Part Two

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He wakes to a conversation outside his door, not hushed enough for him not to hear. Morning light is streaming in through the window and Louis squeezes his eyes shut as he remembers the events of yesterday.

"Harry, I'm not sure it's a good idea right now, yeah? He's fragile."

"But treating him like he is isn't going to help! How would you feel, Liam?"

"I know you think this is a good idea, but maybe we should just have a quiet day at home-"

"This isn't home and you know it won't be quiet. C'mon, treating him carefully won't help. Let's go do more tourist stuff. We're in Quebec, I'm sure there's more shit to do."

"Are you sure about this?"

"Yes, Li. He needs the day out."

"Alright, I'll wake him up."

Louis feigns sleep when Liam walks in, shaking him awake gently, telling him they're gonna go do more tourist stuff, but only if he's okay with that. Louis quickly tells him yes and gets ready to the sound of Zayn singing to himself the next room over, the smell of eggs from the kitchen, and the mixture of Harry and Niall's laughter echoing throughout the house. It doesn't make Louis feel better, but it makes him feel okay, and that's something.

They eat breakfast and are careful. They don't tease Louis too much, don't even talk to him too much. And Louis instantly misses their warmth, misses their smiles. But he puts up with it, knowing it was his own fault.

They pile into the SUV again and Liam says he found a place where you can go in the caves as well as go zip-lining and Louis shrugs and says sure for the hell of it. Maybe he needs an adrenaline rush. (After all, the need for numbness is overwhelming.)

It takes an hour to get there and Niall fills the air with ramblings about the antics of Sean and Greg, stories that have a faint smile on Louis lips and laughter falling from everyone else's. They get to Laflèche Adventure around eleven and stretch in the cool breeze, shivering a little.

They opt for the caves first, joining a group of others and a guide and teasing each other about the helmets you have to wear. There's steep steps that lead them up into the caves, and Louis nearly trips a few times, along with Niall who curses under his breath and blames Liam for his imminent death. When the group reaches a cave space, the guide tells them to kneel or sit down so she can talk and then turn off their helmet-lights. Louis accidentally ends up beside Harry and he sighs, but the younger man does nothing to change it.

The whole point of them turning off the lights is to 'give you the effect the bats have, complete darkness, except those bats can see and you can't' which has Zayn scoffing under his breath and Louis wanting to run away and not do this. But he has to, and as they flick their lights off, they're plunged into pitch black darkness and a couple of people swear at how strange it is.

The guide tells them to be quiet and 'listen for the bats, they might be in here' and she's clearly just trying scare them but Louis feels Harry tense up next to him, and somehow he finds those familiar slender fingers and curls his own around them. Harry inhales quickly but then relaxes, and even though Louis can't see him, he knows he's calmed down.

When everyone turns their lights back on they quickly drop each other's fingers and Harry goes back to being cold and Louis goes back to being lost.

Zip-lining is next, and the person who sets them up for it recognises them and asks for a picture. They oblige and plaster on fake smiles, and Louis can't be the only one who feels completely weird and nostalgic about taking a group picture again, arms around each other, hands brushing like before.

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