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Reindeer Games

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For twenty-two long years Louis Tomlinson had dreamed of leaving Christmas Town, location North Pole. He wanted to see, not just hear about, the Seven Wonders of the World. He yearned to walk in deciduous forests and see spring grass and pick colorful flowers. He wanted to touch ocean waves and watch sunsets behind jagged mountains. Most of all, he wanted to never make another fucking toy again.

Louis didn’t hate Christmas in the traditional, Scrooge-y sense, but he had grown utterly sick of it. Day in, day out, Christmas Christmas Christmas. Kris had given him more pep talks about preserving the ‘sacred trust of Christmas Spirit’ than Louis could remember; every annoyingly fervent word remained etched in his brain.

He could have left years ago, sure. Nothing really held him to the North Pole save tradition, family, livelihood, and accepted social norms. In theory he could venture out into the world and perpetually wear a hat, blending in with the human population. In theory he could find another way to live out his two-hundred-some-odd years of life.

But Harry Styles ruined theoretical musings. Louis had been in love with his best friend since he was old enough to comprehend the word, and Harry Styles loved Christmas.

“New York… it’s, uh, below Canada… Northeastern United States, on the coast. Right?”

Louis half glanced at the atlas beside him, then returned to mixing the pie filling. “Below Canada? Almost everything is below Canada, H.”

“Shut up,” Harry moaned, plunking his face into his hands. “S’not my fault, there’s too many cities to remember.”

“Look, if you’re going to remember one, just please remember New York. Promise me. I don’t care if you fail the rest of the test, but for my sake, don’t break my heart, Harry.”

Harry swiped a finger into Louis’ filling, popping it in his mouth and making a sour face as he pulled it back out. “Alright, we’re switching. You’ve swapped the sugar for salt again.”

“Did not! Right here, see? I made sure that it says—“ Louis squinted at the container. “Fuck. If Zayn artfully labels one more thing in this cottage, so help me.”

“Mmm, don’t think it’s exactly his fault, Lou,” Harry teased, coming up behind him and snatching the mixing spoon.

“The whole point of me making the stupid pie was for you to study.”

“I won’t pass anyways, it’s not worth it.”

Louis laid a hand on his best friend’s shoulder. “Stop that. You’ll pass. You’ll make the cut this year.”

“And if I don’t?”

Louis couldn’t help a slight feeling of giddy anticipation. “Then you’ll spend Christmas Eve with me, like always.”

Harry sighed but gave Louis a smile. “That’s not really motivation for me to pass, you know.”

Louis’ heart burned at that, but he swallowed down the feeling and contented his unrequited love with tucking a stray curl behind Harry’s ear.

“Hurry with that pie, H, I’m starving.”

Harry rewarded him with a smack to the ass and a cheeky smirk. “Shut up, Lou.”

*

Niall always found a way to make Louis’ hatred of Christmas reach new levels.

“Please tell me this is a joke,” Louis begged, the candy-cane dildo held squeamishly in his fingers as if it could bite.

“Nope, absolutely real. Got an order of fifty all set to go. You lads are the honorary recipients of the first batch!”

“Gee, thanks,” Louis sniped, rolling his eyes, but Liam and Zayn were already making suggestive faces at each other across the lunchroom table.

“These could be fun,” Liam admitted, inspecting the striped object. Zayn went one step farther and stuck his in his mouth.

“Oh for fuck’s sake!”

“You flavored them? Brilliant, Niall.” Zayn’s lips made an obscene ring as he tasted again.

“Forgive the indelicate question, but have you thought of how well peppermint works up your arsehole, Niall?” Louis had to shield his eyes from the sight of Zayn giving Liam a lick.

“Matter of fact, I did. It’s a bit of a spicy surprise, but nothing tragic.” Niall blessed Louis with a shit-eating grin.

“That’s it, I’m out,” Louis stood from their table, swiping an apple off of Niall.

“Just imagine it, Tommo, this way you’ll know what it feels like to have Harry’s Christmas Spirit up your arse!”

Louis glared at his three guffawing friends before making his way across the crowed room and exiting out the side door. They knew far too much about Louis’ pining and took every opportunity to tease him, though Louis had informed them on multiple occasions that it really was not funny.

He hadn’t bothered slipping on a jacket; his blood ran hot, very hot, thanks to his elf DNA. Negative temperatures had little to no effect on him. Holding the apple out from his side he walked farther away from the building and gave a sharp whistle.

Moments later a speck started to descend from the sky. As it grew closer its body became recognizable as that of a reindeer. Farther and farther down it came until, about a hundred yards out from Louis, it touched down.

“I’m not moving this time!” Louis yelled, but he closed his eyes and braced his body for impact. Harry hadn’t yet mastered the art of a graceful landing.

True to form, seconds later a massive body slammed into him and he toppled back to the white earth.

“At least it wasn’t antlers first today,” Louis muttered, dusting himself off and grabbing on to one of Harry’s woody appendages as he stood. Harry didn’t pay him any mind, instead focused exclusively on munching the apple.

“Stole this off Nialler. I was gonna bring you a pear today, but I forgot.”

Harry raised his large head at that, his green eyes staring out from a disgruntled muzzle of tan and white fur.

“I got distracted, okay? I’ll remember tomorrow. Don’t act like no one ever feeds you, you massive equine.”

Harry snorted and stomped one hoof. He hated being likened to a horse, but Louis adored him slightly pouty, so often risked his ire. He considered it his one guilty pleasure.

Perhaps, though, just being friends with Harry constituted another guilty pleasure. Not that elves were forbidden from associating with the Team, quite the contrary, but the two species simply had little in common and chose to mingle mostly with their own kind. Elves were studious preservers of culture and history, alternating between libraries and workshops, researching, documenting, and annotating the annals of humankind in the greatest (though unknown) anthropological pursuit on the planet. To make toys for humans, one had to know human history, the human psyche, and the human spirit. And the Team? Well. They had to know wind currents and read jump patterns and navigation charts, not to mention go through years of grueling physical training. The two predominant species of Christmas Town had few overlapping interests.

Harry finished the snack and pressed his still-dripping-with-apple-juice muzzle into the crook of Louis’ neck.

“Gross, yuck,” Louis mock protested, shooing his best friend away as he fanned his nose. “Reindeer breath, eww.”

Harry licked him from jawbone to temple.

“Harry! I’m gonna smell like animal the rest of the day.” Louis tickled behind Harry’s ears. “That makes you delighted, doesn’t it?”

Harry let out a yowl and nosed against Louis’ chest.

“Brutal, Harry, you’re brutal.” As if confirming this, Harry nosed at Louis again, but this time slipped as he did so and thwacked Louis in the head with his right antler.

“Ow!”

In eager apology Harry backed up two steps, but only managed to slip again and fall on his rump, his hind legs doing the splits.

“You’re a mess Harry. Did you throw your shoes again?”

The reindeer nodded, hanging his head.

“Well… I have a bit of extra time. Left lunch early today. I’ll walk you back, ‘kay?”

Harry scrambled to stand, only managing to get all four hooves on the snow after his fourth try. Louis slipped an arm around his neck and patted his flank as they walked under the bright stars.

Christmas Town sprawled out in every direction, a collection of beautifully constructed buildings and towers and subterranean farms bedecked in twinkling lights. It would rank as a wonder of the world, Louis thought, if only anyone knew it existed. Alas, a blanket of magic covered the whole shebang. They headed for the Commons, a glittering arena that housed the entirety of Santa’s elite reindeer. Harry had entered the training regime three years ago; his sister Gemma had been part of Santa’s team for five Christmas’ now.

Harry managed to stumble across the Commons’ threshold despite Louis holding the door open. He clopped his hooves on the snow-soaked entrance mat and trotted towards a peg-lined wall where multiple blankets hung like towels. Louis pulled down Harry’s, a garish red and green thing that smelled like fur and sweat.

“How long’s it been since you washed this?” Louis complained as he flung it over Harry, draping the offending fabric around his friend’s shoulders. Harry grunted and waggled his antlers. As Louis watched, Harry’s hooves and muzzle and tail began to blur, and seconds later a gangly, green-eyed boy stood in place of the reindeer, clutching at his blanket.

“It just smells like me,” Harry protested, his lower lip pouting, and Claus be fucked he looked precious like that.

“Yes, exactly, Harry,” Louis teased, his smile giving him away.

Harry giggled, curling into the arm that Louis held open for him.

“You want to come over tonight? Zayn’s making beef stew, something about lots of veggies, you know.”

“Mmm. Only if you pick out the beef for me, I can’t eat my own kind.”

Louis rolled his eyes. “Alright princess, as you wish.”

“Thanks, Lou. And thanks for walking me back. See you later, ya?” Harry squeezed his hand before hurrying across the lobby, his blanket billowing behind him, fluttering a little too freely several times and revealing his bare arse. Louis tried to look away and utterly failed.

That was his other guilty pleasure: being in love with a shape-shifter.
*

Harry arrived at Louis and Zayn’s little cottage more demoralized than usual. He didn’t even bother tugging off his snow clothes, just plunked down on the barstool and buried his head in his hands.

“Oh no, what’s it this time,” Zayn asked, rounding the corner with Liam, both of them carrying massive leaks from the greenhouse.

“I skidded on another landing this afternoon. Everyone laughed.” Harry rubbed at his cheek with a fluffy mitten.

“H,” Louis wrapped him in his arms, “Want me to come kick them all in the balls?”

“You’re gonna kick my sister in the balls?”

“Obviously not Gemma, she’s a girl,” Liam offered helpfully.

“The fun has arrived!” Niall burst through the door as Louis tried to construct a witty comeback. “I brought the dead cow!” Niall paused when he saw Harry. “Forget I said that.”

“It’s fine, nothing worse can happen today. Might as well consume a close relative.”

“You do realize you’re not at all related, right?” Zayn used his lecture voice as he stirred in three different spices. “You’re a humanoid shape-shifter that transforms into a reindeer, you share zero DNA with cows.”

“Still.” Harry would not be reasoned with. “Once you know how it feels to walk on four hooves you have a sort of brotherhood.”

Liam barely managed to hide his snort in a well-timed cough. Louis just shook his head and pet through Harry’s curls. “I believe you, H. You can just eat all of Liam’s overgrown onions.”

“Leaks,” Liam corrected, as Louis knew he would. Louis timed his eye roll to coincide with Liam’s exasperated sigh. His antics had the desired effect; Harry smiled.

 

Harry stayed the night, as he often did, sharing Louis bed and cuddling close. Being at least partially herd animal, he lived for close contact.

“Want some hot chocolate before we hit the sack?” Louis asked as Harry plunked down on the mattress.

“Mmm. Yes please.”

“Peppermints crushed in it?”

“That would be perfect.” Harry dimpled adorably at him and Louis wondered if a heart could explode from yearning.

As he heated the milk he contemplated why, year after year, day after day, he continued to torture himself with Harry’s close proximity. Around age seventeen he’d made himself go on dates and hook up with other elves, but nothing had lasted; he’d never had a steady boyfriend. Zayn had Liam, of course, and Niall had Hailee, and they often begged Louis to at least try, and perhaps Louis would have tried, but he and Harry weren’t even the same species, nor had it ever been made explicitly clear if Harry even liked boys, much less elves. Harry had never shown much interest in anyone, and while this at least saved Louis from endless jealousy, he’d begun to wonder if his best friend felt sexual desire at all. Perhaps Harry exclusively loved Christmas.

The milk boiled, and Louis studiously prepared the hot chocolate. Humans usually sprinkled marshmallows in theirs, but the residents of Christmas Town preferred a garnish of candy.

“Here go, H,” Louis handed Harry a mug and took a sip from his own. The liquid, though still boiling, didn’t faze Louis’ hot lips.

“Thanks,” Harry smiled up at him, following Louis’ lead and taking a gulp. Predictably, he spewed his mouthful across the room and nearly dumped the rest.

“Harry,” Louis half cooed, half scolded, “Must I remind you every time?”

Harry turned bright red, his eyes blinking back shame. “Owwy Ou. Wewwy.”

“Here, let me see,” Louis bent to inspect the tip of Harry’s tongue. “It’s still there, you didn’t burn it off. Yet.”

Louis took Harry’s mug and walked back into the kitchen, returning moments later having filled the drink with three ice cubes. “Try this.”

When they’d finished their drinks Harry crawled in bed first. Louis followed, striping down to his boxers. Whenever Harry stayed over he turned the heat up in his bedroom, making it tolerable for reindeer blood but annoyingly hot for internal elf temperature.

“I’m so nervous, Lou,” Harry confessed into the extra fluffy pillow that Louis kept on his bed just for his friend.

“You’ve got to remember to breathe, H. I’ve seen you fly, you’re the best of the herd.”

“I’m not, not really. You’re just biased.” Harry curled against him, sticking his icy feet on Louis’ claves. They provided blessedly cool relief.

“Lou?” Harry asked, “Can you tell me about the cities again?”

Louis had started this tradition years ago, a substitute for the boring bedtime stories they’d read together as children. Louis would paint verbal pictures of the places he dreamed of visiting and Harry would fall sleep, leaving Louis to whisper his hopes to the gloaming darkness.

“Which one?” Louis pulled Harry’s back snugly against his chest, wrapping his arms around the taller boy.

“Can you do New York again?”

“Can I, what a question.” Louis smiled into Harry’s tangle of shoulder-length curls. “See that poster there?” Louis pointed above his desk on the opposite wall.

“Ya. It’s new, isn’t it?”

“That’s Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night, residence: the Museum of Modern Art. Every day, hundreds of people traipse through the museum’s white halls, past temporary instillations and twisted sculptures, just to stand in front of that painting, just to see its swirls of color in person.”

Harry’s voice had already begun drooping in drowsiness. “And is it worth it?”

“Of course. The brush strokes can’t be replicated by mere pictures. You can’t really replicate anything in New York with pictures. You have to experience it first hand. You need to feel the wind whipping down the avenues, vicious and harsh from the chasms and tunnels of the skyscrapers. You can’t capture the smells either; the distinct fragrance of street trash and pigeon and hotdog-stand all mesh together. And the way the sun sets behind the skyline? It’s pure gold, Harry, and the beams hit your eyes as they stream through the trees of central park.”

Louis nearly teared up at the sound of Harry’s first soft snore.

“It’s a different kind of magic than here, H.”

Closing his own eyes, Louis swallowed down a full-on cry. He had so many dreams, but he knew, as long as Harry wanted to sleep curled against him, he’d stay. Always.

*
Louis had assumed the position of big spoon after Harry’s first rut. Harry had, quite unintentionally, stuck his persistent erection against Louis’ thigh whilst they’d slept, then (also quite unintentionally) had started to hump against Louis in his sleep. Since that incident, Louis made sure he slept against Harry’s safer side. Not that Harry had taken this as a hint to abstain from crawling into Louis’ bed during his ruts; on the contrary, Harry seemed unusually determined to complain about his symptoms (which presented even when not in reindeer form) in explicit, and, sometimes, visual detail.

Though the other members of the Team usually took the opportunity of rut to fuck each other’s brains out (in human bodies, of course) Harry had spent every single blessed season in Louis’ bed. It would have been marginally tolerable if Louis weren’t so desperately gone for the shape-shifter. Or perhaps if Harry would have ever practiced common decency; but when it came to Louis, modesty never seemed to register as a consideration.

Last rut Harry had explained, a rosy blush on his cheeks, that the cotton of his boxers in fact rubbed harshly against his tender, near-constantly aroused dick. So he’d taken them off. He’d walked around Louis’ room, slept in his bed, pressed his back to Louis’ chest, clad only in a long-john shirt and socks, his privates airily exposed and fully aroused. Louis had nearly gone insane. Harry had stopped short of jerking off in front of him, but just barely. Once, Louis had come out of the bathroom to find Harry wiping himself with tissues from Louis’ nightstand, his cock still straining into the open air though he’d clearly just come.

Louis unfortunately thought of these moments nearly every morning that he awoke with Harry in his arms.

“Lou, you awake?” Harry mumbled.

“Barely. Sleep well?” Louis resisted pressing a kiss to Harry’s shoulder.

“Had another nightmare I fucked up the landing,” Harry sniffed softly.

“S’just a nightmare, H. I promise.”

 

Louis walked Harry back to the Commons after a breakfast of bacon and waffles. It was Saturday, and though Louis had the weekend off, the Team practiced every morning without fail.

The whole lot of humanoid reindeers stood clustered in the lobby when Louis and Harry entered, every person clad in blankets and ready to shift, looking for all the world like a ridiculous slumber party.

“There you are, Harry. Hurry up and change, we’ve been waiting for you.”

Harry wrinkled his brow at his sister. “But I thought we were just running routes today?”

“Kris changed it. All hooves on deck and we’re doing backup teams, so you’re in lead.”

Harry cursed darkly and hurried over to his blanket.

“Hi Louis, how’re you doing? Haven’t seen you in a while,” Gemma said, a warm smile coming to her lips.

“Good, good. Same old, really. What position are you this year?”

“Wing right.”

“Pheww,” Louis whistled, “Vixen carving out her place in the world.”

Gemma grinned bashfully. Their reindeer names were chosen by the collective team and based on not just personality, but performance. Gemma’s suited her perfectly.

“Ready!” Harry waddled up in his smelly blanket.

“It’s about time,” a burly boy name Conner (Donner) complained.

“And thanks to you, Louis, he’ll smell like elf all day,” chimed in Sylvia (Cupid).

“Ode de’ elf remains, I am happy to inform you, much more desirable than ‘scent de sweaty hide,’” Louis retorted.

“Ya, but it’s not just ode de’ elf, it’s ode de’ nude elf, and lets be honest, Louis, none of us want a whiff of that.”

The team chortled and Louis shrugged at Alec fondly. “My balls still smell better than that animal breath of yours, Dancer.”

Alec shook his head in mock despair. “One day we’ll break him of interspecies mingling.”

The team headed for the runway, some shimmering into their reindeer forms as they walked. Before Harry changed shape he turned and waved to Louis, his unruly hair perfectly framing the worried smile on his face.

“Bye, H, good luck,” Louis whispered, hoping the day went quickly, hoping, despite everything, that Harry would come stay with him again that night.

*

Harry tumbled through Louis’ door that evening a crying, staggering mess. Louis had been taking a shower, so Zayn got to deal with Harry first. Louis emerged spiky-haired and slightly damp to find Zayn in a state of near mortification, Harry clasping him too tight whilst crying, utterly unaware of his strength.

“H, here I am, let Zayn go.” Harry immediately transferred his clinging to Louis; Zayn, looking slightly red and very grateful, slipped away to his room. “You’ve got to stop crying long enough to tell me what happened, ya?”

Louis smoothed at his friend’s curls, trying to illicit a smile from Harry’s lips, but to no avail.

“I f-fu-fucked up the l-landing again, Lou,” Harry sobbed, his voice terribly hoarse.

“Oh. Shhh, it’s okay H, it’s a whole ‘nother week before Kris chooses, you have time.”

“T-t-they said—“ Harry broke off and buried his face in the dip of Louis’ neck, getting snot everywhere, “They s-said I was so bad at b-being a r-reindeer that my nickname s-should be… Oh Lou,” Harry cried harder, unable to continue.

“Alright, come here, Harry.” Louis pulled his best friend to the couch and then down atop him, letting Harry curl up in his lap. “Try to stop crying and tell me? It can’t be that bad.”

“Nude elf. They c-called me n-nude elf, Lou,” Harry whimpered, his body limp with resignation.

“What, from this morning? What a bunch of idiots. Was this Blitzen again? It was his idea, wasn’t it. And while Gemma was on team A, am I right?”

Harry nodded against his shoulder.

“Oh fuck that pompous little whitetail. You can’t listen to him, H. It’s just one bad day. Things will go better tomorrow, I promise.”

*

But things did not go better the next day. In fact, they went worse. Harry skidded on another landing, nearly broke an ankle trying to take off from an un-packed snow drift, and busted a sled runner by dipping down too low over an ice pack. And the nickname of Nude Elf unfortunately stuck.

Louis knew Harry’s talents didn’t extend to earth-bound gracefulness, but he’d always held to the notion that this was more due to Harry’s continuous growth spurts and gangly limbs rather than a flaw of character. Harry could be as graceful as a swallow in the air, and where jumps were concerned, Harry’s skills had always been unparalleled. Kris’ Astrometer, an ancient instrument of complex magic and even more complex science, guided the Teams’ jumps around the world in milliseconds, but often proved hard to read; few young reindeer could adeptly decipher its signals.

But even Louis’ hopes began to wane as the week drew to a close. Harry messed up some aspect of something every single day, and, though Kris had nixed the nickname of Nude Elf, Donner had replaced it with a close imitation, Rudolph. Harry had been too demoralized to fight its implementation.

All day Friday Louis could barely concentrate on his work, leading Niall to wonder aloud if his candy-cane abominations had been working too well.

“You seem a bit out of it, Tommo. Had some fun with your new toy?”

“Honestly, Niall.”

“It does have to do with Harry, though,” Zayn supplied. “Final team pick is today.”

“Does he have a chance this year?” Niall asked, genuinely concerned.

“I’ve crossed every part of my body, let’s just say that,” Louis sighed, glancing at his watch for the tenth time that afternoon. Minutes couldn’t pass fast enough.

At five sharp Louis dashed out the factory door and raced towards the Commons. He made it inside, panting, five minutes later. The Team stood clustered around a posted list, but Harry was nowhere in sight.

“Gemma?” Louis elbowed his way through the forty or so shape shifters.

“Thank Claus, have you seen Harry?” Gemma grabbed his elbow and pulled him to the side, her grip fierce.

“No… I came here to find him.”

“Uhg! He’s the most infuriating person! He can’t take things so personally, it’s not like anyone hates him!”

Louis’ heart sank. “So he didn’t make the team again.”

“Oh Louis. Not only did he not make it, he crashed the dummy sleigh during tryouts in front of Kris and everyone. If they haven’t yet marked him in the books as the clumsiest reindeer ever to exist, they will now.” Gemma shook her head.

“That’s—that’s too bad.” Louis’ heart hurt. He alone knew just how much making the team meant to Harry.

“Try to find him, will you? I have to head to a Team A meeting.”

“Sure, sure.” Louis stuck his hands in his pockets and walked slowly back out into the biting cold. Trying to find Harry would prove useless, he knew. When Harry wanted to hide, he hid, flying to any secret, snowy place he wished and hunkering there until he felt good and ready to leave. Louis had learned this lesson years ago. The only thing to do was to go home and wait.

Zayn had gone to Liam’s for the weekend, so Louis anticipated an evening alone. The cottage hung in darkness upon his arrival.

“Holy shit,” Louis cursed as he flicked on his bedroom lights; there lay Harry, naked, sprawled out on his bed. “H? Hey are you okay?” He crawled up next to him and stroked his curls.

Harry didn’t answer, just stared blankly at Louis, his eyes unblinking, wet from tears. He’d clearly sobbed himself dry.

“Tell you what, we’ll make a proper party of it this year. We’ll watch It’s a Wonderful Life and eat sugar cookies and dip some peanut butter balls in chocolate, okay? And we can go see my family, play with the baby twins, okay? My mum’s been dying to see you, you’re her favorite reindeer, you know.”

Harry finally blinked, but still wouldn’t meet Louis’ eyes.

“And we can set up a tree, alright? A big one. Garlands? We can even do mistletoe if you want, Harry. Anything, I promise.”

Harry’s eyes filled again. “Lou,” hiccup, sob, “I wanted it so bad. I tried so hard, and it didn’t fucking matter.”

Louis pulled his friend into his arms, naked balls and all. “I know, H. But it’s not the end of the world. There’s always next year.”

“Next year! Next year and next year and next year! I’ll be getting old soon, Lou, and it’s just… all those kids? And the chimneys? The rooftops? Looking down and seeing all the lights, the decorations, the cities sprawling out like stars below you while the real stars are hanging above? It’s the stuff of legend, Lou.”

Louis rubbed his shoulder soothingly. “But it’s all just one night. There’s so much more to the world than Christmas.”

“Not for me.” Harry sounded broken, the spunk gone from his voice. “I can’t do what I was born to, Lou. I can’t bring Christmas magic to people. I’m a failure.”

Louis held Harry tighter, wishing on many levels he could just smack his friend and make him understand that candy-canes and silver lanes didn’t really matter. Louis stayed silent.

“Let’s leave, Lou.”

Louis startled. “What?”

“Let’s leave. Run away. You’d come with me, wouldn’t you, Lou? You’ve always wanted to get out of here. Well let’s do it. I can’t stay here and be a failure, forever the clumsy reindeer everyone laughs at. I’d rather not have Christmas at all than have to look in from the sidelines.”

Louis could barely calm the thudding of his chest because he had waited all his life for Harry to say those words, and here they were, offered in a moment of utter despair and defeat, and Louis should have rebutted him, should have told him to keep trying, to stick with it, to never give up on his dreams.

But this was Louis’ dream. And he wanted it more than air.

“Okay.”

“Okay?”

“Okay, when do we leave?”

“Really?” Harry sat up and wiped his tears. “You mean it?”

“’Course I mean it. If we hurry we can make it, what, to Russia by morning?”

Harry threw his arms around Louis and squeezed and Louis couldn’t make himself regret giving in.

*
A half hour into their preparations Louis began to have doubts. They’d be flying for endless days with no food, no water, and no shelter, and even if they packed things to solve those problems, the amount of supplies needed to reach a North American city would be too heavy for Harry to lift.

“H, you realize you’ll have to sleep and eat shifted, and that means hefty amounts of food. I mean I can sleep in these temperatures, but you’ll die if you shift back and we don’t have a place to stay. This might not work.”

“Don’t worry about that, Lou, just make sure you pack some clothes for me. I’ll show you how to put my harness on in a sec, I left it outside when I came.”

Harry wouldn’t be dissuaded.

A few minutes later Louis and Harry stood in the snow, Louis wearing a large pack on his back, Harry butt naked. “Slip this under my chest and cinch it here, okay? And this goes, um, on the other end. Cinch it here. And you should put my halter on just so you have something to hang on to besides my neck, but please for the love of Santa Lou, don’t pull on it.”

Louis felt himself break into a taunting grin. “Not even a little?”

“I’ll dump you off in the Atlantic,” Harry teased back, his dimples showing.

Harry’s edges began to blur and hands turned to hooves, skin to fur. When he’d settled, Louis began attaching his halter and harness. Careful to follow Harry’s directions, he buckled the thick leather under his chest, then began to do the same by his hips, which involved a good deal of avoiding Harry’s naked reindeer parts. Louis tried not to look, he really did, but Harry’s Cervidae dick stuck out rather prominently.

“Okay, does that feel snug?” Louis asked, patting Harry’s flank. His friend nodded, antlers bobbing. “Alright then, I’m gonna climb on. Try not to giggle and buck me off, alright?”

Harry stomped his hoof. Louis had ridden him for years, but the very first time, when they were ten and twelve, Harry’d bucked him off in a fit of laughter over Louis’ pitiful mounting skills.

Harry remained perfectly still this time. When Louis got situated he patted Harry’s neck. “Ready when you are, H.”

Harry pushed his head down, antlers first, and took off at a run. He picked up more speed gradually, and just as his hooves began to sound all at once, clacking like four identical maracas, he lifted into the air.

One, two, three stories up and soon Christmas Town glittered a mile below them. Harry’s legs moved, but he seemed more to ride the air currents than fight against them. The wind whistled past their ears and Louis thanked his lucky stars he’d worn a tying hat. Even with his hot blood, as they swept up past the clouds and into the starry expanse of night, Louis could feel a gripping chill squeeze his whole body, as if oceans of water had folded in around him.

“You doing okay, Harry?” Louis yelled, the wind ripping his voice backwards.

Harry yet out a yowl, which Louis assumed meant yes.

Every so often Harry would find a strong wind stream and follow it and they would be whipped along and plunged down as if from the crest of a giant roller coaster. Then, as their speed became impossibly fast, the stars would blink, and the night sky would rearrange around them. This happened time and time again, until finally, as rays of dawn began to paint the horizon, Harry started his descent.

They passed through several clouds and Louis opened his mouth to taste the congealed mist, the cold dampness sticking to his face like dew and dampening his fringe against his forehead. The air felt warm, too warm for Siberia, and soon Louis could make out buildings outlined against the horizon. Amidst these Harry slowed, his hooves catching on invisible footholds and lowering them gradually from the sky.

Between the countless skyscrapers lay a rectangular strip of grass. Harry aimed for this and landed with a clatter on a large boulder that stood some fifteen feet off the ground.

“Brilliant job, Harry,” Louis praised, sliding off his friend and coming around to stroke Harry’s muzzle. “Do you know where we are? I’ve never seen any place like this on a map of Russia,” Louis mused, glancing at their surroundings. They seemed to be in a groomed garden; plots of bare tress lay surrounded by cut grass and beds of dead flowers. Frost lay across the grass, but no snow covered the earth. Louis had never seen naked ground before.

Harry nosed at him, shaking his antlers.

“Right, gear off. Working on it.” Louis carefully unbuckled Harry’s tac, noting the creased, damp sweat marks left in his fur. Some of these he rubbed out with his glove, hopeful that they hadn’t caused too much discomfort. When he finished, Harry wasted no time in shimmering out of his hide. Louis fumbled around in the backpack for Harry’s clothes as his friend crouched naked next to him, waiting patiently, his hands over his crotch.

“You stuck them on the bottom, didn’t you.”

“Did not. They must have slid down or something. Here, here you go.”

“Just admit it, you wanted a good view of my arse,” Harry teased, presenting his bare bum to Louis as he tugged on his underwear.

“I—I did not,” Louis protested, rendered utterly breathless by the way Harry’s dirty, fleshy rear jiggled like a half-set Christmas pudding.

Harry finished dressing as Louis stuffed Harry’s tac, as well as it could be stuffed, into the pack.

“So. Where are we?” He repeated.

“Guess.” Harry looked exhausted, but peachy proud. He stuck his chest out and bit his lip.

“Er, not Russia?”

“No.”

“Norway?”

Harry frowned. “No. Not Norway.”

“Greenland then.”

Harry shook his head once more.

“Northern Canada? Alaska? Harry. We can’t be anywhere else, we were only flying for eight hours, you can’t go that fast.”

“New York, Louis. We’re in New York.” Harry positively shone.

Louis gawked at him, his brow furrowing as he tried to make the calculations. “Impossible.” He took in the skyline, and, sure enough. “No fucking way.”

Instead of elated ecstasy, Louis became insanely worried. How the fucking Beard of Claus?

“Harry this is not possible. How are we here?”

“I, um,” Harry bit his lower lip, pulling on the coat Louis had packed for him. “I jumped.”

“Please, for the love of my blood pressure, tell me you didn’t steal Kris’ Astrometer.”

“No. I’ve never needed that to jump, Lou.”

Louis felt as if he’d just learned how babies were made: astonishment mixed with horror seasoned with a touch of wonder. Louis sat down on the boulder, his head spinning.

“Harry. Are you telling me that you can find wormholes by yourself?”

Louis had asked Harry once why airplanes, for instance, never accidentally found the shortcuts. Apparently one had to be following the wind patterns, as the portals usually appeared at the juncture of two air fronts. They typically presented as tiny swirls of light no larger than a dime, and for this reason, even Kris considered jumping without the Astrometer nothing short of impossible.

“You can’t tell anyone, I’m enough of a freak as it is.” Harry hung his head for a moment, then brightened. “But I got you to New York. You’re here, Lou.”

Louis made the decision then and there to not dwell on Harry’s extraordinary—if highly weird—talent and instead be thankful for his friend’s precious gift. He bounced up and down, jittery with excitement. “We’re in New York? New York, New York!”

Louis flung his arms around Harry and the taller boy relaxed into his hold, giving Louis most of his weight.

“Look at you, you’re exhausted. Let’s find a place to crash, a hotel or something, ‘kay? You talented lead flyer,” Louis didn’t think before he pressed a kiss to Harry’s temple.

“What was that for?” Harry’s tired eyes went wide.

“For being my partner in crime,” Louis whispered. The sun had just begun to peep over the edge of the buildings and the frost-covered grass glittered like fields of tiny sequins. A jogger passed by them on a path below, oblivious to their presence, but both Louis and Harry jumped. They’d never seen a human before.

Louis took his best friend’s hand. “Come on Harry, we’ve got a whole world to see.”

*

They exited Central Park, for that’s where they’d landed, on the southernmost edge. Louis guided them inside the first hotel he saw, Park Lane, and marched right up to the front desk, the both of them looking as if they’d come from another universe. The attendant fixated on the dirt caking Harry’s skin and hair and Louis’ face and clothes.

Her qualms disappeared when Louis handed her the pass card he carried specifically for dealing with human institutions. Zayn claimed the thing amounted to a limitless credit card, but Louis assumed it did something more, perhaps provided cover for their identities, for whenever he’d used it over the phone to purchase supplies or manuscripts, the cashier would always address him with an air of reverence. Honestly, Louis neither knew nor cared.

Their hotel room exuded luxuriousness from its curtained windows to its large, king-sized bed that looked made from cotton candy. Harry took a flying leap and landed in its center, causing little airwaves to ripple through the quilt.

“Mmm, it’s squishy,” he said, cuddling into the fabric.

“Want a shower first, or just to sleep?”

“I guess I am gross. But it won’t be a nice shower without the groomers.”

Louis stopped unpacking. “Come again?”

“After a long flight the groomers always rub us down. Obviously—“ Harry yawned, “No groomers here, but I don’t usually shift back til they’ve cleaned me up and worked out all the knots. Ouch.” Harry flinched as he wiggled into a seated position.

Louis had many options in terms of replies, and of course he chose the worst one. Commiserative silence would have been his best choice, but alas. “Do you want me to, uh, do that? I wouldn’t mind. If you’ll sleep better and all.”

Harry blinked at him, his face starting to flush. “I… I couldn’t shift back in this tiny bathroom.”

“Stay human then. I’m not awful at massages.”

Harry twiddled his fingers. “You’re sure?”

“Sure I don’t mind or sure I’m not awful at massages?” Louis gathered his courage and pasted on a cocky smirk. “Hurry up, Harry, the sooner you sleep the sooner we can explore.”

Harry complied and began peeling off his clothes as he walked to their bathroom. The suit had a lovely, if small, walk in shower. Harry turned the water to hot, letting steam begin to pour off in clouds before he stepped inside.

“I’ll, um, I can wash up myself. The dirt can get kinda caked in my fur.”

Louis closed the bathroom door to retain the heat, though the room already felt hot to him.

“But the groomers usually scrub you down?”

“I mean… usually.”

“Give me that,” Louis snatched the luffa from Harry’s hand and sudzed it up as he pulled back the shower curtain for access. “It’s the least I can do after you jumped through what, ten worm holes to get here?” Louis started on Harry’s upper back, rubbing in circles against his soft skin.

“Twenty-one,” Harry corrected him, the brag obvious in his tone.

“Right, right. Twenty-one.” Louis smiled to himself as he worked on Harry’s right arm, then his left. With his arms done Harry set about shampooing his hair. Louis’ clothes were getting quite soaked; Harry had a talent for getting suds everywhere. The dirt had worked stubbornly into Harry’s skin, and Louis soon realized why the reindeer never cleaned themselves; it took all his arm strength just to budge the grime. He finished Harry’s back and turned him, careful to keep his eyes upwards. After scrubbing across Harry’s pecs and abs he turned him again. He’d put off doing anything around Harry’s hips, but the dilemma now faced him of either confronting this area or skipping to Harry’s legs.

“S’just skin, Lou. You don’t have to worry. You also… you don’t have to.”

“Hmm? Don’t be silly, I don’t care.” Louis found it easier to lie with Harry’s back to him. After slathering the luffa with more soap, hopeful its suds would provide a layer of modesty, Louis started on Harry’s bum. His friend’s arse buffed up splendidly, turning a plump pink as Louis scoured it. He hesitated only a moment before sliding the luffa down Harry’s crease and rubbing gently. Perhaps he imagined that Harry bucked back into him.

“Turn,” Louis instructed, his voice much more shaky than he’d intended. He started at Harry’s happy trail and worked down, realizing with mortification that he’d have to use his other hand to lift things as he cleaned. To keep from dying or melting or dissolving into the ether, Louis held his breath. He scooped Harry’s sack into his fingers and scrubbed under his balls and in the crease of his thighs. Carefully he lifted Harry’s soft dick and cleaned between the two, shocked at the amount of dirt that washed away with the water.

“That’s why I never shift after a long flight ‘til they’ve groomed me,” Harry offered, his voice tight. “Get’s quite grungy down there.”

“I—It does,” Louis managed to squeak out, his air reserves nearly failing him. As gently as he could he washed Harry’s flaccid penis. At first he tried not to look, but his eye soon caught on a ring of brown under Harry’s foreskin. Louis had read enough books about equine care to know that the shaft needed to be cleaned manually, but he’d never considered…

No sense postponing the inevitable. With trembling fingers Louis washed the loose skin, rolling it forwards and back until Harry’s cockhead shone pink and clean. Louis had just begun to congratulate himself on survival when Harry chubbed up in his hands.

“Sorry,” Harry mumbled, “Happens sometimes.”

Louis couldn’t answer, though he tried to nod reassuringly. He continued cleaning as best he could with Harry’s dick hardening more every moment. Harry would soon have a full on woody and sure, Louis had seen as much before, probably worse, but he’d never exactly been touching Harry when it happened. He’d never been the cause of such a display. He wanted to be the cause, but not like this, not as a caregiver eliciting an entirely normal reaction via manual stimulation. Harry wasn’t hard for him, simply because of him. But before Louis could move on to Harry’s legs and feet, a blurb of cum slipped from Harry’s swollen slit and onto Louis’ fingers.

“Fuck.” Harry immediately covered his cock and hung his head. “Sorry, Lou.”

“Don’t be, I understand.” Louis concentrated on Harry’s lower body. By the time he’d finished his own clothes were soaked through and his nerves frayed. And Harry still held his groin, harder than ever.

“Good as new,” Louis said has he positioned Harry under the shower stream and helped him rinse. “Which muscles have, er, knots?”

Harry actually groaned. “Forget that.”

“Oh.” Louis didn’t really wish for more torture, but contrarily he still ached to touch Harry’s skin. “Not up to your grooming standards then, am I?” Louis teased, pinching Harry’s hip as he shut off the water and grabbed for a towel.

“Um.” As the steam dissipated Louis could see Harry’s cheeks turning bright pink. “You’re great, Lou. Maybe a little too great. No one’s ever taken care of me that well.”

“If I’d realized grooming you was an option for my career path, maybe I’d have liked the North Pole a little more.”

Harry had uncovered his hard cock in favor of taking the towel. Unencumbered by its owner’s containment, Harry’s dick took the opportunity to come. It discharged ribbons of white directly onto Louis’ shirt.

“Oh, Claus, oh I’m so, so sorry, I—“ Harry wrapped the towel around himself and started cleaning off his mess with a washcloth.

Louis took the cloth from him and stilled his hand. “Harry. I’ve seen you in rut, remember? Literally have slept next to puddles of your cum. Don’t worry about it.”

Harry still bit his lip in shame. “I promise it doesn’t mean anything, Lou. Honest.”

“I know.” And Louis did know; it broke his heart. “Let’s get you to bed, Harry. You deserve a nice long sleep.”

 

*
Harry slept ‘til sunset, hardly tossing or turning at all in the plush bed. Louis joined him for a few hours, but he got restless around noon and eventually started to pace the room and pour over travel brochures. New York brimmed with things to do, places to go, sights to see, yet even the innocuous Empire State Building reminded him of Harry’s engorged cock. Around two p.m. Louis slipped into the bathroom and relented, treating himself to a hot shower and a good long wank. He felt considerably better when he emerged. By the time Harry awoke he’d assembled a rough plan of action.

“MOMA’s quite close, but so is Times Square. We could just start out with both, see how long it takes, s’not like we have a time limit here.” Louis presented Harry with the list he’d made up.

“Let’s go see your painting first,” Harry yawned, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

“Perfect.”

They dressed and exited the hotel. Though Louis had resolved not to touch Harry if at all possible, his best friend’s clumsiness had other ideas. Harry tripped over two uneven sidewalks so Louis took his hand, holding it firmly in his warm grip. Harry’s gait immediately eased and the tension left his shoulders as they wove through the crowds.

They’d barely reached the southeastern-most corner of Central Park when Harry sniffed and freed his hand from Louis to swipe at his eyes.

“H?” Louis asked, concern welling in his chest. “What on earth’s wrong?”

Harry bit his trembling lip and pointed. “The Christmas lights, Lou.”

All around a magnificent fountain were reams of glittering lights in the shape of reindeer.

“Don’t worry, we’ll soon get out of all this holiday stuff.”

“Get out?”

“Ya, this is just the really touristy part of the city, see? This is Fifth Avenue. See the stars over the street? The window displays? Farther down is the Rockefeller tree and that famous ice-skating rink. But we’re going the opposite direction.”

Harry actually gave two hiccups before he covered his face with his hands.

“Harry?” Louis pulled him against the nearest building, out of the vein of walking traffic. “Tell me what’s going on, please.”

“Nothing, I’m stupid. Just… ignore me.”

“We both know that’s not going to happen. Spill.”

Harry sniffed away another sob attack. “It’s just so beautiful. I used to imagine human Christmas would be like this, but it really is. And I’m only seeing it now that I’ll never be a part of its magic ever again.”

“Darling,” Louis soothed, pulling Harry into a tight hug. He knew that to the passing human eyes they looked odd, two young men holding each other on Fifth Avenue, but Louis didn’t much care. In that same moment of defiance he made up his mind about something else as well.

“Come on, we’re going this way.”

“But Lou…”

“You’re going to be part of the magic right now, here, with the humans.”

Harry pulled away as a soft smile crept to his lips. “But you hate Christmas, Lou. You don’t want to see any of that shit.”

“Who told you that? An elf that hates Christmas? Nonsense.” Louis poked his best friend’s dimple. “Besides, Van Gogh’s not going anywhere.”

Harry beamed as Louis once again took his hand. As they walked, Harry seemed to rather enjoy being held by Louis, as it left him free to tilt his head back and gawk up at the skyscrapers instead of the concrete. They stopped in front of every decorated storefront and window scene, Harry tugging on Louis’ sleeve excitedly whenever they saw themselves depicted in a display.

“Is that a chocolate shop?” Harry gurgled in excitement, pointing to a little store filled with tons of brightly wrapped round candies.

They went in, trying multiple free samples as they worked their way around the shelves. Harry found a chocolate bust of a reindeer and nearly squealed with happiness when he saw the candy had a white chocolate harness exactly like his own.

Louis bought this for him, endeared by Harry’s enchantment. They continued down Fifth Avenue, stopping to gawk at the large Christmas stars that hung suspended over the street. Tiffany’s, though, blew away the street décor; it had no rival. The building’s outside was gilded with glittering lights that only hinted at the scene within. As soon as they stepped through the revolving doors, tall, masterfully decorated trees towered above them, reflecting in mirror-lined walls and morphing into a Christmas forest. Harry spun in place, his eyes all sparkles.

“Could you ever have imagined, Lou? They decorate better than Mrs. Kringle!”

“It’s a statement, that’s for sure.” Louis’ heart heaved pitifully as he watched Harry peer into case after case of expensive jewelry garlanded in holly berries. It thrilled his heart to see Harry’s tears replaced by the lights of shimmering jewels.

“Look at this one, Lou,” Harry whispered, pointing to a thin gold chain from which hung three sparkling diamonds. Delicate as a spider’s web, the links were nearly too small to be seen by the human eye.

“Is that your favorite, H? Of all the things here?”

“Mmmhmm. Gemma would say it’s too fragile for me, I’d just break it or something. But it’s so perfect, don’t you think?”

Louis motioned a salesperson over.

“We’ll take that,” he said, pointing to the necklace. Harry startled and stared at Louis with wide eyes; the salesperson did likewise.

The poor Tiffany’s worker blinked. “Would you like me to quote you the price, sir?”

“Not necessary. We’ll just take it. Here.” Louis pulled out his pass card. The salesperson hurried off to a computer.

“We can’t… can we?” Harry asked sheepishly.

“I don’t see why not. You know their money’s just illusionary anyways, it’s not like the diamonds actually cost the sticker price.” Louis shifted to his other foot. “Besides. I haven’t gotten you a Christmas present yet.”

Harry blushed as the salesperson returned white-faced, flabbergasted into panic. “I will have your purchase ready in a minute, sir. Would you like it gift-wrapped?”

Louis almost said no, but then remembered Harry’s fondness for bows. He leaned towards the salesperson and lowered his voice. “Actually, yes. Use the most festive wrapping paper, ribbons and everything.”

“Very well, sir.”

Harry cradled the box against his chest as they left Tiffany’s and continued down the Avenue towards the Rockefeller tree. Here they stopped for several hours, buying hot chocolate and treats from a coffee shop as the tourists thinned and midnight fell. They plunked down on a bench to admire the many-colored lights gently blowing in the breeze; Harry soon hunkered to Louis’ side, laying his head to Louis shoulder.

“I’ve never seen anything so pretty, Lou.”

Perhaps he’d have agreed, but looking at the contented smile on Harry’s face, Louis didn’t trust his ability to lie. They cat napped together for several hours, Louis’ warmth warding against the freezing temperatures. Around six a.m. the plaza began once more buzzing with people and Louis suggested they get coffees and food.

“I have an idea,” Louis said, speaking over a mouthful of breakfast burrito, “For today.”

“Ya?” Harry’s tears had been all but forgotten.

“It’s a bit of a walk, but if I remember the map correctly, it’s down this way.”

Harry linked their arms and giggled. “I’m game, surprise me.”

When they stopped in front of the building Harry turned to Louis in confusion.

“Look at the street sign,” Louis hinted. All at once, Harry made the connections.

“MACY’S? On 34th Street? Where they made the movie? Oh Lou!” He threw his arms around the elf and picked him up right there on the sidewalk.

Louis tried to keep his composure as Harry set him back down. “Want to go inside? See Santa if they’ll let us?”

Harry dimpled terribly. “Really, Lou?”

“Come on.” Louis held the door open for him and they stepped inside the most famous department store of them all. Narrow wooden elevators brought them up eight floors until they reached Santaland, a sprawling display of shimmery fake snow and stuffed toys and sleighs and lights and everything else related to Christmas one could possibly imagine.

“How many children and adults for today?” A smiling lady approached them with a clipboard. “And I’ll need their names for Santa.”

“Oh. Er,” Louis blinked at her, taken aback at the garish red and green clothes she wore, complete with fake ears and a ridiculous candy-cane print hat and striped stockings. Pointy slippers fringed with white fur jingled on her feet, though Louis couldn’t see any bells attached.

“Holy Claus, you’re an elf!” Harry couldn’t contain his laughter.

“I am,” the lady said cautiously, a confused smile on her face.

Louis smacked Harry, none to gently. “Just us, no kids.”

The lady blinked at them. “Oh. I see. And… will you both be visiting with Santa, or…”

“Just, er, Harry, I suppose.”

“Alright, Harry, you’re all set. Be sure to tell Santa what you’d like for Christmas and he’ll put you on his list!” The elf lady kept a smile plastered to her face as she hurried on to the next people in line. Louis appreciated her effort.

“Aren’t you too old to see Santa?”

A little girl had turned around from where she stood in from of them with her mother and little brother.

“Too old for Santa? No one’s ever too old,” Harry replied.

“Are you kidding me? I’m already too old, and I’m only nine. You’re like, fifty.”

“Fifty?” Harry smiled at her. “I’m only twenty. You don’t think Santa cares, do you?”

“Pleeease,” the little girl rolled her eyes. “I know Santa isn’t real. Daddy buys all my gifts and Mommy wraps them. I have to pretend for my little brother, but I’m too grown up for it. And you’re weird.”

Louis glanced at the girl’s mother—who held a fidgety toddler on her hip—just as she let out an exasperated sigh.

“Cynthia, that was rude. Apologize to the young man.”

“Oh that’s okay,” Harry grinned at Cynthia’s mother, “But trust me, Santa is very real. I’ve met him.”

“You offend reason,” Cynthia said, pulling a Disney princess purse from her jacket and taking out a tube of bright red cherry lip-gloss. She applied this liberally. “Only babies think Santa is real, and I’m not a baby.” She smacked her lips together and replaced the makeup.

“Why don’t you believe in Santa Clause?”

Louis noted that they’d moved up the line quite a ways now, past the caroling snowmen and the candy-cane lane.

“Because it’s impossible. No one lives up at the North Pole. It’s just a giant fairy tale.”

“And what if I could prove to you that Santa’s real?” Harry had started to gnaw his lip and a spark had come to his eyes.

“You can’t.”

“But what if I could?”

“You’re crazy.”

An uneasy feeling began to coil in Louis’ stomach and instinctively he reached out and touched Harry’s arm, trying to draw away his attention. It didn’t work. Harry pointed at the large man seated at the end of the line in the nutcracker’s castle. “If he’s the real Santa, he should be able to call in one of his reindeer, right?”

“Sure.”

Louis groaned and tugged frantically at Harry’s shirt.

“So, when you get up there, ask to meet one.”

Cynthia blinked at Harry. “And he’ll bring one of his reindeer to meet me?”

“If he’s the real Santa Claus he will,” Harry nodded, ignoring Louis’ attempts at contact.

“Deal. But he won’t.”

“Just wait and see.”

Cynthia rolled her eyes again but turned back to her perplexed mother, who no doubt felt Harry had done little to help her cause.

“Harry,” Louis pressed close to his ear, “What the fuck are you doing?”

“Making her believe in Christmas again,” Harry said, ducking out of the line before Louis could grab him or protest. With a heavy sigh Louis watched his best friend disappear into the decorations. Cynthia walked up to see Santa three minutes later.

Her mother gave Louis a tight smile as the first words from the child’s mouth were, “If you’re the real Santa, call one of your reindeer.”

“Oh, I’m afraid they’re all taking a nap,” the bearded actor said without missing a beat.

“I knew it,” Cynthia started, but she didn’t finish. From around the corner of Santa’s nutcracker castle appeared a massive, stately reindeer. It trotted right up to where Cynthia sat in Santa’s lap and offered the little girl its silky muzzle. In an instant Cynthia had sprung down and thrown her arms around Harry’s neck, her squeals filling the entirety of Santaland.

“Mommy! It’s a reindeer!” Cynthia screeched, petting at Harry, oblivious to the shocked and statuesque Santa Clause beside her. Cynthia’s mother, to her credit, didn’t entirely freak out. She approached Harry slowly, her toddler still on her hip.

“Does that thing have a rope? Is it loose?” She asked, addressing St. Nick.

“I’m—I’m not entirely…” Santa stood from his seat and tried to innocuously motion over his elves.

Louis knew he had to do something. He pulled off his beanie and slipped it and their jackets to the floor, thanking several lucky stars he’d worn a red shirt.

“He’s—yes, he’s quite tame, nothing to worry about. Part of the experience here at Santaland.” He came to Harry’s side and grabbed an antler; this seemed to calm the mother’s worry.

“Do you pull Santa’s sleigh?” Cynthia asked, her face still beaming. Harry nodded, his antlers bobbing. The waiting crowd gasped and in an instant cell phones started flashing and people began jostling for better positions.

Two confused looking elves, one of them the blonde lady, hurried up from the back of the line. The dings of social media posts rang in Louis’ ears as a cluster of uniformed store employees hurried down the decorated walkway.

“Do you work here, then?” Cynthia’s mother asked Louis, her face wrinkled in confusion.

“Yep, yes, yes I do. I’m an elf.”

A strange thing happened then. Cynthia’s mother began to pet Harry too, a smile coming to her face. Cynthia started giggling and soon a chorus of whining children could be heard begging their parents for a turn. The uniformed employees didn’t know what to make of the scene, eyeing Harry up and down, looking more confused than upset.

“What’s his name?” Cynthia’s mom asked, and Louis noted that the toddler had finally stilled in her arms.

“Um, er, uh…” Louis couldn’t very well say ‘Harry.’ “Rudolph.”

“He’s a lovely animal… Say thank you, Cynthia, to the nice elf.”

“Thank you. Be safe delivering all the gifts, Rudolph, and don’t forget me.” Cynthia kissed Harry’s nose, pressing her lips to his velvety muzzle. When she pulled away a red lip-gloss stain remained, standing out starkly against Harry’s white fur.

“Mommy!” Cried the next little boy in line, who had forgotten all about Santa. “It’s got a red nose!”

Louis had little choice but to greet child after child, and their eager parents, as they came up to meet Harry. The Macy’s employees shrugged and eventually left. Pictures were taken, kisses were given, people were delighted. If a child asked Harry to do something, he would, leading nearly every parent to tell Louis how impressively he’d trained the animal. It only took a half hour for one little boy to ask for a ride.

Thus, for the rest of the day, Harry trotted five paces for each child, Louis holding them carefully atop his back as their parents took pictures and reveled in the magic of Harry’s presence. Every kid left happier than they’d arrived, utterly enchanted and blissful. Halfway through the afternoon the blonde elf lady brought Louis a spare candy-cane hat and pointed slippers, commenting softly in to his ear, “I covered for you. Said we’d hired you today. Might as well look the part, right? I’ve never seen the kids this well behaved.”

Louis slipped on the garb because, eh, why not? When the last child had dismounted from Harry’s back and Santaland closed its doors, Louis scratched his friend’s ear fondly.

“Well that happened. I hope you’re pleased with yourself, H.”

Harry huffed and stamped a hoof.

“Can I, um…” the blonde lady elf pulled off her hat and took her hair down. “Who are you?”

Louis tried to come up with a decent sounding lie. “We… actually were coming here to see if you’d hire us. For this. I happen to have this, er, reindeer, and um, we thought, why not.”

“Didn’t you stand in line with another boy, though?”

Louis licked his lips. “No? Just me.”

“But...” The lady studied his face a moment before extending her hand. “I’m Bebe.”

“Louis,” Louis said, swallowing in relief. “And this is—“

“Rudolph. I heard. He’s a very pretty animal, I’ve never seen a deer with green eyes before.”

Harry gave his best attempt at a reindeer smile and nosed into Bebe’s arm, giving her wrist a slobbery kiss.

“Oh! He licks.”

“Apparently so.” Louis cleared his throat. “He’s fond of compliments.”

“As he should be. Look at those ears, they’re adorable! What a sweetheart. How old is he?”

“Um.” Louis couldn’t say twenty. “He’s… four.” Harry snorted at him, waggling his antlers.

Bebe looked from Louis to Harry, her mouth slightly open. “Do you want to come back tomorrow? You’ve been blowing up on social media, you know. Every kid in New York wants to meet Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer.”

Harry turned his antlered head to Louis, his eyes clearly pleading. “I suppose we’ll be back, ya,” Louis confirmed. Bebe clapped her hands together excitedly.

“Now, here’s an extra elf costume, please put on the whole thing for tomorrow. And maybe can we find some jingle bells to put around Rudolph’s neck? That would really make it. Oh! And try to do a little better about your ears, they’re okay but they could use a bit of work.” Bebe smiled at him and waved as she walked off. “I’ll have Oliver show you out the staff entrance, I think that door will fit his antlers better!”

Louis fumed for a moment as Harry yowled in laughter.

“They could use a bit of work, could they?”

Harry nudged his snout to Louis’ crotch.

“Don’t you numb nuts me you menace, you’re on this ice as it is.”

Oliver, who looked quite taken aback at his latest job assignment, led them out the staff door. Fortunately Louis had managed to find Harry’s discarded clothes, and these he carried along with their jackets and the Tiffany’s package to Central Park where Harry dipped behind a boulder and shifted back. No one suspected, as they entered the hotel together, than moments before Harry had been Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

*
Of all the adorable things Louis had seen Harry do over the course of their long friendship, his frenzied excitement that night bested them all. Harry could barely contain his happiness, chattering on and on, even through dinner, about the countless children who’d sat on his back, about the wonder in their eyes, their shrieks of happiness. Louis swallowed down his food, hardly tasting a mouthful, his heart swollen to twice its normal size as he watched his best friend, his only love, waffle on and on about how many kids they’d see the next day, how many more people would get a little boost of Christmas Spirit.

It wasn’t any wonder that Louis hardly slept a wink. Harry snored soundly all night, only moving to sidle his back end up to Louis’ warmth, and Louis let him. He’d give anything, anything on the whole planet, to see Harry so full of joy.

*

Bebe stood waiting for them by the staff entrance when they arrived at Macy’s the next morning.

“Louis, you’ll never believe this. We have twice the number of reservations since yesterday! There’s a line through the whole store!”

“There is?” Louis patted Harry’s rump to enter the door first. Harry complied, chomping in disgruntlement on the reigns Louis had insisted on using (“For fuck’s sake, Harry, no one expects a reindeer to be entirely loose!”).

“Do you think I could take him?” Bebe asked excitedly, offering her palm and making kissy noises at Harry.

“Sure.” Louis handed over the reigns. “He doesn’t like to be tugged too hard, though.”

Bebe scratched at Harry’s ears. “Of course not, I wouldn’t want that awful thing around my nose either. Come on pretty boy, follow me.”

Harry followed her, tossing his antlers in what Louis recognized as blatant bravado. A small pang of jealously tugged at Louis’ stomach but he ignored it as he followed after his best friend and the blonde elf.

Reams of children came through Santaland, each more excited to see Rudolph than Santa. So many kids sat on Harry’s back and bounced their legs on his flanks and tugged at his ears that Louis began to worry about Harry’s comfort. But Harry exhibited endless energy, shaking his head and stomping his hooves at the children’s questions, dazzling parents and elves and Macy’s staff alike with his gentle nose-kisses and sweet disposition.

Around eleven in the morning Bebe asked Louis if he’d remembered to bring lunch. Louis hadn’t, hadn’t even thought of it. More so, he’d not thought that Harry would need to eat whilst shifted.

“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of everything,” Bebe said, patting Louis’ shoulder and trailing a hand down Harry’s side. Harry turned his head halfway and blinked, his ears twitching. Louis pretended not to see.

True to her word, when Santaland’s lunch break came, Bebe had a sub sandwich waiting for Louis. For Harry, she’d somehow managed to find a cache of sweet lettuces and long stemmed, raw mushrooms, complete with about a dozen fresh carrots.

“He can eat all this, right? Google says reindeer especially like carrots.” Bebe looked quite proud of herself.

“That’s… right, yes,” Louis stuttered, a bit stunned at Bebe’s thoroughness. Harry, however, gave a soft nip to Bebe’s tunic fringe, tugging for her attention. Once she’d turned to him he closed his eyes and nuzzled into her chest.

“Sweetheart! You’re so precious. Here, would you like a carrot?” Bebe held one of the veggies flat on her palm at presented it to Harry. He took it and chomped away, his stub of a reindeer tale wagging with happiness.

“You’ve made a friend, Bebe. Carrots are his favorite, besides pears.”

“Pears, huh? I’ll have one of those for you tomorrow, pretty boy.”

True to her word, the next day Bebe had pears. In fact, every elf in Santaland suddenly began showing up with pears, apples, carrots, and mushrooms. They’d slip away from their various duties throughout the day to give Harry treats, and, though Harry indulged them, just as he did the children, he lit up like one of the fake Macy’s Christmas trees when Bebe stopped to fawn over him.

Yet every night, Harry curled into Louis and expected to be held ‘round the waist. Every morning Harry rolled over, sleepy-eyed and puffy lipped, and asked Louis if he’d slept okay.

*

Each day that week, after a quick breakfast in the hotel dining hall, Louis and Harry would set off for Macy’s and the ever-growing line of hopeful, eager children.

Louis got used to hearing variations of the same thing from the kids’ parents.

“You and that reindeer make me believe again.”

“I haven’t looked forward to Christmas so much since I was a child!”

“There’s something about the two of you, it’s like I’ve met you before.”

“That animal is something else. Has a certain charm to him, a bit of magic.”

They weren’t wrong. In Macy’s’ entire history of successful marketing campaigns, they had never seen a boon like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Just when Louis thought the crowds couldn’t get any bigger, they doubled. Just when the media exposure seemed wall to wall, Oprah tweeted about them. They became a nationwide phenomenon, then a worldwide trending topic on twitter. Questions were asked, of course, but by and large people just didn’t care. They wanted to believe in something. Louis realized that the adults wanted Christmas magic, perhaps even more than the children. He’d never understood Kris’ lectures on the necessity for belief in the social fabric of human kind, the need for a mythos to tie humanity together; Louis had always thought it a rather simple and inelegant solution to larger problems. But as he watched the hoards of humanity filing through Macy’s Department Store, he finally began to understand. In his slightly jealous, Christmas-despising, aching heart, he realized that Kris had been right.

On the night of December 19th, at the end of yet another busy day of pictures and ridiculous elf costumes, Harry called Louis into the bathroom post shower. They’d decided to get a fancy dinner somewhere in celebration of Harry’s making the cover of the New York Times: “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: How the newest installment at Macy’s Santaland will make you believe.”

“Can you fasten it, Lou?” Harry asked, holding the diamond necklace up to his throat, a fluffy towel tucked around his waist.

“Mmm.” Louis gathered Harry’s mass of curls and tucked them over one shoulder before taking the delicate chain from Harry’s fingers and clipping it closed.

“How does it look?” Harry asked, repositioning his hair and turning to face Louis.

And fuck. What an unfair question, because Harry looked like a dream standing there, beads of warm water on his cool skin, only a bit of fabric around his hips, the fragile necklace sloping along his collar bones to rest against his ribcage where the three little diamonds glimmered just like his green eyes.

“G-good,” Louis stuttered, his face growing abnormally hot.

“Really? Or… just good.”

Louis hadn’t meant to meet Harry’s eyes, but when he did he saw something like apprehension there, and the witty retort he’d worked up no longer seemed right.

“You’re beautiful, Harry. Stunning, really.” For once Louis let the sincerity seep into his voice unobstructed.

To Louis’ surprise, tears filled Harry’s eyes and he quickly sniffed and turned away. “I should finish getting dressed,” he mumbled.

Louis took his cue to leave, closing the bathroom door behind him as he did, wishing, for once, that Harry’s stupid Christmas magic would work for him.

Later, as they sat eating a very expensive and meatless dinner (per Harry’s wishes), Harry brought up what had been bothering him earlier.

“Lou? You’re bored of this, aren’t you.”

Louis stabbed a mushroom. “I’m really not, H.”

“But every day you seem… you seem distant. And I don’t want you to resent Christmas more than you already do. To resent me.”

Louis thought he’d been hiding his seeping jealously and heartache over Harry’s growing attachment to Bebe, but perhaps Harry could read him better than he’d imagined.

“I don’t resent anything, Harry. I promise I don’t.”

“So I’m imagining it,” Harry offered, chewing on a bite of sautéed Brussels sprout.

“It’s a lot, that’s all. And I worry about you sometimes; all those kids on your back all day.”

“Oh,” Harry grinned, “Don’t worry about me, Lou! I’m finally good at something. I’ve never been so happy in my whole life. I actually feel useful.”

“I noticed,” Louis smiled weakly at his best friend. “You’re, uh, falling in love too, aren’t you.” Might as well rip the band-aid off.

“What?” Harry blinked across the table at him, his cheeks reddening.

“You like Bebe, don’t you?” Louis tried to keep the sadness from his voice.

“Um. Yah. She’s… really great.”

“She’s sure enamored with you.”

“Yes, because she thinks I’m a reindeer. It’s not like she’s into me into me.”

“Well, we could change that. You just have to see her in human form.” Louis made this suggestion at the protest of his own sickly heart.

“I don’t know, Lou.”

They finished their dinner in silence, the celebratory mood somewhat dampened. The walk back to their hotel was a long one, and for once Harry didn’t take Louis’ arm, perhaps because he didn’t need to; in the past couple weeks Harry had seemed to grow into his limbs, his clumsiness vanishing into a lanky sort of grace. Louis guessed it had more to do with the constant love and adoration he’d been receiving than any physical changes.

Louis had just closed the hotel room door behind them when Harry turned and cleared his throat.

“I wouldn’t know what to do, Lou.”

“Sorry?”

“If I saw Bebe like this. I’ve, um. I’ve never even kissed anyone.”

Louis’ eyebrows rose. “You haven’t? But… Harry, the Team is a veritable fuck bucket. How on earth…”

“They were all fucking each other, not me. No one wanted me.” Harry sat down on the bed. “I know, I’m twenty. I should have done it by now. I haven’t, though, and I’d be scared to try.”

“Nah. You’d be great at it, Harry. You’ve got the charm, and even Christmas Spirit on your side.” Louis came to sit beside him, patting his shoulder reassuringly.

“Lou?” Harry licked his lips and blinked three times. “Would you practice with me? Would you kiss me?”

Louis’ breath froze in his lungs. All he’d ever wanted, all he’d ever dreamed of, reduced to an exercise. Touching Harry to clean him, kissing Harry to prepare him for kissing another. But Louis would give his best friend anything, anything, so he nodded, his heart a broken tangle.

“C’mere,” he whispered, and took Harry’s face in his hands.

Harry felt cool beneath his lips and tasted of sweet spice and orange.

“Start out like this,” Louis whispered, running his fingers over Harry’s cheekbones, “Just tugging apart her lips.” He caught Harry’s soft mouth with his and licked out with his tongue. “Then like this.”

Louis moved his tongue slowly along the part of Harry’s lips, only slipping inside when Harry opened for him. He met Harry’s tongue and tasted, trying to lock the memory of such sweet nectar in his mind forever.

Harry caught on quickly. Louis felt himself being swept away, carried into a state of blissful dreams; Harry had snaked his arms ‘round Louis’ waist and tugged him closer and oh, how wonderful it felt to be clasped against Harry’s chest.

But then Harry moaned, breaking Louis from his spell.

“That’s… how you do it,” Louis breathed, trying to pull away, but Harry still held him tight.

“Show me more,” Harry begged, finding Louis’ lips again, “Show me how you do everything.”

As gently as he could, Louis pushed Harry away. “Please.” Louis felt his soul slowly crumbling, a Christmas cookie having soaked too long in the milk of Harry’s mouth. “Don’t ask me for that.”

“Oh.” Harry released him, his lip starting to quiver. “Oh. Right. Sorry, Lou.”

Harry rolled to his side of the bed and buried his face in a pillow, not saying another word.

“I’m sorry, Harry, I just—I can’t.”

Harry sniffed. “I know. I know I’m disgusting to you, and it’s fine. I’m disgusting to everybody. I’m a clumsy, worthless mess.”

“Harry,” Louis scrambled over to him and turned him on his back, forcing him to look up. “How did you ever get such an awful idea in your head? That’s not what I think at all. How could you even imagine that?”

“Because… because you’ve seen me through everything! My morphing, my ruts, my gross teenage years when I was all spots and clumsiness. How could you not think I’m gross? I’m half animal, for fuck’s sake.”

The depth of Harry’s pain cut Louis harshly. These had been buried sentiments for years, decades, and as close as they were, Harry had never breathed a word of his insecurities before, he’d kept everything inside. No wonder he lacked the confidence to stick landings, to believe in himself; no wonder he’d never kissed anyone. Louis had failed as a best friend.

“Shhh, you’re so, so wrong, Harry. Fuck, you’re so wrong.” Louis bent and kissed him again, smoothing his hair from his forehead. “I’ve never thought any of that, I promise you, I swear.”

Tears started leaking from Harry’s eyes. “Really?”

“Of course, H. Claus, how long have you let this hurt you?”

“A really long time.” Harry clutched Louis to him.

“Oh Harry.” Louis resigned himself to a frayed, crumpled heart. “I just didn’t want to spoil things, when you do find someone you want,” he lied, and the lie came easily. “Of course I’ll show you more. Anything you want.”

“You will?”

“Here,” Louis pulled off his own shirt. “Start like this. Be the first one to be vulnerable. Then ask her if you can take her shirt off, too.” Louis raised his eyebrows at Harry, and he nodded. Louis unbuttoned his friend’s blouse and slipped it from his arms.

“Go back to kissing next,” Louis breathed heavily, dipping once more to Harry’s lips. “Kiss her, and if she wants, she’ll maybe guide your hands to her chest.” Louis had no sooner uttered the words than Harry took Louis’ palms and placed them over his breasts.

“Does it feel good? To touch her chest?” Harry asked, his voice soft and high.

“Ya. I imagine it does.” Louis drew his fingers over Harry’s nipples, his pulse thudding when he felt them grow hard.

“Do I stop there, then?”

“It… depends really, on what she wants. If she wants you to touch her anywhere else. You’ll have to ask her.”

“Yes,” Harry blurted, “She says yes. What then?”

“Er,” Louis tried to calm his breathing, “Then you undo her pants, I suppose.” He unbuttoned Harry’s jeans and pulled down their zipper. As he parted the fabric he found Harry hard in his boxers.

“What then?”

“If… if she wants, you can take off her panties.”

“Yes, please, take them off.”

Louis rolled Harry’s jeans down his thighs first, then his boxers, revealing the extent of his arousal. Louis’ mouth went dry. All he’d ever wanted

“Should I touch her, then?” Harry asked, his cock twitching with the vibration of his words.

“Ya. Touch her. Be gentle, but I’ve heard rubbing in a circle works well.” Louis smoothed his thumb clockwise across Harry’s slit, holding his shaft gently with his other hand.

“How long will it take for her to come?” Harry whispered, his eyes squeezed shut.

“I don’t know, H, I’ve never been with a girl.” Louis squeezed and tugged, petting Harry softly towards completion. Harry arched back on the bed and shivered as Louis watched his balls tighten.

“Kiss her while she comes, okay? That’s the best part, you get to feel their tongue as they tremble through it.” Louis captured Harry’s mouth just as he spouted, and Harry groaned into him, a deep, rich sound that rumbled up from his core.

When Harry stopped emptying and his cock started to go soft in Louis’ hand, the elf pulled away. “That’s how you do more, H. Just like that.”

Louis fell to his side of the bed, blinking up at the ceiling, hard and miserable and utterly deflated.

“Wow.” Harry’s breath came heavy beside him. “You’re amazing.”

“Practice makes perfect, I suppose.” Louis concentrated on making his boner disappear.

“So… I should try that.”

“Yep.” Louis closed his eyes.

“Okay, tell me how I do.” And before Louis could stop him, Harry had climbed atop him and begun to kiss, ruining his attempts at cooling down.

Harry placed his hands over Louis’ nipples and massaged gently, and fuck, Louis had taught him well.

“Can I, Lou?” Harry whispered against his jaw.

“Why not, sure,” Louis groaned, painfully trapped against his zipper. Harry soon freed him, wrapping a hand around his cock and beginning to pull.

“I don’t really know, um, how to do this, Lou... this is just… how I get myself off.”

“You’re doing fine,” Louis assured him, content to feel Harry’s cool palm for the rest of his existence. He didn’t say more as Harry started to go faster, just appreciated the fulfillment of so many dreams.

“Tell me, Lou,” Harry whispered, “When you’re going to come. I want to kiss you too.”

Louis grunted, feeling himself begin to shake. “Now, now, H,” he whimpered, and Harry fell on his lips, hungry, eager.

Harry kissed him through it, nursed him, really, tender and sweet and delicate. When Harry let him go and cuddled to his side Louis opened his eyes. They were both naked, both sticky with their cum.

“I wish every type of practice felt that good,” Harry mused.

Louis didn’t answer, couldn’t answer. The emotions he’d been staving back had caught up with him, and tears would spill out if he opened his mouth for words. Instead he turned into Harry and wove his arms around him, burying his face in Harry’s curls, pretending, just for that night, that Harry’s heart truly belonged to him.

*

“You can touch his antlers, but don’t yank. There you go, just like that.”

Louis held the two-hundredth child that day atop Harry’s back. It was Christmas Eve and the whole charade would be over in a few short hours. Louis bit back the realization that he would miss it.

“Can I kiss Rudolph goodbye?” A little girl asked, no more than four years old.

“Of course, he loves kisses.”

She placed her chubby hands on either side of Harry’s nose and planted a kiss above his fuzzy lips. When she finished she held up her arms to Louis. “Can I kiss you goodbye too?”

Louis blinked in surprise. “Oh, er. I suppose.” He bent down and the small child kissed his cheek.

As the girl waved and walked off with her mother, Harry tilted his head in Louis’ direction.

“Well that was unexpected,” Louis whispered under his breath. Harry blinked twice, raising what Louis considered an eyebrow.

“I’m entitled to affection too, you know, you can’t hoard it all just because you’re the cute one around here.”

Harry snorted and turned his attention to their next visitor.

Santaland closed for the last time at six sharp. Bebe led a round of cheers as the elves all collectively threw their hats in the air and ripped off their fake ears. She had somehow commandeered several bottles of champagne and brought Louis a glass.

“You both were brilliant, I’ve never seen anything like it. You’re the most famous duo in America right now, and do you know how many people have walked out of here in tears, actually believing in the magic of Christmas again?” Bebe toasted Louis and clicked her glass on Harry’s antlers. “What do you two do the rest of the year, hang out on a farm or something?”

“Or something.” Louis gulped down half his drink, because truthfully, he didn’t know the answer.

“Hey!” Bebe swatted playfully at Harry as he tried to dip his tongue into her glass. “Reindeer can’t drink booz, goofball. How would you steer Santa’s sleigh tonight sloshy drunk?”

Louis smiled at Bebe, but Harry didn’t seem to appreciate her joke. He hung his head forlornly and sniffed.

“Is he okay?” Bebe asked, scratching behind Harry’s ears.

“I think he’s a little sad it’s all over. He lives for Christmas time. It was always been his dream to—“ Louis stopped himself just in time.

“To fly with Santa’s sleigh, I know. You’ve told about three thousand kids this story.”

“I have?” Louis swallowed.

“Yes, Louis. Haven’t you been keeping track? There’s an elite team of reindeer that train their whole lives for the opportunity of flying Christmas Eve, and if you make the team, it’s the greatest honor of your life, yada yada yada.”

“I’ve said all that?” Louis felt a blush creeping up his neck.

“I think us elves can repeat back verbatim all the ins and outs of Christmas Town, Louis. Honestly you should write a book, I’ve never heard such a crazy imagination. It’s like you’ve actually been there. Sometimes it sounded like you missed it, like it was home or something.”

Tears came unbidden to Louis’ eyes. “We should head out, I guess.”

“Is this goodbye, then? Will I ever see you guys again? Do you live somewhere in the city or… a farm?” Bebe kissed Harry’s nose and wrapped Louis in a tight hug.

“We move around a lot.”

“That’s not an answer.”

Harry nosed against Bebe’s arm and yowled.

“I bet you’d tell me more if you could talk, Rudolph,” Bebe cooed at Harry as she obligingly pet his nose once more.

“I’m sure he would. He’s not the best at secrets.”

Harry snorted again.

“By the way,” Bebe lowered her voice. “I definitely put two names down when you first came here. I found the sheet of signups yesterday. There was another boy with you, right? He had curly hair, really green eyes.”

Louis licked his lips. “Maybe you hallucinated him,” he offered.

“Don’t think so.” Bebe continued to pet Harry, her hand running absentmindedly over his soft fur. “Let me walk you out one last time.”

Before they could start off, Harry butted into Louis’ thigh and jerked his antlers towards Bebe, stamping one hoof.

“What? You don’t want her to walk us out?” Louis squinted at him, confused. Harry nodded, then started to toss his head to the side as if throwing something from the ground onto his back.

“Oh.” Louis felt his heart crumple. “He—he says if you’d like to ride him, you can.”

“Seriously? Oh my gosh,” Bebe squealed and clapped her hands in glee. “I’ve wanted to for ages but I figured it was silly to ask!”

Without further ado she swung up over Harry’s back and took hold of his antlers. Harry straitened up a little, his eyes terribly bright. Louis fought to maintain a smile.

“Onwards, Rudolph, take me through Christmas Town!” Bebe sing-songed as they headed towards the exit, Harry trotting at a slow pace, seeming determined to make their time in Macy’s magical Christmas extravaganza stretch on forever. Louis wished he didn’t understand why.

“Excuse me! Pardon me, um,” one of the other elves ran up to them, a package held in her hands. “This was under the tree for you, Louis, we don’t know who put it there. But Merry Christmas!”

Louis took the little green box with a nod of thanks. He stuffed it in his jacket pocket as they headed down the freight elevator and exited to the street.

“That was amazing. You’re such a smooth ride, Rudolph, holy shit. The most graceful reindeer of all.”

Harry preened.

“I really will miss you guys. It’s been the most magical Christmas.” Bebe slid off and kissed Harry’s nose again. “Thank you, you beautiful boy.”

Harry had given plenty of licks to thousands of children, but the kiss he gave Bebe looked more human than animal. He stuck out his fuzzy lips and planted a quick peck on her cheek.

“Oh my,” Bebe beamed at him, “Where’d you learn to do that?” She turned to Louis and offered another hug as well. “Stay safe and out of trouble, wherever you go. Oh, and,” Bebe rifled in her pocket, “Here’s my number if you need anything. Just give me a call, and I’m there.”

Louis thanked her with a tight smile and moments later he and Harry were alone, heading to the side alley where Harry had started shifting before their long walks back to the hotel.

Their little alcove stood empty so Harry shimmered back to his human skin and quickly pulled on his clothes as Louis stood watch. When he’d finished dressing Louis turned to him.

“You’ll miss her, won’t you.”

Harry ducked his head sheepishly. “Guess so.”

“Do you want to stay here?”

“D—don’t you want to? Don’t you want to see the real New York?”

“You know,” Louis tried to hold his shattered heart together, but the pieces kept slipping out in the sharpness of his voice, “I think I’ve had enough of New York for the moment. There’s a lot of world, you know? I want to explore new places, see all the wonders.”

Harry stared at him with wide eyes, his fingers paused halfway through zipping up his jacket. “Oh. Do you, um, want me to go with you?”

“Doesn’t much matter what I want, H. If you’ve found a reason to stay, stay.”

Harry brushed past him, suddenly very stoic. “Let’s get back to the hotel then, I guess you’ll need to pack.”

With a terrible numbness setting in, Louis strode to catch up Harry’s lanky gait. They walked side by side through the thick crowds of last minute Christmas shoppers and sightseers and Louis realized, with a painful stab to his heart, that Harry navigated the bustling sidewalks with ease, no longer thrown by the uneven concrete or jostling bodies.

As they turned down the edge of Central Park Louis made himself stop and do it.

“Here, it’s meant for you, Harry.” He fished in his pocket for Bebe’s number and handed the slip of paper to Harry. The little green box fell out as he did so, though.

Harry slowly took the paper from Louis’ fingers, stalling. “You dropped something,” he said at last.

Louis bent to retrieve the gift and would have stuffed it back in his pocket if not for the writing on the label.

He recognized it.

Worry coursing through him, he ripped off the green wrapping paper and popped the lid. Inside lay a note written in shimmery black ink.

“What is it?” Harry asked, peering over his shoulder.

“It’s from Zayn.” Louis scanned the letter’s contents.

Dear Lou, you and Harry are quite famous now, how about that? You’ve been the talk of the town. I think Kris was hurt at first, but apparently you’ve bolstered the Christmas spirit worldwide, so all’s good. We miss you both, though, especially Niall and Gemma. They’ve been sulking around my kitchen every evening complaining that you’ve never even written, that they have to get news about you through twitter. Anyway. It’s ironic that this year you’ve gotten all these people to believe because, sadly, it doesn’t look like Kris can make the rounds. The Astrometer overheated last week, and prospects don’t look good. Gemma says it’s actually cracked, and won’t hold up a whole night. Last time this happened was, gosh, during the Black Death I think. That’s kind of why I’m writing. I don’t know if you’ll get this, but I had a hard enough time trying to figure out how to contact you. Look, it’s all hands on deck up here. We’re all working ‘round the clock to try and fix this thing, and we could use you. If you wanna come home, we’ll be waiting. Love you, Zayn

Harry sniffed back tears. “All those kids. We promised them, Lou. We said Santa was coming, and now he’s not. They’re gonna be watching for him, and he won’t show.”

Harry broke down right there on the sidewalk, collapsing to Louis’ shoulder with a sob.

“Shhh, don’t cry, Harry.” People started to give them odd stares. “Come on, let’s get inside, walk with me, H.” Harry didn’t seem to have the heart to walk; it took ages to reach their room.

“What about Cynthia? And Romero? Quinn? Damian? Robby…” Harry collapsed on the bed and gave his tears to a pillow. It barely muffled his racket.

Louis rubbed a hand over his face; the solution to the whole fucking problem lay sprawled before him, heartbroken and sobbing. When had Louis started to care about saving Christmas?

“Get up, Harry, come on darling.” Louis pulled him off the bed gently but sternly, mustering his strength for what they had to do. For what Harry had to do.

“W-what?” Harry looked wounded, confused.

“There’s no time to sob, Harry. You can save Christmas. I’ve seen you make those jumps without the Astrometer. You can guide Kris’ sleigh tonight. You can make all those kids’ wishes come true.”

Harry blinked at him. “I couldn’t. I’m too clumsy, last time I tried to pull anything I—“

“Shhhh. You’re not anymore. It was all just nerves anyway, don’t you see? People showered you with love and you gave it back, and it changed you, made you come out of that awful cocoon you’d made for yourself. You were meant to do this, Harry. We have to get back to the North Pole as soon as we can.”

Harry hesitated only a moment before squaring his shoulders and wiping his eyes. “We’ll have to leave from the park, I need a place to run.”

“Right. I’ll pack.”

But Louis didn’t pack right away. First he picked up Bebe’s number from where Harry had dropped it on the bed.

*

“There’s hardly anyone here,” Harry said in wonder, staring around the deserted park. A good five inches of snow had fallen that afternoon, leaving the ground glistening and bright under the winter stars.

“I’ll change, then.” Harry began to unzip his coat.

“Not just yet.” Louis stilled his hand and pointed to where a woman was approaching from an un-shoveled path, her winter boots leaving craters behind her in the snow.

“Louis? What’s going on?” Bebe took one look at Harry and her eyes got big. “I fucking knew there were two of you. Did you drag me all the way out here to meet your illusive friend?”

Louis took a deep breath. “Thing is, you already know him. Bebe, this is Harry. You’ve been calling him Rudolph.”

Bebe stared silently for a moment before beginning to laugh. Harry flushed crimson and looked to the snow.

“You’re a shit, Louis, you really are. This is the dumbest joke anyone has ever played on me. I have friends you know, and family. I was having a lovely Christmas Eve with them.”

“He’s telling the truth,” Harry ventured, still not meeting Bebe’s eyes. “Today, when we left, you whispered in my ear that you wanted a kiss for Christmas. That’s why I kissed you.”

Bebe’s mouth dropped open. She stepped closer and stared into Harry’s eyes.

“Fuck. They’re the same green.” She brought her hand to Harry’s cheek and the other she smoothed through his hair. “It does feel like I’ve met you before. Oh my gosh, am I going insane?”

Louis shook his head. “No, don’t worry. If anyone is insane, it’s us. Harry’s going to save Christmas tonight, he’ll be leading Santa’s sleigh.” Louis paused. “I thought you should know.”

Bebe looked from Harry to him, her expression confused but happy. “Alright, it’s Christmas Eve, I’ll believe it. I think I could believe anything tonight. Go save Christmas, you beautiful boy.”

Bebe leaned in and kissed Harry smack on the lips, her hands pressed to his cheeks. The kiss lasted only a moment, but Louis still closed his eyes. An elf heart could only take so much pain.

“I, um, uh,” Harry stuttered, breathless, when they parted. “I’ll be right back,” he said, running off behind a boulder.

“It’s like he’s never been kissed before,” Bebe giggled, licking her lips. “He tastes like orange spice.”

“Ya, he does,” Louis replied under his breath.

Rudolph emerged moments later and Bebe nearly screamed. She fell to her knees and clung around Harry’s neck, beginning to cry. “Oh my god, oh my god, you’re real. It’s really real.”

Louis slipped on Harry’s harness and halter as Bebe worked through the revelation. When he’d secured his backpack and cinched Harry’s reins, he helped Bebe up and gave her one last hug. She still hadn’t stopped crying.

“Merry Christmas, Bebe, thank you for all you’ve done. Don’t forget us.”

Louis climbed on Harry’s back and patted his flank. With a wave of his antlers, Harry began to run down the snowy slope, picking up speed with each clatter of his hooves, lifting into the air with a swoop of up-current.

As they rose higher and higher, Louis chanced a glace down. He could faintly here Bebe’s voice as she waved to them and yelled up into the heavens,

“I’ll never forget you, I’ll never stop believing! Merry Christmas!”

*
Louis’ heart swelled with pride as they landed in the North Pole a mere twenty minutes later. Harry touched down flawlessly on the hard snow and Louis slid off him, coming ‘round to kiss Harry’s nose.

“You made it in less time than walking to Macy’s, H. I knew you could… I know you can do this.”

They’d landed near the town center so Louis first headed to the Commons, Harry close behind him. As they burst through the doors Harry shifted, grabbing his old blanket and holding it around himself. Louis barged ahead, running at full speed through the door marked ‘equipment.’ As he’d suspected, Kris and the Team were seated haphazardly around a gaggle of elves with odd looking instruments, absorbed in using all their skill to coax the Astrometer back to life.

“Louis?” Kris stood, his prominent belly wobbling. “You’ve come back!” Despite the dire circumstances of the night, Kris embraced him warmly. “We’ve missed you, son.”

Harry crashed through the door seconds later, his blanket billowing.

“And Harry too!”

At this Gemma bounded up and scooped her little brother into a hug. “You famous little arsehole do you know how worried we’ve been? Mom and dad and the whole Team?”

“Look, there’s not time for this. Kris, you can still make the rounds tonight,” Louis hurried out.

Gemma snorted and the Team broke into a chorus of demoralized chuckles.

“I’m afraid there’s nothing we can do, Louis. The instrument will take months to fix. I blame myself, I should have anticipated this and had it checked earlier.”

“No, you don’t understand. Let Harry fly lead. He can jump without it.”

Harry stood silently at Louis’ side, fidgeting with his blanket, as the Team positively howled with laughter, even Gemma rolling her eyes in disbelief.

“Louis, I’m sure you have the best of intentions, but—“

“I can do it. I only jumped three times back from New York. I’m finding the quickest paths much easier, now,” Harry said boldly, his confident tone silencing his teammates.

“Harry, that’s impossible. You can’t jump, none of us can find the entrances alone.” Gemma shook her head.

“None of you can.”

“Kris, look at twitter. You’ll see we stayed at Macy’s through closing tonight. How do you think we got back here?” Louis offered, his heart thrumming with adrenaline in his chest. Was he really begging Kris to let Harry save Christmas? What had happened to him?

“That’s actually a good point,” Alec (Dancer) chimed in, getting to his feet and coming to stand next to Harry. “I saw them in an instagram post a couple hours ago. They couldn’t have back flown here on speed alone.”

Kris stroked his beard and pushed his glasses back up his nose. “I suppose we don’t really have much to loose, do we?”

“Only our lives?” Joaquin (Prancer) protested, also standing to join the fray. “Rudolph here can’t stick a landing to save his life, let alone ours. I’m not going to be tethered behind him.”

Gemma took Harry’s hand protectively. “Fine. Someone will take your place then. If Harry says he can do it, I believe him.”

“So do I,” Alec agreed.

“And I.” Julie (Comet) stood as well.

One by one the other members of Team A clustered around Harry, all offering their support. Joaquin eventually changed his mind. “I’d rather die with all of you than keep on living alone, I suppose.”

“That’s not quite the Christmas Sprit, but I dare say it’ll do tonight.” Kris grinned and slapped Harry on the back. “Call in the tac team, we’re a GO!”

Everything happened in a blur. They were already many hours late, but the talented elves of Christmas Town soon had the magically extended sack of presents loaded and the Team latched into their harnesses, working back to front. Harry hugged Louis goodbye fiercely, his muscles tight with anticipation.

“I believe in you, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. And so do all those kids. And their parents. And Bebe.” Louis kissed his temple and pulled back. “Go save Christmas, Harry.”

Harry shifted and calmly backed into the lead harness. Minutes later Kris took his position atop the sleigh and the docking door flung open to reveal the frigid night sky. With a flick of the reigns Kris urged the Team on and Harry took off, his footing sure on the slippery snow. The sleigh lifted into the air, Team A carrying it up to the heavens. Seconds later, as Louis watched Harry’s silhouette across the face of the moon, the sleigh blinked out of view. Harry had taken his first jump.

*

To say Louis didn’t spend the whole night worried and pacing and sweating would have been a lie. Zayn, Liam, and Niall, though happy to see him, eventually couldn’t put up with his behavior and left off to bed. Louis took his pacing outdoors, looking up to the stars and calling upon the amorphous power of Christmas magic to bring Harry safely home.

As tradition dictated, at six a.m. families began to exit their houses and line the streets of Christmas Town like a ticker-tape parade. At seven, cheers and hollers started echoing around the town; the Team had jumped into view.

Louis watched with frothing pride as Harry made a perfect landing. An instant after the reindeer had come to a halt on the snowy street they were swarmed with affectionate congratulations, and no one so much as Harry. Kris himself hugged Harry’s filthy neck and patted his flank, sending up a cloud of dust, as he praised Rudolph’s miraculous talent, his gift that had saved Christmas.

Louis hung back until the crowds had thinned and the groomers had unhooked the Team from their harnesses, leading them back to the Commons for well-earned attention. Harry didn’t follow his groomer, though, instead trotting to Louis and, before Louis could ask him what the fuck he was doing, shifting to his human form. Naked and filthy, not even wearing shoes, Harry fell atop him.

“I stuck every landing, Lou. I did it, just like you said I could.” Harry’s eyes closed despite the shock of icy snow against his bare feet.

“I’m so proud of you, H. I’m so proud I could burst.” Louis removed his jacket and tied it around Harry’s waist before scooping him into his arms. “You’re dead on your feet, come on, lets get you inside.” Louis staggered under his weight, doggedly determined to get Harry out of the cold as quickly as possible. He started after the groomers, towards the Commons.

“No,” Harry mumbled, “Take me home, please?”

Louis hesitated only a moment before nodding. A good deal of dragging and hobbling later, he carried Harry through the door.

“Here you are, nice soft bed. Sleep it off, Christmas hero.”

“No, Lou,” Harry sat groggily from where Louis’ had deposited him and made grabby motions with his hands. “You can wash me first? I’m so gross.” Harry blinked up at him, drunk off of exhaustion, his dimples even too lazy to form.

“I—“ Louis stalled, but Harry pleaded with his eyes. “Alright.”

Harry staggered up and let Louis lead him to the bathroom. As Louis turned the water to hot, Harry sidled under the spray, his face relaxing in contentment.

“Mmm. S’nice.”

Louis soaped up a luffa and got to work. Dust particles from every corner of the world had gathered together on Harry’s skin to thwart Louis’ dreams of a peaceful Christmas. Why had fate decided to punish him so?

When he’d finished with Harry’s arms and torso he nearly lost his nerve, not sure if he could stand to yet again so intimately wash the body of the boy he loved and pretend it meant nothing.

With shaking hands Louis cleaned every crevice of Harry thoroughly, and when he’d finished, started on his face, using a soft washcloth to clean away the muck.

“Lou,” Harry mouthed, his eyes blinking rapidly from the soapsuds, “I’ve got you all wet.” He reached out and touched Louis’ cheek, smearing water where salty tears had been moments before.

“S’not you, H.” Louis tried to stop crying, but though he made no sounds, the tears continued to slip from his eyes.

“I’ll be more careful… about splashing…” Harry’s head lolled back as Louis reached up and shampooed his curly locks, massaging his fingers against Harry’s scalp.

“Almost done, H. There we are, rinse off.” Louis combed through Harry’s curls, banishing the shampoo from his head until Harry stood glimmering clean. Louis turned off the water and draped a towel around his best friend.

“How does that feel, H?”

“I’m really wet,” Harry mumbled, half asleep.

“Not for long.” Louis dried him, sliding the towel between his arse cheeks and patting along his sack and dick and the crease of his thighs. Harry chubbed up a little, but seemed incapable of noticing. Soon Louis had him dry and wearing one of his own large t-shirts and a pair of pajama bottoms.

“Bedtime for you, Christmas hero,” Louis whispered as he deposited Harry in his bed and tucked the blankets around him. “Tell you what, while you sleep, I’ll make us some cookies, alright? And I’ll make sure I use sugar this time.”

Harry barely managed a smile before he drifted off to dreamland.

 

*

Zayn set the green bean casserole down on the stove as Liam positioned the turkey and stuffing next to it. Niall had brought pies and cranberry sauce.

“You guys didn’t have to,” Louis said, sniffing at the turkey in anticipation.

“You think we were going to let you feed Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer your terrible cooking? No one wants him poisoned the day of his victory.” Zayn slapped Louis’ shoulder and gave his roommate a sly grin. “Besides. Leaves more time for other things if you don’t have to cook.”

Louis gulped. “Don’t know what you mean by that, but thanks for the food.”

“’Don’t know what you mean by that’? Louis. He ran away with you. To New York. For three weeks.” Niall plunked down on a barstool and raised his eyebrows at Louis. “So don’t give us your pretences.”

Louis tried to force a smile. “He’s in love with an elf.”

“Ya, we know.”

“From New York, Niall. Her name’s Bebe, she worked at Macy’s.”

“You’re really dense sometimes, Lou,” Liam chimed in, not glancing up from setting candles on the table. “Didn’t you see any of the press coverage?”

Louis didn’t meet his friends’ eyes. Rehashing his broken heart was not something he wanted to do this Christmas.

“Honestly.” Zayn pulled out a crumpled magazine from his coat pocket. “Look at this, Louis.”

He flipped open the New Yorker to an article entitled “The Boy and His Reindeer: The new miracle on 34th Street.” Pictures covered the glossy pages, all complete with captions detailing Harry and Louis’ interactions with multiple Macy’s patrons.

“Are you blind, Louis? In every single one he’s looking up at you.” Zayn flipped through the article, pointing to picture after picture, and sure enough, Harry’s green reindeer eyes were always searching for him, and when they weren’t, Harry had pressed up against Louis with either his flank or his leg or dipped an antler to touch Louis’ arm. Always Harry moved about him in an orbit, Louis the sun to his Santaland world.

Louis felt his throat constrict. “That’s just how it is with him. He’s a herd animal, likes to be close to his herd.”

“You idiot. You’re his herd.” Niall roused himself from the stool. “Come on lads, let’s leave Louis alone with the feast. Maybe when sleeping beauty awakes he’ll actually make a fucking move.”

Zayn gave Louis a suggestive grin and thwacked his bum as he passed; Liam opted for a warm smile, saying, “Don’t over-think things, Lou. Just follow your heart.”

Louis closed the door firmly behind them and tried to swallow down the bitter aftertaste of Liam’s sugary words. What did they know? They’d not been best friends with Harry for countless years. They’d not seem him squirm, protest, promise that he harbored no attraction to Louis.

“Lou?” Harry’s sleep-slow voice called out, “Did I hear voices?”

“There’s the reindeer of the hour! Sleep well, H?”

“Ya, think so. Oh food! You didn’t make all this, did you?”

Louis shook his head. “No, the boys wanted to make sure you didn’t starve. Thoughtful of them. I’d already ruined the first two batches of cookies.”

Harry dimpled. “Um, Lou, where’d you get this? I thought it was a giant candy-cane and got really excited.”

Harry held up Niall’s red and white striped dildo. “Fucking Niall,” Louis muttered, snatching the offending object from Harry’s grip. “Don’t worry, I’m getting rid of that monstrosity first chance I get.”

Harry bit his lip and squeaked, “Can I have it, then?”

Stunned, Louis blinked twice. “It’s… not a candy-cane, Harry.”

“I know.”

“You know? What it is?”

“Yes.” Harry snatched it back, a feisty glint coming to his green eyes. “I know what a dildo is, Louis.”

“Oh?” Louis tried to keep the confusion from his face.

“How else do you think I fuck myself? Just ‘cause I’ve never been with anyone doesn’t mean I don’t have needs.” Harry didn’t break eye contact with him ‘til he took a seat at the dining room table, his gaze daring Louis to answer.

“Uh,” Louis licked his lips and swallowed. Maybe he was as blind as Zayn said? “I didn’t realize you, er, liked that.”

“You don’t realize a lot, Lou,” Harry said, his voice full of a yearning Louis hadn’t noticed before.

“Then tell me, I guess? Claus, Harry, I don’t know what you expect me to decipher from your cryptic—“

Harry stood from his seat in one swift motion and cut Louis off with a kiss.

When they pulled apart, Louis knew the time had come to confess. He couldn’t put it off any longer.

“Is this more practice, Harry? Because I can’t.”

“You can’t?”

“I’ve wanted you so much for so long… and I would give you anything, you know that. But this is torture for me.”

Harry looked at him with dawning realization. “You want me?”

“You have no idea, H.”

“But I’m a shape shifter? I have ruts and hooves and… and bad breath, and… how could you want me?”

“Harry,” Louis’ heart began to thunder in his chest, “Do you want me to want you?”

“Yes, yes, yes,” Harry began to cry, his beautiful green eyes spilling over as he ravished Louis with his stare.

“We’re idiots,” Louis whispered, gentling Harry to his chest, kissing delicately at his best friend’s jaw line.

“Lou.” Harry kissed his cheek, sloppy, cool. “I only ever wanted you. I just said those things—asked you to wash me—because I wanted to feel your touch, to have your kisses. I’m in love with you, Louis.”

Louis felt it then, an unmistakable heat that started in his stomach and spread throughout his body, a tingling, frantic wavelength of energy that made colors brighter and sounds louder and time stand still.

Christmas Spirit, he thought. Maybe it was love all along.

Louis brought their mouths together and relished in Harry’s soft lips, his wet tongue. Harry started groaning soon and pressing his hips to Louis’, his movements shaky and desperate.

“I’ve had this dream,” Harry admitted between dips of his tongue, “For so long, um…” Harry’s cheeks turned a delicious pink as Louis urged him to continue.

“Tell me, H. Anything.”

“I want to ride you,” Harry murmured, his voice dropping an octave. “I wanna know what it feels like to be a rider for once.

Louis nearly choked on his thickening spit. Already blurting out in his pants, he took Harry’s hand and let him back to the bedroom. He began peeling off his own clothes, then Harry’s.

“Harry, my love,” Louis cooed as he finished undressing them, his fingers lingering on Harry’s smooth chest.

“Lie down, Lou?” Harry asked, straddling Louis as he complied and fell back on the mattress.

“There’s lube in the nightstand, H,” Louis croaked out, unsure he’d survive the day.

Harry fished it out and sat down atop Louis’ hips, their cocks touching. Louis nearly combusted.

“Here,” Harry took Louis’ hand and pressed out a glob of lube on his fingers. “I’ll open right up for you, I promise. I’ll be the best rider.”

Louis swallowed and beaconed Harry back to his mouth. As they kissed lazily Louis began to work at Harry’s hole, prodding and pushing and massaging, marveling at the suction of it.

“S’all I’ve ever wanted,” Harry groaned as Louis’ first knuckle slipped inside him. Louis crooked his finger and rubbed, eliciting more sounds from Harry.

“More, Lou, fill me up,” Harry begged, grinding down on Louis’ soft belly.

Louis did, sliding in another finger, then a third, until Harry bit his lip and lifted himself from Louis’ chest. Gently Louis let his fingers ease out as Harry squeezed lube onto his cock and slathered it along his shaft.

“I like it wet, messy,” Harry breathed, his voice full of catches. He tilted his hips forward and lined up. “You’re so hot,” Harry mused, catching his own pun halfway through lowering down. “In both ways, Lou.”

Louis managed a wry smile. His cockhead had barely touched Harry’s puckering entrance and already he felt light-headed and weak. Harry let his knees slide apart and his thighs triangle around Louis’ hips. A squelch sounded before Louis breached his opening; the tip inside him, Harry threw back his head and exposed his gulping, beautiful neck.

Little by little Harry eased closer until his balls rested on Louis’ happy trail and his cock grazed Louis’ belly button, thick and heavy, swollen with potential; Louis licked his hand and reached out, taking it in his grip for the third time, finally able to enjoy the sensation.

“Ride me, sweetheart,” he implored, desperately willing himself to last.

Harry began to move his hips. Up and down, just tiny motions at first, growing larger as his body relaxed; soon Harry started bouncing, slamming down, impaling himself deeper and deeper, his knees clenching around Louis’ hips.

“Lou,” Harry groaned, his cock beginning to leak into Louis’ fingers.

“You close, love?”

Harry nodded, giving two shouts in succession as Louis’ dick hit his spot.

“Gonna come on you, Lou, gonna make a huge mess, I’m sorry…”

“Harry,” Louis laughed despite his blown senses, “I want you to. Cover me, love, use me.”

“You’ll…” Harry squeezed his eyes tightly, his chest shaking, “Come inside me?”

“Yes, yes, love.” And Louis felt himself building, nearly there, just two more pumps…

Harry cried out first, his final bounce smacking his dick down with a wet thud against Louis belly where it emptied viscerally, spout after spout of cum issuing from his slit until the concave of Louis’ chest housed a white puddle. Louis looked down at the mess and the beauty of it had him cursing, yelling obscenities to the ceiling as he bucked into Harry’s bum and shot off. His spilling hadn’t ended when Harry caught his lips.

“You’re right,” Harry said after Louis’ cock had finally stilled within him, “You can feel everything in a kiss.”

Panting, they lay there for a time, Louis’ cock going soft where it still rested inside Harry’s cool body.

“I’ve wanted that for so long. I never dreamed you wanted it too.” Harry blinked back tears as he nuzzled against Louis’ neck.

“We’re going to make up for so much time, H.” Louis pecked along Harry’s neck.

“This is what I wished for, Lou. For Christmas.”

“You wanted my dick for Christmas?” Louis smirked up at Harry.

“And I want to give you mine for New Years. I want everything, endlessly, with you.”

“Well.” Louis sucked a little kiss into Harry’s clavicle. “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, saver of Christmas, I will always play your reindeer games.”

Harry giggled and cuddled to his side. As they drifted to sleep, sticky and sweaty and cum coated, Louis thought how he’d never had such a magical Christmas.

 

THE END