(Banner credit goes to fromlovetotruth, thanks hun!)
The world doesn’t know his secret. Sexually abused by his father for years, sex has always been a bad thing to Harry. It’s not something he tells people, in fact, not even his mum knows. Only Gemma, and she’d found out on accident. What happens when he feels comfortable enough to tell Louis, who then makes it his mission to help Harry, fix him, make sex a good thing again? Larry Stylinson happens, eventually.
Notes: This was inspired by the song Proof by Coldplay, or rather, I thought this up while listening to that, so it’s always cool to listen to it while reading? I dunno.
Warning: This includes flashbacks and talk of rape, panic attacks, and eventually smut. Keep in mind that this may be triggering, yeah?
Read the rest here.
Aaaaaaand it’s here! There will be one more chapter after this (or possibly two, idk) and then an epilogue. Warnings for mentions of rape and abuse, panic attacks and such. Other than that, some angst and then some good ol hurt/comfort.
Harry squeezes his eyes shut and forces his breathing, in and out, in and out, like Louis would coach if he were here. But he’s not here. So Harry just listens through the phone as his dad waits him out, probably listening to his small noises the same way.
“It’s very rude to call someone and then clam up.” His father scolds, and Harry feels guilt hit like it used to.
“Sorry.” He manages to say, more like a plead than anything.
“Ah, there you are. Your voice has changed so much, it’s strange.” He comments casually, as if he didn’t rape Harry, as if he didn’t ruin his innocence, as if he didn’t screw him up entirely.
Harry doesn’t answer because his voice is caught in his throat, along with a lump of terror.
“Now, I’m glad you called, son, I’ve missed you very much.” He goes on, and Harry wishes he were brave and coherent enough to bite out no, you miss fucking me, but he isn’t, so he doesn’t.
“Mhm.” He sounds instead, sniffling pathetically.
His father clearly hears, asking “Are you crying? What have you done now?”
And fuck, he wants to hate him for it, wants to tell him that not everything is his fault, but this is, most things are, and so he slumps against the cupboards, shaking as more tears brim over.
“I fucked up.” He whimpers, mind showing him pictures of his father pushing him down onto the bed. It’s like just hearing his voice is enough to make it all real and scary and worse than it’s ever been. Harry just wants Louis.
But he doesn’t have him, and it’s because he fucked up.
“Of course you did, you’re rather good at that, aren’t you?” His father asks sarcastically, superiority laced in his already menacing tone.
Harry subconsciously curls in on himself further, so that he’s a little ball against the island, breathing raggedly into his knees, tear splattered curls sticking to his temple. “Yeah.” He whispers.
“Alright, so tell me what you did, then.” His father instructs, and it’s far too easy to fall back into his old ways, answering immediately.
“I, I lied to someone, and, and, um, he’s really upset, and, I just, I can’t l-lose him, I need h-him.” Harry struggles to explain, chest hitching repeatedly.
“Mm.” His father hums. “Is this one of the boys, then? Louis, maybe?”
Harry clenches his eyes shut again and times his next breath, choking on it slightly. All he can do is whine out an “Uhuh.”
“Had a feeling.” His dad chuckles, a dark sound. “Your mother told me about you two, you know. Boyfriends, huh? Always knew you were a faggot.”
Harry’s heart jumps and he shakes his head, forgetting that no one can see. The word hurts, not even because it’s a slur, but because of who it’s coming from.
“Don’t-” Harry tries to fight, but cuts himself off.
“You are, Harry. You liked it, didn’t you? Liked getting fucked by me.” His father pushes, pushes, pushes.
“No.” Harry sobs. “I didn’t, I didn’t, I didn’t.”
“I think you did.” His dad smirks. He doesn’t have to see him to know.
“I fucking didn’t, you, you, you made me, it’s not fair, it wasn’t fair, you messed me u-up.” Harry cries, fingers hurting where they’re scraping at the floor, as if it’s the wall back in his childhood room.
“It wasn’t fair? Really? You damn well know I had to. You thought you could get away with anything, couldn’t you? Someone had to teach you better.” His father tells him firmly, and Harry wilts, words pushing him back into the place he used to be.
All he does is let out another pathetic sound.
“Exactly.” His father says. “You got punished when you did something wrong. And you’ve done something wrong, haven’t you Harry? You’ve made Louis angry with you.”
Harry feels like he’s tumbling to pieces, but he’s somehow hyperaware of the ticking of the clock on the wall, the way his legs are trembling, and worst of all, the way his father is breathing heavily into the phone.
“Yes.” He answers, because it’s true.
“Tell me what you did.” His father orders. He’s quick to give him what he wants.
“I lied, I, I wasn’t supposed to read your texts, but I did, and I didn’t tell him, I didn’t say anything, and, and we promised we wouldn’t do that, we wouldn’t lie, but, but I did, all week, and he, he found out, he found it on my phone.” Harry cries, wiping his wet face with a shaking hand.
“Ah. So he knows, then? You weren’t supposed to tell, either. You’ve been misbehaving, Harry.” His dad says, and there may have been a small waver of fear there, but Harry can’t focus on it, can’t focus on anything other than the guilt and fear and overwhelming need to make everything better.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” Harry shivers, gasping for air.
“Sorry’s not enough.” His father taunts, just like he always did, and Harry suddenly feels the ghostly reminders of his hands on him, in him, holding him down. He wants to disappear.
“I know.” Harry whispers brokenly.
“You know you need to be punished. You’ve been very naughty lately, very bad. You can’t do things like that Harry, you can’t let people down, you can’t hurt them. They’ll hate you.” His dad tells him, and he knows that, of course he does.
But. But Louis said he’d never hate him. Louis said he’d never judge or hate or anything. Louis is soft and warm and full of steady love, and he’s caring and a bright smile and all Harry wants to do is burrow into his neck and be held, feel safe, anchored, but he can’t. He can’t.
So he just musters a small amount of courage to stutter “Louis wouldn’t h-hate me.”
His father tuts. “You sure about that? He found out his little fag boyfriend was betraying him all week long. Who knows how many other things you’ve lied to him about. He’ll never trust you again.”
Harry shakes his head, wanting him out, out, out. But he’s right. Harry knows he’s right.
He lets out a feeble sob, and nothing else.
“So I think you need to be taught a lesson, Harry. You understand why I can’t let you get away with all this, right?” His dad asks, words lilting like he’s grinning. The mental image makes Harry struggle for air.
“Uhuh.” He sounds unevenly.
“Course you do. Now how about you tell me where you are right now? You better be honest, son, no more lying. No more fucking up.” His father tells him.
He’s about to answer when he hears the flat door open, and his heart both soars and drops, because what if it’s Louis? Louis who is angry with him and probably hates him-
He peeks out of his knees to see Niall walk in the room though, and his gaze settles on him, curled into a ball, body wracked with tremors, tears streaming. Harry’s helpless as the blond boy spots the phone, and as he puts the pieces together, because Niall is smart, Niall is everything Harry is not.
His father is speaking to him, demanding he answer, but it’s like he’s in too many places at once, with Niall in the kitchen, with his dad in reality, with his dad in his head, and fuck, he can’t even move, it’s like he’s paralyzed.
But Niall carefully drops to his knees in front of him and pries the phone out of his hand, and he wants to fight him to get it back, but he also wants it to go far away, and he can’t decide, so he doesn’t. He lets the other boy take it and watches on blurrily as he lifts it to his own ear, eyes stone cold, face set.
And then Niall is speaking to his father, saying “If you fucking come near him, or so much as text him ever again, I’ll send the police after you and you’ll never see the outside of prison again, do you understand me, you sick bastard?”
Harry can hear his dad sneer back “They won’t convict me. Harry wouldn’t dare go against me like that.”
“Maybe not. But that just means I’ll have to strangle you with my bare fucking hands. Now get out of his life.” Niall spits, before hanging up forcefully and tossing the phone to the side.
Harry whines but doesn’t move from the space he’s cocooned himself in, staring at Niall through blurry eyes.
“Hey, Hazza.” The blond says, tone quiet and caring now. “I’m not mad at you, okay, and I need you to tell me what you need.”
Harry can’t choke any words out now, stuck between relief and fear, feeling phantom pains, hearing faggot, liar, bad Harry, very bad, over and over in his head.
“Please, Harry, tell me, is it okay if I hold you? Can I cuddle you?” Niall asks gently.
Harry thinks about it for a moment and decides that that would be okay. He likes cuddles, they make him feel better, and even though he deserves to feel bad, he hadn’t done anything wrong to Niall, not properly. So he nods, sniffling.
Niall smiles and crawls to cradle him into his chest, and he’s warm, and he smells like he always does, a bit like chocolate, and Harry latches onto it like he does his shirt, gripping it tight and crying into his neck.
“I’m sorry.” He hiccups, trembling.
But Niall hushes him, rubbing circles on his back. “No, shh, please don’t apologize, please. You did nothing wrong, and I know you can’t see that right now, and that’s alright, but I just need you to know that it’s okay, everything’s okay, Haz. You’re fine, just breathe for me, can you that please? I’d really like it if you could breathe for me.”
And at least that’s something Harry could do right, not fuck up, so he counts them, in and out like Louis taught him, and decidedly doesn’t think about Louis when he remembers that. He inhales and exhales and Niall does it with him, mumbling about how well he’s doing and that’s nice too, despite him not deserving it.
When he’s breathing better, Niall kisses his head, squeezing him tight. “There you go, thank you. Now, can you tell me how you’re feeling? You don’t have to explain, or anything, just. Tell me what you feel right now.”
Harry tries, he does, but it’s so much all at once and he still wants to melt into the ground, so he just cries and stammers “I don’t know.”
“Okay, shh, that’s alright.” Niall soothes. “What do you want, then? Do you want to stay here, or move to your bedroom, or call Louis?”
Harry whimpers at that, shaking his head rapidly and mussing his hair against Niall’s shirt. “No, no he hates me, no.” He cries, wanting to die.
“Louis doesn’t hate you, Harry. He’s just a bit angry, if that. He could never, never hate you, I promise. He loves you so, so much. More than anything.” Niall says into his curls, and Harry doesn’t believe him, but he doesn’t argue either.
He’s too tired to bother, even, too exhausted and scared and panicked and fuck, it’s really all too much. He feels faint and mumbles “I think I’m gonna pass out.” into Niall’s shirt, and the other boy tells him that’s okay, and as soon as he knows he won’t make him mad too, he lets go, slipping under.
Harry stirs out of sleep who knows how long later, and he immediately knows he’s in Louis’ arms, because he could recognize them anywhere, and even if he couldn’t, his distinctive cologne is wrapped around them like a safety blanket. But Harry doesn’t feel safe.
He blinks his tired eyes open and sees that he’s in their bedroom, laying on Louis’ chest, and Louis is rubbing circles into his back. Harry shifts, tilting his head up to see his face, and Louis’ eyes are red rimmed and slightly puffy, like he’s been crying for ages, and instantly the voice in Harry’s head says your fault, you did that, he hates you.
He’s quick to pull out of his arms and sit up, moving to the other end of the mattress. Louis looks at him in surprise, mouth agape, hands held in the air as if he wants to tug him back, but knows he shouldn’t. Harry brings his knees into his chest like he did when he was on the phone with his dad-
Oh. And now he remembers it all. His rough voice and his knowing words and Niall stopping him and cuddling him close, and fuck, now he’s crying too.
“Hey, love.” Louis says softly, voice thick with emotion. “How are you feeling?”
Harry doesn’t answer, because he still doesn’t really know. He gives a half shrug and avoids Louis’ blue eyes.
“Okay.” Louis sniffs, accepting that he won’t get an answer. “Is it okay if I talk to you? Or would. Would you like me to leave?”
Harry does, he does want him to leave because he can’t deal with the fact that he made his boyfriend hate him, hurt him so much, but he doesn’t want to make it even worse, no. So he shrugs again.
“Alright, um. I don’t really know where to start, Harry.” Louis mumbles, looking down at his hands.
“I’m sorry.” Harry blurts out. He supposes he should just say it now. “I’m so sorry.”
Louis shakes his head and scoots closer to him, carefully, blinking rapidly. “Sweetheart, no, you haven’t done anything wrong.” He says, and wait, what?
“I lied to you.” Harry sniffles. “I betrayed you and I lost you and it’s all my fault and I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”
“No, no, Harry, please listen to me, please.” Louis begs, pressing at his temples. Harry nods cautiously, because he’ll always listen to Louis. “Yes, you lied. And yes, I was mad. But you didn’t lose me. You’ll never lose me. I’m right here, aren’t I? I’m not leaving.”
Harry whimpers and closes his eyes, hugging his knees tighter. It’s all so confusing, he doesn’t know who to believe. Louis’ saying it’s okay, but his father said it wasn’t, and his father was always right, but then again, so is Louis, and. Harry’s brain is too crowded so he inhales and exhales, trying to calm down.
“You don’t hate me?” He asks weakly, ready to start rebuilding his walls.
But Louis’ jaw drops and he urges “No, god no, never. I don’t know what he told you, okay, but I love you, so much, and I could never, never hate you. You’re my everything, Hazza.”
Harry feels his whole body go lax, and it’s like he can breathe again, and his knees slump down and his heart beats properly and Louis is there, enveloping him in his arms, careful but secure, and it’s okay. Mostly, at least.
“Shh, baby, you’re safe, nobody hates you, nobody’s going to hurt you, you’re okay.” Louis tells him, and there’s an inkling in Harry’s mind, a small one that believes what he’s saying, believes Louis is being honest.
He breathes him in, not quite holding him back, but staying there all the same, and he closes his eyes and repeats it in his head, you’re safe, Harry. But his father still lurks under the surface, still whispers doubts, and it’s all so real now, having heard his voice again, having talked to him.
“Why’re you here?” Harry asks, wincing when it comes out harsher than intended.
Louis sighs and kisses his head, but Harry shrinks away from the affection, though he’s not sure why.
“Niall called, after you. After you passed out.” He says, breathing becoming shakier as his words get thicker. “And I got here as fast as I could, fuck, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry I left you, and I’m sorry I got angry, and I’m sorry you felt like you needed to call your dad because you didn’t, okay, I love you so much and I’d never hate you, never, all I ever want is to protect you, and I’m so sorry I didn’t, I’m so sorry.”
And then he’s breaking down into sobs, and Harry doesn’t know what to do. He stays where he is and holds him a bit tighter, saying “It’s not your fault, Lou.”
“It is, though. I didn’t take care of you like I should have. I should never have left you alone.” Louis cries into his curls, and all Harry can do is shrug again.
“You didn’t know I would do that. I didn’t know I would do that.” He offers, wishing his gut would stop swirling with the bad memories.
“Oh, darling.” Louis murmurs, sniffling and regaining a little composure. “I didn’t have to know. I should have stayed and protected you from yourself, not just him.”
Harry isn’t sure how to respond, so he doesn’t.
They stay like that for a few moments, Harry with his head on Louis’ collarbone, Louis drawing circles on his back.
“Are you scared?” The older boy asks then.
Harry thinks about it, and decidedly thinks yes, yes he is. And maybe earlier in the week he would have downplayed it, and maybe last night he would have fibbed, but now he knows there’s no point. He needs to be honest. No more lying. (No more fucking up, Harry.)
“Mhm.” He hums, fidgeting slightly.
Louis sighs again and nuzzles into the skin behind his ear, and it’s nice, not as off-putting now that he feels safer.
“I know you might not believe it, and I get that, but please try to understand that you’re one hundred percent safe. He can’t hurt you, never ever, and even if he came anywhere near here, I’d protect you, as would the boys.”
“Are they here too?” Harry questions, needing the subject change.
“Yeah, in the living room. Niall’s been fussing over you for hours. S’cute.” Louis says, but his tone goes a bit cold near the end.
“You don’t seem too happy about it.” Harry mutters.
Louis heaves another sigh and admits “Just feel like I can’t do my job right.”
“Let’s just.” Harry stammers. “Let’s forget it. Or, put it aside, or whatever. We were both. Well, I was stupid. You were angry. That’s to be expected.”
“But it still wasn’t right of me, Harry. You must see that.” Louis insists.
Harry shrugs again. He keeps doing that.
“So let’s put it all aside. I just want us to be okay. We need to be okay, cause if we’re not, I’m. I’ll fall apart.” He chokes out, turning further into Louis’ neck.
“Oh, shh baby, we’re perfectly okay.” The older boy soothes. “Alright? No need to fall. That said, if you do, I’ll catch you.”
“Cheesy.” Harry mumbles without an ounce of a smile.
“Warranted.” Louis reasons.
“Do you wanna talk about anything else, or would you like to cuddle, or, um, see Niall and the others, or?” Louis asks then, pulling back a bit to look at him. “Anything you want, love.”
Harry tries to pick, he really does, but he can’t. He brings one knee up to his chest and says “I don’t know. Everything’s. Off.”
“I know.” Louis murmurs, but no, he doesn’t, he’s acting like he does but he doesn’t.
“But you don’t.” Harry argues, leaning away from him enough that he has to let go. “You don’t know. You weren’t on the phone with him, you didn’t. You didn’t hear what he said, and. You don’t know, okay, and. I’m so confused.”
Louis blinks back tears and gently places a hand on Harry’s own shaking one. “Help me understand?”
“I can’t decide if he’s right, or if you are, and I just.” He cuts off, shrugging for the seemingly dozenth time.
“He’s not right, Harry.” Louis states firmly, but. But.
“He’d say the same about you. He did say the same about you.” Harry whimpers, scrubbing at his eyes.
Louis hesitates, slumping and removing his hand. “I…I don’t know how to help make you see it.”
“You can’t.” Harry breathes.
There’s a soft knock at the door and they look up to see Niall peek in, biting his lip. “I wasn’t eaves dropping, I swear, I just. Can I come in? You can say no.”
“No, it’s okay.” Louis tells him, and Harry nods, still curled up into himself.
“So, I was coming to ask you two about dinner, and I overheard, and. I was just wondering if I could just reason with you for a mo, Haz.” Niall suggests, tentatively sitting down beside them on the bed.
Harry nods again, warily.
“Alright, well. I’m not trying to tell you what to think, but. Your dad is a horrible, horrible person, who did horrible things to you, because he felt like it. He abused you, and he ruined your childhood. He hurt you. But Louis? Louis would never. He loves you more than anything. You should have seen him, Harry, he was worried sick, he was almost as panicked as you were. The only thing he wants is for you to be safe and happy and cared for. More than anything.” Niall tells him, offering a sad smile.
“Mhm.” Harry hums, glancing over to see Louis nod, teary eyed.
“So I’d like to think you should believe him over your father, yeah?” The blond boy says.
“Yeah, it’s just.” Harry cuts off, still not able to fully explain it.
“I know.” Niall sighs.
“You don’t though.” Harry snaps, wincing afterwards and hiding in his knees, because no more fucking up Harry, people will hate you.
Niall waits a moment before carefully responding. “I do. More than Louis, at least.”
“What?” Harry and Louis seem to ask at the same time.
“Did neither of you stop to wonder why I get all of this so easily? God, guys. You’re so wrapped up in each other.” Niall snorts, shaking his head. “I had a friend back in school, yeah? We were, like, fourteen or so, and her Uncle lived with her family. And her Uncle was pretty horrible too.”
Realization hits and Harry lets out a small “Oh.”
“Mm. He got arrested though, and she’s okay. We keep in touch. But it took her a really long time to recover, and I kind of became her shoulder to cry on, or whatever. I just tried to help the best I could.” Niall goes on, reaching out to rub Harry’s knee. It’s nice.
“M’sure she loves you a lot for that.” Harry offers.
“She does, I think. Not like you love Louis, but she’s like a little sister, almost. Regardless, that’s why I said I know. Because I may not understand, but I understand. Yeah? All I want is for you to recover too, and see things the way she does, now. Your father messed with your head, and quite frankly, fucked you up. And you’ll be able to see it that way, one day.” Niall finishes.
There’s a silence then, and Louis opens his mouth to speak but Harry cuts him off with a meek “You think?”
Niall smirks. “I’d bet all my money on it.”
“Thanks. Just. Yeah, thanks.” Harry stutters, voice thick.
“Course. How’re you feeling? Have you and Louis sorted yourselves out?” Niall asks, and good, Harry needed to get off that subject.
“Yeah.” He mumbles, and Louis nods along.
“Good. I’m gonna order pizza, yeah? You don’t have to eat with us, if you don’t want to. But I’ll let you know when it’s here?” Niall asks, walking to the door.
When Louis doesn’t answer for him like he usually does, Harry utters a quiet “Okay.”
Niall smiles again and gives a half wave before leaving, shutting the door with a click. Harry looks over to Louis and sees the way he’s hovering, like he’s unsure, and unsure is not something that should ever describe Louis Tomlinson. He reaches over and touches their hands again, the most he feels okay initiating at the moment. Louis’ lips twitch up a little and he plays with their thumbs.
“He’s right, you know. All I want is for you to be happy.” He says.
“You make me happy.” Harry replies honestly.
“M’glad.” Louis smiles, before sobering. “But, I mean. I mean more in the sense of you being okay, after this. After. Y’know.”
Harry breaks eye contact to glance away, willing down the fear that arises. It’s a bit like trying not to throw up, he thinks, because it feels like all his sadness and trauma and that stupid fucking voice in his head will all spill out if he lets his guard down. He’s used to trying not to throw up. He did it every night his dad- no.
“I don’t wanna think about it right now, please.” He begs. “I can’t. Can you just stay here with me, and, like, just hold me?”
“Yeah, yeah of course I can.” Louis hushes quickly and gathers him in his arms.
They lie down again and Louis brings the sheet over their heads like a makeshift fort and god, he knows him so well, Harry nearly cries. But he’s cried too much. So he lays his head down beside Louis’ and they stare for a moment in the dim light, hesitating.
“Can I kiss you?” Louis finally questions.
Harry doesn’t know if that’s a good idea but he’s upset enough people in the last twenty four hours. “Um. Yeah.” He tries.
“That didn’t sound too sure.” Louis says, furrowing his eyebrows.
“I don’t really know, right now. Just kiss me and we’ll see?” Harry prompts, because it’s true, really.
“Alright.” His boyfriend mutters tentatively.
He leans in and connects their lips in a gentle kiss and it’s as comfortable as ever, if maybe a bit cautious. But Harry sighs contently into it, because kissing Louis is something that will never fail to make him happy, regardless of what’s happened.
When they break apart, Louis weakly asks “Okay?”
“Yeah.” Harry nods.
Louis tucks him into his neck then, and Harry goes easily, nestling into the skin there. Louis’ arms are secure around him, and he’s protected, and he feels safe there, mostly. At least for now. Louis breathes into his curls and when he talks, Harry feels the vibrations.
“I really meant what I said yesterday, you know. Not. Not when we fought. Earlier, when. The I love you part. Because I really, really do, like. On the level you do. And I know it took me a long time to be honest with all this, and to catch up with you, but I’m here now and I’m not going anywhere. I’m honestly in love with you, Harry.” Louis tells him, punctuating it with kisses to his cheek, temple, hair. He doesn’t shy away, this time. “And we’re gonna get past this, and you’re gonna be okay, I promise you.”
“Thank you.” Is all Harry can choke out without crying.