Fading chapter twenty six

Louis knows about beauty; the combination of qualities that pleases the aesthetic senses. He creates that combination every day in the garments he designs while studying fashion at uni. The cut of the design, the color of the fabric, the intricacy of the stitching; it all comes together to create something beautiful. When the science student with the long legs and dimpled smile agrees to model for him, Louis decides he’s found beauty personified. Harry just thinks Louis needs someone to show him how beautiful he is.

AU / WIP / Larry / Eating disorder triggers / With smut 

Trailers / Chapters 1 - 25

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Chapter Twenty Six:

"How was your exam, love?" Harry asks softly, nuzzling against Louis’ hair. 

"Alright, it was the easy one," Louis replies, breathing in Harry’s smell.

"And how are you feeling?"

Louis opens his mouth, and he’s point five of a second away from telling Harry he’s fine, but Harry pulls back and looks him in the eyes. It only takes one look and Louis is brought straight back to that night, two weeks ago, when Harry saw the self inflicted scratches and bruises, marring his stomach and his hips. The memory is still painfully fresh in Louis’ mind, he can still feel the knot he got in his chest when Harry crumpled in front of him. 

~

"It’s just a bad habit, Harry," Louis had whimpered, "I really was fine, it’s just a bad habit."

Harry had shaken his head and backed away, dropping down onto the closed toilet lid like a sack of bricks, “I’m such a fucking idiot,” he had groaned, “I’m so fucking stupid!”

"You’re not, Harry! Don’t say that," Louis protested.

"I look in your eyes, and every single day you look like you’re fucking drowning! And I keep thinking I’m getting you into the lifeboat, I keep thinking I can bring you to shore; but you’re in the middle of the fucking ocean, and I can’t even fucking get close to you!"

"Harry-"

"Don’t Louis! Stop lying to me! Please, I am literally begging you," Louis’ breath had hitched in his throat when Harry sank off the toilet, and down to his knees in front of him, "Please stop lying to me! I can’t fucking do this if you’re going to act fine, when you’re clearly not!"

Louis had forced himself not to flinch away from Harry’s hands holding onto his hips, “if I- if I tell you what I’m really feeling you’ll- you’re going to leave either way!”

Harry’s eyes were pleading when he looked up at Louis, “I’ve told you a million times, I’m not going anywhere! But I can’t- I can’t keep doing this if you’re going to lie to me, and hide things from me! I can handle it if you feel like shit, I can handle it if you’re pissed off. You don’t have to act okay for me! But I can’t handle you lying to me! This is never going to work if you keep shutting me out!”

The hairs on the back of Louis’ neck had bristled, and his instant reflex was to throw Harry’s hands off of him. To scream in Harry’s face that he should just go then, because they were never meant to work out anyway. Except he didn’t. He didn’t push Harry away, and he didn’t raise his voice. Harry had looked up at him, from his knees on the floor, his eyes searching Louis’ face.

"Okay," Louis sighed.

Harry had groaned, low and guttural, “see! You don’t even give a shit! You don’t care if I’m telling you that we won’t work out if you lie, because you don’t care if we work out!”

"No," Louis said  quietly, "I’m saying okay to- to the things you said before."

Harry’s face had twisted in confusion, “what things?”

"I’m saying okay, I’ll stop lying, I’ll stop hiding. I’ll tell you when I feel like shit, and I’ll tell you when I’m dying to tear the fat off my bones," Louis had mumbled, ignoring Harry’s flinch at his choice of words, "okay, I’ll stop shutting you out."

Harry had fish mouthed for a minute, looking for the words, before disbelief had clouded his features, “yeah, you say that now, but you’ll just find other ways to hide things from me.”

Louis had sighed, and scrubbed his hand across the back of his neck. He knew it was his fault Harry didn’t trust him. He’d meant it though. He had known that Harry is going to leave him either way; he didn’t want Harry to leave because he wasn’t trying hard enough. He had known that Harry is going to get overwhelmed and leave, when he opens up and shows how fucked up he is, but he’d rather that, than to always wonder what would have happened, if he’d just given Harry a chance. 

Looking down at Harry, crying at his feet, Louis had finally made the decision that he’d rather be able to say ‘I told you so’ when Harry leaves because he’s too much to handle, than have to say ‘what if’ when Harry leaves because he isn’t trying enough. He knew that taking down his walls meant leaving himself defenceless, but it wasn’t a hard decision to make when he saw the pain in Harry’s eyes, the pain that he caused.

"I mean it, Harry. I’ll- I’m going to be open with you…..but when it- when I get to be too much- t-to handle, please, just be straight up with me….don’t draw it out. I’ll understand when you want to go."

Harry’s face had softened so much, but the sadness was still trapped in his eyes. Louis had sunk down to his knees, to be on Harry’s level. Harry’s arms had wrapped around him instantly, as he crossed his legs and pulled Louis into his lap. Louis doesn’t remember how long they sat there, tears falling down both their faces. He does remember Harry’s words though.

"I’m not going anywhere, Louis, I love you with everything I’ve got."

~

So Louis looks at Harry, into Harry’s impossibly soft eyes, and he swallows down the lie. He hides his face against Harry’s neck, because it’s still hard to say how he’s feeling out loud. He’s so used to acting okay, he’s so used to telling everyone he’s fine. He feels weak enough on the inside, without telling everyone about every insecurity, every feeling of inadequacy.

"I feel like shit," Louis says quietly, "I feel bloated and disgusting, and-" he lets out a sigh, and shakes his head. 

"What is it, love?" Harry prompts softly.

"And in class today Hannah told me that I was looking good," Louis mumbles, "and I know she meant it nicely, she said it was because my hair has been looking healthier, and my skin looks brighter, but like- it just…."

"Just what?" Harry presses a kiss to his temple.

"It just reminds me that my body is changing because I’m eating so much, and I know I’m putting on weight, and I’m fucking freaking out," Louis’ voice is hardly a whisper.

He doesn’t tell Harry that her comment almost sent him running down the hall to the bathroom, after two full weeks of not purging. He had already been feeling awful, because it’s getting warmer so he can’t get away with layers anymore, and he doesn’t feel comfortable in anything. She had said it so kindly, had asked him what he was doing differently because he was looking healthier. He had made something up about always starting to feel better in the spring, because winter always runs him down, and she had bought it. He had felt like screaming. 

Harry sighs softly. He stands in between Louis’ legs; Louis is in the passenger seat of the truck, turned to the side, with Harry standing next to the open door, his hands on Louis’ thighs. Even as Harry frowns at him, Louis can see the gratefulness in his eyes, he’s always so thankful every time Louis is open. Louis doesn’t understand how Harry can enjoy listening to him whine, but he knows Harry can tell how much it takes for him to even tell small things.

"Oh sweetheart," Harry says softly, "even though I know she meant it in the nicest way, I’m sorry she made that comment if it upset you, and I’m sorry that you’re feeling like shit. You have to remember though, that you don’t see yourself properly love. She’s right, your hair looks healthier, and it’s even softer when I run my fingers through it. Your skin looks better because there is some colour to your cheeks, and you’re not so pale from being cold all the time. You do look healthier, but not in the way you’re thinking. It’s only been a few weeks, it isn’t like you’ve suddenly put on a bunch of weight."

"You don’t understand," Louis whimpers, because Harry doesn’t get that Louis associates healthy with heavy.

"I know baby, I’m not trying to pretend I do. I just know stuff like that is really triggering for you, and I’m so proud of you for not going off to purge," Harry pauses, "you didn’t…did you?" he asks hesitantly.

"No," Louis sighs, "I didn’t. But I wanted to," he admits in a whisper, terrified for Harry’s inevitable disappointment.

Harry sighs softly too, “fuck babe, I’m so proud of you for not doing it.”

Louis frowns, “you’re not mad at me for wanting to though?”

Harry shakes his head, “of course not. You’ve recovering Lou, those feelings don’t go away over night. But you didn’t give in, and I’m so proud of you. And it means so much that you’ve told me how you feel,” Harry’s lips are soft, as he dips his chin to kiss softly at Louis’ neck.

Louis breathes in deeply, letting his head roll back, “I’m scared.”

Harry’s lips stop, and he pulls back to look at Louis with a frown, “of what?”

"I’m scared you’ll not want me, when I’ve gained all that weight back… I was really heavy before. Mostly because I drank so much, and I- I’ve never been one for working out," Louis admits sheepishly.

Harry looks in Louis’ eyes for a moment, before his thumb comes up to ghost across Louis’ cheek, “babe, I’ve creeped your Facebook a million times over. I know you haven’t used it in almost a year, but you never deactivated it. I’ve been through all your pictures, and I’ve seen those shirtless pics of you the summer before this year. Your body was perfect. I’m not just saying that Louis, like before I even met you, if I had to describe my ideal guy, it would be you. And I know all the bits I loved about you, are probably all the parts you hate. I would have spent days sucking at the curve of your hips, weeks kissing along your tummy, months wrapped up in your thighs. You’ll always be perfect to me, even like this, when you don’t have an ounce of fat on you, but like that too, at a healthy weight, or heavier, or anything. I’ve seen you already, and I love you all the same.”

Louis’ cheeks are warmed with blush, thinking about Harry seeing those pictures of him, thinking about Harry’s lips on his bulbous tummy, thinking about his humungous thighs heavy around Harry’s waist. It isn’t a pleasant thought, because he looks back at those pictures now and cringes; but it isn’t an unpleasant one either, because Harry’s seen him at his heaviest, and he isn’t turned off.

"Well…we’ll see," he murmurs quietly.

"You’ll see," Harry says, smiling softly, "I know you’ve had kind of a crappy day, but are you still feeling up to hanging out with Niall? Zayn’s exam will be done in half an hour you could just wait for him, and chill out at home instead? I know Niall’s pretty high energy."

Louis shakes his head, “no Zayn has a thing after his exam, but I don’t mind, I want to see Niall. He always makes me feel better.”

Harry grins, “I’m so glad you like him. He loves you and the boys.”

"He’s my favourite," Louis says, "sometimes I think he forgets about…. my eating thing."

Harry laughs, and rolls his eyes, “he legitimately does. The other day I came into the room happy, and he asked what was up, and I told him that we had upped your calorie intake and that you were doing good, and he asked me what the hell I was on about.”

Louis smiles, and lets out a little laugh, “that’s why I like him.”

Louis really is looking forward to seeing Niall. They haven’t been able to have him over to the flat as often because everyone is studying like mad for exams, so Louis has missed him. Niall is the only one that Louis feels normal around, and it actually is because Niall just doesn’t think about Louis’ eating habits. If it’s just the two of them Niall follows Harry’s rules about how much Louis has to eat, he never lets Louis get away with anything, but other than that he doesn’t even think about it. When Louis is with Niall, he feels the most like himself. 

Zayn and Liam are getting better, but there is still that knowledge that they’re watching him, worrying about him. With Harry he knows that his eating is at the forefront of Harry’s mind, and it’s a lot of pressure. There is no pressure with Niall, there is no worry in his eyes when he looks at Louis. They always have a great time because Niall is so laid back and he lets Louis feel normal, lets Louis get out of his head. 

 ”Hey lads,” Niall bellows, hanging out the window of his car as he drives over from across the parking lot.

Harry steps aside and helps Louis hop down from the truck, shutting the door behind him. Niall pulls into the parking spot beside them, with a huge grin on his face. He hops out of his vehicle and pulls both of them into a hug, because he is a hugger.

"Hey mate," Harry says, "I’ve got to go, I’ll see you later, yeah?"

"Sure bro, good luck on your exam," Niall says.

Harry grins, and gathers Louis up in his arms, “have fun, and I’ll text you as soon as I’m done,” he says softly.

Louis smiles, “okay love, good luck on your exam, I know you’ll do great,” he says, standing on his tiptoes to steal a kiss.

"One more kiss for luck?" Harry asks.

The kiss turns into a snog, and Niall climbs back into his car to give them a moment alone. Louis waves as Harry pulls away, to drive to the other side of campus to write his exam. Harry leans out his window and blows a kiss before he rounds the corner. Louis climbs in the passenger seat beside Niall.

"So how did your exam go?" Niall asks.

"Alright I think, it was an easy one," Louis replies, "how was yours?"

"I think I did okay, I’ve sure as fuck been studying enough, I feel like that’s all I’ve been doing!"

"Yeah I know what you mean, how many more do you have?"

"Two," Niall groans, "but fuck it, lets go get drunk to celebrate this one being done!"

"Drunk?" Louis asks, his mind screaming about all the empty calories in alcohol.

"Yeah mate, it’s a beautiful day, lets go sit on a patio, get some pints, some burgers!" Niall says excitedly.

Louis cringes internally, this is the only downside of Niall sometimes forgetting, “sounds like a lot of calories,” he says quietly, and this is one of the moments he wishes he could just eat normally without hating himself.

Niall realizes what the problem is, and understanding crosses his face, “alright well you can do a salad and some shots, you’ll get your calories and you’ll get drunk!” he says after with a shrug.

Louis knows if Harry ever heard Niall suggest he substitute normal calories for alcohol he would lose his shit. Louis hasn’t been drunk in ages though, and he’s had a shit day, and the idea of just getting tipsy, and having something light to eat for lunch sounds completely amazing. He hopes Harry won’t be too mad, but if he is he’ll argue that he was just trying to have fun, and hopefully Harry will understand that he needs this.

"Sounds sick," Louis grins, nodding.

"Wey Hey!" Niall exclaims, clapping his hands, and Louis doesn’t know what that means but he laughs at Niall’s enthusiasm.

Niall cranks up the radio and backs out of the parking stall. Some hip-hop song that Louis has never heard blasts through the speakers. It turns out apparently he doesn’t mind hip-hop, because he’s feeling pretty gangster as Niall sings along, and teaches Louis how to bob his head the proper way. 

"You like this?" Niall asks, when the song ends.

"Never knew I liked hip-hop," Louis laughs.

"Oh my fucking god I’ve got to show you this song! Harry is always giving me shit about listening to hip-hop and rap, and then one day the bastard comes in, and tell me he’s found the perfect song for me," Niall says, laughter in his voice as he scrolls through his playlist, "so he plays this song, and I fucking instantly love it, because the beat is sick.”

A snapping base starts playing through the speakers, along with a guys voice sing-rapping, “so I’m fucking playing it all week, blasting it in my car and shit! And then finally one night Harry gets in my car, and the song is playing, and he starts killing himself laughing. And then he tells me to listen to the fucking lyrics!”

Just as Louis starts listening the man singing says ‘he really wanna cuddle, the fever in his eyes, he wanna suckle on my muscle,’ and Louis gets it. Suddenly the lyric from the beginning of the song ‘I’m the kind of john closet dudes wanna go steady on’ makes more sense. The guy is gay, and he’s rapping about ‘wut is wut.’

"I’d been going around all week blasting literally the gayest fucking song in existence, thinking I was complete badass! I thought Harry was going to die, he was laughing so hard when he showed me the YouTube video and there is this huge black guy twerking all over other dudes laps, wearing girls clothes!"

Louis has tears in his eyes he’s laughing so hard, “why do you still have it on your iPod then?” he manages through his laughter.

Niall just shrugs and cranks it up, “it’s a fucking sick song! Who gives a shit if he’s gay! I don’t worry about blasting songs about drug dealing, even though I’m not a drug dealer.”

That right there is one of the other reasons Louis loves Niall. He’s never met someone so unequivocally accepting. When the song is over Niall hits replay, and promises one day he’s going to teach Louis how to twerk. When they pull up at a pub everybody seems to know Niall, and they get a table out on the patio, under a brightly coloured umbrella.

Niall orders the biggest burger Louis has ever seen, along with the darkest pint he’s ever seen. Louis gets a vodka tonic, because he knows it will have the least calories, and a salad with some grilled chicken and the dressing on the side. He’ll decide how much of the chicken he can eat, based on how much alcohol he drinks. Niall and Louis talk while they wait for their food, and Louis loves how easy, and usually hilarious, their conversations always are. 

When the food comes Niall decides they need to order some shots, because he’s finished his pint, and Louis has finished his drink. Louis can’t really feel his vodka-ton, and he’s just been nibbling his salad, so he doesn’t protest. Somehow one shot turns into three, and as Niall slaughters his burger, Louis finds himself giggling as he eats his salad. 

Niall is telling some outrageous story with food in his mouth, and Louis can’t feel his lips, but he’s laughing harder than he has in a while. He’s the one who suggests the fourth shot, and the fifth, because he’s enjoying the way the alcohol quiets the voice in his head telling him to stop shoving salad in his mouth. He’s eating chicken by the time Niall offers him a sip of his pint, and Louis ends up drinking half of it in one go.

He’s having so much fun, and he just loves Niall so much. He hasn’t drank in so long, and he is a ridiculous light weight as it is, so he figures he should stop drinking. He stops drinking, but he finds himself eating his chicken salad still, and Niall notices and congratulates him excitedly on being such a ‘champ.’ Louis isn’t sure how he’d feel about that normally, but right now everything feels fuzzy and wonderful, so he just grins sloppily, and has another bite. 

"Oh my god, what song is this? Issogood!" Louis exclaims, pointing at the speakers blasting the song out to the patio.

"My lord mate, do you live under a rock? It’s Mirrors by Justin Timberlake, it’s been playing on the radio for a good month!” Niall laughs.

Louis giggles, “shut up! I used to only listen to the radio and top forties, but Harry has been educating me,” he does exaggerated air quotes around the word educating, “about good music, so now I’m always just listening to his hipster shit.”

Niall laughs, “that boy listens to the weirdest fucking music.”

"I have to send him this song!" Louis says, "the words man, the words are just lovely."

Maybe he is a little drunk, and maybe Mirrors isn’t a song he would normally send to Harry, but he clicks through to iTunes anyway, and downloads it with minimal finger fumbling. Niall knows the words of course, and he bellows them out to the patio at large. It’s a testament to how much people love Niall that everyone just grins at him fondly, instead of being annoyed.

'Just heard ths sing, i kno its pop shit but made me thing of youuuuu, do good on ur exam babyboi xoxox9x0xoox0,' he manages to type out, grinning stupidly, and almost forgetting to attach the song.

He realizes belatedly that Harry won’t get the text until after his exam, but he decides not to let that dampen his grin. He also realizes, when he rereads the text after its sent, that he sounds like a dyslexic crazy person, but he just giggles and shrugs to himself. Niall grins at him and flags the waitress over for a pint for himself and Louis, and Louis doesn’t even argue.

"So, what’s it like?" Niall asks, his cheeks are rosy, though he is definitely less drunk than Louis.

"What is what like?" Louis asks, and he vaguely notices that his words are a little slurred.

"To have someone love you as much as Harry does?" Niall asks, grinning sheepishly, "I’ve always wanted someone to like- love me like that y’know? Unconditionally?"

Louis’ cheeks are on fire. He wants to argue with Niall, tell him there is no such thing as unconditional love. He can’t quite form the words though, and he isn’t sure what the warm feeling in his stomach means. He blames the alcohol.

"I- I don’t know," he stutters.

"Well you’ve got to know how over the moon he is for you, Lou! You’re all he thinks about. You should hear him talk about you when he Skypes with his mum and sister. I’ve never seen someone love someone else so much!"

"I’m a shit boyfriend," he mumbles, the ‘shit person’ goes unspoken, "don’t know why he’d love me."

Niall literally scoffs, “don’t be daft! You two are perfect for each other! You guys are freaking adorable. I’ve never wanted to like- settle down- but you’ve got me wanting to find a nice girl! Somebody help me find a nice girl!” he hollers to the patrons on the patio, and there are a few ‘shut up Niall’s’ and an ‘I volunteer.’

Louis giggles into his pint glass, but Niall’s words bounce around his head, “what does he say about me?” he asks sheepishly.

"Honestly mate, we don’t have time to cover it all, but the gist of it is that he thinks you hung the bloody stars. I’m pretty sure he’d chop off his own arm before he’d hurt you," Niall says simply, "he’d do anything for you, bro."

Louis blushes, and normally his skin would be crawling, but maybe the alcohol is preventing that, “everything he says can’t be good Ni,” Louis protests, “half our relationship has been a shit show, because I’m so fucked.”

He knows his words aren’t very clear, but Niall seems to understand, “you’re not fucked Lou, don’t say that. You’ve just got some issues, everyone does. You’re getting better, look you’ve eaten your whole salad!”

Louis groans, and pushes his near empty bowl away, “s’not just that though, I’m all wonky up here,” he says, tapping a finger to his temple.

"Well it doesn’t help when you keep your every thought under lock and key you tosser! Sometimes you gotta let people in! If you should let anyone in, it’s Haz. He’s the best person I’ve ever met, he knows more about me than people I’ve been friends with my whole life, and he’s never judged me once!" Niall picks up a few pieces of lettuce from Louis’ plate.

Louis slouches in his seat dramatically, “he’ll leave.”

Niall lets out something between a laugh and a groan, “Lou I’m pretty sure you could tell Harry that you’re a robot who prefers human flesh to normal food, and he’d still be like a smitten thirteen year old; all blushing and shit when he talks about how perfect you are,” he says.

Louis rolls his eyes, “now that’s a hyper- hyperball- what’s that,” he snaps his fingers as he thinks, “what’s that word for a ridiculous exaggeration? Hyper-something?”

"A hyperbole?" Niall supplies, laughing.

"That’s a hyperbole if I ever heard one, I was gunna say," Louis says, almost completely forgetting what he was talking about before. 

Niall just grins and shakes his head, “ya twat,” he says fondly, Louis giggles, and throws a piece of salad at his face.

The subject has been dropped, and Louis is thankful for that, but he can’t stop thinking about it. His thoughts are hazy because of the alcohol thrumming in his veins, but it’s a good kind of hazy. Niall is talking about some girl in one of his classes and Louis is acting attentive, but his mind is running. It’s a good kind of hazy because it’s letting him think about things that would normally make him ache, without too much pain. He’s able to think about that look that Harry always has in his eyes, that softness that Louis can’t understand. He’s able to think about how much Harry has already stuck by through. He’s able to think about what it would be like if Harry really was something he could keep. 

He’s drawn from his thoughts by a text message, ‘Hey baby, I’m done my exam, I love that Mirrors made you think of me, are you drunk? xxxx.’

Louis’ fingers are a little more inept at this point, but he’s smiling as he hits the call button, “Hey honey,” he says when Harry picks up, “yes I am drunk, thanks to your wanker of a best friend. What’s this place called again?” he asks Niall, who points to the sign over the patio with a grin, “we’re at The Crow, will you come?”

Harry’s laugh is warm, and it makes Louis tingle, “sure sweetheart, I’m driving over now, have you eaten?”

"Yes, had a grilled chicken salad and some vodka," Louis says happily.

"Are you having fun, babe?" Harry asks, and Louis can hear the smile in his voice.

"So much," Louis says, laughing hard as Niall does a spot on imitation of Harry shaking out his hair and sweeping his curls to the side, before coughing in his hand.

"What are you giggling at?" Harry chuckles.

"Niall is my favourite," he says.

"Is your favourite going to be okay to drive home?" 

"Probably definitely not," Louis replies solemnly.

"Alright, you two get the bill and I’ll be there to grab you both in a couple minutes?"

"Sounds lovely!"

"Bye, love you," Harry says, even though he’ll be seeing Louis in a few minutes.

"Love it when you say that," Louis slurs, and he definitely wouldn’t have said it if he weren’t drunk, but he doesn’t necessarily regret it.

"Do you?" Harry asks, and Louis blushes at the disbelief in Harry’s voice.

"Hmm, and not just when I’m drunk enough to tell you," Louis adds, trying for cheeky and just sounding highly inebriated.

"I love you, I love you, I love you," Harry says, happiness clear in his tone.

"Yeah, yeah, just ged ‘ere," he says, and he’s taken back by the fondness in his own voice, but he doesn’t regret that either.

"Coming baby cakes," Harry laughs, and disconnects the call.

Niall and Louis split the bill, and then Niall says goodbye to all the people he knows as they go to his car. They’re just grabbing his textbooks out when Harry pulls up. He gets out and comes around, taking Louis in his arms and pressing kisses on his face until Louis is giggling.

"How was your exam?" Louis asks, as Harry helps him up into the truck. 

"It went well I think," Harry shrugs, taking a proper kiss. 

"Thanks for helping me into the truck," Niall shrieks indignantly.

"Oh sorry mate," Harry says sarcastically.

Niall squawks when Harry picks him up under the armpits, and tosses him into the back seat with no strain at all. Louis giggles in the front seat while Harry and Niall bicker. Harry takes his hand across the seat, and Louis sinks down, and puts his knees up on the glovebox. Harry’s thumb is soft, brushing across Louis’ knuckles, as he drives and chats with Niall. When they get back to the dorm Niall hops out, and he sways on his feet a little, but he insists he’ll be fine to get up to their room.

He plants a wet kiss on Louis’ cheek, and thanks him for a lovely afternoon. Louis ruffles his hair, and fondly informs Niall that he is his favourite. That last pint is hitting Louis, so his words come out a little more slurred, but Niall understands. Niall squeezes Harry’s ass as thanks for the ride, eliciting a less than manly squeak, and then stumbles off towards the building. 

Harry climbs back in the truck, “so, I’ve never seen you drunk before,” he says, as he pulls out of the parking lot. 

Louis giggles, “haven’t been like this in ages,” he says, “used to be like this all the time though!”

"What do you mean?" Harry asks, holding Louis’ hand again.

"When we first came to London all I did was party, for the first two years really," Louis replies, closing his eyes because watching the scenery fly by is making him dizzy.

"And why’d you stop?" Harry asks, his voice sounding far away.

The alcohol is fermenting in Louis’ blood, hitting him a little more by the minute, “because- er- I just-” he swallows thickly, remembering why he stopped, “just stopped.”

He prays Harry will let it drop, because he’s in such a good mood, and he doesn’t want to think about what happened to make him stop. Harry must sense his discomfort because he squeezes Louis’ hand gently, before raising it up and pressing a kiss to his knuckles. 

"S’alright love, I’m glad you had fun. You’re adorable when you’re all giggly like this," he says softly.

Louis muffles a giggle, and opens his eyes to look at Harry, “you’re adorable all the time,” he says, deciding it’s easier to be happy if he keeps his eyes on Harry.

Harry grins, “do you get affectionate when you drink?” he asks playfully.

"I’m affectionate all the time," Louis protests, pretending to be miffed.

Harry laughs, “okay,” he says, “so what did you and Niall talk about all this time?”

Louis shrugs exaggeratedly, “school, football, you,” he says, and he still hasn’t taken his eyes off Harry.

Harry’s eyebrows raise, “what about me?” he grins.

"Mostly your music taste," Louis replies coyly. 

Harry chuckles and squeezes his hand, “is that all?” he asks.

"Basically," Louis shrugs, "fuck, I feel really drunk," he adds, his head feels foggy and the feeling makes him giggle.

"Don’t worry love, we’ll get you home and you can have a nice nap," Harry says gently.

"What are you going to do for the summer?" Louis asks suddenly when the thought pops into his head, "Niall said he was going back to Mullingar?"

Harry hums, keeping up with the random change in topic, “yeah, they make us give up the dorm room for the summer, but we’ve put in to be able to room together next year too. Erm- I’m going to have to go back to Donny, stay with mum,” Harry says.

Louis’ frown is a millimetre away from a pout, but he doesn’t care, “so I won’t see you much?”

Harry frowns too, “we haven’t really talked about it, I don’t even know what your plans are,” he says.

"Erm, the boys always go back home for August, and they don’t like leaving me at the flat alone, so I stay with Li and his family for a couple weeks, and then stay with Zayn and his family for the other two, but other than that we stay at the flat," Louis explains, and his words are a little jumbled, but Harry seems to understand. 

"Oh," Harry says, "so maybe when you’re in town in August we could spend time together? Maybe I could drive back sometimes to take you out in July too," he says hesitantly.

Louis nods slowly, and he hasn’t taken his eyes off Harry, because he’s trying to be happy, “you practically live at the flat anyway….. you could stay with us sometimes,” Louis hesitates, because maybe he wouldn’t have said that if he were sober, “I mean- I know you wanna go home, you must miss your family so much- I’d never expect you to want to stay- I totally get it- I just thought I’d offer- just want you to know you’re welcome- to er- at er-,” he says, as quickly as he can manage with his slurring. 

"Babe, I’d really like that, like a lot," Harry says though, with a soft smile over at Louis, "and also…. I’ve been meaning to ask…. my mum and sister have been dying to meet you?"

Louis blanches a little at the thought of meeting the people most important to Harry, “er- yeah- I mean, sure,” he stutters, he worries his bottom lip between his teeth, “and if they hate me?”

Harry full on laughs, and shakes his head, “Louis they’re going to love you just as much as I do,” he says earnestly, “that I can promise you.”

Louis blushes, but he lets himself feel relieved, the alcohol quiets the voice in his head saying they’ll hate him. They’re quiet for a while, and Harry raises their intertwined hands, brushing his lips back and forth across Louis’ knuckles. They’ve hit evening traffic so the usual ten minute drive to the flat is taking longer. Liam and Zayn won’t be home until later, and Louis is kind of drunk-turned-on, but he’s also kind of drunk-sleepy, so he doubts he’ll be in any shape to do anything. 

Their sex life has been amazing lately, Louis has learned that sometimes, no matter how much he hates having Harry look at his body, all his agonizing thoughts seem to fall away when Harry is slaving over him. He treats Louis’ body like a temple, and when they make love Louis feels so zipped open and vulnerable, but Harry fucking worships him. Sometimes Louis thinks feeling full of Harry, is almost like feeling whole, and he craves that feeling.

"What are you doing after the summer, Lou?" Harry asks, drawing him from his thoughts.

Louis hums, trying to get his thoughts in line, “haven’t thought about it much, to be honest. I mean- Li has a job lined up, and Zayn is doing an apprenticeship, so if they stick around and want to keep the flat, then I’ll stay and take a business course at the uni, and start looking into starting a clothing line. I mean, I know it’s a pretty unrealistic dream, but I’ve still got enough in my savings, and I figure I might as well give it a go.”

"It’s not unrealistic babe, if you make a clothing line you’ll be rich, everything you design is amazing," Harry says seriously, "so that means you’ll be staying, and going to school for at least another year?" he asks slowly.

Louis nods, “yeah but- that all depends on if the boys want to stay or not. If they want to leave, or if erm- if they don’t want me around anymore, then I’ll take an internship in like Italy, or France, or America or something,” he says, and the alcohol just barely manages to numb the twisting in his gut at the thought of the boys wanting to leave him.

"What do you mean, love? They’ve both said they plan to stay at the flat with you, no? Why would they want to leave you?" Harry asks softly.

"Um…well I just applied at the internships as back up plans, in case they changed their minds. Erm- in case they didn’t want to babysit the basket case anymore, and they wanted to go live normal lives without me weighing them down," he’s trying to make a joke of it, but even in his drunken haze he can tell he falls short.

Harry frowns across at him, “you’ve been making back up plans for when your best friends, who love you with all their hearts, get sick of you?” he asks incredulously.

Louis just shrugs, “it’s bound to happen eventually,” he says simply.

"Why do you say that?" Harry asks, not taking his eyes off Louis as they stop at a red light.

"Everyone leaves me eventually," he says, "facts of life young Harold," he adds, forcing a smile and reaching forward to crank up the radio, hoping to end the conversation.

He’s suddenly feeling drunker, but also a lot less happy. The thoughts in his head are harder to ignore and he’s being reminded of just how shit he really is, that he had to make those back up plans. That he’s so fucked up that he knows even his best friends will leave. Suddenly he’s second guessing inviting Harry to stay in the summer. As if they’re still going to be together. Maybe Harry is going to use the distance to break things off. Maybe the day Harry leaves back to Doncaster will be the last time Louis hears from him. Or maybe Harry will just slowly drift away, to try and make it easier on Louis.

Harry pulls the truck in at the flat complex, and puts it into park. He looks like he wants to say something, but instead he opens his door and comes around to help Louis out. Louis tries to hop out gracefully like he normally would, but the earth kind of sways a bit, and he sways right along with it.

"Whoa there," Harry says, reaching out to steady Louis, "dizzy?"

"A little," Louis mumbles.

"Here," Harry says, crouching down in front of Louis.

"What are you doing?" Louis asks confusedly.

"I’m giving you a piggy back, hop on," Harry says simply.

"Harry-"

"If you say you’re too heavy I’m going to carry you like a bride; so you can hop on willingly, or you can be carried by force," Harry says, and his tone is light and playful.

"There is no way in hell you’re going to be able to carry me up three flights of stairs," Louis argues, but he clamours awkwardly onto Harry’s back.

"Thank you," Harry says.

He straightens up with Louis on his back. His arms are hooked under Louis’ knees, and Louis arms wrap across his chest. He turns his lips and puckers them, until Louis leans forward to give him a sideways kiss. Louis feels ridiculously high up, and he keeps himself busy thinking about what it would be like to be as tall as Harry. Then his thoughts drift to how much nicer his body would look if he were long and lean, as opposed to short and fat, and he silences his mind. He can’t even deny how nice it is to be carried like this, and he can’t deny how shocked he is that Harry isn’t dying. He isn’t even breathing heavily, or struggling to hold on, or leaning forward to counteract Louis’ weight.

"You weigh less than my backpack," Harry says when he gets to the top of the stairs, and he doesn’t sound winded at all.

"Tosser," Louis mumbles fondly.

He’s been lulled into relaxation by the steady movement of Harry carrying him, and he barely notices when Harry’s arm wraps back around his bum to hold him up with one arm, while he opens the door to the flat. Harry kicks off his shoes and pads down the hall to the bedroom. He turns around and sits on the edge of the bed, Louis lets go of him and flops back against the mattress. 

Harry reaches down and removes Louis’ shoes, and then he starts unbuttoning Louis’ trousers. He pulls them down and Louis doesn’t even bother covering himself. Harry gently pulls off Louis’ long sleeved t-shirt, and then pulls off his own t-shirt. Louis reaches out and Harry pulls him into a sitting position. Louis holds his arms up, and Harry pulls his t-shirt from the day down Louis’ arms, and over his head, mussing up his soft fringe. 

Louis absolutely loves when Harry gives him the shirt that he’s worn all day. He loves the way Harry’s shirts are so loose on him, how they fall down to his thighs. He loves the way the fabric is still warm when he pulls it on. But mostly he loves the way they smell so much like Harry, not just his cologne. but whatever that smell is that is purely Harry. Louis vaguely notices Harry opening his mouth like he wants to say something and then closing it again, before he finally speaks.

"I was thinking Louis, I know that Liam and Zayn are never going to leave you, so I know the three of you will keep the flat, and I’m really glad you’ll be at school with me again next year," Harry says, sitting down next to Louis on the bed, "but I just want you to know that if, for some crazy reason, they do decide they don’t want to keep the flat or- or for some reason you can’t live with them anymore…I was thinking you and I could always get a flat together. I know it’s soon, but that way you could stay in London, and do your clothing label, and you wouldn’t have to leave- erm- leave the country… I just want you to know that even if you didn’t have them, which I know you always will, but the point I’m trying to make is- you have me too, okay? I’d love to live with you….and I just want you to know that I’m here too, alright?" Harry’s voice is hesitant and shaky.

"Don’t do that Harry," Louis mutters, scooting up on the bed to the pillows.

"Don’t do what?" Harry asks, tucking Louis’ legs under the covers.

"Don’t talk about the future with me, like you’re planning on sticking around," Louis says exasperatedly, "frankly it isn’t very nice, and I don’t much fancy the idea of getting my hopes up for something, that we both know is never going to happen."

He can tell Harry is frowning down at him but he isn’t exactly sure which of the two identical faces looming over him is the real physical Harry, and which is the product of a few too many alcoholic beverages. He feels the bed creak down beside him, and he accidentally lets out an unattractive hiccup. His mood has plummeted, because for a minute, while Harry was talking, his heart warmed. Warmed at the thought of a LouisandHarry flat, just the two of them, having Harry every day to himself. He is so stupid for even letting that thought into his mind.

"Why do you think that isn’t going to happen?" the Harry’s ask, and Louis feels fingers drag gently through his hair. 

Louis rolls his eyes, but instantly regrets it because the room spins, “because everybody leaves Harold, everybody leaves me eventually.”

"See, you keep saying that Lou, but it doesn’t make any sense to me," Harry sighs.

"Well of course it doesn’t make any sense to you, because who would leave someone like you," Louis says, reaching up to pat Harry’s cheek and missing, "but nobody sticks around for people like me."

"I find it hard to believe, because I could never imagine wanting to leave you," Harry says, and Louis sighs at the tenderness in his deep voice.

"Well that, my dear, is because you really don’t know me very well at all!"

Louis hears Harry hum, and it’s a sad sound, his fingers stop moving through Louis’ hair, “well that sucks, considering I’m in love with you and all, and considering you know everything about me,” Harry says quietly.

Niall’s words about opening up to Harry, are bouncing around in his head. The words are on the tip of his tongue. He tells himself this is like the ‘being open about his feelings’ thing; Harry is going to leave either way, he might as well lay all his cards on the table. Everything is just numb enough from the liquor that it seems like a fantastic idea.

"Yeah it does suck, I suppose," he sighs, but then he lets out a giggle that turns into a snort, "just thought of something funny."

"What funny thing did you think of, love?"

Louis giggles again, “you know that saying ‘a face only a mother could love’?” Louis asks, Harry murmurs a yes, “well I haven’t even got that!” Louis laughs, “haven’t ever told you about my mum, now have I?”

"No babe, you haven’t," Harry says quietly.

"She’s really lovely, you know," Louis says, kicking his feet under the blankets so he isn’t tangled in the sheets, "my father fucked off almost right after I was born. She was really young, too young to be stuck with me probably, but she loved me. Always said I was the best thing that ever happened to her, always said she wouldn’t change a thing. You might think I wouldn’t remember, but I do, I remember her singing to me. She always said it was me and her against the world. She was lovely, you know," Louis smiles up at the ceiling, Harry’s fingers are moving in his hair again, "then she met Mark, and she had the girls. Mark didn’t like me the same as the girls, but who can blame him for that? I wasn’t his, and the girls were so lovely. I can’t blame him for that. He still fed me the same as the girls, and bought me clothes for school, and mum was happy. He didn’t really like me, but it was okay because Mum was happy, and the girls were so lovely," Louis picks at a loose thread on the blanket absentmindedly.

He doesn’t tell Harry about how sometimes Mark got angry when he was drunk, and even though he was only seven, it fell on Louis. After the second time he saw Mark hit his mum he learned. He learned that if he was a brat, and if he pissed Mark off when he was mad and plastered, then Mark would hit him instead, and leave his mum alone. His mum had begged him to stop doing it, to stop misbehaving and let her deal with Mark, but that was never an option for Louis. Louis knew from a very young age that he would gladly take a bullet for his mum, so he could handle deflecting her husbands rage for her. It was never anything too terrible, a slap here, a kick there, a lot of yelling. Louis didn’t mind, because after, when Mark was passed out on the couch, his mum would come in, and kiss all his sore spots, and sing him to sleep. 

"I know you love the girls, Lou, you’ve told me about them before," Harry says softly, drawing Louis’ attention back again.

"You asked me once why I was cynical, Harry. I was cynical before any of this other shit happened. I was cynical before I was even old enough to know anything about relationships. I could never, ever understand how, if someone as amazing, as kind, as beautiful, as sweet, and loving, as my mother could be alone, and not have anyone to love her, how could love be real? If anyone deserved it, it was her. I never believed in love, because if she couldn’t have it, how could I?"

"Lou-"

"It was my fault Mark left you know, just like it was my fault my dad left before that," Louis says, frowning slightly as he flops over onto his stomach, "I was kinda hyperactive, a bit of a shit really, not good like the girls. I fucked it up for Mum, Mark hated me and he left us, left the girls behind because of me too. I fucked it up for everybody."

Louis had always blamed himself for not finding some balance, between being bad to protect his mum, and just letting his hate for Mark show through all the time. As he got older his attitude towards Mark got worse, and they were constantly butting heads. He ruined it for his mum. She said she didn’t blame him, but Louis had to look at the girls when they cried because they missed their dad, and look at his mum who was once again alone, and he knew it was his fault.

"You-"

"After that I promised I’d be better. I got a job and I helped out Mum, helped her take care of the girls. Things were okay for a while," Louis says, wiggling closer to Harry, "and then she met Dan. But I fucked that up too. She met Dan and he was willing to take care of all of us, and my mum had another shot at being happy, but I fucked it up."

"How? I don’t believe that," Harry says.

Louis lets out a cold laugh, that rings in his own ears, “because I was a faggot, Harry.”

"Babe-" Harry gasps, and Louis can see his shock, even though his face is blurry. 

"I was so good with Dan, he and I got on so well. We were finally fucking happy, all of us were happy. Dan and I even used to play footie together, he actually liked spending time with me. We weren’t struggling for money, he let me quit my part time job because he made enough money to support us all. It was fan-fucking-tastic, Haz! And mum and the girls were so fucking happy, and I was too," Louis looks up at Harry, "And then I decided that it would be a good idea to come out."

"What happened then?" Harry asks gently, and Louis squints his eyes to try and focus on his face.

"Well nothing for the rest of the school year I suppose. I knew Dan wasn’t happy. The footie games stopped that’s for sure, the talking stopped, unless it was him muttering shit under his breath at me. I wasn’t an idiot, I wasn’t expecting them to throw me a coming out party, or anything," Louis says, flailing his arms around for emphasis, "figured it would take them some time to get used to. I was more worried about the people at school, didn’t really think too much about what mum and Dan would think, to be honest. 

I sure clued in when Stan beat the shit out of me, and Dan flat out told me I deserved it. It was pretty clear he hated me then. I should have known when mum watched me drag myself bleeding up to my room, without saying a word or asking if I was okay, that she wasn’t very impressed either,” Louis feels the twinge of hurt in his chest but he ignores it, forcing out a laugh instead, “It sucked yeah, and things were shit at home, but I just spent more time at Li’s and Zayn’s,” Harry’s face comes into focus for a second, and Louis rolls his eyes again, “oh please Harry, don’t look all sad about that. Do you know how many kids deal with parents who aren’t okay with them being gay? I was bloody lucky. Only half the school hated me, and I had two best friends who didn’t give a shit that I was gay. Not to mention both of them had parents who took me in, and treated me way better than I deserved! That’s a lot more than most kids get, yeah?”

Louis doesn’t want Harry to know how much it killed him. What it felt like to have his mum, who he would have killed or died for, just completely stop talking to him. He didn’t let the Dan thing hurt as much, because he was used to the men in his mothers life hating him, but his mum wouldn’t even look him in the eyes.

Harry sighs softly, and Louis sees his blurry frown, “then what?”

Louis shrugs, “I’ve told you some of this before, darling. After Liam beat the shit out of Stan, everyone mostly left me alone. I finished up school, just stayed away from home. When I was home neither of them talked to me, except Dan’s colourful names for me, I suppose. It sucked that mum basically pretended I didn’t exist, but I figured it would blow over; that they’d forgive me for being gay eventually, and things would be okay,” Louis laughs, “then when school was over they told me I had three days to get my shit out of the house.”

"What?" Harry stutters, sitting up with confusion on his face.

"Dan told me that I was required to get my queer faggot ass out of his house, and never to contact his family again. It’s funny how quick they went from being my family to his," Louis laughs and shrugs again, the alcohol is still managing to smooth out the edges of the memory so it doesn’t cut as bad, "Mum just stood behind him when he told me, just looked right through me like I wasn’t even her son."

Louis shudders at the memory, because he can feel exactly how cold he felt that day. Crying and asking his mum if she was really going to let Dan do this. His cries had gone unanswered, and he’ll never forget the look on her face, like she didn’t even know who he was. 

"What did you do?" Harry whispers.

Louis shrugs, “I was lucky, I had that trust fund my grandfather left me. Luckily I didn’t come out until after he was dead, and the money was in my name, or I definitely wouldn’t have seen a cent of that. But anyway, I had the trust fund and a scholarship to uni. So I got my shit out of the house and I planned to come here, to London. Liam and Zayn decided to come with me,” Louis says, fondness colouring his tone, “to this day I don’t know why. Why they gave up everything to come with me, but they did. I was lucky again Harry, I had the two best friends in the world, I had enough money to get by, I got to come to school.”

He remembers the day Liam and Zayn helped him get everything out of the house. He wasn’t allowed to take the furniture, but they helped pack up his clothes when Louis was simultaneously too sad, and angry, and numb, to do it. He still remembers the way Liam told his mum that she was the scum of the earth for letting Dan do this to her son, before they left. Zayn had to lead Louis out, and then go back to drag Liam out.

"But your mum just let him kick you out like that?" Harry asks angrily, "that isn’t right."

"Harry what the fuck do you expect?" Louis snaps, getting frustrated at him for being so naive, "she was on her third fucking husband, after I ruined the first two for her! If I hadn’t come along her and my dad could have stayed together, maybe until they were older, and ready for a kid. If it wasn’t for me she could have been happy with Mark, the girls wouldn’t have lost their dad. She had to choose between Dan or I, I could never blame her for choosing him! And you think I’m the first person in the world to be kicked out for being gay?"

"That doesn’t make it right," Harry protests.

"Yeah, well I’m not going to deny I was angry. I came with the boys here and I partied it away," Louis chuckles, "thats what I meant when I told you I spent those two years drunk, and keeping myself busy with Max, and Hunter, and Mitchell. It was fine. Everything was fine."

Everything wasn’t fine. Louis remembers hating himself even then. He remembers how much it killed him. But that was easier, so much easier to blame Dan. He was furious, and hurt, and let down, but he could never blame his mum. He hated Dan for doing that, for making her choose, but he never blamed her for choosing Dan. He knew his mum had loved him, and he understood that she just needed to keep Dan around. He couldn’t blame her for that. 

"Told myself it was Dan’s fault. I told myself he was just homophobic, and hateful, and ignorant. I was angry, but I was just angry at him. I could never blame her. How could I blame her for being desperate to make her third marriage work, to keep things okay for the girls? I could never blame her for that. And I could handle the anger. I was pissed off, but I knew I wasn’t the first person ever to be kicked out of a family for being gay. I knew I wasn’t the first person to be disowned over their sexuality. Whatever, it was fine. It fucking sucked, and I was angry, and I hated him for it, but it was fine," Louis explains quietly, his brow furrowed but his eyes closed. 

Harry’s fingers are soft where they brush through his hair, “you didn’t deserve that Lou. She should have told Dan to go fuck himself,” he opens his eyes and realizes Harry has tears running down his cheeks, “she’s your mum, she has to love you no matter what.”

Louis tries to laugh, but it comes out as more of a pained sob, “why are you crying, Harry?” Louis scoffs, his voice cold and shaking, “we haven’t even got to the best part of the story yet!”

Harry lets out something like a whimper, “it gets worse?”

Louis shrugs, “depends whose side you’re looking at it from,” he says dryly.

"Yours," Harry mumbles, "of course yours."

When Louis lets himself think back to that day, it feels like someone punches straight through his sternum, shattering the bone, and dislodging each rib. He feels a fist clench around his heart, like a vice, and he feels the ripping, the tearing, as his feebly beating heart is dragged out of his chest cavity. It hurts to breathe, it hurts to think, so he shuts it off. He remains silent, until he can get himself into some semblance of calm. 

"Was right after the start of term," Louis says, "I came home and made myself a cup of tea, and sat down in the kitchen to sketch. I didn’t notice that Liam was even home until he came out of the bathroom and sat back down in front of his laptop in the living room. I was going to say hi but then he started talking, and I realized he was on a Skype call with his mum. He always does that, just leaves Skype running when he’s talking to her, instead of calling her back after he uses the loo. I don’t know why he does that, poor Karen just has to stare at the back of the sofa while he goes off for a wee, or a cuppa, or whatever."

"Karen is his mum’s name?" Harry sniffles, and Louis is brought back to focus.

Louis nods, “I stayed silent in the kitchen because Li had been worried about me, and so by extension Karen had been worried about me, because she had taken me in as her own. I didn’t want to deal with her fawning over me, being all worried. So I didn’t tell him I was home, I just kept sketching while they chattered on.”

Louis can feel the alcohol slowly wearing off and he kind of wishes he could have a few more shots. It hurts, so fucking much, but he knows he’s started now, and it’s too late to stop. Harry looks like he wants to scream, and Louis almost laughs through his drunken haze, because Harry is just so fucking empathetic.

"And then what happened?"

"And then I heard my mum’s name. Karen said that she had a run in with Jo, and of course my fucking ears perked up while Karen told Li the story. Karen had heard that they had divorced, that Dan had moved out, and she said she hadn’t believed it, but then she drove by mum’s house and there were moving trucks outside. I could tell Karen was getting upset as she was telling Li the story. I didn’t know anything about them divorcing, and I knew Liam didn’t either. So Karen tells him how she stopped, and stormed out of her car because she saw mum in the front yard directing the movers. She told Liam she hadn’t talked to mum since last time when Patricia and her had that argument with mum at the grocery store," Louis sighs.

"Who is Patricia?" Harry asks softly.

"Zayn’s mum. The three of our mum’s used to be best friends, but after Dan kicked me out they- they’re um- really protective of me. I guess they were together, and they had seen my mum at the grocery store one day after the boys and I had moved here. I guess they just lost it on her, for letting Dan kick me out," Louis says softly, "Anyway. So she told Liam about how she stormed over to my mum on her lawn, and demanded to know if it was true that they had divorced. They had," Louis takes in a shaky breath and rubs at his eyes, "And it was so fucking stupid, because I remember sitting in the kitchen, and for a second I thought about going home. I thought maybe with Dan gone, she would let me back in," Louis lets out a laugh, but he knows he isn’t going to be able to hold in his tears much longer, "apparently Karen thought the same thing.

Karen said she had asked mum if that meant she was going to apologize to me, for turning me away. Liam had asked what her response had been. I could hear Karen crying then, and I knew. Apparently my mum’s exact words were ‘why the fuck would I want that disgusting faggot in my house.’ Turns out it wasn’t just Dan who wanted me gone. I remember Liam hollering ‘she said what!’ and throwing something at wall. He gets his temper from his mum so I remember hearing her saying she almost slapped my mum, right then and there. I listened to the rest, the erm- the rest of the things my mum had said about me. How I wasn’t her son, and how she didn’t give a shit what happened to me, how she was taking the girls away, and how she hoped she never had to see me, that queer, again. And I remember how angry Li and Karen were, on my behalf, but I don’t remember being angry anymore, which was a change, because I was so fucking mad before,” Louis is glad his face is hidden because it’s wet, “And I didn’t know what to do so I just left.”

“Oh baby,” Harry breathes, and Louis can hear the tears in his voice.

It’s worse when he hears the pain in Harry’s voice. The pain that is there because he feels so much for Louis. He wants to snuggle in with Harry, and forget it ever happened, but he can’t. He can’t because his skin is crawling, and talking about that day is turning up the volume on the voices in his head, screaming that he doesn’t deserve anything. That he doesn’t deserve Harry’s fingers carding through his hair, or the empathy in his voice.

“I just- I didn’t understand. Before it hurt me that she let Dan make me leave, and I knew she was mad at me. But I thought she was mad that me coming out had fucked things up with Dan. I had thought she just had to make me go, to hold onto Dan for her and the girls. It never even crossed my mind that- I’m a fucking idiot but- I never thought she actually- never thought she hated me for being gay,” Louis can hardly talk through the tears.

“She shouldn’t have Louis, that’s so wrong. She isn’t a good person,” Harry says shakily.

“Don’t say that!” Louis snaps, “you don’t fucking know her! She isn’t the fucking problem, Harry! I am! I was a shit son! I fucking drove away everyone who ever loved her just by existing. I ruined her fucking life! Mark probably fucking knew I was gay, that’s probably another reason he hated me so much. I was such a bloody fairy even back then, fucking prancing around, being so fucking camp! No wonder he left! And then Dan. Now I can’t even just blame him for kicking me out, when I know it was actually my Mum. Because she saw what I was, what I am. How can I blame her for hating me for that! I lost my dad, I lost my stepdads, I lost my sisters, and I lost her, the one person I ever thought loved me, because I’m gay!”

That conversation Karen had with his mum had obliterated Louis. It had felt like somebody shoved a grenade down his throat, and he exploded from the inside out. He didn’t know who he was anymore, he didn’t know what was going on. He had loved his mum with everything he had, and even when she kicked him out, he had genuinely believed that  she did love him. But she hadn’t. He made her hate him, by being gay. He realized then that he had no fucking clue what love was, and if it even existed he definitely didn’t deserve it, would never have it.

“Louis that’s so wrong! She is so wrong for treating you that way because of your sexuality! There is nothing wrong with being gay!”

“There is!” Louis bellows.

“Why because some fucking bible, that god didn’t even write says so?” Harry asks.

“It has nothing to do with that, Harry! She wasn’t even slightly religious! It wasn’t about God, it wasn’t about heaven or hell, she just fucking- she just fucking hates me for it! And I cant fucking blame her, because me being gay has ruined everything!”

“You being gay hasn’t ruined anything! You being born into a family of homophobic, ignorant, horrible people is the only reason those things have happened to you! There is nothing wrong with being gay!”

“How can you fucking say that to me when I lost everything I ever cared about just because I like dick? The one thing I cant change about myself cost me everything!”

“Louis their closed mindedness and hatefulness cost you everything, and you’re better off without people like that!”

Louis’ skin is too tight, his chest is too small, he can feel the pain rushing through him like fire. He wants to scream, he wants to cry, he wants to find the tallest building and throw himself off of it. He wishes he never told Harry any of this. Now that he’s opened the compartment of his brain that he’s worked so hard to keep closed all this time, it’s like it’s all hitting him again. 

“Better off?” Louis cries out, shoving away from Harry, “how can you fucking say I’m better off when I feel like this!”

“Is that why you’re doing this Louis? When Liam and Zayn asked if you were punishing yourself, is that what this is!? Is your anorexia you punishing yourself for being- because you’re gay!?” Harry’s voice is shaking, and he’s barely holding back a sob.

Harry’s statement is like the hammer hitting the nail right on the head, and driving the nail right into Louis heart. He’s never told anyone this. Liam chased after him that night when he heard Louis leaving the flat, but Zayn had been borrowing Liam’s car, and Louis drove away leaving Liam on the curb. That was the night he found the random parkade.

He had sat there for hours, with his mothers words festering inside his head. He could hear her voice, like venom, disintegrating all of the stitches he’d carefully placed in his heart, to hold himself together after being shunned and sent away. He had taken two years to try and mend himself, to lick his wounds, and numb them with alcohol. Only to find out that it wasn’t as simple as a homophobic step dad and a desperate mother.

Only to find out that there was something fundamentally wrong with him in his core. Something about him so terrible, and so disgusting, that even his own mother couldn’t love him anymore. Not even just couldn’t love him, but couldn’t fucking stand him. She hated him with everything inside of her.

The memory of those hours he spent, sitting on the ledge of that parkade, is burned into his mind. He will never be able to forget that night, because that was the night he realized he didn’t want to be alive anymore. The night he realized that he didn’t deserve to be alive. Nobody would ever love him, no matter how hard he tried, nothing could make him good enough. He was detrimentally flawed, ruined by something deep inside him that he couldn’t control. He watched everything he had ever believed disappear, washed away by the pouring rain, and his mothers words.

He wished he could go back, never breathe a word about fancying guys, he could act normal, flirt with girls, not be a fag. He could still be his mum’s son, he could still have the girls, he could still have a family. He could still have love.

He had tried for a moment, to tell himself his mum was homophobic, and that he couldn’t change, and that it was her fault for being hateful. Except he knew it wasn’t. His mum had always been so loving, so tender, so kind to him. She had loved him once upon a time, Louis knew it. Except she couldn’t after she knew he was gay. That wasn’t her fault, it was his. 

Somehow Liam had found him there, and Louis had just acted angry, like he was mad at her for hating him. Well it was more like Liam acted angry and promised Louis she was the scum of the earth, and that he was so much better than that, and Louis pretended to agree. And then he pretended to be okay. And then he went home. And then he spent the night thinking of the best way to kill himself.

Looking back now he tries to tell himself he shouldn’t have been suicidal over his mum calling him a faggot, but she was everything to him. It destroyed him at the core, knowing that she would never again call him her son, never again tell him she loved him. He had felt so pathetic that he had been holding out hope for two years, hoping she’d give him a chance to come home again eventually. She hates him, and he doesn’t know who he is if his own mother can’t even love him.

He had spent the weekend in his bedroom, begging Liam and Zayn to give him space. That was the first seventy two hours Louis ever went without eating. He hadn’t done it on purpose, he had just been too busy sinking into the blackness, too busy fantasizing about offing himself, to notice that he was hungry. He got out of bed for school on Monday, and he acted like he was fine, like he just needed a weekend to get over it. Except the suicidal thoughts didn’t leave, and he also didn’t eat. He broke up with Mitchell that night, he stopped talking to people in class, went to bed as soon as he got home, and he didn’t eat. 

"I didn’t mean for this to happen," Louis says quietly, "it wasn’t like I sat down and decided, I’m fat and my mummy doesn’t love me, so I’m going to stop eating."

"So what happened, baby," Harry sobs, and Louis doesn’t fight it when Harry gathers him up in his lap.

Louis is sobbing now, drunk and messy and breaking, it hurts, “have you ever gone two days without eating Harry? Three, four, seven? Have you ever felt hunger pains, so strong that it feels like your stomach is ripping apart?” Louis draws in a sharp breath, remembering the feeling, “it’s the best fucking feeling in the world.”

"What?" Harry sobs.

"I wanted to die Harry. I was thinking about killing myself. But then I felt that tearing, that ache inside, and it was like- it was like the pain just wasn’t in my head anymore, and I could feel it in my body, and it just felt so fucking good. I wanted to hurt myself Harry, and that hurt. Starving myself hurt. It hurt so good."

Harry is quiet for a moment, but his arms just tighten around Louis, “like how Gemma cut herself,” he says, so quietly Louis almost doesn’t hear.

Louis blanches at that, but he can’t bring himself to deny it, “I just- it was so much easier to focus on how hungry I was, than to focus on…. on how much I wanted to be done.”

Harry is full on crying against Louis’ hair now, and Louis is crying silently too, “how did it turn into this- this hating your body. When did it stop being about the pain, and start being about how you looked?” Harry asks shakily. 

Louis breathes out a shaky sigh, “I hadn’t eaten for seven days, and I almost blacked out coming up to the stairs to the flat. So I ate some toast with butter, and I just felt so disgusting after. So I was just eating the tiniest things I could get away with to keep myself from passing out, because I needed to feel hungry. And then a couple weeks later a couple of people just said in passing that I looked like I had lost weight, that I looked good. And then I was thinking about all the things Hunter used to say to me, about my tummy, and my thighs. I realized that if they thought I looked better, it meant I didn’t look good before. And I went back and looked at pictures. 

And I fucking realized how repulsive I was. How fat I was. I had the hugest gut Harry, and I’ve always had a fat ass and huge thighs. I was disgusting,” Louis shakes his head, “and it was just more motivation to keep not eating. But then Liam and Zayn noticed that they hadn’t had a sit down meal with me in ages. So they planned a big family dinner. I told them I was on a diet so they wouldn’t expect me to eat as much. They like argued with me and told me I was perfect the way I was and all that, but even when I ate less food I felt like shit after. So I started lying about eating huge meals before they came home, so I wouldn’t have to eat in front of them, but so they also wouldn’t worry about me dieting. And it was winter so they never noticed me losing weight, and I found a balance, so I wasn’t starving myself, but so I was keeping the weight off, and losing,” Louis sniffles, and rubs at his eyes, “And then I met you.”

Harry pulls back and his eyes are wet, and the deepest shade of green Louis’ ever seen them, “I’m so, so sorry, Louis,” he says shakily, and Louis can feel it in his voice. 

"I’m sorry- I’m sorry that I can’t be what you deserve," Louis says.

Harry pulls back so quickly that Louis almost flops over, “Louis, listen to me. You are the best thing that has ever happened to me. You have no fucking idea how much it means to me that you finally told me all of this. But I need you to know, that everything you feel about yourself; all of that self hate, that voice inside your head telling you there is something wrong with you, it’s all wrong. You are a beautiful person and I love you with all my heart, and we’re going to get you through this,” he says, not taking his eyes off of Louis’, even though they’re both still crying.

Louis wishes he could tell Harry, ‘okay I believe you that things are going to be okay, and I love you too,’ but he can’t. He can’t because things aren’t going to be okay. Even if he puts on weight, even if he acts happy, even if the boys and Harry never leave him, it’s never going to stop the pain.

"I’m tired," he says quietly.

Harry nods, “okay sweetheart,” he says, his voice infinitely soft, “you sleep as long as you need.”

"Will you stay with me?" Louis asks sheepishly.

"Of course love," Harry says.

He’s already out of his t-shirt because Louis is wearing it, so he just pulls his legs out of his skinny jeans and crawls into bed beside Louis in his boxers. Louis buries his face against Harry’s chest, and lets Harry’s arms envelop him. He doesn’t know if Harry is even going to be here when he wakes up, he wouldn’t blame Harry for leaving after he just confessed all his pathetic little secrets. He doesn’t know where they go from here. He doesn’t know if he’s going to be able to pull himself together tomorrow, when all his thoughts keep drifting back to her, and how fucked up he is. He knows he’s fucked. He’s broken, and wrong, and he knows he’s unlovable. Because if she couldn’t love him, how could anyone else. He just misses her so fucking much, and he misses the girls, and he misses knowing who he was. Right now he kind of just wants to die. 

Chapter Twenty Seven

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okay im sorry this chapter was such a fucking monster but i took a poll and everyone said to post it all at once. also im so sorry for all the horrible derogatory names. i’m pretty sure everyone knew who she was already bc i thought it was pretty obvious from the beginning, sadly a lot of people develop eating disorders for things less complicated than this, i hope you guys thought the back story was okay. from now on i will be posting on sundays at 1pm canadian mountain standard time, because i need the saturday to buckle down and write i never had time to write after work during the week before. thank you to everyone for being so lovely and so kind and for reading. thank you to everyone who makes art for fading, and all the trailers and banners are so amazing! here is the fading playlist. follow my twitter if you want @tothemoonmydear i post teasers every week. thanks so much guysss

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    okay i’ve finally reached this point in which i’m reading the new chapters I could never finish. wish me luck.