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Tightrope

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Louis only got lost once on his way to meet Harry. He was lucky Harry had suggested some touristy pub in Covent Garden because when he got off two stops too early he only had to walk a few extra minutes before he found where he was supposed to be. For an over-expensive tourist trap Harry had picked out a nice place to have dinner. Louis glanced at the menu to see what kinda food they served and he blanched when he saw a simple burger was almost £18, but still, he went in. It wasn’t like he was going to abandon Harry when he hadn’t seen him in almost two years.

Harry was already there, seated at a booth with two drinks in front of him. Louis took in the sight of him: he’d let his hair grow back out from when the haircut he’d gotten right before he left for London. It wasn’t as long as it had been, the curls barely grazing Harry’s shoulders, but Louis thought he looked lovely. He wasn’t dressed in what Louis had learned over social media was Harry’s new look, instead wearing blue jeans and an old hoodie that didn’t quite fit him anymore. He was still the most gorgeous man Louis had ever seen and it felt good Louis was the one who got to approach him.

“You’re buying dinner tonight,” Louis said in lieu of any other proper greeting.

Harry perked up, smiling wide as he finally registered Louis appearing next to him. “Hello to you too, love,” he said as he stood and gave Louis a quick greeting kiss. “And of course I’m buying dinner tonight. How was the drive down? How’s the flat? Did you end up getting a roommate or are you by yourself? Here I already got you a G&T and I’ve got an order of nachos in.”

Louis relaxed into his embrace and he pulled Harry in for another kiss. It had been too long and he’d missed him. “You know me so well.” He sat down in the booth next to Harry because fuck normal procedure he was gonna be as close to Harry as he wanted. “And the drive was fine. Mum drove me since I’m not gonna keep my car here. The flat’s alright, it’s in Peckham and I found it for something that won’t kill me every time I pay. It’s a forty minute ride to the hospital though, oh don’t give me that look.”

Harry’s face had morphed to concern as he was talking and Louis knew immediately what was coming. “I told you I had an extra room. I think it’s even closer to the hospital, you said you’re working at the one right by Westminster right?”

“Harry, you know why I couldn’t do that.”

The thing was their relationship was complicated. Harry was the one, Louis just knew it. They loved each other in a way Louis’d never love anyone else. They’d been best friends since childhood, growing up down the street from one another. They’d been each others’ first boyfriend, staying together since they were teenagers until a couple years ago when Harry moved to London. They belonged together and one day they were going to get married and have three point five children, a dog, and two cats.

It just wasn’t the right time for them yet.

They’d broken up when Harry moved to open up his shop four years ago because Louis had still only been in the beginnings of his nursing career and he couldn’t exactly up and leave his position at the hospital in Manchester to follow his boyfriend. On top of that their schedules were shit and they’d both agreed when Harry first moved away they’d only get back together when the time was right and they could dedicate themselves fully to the relationship. Even with Louis finally in London it would be too much.

Harry understood because he gave Louis’ hand a squeeze. “I’ve missed you so much.”

“I’ve missed you too. So tell me about what’s been going on with you.”

Harry let out a sigh. “It’s nothing much. The shop is doing well. We’ve got seven chefs now, can you believe it? That’s how many orders we get in each day.”

“I remember when it was just you in that tiny little kitchen churning out cupcakes and cakes and now you’ve moved on to a full breakfast service and you sell tea and coffee and chocolates.”

“I know! We’ve got the new location - oh you haven’t seen it in person. You’ll need to come down some time. When are you working?”

“My hours aren’t set in stone but for the first three weeks they’ve said I’ll be doing three twelve hour day shifts and then it’ll adjust from there. I don’t mind the three days on four days off schedule though.”

“I know you don’t,” Harry said.

They were interrupted by the waitress appearing with their nachos. She took their order - Louis barely even looking at the menu, just taking the suggestion Harry gave him - and left them to their conversations. They filled each other in on their families (what little they didn’t already know) and Harry continued to tell him all about the casual youtube fame he was experiencing.

“I honestly can’t thank Lottie enough for the suggestion. Youtube really took the shop to the next level. I’m doing Tom Daley’s wedding cake all because he saw the unicorn cupcake tutorial I made.”

“Yeah, but do you really want to give her that much power? Her ego is big enough as is. And don’t sell yourself short. Tom Daley probably hired you because he thought you were fit. It had nothing to do with the cakes.”

“Hey!” Harry said, but he was smiling and laughing.

“You’re not gonna lie to me and tell me you never pulled from youtube, are you?”

“I would never lie to you, Lou.” Louis raised an eyebrow, urging Harry to continue. “Okay! I’ve definitely pulled because of youtube. It’s not on purpose! I’ll just be chatting with some guy and then suddenly he’ll be handing me his number and if he’s fit and I have a night off I’ll call him. But come on, I know you’ve dated at least one of your patients.”

“Um, no I haven’t. Because I work with children.” Now it was Harry’s turn to raise his eyebrow, waiting for Louis to crack and confess. “One guy! One much older brother who I went on one date with that ended very badly because his dick broke.”

Harry let out a loud cackle and Louis wasn’t surprised to see people staring at them. They tended to get loud when they went out and draw attention. “You never told me his dick broke. Did you take him to your hospital or?”

“Yes! We had to go to my hospital and fucking Margaret was on call that night so I had to live with her knowing and do you wanna know the only thing she ever said to me about it?”

Harry was still giggling, trying to hide it behind his drink. “No, what?”

“She’d just come up to me sometimes and be like, ‘your bum would never have that problem with Harry.’”

Harry let out a shriek. “She didn’t!”

“She did. She fucking- I don’t even know why she knows your dick size-”

“She gave me a physical once because your mum wasn’t around.”

“Did you whack her in the eye with your cock or something? She’d just tell me there was no way I’d ever break yours with how thick it was. She was obsessed. It’s like your dick changed her life.”

Harry didn’t look embarrassed, probably because he had no shame, even when the waitress came up in the middle of Louis’ speech with wide eyes to drop off their meals. She had clearly heard some of what they were saying. After she had scurried away Louis leaned over to Harry to whisper to him, “how likely do you think it is we’ll get kicked out?”

“A solid seven, though it’ll rise to a ten once we get to dessert and one of us tells the nice waitress we want to eat the other one for dessert.”

It was Louis’ turn to burst out laughing and he hid his face in Harry’s shoulder. “I’ll give you ten quid if you can manage to say that with a straight face.”

Harry snorted. “Easy money. Now here, try this burger. I promise the raspberry glaze is to die for.”

“You know I trust you, love,” Louis said as they dug into their food.

As they ate they finally veered into the territory that was always most fun for them: the ex-boyfriend and one night stand gossip. Louis started it off by regaling Harry with the horror story that was his last relationship, a guy he’d met at a club who was convinced they belonged together, to the point where he refused to leave the next morning and locked himself in Louis’ bathroom. It had taken a call to his landlord and the police to get the guy out and the ensuing legal battle to get a restraining order had been a complete pain the arse.

Harry retaliated with an ex of his who was really, really into food play.

“It was fine to begin with, like you know, simple things. Feeding each other, some whipped cream in the bedroom, normal shit,” Harry said as he handed Louis his pickles. “Then it got a little weirder. He wanted to like, blow me while I was baking, and I had a hard time getting it up because that’s just unsanitary for the food. So nothing I baked could be eaten. And he wanted me to put hot sugar on him and I sat him down and tried to explain why that was not a good idea, but he wouldn’t listen? He kept saying he wanted me to wax him with the sugar and then come over the clean skin and I just couldn’t, Lou, I couldn’t fucking do it.”

Louis could barely breathe through the eating and the laughing. “Where the fuck do you find these guys?”

“They find me!”

“Stop picking up guys who come into your store.”

“Only when you stop picking up your patients older brothers, or their straight fathers.”

“Listen, Ralph divorced his wife after sleeping with me, found a new boyfriend, and they got married last year. It’s very fucking cute. They have two parrots and joint custody of Toby. It’s the perfect life.”

“Did she ever realize she was gay too?”

“Yeah. It’s a big blended family now. Really cute. I’ll show you the card I got for Christmas.”

Harry nodded as he swiped a chip in the run off of Louis’ burger. “So, you seeing anyone now? Leave anyone in Manchester?”

“Left a lot of broken hearts in Manchester, but no. I’m not seeing anyone. Didn’t think anything would survive the move. And besides with the new schedule up in the air I probably won’t be going out to pull for a couple months. Gives me time to acclimate. What about you? Got your eye on anyone?”

Harry shrugged. “Yeah, I guess I’m sorta seeing this guy?”

“Sorta? What do you mean sorta?”

“Well we’ve only been on like five dates. I don’t know how far it’s gonna go.”

Louis pursed his lips in thought. “What does he think of this meetup?”

“I didn’t tell him.”

“Harold!”

“What?! I told you, it’s been like five dates. We aren’t exclusive or anything.”

“Is he aware you aren’t exclusive? This is how you end up tied to someone’s bed Misery style.”

“Yes! We met on fucking grindr and haven’t had the exclusive talk. His phone even grindr pinged on our last date.”

“Rude!”

“So like it’s fine. I don’t even know if he’ll last, you know my schedule is shit.”

Louis nodded. “Don’t I know it. Surprised you haven’t bailed on me yet. It’s getting close to your bedtime.”

“Don’t work Thursdays.”

Louis’ eyebrows shot up in surprise. “Look at you, taking a day off for yourself. And I’m guessing you have a light day on Sundays when you guys are closed?”

“You would guess correct. I work ten to three doing prep on Sundays which, well you know how hectic my schedule is otherwise.”

Louis did. Harry used to be into the bakery at four and would end up working fifteen hour days. Something as short as ten to three was a walk in the park for him. “So, what you’re saying is you won’t immediately go to sleep on me if I go home with you?”

Harry’s eyes darkened suddenly. It wasn’t as if that question was a surprise for him. Louis was pretty sure they were both on the same page when it came to meeting up. Them meeting up any time in the last four years always meant sex was involved somehow. It was part of the whole we know we’re going to be together forever thing they had going on.

“No,” Harry said, voice suddenly deeper. He was using his sex voice and Louis got goosebumps. “I had plans for you.”

“Oh? Have you been thinking about this?”

“Been thinking about it a lot,” Harry said. “The thought of laying you out in my bed, the way you’ll look against my sheets. They’re a dark blue and I think you’d look amazing against them.”

“I look amazing against anything,” Louis said, unable to stop himself from leaning forward and giving Harry a kiss that dipped too close to indecent for public.

“That you do,” Harry said as they broke the kiss. “Want to get you on your hands and knees and eat you out for hours.”

Louis grinned. “Missed my bum?”

“Missed everything about you.” He was so honest and it was such a turn on. “There’s no one like you.”

“I know,” Louis said. “There’s no one like you either. No one can touch me like you can. And no one can touch you like I can. Isn’t that right?”

Harry nodded. “Lemme get the check and we can head back to my place. It’s a bit of a commute on the tube so don’t get too worked up.”

“You didn’t think this out too clearly did you? Making us ride back on the tube. Should have gone some place in your neighborhood.”

“We really should have,” Harry said, and he sounded remorseful. “Next time we will.”

Louis smiled. Next time sounded lovely. “I’ll refrain from mounting you until we’re safely in your flat.”

That was easier said than done, as proven once they were underground waiting for the tube. They were that obnoxious couple that was making out against the wall, only stopping whenever there was a loud throat clear behind them. Even then all they did was pull apart for a second and start giggling, which would turn into giggling against each others’ mouths, which would turn into them making out again.

They missed at least two trains this way, until finally Harry had enough brain power to say, “shit this is my train,” right before the doors closed.

The train ride wasn’t much better, in a half-empty car, the two of them kissing deep and dirty. Louis was always two seconds away from climbing into Harry’s lap and there were a couple close calls where Harry was about to pull him into his lap. The fact everyone ignored them was a miracle.

Harry stopped kissing him long enough to pull him off the tube at his stop - another close call that had them running through the closing doors. They could barely keep their hands off each other as they climbed up the escalator to the street. It was only a five minute walk from the station to Harry’s flat and if Louis hadn’t just endured the longest tube ride ever he wouldn’t have lasted through the walk.

Harry neighborhood seemed nice and lively, full of little shops and restaurants. Louis groped Harry’s bum as he whispered in his ear, “why didn’t you just take me here? We’d already be on round two by this point.”

Harry laughed and kissed Louis on the mouth. “The anticipation, my love.” He pulled Louis up towards a complex door and it took Louis’ lust fogged brain a moment to even register it was because this was his flat. “Second floor,” Harry said, bringing Louis inside.

They were both giggling as the front door shut, leaving them in Harry’s hallway.

“I could just give you a blowie right here.”

“Don’t tempt me. My neighbors wouldn’t like that.”

“But we would,” Louis said, breaking free so he could jog up the stairs and shake his bum enticingly. He heard Harry whimper from down the stairs and he turned around to crook his finger. “I’m waiting.”

Harry took the steps two at a time and unlocked his flat door. They stumbled in together and Louis tried to pull him towards… well somewhere. It took him a moment to realize the front door didn’t open up to a room but instead it was a closed off foyer with three doors and a set of stairs.

“What the hell?”

Harry laughed and kicked off his shoes, opening one of the doors to reveal a coat closet. “Closet,” he pointed the door to the right of the closet, “door to the living room and kitchen,” he pointed to the next door, “toilet, and finally stairs to the bedrooms.”

Louis grinned and followed Harry’s lead, shedding his shoes and coat before dragging him up the stairs. It was almost like a romance movie, where each step was taken by them rolling up the walls, one back pressed against it than another’s back as they kissed and groped at each other frantically.

They were both undressed by the time they reached the second floor landing and Harry picked him up then. Louis gasped in delight.

“Missed this,” he said.

Harry grinned at him as he carried Louis into his bedroom and deposited him on the bed. He reached over and flicked on a lamp light. It took Louis a moment to adjust his eyes to first the dark and then the soft lamplight. In that time Harry climbed on top of him, pushing him down as he kissed him.

Louis sighed happily, letting Harry take control for a moment. He loved how Harry kissed him: needy and desperate, like Louis was the greatest thing he had ever had. The kisses mimicked the words he would speak whenever they had sex, praise from his lips two-fold.

Harry pulled back and Louis was able to admire how much, and little, he had changed since they’d last done this. He reached up, running his finger from Harry’s mouth down to his jaw, to his neck and the collarbones before sweeping over the two swallows he had tattooed right below them. Louis leaned up and kissed the smaller swallow, the one that was meant to represent him. It had been Harry’s first big piece, Louis’ birthday gift to him when he turned eighteen.

Because swallows mate for life and you and I are gonna be together forever, Harry had said with such confidence while he sat in the chair waiting to get tattooed.

Louis had gotten his stag tattoo a couple weeks afterwards, fulfilling a decade long joke between the two of them that was rooted in Harry Potter. The other tattoos had followed, one a year on their anniversary. First they’d gotten a heart and arrow, that crossed through one another when they walked side by side. Then a rope and anchor that twisted together whenever they held hands. For the third tattoo, that they got on their fifth anniversary, they got a rose and a dagger. Louis had thought particularly long and hard about that one, the placement, design, and meaning.

The last set they’d gotten had come a couple weeks before Harry had moved to London to take up position as co-owner and executive chef of Dough Re Mi. Harry had gotten a ship on his bicep while Louis had gotten a compass on his forearm.

So we’ll always be able to come home to each other, Harry had told him.

It had worked because here they were, four years later, still finding ways to collide back with each other.

“How do you want me?” Louis asked, teasing as he laid back against the pillows.

Harry groaned and surged forward to kiss him. “So. Many. Ways.” Each word was punctured with a kiss. “I wanna roll you over. Wanna eat you out all night. Wanna blow you, and then have you do me. I’ll fuck you, and you can fuck me after we get our strength back up.”

Louis laughed, low and dark. “That seems like a sex filled night.”

“I’ve missed you,” Harry said. “Did you have a request?”

Louis pretended to think about it for a second before he gently pushed Harry’s chest until he was sitting back on his hunches. Louis winked at him before he carefully rolled over onto his hands and knees, presenting himself. “You know what to do.”

It took Harry a moment to move, to put his big hands on Louis’ bum and spread his cheeks, exposing his hole to the cool room air. But when he did Louis let out a moan that was definitely loud enough to carry. Then he remembered they were alone, in a posh flat in London. Not one of the shitty flats they rented in Manchester with paper thin walls, or his mum’s house or Harry’s mum’s house, but an actual place with walls. No one could probably hear him.

It gave Louis the privilege of being loud as Harry’s breath coasted against his hole, teasing him before Harry stuck his tongue out and licked across his opening.

“Oh, fuck,” Louis gasped, arching back as far as he could. Harry kept a firm hold on his hips. It kept him mostly in place as he got to work, licking broad strokes nice and slow. “Oh. God. Dammit. So good.”

It only took a few more until Louis was a babbling mess, reaching down to stroke his cock because he didn’t care if he came first or this soon. They’d just had thirty minutes of foreplay. Harry’d known him when he was eighteen and got off in twenty seconds flat. There was no embarrassment between them.

He got louder as he got closer, fisting his cock roughly to bring him off in a spectacular orgasm. Louis could see from how his head was bent the way his come hit all over the sheets and he had a moment to think that was a mistake. They’d have to sleep in that mess. But Harry’s tongue distracted him as it finally pushed inside his hole just as he was coming down from his orgasm.

He was sensitive after he came. Harry knew this. He knew Louis’ body like his own and that was why he did these things. He knew what Louis needed. He understood just how much Louis could take. That’s why a finger joined his tongue soon after, adding delicious pressure to his rim.

Harry’s tongue pulled back. “Love fucking you after you orgasm. It’s such a gift.”

Louis let out a pitiful whimper, rolling his hips back so he could get more pressure from Harry’s finger.

Harry laughed as he pulled away. “Just getting the condom and lube, my love. Can’t fuck you dry and bare.”

Louis shook his head. “Been there. Done that.”

“Not a t-shirt I like owning,” Harry finished off as he opened his bedside table drawer. When he got back in position he took a moment to admire Louis. “You’re absolutely stunning like this.”

“Would be more stunning with your dick in me.”

“We’re getting to that part,” Harry said.

He took his time prepping Louis. He always did when they hadn’t had sex for awhile. He treated Louis like glass, afraid he would break him. Louis understood, of course. Their first time could have been very traumatizing if he had not done exactly this. A too large cock inside an unprepped hole spelled disaster but they were smart.

Harry never stopped being smart about it. He worked Louis up to four fingers - excessive - but the stretch felt so incredibly good. By the time he was pulling his fingers out of Louis’ well lubed hole Louis was hard again. He kept his hands to himself, not wanting to work himself to an orgasm without Harry.

He felt the blunt pressure of Harry’s cock pushing against his hole and he couldn’t stop himself from letting out a whine. The feeling of Harry sinking into him was indescribable. One of the top five feelings in the world. Something sonnets were written about.

Louis clenched his fists and let out a low moan as Harry’s hips met his bum. They stayed like that for a moment. Harry fully inside him.

“If you don’t move I sw-”

Harry pulled back. Louis wasn’t sure if it was all the way but it sure felt like all of his cock come out of him before pushing back in, Harry’s hips settling back against his bum.

“Jesus!”

“Not my name,” Harry said. His voice wasn’t wrecked yet but Louis knew it was just a matter of time.

“Harry!” Louis said as he repeated the action, starting a long and slow rhythm that had Louis teetering towards unsatisfied if each stroke didn’t tease his prostate and push his own cock against the wet blanket.

His stomach was getting messy from his come and pre-come mixing together on the blanket with his sweat mixing in. He didn’t even care. He just wanted Harry to move faster, to pound into him and get him off.

He said as much but Harry kept up the pace.

“You aren’t the fucking tortoise you asshole,” Louis said, trying to adjust because if Harry wasn’t going to go faster he was going to make him. He knew the moment Harry saw his hand going for his cock because he pushed against Louis hard. He lost his balance and went face first into the pillow, hands no where near his cock.

“No,” Harry said, his voice finally sounding wrecked. “I want. To make you come. Myself.”

Louis turned his head so he could say, “then fuck me.”

The next push was deliciously fast, short and sharp, right against Louis’ prostate. He saw stars and he let Harry know by letting out a loud moan of pleasure. Harry picked up the pace, going harder and faster until Louis was just whimpers like he had been before. His cock was rubbing against the blanket and he was tumbling towards the edge quickly. It was amazing and he could barely make out what he and Harry were babbling to each other.

“Love you, love you, love you,” Louis thought he was saying.

“Mine, mine, you’re mine,” he thought he heard Harry grunting right before he came with a loud shout. His hips stuttered, slamming against Louis’ hips as he empty himself into the condom.

It sent Louis over the edge and he came smushed into the blanket. His stomach and chest were disgusting and he didn’t care as he felt Harry pull out of him, leaving him empty and wet.

“Shit.” Harry’s sharp voice knocked him out of his post-orgasm haze.

“What?” Louis asked, looking back at Harry.

“The fucking condom broke.”

“God fucking dammit.”

“It’s fine. It’s fine. I can pick up the morning after pill tomorrow for you,” Harry said as he scrambled around, throwing out the broken condom and grabbing his boxers at the same time. He tried to clean up in between Louis’ legs, as if wiping away the sperm spilling out of him was going to solve everything.

Louis swatted his hands away. “I’m not worried about pregnancy, you dick. I’m on the pill. I should be fine but who knows who your grindr using boyfriend has stuck his dick in.”

“Louis. I haven’t fucked him.”

“What?”

“We’ve only been on-”

“Five dates, I know. Jesus fucking Christ Harold we fucked faster.”

“Because I was seventeen and we’d been dancing around each other and sharing blowies for two years at that point. Not the same. I’m clean.”

Louis settled back down in bed, the fear and anxiety slowly leaving him. “I’m still getting tested and so should you.”

“That’s fair, love,” Harry said as he pulled him in for a quick kiss. “It’ll be fine. I love you.”

“Love isn’t gonna stop me from getting chlamydia.”

Harry rolled his eyes as he kissed Louis again. “I don’t have chlamydia.”

“You don’t know what you have, which is why we’re getting tested.” Louis let out a sigh as he kissed Harry once more. “I love you too, though.”

“Do you love me enough to go for a second round where you fuck me?”

“I take it back, I hate you.”

Harry laughed and pulled Louis on top of him. “No you don’t. You love me and want to be with me forever and one day have my children.”

Louis didn’t respond because he didn’t need Harry knowing just how true that statement was. Instead he just pulled him in for another kiss, planning on making the most of their last night together.

Chapter Text

Hospitals in London were really no different from hospitals in Manchester and six year olds most definitely weren’t any different.

“Can you open your mouth for me please?”

Erica, the six year old he was currently dealing with, who most definitely had strep but he needed to get a peek of the inside of her mouth just to be positive, shook her head. They’d had this back and forth going on for only a couple minutes, and Louis was positive he’d be able to outlast her but he was tired. He’d been at work since five this morning and it was now almost eight at night. His feet were killing him. His back was aching. And he was hungry as hell.

Louis glanced at Erica’s mother, who was playing some game on her phone and couldn’t seem to care less about his struggles. Oh well, her fault for not paying attention. Louis pulled out a lollipop from his scrubs pocket and watched as Erica’s eyes widened in delight.

“Can I have-”

He cut her off before she could even finish her question with a gentle finger to hold her mouth open. He shined his light into her mouth and frowned in sympathy when he saw the definite signs of redness. Poor girl.

“There,” he said as he took his finger away, “was that so hard?” He handed her the lollipop as he asked the question and Erica just nodded absently. He removed the gloves and made a mark on his sheet. “The doctor will be in momentarily to finish off the examine. You both have a lovely evening.”

He was answered by silence but it was okay. He didn’t need a response. He did however need to get to the nurses’ station so he could clock out and go home. He felt like a zombie as he nodded to his coworkers, all of whom had only been on shift for an hour so they were still chipper and full of hope.

“You gotta visitor, Tommo,” a fellow nurse named Roger said with a wink. “Handsome bloke who’s been waiting for you since seven. Think he might be planning on taking you out for dinner.”

It took Louis a moment to connect who it could be and then he smiled. “Did you tell him to wait by my lockers or did a nurse try and steal him?”

“He’s by the lockers. He didn’t want Dr. Cox to find him.”

“Thanks, Roger. I’ll head back there, and I’ll be seeing you all Thursday!” He waved to his fellow nurses, accepting the wishes of a good weekend - even though it was Sunday night it was the weekend for him.

He slipped down the hallway and into the side room that housed the lockers. There, waiting on the bench in the middle of the room was the guy Roger had been talking about: Chad. Chad was a resident Louis’d started dating about a month ago. He hadn’t been looking for a relationship but his mother always said that’s when you tend to find them and Chad was nice. He understood what it was like to work in a hospital and come home exhausted, sometimes too busy for a dinner date. The fact he was good looking, with long blond hair and green eyes wrapped up in a Captain America kinda face, didn’t hurt.

“Look who’s finally off shift,” Chad said, standing up with a big stretch.

Louis waved him off from a kiss because he was still in scrubs and he couldn’t remember what all had happened during his shift that would have made them dirty. Chad was patient and waited until he had stripped down to his boxers before stepping into his space and giving him a kiss.

“Hey, babe.”

“Hey,” Louis said. “Sorry you’ve been waiting so long. Tim’s boy was throwing up this morning so he wanted to leave early. I came in to cover for him and just continued my shift and it’s been hell since.”

Chad gave him another soft kiss. “You’ve worked so hard. That’s why you deserve what I was planning for you tonight.”

Louis yawned as he grabbed his clothes and started dressing. “Does what you planned for me include a bubble bath and Indian food?”

“It could. I thought maybe we’d go to dinner, and then back to my place? My roommates aren’t home but I know where Jessica keeps her bath bomb collection,” Chad wiggled an eyebrow and Louis couldn’t stop the smiling from spreading across his face.

“Can the dinner be Indian? And can it be takeaway and can I eat it in your bathtub without you judging me?”

“Yes. Yes. And yes,” Chad said, punctuating each word with a kiss before he grabbed Louis’ bag.

“You’re the best,” Louis said.

He ended up not stealing Chad’s roommate’s bathbomb, mostly because he didn’t actually know her that well. They’d seen each other in passing in the hospital, since both of Chad’s roommates were residents as well, but they weren’t close. Louis didn’t feel comfortable taking their stuff without permission. The only reason he was even comfortable showering in Chad’s flat was because he absolutely needed to after working fifteen hours.

He and Chad weren’t at that point in their relationships yet. Louis wasn’t sure when that point would be met, it was possible it would be never. The amount he needed to open up to someone to become fully comfortable with them seemed like too much the older and older he got. He had almost 30 years of backstory someone would have to slog through to fully get him. He still tried, because being lonely sucked and you never succeeded if you didn’t try, but he never expected a miracle.

He changed into the clean clothes he kept in his bag and headed out to the common room of the flat. Chad was already situated on the sofa with a table full of Indian food. Louis let out a grateful moan as he collapsed onto the sofa next to Chad and curled up next to him.

“You are so good to me,” he said as he pulled Chad down for a kiss.

They kissed languidly for a few minutes, Louis letting himself relax under the affection Chad was showering him with. He even let himself be pushed back into the couch, Chad making himself comfortable in between Louis’ legs. Louis sighed, breaking the kiss so Chad could kiss his jawline and kiss into his throat. He let it go on for a minute more before his stomach rumbled loudly.

Chad laughed, leaning up so he could look down at Louis’ stomach. “Someone is hungry.”

Louis shrugged, only mildly embarrassed. He was sure if Chad had his way they’d both be naked before dinner and covered in come, but Louis was starving. “Yeah. Haven’t eaten for awhile and this food smells so good.” He shimmied his way out from under Chad and sat up properly on the couch.

He grabbed one of the plates of chicken tikka masala and inhaled three pieces almost immediately. “Oh my god, so good.”

He looked over at Chad who was shaking his head as he tucked into his own food. “I’m glad I can provide.”

They continued an easy conversation while they ate filling each other in on their day and their plans for the upcoming week. While Louis didn’t have to work again until Thursday Chad was scheduled for a twenty four hour shift starting at 19:00 tomorrow, and then he’d have the next day off before resuming twelve hour long days. Being a resident was brutal and Louis in no way envied it.

“We can go see a movie Wednesday? Get a matinee. I did all my grocery shopping and chores today so I’m set,” Chad said.

“I’ll see how much I get done. I’ll be doing laundry all day tomorrow I think.”

“Oh! We could go to Soho too,” Chad said. “I’ve been meaning to try that bakery, Dough Re Mi.” Louis froze mid-bite and he hoped Chad didn’t notice. Luckily he was still rambling. “We could get a thing for the people on morning shift Thursday.”

“Maybe,” Louis said, trying to figure out ways out of this. He hadn’t planned on going to see Harry’s bakery until much later. Probably Christmas since that’s when his mum would finally have time to come down and see him and she’d want to go. The thing with Harry only worked because they followed the rules, and bringing his boyfriend to Harry’s shop uninvited was definitely against those rules.

“Well don’t seem too excited.”

Louis shook his head and smiled. “Sorry, was just thinking about what movie I’d want to see. You in for Guardians of the Galaxy?”

Chad laughed. “Am I in for Guardians of the Galaxy? You ask me, a simple man who started hitting on you because he saw you playing as Gamora with the kids in pediatrics, if I want to see Guardians of the Galaxy.”

“Hey, don’t bring that up! I still don’t know why you even found me attractive, I was covered in green marker.”

“I love green guys what can I say,” Chad said with a wink. “That and the marker didn’t hide your bum in scrubs.”

“Don’t objectify me,” Louis said. He kicked out gently with his foot as he put down his empty tray. “Just for that you’re giving me a massage while I pull up something to watch on Netflix.”

Chad only smiled as he finished up his food and then dutifully began to rub Louis’ feet. “Your wish is my command.”

Louis let out a hum of pleasure as he set up the episode of Sense8 they left off on - or rather Chad left off on since he hadn’t watched it until Louis had introduced him to it. The opening credits started rolling and Louis leaned back into the couch. By the time the credits were over Chad had finished rubbing his feet and settled down behind Louis, spooning him. Louis had to shuffle a little to get comfortable. He was used to being the big spoon but Chad had been presumptuous their first night together and Louis never bothered to correct him.

“I love your tattoos,” Chad said, fingers tracing Harry’s stag.

Louis shivered under his touch. “I gotta couple.”

“Yeah they’re so random but I just really love them.”

“They aren’t random. They’re nautical.” Chad’s finger pressed into the stag. “Okay, not him, but the others are.”

“I think it’s so cute you give your tattoos personification.”

Louis couldn’t help but grimace internally because there was no easy way to talk about his tattoos with anyone who didn’t understand. And this was what he meant about explaining his backstory to someone. “They’re just designs I liked.”

“Well, I like them a lot.” Chad lifted up his wrist and carefully traced his lips down the arrow.

Louis shivered again and pulled his wrist away lightly. “Let’s watch the show, babe.”

***

Louis woke up with a lurch and he scrambled out of Chad’s bed. In the dark it was hard to maneuver in an unfamiliar space but he had to. The option of throwing up on the floor was not one he looked forward to.

He made it to the toilet just in time before he found himself throwing up his entire dinner. It sucked and he hated every second of it.

“Babe?” Chad asked, half asleep in the doorway. “I got you some pepto.”

Louis let out a pitiful groan from his position praying at the toilet bowl. “Gimme a second.”

“Take your time,” Chad said, and then suddenly he was right beside Louis, rubbing his back. “Bad takeaway food I guess.”

“Probably raw chicken. Dammit.” Louis coughed and embarrassingly he threw up even more food, but Chad just stayed there seeing him through it. There were perks to dating a doctor and their lack of aversion to bodily functions was one of them.

“You doing okay?” Chad asked after Louis managed to stop. Louis shook his head. “I’m gonna get up and get you some water, alright, babe?”

At that Louis nodded.

He luckily didn’t throw up anymore and by the time Chad returned with a glass of water to rinse his mouth out with Louis was leaning back against the wall, miserable.

“I hate throwing up,” he whined as he accepted the glass of water.

Chad sat down next to him, pepto in his hand for Louis to take when he was ready. “I don’t think anyone enjoys it. Here this’ll make you feel better.” Louis took a spoonful and grimaced at the taste but he knew it would make him better. He snuggled against Chad’s chest and soaked up the backrubs he was getting. Chad let him cuddle right up until Louis’ eyes started to droop. Then he gently coaxed him up and guided him back to bed.

“If you’re still sick before I leave I’d rather you stay here than take the tube home,” Chad said as he tucked Louis into bed.

“But my laundry,” Louis whined, settling down into bed.

“Well you got two extra days off.” Chad kissed his forehead. “Sleep well, babe. And feel better.”

Chapter Text

“Next patient is in room 305,” Roger said, handing Louis over a chart. “Nineteen year old girl complaining she’s been throwing up non-stop for the past two months. Claims she has the flu but asides from the vomiting nothing else seems to be wrong with her.”

Louis took a quick look at her chart and frowned. “Urine sample results?”

“Pregnant.”

He heaved a sigh. “That would do it.”

There were a lot of patients that were rough to talk to but Louis always found this kinda talk the roughest. There were so many reactions you tended to get, and none of them were what Louis called good. Some teens burst immediately into tears, others got angry with him and argued it was impossible, and still others did what was the scariest in Louis’ opinion and go completely silent. They’d stay silent the whole time he talked to them about options and support systems they could go to and they’d leave without Louis ever knowing if they were going to be okay.

Louis really hated when there was nothing he could do to help his patients.

***

The girl had ended up being an in-denial-cryer and it tore Louis apart to stand there as she shouted about how impossible it was, and that she hadn’t slept with anyone in months. Louis finally managed to coax it out of her that she’d last slept with “that cheater Geoff” back in February so he was able to assure her she would still be able to safely terminate. He left the room feeling wrung out and he was glad when Roger patted him on the shoulder and told him to take dinner.

It was past midnight as he grabbed his lunchbox from his locker and headed down to the almost empty cafeteria. He spotted Chad sitting with Tim and another resident, Perrie, and he gratefully slid into the empty seat.

“Morning everyone,” he said and Perrie cheerfully flipped him off before sliding her communal chip plate over to him to show she wasn’t actually mad.

“I’ve been here since seven this morning, you fucker,” she said at the same time Chad asked, “how are you feeling, babe?”

“I’m doing alright. Think the food poisoning is finally going away. Was only nauseous this morning but didn’t throw anything up.” The food poisoning he’d had since the takeaway with Chad over two weeks ago had been brutal and Louis was glad it was finally seeming to settle down. He turned back to Perrie. “Are you on a twenty-four hour shift?” He asked, as he grabbed a chip to show Chad just how much better he was feeling. She nodded. “Why aren’t you in the on call room? There’s nothing going on. They even switched me to the ER for the night cause it’s so quiet.”

“Already slept. Woke up cause your boyfriend over there snores.”

Louis glanced at Chad who looked worse for wear. He leaned over and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “Tough night?”

“Long. Lotta administrative stuff and then studying. Dr. Cox has a conference opportunity for one resident to accompany her but you need to prepare a speech on why you’re the most qualified to go.”

“I’m sure you’ll do great,” Louis said.

Perrie stuck out her tongue. “He’s just lucky I have no interest in cardiology or else I’d be kicking his arse right now.”

“I finished above you in med school,” Chad said.

“And yet I’m the one who gets all the good patients and am on track to be lead resident next year. Go figure.”

“Children,” Tim said with a voice that conveyed his wisdom and age as a long term nurse, “no one likes to hear baby doctors have a pissing contest.”

Louis grinned as both Perrie and Chad looked ashamed of how they were behaving. “This is why everyone prefers nurses to you guys,” Louis said, raising his hand up for a high five from Tim. “We get to do all the fun stuff anyway.”

“What fun stuff? You don’t get to diagnose or make any of the calls on how to help someone,” Chad said.

Louis leveled him with a glare. “The fact you think diagnosis and control is the fun part of this job speaks a lot about your character. The fun stuff I’m referring to is the patient interaction. That’s what this job is all about and you two miss it all the time. Perrie, tell me about the craziest patient you’ve had.”

Perrie blinked and then frowned. “I don’t know, I guess I had someone with some weird rash on their groin that was actually poison ivy and it turned out he liked to have outdoor sex?”

“Tame,” Tim said. “Last week I had a couple in the ER who had used super glue as lube because both of them couldn’t bother to read and even after we’d gotten them unstuck they refused to believe it was super glue and kept telling anyone who would listen that it was expired lube and they were going to sue.”

“What were they, American?” Chad asked.

“They were, but I try not to judge,” Tim said primly. “What about you Chad?”

“I don’t know. I guess I don’t spend much time with patients. Too busy trying to figure out what’s wrong with them to have any bedside manner.” He said it so matter a factly, as if it wasn’t a problem.

“Well today I had a girl who was basically three months pregnant and didn’t know it,” Louis said. “She’d come in cause she thought she’d had the flu for too long.”

“I don’t get that,” Chad said. “For carriers maybe since any period they might get is light so they don’t notice it’s missing, but women don’t notice their period missing? And then the morning sickness and the getting bigger, I just don’t understand.”

Louis nodded in agreement as he chewed a chip. The next one he grabbed he made sure to dunk in mayo, and then ketchup, wanting it soggier. He ignored the look Perrie gave him for using condiments on his chips. She was the one who clearly put them there since they were her chips.

“And the cravings,” Tim chimed in. “Can’t forget those. Worst you’ve ever experienced and sometimes you start eating the weirdest things. For my girl I was ravenous for pickled gherkins and I can’t stand them usually. Honestly I think people should just know because of all these reasons but the denial is strong.”

Chad snorted and when he spoke it was with his voice pitched high and feminine. “But we used the withdrawal method! I only let him stick it in for a second! We used a condom, I swear, and it definitely didn’t break!” His voice went back to normal. “The excuses you end up hearing to justify why they didn’t know will turn you grey, I swear.”

Louis frowned. “Well, in fairness, a lot of new birth control gets rid of your period entirely, so it’s like, if the birth control works you don’t have a period, and if it doesn’t work you don’t have a period. And a lot of the signs of early pregnancy are so similar to the lead up to a period you might think it’s just a shitty month. Bloating a very real thing after all so even the getting bigger thing can be excused away. Especially if you’re under the impression you didn’t do anything to get pregnant, since people honestly believe the withdrawal method, or whatever other weird shit they try will work.”

Tim rolled his eyes. “You’re telling me that if you found yourself throwing up every morning, noon, or night, and getting cravings for weird shit, your mind wouldn’t jump back to the last time you had sex and start doing some math?”

“I’ve never been in that situation so I wouldn’t know,” Louis said, but his mind was suddenly whirling as he registered what exactly he was eating.

Chips with mayo and ketchup. Who the fuck ate chips with mayo and ketchup? And he was still sick from the Indian food he’d eaten two weeks ago. And yeah, he hadn’t had to wear a liner to protect himself from the spotting he got once a month since he moved to London but he’d chalked that up to stress and the move. Same with the little bit of belly he was starting to sprout; it wasn’t like he was exactly eating healthy now that he didn’t have friends around constantly to berate him.

Louis took a deep breath as he grabbed his trash and stood up. “I gotta call my mum before I’m back on shift. She texted me earlier that Daisy got a role in the school play and I think she’ll still be awake this late since she worked the long shift.”

Everyone gave him a wave, except Chad who pulled him in for a quick kiss, but no one seemed to notice he was off. Because he was off. His world felt completely tilted after that conversation and the realization of what it meant.

He made his way quickly to the nurses’ station where he slipped into the supply closet without anyone noticing. It was easy to grab a pregnancy test from the shelf, hoping the hospital wouldn’t miss just one. He’d grab a pack on the way home but he needed to know now.

His heart was racing with anticipation by the time he locked himself in the employee bathroom, disposable cup in one hand and the pregnancy test in his pocket. He took a deep breath before he pissed in the cup and then set about opening the pregnancy test.

He’d done these hundreds of times since being a nurse, but never for himself. Even when he was a stupid teenager and him and Harry had fumbled without condoms through their first few months together he’d never gotten to the point where he needed to take a test. So really, when his watch went off letting him know the two minutes were up he already had a pretty good guess as to what he would see.

It still didn’t stop his heart from dropping into his stomach.

***

H, we need to meetup

Miss me already ;) sucks for you cause I’m dating someone :(

Okay first off so am I. Secondly not for that. Something serious

Oh. I’m free Wednesday night? Dinner?

Great and no. Just come to my place. I’ll text you the address

***

“Hey, I know you said no dinner but I figured I’d bring at least some leftovers from the shop. I know you can’t say no to my muffins,” Harry said waving around the bag he had which presumably had muffins in them.

Louis could feel how on edge he was as he just nodded while letting Harry into his flat. He could see Harry looking around the small flat curiously, and he let Harry take his time since he needed the time to prepare himself for what he was about to do. He’d taken a total of five tests in the past three days while waiting for this meet up but still nothing had truly prepared him for this. He had the tests tucked away in the pocket of his hoodie and he just needed the perfect time to tell Harry the news.

“You’re really fucking far away, Lou,” Harry said, filling the silence of the room with inane chatter. “It took me almost an hour to get here.”

“You’re being dramatic. It’s maybe forty-five minutes on a bad day. The commute won’t kill me and I spend most of my week at the hospital anyway.”

“How is work?” Harry asked.

“Long. Boring. My schedule is pretty great though.”

“Got the weekend shift you love?”

Louis nodded. “And the shop? How’s it going? You know people watch your shit during their breaks?”

Harry smiled so hard he dimpled. “Do you tell them you know me to get you street cred?”

“Never say the words ‘street cred’ again, oh my god. And no, I don’t because then they’ll ask me for free pastries and I don’t want to do that to you. Do you know how expensive it is to feed a hospital floor?”

“I’ve done it before. I’m well aware,” Harry said. “So. Not that catching up isn’t nice, but you said you needed to talk to me about something serious?”

Louis took a deep breath as he nodded again. He opened his mouth. Closed it. Opened it again. Reached into his pocket and then thrust the five positive tests into Harry’s chest.

“What?” Harry looked at the tests but Louis could tell it hadn’t fully registered.

Louis pushed on. “I’ve taken all of them since Sunday night. I haven’t gone to the doctor yet.”

Harry’s eyebrows shot up and he snapped his attention to Louis. “Why haven’t you gone? Have you made an appointment yet? Do you know how far along you are?”

“I told you, I just found out. I was gonna call after you and I talked. And probably like three months since you’re the dad.”

Harry looked down at Louis’ stomach, face unreadable. “I thought you said you were seeing someone.”

“I’ve only been seeing Chad for a month now.”

“And you gave me shit for not sleeping with Troy after five dates?”

Louis frowned at him. “You dated a guy named Troy? Really?”

“Dating, present tense.”

“Talk about poor taste in men and I haven’t even met the asshole.”

“He’s not an asshole. He’s sweet. But what kinda name is Chad? And why haven’t you fucked him if you’ve been together so long?”

“You know I’m picky with what goes up my arse. He wasn’t gonna get the goods until at least next month. So. Yeah. No one else has come close to my arse since you.” Harry snorted at the unintended innuendo and Louis couldn’t help but take a playful swing at him. “This is serious you dick.”

Harry snorted again. “I know it’s just, Lou, we’re gonna have a baby.”

Those words caused Louis to relax. He had known on a the most base level that Harry was going to be there with him but with Harry saying so quickly he was in a relationship… Louis had thought maybe Harry had found someone he wanted to stay with. Someone who would make him forget about Louis.

But seeing Harry now Louis realized just how silly he had been thinking that. Harry was his best friend. They were always there for each other when it counted, and this was probably the biggest moment in their lives.

“Yeah, Haz, we are.”

“I’ve been dreaming about this moment since I was thirteen,” Harry whispered as he pulled Louis into a big comforting hug.

“You’re so full of shit.”

“Okay. You’re right. Probably since I was eleven. And I definitely thought I’d be the pregnant one, but it’s okay. We’re okay.” Harry leaned back so he could look Louis in the eye. “You and I, we’re gonna do this together, and we’re gonna be the best parents to this little one as we can.”

Louis was close to tears and he blinked them away before burrowing his face in Harry’s collarbone. “I love you so much, Haz.”

“I love you too.” Harry squeezed him. “We’re gonna be okay.”

Chapter Text

“Are you sure you want to have this appointment here?” Harry asked for the third time as they settled into a room at the hospital.

“I work here so it makes sense for my care to be here. And it’s not too far away for you is it? Kinda central if you think about it.” Louis grabbed a pamphlet to read as he waited for the doctor to come in. He imagined it would be one of the residents who would take care of this first visit.

“We can always ask mum.”

“I’m not having mum drive all the way down here just to be my midwife, Harry.”

“She’d do it with pleasure you know. Anything for her boobear.”

Louis flipped Harry off just as the door opened and the doctor stepped in. Louis looked up and his whole body froze.

“Hello Styles family, I’m Dr. Dorian and I’ll be taking care-” Chad trailed off as he looked up from his chart. “Louis?”

“Chad.” Louis couldn’t take his eyes off of him. “I thought you were still in pediatrics this month?”

“I took up Cheryl’s shift since I already did my time in OBGYN. You’re pregnant?”

“You got the appointment under my name?” Harry asked.

“The baby is gonna have your last name!” Louis shot at him.

“I’m sorry, I’m very confused and this is a situation I never thought I’d experience. Who is he?” Chad pointed to Harry.

Louis heaved a sigh. “Chad, this is Harry, father of the child I’m carrying. Harry, this is Chad, my boyfriend and a resident at the hospital.”

Harry stood up and offered Chad a hand, the picture of polite. “Harry Styles. Nice to meet you. I’ve heard a lot about you.”

Chad shook his hand absently all the while staring at Louis. “Chad. Hi. I’m- I’m sorry how did you get pregnant Louis?”

“Well, when a penis ejaculates it produces sperm which fertilizes eggs-” Louis said only to get cut off by Harry saying, “I’m not sure I trust you as Louis’ doctor if you don’t understand basic sex ed.”

“Harold,” Louis said as he rubbed his temples with his fingers. “Stress levels.”

Harry shut up and immediately went to his side to rub his back. “Sorry, love. Uh, and sorry Chad. Louis and I are best friends and we slept together when he moved to London. Condom broke, we thought everything would be fine, and now we have a little oopsy baby.”

“Please don’t refer to our child as an oopsy baby. They’ll get a complexion.”

Harry’s hand drifted to Louis’ stomach to give it a little rub. “Maybe an oopsy baby but definitely wanted and loved.”

“Right,” Chad said slowly. “And when did you find this out?”

“Earlier this week. I was gonna tell you after the first trimester just to make sure everything was fine.”

“But you made an appointment here? At the hospital where both of us work.”

Louis shrugged. “I didn’t realize there was a chance you’d be the doctor giving me the check up.”

“Is this going to be a problem?” Harry asked. “We would like to make sure everything is okay.”

“No, no it’s fine. I just- do you mind if I speak to Louis alone for a second?”

Harry crossed his arms over his chest. “Anything you have to say to Lou you can say in front of me.”

Chad shot Louis a glare but Louis met it with his own. “Don’t start a pissing contest,” he swung his glare over to Harry. “Either of you. I am here to make sure our child is healthy and okay. And if either of you don’t like it you can leave.”

Harry leveled with him. “You know I am never leaving you. And listen, Chad, I’m sorry this is a how you found out. I’m sure it’s a huge shock. If it makes you feel any better I have my own boyfriend who needs to be told about this, but Louis and I have both agreed to put our child first so we went ahead and made this appointment without consulting either you because we know he’s almost out of his first trimester and we want to make sure everything is going smoothly. If you can’t handle this then please leave and get a doctor who can.”

Chad was quiet for a minute and Louis honestly expected him to walk out. To his surprise he nodded and took a seat in a chair. “Alright, yes. So Louis, you’re pregnant. Do you know when your last menstrual period was?”

“Sometime around Valentine’s day I think. I can’t really remember but Harry and I had sex March first when I moved into my flat and I haven’t had sex with anyone before or since.”

“Okay.” Chad said before launching into the spiel Louis was too familiar with. He covered what Louis should expect with a carrier pregnancy, including the common complications. He then moved onto information about what he was going to do today, and what Louis had to look forward to with future appointments.

“You don’t have to stay for this part,” Chad said to Harry as he began the physical.

“Nothing I haven’t seen before,” Harry said with an easy grin and Louis flipped him off.

“You’re such an arse.”

Harry winked at him. “I’d make a joke about your bum but that’s too easy.”

“Not as easy as you are.”

“Heeeey,” Harry said. “I’m not easy.”

“What’d you tell me your qualifier for a second date was? Nice eyes and proper grammar?”

“That’s not easy. Do you know how hard it is to find someone with good grammar?”

Louis stuck his tongue out at Harry and he retaliated by reaching out for it. He didn’t manage to grab it so Louis took a chance to snap his teeth playfully.

“Louis!” Chad snapped. “I need you stand up so I can take your height and weight!”

Louis was brought back to reality. He was in front of his boyfriend. He was in the middle of his first antenatal appointment. He needed to focus. “Right sorry.” He glanced at Harry and muttered, “I’m not the one who was gagging to get rimmed on our first date. You’re easy.”

“Everyone loves rimming!” Harry screeched with a laugh.

Louis laughed as well as he stood up to let Chad continue the exam.

Chad was tense throughout it, and Louis supposed he couldn’t blame him. He seemed to wince every time Harry spoke, which was a lot. Harry had a ton of questions, wanting to make sure he was armed with all the knowledge in the world to help Louis and know what to expect. Eventually Louis had to remind him he was a nurse.

“The first thing you told me when you got your license was I was never to let you diagnose yourself,” Harry reminded him.

“He’s technically not allowed to diagnose anyway. He’s not a doctor,” Chad said. It was the first time he had interjected in their banter.

Harry gave him a weird look. “He’s been a nurse since he was twenty-three. He has the exact same knowledge as a doctor.”

“Not exactly,” Chad said, but Harry continued on.

“On top of the fact he’s been interning and studying since he was sixteen. He has a decade of learning and what, you’re just a resident? Louis will always know more than you or any doctor that graduated your year.”

Louis couldn’t help but smile. Harry was so protective of nurses and the lack of respect they got.

He saw Chad’s jaw tightened but all he said was, “I think that finished up this appointment. We’ll need to schedule you a scan in the next week or so, since you’re already so far along. I’m surprised you didn’t include it in this appointment.”

Louis shrugged. “Didn’t have enough influence to get it scheduled today. I think we managed to get it for next Tuesday.”

“You’re going with him?” Chad asked, looking at Harry.

Harry nodded. “Wouldn’t miss it for the world. I’m lucky I own the bakery so I can take off time as need be. I’ve never abused that privilege before but now seems like a good time to start. Especially once our baby is born.”

Louis beamed at him. “We still haven’t gone over all those details yet, Haz.”

“When we’re further along we need to talk about how much work you’ll be doing. I don’t know how long you’ll be able to do twelve hour days.”

“I’ll be fine. Mum did it all the time.”

“Okay, well I don’t know how long I’ll be okay with you doing twelve hour days. I’m just worried.”

“That’s not something you have to worry about now,” Chad said, interrupting them. “But I do think that concludes this appointment. As long as you don’t have any other questions for me.”

“No, I think we’re good,” Harry said, looking at Louis for confirmation.

Louis nodded. “Yeah. Thanks again.”

“It’s my job,” Chad said with a smile. It looked strained and Louis’ lips tugged downward.

Harry checked his phone as he stood up. “I guess I have time to head into work, unless you need anything Lou?”

“Nah, I’m gonna go to the oncall room and rest before my shift. Doesn’t make sense to go home and then come back here.”

“You can crash at my place. I think it’s closer than yours,” Harry offered.

“It really isn’t, Haz, but thanks for the offer.” Chad coughed and Louis looked at him. “Do you want to walk out with us?”

Chad gave a little half shrug but he followed the two of them as they walked out of the exam room. They stopped right as they got to the front entrance and Harry towards to Louis.

“I’ll probably have to tell Troy soon. Maybe I should do it this weekend?”

Louis gave him a sympathetic look. “Good luck. You think he’ll be okay?”

“Well it can’t be worse than how your boyfriend found out so I shouldn’t complain.” He gave Louis a quick kiss on the cheek. “Love you, Lou. I’ll see you on Tuesday. We can facetime our mums when we get out of the appointment. Tell them the good news.”

Louis smiled. “Sounds like a plan. Text me over the weekend, alright?”

“You too. If you need anything just let me know.”

They hugged once more, Harry squeezing tightly as Louis said, “I love you. Thanks for being so great.” Harry gave Chad a wave before he headed towards the door. Louis watched him until he disappeared and then he turned to Chad with a smile. It was met with a serious look. “Chad, I’m so sorry about that. I really didn’t think--”

“Save it, Louis. I realize you didn’t mean to hurt me. And I also realize you didn’t cheat on me. This is just shitty timing.” He let out a ragged sigh. “You two must have had an amicable breakup.”

“We haven’t dated for years,” Louis said. “And I know what you’re trying to imply with that and I don’t fucking appreciate it.” He put his hands on his hips and he squared off with Chad. “Harry is my best friend. We’ve known each other since we were kids. Yes, he was also my first boyfriend but I’m dating you now and he’s seeing someone else. That’s reality, not whatever you’re imagining.”

Chad didn’t cower under his gaze. Instead he drew himself up to his full height and looked down on Louis. “Excuse me for needing some reassurance when the guy I’m seeing goes behind my back to make a doctor’s appointment because he got knocked up by his ex who he’s still friendly enough with to kiss and hug and tell he’s in love with when you haven’t even said those words to me yet.”

“Really? You’re really going to bring up the fact I haven’t said I love you when we’ve only been dating for a month?”

“Two months next week, Louis.”

“That’s way too soon to honestly tell someone you love them, and forgive me for trying to be sincere when I say it.”

That seemed to take the wind out of Chad’s sails and he deflated a bit. “You’re just a great guy Louis but this is such a surprise and I didn’t sign up for this.”

“I’m not asking a single fucking thing from you. If you didn’t sign up for this you can leave. There’s zero pressure for you to stay.”

“What? No, Louis, I wasn’t saying-”

“Were you? You know what? Fuck this. I’m going and resting before my shift. You know how to get in contact with me once you get your head on straight. If you want to talk, fine. If you don’t I can and will ignore you a hundred times harder than you have ever been before. But if you dare spread one lie about me I will ruin you and your career.” Louis heard Chad call after him as he stormed off but he didn’t care.

***

Chad approached him at his locker as he was changing into his scrubs for his shift. Louis was grouchy in the way that only came from sleeping in an oncall room left a nurse but he took the offered coffee Chad had.

“Listen, I don’t want to break up.”

“Good for you. I had no intention on breaking up with you either until you decided to be a dick.”

“Don’t you see it from my perspective?”

“No. I did nothing wrong. I didn’t even lie to you.”

Chad let out a huff. “Okay. Let me try and explain. A guy I met, who I really like, is pregnant with his ex’s baby. His ex, who is his best friend. Who he banters with and has this whole history with and they’re planning on co-parenting and I wasn’t even considered.”

“You weren’t considered cause it’s not your fucking business what I do. It’s wasn’t even Harry’s business, but he’s a good person who would never abandon his child so of course he stepped up.”

“Are you saying I’m not a good person?”

“How did you even get that from what I said? You know what, fuck you, I have to go on shift.” Louis tried to shove past him but Chad grabbed his bicep. Louis glared at him. “If you don’t let go of me right this second-”

“Louis. This isn’t how I wanted this to go. I didn’t want to talk about Harry or get upset. I’d just wanted to say I still want to try a relationship. I do like you. And I’ll try to help in ways I can. I’m not saying I’ll be a second dad-”

Louis laughed. “Yeah no. You are not going to be the second dad and I definitely wasn’t asking.”

“Can you not interrupt and just hear what I’m saying? I want to still try!”

“Fine!” Louis said, finally ripping his bicep away from Chad’s grip. “We can try. I don’t fucking care. I’m going on shift. I’ll text you when I get off.”

Chad took a step forward, carefully, as if he was waiting for Louis to step back. When Louis didn’t Chad cupped his chin and gave him a soft kiss. “Have a good shift. If you still have nausea I can get you some stuff to help it. I’ll see tomorrow.” He gave Louis another kiss before stepping away.

***

Troy wants to meet you.

Awkward. Why?

Meet my baby momma probably. I suggested a double date. We can assure the boyfriends everything is fine between us and what our plans are.

You’re so diplomatic Harry Styles. I don’t know when we’d be able to do a double date. It would probably have to be like a Monday night.

That’s fine. We have nine months after all!

More like six!

I’ll figure out when Troy is free and we’ll plan this?

Sure thing.

So…. How’s my baby doing?

I think I’m finally seeing a bump! It’s small and looks kinda like a food baby but it’s not! It’s our baby!

I’ll need to put my face against it when I see you on Tuesday!!!

That is quite possibly the weirdest sentence you have ever sent me. And that’s saying something considering how you drunk text.

You love me.

God help me.

***

“Should we call your mum first or my mum first?” Harry asked as they waited for the ultrasound technician to come in.

Louis was laid back on the examining table, shirt pulled up so he could rub his tiny bump. “Your mum. She’ll be able to tell us what my mum is doing so we can call her.”

Harry nodded in agreement. “I was thinking, I know it’s early to talk about custody and what not, but we’d want a nursery in both flats I’d imagine.”

“Yeah, definitely. I only have the one bedroom right now so I think the kid will sleep in my room but you have a spare right?”

“Yup,” Harry said turning his phone over so Louis could see what he was looking at. “I was thinking of decorations already.”

Louis couldn’t help but smile. “It’s early, Haz.”

“I know, but Lou, babies! Our babies! It’s so exciting and I want it to be perfect. I’ll try to hold off until we find out the sex-”

“Why? You’re gonna end up doing an elephant theme, cause I know you, and elephants are fit for either sex.”

“You’re absolutely right,” Harry said just as the ultrasound technician came in.

She was a portly woman who smiled at both of them as she congratulated them before introducing herself as Dr. Kelso. She proceeded to go over what she’d be doing with the scan, and what they would be checking for. Harry only had a few questions this time, which Dr. Kelso answered easily.

“Now, bladder is full?” She said as she took a seat and turned the machine on.

“About to burst if I’m honest,” Louis said while she smeared the gel on his pelvis.

“Perfect. This’ll only take about twenty minutes so you’ll be able to relieve yourself soon.”

Louis grimaced because with the weight of the wand on his pelvis he knew these next twenty minutes would be hell but he tried not to focus on it.

She began the scan, running the wand over his pelvis. He couldn’t see the screen but it was for the best. He knew how to read them and seeing it would just stress him out. She kept relatively quiet as she looked at his uterus, doing her checks that everything looked normal. Finally she spoke as she turned the screen around for them to see.

“Everything is looking good so far. I’m about ready to do the big reveal so you guys can see your baby.” She moved the wand and Louis saw the tiny blob that represented his baby. “There’s baby number one,” she said, hovering the wand over one part of Louis’ uterus, “and it looks like, yup, there’s baby number two! Congratulations. It looks like you’re having twins.”

Louis’ heart started pounding in joy and he swung his head over to look at Harry. Harry was staring at the screen in awe, jaw hanging down. Louis reached over and grabbed his hand.

“Love?”

Harry squeezed his hand. “Twins, Lou. We’re having twins.”

“Just like we always imagined,” Louis said in a quiet voice.

Harry finally looked at him, pulling his hand up to his mouth so he could kiss his knuckles. “I always wanted to have twins with you.”

“Me too,” Louis said.

“And it’s happening.”

“It’s happening,” Louis repeated.

“I’m so incredibly happy. Twins. We’re gonna have two little babies!”

Dr. Kelso moved the wand. “Everything looks good, and it doesn’t look like from this scan they’re sharing a placenta so that’s good. It means there won’t be as many complications, though obviously there will still be risks. Especially in a carrier.”

Louis knew all about the risks twins caused him as a carrier. It had been a source of fear since his teenage years, even though like Harry he had dreamed of having twins as well. (Phoebe and Daisy were a huge influence on their desire for twins, and then his mum had had Doris and Ernest and it had just solidified it for them)

The rest of the scan went easily and quickly. Dr. Kelso asked them if they had any questions, and she urged them to speak with their midwife about twin deliveries and the problems that could arise. Louis left the exam on cloud nine, hand in hand with Harry.

“Louis?”

He looked up and smiled at Perrie who was staring at him. “Hey, Pezza. What’s up?”

“Nothing much, what are you doing here?”

Louis looked around and realized it probably was weird he was in the maternity ward in his street clothes. He beckoned Perrie closer. “Don’t tell anyone because I don’t want it to be a big thing, but I’m pregnant! We just got the scan done. Two healthy babies!”

Perrie’s eyes went wide and she shot a glance at Harry. “We as in? You and Chad? Or?”

Louis blinked, surprised at her question for a moment before he realized. “Oh! You don’t know Harry. No. Not Chad. This is Harry. Harry’s my best friend.” Harry gave a wave. “Harry’s the father.”

“Does Chad...know?” Perrie asked.

“Yeah, he ended up being assigned to my first visit so that’s how he found out.”

“Yikes,” Perrie said. “But everything’s okay? You two seemed alright this weekend.”

“We’re making it work yeah. But look, we were gonna go call our mums and let them know the big news.”

“Of course! Don’t let me stop you,” she said opening her arms for a hug. “Congratulations! I’m so happy for you! And you too, Harry. Even though we just met.”

“You’ll be seeing me around I’m sure,” Harry said. “I plan on being very involved with everything.”

She nodded with a smile on. “That’s great. Seriously. I’m glad you two seem to have it all worked out. Louis, I’ll see you Friday.”

“See you,” Louis said as he tugged on Harry’s hand to lead him out of the hospital so they could call their mums.

They found an empty bench outside and Harry pulled out his phone so he could facetime his mum.

“Cuddle up to me so we’re both in the frame,” Harry said as he clicked FaceTime and held out his phone so they’d both be in the frame.

Louis settled against his chest, resting his head on Harry’s shoulder as the phone rang and then connected. Anne’s face popped up on the screen and it was dark and grainy for a moment before both phones settled into the connection.

“Hey baby is there a reason you're calling-- Louis!!” Anne finally recognized him and she let out a soft squeal of joy at seeing him. “It's my other baby! How are you? How is work? How are you finding London?”

Louis laughed. “I'm good, work’s good, and what I've seen of London I like. I've been busy working though.”

“Have you managed to get to Harry’s shop yet? Isn't it the cutest?”

Louis glanced at Harry and smiled a little at the flush of embarrassment that was staining his cheeks. “Not yet. He did bring me some leftover pastries the other day though. As delicious as I remember them to be.”

“He's such a good baker isn't he?”

“Thanks mum,” Harry said as he put his face next to Louis’. “Glad to know I have your approval.”

“Of course! I'm your biggest fan! So not that this phone call isn't wildly appreciated, but is there a reason you two are calling like this?”

Harry and Louis shared a look, both smiling faintly before nodding in agreement.

Harry said, “we are actually calling cause we have news.” Louis could see the way Anne’s face changed at that statement. She leaned forward, all anticipation. “This may come as a surprise but Louis and I, we’re gonna be-” he cut himself off, obviously not wanting to spoil both surprises in one go. “Louis’ pregnant mum. We’re gonna parents.”

Anne slapped a hand over her mouth in delight. “Pregnant?” She said. “You're pregnant?!”

Louis nodded grinning. “We just got out of the scan. Thirteen weeks.”

“You two didn't waste anytime once you got back together,” she said with a gentle smile.

Harry laughed. “Yeah it wasn't exactly planned but we’re so happy. I couldn't think of a better person to be the mother of my children.”

“Except yourself,” Louis teased.

“Well yes. But one step at a time.”

“More like one child at a time,” Anne said easily.

“Oh. That's the other thing, mum,” Harry said. “We’re having twins.”

Anne's jaw dropped. “Twins! Congratulations! That'll be a handful I'm sure. We’ll need to talk about either me or Jay coming down to help out when their born. Oh have you told her yet?”

“No we called you first cause we thought you'd be able to let us know her schedule.”

“I think she's off today. Oh she's going to be thrilled. Tell her to text me when she gets off the phone with you because I want to meet up so we can start planning for everything.”

“Will do, mum,” Louis said. “We love you.”

“I love you both so much. And I'm so incredibly happy for you.”

“Thank you. We’re happy too.”

Harry said his goodbyes as well and hung up the phone. “Should we call our other mum from your phone?”

“Yeah lemme get it out.” Louis dug out his phone and they got back into position with Harry holding it.

His mum picked up on the fourth ring and when the screen came in focus all Louis could see was the ceiling.

“Mum?”

“Hey boo, what's up?”

“Uh, can you look at the screen?” Louis asked as Harry buried a giggle in his throat.

The screen shook as his mum picked up the phone and Louis was greeted with an image of his mother in a face mask and her hair up in curlers. “Don't say anything. Lottie is on a warpath studying for her final. I've got my nails done up and it took an hour of negotiation to only let her curl my hair and not dye it.”

Louis mimed zipping his lips. “So Harry and I are calling cause we have news.”

His mum seemed to recognize then that Harry was also in the picture and she lit up. “Harry! How are you, my love?”

“I'm good, mum. Working, baking, youtubing.”

His mum laughed. “I know all about your youtubing. The girls are obsessed. They watch your new uploads every week and then my kitchen is a mess as they recreate whatever it is you're showing off that week. It's really lovely.”

Harry laughed. “Well that's what they're supposed to do! I encourage home baking that's why I make the videos.”

“Trouble. You're such trouble. You know me and your mum always thought you were the good one and Louis was the one influencing you but I see now it was the other way around.”

“Heeeey,” Harry said. “We’re both equally mischievous, thanks mum.”

She laughed. “Fine. I will give you that.”

“So mum,” Louis said as they settled into an easy silence, “we actually called because we have news.”

Just like with Anne, his mum perked up and leaned forward, all attention on them. “Yes, I’m listening.”

Louis couldn’t keep the smile off his face. “I’m pregnant. Thirteen weeks.”

The phone shook as his mum jumped up and cheered. There was suddenly pandemonium on her line as it seemed Lottie came rushing in, demanding to know why she was messing up her curlers.

“Louis and Harry are having a baby!” He heard his mum tell Lottie. “Oh wait,” the phone refocused on her as she tried to look at them while simultaneously having Lottie try and take the phone from her. “I shouldn’t have told her that.”

Louis and Harry were both laughing as Lottie squished her face into the screen beside her mum, apparently not noticing some of the face mask was rubbing off on her. “Like hell she shouldn’t have. Oh my god you two are having a kid! I’m gonna be an auntie?!”

“Actually,” Louis said, “we’re having two kids.”

This led to another round of screeching and cheering from Lottie and his mum and Louis couldn’t help but laugh. Harry joined him and the two of them watched as it took his mum and Lottie a few minutes to calm down enough.

“Tell us everything you know,” his mum said. “Do you have a midwife? Do you need me to do anything? I will come down there immediately if you need.”

“Mum, it’s fine,” Louis said just as Harry answered, “I told him that but he didn’t want to bother you.”

Louis elbowed Harry gently. “Mum. It’s fine. Really. I work in a very good hospital. I just met with my doctor today, and we also got the scan. Everything is looking good so far. My next appointment is in a couple weeks.”

“Harry’s taking care of you, right?”

“He better be,” Lottie interjected.

Harry let out an overexaggerated offended gasp. “Of course I am! But you know Louis, he’s so independent. I do what I can.”

They continued to talk for a few more minutes. Louis filled his mum in on the more technical points of his pregnancy so far, and then they were saying goodbye. They stayed sat on the bench, soaking up each other’s presence. Harry’s hand drifted to Louis’ tummy and he gave it a gentle rub as he kissed his temple.

“I love you.”

“I love you too,” Louis said. “I’m so happy our mums aren’t mad at us.”

“Think they’re more excited than we are.”

“Not possible. I’m thrilled.”

Harry laughed softly and kissed his temple again. “Me too.”

***

Louis was never letting Harry pick restaurants ever again. They were meeting up for their double date in a tiny bistro in Harry’s neighborhood and Louis was not impressed so far. It looked like a hole in the wall.

“Are you sure this is the right place?” Chad asked, looking around. The street they were on wasn’t really busy but they were standing in front of this restaurant that was clearly named the place Harry had given him.

“Must be,” Louis said.

Chad and he were definitely going through a rough patch. He could tell Chad was trying to get past everything and be supportive but he was becoming increasingly short with Louis every time they were together. Louis had slept over his flat earlier this week, right before his sixteen week appointment, and they’d gotten into a terrible fight when he’d texted Harry after dinner to give him updates on how he was feeling. They’d made up, and Chad had apologized when Louis had grabbed his stuff and tried to storm out of the flat, but things were still tense. Louis was hoping this double date would go a long way to helping Chad become used to the idea that Louis and Harry were just friends. He’d see Harry had his own boyfriend he was besotted with and that would ease off the jealousy Chad was feeling.

“Hello!” Harry called and Louis looked down the street to see Harry approaching with another man beside him.

Louis took in the man first. Troy. He was shorter than Harry, dressed in a business suit and walking confidently. The two of them weren’t holding hands but they were walking close enough together you could tell they were at least acquainted. It wasn’t until they got closer Louis was able to start taking in what Troy looked like. He had brown hair and a friendly face it seemed. He wasn’t exactly smiling though so it was hard to tell.

“He looks like you,” Chad said, voice low.

Louis squinted his eyes to try and see what Chad was seeing. “I do not look like that.”

“No, you’re a lot more attractive,” Chad admitted. “But he’s definitely a low budget version of you.”

Chad finished talking just as Harry and Troy stopped in front of them. Now that they were up close to each other Louis could kind of see what Chad meant. Troy’s face was a vague echo of his own, probably made more obvious by two or three high alcohol content drinks.

Louis gave him a little wave before turning his attention to Harry. Seeing them up close he took back what he’d thought about them looking like they were together. Whereas Troy was dressed for business, Harry was wearing a sheer black shirt and tight black skinny jeans complimented by shiny pink boots. Troy and him couldn’t look more different if they tried.

“Do you dress intentionally like a manwhore now?” Louis asked, opening his arms up for a hug from Harry.

He heard someone bite off a snort as Harry laughed. “I’m not dressed like a manwhore. This is just what I wear when I want to look nice.” Harry gave him a kiss on the cheek before pulling back just enough to have space in between their bodies.

He looked Harry up and down, taking in the sheer shirt he was wearing in detail. He could clearly see Harry’s tattoos and he smiled as he reached up and traced over both swallows with his finger tip. He looked up at Harry through his eyelashes, making sure his attention was fully on him before he dipped his finger lower and pinched Harry’s nipple. Hard.

Harry winced and smacked his hand away. “Ow, Lou. Why are you so mean?”

“Don’t wear a sheer shirt. It’s just asking to have your nipples pinched.” He looked over at Troy. “I don’t know how you take him anywhere. He was horrible enough before he could afford this kind of fashion.”

“I don’t mind how he dresses,” Troy said. The way he said it had Louis narrowing his eyes. He sounded so...pompous and as if he were lecturing Louis. Almost as if he thought he was better for not teasing Harry about his fashion.

“Well aren’t you just supportive?” Louis asked with a raised eyebrow before swinging his focus back to Harry and giving him a look he hoped fully conveyed his level of really, Haz.

Harry laughed and pulled away to give Troy a hug. “You know I wouldn’t stand for anything less, Lou. So Troy, this is Louis. And that is Chad, Louis’ boyfriend. They both work at Evelina Hospital. And Troy does marketing for a startup firm in Soho, where I have my bakery. And now we’re all officially acquainted! Yay!”

Chad held out his hand to shake Troy’s hand and Louis watched as they said their hellos.

“Pleasure to meet you,” Chad said.

Once they had said their hellos Harry ushered everyone inside. He greeted the host, a man with a thick French accent, with cheek kisses and it took all of Louis’ strength not to immediately fall into the natural teasing he had with Harry. He’d wait until they were seated.

He grabbed the seat next to Harry and across from Chad so that way when Harry sat down it wasn’t awkward to grab him and pull him close so he could whisper in his ear, “please for the love of fuck tell me you did not arrange this date at one of your ex-boyfriend’s restaurants.”

Harry laughed, drawing looks from Chad and Troy. He shifted so he could whisper back in Louis’ ear. “What are we counting as an ex-boyfriend?”

“Harry, there is enough combustible energy here if the host comes over and gives you a lap dance I’m not sure any of us will survive.”

This drew out another loud laugh. “No, no I promise. Jacques is just French and gay. And I only slept with Sebastien, the head chef, once because we were really drunk. He’s married now. It’s fine. I was best man at his wedding.”

“You’re best man at everyone’s wedding. Does he have kids yet? Are you godfather?”

“No. Oh! That reminds me,” Harry pulled away to whip out his phone. “Look at James’ boy!”

Louis dutifully watched the video of their friend’s James’ son trying ice cream for the first time, as if he hadn’t loved it on Facebook. “God, remember the first time Doris and Ernie tried ice cream?”

“Yeah. They were so cute. God, I haven’t seen them for two years, they probably don’t even remember me. This is tragic.”

“Don’t worry, love. You’ll have the rest of your life to make memories with them. And hey, you have all the other girls eternal love and devotion.”

“This is true,” Harry said, looking contemplative.

“Do you have a lot of siblings then, Louis?” Louis looked over at Troy, remembering it wasn’t just him and Harry sitting here.

“Uh, yes. I’ve got five sisters and a brother. The youngest are five and I’m the oldest.”

“Wow, your mum must have been busy.”

Louis’ eyes narrowed but before he could say anything Harry spoke up. “That’s incredibly rude.”

Troy held up his hands. “I didn’t mean anything by it. It was just meant to be banter.”

“Banter about my mum is one way to get yourself punched,” Louis said.

“You just seemed like a banter kinda guy, what with the whole,” Troy made a gesture in between Harry and Louis, “laughing you two were doing. And the comments about Harry’s outfits before.”

“There’s a difference between me and Harry bantering when I’ve known him since he was in nappies and you who I just met, thanks.”

The silence that overtook the table was frosty but Louis didn’t care. He grabbed his menu and scanned it to see what he wanted to eat. Harry had picked somewhere healthy of course, probably conscious of Louis’ needs for balanced meals. So even though he was really craving fried chicken and chips, that wasn’t an option. Instead he settled for a salad and some grilled chicken.

The waitress came around, took their orders, and left them with some bread on the table. Once she was gone Harry spearheaded the light-hearted conversation. He was excellent at that, peppering Chad with easy questions about work and his life, and supplying nudges for Troy to share stuff about himself. He managed to get the two of them in a semi-consistent conversation about football and once he’d done that he turned his attention back to Louis.

“Sorry about Troy,” he said, voice low so it wouldn’t disturb the tentative peace.

Louis shrugged. “It’s alright. I coulda taken him.”

“Not with that belly you couldn’t,” Harry said, gently poking the tummy that was showing through Louis’ button-up shirt. If the scan hadn’t shown it the belly was definite proof there were two babies in there.

“Mum sent me a link to pregnancy yoga classes. I think I’m gonna pick up a Tuesday night class. Dads are welcome to join along.”

Harry smiled at him. “That sounds great. I should be able to do Tuesdays. What time are they?”

“Think it was 6:30. I’ll need to double check. The center also offers workshops on breastfeeding and nappie changing and that kinda stuff.”

“We’re kinda old hats at nappie changing,” Harry pointed out.

“Yeah but it would be a good way to meet other parents you know? Make baby contacts.”

“Do you really want to do that?”

Louis made a face. “If we were back in Manchester maybe not cause we’d have our support system in place, but down here in London we don’t really have that many people. There’s what? Lou that you know, but Lux is like ten now, so it’s not exactly the same. A couple of my colleagues are mums but not currently pregnant either.”

“I suppose you’re right. You do deserve some pregnant friends,” Harry said, nudging Louis playfully.

Harry waited until the food came out to switch the conversation to the serious topic this dinner was actually about. He was nice enough to wait until after Louis returned from the toilet so Louis didn’t have to sit through it with a full bladder.

“So, as you both know, Louis and I are expecting twins. He’s almost eighteen weeks along now, which, wow it’s been over a month and a half since we found out.” He looked away from Troy and Chad to give Louis a smile as he reached out and grabbed his hand under the table.. “It’s passed by so quickly. But, umm, this is also the first time we’ve gotten the chance to meet up, and I realize it’s been way too long before we managed to do this. I just wanted to kinda clear the air and make sure everyone was on the same page.” He looked from Troy to Chad, waiting to see if they had anything to say. When they didn't Harry continued. “I'm sure Louis has mentioned this to you Chad but we've both agreed our kids will come first. Any decision we make will be in full benefit of our children’s future and we both understand that means there might be personal sacrifice on our ends for it, but we've agreed to make them. We've also hammered out a loose custody agreement which is essentially joint custody. Our intention when the children are born is to spend as much time with them as possible. This means there's a very good chance we’ll be living together temporarily, maybe even the first year. We still need to go over all those details of course but those are the big ideas we’re focused on. I'm unsure of the exact nature of your and Louis’ relationship, Chad, like where you two fall in commitment and plans to take things to the next level but I just want you aware there's a chance we might be roommates in the next couple months.”

Both Chad and Troy nodded.

Louis spoke next. “We understand the next couple years of our lives could be a little chaotic and we just want to make sure you both are aware of that too. But we also wanted you to not have unnecessary worries about the state of our own relationship. We’re best friends, and we have been for our whole lives. Sometimes that can be misleading because of how we act but as I’ve told Chad, I'm with him. Not with Harry. And I don't want anyone’s feelings to get hurt.”

He could see just how awkward this was for both of them: Troy refused to look him in the eye and Chad was stabbing the ribeye he’d gotten.

“That's pretty much it,” Harry said. “If you guys have anything to say just um, let us know. We want this to be as smooth as possible.”

“As low stress as possible,” Louis agreed.

Troy and Chad both nodded their agreement. The air around the table was still so heavy and Louis had no idea how to fix it. He went back to his healthy chicken, taking bite after bite of it in an attempt to get through the rest of the dinner. It hadn't been as awful as it could have been but Louis really wanted it to be over soon all the same.

“I like your wrist tattoo,” Chad said.

Louis looked up to see what he was talking about and frowned when he saw Chad pointing to Harry’s wrist with his fork. Harry looked down at where the anchor was. Louis saw him fight the smile that came to his lips as he nodded and held out his hand so Chad could look at it. “Thanks. It was my third serious piece.”

“You got others hiding under there?”

“Yup,” Harry said. “Asides from the birds up here,” he pointed to his chest, “I also have a ship, a rose, and a heart. Those are my big pieces. Haven’t really gotten any since moving to London minus a couple of really dumb tiny ones.”

“That’s interesting. Lou, what tattoos did you have again?” Chad asked, voice light and neutral. Except. Louis knew it was anything but. That question, mixed with the use of the name Lou, and Chad’s voice meant he’d figured it out.

It wasn’t like they’d gotten the tattoos in an attempt to be subtle though.

He could tell Troy didn’t seem to realize where this was going just yet, but Harry tensed beside him.

“Oh,” Louis finally managed to say after taking a sip of water. “I’ve just got a couple really. Got a stag on my bicep, a dagger, an arrow. I got a rope on my wrist,” he jiggled his wrist, the one unfortunately lined up right next to Harry’s with how they were sitting. “And I got a compass.”

“Wow,” Chad said nodding. “It seems like you two have a lot of the same themes going on with your tattoos.”

The silence over the table was deafening as it seemed Troy was finally catching up to what Chad was getting at. He narrowed his eyes at Louis’ wrist as if maybe he could set it on fire with just a look. For the first time ever Louis wanted to tuck his wrist away so no one could see it.

“Well, we got them at the same time,” Harry finally said and he sounded almost nonchalant even though his hunched defensive posture told Louis he was anything but.

Chad’s fist suddenly tightened and Louis braced himself for some sort of blow up. It had been coming for weeks now that he thought about it. Chad had clearly just been waiting for a reason why he could start a fight with Harry and now it had presented himself.

“So you guys got couple tattoos. That must have been awkward as hell once you broke up,” Troy said. “At least they sorta work alone and you guys didn’t get each other’s name or something. My best friend did that with his girlfriend of six months.”

Just hearing that seemed to cut down on the tension and Louis saw the fight drain out of Chad’s body.

“No, no nineteen old me was smarter than getting names on my body,” Harry agreed, but he didn't comment on the other part. Louis understood why since the birds and his stag and all the other tattoos were just as bad as names. They were a brand both of them wore reminding them that at some point they belonged solely to each other and never wanted to be with anyone else. That no one else would ever be able to take their place.

Everyone seemed to relax, or at least, Harry did. Louis could tell Chad was still silently seething, waiting for the chance to pounce.

The waitress came and took away their empty plates and Louis was just happy to be in the clear of Chad’s inevitable blow up. He'd go home alone tonight and have a couple days to recover from this.

“For the happy couple, compliments of our chef,” the waitress said, setting down a plate with a decadent looking mini chocolate cake on it. She winked at Harry and Louis. “Sebastien says congratulations on the baby. He said he saw your boyfriend’s bump when he went to the bathroom and put two and two together based on what you’d told him when you made the reservation.”

Harry lit up. “Make sure to tell him thank you.”

Louis gave Harry a look as the waitress nodded and left. “What in the hell did you tell Sebastien when you made the reservation?”

“I told him we were celebrating big news.”

“What if I was just fat, huh? My bump isn’t that big.”

Harry’s eyes dropped to his stomach and then he looked back up at Louis. “Our definition is big is clearly different. And you aren’t exactly trying to hide it. Your shirt accentuates your bump quite nicely. Besides! Free cake.” He used the fork to pick up a bite and feed it to Louis. “Here, you two can have some too,” he said to Troy and Chad.

Chad stood up. “I need to go. Here. This should cover my part of dinner,” he said as he through a few notes onto the table.

Louis stared for a moment and then pushed back his seat to get out of his chair so he could follow after Chad and ask him what the fuck he thought he was doing. Harry put a hand on his shoulder and stopped him.

“I'll go after him,” Harry said, face determined.

And then he left, leaving Louis facing Troy. Troy who had spoken all of five sentences in his direction all night. Troy who was giving him a look of pity and disdain all wrapped in one. Louis couldn't take it and he got up from the table and headed towards the front of the restaurant where Jacques the host was staring out the window like he was watching his favorite soap.

“Do you not even realize how completely fucked up this whole thing is?” Chad was screaming at Harry. “The fact that you're sitting there feeding my boyfriend and making people assume you two are dating when that's not the case? You couldn't even be fucked to correct the waitress when she overstepped.”

“Don't you realize you're making a bigger deal out of this than it needs to be.”

“You both are fucking branded for each other. I know Louis’ tattoos and not only do a lot of them match up to yours in theme but you two placed them on your bodies intentionally to match up. There's no way anyone could compete with that shit and the fact both of you are sitting there and trying to tell us that we should, is bullshit.” And with that he stormed off.

Louis let out a sigh as Harry just watched Troy go and he pushed open the door. The noise of the door opening caught Harry’s attention and he held up an arm as an invitation for Louis to cuddle.

“You sure know how to pick a serious winner, Lou.”

“I had no intentions of marrying the guy,” Louis said as he snuggled into Harry’s side. “He’s been picking fights for weeks to be honest. I knew this was coming I was just too lazy to bother. Every time I tried to end it he freaked out and didn't want to.”

Harry snorted as he walked them back into the restaurant. Jacques scurried away from the window and tried to look busy. “You're quite the catch. Don't blame him in the least for trying to hold on as much as possible.”

“Ah well,” Louis said. “As long as he doesn't cause problems at work I can continue to ignore him. It's fine.”

Harry sat him down at the table where Troy still was. He apparently had had no desire to watch Chad’s public meltdown which was funny to Louis because most people would.

“Hey babe,” Harry said and Louis looked up only to realize he was talking to Troy. “I'm gonna pay and then take Louis home. I'll see you tomorrow okay?”

Troy stood up and Louis looked down when he saw they were going to kiss. He waited until Troy was gone before he looked up at Harry.

“Let's get you some cuddles, okay, love,” Harry said as he pulled out his wallet.

Chapter Text

Louis was more than happy to ignore Chad at work. Chad, however, did not seem to actually want to ignore him despite his dramatics. He kept trying to talk to Louis, pretending everything was okay. Louis was beginning to feel drained from his ever growing babies and the changes they were making to his body and as such didn't have the energy to put up a fight when Chad was being friendly. Instead he was polite but firm and never went out of his way to spend time with Chad despite his insistence.

This proved harder to do when Louis had just gotten off a hellish fourteen hour shift and he walked into the locker room to see Chad sitting there. He was dressed in street clothes. He had to be waiting for him. Louis wished he could stomp over to his locker by at this point his belly was getting intrusive. It was like he was carrying a football under his shirt, except the football felt like it weighed ten pounds, which didn’t sound like a lot until you were the one holding it up with your back muscles.

Louis made his way to his locker and began to change. He focused on the fact he had to get dressed because he was scheduled for his twenty week scan in twenty minutes and he needed to grab something resembling a healthy breakfast or Harry would frown at him. Frown and fret was Harry’s default since Louis had stayed over his flat. He had been concerned about Louis beforehand of course, but apparently given an inch in being able to take care of Louis and Harry took a whole mile, He had started working his way into every part of Louis’ care he could fill and Louis was finding he didn’t want to stop him.

He was just pulling on his frock when Chad coughed behind him, trying to get his attention. Louis closed his eyes and counted to ten before asking, “yes, Chad?”

“You have another scan today, right?”

Louis turned around and gave him a funny look. “Yes, how did you know that?”

“You’ve had it scheduled for a couple weeks,” oh that made sense, “and I checked Dr. Kelso’s charts for the day and you were listed on it.”

Louis glared at him. “Don’t fucking look at my charts. You don’t have the right.”

“I mean, as your boyfriend and a doctor-”

“My boyfriend. What part of being my boyfriend involved you storming out of a double date and screaming at my best friend?”

“This has been tough on me, Louis.”

“This has been tough on you? Really?”

Chad collected himself. “I just mean- it’s unexpected and-” He cut himself off when they heard the door to the locker room open. Chad seemed to be holding his breath, waiting to see who was going to come through.

“Hey, Lou, Pezza told me you were in here. Also she told me I could call her Pezza so I think I finally made her like me which is good since I hate it when people don’t-” Harry trailed off as he came through the locker room and spotted Louis and Chad. His eyes narrowed and Louis became aware of the fact Chad had blocked him against the lockers in only his pants and half-put on frock. “Is everything okay?”

Louis pulled on the frock. “Fine. I just got off shift. I need to get something from downstairs before we meet Dr. Kelso and I need water.”

“I brought you a fruit salad and some homemade porridge,” Harry said sounding distracted. Louis assumed it was because he was glaring daggers into Chad. “And I have a large bottle of water.”

“You’re the best, Haz,” Louis said as he grabbed his stuff. When he turned around Chad had stepped out his way.

“Lemme get your stuff,” Harry said. “We can go eat in the cafeteria.” He took Louis’ bag and then his hand. Chad did not call after him and Louis was able to relax once they were out in the hallway.

While he ate in the cafeteria Harry filled him in on the updated plans their mums had come up with for the baby shower. Even though it was still almost a month and a half away trying to coordinate with everyone meant early planning. Louis didn’t care so much about gifts; he was more excited to see their friends from Manchester for the first time in five months.

“We agreed we’ll do it at my flat. I already told mum I could do the cupcakes or cake pops, or whatever we decide we want.”

“Mmmm, cake pops,” Louis said dreamily. “That’s what you need to bring me one day.”

“What flavor would you want?”

“Strawberry rhubarb with banana icing.”

Harry laughed but nodded. “I can definitely see that being something you would like. I’ll whip something up in the kitchen and you can be my official tester.”

Louis rested his head against his shoulder, preening a little when Harry kissed the crown of his head. “My hero.”

His food finished they made their way to their appointment room. Louis immediately got onto the examining table, more than happy to be off his feet and lying down. He put his hand on his belly and gave it a little rub.

“Thank god you convinced me not to get that belly button ring back in sixth form.”

Harry laughed. “I was really thinking of myself at the time. I would not have been able to handle the sight of you with a belly button ring at that age. I would have combusted and never finished school.”

“Good morning,” Dr. Kelso said, entering the room. “How are you feeling today?”

Louis let out a groan and looked up at the ceiling. “Rough. Long shift.”

She frowned as she sat down and glanced at his chart. “I wanted to talk to you about that actually. Your blood pressure is reading very high. It's not dangerous levels yet but I'm going to suggest that for the next few weeks you need to cut back on your hours at work. And if it's still high I'm going to have to put you on bed rest for the remainder of your pregnancy. We want to get you to at least thirty-two weeks, ideally thirty-five if we can keep those babies in there, and I'm really concerned the stress of the long shifts are not going to be helping.”

Louis frowned and looked down at his belly. Bed rest. And restricted shifts. That was going to be tough. “When you say cut back on my hours do you mean only do two twelve hour shifts or do you mean cut down on how many hours I work in a shift?”

“I'm not going to lie, ideally I’d want you maybe working six hour days and doing something that requires almost no stress. Maybe administrative stuff.”

Louis laughed. “I'm trained in emergency child care and have done med-vac work as well. I thrive off of the adrenaline. Administrative work is what's likely to give me stress.”

Dr. Kelso leveled him with a look. “Try eight hours three days a week. I want to see you back in two weeks and we’ll go from there, but you know hypertension is a very real concern and putting undo pressure on yourself and your babies is going to lead to complications no one wants.”

“Lou,” Harry said. “This is something you should really consider. And we've been preparing for this in some ways so it'll be okay.”

Louis reached out and grabbed his hand, squeezing it for reassurance. “Alright. I'll let my shift supervisor know your orders. And if that doesn't work we’ll discuss what full bed rest would mean for me in the coming months.”

“That's very good,” Dr. Kelso said. “Thank you for being reasonable about this. I can't tell you how many nurses and doctors I have to fight to take care of themselves.”

“We are the worst patients,” Louis said.

She nodded. “But now that that's out of the way, we can do the fun stuff. The scan today will look for any anomalies and I’ll also be checking for proper growth in your twins. How does that sound?”

They both nodded in agreement and she went about setting up for the scan. It wasn’t until she was slathering the gel on his belly Louis asked, “would it be possible to find out the sex of our babies today too?”

He kept his eyes on her even as Harry’s hand snuck up and grabbed his in excitement. They’d only talked briefly about the pros and cons of finding out what they were having and Harry had ultimately said he’d leave it up to Louis. Louis knew that Harry wanted to know desperately. He wanted to be able to pick out names and get the nursery personalized with said names. It had been a dream of his since they were teenagers. And with twins it would just be easier to do that now than after they were born.

Dr. Kelso nodded. “Of course. I can have you both look at the screen and if they’re in position we’ll be able to tell.” She began the test and Louis kept his eyes on the screen. Dr. Kelso hummed as she worked, looking over everything. She talked a little bit to both of them, pointing out the babies’ head and telling them that the shape and structure looked good on both babies, and then going into detail about the face and spine.

Louis was only half listening, because he could see everything she was telling them about. Harry, not being as versed in reading the ultrasound image, was leaning forward looking with rapt attention as Dr. Kelso pointed out their babies’ hearts.

“They look so small,” Harry breathed out as she continued on, not narrating as much as she looked at the babies’ hands and feet.

“They are smaller than your average baby,” Dr. Kelso agreed, “but you have to remember there are two in there so it’s common. They aren’t dangerously small, so what you’re eating is good and I definitely want you to keep it up.”

“Harry, you can clearly see my stomach. These babies are not gonna be tiny.”

Dr. Kelso laughed at their banter. “You’re still definitely on track for a 40 week due date of November twenty-first, though with twins I’d guess we’re looking more realistically towards November first.”

“Oh, a Halloween baby,” Harry said nudging him with a laugh. “You’ve seen that show, Parks and Rec right? With Chris Pratt?”

Louis laughed. “Yeah, his wife got all dressed up to have baby on Halloween. Which I will not be doing, thank you.”

“You’d be so cute and festive though,” Harry said.

“No.” Louis stuck his tongue out.

“Alright, we’re gonna be getting to the fun part for you two. I’ll focus on the pelvis area and we’ll see if we can find our your babies’ sex.” She moved the wand down over one of the babies and Louis watched the screen as she focused on their pelvis. “Well Baby A is a girl,” Dr. Kelso said giving them a smile before turning back to the screen.

Harry squeezed his hand. “We’re having a little girl. God, Lou.”

“I hope she has your curls,” Louis said giving him a shy smile.

“Bouncy little curls?” Harry said. “The nans won’t be able to resist her. But you know this means we have to have them on Halloween, right? We can dress them up super cute.”

“You’re ridiculous.”

“Baby B is a little shy,” Dr. Kelso said, and Louis could see Baby B was turned on their side, shielding them from being able to see with any real certainty. “I can come back to it in a moment, see if they’ve decided to move. Will you two want a picture of the ultrasound?”

Harry smiled at her. “Yes please. We’d like four copies if possible.” He looked at Louis for confirmation, who nodded.

“Absolutely fine.” She moved the wand back over to Baby B and frowned when they were still shyly turned away. “I would guess maybe it’s another girl, just on the fact they are little smaller than Baby A,” Dr. Kelso said, “but honestly from the angle I can’t be certain, and they could be smaller just because they aren’t getting as much nutrients. When you come back next month we can give it another go.” As she moved the wand away the two babies started to shift. It was proof to Louis he still couldn’t feel any of their movement. “Oh, maybe we’ll get lucky.”

Louis watched as Baby B shifted, slowly, so so slowly it seemed, rolling over. He watched as it seemed like Baby B almost stretched and then both Harry and Dr. Kelso let out loud laughed.

“Definitely a boy then,” she said, trying to suppress her laugh and go back to being professional. “Sorry about that.”

Harry did not have the same control and he was still cackling at how Baby B - their son - had just flashed them.

“Well, we definitely know who his dad is,” Louis said. “Absolutely no shame.” This only caused Harry to roll with more laughter while Dr. Kelso shook her head and went about finishing up the scan.

Once she was done and Louis’ belly was cleaned off she reminded him they’d be checking in on his stress levels in two weeks, and that she’d talk to his supervisor about him reducing his hours. “If not, it’s going to have to be bed rest for you,” she said as her parting words.

That plummeted his mood. The joy of knowing he was having a boy and a girl was being overshadowed by his impending imprisonment and lack of freedom. He knew from his almost decade in nursing at some capacity there was a very, very good chance he’d end up on bed rest. He knew he had high blood pressure. He knew his job was stressful and contributed to it one hundred percent. And if he were his own nurse in this situation he’d be pushing for it so strongly, but as the patient...as the patient it was hard.

Harry was happy and chatty as they left the room. He collected the copies of the sonogram from a nurse and kept talking about how excited their mums were doing to be. Louis was quiet though, unable to work up the same level of excitement when faced with the prospect of fucking bed rest and what that all entailed. And de didn't know how to convey what he was feeling to Harry, who despite how wonderful he was, wouldn't be able to understand.

“Hey, Lou, is everything okay?” Harry asked, stopping them in the middle of the hallway with a soft hand on his bicep. He gently pulled Louis into a side hug, accommodating for the bump.

“I don't want to go on bed rest,” Louis said, hoping that summed up everything.

“We knew this was a very real possibility,” Harry said, kissing his forehead.

He let out a sigh because Harry was right. That didn’t change the fact it sucked hearing he might be homebound, if not bedridden, for the final months of his pregnancy.

“How am I supposed to go shopping with you to get everything together if I’m not allowed to do anything strenuous. I’m sure riding the tube counts.”

Harry gave him another kiss on the forehead. “We can go this weekend then. Sure it’s early but if that’s what we gotta do, it’s what we gotta do. I want you to be part of the shopping experience with me.”

“And making up their nursery?”

Harry nodded. “Yeah. I cleaned out my office so it can be a nursery now. In a couple years I’ll be looking into getting a bigger flat so they can each have their own room.”

Louis sighed and nuzzled his neck. “There’s a good chance they’ll always have to share at my place so having their own space in your flat isn’t a bad idea.”

“That’s for the future, of course,” Harry said. “Right now we’ll focus on making up the nursery over the next week or so. How about I take off Wednesday instead of Thursday so we can go on your day off?”

“That sounds good.” Louis gave Harry a kiss on the cheek. “I love you. Have a good day at work, okay?”

“Love you too,” Harry said. “I’ll text you tomorrow to confirm when we’ll meet up.”

Louis gave Harry one final hug and then watched him leave. He let out a sigh and checked his watch for the time. He was due to go home and take a very long nap. He headed back to his lockers to grab all his scrubs so he could wash them. He supposed he shouldn’t have been surprised at this point when Chad was still sitting there on the bench, waiting.

“Don’t you have better things to do than stalk me?” He asked.

Chad at least had the decency to look down. “I’m on call right now and just wanted to sit in here. I wasn’t sure if you’d already left or not.”

Louis rolled his eyes and opened his locker. “Whatever.”

“How was your scan? Did you find out the sex of the babies or did you decide you wanted it to be a surprise.”

“Really none of your business. You’ll find out with the rest of the hospital staff when I bring in cupcakes next week for the big reveal.”

“Listen, Louis. I know I’m being really messed up-”

“Messed up?” Louis slammed his locker. “No, messed up was what I would have called it when you first found out and you could barely do your fucking job at my appointment. I’d maybe even stretch it to being messed up when you stormed out on a double date because you realized we had couple tattoos. This is beyond messed up. At this point your behavior is psychopathic and it needs to stop.” He could feel his blood pressure rising and he closed his eyes in an attempt to calm down.

“Louis, I just want to help.”

“Unless you can wait on me hand and foot when I’m on bed rest in a couple weeks then there’s nothing you can do for me and I really think this is goodbye, Chad.”

“Bed rest?” Chad said, voice changing. “Is everything okay?”

“I’m a carrier expecting twins for my first pregnancy, Chad, who works in a high stress job. Use your fucking degree to figure out if everything’s okay.”

“But you live alone,” he said.

“No shit.”

“Will anyone be able to take care of you?”

“Unless you’re volunteering it’s really none of your fucking business.”

“I- No. I wasn’t. That’s too, the commitment is too much.”

Louis sighed and grabbed his bag. “I know it is. Which is why this is goodbye. Stop talking to me or I’ll report you for harassment.”

He walked out of the locker room feeling proud of himself.

That feeling lasted the whole ride home, up until he got off his last bus. The walk from his bus stop back to his flat was rougher than he remembered. His feet ached and his back was sore and he was completely exhausted. Maybe it was just the long shift catching up with him, maybe it was something more, but when he got into his flat he went straight into his bedroom and fell promptly asleep.

When he woke up it was dark out and he groaned as he tried to grab for his phone. It was dead and he realized he hadn’t plugged it in. He tried to roll over and frowned when he found he couldn’t do it easily. He tried to move his legs but everything seemed to ache. He closed his eyes in frustration.

“This is all in your head, this is all in your head,” he whispered to himself. “You can do it, Tommo. You can do it.”

He somehow managed to heave himself up, wincing as his back ached. He stretched and tried to shake off all the pains as he plugged his phone into its charger. He couldn’t get them all though as he made his way to the kitchen to grab food out of the fridge. He frowned when he saw he’d have to bend down to get the packaged meat from the bottom shelf. He braced himself on the side of the fridge and spread his legs a little so he didn’t have to bend too far. The weight of his belly almost threw him off but he managed to get the chicken and get back to standing.

He went about seasoning the chicken breast and putting it on a pan with some cut up vegetables. His back was screaming by the time he had put it in the oven and he collapsed on his sofa. He closed his eyes in frustration as he reached around and rubbed his back.

“Come on, Tommo. All in your head. It’s all in your head.”

This stuff was only affecting him because of the meeting with Dr. Kelso. He had been just fine yesterday. Though, he realized, in fairness, he had been running off of pure adrenaline all weekend. He knew he had to get up in the evening and go back to work so he couldn’t let himself be run down, but now it was his weekend. He could be weak.

“Fuck,” he said as the timer dinged on his oven. It was another struggle to get back up and get the chicken out of the oven and if it weren’t for the fact he had to eat, and also potential fire, he would have just stayed on the couch.

And that realization is what he had him waddling back into his bedroom as soon as the oven was off. His phone had turned back on and he skipped passed the messages he’d received while he slept so he could call Harry without even looking at the time.

“Haz,” Louis said when he picked up.

He heard rattling in the background and then Harry excused himself. “Lou? Hey, what's up?”

“Is this a bad time?”

“Nah, I was just cooking dinner. Nothing important. What's up?”

Louis suddenly felt himself let out a frustrated sob as he dropped onto his bed. It was like everything growing inside him had finally welled up and was boiling over. “Haz, I can't go on bed rest this early. I- on top of the fact I love my job, I live alone. I'm so scared. What if something happens and I'm out here in fucking Peckham with no way to get in contact with anyone? How will I be able to take care of myself if I'm stuck in bed for fifteen hours a day?” He was full on bawling at this point, irrationally working his way up to an anxiety attack if he wasn't careful.

“Shush, shush, love, Louis, baby. It's okay. I'm here. You aren't going through this alone.”

Louis let out a ragged laugh. “I told Chad to fuck off officially today. After you left.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. He was asking questions and being all concerned and I told him, I told him if he wasn't planning on waiting on me hand and foot then he could fuck off.”

Harry laughed. “Good for you. He's a fucking dick and you don't need him.”

“I need someone though,” Louis said. “I can't do this on my own and I think he was this safety net for me in some ways.”

“No. Lou. You aren't doing this on your own. You have me.”

“Not much you can do when we live so far away. I'm not having you drag yourself out here every day just to take care of me.”

“Then move in with me,” Harry said.

Louis couldn't stop himself from letting out an indignant laugh. “What? Harry no.”

“Yes. Lou, for the love of god just listen to me. You need to go on bed rest to some degree. You don't think you can handle it if you're living alone and I don't blame you. It's scary and it's okay you're scared. I have the space. You can stay in the nursery or we can share my bed. I’ll be here to wait on you hand and foot. It'll be fine.”

“What about my flat?”

“Give your landlord thirty days. We’ll have you moved in here in that time. Honestly I was gonna push for this anyway in the next month or so because we're gonna be basically living together when the twins are born anyway. It wouldn't make sense to have two flats.”

Louis let out a sigh as he wiped his eyes. “Okay.”

“Just seriously consider it.”

“I said okay, Harry. Jesus listen to me.”

“Oh,” Harry said. “I was expecting a bigger fight.”

“I can tell. But no, you're right. I can't be stubborn about this. It'll be what's best for our kids.”

“Exactly,” Harry said. “Put in your notice. Wednesday when we go shopping we’ll start moving you in here. I have a truck I can borrow to move stuff. How does that sound?”

“Sounds good.”

“Great. Wait, hold on Lou,” Harry said and then Louis heard a muffled. “I'll be right down, babe. Just finishing up stuff with Louis. You know how to plate the food.” He came back to Louis. “Sorry about that.”

Louis felt a twist in his stomach. “No sorry I called during your date.”

“It's really nothing, Lou. You know you're the most important thing to me. Dinner can wait. Is there anything else you need?”

Louis’ nerves settled hearing Harry say that. “I love you, Harry. You're seriously my best friend.”

“You're my best friend too and I love you more than anything. I'll talk to you tomorrow. Give our babies extra love from me, okay?”

“Will do. Bye, Harry.”

“Bye, love.”

Chapter Text

Living with Harry was exactly how Louis remembered it from Manchester: wonderful and fun. With his hours scaled back (he only worked eight hours Thursday and Friday for now) Harry had also adjusted his schedule so he was home more often. He’d moved his youtube filming to their flat and he’d worked out with his chefs that they would take up the slack as he worked more reasonable, ten hour days so Louis wasn’t home alone for that long.

In the afternoon and early evening Harry and him would putz around the house, finishing up the nursery before Harry made them both dinner and they settled in for the night. The two days Louis had work Harry would take him to and from the hospital, hour of the day be damned. On top of that, now that Louis had Harry around, he was suddenly able to fully indulge in the cravings he’d been fighting for weeks because he had someone to go out and get him whatever he wanted.

That’s why at the moment Louis was sitting in bed alone, playing a puzzle game on Harry’s iPad. He’d voiced aloud that he really, really wanted marshmallow fluff and peanut butter after seeing a video recipe on Facebook and Harry had obligingly gotten up and said he’d be back with what Louis wanted. It was wonderful and unexpected.

Just like when the doorbell buzzed. Louis frowned as it buzzed again. It was a Saturday night. Who else could be showing up? It buzzed again and Louis began the process of getting out of bed. He kept a hand on his belly in some weird attempt to steady himself as he planted his feet firmly on the floor and the other hand on the bed to help him stand. His back only screamed a little at him which he attributed to the very light stretching and exercise he had been told to do to keep his muscles toned. It wouldn’t do to get muscle atrophy just because he was lying in bed too much. He wouldn’t be any help to his babies or Harry in that case.

The doorbell buzzed four more times in the time it took Louis to get up and waddle down to the door. That was the one thing he hated about Harry’s flat: the bedrooms were on a second floor. He was grumbling under his breath about Harry and his pretentious rich flat as he swung open the door to reveal Troy.

He blinked.

Troy looked bewildered.

“Can I help you?”

“What are you doing here?” Troy asked.

Louis looked back into the flat and then back at Troy. “I live here?”

Troy’s face morphed into a mix of confusion and some sort of anger. “What?”

“I moved in two weeks ago when I got put on bed rest.”

Troy seemed to take a moment to swallow that statement and then asked, “where’s Harry?”

“He went out to get me marshmallow fluff and peanut butter,”

Troy stared at him. “But we have a date? We’re going to the movies.”

Louis shrugged, unsure what to say to him. Harry hadn’t told him anything about the date. He was actually under the impression Harry and he were going to watch a movie in bed tonight but he wasn’t going to tell Troy that when he was staring at Louis as if he was the worst thing in existence. “He left like twenty minutes ago so maybe he’ll be back soon but I mean, I guess if you want you can wait here.” He opened the door for Troy. “I need to sit down though so make up your mind quickly.”

He left the door open as he headed back up to the stairs. It took him a moment to work up the nerve to walk up them again and he was surprised when Troy put a hand on his back, helping him.

“Thanks,” he grunted as they started the climb.

Troy was actually pretty decent at the whole balancing thing and made sure Louis was steady on his feet once they reached the top of the stairs before he let go. Louis took a deep breath and then walked into his bedroom, eyes already locked on the bed.

“Wait. That’s Harry’s bedroom,” Troy said as he followed Louis.

“It’s our bedroom because I am currently sleeping in it as well,” Louis said as he got back into bed and under the covers.

“You two are sharing a bed.” It wasn’t a question. Troy’s gaze on him was harsh and unforgiving.

Louis nodded. “We tried to get my bed in the nursery but there wasn’t enough room between that and all the furniture we ended up buying so it honestly just made more sense to get rid of the bed and share.”

Troy looked around the bedroom and he seemed to be taking in all the new changes. Harry had put up some of Louis’ wall art, a couple framed posters and picture frames. Because it was Harry he’d even compromised to make the room still have synergy or whatever so Louis’ stuff fit right in. It was only then Louis realized Troy probably knew the inside of Harry’s room. They'd been dating for awhile now - Louis didn't even know the exact time frame but the twins were at five and half months so it must have been roughly that length of time - so it was entirely possible he even had left stuff here and he was looking for it. Louis hadn't seen any of it after all. Hell Harry hadn't even brought Troy up at all in the two weeks he'd been living here. He'd honestly forgotten he existed until he showed up at the door.

“Are you fucking him?”

And that? That Louis should have seen coming. “If I was do you really think he'd still be with you? Jesus fucking Christ you people get so insecure, so easily.”

Unlike Chad, Troy’s anger was quiet and seething. “You are his baby momma, sharing his bed. You can see where I'm drawing this conclusion.”

“Honestly at this point I probably should be fucking him just to shut you and my ex up. But no. Harry and I aren't fucking but I am his best friend and his baby momma as you so snidely call me, so if you want to keep having the honor of fucking him you'll go sit on the couch and wait like a good boy.” Louis and Troy had a stare off. Honestly it was like he was dealing with his dog when he was a kid. And just like with his dog Troy was the first one to look away, ducking his head as turning on his heel as he headed back downstairs.

Louis didn’t hear the front door open so he assumed Troy had done as asked and gone to the couch to wait like a sulking child. Louis sighed and got comfortable in bed, opening up the iPad again with his thumbprint and going back to his game.

He was through two more levels when he heard the front door open and heard Harry call out, “I expect worship, Lou! Do you know the looks I got in the store for this basket? This poor old lady was down the same aisle as me when I was stocking up on the fluff! But never let it be said I’m not the greatest in the wor- Troy.” Harry’s voice died down and Louis could not longer hear what he was saying.

Even despite his inherent nosiness he stayed firmly in bed, waiting for Harry to come up to him. He knew he would, after all. It wasn’t like he was just going to leave with Troy and forget Louis sitting upstairs. If he did Louis didn’t know what he was going to do. Probably throw a fit. Harry wouldn’t know what hit him when he came home if he left without at least talking to Louis.

He didn’t get to let his feelings run too far in that direction because a few minutes into it he heard the tell-tale skip of Harry coming up the stairs. He pranced into the bedroom with a plate in his hands, a sandwich on the plate.

“So I didn’t deep fry this like they did in that video but I did put peanut butter, the fluff, and bananas on here. The bananas were my own idea because I wanted this to be somewhat healthy,” Harry said as he offered Louis the plate.

Louis happily took the sandwich. It was heavier than he was expecting. He’d never actually had marshmallow fluff but he supposed it couldn’t taste much different than a marshmallow. It had looked delicious at least, all spreadable and creamy looking. He took a big bite of it as Harry watched him.

“Oh my god this is so sweet,” Louis said, smacking his lips together as he tried to work the stickiness of the peanut butter and marshmallow fluff down his throat. “Why did I think this was a good idea?” He took another bite and closed his eyes in bliss. “I’m going to die of sugar shock. It’s amazing.”

Harry laughed and kissed his forehead. “You’re only getting one of those a day so you better savor it.”

“I can always go downstairs and make myself one while you’re gone.” He looked Harry up and down. “You’re going out, right?”

Harry gave a half shrug. “Maybe? I wanted to ask if you needed anything. I can tell Troy I’m too busy being here with you.” He sat down on the edge of the bed and began half rubbing Louis’ leg over the blanket.

Louis thought about it for a moment. He really didn’t want Harry to leave but he also had no real reason to keep him here. He had his cravings fulfilled, and the iPad. He wasn’t going to get out of bed except to use the bathroom so there was less of a chance for him to get hurt. “You’ll keep your phone on you if something happens, right?”

“Definitely, Lou,” Harry said quickly. “And I won’t stay out long. Only the length of the movie. If Troy wants dinner we can come back here for something late.”

“I should be okay for dinner and a movie. I manage it when you’re at work.”

“I know, and I feel guilty even then.”

“Don’t. Go out, have fun with your boyfriend. Soon you’ll be spending your nights with me changing nappies and not sleeping.”

“I can’t wait for it.” Harry kissed his forehead again. “It’s all I’ve ever wanted.”

“Stop being sappy and go get changed,” Louis said. “Can’t keep the boyfriend waiting.”

He watched as Harry got changed into date clothes, commenting on the choice of his patterned shirt and teasing him about how tight his skinny jeans were. Harry flipped him off as he finished getting dressed and then he came over and gave Louis a kiss goodbye.

“Love you. Call me if you need anything. I’ll be breaking theatre rules just for you.”

“I will. And I love you too. Have fun.”

Harry gave the babies a quick kiss over his shirt before he headed downstairs. Louis let out a sigh and settled back in bed, trying to ignore the ugly feeling of upset and jealousy that was starting to creep up. That wouldn’t do since there was no reason to be jealous. He knew getting into this Harry was dating someone else. They were just co-parenting. And co-habiting.

That’s all.

Telling himself that didn’t make his feelings for Troy any better.

***

The Troy thing wasn’t getting better. It had instead fallen into this pattern: Louis would forget he exists until he’d show up - always unannounced because Harry never seemed to remember they had plans. They would be civil with each other, though it would be the kind of civil that involved a lot of glaring on Troy’s end, and Harry wouldn’t seem to notice anything wrong. Half of the time Harry would be convinced to follow through with the plans he and Troy had apparently made, a quarter of the time Harry would ask Troy if he wanted to stay in with Louis and him, and the rest of the time Troy would leave, pissy. The cycle would then continue with Louis forgetting he even existed until he showed up again.

The thing was, Harry seemed to forget he existed too. He never mentioned him to Louis, not even in the summaries of his day. He’d talk about other people and at this point Louis felt like he was on first name basis with everyone who worked at Dough Re Mi even though he’d never met them. But he never mentioned Troy. At first Louis thought Harry was just trying to be polite and keep the peace as much as possible by not mentioning him, but whenever Troy showed up Harry would seem genuinely confused for a moment.

And that too was weird because Louis was an expert at dating Harry and Harry was never anything but attentive and thoughtful towards the people he loved. He remembered everything. Hell when they first started dating he’d read something online about the first 100 day date and so he had meticulously started keeping track of the days they were dating so he could surprise Louis with 100 roses. (It had been excessive and Louis had loved every second of it. He even still had one of them pressed in a book back at his mother’s house) That was the kind of boyfriend Harry Styles was, not the forgetful guy who seemed confused and hesitant to go out with you, as Harry did with Troy.

Louis couldn’t figure it out, and it wasn’t helping his feelings. The feelings that had never gone away. The feelings that they were practically dating most of the time. The feelings that told Louis Harry was his and they were going to raise a family together and that now that he’d moved in he was never moving out.

***

Harry had decorated the living room. It was just a couple of streamers and soft lights and not much else but it spruced up the living room enough to make it seem like an official party. He’d helped Louis downstairs and gotten him comfortable on the couch before directing Troy on how he wanted the finger foods he’d spent all morning putting together laid out. They were having the baby shower that afternoon and their friends and family from Manchester were going to be making their way down. Louis was excited because it was going to be mixing together his favorite people from home with new friends he had met here. Perrie was coming, as were some of Harry’s coworkers.

The flat was going to be very packed.

The first guest arrived just before noon with a loud knock on the door and a cry of, “open up you fuckers! The party has arrived!”

Louis perked up, recognizing Niall’s voice. Harry looked up from where he was washing his hands at the sink and broke into a huge smile. “Coming!” He called out as he jogged to the door. Louis couldn’t see Niall come in through the door from where he was sitting on the couch but he heard the chaos that was Niall, Harry, and Liam all greeting each other in loud excitement.

Louis caught Troy standing awkwardly by the stove top, looking off into the foyer where the other boys were. He wasn’t able to focus on him for long though because Niall and Liam fell into the living room soon after the excitement seemed to die down.

“We come bringing presents!” Niall announced. They were both indeed ladled down by bags on both of their arms and Louis couldn’t stop his eyes from widening in shock at the sheer amount.

Liam laughed. “We may have cleaned out the entire Man United gift shop of baby related paraphernalia. And then Niall found one of those unauthorized bootleg street shops and he bought even more crap from there.”

“I had to!” Niall defended himself. “It was either Man United all the way or I was gonna end up sneaking Irish stuff in there. And I don’t want to hear Louis bitching if that was the case.”

“You know they’re gonna just grow up, right?” Harry asked as he came over and helped get the bags off of Liam and Niall’s arms.

“Of course, that’s why we cleaned out the baby, the toddler, and the young kids section.”

“The kit is just gonna change next season,” Louis cried out, waving frantically for their attention. He wanted hugs from two of his best friends but he knew he only had it in him to get up maybe ten times all afternoon and he needed those to be when he had to use the bathroom.

“Vintage my dear collectible son,” Niall said as he finally made his way over to Louis so he could shower him in love and affection. “Your babies are gonna be obsessive fans, I can bet you. They’ll appreciate all the different kits and what not when they get older. Besides, I just got my latest royalty check for that stupid iPhone commercial song I wrote. I had more than enough money to burn.”

“You’re ridiculous,” Louis said, kissing Niall’s cheek.

“I am indeed but your babies are gonna look awesome.”

Liam took Niall’s place after he had helped Harry put the presents in the now designated present corner. “Hey mate. Good to see you again,” Liam said giving him a kiss on the cheek as well before his eyes drifted to his stomach. “Wow you’re bigger than Mummy Jay was.”

“I know,” Louis said. “It’s his giant fault our babies are huge.”

“No,” Harry said, “it’s because you’re a carrier and so they’re sitting differently considering you have narrower hips.”

Louis rolled his eyes. “No one cares about the actual reason, Haz. They just want to hear cute stories and easy answers.”

Harry stuck his tongue out at Louis as he offered Liam and Niall a beer. “So no one else is showing up for another hour at least.”

“We came early to solidify our place as your bestest friends!” Niall said.

“That and we were out partying last night but Niall somehow managed to wake up at six anyway so there was no reason not to come down.”

“We get to catch up, we get to ask you all the embarrassing questions we want without your families being there to judge us.”

“For the last time Niall, no I will not be your straight guy experience,” Harry said as he sat down on the floor in front of Louis.

They didn’t have that many seats, just the sofa Louis was sitting on and the four chairs around the kitchen table. Louis was just glad his pregnancy guaranteed him a seat at all times.

Niall flipped him off. “You ask a guy one time to see his dick.”

“Anyway!” Liam said, cutting them off, “we also thought we’d get to badger you two about the most important thing. Baby names.”

“We know you’re holding them close to the chest,” Niall said. “Your mums were bitching about it but we are gonna get them out of you.” He reached for Louis’ bicep, digging his fingers quickly and efficiently under it so he could reach Louis’ armpit and tickle.

Louis shrieked, kicking his feet. “Don’t- fucking- I have weak bladder control as is!” He was quickly devolving into laughter and the urge to pee hit him immediately. “You suck!”

Niall stopped and let him breathe for a moment. “Names?”

“Fuck you.” Louis saw Niall shrug and then he was being tickled again. He let out another cry and it quickly turned into a plea of “I’m gonna piss, I’m gonna piss, fuck you.”

“Hey!” Harry finally said. “Lay off him. We’ll tell you the names.”

Niall stopped and it took Louis a solid minute to calm down. “Some knight in shining armor you are, Haz.”

“I like hearing you laugh,” Harry said. “Do you need to seriously use the bathroom?”

Louis groaned but nodded, figuring it was better to be safe than sorry. He was at the point in pregnancy where he had to go every twenty minutes anyway, regardless of what he drank or ate. Harry helped him stand and made sure he was steady before letting him waddle off to the bathroom. Louis saw Troy was still standing by the oven, looking at his feet. No one had seemed to notice him but he also hadn’t made any effort to come over to introduce himself.

Once Louis was settled back on the couch, Harry at his feet, and Liam and Niall looking expectant they finally revealed what names they were going to pick.

“Harry had final say in these, by the way,” Louis said. “He had a theme.”

“Don’t lie, you loved the names.”

“Just tell us the fucking name,” Niall said. “I wanna know if I won the bet.”

“You guys made a bet?” Louis asked.

Liam pointed to Niall. “He made a bet with Lottie and Nick. I was not apart of this in the slightest. I want that known because I am a good friend.”

“We’re going with Asher William and Iris Anne,” Harry said.

“Aww those are pretty,” Liam said with a smile.

“Dammit I was wrong. I mean, yes they’re pretty, good job, but fuck I’m gonna owe Lottie fifty quid.”

“You bet fifty quid on our babies’ names?” Louis asked, punching Niall in the shoulder.

“I swore you were gonna have the girl after your mum and the boy after Harry. Not the other way around.”

“Better luck next time,” Liam said laughing.

Niall laughed as well. “That’s what your gift is for after all.”

“Our gift?” Louis asked.

“You’ll see when you open the presents. We got you two something special.” Niall waggled his eyebrows.

Shortly after more and more people began trickling in. Their London friends got there first: Perrie, her boyfriend Alex, Harry’s co-owner Jeff and his girlfriend Glenne, the earlier mentioned Nick. But soon their own families started showing up. Louis was happy to stay stationed on the couch and get hugs and greetings from a party line of people who were over the moon excited for him and Harry.

“Mum!”

Louis heard Harry call from across the room and he looked up just as he heard his own mum respond with, “my baby boy!”

He couldn’t help but smile as he watched Harry and his mum embrace each other, his mum giving Harry a bunch of kisses. He’d need to get up and greet her too but for now he’d let Harry keep her attention. God knew he loved her almost as much as his own mother. The benefits of growing up together, Louis supposed.

He let himself work up the energy to stand since he probably needed to pee in another minute or so anyway and he began the trek across the room. It wasn’t very far but Louis had to stop every couple steps because of people stopping to talk to him again and by the time he made to his mum Harry had flounced off somewhere else and instead Troy was in his place, shaking his mum’s hand.

“Hello Mrs. Styles, I’m Troy.”

Louis couldn’t help but stop in his steps, even though it was hard on his back to stand in one place. His mum’s face was too priceless. She blinked at Troy as she slowly removed her hand. “Hello. Do you work with Harry?”

Louis couldn’t see Troy’s face but he knew he must have been taken aback. He wanted to laugh, but his mum made eye contact with him over Troy’s shoulder just as he carried on with, “I’m Harry’s boyfriend, Mrs. Styles.”

His mum narrowed her eyes and the expression was all for Louis, he knew. Had he told his mum he and Harry weren’t together? He honestly couldn’t remember. He was sure he’d mentioned it, or that Harry had. Harry had to have told Anne after all, who would have told his mum.

“I’m sorry, who?” His mum said again, slower, as she looked back at Troy.

Louis finally made his way over to them and cut in front of Troy to greet his mum. “Troy, mum. He and Harry are dating. Troy, this is my mum, Johannah. Harry’s mum looks just like Harry and she’s Mrs. Twist, not Mrs. Styles.” Louis gave his mum a kiss on the cheek.

“But…” Troy trailed off and then smiled. “My apologies, Johannah, I’d heard Harry call you mum and just assumed.”

“It’s no problem. He’s practically my son anyway. I half raised him after all. I’m sure Anne will be here soon so you can meet her then. I think Louis needs to get back to his seat since you’re on bed rest aren’t you?”

Louis sighed as his mum guided them away from Troy. “I am but I’m allowed light exercise. You know how it goes, mum. And I really need to use the toilet.”

“Well then let’s get you there,” she said even though she still sounded distracted. He knew he was in for a talking to from his mum once he sat down but decided not to focus on that.

Harry appeared right as they settled back on the couch, handing his mum a plate of food and a drink. He kissed Louis on the forehead and asked him if there was anything else he needed before he was called away by Gemma shouting that the sister brigade had arrived and they required a tribute.

“So. Troy,” his mother said taking a sip of her drink.

“I coulda swore we told you we weren’t together.”

“No, you two must have left that part out all the times we talked on the phone and we were planning your future together raising children. Aren’t you two living together now too?”

“Yes and it’s really not- Harry wasn’t seeing anyone when I moved to London. We’d agreed not to start up a relationship because the time wasn’t right and I started dating someone else and Harry started dating someone else, so when we found out I was pregnant,” he gave a shrug.

His mother was giving him a look. “You two ever think that this whole unplanned pregnancy is a sign that you don’t need the right time to be together?”

“Mum.” Louis’ voice was pleading. “I’m twenty-five weeks pregnant with twins and it’s not been easy. I’ve had to cut back hours at work and there’s a good chance by next week I’ll be completely housebound. Harry and I don’t have time to figure this out. Troy and him have whatever they have and it’s fine.”

“It’s fine,” his mum repeated as she looked over at Harry. Anne had arrived and she was looking just as confused as Troy introduced himself, standing beside Harry tall and proud. “Boo, I’m always honest with you, but that boy Harry is dating is very clearly a standin for you and I don’t know for the life of me why he’s still around because it’s obvious just looking at them that Harry doesn’t give a crap about him.”

“Mum, please.”

She took a deep breath and let it out. “Fine. It’s fine. You’re happy. You’re healthy. The babies are fine.”

“Yes, yes, yes, and yes. Seriously mum.”

She took another sip of her drink and then stood up as Anne made her way over to them mouthing “what the fuck?” Louis closed his eyes for a moment before he was engulfed in a hug from Anne.

“Oh baby, what has my stupid son done?” Anne asked kissing his cheeks.

“Mum, it’s fine,” Louis reiterated. “I explained to my mum already. Really don’t be mad at Harry.”

Anne cupped his cheek, looking at him fondly. “The best part about being his mum is I am allowed to do whatever I want. But because I love you and I know you don’t need more stress I’ll keep my judgment to myself.” She kissed him on the cheek again and then stepped back to look him over. “Can I touch my grandchildren?”

He nodded, and thus opened up the venue for everyone to come over and pet his belly. He realized by the time Gemma and Lottie got to him - both of them tipsy - that only their mums had found out about Troy. No one else seemed to have the same judgment or sympathy for him as they came back to him so he supposed that was at least the plus side.

It took about two more hours for everyone to settle down and once they were Niall declared it was present time. The designated present corner had turned into a designated present wall and Louis almost cried when he saw it because, “you guys really, really didn’t need to do this.”

Harry was pushed onto the couch with him before Perrie and Liam began handing them the presents in an organized factory line set up. For the most part they were easy gifts. A lot of people bought nappies, because you could never have enough of those.

Louis grabbed the next present from Perrie, a red gift bag he vaguely remembered being on Liam’s arm and he took a peek in it just as Niall let out a squeak.

“WAIT!” Liam called waving his hands. “NOT THAT ONE! SORRY! THAT’S NOT MEANT FOR PUBLIC CONSUMPTION!”

Well now Louis had to look and he pulled the tissue paper to the side to see lacey blue material covering about three boxes of condoms. His head snapped up and he shoved the bag at Harry as he blushed. “What the fuck you two.”

“Louis!” His mum scolded him.

“We figured you two didn’t have any since that’s how this all started anyway,” Niall said. “And the lingerie is just to get you two in the mood when you guys go on your honeymoon. We got both of you a set, Harry’s is under the condoms.”

“We didn’t know when you guys were going to get married. We figured it would probably be spur of the moment knowing you two.”

A door slammed and Louis’ head snapped away from Liam and Niall to the foyer door. They never closed the door. Louis didn’t even need to look around at everyone else to see who was missing.

Harry scrambled to his feet cursing as he made his way past people. The room was dead silent so everyone could hear him running up the stairs and another slammed door before Troy’s raised voice took over.

“You didn’t tell anyone!” He was screaming. “Everyone thinks you two are a couple! How is that fair?!”

Louis felt all eyes on him and he looked at the bag Harry had abandoned.

Anne was the one who spoke. “That’s a nice present, Niall, but Harry and Louis aren’t together.”

All of their friends looked confused, which made sense considering.

Louis sighed. “Harry’s dating someone else, and so was I but my boyfriend turned out to be a dick who left me because he was jealous of Harry.”

“Sounds like this dude isn’t much better,” Liam muttered.

Troy was now just shouting, “what about me?” apparently unsatisfied with the answer Harry was giving him to the question.

Louis shrugged. “I honestly… I’m sure it’s really tough on him but he and Harry like each other and it’s not fair to judge them. Just know Harry and I are in this baby raising together and that’s all there is.”

“I don’t like it,” Niall said. “But. Not my life. So. I’ll let it go.”

“I don’t think anyone likes it,” Nick chimed in. “Especially not that guy who I swore looked like a cheap version of Louis and now that I know he is a cheap version of Louis I can’t unsee it.”

“Just hand me the next present, Payno,” Louis said holding out his hand.

Troy’s shouting was calming down and Louis wanted the living room to be some semblance of normalcy when Harry, and potentially Troy returned. He opened three more sets of nappies before Harry finally appeared downstairs looking worse for wear. He muttered an apology as he sat down next to Louis and wrapped his arm around his shoulder. Louis leaned against his chest and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek.

“Everything okay?” He whispered, even though he knew all of their family and friends were watching.

Harry sighed and pressed another kiss to his cheek. “Let’s just open some more presents, okay?”

Chapter Text

“I'm so sorry about this,” Harry repeated for the hundredth time since he got home. He was apologizing for the fact he had to go back out because he was cooking for his and Troy’s sixth month anniversary.

Things had been rough since the baby shower. Harry and him had sat down after everyone was gone and Harry had explained what had happened with Troy. Not that Louis couldn't guess considering they all heard Troy’s screaming. Harry had explained Troy didn't feel like he was any part of Harry’s life and that he’d been trying so hard to be supportive of all of the changes but he still felt like he was alienated. Louis had kept his mouth shut when Harry said that but he could tell Harry knew what he wanted to say because he had just sighed and took Louis’ hand in his.

“Lou, just say the words and I’ll end it.”

“No.”

“I’m serious. If you don’t think this is a good idea-”

“Harry, I’m in no position to make demands of you, especially about your personal life. I trust you to know what’s best for you and if you can see yourself being happy with him and you wanna make a try for it then by all means go ahead. He hasn’t actually done anything. So, it’s fine.”

And that had been that. With Louis’ half-blessing Harry had made up with Troy and thus started Harry’s epic multi-tasking of devoted father-to-be, best friend, and boyfriend. Troy was invited over for almost nightly dinner and given a key to the flat. He listened when they came home from both the twenty-eighth and thirty-one week appointments, appropriately asking questions and seeming… sincerely excited now that he was being included and remembered. So Louis couldn’t even be mad at him for being around.

Which brought Louis back to this: Harry and Troy’s six month anniversary. Harry refused to go out for it since Louis was already starting Braxton Hicks contractions and even though he had been assured by both Dr. Kelso, Louis, and Louis’ mum that this was perfectly normal it didn’t stop Harry from having mini-freak outs every time Louis let out a grunt of pain as the contraction went through him. He was convinced Louis was going to go into labor any second even though all other signs were pointing to labor not starting any time soon.

So Harry was cooking dinner for him and Troy, except he’d forgotten to run to the store on his way home from the shop and now he had to go back out.

“Are you sure you’re going to be okay?” Harry asked. “Troy should be here soon and he has a key so he can just let himself in.”

“Harry, I was home all alone today while you were at work. I think I can manage a half hour while you run to the store.”

Harry fidgeted for a moment and glanced at Louis’ phone. It was plugged in, fully charged on his bedside table. “Call me if you need anything. And again, Troy should be here soon so don’t hesitate to ask him for anything once he gets here.”

Louis didn’t have the heart to tell Harry he probably wouldn’t ask Troy for help unless he was dying. He couldn’t shake the jealousy he had, especially now that Harry was showing off his true boyfriend potential. Just because he’d said it wasn’t his place to ask Harry to break up with Troy didn’t mean he didn’t secretly hope it would happen naturally over the next couple months, especially once the babies were born.

“Love you, Lou,” Harry said, giving him a gentle kiss on the forehead.

“Love you too. Have fun tonight.” Louis didn’t even have it in his heart to make a subtle innuendo about Harry getting laid. It hurt too much.

He heard the front door click and Louis settled back into his pillow as he pulled up Netflix on Harry’s iPad and started watching the next episode of Parks and Recreation because he needed some feel good comedy in his life. He felt himself dozing off even before the first scene of the episode was over and he let his eyes drift close.

Pain woke him up. Shooting pain that zinged up his spine and down through his legs, making him feel numb and tingly all at the same time. He had no idea how long he had been asleep because the waiting screen on netflix was up, about to auto-start the next episode.

Something like a contraction hit him then and he felt like he was about to convulse. He couldn’t stop himself from screaming as he thrashed out, trying to get his phone. He heard something crash and when he managed to pry open his eyes he saw he’d knocked over the bedside lamp, the picture of his family, and his phone. All of them were now far out of reach.

He took a deep breath as pain shot through him again and he tried to sit up. This wasn’t good. This was not the kind of pain he should be feeling. This was the kind of pain that said something was wrong, wrong, wrong. He needed to get his phone. He needed to let Harry know he wasn’t okay.

Maybe Harry had heard the crash?

But no, he would have come rushing upstairs if that was the case. Louis was probably home alone still.

He needed his phone.

It was hell swinging his legs over the edge of the bed. Before he stood up he shakingly pressed a hand down between his legs, checking for wetness. There was minor relief when he pulled his hand away and it was for the most part dry. No bleeding, no excess water, just sweat probably. His legs didn’t want to work but he used the adrenaline from the next contraction of pain to propel him to his feet. He screamed through it but he managed to stand up.

He braced himself on the edge of his bedside table and tried to bend down to get his phone. His belly got in the way.

“No, no,” he whimpered trying to grab it from where it’d fallen down between the table and the wall. “Come on.”

He tried to pull the table away from the wall but it suddenly felt so heavy. His back screamed at him and he was suddenly reminded why his doctors had been telling him not to do anything as strenuous as lifting even 15 pounds. He’d thought they were being ridiculous but as he felt his back spasm and another contraction hit him he spared a thought for his doctor before he dropped to his knees.

He wrapped a hand around his bump in some attempt to protect it as he tried to ignore the pain in his knees.

“This fucking sucks,” he wheezed.

He took a deep breath, trying to center himself in the calm of everything. He could do this. He was strong enough to push himself up and get his fucking phone. He got his foot flat on the ground, angling it to accommodate his giant belly. It was going to be tough but he could do it.

He tipped backwards. He didn’t know how, but suddenly he felt himself falling backwards with no way to stop himself. He felt a sharp pain in the back of his head as it smacked against the hardwood floor and everything went a little dizzy. His head was throbbing and he weakly reached up to rub where he had hit the floor. His hand came away red. He stared at his hand for a moment, trying to work out why it was red.

Once he realized he let out a blood curdling scream that vaguely resembled Harry’s name..

***

He didn’t remember passing out but he must have because suddenly he was awake and all he heard was beeping. He came to slowly, registering the IV he was hooked up to and the dull throb of his head and the numbness of his stomach and legs. He looked down at his belly, frowning when he saw it wasn’t quite as large as it had been. He reached up to touch it but his hand pulled on the IV and he winced. He looked to his side and couldn’t help but smile. Harry was sitting there, asleep in a chair. He must have come home and found Louis.

Whatever else had happened Louis didn’t know. He just remembered smacking his head on the floor hard enough to bleed and that being what finally scared him. He looked around for the nurse buzzer and his shifting seemed to be enough to draw Harry out of his doze.

“You’re alive,” Harry said, and wasn’t that a weird choice of words?

Louis looked at him and tried to smile. “Of course. Why wouldn’t I be?” Suddenly he frowned. “Are our babies okay?”

Harry shook his head as he grabbed hold of Louis’ hand and Louis’ heart plummeted. “No, no, I just-”

“Harry, what happened to our babies?” Louis’ voice wasn’t strong enough to be sharp but it was close enough.

“I thought I’d lost you.”

“Harry. Our babies. Where are they?”

He could see Harry need to take a moment to collect himself from almost going off on his tangent about Louis. “Neo-natal. They have them in neo-natal. They had to give you a caesarean when we got here. The doctors - they told me I could have lost all three of you.”

Louis needed a moment. “I’d just hit my head though. Even if there was a lot of blood it was a head wound so-”

Harry shook his head. “It was more than that. Something about your red blood cell count and there was apparently something with your lungs and liver and the doctors wouldn’t tell me anything, they just made me sit out in a waiting room for hours. A nurse finally came out and said the babies were as stable as they could get but you weren’t and they weren’t sure you were going to make it. I was so scared I was going to lose you.”

“You didn’t lose me. I’m right here. All in one piece,” Louis said, squeezing his hand.

Harry finally let out a sob, something he had no doubt been holding in all night. “God, I can’t lose you, Lou.” He looked like he was ready to throw himself on Louis if it weren’t for the fact he just got cut open.

“You won’t. Here love, tell me about our babies. Have you been able to see them?”

Harry sniffed and nodded. “Through the window, yeah. God, Lou, they’re so tiny.”

“Yeah? How tiny?”

Harry fished his phone out of his pocket and Louis tsked at him. “I have it on airplane mode. It’s fine. I just, couldn’t remember when the doctor told me so I wrote it down. Iris was 40 centimeters and 3 pounds, and Asher was 38 centimeters and 2 pounds 13 ozs.”

Louis’ heart clenched and he even heard it spike on the monitor. God, that was tiny. He looked at Harry and the only thing he could say was, “but they were huge in my belly.”

Harry laughed, leaning forward so he could rest his forehead on Louis’ and give him a soft kiss. “I love you so much, Lou.”

“I love you too,” Louis said, kissing him back.

They stayed like that until the nurse came in. Louis didn’t recognize her, and then he realized there was a good chance they didn’t make it to his hospital, since it was an emergency. Harry had just gotten him to the closest one. The nurse was friendly as she looked over his vitals and then gave him a more detailed update on what had happened. They were keeping an eye on his liver and they had his blood type on standby if there were any more complications that required a transfusion. It was a lot to wrap his head around.

“Who else is here?” Louis asked once the nurse left.

“The mums. I tried to send them back to our flat but they wouldn’t hear it. I think they’re both sleeping out in a waiting room.”

“Can’t really tell our mums what to do.”

“No you can’t,” Harry said. “Can I get you anything?”

“Our babies,” Louis said and it caused Harry’s smile to fade.

“I would if I could. They’ll be in neo-natal for a couple weeks the nurses said.”

“I know. And it’s not like I can really get up and go in and look at them. At least not for another couple days at least.”

Harry reached up then and stroked Louis’ hair. “I can get you pictures and see how soon you can get wheeled down to see them, okay?”

“I just want to hold my babies, Harry.”

“I know, love, I know.” He gave Louis another kiss. “Very soon, okay?”

***

Very soon wasn’t until the end of the week. Louis was finally discharged from the hospital but he wouldn’t be able to go home with his babies for at least another two weeks if they were very lucky, a month was much more likely. Both of the twins had stabilized in weight and the doctors thought at least Iris (the bigger of the two) would be switched to a nasal cannula within the next couple days. Louis’ breasts had finally started to produce breast milk too which was fun and exciting in theory only, because pumping turned out to be a bitch that frustrated him beyond no belief.

Harry was supportive throughout it all, staying with Louis almost around the clock, only going home to shower and change clothes. He reported daily with updates about their babies, even sneaking Louis some pictures of them and the way he had personalized each of their incubators. Louis may have cried the first time he saw each of them, hooked up to too many wires for their tiny bodies, but they were alive and getting healthier each day.

Louis was wheeled by the NICU as soon as he was discharged. There were far too many babies in there, but as Harry brought him in between Iris and Asher’s incubators he couldn’t think about anything else but these two wonderful beings. He had to stop himself from full on sobbing as Harry parked the wheelchair so he could go around the other side of Asher’s incubator, gently sticking a finger through one of the holes so he could touch his skin.

“Good afternoon my baby boy,” Harry whispered.

Louis looked away towards Iris. Harry had decorated their incubators with gummy stickers spelling out their names and glittery animals. He hesitated for only a moment, taking in the sight of his daughter before he followed Harry’s lead and gently poked a finger in through the incubator hole.

“Hello, my love,” he whispered. “I’m sorry it took me so long to get here, but now that I’m here I don’t think I’m leaving your side.” He stroked the too soft skin of her delicate hand, eyes watering up as he looked at her perfect scrunched up face with her closed eyes. “I love you so much,” he said as he spent more time just looking at her, drinking in every single sight he could.

He only looked up when Harry came around the other side, cooing softly at Iris. “Baby girl,” he said. “Daddy’s back for the second time today.”

Louis smiled and turned his attention to Asher. His tiny son. The incubators were close enough together that he didn’t have to stop touching Iris to reach over and touch Asher. “Hello, baby. You’re so tiny,” he said. It was true. The size difference between the two was still noticeable though hopefully that would even out as they finished developing and putting on weight.

He stroked both of his babies, looking back and forth between them with a fond smile on his face. Everything had been worth it.

Chapter Text

The twins came home on Halloween: two healthy, fussy, breastfeeding little babies who seemed to have no concept of a decent sleep schedule. That would be a work in progress Louis and Harry both were more than happy to handle after a month of them in neo-natal. As his mum always said, he could sleep when he was dead because there was nothing that made it worth missing another moment with his babies.

Louis barely remembered their first month home. He was declared fully recovered from his c-section, it didn’t feel like it sometimes, but even that appointment was seen through a hazy fog of three hours of sleep. Most of his memories went something like:

“Haz, think they’re awake,” Louis said as he rolled out from under Harry’s arm. They had grabbed a full hour of sleep according to his phone that told him it was 6:30am.

“Two more minutes.”

“I’m leaving you the smellier nappie if you don’t get up now.”

Harry groaned but got up with him and padded into the nursery with a tired smile on his face. “What’s all the fuss little one,” Harry said as he picked up Iris. “Did you manage to get your arm out of the blanket?” His voice was soft and quiet and Louis couldn’t help but admire him standing there holding their daughter.

He checked in on Asher, who despite a scrunched up face probably at his sister’s whining, was still asleep. He didn’t dare try and wake him in that case, having learned his lesson their first day home. If Asher wanted to sleep, Asher could sleep. By the time he looked back at Harry he was putting Iris back down, successfully swaddled. He went over and gave her a gentle kiss, relishing the fact he could bend over again. When he stood up Harry wrapped an arm around his waist and held him there.

“I love this, Lou.”

Louis laughed, turning around in his hold. “I love this too. Last month was way too quiet.”

“And too many hospital visits.”

“Way too many hospital visits.”

Harry dipped down and gave him a gentle kiss before leading him back to bed for “a R.E.M. cycle, that’s all we really need before we face the day.”

Harry went back to work part time six weeks after the twins were discharged. He had been doing tired and sporadic youtube videos from their kitchen during the time since the twins’ were born but they featured too many interruptions. His viewers didn’t seem to mind and if they ever managed to catch Louis meandering in the background carrying one of the twins it would be all the comments were about.

It wasn’t until the twins hit four months old that Louis’ brain finally seemed to catch up with reality. Harry and he were co-parenting. They woke up together most days and each took a baby from their crib. While Louis would feed them, Harry would go about making the adult breakfast, something filled with protein and carbs that would give them the energy to go about their day. Harry would head into work after breakfast, giving both the babies and Louis a kiss. He’d only be gone for a few hours, returning with something to cook for dinner that night.

They would go on walks after Harry got home, slow meandering ones around the neighborhood where they’d talk about anything and everything. Harry had a habit of making new friends every time they went out, happily chatting with the other new parents who were doing the same as them. He was always eager to talk about milestones they were looking forward to, or milestones they had passed.

“I love seeing their individual personalities come out,” he told one mother who seemed to be half in love with him even as her husband rolled his eyes behind her back.

“He’s gay,” Louis mouthed, causing the husband to snort and try and hide it in the beanie their baby was wearing.

“Have either of them laughed yet? Will did earlier this week but whenever we try and get him to do it for the camera he refuses. I think he knows,” she said.

“Our girl has, we think our boy is just too serious.”

“I really wonder who he gets that from considering,” Louis muttered as the husband slid next to him.

“The joys of a talkative spouse, am I right?” He asked.

“He’s been like this since we were kids. We used to go on family holidays together and I swear he’d make friends with just about anyone,” Louis said. “And I’m not shy or anything but he’s a natural for it.”

“Lucy’s the same way. How long have you two been together?”

Louis let out a sigh. “Too long it seems.”

“Did you guys marry young or wait?”

“Oh,” he looked at the husband. “We aren’t married.”

He nodded. “Don’t believe in it, I gotcha. I didn’t want to get married either. She dragged me down the aisle, but it wasn’t too bad. Mostly just tax related stuff in the end after all.”

Louis frowned, but he wasn’t going to explain to a stranger - albeit a stranger he walked with every other day - the complications of their relationship. It got him thinking though, and once the thought was in his mind he couldn’t get it out.

What the hell were they?

They had a nice life. It was a simple life and Louis really, really didn’t want to fuck it up with his feelings, but he couldn’t help it. On top of that Harry was kissing him. Not on the cheek. Not on the forehead. They were kissing each other on the lips, and each day the kisses seemed to be getting more and more intimate.

They’d be on the couch at night, a half hour dedicated to themselves after the babies went down, and Louis would find himself making out with Harry on the sofa as if it was okay and normal. And it felt okay. It felt normal because Harry would break the kiss every few moments to whisper against his lips how happy he was and how much he loved Louis and Louis would say it back, because it was true. He was so incredibly happy and he loved Harry so much. He just couldn’t figure out how their relationship had gotten to this point. Was it because Louis had almost died? Was it some post-baby endorphin rush that made Harry insanely amorus?

One night after dinner, as they settled onto the couch, Harry cuddling Iris and Louis burping Asher from his feeding, he finally asked, “I know this is probably really late all things considered, but whatever happened to Troy?”

Harry’s eyes went dark and he frowned down at Iris. “You don’t remember?”

“Remember what?”

Harry sighed. “Troy was there.”

Louis waited for him to go on but when he didn’t he tried to prompt him along with a, “huh?”

“Troy was there in the flat when you started having...whatever. He...he heard you screaming for help and he heard stuff crash but he didn’t do anything to help you. He didn’t text me or call me or call 999.”

“What?”

“He said it was because he thought you were faking. That was always his angle since we moved in together. He thought you were faking how bad the pregnancy was, what your cravings were, how much pain you were in, all to, I don’t know, take advantage of me. I always told him he was full of shit and he’d shut up but yeah. He thought you were screaming for attention. I came home and was gonna come up and see you and he told me you’d finally stopped bitching so you were clearly asleep now and I should let you sleep.” Harry gave Iris a little rock. “I’m so glad I didn’t listen to him. I mean, I wouldn’t have anyway, but just think if I had waited even five more minutes. You were bleeding out on the floor when I came into the room, barely conscious. I may have lost it at that point. I think we officially broke up sometime between me screaming at him to call 999 and me punching him before the ambulance got here.”

“Jesus Christ, Harry,” Louis said. “I’m so sorry.”

“What are you apologizing for? He’s the one who fucked up.”

Louis chewed on that for a moment and then he sighed. “We really dated some fucked up guys while pretending we weren’t still in love with each other didn’t we?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I never pretended I wasn’t still in love with you,” Harry said. “And I don’t think you did either. I always knew it was going to be us. We just took a really roundabout way to get here.”

“Do you seriously think we’re… here? What even is here?” Louis asked.

“Louis,” Harry said, and the way he said his name was so weighted. Like he was trying to convey something and Louis didn’t want to fully get it.

“Is it really that easy?” He asked. “We just, suddenly we’re dating again while raising our children?”

“That’s what we’ve been doing in fairness,” Harry said.

Louis chewed his lip and looked down at Asher. The twins were almost six months old. They’d passed by the year mark since Louis had moved to London earlier this month. Harry wasn’t wrong. Somehow they’d managed to get to this point where they were on their couch, in the flat they shared, with their babies, all without it fully sinking in that they were doing this. “Mum said maybe Iris and Asher were a sign that we shouldn’t be waiting for the right time to finally get together.”

“Mum is a smart lady,” Harry said. “Lou, I have been in love with you since I was thirteen. Having Iris and Asher with you has been the greatest joy in my life and I wouldn’t change them for anything.”

“I wouldn’t either,” Louis agreed. “So, does this mean-”

“Yes, Louis.”

“You didn’t even hear what I had to asked.”

“I just confessed my undying love for you while holding our daughter. I don’t know how much more official we could get?”

“I mean, you could propose to me.”

Harry stared at him for a moment before bursting out laughing. “If that’s what you want I can take you to sign papers tomorrow.”

“I’m holding you to that,” Louis said as he shifted on the couch so he was cuddled up to Harry and Iris. “And don’t think I’m kidding.”

“I never would,” Harry said. He wrapped one arm around Louis’ shoulder as he dropped a kiss on his forehead. “I love you too much.”

“I love you too.”

Chapter Text

Tonight was pizza night. The only reason Louis found himself in the grocery store was because somehow they had managed to run out of flour. Louis didn’t know how since usually Harry kept such good track of their groceries but he couldn’t complain. Not with the state Harry was currently in. He ran down the list he had written once more, making sure he didn’t need anything else from the baking aisle before making his way down towards the freezer section, where he was pretty sure he’d left his husband and children.

He turned his trolley around the corner and immediately bumped into someone.

“Shit, sorry mate,” Louis said, looking up from his phone. “Was checking the list,” his voice trailed off as he came face to face with Chad. “Oh.” He hadn’t seen Chad since he went on maternity leave. By the time he’d gotten back to work Chad had finished his residency and moved hospitals.

“Louis,” Chad said, looking him up and down. “Fancy seeing you here.”

“You too.”

“So, how is everything? Your kids would be almost three now?”

“Just turned three on the twenty-sixth, yeah,” Louis said. “How are you? I didn’t realize you lived around here.”

“I just moved in with…” he trailed off and looked up the next aisle where presumably whoever he just moved in with was walking, “my boyfriend.”

Louis blinked as he saw Troy sidle up next to Chad and put at least eight large cans of soup into their basket. “You two, are dating,” he said, a hint of disbelief in his voice. He supposed he shouldn’t be too surprised though. Chad had said Troy looked like a cheap version of him, after all.

Troy looked up and did a doubletake as he recognized Louis. He immediately looked away, and Louis wondered if he was remembering the last time he saw him. He wondered if Troy had told Chad about that or if it was a secret only the three of them knew.

“Louis,” Troy said, voice quiet.

Louis was proud of himself for not immediately responding with “fuckface.” He was a mature adult with two toddlers who hung on every word he said. He was a role model goddammit. “So did you meet on Grindr or is there a specific group where you can hate fuck your ex’s new boyfriend’s ex? Because if there isn’t I know what I’m setting up when I get home.”

Yeah no, he was still incredibly bitter.

Chad at least had the humor to laugh. “Yeah, it’s kinda funny that we got together, right? It wasn’t intentional, we just kept meeting at the same clubs and well, we knew each other anyway so we got to talking and,” his eyes trailed over to Troy and he was looking at him with such love and adoration it made Louis want to puke. Troy had definitely not told him about leaving Louis for dead.

“Mummy!” Asher squealed as he ran down the main aisle straight for Louis’ hip. Louis grunted as he made contact, and he dropped his hand to give Asher a hug and also provide him some balance.

“Ash, what have I told you about running?”

“Don’t,” he said giving Louis a grin before wrapping him in a hug, as if somehow that would appease him.

Louis looked to the ceiling. “Where’s daddy and Iris?”

“Dunno,” Asher said just as Harry said, “We’re right here.” He came around Chad and Troy holding Iris in his arms and Louis immediately frowned.

“Put her down, you’re not supposed to be lifting that much weight now that you’re so far along.”

Harry let Iris drop out of his arms and she immediately mimicked her brother, clinging to Harry’s upper thigh. They were the spitting image of each other, both with wavy light brown hair and sea green eyes. They had Louis’ lips and Harry’s nose, with round faces that looked almost exactly like Harry’s did when he was a baby.

“It’s not like you to make friends, Lou,” Harry said as he looked up and his eyes settled on Chad and then Troy. His face immediately darkened when he saw Troy and his hand dropped protectively around Iris’ shoulder. “Oh. You.”

Troy shrank behind Chad who gave him a strange look before looking back at Harry, eyes on his bump. “So, you two are having more kids?”

“Harry decided to carry this time, yeah,” Louis said. He didn’t think Chad or Troy needed to know that the reason Harry was carrying was because there was a good chance he’d have the same complications he had with the twins, even if they managed a single birth. He almost wanted to say it though, make Troy feel even guiltier.

“We really need to get home, Lou,” Harry said, still glaring daggers into Troy.

“This pizza won’t make itself, no.”

“Pizza!” Iris and Asher both cheered together.

“Good to see you two again,” Louis said smiling at Chad. “Hopefully everything will work out for you.”

“Thanks!” Chad said. “Good luck with baby number three.”

Harry held out his hand to shake. “Nice to see you, Chad.” If Chad noticed he didn’t address Troy at all he didn’t make a comment about it.

Louis wondered if it would come up in their conversation later, but then he realized he really didn’t care. He shuffled Asher towards the checkout line and pulled Harry to his side. “You alright?”

“I almost punched a man in Tesco but I think I’m fine,” Harry said.

“Would have made some great headlines,” Louis said, pulling Harry down for a quick kiss. “It’s fine. I’m healthy. Our two little menaces are healthy, and baby Tommo is healthy.”

“We agreed we’d keep their last names as Styles,” Harry said with a teasing whine.

“As father I reserve the right-”

“I thought we’d also agreed for the ease of our two eldest you’d stay mummy.”

Louis rolled his eyes. They weren’t actually that preoccupied with the traditional roles some people tried to force on them. They were quick to correct strangers who assumed Harry was the twins mother, and they both had agreed they were probably going to end being some weird mix of mum and dad to all of their children, even if Harry was going to technically mother any other ones they had just for Louis’ own safety.

It wasn’t like anyone else’s opinion mattered to them anyway. They had each other. That was the important thing.