“I don’t know about this,” Louis says nervously. He looks up at Harry.
“It’s gonna be great, I promise,” Harry says in reply.
The two boys are in the bedroom of their shared flat. It’s the day of the city’s big pride parade and it’s the first time Louis has ever planned to attend.
“I think I might just want to stay home,” Louis tells his boyfriend, his voice small.
Harry shakes his head at him.
“I’m not letting you stay home this year. I know you’re nervous but you promised me you’d come. You’ve struggled with self-acceptance for so long. It’ll be good for you and I’ll be right by your side the whole time,” he says to Louis.
Louis sighs. Harry’s right. He knows that. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make him any less nervous. He just came out to his friends and family the month before and everyone was so supportive but there’s still that little voice at the back of his mind that is constantly telling him he’s wrong for being who he is. That he’s wrong for being gay. That he’s wrong for falling in love with Harry. One day he told his boyfriend all of this and that’s when Harry decided that he was dragging Louis to Pride this year.
“You’re really not going to let me back out of this, are you?” Louis asks.
“Nope. Now come here,” Harry replies.
Louis reluctantly walks over to where Harry is sitting on the bed. He sits down and allows Harry to use face paint to put a little pride flag on each of his cheeks. Harry hands him the face paint and he does the same to him. Once he’s done Harry gets up and pulls Louis over in front of the mirror.
“We look great, Lou,” Harry says.
Louis shrugs his shoulders. He’s wearing a shirt with a rainbow and the words “Pride is a protest” along with a pair of black skinny jeans. Harry is wearing a matching shirt with a knee length rainbow skirt. He’s holding two pride flags that they plan to tie around their necks when they get to the parade.
“I feel silly. Maybe I should take the face paint off. I think it’s too much,” Louis says.
“You can if you really want to, but I think you look absolutely perfect,” Harry tells him.
“It’s like you think I can drown my nerves and my self-doubt in rainbows,” Louis says with a small laugh.
“Well maybe you can,” Harry says in reply, laughing.
They both chuckle for a moment and then Harry gives Louis a kiss on the head.
“It’s almost time to go,” Harry says.
“Can we maybe get something to eat first?” Louis asks.
Harry knows he’s just trying to stall but he agrees. He and Louis leave their flat and get in their car. Once they’re settled in the car Harry notices that Louis is nervously playing with the edge of the flag in his lap. He reaches over and gives his hand a reassuring squeeze before pulling out of the car park and driving them to a McDonald’s near the parade. When they arrive Louis unbuckles his seatbelt but he doesn’t move. Harry gets out and goes around to the passenger side. Without saying a word he opens the door and picks Louis up.
“What are you doing?” Louis laughs.
“You can’t just stay in the car. You’re coming with me,” Harry replies with a smile before kissing his boyfriend on the forehead.
Louis scrambles to grab the pride flags before Harry kicks the car door closed, not wanting them to be left behind. Harry carries his boyfriend to the front door of the restaurant before setting him down gently. They walk inside and Louis looks around. He notices that almost everyone is dressed in some sort of rainbow attire. He knows he shouldn’t be surprised considering how close they are to the event, but he still is.
“Wow,” he whispers quietly.
Louis has never felt so safe in a crowd of strangers. He knows just by looking around that no one would judge him if he turned to Harry and kissed him. So that’s exactly what he does. It takes Harry by surprise because Louis has always been so shy and nervous about any public affection. The kiss is short and sweet but it carries an unspoken message. A message that tells Harry that Louis is going to be just fine.
The two boys order their food and go sit at a table by the window. Louis can see the colorful crowd of people. He grins at Harry excitedly.
“You look happy,” Harry says with a smile.
“I can’t wait! This is gonna be great,” Louis exclaims.
“You were so nervous just a few minutes ago. What happened?” Harry asks, chuckling.
“I think it really is possible for me to drown my worries in rainbows,” Louis laughs in response.
Louis and Harry eat quickly before heading out to the parade. As they leave the restaurant Harry can tell that some of Louis’ nerves have returned. Louis reaches out and squeezes Harry’s hand, hoping for reassurance.
“You ok?” Harry asks.
“I’m scared,” Louis whispers.
“Hey, what’s wrong? Where’s the confidence I saw in McDonald’s?” Harry asks him.
“That was a smaller group of people. I don’t know about this big crowd. Maybe we should go home,” Louis answers.
“You’ve come this far, Lou. You can do it,” Harry tells him.
Louis shakes his head and stops walking. Harry stops too and turns to his boyfriend.
“If you really don’t wanna do this then I won’t force you, but I really think it’ll be good for you. I know it’s scary but I also know you can do it. I’ll be right here with you,” Harry tells him.
Louis looks hesitant. He wants to go home and retreat back into his comfort zone but he knows that if he stays it might give him the confidence boost that he needs. Harry puts a reassuring arm around Louis’ shoulders. Louis looks at the crowd of people down the street. He takes a deep breath and closes his eyes for a moment. Harry watches him curiously. Finally Louis opens his eyes.
“Ok,” Louis says.
“Ok? You’ll do it?” Harry asks.
“Yeah,” Louis answers with a small smile before draping the flag around his neck. Harry reaches over and helps him tie it securely.
“I am so proud of you,” Harry says, pulling Louis into a tight hug and planting a kiss on the top of his head
Harry grins before securing his own flag and together they walk towards the sea of people. When they reach the crowd Louis stops and looks lovingly at Harry. They share a kiss before stepping into the crowd and joining the festivities.