35: Fear and Fathers

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C H A P T E R    T H I R T Y F I V E

Fear and Fathers

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Ed didn't lead Harry very far; they were just outside his mum's hospital room, a few steps away and against the wall, out of the way of the hallway's traffic. In hindsight, Harry knew they should have gone further.

"What did he say?" Harry was asking, tucking his hands into his pockets.

"He wants to talk to you first."

He sighed. Of course. "Did you set up a time?"

"Duh." Ed dug around in his own pocket and pulled out his phone, swiping over the screen and tapping it until he'd found whatever he was looking for.

It was then that Harry felt another presence beside him. He glanced down, though he already knew who it was, and offered Louis a tight-lipped smile, because shit. But Louis didn't look as though he intended to say anything, and really, that's all Harry could ask for. They never did resume their argument over this the last time they'd had it, and it had been simmering beneath the surface, just waiting for the perfect moment to boil over. At least Louis looked like he might wait until Ed was gone.

"Will you still be here in two days?" Ed asked, lifting his eyes from his screen to Harry. He spotted Louis at the same time, spared him a second's glance, but said nothing about this new addition to their meeting.

"Possibly," Harry shrugged. "Depends on Mum."

"He wants to meet then, during dinner."

"That sounds... Okay. Yeah, that'll work."

"Good," Ed said. He looked between Harry and Louis almost purposefully, like he wanted them to know he saw the tension, saw whatever Harry didn't want him to see. And then he added, "Let me know if you need anything else," and left them alone.

Slowly, like he was worried he'd startle a wild animal, Harry turned toward Louis and jerked his chin toward his mum's room. "Shall we?" Of course, he never expected this to work, but he began moving in that direction anyway.

"Harry..."

With a sigh, he stopped, turned back to Louis who looked like he was still formulating what he wanted to say. So Harry tried, "I know what you're going to say – "

"Do you?"

"Yes, I do, because we started this and didn't finish it, but – "

"So when are we going to finish it? Because – "

Harry suddenly became very aware of not only how many people were roaming the hallway they still stood in, but also how close they were to his mother's room. The last thing he wanted to do was get Ed and Gemma involved in it, or his mum for that matter. So he quickly said, reaching for Louis' upper arms, "We'll finish it. We'll finish it, Louis, okay, but not here, alright? Not here. We'll go back in there and say our goodbyes and then we'll go somewhere to finish talking about this. No talking over each other like this, no audience. Okay?"

And though Louis didn't necessarily look like he wanted to drop it, he seemed to conditionally agree. "Today." It wasn't a question.

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