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Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Three days had passed since the emergence of Harry’s wings. Louis had spent countless hours on the Internet, researching anything he could find about the phenomenon. Which wasn’t much, he was unsurprised to note. Mostly fairy tales and folk lore and far too much unhelpful information on angels. People were really into them, apparently. He could find no actual medical documentation of anything even approaching what had happened to Harry.

Harry spent much of the time sleeping, taking more pain pills as he healed, recovering from the trauma to his body. When he was awake, he’d begun to flex his wings, extending them to their full span, closing them tightly against his body, learning how they worked, like a toddler testing out his legs. Louis would always stop to watch, still mesmerized by the wings, by the otherworldly picture Harry would make, strange and alien, but oh so beautiful, and still so completely Harry. There had been several attempts to modify some clothing, cutting out a section in the back for Harry’s wings, but eventually Harry tossed them aside in frustration, deciding to simply go without. Louis didn’t complain.

Harry had continued to be steadfast in his refusal to let anyone know. He wouldn’t agree to let a doctor examine him, insisting that only Louis tend to his wounds. Louis was nervous, still afraid he’d mess something up or hurt Harry further, but the jagged sores were healing far faster than he suspected was normal, the skin knitting back together without a single scar. Louis pushed aside the discomfort nagging at the edges of his brain which told him supernatural forces were involved. That was simply too much to contemplate right now. No, he needed to deal with practicalities, the familiar. They needed to deal with reality.

Which included the increasingly irate and threatening calls from management. When Louis had called to tell them he and Harry had food poisoning, graphically describing in detail their predicament which prevented them from attending a planned publicity event, he knew he wouldn’t be able to get away with his delaying tactics for long. He’d stretched the food poisoning into a stomach virus, but the reactions had gone from concern and get well wishes to screaming matches about broken contracts and neglecting responsibility.

Louis tossed his phone on the table and rubbed his hands across his face, taking a deep breath to try and calm down. He needed to think this through.

He flinched as a hand rested on the back of his neck, squeezing gently. He hadn’t even heard Harry approach. “We’re going to have to tell them, aren’t we?”

Louis looked up and saw resignation on Harry’s face. He nodded. “I don’t think I can put them off any longer. I keep expecting they’re going to be banging on the door any minute. They’ve got a doctor lined up ready to send on over to confirm we’re unable to work. I’ve done what I can, but I don’t think there’s any way to keep it a secret any longer, not unless we both want to get sued.”

“All right,” Harry said, shoulders sagging. “All right,” he said again, voice a little stronger, as if convincing himself. “But we’re telling the others first. We’re going to make decisions together. All five of us. And then I’ll have to tell my mum.”

Louis nodded, relief flooding him. He hadn’t realized what a weight it had been bearing the secret alone.

“Yeah, that’s good. I’ll give them a call.” He reached for his phone.

Harry grabbed his arm to stop him.

Louis looked up, noting the expression on Harry’s face; his heart clenched. He stood up and wrapped his arms around Harry’s waist, squeezing tightly as he placed a kiss on Harry’s jaw. “It’s going to be fine. I promise.”

“Do you… do you think Niall will be afraid of me?” His voice was small.

“Haz, no. Don’t be ridiculous.”

“Not ridiculous,” Harry murmured into Louis’ hair.

“Yes it is. It’s the lads. It’s us. And I know they’ll all be here for you no matter what. I’m sure of it. Okay?”

“Yeah, okay. Okay. Give them a call. Let’s get this over with.”

Louis reached up, pulling Harry’s head down toward him for a kiss. “It’s going to be fine,” he repeated.

-o-


Niall was the first to arrive.

“Get you a beer, mate?” Louis asked as he let him into the flat.

“Sure. Sounds good. Where’s Harry?”

“In the bedroom,” Louis said as he went into the kitchen and pulled two beers out of the refrigerator. He used an opener on both and handed one to Niall.

“Thanks. Still sleeping then? Is he that sick?”

Louis hesitated. “Not exactly. He’ll be out once the others get here.”

Niall gave him a quizzical look but didn’t press further, taking another sip of his beer.

Zayn arrived a few minutes later, saying, “Liam’s on his way. Just got off the phone with him. He’ll be here in a few.”

Louis nodded and handed Zayn a beer.

“Thanks. So what this all about?”

“Something’s happened that we need to discuss with the group.”

“What? Between the two of you? You engaged?”

Louis’ stomach gave a little flip at the suggestion. It’s not like he had never thought about it, but they were still so young, especially Harry. Everyone already joked they were like an old married couple. They’d get there eventually; he was sure of it, but he couldn’t be thinking of that right now. He gave a small laugh. “No, nothing like that. I don’t want to get into it until Liam’s here if that’s okay, mate? We’d prefer to just explain things once to everyone at the same time.”

Zayn nodded. “Mind if I grab a smoke while we wait?” he asked, tilting his head toward the balcony door.

“Go on. I’ll just check on Harry.”

Niall was busy with his phone. Probably tweeting, Louis thought. He was sure their fans were wondering where Harry and Louis were. It was unusual for them to be absent from sight for this many days in a row. Wouldn’t hurt for Niall to mention he had seen them.

Louis knocked softly on the bedroom door before cracking it open. Harry was standing at the window, silhouetted against the bright sunlight streaming into the room. Harry had pulled up the blinds and held the sheer curtains slightly back, so he could look out, but still keep himself from view. The vision took Louis’ breath away—the graceful arch of his wings, the strong line of his body, his soft curly hair framing his gorgeous face. The sunlight landing on his feathers made them sparkle with an iridescent sheen, as if tiny rainbows were glinting off their surface. He really did look like an angel. It wasn’t the first time Louis thought Harry was almost too beautiful to be real, and with this amazing new development, he knew it wouldn’t be the last. Honestly, he had a hard time not staring at Harry on a normal day; it’d be almost impossible now. He’d keep his thoughts to himself, though. If he brought up angels again, he knew he’d never hear the end of it.

Harry looked over when Louis came into the room, shutting the door behind him.

“Are they here?”

“Niall and Zayn are. Liam’s on his way.”

Harry nodded and looked back out the window, lost in thought.

Louis watched him for a moment then sighed. He walked over and slid next to him, slipping his arm around Harry’s waist and tucking himself against his side. “What’s going through that head of yours, Haz?”

Harry didn’t answer at first. When he did, Louis could tell he was crying. He knew if he looked up, Harry’s big green eyes would be brimming with tears. “I’m not ready for it to be over,” he said.

“For what to be over?”

“Any of it. All of it. The band. We were just getting started.”

“Whoa. Wait,” Louis said, pulling away so he could look at Harry’s face. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”

“And what about us? You’ll be travelling; we’ll never see each other—”

“Okay, that’s enough,” Louis cut in. “Stop. Nothing’s going to come between us. You can count on that. I’m not going anywhere.”

“But you will. Once tour starts. There’s no way—”

“I said stop.” Louis’ voice was sharp. Harry’s mouth snapped closed. “Sounds like you’ve got everything figured out already. I thought you said we’d decide on things together. The five of us.”

“I did, but let’s be realistic—”

“I said shut up,” Louis cut in again. “You’re really starting to piss me off. He was, too. It was as if Harry was giving voice to all Louis’ secret fears, letting his mind take the paths Louis hadn’t allowed his own to go. Well, he wasn’t willing to resign himself to the fate Harry was laying out. They were all smart lads. They should be able to figure something out.

Louis could hear voices in the other room. Liam must have finally arrived. “Good. Now everyone’s here. This is what we’re going to do. We’re going to go out there, fill the others in, and put our heads together to work this thing out. I don’t want to hear another word about these stupid ideas you’ve been having, do you understand?”

Harry stared at Louis, eyes growing wider as he spoke. Then he reached up his hand to wipe away his tears, lips quirking into a smile. “Yeah, okay,” he said.

“Good.” Harry’s smile loosened something in Louis’ chest, but he was still wound up from their conversation. He took a deep breath, trying to steady himself before facing the others. “Do you want to wait here and let me talk to them first?”

Harry reached for Louis’ hand, shaking his head. “No. Let’s go out together.”

Louis squeezed Harry’s hand and nodded. “You ready?”

“Yeah, I think so.”

“All right then. Let’s go.”

The others were standing together in the living room talking when Louis and Harry came into the room. They all looked up at once and immediately fell silent. Harry’s wings gave a little flutter, opening up slightly, then folding down against his back.

“Shit, mate. Those look real,” Zayn said.

“They are real,” Louis responded.

“Right,” Zayn said with a laugh. His laughter cut off and his expression shifted as he watched Louis move protectively closer to Harry, both of them nervous and unsmiling.

“That’s impossible,” Zayn said as Liam sat backward on the sofa, eyes never leaving Harry, as if he didn’t have the ability to both stand and process what he was seeing at the same time.

“Apparently not,” Louis said.

“Those are wings,” Liam said. “Harry, you’ve got wings.”

“Yeah, I do.”

Niall gave a sniff, head jerking back with a little expression that seemed to say, “Whoa there,” but he appeared to be taking it in stride, as if this was just another amazing adventure in their already charmed lives.

“Harry’s got wings,” Liam said again.

“It appears so,” said Zayn, his face registering the ‘what the fuck’ look Louis had been expecting from all of them, if he was honest.

“I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of someone having wings before,” Liam said. “Are you sure you’re not having us on?”

“’Fraid not, mate,” Louis answered.

“How’d this happen? It can’t be normal, can it?”

Louis’ eyes immediately sought out Harry’s face to see his reaction to Liam’s question. Before he could grow too concerned, he was distracted by Niall’s laugh.

“Nothing about our lives are normal. Why should this be any different?” Niall turned to Harry. “Have you tried them out yet? Do they work properly? Can you fly? That would be sick.”

He and Zayn crowded closer, trying to get a better look now that the initial shock was wearing off; Liam continued to sit on the sofa, still stunned. Niall reached out his hand toward Harry and Harry backed instinctively away, wings giving another little flutter. Niall held up his palms in a ‘hands off’ gesture.

“I haven’t tried yet,” Harry answered. “They’ve been really sore. I’ve mostly been healing. Things got… a little rough when they grew in.” He took a deep breath and stepped a little closer to Niall and Zayn. They circled around him, giving the wings a careful examination, making sure to keep their hands to themselves. Louis could feel the tension starting to leave Harry’s body as the others seemed to be adjusting to his revelation.

“So they just… grew in?” Zayn asked, still trying to wrap his head around things.

“Yeah. My back was sore, worse than usual, and then I woke up with them…” He shrugged. “…growing out of my shoulders.”

“Sick,” Niall said again.

“Have you seen a doctor?” Liam asked.

Louis answered for Harry. “I’ve been taking care of him. He didn’t want to tell anyone yet. Not until you three knew first. Need to try and figure out together what to do next.”

“You said healing, though. Are you all right, Harry? Is there anything we can do to help?”

Harry shook his head. “Louis did a great job taking care of me.” He turned to look down at Louis, smiling the smile that always made Louis’ stomach do a little swoop. Louis smiled back, momentarily lost in Harry’s eyes.

Liam cleared his throat, bringing them back to the present. “Right. So. Wings.” He slapped his hands down on the top of his thighs. “I suppose we better discuss how we’re going to handle this in the press, especially with the tour coming up. And we should probably call Paul. And Simon.”

“I’m not so sure that’s such a good idea,” Zayn said, a crease forming between his eyebrows.

“I really don’t see any way around telling them.”

“No, that’s not what I meant. I meant telling the press.”

“Better coming from us first, I think.”

Zayn was shaking his head furiously. “I don’t think you understand. Don’t you think it might be a little dangerous for this to get out? There’s going to be all sorts of people who are going to want in on this. Study him. Make sure, I don’t know, this wasn’t the work of aliens or something.”

Niall laughed again. “Aliens! That’d be something. You don’t think that’s what happened, do you, Harry?”

Louis could feel Harry growing tense again. He wondered if Harry had thought about the possibilities Zayn was outlining. Probably, he acknowledged ruefully. Harry’d most likely been worrying himself sick and Louis hadn’t even noticed, refusing to examine too closely some of the more disturbing thoughts that had crossed his mind, pushing them aside as thing he didn’t want to think about.

“Don’t really know what happened,” Harry said.

“You can’t really think they’d take him away and lock him up to study him, can you? That’s… ” Liam asked. He couldn’t even finish the thought, he was so appalled.

Zayn shrugged. “I just think we need to be really careful. I don’t think anyone’s ever seen anything like this. It’s going to be big news. A lot bigger than One Direction. A lot bigger.”

“He’s right,” Harry said. “I don’t see any way I can go on tour. I need to drop out of the band.”

“Absolutely not,” Louis said at the same time Niall and Liam exclaimed, “What?” and “No.” Zayn kept silent.

Louis grew angry. “I thought you of all people would be on my side,” he said accusingly, pointing at Zayn.

“That’s not fair. I am on your side. I just think we need to be careful, is all. You want your boyfriend sent to a lab to be dissected?”

Louis could feel Harry sway at Zayn’s words. He turned in alarm, noting the slightly green tinge to Harry’s skin. He grabbed him, steadying him and helped Harry over to the sofa where he collapsed next to Liam. “You see what you’ve done?” Louis snapped. “You’re freaking Harry out. Are you all right, love?” he asked in a softer voice, kneeling down next to Harry, placing a hand on his knee. “You know none of us would ever let anything like that happen to you.”

“Would you be able to stop them, though?” Harry whispered, obviously still shaken.

Louis crawled right into Harry’s lap, knees on either side of his thighs and placed his hands on Harry’s cheeks, leaning in to kiss him deeply, licking into his mouth and sliding his tongue against Harry’s, tasting and stroking until he felt Harry’s hands reach for his shoulders, fingers digging into his skin, body melting against his own. Pulling back, he smiled at the flush on Harry’s cheeks, the darkness of his pupils almost eclipsing the green. Much better. “They’d have to get through me first,” Louis said, with one last kiss.

“And me,” Liam said behind him, voice firm.

“Us too,” Niall spoke for Zayn. “We’re not gonna let anything happen to you, Harry. We’ve got your back.”

Louis continued to stare into Harry’s eyes, having a silent conversation with him, the way only they could do. He finally saw what he was looking for and Harry gave a slight nod of his head. Louis gave him one last quick peck, then shifted over, sliding off his lap to sit next to him on the sofa, snug against his side.

“I’m sorry,” Zayn mumbled. “I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“Yeah, I know. It’s okay.” Harry took a deep breath. “He’s right, you know,” he continued, looking around, first at Louis, then Liam and Niall. “It’ll have to be kept a secret. I just don’t see any way for me go on tour and perform.”

“Then we’ll cancel the tour,” Niall said. “We always said we’re in this together. If you’re not in the band, there is no One Direction. I think we all feel that way.”

The others were nodding in agreement.

“But the tickets are already sold. What about all the fans? People’s jobs? There’s a lot of people counting on us. We’d let everyone down. I don’t want that.”

“And I don’t want this if it isn’t with you,” Louis said.

Harry turned to him and smiled, hand reaching for Louis’. He twined their fingers together and squeezed. Louis’ breath caught at the look on Harry’s face. He became lost in his eyes again and had to stop himself from crawling right back into Harry’s lap.

Liam cleared his throat, breaking the spell. “Right. So none of us wants Harry to leave the band and we don’t want to cancel the tour. We’ll just have to come up with something else then.”

“Like what?” Zayn asked.

“Well, I don’t know now, do I? I’m just thinking out loud. I don’t suppose there’s any way you can hide them?”

In response, the wings currently folded behind Harry shifted, moving, spreading until they were extended out to their full impressive span. All eyes were on him.

Deflated, Liam whooshed out a big breath of air. “No, I suppose not.”

“Be a shame to hide them anyway,” Niall chimed in. “They’re something else.”

“That they are,” Zayn agreed, eyes riveted. He walked closer, hand reaching out to stroke Harry’s feathers.

Louis reacted without thinking, protective instincts kicking into overdrive. Jumping up, he batted Zayn’s hand away, smoothing his own hand across the top of Harry’s wing. The wing gave a shudder at Louis’ touch.

“Be careful there, mate,” Louis warned. “He’s still healing. See? He’s still sore.”

Niall gave a small barking laugh. “Don’t think that’s quite it, Lou.”

“What?”

“Don’t think that was because he’s sore. His wings like you.”

“They like me?”

“Yeah, touch them again.”

Louis spread his fingers, and slid them gently down the feathers on the inside of Harry’s extended wing. Once again, the wings gave a small shudder, almost like a shiver. A small delighted smile grew on Louis’ lips. His eyes flickered to Harry whose cheeks were lightly pinked, as if he were embarrassed by the wing’s reaction.

“See what I mean?” Niall asked.

“Yeah, I see.” The smile was still in his voice. He reached his fingers out again, but before he could make contact, Harry retracted his wings, folding them up until they settled across his back again. Louis gave him a heated look that said they’d be talking about that later, but allowed his attention to be turned back to the discussion at hand.

“Wait,” Liam said. “I’ve got an idea.”

“Yeah?” Harry asked, voice hopeful.

“What if we don’t do anything at all? Go on with the tour just as planned.”

“How’s that going to solve anything? That’s puts us right back where we started,” Niall said.

“No, this is brilliant,” Liam exclaimed. He started pacing.

“You’re going to have to explain yourself a little more, there, Li,” Louis said.

Liam stopped pacing and spoke. “We go on tour, the five of us. Harry too. We hide him in plain sight. Who’s going to think they’re real? I mean, it’s impossible, isn’t it? Everyone will assume it’s a costume. Maybe Lou can fix up some sort of harness for his chest to make it look more like he’s wearing them.”

Louis watched the others react to Liam’s suggestion. Their faces reflected Liam’s excitement. His enthusiasm was contagious and Louis felt himself getting caught up himself. It really was a brilliant idea, if they could pull it off.

Zayn spoke up. “We could all get some, maybe. If we switched out a few of the songs on the album—add that angel one back in, and the dreams one, and that one about flying high. Drop some of the party stuff, the theme could fit. We’d have to re-shoot some of the promo, maybe go back to the studio but it could work.”

“Is it too late to make those kinds of changes?” Louis asked.

“Dunno. Probably. But what choice do we have? Better to eat some cost up front and delay the release than have to scrap the tour.”

“Niall? What do you think?” Louis asked.

“It’s a good idea. It definitely could work. I say we call Simon and get him in on this and get his opinion. Hey,” he added with a grin at Zayn. “You should talk to Perrie about letting us cover Wings during the show.”

“Isn’t that about a butterfly?”

“It’s metaphorical.”

“Well, aren’t you the intellectual.”

“All right, lads,” Liam cut in. “We can sort out the details later. Are we in agreement?” They nodded. He turned to Harry. “What about you, Harry? What we decide doesn’t even matter if you’re not up for it. What do you say? I think we can make it work.”

Harry turned to Louis. “Lou?” His eyes were big and trusting and Louis knew that Harry would agree to whatever he said. The decision couldn’t be his, though; it had to be Harry’s. But he could be honest, at the very least.

“I think you know what I want. It’s what I’ve always wanted. To do this with you. All of us together. I’m not ready for it to end either. But it’s not my decision to make; it’s got to be yours. We’ll support you, whatever you decide.”

Harry nodded, understanding. “Then my decision is yes. I’ll go with the plan. Let’s call Simon and get things rolling.”

“Brilliant,” Liam said. He moved to sit next to Harry on the sofa, he and Louis sandwiching him between them. “We’ve got your back. We’re all in this together. Right boys?” he asked, turning to Zayn and Niall.

“Right,” Niall said, diving toward the boys on the couch and landing half on Harry’s and half on Liam’s lap. “C’mon, Zayn, group cuddle!”

Zayn chuffed a little laugh, but piled on, causing Louis to puff out a dramatic, “Ooof.” They were all laughing, limbs everywhere.

Harry’s wings spread, opening behind him, then they folded over the other boys who were wriggling on the sofa, wrapping around them like a cloak of feathers.

Chapter 3
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