"I want a divorce."
And Harry's only just walked in the front door, sports bag slung over shoulder, hair properly disheveled, face looking beyond the point of caring anymore. And he's just there. There's nothing special about him, he's only present and that's it.
He would be lying, Harry, if he said he wasn't expecting it. If he acted shocked. But you are no one to think that it didn't hurt all the same. Even more so, perhaps, living every day waiting for Louis to say something, to bring it up.
And so here he is. There he is. There they both are. And Harry only sighs, shutting the door with a soft click and dropping his bag on the floor just to the side, walking over to the island silently. He hasn't looked at Louis, not since the moment he uttered those words. Which really is a lot longer than it seems. They're both in silence now, Louis watching Harry carefully as he pulls down a glass - one of their proper alcohol ones - and turns over to their mini bar shelves, reaching for the gin in silence.
"Want a glass?" He asks finally, breaking the silence as he takes a sip and leans over the counter, still adamantly avoiding looking at Louis.
"No." Is all Louis says, and it's not rude. Just stale.
Harry gives a slight smile and a small huff of air as if in mock of a laugh and even though Louis can only see his profile he knows it's one of those ironic smiles of disbelief Harry rarely pulls. Harry's eyebrow cocks. "You know, it's actually probably good you didn't want one. Might've thrown the glass at you." He says, taking another sip.
And now Louis' flustered and annoyed and Harry's childish behavior about the situation is absolutely infuriating. But he tries to calm himself. "Really Harry, you're going to act like this? I brought up divorce and you're really just going to avoid the conversation all together? This is happening Harry, and I'd like to talk about it with you like the adults that we are." Louis says, more or less through his teeth.
Harry's reaction is brash. He slams the cup on the counter top harshly, turning over and shouting at Louis: "Then would you mind turning around, Louis? Would that be such a bother to you? Do you want to punish me for not being able to look at your face anymore as well? Because God knows as long as you're here and as long as this is happening I can't look at you without wanting to die." And Harry hadn't meant to say that. Louis' shocked and perhaps a bit hurt, but fuck him, he has no right to be. It's over. Harry sighs, his head hanging between his shoulders as his knuckles turn white from clenching the counter top. He's trying to calm himself, he really is. "It fucking hurts, Louis. It really does."
Louis gulps dryly but manages to make himself superior over his emotions despite the slight shake in his voice. "What does, Harry? What hurts?"
"You!" And now Harry's really shouting. "Looking at you and wondering where the hell I went wrong is what hurts, Louis." His name passes his lips and it's almost as if he's disgusted, spitting them out like poison. Louis was fine about this before - more fine than now, that is - keeping his emotions to himself and the walls of his bedroom at night (as Harry had recently been sleeping on the couch), but no one's ever been able to make him react like Harry does. And it's really terrible, all of this, but this is what they've been leading to for the past few years and they both know it. Knew it. Still.
"Well," Louis says softly, the lump in his throat he's desperately trying to hold back making his voice shaky. "I'm sorry you feel that way, Harry." He says, wiping roughly at a stray tear that managed to leave his eye. He sniffles and clears his throat. "I'm going to visit my mum tomorrow, I'll be back in a few days. For now, though, I'll be up in my room. Packing."
They get a divorce. It hurts.
"Hey Harry, you wanna know something?" Louis asks on top of a sleepy Harry, eyes wide and cute and innocent and if Harry was sleepy before, all he wants to do right now is grab Louis and roll him over and kiss him all over the face before pulling him in and just cuddling him. He holds himself back.
Harry smiles. "What?" He asks tiredly, eyes half opened and lovingly on Louis.
"You've got a nice bum." And Harry can't hold back the bark of laughter that erupts from his throat because only Louis, only Louis would.
"You kept me up at two in the morning to tell me that, Louis?"
Louis smiles mischievously. "Problem?"
Harry just looks at him.
"You." He says and Louis' head tilts in confusion, eyebrows furrowing as he looks at Harry. "You are my problem. Do you wanna know something, Louis?"
Louis doesn't say anything.
"It's two in the morning, you've got all your weight on me - which, by the way, is a damn lot for two in the morning - and you won't let me get to sleep, yet I can't find it in me to be bothered by it. You know how I feel right now, Louis?"
Louis shakes his head, hands splayed across Harry's chest in anticipation.
"Like kissing you. I feel like I'm the luckiest person on earth, like I never want you to leave me. Like I want to be with you forever. That's how I feel right now, Louis. That's how I'll always feel."
Harry's left with the house and really it's actually good luck because if not he'd probably be out living on the streets somewhere. Doesn't make a difference, never will. Harry doesn't feel anything anymore and it's alright, he doesn't quite care anymore. He tried to cry the first few nights left in the house alone (forever), but it just ended up with him staring at a wall or the ceiling or just plain nothing with a pain in his throat he couldn't quite place. He hardly had thoughts, or maybe he had so many that he just forgot them all, he's not sure.
His days from then on were cold (air conditioner) and quiet and filled with alcohol and just there. They were just days and hours and minutes, they no longer meant anything. He was just there, life was just there and that's all it was. There. He didn't drink to suppress his emotions or any of that other stuff they put in movies, he drank because he didn't know what else to do. He was numb and his whole life was gray. He wasn't an alcoholic, he just drank a lot of alcohol.
He tried watching divorce movies on Netflix, figured that maybe they'd pull some kind of emotion out of him. He watched every single last one of them and didn't feel a thing. There was nothing left in him and he couldn't find it in him to care. He did have random outbursts of tears, though. Just random episodes where his emotions came out on overflow for no reason at all and Harry couldn't figure out why but he didn't mind it. It was nice to feel sometimes, but if he had to choose he'd probably choose to be numb for the rest of his life - mostly because that's all he knew anymore.
Sometimes Harry cries at night. Just small little tears, nothing much. What gets him most is the lonely sheets of the bed. Cold. He doesn't often venture to thinking about Louis, but sometimes he wonders if the sheets had always felt this cold and if Louis' new ones feel the same. If Louis' found someone new to share them with.
He wasn't depressed, just living. Just there.
Harry used to think he was lucky. Used to think that maybe he should probably count his blessings - which he did - and hope that, if things didn't get better than they already were, things wouldn't get bad. Harry now realizes that he probably didn't really see Louis for what he was worth in his life. How much it would hurt if he left him. He was all awe struck and heart eyes with him all the time, but sometimes Harry wonders if maybe he didn't tell him enough times that he loved him. He said it often and even more in his head, but maybe that was never enough. Maybe this is all his fault.
"So how're you holding up, then? Harry?" Niall's been kind enough to Harry, avoiding the topic but now Harry's just blatantly not present in mind and Niall knew he'd have to get around to it at some point.
"Yeah, uh, yeah, alright." Harry stutters on autopilot. He doesn't care. (He's also used to it.) Niall looks at him weird, but he doesn't say anything, just sips his coffee. Harry's is still on the table, probably gone cold as he hasn't touched it once.
"How is he?" Harry broaches quietly. He's trying to seem casual about it, like it really doesn't matter, but he knows it shows on his face. On his entirety. Niall sighs.
"Harry, do you know how long it's been?" Harry shrugs.
"A month." Niall sets his cup down and now he's looking at Harry with concerned eyes and Harry isn't enjoying it. He scoots back into his chair casually.
"Six, Harry. It's been six months since the break up. Where the hell have you been?"
Harry's shocked at this new information and he's also a bit confused and feeling some emotion at Niall's harshness but he's not sure what. He furrows his eyebrows. "Hibernating." He offers as an explanation. He was trying to be funny, really, but Niall's not having any of it.
He sighs. "Look, Harry, I know that - what happened - was really tough and all, and I get it, I totally do, but that doesn't mean you have to hide yourself or you should feel like you can hide yourself, because you can't. Alright? I know that it sucks, but we're your friends and you don't get to break up with us. You just don't."
Harry looks at Niall and he doesn't know what to say. After moments of confused contemplation he decides to throw it back at Niall. "How is he?" He asks, and this time he's serious. "If you're my friend and you're worried and you care, you'll tell me how he is. I promise I'll get out more, I'll go to the gym or something, I just want to know. That's all. I just want to know."
Niall sighs and it's probably the fiftieth time he's done it but Harry doesn't care, he just wants to know. "When you two first split, he was really broken. He was just awful, bags under his eyes, body beginning to frail, loss of appetite. He was entirely broken. He got himself an apartment up North and just stayed there everyday. Went to the shops with hunched shoulders and just a cloud above his head. He didn't care anymore and he only went to the shops because I made him. He was really messed up over you, still is, but he's...better now." Niall pauses and Harry's eyebrow quirks in casual interest.
"Apparently he made nice with a guy who's mam lived next door to him. It's a cute little story actually, he knocked on the wrong door with flowers in his hands and Louis took them and sent him off, told him to bring him a better quality bouquet next time he decided to pop by and shut the door on him. Four months later and they're talking now, taking things slow. The guy - Jack, such a child's name - he understands and doesn't pressure him or even offer to take things to the next step, leaves it all up to Louis.
"They go on a lot of 'first'' dates as well as second and thirds. They've probably been on four third dates already, but it's good, he's happy, happier. Louis likes him, but he's still scared. Hurt. He still loves you, but he's moving on. Slowly. Getting on with life." Niall pauses for a second and Harry stays silent, almost wonders what Louis has to be hurt about. "That's you, Harry, you've got to get on with life already. I know it's early and fresh and you're still not feeling or whatever, but it's bound to happen at some point. Do it."
Niall gets up at those words and leaves with the simple explanation of an appointment for his pregnant wife, a kiss to Harry's temple, and his last words left ringing in Harry's ears.
"Life moves on, you should too."
Harry never once thought that he deserved better than Louis, that perhaps he had settled for less than what life could offer him, and maybe it's just the shock of everything Niall had said and his harshness going about it, but Harry's pretty sure it almost if not precisely sounded like that's what Niall was trying to say - that he deserves better.
So he lays there, still in his bed and clutching the sheets under his chin, staring at the half moon illuminated wall in front of him without thought. Harry hasn't done this in a while and he figures it's some kind of natural defense mechanism his mind had set up when Louis left him that just shut down when he was confused or when a certain topic arose that might hurt him in the end. So he just lays there. He's not sure what time he made it home, but he knows he stayed at the coffee shop for a while after Niall left. He's just not sure how long.
Harry wonders if this is what it feels like when someone you love dies. If this cold, dark, numb, emptiness is what people dealt with upon losing someone. The only sad part is that Harry didn't lose Louis for any reason beyond this world, but rather for reasons stuck up in Louis' head.
He didn't want me. He doesn't want me.
Harry doesn't mean to be bitter, and he knows that he is when he says it, but that's gotta be much worse than losing someone.
Harry didn't lose Louis, Louis left him.
Harry never much payed attention to local news, rather sat with a blank expression on his face and watched distantly the deadly fire of a crashed plane or some cute segment about dogs and butterflies, but that's not to say Harry wasn't all for Niall's gossip. In fact, it's what Harry recently decided to live for.
He doesn't listen half the time of course, nods occasionally as Niall continues his seemingly never ending tale of whatever as he sips his tea gone cold and scarfs down his lemon cake or whatever other pastry Niall had decided to buy him whenever. Niall's a good friend. Harry does tune in however when he hears mention of Louis. And sometimes it's just that someone else brought him up in a conversation Niall's recounting to Harry and sometimes it's small, cautious, but too good updates on Louis and 'the mam guy ?' (Harry knows very well it's Jack), as Harry always asks in false clarification, to be held back for the simple politeness of a long done divorce.
Niall really thinks Harry's finally moving on and for a while Harry begins to believe it too, starts to regain lost hope and feel emotions like slight happiness and laughter again when Niall's around, trailing him all the way home where he sighs at the cold and shoves himself into bed even at two in the afternoon.
When Harry's with Niall he begins to believe, begins to (and does) fool himself into thinking that he's probably maybe getting better again, that he's all right. But when Harry's alone, dropped off at his lonely front door to enter his lonely house by Niall, well that's when Harry remembers things again. That's when Harry sighs.
That's when Harry decides to buy a flat.
"I want this one, Harry." Louis whispers softly as they trail their realtor around the large expanse of the house, hands clutching at Harry's bicep in excitement.
Harry looks down and smiles. "This one?"
"What about the other one, the one with the pool? Quite liked that one." Harry says softly, pouting.
Louis shakes his head. "No Harry, I want this one. This is where I want to raise our kids. Or dogs, whichever." Harry looks at him through slanted lids.
Louis smiles and it's overly ecstatic. Harry really wants to kiss him.
Harry's decision ends up taking longer than planned, but he got caught between two houses and he was really dreading packing so, you know, why not take his time? In the end Harry's final decision is a good one, hopefully. The house isn't large, but it isn't small either. It's just perfect for him and his one man band of a life. Enthusiastic YEAH.
Harry sighs. He's only just entered his new home all brandished and burnished with his tidings from the old place. Harry didn't have to worry about anything that was Louis', everything he left disappeared whenever Harry left the house, one by one each day. It wasn't dramatic nor was it particularly sad, but Harry noticed. He noticed.
He sets his bags down and makes his way to his new kitchen, grabbing the few groceries he bought on the way and deciding on a microwave soup for supper. He sets himself a stand up tray by the sofa, putting on a film and pouring himself a bottle of his favorite red wine. It's a lonely night, but it's a good one. A new beginning. Harry doesn't think much that night beyond really wanting to thank the moving company for doing such a good job because even if they hadn't he wouldn't have moved anything.
Harry's self-thrown house warming party is very, well, warming. He's a bit awkward at first as he welcomes everyone in and hopes that he bought enough chips, dip, and soda, taking a mental count and trying to figure out some ratio, but soon he gives up and just welcomes people in with an awkward smile and casual drink in his hand. (Harry was never good at math.) Ultimately it's safe to say that Harry is and forever will be eternally grateful for the amazing friends he has, not waiting a single second to jump in for a hug and greet Harry before he had a chance to blink, let alone greet them first.
And as the night goes on and Harry greets - or rather gets greeted by - his guests at the door, he learns to loosen up and have fun and be happybecause that's what this is all about. The alcohol in his hand isn't all that bad at helping either, but it's not a bitter drink and a bitter sip and a bitter help, it's a helpful, happy help is all it is.
Harry's in the middle of a very drunk, very enthusiastically goofy conversation with Zayn and some friends, wondering why it is he ever pushed these people away and lost touch when Niall arrives, late as usual, with his perfect excuse. ("I won't be late again, just got caught up is all. Nice to see you, by the way, doing good? Great. Oh, hey, didn't see you there, how are you all? Hey, where should I put the drinks? I brought enough to get a Captain drunk.")
And Harry's having a good time, perhaps not the time of his life (since most of that was spent up on Louis) but certainly getting there, laughing and being goofy and giddy and just plain old happy that Niall doesn't think twice about what he needs to tell Harry. Figures he, in his drunken state, can handle it. Niall lures him away from the crowd with the simple request of his company in the kitchen, offering a beer. They clink glasses and say cheers, Harry making some stupid joke that makes no sense and Niall unable to keep himself from laughing at the stupidity of this man, laughing into his own bottle of beer. They're both drunk and just straight up incoherent with happiness that it's refreshing for them all.
"Oi, Harry, before I forget to tell you," Niall says, cutting his laughter off as he remembers the real reason he invited him away from the crowd, "I hope you don't mind, I didn't think you would, but I invited Louis. Is that alright? He was hesitant at first, said you wouldn't want him here, but I told him that you'd mentioned inviting him, but got caught up with drinks and stuff that you asked me to invite company. That's alright, right?"
Harry's not drunk anymore, and it's easy to say that he's certainly not happy. Not even in illusion. Harry's smiles falls slightly and he can feel the tears pricking at the back of his eyes, trying desperately to climb out and show everyone how Harry's really feeling, but he doesn't let that happen, keeps it all in. Harry smiles at Niall.
"Yeah, 'course. Why not? The more the merrier, ey?" He adds in hope that he's selling this nonchalant attitude he's trying to appear to have. Maybe it's the beer or maybe Niall genuinely believes him, but Harry thanks the Gods that he doesn't press any further, simply squeezes Harry's shoulder and talks to him like everything's all right.
"Glad to hear it," He says, "Who knows, might be good to see him again." And with that Niall spots someone - Zayn, probably - over Harry's shoulder and walks off shouting drunkenly at him, goofy smile and all. Harry takes a swig of his beer and tries to keep himself from thinking about it, pulling down shot glasses and tequila deciding that his beer wasn't going to be enough.
"Shots anyone?" He shouts holding up a shot glass and tequila, keeping up appearances as the happy host of the warming party that suddenly turned cold. Harry decides he should probably turn off the AC.
Evidently enough keeping up appearances was an easy success, everyone drunk and cheering for shots, holding up their downed glasses of alcohol. Harry was soon forgotten about as everyone hopped in on the fun, sitting back and watching passively in the kitchen as people cheered and clinked and took body shots on the bar of his kitchen. Harry was remembered at one point, pressured into laying on the counter so someone could take a shot off him, but he kindly declined with a small smirk and swig of his beer, claiming that sitting back and watching all the fun was enough for him.
Harry doesn't mean to but he's constantly looking at the door, just small glimpses, the hope forever in his heart that Louis will turn up, even if only for five minutes, even if only just long enough to memorize the colors in his eyes or the way they look in person. Even if only just long enough to break his heart again. Even if.
After Niall told Harry he had only a one-track mind, destination of hope ending on Louis and his arrival. That's all Harry wanted, and though he told himself he'd be fine with it if he didn't show up, that everything would be alright, he knew himself better than that, especially after all this time alone. And Harry got drunk. Harry got really drunk, but not the good kind, not the happy kind. He got the kind of drunk you get when you're trying to forget something, someone, the kind of drunk that only makes you think of what you're trying to forget that much more.
As it turns out, Louis didn't even have to show up to break Harry's heart again, so he doesn't. Louis doesn't show up and Harry's still on the floor for him.
One by one everyone begins making their way out, couples, singles, friends, people, bodies with perfectly beating hearts, thoughts without a clue. They all leave, they're all gone, just like that. Soon enough it's just Niall and Zayn left. trailing closely after the group of friends who decided to share a cab. They reach the door and Harry's there to say goodbye to them, tired eyes showing all the vulnerability he was trying to hide, all the emotions. Zayn says nothing, simply gives Harry's shoulder a reassuring squeeze and pulling him in for a hug before exiting, jacket in hand. Niall stares at Harry for a moment and it's a sorrowful kind of stare, a sorrowful silence before he throws an arm around Harry's neck and pulls him in for a hug. No words are exchanged except Niall's quiet 'I'm sorry' and the hug is everything Harry needs and it's all that Niall can give him. He's thankful for it.
Harry sniffles softly and it's all he can do to keep from breaking down right there and then, giving Niall a small smile as he shuts the door on Niall's sorrowful one, breaking down as soon as the door clicks. He hadn't meant to hope so much or care but he did and fuck does it hurt. He only lets himself cry for a little, shaking and convincing himself to bathe and soothe himself to sleep. So he does, he takes a shower and it's nice, the lump in his throat hurts, but he only cries once or twice for brief moments of weakness, mustering up all the strength he has left to get out and take care of himself like he should. Dry himself, put lotion on, comb his hair, look himself in the mirror. His eyes are rimmed with red and his face is slightly blotchy but Harry looks in the mirror anyway.
"Everything's going to be okay." He says, watching as his eyes water upon the apparent lie. He convinces himself anyway, scrubs the few stray tears away and gives himself a smile just because he can and, yes! He's still capable of it!
That's gotta be a start.
When Harry gets back to bed, under the covers all warm and cuddled up from the cold of the house, just on the verge of sleep his phone buzzes. Harry sighs but turns over anyway, reaching for the device and holding it a bit away so his eyes can adjust.
Louis: Congratulations, Harry. I'm really happy for you
Louis: It's Louis, in case you haven't got my number anymore or something
Harry's eyes have adjusted, but he's not sure he mind has. It's a scary feeling and Harry's heart flutters in the way that he knows so well and it sucks. And then he feels a pull. His phone buzzes again.
Louis: I'm so sorry.
And then his heart hurts.
He almost tells him it's okay.
"You know what's fun?"
Niall's wife is near due to pop out his first daughter, and Niall feels like celebrating.
"Although I'm sure we were all hoping for a boy - especially if he were to take after his father, I mean look at me. Hey!" Nialls cheers drunkenly, standing on a chair and really not even feigning pain because his wife is pregnant and her punch god damn hurt. He laughs drunkenly to himself, drink still in the air as he makes the most adoring eyes at his wife and the look she's giving him. "No, in all seriousness we're probably all much happier that it turned out a girl - imagine any child that would look like me." The crowd laughs and Niall looks over at his wife, taking her hand in his, eyes glued to hers. It's obvious they're in love.
"Anyone who wouldn't want their child to look like this beautiful, amazing woman right here would be right mad. And I'm so glad I found her." It's a sincere toast and Niall's so lost in his wife's eyes that it brings him back to reality when everyone cheers and whistles and, yes, after about thirty beers, cries.
Harry only claps from the back of the crowd, calling out drunken things to Niall congratulating his baby, his happiness, and his relationship. They're so in love it hurts. It hurts Harry. But he can't be selfish like that.
They're all gathered at Niall's house - friends, family, people, life. It's all there, all of it and it's something that Harry has trouble trying to grasp. He tries, he really does, he tries to understand that he's not just another man in the crowd, that he's not just there, that he is an actual presence, an actual living, breathing soul and friend of Niall's. He tries to understand but it's something he's not used to, not anymore. It's been six months since his house warming, a total of a year and some since he and Louis split. And it's not as if Harry's been inside since then, he comes out more often than he did at first, takes baby steps with Niall's friendly hand to grasp as his wobbly legs get used to the impossible. It's been good, Harry's been good. Harry is okay.
Niall's place is nice and very new to Harry. It's big and spacious and beautiful and it kinda makes Harry's look like a dump but he doesn't really care, he's here because he loves Niall and Niall loves him and that's all. Harry's got money, if he wanted to show off he could, but that's not his goal in life. He's already given half his savings to charity, it's just cold cash, sitting there without a thing to do. So why not?
Harry takes a breath and sets his drink down, heading for the loo to calm himself, pat cold water on his face and go out with his best fake smile. Faking it tonight turns out to be much harder than it's ever been.
He ends up at a table with Louis. And flower guy, whatever the fuck his name is. It's not bad, despite the pang that Harry feels upon seeing Louis' face and seeing it happy and seeing him conversing and laughing and being perfect and making Harry feel pale and wanting to go to a corner and just be alone and cry, kinda like high school all over again - no, it's not bad at all, not really.
And it's good because all of their friends are there, and if Harry knows how to make friends - which he does, most of the time - he knows how to make good friends, friends who won't let a simple little fact such as divorce between mutual friends hinder good conversation or enthusiasm in seeing both friends, together or not. So conversation is easy, and the lump Harry feels in his throat begins to fade away, at least the pain of it. It's nice, but Harry's constantly conscious of Louis just across the table from him, doing things that would allow him a casual, subtle glimpse at Louis, things like looking for Niall or acting as if on hold, looking around and waiting for the other participant in his conversation to, well, participate. Laughing loudly to see if he can catch Louis' attention or shielding himself from Louis' entire view just because he can't keep himself from just wanting to look over and stare at his god damn beautiful face and beautiful eyes and just cry because where the hell did he go wrong?
And Harry gets his chance to.
Everyone at the table slowly starts making their way off for different reasons; to wander, because they've just spotted a friend - whatever the matter, they all left until it was just Harry and one of his oldest friends in deep conversation with Louis and his, person, just across the table from them, and then it was just Harry and Louis. And, you know, that guy.
The two are in quiet conversation together, heads bowed and talking as if it's all some sort of secret and Louis has those crinkles at the corner of his eyes but Harry can tell this all just awkward for Louis, trying to act nonchalant as Harry sits slumped in the chair across him, swirling his liquor around in the glass. Louis and his man whisper a few more things, Louis' smile widening and crinkles deepening before the other gets up, leaning and pecking a kiss on his lips.
Louis smiles and pulls away, hand on the side of the man's face. "Bring me some champagne, will you?"
Harry should have left a long time ago, left this table, left this room, left this house, left this party, left this country a long time ago, but he didn't because Louis' right here and how do you even handle a situation like that? Harry is not weak, Harry is strong.
Or maybe not.
"'Course." The man smiles and Harry looks up just as he's about to walk off, looking over smiling politely at Harry before making his way to the drinks.
"Keeper." Is all Harry says, eyes on his drink as he takes a swig. Louis sighs. "I meant that." Harry says, eyes finally meeting Louis' in a cold gaze. Louis just stares at him for a moment, eyes squinted only in the slightest. It's not that he was scrutinizing Harry, but it was rather a sign of how emotionally exhausted and hurt he truly was when he wasn't hiding it with Mr. Perfect. Harry's heart clenches, but he doesn't show it.
"C'mon, old friends we are!" Louis stays silent, just staring at Harry, just looking at him. "No, you're right. Fuck that. We barely know each other."
Louis clears his throat, sitting back in his chair, drink in his hand and just looking at Harry. Just looking. "How are you, Harry?
Harry gives a laugh of disbelief, short and sharp. "God, don't ask me that."
"No!" Harry shouts. He hadn't meant to, but for fuck's sake. He takes a breath and a swig of his brandy, exhaling roughly as it passes. "You know," he begins, "I'd felt heartbreak in my life only twice before. The first time back in sixth form. Pathetic, I know. She was nice though, pretended she cared." Harry takes another swig of his drink and Louis tries not to cringe because he knows it shouldn't bother him that Harry was with a girl before, shouldn't bother him that Harry was with anyone before and certainly not if he's with someone now. Which he's not. But it's still a fresh wound.
"We hardly talked. Had one class with her but we got paired for a project and after that we just texted a lot. Only after school though and on weekends, she might've been popular but she wouldn't be caught dead texting me. And I accepted it, welcomed it, even. It was sad, really, the entire thing. Anyway in the end she got a boyfriend - biggest jock of the school, actually - and never spoke to me again. Hardly glanced my way, really." Harry's silent for a moment, staring at the dark gold colored liquid in his glass.
"Was my first heartbreak. Absolute shit it was. And do you know how long it took me to get over it, Louis?" Louis stays silent. "Two years. Two whole years for the sum of three months. That is what love is, that is all love is." Harry's breathing hard now and his face is filled with disgust.
"Heartache, heartbreak" He says, and it's venomous, the way he utters it. "How dare such a feeling exist, how dare you ask me something like that."
Louis' silent. He doesn't know how he's supposed to respond to such hurt, not after everything they've been through. Truthfully, though, he did used to know, and maybe he still does. He knows perfectly well that all Harry needs is to get the alcohol ripped from his hand and have a warm cup of tea instead, a nice long movie - romcom, probably - a good show, and a good night's rest. Yeah. Louis used to know how to comfort Harry. The Harry he knew. But not now. Not after everything they've been through.
Louis doesn't think he'll ever get the chance to comfort him again.
Harry continues. "It was all gray after that, my life. I cried a lot the first year, overly so. And yet, as much as I try, the only way I can describe it is gray. Everything around me was just a blur, a schedule of daily events that meant nothing to me at all. I had trust issues after that and all I remember was the numbness of it all. I cried because it hurt and then I cried because it felt right. Because it felt right. Two years and not crying was weird, out of the ordinary. Of course, as the second year began I got better. Didn't cry as much, but I didn't feel anymore - everything was numb and dull and boring. I didn't know how to feel anymore. If I wasn't feeling sad or hurt or betrayed then I wasn't feeling anything at all. And that was normal, that was good. I wasn't sad, but I wasn't depressed either. And to counter that I wasn't happy.
"I was tired. And sometimes tired people are bored, and sometimes bored people just can't find a valuable reason to be alive anymore. Can't quite find it in themselves to mind if they fall asleep and never wake up again. You know what that feels like, Louis? To just feel tired? Perhaps not the death part, no maybe not, but certainly the tired part, yeah? I mean, isn't that why we sit where we do today? 'Cause you were just tired, weren't you, Louis? Tired of our life, tired of our relationship, tired of us? You know what I mean, then, when I say I was just tired, I guarantee it."
"Now Harry," Louis tries to intervene, but Harry cuts him off.
"Louis Tomlinson," he says, tutting in disappointment, "I haven't finished my story yet. Didn't your mother ever teach you proper manners? How is she, by the way, haven't seen her in ages. Ah - never mind that. Heart break two is rather boring, actually. Very brief as well. Had it under false pretenses. Cried like a baby, though. It really hurt. You know, they always say the first cut is the worst, but I disagree. Cutting over the wound a second time is far worse than splitting it open the first time. Don't ask me who they is of course, I haven't the faintest. Still. It hurt for a bit. Ended up all right in the end I guess. Owner of my virginity." Louis cringes this time, not even able to hold it back as he takes a swig of his own drink and tries not to let Harry's dry, false half-smile get to him.
"And then I met you," he continues, half squinted eyes staring Louis down contemplatively. It's a harsh stare and Louis tries really hard to keep himself from looking away. "Worst by far. You know what you meant to me, Louis? You didn't mean the world, you were the world. Hung up the stars I wished for you on, painted the sky, gave the world color. Firsts and lasts are always the worst, it's written in history, you know. But hey, third time's the charm. Allow me to reassure you, though, you'll definitely be my last. Unless I get a dog or something and he dies. That'll hurt. Not nearly as much as this, though," He says gesturing openly to their current situation. "So don't ask me that. You don't get to ask me that, yeah?" Louis' silent still, just looking at Harry and all his hurt. The moments that pass are silent.
"You know, I'll probably get a cat." He says.
"Harry-" Louis tries.
"They've got nine lives, you know? Die once still get to keep him for eight more."
"Harry-" Louis tries again, but Harry continues.
"Then again, cats leave. They're always leaving you and you know sometimes they don't ever come back. Disappear out the door and we convince ourselves that they were eaten by some... by some bear or something. " Harry laughs dryly, looking at his glass. "A bear. A bear in the backyard that ate our cat because we can't stand the thought that the probable answer to all our questions is that they left us. Walked away and never turned back, just like everyone else in our pathetic lives." And Harry spits the words like it's grain, rough and disgusting, a cloud of hurt and lonliness left to hang around after.
"Harry, I only wanted to know-"
"No," Harry says, "You don't get to know. You don't get to want. Don't ever ask me that question again. No, better yet, don't ask about me again." Harry's standing up now, leaning over so he's in Louis' face and every pair of eyes around them is staring but he doesn't notice, doesn't care. "I'm tired, Lou." He whispers and he can feel the lump in his throat forming. Louis has a lump forming in his own throat - he hadn't meant to hurt Harry, not like this, not at all, and it's the first time Harry's not called him by his proper name in a long time now and Louis wishes he could get it all back, wishes he had never wished in the first place. Fuck.
"And sometimes, Louis, sometimes tired people do crazy things. I'm not saying I'm going to walk out of here and murder someone, not saying I'm gonna go slap my mum and jump off a building. All I'm saying is when you're tired, and boy am I tired, sometimes it all becomes too much. Someone pushes you to your limits and it's all you can do to hold on to that last thread of hope that something, anything will wake you up, make you want to live again." Harry's eyes are watery now and he can't help himself.
He stands up and scrubs his hand roughly where his tears fell on his cheek, finishes his drink, fixes his coat and walks out, uttering only a few words before his watery-eyed departure. Shaky and broken.
"Don't push me, Lou."
Harry walks out and doesn't really know what's happening, not entirely in control of his everything. He sets himself behind the wheel of his car and just drives, takes to the road without any real destination, just road, just wheels, just him. He's crying off and on and it's really quite unsafe that he's doing this, hell, he can hardly see the stoplights. He drives far and safe enough, though, far and safe enough to take a break and just bawl, wipe his tears, look himself in the rear view mirror and cry again. He decides that if he stays in the car any longer he'll end up bawling himself to sleep in the parking lot, wherever he is. So he gets out, grabs his wallet, sniffles as hard as he can, rubs away wetness from under his eyes and nose and hops out of the car, hoping for a bathroom.
Evidently enough parking lot to who knows where ended up being parking lot to local convenient store. Harry walks in and avoids any and all eye contact with human beings and the cameras that hang above, which isn't that hard considering it's pretty late at night and the store's probably just about to close. He pats water on his face and blows air in his eyes, being the master at hiding the fact that he was crying by now, walking out and deciding to walk around the store aisles. By the second aisle he gets caught up just staring at the food behind the glass, trying to walk away but thinking, well, he's here anyway. So he reaches in and grabs all the tubs of ice cream he can, cookie kind, fruity kind, mixture kind, kinds he's never heard of kind, all until his arms are full and he thinks he might get frostbite.
So Harry's probably being a bit cliche, getting ice cream just after a break up in the middle of the night and trying not to look or seem miserable, which he kind of almost really is. He dumps the tubs on the conveyor belt of the only register that's open and gives the cashier a meek, shameful smile in apology and pulls out his wallet, looking away as the cashier begins ringing his items up, quirking his eyebrow in interest.
"Having an ice cream party?" He muses, ringing up tub after tub.
Harry gives a faint smile. "Party of one."
The cashier cocks his eyebrow, eye on the tub he's ringing up. "And is this much anticipated, exclusive party open to invitation?" Harry looks up at the man with curiosity. He's young and cute and really quite fit actually. And who knows this guy might be a rapist or something but hey, Harry's lonely.
"Depends on who the non-invitee is." Harry says vaguely, "I'll tell you what, though, if he happens to be that cute grocer down at the market who I heard was planning on bringing wine, odds are Mr. Party Crasher will be gladly welcomed." And yeah okay Harry kinda really wants to get drunk too and no one's flirted with him in forever that, well how could he just let this one go?
"Actually, I heard he's not only anticipated to bring wine, but dark chocolate and cherries as well. That's just what I've heard." The cashier says, ringing up the last tub and putting it in Harry's bag. Harry smiles, gathering his bags and paying the boy.
"Well, if you happen to hear anything else, let him know I'll be at my car scarfing down my first tub of 'cream, yeah?"
The cashier smiles and blushes lightly, mumbling a small "Sure thing" before Harry makes his way out.
Harry didn't have to wait too long before the cashier - Evan - made his way out, closing the store and waving at Harry who was already half way through his first tub of ice cream. Conveniently enough, Evan walks to work everyday so Harry simply drove him over to his place, getting out wine glasses and multiple spoons.
They both end up piss drunk and laughing on the couch, making a mess of the ice cream they're eating. Harry's greedy with his tub, finding that he quite likes the flavor of pistachio and spoon battles Evan over it when he tries to grab a spoonful.
"Do you wanna know what," Harry says after they've both calmed their fit of giggles over a rather pathetic joke he'd told, smiling like mad. "I just got a divorce, like, a year ago! Do you have any idea what that means?" To be completely honest Harry doesn't even know what that means.
"You haven't had any in a long time?" Evan suggests bluntly around a spoon of ice cream.
The bark of laughter Harry immediately releases makes Evan smile at his own joke and laugh along with him. They're so drunk it's refreshing.
"That," Harry gets out, cut off by his own laugh once again, breathing hard as he tries to get the words out, "That is exactly what that means, game show winner." Harry leans over and eats the ice cream off Evan's spoon. It's all innocent really, Harry's not trying to start anything. His ice cream just looked really good.
"Do you wanna get some now?" Evan asks, spoon still in Harry's mouth. Harry looks up and pulls off slowly, contemplative in the way that only drunk people are contemplative, trying really hard to think it through, but accomplishing nothing as he does.
Harry tilts his head. "Now?" Evan nods. "You're not, in the slightest bit, afraid that I'm in an emotionally, drunkenly vulnerable state right now?" It's not condescending or anything, Harry's truly curious because he's not even sure if he's any of those things right now.
"Well, do you believe you are?"
Harry shakes his head with the most innocent, wide, contemplative eyes Evan has ever seen. "No, actually I think I'm alright. Here," He says, grabbing Evan's hand and placing it over his heart, wide eyes on his, "Check my heart beat. What do you think?" Harry asks with concern, his words slurring only slightly.
Evan smiles and moves his hand up to the side of Harry's face instead, Harry's hand dropping where it was previously holding onto Evan's. "This just in," He says, petting Harry's disheveled hair back before meeting his eyes, "I think you're perfect."
Harry's heart flutters and his cheeks fall to a crimson shade of red, never in a million years expecting for that to happen. Harry's biting his (entire) bottom lip into his mouth and he's so, fuck.
Evan leans in and it startles Harry when their lips meet, having not had someone flirt, make a move, and certainly not kiss him in a long time, but Harry melts in to it soon enough, wrapping his arms around Evan's neck as he lays him down, fitting into the cushions perfectly, languid lips moving with the taste of cream and just right. Harry moves to say something and Evan pulls away, looking down at a panting, wide eyed Harry beneath him.
Harry's swollen lips begin moving and it's probably the most sure thing he's said in a long time.
"I think I wanna." (He's drunk, okay? That was the best he could do and he's a lame flirt anyway so hop off.)
Evan smiles and leans in again. They may not spend forever together, but it sure feels like it. And maybe they're still on earth, but Evan makes it feel like heaven.
Harry and Evan don't make it, and neither do Louis and flower boy. It was a hard hit for Louis, flower boy leaving solemnly and sadly after their last fight, not really trying to be right just trying to make sure Louis knows that he's still in love with Harry before he goes off and breaks another person's heart with false hope.
Harry and Evan were good while they lasted, a fun relationship - wild nights and lots of laughter. It was a mutual decision between the two, their break up, both deciding that they should split off and continue on their own paths. Evan back to school and Harry where ever the universe decided to take him next - hopefully somewhere in producing and writing music again. Harry's learned to let go of things, take life for what it is, and Louis' learned to accept and regret the mistakes he made.
Harry gets married again, not immediately after, but soon enough. He gets his forever desired cats and children. It's a happy thing, or so Louis hears.
Eventually Louis gets married as well, but Harry's always there, nagging at the back of his brain. It's hard when he accepts that this is all his fault, but he accepts it and does for Harry the one last thing he asked of Louis, figures he at least owes him that.
Louis never asks again.
And finally, finally, Harry realizes,
Harry didn't lose Louis, Louis lost him.
"I'll never hurt you, I promise."