How is love supposed to speak, when one can’t even choke out the words?
Louis awoke with an orange warmth spreading over his eyelids. His arm was tingling with specks of heat which burst like needled balloons. His whole right side felt like it was blanketed in sun and tan and yellow, almost like there was a sheet of translucent, orange tinted cling film draped over his exposed skin. His thin pyjama top had shucked up to his ribs and his black boxer leg had scrunched up around his thigh, but the way that the light and heat had wrapped itself around his skin and buried itself in between the fine hair which sprouted from his skin, it made it unnecessary for extra material.
As well as the heat from the sun which was no doubt blaring through the thin curtains, was the bodily heat of the boy lying next to him –or more like on him. An arm was splayed over Louis’ chest (which normally would have been bare, but Louis wasn’t going to push it too far; he was considerate underneath all his flamboyance) and a foot was tickling at his ankle. The pale skin most probably contrasted considerably with his tanned skin, and if he wasn’t still in sleep-mode, Louis would have liked to let his eyes meander around it. The bicep muscle which wasn’t all too defined was definitely lying heavily over his, and Louis could feel it more than anything. He was yet to open his eyes, let alone look, but every dot of skin which touched the cooler one of the other boy’s felt like the flame of a match being held to the area. He was hyperconscious, and so he had right to be with the rarity of the occasion.
Because the body lying next to his was Harry. He and Harry were in bed together. In a hotel. In Italy. On holiday. Alone. By themselves. Just them. Together.
And that, that was a pretty monumental thing.
His eyes creaked open, his upper eyelashes separating from his lower with reluctance. The light blinded him as expected but the orange glow softened it to a mild stun. But what was more stunning than the contrasting difference of darkness and lightness, was the sight that he opened his eyes to. It was stunning in a different sense. Not shocking or surprising, no; stunning as in beautiful and angelic and strikingly handsome.
Louis didn’t think that he would ever get used to waking up to such loveliness, such splendour and such exquisiteness. And no, maybe he wouldn’t see such prettiness as the first thing his eyes set down on for many days more, but he sure as hell appreciated it while he could.
Two mornings of waking up to emeralds and chocolate was more than Louis’s bottle of ‘Harry’ could hold; the levels were teetering by the lip of the lid. And to think that he had two more days of such brilliance to go, the idea was astounding. He would have to invest in a bigger storage system, he thought, he couldn’t waste any drop of grandeur for future use.
So there Harry was, all wide and bleary eyed, green swathed in glassy films of sparkling sleep. Strands of bed-hair were lying carefully over his forehead and tickling his eyelids with their fingers. His lips were pinked and looked utterly delicious, but what Louis focused on the most was the way that Harry’s eyelashes fanned across his cheeks. The way that the strings of dark brown were delicately and carefully placed. They framed the green with pride. They looked like they were painted on with the finest of brushes, as if the most talented artist had taken Harry victim and taken its creative soul to flutter over Harry’s eyes.
A flash appearance of Harry’s tongue darting over his thickened lips drew Louis from his admiration. Harry was steadily staring at him, green eyes smoothing over Louis’ browned skin. The sun was doing wonders to Louis’ complexion, to Harry’s not so much. He had stayed the, almost translucent, white even after being under the sun for hours. Maybe that was to do with the thick layer of sun cream he had caked onto his skin, but the idea of having red raw shoulders wasn’t appealing for either of them. (But maybe the idea of massaging after-sun into Harry’s shoulder was very appealing, Louis could almost melt at the idea of moulding Harry’s muscles with his hands, feeling it move under his skin and hearing the groans of appreciation tumble from Harry’s lips as-).
So Harry was staring at Louis and Louis was staring at Harry and things seemed pretty perfect in that moment.
"Mornin’," Louis said with his obvious morning voice. He watched as Harry’s eyes flickered shut for reasons that Louis didn’t know, but it was soft and gentle and more meaningful than Louis would know.
Louis spoke no more, his words dying on his lips as Harry breathed out a kind breath through parted lips and let his eyes flutter shut. The atmosphere was calm, but not too calm. It didn’t seem like anything could or would break the serenity. Happiness: that made sure that nothing would affect the tranquil mood. Nothing else needed to be said for the time being; lying with a dozing Harry next to him was more than enough for Louis.
Louis rolled onto his back and shuffled up the bed a little, stretching out his limbs and pulling his bones to a relaxing tension. He pulled the white, crisp duvet up so it rested above his hips and pushed his bottom into the mattress to get more comfortable. Harry kept breathing gently next to him, his pink lips in an adorable pout that Louis wanted to kiss away with all his might. With Harry’s peacefulness seeping into Louis’ heart, Louis raised his hand limply and rested it on top of Harry’s soft curls. Soothingly, he let his fingertips bury in the strands and let the palm of his hand be tickled by the tips. He softly carded his fingers through the curls and couldn’t deny the smile which pulled at his lips when Harry purred in his doze.
Before Louis could allow his thoughts to trail into how Harry was actually quite like the most adorable kitten he had ever seen, Louis caught the view which was painted behind the window glass. The sky was a gorgeous, summery light blue with marshmallow clouds bobbing in the ripples of silk. The sun was casting almost bright white beams from above the window pane, and Louis could see where the sea and sky seemed to be stitched together at the seams. It was serene, beautiful, and somewhat surreal.
Surreal. Everything was surreal. The fact that he was there, in Italy, with Harry, that was totally surreal. Harry lying next to him, Harry being with him, even the mere factor of Harry even turning up at the airport, that was all a surreal, a dreamlike Neverland which Louis thought would be only a fantasy a few days prior.
But the two of them were on holiday and it was real.
Louis glanced around the room, his fingers still slithering through the silky strands leisurely. He was pleasantly surprised by the interior design, the cleanliness and most importantly the bed. Not that the bed would be used in that way, of course not. But Louis was very picky when it came to beds, after all, you do spend practically half the day in them. The sheets were plain white and had a dark brown throw, and most importantly, there wasn’t a dodgy looking stain in sight. The room was bright, with a large window opposite the bed and a one on the right hand wall too. It was all that Louis had hoped for; he would have to thank Anne when he got back. Well, if she let him speak to her, that is.
Speaking of Anne, Harry had received a very stern text from her on the Monday night while they were settling into the room. It was full of I’m highly disappointed in you and I’m only looking out for you and I know you want to be independent but.. which had left Harry feeling somewhat despondent, but with a smooth of his curls and a nuzzle in the crease of his arm, Louis restored his mood relatively quickly. He had texted back with a full explanation and a request for her to just speak to Gemma, please, she knows everything tacked on the end. They hadn’t heard from her since but Louis had hope that she had come around to the idea.
The plane journey was actually enjoyable, surprisingly enough. Harry and Louis were squished together but Harry’s fidgeting didn’t annoy Louis in the slightest. He didn’t exactly like the close confinements but Louis graciously offered him the seat by the window so he wasn’t pressed against the, well, how should we put it, sour smelling man who was lodged next to Louis. Maybe Louis was using that as an excuse to snuggle up to Harry a little closerthan usual, but hey, who could blame him. Harry was on the plane with him; he was going to snuggle up to him with all his might.
It was sweet and cosy as Louis rested his head on Harry’s shoulder and linked their fingers together. The armrest had been pushed up so that their two seats could be shared and Harry could pull his long legs up to his chest easily. It was like there was a bubble of warmth pulled over them and their joined hands were used as a fastening device. Subconsciously, Harry’s fingertips were smoothing over Louis’ knuckles to every beat of the music they shared.
Because the journey was only around two and a half hours, they didn’t bother watch the film provided, instead decided to share Harry’s headphones and bop along to his varied selection of music. Louis couldn’t really tell one song from the other, but Harry had a quaint smile on his lips and that was all that mattered. Not the bitter man beside him, not the peering air hostess, not the thought of Zayn, not the thought of Anne, no, just Harry, basking in harry and only harry.
One –of the many throughout their holiday– expression which Louis was sure to never forget was Harry’s just as they stepped out onto the Italian ground, just outside of their hotel and by the beach. He looked in awe, total and utter awed joy. He looked at Louis with wide, emerald eyes, sparkling jade reflecting Louis’ shining smile. The smile which radiated so much happiness and disbelief on practically every level was indescribable in Louis’ mind. He could see that his boyfriend was only just letting it sink in that they were there, together, alone, in Italy. Seeing his reaction to that, right in front of his eyes, brought an inexplicable amount of delight to Louis’ eyes. Louis’ fingers scrambled to find his and locked their hands together, fingers tightening to mirror the clenching of his heart.
Of course, once settled and able to reflect, Louis had had a time of wondering how the fuck he had gotten there. A prolonged moment of why and i don’t deserve this was present and standing, but as he cast his glance over to a lazing Harry, he knew that he wasn’t the only one struggling beneath his awed exterior. Regardless of whether he would even admit it to himself or not, there were moments when the clouds would pass over the ocean and Harry was doused in realisation of everything that had happened. Louis couldn’t expect him to forget everything that had happened; in a sense, he didn’t want Harry to forget.
If Harry forgot then maybe he would forget how much they meant to each other; maybe he would forget that Louis made mistakes like everyone else and he wasn’t as invincible as he made himself out to be. Louis wasn’t perfect in the slightest.
But somehow, in spite of Harry’s personality, Harry didn’t stay downtrodden for long. The whole situation had not only secured his faith in Louis (somehow, despite the fact that Louis had lied despicably) but had let him grow a thicker skin, even if it was only the smallest amount. What mattered the most was the fact that they were together, after everything. As much as Harry’s whole being contradicted it, this event didn’t wreak havoc with his mind because he had Louis there at the end, had support and care standing at the finish like.
Harry couldn’t explain it himself, but somehow, within hours, he was okay. Never would he ever think that he would be so lenient in such a situation, but Louis was Louis and when he was around, everything was okay.
Back to the present, though, there wasn’t much time for moping because Louis’ stomach was groaning almost as much as that weirdo he fucked when he was seventeen, –who, by the way, was probably the most drugged up boy he had ever fucked, that wouldn’t stop grumbling even after Louis had pulled out– and he was just craving some of that brioche that the hotel served yesterday morning.
Gently slipping his fingers from Harry’s hair so he could brush back an errant curl from the boy’s forehead, Louis leant down. He licked his lips subconsciously and pressed a kiss on the skin of Harry’s forehead. Louis was taking advantage of Harry’s dozing state and general willingness that stemmed from gallons of glee, but the kiss was an automatic action and he couldn’t help it when Harry looked so handsome. He slid out of bed and padded his way into the bathroom, deciding to let Harry laze around until his daily routine was over and done with. After all, Louis did take forever to get ready and Harry’s morning piss (wow, that sounds odd, doesn’t it? Louis knowing that Harry had to go to the toilet every morning…but hey, that’s what you learn when you’re on holiday with someone. We’ll stop before Louis starts to get soppy over how he loves to know all the little things about Harry) wouldn’t appreciate that at all.
After preening himself to perfection for a good half hour, Louis trundled out of the small bathroom and promptly fell over on a strewn shoe, stumbling forward and bashing into the wall with a knock of his head. With a flush of his cheeks, Louis straightened up and was all for pretending it didn’t happen, all until he heard that familiar quiet chuckle. He glanced over at Harry to see him brimming with silent laughter as he sat with his legs hanging over the end of the bed. Louis couldn’t help but let his laughter topple through his lips as he rubbed the sore spot on his head.
Harry looked adorable, sitting there all sleepy crusted. His curls were mussed up and wild, a jungle of threads. His eyes were bleary but beautifully clear at the same time, crinkles creasing the corner. His t-shirt was creased and wrinkled, and all that Louis wanted to do was bundle him up and smother him in kisses.
"You wanna go get some breakfast?" Louis asked, wandering over to the bed and plonking himself down with a creak of the mattress. Harry blinked heavily and nodded in Louis’ direction. He stood up in all his length and stretched his arms above his head. Louis didn’t dare glance at the strip of Harry’s stomach which was bound to be exposed; his self-restrain was at its limits, what with the sun bringing out every sparkle in Harry’s design.
After changing into some more appropriate clothing than scrappy pyjamas, Louis and Harry made their way down to the restaurant. The hotel provided a buffet of breakfast foods, nothing too extravagant for the boys’ liking. The first morning they had been in the hotel was an experience for Harry from how the waiter was practically forcing him to drink some of the litres of coffee that they had set out for the guests. Louis drank his with a tight lipped smile and wished the drink’s bitterness to disappear and be replaced with tea, but Harry on the other hand couldn’t do such a thing. The face he made after he had taken the first sip had Louis in stitches. He wasn’t best pleased by it, to put it lightly, and with the waiter hovering around to wait until his cup was drained so he could refill it, Louis took pity on his boyfriend and drank it for him. Louis did, however, demand a peck on the lips in return for the action. Harry couldn’t find reason to deny him that.
During the breakfast of pastries, breads and fruits, the two boys planned out their day. Neither were up to doing much, especially not after their long day in Venice the day prior, so a lazy day on the beach and a peruse around the markets seemed the most fitting thing to do.
Louis had been slightly disappointed when they had first gone onto the beach and Harry hadn’t stripped himself of his t-shirt. He couldn’t not admit that, to anyone it was pretty obvious that that would have been the main highlight for him. He wanted to stare at the paleness of his skin, watch it shimmer in the sun. He wanted to be able to feel the softness with his eyes, the silky smooth expanse. He wanted to eye up his chest and imagine what it would taste like on his tongue as he-
But Louis got it; he understood. It wasn’t like suddenly Harry would be confident and comfortable in his own body just because they were on holiday together, most likely the total opposite. Harry would be in an even more uncomfortable situation because he wouldn’t have those home comforts. As much as Louis disapproved of said insecurities, he knew Harry and he knew that it wasn’t as simple as flicking a switch to change everything. He would probably be hidden away for a good few months more and even though it pained Louis to not have any of that, (and by that I don’t mean sexual tendencies) he definitely wasn’t going to pressure Harry. He could last by feeding off scrunched t-shirts and flashes of pale.
But none of that prevented Louis from stripping off his shirt and bronzing himself to no ends. Louis wasn’t going to lie or attempt to be bashful; he knew he had a relatively good body. The dancing had kept him slim, regardless of his shitty Uni diet in his first year, and even given him the slight of a six pack. It wasn’t incredible, not chiselled like a carving in gold. And he did have this little band of chub which just wouldn’t budge, so that didn’t count towards the perfect body. But he wasn’t ashamed of it, though, in spite of his qualms. Not like Harry seemed to be ashamed of his own.
So once the two had gone back to the room, dressed in shorts and thin t-shirts and packed Harry’s brown satchel full of the necessities, they meandered down to the beach. Louis’ fingers fumbled their way into Harry’s as they paid for two sun beds and found their chosen spot. Louis didn’t even let them fall apart as they tried to conceal the plastic beds with their towels, for reasons unknown to Louis. It was most probable that Louis was just craving Harry’s touch, everything about this holiday heightened the twitch in his fingers.
He only let Harry’s long, thin fingers slide from his as he pulled off his t-shirt, and my, Louis definitely wasn’t going to pretend that he missed Harry’s wandering eyes. Louis spotted from the corner of his eye that Harry was most definitely staring as Louis pulled the t-shirt over his head. Being the way that Louis was, he could hardly not tease Harry a little, after all, Harry was his boyfriend and what harm could a little teasing do? He made sure to the make the muscles in his back flex and the sun shine on his bronzed skin.
Harry’s eyes followed his movements, mind racing and thoughts flaring. The racecourse that his mind was on had been started with the shotgun of sun and skin. As the shirt material was lifted, the smooth tracks turned rippled with muscle and sandy ground. The road was thin and narrow, dainty and delicate. Somehow, the sun seemed to shine in all the right places, making Harry’s veins tingle at the sight. The image made his heart balloon to a strain, a thin needle prick would burst it and he would no doubt be enthralled with ecstasy.
Louis threw his shirt on the sun bed, catching the way the black of Harry’s eyes were suckered to the skin of his chest. He took a mental picture of the darkened, glassy orbs and filed it away at the back of his mind. He would use that later, most probably.
As Louis spoke, Harry seemed to break from his trance in shock, unsure of what had happened to him as he fell into the trap of smoky eyes. “You want to go down to the sea yet or d’you want to sunbathe for a bit?” his voice was so casual, so practiced and calm. It was as if Harry’s mesmerisation (wow, Harry wasn’t so sure calling it that) had just flown right over his head. It wasn’t like that, of course, because inside Louis was freaking out immensely, but he wasn’t going to show that, was he?
Harry nodded his head, his mind still trailing with a little of the daze from beforehand, and let Louis grab his hand and haul him up from the seat. Before he knew it, he was being dragged by a running Louis –a running, half naked Louis– down to the sea. And on his lips was the most blissful smile in history.
After a frolic in the sea and a laze on the sand, Louis and Harry decided to take a break from the burning sun and take to the shadowed coolness of the ice cream shop not five minutes away. Louis was tempted to walk around without his clingy top on, but with how Harry kept getting distracted and dropping the thread of Louis’ words, he thought it best to cope with the suffocating heat for Harry’s sake.
As they walked through the small streets, ancient grey stone encompassing them, the two of them felt unusually safe. To be on holiday without a parent wasn’t anything new to Louis; he had been on holidays with just his boyfriend from an age which was probably deemed too young. But he hadn’t been on a holiday like this, a one which meant a lot and held more than just an excuse to get a good tan. It was their redemption. And to be in such a sensitive and rocky place in their relationship and feel so secure, it was a surprise– a welcomed surprise nonetheless.
Harry, on the other hand, felt a security which was more to do with the fact that his mother wasn’t there. He had been mollycoddled all his life, that was obvious and he had said it previously, by his mother and had hardly ever been out of her sight. So to be away from her in a different country, with the ability to be fully independent, he felt a lot more secure in himself. He was learning that he could do things by himself; he could be strong and decisive and he didn’t need everything done for him. Plus, he felt safe because of Louis being there, but that was just a given, really.
Another bonus was the lack of judgement enforced on their clasped hands. Nobody stared at the peach and tan contrast with a disgusted look on their face. Nobody muttered a breathy insult as Louis pressed his lips on Harry’s and got a pucker back, not one. To put it bluntly, nobody gave a shit and that was more than Louis and Harry could have ever asked for.
The couple ducked into the small ice cream parlour with a relieved sigh. The cool air conditioning whooshed at the back of their necks and tingled at their elbows. The counter storing the cooling treat hummed away in the background, a murmur behind the rolls of Italian being spoken between the workers and customers. The way that Louis and Harry could only understand the odd word of the language made them feel like they were in an even thicker bubble than they normally were. In England, they were in their bubble of harryandlouis most of the time, but not being able to speak the native language separated them from everyone else in Italy and strengthened the wall around them.
"Right, you want Raspberry Ripple I presume, yeh?" Louis asked, scanning the teeth tingling treats through the pristine glass. His eyes flickered to the side and caught Harry’s nod, spotting the faint smile on his lips. Louis didn’t ask what it was for, no; he was too busy babbling about searching out the toffee ice cream which he was just craving so bad. But Harry was smiling because Louis remembered that that was his favourite, after weeks and weeks he still remembered. Yes, he was his boyfriend and that type of relationship ensued knowledge on a different level, but small details like that were something which Harry presumed that Louis would forget on a whim. It made his insides bubble with love lava and his cheeks light with relaxed reds.
Harry settled himself on a cool mosaic chair near the back of the restaurant. Although it was one of the furthest seats away from the sun blaring window, the light still caught the seat opposite him where Louis would perch himself. His green eyes glanced over to see Louis trying to communicate with the Italian woman behind the counter, pointing and stressing the order with his hands more so than he ever had. You would have thought that they would have brought along a pocket handbook about the city, or even brushed up on their Italian skills (which equated to zilch) beforehand, but no, that wasn’t exactly their main priority at the time. Plus, it was far more amusing to see Louis try and order foods which he had no understanding whatsoever about, let alone know the pronunciation.
Finally, Louis toddled over to Harry, two ice cream cones in hand. He handed Harry the neat white ice cream which had punctures of pink and valleys of red carved into it, before sitting down on the seat opposite him.
It was fascinating for Harry, indescribably captivating. The yellow light cast over the tan skin with a gentle touch. It was diffused around the edges, soft and subtle. It dug into the laughter lines and nestled in the left corner of Louis’ lips. It sparked a pierce of white on the pink lower lip just after the cherry tongue darted out to wet it. It made his eyes glisten with sherbet sparkles. This warm glow pulled at the feathered strands, scooping underneath to cause a lighten to the colour – caramel to match his ice cream. It accentuated the twist of the cone and turn of the head as it gathered around the tongue which was taking a long lick of the cold cream.
Harry stared in awe as he saw the ice cream move. He saw the ripples forming and gathering like golden leaves being swept into a pile, the wind acting like the melting sweetness which disrupted such perfection. Once assembled, the mind-racing muscle licked up the creamy goodness in one swoop, the tip of the tongue pointing to take an extra trench out of the ice cream. He watched Louis swallow, his Adam’s apple bobbing as the creamy substance trickled down his throat.
Yes, Harry was pretty mesmerised.
"That," Louis said as he finished off the ice cream , "was probably the best ice cream I have ever had. Well, it’s competing with the ice cream that we got, like, months ago anyway."
Harry felt that bubble in his stomach and that flutter in his chest. His cheeks flushed more than expected and his eyes dropped to the table as he tried to hide his smile. He didn’t know why he was so affected by it, but for some reason it pulled at his heart and lips dearly.
"Hey, what’s that reaction for?" Louis asked, lifting Harry’s face with his finger on his chin.
Harry’s cheeks bunched up and a dimple prodded at his right cheek. He shrugged shyly, his shoulders rising up to his ears. Louis let his finger drop from Harry’s chin and fumbled around in the brown satchel for the trusty writing materials. Harry rolled his eyes playfully as Louis pushed them towards him with his eyebrows raised, speaking through his expression.
I just…didn’t expect you to remember, that’s all…
Louis looked surprised, surprisingly enough for Harry. His blue eyes widened and a ponderous expression lay across his face. A splash of sadness pulled at his lips in a downturn, but it was soon covered up by the blankness which Harry would usually portray. Harry watched as Louis ran through thoughts in his mind, expression taut and unsure. His fidgeting fingers burst into life all of a sudden and grabbed onto Harry’s hand. With sticky fingers, he gripped onto Harry’s clean skin with a tight hold. His blue eyes turned blaringly serious and were doused in incentive.
"I- I remember a lot, okay Haz? I remember more than you probably realise, more than you will ever believe because you’re just that type of person. Always thinking lowly of yourself, always believing that nobody could actually care that much. But I do care that much and I do remember all of those little things. Because I want to, I want to remember them more than anything else. The little things are what mean the most to me and I will always hold onto those. I know it’s kinda hypocritical of me to say that I remember the small things when I forgot our one month…but still, don’t be surprised when I remember the little things, okay?”
Harry’s expression was a notch over blank. It had that unresponsive backing tone, but the main melody was starting to play in through a verse of contemplation. He was gripping Louis’ fingers back just as tightly, supporting himself while he found his reply. He was mainly overwhelmed by the sincerity and truth behind Louis’ words. Harry still could not believe that someone would feel that way about him, so to hear it out loud was quite an experience for his heart and mind and every single cell in his body.
I don’t really know what to say…
Louis squeezed Harry’s hand in encouragement, smiling softly at him. He wasn’t being patronising, no; he was being supportive and caring. And maybe his next words had a double meaning; maybe they were deeper than what was on the surface, more than just black on white, maybe they were the ink streaming through the trenches in the paper and trickling with hidden force. But whatever they were, they were from the heart; that was for sure.
"You don’t have to say anything, Harry. You don’t ever have to say anything."
Harry looked up from staring down at their locked fingers, their locked minds. The green orbs flashed through the dark eyelashes, concealing the glitter that had formed. Harry knew the meaning of Louis words; he knew the depth in which they lay. The sentence circulated his mind fluidly, like a kite in a steady stream of wind. It fluttered and tumbled but stayed pieced together. It was always legible, strong letters written in a fluent font standing strong in the colour black, contrasting with the light blue of his mind. Sometimes it dipped into his ears to replay the words being spoken so delicately, the soft, high voice replaying in his mind.
He wanted to touch his fingers to the piano keys and play out how the words made him feel, how they sounded in his head. They wouldn’t dip into the lower notes, the heavy and sturdy ones. No, they would stay with the higher pitched keys instead, mimicking the gentleness and the grace of the words. His fingers would probably scale over the highest note, just to let the feeling that he was floating on air drift in. It would not be a fast, staccato piece. His fingers would never let him ruin such serenity. It would be slow and soft, only light fingertips on ebony and ivory keys allowed.
It made him feel infinite.
I just…never expected that, y’know?
He pulled his fingers from Harry’s smoothly and let his hand cup Harry’s cheek. With his thumb scanning over the soft skin, Louis smiled sadly.
"I know, Haz, I know. I know that you don’t expect any of this, at all. I know that you probably won’t believe any of this either, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t know you.”
Harry looked down at the table, his curls cascading over his face and hiding his expression. Louis let his hand fall back onto Harry’s and noticed the way that his fingers seemed to slot into the spaces between Harry’s naturally.
It’s just a lot to get my head around, like, after everything in my life and after everything that happened last week, I never thought I would be here, let alone have you remembering the things which I remember.
Louis’ eyebrows furrowed as he read the neat scrawl. He looked up at Harry, head tilted and lips pouting in confusion.
"Why wouldn’t I remember what you remember, though?"
Harry sighed. He looked down at the paper once he had swivelled it around to face him, staring down the blankness his eyes had focused on. He wrote a few words but scribbled them out promptly. He found it hard to search out the start of the sentence, to make sense of his mind.
Well I’m just one of those people who take the small things to heart, y’know, like the first kiss stuff. Whereas you have bigger fish to fry, bigger things to remember than what ice cream I like the best..
Louis used his sticky fingers to raise Harry’s head once he had read the words. His eyes locked with Harry’s for a second or so to portray his seriousness. Of course the gaze was dropped soon after, but he knew that Harry had seen at least a smidgen of his truth in his blue eyes.
"That’s bullshit, to be honest…plain bullshit. I might come across quite flippant and stuff, but the little things mean more to me than anything. I would trade in something massive for lots of little things any day. Like, I don’t know- wait, yeh, here’s one: I traded in sex for all your little kisses. I did that because they mean more to me than a bit of fucking. Every little kiss gives me this feeling which I just can’t describe, something which sex doesn’t give me. I’m not saying that I won’t feel that if we have sex, but that’s not really the point anyway. The kisses, they made you happy, so they made me happy. Yes, I might have taken some of the appreciation for small things from you, but that doesn’t make it any less real. It just shows how much I have learnt from you and about you, that’s all. The little things mean the most, right?”
Harry took a while to reply after Louis’ speech, of sorts. His fingers were poised around the pen in one hand, while his other was still holding onto Louis’ with all his might. He dare not let it go, he thought, or else all of the words may slip away in front of his eyes and he would trickle into a trance of disbelief. He was not so sure what to do with the information that Louis had lain out in front of him. It had all been scripted in his mind, saved and buried to protect it, but he still could not believe it. Everything was told in such an honest and true way that Harry knew no lies were hidden in there, but it was still a task to swallow such sincerity when it concerned his own wellbeing.
He looked up at Louis with his bottom lip between his teeth, smiling with a burn to his cheeks.
I love this side of you, it’s so…I don’t even know how to explain it, it’s just amazing…
"No, Haz, you’re amazing, okay? The little things which I remember are what make you so amazing- wow, I sound like such a sap.”
Harry chuckled gravelly, the blush on his cheeks still flaring red. He fiddled with the pen between his fingertips for a while, indecisive on his answer. It wasn’t that he didn’t know what to say; it was just how to say it and whether it was the correct thing to say. (Although that makes it sound that Harry was scared to say the wrong thing around Louis, that wasn’t the case. All he wanted was to say it so that his point was made without him sounding silly. He didn’t mind embarrassing himself in front of Louis as much anymore, what with Louis being a blundering mess most of the time anyway, but important things weren’t something he wanted to mess up on.)
I like you being a sap, sap-you is cute and makes me feel all warm inside…
"He does? Well, then, maybe sap-me could tell you some of the little things that I remember about you? I like you feeling like that."
Only if you want…
Louis looked at Harry with those eyes. The ones which were not condescending, but were saying ‘are you actually kidding me?’. He pulled their twined hands up from the table and let their elbows support them. The table was cold on the newly supportive skin, but the heat of their hands being joined blanketed that chill. Louis’ hand –and arm– was basically wrapped around Harry’s. Harry’s pale hand was facing Louis, blue veins and thin bones galore. Before speaking, Louis looked down at their hands –for the billionth time that day– conjoined and smiled blissfully. The contrast of their skin and the difference in size made his heart race for reasons unknown. He leant down and pressed his lips on one of Harry’s knuckles, letting them rest there as he shut his eyes and soaked in harry. Finally, he pulled away and smiled up at his boyfriend. He let his chin rest on the mess of their fingers and spoke quietly.
"I remember how you love to cut mushrooms even though you hate eating them. And how you love cooking with potatoes because you think they’re the best ingredient ever because of their versatility. I remember that your nose runs really easily, even at the slightest bit of cold. It goes all rosy to match your cheeks. I remember that you think horror movies are pointless because the adrenaline turns into second-hand fear afterwards. And that rom-coms are the best because they provide you with rose-tinted glasses. I’m sure that you said you think wicker baskets look tacky, but I can’t remember why…oh, and you think that white cars look the tackiest which I totally agree on. I remember that you love wearing maroon because it makes you feel warm and cosy. And that Christmas is your favourite holiday because everyone is so happy around you and you love seeing your Mum smile. I remember that you and Gemma used to dance to the Christmas CD every year and you would always have to wear that flat cap to look like you were in the 1800’s. I remember that you used to hate mince pies but then you suddenly liked them one day and you can’t get enough of them. I remember that you hate getting gravy on your courgettes and cream when you have Christmas dinner. And that you love rosemary on your potatoes. Wait- why does this all have to do with food? Anyway, hmm, what else… oh, the fact that you hate sleeping with socks on, that, too, is just adorable. And you really want a dog but you would never walk it because you’re so lazy. I remember that you like having baths more than showers, especially bubble baths. You like coconut shampoo the best but vanilla bubble bath. And really, all of that –and the loads of other stuff I remember– is just superficial stuff.
I remember the important stuff too, the stuff which means even more than all that. I remember that you like me stroking your hair because it makes you feel safe. I remember that you just want to see your Mum smile, more than anything. And that when she’s happy, you’re happy. I remember that you find it hard to open up about the smallest of things because you think they’re petty, when to me they really aren’t. I remember that you blush every time I compliment you because you don’t believe me. That you’re insecure about how you look; the time you denied me complimenting how you looked with that one stare which I will always remember. I remember you still find this whole thing crazy. I remember that you need time to adjust every time we see each other, but that’s okay because you get there in the end and that’s all that matters. And I remember, most of all, that you just want to be cared for. And that’s what I aim to do every day.”
Harry was breathing heavily, his breaths looking deep and shaky. His chest expanded in a laboured and slow movement, but then contracted much quicker. For the majority of Louis’ babble, Harry hadn’t looked down much at all while he blushed away to no ends. It was a surprise, although Louis didn’t let himself contemplate it much as he was listing all the things which made his jaw tingle and eyes twitch. He had, instead, been staring at Louis in awe and delight. His green eyes were widened more than Louis had ever seen. They looked beautiful. His jaw was a little slack as Louis reeled off a fraction of the things he had remembered, disbelieving. He had only looked down and let his curls cover his eyes as Louis spoke a little more seriously, speaking a little dearer to the heart.
Once Louis had finished (even though it all seemed unfinished), they sat in quiet. A nice quiet, Louis thought. It was calm, open, and made his skin feel light on his bones. Harry was hunched over, his shoulders rising and falling. Each rise came with a gush of serenity; each fall came with a blow of tranquillity. It was quite blissful.
It was when Harry looked up, minutes later, that Louis felt his heart almost burst out of his chest. A fire trundled its way up from his stomach, dipping into the side of his ribcage and floundering in his throat. A shocked gasp was caught in his throat and would not escape, but it was still there, breathy and cool. The corners of his eyes tickled with bittersweet juice, unable to place itself on one of the two extremes. His teeth gravitated over his bottom lip without thought, biting down to stop a whimper tumbling out improperly. All reactions to a simple expression. It showed how much power a little thing by Harry had over Louis, that was for sure.
Harry’s eyes had a sheen, a sparkling lining. The gloss was painted over the emerald of his eyes, a trickle dabbed around the crease of his eyelid. His cheeks were pinked with something other than a blush for once. They were flushed with heaven. His bottom lip was a shade of ruby as it stretched into a smile just as Harry let out a breath full of depth. His white teeth peeked through his lips to show themselves, to show the Harry that was now. The Harry who was giggling in disbelief as he wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. The Harry who was staring at Louis with his emotions in his eyes, on his lips, in his skin. The Harry who could be so free with his emotions. The Harry who didn’t need to hide behind a blank sheet anymore. The Harry who was with Louis.
"Stop it, Haz, you’ll set me off!" Louis said, letting out a watery giggle. He brushed the falling curls from Harry’s forehead, staring softly at his languidly blinking eyes. Although the sun wasn’t tanning Harry all too much (and by that I mean not at all), it was doing a fine job of clearing up Harry’s blemishes on his forehead - not that Louis cared of course, but for Harry’s confidence it was a bonus. But that was totally off topic.
Muttering a quiet, “C’mere” to Harry, Louis leant over the table and pressed his lips on Harry’s. They still were yet to adventure into the land of tongue, but Harry’s technique was figuring itself out quite quickly. Louis tilted his head to the side to let their lips slot together more fluidly. Using his spare hand, Harry gently cupped the back of Louis’ head so that even the corners of their mouths could touch. The way that Harry’s lips were thicker than his made them sponge against Louis’ in a way which, if tongue was involved, would most probably leave Louis in an awkward situation. This kiss was one of the most raw they had had. It was full of thankyou and yourwelcome and imeanit and it’strue.
Louis pulled back reluctantly once his neck was starting to ache, breathing heavily. He let his eyes flutter open and land on Harry’s rosy lips, kissed lips. Breathlessly, he murmured, “We should probably go to the market now, but I kinda just want to do that all day…”
He saw Harry’s lips curl into a smile as he stared intently at them. He counted the creases which lined his bottom lip, so slight and thin that they were almost unseen. He spotted the indentation that marks above his top lip which was even paler than the rest of his skin. He stared down the skin just before his lips, the shinier and softer part which was easing away from his top lip like it had been glued there. He measured the scale of red they were from the force of the kiss; they seemed pretty red to him. They were fascinating.
Louis was pulled from his staring competition with the plush lips as Harry shook his head, his smile turning into a slight smirk. He got up from the table and pulled Louis off the seat and out of the shop. He turned in the direction of the market, causing Louis to whine childishly and pout. He slowed down in resistance, trying to stop Harry taking them anywhere. Harry turned around to look at him with raised eyebrows, staring him down, and then sighed dramatically. He trundled a few steps so that he was closer to Louis and dipped his head down. Harry brushed his lips against Louis’ lightly, the feeling tingling on Louis’ lips as he waited for Harry to press down. That, however, never happened as Harry did a quick turn and dragged a dazed Louis down the street.
"Wh-what?" Louis said confusedly, completely baffled by the quick happenings. Harry looked behind and smirked at him, letting a bubble of laughter float through his lips.
"That’s totally not fair!" Louis exclaimed, trailing behind Harry like a wounded puppy. Harry just cackled out a laugh and smiled brightly at Louis. It was as if Louis’ speech had fed him with a new found confidence. It wouldn’t last more than a few hours, Louis knew that, but it was certainly intriguing and quite amazing for Louis to witness. Louis stopped short, keeping his fingers locked with Harry’s firmly so that the taller boy stumbled to a stop.
"Come here," he pouted, staring at Harry and pointing down to the space just in front of him. Harry contemplated it for a moment before obeying the order and standing just in front of Louis. Louis raised up on his tip toes so his lips were level with Harry’s. He didn’t press them together, no; he just looked at Harry with a serious expression. The curly haired boy furrowed his eyebrows in confusion as Louis stood there, staring at him. He wasn’t too sure what Louis was inferring, what he was even doing, but then again, sometimes Harry had no clue what Louis was going on about so he was used to the confusion.
He realised, however, as Louis tapped his lips with his fingertip and dropped his eyelids closed, what he was being asked to do.
Harry took his time, firstly smiling in admiration at how louis Louis was being, if that made sense. He was being his cheeky self, straight after saying something so heartwarming and sincere. That’s what Harry adored about Louis: how he could change the situation from serious to jokey in less than a second. It was a trait that Harry would love to have, but then he also wouldn’t because the pair of them would wreak havoc. So finally, Harry pressed a simple kiss on Louis’ lips. There wasn’t any movement, no twisting or tilting. No, it was just a kiss on his lips. And that was what made it so much more perfect.
"Thanks, baby," Louis said as he settled back down on his feet again, smiling brightly. With that, he skipped off down the street, pulling a blushing Harry behind him.
After an afternoon strolling around the quaint, authentic markets, Louis and Harry made their way back to the hotel. The market was more than they could have imagined, so quintessentially Italian. There were carts and carts full of food which were incredible on the eye, and nose too. The colours all blended into one, browns and reds and oranges blurring like autumn leaves. The smells of spices and garlic all merged into glass walls around them, suffocatingly gorgeous.
Louis spent half of the time popping different samples of food in Harry’s mouth and gauging his reaction as to whether he should try it himself, earning a few slaps along the way when he gave Harry the odd spicy food.
Harry, being the growing boy he was, took a particular fancy to a certain bread and insisted that they buy it. Louis presumed that he would take it back to the hotel, maybe make some sandwiches with it later when he got peckish. But no, the curly haired boy pulled it out of its white paper bag and started munching on it straight away. Louis shot him an astounded look, but it went ignored as Harry chewed obscenely on a large bite of dough. Startlingly enough, it was rather unattractively attractive for Louis. The way that the bread was practically gluing Harry’s mouth together and splurging out from behind his teeth should have been revolting, not adorable. Sometimes, Louis wondered how Harry could do that, how it was even possible to make something so disgusting incredibly cute, but then he realised that he would never understand and it was just harry. So Louis just laughed, pulling Harry’s head down to his level with his arm wrapped around his neck, and kissed Harry’s temple affectionately.
So after picking up small souvenirs to add to the few they had picked up in Venice the day previous (in the end, Harry just had to buy Louis both of the masquerade masks because his ‘eyes, lou, your eyes’), the two bundled themselves into different clothing for their meal, not wanting to look scrappy when they were bound to add to their photo collection. Louis had thrown Harry the yellow polo which he had been dying to see that long torso in, and Harry threw a simple stripy t-shirt to Louis to shut Louis’ incessant whining up when he had noticed a massive slop on one of his shirts. The both looked pretty dapper; it had to be said, even though they weren’t wearing the most formal of clothing. They both had their aviator glasses on as they strolled through the streets, both secretly looking at the other through the blacked out lenses. They had chosen a quiet seafood restaurant which was on the coast, looking out to the sea and sand. As they sat opposite each other on the balcony of the restaurant, a warm breeze encompassed them. Passion fruit skies surrounded them, banana sun and apple-blossom clouds sinking into the sea.
It all felt so very intimate. The restaurant wasn’t busy, the odd family and couple spattered around the place, but it wasn’t that awkward sense of quiet either. It was very relaxed, no pressure. Harry was sat opposite Louis; Louis was sat opposite Harry. Just after ordering drinks, Louis forbade Harry to take off his glasses, pulling him in to take a snap of their grinning faces. He had taken too many photos already but he could not really care less. He wanted all the reminders he could get, and he was sure that Anne would want to see them too (if she wasn’t mad at Louis, that was). Once Harry had settled back in his seat, sunglasses hooked onto the collar of his shirt and chin resting on his hand, Louis had decided that 'yep, this one's a keeper', and pocketed his camera.
The candle in the middle of the table flickered with the wind, orange and white and yellow blowing from side to side. Harry almost wanted to grab it, let pain be the decider of whether everything was actually real. He did not need to do that, though, because he could feel Louis’ hand in his, all heavy and warm. It grounded him with reality. Although they had only a few days left, he couldn’t find it in himself to be sad. It was physically impossible to be doubtful or miserable anymore– or at least for the rest of the holiday. Maybe he had used up all of his misery the weekend prior, but Harry was close to being sure that it was just what being cared for felt like. He liked that feeling; he really did.
The food was delicious, scrumptious in fact. Harry gobbled it down like there was no tomorrow, moaning as he took certain bites of his meal because my god, this is the best thing i have ever tasted, lou, i swear i’ve got to learn how to make this for you. Louis just smiled through a mouthful of his pasta and tried to cover up his urge to just weep by taking a swig of his red wine, a large one at that.
Louis would have been concerned by the amount of sweet treats he had been eating if they weren’t so delectable, especially the one that he and Harry shared. It was so cliché of them to share dessert, but if they were being such romantics the whole holiday then why stop there? And, okay, maybe it was a little too much to let Harry spoon feed him but really, if he was going to combust because of the amount of sugary foods he had eaten, he may as well combust from how sweet they were being first.
They meandered back to the hotel, taking a detour by the beach to let the sand sink around their feet and the cold seawater bite at their toes. Both were fairly reminiscent of the beach trip they took with Anne and Gemma quite soon after the start of their relationship, both contemplating how much things had changed. It was a different type of change to just growing up, it was more than that and very hard to explain to anyone not involved. The two boys could feel the difference as they strolled by the water’s edge, could taste it on their tongues and feel it nipping at their ears.
Louis stopped them at one point. He stood still and kept Harry close to him, not out rightly touching each other but being there. It was awfully cheesy as they stood looking out at the sea, that classic time of contemplation and letting everything sink in looking terribly corny. Louis swivelled around so that his smaller frame was stood in front of Harry’s. He looked up at Harry, the dusty light dimming their eyes a little but keeping that warm, buzzing gleam.
As much as they had touched throughout the holiday, Louis was still cautious when it came to cuddles. In bed, asleep, Harry was unaware of what he was doing and waking up cuddling wasn’t as big a deal as Louis thought it would be. But when Harry was fully conscious, Louis was wary that he would push Harry that little bit too far. That would probably never change.
Tentatively, Louis slid his arms around Harry’s waist. Although Harry was pretty loose and relaxed, his stomach tensed along with his shoulders. Louis noticed the way his face dropped a smidgen, and he immediately wanted to iron out the blankness with a steam of happiness. He waited it out for a few seconds, keeping his arms still and staring up at Harry in anticipation. The tension on Harry’s face was softening by the second, slowly but surely. Finally, Louis muttered a quiet, “You okay?” to Harry and earned a gentle nod from the curly haired boy. Sighing lightly, Louis tucked himself into Harry’s chest. Long arms pulled him in closer, wrapping around him like the string on a yoyo. His face was encased in a bubble of warmth from the softness of Harry’s chest cushioning his cheeks. He could smell that harry smell, the one particular to him and only him. The one which made Louis’ head turn light and cottony. The one which Louis would breathe in forever if he could. His boyfriend’s smell.
They stood like that for a while, a long while in fact. Louis could not bring himself to enter the air of not-harry, and Harry could not bring himself to lose the little ball of louis in his arms which made his heart pound ten to the dozen. It was such a simple action, such a simple thing to do, cuddling that is. But it felt so perfect and it felt so right. Harry could have squeezed tighter, could have squeezed all the louis out of his boyfriend so that he could bottle it up and keep it close to him all the time. He could have run his hands up and down Louis’ back, nuzzled his nose in the soft feathers of his hair. But he didn’t because a simple hug seemed to fill his heart with more joy than anything else could. The multicoloured joy was teetering on the edge of spilling over the lid of his heart; who knew where it would end up if it did dribble over, most probably out of his eyes as trickling tears.
After a while, they entered into a lovely bubble of them. It seemed like there was a wall around them, protecting them from the outside world. It was keeping all the bad things out. All the Zayn’s out. All the Niall’s and the Liam’s. All the Anne’s who weren’t best pleased. All the Gemma’s who thought they had to be cautious. All the students who ignored the mute boy. All the homophobes who spat at the gay dancer. All the people who thought that their relationship was wrong. All the ones who didn’t understand.
Because together, they were invincible. They were indestructible.
Life was a tricky task for everyone, an advanced sheet of notes with complex varieties of pitches and paces. Life was like a mash up of different piano pieces: happy ones, sad ones, loud and quiet. You could never be sure as to which piece you would be handed, which stave of notes that would float from your fingertips that day. The piano keys of ebony and ivory were the contrasts of life. The ebony keys were representatives of the darkened days of life, the ivory being the happy days. The black keys were supposed to be used in the minority, but for some composers of life, they weren’t. For Harry, they weren’t.
But somehow, Louis found him. Louis found him with his blue eyes and ivory fingertips. He was there to ease Harry’s fingers from the darkness and let them lie with his in the light. They balanced each other out, just right. They understood that life was more than just black and white, ebony and ivory. Life was more than the thousands of notes to be heard.
Playing a perfect piece wasn’t necessary for Louis and Harry.
They didn’t need perfection; no, they only needed each other.
That’s it. It’s over. Finished.
I just. I can’t even. I don’t really know what to do with myself, I feel empty! It’s so weird, like, I started Mute in March or something and it’s finally over. It feels so odd right now, I can’t even explain.
I want to say thank you to every single person who has read Mute, it means so so much to me that you have even taken the time to read it, let alone stick with it. I know that I’ve been kinda shit with updating and stuff so that you for staying with the story through the long waits and stuff, that itself means a lot too. The response it has gotten is phenomenal, totally astonishing. I’m honestly still astounded by it and I doubt I’ll ever get over it. And thank you for all the messages I have gotten, those brighten up my day. Just thank you, all of you.
On the sequel front, that is still undecided. I’m going to decide after November because I still can’t work out whether it is a good idea or not. I’m taking a break from writing fanfictions during November because I’m taking part in NaNoWriMo, where I’ll be writing my own story with my own characters. I’ll probably post that after it is finished and edited, around the time that I will start the sequel if I decide on it. So please don’t abandon the story totally, check back during November to see if I’ve had any thoughts. At the moment, the thought of leaving the story is seems wrong. But we’ll see; just sit tight!
The epilogue wasn’t meant to be anything too ground breaking, so I hope you weren’t expecting anything like that. I just wanted to finish it on a fluffy front, nothing huge or major, just a simple ending. I really hope that you liked it, I hope you were not disappointed with it. It’s 10,200+ words which was a surprise, hopefully it didn’t drag too much. Thank you so so much for reading, and for the last time with Mute, feedback appreciated as per usual xx
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