How is love supposed to speak, when one can’t even choke out the words?
Saturday 16 (Part Two)
Tulips. They were Louis’ favourite flower. In a conversation about everything and anything, Harry learned that Louis’ favourite flower was the tulip. He loved the way they came in such bright, vivacious colours: pinks, purples, oranges and yellows. He loved the way they were formed, not too dainty like a lily but not too strong like a chrysanthemum. They weren’t overexposed, not overrated like roses. They held a simple beauty in the way their petals hid the pollen in a cylinder of silky colour. They didn’t stand out too much; they weren’t everyone’s favourite; they were normally placed in the background to add a block of colour; but Louis thought that they were worth more than that. They weren’t to be placed to just fill in space, the different shades had to be mixed in with each other and create a loud but subtle bouquet of beauty.
So with that in mind, the whole spiel of Louis’ reasoning behind his favourite flower, Harry was going to get tulips. Not roses like his Mum suggested because, no, Harry was not cliché. He was just sentimental, and what was more sentimental –and if you’re daring, you could throw romantic in there– than buying your partner a bunch of their favourite flowers?
Of course, Harry wouldn’t deny that when he ordered the bouquet he was grateful for Louis’ choice of flower because hey, roses could be quite expensive and tulips were only second on the pricing list. But really, would Harry have bought a different bouquet if the tulips were the same price as that ostentatious bunch of roses? Exactly.
He was torn, though, when he scrolled through the range of colour combinations, as to which bouquet to go for. He could go subtle, maybe some light pinks, purples, whites, and a splash of darkened pinks. Or he could go bright with yellows, oranges, dark purples and reds. The bunch of just white and a rich pink looked too wedding-like for Harry; he didn’t want it to look like he was proposing to the boy. So overall, it had taken him a while to decide on the perfect bunch.
The florist’s shop –Katherine’s Florists– was just a small walk away from his house, and with the flowers due to be picked up at 5.30pm, Harry embraced the lovely Friday weather and decided to take the trip by foot. His mother knew the owner of the shop relatively well - well, as much as you can know someone from the odd coffee morning - so Harry wasn’t worried about having to awkwardly explain that he couldn’t speak. He didn’t mind taking trips out by himself, he liked the independence in fact, it was just a little tiresome having to pull out that card which stated his problem and put up with the sympathetic and pitying looks.
It wasn’t overly warm, but enough for Harry to walk through the streets in his three-quarter, turned up jeans and a thin white t-shirt. A light green beanie was crushed over his curls to hide the wild mess they had become along with the fact they didn’t exactly look in the most clean condition. His white converse weren’t startlingly bright on his feet, but they were clean at least and didn’t make him look too scruffy. Overall, Harry was quite pleased with his outfit. Louis would have been proud of his choices, he thought with a hidden grin.
He wasn’t paying much attention to his surroundings as he passed the row of shops, more lost in his thoughts and the music which played through his earphones. After all, Harry wasn’t going to pass up on listening to his music when he was wandering around on his own –his mother wasn’t a fan of him listening to it when he was with other people, wanting him to be more social and not look as closed off. Of course she didn’t mind sometimes; sometimes she knew it was necessary for Harry to seek silence and comfort behind the music because music was Harry’s comfort blanket. But she didn’t want that blanket to cover him up forever; he needed to be on show for the better.
Harry entered the shop, pulling out his ear phones and stuffing them in his pocket, the wall of perfume hitting him full on. The flowers in the shop were certainly fragrant, and Harry’s nose didn’t agree with that too much. He sneezed three times over, eyes screwing shut and nose crinkling up. Thankfully, Harry didn’t have a loud and honking type of sneeze, it was relatively quiet and confined, so Katherine wasn’t startled too much when his presence was made from said action.
"Oh, Harry!" Katherine said, scuttling over to Harry. Her pinny was batting at her knees as she made her way over, her arms outstretched. She wasn’t young, but then again, she wasn’t old. Harry presumed that she was mid-fifties by the way her hair was sprouting the odd grey in amongst the short black crop. Her hands patted Harry’s cheeks as a grandmother would a grandchild and she cooed affectionately. "My, you’re even more handsome than Anne made you out to be!"
Harry blushed awkwardly and fumbled his hands together, fighting the urge to rip her hands from his face and scratch at the skin until the weight that they had placed had been replaced by a stronger feeling.
"Oh, sorry, I’m making you uncomfortable!" she blustered, pulling her hands from Harry’s cheeks and patting her thighs. "Right, so you’re here to pick up the Sunday Bunch of tulips, yes?"
Harry nodded and rolled back on the balls of his feet. Katherine walked into a room behind the counter and came out holding a bunch of bright colours. She placed them on the counter, fiddling with some of their flower’s position to make the bouquet look perfect, regardless of the fact they looked the same to Harry as before.
"Y’know what, Harry, it’s not often that I get Sunday Bunch orders, that collection isn’t fancy enough for some people. But I think they’re just as beautiful; I mean, look at the colours in there. The red mixed with the light purple, and then those whites dotted around, and they look especially gorgeous in tulips, probably the best flower which suits the Sunday Bunch. You’ve picked a good bunch there, young man. Whichever girl you’re giving these to is a lucky lady!"
Harry blushed once again at her final sentence, scratching the back of his neck awkwardly and scrunching his nose up in distaste. The older woman, however, didn’t notice his resenting body language and fluttered around the till, totally unaware.
After paying and sending an awkward smile of thanks to Katherine, Harry quickly made his way back into the sunshine. As his feet trailed slowly on the ground, he stared down at the blooming flowers in his hands. He was overjoyed with the flowers, they were just as he imagined. The way the bright red tulips stood out in the mass of light purple and white tulips looked stunning. A thin, tan, string was tied around the green stems to bunch them together. It was subtle but expressive; just what Harry had wanted.
Louis would love them, he was sure. Well, more like Harry hoped he would anyway.
It was in the midst of thinking about Louis’ reaction when Harry only just noticed the happenings by the pub he was passing. He had only been walking five minutes or so when he was approaching the pub on the corner, and wouldn’t have thought much of it, especially by the way he was lost in his thoughts. But, a certain laugh had pulled him out of his thoughts like a game of tug of war between reality and prospects.
Harry stopped in his tracks once he had heard said laugh and turned to look at the pub. His eyes roamed around the brickwork and through the small gaggle of occupied chairs. What with the lovely weather, it was expected for the tables and chairs outside to be in use, so Harry made sure to check in every place to see if he could find the face for the noise between all the people. His eyes had landed over the door on the corner and he finally found the source of the laughter.
A group of boys were sat gathered around the silver, kaleidoscope patterned table on the wooden chairs that were arranged around it. A raven haired boy, who was familiar to Harry but he couldn’t quite put his finger on who he was, was stood by the door and was interacting with the group. With his back facing to Harry, Harry could only see the mound of fair hair on the top of the next boy’s head so that didn’t help him in working out who the boys were. Next was a side view of a bright blonde haired boy. He had on a, as far as Harry could see, Miami Dolphins snapback which hid most of the light locks, but a few peeked out from underneath. Moving on to the next person, Harry saw a boy with a very large quiff. It was different to the familiar boy’s at the door, more rounded and a total different colour. The chestnut brown hairstyle paired with the pair of thick rimmed glasses on the boy’s nose made the stranger look very quirky. Harry thought he didn’t exactly fit in the group very well, but that was just his first impression, so he couldn’t judge.
The next person, though, he was what had drawn Harry’s eyes over to the pub.
Tucked under the quirky boy’s arm, his head resting in the crook of the boy’s neck, was a feather-haired, bright blue eyed boy. A boy who had smooth, tanned skin. A boy who was wearing a familiar grey t-shirt with a large Ramones stamp printed on it. A boy who was sitting comfortably, cosily, snugly, with the unknown boy. A boy who looked like he belonged under the other’s arm, looked like he liked being pulled in by the gangly limbs.
A boy who Harry had grown far too fond of for the position he was in not to make his heart plummet to the bottom of his stomach.
Louis was tucked in the side of the boy in a way which couldn’t help but make Harry’s mind wander into dangerous places. He had a quaint smile on his face, albeit a little taut but Harry’s mind could have been making that up; after all, Louis looked like he was sitting in the same kind of position they would sit in.
But Harry wasn’t going to panic; no, that would be stupid. Louis was a generally touchy feely person; it was what he was like. Yes, with Harry that was restrained, but Harry wasn’t naive. He knew that just because of his problems, Louis wasn’t going to change everything about himself; he would still act the same around other people.
The boy was just a friend to Louis, that was all. They were just acting as good friends would. Harry knew that. It was silly to even consider thinking it was anything more than that, totally ridiculous.
A slight graze of the thought to maybe go over and see Louis tore on the side of Harry’s mind. It was a possibility, maybe a chance to meet Louis’ friends and get to know them. It wasn’t like Harry was desperate to meet them, he didn’t really care. He wasn’t eager for more friends and he wasn’t going to make friends through Louis either. If he made friends, he made friends; he would do that on his own.
So the thought of meeting Louis’ friends wasn’t much of a big deal to Harry if you bypass the initial social-shock that he always went though. With that in mind, Harry didn’t particularly fancy clamming up and making a fool out of himself in front of Louis’ friends so he decided to keep his distance; after all, Louis spent enough time with him as it was and he needed time with his childhood buddies.
Just as Harry was about to walk away, the image of Louis looking content with his friends –and not thinking about anything other than that, for example, that tiny twinge of worry behind his eyes about Louis’ faithfulness– being at the forefront of his mind, he caught wind of their conversation. He had been so focused on looking that he hadn’t actually been listening. It wouldn’t be rude to just tune in, would it? In any case, it was just giving an insight into Louis’ life outside of Harry; that was harmless.
It was then, when the raven haired boy spoke, that Harry realised who it was. Zayn, that had to be Zayn. He had heard a lot about the boy; he seemed cool enough. They probably wouldn’t get on too well, Harry thought. Zayn would have been one of the popular kids at school and Harry was the furthest you could get from that. Regardless of that, though, he was still Louis’ friend and he wasn’t Harry’s, so it made no difference to him at all.
Harry didn’t catch what he had said; it was more just a blur of words, so he tuned in a little more to catch the general gist of what was going on. It was harmless, he reminded himself.
"Oi, loverboy, get your ass over here and help me with these drinks, will you?" Zayn called over to the table. Harry tried to guess who he was looking at but failed miserably.
"Fuck off, Zayn," Louis laughed. God, Harry loved Louis’ laugh. It made bubbles of happiness and delight pop in his chest, made his dimple prod at his cheek.
"Hey! It’s not my fault you can’t leave your boyfriend for two minutes!"
If Harry were to lie, he would say that he was totally unaffected by the word. He would say that he just brushed it off; that he knew it wasn’t anything but a silly name call. He would probably say that any other thinking was stupid because the group were just messing around; it was just what they did. Maybe he would crack a smile and pretend that he got the joke, but that was just a maybe.
But Harry didn’t like lying; Harry wasn’t a liar.
Harry was affected by the word.
Harry couldn’t just brush it off.
Harry didn’t know if that was how the group messed around at all.
And Harry definitely couldn’t crack a smile.
Boyfriend was a…well, it was an important word to Harry. It may sound stupid and it may sound childish, but the word ‘boyfriend’ held a lot to the curly haired boy. It was a big weight, a big responsibility. It was full to the brim with care, love, lust, want, adoration and awe. It was like a pot of gold; something someone like Harry hardly ever got his hands into. Some were lucky and could dip into said cauldron, but some weren’t as fortunate. That didn’t mean that their pick of a coin held any less worth, no, in fact it probably held more. Because of the wait, it meant that the choice was more refined, it was more careful and it was more suited to whoever was choosing. Harry had only just gotten his first pick from the word; he had only just been allowed to use such an expensive, worth-full word. So he didn’t exactly use the word lightly. If he did, then he would have used up all the inner giggles and outer blushes that came as a package deal with the word, and even though they were embarrassing, he secretly loved the way they made him feel.
Back to the point though, Harry felt a little bit itchy inside from the word being thrown around so liberally. The copious, joking way it was being used didn’t settle well in his stomach. An overreaction it may have been, an overreaction it probably was, but it was Harry and nothing Harry ever felt normally played by the rules.
All those thoughts rushed by at a million miles per hour, whooshing through his ears fast enough for him to catch the rest of the conversation with little missing.
Hope. Hope was present at the back of Harry’s mind. Hope that maybe Louis would laugh it off, tell him to ‘shut the fuck up’ or ‘piss off, Harry’s my boyfriend, not him’.
Neither happened, regretfully.
Louis just buried his head in the boy’s –of whom Harry was starting to gain a whole lump of dislike towards– neck and spoke something which Harry couldn’t hear. Harry suddenly hated the distance between them, hearing what Louis had said may have been the cure for his internal panic. The quiff-haired boy spoke something back to Louis, who then stood up with an overdramatic sigh.
"Shit, mate, Aiden has you so whipped. You’re officially Aiden Grimshaw’s bitch."
If Harry thought his stomach couldn’t fold over any more than it already had, then he was wrong. He felt his insides twist with hurt and confusion.
Confusion was the best way to describe all his feelings. The hurt stemmed from the confusion. The fact that he had to make up scenarios in his head to try and figure out what was going on caused him to hurt; he didn’t know whether the hurt was necessary or not because he didn’t know if his thoughts were true, spreading even more confusion. This lead to the fact that he had no chance of understanding what was going on because he wasn’t part of it. Harry felt like an outsider again for the first time in months.
Aiden, so that was his name. Hm. And Louis was ‘whipped’ because of Aiden. Aiden, who had just been called Louis’ boyfriend by his best friend. Aiden who had Louis snuggled under his arm a few seconds prior. Aiden, not Harry. Aiden.
Harry was just about keeping in every single drop of emotion but it was a task too heavy when he heard Louis’ reply. He was full to the brim; his skin was straining with unwanted upset and his eyes clouding over with everything from shock to hurt. It wasn’t like he wanted to believe it, but he had to. There wasn’t another option. Yes, he couldn’t believe that Louis would do such a thing, but then again, outside of their bubble of LouisAndHarry, how much did he actually know about Louis? Did he know him at all?
Another pang to his heart came from that revelation; one revelation too much for Harry.
His breath had caught and clung to his airways like it never wanted to leave. His body froze up like he had been shocked with an ice gun, stilling every muscle and bone in his body. His head felt dizzy almost immediately from the way his ears felt as if they’d been stuffed with cotton wool balls. His mouth was in a straight line; his lips felt too heavy and too thick to rearrange into a hiding facade. His eyes were burning from behind, a fire of tears spreading in instant reaction. His chest was heavy and tight, his ribs crushing inwards. His skin started to tingle, the back of his neck begging to be scratched away, begging for the waves of emotion to be torn off. His legs felt like jelly, his muscles feeling too light to hold structure.
His hands were itching to rise up, screaming to lock into his hair and make it pull at the scalp. But at the same time, they were crying out to cover his ears up, block out the world with a plug of silence. Then his fingers felt shaky, the skin in between each finger burning like a fire spreading without warning. It crawled, crept, clambered up through his veins, squirming at his wrist and worming its way all the way up to his neck. Dying to be scratched once again, it never stopped.
It was that time in a movie when the background music faded into life. It could go either way. It could go depressing, lumbered, cumbersome. Or it could go energetic, staccato, happy. For the ironic factor. It’d be mad; to match Harry’s mind which was swirling with circus colours being fought with furiously, leading to the shutting down of Harry’s mind eventually. Now.
His fingers lost their grip on the flowers. They dropped to the floor in silence, matching the way the world had stopped around Harry. A gust of wind attacked them, a few petals blowing off and destroying their perfect form.
"That wasn’t what he said when I was fucking him into the mattress last night, so ha!"
And in that split second, perfect didn’t seem possible anymore.
It was the usual. Heart pounding, cotton wool ears, lower organs gathering in the throat: the general emotions which screamed nerves and worry. Every step he took up the stairs seemed to add on another stone of agonizing fret. Each time his foot landed on the hard surface, his heartbeat felt like it beat just that tiny bit faster. His throat was straining, that aching pull at the back of his neck which sometimes made his eyes twitch with moisture. Nothing he was doing, none of his actions, were registering in his mind. He was just focused on the swirling tension and anxiety in his knotted stomach.
To put it in a less poetic way, Louis was fucking bricking it.
The walk up the stairs had gone quicker than expected, and soon enough he was on the landing, just standing. Thinking back, he probably should have made use of the short time he had to get up to the upper level, after all, now he was there he had no clue how to approach the situation.
He knew that Harry would be upset, that was an emotion he was sure of. Hurt, as painful as it was to admit it, that would have been another emotion which Harry held in the palm of his hand. Confusion, Louis hoped that would be there. He only wanted it there because then Harry would have some doubt within all the other emotions so he might be able to accept that it was a misunderstanding; whatever it was.
Automatically, Louis had turned and found himself standing awkwardly outside Harry’s closed door. He felt tiny standing there. Minute, like an average sized person compared with a giant. Jack and the beanstalk, something like that.
No, it wasn’t the time to think of fairytales. Especially when his was crumbling before his eyes.
Right, okay, it’s just a misunderstanding; whatever it is can be sorted out. Harry isn’t going to hate you, well, maybe he will, but you’ll change that when you explain everything. However bad it is, it can be explained. And then you can tell him how much you like him, how much you need him, how you think that you’ll end up falling for him, and reluctantly he’ll say the same back and eventually realise that all of this was stupid and you’ll be back to normal in no time, Louis told himself. Whether he actually believed any of it was a total different matter.
Hesitantly, Louis raised his fist to the door. He knocked twice, somewhat quietly. There was no reply; Louis was used to that today, rejection and lack of acknowledgement was all that he had been getting. It was no surprise.
He knocked a little harder, a speck of hope lingering in the midst of his thoughts that Harry may have fallen asleep and didn’t hear his weak questioning knock. Once again, he gained nothing in response. He couldn’t even hear any movement inside the room.
"Harry?" Louis’ voice was admittedly shaky, embarrassingly so. But at that moment, Louis couldn’t really find a care for that. He had more important matters, matters like trying to reach the boy inside the room; his wavering and obviously scared tone wasn’t a bother to him just then like it would normally be.
He coughed a little, reaffirming his tone, “Harry? You in there, love?”
As much as Louis hoped and prayed, he knew what they were back to. They were back to silence again, and that thought was like a punch to the gut, a kick in the teeth, and a stab through the heart, all at once.
"Harry, c’mon, don’t do this to me," Louis started. "Just let me in, yeh?"
"Fuck, Haz," Louis muttered under his breath in frustration. "I’ll just come in myself if you don’t answer. It’d be much easier if you just let me in though," he tried to reason.
With no reply, just more silence, Louis’ hand gravitated towards the door handle. He wouldn’t barge in, that would take it too far, but maybe he could just ease Harry out by showing that he was serious, that he needed to see him. He jiggled the door handle, expecting it to turn the full way around. This, however, was not the case. The smooth turning stopped with a click and the force he was using to turn it was halted by a barrier.
It was locked.
Of course it was locked, that was classic Harry. Locking himself away until things were safe, keeping everyone out so all he had was his thoughts, so he had nobody there who could hurt him.
"Harry," Louis groaned. "Baby, please, just let me in. I need to speak to you."
"Haz, c’mon, we need to talk about this."
"Just tell me what I’ve done, Haz."
"You can’t ignore me forever; I need to know what’s happening. I need to sort this out."
"I’m not going to lose you Harry, I need to fix this; I need to fix you.."
His last words were said with defeat and tiredness. His forehead rested on the door and his lips brushed the wood as he grumbled into it, his eyes closed and hand stilled on the door handle. He sunk to the floor, swivelling around so he sat with his back against the door, similarly to how he was outside. “I’m not leaving until I have fixed this, I can’t leave..” mumbled Louis.
"Just…just know that I’m not going anywhere, okay, Haz? Like, I’m not going to leave from in front of this door until you’ve spoken to me, because quite frankly, I’m worried sick and I need to know that you’re okay. Forget about what’s happened –which I still don’t know what has happened, by the way– just if you’ve forgotten that, I just need to know that you’re alright. That you’re, I don’t know, alive.." His speech was strong at the start but grumbled off near the end, pairing up with the shrug of his shoulders and how he picked at a loose thread absentmindedly.
He had tuned out a little, focusing on the thread which was fraying at the tip. Rolling it around in his fingers, he failed to notice the shuffling in the room and only just saw the piece of white paper appear out the corner of his eye. It slipped under the doorway and Louis left the thread to drop graciously into its messy heap again to pick up said sheet. It was from Harry, obviously, and that thought made his heart pound ever so loudly in his head. He almost didn’t want to read the messy scrawl, almost.
What it said, well, it was heart stopping to say the least. And not in a good way either, not at all.
You can go fuck your boyfriend into the mattress now. I’m sure Aiden will make you feel more than alright.
Breath hitches. Stomach clenches. Gulp heavily. Eyes freeze. Limbs still. Fingers curl. Fists ball. Nails dig. Teeth grind. Tongue heavies. Eyes burn. Eyelids halt. Thoughts arrest. Mind collapses. World falls down.
Chants of ‘no’ tumbled out of Louis’ lips without even realising, chokes spluttering like convulsing coughs. His mind was at war with itself, thousands of thought-warriors fighting against each other to stand on the podium of Louis’ main thought. None were victorious in such a battle; everything was shutting down before his eyes.
Forgetting about the logistics, about how Louis was sure that Harry would never have had to find out, Louis was totally and utterly shell shocked. He didn’t know how Harry had found out –did he even want to know? – but that wasn’t the main problem; the problem was that harry had found out.
Harry knew about his lies.
Harry was hurting because of it.
Harry was hurting because of him.
Harry was lost in misunderstanding but didn’t know that. He thought he knew it all, but he didn’t.
Louis didn’t know what to do.
For the amounts of times he had run through the situation in his head, he had never once thought it would be this painful. It was like someone was killing him ten times over and never giving him any relief. As dramatic as it sounded, Louis actually felt like his life was crumbling in front of his eyes. Everything which he had built was tumbling down on him and crushing his heart. Because Harry was his life. Harry was everything, and everything was Harry. And Louis could only just register that everything was turning into nothing, all in a split second.
But then, once Louis had realised such a thing, the floodgates had opened. Everything came spilling out in a mess of dry sobs and soggy words.
"Harry- Harry, please, I- Harry, I swear to God it’s not like that. Fuck, shit, fucking- I, it isn’t like that. Please, Harry, listen to me, I swear. Jesus Christ, I can’t- I’m so sorry, Harry. I swear to God, I’m so fucking sorry. I can’t believe that I’m hurting you; do you even know how much I’m dying inside because of that? Because of what I’ve done? It sounds so messed up because, I know, one minute I’m saying that it isn’t what it’s like and then I’m apologising but I just don’t know what to say and I can’t even speak properly and I need you to understand before anything because I can’t lose you, I can’t Harry. Please don’t leave me."
It was a jumble of words, an incoherent mess of profanities and apologies, but Louis couldn’t stop himself. He knew that no rehearsed speech would have been any more useful, because he was hanging on a thread and his only hope was letting his mouth run away with itself. It had gotten him in this mess, and it would get him out of it. He hoped.
"Okay, okay, look," Louis reaffirmed, a little less wavering in his voice but the shake still present. "I get that you probably don’t want to talk to me and you just want me to leave but I really really really need to explain everything. And I know it sounds so cliché, like, I know that, but I swear to the fucking high heavens that it isn’t what you think. Because I know you think that Aiden is my boyfriend, but Harry, I would never do that to you. You should know how much I care about you, how much I need you and how much it kills me to see you even just the slightest bit sad. I would never, ever, ever put your happiness in danger on purpose; my life is totally concentrated on you and I don’t want anyone else in my life in that way except you, so please just let me explain?”
It was a minute or so of heavy, laboured breathing until Louis got a reply. He had stood up and turned to face the door in his fretting to be sure that Harry could hear him. His words blurred into one as he said them; he was speaking faster than he ever had but his brain was pushing out apologies one after the other and it was hard to control the speed. He needed to get everything across to Harry, and his mind seemed to think that he had limited time. He didn’t want to hurt Harry for longer than he already had.
Then, another white slip of paper had slid under the door quickly, as if Harry had pushed it through as if he was close to a hot flame.
I..suppose so. I mean, it’s what you’re supposed to do with these things, yeh? Listen?
Louis sighed heavily. “Harry, it’s not- it’s not a thing, don’t make this a thing.." he murmured to himself, closing his eyes to keep his emotions at bay (well, as at bay as he could in this situation as tears were threatening to fall any second).
"Right, okay," Louis said to himself. "I’m just going to sit down, if that’s okay with you? I just. I don’t think I can stand any longer because my legs are about to give way." Louis chuckled wryly.
As Louis sat down, he wondered if Harry was sitting on the other side of the door, maybe they would be touching if the wood wasn’t in the way. It was stupid, thinking that, getting his hopes up over a small slice of contact that probably would never happen after the conversation. That, added to the fact that Louis was incredibly nervous –so nervous that he could feel his heart beating so hard that it vibrated around his chest–, made the impending explanation a whole lot harder.
"So, okay. Here’s the deal. Right- okay, let’s do this," Louis heard a bang on the door, presumably Harry telling him to just get on with it. In a way, the ease in which that bantering action was performed was a bitter pill to swallow. Even when things weren’t meant to be easy, they just were. And Louis had ruined that perfection.
"So- uh, well, y’know the lads, right? Zayn, Niall and Liam, yeh? Well..I just..fuck. Erm, well, basically, they aren’t, like, the most open minded people and one day –it wasn’t even that long ago– we were, like, eating and just lazing around and shit and, like, they started talking about you. They, uhm, they didn’t know we were–are dating, because I. Well..I’m just going to come straight out with it, okay? And I don’t want you to get upset or anything because their opinion doesn’t mean anything anymore. I mean, I don’t give a shit what they think and they just don’t understand because they don’t know you like I do, yeh? So basically, uhm…they don’t really…like you. You’ve done nothing wrong; seriously, you haven’t done a single thing wrong. They’re just pretentious, arrogant, ignorant bastards sometimes and they can’t see past their own noses. They just…they don’t understand you. That’s all, and I don’t want you to think about it because it’s totally not a problem and they don’t matter in the slightest. I just, I had to tell you now so I could tell you the rest. Believe me, I’d have never told you if I didn’t have to; it’s irrelevant and total bullshit. I didn’t tell them we were dating because I was trying to protect you, and I didn’t tell you what they thought because I was protecting you again, too. I didn’t want them to say more bad stuff about you, just so you know.”
Louis took a deep breath and tried to slow his words down to a more coherent level.
"I..well, now you know that, I guess it’s time to continue. So, because of all that shit, when they brought you up, I was really scared. Like, I was really frightened of what they were going to say because I hate hearing them talk about you like that and I didn’t want to hear something so..horrible. So they noticed how much time I’d been spending with you, well, not with you as far as they were concerned, and they started questioning me on it. And like me, being the blurter that I am, somehow ended up saying it was Aiden who I was dating. I swear, Haz, I swear to God I was going to say you. I thought I was going to say you but then Aiden’s name just slipped out and I still, to this day, have no clue how. I think it was just a bad case of word vomit, y’know?
I regret it every second I’m awake, Harry, you have to believe me when I say that. The fact that I’ve caused so much pain from being so slack with my words is the worst thing that could have happened to me at the moment. I hate seeing you hurt, even just not hearing from you killed me, let alone realising that my stupidity had caused this. I didn’t want you to find out what I’d done, not because I’d cheated on you or lied to you, but because after I’d done it I knew it would mess with you, but it was too late for me to change things. I was just trying to protect you, baby, I swear; it just got out of hand..”
"Wait- I’m not finished, not yet actually. I need you to know that nothing has happened between me and Aiden. I swear on everything I love; I swear, Harry, that nothing has happened with me and Aiden. Well- actually, something did happen but that was years ago. Aiden’s just a really good mate of mine. I, it sounds ludicrous, but I pretended to be his boyfriend once to try and make his crush jealous, and it all worked out fine. But then Matt left and I suppose I was the first person Aiden thought of and we might have had sex, but it didn’t mean anything then and it doesn’t mean anything now; it was years ago; it’s over. We haven’t done anything since; a hug is as far as it went. I guess that’s why I said his name in the first place, after the initial refusal of saying yours, that is. The lads knew about that; they knew nothing had actually gone on, so I thought that maybe they would realise, y’know? I thought that they knew me well enough to know that I’ve never fancied him in the slightest.”
"It’s not an excuse, I know. But I just need you to understand that this is a whole misunderstanding and that I haven’t cheated on you. I haven’t been harbouring a secret boyfriend; I haven’t been- ugh, fucking Aiden, but I have been totally devoted to you. It sounds so corny, there’s a song with that in, right? But it’s true, I’ve never looked at anyone else except you, and I just want you to know that. It’s not what you think, none of it is, well, except for our relationship that is…if there even is a relationship anymore..just, basically, Aiden was like a ‘pretend’ boyfriend whilst…well, I don’t even know what it was while, but he was and yeh, I’m just really fucking sorry."
It was silent for while after he spoke. He felt deflated, exhausted because he had just poured his heart out into a puddle on the floor, and he didn’t know whether it would dry up or Harry would splash in it to scatter it into lots of little drips. His throat was sore, aching, from holding back the tears. It was hard to admit everything, spill everything which he had kept in for so long.
He didn’t want pity though; that wasn’t why he was admitting that it was hard. He bet that Harry didn’t want pity either; Harry wasn’t like that. He didn’t want to be sympathised with, given that awkward smile and pat on the shoulder. It made things harder, Louis supposed, because it meant that it was hard to judge how to act around Harry. If they got past the whole debacle, he wouldn’t want to act like nothing had happened because that would just be dismissing his wrongdoings, but he didn’t want to focus on them or else Harry would be getting hurt more and more and they would never be able to move on.
What was Louis saying; he didn’t even know what Harry thought of the situation. It had been silent for a good amount of time, well, it felt like that anyway. Louis wasn’t going to push it, though. Harry would speak to him when he wanted to; that way he would know what Harry was really thinking and not the product of anger or hurt.
It was another bundle of minutes later when Louis heard movement behind the door. His mind struck a twinge of hope that maybe Harry would open the door, but he covered that with a black towel straight away. He wasn’t going to get his hopes up; he didn’t deserve to have any hope at all, he thought.
Slowly, almost unsteadily, another piece of paper appeared from under the door. A nerve coated lump was lodged awkwardly in Louis’ throat as he picked it up with shaking hands.
One word. That was all. Just one word. Various scribbles were blotted out on the page, but it was that one word which stood out as the chosen question. It was a scary word, then; it was. Full of promises and knockbacks, dreams and broken fairytales. It could easily be coated in lies, like a trap door to get out of a sticky predicament. Or it could be used to tell the truth, to escape fairly and honestly.
Louis knew that he needed to fight this battle fair and square. If he was to keep Harry, or at least fight for him as best as he could, then he would have to lay all of his cards on the table.
"Because…because I’m a coward," he stated simply, dejectedly. "Because, for once in my life, I cared about what people thought. I was scared of being branded as something untrue. I was scared of having to explain myself to the people who should know why from the top of their heads. I was scared of finding out that they weren’t supportive of me, of us. I was scared of you being discriminated against. I was scared of you having to put up with that and think that I wasn’t as worth it as you thought. I was just scared.”
With another added dose of silence, a slosh of tension, and a pile up of anxiety, Louis waited for Harry’s reply. He really hadn’t held back; he had thrown everything out there. Yes, he may have contradicted himself explaining why he said Aiden’s name when he said he didn’t mean to, but that was how it was. He didn’t mean to say Aiden’s name, but he didn’t change it afterwards, like he probably could have, because of his cowardice. It was complicated, far too complicated. He hoped that Harry would be able to work it out; that he would be able to sort out the mess that Louis had made and get them back on track. Louis was supposed to be the teacher, help Harry out in this relationship because of his lack of experience, but now it was Harry’s turn to take the reins; the ball was in his court.
The next message was the most painful. Louis could imagine Harry saying it; imagine the look on his face as he slowly wrote down the words. Maybe Harry would have been worrying his bottom lip and his eyebrows would have been drawn together strongly. Or maybe he would have tears in his eyes –that was a killer shot through the heart– and he would be blinking them away constantly, having to use the back of his hand to wipe away the moisture and not let his guard down.
Any image was a heart throbbing one, it couldn’t be avoided with the words that were on the paper.
Are you ashamed of me?
A sob broke through Louis’ mouth in an attempt to finally be released. No tears had fallen yet, they would be saved for his own privacy, but the sound couldn’t be held in any longer.
He wanted to say that he didn’t know how Harry could have come up with such a conclusion, but regretfully he did. Unbeknownst to him, he had given off that vibe when inside he felt the complete opposite. This was the time that Harry had to listen to him, Louis concluded, Harry wasn’t allowed to believe that for another second longer.
"Fuck, Harry, I- no, just no. That’s just- no. I don’t want you to ever say that again, alright? I- do you know how much it hurts to hear that? Because it’s fucking ripping me apart right now, the fact that you think that. I could- I could never ever think that. I’m probably the proudest person of you apart from your family, Haz. I’m the furthest away from ashamed that you can be. I know, I know it sounds like I was but I swear to God I was not, and I am not, ashamed of you. I want to be able to parade you around and hold your hand and kiss you in the middle of the street and everything like that, and we can do that because I have nothing against it. I just- I don’t want you to be. I know that you’re already insecure about this and I don’t want you to be ashamed of us because of your insecurities.
I know this has nothing to do with the situation, but if we’re on the topic of shame then I suppose I should bring it up. I don’t ever want you to feel undermined or insecure about us because you are- were, maybe– the most steady thing that I have –had– in my life and you don’t understand how much I need you. I always knew that you were there and that you would help me, because you’re just like that, so I would never ever be ashamed of having someone like that in my life. Please, Harry, believe me when I say that I’m not ashamed of you, because you should never think like that. We’re not..we’re not in love yet, but I think I could fall for you Haz, and I..- this has nothing to do with the conversation at all so why am I even saying this? I’ll just shut up now..yeh..just-yeh..I’m not ashamed of you in the slightest.”
Louis was on the floor, his head falling forward into the gap between his legs where his knees bunched up, when he had finished. It was draining, emotionally, mentally, physically. He felt exhausted from trying to prove his point, and even more exhausted over trying to work out whether his point had been proven. It was hard to work Harry out normally, let alone with a wooden door in between them.
He sat for a long while, so long that he wondered if Harry had fallen asleep. He was aware that he probably wouldn’t get a reply from Harry. Nothing had been given so far and the wait had solidified that thought into an ice cube sliding down the back of his neck. It was painfully cold, his heart maybe.
He had a period of listening intently for any movement in the room. Wanting to know what was happening, how Harry was feeling. Alas, he heard nothing. Maybe there was some hope that when movement occurred, then so would the opening of the door. Louis hoped to see Harry before he left –whenever that would be; he would camp outside his door forever if he had to, at least it would be warm in the house rather than on their doorstep– and try and work everything out; but by the way things were heading, it didn’t seem like that would happen. With no contact even by paper, it was unlikely that face to face contact would happen.
Louis had been waiting at least half an hour by the time he heard footsteps on the stairs. He lifted his head, eyeing up Anne through his glassy and tired eyes. He understood, now, why she hated him. He would hate him too if he were her. Essentially, Louis had cheated on Harry in her eyes, and even though that wasn’t true, she didn’t know that. Unless she had been listening in, which wouldn’t be unexpected and Louis wouldn’t have minded either. Her face was worn out, tired, and Louis couldn’t quite place what she was feeling. She didn’t look as stony as she did before; her glare had dissipated, but she wasn’t as welcoming as she used to be, either.
"It’s getting a little late, don’t you think? Maybe you should leave…" her voice wasn’t cold, but it wasn’t soft; it was emotionless.
"Can I…just wait a little longer?" Louis’ voice was croaky and thick, full of emotion.
Anne shook her head softly, “I don’t think so, Louis. I think it’s about time you left.”
"But, Harry…" He practically whimpered.
"Louis, it’s time to leave," Anne stated a little more firmly but still had a softer undertone than to sound forceful.
Louis mumbled aimless protests under his breath but they soon collected into a heavy sigh of defeat. His head knocked the door with a small bang as he dropped it back. He closed his eyes, drinking in the moment and gathering his thoughts. He didn’t want to leave, but he wasn’t going to object to Anne’s orders any more tonight.
"Can I just-" Louis gestured towards the door as he stood up, and Anne nodded in acceptance.
Louis cleared his throat awkwardly and straightened out his creased clothes. “Right, uh, well, I have to go now, Haz. I’d stay if I could but, uh, I think I’ve overstayed my welcome anyway,” he said as glanced back to Anne who was pretending to be uninterested in his speech.
"Uhm, so, I guess you’ve heard everything now and well- I hope that it’s cleared everything up and you’ll consider taking me back. Not that we’ve broken up or anything, at least I hope we haven’t, but I get why you’re mad at me. I mean, the basis of it is that I’ve fucked up and I’ve hurt you, and it’s okay for you to feel like that. I just hope that you can forgive me, because I really need you, Harry, and I don’t even want to think about what life will be like without you. It sounds dramatic, I know, but I just don’t want to lose you, y’know? But I get it if you can’t forgive me; it’s understandable. So, well, we’re supposed to be going to Italy on Monday and I know your Mum doesn’t want us to go, but things have changed now and you’ve got more to consider. I’ll, uh, be waiting at the airport for you, so if you don’t come then I know that this is over and yeh…I- uh, guess I’ll see you, then, Haz. I’m sorry, again; I’m just really fucking sorry."
His words had turned into a whisper by the end, his voice constricting and not letting any more noise come out. He didn’t want it to sound like a goodbye; it wasn’t a goodbye. He wouldn’t let it be. Monday would be a big day, he knew that, but he wasn’t going to give up, regardless of how defeated he sounded through his words. There was some fight left in him, even if it was small enough not to be heard through his voice.
After a minute of collecting himself, his hands bracing the door frame to keep him upright, Louis turned around slowly. He looked at Anne, sending her an apologetic look. There was no doubt that he was expressing how sorry he was, everything was written on his face. He started to walk away, his feet dragging reluctantly.
It was the click which should have made him turn around, but he thought nothing of it. He was past the point of his mind running properly. It was probably just the fiction of his mind, he thought.
If he had looked behind, he would have seen Harry’s face peek out a slight gap in the door. He would have seen the messy hair, the baggy clothing, the bitten nails. If he had looked for even longer, he would have seen the blotches of pink, the red rims, the chapped lips.
It wasn’t until he heard the drop on the floor, felt the weight behind his knees, and heard the returning click, that he turned around. His eyes darted to the door firstly, but dropped to the floor in sorrow when he saw that it was still deathly shut. They trailed slowly, after he had shut his eyes for a few seconds to regain composure, along the floor until they had come across the object which had hit him with beaten force.
That was what had started the waves of emotion to finally crash behind his eyes: the fact that there wasn’t a slam, that there wasn’t any dramatics, that it was just defeat. Louis had choked up, sobbed loudly and finally let the tears fall. They tumbled, fell, sprinted down his cheeks and pooled in a pond of hurt wherever they could. His sobs were loud, wracking his body. He tried to muffle them with his hand which had locked over his mouth, whether that was there to actually stifle them or as a reaction, that was unsure.
Because on the floor was a box.
And on the top of that present was a piece of paper.
The paper was covered in hearts and swirls in pinks and reds. It was handmade, full of thought and effort.
And in the middle of that page were four words which ripped Louis’ heart out and stamped on it with everything they had. They were the words which made him run down the stairs and out of the house in fright and fury at himself. The words which he should have known, that he would have known if it wasn’t for the mess he had gotten himself in. The words which meant everything would have hurt that little bit more for Harry, so a whole lot more for Louis.
Happy One Month Anniversary!
Happy one month anniversary, indeed.
Well well well, here we are; the penultimate chapter! There is one more to go, then an epilogue so don’t forget that. I don’t know about a sequel so please don’t question me on that because, even though I’m grateful that you like Mute so much that you want one, I’m just a little confused whether I want to write it or not and I want it to be my own choice. But that’s irrelevant for now because the story hasn’t even finished yet!
Actually, that kinda leads me onto my next point. I start college tomorrow, a brand new place, new people, new teachers, new everything. So yeh, I have no bloody clue when the next update will be. Please be appreciative of the fact that this is going to be a really stressful time for me and writing might not be my first priority. This chapter hasn’t actually taken that long, but I’ve had too many questions asking for updates and as much as I appreciate the fact that you care enough to ask, it was getting a little bit tedious by the end and I was ready to just, idk, scream. So yeh, please don’t hassle me for updates because I have a legit reason not to be updating for however long it takes. These chapters are very important so please don’t rush me. Sorry if that came across as rude, I just need to get my point across.
Anywaaaaaay so that was 9,100+ words. Shorter than last time, but who cares really. I hope you liked it, it was probably expected as to what had happened but I think some parts were unexpected, especially the last part too because when I realised that it was a shock to me! Thank you so much for reading, feedback appreciated :3 xx
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