A/N: So, here it is! I honestly don’t know how I’ve put out three chapters in three days (give or take). God! Well, I hope you enjoy this chapter. I experimented in the third person POV at the beginning and end of this again. Does anyone like that, or would they just prefer if it stays in the first? Anyway, enjoy! :) xx, Ash.
“Danielle, did she just say what I think she said?” Harry said, turning to Danielle.
Danielle looked at him with a shocked expression. “What is she even talking about Eleanor for? I didn’t know she knew her!”
Harry winced. He hadn’t realized that no one had told Danielle what had happened. “That’s another long story. If we ever find a time that’s relatively calm, I’ll tell you about it.”
She nodded, still a bit shocked. “What happened with Lou? Why in the world was she crying?”
“He got drunk and showed up here. She took him to our suite and then he started to drag her towards his bedroom in his drunken state. I think it brought back memories of her boyfriend… maybe he abused her when he was drunk.”
“Oh my god…” Danielle whispered. “No wonder she was terrified.”
“Yeah,” Harry said. “And Lou’s probably kicking himself right now if he’s in his right mind. I think I should go check on him,” Harry finished, standing up from the bed Ashley was laying on.
“Can you handle watch Ashley until I can come back? I think she’ll need someone tonight.”
Danielle nodded in response. “Of course. I might call Liam too, he can come help out.”
Harry just nodded, opening the door and headed back to his and Louis’ sweet. Harry couldn’t believe Louis hadn’t learned his lesson about getting drunk with the girls he liked yet, but maybe being slapped had woken him up.
“Zayn? You still here?” Harry called out as he entered the room, looking around.
Harry heard mumbled conversation before Zayn came out of Louis’ room, shaking his head slightly.
“What’s the verdict?” Harry asked hesitantly. He wasn’t sure he even wanted to know, but he knew he had to go talk to Louis at some point.
Why am I suddenly the appointed person for handling these two and their odd relationship?, Harry wondered to himself.
“He’s really messed up,” Zayn said. “He’s got his senses back now though. I think it was a combination of her slap,” Zayn chuckled then, seeming to find that slap funny, “And the black coffee. He feels horrible.”
“Well, he should. I think that if anyone knows better about how that would freak her out, it would be Louis,” Harry replied darkly.
Zayn raised an eyebrow but said nothing. Harry suddenly realized that Zayn probably didn’t know anything about it. “Mate, you can go by the way. I’ll take care of Lou from here.”
Zayn nodded, but a quick smirk flashed across his face. “Funny, you were saying that to me less than twenty-four hours ago.”
Harry allowed himself a laugh, saying, “Yeah, you’re right. It’s a shame that it’s not being said again in lighter circumstances.”
Zayn laughed too, then offered Harry a wish of good luck before softly closing the suite door behind him.
Harry sighed and walked to the sink, filling up a glass of water. Normally he’d just go buy a bottle, but this wasn’t the time to be thinking of himself. As he swallowed a sip of it, he set the glass down and walked over to Louis’ room.
“Lou? Can I come in?” He called through the door, knocking lightly.
“That depends,” Louis said. “Can you rewind time and erase that moment from history?”
Harry chuckled. At least Louis was back to his senses. “Sadly, I can’t. But I come bearing news for you,” Harry said as he opened the door.
As Harry walked in, he took in the mess that Louis was. His eyes were bloodshot, but even Harry couldn’t tell if it was from tears or the alcohol. His hair was sticking up in every direction, and his clothes were rumpled. His entire appearance was so disheveled that Harry barely recognized the older boy.
“Did I screw up again, Haz?” Louis whispered tearfully.
Harry couldn’t help it; he softened at Louis’ tears. “No, Lou. Not this time.”
Louis looked up at him in surprise. “What?”
“She’s not mad at you, Louis. Although to be honest, I don’t know why. I’ve got every idea that she should be mad at you. If anyone knows better about why she freaked out, I’m guessing that it’s you.”
Louis bowed his head shamefully. “I know, I’m terrible,” he choked out. “But I didn’t even have thoughts in my mind. I was just buzzing with energy and alcohol and I didn’t even realize what I had done until it had happened.”
Harry nodded. “I know, Lou. She said she forgave you because she knew you didn’t mean it. She said she didn’t wanna fight with you too.”
“Too?” Louis’ attention was caught at the word and he looked worried. Harry winced, cursing himself for adding the extra word. “Who else is she fighting with?” Louis demanded.
“I don’t know. She fell asleep right after she said that, so there’s no telling. She’s asleep now, so it’s best not to worry about it.”
Louis scanned Harry’s face in hopes of finding some kind of a lie, but he didn’t and he slumped back down to the bed with a sigh. “Fine. I know you’re not lying, so I’ll leave it alone. Do you think she’s ever going to want to talk to me again?”
Harry smiled gently. “I think so. But I think that you should let her come to you, and not the other way around. Let her make the decision on when to let you back in. I don’t know if you saw her Louis, but she was freaking out. She shook all over and retreated to a corner. But somehow, she still managed to calm herself down and forgive you minutes later.”
Louis winced, and Harry felt a pang of sympathy for his friend. “What I’m trying to say,” Harry continued, “is that you’re really lucky you’ve got her in your life. Not every girl would forgive you if she’d been through what Ashley has. You need to give her time and space… it’ll turn out okay in the end.”
Louis nodded. “Thanks Haz. You really don’t have to keep taking care of the both of us. I’m not going to mess up again.”
Harry smiled and reached over to smooth down Louis’ hair. “I sure hope not, Lou. I’ll really have to kick your ass then,” he finished, winking.
The two boys shared a look and Louis finally cracked a smile, and despite the fact he hadn’t made up with Ashley yet, Louis felt like things might be okay after all.
Everyone in my room seemed to think I was asleep, but I’d woken up almost half an hour ago. I didn’t move though, choosing to listen to what they were saying instead. It wasn’t often you were given the opportunity to hear what others were saying about you, after all.
“Harry, you’re sure he’s not going to go coming after her if we do leave? I hate to leave her alone…”
“No, she’ll really be alright. She’s sleeping anyway.” I held back a snort. “She might wake up, but I think she will be able to handle herself.”
“Come on, Danielle. I think she would rather be alone now anyway,” Liam chimed in. I was silently thanking Liam in my mind; he was actually right. I wanted nothing more than to be alone.
“Well… alright. Hopefully she doesn’t wake up though. Harry, where are you headed off to?”
“I’m gonna go sleep with Niall and Zayn. You’re going with Liam, so Zayn’s moving in to Niall’s suite.”
“He got a solo suite?” Danielle said in surprise.
“Yeah, wouldn’t you believe it? I might sleep on his couch, but it’s alright. Louis wanted to be alone. Although I s’pose he’s not going to do anything but sulk all night.”
“Poor Lou… but at least she forgives him.”
“Yeah, he’s lucky. If I were her… I don’t think I could do it so easily.”
But you can live without him, Harry, I thought to myself. I had enough going on in my life now; I needed Louis more than anything. I couldn’t afford to fight him.
“Yeah, you’re right. Now let’s go on and leave her alone, shall we?” Liam’s voice rang out in the room.
A few quiet seconds later, the door opened and I heard footsteps and hushed voices. The door closed and they soon faded into the hallway.
I cracked an eye open and slowly turned over on my bed. There wasn’t anyone left in the room, thankfully. It was then I noticed Harry’s room key was still in our room.
“Well, if he left it here… maybe he wants me to use it,” I mused to myself. Without a second thought, I snatched it and headed towards me door.
But wait, I thought to myself, Is this really a good idea?
In truth, I should probably have known better. The last time a guy got drunk and dragged me to his room, I had gotten raped. Despite how strongly I felt about it not being Loius’ fault, the same thing could have happened again if Harry and Zayn hadn’t heard my screaming and stopped it.
But at the same time, I could always trust my instincts. Besides, Louis wasn’t abusing me - he really hadn’t meant to drag me against my will.
“This is ridiculous,” I said to no one in particular. “It’s Louis, for god’s sake. He’s one of my closest friends. And sure, he screwed up. But everyone’s entitled one screw up. If he ever does it again, then I’ll feel differently. But it wouldn’t be so bad to go visit him right now.”
Wouldn’t it though?, a voice whispered in the back of my mind. He hurt you once… he could do it again.
“No. He won’t hurt me again,” I answered my mental voice, shutting it off. Shaking my head clear of my doubts, I pulled open the door and peeked out in to the hallway.
The hallway was clear, and all the rooms were all quiet. I checked the clock in our room to discover that it was nearly 3 AM. “Jesus, I know I went to sleep, but I didn’t think it was for that long!”
I figured that everyone had finally turned in after such a dramatic night, and for that I was grateful. I needed to do what I wanted to now or it would just bother me until I got a chance to fix everything between Louis and I.
I slid the card into the door and pulled it open with ease, walking inside for the second time.
The TV was playing, but Louis was nowhere to be seen. I didn’t hear a shower running, so I figured he wasn’t in there.
The door that Louis had been leading me to was shut, but there was a light shining through the bottom of the door. It flickered, and I wondered if Louis was watching TV in there.
I took a chance and hoped that Louis was in there. “Lou? Hey, are you in there?”
There was a scuffling sound behind the door, and I backed up as the door swung open.
Louis stood in the doorway, looking like a mess. His hair was frizzy and stood in odd directions and his clothes wrinkled. I realized he was still wearing the same shirt from after the concert, and the only change was he’d pulled on sweatpants. But even those had wrinkled in the time since he’d come to my room.
“Ashley?” Louis whispered, his eyes moving all over me before meeting my own. “Harry said you were asleep.”
I shrugged nonchalantly. “I woke up.”
A silence hung in the air. Louis couldn’t stop staring at me with this extremely guilty look in his eyes. It honestly bugged me. Sure, he had every right to be guilty. But he still didn’t mean it.
“Harry told you I forgave you, didn’t he?”
Louis seemed startled by my question. “Uh, yeah… he told me. I just don’t understand why you came here.”
“Well,” I said, deep in thought about that. “I’m here because you’re still my friend, and just because you made a mistake doesn’t mean that’s going to change.”
“But.. I hurt you.”
I rolled my eyes. “No, you didn’t. In case you don’t remember, I slapped you. Which I, um,” I paused, blushing and suddenly feeling a bit awkward, “I’m really sorry about that.”
Louis gaped at me as if he were shocked. “I cannot believe that you’re apologizing to me. Shit, Ash, I feel like a complete jerk. I feel worse than that! I know what happened to you, and you have to understand I didn’t go to your room on purpose. I was drunk and I couldn’t think - no, I didn’t even try to think - and I-“
“Louis! Shut up for a second!” I said loudly.
Louis’ mouth snapped shut, but not before he apologized again. “I’m really sorry, Ashley. I just don’t think I can make this up,” he finished, hanging his head.
“Lou…” I said quietly, reaching out towards him. My fingers brushed his arm before I loosely grabbed a hold of it. Surprised, Louis’ eyes turned to my hand before he looked up and met my eyes.
My heart softened as I saw his eyes were swimming with tears. “Louis, it’s-“
“Don’t you dare say it’s okay to me. It isn’t okay!” He protested. I watched as a flash of anger appeared in his eyes. “What I did was stupid and Harry told me how badly it affected you, and I hate that. I don’t know why you’re forgiving me because I don’t deserve forgiveness! It was a low and stupid thing to do. I should have known better, and god, I’m so sorry. If you’re just being nice, I’d prefer if you just stopped trying to pretend it’s okay, because it is so far from being okay.”
I waited until he finished his rant before reaching up and pulling him towards me. “Hey, Louis.”
Louis refused to look at me though, and I gripped his arm a bit tighter. “Don’t be like that, you stubborn idiot. Look at me.”
Reluctantly, Louis looked up at me with his sad blue eyes. “Do you want to be forgiven or not? I’m not angry, Louis. I was freaked out, I won’t lie. It terrified the living hell out of me, being dragged to your room.”
I took a deep breath. “But I know that you didn’t mean to do it. I know that if you had been in your right mind, you would have never done that. It brought bad memories up to my mind again, and I panicked. I forgot that it was even you; all I saw was Cooper’s threatening snarl instead of your drunk grin. And that scared me so mcuh that I believed Cooper was with me. I never want that to happen and I just, I freaked out so badly…”
I trailed off when my lips started to quiver and tears were burning behind my eyes. I let go of Louis and bit my lip hard, bringing a drop of blood to it. “God, I’m sorry. I’m a wreck.”
“No, Ashley, love… I’m sorry. I’m making you think of all this again and I just can’t seem to say the right thing,” Louis was much more quiet now, and his hand slowly inched towards me before he pulled it back. “Can’t even trust myself to touch you now,” he muttered with a self-deprecating laugh.
I watched him carefully before noticing there was a cut on his hand. “Lou, what happened to your hand?”
He cast his eyes down to his hand briefly before looking away sheepishly. “I, uh, I fell earlier… into a wall…”
I reached my hand and took his, gently pressing my fingers against the cuts. Louis hissed, muttering a few curse words under his breath.
“Come on,” I said quietly, tugging Louis with me.
“Where are we going?” he asked just as quietly, trailing along behind me.
“We’re gonna go to my room. I’ve got a first aid kit,” I replied, turning to look back at Louis.
Louis couldn’t help himself then; he allowed a smirk to come across his face. “You’ve got a first aid kit?” He repeated, his voice prompting me to feel like I had to defend myself.
“Well, I’m clutzy! It’s natural for clutzy people to carry first aid kits. I took a first aid class too, but it’s more the clutzy thing than that.”
I watched Louis’ smirk grow even more pronounced before he bit it back. “Right, right.. clutzy. I’ll remember that.”
When we reached my room, I realized I’d left the door wide open. “Whoops…” I muttered to myself, heading inside as if it were supposed to be open. I shut it quietly behind me.
I saw what must have been my room key laying on the nightstand. I quickly snatched it and stuffed it into my pocket along with Harry’s. It was about time I found my own room key!
“Just sit down on the bed. The kit is in my luggage somewhere,” I said in Louis’ direction. I heard the telltale creak of the bed sinking as he added his weight to it, and felt a bit pleased. At least he had shut up long enough to listen to me!
“Oh, here it is!” I pulled the case out and carried it over to Louis. He scooted over a bit when I reached him, turning sideways so he was facing me and crossing his legs. I sat carefully down next to him, respecting the distance he’d put between us.
I pulled out a bottle of alcohol and cotton swabs to purify the wound and clean off the dried blood. “This will probably sting,” I murmured to Louis.
“I’ll be- AHHH!” Louis started to pretend he’d be fine, but when he punched - I mean, “fell” - into the wall, he must have messed himself up badly.
“Just hush. That wasn’t even that bad. I’ve been through a hell of a lot worse cuts and they didn’t sting that bad,” I said absently, my attention absorbed in rubbing away the dried blood.
There was an odd feeling that came over me then, and when I looked up I saw Louis wincing, but it wasn’t in pain. “Oh god… that was so insensitive. Jesus, I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking.”
Louis shook his head. “No, you don’t need to apologize for that. It’s true, isn’t it? I’m the one being insensitive. I just smashed my hand into a wall, you were… well, you know.”
“Abused,” I filled in for him.
“Right. Abused. I’ll just stop talking now,” he finished, clamping his lips together.
“That would be nice,” I joked. “But you can’t keep quiet for long, Louis.”
That got another smile out of him, and I poked his cheek lightly. “See? That’s what I wanted. Don’t sit here and be upset about what happened. If you really want, once you’re all fixed up we can talk about it. But I really think that it’s unnecessary.”
Louis shook his head, hissing as I poured fresh alcohol on his wounds. “Sorry,” I commented.
“So you’re really not mad at me?” Louis asked hesitantly.
I smiled. “No, Louis. I’m really not mad at you. I wasn’t ever mad… I was just scared.”
Louis frowned. “You remember how I said I would scare you that first night we met?” he asked, veering off topic.
“Um… yes, actually. Why?”
“That wasn’t the way I intended to scare you,” he replied, a half smile slowly spreading on his face.
I couldn’t help it then; I laughed. “I know, Louis. I know.”
He offered me a tentative grin, and I let go of his hand to put the alcohol up.
“Oh thank god, you’re done with it,” Louis said. “That stuff really does burn!”
“Imagine having real liquor poured into your cuts… that really burns,” I muttered dryly.
He looked at me, and I could practically see the giant question mark on his face. “It wasn’t part of the abuse. I smashed a bottle of alcohol once and it got into the cuts on my wrist…”
Louis frowned, but it was obvious he was sort of glad it wasn’t abuse towards me or part of my self-harming days – well, deliberately a part anyway.
“Okay, I need you to hold your wrist still. I’m going to wrap it so you don’t mess with the skin when it starts to cover over your cuts.”
Louis nodded, and I pulled out the wrap and began to wrap his hand in a slow, circular manner. Once I finished, I tied it up and tucked the tied end into one of the layers before taking out a piece of skin tape to keep it in place.
“Don’t you pull that off,” I warned him, and with wide eyes he nodded again.
“You’re lucky you didn’t break your knuckles or your fingers from the way they looked you know,” I commented.
I watched Louis’ eyes go comically wide. “Really? I’m glad I didn’t then… my fingers are important.”
I chuckled. “Really now? I thought fingers were just used for decoration.”
Louis stared at my face a moment before pouting. “It’s no wonder you and Harry get on so well,” he said, “You both have the same sense of sarcasm. You’re both so serious about it that I can’t tell if you’re stupid or sarcastic!”
“Gee, thanks,” I replied in a dry tone.
Louis let out a laugh then; a real one, the one that I loved the most. “So, um, Harry mentioned something that’s been getting on my nerves…”
“Okay?” I prompted, leaning back against the bed and stretching out.
“He said… he said that you didn’t want to fight with me too.” As he put the emphasis on the word ‘too’, I felt my insides jump. Shit.
I’d forgotten all about what I’d said before dozing off. Thankfully, no one knew the truth about it but Emma. But I couldn’t lie to Louis’ face, could I?
Well, you’re going to have to try. He can’t know! My mental voice whispered to me again, and I had to agree. Louis couldn’t know.
“Oh really? Well, who knows what I meant by that. I think I said it as I was dozing off.”
Louis raised an eyebrow. “So you’re not fighting with anyone?”
I shook my head vehemently. “Nope! I’m sure it wasn’t anything but me rambling some nonsense.”
Louis locked eyes with me, and I did my best to look uncaring and innocent. After a long minute, he sighed. “Even if you are fighting with someone, you’re not going to tell me.”
I offered an apologetic smile. “If it helps, I’m only not telling you because I haven’t figured out how I want to handle it yet.”
“It doesn’t help much, to be honest,” Louis said, still staring me down.
I sighed too. “Well, I’m not going to tell you yet. And there isn’t any need to go bug any of the other boys; they don’t know either. No one does.”
I hesitated. “Well, two people do. But you actually don’t know them, so it’s fine.”
“You told other people but not me?”
“Well, the first person guessed. I didn’t intend on telling them, they already knew. The second person isn’t going to tell anyone, so even if you guessed who they were, they wouldn’t answer you.”
Louis just shook his head. “Well, I do want to be the first to know whenever you figure out what you’re going to do.”
“It’s about you, so I’d say you’re gonna be the first anyway,” I muttered under my breath.
“What?” Louis asked, raising an eyebrow at me.
I nodded. “You’ll definitely be the first to know!”
I moved a bit closer to Louis, waiting to see if he would tense again. When he didn’t, I smiled slightly. “Can I have a hug though? I really need some comfort from it.”
Louis hesitated; his hesitation was visible in his eyes. “I trust you not to hurt me Louis, you’re fine now,” I murmured.
He nodded slowly, agreeing to the hug. I moved in slowly just to make sure he was alright. Once he offered an encouraging smile, I nearly tackled him by launching myself into his lap.
I somehow managed to knock us backwards, but Louis’ arms encircled me tightly and kept me from falling off the edge of the bed.
I nestled my head into the space above his collarbone, inhaling deeply. “You still smell amazing,” I whispered, accidentally blowing my breath over his exposed skin as I spoke.
I felt him shiver underneath me. “And you’re actually really warm. I’m suddenly realizing how cold I am,” he commented with a laugh.
“Oooh wait, I have a blanket!” I cried out, hopping up to get it.
“You do realize we’re sitting on a bed, right?” Louis asked as I dug it out of my suitcase.
“Um, duh! But if you think that you’re getting under the covers with me, you’ve lost your mind.”
Louis laughed. “You’re playing hard to get then? I’m pretty sure we’ve slept in the same bed before.”
“Over the covers! And we slept in the same bed once before. Most of the time we end up on couches. Haven’t you noticed that?”
Louis paused, stopping to think about that. “Not until you just mentioned it, actually.”
I just shook my head. “Boys notice so little,” I mocked, tossing the blanket over to him as I crawled back on to the bed.
“And girls notice far too much!” Louis replied in the same tone, laughing.
I curled back into my original position, covered by the heavy blanket. I moved closer to Louis’ side, pressing my face into his chest.
The TV still played in the background. Apparently, no one ever thought to turn it off when they left the room.
“Hey look, Friends is on,” I said sleepily, smiling a bit. “Louis, you’re Chandler.”
Louis laughed before leaning a bit closer to my ear to whisper, “Only if you’re my Monica.”
I blushed even in my sleepy state. “Of course. As long as you don’t mind someone who’s been hurt before and doesn’t even look half as pretty as Courtney Cox does.”
Louis made a noise of disagreement as his fingers began to run through my hair. “No, you’re wrong. Courtney Cox doesn’t look half as beautiful as you do.”
I blushed a deeper red, and Louis ghosted his fingers over my cheeks. “Your blush is beautiful,” he whispered.
“Thanks… so is yours, Lou.”
He laughed. “You’re about to go to sleep on me, aren’t you?”
My eyes had somehow slipped shut, and I couldn’t find words, so I just nodded.
My eyes snapped open when I felt Louis’ arms pulling me closer to him. I relaxed after a moment, closing my eyes again and rolling into him.
“G’night Boo Bear…” I murmured with a sigh of a content.
I heard his soft laugh in my ear, before he whispered “Goodnight love. I hope that you have sweet dreams.”
“Of course I will,” I sighed as I drifted into dream land. “You’re here protecting me from nightmares…”
Harry quietly crept out into the hallway with Danielle’s key. “What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her,” he muttered. “She wouldn’t care anyway. I’m just going to check on Ashley.”
That didn’t stop him from looking over his shoulder anyway. Just in case she did care, and had noticed it was missing. He’d slip it under Liam’s door later.
He heard the TV flickering still and realized no one had turned it off. Harry figured that he could use that as his excuse for going into the room - he had suddenly remembered that the TV was on.
Sliding the key in the door, he pushed it open and scanned the room for a few seconds before freezing in the doorway.
“Lou?” Harry said loudly, startling himself.
Louis jumped before holding a finger to his lips and using his other hand to gesture towards the sleeping figure - Ashley - beside him.
“She literally just fell asleep about twenty minutes ago,” Louis said quietly. “I’m not sure that she’s that far gone yet.”
Harry gave him an incredulous look. “How the hell did you get in here?”
“She came to our suite. I don’t even know how she got in, but she came to my room and knocked on my door. We’ve talked and we’re fine now.” Louis noticed the look of disbelief on Harry’s face, and he frowned slightly. “Really, Harry.”
Harry nodded slowly, moving a bit closer to Louis. “You’re lucky,” he remarked dryly.
Louis just nodded. “I know. She was honest though, she told me exactly why she was so freaked. I won’t do it again. I’m not going to get wasted like that again,” he said.
Harry watched Louis’ face carefully, but saw nothing but sincerity flooding it. “Alright, I believe you. But you just stayed here afterwards?”
“Well, to be fair, she offered me a blanket. And I didn’t want to go back there alone either…”
“Well, you’re going to. It’s way too soon for you two to be sleeping in the same bed after a fight! Wait until you’re together with her for that,” Harry replied with a smirk and a wink.
Louis laughed lightly, knowing that Harry was being serious but still appreciating his effort to tease him. “Fine, I’ll go. Just let me find some paper and leave her some kind of note…”
Louis trailed off, leaving a quick note and putting her phone over top of it so she would find it. “Perfect! I can’t let her worry,” Louis added to Harry.
Harry smirked in return. “You’ve got your room key, don’t you? I seem to have misplaced mine.”
“Oh Harry,” Louis said affectionately, ruffling the younger boy’s curls. “You’re scatterbrained.”
“At least I have a brain!” Harry laughed, swatting his friend’s hands away from him.
Louis laughed too, and the two boys shared a grin. Louis leaned over quickly and kissed Ashley’s temple before swinging his arm around Harry and leading the boy out the door, shutting it quietly behind them.