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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29. Chapter twentynine.

Lying flat on his back on the kitchen table, Louis stared gloomily up at the ceiling, flicking force field after force field up at the lightbulb on the ceiling, making it swing wildly back and forth every time he hit it, which was nine times out of ten. He knew that if he wasn’t careful then it could smash and shower him with burning hot glass and bits of lightbulb filament, but he was too grumpy, angry and confused to care much about that.

He knew he’d kind of overreacted – it didn’t take a genius to work it out. After all, if Harry had developed a somewhat misguided crush on him, it wasn’t hard to see why. They were close, Louis was an older figure for him to look up to. And it wasn’t as if Harry wasn’t attractive, wasn’t as if Louis hadn’t encouraged him, not that he was keen to admit it. He liked Harry a hell of a lot – more than he’d ever realized he would. The other boys were like brothers to him, but Harry was something separate from that…secretly, he always thought of them as ‘Harry and the boys’ rather than just ‘the boys’ in general. In fact, he’d dreamt about being that close to Harry, as close as it turned out that they had been, maybe even closer than that, and it made him feel irritated that Harry had been… almost scared of him. Afraid to admit how he felt, anyway. Still, Louis was beginning to realize that maybe it was justified; he hadn’t exactly reacted particularly well to it.

He could have punched himself. It took a lot of courage to admit to yourself that you had feelings for someone of the same gender; he knew that better than anyone. Ten times more courage than that to admit it to someone else, especially the person in question. And what had he done? He’d been vicious, unkind, hadn’t even attempted to see things from Harry’s point of view. Empathy had been the last thing on his mind. When Louis had come out, his whole family had been lovely to him, and his friends had been ridiculously supportive, and basically as coming out went, it was one of the easiest experiences he’d ever heard of anyone having. In fact, the best thing about it had probably been that they’d gotten over it so quickly – a hug, a pat on the back, a promise that he was still the same Lou to them, and then that was it; everything went back to how it had been.

But Harry? Louis had pushed him away. He had called him names and said he was disgusting and done all of the things that, if his parents had done to him, would have destroyed him. Louis didn’t think he’d ever hated anyone more in that moment than he hated himself.

Seeing as the yells had ceased, Zayn poked his head around the doorframe and anxiously scanned the room. If he was surprised to see Louis lying flat on his back on the table hurling balls of glimmering violet energy at the light fittings, he didn’t show it. Sauntering across the room, he pulled up a chair, wincing apologetically as it scraped against the floor, and took a seat. For a few minutes, he watched Louis irritably flicking force field after force field towards the ceiling without commenting, but eventually he licked his lips and cautiously broached the subject of the argument which had just rather loudly taken place.

“Where’s Harry?”

Without taking his gaze off the light bulb, Louis sourly launched another glittering orb skywards, listening to the dull thunk as each one collided with it and sent it wildly swinging all over the place. “Out.” THUNK. THUNK. THUNK.

“And when is he coming back?”

Louis shrugged; no easy feat, bearing in mind that he was lying down. “How should I know?” THUNK. THUNK.

“He’s your best friend, Louis.” Zayn’s tone was calm and reasonable, and Louis sensed that the Bradford boy was about to talk him into something – and regardless of how much of a good idea it was, if there was one thing that Louis despised it was being talked into things. He liked to make his own decisions, thank you very much.

“Is he?” THUNK.

“You know he is. Don’t be a prat, Lou. Harry handled the situation badly, but you could have been a bit more reasonable about it. You said some pretty disgusting things to him, you know.”

“Yeah, well, he did some pretty disgusting things to me. I guess we’re even.” THUNK-THUNK-THUNK-THUNK-THU-THUNK! In his guilt and annoyance, Louis had sent a few too many bubbles up at once and several of them collided with each other, thudding loudly, then ricocheting off each other and flying off in opposite directions. They dissipated before any damage could be done, but Zayn still flinched anyway – one of them had come within rather uncomfortable proximity of his head.

“You’re a real arse sometimes, you know that?” demanded Zayn angrily.

Rolling his eyes, Louis paused before creating the next field and met his gaze head on. “I had heard the rumour. You’re out of your depth, mate; you won’t shame me into anything. Especially not by being rude. Why don’t you give it up and go and get Liam? He’s so much better at the puppy eyes.” Glueing his eyes back to the ceiling, he flexed his fingers in readiness.

Scowling, Zayn gave him a look. The kind of look which told him that he was decidedly unimpressed by both Louis’ attitude and his unkindness. “Liam passed out on the couch because yours and Harry’s futures were swinging so wildly. I don’t think any of us know quite how his powers can affect him. With so many possibilities, his head’s all over the place, it’s got to be painful. He wasn’t making much sense, actually, but he seemed to be fluctuating between gay porn and a slideshow of your life of misery and loneliness without the love of your life before the sound of you two having a domestic shredded his head up and he fainted. Eithne is with him now and Niall’s keeping a safe distance, because he’s burning up, but he’s not really in a fit state to lecture you, if you know what I mean.” He folded his arms.

At the words ‘gay porn’ Louis had turned so pink that he was practically purple. “What – what do you mean, gay porn?” he spluttered, then wished he hadn’t asked.

“You want me to spell it out? Because he was pretty graphic, I don’t think he can help himself sometimes. He walks in on you and Harry’s little gay love nest in a room somewhere, he didn’t seem to be paying much attention to the decor, and now he’s pretty much scarred for life.”

“Are you sure that’s the future and not the past that he’s seeing?” snapped Louis. “Harry and I’s ‘gay love nests’ are completely in the past thank you very much, and completely involuntary on my part, I think you’ll find.”

“Completely?

Completely,” Louis said through gritted teeth.

~*~

Completely,” Harry said through gritted teeth.

Deino raised a finely plucked eyebrow, tucking a strand of silky black hair behind her ear and leaning heavily on her left leg, almost seeming to mock him with her gaze alone. He wanted to slap that stupid look off her unattractive (to him, anyway) face. But he forced composure onto his face as she turned to Cheren and twittered irritatingly, “He says he’s through with his little chums, boys; that’s what he says. He’s come over to…the dark side.” How was her voice so silky and seductive, when it was so whiny and pathetic? “He says he’s completely sure.”

“Someone’s had a change of heart. Only yesterday, you were all ‘we probably ought to leave’and getting all defensive over your boyfriend, and now you’ve come crawling to us and had us order you a taxi to your location, and here you are, coming and practically offering yourself to us as a…what? A slave of some sort?” Cheren snorted. “How naive do you think we are? Do you really expect us to fall for that? You’ve tried to throw us off guard and the moment we start trusting you, your little gang will pop up and attack us. I know how this works. You’re the bait.” He seemed inordinately pleased with himself for coming to this conclusion.

“Yeah, if only that were true,” replied Harry stiffly, trying very hard not to let his voice crack. Okay, so he was falling apart from the inside, but he didn’t need to let the three most rude and obnoxious people he’d ever met know that. Somehow, he didn’t fancy being mocked. “I’m not with my ‘little gang’ any more. I’m not welcome. So take your theory and shove it up your arse, and then tell me; do you want me, or not?”

All three of them looked at him suspiciously, although Deino scrunched up her face so badly that Harry was surprised she didn’t tear several facial muscles, and he was also surprised that none of the other guys in the room were at all creeped out by her odd expression. Clearly, they had told the truth; they were completely smitten with her, as all the other boys had been. As all the people in the room who hadn’t been irrevocably in love with someone else had been.

Harry had worked it out fairly quickly, really. He never looked at her twice because his world was already lit by a candle that blazed brighter than the sun, blinding him so that not only could he never look at anyone else, but he also struggled to look at Louis himself. He couldn’t fall in love with someone else when his head was already filled with longing and adoration for a man who apparently now hated him. It hurt, but it felt good to know that although his love for Louis had been shunned and was clearly unwanted, it was good for something. It gave him immunity now, and it had given him immunity before, helping him to rescue Louis and everyone else without being even slightly distracted. With it, he had been able to make sure that nothing happened to Louis, and hopefully could keep doing so if he nudged them away from his friends every time their paths threatened to coincide. With Liam helping the others to steer clear, and Harry making sure that they would never come within half a mile of each other, he was confident that his ridiculous, rejected, apparently useless love for Louis was good for one thing, at least: keeping Louis safe. That was all he asked of it, the only favour he needed. And no matter how much it hurt, or how many times his heart was punched to smithereens, as long as Louis was always safe, he wouldn’t complain.

Cheren, who was quite clearly the self-appointed leader of the group, didn’t look at all certain. His dark eyes narrowed and he began walking slowly up and down the room with a contemplative look on his face. The other two watched him almost obsessively, as if they would help him if they stared at him for a while. It was almost pitiful how much they depended on him.

Then again, Harry thought, was he in any position to judge? Look at how dependent he was on Louis.

It hurt to think about that; would he ever see Louis again? If he did, how much would Louis hate him? Would the other boys be disgusted as well – would they turn up their noses and turn their backs and walk away from the freak who forced his best friend to kiss him in the dead of night, and wiped his memory clean afterwards like a blackboard that he’d scribbled on in chalk?

He didn’t think Niall would hate him; Niall was incapable of hating anyone. He was a bundle of fluffy stuff and laughter and smiles and carelessness, one of those rare people who truly possessed the amazing quality of not giving a damn about anything. If it had come to a vote over whether he should stay or go, Harry was reasonably certain that Niall would have voted for him to stay. And then hugged him afterwards.

Liam wouldn’t hate him either. He was too reasonable, and too caring to turn his back on anyone, no matter what they’d done. Besides, Liam knew how much he loved Louis; he’d seen them together in the future, after all. Whether or not that would happen now was debatable, but Liam had seen it, and he hadn’t seemed disgusted – surprised, yes, and maybe a little embarrassed to have seen something quite so intimate, but he hadn’t found it weird or creepy like Louis had. Harry would have had Liam on his side, too.

He wasn’t completely sure about Zayn. For the sake of both friendship and loyalty, he didn’t think Zayn would abandon him either, but that loyalty belonged to Louis as well, and for that reason Harry wasn’t sure whether Zayn might be cool towards him, at least, if not blatantly disapproving. Unfaltering loyalty was one of Zayn’s best – and worst – qualities. As for Eithne, she would side with Zayn; he was the only one who she knew well enough to make a proper judgement, so she would most likely decide that his opinions were the right ones. Other than that, she might be a little prejudiced against Harry because of her mistrust of someone who could twist people’s perceptions and tamper in their thoughts, so there was a possibility that she would take Louis’ side.

Honestly, Louis was the only one he really cared about, and the only one he was completely sure of. Louis hated him. And that had a lump in his throat and tears in his eyes and he fiddled with the hem of his black hoodie and crushed the material in his fist to release some of the tension building inside of him.

Stepping forwards, Felix looked him up and down, attempting to seem imposing like his brother. The attempt fell rather flat, but he seemed satisfied with himself as he raised his eyebrows so high that they almost disappeared into his hair, hands shoved into his pockets, giving Harry a smug kind of look. Cheren ignored his brother and stepped forwards even further, in front of him, putting the disgruntled boy firmly in his place. The meaning couldn’t have been clearer: Cheren was in charge.

“How do we know we can trust you? We can’t control you. You’re the one who could control us! If you think we’re going to trust you, then you must think we’re incredibly stupid.”

“Oh, trust me,” Harry said dryly, “I do.” After a couple of outrage-filled seconds, he continued (thoroughly enjoying their horrified expressions) “but I also think that you need me, and therefore, we’re going to make a deal. Am I right, or am I right?”

~*~

Liam’s head was all over the place, although obviously not in the literal sense, as his head was in one piece and not in bits on the floor. Basically, he was struggling to see straight through the double vision caused by the things he was seeing clumsily overlaid over reality, and he still wasn’t sure whether his breakfast was going to be making some sort of reappearance before all too long.

Ever since Harry’s disappearance the night before, and since Zayn’s attempt to reason with Louis hadn’t gone quite as well as anyone had hoped, Liam’s powers had been spiralling out of control. He’d been alternating between hospital death-bed scenes to romantic getaways in the moonlight, desperate apologies, Louis sobbing over a bloodstained head of limp, straggly curls that bore an uncomfortably uncanny resemblance to Harry, and a fat man with silver-flecked scrubbing brush bristles dotted unevenly on his head that must have been his hair – oh, and it had all been interspersed with the odd flash of Zayn and Eithne’s wedding and an extremely fit girl with wildly curly hair who was walking – well, dancing, to be precise – on the surface of a river, while he watched in awe. (Danielle, future girlfriend, fiancé, wife  – wedding; 30th October 2023, three kids; Harvey, Ella and Destiny, four dogs, used to work in IT sales, will be unemployed from the day I meet her). He was having a few problems finding out exactlyhow they would meet, despite remembering their proposal, what he got her for her thirtieth birthday and that her favourite colour was aquamarine, but he didn’t mind that so much – it was nice to have some surprises in store, at least.

The point was that he was struggling to get anything precise; Harry’s future, and therefore all of theirs, was a complicated and confusing thing. It was caught in the balance, in utter turmoil; from what he could tell, Harry was in the process of making a decision that would strongly impact all of them, and Liam got the kind of uneasy, foreboding feeling that however it turned out, none of them were particularly going to like it. Especially Harry himself.

Liam felt decidedly sick; his stomach gave another nasty lurch, like he’d been turned upside down. If he managed to hang on to anything he’d eaten within the last twenty-four hours, it would be an absolute miracle. Clinging to the arm of the sofa, he gasped for breath, feeling sweat break out on his forehead, and wiped it away with the back of his hand, struggling to focus. He was literally squinting into thin air, trying to get a clear picture, even though what he could see was fuzzy and imprecise. At the moment, the kind of images he was getting was about as reliable as the weather forecast – as in, most likely completely wrong. The decision was hanging in the balance, and so was he – stuck in limbo, waiting for something definite that would send the future clear again, like a flawless, glassy, untouched pond that was perfectly easy to read and that he could examine at leisure and absorb all of the details without feeling an overwhelming urge to throw up. Liam’s patience was waning, but there was little he could do about it other than grimly wait for the confusion to pass.

And all of a sudden, just like that, something clicked. The decision was made. And Liam was no longer grappling with nausea; he was feeling sick with dread instead.

Groaning, he hauled himself off the sofa, causing Niall, who’d been worriedly watching from the other side of the room, to jump up in alarm and hurry towards him, offering him a supportive arm. Gratefully, Liam grabbed Niall’s bicep in a painful death-grip and then began staggering towards the door, using the blond boy as a makeshift crutch. Shocked, Niall began attempting to interrogate him, trying to fight through the haze of dread and confusion into the mess that was Liam’s world.

“Li, are you all right? Come on, you should probably sit down, you don’t look good –”

“Louis.” Moaning, Liam raked a shaking hand through his hair and pushed it off his sweaty forehead. “I need to speak…to Louis.”

“L-Louis – right – OI, LOUIS!” Niall roared, making Liam wince. “Oh, God – sorry! Sorry! LOUIS, GET IN HERE RIGHT NOW, WE’VE GOT A PROBLEM – shit, sorry, Liam,” he wailed, “I’m awful at this, I’m so sorry –”

Still, his ridiculously loud yell at least served the purpose of getting everyone’s attention; when Louis came crashing through the living room doorway, Zayn and Eithne were hot on his heels, and everyone pretended not to notice that Zayn’s usually meticulously styled hair was destroyed, after having slender fingers twisting in it, and Eithne’s lipstick was smudged right across her pale left cheek. Grabbing Liam by the shoulders, Louis met his blank, unfocused gaze head on, a little fearful of the bleary-eyed, sweaty, disoriented state of his friend, who looked somewhat deranged with a zoned out expression on his face and panic in his otherwise vacant eyes.

“What’s going on, Liam?” he demanded urgently. “What did you see?”

Brown eyes flickering as he watched something that nobody else could see, Liam gave a little whimpering cry. “No, no, don’t do that, don’t do that, Harry, don’t do that –”

The sound of Harry’s name had a fist wrapping around Louis’ heart and squeezing it like a tomato, crushing and constricting so that he could almost feel the life oozing out of him in horror, but he outwardly forced an aura of calmness over himself, even though his hands started shaking where they held Liam’s broad shoulders. “Liam, come on, Liam, Liam, come on, focus, okay? I need you to focus on me. Look at me, Liam, look at me.” His tone sharpened as he stared fiercely into the depths of Liam’s confused caramel and chocolate eyes. “Liam. Tell me what you can see. Just concentrate, and then tell me.”

A shuddering breath forced its way through Liam’s teeth as he struggled to drag himself out of the confusion inside his head and back into the real world. “He’s…striking up some sort of deal with… them. He’ll work with them; do what they say…manipulate people’s minds whenever they tell him to. And it’ll hurt him…God, it’ll hurt him.”

Horrified, Louis stared at him in utter shock, already instinctively beginning to deny it; his head was shaking back and forth in refusal. He couldn’t understand, couldn’t believe that Harry would betray them in that way. His Harry, walk out of his unforgiving arms and straight into the arms of the enemy? He refused to believe it. “No. No, you’re wrong. Harry wouldn’t do that, Harry would never do that! Not to us; he could never betray us, he couldn’t just turn around and stab us in the back! Look again, Liam,” he demanded, “do it now, and then tell me that you’re making this up, because our Harry wouldn’t do that. Not my Harry.”

“That’s what I can see,” Liam said stubbornly, “the only thing I can see, so that is definitely going to happen. I told you some things are fixed, and this is one of them. Harry’s going to walk straight up to those people and ask to join them, and then he’s going to do everything they tell him to and never look back, because he thinks that’s the best way to protect us. He thinks if he can get them on his side, or make them think that he’s on theirs, he can keep them away.” He licked his lips. “And then they’re going to try and make him do too much. You saw how he was yesterday – he’ll be worse than that, and they’ll never stop, because they don’t care. They’ll keep pushing him and pushing him until he snaps.”

Louis shoved him away, unable to cope with even the thought of it – Harry had fled because he thought Louis hated him, and even now he was throwing his life away to protect him, to protect them all. It made his whole chest radiate with pain to even think of it, and he closed his eyes so he didn’t have to see them all staring accusingly at him…so he didn’t have to acknowledge that he deserved every disappointed look that they were giving him.

Harry was gone, and it was his fault.

He’d never even had the chance to say the words that he’d been fighting to keep inside for weeks, the words that Harry had desperately said to him and that he’d rejected in anger, thrown back in Harry’s face like they were less than nothing. The words that he’d barely even acknowledged, much less paid attention to. They’d punched an enormous hole right through him and he’d forced himself not to listen because he was so betrayed, so angry, so helpless,and so inadequate too, because maybe Harry had been dishonest, maybe he had sneaked around and kept things from him and gone entirely the wrong way about everything, but at least he’d had the courage to act in some way, even if it perhaps hadn’t been ideal. Louis had just stayed silent, too afraid to even try in case he screwed up.

Now he had screwed up in the worst way possible and driven away the most beautiful man he’d ever met – and despite all of the accusations, the shouting, the hatred that Louis had plastered onto his face in defence because he was so afraid of how he felt…despite all of that, Harry was still hiding on the sidelines, quietly struggling to keep him safe even at risk to himself. Even after everything Louis had done.

Louis was in love with him, and he’d been too naive, too cowardly, too pathetic to see it. It was as if a cloud had been lifted from his vision and now he could see better than ever that Harry was the most incredible person he’d ever met.

“They’ll never break him,” he said softly. His eyes were open, but they were glued to the floor, their icy blue gaze practically burning holes into the carpet as he stared at the ground without blinking. “They’ll never even get close. They’ll have to break me first – and I think they’ll find that I’m not at all easy to break.”

~*~

“So we’re agreed, then? That you now answer to us, all of us, and only us.” Cheren’s dark eyes roved over his face, clearly enjoying the new hold he would soon have over Harry. There was a kind of greed in his expression, lust for power, and some other kind of malevolence in his black irises that Harry could only rather dramatically describe as evil. Idly, he wondered whether the boy’s eyes were the same colour as his heart. Holding out his hand for Harry to shake, Cheren raised his eyebrows challengingly. “Do we have a deal?”

Harry stared at the boy’s long, bony hand for a few seconds, feeling his vision blur and his throat begin to ache as he thought of a hand that he would far rather be holding – lithe, tanned, smaller than his own, almost delicate in comparison and pleasantly warm. A hand that he wished he could take and get a firm grip on and hold onto for the rest of his life. And as those unpleasant eyes burned into him, he wondered if he could actually stand to do this; to spend the foreseeable future with three people he despised and never see anyone he loved or even cared about ever again, obeying their commands and basically being their slave, and all to ensure the safety and wellbeing of a man who hated him.

But it wasn’t just Louis; it was his friends, too. And even if it hadn’t been, he knew deep down that he would happily do it ten thousand times over without a second’s regret if he had to. In fact, knowing that what he was doing kept Louis out of the filthy clutches of three of the most foul people he’d ever known, he could carry out their orders with a smile on his face, and if it killed him, he would die happy. They would lay his dead body on some rubbish tip somewhere, and leave it there, and there would still be a smile on his face. Because everything he did, he did for Louis. And he would do it for the rest of his life and be glad.

“Yeah,” Harry said quietly, taking his icy white hand and shaking it briskly. Even next to him, Cheren was astonishingly pale; unnaturally so; beside Harry’s pale skin, he looked practically dead. Meeting his hard stare, Harry told him resolutely, “we have a deal.” 

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