Summary: Harry yells, Louis panics, then they're okay again.
Rating is safe, title from Bloom by Moriah Peters.
It’s been four months of living with Harry, and Louis is happy. He smiles freely and teases and laughs and he’s comfortable in his own skin, no longer jumping at the smallest touch, or closing off when someone shows the slightest sign of not liking him. He feels like who he should be. Louis. Or, Harry’s Louis. Not Mitch’s Louis, who was a shell of himself. He’s whole, he’s complete, and he loves it.
Though, there are still signs. They show up here and there, when they least expect it. Harry grips his hips the wrong way in bed and Louis gasps (and not in a good way), before he’s quickly hushed by his boyfriend, reassured and apologized to. But it’s okay, he’s okay. Or there’s the time Louis accidentally breaks a wine glass and out of instinct, says sorry about twenty times through tears, crying on the floor and only calming once Harry’s wrapped around him, promising he’s not angry, it’s just a glass, sweetheart, we can get another, it’s alright Lou. And then he’s okay again.
Because he’s never seen Harry angry. Or, at least not directed at him. He’s seen him frustrated with customers, annoyed with his mother, furious with Mitch after he finds out another horrible thing he did to Louis. But he’s never been mad at him.
It’s a stupid fight. A stupid, stupid fight. Louis still works at the coffee shop two blocks over, and sometimes he takes an extra shift for the money so long as it doesn't interfere with one of their dates. Unfortunately, he forgets about their plans to watch old movies and eat cheap Chinese food, and when he gets home, it’s to a testy Harry.
It starts with “How could you forget? I ordered the food and everything and you stood me up!”
And transitions into “I’m sorry, I just thought I’d get us some extra cash, god knows we could use it.”
Which of course leads to “Well, it’s not my fault going out is expensive! You never want to stay in, no wonder you skipped our date tonight!”
But the way the fight ends, isn’t with words. It’s with a flinch.
They’re not quite yelling, but their voices are loud and that has Louis distinctly wrong footed, because this is Harry, soft and gentle Harry, except now he’s harsh and angry and loud. He doesn't like it.
They’re standing in the living room, arguing and raking fingers through their hair, and then Louis is shouting that Harry’s overreacting, and then Harry is stepping forward with fierceness in his eyes and-
And as Harry rants about how he’s very much not overreacting, thank you, Louis’ blood runs cold because he knows that look, he knows it all too well, and he doesn't want to be hurt, or hit, or forced, and he flinches backward with a sharp inhale.
There’s half a second of dead silence, as they stare at each other, and then Louis is running, hurrying into the bathroom and locking the door, shaking. He spins, disoriented, before hopping into the far end of the tub, hugging his knees to his chest and trying to make himself small.
He doesn't want this, he never thought it would happen (and still kind of doesn't) but that look, that rage filled look, it always leads to pain and abuse and no no no.
There’s a knock at the door, Harry calling out his name, and Louis whines under his breath, eyes welling up.
“Please, baby, answer me. I’m so sorry, I’m sorry darling, are you okay? Answer me, please.” He’s calling out, and Louis wants to answer, but he also doesn't, so he makes a somewhat inhuman noise, nails digging into his jeans.
It seems Harry heard it though, because then he’s asking “Can I come in? It’s okay Louis, I promise.”
And Louis wants to believe him, of course he does, but what if his instincts were right and Harry’s turning into what Mitch was? What if he opens the door and Harry hurts him like Mitch did? What if it all goes to hell?
“You’re not mad?” He calls back uncertainly, worrying his bottom lip between his teeth.
“No, I’m not, I promise.” Harry says through the door. Louis thinks he sounds honest. If not, he’s a good liar.
“I...” Louis cuts off as tears spill over. “I’ll unlock the door, but. But c-can you just...not come in until I say so, please?”
There’s a regretful sigh before “Of course.”
Louis nods numbly, even though there’s no one to see. He forces himself to clamber over the edge and walk carefully to the door, stomach twisting. His trembling fingers turn the lock, despite the voice in the back of his head screaming in protest. This is Harry, right? Just Harry. Harry is lovely. (But what if he’s not, anymore?)
He can hear Harry’s breathing through the wooden barrier and can't decide if it’s reassuring or scary, so he just climbs back in the tub, to his earlier spot and position. He counts his breaths, in and out, you can do this, it’s okay.
And then he calls out “You can. Come in.”
Louis holds himself tighter as the door opens and Harry peeks in, expression falling the second his eyes land on him. (That’s strange. Mitch usually became further enraged.) “Oh, sweetheart.” Harry mumbles after he gently shuts the door behind him, posture unsure.
Louis doesn't know what to say, and he’s still scared, so he just sniffles pathetically and glances at the porcelain below him.
Harry shuffles forward to lower to his knees, at the other side of the tub, still on the outside, but it’s closer, and closer means he can hurt him, which is why Louis winces, making Harry look downright self loathing.
“I’m not going to hurt you, Lou. You know that, right?” He chances. “I’d never, never ever. I’m so sorry I scared you, I shouldn't have lost my temper, please just. Please believe me when I say I’m not going to lay a hand on you.”
“I...I know.” Louis settles on, voice wobbly. “I know, but I don’t, and. I don’t know.”
He feels stupid and confused and still pretty scared, but when Harry shifts an inch or two towards him, he doesn’t freak out. That’s good, he thinks.
“It’s okay, you don't need to explain. I love you, yeah? I’m here, and I’ll do whatever you need, okay? Do you need me to leave?” Harry asks, but by the end he’s frowning, clearly not wanting to go. Louis kind of doesn't want him to either.
He shakes his head, tears still rolling down his cheeks. “No, I. I just need you to wait. Please?”
Harry gives him a small smile and nods quickly. “Of course, yeah, I’ll wait. Do you think you’d be okay if I got in the tub with you? I can stay on this end, if that’s easier.”
Louis debates it internally, most of his brain now decided that he’s safe, but still on edge and jumpy and all around lost. He swallows the lump in his throat and tells him “Yeah, uh. On that end, and. That’d be okay.”
Harry’s eyes warm then, clearly less terrified he’s ruined everything. He keeps his movements slow as he sits in his half of the tub, carefully avoiding the faucet, their legs brushing together. Louis doesn't freak out.
Harry leans back and rubs at his eyes, not saying anything. So Louis doesn't either. He just stays where he is, forehead against his knees, and breathes. It’s better this way, feeling his boyfriend’s presence, reassuring him that he’s not going to get hit today, or ever, maybe.
When his tears have stopped and his fingers are steady where they rub at his thighs, he lifts his head to meet Harry’s eyes, noting that they’re slightly wet.
“Just...” He warns, the end going unspoken. Stay still for me? Harry nods, spreading his legs and opening his arms.
Louis ignores the way his heart stammers and timidly crawls to him, fitting into his chest perfectly, as always. Harry cautiously snakes his arms around him and Louis melts, because he’s okay, he’s not going to be hurt, Harry would never. He knows that now. (He always did, really.)
“There you go, shh, everything’s okay, you’re safe, nobody will ever hurt you again.” Harry soothes immediately, and Louis turns his face into his neck, lump suddenly back in his throat.
“I’m sorry.” He sobs, clinging to him. “I’m sorry, I just got so scared, you scared me, shit.”
“I know, I know and I’m sorry, because I should have known better than to yell like that, I won’t do that again, I promise, okay? I just want you to be okay.” Harry tells him, kissing his hair over and over.
Louis smiles through his tears. “I am okay.” He whispers.
“That...that wasn't okay, though.” Harry mutters. “I feel fucking horrible.”
“Please don’t.” Louis says with a sniffle, reaching back to take Harry’s hand in his, their fingers slotting together perfectly. “I’m just...I’m damaged, we both know that. It’s gonna be a while before I stop...reverting, or whatever, back to how I was before. You know?”
“Yeah, I know.” The younger man sighs. “I just hate that I caused this.”
Louis huffs, pushing his forehead into Harry’s collarbone, nuzzling. “No, Mitch caused this. He ruined everything, and you saved me, and I’m happy now, honestly happy, I just. Still have some of that in me, I guess.”
Harry hooks his chin on Louis’ head, breath warm there. “It’ll go away, babe. With time.”
“Yeah.” Louis hums. “For now though, can we just stay like this a while?”
Louis stumbles out of bed the next morning to find Harry bustling about the kitchen, making pancakes, with a vase of yellow and pink roses on the table, meaning I’m sorry and I love you. Louis beams, still giddy about it even after months of being together. He kisses Harry deep, almost making him burn their breakfast.
Seated together at the small table, they play footsies while they eat.
“So how about as an apology for standing you up last night-” Louis goes to say, but is interrupted.
“Louis, it’s okay, I told you, yeah? I’m not angry.” Harry stresses, reaching across to hold his hand.
Louis rolls his eyes, kicking him lightly in the shin before continuing as if he hadn’t stopped “So, how about I call into work sick and spend the day with you down in the shop? We haven’t done that as much lately.”
Harry looks at him with all the fondness in the world, having to bite his lip to contain the giant grin threatening to take over.
“That’d be nice, yeah.” He murmurs, playing with their thumbs. “Love you so much.”
The butterflies in Louis’ gut dance about and he blows him a kiss.
“Love you more.” He smiles.