Title: Wait For You
Warnings: A bit of adult language.
Summary: Five years in the life of Harry and Louis, starting in 2010.
They fell asleep without moving, both knowing that something very real had just started. They had no idea what they were in for.
A/N: 4300 words. Fluff/angst/more fluff.
Harry crawled into Louis’ bed late at night. They had just made it through that week’s elimination and he was still reeling from the evening’s events. He tossed and turned for an hour before leaving his bed in favor of his best friend’s. He pulled back the blanket and snuggled up to the warm body, both of them clad only in underwear. Louis shifted as the younger boy wrapped his arm around him, turning to press his face into Harry’s neck.
“What are you doing here, young man?” He asked sleepily.
“Mmm. It was a big day.”
Harry nodded, pulling Louis closer. Louis just smiled into Harry’s neck, rubbing his back comfortingly.
“How can I help?”
“How can I help you sleep?”
“Sing me a lullaby,” Harry responded, nudging Louis’ shoulder with his nose.
“A lullaby? Like what?”
“Anything. Just want to hear your voice.”
Louis thought for a while, absently drumming his fingers against Harry’s arm. When his voice came out, it was as soft as a whisper.
If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me
And just forget the world?
Harry smiled into Louis’ shoulder and nudged him, wanting more. Louis glanced down and returned the smile, continuing on, his fingers tracing circles into Harry’s arm.
I don’t quite know
How to say
How I feel
He stopped midway through the verse, biting his lip. Harry leaned back to look into Louis’ eyes, which locked onto his. Without thinking, he moved into Louis, pressing his lips lightly to the older boy’s. It was soft, simple, short. When Harry pulled back, he studied Louis’ face to gauge a reaction. The face looking back at him was surprised, but grinning broadly.
“You just kissed me, Harry Styles.”
Harry laughed, playfully punching Louis’ arm.
“It was all that serenading. I just got caught up in the moment.”
But his face betrayed his words and his gaze flickered down to Louis’ lips. Louis’ smile faded as he pulled Harry back into him, their lips meeting in a more intense kiss. Their bodies moved together until Harry was flat on his back with Louis laying half on top of him, their hands roaming over each other’s skin.
Harry tried to tell himself to calm down, but he got completely lost in the moment when Louis’ tongue entered his mouth. Luckily, he could tell Louis was getting as excited as he was, so he pushed away his embarrassment, focusing instead on the tongue tangling with his own.
After several minutes of making out, Louis pulled away, out of breath. He lay his head on Harry’s chest and listened to the rapid heartbeat inside. When they had both caught their breath, Harry spoke, his hands running through Louis’ hair.
“Do we have to talk about this? Or can it just be?”
“No talking. Just being,” Louis mumbled against Harry’s skin.
They fell asleep without moving, both knowing that something very real had just started. They had no idea what they were in for.
It had been a crazy year since X Factor ended. Life had flipped upside down for them and both Harry and Louis knew that, if it wasn’t for each other, they might have cracked. But every day, they had the other to come back to after the craziness of the signings and interviews. They kept each other sane. Just one look into the other’s eyes and everything got smaller, more manageable.
Now, sitting together on the couch, sipping hot cocoa and watching cheesy old romance movies, nothing outside of them really mattered. Harry glanced over as Louis pulled out his phone, smiling as he typed something out.
“Put your phone away! You’re missing the best part!”
Louis finished typing and turned his phone off, grinning. He pushed his feet onto Harry’s lap, settling in.
“What’s with the smile?” Harry asked when Louis’s grin didn’t disappear.
“Check twitter,” he replied simply.
Harry furrowed his brow in confusion and pulled out his phone, opening the app. He tapped his way through the screens, getting to Louis’ feed. As he read it, a smile spread across his face. He threw the phone beside him and leaned over, grabbing Louis by the waist and pulling him up onto his lap. Louis didn’t fight it, landing with his knees straddling Harry’s thighs. Harry kissed Louis sweetly, then smacked his bum playfully.
“You’re going to get us in trouble, Lou.” He tried to act as if he were reprimanding his boyfriend, but his eyes sparkled as he spoke, smile still planted on his face.
“Psssht. They all think it’s funny.” Louis leaned down, pressing another kiss into Harry’s lips. “Besides.” Another kiss. “I don’t much care.”
“You don’t care if people figure out we’re madly in love and have hot sex every night?”
“Nope.” He shook his head for emphasis.
Harry smiled again, shaking his head at Louis. He opened his mouth to respond, but closed it before speaking. Instead, he simply pulled Louis into him, until their chests were pressed together. Harry lifted Louis’ hands and intertwined their fingers.
“Love you, babe,” Harry whispered, placing a kiss on Louis’ jaw.
“Love you, too, Haz.”
Their eyes locked and they swam in the familiar oceans of blue and green before their lips met again. They couldn’t imagine anything ever getting in the way of this. They couldn’t imagine anything ever being more important than this. Because, this, this thing between them… It was a forever thing.
When the “girlfriend” entered the picture, they thought they could keep it going behind closed doors. They thought it wouldn’t affect their relationship. They thought they would just agree to this stipulation, Louis would make a few appearances with her, then he’d go home to his boyfriend and be the real Louis and nothing would change. And, for a while, it almost felt like it was working.
But more and more appearances were requested. Louis had to go on holidays with her. Without Harry. Even though Harry knew there was absolutely nothing going on between Louis and the girlfriend, it got hard to watch. When they were alone together, Louis could tell Harry’s eyes didn’t shine quite as brightly as they used to. And Harry noticed that Louis always seemed tired.
They were both exhausted from touring and promo events and they were finally home to finish recording their second album. They were excited to be home, but it also meant more appearances with the girlfriend. Harry started going out more with his friends. When they both came home at the end of the night, they clawed desperately at each other, trying to forget about everything around them, to focus only on each other, like it used to be. But it wasn’t like it used to be. So much had changed. Not just the girlfriend, but the insane pressure to be something that they weren’t.
They were at the studio on a Friday afternoon, finishing up some background vocals. Harry was sitting alone on a couch in the break room, rubbing his temples, trying to figure out how they got here. He hurt every day. He constantly felt anxious, like something was coming. It was making him physically ill.
When the door opened, he didn’t even look up. When he felt the couch dip as someone sat beside him, he blinked back the tears that had formed behind his eyes, threatening to spill over.
“Harry,” Louis said softly, setting his chin on Harry’s shoulder. “What’s wrong?”
Harry shook his head, wringing his hands together. He didn’t look up.
“Come on, babe. Talk to me.”
Harry could hear the concern in Louis’ voice and it almost made him angry. But Harry kept his emotions in check, begging himself to stay rational. When he spoke, he spoke clearly and with an honesty that surprised even himself.
“I’m scared of what’s happening to us.”
Louis exhaled heavily. He wrapped an arm around Harry’s waist, turning to face Harry on the couch. Time ticked by in silence, neither boy knowing quite what to say. Finally, Louis spoke, his voice thick.
“You know I love you more than anything, right?”
Harry looked up to see that Louis’ eyes were filled with tears. His own lip trembled slightly.
“Yeah, I know that. And you-”
“Yeah, I know it, too.”
They smiled sadly. Louis sighed, laying his head on Harry’s shoulder. Harry found Louis’ hand and held it in his own.
“Maybe it’s just a right now thing. Maybe it’ll get better,” Louis said softly.
“Maybe. But when? How? I don’t know how much more I can take, Lou.”
Harry felt Louis’ body shake next to him as a muffled sob escaped him. Harry’s chest felt like it was being crushed. He hated seeing Louis cry more than anything. It wrecked him. And he was already wrecked.
“Babe,” Harry whispered, turning to pull Louis into his arms. He rubbed Louis’ back gently. Once Louis had calmed down, tears drying on his cheeks, he spoke into Harry’s shoulder.
“Instead of just breaking up… Instead of this being it, can we just kind of put it on hold? Can we just pick up where we left off when everything else figures itself out?”
Harry nodded, trying to swallow the lump in his throat.
“Yeah. That’s what we should do. Because I can’t just let you go. I won’t make it.”
Louis pulled back to look into Harry’s watery eyes, pushing a stray curl back from his eyes.
“Promise? Promise me you’ll wait for me? For when we can be together for real… No hiding. No lying. Promise you’ll wait?”
A tear fell from Harry’s eye, cascading down his cheek. He felt a swelling, consuming pain in his chest, realizing that this was really happening. He leaned forward, planting a soft kiss on Louis’ lips and he tried not to think of it as a goodbye kiss.
“I promise. I’ll wait.”
And that promise was the only thing keeping either of them together.
Harry and Louis have changed. Everyone sees it. Even the people who don’t know what changed see that something has changed. Harry’s smile, which used to be so bright and natural, has become forced. It doesn’t quite reach his eyes anymore. And Louis avoids the spotlight as much as he can. He doesn’t even tweet anymore unless he’s being forced to. The girlfriend is still around, although they’re not publicizing it as much as they used to. Louis doesn’t even have the energy to fight any of it. He goes where he’s told. He tries to smile, although he’s not fooling anyone. He wasn’t expecting it to last this long. He’s tired.
Louis had moved out of their home a few days after the split. Harry moved the next month. Harry was waiting for him, but he couldn’t wait in the home they had shared together. He bought a house that the press called a “bachelor pad”. Harry gritted his teeth whenever he heard the term. If only they knew.
It had been a year without Louis. They saw each other almost every day, obviously, for work. But it wasn’t the same when he couldn’t kiss him or hold him or whisper disgustingly sweet things in his ear. They still had their moments though. Every once in a while, they would find themselves alone or in the corner of a crowded room with no one paying attention to them. Louis would lean up, whispering in Harry’s ear, asking if he was still waiting. Harry would tell him that, yes, he was still waiting. That he would wait forever.
But every day that passed wore Harry down a little more. He would wait forever, if he had to, but he wasn’t sure what would be left of him at the end of forever. He remembered who he was when he and Louis began their relationship and he knew he’d never be that person again. He knew Louis would never be that same Louis again either. That scared Harry.
It was a Monday night. They had had the day off and Harry had spent the entirety of it at home, thinking. He was starting to turn his sadness into anger, blaming Louis for all of this. He knew it wasn’t fair to do so, but he didn’t know who else to blame. He was terrified that he was waiting for something that would never exist again.
And then he saw it. He had been checking twitter when he saw a tweet from a fan that just said “Is this true? :(“ with a link. He clicked it and was taken to an article on some celebrity gossip site. The article was titled “Is Louis Tomlinson Engaged?”. Harry read through the short article, gripping his laptop so tightly that his knuckles turned white. Apparently the girlfriend had been spotted with an engagement ring. Harry went to Louis’ twitter to see if he had addressed the rumor. He hadn’t.
He knew firsthand that these gossip sites were rarely right about this stuff, but that didn’t stop his heart from speeding up to a painful rate. Without thinking, he grabbed his wallet and keys and stormed out of the house.
He didn’t even think about where he was going. He just drove until he arrived at the house. In the driveway, he quickly parked and slammed the car door shut, marching up to the front door with his jaw clenched, and knocking loudly. He was almost surprised when Louis answered the door.
“Can I come in?” Harry asked, not terribly politely, avoiding eye contact.
“Harry? What are you doing here? Are you okay?” Louis’ voice was panicked. He reached out to touch Harry’s arm, but Harry stepped back.
“Can I come in?” Harry repeated.
Louis looked baffled and a little scared. He stepped to the side, motioning for Harry to come in. As soon as the door as closed behind them, Harry swung around and looked at Louis with cold, angry eyes.
“First of all, you’re not actually fucking engaged, right? Because if you are, I swear to God-”
“No! God no, Harry!” Louis interrupted. “I would never. You know that!”
“Do I? Do I know that? Do I know you anymore?”
Louis stepped back, looking like he’d been slapped. He didn’t know where all this rage was coming from, but he didn’t want to make it worse by saying the wrong thing, so he let Harry continue, his voice just below the level of shouting at this point.
“Because, I don’t know if you noticed, but I’ve fucking changed! And you have, too, Lou. The Louis I fell in love with wouldn’t have given a shit about pleasing management or the money or the fame. I would have been enough for that Louis!”
Harry’s voice cracked on the last sentence as his throat closed up, tears springing to his eyes. Louis was torn between comforting Harry and shouting back. In the end, he responded quietly.
“You’re acting like this was all my decision. You agreed back when the whole girlfriend conversation came up. You agreed it was for the best. You said we’d get through it.”
“But we weren’t getting through it and you didn’t do anything about it. You should have done something about it! All these months and you still haven’t done anything about it! I fucking promised you, Louis. I fucking waited.” Harry paused to breathe. When he continued, his voice came out shaky and tearful. “Every day I wait, thinking maybe that’ll be the day. Maybe you’ll call me and tell me that it’s over with her and that you don’t care anymore and that we can be together, like you said. No hiding. No lying. And that day never comes. And it’s not going to, is it?”
Louis’ mouth dropped open a bit in disbelief. He took a few steps forward, closing the space between them.
“Harry, I thought we were waiting for the situation to change. Not just the girlfriend thing, but everything. So we could be together without worrying about any of it.”
Harry sighed, leaning back against the wall behind him.
“I’m just so tired of waiting. I feel like we’re running out of time.”
“What do you mean by that?” Louis closed in on Harry, reaching his hand up to rub Harry’s forearm with his thumb.
“Don’t you ever worry that, by the time the situation changes, we’ll be completely different people? And whatever we had will be gone?”
Louis chewed on his lip. He had thought of that, but he had always put the thought to the back of his mind, not wanting to deal with what that meant, not being able to deal with it. He moved his hand from Harry’s arm to Harry’s neck.
“Are you still in love with me?” Louis’ chest constricted as he asked the question. He forced himself to keep his eyes on Harry’s.
Harry stared back into the blue eyes for a moment before answering.
Louis’ heart skipped a beat and his eyes fluttered shut for a moment, the air having been sucked out of him with just that one word. He forced himself to breathe and continued on.
“Do you want to do this right now? Get back together, go public, all of it? Because, Harry, if that’s what you want, I’ll do it.”
Harry shook his head, leaning his face into the hand on his neck.
“We have contracts, Louis. We can’t.”
“I don’t care about the contracts. Honestly, if I’m with you, it doesn’t matter. We’ll be poor musicians, playing in dodgy bars and working in a coffee shop. It’ll be romantic.”
He smiled softly. Harry laughed a bit and wrapped his arms around Louis’ waist, pulling him closer.
“No, I think I can wait. Because I’ve just realized something.”
Louis wrapped both arms around Harry’s neck, his fingers playing with the curls at the nape of Harry’s neck.
“What have you realized?”
“That you and I-” Harry took a deep breath, gazing into mesmerizing blue eyes,”we’re still us. You’re still you and I’m still me. And no matter how long it takes, it’ll still be us and I’ll still be in love with you. It may not be the same as it was before, but it’ll still be perfect.”
Louis smiled, touched by Harry’s words and nodded.
“Perfect,” he echoed in a whisper.
Louis had broken up with the girlfriend after telling their management he was done with it. It was his life and he had a say in how he lived it. They unenthusiastically agreed to let him break up with her. He and Harry had fallen back to their old ways. They started kissing in dark rooms. They started playing footsie under tables. They started spending entire days off at each other’s houses, just enjoying each other’s company. Their smiles started reaching their eyes again.
Their third album hadn’t sold as well as the first two and they all knew it might be the beginning of the end. They were currently on a European tour that had sold out, but they had planned far fewer dates than they did for their previous tours. They were downsizing.
None of the boys in the band were actually upset about this. They still had girls screaming for them everywhere they went, but some of the pressure was off. Their management company seemed to be focusing more on up and coming acts and leaving them to do what they wanted more.
There was a knock on Harry’s hotel door. He got up and opened the door, finding Louis standing there, smiling nervously and shaking slightly. Harry pulled him inside.
“What’s wrong, babe?”
He ran his hands soothingly over Louis’ arms.
“Nothing, nothing. I just have something to ask you.”
“Okay… What is it?”
Harry looked on as Louis fidgeted a bit. It almost looked like he had had too much coffee, buzzing from caffeine. Louis locked his eyes on Harry’s and he calmed a bit, falling still.
“Be my boyfriend?”
Harry laughed without thinking, leaving Louis looking shattered. Harry moved over and pulled Louis into a tight hug.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to laugh. But you were so nervous and… That’s what you were nervous about? Asking me to go steady?”
Louis punched Harry in the side.
“This is not funny, sir. This is really fucking serious.”
Harry pulled back so he could look at Louis.
“So, you mean the whole thing? No hiding? No lying?”
Louis nodded, looking hopefully back at Harry.
“The whole thing. I feel like we’ve found the right time and, fuck Harry, I just want to walk down the street holding your hand. I want to talk about my boyfriend when people ask about my love life. I just want you. That is, if you still want me.”
A smile spread across Harry’s face. He felt a weight lift from his chest. He felt so happy in that moment that he actually almost giggled.
“I promised, didn’t I?” He said, raising his eyebrows. “I waited for you, Louis Tomlinson.”
“So that’s a yes?” Louis asked, trying to contain his excitement.
“Of course it’s a yes, babe.”
Louis immediately threw himself onto Harry, wrapping his legs around the younger boy’s waist. They kissed messily, excitedly. Harry finally let out the giggle that had been right under the surface, giggling into their kiss. Louis giggled, too, letting his legs fall back down to the ground.
Their eyes sparkled as they separated, still smiling wildly.
“So, how do we do this?”
“Well, I think we just go outside and do that,” Louis responded.
“Are we going to tell anyone before we go around, making out in public?”
Louis thought on that for a moment.
“How about just family and the other guys? So they’re prepared. But no one else. Let’s be rebels.”
Harry loved when Louis got mischievous and he quickly agreed.
The next day, they had two interviews in the morning, then some time off before their show. After the second interview, they snuck off on their own. The previous night, they had called or texted the people they wanted to know beforehand. Everyone encouraged them.
With only a bodyguard following silently a few feet behind them, they wandered down the street, separating themselves from the hotel. Once they were a few blocks away, Harry reached down and took Louis’ hand.
“I feel like I’m acting or something. This is so weird. Talk to me.”
“What would you like to talk about, dear?” Harry asked casually. “How this is totally normal behavior for boyfriends and how we’re actually doing it and how awesome it is?”
Louis laughed nudging Harry’s elbow with his own. He gripped the hand in his tighter. He heard the click of a camera nearby and ignored it.
“Boyfriends,” Louis sighed. “Do you even understand how happy I am that I can call you that again?”
“I think I can understand, yeah,” Harry smiled down at Louis.
“Harry! Louis!” They heard young female voices yelling and turned to see two girls running toward them.
“Can we get your autographs?” One asked excitedly.
“Sure, babe.” Harry released Louis’ hand to sign the photos the girls presented. Louis signed them as well, then they both thanked the girls and started to turn away, their hands finding each other again.
“Wait! Just one question!”
“Yeah?” Harry asked, turning back to the girls.
“Why are you holding hands?”
Harry and Louis smiled at each other before Harry responded.
“Because that’s what you do when you’re in love.”
He winked and they turned again, heading down the street, ignoring the girl’s excited stammering. After another couple of blocks, they stopped for a soda from a street vendor. They sat on a nearby bench and took turns sipping from the straw.
“Your sips aren’t even sips, Harry. They’re gulps. I don’t think this is fair.”
Harry’s eyes twinkled as he kept drinking. Louis reached up and quickly pulled the straw out of Harry’s mouth, mid-sip, so the soda squirted onto his face. Louis lost himself in a fit of laughter as Harry fake scowled. Once Louis had collected himself, he reached up, wiping the liquid away from Harry’s face with a napkin tenderly.
“Aw, babe.” He smiled, tears still brimming in his eyes from laughing so hard.
Harry finally smiled back, letting Louis wipe the last drops of liquid from his chin. In that moment, they felt the world slip away from them and it was only them. Louis leaned in and kissed Harry softly, smiling into his boyfriend’s lips.
“I love you,” he murmured into the kiss.
Harry pulled back just a bit, smiling.
“I love you, too, Lou.”
If they had been aware of the world around them, they would have heard cameras clicking nearby or noticed the fan standing just a few feet away, taking a video with her phone. But they weren’t and they didn’t because it didn’t matter anymore. Maybe those pictures and videos would be splashed all over the internet in a few moments, maybe they wouldn’t.
It just didn’t matter anymore.