"So Liam, tell me, what's your biggest pet peeve? The thing that annoys you the most?" the interviewer directs towards Liam, a small smile playing on his lips.
They've been in this interview for what feels like ages and whilst Harry loves interacting with their fan base and putting content out there for people to see, he was also up for the majority of last night, unable to sleep whilst Louis had been in a different hotel room with Zayn. According to management it would look too suspicious for him and Louis to share a room again so they'd been separated again with Louis joining his best mate. Honestly all Harry wants to do is cuddle with Louis in the car and get a nap in before the concert starts later tonight.
"Ooh, good question, I was actually thinking about this the other day but I'm going to have to say Harry. Every time one of us has a plate of food he'll eat it anyways, he's like 'your food is now also my food'" Liam laughs, not unkindly. Louis quickly presses his fist to Harry's thigh and softly taps his thumb against his thigh to let him know that he's there and he loves him.
"Oh my god, he's the most annoying person in the world!" Niall adds with a big sigh. "When it comes to food..."he adds after seeing the look on his fellow band mates face.
"Can I have a chip?" Zayn mimics in Harry's voice, a smile on his face showing he's not actually annoyed by the whole ordeal.
But Harry hadn't realized that he's done this before, he hadn't realized that he did it so often that it was actually annoying the boys, and he hadn't realized that he was eating so much food. So that night, when he was in yet another hotel room by himself, he found himself digging around on twitter again looking for more comments about his weight and appearance and he wasn't surprised to find plenty of people saying how he was the biggest in the group, and how his stomach was very 'pouchy'. There was even a long thread of photos of Harry topless where you could see the extra layer of fat surrounding his tummy and hips, and even his love handles.
Harry actually felt sick to the stomach looking at these photos of himself, he hadn't noticed that things had gotten this bad. He didn't understand why no-one had pointed it out before, why Louis hadn't told him that he needed to stop eating.
He needed to stop eating.
That was it. All Harry had to do was cut down on how much he ate and then he'd be skinny just like Niall and Zayn and Liam and Louis. And everyone loved them so then everyone would love him. Hopefully.
When morning arose Harry quickly got himself dressed in a long sleeved t-shirt and some black skinny jeans, packed up his belongings into his bag and headed downstairs to meet the boys in the cafe before they were scheduled in for another interview.
All Harry had to do was put on a smile and not eat as much, and definitely no eating the other boy's food either, that was a big no no. He saw Louis talking animatedly to the rest of the lads and realized he was the last person to join them. Oops.
"Hi, Hazza! We were just waiting for you before we ordered some food. What did you want babes?" Louis asked happily, pulling Harry down by his arm so he could sit in the chair next to him.
Nothing. Harry doesn't want to eat anything, but he can't exactly straight up say that because then they'd be suspicious. Quick Harry, just make something up.
"Oh, uhm, I-er, already ate in the room, yeah I got room service. Sorry." he says, eyes glued to his fingers which he's playing with, hoping that they'll believe it.
"Love, you never get room service by yourself, what's up?" Louis whispers, turning his body fully towards Harry and effectively blocking off the the rest of the boys from the conversation.
"I was just, uh, running late and thought it, uh, would've been easier. Sorry again" he mutters. "I missed you last night, can we sleep together today? I can't sleep without you." He confesses in a whisper, telling the truth but also trying to change the subject.
"Of course baby, I'll have a few words with Paul about letting us switch again, okay?" he says, pulling Harry in for a quick hug and pressing a kiss to his neck, receiving three "ew, get a room lovebirds" from the other boys and a soft smile from Harry, his lies forgotten.
The interview goes by quickly, and soon Harry finds himself on the bus again, travelling to a new city, and lunch time approaching them. And Harry's panicking, because he doesn't have an excuse this time, Louis' been with him all day so he can't say he's already eaten again. He doesn't know what to do.
"Haz?" Louis calls from the front of the bus. "What'd you want for lunch babe?"
Shit. Harry needed to think fast so he pulls himself off from the sofa he was sat on and walks up to Louis.
"Uhm, I'm not really that hungry, I ate quite a lot for breakfast." He says as he comes up behind Louis and wraps his arms around him, his head resting on Louis' shoulder.
Louis turns around and places his hands on Harry's hips looking him in the eye.
"Baby, that was nine hours ago, you ate that at 5am and now it's 2pm. I know you and I know you'd eat food all day if that were a possibility." he says with a laugh and a fond smile on his lips. "So what do you actually want for lunch, theirs a couple of sandwiches in the fridge if you want one. The chicken ones you like?"
Nonono. Harry really can't eat a sandwich right now. He thinks back to those pictures he saw last night and how large he looked in them and then he looks down at Louis' stomach and how perfectly flat it is. He cannot eat that sandwich if he wants to have a flat tummy too.
"Yeah, but I ate a wrap after that interview was done earlier, whilst you were speaking with Paul. So really I've already eaten lunch, sorry. You can have the sandwiches though." Harry lies. It makes him feel awfully guilty, lying to the one person whom he trusts the most, but at then end of the day its for a good reason, so the guilt soon wears off.
Louis shrugs and takes the sandwich from the fridge before grabbing his boyfriends hand and leading him into the main room where the other band members are sat. He sits down on one end of the sofa and pats his lap for Harry to sit down on him. But now Harry's aware of how much weight he's been putting on, he doesn't want to sit on his lap for fear of squashing him. So instead he sits down on the floor by Louis and just rests his head against Louis' knee.
Louis looks up to the other boys and they all share a confused look. Zayn just shrugs to Louis, telling him he doesn't know why Harry acted like that.
"Sweetheart, I tapped my lap so you could sit on it, not so you could sit on the floor. What's wrong?" Louis asks carefully, his fingers playing with Harry's curls.
"Yeah well maybe I don't want to be treated like a dog anymore, Louis. You can't just order me around like that anymore. If I want to sit down here then I'm allowed to sit down here, okay?!" Harry exclaims loudly. He regrets it almost as soon as he's said it, of course he was lying (again) but a hungry Harry was an angry Harry, and he couldn't help but take that out on Louis.
"Uhm, o-okay Haz. I'm sorry, didn't mean to make you feel that way. I love you" he says quietly, almost like it's a secret confession and he doesn't tell Harry it 20 times a day.
"Whatever" Harry mutters and turns away from Louis, his eyes glued to the screen and away from Louis' hurt and yet still beautiful blue eyes. Louis just sighs exasperatedly and brings his knees up to his chest as he eats his sandwich so Harry can't sit down there any ways. Louis knows Harry better than anyone else, and he knows that something is going on, he just can't work out what it is.
The next week carries on the same, Harry lies to Louis non-stop about his eating habits, he'll eat maybe one banana each day, but it isn't enough. Every time Harry looks in the mirror, it just seems like he's getting bigger and bigger and he doesn't have any control over it. It's becoming increasingly difficult being around Niall all the time because he eats constantly like there's no tomorrow and never puts a single ounce of weight on. He wouldn't be surprised if Louis starts liking Niall more than him now, after all, no-one likes fat people. Right?
He also keeps getting in little stupid arguments with the other boys, so tensions are sky rocketing right now and Harry doesn't know how much longer its going to be before a huge argument blows up. He's found that he's been having these crazy mood swings too, where one minute he'll be really quiet and upset and just want to be comforted and other moments he just wants to scream at everyone and everything. The biggest change in his behavior is his sleeping pattern. He falls asleep everywhere and anywhere during the day, but the second its night time he becomes wide awake, scared that the only noises are his own thoughts. The ones telling him how fat he is and how ugly is, the ones telling him Louis' going to want him gone soon, and then the boys will want him gone from the band all together.
When he does sleep it's always full of nightmares of Louis screaming at him about how ugly and fat he is, telling him the fans hate him and wish he were out of the band. Then he goes home and his mum is shouting at him, telling him it's his fault that Des divorced her and that he's ashamed to call him her son. She's right after all, who would want someone like Harry as their son. He wakes up in pools of his own sweat scared and tears running down his face, sometimes Louis' there to comfort him and calm him down, but sometimes he's not.
But Harry's determined to keep it going, and everything was going well, until suddenly it wasn't.
"Hazza, I think that you've stretched that shirt since you last wore it babes!" Louis says with a laugh. Harry looks at himself in his mirror in confusion, his eyebrows furrowed together.
"What'd you mean? It fit's like normal." Harry says, grimacing when he see's his fat tummy still poking through the shirt in the mirror. Louis steps forward, a smile on his face as he pulls the two corners of Harry's shirt out at the shoulders.
"Baby, your drowning in it!" He says with yet another laugh. "How have you managed to do that? Normally I'm the one that messes up clothes in the washing machine." A fond memory of 16 year old Harry explaining to Louis why you can't put colored items in with white items as he pulls out all the ruined cloths passes over his memory. He's loved Harry since he was 18, and he'll continue loving him forever.
"Heyyy! I know how to wash clothes, Lewis. I'm not you!" Harry protests cutely, trying to appear annoyed with Louis by putting his hands on his hips. Louis laughs out loud as he releases his grip on the shirt.
"Your too cute, baby, too cute." Louis steps forward and places his hands on Harry's waist, frowning when doing so. "Darling you feel really small today, maybe it's not the shirt that's getting bigger..." Louis trails off. Now he thinks about it, he hasn't actually seen Harry eat a proper meal in ages. He's been so busy with work and every time he ask's Harry if he's hungry he always said he'd already eaten. And Louis always believed him. Until now.
"Why don't we go get something to eat, Haz. I'm really hungry, you can pick what we get." he says in a somewhat normal voice, eyeing Harry up carefully, taking him in.
"Uh, I'm not really hungry right now, I think I ate something dodgy yesterday. You can still get something, though." he lies. Again.
Louis' definitely starting to get worried now, but he also knows he should trust Harry and not jump to conclusions all the time.
"Alright then, sweetheart. I love you." Louis says honestly.
"Love you too" Harry replies, also honestly. It's the best conversation he's had all week, no tension, no anger. Just him and Louis being their usual dorky selves.
So Louis wasn't meant to jump to conclusions except Louis has totally jumped to conclusions and is now worried beyond belief about his boyfriend. And in times of panic, Louis usually turns to Harry but he can't exactly ask Harry how to approach Harry about his eating habits, so he's settled for his partner in crime Zayn.
"I don't know mate. Harry eats like he's never seen food before, I really don't think you need to worry about him." Zayn says, convinced Louis is wrong about all of this.
Louis takes another drag from his cigarette he's smoking, he's on his third one already in this conversation. Nothing seeming to calm him down about this.
"Z, when was the last time you actually saw him eating any food, or the last time he asked to share some of your food. He's always claiming he's eaten earlier but I think he's been lying to all of us." he takes one final drag from the cigarette, before flicking the stub on the ground, stomping it out and lighting his next one.
"Lou slow down on the smoking, yeah? Your chaining them right now." Zayn says with concern for his best mate.
"I don't give a shit. Can you talk to him Zayn, please? He trusts you more than the other boys and I think you'll be able to actually get the truth out of him about this."
"Lou..." Zayn trails off. He loves Harry but it isn't really his place to interfere.
"Zayn please. I'm really worried about him, if anything happened to him I-I-I-" Louis' voice cracks and he looks away, taking another drag from his cigarette, looking up to the sky with tears threatening to fall.
"Okay, I'll talk to him. But I'm not promising anything's gonna happen, Lou. But I'll try." Zayn caves, hating to see his best friend braking like this.
It's been three weeks since that interview, three weeks since Harry had stopped eating fully. Three days since he last consumed any food at all.
"Haz I'm going out to meet Lottie for lunch, I'll be back in a couple of hours. You'll be alright, yeah?" Louis calls to Harry through their Hotel room.
"O-Okay, have a good time" Harry whispers from his spot on the bed, not having the energy to talk louder.
"Why don't you go to Zayn's room and spend some time with him, he hasn't seen you that much recently. Not by yourself anyways."He trails off towards the end. The truth is that no-one's seen Harry much recently, and if they have he's always with Louis, and Louis knows it isn't healthy for him.
"He probably will want to be by himself though, I'll be fine. Promise." he whispers again, looking up innocently into Louis' eyes.
"Darling he loves you. C'mon, I'll walk you there on my way out, let's go."
Harry stands up and the room starts spinning and going dark. He tries play if off though and just holds loosely onto Louis' hand, following him out the door. They walk for what feels like ages to Harry, and finally end up in front of Zayn's room, Harry's legs shaking from the effort of having to walk. Just as Louis raises his hand to knock on the door, Harry reaches out a hand to stop him.
"Hazza, what's wrong?" he asks kindly, trying to let Harry know that he won't be judged buy what he'll say.
"Do you have to leave me?" he asks with a whisper, his eyes forever glued to the floor.
"Baby it's just a few hours, yeah? I really need to see Lottie to talk to her about some stuff. You'll be fine with Zayn, okay?"
"But what if I annoy him again?" Harry confesses his worry. He knows that for a while he was very snappy and pissed all of the boys of including Zayn and he knows that it isn't fair on them.
"Listen, they understand that sometimes you get annoyed, it happens to everyone babe. And I truly don't think your ever going to do anything to really piss him off. Now I'm going to knock on the door cause I've really got to go now, okay? So enjoy yourself and have a good time, and if you need me I'm just a phone call away, alright?"
"Okay" he whispers silently again. Louis sighs and knocks on the door, which is quickly opened by Zayn with a cheery hello and a hug to each of the boys. Louis pulls Harry into his embrace one last time, kisses the top of his head and reminds him that he's only one phone call away.
"Bye Lou, love you." he whispers into Louis' chest. Louis' eyes soften at the boy in front of him as he returns the sentiment with one last kiss, and then he's gone. Harry doesn't make a move to go inside Zayn's room though, just watches Louis walk down the hallway with longing eyes. In the distance he can here Zayn laughing.
"Haz he's only going for a couple of hours you'll be fine. Now, do you wanna watch the new disney film that's out, I've heard it's pretty good and I managed to get a copy of it from amaz-Harry are you listening to me?" Zayn asks, knocking Harry out of his trance. He doesn't know when he became so dependent on Louis but he honestly doesn't know how he's going to make it through these next few hours without him
"Yeah sorry, um, I don't mind watching the film so long as your okay with it." he says with a hoarse voice.
"Brilliant 'cause I got some really cool popcorn to eat with it too, I got the sweet and salty kind you like but they also had bacon and maple syrup so I got both!" Zayn says excitedly pulling Harry into the room behind him. Him and Louis have planned this out for a few days now, it wasn't just chance that Zayn had Harry's favourite snack item.
"Okay, thank you" he whispers again. Harry is just lying, yet again. He's now panicking because Zayn will now expect Harry to eat that whole bag of popcorn and then ask for some of his, and Harry can't break this streak that he's on. Harry also doesn't know what to do with himself anymore without Louis there to guide him, so he just stands in the middle of the room, looking like a lost sheep.
"Haz why don't you go and sit on the bed whilst I get this to work yeah? I'll join you in a second."
Harry quickly obeys and goes up onto the bed, playing with his fingers whilst Zayn situates the movie. He then grabs the two bags of popcorn and tosses one over to Harry before climbing onto the bed. He then slides over to Harry and tentatively places a hand on his knee to see his reaction. Harry immediately flinches at the contact and drops the bag of popcorn onto his lap, looking up to see Zayn look at him with concern filled eyes.
"Y'alright there Haz?" Zayn says, trying to sound calm and cool. He doesn't want Harry thinking that he's up to anything.
"Uh, yeah you just shocked me is all" He says with a fake laugh. After that Zayn doesn't try to engage contact with Harry again, simply allowing the movie to play and looking over every once in a while to see Harry's reaction. His facial expressions don't change throughout the move, he doesn't laugh at the funny bits like he normally does and he doesn't try to hide the fact he's crying at the sad bits, he's just staring blankly at the screen with wide eyes. The most alarming thing for Zayn is that he doesn't go near the food once, he doesn't even open the packet. He realizes Louis was right this whole time and something needs to happen soon.
The ending credits soon role around and Harry can't remember anything that happened in the movie. He checks his phone to see if Louis had texted him but is disappointed to find nothing.
"Soo, what'd you think of it?" Zayn asks excitedly, trying to keep the vibe in the room positive.
"Yeah, it was um, really good, liked the ending." Harry says, praying to the gods that the ending was happy, I mean it was a Disney movie after all.
"Yeah? What happened in the ending Haz?" Zayn asks, knowing that he needs to act now before Louis gets back.
"W-What do you mean? W-Weren't you paying attention?" Harry asks, scared out of his mind. He's praying Zayn will leave it because Harry's worried that once he corrects this lie, they're all going to be out on the table.
"I was, but I want to hear it from you Harry, go on" he prompts. Realization hits Harry as he looks around the room, nothing makes any sense.
"Hold on, how did you know to buy the popcorn in the first place, and why would you buy my favourite. Louis asked if I could come last minute. And why are you really asking me about the ending, you know what just happened." Harry rushes out, a hint of anger evident in his voice. Alarms bells are ringing in Harry's head that something just isn't right.
"Harry calm down a second yeah? Your getting yourself all worked up over nothing babes." Zayn says comfortingly, reaching a hand out to rub Harry's arm.
"No! Don't touch me, you lied to me, Louis lied to me, your planning something, why won't you just tell me whats going on?" Harry shouted frantically "Zayn please, please just tell me what's going on." he whispered.
Zayn hesitated because this wasn't really how this conversation was supposed to go.
"I, uhm, I-haz you really need to talk to Louis about this, it isn't my place to interfere." He says honestly, feeling guilty for letting Louis down.
"You've already interfered Zayn" Harry whispers with disbelief. "Um, I'm just gonna go now, I guess I'll see you later tonight at the concert." He rushes out and stands up quickly to leave. A little too quickly. Harry's world starts spinning as his eyes stop working, leaving him in complete darkness save for two bright piercing blue lights, and Harry just keeps falling, unable to stop.
"Harry can you here me? Squeeze my hand if you can, it's Louis" a voice softly calls out into Harry's head. Harry's head which is pounding like crazy and doesn't understand what's going on.
"Harry? Harry?" And oh, right. Harry needs to squeeze the hand, the perfectly tiny hand that fits Harry's huge ones likes it was made for him. With all the effort Harry can muster he weakly and gently squeezes Louis' hand to let him know he's awake.
"Baby can you open your eyes for me, please. I'm right here for you just take your time yeah?"
Louis clearly doesn't understand how difficult that task is to complete, if Harry could open his eyes he would have ages ago, but he just can't. He tries and tries but they just won't open. He starts rolling around and making random noises of discomfort as he starts panicking. Louis finally takes the hint that Harry's struggling so he helps him out a little.
"Haz, you fainted love. But it's going to be okay, yeah? You haven't hit your head cause I managed to catch in you time but we need to get something sugary inside you to keep your blood sugar levels nice and high, okay sweetheart? All you have to do is open those beautiful eyes of yours and I can help you get better okay?"
Harry tries really hard to open them, and eventually they do open and the blinding lights hit Harry's eyes, causing him to since and squint quickly to stop his eyes hurting.
Louis slowly pulls Harry up and leans him against the edge of Zayn's bed on the floor as he reassures Harry he will be okay.
A couple of hours later, Harry finds himself back in his own hotel room with Louis cuddling with him as another film plays.
"Haz, I'm going to order some room service, what do you want?" Louis asks whilst getting up to look for the menu.
It's such a simple question but Harry just can't lie to Louis anymore. He's tired of the whole situation and just really wants to be okay again.
"Lou?" Harry asks timidly.
"Yes babe?" Louis replies
"I n-need to talk to you. Like, now please" he says with determination in his voice. Louis just sits down on the bed again and rests a comforting hand on the younger boys thigh.
"Um, okay so, I think you already know what I'm about to say, because of what happened earlier at Zayn's, but I, uhm, I can't eat food anymore, every time I look in the mirror I just seem to be getting bigger and bigger and bigger and I'm so tired of never being good enough any more, Lou, I just want this all to be over but it never ends. I'm so tired Louis" Harry admits with a shaky voice. It was hard for Harry to admit that out loud after all this time.
A tear slips down Louis' face as he comes to terms with Harry's confession. He knew things were bad but he hadn't actually realized how bad things had truly gotten. Harry shakily raises a thumb a wipes Louis' tear away, his own eyes glossy and saddened.
"Baby your so beautiful, so so so beautiful that sometimes I think you can't even be real. And I've noticed you loosing weight recently Hazza, but I never knew things had gotten this bad. Why-why didn't you tell me sooner love?" Louis says, his voice cracking.
"I'm so so so sorry Lou. I don't think I realized it was an actual problem until now, I just saw it as me on a diet, but I think, I think I have some kind of eating disorder. And I hate it Lou, so much. I keep trying to starve myself to loose weight, but I just keep getting bigger and becoming more iritable and soon, soon your gonna realize that I'm not worth the effort any more." Harry confesses, his eyes locked with Louis as he tries to see his true reaction.
"Harry when was the last time you ate something?" Louis whispers, to scared to know the answer.
"Th-three days ago. But I'm still getting bigger." Harry whispers even quieter.
"Fucking hell" Louis mutters under his breath "Darling your are loosing weight. Too much weight, it isn't healthy for you. You never needed to lose it in the first place, what made you think you did?"
"We were in that interview and everyone said I was annoying for eating their food all the time and I know they were joking but I guess it just made me realize how much crap I did eat, so then I looked on Twitter to see if people agreed and I found a thread with photos of me with my tummy showing and I just saw how much weight I was putting on. And you and Niall and Liam and Zayn are all so much smaller than me and I guess I thought maybe people would like me more if I were smaller. Sorry." He replies.
"Baby we all love you so ridiculously much it's silly, and no-ones ever gonna love you more just cause your skinnier. Everyone is beautiful, no matter their size. How would you feel if Gemma told you she was insecure about her weight and wanted to lose it?"
"She'd be stupid, she's beautiful no matter, her size doesn't define that!" Harry says defiantly, his protective side coming out.
"Exactly haz, can't you see what I'm trying to say babes?"
Realisation hits Harry as what Louis says settles in.
The rest of the conversation is full of Louis comforting Harry as Harry confides in every thing he's beens struggling with over the last few weeks. Louis gets Harry to eat half a portion of pasta and is immensely proud of him, which he tells him all the way through.
Over the next few weeks and months, Harry goes on a long journey of recovery. Some days he eats three full portion sized meals and some days he can't even stomach a lot of yoghurt, but Louis stays there with Harry through all of it, through the good and the bad.
Recovery is a long and tiresome road, but so long as Harry has Louis, he'll be alright. And so long as Louis has Harry, he'll be alright too.