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^EUROPEAN TOUR^

 

/// Dublin, Ireland ///

 

“Hey, Harry, come look at these sick tattoo designs!”

Harry’s hand halts on the doorknob to his dressing room backstage at Croke Park, and he turns to follow the sound of his bandmates’ voice down the corridor and into Niall’s dressing room. Liam has Caroline’s phone in his hand and is flipping through a group of photos, presumably of tattoo designs.

“Honey, I said I’ll just send the photos to you,” Caroline says as she holds up two different t shirts for Niall to decide between. “Blue or black, Niall. They’re the same shirt in different colours. You’re driving me mad. Just choose one.”

Niall chews on his thumb nail. “What are you lads wearing?”

“Niall, you don’t have to match them!” Caroline says, a bit exasperated.

“I know! I’m trying not to match, dontcha see?” Niall explains, wide eyed. “I can’t go on stage with the same shirt as either of them. It’s my hometown show!”

Caroline’s lips press into a firm line, and she thrusts the black t shirt at Niall. “Here. You know bloody well that Harry’ll wear something sheer, and Liam will wear something with a logo splashed across it.”

Harry smiles. Their stylist is used to them by now, but they like to keep her on her toes. Harry finally leans over Liam’s shoulder to catch a glimpse of the photos he seems so engrossed by.

“Wow, those are really impressive, Li.”

“Aren’t they? Caroline’s friend drew these up for me. I told her something I’d been thinking about, so she told him and this is what he drew,” Liam explains. “I have to say, it’s even better than I had imagined it myself.”

Harry looks closely at the photo on the phone’s screen. It’s quite a large tattoo, clearly designed to wrap around the arm as evidenced by the sketches next to the design. A stopwatch stopped at a particular moment in time surrounded by a number of small and large gears that fit together perfectly. The shading and shadows drawn into the piece make it really stand out from the image.

“This looks like it’ll take some time to do,” Harry muses as he hands the phone back to Liam.

“Yeah, I know. It looks like he’ll be able to meet us up in Sunderland and get started with it. And then hopefully he can meet us in Manchester after that. We’ll be there--what like at least two days.”

“We have three shows in Manchester, Li.”

“Ah, even better.” Liam claps his hands together, pleased.

“Why even better?” Harry asks.

“Caroline says he’s from Bradford originally. He said he and his partner could just stay with his parents whilst he worked on the tattoos.”

“Nice,” Harry nods. “So where’s he at now? Does he have a shop somewhere?”

“In London,” Caroline answers. “Crown Tattoos.”

“I think I’ve heard of them,” Harry says. “Been meaning to check the place out actually.”

“Well, if you like mine, maybe he’ll do something for you as well!”

“You must be paying him a lot to close up shop to come cater to your whims.”

“He said it was fine and that he’s got plenty of people there to cover for him.” Liam shrugs. “And also I’m paying him a lot of money.”

Harry claps Liam on the shoulder. “That’s what I thought.”

Harry turns to go, but Caroline blocks his way, one eyebrow raised ominously. “Harry--”

“Yes?”

“Please put some clothes on.”

Harry looks down, only a little surprised that he’s been wandering around in just some fairly brief black boxers. “Sure, anything for you, Caroline.”

“Harry--”

“Yes?”

“Please brush your teeth before you put your clothes on.”

Harry shakes his head with mock sadness as he walks through the door and out into the corridor. “I’m sorry. Can’t. I have a routine.”

“Harry! I’ll murder you if you get anything on that Saint Laurent shirt!”

“Can’t hear you!” He calls back.

“Harry!” She shouts after him as he chuckles to himself and opens the door to his dressing room.

He walks in and finds the black and white graphic print shirt that Caroline has hanging up for him. He shrugs it on, only doing up a few of the buttons before tugging on his black jeans and slipping into black boots. He stands in front of the mirror to check his reflection. His hair and makeup is done, he just needs to do one more thing.

He grins at himself in the mirror as he puts the toothbrush in his mouth.

 

/// Sunderland, UK ///

 

A week later Harry’s hand hovers over the door to his dressing room, this time in Sunderland, when he hears Liam’s voice calling out to him. He follows the shouting back into Liam’s dressing room.

Liam looks him up and down critically. “Mate, I’m gonna have to ask you to put your clothes on.”

“But it’s early yet!”

“I’ve got Zayn and Louis coming soon, and i don’t want you scaring them off.”

“Who the fuck are Zayn and Louis?”

“That would be us,” says a voice, a bit of rasp to the lovely high register of it.

Harry turns around to see two men standing in the doorway, both of whom are carrying large, black cases on one shoulder, and it suddenly clicks in Harry’s brain that this must be the tattoo artist and his partner.

One of the men raises one hand in the paltriest excuse for a greeting that Harry can remember seeing and says, “Zayn.”

Harry stares at him for a second as he’d thought at first the man was just grunting out a random word before he realised it was the man’s name. Zayn is strikingly handsome, black hair dyed with streaks of green and tattoos inked on every visible inch of skin, but it’s his partner who draws Harry’s eye almost immediately.

“Hi, I’m Louis.”

Ah, so this man is the one with the voice. It’s quite spellbinding, and he’d like to hear this man say quite a bit more from his pretty pink lips, but before he can say a word, Liam is pushing him past his guests and telling him to put some bloody clothes on. Harry huffs his indignation, but there’s no one to see it. Liam has already closed the door behind him. He stands for a moment staring at the closed door and then looks down at the the brief boxers, the only garment on his body at the moment, and sighs.

He turns and scurries down the corridor and throws on the clothes Caroline has waiting for him and then, scoots back down to Liam’s dressing room as quickly as possible. He needs to find out more about this Louis person immediately because he’s just Harry’s type--fit. Harry has never thought he had a type before five minutes ago, but now he’s fairly certain he does and his type is called Louis. From now on, should anyone ask, he will simply say his type has artfully mussed brown hair, a slight tan, a precious squidgy nose, and from the glimpse as he was herded out of the room--an incredible arse.

He needs to know what kind of partner Louis is to this Zayn person. He hadn’t paid much attention before as he quite frankly hadn’t cared, not knowing that the person in question looked quite this delicious.

He bursts back into the room, which is apparently the wrong thing to do when someone’s about to get a tattoo. Liam jumps in his seat.

“Christ, mate! What if I’d been getting inked at that moment? I’d have a huge line down my arm.”

“Not my fault you’re so skittish, Li. Zayn here didn’t seem bothered.” Zayn shrugs at this as he sets out items from his bag and a separate case on the large table that’s taking up a big part of Liam’s dressing room. He’s a little surprised he hadn’t noticed it before.

Harry sits on the opposite end of the sofa Louis is sitting on as Louis stares at his phone and taps away at the screen. “So are you Zayn’s assistant or--”

Harry lets his voice trail off and plasters a sideways smile on his face, hoping Louis will look up at the question.

He doesn’t.

Louis snorts and keeps tapping away. “He wouldn’t let me touch his instruments in a million years.”

“You’d be the absolute worst assistant of all time, Lou,” Zayn calls out as he sets out some small bottles of ink on the table.

At this Louis finally looks up, although unfortunately not at Harry, and says, “Maybe you’re just too particular, you ever think about that?”

Zayn just shakes his head as Harry and Liam watch the back and forth of their banter.

“I’m well glad you’re particular, seeing as how you’re about to permanently alter my arm,” Liam says.

Harry tries to draw Louis’ attention now that he’s at least not looking at his phone screen. “Liam tells me you’re Zayn’s partner.”

Louis finally turns his gaze upon him, and Harry drinks up the sight of those clear blue eyes and mentally adds wide blue eyes to his ‘type.’

“That’s me,” Louis answers and turns his attention back to his phone.

Harry frowns, but decides to persist. “Ehm--so like--business partner or--”

“Harry, stop trying to chat up my guest,” Liam calls out.

Harry shoots Liam a dark look before turning back and realising Louis has looked up again. His eyes have widened, letting more of that glorious blue capture Harry in their gaze, and his cheeks have flushed a lovely pink colour that Harry would like to keep there permanently. Before Harry can have more than a moment of delight over it, Louis’s head bends back down over his phone. Harry notices that he isn’t tapping anything though.

“Yeah, I’m his silent business partner,” Louis says quietly, but not quiet enough for Zayn not to have heard apparently.

“Like you’re ever silent,” Zayn snorts.

Harry frowns a bit. He’d like to have more than a few seconds of Louis’ attention. He’s used to commanding attention wherever he goes, and this is a little disconcerting. Maybe Louis is straight. This only makes him feel marginally better because even straight men tend to give him some attention.

“So are you both staying for the show?” Harry asks. Maybe this bloke just hasn’t seen him in action yet. Yes, this makes sense. He’s probably not really paid a lot of attention to One Direction.

Louis darts a glance at Zayn who purses his lips together and pointedly ignores both the question and them. He continues to fill the table with more items and puts the small tray in his hand down a little more loudly. Harry marvels a bit at how much stuff he’s managed to fit in that bag and case. It’s like a clown car and more and more shit just keeps appearing out of the bag.

Louis laughs a lovely, loud laugh that catches Harry off guard. His eyes narrow into the smallest slits and the corners crinkle into something so adorable it tugs at Harry’s heart in the oddest way as though he’s looking at kittens playing instead of a fit bloke.

“Clown car,” Louis repeats. Oh. Harry must have said that bit out loud. He hasn’t got the greatest filter on his mouth. That’s what he’s got Liam for, really.

“Don’t encourage his jokes, Louis,” Liam calls out. “It’ll only encourage him to tell more. Don’t want to get him going on knock knock jokes or anything.”

“Really?” Louis looks right at him, and Harry perks up.

“Yeah, yeah, I’ve got a joke for you!”

Liam groans.

“Oh, shut up, Liam.”

“Okay, so why was the snowman smiling?”

Louis shakes his head, a small grin on his face. “I dunno.”

“He heard the snowblower was coming.”

“Jesus, Harry,” Liam scolds. “Did it have to be a dirty one?”

“Yeah, well, my shit might look like it’s coming out of a clown car, but I like to be prepared,” Zayn finally mumbles. “You need a lot of high quality tools and supplies to create a tattoo properly when you’re not in the shop.”

Liam nods along with Zayn’s comment as Zayn pulls out antiseptic products and a razor and places them on the table, which is when Harry realises he never got an answer to his question.

“So did Liam offer you tickets yet? Because if not, I’m sure I can get you some,” Harry says. “If you’d like to watch.”

Zayn’s hands are in black gloves, hovering in mid-air about to wipe down Liam’s arm, but he seems to have stopped to have a silent argument with Louis across the room. Harry looks from one to the other. It’s quite remarkable to have an entire conversation using just your eyes. Then, they both speak at once.

“We should get back--”

“We’d love to--”

Zayn regains his ability to move and begins wiping Liam’s arm down. “Fine.”

Louis smiles briefly before quickly shuttering the look on his face. “Guess we’re staying for the show.”

“Great,” Harry says, smiling enough so that his dimples will show, which in the end is a waste because Louis looks back at his phone instead of at his dimples.

“Did you know that it’s called the Stadium of Light because of the miners?” Louis asks suddenly.

“What?” Harry asks, caught off guard by the sudden change in topic.

“It’s supposed to be a symbolic nod to the miners who would come up every day from the mine and go from darkness to light.”

“Oh,” Harry replies trying to keep Louis’ eyes on him. “I didn’t know that. Pretty cool, that.”

He fails, and Louis looks away. “I thought so.”

“Harry? Harry!” He can hear Caroline’s voice out in the hall. “Darling, you need to go to hair and makeup.”

With a sigh, Harry stands up. “I guess I’ve got to go get ready now. See you both out there tonight!”


Harry can’t quite make out where Louis is in the audience tonight, but he does his best to put on a show. He struts across the stage and straddles his mic and does some of his signature moves. To be honest, it’s turning him on just thinking of Louis watching him.


The next day Niall shows him the article from the local newspaper. It possibly highlights Harry’s slightly filthy stage antics. He just shrugs and hopes Louis got an eyeful.



/// Manchester, UK (Night 1) ///

 

“Why are you dressed so early?” Niall asks, popping his head into Liam’s dressing room.

“Don’t know what you mean,” Harry replies. He’s sitting on Liam’s sofa, drumming his fingers against the arm rest.

“You’re usually in just pants until we’re practically ready to go onstage, mate. When’s the show start? Am I late or something?”

“You’re not late, Niall,” Liam says as he scrolls through Instagram. “Harry’s just hovering around waiting for my tattoo artist to show up.”

Harry makes a rude noise. “Am not.”

“He is.” Liam doesn’t even bother to look up from his phone. “He wants to get in Louis’ pants.”

“I thought your tattoo artist was that friend of Caroline’s. Zayn or something?” Niall asks. “Who’s Louis?”

“Ehm--hi?”

Harry’s neck snaps towards the soft rasp of a voice he has fantasised about on a few occasions now. He likes to think about that voice calling out his name when he comes. Fuck, he really wants to hear Louis say his name. Maybe whilst on his knees about to--probably not the time to think about this though.

Zayn and Louis come through the open door. Zayn says nothing. He nods at Liam and Niall, but he gives Harry a hard stare. Harry tries out his best, dimpled smile, but Zayn appears to be immune.

It’s not Zayn he’s trying to impress anyway, he figures. He scoots forward, propping his boot clad feet on a small table, letting his legs stretch out before him. He leans back, crossing his hands behind his head. He knows what he looks like spread out like this. Just showcasing his best assets really.

Liam clears his throat. “Nialler, this is Zayn, Caroline’s friend.”

“Nice to meet you,” Niall says with a smile. Zayn’s not immune to Niall’s smile and gives him a small one in return. Whatever.

“And this is Zayn’s partner, Louis.”

Niall grins. “Ah, just talking about you.”

Louis shakes Niall’s hand, a confused look on his pretty face. “Ehm, okay.”

“Apparently, you’re the reason Harry’s actually wearing trousers right now. So thanks, mate.”

Harry scowls at him. Fucking traitor.

Louis glances over at him, his cheeks a bit more pink than a moment ago. He doesn’t say anything though, just carefully sets down one of Zayn’s bags onto the table. He looks around the room hesitantly. There really isn’t anywhere for him to sit besides on the sofa with Harry.

Harry stares at him for a long moment, and Louis seems a bit mesmerised by it. Harry knows he’s got an intense stare, so it’s not like he wants to scare the lad. But Louis’ hesitation to sit next to him has him a bit perplexed. He never has to work this hard for--well, anyone really.

He sighs. He guesses Louis isn’t ready to sit on his lap anytime soon, so he sits up properly. “I can go grab you a chair if you’d like.”

Louis’ face turns a darker shade of pink. “No, no. That’s fine. The sofa is fine.”

Zayn snorts, which catches Harry’s attention. He’s not sure what Zayn’s reaction is for, but Louis sinks down onto the sofa about as far from Harry as he can get and pulls out his phone.

Niall’s chatting with Zayn and Liam about the next part of Liam’s tattoo, but Harry can’t be bothered to pay attention to that when the most perplexing man is sitting next to him, ignoring him. Him! Harry Styles! He’s wearing the tightest black jeans he owns and he only buttoned one button on his shirt.

He’s got to be straight. This is the only explanation. The straightest man alive. Harry must have been mistaken about the vibe he thought he got from him.

“So do you like blokes, Louis? Or is Harry wasting his time?”

Louis’ blue eyes widen, and his mouth drops open comically, apparently speechless at Niall’s question.

“You don’t have to answer that,” Liam calls out. “Don’t be rude, Niall.”

“It’s not rude,” Niall insists. “I don’t care if he likes blokes. Perfectly fine to be into blokes. Sorry though, Louis. Didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable. You can like whoever you like though as far as I’m concerned.”

Louis actually smiles. “Thanks, Niall.”

Harry waits for him to answer the question. He doesn’t. He just looks down at his phone again. Well, he didn’t say he was straight though, so Harry’s not giving up just yet.

“So what did you think of the show the other night, Louis?”

Louis’ eyes meet his, and Harry can feel his heart pound a little harder in his chest. Jesus Christ, this boy is beautiful.

“It was really something. You were--I mean, all of you were really amazing. Great vocals and so much--energy.”

Niall coughs. “Energy. Yeah, Harry was showing some kind of energy out there on stage all right.”

Harry ignores him. He’s not going to bicker with Niall when he could be talking to Louis. “Glad you got to see us in action. Not sure if you knew much about us before, but I like to think we can change people’s minds if they give us a chance.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. My sisters are really into you guys. Posters and shirts and all that stuff. Think I’ve seen one too many photos of you without your shirt on actually.”

Harry likes where this conversation is going. He lets his tongue hang out of his mouth a bit cheekily. “Surely, there’s no such thing as too many photos of me without my shirt on.”

“Please keep your shirt on, H,” Liam calls out. “Don’t give him excuses to undress, Louis.”

Harry glares at Liam, not that it matters when Liam’s back is facing him. “Maybe he’s looking for excuses, Liam.

He turns back to Louis just in time to see him roll his eyes and resume looking at his phone. He sighs and tries to think of something else to say to engage Louis in more conversation.

“Huh,” Louis mutters.

Is this an opening? He thinks it might be. “Mmhmm?”

Louis looks up. “Oh, ehm--just was looking stuff up on my phone and found out that this stadium was originally built because Manchester was hoping to host the Olympics. Weird, innit? The thought of a Manchester Olympics.”

“Really? That is weird,” Harry replies. “You know, when I was young, my dad actually took me to this stadium to watch a rugby match for the Commonwealth Games. This was before they turned it into a football stadium. So I guess I can see how it could have been an Olympic stadium.”

“You came to something here when you were young? Are you from Manchester then?”

“Nah, Cheshire. But this is my hometown gig though. As close as we ever get to Cheshire.”

“I used to get up here once in a while myself. From Doncaster, me. So if we were going to the big city, it was Manchester we were heading.”

“Maybe I saw you at a football game here, never knowing that one day our paths would cross.”

“Don’t let Harry convince you fate is real,” Liam interrupts from across the room.

Louis laughs. “Nah, mate. Would never have been caught here for a football match. Would have been at Old Trafford, myself.”

“Well, I know this is no Old Trafford, but you should both stay for the show again tonight.”

Louis’ eyes shoot to Zayn’s, who shakes his head almost imperceptibly. Louis already has an apologetic look on his face by the time he turns back to look at Harry. “Uh, thanks for the invite, but Zayn and I need to head back to his parents’ house.”

“Okay, well, you should both come to tomorrow’s show then. I won’t take no for an answer. I’ll get you some tickets right now, and I’ll put your names on the list and--”

“Mate, they’ll be back to work on my tattoo tomorrow, won’t you?” Liam asks. “No need to harass them now about it.”

Easy for Liam to say. He probably doesn’t even care what Louis’ last name is, but he still only has a first name to attach to that handsome face. The tattoo shop’s website had provided no information on him either. He really is a silent partner.

Maybe he can get more out of him tomorrow.


/// Manchester, UK (Night 2) ///

 

To say he’s disappointed when Zayn walks into Liam’s dressing room alone would be greatly understating the situation. In fact, it’s making Harry a little uncomfortable with how crestfallen he is not to see him before the show. He hadn’t fully realised just how badly he wants to see Louis again. Liam hadn’t even said much about him showing up again fully dressed and already through makeup hours earlier than usual, which in and of itself was probably a huge red flag that others have noticed his obsession.

“Sorry, mate,” Liam says quietly, letting his hand pat Harry’s shoulder just before he helps Zayn heft his bags onto the table.

Harry’s not even going to pretend that he doesn’t know why Liam said that and lets his head fall back against the sofa with a sigh.

Zayn ignores his presence in the room for a bit, unpacking items from his bag and setting them out precisely. Harry just watches him until Zayn finally looks up at him. There’s an obvious, unspoken question hanging in the air, but Zayn remains quiet. Fine, Harry’s not too proud to ask.

“So where’s your friend?”

“Leeds.”

“Oh, so he’s--” Harry trails off, hoping for more information.

“Working.”

“He works in Leeds?” For some reason, he’d thought Louis lived in London.

“Occasionally.”

Harry rolls his eyes. Zayn is really a fountain of information here.

“So he won’t be in the audience tonight then?”

Zayn huffs out a sigh. “He’ll be here.”

Harry sits up. “He will?”

“Yeah, he will. Probably just miss the opening act is all.”

“Ah, okay. Well, maybe you two would like to meet up with us after the concert. Have a bit of an after party.” There isn’t actually an after party, but Harry will make one if need be.

“There’s no after party,” Liam says, confusion in his voice. “Is there? Doesn’t make a lot of sense when we have another show tomorrow night.”

Zayn’s eyes snap to his. He’s so damn suspicious, Jesus.

“Don’t know how you forgot, Li, but yes there’s an after party.” Harry says all this as he frantically texts his assistant to find a spot for an after party. “I’m hosting it, so everything’s on me.”

He plasters a smile on his face for Zayn, so wide he knows his dimples are showing. Zayn’s face remains as impassive as ever. Honestly, how are Zayn and Louis so fucking immune to him?

“I’ll tell Louis.”

Great. Hopefully, Harry isn’t setting up an after party for no reason.


It’s basically impossible to see anyone in the crowd, the stage lights only allowing sight of the first few rows, but Harry gives it his all, hoping there’s someone specific watching and listening.


Harry stands behind the bar of the crowded pub, pouring pints for crew members and the guitarist from their opening act. Their own backing band is here and doing shots of Scotch that will probably cost Harry a fortune. He’s mostly here just as a look out though. He hasn’t had a drink all night besides water. He’s got to be on top of his game.

He finally sees Louis pushing his way through to the bar, Zayn straggling behind after him. God, he looks pretty. His hair sweeps over his eyes just before he pushes it back into place, and Harry’s heart melts a little. He’s honestly not sure how this boy has got under his skin so quick.

Louis makes it to the bar and looks up at him with a smirk to rival anyone’s. “Give me your finest, mate.”

He pours Zayn a pint and slides it over to him. He pours another and walks back around the bar with it to hand it to Louis, abandoning his post.

“Special treatment?” Louis asks.

“Of course,” Harry says, as he places his hand at Louis’ back and guides him towards a booth currently occupied by Liam and Niall and Caroline.

He lets Louis slide in next to Caroline and then sandwiches him into the booth. Liam jumps up and grabs a chair for Zayn to sit in on the end. He’s aware at first of Zayn burning holes into him with his eyes, but he stops noticing fairly quickly as Louis sips his drink and begins talking to him.

Louis glances up at him from beneath his eyelashes. Harry’s trying not to stare, but it’s difficult. “The show was really great tonight.”

“Thanks, I’m glad you could end up coming. Zayn said you had work?” He’s glad he’s able to keep his mind on speaking to Louis when he can feel him pressed against his side. Talking will maybe keep him from trying to pull Louis into his lap.

“Yeah, was in Leeds today. Not too far though that I couldn’t make it back in time. We’ve been driving here from Bradford anyway.”

“Right, that’s where Zayn’s family’s from, yes?”

“Yeah, surprised you remember that.”

“I’ve got a great memory.” He’s fairly certain he remembers every word Louis’ ever spoken to him. “How did you and Zayn become friends? I mean, I know you’re his silent partner, but I assume that came from being friends first.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Met Zayn at uni in London. We bonded over uni being decidedly not for both of us actually,” Louis says with a laugh.

“Zayn got on at a tattoo shop and apprenticed for them and all that, and I worked at a shitty Costa whilst we tried to make rent every month.” Louis smiles as he thinks about the memory. “They hired Zayn on pretty quick. He’s quite good as I’m sure you’ve noticed.”

They both glance at Liam’s arm, currently wrapped up, but they both know the intricate tattoo that lies beneath the wrap.

“So he was making quite a bit of money, had a lot of clients, and all that. Worked a lot. And he talked me into quitting Costa to work on my writing. So he basically supported us both for a while there.”

“Wow. Good friend.”

“He really is. The best.” Louis looks over at Zayn who seems to have noticed he’s the topic of conversation.

He raises an eyebrow at them and says, “What?”

A shit-eating grin crosses Louis’ face. “Just telling Harry how much you loved the show tonight.”

“Really?” Harry asks, skeptical at this. He turns his body towards Zayn and raises an eyebrow.

Zayn’s face contorts itself from a glare to a half-hearted smile. “Of course.”

“Well, if you loved it so much , Zayn, perhaps you’d like to come tomorrow night as well.”

The look on Zayn’s face appears frozen in place.

“Of course, he does!” Louis announces cheerfully. “He’ll be in Manchester to work on Liam’s tattoo anyway.”

“Oh, won’t you be with him?” Harry asks. He’s past trying to be casual at this point.

“I have work stuff in Leeds again tomorrow, but I suppose I could come for the concert, if you’re offering a ticket that is.”

“I most definitely am.”

“We’ll be there then.”

“Great,” Harry says with a toothy grin as he claps Zayn on the shoulder. The look on Zayn’s face says that Zayn’s thinking murderous things about him, so he removes his hand quickly.


/// Manchester, UK (Night 3) ///

 

Harry doesn’t bother dressing early or lurking in Liam’s dressing room; Louis isn’t here before the show anyway. He lounges in his own dressing room, nicely scented with expensive candles, reading a great fantasy YA novel that Caroline loaned him. He’s not sure what made Caroline buy this book, but he’s damn glad she did. It keeps his mind occupied, so he’s not constantly thinking of Louis.

He realises he needs to chill a bit with the whole Louis situation. Liam’s advice last night after he failed yet again to find a way to ask for Louis’ phone number was, “Stop looking at him like you’re a serial killer.” Harry claps the book shut.

He’s just thought of something. He has no way of talking to Louis tonight. There’s no after party. Frankly, he could get another one organised, but no one would want to come what with most people being hung over today. Fuck.

He grabs his phone and taps on his calendar. Scotland. Their next date is two days from now in Edinburgh, for fuck’s sake. And then it’s another three days until their London shows. Five more days of no Louis, unless--

He jumps up and trots down the corridor until he gets to Liam’s dressing room. He taps politely at the door. “Leeeeyummmmm, are you in there? Can I come in?”

“I don’t know.” He hears Liam call out. “Are you wearing clothes?”

Harry looks down at his body. He’s not. “I’m wearing an article of clothing, yes!”

“Is the article just pants?”

Harry sighs and scurries back down the corridor and into his own dressing room. He grabs the jeans he wore in today and tugs them up his legs and then hurries off back down the corridor.

He taps again. “Okay, I have another article of clothing on!”

“Is it socks?”

“Nope!” Harry proclaims proudly. “I’ve put on jeans!”

“Okay, come in.”

He flings open the door. Zayn doesn’t look up as he’s in the middle of shading one of Liam’s tattoos, but Liam gives him a nod.

“So uh--how’s the tattoo coming along?”

“Come have a look, mate!” Liam says, so excited his cheeks puff up delightfully. “It’s sick, right?”

Harry wanders in more closely and watches as Zayn shades an intricate gear design. It’s truly impressive. “That’s amazing, mate. Very cool.”

“Zayn here says just one more session to finish up all the shading.”

“Really? One more is all?” Harry does his best to sound nonchalant. “So uh--you coming to Scotland then, or--”

“Nah, figured I’d have him finish up in London,” Liam interrupts. “I can wait a bit.”

“Mmm. Yeah. Smart. Right.”

He can see the hint of a smile on Zayn’s stupidly handsome face. It’s annoying. He knows why Harry is asking Liam about his tattoos.

Harry’s fairly sure the last time he actually had to ask for a phone number was long before he was famous. People generally threw their contact info at him every chance they got. Not only will he need to ask to get Louis’ information, he has to get it out of his friend.

He sighs loudly. “Fine. Zayn, would you by any chance be willing to give me Louis’ phone number? Or email address? Or his bloody last name? Anything really?”

Liam starts cackling, very unhelpfully.

Zayn’s smile grows a tiny bit more. “I dunno. I’ll have to ask him first.”

Liam laughs even harder when he gets a look at Harry’s face. He knows he probably looks a bit stunned.

“Great. Fine. Lovely,” he manages to say as he turns on his heel and walks back out the door of Liam’s dressing room before he can say anything rude.

He curses under his breath every step of the way. He strips his jeans back off the throws himself back on the sofa to finish reading his book.


At least from the stage tonight, he can see Louis and Zayn whenever he makes his way down the catwalk part of the stage. He’s given them friends and family passes instead of actual seats. He maybe did it on purpose.

Louis looks beautiful even from here, glowing under the lights. Towards the end of the concert as they sing a ballad from the end of the catwalk, Harry can see Zayn slumped in a folding chair, fast asleep.

Just as Harry’s head hits the pillow that night, he hears his phone vibrate with a text. He grabs it off the bedside table and sees the text is from Caroline.

He’s got Louis’ phone number at last.


/// Edinburgh, Scotland ///

 

“Caroline, I am in love with these books!” He’s finished the first book Caroline had lent him, and he’s downloaded the second and third books from the series. “I’m halfway through the second book, and I never want it to end.”

“I know, darling, I know. He’s an amazing author.” She gives him a patronising look and pats his head, which is a bit odd, but he doesn’t care enough to delve into that when he’s got to find out what will happen in the book now that Archer has told everyone that Fire is responsible for her evil father’s death. He curls back up on his sofa with his phone to read what happens next to Fire.

His phone vibrates in his hand, and it’s the only person he actually wants to interrupt him when he’s reading a book at work.

 

Tbh the stadium you’re in is quite boring

Why? Because it has no relation to football?

Yes

Why do I feel like you’re about to tell me information on something?

Because I am! Just that Edinburgh is sometimes called the Athens of the north

Can you tell how hard Im laughing through my phone right now?

Very rude. Don’t let the Scottish fans know how you really feel about their town

I’ve been to Athens and Edinburgh is not Athens.

Interesting observation, very precise

Oh shut up


Harry has a few days off before the London shows, so he spends the next few days back in Cheshire visiting his mum and his old school friends. He finishes book two in the series he’s reading and eats way too much bread from the local bakery and steals time away to text Louis about whatever comes to mind.  

Louis via text seems a lot more relaxed than Louis in person, and he quite likes that this way at least he can capture more of his attention. Louis even teases him a bit about how obsessed he is with a young adult fantasy novel.

They speak on the phone a few times, long conversations that stretch into the night. He’s surprised by how much he genuinely likes Louis.

Whilst he doesn’t love that he doesn’t actually get to see Louis, he’s relieved to have communication of some sort. It would have been torture to have no contact with him until their London shows. He tries not to think about what happens after those shows, which is that they’ll be leaving for the rest of the European leg of their tour.

That’s a problem for future Harry, so he tries not to pay it any mind. No, the problem for current Harry is that he swears he’s not wanked this much since he hit puberty, but he just can’t stop picturing what he’d like to do with Louis’ smart mouth in private.


/// London (Night 1) ///

 

Wembley Stadium is a massive deal no matter what, but tonight, Harry feels even more on edge. He finds himself pacing the corridors and generally annoying everyone he comes into contact with.

Since they’re in London now, Liam doesn’t need Zayn to come to him to complete the tattoo. It’s a bit unfortunate. Well, for Harry it is anyway. He’s done what he can though. He’d given strict instructions and backstage passes to Liam to be given to Zayn at his appointment at Crown today.

Liam swears he remembered to give him everything, but Louis hasn’t shown up yet, and it’s nearly time to go onstage. The only contact he’s had with him today was a quick ‘good luck’ hours ago. He’s checked the people with clipboards multiple times to make sure they have Zayn Malik and guest, Louis, on their lists. He’s an absolute git for not knowing Louis’ last name still, but once he had his phone number, it hadn’t seemed important.

He’s uncomfortable with the amount of disappointment he’s feeling right now. It’s a bit dodgy that as soon as he’s in the same city as Louis, he suddenly can’t get a return to his text messages. Not that Harry sent that many. He stopped after his fifth one went unanswered.

He’s stunned to realise how important it is to him to be able to talk to Louis multiple times a day. Almost as though they were--friends. He stops pacing in front of the floor length mirror in his dressing room, and he sees his tense face reflected back at him. They quite clearly are friends now; it’s just that Harry is definitely interested in more than that. In fact, he’s interested in more than his original plans for Louis, which had pretty much just been getting in his pants.

He heads out on stage rather subdued until he spots Louis there next to Niall’s brother and Liam’s sisters in the family area, and he lets out a sigh of relief. He feels his spirits brighten, and he gives the audience, one member in particular, his all tonight. He’s really hoping that Louis will come backstage after this because he’s done dancing around what he really wants.

Now that they’re in the same place again, he’s going to ask him out. Take him on a real date. Woo him a little. He starts by singing every ballad right to him. He doesn’t even care that much when Liam teases him during the show.

“You do realise other people came to this show besides Louis, right?” Liam asks as they wait to come back out for an encore.

“Oh shut up. No one else has an arse like him. When they do, I’ll sing to them.”

“Oh, really?” Liam raises one of his ridiculous eyebrows.

“No. Shut up.”

“You sure have it bad for him, mate,” Liam laughs. “Don’t see you like this too often, you know? You should write him a love song, and then, he can write you a romance novel.”

A romance novel? “Wait, what--”

Before he can ask Liam what he’s talking about they’re hoisted up from beneath the stage and are back in front of thousands of screaming fans. And then, there’s no time for questions.

He always leaves the stage with massive amounts of adrenaline running through him, but tonight seems even worse. He rushes back to his dressing room and takes off his sweaty clothes and puts on the first things he sees. His heart thunders in his chest as he waits for a knock at the door that he isn’t sure is going to happen. Why hadn’t Louis texted him back?

He stubbornly sits on his sofa instead of going to Liam’s room. Surely, by now Louis wouldn’t think they’d need to meet up with a load of other people around. He knows Liam’s room is full of his family members right now.

When he finally can’t take the suspense any longer, he flings open the door to go roam the corridors looking for Louis. Instead, he finds an astonished Louis with his hand in the air as though about to knock.

“Louis!” Harry’s shoulders sag in relief that he’s here. Not only here, but here at his door, clearly here for him. He almost doesn’t notice Zayn standing behind him. His moment of euphoria dampens a bit at the thought that Louis still thinks they need a buffer of some sort. “Zayn. Hi--ehm--come in.”

He opens the door wide and ushers them in, leaving the door open. Maybe Zayn will take a hint and leave. “Do you want anything? I’ve got water in here, champagne--”

“Champagne--”

“Champagne--”

They both answer simultaneously.

“Okay--champagne it is.” Harry looks at them curiously as he takes the bottle out of ice to pop the cork. Zayn looks unamused. Louis looks--nervous, perhaps. He’s not sure if that’s a good sign or a bad one.

He pours them each a glass. “Cheers.”

“Cheers,” Zayn echoes, bored.

“Cheers,” Louis says softly before he takes a sip.

Harry feels like he’s back at square one. What the fuck happened? He was so sure he and Louis were getting somewhere. It’s so frustrating to be sitting here wanting to ask out this clever, funny, fit as fuck bloke with his massive downer of a friend sitting there frowning at him.

He’s not sure where to start, but he’s got to say something. “So got any obscure facts for me about Wembley?”

“The last time I saw you at Wembley, you accidentally hit yourself with a mic stand and had a black eye for at least a--”

He’d forgotten about that, but it’s a fan favourite video of him that always makes the rounds on YouTube. The look of horror on Louis’ face is the first indication something isn’t right.

“How do you know about--” He starts to say.

“I--”

Even Zayn looks panicked now. He snatches up Harry’s copy of Graceling, the first novel from the series he’s been reading. “So you get Louis to sign this for you yet?”

“What?” What the fuck is Zayn on about now?

Louis has his face covered with his hands and hears a quiet groan.

Zayn looks confused now as well. “So you’d have an autographed copy? Have you read the new one yet? I’m sure Lou could get you a--”

Zayn trails off as Louis stands, his face red.

A few things click into place in Harry’s head. No wonder Louis had the funds to be Zayn’s silent partner in the shop. He’s confused why Louis never said anything though. “Wait, so L.W. Tomlinson? That’s you? Why didn’t you ever say who you were? I keep telling you how much I love your books and you never said it was--”

“What the fuck did you think he did?” Zayn says.

“I don’t know. I knew he was a writer, but I never knew what he wrote. I talked about the books, but he never said!”

“Why wouldn’t you have ever asked what he wrote?” Zayn asks, accusation heavy in his tone. “He’s not a pop star, so it didn’t matter?”

“That has nothing to do with it,” Harry answers coldly.

“Doesn’t it? He hasn’t got Gucci pillows in his flat. We don’t have champagne all the time. He--”

He suddenly realises this was a defensive strategy on Zayn’s part when he sees Louis slip out the door.

“Louis!” He calls out as he jumps up from the sofa to chase after him, but Zayn’s jumped up and is in his way. It’s just enough of an interference to allow Louis to dart off down a corridor. Rather than push Zayn out of the way, he scrambles over the table and chases after him. “Louis! LOUIS!”

People open doors and peer out to see what the commotion is about, but he’s past caring about that. Somehow everything’s gone to shit, and he doesn’t even know what happened. He runs down one way and then back when he reaches a dead end. He stands at the intersection of multiple hallways and knows it’s no use. He trudges back to his now empty dressing room. Of course, Zayn’s gone now as well.

He flings himself onto the sofa face down and lets himself wallow but only for a minute or two. He doesn’t have much time before he’s got to leave on the rest of tour, but he’s at least got to try and talk to Louis before he goes.


/// London (Night 2) ///

 

Harry began his annoying text campaign as soon as he was in a car heading towards his house last night. He’s not above begging for Louis to call him at this point. He tries calling himself, but the calls all go straight to voicemail.  

He’d probably be embarrassed if he counted how many texts he’s sent Louis today, but he doesn’t plan on counting them anyway. He feels shit enough as it is. He stares out the window of the car on his way to sound check and lets it all play over again in his mind.

Clearly, Louis knew more about him than he’d let on all this time. He knew about an obscure moment in a tour that happened two years ago that probably only a fan would know about. He can’t quite figure out why Louis never said anything, but at some point, he supposes it would have been embarrassing to confess something like that to him.

He’s knackered and lets out a long yawn as the car nears the stadium. It was hard to sleep knowing Louis was out there not speaking to him. It’s not fair really. It’s not like Harry’s really done anything wrong here.

The driver gets out of the car to open the door for Harry, and he steps out just as he gets an idea.

“Charles?”

“Yes, Mr. Styles?”

“I have a favour to ask of you that I can pay you very well for.”

Charles’ face remains impassive, but he is still standing here waiting for an explanation. “Yes. Okay, I’ll be right back. Can you stay right here?”

Charles nods, and Harry darts inside the door that’s held open for him. He finds their manager outside Niall’s dressing room, gets what he needs, and then run back towards the exit.

He hands Charles the packet. “Can you take this to Crown Tattoos? And I need it to go to Zayn Malik. Only give this to him, okay?”

“I can do that, yes. Would you like me to wait for a response from him, Mr. Styles?”

“No.” Harry shakes his head. “It’s all I can do at the moment.”

He tries to keep his head on straight for sound check, but he knows it doesn’t go well. Hours later when he walks out on stage to a roar of fans, his hopes are dashed when his eyes search the family and friends area with no sign of Louis.


/// London (Night 3) ///

 

After a fitful night of sleep, Harry wakes up with more determination than he had yesterday. Fine, it’s maybe more panic than determination. He’s going to lose his chance to see Louis face to face here soon.

He gives Louis one last chance to answer him before he decides to go through with his next act of desperation. Harry phones. Louis doesn’t answer. Harry texts. Louis doesn’t answer. In a true act of desperation, he’s going to find Zayn. Harry groans and looks up the hours of Crown Tattoos and then calls a car.

He’s there before the shop opens, and he sits outside the door. His driver refuses to leave him there and just watches him sit here like a knob head. He sees Zayn walking up to the shop, and he’s not sure whether this makes him lucky or not that Zayn should show up to open the shop today. When Zayn finally notices him, he stops short and eyes him warily.

“Yeah?”

Harry almost rolls his eyes at the greeting, but he refrains. Zayn after all is his only way to possibly get through to Louis at this point. “Hi--ehm--can i come in?”

“You want a tattoo or summat?”

“Uhhhhh--yes! I do--want a tattoo--”

Zayn unlocks the door and holds it open for Harry, waving him into the shop.

“Ehm--I don’t know that I was going to get another one in this exact moment, but--”

Zayn just flips on lights and walks towards one area in particular and stands behind a black leather adjustable chair. They stare at each other for a moment, and Harry knows better than anyone how to win a game of chicken.

He sits in the chair. Zayn says nothing, just pulls on a pair of black gloves and sits on a rolling chair next to his. Harry returns his stare.

“Where do you want it?”

Harry looks down at his already heavily tattooed arms and finds an empty spot on his arm to point to. He lets Zayn shave the hair off the area and wipe it down. Neither of them speak a word.

“So what do you want?”

Louis. He wonders what answer Zayn wants him to give. “A chance to speak with Louis.”

“What if he doesn’t want to talk to you?”

Well, fuck if that doesn’t hurt. Harry lets his head fall back against the headrest and feels all pretense deflate from his lungs. “Is that what he said?”

“No.”

Zayn turns and sets out a few ink caps before he looks at him again. “Do you really want a tattoo?”

“If that’s what it takes to talk to Louis, then yes.”

Zayn snorts. “You’re going to let me tattoo you just to talk to him?”

“Yes. I don’t have much time here to work with. I’m leaving on the rest of tour soon and--”

“I know.”

“Tattoo whatever you want on me, just give me a chance to talk to him.” He can hear the desperation in his voice, and Zayn seems to hear it as well.

“I’ll give him a message for you, but I’m not promising anything,” Zayn says. “And just so you know, I did give him those passes for last night. I didn’t hide them or summat.”

“Thanks for that, then.”

Zayn shrugs.

“Can you just tell him--I’d do anything to talk to him. That I don’t understand why he didn’t say anything about his books, but I think he’s a genius. That he has nothing to be embarrassed about since I’m the one that’s been chasing him from the start. And whatever he thought about me before he knew me doesn’t matter anymore because he knows the real me now, and I thought I knew the real him, too. And even if he doesn’t want anything more from me than friendship, just--that’s fine. Just tell him, I miss my friend.”

Zayn stares at his hands, and he realises that he’s holding a similar packet as yesterday. “That for him?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay.” Zayn takes the packet from him. “I’m not gonna make you get a tattoo in exchange for telling him this. I’m not a complete twat. I’m just trying to protect him. He’s my best friend.”

“I know, but you don’t have to protect him from me. I’m not going to use him and toss him aside, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

Zayn snorts. “You’re a famous pop star, Harry. Of course, that’s what I’m worried about. Louis is special, you know?”

“I do! I know!”

“Just want him to not get hurt,” Zayn continues. “And this whole thing has been completely bizarre. Thought he was gonna tag along that first time and get an autograph is all. And instead you were slobbering all over him. Don’t think he knew quite what to do. Wasn’t what we expected.”

Harry lets out a bark of a laugh. “Yeah, okay. Fair enough. I just hope you know that things are different now. He’s more to me than a shag. I don’t care that he was a fan before this. He honestly could have told me at any time, and it wouldn’t have mattered.”

“I believe you.”


Harry’s just as annoying as last night before the show, but everyone is a bit more tolerant tonight. Subtlety is not one of his strong suits, and everyone seems to know where he’s been today and that Louis hadn’t shown last night.

He’s not sure he’s ever been this nervous walking out on stage. Sure, he’s felt nerves before a big show, but he’s only ever been worried about hitting the right note or putting on a good show. He’s never walked out there thinking this might be the beginning or ending of something he cares more about than he ever thought possible only a few weeks ago.

He’d started out just impressed with Louis’ pretty face and fit body, but when he’d actually grown to know him, he’s been even more impressed. Louis is cheeky and fun and clever and apparently a hell of a writer.

His eyes immediately dart to the proper area near the catwalk, searching for him. The panic is nearly overwhelming him. He’d thought that he’d immediately be able to locate him if he’s there, but instead, he meets Zayn’s eyes first. And when Zayn actually smiles at him, for the first time ever, he knows that’s a very good sign. Standing just to the side and behind Zayn, is Louis, and relief washes over him. He knows they have a lot to talk about, but for now, he’s just going to sing for his boy.

 

After the show, he waits backstage impatiently for Louis. He doesn’t bother waiting in his dressing room, and instead paces the corridor outside it. As soon as he sees Zayn and Louis coming, he immediately stalks towards them, darting between people walking past him. People pat him on the back and call out congratulations on the show, but he has eyes for only one person.

He doesn’t stop until he’s standing directly in front of Louis, blocking his path. Louis still has that horribly embarrassed look on his face that he did just before he ran out on him, and more than anything, Harry wants to never see that look again in this context. If things go well, he wouldn’t mind seeing him look a bit coy in his bedroom.

He stops himself from throwing him over his shoulder and stealing him away, and instead, first tries out using words to do the same. “Will you come with me?”

Louis’ eyes dart to Zayn, who only shrugs at first, but then meets Louis’ gaze and Harry can see the softness there. He’s really glad Louis’ got a friend like Zayn. His boy deserves people who fight for him and protect him when they can. He hopes he gets the chance to do the same.

“Okay.”

Harry doesn’t wait for further confirmation, just grabs Louis’ hand and pulls him towards the exit. He doesn’t stop until he has Louis in the car, and the driver begins driving towards his house.

“Hi,” he says with a smile. He can just make out the hint of Louis’ smile in return, his eyes gleaming a bit in the dim light.

“Hi,” Louis says. “Guess I owe you a bit of an explanation.”

“No, you don’t owe me one, but I’d love to hear it if you want to explain. I’d love for you to just say you’re not going to run away from me again to be honest.”

He can see Louis’ eyes widen a bit at this. Louis clears his throat and looks down at his lap. “I knew who you were when we met, which is--sort of obvious now. Not just knew-- I was a big fan. Am a big fan, not just my sisters. I only went with Zayn that first time he came to meet with Liam to get Liam’s autograph actually.”

“Liam’s autograph?” He can’t help the bolt of jealousy that fires through him for a moment.

Louis laughs. “Yes, Liam’s. I wasn’t planning on harassing anyone to try and get yours. But then, you were there. And you kept talking to me and invited us to the show and Liam told you to stop chatting me up, and I didn’t really know what to do. I didn’t expect you to be so--”

“Ridiculous?”

“Interested.”

“Ah yes, interested. I was very, very interested.” He knows he’s staring, but he can’t seem to care right now. He never wants to take his eyes off the boy sitting next to him.

“It was addictive, having your attention like that, but it was also unnerving. I kept coming back for more, but it was--intense.”

“Intense?” Harry leans back against the seat with a sigh. “Is intense a code word for creepy?”

Louis laughs more fully this time, and the sound of it produces a fluttering in Harry’s chest. “I mean, maybe if I weren’t interested back, and you kept pursuing it. But I obviously was--interested back, I mean.”

“Were you now?” His voice deepens, and he can see the visible reaction Louis has to it.

“Um, yes,” Louis’ voice’s gone a bit raspy. “But I didn’t really know how to tell you about the whole--being a fan thing.”

Whilst he wants to snog Louis senseless right now, he figures he should wait until they’re out of the car. So instead he asks a question he’s been wondering about. “Why did you not tell me about writing the books you knew I was reading?”

“I sort of have an embarrassing explanation for that. You haven’t--looked me up yet, have you? I feel like you’d know if you did. It’s why I’ve sort of been keeping my last name to myself.”

“This sounds interesting, but I’m willing to wait until we’re in my house for further explanations if you’d like to wait. I just had a very brilliant idea about something.”

“Oh, really?”

“Yes. I thought of a really interesting way to get you to open up to me.”

Louis makes a bit of a squeak. “Sounds--um, interesting.”

He knows they’re getting close now to his house, and he reaches across the seat to take Louis’ hand in his. He doesn’t just hold it though. He softly traces the lines of his palm and treasures the gasp he hears in response. He lifts his hand to his lips and brushes them against his wrist and the sensitive skin of his inner arm. He can hear Louis’ laboured breathing, and he knows how well his plan is going to work if Louis is this responsive to him with just these few touches.

The car stops, and Harry whispers against his skin. “We’re here.” He can feel Louis shiver his reaction.

He keeps hold of Louis’ hand as he leads them into his house. He stops in the large entryway as Louis gazes around at the quite posh furnishings. He needs to know something before this goes any further.

“Louis?”

“Yeah?”

“I’d like to talk to you more seriously, but later--maybe in the morning. Right now, I’d quite like to kiss you and see where that leads us. If that’s okay with you that is.”

Louis takes him by surprise. He’s been so skittish with him that it takes him off guard when Louis launches himself at him. Harry catches him in his arms though as Louis’ lips crash into his. Louis’ arms wrap around him, and his fingers thread through Harry’s hair at the nape of his neck. It takes a moment for Harry’s brain to catch up enough to return the kiss, but he does. He can hardly believe that he’s got Louis in his arms, and he licks into his mouth to taste what’s finally been given to him. He lets his hands slip from Louis’ waist to his arse and presses him more closely into his own body. Louis whimpers at the contact, and Harry knows he has to stop this now or he’ll end up trying to fuck Louis right here at the landing of his stairs.

He pulls away slowly, still pressing small kisses to Louis’ jaw. “Let’s go upstairs.”

“Yes, yes--okay. Please.”

Bloody hell does he like the way Louis just said please.

He leads Louis up the stairs and into his bedroom. “I really need to take a shower.”

“Oh--right. The concert. I can just--”

“It’s quite a large shower. Would you like to take one with me?”

Louis’ cheeks darken that lovely shade of pink that Harry loves to put there. “Oh god. I--um--”

“Yes?”

“If you want to--”

“Oh, I want to,” Harry says, licking his lips. “I promise I won’t do anything you don’t want me to do, Louis.”

Louis doesn’t answer. Instead, he looks around the large bedroom until he sees a door. He squares his shoulders as though gathering courage and strips off his t shirt, tossing it to the floor. He stops in the doorway and looks over his shoulder at him, and Harry thinks he might come just from the look on Louis’ face.

“Coming?” Louis asks.

“Oh, I’m coming all right. You’ll be coming tonight, too,” Harry growls as he stalks towards him, quickly following him into the bathroom. He turns on the double shower heads in the large shower, and then turns towards Louis. He looks him right in the eye as he unbuttons the tight jeans he wore for the show tonight and then peels them down his legs.

Louis’ cheeks turn an even deeper shade of pink, but he doesn’t look away. Instead, he unbuttons his own jeans and slides them down over his ass until they reach the floor. Louis stands before him in only a pair of very small, tight, black boxers. The fabric hugs his cock deliciously, and he can see that Louis’ already a bit hard in them. He quickly unbuttons and shrugs off the shirt he’s wearing before he quickly pulls off his own boxers. He revels in the way Louis can’t take his eyes off him. His cock quite likes Louis’ attention, he finds. He steps into the shower and beckons Louis to come in as well. He sees Louis take a breath and then finally pull off the last bit of clothing and following him under the warm sprays of water.

“Don’t be nervous,” he says. “We’re just cleaning up. Promise.”

He sees Louis relax a little.

“Not saying I won’t touch a little when you’re within reach though.” He waggles his eyebrows, and Louis rolls his eyes. He likes this bit of Louis that shows through again. The Louis he’s begun to know through texts and phone calls is the one who would definitely roll his eyes at him.

He knows Louis is nervous about the idea of him and probably Harry’s intentions as well, but he finds he’s quite nervous himself, of scaring Louis away again and of finally being able to kiss him and touch him the way he’s been fantasising about.

He lets the water flow over his hair and then suds it up with shampoo before rinsing it off. He makes sure to make the most of Louis’ attention on his body when he soaps up his body with body wash. Louis hasn’t done much but watch, but he seems to suddenly realise he’s just been standing there staring and hurriedly begins squirting shampoo into his hand and raking it through his hair.

Harry stills Louis’ hands and brings them down to his sides. “Let me?”

Louis nods yes rather than answer.

He stands close enough that their bodies nearly touch, but don’t quite meet, as he begins gently working the shampoo through Louis’ hair. He carefully pushes Louis back under the spray to rinse, and he obeys. Louis looks at him as though mesmerised by his touch, and Harry can’t say he doesn’t feel much the same. He squirts body wash into his hands and tries to go through with the rest of his plan.

Yes, his plan. He would really like to stick with it if he can manage to do so in the presence of Louis’ delectable curves. Fuck, this is a lot harder when he’s right here ready to be taken. He turns Louis around and lets his fingers spread bubbles over Louis shoulders and back.

Louis gasps as Harry’s fingers reach his arse. He drops to his knees, the shower spraying over him as he washes between Louis’ thighs and grazes over his hole a few times until Louis’ legs are trembling. Yes, Louis is right where he wants him now. He turns Louis again, letting him rinse off, before he turns off the water and steps out of the shower. He quickly dries himself before settling a plush towel around Louis’ shoulders. He steps closer and presses a brief kiss to Louis’ lips.

Louis still looks a bit dazed and tries to chase after the kiss, but Harry doesn’t allow it. He takes the towel from his shoulders and runs it carefully over Louis’ hair and then down his arms and torso. He again sinks to his knees, thankfully this time on a bath rug rather than the hard tiles of the shower. His face is so mouthwateringly close to Louis’ cock that he’d quite like to have a taste of, but he refrains, concentrating on drying his legs and then running the towel up the back of them.

By the time he meets Louis’ eyes again, they’re hooded with desire for him, and Harry is back to nearly being unable to contain himself. He presses his palm against his erection to try and steady himself.

He takes Louis by the hand and leads him to the bed. “I’ve thought of a way to have a little more open communication between us, love. Does that sound okay to you?”

Louis looks a bit confused but says, yes, in a hoarse voice.

“Babe, I want you to get up on the bed now.” Louis climbs onto the bed. “And get up on your knees there and hold the headboard.”

Louis’ eyes widen, but he crawls up the bed and then clutches the curled iron that makes up the intricate headboard of Harry’s bed. Harry takes a moment to just look his fill. His boy looks so lovely like this with his curves on display for him. Louis glances over his shoulder at him, his eyelashes sweeping his cheeks before he looks up at him. He’s so beautiful like this, his hair still damp from the shower, his skin flushed a lovely colour.

Harry crawls up between his legs. “I have a few questions,” he whispers against the skin of Louis’ hip.

Louis lets out a mewl of a sound.

“I’d like to reward you for anything you’d like to be open about with me. First question, did you fancy me a bit before we met?”

“Yes.”

Harry smiles, imagining Louis talking about him to Zayn before they ever showed up in Sunderland. He lets his hands cup Louis’ arse and fuck if it doesn’t feel amazing to touch him like this. He lets his thumbs spread him open a bit before pressing his lips to him briefly.

“Is that right?” He says, letting out a puff of breath against him. “So you let me think you were uninterested for that long, did you? Even thought for a minute that you were straight.”

He hears a brief huff of breath come from Louis.

“How long have you fancied me, Louis?”

“Three years.”

“Fuck,” Harry says. Three years. The band’s only been together for four. “An early fan then.”

Harry spreads Louis open again and licks a long stripe from his balls up to his hole. Louis lets out a strangled yelp.

“Have you ever got off thinking about me?”

“Yeah,” Louis whimpers.

“Before or after we met?”

“Both.”

Harry lets himself imagine it all for a moment. Louis’ spent years thinking about him whilst he wanks. Fuck, that’s hot. “Hope the real thing measures up,” he says just before his tongue circles around him, and he pushes just the tip of his tongue into him.

Louis whines and presses back against Harry’s face, but Harry releases him again. “I just want to get out any and all embarrassing things between us now. Don’t want anything in between us again.”

“I--I scheduled--some book signings to coincide with your concerts.”

Fuck. He presses his tongue back inside Louis who lets out a shout at the feeling. “I did it months ago--just wanted to be able to--ah, ah--go to your concerts.”

He slides his tongue in and out as Louis writhes and fumbles his words. He’s very glad to hear that Louis will be in the same place occasionally whilst he’s touring the rest of Europe.

“You’re ready to confess everything, aren’t you? Maybe I should ask for spoilers for book four.”

His tongue is back working its way in and out of Louis as Louis tries to think of more things to confess. “I didn’t want you to look me up because--ahhh--I--ah ah--am known as the writer--who has a massive thing for--Harry Styles.”

Harry stills his tongue and then slides out. “Are you serious? Makes me want to go look you up right now. I would except I’m about to come just from eating you out.”

“Don’t come yet. Want you to fuck me.”

Harry isn’t going to wait for any further invitation. He opens the drawer to the bedside table and takes out a condom and a bottle of lube. He slides the condom on and slicks himself up, wrapping his arm around Louis’ waist to keep him close, he lets the tip of his cock press against his hole. He teases him for a moment or two, just letting the tip brush against him.

“Harry--please, please--Harry--”

“I really like the sound of you begging for me, love,” Harry says with a gasp as he very slowly presses his cock in further and doesn’t move. He can hear his ragged breaths as he tries to control himself from plunging in before Louis is ready.

Louis loses his grip on the headboard and instead props himself up on his elbows. Harry plasters himself to his back and kisses every inch his lips can reach. Then, slowly he begins to press in a little more at a time until he’s fully inside him. He lets himself revel in the feeling.

It’s so much more than a conquering, no this feels so good, better than he could have ever imagined it could be to be inside this boy who feels like his now. His boy. Harry hasn’t had a real relationship since the band took off. Not enough time, and no one special enough to even consider trying to make time for. But this boy, he knows he’ll make as much time for as possible.

Louis whines beneath him, and Harry picks up the pace ever so slowly. He begins a slow rhythm, trying to stave off an orgasm that threatens to overwhelm him at every thrust. He knows he’s found the right spot when Louis’ moans grow louder and more incoherent, and he tries his best to keep the right position to make this as good for Louis as possible. He wants Louis to never want to leave this bed.

His hand grips Louis’ cock as he slides his fist over him in rhythm with his thrusts. He’s glad he manages to stave off his orgasm until Louis is coming into his hand, and then, he lets himself go. He feels his muscles tighten and release and comes inside him with a breath he hadn’t realised he was holding.

Louis collapses all the way to the bed now, and Harry pulls out gently, holding Louis tightly against his chest.

“Glad we had this talk,” Louis murmurs.

Harry lets out a loud cackle. “Same.”