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Louis looked at the line that was winding down and around the pavement. Thank goodness Harry had said he would go ahead and save their place while Louis finished up at work. He hated working Saturdays, but that was what the bodega required and it was a job that paid enough to cover expenses as Louis explored his (unpaid) new job of full time auditioning. Louis made his way through the crowd until he saw a head of curly hair up near the entrance to Serendipity.

Louis slipped beneath Harry’s arm in an attempt to get the heavy look from a sleazy alpha further back off of him. He hated it when alphas acted all territorial. It made him feel like a piece of meat.

“Hey,” Harry said as he squeezed Louis’ shoulder. “Do you need me to act the proper boyfriend?”

Thankfully Harry was used to the routine and was willing to do whatever Louis needed and play along. “Nah, this should be enough for now.”

For now, Louis thought. Always for now. When Louis moved to New York City for school, it was intimidating to say the least. He had always dreamed of being on Broadway, and when he was accepted to American Academy of Dramatic Arts for the last two years of uni, he couldn’t decline. Sure, he could have finished school in London and tried for Broadway there, but there was just something about America’s Broadway that he didn’t feel in London. So here he was, years later, weaving his way through New York City trying to avoid the frequent alpha advances. Wasn’t New York City supposed to be known as the city that never sleeps? Not the city of annoying alphas. Get with the program guys!

Thank goodness for Harry, whom Louis had met only weeks after moving. He needed an American bank account and, by some miracle, had walked into a bank with the most beautiful alpha known to man. As in the most. Beautiful. Alpha. Known. To. Man.

Ever.  

Louis about died on the spot. And shit, did the alpha smell good. Like a deep dark chocolate, cinnamon, maybe some nutmeg...to be honest, Louis never knew how to describe it. It was just...Harry.

Harry introduced himself as a business banker. He told Louis he had no clients to assist at the time, and offered to help Louis in opening a standard bank account. Louis couldn’t stop himself from agreeing and Harry motioned for Louis to follow him. As they walked farther into the building, Louis gave himself a mental high five for finding someone in the city who was also from England.

Harry had an enclosed office, and once inside, offered a seat. They made easy conversation about their mutual love of the city, but also missing their families who were back in England. Harry had made simple, professional inquiries about why Louis had made the move, with a random question of whether Louis preferred pancakes or waffles. (The fuck?) (Pancakes, with chocolate chips.)

Their meeting went much longer than it probably should have, which was clear when there was a tap on Harry’s window with someone pointing to an invisible watch on their wrist. Harry’s eyes had gone wide and he handed Louis his packet of papers for his new account as well as his business card, onto which Harry had written his cell number “just in case you have any immediate questions”.  Louis internally rolled his eyes at that, knowing there would be no questions needed for a simple bank account. His internal eye rolling didn’t manage to stop his shy smile and the hope that his flushed face would go unnoticed. He walked out, somehow knowing Harry had noticed.

Louis, being incredibly busy getting ready for school, hadn’t been paying attention to the days that passed, hoping Harry would call. He hadn’t. Ten days later (he wasn’t counting the days!), an incoming call from an unknown New York City number came through. Louis stared at his phone, trying to collect himself, and answered seconds before it would cut to voicemail.

Harry had asked what Louis had assumed to be standard banker questions. Louis couldn’t quite be sure, as he was momentarily distracted by Harry’s smooth, rich, caramel voice. Thankfully, he had tuned back in precisely (or not?) when Harry had asked if he had been to Serendipity yet. According to Harry, they had the best frozen hot chocolate in the world. Louis questioned Harry on why you would freeze hot chocolate and was told he could find out if he joined Harry at Serendipity on Saturday. Louis agreed and, two years later, he and Harry were were still making monthly visits to Serendipity.

“Lou?” Harry asked with a small squeeze to his shoulders. “Earth to Louis.”

Louis snapped out of his reverie and looked up at Harry.

“Sorry,” Louis responded. “Zoned out for a moment.”

“You don’t say. I’ve asked you the same question three times now.”

Louis flushed under Harry’s tender gaze and waved his hand in a nonsensical motion as if telling Harry to continue. Or redo the question. Again. Whatever.

“Tell me,”  Harry stated.

“That’s not a question, that’s a statement,” Louis grinned innocently. “Tell you what?”

“Louis, less than twenty-four hours ago you told me you had something to tell me, but it was so big you couldn’t tell me over text. You couldn’t even tell me talking over the phone. It was too exciting that it had to be told in person! So, while I’m a very VERY patient person, please tell me.”

“Oh!” Louis exclaimed. He pulled out from under Harry’s arm where he was still nestled into the alpha’s side, and swiftly moved to face Harry.  

“Harry! Oh my God, Hazza!” He grabbed two fist fulls of Harry’s T-shirt to emphasize his excitement. “You won’t believe it! I don’t even believe it yet!” Louis was hopping on the balls of his feet in his excitement, ignoring the fact that everyone on the street seemed to stop and stare at the two of them.

Maybe Louis was being a bit overly dramatic, or a lot overly dramatic, but for some reason he wanted to drag it out until Harry gave a little growl of frustration. Louis would gladly admit he likes to see Harry’s alpha emerge. Or fake alpha, being as Harry never actually growled. He was so unlike other alphas that he could easily pass for a beta if he wanted to. With the mighty exception of his delicious smell of course. All the same, it had been a long day and Louis needed some alpha.

He was still hopping from foot to foot, hands clasping Harry’s shirt, when he felt Harry’s fingers wrap around his right wrist and gave a light squeeze. Louis froze. He had the strongest desire to fully submit and he couldn’t decide if that was a good thing or bad thing. The world was silent, the only thing he felt was a thrum of calm rushing through his body from where Harry held his wrist. He held in a whimper that nearly escaped and looked up at Harry through hooded eyes.

Harry had never held him like this. Louis had been hoping to retrieve a frustrated growl (be it fake or not) and Harry’s hands settling on his shoulders. Perhaps an action that was shared between an alpha and an omega couple, but could just as easily be playful platonic. But Harry’s response was an intimacy usually shared between alpha and omega mates.  Louis still hadn’t figured out why it was just a mate thing, but that was neither here nor there in the moment.

Louis had dropped his left arm and settled on his feet, but didn’t dare move his right arm. Harry’s grip was now featherlight but Louis could still feel it in his bones. Calm and alpha. They both glanced down at Harry’s hand holding onto Louis and Harry jerked back as if burned, Louis arm falling to his side. Louis didn’t know how he felt about that either. Did Harry not mean to do that? Why would he take such action if he didn’t mean to? If he didn’t want to?

“Sorry,” Harry whispered as he looked down at the ground. “I’m sorry, Lou. That was inappropriate.”

Louis decidedly did not like that reaction at all. “It’s okay.” Harry was still looking down. “Haz, it’s fine. You just proved that you really are an alpha. I was starting to think your time out for ruts was just an excuse to sit at home for a few days and be all beta-y. I live with Niall, he’s enough beta for me, I need me a nice alpha.” An alpha like you, Louis thought.

Harry’s head snapped up at that. He looked at Louis as if he was trying to work out some complicated math problem without a calculator.

Just then, Harry’s name was called by the hostess inside the door. Louis had told Harry there was no need to play the boyfriend role today, and while Harry always stayed platonic friend on those days, Louis didn’t say a word and intertwined his hand with Harry’s when he reached out.  

Weaving their way through the small restaurant eased any remaining tension. The hostess walked them upstairs and sat them at the “table where the movie ‘Serendipity’ was filmed”. Louis had long ago wondered if that was something a hostess was trained to say, as they were told that every time they were sat at The Table.

Louis picked up the menu and immediately put it back. “I’m going for the original frozen hot chocolate today, I’m thinking you should go with the frozen mint hot chocolate. It’s your choice of course, but, you know, just a thought.”

Harry rolled his eyes after receiving Louis’ eyebrow wiggle.  

“So?” Harry questioned with an expectant eyebrow raise.

“Oh!” Louis still felt Harry’s calming effect thrumming through him, but back to business. “Our professor told us today that Broadway is doing a revival of Grease! I mean, it will probably only be, like, six weeks of shows when it comes out, so we need to start praying that it will get a good turnout so it can stay longer!”

Another unrecognizable look flashed in Harry’s eyes before he was barking out one of his ridiculous laughs that only comes out when he’s truly amused. Louis scowled.

The waitress made her appearance at that moment making Louis’ scowl ineffective. Rude.

“Hello gentleman,” she greeted. “My name’s Cindy and I’ll be your waitress for the day. What can I get you two?”

“I’ll have a regular frozen hot chocolate, thank you,” Louis said.

Cindy nodded and turned to Harry for his order.

Harry gave her his award winning smile. He quickly glanced over at Louis and announced, “I think I’ll go for the frozen mint hot chocolate today. With two straws please.”

Cindy beamed, her final question being, “One check, or two?”

“Two, please,” Louis stated.

“One is fine, thank you,” Harry stated at the same time.

Louis looked over at Harry in confusion, they always split the check. Even if one or the other owed some money for pizza, they split the check, paying the other back by buying a pack of beer or something. It was some weird unspoken tradition that didn’t make sense, but that’s how it was with them. They split the check. Cindy looked between the two and settled on Harry. She gave a small nod and left. Ooookay?

“One check Harry?”

“It’s only five bucks Lou, let it go and tell me about Grease. Are you going to try out? Are you going for Danny? Please say that you are!”

“Harry, in some sort of miracle I got the part in high school, no way in hell am I going to get it on Broadway.”

Harry scrunched his face into his adorable angry kitten look and asked, “Why not?”

“Haz, that is the stupidest question you’ve asked in quite awhile, and you ask a lot of stupid shit.” Harry looked like he was going to protest, but ended up shrugging with a soft smile on his face.

Louis continued softer, “I’ve always been proud to be an omega, you know that, but there are limitations to what I can do. What omegas can do. I may try for another part, but you and I both know an alpha is going to be cast as Danny. I’m fine with that, truly, it’s going to be amazing.”

Harry didn’t look convinced, and definitely not happy, but nodded in agreement.

“So, what part are you going to go for then?”

Louis took a moment to think, Harry waiting patiently as always. “I’m thinking of not auditioning for this show. I think I’d rather watch it.”

Harry let out an undignified squawk, surprising both of them, and they both collapsed into a fit of laughter.

“Lou, you have to try out! I promise I’ll come watch you in the show 48 times, even more if the show gets extended past the six week run!”

Louis rolled his eyes.

“I’ll think about it. Although, you should prepare yourself to watch it 48 times whether I’m in it or not.”  

Cindy appeared with their large cups of frozen hot chocolate, setting them down with a quick, “Let me know if you need anything else”.

Harry and Louis both nodded in her direction and she left with a smile, leaving the couple alone.

Not couple. Harry and Louis weren’t a couple. Unfortunately, this was a fact that he had to remind himself from time to time.  

“So what are you up to tonight?” Harry inquired.

Louis leaned over the table and took a sip of Harry’s mint chocolate, using the second straw that was completely unnecessary.  

“I’m not sure. I know Niall has plans with Liam, but I don’t know if I’m in the mood a night out. It was a long day at work. You’d think a tiny corner bodega would be slow, but it never is.  I had a lot of crazies today.”

Harry grinned and asked, “And what type of craziness did you have that wore you out?”

Louis clenched his teeth for a moment before letting it all out. “Haz, what IS it about Saturday lottery ticket buyers? Seriously. They ALWAYS ask for a coin so they can scratch, like, twenty tickets while meandering around the store, thinking they look like they’re going to buy something, which they never do. And they lose practically every time. And, no offense of course, but the alphas are the worst. Do they really think they’re going to win every time? And then they look at me, as if I have a target on my head, because I’m the little omega who wouldn’t give them a winning ticket. Not to mention the scent of anger that rolls off of them that makes me feel like it’s my fault I ruined their life. I mean, seriously? It doesn’t make for a pleasant day. Sometimes I think that the Saturday alpha lottery ticket buyers are the reason my lovely boss pays me so well.”

Louis ended his rant and took a rather large sip from Harry’s drink, not even having touched his own. Harry didn’t seem to mind and, at some point, had pushed it closer to Louis so he didn’t even have to do much stretching to reach the straw.

Louis could tell Harry was watching him drink half of his mint chocolate, when Harry reached over and put his finger under his chin so Louis would meet his eyes.

After a beat, Harry simply stated, “Mine.”  

And okay? Harry had never reclaimed his drink before, but today was a weird day. In the back of his mind Louis wanted to believe that Harry was stating that Louis was his, not the drink, but Louis knew that couldn’t be true. With his finger still under his chin Louis slowly pushed Harry’s yummy frozen mint hot chocolate back to him. Harry tenderly brushed his thumb over Louis’ lips as he let go of his chin. Louis was going to die.

“Anyway,” Louis quickly continued. “What about you? Any plans?”

“Niall invited me as well, but I think I’m going to stay in. Maybe order some cookies and watch a couple episodes of Revenge .”

Louis perked up at the mention of having cookies delivered. A wide variety of warm delicious cookies, delivered straight to your door, with a side of a brownie, of course.

Louis rolled his eyes at the mention of the show Revenge though and as usual had to place his opinion on the matter.

“I still don’t understand why you watch that show. I mean, that one family is so annoying. And you’re way too zen to be watching a show about a girl taking revenge on everyone in her life. The only saving grace is that one guy who shows up once in awhile to help the girl with her revenge-y stuff.”

Harry squinted his eyes and asked, “That one guy? What one guy?”

“Harry, you know the one I’m talking about. He’s one of the few, fairly nice looking guys in the show. The one with the accent.”

“There’s more than one fairly nice looking guy?”

“Haz, why are you being weird? Stop being weird.”

Harry took that moment to duck down and took a sip of his drink. Was he actually blushing? It wasn’t unusual for Harry to get flustered or start blushing, but it rarely happened when it was just the two of them.

Cindy appeared on the stairs with what was likely the check. The moment she reached The Table Harry already had his debit card in hand for her to take, fending off any attempts for Louis to pay.  

Cindy gave Harry a smile and promptly took it, looking at their unfinished drinks. “Do you need anything else gentleman? I just wanted to bring the check by, there’s no hurry for you to leave or anything.”

Louis gave her a thumbs up, while sipping on his drink and she left them alone again.

Once she was gone Louis looked up and asked, “Do you ever notice that the only time they say there’s no hurry for us to leave is when we’re sitting at The Table? Which, by the way, ten bucks says this isn’t even the table that was in the movie, as it was filmed 28-ish years ago. It’s probably like a stunt double, but in the form of a table.”

Harry let out another one of his ridiculous laughs, eyes twinkling like Louis had just said the funniest thing in the world.

Harry looked straight at Louis and said, “You’re cute.”

Louis scoffed and provided his usual deflect, “I am not.  And neither are you.”

Harry just smiled. In reality, Louis’ inner omega preened when Harry said things like that. While it seemed like an insult from anyone else, it felt like Harry was giving him praise. Louis loved it. He also had the sudden realization that Harry had been saying it more frequently and wondered if he felt that Louis loved it. Oh please, God no, don’t let that be true.

Louis looked down at his half full cup of chocolate. There was no way he could finish it.

Harry, whose cup was empty, seemed to have the same thought.

“Lou, you drank half of my cup, I know you’re not going to be able to drink that whole thing. It’s rich chocolate, and these cups aren’t exactly small.”

Louis grimaced. The one time Harry paid was the one time he wasn’t going to finish? No way. Absolutely not. He was finishing it.

Harry nudged the cup that Louis was looking forlornly at.

He heard Harry give a small chuckle. “Let’s go, Lou. You can prepare yourself to drink both of ours next month. In the meantime, people want to sit at this stunt double table.”

Harry stood up to leave and Louis followed suit. They knew it wouldn’t take long for Cindy to come back with the final bill and found her practically running up the stairs to get Harry to sign.  

With the transaction complete, and Louis once again wondering why Harry had insisted on paying, the two weaved their way through the crowd of tourists and onto the quiet street, heading to the subway.

Louis looked over at Harry and wondered, “Why do we always come on a Saturday? Seriously, in practically two years we’ve always come on a Saturday, which is the absolute worst time to come because of the tourists. You’d think we would have switched it to a Wednesday by now.”

“It’s Serendipity Saturday, Lou. Serendipity Wednesday just doesn’t sound as nice.”

Louis shook his head. It was pointless to respond.

They stopped on the corner, Harry turning to Louis to ask, “So, your place, my place, or Broadway. You pick.”

“No Niall? He’s not even a choice? You better not let him find out.”

“Niall knows that we often leave him out of our plans. He’ll get over it, he always does. So, where to?”

Louis wanted to go to Broadway, no doubt, but he felt like he was always making Harry go with him. He chewed his thumbnail, waiting for the crosswalk to turn, and didn’t respond.

Louis kept his eyes forward, but felt Harry look at him from the side.  

Harry smacked Louis’ thumb from out of his mouth, and made the decision. “Broadway it is. Let’s go play the lottery. Let’s win a pair of tickets to see Wicked!”

Louis gave a small laugh but agreed. “You know we’re going to lose right? How many times have we tried to get tickets now? I’ve personally lost count. I’m a failure at winning Broadway show tickets, Haz. I’m a failure.”

Louis saw Harry roll his eyes. “You’re not a failure, Lou. You just, um, fail to win the lottery for tickets to see Wicked.”

Louis gave Harry his evil glare, “Thanks for that, I’ll log that away, now let’s go. I’m winning this time.”

An hour later they were still standing around the theater, waiting for the announcement of winners. Louis stood in front of Harry, back to front, with Harry’s arms draped over Louis shoulders. Harry would occasional whisper in Louis’ ear as they both people watched, trying to guess where people were from. Every single time Harry leaned in, Louis had to concentrate to contain a shiver of pleasure.

Something had changed. In the last few hours, ever since Harry wrapped his fingers around Louis’ wrist, there was a shift. Definitely subtle. Harry held Louis like this on a regular basis. Part of Louis brain hoped they would never win tickets, so they could continue to cuddle like this around the theater. This one was nice as the entrance was off the streets, so it provided a nice shelter and seclusion from the crowds.

Louis spoke softly when he started to speak, making Harry have to lean even farther into him to hear.  

“Why do we try to win lottery tickets on a Saturday? Why don’t we do THIS on a Wednesday too? When there are less people. So I can WIN.”

Harry stayed where he was, hunched over Louis, nearly cheek to cheek. Harry turned his head, moving his mouth directly over Louis’ ear, nose in his hair.

Harry whispered, “Louis Tomlinson, are you saying you give up? You don’t want to win tickets to see your favorite Broadway show?”

Louis had an answer, a definite one, but one that would cause him to have to move, and he didn’t want to. He felt so safe in the moment with Harry’s arms wrapped around him, his nose still in his hair. It was as if Harry wanted to scent him but was refraining from doing so. If Louis were in a night club, in this same position, with another alpha, it was practically guaranteed they would be scenting him. Not that Louis would let that happen.

Louis must have been silent for too long and Harry pulled back. Louis wanted to protest but, as always, didn’t know how to. This did, however, provide the opportunity for Louis to round on Harry to stand face to face.

Louis went in for his best evil glare, looking Harry in the eyes, and ground out, “I do NOT give up! I am winning these fucking tickets if it’s the last thing I do!”

For the third time that day there was a fleeting look in Harry’s eyes that Louis didn’t recognize. For the third time, Louis wanted to know what it meant.

Harry settled his hands on Louis shoulders and turned him around to face the theater doors. They stood back in their previous position, with Harry pulling Louis a little bit tighter into his body.

Harry leaned down again and gave him the tiniest peck of a kiss on his upper cheek. The moment so quick Louis wasn’t sure it happened.

“Good”, Harry whispered into his ear. “Never give up, Lou. I wouldn’t want you to.”

----

They lost. Because of course they did. As the crowd of losers dispersed from under the theaters’ large awning and into the streets, Louis instead sunk to the ground. It was still warm, the fall season not yet ready to move in, but it was fine. Everything was fine. Well, it wasn’t, but it was.  

“Louis,” he heard, but ignored, Harry above him. He put his head in his hands and wondered how many times they had played this stupid lottery. Screw what he said before, he was totally giving up.

“I take it back, Harry,” Louis mumbled in to his hands. “I give up. This is stupid. Why do we make this trip? This was the last time. I’m done. Life is stupid. I hate everyone and everything and I’m never going to see Wicked without having to pay full price.”

Despite Louis sitting on the ground mumbling in to his hands he knew Harry would hear him. Alphas and their heightened alpha hearing.

Louis felt Harry gently run his index finger through his fringe. He pretended to ignore it, while wishing Harry would continue the motion. There was no one around, everyone in the theater district at dinner before the shows began, the shows Louis wasn’t going to.  

“Ok, drama queen, are you about finished? This is just a tiny bit awkward hovering over you like this.”

Louis looked up and said, “You could join me if you like. It’s totally comfy down here, I promise.”

Harry laughed. “I’ll take your word for it, now let’s go back to yours and eat some cookies while watching Revenge .”

Louis mumbled, “Fine. I’m only watching if the good looking guy with the accent is in the episode though.”  

Harry was silent as he reached out to pull Louis up from the ground. No one was around, there were no sleazy alphas, Harry’s job as fake boyfriend wasn't required earlier in the day, but Harry didn’t release his hand after pulling him into a standing position.  They may have lost the ticket lottery, but the thought of disappointment was wiped away when Harry moved to intertwine their fingers.

----

Louis unlocked the door to his apartment, walking in with Harry close behind.  

“What’s up bitches!” Niall yelled from the couch. “It’s about time you’re back, what took you so long to drink a frozen hot chocolate? Ooh! Did you get to sit at The Table? You’re joining us tonight right?!”

You would think Louis would be used to Niall’s onslaught of questions and statements by now, but there were times when he still got overwhelmed when verbally attacked. Not that he would ever admit that.

Louis walked over and threw himself down on their second couch, that barely fit in the room.

Once seated, or sprawled out on, he caught Niall up on the days events. “Yes, we sat at The Table. Which meant that we didn’t get to spend as much time there as usual. So we went and played the ticket lottery for Wicked.”

“Don’t tell me,” Niall held up his hand and said. “You lost.”

Louis threw him a look, as he let Harry maneuver him so Harry could sit down on the couch as well, settling Louis’ head in his lap.

Louis turned to Niall and let out an exasperated sigh. “Yes Niall, I lost. Harry failed to win too though, so don’t put this all on me.”

Louis felt more than heard Harry chuckle over him and Louis threw him a glare.

Niall made a pouty face. “Oh, Lou Lou. When are you going to give it up already? Winners always go to the tourists. Not that it’s rigged, but they literally always go to tourists.”

“Now!” He continued. “Who’s up for a night on the town? I was thinking we could head downtown first. Liam agreed. You guys in?”

Louis felt Harry brush his finger through his fringe.

“I think we’re going to stay in this weekend. We went out last weekend, it’s time for a night in,” Louis informed.

Niall scoffed. “Party poopers! Party poopers is what you are. What are you going to do? Sit here and watch that stupid show Revenge ?”

Louis pointed up to Harry and poked him in the dimple.

He let out an exclaimed sound of triumph. “See, Harry! I’m not the only one who doesn’t like the show!”

Niall rolled his eyes. “You two are weird. Fine. Me and Liam will go by ourselves. Party poopers.”

Niall got up to get ready but first turned to Louis and asked, “Lou, are you still kicking me out next week? I’ll see if I can make plans with Liam.”

Louis cringed. Because of course Niall would say something in front of Harry.

“Yeah,” Louis stated. “That’s still the plan. Now run along, my little Irish idiot.”

Niall skipped the ten feet to his bedroom to get ready. Louis steeled himself for Harry’s inquiry.

“What’s next week, Lou?” Harry looked down at him with a confused look in his eyes.

“Nothing of much consequence. Don’t worry about it.” Louis knew Harry wouldn’t let it go but he could at least try.

Louis smiled and asked, “Should we order pizza with our cookies? I haven’t really eaten an actual meal since before work. I may, or may not, have eaten a granola bar that I purchased for half price. I gave myself a discount as a reward for working today.”

Louis pulled himself up to grab his phone he had placed on the table.  

“Lou? What’s next week?”

Louis sighed. “Can we order first? I’m hungry. And I REALLY want cookies.”

Harry was not going to let this go. Louis never had set plans, not weeks in advance. And definitely not something that would require Niall to leave the apartment. Louis told everything to Harry, well besides the obvious thing he couldn’t tell Harry, so the fact that he hadn’t said anything made it even more suspicious. When was Niall going to learn to not let every thought tumble out of his mouth with no filter? The faction system from Divergent wasn’t a thing. Candor isn’t a faction in the real world. Niall should not act like he is part of it.

Harry continued to give him a quizzical look but moved on, grabbing Louis phone out of his hands the moment Louis was sitting back on the couch, having unlocked it.

“Oi! My phone, Haz! I’m in charge of ordering!”

Harry kept hold of his phone. “Not tonight. It’s my turn. And I know what you like anyway so hush.”

Harry stuffed Louis’ phone into the side of the cushion, making it out of reach, then pulled out his own, opening up his app for food delivery.

Quieter Louis stated, “Hazza, order from my phone please, my card information is auto saved so I can pay you back for my drink, which was nine bucks by the way, not five.”

Harry pulled Louis into his side and wrapped his arm around his shoulders. Louis melted into him, while simultaneously kicking off his shoes and pulling his socked feet onto the couch, so he could move in closer to Harry's warmth. Harry gently moved Louis so his head was cradled back into his lap, Louis’ face looking up to Harry.

Harry spoke gently, “Not tonight, Lou, I’m paying. Please let me.”

Harry gave Louis a tender smile and ran his finger along Louis jaw.

“Okay,” Louis whispered.

They both jolted when Niall came stumbling out of his room, Harry quickly moving his hand to rest on Louis chest, so he would remain in their current position.

Niall was quick to leave, waving over his shoulder and yelling for them to have a good night.

Harry went back to business, quick to order a pepperoni pizza from their favorite spot and moving over to the bakery app, to place an order of cookies.  

“What are you in the mood for?” Harry asked.

“I want ten of everything. And a brownie,” Louis joked.

“Ok, so it’s my pick then, is it?”

“Go for it. Whatever you’re in the mood for. You’re the one paying for it.” Louis grinned up at Harry, who was supposedly intensely working on the cookie order. Once complete, which turned out to be a lot faster than usual, Harry set his phone on the arm of the couch and placed his attention on Louis.

Here we go.  

“What’s next week, Lou?” There was concern in Harry’s eyes.

Louis sighed, keeping his eyes on Harry for his response. “I’m going to have a heat.”

Harry stiffened. “What do you mean you’re going to have a heat? I thought you were on suppressants.”

“I am, but,” Louis took a moment in an attempt to collect himself, explaining it to Niall had been so easy. Just let it fly.

He continued, “Of course I take suppressants. But the reality is that my body is wired to have a heat every other month, it’s biology. It’s kind of like your friend with epilepsy, right? He takes medication to stop any seizures, but who knows what those medications are doing to his body. I mean, have you read any of the side effects? There’s crazy shit, like short term memory loss, and who knows what they’re doing to his body physically.”

Louis paused, turning his head to face the tv that was currently off.

“Suppressing seizures, something that is usually not meant to happen to one's body is harmful enough, but I’m suppressing biology. Even after all these years, side effects have not been solidified because every omega is different. So who the hell knows what they are doing to my body.”

Louis glanced up at Harry, who was watching Louis, frown lines in place. Louis turned back to the tv to continue.

“I go off my suppressants once a year, to let my body go through a heat, let it do what it’s biologically supposed to do. It sucks, you have no idea how much it sucks, but it’s something my mom strongly suggested I do, and I’ve continued to do so. I torture myself once a year and have a heat.”

Louis took a deep breath and let that stew in the air for a moment. He was feeling anxious already, knowing it was coming up, having told Harry was making him sick to his stomach, his appetite for food gone.

Harry seemed to come back to life, body slightly relaxing. He moved and turned Louis head, eyes locking. Louis could feel the heat in his face, flushed from embarrassment.

Harry still had a frown on his face. “Why have you never told me this?”

Louis shrugged.

“It’s not something I tend to share. Ever. I only told Niall because I figured he wouldn’t want to be around, or that it was best for him to not be around. I’d prefer he not hear me. No omega in their right mind chooses to have a heat. Not without a mate at least, so I’ve never thought to share, or I didn’t want to. I don’t know, Harry.”

Louis watched as Harry processed the information. “I don’t understand why you never told me, Lou. Have you been subjecting yourself to days in heat by yourself?” He paused for a moment. “Or does someone help you?”

Louis could see the beginning of a storm raging through Harry’s eyes.  

Louis continued, “I usually, or always, have scheduled my heat so it’s on schedule for when I’m back in London. Fizzie made the torturous decision to have three heats a year, God bless her, so we have a heat room in our house. I’ve always scheduled my time at home to be longer than necessary, or very necessary in my case, so I could go through my heat. No one has ever helped me.”

Louis watched, and felt, relief wash through Harry’s body. Some of the anxiety in his stomach lifted at the same time. Huh. That was a thought he would think back to later.

They, or at least Louis, were saved by the buzzer of the complex. He jumped to open the building door to let them up. Hoping that was the end of the discussion of his heat. It probably wasn’t.

The pizza delivery guy, who Louis knew well at this point, made it up the stairs in no time. Louis signed a scribble that looked nothing like what harry would sign and settled on the floor by the coffee table, Harry joining him.

“I tell you what, Haz, one of the best things about this pizza place is how fast they arrive. Like, this is seriously good pizza and it’s here, hot, fresh and delivered so fast.”

Harry chuckled. Harry got up for plates (totally unneeded) and napkins (probably needed) and grabbed the TV remote on the way back, settling next to Louis.

“So what episode are you on?” Louis inquired.

Harry looked over, rolling his eyes, and stated, “The one we left off on.”

Louis scoffed. “Harry, why don’t you watch this show at home? Save me from having to watch it.”

Harry leaned over and bumped Louis shoulder with his.

“Lou, in spite of how much you complain and make fun of this show, I know you like it. Look me in the eyes and tell me you think it’s stupid and don’t like it. If you can do that, then we can watch something else.”

Louis scowled at his slice of pizza and stated, “I don’t like it.”

“No, Lou. You have to look me in the eyes and tell me that, if you can. Which you can’t. I know it.”

The problem was is that Harry was right. And Harry knew that he was right. There were the occasional intriguing and suspenseful moments that Louis thought were interesting, and he liked watching things unfold as they did in the show. Most of the time he was sat snuggling into Harry’s side when they watched. He knew Harry had to feel the interest and contentment.

He turned to Harry and with finality stated, “I can admit that I like watching the show, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that I think it’s a good show. As previously stated, on many occasions, that one family is so annoying. Ugh. Gross.”

Harry continued to hold his gaze and gave a small laugh.

“Okay, fair enough. Now, should we continue and watch?”

“Fine.”

Harry pulled up Netflix, and as promised they started where previously left off.

Louis couldn’t quite get the reminder of his upcoming heat out of his head, only eating one slice of pizza, claiming he was saving room for the cookies. Harry just nodded and let it go. Bless him.

It took until the middle of the second episode for the cookies to arrive. They always expected it would take awhile, which is why they placed the dinner and desert orders at the same time.

Louis jumped up and met the delivery guy (also a familiar face) at the door. He scribbled random lines for Harry’s signature and was provided with two boxes.

“These are all for here??” he asked. Louis was pretty sure his name was Tom, but it could have been Paul.

Tom/Paul smiled, gave a simple “Yep” and turned to leave, Louis thanking him on his way out.

“Harry! How many cookies did you order??? Two boxes?”

“You said you wanted ten of everything Lou, so I settled for two of everything.”

“Haz! This had to have cost a fortune! Why?” Louis stood in front of Harry, who had moved back onto the couch.

“You said you wanted ten of everything, so I settled for two of everything.” He innocently smiled.

“Thank you for repeating your previous statement, giving me no explanation as to why you would do that. Don’t they have, like, ten different cookie flavors by now? We can not eat all of these.”

“Yes you can. And you will. We both know it. Kind of like we both know you like this show.”

Louis rolled his eyes and sat on the couch with the cookie boxes in between them.  Harry really had ordered two of everything, making Louis wonder how much this had cost him. It was a lot, that much was sure.

Louis had forgotten to pick up milk this week, which he used as an excuse for only being able to eat two cookies. He normally would have eaten ten in one sitting and Harry knew that too. While Louis loved that they shared everything with each other, in this moment he wished that Harry didn’t know about his plan for a heat. Niall better sleep with one eye open moving forward. He was so going down for mentioning it in front of Harry.

Harry moved the boxes and took the rare opportunity to stretch himself fully on the couch, pulling Louis down with him so they were spooning with Harry holding tight around Louis’ chest, leg thrown over him to keep him in place.  

The two of them were tactile, affectionate people, at least with each other. Harry never shied away from holding Louis in one way or another, whether it be hands or just an arm around the shoulder, the arm around the shoulder being most often.  It could always be passed off as platonic. Louis would take whatever he could get and may, or may not, play up needing Harry to act as his boyfriend, or at least his protector against other alphas, on more occasions than necessary. That was one thing Louis thinks Harry didn’t know.

Harry only held him like this when Louis was sad, maybe missing his family, or it was extremely noticeable that he strongly needed an alpha’s touch and warmth. Harry usually asked before taking the action, despite knowing Louis needed or wanted it.

There were no words this time, they just clicked in to position, like it was natural. The TV show continued to play, but Louis had no idea what was happening with the plot. He was lost in the thought of having a heat away from home, wondering if he should just skip this year and keep on his suppressants. He only realized he had been trying to hold himself, arms folded over his stomach, when Harry moved his arm from Louis’ chest and, instead, settled over his arms.

Louis worked to breathe normally, as Harry brushed his fingers back and forth over the top of his hand.  He stopped the motion and moved to settle his hand over Louis wrist, making no farther movement. Louis shifted back towards Harry a fraction in the hope to gain more of Harry’s touch. Whether that was what worked, Louis wouldn’t know, but either way he felt Harry slowly stretch out his hand and gently wrapped his fingers around Louis wrist. The action was so slow as to give Louis time to move away if he wanted. He didn’t want to. Harry gently squeezed his wrist, and all of Louis’ anxiety and fear left his body. All replaced by alpha, by Harry. He couldn’t suppress the whimper that escaped his mouth, as his body went limp in Harry’s arms.  

Louis wondered if Harry was even watching the show, whether he could see the TV.  

He came to a start when he felt Harry move to whisper in his ear.

“Lou, can I scent you?”

Louis almost laughed. Only Harry Styles. Every other alpha in the world just took, would just scent. Although it could be rude and unwanted at times, it was part of their nature. Maybe it was because they had been friends for so long, who knows what Harry thinks half the time. Either way, the answer was simple.

“Please Hazza.  Please.” The sound of the TV almost stole his response but Harry had his alpha ears and Louis knew he would hear.  

Harry nosed down through Louis hair, behind his ear, along his neck, and scented. Louis clenched his ass to make sure no slick would pass through, though he knew Harry would feel his arousal either way.  

“It’ll be okay, Lou. You’ll be okay.”

It had been a long day, a confusing day. Harry’s pheromones shifted to an even stronger sense of calm, and Louis closed his eyes.

He hadn’t meant to fall asleep and was frankly surprised he could, considering how hard he was getting after Harry scented him. But he woke with Harry running his fingers along Louis jawline, his nose still burrowed in his neck.

“Did I fall asleep?” Louis asked, the answer quite obvious and he rolled his eyes at himself.

“You did. You missed three episodes.”

Louis flipped around to face Harry, probably the closest space they had ever shared. Louis hoped his breath didn’t stink.

“Did I miss the hot accent guy?”

Harry rolled his eyes. “Louis you know his name, stop calling him hot or accent guy, or fairly hot accent guy. His name is Aiden. Call him Aiden.”

“Fine. Did I miss Aiden the hot, or maybe fairly hot, guy with the accent?”

Harry gave a soft chuckle and reached up to run his fingers through the back of Louis hair.  

“You did not miss Aiden. I think he’s gone for the season. I may have zoned out, we’ll have to go back and watch them again. Or for the first time, but again.”

Louis smiled. “Okay.”

And of course that’s when Niall arrived, jiggling his key ‘just so’ into the door and letting himself in. Louis couldn’t see, but assumed Niall had halted when he walked in and saw Louis and Harry so close.

Niall spoke up, “Okaaaay, I’ll just be heading to bed. Goodnight, you two.”

Louis grunted. Harry, being Harry, waved and gave a jovial “goodnight, love you Niall. Forever and ever.”

“You’re an idiot,” Louis kindly informed Harry.

“Takes one to know one,” Harry smiled. “Anyway, I should be heading home. I don’t technically work tomorrow but I have a few things I need to finish up for a new client.”

Louis yawned and moved to stand up so Harry could move. Before he had the chance, Harry held on to his hair, gently pushed his nose into Louis neck, and scented him. Quick, but driving the point home. Well, Louis hoped there was a point.

----

As soon as the door closed behind Harry, Niall was flinging his bedroom door open, skidding into the room.

“Lou, did you ask him?” Niall wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.

Louis sighed. “Ask him what? I thought you were going to bed.”

“I was, or I was just lying there waiting until he left, whatever. Did you ask him?”

“Seriously, Niall. Ask him what?”

Niall took Louis’ hand and headed to the couch to sit down.

“Louis, answer me this.” Okay, and he was serious. “Is Harry your mate?”

Louis threw him an exasperated look, hoping, in vain, that Niall would leave him alone so he could go to bed.  

“I’m serious Lou, is Harry your mate? I mean, I know the answer but I want to have it verified, from the horse's mouth and all that.”

Louis rolled his eyes. “And what makes you think you know Harry’s my mate?”

And oh, Louis was awake now, remembering Niall’s inquiry about the weekend. Louis got up and stood over him in an attempt to look menacing.

Louis smacked Niall on the head, wanting to yell at him, but trying to keep his voice controlled. “And what the fuck was that Niall?!? Earlier, before you left. Why did you ask about my heat? Why would you say something like that with Harry here?! You were the only one, the ONLY person, I’ve ever told that to beyond my family Niall! That was personal information. You knew Harry wouldn’t let a comment like that go!”

So, maybe he wasn’t keeping his voice lowered and controlled. Niall at least had the decency to look ashamed or sorry.

“Lou,” Niall started quietly, patting the couch so Louis would sit back down. “Harry isn’t your ordinary alpha. I may be beta, but I’m not stupid. He clearly loves you, I’d bet my life on the fact that he’s your mate. And you don’t have to answer me if you don’t want to, but, he’s just, he’s not your ordinary alpha. You are not a prize to be won with him. Well, maybe he does believe you are a prize, in his eyes at least, but he’s not going to claim you, he wants to be one hundred percent sure before he takes his omega-- you. If he were like, not Harry, you would be off suppressants and fucking every night. You know I’m right. Okay, maybe not that last bit, but you know I’m right.”

Louis sat silent as Niall continued, “He scented you tonight, didn’t he?”

Louis turned. confused, “How would you know that?  You can’t smell it can you?”

“No. So, he did?”

“Niall, it’s been a long, and quite confusing day, even before you brought up my heat," Niall cringed. “I just want to go to sleep, okay? It’s late.”

Niall put his hand on Louis’ knee forcing him to stay seated, and continued.

“Just hear me out okay? I’m sorry I brought up next week, which I knew would in turn have Harry inquiring. I’m sorry, really. It was a bad way to handle things, things I have no right to be involved in. But he’s your mate Louis! Seriously Lou, how long have you known? How long have you been waiting for him to say something, for him to even scent you? You two have friendzoned each other so hard and for so long now that neither of you knows how to get out of it. Ask him to help you with your heat, Lou. Even if you knows you’re not going to have another alpha here, it’s going to kill him to not be able to help.”

Louis remained silent, picking at his fingernails. He stood up to head to bed. “I’ll think about it.”

Before he could get to his door Niall asked, “So, is Harry your mate?”

“Yes, Niall,” Louis responded quietly, still facing his door.  

“Did he scent you tonight?”

Louis turned around, wishing he had something to throw. “Shut up, Niall. Go to bed, but I’d recommend sleeping with one eye open.”

Louis rolled his eyes for the final time, and went to climb into bed. He fell asleep wishing Harry was here to hold him.

----

Waking up, Louis eyed his bottle of suppressants.  If he was going to have his heat, he would need to stop taking them today, to allow everything to get out of his system.  He thought back to the previous day, how Harry had caught his wrist when they were waiting to go into Serendipity. His apology after, with conflicting emotions in his eyes.  How he had reclaimed his drink, with a simple “mine”, promptly after Louis had recounted his day of dealing with scent throwing alphas. How Harry had held him tighter and closer than usual waiting for the lottery, and how he had unnecessarily held his hand when walking around the city.  How he had paid for everything, including about 26 expensive cookies, as if an alpha were doting and providing for their omega. How Harry had cuddled him, held him, and provided soothing pheromones to help him calm down. How Harry had scented him for the first time in two years.

Louis startled at that, thinking of the length of time. Louis hadn’t allowed himself to be fucked by anyone since he met Harry, sticking with hand and blowjobs by betas, not wanting another alpha, even for temporary relief.  How the fuck was he still alive? He almost reached down to see if his balls were still intact at the thought.

But what about Harry? Certainly he wouldn’t rely on hand and blowjobs for two years.  Louis didn’t want to put thought behind that, being as there may have been other omegas involved.  Tossing that thought to the side, he stood up, taking his bottle of suppressants and shoving them in his desk drawer.  There to stay for a week.

He trudged to the bathroom, wondering if having a yearly heat actually did help, or if it did make a difference.  He never actually researched the idea, blindly following his mothers wise guidance. She always seemed to know more about him as an omega than he did himself, after all.  He would have this heat and then research the shit out of it. If there was nothing conclusive, this would be his last heat. He breathed a little lighter at that and prayed there would be nothing conclusive.  

He started a mental clock.  He had about a five day countdown, dreading the time when his heat would begin.

----

There were fewer people than usual at Sunday game night, Liam and Harry being the only two to join them at Louis’ and Niall’s place.  Liam, being the kind hearted person that he is, brought a pack of beer. Harry, being, well, Harry, hauled a massive load of bottled water up the four flights of stairs.  Being the last to arrive, Louis, Niall and Liam looked at each other in confusion, all three likely wishing Harry had went to the beer aisle instead.

Niall was the one to speak on their behalf, “Um, thanks Harry.  A pack of beer would have been better.  But, er, yeah. Thanks for the contribution.  Also, did you know that New York City has the best drinking water in, like, all of the United States?  I don’t know if that’s true, but I know I saw a sign about having really good water here.”

Harry rolled his eyes and continued past them into Louis’ room.  Leaving the massive package on the floor and returning to the living room.  

Harry stated, “Water is much more satisfying, if one is in heat.”  He provide no further information.

Liam looked to Niall, Niall looked to Louis, Louis glanced at Harry, and returned his eyes to Niall, narrowing them and giving him a look so Niall knew he was not to speak about it.  He seemed to take the hint, Niall declaring,

“Okay, boys.  I’m thinking Monopoly.  I’ll even volunteer to be banker.”

Liam responded, “I’m in for Monopoly, but Niall is not being banker.”

Louis agreed, “Count me in, I’m the shoe piece, so I can stomp all over you guys.  And Liam can be banker. You cheat and you know it Niall.”

Niall scoffed, “I do not cheat.”

Harry joined in with a “Yes, you do.”

“Fine” Niall declared, “Liam can be the banker and I’ll be the car piece so I can run over Louis’ shoe, saving us all.  I volunteer Harry to be the dog piece. Liam?”

Liam seemed to randomly pick a piece from where Niall had dumped them, ending up with the hat.

All four sat at their small square coffee table, Louis sitting across from Niall, to better see the amount of bills he was counting.  After the board was set up, Liam organized himself as the banker and handed everyone their set amount of money. Let the game begin.

Twenty minutes in, Louis landed on Boardwalk straight after landing on Park Place and gave a triumph air pump in celebration.  They were all going down when he started building his beautiful land of red hotels.

“You are all going down suckers!  We might as well just declare me as the winner.  None of you lot are even close to being able to buy houses.”

Liam looked over and provided his profound information, “You know Lou, and I’m pretty sure you’ve been told this before, but the likelihood of people landing on the blue properties is statistically lower than other places on the board.  You really should rethink your strategy.”

Niall continued, “What Liam means to say, is that you just spent all of your money on properties that you’re not going to make any money on.  Congratulations, you might as well fold.”

Louis glared, “This is not poker Niall.  I will not fold, or give up, or whatever.  Prepare to lose.”

Louis turned to Harry, “Hazza, back me up here.”

Harry snickered, “You’ve got this, Lou.  You’ve spent your money wisely. You always do.”

Niall snorted.  Louis went back to plotting his win.

A half hour later, Louis was almost bankrupt.  This was the fastest Monopoly game they’d ever played.  Hotels built and crumbled. He hated Monopoly.

“I hate Monopoly.” He stated. “I vote this game to be boring and we play Fifa instead.”

“Not a chance Tommo, I’m in the lead, and I’m not even banker.” Niall provided.

Louis looked across at him, “So, my takeaway from that statement is that all the other times you were in the lead, you were a thieving banker.  Is that what you’re saying?”

Niall scoffed.  “Good try, but, no.  Now, it’s your turn.  Good luck, if you land on pretty much anywhere that requires money, you’ll probably be out.”

Niall was right.  Louis was out. He was never playing Monopoly again.

“I am never playing monopoly again.  I hate you all.” He got up and headed to the kitchen, calling “anyone else for another beer?”

He got a yes from everyone, grabbed four beers, and handed them out.  It was a quick game for Louis, but it looked like the other three players were all fairly even in properties and money.  It may be awhile. He moved to go lay on the couch to wait, maybe take a nap, but Harry caught his hand.

Harry smiled up at him, “Come here Lou.  Come help me win.”

Niall snorted.  Again. Louis ignored him and moved to sit next to Harry.  Harry had other plans though and moved to pull Louis into his lap, settling him between his crossed legs so they could both face the board.

It was Harry’s turn and after rolling the dice, he prompted Louis to blow on them for good luck.

The game continued, Louis held and counted Harry’s money, while Harry held Louis tight across his stomach, planting a small kiss to Louis’ pulse point when he didn’t think the others were paying attention.  

At one point, on Harry’s turn, he rolled a double, which for any number of reasons prompted Niall to shout out, “Ooh!  Look at that big alpha dog run around the board! Such a good alpha!”

Louis was going to strangle him.  For the moment though, he handed Harry’s money to him and turned in Harry’s lap to rest his cheek on his chest.  He closed his eyes and just breathed Harry in, ignoring the rest of the world in return for Harry’s ministrations of running his hand up and down his back, often stopping to rub light circles with the pad of his thumb on the nape of Louis’ neck.  Louis gave a fleeting thought on how Harry was playing with one hand, but threw that thought away.

Louis wondered if he had fallen asleep as he jolted at Niall hopping up and started singing “We are the champions.” Changing the ‘we’ to an “I’, of course.  

“You’re an idiot, Niall” Louis stated before turning his face into the crook of Harry’s neck without a second thought.  

He thought he heard Niall stumble over his words and Liam cleared his throat, maybe getting up to clear the board, but all thoughts were wiped away as Harry turned into him as well and scented him.  Louis was in heaven.

Louis came to when he heard his name being called by Niall, who appeared to be about to leave with Liam.

“Louis?” Niall questioned.  “Lou, me and Liam are going to go get ice cream, do you want anything?”

Louis perked up and moved to get up off the hard floor.  Harry held him down. “Ooh! Mint chocolate chip please. It’s my favorite.”

Mint chocolate chip ice cream wasn’t his favorite.  Cookies and cream was.  Or double chocolate chip, depending on the day.  

Niall eyed him, “Maybe there’s something else minty that’s your favorite, but it’s not ice cream.  I’ll get you cookies and cream.”

Niall turned to Harry, “Harry?  Anything?”

“No, I’m…” Harry started.

Louis interrupted, “Harry REALLY likes double chocolate chip!”

Harry smiled at Niall, “It’s true, can you get me double chocolate chip?”

Niall looked between the two of them.  “I have never in my two-ish years of knowing you, even seen you LOOK in the direction of double chocolate chip, let alone eat it, but sure.  I’ll even bring you two scoops.”

“Yay!” Louis exclaimed. “Hurry back!”

Louis must be high.  Was he acting like he was high?  

Niall rolled his eyes, “we’ll be back in say, a half hour?  Liam?”

Liam responded, “Actually, I think I’m going to head home, I’ve got my final quarter of classes to look forward to.”

Louis snorted, “Liam, classes don’t start for another two weeks, Niall’s going to call you a party pooper if you leave this early.”  Louis looked at the clock, “it’s only nine o’clock.” Louis paused for a moment. “Wow, that was both the shortest and longest game of Monopoly we’ve ever played, that was almost three hours?  How did it take two hours for you three to finish?”

Louis wondered if Harry’s legs were dead, three hours was way too long to sit in one position, let alone having someone sitting on you.  

Liam called a “Goodnight”, Niall yelling a “See you in a few”, and the door closed behind them.  

With the door closed Louis moved to stand up, offering Harry a hand, which he took with a smile.

“Harry, how are your legs not dead?  I mean, I wasn’t sitting on you exactly but even without, did you not move in three hours?”

“I’m fine, Lou, like you said, you weren’t sitting on me”.

Louis looked down as he made his way to the couch, “I’m sorry, I should have been paying attention to the time or something, we both should have moved around some.  My Apple Watch would be angry at me if it knew I hadn’t stood up in over an hour. Thankfully the battery is dead, so it will never know.”

Louis looked back to Harry with a shy smile, Louis phone pinging with a text message.  He picked up his phone and saw a text from Niall. He turned to Harry and rolled his eyes.

“Apparently, both of them are ditching us, which means no ice cream.  Why would they even ask if they weren’t going to bring us some?! How rude is that?”

Louis knew Niall was trying to give Louis time to talk to Harry about his heat, but now he just wanted ice cream.  Thanks for the reminder, Niall.

Louis shot a text back advising him to come drop off the ice cream before leaving with Liam.  He received an immediate text back.

“Oh good!” Louis exclaimed, “Niall is going to drop off our ice cream before ditching us.  All is well in the world.”

Harry laughed, having pulled himself on to the couch.  He patted the cushion next to him to signal for Louis to move closer.  Louis grabbed the remote, turned on Netflix and pulled up Revenge .  He belatedly scolded himself for being so quick to pull up the show when he was supposed to hate it.  In an attempt to save his image he stated,

“I think we should fast forward to the episodes with Aiden, the hot alpha guy with the accent.  Let’s skip the boring episodes.”

Harry let out a quiet, quick growl and Louis’ eyes widened as he continue to stare at the TV.  That was not a fake alpha growl Louis always got, that was real.

“No.” Harry simply stated.

Louis gave the tiniest of whimpers and whispered an, “Okay.”

Harry had just pulled alpha.  Like, a territorial, alpha. He couldn’t believe it.  He could.  But he couldn’t. Louis wanted to provoke him some more to see what would happen.

Which is, of course, when the lock jiggled, Niall opening the door.  Louis had never seen Niall move so fast. He moved to set the ice cream on the table and was back out of the door, locking it behind him, before Louis had the time to say a proper thank you.  Okay then.

Niall had grabbed some plastic spoons and napkins so there was no need to get up, Louis settling back into Harry’s side, arm protective around Louis’ shoulders.  Holding Louis, and apparently being slightly territorial against Aiden, the fictional hot accent guy. Emphasis on the fictional, or at least an actor in a faraway land.

Harry had to know he was Louis’ alpha, right?  Niall was right, alpha and omega mates had friendzoned themselves so hard and for so long and Louis had no idea what to do.

Louis’ thoughts wandered as they watched the episode, while he sat eating both his and Harry’s ice cream.  He looked over to find Harry watching him, once again the episode continuing while neither were paying attention.  

“Thanks for the ice cream, Haz”.

“Niall bought it babe, you can thank him.”

“I know, but you know what I mean.”

“What DO you mean, Lou?”

“Nothing, just that you ordered ice cream that you don’t even like, and you’re here holding it for me while I eat it.” Louis smiled up at Harry, “You’ll lovely Hazza.  Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, love.”

Not that Louis paid attention, because he totally didn’t, but Harry had never called him love before.  His inner omega preened louder than ever. He finished up both of their ice creams, set the bowls on the table, and leaned back into Harry.  

Louis had to know it was coming, but it still surprised him when Harry whispered in his ear.

“Lou, when are you having your heat?”

Louis gulped, hopefully not loud enough to be heard, and pushed on.

“I stopped my suppressants this morning.  It should start Friday morning, as in Thursday night slash Friday morning.  That way I’m only out of work for three days.”

Harry stiffened, “You’re working up until your heat Lou?  There are too many alphas that come in to your place for you to do that.  It’s not safe for you. You know that right?  They’ll smell you going into heat.  It’s not safe. Please take at least Thursday off as well Louis.”

And whoa.  Protective alpha Harry really has emerged.  Welcome to the world.

“That’s what desensitizers are for Haz.  It’s fine. I’ll be perfectly safe. My boss works the same hours as I do this week.  Stop worrying.”

Louis paused, “Wait, why are you worrying?  Why are you telling me this?”

Harry was silent.  Louis sat there mentally punching the alpha next to him to be a fucking alpha and offer his help.  According to Niall, and Louis would agree, Louis was a prize to be won. So claim your fucking prize!  Louis was still mentally air punching. He also wanted to cry. He was a grown adult, it was the 21st century, and most omegas flat out told their mate that they were, in fact, their mate.  No dancing around. Why couldn’t Louis have just done that? It took a few months of adjusting to a new life before Louis realized it, but a few months is a lot less awkward and easier than waiting two fucking years.

Louis had turned into a mess of emotions in a matter of minutes.  He knew Harry felt it, hell, Niall could probably feel it at this point, it was so overwhelming. This was a whole new level.

“Let’s lay down, Lou.” Harry moved to stand up, bringing Louis with him, “Come on, let’s lay down.”

“Where are we going?”

“Your bed.  There’s more room than this tiny couch.  You need to lie down, love.”

Louis was still mentally punching, and crying and freaking the fuck out because a day had gone by and he was another day closer to his heat.

They moved silently in to Louis’ room.  Harry moving to lie on his side and pulling Louis in to him in the same position they were in the previous night.  Harry wrapped his hand around Louis’ wrist in no time, scenting him. Harry’s calming pheromones filled the small room.  If Louis wasn’t so tired he knew he would be slick and rock hard. Or maybe he was.

He fell asleep to Harry’s pecking small kisses on to his neck and behind his ear.  Louis wanted him so much it hurt. He would tell him.

----

Harry was gone when he woke.  It was morning and Louis hadn’t slept so well in days.  It must have been Harry’s scent, that still lingered in his room.  Louis didn’t have time to think, he had work to get to and wasn’t even sure when he would be able to see Harry next.  He had no doubt he would be around before his heat began, just the timing was unknown.

Louis sent Harry a good morning text, letting him know he had slept the best he had in days, maybe weeks.  There was no response but he knew Harry was already at work. He also knew that he had two new clients and that he was usually very busy when he got a new client, let alone two at the same time.  

It dawned on Louis that that scared him.  What if something did happen, as Harry had feared, and he needed help?  He took a minute to laugh at that thought. He had planned on going through this heat on his own, he wasn’t a weak omega and could handle things by himself thank you very much.

----

Louis was a weak omega and couldn’t handle things by himself, he decided. It was Thursday morning.  He had gotten up, but was back in bed pondering the meaning of life. He still hadn’t talked to Harry about his heat.  Not because he didn’t want to, he wanted to badly, but he just didn’t have time to.

Harry had come over late Tuesday night when Louis was trying to sleep.  He hadn’t slept at all the previous night, maybe fitting in an hour, yet sleep would not come.  Harry had snuck into his room and laid down beside him, cocooning him in and pulling him to sleep.  While grateful for it, he was now beating himself up for not staying awake a few more minutes to talk.  To ask for help. To tell Harry that he was his mate.

Wednesday afternoon Louis had come home to a bag filled with three of Harry’s jumpers all smelling strongly of him.  Despite Harry having already texted him (which he had amped up a LOT these past few days.) he had still left a note telling Louis to put one on to keep warm.  He had rolled his eyes, as it was technically still summer, but put it on anyway and took a nap snuggling the other two.

Harry had offered to bring his laptop over to work at Louis’ place Wednesday night, a night they usually went out to dinner or ordered in with Niall and Liam.  Louis had declined, not wanting to interrupt his work, hoping maybe if he was able to concentrate he could get things completed faster and be free for the weekend.

Louis’ phone pinged with another text message, bringing him back to the present.  Ok, so maybe him and Harry hadn’t talked in person, but his phone would not shut up.  He wondered what Harry’s clients thought of all the texting. Once again, Harry had texted on how Louis was feeling.  He stared at his phone for a moment. He had gotten ready for work an hour ago, but Niall stopped him before he left his apartment, claiming that even he, as a beta, could smell him pre-heat and had forced Louis to call out.  He had a feeling Harry would be buying Niall’s pints for quite awhile as a thank you. Louis smiled. He loved his friends.

His phone pinged again.  Louis kept staring and startled when Niall popped his head into his open bedroom door.

“Tommo, I’ve gotta head out mate.  Are you going to be ok?”

Louis sighed, “Why does everyone keep asking me that?”

Niall glared at him, “Well, me personally?  Because I don’t know of an omega that’s gone in to heat before.  They’re on suppressants. Kind of like I thought you were.” He paused, “Harry isn’t going to stop though Lou, I don’t know what his clients are like but I would have fired him at this point, with all the texting he’s doing.”

Louis laughed and said, “I thought the exact same thing.”

Niall smiled but continued, “You need to tell him you called out of work, I would imagine he would stop in to check on you in person today.  He’s actually become an alpha this week. Like, his inner alpha has emerged. It’s been interesting to watch.” He rushed on waving his hands around in a nonsensical fashion, “not that I was watching or anything!  Although, you do look cute snuggling with his jumpers.”

Louis sat up and threw a pillow at him.  Hard. Luckily, Niall missed catching it so Louis caught his mark and hit him square in the nose.  Success!

“I am not CUTE Niall!”

Louis phone pinged.

“Text him Lou.  Like I said, he’s not going to stop.  He’s worked really long hours this week and I have a feeling he’s trying to fit five days of work into three so he can be with you.”

Louis sighed, “Yeah, I also had that thought.  Are you leaving?”

Niall gave a timid smile, “Yeah, I’m packed up to go to Liam’s place for the weekend.  I was just going to take everything along with me for the day, so I don’t need to come back to pick anything up tonight.  I love you and all but I don’t want to hear you moaning, or coming, or any other noises that I should not need to subject my ears to.”

Louis gave a loving, “I hate you.”

“Love you too, Lou,” Niall turned to go, “be safe okay?  Call me if you need anything. But for the moment please text Harry.  Or call him even. You know he’ll pick up.”

“Later Ni, have fun.”

“You too!” was the last thing Louis heard before the apartment door closed.

Louis flopped back on his bed, “Yeah, right.  Fun.  Wheeeee.”

He didn’t even bother reading Harry’s text messages.  They were all the same question, just phrased differently.  It was pretty impressive actually.

Louis sent off a reply stating that he called off work, citing Niall had said that he smelled bad.

His phone rang immediately.

“Louis Tomlinson speaking, how may I direct your call?”

“That’s not funny Lou.  You called off of work?”

“It wasn’t even a little funny?  You didn’t even smile a teeny tiny bit?”

“No.” Harry sighed.  “Not today.”

“Ok, I’ll try another day.” Louis smiled into the phone.  “What’s up Harry? Don’t you need to be working? Seriously, don’t you think your clients would be a little upset knowing the amount of time you’re on your phone?”

Louis was deflecting.  Or stalling.  Or deflecting in order to stall.  His head may or may not be getting a bit fuzzy.

“My clients are in order, everything needed has already been completed.”

“Oh.  Okay.” Louis said quietly.  He could feel himself getting warmer as the minutes past.  It was a weird sensation. Harry was silent on the other end, presumably, waiting for Louis to continue.

“Harry, I don’t feel so good.” Louis nearly whispered.  What was going on?

“What can I do for you?  How can I help you?” He sounded a bit desperate.

“Haz?”

“Yes, baby?”  He quietly asked.

Louis paused, a new pet name.  

“Louis, are you still there?”

“Hazza, please come over.  Please help me?”

“I’ll be there in twenty, don’t unlock the door until I get there okay Lou?  Promise you’ll keep the door locked.”

Louis could hear papers shuffling, drawers opening and closing.

“Okay, I promise”.

He wasn’t sure who ended the call first, it didn’t matter.  

----

True to his word, about twenty minutes later he heard a knock at his door.  Louis had since swapped his work clothes back into sleeping shorts and t-shirt.  He may, or may not, have been carrying around one of Harry’s jumpers like it was a baby’s security blanket.  No one had to know.

Until, of course, Louis didn’t realize he was still hugging it when he unlocked and opened the door for Harry to come in.  Harry looked down and saw it, his smile had never been more radiant. Louis stepped back to let Harry through, locking the door behind him.  

“Niall’s gone.  It’s just me.  Well, and you now.”

Harry pulled him into a tight hug and scented him.  

“You smell so wonderful, Lou.”

Louis turned his head into Harry’s hair and mumbled into it, “Um, thank you?”

They both laughed, Harry letting go to move to the couch.  Louis was quick to cuddle into Harry’s side, Harry’s arm securing him there.

“So,” Louis started, “I almost suffocated myself last night”.

Harry looked over at him with a look of horror, but also seemed to not be able to stop himself from laughing.

“What?” Harry giggled.  

“Yeah, well, I couldn’t really sleep.  But you were lovely and gave me your…”

Harry interrupted, “borrow”, Harry looked down to see Louis still holding his jumper and ripped it out of Louis’ arms.

“Oi!” Louis smacked him, “You’re letting me borrow that!  For a really long time.”

Louis snatched the jumper back from Harry, who easily let it go.

“As I was saying, you are lovely and you let me borrow your jumper, for a really, really forever long time, so I kind of just wrapped it around my face.”

Louis laughed at the ridiculousness of it, he had literally wrapped the jumper around his entire head.

“I mean, it ended up working, I was able to fall asleep.  And then woke up, finding I couldn’t actually get any additional air, and started freaking out.  So yeah, no more sleep for me.”

Harry laughed at that, but also managed to keep a serious expression on his face.  Louis wondered what he was thinking, wondered if he knew Louis was wanting him for his heat.  He had to right?  Damn friend zone.

“Do you want to take a nap?” Harry asked, “I know it’s early, but there’s never a bad time for a nap.”

“A nap would be nice.”

“Here or in your bedroom?”

“Hazza, you have to be wide awake right now.” Harry gave him an unimpressed look but Louis continued, “How about you watch TV and I can nap here.  You can watch that episode for the third time and then tell me about it afterwards, yeah?”

“Sounds good.”

Louis looked over to Harry with a look of concern, “Is it ok that you’re here?  As in, is it ok that you’re not at work?”

“I’ve already put in a lot of hours in this week, it’s perfectly fine that I’m here.”

Louis let a sigh of relief escape that he hadn’t known was there. He gave Harry a timid smile and sat up to grab the remote from the table, while Harry quickly kicked off his shoes and arranged himself on the couch, arms open for Louis to snuggle in.

Not that Louis was counting, because he wasn’t, but for the fourth time that week Harry took hold of his wrist and squeezed, releasing Louis’ anxiety of his quickly approaching heat.  Louis practically deflated and went slack in his arms.

Harry started to nose his way along the back of Louis ear, jaw, neck, scenting him as he went along.  He felt slick trickle out of his ass and Harry breathed in deeper.

“Alpha.” Louis whispered to himself.

Harry froze.  So Louis whispered that out loud?  Alrighty then.

“Louis?”

“Hazza.” Louis lazily said, closed his eyes and pulled in Harry’s calming pheromones.  Well, mostly calm. With a hint of what was probably “did Louis just call me alpha?” mixed in.  For a moment Louis expected Harry to say something more, to ask something else. Instead, he squeezed his wrist and Louis fell into a much needed sleep.  

Louis awoke to the feeling of Harry stroking his fringe, brushing his fingertips gently across his forehead, with the occasional reroute to trail down his jawline.  He didn’t know if Harry knew that he was awake when he heard Harry whispering,

“You are such a beautiful, beautiful omega.  My beautiful boy. Mine. Always mine.”

Louis suppressed a shudder but couldn’t suppress the whimper that escaped. It was intentional to be heard when Louis whispered, “Alpha.”

Harry didn’t freeze this time, adequately more prepared, he supposed.

“Yes, baby, your alpha is here.”

Louis moved to turn over, Harry arranging the movements for him so as not to fall off the couch.

They looked into each other eyes, shared brightness and love shining through.  

Louis asked, “How long have you known?”

Harry looked as if he was looking for the right words.

“I think deep down I’ve always known.  But I was never sure until you made that ridiculous scene on our Serendipity Saturday.  When I caught your wrist, I knew for sure.”

Louis smiled and reached up to run his index finger along Harry’s impeccable jawline. He was slightly dazed, whether it be from his upcoming heat or his love for Harry, he wasn’t sure.

“I love you Hazza.”

“I love you too, Louis.  Can I kiss you now?”

“I thought you’d never ask.”

After two years, one month, and three days Louis finally got to kiss his mate.

Not that he was counting!  He just knew the date he opened his bank account.