I read some new fics for this month’s column as well as some rereads of works I’d forgotten. Sometimes, reading about broken boys and their healing is healing in and of itself. Not that you want anyone to be broken, but it feels empowering (to me anyway) to read about how people can come back from being in dark places.
It’s important to note that this month there are some triggering fics on my list, and while all of them have happy endings, several are quite hard to read. Please use your own discretion and read the trigger warnings. Be safe.
Note that some AO3 fics are available publicly on the server, while some require an Archive of Our Own account/membership to access. If you don’t currently have access, you’ll need to sit on a waitlist – typically for a week or two – to gain access. Get yourself on that list ASAP as some of these require that access to read.
The “Summary” is taken from the author’s own AO3 summary. “Why I Liked It” is my opinion (and only mine). “Content Warning” is a mixture of my own warning and sometimes pulled from the Triggers the author has suggested.
These are NOT in ranked order.
Fading by tothemoonmydear
Summary: Louis knows about beauty; the combination of qualities that pleases the aesthetic senses. He creates that combination every day in the garments he designs while studying fashion at uni. The cut of the design, the color of the fabric, the intricacy of the stitching; it all comes together to create something beautiful. When the science student with the long legs and dimpled smile agrees to model for him, Louis decides he’s found beauty personified. Harry just thinks Louis needs someone to show him how beautiful he is.
Why I liked It: Besides it being really well-written, it has a vulnerability in it that speaks to my core. From the very beginning of Fading, Louis is anorexic and the reader is well aware of it. The way Harry falls in love with him is so lovely and delicate. It’s heartbreaking to watch Harry process his relationship to Louis’ anorexia. They are both so brave in this one.
Content Warning: TW for self hate, eating disorder, self-harm
Summary: “But I don’t belong here,” Louis insists.
“Why do you say that?” James asks.
“These people are all drug addicts and alcoholics,” Louis shrugs.
Something sparks in James’ eyes.
“And you’re not?”
Louis has never felt like he was good enough: for his stepdad, for his life-long best friend, for the life he’s supposed to want. After an accident that nearly costs him his life, Louis’ parents send him to rehab where he’s forced to face his demons. On the long and difficult road to recovery, Louis must confront the truths he’s been avoiding about his future, his relationships, and his sense of self-worth. Because before he can love anyone else, he’s got to learn how to love himself first.
Why I liked It: The OT5 family is strong in this one. It’s a really good representation of drug addiction and recovery. I absolutely love Harry here–in love with his best friend, willing to do anything to save him. And Louis is just as good, albeit broken. Liam, Zayn, and Niall all feature strongly in a found family. I liked the portrayal of James as a therapist–good depiction of therapy as a method on the road to recovery.
Content Warning: TW: alcohol/drug abuse.
To Live on the Moon by toastghost
Summary: In which Louis is a struggling writer who gets sad sometimes and Harry works in an ice cream shop. Zayn is the best friend in the world and Liam is shy and Niall thinks they’re all definitely a clique.
Why I liked It: This is a unique narrative. The writing is almost poetic in that it feels a bit distant, but the voice is lovely. It feels like a song. The depiction of depression and how it not only impacts the individual, but also the people around him, is really good.
Content Warning: TW: depression
Promises in the Sky by throwthemflowers
Summary: AU in which Harry Styles, a naïve, repressed, socially awkward Midwestern highschooler tries to navigate his fundamentalist evangelical parents and radically progressive older sister. He’s doing an okay job of this until the Tomlinson family starts attending Lakeside Baptist Church and a boy named Louis changes everything. Harry is forced to come to grips with his true self when Louis becomes more than just his best friend; but their relationship opens a can of worms and sends them on the most painful, heartbreaking journey of their young lives. They risk everything and nearly lose, and Harry learns that perhaps only one Bible verse is true: that perfect love casteth out fear.
Why I liked It: This one is heartbreaking and lovely. It has great pacing, and I loved the characterizations of both boys, as they navigate coming to terms with their sexualties as well as their mental health. It made me cry, so fair warning.
Content Warning: TW: internalized homophobia, as well as homophobic family. Attempted suicide.
On the Horizon by FitzandLarry
Summary: “Let’s enjoy each others’ company. You’re fit; you’re young; you’re a bloody doctor. You’ve got everything going for you.” There’s a moment of hesitation before Louis plants a gentle kiss atop Harry’s head. “I’ll be whatever you want me to be as long as we’re having fun, yeah?”
Drunk, loose, and excited on the first night of his two-week-long cruise, Doctor Harry Styles finds himself with a little extra company on what has turned out to be a lonely experience. Louis, the pilot who helped fly him across the Atlantic, is the object of his fling.
Thus begins an adventure filled with laughter, sun, and trauma rearing its ugly head. Deadline on their companionship, the pair commit to enjoying their time – and Harry, the screw-up he is, can’t help but lose himself in the fantasy.
Why I liked It: This is part one of a planned series, so be prepared that the ending might leave you wanting a bit more. The author has assured readers a second piece is coming. This might be the best, most authentic depiction of anxiety and negative brain self-talk I’ve ever read. While Harry is falling in love with Louis on a two week cruise, his anxiety makes it hard for him to live in the moment. Louis helps him let go and enjoy himself, while battling his own inner voices.
Content Warning: TW: Anxiety. Negative self-talk.
Belong to the Rain by unscattered_horizons
Summary: “We really are that couple, aren’t we?” Harry asks when taking a breath, eyes shut while he focuses on the way Louis tastes, the smell of his cologne warm on his neck, the way his hair falls against Harry’s face and tickles at his skin.
Louis kisses him again before answering. “Probably, but you’ll have to be more specific.” He moves his hands onto Harry now, holding him firm.
“The kind that just got a lock and key tattoo.” Harry groans when Louis bites his neck and tugs on his hair to pull his head to the side.
“We have about a dozen matching tattoos, H. That ship sailed a decade ago.” Louis makes his point by squeezing Harry’s tricep where the literal ship that matches Louis’ compass is delicately inked into his husband’s skin.
“Thank fuck…” Harry trails off, Louis’ hands moving around to hold Harry’s ass and shift their bodies even closer together, one leg between Harry’s while he pulls him lower down the wall. “Louis…” Harry doesn’t get an answer so he pushes his hips into Louis to get his attention. “Lou.”
“What babe? You alright?” Louis pulls back so he can look at Harry fully. He gets one of Harry’s searching stares.
“I want a baby.”
Why I liked it: The exploration of genderqueer Harry in this one is unparalleled. The author handles his declining mental health really well as well as the way Louis reacts to both his coming out and his self-harm. I love the way they love each other in this one–no matter what Harry is going through internally, Louis works to love him through it. This is part two of A Picture’s Worth, though it works as a stand-alone fic.
Content Warning: TW: attempted suicide, depression.
You’ve got Demons, I’ve got Scars by mission2feelike
Summary: Harry’s life has been ruined twice. Once, the first time his alpha raised his fist four years ago, and then again today when his job discovered that he is an omega in a world where omegas, especially bonded omegas, have no rights. Now, he’s stuck trying to figure out how he’s going to take care of his four-year-old daughter, Mia. Just when it’s looking completely hopeless, a possible job arises. Someone is looking for an omega to help an alpha in need. The only problem is that the alpha has been diagnosed with Alpha Rage, a crippling disease that causes an alpha to become feral, making them succumb to their most instinctual, primal versions of themselves.
A story of an omega that’s been broken, an alpha that can’t trust himself, and their unlikely relationship.
Lovingly known as ‘The Feral Louis Fic’.
Why I liked It: This one is a WIP as of this writing, but I wanted to mention it because it really grabbed hold of me. It’s an ABO. Throughout the story, the author shows Harry as a strong, but broken (abused) Omega who struggles with his own mental health, but opts to ignore self-care in favor of his daughter’s safety. The depiction of found family/pack is really good, and I just love Harry as the broken omega who’d do anything for his child, including placing himself in harm’s way.
Content Warning: depression, mentions of sexual assault.
You Can Hear it In the Silence by ImogenLee
Summary: When Harry Styles received acceptance into a post-grad degree, he knew he could no longer afford his flat leaving him with three options:
1) Moving back into student halls.
2) Becoming homeless.
3) Moving in with his best (and only) friend, Niall, and three of Niall’s other friends.
He ended up choosing the third option. But it was a close race.
Shame one of his new housemates reminded him why he only has one friend.
If Louis Tomlinson had to choose one thing couldn’t stand, it would be pretentious tossers, having grown up around enough of them. If he had to choose something he couldn’t live without, it would be his friends. So he was proper thrilled to move in with his best mates and a couple of other lads.
That was until he discovered one of them was the archetype for a pretentious tosser.
In the interest of seeing out the twelve-month lease without killing each other, they both try (debatable) to get along despite believing they were opposite in almost every conceivable way, each having the communication skills of a cucumber, and secrets that had no business being kept secret.
Why I liked it: This one is a new fic in the Larrie lexicon and has been getting a lot of buzz recently. It has excellent representation of neurodiversity and ADHD, as well as a main character coming to accept his sexuality, and a therapy-positive narrative.
Content Warning: TW: anxiety, self-hatred/internalized homophobia
Xoxo – Rosann.
Happy reading and thanks for checking out my recommendations. I’d love to hear from you and what you think of my suggestions! Let me know if you have any thoughts for future themes!