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Want You More Than A

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Harry liked order. He liked to put his freshly sharpened pencils in one row and organise his sweater vests by colour. They were mostly brown and beige, admittedly, but they were always nicely folded and arranged in a neat stack, sorted by a shade.

Sometimes people at school made fun of him for being the way he was, yeah. Called him a nerd and a loser, said he dressed like a nan. Didn’t like that he got straight As and raised his hand when he knew the answer or that he liked to spend his lunch breaks at the library. He didn’t understand what was so wrong about wanting to learn, so that he could get a nice job and a nice husband with whom he would have at least five babies.

Which was why it made no sense that he’d had a massive, most embarrassing crush on his brother’s best friend -- who was chaos personified – for almost two years. Well, step brother, but his mother kept insisting he called him his brother, so Harry tried his best to make her happy. Despite Liam being a bit of a twat.

“Why can’t you just wear normal clothes?” Liam complained as he drove them to school, his thick eyebrows seemingly perpetually furrowed. “Lads at school wouldn’t make fun of you so much if you did.”

Harry clutched his backpack and stared out of the passenger window. “What does it matter what they think? I’m not trying to impress anyone.”

Liam snorted and turned up the volume of the radio, the kind of top ten pop song that would be stuck in Harry’s head for hours.

“Not anyone? Really.” The car slowed down to a stop. Harry watched the red light and quietly willed it to turn orange. “How is that even possible? You’re seventeen.

Harry just shrugged, but didn’t actually answer. He’d never been a good liar.

“What’s with the sudden interest in my love life? Didn’t know you cared.”

“I don’t.” The light turned orange then green and the car started moving again. Thank God. “But… you’re kind of my brother and all that. Reckon I should.”

Harry whipped his head around and blinked at Liam, suspicious. “Has Mum said anything to you?”

Liam shifted in his seat, fingers that had been tapping out the rhythm of the song on the steering wheel pausing. “Maybe.”

Bingo. Liam always got a five-minute kick of conscience after he got one of those talks. Then he always went back to ignoring Harry and pretending he didn’t know him at school, which Harry was fine with. Really. “Well, don’t. Just because we live in the same house doesn’t mean you have to care.”

“Hey,” Liam said, the corners of his mouth turned down. “I’m not a complete arse, you know.”

Harry distinctly remembered Liam watching on as Andy, Liam’s friend from the footie team, stole all of Harry’s clothes and shoved him out of the locker room into the school corridor half-naked for everyone to see. It was last week. Harry had been wearing pink briefs with Minnie Mouse on them that Mum had bought him at Disneyland last year. Still, Liam had done exactly nothing to help Harry or even tell his friend to fuck off, so, “Sure. All right.”

Liam just sighed. “Do you want me to drive you home today?”

“Not unless you want to wait for me. I’ve got Math.”

“Wait, I can’t anyway. We’re going to get food after footie practice with the lads. Never mind then.”

Sparing ten minutes to drop Harry off at home was, apparently, the limit to Liam’s idea of brotherly bonding. “I’ll take the bus then,” he said, even though he’d have to wait half an hour at the bus stop.


Liam turned the corner and sped up. Harry wished he was eighteen already so he could get a driving license and borrow his mum’s car, just so he wouldn’t have to suffer through the mile deep distance between him and his step brother nearly as often.


If there was one nice thing about being Liam’s stepbrother, it was this. Getting to see Liam’s best friend walk up to the car and press his face against the passenger window to make a silly face at Liam. Harry sighed deeply and tried not to notice how dainty Louis’ hands were. How the pinkie on his right hand were just a little bit crooked. Tried and failed. Spectacularly so. He just failed at being a functional human being in general, but it got so much worse whenever Louis was near.

Liam just grinned and pulled the keys out of the ignition before hopping out of the car. Harry would have too, but Louis was still standing there, arms probably folded up on the roof of the car, because all Harry could see was the golden sliver of Louis’ belly where his T-shirt rode up. He swallowed hard, pushed the glasses further up his nose and dropped his gaze to his lap, told himself not to be bloody stupid. Louis wouldn’t notice him. Not in a million years. He was too bright and magnetic and loved by everyone, and Harry made jokes nobody laughed at and talked too slow and wore sweater vests when it got chilly outside. They were as far from compatible as physically possible.

It wasn’t until Liam knocked on the window that Harry jolted out of his thoughts. He could feel heat rushing into his cheeks when he noticed two pairs of expectant eyes on him. He held onto his backpack and somehow managed to climb out of the car without embarrassing himself any further.

“All right?” Louis asked.

Harry just nodded, tongue tied, feeling very much out of place as Liam went to lock the car. Louis had always been nice to him, was the thing. Never made fun of him, not once. It was probably a really low, sad standard for Harry to have, but he couldn’t help it. Louis was just so bloody lovely.

Louis smiled a little and even as he and Liam started to walk towards the school entrance and leaving Harry behind, he knew he’d have a hard time focusing the entire day.


All right. So, there was a chance Harry was hiding in a janitor’s closet. Maybe. A little bit. He wasn’t a coward. It was just… self-preservation. He just didn’t feel like dealing with snide remarks so early in the morning. They never did anything awful to him. Just, Harry was feeling a bit sensitive today and the last thing he needed was for someone to make him cry in the middle of a busy school corridor because they called him names.

He hugged his books close to his chest and cursed himself for wearing a sweater west today. It was really stuffy in here and his collar was starting to chafe, the back of his neck flushed.

The door creaked open.

He tucked himself into the corner on autopilot, squinting against the sudden light.

“What are you doing here, Harry?” an equally startled blond lad Harry remembered seeing in his biology classes asked. Niall. Yeah, Niall Horan. Their biology teacher had kicked him out of the class once because Niall couldn’t stop laughing at a picture of a flaccid penis. He also had a girl wrapped around him right now, and oh. Harry had never really thought people snogged in the janitor’s closet outside of teenage rom-coms.

“Um… I just wanted some quiet?” He really hoped that sounded plausible.

“Oh, sorry. We can—”

“No, it’s all right. I should probably go anyway.” He made a spastic sweeping gesture at the cobweb-y dusty little cubicle of a room. “’S all yours.”

“You sure?” Niall asked, flushing bright red when the girl started to mouth at the back of his neck.

“Very sure,” Harry replied and squeezed past them, tips of his ears burning. Some day, when he was out of sixth form and at uni, he’d find someone to drag him off to snog his lips off too. That was what he told himself when he saw everyone around him going at it anyway. One day. And maybe it wouldn’t be Louis Tomlinson, but in the meantime Harry could live with his head in the clouds and doodles of a stick-figure-Louis playing footie in the margins of his notes.

He didn’t realise he had strings of cobwebs draped over his hair until second period.


It was raining outside and it wasn’t helping Harry in not pissing himself. Even Shakespeare on the open pages of his English literature textbook was starting to look as if he was mocking Harry for being an absolute tit.

He squeezed his legs together and banged his head on the top of his open book, because his room didn’t have a loo. The closest loo was, funnily enough, down the corridor. The very same corridor where Louis and Liam were kicking back and forth a football, since they couldn’t go outside. Harry really had to pee.

Should he do it out the window? Surely the gardenias could use some extra watering.

Bloody hell, he was being stupid. Nothing bad would happen. They’d just ignore him, as they usually did. He just had to slide past them and maybe say “hi” to Louis. And that was the problem, wasn’t it, he thought as he stood up and walked over to his door, clammy hand hovering over the doorknob. He could hardly look at Louis without blushing like a fool, never mind speak to him. It must have been so painfully obvious he was surprised nobody had called him out on it yet.

You can do it. You’re a strong, independent man, and you’re not going to piss your pants like a scared child. Absolutely not.

As soon as he stepped out into the corridor, the ball hit him right on the side of his face. It wasn’t too strong a shot, but he still stumbled into a wall, dazed, glasses knocked off his face.

“Fuck! You all right, mate?”

Harry tried to blink through the fog in his head when a warm hand settled on his shoulder, steadying him. Louis’ hand. Louis, who always seemed to be around to witness Harry embarrassing himself. Brilliant. Harry’s karma was shit.

“I’m… I’m okay. I think.” He couldn’t really feel half of his face. Probably a good thing.

“I’m really sorry, shit.” Louis dropped to his knees and his head was right next to Harry’s crotch, and Harry didn’t know if his head was spinning because he’d just been hit by a ball or because he had the unrequited love of his life looking up at him from a blowjob angle.

“Here,” Louis said as he stood up as fluidly as Harry could only hope to, squinting in focus as he slid Harry’s glasses back on his face. The skin of Louis’ knuckles where it brushed Harry’s cheekbones was warm. “As good as new.”

“I really need to piss,” Harry blurted out and promptly turned red. Or, well, redder. He probably had a ball imprint on his face too, and not even the fun kind.

“Well then,” Louis said with a confused smile. He must have thought Harry was an absolute idiot incapable of human interaction. He wouldn’t have been wrong, but still. “Far be it for me to keep a man from his business.”

Harry just nodded, dragging himself and his bruised ego towards the bathroom when Louis called out, “Are you sure you’re all right?”

Harry managed a small smile, hoping it wasn’t glaringly obvious just how in love he was with this boy. “I’m okay. Thank you.”

He could hear Liam start laughing the second he closed the bathroom door and felt like the biggest idiot in the world, and he wasn’t even being dramatic. And the worst thing? The dull throbbing in his head was well worth having Louis touch him, however platonic. Pathetic, that was what Harry was.

By the time he made it outside -- which was barely more than two minutes, because he really didn’t need Louis to think he went in for a shit – they were no longer there, probably relocated to Liam’s bedroom. As he settled down in the quiet of his room with only Shakespeare to keep him company, he tried not to feel too disappointed and maybe a little lonely.

He took his glasses off the second he realised trying to focus on homework was futile and pressed his fingertips gingerly against his hot-to-touch cheek. He was just about to get up and get some Tylenol from the medicine cabinet when someone knocked on his door.

Falling out of his chair when he spun around too fast wasn’t his proudest moment. Neither was the door opening to reveal a very concerned Louis, who immediately rushed over to help him up.

“Fuck, you all right? I’m sorry, mate. Didn’t mean to barge in. Just… heard the clatter and got worried, so I… yeah.” He guided Harry over to sit him down on his bed. Louis’ hands were surprisingly firm and steady and Harry had never wanted to crawl under his bed and melt into the floorboards more. “Shit, you don’t have a concussion, do you?”

“No, you just… you startled me a little? Don’t worry about it, really.” Not a concussion, no. Just about to get a coronary, but that was more likely related to Louis’s hand still resting on his shoulder. Harry was definitely not already composing a sad love ballad in his head, complete with a violin solo.

“Well, I do, which is why I brought you, um…” Louis straightened up and smiled sheepishly as he lifted the bag of frozen peas in his hand. Harry tried not to tear up, because nobody but Mum, Gemma and occasionally Geoff had ever shown this kind of concern for him. That wasn’t a good enough reason to get emotional over it though. Maybe he did have a concussion.

“Here,” Louis pressed the bag gently against the reddened side of Harry’s face. Their fingers brushed when Harry took over, and for one crazy moment he wondered if he was hallucinating. “Should keep the swelling down, yeah? Helped when I hurt my knee at a footie game last year.”

Harry remembered that. Definitely recalled trying to subtly wheedle information about Louis’ wellbeing out of a very clueless Liam. “Thank you. You didn’t have to.”

“I brought you painkillers too, just in case.” Louis fished a bottle out of his too tight jeans and put it down on the mattress next to Harry’s hip, because he was an actual angel. His hair smelled like strawberries and vanilla. Harry was pretty sure that counted as evidence.

“Thank you,” Harry repeated, wishing his ability to articulate himself didn’t sink so far below zero every time Louis was near. “Really, I… you’re always so nice to me. Thanks.”

He dropped his gaze to his socked feet, grateful that he had the peas to hide his blush behind.

“Yeah, of course,” Louis said, as if it was no big deal. Which it wasn’t, not really, Harry reckoned. Funny how his pounding heart didn’t seem to get the memo. “Come fetch me if you’re feeling queasy, yeah?”

Harry swallowed past his dry throat and managed a small smile, eyes flicking up to Louis’ unfairly stunning face. “Okay.”

“Okay, good. Try not to die, please, or Anne will kill me.” He grinned, all sharp teeth and eyes crinkling at the edges, and Harry felt so stunned by how pretty Louis’ smile was up close that he almost dropped the peas.

“I’ll… I’ll try not to.”

Louis lingered, hands stuck in the pockets of his jeans and Harry just couldn’t handle it. Couldn’t handle the silence, so he did the first thing he always did when he had no clue what to say. “Hey, Louis?”


“Why did the banana go to the doctor?”

The corner of Louis’ mouth quirked up in a wary half-smile and Harry knew he was digging himself into a deep, deep hole before he even got the point of the joke out. “Because it wasn’t peeling well.”

He met Louis’ unblinking eyes and curled his toes into the carpet, wondering why he hadn’t yet learned to keep his jokes to himself.

He didn’t realise he’d been holding his breath until Louis’ sudden burst of a laugh startled him into exhaling.

“Oh God, that was—”

“Tommo,” Liam bellowed as he ran past Harry’s open door, “Don’t dawdle, the food’s here!”

“Hold your fucking horses!” Louis called out as he glanced over his shoulder. When he looked back at Harry, he lifted his shoulder in a shrug. “Sorry, I better—”

“It’s fine.” Harry had never wanted to put lemons into Liam’s cleats more than he did now. But he wouldn’t, because he wasn’t mean. They’d also ran out of lemons yesterday and Harry had forgotten to restock when he’d gone grocery shopping, so.

“I’m,” Louis started, shuffling towards the doorway, “sorry, are you hungry too? We could save you some. I didn’t think—”

“I’m okay. I, um… I ate already.” He’d cooked it himself too. Maybe he should have mentioned that, but Louis was already halfway out of his room, the chance to woo Louis with his incredible domestic skills gone with him.

“Hey,” Louis said as he peeked back in, his face the very picture of mischief. “Peel better.”

In Harry’s haste to muffle his embarrassing bark of a laugh, he dropped the bag of frozen peas on his foot. Luckily, Louis was already gone.

Harry buried his face in the pillow and tried not to giggle like a lunatic on crack. He was really in fucking love with that boy, and it wasn’t getting any better.


He couldn’t look Louis in the eye. The last time that had happened, it was after he’d accidentally thought of Louis during his special shower time and felt incredibly guilty afterwards. Somehow, this time it was even worse. He worried he might turn to mush the second he actually looked at Louis. Louis, who sat down next to Liam at the kitchen counter, both of them staring at Harry as he tried to make a sandwich with shaky hands.

“So, Harry,” Liam started and Harry was so distraught he put mustard on his sandwich even though he hated mustard. “I hope you won’t be a little snitch and tell on us.”

“What?” Harry paused. A piece of ham slipped out of his fingers and landed on the counter with a splat. His cheeks burned, and he focused very hard on avoiding Louis’ face because his brain kept replaying flashbacks of his very vivid dream like it was a bloody movie reel. It hadn’t even been naughty. Just dumb, and Harry tried not blush even harder because he’d dreamed of holding Louis’ hand, of Louis pulling Harry to a stop under the streetlamp in front of their house so he could lean in to kiss Harry on his cheek, and somehow Harry was sure Louis would take one look at him and know.

“What Liam is so eloquently trying to say,” Louis interjected, “is that we’re going to throw a very posh party here.”

Liam snorted.

“Yes, Liam, posh. Because someone’s bound to bring wine too, and I’m sure that makes it a very posh affair. Anyway,” Louis said with a burdened sigh, “We would very much appreciate it if you didn’t tell Anne and Geoff? It’s not like we won’t clean up before they come back from their little… eh, anniversary shagfest.”

Liam’s loud groan was one of those rare moments Harry found himself relating to his stepbrother.

“There is no shagging. They’re too old. All they do is sleep and hug. That’s all, okay? Okay.”

“All right, Payno,” Louis said, his tone playful and warm and Harry wanted so badly to be teased by Louis that he busied himself with tearing lettuce into tiny pieces instead. “I’ll let you live in your delusion. Until you do something shitty, in which case, I’ll be happy to remind you again.”

Liam dropped his forehead on top of his folded arms with a grunt of someone who had given up a long time ago.

Harry was so preoccupied with trying not to meet Louis’ eyes, or feeling all prickly when Louis rubbed Liam’s back, that he almost missed being addressed. Again. It was a good thing he didn’t have a history of heart diseases because his heartbeat had sped up so fast he could feel it pulsing in his ears.

“So, will you?” Louis asked, leaning in closer with his elbows propped on the counter. “Keep our secret?”

Harry made the mistake of meeting Louis’ eyes. He should have been used to his face by now, but the sight of sunlight catching on Louis’ eyelashes and shattering off the light blue of his irises still caught Harry unaware. Still made him unsteady on his feet, mouth running dry as he struggled to see past the tunnel vision of Louis’ face that turned the rest of the world into a meaningless blur.

“I,” he opened his mouth and swallowed hard, relieved that he managed to make any sound at all, “Yeah?”

“Yeah?” Louis repeated, sharp canines flashing in a pleased grin and fuck, Harry should really put that knife down before he accidentally sliced off his fingers.

“Yeah, okay. I will. Keep your, um… your secret.”

Louis leaped out of the chair with a loud whoop and bounced around the counter to pull Harry into a quick, one-armed hug. Before Harry could even draw a proper breath or acknowledge that his bones had not, in fact, turned into jelly, Louis was already scuttling off and pulling Liam along.

It took Harry five minutes until he could move again.


The party was far from posh. It was full of drunk teenagers and soon-to-be carpet stains and stifling breathed-out air that made Harry’s head feel like cotton for the five minutes he’d darted downstairs. He’d never felt more as though he didn’t belong, so he’d just escaped back to his room with a bottle of wine, clambered out of the window and settled down with his back resting against the wall of the house, legs stretched out on the dirty roof tiles. If he hadn’t drank one third of the bottle already, he reckoned he’d have balked at getting his favourite pair of sweats dirty. As it was, he just tucked the bottle of red wine between his thighs and tilted his head back to look up at the cloudy night sky.

He could still hear the dull throb of music, feel the walls vibrate to the beat of the bass. Couldn’t help but wonder what was wrong with him. Why he couldn’t find it in himself to be down there and enjoy it rather than hiding out on the roof with unkempt hair and a threadbare T-shirt with a hole under his armpit.

“At least I’ve got you, Don Pinot. You’re a good mate.” He pursed his lips over the rim and let the bittersweet liquid splash into his mouth. It burned his throat on the way down, settled in his chest like a little ball of French sunlight.

He caught the drop about to spill over with the tip of his tongue, and why wasn’t anyone making use of his nimble tongue skills? The world was missing out. He was too. People were probably snogging under his very roof right now. He wanted to snog someone too, was that so wrong? Maybe he’d just kiss Don Pinot, see if he cared.

The upward slide of the window right by his shoulder almost made him spill wine all over himself. He startled, drew his legs up to his chest and stopped licking Don Pinot’s rim because what the fuck. That was his room someone had just invaded and this was his roof, invitors not… invited. Wait. That sounded wrong. Eh. Harry was too tipsy to care.

All he could see of the intruder at first were shapely calves and strong thighs and the round curve of a bum in tight, tight jeans, and okay. Maybe they could stay for a bit.

“What are you doing here?” the voice asked once the rest of the boy’s body slipped into view and Harry had to blink, push the glasses further up his nose and wonder whether the wine had been mixed with absinthe.

“It’s my… um, my room.”

“Oh, right. Didn’t realise. Sorry, mate.” Not sounding particularly sorry at all, Louis just sat down as if Harry wasn’t about to fly out of his skin. “Still doesn’t explain why you’re out here.”

He’d climbed out here because the wine he’d snuck in from the kitchen had told him it was a brilliant idea. That he wouldn’t feel as lonely as he had in the middle of a crowd. Who was he to argue? “Wanted quiet.” He burped.

“Are you drunk?” Louis asked and his skin was so golden Harry kind of wanted to touch it to see if it would leave glitter on his fingertips.

“No, sir. I don’t… do that. Sort of thing.” He picked at the already peeling corner of the wine’s label and let it flutter to the roof. Don Pinot was wild enough to not mind being naked in company of strangers. “’M responsible. A very young adult.”

“Mate, you shouldn’t be sitting here if you’re out of it. Might fall off.”

“Not that high.” He rested his head back against the wall and closed his eyes to keep the world from swaying. “Liam’s higher.” He giggled at his own pun. No wonder he got straight As.

“Awful,” Louis said, but not in a mean way, Harry didn’t think. In the way he sometimes teased his friends. Then again, maybe Harry was just delusional. “Be a good lad and hand me the bottle. It’s rude not to share, you know.”

Harry hugged it close to his chest. He and Don Pinot had a connection. Mates for life. Kissing buddies. Until the last sip did them apart. “I promised not to let go. This door is big enough to hold both of us.”

“If you start singing My Heart Will Go On, I’m going to have to put you in a chokehold.”

If he had, Harry wasn’t ashamed to admit he’d have nuzzled Louis’ armpit and called it the best day ever. The fact he’d caught the Titanic reference clearly meant he was Harry’s soulmate. “Every night in my dreams, I see you, I feel yo—

Louis smacked his palm over Harry’s open mouth. “No.”

In an effort to look down at the hand in question, Harry’s eyes crossed so much he got dizzy for a bit.

“’S a classic,” he muffled into Louis’ palm and wondered why Louis wasn’t running away, screaming about catching Harry’s nerd cooties.

“You’re three sheets to the wind, babe.”

Louis took his hand off, but Harry didn’t even mind, because babe. BabeBabeBabe.

“You have dimples.”

Harry blinked “Oh.”

“A stunning revelation, I’m sure,” Louis said dryly, shaking his head. Then he poked his finger into Harry’s cheek, nodded in approval when Harry’s dimple deepened beneath his fingertip. Harry was practically rounding the second base with the man of his dreams. His sober self would not believe this.

“Why are you here?” Harry asked, his dimple already missing Louis’ touch now that he dropped his hand. Harry wanted Louis to touch his face forever and ever.

“Turning the question around on me, aren’t you?”

“Don’t have to tell me if you don’t want. ‘S okay.” He gave Don Pinot one last mournful look before he offered him up. His mum always said that sharing was caring, and being tipsy was no excuse for bad manners. “You can have him.”

“Is it a he now?”

“He’s French. Not a gentleman though. Proper dirty.” Their fingers brushed when Louis took the bottle off him. Harry wondered why he hadn’t offered it straight away. And then it happened. Louis’ lips pressed against the rim, the very rim Harry’s lips had been on a mere minute ago and this was it. They might as well have kissed. Tonight was wild.

“I’m not normally into wine, but… gift horse and mouth and stuff. It’s not tequila, but it’ll do.”

Harry knew nothing about horses, but Louis was wiping his wine-stained mouth with the back of his hand and Harry briefly considered offering up his own mouth to do the wiping.

“Do I have something on my face?” Louis asked, hand reaching up to wipe again.

“Just… too much pretty.” Fuck, had he said that inside his brain or out loud?

Louis’ hand stilled, dropping down to pick at the label, a bashful smile on his face. Bashful. Didn’t he know how pretty he was? Harry had always thought he must have heard it at least a hundred times a day, because if Harry was his friend he’d have been telling Louis at every opportunity, and Louis had a lot of friends.

“All right, mate. I think I’m cutting you off.”

“’M not drunk.” He sat on his hands to keep himself from running them through Louis’ soft fringe.

“Of course not.” Louis grinned and stretched his legs out. The tips of his toes barely reached the point where Harry’s ankles were. Harry knew he was taller, of course. There wasn’t much he hadn’t obsessively observed about Louis, and imagining tucking Louis into his arms, fitting so perfectly against him, had fuelled many a dream, but. He’d never really felt the difference until now. Louis’ personality had always been big and bright and loud enough to fill entire rooms, made him appear so much bigger and more intimidating than he actually was.

“Why don’t you ever wear socks?”

“Are we playing twenty questions now?”

Harry didn’t know whether he should be endeared at Louis’ sharp-toothed grin or annoyed that he answered questions with questions, the centre of him always boarded up with defensive humour. Harry wanted to get to his centre very much a lot. Lick his way to it, if that was what it took.

“My feet get sweaty if I wear socks in my shoes and I hate it,” Louis admitted after a lull of expectant silence. Harry wanted to keep learning random, useless facts about this boy until he was old and grey and all their blue-eyed, curly-haired babies were grown up. Harry wanted at least six of them, so they could play impromptu football matches in their back garden even though Harry was awful at it.

“You can take your shoes off, if you want. ‘S just me here. I’m not wearing any either.” Just socks with laughing bananas on them. If Harry was in possession of all his faculties, he may have found this mortifying. As it was, he just wriggled his toes and smiled.

Louis turned his face to look at him, just watching quietly without saying a word. When he smiled slowly back and toed off his Vans, the warmth of this entire ridiculous situation expanded in Harry’s chest, and he hadn’t even taken another sip of the wine.

“I squeezed out all Liam’s toothpaste and put lube in there instead, because yesterday he only ordered pineapple pizza, even though I told him I didn’t like it,” Harry confessed because he didn’t want to leave this one-sided. “Please, don’t tell him.”

Louis let out a startled laugh, eyes crinkling at the edges. Harry felt his own mouth stretch into a wide smile, worried for a while that he’d be unable to un-smile ever again. But. He’d made Louis smile. He’d made Louis smile. Again. Nobody but his mum and Gemma ever found his jokes funny, but they were pretty much obligated to by the unwritten family law.

“I won’t tell,” Louis promised and literally crossed his heart, just in case Harry had forgotten just how cute Louis was, which Harry would never. “As long as you tell me all about his reaction once he finds out.”

The force of his nod made the world spin for a bit. Louis actually wanted to talk to him again. “He’ll be so mad.”

“Nah. He’ll just stomp around a bit and get over it ten seconds in, I reckon.” Louis nudged Harry’s socked foot with his bare one. Harry almost toppled over at the unexpected contact. Couldn’t help but sigh wistfully at how painfully cute Louis’ feet were. Harry wanted to nuzzle his ankles. “Why do you have lube anyway?”

Harry’s mind drew a blank. He could almost hear static. “Um…”

Louis just laughed and cradled Don Pinot to his chest. “Just teasing, Harold. Don’t die of a heart attack now. I’m shit at CPR.”

Harold. That wasn’t even Harry’s name, but Louis could call him that any time he wanted. Really. “I use it for door hinges,” he blurted out, face probably as red as those trousers Louis had been so keen on wearing last year. “Makes them un-squeaky.”

“Hinges. Sure,” Louis said with an amused quirk of his eyebrow. “Whatever you say.”

Harry hid his flaming face in his hands, would have quite liked for a hole to open up right now and swallow him whole.

Soft, gentle fingers circled his wrist, tugged his hand away from his face and just. Louis was touching him with his actual hands. Skin on skin. And his hands were a bit chilly, but Harry didn’t care at all because he’d have confessed hundreds of embarrassing things if it meant Louis touched him right after.

“Hey,” Louis said, his thumb rubbing back and forth over Harry’s rabitting pulse point. He was honestly feeling faint, everything but Louis flickering out of focus. “It’s all right. Would be a bit hypocritical of me to judge you when I’ve got one too.”

The squeak of a noise Harry made had better not been real. “You do?”

“Yeah,” Louis said with a wink and let go.

The skin of Harry’s wrist burned as if he’d held it over open flame for a second too long and he couldn’t stop himself from looking down at Louis’ dainty hands. Couldn’t help but imagine him spread out on his bed, naked and sweaty and whimpering, trying to fit his fingers in one by one or wrapped around his lube-slick cock. Fuck.

Louis’ throat bobbed up and down as he lifted the bottle to his lips and swallowed a mouthful. If there was a one-to-ten scale of being uncomfortably turned on, Harry would have shot right past the ten and reached a hundred.

“Not half bad,” Louis said as he stared down at the half-ripped label on the bottle. His profile was the prettiest profile Harry had ever seen. If he could draw anything past stick figures, he’d have painted Louis on every available surface. Maybe even on the Head Teacher’s desk and the side wall of the gym.

“You look really lovely.” What the bloody hell was wrong with his mouth to brain filter tonight? Christ.

He saw Louis duck his head out of the corner of his eye, because he refused to watch his reaction dead-on.

“I… I didn’t even get to do my hair. Didn’t have enough time ‘cause Mum needed help with the girls. ‘M a mess.”

Harry blinked down at his banana socks and swallowed hard, spurred on, because Louis had to know. “No, you’re… I like it. I like it soft. It’s…” Makes me want to lie down next to you in a field somewhere with your hand in mine and feel it tickle my face when you let me kiss you. “It makes you look very cute.”

“Cute!” Louis huffed. “I’d quite like to be handsome and rugged instead, thanks.”

“You’re that, too,” Harry mumbled truthfully and picked at the loose fabric of his sweats over his knee.

“Thanks,” Louis said quietly, fingers fidgeting with Don Pinot’s jaggedly torn label. “You’re quite cute too, even with your hair like this.”

Harry ran his hand self-consciously through the mess on his head and grimaced. “I don’t like it like this. Like it not messy.”

“I figured, what with your room being all clean and in order. You’d balk if you ever set foot in mine. It should come with a ‘biological haphazard’ warning.”

Harry really hoped Louis hadn’t seen the journal on his desk and noticed Harry Tomlinson doodled on the spine or Harry would have to change his identity and relocate to another continent. “I don’t mind if other people make a mess. I like to clean.”

Louis turned to face him. “Are you for real? What kind of seventeen-year-old are you, babe?”

“A weird one, apparently.” He drew his knees up and rested his chin on top.

“I didn’t,” Louis started, hand reaching out as if to touch. He dropped it before it could ever make contact. “I didn’t mean it in a bad way.”

“No, it’s okay. I know.” The smile on his face felt a bit heavy. “Still true though. I am weird. I don’t mind, really. I like the way I am and I’d never want to change to please someone else.”

“That’s good, you know. I wish I was more like you.”

Harry sat there for a moment, unsure of what to say, because Louis wasn’t perfect, no. Harry was in love, but he wasn’t stupid. But. Louis was a nice person. Impulsive and sweet and funny and. A million other things Harry could fill two more journals with.

“Why would you?” Harry asked, his heart picking up speed. “At least people want to listen to what you say. Want to… be close to you. Kiss you, even. I’ve never—” He snapped his mouth shut and looked resolutely ahead.

“Harry,” Louis said, shifting around to sit Indian-style, facing him, being so, so close Harry had trouble breathing evenly. Why had he even said that? StupidStupidStupid. “Surely someone has… you know. Like, at least a little bit? Like, in fifth grade or something?”

Harry shrugged, not really keen on coming off as even more pathetic. He was suddenly feeling a lot more sober. “Not really. Not even in kindergarten. It’s all right. It’s probably not even as nice as everyone says anyway.”

“Fuck it.” Warm palms cupped Harry’s face and coaxed him to turn to Louis. Louis, who was so close Harry could feel Louis’ breath tickle his own lips and count all Louis’ eyelashes.

“W-what are you doing?”

“Can I? Like, kiss you?”

“I don’t want you to kiss me because you’re… if you’re feeling sorry for me,” he said, voice unsteady, and shit. Could his brain shut up for one second and let him have nice things? Apparently not.

“What if I want to?” Louis said, determined, looking kind of like he did every time he was about to do a penalty shot. It didn’t feel right.

Harry’s cheeks burned where Louis was touching him and this was something Harry had been dreaming of for two years, but. “Why would you?”

Louis’ thumbs rubbed over his cheekbones, tongue flicking out to wet his lips and Harry was so, so weak. Felt like he was about to buzz out of his skin. Either that or throw up. He really hoped he wouldn’t throw up. “I don’t know,” Louis replied honestly. “I guess I haven’t kissed anyone in a while. Don’t you want to?”

I want you to kiss me because you like me. I want it to mean something, he thought and circled Louis’ wrists with shaking hands, not knowing whether he wanted to push Louis away or hold onto him so he wouldn’t change his mind and leave. “I’m—” Pulling them off his face was a lot harder than he’d expected. Harder then admitting to his mum that he liked boys, even. “I’m… I do. I just. Not like this, if that’s okay.”

“No, yeah. Of course it’s… like, I’d never do anything you wouldn’t want. I didn’t mean to, like, assume. Fuck. I’m sorry, Harry, I—” Their hands untangled as Louis rose to his knees, shuffled away. “I’m really sorry.”

I’m sorry too. He kept it to himself. “Don’t be. It’s all righ—”

The rest of his sentence was cut off by the sound of someone retching into the gardenias below. And they just. Wouldn’t. Fucking. Stop.

“Christ, I feel like I’m watching an exorcism,” Louis said, studiously avoiding Harry’s eyes as he looked down at the front yard. “I better—” He jerked his thumb towards the window. “The lads are probably looking for me.”

Why are you here then? Harry wanted to ask, but didn’t. “Yeah, you better go.”

As he watched Louis distractedly pull up the window, he tried to tell himself he’d made the right choice. It was really fucking hard, especially with that bum practically in his face as Louis climbed back into his room.

“Hey, Harry?” Louis said as he ducked his head in, cheeks a little pink and eyes serious. “I’m glad I got to talk to you.”

“Me too,” Harry said sincerely, the most sober he’d been in the last hour.

It wasn’t until the window closed that he realised Louis had left his shoes behind.


Chapter Text

“I think he’s avoiding me. Do you think he’s avoiding me?” Harry was hiding beneath his covers with his phone tucked between his ear and the mattress, his hair getting increasingly more tangled. It was getting rather stuffy under there, but he hoped it would decrease the chances of being overheard.

“I think you’re thinking too much,” Gemma said, and yeah. Maybe she was right, but.

“He hasn’t been around all week and every time I see him at school, he just looks the other way.” Harry picked at a loose thread hanging off the short sleeve of his T-shirt and sighed. “He didn’t even come by to take his shoes back.”

“Promise me you didn’t do something weird. Like, sniff them.”

“No!” He might have hugged them. A little. But he’d still been on the edge of tipsy, so that was neither here nor there. “Do you think I should just give them to Liam to give back to Louis?”

“No, I think you should give them back yourself. Come on, little bro, use that Styles charm and get him. Haven’t I taught you anything?” She sounded too amused. Harry was not here to be mocked.

“I’ll never get him, Gem. He’s like… he only offered to kiss me because he felt bad for me.” Harry hugged one of the five pillows hoarded on his bed to his chest and tried not feel too sorry for himself. “He doesn’t like me like that. He was probably just as drunk as I was.”

“Well, if he doesn’t like you then he’s daft. I mean, you’re annoying, but we look alike, which means you’re really fucking cute, all right? Trust me, I’m a doctor.”

“Not yet, you aren’t. And being a dentist doesn’t even count.”

“You’re cute,” she insisted in the same tone she’d used when threatening him with manslaughter after he’d borrowed her blue nail polish once.


“Say you’re cute.”


“Say it or I’m calling Mum and telling her you had a party at our house and got drunk.”

He buried his face in the pillow and tucked the covers tighter over his head as he mumbled, “Fine. Bloody hell. I’m… I’m cute.”

“What was that?”

“I’m cute,” he repeated, really glad nobody could overhear.

“Yes, you are,” she said, satisfied. “And don’t you forget it.”

“I won’t.” He sighed and reluctantly added, “I miss you.”

“I miss you too. Not too much though. At least no one here dares stealing my cheesecake.”

He smiled into the sheets. “I just like your food better. I can’t help it.”

“The things I have to put up with.”

“I know the feeling,” he replied.

“Don’t get cheeky with me now. I’ve still got pictures of you with Mum’s red lipstick on and I’m not afraid to use them.”

Harry groaned. “I was, like, five!”

Someone knocked on his door. He almost dropped his phone in his haste to untangle himself from the covers. “Someone’s at my door. Gotta go.”

“All right, love. Say hi to everyone for me, yeah?”

“Of course. Love you.”

“Love you.”

He ended the call just as the door opened, Liam and his furrowed brows standing there in nothing but basketball shorts.

“What’s up?” Harry asked, really bloody grateful that he’d never found Liam attractive.

“Mate, some old lady is looking for you.”

“Oh! Yeah. Cheers.” He darted down the stairs past a very baffled Liam.

He’d promised their elderly neighbour Mrs. Riley from down the street that he’d mind her dog while she went to visit her daughter in Manchester. Which was how he ended up squatting down on their neighbour’s lawn an hour later, in a staring contest with a poodle. “Why can’t you just go? We’ve already been here for fifteen minutes.”

Martha wagged her tail, which probably meant I’ll do whatever the hell I want and you can’t stop me in dog speak. Harry wasn’t very fluent.

“Come on. Please?”

Despite Harry’s insistence, Martha just happily trotted off to piss on the tree in the front yard for the second time. She was supposed to be going number two. She’d agreed to it. Harry felt cheated.

“Must be nice, not having to wear clothes,” he muttered and frowned down at himself. Sometimes he wished Liam and Geoff hadn’t moved in, so he could still walk around the house naked like the man of the house he was.

“Harry?” a voice asked. Harry knew that voice. Flushed as though he’d developed a bloody Pavlov’s reflex. He lifted his gaze and yeah, Louis stood there. With his hands in his pockets and a curious half-smile on his face, looking beautiful as ever while Harry stared like a creep and fought the urge to dive behind the nearest bushes, because he was wearing his old baggy sweats. He hadn’t even brushed his hair since he’d crawled out from beneath the covers, oh god. “What are you doing here?”

“Um…” Harry thumbed over to Martha, who was… fuck. Of course now she chose to start doing her business, because Harry’s life was just one disaster after another. “Walking our neighbour’s dog, because she can’t today, so… yeah.”

“Wow,” Louis drawled, in a put-off kind of awe, “that is a lot of shit.”

“Oh God.” Harry was well aware he’d have to go pick it up and even more aware that clearly, Louis was never going to mention the almost-kiss, ever. It was probably a good thing, because the last thing Harry wanted to talk about was being so pathetic Louis would have kissed him out of pity. He’d never be anyone’s charity case.

“Well, good luck with… that. Really. You’re going to need it.” Louis grimaced and one dainty hand flicked up to push his fringe off his face. “Is Liam home?”

Harry nodded, expected Louis to wave him off and continue on his way, but instead, he walked up to Harry with the most unreadable expression, guarded and reluctant. He paused a foot away from Harry, and it was too close. Close enough to make Harry hold his breath until he felt almost dizzy with it, his hands twisted around the unhooked leash starting to sweat.


Louis startled a little, his face relaxing into a sheepish smile and then he reached out, faltered right before he could touch Harry’s face. “I’m not sure about your, um…”

If Harry’s brain was still working he’d have expected Louis to pull away and laugh this weird moment off, but. He didn’t. His fingers threaded through Harry’s hair gently, slim fingers working through Harry’s tangled up knots, careful not to knock off his glasses.

“Your hair’s a mess, mate,” Louis said, quietly, only for Harry to hear. “A proper bird’s nest.”

It usually took Harry about twenty minutes each morning to tame his hair, but today was Saturday and he hadn’t been expecting to meet anyone he knew, so he hadn’t even bothered. He’d never made a better choice.

“I was…” He couldn’t even think. Not when Louis’ fingers caught on a snarl and pulled a little too hard and Harry had to think of diseased vaginas so he wouldn’t pop a boner. He wasn’t sure he’d succeeded. “I was under my… my covers. Got a bit…”


He nodded, let out a shaky exhale that he’d berate himself for later. Right now he just wondered if there was a way to ask Louis to keep touching his hair without it getting weird. Or, well, weirder.

“Why were you doing under those covers that it got like this?” Louis’ mouth lifted up in a smirk, one eyebrow arched and oh my god.

“No! I wasn’t… that is, I was on my phone. With Gemma! I wasn’t—”

“Breathe,” Louis said, tugging at his hair a little. “I’m just teasing.”

Harry might have moaned a little, but Christ. Apparently, he had a thing for men, for Louis, playing with his hair. For being teased. VaginasVaginasVaginas.

It wasn’t working.

Louis’ other hand joined in to undo a particularly stubborn knot and all Harry could think of was having Louis’ hands in his hair when he was down on his knees. He met Louis’ eyes and blushed so hard he felt his entire face radiate heat. “It’s not usually this bad. My hair,” he burst out to keep his mind away from Louis’ penis.

“It’s not bad. Just different.” Louis paused, combed Harry’s hair away from his face. “I’m not making you uncomfortable, am I? I just remembered you saying you don’t like it messy so I… I don’t really think before I act, I’m afraid.”

Louis remembered. A stupid random fact about Harry that he’d told Louis while they were both tipsy. The next step was obviously a marriage proposal. Harry had never been harder. “No, I like it. It’s nice.” Please keep petting me.

“I’m all done now anyhow,” Louis said, but his hands lingered for a bit longer before he finally pulled away. It wasn’t until he dropped down a little that Harry noticed Louis had been up on his tippy toes the entire time.

Harry had to blink twice to clear the fog in his head and tried not to whine, hands twitching with the urge to reach out and keep Louis close.

“Thank you.”


How about every day? Would every day work for you? He kept it to himself.

Louis glanced down, gaze slipping right over Harry’s hands oh-so-casually shielding the front of his tented crotch. “You should probably get back to the whole… dog situation.”

Martha was sprawled in the grass, staring up at Harry with a tilted head. He could feel the mocking condescension all the way from there.

Maybe Louis hadn’t noticed. Right?

“I will,” he managed to squeak out.

“Okay then.” All his hopes were dashed to smithereens when Louis turned on his heel and tossed over his shoulder, “Oh, and Harold? Try not to scare any children with that thing.”

Before Harry could get any word out, Louis was already striding away.

It wasn’t until he stood on the lawn with a bag full of dog shit and a rapidly flagging erection that he realised he hadn’t even told Louis he still had his shoes.


It was dark and everyone in the house was already asleep even though the clock had struck midnight only ten minutes ago. So, naturally, Harry tiptoed into the kitchen downstairs to make himself tea in nothing but his polka dot boxers. He was young and wild and free and he’d make a cuppa half-naked, just watch him.

He turned up the volume on his iPod and danced his way to the cupboard to take out his Magical Penises mug. The way hot water made tiny penises pop up on the ceramic was pretty much the best thing science had come up since ever. His sister’s gifts were the best thing ever.

He might have shimmied and shaken his non-existent boobs while waiting for the water to boil, but that was only for him to know.

The kettle switched off.

Harry dropped a bag of black tea into his mug and poured boiling water over it, bum wriggling back and forth. He was just spinning around to do the classic Michael Jackson crotch grab when he spotted someone leaning on the doorjamb. Harry slapped his hand over his mouth to muffle his very manly scream and jumped about a foot in the air, yanking the earphones out once he realised he wasn’t about to be murdered.

“What the… fuck!” His heart was about to break through his ribcage and jump out of his chest. “Louis, what are you—”

“Nice moves,” Louis said, shouldering off the doorjamb. He’d slept over more often recently, and it always made Harry feel equally giddy and anxious all at once. Right now, he was leaning towards the latter. “Any chance you’ve got extra water for me?”

“How long have you been standing there?” Harry asked against his better judgement, turning more horrified by the second, because he’d been acting like an idiot and he was next to naked and Louis was standing there grinning. Harry fiddled with the earphones before he unhooked the iPod from his boxers and put it down on the counter, and now he didn’t know what to do with his hands. Why were they just hanging there?

“Long enough,” Louis said, skin washed pale-blue in the moonlight streaming in through the kitchen blinds as he moved towards the counter, his smile wicked. “Is there any extra water then?”

“Yeah, there should, um… in the kettle.” Harry rubbed the back of his neck, feet curling in. “I thought everyone was asleep.”

“I’m a bit of a night owl, to be honest.” Louis stood up on his toes to reach the top shelf, fingertips only brushing the handle of a mug. “And Liam snores like a bloody see-saw.”

“Yeah, I know. I can hear him all the way to my room sometimes,” Harry said, not thinking at all as he padded over to Louis and reached up to grab the mug, his free hand curling around Louis’ waist to keep his balance. It wasn’t until he set the mug down on the counter that he noticed. Louis’ exhale hit Harry’s jaw, and he was so warm and pliant even through the rumpled fabric of his T-shirt that Harry had to force himself to let go. To step away and pretend he didn’t want to just push Louis against the counter and kneel down so he could kiss shivers into Louis’ hipbones.

“Cheers,” Louis whispered, hands fidgeting with the box of teabags. “You lot are freakishly tall. Feel like I should ask Liam to get me a stepladder.”

“I think we’ve still got this stool thing from when I was younger.” Harry was about two seconds away from dashing down to the basement to look for it. It was a testament to his hopeless infatuation that he’d brave the spider-infested environment so late at night after being forced to sit through Paranormal Activity to keep his mum company yesterday.

“Are you mocking me?” Louis squinted at him.

“I was being serious, actually.”

Louis turned away with the kettle in his hand, just not quickly enough to hide that hint of a smile. Even though Harry was barefoot and standing on cold kitchen tiles, he felt warmth flush all the way down to his toes.

He could watch Louis prepare tea all day. Actually, he could just watch Louis do nothing all day and be entertained for hours. He had it so bad.

“You’re a strange child, Harold.” Louis paused, looked pointedly at Harry’s mug once he was done pouring milk into it and raised his eyebrow. “Let me say that again. Are those dicks?”

“I’m not weird, I promise.” Also, not a bloody child. The hope Harry had been secretly harbouring deflated like a burst balloon.

“Nah, you are a little weird.” Louis shook his head then, seemed to have thought better of it. “No, not weird. Quirky.”

“And that’s better?” Harry carefully lifted his mug to his lips and blew on the surface. Watched the liquid ripple in small waves rather than Louis’ reaction. Harry had never been good at pretending, and the last thing he wanted was for Louis to see the disappointment on his face and start questioning why it was there in the first place.

“Quirky is nice.” Louis pulled at the little curl falling into Harry’s face, tucked it behind Harry’s ear with a painfully tender touch. “Don’t be disrespectful to your elders.”

“You’re only, like, two years older than me and only one year above at school,” Harry muttered, frowning when Louis pulled away. He wanted to very respectfully invade Louis’ personal space and make him see. Possibly with face kisses.

“Still your elder,” Louis said with a shrug.

“I’ve still got your shoes, you know,” Harry said, spurred on by a sudden burst of courage. The unspoken remember how you offered to be my first kiss made the air between them turn heavy.


“Why,” he cleared his throat, knees shaking, “why did you offer to… you know. Like, was it because you felt sorry for me?”

“I wasn’t… I’m sorry about that.” Louis raked his hand through his already mussed up hair. “I was a bit drunk. I wasn’t really thinking.”


“I should have said something sooner,” Louis said, eyes trained on his tea. “Should have apologised for being so… fuck, I’m awful at this. I just, I didn’t know how to approach you, exactly.” Under his breath, Louis muttered, “Doing a bang up job of it right now too, great.

“I don’t want you to apologize. It’s not like,” I didn’t want it, because I did, I still do, “there’s anything to apologize for. I’d have said yes, but,” he admitted, even though he felt like running away and hiding in the basement until Louis went home, “I just wanted it to be… I just want it to be with someone who, like, fancies me. So it means something. It’s bloody stupid, I know.” No wonder Louis saw him as a child, as Liam’s nerdy little stepbrother who couldn’t even get a snog in because he was too old-fashioned and undesirable.

“It’s not stupid,” Louis said softly. When Harry lifted his head, Louis was already looking. “Sometimes I wish I’d have waited too. It wasn’t all that stellar for me, to be honest. Just, too much tongue and saliva, was proper gross.”

Harry choked on a laugh, his tea nearly splashing over the rim. He felt too naked all of a sudden, standing there in just his pants and nothing to hide behind while Louis was fully dressed in his Stone Roses T-shirt and plaid pyjama bottoms.

“So, promise you’re not, like, mad at me? For that whole thing,” Louis said, and maybe Harry wasn’t the only one feeling naked.

“No,” he said, a little bit louder than he’d planned, but the emphasis was rather needed. “Louis, is that why… have you been avoiding me?”

He half-expected Louis to laugh and call him bonkers for assuming Louis had thought of him at all, but Louis just shrugged and ducked his head. “Maybe a little bit. Didn’t think you’d notice.”

Well, no, of course Louis didn’t. He didn’t know that Harry had the biggest crush on him and might as well have had a Louis-compass glued to his arse. “Just haven’t seen you around, that’s all,” Harry mumbled and looked down at his toes.

“I felt a bit awkward, to be honest.”

Harry knew awkward. He’d called his teacher ‘Mum’ twice in front of his classmates at the age of fifteen, and forgot to close the tab with vibrating dildos before lending Geoff his computer. Geoff had never mentioned it, but Harry knew he knew.

“I could never be mad at you, really. Not for something like that. You were just being nice.”

Louis snorted. “That’s sweet of you, Harry, but I was being a berk. I shouldn’t have just assumed that you’d want to do it with me, just because you haven’t before.”

But I do want to. Do it with you. Do everything with you. Kisses and blowjobs and marriage. Just, can you like me first, please? “It’s all right.”

“Okay then,” Louis said, eyes flicking between the clock on the wall and the mug cradled in his hands. “It’s late, we should probably…”

“Yeah, go ahead, I’ll just… put stuff away.”

Louis smiled, sweet and subtle and so bloody beautiful Harry’s coherent thought process staggered for a second.

“Goodnight, Curly,” he said and pulled at the stray curl at Harry’s temple before turning on his heel and shuffling out of the kitchen on bare feet. Harry had never wanted to kiss someone’s insteps so bad before.


“Goodnight,” Harry said to no one, really bloody grateful Louis couldn’t read his thoughts and see him planning their spring wedding.


Chapter Text

So what if it was Saturday and Harry sat on the sofa, watching Tangled on DVD? Even though he was alone while everyone else was out and about, he was still very much a rebel. The extra bowl of ice cream he knew he wasn’t supposed to have would attest to that. He’d stay up late too, maybe even do laundry after midnight.

When the doorbell rang, Harry’s life flashed before his eyes. His hand jerked and the spoonful of ice cream he’d been about to shovel into his mouth plopped down on his T-shirt. He was going to be murdered and quartered and stashed somewhere in the woods, fuck shit fuck. The last thing he’d told Mum was that he’d heat up the lasagne if he got hungry, and he hadn’t even deleted his Internet history.

He turned down the volume on the TV, hastily wiped the ice cream off with a napkin and crept towards the front door on socked feet, silent like Dusty, who was currently watching him from a few feet away with an unimpressed expression.

The doorbell rang again. Harry barely heard it over the pounding of his heart. The slightest drizzle outside didn’t make this any less ominous.

When he peeked through the peephole, he wasn’t quite sure if he was relieved or even more frantic. He opened the door anyway.

Louis stood there, hands in the pockets of his unzipped hoodie, no shoes on, unfairly beautiful even though he was wearing his baggy plaid pyjama bottoms. Even damp with rain, he managed to look untouchable.

“Um,” Harry said, trying not to panic even more because he had a chocolate stain on his chest like a clumsy child. “Hi?”

“Harry,” Louis said, looking just as taken aback as Harry felt. “Is Liam in?”

Harry’s heartbeat slowly but surely slowed down from about-to-get-a-heart-attack to Louis-is-so-handsome level. The difference wasn’t that big. “He’s away. Gone with Geoff on a weekend fishing trip. Father-son bonding, I guess.”

“Shit, I forgot.” Nervous fingers flicked up to push aside the fringe sticking out from beneath Louis’ beanie. He looked a bit peaky, a little pale. Harry wanted to ask Louis if he was all right, but it probably wasn’t his place. “Why didn’t you go with them?”

He didn’t really feel like he should, even though Geoff had invited him. Would have felt too much as if he was butting in where he didn’t belong. “Thought I’d get to spend time with Mum,” he said instead.

“Oh, is Anne here then?”

“No,” Harry admitted, cheeks burning. “She went out with her friends from work.”


They lapsed into an expectant silence that Harry refused to call awkward. He’d never really dealt well with those.

“Do you,” he rushed out, “do you want to come in? Like, I wasn’t doing anything anyway and your… you’ve only got socks on. Don’t want you to catch a cold.”

“But if you wanted the house to yourself, I wouldn’t want to—”

“No,” Harry said, shaking his head so hard he almost got whiplash. “I was getting pretty lonely, actually. Please come in?”

“If you’re sure,” Louis said quietly, and for a second his chin quivered. Harry felt as if someone had punched him right through his sternum, and he clenched his fingers around the doorknob so he wouldn’t pull Louis into a hug.

He stepped aside instead, let out a breath he didn’t realise he’d been holding when Louis finally shuffled past him and into the house. His eyes wouldn’t meet Harry’s.

Harry closed the door and followed him in, ready to defend his film choice once Louis settled down on the sofa in the living room. In the end he didn’t have to, because Louis just sat there and stared blankly at the TV, devoid of any of his trademark teasing commentary.

“Do you want tea?” Harry asked, because he didn’t know what else to do and a cup of tea usually made him feel better when things got shitty.

Louis gave a small shrug. Harry took it as a yes and hurried to the kitchen to prepare the best cup of chamomile tea he had ever prepared, in record time. For some reason, it felt wrong to leave Louis alone for too long, even though he might not have looked too keen to talk. Maybe precisely because of that.

Harry sat down next to him and handed him the mug, their fingers brushing when Louis took it off his hands. Louis’ own were chilly and Harry itched to cup them in his palms until they were warm again.

“I was watching Tangled. Hope you don’t mind. I can put it on from the beginning if you want?” Just as Louis smiled faintly and said it was all right, Harry remembered the carton of Ben & Jerry’s sitting innocuously on the table. “Sorry, do you want ice cream? It’s chocolate fudge. I can bring another spoon.”

“Just tea’s all right, thank you. Maybe later?” Louis said, eyes halfway shut as he took a slow, steady inhale. “This smells nice. What kind is it?”

“Chamomile. Thought it might,” soothe you, make you feel better, “you might like it. If not, I can just make you a regular cuppa with milk.”

“No. No, I’m sure I’ll like it.” He cradled the mug to his chest, lips pursed above the rim as he softly blew on the surface.

“Okay, let me just,” Harry jumped to his feet and glanced down at Louis’ dirty, socked feet, because he just wanted Louis to be comfortable. Maybe he was being annoying, but he couldn’t bloody help it. “Let me get you clean socks, yeah?” On second thought, probably a dry T-shirt and a pair of joggers too.

“I’m sorry. I’m just making a proper mess of everything—”

“No, you’re not! It’s fine,” Harry interrupted, more than eager to make the frantically apologetic look on Louis’ face go away. “It’s okay, no worries. Just take them off. I was about to do laundry anyway. Kind of need to, at this point.” He glanced down at his stained T-shirt with a self-deprecating smile. “I can wash them for you and lend you some of my stuff in the meantime.”

For a moment Louis looked as though he wanted to say something but couldn’t, as if he wasn’t quite sure where to start, so he just nodded and said, “Cheers.”

He pulled off his socks and followed Harry up the stairs. His feet must have been freezing cold. Harry was going fucking mad with all the questions burning at the back of his throat, but he kept his mouth shut because the last thing Louis needed was an interrogation from someone he didn’t even know that well.

When they entered Harry’s room, he didn’t turn on the lights, even though it was already growing dark outside. Didn’t seem right, somehow. It was always easier to pretend everything was all right when the lights were off.

Louis just stood in the middle of his room, looking smaller than ever while Harry rummaged through his closet.

“You can toss the socks in the hamper. It’s right by the desk,” Harry said, caught Louis following his direction from the corner of his eye.

“Here,” Harry said when he finally collected a variety of comfy clothes for Louis to choose from and set the bundle down on his bed. “You can get changed here. Wash up in the bathroom, if you want. I’ll be downstairs, yeah?”

Without waiting for a reply, he just grabbed a clean T-shirt for himself, the hamper basket, and left Louis to it.

When Louis finally came down, Harry had turned the washing machine on, put the melting ice cream away for now, and was sitting cross-legged on the sofa. Harry’s plain white T-shirt hung a bit loose on Louis’ small frame, the joggers rolled up at the ankles. He must have left his beanie upstairs, the ends of his hair damp. Harry really wished he was in the position to draw Louis into a cuddle.

Harry looked at the TV instead, tried to shift his whole attention to Rapunzel hitting Flynn with a frying pan so Louis wouldn’t feel self-conscious. Maybe Harry should let his own hair grow out just like that.

“Thank you for the clothes,” Louis said, the heat of his body making the little hairs on Harry’s arm stand up. “They’re comfy.”

“No problem, really.”

Louis picked up the mug again, knees drawn up to his chest. He’d chosen the fluffy socks with monkeys on them. They were Harry’s favourite.

They stayed silent and watched the film, but Harry couldn’t really focus. Not when every part of his body ached with the need to just reach out, even though he knew he shouldn’t.

“My parents are getting a divorce,” Louis said after a while, almost too quietly for Harry to catch.

“I’m… I’m sorry.” He felt stupid the second the words left his mouth. That wouldn’t really help, would it? He felt powerless.

Louis laughed wetly, without humour. The urge to do something physically hurt. “Fuck, I’m… this is dumb anyway. Loads of people get divorced every day. They’ve been fighting a lot recently. It’s probably better.”

“Doesn’t mean it’s any less painful for, um… for everyone,” Harry said.

Louis shrugged as if he wasn’t the one touched by this too, even though he was sitting right next to Harry folded in on himself, looking more vulnerable than ever.

“I just ran,” Louis mumbled after a beat of silence, hands clutching the mug with a white-knuckled grip, his eyes trained on the telly. The flickering light of the TV danced over his face, made him look small and breakable. “I didn’t want to stay and watch him leave. I’m so fucking selfish.”

“No, you’re not,” Harry protested, shifting around to face Louis completely. “You’re not selfish.”

“But I left the girls all alone. And Mum. I should be there to take care of everyone.”

“It’s not your job, Louis.” Harry fought the urge to touch Louis, and lost. His fingers brushed over Louis’ shoulder, carefully watching for a reaction. When Louis didn’t flinch, Harry settled his palm at the nape of Louis’ neck, hoping the touch would offer a little bit of comfort. The drying strands of Louis’ hair tickled his knuckles. “You’re not the parent. It shouldn’t be up to you to take care of everyone.”

“It is though. It is and I just… who’s going to take care of everything if not I? Mum’s probably gonna have to take on more shifts and I’ll have to look after the girls more often and maybe get another part-time job,” Louis said, increasingly frantic. “I don’t know how I’m going to do it.”

Harry stroked Louis’ hair, watched him swallow hard. “Your dad’s still going to be there to help with that, money stuff and everything. It’s not up to you.”

“I don’t want to drop out of footie team,” Louis whispered, as if it was a dirty confession. As if wanting something for himself was bad. “It’s not fucking fair.”

“I can help you babysit. I love kids, I’ll… I won’t mind.”

Louis faced him then, eyes watery, the corners of his mouth turned down. “It’s not your problem either, Harry.”

“I just want to help you.”


“Because…” Because I bloody love you. “I want to. It’s not a burden. And it’s not like I’ve anywhere else to be most of the time anyway. At least I won’t be as bored.”

Harry missed the feeling of connection the second Louis turned away and bent forward to set his half-full mug on the coffee table. Before Harry could withdraw to give Louis space, he had an armful of a warm boy, Louis’ arms wrapped around his waist and hair tickling his cheek. Louis smelled like rain and something citrusy and Harry pulled him in tight with his arms around Louis’ shoulders, breathed him in with a slow inhale.

“I don’t want to take advantage of you,” Louis whispered, his lips grazing the curve of Harry’s neck as he spoke. “You’re too nice for your own good.”

“It’s not taking advantage when I offered,” Harry replied, equally softly, afraid of breaking the moment. His bones felt too heavy, too weighed down.

“Thank you.”

Harry just hugged Louis tighter and closed his eyes. “You’ll all be okay. I promise.”

Louis sniffed, his fingers digging into Harry’s back. Harry felt Louis’ ribcage expand on a deep breath, his frame shaking.

“You’re okay,” Harry repeated, wished he could just do something more to make Louis feel better.

“I’m sorry.”

Harry shook his head, frowning. “Please, don’t be. I’m… I’m here for you.”

“I didn’t mean to just… I’m getting your shoulder all soggy. Bollocks,” Louis said, voice raw and brittle. “Sorry, you just give really nice hugs.”

“It’ll dry.” He slid his hand down Louis’ spine to rub circles into his back until he stopped clutching at Harry quite so hard and breath no longer hitched in his throat.

Louis pulled away after a moment and ducked his head in embarrassment. He lifted his hands as though he wanted to wipe his face with his sleeves then realised they were too short and faltered. Harry didn’t think. He just reached out, thumbed under Louis’ eyes gently and pulled away before it could turn awkward.

“You can stay the night in Liam’s room if you want. He won’t be here until after lunchtime tomorrow. Or I can pull out the couch and make you the bed down here. Not sure how clean his sheets are. I wouldn’t risk it, if I were you.”

Louis hiccupped a little laugh. “Down here would be nice. If it’s not too much trouble.”

“Not at all,” Harry assured him, turning his attention back to TV. “Just let me know when you’re tired.”

“Could we, like… make the bed right now and just watch flicks?”

“Of course.”

They ended up pulling out the couch and stretching a fresh sheet over it together, Louis claiming a duvet with Spiderman bedding and most of Harry’s pillows. Harry would have given him all of them if it meant it would make Louis happy, but he didn’t say it out loud. He just grabbed the ice cream and two spoons from the kitchen and settled in next to Louis, their shoulders pressed together as they watched Disney movies in comfortable silence.


Harry woke up to something tickling his face. When he finally managed to peel his eyes open, he realised two things. One, Dusty was staring him in the face from an inch away, her whiskers brushing Harry’s face, and two, it was just growing light outside and Louis was asleep, curled into Harry’s side as if cuddling was something they’d been doing for years.

Harry blinked and tried not to panic. He hadn’t really meant to fall asleep here, didn’t want Louis to feel like he had done this on purpose. The last thing he could remember before his brain had turned fuzzy was Ariel saying, “But Daddy, I love him!”

He vaguely recalled having thought of going up to his room, but Louis’ already steady breathing must have lulled him to sleep before he could have. Louis, who was currently half-lying on top of Harry with his thigh wedged between Harry’s and an open palm of his hand resting right next to Harry’s thundering heart.

Oh god oh god oh my god.

He tried really, really hard not to let Louis’ proximity affect him the way it usually did, because if Louis woke up now and noticed, Harry would have to find out whether dying by humiliation was a real thing.

Dusty didn’t seem to share his concerns. When he didn’t pet her, she lost all interest in him and pretty much shoved her cat anus in Harry’s face in revenge before she soundlessly jumped off the makeshift bed.

Harry braved a glance at Louis’ sleeping face. His eyes still seemed a bit puffy, but his face was relaxed, his mouth no longer a sad tilt. Even though Harry should really get up and get some rest in his own bed, he really couldn’t bring himself to do it. Louis looked too peaceful to wake up and Harry was selfish enough to admit that he didn’t want to trade Louis’ arms for the cold sheets on his own bed.

He rolled over on his side carefully and closed his eyes, Louis’ breaths puffing over his chin. The second Louis shifted, Harry froze, held his breath. A couple seconds later, Louis just slung his arm over Harry’s waist in a loose embrace and nuzzled into Harry’s neck, still asleep.

Harry’s heart pounded so hard he was surprised it didn’t wake Louis up, but eventually, it slowed down to a normal pace and he managed to drift off again.

The second time he woke up, it was to someone carding their fingers through his hair.

“Hmpf.” He pulled the warm body closer and nosed at the sleep-soft skin, confused and barely coherent.

“Harry, you up yet?”

It came to him in waves, and when it did, he let go as if burned and almost tumbled off the bed. Louis just managed to catch him before he flopped down on the floor.

Christ, careful there.”

“Fuck, sorry,” Harry stuttered out, his foot dangling off the edge, voice like sandpaper. Louis’ arm was like a vice around Harry’s waist and Harry should get the fuck away before he caught a hold of it and never let go. He really, really should. “I didn’t mean to fall asleep here, I didn’t—”

He made to sit up, but Louis’ fingers caught the back of his T-shirt and tugged. “Where are you going? ‘S too early.”

Harry shouldn’t have glanced over his shoulder because Louis had a pillow crease on his cheek and Harry loved this boy so much it hurt. He shouldn’t have laid back down again, but did anyway, too aware of his limbs and every breath he took and the way morning light pooled in the hollow of Louis’ collarbones and turned the tips of his eyelashes pale gold.

“I won’t bite,” Louis said, smiling faintly and letting go of Harry in favour of curling his arm around the closest pillow. Then he closed his eyes and nuzzled into it, and how was Harry supposed to go on, knowing his life had peaked at seventeen?

“Is this weird?” Harry asked, idly picking at the corner of the pillow currently in Louis’ loving possession. Harry wouldn’t get jealous of a piece of fluff. He wouldn’t. “Sorry if it’s weird.”

“’S not weird unless you make it.” Louis cracked one eye open. “Don’t make this weird, Harold.”

“Louis?” Harry’s mouth ran dry. He swallowed hard and looked at the Spiderman duvet kicked down to Louis’ feet. “We kind of, like… cuddled?” How did one ask to do it again for the rest of one’s life without being too obvious?

Louis just hummed in agreement, not concerned at all. “Sorry if I hogged your duvet. Or you. I’ve been told that I tend to do that.”

“I didn’t mind.” That was a gross understatement. Harry wanted to spend the rest of his life with Louis tucked into his arms and stealing Harry’s duvet even though he already had his own. Just the thought of anyone but Harry getting to do that instead made his stomach twist with unease, and it was childish and stupid because Louis wasn’t his, but he couldn’t help it anyway.

“I should probably go home soon,” Louis said after a long pause that made Harry go back to fidgeting with the pillowcase again. “Don’t want to, but I can’t very well stay here all day, can I? Shouldn’t, really.”

Was he kidding? He could stay forever.

“You can stay as long as you want. I’ll make breakfast.” Harry didn’t even care how desperate he sounded. He just wanted to take care of Louis in any way Louis would let him. “I’ll make eggs?”

“Liam has never made me eggs. You’re clearly the lovelier sibling.”

It was embarrassing how hard Harry had to fight to keep the smile pushing at his lips at bay. He didn’t think he managed that well. And maybe they should talk about what had happened yesterday, but Louis didn’t seem inclined. If he was anything like Harry, he’d rather have someone take his mind off things. And Harry could do that. He could make Louis smile.

“Liam found the toothpaste lube, by the way.”

Louis grinned as he rolled onto his back, all sharp, white teeth and arms flung out so his pinky grazed Harry’s bent knee. The morning light washed over his face and Harry almost forgot what he’d been talking about in the first place.

“What did he say then?”

“He, um… he thought the toothpaste went bad. Threw it out.”

Louis’ nose twitched a little when he laughed, his eyes crinkling at the corners. “Bless him. Can’t believe he didn’t figure it out. Reckon he just wouldn’t expect you to prank him like that.”

“He deserved it,” Harry muttered, still irked by the pizza incident.

“He’s not really as much of an arse as you seem to think, you know.”

“Well,” Harry faltered, hand pushing his hair off his face in a nervous tick, “He’s never really been particularly nice to me, is all. But like, don’t tell him I said that.”

Louis kicked him in the ankle lightly. “You do know he went to ask the nurse if you were all right last week.”

“What are you talking about?” Harry had had a minor accident during P. E., in which he’d once again lost control of his feet and tripped over a rolling ball. He’d only skinned his knee a little, but the coach had sent him to go see the nurse anyway.

“He went to look for you right after the coach sent you out. Told me you were all right when he came back to the gym. Talked to the head nurse and all.”

Harry stared down at his hands folded in his lap and frowned. “He didn’t… I mean, I didn’t see him—” He trailed off the second he glanced up. The rest of his sentence flew out of his head because Louis was stretching out with a raspy, drawn out moan that hit Harry in the stomach like a bag of bricks.

“Just saying,” Louis said and slid his hand down his torso, darting beneath the T-shirt to scratch his belly. Harry couldn’t bloody remember a word he’d said five seconds ago. Had no idea what they were even talking about right now, so he just nodded.

“Food! We should… food,” was the first coherent thing that came to Harry’s mind, because he was hungry. The drawstring on Louis’ borrowed joggers had loosened while they’d slept and the waistband slipped beneath Louis’ sharp hipbones after he’d stretched. Harry just wanted to bend down and mouth at the golden swell of Louis’ navel. Wanted to bite down and suck a bruise into Louis’ belly, scratch his way through the coarse hair peeking above the waistband.

He hadn’t even heard the stairs creak, so when his mum said, “Boys. Glad to see you’re up,” he almost toppled off the bed for the second time since he’d woken up.

“I wasn’t!” he blurted out, his entire face burning when both his mum and Louis turned to him with quizzical expressions.

“What was that, honey?”

And oh god, his mum must have got home while they’d slept, must have seen them all tangled up together on the mattress and she knew. He swallowed hard and draped the kicked off duvet over his lap, because apparently, being embarrassed did nothing to persuade his penis that now was not a good time.

“Harry was about to make us brekky,” Louis said, sitting up, all tussled hair and soft edges. Harry nearly whimpered.

“I can make some for you, too,” Harry managed to say, shooting a quick glance at his mum. He really hoped she was too hungover to tease him.

“That’s okay, pumpkin, I was just about to make some coffee. Not really hungry right now, but thank you.”

“Pumpkin,” Louis mouthed at him with a smirk.

Harry just flopped forward on the bed to muffle his groan in the pillow.

He didn’t move until he heard his mum walk back up the stairs with her coffee.

“So, pumpkin,” Louis said, and Harry didn’t even have to lift his head to know that Louis was grinning. He could hear it in his voice. “How about those eggs?”

Harry just blindly smacked him and managed to connect with what felt like Louis’ thigh. Louis’ strong, firm thigh.

He turned his face to the side so Louis could hear him when he said, “Need to use the loo first.” That, and dunk his head in cold water.

Louis’ hand found his hair and scratched right behind his ear, and Harry really wanted to bite down on the pillow because this wasn’t helping at all.

“Better hurry up before I try to cook on me own.” Louis tugged at the hair curling around his ears, and fuck, how was he supposed to get up now? “Trust me, you don’t want to see that.”

“I’m going. Right now. Yes.”

Louis was still touching his hair. He was worse than Harry’s mum. The effect of Louis’ fingers was, however, very, very different.

“Do you know that if you let your hair grow out a bit more, you’d have proper curls?”

“Would I?”

Louis hummed in agreement and knotted his hand in Harry’s hair. Inadvertently pulled a little harder. “Could look nice.”

“Louis,” Harry breathed out, felt Louis pause.


“I, um… loo?”

“Right.” Louis’ hand slid out. Harry never knew his hair could feel lonely, but it certainly did now.

He turned his back on Louis the second he stood up, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. He was the master of subtlety.

“You know you could have just said you needed to sort out your morning stiffy. No judgement here.”

He was so stunned he forgot he was trying to be subtle—and apparently failing hard—and spun around. “I wasn’t! I mean, I’m not. Sorting it out, I just…” If he looked in the mirror now he was sure he’d have seen his face had gone from slightly red to fuchsia.

Louis sat cross-legged on the bed, looking entirely too innocent and cute for what he’d been insinuating a few seconds ago. “As I said, no judgement, mate. It happens.”

“It just… you pulled on my hair!” And, like, why had his mum taught him to speak?

Louis’ mouth dropping open was the last thing Harry saw before he pivoted on his heel and dashed up the stairs as fast as the situation in his pants allowed him to. He tripped over Dusty right at the top and narrowly avoided falling on his face, but didn’t even care if Louis had seen because he could never face Louis ever again anyway.

Except for the fact he’d promised Louis breakfast.

Well, fuck.


Chapter Text

It took him five minutes of cold water and psyching himself up before he could set a foot downstairs. He found Louis sitting on the kitchen counter, a glass of water next to his hip. Even clad in joggers, he had nice knees. Harry couldn’t find it in himself to look any higher than that.

Louis cleared his throat. “So, do you want to, like, talk ab—”

“No. Please, no.”

“Hey,” Louis said and hopped off the counter, his bare feet stopping just shy of touching Harry’s. He tried not to hyperventilate when Louis squeezed his shoulder. “Why the long face?”

“I told you about—” He clamped his mouth shut. Wasn’t it obvious?

“So you like to have your hair pulled. ‘S not that big of a deal. Everyone’s got something.”

And Louis hadn’t figured out that it was him pulling Harry’s hair and just him in general that had got Harry all flustered and hard, and okay. Maybe that was slightly better. Not by much, but better.

“Everyone?” he echoed once Louis stepped away.

“Are you fishing for information, pumpkin?”

“No!” Still not quite looking at Louis, he shuffled over to the fridge. “Maybe.”

Louis chuckled, must have come up close, because his breath hit the nape of Harry’s neck. Thank God he couldn’t see Harry face when he steadied himself on Harry’s waist with warm hands and peeked over Harry’s shoulder, resting his chin there. Didn’t see how Harry’s eyes widened just the tiniest bit then slipped halfway shut as Harry struggled not lean into him. “Oh, can we have some bacon too?”

As far as Harry was concerned, Louis could have the entire fridge. “Of course.”

“Sick,” Louis said, voice raspy and mellow and tickling Harry’s ear. With a gentle rub to Harry’s flank, he stepped away and Harry had to blink twice to get his brain to un-fog.

“Where do you keep pans and stuff?” Louis asked and Harry turned just in time to see Louis bent over as he peered into the lower cabinets, his bum in the air. His bum. All round and tight and more than a handful.

Harry almost dropped the carton of eggs on his foot. “It’s, um… right there. Where you’re looking. Yeah.”

“Got it!” He wielded the pan with a victorious grin and rose to his feet without any struggle at all. He could probably pick Harry up and hold him against a wall without breaking a sweat. Harry was the only one about to sweat here.

“Good, good.” He coughed and went about preparing the food as Louis hopped back on the counter, feet crossed at the ankle.

“So,” Harry braved, staring stubbornly at the sizzling bacon. “You never answered me.”

“What was the question again?” Louis asked, and Harry was pretty sure Louis was playing dumb on purpose.

“I know you know.”

“I know, you know,” Louis sing-sang and swatted at Harry’s head with a hand towel. “If you want to know, you need to ask.”

Harry whined.

“Okay then. I guess you’ll never find out.”

“But.” He sighed. “Fine. What’s your…. um, thing. Sex thing. That you like.”

“Not that hard, was it?” Louis paused then added, “metaphorically speaking, that is.”

Harry could blame his red face on the heat rolling off the stove, right? Right.

“Okay then. Uh… Haven’t tried it yet, mind, but I think I’d like a bit of power play, maybe. Like, tying someone up and teasing them and just taking them apart.”

He should have wanked. He really, really should have. Why had he thought this conversation would have been a good idea again? “Sounds nice,” he squeaked out and poked at the bacon with a fork.

“Glad you approve.”

Just as Harry was putting the bacon on the plates and starting on the eggs, Louis said, “Have you ever heard about orgasm denial? Like, when you put a cock ring on someone and don’t let them come for ages. That too, I think.”

The eggshell slipped out of Harry’s hands and fell on the floor. “Fuck.”

“You need a hand there?”

Harry bent down to pick it up, and yes. He did need a hand. Just not in the way Louis had meant it. “I’m fine, just… slippery.”

“Feel free to tell me to fuck off if I’m being an arse. Got a bit too graphic there, sorry.”

“No,” Harry said and met Louis’ gaze even though he worried Louis would be able to read all the dirty thoughts in his mind. “I did ask.”

“I know you did,” Louis allowed and slipped off the counter. “Still. You’re just seventeen. Don’t take me wrong. I got around at your age, but you’re… you’re different.”

“I’m not all that innocent.” He was pouting. He knew he was and he didn’t care. He was not a child.

“You are, a little. It’s not a bad thing, love.” Louis traced the shell of Harry’s ear and pulled at his earlobe before letting go. “I’ll make the toast.”

“I’m not a kid.” He stirred the eggs, not even sure Louis had heard him.

“Definitely not,” Louis replied after a long, tense moment. “You’re more mature than I am, and I’m two years older than you.”

Harry ducked his head to hide his smile.

“I like the way you are,” Louis insisted and walked over to pull Harry into a side hug. “Doesn’t matter if you’ve slept with ten people or none. I just like that you do what you want to do. It’s a nice change.” He nosed at Harry’s cheek and squeezed him closer. “We okay?”

“Yeah, of course,” Harry said, let himself lean into Louis. “I’ll even let you have the charred bits.”

“I love the charred bits!”

Harry just smiled. He knew. Had overheard Louis during one of those times he’d stayed over for breakfast and remembered it like all those other, seemingly insignificant little things that made Louis Louis.

It was when they sat down at the table and started eating and Louis grinned at him with his mouth full, saying “this is the best breakfast I’ve ever had, ever,” that Harry realised he’d never get over this boy. That he didn’t really want to.


“Can you come sit down with me for a second, sweetheart?” his mum called from the living room, about two hours after Louis had left— in his own shoes that Harry had been harbouring under his bed— to face his situation at home. Harry had dragged up the kind of courage he didn’t even know he possessed and had pulled Louis into a long, tight hug before he’d gone. Unfortunately, Mum had seen. Combined with the morning incident, Harry was pretty sure he knew where this was headed.

He sat down next to her anyway.

“Anything you want to talk about?” she asked and brushed his hair off his face.

“Is this about Louis?”

“It’s about anything you want to talk about. Quietly though. I’m a bit sensitive to noise right now.”

Harry snorted. It was a testament to their closeness that she didn’t scold him, just shrugged in a ‘it is what it is’ gesture.

“Nothing happened,” he said, because he needed to make things clear. “We just fell asleep watching movies.”

“Didn’t know you were so close.” She almost sounded offended that Harry hadn’t updated her.

“We’re not. Really. He just… he was a bit sad and came looking for Liam and I couldn’t just… send him away.”

“Oh. Was this about Jay and Mark then?”

He leaned back into the backrest and closed his eyes when she started rubbing his scalp. “So you know?”

“Yeah, I knew things weren’t the best lately. Jay told me about the divorce.”

“I wish I could do something.”

She kissed the top of his head. “I know you do, but sometimes all you can do is just be there if the other person needs a hug or to talk. It was nice of you to let Louis stay. I’m not mad.”

“Didn’t think you would be,” Harry said and curled into her side.

“You were really cute all cuddled up, by the way. Like little kittens.”


“Don’t ‘mum’ me.” She giggled. “I might have taken a picture.”

Harry opened one eye to gauge her seriousness. “You didn’t.”

“Yes, I did.”

“Can I see?” And possibly send it to himself so he could stare at it for hours and try not to feel like a creep when he imagined what it would have been like to get to wake up to Louis’ face every day for the rest of his life.

“Not with that attitude, you can’t. I think I’ll just keep it for when I want a massive favour from you.”

“But mum.” He jutted out his bottom lip for good measure.

“We still need to have a talk about being safe. Stop distracting me.”

Harry buried his face in her shoulder. “No, we don’t. I know stuff. I’m seventeen.”

“Do you mean young and reckless and clueless? Whatever you read online doesn’t count, sorry to tell you. I bet half of it is rubbish.”

Read online. Yeah, all right. “Hey, that’s awfully presumptuous.”

“Stop using big words on me, child. I’m older and wiser and you need to promise me that if anything ever happens, you’ll use a condom. Well, you or your boyfriend. Either way.”

Just as she was finishing the sentence, Liam walked into the living room and stopped dead in his tracks. He tried to slowly back out, but it was already too late. Mum had spotted him.

“Excellent! Come in, love. Sit down.”

“I’ve got homework!” Liam was looking increasingly more panicked. Harry didn’t blame him.

“Homework can wait.” She put her ‘serious mother’ face on. “Sit.”

Liam perched on the sofa on the other side of her as if the cushions were about to bite him in the arse.

“Where was I?”

“Condoms,” Harry reminded her unhappily. Might as well speed this up.

“Right. Now, obviously, this concerns both of you. Always use them, unless you’re in a monogamous committed relationship and have both been tested and decided together that you don’t want to. Or in Liam’s case, if your girlfriend is on the pill.”

Harry could hear Liam gulp all the way over here.

Mum went on to talk about lube and taking your time and respecting your partner as well as expecting to be respected in return and Harry had never been happier to have a conversation end than he did now. At least Liam seemed equally uncomfortable, maybe even more so, so Harry felt a bit better about wanting to dig up a hole and hide in it.

The cavalry arrived about twenty minutes too late when Geoff ducked into the living room to pick Mum up for their grocery run. Harry would never complain about Geoff’s addiction to Jaffa cakes ever again.


Harry was hiding.

Well, more like strategically avoiding.

It was around eight at night when his mum had texted him from downstairs to ‘please be a love and run to the shops to get me tampons’. Because apparently, she’d run out and forgotten to get more. Harry didn’t mind. Growing up around two women meant he’d done his fair share of tampon shopping and heating up water bottles and giving back rubs.

He just didn’t expect to see Louis browsing a cereal aisle. Naturally, Harry’s response was to duck behind a tower of tomato soup cans and quietly sneak away to the other side of the admittedly small store, armed with a still empty shopping basket and a prayer. Turned out it didn’t work. He really should have kept on coming to the Sunday masses, because just when he thought he was in the clear, a hand clasped his shoulder and startled him so much he’d knocked over a row of tampons. They tumbled to the floor with a clatter that had a fellow middle-aged shopper give them a dirty once-over. Somewhere up there, God was laughing his tits off.

“Shit, sorry. Let me just,” Louis said, both of them bending down at the same time and knocking heads. Fucking ow. “Christ, is your head made of steel?”

“No, but I’m pretty sure yours is.” Harry rubbed his sore forehead and reached for the fallen boxes. Clearly, Louis had the same idea. Their fingers brushed and stilled. Harry had never expected shopping for feminine hygiene products would have ended up with him fighting the urge to grab Louis’ hand and nuzzle it, but there it was.

“Hey, congrats then.”

Harry’s frown must have prompted Louis to explain, because he grinned, in that mischievous way that always made Harry feel as if Louis was secretly plotting some grand prank on the entire world.

Louis picked up a box and shook it so close to Harry’s face that he went cross-eyed. “You’re a woman now! Exciting, innit?”

Harry took the box from Louis and dropped it in his shopping basket before he set out to gather the rest off the floor. “I’ve been a woman for a long time now, Louis. Everyone knows tampons are not for novices. Especially not the, uh…” he glanced down at his handful of boxes, “super absorbent ones.”

This may have been the first time Harry had seen Louis lost for words. He liked it. Liked showing Louis that he was more than the expected.

“God, Harry, you are so—”

A female sales assistant who had been restocking soaps blew her nose. Loudly. Louis’ eyes widened just the tiniest bit, the rest of his sentence cut off. Harry desperately wished Louis had finished saying it because his ears were turning red and Harry was what.

“What? I’m what?” he urged, but Louis wouldn’t meet his eyes.

“Shit, would you look at that!” Louis pulled his phone out of his pocket and waved it in the air like a weapon of mass destruction, a slightly manic grin on his face. “Mother is calling! Probably wondering what’s taking so long, so I’d love to stay and chat, Harold, but I’ve got to leg it. Go. Just… purchase cereal and stuff. Right now, immediately.”

Harry just stared at him, baffled and honestly speechless.

“Bye.” With that, Louis spun on his heel and hurried towards the self-checkout as though Harry had tentacles growing out of his forehead.

Harry blinked twice and met the sales assistant’s eyes, who just blinked at him back and said, “That amount of flirting was really painful for me to watch.”

Harry made a high-pitched squeak of a noise and grabbed two more boxes of tampons off the shelf. “I need to go buy these!”

He heard her sigh as he scuttled away. He was in the process of handing the cashier money when he recalled the screen of Louis’ phone hadn’t even been lit up.


Hating Mondays was a general rule and Harry was no exception, but. He didn’t mind today, because when Liam parked near the school this morning, Louis was already waiting there. It was drizzly and miserable, clouds rolling over the sky like puffs of grey cotton candy, but Louis had a smile on his face anyway. He was wearing a burgundy sweater that was too big for his frame, the sleeves tucked over his knuckles, and Harry almost forgot himself. Stopped himself just in time from going over to Louis to hug him. Figured Louis wouldn’t have wanted anyone to see— wouldn’t have wanted Liam to see— Harry acting as if they were friends. Which they weren’t. Not really.

“Liam,” Louis greeted seriously when they got out of the car. “Good morning.”

Harry just pushed his glasses further up his nose and kept to himself, just happy to see Louis seemed to be doing well.

“What, you’re not even going to say hello, pumpkin?”

Harry glanced up in surprise and stuttered out an embarrassingly squeaky “hello”.

“No manners, these young ones, I’m telling ya.”

Liam didn’t react, just slung his arm over Louis’ shoulders and said, “No umbrella today? It’s supposed to be raining, you know.”

“I laugh in the face of rain!” With that, he snatched Liam’s snapback off his head, grabbed Harry’s wrist and tugged him along, “Run!”

Their feet slapped down on the wet pavement as they dashed away from a very exasperated Liam, and Harry’s heart was beating high in his throat because Louis’ fingertips were pressing into his rabbitting pulse point and Louis was giggling in triumph as he put Liam’s hat on his own head.

By the time they slowed down to a stop, Harry was out of breath and flushed, giddy enough to grin so wide his face felt as though it might split in two. Louis’ thumb rubbed circles into his wrist, little sparks of electricity rippling over Harry’s nerve endings. The rest of the world faded into a blur. It was just him and Louis, with Liam’s hat sitting askew on top of his head and eyes crinkling at the edges. Harry wondered if Louis’ lips tasted like rain.

When Liam caught up to them and Louis’ fingers loosened and let go of him with a final slide down the back of his hand, it wasn’t the chilly gust of wind that made Harry shiver.

“I’m keeping the hat,” Louis said.

Liam just sighed.


Harry couldn’t focus. At all. His math teacher Miss McNamara had had to call on him twice before he’d caught on that he was supposed to be answering her question, and he’d poured the wrong chemical into a vial during chemistry and almost burned his eyebrows off. He was a walking disaster, the echo of Louis’ touch itching on his wrist. Just two more classes, thank God. He could probably make it without any fatal injuries. Probably.

He was just making his way down the corridor, too immersed in his own head to watch where he was going. Didn’t even notice Andy hovering by the lockers, whispering to his friends as he spotted Harry walking their way. By the time Andy stuck his foot out, it was too late. Harry tripped, could feel himself falling forward almost in slow motion, all the notes and books flying out of his hands, scattering around him as he met the floor with a bone-jarring impact.

The sound of people laughing filtered in through the white noise screeching in his head. He stared down at the scuffed tiles, his glasses slipping down his nose. He tried to drag in a breath, struggled to swallow past the rapidly growing knot in his throat. Not the first time this happened. Not the last one either. Just… get up and laugh it off.

“Hey, what’s that?”

Harry propped himself up on his hands and knees, watched with mounting dread as Andy bent over to pick up a heart-dotted piece of paper with Louis’ name scribbled into the margins.

“Don’t,” Harry pleaded, reached over to grab it. He was too slow, always too fucking slow, and Andy’s eyes were scanning the piece of paper with a widening grin.

“Bloody hell, do you have a thing for Tommo?” He laughed like a hyena, all sharp, artificially white teeth and eyes searching out anyone who bothered to listen. “Lads, lads, look! It’s even got little drawings of Tommo on it! And listen to this.” He chortled through his words, voice mockingly lowered and slowed down to imitate Harry’s. “If I lie with you, will my heartbeat synch up…” he paused, laughing so hard he could barely finish, “to the beat of your own!”

Harry hugged the books close to his chest, so humiliated his bones rattled from the force of it. He felt like he might throw up, cold sweat trickling down his spine and making his buttoned up shirt stick to his back.

“And there’s more!”

Someone to Harry’s left laughed uncomfortably.

“A proper poet, our Harry. Who knew?” The floor dug into Harry’s knees, but he couldn’t get up. Felt like he’d splinter into pieces if he dared to move even an inch. That he’d choke if he breathed too hard. “My heart is a fly,” Andy continued, voice dipping low again. “Trapped in the globe glass shaped by,” he snorted, “the palms of your hands.” He scrunched the piece of paper in his hand and dropped it on the floor, face red from laughing. “This is honestly the funniest thing I’ve ever read.”

“Come on, man, don’t be a wanker. Leave him be,” said some upperclassman whom Harry had seen around with paint splattered hands, sneaking in smokes behind the gym.

“What? You want him to write poems about you then, Malik?”

“Rather him than you, that’s for sure.”

Harry couldn’t register any more words said after that, felt like he’d been split down the middle and all his insides would fall out any second now. He felt a hand on his shoulder, the face a bit of a blur. Everyone was looking at him. Some with pity, some with blank, open stares, as though he was a rare exhibit at a zoo, something for them to examine. Andy was nowhere to be seen.

“Up you go,” the boy said, putting the rest of the scattered stuff into Harry’s shaking arms. “He’s a fuckwit.”

“I c-can’t… stay here.”

“Do you want me to call your parents?” he asked quietly, his hand gentle but firm on Harry’s elbow.

Harry shook his head, tears spilling over to drip down on the books in his hands. Someone, Niall Horan, yelled at those who still lingered around to get the fuck to your classes, ya lazy cunts.

Harry watched his feet move with a distant numbness as Zayn steered him down the corridor, people all around whispering and stealing not-so-subtle glances. The entire school would know. Louis would.

He couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t fucking… he just—

“Hey, hey.” The dark-haired boy put his hand between Harry’s shoulder blades. “It’ll be okay, yeah? Let’s just get you home.”

It didn’t matter. Harry could never come back here again. He couldn’t.

“Not that it matters, but I liked it. What you wrote.”

“N-no,” Harry whispered, breath hitching in his throat. “It was shit.”

“Nothing’s shit if you put your heart into it.”

Harry didn’t speak until they made it into the school parking lot. “You don’t have to drive me, I—”

“It’s cool, man. I was going to skip anyway,” Malik said, drawing a pack of cigarettes out of the back pocket of his black skinnies. “You mind?”

Harry shook his head and wrapped his arms around himself, unsure, knees wobbling.

“Christ,” Zayn said, exhaling a cloud of smoke and putting his free arm around Harry’s waist. “Don’t keel over on me. Just breathe, yeah? I’ll get you home once you’re a bit calmer. Don’t want you falling off the bike.”

“C-can’t.” Harry hadn’t had a panic attack ever since he’d been little and his parents had still been together, but he felt like he might have one now.

“Louis won’t care. He’s a chill lad.” He rubbed up and down Harry’s side absentmindedly. “I’m Zayn, by the way.”

“Harry,” he managed, barely. He felt as though someone had poured a gallon of water into his lungs.

Zayn finished his cigarette in silence, the smoke spiralling into the foggy air. The only words Harry spoke were his address and “thank you” when Zayn handed him a spare helmet. “I give Nialler rides sometimes, always keep a spare on hand,” Zayn said and peeled out of the parking lot. By the time they made it to Harry’s house, his fingers were chilly and clumsy when he tried to unlock the front door, wished for a moment Zayn would have stayed so he wouldn’t have to face the fact he could never look Louis in the eye again.

Louis. Fuck.

He ran up to the upstairs bathroom just in time to throw up his lunch.


The doorknob rattled.

Knock. Knock.

“Mum?” Harry asked hoarsely from his spot by the tub, realising too late that Mum was supposed to be at work for three more hours. His legs were stiff from how he’d been sitting in one spot for way too long and he still hadn’t changed out of his school clothes, but he didn’t want to move. He’d just stay in this bathroom forever until all his problems magically disappeared. The longer he sat here, the more he liked the idea.


He didn’t realise he’d started holding his breath until he grew dizzy with it, head spinning as if he’d fallen off a rollercoaster. He pulled in a panicked breath and crawled over to the window on all fours because his knees felt too weak, actually contemplating jumping out and sneaking off. Hey, France was only one long swim away.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

“Harry, if you’re in there, I need to piss really bad!”

For a second Harry wondered if he’d just hallucinated Louis’ voice or if he was actually here, at Harry’s house, now when Harry’s life was officially over and he probably had stray vomit on his sweater vest.

“Harry, please,” Louis said, soft and almost too quiet for Harry to hear, and Harry knew he’d never really had an option to choose anyway. Couldn’t hide away in the bathroom for years and pretend today had never happened. Maybe he doesn’t know yet.

Harry staggered to his feet and wrapped his clammy hand around the doorknob. His mouth was so dry he couldn’t even swallow, his tongue stinging with the minty aftertaste of mouthwash. When he finally opened the door and made to rush right past Louis, he couldn’t. Louis caught his elbow and turned him around and Harry couldn’t even meet his eyes, because… Because this ranked in the top five nightmares he’d never wanted to come to life, and he couldn’t look at Louis and read ‘I can’t believe this gross nerd is in love with me’ all over Louis’ face.

“Christ, you all right?”

Harry burst into tears. Proper ugly, couldn’t-catch-a-breath, dry-heaving, red-faced tears that just wouldn’t stop.

“Fuck, Harry, Harry, what—”

“Y-you,” Harry stuttered out, about a minute away from completely hyperventilating and choking on his own inability to breathe properly. “P-iss?”

Louis’ grip on his elbow went slack. “Oh. Yeah, no. I, um… I figured you’d let me in if I told you… yeah.”

Harry took a step back, and it was probably a good thing he could see nothing but blurry shapes. Louis’ hold tightened again.

“What the fuck, Louis? What did you say to him?” Liam asked from somewhere behind. It just proved how completely out of it Harry was that he hadn’t even heard him stomp up the stairs. “If you—”

“Don’t be a wanker, Payno. I didn’t do anything. He just…”

If Harry had any chance of escaping, it was gone now, because Liam put his hands on Harry’s shoulders in a vice-like grip before steering him towards Harry’s room.

“You okay, man?” Liam asked, sitting him down on the bed. Harry couldn’t fucking talk because he was sobbing and dry heaving and probably on the verge of a panic attack.

“Does he look all right to you?” Louis stated the obvious, and the mattress right next to Harry dipped beneath Louis’ weight. “Make him a cuppa, would you? Look for chamomile? I know you have it.”

Liam stood there for a moment, hesitant, before his feet disappeared from Harry’s sight.

“Come on now.” Louis slipped Harry’s glasses off his face and set them down on the bed. “Just breathe. Slow and steady, yeah?”


With one hand at the nape of Harry’s neck, Louis pulled him into a hug, his other hand rubbing circles into Harry’s back until he wasn’t quite choking anymore.

“I’m getting,” his breath hitched, “snot… a-all over you.”

The shoulder beneath Harry’s cheek lifted up in a shrug. “Wouldn’t be the first time. My sisters are snotty little fiends.”

If Louis was still here and not calling him delusional that meant he didn’t know yet, and Harry wasn’t sure how, but having that hang over his head was probably even worse. He felt sick to his stomach all over again.

“Whatever’s wrong, you can tell me, you know.” He started rubbing Harry’s scalp and Harry didn’t deserve this.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” he mumbled into Louis’ shoulder over and over, clutching at Louis hard even though he should have been pushing Louis away instead.

“If you killed someone, you’d better tell me where you left the body. Gotta bury the evidence.” He nosed at Harry’s temple. “Think I’ve seen a shovel or two in your shed. That should do it.”

Harry shook his head, coherent enough to pull away, because he had to do this. He had to tell Louis everything— bar the fact that he sometimes wrote “Harry Tomlinson” into his journal, just to see what it looked like— because being rejected right now beat being rejected in front of the entire school tomorrow. He took a deep breath and parted his lips to show Louis every dirty corner of his heart just as Liam walked back in with a cup of tea.

“There you go. Careful though, it’s hot.”

It took Harry a moment to process, to realise that, secretly, he felt relieved that the decision had been taken out of his hands and he couldn’t tell Louis now. Not when Liam was watching, broodier than Harry had ever seen him.

Why are you being so nice to me? Harry wanted to ask, but instead took the mug and whispered, “Thank you.”

The knuckles of Liam’s hand were red and swollen and he must have seen Harry’s puzzled gaze because he just chuckled and said, “Stumbled into a wall.”

“Yup. Gotta watch out for those walls. They’ll get ya,” Louis said, rising to his feet. “Come watch TV with us. I’m introducing Liam here to the wonders of Breaking Bad. He’s never seen it, can you believe it?”

“It’s just never come up,” Liam replied, both of them pointedly ignoring Harry’s hiccupping breaths and blotchy face. He was more than grateful.

“You’re a fraud of a person.”

“I don’t even like math!”

Louis’ mouth dropped open then snapped shut again. He shook his head and turned to Harry. “You see what I have to put up with?”

“What?” Liam asked, glancing in between them, and for a moment Harry almost forgot. Could pretend for a while that they were all close friends who bantered on the daily and he hadn’t thrown up his lunch over the boy standing a couple feet away from him.

“It’s, um… chemistry, I think. A bit,” Harry explained, voice raw as though he’d scrubbed the back of his throat with sandpaper.

“Oh.” Liam shrugged, nonplussed. “Fair enough.”

“That’s my boy,” Louis said at the same time, giving Harry a smile that almost made Harry upend the mug into his lap.

Liam clapped his hands together. “Breaking Bad then?”

They both turned to look at Harry, put him right under the metaphorical spotlight. Self-preservation had never been his strong suit and saying “no” was even less. Saying so to Louis?

Harry cradled the mug to his chest and swallowed hard, knew he was in for a long, painful day the second he said, “Okay.”


Chapter Text

The clock on his phone showed 2:16 am and Harry was wide-awake because his brain refused to wind down. Wouldn’t stop reminding him that you still haven’t told him and he’ll find out tomorrow and never speak to you again. No more teasing and asking him to join in on Breaking Bad marathons, sitting next to him side by side and whispering idle commentary that tickled the shell of his ear. So, no. He couldn’t sleep. Just tossed and turned for about a hundredth time, knees tucked against his chest and arms curled around a pillow that was unfortunately neither human, nor Louis-shaped.

He was just about to flop on his back when someone rapped at his door, so quiet Harry had almost missed it over the rustle of his sheets. The door opened slowly, a dark shape Harry would have recognised even half-blind tiptoeing into his room.

“Harry? You up?” Louis whispered.

Harry considered staying quiet, waiting to see if Louis would leave, but. He’d never been good at ignoring Louis.


Louis’ shoulders relaxed. He blindly moved closer towards Harry, cursing when he stubbed his toe on the bed frame. “Fuck, fuck, fuck.

“Shit, you okay?” Harry sat up, concerned.

“First of all, ow.” Louis kneed up on Harry’s bed with a grunt of effort, and for a second Harry wished everything was different. Wished they were deeply in love and shared kisses right before bed like they breathed air, sharing warmth and secrets under covers every night. “Second of all, no. Liam’s snoring really bloody loud and I tried, Harry. I did. But not even my earphones are drowning him out.”

But they didn’t, so. “Oh. Do you want me to make you a bed downstairs?” He moved to do just that when Louis stopped him with a hand on his forearm, thumb stroking over the inside of his elbow. It had him so, so weak he had to bite down on the inside of his cheek. And thank god, because he suddenly remembered he wore nothing under his duvet and had almost given Louis an eyeful, vague though it would have been.

“No,” Louis said, and with the curtains drawn almost all the way shut, Harry could barely make out Louis’ expression, most of his face bathed in shadows. “I’m not that big of a twat. Wouldn’t wake you up for that. I, eh… would you mind if I slept here? Unless you would, in which case, tell me to fuck off.”

He wanted to say yes. He wanted to so bad he could barely make his mouth shape the words. “Louis, um…”

The sudden absence of Louis’ touch made Harry swallow a needy whine, the words don’t stop touching me on the brink of slipping out. “This was a bad idea, wasn’t it? Sorry, I—”

“No!” Harry said, louder than he’d meant to, but he couldn’t let Louis stay here without knowing. Because he’d find out soon and remember tonight and resent Harry for taking advantage. Blame Harry for using this to feed his gross fantasies. “I just… Louis.” He stared down at his own hands folded in his duvet-covered lap, his heart hammering against his ribs so hard he feared it would break through the bones. Somehow it seemed easier to do this now, in the dark where he could pretend Louis wasn’t even here. If ‘easier’ was even a word he could relate to the cold sweat suddenly prickling at the nape of his neck. “Maybe you shouldn’t, because I… I, um…” he took a deep breath, nausea twisting his stomach into knots, “fancy you? Have, for like, a while. And I don’t want you to think that I… yeah.”

The more the silence stretched on, the more Harry wanted to shove those words back down his throat. Neither of them moved. Somewhere outside, a dog barked.

Harry was the first to break. “Say something. Please.”

Louis shifted, exhaled a shaky breath. “I, uh… I know.”

Know what? Know what?

“I know that you,” Louis tugged at the bottom of his T-shirt, stretching it away from his body with fidgeting hands, “I know you fancy me.”

Even though Harry was sitting on his bed, it felt a lot like the world had tipped beneath his feet. “Then why? Why are you here? Why haven’t you said anything? Have you been… have you been laughing at me this entire time? You and Liam?”

He was starting to shake down to his marrow, felt as if his skin would shrivel up and fall of like burnt paper.

“No, no, Harry—”

“I never thought you’d be the kind of person to,” he swallowed hard, tried to breathe past the massive ball of fire stretching inside his chest, “to humiliate me like this.”

Louis reached out to touch him but dropped his hand before it ever made contact. It fell down to Louis’ lap like a wilted flower. “I wouldn’t. I’m not. I… might have lied a bit. About why I’m here in the first place, but I’m not trying to hurt you or… make fun of you. You know I wouldn’t. I just,” he paused, reached out in the end. His touch on the back of Harry’s hand felt like open flame. “Please, look at me?”

Harry lifted his chin stubbornly, jaw set to keep his chin from quivering.

“I don’t care if Liam snores, I’m usually a heavy sleeper, yeah? Could drop a bomb right by me head and I still wouldn’t wake up. I came here because I wanted to talk, and I couldn’t before. Not with Liam around. I just didn’t want to, like, make it awkward. I just wanted to talk about it between the two of us.”

“How long have you known?” Harry asked quietly, not quite managing to pretend his spine was made of steel. That he was.

“Just today, for sure. The whole Andy thing.” He swiped his thumb over Harry’s wrist bones. “I’m sorry. He’s a right arsehole. He had no right to do that.”

“Who told you?” Harry’s mind was spinning so fast he worried his brain would leak out of his ears any second now, because he didn’t get Louis. Didn’t understand why Louis was here and touching him and why they were talking about this as if it wasn’t the end of the world.

“Couple people, actually. Doesn’t matter, does it?” Louis said, turning Harry’s hand over and poking the middle of Harry’s palm with his index finger. “Do you know what else I’ve heard?”

“Don’t think I want to,” Harry admitted, watching Louis’ finger trail down his heart line.

“Heard you wrote me something.” A beat. “Can I maybe see it?”

Harry curled his hand in and pulled away, looked up to find Louis already staring back. He still had it. That balled up piece of paper Zayn had picked off the floor and put back among Harry’s belongings, but, “No.”

“Oh. Okay,” Louis said. “I didn’t ask so I could make fun of it, you know. I just… nobody has ever written anything for me before, so I… sorry.”

“I’m the one who’s sorry. About this. About everything.” Harry ducked his head again, not quite comprehending how bizarre this was. Sitting here on his bed with Louis within touching distance, asking to see if he could get a better glimpse at Harry’s insides. He’d rather have admitted to wanting to braid Louis’ armpit hair than reading him those poems. Louis had really cute armpits, all right? It wasn’t weird.

“For fancying me?” Louis asked, voice verging on indignant. “I’m not the worst person you could have picked, surely.”

No, he wasn’t. He was the best. Funny and kind and protective and vulnerable, soft insides with sharp edges, quick witted and defensive but observant and always listening when it mattered. Only, “No. No, you’re not. But I could have picked someone who would have liked me back.”

Louis sucked in an unsteady breath. For the first time Harry wished he could see Louis’ eyes clearly, to at least have an inkling about what he was thinking.


“Don’t,” Harry begged, had never felt more naked than he did now. Would have felt like this, so exposed, even if he’d sat here wearing his winter skiing gear. “I didn’t say it to make you feel guilty. I’m just sorry that you feel like you have to deal with this now. Deal with me. Because you don’t. In fact, can we just pretend you don’t know?”

“For the longest time I thought you hated me, you know,” Louis said instead of answering and Harry’s mouth dropped open, no sound coming out.

“Yeah,” Louis said with a breathy chuckle. “I reckon, because every time I’d try to chat with you, you’d just… you wouldn’t say anything. I thought you were just shy, but then I’d see you talk to people at school without much trouble and you’d barely say ‘hi’ to me. I was convinced you found me really annoying.”

Liam called Louis an annoying brat sometimes, but Harry had never got it, because Louis was the most fascinating person to just, like, sit and admire. Always so expressive and up to no good and Harry had felt drawn into his orbit ever since the first time he’d bumped into Louis at the school loo two years ago. “Are you joking?”

“Not really, no.”

“I can’t believe you… no. I didn’t talk to you because you… I didn’t know what to say. Every time I’d want to say stuff, I was afraid I’d say the wrong thing, so I just… didn’t.” Straight As on his report card and he could barely string a coherent sentence together. Brilliant. “You’re a bit intimidating.”

“Harry,” Louis said, seriously. “Yesterday I showered in Lottie’s pink shower cap with cartoon ducks on it and then sang into a hairbrush. If you think I’m intimidating, I’m afraid you have the bar set really low.”

Harry bit down on his smile, glad Louis couldn’t see him blush like the besotted fool he was. “Yeah, you can, um… you can barely reach the top shelf.”

Louis gasped dramatically and snatched one of Harry’s many pillows, wielding it like a weapon. “I take it back. I am intimidating! Fear me, Harry Styles, and apologise before this turns ugly.”

He’d tried to fight it but couldn’t. He grinned, lips stretched so wide it made his cheeks ache. “And if I don’t?”

He got a face full of a pillow as his answer.

“There’s more where that came from,” Louis warned, up on his knees and very obviously ready to strike again. “Say it, Harold.”

He’d imagined hundreds and thousands of scenarios about what Louis would say and do but not one of them, not one, included being whacked in the face with his own pillow. “No.”

Louis hit him with a pillow on the side of his head twice in a row, trying to stifle his giggles when it electrified Harry’s hair into a right mess.

“You’re,” Harry ducked another hit, reaching for a pillow of his own to defend himself against Louis’ playfully vicious attack, “not intimidating at all.”

“Okay, that’s it. No more going easy on you, pumpkin.”

Louis yanked Harry’s pillow out of his hands and tossed it over his shoulder to the floor while simultaneously planting his pillow in Harry’s face again. Harry’s ribs hurt from trying to hold in his embarrassing bark of a laugh, but it came out in little uncontrolled bursts anyway, each making Louis’ grin get wider and wider.

“Think it’s funny, do you?” Louis asked and before Harry could even draw a breath, Louis tackled him to the mattress and straddled his hips, pillow thrown away in favour of his fingers digging into Harry’s ribs, and no. “Let’s see you have a giggle now.”

“No, no, no, Louis—”

“Is that the magic word?”

Harry started laughing the second Louis’ fingers tickled their way up to Harry’s armpits and he tried to curl into himself and stop fucking laughing before he woke up the entire house, but Louis wouldn’t let up.

“Lou—” he stammered and kicked his leg out, tearing up because he couldn’t stop guffawing, but Louis had somehow managed to take a hold of both his wrists and pinned them to the mattress above Harry’s head, a maniacal grin on his face.

“Are you ticklish then?”

Harry just shook his head and it wasn’t until he bucked his hips up in an effort to unseat Louis that he realised the duvet had slipped down to his thighs during the struggle and he was bloody naked, with Louis perched right above his hips “Louis, Lou—”

“Still haven’t answered my question. So, are you ticklish or not?”

“I am, I am—” Oh God, he couldn’t stop twitching and Louis had his wrists in a death grip and Harry couldn’t free himself. The heat of it sparked over his skin and pooled low in his stomach.

“Well, was that so hard?” Louis slowly let up, his palm sliding down Harry’s bare flank.

To answer Louis’ question, more than halfway there. Harry struggled to catch his breath, panicking when Louis moved to get up. His hands shot out to grip Louis’ hips in order to keep him from getting off.

“Wait, wait.” Harry closed his eyes, breathed in. “I’m, uh… I sleep naked, and… the duvet, it…” His face was going to catch on fire any moment.

“Oh, shit,” Louis said, thankfully staying put. “What now?”

“Just, can you maybe close your eyes and let me grab it?”

“Yeah, yeah, of course.”

When Harry peered up at him Louis had his eyes closed and blindly rolled off Harry to lie next to him instead. Harry slipped under the duvet and said, “I’m decent now.”

“Well, that’s up for debate.”

“Sorry,” he said, because he couldn’t stop thinking about Louis’ bum having been inches away from his bare cock, hands tight on Harry’s straining wrists.

“Well, it’s not like I don’t sleep naked too. Unless I sleep over here. No need to apologise.”

Naked Louis sprawled on top of his rumpled sheets was the last thing Harry needed to imagine right now. He let out a strangled noise.

“I’m the one who should apologise, I reckon. Almost made you piss your bed.” Louis’ little giggle took away from the apology, in Harry’s opinion.

It’s tough to piss when you’re hard, Harry almost said, but clamped his mouth shut. “You don’t hate me then?”

“Hate you?” Louis turned on his side, hands tucked beneath his cheek. Harry really wanted to kiss him. “Fuck no. I’m a bit fond of you, actually. ‘S hard not to be now that I know you better. You’re smart and funny and, um… cute. A bit.”

Harry’s heart clenched almost painfully. Louis thought he was funny and smart and cute. “A bit?”

Louis bopped him on the tip of his nose and smiled. “Maybe a little more than a bit.”

But what did that even mean? Cute as a puppy? Or cute as someone you’d want to marry and live in a gated community with, six children trailing after you on a Sunday afternoon out in a park? “Louis.”

“I might want to kiss you right now, so yeah,” Louis admitted, lifting the pillow to hold it in front of his face.

It took Harry a moment to comprehend the words, to realise Louis wasn’t joking or a very vivid figment of Harry’s overactive imagination. That he wanted to kiss Harry. Not because he was tipsy or felt sorry for Harry, but because he really wanted to.

Harry swiped his tongue over his lips, his shaking hands clenched in the duvet. “Okay.”

Louis’ dropped the pillow, mouth opening and closing as if he wasn’t quite sure what to say. “Okay?”

Harry swallowed hard and nodded, couldn’t quite stop trembling with the enormity of it all as Louis scooted so close to him his breath tickled Harry’s jaw.

“Do you mind if I, like, snuggle up to you a bit more?” He stroked Harry’s arm from wrist to elbow, the feel of it so reassuring Harry found himself relaxing into the mattress, only worried Louis could never get close enough.

“You can do… you can do whatever you want.”

“Fuck, Harry, you can’t just—”

“Like this?” Harry asked and pulled Louis to lie half on top of him with his arm around Louis’ waist, bodies flush from chest to hip, one of Louis’ thighs wedged between Harry’s. The intimacy of being so close— close enough to let the tip of his nose brush Louis’ in an Eskimo kiss if he leaned up a bit— sent Harry’s heart galloping so fast it made him lightheaded.

“Yeah, yes.” Louis’ gentle fingers brushed Harry’s hair away from his face. “All right?”

Harry didn’t trust himself to speak, so he just nodded, his stomach swooping kind of like it would have if he’d stood in a lift that went too fast.

“What…. What do I do?” he whispered when Louis leaned in, his breath minty fresh.

“Close your eyes.” Louis’ lips grazed Harry’s cheek as he spoke, sent a shiver of need down Harry’s spine. “Follow my lead.”

When Louis’ lips touched the corner of his mouth, Harry parted his lips on instinct, just wanting and needing so much he felt the throb of it ripple over every nerve ending in his body. Louis’ lips finally pressed against his, damp and electric, and the stars burst behind Harry’s closed eyelids. He keened into Louis’ mouth, the pillowy softness of Louis’ lips against his so much better than anything he had ever dreamt up. He slid his hands down Louis’ back and slipped under his T-shirt to touch the warm skin of his waist as Louis gently pulled Harry’s bottom lip into his mouth and ribbed over it with his teeth.

Harry dragged in a desperate breath through his nose when their lips parted in unison and came together again with a slick sound, pressing and slanting together to create friction that had Harry scratching up Louis’ back.

“Fuck, Harry,” Louis breathed into his mouth and ran the tip of his tongue over the seam of Harry’s lips. He didn’t think, closed his lips around Louis’ tongue and suckled, whimpering because Louis tasted so good Harry wanted to devour him. For hours and hours and hours.

It was so quiet Harry could hear each little keening noise strangled in the back of Louis’ throat, their lips parting and meeting with an obscene, wet sound again and again. When Louis pulled away to breathe, his lips were visibly damp and swollen even in the dark, and Harry did that.

“When I lick into your mouth,” Louis murmured, voice raw and breathless and Harry dug his fingers into Louis’ back because he missed the taste of him already, “meet me with your tongue. Slide it over mine and chase me back into my mouth, yeah?”

Harry just whimpered and let Louis press him into the pillow with the increasing urgency of his lips. When their tongues met and slid over each other, it felt like touching a live wire, as if ever cell of his body was bursting like a supernova. Everything just felt… more. Sharper and clearer and so sensitive he felt himself shiver with the simplest brush of Louis’ thumb behind his ear.

“You’re a,” Louis bit down on Harry’s bottom lip, pulled at it, “fast learner.”

“Kiss me, kiss me, kiss me,” Harry pleaded, leaning up to nibble at Louis’ bottom lip in return, palms smoothing over the bare planes of Louis’ back.

Louis gave in easily, kissing Harry deep and thorough, the pressure of his lips exciting and unpredictable enough to make Harry squirm. And then Louis fisted his hand in Harry’s hair to tilt his head to the side and Harry was pretty sure he couldn’t even remember his own name right now. Not now, and certainly not when Louis nibbled his way down the line of Harry’s jaw, pressed his kiss-swollen, open mouth to the firing nerve endings on Harry’s neck and sucked.

“Oh God, oh my g—” Harry’s eyes rolled into the back of his head, mouth dropping open to pull in air in gulps that didn’t feel like enough.

“Fuck, Harry I didn’t know you’d be so…” Louis kissed his way up Harry’s throat and nosed behind his ear, lips following suit to plant little kisses right behind Harry’s earlobe. “You smell so good.”

“I, um… I showered.”

“It’s you,” Louis protested, sucking Harry’s earlobe into his hot mouth. “All you.”

“Louis,” he said on a drawn-out exhale, feeling as if his skin was too small for his body, “if you don’t stop, I’ll—”

“You’ll what,” Louis asked quietly, lips hovering over Harry’s, his hand trailing down his neck and chest to settle right over his heart. He must have felt the way Harry’s heart was trying to jump out of his chest, but said nothing.

“It’s, um… it’s a lot and I’m,” too close to getting off on this, on Louis’ mouth and taste and touch that felt like jolts of electricity licking over Harry’s skin, “You know.”

“How do you do that?” Louis asked, stealing a lingering, close-mouthed kiss. “Be so cute and yet so… snoggable.”

“Is that even a word?” Harry grinned, high-strung and buzzing, fingertips brushing over the dimples at the bottom of Louis’ spine. Harry wanted to lick them.

“It is now,” Louis said, one curved eyebrow raised in challenge.

“Wait,” Harry said, blinking. “Does that mean you’d want to… like, snog me again?”

Louis leaned in to press their cheeks together, kissed the edge of Harry’s jaw. “Fuck, yeah. If you do, too.”

“Louis,” he licked over his swollen lips, stomach swooping. “I wrote you poems.”

“You know, one day I’m going to get you to let me read them.”

“Never,” Harry vowed, but somehow doubted he’d be strong enough to keep saying “no” forever, which was incidentally the amount of time he wanted to spend with Louis. “Please kiss me again?” Was this what being addicted felt like?

“Just a quick one, I don’t want to go too far. Get too out of control.” He brushed a kiss over Harry’s lips, warm and smooth and perfect.

“I know, I know.” Harry felt the sizzling heat of it tingle down to his toes, was so, so tempted even though he wasn’t quite ready for more than this.

Louis kissed him one last time before he pulled away and rolled off Harry to lie by his side. “I should probably go back to Liam’s.”

“But why?” Harry turned over to face him, giving him his best sad pout and hoping Louis could see well enough to be, hopefully, affected.

“Because you’re… God, Harry, you’re naked under there!” Louis put a pillow over his face and groaned, muttered under his breath, “Trying to kill me off, I swear on me life.”

“But I’ll be good,” Harry insisted, pulled the pillow off Louis’ face.

“Don’t say stuff like that,” Louis said, voice strangled and what. What had Harry even said?

“But I will. I won’t even kiss you.”

“In what world is that considered good?” He pinched Harry’s pouting bottom lip between his thumb and index finger, pulling at it.

“Stay? Please? So we can cuddle?” Harry slurred out, licking over his lip once Louis released it. “Or not. We don’t have to. Whatever you want.”

“Snoring Liam or cuddles,” Louis said with a heavy sigh. “I honestly can’t decide.”

Harry hid his smile in the corner of his duvet. Couldn’t believe he’d just kissed Louis. Louis. With his mouth and tongue, like, properly French-kissed him and got to smooth his hands down Louis’ naked back. And Louis was still here, lying right next to him, loose-limbed and most likely smiling, and maybe they’d cuddle.

“Did you just squeal?” Louis asked.

When Harry glanced up and saw Louis smirk, he felt all the blood rush to his cheeks. “No?”

“Does that mean it was all right then?” Louis asked, voice a little unsure as he poked his finger into Harry’s cheek, right where the dimple would have been.

Harry couldn’t have that. Not when he was trying to work out the logistics of spending the rest of his life attached to Louis’ lips. “Better than that. It was…” He whimpered. Wanted to slap his past self for saying he wouldn’t try to kiss Louis again tonight. “I kind of want to do it all the time.”

“Going to need a lot of chapstick then, love.”

“I have a minty one? And then this, um, wild berries one?”

Louis carded his fingers through Harry’s hair. “Why am I not surprised?”

Before he could overthink it, he caught Louis’ wrist and pressed his lips to the inside of it, right to the papery skin. “Louis?”


“I’m glad it was you.”

Louis cupped his cheek, his nose now only an inch away from Harry’s. “So am I.”

“I like you,” Harry whispered even though it felt a bit like he was splitting himself open.

Louis pulled him into his arms, tucked Harry’s head into the crook of his neck and hooked his leg over Harry duvet-covered hip like a human koala. “I am pretty great, aren’t I?”

Harry pressed his smile into Louis’ skin, the warmth of his body and lazy fingers combing through Harry’s hair lulling him to sleep.

“Yeah, you are,” he said and vaguely felt Louis nose at the crown of his head before the sleep dragged him under.


Chapter Text

Rather than being woken up with Louis’ kisses, Harry stirred to a hand shaking his shoulder and a tight-lipped mother hovering over his bed.

Harry blinked up at her, brain too slow to register he was neck deep in a shit creek. His arm was slung around Louis’ waist, Louis’ back curved into his naked chest. And naked everything, really. The duvet had been kicked down to his knees and the one Louis had dragged in from Liam’s room was nowhere to be seen. Shit.

“Downstairs,” was all Mum said before she walked out of the room with the door left open. He had no idea what time it was because the room was bathed in gloomy grey, light drizzle hitting the windowpanes.

With a groan, Harry tightened his arm around Louis and nuzzled the sleep-warm nape of Louis’ neck one last time before he got banned from cuddling boys in his bed for all eternity. And oh god, he’d been cuddling Louis. All night. After they’d kissed and Louis had called him cute. And now Louis’ bum was pressed flush against Harry’s pelvis, and he was only human. He might have been a seventeen-year-old who had only had his first kiss last night, but he would have eaten that bum in a heartbeat.

“Hmm,” Louis breathed out, groggy and soft as he burrowed back into Harry’s arms. Harry wanted to keep him forever.

When Harry tried to slowly extricate his numb arm from beneath Louis’ head, Louis just whined and pulled the arm around his waist closer to himself as if it was his favourite teddy bear. What was Harry supposed to do now?


“No,” Louis said, voice still thick with sleep. “Where ‘re you going? I’m cold.”

“I need to… downstairs.”

“But I need your body heat to keep me warm,” Louis mumbled, half into the pillow. “If you leave I’ll freeze to death and wither away.”

Harry couldn’t help but smile, even though he was minutes away from being chewed up by his mother. “I’ll tuck you in really tight, okay?”

Louis huffed, but let him go. Or so Harry thought. Just as he was kneeing up and about to cover Louis up with his duvet, Louis turned around and latched onto his legs with both arms.

Harry had to brace himself on Louis’ shoulder to keep from toppling over. “Oh my god, Louis—”

Louis’ face was puffy with sleep, eyes closed and he was inches away from Harry’s more than semi-interested penis. Fuck.

“Louis, I’m naked,” Harry whispered urgently and resolved not to notice what it felt like to have Louis’ hair tickle his thigh.

Louis’ eyes flew open, his hold loosening as he slowly let go. He was definitely not looking at Harry’s eyes. “Oh.”

Harry grabbed a pillow to cover himself up just as Louis politely averted his gaze. His mouth twitched, the corner of it lifting up in a smirk. “Mate, you’re packing. I bet it could wrap around my whole face.”

Harry squeaked and turned red to the roots of his sleep-tussled hair, trying not to think about his penis wrapped around Louis’ face. “Louis!”

“Well, it’s true!”

Harry didn’t exactly know, seeing as the only cock he’d seen outside of gay porn was his own. “Really?”

Louis sprawled on his back, a dirty smile on his face that had Harry fisting the pillow. “It’s a thing of beauty, I swear on me mum’s life.”

“That’s just wrong.” But speaking of, “Oh, fuck.”


“I have to go. Mum kind of caught us… like this. And stuff. She wants to talk to me.” He should really, really go. Like, five minutes ago. “Um… oops?”

Louis didn’t seem particularly worried, but that was probably because it hadn’t been his mother catching them mid half-naked cuddling. “You said the same thing when you splashed your wee on me trousers back in the day. Think it might have been the first thing you ever said to me.”

Wait. What? “You… you remember that?” He was not going to tear up. He was naked and sleep-rumpled and so above it. Well. Not really.

“Well, it was memorable. I had to go change into gym shorts and everything.”

Harry tried really hard not to sniff, and failed. “You said ‘hi’. The first thing you ever… yeah. I think, if it had been anyone but you I’d have got hit in the face.” It was also the moment Harry had found out what having a real crush was like. He kept that to himself.

“Awww, Harry. I’d rather have your pee splash on me than anyone else’s.” Louis made grabby hands and smiled. “Come here and give us a hug. You’re too far.”

It took Harry exactly one second to obey and cuddle up to Louis, his hand stroking up and down Harry’s back. “There’s a good lad.”

He wanted Louis to call him good every single day for the rest of his life.

Louis kissed him between the brows and whispered, “Nice little body too.”

Harry clamped his teeth down on the side of Louis’ neck then remembered himself and pulled away, ready to apologise. He was turning into a barbarian, god.

“If you don’t stop seducing me, your mum will be waiting for at least an hour, just so you know.”

The apology died on his lips. “An hour?” He burrowed his face into the crook of Louis’ neck.

“At least,” Louis said, fingertips trailing up the knobs of Harry’s spine until they were brushing over the short hair at the nape of his neck.

“What,” Harry started, swallowed hard, “what would we do?”

“Anything you’d want to.” Louis’ voice was like melted sugar and Harry wanted to lick him all over to find out if he tasted the same. “Cuddle. Snog. Anything.”

“I really don’t want to go down now.” For more reasons than one.

“I would go down in a second,” Louis said and bit Harry’s earlobe, and oh god, he was totally talking about fellatio.

“Louis!” He barely held back from shifting his hips against the pillow or kissing Louis until they were both dizzy with the need to breathe. Either. Both. Who even was he anymore?

“All right, you better go talk to your mum. Tell her she won’t need to rip my bollocks off.” He flattened his hand in the middle of Harry’s back, his thumb gently rubbing back and forth as he added, “If you want me to come down with you, just say the word.”

“No, it’s okay. I should probably go talk to her alone.” He wanted to stay right here, but got up with a strategically placed pillow and pouted. He stayed put, even though every cell in his body strained to settle back into Louis’s orbit again as if he was gravity.

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, I am.” He smiled, because he couldn’t not.

“All right.” With a quick, answering grin, Louis chucked a pillow at Harry’s chest. “And for god’s sake, put some pants on!”


Now that Harry knew what Louis tasted like and how the texture of Louis’ tongue felt against his, the drive to school was a bit strange. He couldn’t stop playing with the little buttons on his sweater vest in order to distract himself from staring at the back of Louis’ head from his spot in the backseat. Louis hadn’t used any hair product today, so he might as well have put a sign on with ‘pet me’ written on it. And Harry wanted to. He really, really wanted to.

“So,” Louis said and cleared his throat, hands fidgeting with his seatbelt as he spared Harry a glance over his shoulder. “How bad was it? The talk?”

Harry sent a wild look over at Liam, but couldn’t really tell what his expression was. He tried to come up with something neutral. “Um… all right.” How did one say ‘mum asked me to please not shag in the house while she’s there’ without betraying one’s… secret snogging partner? Future spouse and father of one’s children? “She told me to, uh… keep to myself when the house isn’t empty?” There. Harry was the master of euphemisms.

“So she didn’t ground you?”

“The worse she can do is take my books away, but I’ve got some on my laptop too and I need it to do my homework.” Harry shrugged. “The benefits of being boring, I guess.”

Louis twisted around in his seat with a grunt and stretched his arm out through the gap between the two front seats, the corners of his mouth tilted down. “Get over here.”

Harry shuffled forward before he could even question himself, the seatbelt digging into his chest.

Louis cupped the back of his head to pull him closer. “Don’t,” he said and then his lips were on Harry’s, light and quick, “put,” another kiss, “yourself,” and another, “down.” He parted his lips against Harry’s and lingered this time, and Harry’s head was spinning as he kissed Louis back.

“Can you two not snog in the car?”

And fuckfuckfuck, the second Louis’ mouth had touched his he’d forgotten the world hadn’t shrunk to just the two of them. That Liam was, in fact, sitting right there. Harry broke away, fought the urge to undo the top button of his shirt because he could feel himself turning red. “We weren’t! We’re not… I, um—”

“Harry, it’s all right,” Louis said, voice soft and kind and he was still facing Harry, even though being twisted around like that must have started to get uncomfortable. “It’s just banter.”

“I mean, all the smacking isn’t exactly—”

“Get over it.” Louis took Liam’s hat and set it on his own head. “Do I ever complain when you and Sophia suck face?”

“Actually, yeah. All the time,” Liam said, fighting a grin. Harry didn’t understand what was going on. “You kept throwing peas at us just yesterday.”

“Well, you weren’t paying attention to me.” Louis sniffed and twisted the snapback backwards. “Absolutely deplorable.”

“So you knew?” Harry blurted out. “That Louis and I…” he trailed off, unsure how to call this exactly.

Liam stopped at the red light and glanced over his shoulder. “Um, yeah. I mean, Tommo here couldn’t stop t—”

“The lights!” Louis yelled, loud enough to make Harry’s ears ring. “They’re green!” He pinched Liam’s shoulder and turned the music up on the radio, sang along with made-up lyrics.

Harry spent the rest of the drive trying not to giggle like the smitten idiot he was whenever Louis butchered the notes on purpose.


People kept throwing him not-so-subtle glances when they thought he wasn’t looking, but not nearly as many as he’d expected and no one actually came up to him to tease him as he stopped in front of his locker. Not even Andy, whom Harry hadn’t seen at all. The knot in his stomach loosened considerably.

When Harry shut his locker door shut and found Louis leaning there with waggling eyebrows and a smirk, he almost dropped his Physics textbook.

“Christ, Louis—”

“You’re cute.”

“Um,” Harry fish-mouthed at Louis for the most embarrassing five seconds of his life and stuttered out, “thanks?”

“You’re all buttoned-up and proper. Makes me want to mess you up.”

He may have squeaked, the tips of his ears burning.

“And, like, do you know how fit you look in those trousers?” Louis bit his lip and swept his gaze so slowly and thoroughly down Harry’s body that he might as well touched him skin-on-skin. “Your bum.”

“But like,” Harry managed, hugged the textbook to his chest, “I don’t really have a bum?” Not like Louis did.

“Don’t really have a…” Louis made an indignant noise and shouldered off the lockers until he was a breath away from Harry. Harry’s arms dropped to his sides as if Louis had a force field around him. Or maybe Harry just didn’t want to have anything between them. “You do. It’s small, yes, but it’s cute and perky. Would fit right in me hands.”

Harry almost let it slip that Louis could touch it a little if he wanted to, but stopped himself just in time. “But your bum…”

“What about it?” Louis asked, biting down on a smile. His eyes crinkled up on the edges anyway and he lost the fight, his smile getting wider and wider. Harry almost forgot what he’d meant to say in the first place.

“It’s, um…” He gave a wistful sigh. “It’s brilliant.” Would fit right in Harry’s hands, and now he knew for sure they were soulmates, thrown together by fate based on their undeniably compatible hands-to-bum ratio.

“Very fond of it myself, gotta say. One of these days I’ll insure it. Like J Lo.”

One of these days Harry would maybe get to squeeze it. Oh God. “Lou?”

“Yes, pumpkin?”

They were at school and people were walking by them to get to their lockers or on their way to classes and Harry had never been more distracted, didn’t even care anymore if anyone was listening in or giving them weird looks. “Do you want to, like… hang out? Later. After school?” His heart was beating high in his throat, wouldn’t stop even when he swallowed.

“Oh,” Louis said, brows pulled in by a frown. “I can’t.”

Harry was a bloody idiot. Couldn’t believe how much the less-than-enthusiastic response actually surprised him when he should have been expecting it before he’d even opened his mouth. The hands-to-bum ratio clearly meant nothing and fate was a cruel tosser.

“It’s fine,” Harry hurried to say, pushing his glasses up to the root of his nose. “I wasn’t even, it’s not like…” He gave up with a frustrated sigh and ducked his head.

“No, no, no, it’s not that I don’t want to,” Louis said, his day old stubble suddenly brushing against Harry’s neck as Louis stepped up to him and rested his chin on Harry’s shoulder. “I just… I have to get home to look after the girls. Or I would. I really, really would.”

Harry lifted a tentative arm and wrapped it around Louis’ shoulders, eyes closed. Maybe he’d overacted. A little bit. “I could help you?”

Louis hummed and slumped against Harry like a ragdoll.

“I mean, only if you want me to. I don’t want to impose.”

“My sisters are a handful,” Louis warned, his hair tickling Harry’s cheek. “You sure you wouldn’t rather be doing something fun?”

More fun than being around Louis? Like what? “No, I just… I’d like to hang out. With you. If that’s okay?”

Louis turned his face into Harry’s neck, his lips dry and soft as they brushed over Harry’s skin. “As if I’d say no.” He looped his arms around Harry’s waist and squeezed tight. “Don’t expect any glamour though.”

“No glamour,” Harry said, feeling like he’d swallowed a ball of sunshine that was lighting him up from the inside. “Got it.”


Louis had posters of Man U and bands and a half naked David Beckham on the walls of his bedroom, a massive bed that took up almost half of the space and a handful of glittery hair bands on the desk that Harry was about fifty percent sure didn’t actually belong to Louis. His hair wasn’t long enough.


“Yeah?” He spun away from a wooden dresser with a pair of socks in his hand, eyebrows raised in question.

Now that he had Louis’ attention, words got caught in his throat. He tugged at the bottom of his sweater vest and tried to formulate how touched he was. How grateful that Louis hadn’t just swept the kiss under the rug or acted as if all he’d done was do Harry a massive favour then pretended it had never happened.

“You’re,” Harry started, self-conscious, “you’re really nice.” And why? Why couldn’t he ever communicate like a normal human being? He ran his frustrated hands down his face and almost dislodged his glasses in the process, because of course.

“Well, cheers. You are too.”

When Harry looked up, Louis was standing in front of him, socks left abandoned on the dresser. He looked down at Louis’ bare feet and watched him wiggle his toes.

“Sorry. You make me forget how to English.” The second the sentence left his mouth, he felt a wave of heat rush into his face. “Speak, I mean! I just… don’t… I—”

Louis kissed him. Just fisted his hands in Harry’s sweater vest to pull him close and smashed his smiling mouth into Harry’s as if it was no big deal. Harry’s hands dropped down to Louis’ hips, his glasses digging into his face a little as they parted their lips and tasted each other deeper. He didn’t even care, because Louis tasted like spearmint gum and his lips were softsoftsoft.

They parted with a smack and a thin string of saliva. Harry’s knees felt like jell-o.

“You’re nice too,” Louis said, his voice rougher than it had been before. Harry’s brain almost short-circuited at the thought of affecting Louis like this. “So, so nice.” He bit the tip of Harry’s nose. “And quirky. And your mouth, Christ.” He lapped at the seam of Harry’s parted lips, pulled away before Harry could reciprocate. Louis just stared, eyes trained on Harry’s mouth so intently Harry felt them tingle under the scrutiny. He licked over them, sucked in a sharp breath when Louis rubbed the pad of his thumb back and forth over his damp, sensitive bottom lip. He had to grip Louis’ hips harder in case his knees gave out.

And maybe it was because his brain had decided to go on an extended vacation that he pursed his lips around Louis’ thumb and slowly sucked it into his mouth until the second knuckle. It wasn’t until Louis let out this strangled little noise that Harry realised that not only had he closed his eyes, he’d been sucking at Louis’ finger as if it was a lollipop. He snapped his eyes open and paused, met Louis’ heavy-lidded gaze. What the hell was wrong with him?

He released Louis’ finger with an audible pop and wondered if his face could catch on fire.

“I, um…”

“Fuck, Harry,” Louis breathed out on a laugh and pressed his palms into his chest, walking him back until the backs of Harry’s knees hit the edge of the mattress. “You’re a vixen.”

Oh God, he was.


“You don’t seem very sorry.” With one single push, Harry found his bum planted on Louis’ bed. Bed, in which Louis slept and rolled around naked and did… other things. Christ.

And then Louis straddled him, and whatever it was Harry had meant to say flew out of the proverbial window. Louis’ strong thighs were clamped around Harry’s hips and his hands were cradling Harry’s face as if he was made of glass and Louis’ lips claimed his with a sense of urgency that had him wrapping his arms around Louis’ waist to hold onto him like Louis was the string to his kite.

“Fuck, you’re so,” Louis said, pulled at Harry’s bottom lip with his teeth, “responsive.”

He ground down on Harry’s lap and rolled his hips. Fireworks exploded behind Harry’s closed eyelids, an embarrassing little whimper punched out of his throat. He felt so utterly out of control. It would have been so easy to give in, to just grip Louis’ hips and help him rock back and forth until they couldn’t handle it anymore, and he wanted to. Wanted to so bad, but something just wouldn’t let him and he just… couldn’t. He just couldn’t.

He drew back. “Wait, Louis, wait. Can we…” he stammered out, blinked his eyes open and refused to look up to see the puzzled disappointment on Louis’ face. “It’s just, um… please wait? Can we… I can’t. I’m sorry.”


“I’m so,” he bit down on his lip and awkwardly extricated himself from under Louis, almost falling to the floor in the process, “sorry.”

His stuff. Where was his stuff? He could swear he’d put it right by Louis’ desk—

“Harry, wait. Don’t.” Louis had hopped off the bed, stood a couple feet away with a kiss-swollen mouth, and that definitely wasn’t a phone in his pocket, oh god. “Can we talk?”

“I’m sorry.”

“Okay,” Louis said and collapsed back on the bed, watching Harry carefully. “Why?

The thing was, Harry didn’t even know. He just felt… guilty, maybe. Stuck up. “I didn’t mean to, like… I’m just.” He found his bag, his lungs so tight he wished he had an inhaler with him.

“Hey, no. It’s fine. Honestly.”

“Maybe I should go,” Harry said, slung his bag over his shoulder and staggered to his feet.

“You can, if you want to,” Louis said quietly, hands folded in his lap. “I won’t keep you here. I won’t make you do anything you don’t want to, you know. I would never. So, at least… don’t be sorry? There’s nothing to be sorry for.” Louis cleared his throat, looked down at his hands rather than Harry, who didn’t quite know where to look either. “I’m sorry, if anything.”

“What?” Harry tugged at his bag strap and frowned. “No.”

“I’m sorry if I took it too far. I just got… carried away. Sometimes I forget that you’re, um…”

“A bloody virgin?” he said with barely any heat behind his voice. The number of times they’d called him that at school as an insult could set some kind of record. Told him that he’d never get anyone to want him back, that unless he paid someone he’d die alone. And yet here was the only person Harry had ever wanted, and he’d probably fucked it all up already. Why couldn’t he just get over—

“Don’t say it like that,” Louis said, brows furrowed. “And unless you really want to, please don’t go? I don’t want you to feel like I only brought you here to get off with you. I like you.” His face softened, all the sharp edges smoothing out. The tight vice around Harry’s lungs loosened. He hadn’t. He hadn’t fucked it up. “I really like you. We can just hang out.”

I like you too, so much. You’re so much better than I’d ever even thought. “But I made everything awkward.”

“By telling me how you feel? I’m glad you did.” Louis got up and walked over to him, one hand curled around Harry’s elbow. “Please stay?”

When Louis pulled at Harry’s bag strap and raised his eyebrows in an unvoiced question, Harry just nodded and let Louis slip it off his shoulder and drop it to the floor.

“Cuddles?” Louis asked and Harry felt a bit stupid and irrational for tearing up, so he just nodded and let Louis hug him. He nuzzled Louis’ neck, each tight string of anxiety loosening up with every broad stroke of Louis’ hand up and down his back.

“I love the kissing,” Harry mumbled, relaxing into Louis’ body completely. “Just so you know.”

“Good,” Louis said with a smile in his voice and kissed his temple. “You feeling all right?”

“Better,” Harry said. “Thank you.”

“You deserve all the good things, Harry Styles.” Then he added, much more quietly, “Probably better than I can give you.”

Harry tightened his arms around Louis and shook his head. “That’s not true.”

“You’re just blinded by my incredible looks,” Louis said, pretending and failing at turning it into a joke. More seriously, he added, “You’re the smartest person I know. You’ll make it far. Maybe I should have you sign me an autograph so I can sell it on Ebay after you win a Nobel Prize. You know, for when I’m forty and working at Asda.”

“Hey, there’s nothing wrong with working at Asda. But you won’t. You’ll make it far too. I know you will,” he insisted. “The chances are certainly bigger than me winning a Nobel Prize.”

“Well, I wish I had as much faith in me as you do.”

“I’ll have faith in you for both of us.” He would. He’d make Louis see how great he was. Because Louis lit up everything around him as if he had sunlight right under the surface of his skin, and maybe he didn’t get straight As at school, but he had so much more going for him. He could do anything and succeed. Harry had never been surer.

“Last week, my geography teacher told me,” Louis said so quietly Harry would have missed it if he hadn’t been so close, would have missed the catch in Louis’ voice as he added, “he told me that I’d never amount to anything.”

“Fuck him,” Harry said, seriously considering finding out the man’s address just so he could light Dusty’s poo on his doormat. “Prove him wrong.”

“Yeah.” Louis exhaled, long and shaky and nodded. “Yeah, okay.” Harry still heard but what if he’s right in between the lines of Louis’ unsure words.

“He doesn’t know what he’s on about. He doesn’t even know you.” Harry pulled back and cradled Louis’ face, smoothing his thumbs over the sharp edges of Louis’ cheekbones. He caught Louis’ gaze, made sure he could see how serious Harry was. How much he believed in him. “You can do anything, Louis. Anything.”

“And if not, you can always become my sugar daddy,” Louis said, because he always did it. Hid behind humour when things got too much. He did, but Harry could read how touched he was in the way he gently stroked down Harry's back and the unguarded smile on his face.

“I have a feeling it’ll be the other way around.”

“Have you as my sugar baby?” Louis asked. The widening grin on his face made Harry blush as much as being called Louis’ baby. “Well, I can’t let you down now, can I?”

Harry shook his head and pressed his lips to Louis’ in a soft kiss, and even though the implied future was just a part of the joke, Harry knew this was it for him. Louis was it. And he might have been just seventeen, naïve and idealistic still, but he couldn’t imagine his future with anyone else standing by his side.


Chapter Text

When Louis had mentioned that his sisters were a handful, Harry hadn’t quite expected a pair of identical twins barging into the house covered head-to-toe in mud. He hadn’t, but if they were anything but Louis, he wasn’t really surprised. Louis berated them, then gave up with a sigh when all they did was giggle. He picked them up, set each of them on his hip before they could scatter away and carried them to the upstairs bathroom. Harry couldn’t help but giggle when they wiped their dirty hands down Louis’ disgruntled face.

“Et tu, Brutus?” Louis asked him, mouth wide in exaggerated shock. He even staggered to the side dramatically. The girls shrieked and held onto him tight and Harry just fell more deeply down the rabbit’s hole.

They spent the evening down in the living room pretending to study as all the girls watched TV. Harry tried not to giggle too much at Louis’ running commentary that had the girls throwing pillows at him. The girls liked Harry. Didn’t talk down to him or treated him like a stranger at all.

“Oh, so you’re the Harry,” Lottie, the oldest one, had said with a smirk that had earned her a flick on the ear from Louis and a snort from Felicite.

Harry had just given Louis a puzzled smile that had gone unanswered and said, “Um, yeah. I’m Harry.”

“You’re cute. You can stay,” the twins had said in unison and dragged him into the kitchen to get cookies, and that had been that.

The meeting with Jay was a lot more awkward, since she caught them attached at the lips in front of the house when she was returning from her hospital shift.

“Mum,” Louis said once they finally realised their names were being called.

“Finally,” she said, amused. “Thought I’d be standing here yelling ‘hi’ to you all day.”

“Hello Mrs. Tomlinson,” Harry squeaked out and resisted the urge to wipe his mouth. He could still taste Louis on them. “Sorry.”

“It’s all right, love,” she said kindly and ruffled Louis hair, to Louis’ chagrin. “Don’t be too long, Boobear, or poor Harry here won’t have any lips left.”

“Say hi to Anne for me, will you, love?”

“Yes, of course.”

She squeezed Harry’s shoulder and walked inside.

It took Harry about two seconds to get over being embarrassed as hell, because Boobear.

“Don’t,” Louis warned and put his finger over Harry’s grinning mouth. “Don’t you dare.”

“I would never,” he laughed and smoothed Louis’ hair down into something resembling order, “Boobear.”

Louis groaned and dropped his forehead on Harry’s shoulder. “I’ll never live this one down, will I?”

“Afraid not.”

Louis huffed and bit down on his shoulder. The little twinge of pain really shouldn’t have sent a little shock of pleasure down his spine, but it did. “You’re lucky I like you.”

“I am,” he said, and meant it.


Harry was trying to figure out the root of the equation when his phone beeped. He shouldn’t look. Not when he still had two more problems to solve and a brewing headache.

His phone beeped again.

Harry threw his pen down on top of the book and rolled over to the edge of the bed until he could grab his phone off the nightstand. It was probably Gemma. Then again, he’d talked to her yesterday, spending a whole 43 minutes talking mostly about Louis. Gemma had hung up on him after threatening him with bodily harm, so. Probably not her.

He had a message from an unknown number, which. Okay. Someone must have texted the wrong number. Not the first time. The last time it had happened, he’d received a photo of an anonymous dick and a request for one in return. He’d never replied.

His thumb hovered over the screen before he finally decided to swipe.

‘I never did thank u for washing me shoes have I ?’

Harry scratched the side of his head and replied, ‘Who is this??’



‘Yes, pumpkin. Now about those shoes’

‘Oh. I did, yeah. Cleaned them. They were dirty!’

‘Well, cheers. Mum appreciated it. not so much when I told her I didn’t clean them but u did haha’

Harry flopped on his back and smiled like the smitten fool he was. Nobody could see him anyway.

‘I like to clean.’

‘We really are a match made in heaven. Like the same stuff too… ;)’

What was that even supposed to mean? He had seen The Script poster in Louis’ room. Was that it?

‘Like music stuff?’

‘I reckon that too ! But… I might have, uh… don’t be embarrassed !!’

‘Oh God, what? Why??’

‘When you sent me up to your room to get me shoes from under your bed back then I might have looked in the wrong box…’

Harry dropped his phone on his face. “Ow, fuck, shit!”

He was almost afraid to look when his phone beeped again, but curiosity won.

‘I felt bad for keeping my knowledge of this from u! Sorry, didn’t do it on purpose’

‘Oh my God!!’

‘Noooo, it’s fine !! At least I know now u like glittery plugs and passionfruit lube’

Harry had never been more mortified and strangely turned on at the same time. He wasn’t quite sure what to do with this information.

‘Are you taking the piss?’

‘I am teasing u a little bit yeah, but not taking the piss. Far would it be for me to do so when I’ve stuff of me own hidden in old textbooks drawer’

‘Old textbooks drawer?’

‘Too many nosy women. Last time mum went on a cleaning frenzy we ended up having words about sex and safety bc she found my dildo stash when she was putting my clean pants away’

Harry had to muffle his giggles in the pillow, feeling just a little too hot under his collar. ‘Stash?? Just how many do you have??’

‘Thought I’d be brave so I ordered one that turned out to be TOO big. Had to order a smaller one. Also got a plug and other stuff. It almost financially ruined my younger self, harry, those things are expensive !!’

Harry bit down on the edge of his thumbnail and tried hard not to imagine Louis using any of those.

‘Bloody waste too. I mostly like giving better than receiving anyway’

Harry whined and absolutely refused to palm himself through his sweats.

‘I probably shouldn’t have said that’

‘No,’ Harry typed quickly. ‘I, um… I’d like receiving better I think.’

‘Would u? It can be nice. If you’re with the right person I mean’

‘Yeah, I like… I like to feel full.’

He couldn’t believe he’d typed it. That he’d sent it. Oh God. Had he just sexted Louis? What if Louis never replied? What if thought Harry was weird? What if—

‘Fuck, harry’

‘Please don’t think I’m weird now.’

‘I think you’re kind of perfect’

They kept messaging back and forth about silly things until Harry’s mum called him down for dinner. And when his screen lit up with a ‘Goodnight pumpkin’ text from Louis right at bedtime, he replied with ‘Goodnight Boobear’ and fell asleep with butterflies taking flight in his stomach.


Books thumped down on the desk Harry was sitting at. He startled so much he dropped his sandwich on his lap.

“Shit, sorry,” Louis said and reached down to gather up the stray bits of salad, without any preamble or thought to Harry’s very interested penis.

“Louis, don’t, oh god.” He shooed Louis’ hands away and wondered whether he could blame the very obvious twitch in his trousers on polymers being a turn on.

“I was just being helpful,” Louis whispered with a sly grin and sat down next to Harry, their knees knocking together. “You’re welcome, by the way.”

“What are you doing here?” It was lunch break. Louis always sat with his many, many friends during lunch break. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you here during lunch.”

“Shush,” Louis berated with a very self-important sniff and opened his book. It was upside down. “I’m trying to study here, obviously.”


“My very education is at stake here, Harold. You’re being rude.”

Harry squirmed, his own work and sandwich forgotten because Louis’ thigh was warm and firm against his, and Louis had just dug his thumb into Harry’s knee.

Louis hooked his foot around Harry’s ankle and opened his notes, tongue peeking out of the corner of his mouth as he started to draw a stick figure with glasses in the upper corner.

“You’re not even working,” Harry complained rather loudly, forgetting to lower his voice.

The librarian popped up seemingly out of nowhere and tapped Louis on his shoulder. “Can you keep your voice down, Mr. Tomlinson? This is a library.”

Louis’ mouth dropped open, face so hilariously indignant that Harry had to muffle his laughter in Louis’ shoulder. It definitely had nothing to do with Harry’s desire to smell the mix of Louis’ cologne and laundry detergent and the sweet warmth of him. Because that would have been creepy.

“This is so unfair,” Louis whispered and pinched Harry’s thigh. “I can’t believe you got me in trouble. Why didn’t she say anything to you?”

“Straight A student,” Harry said with a shrug, smug as could be. “No one ever suspects me.”

“I am so getting back at you for this. Just you wait.”

Harry liked the idea of that more than he probably should have, especially if it included being tied to Louis’ bed and being teased relentlessly.

He turned so red at the thought he could feel the heat radiate off his face like a massive force field of sexually frustrated embarrassment.

“You all right there?” Louis asked, eyebrow arched. “You look awfully fidgety.”

Harry pushed his glasses further up his nose and slowly exhaled. “Yeah.”

“You’re blushing. Like, really blushing. Tomato red.” Louis grinned, bopping him on the nose. “It’s unfair to withhold.”

Harry shook his head, gnawing on his bottom lip.

“Write it?” He pushed his notes and pen over to Harry.

Harry picked up the pen and wrote, ‘Is that a drawing of me?’.

‘You won’t find out until you tell me what you’ve been thinking’

Harry started nibbling on the pen cap when he realised that it was not, in fact, his pen he was chewing on. He shot Louis an apologetic look and slipped it out of his mouth.

“I’ve had your tongue in my mouth, love. I don’t mind,” Louis whispered, lips soft and warm on Harry’s earlobe. “Now please tell me? I won’t ridicule you, you know that.”

“I know, I just…” He cleared his throat and loosened up his tie. God, Louis made him want to get over his every issue all at once and just show him. “Okay.”

He paused, the tip of the pen poised above the paper before he finally gathered up whatever courage he possessed and wrote, ‘I just thought of you tying me up and teasing me and it got me hot, sorry’.

When Louis suddenly stood up, Harry’s heart almost plummeted down to his freshly shined shoes.

“Louis, what—”

“I need a book and you’re going to help me find it. Right now.”

“Okay?” Harry swallowed down his squeak when Louis took a hold of his wrist and pulled him along to the stacks in the corner furthest away from the entrance door.

“I didn’t know you took psychology?”

“I don’t,” was Louis’ response before he leaned up to whisper, “I just really wanted to kiss you.”

“Oh. Okay. Yes, please.”

Louis pushed Harry against the row of books and smashed his lips against Harry’s, mouth open and urgent. Harry’s arms shot out to wrap tightly around Louis’ narrow waist, eyes slipping shut when Louis parted Harry’s lips with his tongue and deepened the kiss. Harry was really bloody glad his back was pressed against the shelves because he felt wobbly and weak.

When Louis tried to pull away, Harry whimpered and latched onto Louis’ bottom lip with his teeth, holding Louis so close he could almost feel his heartbeat. They traded warm, wet kisses that had Harry flush so hot his shirt turned itchy on his skin.

“Fuck, you look so hot in your glasses,” Louis said and dragged his mouth up Harry’s jaw to kiss the spot behind his ear.

“Don’t make fun of me.”

Louis bit down on his earlobe. “I wasn’t. I mean it.”

It wasn’t until someone cleared their throat that Harry realised they’d been snogging at school, in the library where the librarian could catch them at any moment and have them sent to the principal’s office for improper behaviour. Christ.

He looked over Louis’ shoulder at Niall, of all people, standing there, looking more amused than annoyed. Louis hadn’t stopped kissing behind Harry’s ear even after Harry pinched his side. Harry tried really hard not to moan.

“You’re hogging my book, lads,” he said with a grin, nonplussed.

“Huh?” Louis finally detached and spun around, cheeks flushed. “Oh, shit. Sorry, Nialler.”

“Sorry,” Harry squeaked out and dragged Louis to the side so Niall could get his book.

“Well, don’t stop on my account,” Niall said with a cheerful wink and tucked his book under his arm. “You’re quite cute together.”

“Thanks,” Louis said, still a bit red-cheeked but more in control of himself than Harry was. “Hey, Niall?”



Niall’s wide grin softened into a smile. His gaze briefly flickered over to Harry as he clapped Louis on his shoulder and said, “Yeah, of course.”

Niall waved them off and headed out of the section and Harry was nothing if not curious. “Um, so… you know Niall?”

Louis slumped back against him and puffed out a tickly breath against Harry’s throat. “Who doesn’t know Niall?”

Well, that much was probably true, but Harry was still trying to read between the lines. “He was the one who told you, wasn’t he? About Andy and stuff.” He never did say he was graceful or subtle about it.

“He didn’t do it because he’s a gossip,” Louis defended, pulling away to look up at Harry. “He and Zayn just—”


“Yeah. I reckon they wanted me to hear it from a reliable source. Like, make sure,” Louis said, rubbing the back of his neck. “Zayn kind of threatened to kick my arse if I was mean to you about it.”

Harry wasn’t quite sure how to feel about it, but he wasn’t angry or resentful. He knew they’d told Louis with good intention. Rather them than someone who might have twisted things around. “Zayn was really nice to me. He took me home.”

“Yeah. He’s got a soft heart, even though he won’t admit it.”

“I didn’t know you were such close mates.”

“We don’t hang out at school that much. He likes to keep to himself, usually. Doesn’t like to be around too many people. It’s all right,” Louis shrugged, “When we hang out, it’s usually in his basement. Just watching movies and chilling when his parents are out.”

Harry wrapped his fingers around Louis’ wrist tentatively, watching for his reaction. Louis just let himself be pulled in. Harry burrowed into his arms and closed his eyes. “I’m glad you weren’t mean to me.”

“Harry,” Louis said quietly. Fondly. “I could never be mean to a sweet face like yours.” He looped his arms around Harry’s neck and rained quick, aggressive kisses all over his face until Harry was fighting giggles. “You’re too cute!”

“Louis, Lou, shh—”

“No!” Louis said rather loudly and opened his mouth wide as though he was about to yell. Harry wouldn’t have put it past him, so he clamped his hand over Louis’ mouth and caught Louis’ muffled, “You’re too cute!” in his palm.

That was how the librarian found them. She stood there with hands on her hips and showed them out with a disappointed shake of her head.


The school day was nearing its end and Harry had managed to trip over his own feet only a few times, without falling over too, so he was counting it a success.

He rinsed the soapsuds off his hands under the flowing tap and turned it off, inspecting his hair in the mirror above the bathroom sink. Specks of dirt Harry didn’t fancy knowing the origin of dotted the sleek surface.

He was smoothing the sides of his hair back with damp hands, even though there wasn’t a hair out of place, when the door whooshed open.

Someone snickered, steps falling to a stop.

“Doubt you can make that any better,” said the voice, male and mocking and familiar. “You’d need a bloody miracle.”

Harry pushed his glasses to the bridge of his nose out of a nervous habit then dropped his hands to his sides. People may have made fun of the way he looked, but he took pride in his appearance. Always tried his best to look nice and put-together at school. He’d thought he looked rather all right today. Louis had said he did too.

“Are you just going to stand there and watch me take a leak or what?” Andy said and when Harry finally looked up from the floor, he immediately spotted the purpling bruise under Andy’s eye. “Well?”

Harry hunched his shoulders as he moved to walk past Andy when Andy said, “Good work during P. E. today. We made a bet on how many times you’d trip over your own feet during the game. You won me a tenner, mate.”

He could have said so many nasty things back. Could have asked about the shiner on Andy’s face even though he already sort of suspected who had put it there. He was a lot of things, but he wasn’t stupid. And he wasn’t, would have never wanted to be, like Andy. He’d never stoop to that level. He was better than that.

“I’m happy for you then,” Harry said, wiped his damp hands on a paper towel and tossed it in the bin as Andy gaped at him. He considered thanking Andy as well, because the funny thing was, if Andy hadn’t been so cruel, Harry wouldn’t have kissed Louis at all. In the end, he didn’t say anything but, “Have a nice day,” and walked out of the bathroom without looking back.


Harry sat on a bench by the empty football field with a book in his lap when a shadow fell over him. He jumped a little and looked up, forgetting to bookmark the page when he snapped the book shut. He definitely hadn’t been reading a graphic adult novel. Definitely not.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you,” Zayn said and sprawled on the bench next to Harry in the coolest, most casual way Harry had ever seen anyone sit. “What are you up to then?”

“Waiting for Louis and Liam,” he said, once he realised he wasn’t about to be mugged or chastised for reading not-quite-soft gay porn on the school grounds. “They’ve got one last class left.”

Zayn pulled out a pack of Marlboros and slid one skinny stick between his lips, put the pack away and cupped his hands around the lighter so the flame wouldn’t flicker out in the wind as he held it to the tip of the cigarette. He had this easy air about him that didn’t make Harry feel pressured to talk. It was nice.

“I’m sorry about the other day. For, like, freaking out on you,” Harry said, idly bending the corner of the paperback. “And I want to thank you. For being kind.”

“You shouldn’t have to thank me for that. Anyone half decent would have done the same.”

“Maybe,” Harry allowed. “But they didn’t.”

Zayn smiled and blew the smoke out of the corner of his mouth, away from Harry. “You don’t remember, do you? Like, last year behind the gym? The whole Mr. Lawrence thing.”

Harry wracked his brain but couldn’t come up with anything. “No, I don’t. Sorry.”

“It’s all right.” Zayn shrugged and breathed in another shot of nicotine. Exhaled. “It’s just… I remember sneaking out for a smoke and almost getting caught by the old todger. I don’t know why or how, but you were outside all decked out in your gym get-up and saw me heading behind the gym. He’d have found me skipping if you hadn’t distracted him. Never thanked you for that one, so I reckon we’re even.”

“Oh.” It did sound like something he would have done, and now he vaguely recalled asking Mr. Lawrence to take him to the nurse so he wouldn’t notice the boy who had ducked around the corner. The nurse and Harry had already been on the first name basis at that point, but Mr. Lawrence hadn’t known that. “No problem.”

“So, you and Louis, huh?” Zayn’s mouth lifted up in a smirk.

Harry ducked his blushing face and said, “Yeah.”

“I told him,” Zayn said and Harry looked up in surprise. “What happened. Just a very general outline. Didn’t want him to hear it from some gobby little shit, you know? Glad it worked out all right.”

“I know you did,” Harry admitted. “Louis kind of let it slip earlier.”

“You’re not pissed at me, are you?”

“No.” He watched silently as Zayn took another drag of the cigarette and let the smoke flow out of his mouth. It was a bit fascinating. “I get why you did it. And I guess… I guess it turned out okay.”

“That’s ace then.” He smiled and looked up at the grey sky.

They sat there in comfortable silence until the school let out.


The October was slowly nearing its end. The weather was turning colder by a day and the temperature dropped even more the darker it got outside, but Harry still climbed out on his rooftop. Decked out in long johns and joggers, his favourite stiflingly warm Christmas sweater Nan had made for him last year, a coat, his monkey hat and three pairs of socks, Harry spread out the blankets on the roof and draped another over his lap as he sat down with his back against the wall of the house. The sun had dipped below the horizon two hours ago and the sky had long turned midnight blue. He sat there and closed his eyes, trying not to think too much for once.

He didn’t know how long he’d been sitting there until the window slowly opened and a voice said, “I brought you tea.”

Harry turned his head and smiled so wide his cheeks hurt. “I didn’t know you were coming over today.”

“Neither did I,” Louis said and leaned out of the window so he could hand Harry a small thermo filled to the brim with hot tea. “But Gran came to visit and Mum said I could come here while Gran looked after the girls.”

“Do you want to join me?” Harry patted the spot by his side.

“I won’t be interrupting your zen, or something, will I?”

Harry just grinned and shook his head. “Just put on your coat and stuff, it’s a bit chilly.”

“A bit chilly, he says,” Louis grumbled and disappeared from view. He re-emerged a few minutes later in his coat, a woollen beanie and two of Harry’s mum’s flowery scarves wrapped around his neck and half of his face.

“I’ll keep you warm,” Harry promised and blushed when Louis snuggled up to him under the blankets and pulled the scarves below his chin so he could kiss Harry on the cheek.

“You better, Styles. Frozen is not a good look on me. The snot just runs amok.”

“Well, we’ve got a hot beverage!” He cradled the thermo to his chest and lifted Louis’ legs to rest them over his thighs so Louis wouldn’t get as cold. “Thank you for bringing it.”

“Anything for my pumpkin.” Louis pulled Harry’s hat lower, tucked it more firmly over Harry’s ears. “Cute hat.”

Harry just really, really wanted to kiss him. “Can I kiss you?” he finally asked, still a bit unsure about initiating. He put the thermo down on the roof by his hip so he wouldn’t drop it by accident.

“I don’t know. Can you?” Louis nosed at Harry’s cheek and his hand slipped under the blankets until it found Harry’s. He interlocked their fingers, and even though they’d kissed plenty, this was the first time Harry held Louis’ hand like this; palm to palm and intertwined fingers. The shock of it, the closeness he felt, warmed him up to the tips of his toes better than any tea or blanket. His heartbeat kicked up, made him feel like he was about to free-fall, nothing but Louis’ hand in his keeping his feet on the ground.

He turned his head so he could nudge his lips against Louis’ in a slow kiss. Louis hadn’t shaved and the barest hint of stubble made Harry want to rub their cheeks together, made him think I wonder what it would feel like if he kissed down my belly. Flustered, he kissed Louis harder, the tip of Louis’ nose cold against his and mouth scalding hot as it opened under Harry’s. Louis tasted like tea.

Harry swept his tongue over the roof of Louis’ upper lip, the slide of their lips making his skin feel too tight and hot and shivery. He clutched at Louis’ hand and whined when Louis met his tongue, slow and languid and so familiar, heads tilting to taste each other deeper. Their mouths met again and again and they laughed breathlessly when the air between their mouths fogged up in the cold air.

“You know,” Louis’ warm breath tickled Harry’s mouth, “when we do this in winter when it’s proper cold out, our lips might end up freezing together.”

Not if. When.

Harry cupped the back of Louis’ neck and claimed his mouth, kissed him again and again until the friction between their swollen lips made his skin tingle all over.

“Wow, um,” Louis said, panting for breath, “Was it something I said?”

I love you. “Maybe I just really like the idea of being glued to your lips.”


Harry pressed his lips to Louis’ one last time then rested his head in the crook of Louis’ shoulder. His heart was still pounding. “Doesn’t Liam mind you’re here? I don’t want to, like, steal you away from him or anything.”

Louis laughed. Harry wanted to bottle the sound and take it out whenever he felt sad. “Nah, don’t worry about it. Sophia kept calling him anyway, so it’s his fault I abandoned him. He wasn’t paying me enough attention.” More quietly, he added, “I wanted to hang out with you anyway. Don’t see you as much at school as I do Liam.”

“I’m glad you came over.”

“I’m glad too.”

They sat together in silence, just listened to the wind whisper through the half-naked branches and the distant sound of cars driving up and down the street. Harry rubbed his thumb over the back of Louis’ smaller hand. They fit perfectly.

“It’s Halloween next week,” Louis said.

Harry stayed quiet.

“Do you want to do stuff?”

“Stuff?” Harry asked, let himself smile.

“Yeah, like a proper date-type kind of thing. I’ll even buy you caramel apple cupcakes.”

Any other day. Literally any other day in the year would have been fine. Would have had Harry about to jump out of his skin rather than trying to deflect it awkwardly. “Or maybe we can go on one before? Or, like, after?”

Louis tugged on his hand until Harry glanced up from his lap to meet Louis’ eyes.

“Are you one of those anti-Halloween people? Because if you are, I’m going to have to convert you.” He tapped the end of Harry’s nose. “If you’re not too bothered, we could chaperone for the twins for a bit first. Apparently, Fizzy and Lottie are too cool for it now and Mum has a shift, so… yeah. But then we could go to Niall’s? I heard he’s having a party. Or we could just go grab something to eat.”

Fuck, just get over it. It’s been ages. “Okay.”

When he faced ahead again, he could see Louis looking at him from the corner of his eye.

“We don’t have to.”

“No. No, I want to,” Harry insisted, because the last thing he wanted was to fuck this up. He was being stupid. He wanted this.

“Harry,” Louis said, and Harry knew he hadn’t been convincing enough. “Is it the party you don’t want to go to? Because we seriously don’t have to. I don’t care. We can stay in and make it a horror movie night marathon and eat candy. I just want to be with you.”

Harry’s throat felt too tight and for once, just once, Harry wished he wasn’t so bloody emotional. So utterly fucked up.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” he said, voice shaky. Maybe if he didn’t look at Louis, Louis would believe him.

“Okay, listen.” Louis squeezed his hand tight and waited until Harry lifted his gaze. “We’re going to do this thing. From now on, whenever one of us says ‘pinky swear’, we are not allowed to lie. Even if we think the truth will make the other angry or hurt their feelings. The moment any of us hears that phrase we have to tell the truth and nothing else.” With the unwavering way Louis was looking at him as he nodded, Harry felt like a fly pinned under a microscope. “So I’m going to ask you now. Are you okay with it? Pinky swear.”

Harry swallowed hard and shook his head.

“All right,” Louis said, his voice even and curious. “Can you tell me why?”

He wasn’t even sure how to explain it to himself, much less to Louis. “I just… I don’t like Halloween. Because… of things. That happened. And I don’t want our first, um, date… to be like that. To be distracted. I want it to be,” he lowered his voice to a whisper, “us. Just ours.”

Louis pressed up closer against his side and stared ahead, as though he sensed the close scrutiny made Harry feel self-conscious.

“I just… it’s not even…” He blinked back frustrated tears and tried to put it into words that wouldn’t make him feel like he was peeling skin off his flesh and showing Louis what was under. “It reminds me of bad stuff sometimes and, like, it’s stupid. I was little. It’s so stupid. I should have been over it ages ago.” He looked up at the sky and breathed in, let the cold air stretch his lungs, feeling too naked already. “This isn’t making any sense to you, is it? But I’m not… I’m not making excuses. I’m sorry.” Sorry that he couldn’t just be open and step right over every barrier he’d built up around himself like it was the size of an anthill rather than a skyscraper. Sorry that he couldn’t ever put the way he felt into words that would have made sense.

“You don’t have to explain yourself to me. I’d never want you to feel pressured to tell me anything you wouldn’t want to,” Louis said softly. And he was this loud, exuberant presence most of the time, but whenever he touched Harry his hands were always gentle and he spoke to Harry like he’d have kept all his secrets, and Harry wanted to. He wanted to let Louis in so badly. He just didn’t know how.

“I want to.” He almost wished his words could have been carried off by the wind, lost in the rustle of the leaves and soaked into the earth, because he was scared. Scared it would make Louis see him in a different light. Scared giving the words sound would mean it really had happened. “I just don’t… I don’t know if I can.”

“Harry, if there’s one thing I want you to always know, it’s that you can talk to me no matter what. And, like, I’ve been told that I’m a pretty good listener so I reckon it must be true.”

And Harry smiled a little, the corners of his mouth heavy and sluggish. He’d never told anyone. Had kept it so close to his chest like he did with everything else. And maybe the weight of all the things he’d kept to himself should have been tugging him to the ground, but it wasn’t. It had piled on and on and on little by little until he’d barely even noticed. But now… now he felt it press down on his shoulders, and trying to get it off was a lot like trying to lift a mountain with nothing but his hands. “I don’t know where to start.”

Louis lifted their joined hands to his mouth and kissed Harry’s knuckles one by one. “It’s okay. We have all the time in the world.”

Harry breathed in deep and closed his eyes, exhaled as though it might make the words come out more easily. “It’s about my dad, I guess.” His brows knotted and he was doing this. “No. I know. And he, like… about what he did.”

“Is it about him leaving?”

Harry shook his head. “I was glad he did,” he admitted, heart pounding. “Or, like, Mum. I was glad she left him.”

“Did he, like, do something? To you?”

“Not… not me. He never hit me or Gemma, but he just…” Louis folded his other hand over their clasped ones and his hand was warm, so warm and safe. But maybe Harry was just cold. “He got so drunk that night and—” his eyes stung, his hands shaking and he knew Louis must have felt it, but he was still here and didn’t say a word, “he, like, started saying all these awful things to Mum in front of me and he wouldn’t stop even after I started to, like, cry and… begged him to stop… and—” he sucked in a sharp, wobbly breath and refused to look at Louis, not yet, not before he could get it all out, “t-then he hit her and, like, dragged her into their bedroom and I… I didn’t know what t-to do. And he just kept… hurting her.”

He couldn’t breathe properly anymore, not enough to keep talking, to tell Louis that he’d been only seven but still remembered every detail and how helpless he’d felt. How he and Gemma could only beat at Dad’s legs with small balled up fists and cry as he tried to tear Mum’s costume off with rough, angry hands. Hitting her, taking his jealousy out on her. How Mum had managed to push him off in the end, and the second he’d stopped touching her he collapsed to his knees and started crying for forgiveness. Telling them that if they left he’d kill himself. Harry had been so scared and so fucking useless, only watching as Gemma screamed at Dad I hate you, I hate you, pulling shell-shocked Mum and Harry to the front door with nothing but the grotesquely festive clothes on their backs and a car key. He remembered how Mum’s hands shook when she tried to put the key into the ignition.

“Harry,” Louis said and his eyes were glossy and mouth down-turned as he let go of Harry’s shaking hand so he could pull him into his arms. “I’m sorry.”

He cried into Louis’ shoulder, hiccuping and shaking and feeling a lot like the time he’d been seven and cried himself to sleep and woken up crying anew. But maybe it did feel better, the weight of it a little lighter. Mum had tried to make him talk about it many times but he never really could. Didn’t feel like he had the right to when she was the one who had got hurt. When she was the one who had been forced to start all over again, taking care of two children by herself for the longest time. It must have been so lonely and tough, but she’d never complained. What right did Harry have to?

“I’m sorry,” he whispered into Louis’ damp shoulder. “It reminds me of… I’m sorry.”

“Fuck, no. Don’t.”

“But it was… so long ago. I don’t want to still feel like this.” He breathed Louis in, tried to reel himself back in again. Reminded himself that Mum was happy and he no longer had to watch her put make-up on to cover up the bruises on her face or cry into the phone to her best friend about how scared she was Dad would hurt her again. “I want it to be different.”

Louis rubbed circles into his back, voice quiet and soft when he said, “How about we stay in and watch the worst movies ever made? Something ridiculous. And make popcorn and see who can catch the most in their mouth? We could… we could make it our day instead? Not, like, a date yet. Just hang out and make better memories?” He kissed the underside of Harry’s jaw. “Does that sound okay?”

Harry hugged Louis tight and nodded. Wished Louis knew how much it mattered to Harry that he cared. “Yeah. That’s perfect.” You’re perfect.

They stayed on the rooftop until they drank all the tea and Harry no longer felt cold.


Chapter Text

If there was one weakness Harry knew for sure Liam had, it was banana nut bread. So when Harry snuck down to the kitchen to keep his mind off things—off Louis and soul-baring confessions— by baking, spotting Liam walk by the kitchen more often than necessary wasn’t really a surprise. He never came in or said anything. Just circled around. Sometimes he sighed.

If Harry was a better human, he’d have called him in and actually told him the bread Harry was making was for him. But. Harry wasn’t a better human and a big part of him actually enjoyed keeping his stepbrother in suspense.

When Liam finally broke and shuffled into the kitchen on socked feet, all he did was open the fridge, stare inside for about two minutes then closed it again. Harry looked up from where he was crouched by the oven, peeking inside to check on the progress. He met Liam’s eyes. Liam glanced away guiltily, as though Harry had caught him elbows deep in a cookie jar.

“All right?” Harry asked, standing up.

“Yeah,” Liam grumbled and walked out of the kitchen empty-handed.

And Harry wasn’t good with words, rarely ever knew how to tell people how he really felt, but he could show them. So once Liam went out with Sophia, Harry brought the golden banana nut bread into Liam’s room and left the little tray on Liam’s desk.

When he found the tray in the dishwasher the next morning, he ducked out of the kitchen with a smile that lasted him all the way to the car.

“So,” Liam started once they buckled in, “thank you for the bread.”

“Welcome,” Harry fiddled with his belt and tucked the sleeves of his coat over his hands, “Did you like it?”

“It was fantastic,” Liam said earnestly as he started the car.

“I’m glad.”

They spent the next few minutes in silence, Liam’s favourite pop station as their background noise. Today, Harry didn’t even mind.

“So you and Louis, eh?” Liam asked out of nowhere. It took Harry a second to gather his wits.

“Um, yeah?”

“I don’t know who I should threaten now. You’ve put me in a very complicated situation here,” Liam said, the corner of his mouth tipping up in a smile.


“Yeah, you know. The whole ‘don’t hurt my friend, or stepbrother, or I’ll break your legs’ type of speech.”

Harry had never expected to be the subject of such talk so he couldn’t really bring himself to answer in a coherent way. “I’m, um… sorry? I don’t think you’ll need to break mine or Louis’ legs. I hope.”

“Good,” Liam said, turning serious, “He likes you, you know. A lot.”

“Really?” He knew. He knew Louis liked him, but being told so by someone outside of their bubble, someone like Liam who had known Louis well for so long was… it was different.

“Yeah, mate. Had to listen to him go on about how smart you are and how funny and how your eyes are the loveliest shade of green for weeks. His words, not mine, by the way.”

“But I… weeks?”

Liam frowned. Harry could literally see the cogs in his head turning as he mulled it over. “Yeah. I think… ever since he stayed over at ours when I went out fishing with Dad? He’d just mention you. Like, little bits here and there and stuff. He thinks he’s subtle, but he’s really, really not.”

Harry bit down on his smile and tucked his hands under his thighs. Louis had liked him since then?

“I know you like him. I mean… you’re a bit obvious. I knew you’ve been crushing on him for a long time, but Louis is a bit thick-headed sometimes. Can’t believe he didn’t notice.”

“Hey,” Harry complained even though he wasn’t even mad. It was true. He was obvious. And here he thought Liam had never noticed.

The lights turned red. Liam gripped the steering wheel and levelled Harry with a steady, serious look when the car rolled to a stop. “Listen, Harry, the thing is… I know you’ve liked him, but… actually being with someone is different. I just want to make sure you haven’t put him on some kind of pedestal, because I love Louis, but he’s not perfect. And I just… I don’t want you to realise he’s different to what you expected and break his heart. I know he might come off as this fearless, reckless lad, but… if anything happened I know he’d be worse off than you, so just… make sure he’s what you want before you guys get in too deep, yeah?”

“Liam, I—” he folded his hands in his lap, barely noticing when the car started moving again, “I know he’s not without flaws. I don’t expect him to be. And yeah, I might have maybe… idolised him a bit at the beginning, but it’s not like that now. I’d never break his heart. I lo—like all the things about him that others might find imperfect, because… they’re perfect to me. He’s perfect to me.”

Liam reached over to pinch his cheek and smiled a little. “That’s all I needed to hear.”


It was Halloween and Louis was leaning against the kitchen counter, white paint barely scrubbed off his face and eyes still lined with black kohl that wouldn’t rub off. Harry’s palm was warm from the way Louis had held it in his own as they’d carted the twins from one house to another. Harry hadn’t worn a costume and that was okay. He’d felt okay. Better than he’d thought he would have, and he should have known because Louis and the twins had kept him so distracted he hadn’t really thought about his father once.

And Louis knew. He knew, but didn’t treat Harry any differently. Didn’t look at him as if he was a skittish animal one had to approach with caution. He’d still been teasing Harry, kissing him with hunger and sending him links to stupid Internet posts that shouldn’t have been funny but were. Harry couldn’t help but remember what he’d said to Liam and think yeah, he’s perfect to me.

“I can’t believe that old lady thought I was dressed as Napoleon Dynamite,” Harry frowned and started unbuttoning his sweater vest, “I’m pretty sure that’s not a good thing?”

“Wouldn’t know, babe. I’ve never seen it,” Louis said, finger dipping into the cookie batter Harry had prepared earlier.

“Hey,” Harry reprimanded.

Louis just smiled around the finger already stuck in his mouth. Harry should have known he was the kind of person to lick the bowls.

“I like the look,” Louis said as he approached Harry with a soft, probing look in his eyes. “I like you.”

Harry flushed and dropped his gaze to Louis’ fingers taking over unbuttoning his vest. Louis pulled it off his shoulders and draped it over the back of the nearest chair.

“I like you too,” Harry whispered, wished he was brave enough to say just how much.

“More than cookies?” Louis asked, lips twisted with mischief.

Harry nodded, pulse rabbitting under his skin in a quickening staccato when Louis undid the top three buttons of his white shirt and slid his hands under the fabric, smoothed them over Harry’s collarbones and rested them on his bare shoulders. It didn’t even feel sexual. Just. Close. Intimate. As if Louis couldn’t help but touch his skin.

“More than books?”


Louis’ eyes widened, mouth pursed around a soundless oh.

“You didn’t think I’d say yes?” He circled Louis’ wrist and leaned in so he could nuzzle Louis’ cheek.

“Not really,” Louis admitted. He still smelled a little like paint and his breath held traces of caramel candies he’d kept stealing from the twins.

Harry kissed the tip of Louis’ nose and lifted his trembling hands to cradle Louis’ face. “You’re so… beautiful. Like, all of you. More beautiful than any book.”

It might have been the first time he’d seen Louis blush like this. He wanted to do it again and again, surprise Louis with little compliments every day for the rest of their lives. To let him know just how much Harry appreciated him. Even when they were both eighty years old, weathered and balding with liver spots dotting their skin, Harry would still call him beautiful and hold his hand when they went out for a walk.


Harry dropped his hands, self-conscious all of a sudden. He would have escaped from Louis’ reach if Louis hadn’t cupped the sides of his neck to pull him into a kiss. His lips were sticky sweet, his tongue like candy, and it never got old. Kissing Louis. His sweet tongue licking into Harry’s mouth, the electric glide of lips on lips, the little keening noise in the back of his throat and the flutter of his eyelashes tickling Harry’s cheeks when Harry tentatively nibbled at his bottom lip.

“We should,” Harry breathed into his mouth, the shirt itchy on his skin, “the cookies.”

“Yeah.” Louis just kissed him deeper, the pace turning sluggish, their mouths pressed together and tongues gliding together almost lazily.

When Harry finally pulled back to suck in a deep breath, Louis carded his fingers through Harry’s hair and gave him a lopsided smile. “Did you know you have paint in your hair?”

He vividly remembered Louis jumping on his back and rubbing his white-painted cheek over the top of his head, so, “Yeah. I wonder how that got there.”

“Some mysteries are never meant to be solved,” Louis said with a dramatic sigh and bit Harry’s chin. “So what was that about cookies?”

“Oh.” Right. Cookies. Things that weren’t related to the slope of Louis’ waist under his hands and the caramel taste of Louis’ tongue. The world outside of that still existed. “We’ve just got to put them on the sheet and just… shove them all in.”

“Wow,” Louis’ fingertips tickled the back of Harry neck, “I didn’t know baking was so sexy.”

Harry muffled his groan in Louis’ shoulder, “Oh my God, Louis.”

“You better act quick before I eat all the dough.” Louis reached behind Harry to put his grubby little hands into the bowl again. He scooped a bit out of the dough before Harry could intercept him and mashed it into Harry’s cheek.

“Oops?” his smile was anything but apologetic, “Guess I have to clean up now.”


“It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.”

He pulled Harry in by the back of his neck and swiped his hot tongue over Harry’s cheek. It should have been gross and funny maybe, but Harry felt the heat of it spill down to his fingertips. He squirmed away, flustered, toes curling in.

“Oh God, don’t do that.”

Harry adjusted his glasses. “Do what?”

Louis gestured at Harry’s face, curved eyebrows pulled together in a helpless plea. “Just… with the face and the doe eyes and the… lip biting.”

Harry bit down on his smile harder and ducked his head, watched Louis’ socked feet shuffle closer.

“Oh no. Not the dimples too,” Louis’ lips pressed into his cheek, pecking him once and twice and three times, arms wrapped tight around his waist, “I can’t control this. My lips just,” another kiss, “do this all on their own. I’ll never be able to get a job again. Gonna have to,” he blew a raspberry against Harry’s cheek, “stay attached to you because of your dark, dark magic.”

It tickled and he couldn’t help but giggle, leaning into Louis’ little kisses and warm embrace. He’d never loved anyone like this before, this breathless, heart-in-your-throat kind of love that made him want to trust Louis with everything that he was.

“Louis, I—” he swallowed hard, on the brink of saying something he shouldn’t yet. “Kiss me?” he said instead.

Louis’ smiling lips pressed to his and they ended up putting cookies in the oven twenty minutes later.


Changed into Harry’s comfy clothes, they were about to sprawl on the living room sofa when Harry realised something wasn’t quite right. Luckily, he knew just the thing to fix it.

“We need to build a blanket fort.”

Louis didn’t even blink, just broke off the cookie shoved into his mouth and grinned with his mouth half-full. “Then you’ll be happy to know I am the master of fort construction. The best in my family. Don’t let Daisy tell you any different,” cookie crumbs fell out of his mouth, “She’s a compulsive liar.”

So here they were now, giggling like children up to no good as they dragged a spare mattress from the basement to prop it up between the wall and the sofa they’d pulled out to turn into a makeshift bed. They draped sheets from the top of the mattress to the armchairs they’d wedged against the end of the sofa bed and crawled in from the side. It looked like a tent and a canopy bed all at once, and once they turned on Harry’s laptop to watch the worst rated films they could find on the Internet it felt a lot like they were in a world of their own that no one else could touch.

Louis’ commentary made Harry curl into him in helpless giggles and the mattress was littered with cookie crumbs and popcorn that had missed their mouths. Harry knew he had some in his hair as well when Louis plucked one out and popped it into his mouth.

“I used to be so neat. You’re a bad influence.”

Louis grinned and chewed the popcorn obnoxiously loudly. Harry was not supposed to be endeared. “I’ll teach you how to have fun the Tommo way yet.”

“Will it get me in trouble?” Harry asked, playing idly with the bottom of Louis’ borrowed plain white T-shirt. Every time his knuckles grazed Louis’ belly, he felt like the temperature in the room had climbed up a notch.

“Hopefully,” Louis teased, walking his fingers down the back of Harry’s hand. With his eyes lined with smudged black and shadows pooling in the hollows under his cheekbones, he looked eerily beautiful. Like something out of this world. “Are you scared, Harold?”

“Not if you’re there,” Harry mumbled into Louis’ shoulder, neither of them paying attention to the movie playing on the screen of his laptop.

Louis curled his hand over Harry’s and lifted it to his mouth to kiss the centre of Harry’s palm. “Fuck, Harry. There’s no one like you, is there?”

“I mean… Mum told me I probably absorbed my twin in the womb, so… I guess not?”

Louis snorted a laugh and bit down on the fleshy part under Harry’s index finger. “Two of you? Can you imagine?” he sighed wistfully into Harry’s palm, “Two Harrys. Wow.”

The sudden impulse of irrational jealousy over his imaginary twin spurred him on to bite Louis’ shoulder.

“What if you kissed yourself?”

“Pretty sure that would be incest,” Harry pointed out, flushing.

“Would it really though?”

“Yes!” Harry laughed and tried not to get too squirmy when Louis kissed each little spot in between his fingers.

“Well, at least I’ve got you. My very own Harry. That’s enough for me.”

“I am,” slipped out of his traitorous mouth, “yours.”

Louis turned on his side, their joined hands cradled to his chest. “Are you?”

“If you want me to be,” Harry said quietly, not quite a question, but not quite a statement either.

“Only if I’m yours too.”

MineMineMine. Harry pulled Louis in by his waist and kissed his answer into Louis’ mouth, slow and deep, until their lips felt raw and their bodies snapped together like magnets.

“We’re missing,” Louis panted, thumb stroking over Harry’s cheek, “the flick.”

“Yeah.” They parted eventually and tried to pay attention to the movie rather than the feeling of each other’s skin under their fingertips. Louis rolled onto his back and tucked Harry into his side, his hand in Harry’s hair. Halfway through Birdemic, quite possibly the most awful film Harry had ever seen, he found himself drifting off. And he really didn’t want to fall asleep and miss the way this felt, but Louis was rubbing his scalp in the most soothing, toe-curling way and he couldn’t help but yawn against Louis’ neck. He took off his glasses, set them on the edge of the mattress and rubbed his eyes.

Louis’ hand stilled. “Are you sleepy, baby?”

Baby. “Hmpf.”

“Is that a yes?” Louis asked, amused as he combed Harry’s hair away from his face, fingertips tracing the shell of his ear.

“No,” Harry protested even though the calm ba-dum ba-dum of Louis’ heart under his palm was lulling him to sleep. “Lou?”


“Are you sorry we didn’t get to go to the party?”

“No,” Louis petted his earlobe, voice warm, “I’d rather be here with you than alone there. Or there with you knowing you’re unhappy.”

Harry mumbled into Louis’ neck, “But I want to do things that you like too. I don’t want you to feel like you’re missing out on stuff because of me.”

Louis wriggled down until they were nose to nose, his expression serious, movie forgotten once again. Harry didn’t feel that tired anymore. “I’m not though. The parties are fun sometimes, yeah, but… this is what I want. I just want you. I’d be missing out on this if I was at the party instead and… it’s a no-brainer, really.”

Harry bumped his nose against Louis’, glad Mum and Geoff had gone off to visit Nan so nobody could interrupt and see his heart on his sleeve. To hear him saying, “I want to touch you.”

“You are touching me,” Louis said with a gentle smile and kissed the corner of Harry’s mouth.

“But like,” Harry heaved a frustrated sigh and trailed his lips down the sharp line of Louis’ jaw, “more.”

Louis’ chest rose with a deep breath, his ankles tangled with Harry’s. “You can. If you want to.”

He just… he wanted to. Slid his hand curiously down the curve of Louis’ waist and brought the T-shirt up on his way back up. This wasn’t the first time he’d touched Louis’ bare skin, no. But it was different to doing so in the heat of a kiss. More… deliberate. He could watch Louis. See Louis’ mouth twitch with a smile as Harry fit his fingers in the dents between Louis’ ribs, his skin smooth and warm and addicting to touch.

“Is this okay?” Harry asked and waited for Louis to nod before he smoothed his palm over Louis’ flank and back, counting each vertebra with his fingertips. Goosebumps erupted on Louis’ skin once Harry reached the dimples at the bottom of his spine, the tips of his fingers just barely pressing into the curve below.

“Your hands are warm,” Louis whispered, eyes drifting shut as he curled into Harry. He felt powerful, almost. Knowing that just his touch could make Louis feel something. Turn him pliant and soft and heavy-lidded.

“Does it feel nice?” He rested his lips on Louis’ forehead, hand sliding back up to trace the sharp wings of Louis’ shoulder blades.

“Yeah. More than nice.”

Louis had his T-shirt rolled up under his armpits and it should have looked silly but instead it just made Harry’s fingers travel over Louis’ skin even more gently, because Louis was trusting him. Laying himself bare and vulnerable for Harry’s curious scrutiny and Harry wished he knew how to tell Louis how much it meant to him.

When Louis rolled on his back and dropped his arms to his sides, Harry couldn’t help but notice that Louis liked this. Like, really, really liked this. He wondered if Louis could see his cheeks turn red in the erratic lighting flickering from the computer screen.

He slid his hand from Louis’ chest down to his belly, felt the little downy hair of Louis’ happy trail tickle his palm.

“God, Harry.”

“Can I… just,” he leaned in and trailed his lips down the side of Louis’ neck, licked the hollow of Louis’ throat and felt him shiver under his lips as he kissed the spot above Louis’ nipple. His heart pounded beneath Harry’s open mouth.

“You could probably… tell me you ran over my puppy and I’d still,” when Harry planted a line of lingering kisses even lower, Louis’ stomach tensed beneath his mouth, fingers threading through the short hair at the nape of his neck, “let you do anything you’d want.”

Harry breathed out a laugh into Louis’ skin, smiled when Louis wriggled beneath him.


Harry blew a raspberry against Louis’ stomach, felt the muscles spasm when Louis laughed, “Don’t, Harold.”

“But you’re so cute.”

Louis groaned and rubbed Harry’s nape. “I am not cute. I am dangerous.”

“Dangerous?” Harry bit down on the tiniest swell of Louis’ belly right beneath his belly button. God, he smelled so good. Tasted good. Clean and familiar and like a summer storm. Harry felt like a leaf caught right in the middle. “Okay, I’ll let you have this one.” The little happy trail tickled Harry’s lips.

“How… generous of you,” Louis said, voice strained as Harry shifted his focus to Louis’ stretched out arm, leaving wet, lingering kisses over the papery skin stretched over the inner bend of Louis’ elbow and thin blue veins on his wrist before darting back to kiss his belly again.

When Harry glanced up Louis was worrying his bottom lip with his teeth, his hand convulsively fisting the sheet. He looked undone. Flushed down to his chest, taking in shallow breaths that made Harry more than a little hot under the collar.

“Harry, I’m a bit,” Louis swallowed hard, “I’m liking this a bit too much and I… you don’t have to keep going. Just, let me know so I can, um… go splash some cold water on myself, yeah?”

And like, “Oh.” Louis was wearing Harry’s grey joggers that didn’t leave much to imagination when he was spread out under Harry like this. And he was hard. Hard enough for Harry to be able to make out the general shape of him curving up to his hip. It was right there inches away from Harry’s watering mouth and it was intimidating and exciting all at once. His hand trembled when he laid it on Louis’ hip, thumb brushing over the sharp edge of the bone.

“It’s okay,” Louis whispered, gentle fingers combing through his hair.

Harry shook his head, trying to think through the daze, his lips brushing over Louis’ underbelly when he admitted, “I want to. I… I want to make you feel nice, I just. I’m,” his voice dropped down to a whisper, “scared.”

“Harry,” Louis drew him up so they were eye-to-eye, his pupils blown out, “I don’t want you to do anything if you’re scared.”

Harry hid his face in the crook of Louis’ neck and shook his head, “No. No, I meant… like, nervous. I just don’t want to mess up. Make you think I’m… not good.”

“You are good. You’re so, so good.” Louis’ lips pressed to his hairline. “My good boy, always.”

Harry loosened his tight grip on Louis’ hip and rested his open palm on Louis’ quivering belly instead, ‘my good boy’ on repeat in his head. He didn’t really know why it got his head so fuzzy, why he felt like he needed it.

“Can I?” Harry asked, tentatively running his fingertips over the waistband of Louis’ joggers.

“You can do whatever you want.”

Harry moaned into Louis’ neck and tipped his chin down so he could watch his hand move lower, fingertips grazing Louis’ hard length. It was firm and it jerked into Harry’s touch when he finally fit his fingers around it through the fabric. It was… familiar, almost. Just different. Strange. He’d almost expected to feel it himself.

“God, Harry.”

He moved his grip up and down slowly, felt the heat of Louis’ skin soaking into his own even through his clothes. He stilled once he reached the tip and squeezed, his own hips grinding into the mattress at the desperate sound that left Louis’ throat.

“You’re so good,” Louis whispered, his hand smoothing over Harry’s shoulder blades.

“Does it even… does it feel good? Like this?”

“Feels… amazing.”

“But,” Harry protested, cheeks burning, “can I, like… over your pants? Wouldn’t that be better?”

Louis’ response was to shove the joggers under his bum. Harry would have giggled at his eagerness if he hadn’t been so turned on by the sight of Louis tenting out the fabric of his tight black boxers. Holy fucking Christ. He was big and thick, his heartbeat pounding against Harry’s palm when he curled his fingers around him again.

“God, Harry, you feel,” Louis licked over his lips, eyes dazed and unfocused, “are you… what about you?”

Harry squeezed and resumed stroking slowly up and down Louis’ clothed cock, the thin fabric rubbing over Louis’ feverish skin. Harry hadn’t even realised just how hard he was too until Louis asked.

“Do you want to… we could just do it with our clothes on? Together?”

Harry’s hand stilled, heartbeat spiking. “How?”

Louis circled his wrist and pulled his hand away, eyes still dazed but kind. “You can lie on top or I can, if you want and just… well, dry hump?”

Harry muffled his embarrassed laugh in Louis’ shoulder and said, “Okay.”

“Are you sure?”

Harry nodded, felt like his skin was too tight to contain all this want. And yeah. This was okay. Better than okay. “Can you… on top?”

Louis pulled him into a slow kiss, smiling. “Yeah, of course.”

He pushed Harry onto his back and tugged on the string of his sweats. “Do you want to leave these on or do you want me to pull them down a bit?”

God, Harry felt the molten heat of it settle low in his belly and pulse to the beat of his quickening heart. He’d never wanted anyone more. Had never wanted to shed his every insecurity for the sake of being so close to someone before. “You can… you can pull them down a little.”

Louis bent down to kiss the space between his nose and upper lip and tugged Harry’s sweats under his bum before he carefully lay on top with his thigh wedged between Harry’s, and oh my god. “Louis, fuck.”

“What a dirty mouth, Harry,” Louis teased, but his voice came out strangled and breathless and Harry couldn’t even make his brain work long enough to reply. Louis’ hips were flush against his and the friction made Harry dig his fingers into Louis’ back. He must have taken the T-shirt off when Harry wasn’t paying attention and now there was all this smooth skin for Harry to touch.

Louis circled his hips, his open mouth coaxing Harry into a filthy kiss.

“Okay?” Louis asked once he pulled away to breathe, hips moving lazily. It felt so good Harry couldn’t even feel his toes anymore. Could only follow Louis’ lead and grind into him back, hands sliding down Louis’ arched spine to rest in the dip of his lower back.

“Yeah, you’re… f-feels amazing.” He could hardly keep his eyes open, too overwhelmed, overcome by the kaleidoscope of colours sparking to life behind his heavy eyelids and shooting out through his veins like fireworks.

“You can grab my bum, you know,” Louis grinned into his jaw and ground down in a way that left them both gasping. Harry didn’t waste a second. He cupped Louis’ bum and squeezed. Pushed him down harder, breathless at the feeling of Louis’ hard cock rolling and rubbing against his through their pants and the tight curve of his bum in his hands. Somewhat in a daze he thought he does fit right in my hands.

“Hmm?” Louis asked, wet open mouth sucking a bruise into the side of Harry’s neck.


“You said,” Louis nipped at his skin, hips rolling, “’meant to be’.”

“Oh,” Harry squeaked, gripping Louis’ bum tight, “I, um… your bum. Just… fits in my hands?”

Louis laughed, breathless, pressing his feverish cheek against Harry’s. He was fire and Harry the gunpowder, each point of contact setting his nerve endings ablaze. “God, Harry.”

The kiss took Harry by surprise. And it was messy, all open panting mouths and lewd teasing licks over each other’s lips, puffs of shallow breath and shivering skin. Louis rocked against him harder, teeth ribbing over Harry’s swollen bottom lip. Droplets of sweat pricked at the nape of Harry’s neck, the fabric of his T-shirt itchy and stifling.

“Louis, Lou—”

Louis’ lips fell on the corner of his mouth, just resting there. Harry could feel the muscles of Louis’ bum flex under his palms.

“What is it, love?”

“I’m… hot.”

“Fuck, yeah, you are.” He licked over the seam of Harry’s lips

“Not like,” his hands slid up, trimmed nails scratching over the sweat-damp planes of Louis’ back, “The T-shirt, I’m…”

Louis propped himself up on his elbows, cheeks flushed, sweat gleaming under his hairline. He looked exactly like Harry felt. Surrendered and out of control.

“Want to,” Louis swallowed hard, hips stilling, “take it off?”

Right now the thought of Louis seeing him shirtless seemed far less daunting than getting a heatstroke. “Please.”

The second Louis lifted off, Harry almost regretted his decision. He was high-strung and ready to snap, feeling like he’d inhaled a gallon of helium and he just wanted Louis back right now.

“’S all right,” Louis said, skin golden and gleaming with sweat in the dim flickering light, the sheet above brushing over the top of his tousled hair. “Let’s get it off you.”

They managed to wrestle it off with desperate hands and the time went still. Louis sat back and straddled Harry’s thighs, his hands following his hungry gaze sliding down Harry’s bare torso. His touch felt like a kick of electricity, charged and crackling over Harry’s skin, etching soundless I want you into Harry ribcage and taut softness of his stomach. “You’re beautiful.”

Harry flushed, his entire face on fire, hands shaking as he settled them above Louis’ bent knees. Louis’ sweats were halfway down his thighs, low enough for Harry to see the strong muscles shift under silky skin, boxers tented out obscenely. “I have four nipples.”

And it should have been far more nerve wrecking than it was, terrifying rather than exciting, because he was on his back, spread out with Louis’ eyes and hands drinking him in and he’d never felt more vulnerable. But he wasn’t scared now, not when Louis’ eyes widened with barely suppressed delight, so at odds with the desperation buzzing under his skin. He smoothed his palms over Harry’s torso, thumbs brushing over the spare nipples. “You do.”

Harry’s grip on Louis’ thighs tightened. “What if I had four balls as well?”

“Don’t care,” Louis shrugged, eyes flickering between Harry’s face and his own fingers petting over Harry’s normal nipples. Harry had to close his eyes and bite down on the inside of his cheek because he was sensitive there and every brush and pinch sent a shock of arousal straight down to his cock.

“Louis,” he begged, canting his hips up. He was holding onto Louis’ thighs for dear life, wondering if he’d leave fingertip bruises in his wake and kind of hoping he would.

“Does it feel good? Me touching your nipples?”

Harry whimpered and turned his face into the sheets. He couldn’t think straight.

“Can I kiss them?” Louis asked as he shuffled further down Harry’s body, lips hovering over Harry’s chest.

Harry nodded, struggling to keep his eyes open when Louis licked over his nipple, his fingers rubbing over the other one back and forth again and again until it was stiff and Harry was dizzy with it.

He stuttered out something barely resembling Louis’ name, ribs expanding on a shaky breath. If Louis hadn’t lay down on top of him he’d have floated away like a kite with its string cut off.

“You smell so good,” Louis mumbled, licking salt off his heaving chest, mouth drawing Harry’s hard nipple into his scorching mouth and suckling on it in a relentless rhythm.

Harry’s hand shot out to grip Louis’ hair, eyes squeezing shut when Louis wouldn’t stop, just kept going, sucking and nibbling and pulling at it with his teeth, fingers pinching and tugging. His stomach was warm and hot over Harry’s cock and somewhere in the back of Harry’s mind he wondered whether Louis could feel the wet spot on Harry’s boxers. How it was possible that Harry hadn’t lost it yet. But he just, he just… wanted to be good.

“Lo-ngh,” he managed, shivering when Louis pulled back to blow over his damp skin.

“Fuck, the way you look.” Warm lips planted open-mouthed kisses up his throat and over the edge of his jaw, brushed over Harry’s slack mouth. He felt fuzzy, reduced to needneedneed and the pull in his stomach that that felt like a current about to take him under.

He dragged his palm down the curve of Louis’ sweat-slick back, fingertips edging beneath the waistband of his boxers, pressing into the flesh of his bum and wordlessly asking pleaspleaeplease. Louis must have understood, must have felt the earthquake in Harry’s bones as he settled down on top of him again, and it was. More. So much more than before. More intense. Like all the pleasure returned ten-fold like a tsunami rather than an ocean wave.

“Harry, Harry, Ha—” Louis bit down on his neck, chest to chest, two frantic heartbeats fluttering like bird wings eager to take flight, hips moving together in a frantic back-and-forth, “I won’t… won’t last.”

Harry hooked his leg around Louis’, nipples throbbing and raw when they rubbed against Louis’ chest ever time Louis rocked against him. He felt it, slick and bare on his belly but couldn’t tell if it was the tip of his or Louis’ cock popping out of the boxers with the frantic movement of their hips. Couldn’t even tell where his body began and Louis’ ended.

“Lou, please, please,” he wrapped his arms tight around Louis’ waist, the waves of it cresting higher and higher, “can I?”

Fuck, yeah, you’re so… good. So good for me,” his hips ground down, pressing hard against Harry’s cock, “You can… let go.”

Harry clutched at Louis’ back, nails leaving half-moon marks in their wake as he met Louis’ downward thrust, breath strangled in the back of his throat as his vision whited-out, the tension climbing higher and higher until it finally exploded into sharp little bursts that left him a shaking, shivering mess, his boxers wet. He vaguely felt Louis’ teeth clamp down on his jaw, felt something warm and wet between their bellies, his brain empty save for ohgodohgodohmygod. He clutched at Louis’ back, his muscles spasming and out of control.

Louis’s breath was damp and shallow on the underside of Harry’s jaw, teeth skimming the sensitive skin. They were sticky and gross but Harry didn’t want to move, didn’t want to stop feeling Louis skin-on-skin and feel the way his heartbeat started to slow down in synch with Harry’s own.

“Was it… did you like it?” Louis asked, fingers trailing up the inside of Harry’s arm to curl around his shoulder.

“Yeah, yeah I… it was… my brain won’t work.”

Louis laughed, breathless and so beautiful. “We should clean up,” he said but didn’t move a muscle, “I kind of made you all… sticky. Sorry, I didn’t mean to.”

And yeah, Harry had felt it, and now that his brain was somewhat regaining its ability to comprehend, he realised Louis had come on his stomach. It really shouldn’t have made Harry want to find out what it tasted like. He chewed on the inside of his cheek and stroked up and down Louis’ back. “It’s all right.”

“I really didn’t mean to. I’ll… I’ll clean you up, yeah?”

“I’m not mad or upset, you know. Stuff… happens. With the, um,” he blushed, couldn’t help but stare as Louis lifted himself off to readjust his boxers, “humping.”

Louis looked at him back, flushed cheeks and soft features. Harry couldn’t believe he got to see him like this. “I’ll be back in a second, all right?”

Louis got on his knees to crawl to the edge of the makeshift bed and his bum, God.

“Whoa!” was all Harry heard before he saw Louis’ foot get somehow tangled up in the edge of the sheet hanging from above and bring the entire thing down as he gracelessly flopped on the floor. “Fuck!”

The sheets floated down on him but Harry couldn’t even bring himself to brush them off because he was laughing so hard he couldn’t draw a breath.

“Are you,” he giggled, accidentally getting Louis’ come on his hand as he clutched at his spasming stomach, which made him laugh even harder, “all r-right?”

Louis’ pouting face popped back in, “I can’t believe you’re laughing at me. You’re a traitor, Harry Styles, I will not forget this!”

“Oh God, I’m sorry,” he squeaked out, sitting up with the sheer force of will. His cheeks hurt. “Karma has… already punished me.” He waved his sticky hand at Louis, who turned promptly red. For one wild second Harry wondered if they’d swapped places.

“Okay, that’s it. You’re coming with me. Being separated clearly leads to nothing but disaster.” Louis took his clean hand to pull him off the bed and led them up to the upstairs bathroom.

Their effort to get clean ended up in a water fight that turned half of the bathroom floor into a slippery life hazard, and as Louis chased him down the corridor into his room with a handful of water that got Louis a lot wetter than it did Harry, he couldn’t stop thinking I love you, I love you, I love you. Louis tackled him to the bed and kissed him with damp hands on his cheeks, and Harry wasn’t brave enough to give the words his voice but he pressed the silent syllables into Louis’ lips and breathed them into his open mouth, thinking maybe this is enough for now.


Chapter Text

“This isn’t working,” Harry heard right before he padded into his bedroom, tugging the sleeves of his loose lavender sweater over his hands. Louis lay on top of Harry’s bed, limbs askew and face smushed into an open book as if he could absorb the knowledge through his face.

“Are you talking to yourself?” Harry asked, perching on the edge of the bed and reaching a tentative hand to stroke Louis’ floppy hair.

“You left me. It’s been fifty-two years. I couldn’t cope with the loneliness,” Louis’ eyes slipped shut, hand curling into Harry’s bedspread, “I named a pillow after you.”

Harry thumbed behind Louis’ ear and smiled. “Sorry. Mum looked like she needed a bit of help in the kitchen.”

“Come here,” Louis pushed the book away and flipped over onto his back, tugging on Harry’s wrist to bring him lying down on top of Louis.


“Yeah?” He turned his face to prod at Harry’s temple with his nose.

“Can I ask you a question?”

“You can even ask two.”

“Do you want me to, like… help you? With studying?” When Louis didn’t respond, Harry hurried to add, “Not that I think you can’t do it on your own, because you can. I just… I’d like to help you, maybe, if that’s… if that’s okay.”

“Harry,” Louis said after a loaded pause, as if the words were too heavy to be voiced right away, “I can’t let you do that.”

“I know I’m not that familiar with,” he peered over Louis’ shoulder to look at the book, “stage production and stuff, but I can make flash cards and quiz you an—”

“Harry, no. I… look, you’ve got your own workload to worry about without adding mine on top of it, yeah? What kind of boyfriend would I be if I dragged you down with me?”

Harry had had a hundred arguments on the tip of his tongue, already propping himself up on one elbow to give Louis his best determined face when… boyfriend. He fish-mouthed for a moment, brain gone on a temporary hiatus.

“I just don’t want you to strain yourself, all right?”

And, all right. No. “I won’t. You do know that I like learning, right? Because I do. I really, really do.” He’d been known to get all tingly after solving complex equations on the first try, but it didn’t seem like something Louis needed to know. “If I can learn new stuff and help you focus at the same time then that’s hardly an issue, is it? It’s, like, a win-win!”

Louis had that pinched, doubtful look on his face that told Harry just how much he was questioning this. It was time to bring out the big guns. “I’m a firm believer in positive reinforcement too, so,” his cheeks felt only a little warm, “I’d give you a reward for each right answer?”

Louis perked up. “What kind of reward?”

Harry cuddled in, nuzzling the curve of Louis’ neck, lips brushing over his pulse point. “A kiss.”

Louis tipped his head back, giving Harry’s mouth better access. “A kiss?”

“For each right answer. A kiss… on any part of your body, really,” his voice dropped down to a whisper, “the more difficult the question, the longer the kiss.”

Fingers knotted in the back of his hair. “Harry.

“Is that a yes?” he asked, the corners of his mouth twitching in the beginnings of an about-to-win-this smile.

“Fuck… okay,” he pulled at Harry’s hair gently, coaxing him to lean back so he could look him in the eyes, “but you have to promise me that you’ll tell me the second it gets too… boring or annoying or takes too much out of your own study time. Pinky promise.”

“Pinky promise,” Harry confirmed, cuddling back into Louis again and listening to the November drizzle drumming on the windowpanes.


Getting Louis to focus was a harder task than Harry had anticipated. He’d flit around the room to inspect every little detail of Harry’s room, managing to steer the conversation away from the impending studying so cleverly Harry had no idea Louis was doing it until he found himself indulging Louis in a cookie versus cream debate or discussing the merits of being a penguin.

“Some of them mate for life, you know. They have, like, proper soulmates. It’s sick.”

“That’s a bit sad though, isn’t it?” Harry asked, sitting down on his desk chair, still dressed in his school clothes, “What happens when one of them dies?”

“But isn’t it better to love someone and lose them than not love anyone at all?” Louis thumbed over the spines of Harry’s books, his back to Harry. “I reckon I’d rather take my chances.”

Harry cleared his throat and played with the buttons of his sweater vest, the textbook lying abandoned in his lap. “So you’re like… like a penguin then. Very one-man man.”

When Louis turned around, he was smiling, hands tucked in the pockets of his black jeans. “Yeah, guess I am.”

“Well, I’m… I’m glad then.”

“Oh, are you now, Harold?” He walked up to Harry, hands clasped around the chair armrests as he leaned in. “Monogamy turns you on then?”

Harry chuckled breathlessly because yeah. The idea of having Louis all to himself for the rest of his life, growing up and growing old together, raising kids and spending lazy mornings in bed doing nothing but kissing and feeling each other’s skin, having food fights in the kitchen and waltzing in their living room with the music turned off made him tingle almost as much as the idea of Louis tying him up.

“Yeah,” he squeaked out, shivered when Louis nibbled his way up his jaw, teeth pulling at his earlobe.

“Kinky,” Louis breathed, quick fingers loosening the knot of Harry’s tie and sliding it off his neck. “What else then?”

“What?” Harry blinked his eyes open, head tilting back as Louis pressed kisses into his throat.

“What else turns you on?”

Harry gripped the unopened textbook in his lap. Louis’ teeth skimmed over the spot where Harry’s neck curved into his shoulder and just, “N-neck kisses.”

“Yeah?” Louis sealed his mouth over the spot and sucked. Fuck, it felt good. So, so good. “What else, Harry?”

“Um… when you… my hair.”

Louis’ fingers slid into his hair, pulled just the slightest bit. Enough for Harry to clutch the textbook so hard his knuckles turned white and the paperback cover crinkled up. “Like this?”

Harry nodded, mouth parting to drag in a deep breath when Louis pulled harder and sucked on his neck again, hot and wet.

“And,” Harry whispered, cheeks heating up so much he must have turned bright red, “when you call me… when you say I’m g-good. But I have to… like, deserve it, I think.”

“Deserve how?” Deft fingers undid the top three buttons of his shirt, mouth exploring the uncovered skin.

“Like, when I… when I make you feel nice? Or do something t-that you like.”

Louis kissed his way up Harry’s throat again, lips hovering over Harry’s for just a second before they slotted to his, deeply, thoroughly.

“Make me,” Louis whispered into Harry’s mouth, “learn these three chapters and I will.” With that he pulled away, leaving Harry a desperate, frazzled mess, shirt and glasses askew.

Louis grinned at him from the spot he claimed on the bed, cheeks flushed and a very obvious bulge in his jeans.

“You’re a tease.”

“Well, you did promise me positive reinforcement. Figured I should return the favour. After.”

Harry could hardly recall his last name right now. “What does that mean?”

“That if you help me study, you’ll be my good, good boy and I’ll snog you for however long you like.”

Harry blushed. Hard. He fumbled to open the textbook and resolved to not look at Louis until he got a hold of himself.


Louis was standing in front of Harry’s floor-length dresser mirror with Harry’s glasses perched on his nose. “Do you think your glasses will make me magically smarter?”

Harry sat on his bed Indian-style. “They can’t. You already are smart.”

“You’ve only started quizzing me,” Louis smiled, the kind of smile that put up a front. Tight-lipped and lacklustre, with eyes that flitted around the room and didn’t crinkle at the edges. “You might change your mind. I mean, I can never remember the definitions. I’m better at the practical stuff. Not exactly a smart kid here.”

“Hey,” Harry said with a frown, “Being smart and being able to remember things well are two different things. We’ll just have to find a way that works for you. Maybe something more visual.”

“And I’ll get a kiss if I get it right?”

Harry hid his smile behind the textbook. “Yeah, you’ll get a kiss.”

“Okay then. Hit me.”


“I totally got this right,” Louis said half an hour later from where he was lying on his back, his hand running up and down his torso in a rather distracting manner.

“Partly,” Harry said, chewing on the end of his pencil. “But yeah, it wasn’t wrong. You’ve got the hand props and the set props, but you’ve forgotten the set dressing.”

He made Louis repeat it until he got it right, made him write each answer down on a piece of paper and colour-code the headings so he’d remember it easier.

“Can I have a kiss now?” Louis asked when he got it all right, honest to God pouting. Harry was so, so weak.

“Of course.” He bent over to give Louis a lingering, open-mouthed kiss. When he straightened back up Louis’ eyes were still closed and he was smiling.

“Can you be my teacher instead? I like this motivational plan much better.”

Harry bit down on his grin. “That would be highly improper then, wouldn’t it?”

“That’s what makes it hot,” Louis said, rolling onto his front and resting his head on his crossed arms. His purple zip-up hoodie had been slung over the headboard for some time now and all Louis had on were skinny jeans and a thin, grey T-shirt that rode up as he lay. Harry couldn’t take his eyes off the dip of Louis’ lower back.

“All right,” Harry cleared his throat, adjusted his reclaimed glasses. “Next question.”

By the time they finished over an hour later, they were surrounded by notes and Harry had left kisses from Louis’ eyelids, to his cheeks and the hollow of his throat, the jumping pulse points on Louis’ delicate wrists and the bends of his elbows, right below his belly button and all the way down his spine. He’d got carried away a few times, sucked reddening bruises into Louis’ back and belly and hipbones, faint echoes of his teeth hidden beneath the fabric of Louis’ T-shirt.

“Do you want to go through it all once more?” Harry asked, flicking through the textbook.

Louis yanked the textbook out of his hands and flung it to the mattress carelessly. Before Harry could complain, Louis was pushing him into the mattress and straddling his hips.

“Lou, what are yo—”

“Thank you,” Louis said, bending down to press a kiss into Harry’s mouth. “You really helped me out. I appreciate it.”

Harry rested his hands on Louis’ hips, his glasses fogging up a bit with how hard they were both breathing. He took them off, folded them carefully before setting them down on the mattress. “It’s all right. I, um… I enjoyed it.”

“You really did, didn’t you?” Louis was smiling, floppy unstyled hair falling into his face.

“You didn’t? Not even a little bit?”

Louis shifted, tugging at Harry’s collar. “Maybe a little.”

“A little?”

“All right. More than a little.” Louis bent down, chest-to-chest, lips brushing over Harry’s jaw as he added, “I liked the kisses.”

Harry closed his eyes and ran his hands up Louis’ back, ducking under the T-shirt to feel his smooth, smooth skin.

“Thank you, you know. Really. You didn’t have to,” he kissed Harry’s jaw, “you’re so good to me, aren’t you, love? My good boy.”

Harry bit down on his bottom lip, flushed all the way down to his belly. He didn’t understand why he liked this so much, why it felt so much better, so different from being praised by his teachers or Mum. Didn’t get why the words settled so deep into his bones and made him feel warm.

“Is this… this isn’t too weird, is it?” Harry asked, holding Louis close so he wouldn’t have to look him in the eye. “That I like it when you say that?”

“No,” Louis said, quiet and soft, “it’s not weird. It’s just us. Whatever we like and do… it’s just us. You like hearing it and I like saying it and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

“Still a bit embarrassed though.”

Louis kissed his earlobe. “There’s no need to be. I think it’s hot.”

“Really?” Harry asked, and a part of him wanted to be skeptical, the part that refused to believe he could lay himself so open like this, vulnerable and raw, without someone sticking a knife in and twisting. But this was Louis, who had more than earned his trust and the doubts got quieter and quieter until they dissolved into static.

Louis ground down on Harry’s lap. “What do you think?”

Harry whimpered, fingertips digging into the muscles of Louis’ back. He just… wanted. So much. Wanted to pull Louis close, so close they’d share oxygen and their lungs would expand on the same breath as if they were two parts of the same whole.

Louis kissed him, leaving short tender pecks that lingered longer and longer until their lips finally opened and molded together, the wet friction of it making Harry’s head go fuzzy. He’d never really, truly understood how easy it could be to stop thinking and just feel, not until Louis. How difficult it could be to have to struggle not to run your hands over someone’s skin all over and forget all about being cautious and responsible. For a second he thought Mum won’t have to find out I broke the promise. For a second he considered going further. It was a second too long.

“Lou,” he breathed out, hands spanned over Louis’ back, “wait.”

“Yeah?” He kissed the corner of Harry’s mouth.

“We can’t… I promised I wouldn’t when Mum’s home.” He knew he sounded like the biggest goody-two-shoes the second he said it. That he was eons away from fun and exciting and daring. But he just… he couldn’t betray her trust like that.

Louis wrapped his limbs around him like a human koala and rolled them over until Harry was lying in the cradle of Louis’ thighs, elbows on each side of Louis’ ribs. “It’s all right.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Hey, no,” Louis said, fingers carding through Harry’s hair and rubbing his scalp, “I’d rather not get caught anyway. Can we still… can we snog?”

“Um, yeah, if you want to.”

“Of course I want to, don’t be silly,” he pulled Harry down to kiss him, “I could spend hours just kissing you. Don’t have to get off to enjoy this. All right?”

“All right,” Harry mumbled, pressing wordless I love you into Louis’ lips.

Louis had just darted his tongue out to lick over the seam of Harry’s lips when someone knocked on the door and opened it a moment after.

“Ah, shit, sorry,” Liam said, slapping a hand over his eyes, “I thought you were studying, fuck. I’ll just—”

“We were just snogging, all fully clothed. Relax, Payno,” Louis laughed as Harry hid his reddening face in Louis’ neck.

“I just wanted to ask if you two were up for a snack break, but I see you’re already eating each other.”

“What kind of snack?” Louis asked, his hand rubbing circles into Harry’s back.

“The food kind.”

“All right, smartass. We’ll be right there, give us a mo.”

Harry pulled away just in time to see Liam stumble out of his room with one hand still covering his eyes, muttering under his breath about being scarred for life. He couldn’t help but giggle. The mood had been effectively killed.

“Think it’s funny, do you?”

“A little,” Harry admitted, reluctantly rolling off Louis.

“You know, one day, we’ll have our own place and nobody will walk in on us. We’ll be able to do anything we want.”

“Our own place?”

The tips of Louis’ ears turned red. “Um, I mean… shit. I mean, not now, obviously. But like, one day. In the future. If you’ll want.”

Harry pulled Louis into his side, arms wrapped around him in a tight embrace. “You might get really annoyed with me until then, you know.”

“So could you.”

“I won’t,” Harry said, because if there was one thing he was sure of, it was Louis.

“Neither will I.”

The giddy smile wouldn’t leave his lips even after they came down to get some food and Louis hooked his feet around Harry’s ankle and smeared spaghetti sauce on the tip of Harry’s nose. It was still there when Liam rolled his eyes at them and Mum cooed over how cute they were. Because marry someone you can see being a part of your future, and when Harry looked at Louis trying to inconspicuously wipe a bit of sauce that had dripped down on his T-shirt, the only constant part of his future Harry could see was him.



“Hm?” It was only a few minutes past four but the sky was already growing dark, only a strip of light clinging to the horizon.

“How am I supposed to know what I want to do with my life?”

Wind blew into Harry’s face, chilly drizzle sticking to his cheeks. “You’ve got years to figure it out, Lou,” he said softly, hoping it was the right thing to say, “It’s okay if you’re not sure, or if you don’t know at all. You can try a lot of things before you settle on one.”

“I fucking hate this,” Louis sighed, “Why is life so hard? Why can’t we just… have fun and be mischievous without having to worry about money and getting a bloody job? Who came up with this?”

“Stupid people?” Harry asked rather than said, Louis’ palm fitted to his the only warm point of contact as they walked down the cobblestone street. “You’ll be okay though, you know. You’ll find something you love.”

“I think… I might quite like drama?” Louis said after a pause, unsure as though he didn’t know if he could say it out loud. “That’s not realistic though, is it? I mean, what are the chances of getting cast anywhere?”

“If anyone can do it, it’s you. I’ve seen you in the school play last year.” May have snuck in and hidden right at the back so he could unabashedly watch Louis in his element, outshining everyone else on the stage like it belonged only to him. Back then Harry hadn’t even dared to dream he’d get to hold Louis’ hand one day. “You’re so talented.”

“It’s not enough,” Louis said with a self-conscious shrug. He tucked his chin into his big woollen scarf and squeezed Harry’s hand. “Like, I’m all right. But there are so many more talented people in the world, you know? Why would anyone pick me?”

“Because you draw people in,” Harry said, urgently, willing Louis to believe him. “Because you make everyone feel better, more important, just by being close.”


“You’re so talented and bright, I know you are. I’m not just saying it.”

“I’m just… I’m scared. I don’t want to make the wrong choice.” He pulled Harry into his side, nosing at his jaw as they trudged down the street. Neither of them wanted to let go quite yet. “I don’t know if I should take a gap year or go to uni right away, and if I do go, I need to make bloody sure it’s what I want. I can’t, like, be a burden on Mum forever, you know? She’s got so much to worry about.”

And, like, uni. Harry knew, somewhere in the back of his mind, that Louis was a senior. That all that frantic studying and obsessing over his grades had a lot to do with the A-levels he’d have to take at the end of the school year, but. He hadn’t really allowed himself to think too much about it, to consider that there wasn’t any good uni anywhere close by.

“You need to do what makes you happy. You can take out a student loan and find a job to make it work,” Harry said, because it was true. Because Louis being happy was what mattered far more than Harry’s selfish need to keep him close. “We can… we can look at the options together, if you want. See what’s out there.”

“Harry, I—” he pulled him to a stop, drawing Harry close with a hand on his hip, “would it be weird if I said I, um… I don’t want this to be just for now. Like, you and I. Don’t want you to think I’ll just fuck off to a different city and never look back. And I just, I really fucking like you. I don’t know what to do.”

Harry shuffled closer, breath fogging between their mouths. “I like you too. I want… I just want you. In any way I can have you. But like, uni is important, yeah? I want you to do well for yourself. I want you to be happy.”

Louis’ stubble prickled his neck when he rested his chin on Harry’s shoulder. “You make me happy.”

Harry swallowed past the knot in his throat, telling himself we’ve still got so much time left, we don’t have to think about this now. “You make me happy too.”

Before they finally parted in front of Harry’s house, they clung to each other for a little longer, hands clutching just a little bit harder. And as Harry watched Louis walk away down the street, he knew he’d wait a year or ten, but he didn’t really know if Louis felt the same once the distance became more than just a prospect.


Chapter Text

Harry was sitting at the back of the class, chewing on the knuckle of his index finger. He couldn’t focus. Couldn’t bring himself to ponder how gross it was to find a chewed up gum stuck to the bottom of a desk or how to bend French verbs when the only thing on his mind was a constant loop of LouisLouisLouis. Louis, who had P. E. right now and was most likely sweating through his top and yelling obscenities at those who got in his way as he chased a ball down the gymnasium floor, football shorts clinging to his bum. Harry had squeezed that bum. He wanted to bite it too, sink his teeth into the muscle until it bruised, trail his mouth down to the—

“Would you like to answer that, Harry?”

His head snapped up, blood rushing into his face so fast it left him light-headed. The pen he’d been twirling flew out of his hand and hit the kid across the aisle in the calf. “Um… I, um… s-sorry, I didn’t hear the question?”

Mrs. Nixon gave him her best default Disappointed Teacher expression, told him to pay more attention and asked someone else. A few of the students were still shooting him not so covert glances. He could feel it prickling his skin like tiny needles as he dropped his gaze to the desk and loosened up his tie. He couldn’t find it in himself to get up and retrieve his pen. He’d just have to accept it was gone forever now.

“I can’t believe Tommo likes him,” someone whispered, just loud enough for him to hear, as if they wanted for the words to burrow under Harry’s skin and gnaw, gnaw, gnaw.

“Same. He’s so boring,” someone replied, a bit quieter. Harry wondered if they thought they were being subtle. “I bet he doesn’t even put out.”

They snickered, only quieting when Mrs. Nixon boomed, “Settle down, class.”

The words wouldn’t stop clinging to him like a sticky tape long after the bell rung. And it was stupid, so fucking stupid because their opinions didn’t matter at all. They didn’t know about the way Louis’ hand fit in his so perfectly, or the way his belly would quiver under Harry’s mouth when Harry kissed under his bellybutton. They didn’t know, yet they felt like they knew better than Harry did, like Harry was something less.

He stuffed his books and notes into his bag with short, jerky movements and didn’t even say “excuse me” as he shouldered past them on his way out of the classroom.


It took him approximately ten minutes until he finally broke and texted Louis, ‘Meet me behind the gym rn?’

‘What’s wrong?’ came Louis’ answer a moment later.

‘Nothing’s wrong. Just want to see you.’

‘On my way,’ Louis texted back, adding a farting horse emoji.

Harry felt the disquiet flopping around the bottom of his empty stomach like a fish out of water. The closer he got to the meeting point, the worse it got, because this was dumb. He was being dumb.

He worried the inside of his lip with his front teeth and watched his feet move clumsily over the cold-hardened school grounds anyway, fingers curling into the unbuttoned sides of his coat to wrap it tighter around his shivering frame. It wasn’t even that cold, just… he felt too light, too brittle. Not in the good way. Not in the way Louis made him feel, as if he could float a few feet above the ground and still be safe.

By the time he spotted Louis walking up to him with hands tucked into the pockets of his oversized grey coat, brows furrowed, he was practically vibrating with the need to just… see. To touch Louis and know their whispered words held little merit.

“So there is something wrong,” Louis said in lieu of a greeting and pulled Harry into a hug. Harry felt his bones finally settle into place, wrapped his arms tightly around Louis’ shoulders. “Do I need to use my best intimidating face on someone?”

Harry buried his face in the crook of Louis’ neck and shook his head, just letting himself breathe in and out, inhaling Louis like oxygen.

Louis rubbed Harry’s back kind of like Harry’s mum used to when he was sickly, the cold-bitten tip of Louis’ nose bumping into Harry’s cheek. “You all right, love?”

“Sorry,” he mumbled.

“What for?” Louis asked, incredulous, hands stilling on Harry’s back. Harry didn’t want to pull away to look him in the eye, because somehow Louis had developed an ability to spot all his avoidance techniques just by looking at his face.

“Dragging you out here.”

“Well, you didn’t exactly drag me. I came very willingly. I think I deserve a reward for that, actually,” his lips grazed the corner of Harry’s tight-lipped mouth as he whispered, “can I have a kiss?”

“Please,” Harry said, because every moment spent not kissing Louis was a moment wasted. His mouth relaxed, open and soft under Louis’ slow kisses, the heat of it rushing to his head. The tips of his fingers no longer felt cold.

“You all right, baby?”

“Just a bit… I wanted to see you. Is that okay?”

Louis kissed him, hands slipping under Harry’s unbuttoned coat to pull him in even closer by his waist. “Of course it is. ‘S a lunch break anyway.”

Sometimes Louis would stop by the library to keep him company and do his homework and sometimes he’d eat with his friends in the cafeteria. Harry liked it that way. Liked that they each kept those parts of themselves and managed to intersect when it mattered.

“Sorry, you must be hungry,” Harry mumbled into Louis’ cheek.

“A bit peckish, yeah. We can eat in the library if you want? Mum made me sandwiches.”

“Not marmite again, is it?”

Louis bit the side of Harry’s jaw, the prickle of pain shooting down Harry’s spine. He bloody loved it when Louis bit him. “Don’t you dare bad-mouth marmite, Harold. Not on my watch.”

“All right, weirdo. It’s still gross though.”

“When you’re as old and wise as I am, you’ll see the error of your ways,” Louis interlaced their fingers and pulled him along, “You’ve got no leg to stand on anyway. You eat leafs.”

“It’s lettuce and it’s healthy,” he protested, the corner of his mouth twitching.

“Well, where’s the fun in that?”

Harry just shook his head and pressed an impulsive kiss into Louis’ temple. He saw a smile tug at Louis’ lips before he faced away, and couldn’t help but grin in return. Yeah, nobody knew what he and Louis had, and Harry might not have been sure what the future would bring or how long he’d get to keep Louis by his side, but he knew that what they had was real. Real and theirs.


He was just finishing his homework when he heard two pairs of feet stomp up the stairs, followed by a door slamming and a string of very colourful, familiar curses. Sure enough, a few beats later Louis was slipping into his room, complaining, “Did you know that your step-brother is a knobhead?”

Harry grinned, taking in all the glamour of a sweaty, post-football-practice Louis and trying not to squirm too much at the sight. “Is that a rhetorical question?”

“He didn’t let me win the race up the stairs and now he took the shower that rightfully belongs to me. He’s the one who invited me over anyhow. This is just rude,” Louis pinched the front of his form-fitting thermo top and grimaced, “I’m so sweaty, it’s disgusting.”

“Well, you could, um… take your kit off?” Harry chewed on the tip of his pencil and tried not to sound too desperate, the book he’d been reading burning a hole in his lap. He closed it as inconspicuously as he could and pushed it under his pillow.

“Oh, is that what I should do?” Louis’ eyebrow quirked up, “I should warn you though. I am a filthy, filthy boy right now.”

Harry might have whined. Louis was not the only one.

Louis just fisted the hem of his top and peeled it off his body in a gloriously teasing display of smooth, flushed skin and subtle muscles rippling right under. The sudden urge to nuzzle Louis’ chest hair had Harry gripping his pencil so hard it creaked.

“Louis.” As he hungrily tracked Louis’ every move when he bent over to take off his socks, the pencil almost snapped in half. Harry couldn’t believe this was his life. That he had Louis bent over in the middle of his room, sweating.

“Sorry if I stink.”

Harry shook his head and tossed the pencil aside, kneeling up and crawling to the edge of the mattress. Louis could be absolutely drenched and Harry would still want to lick him all over like an ice-lolly.

“You don’t.” He stretched his hand out, waited until Louis took it, a crooked half-confused, half-curious smile on his face.

“Are you wooing me?”

“Always,” Harry replied, dead serious. He vowed to never take Louis for granted.

Louis flicked his hair off his face with a nervous hand, watching Harry expectantly.

When Harry pulled hard on his hand and sent him stumbling into Harry’s chest, Louis squawked and braced himself on Harry’s shoulder, the other hand squeezing his.

“What’s this all ab—”

Harry nuzzled Louis’ chest.

“Harry, don’t, I really am disgus—”

“No, no you’re not.” He wasn’t even lying, was the thing. He’d been fully prepared to smell the awful locker room kind of sweat that always made him think of dirty socks and pants worn for a day too long, but. Louis smelled good. Like freshly cut grass and soap. Harry’s mouth watered.

“Liar,” Louis said, but his free hand slid into Harry’s hair to keep him close anyway.

Harry sat back on his haunches until he was eye-level with Louis’ chest and spanned his hands over Louis’ waist, thumbing over the edges of Louis’ ribcage. He quivered under Harry’s touch, lips parting on a soft exhale.

“I’m not,” Harry said, leaning in to drag his mouth over Louis’ collarbones, tongue flicking out to lick over the hollow of Louis’ throat. He could almost taste the frantic beat of Louis’ heart. He kissed his way lower, glancing up at Louis’ slack face when he licked over his nipple. Louis jerked, breath hitching on a half-aborted moan. “Sensitive?” Harry rasped, fingers fitted into the dents of Louis’ ribcage.


Harry kissed Louis’ stiff nipple, soft and easy, lips parting just the tiniest bit to pull the nipple into his mouth in a slow suck. The hand in his hair tightened convulsively.

The fading hues of gold and orange and pink filtered in through the gap between the drapes and bathed the side of Louis’ face, made him look like a beautiful painting. He blinked down at Harry slowly, his free hand stroking Harry’s upper arm.

“Can I… the other too?”

Louis nodded, swallowing hard. When Harry started to suckle slowly again and brushed the pad of his thumb over Louis’ other nipple back and forth, he wondered if he’d have five half-moon bruises etched into his shoulder the next day. Hoped he would.

“God, Harry, you’re making me—”

Harry smoothed his palms down Louis’ sides, thumbs edging beneath Louis’ shorts to press into his hipbones. The book had put all kinds of ideas in Harry’s head he could barely grasp now, nothing past the raw mantra of need and Louis and I want to make him feel so good he’ll never forget me.

Harry released Louis’ nipple, traced the spit-slick flesh with his fingertips before he kissed the other one.

“Harry, fuck, you’re so good to m—”

The door creaked opened. “Oh, for fuck’s sake, you two!”

Harry pulled away, brain still cottony, Louis’ taste lingering on his tied tongue.

“The bathroom’s free,” Liam grumbled, water dripping off his freshly washed hair before he turned on his heel and disappeared with a huff and a slew of keep it in your pants for one minute, will you.

Before Louis could make it more than one step away from the bed, Harry caught his wrist, heartbeat spiking. “Wait.”

Louis tilted his head, listening, breath still coming out short and unsteady.

“Don’t… like,” his face burned, sweat prickling at the nape of his neck, “don’t get yourself off. In the shower, don’t… you know.”

Louis bit down on his lip, looking tortured and ready to question Harry, so Harry just whispered, “please.”

“Fuck, yeah. All right.”

“You won’t?”

Louis readjusted himself in his pants with a grimace and said, “I won’t. Promise.”

When Louis glanced over his shoulder and caught Harry staring at his bum, Harry was too dazed by what he was planning to do to even blush.


The next ten minutes were probably the longest of Harry’s life. He’d already smoothed down his bedspread and arranged his textbooks on the desk in a perfectly neat little stack, not a paper out of place. He’d cleaned his glasses off to the point the lenses might pop out if he did it again. His T-shirt was turning damp from the way he couldn’t stop wiping his sweaty palms on the front of it, the centre of him shaking like a leaf caught in a storm. Louis was standing under the shower stream right now, naked.

When the door finally opened to reveal a damp, flushed Louis with a towel knotted around his slim hips, Harry’s mouth ran so dry he could hear himself gulp.

“Sorry, I didn’t have… can I borrow some clothes off you?”

“Um, yeah… yeah!” His feet took him towards his chest of drawers and his hand hovered above it for a few painful seconds because he couldn’t remember what he’d been about to do in the first place. Louis’ towel was tenting, okay? And what if it dropped? Then Louis would be standing in the middle of Harry’s room naked, with his hair drip-drying all the way down his smooth, golden skin, and nobody had told Harry his brain would be rendered useless whenever Louis was near. It was a good thing his back was to Louis because he had to close his eyes and breathe in deep to steady himself.

“You all right, love?” snapped Harry out of his increasingly muddled thoughts.

“Yes!” he rushed, yanking the top drawer open so fast and hard he knocked the edge of it into his belly. Fuck. He fished out a pair of clean, black boxer briefs and turned around to hand them over when… shit. Shistshitshit.

“Hope you don’t mind,” Louis smiled, hands tugging on the hem of Harry’s lavender sweater, one side ready to slip off Louis’ bare shoulder. Harry had to brace himself on the dresser when Louis padded up to him and took the boxers out of his slack hand.

“N-no, I don’t… I don’t mind.” The knit swallowed Louis. The sleeves kept slipping over his hands and the hem fell down mid-thigh and he looked small and soft and damp. Harry just wanted to fold him up and cuddle him close. “I haven’t… I haven’t washed it.”

“It’s all right,” Louis shrugged, bending over to slip the boxers up his strong legs and discarding the towel. “It smells like you. I like it.”

The breath left Harry’s lungs in a shaky whoosh, his knees weak. He’d never been this disoriented kind of aroused before. “Louis.”

Louis regarded him with a crooked smile, hands curling into the sleeves. If Harry reached out, he could pull Louis in for a kiss. “Anything I can do for you, babe?”

Harry whimpered.

“You’re in a right state, aren’t you?” Fingertips tickled the length of Harry’s arm, slipping lower and lower until their fingers intertwined, warm and electric. “What do you want?”

“Kiss you,” Harry whispered, not trusting his voice, “want to kiss you.”

“So sweet, aren’t you,” Louis said so quietly Harry wondered if he was meant to hear it at all. With a soft kiss brushed over the edge of his jaw, Louis pulled him back, step by step until he turned Harry around to push him down on the bed. Even if Louis hadn’t been holding his hand, Harry had a feeling his body would have moved in synch and matched Louis’ every step anyway as if there was an invisible hook tethering them together. The hook that pulled right under Harry’s ribs hard whenever Louis smiled.

They shuffled up the bed, open mouths sharing breaths as if it was all they needed to survive. Louis’ weight pressed him into the mattress, made all his muscles loosen up like tightly coiled springs that had finally snapped into place. He wanted Louis to cover him like water washing over the ocean shore, in an overlapping never-ending barrage of waves.

Louis took off Harry’s glasses, folded them and set them down on the bed carefully, mouth already seeking Harry’s. He tasted like mint and softness, the inside of his mouth giving and pliant when Harry licked in with a moan. His hand slid over the valleys of Louis’ back, rested right above the tight curve of his bum, fingers spasming with the urge to grab a handful.

Louis gave Harry’s tongue a slow, needy suck, his eyelashes tickling Harry’s cheeks. One day he’d sit Louis down and count them all, smooth over them with the pads of his fingertips.

Louis’ breath hit his swollen mouth, the tips of their noses grazing. Harry couldn’t even open his eyes, just waited for Louis to duck back in again, waited for him with parted lips and his heart pounding in the tip of his tongue.

“Harry, Haz, what is—” He grunted into Harry’s ear, more of a squeak really, as he tugged on the pillow under Harry’s head.

Harry’s eyes snapped open, a shiver rolling all the way down to his curled toes.

“So you’re the type to,” Louis mouthed over Harry’s neck, sharp teeth pressing in, “hide books under you pillows then?”

Harry gripped Louis’ hips, staring up at Louis, wide-eyed and red-cheeked, struggling to understand why a part of him wanted Louis to open the book and see.

“Not,” Harry managed, voice hoarse, hands shaking, “not usually.”

Louis arched his eyebrow, his thighs flexing as he pulled back to sit on Harry’s lap. The idea of being tied up like this while Louis teased him about the book made his skin tighten to the point of uncomfortable.

“What is this then?” Louis asked as though he’d had a peek at Harry’s every dirty thought and liked it. He flipped the book open to the bookmarked page, eyes flitting from left to right. Harry held his breath.

“I’m,” he croaked, feeling like someone pumped his chest full of starlight, “it’s not—”

“You naughty, naughty boy,” Louis licked over his lips, hips rolling forward as his eyes kept scanning the page. “Should I go on inspired?’

“No, I want, I want,” his breath hitched, his head fuzzy and light, “to… to you.”

“You want to,” Louis lowered the book to his side, eyes dark and narrowed, “suck me?”

Harry felt the words like a punch to the stomach. It made him struggle to pull in a breath, all his neurons firing with how much he wanted. Wanted the weight of Louis’ cock on his tongue stretching his jaw to the point of discomfort so bad he didn’t know how to voice it.

“Please,” he said, all the blood rushing down to his cock when Louis settled on top of him again and rolled them over.

“Do you really want to? Pinky swear?”

“Pinky swear,” he breathed into Louis’ throat, felt Louis’ breath hitch when he licked over his fluttering pulse point.

“All right, okay, fuck. But… I won’t… I won’t wreck your throat like that, yeah? Won’t fuck your mouth.”

“Okay.” He wasn’t sure he could take it, didn’t want to come off as stupidly young and inexperienced. He just wanted to please Louis. “Will you… will you tell me what to do? What you like?”

Louis thumbed behind his ear, eyelashes sweeping down in a slow blink. “You’ll do good, no matter what. Even if you do nothing but… kiss it. I’ll love everything.”

“But like,” Harry blinked, tried to put his thoughts into words, to let Louis know he wanted to feel Louis’ hands knotted in his hair and rasped incoherent commands telling Harry what to do, “tell me? You’ll tell me what you like?”

Louis’ voice came off strangled, affected, when he said, “I will.”

Harry’s hands shook a little when he clumsily moved down Louis’ body and rolled up the hem of the lavender sweater above Louis’ belly. Louis’ stomach quivered just like the last time Harry had kissed it, muscles jumping under his eager mouth.

“Are you sure?” Louis asked, fingers finally sliding into Harry’s hair, knees bent and heels planted into the mattress. Harry’s eyelids dropped like he had Pavlov’s reflex, every part of him just giving in the second Louis touched him like this. With gentle, firm hands and a soft tone he only ever used with Harry.

He kissed his way from one hipbone to another right above Louis’ borrowed boxers, his chin bumping into Louis’ hard cock. “I might cry if you stop me,” he said honestly, hands curling around Louis’ thighs as he lay comfortably in the cradle of Louis’ spread legs.

“Fuck, Harry.” Louis’ grip on his hair tightened, hips shifting as though he couldn’t stay still.

When Harry bit the waistband of Louis’ boxers to pull it away from Louis’ skin he wasn’t sure if he was teasing or stalling because he was afraid he wouldn’t be good enough. Maybe it was a bit of both.

“I’m a bit nervous,” he mumbled into Louis’ cock and it was so bloody ridiculous, this need to be obnoxiously good at everything he ever did on the first try because anything else only made him feel like a failure. And he never wanted to fail Louis.

“I don’t expect you to… deepthroat me,” Louis said, rubbing Harry's scalp, “I’ll be honest here. I probably… I don’t think I’ll last very long. Just seeing you like this has got me ready to… um, well… blow.”

It startled a laugh out of Harry and he felt a little light-headed, excited and nervous and stupidly forthright. “I kind of practiced on bananas. So I could… um, get more in.”

Harry expected Louis to laugh and call him silly, but Louis’ hand tightened in his hair, chest rising on a sharp inhale. “You do realise I’ll never be able to watch you eat a banana again, don’t you?”

“Does it make you hot?”

Louis canted his hips up. “Can’t you tell?”

“I don’t know,” he teased, his hands shaking a little less now. It was just Louis. He’d never hold any embarrassment against him. “Maybe I should just,” he hooked his fingers in Louis’ boxers before he could get more nervous, “look.”

The waistband caught on Louis’ tip, the rough drag of the fabric over the sensitive gland forcing a needy whine out of Louis’ throat. Harry tugged the boxers down and off Louis’ legs, set them carefully down on the edge of the bed before he braved to fully look. Louis was… big. Thick, with a pulsing vein running down the length and the tip flushed dark red. Harry’s mouth watered so much he had to swallow, not quite able to meet Louis’ eyes as he settled down again. The slide of his hands down the sides of Louis’ thighs made Louis’ cock jerk against his belly and Harry wanted to kiss and touch every part of Louis’ body just to see what made him lose control.

“Put your… wrap your fingers around the base,” Louis said, stroking behind Harry’s ear gently. “Now you can, like… purse your lips around the tip and kiss it. Just to see if you like it. Like the taste.”

Harry licked over his lips, heart thumping so hard he felt it in his throat as he leaned in and pressed his open mouth to the tip. It was smooth and heady and he could barely keep his eyes open when the way he suckled a little made Louis’ grip in his hair tighten.

“Yeah, just like that,” Louis whispered, hips shifting as if he wanted to push himself deeper into Harry’s mouth. “Lick me.”

The liquid heat of it rolled over Harry from head to toe, pulsing low in his belly. He swiped his tongue over the flushed head, the tip of his tongue just dipping into Louis’ dripping slit. The taste wasn’t too foreign, not too different from Harry’s own. He liked it. Liked the way it made Louis fist the bedspread with his free hand and tip his chin down to his chest so he could look Harry in the eye. He wondered how obscene he looked right now, with his tongue stuck out and swirling around the tip of Louis’ cock, hand wrapped tightly around Louis’ base.

“Such a good boy, Harry, I wish you could see yourself,” Louis said and for one insane moment Harry considered telepathy through dick sucking.

Harry planted a little kiss right over the slit and glanced up at Louis before he parted his lips and sank down. The ridge right beneath the head popped past the roof of Harry’s mouth and the slick taste of Louis dripped down on his tongue. It wasn’t nearly enough, the urge to get more and feel the stretch of his mouth sliding down Louis’ cock even lower had him sucking with a bit too much gusto. He felt it hit the back of his tongue and trigger his gag reflex. He had to pull off, tearing up and coughing, because of course. He just had to go and ruin it and be the least sexy person in the entire world.

“You okay?”

Harry wiped his damp eyes with the back of his hands, face turning bright red. “Sorry.”

“Hey, no,” Louis smiled, his hairline beading with sweat, every muscle still coiled tight and ready to spring, “it happens, it’s all right.”

“I just… I got too much into it,” Harry admitted quietly, leaning down again to nuzzle Louis’ bare stomach, “Wanted too much all at once.”

“You like it then?” Louis asked, voice breaking on the last syllable. “Like having my cock in your mouth?”

“Yeah.” His own throbbed in his pants. If he touched himself right now he was afraid he’d pop off in seconds. “I want to… I want it.”

“Fuck, Ha---ngh,” Louis fisted the hem of his lavender sweater and moaned when Harry picked up his cock again, resolute and dizzy with the need to please as he suckled the tip like a lollipop.

“Move your,” Louis gasped out, thighs twitching, “your hand too.”

Harry tightened his fingers and started to stroke up and down in a twisting motion, stretching his jaw wider to suck more of Louis in, slower now, trying not to get too lost in it, too eager. He did anyway. The longer he kept at it, the more of Louis he managed to stuff into his mouth, the lighter his head got, the slower the slick slide of his hand. He hummed and rose up on his knees, eyes falling shut when Louis pulled at his hair in just the right way.

“Your mouth, baby, fuck,” soft fingertip traced the bow of Harry’s upper lip, coming to rest right at the corner of Harry’ too-full mouth as if itching to push in. The thought of more made Harry dizzy, made him hollow his cheeks around Louis harder and pull him in deeper until his lips met his fist and Louis’ litany of stuttered praise had him leaking into his pants.

Harry bobbed his head, too far gone to even care he was dribbling down his chin because his mouth was too full for him to swallow. The bed creaked with the movement, the sound of their quickened breaths and the slurp of Harry’s mouth like a dirty soundtrack.

“God, you’re such a… my good boy. Sucking me so well. Don’t think I can last,” Louis breathed out, hips stuttering up.

Harry sucked in a sharp breath through his nose, overwhelmed by Louis’ taste and smell and touch, feeling fuzzy like his flesh was made of cotton and he’d float away any moment now with nothing but Louis’ voice keeping him from getting lost.

When Louis pushed his finger in alongside his cock and pressed down on Harry’s tongue, Harry’s eyes rolled into the back of his head. He moaned so loud he’d have been mortified if he could think more clearly, shivers wracking his frame, hips rocking into the empty air because he couldn’t control it.

“Harry, Harry, Harr—” Louis pulled at his hair, hips pushing just a bit further into his mouth. Harry felt like the world had tipped off its axis, the floor beneath them tilting and swaying like a boat on the ocean waves, nerve endings rubbed raw and too sensitive when he tipped over the edge. His hips jerked forward as he spilled into his pants, tongue pressing hard against Louis’ finger and the underside of his pulsing cock. “I’m gonna—” Louis made to pull Harry off but he sucked harder and refused to budge, his orgasm turning his limbs into quivering jelly, stars bursting behind his eyelids.

Louis made a strangled noise in the back of his throat, his head falling back against the pillow and toes curling into the bedspread as the first spurt hit the back of Harry’ tongue. He swallowed on instinct, gripping Louis’ thighs so hard it would leave bruises the next day, didn’t spill a drop until Louis was spent and boneless, open thighs spasming when Harry pulled away to press kisses to Louis’ navel.

“Bloody hell, Harry, that was—” Louis blinked down at him, all soft edges and flushed skin thrumming like a plucked string of a guitar, “come here so I can sort you out.”

Harry hid his face in Louis’ stomach, nuzzled the folds of his lavender sweater and knew that every time he’d wear it from now on he’d remember how wrecked Louis looked, how undone by nothing but Harry’s mouth, “No. I kind of, um… did already.”

Louis’ fingers came to rest on Harry’s nape, unmoving and light. “Fuck, did you… did you wank yourself off?”

Harry shook his head, slightly embarrassed with how much he’d liked it, liked the weight of Louis’ cock in his mouth so much he’d come untouched in his pants, “I didn’t. I just… it just happened.”

Louis’ fingers cupped his nape, chest rising and falling on a muffled groan. “God, that’s so hot. Come here,” he coaxed Harry up until they were face-to-face, noses bumping. They kissed, soft and lazy and almost innocent if it hadn’t been for the lingering taste of Louis on Harry’s tongue. They kissed for infinite minutes, long and deep waning off into chaste pecks until they were just resting their mouths together, Louis’ hands running up and down Harry’s spine as if he was remembering notes on a piano.

They broke off eventually, giggling over nothing into each other’s necks as they snuck into the bathroom to clean up, bathroom tiles cold beneath their bare feet. And Louis was still Louis and picked up the discarded book just so he could watch Harry’s face turn redder and redder as he dramatically read out all the dirtiest parts he could find. Harry chased him down into the kitchen and kissed Louis against the counter until he dropped the book and wrapped his arms around Harry’s waist instead. Neither of them even heard Mum come in from work until she called “hello” from a couple feet away, eyebrow arched and an amused tilt to her smile.

When Louis had to go back home it was harder than ever before to just let him go, and Harry had to wonder what he’d got himself into, how hard it would be once Louis left more than just his house.


Chapter Text

Harry was sitting amidst a cluster of notes and textbooks with a mild hysteria edging in when Mum popped into the living room with oven mitts on and said, “Come chat with me for a bit, love. Take a break, yeah?”

“But, Mum—”

“The books won’t run away, trust me. Come keep your old mum company for a few minutes.”

“You’re not old,” Harry begrudgingly set his pen down, knees stiff with how long he’d been sitting cross-legged, frantically trying to cram as much into his brain as possible. He’d never felt less prepared for an exam in his entire life, tried to ignore the itch urging him to go back to his books right now as he followed Mum into the kitchen.

He breathed in the warm smell of home and custard pie that was turning golden in the oven before he shuffled up to Mum and cuddled into her, the tight clench of panic around his chest loosening just a bit. It made his eyes sting that she was the shorter one now.

“You’re growing up so fast,” she sniffled, hugging him like only a mother could.


“Oh, don’t mind me, I’m just being silly.”

“I love you.” He squeezed her tight before kissing her cheek and letting go.

“Stop it before I really start crying.” She went back to preparing Sunday roast as he sat down on the kitchen stool. It was dark outside, a gloomy kind of grey on the cusp of tipping into black, a thin layer of first snow dusting the ground.

“How was your day?” he asked, listened to her talk and cook, feeling like she had something on her mind that she wasn’t sharing.

“How is Louis? You two doing all right?” she finally asked, her back to him.

“I love him,” slipped out of his mouth so fast his eyes went wide. He clapped his hands over his mouth, barely even noticed Mum pausing for a second before she turned to face him.

“Well, I knew as much,” she said, nonplussed. “The way you look at each other—”

“Each other?” He set his hands down on the counter, grabbing a stray napkin and picking at its edges.

“Of course, pumpkin.” She sat down next to him and put her hand over his, stilling his fidgeting. “I take it you haven’t told him?”

He shook his head, teeth digging into his bottom lip.

“I’m sure you will when it feels right. Don’t rush yourself.”

He hadn’t really stopped to think about actually telling Louis. It suddenly seemed selfish, to keep something this big to himself. He was just scared. Scared that Louis didn’t feel the same and it would make everything awkward. But Louis did. He loved Harry. He must have. Harry could see it in the way Louis would put his hand on his lower back to guide him as they walked, or the way Louis’ eyes would turn so soft when they met his. How Louis would give him space without complaining when he needed to study and kiss Harry like he needed it to live.

“We’ll be gone all weekend in two weeks,” Mum said, squeezing his wrist, a teasing glint in her eyes. “Won’t come back until late at night on a Sunday, probably.”

“Where are you going?” he asked.

“A little romantic getaway,” she said with a pleased smile, grinning when Harry groaned.

“Don’t be such a teenager about it,” she stood up to go take the pie out of the oven, “I thought you’d be happy.”

“Well, I mean, I’m happy for you, you know that—”

“No,” she laughed, putting the roast in, “I meant… happy that you’ll have the house all to yourself.”

“Oh.” Oh.

His cheeks felt hotter than the heat rolling off the oven.

“You’re all grown up and in love. I’m not clueless, you know,” she straightened up, faced him again, “I’d rather know you’re being safe and comfortable, not sneaking around somewhere making bad decisions in the backseats of cars like I did.”

“Mum!” he dropped his head on top of his folded arms, “I didn’t need to know that.”

“Oh well, too late now,” she swatted his head with a kitchen towel and sat down. “I wish my mother was as cool as I am.”

“It doesn’t count if you call yourself cool.”

“Sure it does.”

Harry refused to look up at her now. That had definitely been too much information.

“Don’t be a grumpy cat. Be happy that I’m not sending you off to a catholic boarding school. Which my mother also did. Can’t say it worked.”

Harry snorted.

“She’d definitely have skinned me for reading porn.”

Harry’s head snapped up, wondering if the splotches of red on his cheeks screamed guilty.

“You left your book in the kitchen a few days ago, love.”

Harry sputtered, kicking himself for not remembering to pick it up right away. But it had barely been there for about an hour. He thought he’d been in the clear.

“Mum, I’m so sorry, I wasn’t… I’m not—”

She laughed, which Harry thought was incredibly unfair. He was so distressed.

“Calm down, pumpkin. It’s fine. At least it seemed more accurate than the stuff online.”

“You read it?” he squeaked, wondering if he could run away and pretend this had never happened.

“A bit,” she said, not flustered at all. “Was slightly too Fifty Shades for me but it looked good.”

“Oh my God.” He didn’t know if he was more horrified that his mother knew he liked to read about kinky power dynamics or the fact she compared it to Fifty Shades. He had standards. He chose the latter. “It’s so much better than that! It’s actually well written and it has a great plot line and actual subplots and—” the deeply amused look on her face stopped him.

“Wow, okay. Sorry. I didn’t mean to offend your choice in porn.”

He turned tomato red.

“Oh, I’m just teasing you.” She bopped the tip of his nose and grinned at Geoff who had just walked into the kitchen. He glanced between the two of them, his moustache wriggling as he smiled. “All right, you two?”

Harry shot Mum a very frantic don’t you dare tell him look.

“I was just about to tell Harry here that if he needs, he can take the condoms from our nightstand.”

Geoff shrugged and opened the fridge to take out a bottle of water. “Sure.”

If self-combusting from embarrassment was a real thing, now would be a good time to put it to test. “I need to study!”

He jumped off the stool and bolted out of the kitchen as if he had rabid dogs nipping at his heels.


Louis poked his cheek, squinting. “You’re frowning.”

Harry pulled his mouth into his most dazzling smile.

“Nah, not fooling me.” Louis grabbed Harry’s hand as they walked out of the school, swinging it to and fro. If Harry hadn’t felt like his heart had dropped down to his heels, he might have coerced Louis into skipping as well. Not that he’d have needed much convincing. “Tell Dr. Tommo what’s wrong.”

“Dr. Tommo?” Harry asked, hiding his smile in his scarf.

“I’ll be your psychologist for the day,” Louis said, all official-like, squeezing Harry’s hand, the tip of his nose turning red from the unrelenting wind. He looked cute. He wasn’t allowed to look cute when Harry wanted to feel sorry for himself.

“I don’t want to complain. It’s not even important.”

“I don’t care if you stubbed your toe or splashed tea on your homework. I want to hear all about it.”

“I don’t think I did that well on my exam today,” Harry admitted finally, downtrodden and feeling rather dumb about it. It wasn’t the end of the world. “See? Told you it’s stupid.”

“Yeah, because something that is so important to you is stupid,” Louis said dryly, mouth set in a disapproving line. Harry vaguely felt like a scolded child. “Is that a sure thing or just a feeling?”

“I don’t know, I just,” he took a deep breath, couldn’t really contain the barrage of worries that had been plaguing him for the past two hours, “What if I get a really shitty grade and fail my class and not get into uni or get a good job and then you’ll leave me and I’ll just become an old, sad man with nothing but cats to keep me company, but even they will only stay in it for the scraps of leftovers I’ll feed them—”

“All right, all right,” Louis jumped in, a kind smile on his face. “First of all, you wouldn’t be able to fail your class even if you got a bloody F for the next few exams, which you wouldn’t even if you tried. Second of all, the cats would totally love you for you, not just your food, because let’s be honest, you’re a crazy cat lady already. Third of all,” he pulled them to a stop and tugged Harry close, leaning up on his tiptoes to kiss Harry on his tense, cold-bitten lips, “I won’t leave you.”

But you will, in a few months, Harry thought, dropping his forehead against Louis’ shoulder before he started sniffling from more than just the cold. He said nothing. Instead he just hugged Louis so tight he squeaked and didn’t let go until they got jostled by an inconsiderate bunch of kids rushing past them to the parking lot.

“Do you know what you need?” Louis asked, a devious glint in his eyes that made Harry quite wary.

“A miracle?”

“Snow in your face.”

“I don’t th—” but Louis was already letting go of his hand and bending down to gather up a handful, so Harry just, “shit.”

He narrowly missed the flying missile aimed at his head and took off, slipping and sliding his way towards the school football field, trying really hard not to laugh but unable to. “Louis, no!”

“Louis, yes!” Louis screamed back, his voice getting closer and closer. Harry felt a snowball hit him dead centre in the back and squawked, ducking behind the goal post to make a snowball of his own.

Before he could even send it flying, Louis was tackling him to the ground, warm puffs of Louis’ laughter tickling his cheek, “You trying to tag me, Harold? I can’t believe this treachery! What have you got to say for yourself?”

“You started it!” They rolled around on the ground, snow clinging to their clothes. Harry giggled, breathless, his fingers numb as they grappled to push the melting snow into Louis’ face.

“I’m being falsely accused!” Louis was holding Harry’s wrists, shaking his head so the snow sprinkled down on Harry’s face. Sputtering, he managed to roll them over and straddle Louis’ hips, grabbing a handful of snow and shoving it behind Louis’ scarf without any finesse.

Louis’ eyes went wide and he honest to God shrieked, looking so outraged Harry couldn’t even put up a fight as he was pushed off because he was laughing too hard. “Harry, you little shit!”

“Your face!”

His laughter turned into a startled yelp when Louis shoved his own handful behind Harry’s collar. That was how Liam found them, frowning in disapproval and complaining he’d been searching for them all over school. Louis’ eyes met Harry’s and they wordlessly jumped to their feet to charge a very horrified Liam. They all ended up red-cheeked and soaked and freezing, but by the time Harry came home he didn’t even remember why he’d been so stressed in the first place.


“It’s my birthday in two weeks,” Louis said, redirecting Harry’s hand to his mouth and taking a bite out of his apple as they sat in the back of the library.

“I know,” Harry admitted, ducking his head to hide his smile.

“Did Liam tell you? Because I wanted to be really obnoxious and watch you get flustered over not knowing,” Louis pouted, cheeks pouching as he chewed, “He’s ruined it.”

“I’ve known for a while now.” He’d managed to find out a few months after the school loo incident just so he could Google how compatible they were. Louis definitely didn’t need to know that.

“You’re making that face.”

“What face?” Harry asked, thumbing through his textbook. He’d got a B minus on that bloody exam so he really should do some extra credit. He didn’t want to settle for anything less than perfect. Explained why he’d fallen in love with Louis, really.

“Don’t know. You just look suspicious.” Louis squinted, stealing another bite of the apple, chewing with his mouth open. “Are you hiding something embarrassing from me?”

“If I was, I wouldn’t want you to know, would I?” Harry asked, biting down on his grin. Louis was like a dog with a bone. One of those really tiny persistent ones you’d rather not take on. “Besides. You’ve seen me embarrass myself countless times. I’m sure it’s lost its charm.”

“Never. You’re too cute when you’re all squirmy.” Louis made his sad puppy dog face he knew Harry couldn’t withstand. Cheater. “I thought I was your best friend. You’re supposed to tell me all about it.”

“I will if you… um, do you think you might be free this weekend?” He dog-eared the page, rubbing the smooth paper between his fingertips and actively avoiding Louis’ gaze.

He saw Louis stop mid-chew out of his periphery. “Are you trying to distract me?”

“I’m actually really asking you,” Harry said, clearing his throat and willing his voice not to shake. He didn’t know how to say it without coming off as inviting Louis for a weekend of sex. Not that he didn’t want to, but. Not like this. All planned out and contrived. He just wanted it to happen.

“Don’t know. I’d have to ask Mum. Why?”

“Speaking of mums,” Harry laughed nervously, pushing his glasses to the root of his nose, “mine won’t be home. They’re going away to, like, this romantic weekend thing, so I thought… I don’t know,” he rubbed the back of his neck, “You might want to hang out?”

The chair legs scraped over the floor as Louis scooted closer, catching Harry’s hand to kiss the back of it. “Of course I want. I’ll talk to Mum. See if she’s working or not. If she is I’ll just help her find a babysitter.”

“I don’t want you to go to too much trouble. We can hang out anytime.” He felt the heat creep up his neck when Louis pressed his lips to the inside of his wrist.

“Hey, don’t be nervous, love,” Louis whispered, pressing little kisses all over Harry’s hand, “Just because Anne’s not home doesn’t mean we have to do stuff. We can cuddle and play Fifa and make cookies.”

“You mean I can make cookies and you’ll help with the eating,” Harry smiled, scooting closer so his thigh pressed against Louis’, his skin no longer taut with tension.


“All right.”

“But I can totally return the favour, you know,” his lips brushed Harry’s burning earlobe, “can suck you off if you want.”

Harry swallowed hard, shifting on his chair.

“Or not. But you’ll tell me if you feel like it, yeah? I won’t say no.” He cupped the back of Harry’s neck and kissed him, soft and sweet. “Now stop distracting me and let’s get this homework done.”

It took Harry ten minutes to calm down enough to focus on the Second World War instead of the sudden tightness of his trousers.


“Be good,” Mum said with mock sternness, handing Harry cash. “Make sure Liam doesn’t starve or live off pizza all weekend, would you?”

“Hey!” Liam complained. “There’s vegetables on pizza. It’s all very healthy.”

Anne just shook her head fondly and smacked a kiss on each of their cheeks. “Call me if there’s trouble.”

Outside, the car horn honked for the third time. Poor Geoff had been waiting a while.

“Go before the weekend’s actually over,” Harry said and steered her towards the front door by her shoulders.

“All right, all right, I’m going, jeez.”

They waved her off, and the second the door closed Liam squeezed his shoulder and grinned, “Have fun, mate. I’m spending the weekend at Sophia’s.”

Harry tripped over his own feet. “Wait. What?”

He’d been kind of counting on Liam being here, because if he wasn’t, that meant Harry and Louis would have the house all to themselves, and there was no telling what would happen. Or where it would happen. Oh god, they were going to defile the kitchen, weren’t they?

“Her dad’s away on a conference. She’s got hot tub, mate. I’m gonna romance the hell out of her.”

Harry was slightly dubious about Liam’s idea of romancing and hoped he’d at least buy her flowers first.

“But what do I do?”

“Isn’t Louis coming over?”

Harry couldn’t get past the word coming. This didn’t bode well for the kitchen.

“But we can’t just have the house to ourselves! What if we have sex?” Harry blurted out, wishing he could shove the words back in his mouth because this was Liam, and why the hell was Harry telling him this?

Liam’s brows met to form a concerned unibrow. If Harry wasn’t in the middle of an existential crisis, he’d have been impressed.

“I say, go for it? If you want?” After a pause he added, “Please don’t shag on my bed.”

Harry’s face was surely doing its best impression of a ripe beetroot. “What if I’m bad at it?” Why was his mouth still doing the talking thing?

Liam patted Harry’s cheek, looking mildly sympathetic, “Mate, you could just lie there and think of England and Louis would still think he hit the jackpot. Don’t worry about it, yeah?”

Harry nodded, staring at Liam’s collarbones because he couldn’t bring himself to look him in the eye right now. Liam was right though. It made Harry feel surprisingly better. “Thanks,” he mumbled.

When Liam pulled him into a hug, Harry’s eyes went wide. And wasn’t blinking supposed to be an involuntary reflex? Because he couldn’t remember how to do it.

“No problem,” Liam let go with a pat on his back and it was definitely one of the more awkward hugs Harry had ever had, but it was actually nice. Warm, even.

“Have… have fun at Sophia’s.”

Liam grinned. With a final flick of his eyebrow, he disappeared up the stairs to presumably pack, leaving Harry standing there with too many feelings and a vague sense of excitement that made his palms sweat.


“So this is it. This is the house.”

“Harry, I’ve been here before,” Louis laughed, ruffling his hair as he passed him by to head off to the kitchen. Harry really needed to stop imagining spraying whipped cream around Louis’ nipples in the shape of little hearts and licking it off.

Harry padded after him, jumping when Louis pivoted on his heel to regard him, head tilted to the side.

“You’re making me nervous. What do I have to do to get you to relax, love?”

“I am relaxed! I’m practically a, um… a noodle.” Now only if he could tell his penis to go just as limp, that would be swell. Fantastic, even.

Louis walked over to him, hands falling to Harry’s hips and steering him until his back met the fridge. “Want me to slurp you up?”

“Oh my god.”

Louis just rubbed his sides as if it didn’t send shivers down Harry’s spine and left a little smiling kiss right under the edge of Harry’s jaw. “Kidding. Well, kinda. I’m afraid your awful puns have rubbed off on me.”

“Rubbed off on you,” Harry echoed, slightly faint. The coolness of the fridge was a godsend.

“Harry,” Louis said, hands firm and tone serious. Earnest. “Nothing that you don’t want to happen will happen, okay? I only want what you want, so like, don’t think we have to shag just because the house is empty, yeah? I don’t expect anything. Well, maybe except cookies. You did promise me cookies.”

“I trust you, you know,” Harry said, catching Louis’ wrist and willing him to believe it because he hadn’t meant to come off as scared. He was nervous and a little jittery, yeah. But that was par for the course, really. “I know you don’t expect stuff. But I… I do want you to kiss me and touch me and do stuff that we always do. It’s nice.”

“Like this?” Louis leaned up to kiss him, long and sweet, with soft lips that tasted like mint and hands sliding into Harry’s hair to pet him just the way he liked.

“Yes, please.”

Louis kissed him one more time before pulling back with a sheepish smile, “Can we do this one thing I’ve always wanted to do though? Since it’s just us here.”

Saying “yes” was the easiest thing in the world.

Louis pulled at the collar of Harry’s Rolling Stones T-shirt, eyes crinkling at the edges. “I’ve always wanted to slide down the stairs on a mattress.”


The kitchen was a disaster. A literal war zone, with flour all over the floor and their hair, Harry’s nose and Louis’ fingers sticky with honey. This was one hundred percent Louis’ doing. Well, kind of. Harry may have lent a hand or two after Louis left a flour handprint on his bum.

“Making cookies is hard,” Louis complained and… was that a berry in his hair? Harry didn’t even know they had berries.

“Well, that condiment fight did throw a bit of a wrench into the whole process.”

“Don’t act like you hate it,” Louis said, sitting on top of the counter he’d deemed his rightful throne and smirking around a cookie wedged into his mouth. He always bit off more than he could chew. Harry was stupidly endeared.

“Do you want milk with it?” he asked, resting his open palms above Louis’ knees as he stood in between Louis’ legs.

Louis perked up, nudging the half-eaten cookie against Harry’s mouth. “Can I?”

Harry let Louis feed him and smiled. “Of course,” he said, though the words came out garbled because his mouth was full.

After he swallowed, Louis grabbed the back of Harry’s head to pull him into a messy kiss that tasted like chocolate and honey and left crumbs sticking to Harry’s face. Funny how little he cared. Didn’t feel the pressing urge to put everything into order right away and clean up, because Louis was licking into his mouth, thighs clamping around Harry’s hips like he’d never let go.

Harry had been half-hard for what seemed like hours, too attuned to the constant flux of Louis and kisses and hands leaving lingering touches over every visible inch of Harry’s bare skin. Sometimes they’d dart under Harry’s T-shirt to touch his hips or slide down the curve of his spine to rest teasingly above his bum, and he was half convinced Louis had been doing it all on purpose. Keeping him just on the edge of aroused because he said he liked the way it made Harry’s cheeks flush. It worked. It worked so bloody well he couldn’t help but press his hips into the counter and exhale a whine into Louis’ mouth, the nape of his neck sticky from Louis’ hand.

They parted with a slick sound that sent arousal zipping down Harry’s spine and pounding beneath his skin like a drum

“Milk?” he asked again, dazed.

Louis bit the tip of Harry’s nose and let his thighs fall open so Harry could push off, “Please.”

Harry didn’t realise he’d turned the wrong way until Louis laughed, “The fridge is the other way, love.”

“Oh.” For a moment he wondered if he’d ever get his brain to function around Louis or if this was a permanent condition. The evidence so far seemed to point to latter.

He didn’t even hear Louis’ feet hit the floor. Didn’t register him nearing close until arms slid around his waist from behind to pull him against a warm chest. He blinked into the insides of the fridge, hazy and fighting the urge to tilt his head back for a badly angled kiss.

“We’ve got… um, do you want skimmed or—”

Louis buried his nose in Harry’s neck and inhaled, slow and deep.

“Did you just… did you just smell me?”

Louis growled, a playful rumbling noise Harry could feel vibrating against his back. Goosebumps erupted on his skin, his arms falling limply to his sides. Louis could have the skimmed milk and all the cookies and a naked Harry, as far as Harry was concerned.

“I love the way you smell,” Louis whispered, planting small kisses all over Harry’s nape and down the side of his neck. He had to grip the fridge door to keep himself from falling face-first into the fruit shelf because lovelovelove.

“How… how do I smell?” He squeezed his eyes shut when Louis’ hand started stroking his belly in lazy circles that went lower and lower until his pinky caught on the waistband of Harry’s joggers.

“Sweet,” Louis inhaled again, making a pleased noise in the back of his throat, “Everything about you is sweet.”

“Louis.” His skin felt too sensitive, as though Louis’ touch sparked Harry’s every nerve ending to life to the point where every thread of his clothes started to feel like too much.

The other hand joined in, smoothing up Harry’s side, fingertips brushing over his nipples. The buzz of want slinking through his veins for the past few hours turned into a staccato pounding. He slumped into Louis further, knowing Louis would support his weight, that he’d keep him safe. He should probably close the fridge already but the cold air drifting over his face was a welcome relief.

“Skimmed is fine,” Louis whispered, hands slowly stroking all over Harry’s torso. It seemed like Louis was everywhere all at once, his breath tickling the back of Harry’s neck, relentless fingertips rubbing over his nipples and scraping over his happy trail.


“Milk,” Louis confirmed, hips flush against Harry’s bum, just as affected, but more in control. Always more in control than Harry.

“Milk,” Harry repeated dumbly, hands slipping over the plastic jug.

Louis opened his mouth over the curve of Harry’s neck and sank his teeth in. Harry jerked, chest expanding on a moan he couldn’t keep in.

“Thank you, baby,” Louis said and put a steadying hand in the centre of Harry’s back before his hands completely disappeared. It took Harry a moment to gather his wits and take the milk out, a little self-conscious about how obviously turned on he was.

“Fuck, Harry,” Louis breathed out when he turned around.


“Don’t,” Louis said, soft and kind. “You like it, don’t you?”

Harry swallowed hard, unsure about what Louis meant but knowing the answer would have been “yes” anyway. Louis’ eyes burned into him as he poured milk into a tall glass with shaky hands. “Do I like what?”

“Me teasing you.”

He nodded, really proud that he hadn’t spilled a drop. He lifted his gaze and met Louis’ as he handed him the glass.

“My lovely boy. Thank you.”

He shuffled closer and hid his smile in Louis’ shoulder.

They stayed like that for a while, feeding each other and sharing the milk until the need dwindled back down to something less urgent.


“Come to me!” Louis yelled, his smile wicked as he held out his arms and watched Harry slide across the polished corridor floor on fuzzy socks Louis had deemed quirky. Harry crashed into him and laughed, music in the living room turned on way too loud.

“One might say this is a terrible idea,” Harry said, hands finding purchase around Louis’ waist as they stumbled back a couple steps, “My coordination is awful.”

Louis carded his fingers through Harry’s hair and his face lost all the sharp edges. “You’re like Bambi.”

“I’ve only fallen over twice though. That’s better than I expected.”

“Poor baby,” Louis kissed his cheek, “Maybe I should kiss it better.”

Harry should have known that the moment he said “you should” Louis would take it and run with it. He squished Harry’s face in his hands and rained kisses everywhere. On Harry’s cheeks and lips and chin, the tip of his nose and his closed eyelids until Harry was giggling and trying to squirm out of Louis’ arms was futile.

“I didn’t even,” he said breathlessly, hands clasped around Louis’ wrists, “fall on my face.”

“Oh,” Louis said, eyes narrowed as he pulled back. “That is true.”

Harry side-eyed Louis’ thoughtful expression with an expectant smile.

Louis arched his eyebrow and that was the last thing Harry saw before Louis bent down and lifted Harry over his shoulder in a fireman carry.

“Louis, no! You’re gonna drop me on my head!” He slapped Louis’ bum because it was right there in Harry’s face. Watching the muscles flex as Louis walked almost made him forget why this was a bad, bad idea.

“I would never!” Louis said and mock-stumbled just to make Harry shriek.

He was carefully set down on the mattress they’d used to sleigh down the stairs and rolled onto his belly. “Louis, what—”

Louis grabbed Harry’s hips and kissed him right on each swell of his bum.

Harry gasped into the mattress and kicked out.

“I’m kissing your bum better,” Louis said matter-of-factly and hooked his hands in Harry’s joggers and pants to pull them down just an inch. His lips pressed to the top of Harry’s bum, skin-on-skin and Harry had to hide his reddening face in the mattress, panting, fingers clenching around nothing.

“All right?”

“Yeah,” Harry said, growing unbearably hard again.

“Can I blow you?”

It was a good thing the mattress muffled the sound he’d made.

“Can I?”

“Please, please.”

Louis rolled his useless, limp body onto his back and spread his legs. “Don’t come. I want to see how much more you can take.”

Harry sucked in a shuddering breath, his quivering thighs pressed against Louis’ shoulders. “But what if I can’t… what if I can’t hold it?” Disappointing Louis seemed worse, so much worse than not getting to come and he just wanted to be good. Wanted Louis to edge him on until he couldn’t remember the formula for quadratic equation.

“Want you to tell me,” he slowly rolled Harry’s joggers under his bum, hot mouth opening around Harry through his pants. He was starting to leak. “Want you to warn me if you get too close.”


“Do you understand, love?”

“Yeah, yes.”

Louis glancing up at him through his lashes right as he peeled his tight boxers down made Harry doubt he could last more than a minute. “If you want me to keep sucking you until you come, that’s okay too, all right? We don’t have t—”

“No, I want,” he gulped, his skin too tight and cock twitching on his belly, “want this.”

“Okay,” Louis licked over his lips and looked down, and he was so close to where Harry was the most vulnerable that it made his stomach clench with nerves.

“Beautiful. So fucking lovely,” Louis mumbled to himself, kissing the base of Harry’s cock. He had to squeeze his eyes shut and dig his fingers into the mattress because it was too much. So much he couldn’t focus on anything else now but the slide of Louis’ wet lips up the length of his cock and the sound he made once he licked over Harry’s wet tip.

“Sweet and sour,” he chuckled, warm, sure fingers wrapping around Harry’s length. They couldn’t even meet around his girth, fuck.

“Hngh,” was the most coherent thing Harry could say, because Louis’ fingers made this weird rippling motion around his cock and he licked over the sensitive spot right under the head. At this rate, he wouldn’t last enough to know what it felt like to be inside Louis’ mouth.

“Look at me,” Louis pursed his lips around the tip, his free hand caressing Harry’s until he relaxed his hold and opened his eyes.

“Louis, I—” love you, “please.”

His cock pulsed out another drop of precome.

“You’re doing so well, baby. Just a little more, yeah?”

Harry whined and arched his back, turned his hand palm-up so he could hold Louis’ hand.

Louis rose up on his knees and lifted Harry’s heavy cock off his belly, hand sliding up and down in a loose, barely-there hold that was equally maddening and earth shattering. “My sweet boy.”

When Louis stuck his tongue out and tapped Harry’s leaking tip on it, Harry bit down on his bottom lip so hard he wondered if he’d break skin. He couldn’t. He couldn’t possibly last, felt like the world was about to tip beneath his feet and drag him with it.

Then Louis sealed his lips over the head and sank downdowndown until his lips met his fingers and his eyes drifted shut like he’d never tasted anything better in his life.

“Lou, I can’t, I—” he dragged in a breath and squeezed Louis’ hand, unravelling at the seams with every drag of Louis’ scalding mouth over his firing nerve endings.

Louis popped off with a deep inhale. “You sure?”

“I don’t… I don’t know.”

“Just a little more,” Louis coaxed, voice raspy and low and needy. “Just let me—”

“A little more,” Harry repeated, steeling himself as Louis rubbed the precome and the spit over the head with the palm of his hand then smoothed it down Harry’s cock.

Louis sucked him in again, moaning, head bobbing slow and steady like he loved every second of it, cheeks hollowing obscenely on each upstroke. Harry’s T-shirt clung to his sweaty torso, the quickening beat of want and need and please thundering beneath his ribcage.

“Louis, I’m gonna… can’t.”

When Louis pulled off, Harry almost started crying. The heat beneath his skin was white hot, his toes curled into the mattress in a futile effort to ground himself, to keep from floating away on this feeling.

With a final peck on Harry’s cock, Louis pulled back and brought Harry’s hand to his red, swollen mouth to kiss his knuckles. “You’re amazing. I can’t believe… I can’t believe you’re mine. My lovely boy.”

Harry gulped in air like it was his last, wondered if he’d ever stop shaking with the enormity of it all.

“I love you so much.”

Even though he was lying down he felt like the world had tipped off its axis and yanked the floor from under his feet. His hand shot out to grip the base of his cock, because he’d almost—

“Did you just almost—”

Harry threw his arm over his face and nodded, waited a few beats until he was sure it was safe to let go. He felt Louis pull his pants and joggers back up, ever shift of the fabric rubbing him in the most excruciating way, and Louis loved him.

Louis settled down on top of him and tugged Harry’s arm away from his face. “I love you,” he repeated, nuzzling the spot behind Harry’s ear. “I love you so much.”

“Louis,” Harry said quietly, afraid his voice would break, “if you tell me again you’re gonna make me come.”

Louis laughed, his fluffy hair tickling Harry’s face.

“I love you too, you know,” Harry said, fingertips walking down Louis’ spine, “I’ve loved you for ages.”

“I’m glad it’s mutual.” The way he ground his hips into Harry’s and pressed I love you into his throat with lingering kisses told Harry this would be a long, long weekend. And he never wanted it to end.


Chapter Text

When Harry had suggested to start cleaning up the kitchen, he hadn’t expected it to come to this. Hadn’t foreseen being so hard it hurt and holding onto the sink with rubber gloves on his hands, laughing so hard he could barely keep his eyes open after Louis insisted on tying giant sponges to the bottom of his feet because he’d seen it in a cartoon once.

“It’s going to work!” Louis said with a determined expression, jaw set and chin lifted in triumph as he unsuccessfully tried to shuffle forth over the flour-dusted floor.

Harry’s mad cackling turned into a high-pitched squeak when Louis lunged at him and gathered up a handful of foam from the sink to dump it over Harry’s head.

His mouth went slack with disbelief, water dripping down his face. Why was he still hard? Christ.

Louis arched his eyebrow and wiped his wet hand down Harry’s front, fingertips grazing Harry’s bulge, and… yeah. That was why.

“We’re supposed to be cleaning,” Harry said, biting down on his lip when Louis ran his knuckles over Harry’s length, the fabric of Harry’s joggers not really enough to muffle the sensation. It almost made it worse, that not nearly enough.

“We are,” Louis smirked, “Look how squeaky clean you are now.”

Harry felt rather filthy, in the best possible way. When Louis shuffled away again and left him there gripping the sink, Harry wondered just how long he could take this before his knees buckled.


Forty minutes later and he was about ready to beg. They’d somehow managed to turn the kitchen spotless again, even though Harry had felt his movements slow down each time Louis had whispered I love you or touched his skin, clever hands petting wherever they could reach as they’d passed each other in the small space.

“Your hair’s a mess,” Louis said, hand following the curve of Harry’s spine, “Sorry about that.” Harry felt like he was underwater, weightless and blurry around the edges. The only thing in focus was Louis. Louis’ lips pressed to his nape and thumbs rubbing circles into his hipbones as Louis ushered them upstairs. “Let’s get you cleaned up, yeah?”

“You’ve got,” he swallowed, covering Louis’ hands with his, half afraid his muddled brain would fail his already clumsy feet and make him stumble, “you too. There’s flour.”

“You have good aim,” Louis said and Harry didn’t need to glance over his shoulder to know that Louis was smiling.

“I love you.”

When they made it to the top of the stairs, Louis wrapped his arms around Harry’s waist and pressed up against him from chest to knees in a tight embrace, chin propped up on Harry’s shoulder. “I love you too, pumpkin.”

“Is that why you’re a tease?”

“Precisely.” Louis slid his hand down to rest it over Harry’s crotch, just touching without giving pressure or friction or anything. Harry tipped his head to rest it on Louis’ shoulder, letting him lead them down the dimly lit corridor because his own thoughts were scattered all over the place.

“How long have you been like this?” Louis squeezed him through his joggers for emphasis.

He licked over his lips and blinked. “Um… don’t know. Have been… half hard ever since you came here. And then, like, after you said… said I was sweet…”

“You are. My sweet Harry,” Louis whispered, nuzzling behind Harry’s ear as he flicked the bathroom lights on. The skies outside had turned from grey to charcoal a while ago, little drifts of snow gathering on the windowsills. “Fuck, I can’t even imagine how you’re feeling right now.”

Light. Like his bones were hollow and ready to take flight and everything just felt… more. Heart beating so much louder in his ears, blood rushing fast and skin like one big nerve ending that wouldn’t stop sizzling every time Louis touched him. “Good,” was all he could articulate, turning his face to slide his lips over Louis’, “can’t really think straight.”

“Want me to wash your hair for you?”

Harry felt his heartbeat in his fingertips. “Don’t laugh.”

“Why would I laugh?”

“Because you want me to, like,” he turned around and burrowed his face in Louis’ shoulder, “get naked. And I’m, I’m not—”

Louis’ fingers threaded through Harry’s hair, soft and gentle, just the way he needed. “I can do it with you bent over the tub, you know. Don’t have to take a stitch off—”

“No.” He clutched at the back of Louis’ T-shirt, stomach twisted up in knots and this scalding heat that pooled in his belly in slow, steady pulses.

Louis paused, hand sliding down to rest on the nape of Harry’s neck, “No?”

“I think I’ve got it under my T-shirt too,” he bit down on his lip, watched Louis track the movement with intense, unblinking gaze. “Honey too. And stuff. I’m all… dirty.”

Louis’ nostrils flared, the muscles of his jaw jumping as if he was holding himself back. It was the last thing Harry wanted. And despite the doubting shadow of a voice reminding him you’re not sexy, you’re just going to look stupid, you’re going to humiliate yourself, he pulled Louis close until there wasn’t an inch of space between them and kissed behind his earlobe. “I need to get all clean.”

Louis’ Adam’s apple bobbed up and down, pulse rabbitting beneath Harry’s lips. “Do you want me to… leave you to it?”

“What if I slip? I’m… I’m too,” he opened his mouth over the spot where Louis’ neck met his shoulder and sucked, tongue swiping over honeyed skin, “I don’t want you to leave. I want… I want you. With me.”

Louis tilted his head back, his voice strangled when he asked, “Are you sure about this?”

With a final kiss over the blossoming bruise, Harry pulled back to look Louis in the eye, skin taut and too sensitive and he just wanted. “Yeah.”

For a second he worried Louis would try to talk him out of it, tell him you’re not ready, and Harry would have to beg. Instead, Louis said, “I trust you to know what you want. Just, if you at any point change your mind or aren’t comfortable with something, tell me.”

Harry nodded, let his hands fall to his sides when he felt Louis lift the edge of his T-shirt. He let Louis pull it over his head, heart stuttering somewhere high in his throat as he resisted the urge to cover himself up because what if Louis changed his mind? What if once he saw Harry completely naked, he’d be so underwhelmed he’d to try to come up with an excuse to not have to touch Harry anymore?

Louis knelt down, fingers hooked in Harry’s joggers and pants before he pulled them down to his ankles. The cool air made goosebumps prickle his skin all over but did nothing to quell the deep-bone, aching heat that made it hard to keep himself upright. The bathroom was so quiet he could hear his every hitched breath and every gust of wind rattling the windowpanes. He was too afraid to look down. Afraid to see Louis’ expression or how needy he must have looked, just standing there stark naked with his length pearling at the tip.

“Beautiful,” Louis said, and even though his voice was hushed, it startled Harry into glancing down.

He shook his head, unsure about what to do with hands, and why were they just hanging there so uselessly?

“Yes,” Louis said, those ridiculously long eyelashes of his fluttering over his cheeks as he leaned in to kiss the jut of Harry’s hipbone, his palms sliding down Harry’s outer thighs. “So bloody fit.”

Harry choked back a nervous burst of laughter but didn’t quite manage, blushing beet red when Louis kissed his way up Harry’s belly as he rose to his feet, still fully clothed.

“Not like you are,” Harry said quietly, half wishing Louis didn’t hear, even if they both knew it was true. Louis was fit. Played footie, was constantly moving and running around, was probably strong enough to lift Harry up without getting winded and carried himself with the easy confidence of someone who knew they were attractive. Harry was… all right. Slightly better than average, when he was feeling generous and cleaned up nice. He wouldn’t hold it against Louis if he found him disappointing like this, with nothing to hide behind.

“Fuck, you’re so wrong,” Louis said, brows furrowed as he yanked his T-shirt over his head and dropped it carelessly to the floor, his hand immediately coming up to curl around Harry’s upper arm to tug him close, “Can’t you see? You’re so…” his hands caressed Harry from shoulders down to his wrists, fingers intertwining before Louis lifted Harry’s hands to his mouth to kiss his knuckles, “Your hands are absolutely obscene. You can hold three glasses in one hand and it turns me on so bloody much it’s embarrassing,” he walked them back until Harry’s feet fell onto the little fuzzy mat in front of the shower stall, “With legs like yours, you could pull off the tightest skinnies better than any girl.”

Harry swallowed hard, watched his hard cock leave a smear of precome over Louis’ joggers before he let go of Harry’s hands to step out of them.

“Love the little bit of softness right here,” Louis said, smile soft and intimate as he caressed Harry’s love handles, “Gonna kiss you from head to toe once I get the chance.”

Harry nuzzled into Louis’ neck, gasping when skin met skin and the glass door slid shut to encase them in a little bubble of space where the world revolved only around them. And maybe, just maybe, Harry didn’t want to hide anymore. “I love you,” he tried, just to see.

“I love you too,” Louis said softly, fiddling behind Harry’s back to turn the knobs on. When the cold water hit them, they both jumped and clutched at each other, laughing as if their skin wasn’t sparking electricity every time they touched. It warmed quickly, beating down on them in a rush that steamed up the stall in seconds. “I’d love you if you had a big gut and no hair, too.”

Harry giggled, couldn’t help it, because Louis always made him feel like nothing else was even a choice, “Me too.”

“You better,” Louis mock-grumbled and the way his hard cock bumped into Harry’s as he reached behind to get the shower gel made Harry’s eyes roll into the back of his head.

Neither of them moved to do anything about it, but Harry’s hands itched to touch.

“Will you wash my hair?” he asked, tipping his head further away from the direct spray for a bit and standing still, mesmerised by the way water ran down Louis’ body in little rivulets, how it turned his lips glossy and raspberry pink.

“Will I wash your hair?” Louis squeezed a dollop right on Harry’s head, put the capped bottle away and buried his hands in Harry’s hair, “I’ll give you a very special Tommo treatment. It’s the best you’ll ever have.”

Fuck, he wasn’t lying. Harry had to grip Louis’ waist to keep himself from sinking to his knees, because every little pull and tug and fingertips digging into his scalp turned his bones into rubber. Louis pulled him back in to rinse the shampoo out but kept his hands in Harry’s hair, massaging gently.

“Can I… can I touch you?”

Louis’ hands paused and his mouth met Harry’s in a kiss he returned as if he’d been waiting for it for years. Hot water trickled in between their mouths, made their lips slip and slide as Louis took his hand and guided it to his lower back, “Please.”

Harry soaped up his hands and touched everywhere, in love with Louis’ barely repressed giggle as Harry washed his armpits, starving for every inch of Louis’ body, the decadent curve of his back and the roundness of his bum that Harry couldn’t help but squeeze. Louis moaned into his mouth, nails digging into Harry’s back. The little spark of pain only made him harder, unbearably so. He’d never been this desperate to come, never tried to deny himself for this long. His skin felt like a bowstring pulled tight and ready to snap, his cock dripping so much he felt it pulse out before water washed it away.

“Can I get you off?” Harry asked, desperate, when Louis’ soap-slicked hands ran over his chest and belly.

“Fuck, yeah.”

“Will you still,” he bit at Louis’ jaw, wrapped his hand around Louis’ cock. It jumped in his hand, “will you be able to get hard again?”

“Give me fifteen minutes and I’ll be good to go,” Louis gasped out into Harry’s collarbones, teeth scraping skin. “Probably even less.”

Harry tightened his hold and went slow, up and down and up and down, rubbed his palm over the head, so incoherent and turned on he could almost feel every torturous slide himself.

He kept up the slow pace, loved the way Louis slumped into his body, breath shallow as he held onto Harry like he was Louis’ anchor. He only faltered when Louis’ fingers rubbed soap over his bum and slowly pushed in between to graze his hole.

“More, please.” His mouth went slack, all the synapses firing at once when Louis wouldn’t stop rubbing right where Harry wanted him the most. He no longer cared how shameless he was being.

“Don’t have lube here,” Louis said, voice breaking on the last syllable when Harry picked up his pace. “Shouldn’t with… with soap.”

He couldn’t find the right words, so he just opened his mouth and stuck his tongue out, waiting until Louis finally got the hint and put his rinsed finger in. He closed his lips around it, swirled his tongue around the digit to get it wet. It popped free, Louis’ eyelashes clumped with water, pupils blown wild as he rubbed it over Harry’s hole again and slowly edged in. “Be a good boy for me and don’t come.”

Harry tightened his grip, eyes falling shut again when the finger pressed in even deeper. It wasn’t nearly enough, didn’t even begin to scratch the itch, only made it worse.

“Fuck, Harry, I’m gonna—”

He focused on the head, jerked it with short, tight strokes that had Louis’ finger pushing in to the last knuckle and curling inside him. They gasped at the same time, Louis shooting over Harry’s belly, his finger pressing hard against Harry’s sensitive walls.

“Please, Lou, please.” He squeezed the last bit of come out of the tip and dropped his forehead on Louis’ shoulder.

“We should,” Louis panted, finger thrusting in and out, “get out of here.”

They fumbled out of the shower and hastily dried off, and when Louis set him down on his bed and insisted on blow-drying their hair, Harry almost cried. No matter what he did, the ache just wouldn’t ease, and he just needed something. Needed Louis to press him into the mattress and fill him up until he couldn’t remember what it was like to not be full to the brim.

“So needy,” Louis combed through Harry’s dry hair, finally kneeing up on the mattress in nothing but a towel around his hips, pecking Harry’s lips. He opened his mouth, breath catching in his throat when Louis’ teeth caught his bottom lip and pulled. They fell back on the mattress in a tangle of limbs and wet kisses, hands smoothing over heated, shivering skin.

“Lou,” Harry breathed into Louis’ neck when he rolled them over so Harry ended up on top. His towel had come undone. Louis’ had a moment ago, already discarded somewhere on the floor.

“Yeah, love?” Louis blinked up at him, gentle hands rubbing his back, his hair a fluffy mess that made Harry want to swaddle Louis in blankets and then crawl under to suck him off.

“Can we, like… will you,” he hid face under Louis’ jaw, hands tucked between their chests, “what’s going to happen?”

Louis wrapped his arms around Harry’s waist and just hugged him. And even though Harry was getting dizzy with how hard he was, had been for ages, he kind of needed this too. Liked the comfort and safety of Louis holding him close without demanding anything in return.

“What do you want to happen?”

“Kisses,” Harry said, nose pressed up against Louis’ neck because he smelled vaguely like home, “ and this. Like, us naked. And maybe even… the stuff.”

“The stuff?” Louis asked with voice like warm honey, fingers walking up the length of Harry’s curved spine and resting at his nape. “What kind of stuff?”

“Bum stuff,” Harry admitted with burning cheeks, lips pulled into a smile when Louis tickled the back of his neck.

“Oh, bum stuff, is it? What kind of bum stuff? You’ve got to be more specific,” his lips grazed Harry’s earlobe, words a whisper even though there was no one around to overhear, “Want me to finger you? Kiss you? Something else?”

“Kiss me?” he asked in a breathless rush, teeth digging into his bottom lip.

“Yeah, kiss your bum. Lick into you until you can’t take anymore.”

Harry took a sharp breath, hyperaware that the only piece of fabric between them was his undone towel. That Louis’ palm was sliding down his back to rest just above the swell of his bare ass, and he couldn’t. Needed more. “No, no, I… I want… want you in me.”

Soft, quivering lips touched his, patient hands tugging the towel off from under Harry’s hips and tossing it to the side as Louis rolled them over again and settled between his spread thighs. And Harry had kind of expected Louis to get right to it without preamble, but all he did was sit back on his haunches and stroke up and down Harry’s thighs like he was drinking in every second.

Harry fought the urge to put a pillow over his face and curl into a ball so he wouldn’t be on display like this, but the expression on Louis’ face wouldn’t let him. His face said, you’re beautiful and I love you, and Harry pressed his knees tight to Louis’ sides, his belly pulled taut with nervous excitement.

“I’ve never,” Louis said on an aborted laugh, eyelashes sweeping down to hide his gaze, “You mean so much to me, Harry. I want to do this right. For you. For me too, because… because I’ve never felt like this for anyone and I don’t want you to be disappointed. Because this matters.”

Harry caught Louis’ hand right as it travelled back up his thighs and held it tight. “Lou, look at me,” he insisted even though his skin was on fire, “there’s no way you can disappoint me. I’m… I’m afraid it’ll be all over the second you touch me.”

Louis hooked Harry’s leg around his hip and bent down, lips warm and comforting and sweet as they kissed. “I want you to.”

“Want me to?”

The pads of Louis’ fingertips ran up Harry’s pulsing length and teased at the head until Harry’s brain fogged up and the only thing real was the needneedneed pounding away beneath his skin. “Want to make you come so many times you can’t anymore.”

He might have whimpered, maybe. He couldn’t focus, couldn’t think, because Louis was lying down on top of him chest-to-chest and nudging Harry’s mouth open with his tongue to lick his way inside, gentle fingers stroking Harry’s hair away from his forehead. He could feel how slick he was, the slow grind of Louis’ hips making their cocks slip and slide together in the mess of Harry’s precome that had dripped down his length and pooled on his belly. It made electricity shoot up his spine and crackle back down to his fingertips, toes curled when Louis drew Harry’s tongue into his mouth and sucked.

Louis’ skin was shimmering warm water with drops of sweat scattered down to the small of his back like diamonds and Harry was greedy for the way Louis felt under his hands, soft and firm and pliant and smooth, mouth slick and open as he breathed I love you into Harry’s mouth and tightened his hand in Harry’s hair in a silent mine.

“I am, I am,” he whispered into Louis’ mouth, belly pulled so tight he worried the next time Louis’ cock rubbed against his he’d unravel, “I’m yours.”

Louis dragged his mouth over Harry’s chin, pulling at Harry’s hair to tilt his head back so his throat arched under Louis’ seeking mouth. He nibbled his way down, teeth scraping over too sensitive flesh, like he needed to taste and mark every inch. “So am I.”

Harry hugged Louis tight, pulled him hard against his own body so there wouldn’t be an inch to spare, not a whisper of distance between their bodies, because his bones felt too light and he needed to feel Louis’ weight holding him down. His jaw slackened, embarrassing little noises he couldn’t control half-choked in the back of his throat.

“No,” Louis said, teeth sinking into the side of Harry’s neck, “want to hear you.”

Harry relaxed into the mattress, let himself feel and chant a litany of please and Louis and fuck me.

“Want to lie down on your belly for me then, love? Let me take care of you?”

Harry nodded, skin burning all over now as though he was a fuse and Louis had lit up a match. Moving and functioning was harder than he’d expected and his hands grappled down Louis’ back to seek purchase, his limbs too heavy. Louis helped him roll over, his hand splayed over Harry’s belly holding him up long enough to slide a pillow under his hips.

“Going to prep you, yeah?”

Harry’s hands clenched in the sheets and he glanced over his shoulder as the mattress dipped beneath Louis’ weight and his touch was no longer lighting up Harry’s skin.


“Shhh,” he said, leaning down to kiss Harry’s shoulder, “do you have stuff? Lube? Rubber?”

“Yeah, um… yeah.” He had to blink, had to concentrate hard to put his words into right order. “Under my bed. In the… um, the box?”

“Your glittery plug box?” Louis teased, already sliding down to the floor and disappearing out of Harry’s fuzzy view. He buried his blushing face in the pillow and tried desperately not to rub his hips into the soft cotton but unable to stop himself from shifting around, hungry for every bit of friction.

He didn’t even hear Louis rummage through the box or get back on the bed until he felt a steady hand press down on the small of his back, stilling him. “Don’t.”


“No,” Louis said firmly but kindly, “Want you to come on my fingers first.”

Harry’s balls had been pressed up tight against his body for so long he didn’t even know if he could anymore, was afraid that once he started he wouldn’t be able to stop.

“Are you going to be a good boy for me and stay still?”

“Yes,” he rasped, eyes slipping shut when he felt Louis coax his legs apart and kneel between them.

“I’m gonna use a bit of lotion first, love. Sorry if it’s a bit cold.” Harry heard a snick of the bottle and then Louis’ slick hands glided over his back, heels pressing down to massage the knots out of Harry’s flesh, knuckles rolling up right by his spine like Louis knew what he was doing.

“Wish I had some kind of fancy oil with me,” Louis said quietly, his chest touching Harry’s back and gentle lips leaving kisses over his nape. “Would rub you from head to toes all proper like.”

“I,” Harry licked over his lips, his tongue heavy, “what else?”

Louis pulled back again, just touching, slow, torturously blissful glides of his hands that left Harry’s skin tight and buzzing. “Would get you all loose and relaxed, even squeeze your little toesies.” His fingers tickled over Harry’s sides, made him squirm and shiver. “I’d rub you all over, get you proper worked up and open you up. Do you know what else?”

Harry shook his head, his ribs expanding on deep breaths right under Louis’ hands.

“Fuck, I’d… do you know how much I want to plug you up and make you wear it outside the house? Just, like, knowing you’re so full and no one but us knows.”

Harry moaned, his cock pulsing out more precome at the thought of being denied like that, being so full, knowing only Louis knows.

“Fuck, you’d like that, wouldn’t you?” Louis skimmed his fingernails down Harry’s spine and over the swell of his bum and he couldn’t help but shiver, hips twitching.

“I would.”

“Can I… can I eat you out?” Louis asked with a touch of desperation, thumbs pressing into the crease right under Harry’s bum and stroking upward.

Harry’s hips jerked, a little jolt of arousal shooting through his belly. He wanted to, he did, but… not now. Not when he already felt too open and vulnerable and the thought of Louis’ mouth on him left him a little apprehensive because it was his bum Louis would be putting his tongue in, and that was… intimidating.

“I don’t,” he managed, forcing his eyes open to look at Louis over his shoulder, “can you just… with fingers? For now?”

“Of course, baby,” Louis said, cheeks flushed like he was the one lying down and soaking through the pillow because he’d never been wetter in his life, hadn’t even known he could get this way.

His eyes fell shut the second Louis spread his cheeks open and moaned. As though the sight of Harry like this was so hot he couldn’t hold it back.

“You’re amazing,” Louis said quietly, the pad of his fingertip rubbing over Harry’s hole.

He heard Louis open the bottle of lube, felt it drip, cool and slick, right over where Louis was rubbing him. He started panting, sweat gathering at his temples the second Louis started massaging the slickness in, fingertip dipping in. He felt like someone had lit up a furnace right in his belly and fanned the flames out through his veins.

“Don’t tease,” he pleaded, hips shifting.

Louis cupped his bum and squeezed, his knees pushing Harry’s legs further apart until he could barely get enough leverage to move.

“I’m not. Not yet.” He circled and rubbed and teased Harry’s opening, squeezing out so much lube it ran down to trickle over his sac.

“Please,” Harry repeated over and over, tearing up.

Louis finally dipped his finger in, slid it smoothly right down to the last knuckle and it was just one finger but Harry was sweating and desperate.

“Do you think you deserve more?” Louis asked, twisting and curling his finger.

“I… I don’t know.”

Louis’ other hand ran up and down his outer thigh, voice soft as melted sugar when he said, “Yeah, love. You’ve been very good.”

Second finger joined the first, stretching and scissoring and pressing against Harry’s quivering walls until he couldn’t help but beg for more.

“So good for me.” Third finger pressed in after what felt like hours and he was so full, so stretched he had to gasp for breath and clutch at the sheets with shaking hands, so hard it hurt.

Louis picked up the pace, thrusting in faster and harder until Harry’s hips got pushed up into the pillow every time, his cockhead rubbing against the cotton. He didn’t realise he was tearing up until Louis’ thumb brushed right over the corner of his closed eye, his other hand never skipping a beat.

“Want you to come, yeah? Whenever you feel like it.”

For a moment he almost panicked, didn’t think he even could, even thought Louis was jabbing into his prostate dead on with every thrust.

“Can’t, can’t,” he said, shaking because the waves just kept cresting and cresting and it was too much.

“You can,” Louis said, combing through Harry’s sweat-dampened hair.

Harry wanted to shake his head and plead but then Louis knotted his hand in Harry’s hair and pulled, leaning down to whisper, “You can do it, baby, come on, I love you,” and he felt it hit him almost out of nowhere, his vision blurry. He desperately pushed back, squeezed tight around Louis’ fingers, mouth dropping open with no sound coming out because he couldn’t stop shaking, couldn’t stop coming, pulse after pulse after pulse until he felt the soaked pillow sticking to his skin, toes curling in an involuntary reflex. He was vaguely aware of lips pressing behind his ear, the quick, hard jabs slowing down to lazy thrusts that sent little jolts of all the way down to his fingertips.

“So good,” Louis whispered, lips leaving kisses down Harry’s spine. It took him a while to uncoil, to melt bonelessly into the mattress, only to realise he hadn’t even softened and Louis still hadn’t pulled his fingers out.

“Lou,” he breathed, hiding his face in the pillow until Louis turned Harry’s head to the side and kissed the corner of his mouth.

“God, you’re so wrecked,” Louis pulled his fingers out and Harry definitely did not lift his hips off the mattress to follow, even though he was more than a little overwhelmed. “I’m not even finished yet.”

“Please,” Harry said, so sensitive he could feel every thread of the sheets touching his body, every molecule of air drifting over his sweaty skin. And yet, “Want you. Want you inside.”

“You sure?”

Harry reached behind, fumbling to get his hand around any part of Louis he could find to pull him down. Louis let him, blanketed his body without it being suffocating. He rested his weight on his elbows, nosing behind Harry’s ear like a cat, his erection pushing in between Harry’s cheeks to slide up, to tease him relentlessly. Every time the tip would catch on Harry’s rim, his muscles would seize. He couldn’t control it, couldn’t control anything, and it made him feel like his skin was made of paper-thin glass, his insides made of foam.

He made a garbled noise that could have been “please”, eyelashes wet when Louis’ weight lifted off his body.

“Just a second, love. Let me just,” his hand stroked down Harry’s back, more wetness dripping down over his rim, “There we go.”

Harry breathed hard into the pillow that was damp with tears he hadn’t realised he’d shed, following Louis’ instruction of “lift up a bit” almost mindlessly.

“Just going to swap the pillow, yeah? Can’t be comfy, lying in that.”

Harry hadn’t even thought of that, didn’t have the brain capacity to comprehend more than the way Louis’ touch was like open flame when it grazed his cock and how empty he felt, yearning to be filled again even though everything felt like too much already.

Louis pressed Harry’s hips down on the dry pillow, his cockhead rubbing over Harry’s fluttering rim. “So good for me, Harry. Going to push in now, yeah?”

It took him a few seconds to nod, his mind hazy. Putting his thoughts into words seemed impossible. As Louis started pushing in, hot and hard and stretching Harry to his limits and beyond, he had to bite down on the pillow, breath catching in his chest and rushing out of his mouth on a guttural moan he didn’t know he was capable of.

“Fuck,” Louis breathed when he popped past the rim, his hands dropping down next to Harry’s shoulders to prop himself up. “You all right?”

“Y-yeah.” He felt like his skin was on fire, because Louis felt even bigger than he looked and it stung, but Harry liked it. Loved that little edge of pain and the stretch that made his heart pound on his tongue. He tried to say “more” but could only pant into the pillow, hips weakly pushing back. It seemed to take forever for Louis to bottom out but when he did, Harry was fully hard and leaking again, worried he’d split apart at the seams from too much pleasure.

“You feel,” Louis dropped down on his elbows, hips nudging in impossibly further, rubbing Harry inside out with every twitch of his hips, “bloody amazing. Fuck, I’m glad you got me off or I wouldn’t have lasted a second.”

Harry lifted his hips off the mattress, toes digging into the mattress with the effort in a silent plea for more and faster and harder.

Louis must have got it because he pulled out only to ram back in, his breath fanning out over Harry’s sweaty nape. His tongue licked out to taste the salt of Harry’s skin, his hips rocking in a steady rhythm. The room was silent save for their frantic breaths and rustling of the sheets, the dirty slap of Louis’ hips meeting his.

“”S too,” Harry mumbled, hands clenching around the sheets so hard his knuckles turned white, “much.”

“Want me to… stop?”

Harry shook his head so insistently it almost gave him a whiplash, “M-more.”

Louis kissed his shoulder blade, knees knocking Harry’s legs further apart as he pushed in until his sac rested on top of Harry’s, and he just stayed there, grinding in tight little figure eights that wouldn’t let Harry breathe. The constant pressure on his prostate made hot tears squeeze out from behind his closed eyelids, throat raw because he couldn’t stop whimpering.

Sharp teeth pressed into the back of his neck, scraping along over-sensitive nerve endings before tugging on his earlobe and Harry couldn’t stop himself from pushing back, even though the drag of the pillow over his cock made his brain sizzle. “I love… l-love you.”

Louis’ chest covered his back, the weight of him gentle and grounding. It made Harry feel safe, as though he could take flight and never crash back down again.

“I love you so much,” Louis’ whisper tickled his ear, lips trailing over his jaw to kiss the corner of his mouth. Harry turned his head to the side as much as he could to trade slow, incoherent kisses that lacked any rhythm or finesse. Neither of them could care any less, mouths joining again and again with slick sounds and heavy breaths, tongues licking over each other in uncoordinated little flicks.

“Can you get up a bit, love?” With one final peck, Louis leaned back, hands curved around Harry’s thighs to help him lift his hips off the mattress. He felt off balance, thighs shaking, and before he could get his hands under him, Louis pressed down on his neck, “No. Just your bum.”

Harry moaned, pressed his face into the tear-soaked pillow as Louis withdrew until the tip stretched his rim so wide it made his toes curl. Hands tight on Harry’s hips, Louis pulled him back on his cock and picked up the pace. His walls felt rubbed raw, a constant pulse of pleasure that made precome drip off his tip again and again.

“I c-can’t,” he whimpered, felt the way his belly pulled increasingly tighter with each thrust.

“You can,” Louis said breathlessly, voice like sandpaper, his fingers gripping Harry’s hips so hard he wondered if they’d leave faint bruises. Wanted them to.

He clamped his teeth down on the pillow, his balls drawing up more and more with each time Louis parted his flesh. The sound of it, slick and obscene, should have made him embarrassed but it only added to the fire, made him meet Louis’ every thrust and moan without holding anything back.

“Lou, I’m—” He let out a shaky breath, all the blood in his body rushing down to pound away in his cock as Louis spread his cheeks open with his thumbs and rubbed over Harry’s stretched out rim. It was the last straw and he just couldn’t take it, would have collapsed if Louis hadn’t been holding him up by his hips and giving it to him mercilessly.

“Yeah, that’s it, baby. Come on.”

Harry’s entire body jolted with the force of his orgasm. He came so hard his vision went black at the edges, streaking all the way up to his chin.

Louis slowed down but didn’t withdraw, and Harry struggled between squirming away because he felt like his skin would splinter apart and pushing into it. Louis’ fingernails dug into his hips and he was grunting, sliding in and out until Harry was crying into the pillow, overwhelmed.

“You can… one more,” Louis said, slowly pulled out and let Harry collapse onto the bed.

“N-no, I can’t. I can’t.” His breath hitched in his chest and he wanted to, so much, but he didn’t know if he could.

Louis rolled him over onto his back and bent over to kiss him, soft and easy, fingertips brushing tears away from his cheeks. “Try for me?”

Red was splattered all the way from Louis’ cheeks down to his navel. His condom-covered cock was flushed with blood, swaying, so hard it must have hurt. Harry felt his own cock give another feeble twitch, still half-hard.

“Louis,” he whimpered, throwing a floppy arm around Louis’ shoulders.

“Do you want to?”

“Yeah,” he said, his muscles strained and shaking.

Louis hitched Harry’s wobbly legs around his waist and slowly, so, so slowly parted Harry’s flesh with his. Breath caught in his chest, came out shaky and desperate and completely out of control. He felt like he’d been plunged underwater, reduced to nothing but raw skin and fireworks bursting in his brain. He couldn’t even think, could hardly hear anything but his own breath, mouth slack and eyes overflowing as Louis started to pound into him, slick and hard.

He saw Louis’ mouth move but couldn’t make out the words, hands clenching uselessly in the sheets, Louis’ hands trailing fire down his torso. Louis swiped the drops of come off his chest and Harry opened his mouth, waitingwaitingwaiting. The cadence of Louis’ voice made it past the fog but didn’t make sense. It didn’t need to, because his tone said I love you and that was all Harry needed. He felt like he was filled to the brim with cotton candy, his tongue lapping at Louis’ fingers hungrily.

Time didn’t exist. It could have been minutes or hours or days. The only thing real was Louis rocking into him, stretching him wide and filling him up, his hands leaving tender echoes all over Harry’s skin and breath tickling Harry’s slack lips, kissing him even though Harry was too slow to respond.

His voice whispered encouragement in his ear, fingertips teasing at the slick, red head of Harry’s cock. He was hard again, probably. It didn’t seem to matter. Not when he felt like he’d been caught in an endless circle of too much pleasure, felt like he had tens of hands caressing him all over rather than two. Louis’ lips skimmed over the side of his neck and he lifted his hand that seemed to weigh too much to slide it into Louis’ hair, to touch him back.

Louis hitched Harry’s legs higher, folding him over and pitching his hips forward, trading hard and short for long and slow, unpredictable and heady.

Harry opened his mouth, tried to shape words but couldn’t, could only squeeze his eyes shut and let it drag him under. He felt his muscles seize and fingers knot in Louis’ hair the second Louis wrapped his fingers around his cock and rubbed under the head. The waves of pleasure washed over him from head to toe, made the hair at the back of his neck and arms and legs rise as he shot thin stripes of come on his belly and over Louis’ fist. It didn’t really ebb right away, kept flowing right under the surface of his shivering skin long after Louis gently pulled out and disappeared for a moment before the mattress at Harry’s side dipped again. He felt Louis clean him up with something warm and damp and let Louis roll him over to the dry side.

He curled back into Louis’ chest, eyes fluttering shut as Louis’ fingers threaded through his hair and rubbed his scalp. He fell asleep to Louis’ lips pressing kisses into his shoulder.


Chapter Text

“Stop,” Harry mumbled, swatting around his head to make the tickling sensation on his shoulder blade go away and smacking something decidedly solid.

“Ow, bloody hell,” fingers clamped around Harry’s wrist, a puff of breath hitting the side of his neck, “What was that for?”

Still half on the cusp of falling back to sleep, Harry just grunted and let the hands roll him onto his back. They were nice hands. Warm and gentle.

“Harry, wake up, I’m bored,” fingertips ran lightly over his collarbones, “I’ll even accept your apology for mistreating me.”


“I’ll take that as a ‘yes Louis, I am deeply sorry and I am now going to wake up and entertain you’.”

Harry fought the urge to smile, his bones still too sleep-heavy to move.

“An unknown fact about me, if left unsupervised, I will get up to mischief. You sure you want to risk that, pumpkin?”

Harry turned his face into the pillow to at least try to hide his grin.

“Okay then, so be it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” The bed dipped as Louis scrambled off to get up to God knew what and Harry couldn’t help but crack one eye open. Louis had his back to him, bare skin bathed in morning light. Outside the snow was fluttering down in big fluffy chunks and piling up on the windowsill, soft and magical, and it still didn’t beat the sight of Louis’ bum in Harry’s tight black boxers.

When Louis suddenly spun on his heel, Harry scrambled to squeeze his eyes shut. Louis’ chuckle told him he’d been caught.

“Whatever shall I do now? I’m so bored and lonely and—” Louis took a sudden leap on the bed, jostling Harry enough to prompt a startled squeak, “—my boyfriend just won’t wake up.”

Boyfriend. It was rather stupid how giddy that one word made him.

A finger poked his dimple, strong thighs settling on each side of his duvet-covered hips. He had a sudden flashback to the night Louis had given him his first kiss, right here in this very bed. The bed they’d had sex in last night. Bum sex. Harry wanted to do it again. Preferably every day for the rest of their lives.

A moment of silence ensued. No matter how hard Harry strained his ears, he could only hear a subtle rustling of the sheets as Louis wriggled around to get more comfy.

“Harold Styles, you dirty little stalker!”

Charade forgotten, Harry’s eyes snapped open only to find Louis staring down at him with his eyebrows quirked and Harry’s phone held hostage in his hands.

“What?” he rasped, voice still rough and slow.

“And he’s awake.”

Harry flushed, thumbing over the bend of Louis’ knee.

“I can’t believe you have a picture of us on your phone and you didn’t tell me. I feel cheated. Cheated and lied to,” Louis said dramatically and slumped forward like a dead weight.

“I’m not,” Harry stuttered, blinking, “it’s not even… my Mum—”

“Blaming Anne now?” Louis tsked, nipping under Harry’s jaw, “That’s just despicable.”

Harry groaned and gave up on trying to explain, because this was really fucking embarrassing and nothing he could say would have made it any better.

Louis kissed his way up behind Harry’s ear, hair tickling his cheek and Harry just wanted to curl up and pretend he wasn’t such a hopeless loser.

“Really though,” Louis said, soft and quiet, “We’re cute there. Why don’t I have it?”

“I’m sorry. I wasn’t, like… being a stalker. I didn’t mean to—”

“Harry, no,” Louis’ lips brushed over his, breath minty fresh, and Harry clamped his own mouth firmly shut because Louis must have snuck off to brush his teeth and Harry had most definitely not. “I’m such a twat, I’m sorry. I was just teasing. You’re not a stalker.”

Harry had agreed to cook all week and had even washed Mum’ s car to get her to send him the picture she’d taken of them cuddling, so yeah. He kind of was. A little. Maybe not a stalker, but definitely desperate and lame, which was almost as bad.

“Anne took it then, did she? That minx.” Louis kept pecking Harry’s lips stubbornly, phone discarded as he cupped Harry’s cheeks. “Can I have it too?”

Harry nodded, determined not to open his mouth.

“Will you kiss me properly now?”

Harry shook his head. Louis’ thumb dragged over his bottom lid, the pad of it rubbing back and forth. “But I’m in need. Don’t you love me?”

That was emotional blackmail and Harry was too weak to not take the bait. Well, almost. He opened up Louis’ hand and pressed it to his mouth, whispering, “I haven’t brushed my teeth yet.”

“Oh no! Better not kill me with your dragon breath then. I’m too young and pretty to die.”

Harry giggled into Louis’ palm, turning his face away when Louis pulled his hand back and swept down to try to kiss him. They ended up struggling, every muscle in Harry’s face straining in an effort not to burst out laughing as Louis planted quick little aggressive kisses all over his face. He’d even got Harry’s nostril, somehow.

“Just one kiss,” Louis squeezed Harry’s cheeks together to make him pucker up and pressed his lips to Harry’s.

Harry returned it for exactly one second before he was rolling Louis off him and blurting out, “Can we have sex again?”

Louis’ jaw dropped open and Harry would have been mortified if he hadn’t seen Louis’ penis twitch in his pants.

“After I brush my teeth,” Harry added, face red.

“Wow. Yes,” Louis cleared his throat, sitting up, “Please hurry.”

Harry had never peed or washed his teeth faster, had even forgone mouthwash in favour of rushing back to his room and letting Louis pull him back into his bed. It was different now, every bit of him on display in the soft wintery gleam filtering in through the window, but Louis’ hands were nothing but gentle as he ran them up Harry’s sides, leaning down to kiss over Harry’ throat as if every part of him was something to treasure.

“I love you,” he breathed into Louis’ mouth, tongues touching as Louis rolled them over and sagged into the mattress when Harry dragged his mouth down Louis’ body. By the time he was hooking his fingers in Louis’ borrowed boxers, Louis was half hard and bucking his hips to get closer to Harry’s mouth. It was embarrassing how his mouth watered, how much he loved it when he finally sucked Louis in and felt the ache in his jaw.

“Love you, love you, love you,” Louis slurred, hand knotted in Harry’s hair, thighs falling open. Louis pulled him off way too soon and Harry was about to complain when Louis told him, “on your hands and knees, love.”

The urge to cover himself up was still there, especially without the shadows to drape himself in, but he did it anyway, tremors running through his body when Louis slouched over him with arms wrapped tightly around his waist and kissed down his spine. “Beautiful.”

Louis took his time opening him up, teased his fingers in one by one until Harry was rocking his hips back, whimpering for more. And even though he knew what to expect now, when Louis finally rubbed his length between Harry’s cheeks, all slippery and hot before he started pushing in, Harry felt like an unwritten canvas, every Louis’ touch brand new. And he knew that it would never get old, never get boring, because Louis made his skin sizzle like a flame that didn’t hurt. Made him grip the headboard and bite down on his lip until it bruised because he was stretched open on Louis’ cock and Louis’ hands wouldn’t stop running over his skin.

They collapsed on the mattress at one point, sweaty and breathless and so hard Harry felt all his blood pooling south, felt Louis’ heartbeat pulse against his walls.

“Yeah, fuck, there,” Harry keened, toes curling as Louis rolled them on their sides and pulled Harry’s leg over his hip to spread him open. Louis scraped his fingernails up Harry’s flank, rubbing over his nipples until Harry could hardly catch a breath and tilted his head back to taste Louis’ lips.

“My little spoon,” Louis kissed behind Harry’s ear, hand splayed over his belly. Harry tangled their fingers, lost himself in the slow, lazy way Louis fucked into him, as if they had all the time in the world. And as he watched the snow fall behind the window and felt the cadence of Louis’ heart against his back, skin sticking to skin and damp lips pressed behind his ear, he thought they just might. That when the tide finally crested and he spilled into Louis’ fist, mouth open on a silent moan, clenched tight around Louis who was biting down on Harry’s shoulder as he followed, he thought, maybe I’ll get to keep you forever.


Harry was not freaking out and he definitely hadn’t showered twice already, his fifth shirt not discarded on his bed. Only all of it was true and none of the shirts looked right.

His phone started buzzing.

He dived on the bed and grabbed it, fumbling to swipe the screen. “Hello,” he said, out of breath, glasses slipping down his nose.

“Come get me, I’m cold!”

“I’m coming,” he pushed himself to his knees and climbed off the bed, spinning in a circle twice because he couldn’t figure out where he’d tossed that first shirt he’d tried on. Fuck.

“Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?”

“You know I do,” Harry flushed, managed to slip his arms into the shirt and raced out of his room and down the stairs. “I’m here!”

He opened the door and ended the call. Louis stood there all bundled up in his oversized grey coat that made Harry want to hug him forever and a beanie pulled deep into his eyes. He still had his phone held up to his ear, the tip of his nose peeking above his woollen scarf bitten with cold.

The draft of cold crawled over Harry’s bare skin, so he pulled the ends of his shirt together and stepped aside to let Louis in, closing the door behind him.

“Hello,” Louis said as he slipped the phone into his pocket before he whipped a sprig of mistletoe that was a little worse for wear from behind his back. He held it over his head, his smile suspiciously innocent. “I swear I don’t know how this got here.”

“You didn’t,” Harry groaned, a reluctantly fond smile pulling at his lips because Louis was ridiculous and Harry really bloody loved him.

“It’s my birthday,” Louis shrugged, as though that explained everything, including how he’d even got a hold of the mistletoe. Since Harry hadn’t seen any at the Tomlinson residence, he strongly suspected Louis had nicked it off some poor sod’s Christmas wreath hung on their front door.

“You’re ridiculous.” Harry kissed Louis’ smiling lips, the mistletoe discarded when Louis shucked off his coat. “Happy birthday. Again. Even though it was technically two days ago.”

“My birthday is all week,” Louis protested, quick hands darting out to swipe over Harry’s bare chest. He swatted Louis’ cold hands away and buttoned the white shirt up to his neck, tucking it into his trousers. “Besides, you still didn’t give me my present.”

“Maybe I didn’t get you anything,” Harry teased even though his collar was starting to itch, the nerves getting better of him because he hadn’t technically bought Louis anything. Oh God, what if Louis thought his idea of a present was really stupid?

“Don’t care as long as I get another kiss.” Louis’ arms slid around Harry’s waist from behind, chin propped up on his shoulder as he let Harry shuffle them into the kitchen.

“You’ll get a kiss. But I, like, did… I cooked you dinner?” He turned around in Louis’ arms, shifting his gaze to watch his fingers play with the hem of Louis’ untucked baby blue button-up. “I made Sunday roast with these, like, rosemary sweet potatoes and cheesecake for dessert. I asked your mum and she told me you’d like that, so I—”

“Harry,” Louis tilted Harry’s chin up and the way he looked at Harry now was… he’d never forget it. Not in twenty years. Not in fifty.

“I wanted to do something nice for you, and I don’t know. I hope you don’t think I’m being cheap. I just wanted to,” he nuzzled into Louis’ touch, “you’re always the one who has to take care of others, so I just… I wanted to be the one to take care of you for a change.”

Louis’ lips slotted to his before he could even take a breath, chilly fingers cupping his jaw. He shivered and gripped the back of Louis’ shirt, let Louis’ tongue part his mouth and lick inside.

“I love you so much,” Louis said, bumping their noses together. “I can’t believe you’d go to so much trouble for me. Thank you.”

“You haven’t even tasted it yet. It might be awful.”

“I’m still going to eat all of it, even if it tastes like chopped wood.”

Harry giggled into Louis’ neck, breathed in the hint of winter and Louis, with his subtle undertones of something fresh and citrusy and earthy. “I love you.”

Louis loved it. Devoured the food in record time and asked for more, insisting on sharing both their desserts because he was secretly just as much of a romantic sap as Harry was. Probably even more so. He’d hooked his feet around Harry’s ankles under the table and didn’t even mind when Harry had kept stealing off his plate. Harry had almost proposed marriage.

The house was empty because everyone was still at Gran’s, since Mum had allowed him to leave a day early and take a bus home. He was really fucking grateful, because as they sat in the alcove of Harry’s bay window with Harry’s back to Louis’ chest, he’d have died of embarrassment had Mum overheard what he was about to say.

“So I, um… I have a Christmas present for you too? Kind of. It’s not really, I mean… you don’t have to even… it’s a bit stupid.”

“A Christmas prezzie? I thought we said no to those, you cheater,” Louis bit the shell of Harry’s ear, thumb stroking the back of his hand where it rested over his belly. “What is it?”

“It’s not even a real present, so I didn’t cheat, exactly,” Harry squirmed, glad Louis couldn’t see his face. “It’s more like a favour.”

“A favour? What, like helping me edit my essay? Because I could use that.”

“It’s not like I don’t do that for you anyway.” Harry squeaked out an embarrassing laugh, edging on the wrong side of mortified as he tried to word his thoughts. “No, it’s a… here.” He pulled out a little Christmas card from the pocket of his trousers and smoothed out the edges with shaky hands before he tucked it into Louis’ hand.

As he waited for Louis to read it over his shoulder, he wondered whether spontaneous combustion of one’s face was a thing that could actually happen. If not, he was pretty sure he was about to become an anomaly.

“For Louis,” Louis read aloud, his free hand stroking Harry’s belly absentmindedly, “A voucher for a favour of the sexual kind. Redeemable for any time. Happy Christmas. Love, Harry.”

Louis’ shaky breath stirred the back of Harry’s hair, his bent legs tightening around Harry’s sides. He fought the urge to bolt and lock himself in the bathroom because this might have been his stupidest idea yet.

“You can do, like, whatever you want. To me. Or… have me do to you,” Harry whispered, trying not to fidget with his glasses and failing.

“Fuck, I’m,” Louis’ lips grazed the shell of his ear, “I can’t decide if I want to bend you over the desk or cuddle you. I can’t believe you actually wrote it on a Christmas card and all.”

The tight vice around his ribs loosened, his body sagging into Louis’ in relief. He didn’t say how he’d almost taped this one to Mum’s Christmas present. He’d have been teased about that for months. “Who said you couldn’t do both?”

“Cheeky,” Louis said, his smile pressed into the curve of Harry’s neck. “You didn’t have to be nervous about this, you know. The best Christmas present I ever got.”

“I wasn’t,” he started then thought better of it, “All right, I was. I just… I always feel rather stupid trying to do sexy things. I’m not sexy.” The last time he’d tried to suck Louis off, he’d somehow managed to get the hem of his sweater vest stuck in Louis’ zipper and by the time they’d succeeded in prying it out without tearing it, the school bell had rung. Not to mention that time his foot had got caught in his trouser leg and tripped him up so he’d stumbled into Louis and tackled him to the floor.

“You are though,” Louis kissed his way up to his ear, “you should see the way you look when you lose yourself. The hottest thing I’ve ever seen.”

Harry preferred not to think about that too much. About the sounds he made and how desperate and shameless he could get, begging for Louis to touch him, to push in deeper, harder. “’M not.”

Louis pulled him back by his hips, Harry’s bum flush with Louis’ crotch until it was literally too hard to miss. “Does this feel like you aren’t?”

“I don’t know,” he mumbled, because sometimes it was still strange for him to comprehend that Louis wanted him. Genuinely lusted after him.

“One day we’re going to do it in front of a mirror and you’ll see what I see. See how wrecked and worked up you get. How fucking sinful.” Louis’ hand drifted over Harry’s belly, trailed down until his fingers curled around Harry’s thickening cock through his trousers. Why was he still wearing trousers? Clothes were stupid. “Not now though. I’ve got a present for you too.”

With a final squeeze, Louis let go and nudged Harry’s useless, flustered self forward so he could slip away. Harry didn’t like this. He didn’t like this at all. Who needed presents anyway?


“Shhh,” Louis hushed him with a finger over his parted lips, “I’ll be back in a mo.”

When he came back, he had a big, messily wrapped package in his hands and a sheepish smile on his face. “I kept it in Liam’s room. For today. Didn’t want one of the twins finding it and deciding it was theirs to keep.”

“I thought,” Harry swallowed, sitting with his back to the window and spreading his legs for Louis to stand in between, “we said no presents.”

“Guess we are both rebels.” He put the gift in Harry’s lap and rested his hands above Harry’s knees. The golden wrapping paper had hearts and candy canes on it, tape looped all around it to hold it together.

Harry tried to open it carefully but the tape wouldn’t let him. Too impatient and eager to see, he tore into it, bits of wrapping paper flying everywhere.

“You’re such a child,” Louis said warmly, eyelashes casting shadows over his cheeks as he picked up one of the two little green bows and stuck it to the tip of Harry’s nose.

“Oh my God!” Ugly Christmas sweaters. Two of them! “I love this so much!”

“It’s stupid, innit?”

Harry held the bigger one to his chest and grinned so hard he could feel his cheeks dimple. His had a giant, cheesy reindeer on it with a nose that lit up and Louis’ had a Christmas tree and Harry loved this with all his heart. “Quick, put yours on!”

Louis laughed as he did, and now they were facing each other with stupid smiles, wearing matching ugly red sweaters that were a size too big. Louis re-stuck the fallen bow on Harry’s forehead.

“I’m going to wear this to school,” Harry said, not even caring it’d have been well past Christmas once the break ended.

“Harry, no,” Louis said, chuckling.

“Harry, yes.” He planted a kiss on Louis’ cheek, the little bow crinkling.

When Mum and Geoff and Liam came back hours later, they found them lying underneath the Christmas tree in their matching sweaters, golden tinsel looped around their necks like a big tacky scarf.


Harry felt a bit like a child on a road trip, sitting in the backseat with Louis by his side, sharing cookies. Louis had very dramatically undone his seatbelt and climbed back there during the red light after Liam had refused to let him pick the radio station. Harry wasn’t complaining.

He tugged on the sleeve of Louis’ coat, still couldn’t quite get over how Louis’ face would turn so soft when he looked at him. “You have a crumb on your lip.”

“Get it for me?” Louis asked and puckered his lips, the very picture of mischief.

When Harry leaned in to kiss it off, Liam sighed. “Can you two stop being so married? You’ve only been together for a couple months.”

“How dare you! Three months and fifteen days.” Louis thumped Liam’s shoulder with Harry’s rolled up chemistry textbook. His effort to study while they drove had been shot to hell the second Louis joined him in the back. Not that he minded. “If you don’t like it, you can just leave the car.”

“I’m driving.”

“Do I look like I care?”

“It’s like you two are in a constant sex haze,” Liam sighed. “It’s weird.”

“You’re weird,” Louis retaliated artfully and Harry refrained from saying, “I wish”. They hadn’t had much of a chance to do anything but snog since Christmas because someone always seemed to be around. Just last week Jay had walked in on them in Louis’ room with his hand down Harry’s trousers. She hadn’t even been supposed to be at the house anymore, but she’d forgotten to leave Louis money for food before heading out for her shift. Harry hadn’t been able to look her in the eye ever since.

“I’m not the one who has been drawing dicks on every desk since middle school.”

“Well, what else am I supposed to be drawing? I like dicks.” Louis kicked weakly at the back of Liam’s seat, pouting.

“You don’t see me drawing vaginas everywhere, do you?”

“That’s because you don’t have the artistic ability like I do,” Louis said and Harry reclaimed his textbook so he could hide his grin behind it as he watched them bicker. “Maybe you’re gay.”

“I mean, if Sophia had a dick, I wouldn’t care,” Liam shrugged, and that was that.

By the time they made it to school, Louis kissed Harry obnoxiously loudly, going as far as blowing a raspberry against his mouth until Liam sighed loudly three times in fifteen seconds. The second he parked the car, Louis proceeded to twist his nipple. When Liam tried to retaliate by stealing Harry’s cookie, Louis slapped his hand off lighting-fast, scowling as he tugged Harry under his arm even though he was shorter. “Keep your grubby hands off my boy.”

His heart almost felt too big for his chest, so when some of his classmates gave his reindeer sweater puzzled ‘what the hell is he wearing’ glances—because, well, it was January— he didn’t even care.

He remembered the way Louis’ eyes had crinkled at the corners when he’d seen him put it on this morning, and he’d never been happier. That was all that mattered.


“It doesn’t matter,” Louis said, shoulders drawn tight, gaze locked on the open pages of his textbook. Harry knew he wasn’t even reading it because his eyes hadn’t moved in minutes. All he did was sit there and blink, biting his nails down to the flesh.

“Lou,” Harry said softly, drawing Louis’ hand away from his mouth before he had no nails left, “of course it does. You’re acting all strange and it’s worrying me.”

“’M sorry.”

“Don’t be.” Harry shut Louis’ book and waited for Louis to meet his eyes. “Whatever it is, you can talk to me, you know. That’s the whole point of being best friends, isn’t it?”

Louis’ shoulders slumped and he wiped one tired hand down his face. “But I don’t know if I can. You’re kind of… you’re part of the whole… thing. That’s troubling me.”

“Oh,” Harry said, a shaky breath punched out of his chest, “That’s… I don’t know what to say.” He was getting upset and it was dumb, because he didn’t even know what the problem was in the first place, but his stupid eyes welled up anyway and he had to glance down so Louis wouldn’t see.

“Harry, no, it’s not… bollocks.” The library was empty save for them and the librarian had disappeared a few minutes ago, likely to make coffee in the teacher’s lounge. So when Louis got up and rounded the table so he could settle down in Harry’s lap, he didn’t even complain. “Please don’t do this to me. I’m…” Louis pressed a kiss to Harry’s forehead and he had to bite down on his bottom lip so he wouldn’t start crying, because what help was that to anyone? “I love you, please. I just… I don’t think this is the right place to talk about stuff.”

“Do you,” Harry asked, had to clear his throat to dislodge the knot of anxiety, “do you want to skip the next class? So we can—”

“I don’t want you to miss stuff.”

“If we don’t, I’ll be thinking about this anyway. I won’t be able to… please.”

Louis kissed him again before getting up and Harry wanted so badly to take his hand but both of them were carrying books. The silence stretched on all the way to their lockers.

By the time they snuck out of school Harry had worked himself into so much stress his hands shook, all the worst-case scenarios looping around his brain. He tucked his hands into his coat and dropped his gaze down to his feet, his shoulder brushing Louis’. They still didn’t speak and Harry got a vague sense of paranoia that they’d bump into someone he knew and they’d be able to tell he’d skipped.

The sudden shock of cold fingers slipping into his big coat pocket to wrap around his hand startled him out of his stupor, made him meet Louis’ gaze.

“What’s going on, Louis?” he asked quietly, half wishing Louis wouldn’t hear therefore wouldn’t be able to tell Harry that he was breaking up with him. “Tell me everything’s all right.”

“I don’t know,” Louis said. They lapsed into silence again and just walked, Harry clutching at Louis’ hand as if it would make him stay forever.

It wasn’t until they made it to a children’s playground and sat down on the swings that Louis spoke again. Harry’s hand turned cold without Louis’ in it. “So, today we had this… like, a career advisor came to talk to us and stuff, you know? Talk us through the options and uni applications and A-levels and all that.”

Harry just nodded, waiting for Louis to explain.

“And,” Louis said, hands folded in his lap, his nose turning red from the cold, “it just hit me, you know. Because I’m going to uni and I tried not to think about it because it seems like it’s ages away, but it’s not. Not really. And I’ve always wanted to… I’ve always dreamed that I’d move to London one day, but… it’s so bloody far.” His exhale turned foggy in the air, chin dropping to his chest as he watched his foot kick at the ground.

“And I want to go, but then I don’t. Because… because you’re here. And I just,” he sucked in a shuddering breath and when he lifted his head, his mouth was a flat line with corners turned down, brows pulled together in that expression Harry knew meant Louis was trying hard not to cry, and that was… Harry didn’t even care what it meant for him, for them, right now. He stood up and wrapped his arms around Louis’ narrow shoulders to pull him against his chest, heart clenched tight when he felt Louis tremble and say, “I don’t know what to do.”

Harry bent over a bit so he could rest his cheek on the top of Louis’ head, Louis’ beanie tickling his skin. “Lou… I love you,” he closed his eyes, had to swallow hard, “but you need to do what’s best for you. Don’t… don’t just apply to a uni somewhere near just to stay closer to me. You should… you should apply to the one you want. It’s,” he breathed Louis in, tightened his arms, “it doesn’t mean it has to be over.”

Louis just nodded and when Harry pulled back Louis’ cheeks were damp. He pressed his lips to the papery skin under Louis’ reddened eyes and tasted salt. “If you want to go to London then that’s what I want too.”

“I’m scared,” Louis admitted. “I’m scared that everything’s going to change.”

“It will,” Harry said because he’d always vowed to be honest when it mattered. “That doesn’t mean it’s bad. Change is good. Makes us grow, you know.”

“Stop being smart, I hate it.”

Harry laughed wetly and Louis pushed himself to his feet to hug him properly. They stood there, swaying from side to side, clutching at each other as if they’d never let go.

“Would you… do you think you’d want to come to London too? Once you graduate. I know how much you love your family and I don’t want to, like, make you… I just. Do you think you might want to?”

Harry hadn’t even thought about it that much yet, had kind of considered going to Oxford, maybe, but… there was a lot of good universities in London too. “You might change your mind. You might not want me there after a year is through.”

“I will,” Louis said, burying his face in Harry’s neck. “I will.”

“Then it’s a deal.”

Louis sagged into him, as if the burden he’d been shouldering all day had been finally lifted. “I probably won’t even get accepted anyway and all my dramatics will have been for nothing. That will be embarrassing, won’t it?”

“They’d be stupid not to accept you, Lou. I know they will.”



“Am I selfish?”

Harry shook his head right away, rubbing Louis’ back up and down because he knew it always soothed him. “Why would you say that?”

“Because… like, money’s tight. And I’d be leaving Mum here all on her own and that’s just a really shitty thing to do, isn’t it? Like, she’ll tell me to go, because she hates to admit she needs help, but I’ll know.”

“Lou, you’re not selfish. And I know you feel responsible to be here and help, but your Mum can handle it. She’s been taking care of you all for years, even before you were old enough to really help out. And she’s got Lottie and Fizz too. They’ll be old enough to babysit the twins when you’re not… when you’re not here. And I can help too.”

“Harry, no—”

“I wasn’t asking you,” Harry said, pinching Louis’ bum to ease it somehow, to make the stone sitting on his chest a little bit lighter. “I love your sisters and I love Jay. I’d visit them all the time anyway.”

“I don’t deserve you.”

“Yeah, well,” Harry said lightly, pulling back to kiss Louis, soft and sweet, “too bad. You’ve got me.”

Louis rose up on his tiptoes to slot their mouths together more firmly, moved his lips over Harry’s until his skin turned hot.

“I’ve got you,” Louis said once they parted, and Harry decided not to think about it too much. They had a little over seven months to go and Harry intended to spend them all loving Louis the best he could. The rest could wait.


Chapter Text

“Can you wait for one minute, Lou?” Harry bit down on his laugh and squirmed away from Louis’ hands. He was relentless.

“But you look really good.” Nimble fingers untucked Harry’s shirt from his trousers and snuck under to touch the bare skin of his lower back. The fact that they were sitting on Louis’ bed wasn’t helping Harry’s morale. Well, Louis was lying down, which made it even worse.

Pretty sure he wouldn’t be able to turn Louis away verbally without following it with “actually touch me more, pretty please”, he glanced down and levelled Louis with his best stern expression. He’d been practising. Ever since they’d talked about the future Louis had been extra clingy, handsy and eager and attached to Harry’s hip as if he was trying to save up touches for all the moments they’d have to go without.

“I look the same I do every day,” Harry remarked and tried to focus on the last problem of his homework as Louis stroked up his spine. It sent a hot flush down to his fingertips. He gripped his pen harder and read the problem for the fifth time in a row.

“Well, yes. You always look really good. All proper-like. Makes me want to do unspeakable things to you.” With his arm wrapped around Harry’s belly, Louis scooted in close and nuzzled the little bit of softness above Harry’s hips that wouldn’t go away no matter how many sit-ups he did per day. Maybe it was okay though. Louis loved every part of him.

“Lou,” he whined, because all his blood rushing south of the border wasn’t helping him think about the velocity of a flowerpot falling from the sixth floor of a building. When they’d talked about abstaining in Sex-Ed Harry was pretty sure they’d never met Louis.

“Why do you always smell so good?”

“Because,” Harry’s eyes fluttered shut the second Louis lifted up his shirt and pressed his lips to the dimples above his bum. Louis was a vixen and Harry was so bloody helpless, “Because I shower?”

“I want to lick you all over.”


“Is that a yes?” Louis sounded way too smug for Harry’s peace of mind, so he said, “No. I… I need to finish this.”

“Nobody said you couldn’t multitask.”

When he was suddenly hauled to his knees and dragged off the bed, he squawked and grabbed onto his book at the last second. Maybe having the judge-y middle-aged woman glaring at him from the cover would help sort his boner out.

“Sit,” Louis said, one eyebrow raised expectantly as he gestured at his desk chair.

Harry did so without questioning Louis’ motives. He’d long ago learned it was often fruitless to even guess.

“Now do your homework.”

“Oh-kay?” Harry just shook his head and put his book down on the desk. Louis handed him his notes, a handful of blank papers and his pen, then dropped down to his knees.

“Louis, what are you—”

“Shh,” Louis swivelled Harry around until he could wriggle past Harry’s legs beneath the desk. For a second Harry was honestly dumbfounded. That was, until Louis grabbed his knees to swivel him back into place and spread his thighs, breath hitting Harry’s crotch.

“Oh my God, Louis—”

“I won’t let you come until you finish your homework.”

Either the room turned really humid all of a sudden or his glasses had just fogged up a little. “How am I supposed to—”

“No more talking. Get to work.”

Harry adjusted the papers with shaky hands, trying to focus on the textbook as Louis dragged his zipper down and nosed at length of his cock through his pants.

“Fuck,” he muttered, pressing the tip of the pen down on the paper as he wrote down the basics of the problem. The weight of the flowerpot was five kilograms and the angle and velocity of the wind were—

“Ah, Lou!” Louis had yanked Harry’s pants and trousers below his bum and was swallowing him down without any preamble, mouth hot and slick. The way Louis hummed almost made him drop his pen.

Louis started to move then, head bobbing up and down, tongue flicking and rubbing over the underside of Harry’s cock on every upstroke, the suction of it so fucking excruciating Harry’s vision was blurring at the edges, heart pounding against his ribcage.

The problem though. Right. He had to… shit. The height of each level was three metres… discounting the, the-um. First floor. Which was four metres and… Louis was sucking as if his life depended on it, clearly not going for teasing as he scratched his nails up Harry’s quaking thighs.

His handwriting was so shaky he wasn’t sure he would be able to read it an hour from now, but he tried. He really bloody did, even though he had to bite down on his lip so hard he was about to break skin and it took him five times longer than usual to get halfway through the problem.

Louis pulled off, his hot breath hitting Harry’s too sensitive head. He was dripping. “How are you doing?”

Harry chewed on the cap of his pen. “Halfway done.”

Louis’ hand twisted around Harry’s base, stroking up and down in tight, fast strokes. One of the unused spare papers crinkled up in Harry’s fist.

“Good boy,” Louis said and licked over Harry’s length. “Tap my cheek when you’re done.”

With that, he sucked Harry back down until he was hitting the back of Louis’ throat. Harry was pretty sure his brain was about to leak out of his ears.

It took him about ten minutes. Ten awful, eye-watering minutes to get the solution. When he checked and saw he’d got it right, he almost cried with relief. He immediately dropped the pen and reached under the desk to caress Louis’ cheek.

He pulled off, sucking in gulps of air as he asked, “Done?”

“Yeah, yeah, please—”

“I’ve got you, love.” His voice was raspy and it was so clear what he’d been doing for the past fifteen minutes that it only took Louis hollowing his cheeks on the upstroke twice before Harry was carding his fingers through Louis’ hair and squeezing his eyes shut as he spurted into Louis’ mouth.

Once Louis guided his extremely useless, floppy self back on the bed, he refused Harry’s insistence to help him out, saying, “Mum’s back soon, so… better not.”

Probably a good thing, because Jay came in to check on them about five minutes later, eyeing them suspiciously as she told them she’d start in on dinner soon. Harry thanked her but said he’d have to go home soon anyway.

When the door closed, Harry buried his flaming face in Louis’ neck. “I’m pretty sure she knows what we got up to.”

“I mean,” Louis said, his voice still breathy, jagged, “the important thing here is to remember that she didn’t catch us this time.”

“Oh God.”

Louis’ fingers combed through his hair. It had the uncanny effect of turning Harry’s brain into mush, which was not good, because he had things on his mind. Important things. “Lou?”

“Yes, love?”

“Should we talk about,” he lifted his head, kissed the edge of Louis’ jaw to ease him into it, “how… worried you are? You know I’m not going anywhere and neither are you right now. Not yet.”

“I’m not worried, exactly, I just,” he sighed, walked his fingers down Harry’s spine, “I feel like I don’t get to see you enough, with the school and footie and chores and stuff. I just don’t want to waste any time.”

“It will be okay, Lou. I promise.”

Louis said nothing, just picked up Harry’s hand and tucked it under his chin. Harry had a feeling he hadn’t convinced him at all.



She didn’t glance up from where she was fixing a leaky faucet but he knew she was listening.

“How do you know you want to spend the rest of your life with someone?”

She brushed aside a stray piece of hair that had fallen out of her messy bun with the back of her hand and smiled. “Is this about Louis then?”

“No,” Harry said, deadpan, arms folded over the kitchen counter, “this is about my new boyfriend, Ahmed. Just moved here from Manchester. He likes fish and extreme bungee jumping.”

“Well then. I’d have to meet this young fella to be able to answer you, pumpkin. Have to see if he’s good enough for my baby first.”

“Mu-um,” Harry whined, dropping his chin on top of his folded arms. “Aren’t you going to tell me I’m too young to know?”

“Is that what you want me to say?” She glanced over her shoulder, clearly not taking the bait.

“Isn’t that what all the mums say?”

There were more clanking noises before she answered him. “Well, I reckon most do, but they don’t have a son as brilliant as I do, so I can’t speak for them. I’ve always trusted your judgement,” she said, smiling. “I don’t think age has anything to do with love, so I’m not about to tell you you’re too young to know what it is. That’s a bit ignorant, innit? And I’m not exactly an expert on this, as you know, but… as long as you’re growing together instead of growing apart, you can make it work. It is hard work though, relationships. But if it’s right, you know. And that makes the hard work worth it.”

“It feels easy with Louis,” he said quietly, watching as she changed a little rubber band and started screwing the faucet back on. “Like all the hard things are okay if I get to keep him.”

“Is this about him going off after graduation?”


“Oh, love.” She straightened up and set the wrench down by the sink. “Have you talked about it?”

“Yeah,” he said, watching as she turned the water back on. The faucet was no longer dripping. “He doesn’t want us to break up. He… he wants me to come to London too. Next year.”

“Is that what you want too?”

“I think so. I mean, I do. Of course I do. I’m just scared that things will change in a year, in a bad way. What if he doesn’t feel the same anymore?”

Mum walked up to him, dropping a kiss to the top of his head. “I’m not saying that’s not possible, but… He’s as crazy for you as you are for him. And I’m not going to lie to you and say it’s going to be easy, because it’s not. You’ll miss each other an awful lot and not getting to see each other will be tough, but… if you want it to work and are willing to do it as a team, it will.”

“Yeah, as a team,” he echoed when a balled up hand towel suddenly smacked into his chest.

“Now stop being such a worrywart and go tell Geoff to put laundry in the dryer.”


Harry had never liked making his birthday a spectacle. He didn’t like spectacles in general, and if he’d been told beforehand that Liam was going to invite Zayn and Niall over for an impromptu birthday party, he’d have said no. He was glad that he hadn’t got the chance to though. They didn’t make him feel awkward, didn’t edge him out the way he was used to. They’d just brought snacks and gave him hugs, acting as if they’d been friends for years.

That was how he ended up wedged in between Zayn and Liam on the living room sofa as they played a bloodthirsty round of Fifa, he and Louis against Zayn and Niall. Harry had always been really competitive, but with Louis on his team, they both got ten times worse.

“We are the dream team!” Louis yelled and leaped out of his spot on the floor to dive on top of their laps, the controller abandoned by the chipped leg of the coffee table.

“Stop gloating,” Zayn groaned, wincing because Louis had jabbed him in the side with his elbow.

“You’re just jealous of me and Haz here. We’re unbeatable.”

“He looks so harmless too, doesn’t he?” Niall grinned, reaching over Zayn to ruffle Harry’s out-of-control hair. Since he hadn’t known they’d have company, he hadn’t bothered to tame it. He had a feeling Louis didn’t mind, if his constant petting and tugging was anything to go by.

“That’s how I deceive people before I strike,” Harry said, mouth stretching into a wide smile because Louis had decided to reach out and run his fingertips down Harry’s face.

“He’s so vicious. My baby,” Louis said with a proud sigh and wriggled around to get more comfortable. His bum planted in Harry’s lap wasn’t really helping anything.

“They are so cute,” Niall said.

“They just beat us. Where is your loyalty, bro?” Zayn asked, shaking his head.

Niall just shrugged and stuffed his mouth full of crisps.

“Tommo, would you stop fidgeting? You’re digging into my legs,” Liam complained, hand wrapped around Louis’ ankle. Harry really wanted to kiss those ankles. Before anyone could read that on his face, he looked away and tried not to blush.

“Well, you’re not exactly comfy, are you?” Louis replied. Harry was sure he was the only one who noticed the little hitch in Louis’ breath when he laid his palm on Louis’ belly, right where his T-shirt rode up. His skin was warm to the touch, goosebumps rising to meet Harry’s palm.

“How about we get a rematch? Me and Zayn against you and Harry here?”

“Is that okay, Niall?” Harry asked, just to be sure. He never wanted anyone to feel left out.

“Yeah, of course, mate,” Niall smiled. “Gives me a head start on the snacks.”

He and Louis managed to win again, and somehow Harry found himself tackled and pulled down to the floor, tangled up in a five-person puppy pile. He had no idea whose limbs belonged to whom and his face was squashed into someone’s armpit that luckily smelled of deodorant, and he couldn’t stop laughing.

“You doing okay, boys?” an amused voice asked that Harry recognised as Mum’s. He saw her slippered feet approach and almost got smacked in the face during Niall’s frantic dash to untangle himself. He jumped to his feet, and even upside down Harry could tell Niall’s cheeks were blotchy red.

“Yeah, Mrs. Styles. Payne, I mean. We’re brilliant,” he stammered out, a slightly manic grin on his face. Harry frowned.

“All right then. Anyone wants to help me with the drinks?”

“I will!” Niall offered, way too enthusiastic to be entirely selfless, and trailed after her like a puppy.

“He’s totally crushing on your mum, Harry,” Louis said, chuckling.

They managed to separate without any further bodily harm. “No, he’s not,” Harry said, definitely weirded out.

“Well, I mean, your mum is fit.”

Harry’s jaw dropped open. That smack he dealt to Louis’ bum as he got up to his knees was definitely well deserved. “Don’t be gross.”

“You look like her, love. Of course I’m going to think she’s beautiful.” Louis leaned down to press a sloppy kiss to Harry’s burning cheek. Damn Louis for knowing just the right way to mollify him.

“I agree with Harry,” Liam said, looking just as put out.

“Thank you, Liam.”

When Liam nodded his head at him in quiet understanding, Harry realised that was probably the most brotherly he’d ever felt towards Liam since they’d moved in together. And even though they hadn’t done anything extraordinary, this might have been the best birthday he’d ever had.


“Lou,” he said, because yeah, this was officially the best birthday ever. He’d get it printed out and framed and hang it on his wall to commemorate the occasion when a gift made him so flustered he kind of wanted to dive beneath his bed, a little. Very convenient too, since they were sitting on it.

“Oh, come on, love, don’t give me that look. I don’t deserve it,” Louis poked at Harry’s knee, folding his jittery fingers into the crease of Harry’s joggers. His knuckles bumped into Harry’s calf, familiar and comforting, every touch as exciting as it had been months ago. “This is probably the lamest thing you’ve ever gotten.”

“The lam—” he cut off, clutching the little journal to his chest, affronted and indignant and very much defensive of the Best Gift Ever. “Take that back or no intercourse for you.”

Louis burst out laughing and bent over at the waist, the puffs of his sharp exhales warm over Harry’s already too hot heart, spurring him to smile too. “God, Harry, I love your brain so much.”

“Well, I am my brain,” Harry acquiesced and thumbed over the dull leather bound corner of the journal he’d treasure for the rest of his life. “You’re such a sap, Louis, you know that?”

Louis’ hand unfolded and latched onto the collar of Harry’s T-shirt, pulling until his collarbones slipped free, skin bare and vulnerable for Louis to bite and taste. “Don’t tell anyone,” he whispered, his words hot and shivery over Harry’s damp skin, the echo of Louis’ teeth etched into his bones.

“I would never,” Harry said, couldn’t believe Louis had filled pages upon pages with pictures of Harry, of them together, all the blanks in between overflowing with Louis’ thoughts. Harry wanted to open it up and pour over each word carefully, as carefully as he did when he learned Louis’ skin with his lips.

“I just want you to remember everything,” Louis said, words muffled in the crook of Harry’s neck. He put the journal aside, hands hungry and impatient as he tugged Louis close, helped Louis settle into his lap until there wasn’t an inch to spare.

“I think… I think that even if I had my memories wiped clean I’d still remember you.”

“I knew we shouldn’t have watched that flick,” Louis teased, his nose knocking into Harry’s, his damp, smiling lips grazing the corner of Harry’s mouth. Harry knew that if he kissed him deep, Louis would taste like the orange sucker he’d stolen from the kitchen drawer. “Was a bit sad, wasn’t it?”

“I liked it,” Harry said, because Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was a cinematic masterpiece, and Harry knew he was right. That he could never forget, because Louis wasn’t a memory to be wiped clean or a page in a book that would fade into illegible lines with time. He was a part of Harry, woven into the very fabric of him, and no matter what happened in a year, Harry knew he’d always be there, just as sharp and present as he was now sitting on Harry’s lap, warm and alive beneath Harry’s fingertips. “What did you write about?”

“Just stupid things, thoughts, as I said.”

Harry slid his hands up Louis’ sides, fit them in the gentle curve of Louis’ narrow waist, Louis’ T-shirt bunching around his wrists. “Read me something?”

Louis bit at Harry’s bottom lip, pulled then released it with a sigh that reverberated all throughout Harry’s fingertips down to his bones. “But I’ll be so embarrassed. I can’t.”

“Just a teensy, tiny bit? A sentence? Please?”

Louis narrowed his eyes at Harry’s pleading expression, stubborn but slowly relenting. “Fine. One sentence, buddy. Just one.”

“Just one,” Harry nodded, lips quirking up because he’d got his way, “Pal.”

Louis snorted and reached for the book, the arch of his golden neck right there like an offering. Harry kissed over the smooth skin, smiled when he felt the pleased little hum tremble on the tip of Louis’ tongue.

Louis straightened up again, shoved the open book between their chests and propped it against Harry. “May I?” he asked with a self-important sniff and borrowed Harry’s glasses. They looked way too big, so out of place on his delicate features that Harry had to bite back a wide grin. Louis peered at the open pages above the rim of the glasses slipping low on his nose, always the joker, even though his finger shook just a little as he jabbed it against the picture. He read, “Remember this day, love?” then tapped Harry’s nose. “One sentence, there you go.”

“But Lou—”

“You agreed.”

Harry wasn’t above pouting. All was fair in love and war, wasn’t that what people said? “But it’s my birthday.”

The glance Louis shot him was definitely not impressed, but he breathed out a long-suffering sigh and said, “You’re lucky you’re cute.”

Harry just blinked at him, content.

“The first picture we ever took,” Louis continued, “I had to threaten to tie you down to your chair to even get you in the frame.”

Harry giggled, eyes downcast as Louis stroked down the side of his face, settled his hand on Harry’s shoulder, jittery fingers playing with his sleeve. “You said you’d look like a knob because your hair was still damp from the shower and you had nothing but Anne’s silky bathrobe on. Think that was the first and only time I ever found pink flamingos bloody sexy.”

Harry had to laugh openly now, flushed warm to his marrow, hands squeezing Louis’ hips. “You did not.”

Louis looked up, his face the very picture of indignation. “I bloody well did. Really showed off your knees and cleavage. Very into it.” He dropped his gaze again, wriggled around. “Now shush. I haven’t finished.”

“Thought you didn’t want to.”

“Shush,” Louis said, finger pressed to Harry’s lips. “Where was I? Flamingos, yes. Even though it didn’t, I pretended the picture came out blurry the first time so I’d get you close to me again. You smelled sweet and a bit minty, so can you really blame me? I think that if… that if anyone asked me what love smelled like, I’d tell them that. Sweet, like you.” Louis pushed the journal aside, cheeks dusted with pink. “Told you it was embarrassing.”

“I love you,” Harry said, verging on upset because those three words didn’t seem like enough. Didn’t convey the way scorching warmth swelled up within his ribcage, sparks of fire shooting out through his veins. How invincible it made him feel whenever Louis smiled.

Squirming and red-cheeked, Louis wrapped his arms around Harry’s neck, lips soft and barely there when he kissed him. “Can you come back to mine?”

Harry chased after him, lips slotting, fitting, finally locking together, the little scrape of Louis’ stubble itching his skin. “Why?”

“Want to make love to you,” Louis whispered, arms tightening.

“Isn’t your… what about your mum?”

“She goes to bed early, sleeps like the dead and her room’s downstairs anyway. The girls are with Da—with Mark.”

“Yeah, yes. Okay.” He nuzzled Louis’ temple, sweeping a comforting touch down Louis’ spine. “I’ll just… tell mum.”

When they finally managed to part and walk down to the living room, limbs leaden with want, Anne just gave them a knowing look and waved them off.

It was freezing out, the damp kind of cold that needled into flesh and drifted over bones but Harry barely felt it. Louis’ arm was firm around his waist, other one stuck in the front pocket of his jeans and nose tucked into Harry’ neck as they stumbled down the darkened street, snow crunching beneath their hurrying feet.

They stepped inside the house, shaking off the cold. The hinges of the front door creaked a little as Louis closed it, and as eager fingers started unbuttoning coats, a pyjama-clad Jay appeared in the alcove leading into the kitchen.

Harry blushed on autopilot, grateful that she couldn’t read his mind as she greeted them with a bleary smile, sipping from her cup. She always drank from this one even though it was lumpy and the handle was too big. She’d told Harry that it was her favourite because Louis had made it for her in Year 9.

“Can Harry stay over, Mum?” Louis asked, bounding towards her to smack a kiss on her forehead. She patted his cheek and smiled at Harry over Louis’ shoulder as she said, “Of course, love. Just don’t be too noisy, yeah? I’ll be going to bed in a bit.”

Harry almost choked, hoped she meant noisy like ‘don’t get too rowdy playing Monopoly’ rather than ‘try to keep the sex noises down’.

“We’ll be quiet as mice,” Louis promised, to which Harry nodded, very serious about his promise.

“Come on then, love,” she told Harry, arching an expectant eyebrow. “Come give me a kiss.”

Harry shuffled over to them, flushed and smiling as he kissed Jay’s cheek. She smelled like lavender and fabric softener and so much like a mum. Harry was glad Louis had someone like her in his life, especially since he barely saw Mark anymore. “Mum says hi.”

“Tell her ‘thank you’, and to get her bum over here next weekend so we can hang out.”

“So you can gossip, you mean,” Louis said, dancing out of Jay’s reach when she tried to pinch his bum.

“Yes, as a matter of fact. Now go, you two. And if I hear a peep out of you when I’m trying to sleep, I’m sending you over to Anne to deal with.”

“We’ll be very good,” Harry promised, deciding that he wasn’t exactly lying because he just wanted to lay Louis down and worship every inch of his flesh. That definitely counted as good.

“I’ll bet,” she said with a little flick of her eyebrow Harry saw Louis use more than once and tried not to blush out of guilt. “Good night, and don’t be up too late.”

“I can’t promise you that,” Louis said, laughing at Jay’s fondly exasperated expression. He grabbed Harry’s hand and pulled him along, pushed him into his bedroom and left him there with a kiss and a, “going to use bathroom real quick, yeah? Be back in a jiff,” thrown over his shoulder.

Louis’ ‘quick’ turned into fifteen minutes, but Harry didn’t mind. He was very much used to it by now.

When Louis came padding in, smelling like soap, his mouth met Harry’s before he could a get a word in. Louis pulled him up from the chair and pushed him against the wall and there was something almost frantic about the way Louis kissed him now. All tongue and sharp teeth and hungry mouth.

“Lou, Louis, not yet.”

“I’m not going to shag you against the wall, babe. Just wanted a kiss.”

Harry blinked, lips still puckered and tingly. Good thing he’d taken his glasses off.

“I mean, I could definitely hold you up if that’s what you want,” Louis suggested, but there was a lingering question mark in his voice and his lashes swept over his cheeks, eyes downcast as he struggled to steady his breathing.

Harry cradled the back of Louis’ neck, pulled him in until their exhales mingled, because no. That wasn’t what he wanted. Not right now. “How long before your mum goes to bed, do you think?”

“About half an hour, tops. Probably less.”

“Half an hour,” Harry echoed, struggling not to get too dramatic about it and not quite succeeding.

“We could snog. All innocent-like.” Louis stroked Harry’s back under his T-shirt, lips nudging into Harry’s until he opened up and let Louis in, the tip of his tongue hot and slick as it licked over the roof of his mouth.

Harry suckled at it, following Louis blindly towards the bed and tripping over a mound of clothes discarded on the floor. He laughed into Louis’ mouth, knees knocking together as they came to a halt and Louis let himself fall back on the mattress with a bounce and a smirk that felt… off, somehow. Didn’t make his eyes crinkle.


“Come here,” Louis beckoned quietly, shuffling higher up on the mattress, legs bent and spread for Harry to fall in between. So he did. Knelt up carefully, watching Louis’ face as he ran his palms up Louis’ thighs and thumbed over the sharp jut of his hipbones.

“Too far,” Louis complained, hooking his leg around Harry’s thigh, “can hardly kiss you like this, can I?”

When Harry picked up Louis’ hand to bring it to his lips, he realised with a shock that Louis’ palm was clammy. He kissed Louis’ knuckles one by one, wouldn’t let him pull his hand away.

“Sorry,” Louis said, staring up at the ceiling, avoiding Harry’s eyes.

“What’s wrong?”

Louis swallowed hard, the tips of his ears turning red when he finally said, “’M nervous.”

It was a struggle to stay out of Louis’ personal space on the best of days, but when he lay there like this, jaw clenched and jittery fingers tugging down the bottom of his T-shirt, Harry knew he’d already lost the battle. He lay down slowly, propped himself up on his elbows to keep most of his weight off Louis and nuzzled his hot-to-touch cheek. “Why?”

Louis’s shoulder rolled up in a small shrug, his breath stuttering. “I just… I wanted… oh, for fuck’s sake.”

Harry could feel frustration rolling off Louis in waves, felt his body all locked up and tense and vibrating with barely contained energy.

“My pocket, my front pocket,” Louis said, bucking his hips, “I’ve got…” he delved between them, his knuckles bumping into Harry’s hip as he withdrew a small paper square.

Harry recognised it immediately even though the picture on the front was faded and crinkled up, very vividly recalled giving it to Louis over a month ago.

“Lou?” He lifted himself off, sat back up and caressed Louis’ knees as he did the same, shoving the Christmas card into Harry’s chest without a word.

He took it, fingers lingering around Louis’ before he smoothed the paper out and read Louis’ words scratched onto the dotted line at the bottom. Something hot and volatile curled up in his belly, like a wildfire he wasn’t sure he knew how to control.

“Do you really want to?”

Louis gave a jerky nod, nostrils flaring as he pulled in a sharp breath. As much as he couldn’t look Harry in the eye minutes ago, he now couldn’t stop.

“You don’t have to be nervous, you know. I’ll… I always want to make you feel good.”

“I know, I know,” Louis said, chin dropping to his chest, shoulders slumped as he picked at the non-existent lint on Harry’s joggers. “I just… I’ve only ever bottomed once, all right? And it sucked. I didn’t like it at all—”

“Louis, if you don’t want to do this, we don’t have to—”

“But I do!” Louis’ breath quickened and he looked small, smaller than Harry had ever seen him, open and vulnerable yet still holding his cards close to his chest. “I want to try again, with you. I trust you.”

Somehow, in this moment, it meant even more than I love you. Because Louis rarely let anyone wriggle under his skin, rarely ever let anyone see anything but the surface he’d created himself, because it meant he was in control. And now he was sharing it with Harry.

“You can,” Harry said, swaying forward so he could rest his forehead against Louis’, “You can trust me.”

“I know,” Louis said, arms sneaking around Harry’s neck to hold him close.

“Will you let me, like, kiss you? All over? I’ve been wanting to do that for ages.”

Louis breathed out a laugh, the last of the tension flowing out with it. “Yeah, yeah, of course.”

“And you can be on top, you know. If you want. Like—”

“Ride you?” Louis asked, cheeks flushed. “Fuck, yes. Okay.”

Their T-shirts ended up on the floor, and it was a testament to what a bad influence Louis was because Harry barely felt the urge to go pick them up and fold them over a chair. “God, Louis, I’ve missed you. Missed taking our time.”

“Well, don’t take too much time,” Louis said, already shoving Harry’s joggers and pants under his bum while Harry got too busy kissing up the length of Louis’ arched throat. His blood was pounding away beneath his skin like a drum.

“You’re so bossy.”

“If you don’t get naked in ten seconds I will pinch your balls.”

Louis’ teeth sank into Harry’s bottom lip, nibbling and play biting until Harry was giggling and their teeth clacked, hands running over every inch of newly bared skin, igniting flames.

“Isn’t that a thing though?” Harry asked, pushing Louis onto his back and pulling his boxers off and getting rid of his own. He set them down on the bed, because he hadn’t quite achieved Louis’ level of messiness yet. “Ball pinching?”

“Oh, you think you’d like the pain, love?” Louis drawled, lifting his eyebrow, a smartass even though he was flushed pink down to his chest and couldn’t stop squirming when Harry swept down to lick his throat. He felt like an animal, licking salt off Louis’ shivering skin, hands running down Louis’ sides possessively.

“Don’t know. Might.”

“And do you,” Louis knotted his hand in Harry’s hair, “do you like… this? Do you want it like this?”

“Yes,” he said, because he did. He did want to. Wanted to know what it felt like, wanted to see Louis stripped down to his bones just for him. “Doesn’t matter how we do it. If you want to do it just this once or once a year or switch all the time. I just want to be close to you.”

“I think I’d still like being on top better, but… sometimes, yeah? When I’m… just sometimes.”

“I might be really great though,” Harry said, grinning, his bare teeth grazing Louis’ collarbones. “Might blow your mind.”

“I mean… you pretty much suck my brains out through my cock on the regular, so—”

“Oh my God,” Harry laughed, running his fingertips over Louis’ ribs until he squawked and tried to wriggle away. He’d never admit to being ticklish, but Harry knew better.

“Stop it, you fiend.” Louis smacked his hand down on Harry’s bum. Amazing how quickly his laugh could turn into a moan. How the little spark of pain sent a trail of fire skidding over his skin. “Wow, you liked that, huh?”

Harry licked over Louis’ nipple to distract him, just gentle little flicks of his tongue because he knew how sensitive Louis could get.

“Can I tie you up?” Louis asked, grabbing a handful of Harry’s ass and pushing him down, the tip of his cock smearing wet on Louis’ belly. “When I ride you?”

“Fuck, Lou, yes.”

“You’re a filthy, filthy boy, aren’t you?”

Harry just nodded, breath stuck in his chest. Louis’ skin was like melted sugar, smooth and warm and sweet as he skimmed over it with his mouth, tongue licking out, greedy for a taste. Despite Louis’ constant wriggling and the occasional tug on Harry’s hair to hurry him along, he kept it slow, wanted to drink Louis in like a cup of ambrosia after a drought.

“Still a bit nervous?” he asked, tipping his chin so he could meet Louis’ gaze, Louis’ not-fully-hard cock jerking against the line of his throat.

“A bit,” Louis admitted, belly quivering under Harry’s teasing mouth, his free hand drifting over his own nipple as if in afterthought.

“Do you think… can I lick your bum?”

Louis’ jaw dropped open, his fingers spasming in Harry’s hair. He had to close his eyes, because it felt good. Too good. He wanted this to last. “Lou, don’t or I’ll…”

“Sorry, I just,” Louis cleared his throat, thighs clamping around Harry’s shoulders, “surprised me.”

“Can I?” Harry repeated, already drifting lower, leaving open-mouthed, lingering kisses down Louis’ length. The pulse there beat against his lips, smooth skin stretched over hard flesh. Yeah, Louis wanted him to.

“But, like… stop if you don’t like it. Okay?”


He gently curled his hands around Louis’ thighs and lifted them up on his shoulders, waited silently as Louis wedged a pillow under his bum. “For a better access, yeah?” he said, eyes glinting with mischief.

“How very kind of you,” Harry teased, trying his best to ignore how nervous he was, how unsteady, afraid he’d do it wrong.

He kissed Louis’ taint, his skin smelling clean and soapy and, “Oh.”

“Yes?” Louis questioned, fisting the sheets with both hands now, thighs shaking.

“Is that why… you know. You were in the shower for so long? You smell really nice. Down here.” He buried his blushing face in Louis’ inner thigh, sneaking a kiss.

“Yeah, I’m… um, best be prepared, innit?”

Harry groaned and gripped Louis’ thighs, fingertips digging into the muscle as he bit and sucked a bruise high into Louis’ flesh.

“You’re such a… bloody tease.”

“You like it,” Harry whispered, kissing his way between Louis’ spread legs, tongue licking out to brush over his rim. He kept licking and licking, broad strokes and little flicks, listening to Louis’ harsh breaths and little keening noises half-strangled in his throat, hands clenching and unclenching in the sheets. It was nothing compared to Louis’ full body spasm and the moan tumbling out of his open mouth when Harry finally pushed his tongue inside. And Harry wasn’t sure if he’d like this, was prepared to let it go and apologise to Louis by giving him a blowjob, but. He liked it. Lost himself in it, in the way Louis couldn’t stop moving, sweat slinking down his chest, how loud he was, even though he tried to muffle the sounds with a pillow.

“Harry, fuck, I’m… stop.”

Harry groaned, pushed his tongue in deep one more time before he withdrew, panting, so hard a single touch would probably shove him off the edge.

“Too close,” Louis breathed, voice wrecked from all the sounds he’d tried his best to hold back. “Need you to… open me up. Want you in me.”

And it was really fucking embarrassing, but Harry figured he’d better tell Louis now than later. “Lou, I won’t last. ‘M too worked up.”

“Getting off on getting me off, eh?” Louis struggled up to his knees, teetering a little so Harry steadied him with a hand on his waist, kissing him soft and sweet.

“I’ve got,” Louis said once they parted, the slick sound of it not helping Harry out at all, “a cock ring. Do you think you might—”

“Yeah, yes. Please.”

Once Louis put it on him, he felt better. A bit less helpless. And even though the pressure, the inability to come, made his head grow fuzzy, he was coherent enough to stretch Louis open. Work his fingers in one by one as slowly as he needed to and beyond, because hurting Louis was not even a choice.

“Harry, Haz, please, I’m ready—”

“Just a bit more,” he insisted, watching three of his fingers move in and out, twisting them in deep, lube dripping down his knuckles and pooling on the sheets under Louis’ bum.


He scissored them, felt a bit like he was filled with cotton candy.

Louis kicked at his shoulder lightly, brows pulled together, flushed all over. “In me. Now.”

Harry whined and pulled his fingers out, let Louis wrestle him onto his back, light fingertips gliding down Harry’s stretched out arms. “Are you sure you want me to tie you up?”

“Yes,” he said, his cock so hard it was making his brain fuzzy, his toes tingling.

Louis skimmed his blunt nails up Harry’s length, thumb rubbing over the leaking slit. Harry felt like he wanted to come but couldn’t.

With each hand Louis tied to his headboard with braces that he hadn’t worn since last year, Harry could himself sink deeper and deeper into cushiony warmth.

Louis fit his finger between braces and skin, asking, “Not too tight?”

“No,” Harry managed, blinking up at Louis and wondering if he was even real. If this was something he’d dreamt up. “Perfect.”

“Good boy,” Louis said, straddling Harry’s still hips. He felt like all the blood had pooled in his cock, pulsing and pounding there over and over. He’d never been harder in his life.

That was until Louis slickened him with lube, fingers not even meeting around Harry’s girth. “Lou, Louis… condom.”

“Want it… want it without. I mean, we’re both clean. Is that okay?”

Was that okay? If it wasn’t for the pressure around his base, he’d have been done in. “Yes. Very okay. Please.”

Louis hovered above him, Harry’s tip pressing into Louis slowly, so slowly Harry was sure it would take hours and he’d happily spend every minute on the brink, just waiting.

“Fuck, you’re… big,” Louis said on a long exhale, wriggling his hips from side to side, tongue licking over his lips as he sank lower.

Harry opened his mouth, sure he wanted to say something, something like I love you and you’re so beautiful, but he could only shape the words, no sound coming out. It didn’t need to, maybe, because Louis caught his gaze, his face soft and open and deliriously beautiful as the tip finally popped past the loosened up ring of the muscle. They both moaned, shaking as Louis sank down, his thighs resting on top of Harry’s. And he was hot, scorching and pulsing and wet like liquid fire that made Harry’s brain sizzle out.

He clenched his hands around the bars of the headboard, almost wishing he could rest them on Louis’ thighs so he could feel the muscles work under his palms as Louis lifted up only to drop back down. Almost, but not quite, because being at Louis’ mercy like this beat anything else. The friction made Harry suck in desperate breaths, hips bucking up to meet Louis halfway. He felt helpless, swept over like a grain of sand as pleasure washed over him in waves and dragged him under, Louis’ hands splayed over his belly as he ground his hips.

Louis’ lids fluttered shut, brows pulled in as he pumped his hips faster, fingers curling into Harry’s belly.

“Lou,” he rasped, half delirious at the sight of Louis bouncing on his cock, precome dribbling down his hard length.

Opening his eyes seemed like a struggle but Louis managed, hands smoothing out to pet over Harry’s sweat-slick skin. “Yeah, baby?”

“Touch… touch yourself.”

Louis’ hips stuttered and he slumped over, bracing himself with his hand right by Harry’s upper arm, the fingers of the other dancing over his length, teasing.

“’M close,” Louis gasped out, fingers clamping around his girth like a vice now, rubbing over the tip, smoothing the slickness down the length.

Harry just whimpered because so was he, had been for what felt like ages, but he physically couldn’t.

It didn’t take long for Louis’ hips to start losing their rhythm, to get sloppy and desperate and raw, and Harry tried to rock up into him, make it better.

Louis’ thighs tightened around Harry’s hips and he slumped over completely, panting into Harry’s ear as he shot rope after rope of come, slicking up their bellies, trembling all over.

“Lou,” Harry whimpered, his vision blurring out at the tight, spasming heat of Louis’ flesh squeezing around his cock.

“Fuck, yeah, I’ll just,” Louis whispered, only-half coherent as he pumped his hips a few more times before kneeing up to let Harry slide out. Harry came the second Louis took the ring off and kissed over his open mouth, almost blacked out at the feel of Louis’ fingers squeezing the head, coaxing more and more out until he was streaked with white all the way up to his chin.

“Fuck,” he whimpered, muscles jerking against his will, little drops of come still pulsing out of the tip as Louis untied his hands and kissed over his wrists.

“I know,” Louis said, flopping down to curl into his side, both of them spent and dirty, damp with lube and sweat and come, limbs floppy.

“I’m lying in the wet spot,” Harry said and turned his face to the side. The second his eyes met Louis’, they both burst out laughing, noses knocking together as they shared oxygen, feeling high on happiness.

It took them over twenty minutes to regain the ability to even move and by the time they made it to the bathroom, they were both in a right disgusting state. It didn’t even bother Harry, because when Louis swatted his bare ass with a rolled up towel then washed his hair under the warm stream of the shower, Harry knew that Louis was the one he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.


Chapter Text

Winter bloomed into spring before Harry could blink. One second he was standing beneath a streetlamp with his face buried in Louis’ woollen scarf, kissing snowflakes off Louis’ eyelashes, and the next he was climbing out on the roof for the first time in months.

“You’ve been jittery all day,” Harry said, clutching a book to his chest as he settled down against the wall of the house.

Louis, who was straddling the windowsill, paused. “Have I?”

Harry cast the book aside, knowing he probably wouldn’t even open it. Not when Louis was finally sitting down next to him, a constellation of freckles dotting his nose and cheeks. Months ago, Harry would have stared longingly and tucked his hands under his thighs, blushing with how much he wanted to touch. He reached out now, ran his fingertips down Louis’ nose and bopped the tip of it, smiling when Louis crinkled his nose and caught Harry’s hand before he could pull away.

“Going to have to bite you for that,” Louis informed him, pretend-biting at Harry’s finger and making obscenely loud growling noises that startled a dog across the street.

“You’re mad.”

“I am a vampire,” Louis argued, joined hands falling to Harry’s lap as Louis scooted in close, lips skidding over Harry’s neck. “Want to bite you all the time.”

“You do bite me all the time,” Harry laughed, squirming at the feel of Louis licking over the curve of his throat, teeth grazing his pulse. He should never have told Louis how much he loved the sting of his teeth. Loved that little edge of pain.

“You’re a tasty treat.” Louis closed his mouth over Harry’s neck, hot and wet, and sucked, teeth pressing in, teetering on that good side of pain that made Harry’s breath turn laboured.

“Fuck, Lou.”

Louis kept sucking, fluttering eyelashes tickling Harry’s jaw and a hand squeezing his as if afraid to let go.

“Harry,” Louis finally said when he detached, a puff of his breath hitting Harry’s damp, sensitive skin, voice threadbare.

“Yeah?” He bumped his head into Louis’ and tried to calm his breath, hadn’t even realised he’d closed his eyes until Louis’ fingertips smoothed over his lids.

“I got a letter from Guildhall.”

Harry’s eyes snapped open, heart kicking up as if it wanted to break through his ribs. “What did it say?”

“I got shortlisted,” Louis said, eyes searching Harry’s face as if looking for a reaction that would tell Louis how to feel, and that was… Harry didn’t want that. In that moment, even if his bones felt heavy, he was so bloody proud. More than anything else in the world.

“Louis, Lou, I’m so proud.” He untangled their hands so he could cup Louis’ face and pull him into a kiss, soft, gentle, lips meeting and slotting together with careful pressure. “I’m so, so proud. Do you realise how amazing that is?”

“I might still not get in—”

“You will. You’ll get in,” Harry said with confidence because he’d always known the world would catch on eventually and realise that Louis was born to be on stage. And Harry remembered the day he’d helped Louis rehearse for his audition, remembered how his hands had shaken at the start, eyes flitting around the room, but then he’d pulled it together and just… Harry had been blown away with how good Louis was once he stopped pretending it was all a joke.

“Harry, I don’t… I’m scared. I don’t want to fail. I can’t afford to fail.”

“You won’t,” Harry whispered, pressing the words into Louis’ mouth, willing him to believe it, “But even if you don’t get in or you do and realise it’s not what you wanted, it won’t be a failure. I’ll still love you the same, no matter what. Even if you end up selling hot dogs at the Wembley stadium.”

Louis chuckled wetly and hid his face in Harry’s neck, hand curled into Harry’s hoodie. “Do you… have you thought about it? Do you think you might want to come to London too?”

“I’m, uh… I have. And I want to. I think I might apply to the Imperial College next year,” he paused, bit at a hangnail on his thumb. “And maybe… maybe Oxford, too.”

“You should,” Louis said quietly, hand slipping under fabric to touch warm skin, fingertips pressing in. “You know you don’t have to apply to London at all if it’s not what you—”

“I’m not. That’s not why I want to,” Harry promised, serious.

“Because we can do this, you know. I’ll wait five years for you, I don’t care. You’re it for me.”

And Harry wanted to say anything can happen in five years, but instead buried his face in Louis’ hair and said, “Even if we don’t… like, if something happens, I’d still want to apply there. They’ve got an amazing science and engineering courses, and I think… I think I would love that.”

“You’d be great at it. Fucking brilliant.”

“We’ll be okay, won’t we?” Harry asked, tried not to sound as if he was pleading with Louis to give him a promise neither of them knew he could keep, but failed.

Louis kissed him, palm resting over Harry’s belly, right over where butterflies took flight whenever Louis touched him. “We have to be.”


It hadn’t rained all week and the air was the unusual stuffy kind of hot, made Harry’s sweatshirt stick to his back and his brain muddy. Made him feel like this couldn’t possibly be the end of summer, because it had gone too fast and he wasn’t ready.

He buried his face in the crook of Louis’ neck, felt Louis’ fingers digging into his back as though he couldn’t bear the thought of letting go. He’d have to, eventually. The September sun beat down on their backs and the engine of Jay’s car was slowly humming in the background. Louis’ bags were all loaded up and Harry did not feel like he was losing a part of himself. He didn’t.

“It’s not forever, you know,” he whispered, for his own benefit as much as for Louis’. “Three and a half months and you’re back for the break. I won’t even notice.”

“I miss you already,” Louis said and hugged him tighter, so tight he could hardly draw a breath.

Harry had to laugh, because he didn’t want this to be sad. He didn’t want Louis to be sad, even though he wished it was storming so it wasn’t so obvious he was trying not to cry. “I’m right here. I’ll be here when you come back. And we’ll talk a lot. I’ll come visit you. It’s not like you’re going off to a war.”

“But I won’t be able to kiss you every day.”

Harry swallowed hard and breathed Louis in. He smelled like home. “Please tell me you’re excited. I just need,” he slipped his hand under Louis’ T-shirt to feel his skin, “I need to know you’ll be okay. That you want this.”

“I do, I really do. I just wish you were coming with me.” Louis pulled away just far enough to kiss him. His eyes were red. Harry pretended not to notice. Just wrapped his arms around Louis’ waist tight enough to lift him up on his toes as Louis’ warm, open mouth slotted to his, moving slowly and gently as though Louis was trying to memorise every contour of Harry’s mouth.

“Louis, your mum.” He drew back and just rested his lips on Louis’, their noses rubbing lazily in an Eskimo kiss. Harry spanned his hands over the curve of Louis’ narrow waist and still couldn’t quite believe that he had Louis at all.

“She’s seen much worse.”

Well, it was true enough, at least. “You’ll have so much fun, you know. Doing what you love, and meeting all these new people and making friends everywhere because you’re the loveliest person I have ever met and everyone will know the second they meet you too,” Harry said, tried not think about himself an hour from now, with a Louis-shaped void in his life. This wasn’t about him. And he just wanted Louis to enjoy himself. “I’ll miss you. I’ll miss you so much, but… we’ll be okay. You’ll be okay and once you settle in, you’ll have the time of your life, yeah? And if not, you can always come back and no one will judge you for it, I promise.”

“Thank you, I… you always know the right thing to say to make me feel better. I love you.” Louis let out a shaky exhale and pressed his lips into the corner of Harry’s mouth. “We’ll be all right. Yeah, ‘s just one year. What’s that compared to the rest of our lives?”

He could vaguely register Liam speaking to Jay, but it sort of felt like a different world altogether. The only thing that felt real was Louis.

“I love you,” Harry said, biting down on the inside of his bottom lip hard enough to keep himself in check. This wasn’t a goodbye, and even after Louis kissed him one last time before getting into Jay’s car with Liam next to him and left Harry standing there in front of his house full of Tomlinson girls, Harry knew. Months from now, a year from now. It didn’t matter. Because Louis was right. Because even when the wait and the separation would have gotten difficult, Louis was the love of his life and Harry knew he was Louis’. What they had was fate. It was worth waiting for.

He knew they’d be all right.