MIND GAMES [One Direction fanfiction] - 13 and up

Harry Styles was just a normal teenage boy, a normal teenage boy who had a happy life and was quite content to live it the way nature had intended: completely normally, with no weird happenings or crazy adventures. Yet some things, it would seem, are destined to be, and it would appear that Harry’s fate was to be abducted by insane strangers intent on experimenting on him, and their four other hand-picked victims. Harry sometimes feels so alone, even when his best friends are only a few metres away - and he can’t seem to help but be afraid, because there are so very few things left in his life for him to control…

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40. Chapter forty - the end.

She screamed when she first saw him.

It was a reasonably justified reaction, bearing in mind that the last time Harry had set eyes on his mother he’d kissed her goodbye and then cheerfully headed off for college one perfectly average morning. A good couple of months later (at least three, he was estimating, if not four) he and Louis knocked on the front door, and when she answered it with puffy eyes and a kind of desolate dignity which suggested she’d been expecting someone else entirely, her shriek of response all but shattered Harry’s eardrums.

Her arms ended up around his neck, and she began sobbing almost incoherently against him, although he thought he managed to make out “you’re alive, thank God!” “been worried sick” “thought you’d died” and “where have you been, anything could have happened” before she started punching him.

“Ow!” Harry complained, “ow, ow! Mum, stop it!”

“Where – the – hell – have – you – been?” she panted furiously, beating his chest with her clenched fists. “I’ve had the police out looking! The whole country on alert! Nobody’s found you, nobody knew where you were, and so many other people have gone missing lately I didn’t know what to think – ” As if she had some kind of intuition exclusive to mums, her head snapped up, eyes trained on Louis and then narrowed as she said sharply, “who’s that?”

“Perhaps we should go inside,” Harry suggested gently, resting his hand on her arm.

“Has he been getting you into any funny business? Drugs, or something? I’ve heard all sorts of rumours, people have been saying –” Anne abruptly cut herself off, eyes widening in shock. Her dark hair was untidy, pushed back from her face, but she still looked nowhere near her actual age (at which Louis couldn’t begin to hazard a guess, but he was sure she didn’t look it). “Oh, goodness, it’s you,” she breathed. “You were on the news as well, you were one of the missing boys! Laurence something. Lance. Leo…Lewis!” She snapped her fingers, perplexed, frowning over the fact that she was unable to recall his name.

Harry corrected her, “Louis.” He didn’t have to say anything else: the whole word was bathed in adoration from the first syllable to the last, and as he said it he turned to place his other hand on Louis’ arm the way he had on his mother’s, except far more intimately. He almost seemed to glow, radiating love from his bright eyes, and Anne sucked in a breath and nodded slowly as things began falling into place.

“Let’s…not discuss this on the doorstep,” she said softly. “Come in, both of you…come in.”

Well, Louis could hardly fail to notice the appraising glance she gave him as he slid past her and over the threshold, surreptitiously holding onto Harry’s wrist. Her eyebrows were raised, her expression unfathomable, but he was most definitely being given the once-over. It would have made him feel uncomfortable, had he not experienced similar things many times before. But as Harry tugged him through into the living room and they both sat down on the sofa (Harry seemed eager to snuggle as closely up against him as possible, but Louis had experience with this kind of situation and wisely scooted a reasonable distance down the sofa, still holding Harry’s hand to show support but sitting far enough from him to keep Anne from pursing her lips) Louis could only focus on how the tips of Harry’s fingers kept lightly brushing the back of his hand, and how nice the sensation was.

Silence fell, and Louis enjoyed the opportunity to take in a couple of little pieces of Harry’s childhood. Pictures of a bluish-green eyed baby, and an adorable one at that, adorned the mantle piece, progressing through years’ worth of school photos showing Harry’s slow progression from cute baby to clumsy child to lanky, slightly gangly teen – the most recent picture was of Harry looking far neater than Louis had ever known him, with freshly trimmed hair, wearing a blazer and several necklaces and laughing uproariously right into the camera, which had Louis tingling all over with fondness. He found it especially sweet watching how Harry’s curls had thickened over the years, dimples deepening, and how he’d gone from boy to man even more so since Louis had met him. The Harry then and the Harry now were two different creatures.

Now-Harry was slender and angular with pointed, emphasized bones and shaggy, loose curls. Now-Harry had solemn eyes that could  become wicked and teasing in an instant, and his clothes hung off him since he’d lost weight in recent weeks. Now-Harry was firmer than he had been, and he met his mother’s gaze unflinchingly as he absently caressed one of Louis’ wrists. He’d grown, and that made Louis feel sad – how must it feel for the woman who’d watched her little boy grow so much more than this?

Louis was so proud of him, though. So, so proud. Like he was bursting at the seams. Harry’s mother must have been all but overflowing with pride every time she looked at him. Louis gave Harry’s knee a reassuring squeeze.

Anne went straight to the point: her no-nonsense approach was refreshing, if a little overwhelming; it left Harry struggling for an answer. “Why did you leave, Harry?”

He stuttered instantly, thrown off by the suddenness of her approach. “I – I never…never, I –”

“Was it because of him?” She glanced over at Louis. “Did you think I’d be angry? Because Harry, you’re my son, and whoever makes you happy…is your business, not mine. Did you leave here so that you could be with him?”

“No!” said Harry, stunned.

“I would have understood, you know. Would it be so hard to pick up the phone? Drop a text? Write a postcard, even? Just so I’d have known you were alive! It’s been so frustrating, looking for you and never finding a thing. Do you remember those documentaries we used to watch on Wednesday nights, on channel ten?”

Dumbfounded, Harry nodded. How could he forget? It was a tradition of theirs. Ready meals on trays in their laps, going cold as they sat staring at the TV, slack-jawed with awe, or chattered their way through several hours’ worth of television. Their bonding time, if you will.

“All those shows we used to watch, where children had been abducted, and I always used to say, ‘those poor mothers and fathers must be going spare! How must it feel to not know where your baby is, whether they’re even still alive? How do they stand it? How awful would it be?’ And now I know.” Shaky breath. “It’s the absolute worst feeling in the world.”

“Oh, God, Mum, I’m so – I never meant – I wouldn’t have –” Harry’s hand flew to his mouth.

“We used to trust each other, sweetheart, you and I. We’d talk about everything. But these past few months I’ve started wondering whether I really know who you are at all. I couldn’t understand how you could leave me like that! We were always so close…”

To Louis’ shock, Harry hurled himself off the sofa (almost dragging Louis with him), threw his arms around his mother and hugged her fiercely.

“Mum, it wasn’t like that!” he insisted, “I never left because of anything you did!”

“Why, then, Harry? What happened to make you think you couldn’t stay?”

There was a pause whilst Harry deliberated over which lie he ought to tell, and Louis wondered whether he was stuck and needed helping out.

“I needed to sort my head out,” was Harry’s excuse, and it was a good job that the lie was muffled into her shoulder so that the uncertain, false note to it was a lot less obvious. “I’d…well, I started feeling things that I wasn’t so sure about, and…I’ve never thought about guys in that way before. It really mixed me up. So I took off for a bit so I could sort myself out, I didn’t think to tell you. And that’s how I met Louis.” Lifting his head off her shoulder, he looked helplessly over at Louis and raised his eyebrows, clearly asking for some help.

Louis took over smoothly, “Yeah, we met outside this – hostel – one night and got talking, and I guess things kind of…escalated. He needed someone to confide in who’d – um, been in the same situation before, I think – and then…well, you know how it is.” He hoped she didn’t notice the hitches as he struggled to come up with a plausible story. Wandering over to them, he let his fingertips trail down Harry’s arm, carefully holding him by the elbow and feeling Harry relax slightly at his touch.

“Could you not have phoned?” She directed this question at Harry, but Louis skilfully intercepted it.

“Ah. That was my fault. I didn’t think to steer clear of some of the, um…less reputable areas of town. Cheaper accommodation and less trustworthy companions come somewhat hand in hand, unfortunately, and someone must have had their hands in our pockets when we weren’t looking. Needless to say we both found ourselves phoneless and somewhat wallet-less only a week or so after we met, which made contacting people somewhat…difficult.”

Harry stared admiringly at him.

Begrudgingly, Anne nodded. “I take it you haven’t called upon your own parents first, have you?”

“No,” admitted Louis sheepishly, ruffling his hair up at the back.

Her eyes softened a little. “There’s a phone in the hallway. Go and call them – they must be worried sick. Tell them they can come over, if they like; the more the merrier, and I don’t think either of us two have any intention of letting my son out of their sight.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Styles,” Louis said gratefully, and then he bolted into the hallway to go and ring his mother.

“I know that was all fabrication, by the way, but I don’t suppose either of you have any intention of telling me where you’ve actually been for the last three months, or how you actually met, so I suppose I’ll have to swallow my curiosity and lump it,” Anne said. “But I can see that boy cares a lot about you, Harry, and vice versa, so as long as you don’t take off again, I’ll keep my nose well out.”

Harry had jumped in horror at the beginning of her little speech, but by the end of it he was limp with relief. “You know I’d explain if I could.”

 “So I would hope, but you never know…he seems like a nice enough lad, Harry, even if his tongue is a little too clever for my liking. I get the feeling that he’s a very capable liar; I’d watch out for that if I were you. Other than that…you seem happy enough. I’m glad you came home.”

“So am I.” Harry squeezed her arm, his eyes fixed on the silhouette of Louis that he could just about see in the light of the hallway, gabbling excitedly down the phone to his mum (and if his voice wobbled slightly and he sounded somewhat tearful, then Harry just found it all the more sweet). “Thanks, mum.”

~*~

He’d been stroking Harry’s hair for so long that the motion had become automatic, and his fingers slowly smoothed down the disarray of unruly curls which sprang back into place the moment he lifted his hand, over and over again, listening to Harry’s breathing rumbling contentedly underneath him, like a purring cat. It was a good job that Harry was so long and lanky and had such an enormous bed, because with the two of them crammed into it, there was little room as there was for any space between them – not that they would have wanted any. Harry was warm against him, and his hair was soft and skin silky smooth, and Louis was very much enjoying the solid heat of him because it meant that he wasn’t going anywhere.

They were supposed to be asleep. When Jay and Anne had popped their heads around the door about ten minutes ago to check that their sons were both safely cuddled up where they were supposed to be and hadn’t taken off again, Louis liked to think they’d done an excellent job of feigning sleep. Wearing a pair of Harry’s old flannel pyjamas from a year or so ago (they fitted him reasonably well; back then Harry would have been around his height) and with his hair fluffy, and with Harry similarly dressed in tartan pyjamas, lolling against him, they’d looked the picture of exhausted innocence.

Of course, that had all changed the moment the door clicked safely closed and they sprang back into a fierce embrace, lips locked, exchanging almost frantic kisses like their lives depended on it. After all, there was a lot of lost time to make up for.

Things had relaxed a fair bit now, of course; Louis really was quite tired, as was Harry, and they were both snuggled up together enjoying the sensation of being quite so close. There were things that needed to be done, another night when there were less members of the Tomlinson family holed up on the sofa or the floor or in the bathroom and various other places, having cheerfully invaded the Styles household much like Louis had invaded Harry’s bed (Anne had taken it all with remarkably good grace, called for a pizza and organized haphazard beds for everyone, since Jay and her family refused to leave without Louis and Louis was equally adamant that he wasn’t going anywhere). But right now…cuddling was nice, and cuddling was safe, and Harry was committing Louis’ smell to memory even better than he already had, his head resting on Louis’ chest while Louis lovingly smoothed his curls down against his head.

Lazily, Harry turned his head and craned his neck a little to steal another kiss, and they both smiled a little as their lips grazed against each other. Louis cupped his hand around Harry’s neck as if to pull him closer, but he didn’t deepen the kiss. Tonight he was tired.

“Do you think the other boys are okay?” Harry asked. When he was tired, his voice was lower and thicker and made Louis shiver as it rumbled so closely to his ear.

“’Course. Knowing Niall, he’s probably in a similarly compromising position to ours with that bloody sheep,” Louis snickered.

They both choked with laughter, and one of Harry’s large hands quickly clamped down over Louis’ mouth to stifle his explosive laughter. “Shut up, idiot! We’ll get split up if we don’t keep it down! Mum won’t let us wake anyone else up and stay in the same room for long.”

“She couldn’t make me move an inch from where I am right now,” promised Louis, pulling Harry’s hand away from his mouth.

“You don’t know my mother.”

“Nah, I could take her. She’ll never get past –” Louis automatically flexed his fingers, then frowned in surprise when, obviously, nothing happened. “Oh.” He flexed them again, perplexed, and then his sleepy brain seemed to reawaken, something stirring as he remembered. “Yeah, okay, forget that. Slipped my mind for a second…”

Harry’s fingers closed around the fabric of his pyjama bottoms, tightening and pulling them taut around Louis’ thigh. “Louis…”

“Oh, Harry, it’s been second nature to me for months, for God’s sake; a slight memory lapse is hardly unexpected, given the circumstances. I’m not about to get all depressed over it. I’m fine.”

“But –”

“But nothing.” Louis grabbed his hand and squeezed it tightly. “I’m not getting all bogged down in complications and miseries and what-ifs. That’s totally not me. I could do it, now I can’t, and that’s all there is to it. Now shush.”

Before the silence had been comfortable; now it was filled with Harry’s guilt and Louis’ determination that Harry was not going to blame himself, and they had both stiffened so that the position that had before been easy and natural now felt forced and kind of awkward. Harry shifted around to try and get back into the same old comfy position they’d been in before, but he couldn’t quite manage it now that they’d both gone so still.

“My fault,” Harry mumbled.

“No,” Louis said, “my decision.”

“I forced you to make it.”

“If I recall, you were the one telling me not to.”

“If I hadn’t –”

No,” Louis growled, and Harry found himself being unceremoniously shoved off Louis’ lap, out of bed and onto the floor with a thump. He was so shocked at being thrown so rudely into the cold air and onto the ground that Louis would have laughed at him had he been less irritated by his insistence that Louis had to be emotionally destroyed over a decision that he himself had made, and perfectly easily, too. Glaring down at him, Louis folded his arms across his chest.

Harry blinked slowly at him. He had landed flat on his back and was staring up at Louis with a combination of surprise and acceptance, and as Louis watched, he swallowed. “Well.” Slowly, he sat up. “I guess I deserved that.”

“Yeah, you did,” Louis agreed shortly. “You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me, you fucker, so stop being all miserable and c’mere.” He held out his arms.

Cautiously, Harry picked himself up off the floor and slid back into bed, fitting easily into Louis’ arms. They both lay on their sides, facing each other, the tips of their noses touching, and Louis draped an arm over his waist as he kissed him on the corner of his mouth. Harry’s eyes fluttered closed and he melted into the kiss, quick and light as it was, and they snuggled more closely to each other, like it was another night spent in that draughty old building the first time they’d shared a bed, and cuddling up together was an instinct for self-preservation and they had to do it to keep warm.

“I don’t regret my choice for an instant,” Louis told him slowly, like he was talking to an idiot. (In all fairness, in his opinion he kind of was; he still couldn’t believe Harry hadn’t caught on to this already.) “I love you, so, so much. You’ve changed my life. These past few months…I’d never have gotten through them without you. I love all of the boys, and sure, I’ll miss them. I’d have given up my powers to be with them, you know that, right? Not because I feel for them in that way, but because if there’s one thing that terrifies me, it’s being alone…you came to me when I’d only been in that place for three days, and you thought I was insane, do you remember? I think if I’d been alone any longer, I actually would have been…and now, the thought of being by myself even for five minutes scares the shit out of me. Especially without you. You came when I needed you most, and when you left…”

How could he explain this? How could he explain that Harry had come to him and been the light to his darkness, a candle in a pitch black nightmare, and when he’d gone away again, it was like the candle had been blown out? How he’d been afraid that the kind of sparks needed to relight that candle could only be found in Harry’s eyes?

“You’re so beautiful,” Harry breathed, interrupting Louis’ mini-epiphany. “Fuck! Look at you.” He carefully caressed Louis’ cheek with an unsteady hand, and his eyes were wide (pupils blown out, but Louis pretended not to notice that) as he took in every centimetre of Louis’ face. “What did I ever do to deserve you? Someone was smiling down on me when they brought us together, you know.”

Yeah, Louis was tempted to joke. And he had a bloody great stick in his hand and he was smashing you over the head with it to knock you out and kidnap you. But he didn’t think it was an appropriate time for jokes. Shame. That was quite a good one – if somewhat tasteless.“Funny, because that’s what I was thinking about you…that and about how lucky we’ve both been…how close I came to losing you. You’re incredible, are you aware of this fact?”

“What a shame it is that there are quite so many people within such close proximity to us…walls may not have ears, but little girls do. Otherwise you would not be talking right now.” His eyes glittered. “Your mouth would be somewhat occupied with, shall we say…other things?”

Weakly, Louis swallowed. “Perhaps you could have kept that to yourself…rather than taunting me in this way, Styles; I won’t get a wink of sleep from now on, I hope you realize.”

“I know. That was my plan.” And Louis hadn’t thought it was possible, but Harry’s grin grew even wider.

~*~

“We really are going to have to get a place of our own, you know.”

It wasn’t the first time Louis had brought this up, and Harry was determined not to appeartoo eager, but he was quite glad that Lou had mentioned it. Their current living arrangement wasn’t the best – yo-yoing between Jay and Anne’s respective houses, living in one or the other of their beds. Currently they were squashed up in Louis’ bed at Jay’s, crammed together like baked beans in a tin, although at least the twins had vacated the bed by now and left them with a little more breathing room. Harry’s head was resting on Louis’ shoulder, and Louis’ folded hands lay in Harry’s lap. It was a nice, if a little warm setup.

“I know,” Harry sighed, because if the shower rotor wasn’t bad enough and the fact that even accommodating for how clingy they both were, neither of their beds were built for two, and the uncomfortable situation of having to ask their mothers to empty the house whenever they wanted some alone time, the constant presence of demanding siblings and the fierce protectiveness of their mothers wasn’t enough to make Harry wish they were anywhere but there, he didn’t know what was. “Soon, Lou. I’ll get a job or something, save up for a while, and we’ll get our own little place.”

“Well. We could do that.” Instantly, Harry got the feeling that Louis knew something he didn’t. “Or we could use the lovely cheque I got through the post this morning, in both of our names, with ‘a little compensation’ written on the back in some posh twat’s loopy writing.”

That made Harry sit up straight and pay attention, and no mistake. “What?! Compensation? How much for?”

“Twenty.”

“Oh.” Disappointed, Harry sank back into Louis’ arms. “Well that’s a bit naff. After all we went through –”

“Thousand.”

Harry choked. “W-what did you say?”

“Twenty thousand pounds.”

“You’re joking.”

“I’m not.”

“Twenty thousand pounds?”

“Exactly that.”

“Made payable to us?”

“Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson, yep.”

“We’ve got twenty thousand fucking pounds?”

“Well, I would have demanded twice that if it were down to me,” Louis sniffed, “the food they gave us at that hospital was awful.” But a grin had crept across his face.

“Christ.” Harry had sat bolt upright; now he collapsed against the pillows – and against Louis – completely stunned and more than a little ecstatic. It was absolutely surreal. “Christ. Twenty thousand pounds. The amount of money that man has must be insane. Twenty thousand pounds.”

“Well, it should be enough to buy us a little flat, don’t you think? Something modest, something small. Something very us. I’ve had my eye on a couple of little places; maybe we could go for a scout around…it’s not like we need anything much. One-bedroom flat with a decent kitchen, a living room, a fair-sized bathroom. Sound good?”

“Sounds mental,” Harry said, “but absolutely brilliant.” He turned, grabbed Louis’ chin and kissed him dazedly right on the mouth. “God. Our own place.”

Louis dreamily lolled back against the headboard, his Spiderman duvet crinkling. “No twins. No teenage girls. No mums. Just us! Sounds like heaven.”

“Was it worth it, do you think? All we went through? If we had a choice, would you go back and change it all? Stop yourself being abducted that time?”

“Nah,” said Louis quietly. “Never. I got you out of it, didn’t I? That’s worth anything.”

Harry’s answering smile was small, but it lit up the whole room. “I love you, Louis.”

Louis kissed him on the forehead. “I love you too.”

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