It's nearly quarter to two in the morning and Louis finds himself in a bus alone.
He can't make himself sit down, choosing rather hold onto the nearest grab rail. He can see the driver give him scorning looks through the rearview mirror, at the sight of him in his pyjamas and an anorak thrown over them as an excuse. At least he had managed to snatch up his phone, keys and wallet on the way out.
Teeth clenching, Louis loses himself in the windows and the lights outside. It wasn't bustling as it was in the morning, but Didsbury clapped back saying it was still alive with people. Streetlights flickered and shoppers walked under them. Even more, since the weekend was only a night away. The weekend. Once Louis manages to get home and into his bed, maybe he can see a bit of the weekend everyone's been dying about.
The bus rolls to a stop with a muffled screech. The driver wordlessly presses a button that flings the door open. He mutters a thanks and hops off without his wits. The things he does. The things he lets himself do.
He speed-walks the length of a street till he reaches a blurry neon sign with the dark doors closed from public. Music still booms out though. Outside the doors, a man of muscle stands with his arms crossed. He's conversing reluctantly with someone sitting down on the stairs at the entrance.
"Harry," he gasps and trips his way to them.
Then, Harry looks up. Their eyes are glossy, drooping, mascara smudged. There's an unmistakeably dopey smile that's taking up most of their face. "Lou," they slur.
"Harry," he needles on.
Two arms thrust into the air with what seems like a lot of strength. "I need help."
Louis shakes his head to himself and braces them up with his feet planted to the floor.
Harry grunts and falls forward into him, their chin hooking over Louis's shoulder. "How d'you know I'd be here?" they garble out, their breath is warm against Louis's ear, and it stays put, making a new memory.
"I got a call from the bloody bartender abou' you drinking yourself into a fuckin' medical condition," he squeaks as he uprights Harry. He holds them around the waist, arms snaking up their back. For good measure. He shifts slightly to look at the bouncer who's watching the exchange with amusement. "Thanks, mate," he heaves out.
"No problem. Be safe," he says with a smirk.
Louis turns back to the matter at hand. He clutches Harry's shoulder with his other hand and peels himself away from Harry's front. "Can you walk?" he mumbles into the space between them.
Harry chortles. "Will you carry me like a damsel in distress if I say no?"
Anything to get home as quickly as possible, he wants to say. Instead, he separates from Harry quickly and guides him away from the prying eyes of the bouncer with an arm hitched around their shoulder.
It's a task; walking with a drunk Harry. He's busy maundering to themself, all their words flying to his shoes, that can't keep up with their feet. Since they can't multitask, Louis has to be the one to puppet him through it. Their feet meander over themselves and threaten to cripple them. Louis is all that's keeping them from becoming a rag doll.
To top it off, fellow passersbys laugh and point when they see Harry. It makes Louis irrationally angry but he doesn't dare say anything. He doesn't speak while he's concentrating on getting Harry around in one piece. For the reason he might say something he shouldn't have Harry crying into his shoulder while trying to walk. That would be a nightmare.
It takes thrice the time it did for Louis to walk from the bus stop, to walk Harry back to it. They insists on touching all the lamp posts on the way. Then, it's the icing on the cake when Harry stops short beside a police car. An officer who's head is bent into a walkie talkie looks up at the both of them in confusion. "Alright, lads?"
Louis manages a grimace. "Yes, ma'am. Just gettin' back to the gaff."
Harry smiles wide, the one from before. The one that kills out the rest of their face. "Have a nice day, miss."
She furrows her eyebrows. "You too."
To avoid further speculation, Louis leads them away fast, letting their feet drag on the pavement. "Only you would tell a copper to have a good day in the middle of the night," he mutters.
"I'll show you oops in the morning."
Seeing the bus stop is like an answered prayer. Propping Harry under its roof seems easier than everything else he's done all night. Maybe since Harry seemed to get better at walking since they've started. Sober Harry would be a boon- a boon too far from where they were standing.
"Are you angry?" Harry asks after a long silence.
A bus jerks to a stop before them. Louis grips the latter's wrist and leads them up the steps. He pays for their tickets with his phone without letting go and then shepherds them into the nearest seat.
Harry stumbles into their spot and settles easily. "Louis, answer me."
Well. Louis wants to be honest. "Yes, I'm angry."
"I'm sorry," they says around a pout. Now, who can resist that?
Louis sighs. There's sleep weighing down his eyelids, he looks worse than his friend who's horribly drunk, he's hungry and tired, the leaking tap in his kitchen doesn't let him sleep sometimes, his hair is falling by the handful and he might be bald in two days, he needs a new roommate before next month, he hasn't picked up his sister's calls since the last time they fought, he doesn't have money left for the two trips of groceries that the month will demand, he hasn't gotten laid in so long that it's all he's been thinking about, he can't even-
"Louis," a whine breaks him from his reverie.
"It wasn' a good idea to go out like that and drink like crazy. You didn't tell me you were goin'."
Harry looks down at their lap like a child, picking at their chipped nailpolish like a habit. "You've had enough of me."
Never. "Very true, but I still would have wanted to know."
"I went with my colleagues to get to know them better, but I guess they all went away to dance."
Louis frowns, and he can feel how deep his worry lines are. "After gettin' you so ruddy drunk?"
The bloody smile makes a reappearance, turning into giggles. "No one was watching and I didn't care, so I drank everything I found."
Louis slaps them at the back of their head, lightly.
Harry whines and clutches at their scalp like it's much worse than that.
They're due a stern talk in the morning, but Louis might just excuse them for the hangover they're going to go through for the rest of the coming day. In the meanwhile, he can think about what to say to not sound like Harry's second mother. The next challenge was to tuck Harry into their bed, get home and mope. Maybe polish off that Tesco wine he's found in the back of the cupboard.
The bus ride is shorter than the one to Louis's place, but it doesn't stop Harry from embarrassing themself in the few minutes of it. They manages to kick off one of their boots twice and laugh boisterously both times, find food in one of their coat pockets and be audibly pleased about it in the span of a few minutes. Louis should be frizzled, he should be irritated at least from all the exhaustion, but he finds that he isn't. He wonders what it says about him when he's laughing along with Harry's meaningless giggles. Maybe it's the small things like this in life. One moment stuck in time, in chaos.
Thankfully, Harry doesn't need aid while getting off the bus. They still nearly falls over themself and almost breaks their nose on the concrete if it weren't for Louis's arm pulling him back in time. But, they's alright when they begin laughing. Louis should have known that Harry's drunkenness descends phase-wise. Incoherent to giggly to drama queen to brutally honest to passing out. There was also the lewd-flirty stage, and the one that dances like the floor belongs to them, and the one that randomly screams. Perhaps those were over before Louis came to his rescue. Good thing; since those were the worst to handle.
The minute walk back to Harry's flat is plain sailing. Harry is quiet when Louis reaches for their keys, opens the main door, marches them to Harry's door and steers them inside. Immediately, they flings themself onto the couch and sighs contently.
Louis could leave them there. It's not a bad idea.
Except it is.
Shrugging out of his anorak, Louis comes up behind them and cups their ankle to pluck them from them stupor. "Let's get you into bed, darling," he says softly. He's tired and he isn't up for screaming. A nice cry with that bottle of wine sounds amazing.
"I'm tired," whinges Harry.
"Your bed will be comfortable. You'll have to go with a hangover and a backache tomorrow," he chides gently.
Harry seems to be rolling it over in their head before they sit up with the frown. They let themself be lead through the kitchen and almost bumps into the wall beside their bedroom door. Their roommate mustn't be home- or he would've come out to see the circus outside.
When he triumphantly nudges Harry, they goes ambling in, limbs dancing on their own. Harry's coat falls into a corner of the room and Louis makes quick work of setting out a ragged shirt and worn trousers from one of the drawers, and leaves Harry to their own devices to figure out that they have to change their clothes before they fall asleep.
He's filling a glass in the kitchen when he hears a loud crash. "Harry," he calls out over the noise of the water. But he gets no answer. He slams the glass on the platform and breaks for the bedroom.
The door batters against the adjacent wall and it reveals Harry, prostrate on the floor, one leg of his jeans off and one on. "I fell off," he groans, his words sluggish. "I'm useless."
"That you are," agrees Louis. "Get the rest of those off without breaking yourself." He closes the door to go back to the kitchen, grinning to himself. What does he do any more?
Next time when he cautiously glimpses through the crack of the door, Harry is sitting at their bedside in a whole. He enters and offers the glass to Harry who wordlessly drinks all of it. It's a practice now. Vice versa and over and over again; it'll happen.
"Get some sleep, I'll leave," he resigns.
"No!" Harry simultaneously drops their glass on the nightstand and snatches Louis's wrist, looking up at him like a wounded animal. "Stay, please. I haven't seen you in a week."
"And you thought getting someone else to call me while you're pissed, was the best option to change that?"
Harry creases their eyebrows, face contorting along with it. "We can talk. Pleeeease? I haven't heard from you in a while, and my life is boring. I'll let you rant. Tell me about your boss. I know you love to bitch about him."
Louis shakes his head at them. He's tired, and he doesn't care. That bottle of wine will have to be opened another night. "Fine, you child. I dunno why I listen to everything you say."
Harry lets out a happy squeal, falls back against the bed. They turn their head to look at him. "Will you play with my hair?"
What's another thing to the list that Harry wants?
Louis clambers onto the centre of the bed, crossing his legs and getting comfortable. On cue, Harry shuffles back and deposits their head into his lap. They let out a kittenish sigh when Louis begins combing through his hair with his fingers- root till fistful. While Louis knows he's over his head, bending backward for this at some point, he knows it isn't helping with all the things he usually feels.
"Is he still an arsehole?"
Humming in question, Louis fixes his concentration on separating all the strands. "Who?"
A laugh bursts out of him, Harry peering up at him with twinkling eyes- face upside down. "Yes, Mr Wickham continues to be who he is. No surprise there. I impressed him with the paperwork yesterday. Might be granted promotion sometime in the next ten years," he shrugs like it's so simple. "Wish me all the best."
"I really wish you would try to find a job that matches your potential, Lou," laments Harry. Their hand reaches back and rubs his knee like their words are supposed to permeate through into him.
Louis laughs morosely. "If it were that easy, I wouldn't be trying this hard to kiss Wank-um's arse. Trust me. It'll have to do for a while. You know how it is."
"What if I can ask at my firm?"
"You and I work in different areas, Harry."
Harry's gaze is trained on the ceiling. Whatever's coming out of their mouth doesn't seem to make a trip to their brain at all- just making a shortcut to their mouth instead. The drunkenness loiters then. "It's a firm. There are so many jobs, we'd probably work on different floors." They tilt their head back to beam lopsided at Louis. "You could have lunch with me every day. The fun!"
"Ha, ha," he drawls sarcastically.
"You're drunk, is what you are."
"Not really. I'm just very tipsy, and I know what I'm saying. I know you're endorsing this conversation because you think I'm legless. I'm perfectly aware of everything," intercepts Harry. Then, they lunge to poke Louis on the tip of his nose. "You look funny upside down."
Louis huffs out a laugh. "What was that about you not being drunk?"
Harry grins but doesn't continue jabbing him about his job. They must sense that it's making Louis's skin prickle. Better not talk about it just yet, even if it was in the tone of a jester. "What was that promise about you playing with my hair?"
"I don't remember anything about a promise," Louis says around a smile.
The light on Harry's face doesn't waver. Their eyes linger on Louis's face, not meandering away. The question was; were they flirting? Were they doing this the whole time they knew each other? Is that why no one left the both of them alone unless they absolutely had to? Was that why everyone looked to him for Harry? Was Harry looking to him?
"You know, Louis," they muse. "My parents are in Paris and they're boasting about it. I wake up to selfies of them on the family Whatsapp group and I just... I feel like crying." Right, the whingy stage then. They might be progressing faster than Louis has anticipated. "When will we get there? When can we not keep making spreadsheets of every fucking pound we spend and throw it away on a holiday?"
Louis shrugs, concentrating on separating the hair of knots thrust into his hands. "Not for long, I think, Hazza. Like I said, we'll have to wait it out."
Harry danders on because they're in a mood that might stand. "Do you wanna make croissants in the morning?"
"You'll be so hungover, you'll be crying," says Louis. "The croissants won't need extra salt."
To that, Harry slaps back at his knee, glaring at him upside down. "Bad joke."
"Heightening flavours and all that," he supplies with a crooked smile.
Another slap sounds in the room. "I'm miserable already, Louis, don't ruin pastries for me."
Louis laughs at once, dampening it down by pressing his lips together. "Let's get breakfast tomorrow. My treat."
"My charming prince, you are."
Raking his fingers over Harry's scalp, he hums in question. "Really?"
Harry is reticent for a few lingering seconds, chewing his lip on a thought that's lost soon enough. "Yeah. Yeah, you are. You're sort of one of the only things I can rely on in life, right now. My job is shit, my other friends are shit, everything is shit. Or that's just me complaining because you're listening. But, right now, all I can see is you."
All I see is you.
At once, Louis is stunned into speechlessness. One entire minute goes by, or much longer than that- judging by the blood roaring in his ears. "All you can..."
"Yeah," Harry agrees noncommittally. Their gaze is trained at the ceiling, focus nowhere. The words have no path as they fall out of their mouth, and they don't stop them either.
"I'm holding on to you here. Wish you could see what I'm talking about."
Then, Harry stiffens- their body straightens out and goes rigid. They jerk up, sitting upright, twisting around to face him. Their hair is dishevelled from Louis's work, but it's their face. He knows what the face means- he's experienced on his shoes when Harry's had too much to drink. Their face is ashen and eyes are blown to black, mouth redder than Louis's seen in a drunken haze. They suck their cheeks in. "Oh, no," he whispers. "Louis, I-"
Louis gestures urgently as the bin placed by the headboard. "Over there," he panics, steeling himself for a shower of vomit.
Harry swiftly moves into his space and seal their lips. A pair of hands cradle his face and their shoulders are nudging together and Harry's mouth feels like nothing but a cure. He's hungry in the way he takes and takes, teeth digging and pulling. It's not a soft revelation that settles like dust in the air, it's disguised ownership. It's saying this is mine, it's been mine and now I know.
Their tongue twines around his without preamble, without warning like they're hoping Louis will just handle them like this. Like they've known Louis's been after him ever since they've known each other. Like they've known Louis has dreamed of this exact moment too times for it to feel like anything else- if not better. Heat surges from Louis's abdomen and into his mouth, his hands, everywhere and he hopes Harry can feel it for the lack of not being able to react enthusiastically. The force of it has Louis virtually unhinging his head from his neck. He can feel Harry get up onto to their knees, not letting go of for a bare second, not letting him breathe anything but him. They're touching but they aren't because it isn't enough.
The smell of stale vodka stings his nose, and he's so alive from knowing that. It's mixed with a tinge of bubblegum lip gloss which is probably too synthetic in taste, but good enough to be perfect. Harry's back is warm when he lets his greedy hands roam under his t-shirt. He's so numb in the right places because feeling is too much and it's overrated. Being suspended like this wasn't.
Harry rises -literally- and bends his neck back and claims his mouth again. What a rut to be in. But, it isn't enough since they stumble back and there isn't an inch of space for Louis to gather his thoughts before Harry atop him, the weight of them pushing him into the mattress. Then, Harry's kisses lose focus, fall below, lingering on his chin, dipping under to the quaking muscle, past his Adam's apple. Louis's shirt had rumpled and fallen at his expense and Harry takes that too; they drag their lips past his collarbones and onto his chest. Louis wondered if Harry could hear his heartbeat before, but now he's sure it's pulsating into him.
Hands run down his sides and squeeze his thighs before they're hitched to the point where their hips are lined up and Louis lets out the hiss he's been holding in through his teeth. He can feel Harry is on the way to being half-hard. It's so incredible already, what would happen if he rocked up and chased after Harry's arousal. Would he embarrass himself?
But, he can't think too far.
Louis sits up on his elbows, breathless from the last forever. "Harry. Harry, Haz-" he cuts across the latter's ministrations. Before it's too far and Louis can't find himself again. "Do you wanna stop? Should we-"
"No," they say bluntly, diving to kiss him.
Louis grips them by the shoulder and forces himself to sit up. He wishes his brain had shut up and let his hormones do the work. "Erm, is this the part where you point at me, slap your knee and laugh?"
Harry tilts their head, like a little puppy. "Is that something you like?" They're pitching forward again as he hasn't gotten enough- he doesn't even know how Louis is feeling, then.
He shakes his head. "Harry. Wait- let me finish."
"What?" they concede. Then, they sit down, like they were before, a minute and a lifetime ago. Back to square one, it seems. Another one of those wretched silences stretches over them. "I dunno why I did that."
Louis can comprehend his face settling into a pain-stricken expression, he tries to will himself out of it. All of that was mere sweet talk, then. "Right."
Harry's mouth distresses into a thin line. "But you want me."
"You told me."
Louis's eyes flicker. "Yeah?"
A moment goes by of them staring at each other until Harry gives in with a sigh that slumps them. "You haven't. But I know we want each other."
In reply, Louis raises an eyebrow. "I didn't know."
Harry fidgets in their place, picking at the nail enamel again- they're nervous. "Now you do," they breathe out. "I've been holding out on you and you've been serial dating. 'Ve only got this window to make my moves on you."
"This is your move? Spontaneously snogging me?"
Harry looks near crying. The nervousness had given way to it. "Louis."
"The talking follows after the snogging, Haz. You haven't rehearsed this properly, have ya."
"I haven't rehearsed the snogging bit before and I think we did great," they respond placidly, bitterly.
Before Harry can begin lashing out, Louis goes on. "You were saying things that didn't make sense and then you just said you didn't know why you did it and then you had an explanation ready, Harry. I don't know what you want me to think."
"Don't think," Harry shoots back.
"What else do you want me to do?!" Louis widens his eyes. "You just kissed me out of nowhere, and I kissed you back and now we're sitting here and I'm trying to handle it as an adult would!"
Harry chews their lip angrily, it's not helping at all. "You're not handling it, you're freaking out!"
"No, I'm not!"
They gesture roughly at Louis's lap. "You're scratching yourself to death," he points out.
Louis glances down at his arms. His palms and wrists are covered in dry, red welts- his own nervous habit. His digs his culprit of nails into his sides quickly, feeling his ears go hot. "Erm."
There's a short silence that ensues for a lack of not knowing what to say. Louis is about to say he should be on his way; he had been wrong. He should have gone home and slept till the noon and not have faced this- whatever it was. However, Harry gets there first. "I'm sorry I forced you into it. I really wasn't thinking- it was a- sorry."
"You didn't force me. I get it," says Louis. "But what about tomorrow? Or the day after? Two weeks after that?"
Harry looks confused.
"We have to pretend it didn't happen. I can't afford to lose more friends."
"I should leave," he bites out quickly.
Barely minutes ago, Harry was so chatty- ready with an explanation to snap back at him. Now, they don't say anything. When Louis wanted them to shut up and now that they don't say anything -lets Louis leave like it was nothing- it pinches in all the wrong places. For a split second, he liked to think that they mirrored the same feelings. That in the heat of the moment, throwing everything to waste, they chose each other. Maybe it was all in his head. The hypothetical pain of it makes his eyes prickle.
The thing is; Louis is a tiny bit selfish. Probably very selfish.
He's slid off the bed, standing by the side, close to leaving the room. Close to making a change in his life, he's sure. But, something stops. He's selfish; so, so selfish. "Harry," he breathes out. He feels himself blushing before he can actually get the words out. "We could- I mean- This has-" he huffs frustratedly, hiding behind at the swoop of his fringe, ducking his words at his feet. "I can give you a chance to get me out of your system. We- You can kiss me one more time. We have to go back to how it was before, after that," he urges. "We have to."
When he peers up, Harry's watching him with an unreadable expression. They're chewing on their lip. Like they might consider it.
And Louis needs it to be done as quickly as possible. Possibly before he can die from the shame and melt into a puddle of nothingness. Before he can burst out of the flat and spend his night looking at the night with blurry eyes. "The offer expires in a few seconds," he hints with a teasing edge to loosen up. He'll just have to play it cool for a little longer. Because it's nothing but his demise after that. "5... 4..."
Then, Harry is swiftly moving towards him on their knees, along the sound of his thudding heart. The bed creaks under him once, twice, and then Harry's leaning closer- and a hand clamps over his mouth.
Well. He didn't expect that. Louis's eyes bulge out and he watches Harry, mum. Obviously.
"Listen to me," Harry presses. Their tone is serious and so are their eyes. All traces of alcohol use were gone, floating elsewhere, maybe Louis could believe them. "Listen to me. Why don't you ever listen to me?"
Harry cuts across sternly. "Shut up. You're never listening. Even now, you don't want to listen to me. I'm trying to-" they groan, casting their face to the ceiling in exasperation and back to glare at Louis. "I don't want your offer. It's stupid."
"Sorry, I do want it. I want your offer," Harry explains like he's talking to a child. "I will gladly oblige and kiss you if you want me to. And I want to. But, I can't have your offer expiring. We can make a deal for something longer than five seconds."
His palm dislodges around Louis's mouth and the sweaty warmth is taken away, replaced by coolness. Louis swallows. He can't understand these riddles. "What do you mean?" His voice comes out in a rasp.
"How about as long as I want? Maybe we could get a few things done in the time- fit in a few dates here and there, I could cook us dinner one day, you could take me to the cinema, or whatever you want," offers Harry. They throw it out so casually in the air like they'll sit back and watch it stick or slide down the wall. As if they don't know what they're doing to the universe in Louis's head. They say it so flippantly, yet so carefully that Louis almost doesn't notice the tremble of their eyebrows and the throbbing of their temples.
Louis doesn't know what he's feeling, but he thinks the blooming in his chest doesn't have a description in all the languages. The corners of his lips lift up slowly, though he tries to dampen it by rubbing them together. "Yeah?"
"Yeah." Harry is grinning that way again, the drunk one, except their eyes are lit and their dimples are accentuated. It's believable if nothing.
Then. Louis reaches out and slaps them on the shoulder.
Harry flies back with a grunt, bewildered. "Why'd you do that?!"
"For being a drama queen," Louis can't stop smiling. "C'mhere."
They come happily, inching to the edge of the bed- he's shorter than Louis like this and he lets Louis kiss them the way he wants. With his hands in their hair and a mouth angled up for his convention. It's much slower like this, more chaste. It's better. It's so bad with how they're smiling, their teeth knock together and their eyes don't leave each other despite how close they are.
Harry pulls back, stroking the latter's jaw with a thumb, flicking their eyes back to Louis's gaze. "I was so sleepy before, you were doing my hair and all. But I don't think I can sleep after that."
Louis makes an affronted noise, head jerking back. "You can't sleep! I forbid you to."
"Not even in a while? I think I'll pass out either way."
"No! You can't," Louis argues. "I've read too many books where the love interest pretends they don't remember anything the next morning when clearly they've gotten sneaky with the protagonist when they were drunk."
Harry doesn't bother masking their puzzlement. "I don't understand?"
"You don't have to. You can't sleep. Not till it's morning. We have to stay up till then."
"I'm not drunk!"
Louis snaps. "There's still alcohol in your blood. You're not going to win over me on this." He glances over at the glowing digital clock on the nightstand; it blinks 4:17 at him. He pulls at Harry's wrist attached to their hand that's lazily hanging at Louis's hip. "Come with me."
He drags Harry into the kitchen and pats the empty place on the platform next to the sink and without hesitance, Harry jumps and settles in to the place, leaning back against the cupboard on the wall. There's an unopened bottle of milk in the fridge door, and sugar in a tiny crate next to the stove. "Where's your coffee?"
While he's pulling out two chipped mugs from a rack by the sink, he can feel Harry's eyes on him. Gone is the worry that he might fall asleep in the few minutes he'll take to make coffee. He knows how Harry will disgustingly take theirs- black, as opposed to how milky Louis takes his.
It doesn't much more than a few minutes for him to finish up, cheating with the microwave. He scrunches his nose in disgust as he passes one of the cups to Harry. "You don't have functional taste buds," he says tartly to them, drinking his less bitter coffee to prove a point.
Harry simply places their cup aside, ignores Louis's argument when they take his as well. Then, their legs stretch out, snake around Louis and pull him up against the platform- lodged between Harry's trap of limbs. "You said something about a love interest?" Their tone is teasing.
"Not another word out of you or I'm leaving this instant," he mutters, pretending like his face isn't on fire.
The legs around him tighten. "Try, why don't you," challenges Harry. They don't let Louis fight them on it, instead choosing to steal the disagreement straight out of his mouth; kissing him into a melody. As opposed to the frantic want in their earlier actions, it had simmered down to a comfort that was new. The whole battle of alternating-between-who-cranes-their-neck-up-to-snog thing shouldn't turn him on so much.
After draining the last dregs of their coffees, Louis graciously makes them cheese toasties that the both of them eat while sitting on the floor in the very kitchen. There's a playlist of random pop songs playing softly from Harry's phone that's been left beside the stove- and they're too lazy to change it something better. They pick up where they left off about Louis's arsehole-boss, moving to Harry's boss who played the cool card too much that it should be illegal. Harry remembers the bloody leaking tap back at Louis's flat and vows to fix it. That shouldn't give Louis a sense of hope but it does, and it's strange.
They've been talking for too long with tired eyes and running mouths. Sunlight filters the lounge and peppers along the measures of the kitchen when it's too late (or too early) possibly. It can't be articulated when time got lost between them finding each other. It's everything and nothing.
At half-past six, the front door opens brashly, knocking loudly against the adjacent wall. The sound of slapping footwear reveals Harry's roommate; Niall. "What are you losers doing? We have a perfectly good couch," he's slurring.
"Oh no, Niall," whispers Louis.
Harry doesn't bother saying anything, rather falling back and laugh at the state of him.
To be honest, Niall did look eccentric. His jeans were ripped... But so was his shirt? His hair was choppy- like it had been cut by a toddler. He had large sunglasses that covered his entire face and smudged peach coloured lipstick around his mouth and chin. All that was explained by the empty bottle of whiskey hanging from his left hand.
"You need help?" He asks over the sound of Harry's voracious laughter. The sound of it was making him smile too.
Niall looks somewhere between bored and out of his mind. "It's party time, bitches," he screeches. "I'mma go to sleep," he adds on and wordlessly hobbles like a wounded soldier through the kitchen, past them and shut his bedroom door so hard that it rattles against its frame.
After a total silence of ten seconds, Harry finally speaks. Their eyes are glistening from tears of laughter. "Safe to say he's asleep. He's going to die all day today. Can we hang at yours?"
Louis doesn't let himself think how that implies both of them in his bed, alone. "Sure. I think I need a drink after that. Speaking of," he pauses, flips to peer at Harry. "Are you hungover?"
Harry scoffs. "You didn't let me sleep. How should I know?"
"See how that turned out! You haven't been able to get away with saying you don't remember when you practically jumped me."
Louis purses his lips, concealing a laugh. "I'm not wrong."
"I had no plans of pretending it didn't happen," exclaims Harry hotly, eyes wide, mildly irritated at the implication. "Who even does that? Who's that stupid? What kind of books have you been reading?"
"Don't blame my books!"
A door flies open somewhere and an almost naked Niall emerges from his room. "I'm gonna take your books and shove them up your arses. Get out, both of you. Seriously, out! You aren't letting me sleep!"
"Jesus, Niall. Go kip in, I can't with you right now." Louis scowls at him. He'd be lying if he said he wasn't sleepy. But, he'd rather go out for breakfast. He turns to Harry to ask him just that. "Let's leave? Aren't you hungry?"
"Yeah," agrees Harry. They hoist themself and offers their hand to Louis.
Niall dramatically rolls his red eyes. "Thank fucking god!"
"Oh sod off," Louis calls back at him, but Harry's already dragging him to the door and handing his anorak to him. "He parties like he's not human and comes back to scream at us because we are. Tell me, Hazza; does he make you do his laundry? And his dishes?"
Harry shrugs in reply. "I like it."
"Aha! He likes that you like it, the little tosser. Next time I'm here I'm gonna steal all his shoes and sell them at the charity shop. Maybe then he won't go out as much!"
Laughing at him, Harry drags him by the sleeve to the main door. "You have a place in mind?"
The first option that popped into his head was Greggs. He could go for a sausage roll right now, he probably even deserved it as a reward for last night. The thought of it made his mouth water. Plus, he wasn't dressed enough for The Metropolitan, nor did either of them have that kind of money on them. Also, it was not even ten minutes away. The fact that Harry looked as pale and sleepy as a vampire even in the sunlight. It makes him crave for something garlic-y.
"Yes," groans Harry, eyes widening in imagined pleasure. "I need a sausage roll. Or a pasty."
"After my own heart," Louis confides and they walk.
Thankfully, Greggs is barely a street over. It takes a few minutes of griping about it, along with the promise of delicious effortless food to get them there, and they do. As usual, the customary smell of butter greets them at the entrance and follows them. There's no one, no customers but two people at work behind the cases. And the cases- they gleam in the yellow light. The smell and sight of baked goods are enough to make anyone rise from the dead. However, it doesn't do much for Harry as they go to a corner table in the shop and crash into a chair.
The Belgian buns look so attractive, Louis decides to take one home later and make love to it. Instead, he orders two sausage rolls and a steak bake to split for the both of them, and a peppermint tea for himself. The food is handed to him almost immediately as he pays and he balances it back to Harry.
When he goes back to ask for tissues, he orders one more thing and moves back to where Harry is sitting.
"Thanks," grumbles Harry, plucking up a tissue. There's a constellation of flakes around their mouth from nearly inhaling half of their sausage roll at once.
Without further ado, Louis slides the new plate across the table to them.
Harry glances at it and then up at him, in question. "I didn't ask for a jammy heart."
"I know," Louis says slowly. "I simply wanted to get it. For you."
Then, Harry sets down their roll on the mess of tissues on the tray and stares at Louis, licking their lips contemplatively. "Are you- is this-"
"Yeah," he agrees breathlessly.
A palm slaps down on the table. "You plonker," gasps Harry. "You give me shit for being cheesy, and what do you know? Jack Frost had a heart after all. It was made of shortbread and had a little jam centre."
Louis swiftly aims a kick at the latter's shin. It's effective and perfect when he gets a yelp in reply. Then, he glances around the shop to find no attention directed at them. He quickly looms over the table and kisses Harry quickly.
But Harry's smiling at him, soft around the edges, eyes drooping. Blurring out the corners of the world- the parts that don't matter till it's Monday again. The parts that he'll take at a point and make it his own, and make them so much better. Maybe life threw this at them because it's bored of their hamster wheels. Maybe they're just holding on to each other because nothing else will. Maybe that's why this feels like it's made of static- why it's so tall. Maybe this will be different. Maybe he'll be standing for it come and take him into the eye of it. Maybe he can go home today and never stop feeling fingertips everywhere on him like he's been tarnished- only in the best way.
Harry will have their hands on him and burn themself in for no one else to pay a visit. It might not stand and it might. Something might tear them, but now. Now, they're untouchable. New. Unfurling their petals in the fresh sunlight. How bright it is.
The train of thoughts in him is mad. So mad. But he knows something similar are happening behind the windows of Harry.
When he goes back to fetch his tea, careful to ask for a spoon and a sugar and extra teabag. When he's back to their table, Harry's head is cradled in their encased arms, snoring just lightly enough to know they're fast asleep.
Louis smiles to himself and eats the whole jammy heart.