Rain Station [Chapter 1]
Genre: AU, SingleFather!Harry, DayCare!Louis, slight angst, Romance
Summary: Harry Styles returns to Holmes Chapel. Nothing changed except that he left empty handed and returned with a little girl.
Coming out of the Holmes Chapel’s train station, Harry feels 18 all over again. It’s the same lady at the reception, same old man at the newspaper stand and the same faces going to work.
The train station’s sign is still red and missing the T. No one in town minded, many tears were shed in that place so Rain station sounded just right.
The Christmas tree still stands in September welcoming Harry home like it sent him away one August night.
Nothing changed neither did Harry, his hair is still curly, his eyes are still green, it’s the same suitcase that he packed when he went to London for school. Everything is the same except the 5 year old he carries in his arms.
The house wasn’t okay at all. There was not other house near the daycare to buy or rent, so Harry had no choice. He wasn’t sure how long can he be in this house before he suffocates to death. There are so many dreams and hopes haunting these walls. When he looks at the fireplace, he sees a photo that isn’t there but it’s sort of is because 6 years ago they agreed that it would be nice hanged above it. The walls of the living room aren’t painted minty like they said it should after 7 hours of bickering about it. Harry sleeps in Darcy’s room that night, because if the living room is sending him on a rollercoaster ride, he doesn’t dare take a step into the master bedroom.
Harry prays that he wont see anyone family or friends the next day. He isn’t ready yet, especially to see him. He would lock himself up in this house if he could. He did yesterday, but he ought to feed Darcy.
He starts the day early in hope of not running into anyone he knows and it works till he is in the cereal ally. Darcy is somewhere deciding on flavored yogurt. Letting her stray 5 feet away from him is something that he’d never allow back in London. Holmes Chapel is safe and maybe he made the right decision coming back after all.
There are so many memories wherever his eyes lands. Even picking cereals is difficult. He stands there almost reaching for the wrong one, even if it feels so right. Harry never liked it, but he did so Harry was so used to buying the small packs with his allowance as a treat for him.
“Is this the one you want beautiful?”
Harry’s stomach flips.
He knew this place would bring back memories but not this clear. He shouldn’t sound like he is whispering in his ears. It’s too sudden. He isn’t ready. He needs to settle in before facing the past. But then he realizes that the voice is clear because he is not imagining it.
“Here you go. Are you here alone? This early in the morning?” The voice asks concerned and Harry’s breath is caught in his throat. Darcy doesn’t say anything. He taught her well about not speaking to strangers.
The voice softens and Harry’s heart is a whole new level of mess. “You know, she reminds me of someone.” There is some much warmth in that statement. “ Those eyes. . they just. . she is really beautiful isn’t she?”
Harry leans back resting his weight on shelves’ of tea boxes. He didn’t see him yet and he is already a wreck. “Not as beautiful as you are” another man speaks and Harry stiffens.
“Not in front of the kid!” there is the familiar giggle that breaks Harry’s heart.
Later that day, Harry calls his mother to apologize for not coming over. He sort of hints that she should come over herself to check the house, help unpacking and see her granddaughter. His mother makes a comment about canceling with Jay and Harry is glad. He canceled, because he isn’t ready to see Jay yet. There is plenty to do. There is a lot of unpacking and a lot of emotions that he has to sort out.
The next day, Harry drops Darcy at the daycare. Old Ms. Grace is still there, taking care of the children like she did to 3 years old Harry. He tells her that he wants to speak to Darcy’s teacher later because he thinks it’s safer to do so when the kids and their parents are not around.
He looks at his reflection as he leaves. 23 years old, the youth resident in his features contrasts with the other parents. He wonders if the years would have made his a better father, but wondering doesn’t change a thing. He just has to and will be a better father for her.
No amount of Yorkshire tea and strolls in the park brings Harry inspiration to write. He avoids all the places that hold dear memories to him. The editor-in-chief told him that getting away from London will be good for him but Harry reckons the difference. After 3 hours of running around, milking his brain cells for something to write he gives up and makes a call.
The café didn’t change a bit. The staff did. The menu didn’t. There are new cushions here and there but the old ones are still on display. Harry avoids the couch hidden in the corner and sits with his back facing everything and everyone.
“Oh wow! When did you get this tall?” Zayn asks him when the two exchange a hug.
“Sorry to tell you mate. It’s you who stopped growing way too early” Harry grins at him. Taken in the familiar smell of smoke that always clanged to Zayn’s clothes. Now that’s something he wished he would came back to see changed.
Zayn is the only one who Harry kept in touch with. So there isn’t much to catch up on. He reckons that Zayn is his best mate because he is the type of person that keeps you standing till you think it’s time to walk. And that is what Harry thinks that’s what he needs.
“You reckon your mother is going to throw you a home-coming party?” Zayn asks worried.
“I don’t think she will. I don’t think she can face people, really” Harry shrugs.
“Yeah but you know it’s a small town. And you leaving was a big deal. Everyone had plenty of hopes for you. Everyone was sure you’d be back to take over Elton’s clinic and you and . .” Zayn catches himself in time. He knows some wounds are better left untouched.
Zayn doesn’t let Harry fall in thoughts; he quickly asks, “Does she know about me? Darcy I mean. I think it’s time she meets her favorite uncle?” He showcased a hopeful silly smile.
Harry smiles back at him. “Yeah. Sure I’m picking her up in a while. Wanna come?”
Having Zayn around him, sort of calms Harry’s nerves. At least for the time being when he comes across someone he knows. He can cut the conversation short pretending he has business to settle with Zayn.
They arrive at the daycare and wait a while till most of parents are out of the door so Harry can speak to the teacher alone. There aren’t plenty of children; it’s a small town so the wait isn’t long.
The two enter Darcy’s classroom. There is a couple of kids playing together and there is Darcy, where Harry expected her to be. In the corner of the room drawing. He sees the back of the teacher who is playing with his daughter. His back is familiar, but Harry thinks everything in the world reminds him of him. That’s till the man in the corner turns.
There is a long moment of silence that even the kids sense. The teacher sits still on the ground while the curly man adjusts his posture. This is going to be difficult.
Harry sees a moment of realization that flicks in Louis’s eyes as he looks from Darcy to Harry and back at the little girl, then there is emotions on his face that he cannot read.
Harry doesn’t even know how to process all of that. Louis looks over Harry’s shoulder and a stare lingers on Zayn. A little bit of bitterness he must be feeling, Harry supposes. With him going to their best friend before dropping at Louis’s but for what he figures, Louis does not want anything to do with him to begin with.
“Grace told me Darcy’s father wishes to speak to me about something. How may I help you?” The tone is flat and serious. A tone that Harry never received before. Not from him.
“Hey…Hi. . “ Harry stutters looking everywhere but Louis’s eyes that are trying to pin him in place.
“Something I should know?” He begins again and Harry ponders if this is the same man in the grocery shop or even the same man of 6 years ago.
“Yes, Actually” He speaks to him in the same tone. This isn’t the warm Louis he …He just isn’t so he wont address him in that manner. This is business. He takes his daughter from the shorter man’s arms and gives her to Zayn. “Baby, this is uncle Zayn, who sends you toys and cards. Remember? Will you show him what you drew today?”
He can tell Darcy is upset about that. His daughter has difficultly approaching others and that’s a part of the reason that they moved. For her to be able to make friends and open up. This just wasn’t healthy.
He looks back at Louis who is just standing there emotionless. “You see. Darcy’s mother left us a couple of years ago”. He can see the shock goes into sympathy on Louis’s face, though he can tell he is trying to play it cool. “Darcy doesn’t really remember her, but she is quite sensitive about the subject. So I’d like to ask you to sort of avoid the topic. I know it’s pretty difficult but maybe keep an eye on her if the kids tease her about it”.
“Alright. You got it” Louis tells him with a straight face. “Anything else?”
Harry tries not to be affected by this, but it does hit him bad. He shakes his head and ushers his daughter to come and the three of them leave.
Days pass by. Anne comes to visit often so does Zayn. Darcy doesn’t warm up to them the slightest. Among everyone in the world she chooses to warm up to her teacher, which is rather strange since in the previous day care she hated her teacher the most for trying to engage her in class activities.
It was rather odd when out of nowhere she tells her dad how Mr. Tommo, He smiles at that, has a cat named Puuurfect in which you have to purr to say it’s name. Harry knows he named him. A couple of days later she comes home with a framed picture of the cat and sticks by its side the whole day.
Harry thought it would be easy. His mother and Zayn do not mention Louis at all. And Grace calls Darcy out whenever Harry is picking her up so he doesn’t really see him. But it’s not easy because Darcy can’t stop talking about the drawing Mr Tommo did or how good he can sing, which Harry already knows, they starred in the school musical together, Louis was Juliet and a beautiful one if Harry might add.
It’s not easy. Harry thinks they should sit down and talk about it, because they are having dinner at Anne’s in the weekend, which means Jay will be here and most likely Louis. This is how it goes. Harry just doesn’t have dinner with Anne alone. It’s not a family dinner without Jay and Louis.
It’s a small town and he is his daughter’s teacher and the son of his mother’s best friend and he is much more than that. Harry doesn’t know if he can handle being friends with him, but he will try. He will put effort in it, because they really must.
Harry takes Darcy out for a movie the next day, it’s over by 7:00 pm and it’s time to go home, have dinner and give her a bath. He finds it difficult to walk with his daughter wrapping herself around his left leg. He can’t wait till she grows up a little so holding her hand wouldn’t be as hard. He is a bit of a giant so his shoulder hurts from leaning in a little to be able to hold her hands. So Darcy usually holds on to his pants, which makes it difficult to walk. But he loves every second of it. She is the only good thing that came out of it. She is the purpose of his sad existence.
“That’s Mr. Tommo” Darcy untangles herself from her father’s leg and stands fixing her floral pattern dress. Harry sees the familiar man holding a big bucket of popcorn and he has to smile. He almost forgets that what year this is. He almost walks up to him and he almost bicker with him about how they’ll miss their Friday movie and how he isn’t huge about Louis wearing such tight pants for everyone to see.
But then he sees it. He sees him leaning in a man’s embrace. A man that isn’t him. He even recognizes the man, because staring at the man is a lot easier than staring at Louis’s enjoying the warmth of another.
Stanley Lucas, He never liked him. He was good friends with Louis back in junior high and Harry always knew he fancied Louis a lot, but Louis was his. Even when they didn’t publicize it, everyone knew better than approaching Louis with confessions. But it’s many years later and Louis isn’t his anymore so he has no right to even be upset about it. This is entirely his fault. But then he feels his pants being tugged by Darcy and he can’t regret much.
They pass by the couple on their way out; Darcy waves at Louis who smiles big at her. There is some awkward glancing between the three men that is cut short by Darcy wishing Louis a good night, which is the first time his daughter does of that sort.
Harry is very glad that Louis doesn’t bring Stan to dinner because it’s already awkward with just the five of them. Well, the awkwardness is mainly between the two boys. Jay surprisingly didn’t treat him any differently. If anything she was the same second mother that let him cry on her lap when kids teased him about his mother dating the school’s coach. He still thinks she should, she really should treat him horribly like he deserves.
The women try to start a conversation about Darcy fitting in the daycare. Harry is about to change the subject, because he doesn’t want his daughter feeling pressured to make friends but Louis is quicker to do that.
“Darcy is my little artist” Louis says fondly, with the warmth that Harry missed dearly. “I have all your drawing on the wall don’t I?” She nods with a big smile that Harry himself doesn’t get often. “You know I spoke to Mrs. Grace about going to the lake near by so you can draw me more pictures” He smiles down at her.
“But there is no place left on the wall” and that is the longest sentences that Darcy ever said in front of someone and there is 3 of them sitting there.
“Yeah? Well, I have got an empty wall in my flat that is begging to be filled with drawings.” He pretends to be sad. “ You are not going to make the wall cry right? It will be sad and empty. All the other walls are going to make fun of it.”
Darcy giggles, “ Walls don’t cry silly”. Harry smiles at his daughter. He can’t even comprehend what’s happening in front of his eyes.
“And who told you that?” He raises an eyebrow at her.
“Daddy did” Darcy pointed to her father, who looks up to Louis.
Louis tells her without sparing Harry a look. “well, let me tell you. Not everything daddy tells you is correct. Daddy couldn’t keep himself focused enough to finish university, so don’t listen to him. Listen to Mr. Tommo he knows where Alaadin’s lamp is hidden”.
Everyone laugh except for Harry. Because even though it’s old silly Louis and the statement should just him being his usual sassy self, Harry knows it’s more than that. Harry can read the anger and bitterness between the lines.
Jay asks Harry if he enjoys his job and he tells her he does.
She is a bit hesitant to ask but she does “ Don’t you regret not going to Medical school? You know it’s not too late Harry. You are just 23”
He shakes his head, he never had the conversation with his mother before and he thought he owe them to set the record straight “No. No regrets.” He looks down at Darcy who is picking at her meatballs. “I don’t think it was meant for me anyways. I really love writing. All I need is this little Lady’s company and writing at home makes that happen”
The two women exchange a warm smile. “You know we can take her in if you ever think you want to go back to school” Jay says. “I’m not pressuring you or anything I’m just saying. You can always count on this family to take care of one another”
He smiles warmly at all of them. There is a lot of love he doesn’t think he deserves. His eyes linger on Louis who is lovingly staring at Darcy. He may not have a place in his heart anymore but he is glad Darcy does.
There is plenty of others conversation that Harry isn’t taking part of them. One goes like this:
“Have you spoken to Grace yet about taking time off?” Jay asks.
“Not yet, no. I thought I should wait to see if Stan has a vacation any time soon” Louis shrugs.
“I thought he is waiting for you to speak to Grace. He told me he’ll take a leave whenever you want” Jay tells him.
“I don’t know mum. Grace needs all the help she can get. Next year will be alright too. It’s not that far away anyways”
“Lou” his mother is concerned.
Harry later on asks his mother what was that about and she is hesitant to tell him that Stan has been wanting to take Louis to visit his father’s grave for the past two years but Louis is always finding his way out of it.
Harry’s heart sinks at the idea of that. Louis’s father’s death was one of the hardest things Louis had to face. Harry still remembers lying in bed with the smaller boy for a whole week in their second year of junior high. He remembers all the trips the two took to visit his father’s grave every year. They never missed one till Harry moved to London. Harry can’t blame that Louis hasn’t been there for the past couple of years.
Harry hates himself. So much pain and sadness he caused to this boy. Louis must had some shitty luck to move into Holmes Chapel, to meet Harry, to fall in love with him. He must be the unluckiest person in the world. Angels are like that aren’t they? They give out joy, but they only receive misery.
Later that night, Harry finds Darcy sleeping on the couch with Purrrfect in her arms. He picks her up so they’d go home when he hears Louis saying his goodbyes to their mothers and that he is spending the night at Stan’s.
Harry has no right to be angry at the thought of Louis being in someone’s bed but he is.
It’s really awkward when the two boys are walking in the same direction behind eachother. So Harry turns around and says “We don’t need to talk or anything, but I’d really appreciate it if we walked together. This is just way too creepy walking like this”
Louis seems to agree so they walk side by side. Not a word exchanged. The town is asleep early. It’s a school night. It’s dark and there isn’t anything but the streetlight to guide their way.
They walk a good awkward 15 minutes in which Harry exhausted his brain to find a topic that they can talk about. Mostly things about Darcy, because they seem the most appropriate but he can only think of one thing.
“Why the daycare? It was never a part of your plan” He asks, not really expecting an answer and he doesn’t get any.
About 5 minutes later, Louis takes Darcy from her father’s hands not answering to Harry’s protests.
A good 10 minutes and Louis speaks “My plans were changed against my well”
Harry then, regrets asking his question.
“ I wanted to be near kids”, He says tightening his arms around Darcy.
Harry doesn’t dare ask the follow up question, but Louis answers it anyway.
“I wasn’t going to adopt a kid with Stan, we barely knew each other when I started working there” he shrugs “and once I was there, I didn’t want out”
The Harry 6 years younger, would be angry and hurt and bursting in tears at this, but this Harry is just numb.
The two don’t exchange a word later on. They walk in silence till they spot Stan wondering around. Louis gives Darcy back to her father and lets himself be enveloped in Stan’s arms and being dragged across the street to his house, their house.
Harry thinks that’s not how the story was supposed to end, but this is the end he written himself.
Chapter 2 x