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To Be Loved and To Be in Love

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Louis thinks Harry is the sun in spring. Even now, with his large doe eyes shut, eyelashes brushing over his cheeks, with his impossibly pink lips parted slightly as he slept peacefully, Louis couldn’t think of anything more lovely. He’d always known Harry was beautiful, even back when they were little kids watching Disney movies under Louis’ Spiderman blanket. He’d known it from the moment he’d seen Anne carrying a little blue bundle that Jay couldn’t stop cooing over.

Back then, at two years old, he was used to being the center of everyone’s universe and spent a long time pouting at this intruder and tugging the end of his mother’s shirt. Eventually, Jay lifted him up and sat him on her lap. “Say hi to Harry,” she told him, a soft smile on her face as she gestured at the months-old baby. “Harry,” whoever he was, gurgled as Louis stubbornly refused to acknowledge his existence. However, due to the particularly short attention of a toddler, curiosity eventually got the best of him and he glanced over for a quick look.

The baby was tiny, unbelievably so, smaller than Louis thought. He was kicking his tiny hands and feet clumsily, Anne’s long finger clenched tightly in his miniature fist. Even more shocking to Louis were the barely-there tufts of hair on the baby’s head. With a name like Harry, Louis thought, he should have lots and lots of hair. Still, he was entranced by this babbling child. He decided he liked him and spent the rest of the day at his side and cried when Anne told him that she and Harry had to go home for his nap. Harry came back though.

In fact, he and Anne came over everyday to spend time with Louis and Jay. The two women had been friends for a long time and thought it was only fitting that their sons shared that closeness. As they grew up, Louis and Harry were nearly inseparable. Harry’s curls grew in after a few more months and Louis was delighted. He was constantly running his fingers through the soft strands, causing Harry to squeal and giggle. He would press Harry close to him and twirl the locks around his fingers distractedly while they were watching whatever princess movie Gemma had decided she wanted to watch and put on. Louis would always groan about it but once he noticed the happy twinkle in Harry’s eyes each time some silly cartoon girl found her happily ever after and kissed the prince (gross!) he decided he could deal with Gemma’s stupid infatuation.

When Harry was four and Louis was six, Louis was forced to leave his little slice of happiness everyday for several hours. School. Even the word made Louis cringe. He remembers his first day, remembers how Harry had waved goodbye from the window, tears streaming down his face. And well, Louis just couldn’t leave his favorite boy like that now, could he? He’d run into Harry’s house and hugged him tight. Harry then made him promise not to find anyone he liked better than him. Louis promised he never would and tickled him until he erupted into a fit of giggles, weepy frown long forgotten. Louis did make other friends in school though, most notably a boy named Liam, but each day he would return home to Harry.

Two years later, Harry started school too. Louis remembers walking Harry to school on his first day, listening to Harry prattle on excitedly about all the new things he would learn. He remembers how Harry held his hand and intertwined their fingers, his Teletubbies backpack bounced up and down as he skipped along. Louis had smiled at him fondly and reached over to ruffle his hair with his free hand. He walked him over to the first grade classroom with all the other little kids, all being lead by mothers, fathers, older siblings. The teacher had walked over to them as soon as they caught her eye and smiled, ushering them inside. She bent down to Harry’s height and introduced herself before gesturing at Louis and asking Harry if he was his brother. “No, he’s my bestest friend in the whole world, Louis!” the younger boy replied happily. He hugged Louis tightly and yelled out a “bye” as he ran off after the other children in the class, leaving Louis to listen to the teacher’s explanation of the dismissal procedure.

They’d met up again at recess, a bright-eyed boy at Harry’s heels, whose cheerful smile never seemed to leave his face. He’d introduced himself as “I’m Niall and I’m Irish!” Louis was flanked by a stocky boy with swishy brown hair. He whispered a shy “Liam” paired with a small wave and a soft smile. Having heard Louis go on about this kid, Harry decided he didn’t like him because he was Louis’ best friend, what right did Liam have to try take that title from him? He couldn’t stay upset though, his own sunny demeanor and Liam’s infinite kindness rendering any kind of anger impossible. The two new members of their group fit right in with Louis and Harry, but even they couldn’t separate the obvious bond between the two original best friends. They couldn’t help it really. They were just drawn together.

Only a year after the younger boy started school, Louis saw Harry cry for the first time, really cry and not just because “the movie was so sweet” or he tripped and scraped his knee. For months Louis had been coming over to play with Harry after school and on weekends and for months Louis had seen Anne and Des’ relationship become more and more strained. He’d walk in on Anne wiping at her eyes after having talked to Des. She would always laugh and say she had just stubbed her toe or bumped her hip and that Louis shouldn’t worry about it. He would go upstairs to Harry’s room and hear stories from him of the two waking him up in the middle of the night because they were screaming at each other again. They would always apologize, assure him that everything was okay and tuck him in. Still though. Harry was scared.

He’d heard Gemma talking to one of her friends about something. Divorce it was called, something like that. She’d been crying over the phone when she was talking about it. Gemma never cried. He didn’t know what divorce meant but if it made Gemma upset, it had to be bad. Harry had taken to crying a lot too. Louis was always there to wipe away his tears though. While their parents thought they were playing, they would hide away under the covers of Harry’s bed. Louis would wrap his arms around the smaller boy and whisper soothing words into his ear and brush his thumb under Harry’s eyes when a tear happened to leak out. Other times he’d try to distract him, put on a cute movie and hold Harry to his chest, press his lips against the top of his head. Sometimes he would just stay quiet and let him cry into his chest until he fell asleep. Even then, Louis would continue to just hold him, comforting him even in his dreams.

Des and Anne signed the divorce papers in the summer and Harry cried for an entire week. He felt miserable and despite Louis’ insistent pleas to go outside and play, Harry still sulked.

“Harry! You have to come outside! There is such a pretty flower outside! It’s purple and pink! You’ll love it!” Louis called up towards Harry’s bedroom window.

“But, I don’t wanna go… I’m tired.”

“If you don’t get out here, Harold, I will come inside and drag you out.” Harry didn’t respond. Louis sighed, “Alright then, ready or not here I come.” He stomped into the house and up the stairs towards Harry’s bedroom.

“I’m not moving!” wailed Harry, his voice muffled by the pillow his face was pressed into. Louis kept going and pushed the door open, finding Harry sitting in his puddle of tears. With all his strength, Louis carried Harry on his back and dragged him into the backyard. He sat Harry down on the ground, his back leaning against a tree. “Lou, please can we just go back inside. I don’t want to be here anymore.”

“Just wait a second,” Louis scampered off towards the flower he had seen and picked it. He hid his hands behind his back and walked back to Harry. “Close your eyes now, Haz.” Harry grumbled but complied, crossing his arms over his chest. Louis knelt down in front of Harry and pushed his dark curls away from his face, watching Harry’s mouth shape itself into a reluctant smile. Louis took the stem of the flower, twirled around in his fingers a few times and tucked behind Harry’s ear, the bright petals contrasting greatly with the chestnut locks on his head. “There, all done!”

Harry opened his eyes and lifted a hesitant hand to the thing behind his ear. His fingers brushed against soft feather-like shapes. “You look like a princess, Haz,” Louis smiled, sitting down besides him and wrapping his arm around his shoulder, pulling the smaller boy close to him.

“Really? Am I pretty like one too?” A grin spread across his face, the first Louis had seen in a while.

"Even prettier. You're the prettiest princess in the world Harry."

"Thanks Lou." Harry rested his head on Louis' shoulder and the two boys just sat there, propped up against the tree, just enjoying each other's company. Needless to say, Harry stopped sulking after that day.
By the time Louis was 13, he knew he was gay. By 14, Louis realized he was in love with Harry. By 15, he decided that nothing could happen between him and Harry, he was probably straight anyway. (That didn't stop Louis from loving him though.) By 16, Louis started dating Zayn Malik. The gay thing wasn't really a big deal. His mother and stepfather had always been pretty open-minded about such things and didn't treat him any differently because of it. His twin sisters were still too young to understand what it meant, but Louis would be more than happy to explain to them as they grew up. After all, he had done so with Lottie, Fizzy, Niall and Harry. They'd all just nodded and shrugged. Harry had given him an extra hug and a kiss on the cheek though. He didn't really understand why it seemed to matter so much, but Louis had been quite stressed when talking about it, so Harry felt it was his job to help comfort him.

The falling for Harry thing was more important in Louis' eyes. He'd talked it over with Liam for hours. Strangely enough, Liam was more surprised by the fact that the two weren't already dating than that Louis was in love with him. Liam's chocolate brown eyes had filled with concern over Louis' dilemma and he'd hugged the other boy tight, promising that he'd always be there to support him. Liam didn't try to raise his hopes in any way, leaving a bittersweet taste in Louis' mouth. After all, the chance of Harry being gay as well probably wasn't that high. And even if he was, he would have absolutely no problem getting a boyfriend. He wouldn't settle for someone like Louis. So he pushed all thoughts of kissing his best friend to the back of his mind and instead settled his gaze on Zayn.

Zayn was the mysterious quiet kid who sat in the back of the class and drew while listening to music instead of paying attention yet still got straight A's. He'd been going to school with Louis from the start, but no one had ever really tried to get to know him. He seemed too unapproachable, too different from everyone else. Still, he was intriguing. He had dated quite a few guys and girls in the school, despite his recluse status. No one would have passed up a chance to be with someone quite that gorgeous and apparently, Zayn was pretty good with the being a boyfriend stuff. Louis wanted to try to. So, he began to talk to Zayn between classes and after school. After learning that Zayn was as big a geek as he was when it came to superheroes, Louis decided that yeah, Zayn would definitely be a good distraction from Harry.

Zayn asked him out a week later and Louis agreed instantly. Harry was there to help him get ready for it, though he remained oddly quiet as he flipped through Louis' shirts, trying to find one this Zayn guy would like. Louis barely seemed to notice. He ranted on and on about how notoriously hot Zayn was and how excited he was to date him. Harry just nodded and laid out an outfit for Louis on his bed. "There, all done. You're going to look great Lou. Zayn's a lucky guy. Um, I have a lot of homework and such that I have to do so, uh, I have to go now. Bye," Harry rushed out so quickly that Louis could hardly process that he was leaving until he was gone.
"I'll call you tonight," Louis yelled after Harry's retreating body. No response. Louis brushed it off and finished preparing himself. The date with Zayn was great, absolutely amazing. He'd even gotten to kiss him goodbye at his door. But when he called Harry to tell him all about it, no one picked up the phone.

In fact, Harry hardly ever picked up the phone anymore. And whenever Louis tried to make plans to meet up, more often than not, Harry would have some excuse not to. Which Louis knew was bull because he'd see Niall go into Harry's house or Harry get picked up by Niall's mom for the two of them to hang out. While yes, it stung that Harry was ditching him for Niall, Louis decided not to let it affect him. He used all the time he could have been spending with Harry at Zayn's side. The two of them became extremely close in just a few months and their relationship was becoming quite serious. All seemed more or less perfect in that department.

Except. Sometimes Zayn would cancel plans they'd had for weeks at a minute's notice. And there were times when he'd seemed really rushed and frantic when Louis called him. It was really starting to become a cause for concern and Louis had no idea what to think about it. Liam told him to just go over to Zayn's house and get it all cleared up so Louis would stop stressing over it. And well, Louis wanted to trust his boyfriend but he'd just cancelled the dinner reservations Louis had made a month and a half ago. So, yeah, maybe Liam had a point. Honestly though, when was Louis not the sensible one?

So Louis went to Zayn's house. He knocked on the door, but when no one answered Louis retrieved the spare key he knew was hidden behind the house number. He opened the door quietly and the first sound he was met with was giggling. A boy giggling. Zayn didn't sound like that and he didn't have any brothers so right now, Louis just wanted to know who the fuck was that giggling. He followed the sound and came to face to face with the giggling boy. Who happened to be sitting on ahem, Louis' boyfriend's lap, Zayn smiling down at him fondly. Louis scoffed at the sight which caused the two boys to look up, startled. Zayn's eyes immediately widened with horror as his gaze locked with Louis'. "L-Lou, babe, I can explain!"
"Oh, really? Please then enlighten me. Babe. Who's this and why the fuck is he in your lap and he better not have anything to do with why you've been cancelling all our plans." Zayn remained silent. "Thought so. Have fun with your boy toy then you selfish bastard." Louis sauntered away, pausing only to look over his shoulder and call. "Oh, in case it wasn't blindingly obvious, we're over Zayn Malik. Have a nice life."

So. That was done. Zayn was a cheater. Cool. Louis' face was wet. He absently raised a hand to wipe it off but it wasn't replaced with more and more of the liquid. Oh right. Tears. That happens when someone stomps on your heart. Louis hadn’t cried in a while and now he didn’t know what to do. He let his body guide him forward until he found himself at Harry’s door. Apparently, his heart didn’t care about the distance that had sprung up between them. It still wanted to be comforted by Harry and Harry only. So, here he was. Louis walked right in, knowing that Anne never locked the door during the day. He went up to Harry’s room, finding the boy lying on his bed, a book in his hand. “Hey Haz.”
“Louis,” Harry breathed, immediately shutting his book and sitting up. “Um, what’s up?”

“Zayn cheated on me, that prick,” Louis mumbled, flopping down on the bed besides Harry, his head landing amongst the pillows.

“Louis… I’m so so sorry. He was a jerk, he doesn’t deserve you.” Louis just shrugged adjusting himself so his head was in Harry’s lap. Harry’s long fingers carded through his hair, focusing only on helping Louis. “You can do so much better than him. Promise.” Again, Louis stayed silent and simply nodded. Harry took the cue and remained quiet himself only speaking up occasionally to murmur soft words into Louis’ ear. Eventually, Louis pulled Harry down besides him and wrapped his arms around him, burying his head in his neck. Harry let him and placed a hand on his side, tracing circles with his fingers on Louis’ skin. The moment felt so close, so intimate, so everything Harry had been missing for the past few months that he couldn’t contain his feelings bubbling up to the surface. He couldn’t keep himself from pushing up Louis’ chin with his finger and pressing his full lips against Louis’ thinner ones. He couldn’t control the warm ticklish feeling that filled him as he kissed Louis. What he could control though was how quickly he pulled away once he realized what exactly he had been doing.

“Louis, no, no I'm sorry, I didn't mean to, it just happened, I'm so so sorry. ,” he rambled, immediately jumping out of the bed and tripping on his way to get out of the door, get away from his room, get away from Louis. He ran out, tears spilling out of his eyes, choked sobs getting stuck in his throat. This was it then, he ruined everything, he’d absolutely fucked up this time. He was going to lose Louis, the biggest source of happiness in his life. He tripped over his ever-growing limbs as he ran and couldn’t be bothered to get back up. He’d stayed on the ground, helpless, wallowing on his own.

Meanwhile, Louis was in shock. Harry, the boy he’d been in love with since he was 14 actually kissed him. That had to mean that Harry had some kind of feelings for Louis. Which, if that was the case, then why in the world was he lying here thinking about his boy instead of chasing after him? Louis jumped up and ran out, following the sound of a broken Harry. He found him in the yard, fallen on the ground, still crying like his world had ended. Louis knelt down besides him and rubbed his hand in circles on Harry’s back, mumbling “I’m here, shh, it’s okay darling, I’ve got you,” until Harry’s tears began to subside.

“Louis? What are you doing? Why don’t you hate me?”

“You absolutely stupid, completely ridiculous, unbelievably perfect boy. How could I hate when you’ve had my heart for years, you utter dork?”

“Lou?” Harry responded, confused. Louis didn’t answer. Instead he pulled Harry up to his feet, wrapped an arm around his waist and pulled him close.

“I love you, always have,” Louis whispered before closing his eyes and pressing his lips against Harry’s once more. And yeah, maybe he felt a little drunk in this moment and maybe there were butterflies swimming around his body, but as long as he had his Harry in his arms, everything would be alright.

Back in the present, Harry finally began to stir in his sleep. Louis’ ready for him. He plants soft kisses all over his face, watching Harry smile a sleepy smile. Louis reaches a hand down and intertwines it with Harry’s own, running his thumb over the ring on Harry’s right hand. He’d spent so many years with this boy and he definitely doesn’t mind spending the rest of forever with him too. And maybe right now, Louis still feels a little drunk and maybe the butterflies in his body never really left but Harry is still in his arms and everything is better than alright.