It was a meek Friday afternoon. Nevertheless, inside the Paylinson household the atmosphere was much different. Louis was helping Niall get ready for bed with the assist of Zayn whilst Liam bathed a not-so cheery Harry. 

You see, Harry had insisted on playing with all of his toys during bath time. Nonetheless, Liam wasn’t all that interested in having to clean up the huge mess he was bound to make, so he told Harry that he was allowed a maximum of seven toys (which might I mention was way above his standard limit). This didn’t seem to satisfy Harry and thus was a start of a temper tantrum. Liam (who was clearly at his wit’s end) picked the defiant toddler up and gave him more than a few slaps on the bum before wrangling him in to the tub. 

“You’re scrubbing too hard, Daddy.” Harry winced as Liam rubbed the washcloth against his arm with great force. 

Liam rolled his eyes and continued scrubbing, regardless. “Stop with your complaining.” 

Harry pouted and crossed his arms over one another. Liam could sense that Harry was starting to feel a bit drowsy, so he was doing his best to speed up the process. 

“The water is too cold.” Harry sniffled. 

Turning a blind eye to Harry, Liam reached for a towel and began to dry the stubborn toddler. He then reached for his pyjamas and began dressing the boy. Liam knew exactly what Harry was trying to do. He was trying to wind him up. And of course Harry had to complain about how ‘itchy’ his pyjamas were and how they didn’t ‘fit right’. 

“Harry if I so much as hear a peep out of you, I guarantee that you will be getting another spanking.” Liam said in an affirmative tone. 

“They really are itchy, Daddy.” Harry meekly said. 

This earned him a slight yet meaningful tap on the bum from Liam. Even though the slap wasn’t that hard, Harry still yelped when his Daddy’s monstrous hand landed on his behind. 

He scowled at his son with intensified rage. “First and final warning.” 

Harry didn’t dare speak. It was an unwritten rule that if Liam told you to stop once, you stopped. And if you hadn’t quit by the first warning, you were considered lucky if he hadn’t gotten up to go and retrieve the dreaded spoon. Plus, Harry really didn’t want a second spanking, his bottom was already aching from the first one and was probably a faint red. Overcome by fear, Harry shut his mouth and allowed his Daddy to dress him accordingly. 

“Come on.” Liam ordered. 

The terrified tot absent-mindedly stood still and reached his scrawny arms out to his Daddy.

Much to his surprise, Liam shook his head and merely pointed towards the door leading out of the bathroom. 

With his head hung low, Harry followed his Daddy up and out of the bathroom. Harry could hear the clearly audible laughter of his Papa, Niall and Zayn coming from Niall’s nursery. He wished that Papa had bathed him instead of mean old Daddy. Papa would have scrubbed a lot less harder if Niall had asked him to do so. Papa would have let Niall play with all of his toys. Papa would have turned the water down if Niall had asked him to do so. Papa would have gotten him another pair of pyjamas if he Niall had asked him to so. And Papa most probably wouldn’t have punished him just for complaining. 

Liam darted a lean finger towards the door that lead to Harry’s room. “Bed.” 

Harry dragged his feet to his bedroom, he knew that any attempt to persuade his Daddy to tuck him in or even at the least give him a goodnight peck was futile. 

And just like that, the lights flickered off and his Daddy slammed the door shut. 

. . . 

Louis was awoken by the sounds of strident cries. He figured that one of the boys must have had a nightmare or wet the bed.

Something like that. 

Making sure not to wake up his lethargic husband, Louis silently clambered out of bed. He nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard yet another monstrous wail. Louis was able to easily detect the origin of the whimpers. It was none other than his four-year-old son, Harry. 

Harry could sense that someone was lingering in his room. Incidentally, Harry hoped that it wasn’t his Daddy because, he would probably punish him for waking him up just as he had done for complaining. Bravely ripping the covers off, Harry sighed in relief as he came face to face with his Papa. 

All in one swift motion, Louis climbed up on to Harry’s bed and cradled the trembling tot in his arms. Much to his surprise, the bed was dry meaning that Harry hadn’t had an accident. Okay, he thought to himself, must be something else, then. Regardless, Louis rocked Harry to and fro, humming a tune as sweet as sugar.  

Louis soothingly rubbed at Harry’s back. “Tell Papa what’s wrong.”  

Harry only snuggled deeper in to Louis’ sides.

“It’ll make you feel a lot better.” He coaxed. 

The four-year-old thought about it for about it for a split second or so before mumbling. “Daddy hates me.” 

Louis gasped and ightened his grip on his four-year-old son, peppering kisses all over his tear-stained cheeks . "Oh, baby. You know he doesn't." 

Remembering the events that had taken place prior to this evening, Harry felt like crying all over again. “I wanted more toys in the tub, but Daddy said no. So, I accidentally on purpose hit him and-“ 

Louis' rasied an eyebrow. 

“No, Papa listen.” Harry violently rubbed at his eyes as more tears threatened to spill. “Then Daddy spanked me and he scrubbed too hard and the water was too cold and my pyjamas were too itchy.” 

“Did you tell him?” Louis smoothened down Harry’s auburn curls. 

He nodded his head vigorously. “Yes, Papa I did. But, then he said that he would spank me again and then he sent me to bed and didn’t even tuck me in or give me a kiss.” 

Louis could have sworn that he felt his heart nearly sink. It was one thing for Liam to punish Harry for hitting him, but to threaten to do so again with no justified reasoning and to completely neglect him was out of the question. 

“That was very wrong of Daddy.” Louis held the solemn boy closer. “And I am going to sort everything out, alright?" 

Harry was reluctant, but moderately nodded his head. 

“Let’s not think about stinky old Daddy.” Louis teased. “Let’s sleep instead, okay?”

Harry giggled and lay his head on his Papa’s chest. “Alright, Papa." 

Before closing his eyes, Louis placed a soft peck on Harry’s forehead. Harry softly smiled and little by little nodded off, at least he had his Papa to tuck him in and kiss him goodnight. 

. . . 

When Harry woke up in the early hours of the morning, he found himself not in his room, but in his parents. He rubbed the drowsiness out of his eyes and looked up to see that he was snuggled deep in to his Daddy and that he had placed a protecting arm over his frail body. 

Harry couldn't help but smile. 

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