ACT II: CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

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A/N: Thank you Lord for getting me through the last chapter. Onto greener pastures!

I've added Bijou to this week's collage because why not.


LOUIS / PRESENT

We were a few weeks away from dress rehearsal and tensions were running high.

Harry's presence in the company had brought the production unprecedented levels of attention. Tickets sold out seconds after going on sale. The list of celebrities and nobility who would be in attendance rivaled that of a royal wedding! I was so terrified of fucking up I had a recurring nightmare of falling offstage. Rehearsal had become my life. When I wasn't practicing with Gigi and the rest of the company during the day, I was logging extra hours in the studio at night to perfect my solos. However, it was hard to concentrate on work when every five minutes I had someone come up to me complaining about Harry.

Niall was furious with him for going above his head and giving notes to the obo player. Zayn was still bitter about losing his solo. Liam was pissed because Harry refused to let them use his face on the programme, suggesting they use an abstract painting instead. Maurice was basically a prisoner of war.

Even the girls had snapped. He'd changed both of their solos multiple times and demanded they rehearse on his erratic schedule. They took powernaps between punishing sessions of partnerwork. They looked like ghouls every morning with pasty complexions and dark circles beneath their eyes: Two dead swans.

I don't know how I escaped his wrath considering we hated each other, but I went about my business without incident. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. Harry watched me dance from behind his dark curls, his green eyes following me around the studio like a homing device. I braced myself for some bitchy comment about my technique but it never came. Sometimes he would even praise my dancing.

"Not terrible, Louis."

"Fuck you very much."

Still, it was hard to ignore the chorus of complaints that were growing, especially when Liam cornered me in my dressing room before rehearsal to address the issue head on.

I was putting on my beaten slippers when he entered the room, cheeks red with fury.

"This has to end!" Liam grabbed the bottle of water off my vanity, splashing the floor before it reached his lips. He hobbled around the room, too angry to be self-conscious about his limp. "He's changed every aspect of this production to his liking. Now he's refusing to do any interviews to promote it! I had him booked on The Morning Show! Television, Louis. Television about dancing that's not Strictly Come Dancing. This could have been huge for us!"

"Is this the part where I say I told you so, or..."

He was shaking, he was so mad. I'd never seen someone as reserved as Liam lose control of his emotions like that. He personified ballet with his composure and effortless grace, no matter how hard he worked to conceal the effort it took to maintain such poise. All of that had fallen away. Harry had stripped what little civility he could feign.

"I'm staging an intervention."

"He's not a drug addict, Liam, he's just a twat."

"Everyone's agreed to participate, even the girls, and you know they've always had a soft spot for him."

"He won't go for it," I said, looking at my tired reflection in the mirror. "We've all tried talking to him. Nothing works."

"We've all tried talking to him individually. If the company comes together in one room, he'll have no choice but to back down. Strength in numbers."

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