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Try To Remember

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December 20

As soon as Louis sits in his seat on the train leaving the South Bermondsey station, dumping his large duffel bag beside him, he feels his entire body relax and lose the tension that it’s been holding all day, maybe all month. School is over; he’s blissfully free from students hounding him with questions about their exams, and from the pressure that he’s put on himself this term to be one of the best and most respected teachers at his school. Louis is starting his journey home to his mother’s house for his birthday, Christmas and the New Year holiday. He’s looking forward to sleeping in, even if it is on the fold out sofa bed in the den, and being pampered by his mum. Visions of pot roasts, gingerbread and pots of freshly brewed tea float in his head as he makes his way north on the train.

Louis changes trains at the London Bridge tube station to get on the Victoria line that stops in Euston station where he will get on the railway train going north to Cheshire where his childhood home, his mum, step dad, and all six of his younger siblings await his arrival. Louis has been staring blankly out of the window of the train, zoning out a little as he occasionally people watches each time the train pulls into a new underground station, but as the train stops at the King’s Cross station someone catches his eye. The man is nothing short of beautiful, wearing a simple gray suit that seems like it’s been specifically and hand-lovingly tailored to his fit body. He has a black wool coat thrown casually over one arm with a navy leather bag hanging off one shoulder and carrying two shopping bags in his other hand. Louis can’t place why the handsome man seems familiar to him, especially the way he holds himself and his slightly pigeon-toed walk, but it’s nagging him. The man doesn’t get on his train car and Louis doesn’t see where he entered the train, so sits back in his seat and faces the fact that he probably won’t see the man ever again. He’s only got one more stop before gets off this Victoria line train.

************************************************

 

London’s Euston station is a nightmare. At least that’s how Harry always feels whenever he has to fight his way through the crowd of commuters and travelers making their way to the one of the hundreds of railway trains that intersect there. Getting from the theater from Holbort on the tube on the Picadilly line to King’s Cross had been a breeze, but ever since getting on that Victoria line train Harry feels a little suffocated from all of the people around him and can feel his mild panic disorder kicking in. He can’t quite shake the feeling that someone is staring at him, but when he tries to surreptitiously look around to see if he can catch anyone’s eyes, there’s no one even paying a little bit of attention to him. Harry rolls his eyes inwardly, chastising himself for being so vain as to think he was garnering any notice. He considers for a moment going up to the street level and finding a café; waiting out the rush hour crowd and taking a later train. But he then remembers that his mother is picking him up from the station and will be miffed if he arrives later than originally scheduled.

So he makes his way toward the train that will take him north to Cheshire for the Christmas holidays and for his sister Gemma’s wedding. Harry’s looking forward to the break, and he knows he’s lucky that the theater was able to let him take these two weeks off considering they’re in the middle of casting the new Jack the Ripper musical that will be opening in the spring. Just as Harry sees the train he’s looking for, he catches sight of a man hurrying along the platform whose figure and walk brings memories from over a decade past, into Harry’s mind. He speeds his steps up trying not to lose sight of the light chestnut haired stranger, who has the straps of a large duffel bag around his shoulders, so that he’s wearing it like a backpack. Harry finds this detail endearing for some reason and it only spurs his body into taking faster steps to get closer to the man in order to see his face.

Harry sees the man hop up the steps of the last train car of the train he’s supposed to be getting on as well to head north to his childhood home. Harry’s habit is usually to sit in one of the middle cars, because it’s closer to the depot when the train stops in Adlington station, but he supposes getting onto the last car won’t be too bad; he’ll be closer to the parking lot and more importantly he’ll be able to finally check out his mystery man up close. Harry crosses his fingers that the man will be on the train for at least the 2 hours that Harry will be traveling. Just as Harry is nearing the second to last train car he hears the whistle and a conductor behind him call out ‘All aboard’. Harry panics a little, chastising himself for almost missing his train home for Christmas in pursuit of some phantom boy who probably isn’t anyone worth the trouble. He stumbles as he starts to run and nearly drops his leather duffel bag and the bag holding his Christmas gifts, and rights himself in time and is just able to grab onto one of the train car door handles and haul himself inside the train as it starts to leave the station. Harry takes a moment to catch his breath and let the adrenaline and the embarrassed flush of his cheeks settle before gathering himself and his things and making his way through the train car towards the end of the train.

Harry walks through the crowded train car, heading to the last car and begins to worry that he won’t be able to find a seat and will end up not only looking foolish, but also having to walk all the way back again through the train. With some difficulty he’s able to slide the door open for the last car and once again finds his clumsy nature and feet betraying him as he practically falls into car, causing several people’s heads to whip up and turn his way, including the shapely pate of the man that Harry had been following. As soon as Harry sees the man’s face he feels his own break into a large smile. Harry knows this face; he used to spend hours and hours staring at this face; nights dreaming of this face. It’s a face that broke his heart a little; a face he hasn’t seen in a decade. A face that’s just as beautiful now as it was then. The face belonging to Louis Tomlinson; his teenage crush, and the first boy he ever wanted to kiss.

******************************************************

Louis is reading the book his sister gave him last year for his birthday that he never got around to even cracking open until a couple of days ago when Fizzy told him that she wanted to discuss it with him while he was home for winter break. It’s a series of philosophical essays on love and science and he’s afraid to admit that it’s a little over his head. He smiles and shakes his head thinking about his smart younger sister whose is only 20 and already has so much of her life figured out. He’s just beginning a new chapter when he hears the door at the front end of the train car slide open with a bang, and a man and his gangly limbs stumble into the car, nearly wiping out in the aisle. Louis holds back a snorting giggle when he realizes that it’s the fit guy in the suit that he’d been ogling at King’s Cross station. Louis sits up straighter and tries not to stare at the extremely attractive man walking down the aisle of the train towards him. He tries and fails. And now the man has caught his eye and is staring back. Louis feels as if he’s locked in a tractor beam. Does he know this Adonis? The man does feel familiar but Louis can’t quite place him. And then the man smiles; it’s the dimples and the sparkling green eyes that give him away. Louis can feel his face light up in recognition as the man comes to a stop next to his seat.

“Harry?”

“Yes, Louis. It’s me.”

********************************************************

There’s an awkwardness immediately following the elation that Louis feels, seeing Harry for the first time in over ten years. Louis isn’t sure what to do – with his eyes, as they dart across Harry’s beautiful face, bouncing from his cheeks to his jawline to his gorgeous green eyes; with his mouth, which goes from a shocked ‘O’ to a large grin, back to a slack gape of awe; or with his hands, which grip the rail of the seat in front of him, then reach out towards Harry as if to make sure he’s real. Finally, Louis stands and turns slightly in his seat to quickly and boldly pull Harry into an embrace. He’s not sure why he’s surprised when Harry drops the bags he was holding and returns the embrace, pulling Louis around to face him and into an even stronger and longer hold.

“Harry. I can’t believe it. How…how on earth…how are you, mate?” Louis asks into the soft wool of Harry’s overcoat with choked laughter.

Harry pulls back and smiles down at Louis (and when did Harry grow so tall anyway?). “I’m doing well. I can’t believe it’s you. I saw you getting on this train and I wasn’t positive but I just knew I knew you and I had to make sure.”

Louis smiles at this revelation and wonders if he should confess that he saw Harry before on the train platform too. Then the ticket-taker enters their train car to collect and stamp tickets and abruptly their little bubble is burst and Louis takes in the scene around them. There’s Harry blocking a good portion of the aisle with his bags and just the “Harry-ness” of him; his large smile unwavering, as he stands with his hands on his hips. The three teen boys sat across from him who are looking at him and Harry with bored and rather annoyed faces. There’s the woman sitting in front of Louis with her headphones on and her hand decidedly on her bags in the seat next to her, already signaling that she isn’t going to let anyone sit next to her. And then there’s the woman sitting behind Louis, who has been brazenly eavesdropping the entire time he and Harry have stood there talking. She catches Louis’ eye and smiles, and then stands and moves out of her seat indicating that Harry should take it. Harry smiles and thanks her as she moves a couple of rows back to another seat, and moves out of the aisle, placing his shopping bags under the seat and his leather bag on the seat next to him. Louis settles back down onto his seat, this time sitting with his back against the window and his legs propped up on his duffel while Harry faces him and rests his arms on the back of Louis’ seat.

They share smiles and both begin to speak at once; Harry stops and indicates that Louis should continue. He waits until the conductor has taken their tickets until he asks the question that’s been on his tongue since seeing Harry’s smiling face in front of him.

“Do you live in London? I thought you were still in America becoming a huge Broadway star?”

“Yeah…about that. I pretty much crashed and burned in the States. Came back to England with my tail between my legs almost 5 years ago now.” Harry gives Louis a chagrined look and the prettiest blush appears on his cheeks. Louis’ fingers itch to reach over and touch Harry’s peach-tinged skin.

“But I thought…I mean, you got that lead role in that Broadway musical? You got to work with Jason Robert Brown! That’s a big deal; it must’ve meant something.” Louis looks incredulously at Harry, who only turns his face away and heaves a heavy sigh.

After a few seconds of silence, Harry leans forward and places his folded arms on the back of Louis’ seat and rests his chin there. “When I got to New York everything seemed possible. I had the scholarship to Tisch, and everyone seemed to want me, to love me. NYU was…it was really good to me; maybe a little too good to me. I got an inflated ego; I thought it was all going to happen for me. If I wanted it enough, I thought it would be handed to me on a silver platter.”

Louis interrupts him, because it’s hard for him to correlate the Harry he knew with what he’s describing. “But Harry, that’s not…I can’t imagine you being egotistical. You were always the sweetest person I knew. I was always the cocky one, yeah?”

Harry barks out a laugh, quickly covering his mouth. “Oh Lou, thank you. That’s sweet. But NYU and Tisch definitely changed me. In New York I wasn’t silly femme Harry with his goofy curly hair, and his baby fat, and his uncoordinated clumsy body. Overnight it was like the Manhattan air transformed me. I grew three inches in one year and grew into my feet. I was taking dance lessons and fencing lessons which replaced the chub with muscles, and my clumsiness with a little grace. Throw in a British accent and my burgeoning sexual awakening, and I was suddenly very popular. I was everybody’s favorite. It was a drug that I wasn’t prepared to find to enticing.”

“You were always my favorite person, Harry.” Louis shares with a small smile.

“You were my favorite person too, Louis.” Harry’s smiles back at Louis. 

“Not to get too deep but, you were the first reason that I knew that I was gay. You made me feel accepted and brave. Not so alone.”

“I made you feel brave?" Louis looks at Harry, shocked. "I felt like such a coward because I could never say the words - I am gay. It was something that most people knew or guessed, I suppose. But it was unspoken. My parents knew but like my dad refused to speak about it. And at school it was okay to be the flamboyant kid that loved to sing and act as long as I was still a great defender on the football field.”

“Well call it an unspoken rule or whatever, you were allowed to be yourself and be popular. You were special. And anyone in your orbit got to feel special too.”

Harry continues, “So there I was the hot new thing, and I thought I had it all ahead of me. And I got the role of Michael in “Bridges of Madison County”; a real, high-profile Broadway show with a high profile composer and Tony-award winning stars. But the show got tepid reviews and closed within two months. And it was like a bubble had burst; I couldn’t find any other parts, auditions went lousy for me, and I was living in a crappy apartment that my step-father was paying half of the rent for, while I worked in a piano bar in the West Village to get by. I wasn’t happy at all. And after 4 and a half years, I missed home for the first time since I’d left.” Louis nods in understanding, “I changed focus from performance to production aspects of musical theater, and that led me back to England and what I’m currently doing.”

“And what are you currently doing? It must be something successful, that’s a fancy suit you’re wearing there, Harold.” Louis teases.

“Oh shush. I save up to buy nice things, and will also cop to the fact that I have a close friend named Zayn who works for British GQ and he gives me hand offs from their photoshoot closet because I can usually fit the sample sizes.” Louis gives him an inscrutable look, “my lavish appetite for clothes is indulged this way.”

Harry continues, “But my career is working as a dramaturg for the Aldwych Theatre in the West End.”

“Wow, Harry. That’s very cool. That sounds so exciting. It’s funny because I’ve taken several of my students to the Aldwych for seminars and workshops. It’s weird that we never ran into each other.”

“Are you a teacher then?” Harry asks, and Louis responds with a nod.

“I teach Drama and Theatre Studies for year 7 and 6th form students at City of London Academy. I’ve been there about three years.”

“Wait, I think my step-niece goes to City of London. Nell, do you know her?”

“I do, actually. She was in one of my classes last term.” Louis shakes his head in disbelief.

“I bet you’re a wonderful teacher, Louis. You were always so patient with other kids and always so good with teaching your sisters. How are they by the way?”

“My sisters are doing well. Oh! and since I’ve seen you last, I have another sister, and a brother! My mum remarried about eight years ago and had another set of twins if you can believe it. Doris and Ernest.”

“Oh Louis, more twins. I wish I’d known them as babies, I bet they were adorable. I remember how cute Daisy and Phoebe were when they were little.”

Louis can see hearts in Harry’s eyes; he’d forgotten how much Harry loves babies. “Yeah, Ernie and Doris are pretty adorable. And they know it. They get away with far too much.”

“How’s your sister then?” Louis asks.

“Gemma’s great. In fact, she’s getting married in about a week. A lavish ceremony on New Year’s Eve.” Harry rolls his eyes.

“That’s great. What’s with the eye roll? Is Gemma a right bridezilla? I can actually see that quite clearly.” Louis says with a hearty laugh.

Harry giggles and rolls his eyes again, “She hasn’t been that bad actually. Just a little bossy about what she wants me to do at the ceremony and reception and who she wants me to bring to the wedding.”

“Who she wants you to bring?” Louis questions, internally hoping and praying that Harry doesn’t have some amazing boyfriend or husband he’s yet to tell him about.

“It’s complicated. I was dating this guy earlier this year. It was going well…until it wasn’t. I of course gushed about him to Gem and mum and Gemma demanded that I invite and bring him to the wedding. And after I broke it off with the guy; another relationship that I’d failed at; another man that I couldn’t seem to keep interested past five or six months; I never told my family that I’d ended it with John. Soooo, they’re kind of, definitely expecting him to be at the ceremony with me. Instead it’ll just be sad-sack singleton Harry.”

“Oh, Harry”, Louis frowns concerned, “there’s no way I’d categorize you as a sad-sack singleton. You’re wonderful.”

“How do you know? You haven’t seen me in ten years. And believe me, I’m still the same dweeb I was in primary and secondary school.”

“Well you were the cutest and fittest dweeb I ever knew.” Louis gives him a bashful smile.

“No Louis, that honor went to you.” Harry responds in kind.

“You thought I was a dweeb?” Louis asks in mock shock.

Harry guffaws. “No! You were cute and fit! The most of anyone I knew.” Harry looks down in his lap, embarrassed.

They’re both silent for a minute, and then Harry tries to break the awkwardness by joking. “Anyway, here it is a week before the wedding and I don’t have a man, or a date for this wedding. I wish I could hire a wedding date like Debra Messing did in that one rom-com? Dylan McDermot? That would solve a lot of my problems.”

“It was Dermot Mulroney.” Louis corrects, and when Harry looks like he’s going to argue, Louis puts his hand up. “Trust me. If it’s about a romantic comedy film, I know the correct answer. It’s my superpower.”

Harry laughs and gives Louis an endeared smile. “Hey, didn’t that movie take place in England somewhere? You don’t think they actually have that kind of dating service do you?”

“Uh, it’s called an escort service? And I’m sure they have them in London. But please spare me Harry. There’s no way you have to resort to hiring an escort. You can put your thumb out and all the boys would come running, I’m sure.”

Harry blushes with the compliment and rolls his eyes again. “Right.”

Louis taps Harry's arm lightly. “But speaking of needing a wedding date, one of my best friends is getting married in a couple of months on Valentine’s Day, and she’s basically forbidden me to come to the ceremony without a man on my arm. I’m going to have to disappoint her though. There’s no way I’m going to find someone to start dating and have it be serious enough that they’d be willing to fly thousands of miles to Jamaica and spend a bunch of money on a destination wedding.” Louis relaxes further into his seat pulling his coat up around him like a blanket.

“Well that’s a coincidence. My best friend is also getting married in Jamaica in February. We’re going down a week early to also celebrate my birthday.” Harry frowns, a little confused.

“That is a weird coincidence…wait…your friend wouldn’t happen to be Perrie Edwards would it?”

“Yes!” Harry sits up straight with a shock. “How did you…? Hold on, are you friends with Jesy?” Harry feels his jaw fall open with shock.

“Oh for fuck’s sake, what are the odds?” Louis laughs and shakes his head in disbelief. “Yes, Jesy is my best girlfriend. We met at a drama teacher’s conference in Brighton a few years ago. She’s a gas; we get on like firecrackers. She and I get together almost weekly to compare horrors in teaching, Abs Cross Academy vs. Cof L. Jesy is a great one to hang with and take the piss. Perrie is so sweet you know, not a judgmental bone in her body, so Jesy definitely appreciates having someone to gripe about the neighbors, or her sisters, or Perrie’s sisters!” Louis and Harry both laugh at that.

“I seriously can’t believe that you and I are best friends with women who are engaged to be married and who are basically always together, and yet we’ve not seen or bumped into each other! How have our names never come up?” Harry’s jaw hangs open in shock.

“Well, now that you say that, I feel like Perrie has talked about a Harry a bunch of times. How was I to know that it was you? And Jesy’s nickname for me is ‘Chav’, she rarely calls me Louis or Lou.”

“Chav? That’s…that’s a little insulting isn’t it?” Harry tries to hide the shock on his face by feigning a cough.

“Oh, I guess. But not with us. I mean, I definitely didn’t have the poshest life growing up. My family’s all Yorkshire working class. Very chav you know. I know the term is derogatory, but I find it pretty endearing, especially from Jes.” Louis gives a small smile to Harry to let him know it’s okay to joke about the whole thing. He can already see why Harry and Perrie are best friends. They’re both too nice for their own good.

“So you’re going to Jamaica too? I won’t be able to go down as early as the girls want because of school. And I need to save a bunch of vacation days for a big trip to Portugal that’s happening July with some of my mates.”

“Ooh I love Portugal.” Harry’s eyes gleam like he has some good stories to tell of times there.

“Well, part of the trip is planned but I’d love to hear some of your suggestions of places to go and things to see.”

For the next two hours, Louis and Harry catch each other up on their lives, specifically about what they’ve been doing most recently. They continue to find little coincidences and shared narratives in their lives and truly can’t believe that they haven’t run into each other before today. They both express how happy they are that it happened. Neither wants to admit how this short time together has made them realize how much they each have missed the other.

As they approach the Stockport station where they need to change trains to go to Cheshire, Harry is standing in the aisle next to Louis’ seat, regaling Louis, and really the handful of passengers around them, with memories of their 6th year production of “The Fantastiks”, imitating with perfect accuracy the gruff mannerisms of their drama teacher, Mr. Morton, and making Louis laugh hysterically in remembrance.

“Harry stop, stop.” Louis wheezes through a laugh, “I can’t breathe, I’m laughing too hard.”

Harry laughs but bows and indulges Louis by sitting back down in his seat. “I tease, Louis, but in all seriousness? You singing “Try to Remember” is one of my favorite memories from school; from growing up full stop. You were so earnest; so beautiful.” Harry realizes what he’s just said, what he has admitted and blushes furiously, looking away from Louis. Harry’s words make Louis feel warm and special; like Harry is casting a shimmering light inside his heart. Louis feels himself blush and smile with the compliment.

“Harry, thank you. I…that might be the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me. I wish…um…I wish you’d told me back when we were 16. It was all I cared about really, your opinion of me.” Now it’s Louis’ turn to look away. He tries to lighten the mood. “You know, now that I’m a teacher, I realize that Mr. Morton wasn’t that bad. We were all truly awful to him; no wonder he was always cross with us.”

Harry smiles and nods in understanding and is just about to reply when an announcement comes through the speaker overhead.

“Attention passengers connecting to the 8:45pm train to Northwich and Chester. We’ve been notified of an obstruction on the tracks so there will be a delay of over an hour. Affected passengers have the option of taking the 8:30pm train to Stoke on Kent and then another transfer to the Liverpool line with stops in Chester, or waiting in Stockport station until the tracks are cleared.”

Groans could be heard up and down the train car and Louis looks to Harry and shrugs with indecision. “What are you going to do Harry? There’s nothing I’m particularly doing tonight and either way I can tell Lottie to pick me up late, or at a different station. Whatever you want to do, I’ll go along.”

Harry smiles feeling happy that Louis wants to continue traveling and hanging out with him this evening. He knows he has an early day tomorrow with his mom, so he muses over which option would get him home faster, although truthfully he wouldn’t mind hanging with Louis and catching up, drowning in the deep pools of his beautiful, long-lashed blue eyes. He can’t believe that he’d forgotten how blue Louis’ eyes are.

“I say we wait out the delay in Stockport. Whatever is happening with the track can’t possibly take that long to fix, and going miles out of the way to Stoke on Kent seems silly. And anyway, my mum and your sister would have to drive to a different station that’s totally out to the way. Are you up for it?”

“Up for it, Harry.” Louis easily agrees and gives Harry a wink.

They settle on a padded bench inside the Stockport station and wait for their train. They continue to catch each other up on their lives, describing their apartments and why they each feel that they’re lucky to live where they do in London. They make tentative plans for meals at each other’s place and talk more about Jesy and Perrie’s upcoming wedding. Within thirty minutes their train is able to head out and they each text their family to tell them that they’re on their way.

Harry and Louis are quiet on the short ride into Cheshire. They share smiles and comfortable silence, but can’t help but look at each other the entire ride. By the time they reach Adlington Station and they’re parting ways with quick hugs and lingering looks, each other’s phone numbers entered into their phones, and a warm feeling in their hearts.

Chapter Text

Louis: Sorry texting so late. Hope I didn’t wake u

I don’t have plans for NYE so how ‘bout I be

the Dermot Mulroney to your Debra Messing for

Gem’s wedding?

Within seconds Louis sees the three dots indicating that Harry was responding back to him. He can’t stop the smile that begins to spread across his face, and hopes that Harry won’t turn him down or think his offer too weird.

Harry: Would you really????

Louis: Happy to do it

Harry: Oh Lou, that would be amazing

I’d owe you big!

Louis: Great. So what are the details?

Harry: Deatails?

Louis: You know like where is the wedding? What time?

Should I wear a suit? I think I have one here somewhere

Hope it still fits…

Harry: Oh! LOL of course

The wedding is in Scotland on NYE night

But we’ll have to go up the morn of the 30 th

I’ll drive us up in mum’s car.

We’ll have to leave fairly early on the 30 th

Hope you don’t mind early mornings?

Louis: I’m used to early mornings

As long as I have some hot tea ☺

Scotland huh?

Harry: Yeah some posh place that Gem’s fiancé knows the owners of

Louis: I’ll pay for my own room when we get there

Harry: You don’t have to do that

You’re doing ME a favor

Transport and lodging on me!

Louis: K

Oh, I forgot I have to be back in London on the 1 st

Harry: Oh…

So you can’t go after all?

Louis: No! I can still be your date

I’ll just have to change my train ticket to leave

from whatever station is closest to the wedding locale

Shouldn’t be a prob.

Doesn’t matter when I get back on the 1 st as long as I do

Harry: oh, great

Well, I’ll let you get your rest

THANK YOU SO MUCH <3

Louis: No problem, Harry.

Happy to help you out. It’ll be fun.

Harry: xoxo

 

Louis plugs his phone back into its charger and turns on his side, bringing the comforter up to his ear and nestling into his makeshift bed, and falling asleep thinking about green eyes and dimpled smiles.

The next morning, Louis wakes to two 8yr olds jumping on the pull-out couch bed and causing the springs to creak audibly. Louis feels the breath leave his lungs as his youngest sister and brother crush him with hugs and kisses to his cheeks.

“Guys, hold on don’t smother me! I can’t breathe you monkeys!” Louis says with a laugh trying to twist away from small hands attempting to tickle him.

“Achoo, wake up.” Doris with her head full of red curls chastises her oldest sibling. “It’s time for breakfast.”

“Yeah Achoo, mummy made pancakes and she says we can’t eat until you’re up. So get up!”

Louis brushes his brother Ernie’s blond bangs off of his forehead and pokes his thumb at his pouty face, trying to get him to smile.

“Mum won’t give you pancakes unless I eat some too? Well then let’s go!” Louis flips his youngest siblings over onto the bed and proceeds to tickle them, causing a raucous set of giggles to erupt from the twins. Doris and Ernest squeal in protest until Louis lets them up. The twins go running off towards the kitchen and Louis gets up from the couch bed and stretches, feeling his back twinge in protest. Louis isn’t sure how many more nights he was going to be able to handle sleeping on this couch bed. Then he remembers that he’ll be going with Harry to Scotland in a couple of days and he smiles. He unplugs his phone and starts to head toward where he can hear the voices of the rest of his family when his phone rings. He looks down and sees that it’s Harry and answers it with a smile already breaking onto his face.

“Good morning, Harry.”

“Louis! I hope I didn’t wake you.” Louis hears what sounds like Harry sliding open a door and stepping outside before he continues in a more whispered voice. “So, I think I fucked up.”

“How did you do that, Harry?”

“I…well…I might have told my mum that you’re my boyfriend?”

“Oh.” Louis isn’t sure what to say.

“I know! I know you agreed to go to this thing as only my platonic date, but see, I had already told everyone that I was bringing my long-time boyfriend and when I told mum last night about you she totally assumed that you were the guy that I told her about 6 months ago. Ugh! Sorry. And I didn’t correct her…she was so excited… and then it was too late to do so. I’m sorry. Are you still there, Louis?”

“Yeah, I’m here. I…Um, well, what does this mean? What do I have to do?”

“Oh gee..I…I don’t even know, Louis. I’ve mucked this entire thing up. I don’t know what to do.”

“Wait, Harry. C’mon love, you haven’t mucked anything up. So you told your mum that you’ve been secretly dating me. The only thing that’s really different from our original plan is that everyone will be under the assumption that we’ve been in a relationship for half a year. It’s a little tricky because Anne and Gems know me…”

“Ugh, I’m sorry Lou. I’ve always been the absolute worse liar. I should probably fess up now.”

“No, wait. We can make this work, I’m sure of it. The biggest hurdle is coming up with a believable answer to the inevitable question – why didn’t we tell our mothers, because now that I think about it your mum is definitely going to call up mine if she hasn’t already, about the fact that we were dating?”

“Ummm…because we wanted to keep things private?”

“No, that won’t work for me, I tell my mum everything, and she knows it. But I could probably get away with saying that you asked me not to tell anyone. But why would you do that?”

“Oh! What about work? Could we say that we were keeping it secret because we didn’t want you being accused of favoritism with Nellie?”

“Yeah, that might work. Nell isn’t in any of my classes anymore, but I suppose our families don’t know that. Mum is still going to pester me, but maybe I can say that I didn’t think she’d remember who you were.”

“You think Jay could forget me?” Harry asks in a shocked voice.

“No, of course not. You? The nicest, sweetest, most helpful boy, who she never let a chance go by to comment on your manners and compare you to me? Not likely, but I’ll take the heat for this lie.”

Harry giggles and then sighs. “Louis, thank you so much for doing all of this for me. It’s so silly really; but I hate disappointing my family. And mum right now doesn’t need another thing to be sad about. Going through the holidays and this whole wedding weekend without Robin is already hard enough for her.”

“Harry really, it’s no problem. And hey, I get a nice little getaway to Scotland, and better plans for New Year’s Eve than I’ve had in ages.”

“You’re a life saver, you really are. Oh and hey! Happy birthday, it’s coming up soon isn’t it?”

“Yes, it’s tomorrow. I can’t believe you remembered.”

“Of course, I’m not daft. We were just talking about our birthdays yesterday in the train station, remember?”

Louis could hear the teasing smile that surely was on Harry’s face. “Oh yeah. Well thank you anyway. I’ll see you next week. Have a wonderful Christmas with your family and we’ll talk more about logistics and details in a few days.”

“That sounds good. Happy Christmas to you and yours, Louis.”

“Happy Christmas, Harry.”

Chapter Text

Christmas week flies by for Louis in a flurry of Christmas Eve and birthday parties, an actual snowy white Christmas day with his family in front of a warm fire with delicious food and the joy of his siblings, especially his two youngest ones who probably won’t believe in Santa after this year, opening presents and getting excited about their gifts. He’s just finishing tucking in Doris and Ernie on Boxing Day night when he feels his phone vibrate in his back pocket. He takes it out as he closes their bedroom door and sees that it’s a call from Harry. Louis quietly steps into his mothoer and stepfather’s empty bedroom for some privacy and answers the call.

“Hi Harry. Did you have a good Christmas and Boxing Day?”

“I did, thank you. And you, Louis?”

“It was pretty great. But if I’m being honest I’m looking forward to our little adventure coming up. I don’t know if it’s the subterfuge of it all or because I’m looking at it as an acting exercise, but I’m excited.”

“Well I’m glad one of us is. I’ve been a nervous wreck. I’m pretty sure Gemma knows that I’m lying. And mum is just over-the-top happy and it’s making me feel guilty. Did you know that she called Jay?”

“Yes, I know. I told you that we should expect that it would happen. My mum of course grilled me about having a boyfriend and not telling her. Especially not telling her it’s you. I reminded her that I don’t tell her everything about my love life, and that I didn’t think she’d remember you. And as suspected, I got a chewing out for it, but now we’re golden. Suspicions avoided!”

“I just want this whole weekend to be over with already. I hate lying. I’m not built for it. It gives me a nervous stomach and I can’t eat.”

Louis can practically feel Harry’s nervous tension through his phone. He thinks for a second and decides to try something. “Harry, hang up. I’m going to ring you again through FaceTime.” Louis doesn’t even wait for Harry’s answer, only hangs up and dials Harry through the FaceTime app. Harry answers mid eye-roll, looking exacerbated. Louis sees the worry and strain affecting Harry’s pretty face.

“Harry, look at me.” Louis waits until Harry’s bright green eyes focus on him. “We’ve got this. This weekend is going to be aces, trust me. We only have to make it through one rehearsal dinner, the wedding ceremony and the recept…”

“Don’t forget the wedding brunch on New Year’s day.” Harry interrupts morosely, sounding more than a little like Eeyore.

“And yes sorry, also the New Year’s brunch. But that’s 4 things. Just four functions that we’ve got to make it through as a couple. We can do this. I for one am looking forward to it. I can’t think of a nicer person to spend a weekend with.” Louis smiles wide and feels triumphant when Harry finally smiles back.

***************************************************************

December 30 -

The early morning dawns cold and gray. It’s been months since Louis has been up this early, and he doesn’t think he’s ever been awake this early on a Saturday except on those occasions when he’s been coming home from a late night out. He looks wistfully at his sweatpants and hoodie lying on the couch. He wants nothing more than to be warm and comfy in them right this moment but knows that it probably wouldn’t make too good an impression on Harry’s family, so instead he’s wearing his reliable “teacher clothes”; navy, twill flat-front trousers, and a white button down shirt with a navy cashmere jumper over it. Louis picks up the garment bag that’s lying over the desk chair containing his suit, and swings the leather overnight bag that he borrowed from his stepfather over his shoulder and quietly makes his way outside to wait for Harry.

Harry pulls up a few minutes later in a gorgeous, black Audi coupe that seems to perfectly fit him. He hops out of the car, way too chipper for Louis’ liking and helps him place his bags in the boot of the car.

“You look so tired, Louis.”

“I am that. It’s not even 6 in the bloody morning, Harold.” Louis groans out and makes his way to the passenger door.

“I’m sorry we have to get such an early start, but it’s an 8 hour drive.”

“Where the hell is Plockton in Scotland anyway?” Louis knows that he sounds like a grumpy brat, but he can’t help it. He hasn’t had enough tea!

“Plockton’s way up on the west coast in the Highlands. It’s supposed to be beautiful; romantic even.” Louis looks over at Harry as he practically whispers those last two words and he sees a soft blush appear on Harry’s cheeks.

“Well, I can’t wait to see it then.” Louis reaches out and places his hand on the one that Harry has on the steering wheel and squeezes and he sees Harry blush again.

They make their way onto the M6 and head north. As they drive through the Yorkshire Dales, they stop at a shop so that Harry can get a coffee and Louis some Yorkshire tea and scones for them both. Fortified they continue north through the Lake District, past Dumfries and onto the A74. Harry plays DJ at first, playing a mix of Arcade Fire, The 1975, Artic Monkeys, and Radiohead. But a few hours into the trip he asks Louis to take over with their music selections. Louis plugs his phone into the auxiliary cable starts playing the Stone Roses. He and Harry sing along and Louis can’t remember the last time he felt as relaxed.

“The Stone Roses! I haven’t listened to them in over a decade probably. I remember you playing “Made of Stone” over and over again. It will forever remind me of you, Louis.”

“I guess I did kind of wear their albums out. Especially the first one. God, was I really such an insufferable git in school, Harry?” Louis laughs and shakes his head with embarrassment.

“No! I loved it. Your passion for it. Do you still have that Stone Roses t-shirt that you wore at every opportunity?” Harry asks with a teasing smile.

“You remember that thing?! I had it all through university. Finally had to get rid of the old thing, it was so tattered. And I don’t know why you’re teasing me about my shirt. What about that Rolling Stones tee from your dad that you wore all the time!” Louis retorts.

“Ha ha I actually still own that Stones t-shirt. I still wear it!” Harry crows in reply.

“How? How is that thing still a functional piece of cotton? It had so many holes in it ten years ago!”

“I hand wash it. And the bigger holes and tears I have held together with safety pins.” Harry proudly tells Louis with a nod of his head.

Louis cackles with laughter. “Oh my god, Harold! I can’t wait to see it. Please promise that you’ll bring it to Jamaica for Jes and Perrie’s wedding.”

“I just might.” Harry smirks.

As the Stone Roses album comes to an end, Louis pauses his Spotify and scrolls through some of his playlists. He slides his eyes to look at Harry who isn’t paying any attention to him, instead focusing on the road as they merge onto the M80.

“Harry? I’ve been valiantly singing along to your hipster music and trying to be cool by playing my Stone Roses, but what I really want to do is sing show tunes with you. Will you indulge me? Dork out with me and sing lots of Sondheim?”

Harry looks at Louis’ handsome face with its bashful look directed at him and smiles large enough for both of his dimples to pop. “I can’t think of anything I’d like more to do than sing musical theater songs with you, Lou.”

“Oh goody!” Louis claps his hands in excitement. “Let’s start with something contemporary, shall we? Dear Evan Hansen?” Louis takes Harry’s smile as an affirmative answer and pushes play.

Dear Evan Hansen plays into Next To Normal which leads into Hamilton , Louis and Harry both impressing the other with their rapping skills. Louis is quiet for several moments looking through something on his phone, and then all of a sudden the jaunty fiddle music that begins the song “State Road 21” starts playing and then Harry’s voice is coming through the car’s speakers.

“Since 9PM I’ve been sitting here, just keeping my eye on some stupid steer.

That’s how I’m spending my junior year, but I swear I’m getting wise…”

“Louis, no! Oh god how embarrassing. This is the silliest song…really.” Harry tries to reach over and grab Louis’ phone to turn the song off but Louis snatches it out of his reach and playfully slaps his hand.

“What are you even on about? Harry, you’re on an original cast album for a Broadway musical! You’re on Spotify for fooks sake! Be proud.” Louis then sings along with the Harry whose voice is coming through the speakers.

“…Oh oo oh what does he know, about life in the real world? Oh oo oh what does he know? My fuse is lit and I’m ready to blow. Oh oo oh I’ve got to know about life in the real world!” Harry can’t help but be charmed by the way that Louis is dancing in his seat and singing along to this stupid song about an American teenager who doesn’t want to be hanging out at the Iowa State Fair. Harry’s endeared smile turns into a hearty laugh and he thinks for the thousandth time this week, how has he lived all these years without Louis Tomlinson in his life?

They stop in Perth for lunch and Harry parks near a park which they decide to walk though in order to stretch their legs before finding a pub for lunch. As they walk they continue a discussion about each other’s work that they’d started in the morning. Louis confesses that he’s a little jealous that Harry really went out there and did it. He followed his dreams and has a real career in the theater. Harry reminds him that he’s not really in the theater; he’s not a performer like he dreamed he’d be. But he’s happier he thinks. Being a working actor is scary. And the way that Louis speaks of his students and his work, Harry can tell that he loves his job just as much. Harry could say that he’s just as jealous of Louis’ career as Louis is of his.

After lunch they stop to refill the gas tank and Louis buys snacks for the rest of the drive, saying that the burger he had at the pub only left him craving something sweet and something salty. Harry only rolls his eyes but can’t help also giving Louis a sweet smile in return. Louis notices Harry stretching and yawning which causes a realization.

“Harry, let me drive the last few hours. You look tired.” Louis suggests, while juggling his bag of crisps and his Cadbury bar.

“Oh, um, would you? That would actually be great. Thank you.”

Harry walks around to the other side of the car and slips into the passenger seat pushing the seat all the way back and reclining it. Louis opens the trunk and removes his glasses from his overnight bag, slipping them on and blinking to get used to being able to fully see.

He gets behind the wheel and adjusts the seat and his mirrors. “Geez, you really do have long legs don’t you?” Louis looks over at Harry when he doesn’t get a response. Harry’s face is slack with his mouth hanging open.

“When did you start wearing glasses?” Harry practically chokes out.

“Huh? Oh, um like three years ago? I have contacts that I mostly wear but I didn’t put anything in this morning because I knew I wasn’t driving.” Louis furrows his brow at Harry’s stunned expression. “You alright?”

Harry startles a little and nods. “Uh yeah, yes, I’m good. Uh, glasses suit you. You look really good in “them.” Louis thinks he hears Harry add in a whisper, “You look hot”, and smiles.

“Okay, onward and upward, Plockton here were come!”

****************************************************************

They arrive in the picturesque harbor town of Plockton a little before four in the afternoon. As they drive through the unique town bathed in pretty fading sunlight, that’s on the banks of Loch Carron, Louis rolls down his window and breathes in the sea air and embraces the mild temperature that welcomes them.

“Harry, it’s right gorgeous here! It’s so mild here. Is it still late December or did we time travel into the future?”

“I had no idea it would be like this when Gemma told me where they were getting marri…Oh my god Lou, are those palm trees? Palm trees in fucking Scotland?!” Harry exclaims, and points towards the yes, honest to god palm trees lining the road along the harbor. Louis gawks in surprise.

“Holy shit, it’s magical here.” Louis says in complete awe.

They pull into the gravel parking lot of the picturesque inn located at the far end of town; their home for the next 48 hours. Harry notices and comments that he sees the cars belonging to his mother, father, and sister, among the others filling the parking spaces for the inn. They park and gather their things, Harry offering to carry both of their garment bags, and head into the lobby of the inn.

“Checking in, sirs?” The cheery and attentive concierge greets them as they step inside the inn’s ornate lobby.

“Yes, the reservation should be under Styles? We’re here for the Styles-Hampton wedding?” Harry says and produces a folded piece of paper from his coat pocket that contains his reservation information.

“We also need to inquire about availability of an additional single room, please?” Louis adds as he steps up to the mahogany desk and stands next to Harry, who is leaning against the front desk and stretching his back and long limbs.

“Oh, I apologize sincerely sir; there are no rooms available currently, or for the rest of the holiday weekend. We do have your original reservation sir”, the woman indicates to Harry, “but there aren’t any open reservations for any other room at this establishment.”

“Oh. Um…” Louis isn’t sure what to do. He and Harry never planned on sharing a room. He shares a look with Harry and shrugs.

“The one room will be fine, thank you.” Harry assures the concierge and nods with a smile at Louis. “Can we have two rooms keys, please?”

“Oh, and extra towels please?” Louis pipes up. He whispers to Harry, “they never have enough towels for two people.” Harry smiles in agreement.

They head towards a set of grand staircases that are wide and ornate, two bellmen following them with their luggage. Right between the two sets of stairs there is an old fashioned lift that looks straight out of the early 1900s and Louis’ face lights up with hope that they’ll be riding in it. Instead the bellmen direct them to the first staircase and they walk up to the top floor discussing the plans for that night’s dinner with Harry’s family. They open the door of suite C and are welcomed to a huge bay window with a cushioned bench seat facing the Loch and the beautiful dark blue water of the sea. Louis and Harry then turn their eyes to the rest of the room, only to have their hopes dashed. The room is large and open with a gorgeous, four-poster king sized bed with the fluffiest looking white down comforter, and piled high with lots of inviting and soft looking pillows. There are two wingback chairs around a small circular dining table, and two large wardrobes on either side of the door that leads to a huge bathroom that contains a large walk-in shower, and a soaking tub big enough for two. Everything is delightful, except there is no couch, no loveseat, not even so much as a chaise lounge for Louis to sleep on.

Louis slaps his hands together, determined to not let this hiccup ruin the weekend. “Well, I guess I could maybe push these two chairs together to make a sort of bed? Or maybe I can fit on the window seat…” Louis’ voice trails off, not sounding nearly as convincing as he wants it to.

“Rubbish! Don’t be silly, Louis. This bed is huge. We can share it.” Louis begins to object, but Harry tuts dismissively. “I won’t argue with you about this. We’ll share; end of story.”

“Are you sure? I know we used to share a bed all the time when we were kids, but this is different. We’re practically strangers. I feel bad for putting you out. Sharing a bed with me wasn’t supposed to be part of this plan.”

“You’re not putting me out, Louis. Remember? You’re doing me this huge favor? And anyway, it will be more believable that you’re my boyfriend if we’re sharing a bed, don’t you think?” Harry looks at Louis with something that Louis can only describe as coyness, but he quickly dismisses it.

“Alright, if you insist.” Louis then takes a running hop and starfishes onto the center of the gigantic bed. “Oh god, it’s like a cloud, Harry. Get up here!”

Harry climbs up on the bed and Louis moves over to give him room. They turn their faces towards each other and a comfortable silence settles between them, and they both give each other shy smiles. Their quiet moment is broken by the ringing of Harry’s  phone. He pulls it out of his pocket and looks at it, quickly showing Louis the screen showing “Mum” on the display.

“Hello mum, how are you? Yes, we just checked in. We were having a little lie down before coming to meet you. Oh, 5:30? Yes, I suppose. I don’t know if Louis wants to take a shower or change, but I know I do. Do I have time for that? Alright, see you soon.”

“So, no time for that power nap I had planned?” Louis asks, his voice laden with sarcasm.

“No, sorry. Mum wants us downstairs in like 20 minutes. I’m going to take a quick shower to freshen and perk up and then change. I’ll be quick so that you have time too, if you need it.”

“I won’t shower,” Louis lifts up each arm and feigns smelling each armpit, “Maybe I’ll just change out of this? Put a jacket on? Got to impress your family don’t I.”

“Tonight isn’t too dressy. I’m just going to wear a nice jumper and some jeans.” Harry gets up from the bed and walks over to his bag  the had been placed next to the wardrobe and starts removing items of clothing. Louis can’t help admiring the long line of Harry’s legs as he bends down, and his pert and adorable rump. He sighs and turns his attention back to the conversation.

“I’m going to check in with the train station and make sure my ticket is all set for Monday.” Louis calls out to Harry as he hears the shower turn on in the bathroom. He looks through his mobile app for his confirmation. One of the compromises that Louis had to make by agreeing to come to Scotland with Harry for the wedding was that he was now going to have to hop on a train late Monday morning, the day after the wedding and head straight back to London, not stopping back in Cheshire to see his family. He’d see them in a couple of weeks; he had to get back and prepare for his classes which would be starting again next week. He was excited to be taking one of the trains on the Kyle of Lochalsh line, which was supposed to be one of the most spectacular rail lines with breathtaking views. Considering he’d be on the train for almost 10 hours, Louis hoped that it would be nice. He confirmed that his train was leaving at 11:30 from Plockton, closed his app and locked his phone to go get changed and hopefully style his hair into something decent. Louis felt a pressure to look nice for Harry’s family and friends; to look nice for Harry. Louis wasn’t sure what these feelings swirling inside his chest meant yet, but he’d worry about it later.

*********************************************************

Louis and Harry enter the dining room of the inn right on time, although as several pairs of eyes turn to greet them, they feel very late and a little like they are under a microscope. Louis instinctively reaches for Harry’s hand before he even realizes he’s doing it and smiles softly when Harry takes it and squeezes it for courage and in solidarity. They release their hands and move forward into the room towards Harry’s mother, Anne. Anne walks toward them looking fabulous in a pair of cream colored wool trousers and a black cashmere boat-neck sweater.

“Hello, darlings! It’s wonderful to see you both. And on time! Louis, is this your influence?” Anne chides, but Louis can tell that she’s just teasing her only son by the beaming smile on her face and the way she’s holding her arms out to greet them both. The blush that appears on Harry’s cheeks is something that Louis would like to see forever.

Anne turns to Louis and pulls him into a tight hug. “Oh Louis, you can’t know how good it is to see you. It cheers my heart right up to know that you’re here and with Harry”, Anne turns back toward Harry and pulls him into her hug too, “even though this one kept you a secret for almost a year!”

“It hasn’t been almost a year mother, please.” Harry rolls his eyes fondly.

“The secret keeping is my fault, Anne.” Louis confesses. “I’m sorry we didn’t tell you or mum sooner.”

“Yes, Jay told me the ridiculous thing about Nellie and favoritism and all that. What rubbish. It denied us of having this happiness in our lives for practically the whole year.” Anne takes a cheek of each man in her fingers and squeezes, while Harry and Louis look at each other, feeling helpless.

“Well come on you two. Let me introduce you to people.” With that Anne entwines her arms around each of them and pulls them further into the room.

*********************************************************************

Four hours later Harry and Louis stumble into their hotel room exhausted from dinner and drinks and having to be “on” the entire evening. Louis hops on the bed and face plants on one side, his feet hanging off and his shoes falling to the floor. Harry makes his way sleepily towards the bathroom.

“I’m so bloody tired. I don’t think I’ve ever been so tired.”

“Mah feh hurz frah smahlen”, Harry complains around his toothbrush, his mouth full of foam.

“Yeah, my face is sore from smiling too.” Louis says around a yawn. He manages to drag his body up into seated position, a huge yawn taking over his whole body as Harry steps out of the bathroom and tells him that it’s free.

Louis slowly shuffles over to his suitcase that he placed on one of the wingback chairs and takes out his toiletry kit and the tshirt he likes to sleep in and turns to head into the bathroom. He’s greeted with the sight of Harry’s long, sculpted chest as he’s removing his dress shirt and he swallows dryly. When did Harry get this incredible body? Louis only recalls Harry’s body as it was in school; skinny with slightly rounded hips that held a little baby fat, and skin so smooth that it looked as soft as a baby’s. Louis doesn’t realize how long he’s been standing in the middle of the room staring at Harry, until Harry’s voice breaks through his trance.

“Are you okay, Louis?”

“Huh?” Louis shakes himself out of his daze and nods. “Yes. I was…just thinking about tomorrow.” Louis looks down at his feet hoping that Harry can’t tell that he’s lying.

“Tomorrow is jam-packed. That’s why we should turn in now and try to get some rest.” Harry continues to undress in front of him, and Louis finds himself mesmerized by Harry’s long fingers and, as he pulls his trousers off to reveal bright green cotton knit boxers, his toned and alluring thighs and legs that seem unreal they’re so sexy. “Tall drink of water”, Louis murmurs to himself.

“Whachu say?” Harry asks he stretches, elongating his perfect body even more.

“I said I need a drink of water.” Louis walks to the bathroom determined not to embarrass himself any further.

When he’s done and returns to the bedroom, Louis sees that Harry’s already under the covers asleep on his back, snoring slightly. Louis takes the opportunity to unabashedly stare at Harry’s sleeping form. Harry is shirtless, lying with his arms outside of the comforter, the fingers of his left hand curled and twitching slightly, and for a second Louis panics (hopes) that Harry is sleeping naked. He slowly lifts the covers on his side of the large bed to reveal that Harry is in fact wearing the bright green pants that he’d seen earlier. Louis slides into the bed with as little movement as possible not wanting to wake Harry, but as he settles under the covers, Harry’s eyes flit open anyway. Louis starts to apologize but realizes that Harry’s in that state where you’re half asleep and half awake and not aware of Louis’ stare in his direction. Harry turns on his side facing Louis and pulls the comforter over his shoulder and burrows into his pillow, his breaths falling back into a sleep rhythm. Louis sighs and looks over to Harry’s sleeping form again. He feels so grateful to have been given the opportunity to have Harry back in his life. He hadn’t realized how much he’d missed him. Louis stares fondly at Harry’s angelic, perfect face; the way his curls fall across his forehead, the slope of his nose, his exquisite soft pink lips which flutter a bit with his breathing. Louis takes a deep breath to calm his stuttering heart. Harry moves around a bit and his arm stretches out towards Louis as if looking for his hand. The king-sized bed is large enough that Louis still feels far away, but it does give him a chance to run his eyes up and down the muscles of Harry’s arm and the shape of his strong, large hand. Louis imagines Harry taking him into his strong arms and he boldly reaches his own hand out and lightly brushes across the top of Harry’s fingers. Harry doesn’t move or react to the touch and he wishes he had enough nerve to draw closer and caress Harry’s lush lips; he wishes he could kiss them. Louis’ eyes fly open for a moment – will he and Harry be expected to kiss at some point tomorrow? He settles back down and looks at Harry again. Louis watches Harry sleep and imagines a world where they really were boyfriends and not pretending; a world where he could scoot over and spoon Harry and hold him close all night. He feels his cock begin to thicken, thinking about holding and kissing Harry.

Louis turns over to face away from Harry and tells his dick to knock it off. He’s not going to think sexy thoughts about Harry anymore tonight, or how his plush lips look like they’d be perfect for sucking cock. Louis has to put his hands under the pillow to keep from reaching into his shorts. He tries banishing the unwanted thoughts with a meditation exercise he'd learned from Jesy, and some time before midnight, he falls asleep.

************************************************************

December 31 -

The next day is bright and clear and although it feels early to Louis, by the deadness of his limbs he can tell that he’s slept a long time, and guesses that it might be late morning .  He’s not sure what woke him up but he doesn’t think it was either of their alarms. Louis is on his stomach, hugging a pillow and he’s surprised because he rarely sleeps this way; he’s a side or back sleeper almost 100% of the time. He feels overly warm and a heavy weight upon his back and it takes him a few seconds to realize that Harry is practically sleeping on top of him; it’s almost as if Harry has climbed him like a tree in his sleep. He’s somehow flattened the top of the comforter at the top of Louis’ back and has his head nestled in the crook of his neck, his even warm breaths fluttering against the skin there. Harry’s legs have Louis caged in as well as one arm which he has protectively thrown over Louis, which he can now see Harry’s hand resting by his shoulder. Louis finds that instead of being annoyed, he feels comforted. He feels like this is something that he could get used to; Harry hogging the blankets, limbs akimbo, and sprawling on top of Louis. Louis thinks he’d still prefer to be the big spoon though. He doesn’t want to move and wake Harry but his bladder has other ideas and is protesting for him to get up.

Just as Louis begins to slowly start pulling himself out from under Harry, Harry’s phone alarm goes off and he jolts awake, his knee pressing into Louis’ arse and unfortunately putting more pressure on his bladder causing Louis to squeak in protest. Harry rolls off of him, and Louis thankfully turns on his side and then sits up gingerly. The blaring bell chimes are extinguished and Louis turns to shyly look at Harry.

“Good morning, sunshine.” Louis grins at him.

“Morning.” Harry croaks out while rubbing his eyes and yawning. His bouncy wavy hair is crazy this morning and curling off of his head in all directions. Louis smiles at him again because he can’t remember if he’s seen anything cuter than sleepy bedhead Harry. Louis stands and only then notices his terrible case of morning wood, which he tries to hide by shuffling to the bathroom with his back to Harry in a sort of grapevine fashion as if he’s in a production of “42nd Street”. Minutes later, after Louis finishes taking care of both his bladder and his erection, he returns to the bedroom to see Harry much as how he left him; a bedheaded, adorable, wet dream of a man. A rumpled kitten still sitting in the middle of the bed surrounded by pillows and the comforter. Louis knows his fond must be showing because Harry shyly smiles at him.

“Hey Lou, I’m sorry for sleeping on you all last night. I’m a cuddler by nature, and a bed hog at my worst, and those traits really seem to come out when I’m extra tired, so again I’m sorry, I’ll try to be better tonight.”

“It’s okay Harry. I like to cuddle too. It might even have been me who initiated this…,” Louis swirls his hand towards the bed, “whole thing.”

Harry smiles in response, his dimples popping. “I’m going to jump in the shower first, is that okay?” Harry proceeds to jump out of bed, and oh boy, Louis wasn’t prepared yet to see a gorgeous bed-rumpled Harry, in only green underpants, and god, yes Harry seemed to be sporting morning wood as well, but just didn’t seem to be ashamed of it like Louis had been.

Louis feels like he’s going to faint. Harry just obliviously walks by him and into the bathroom. Louis throws himself back onto the bed and groans into a pillow.

**********************************************************************************

Louis steps out of the bathroom where he had agreed to get dressed, while Harry used the bedroom after his shower. He’s just brushing off some lint on his trousers and pulling the back of his suit jacket down because it always seems to be on the verge of riding up his ample arse, when he hears a short gasp behind him and turns. Harry is looking at him like he might have just been hit by a bat, but also like he has stars in his eyes, and he’s sort of smiling like a lunatic. A beautiful, sexy lunatic.

“You alright?” Louis furrows his brow and looks down at his feet and then his trouser legs, wondering if he missed zipping his fly or something.

“Uhh yeh…you…I mean, yes, I’m fine?” Harry responds, and leaves Louis even more confused. Harry must notice the expression on Louis’ face because he follows up with, “You look really good, Louis. That suit becomes you.” And now it’s Louis who feels like he’s smiling like a lunatic.

“Thanks. You look amazing too.” At Louis’ compliment Harry did a little twirl showing off his dove gray suit and the lilac colored silk vest he wore underneath. He isn’t wearing a tie, but he looks no less formal without one. As he finishes his turn and faces Louis again, Harry smiles and puts his hands in his pocket, rising up on his toes in his shiny wingtip shoes. “Shall we go down?”

Louis nods his head and says “Let’s do this, Styles”, and then goes to the mirror by the door to straighten his tie and fix his fringe, before opening the door and waving Harry out.

They walk towards the elevator at the end of the hall, which is one of those old fashioned ones that is open to the floors and looks like a giant birdcage. It’s faster to walk down the stairs but Louis has been fascinated with the contraption since they checked in yesterday. Harry has sweetly indulged his excitement of riding in the lift even though it’s slow and makes creaking noises that terrify Harry. Once they’re inside and relatively safely traveling down the four floors to the lobby, Harry turns to Louis in the small space. “If I haven’t said it yet today, thanks again Louis, for going through all of this with me. For me. You’ve made what could have been an unbearable weekend, really lovely.” Harry’s face turns serious for a moment but Louis can’t have that.

“Oh stop, I haven’t even done anything; we’ve been here less than 24 hours. Just wait until the reception when I haul you around the dance floor and show everyone how perfect a couple we are. We’ll have everyone jealous, wondering ‘who are those fabulous gay men grooving to Beyonce?’, we’ll be the hit of the party; ‘Sorry Gems, I know the bride is supposed to be the star of the day, but too bad, her brother and his boyfriend wink wink, are sharing the spotlight.”

By the time Louis is done, the lift has reached the bottom level and Harry is laughing, no sign of seriousness left on his face. They step out of the lift, smiles beaming at each other, and turn towards the observatory walking with their arms linked.

********************************************************************

 

The wedding ceremony is lovely. Gemma is a beaming bride, and her groom is dashing and handsome. Harry cries through most of the service and Louis ends up lending him his pocket square because Harry didn’t want to ruin his purple silk one with his tears and snot. Louis can’t for the life of him understand why he finds this so endearing and cute.

The wedding party and guests move into the large banquet hall on the other side of the building. It’s been festooned with yards of light blue and gray taffeta bunting and gorgeous white peony flower centerpieces on each table. There’s a large dance floor with a small stage at the end where a 8-piece orchestra plays. There’s also a DJ setting up for proper dancing later on.

Dinner is delicious and the champagne flows, and Harry can’t seem to stop staring at Louis with a big smile planted on his face. He just sits and admires how wonderful Louis is; he’s gregarious, literally able to have a discussion with anyone in the room, from Harry’s old aunt Josephine, to his 8 year old step-nephew. He’s sweet, checking in with Anne every so often to see how she is and escorting Aunt Josephine to the bar to get her more wine. Louis talks to the wait staff and to the viola player and to the bartender and acts like he’s known them for years and not just a couple of hours. And once the food has been eaten, and the cake has been cut and stuffed into newly wed mouths, and the toasts have been given, Harry’s being particularly gooey causing many to tear up; Harry sees Louis excuse himself from a conversation that he’s been having with Gemma’s new father-in-law, and go up to the stage to speak to the piano player in the orchestra. Harry furrows his brow and wonders what Louis is up to, and then Louis is taking the stairs on the side of the stage and walking up to one of the microphones placed there.

“Good evening, everyone. It’s a lovely gathering we’re having tonight isn’t it? Congrats again to Gemma and Peter. And thanks in advance for indulging me a few minutes up here. I’d like to sing a song; it’s a particularly special song, filled with lots of memories, both joyful and maybe a little sad. Anyway, I was recently reminded how much I love it, and I’d like to sing it now, with the help of my backing band,” Louis gestures behind him to the small orchestra, “and I’m dedicating this song to Harry. Thanks for being you.” Louis smiles and points right at him.

The shock that Harry feels in that moment only increases when he hears the first few chords of music that the orchestra plays and recognizes the song almost immediately. As Louis begins singing “Try To Remember” in his clear and beautiful tenor, Harry feels the reception room and all of the people fall away until it’s just him and Louis, staring at each other. Louis looks lovingly out at Harry and he feels it; he feels his heart swelling with words and emotions that seem impossible, but also right and true. Harry feels tears well in his eyes, and he knows he’s standing in the middle of the dance floor looking like an idiot; he’s even aware that some of the older couples have begun dancing slow waltzes around him, but he doesn’t care. All he cares about is the blue-eyed, caramel haired boy on the stage singing a song of regret and longing and hope to him.

“Deep in December it’s nice to remember, although you know the snow will follow.  

Deep in December it’s nice to remember, without a hurt the heart is hollow.

Deep in December it’s nice to remember the fire of September that made you mellow.  

Deep in December our hearts should remember, then follow.

Then follow.”

The last few lines of the song sink into Harry and take hold. He realizes he does want to follow Louis; he doesn’t want this weekend to be over tomorrow. He wishes this all wasn’t just a fantasy. Louis finishes to wild applause. He shakes the hands of the orchestra members and speaks into the mic that the DJ can now take over, and then hops off the stage and approaches Harry.

True to his word, Louis keeps Harry out on the dance floor for most of the remainder of the evening. Louis isn’t the most sophisticated of dancers, and Harry has only ever learned tap, and even then, he’s quite terrible at it, so he’s fairly hopeless, but they have a great time nonetheless. Louis tries out all sorts of moves; popping and locking, the cabbage patch, and the Dougie. He gets Harry to do matching Running Mans with him to some ridiculous song that neither of them recognize, but which excites the handful of teens there, so they know it must be hip. At one point Louis is dancing in a circle with Anne and Harry’s aunts and starts swaying and rolling his hips seductively to Rihanna. Harry takes a break, saying he has a muscle cramp, when in reality he was getting too turned on by Louis’ movements. He figures popping a boner in front of his mother and his aunts isn’t the best thing. Instead he sits down at a table with a perfect view of Louis out on the floor. He’s magnetic. Swishing around his perfect arse and bending low, grinding to the beat. Harry feels intoxicated from the sight, far more drunk from it than the champagne he’s had. He feels his cock thickening up from just watching Louis dance; he can’t imagine what would happen if he held Louis in his arms; if he kissed him.

The opening beats of “It Takes Two” by Rob Base start up and both Louis and Gemma crow in delight. They point to each other on the dance floor and come to stand next to each other and both start rapping along to the music. By the second verse Louis and Gemma are dancing together with coordinated and matching moves which look like they took weeks to choreograph and not done on the fly. Everyone has moved off the dance floor and has formed a circle around the two of them, chanting and cheering for them. Harry stands to have a better look and he can’t help the smile that almost splits his face from looking at them. His mother comes up and wraps herself around his arm.

“They’re wonderful, aren’t they darling?”

“They are indeed, mum.”

“Louis has been the shining star tonight. Everyone’s been talking about him. I think Gemma’s mad that he’s stolen a little bit of the focus tonight. Although looking at them now, I suppose she’s forgiven him“, Anne giggles.

“Oh she just finally figured out there’s no denying Louis the spotlight. He’s naturally the center of attention; he doesn’t even try, he just is.” At Harry’s wistful voice, Anne lifts her face to him.

“He’s lovely, Harry. And you both seem so happy. The two of you make me happy, Harry.” Anne gives a teary exhale and Harry pulls her in close.

“Oh mum, don’t. Louis is great, of course, but we’re not that serious. I…um…we…well I just don’t want you to get your hopes up that this is some big romance or a long term thing.”

“Not some big romance? Oh please! Do you see the way he looks at you? The way he looks after you? And you, my darling are even worse. You’re both a pair of smitten kittens and…” Anne is interrupted by the DJ announcing that it’s 30 seconds to midnight and the start of the new year. “Now go to your boy, it’s almost time for the New Year’s Kiss.”

“I thought you’d be my New Year’s Kiss.” Harry smiles teasingly, and Anne just laughs and shoves him back out onto the dance floor towards Louis, who is currently dancing with one of Gemma’s little flower girls, standing on the tops of his shoes. Harry feels his heart melt and slide out onto the floor.

“Excuse me? May I cut in for this dance?” Harry asks Louis and the little girl.

“No.” The little girl, who Harry thinks is named Phoebe, responds.

“Oh I understand. Louis is quite the dancing partner. I understand why you want to keep him all to yourself.” Harry speaks to Phoebe but looks into Louis’ eyes with a smile the entire time.

As the crowd starts chanting 10…9…8, Phoebe’s mother comes to collect her for bed. She waves goodbye to both of them and then it’s just Harry and Louis standing and staring at each other as the final number is counted down. Cheers of “Happy New Year” are cried out and the DJ starts playing “Auld Lang Syne” which couples begin dancing to and kissing under the starry lights which are now lit. Louis spreads his arms out and asks Harry to dance, and Harry goes into his arms willingly. As they slow dance in each other’s arms, Louis laying his head on Harry’s shoulder, Harry begins to softly sing along to the song.

“What does this song even mean”? Louis questions, his words brushing against Harry’s neck. “The lyrics don’t make sense. Is it asking whether we should forget our old friends? It’s some kind of Scottish nonsense I’m sure.” Louis ends his rant by rubbing his cheek on Harry’s shoulder which makes Harry feel like he’s floating and causes him to pull Louis closer.

“You sound like Billy Crystal in when Harry Met Sally .” Harry giggles and brushes lips across the top of Louis’ hair.  Harry then he proceeds to tell him what the lyrics actually mean.

“It originally was a 18th century Scottish poem by Robert Burns. Sometime in the late 1700s it was set to the tune of a traditional folk song. ‘For auld lang syne’ roughly means old times. It’s asking a rhetorical question like, is it right that old times be forgotten? It’s just song to remind you to remember old friends, really.”

Louis pulls back and stops dancing for a moment. “Then why don’t they just say that? It’s rubbish!”

Harry cackles out a laugh and pulls Louis back in to dance slowly with him. “Did you know that the Scots invented the New Year’s Eve celebration? It’s from the celebration of the last day of the year called Hogmanay which is from old Norse traditions. I don’t know when people started singing Old Lang Syne on New Year’s, but it must’ve been some time in the early 19th century when…” Harry stops when Louis pulls back again and looks at him incredulously.

“You’re such an unbelievable nerd.” Louis shakes his head in disbelief and tries but fails, to suppress an endeared smile from spreading across his face. “Will you just shut up and kiss me, Harry?”

Harry has thought of nothing else but kissing Louis all night, and now that the opportunity is right in front of him he’s not going to take it for granted. He brings his hands up on either side of Louis’ face, brushing across his cheekbones with his thumb. Louis nods his answer to Harry’s unspoken question and Harry leans in gently places his lips on Louis’. Louis’ lips are warm and soft and his mouth yields to Harry’s and opens to let his tongue inside. Harry’s fist thought is that Louis uses his tongue like a maestro uses a baton to direct an orchestra. His second thought is to lament over never having done this before. If he’d known kissing Louis would be so phenomenal he would have done it when he was 17. It’s all he wants to do in this moment; in every moment. Kiss Louis. Louis tastes sweet and his kisses taste a little like the champagne they’ve been drinking all night. Louis wraps his arms tighter around Harry’s neck and he brings him in closer; directing their kisses deeper. Harry pulls away after several more seconds, suddenly highly aware that they’re in the middle of a room with about sixty people staring at them.

“Let’s go somewhere, please. Louis, will you take me somewhere?” Harry pleads and Louis has to do everything in his power not to attack his flushed face with kisses again. He feels so hot that he might faint.

“Let’s step outside for some fresh air.”

“Louis, it’s late December, well early January, we’ll freeze won’t we?” Harry asks as he fumbles after Louis, holding his hand and allowing Louis to lead him past and around wedding guests, some of whom are slowly gathering their things to leave the reception.

Louis pulls Harry out through the first door that he finds which leads to a small deserted balcony. He wastes no time pulling Harry towards him and kissing him deeply.

After several minutes of exploring each other mouths, and touching every part of each other that they can reach, they part for a second to breathe and then Louis surges in to kiss him again almost feverishly. They both lose track of how long they stand outside kissing each other but Louis finally breaks their kiss again and shivers in the cold night air.

“Can we go to our room to continue this?” Louis asks shyly.

“Yes. Yes, of course. C’mon.” Harry takes Louis’ hand and pulls him inside the inn and down the hall on their left that leads to the back staircase to the floor where their room is.

Once inside their hotel room Harry slips his shoes and socks off and feels almost shy; he just stares longingly into Louis’ eyes. Louis reaches out for him, and Harry goes easily, leaning forward, until Louis’ hands finds the back of Harry’s neck, and he tilts his head, and their mouths meet again. Louis is tentative now, and he lets Harry take the lead, but it seems like Harry is holding back, as if the time it took them to leave the reception and come to their room has cooled things off, or made them nervous. Then Louis pulls back and smiles at Harry, and they share a soft laugh that makes them both relax. Harry pulls Louis back to him and places his lips on Louis, opening his mouth, and Louis sighs into him. He flicks his tongue over Harry’s plush lips, and eases off again.

“Do you know how long I dreamt of kissing you?” Louis asks on a whisper, placing light kisses all along Harry’s jawline. He doesn’t wait for Harry to answer before he confesses, “Years. Over a decade I’ve wanted to feel your lips against mine.”

Harry lets out an involuntary whine. “You could have, you know. I would’ve happily been yours back then. Wanted you so bad.” Harry attacks Louis’ mouth again, wrapping his arms around Louis and running his hands over the plump curves of Louis’ butt and squeezing.

“I was such a stupid, scared kid. Why did I give up my chance with you?” Louis asks earnestly, taking Harry’s face in his hands and brushing his thumbs along his cheekbones. “You are so beautiful, Harry. Do you know that? So fucking beautiful.”

Louis pulls Harry into another bruising kiss and then starts to remove Harry’s suit jacket as they both move towards the bed. As Harry’s thighs hit the edge of the bed, Louis’ quick fingers have made fast work of Harry's suit jacket and shirt, and he spreads his hands across Harry’s chest, his fingers feather light over each of Harry’s nipples. Harry responds with a whimpering groan as he scrambles up onto the bed and lies on his back, beckoning Louis to come to him.

Louis takes the time to slip his shoes and socks off, then to remove his tie, throwing it on the bed with a wiggle of his eyebrows, and finally removing his suit and his dress shirt, until he’s only standing in a pair of black boxer-briefs. He climbs on the bed after Harry and lies on top of him, melding his mouth to his again. Harry shifts the angles of their mouths by bringing his hands up to Louis’ head and tilting it slightly. His mouth opens and Harry pushes his tongue inside. Harry gets lost in the kiss, closing his eyes and never wanting the moment to end, even as his hardening cock begs for something more. Louis pulls back and gives Harry a shy smile, and then goes in again, craving the feel of Harry’s plush lips surrendering under the pressure of his kiss. Louis reaches down to stroke Harry’s cock through his trousers.

“You’re so hard for me already. Wanna get my mouth around you.”

Moving off Harry for a moment, Louis undoes Harry’s belt then unbuttons and unzips his trousers, pulling them down to Harry’s knees in one pull. Harry’s hard cock slaps against his stomach obscenely.

“Why Harry, you naughty boy. Not wearing any pants?” Louis chides with a sly smirk on his face.

“They would’ve ruined the line of my trousers.” Harry returns with a smile that’s even more wicked.

“God, your dick is so big. Even back when we were kids; I remember getting a peek of it in the 6th form locker room,” Louis reaches for Harry’s cock as he talks, “Made my mouth water even then. So big; big and so very pretty.” He touches Harry’s cock with careful, exploring fingers; pulling back his foreskin and tracing the head with his thumb, slowly sliding his foreskin over the head, then squeezing and sliding it until the head peeks out again. Harry leaks pre come as Louis takes him in a loose but firm grip.

Harry wonders if this is how Louis holds onto his own dick when he’s jerking himself off. And only notices that he’s said these words out loud when Louis answers him.

“Yeah, I do. Do you like thinking about me that way? Do you like the way this feels?”

Harry throws his head back on to the pillow; his breathy whine gives Louis the answer he needs. He pulls Harry’s trousers down the rest of the way and throws them off of the side of the bed. He spreads Harry’s legs and settles down between them taking hold of his cock once more.

Harry lifts his head perches up on his elbows, determined to watch Louis as he strokes him in long, fluid motions. He’s taking his time, twisting his fist, squeezing out drops of precome as Harry’s cock throbs.

Louis stares up at him with his bright blue eyes; smirking as he draws whimpering sighs out of Harry. Louis places one simple kiss against the side of Harry’s hard cock, causing a sharp intake of breath from Harry, and a moaned, “Louis”. Louis’ hands travel up Harry’s torso to tweak his nipples again, Harry’s muscles jumping up to meet his touch.

“Louis, please.” Harry practically begs.

“Tsk tsk patience babe. Do you want my mouth now?” Louis coos.

“YES FUCK!” Harry moans as Louis gives a particularly clever twist of his wrist.

Louis brushes the tip of Harry’s cock against his lips, sticking out his tongue to collect the generous amount of precome that’s collected there. Harry’s breath hitches, his hips jerking reflexively when Louis finally puts his mouth on the tip. Louis still has one hand stroking the base of Harry’s cock, the other hand now bracing against Harry’s thigh for support, as he sucks lovingly at the hard flesh, until he finally seems bold enough to take more. Louis works his way down Harry’s cock, pulling more into his mouth and moving his hand away every time he gets further down until Louis’ nose is resting against the hair of Harry’s groin and he’s pressing against the back of Louis’ throat.

“Oh God! Louis Lou oh god, I can’t hold back much longer…ahhh” Harry throws his head from side to side and struggles to take a breath.

Louis pops up off of Harry’s dick and gives him a few strokes instead. “Are you close baby? What do you want?” And Harry can’t believe how ruined Louis’ voice sounds, or how much it turns him on knowing he’s the cause of it.

“I want…want…I want to come down your throat.” Harry manages to croak out between moans. Louis’ hand feels amazing but his mouth feels better.

Louis takes all of Harry’s cock in one swift move, and as it hits the back of his throat he swallows around which sends Harry into a delirium of pleasure.

“Louis! I’m coming! Lou oh god your mouth feels so good!” Harry screams out as he pulses down Louis’ throat.

Louis swallow and lifts himself off of Harry, throwing himself on his back next to Harry and shoving his hand into his own briefs and begin to stroke his straining cock to give himself some relief.

“Oh no you don’t,” an exhausted sounding Harry rasps out, “I want that thick cock of yours in my mouth right now.” He sits up and lays on top of Louis kissing him intensely. Harry can taste himself on Louis’ tongue and lips and moans into the kiss feeling himself start to harden again. He kisses his way down Louis chest, paying specific attention to his nipples and earning a whimper from Louis, before continuing his exploration with his mouth that ends at the waistband of his pants.

With one more glance to Louis’ face, Harry pulls the boxer-briefs down and off of Louis and wraps his fingers around Louis’ cock. Louis sighs at the touch, his head falling backwards onto the bed. Harry licks his lips and takes Louis into his mouth, making Louis gasp.

“Harry,  shit ,” Louis moans, his mouth hanging open. Harry, enjoying this reaction, takes Louis in deeper, running his tongue across the hot flesh of his cock. Louis dares to look down at Harry, who has pressed Louis’ cock to the soft inside of his cheek, grinning smugly. His huge green eyes stare back up at Louis’ own blue ones, half-lidded and proud. Louis’ throat feels dry as he lets out another high-pitched moan, lifting his hands and grabbing onto the headboard. Harry pauses and looks up at him, crooked lips pulled up into a grin.

Harry practically purrs against him, fixing his gaze up at Louis and bobbing his head up and down. He presses his fingers into Louis’ strong thighs, holding them apart and leaving Louis exposed. Harry maintains a steady pace, pulling backwards along Louis’ length and pushing back down until his nose is brushing against Louis’ lower stomach. He keeps a steady focus on Louis, which makes Louis’ breath come out in heavy pants, occasionally ending in a moan octaves higher than his normal voice.

“Harry,” Louis begins, his fingers now twisting and pulling at the sheets. “I’m gonna,” Harry understands immediately, and bring his mouth off for a few seconds, stroking Louis instead, slowly.

Louis’ lower belly quivers, his thigh muscles flexing again, as Harry bends back down and lathes his tongue in a circle around the head and pushing his tongue into the slit.

"'Fuck,” Louis pants, his thighs trembling on either side of Harry’s face. Harry just pushes them open again.

He pulls off Louis’ thick cock and begins jerking him, but leans down again to put his mouth on the crease of Louis’ groin and thigh, his lips playing in the soft hair there. Louis smells sharper here, but also a little like the lavender soap the hotel provides. He kisses the baby soft skin of Louis’ inner thigh and Louis moans and spread his legs wider, his knees falling to the sides.

Harry smiles against his skin, kissing and licking each of Louis’ strong thighs until Louis is cursing under his breath, his hips lifting off the bed involuntarily.

Louis is just about to plead with Harry to put his mouth back on him but Harry is already there, leaving Louis at a loss for words. Harry begins stroking himself, as he flattens his tongue rigidly against the underside of Louis’ cock and licks a stripe up to the head. Louis lets out a guttural moan when Harry tightens his lips around him, groaning at how aroused and sensitive it’s left him. Louis’ chest dips shallowly with each ragged breath he takes and he bites his lip.

“Harry baby, I’m gonna…I…oh gonna come!”

Harry only moans around Louis’ cock, creating a vibration that undoes Louis and he comes for what seems like hours, Harry swallowing all of it as he speeds up the strokes on his own cock and comes over his hand. After a moment, Harry moves up and collapses on his back next to Louis, both of them panting and satisfied. Louis watches as Harry wipes the come from his hand onto his chest and has to stop himself from licking him clean. Then Harry turns his face towards Louis with a smile so big that his dimples seem like craters and all Louis wants to do is kiss his beautiful face and he suddenly realizes that he can do just that; he can kiss Harry Styles. So he does.

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January 1 -

Harry wakes to the sound of what he thinks might be Louis singing “What’s Love Got To Do With It” in the shower. He smiles fondly, and turns over onto his back, stretching his arms and pointing his toes as he does so. He feels great; better than he has in a long time. He could get used to waking up to Louis singing in the shower; he wants to get used to it. He doesn’t know what the next steps are going to be for him and Louis, but he knows he wants to take them. Harry  debates about maybe jumping into the shower with Louis? Is that something that he can do now? Once you’ve seen someone naked and had their dick in your mouth, can you share a shower together? He doesn’t get a chance to debate this further because he hears the shower turn off and within a minute, Louis walks out of the bathroom wearing a red long sleeved t-shirt, a towel around his waist, and another one that he’s using to dry his hair. It’s not until he’s only a couple of feet from the bed that he notices that Harry is awake.

“Hey, good morning. I didn’t wake you up did I?”

Harry shakes his head, “No, not really. Waking up to you singing Tina Turner was quite delightful actually.”

“God! You heard that? How embarrassing.”

“No, I loved it Louis.”

Louis smiles awkwardly at Harry’s statement, rolling the towel in his hands back and forth as if he’s nervous. Harry hopes he can make Louis understand that he has nothing to be nervous about, not when it comes to them. Harry is just about to say something, but then Louis abruptly turns around heads back into the bathroom, only to emerge a second later with his toiletry bag which he takes over to his overnight case to start packing.

“The bathroom’s all yours. I’ve cleared out of it.” Louis calls over to Harry, “we have to be down to breakfast I think pretty soon, huh? And I have to be at the train station by 11:25 at the latest.”

A bewildered Harry stares at Louis for a few seconds and then nods his head. He doesn’t understand what’s happening. Where are his morning kisses? Why aren’t they cuddling right now in this big, stupid bed, planning their future? Harry may have gotten ahead of himself a little but he assumed he and Louis were on the same page. But maybe not. He moves disappointedly out from under the covers and stands up, only just remembering he’s naked when he cock slaps against his thigh as he maneuvers off the bed. Harry stands there for a moment, naked and suddenly feeling very self-conscious, especially for someone who was just proposing showering with the man that is now gaping at him. Harry whips the top sheet off the bed and wraps it around his middle and then rushes into the bathroom, upset and feeling on the verge of tears.

Louis looks at the closed door of the bathroom for several awful seconds, knowing he’s done something wrong, but not knowing what it is or he can fix this. Waking up next to Harry; in fact wrapped around Harry, his face pressed between Harry’s shoulder blades, inhaling his scent, had been one of his happiest moments. But he’d quickly panicked and had started to worry that the night before had maybe only been a one-night thing for Harry. Louis was afraid that he’d might have read too much into it. Just fun times that people get up to at weddings; you know, the typical consequences of mixing too much champagne, a mutual attraction and pretending to be boyfriends all into one dazzling evening. That’s all it was - Dazzle. Right? Louis sighs and sits on the bed feeling stunned. Because if that’s truly all it is, what was that look that Harry gave him as he ran into the bathroom, and why did Louis feel so awful and like he’d broken something that couldn’t be fixed.

 

 

Chapter Text

Breakfast is a stilted affair. The guests consist of Gemma and Peter’s immediate family and a handful of others, around a dozen people total. Everyone is quiet, Louis observes, except for some quiet talking at the far end of the table among Peter’s cousins or aunts. The bride and groom are both sporting sunglasses inside, nursing what appear to be epic hangovers, and Harry sits beside him with his own sunglasses pushed on top of his hair holding it back, staring forlornly into his tea cup. Anne on Harry’s other side keeps looking worriedly between Harry and Louis and giving Louis concerned eyes. Louis breaks eye contact with her and looks back down at his plate of eggs and bacon which he has just poked at and not eaten. Harry hasn’t said one word to him since he got out of the shower except to ask him for his room key so that he could turn it in when he checks out. Louis understands that he’s at fault in some way but he doesn’t know what to do to fix it and he wishes he could make his mouth open and say something tangible to Harry; anything at all, really. His mouth remains shut like there’s a vice around it. Louis looks at his phone and sees that it’s 10:30 and decides that although the train station is only a 5 minute drive or so away, that he’s just going to cut his losses now and head there straightaway. He pushes his chair back slowly and stands up.

“Gemma, Peter,” Louis looks down at Harry but says, “Anne. Thank you for a lovely weekend and an even lovelier wedding and New Year’s Eve. I’m sorry I can’t hang and chat, but I have a train back to London to catch. Take care everyone.” Louis hears various calls of “bye Louis” and “take care” but he just looks at Harry’s sad eyes looking up at him and knows that it isn’t enough.

Louis turns to grab his bags and start heading towards the front of the lobby when Harry stands abruptly, knocking his thankfully empty tea cup over. He walks after Louis through the lobby.

“Wait, Louis where are you going?” Harry reaches out and gently grabs Louis’ arm to stop him and it dawns on Louis that this is the first time that Harry has touched him all day. He puts his hand on top of Harry’s and rubs it.

“I have to catch my train back to London.”

“But you still have almost an hour, and the station is so close. And I thought I was going to take you?” Harry’s voice sounds so sad and disappointed that it hurts Louis’ heart.

“I don’t want you to miss spending time with your family.”

“Are you kidding? Gemma and Peter are so hungover they’re practically braindead. I think they’ve already gone back upstairs to their room. And my mother seems overly concerned about me this morning and it’s suffocating me.”

“I think this weekend has been harder on your mum than she’s wanted to let on. I think she’s really missing Robin.”

“yeah, I know…” Harry hesitates and Louis takes the opportunity to continue on.

“Go spend time with her, yeah? Pretty soon you’ll be back in London and then she’ll be all alone in Cheshire again.”

“But Louis, I think we should talk. This morning has been so weird and there are so many things I want to talk with you about.”

“I know, and I’m sorry. I was wished I could’ve planned this better, being on a train for half a day by myself is going to be horrible.”

“I wish you were riding back with me. We’d have plenty of time to talk then.”

Louis looks out the front door at a taxi that’s just pulled up. “There’s my taxi, I have to go. Bye Harry, see you soon.” Louis stands hesitantly in front of Harry and then he throws himself forward to pull Harry into a fierce hug. They stand there silent, just holding on fast.

“Thank you for this weekend.” Louis whispers near Harry’s ear.

“Thank you for everything, for...coming back into my life.” Harry sniffles and pulls Louis in closer.

Louis brushes his lips against Harry’s cheek and whispers another thank you then turns, grabs his bags and heads out towards the waiting car.

Louis is almost to the train station when a realization falls on him like a ton of bricks. He’s mucked up everything with Harry. He needs to try and fix it! Louis leans forward and almost tells the driver to turn back, but then he thinks that maybe it’s too late. He’s missed his chance. The taxi pulls to a stop in front of the train station before Louis can make any decision. He pays the driver and gets out with his garment bag and his duffel. The station is too small to get lost in and very quickly Louis finds where his train to Edinburgh will be taking on passengers. While he has a few minutes to wait and think, Louis has a million regrets rolling around in his brain. He berates himself for not taking Harry’s offer of a ride to the station because although it would have only been a 5 minute trip, at least it would’ve been more time with Harry. He hates that he was a coward that was too afraid to share his feelings, especially after the wonderful moments that they shared last night.  

He’s still upset as the train pulls in right on time. He gets on and finds an empty car with the privacy he craves. Louis feels helpless; should he call Harry right this minute? No, if he hears Harry’s voice right now he will start to cry. Texting is out of the question - too impersonal, too casual. Louis looks at his phone and decides that the written word has always been his friend and because of this he goes with the idea of writing an email. A love letter to Harry where he’ll pour his heart on to the page. He opens his email and starts composing.

In the email Louis bares his soul and tells Harry everything. He tells him that he thinks he might be in love with him and that he’s scared that Harry will think that it’s too fast and that he doesn’t feel the same way. He shares how grateful and how happy he is to have gotten Harry back in his life, even if it’s only as a friend. Louis confesses his regret of only kissing Harry on the cheek goodbye because if he never gets to kiss Harry on the lips again, he thinks he’ll die. Louis writes about how he wishes he could start this entire morning over. He would wait for Harry to wake, and not rush off to the shower to avoid what he feared would be an awkward morning and Harry giving clues that the night before was a one-time thing. He’d ask Harry questions and not just assume his feelings. He should have kissed him this morning, morning breath and all. He wants to do all of it again to get it right. By the time Louis is finished writing the email, it’s several pages long and contains his whole heart. He takes a deep breath and hits send.

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January 8 -

It’s been exactly seven days since Louis sent the email to Harry. One week in which he’s waited to hear a response back, wanted to write another email taking everything he said in the first one back, or another one in which he begged for Harry’s forgiveness and another chance. Louis hasn’t eaten and he’s hardly slept, and now it’s the morning of the first day back to school, and although he loves his job, today he just doesn’t feel up to it. He can’t stop thinking about Harry and how he’s fucked up perhaps his one chance at happiness. He forlornly begins the class and is just starting to discuss the students’ last paper, when the classroom door opens. Louis turns to scold a late student but finds Harry standing there instead. Louis is too stunned to speak.

“Hi, Louis.” Harry gives him a small smile with just a hint of a dimple, and turns toward the classroom. “Hi everyone.” The students return the greeting, some looking confused and others excited for something to happen that they can gossip about with other students.

“Wha...uh what are you doing here?” Louis’ throat feels so dry he can hardly get his tongue to work.

“I got your email.” This time his smile is wide enough to produce a dimple.

“Oh, well it took you long enough to respond. Have you come in person to let me down easy?” Louis’ voice sounds squeaky and petulant in his own ears and Harry takes a step back with a confused look on his face. Louis also notices that his entire classroom of students is so quiet you could hear a pin drop and decides that he needs to gain control again. He turns to face them.

“Guys, this is Harry Styles. He works at the Aldrych theater in the West End. He’s come in today to talk to everyone about what a dramaturg is and discuss what they do. Come on in Harry.” Louis points Harry towards his desk and invites him to sit on the edge of his desk facing the students. Harry goes obediently, but once he’s leaning against the desk with his legs out in front of him and crossed at the ankle, he just looks at Louis with confusion. Nothing is said for several seconds and a few students begin to quietly titter and laugh in their seats. Louis looks at Harry and motions with his hands for him to go on.

“errr um...yes. Um, I’m Harry Styles.” Several students break into laughter again until Louis snaps his fingers and tells them to pay attention. Harry continues, “um yes, Louis, uhh Mr. Tomlinson already told you my name. I work at the Aldrych theater, but I guess he already told you that too.” Harry turns to Louis looking helpless.

Louis prompts, “Mr. Styles, what is a dramaturg, and what do they do?” Harry smiles with understanding and turns back towards the class.

“Well Mr. Tomlinson and class, that’s actually a complicated question because a dramaturge can do many things and take on a lot of different roles depending on what theater, opera house or sometimes even film companies that they work for. They’re basically advisers and editors for the theater at large. You’re oftentimes researching, interpreting, adapting and editing scripts. Sometimes you’re involved in the hiring of actors; often dramaturges are playwrights in their own way.”

“What I do at the Aldrych is a combination of many of these things. I help the theatre decide which plays and musicals should be developed and performed during a season. I also consult with authors, study different books for play ideas and create workbooks for the directors and actors.”

Harry turns back to Louis. “I don’t know what else to say?” Louis smiles at him; he can’t believe how much you can miss a person in 7 days.

“Do you guys have any questions for Mr. Styles?”

To Harry’s surprise, a number of hands shoot up. Louis shrugs at him and gives him a thumbs-up. Harry begins taking questions.

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Thirty minutes later, the students have left and Louis and Harry are all alone.

“Do you have another class coming in right now that you’re going to force me to teach too?”

“Nope, just the one. You did very well , by the way. I’m sorry I put you on the spot, Harry. It was really because I didn’t want to cry in front of my students.”

“Cry? Why would you cry?”

“Well you came here to let me down easy, right? To tell me that you think we should only be friends? That I jumped too soon to wanting more with you.” Louis says these words to his feet, not even able to bring his head up to face Harry.

“Louis, what are you talking about? I came here because I just read your email; like seriously just read it this morning. You sent it to my work email! And after you left Plockton I got very depressed and hung around my mother’s house eating junk food and watching depressing rom-coms. I only checked my email for the first time in over a week, this morning. And I came here because when you read something like that you have to get here right away to say that you feel the same way.

“You do?” Louis chokes out, tears already starting to fall down his cheeks.

“I do. I’m falling in love with you too. And sure it may be too fast and we don’t know a lot about each other as adults yet, but I don’t care! If Perrie and Jesy think we’re worthy enough to be their best friends, we must have a lot of great things going for us. I think I’ve loved you since I was 13; definitely since I was 17. And I don’t want to waste another minute.”

“Can I kiss you now?” Louis asks through his tears.

“Hell yes!” And Harry and Louis move swiftly to each other and connect.

Their kisses become so intense that they just grab each other trying to get a close as they can to one another. They break apart after a few minutes, Louis resting his forehead against Harry’s chest.

“In about 5 minutes a bunch of 16yr olds will be walking in here and I don’t fancy them seeing me with a tear-stained face and a half hard cock. Will you get out of here for now? But I promise you that in…”, Louis looks at his watch, “three hours I will come meet you and go wherever you want to go.” Louis wraps his hands in Harry’s shirt and pulls his mouth back onto his for another kiss.

“How about I stay here with your last two classes and give my dramaturge presentation? I think I’m perfecting it; this teaching thing isn’t so hard.” Harry teases playfully.

“Alright. But I can’t promise I won’t get distracted, with you looking all hot and using sexy words like librett i.”

Harry cackles out a laugh and drops another kiss on Louis’ sweet mouth.

“Ooh I can’t wait to tell Perrie and Jes our news! They’re going to be so excited.”

Louis rolls his eyes. “Knowing them, they’ll be more excited about the fact that they don’t have to pay for one extra hotel room in Jamaica for the wedding.” They both chuckle.

“Oh? So you’re going to share my hotel room in Jamaica?” Harry smirks and holds Louis tight.

“Yes I am. I’m an expert at sharing hotel rooms with you. I might as well put that knowledge to good use.” Louis smiles at Harry as he brings their foreheads together and nuzzle their noses.

 

FIN