In the week that follows Harry's return from the Quidditch World Cup, Liam manages not to say a single word to him. Even when they're working side by side at the market. Liam doesn't even look at Harry if he can help it, and when the girl pops by the market - he found out her name's Louis through the village grapevine - Liam avoids both of them at all costs.
He doesn't want to know anything about her, is the thing. He overhears bits and pieces of information about her because everyone in Rosemoor is a terrible gossip, but he tries to block it out as best he can. He has no interest in getting to know her, nor does he want to hear anything about her and Harry. All he wants is to keep to himself as best he can.
There's only one form of social interaction that he can't avoid (other than the small talk he makes with the market customers), and that's going to Nick's cottage for his Wolfsbane Potion.
As he makes his way there with only two days left until the full moon, he goes over the plan in his head he's made up in order to avoid staying for longer than he needs to. Even though he's seen Nick every day this week since Harry came back and she hasn't asked after him, he's afraid today might be the day.
There's nothing to tell, Liam thinks to himself. It's mostly true, if he doesn't think about it too hard. Harry ignored him first so it's only fair that Liam's the one doing it now. And it's not like Harry's tried talking to him so really, what does it even matter?
Liam's still grappling with the concept as he climbs the steps up to Nick's front door, and just when he thinks he's got a handle on himself, the door opens and everything he thought he knew comes crashing down around his feet. Because there, standing in Nick's doorway, is Louis.
"Yeah?" she says in an expectant tone.
"I'm--" Liam gulps. "Sorry, uhh, is Nick here?"
"She's…" Louis clicks her tongue. "She's a bit busy. Could you come back later?"
"I…" Liam stares at her in confusion, his mind trying to process what he's seeing and what she's saying. He just doesn't understand.
Liam's about to try and ask after Nick again when he hears running footsteps and suddenly Nick appears at Louis' side, jostling her out of the way to welcome Liam inside.
"I told you not to answer the door," she whispers harshly to Louis as she tugs Liam's arm, "c'mon, now, don't be silly, c'mon--"
"Could've sworn you said "answer the door," not the other way 'round," Louis replies dryly as she follows the two of them into the kitchen.
"You still hear only what you want to," Nick mutters, glaring at Louis as the three of them situate themselves around Nick's kitchen table. Liam sneaks a look at Louis' face only to see her beaming widely.
"I've heard a lot of things recently," she says smugly. She opens her mouth, presumably to elaborate, but Nick reaches over to clap her hand over Louis' mouth and turns to Liam with extremely pink cheeks.
"You're here for your potion, yeah?" she asks, her voice slightly higher-pitched than normal. Liam nods and Nick breathes a sigh of relief. She carefully takes her hand off of Louis' mouth and gives her a pointed look, as if to say don't try anything funny.
Louis smiles sweetly, fluttering her eyelashes at Nick as she walks out of the kitchen and leaves the two of them alone. Liam immediately darts his eyes down to the table when Louis turns her attention away from where Nick went and to Liam instead. He feels her eyes practically burning holes through his skin but he doesn't dare move.
"So." Louis hums. "What's your name?"
"Liam," he answers quietly.
"Liam," she repeats. She says it again, repeating it like she's trying to savor the word on the tip of her tongue. "Funny name, innit?"
"You don't talk much, do you?"
Liam shrugs again.
"Haven't I seen you around, Liam No-Last-Name?"
Liam swallows and hopes that his cheeks aren't turning red. "Dunno."
"C'mon, give us a hint, would you?" Louis leans forward, her nails clicking against the table as her fingers dance across its surface towards him. "It's no fun, otherwise."
"I'm not a game," he says crossly.
"I didn't say you were," Louis replies. "But it's nice to know that you can actually talk."
"Of course I can talk," Liam says with a frown. "I'm not an idiot."
"I didn't say you were," Louis says again with a roll of her eyes. "You're very negative, d'you know that?"
"I am not."
"But you are! There you go again. It's all "I'm not" this and "I'm not" that." Louis shakes her head. "Bit sad, really."
"You don't even know me," Liam says. He's starting to get a bit angry now. "You can't just--"
"I'd know you if you told me about yourself," Louis cuts in.
"Maybe I don't want to!"
"Because I don't want to know you!" Liam shouts, finally turning his head to look at Louis. She stares back at him, obviously stunned by his outburst.
"I…" Louis doesn't get a chance to reply before Nick's bustling back into the kitchen, obviously having heard Liam's outburst.
"What's going on?" She turns to Louis. "What did you do?"
"Me?" Louis says, outraged. "He's the one shouting at me!"
"You don't have the best history with this sort of thing," Nick replies. "If there's trouble, you're usually the one causing it."
"I said I was sorry!" Louis shouts. "What, banishment wasn't enough for you?! How many times will I have to apologize??"
"I'm sorry," Liam interrupts. "Look, I didn't mean to…" He looks helplessly back and forth between the two of them. "I'll just take my potion and go--"
"No," Louis says in a scathing tone, rounding on Liam and pointing a shaky finger at him. "No, you're going to stand there and tell me how I've managed to offend you even though I've never bloody met you before! And you!" She points at Nick. "You're going to stand there and listen and find out that I'm not the one who started this!"
"Fine!" Nick shouts.
"Fine!" Louis shouts back. She crosses her arms and turns to Liam, giving him an expectant look. He swallows harshly, taking a chance to look at Nick for some sort of reprieve and finding none at all.
"I'm sorry," he mumbles. "You're right, Louis, I was being…" Liam sighs. "You haven't done anything, I'm just having a shit week and I took it out on you."
"See?" Louis waves her hands around. "Told you I didn't do anything."
"Liam," Nick says in a gentle, sympathetic tone, completely ignoring Louis. "What's wrong?"
"It's nothing," Liam mutters. "Can I have my potion now?"
"Is it Harry?" Nick whispers, as though Louis isn't standing right there with them and can obviously hear her.
"Harry?" Louis says. Liam hangs his head and winces. He wishes he could just melt into the floor and this whole thing would be over. "What's Harry got to do with it?"
"Nothing," Liam mumbles. "It's nothing, really, I just--"
"Wait." Louis is silent for a moment. "You're Liam."
Liam blinks. "Yeah?"
"No, I mean, you're Liam! Harry's Liam!" Louis laughs. "You're the bloke he wouldn't stop moaning about all through the World Cup!"
If Liam's cheeks weren't red before, they certainly are now.
"What?" Nick asks with a laugh. "You didn't tell me that."
"Had more important things to say to you," Louis mumbles. "Anyway, I didn't know you knew Liam, did I?"
"He…" Liam's having trouble gathering his thoughts; it's all just a blur of Harry, Harry, Harry. "He talked about me?"
Louis laughs again. "He wouldn't shut up about you! Going on and on about how he messed things up, how he scared you off by asking you to come to the match with him, and--"
"He did?" Liam interrupts. His heart's pounding, he feels like he can't catch his breath. God, he's been such an idiot.
"He was a miserable sod, I can tell you that." Louis shakes her head. "Had to get him drunk on Firewhisky just to shut him up."
"I'm sorry, I have to…" Liam stumbles back, momentarily forgetting how to use his own two legs. "I have to go. I have to--"
"Liam!" Nick calls after him. "Liam, your potion!"
"I'll come back for it!" Liam shouts over his shoulder as he takes off for the front door at a run, wrenching it open and slamming it shut behind him.
His heart is still racing as he sprints the entire way back into town, heading straight for the market. Harry's supposed to be there, he thinks. Truth be told his mind is so scattered at the moment he can't be sure, but he's not going to take the chance of missing him.
He bursts through the door and spots Bernard, but there's no sign of Harry. He nearly collapses at Bernard's feet, clinging to the man as he fights to get the words out between deep breaths.
"Where's… Harry… ?"
"Please!" Liam pants. "I… need… to--"
"He went home, half an hour ago!" Bernard struggles under Liam's weight. "What's going--"
Liam tears away from Bernard and only just misses colliding with another person as he races towards the doors and takes off again, this time for Harry's house. He doesn't care about the whispers and rumors that are sure to start up in no time at all, he just wants to see Harry.
"Harry!" he shouts the moment he sets one foot on Harry's property. He shouts it again and again as he runs up to the door and starts pounding on it. It's a wonder he can manage to breathe let alone keep shouting, but he pushes through until the door suddenly opens and he falls forward.
"Liam?!" Harry exclaims as Liam hits the floor with a groan. "What-- Are you alright??"
"Fine," Liam grunts, wincing as he rolls onto his back and tries to catch his breath. "Harry--"
"Why were you shouting?" Harry crouches down next to him. "Is everything okay? Did something--"
Liam tugs him down and their mouths crash together in a painful, slightly awkward kiss. It's not exactly what Liam had expected for their first, but after a few seconds and a little rearranging of limbs and lips, it gets a lot better.
"Liam," Harry whispers when he pulls away a little while later. "What's…"
"I'm sorry," Liam says. "I'm sorry I didn't go to the World Cup with you. I wanted to, I really did, but--"
"It's okay," Harry replies with a soft laugh. "I'm sorry I stopped talking to you. It just… I liked you so much and I thought I'd--"
"You didn't," Liam interrupts. "Can we… can we start over?" A smile spreads across Harry's face and Liam smiles too. "Go out on a proper date?"
"Yeah?" Harry's smile gets even brighter. "Yeah, please. I'd love that."
"Me too." Liam laughs and tugs Harry down for another kiss.
It's late by the time Liam ambles next door to his own house to go to bed. He falls onto his mattress with a grin on his face and falls asleep within seconds, not a care in the world.
And certainly not remembering that he missed his dosage of Wolfsbane Potion.
Liam's good mood carries over into the next morning. He wakes up later than he usually does with a smile still on his face and when he opens his curtains, Harry's back in his garden wearing those ridiculously tiny shorts. He has every intention of going outside and saying hello, given that he doesn't have to be at the market for his shift for a few hours yet, when someone starts pounding on his front door.
He finds Nick standing on his doorstep with an angry look on her face and she barges into his house before he can even blurt out good morning.
"Well, I'm glad to see you're still alive!" Nick shouts at him after he's closed the door.
"What're you talking about?" Liam asks. "Of course I'm still alive?"
"How was I to know?!" Nick shouts again. "You ran off yesterday and never came back!"
The gravity of the situation he's found himself in dawns on Liam and his eyes go wide.
"Exactly," Nick says with a huff as she crosses her arms. "Don't you remember what I told you about this potion? It only works--"
"If you don't miss a single dose," Liam finishes in a low mutter. "I remember."
"We've got to get you out of Rosemoor," Nick says, apparently already having come up with a plan. "Just until the full moon is over, and next month--"
"I can't go," Liam interrupts.
"I can't go. I promised Harry--"
"I'm sorry, what?" Nick blinks. "What do you mean, you promised Harry?"
"We've got a date," Liam explains. "For tomorrow night."
"You're joking." Nick stares at him and Liam doesn't give an inch. "Please tell me you're joking."
"You have to be!" Nick laughs loudly. "Have you forgotten that you're a fucking werewolf? And that tomorrow night is the full moon?"
"I know what I am--"
"Do you? Do you really?" Nick shakes her head. "I know it's been a few years now, but Liam, you've never actually been a werewolf, have you?"
"What do you mean, of course I have!"
"Not without taking the potion!" Nick wrings her hands and sighs heavily. "You've always had it on your side to help keep you calm. Now there's… there's just no telling what you might do."
"I'll be fine," Liam says, trying to sound firm even as his own resolve is crumbling into bits. "I can control myself, I can--"
"You can't," Nick tells him sadly. "You might think so, but you can't. You'll be a wild animal, Liam, there's no controlling that."
"I won't hurt anyone," Liam says firmly. "I won't. I can't."
"You can't," Nick says softly. She takes a step forward and lays her hand on Liam's chest. "But there's something inside you that you can't control, and you know it."
Liam hangs his head. "I can't just leave," he says softly. "I can't do that to Harry."
"You're not going away forever," she says, "just for a few days."
"Just…" Liam sighs. "Can't it wait one more day? The full moon isn't until tomorrow, I won't change til then, will I?"
"Please," he begs. "Please, Nick. Let me just have this one night with Harry, and then I'll do whatever you say."
Nick sighs loudly. "Liam, I'm not asking you to leave Rosemoor forever, remember? Just until the full moon's passed."
"You know it's for the best," Nick interrupts. "Harry will understand."
"How?!" Liam snaps. "How will he understand when I can't even tell him why I have to leave?!"
Nick frowns sympathetically but doesn't budge, not one tiny bit. Liam knows he's not going to win this argument, but the knowledge doesn't make the situation any better. He still has to figure out a believable story to tell Harry that won't ruin everything they just created.
"It'll be alright," Nick says softly. "You'll see."
Liam hangs his head to avoid looking Nick in the eye. "I have to go to work."
"I'll come to yours straight after," he says, ignoring Nick's interruption. "I promise."
"Okay," Nick says after a moment of silence. "It's going to be alright," she says, as a last resort.
Liam doesn't answer. Nick leaves shortly afterwards, giving Liam one last look over her shoulder before she goes. Liam goes about his morning routine entirely on auto-pilot, all the while trying to come up with something to tell Harry.
There's nothing he wants more in this world than to have this night with Harry, and he can't. He's worried that by cancelling on him, he'll set off a similar chain reaction as he did when he turned down the invitation to go to the Quidditch World Cup, and he really doesn't want that to happen.
But how can he possibly explain his reasoning without telling Harry he's a werewolf?
In the end, he goes with the only lie that he can muster up.
"I have to go see my mum," he says, looking away from Harry's face so he doesn't have to see it fall. "Right after my shift's over at the market."
"Oh," Harry says. "For… for how long?"
"A few days," Liam replies.
"Is… is she alright, or…?"
Liam winces. "She's fine, she just… y'know, misses me."
"Oh." Liam watches Harry nod out of the corner of his eye. "I see."
"I tried to tell her I'd come next week, but you know how mums are." Liam groans inwardly; he's such a terrible liar. "She wasn't having it."
"No, I know," Harry mumbles sadly. "I just… 'm being selfish, is all."
"I do want to go out with you," Liam says in earnest. "I'm not, like, trying to get out of it, or anything."
"Yeah?" Harry chuckles softly. "That's good to hear."
"Promise," Liam replies. "The minute I get back, I promise we'll go out."
"The minute?" Harry repeats, and when Liam looks over at him he sees a grin forming on Harry's face. "Maybe I'll just camp out on your doorstep til you come back, then."
Liam flushes. Harry's grin grows larger and he takes a step closer to Liam, still smiling as he leans forward to brush their lips together. Liam grunts softly, pulling away far quicker than he'd like to.
"I've got to get to work," he says softly.
"Just one more," Harry pleads, pressing his mouth against Liam's in another kiss.
Liam ends up being a few minutes late for his shift, but it's lucky that Bernard isn't there to witness his tardiness so he doesn't get in trouble.
He rides the high of Harry's reaction (and the snogging that followed) through the fires few hours of his shift, but the closer it gets to quitting time (and as the sun starts to set) panic slowly starts to set in.
Nick didn't tell him what plan she has in store for the two of them. Is there some sort of werewolf doomsday contingency plan that he doesn't know about? Does she have some sort of cage set up in her cellar that she's going to lock him in for the night, or will she Apparate them somewhere remote where he can shift without the possibility of hurting anyone? Will Nick even be safe around him?
All of these thoughts and more won't stop circling his mind once they start, making it increasingly difficult for Liam to concentrate on what he's doing at work. His cheerful demeanor has all but vanished by the time he leaves, and the sky is already fading from pinks and oranges into the blues and greys of nightfall.
Even though he promised Nick he'd go straight to hers after work, Liam decides to make one quick stop at home to pick up a few things. He's not entirely sure what he's going to bring, but at the very least he supposes a change of clothes or two would probably be a good idea.
What he doesn't expect is a distraction in the form of Harry sitting on his doorstep.
"Told you I'd wait for you," Harry replies with a cheeky smile.
"What're you doing?" Liam asks fondly, shaking his head as the warm, giddy feeling suddenly floods through his body again.
"Just wanted to see you off, is all." Harry nods towards Liam's house. "Need a hand with packing?"
"Harry, you don't--"
Liam freezes suddenly as a shiver suddenly spreads down his spine. The warmth he felt seconds ago is gone, replaced by a dull throb that resonates right down to his bones. Liam winces and sucks in a sharp breath as his body shudders violently and without any warning. His knees buckle and he tips forward, coming down hard on his hands as Harry rushes forward to try and break his fall.
"Liam?" Harry says in a worried tone. "Liam, what's--"
Liam opens his mouth to reply, to try and tell Harry that he's fine, but all that comes out is a cry of pain. His body feels like it's being torn in two; the pain is unlike anything he's ever felt before. Through the haze in his mind, Liam just barely manages to realize what's going on: he's shifting.
"Harry…" he gasps. "Harry, go."
"What? No, I'm not--" Harry tries to pull Liam to his feet. "I'm not leaving you, you need help, Liam! I'm--"
"Go!" Liam shouts, the word turning into another scream of agony. His bones feel like they're about to break through his skin; he can feel his nails growing longer and his teeth becoming fangs.
He wrenches himself free from Harry's hands but doesn't get nearly as far as he wants to before he's collapsed on the sidewalk again. The sound of Harry's voice echoes in his ears but Liam can't answer his cries. He's not himself anymore.
Liam wakes up flat on his back under a canopy of trees. His eyes hurt from the sunlight when he opens them, and his arms ache when he tries to move them to shield his face. As he regains full mobility in all of his limbs, he realizes two things: one: he's in the middle of woods he's never seen before, and two: he's naked.
He curses under his breath as he gets to his feet, trying to stretch while covering himself, and glances around in the hopes he'll get his bearings.
It doesn't take long for Liam to feel a bit hopeless about figuring out where he is. He could be anywhere. He might be miles away from Rosemoor.
"Harry," he croaks as the crushing weight of his memory suddenly hits him. He shifted in front of him. What if he hurt him? What if he did worse than hurt him?
Liam closes his eyes and shakes the thought out of his head. He glances down at himself and is relieved to see no blood, just streaks of dirt and a few scratches.
Resigning himself to the fact that he'll never get home unless he tries, Liam picks a direction at random and starts walking. He winces with every step, partially from his sore muscles but mostly from having to walk through brambles and brush on bare feet. He pushes through the pain and continues walking, hoping against hope that he's going the right way.
Eventually he makes his way out of the thick of the forest and finds himself along the shoreline. He continues walking along the beach, keeping close to the edge of the water to let the waves crash over his aching feet.
He finds an old beach towel halfway buried beneath the sand and wraps it around himself, figuring it's better to be covered by that than with his own two hands. Even if he's starting to lose hope of ever running into another person, at least now he won't be embarrassed if he does manage to find someone out here.
After another hour or so of walking, Liam takes a break and sits down on the wet sand, just out of reach of the tide. He concentrates on his breathing so as to not send himself into a panic, but it doesn't help the sinking feeling in his stomach that comes from thinking just how badly he's screwed up his life.
If he ever makes it back to Rosemoor, he's going to move away. He'll go live in the woods, or something, far away from both the Muggle and Wizarding populations. He's a threat to everyone he meets and he just couldnt' live with himself if he hurt someone.
Liam rests his head against his knees and draws another breath but it comes out shaky as he fights the urge to cry. All he wanted was a proper date with Harry, and now here he was lost on some beach he didn't recognize one bit, not knowing whether Harry was alright. What a fine mess he'd gotten himself into.
"Are you crying?"
Liam whips around at the sound of the voice, and finds two twin girls standing behind him.
"No," he answers as he quickly wipes at his eyes.
"Why are you all dirty?" One of the twins tilts her head as she looks at him. "Did you get into a fight?"
"No," Liam says again. Before he can explain, the twin who first spoke speaks again.
"Why're you out here all alone?"
"And why are you just wearing a towel?"
"Did someone steal your clothes?"
"Why were you crying?"
"I wasn't crying!" Liam half-shouts. Both of the girls fall silent and Liam frowns. "Sorry, I didn't mean to shout at you."
The girls sit down on either side of Liam, clearly unbothered about getting their clothes wet, and stare up at him.
"Are you lost?"
"What's your name?"
"Umm," Liam says, "yes, and I'm Liam."
"I'm Daisy," the twin on his right says.
"I'm Phoebe," the twin on his left says.
"Nice to meet you both," Liam says, twisting around on a constant loop to look at each of them. "Can you tell me where I am?"
"You're on the beach," Phoebe says.
"Our beach," Daisy adds.
"Your beach?" Liam asks. "This is your beach?"
"Well," Phoebe says, "sort of."
"It is," Daisy says, leaning forward to look past Liam. "Mum said so."
"Mum doesn't own the beach," Phoebe says matter-of-factly as she leans forward to look at her twin.
"But we're the only ones who come here," Daisy argues.
"Liam comes here," Phoebe replies. "Don't you, Liam?"
"Umm… I'm here now, aren't I?"
"See?" Phoebe sticks out her tongue.
"How'd you find our beach?" Daisy asks.
"Dunno," Liam answers honestly. "Just… sort of stumbled onto it."
"Do you live around here?" Phoebe asks.
"Dunno," Liam repeats. "Dunno where here is."
"Do you want to come to our house?" Daisy asks.
"Wouldn't your mum mind?" Liam furrows his eyebrows. "Bringing home a strange man you met at the beach."
"We bring home stuff from the beach all the time," Daisy reasons.
"Maybe you can live with us and be our brother," Phoebe says brightly. "We don't have one of those!"
Liam laughs. "Maybe."
"So you'll come?" Daisy asks, excitement evident in her voice. Liam looks at her, and then at Phoebe, whose face echoes the same sentiment.
The twins both squeal in delight and rush to their feet, tugging Liam up before they start dragging him up the beach and away from the water. They chatter incessantly as they lead him presumably to their house, and Liam can't help but wonder what sort of reaction the three of them are going to get from their mum.
He can't imagine it's going to be a good one. He's fairly certain his own mum would have a heart attack.
The twins lead him to a set of steps leading up a hill, growing steadily steeper the higher they go. Once they reach the top, the twins lead him through a field and then through another patch of trees, and finally they come upon a garden.
Liam grows a bit nervous when a house comes into view, and he hitches the towel higher up and tighter around his hips. The last thing he wants to do is accidentally flash the twins or their mum.
They're still chattering away as they lead the way through the garden, and Liam's trying his best to keep up with the conversation, but it comes to an abrupt halt when suddenly the back door is thrown open and a voice shouts the twins' names.
Liam looks up at the door and his jaw goes slack. It's Louis.
She obviously doesn't notice him at first, too busy chastising the twins for disappearing for so long, but when she does she gets the same look of astonishment that Liam's sure is reflected on his own face.
"Louis, I--" Before Liam can get the words out, Louis throws herself into Liam's arms and hugs him tightly.
"Where the fuck have you been?!" she demands.
"How d'you know Liam?" Daisy demands.
"We found him on the beach!" Phoebe explains.
"Girls, go inside, Mum's waiting," Louis says in a sharp tone. Both of the twins roll their eyes and sigh heavily, but comply with Louis' request.
"What've you got to say for yourself?" Louis asks once she and Liam are alone in the garden.
"I'm sorry?" Liam offers.
"You're sorry?" Louis scoffs. "You've been missing for three days and all you can say is you're sorry?"
"Hang on," Liam blinks, "three days? I've been gone three days?"
"Merlin's beard," Louis mutters under her breath, "you're delirious and filthy." She huffs. "C'mon, let's get you home."
Louis doesn't wait for Liam to agree. She grabs his arm and within seconds, they're in Liam's living room. He stumbles a little as he tries to take a step away from Louis, muttering under his breath that he'll never be used to Apparating.
"Get yourself cleaned up," Louis tells him. "I'll tell Nick you're back. She's been going mad, y'know."
"Louis--" Liam starts, but she's disappeared again before he can ask after Harry. He spares a glance out the window facing Harry's house and wonders if he's home. Just as he's finished telling himself that it's a terrible idea to go over to Harry's house in the state he's in, Nick and Louis suddenly appear in his living room.
"Liam!" Nick shouts, throwing herself around him much in the same fashion that Louis had earlier.
"I'm alright," he tells her, hugging her back with one arm as he uses the other to keep a hold of his towel. "Nick, I'm alright."
"You never showed up at mine, and then Harry--" Nick cuts off with a loud sob, trying to compose herself. "You were gone!!"
"Is Harry alright?" Liam asks desperately. "Where is he? Did I hurt him?"
"I'd say so," Louis mutters gruffly.
"Louis," Nick reprimands as Liam's face falls.
"Harry's fine," Nick tells him. "All in one piece, no damage done."
"But…" Liam starts hyperventilating. "But I shifted in front of him… I could've-- he could've been--"
"You didn't, Liam," Nick says, trying to calm him down. "Liam, it's alright, everything's fine."
"Why did it happen?" Liam demands, his voice turning hysterical. "The full moon wasn't for another night! Why was it early?"
Louis snorts. "If you were a girl, you wouldn't be so surprised."
"Louis," Nick says sharply, "now's not the fucking time."
"I'm just saying," Louis replies.
"Go get Harry," Nick looks at Louis over her shoulder, "you know he's been going mad over Liam too."
Louis Disapparates before she finishes rolling her eyes at the pair of them. It's only in her absence that Liam realizes that she didn't even blink an eye at the mention of his shifting.
"Louis… knows? About me?"
Nick chuckles softly. "Bit hard for her not to, what with the state Harry was in." She smiles sympathetically. "He was a wreck after you ran off. Thought it was all his fault."
"He-- It wasn't--"
"Calm down, Liam," Nick says as she pats his shoulder. "I know that, and so does Harry. You scared him, is all."
"I didn't mean to," Liam says miserably. "You warned me about this, and I didn't listen. This is all my fault."
"I'm leaving Rosemoor," Liam interrupts. "I can't stay here, I've caused too much damage already.
"Liam, you can't--"
"I've made up my mind," Liam says firmly. "It's the right thing to do. For everyone."
"You sure about that?" Nick asks. "What about Harry?"
"I don't want to hurt him. And if I stayed, I'd end up hurting him one way or another." Liam shakes his head. "It's best if I just go."
Liam looks up to see that Louis has returned with Harry in tow. He didn't even notice them Apparating into the room, he has no idea how much Harry's overheard.
"You disappeared for three days," Harry says, his voice shaking slightly. "And now that you're back, you're leaving again?"
"I have to," Liam says firmly, even as his voice gets thick. "It's what's best."
"What happened to 'the minute I get back, I promise we'll go out'? You promised, Liam."
"Harry, I…" Liam sighs heavily and sniffs, trying not to cry. "You don't want me. I'm dangerous, I could hurt you."
"You will if you leave," Harry says, his eyes red with tears. "You could've hurt me three days ago, but you didn't."
"But I could've," Liam says, "I'm not normal, Harry, I can't control this… this… thing."
"Wolf," Harry supplies. "You're a werewolf, Liam."
"Exactly!" Liam sighs. "You don't want me, Harry. I'm a bloody werewolf."
"Were you a werewolf when we met?" Harry asks.
Liam hesitates for a moment before answering. "Yeah…"
"So you've known about this the whole time?"
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"I didn't tell anyone!" Liam shouts. "This isn't something I want people to know!"
"But now I do!" Harry shouts back, stepping closer to Liam. "And it doesn't change anything for me!"
"Well, it should!"
"Because I could hurt you!"
"You won't!" Harry shouts. Liam tries to turn away, but Harry takes his face in his hands and holds him firmly in place. "Listen to me, Liam. You could've hurt me that night. I watched as you turned into something I'd never seen before in my life, but--"
Liam tries to get away but Harry doesn't let go.
"But… you ran. You took one look at me and you just… ran. It was like you knew exactly who I was even when you were the wolf, and you knew you had to get away."
"I don't want to hurt you," Liam whispers.
"I know," Harry whispers back. "You won't."
"But--" Harry kisses him and Liam whimpers.
"You won't," Harry repeats. "Don't leave me."
Liam wraps his arms around Harry and they hold tightly to one another, both of them shaking in each other's arms. Liam glances over Harry's shoulder at Nick and Louis, who look back at him with matching hopeful expressions. He closes his eyes and buries his head against Harry's neck, breathing in his scent.
He's scared, he's downright terrified. He doesn't know if he'll ever fully shake the fear of hurting Harry, but there's a part of him that knows if he left he'd always regret it. He doesn't want to lose Harry.
"Okay," he says softly. Harry pulls back in his arms and his eyes are shiny with tears.
"I'm not leaving," Liam says.
"Good." Harry gives a watery laugh and presses their foreheads together.
"You sure you're not… scared?" Liam swallows harshly. "Of me?"
"You're not going to hurt me," Harry whispers. "It'll be alright, Liam."
Liam closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, letting it out slowly. He wants so badly to believe Harry. He wants to promise that nothing like this will ever happen again. He doesn't know if he can, but he knows one thing for sure: he'll do everything in his power to try.