Tomorrow, When The War Began
Chapter 1 Part B
Word Count: 3,310
Wirrawee, New South Wales. Harry had spent his whole life imagining himself away from here, going on wild adventures on the high seas, crusades for a noble cause, all the things he’s now forgotten. Wirrawee is exactly where he wishes he could be now; safe with his family and his friends. Safe is one word little Wirrawee and the rest of Australia cannot be associated with. Harry and his four best friends are caught in the middle of something school never prepared them for, their parents never warned them about and their government wasn’t ready for. His country is at war.
A/N: Here it is, the second part to Chapter 1. I quite like this chapter, it flowed nicely. Pages didn’t much like Zayn’s name, and keeps saying he’s a spelling error BUT IT ISN’T, so it can shut up. Let me know what you’re feeling at the end of this chapter! See if I can evoke some emotions!
Unfortunately, the boys were crammed into three tents - all of which Harry assumed were made for single people. Harry and Zayn were in one, Niall and Louis in another and Liam pulled the long straw, getting one by himself - he did however have the job of protecting the food from wild animals in the night.
After the site was set up and Zayn had lit the fire, claiming to have done so with his bare hands - no matter what Louis said about a lighter in his hand behind his back - the boys all sat down around the golden, dancing flames and sighed in relief as the first cracking lids echoed of Satan’s Steps. Niall clinked five shot glasses together as he got them out’ve his pack, smiling proudly as he handed one to Liam.
Having taken until about one in the morning to get to the bottom of Hell, the boys were well into the drinking by three o’clock in the morning. Niall was spending most of his buzz wrestling in the dirt with Louis, who had challenged him over some AFL issue Harry didn’t much take notice of. He wasn’t too into sports, though he wasn’t unfit - they just didn’t interest him. Liam was, as expected, an incredible light weight - wasted within twenty or thirty minutes. Liam, laid himself on the ground by the fire, laughing and snorting at the two wrestling boys who only took breaks to down another shot when one of the other boys would call it.
Harry and Zayn were sat on a log they’d dragged over from the bushes nearby, clinking shot glasses, downing them and doing a dance they’d made to get themselves through the unforgivable burn of vodka. Linking arms at the elbows, the two danced in a circle
“Oof! That tastes like, like, like, sh-sh-sh-shit!” the two sang loudly.
“Another!” Niall called, finally having submitted to Louis, who had him pinned to the ground on his back, hand on his chest underneath Louis’ backside.
“Nah, you’re comfy Ni, I’m not moving.” Louis made himself more comfortable, crossing his legs before him.
Louis didn’t have enough time to prepare himself for the figure jumping across the fire to tackle him off Niall. Zayn’s arms gripped around Louis’ chest and threw him off, landing with a thud, the two then began their own wrestle which was quickly joined by Niall, eager to help his new ally and exact revenge on the previously victorious Louis.
“No fair!” Louis protested,
“All’s fair in love and war.” Liam poetically added.
“Liam’s on our side, that means God is, therefore, we must defeat you for the greater good, Louis!” Niall yelled into the night, his voice breaking slightly when he would take a foot to the gut or have the wind sucked out’ve him after getting thrown to the floor.
Harry joined in soon after, on Louis’ side.
“Oh, pick the one with the Devil’s curls to be against the righteous!” Zayn piped up, shielding Niall from a side-tackle that would’ve removed him completely from the wrestle and left Louis open to get off the ground. The two, now separate, wrestling matches continued until Liam called a truce, commanding that he was feeling sober and needed to continue down the dark path that would lead him to wish he was dead in the morning.
“So, what should we toast to?” Harry spoke as he lifted his shot glass, full of that ever-calm-looking clear liquid he know would betray him as it had time and time again.
“It’s commemoration day soon, so, how about to Australia?” Louis suggested,
“Pick a university student to come up with some sentimental crap like that.” Zayn shot back, “No, we should toast us. The memories we’re making and will make down here. The friendships we’ll m-” Zayn was interrupted by and looked quite offended at the four snoring boys around him.
“To Hell.” Harry suggested proudly, pushing his glass further toward the centre of the circle - it’s glass glowing brightly from the fire below it.
“To Hell.” Zayn, Louis and Niall chimed - Liam cimply clanked his glass with the other boys’, following suit when they swallowed down the contents. The reaction faces from each of the boys was as unique as their fingerprints. Niall scrunched his face toward his mouth, his eyes clamped shut and his whole body shaking for a moment, Liam too clamped his eyes shut, his hand over his mouth, swallowing strongly and coughing straight after; Zayn was least affected, blinking a few times and wiping his mouth. Louis and Harry were holding each others shoulders with their spare hands and helping each other through it as they tried to fulfill their mutual dare of not making a face. Harry broke a few seconds after swallowing the vodka - his eyes watering and a cough surprising Louis into laughter as they joined the rest of the boys who had taken seats around the fire and were starting some mundane conversation about home.
“We’re gonna miss Wirrawee show this weekend.” Louis noted, this being the first one any of them had missed in years.
“A year’s break from the show wouldn’t do us any harm” Niall put his thoughts forward, leaning on his elbows, flat to the ground.
“Yeah, I mean, how many times can you see one of our mothers win the bake-sale competition - or our dads get drunk at the bar with the veterans?” Harry laughed at the thought of his father last year tripping on a veteran’s wheelchair and swearing at him for being a clutz before he noticed who it was and immediately apologising.
“My dad’s running the chaplaincy thing for the veterans. During the ceremony.” Liam spoke proudly, chewing on a chocolate muesli bar they’d brought down from the landrover.
“Doesn’t he do that every year?” Zayn questioned, an eyebrow raised.
“Yes. He does. But it’s still something to be proud of.”
“I suppose so.” Zayn responded, nodding with the rest of the boys.
The rest of the night soon turned into a haze for all five of them, there was some more wrestling, more drinking and a bit more contact between Louis and Harry, though that could’ve been easy to mistake on part of their bad memories of the night. One thing was certain, all five of them were in for a shock when they woke up.
The smell of bacon woke Harry from his deep slumber - and he immediately cursed the night before, groaning and licking his lips in an attempt to rid himself of the foul taste in his mouth. Zayn was snoring loudly beside him, bare chested and classless.
“Zayn.” Harry shoved his mate by the shoulders, willing him to free his legs that were under the darker boys backside - obviously a result of them both literally falling into bed the night before, or more accurately, morning of.
Zayn refused to wake, and Harry’d known him long enough to be well aware that if Zayn didn’t want to wake up yet, he wasn’t waking up. Leaving him to snore, Harry slid his legs out roughly from beneath him and left the tent, following the tantilising scent coming from the fire.
Louis’ head popped up from above the pan he was holding above the fire, bacon sizzling and spitting angrily,
“Good afternoon, sleeping beauty!”
“Sleeping beauty? I don’t think that’s fair for the second person up.”
“Don’t think yourself so prudent, Styles. Liam and Niall have been up as long as I have. They’re getting water from the stream up there.” Louis pointed to the path they’d come down, drawing a circle in the air, guessing roughly where they’d be.
“What time is it?” Harry rubbed his eyes sheepishly,
“A little after one in the afternoon. We went to bed at about six, when the sun was coming up.”
“-Animals” Louis finished off his sentence with a quick wink and charming smile that sent Harry’s stomach fluttering. The fluttering didn’t stop, even after Louis looked away and moved on with breakfast. The fluttering intensified and Harry’s knees weakened.
“Jesus.” He breathed out,
“What?” Louis looked up, alarm crossing his face, “Jesus Haz, the bush!”
Harry was white as a ghost, his stomach dropping a mile a minute and his face was tingling, he wasn’t fluttering over Louis, his previous nights revelry was coming back to haunt him. His arms joined in the tingle, his knees buckled and dropped - but he didn’t hit the ground, a swift arm wrapped itself protectively around his waist and started pulling him to the edge of their camp, a calming hand immediately on Harry’s back, rubbing. On all fours, Harry’s stomach heaved, but there was nothing in his stomach to come up, and so began an afternoon of painful dry-reaching that Harry wouldn’t soon forget. Until of course, someone offered him another drink, which would probably be next weekend after school goes back.
“Let it do what it needs to, Haz.” Louis petted the back of Harry’s head as he heaved.
“Hell. It’s Hell.” Harry groaned.
“You’re funny with those puns, aren’t you?” Louis joked, a smirk crossing his face during his friend’s moment of torture.
“You’re making English jokes now, Lou? Now?” Harry managed to gag out.
“Sorry, it’s in my nature.” Louis’ fingers tentatively found their way around to the edge of Harry’s curls, holding them tenderly away from his face as he heaved, a welcome relief and a welcome touch that seemed to relieve his hangover for a few moments.
After Harry’s body understood he had nothing to offer it, he and Louis finished making lunch for the rest of the boys, bacon and sausages - unfortunately any eggs they wanted to bring were either crushed on the descent or were used in an apparent food fight the night before that none of them remembered. Liam and Niall had returned from getting water and used some of it to finally wake Zayn at almost two o’clock, an act he wasn’t too happy about, but was bribed with bacon before any punches were thrown at innocent Liam standing between he and a very amused Harry.
Lazy conversation and a slow trip up to the stream’s deepest portion occupied them until mid afternoon. There they swam, drank a little, though much more casually than the night before - mostly to numb their throbbing headaches and bodies.
A light hissing from one of the small drawstring packs they’d brought up with them attracted the attention of all the boys. Slow turning heads and quickly paling faces all shared the same instinctual fear of that sound and the squirming shape within the sack of snacks.
“Is that…” Harry pointed gingerly and spoke quietly,
“… Yup.” Louis answered, his hand raising to press Harry’s stomach and move him further away from the bag.
“Who’s bag is it?”
“Everyone’s, I brought it for everyone.” Zayn spoke, his voice quivering.
“You’re up, Malik. Be brave.”
“Me?” Zayn’s mouth lay agape, “Why me?”
“Democracy. That’s why.” Louis spoke louder now, turning to face Harry and Liam beside him, “Who votes Zayn do it?” The three other boys put their hands in the air, joining Louis’. Had Zayn paid more attention in civics, he would have known that a true democracy would not use the many to oppress the few, but alas, Louis’ gamble was well placed. Zayn began to step forward lightly, his arms trembling as they reached for the small bag.
A twig snapped underneath Zayn’s foot and the shape within the bag hissed violently, before a large black blur slithered out and raced for the boys. Harry and Niall scattered, but Louis managed to grab Liam and move to Zayn, grabbing him too and pulling him close.
“No, together!” Louis ordered, stomping his foot and leading the other two boys, “stomp together.”
The two boys stomped on the spot and the snake, previously moving straight for them halted and turned, making a beeline for the bush opposite them. A collective sigh escaped all five boys and Louis released his tight grip on Liam and Zayn’s shirts.
“Where’d you learn that?” Zayn asked, clasping Louis’ shoulder in thanks.
“Reptile Park when I was little.”
“Wow, I really should’ve paid more attention on boring family holidays.”
“You never know what information could very well save your life one day!” Louis spoke philosophically, much to the groans and complaints of the other boys. Harry, who had climbed a tree, jumped down with a perplexed look on his face and said,
“Niall… why are you wet?”
“I went in the water?” Niall answered, unsure why he was being questioned.
“You know snakes can swim, right?” Liam asked, a smirk crossing his mouth.
“No they can’t!” Niall thought they were all having a joke, because of the various hunched and lying positions the rest of them now took, laughing uncontrollably.
“Yes they can!” they cheered together,
“Oh my god,” Niall’s face drained, “I could have died!”
Harry curled up in his sleeping bag pretty early that night, definitely too tired to party again, even though the other boys didn’t seem too keen either - they were just around the fire chatting, laughing and playing some campfire games that Louis called ‘icebreakers’, some drama term. After smiling along with the boys’ outside as they joked and enjoyed themselves, Harry drifted off sometime after that, falling into a light sleep.
He awoke what he assumed was a few hours later, and his phone, which was now running dangerously low on battery, described it as just past midnight on Sunday, Commemoration Day.
“Lest we forget.” Harry mumbled as he had been taught all his life before jumping at the stirring figure beside him, he’d stupidly forgotten Zayn was going to be in there with him. Desperate to go to the bathroom, Harry needed to sneak past Zayn without waking him, but once again, he was pinned by legs. He held himself up on his elbows and almost choked on his own spit when he saw a significantly lighter leg thrown over his feet. Harry rubbed his eyes, trying to either wake himself up from a dream or clear his vision as his eyes fell upon a feather haired Louis sleeping next to him.
Sure it must be a dream, Harry pinched himself, feeling every moment of the searing pain. His instinctive hiss at the burning sensation stirred Louis, who woke up groggily,
“Haz? What’re you doin’?”
“Oh, um- noth- I, uh, I need to go to the bathroom.”
“Oh, sorry.” Louis moved his legs and rolled over, curling up on the other side of the small tent, immediately falling back to sleep and breathing heavily.
Stretching, Harry got himself out’ve the tent and walked lazily to the bushes to relieve himself. The fire was well out, smoldering with quiet snaps and crackles every few moments. The campsite wasn’t too messy, just a few things here and there, a certain draw string bag that Zayn never wanted to see again, half burned, lay on the edge of the flames.
Harry tightened his pants and moved back to the centre of the campsite and sat to push some of the embers around for a little while. He raised his head slowly, remembering the stars and stared through the clearing above him, thousands of tiny, bright specs occupying the relatively small space - more stars were before his eyes now than anybody could count in a life time. Harry felt the urge to see every star that surrounded the world from every position he could see them from - every mountain, every country, every ocean. Such wanderlust, such emotion. He felt himself truly appreciate the beauty that was his world in that very moment - a moment that itself, was cut short.
Harry’s stargazing was interrupted by a light, distant rumble followed by, what Harry thought he saw, was a red flash across the clearing, high above but still lower than the stars. He made a wish on it - he rarely saw shooting stars. A smile teased his lips, he was lucky. He’d had this realization and now he’d been able to wish upon it. His wish was selfish, and involved someone who was currently snoozing in Harry’s tent. Harry’s smile faded away when the rumble started again, this time much louder, followed soon by a ‘V’ formation of red flashing lights - they were jets and Harry couldn’t believe how close to the ground they were. The formation covered the diameter of the clearing during their two second shot across it.
The sound faded and Harry continued to stare into the clearing, perplexed. Then it hit him, it’s Commemoration Day - the Royal Australian Airforce always did flyovers in the big cities and airshows in the country communities - they were probably just heading to nearby airfields to prepare for the days events.
The jets were followed by a scent, fuel - something light on the nose, yet heavy on the air. It seemed to unpurify everything in Hell which, despite it’s name, was a paradise. Untouched by much humanity, save for the rumours of a lone hermit murder who lived down there for years - but those were of course, silly. The smell tickled Harry’s nose and prompted him to slide back into his tent and snuggle as close as possible to Louis without being obvious. Harry’s wish came true when Louis turned over and wrapped his arm sleepily over Harry’s waist, pulling him in gently. Louis had done it instinctively in his sleep, but that’s not what mattered to Harry. What mattered to him was the feeling the arm around his waist was causing on the skin below it. His heart fluttered and he fell asleep with a wide smile across his face, happiest he’d been in a very long time.
“So did you guys see the planes last night?” Niall asked through a mouth full of food, much to the disgust of Liam beside him who was cringing at the bits spitting from the blonde boy.
“Yeah, there was like a whole formation of them.” Harry added excitedly,
“There was heaps, Harry.” Niall spoke slower now, worryingly.
“Liam and I counted them all night.”
“Yeah,” Liam added his weight to the discussion, “we stopped counting when we got to thirty waves.”
“Jeez, must be some serious parades going on around the cities.” Harry bemused as he looked over to Louis who was dishing himself some more bacon.
Louis lifted his plate and smelled the bacon with a satisfied look on his face before adding, “You know, what if they weren’t ours?”
“What do you mean?” Zayn entered the conversation, having just been in the bushes. He took a seat next to Niall and began playfully picking at the blonde boys food, smiling delightfully as Niall turned to deflect his arms.
“Well, think about it. It’s Commemoration Day, everyone expects planes to be flyin’ about here and there - that’d be the best day to fool everyone, don’t you think?”
“That stuff doesn’t happen anymore, Lou.” Harry proclaimed, confident, “That’s for history.”
“And that’s precisely what I study!” Louis stood up excitedly
“I thought you studied drama?”
“I do historical drama, too, Curly.”
The rest of their final day in Hell was spent relaxing in the beam of sunlight the clearing provided. The boys cheered at the sound of wild fireworks that echoed off the mountain and bounced into Hell, obviously from the Wirrawee Show and held their own minute silence for the Commemoration services at what they thought was midday - their phones had all gone flat.
“… and they shall not grow old,
As we that are left grow old,
Nor the years condemn,
And in the morning,
We will remember them.” Louis lead the boys through the Ode,
They all repeated solemnly, “We will remember them.”