Smoke & Mirrors

Smoke and Mirrors: a metaphor for a deceptive, fraudulent or insubstantial explanation or description.
Every time anyone joked about Louis and Harry’s close bond, calling them ‘boyfriends’ or whatnot, it caused a fluttering feeling in the pit of Harry’s stomach. He wasn’t sure what it meant. He hadn’t really thought of Louis too much in a romantic sense. They were mates – really good mates. But there was something about it. Harry loved Louis almost more than he loved any other human being on the planet. He loved him so much. They were the best of friends. Harry supposed the feeling derived from that. He wasn’t sure. He just knew he probably wouldn’t make it in life without Louis in it.

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2. 02

It was no surprise to Harry that Louis had Eleanor flown out to be with him no less than a week after what happened. He tried not to take it personally, but no matter how optimistic he was about it, he always found fault in himself.

Harry always hated when Eleanor came on the road, and it wasn’t because he disliked her, it was because she was the one taking up Louis’ time. She was the one attached to his hip, not him. Harry always missed his best mate during these times, and this time he only felt worse about it.

Louis wasn’t the same since that night. He was quiet and distant with almost everyone. He wasn’t the vibrant person he usually was. And Harry knew it was because of him. He broke Louis.

“You and Louis fighting or something?” Zayn asked Harry as they sat on the tour bus outside that night’s venue.

“Uh, nah. Why? Did he say something?” Harry asked, trying not to sound too overwhelmingly paranoid.

“Nah, man. You two just aren’t being you two. You know what I mean,” Zayn went on.

“Well, you know…” Harry hesitated.

Eleanor,” they both said in unison before letting out a laugh.

“Can I bunk with you tonight?” Harry asked, causing Zayn to quirk his eyebrow at him.

“Yeah, sure. I don’t think Louis’ going to take it well though,” Zayn said matter-of-factly. Harry and Louis were permanent roomies on the road and at home, but Harry was sure none of that mattered to Louis now.

“His girlfriend is here,” Harry said rolling his eyes, feeling the annoyance of Eleanor’s presence.

“As far as I know, Eleanor leaves tonight,” Zayn told him.

Oh. I didn’t know that,” Harry said as his heart sank. Usually he knew everything that was going on in Louis’ world. It was just further proof that he messed everything up.

“She only got a few days off from Uni. That’s why she’s here, I guess,” Zayn shrugged.

Hmm,” Harry hummed, feeling absolutely miserable.

“Are you two really that off?” Zayn asked, furrowing his brow in concern.

“Not off…” Harry said, his words trailing into silence, because he knew they were.

“Have no fear, Mate. You can room with me. Li and Niall are together tonight,” Zayn said with a smile.

“I’m not going to be cutting in on the Zerrie phone sex, am I?” Harry smirked at his friend.

“No, not tonight,” Zayn smiled bashfully as Harry registered a hint of a blush on Zayn’s cheeks.

Christ,” Harry laughed, giving Zayn a hard pat on his shoulder as he stood on his feet.

“What?” Zayn protested.

“I was joking, ya know,” Harry laughed.

“I know,” Zayn said, sounding less convincing than he may have wanted to.

“Yeah,” Harry laughed as he headed toward the bus exit.

“I know ya were,” Zayn laughed as Harry gave him one last wave before disappearing off the bus.

As soon as Harry walked down the hallway toward the band’s dressing room, he could hear Eleanor’s laugh. A feeling of bitterness and regret washed over him. He liked Eleanor. He did. Just not right now. Not when his and Louis’ friendship was dangling in the wind and she was in the way of them finding some sort of common ground. He didn’t like the fact that Louis had her flown out so he didn’t have to deal with what happened. Harry told himself he’d bury it. He told himself he’d do that for Louis. But Louis was playing dirty. It seemed almost like he was flaunting his relationship in Harry’s face. Or maybe it was something completely different altogether. Like maybe Louis was trying to bury feelings he may have felt when they kissed. If that were the case, then it really ticked Harry off.

The room fell silent as Harry walked into it, making him feel like some sort of lark. Like a pariah in his own god damn band. Harry’s eyes met with Louis’ immediately, trying to read him and trying to convey his own feelings in one long intense look. Louis didn’t look away. Not even when Eleanor’s head volleyed back and forth looking between the two of them.

“Harry! Just in time!” Lou Teasdale, the bands hairstylist and all-around go-to girl, called out to him.

“Is it my turn for the chair?” Harry asked, only then breaking his eye contact with Louis.

“Sure is, love. Come,” she said with a wave of her hand.

Harry immediately crossed the room to Lou’s barber chair. If there was any one friendship that rivaled his and Louis’, it was his and Lou’s. Lou was his next best friend on tour, and probably his best girl friend ever.

“How ya doing, Styles?” She asked as her fingers slid effortlessly through his hair, scrunching it in her fingers.

“Fine,” he said lowly, his voice nearly failing him.

“Fine?” She asked, giving him an odd look through the mirror.

“Just an off day,” He sighed.

“Ah. I might have to get Lux in here to cheer you up then, aye?” She winked at him through the mirror.

“That would definitely do the trick,” Harry smiled at her. Harry loved Lou’s 2-year-old daughter like she was his own. He took pride in being one of Lux’s many uncles.

“You want to talk about it?” She asked.

“Maybe later,” he shrugged his shoulders as he eyed Louis through the mirror, his arm around Eleanor on the couch as they talked quietly.

Harry was sure what he was feeling wasn’t jealousy, or maybe it was. He didn’t know anymore. He wasn’t sure of anything these days. This whole damn thing had his mind in a haze.

Harry’s spin in Lou’s chair didn’t take long, since his hair pretty much had a life of its own and did whatever the hell it wanted to. And in no time, the room was buzzing with person after person as it neared show time. Harry took his mind off his situation by following Lux as she hobbled around the room, exploring. He loved his little adventures with her. He loved watching her grow up.

But as soon as Lux walked toward Louis and Eleanor, Harry nearly froze. That was one bee’s nest he didn’t want to step in. But he didn’t have a choice since he was the one with eyes on the baby.

“Luxy-Lux, come here you sweet thing!” Louis cooed, holding his arms out for her. She giggled as she picked up her pace and jumped into his arms.

Harry bit back a smile watching his best mate with the little girl. Louis was a natural with kids. He was the oldest of five, having grown up with four younger sisters. Harry watched as Eleanor gripped onto Lux’s wrist, bouncing it playfully as she smiled at the girl, and he tried his best to swallow the bitterness he felt.

“You uh… you got her?” Harry asked Louis.

“Yeah, we’ve got her,” Louis said, looking up at Harry briefly, putting a light emphasis on the word ‘we’ve’. Harry got the hint immediately.

Ohh-kay,” he said, backing away from them, venturing toward Lou and Niall at the hair and makeup station.

The show went on without a hitch, even though Harry felt incredibly off. He was usually having loads of fun with Louis on stage, but tonight, much like the past few nights Louis hadn’t really done much to reciprocate anything.

It wasn’t until Harry began to sing Rock Me that he got proof that his and Louis’ friendship wasn’t completely over.

As soon as Harry’s lines were sung, Louis came up and slung his arm around his shoulder – which caused an outpouring of screams from the girls in the crowd. Relief flooded Harry, and the wide smile that took over his face couldn’t have been helped. His heart felt full for the first time in days. Louis sang the bridge, tightening his grasp around Harry before pulling away to move across the stage, like he normally would.

Harry’s eyes scanned the front row where he knew Eleanor would be with Lou, but she was gone. And Harry understood why Louis did what he did. It was as if he felt free to be himself, felt free to be with his best mate without guilt.

Louis found Harry again during Live While We’re Young, pulling him toward the center of the stage so they could to do the signature row boat move with the rest of the guys.

Harry felt exceptionally good as they finally left the stage. And the excitement level was high on the bus before they left. Eleanor was nowhere in sight and Harry couldn’t figure out why, but he didn’t want to be the one who asked Louis about it.

“Li…Li, where’s El?” Harry asked Liam quietly.

“Lou and Tom took her to the airport while we were onstage. She’s gone,” Liam informed him.

Immediately it felt like a weight was lifted off of his shoulders. Maybe things wouldn’t be so weird anymore. Maybe Louis got over it.

A sneaky smile turned up Harry’s lips as he thought about how Louis returned back to normal only when Eleanor was out of the picture. It was like someone shut a door in his mind, and he was back.

“We should go out tonight,” Harry suggested to the group on a whim.

“Yeah. I’m down,” Louis replied immediately as his eyes connected with Harry’s. Harry’s heart exploded as he smiled up at his best mate.

“Cool,” Zayn said nodding his head.

They found themselves downtown in the VIP section of some hoity-toity club. Four-fifths of the band was underage, but their fame had perks, and their admittance was pretty much guaranteed. Harry watched from across the room as Louis laughed and drank with Liam, Zayn, and some other club goers. Harry sat sandwiched between Lou and Niall on a small red velvet couch, casually sipping from Lou’s straw, getting buzzed off of a particularly strong Long Island Ice Tea.

“Come, dance with me, Harry,” Lou said as she stood from the couch, pulling Harry up by the arm.

“Yes, Ma’am,” Harry said with a smile.

As Lou made a motion to set down her drink, Harry swiped it out of her hand, downing the last bit of it quickly.

“Well, alright then,” she laughed, grabbing Harry’s hand as she pulled him toward the stairs to go down to the main dance floor.

The music was loud and the bass boomed in Harry’s chest. The alcohol was crawling through his veins and he felt good. Really good. Lou tugged him into her arms as they both danced to the overly upbeat song. He smiled to himself thinking about the contact he and Louis made onstage. He couldn’t wait for things to just be normal again.

When Harry casually peered up toward the VIP balcony, he found Louis looking down at him, watching everything he and Lou did together. Something told him he shouldn’t be surprised, but he kind of was. Their eyes connected through the dim lights of the club and Harry couldn’t look away. Lou was doing her best to have a good time, whereas Harry stood motionless in the middle of a crowded dance floor having a rather intense stare down with his estranged best mate.

Harry was the one to finally break eye contact when Lou grabbed his hands, moving his arms in a flowing rhythm to get him to start dancing again. He clumsily moved his feet to appease her before he caught another glimpse up at the balcony. Louis and Liam were both looking down now, but Harry noticed how Louis’ eyes never left him. Excitement ravaged him as his heart beat wildly in his chest with Louis’ attention on him.

A feeling of childish selfishness overwhelmed him and he wanted to make Louis feel as jealous as he made him feel with Eleanor. So Harry decided to really go for broke, dancing flirtatiously and provocatively with Lou, hoping it was doing the charm. His arms slid around her, pulling her close to him before swinging her around in his arms. Lou threw her head back, laughing freely as her arms gripped around Harry shoulders.

As he continued to dance with Lou, Harry tried to forget about the boy staring him down. He tried to forget how the boy made him feel, how he smelled, how contagious his laugh was, how his touch tingled his skin, how his lips felt against his own. He tried to forget, but he knew it was next to impossible.

 

The cabs dropped their party off at their hotel entrance around 1 am, and everyone was in good spirits, especially Harry. He was so down in the dumps for days until it all turned around onstage that night. Now he was finally feeling better, and the carefree night out with his mates seemed to have been therapeutic.

“What do you want to do tonight? I’m not nearly ready for bed yet,” Zayn asked Harry as they climbed onto the bus that sat in the hotel parking lot so they could gather up their luggage.

“You two are hanging out tonight?” Louis asked, his eyebrows furrowed.

“Uh-oh,” Zayn smirked at Harry.

“Uh-oh, what?” Louis asked, eyeing Zayn.

“I uh… I was going to room with Zayn tonight,” Harry said finally, realizing this made Louis more jealous than dancing with any girl could have. Louis was Harry’s best mate after all.

“Oh,” Louis said, his facial features dropping immediately.

“You don’t have to,” Zayn cut in immediately, looking over at Harry sympathetically.

“No, it’s okay,” Louis said, casually waving his hand through the air. But there was nothing casual about it. Harry knew Louis long enough to know when he was upset or angry, and he was definitely both.

“I just thought…” Harry trailed off.

“I said it was okay, Harry,” Louis snapped, grabbing up his duffel bag before he quickly headed toward the front of the bus, traipsing off of it entirely.

“Damn it,” Harry said under his breath.

“I told ya he’d be angry, mate,” Zayn said matter-of-factly. Harry let out a weighted sigh, feeling the pain envelope his heart once again.

“Bunk with Louis,” Zayn told him with a pat on his back before he too made his way off the bus.

Harry took in a deep breath before he cleared his throat, trying to push back the tears that stung in his eyes. He hated feeling like this. He hated fighting with Louis. He hated that the kiss came between them, even though he didn’t regret it, even though he’d probably do it again in a heartbeat.

Harry grabbed his knapsack and slung it over his shoulders before exiting the bus, following behind Zayn as they made their way toward the hotel.

 

When Harry unlocked his and Louis’ hotel door, Louis was already sitting on one of the two beds flipping through channels on the telly. Harry’s heart fluttered with another memory from that night – their playful fight over the television remote.

“Thought you were bunking with Zayn,” Louis chided him with the sneer in his voice.

“I just thought…” Harry sighed, letting his words trail off.

“I know what you thought,” Louis snapped.

“Actually you don’t, Louis. You wouldn’t know what I thought because you haven’t talked to me in nearly a week,” Harry erupted, tossing his knapsack onto the bed opposite of Louis.

“I’m too drunk for this, Harry,” Louis sighed, sliding his hands down his face.

“Yeah,” Harry sighed, letting the fight drain out of him, turning his back to Louis as he opened up his bag.

“I’m sorry,” Louis said quietly after a few moments.

Harry’s heart pounded in his chest. He wanted to know what Louis was apologizing for. Was he apologizing for being a complete git for the past week, or was he apologizing for the kiss? It was agonizing not knowing, but Harry didn’t have the guts to ask. He wasn’t prepared for the kind of rejection that came with the latter.

“Yeah,” Harry said, his voice shaking as he busied himself by idly digging in his bag.

After a few moments, Louis scoffed as he quickly got up from his bed, making his way to the bathroom. The slamming of the door rung in Harry’s ears as he stared helplessly at the closed door. All he felt in those lingering moments of silence was the rapid flow of adrenaline throughout his body as his heart beat in over-drive. He hated fighting with Louis, but he wasn’t about to forgive him so easily after one of the shittiest weeks of his life. Especially when he didn’t do anything wrong.

Harry undressed into his boxer briefs before crawling up into his bed, shutting out the lights immediately. He wasn’t even going to wait for Louis to come out of the bathroom. In the moment, he didn’t care if the pitch black room caused Louis to stub his toe or trip over his own damn feet or whatever. Harry was upset because Louis was being a prick for absolutely no good reason. Why should Harry be sorry for what happened? Harry wasn’t the one who initiated the kiss. That was all Louis.

Harry silently fumed in bed, trying his damndest to think of something else, but he couldn’t because… why the fuck was Louis still in the bathroom? What could he possibly be doing in there for that long? Stupid mind-numbingly frustrating boy!

When the bathroom door finally opened, shedding a blast full of bright light into the main room, Harry shut his eyes up tightly, determined to pretend as if he were already asleep. But that didn’t mean he wasn’t hyperaware of everything Louis was doing.

Harry registered a low sigh come from his best mate as he switched off the bathroom light, leaving the hotel room dark again. He heard Louis take a few steps before he paused on his feet. Harry’s heartbeat was in his throat as he wondered what Louis was thinking, what he was going to do next. Louis moved the rest of the way toward his bed and Harry heard the rustling of the blankets, finally relaxing knowing they weren’t about to have another go-around at each other.

 

Harry snuggled his pillow tightly, bringing his legs up to his chest as he lay on his side. He felt so lonely being in that hotel room. He never felt lonely with Louis ever, but lately that’s all he was feeling and it broke his heart. Just as Harry’s emotions began to get the better of him he felt the mattress dip from behind him, and he sucked in a breath as Louis got into bed with him.

His heartbeat picked up again, but he didn’t move. He couldn’t. He was completely frozen in apprehension.

“I really am sorry, Harry,” Louis said in a low raspy voice that did things to Harry.

Louis’ heartfelt apology was enough to break the dam inside of Harry, causing a huge lump in his throat to form as the tears came freely.

“Harry…” Louis breathed, placing his hand on Harry’s back.

Hmm,” Harry half-grunted, trying to fight off his emotions before Louis had a chance of catching him blubbering like a baby.

“Did you hear me?” He asked quietly. Harry sucked in another breath and let it out slowly and silently.

“I heard you,” he croaked, clearing his throat in hopes of getting rid of the emotional lump in it.

Louis sighed deeply, and Harry felt his warm breath on his naked back, which caused an array of goose bumps to cover his skin.

“I’ve apologized twice now.” Louis said quietly. Harry held his breath, not sure of what he was supposed to say.

“Are you going to say anything at all?” Louis asked, impatience lacing his tone.

“What do you want me to say?” Harry turned his body slightly to stare down his absolutely clueless best friend.

“I don’t know. That you forgive me?” Louis asked, causing Harry to scoff.

“You don’t forgive me?” Louis asked incredulously.

“Why should I forgive you when nothing’s changed?” Harry asked, rolling back over, gripping tightly to his pillow.

“Nothing’s changed?” Louis repeated.

EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED!” Harry erupted, sitting up quickly and spinning to look back at Louis, feeling like his heart was about to explode out of his chest.

“Harry,” Louis said calmly, reaching out to touch his arm, and Harry tried not to let the feel of his warm skin affect him. He needed to stand his ground.

“I know, Harry,” Louis cooed, and Harry immediately felt the fight drain out of him. He wanted to just break down and cry, but he was exhausted and felt it easier to choke back his emotions then to let them wash him away.

He dropped back against the mattress, facing Louis this time, and he watched as Louis also relaxed against the mattress, their heads on opposite pillows. Harry’s eyes adjusted to the darkness and was able to make out Louis’ face just enough to know he was staring back at him.

Harry,” Louis cooed, and Harry felt his whole body react to it, a pleasing shiver running up his spine.

Harry closed his eyes tightly, shaking his head, knowing it was a bad idea to let Louis off the hook with no consequences for treating him like shit for the past six days. But when Harry’s eyes opened again, Louis’ face was significantly closer until he almost couldn’t see it anymore. He didn’t even realize what was happening until it happened, until Louis’ lips were planted on his, kissing him. Harry froze, wonder how in the fuck their friendship had any chance of survival if Louis kept doing this.

But apparently his self-control was non-existent when it came to Louis. It was another thing he was realizing much too late. Louis’ kisses grew more aggressive until Harry had no choice but to kiss him back. As if he wouldn’t though. Over the past six days he relived their previous kiss in his head constantly. During the most inopportune times it seemed. He’d be in an interview with all the guys and it would pop into his head and he’d be lost. Onstage, he literally almost missed his cue in a song because the kiss overpowered his brain. Every time he watched Louis kiss Eleanor while she was in town he wondered if Louis was thinking of their kiss. He wondered if he thought about it as much as Harry did. He wondered if it kept him up at night like it did to him.

Louis’ fingers came up to tangle in the back of Harry’s hair as he pressed forward, moving his mouth against Harry’s, prodding his tongue against his lips, begging for entrance. Harry adapted quickly. He let Louis lead, which seemed the best for the both of them. Their tongues and legs tangled perfectly, and it sent a pleasing tremor through Harry. He almost wondered if he were dreaming. Did he really just fall asleep waiting for Louis to get out of the bathroom? Was it all in his head?

When he heard Louis moan lowly against his mouth, he was convinced it was all a dream. But he could taste the alcohol on Louis’ tongue, he could smell his cologne as plain as day, and he wasn’t sure what to believe anymore.

His whole body tingled from Louis’ touch and he was certain he wouldn’t be able to hold back his arousal for much longer, especially since he was only wearing a small pair of boxer briefs. He was doing everything he could to keep from getting hard, but he wasn’t very good at it.

He pulled back, hating himself a little for breaking the kiss.

Jesus Christ, Louis,” Harry hissed, his chest heaving as he tried to control his breathing and his traitorous body. Louis’ breathing was just as heavy and Harry took great comfort in that.

“I’m sorry,” Louis said finally and it caused Harry’s heart to sink.

“Don’t apologize for that,” Harry said lowly, feeling the urge to cry again.

“I’m not. I’m apologizing for the past week,” Louis said, sounding so incredibly nonchalant about it, that it made Harry’s eyes widen in wonder. Louis looked over at him, furrowing his eyebrows in question.

“What?” He asked finally.

“Nothing” Harry croaked, his mouth suddenly so dry.

Louis’ laugh suddenly echoed off the walls, immediately triggering his own contagiously. Harry wasn’t sure what they were laughing about, but it felt good. When their laughter finally died off, it was just heartbeats in the dark. Two warm bodies, two pairs of eyes, two sets of lips. Harry watched Louis through the dark wishing he knew what the other boy was thinking. He would have sold his sold to the devil for that kind of information.

But in true Louis form, he came in like a wrecking ball, knocking Harry completely off his feet. In an instant, Louis’ lips were back on Harry’s, his body practically atop him. Harry giggled against his mouth, before once again adapting quickly to Louis’ advances. It didn’t take long before Harry realized that the hardness against his thigh was Louis’ hardness, his arousal. Relief flooded him, relaxing in an instant, not feeling like such a heathen for his own arousal.

Their bodies melded perfectly with one another’s, and soon the two boys were engulfed in each other. Each kiss was better than the last. Each strategic touch was placed in an effort to please the other boy. The desire inside of Harry was palpable and he wanted more and more even though his eyes began to get heavy after such a long day. The sun was nearly on the rise and all Harry wanted to do was keep kissing his best mate.

But soon, their kisses began to slow, their movements lacking the fierceness they held before. And some time after the sun broke through over the horizon, they fell asleep in each other’s arms.

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