's shoulder's shrug, making their skin brush against each other. This only resulted in another shock wave of overpowering desire. They resumed their impassioned kissing as if they could absorb each other through the touching of their lips. Because that was exactly the goal they were trying to achieve. They wanted each other in the purest sense that they could fathom.

At first, in the moments before their lips had first locked, Louis had felt quite strange about feeling so attached to the boy who was currently making out with him. Although he hadn't realized it before, he now recognized that all the things that he had been feeling were much more stronger than anything he had previously comprehended or allowed himself to comprehend. The feeling of Harry's soft lips against his own made it all suddenly way too clear.

"Harry…" Louis whispered, reluctantly breaking away from a particularly entertaining kiss. Louis opened his eyes, unaware that he had closed them at all. When he opened them, he was staring into pure jade, different hues of green reflecting in the soft moonlight that was pouring through the somewhat open curtains. The sight caught Louis off guard and his stomach flipped within him.

"Yes?" Harry answered, his voice a soft but deep whisper.

"What is this to you?" Louis asked slowly but deliberately, trying to draw his attention away from Harry's eyes. He allowed himself to look at his lips but quickly realized that they just as distracting. It took all his will not to continue kissing the curly headed boy but somehow he managed.

Harry stared back intensely, his eyes squinting a bit, as if he was searching for the answer. He chewed on lower lip, the white tips of his teeth glinting in what little light there was.

"Because… I'm a little bit afraid that what this is to me isn't what it is to you… Does that make sense?" Louis was babbling now, slightly daunted by his inability to form a coherent sentence. Louis was about to say something else when Harry cut him off.

"I'm going to tell you something but you have to promise not to freak out," Harry told the older boy. Louis found himself nodding. He couldn't freak out anymore than he was at the current moment in his head.

"Well… you see… I think…. Well, basically…"

Harry paused, taking a deep breath to summon the courage from deep within himself.

"I'm in love with you."

It was out there and the entire world felt like at any moment it would burst into flames if either one of them were to move. Everything was riding on Louis' response and both of them knew it. Surprisingly, Louis didn't feel any pressure. He simply sighed and, as the air exited his body, he knew that everything would be okay as long as Harry was there.

"I think I'm in love with you too…" Louis whispered, his voice quiet. He had never felt so vulnerable in his life but Harry's arms were gently wrapped around his waist, keeping him steadfast in his sanity. The smile on Harry's face was overwhelmingly heartwarming as the curly headed boy drew Louis in for a kiss.

As their lips met once again, a new flame rose from deep within the both of them. It had taken Louis a lot to find the truth that he had kept hidden from himself. He was in love with Harry and it had taken him way too much time to figure that out when it was staring him in the face the whole time. Luckily, it was taking him considerably less time to discover the complete and utter lust he was feeling for the younger boy. Suddenly, each one of Harry's kisses held a punch of desire that filled Louis with a burning need for more. Louis had never felt this way before. The sensation was almost frightening. This was not Louis' first time but he had never felt such a driving force behind his passion. The other times had been driven by just the idea of sex but, somehow, this time was different. He didn't want sex. He wanted Harry. More than he had wanted anything in his entire life.

Louis wrapped the younger boy's legs around his own. Harry generously complied, his back arching from Louis rubbing against him. Louis' mouth was busy with Harry's but his hands slowly traveled down the line of Harry's stomach. His fingers stopped when they made contact with the top of his jeans, lingering over the button.

"Can I?" Louis asked Harry's permission, gasping for breath after breaking away from a kiss. Harry nodded, his own breath hammering intensely. With Harry's consent, Louis brought his lips back to Harry's and let his hands continue. Carefully, Louis unbuttoned Harry's jeans and slid the zipper downward. His hand wavered over the opening of the pants. There was a moment of pause between the both of them, blue and green meeting in a loaded gaze, preparing themselves for the boundaries that were about to be crossed.

Louis pulled his hand away and stood from the bed, Harry's eyes following him questioningly. Louis smirked at Harry's downtrodden countenance. There was a small, unintentional pout tugging at his lower lip. God, he's cute, Louis thought. The older boy chuckled internally as he debated taunting Harry a little bit more. But he quickly pushed the idea from his mind when he realized that he was having a hard enough time with their lips not being together at the moment as it was.

Taking the end of the legs of Harry's jeans in his hand, Louis tugged, leaving the younger boy in only his briefs. Harry looked up at Louis, doe eyed and anxious. This was the first time he had seen exactly so much of Harry.

The younger boy was lean, the muscles protruding lightly from under his olive skin. Louis' eyes traveled from the boy's smooth chest to his abs to the light V that etched its way downward and finally to the soft trail of hair that started at his naval and wandered south behind the elastic band of his underwear. Louis took his own pants and slid them to the floor, allowing Harry a few moments to drink him in.

Harry eyed the older boy hungrily, his eyes not bothering to be shy or bashful. Louis felt vulnerable at first with him just sitting there with just his skivvies but the feeling was quickly replaced with flattery as he saw Harry's look filled with nothing but adoration and longing. Louis lowered himself onto the bed slowly, placing himself between the younger boy's legs. As their skin touched, they both gasped, the closeness and warmth almost overwhelming. He brought his lips to Harry's neck and gently began to suck. Louis heard a small groan escape from the curly headed boy's lips and a shockwave shuddered through Louis' body. He wanted to hear the sound again and he wanted to be the cause of it. Louis sucked a little bit harder on Harry's neck and another moan radiated from the boy, his whole body tensing.

Releasing the spot, Louis saw that he had managed to leave a rather large love bite that looked tender and raw. Louis gently kissed the spot, partially sorry for the mark. But another part of his mind was happy that he had left his mark on the younger boy. It made him feel as though the mark was some kind of sign that he belonged to Louis and no one else.

An idea slowly crept into Louis' head as the urges within him demanded to be satisfied. Louis continued to kiss the younger boy's neck, eventually letting his mouth travel towards his chest. Louis could feel his own heart beating. He was venturing into uncharted territory but he let his instincts lead the way. Kissing down the boy's upper body, Louis could feel the goosebumps rising on Harry's bare skin. The warm flesh underneath Louis' lips was soft and alluring, silently begging him to continue on.

Louis felt the slight indent of Harry's belly button and his breath caught in his throat. Is this really about to happen? he asked himself, the warmth of Harry's skin radiating on his face. The small breaths of the younger boy reassured Louis and he took one final deep breath for courage. You got this, Tomlinson, Louis prompted himself. Tucking his fingers around the edge of the elastic, Louis gently pulled the underwear from their position and shimmied them downward, letting them land somewhere on the floor.

And there it was. The big reveal. And that's exactly what it was. A big reveal. Louis was glad that Harry could not see his face because he was certain that he was gaping. Inexperienced and slightly daunted by the size, Louis reached out and grasped it firmly in his hands. It was warm and felt foreign to him. It wasn't as if it was that different from his own but, then again, it was very different from his own. The one he currently had in his hand was attached to a certain Harry Styles and the whole idea of it was definitely odd, to say the least. But the way that Harry squirmed as Louis squeezed his hand ever so slightly pushed any awkward feelings quickly out of the picture. Louis heard tiny pants of excitement from Harry and he was filled with a sudden need to pleasure the younger boy.

Louis kissed down the trail of hair that led to a larger patch of dark brown, the wisps of hair tickling at his face. He had never been this close to another guy before and seeing one this close up was alien to him. Very slowly, Louis stuck out his tongue and readied himself for the contact. As he pushed his head forward, his tongue made contact with it. It was warm and the texture was rubbery against his tongue. Raking his tongue across the shaft, Louis slowly made his way to the top where he engulfed the head within his mouth. He heard Harry let out a loud gasp of pleasure and Louis began to move his head slowly and sensually. Harry squirmed underneath his body and the younger boy's hands stroked Louis' hair with lithe strokes. More groans of ecstasy poured from the younger boy's mouth, fueling Louis to go faster. It did not take long before Harry's body arched, tensing firmly. One of Harry's hands was still clutching at Louis' hair while the other was scratching into the older boy's back, sending ripples of a welcomed pain across Louis' skin. With a giant gasp from Harry, the thing throbbed inside of Louis' mouth and a bittersweet, viscous liquid filled the back of Louis' throat.

Harry was panting deeply now, the aftershocks of the orgasm still racing within his veins. Louis swallowed the contents of his mouth and he raised himself upward so that Harry could nestle within the crook where Louis' neck and shoulder met. The curly hair of the boy tickled Louis' neck as Harry slid a naked leg across the older boy. Louis could feel Harry's penis against him, along with the scratchy patch of hair surrounding it. Taking his hand and placing it on Harry's bare butt, Louis traced the contours of the younger boy's backside as Harry slowly began to regain his composure. Louis felt himself aching for a release, his whole body wanting to drink Harry up. It didn't help that he could feel Harry's thing against his own thigh. In fact, it made it worse. Louis ran his hand down Harry's chiseled stomach and played with the little patch of hair.

It took Louis a little bit of time to feel the tiny sucking of Harry's mouth on his neck but eventually he connected two and two when there was a pleasurable tingle that had begun to radiate from the spot where Harry had leached himself to his neck.

"You ready for more?" Louis teased, giving the younger boy's butt a tight squeeze. Harry released the suction between his mouth and Louis neck. He brought his lips to Louis' ear and whispered, "Your turn,' grazing the Louis with a small nip to the earlobe.

Louis and Harry's faces crashed together into a particularly intense make out session. Harry's fingers were wrenching Louis' underwear off. As soon as the underwear hit the floor, their bodies collided, carnal warmth spreading wherever their bodies mingled together. Shaken by the mere ecstasy of their bodies being unhindered by layers that had kept them apart for so long, Louis groaned as Harry rubbed against his lower region. Where Harry's lips were busy with Louis' lips, Harry's hands were busy at work stroking Louis. With each intimate stroke against the sensitive skin, Louis felt his sanity flee from his mind to be replaced with pure euphoria. Harry's hands were so warm and pleasing. It felt as though Harry was filling him up with liquid light, the energy waiting to be released in one big, highly awaited explosion.

Louis could feel it within him rising. Harry was slowly seducing the light out into the open, rays of the energy threatening to burst out at another stroke. Louis began to pant heavily as he felt the beginnings of an orgasm but Harry stopped dead. The feeling subsided back within Louis but the cravings worsened.

"I want to try something…" Harry whispered in the older boy's ear. "Do you trust me?" Harry asked. Louis didn't even have to think about it.

"Of course, I do."

Louis steadied himself behind the curly headed boy whose butt was tauntingly scraping against Louis. He was currently covered in some slick lotion that Harry had graciously applied with nimble hands. That alone had nearly set Louis off but he had managed to keep it down.

"Are you sure about this?" Louis asked, hesitant. He didn't want to hurt Harry. The curly headed boy nodded, planting a quick kiss on the older boy's lips before turning back around. Louis grabbed and led himself to the entry point. The tip was rubbing against Harry and the sensation was about to make Louis blow. Louis wasn't sure how much longer he was going to last.

"Ready?" Louis asked and he saw the curls nod. Slowly, Louis thrusted and he felt himself enter Harry. He gasped and stopped. It was so unbelievably warm. It was pleasure in the purest sense that he had ever known it. He pushed himself further inside and this time he heard Harry wince slightly.

"Did I hurt you?" Louis asked, worried.

"It hurt a bit... Just hold on a sec…" Harry instructed, his voice low, "Okay. Try again."

Louis thrusted himself inside more and he was suddenly all the way in, the warmth radiating from all around. He felt himself going crazy trying not to burst. It just felt so good. He pulled out a bit and then pushed back in, eruptions of pleasure sweeping through his entire being. Harry gasped.

"I don't have to do this," Louis said once more, more concerned for Harry than his pleasure. Harry shook his head fervently.

"It felt good that time!" Harry reassured the older boy. Louis grabbed the boy's sides and began to thrust in and out repeatedly. It was as if he was swimming in a warm, giant ocean of ecstasy. He felt his fingers claw into one of Harry's sides as the feelings became more and more intense. With his other hand, he slid back and forth on Harry's penis, the thing hard in his hands. Both Harry and Louis were moaning and groaning now. It all became too overwhelming and Louis felt himself slowly letting go of his caution. It was there, on the verge, and everything felt so good. With another deep thrust inside of Harry, Louis felt the world explode and he emptied himself. Harry cried out as Louis' finger's grasped tightly and another explosion of the sticky fluid emptied into Louis' fingers.

Without care of the mess, the two boys collapsed in each other's arms onto the bed. They were still panting, their breaths deep and quick, sweat glistening off their smooth bodies. Spooning, Harry was cradled in Louis' arms and Louis mouth was right at Harry's ear.

"I do, you know," Louis said, out of the blue. Harry turned to him, a question on his face.

"Huh?" Harry grunted questioningly. His voice was still thick from the endeavors they had just so willingly participated in.

"You know how I said I think I love you?" Louis asked.


"I do."

Chapter 50

The morning sun trickled its way through the crack in the curtains, revealing two sleeping boys coiled within each other's arms. There was only a thin sheet twisted between them, the blanket and pillows all scattered about the floor- one of the many indicators of the previous night's happenings. Their soft breaths were nearly synchronized, their chests rising and falling in one single motion.

Harry was the first to wake. There was the hint of a smile upon his lips as his eyelids journeyed open. Hazy at first, his eyes quickly adjusted to the sight of the older boy's head cradled within his arms. His light brown hair was messy and laid in little tufts along Harry's chest. The sight of the older boy immediately yanked Harry out of his drowsy state. Very carefully, Harry raised a hand and began to gently twirl the other boy's hair within his fingers.

At one point, Harry had thought that Louis had awoken but he only shifted slightly and continued on with his peaceful slumber. Harry caught himself grinning sheepishly. He couldn't really, truly fathom everything that had happened in the night prior. He knew that it had happened. He just couldn't understand how he had been so lucky. But he did understand that it had been the happiest night of his life. He couldn't remember a time when his smile had felt so deep. It was as if, for the first time, he knew what happiness really was. And it had been Louis who had showed him.

Harry could have lied there all day. He knew very well that his phone would most likely explode from all the angry voicemails from Mr. Barker but he didn't care at all. He had discovered a happiness of the likes of which he had never known and it was currently laying in his arms. A fancy career as an international superstar paled in comparison to a life lived with Louis Tomlinson. Although Louis was asleep, Harry couldn't help but pucker his lips and plant a small kiss on the sleeping boy's head.

The kiss made Louis stir and his eyes fluttered open. At first, there was a lack of recognition in Louis' eyes but when a large smile appeared, Harry knew that Louis knew exactly who he was.

"Good morning," the older boy said through a yawn. He stretched in the covers, making his bare body slightly rub against the younger boy. Harry failed at trying to suppress a shudder of content as he felt Louis' entire naked body along him.

"Good morning," Harry replied, his eyes locked on Louis' face in an attempt at concentrating. Louis stared at the younger boy for a while, Harry unflinching under his gaze. Louis moved his head forward warily towards Harry's. He was unsure if the rules of last night still applied but he had to be sure of what he was feeling. Harry saw the advance and readied himself. Their lips brushed together. When they parted, Louis laid his head on Harry's chest with an untroubled sigh.

"Yup. I still love you," Louis confirmed. Harry grinned and strived to keep his cheering within his own mind.

"And I still love you," Harry said, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. Because it was.

"I want you to do something for me," Harry said, his face suddenly lighting up. Louis raised an eyebrow. Harry was about to get up when he suddenly froze.

"What's wrong?" Louis asked.

"Turn around," Harry ordered Louis and Louis smiled mischievously.

"No," Louis teased, crossing his arms.

"Well, then, at least close your eyes," Harry asked, a shy smile on his lips.

"Harry, I saw it all last night!" Louis reminded the younger boy but Harry shook his head.

"Please!" Harry begged.

Grumbling playfully, Louis placed his hand over his eyes. Harry stood from the bed and Louis immediately peaked through his fingers, watching as the naked boy disappeared behind the bedroom door. Louis heard the younger boy rummaging through the drawers in the kitchen. When he returned, he slipped back under the sheets. He had seen Louis watching his naked body and it made him feel pleased, if not a little embarrassed and self-conscious. In his hands, Harry had a pen and piece of paper.

"What's that for?" Louis asked, curious. Harry scribbled something down and handed Louis the paper.

"'Are you still in love?'" Louis read. Harry nodded.

"I want you to read that everyday and I'm going to make it my personal duty to make sure your answer is 'yes.'"

"Always and forever," Louis promised, placing the paper on the bedside table. Louis then pulled Harry in for another dose of the previous night.

"So what are you going to do?" Louis asked. They were both standing by the window, semi-dressed in their underwear. It had been a long day of staying inside but they had had plenty to keep them occupied. The sun was setting and the sky was a mixture of beautiful hues of orange, red, purple, and pink. The window was open, a small breeze rustling through the hair of the two boys. They stared at the skyline, watching the skyscrapers reach into the heavens. They both had content smiles on their face, a bit smug.

"I don't know… I guess we'll see, won't we?" Harry replied. Louis wrapped his arms around the older boy's waist.

"Are you going to tell the world?" Louis asked. "They're all going to want to know about Harry Styles' love life. There's going to be a lot of disappointed fan girls out there."

Harry shrugged his shoulders and put an arm around Louis.

"Well, I can't just not tell them about my new boyfriend," Harry said playfully. The word "boyfriend" lingered in his mouth. It was strange but not in an unpleasant way. Louis smiled at the word, squeezing Harry tighter.

"What about Barker?" Louis asked, worry rising within him. Harry just chuckled, his deep chortle warming Louis from within.

"What's so funny?" Louis asked.

"Well," Harry started, "Apparently, Paul did a little bit of detective work and… let's just say that my career should be fine as long as the fans stay. Otherwise, Mrs. Barker will be receiving some rather incriminating photographs." Louis laughed, throwing his head back.

"So… what's next for you?" Louis asked, unsure of what the future would hold. Harry looked into the distance, the sun reflected in his eyes.

"What's next for us," Harry corrected the older boy.

"For us then?" Louis said, trying to hide his smile with a rolling of the eyes.

"Well…" Harry trailed off. He bent to the ground and got down on one knee. Louis' eyes widened.

"Umm… Harry, love… I just discovered my feelings for you yesterday. Isn't this a tad bit… well, soon?" Louis stuttered, but there was amusement in his voice. Harry shushed the older boy and grabbed his hand within his own.

"Louis Tomlinson… Will you go on tour with me?" Harry asked, and they both burst into laughter. Louis helped Harry from the floor.

"Harry… I would love to be your groupie."

"No," Harry said, laughing, "Will you come on tour with me." Louis' eyes widened and his mouth gaped open, bereft of words.

"Are you serious, Harry? Do you mean it?" Louis asked, still a little baffled. Harry nodded.

Louis threw himself around Harry and planted a large kiss upon his lips. Harry felt as if he was shining as brightly as the sun. He wanted to give the world to Louis but, until that was actually possible, he would settle for this.

"I love you so much, Lou," Harry told the older boy.

"I love you too," Louis whispered, feeling Harry's stare upon his face. He looked into the younger boy's eyes and noticed all of the overwhelming emotions packed into one glance. There were thousands of questions and worries lurking in the back of their minds and they both knew it. They could sense them there. But their concerns were not for themselves but for the world and whether or not it would be kind to them. They knew they had found something so special in each other. It was not their bond that they were doubting. It was as simple as Harry was scared for Louis and Louis was scared for Harry. But when blue eyes stared into green eyes, their worries vanished and, as the last light of the day slipped under the horizon, their lips met in sweet surrender.


The ceremony was beautiful. People from all around the world were there. The inside was already jammed to its maximum occupancy and the people who were not allowed inside were all gathered outside around outside the church, holding signs and showing their support.

Louis, who had been at the back of the church, slowly made his way down the aisle. Everybody's faces were glued to him as he took small and careful steps. His head was held high as he approached the front. He had a simple red rose in his hand that he twirled nervously.

When he got to the front, he laid the flower on the beautifully crafted wooden casket and, with some trouble, got down on his knees and knelt before his one true love. He had been so strong all week but he could now feel the tears brimming over his eyes. He tried to wipe the tears away with a shaking hand but they kept coming.

"Harry…" Louis started, his voice rasp from age but quivering from sorrow.

"You are all that I've known for the past sixty-nine years. I don't know what I'm going to do without you. I… I just wanted to let you know that you made me the happiest man in this entire world. There was not a day that went by that you didn't love me with all of your heart. We raised five beautiful children together. They're all grown up now and they're wonderful people with children of their own because of you. You changed the world and made it a better place for people like us. You are the best man I've ever known and I don't know what I am going to do without you. I just wanted to let you know that you will always have my heart. Always. And I will count the days until I am able to see you again. Please help me be strong, Harry. You were always the strong one. I love you so much. I will never stop loving you."

Louis stood with the help of his eldest son. Standing over the casket for the last time, Louis felt his shoulder shake from the sob that escaped from deep within him. They had asked him if he wanted the casket to be open but he couldn't have bared the sight of his Harry, lifeless and on display for the entire world to see.

"Goodbye, my love," Louis choked out and reached out for his son to help him to his seat in the front pew. When he got to his seat, he regained his composure the best that he could. He lived a long and happy life, Louis reassured himself. It was more than true. Harry had done so much and had been so happy. So many people loved him.

As the pastor spoke, Louis couldn't help but think about their life together and all that Harry had accomplished. Of course, being the romantic that he was, Harry (at the age of twenty-four) had proposed to Louis on stage during a concert one evening. Their wedding had been so beautiful. It was small and simple and only close friends and family were invited. The fans simply adored Harry and Louis together, even going as far to dub them as "Larry Stylinson." Harry's coming out and the wedding was why the LGBT community owed Harry so much. He had paved a road for the next generation. Harry was the whole reason that they were able to have the funeral in a church. Being gay in the up-coming twenty-second century was okay now and it was all thanks to Harry Styles-Tomlinson. When they were in their thirties, they decided to have children. Harry had been a wonderful dad and Louis remembered how he strived to be the man and father that Harry was daily. Louis couldn't contain the pride that he felt that he could call the best man in the world his husband.

Louis felt a small, proud smile tug at his lips as he looked at the casket where his lover, husband, and the father of his children laid.

"Thank you," Louis mouthed towards the casket. Louis felt inside his jacket pocket and pulled out a little slip of paper. Unfolding it, Louis revealed Harry's scrawl. Like in the note that he had sent him from when they had parted in New York for the first time, Harry had written-

Until we meet again,

Harry Styles XOXO

Louis smiled weakly and failed at attempting to blink back tears. Harry had written it the night he had passed on in his sleep. They had just been boys when he had first read those words and now, here he was, reading them once again as an old man.

When the ceremony was over, Louis led the procession of people behind Harry's casket. Despite the lonely and sorrowful feeling gnawing at the pit of his stomach, he couldn't help but feel proud. So many people loved the man that Louis had called his husband. He knew that as he mourned, the rest of the world was mourning with him. For the world had truly lost a great man.

That night, after he said his goodnights to his children and grandchildren who were staying with him during the past week, Louis went not to his bed, but to his dresser, where he opened the top drawer. Pulling out a little box, Louis carefully managed his way back to his bed where he sat on the bedside. Rummaging through the box, his wrinkled fingers made their way through love letters and little knickknacks that held significance to Louis' heart. When he finally found what he was looking for, he put the box aside and held the sheet of paper in his hand. The paper was a faded yellow and there was Harry's faint scrawl upon the sheet. Louis drank the words on the page in and felt tears falling down his face. The paper read-

Are you still in love?

Through a heavy sob, Louis answered.

"Always and forever."