Part One

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Louis is 18 and in the X Factor with his four new best friends. He spends his nights staying up late and watching movies with them, sneaking booze into the house and playing truth or dare, never have I ever, spin the bottle. It's immature and awkward but it's fun, and Louis thrives off fun. He gets along with them amazingly, though a certain curly haired boy might go past that. They're making it through each week and any time Louis feels a little overwhelmed there's Harry to tell him stupid stories that soothe him into a peaceful sleep.

*

Louis is 19 and kissing Harry is his favorite thing to do. They're famous, very famous, and the two of them have to be careful but it doesn't matter because they're happy. The boys don't mind either, just tease them for PDA which they respond to by snogging ridiculously in front of them. They're figuring out how to work and it's new, sometimes weird, but still fun. They're good, really good, and any time Louis doubts that there's Harry to pull him onto the bed and suck a hickey into his neck, making him forget all about it.

*

Louis is 20 and in love with Harry. They're even more famous and management is overbearing, so overbearing. He has fake dates with Eleanor, fake answers in interviews, fake smiles in public. Everything is fake, and the only thing that's real is him and Harry, whispering late at night and sharing brushes of skin. They fight a lot, argue over silly things, but in the end they always end up kissing. They're coping, and any time Louis wants to scream it all out there's Harry to take it, always take it, and then promise him it'll get better. It never does, though.

*

Louis is 21 and things are falling apart. He still loves Harry and Harry still loves him but it's not the same, never the same. There's yelling and fighting, pushing each other to the limit and then cracking, cracking under the pressure. Harry wants to come out, Louis absolutely can't, so they spend more and more time apart. Louis obeys management and goes out with Eleanor, coming home to find Harry asleep on the couch. They're not functioning anymore, and nowadays when Louis thinks about his life, thinks about everything being out of control and not even fucking worth it anymore, there's no Harry to hug him tight and kiss his cheeks. He has to deal with it alone and that, that is scary.

*

Louis is 22 and he thinks his life is over. Harry's long gone, their breakup vicious and hurtful. One Direction fell apart soon after, and though the fans were sad it's not like it fucking mattered. They're done. Liam still keeps in touch, weekly phone calls filled with questions. Zayn stops by for a beer occasionally, but that's it. Niall is in Ireland but he manages Skype calls here and there. But Louis doesn't know where Harry is, how Harry is, who Harry is. Harry's gone and everybody tiptoes around the subject and Louis wants to scream except he's too tired to do any of that, there's no one to shut him up with kisses anymore. When Louis hears a radio host say 'Harry Styles seen out with another model, oh goodness!' he loses control and finds the closest thing to him, slashing the scissors across his wrist. It hurts and there's blood everywhere but Louis likes it. It's the start of the fall.

*

Louis is 23 and he's pushing everyone away. He stops answering calls, returning texts, checking his email. He moves into a smaller apartment because he won't work and he spent a lot of his fame money. He's a wreck. He never leaves home unless he absolutely has to, and that's only to stack up on pain meds. The only pain he's in is emotional, but...nobody needs to know that. He's dependent on those little white pills. Those, and the razor blades that he practically hoards. He can never have enough, really. And whenever he hears Harry's name on the radio, or hangs up on his mom, or sees an article with a picture of himself and people talking about how washed up he looks...well. He ruins his skin until the blood is dripping off, and then swallows some pills to help him pass out and get some sleep. As the days go by, the bags under his eyes get darker, the shake in his hands becomes nearly constant, and his hatred for life builds and builds.

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