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Hate Me To The Moon

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Newton realized that, according to his theory of gravity, the stars should attract each other, so it seemed they could not remain essentially motionless. Would they not all fall together at some point ?

 

Harry is reading Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History Of Time” like he would a Bible. He’s slouching in the blue and yellow seat of the rather empty wagon, comfortably cocooned between the white edge serving as a wall on his left and the armrest securing his body on his right, feet resting on the seat in front of him, knees slightly bent.

His eyes briefly sweep the space around him when he feels warmth overtake the previously relaxing air that had made its way in the tube. He straightens up and drops his feet to the floor, making enough room and freeing the seat across his own when a group of people emerges from the opened doors.

He gives a polite smile to the man now facing him, thanking him for sacrificing the comfort of his feet to let him sit. He then dives back into his book, forgetting the present world around him once again to get a new understanding of the universe as a whole.

There was just something addictive about unfolding the mysteries of the world, or at least get closer to do so. Harry had been studying it way before choosing his subjects for uni. He was fascinated by the physics behind an object falling to the floor faster than he could notice, or flying its way into the air. He was mesmerized by the way cells were created and the way they behaved, by the speed of light and black holes as he knew them.

At twenty years old, Harry was essentially a curious mind and a passionate spirit. He had never understood how people could go through a day without questioning what was the purpose of each step, what made them feel the way they did, or why they'd landed on a ground that hid so many secrets.

He looked up over the rim of his glasses, not lifting his head from the book, and checked how long he still had before his destination. As he counted three stops before Paddington station, he noticed a very pregnant woman standing near the doors. She looked exhausted, panting slightly as she rubbed her bump. Without hesitation, he immediately stood up and made his way towards her, waving a weak hand to get her attention. She looked up to see him pointing at the seat he emptied, and thanked him a good fifteen times before sinking down on it, looking relieved when she started fanning herself with the magazine in her hand.

As he stood next to the exit, Harry slid his book in the front pocket of his navy blue backpack and carefully replaced his glasses back into the leather case, putting it in the pocket as well. He readjusted his light pink beanie on his head, getting a few wild curls under it. He replaced the other strap of his bag over his shoulder and pulled his grey jumper down, covering the showing waistband of his white Calvin’s.

When the automated female voice announced his stop, he stretched his arms on his sides, resting his hands on each wall next to him, and quickly hopped off when the doors finally opened, jumping slightly to avoid the gap.

He walked to his flat as he always does, eyes glued on the concrete, lost in thoughts, stepping over a few puddles created by the rain still pouring and stroking his freezing cheeks and runny nose.

“Hey mate !” Niall greets his roommate the second he hears the door shut behind him and the sound of feet rubbing against the rug. “S’about to start !”

Niall had become one of Harry’s closest friends from Manchester. They shared the same obsession for science and weird interests in all kinds of fields. They'd decided to apply to the most renowned institution in the country to get their doctorate and work on their thesis with the best of the best. When they got confirmation of their acceptance, they'd found a rather affordable flat to share in central London, only twenty minutes away from the school.

Their habits were everything to them. On Mondays, they would watch the new episode of SyFy’s newest series about the origins of space and time. Tuesdays were study nights for the upcoming exams; Wednesdays were strictly reserved for board games such as Scrabble or Dungeons and Dragons when Zayn and Javaad cared to join, usually replaced by James and Nick when they cancelled – which always happened. On Thursdays, like today, it was Game of Thrones night. Not only would they watch the newest episode, they'd also spend at least two hours trying to debunk every aspect of it. The weekends were for local conventions and assignments and more board games with their friends before a quick trip to the pub.

Harry threw his bag next to the couch before taking his beanie off and burying himself into the cushions, high-fiving Niall on his way down, the latter already holding out a pillow on his side so Harry could rest his head on it like he always does.

When they’re done discussing the scientific possibilities of mystic creatures living in the real world, Harry yawns and drags himself to his room after hugging Niall goodnight, leaving him to his last beer in front of a football match that really wasn’t his thing.

He emptied his bag, placing his glasses and small book on the nightstand and the notebooks on his desk. He undressed himself quickly and folded the clothes on top of his chest of drawers, chose a pair of clean red and blue boxers, and walked to the bathroom, ignoring Niall’s grunt when he saw his bare bum from the couch.

He takes a long and relaxing hot shower before analyzing his fading acne and applying his cream on the few red spots. He ties his rather long chestnut hair in a high bun, sliding into his Spiderman boxers and brushing his teeth right after.

When he comes out, he eyes the sofa to see a snoring Niall, and carries him like a baby to his own room, tucking him in bed as he mumbles Irish nonsense under his breath, repeating a formula Harry reckons to be the speed at which he could get to his bed if he crawled like a fish out of the water.

He lazily wraps himself under the covers when he reaches his bedroom, setting no less than eight alarms to wake up in time for his morning classes. He considers resuming his reading, but figures he’ll have enough time in the tube tomorrow, given that he has to go to the new extended building five stations farther from usual.

He wakes up and jogs to his first class like every Friday since they changed the building: late. There’re just too many stairs, too many hallways, and he always gets unlucky and has to wait over ten minutes for the next train. He’s so used to it he’s just accepted his fate by now and makes sure Nick, his lab partner, takes notes to give him later on.

He’s twenty five minutes away and checks his watch to see his class is starting in five. He groans and squints his eyes before getting more comfortable in his seat, stretching his long legs in front of him.

This early, the train is rarely crowded. He can peacefully lean against the window on his side and plug his headphones in, letting Chris Martin wake him up smoothly. He lets himself go with each note, eyelids fluttering to finally shut and lips parting a bit.

He’s mentally singing along when someone kicks his legs, taking him away from his slumber. He jumps and gasps in surprise, bending his knees as a reflex before pausing his music, freeing one ear.

“Um, excuse me ?!” He frowns, waiting for the guy who pushed his legs out of the way to apologize.

“I do excuse you.” The guy replies, nodding in agreement before bringing his knees to his chest, feet flat on his seat, shielding his sight from Harry in front of him.

“No, I mean…You didn’t have to push my legs like that. Asking nicely would have had the same effect.”

“Mmh, m’not sure you would’ve heard me from wherever you were ten seconds ago…” The guy is dressed in a big grey hoodie reading ‘The British Rogue’, hood over his messy hair, hiding his upper body and his hands, emphasising the curves of his legs squished in tight black jeans.

Harry scans him entirely, chewing a gum loudly on the corner of his slightly open mouth, brows coming together as one when the guy puffs and tilts his head back.

“Doesn’t hurt to try…wanker.” Harry says with a condescending tone, stretching his legs again, seeing that the stranger doesn’t even touch the floor under him.

“What did you just call me ?!” The guy sits up, seemingly ready to punch an apology out of him even if he’s seemingly shorter than Harry and just waved the most delicate hand in the air as a threat.

“I believe I called you a wanker. Or are you usually referred to as an arsehole ?” Harry brings his hand up as he speaks with a fake concerned voice, as if to reassure the guy if he got hurt.

“Fuck off. Just keep your legs out of the way, s’not so hard !” The bearded - visibly young - man says , kicking Harry’s left shin with the tip of his Vans to make his point.

“So I’m going to ignore this and let you be an ass by yourself. Good day.” Harry spat and put his music back on, eyes on a window that shows nothing but dark walls and wires underground.

He’s glad to dive back into his indie mix without further interruption, opening his eyes a station before his own. He notices the rude stranger spread on the two seats in front of him, probably asleep, a hand under his cheek against the window. Harry fights himself not to kick his leg on the second seat, but it would just give him attention and he doesn’t have enough time to argue when he’s a minute away from getting out.

His day goes by rather slowly, classes after classes, workshops after labs, and his usual nap during the three hour long biology course. He meets up with Nick to make sure he’ll send him his notes tonight and they walk to the tube before going their separate ways. He goes home like every other day, watches Donnie Darko for the hundredth time, and carries Niall from his bean bag to his bed, his physics book hugged tight against his chest.

The next day, Harry thinks his lack of luck is getting to a higher level.

All he wanted was coffee. His only class of the day had been cancelled the day before so he had found himself wandering around the flat, Niall fast asleep. He wanted to work on the assignment he had to turn in on Monday so he woke up earlier than usual, but he couldn’t get started without a boost. He didn’t really enjoy coffee that much, but he was starting to lose it trying to focus when his bed was calling him.

He grabbed his laptop and his backpack, tiptoeing his way to the front door to avoid waking the engine a few steps from him. He grabbed the black umbrella hanging on the coat rack after checking the weather, took his keys, and walked out.

He walked down the street to his usual coffee shop, ready to cry when he saw a sign warning they’d be closing for the next three weeks for reconstruction. Problem was, it was the only coffee shop Harry tolerated around here. They knew how to make his mocha, didn’t add extra indescribable flavouring, and had mind blowing blueberry scones worth the fifteen minute walk.

He brought his hands on his hips and kicked the air, quickly going through the nearest coffee shops on his phone. He scrolled past the numerous Starbucks and stopped his finger on the name of an unknown café, enjoying the decor as he tapped the link, smiling at the reasonable price and interesting menu, including scones. He checked the distance and nodded when he saw the ten minute walk it needed.

He entered the place and sighed, relieved there were only two people, meaning the complete absence of loud conversations he didn’t need when he studied. He stopped at the menu on the wall and absentmindedly pinched his bottom lip with his index and thumb as he considered switching his usual mocha for an Americano.

“Made your choice ?” A sweet feminine voice called behind the counter and Harry nodded, staring at the board for one more second just to be sure.

As he turned to get closer to the woman, a guy nudged his side and walked in front of him, ordering a double espresso and a sausage bagel. He cleared his throat, making the customer turn to realize he’d just taken Harry’s place.

When the guy turns, Harry’s face drops and he cusses to himself, his morning getting worse. It was the rude guy from the tube. He’s wearing a white tee shirt under a denim jacket, ripped skinny jeans and same shoes, a cigarette tucked neatly behind his ear.

“You gotta be kidding me.” He exclaims, rolling his eyes and tugging at his jacket from the inside of his pockets.

“You just really don’t know manners, do you ?” Harry chuckles and goes to order his own coffee.

“Hey. Back off. I already ordered, you wait for your turn.” The stranger scolds, pushing Harry with his elbow to face the barista.

“I’m…You…What ?!” Harry is bewildered and the woman in front of them has no idea who to serve first.

“Um…I mean…He was here already…?” She shyly says, not wanting to upset the douchebag next to Harry, but still acknowledging Harry’s early arrival.

“Exactly. I’ll take a regular mocha with soy milk, no cream. In. Please.” Harry recites with a kind smile and big eyes, making the woman blush. “Oh, I’ll also have…” He takes a pause, eyeing the pastries behind the glass. “I’ll have one of your lovely blueberry scones as well.”

“Of course.” The barista is beaming, obviously charmed by Harry’s deep and suave voice, taking forever to form a word whilst his eyes sink into hers. “I’ll get that for you.”

“Are you being serious ?” The stranger says only to Harry, frowning, looking disgusted.

Harry doesn’t look back at him and tries his best to ignore him, but he’s staring at him with a shocked face and Harry really wants him to stop.

“What ?”

“I mean…Not even commenting on your choice of coffee…But do you just hypnotize girls to do whatever you want ?” He asks, still frowning, wrinkles splitting his face.

“It’s called politeness. You should look it up.” Harry says nonchalantly as he retrieves his wallet in his back pocket. He takes out a five pound note and gives it to the girl, winking at her as a thank you for serving him first. He takes the change and slides the coins in his jeans before carrying his coffee and scone to the table in the far right corner.

“Fuck off.” He hears the stranger mutter and rolls his eyes on his way to the chair.

He turns his laptop on, stirring the foam on top of his sugarless, dairy free mocha, and sips just a bit to test the temperature. He figures it’s a bit too hot so he sets it down on the table right next to his scone. He digs two fingers into the pastry and picks up a small chunk, munching on it with disappointment at the taste that’s nowhere near satisfying compared to the one he usually gets.

He wipes his fingers with the napkin on his small plate and opens the folder he needs, reading back the last words he typed to get started.

He’s about half a sentence in when he sees the stranger in the corner of his eye, falling loudly on the couch right next to him.

“Are you stalking me or something ?” Harry asks, watching as the guy lays his whole body on the brown leather and takes his phone out, coffee and bagel on the table next to him.

“This is my usual spot. If anything, you’re the one stalking.”

Harry just sighs and resumes typing his work. He tastes his mocha again, coughing at the sudden strength of chocolate in it. This is definitely not his comfort zone. He drinks it anyway, in desperate need of caffeine.

There’re still some details to sort out after an hour, but his assignment is mainly done. He’s finished his coffee a long time ago, the picked scone still sitting on the table. The stranger has been laying on the couch all this time, and Harry is starting to think he’s just scrolling through his twitter feed, coffee and bagel long gone as well.

His whole body is aching to say something. Ask why this guy is laying on a couch in a coffee shop playing on his phone at eight in the morning on a Saturday. He wants to know why he doesn’t feel uncomfortable dragging his dirty shoes all over the cushions, and he wans to just swat his legs out that vintage piece of furniture.

But he doesn’t. Instead, he bites his bottom lip and turns off his laptop, putting it back in his bag before grabbing his umbrella. He stands up, making sure he hasn’t left anything before stepping away, sliding himself between his chair and the couch. He can feel he’s just accidentally brushed his arse on the guy’s head, but he just keeps walking and figures the guy wanted nothing more but ignore him as well when he just snorted and went back to his phone.

“Dad…I told you already. We’re invited to a conference discussing the expansion of the universe with incredible guests, we can’t turn that down !” Harry is lying on is stomach on Niall’s bed as the latter finishes his analysis on black matter on his desk.

“Your friends surely, but you can. I pay enough for this school, if you need anything other than those lectures to know everything there is to know about the universe, I’ll just get you back here.” Harry’s dad says, voice loud and all parenting like.

“But I don’t need to meet them. I don’t live with you anymore, you can do whatever you want. I don’t care.”

 “Harry. I’m going to marry this woman. You’ll have to meet her eventually, and her family. You’ll have a brother and a sister in less than four months and you should get to know them.” Des, Harry’s father, explains, using his tender and distressed voice he knows Harry can’t say no to. “It’ll make me very happy.” There it is.

“Ugh.” Harry knows he’s already lost that battle.

He has no desire to fly to the south of France and spend over two months with his dad’s fiancée and her kids. He’s avoided meeting her all this – rather short – time they’ve been together, finding excuses not to come home or go on vacation with them. Ever. It’s not that he doesn’t want to please his dad, but he has no will to see this woman and her family, replacing his mom who passed away ten years ago.

Of course he had thought about it. His dad was still young and there was an inevitable chance he’d meet someone one day. But it still felt weird. He didn’t want to hear about her, her kids, her habits or see her face. He always changes the subject when it comes up and pretends he’s too busy studying to check on them.

When Des announced he had proposed to this woman after just nine months of being together, Harry had just found yet another excuse not to be involved. So his dad appealed to his feeling. He made him understand how happy she made him and how he hadn’t felt this way since his mom. Harry had to just swallow his bitterness and let his dad live.

“Perfect !” Des said happily. “We’ll be in Nice next week. Jay’s daughter is coming with us as well. Louis will join a bit after but probably still before you. He’s currently visiting his girlfriend in Brighton. You come whenever you want. Within the next two weeks that is.”

“When is Gemma coming ?” Harry figured going through this with her would be easier. They could always isolate themselves and go party with the friends they have there. They used to go to their summer house every year, but they had been ghosts since they started college. It’d be good to see the people out there.

“She’s coming with us. She told me to make you fly the same day but I remembered you had your exams next week…So the next weekend is your deadline.” Des warns. Harry can picture him grin right after that. He’d never been the authoritative kind.

“Alright then…I’ll see you after my exams I guess.”

“I can’t wait for you to meet her and Lottie and Louis…It’ll be great I promise. Anyway, I’ll leave you now. We’ve got a reservation at Victor’s and if we don’t leave within the next thirty seconds I have a feeling I’ll have to sleep on the ground. Good luck for the week ! I love you.”

“I love you too. Bye.” Harry hung up and shouted, a loud and dry ‘FUCK’ making Niall jump from his laptop.

“So I guess you won’t come to the conference this summer ?” Niall pouts.

“Guess not…Two months bro…I’ll have to put up with her and her kids for two fucking months. In France for fuck’s sake !” Harry groaned, hiding his face in his hands.

“I’m sorry…” Niall giggled.

They spend the rest of the night studying in Niall’s room, making sure they go over everything for the first day in graded Hell.

 

 

******

 

 

“Fuck.” Harry whispers as soon as he sees the fourth page of his exam papers.

He’s been a bit distracted at the beginning of the week by the impossible quizzes and nerve wracking essays he had to come up with. He loved learning, loved the field, loved the lectures…But sucked at studying efficiently. His long nights spent with books and notes all over his floor were all going to waste the second he read the sheet.

He had a bit of a stress issue when it came to exams. He could do very well on one-on-one interviews, mastered the art of labs tests and could explain any chapter out loud without having to even think about it.

Confronted to a timed examination of his capacity to discuss the various modern theories on gravity and their impact on the original theories in an essay, and you’d have a sweating mess shaking in his seat like a madman.

He went over his answers three more times before asking himself “but what is gravity ?” and that’s just why he always ended up drunk in a pub after his finals. No matter how smart he was, no matter how much he knew, his brain just blocked at the sight of the paper, even though he usually managed to get the important parts in.

On his way home, he replayed the whole thing in his head over and over again, smirking at the sky when all the right answers suddenly flowed back into his mind. Of course.

He skipped his way through the endless stairs and zigzagged through the hallways, thankfully not that full. He jumped into the wagon just in time, nearly getting his backpack stuck in the doors. He walked to the nearest seat and sat with a loud sigh, glad to be done with the very last step of this challenging week.

He reached in his bag to get his headphones and took his phone out of his pocket to plug them in, hoping that putting Walk The Moon’s album on would wash away his thoughts.

He sort of thanked the universe for making this ride this long, because end of finals equalled start of summer, equalled departure to Nice to meet his dad’s new family. And he was not ready for that.

He imagined what she’d be like. Would she be the cliché awful stepmother who’d poison his dad and make Gemma and himself her slaves ? Would she try to marry him for his money ? He wasn’t the wealthiest man alive, but he did have a summer house in France, so what’s more to need really…

He wondered whether she’d be funny and laid back or stiff and conservative. If she was a good cook or a good dancer, features his dad loved about his mom. He wondered how happy she makes him, if she, as well, lost her first love and spent years trying to heal before finding his dad to make her feel right again.

Then he wondered what her kids would be like. Lottie sounded like a teenage girl, ready to enjoy the sun along the pool, tanning all day and trying to sneak out to town maybe ? Or maybe she was a younger girl climbing trees and asking too many questions. Harry had never cared enough to ask.

Louis sounded…Louis sounded a bit posh, clean cut, reserved maybe, likely to be a very young boy obsessed with books…or a little menace. He knew Jay was rather young so she’d probably have very young kids, not over eighteen.

Harry kept creating stories in his head of how it’d be to meet everyone, how he’d probably just spend the whole time at Liam’s, the neighbour’s son, or clubbing with his friends on the beach. Maybe he’d even make sure to keep himself busy with a cute bloke he’d meet, taking his mind off of everything.

When he heard his station, he strutted to the door and stayed focused on the concrete as usual. He hadn’t even reached the narrow path to his flat when Niall ran to him.

“Drinks ?!” He yelled from afar, throwing a thumbs up in the air.

“Please.”

Harry pivoted as Niall hooked his arm around his shoulder and laughed loud, echoing in the whole damn street, making everyone know he was done with exams and ready to make the most of his summer.

They joined a few friends in their favourite pub in the corner of the street parallel to theirs, greeted by loud ‘lads !’ or ‘pints are coming Mullingar !’, Niall always owning up to his Irish blood.

There was ten of them in no time, all done with this week of pain and concentration. They shouted in each other’s ears and clicked their drinks and chugged their bodyweight in beer.

“I’ll be back !” Harry informs Ed, a friend he made at a British edition of Comic Con three years ago.

Harry sprinted to the loo, unable to contain the gallons of liquid he had just poured in his body. He checked himself in the mirror first, fixing his ruffled hair, flashbacks of sleepless nights flashing before his eyes. He pulled his black see through jumper a bit down, making sure his boxers were out of sight, and checked his bum in those black skinny jeans Gemma had forced him to get, telling him off for always wearing geeky shirts and baggy bottoms that didn’t fit his height and shape. He curled his lips upwards, making a mental note to thank her. His bum did look nice in those expensive things.

He proceeded to check his slightly bushy brows when he heard a loud bang coming from the seemingly occupied stall. He turned around, waiting for someone to curse or just appear, but all he got was choked moans and the most repelling voice he’d ever heard.

He giggled in his hand and quickly recomposed himself when two guys emerged. He kept his head down in respect and pretended to wash his hands, twisting his legs to hold his pee because otherwise it’d look like he was eavesdropping. Which he definitely was.

He had planned on passing incognito, but leave it to hazard to make him lock eyes with rude stranger from Northern Line in the mirror.

He was prepared to laugh loudly this time, already making up the best jokes, when he saw the look in his eyes. The guy looked horrified, caught on the spot as if sucking a dick in a bathroom was the most shameful thing a human can possibly do. He wiped his mouth with the sleeve of his green sweater, looking down at his feet before coming to the sink next to Harry when the other bloke got out.

“Hi.” Harry grinned, smiling big enough to make sure the guy knew there was a million comments ready to pop out.

The stranger rolled his eyes and, by now, Harry figured it was the only thing he knew how to do. He rolled his sleeves up and turned the water on, pressing twice for soap to rub his hands.

“So that’s why you’re grumpy ? Sucking off guys with annoying voices ?” Harry couldn’t help it and giggled the last words.

“What ?” The guy pretended nothing happened, like he hadn’t just wiped his mouth coming out of a cabinet with a guy zipping up his pants. “I didn’t…I was just helping him…with something.” He frowned.

“Oh, I bet you did…” Harry smiled again, shifting his weight on one leg with his hands on his hips. “There’s nothing wrong with it you know…”

“Would you just drop it ? Don’t you have…a children’s party to go to or something ?” The suddenly shy dick sucker asked, peering Harry’s Lego tee shirt under his revealing jumper.

“I actually have to use the toilet. You know, for what it’s actually made for…” Harry mocks, earning a death stare.

“Just…Fuck off !” The guy grunted, but made no effort to leave Harry’s side.

“Gladly. As long as I’m away from you.” Harry faked a smile and started turning, but spoke over his shoulder. “Oh and… You have a bit of your help on your chin.” He smirked and entered the stall, hearing the mixture of a groan and the tearing of tissues before the door slammed shut.

 

 

******

 

 

Gemma had agreed to come pick up her brother to talk him through what had already happened before his arrival.

Jay and his dad were apparently the most publicly affectionate couple to ever exist, she had brought four full suitcases, and gave Gemma a silver necklace to buy her way through it. Her daughter, Lottie, turned out to be a sixteen year old exemplary Christian girl, devoted to spending the summer doing ‘holiday homework’.

“I didn’t know they were Christian…”

“Oh yes. Very Christian actually. Like…the strict type.” Gemma made a fed up face and patted Harry’s knee. “Good luck hiding you’re a sinner brother.” She burst out laughing.

“What ?”

“Yeah…Dad asked me to talk to you about that slight issue…”

“What issue ?”

“So, he sort of, kind of, maybe told her we were traditional too…” Gemma said, fighting a laugh.

“You’re joking.” Harry turned his upper body to face his sister, waiting for some kind of trace of mockery. There was none.

“I wish I was. But she kept asking if we would be there at church on Sundays and blessed me enough to make me a Saint.”

“Fuck that.” Harry cussed, scratching his thighs in frustration. “So I’m supposed to pretend I’m into girls as long as she’s with dad ?” Harry laughed in denial.

“Probably. You should’ve seen her face when I told her I had a boyfriend. She was shocked. Shocked !” Gemma waves her hand as she speaks. “I could read the ‘I bet she’s not even a virgin’ on her forehead.” She cackled.

“How am I gonna survive two months not slipping a penis joke every two sentences ?” Harry rubs his face, shaking it in disbelief.

“I’m sure you’ll be fine. And it’s not like you’re going to stick around much. I saw Liam. He’s waiting for you like Christmas !” Gemma smiles, playfully punching her brother’s shoulder.

“Fuck yes ! I wouldn’t wanna be around those closed-minded weirdoes…” Harry puffed. “How’s the son ?”

“Pretty quiet. He’s just two years older than you. He’s cute, polite… but an ass kisser.” Gemma says through her teeth.

“Great. I’ll stay away from that one too then…”

“Oh, I’m not sure that’ll be that easy though.”

“Why not ? I don’t have to take him with me anywhere, he can get busy by himself.” Harry says firmly, biting on his thumb.

“Yeah well, unless you make him sleep in the garden…You’re gonna have to spend the nights with him. The guest room was flooded, a pipe exploded or something, so we have to share rooms. I share mine with Miss Virgin Marie and you…well, you’ll have yourself a potential priest.”

At this point Harry can’t even close his mouth. His chest is burning with rage and he’s already planning his outburst when he sees his dad.

“Remind me to steal dad’s credit card before going to town.”

They arrive at the villa on the beachside few minutes after. The house is located on a small property, surrounded by very close but very kind neighbours, barely hiding behind wooden walls a six year old can climb, and with about as much privacy as Harry will have with the future priest.

The sound of the wheels on the gravel sounds like home and Harry breathes in the Mediterranean breeze through the window. He loves this house. It’s not a gigantic mansion and it’s not directly on the beach and next to fancy clubs, but it’s a nicely beige painted villa facing the shore, a shiny green grass surrounding it.

The swings Gemma and him repeatedly fell from are intact and he can already hear them crack under their weight. The small porch is still unsteady and funny looking, and the old tree is giving in, but it’s still beautiful. It’s beautiful because all the memories he has there, he carries with him at all times and protects at all costs.

He scurries around the car to get his suitcase and duffle bag, takes a deep breath, and eyes his sister one last time before following her in.

The smell is overwhelming. It’s been years and it still hasn’t changed a bit. It’s the scent of lavender and honey, a light punch to the nose that makes you feel relaxed instantly. The sight of the familiar canvas his mom painted reminds him of a simpler time, and the old furniture is spreading its smell of overused leather and happy days.

He doesn’t have the time to get upstairs and keep exploring though. Within seconds, his dad is jogging dramatically from outside, ridiculous sunglasses hanging on his nose. He lifts them up in his hair and hugs his son tight, greeting him like he’s just returned from Afghanistan.

"Hey Paps !” Harry hugs him back, letting his bag fall on the floor to wrap his arms just as hard. “I’ve missed you”.

“I’ve missed you so much more !” Des chants, petting Harry’s head as he pulls back, watching him from head to toe. “Look at you ! All grown up !”

Harry blushes and shrugs, trying to act chill, as if he’s not that touched by how proud his dad looks right now. He’s about to ask him about his growing belly – probably full of beer – but his words are cut short by the entrance of a brunette he figures must be Jay. His smile falters immediately and he’s met with a warm embrace he cannot return.

“Harry ! I’m so happy to finally meet you !” She sings in his ear and he just really needs her off. Now.

“Hello.” He says with a cold voice. He doesn’t mean to be rude, but this is just weird.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I’m just so happy to finally see you in real life ! I’ve heard so much about you !”

“And I’m sure you’ll hear much more…” Harry smiles, grin splitting his face with anger, his sister clearing her throat next to them.

“Lottie, Louis !” Des calls from the end of the stairs. “Harry’s here !”

A blond, gorgeous young girl walks gracefully down the stairs, smiling shyly as she tucks her hair behind both her ears. She’s wearing a long plain pink skirt and a white simple cotton tee, flowery flats on her feet, and Harry can’t remember the last time he’d seen a sixteen year olds wearing a skirt going past the middle of her thighs.

She gives Harry her hand and he awkwardly shakes it, faking too many smiles already. She looks lovely however, so he just hopes she’s not that uptight.

They’re chatting about Harry’s flight and the struggle of the exams when new footsteps interrupt them. Harry reminds himself to never stop smiling, waiting for ‘Louis’ to get to eye level before he frowns from where he’s sitting. They hadn’t let him get to his room before having some tea with them in the garden.

“I’m here ! Sorry. I had lost me phone and I-“

Harry would recognize this Yorkshire accent amongst thousands. He thinks he might be sleeping, ready to wake up from this nightmare, when he turns to see the guy that kicked his legs in the tube, walked in front of him in a coffee shop with a cigarette in his hair and fucking sucked a guy’s cock in a pub. That, that is not really the guy walking towards him though.

This one is wearing navy blue pants, way less tight than those jeggings that hugged his thighs to perfection – not that Harry had stared on the train or when they were displayed on that couch – with a classic purple long-sleeved cotton t shirt. Harry only takes one look down to hide his mouth and choke a laugh, because the guy has his pants rolled up above his ankles, showing off black Tom’s. His hair is nothing near the messy nest he had every time Harry ran into him. It’s perfectly combed in a quiff, no trace of facial hair whatsoever.

When Louis looks up, stopping midsentence, he freezes. Freezes.

“Louis I suppose ?” Harry smirks, purposefully staring right into his eyes.

“You’re Harry ?” Louis asks with a gasp but quickly coughs, regaining a normal tone. “Um. Yes. I’m Louis. Nice to meet you.” He smiles and stretches his arm.

Harry licks his entire mouth on the inside to not say anything that’ll disown this guy. He rocks his chair backwards to shake his hand, squeezing discretely.

 

And all of a sudden, his summer became just a bit more interesting…

Chapter Text

“So tell us Harry. How’s London ? We’ve only been to Manchester when we left Donny !” Jay chuckles, teeth exposed as she stirs her steaming tea. “Lou has visited Brighton multiple times since his girlfriend studies there, but other than that we don’t travel at all !”

Harry props both elbows on the large table. Louis is sat right in front of him and his cheeks are still as red as they were a few minutes ago when he squeezed his palm. He folds his hands and rests his head on his joined fingers, tilting his head on the side in pure bliss.

“Is that so ?” Harry asks Louis, smiling to his ears.

Louis stutters inaudible noises and turns to Harry’s dad to dodge those mocking green eyes.

“Eleanor lives in a beautiful apartment facing the beach. She made me visit the lanes and we went to several festivals there. It’s lovely.” He explains, sipping on his tea as soon as he catches his breath.

“Lovely, indeed.” Harry chuckles. “Does she know you’re-“ He starts but snorts when a foot kicks his shin. He coughs to mask his slight pain and apologizes, Gemma jumping in when she sees her brother struggle for some reason.

“How’s the long distance relationship going ? I mean, Brighton is not on another continent, but it must be so hard !” Gemma pities him.

“Yeah, I’m sure a lot of things get real hard when you’re not with her, huh ?” Harry pretends to be concerned, earning another painful kick under the table, making him squeak in his hand.

“It’s tough, yes. But um, we love each other so…” Louis says unsure, but only Harry can sense that.

“Wow, I don’t know if I could be this far from Evan for this long. I need my cuddle buddy !” Gemma jokes and everyone laughs, except Jay.

“Louis and Eleanor have a different type of relationship…” Jay says, clearly judging Harry’s sister.

“How so ?” Harry frowns, extremely curious and hysterically laughing in his head.

“They-“ Jay begins but Louis takes over, smiling at his mom as if to apologize for daring talking for himself.

“We share the same view on what makes a good and um…virtuous…relationship.” He says with a low voice and both Harry and Gemma’s mouth drop.

The two siblings look at each other across the table and share a secret conversation only their dad can hear, because he’s the one who raised them and threw innuendos everywhere and talked birds and bees for hours the way he told bedtime stories.

“That’s very honourable Louis ! Great example !” Des cheered as Gemma made vomit noises behind her napkin and Harry just cackled a loud laugh, scrunching his nose, eyes getting watery.

“Harry !” Des scolds and his son apologizes as he wipes his eyes.

“They vowed to stay pure until marriage. It's entirely based on a shared will to live a pure life around the abundance of sin around.” Jay smiles at her son, stroking his hand on the table, gently tapping the silver chastity ring on Louis’ finger.

“Anyways…” Gemma decided to change the subject, probably on the verge of cry laughing just like her brother. “Dad, Poppy invited me over tonight. Is that okay or did you plan something for everyone ?”

“Oh um…” Des shuffles in his chair.

“Actually…” Jay intercepts and Harry’s starting to think this woman has to speak for everybody in this house. “We were thinking Scrabble night !” She sounds way more excited than she should. Harry almost regrets loving that game because he just can’t cope having something in common with this dictator in a white summer dress.

“Gems hasn’t seen her friend in a long time…Maybe she can skip this one, darling ?” Des suggests, rubbing the back of his daughter’s neck, Gemma humming at the ‘I can't refuse anything to you princess’ rub.

“Thanks Paps !” The twenty-five year old claps her hands in victory and sticks her tongue out to her brother who mimics her.

“So Harry…” Jay tries to ignore her fiancé’s little rebellion and his giggling children. “ You still haven’t answered me. How’s London ?”

“It’s incredible. It’s been my dream to enter this school for so long and I get to talk with the greatest scientists and work with famous physicists. I love it. The city in itself is even better to be honest.” He drinks the rest of the tea he has left, licks his now shiny lips, and continues. “It’s very diverse and quite big, so you can get lost, but in a good way. I’ve met my best friends there. It’s very active and just perfect for students.”

“It sounds like it.” Jay gives him a sincere kind smile and Harry returns it with efforts. “What about the transport system ? I heard the tube is a nightmare !”

“Mmh it’s alright…You get used to it I guess. Of course, there’s the occasional arsehole that refuses to apologize when he physically attacks you but…It’s not so bad, not so bad.” Harry is looking at Louis over his fist stuck to his mouth to contain his smile.

“What a shame. I’m telling you, people that rude are people who don’t go to church. They can criticize religion all they want, it contains people, give them guidelines and rules to respect others. Lou won an award for his speech on respect and truth at the local parish. You’d be interested I think !” Jay announces, pride glowing in her eyes.

“You know what, I’d love to know his views on respect and truth.” Harry kept a long and intense gaze that Louis broke, flushed and visibly anxious. “But maybe for another time. I’m exhausted. Do you guys mind if I crash in my bed for a bit ?”

“Oh poor angel, go go go ! You need to rest before our night !” Jay says as if they’re going clubbing or something.

“Right. Well, I’ll see you later then.” Harry waves goodbye to the whole table and yawns his way to his bag and suitcase, still sitting on the floor. He bends to grab the duffle bag, but a hand stops him, gripping his wrist weakly, barely touching.

“I’ll do it.” Louis says as he lifts the bag over his shoulder. He raises a brow when Harry still hasn’t moved and climbs the stairs without waiting any longer.

The first step Harry takes into his bedroom is filled with pleasant memories of tiny racing cars all over the floor and uneven breaths in his bed.

Speaking of which, Harry nearly faints to the scene in front of him. His comfortable squeaky bed is covered with a pile of sweaters and socks, sheets tangled with creased pillows and stuffed animals Harry hasn’t seen in a long while.

“What the fuck ?!” He snaps, walking to the bed, pointing at it vigorously as if in shock of what’s on it. “This. Mine. Bed. Mine.”

“That’s just a fucking bed, there’s another one there, stop crying.” And the Louis Harry had seen before is back.

“Oh and there it is, grumpy pants has made a come back.” Harry rolls his eyes and settles on the other bed, slipping his shoes off to lay down, too tired to argue right now.

“Aren’t we going to talk ?” Louis asks, almost demanding.

“About what ? You’re a fraud who stole my bed. End of discussion. Now go be a fake obedient virgin elsewhere and let me sleep.” Harry says, words muffled in the pillow.

“I’m not a fraud. I just…My mom’s a bit…stubborn...and old fashioned.”

“Oh yeah ? Didn’t notice !” Harry says sarcastically and turns on his stomach, his loose white shirt rolling above his jeans.

“Are you going to tell her ?” Louis asks after a while, voice shaking.

“Haven’t decided yet.” He can hear the guy walk in circles and he’d normally have a blast making fun of him, but he wants nothing more than rest right now.

He grunts the moment a weight settles on the bed next to his feet and he doesn’t bother looking over his shoulder to know Louis’ thinking about every way to keep him mute.

“I won’t tell.” Harry gives in, hoping he’ll let him sleep.

“I appreciate it…” Louis mumbles, barely loud enough.

“But you have to promise to stop being an ass.”

“I’m not an ass !” Louis nudges Harry’s shin and he’s starting to think he’s obsessed with his legs.

“Whatever you say big guy.” Louis might have been saying something else but Harry’s already far away, snoring slightly in the pillowcase.

The evening is not as painful as Harry had expected and he even finds himself enjoying the board game, finding out Lottie would be a tough competition. He tries not to roll his eyes too much when Jay gasps at the sight of a few unusual words Harry came up with, unusual for a straight conservative Catholic mother anyway, and helps gathering the letters and board back into the box.

“Do you want me to help you in the kitchen Des ?” Louis asks with a pathetically sweet voice that’d charm any parent.

“Oh, thank you son, but I’m alright !” Des yells on his way to the fridge and Harry tries not to puke at the nickname he just used.

Harry sinks into the massive cautions on the old couch and turns on the TV, making sure Jay’s out of sight when he settles on Criminal Minds, switching the language to English and making himself comfortable to enjoy the episode he’s seen before. He stretches his legs and ties his hair up, the summer heat getting a bit too much.

“That’s my favourite !” Lottie exclaims when she takes a glimpse at the screen, falling next to Harry, clearly too uncomfortable in her nun attire when she squints and pinches the belt of her skirt.

“Mine too !” Harry smiles. “That show made me want to study criminology in middle school ha…”

“Same ! I love Morgan, he’s so h-“ Lottie almost speaks like a normal teenager until Jay comes back to the living room, her perfect son right behind like a little shadow.

“Um, Lottie ?” Jay moves her hand from her daughter to the screen, waiting for her to explain herself. “It’s late.”

“It’s ten…” Harry puffs, clearing his throat when he meets the most terrifying eyes behind him.

“I’m sure you have a reasonable curfew as well Harry. Maybe you should go back to your rooms ?” Jay’s smile is as fake as her son when she stares at her fiancé, ready to scream if he says otherwise.

“Um…Yeah. It’s getting late Haz, you should all go upstairs now.” Harry’s dad is nowhere to be seen and he’s starting to wonder if Jay is not indeed an evil master. He gives up anyway, seeing a pleading look from his dad’s eyes.

They all reach their respective shared bedrooms after hugging Jay and Des goodnight, apparently immune to the still rather present late summer sunlight outside. What was the point of having the sun setting after ten at night if it wasn’t for staying up later ? Not to mention that it’s a vacation and there’s nothing to do the next day, but that’s just a point of view…

Harry starts taking off his shirt even before entering his bedroom, already unzipping his jeans to stay in his boxers, glad he already had a quick shower after his nap. He grabs his glasses in his backpack and searches for his book in his duffle bag, ready to jump on his bed and slide under the fluffy comforter. He stops when he feels eyes on him.

“Can I help you ?” Harry says, back to his new roommate who coughs slightly and opens the chest drawer to pick a onesie and slippers.

“A onesie and slippers ? Really ?” Harry chuckles behind his book.

“It’s comfortable. And this floor is too fucking cold. And more importantly: mind your own business…I’ll have a shower.” Louis says and drags his feet to the shared bathroom.

“Be my guest.” Harry notices the guy’s about to go in there fully clothes and keeps his eyes on the page he’s reading when he warns him. “You might want to leave your clothes over there, scumbag.” Louis raises a brow and waits for him to go on. “The shower has the tendency to splash everywhere. Unless you want to sleep in wet cotton, you should make a towel your only best friend.”

“Fucking great…” Louis mutters and drops the onesie on the bed he conquered, throwing his jumper on the floor before sliding his pants down.

Harry closes his eyes to calm himself upon hearing the clothes hit the floor. If there’s one thing he can’t handle, it’s messiness. He turns his head, ready to yell at this hoarder when his eyes land down his bare back, white boxers hugging his bum as beautifully as the black skinnies did his thighs. He keeps his lips slightly parted, tilting his head to enjoy the full view, trying hard not to picture his hands squeezing his soon to be stepbrother’s cheeks.

“Do you want something ?” Louis asks and Harry realizes he’s been staring even when Louis turned around, eyes lost on the area without focus.

“Your clothes. Off the floor.” Harry doesn’t dare look up and uses a serious tone before going back to his book to the sound of grumpiness disappearing in the bathroom.

When Louis is fully dressed and tucked up in bed - not without Harry’s struggle to keep his eyes for himself when the glorious ass was inches away from him - he turns off the light that enabled Harry to read. The latter immediately turns it back on, not glancing at him as he does. Louis hits the button aggressively again, leaning on his side, ready to do it over and over again.

“You’re so fucking annoying. How do you stand yourself ?” Harry sighs, turning the light back on.

“I’m tired. You can surely skip your bedtime story when your brother needs some rest.”

“Oh, excuse me your highness, I didn’t realize I was in the presence of the king of utter shit.” Harry figures he’s won when Louis doesn’t turn the light back off.

“Idiot.” Louis puffs. “What are you reading anyway ?”

“A theory on elementary particles and the-“ Harry explains but is cut by a loud laugh. Louis’ laugh is a series of “HAHAHA” coming out too loud and way too irritating already. “You fucking asked…”

“My bad. Can’t you learn about boring stuff in daytime ?”

“This ‘boring stuff’ is the reason you can spend hours reading tweets in a coffee shop. No science, no technology. No technology, no Twitter.” Harry is using his teacher voice, pissed off by this guy’s ignorance.

“Whatever…”

Harry turns off the light few moments after, setting his glasses on the nightstand between their beds before letting his hair down and pulling the blanket to his chin.

 

 

******

 

 

“Haaaarryyy !” Liam shouts from his side of the fence. He doesn’t really care if he wakes up the whole neighbourhood on a Sunday morning. “Haaaarrryyy !”

Harry’s eyes flutter open, lips screwing shut above the wet spot on the mattress, pillow on the floor just like every night. He doesn’t know why but he just can’t get comfortable enough on them and always ends up throwing it aside to lay flat.

He can hear Liam scream at the top of his lungs and checks his watch before standing up, opening the window leading to the small balcony to yell back.

“I’m cooooomiiiiing !” He shouts between his cupped hands.

Louis’ spot is empty, bed messier than the day before, onesie balled against the wall. There’s a baby blue button up and black dress pants spread on the bed and Harry’s quickly reminded it’s in fact a Sunday.

He rubs his tummy and yawns violently, as would an angry lion, and grabs his grey sweats in his suitcase not to earn weird looks from the new family when he walks around half naked.

“Good morning love !” Jay greets him as soon as he comes in the garden, initially to talk to Liam over the useless barrier.

There’s a full Mediterranean breakfast set on the large table. Fresh orange juice, croissants, pains au chocolat, baguettes, butter, homemade jams, scrambled eggs…He’s just glad Jay turns out to be fond of fresh and abundant food because there’s no way his dad pulled this up.

“Hi everyone !” Harry smiles, waving his hand to avoid hugging every person at the table.

“Slept well ?” Jay asks, pouring a glass of water for Louis as if he’s not twenty something.

“Very well thank you.”

“Mate !” Liam erupts from the side of the garden and runs to hug Harry who hugs him back happily, the both of them jumping in each other’s arms like lunatics.

“Fuck ! It’s so weird to see you again bro ! C’mere !” Harry briefly inspects his childhood friend, noticing his mature beard and freshly cut hair but still impeccable smile that turns his eyes in two thin lines. He resumes hugging him before finally letting go to introduce him.

“Liam is one my closest friends, haven’t seen him in years ! Thanks Facebook cause I’d never would have recognized you in the street mate !”

“Morning !” Liam smiles and waves hello shyly. Des stands up to pull him in a tight embrace before inviting him to sit down with them, an invitation he gladly accepts when he spots sugary crepes.

Jay looks a bit uneasy at the sight of Harry’s bare tattooed chest and arms, drinking her tea with her eyes glued between the two men catching up. Des has to clear his throat and speak over them to keep his fiancée from hearing the not so conservative conversation.

“I think we should get ready honey.” Jay announces, holding Des’ hand briefly.

“Right, right. Liam, we’re trying to catch the late morning mass. You’ll have to stop by later, unless you wanna join us ?” Liam chokes on his glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, waiting for someone to laugh with him.

“Um…I’m…good…thanks. I’ll see you after then I guess ?” Liam has never frowned so much, more horrified than when Jay handed him a spoon.

Gemma, Lottie, Louis and Harry are encouraged to go change so Liam climbs back to his house, a bit more relaxed when Harry tells him everything on his way home, from their sudden religious conversion to the secretive son.

“That’s what you’re wearing…?” Louis looks up and down his future brother with disdain.

The closest thing Harry had to a church friendly outfit was his black skinny jeans, silk creamy shirt and Chelsea suede boots. He had opted for a black blazer to cover his arm tattoos, figuring Jay would lose it if he stepped in with his ink showing when she’d wave at the priest.

“I hadn’t really planned on going to church…”

“You’re not catholic ?” Louis asks as he buttons his shirt.

“I’m not very religious…”

“Your dad told us you were very devoted to it though…”

“Well, guess everyone’s keeping secrets in this family, huh ?” Harry chuckles and watches as Louis slides his shirt into his pants, making his perky bum stand out in those nicely fit classy pants. It looks too tight around it and Harry remembers he’s staring at his stepbrother’s arse…again…and turns on his heels to head downstairs.

The second they enter the church, Harry wants out.

He doesn’t mind listening to the priest spread God’s words - or rather those of the men who wrote what He supposedly said - but the atmosphere is a bit sectarian. He makes the sign of the Cross and smiles at the girl eyeing him when they reach the third row, blushing and shuffling a hand in her wild red hair, freckles on her cheeks turning pink. He smiles, absentmindedly pretending he has gum in his mouth to show off his dimples and sharp jawline. Louis must notice because he puffs and Harry just rolls his eyes.

Jay slides in first, followed by Des, Lottie, Gemma, Louis and then him. There’s enough people in front of them so he won’t get caught thinking about all the places he’d rather be right now. He follows the choreographed ceremony, standing up and singing and sitting back down and standing up again and singing and repeating the whole thing over and over again.

When comes the time of the priest’s speech about forgiveness, Harry stops paying attention and scans the benches. One thing he liked to do when he was younger, was looking at people’s expression and behaviour.

He catches an old man holding his rosary, kneeling down as he mouths a prayer with his eyes shut. There’s a little girl playing with her doll next to her yawning mom, two brothers thumb wrestling, and a very handsome man.

He stops there, watching as the guy straightens an unruly lock above his head, joining the rest of his glistening black hair. He looks Latino. Yes, definitely Latino, or blessed with a glorious tan. Either CEO or a rich daddy’s boy by the perfect navy blue suit screaming luxury. He has a light stubble, a thin moustache above his curvy lips and, as far as Harry can tell from where he is, beautiful bright eyes. Maybe grey. He reminds him of someone and he stares a bit longer trying to figure out whom.

“If you keep staring he’s going to burst into flames.” Louis whispers when he leans closer against Harry’s side, still looking ahead. Harry chuckles and licks his bottom lip.

“I hope not, he’s a beauty. Would that work on you though ?” Harry whispers back slowly, leaning the same way Louis did.

“Very funny.” Louis says dryly without whispering, quickly shushed by his mom with a discrete ‘Boobear !’ at the end.

“Careful puppy, you’re gonna get sprayed with water…” Harry mocks him, earning a discrete punch in his ribs. “Or shall I say Boobear ?”

“Fu-“ Louis starts but stops, most likely realizing he’s not in the best place to curse.

“Sorry, what was that ?” Harry cups his hand behind his ear and wiggles his brows.

When Louis doesn’t say anything, Harry goes back to looking at the faithful. He spots an old lady holding up a small booklet, probably following the topic, eyes closed and head swinging back and forth, mouth opening progressively as she drools. Harry can’t help giggling silently, shoulders shaking, brushing Louis’.

The annoying fraud follows Harry’s eyes to find the source of his laughter, noticing the sleepy woman as her head collides with her book, glasses falling at her feet. She quickly gets her head back up, her fabricated bun hanging oddly, pushed on the side by the way she straightened up, quickly checking if anyone saw her and pretending to be deep into the speech when she figures no one did.

Harry and Louis must’ve witnessed the whole thing at the same because they both giggle quietly, hiding their mouth in one hand to not be told off.

Except, laughing on his own, Harry can manage. Another person involved and he can’t control his laughter, especially when Louis lets out a high pitched “eh” that makes the man in front of them turn and frown.

Their faces turn red and Harry doesn’t dare looking at Louis because he’s certain he’ll explode if he takes one look at his crinkled eyes and bouncing chest. He can feel him shake against his blazer and knocks his knee into Louis', an attempt to make him stop that only benefits more laughter and growing incapability to stay quiet.

Gemma looks over at her brothers and stretches an arm to pinch Harry’s neck to make them stop. He’s too far gone though, the overwhelming silence making the whole situation painful and somehow even more hilarious.

Harry is trembling, pinching the bridge of his nose with his thumb and index, digging his teeth in his lip as he shakes his head no as if to beg God to make this stop before he cries.  

They’re slowly toning it down and Harry tries breathing in and out to calm down, but they both notice the priest almost tripping over a step and that’s all they need to bend down, burying their face in their lap to try and cover their uncontrollable giggles.

Louis sits back up to not attract too much attention, Harry figures. He doesn’t hear his choked laugh as much so he reckons he’s calmed down, finally being able to calm down himself. When he comes back up though, Harry sees Louis' red face in his collar pulled above his nose, eyes screw shut with tears streaming down, and he lets out the loudest cackle echoing in the gloomy cold walls, noise trapped in the stained glass windows.

The first two rows turn in shock while the priest stops his speech to search for the interrupting voice. When he catches Harry, the latter purses his lips and holds his hand in apology, mouthing a ‘sorry’ and coughing in embarrassment.

He turns to see a furious Jay and a puzzled Des, all while Lottie and Gemma chuckle and hide their faces behind their song sheet. He apologizes to them too and painfully waits for the end of his ordeal, Louis dead mute next to him, wiping his tears.

When they walk outside, Jay pulls her son apart from everyone else and Harry can hear her scold the crap out of him like he’s a turbulent six year old misbehaving. He observes the exchange, looking at the way Louis keeps his head down, hands behind his back, allowing his mother to spit in his face every few words, pinching his lips not to say anything back.

“You two seem to get along…” Gemma nudges her brother, watching Louis and Jay as well.

“Hell no. He’s a fucking ass.” Harry grunts. Gemma looks more lost than ever, used to the polite and kind side of a very religious Louis.

Just because they had the giggles for a moment doesn’t mean they get along. Harry’s pretty sure the universe sent this guy to punish him for accidentally stealing those candies when he was nine. He can’t stand him, and doesn’t intend on making any effort to treat him as something other than an annoying liar.

They head home after that, Louis silent in the car next to Lottie. Harry doesn’t dare joking when he sees the sadness on his face and frowns, wondering why the hell he’d let his mom get to him like that.

 

 

******

 

 

“I’m telling you man, I don’t get why he doesn’t just stand up for himself.” Harry tells Liam as they dribble in his backyard, sweating in just their gym shorts and trainers.

“Maybe he’s scared to disappoint her…” Liam pants, catching the ball falling through the basket.

“But he’s a grown man, like, who fucking cares ?” Harry gestures for his friend to pass him the ball and positions himself to shoot before stopping and standing normally again. “I don’t know if I can keep secrets you know…”

“Yeah…but it’s his problem, not yours.” Liam steals the ball from Harry and dribbles his way to shoot, missing the basket and laughing at his fail.

“Our parents are getting married. And, as much as I hate it, we’ll be part of the same family. It is my problem as well.”

“You should talk to your dad about it. Des is cool, I’m sure he’ll convince Louis’ mom to be more tolerant.” Liam advises, making Harry consider the idea, but erasing the thought rapidly.

“Nah, she’s too stuck up. They have a fucking curfew. In summer. She’s gotta be extra scary for her kids to never argue with that.” Harry says before trying to take the ball from his friend.

“How are things with Niall ?” Liam asks after a one-on-one match he wins.

“Great, great. He’s going home next week and comes back for a conference, then spends the last days in Barcelona with his cousins.”

“That’s nice. What about…you know…I mean…I wanted to check on you after that but didn’t really know how ?” Liam chose his words wisely.

“He was a jerk, I was stupid. End of story. I’ve moved on and healed myself in the gym. And we shall not pronounce his name or anything related to him ever again.” Harry says calmly but his throat is tight and his chest tighter.

“Are you looking for anything right now ?” Liam respects his will to not dwell on this sensitive subject.

“Not really... I just wanna enjoy my summer, have fun, maybe meet a cute guy who’ll make me forget I’m living with God’s apostles.”

“We should head to Bruno’s then ! They just reopened the place and it’s filled with the golden youth looking for a good night.” Liam chants, dancing as if he’s already in the club.

“Oh yeah that’d be fucking perfect…I could pick up a dumb millionaire who’d whisper his card number in a limo, I might be into that life !” Harry jokes and they both burst out laughing, agreeing on going out the day after.

“What about Louis ? Do you think he’d fancy a rich guy in an Yves Saint Laurent tuxedo and strong cologne ?” Liam asks, grabbing his water bottle and spraying his face.

“According to his choice of cock to suck in a sketchy pub…Not sure.” Liam covers his face to laugh, still not completely comfortable talking dicks when he’s obsessed with women, but enjoying the way Harry makes it easier with humour.

“I’d see him more as a fucking exigent…what’s the word again ?”

“Twink ?” Harry giggles. “Nah, he’s not a twink. At least not the real him.”

“Would you go for it if he weren’t your stepbrother ?” Liam grins, searching for Harry’s honest answer on his face.

“Absolutely not. He’s the most obnoxious twat I’ve ever met. I’d rather finish the night with a snobbish dork, thank you very much.” Harry says firmly and Liam tries his best to use gay slang before talking school and training.

They keep playing at Liam’s, the sun slowly disappearing. Harry had figured he’d escape tonight’s curfew and just sleep at his friend’s, able to catch up with him without fearing a slap on his face or holy water splashed on him as he enters a room.

They grab their shirts on the floor and wipe their wet torso when they hear a loud sound in the bushes. It’s hard to see anything in the dark but the garden rainbow lights from Liam’s reveal the frame of a short blond girl sneaking out the backdoor.

“The fuck…?” Harry whispers, following her, Liam right behind him.

They stop at the sight of a car a few feet away from the summer house, watching as Lottie hops in after checking no one’s following her, leaving Harry speechless with a baffled Liam.

 

“Well, guess Louis’ not the only one keeping secrets…”

 

 

*****

 

 

“Morning !” Harry smiles as he enters the kitchen. He goes to pat his dad’s back and opens every cupboard, looking for his favourite cup. “Um…where’s my…”

“Your mug with flowers and penises in rainbow colours ?” His dad asks from the sink.

“Yeah…” Harry looks at him and sees a sorry pout. “No. Don’t tell me you threw away my lucky mug.”

“I didn’t throw it away, I just made sure no one would see it. It’s inappropriate.”

“I’ve been drinking from that mug since the day aunt Lily gave it to me at my sixteenth birthday. You’ve literally seen that thing more than myself. What’s the deal ?” Harry hops on the counter next to his dad and bites in a banana, crossing his arms on his chest.

“Look, I don’t want Jay to think we’re…”

“Fun ? Quirky ? Fabulous ?” Des gives him the ‘stop that’ look and goes back to scrubbing the plate he’s holding.

“Rude.”

“Rude ? She should look at her son and then come to be about being rude.” Harry snaps, not thinking it through.

“What ? Louis ? Did he do something to you ?” Harry considers telling him everything, but he’s just not a tattletale.

“No. I just sense it.” Des chuckles, placing the clean dripping plate aside before lifting a dirty sauce pan from the sink.

“Please be nice to him. He hasn’t had it easy. He needs a dad and he could surely use a brother.”

“He’s not my brother.” Harry frowns immediately.

“He will be. I wanna make sure he feels like he belongs. Don’t scare him off, okay ?”

Lottie enters the room before Harry can agree. He can see beauty in everything and knows the struggles of looking fresh waking up. That girl was a mess.

Her hair fought in a disturbing ponytail on the side, the bags under her eyes were ready to carry Harry’s books, and her bare feet were red and puffy, fading nail polish screaming to be taken off.

“Good morning love !” Des greets her, accepting her kiss on his cheek.

Harry raises his hand for a high five which she happily accepts before sitting on a stool, grabbing a green apple to munch on. She cringes at the sound of the sauce pan hitting the floor and holds her forehead way to hard to be bothered only by the noise. It didn’t even fall that hard yet Harry can see her hold back tears as she bites her lip behind the apple.

“Rough night ?” Harry smirks, wondering where that actor gene comes from in the Tomlinson family.

“Yeah…” She says spontaneously before shaking her head. “I mean…I…I read a long passage of the Bible before bed. I guess I should have slept earlier…”

“Sure…sure...” Harry nods, sounding comprehensive whilst wondering if he would find a guy in her bedroom as well if Gemma wasn’t sharing it.

Harry leaves the kitchen, once his banana is finished, and goes to his room to drop the backpack he had taken to Liam’s. He’s whistling through the hallway and frowns at the sight of the closed door. It’s usually wide open during the day and it’s too late for Louis to still be sleeping, giving that he lives on a military boot camp routine.

He stops stoic when he opens it, his mouth gaping in a wide ‘o’ in shock.

There, on his bed (his original one), Louis is balancing his laptop on his knees, obscene sounds coming out of it. He’s not wearing a shirt, and, by the way he swapped his hand under the blanket and straightened up with a damped fringe stuck to his forehead, he’s probably not wearing anything altogether.

“Oh. My Fucking. God.” Harry says each word with a brief pause in between.

“What the fuck !” Louis shouts and quickly covers his shaky chest.

“You what the fuck ! Can’t you have your morning wank somewhere el-“

Harry becomes very aware of the quiet voices coming from the screen. He sprints, nearly falling over Louis’ pile of clothes, and grabs the laptop before Louis has a chance to wipe his hands and fight him.

“Oh my…” Harry smiles the way he would for a delicious looking meal.

A tall, nearly bald, muscular young man is pounding into a guy with long hair, pulling hard at it as he fucks the life out of him, slamming his hips against the brunette on his hands and knees.

“Give that back !” Louis finally jumps off the bed, his waist down wrapped in the blanket.

Harry runs around the room with the laptop high enough so Louis can’t reach, and laughs hysterically as he watches the video. He gasps as the one on all fours cries at each pull of his hair and swats Louis’ hands on his back, trying to climb him like a raging kitten.

“So you’re into hair pulling…Finally something likeable about you !” Harry giggles as he keeps getting chased to his newly designated bed, falling on it as he tries to keep watching the video. “Do you like to have your hair pulled like that Boobear ?” Harry coos, dodging each of Louis’ failed punch.

“Stop that !”

“Do you like to get wrecked by a massive co-“ Harry continues to mock, a grumpy cat scratching his way to the laptop.

Louis keeps one hand on the knot of the wrapped blanket up his hips and climbs entirely on Harry, shutting him up with his free hand on his mouth, choking his giggles. He straddles him, securing his blanket before clapping the screen down. He might think he’s won, but Harry just laughs harder and starts moaning in his hand, eyes closed as he re-enacts the video.

“Oh m’yeah ! m’harder ! So buhg !” Harry uses the same voice as the guy in the video and tries to make his words clear under Louis’ hand but it makes him press harder, his knuckles going white.

“Shut up !” Louis shouts as quietly as he can.

“Louis ?...Louis ?” Jay’s voice is coming closer and the both of them look at the open door.

“Yeah ! Coming !” Louis yells back, freeing Harry’s mouth.

“You sure about that ?” Harry chuckles, earning the return of the warm hand that was most definitely touching Louis’ cock moments ago.

“I’ll be downstairs !” Jay calls and walks farther, steps heavy on the cracking wood.

Louis lets go of Harry’s mouth a second time and drops his hands on each side of his head, panting, heart racing with the fear of what his mom would have seen if she had taken three more steps.

“You’re such a prick.” Louis groans, looking down on Harry with the most threatening look he could pull.

“And you’re a horny little weirdo.” Harry puffs, pointing at the closed laptop next to them.

“Watching porn doesn’t make me a weirdo.” Louis says back.

“No. But making up an imaginary chaste girlfriend while you get off to intense gay porn does.”

“You know nothing about me.”

“I know you’re into getting fucked with your hair pulled.” Harry smirks.

“Again. You know nothing.” Louis stares back at him and Harry wonders if he should ask what he needs to know about him, but his eyes are glowing and he gets a bit distracted by the colour.

They stare at each other for a moment, uneven breaths still loud after their fight. Harry breaks the gaze to take a peek at Louis’ torso above him. He first studies his collarbones looking delicate and fragile and his light chest hair curling between his pecs.

He continues to walk his eyes down, landing on the blanket falling low under his hips, tight around his thighs that were blocking Harry’s lower body from moving. He can see the shadow of dark hair when he looks further down and snaps his eyes back up when Louis adjusts the sheet around him.

“I think you can hop off now…” Harry whispers, eyes wandering on Louis’ exposed neck. If he didn’t hate the shit out of him, he’d think it looks soft and silky, perfect to bite and suck and lick and maybe kiss…But he hates him. He’s a ruthless jerk and he deserves no more than nothing.

“Yeah…” Louis whispers back but doesn’t seem to understand the words, eyes stuck on Harry’s lips.

“Or you can…” Harry breathes, watching Louis watch him.

“I could…”

Harry has a spurt of awareness when he smells a foreign odour. It’s the mix of sweat and daisies and maybe a touch of tobacco. He clears his throat and tilts his head back, waiting for Louis to get his naked body away from him before he forgets they’re future brothers who hate each other.

Louis comes back to reality as well and quickly climbs off, cheeks red, incapable of looking at Harry again, even if he looked like he’d spend hours doing just that seconds before.

“I’ll take a shower.” Louis announces nervously and grabs his laptop from the bed to put it on the desk. “If you open it, you’re dead.” And just like that, the angry twat was back again.

“You wouldn’t be strong enough to carry my body.”

Louis flicks him off and disappears behind the bathroom door, taking the longest shower Harry’s ever been next to, completely ignoring his mother calling for him from the living room, probably finishing what Harry had interrupted.

 

 

******

 

 

“So I was thinking we could go to the beach after this ?” Gemma suggests and Harry looks at her, surprised she’s putting any effort into this.

“How lovely ! I’ve heard so many good things about the beach here !” Jay smiles, filling Louis’ plate with bacon, babying him as always.

“Can I tell Liam to come with us ? We’re going out tonight so I’d drive back with him.” Harry asks Des, completely ignoring Jay.

“Sure ! The more the merrier ! Where are you guys going ?”

“In town…To a friend’s house…” Harry mumbles and Des nods, knowing it's the code for club, expecting to see his son passed out on the porch the next morning, but trusting him enough to not be stupid about his choices.

“You should join them Lou !” Jay beams and both Harry and Louis shout an angry ‘no’ in sync.

“I mean…I’m sure Harry wants to catch up with his friends. I wouldn’t want to intrude or anything.”

“And I’m not sure Louis would like staying out so late. He’ll be doing his bedtime prayers by the time we actually go.” Harry says with a fake smile, chuckling politely when Jay agrees. His shin is going to bruise at this rate…

“I’ll go.” Louis challenges.

“Are you sure sweetie ? You’re not used to this-“

“I want to spend time with my br…him. I can manage.” Louis says in the most polite voice.

“Oh, alright…” Jay frowns but doesn’t insist, Des encouraging her to ‘let the kids bond’.

 They eat breakfast talking about the area, the few shops and touristic spots until they're ready to leave.

Louis has been ignoring Harry since the porn incident. He doesn’t reply to what he says and doesn’t look at him, always turning his head when Harry catches him staring. He’s still a jerk when he mocks Harry’s Spiderman cup he took with him for breakfast, kicks his shin when he implies something about Louis enjoying sucking things, and locks him outside the room when he comes back from Liam’s, probably not wanting to repeat what happened the last time he didn’t.

They pack for the beach within an hour, Jay making a few sandwiches and sneaking pastries while Des takes the sunscreen and picnic blanket. Lottie and Gemma are already in the car, chatting endlessly. Harry and Louis join them moments after so they can finally drive.

The sun is fully out, heat not too suffocating, waves at perfect height and wind just light enough. The beach is not too crowded, just a few families enjoying a day out with the kids. The restaurants along the sandy walk are blasting catchy songs and Harry feels rejuvenated when he digs his feet in the sand.

They all settle everything before sitting down on the gigantic beach blanket. Harry takes his Avengers shirt off, making his skin glow under the sunlight, helped by the reflection of his bright yellow shorts, barely descent, but extremely flattering for his legs.

“Wow.” Lottie mutters when she sees Harry’s unique torso this close, or maybe because of his many tattoos inked all over him. She widens her eyes and checks if her mom hasn’t heard her before getting her dress up her head.

The dress might have been abnormally long and baggy, Harry did not expect her to be this covered at the beach. She’s wearing a Speedo one piece, giving no clues to her actual curves, masking everything that makes her feminine.

Louis is no better, baggy black shorts reaching right above his knee, swallowing him and depriving Harry of the sight of his fine ass. He takes a headband from his bag and gets his fringe out of his face, but his mom is quick to scold him.

“Take this off Louis, you look like a girl.” Jay says and the look on Louis’ face is heart breaking as he slowly gets rid of his headband to put it back in his bag.

Harry frowns and is about to contradict her but Liam jumps on his back.

“Li !”

“Hi everyone, nice to see you again !” Liam waves hello and gestures towards the water. “Wanna go for a swim ?”

Harry nods and starts skipping closer to the shore while the rest of the family decides on tanning for a bit first. Gemma joins them a few minutes after and they can finally be who they love being on vacation.

“Poppy is dating a guy who works at Bruno’s, he could get you guys in.” Gemma informs her brother and his friend, who is kind of her brother as well.

“Sweeeeet !” Liam whistles, caressing the water around his waist.

“You two be careful, especially with mini priest. Don’t let him go too far or dad will kill us.” Gemma warns them.

“I’m not responsible for him. He’s an adult, he can take care of himself.” Harry grunts.

“Wow…calm down feisty pants ! What’s wrong with you two ? I’ve never seen you this angry.” Gemma frowns.

“I can’t help it okay. He’s a fucking rude idiot.”

“You’re just jealous you're not the only son anymore.” Gemma teases. “Just because he has different believes it doesn’t make him an idiot…”

Liam and Harry glance at each other, both knowing what hides behind that cover.

When they come out of the water, Lottie and Louis are chatting on the blanket. The three of them join the two and crowd them, Lottie giggling happily as Gemma whispers something about the group of boys looking at her. Louis and Liam engage in a conversation about surf, and Harry feels a bit lost so he just lays down, rolling his shorts up a bit to avoid any tan line disaster. He crosses his arms under his head, resting on Liam’s lap as he chats with Louis.

He mentally thanks his friend for playing with his hair while he talks because there’s just something about someone touching his hair that makes him very, very relaxed. He can hear their conversation and doesn’t focus much on it until he hears his name coming from Louis’ mouth, realizing he doesn’t really get to hear it like that very much.

“Talking about me ?” Harry opens one eye, not looking at anything but the clear sky.

“I was just saying how you should grow up a bit.”

“Excuse me…What ?!” Harry turned to lay on his stomach, hair slapping his face with the wind.

“You have a ridiculous amount of superhero themed useless stuff. And what’s with the ripped blankie you sleep with ?”

“That’s bold coming from a twenty-two year old mommy’s boy.”

They stare at each other in fury, pursing their lips to keep words in.

“Oh…Okay…Um…” Liam stutters, uncomfortable between the two talking with their eyes.

“You’re loud.” Harry says as if they’ve started a contest in silence.

“You’re clumsy.” Louis shoots back.

“You’re messy.”

“You’re too curious.”

“So are you.”

A brief silence settles after that, both of them still trying to shoot lasers from their pupils.

“Boys ! we’re gonna get ice creams, do you want anything ?” Des asks, clueless to the bickering happening.

“I’ll have a vanilla cone please !” Liam says.

“We’ll have a Calippo please. Thanks.” Harry says, shielding his eyes from the sun when he looks up. His dad nods and doesn’t wait for Louis’ objection to reach the ice cream stand.

“The f- what even is a Calippo ?!” Louis asks, confused as to why Harry chose for him.

“Oh, you’ll love it.” Harry smirks, already picturing his ‘brother’ sucking on the penis shaped iced stick.

“There you go ! I wasn’t sure about the flavour so I got lime for you Harry, and I figured you’d like strawberry ?” Des hands the ice pop to Louis, nodding politely and accepting the subjectively shaped treat.

“You’re such an idiot.” Louis puffs when he unwraps the red stick, regretting saying yes to his stepdad.

Liam and Harry chuckle and starts sucking on their own ice cream. Harry winces at the sour flavour, but keeps sucking the top slowly before getting a bit more in. It’d been a while since he had one of those, so he sort of moans happily whilst sucking, closing his eyes as he bobs his head up and down, completely forgetting what he’s doing is not that family friendly.

When he opens his eyes, getting the freezie product out of his mouth with a loud kissing noise, Louis had been staring. His candy hasn’t been touched yet and his lips are kept ajar against the red ice.

“I’d teach you how to suck, but I’m pretty sure you know how it works so…” Harry remarks when he sees Louis still hasn’t tasted the Calippo.

Harry watches as Louis brings his thin lips to the ice pop, wrapping entirely around it, walking the tip of his tongue noticeable against the stick, leaving a trace of saliva that immediately shines. When he decides he likes the taste, he pulls away before really going for it, suddenly hollowing his cheeks as he moves his head, eyes squinting with the sun in his eyes.

He keeps sucking, his lips progressively getting the shade of the strawberry, red soft lips wrapped around the snack.

Harry resumes sucking on his own, not leaving Louis’ mouth as he takes the whole thing effortlessly, licking his lips every time it pops out.

Harry thought getting him to suck on that thing was enough revenge, thinking he’d be embarrassed to eat it in public, inches away from his mother, but he’s actually enjoying it with no hesitation, even letting a few ‘mmh’ escape his fruity lips, and it's starting to backfire in Harry's face.

“Do you like it ?” Harry asks, low enough for only Louis to hear, Liam eating his cone whilst talking to the girls.

“Yeah…” Louis breathes, finally making eye contact with him, making Harry swallow and focus on his glossy red lips.

“I figured.” Harry is almost out of breath just from watching that guy hollow his cheeks, exposing his cheekbones ready to cut wood...or tighten around it…whatever.

“It’s a bit thin though. I’d really like it bigger.” Louis says with a subjective voice and Harry gulps.

“Your tiny mouth wouldn’t take it.” Harry giggles to mask the growing butterflies in his stomach and his now uncomfortable shorts.

“You’d be surprised what my mouth can take.” Louis says back, locking his eyes with Harry’s as he licks from his fist to the tip of the frozen stick.

Harry would have loved to keep this going and say something, but he can feel his dick twitch under him and he’s not ready to scare children on the beach. He coughs and wraps his candy, unable to eat anymore. He sets it aside and rests his head on his crossed arms, enjoying the heat on his back.

“Did you want it this long ?” Louis asks and Harry’s not too sure what he’s referring to so he waits. Louis reaches for Harry’s swinging fringe only to drop it back down, still making unbearable noises with his mouth sliding up and down that evil stick.

“Yes. Why ?”

“Dunno.” Louis shrugs, twisting a curl around his finger.

“Looks too feminine for you ?” Harry rolls his eyes.

“No. It looks…good.”

“Did you just say something nice ? To me ?” Harry gasps dramatically.

“Calm down princess I’m not saying you’re not a idiot. I’m just saying you’re an idiot with nice hair.” Louis says, continuing to play with Harry's hair and suck on his frozen stick.

Harry ponders the compliment and enjoys the light tug at his hair. He suddenly throws his head up with his mouth wide open and eyes as big, coming to a very unexpected to conclusion as Louis lets go of his hair.

“You don’t like getting your hair pulled…You like to pull it !” Harry exclaims and Louis has to put his hand on his mouth to shut him up.

“No I don’t.” Louis says with the most nervous voice, taking his hand off.

“Liar ! You do !” Harry studies Louis’ annoyed face, licking his lips before pushing him further. “I bet you like to be in control. You can’t control what you do in your life so you’re a control freak in bed, fucking guys hard to cope with-”

“Fuck you.” Louis snaps, dropping his iced stick on the blanket and standing up, rushing away from Harry who’s left confused and a bit flustered.

“Everything okay here ?” Liam asks, squeezing Harry’s shoulder.

“I don’t know…” Harry says, pensive.

 

Harry doesn’t know if everything is okay. He doesn’t know if it’s okay to get hard to the sight of his future stepbrother eating an ice cream, doesn’t know if it’s okay to feel weird things about him when he hates everything about him, doesn’t know if it’s okay to keep so many secrets, and he really doesn’t know if it’s okay to feel all warm inside when his soon to be brother says his name.

 

 

******

 

 

When Louis fled to the water and didn’t speak to him the rest of the day, Harry figured he wouldn’t be coming along with Liam. So when he emerged out of nowhere and threw his back in the backseat before climbing in Liam’s car, Harry was left a bit speechless.

They headed to Andy’s place, Liam’s cousin who lives right up the club’s street. He owns dozens of expensive designer clothes that’ll make Liam and Harry – and now Louis – blend in with ease.

“I’m not wearing this.” Louis huffs.

“Fine. Go home then.” Harry challenges, still a bit taken aback by Louis’ anger towards him after being remotely nice for the first time.

Louis groans and takes the black skinny jeans and see through shirt from him, towel wrapped around his waist and hair a bit damped from the shower he had moments ago. He goes in the back of the walk in closet and Harry would be lying if he said he didn’t think about glancing at the mirror reflecting Louis’ body. He controlled himself though, turning to button his yellow floral shirt.

“I’m not going out like this.” Louis’ voice echoed in the closet.

“Come over here !” Harry sings, joined by Liam all dressed up in fancy jeans, moccasins and shirt with the sleeved rolled up. He looked a bit like a rich daddy and Harry shook his head in disbelief, wondering when they became adults.

“I’m telling you, the jeans are too tight, you can see too much through that shirt and these shoes are one size too big.” Louis complains as he erupts from the back. "So ? What do you think ?"

Harry knows Louis is talking to him as well but he can’t bring himself to speak up.

His jeans are even better than the ones he was wearing the first times he saw him. His thighs are nicely fitted and his ankles look more beautiful than regular ankles, thin and tanned and weirdly hypnotizing. His torso is subtly showing through the black tee shirt, loose above his waist and coming right above the jeans, exposing the curve down his back in full glory.

“You look fit mate !” Andy cheered.

“Yeah you look alright, can we go now ? I don’t wanna miss Martin Solveig !” Liam rushes his friends, not really struck by Louis’ unique body, which is a shame in Harry’s mind.

“Wait, I just have to do my hair and then we’re good.” Louis says, jogging to bathroom to grab Andy's hairspray, getting a stylishly messy nest on his head.

They finally get to the club minutes after, all dressed up and smelling expensive and narcissistic, which they will be for the night.

Harry doesn’t take too long before attracting a group of men about his age gathered around a table where two of the most expensive bottles of champagne are pouring. He is extremely happy to spot the handsome Latino guy from church who winks at him. He smiles back, adjusts his shirt, and starts walking seductively to the bar.

“Styles…” The man with the tanned skin and shiny black hair smirks and Harry frowns, not remembering him from anywhere.

“Do we know each other ?” Harry asks politely. The man chuckles and orders two cocktails, getting closer to whisper in Harry’s ear.

“Diego.”

“Still not ringing a bell...” Harry frowns in concentration, bringing the glass to his lips as he watches the people around the tables, investing their wealth in temporary fame and fake friends.

“You’d have to picture me with less hair and more mud…”

“Diego !” Harry exclaims.

They had been to summer camp together when they were fifteen. Diego’s father worked with Des until he quit the office to set up his own company, building a real estate empire that made his family move to Singapore, never coming to Nice again.

Diego wasn’t just Harry’s summer camp mate though…They had been each other’s first kiss and had went through many other first times after that.

“There you go.”

“You…wow…I didn’t recognize you there !” Harry grinned and hugged his old friend.

“Me neither actually, until you let out that cackle in church that is…”

Harry was suddenly reminded of half the reason of his laughter that day. He scanned the tables and stools and didn’t find who he was looking for.

“So, what brings you here ?” Harry asks, trying not to think about the worst scenario his twat of a stepbrother might be involved in right now.

“Family. My sister is getting married so I flew back here, enjoying the summer and fancy nights…and the cute former summer camp partners in crime of course.”

“Of course…” Harry licks his lips, dragging his eyes to Diego’s.

They keep catching up about those five years apart and shamelessly flirt and tease each other with a light pinch on the hips and subtle shoulder squeezes. Diego is just as Harry remembers him, cheeky grin and mesmerizing eyes. He even playfully holds on to Harry’s lower back, comfort of their teenage years surfacing.

“Are you here alone ?” Diego asks, tucking a lock of hair behind Harry’s ear with his thumb, elbow on the bar.

“I’m with Liam and Andy. And my…um…the son of my dad’s fiancée.”

“Oh, stepbrother is here, huh ?” Diego smiles and Harry wants the word ‘brother’ forbidden as a way to describe Louis. He shrugs and leans back on the counter, drinking the last drop of his second cocktail.

Diego leans in when Harry sets his glass down, smirking against his cheek as he whispers sweet memories into his ear. Harry giggles and lets him kiss his ear as he speaks, enjoying his thick French accent he had fallen for when he was younger. He looks ahead briefly and frowns when sees a very loud, very drunk Louis chatting with a tall stranger with rather long hair, the thought making his stomach twist.

He lets Diego kiss his neck as he watches Louis rest a hand on the guy’s thigh when they sit, whisper something over the music, laugh dramatically for something Harry just knows is not that funny... He drinks glasses after glasses of champagne and wraps an arm around the young man next to him, gently stroking his hair, and Harry feels his jaw clench involuntarily.

When Louis turns and meets Harry’s eyes, the latter doesn’t turn away. He watches him as Diego squeezes his hip and talks into his ear and kisses his neck. Louis keeps staring at him as he strokes the guy’s hair, petting his head when he leans in and nuzzles in the crook of his neck and massages his thigh.

Harry bites his lip and tilts his head further on the side, exposing his neck completely for Diego to suck on. Louis does the same and makes a show to bring the blond guy’s hand up on his leg, dangerously close to his crotch as he keeps combing his hair.

Diego tries moving his hand up but Harry brings it back down, making him tug at his belt as Louis watches. The latter moves the man’s hand right above his crotch, never getting his eyes off Harry. He lets the hand buried in the blond guy’s hair fall on the couch, probably enjoying him walking his hand over his zipper a bit too much. Everything gets a bit blurry after that though, because the guy reaches behind Louis to touch his arse and Harry feels a bit dizzy.

There’s an overwhelming heat choking him and he finally detaches his eyes from Louis to turn his head, allowing Diego to steal a chaste kiss without notice, leaving him a bit more surprised than he should be. His old friend cups his cheek and kisses again, slowly parting Harry’s lips with his thumb, ready to let his tongue lick Harry’s.

Harry starts parting his lips and leans back to deepen the kiss, but a loud splash of glass breaks the moment. A few feet away, a bottle of champagne is scattered everywhere.

“Are you fucking insane ?!” The blond guy Louis was previously about to hook up with yells, making everyone turn to stare.

Harry sees Louis’ face turn red as he runs out of the club. He didn’t say anything when he left Diego’s side, ignoring him walking behind, clearly offended, and chased Louis outside. He runs after him down the street, dodging the few passers not to lose sight of him, yelling when he crosses the street without even looking for potential cars.

“Louis ! Louis !” Harry calls him, making him stop in his steps. Louis stretches his arm for the coming taxi and hops in. Harry catches the door just in time and joins him on the backseat.

He gives his address and waits for Louis to stop staring out the window to face him instead, in vain. Harry stays silent, watching the street lights on the sidewalk, pinching his bottom lip between his fingers, the feeling of Diego’s lips already far gone.

"Why did you come after me ?” Louis broke the silence. Harry turned only to see his face still shining under the lights from outside.

“I don’t know.”

“Why were you watching me ?” Louis asked, taking a deep breath.

“I don’t know.” Harry says again. “Why were you watching me ?”

“I don’t know.”

They continue the ride in silence and Harry pays the driver when they arrive, not letting Louis get his hands out of his pocket quick enough to do so.

They walk on the gravel in silence and the air is heavier than usual. They left their bags in Liam’s car, and will have to return the clothes they’re wearing, but all Harry can think about is why Louis threw a bottle on the ground, and why he, himself, cares so much about the reason.

They tiptoe their way to the bedroom, careful not to wake up anyone since it’s two in the morning and they’re not in the mood to face Jay and her judging eyes.

They undress in silence, Louis only in his black boxers when he lays down under the covers. Harry wants to make a comment on it, asking why he doesn’t bother wearing his onesie. Instead, he folds his clothes on the chest drawer and gets in his own bed.

He’s staring at the ceiling, hands on his chest, craving answers and just some kind of sound coming from across the room.

“You blew up my shag you know…” Harry tries, far from what he really wants to say.

“You blew up mine. So I don’t feel bad.”

“How though ? S'not my fault you destroyed a twenty-five thousand euro champagne bottle.” Harry puffed.

“You’re such a prick.” Louis says as if it answers everything.

“And you’re fucking hard to understand. Can’t you just be yourself and stop lying to everyone and be so fucking scared to speak up ?!” Harry leans on his side, a bit fed up with the whole ‘none of your business’ act.

Louis doesn’t say anything, keeping his eyes up and his arms crossed under his head. He sighs and Harry can almost hear his trembling voice crack out of his throat when he tries to speak.

“I know I’m a piece of shit. No need to remind me.” Louis says but Harry doesn’t really feel great hearing how broken he sounds.

“You’re not. You’re a first class knob, sure…but not a total piece of shit. I guess.” Harry murmurs.

A moment passes and Harry thinks Louis is fast asleep when he speaks again.

“His hair was greasy.” Louis says simply. 

“You didn’t seem too bothered when he was caressing your dick though…” 

“He rubbed me like a fucking robot. I’m just nice.”

“Bullshit…” Harry chuckled and pauses for a moment. “How do you usually like it ?” He asks before he can trap the words in. "I mean, you're probably too demanding."

“I don’t know…I like it gentle, slow teasing instead of rushing it roughly.” Louis said before clearing his throat. “ Sorry. That was a bit too much information.”

“S’okay.” 

Half an hour had passed and they were still awake, both playing with their fingers or tossing and turning. Harry decided to give up trying to sleep and grabbed his laptop, directly opened on Netflix. He figured he might as well watch a few episodes of Friends. He sat the laptop on his chest and tried to remember where he had put his headphones before realizing they were in his bag in Liam’s car.

“Hey…um…Do you mind if I watch Friends ?” He asks Louis, expecting a middle finger and dry ‘no’.

“Sure.” Louis shrugs and Harry doesn’t really know what to do next because he’s not used to this calm side of him. He presses play and is singing the theme song quietly when he hears Louis curse and suddenly feel him slide through his own comforter with a pillow.

“What are you doing ?”

“I can’t sleep. I like Friends. Now scoot over, giant.” Louis says, slightly less angry and more playful than usual. Harry crawls closer to the wall, letting Louis lay down next to him. It’s a single bed so it gets a bit crowded, but it’s not unpleasant.Far from it.

Harry tries to focus on the screen but Louis is laughing loud in his hand and smiling all the way through and saying a few lines over the characters, so he can’t really stop looking at him. His head is slightly lower than Harry’s and his hand is lazily resting on his chest to make more room, brushing lightly against his own skin when he giggles.

He places the arm on Louis’ side under his head and lets his head flop on it, his nose scrunching when he gets a bit of Louis’ hair near his nostrils. It smells like coconut and Harry smiles at the thought of him using his conditioner after giving him a twenty minute speech on how useless it was.

He must have fallen asleep briefly because, when he looks at the screen, all he sees is his refection, and Louis’.

Louis’ head is resting on Harry’s chest, an arm around his middle. He doesn’t dare moving, doesn’t dare breathing too heavily. He carefully pushes down the screen and kicks the laptop at his feet, not risking rolling Louis over to set it somewhere safer.

His bent arm is a bit numb so he has no other choice but to lay it around Louis’ shoulders slouching into his side. He sweeps his hair a bit under his chin to not choke on coconut, and panics a bit when Louis moves. Instead of jumping at the realization of him napping on Harry’s chest, he slides a leg between Harry’s and clings to his body like a koala.

Harry ignores the goosebumps making his chest clench and just digs his mouth into Louis’ hair, closing his eyes as they fall asleep tightly holding onto each other.

 

When he wakes up, he’s alone in the room. He rubs his eyes and walks his hand on his chest, feeling the ghost of Louis’ body, wondering how the fuck he’ll handle feeling something this overwhelming for his scumbag of a brother, and wanting nothing more than to burn in the heat his body left...

 

 

Chapter Text

“I’m telling you mate, we’re not going back there anytime soon.” Liam sighs, throwing his basket ball and catching it as he lays down on the garden bench.

 

They were both dressed to go out, but had ended up chatting outside wondering where they could go.

 

“The guy Andy introduced Louis to knew the owner and made sure none of us would ever step into that club again. What even happened ?”

 

Harry shrugs, still not too sure about that answer. All he knows is that he’s not even that mad to get black listed from the club, not when he got to sleep so well that night…

 

He’s extremely close to telling him about the shared bed when they hear a familiar shake of bushes. They quickly get up and hide behind the highest wall coming to their forehead. They stand on their toes and try to peek through the night and see what’s going on.

 

They had been spying on Lottie every time they played basketball in Liam’s garden. She would always sneak out of her room, get to the garden, and walk on the grass instead of the gravel to go through the crooked door next to the gate, never noticing them play behind the wall.

 

Tonight though, they would satisfy their curiosity and follow her wherever she was heading. They waited for the car to be far enough but not too much, and started Liam’s car, following at a safe distance to not get caught.

 

The black Porsche that had picked up Lottie at the house stopped in front of a club Liam and Harry knew very well. They would always go there when they were underage, knowing most bartenders easily gave drinks without checking IDs, discretely escaping the looks of the few regular customers that happened to be cops.

 

They waited for her to get out of the car and clasped each other’s hands together in shock when they saw three guys and a girl with her, looking like the trouble makers every parent warned about.

 

She was wearing a tight black dress coming mid thigh, plunging neckline and high heels that explained her puffy red mini sausages of toes in the morning. She had expertly painted her face with make up and chosen the longest fake lashes that made the metallic blue of her eyes stand out. She was nothing like the Lottie Harry had seen, and she looked even more beautiful than usual.

 

They parked in the corner and entered the place, waving at a few familiar faces, before hiding from Lottie’s sight.

 She lets two of the guys she came with sandwich her on the dance floor, grinding on her as she giggles non stop. Harry had no idea what to do, who to warn, or what to smash. He somehow felt like they were touching his little sister, and a strong desire to knock them unconscious spurted into his chest.

 

Liam got them drinks and they were planning on spending the night discretely looking after her, but one of the blokes pulled her against his chest a bit too harsh and she tried jerking away without success. He didn’t let her escape from his embrace and pulled her right back against his crotch despite her weak yet very clear disapproval, and that’s about all Harry and Liam could take before ganging up on the guy.

 

“I believe she doesn’t want to dance anymore.” Harry said, pulling Lottie with a hand behind her back to hide her behind him.

 

She looked a bit weak and was surprised to see them, but apparently not enough to say anything, making Harry frown in confusion. She giggled into Liam’s chest when she tripped over to him and Harry took one look at her red eyes and the smirks on those guys’ faces to get it.

 

“You drugged her?!”

 

The two guys shrugged, smug expression on their faces when they started talking to each other in French, completely ignoring Harry and Liam.

 

Bande d’enculés ! “ Harry yelled in their face, shocking the two guys convinced he didn’t understand them. They had just bragged about giving her a drug usually used by rapists and Harry had just caught them.

 

When the other girl with them raised a brow, clearly in the loop and not intoxicated at all, Harry cracked his neck and just walked out of there, Lottie slowly passing out in Liam’s arms.

 

He was not a fighter, and even a group of stupid criminals couldn’t make him risk losing his temper and end up in the precinct. He didn’t forget, however, to warn the two men he knew to avoid  when he was younger that two underage rapists were walking around with alcohol and drugs, pointing at them as they tried to flee, gladly in vain.

 

They carry Lottie to Liam’s car and Harry sits next to her in the backseat while Liam drives them to the hospital. They knew that kind of drug should only last a few hours and just make her dizzy, but they had no idea how much she had in her system or how she would react, so they decided not to take any risks.

 

Harry is holding her tight in his arms while she whispers nonsense and starts to drift away slowly. He tries to keep her awake, not wanting her to fall into a coma or worse, terrified by the lack of life in her eyes.

 

When they get to the ER within twenty minutes, Harry lifts one of her arms around his neck and slips his arm under her knees to carry her inside as quickly as possible. They’re lucky there’re only four people waiting that don’t seem to be dying, and rush to the first nurse they see to explain everything.

 

He takes one look at her and brings a stretcher to lay her down. He checks her pulse and the state of her eyes and tries talking to her with no reaction before calling another nurse.

 

They gesture for Harry and Liam to wait in the room while they check on her after seeing how panicked they look, unable to not crowd the professionals to make sure she’s alright.

 

They sit down, waiting for the nurse to call them, and Harry tries to not remember what the smell of this room reminds him of.

 

“She’s going to be okay.” Liam squeezes Harry’s shoulder and pulls him in his side to rub his arm, knowing this can’t be an easy time for him.

 

He can’t help remembering the day everything changed. The empty seats around him are too similar to the ones he was climbing to occupy himself while they were trying to determine if his mom was going to live or not. The sound of the vending machine brings him back to his sister getting him crisps as they waited, and the sound of ambulances outside is ringing in his ears.

 

“I should’ve beaten them up.” Liam says, still angry Harry forced him to let this in the hands of the two police men without a fight.

 

“But then we wouldn’t be here for just one person.” Harry remarks and Liam doesn’t argue.

 

When the nurse calls them after an hour and gesture for them to follow him, Harry takes a deep breath, glad Liam is holding him by the waist, ready to catch him whenever.

 

They walk along a row of temporary beds before reaching Lottie’s. Her eyes are closed and she looks way more peaceful than moments ago.

 

“She must’ve taken a significantly small amount. There’s not an alarming trace of the drug in her body. She will feel a bit nauseous for a while, but she should be fine. She just needs some rest and a lot of water. Now, are you sure nothing happened before you arrived ?”

 

Harry and Liam look at each other in horror, but figure there was no way something could have happened just on the short drive to the club. They had kept their eyes on her the whole time in the club and she had done nothing but dance and chat with the group.

 

“I don’t think so.” Harry shakes his head.

 

“Well, if something did happen, please be sure to signal it as soon as possible, especially since you know who would be responsible. You should also make sure she understands what happened and what could have happened.” The nurse explains and excuses himself when he walks away towards another patient.

 

“I’m sure nothing happened Haz.” Liam says, seeing the concern on his friend’s face.

 

“Lottie…” Harry sighs as he sweeps her blond hair across her forehead. “What were you thinking…”

 

“Mmh…” Lottie hums and flutters her eyes open under Harry’s hand.

 

“Hi there.” Harry tilts his head, pursing his lips, and gives her a small smile.

 

“How are you feeling ?” Liam asks, hands in his pockets.

 

“Stupid ?” Lottie huffs. She sits up, wincing all the way up, and leans her head on the pillow behind her.

 

“You’re not stupid. You were incredibly irresponsible and scared the crap out of us, but you’re not stupid. They are.” Harry says, earning a weak smile as she brings her head down, staring at her fingers fidgeting with the lace on her dress.

 

“I just wanted to have fun and hang out with friends...”

 

“How do you even know those guys ?” Harry asks when Liam leaves to get some snacks from the vending machine.

 

“I met one of them online. Nothing sketchy, just chatting on Tumblr and stuff. He told me he lived here so when Des invited us I started making plans with him and his friends. They seemed cool and we chatted over Skype and stuff so I was looking forward to it…”

 

“Did…” Harry starts but needs more strength to ask. “Did they do something to you ?”

 

“No ! No…” She says immediately, frowning. “It was the first time I accepted a drink in the car. I remember everything except the drive here.”

 

“But why wouldn’t you warn anyone ? What would we do if we didn’t find you in your bed tomorrow, with no idea of where you are ?”

 

“I didn’t want my mom to find out…”

 

“Well, you could have come to me or Gemma, or Louis…”

 

“I didn’t want to get anyone in trouble for me. I just…” Lottie sighs and drops her head backwards. “I’m just so tired of being the good little girl who’s never kissed a guy and is called ‘uptight’ or a ‘nun’ all the time. I jus thought that, if I hooked up with a guy, then I wouldn’t be the weirdo anymore…and maybe have more friends back home…”

 

“Look at me.” Harry uses his serious ‘let me teach you something’ voice and waits for Lottie to look up before continuing. “You don’t need to justify your worth by how many times you kissed a boy. Unless his lips are magical and will turn you into an  instant goddess, I see no reason to force yourself to do something you’re not ready for yet.”

 

She drops her eyes back down, biting her bottom lip.

 

“But people make fun of virgins and I’m sick of being judged for choosing to wait until marriage.”

 

“But who cares about what people think ? No guy’s dick is important enough to define you.” Harry says, a bit raw, but he means every word and she doesn’t flinch so he figures she’s not taken aback by his choice of words. “If you want to wait until you meet someone you truly trust and see your future with, then do it. If you want to go for the cute guy you meet at a party, then go for it. No matter what you do, as long as you’re comfortable with it, then it’s really no one else’s business.”

 

“You say that like you didn’t laugh when Lou and I said we’d stay virgins, or judge the way I dress…” Lottie frowns. Harry takes a moment before answering that, knowing she’s right.

 

“I know. I’m sorry about that, I shouldn’t have laughed, I’m just not used to it I guess… And I admit I was a bit surprised by your clothes.” Harry confesses. “But I saw the way you looked at Gemma’s and I saw the sort of defeat when you spoke about chastity. It’s like it’s not even your choice, like you’re forbidden to explore and find what you like or something.”

 

“I knew you weren’t like us !” Lottie smiles, pouting gladly discovering he didn’t share the same views as her family. “ But I just don’t want my mom to think I’m turning into a slut or something.”

 

“Do you hear yourself ?” Harry chuckles quietly, unable to get why this family can’t stand being themselves. “Since when wearing clothes you like and finding yourself makes you a slut ?”

 

Lottie kept her head down as if to question everything she’d thought so far.

 

“Will you tell my mom about this ?”

 

“Not if you don’t want me to.” Harry smiles and she smiles back as a thank you. “But never hesitate to call me if you ever find yourself in a situation like this. Or Gemma. She saved me from many situations that could have ended very, very badly for me. And I’m sure Louis would rush to you in less than a second.”

 

Lottie nods and wipes the few tears that started showing in the corner of her eyes, giving up on trying to keep her make up from getting smudged.

 

“Does he know about your little midnight adventures ?”

 

“No. He’d kill me ! Or my friends...” Lottie shakes her head no vigorously. “I didn’t want him to worry about me. He’s always getting in trouble for me and I didn’t want to see him take the blame once again.”

 

Liam returns with his hands full of chocolate bars and Gatorades as Harry give a wry smile, weirdly pleased by the idea that Louis would do anything for her.

 

“S’all they had…” Liam shrugs in apology and sets everything at the foot of the bed.

 

“Thank you !” Lottie beams and picks up a Twix bar to unwrap.

 

“Are you feeling better ?” Liam sits on the bed next to Lottie’s covered feet and grabs a bag of M&M’s.

 

“Much better yeah.” Lottie smiles at him with her mouth full. Harry drags the chair he spotted a few beds away and opens a Kinder Bueno as he sits down.

 

Lottie is suddenly exposing her teeth with a bright smile and Harry and Liam feel like they’re missing out on something, raising a brow at each other.

 

“This reminds me of the time I broke my arm.” Lottie giggles. “I had heard Louis make plans with his friends to go skate and I had a crush on one of them at the time, so, as the twelve year old who thought she had found love, I blackmailed him so he’d take me with him. He was checking on me the whole time and made sure his friends looked after me as well. I was so happy because my crush wasn’t leaving my side… Sure, it was more like a brother duty to him, but I was still hyped.”

 

“Anyway, Louis didn’t want me to skate because he knew I had no sense of balance and would fall face first on the cement. So I waited for him to be too focused on his sick tricks…” She uses her brother’s voice and wiggles her hands doing ‘westside ‘signs, making Harry and Liam laugh. “…while his friends were cheering for him and not watching me for a split second. Unfortunately, he was completely right to not let me go on that thing, because I rolled in the worst way possible and literally flew in the air to fall hard on my left arm.”

 

“Ouch !” Harry and Liam wince in unison.

 

“I know ! I was screaming and my arm was turning purple, so we went to the ER and, because a friend of our mom’s worked there, she arrived within minutes.” Lottie takes another bite of her chocolate bar, unbothered by the biscuit crumbling on her lap as she talks. “When she saw me, she was furious. She yelled at me and turned red scolding me for going out without permission and blah blah blah...”

 

“So Louis told her it was his fault. He told her he was trying to teach me and that he thought I was steady enough. He said he made me come with him to the skate park and that I had nothing to be blamed for. She took away his laptop, his games, even his phone, and grounded him for a whole month. He was in year thirteen so he could just go to school and go home. Nothing else.”

 

“That was nice of him ! I’m not sure I would’ve done that for my sis…” Liam exclaims, finishing his second bag of chocolate covered peanuts. Harry is leaning on the bed with his chin resting on his crossed arms, trying not to smile too much at the story to not look even more interested than he should be.

 

“Yeah…I didn’t even get grounded or anything because she thought I had been influenced by him. The good part is, when I got my cast, he drew sick designs on it and told me that, whatever happens, it was us against the world – meaning my mom.” She chuckles. “He drew a ‘CT’ on it and told me he was a superhero whose only job was to protect me. Captain Tommo.”

 

Liam has his adorable smile when Lottie finishes the story and Harry’s heart feels a bit too tingly. He finally understands why Lottie sometimes called her brother ‘Captain Tommo’ and he was seeing another side of the guy he thought was incapable of altruism.

 

They fill out a discharge form and other things, given that she’s under eighteen, and Harry smiles a bit too much when she tells the nurse he can sign them for her since he’s her brother.

 

They wait for Lottie to be fully able to walk and head back home around three in the morning, glad the whole thing happened early in the night to avoid walking into Jay and Des.

 

Lottie thanks Harry and Liam and hugs them before quietly going in her room. Harry isn’t tired though, so he offers Liam a beer in the kitchen. The latter is a bit too tired however, so he hugs Harry goodbye and heads home, cussing loudly in the garden, surely remembering he actually has keys and doesn’t need to climb the fence to go inside.

 

Harry opens the fridge to take a beer but spots the bottle of Vodka on the shelf, and figures he could use a shot…or four. He’s not too keen on drinking by himself, but he’d rather drink away the feeling he’s been dealing with since he arrived here.

 

After their rather eventful night, Louis had been avoiding Harry, once again. But this time, he would just leave the room whenever he walked in, give him his back when he slept, and refuse to team up with him for any familial activity. It’s like he was trying to pretend Harry just didn’t exist.

 

Harry should be unbothered or indifferent, but he’s just full on hurt. Add that to the fact that he’s slowly finding out that Louis might be more human than he thought he was and the fact that he just spent hours in the ER trying not to replay the worst day of his life in his head, and you’d find him lying on the kitchen floor with a glass on his chest, wondering when his number one concern stopped being how many marshmallows he could actually eat before it killed him.

 

He’s thinking about the other night at the club and the way Louis looked at him. He thinks about the expression he had on his face, like he was daring him to touch Diego, daring him to give attention to someone other than him…

 

He thinks about the story Lottie told in the hospital and pictures him trying to convince his sister he could save her from anything. He thinks about the way he slept on his chest, hot breath and soft hair and light stubble gently leaving its marks on him.

 

He’s thinking about how wrong everything is when he hears quiet footsteps and suddenly finds himself lying on the tiled floor next to someone.

 

“Oh my god ! When will you learn to stop spreading your legs everywhere ?!” Louis grunts. Harry just ignores him and sits up to pour another glass of Vodka, chugging it down before leaning his back against the cupboard next to him.

 

“Doing shots alone ?” Louis asks when he stands up, grabbing a bottle of water in the fridge.

 

“Sorry, are you talking to me ?” Harry asks dramatically, making Louis roll his eyes.

 

“You see someone else here ?”

 

“Don’t know, you’ve been giving more attention to the cereal box than me so…Are you doing shots alone Coco ?” Harry engages a conversation with a cartoon chimp on the table and yes, this is when he knows he’s had a bit too much to drink.

 

“Harry.” Louis says firmly and Harry pretends this doesn’t satisfy a small part of him he wasn’t aware was needy for something.

 

They don’t say anything more as Louis drinks from his bottle and Harry plays with the glass on the floor.

 

“I think I’m drunk.” Harry giggles and blissfully grins, stumbling when he tries to get on his feet.

 

“Woah, woah, easy there Bambi !” Louis catches him and wraps an arm around his waist to sit him down in the nearest chair, but Harry just slides on the floor, bringing Louis with him progressively.

 

They lean their back against the cupboards behind them and Harry almost whines when Louis unwraps his arm from him. He just sits there and watches him, looking at the way the moonlight through the windows reflects on his cheek in the unlit kitchen.

 

His hand aches to adjust the hair sticking out over his ear and he doesn’t know whether he’ll get those long lashes out of his mind so soon when Louis turns to face him with his eyes on the floor.

 

“I freaked out.” Louis murmurs out of nowhere, resting his head against the cupboard. “I woke up in your bed…and I freaked out.”

 

Harry would normally nod or ask more questions or even accept the confession, but instead he giggles and taps Louis’ button nose, making him look up.

 

“Your eyelashes are sooooooo long !” Harry exclaims, almost dribbling when he keeps his mouth open like he’s in shock.

 

“What ?” Louis chuckles, probably amused by Harry’s dramatic voice.

 

“And your hair looks so soft…” Harry continues in ecstasy. “It’s like feathers, but better. SO much bettah !”

 

“You’re truly disturbed.” Louis giggles, hiding his soft smile behind the back of his hand.

 

He looks nothing like what Harry’s used to. Nothing like the tough looking guy he met, and nothing like the quiet and polite character he’s been impersonating. He looks like a tiny hedgehog that would easily roll into a ball and let Harry keep him in his pocket.

 

“I think I am.” Harry whispers, a tad more serious.

 

He must be truly deranged to be getting lost in Louis’ eyes, disturbed for starting to feel an overwhelming warmth whenever he’s around him and crazy to think about him the way he does.

 

Louis scans Harry with his shiny eyes, looking ever so striking in the dark, and raises a hand to Harry’s face. He carefully brushes his fingertips along Harry’s cheek, as if going harder would make him disappear. He doesn’t move them, just touches Harry’s skin, feeling the heat radiating from his flushed cheek.

 

He drops them quickly after, but Harry has just been introduced to something he’d do anything to feel again. He already misses those fingers barely touching him, misses the breeze they created when they left, and misses Louis’ hot breath when he sighed slowly against his face.

 

“Do that again.” Harry whispers as he closes his eyes. “Please.”

 

The room is silent and too dark to make out anything but Louis’ glistening eyes. Harry is about to convince himself he’s just imagined the touch, but Louis’ fingers are suddenly back on his face without warning.

 

This time, he drags them all the way to reach the corner of Harry’s mouth. Harry parts his lips a little and squints his eyes, as if Louis’ touch was painful, except it’s painfully soothing. It’s like he’s being touched by the sharpest needle that somehow feels like the most delicate petal.

 

Louis’ thumb rests on Harry’s chin as his index traces a line on Harry’s bottom lip, following the curve and stopping briefly. Harry purses his lips against Louis’ fingertip and leaves a light kiss, his lips taking forever to fully pull away.

 

He repeats the peck again, taking more of Louis’ finger this time, the tip of his tongue threatening to slightly lick before backing off, and showing again, leaving the tiniest wet spot on Louis’ index.

 

“Harry we shouldn’t-“ Louis whispers, barely audible.

 

“Shhhhh…” Harry shakes his head.

 

He wraps his hand around Louis’ wrist, not putting any pressure, and brings his palm to his lips. He brushes his mouth all over it, barely kissing here and there before intertwining their fingers to gently squeeze his hand.

 

He would have stopped, he would have removed his hand, but Louis starts stroking his fingers in return and he would be insane to stop when petals are brushing his skin.

 

He looks up at Louis and finds him staring at their moving fingers between them, biting his bottom lip and looking breathless. Harry brings their linked hands to his mouth and fixes him intensely as he kisses his chastity ring and sticks the tip of his tongue out, ready to lick it and get high on the look Louis’ giving him right now.

 

Before he does though, he brings his face closer to his and stares at his lips, fighting every bone in him to not lean further.

 

Louis must be having the same battle, because he’s keeping his eyes on Harry’s lips as if they’re made of gold.

 

When the gap between them is barely existent, Louis leans from half of an half of an inch, making their lips touch as far away as they possibly can. There’s no pressure, no move, nothing but their lips in contact.

When Harry starts to move, ever so slightly, Louis parts his lips just enough to feel him, but only to jerk away quickly and look away. He bangs his head on the cupboard and pinches his lips together as if to contain himself from smashing something.

 

“You’re drunk.” Louis breathes.

 

“You think I’m doing this because I’m drunk ?” Harry whispers, hurt that he would think that.

 

“Yes. You’ll regret it tomorrow.” Louis states before looking at him. “You should call that guy from the club.” Louis’ words are harsh, like he’s giving an order, and Harry goes from wanting to touch him to wanting to punch him.

 

“Maybe I will.” He frowns.

 

“Good.” Louis says, face unreadable.

 

“And maybe I’ll touch him.”

 

“Suit yourself.”

 

“And maybe I’ll let him touch me.” Harry whispers and Louis shrugs, acting like he doesn’t give two fucks about that.  “You don’t care if he touches me ?”

 

“No.” Louis answers, expressionless.

 

“You don’t care if…” Harry murmurs as he brings his own hand to his lips as Louis watches. “…he touches me here ?...Or there ?…” He drags his fingers down his torso, stroking himself with Louis’ eyes following his every move. “…or there ?”. He slowly slides his hand to meet the waistband of his jeans and briefly palms himself.

 

Louis is almost panting watching him.

 

“No.” He repeats and looks away again.

 

“Don’t act like you don’t want to.”

 

“I don’t.” Louis says and stands up, quickly reaching the doorframe. “I don’t do pricks.” He says dryly and storms out.

 

Harry looks at him go, wondering why he’s shattered on the kitchen floor panting and miffed.

 

He repeats himself that Louis is nothing but what his future stepbrother, nothing but the jerk he met a few weeks ago, nothing but an annoying twat and a liar. And he just has to remind himself that before he starts something he wouldn’t be able to stop.

 

 ******

 

The rest of the week goes by in the blink of an eye, yet Harry feels like every second lasts a lifetime.

 

He spends most of the time with Liam and other friends, partying at night in various clubs and villas. He’s ran into Diego again and apologized for the other night. His friend gladly forgave him and has been inviting him over several times and flirting continuously, no matter how distant Harry could be.

 

They rarely find themselves alone though, always dragged everywhere by their mutual friends and playing team sports on the beach.

 

Harry doesn’t give away his plans to his dad or Jay so he doesn’t find himself forced to bring Louis along, not that he’d accept anyway.

 

He hasn’t been seeing much of him these past few days. The only times they find themselves together, it’s just yelling and rolling of eyes and Louis flicking Harry off when his mom’s not watching.

 

They find any excuses to start a fight and they don’t even bother not bickering in front of their parents, always forced to separate them, confused as to why they’d hate each other so much.

 

Harry mostly sleeps over at Liam’s or Diego’s so he doesn’t have to deal with being pissed off until he falls asleep.

 

So when they all get ready and go to church, he’s just not pleased to be sitting next to him. He had gathered enough anger and wanted nothing more than to stay away from him.

 

Just like the last time, Harry spends most of the mass eyeing people and guessing the conversations they’re having in their head. His eyes stop on Diego at the same spot he was the first time and he smiles, receiving a wink that makes him tilt his head down shyly.

 

“God’s watching you.” Louis whispers jokingly without looking at Harry, and the latter tries to ignore him for a while, but it’s the first words he’s hasn’t yelled at him in days so Harry just can’t keep it to himself.

 

“Why are you like this ?” Gemma pinches his ear next to him and he winces but keeps talking with a lower voice while the priest is speaking.

 

“What ?” Louis frowns, trying to focus on the priest again.

 

“You’re a twat, then you’re nice, then you’re distant and then back to being obnoxious. Can’t you just stick to one ?!” Harry puffs and crosses his left leg over his right, straightening his back.

 

A little girl in front of them turns around and shushes him and Harry’s starting to wonder if the entire neighbourhood plotted against him. He makes a funny face and she giggles, sticking her tongue out. He sticks his tongue out as well and they engage in a funny faces battle until her dad turns her around and Gemma punches her brother’s knee.

 

They stay silent for the rest of the mass and go back to grunting at each other as soon as they get out.

 

They had kept calm enough in church, even when Harry had stretched his leg purposefully right when Louis tried getting out of the bench to queue for the host given by the priest, making him trip and bump into an annoyed looking lady; even when Louis had pushed him when kneeling down, making Harry lose his balance and trip over the kneeler, creating a domino effect pushing everyone with him, earning groans from the whole row while Louis pretended he was innocent.

 

As soon as they go home, Harry rushes to his room and changes into denim shorts and a white tee, tucking his aviators on his head and grabbing his flip flops before rushing back down, ready to enjoy his freedom from Angerland – yes it was now an official place where Louis Tomlinson was the king of annoyance.

 

“Where are you going ?!” Des calls when Harry’s almost out.

 

“Diego’s.”

 

“Diego ? As in Diego Deschamps ?”

 

“Yep ! I’ll be back tonight…probably.” Harry said and walked out before any further questions.

 

Diego only lived three houses away. He had invited him over to enjoy the tennis court and check out his recently shipped German collection of documentaries on the Big Bang, and there wasn’t much Harry could reject in exchange of documentaries discussing origin of the universe and expansion, in German. He liked practicing his languages and science so this was just the best mix really. It was one of the things he and Diego had in common when they first met.

 

They settled on his couch in the living room and turned on the TV, Harry already sinking into the voice over. He was mentally confronting Einstein and Hawking when he felt Diego kiss his neck, and, even completely focused on his internal debate, he couldn’t help leaning into it.

 

He felt a hand on his thigh but subtly placed it back on the couch between them. He enjoyed the peck against his neck but still didn’t feel completely up for it. It used to be so easy with him, but he had something – or someone – else in mind.

 

Unfortunately, the one he was thinking about was forbidden territory. He had to forget about him and not let his arsehole of a ‘brother’ get in his way. That on his mind, he turned his head and cupped Diego’s cheek before pressing their lips together, a quick smack that felt forced.

 

It wasn’t that bad, he convinced himself. He knew Diego was a good kisser and his lips were quite nice. He kept rejecting his tongue though, keeping it simple with chaste kisses and squeezes of his hips.

 

When Diego tried to part his lips for the third time, Harry pulled away and got back to the screen, smiling at him to mask the fact that he just no longer wanted to pretend enjoying this.

 

His phone buzzed in his pocket and he excused himself to go to the bathroom, taking the opportunity to be alone and just breathe.

 

He sat on the floor against the door and opened his texts.

 

Paps said : Movie night tonight ! No way out !

                   PS: Diego ????????

                   PSS: Louis looks sad so be nicer to him

                    xx

 

Me said: What are we watching ? Of gods and men ?! LOL

                   PS: You don’t wanna know

                  PSS: I’ll try.

                  x

 

 

Paps said: I know you’re joking but it’s the actual movie…SEE YA

 

“Are you serious ?!” Harry whispered to himself and banged his head on the door. He went back out and sat on the couch, Diego a bit more tensed than before.

 

They resume watching the documentary with a bit of an awkward gap between them but Harry is too focused on the documentary to notice.

 

He walks back to the house around five after letting Diego kiss his cheek and hug him before making his way home, wondering when he became nothing but a friend, unable to distract him.

 

When he comes home, everything’s already set up for the movie. Gemma isn’t there and Harry suspects his dad gave in to her ‘but daaaaaaaad’ that never failed, and he regrets not trying out his own tricks to get out of this.

 

To Harry’s surprise, however, Liam’s here, chatting with Lottie, and he wonders if he got trapped when he stopped by to give her the lipstick he had found in his car.

 

They’re all diving into the cushions, Jay and Des on the two-seater aligned with the bigger couch. Lottie and Liam are sitting on one part of it, next to Jay and Des, Louis right next to Liam, forcing Harry to sit next to him.

 

A large blanket is thrown over the four of them on the couch and Jay turns off the lights,  putting the room in a frightening dark with the curtains blocking the daylight to watch the two hour long movie about monks.

 

The second the movie starts, Harry is done. He’s seen it once out of curiosity and he still doesn’t know how he made it through. He figures he can just take a nap, far enough so neither his dad nor Jay notice. But he’s a bit too preoccupied to fully relax.

 

Louis is pressed against his side in his white short sleeved cotton tee and his black sweatpants, and it could be fine if Harry couldn’t feel his warmth and his perfume, bloody natural scent of flowers and marshmallows.

Their shoulders brush at some point and Harry turns to face him, but finds himself inches away from his lips, the latter deciding to lean in and whisper something at the same time Harry did. They both freeze for a second, but Louis goes for Harry’s ear anyway to speak as quietly as possible, everyone staring at the screen.

 

“How was your date ?” Louis whispers, visibly as interested by the film as Harry is.

 

“None of your business.” Harry whispers back, going back to the movie.

 

“Did he…touch you ?” Louis leans again, further than he needs to, hot breath tickling Harry’s ear. The question is tented by both concern and anger and it’s just too confusing.

 

Harry doesn’t know what Louis’ playing at. He can’t be on and off and on and off about being gentle and being mad at him for no reason. He needs to show him he can’t adjust to his mood and is not the puppet Louis’ probably used to, bendable to his messed up mind.

 

“Yes. He did.” Harry says as if he’d had the time of his life today. He turns to look at Louis with a serious look and smirks, and looks away again.

 

Louis frees himself from the blanket and rushes upstairs, no one noticing that he fled in the dark. Harry grunts but decides to follow him and discretely tiptoes to his room. He closes the door behind him and walks closer to Louis who’s sitting on his bed.

 

“So ? You’re gonna tell the fuck you’re on about ?” Harry asks.

 

“Fuck off.” Louis snaps and stands up.

 

“Oh my god ! You’re fucking unbelievable !” Harry laughs, incapable of getting what goes on in this mind of his. “You treat me like shit, then you’re nice, then you snap at me for no reason and expect me to not give attention to anyone else ? What the fuck is wrong with you ?!” Harry tries his best to yell in whispers so no one barge in.

 

“Because you’re annoying okay ! You’re always walking around without a care in the world, like everything’s good and like there’s nothing wrong ! You spend your time smiling and being nice and I don’t get it okay ?!” Louis stands up and walks in circles around the room.  

“But that’s what happens when you’re nothing but yourself instead of hiding behind a fucking mask ! You can’t even find the guts to tell your mom you’re into guys and far from being a saint and it makes you angry at everyone who can !” Harry yells in his face, walking him against the wall, towering him as his face goes red.

 

“You don’t know me ! You know nothing !”

 

“Then fucking tell me Louis ! You keep saying I don’t know you but you don’t even know who you are yourself, you’re too busy pretending to be someone else !” Harry’s veins are popping on his neck, letting out all the things he’s wanted to say. “Why don’t you just say what you want to say ?!”

 

“Because not everyone has the perfect family Harry ! Not everyone can brag about a cool dad that loves them to death and would do anything to make his kids happy ! Not everyone can afford losing the only people in their life !” Louis looks out of his mind screaming in Harry’s face.

 

“The perfect family ? You wanna come for me for the perfect family ?! You got to grow up twenty two years with your mom ! You got to have a devoted woman by your side ready to protect you from everything ! You got to say the word ‘mom’ for twenty two years ! You got to give her flowers on Mother’s Day and  kiss her at night !” Harry tries to keep the tears in his throat inside but his voice is starting to crack and he’s not sure why he’s saying so much.

 

“But what is the point if she doesn’t love the real me ?! What’s the point of having a devoted mom if she spends her life trying to control mine ?! What’s the point of trusting someone to have them break you apart because you’re just not enough for them ?!” Louis pushes Harry backwards against the opposite wall and Harry finally understands what this is about.

 

“But who said you weren’t enough ?! Who decided that you weren’t enough for every single human on this planet ?!” Harry pushes him back.

 

“I know I’m not enough for anyone okay ! I push people away by being rude because it keeps them out of my life so I don’t have to fucking deal when they change their mind and decide to walk out on me !” Louis’ voice is as broken as Harry’s and they’re not even waiting for the loud noise from the living room to cover their voices.

 

“But you are ! You’re more than enough and you can’t fucking own it ! You’re so insecure about everyone treating you like shit, you don’t realize when you treat someone who cares about you like shit !” Harry pushes him with two fists against his chest, bringing him towards the space between the two beds.

 

“But who cares about me Harry ?! Who ?!”

 

“I do ! I can’t stand myself for it because you’re an utter ass most of the time but I do care about you and I can’t handle you being this afraid to show who you really are !”

 

“Oh really ?! That’s not what I got from you being pissed off at me all the time, or by the way you judge my family, or by the look you give me when I say something you don’t agree with ! You don’t care Harry ! You’re like everybody else ! You say you care but then you run into someone else’ arms first chance you get !” Louis yells a bit louder and they forget they’re not alone in the house.

 

“Are you really that stupid ?! You think I’d let someone touch me after you did ?! You’d think I’d settle for someone else when I had your fingers on my skin and your body against mine ?! I’d be a fucking idiot for wanting to be with anyone when I’m craving you !” Harry walks forward, forcing Louis to sit on his bed. “But you’re too fucking scared to accept it ! You’re too afraid to be vulnerable and lose control for a fucking second !”

 

“I’m not afraid !” Louis screams, eyes challenging Harry’s.

 

“Then fucking act like it !”

 

Louis stands back up and pushes Harry all the way to his own bed, making them fall on it. He climbs on top of him and puts his hands on each side of Harry’s head, completely breathless and blood boiling.

 

“Do it.” Harry whispers angrily when he sees Louis hesitates. “Forget about them.”

 

“What ?” Louis says weakly, brows furrowed.

 

“Forget about the voices in your head telling you this is wrong.”

 

“But it is !” Louis groans.

 

“Forget about them. Please.” Harry whispers again, almost begging. “Or tell me you don’t feel anything and I’ll be out of sight.”

 

Louis looks like he’s going to pass out. His lips are moving but no words are getting out.

 

“Tell me you don’t feel it !” Harry says with the angriest deep voice, ready to leave the room and spend his time trying to forget how painful this is. “Tell me you don’t and I’ll leave you alone !”

 

“Shut up !” Louis huffs heavily, and sinks.

 

They intertwine their lips and only wait a second before they kiss with open mouths. Louis is grasping Harry’s jaw with his thumb and index on each side, forcing him to breathe with his mouth wide open. He licks Harry’s lips, gently brushing, and sucks on his bottom lip, nibbling with the overwhelming anger still present.

 

He lets go of his jaw to place his hand back on the mattress and starts exploring Harry’s mouth with his tongue, turning it into a sloppy mess of saliva.

 

“Make me shut up Louis…” Harry whispers between each smack of their lips and slides his hands from Louis’ hips to his arse, massaging with his strong hands, squeezing lightly enough to feel the shape properly before digging his fingers harder and pulling him down against him. “Make me shut up.”

 

Louis brings a hand over Harry’s mouth, choking his words, making him shut up the only way he knows how. He presses his lips against the back of his hand between their mouth, eyes deep into Harry’s. He starts grinding on him, letting Harry pull him in by pressing his bum against his growing bulge.

 

Harry huffs heavy breaths under Louis’ hand and squints his eyes as Louis drags his free hand on his torso under his shirt. He twists his nipple, making him squirm and moan under his fingers, and soothes the slight pinch by rubbing his thumb against the sore spot. He digs his fingertips in Harry’s chest all the way to his shorts and palms him over them, slowly caressing his covered cock as he bends to kiss his neck.

 

He sucks at the skin, licking the redness he’s creating and kissing it with silky wet lips, hand still feeling Harry twitch over his clothes.

 

Harry tilts his head back when Louis finally undoes the button and frees his mouth to unzip his shorts carefully. He gets lower and wraps his mouth on Harry’s cock over his boxers, brushing his lips along the visibly thick length begging to be touched.

 

“Take me in your mouth…” Harry pants and Louis smirks from where he’s teasing to come back up, nuzzling his head in the pillow to whisper in his ear.

 

“You don’t tell me what to do, love.” Louis mumurs with a scolding yet extremely sweet voice, making Harry nod immediately, suddenly very obedient.

 

Louis finally frees Harry’s throbbing cock when he gets back down, and cusses when he wraps his hand around it. He makes Harry licks his palm to wet his hand – which Harry is glad to do - and keeps his face barely away from Harry’s as he brings it down between them.

 

He circles his thumb over the slightly leaking tip, and starts pumping Harry, breathing right into his mouth. He keeps going, sliding his hand up and down, over and over again,  teasing the head before going back down again.

 

Anh…Mmh…” Harry moans loudly into Louis’ mouth, forcing him to put his hand back to keep him quiet.

 

“Shhhh…” Louis coos just like Harry had a few days ago, and kisses his neck, Harry painfully hard in his hand.

 

Harry moans even louder and nibbles Louis’ fingers, earning a light bite on his neck and a firm pressure around his cock. Louis lets go of Harry’s mouth to massage his balls and Harry’s not too sure he’s supposed to feel this overwhelming warmth down his spine.

 

Just when he thinks he’ll have to just imagine Louis’ lips around him, the latter shifts his weight and settles between Harry’s legs, lifting them up so his feet are flat on the bed. He kisses Harry’s thighs and bites and sucks on a bruise, all whilst squeezing them and caressing them and stroking them and just making sure Harry can’t remember ever having someone touch him before that.

 

Louis walks his mouth along Harry’s length, making sure to keep eye contact, eyes glossy and lustful and soul wrecking.

 

He lets his upper lip drag against his hard-on to reach his balls. He takes them in his mouth one at a time and gets them slick before sucking Harry’s cock like he did the strawberry iced stick. He makes sure to repeat exactly what he had done that day at the beach and makes the same kissing noise he had for the candy.

 

He sucks a few more times before hollowing his cheeks as if to swallow, gluing his eyes on Harry’s when he takes him whole, moaning as he does, hair brushing against Harry’s pelvis.

 

Harry’s jaw drops when he sees his thick and hung cock entirely disappearing inside Louis’ mouth. He’s unable to think properly and just cups his cheek to wipe the saliva on it with his thumb, feeling every movement of Louis’ head bobbing up and down at a painful pace.

 

Anh…Mmh…F-…Hmmhm…” Harry bites his bottom lip to trap the noises he can’t control, and plays with Louis’ hair as he swallows him, looking beautiful drooling between his legs.

 

He considers being religious for a few seconds when he feels like he can literally hear God himself as he reaches the purest height, feeling dizzy from the stars behind his eyes, suddenly not so eager to question these.

 

“Oh God ! Jesus !” Harry hasn’t opened a Bible in ten years but all of a sudden he could list all the saints and describe exactly what Heaven looks like.

 

He can hear Louis moan even louder than him as he swallows every drop of cum, licking Harry’s wet head before wiping his lips.

 

Harry’s breathing is all over the place and he’s boiling and he can’t move a finger and he can’t stop sucking in his stomach to trap the feeling making his toes curl. He’s panting and just can’t bring himself to close his mouth when he drops his hand from Louis’ cheek to his thigh.

 

He’s barely able to move but still brings a hand to Louis’ sweatpants, only to feel them wet. He looks at him and Louis just shrugs with a ‘not my fault’ look and they both laugh, allowing Harry to drop his head back on his pillow and close his eyes as he tries to breathe normally again.

 

He doesn’t know what he does after that, doesn’t know what Louis does after that, doesn’t know in which country he is, what’s his family name or what makes two times one. He’s a mess, shattered on his bed, and all he can do is keep his eyes shut and his mouth wide open.

 

He opens his eyes to see a pitch black room with no sound whatsoever.

 

Louis is sleeping in his bed, pile of clothes next to it as usual. Harry sits up to see he’s tucked up under his comforter and he smiles at the thought of Louis pulling it to his chest to keep him warm, or just keep the room a bit more descent.

 

He gets up, thirsty like he’s been running a marathon. He slips into his sweats, no boxers needed, and ties it tight to keep it from getting too low and leave little to no mystery.

 

He walks to the kitchen and stops when he hears moans coming from it. He takes one more step to see his dad and Jay full on snogging against the fridge. He ‘s not sure how to respond and whether he should just grab his water on the bar and pretend he hasn’t seen anything, but then his dad lifts Jay up on the table and lifts her nightie to slip her panties and down and Harry covers his eyes and runs back upstairs, scarred.

 

“Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck…” He repeats on a loop as he walks. He bumps into Gemma in the hallway and she has to shake him to calm him down.

 

“What’s wrong ?!” She looks so worried Harry thinks he looks like he’s just seen a ghost.

 

“Dad and Jay and tongues and panties and old people having sex and-“ Harry vomits the words, making Gemma laugh.

 

“Well, at least some of us are getting some in here!” Gemma jokes but now is just not the time. “Be prepared to have babies added to the family !” She laughs and smacks his bum to push him towards his room but he wants to puke even more.

 

Babies. Des and Jay having children. Sharing siblings with Louis. Becoming Louis’ brother. Dying.

 

Harry’s about to explode and goes back to his room, unable to find a way to calm himself.

 

He spots Louis’ pack of cigarettes in his opened suitcase and checks if the lighter is inside – which is in fact there – and opens the window-door thingy, climbing out and closing behind him, leaning over the balcony to have a drag for the first time in five years. He had only ever smoked once to try and didn’t like it, but right now he felt like a burning throat would only match his fuming brain.

 

“Harry ?” Louis calls when Harry coughs loudly, walking out to lean next to him. “Into stealing now ?” He smirks and picks a cigarette for himself, making smoking a bit more acceptable suddenly.

 

“Sorry. Felt like I needed it.” Harry says, still trying to take a puff without choking.

 

“What’s up ?” Louis asks, walking closer to rest his hand on the small of Harry’s back and rub him with a thumb, and Harry wonders if he’ll ever feel cold again.

 

“Fuck, don’t do that…” Harry frowns, exhaling the smoke in the crisp air.

 

“What ?” Louis stops and turns to face him.

 

“We’re brothers Louis.” Harry says with a low and defeated voice, as if he wasn’t the one making Louis forget about that moments before. The latter doesn’t say anything and just smokes his cigarette, exhaling through his nose.

 

“We don’t share the same blood.”

 

“And ? Our parents are getting married and I just caught them trying to make their own kids.” Harry says with a repulsed face.

 

“What ?!” Louis sounds even more disgusted than Harry and he tries his best not to jump off that balcony. “That’s so…”

 

“I know !”

 

They both keep smoking in silence, thinking about how wrong this is, no matter how right it feels. They’re family, and if anyone finds out what’s been going on between them, they’d probably be forced to stay far away from each other and spend a lifetime pretending they’re nothing more than what they’re supposed to be.

 

“Why were you in London ?” Harry says when he takes a second cigarette out of the packet, trying to change the subject and push the thoughts away.

 

“What ?”

 

“You didn’t tell your mom you went to London and I’m curious.” Harry smiles, more relaxed after the fresh breeze and his burning breath.

 

“I’ve got mates there. My mom don’t like them because they’re quite the party animals, or atheist.” Louis lets the smoke out before continuing. “I go there sometimes to visit them, have fun somewhere no one can find out about my…whereabouts…and I get to be a bit more free…and myself.”

 

“Why don’t you just move there ?”

 

“I stayed in Manchester for uni and then felt responsible over my mom and sister. I was the only man they had in their life until a few months ago. Plus, I have my habits there. I have my friends and everyone knows me, so it’s easy I guess. It’s what I know.”

 

“Do they know you or the constipated saint ?” Harry grins and Louis kicks his shin, giggling nonetheless.

 

“The second one…”

 

“Does anyone know ?” Harry throws his cigarette butt under them, aiming for the small bin but reaching the breakfast table instead. Oh well.

 

“Only two people.” Louis throws his cigarette as well and mutters a ‘get in !’ when it falls right into the bin. “I was sneaking out with one of them and I sort of had a crush on the other and he found out.”

 

“How ?”

 

“I tried kissing him in the lockers…” Louis squints his eyes in shame and Harry chuckles, shaking his head in disapproval. “And…let’s just say he declined my offer. He was into guys but just not into me I guess.”

 

“He’s mad…” Harry says to himself and sees Louis smiling in the corner of his eyes so he clears his throat. “Any serious relationships after that ?”

 

“Not really, no. I did sort of date the guy I was sneaking out with for about four months, but I’d rather not remember him to be honest. He was a complete arse. Not to mention how tiring it was to make excuses for my mom and stuff. He broke up with me saying he couldn’t handle hiding himself.” Louis says with a weak voice.

 

After a rather long silence filled with unspoken concerns, Louis tried to create some sort of heat by wrapping his arms around his bare chest, but still shivered.

 

“Let’s go inside.” Harry suggests and Louis nodded before stepping back in.

 

Harry slid under his comforter and eyed Louis sitting on his bed, not really motivated to lay there. He smiled to himself and stretched his arm, patting the spot next to him. Louis grinned happily like a cute child and tucked himself under the comforter, Harry immediately wrapping his whole body around him, creating enough heat for way more than two people.

 

“What about you ? Ever had a serious relationship ?” Louis asks, turning to face Harry, hands under his cheek on the pillow.

 

“I did. But it was kind of a nightmare. It lasted for a year on and off, I thought the way he treated me was a proof of love at the time. Then I learned I was just justifying moral abuse. So…yeah.”

 

“How long ago ?” Louis asked with a worried frown.

 

“Ended in December.”

 

“Why the universe ?” Louis asks when Harry’s smile fades at the memory of nights spent worrying about someone that didn’t deserve it.

 

“Where to begin !” Harry beams at the question as if he hadn’t been on the verge of crying. “I mean…You probably don’t want to know everything but…” He tries to contain the excitement he always gets from talking about science, too used to everyone mocking him for being a nerd.

 

“Tell me.” Louis smiles, crinkles forming by his eyes.

 

“Really ?” Harry pinches his bottom lip with his fingers to contain his joy.

 

Louis nods and tangles his feet with Harry’s under the cover, and Harry’s more than happy to warm his rather cold feet tickling him.

 

“Well, I think it’s much more than just science and particles you know ? The universe and everything that comes with it can often be applied to life. I just love learning about how it works, how waves behave and travel among us, or how the different dimensions determine our everyday life and if we already know everything about them... I mean, is time just a concept ? Is there another temporal dimension we haven’t discovered yet that could allow us to not only move forward in time but also move backwards and just…go back ?”

 

Harry’s smile weakens at that. He closes his eyes at the rushing thoughts in his mind, because he really wishes he could go back.

 

He’d love to go back and redo that stupid exam. He’d love to go back and ignore that douchebag of a boyfriend or just never cross his path…But above all, he just wishes he could go back and keep his mom with him. Because if he could go back, then maybe he’d be able to warn her that the car behind them is going too fast.

 

He tries hard but can’t help the tear sliding down his cheek, feeling that moment all over again. Louis wipes it with his thumb and tucks his hair behind his ear. He reaches between them without asking anything and tangles his fingers with Harry’s. He brings his knuckles to his lips, applying a gentle pressure as he quietly sobs.

 

“What would you change if you could go back?” Louis asks as if he’s aware of what Harry’s thinking about.

 

“A lot.” Harry says, opening his reddening eyes. “The way I treated my mom, the people I chose to care bout, the things I’ve ruined…”

 

“Would you change this…?” Louis whispers, not looking at Harry anymore as he brings their hands against his chest.

 

Harry wonders if he’d change this if he could. What if he could keep his dad from meeting Jay or if he could take another wagon or stop in another coffee shop or party in another pub... He thinks about what would’ve happened – or rather what wouldn’t have happened - if he could make sure Louis never walked into his life.

 

And it just makes his answer very clear.

 

“No.”

Chapter Text

“Morning !” Harry yawns when he steps outside, rubbing his tummy at the sight of all the food in front of him. He was really starting to get used to this daily gargantuan breakfast.

 He waves hello to the table and sits down, quickly grabbing the fruit juice to pour it in his cup and try his best not to glance for too long at Louis.

 They had fallen asleep in Harry’s bed the night before, and Harry was delighted to find Louis’ arms around him and feel him breathe behind his neck when he woke up.

 He had brought his hand up a bit and curled himself into his chest before falling asleep again, lulled by the sound of him quietly snoring in the cutest way one can snore.

 He goes to sit in front of him as usual and looks up from the rim of his filled Spiderman cup to smile at him, making Louis blush and give him a fond grin he tries to tone down when Des starts talking.

 Harry asks Gemma to pass him the basket of croissants while his dad explains something about bread, and chooses the strawberry jam to split the pastry in two and spread it on. He keeps eyeing Louis who avoids his eyes, but this time to smile to himself, and not frown thinking of a fight to start.

 “So, what did you guys do last night ?” Gemma asks and both Louis and Harry look at each other in shock before realizing she’s asking everyone about the film, not what her ‘brothers’ were up to.

 “We watched Of God and Men…Wonderful movie.” Jay says, throwing her arms above her head as if to thank the Lord for this two hour footage about seclusion.

 “You guys missed the end though…” Des remarks, pointing between Louis and Harry with his fork. “We actually wanted to talk to you about that. You were being very loud so we couldn’t really ignore it.”

 Harry’s heart is racing and he stuffs his face with his croissant to have an excuse for his open mouth. Louis is fidgeting, picking at his piece of bread as he looks down at his plate. Neither dare looking at each other.

 “Look, we know you haven’t been getting along and keep bickering.” Jay adds. “But last night sounded quite violent boys…We thought the room was going to explode !”

 “Well, something did explode…” Louis whispers in his napkin and coughs before frowning to act focused on the conversation. Harry immediately giggles in his fist and hooks his toes around Louis’ ankle under the table, brushing his feet against his shin as if to thank him for that very explosion.

 “Sorry about that. We’re working things out.” Harry says seriously.

 “I’m glad to hear that.” Des nods. “I even had to pause the film at some point and go upstairs, but then you went quiet so I figured I’d leave you alone.”

 Harry wonders for a minute how he would have explained what was happening if his dad had walked in on them, and tilts his head on the side with widened eyes, trying hard to keep his comments to himself.

 Louis and him are playing footsie and not really paying much attention to what’s being said until Gemma’s phone rings on the table. Everyone thinks she might take the entire tablecloth on her way to the living room, squeaking as soon as she sees ‘Evan’ on the screen. He’s currently traveling around Asia with his family, so each call is not to be missed.

 “How’s Eleanor doing, Louis ?” Des takes the opportunity to ask.

 “Um…she’s…She’s doing well. Um…” Louis stutters.

 “Do you think she could be the one ?” Des smiles but Louis turns green.

 “I…I mean I…”

 “Oh my god !” Lottie saves her brother without even knowing, or almost... “What is that ?!”

 Harry turns to see what she’s talking about only to follow her eyes on his own neck. He quickly covers the bruise he forgot about and keeps his hand there, cussing under his breath and just hoping Lottie didn’t see the mark of her brother’s teeth. When he sees it, Louis drops his fork in his plate, and everything becomes a bit too stressful.

 “Um…I…um…I played tennis yesterday… and…tried dodging the ball but…clearly I’m not the next Tsonga !” Harry widens his eyes after that, wondering where the hell was that impro skill when he had to explain why there was a cigarette in his jeans when his dad did his laundry five years ago.

 “Oh no !” Jay frowns. “I hope it doesn’t hurt too bad ?”

 “No, it doesn’t hurt at all…” Harry smiles at her, not risking taking his hand away until they all look elsewhere.

 Harry’s dad has a knowing look though. He must be thinking this is not the job of his son’s lack of reflex, but rather the result of him going at Diego’s…

 They finish breakfast talking about the movie from last night and the plans for the upcoming days. Harry excuses himself to go back to his room though, because Jay and Des start looking at each other a bit too lovingly, and it’s too early for headaches.

 He’s feeling like having a lazy day in bed and Louis tells everyone he’s going for a jog, so he thinks he might just fall on the mattress and finally finish his book.

 He considers getting naked but figures anyone could walk in, so he compromises and steps out of his boxers to just leave his baggy sweatpants on. He ties his hair up and puts his glasses on before sitting on his bed, grabbing the book he’s almost done with.

 He’s completely zoned out into Stephen Hawking’s words after two hours, but there’s a weak knock on the door and Harry wonders if he’ll ever finish that thing.

 “Come in !”

 Jay emerges in the room quietly and stares at her feet before talking.

 “Can I talk to you for a moment ?”

 “Um…sure.” Harry says with the least convincing voice possible. He reached for the pillow behind him and put it in front of him, not wanting to flash his soon to be stepmother with his mainly-shaved-but-still-there pubes.

 She looks around the room, apparently walking in for the first time, and starts folding the clothes piled on the floor by Louis’ bed as she speaks.

 “Sorry for his mess.” She apologizes on behalf of her son.

 “S’okay. I don’t mind it.” Harry smiles to himself, because he never thought he’d be this happy to see a gigantic pile of shirts when he enters his room.

 She keeps folding the clean looking clothes and gathers the dirty ones on a side, moving around Louis’ belongings to tidy up. Harry bites his lip not to say anything and remind her that she doesn’t have to fix her son's every little flaw.

 “We haven’t had a chance to talk yet, and I really wanted to know what you think about your dad and I getting married.”

 Harry doesn’t know what to tell her. He still isn’t comfortable with the idea of his dad being with another woman and doesn’t know how to be kind to her, no matter how nice she is to him. He doesn’t know how to explain the pain he feels when she acts like a mother towards him and he’s not sure he’d ever accept all aspects of the situation.

 “I…Um…” Harry adjusts his glasses and rubs the back of his neck nervously.

 “I just want you to know…I have no intention of replacing your mother. I understand if you’re not completely used to me being around and I’m not mad at you for it.” She sits on Louis’ bed, folding one of his shirts on her lap. “But please know that I love him. I really do. My ex husband wasn’t the greatest father and Lottie and Louis deserve to know what it means to have a man they can count on. I would do anything for them and we’ve managed to be a close family with just us, but I do feel that Lottie would like to have a father figure and, as much as he denies it, Louis as well.”

 Harry buries his face in the pillow under his chin, listening carefully as Jay confesses what’s been on her mind.

 “And about my son…I know he’s really moody and reserved but, he’s been through a lot and has the habit of keeping everything inside, you know ? Please don’t get mad at him for that.”

 Harry doesn’t really dare saying anything and just nods.

 “You know, I try to be both parents and protect him the best I can and I know I may overdo it sometimes. Your dad helps me see that. He makes me realize how I need to let him grow up on his own. And I think he’d learn a lot from someone like you who grew up with someone like Des. I’m not blind, I see he’s holding himself back a lot, and I’m afraid this could be my fault.”

 Jay is staring at Louis’ folded shirt on her lap and she looks the most sincere she’s ever looked since Harry have met her. He’d always thought of her as a close-minded evil dictator, but she was just human at the end of the day, trying to make it right.

 “I think the best thing a parent can do is just let their children express themselves and learn who they are, let them make their mistakes and just be there to pick up the pieces…Remind them that they’re not going through life alone, but still letting them face it. I think that…as long as you prove to him that you love him no matter what and support him, then your job is done really…”

 A long pause ensues with Jay smiling at the tee shirt and Harry’s not sure if he should say something, or cough, or go back to reading while she looks at the plain shirt for another twenty minutes.

 There’s a sound of footsteps on the wooden floor and humming before Louis appears in the doorframe, back from his run. He raises a brow when he walks in and Jay stands up immediately before nodding towards Harry. She kisses her son’s forehead on her way out and disappears in the hallway.

 “Should I be concerned ?” Louis asks as he drops his iPod and earphones on the chest drawer, and slips out of his trainers and socks.

 “No.” Harry shakes his head and unties his hair, throwing the pink hair tie on the nightstand before ruffling his curls. “Not at all…”

 Louis closes the door and hangs his unzipped sweater behind it before going through the drawers to get clean clothes.

 “Where the fuck is my red shirt…” He mutters as he goes through every drawer. Harry spots the low collar tee falling at Louis’ feet when he pushes a jumper out of the way. He stands up, picks it up, and waves it from behind in Louis’ face. “Thanks love !”

 “Good run ?” Harry asks, trying to ignore how weak he gets from the name.

 He’s still close behind Louis as he looks for something else in the top drawer. He smells like fresh grass and lavender and Harry suspects he’s been resting in the garden for a while. His hair is damped from sweat and his white tank top is sticking to his back.

 “Not as easy as a cigarette but, I do feel more relaxed I guess. The push ups and squats your dad made me do in the garden though...not so good.” 

 Harry can hear Louis talk but he can’t focus when his neck is just begging to be kissed, when his hair looks that soft, and when he’s walking back closer to him, brushing his bum against Harry’s exposed pelvis.

 “Please don’t pass out.” Louis giggles and Harry looks up to see Louis’ been watching him drool over him in the mirror.

 “You weren’t supposed to see that…” Harry pretends he’s angry, blushing before walking away to lay back down on his bed.

 Louis laughs and throws his clean clothes on his bed before climbing on top of Harry with a mischievous grin. He sits back on his thighs and tucks his fingers under the waistline of Harry’s sweats.

 Harry sits up and pulls Louis against his chest by pushing his arse in. The latter wraps his legs around his waist, keeping his hands tight on the waistband as Harry spreads his legs slightly to let him sit in the gap.

 “You look nice with glasses…”

 “You look nice after working out…” Harry whispers back and kisses Louis’ cheek. “Although, I will have to change the sheets given how sweaty you are.”

 “As if you mind…” Louis giggles and pinches Harry’s hips, making him squirm and laugh a bit too loud.

 “I really want to kiss you.” Harry pouts like a child. “Can I kiss you ?” He tilts his head on the side like a puppy, making Louis give him his baby hedgehog smile.

 “That would be a yes, yep, definitely, yes…” Louis nods repeatedly.

 Harry pulls him closer, massaging his bum, and pecks his lips , barely touching before parting them slowly with his own, enjoying the way their thinness matches the plumpness of his. He brings one hand to Louis’ face to feel the slow movements of his jaw on his fingertips, and gets lost into the kiss, breaths trapped and tongues refusing to unlink.

 They spend a lifetime kissing, barely taking pauses to breathe, keeping their eyes closed and their grip tight on each other.

 Harry slides his hands under Louis’ shirt and drags them along his spine, digging his fingers enough to feel him but not too rough to hurt him. He caresses his lower back and brings his hands down to find the deep dimples he’s been craving to touch.

 Louis brings his hands in Harry’s hair and slowly massages his scalp whilst nibbling his bottom lip, sucking on it softly before resuming the deep and wet kiss, tongues noisily dancing around each other as they both moan quietly and start to run out of breath.

 When Harry pulls back, there’s a thread of saliva between them. Louis leans in again and gives Harry another peck to kiss it away, and rubs his thumb on Harry’s chin to wipe the end of it.

 “You taste like strawberry…” Harry whispers before resuming the kiss, unable to get enough.

 “I may have stopped on my way back to get one of them frozen sticks…” Louis chuckles into Harry’s mouth, combing his hair with both hands to pull it back, provoking a deep groan and fluttering eyelids in front of him. “You like that, huh ?” Louis smiles fondly, enjoying the way Harry lets go in his hands and slowly nods.

 Louis leans in one more time, deepening the kiss as he lays Harry on his back with a firm hand pushing his chest, and straddles his lap again. He then starts gradually grinding on Harry’s freed cock under his sweats, rocking himself carefully back and forth and sinking his hips lower every time. The soft fabric is brushing against the skin, and Harry holds onto Louis’ arse to keep him going, enjoying the tease as he sucks on his tongue.

 “Harry ! Louis ! Come downstairs !” Des yells in the hallway but Harry doesn’t stop kissing Louis and Louis keeps grinding on him, ignoring his stepdad’s voice…that is until they hear a knock.

 Louis falls on the floor trying to climb off and Harry is quick to sit up and put a pillow over his semi when Des opens the door, because waiting for an answer before entering is apparently not a normal rule for everyone.

 “Dad !” Harry chokes, still a bit breathless, but pretends to be as casual as he can when holding a pillow over his bulge.

 When Des looks on the floor towards Louis, Harry turns to see him doing crunches on the carpet, pretending to work out to justify him panting a bit, still in his sportswear. Harry giggles in the pillow and looks back at his dad to see him grin, no expression of confusion or concern.

 “Wow, you’re still working out Louis ?! I wish I still had them youthful energy ! Next time we’ll have to do some weightlifting then !” Des says excitedly and Harry can hear just how fake Louis’ “of course !’” is. “Come downstairs boys ! Jay and I have exciting news. Lottie and Gems are already waiting !” Des shouts, even though they could clearly hear him if he didn’t. He walks out right after and joins the rest of the family.

 Louis drops on his back the second he’s out of sight as Harry lets out the heaviest breath and flops on the bed, and they only have to look at each other once to burst out laughing.

 When they walk downstairs after Harry’s put boxers on, they join the girls on the sofa and sit next to each other, a bit closer than they actually need to.

 “Ok, now that everyone’s here, we have something to announce…” Jay smirks and shares a cheeky look with Des before continuing. “We’ve just got a call, and it turns out we’ll be getting married sooner !” 

 “And by sooner she means in a month !” Des adds.

 Harry’s face goes white, his throat is too tight, and he’s pretty sure his brain just dropped in his chest. He can’t move, can’t say anything…

 He stares at his dad and his fiancée, lifeless. He doesn’t hear what everyone’s saying, is not fully aware of the cheering of the girls or the joy in the room. His heart has stopped and he hasn’t breathed since the words have come out.

 When he slowly manages to make out the room again instead of the blur from seconds ago, Des and Jay are holding hands, kissing each other and hugging Lottie and Gemma who sound overexcited to be official sisters sooner than expected.

 He doesn’t even dare looking at Louis.

 He can’t feel his shoulders against him anymore so he figures he took some distance after the news, and he’s not moving either by what Harry can see from the corner of his eyes.

 “We wanted to book the Holbeck Ghyll Country House over the Lake Windermere, but they already had an event so we had to settle on another venue that was only available in October…” Jay explains.

 “But they called us a few minutes ago and told us the people before us had cancelled and we were first on their waiting list for bookings so…”

 “…We’re going to spend the whole weekend there, it’ll be fantastic !”

 “And…” Des smirks. “We decided on the house ! The place is even big enough for every single one of you !”

 Before Harry can react to anything that’s going on, Louis is standing up and flying out the front door without a word, leaving the rest of the room confused and surprised by the loud slam. Harry envies him for getting to do that, because he’d much rather storm outside and run far away from here than stay and pretend he’s not falling apart on the inside.

 Jay and Des stop smiling and sigh before looking to see Harry still silent.

 “Harry ?” Jay calls for him carefully, probably making sure he didn’t just die or something.

 Harry can’t speak, can’t express what he’s feeling right now. He didn’t expect this. He didn’t expect for the news to hit him this hard.

 He had made so much effort to push the realization away in the back of his mind, even more after feeling Louis’ fingers on him and knowing he’d never be able to call him his brother.

 Now, they were going to share a family even sooner than expected, be seen as and called brothers, treated as such... and Harry just needed to throw up the blades in his chest.

 He got up and faked a smile, patted his dad’s shoulder, whilst saying the hardest thing he had to say right now.

 “I’m happy for you.”

 

*****

 

“I was thinking drinks, then Xavier’s party and then back to Diego’s ? Or maybe Diego’s first then drinks, then the party…Or maybe drinks at Diego’s and then party ?” Liam is rambling, trying to come up with tonight’s program while Harry is wondering how high that balcony really is. Not high enough.

 “Whatever…” Harry shrugs.

 “Okay…” Liam frowns, suspicion in his voice. “We could also stay here and watch a movie ? Or play Scrabble ?...Or talk ?”

 “I don’t really feel like talking.”

 “Hey bro, I know it must be weird, but Jay seems nice ? Like, I know it has to be very hard but…is it really that bad if they get married ?” Liam asks, having no idea why Harry really is upset about.

 “I don’t mind my dad being with someone else. Not as much as I used to anyway…”

 “What’s wrong then ?”

 “I…” Harry wonders if he could trust Liam with this, if he could tell him how he feels about his soon to be brother, how he might be caring about him in another way than the one he’s expected to. “I think I-“

 “Hi Louis !” Liam shouts, making Harry turn to see the one he was thinking about enter the room.

 “Hi mate !” Louis bumps his fist with Liam’s and reaches behind him to get his phone he left on the bed Liam’s sitting on. He grabs clean clothes and his towel and goes to take a shower somewhere else, completely ignoring Harry.

 He doesn’t know where he’s been for the past few hours after he fled, and he just hopes he’s not back to pushing him away, because they’ve sort of hit a point of no return, even though he’s aware it would be the best solution.

 The look on Harry’s face when Louis walks out must be very alarming, because Liam is suddenly climbing on his bed, crossing his legs next to his feet before grasping them.

 “You have ten seconds to tell me what’s going on before I tickle your feet.” Liam threatens very seriously and Harry rolls his eyes, not particularly too willing to be screaming under Liam’s fingers.

 “I’ve just been feeling things for the wrong person okay ?!” Harry snaps, freeing his feet to sit up and cross his legs with his head in his hands.

 “I know you and Diego will go back to your own lives, but you can still keep in touch and stuff and-” Liam tries his best to comfort his friend, but he’s just not on the right issue.

 “It’s not about Diego.” Harry sighs and hits his back against the wall.

 “Who is it about then ? Xavier ? You like him even though he’s got a girlfriend ?”

 “No !” He snorts. “Let’s just go downstairs and watch a movie.” Harry dodges the subject and doesn’t wait for Liam to ask another question to get to the living room.

 They spend a few minutes choosing a movie and finally decide on The Parent Trap, bringing back the memories of them with Gemma and Poppy in their blanket fort, watching that movie almost every single day, since it was the only film they had available at the time.

 Gemma quickly rushes to the couch next to them as soon as she overhears the opening song, and keeps squeaking and dramatically ‘awwww’-ing as Nat King Cole sings the song of their childhood. Lottie follows soon after with a large blanket in hands and they all enjoy the masterpiece they know by heart.

 When Jay comes back from the garden with Louis and Des, she smiles at them on the couch and suggests Louis should join them. Harry figures the three of them must’ve been talking about his reaction earlier, and tries not too think about it too much when he scoots closer to Liam to let him sit next to him.

 He’s stressing out a bit because Louis still hasn’t acknowledged him after the news, but relaxes when he feels his pinky wrap around his own on the cushion.

 Louis keeps his eyes on the screen and sneaks his hand behind Harry, sliding his fingers under his shirt to stroke right above his boxers discretely. He lets him scoot closer into his side and takes advantage of the loud music and the others laughing to lean in and whisper.

 “I’m not mad at you.”

 Harry rests his hand on Louis’ thigh under the thick blanket and squeezes gently as he turns his head to face him.

 “Really ?” He mouths, looking a bit concerned.

 As if to answer him, Louis takes a glimpse at the others on the couch and gives him a muted peck on the shoulder.

 Harry starts staring at him then and forgets where they are for a second. He forgets about everything, and just sinks into those eyes, glimmering with the flashes of the screen.

 He’s about to forget about everything a bit too much actually, closing the gap between their mouths, but he’s quickly brought back from their bubble when Jay walks towards the couch.

 Both Harry and Louis detach themselves from each other real fast and pretend they weren’t just seconds away from doing not-that-brotherly things.

 Jay reaches for the remote though, and presses pause. Everyone frowns and starts complaining, knowing she’s here to remind them of the curfew, but she does something unexpected instead.

 “I’m sorry to interrupt, but I just wanted you to know that Des and I talked and…we’ve decided to lift the curfew…until the end of our time here.” Everyone looks around the room as if to wait for her to say she’s kidding, but when Des runs from the kitchen and hugs her proudly, they figure he must’ve convinced her, so they all yell from happiness.

 “Thanks mom !” Lottie gets up to hug her and everything is extremely exciting suddenly.

 “We’re tired though, so we’ll leave you kids alone.” Des smiles, earning a roll of eyes from Jay, but she gives in anyway and they walk upstairs as the rest of them enjoy the remainder of the movie.

 When they finish it, it’s only ten thirty and they want to make the most of the first night without curfew – in theory – and decide to grab their swimsuit and climb over the fence to Liam’s pool. His parents are out, so they don’t even try to be quiet.

 Gemma has lent one of her Triangl bikinis to Lottie, and she looks like she has found life. She’s taking a ridiculous amount of selfies and the boys all make a scene mimicking the girls as they fill Lottie’s phone with dozens of funny pictures of them being idiots.

 Harry is glad Louis had another pair of swimming shorts that fits him a bit better, because he can freely admire all of him and enjoy the sight. He himself put his yellow shorts again, not willing to spend too much time looking for the other ones buried in his suit case still or drying in the laundry room.

 The pool doesn’t have any light, so the few lanterns are the only source of glim they have, and it looks marvellous reflecting on the water as the sun disappears completely.

 They dive from the edges and splash each other and have races and do backflips over and over, and still don’t get out when their fingers get wrinkly.

 Gemma disappears behind the fence at one point and comes back with a few beers and the bottle of vodka Harry had been sipping at, and all of them cheer as if they’re celebrating the greatest day of their life.

 She gives Liam a beer and takes one herself, Lottie declines the offer – probably still traumatized by her first experience –and Louis shocks everyone when he downs the equivalent of the biggest shot of vodka possible straight from the bottle.

 When everyone, including Harry, looks at him surprised, he shrugs and starts giggling, making everyone laugh as well because his laugh may not be as irritating as Harry claimed it was when he first heard it. He decides to join him and gulps half the amount, wincing as he places the bottle on the edge of the pool.

 They go back in and make sure to stay away from the deep side to not drown with the amount of alcohol they’re drinking. They’re glad Lottie is naturally excited and needs no drops of alcohol to have fun and let herself enjoy every second for once.

 They find themselves sitting in a circle on the pool stairs after a while, and end up sharing funny and embarrassing stories, cry laughing at each one, making the best memories together so far and not daring to get out of the warm water when it’s freezing cold.

 Harry has had enough vodka to make him loosen up a bit too much though, and he has to concentrate to not snuggle up to Louis, or hold his hand, or kiss him when he looks at his glossy lips.

 He’s pretty sure Louis is no different, because he can feel a hand here and there before it quickly disappears, and doesn’t dare turning to see him stare at him with the brightest smile when he makes a joke no one finds funny but him.

 It’s getting a bit tricky to hold themselves back though, especially when Louis tries to get up but slips and falls right on Harry’s crotch. The latter squeaks in pain but still holds Louis on top of him by his waist instead of insulting him and pushing him away as he’s expected to.

 “Oh ! Sorry bab-“ Louis stops himself and pretends he didn’t just almost make the whole night a bit more tense. “Sorry !”

 They relax when they see Gemma and Lottie laughing loud, completely ignoring them, and panic when Liam looks at them with his brows furrowed, until he makes sure Harry’s okay, no mention of the almost pet name.

 “Do you need some ice ?!” Liam asks, ready to go get Harry an iceberg to soothe his pain.

 “It’s alright, I’ll go…” Harry whispers, holding himself all the way out of the pool.

 “I’ll go with him.” Louis tells Liam who was already getting out to help his friend.

 Harry walks awkwardly to his towel to dry off a bit to not wet the whole house, frowning all the way to the freezer. He takes out a freezer bag from one of the many drawers he opened, and tries to lift his hand to pick a few ice cubes, but it’s a bit difficult when his other hand is trying to keep his genitals together.

 “Here, let me do it.” Louis comes behind him and takes the bag to fill it with the ice as Harry leans against the counter, squinting and not letting go of his sensitive parts.

 “Will you still want me if I don’t have a dick anymore ?” Harry asks in pain and Louis bursts out laughing, filling the kitchen with a loud ‘HAHAHA’ that makes Harry smile through the suddenly decreasing pain.

 “I dunno, I’ve grown quite fond of your cock, love… I’m not sure I could survive without it.” Louis uses a serious voice and Harry can’t help cackling, tilting his head back as he slowly heals from the incident.

 “Let’s put the ice on then, before you die on me.” Harry chuckles but makes no gesture to retrieve the bag.

 “You know they’re not gonna fall if you let go, right ?” Louis asks, waiting for Harry to take the ice from him.

 “You don’t know that.”

 “Here.” Louis gets closer to him and places the freezer bag over Harry’s hand before sliding it away slowly with the free hand. He places the ice right on Harry’s sore spot and looks in the air in playful desperation when Harry groans in his ear and drops his head on his shoulder, as if the ice had just given him new organs.

 “Can you hit me in the balls all the time so you can do that afterwards ?” Harry sighs happily and Louis starts shaking by giggling too much.

 “I’m sorry baby, I didn’t mean to.” Louis whispers and kisses Harry’s neck, making his stomach tickle and his chest burn in the best way possible.

 Harry rests his hand over Louis’ to adjust the pressure, and he might not be feeling anything anymore, this is nice, so Louis doesn’t have to know.

“Ok, I think I’m good now.” Harry says after a while when he feels his crotch freeze. He straightens his back and moves his and Louis’ hand away. “Yep, penis intact ! You get to live Lou !”

 “You’re such an idiot.” Louis shakes his head and chuckles as he puts the frozen bag on the counter. He brings Harry’s face closer with his hands and pecks his lips before kissing him properly, slowly hiding his fingers into his wet hair.

 Harry turns them around and lifts Louis up on the counter when he reaches up his thighs, never breaking the kiss. Louis moans loudly already and Harry wonders how he managed to do that, but he soon finds out he had just been sitting on the ice so they both laugh and get rid of it before resuming their kiss.

 He thinks he’ll soon pass out when Louis squeezes his bum like his life depended on it, and whimpers into his mouth at the unexpected touch.

 “We should probably…” Louis says between two kisses. “…go back outside…” He lets Harry suck on his bottom lip as he adds “…now.” and gives mixed signals when he wraps his legs around Harry’s waist.

 “Hmm hmm…” Harry nods but makes no effort to pull away, and neither does Louis.

 “Okay. I’m stopping.” Louis ends the last kiss but keeps his hands firm on Harry’s butt.

 “You sure about that ?” Harry covers Louis’ hands with his own behind him and giggles into his neck.

 “It’s those shorts ! How do you expect me to keep my hands off when you’re wearing this ?!” Louis almost whines, making Harry laugh even more.

 “You didn’t seem to mind at the beach the first time I wore them…” Harry says as he sucks on Louis’ neck.

 “I beg to differ.” Harry smirks against Louis and gives him one last peck before stepping away.

 It takes the sound of Gemma’s hysterical laugh to make them sigh all the way to the pool. 

 “Finally !” Lottie exclaims from where she’s standing, towel around her waist.

 Harry realizes they might have spent too much time in the kitchen, because everyone’s practically completely dry and ready to go home.

 They all hug Liam and thank him for the pool before climbing over the fence and going inside. The girls go to their room and Harry finds himself racing to his with Louis, running in the hallway like lunatics.

 “I win !” Louis yells when he gets in first, right after pulling Harry backwards to get in front.

 “But you cheated !” Harry grunts.

 “You have no proof.” Louis crosses his arms and Harry gives him a wry smile, wondering when cheating became this adorable.

 Harry closes the door behind him and makes sure to lock it before walking to the bathroom.

 “Wanna take a shower ?” He wiggles his eyebrows and he’s not sure it’s very attracting but he still goes with it.

 “Wanna catch a cold ?” Louis asks back, wiggling his eyebrows to mimic him.

 Harry starts sulking and slides his shorts down anyway before walking into the bathroom naked, Louis’ eyes all over him.

 “Fuck it.” Louis mutters and takes his own swim shorts off before joining Harry.

 They wait for the water to be hot enough as they try their best to stay quiet, knowing the bathroom is right next to Jay and Des’ bedroom. One subjective noise and they’re as good as dead.

 Louis gets in first, letting the water pour over him and push his hair back, skin shining as Harry tries to remember how to move his legs. Louis notices and stretches an arm to offer him his hand. Harry takes it and is pulled inside, closing the rather useless curtain that’s only here for the looks and not shielding the water from everything else.

 They did intend to have an actual shower, but all they end up doing is extending the pool games into the steaming little space.

 The only use for the soap is so Louis can blow bubbles with his hands, Harry doing the same as they engage in a ‘who will make the biggest bubble’ battle. They try their best not to laugh too loud, which makes them choke a bit and cry, faces red as they giggle in each other's neck.

 They end up kissing for ages under the jet, enjoying the wetness of their lips under the water and the heat of their bodies touching enough to pass as one. Harry hadn’t seen all of Louis yet, and he was starting to think he’d have to find a way to make up for every day he’s spent not staring at this body.

 When they step outside after way too long and brush their teeth, they’re shivering in the freezing air in contrast of the shower. It would be bearable if they’d changed in the bathroom, but they had to go to the bedroom, which turned out to be even colder, wet hair and shaking bodies braving the cold with only a small towel each to protect themselves.

 Louis slips into his onesie and Harry reconsiders mocking him for it because it looks warm and comfortable and he just really wants one right now. He gets his thickest pair of sweatpants and decides on his ‘Bazinga!” red tee and searches for a warm enough sweater without success.

 “You can take one of mine if you want…” Louis tells him when he sees how distressed and freezing Harry looks.

 Harry takes the hoodie hanging behind the door and sighs from pleasure when he pulls it to his waist. It’s the hoodie Louis had when he’d first met him and it feels way better than he’d expected that day. It’s soft and warm and smells just like Louis, which is a plus. It looks slightly smaller on him but he enjoys neatly fitted clothes, so it’s perfect really.

 He chooses his fluffy rainbow socks to put on and rolls his eyes when Louis laughs at them. He feels a sense of victory, however, when Louis is quick to rub his bare feet against the socks when they get into Harry’s bed.

 “Do you believe in God ?” Louis asks after a while when they’re thumb wrestling.

 Harry doesn’t answer right away. He hasn’t talked about this for a long time and he’s not that sure he wants to go there.

 “Do you ?”

 “Yes.” Louis says, tongue sticking out in the corner of his mouth in concentration as he tries to escape Harry’s thumb.

 “Why ?” Harry doesn't even struggle when he traps Louis’ tiny thumb compared to his. He knows he could win every round, but the look on Louis’ face is a bit too precious to take away as he fights his way in Harry’s hand, so he lets him win after that.

 “I believe there’s something greater than us, guiding us through life towards the good, and, like, just looking after us I guess ?”

 “You believe in Heaven and Hell ?”

 “I do. I believe in Evil and everything that implies that God is real.” Louis explains and sighs after his fifth lost round.

 “So you think there’s a bearded guy up there waiting to judge our mistakes and determine our sanity upon our fulfilled desires ?” Harry asks as he drops his hand between them, looking at Louis with serious and utterly confused eyes.

 “Maybe not all desires deserve to be fulfilled…”

 “And who is to say that ? I mean…I would be insane if I didn’t satisfy some of my cravings. Choosing to explore your dark side keeps you sane and alive. And by that I do mean sinning can be a good thing.”

 “But then there wouldn’t be the good or bad, it would just be what you do and what you don’t do, no values, no sense of what’s wrong or right, no difference between an act of kindness and a crime…And that can’t be right. I think you can only attract good things in life by being as virtuous as you can be.” Louis is looking down at their hands, brushing his fingers against Harry’s knuckles.

 “I’ve done some bad things, but He still led me to you…”

 “Exactly what I’m saying.” Louis mutters and stops his fingers to tuck them under his cheek with his other hand. “Have you always had this conviction that God just cannot exist ? Is it because you're a scientist ?”

 “Not really…” Harry looks away from Louis and frowns. He brings his joined hands between his legs and stares at them as he continues. “I used to be very religious actually.”

“What ?!” Louis says a bit too loud. “What ?” He whispers.

 “Yeah, I know, huge shock !” Harry widens his eyes with a smile. “But I was baptized and I said my prayers at night and did go through the whole educational part until I made my first communion.”

 “I mean, I figured you had made it given your knowledge during mass and everything but, I just thought you were never religious and had been forced to or something…”

 “I was forced…in a way. But I didn’t mind. I was taught God was my first father and my friend.” Harry shrugs. He absentmindedly fidgets with the threads coming out of Louis’ onesie as he keeps talking. “My mom was a catholic as well, raised in the tradition. She convinced my dad to put us in a catholic school and he agreed since he didn’t have a problem with us getting some sort of knowledge on the religion to make our own choices later on.”

 “Why did you stop adhering to it ?”

 “Well…” Harry raised his eyebrows, preparing himself to tell a story he had never told anyone. “When I was ten, my mom and I were driving to Sunday school. It was still pretty early, so I kept dozing off. She turned for a split second to run her hand in my hair and…all I know is that, right after that, we were rushing to the hospital.”

 Louis doesn’t say anything, doesn’t move or try to comfort him, and Harry’s glad because it feels like if he does anything, it’ll start something he wouldn’t be able to contain.

 “They explained that a drunk driver had just charged at us full speed and I was lucky to make it with just a few stitches. My mom wasn’t as great though. She had been unconscious since the accident and they had told us to wait…and just pray.”

 Harry licks his lips and blocks his hands a bit harder between his thighs, gathering enough strength to go on.

 “So that’s what I did. I went to church everyday after school with my dad and Gemma. I went in the chapel at my school and I stayed on my knees for hours until they told me to go home. I was praying before going to sleep, praying waking up, just praying whenever I had the chance.”

 Harry stops for a brief moment when he feels his cheeks heat and his lips shake, eyes starting to be flooded with images of nights spent sleeping in the little blue chapel.

 “We were at the hospital a few weeks after and were chatting around her when she died. I had spent hours begging. It was the only thing I was doing, begging God to let my mom with me, begging Him to forgive me for the way I took her for granted, begging Him to let her comb my hair just one last time…”

 “Harry I-“

 “But she didn’t wake up Louis. She didn’t survive and all I thought was, I begged Him. I begged until my knees went numb, and He still took her away from us.”

 “Come here.” Louis murmurs and pulls Harry in his arms, letting him cry in his shoulder as he rubs his back gently.

 “I hadn’t done anything Lou…I was ten and I still had all the innocence in me, yet your so called God decided to punish me. So I decided that if He was capable of creating so much pain despite His words of love, then there was no way He was real.” Harry sobs, digging his fingers in Louis’ back as he wets his neck.

 “I don’t know why shitty stuff happen to good people, and I don’t know why God allows so much pain for one person. But what I do know is that, if he’s capable of taking someone so special from you, he’s also able to guide you to something greater to even it out. It doesn’t mean it’ll fix the pain, but it’ll make you see that life is worth it…in spite of it.”

 Harry doesn’t respond to that. He calms down and keeps nuzzling up against Louis’ neck, soothed by the careful rub on his back.

 One of them might be wrong, the both of them might be wrong, and they would never know. But what Harry is sure of when he falls asleep in Louis’ arms, it’s that, whatever he did for ‘God’ to lead him to Louis, he’d do it again in a heartbeat.

 

*****

 

“Morning gorgeous…”

 Harry didn’t expect to start the day with these words whispered by the sweetest voice he’s ever heard, but he’s definitely happy about it.

 He’s covering Louis’ body entirely, head on his chest, arm around his waist, one leg between his and his hair probably choking him.

 “Hiiii…” Harry yawns, bringing his chin up to admire the piece of art stroking his hair. If God really does exist, then he sculpted this boy for days to get it this perfect. “You’re still in bed ? How come ?”

“Couldn’t really move with a giant lying on me…” Louis snorts.

Harry gasped and quickly unpeeled himself from Louis, but he was pulled right back on the bed.

 “Hey ! I didn’t say I didn’t like it !” Louis giggles, making Harry chuckle as well as he lays down the same way he had last night.

 “Breakfast !” A voice shouted from downstairs, making the both of them grunt.

 “I don’t wanna go ! I don’t wanna get out of bed ! Ever !” Harry pouts and positions himself on top of Louis, hugging him tight before unzipping his onesie, just enough to kiss his chest.

 “We don’t have to...” Louis smiles and looks up at the ceiling as Harry continues to kiss every corner of his torso. “We have water from the sink, the apple tree his high enough to pick some so we wouldn’t starve, we have wifi, and I’m sure they’ll stop searching for us at some point.”

 “But I don’t like apples.” Harry gives an upside down smile before climbing up to peck Louis’ lips.

 “Really ? That’s the only thing wrong with that plan in your opinion ?” Louis raises his brows before kissing Harry back, swallowing his giggles in his mouth.

 “I could eat you though…” Harry whispers and nibbles at Louis’ ear before softly biting his neck.

 “Mmh…Not sure about that baby…I mean, unless I smell like bananas or something, I don’t think I’d satisfy you for long.” Louis says as if he’s taking this very seriously, and Harry just smirks because Louis has noticed he basically lives off banana supplies.

 “You’re better than any banana I’ve ever had. And I’m sure you’d fill me up just right…”

 “Oh yeah ?” Louis smirks and is pleased with another gentle kiss as Harry nods and bring his hand between his legs to check.

 “Yes. Just right.”

 “Boys ! Breakfast !” Gemma shouts in the hallway before banging on their door. “And unlock that door. If you die in there we’d never know and I don’t need this sort of American Horror Story trauma in my life !”

 Both Louis and Harry start howling with laughter and it takes a lot for them, but they eventually get up. Harry stretches his arms and grabs a hair tie to do a quick bun before opening the door, bumping right into his sister.

 “Fucking finally !” She groans and steps away.

 “Good morning to you too…” Harry mutters.

 “Since when are you two sharing clothes ?” She frowns, looking at Louis’ hoodie on Harry. “Anyway, I’m glad you’re not trying to kill each other anymore, but I’m starving and everybody’s supposed to be at the table to start. So come on ! Get moving !”

 Harry and Louis are pushed by Gemma all the way to the stairs. She lets them go midway in the living room and starts skipping to the table, letting them slow down to playfully nudge each other and giggle as if they weren’t just wrestling with their elbows like five year olds.

 “Morning boys !” Jay grins. Louis goes to kiss his mother’s cheek and pats Lottie’s head on his way to his usual chair.

 Harry high fives Lottie as usual and waves everyone else hello, trying to ignore the looks on the hoodie he’s wearing, because he has no will to take it off anytime soon.

 He pours some hot tea in his cup and drinks it rapidly to create some sort of heat in him, but he feels too cold and wonders why everyone’s in rolled up sleeves and shorts when he thinks about getting his blanket.

 All he needs is one quick breeze, and he’s suddenly sneezing three times in a row. He’s starting to sniffle and figures spending so much time naked with wet hair in the middle of the cold night wasn’t the best idea in the world.

“Bless you !” Jay happily says and Harry opens his mouth to thank her, but sneezes again instead.

“Are you okay ? Do you have allergies or something ?” Lottie asks and Harry doesn’t really know how to tell her it’s just because he wanted to shower with her brother at three in the morning.

“No, I’m good, I’m g-“ He stops and is about to sneeze again, but nothing happens, so he just wiggles his nose and reaches for a napkin to blow it.

It could’ve been nothing. It could’ve passed as a simple cold and runny nose, but all goes downhill when Louis starts coughing and, by the sound of it, he’d been choking trying to keep it in.

“Louis, you alright ?” Des rests a hand on Louis’ shoulder and all he gets in return is a quiet sneeze, trapped in his hands.

“What’s up with you ?” Gemma asks, looking at her brothers like she’s trying to unravel a mystery.

 “Nothing.” They say in unison, but Harry blows his nose again and Louis is dying trying not to cough is lungs out.

“Oh, Boo Bear…” Jay checks Louis’ forehead and makes him look at her. He has reddening eyes from keeping his coughing to a minimum, and he looks like he’s going to crumble.

“You two should go back to your room. You look a bit poorly. You’ve probably caught some kind of germ and passed it to each other. Go on, I’ll bring you some porridge and a cup of honey and lemon tea in bed !”

They both thank her with hoarse voices and make their way back up. They consider laying in the same bed before remembering slight details, and lay down in their respective bed.

It only takes a few seconds for Louis to say “Told yah…” with his sassy voice.

“I knew I shouldn’t have listened to your ‘we’re too close to them’ speech. I wouldn’t be complaining at all right now if I at least got to suck your-“

“Here it is !” Jay comes out of nowhere into the room and Louis looks horrified, surely thanking God he didn’t finish his sentence.

“Thanks b’mom…” Louis says in his nose and sips at his tea.

“Thank you very much.” Harry sniffles and takes the tea as well, hoping it’ll make this thing disappear fast enough.

“We had plans to go hiking today, but we’ll just postpone it if you don’t feel well.” Jay announces.

“So--rry !” Harry sneezes the first syllable and flops his head back on the pillow as he sighs the second.

“No need to apologize ! I’ll be downstairs if you need anything, just yell my name and I’ll be running over here in no time !”

“Thanks…” Harry says weakly as he closes his eyes and sinks into the mattress, drifting away, thinking he indeed should’ve let Louis suck on whatever he wanted in that shower.

When Harry opens his eyes, he’s sure he can hear words coming out of Louis’ mouth, but he has no clue what they are. He can speak English, French and German, yet he can’t make out one word Louis is grumbling.

Louis was sleep talking, saying nonsense in the pillow with Harry sneezing as he laughed.

“Tea…I do and *indescribable sound* for…face that…telly…” Louis’ talk is just a series of words that have nothing to do with each other. Harry keeps laughing quietly though, and looks up at the ceiling, trying to fall asleep again, until he hears something he has no struggle to understand.

“Harry…and…Harry too…” Louis whispers between two light snores. Harry thinks about respecting his privacy, but he’s too far from his laptop and can’t bother reading a book or sleep, so he could use the entertainment.

“What about him ?” He murmurs and slams a hand on his mouth not to laugh when Louis frowns and brings his finger to his mouth.

“Shhhh…Can’t say…Harry has…” Louis mumbles. “...Princess hair…”

“What else does he have ?” Harry grins and brings his hands under his cheek on the mattress to enjoy the odd confessions.

“Lips…lips good…lips very good lips…” Louis weakly nods to himself. “Hips…Soft cherub hips…Baby hips…I like his baby hips.” Louis nods.

Harry blushes and figures he shouldn’t be getting the words out like that, no matter how amusing it is. Louis would probably kill him if he knew what he was doing. He tries to grab his phone, however, to record just a few seconds of the little show to watch whenever he feels like it.

He slides his thumb to open the camera, but he does it too fast and gets the entire phone to glide and fall on the floor. Louis jumps at the sound and quickly wipes the corner of his mouth before opening his eyes.

“Sorry !” Harry squints.

“My god, you drop that thing more than you use it !” Louis huffs.

“Shush !” Harry scolds and takes his phone to put it back on the nightstand, trying to cope with having no footage of Louis talking about him in his sleep.

 

It takes them over four days to stop coughing and sniffling every second.

They mostly stay in bed and chat from across the room and sneak into each other’s bed when they can, ignoring how many pauses they have to take from cuddling to blow their nose.

They haven’t been away from each other at all, watching movies downstairs, ignoring the empty spots next to them on the large couch to invade each other’s personal space entirely and end up swinging a leg over the other’s thigh under the blanket.

They spend hours on the swing set outside, chatting about everything and nothing, swaying until they can’t see each other in the dark anymore.

After four lazy days inside though, all they want is to go outside and see other things than what the house has to offer. They decide to take a quick trip to the beach together and try to sound as normal as possible when the whole family looks at them like they just entered a parallel universe.

They don’t argue anymore and they don’t spend the day screaming around the house, and it indeed must look very strange for an outsider. They try not to push it though. They sometimes fake a fight or insult each other, giggling discretely when it happens.

Des even asks if Jay has something to do with them hanging out just the two of them, or if Liam will join them, but she assures him she’s not behind it and Liam is not even within sight. Plus, they really just want to enjoy the beach by themselves, getting away from the house where they always have to hide and jump at the sound of footsteps.

“Two.” Louis sighs. “Football mate in Year 12 and drama partner in second year of uni.”

“One.” Harry says as he picks up a gummy bear between them. They could’ve gone for the sandwiches or the pastries in that gas station, but there was a huge discounted pack of gummy bears with new flavours, so they didn’t really have a choice.

“One ?!” Louis exclaims, clearly surprised.

“Yeah…Why ? You thought I had shagged every guy on my way ?” Harry chuckles.

“No but…I mean…”

“I don’t give myself easily. It takes a lot of trust…and other things.” Harry says as he digs his toes in the sand.

“So you and Diego…”

“No. We had our first kiss and first cigarette and first hangover and a few other things…But not that. I wasn’t ready.”

“I wish I had waited a bit more too. The first one was rough and wasn’t really patient. It hurt a lot and I decided never to go through that sort of pain again…I adjusted, but it wasn’t mind blowing…” Louis admits and lays down on the beach towel.

“And the other one ?”

“I had educated myself since and experimented a bit, so it was more fun and enjoyable. We were just friends, still are, so it was a bit weird sometimes to know he could have been with someone else before me, but it was easy and I reminded myself I couldn’t really handle a relationship anyway.”

Harry nodded and turned to look down at Louis, peacefully tanning with his eyes closed, sun burning his chest.

“You didn’t put sunscreen on, did you ?” Harry frowns.

“Um…Yes ?” Louis squints, not convincing at all, making Harry reach behind him to take the bottle and apply the cream on him as he spoke.

“Jeff was a complete jerk who didn’t care about me, but made me believe he’d get me the world if I wanted.” Harry says as he spreads the sunscreen. “He forbade me to hang out with my friends if he wanted to see me, even though he often stood me up. Back.” He taps Louis’ tummy to make him flip over.

Louis obliges and lays on his stomach, and Harry straddles him to continue his task.

“He got mad when I didn’t answer his calls, kept deciding what I could or could not wear and how to behave around his friends…I really cared about him for some reason and he always managed to get into my head and say what I wanted to hear, so I kept taking him back no matter how many times I tried ending things.”

Louis is listening attentively under him, enjoying Harry’s hands massaging his shoulders and lower back as if he’d done this his whole life.

“Then on Christmas Eve, we weren’t supposed to be together, since my dad hated him and wanted nothing to do with him. He said no when I asked if he could come home with me, so I refused to go home altogether to stay with Jeff in London. I wanted to surprise him, so I showed up at his flat when his best friend told me he’d be there with his sister.”

Harry takes his time to apply enough pressure with his thumbs between Louis’ shoulder blades, trying to take down every knot he feels, Louis groaning under him, hands stroking Harry’s legs on each side of his hips.

“I grabbed the spare key I knew he kept under the doormat, and quietly walked in. I was wearing the clothes he had bought me and was carrying way too many DIY presents I had spent days making. I heard him in his room so I didn’t hesitate to open the door and…Let’s just say the ornaments on his Christmas tree weren’t the only balls he was enjoying that day.”

“What a fucking-“

“Yeah.”

“Please tell me you didn’t forgive him ?”

“Of course not. But it was still hard to swallow. I think I knew he was cheating, but I guess I needed to see it to realize…I threw away the presents and decided to erase him from my life…and I just never saw him again.” Harry shrugs and climbs off Louis to lay down next to him. “Not until he posted pictures of him and the guy everywhere not even a day after at least. He didn’t even try to apologize, saying I was just too sensitive and clingy and that he had some needs I was too lame to satisfy…”

“What a fucking dick. I’m so sorry…You don’t deserve any of that.” Louis turns back to expose his chest under the sun again and slides his hand in Harry’s, rubbing the back with his thumb. Harry just pouts in the corner of his mouth as if to say ‘it is what it is’ and leans on his side.

"Lou ?" Harry calls after a long silence.

"Hmm ?"

“What do you think will happen ?” He asks with fear in his eyes.

“I don’t know, love.” Louis says and leans on his side as well, face to face as they play with each other’s hand.

“I don’t want this to stop…”

“Me neither.” Louis comes closer and kisses Harry slowly, a gentle peck that somehow said all the things Harry’s ever wanted someone to tell him.

He’s enjoying the heat on his face as much as the heat in his body, and purrs under Louis’ hand stroking his hair, the wind tickling his nose with sea air and the smell of freshly applied sunscreen.

“…but we should end it before it gets too far.” Harry suddenly says and is met with the very look he had wished never to see.

“What ?”

“They love each other and they’re getting married Louis. It’s not fair of us to ruin that for them.”

“Harry don’t-“

“I thought it wasn’t that bad, that we could just do whatever and not think about the future yet. But every day makes it harder Lou...” Harry looks up at him, only to see Louis sit up and clench his jaw, staring at the couple hugging in the distance, probably wondering why they get to be with the one they want.

“But you were the one saying ‘forget about them’.” Louis’ angry voice is starting to return from war and Harry feels his insides tighten. “You were the one saying that satisfying our desires kept us sane.”

“I know... But then I saw the way your mom and my dad looked at each other. I saw the happiness in their eyes. And I’ve been feeling sick to my stomach ever since.”

“Fine. Let’s stay away from each other then.” Louis said curtly.

“We don’t have to stay away. We could just…not be as close ?”

“But I don’t see the point of being around you if I can’t keep you close.” Louis says quietly and purses his lips, digging a stick in the sand in front of his crossed legs.

“So you want us to be…nothing ? Just ignore each other ?” Harry frowns, knowing he’s incapable of doing that.

“Isn’t that what you want though ?”

“I’m just trying to not hurt them !”

“But what about us ?! What about us getting hurt ?!” Louis starts shouting and Harry’s not sure he wants to keep talking. So he doesn’t. He looks away from him and tries to ignore the thousand knives in his stomach.

The only voices now are the ones of the children running around calling for their parents. The wind is stronger and the sun has stopped burning, letting a few clouds suppress the comfortable heat they were previously lying in.

“Let’s go back to the house.” Louis says with his demanding voice.

“Lou-“

“I said. Let’s go back to the house.”

They pick up their towels and gummy bears and walk to the car in silence.

The drive home is no better and Louis keeps his eyes glued on the window whilst Harry keeps his on the road.

When they arrive, there’s a slight pause before Louis takes a deep breath and still doesn’t acknowledge Harry before getting out and slamming the door.

Harry stays in the car. He doesn’t dare going inside, doesn’t dare being in the same space as Louis knowing they can’t share it the way they want.

He doesn’t know for how long he’s been sitting there, not until Liam gets in next to him. Harry still doesn’t move and just wipes his wet cheeks with the back of his hand.

“Wanna talk about it ?”

“How did you find me ?” Harry asks, aware of the dozens of texts he’s been ignoring the whole time.

“Louis told me you were here…” Harry tries not to flinch hearing the name he’s been trying to ignore for the past…whatever how long he’s been sitting in that minivan. He stays silent and stares at his hands on his lap, stroking his palm as if to feel Louis’ fingers on it.

“Isawyou.” Liam says fast, squinting as if to take off a band aid.

“What ?”

“I thought you hadn’t found the ice…So I went to help. And I saw you.”

Harry squints and pinches his lips briefly before sighing.

“I thought it was weird you guys were touching a lot in the pool and I convinced myself I hadn’t nearly heard Louis call you ba-“

“There’s nothing to talk about.” Harry says before he’s reminded of what he’s supposed to forget.

“Are you sure ?”

“Yes. We’re family, nothing else.”

Liam must see Harry’s not willing to talk further, because he turns on the radio and sits back, seeing how Harry is just not ready to get out of this car, but not willing to leave him alone when he looks this upset.

They stay there without talking and Harry rests his head on the seat to focus on the songs. He thinks Carla Bruni might be mocking him though, and he finds himself internally collapsing with each word tearing him apart as he translates them.

 

They tell me our lives aren’t worth much

They pass in an instant as roses fade

They tell me time slipping is a bastard

From our sorrows coats are made

Yet someone told me…that you loved me still

 

Would it be possible then ?

 

He’s never been more angry at himself for speaking French. His heart is aching and the singing voice goes through his veins and crushes him inside.

 

They tell me fate of us could not care less

Gives us nothing but promises it all

Rumour has it happiness is at hand

So we reaches out and become insane

And yet someone told me…that you loved me still

 

Would it be possible then ?

 

As the song finishes, Harry is nothing but his shadow. He lets Liam enjoy the music, but he can no longer let himself feel anything. Because if he does, he’ll feel all the things he’s not allowed to, and he’d rather feel nothing than the pain that causes.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

“Harry ! Someone’s here for you !” Jay calls from the front door.

When Harry gets up from his deck chair and steps inside, Diego is already sitting in the kitchen next to Jay who’s serving him some tea. She’s smiling to her ears and seems very interested in whatever Harry’s friend is telling her.

“Hi !” Harry hugs him and sits down to have some tea as well.

He had made it clear he wanted to be just friends and Diego had gladly accepted, agreeing that it didn’t feel like before. They kept spending time together though, enjoying how comfortable they are around each other and genuinely happy to reminisce.

Harry would normally go to his house, but Diego had insisted to pick him up to go see a movie no one else wanted to see but them, a three hour documentary about satellites.

“Jay, this is my friend Diego.”

“Oh I know darling, we talked before you arrived. I didn’t know you could set up a tent in less than a minute, it’ll come in handy if we ever go camping !” Harry panics a bit, not knowing just how much Diego shared about the summer camp days.

“Yeah, and he’s the best to find great spots to set them up, kissing on rocks wouldn’t have been as great !” Diego chuckles and Harry chokes on his tea.

Jay on the other hand, still looks delighted and laughs with him.

“So you two were together ? Are you…”

“Oh no ! We’re just good friends now. But this cheeky chap was my first crush !” Diego winks at Harry who’s wondering how long it’ll take to die if he stabbed himself with a teaspoon.

“How lovely !” Jay coos and Harry’s not too sure what’s happening. “You have to stay for dinner tonight ! I won’t take no for an answer.”

“Well, if Harry is okay with it…?” Diego turns to look at his friend who’s been speechless and completely lost. He masks his confusion with a smile and tries to not give hundreds of ‘what’ as an answer.

“Sure…”

“It’s settled then ! I hope you like bouillabaisse !” Jay claps her hands in anticipation.

“I practically grew up on my dad’s boat. My blood is half seafood.” Diego grins and Jay beams at that. “I think we should head to the movie now, but thanks again ma’am. I’m looking forward to tasting your cuisine.”

“What a lovely guy ! And please, call me Jay. I’ll see you both at seven. Have fun !”

Harry is certain he’s entered an alternate universe. Sure, Jay had never said anything even remotely homophobic per se, but he just thought that with Louis hiding his sexuality and her being so strict and traditional…It just made sense.

He wonders if Louis knows that, wonders if he should tell him his mom just gave him her blessing to talk about his first boyfriend. But they haven’t talked in days, and he doesn’t really know how to say one word to him without a thousand more begging to go out.

They make it to the movie ten minutes late, but only miss the commercials and even have enough time to grab some pop corn. The movie teaches nothing new at first so Harry leans back in his seat, and rests his feet on the empty seat in front of him, to just enjoy rediscovering everything he knows already about the moon, with another perspective.

When they go back to Harry’s, the table is already set up in the dining room, changing from the usual table outside that became unusable with the rain that hasn’t stopped pouring all day.

“Diego ! How are you ?!” Des greets Harry’s friend, pulling him in a warm embrace before walking him all the way to the dining room as he takes news of his dad.

Harry had never had troubles talking boys with Des. He didn’t even need to come out for his dad to know. He was six when he asked him why the sister of the boy he liked called him names, and Des had been quick to tell him that these names didn’t define him no matter who he chose to like, and to never feel ashamed for not liking girls like his friends did. 

He had taught his children about boys, feelings wise and beyond, when they reached their respective age of curiosity, and didn’t hesitate to look up how it’ll work out for Harry, giving a completely different speech to his son and his daughter, with the same conclusion.

Anne wasn’t as comfortable at first but quickly understood when she heard him talk about boys and girls from school and the difference in his voice or the smiles he had. It didn’t make him any less of a wonderful child, so she accepted it as well.

Harry felt more than comfortable sharing everything with his dad. From his crush in middle school to his broken heart a few months ago. His dad had heard every story and every date and every feeling Harry could have or question, and would always give the best advice without ever judging his son.

So of course Des knew Diego very well, and he really was a nice guy, so he had no problem welcoming him in his home and treating him like his own son.

Everyone gathered progressively around the table and Harry sat next to Diego, facing his sister. Des was at one end between his children and Jay on the other between Lottie and the guest.

When Louis arrived after everyone, he spotted the extra chair added next to Gemma and faked a smile when Diego said hello, not very pleased to see him again.

“That’s delicious !” The guest mumbled when he took a second bite of Jay’s meal. She blushed and was about to start a deep conversation about cooking mussels, but Des coughed so she became very aware that he might not be into this sort of discussion.

They spend the whole dinner talking about Diego and his father and what it’s like to live abroad and how he and Harry share the same passion for languages and long documentaries…

It’s going just fine. Except for the looks Louis has been giving Harry’s friend the whole time.

He uses a rude tone when he asks tricky questions, forcing awkward silences on the table even his mom can’t keep from happening. He started to get annoyed at all the attention Harry’s ex boyfriend was getting by his own family, rolling his eyes every time he spoke, and Harry’s pretty sure it wasn’t an accident when he dropped the salt holder in his bowl, splashing bouillabaisse all over his Persian green shirt and insisted he thought Diego was catching it already.

When Harry grabbed a napkin to dry him off and started rubbing his chest, not really thinking it through, Louis kicked Harry’s shin, and that’s one thing Harry hadn’t expected to feel ever again.

“So Diego, how was summer camp back then? I’m sure it was incredible given the area.” Jay asks.

“It was…interesting…very wild…the nature I mean.” Diego chuckles, eyeing Harry to share a knowing look of what went down in the cabins at night. “We spent most days in the creeks, went hiking so much we could practically walk all the way home, and I still know how to make macramé bracelets in a snap !”

“S’not like it’s the hardest thing to do…” Louis mutters, all sassy like.

“Louis !” Jay scolds, so he goes to fix his fringe before realizing he had a quiff, and it seemed to make him even more pissed off.

They finish the diner shortly after and Diego makes plans to come back to chat with Jay about choosing the best shellfishes to cook…She was just very persuasive and he was very polite.

When Harry hugs him goodbye and goes back to his room, he finds Louis sitting on the bed with his earphones at full volume.He wants so bad to reassure him that Diego is nothing but a friend, wants so bad to kiss that frown away, wants so bad to get in the same bed and talk for hours about random things and tangle their feet under the covers…But he just swallows and goes in the bathroom to brush his teeth.

He can still feel him though. He wants nothing but to go back there and taste his tongue for hours and never let go of his hands while he breathes against his neck. He wants to hear his voice and drown in it, let him say whatever he wants as long as he never stop talking.

He spits the remaining toothpaste and rinses his mouth before looking at the door. He wraps his hand around the doorknob as if to open it, but doesn’t. He leans in instead and rests his forehead against the cold wood.

He gathers all the strength it takes to go out and pretend he’s not craving every inch of that boy, every laugh, every smile, every tint of smell and every word that comes out of his mouth and lulls Harry into what Heaven must feel like.

When he finally comes out, Louis is smoking on the balcony, and Harry wonders if he gave up trying to replace smoking by jogging all of a sudden, or if he feels the same way Harry does and just has to create some sort of pain to distract himself from the one that’s driving him insane.

Louis comes back after a while, probably thinking Harry fell asleep. But he hasn’t been able to rest since the day he’s been deprived of Louis’ warmth. Louis lays down on his bed and crosses his arms under his head, staring at the ceiling in the silence.

“You should tell your mom about your sexuality.” Harry suddenly says. He figures them not being able to be together is no reason to keep him from being himself around his family and everyone else if he feels like it.

“What ?” Louis whispers weakly.

“She doesn’t have any problem with two guys together. You should tell her.”

“How do you know that ?”

“She found out who Diego was to me. She wasn’t even that surprised. And she didn’t set me on fire. So I think you’re good…” Harry says and thinks there’s nothing else to add, so he turns around and faces the wall to fall asleep.

“Thank you.” is all Louis says after a long while, probably keeping inside all the questions he has. “You didn’t have to tell me that. So thank you.”

Harry nods, knowing Louis’ looking at him, and closes his eyes to get over yet another day fighting himself.

It feels like he’s only been sleeping for ten minutes when he wakes up. Gemma and Lottie are yelling in the hallway and laughing too loud and Des keeps knocking on the door, so it’s impossible to keep trying to sleep some more.

“Morning…” Louis says from the corner of the room, wearing a white tee and grey sweat shorts. “…um…we’re going on a hike today...”

Harry doesn’t say anything back and just watches Louis put his trainers on before going out.

He gets up and goes for his white gym shorts and black tee after a quick shower, slips into his neon yellow Nikes, and goes downstairs.

The drive to the nearest forest is filled with annoying road trip songs everyone sings but Harry and Louis, too focused on the windows. When Gemma keeps bumping into her brother and singing loud in his ear, he gives up and starts yelling random things they spot on the road. They then switch to a Britney Spears karaoke however, and Harry stays mute the moment Louis sings, the pitch of his voice hypnotizing and spreading in the car just to torture Harry.

They arrive after two hours and his butt feels a bit numb when he gets out, but he’s excited to walk and breathe in the fresh air, and hear the leaves crack under his feet, and watch the trees swaying in the wind…

They’re walking along the track specially made for hikers and enjoying the beautiful day and how empty the park is, educated by Des’ knowledge of every bird and every tree and every little flower they can spot.

“Ouch !” Lottie winces as they start climbing a hill.

Harry and Louis immediately run to her and give her a hand when she hops on one foot. Their arms fight behind her back to carry her and they briefly look at each other before focusing back on her pain.

“It’s a thorn ! It’s in my shoe !” Lottie whines and both Harry and Louis squat down to get it off.

They both try to take the shoe and argue about who’s going to do it, rushed by Lottie’s whimpering.

When her foot is out, there’s a massive thorn in her sock and they look at the shoe to see the hole that allowed the incident. Louis lets her lean on his shoulder and keeps her leg still as Harry picks the thorn out of her foot and throws it away before Louis can reach it.

“Thanks Hero !” Lottie sighs in relief and puts her shoe back on before joining the others, leaving her saviours to bicker.

“Just so you know, she meant me.” Louis remarks as he gets back up.

“I was the one getting the thorn out.”

“Only because you pushed me.”

“I pushed you because you pushed me !” Harry shouted.

“Because that was my job ! I’m her brother !”

“But I’m her brother too !”

Louis didn’t say anything after that and just kicked a rock, trying hard to pretend it didn’t hurt his foot like hell, making Harry giggle in his hand.

“Oh shut up…”

When they turn around, they’re alone. There’s no trace of any member of the family and they have no idea which way they went. They start walking up the hill nonetheless, until they come across a double path.

“I’m saying right.” Louis suggests.

“We always go left.” Harry says and starts walking towards the path he chose.

“I don’t see any footprint on the left. They went right.” Louis insists, refusing to follow Harry.

“They’re literally all over the track…We’re going left.” Harry turns to protest and keeps walking, expecting Louis to give in.

“Fine. You go left. I’ll go the right way.” Louis scowls, and starts walking the other way.

Harry tries to keep walking, but he knows that forest is gigantic and it’s too easy to get lost. So he cusses and turns back.

“Wait !”

 

 They’ve been walking for about twenty minutes when Harry recognizes the same weird bush they’ve walked past before.

 

“We’re going in circles.” Harry stops and brings his hands on his hips, exhausted by the blazing sun and lack of water. Maybe leaving his water in the car wasn’t a genius idea.

“No we’re not.”

“We’ve seen that bush twice already.”

“How can you possibly know that ? It’s a fucking pile of leaves and we’re in a fucking forest !” Louis is starting to lose his temper, surely aware they’re lost.

“Because look at the huge flower in the middle. It looks like a penis Louis. Hard to miss.”

“You’re just too obsessed with dicks you see them everywhere, now let’s keep going ! I don’t want to spend the night on a horror movie set.” Harry wants to laugh because it’s a little bit true, but he doesn’t want to admit it so he just rolls his eyes and follows Louis.

They keep walking for a while, until they spot the weird flower again as the brightness of the sun starts to fade.

“Fooking penis flower !” Louis yells at the sight of the red plant.

Instead of freaking out, Harry finds the nearest tree and sits down against it. He tries to get some kind of service on his phone for the hundredth time, but no bars appear. So he takes full advantage of the crisp air and mellow grass and closes his eyes to enjoy the nature while he’s dying of dehydration.

“I think we’re lost.” Louis grunts.

“You think…?”

 

Harry keeps enjoying the wind, the nature against his back, and the leaves between his fingers. He can hear Louis walk towards the tree and sit down next to him, lighting a cigarette by the sound of it.

“What the hell ?!” Louis complains when Harry takes the cigarette out of his mouth and crashes it on the grass.

“Can’t you just enjoy nature without choking on smoke for two seconds ? Where did you even fit that thing...” Harry frowns and goes back to leaning against the tree in silence.

The sound of the trees fighting the wind is almost deafening, in the most pleasant and soothing way. The soft breeze is brushing Harry’s hair, and he doesn’t have to look next to him to know Louis’ fixed his fringe over fifteen times a minute.

Harry turns his head and squints to make out the shape in the distance, and is quick to get up as soon as he recognizes the water fountain. He jogs towards it and Louis must’ve seen it too, because he’s right behind him.

It might just be water in theory, Harry feels like is being reborn. He tilts his head under the tap and lets it fall over his entire face, keeping his mouth open to drink it. He’s careful not to wet his hair by holding them out of reach, and keeps his head there like a puppy in the rain.

“Take your time…s’not like I’m melting over here…” Louis mutters, arms crossed and roll of eyes nearly reaching the back of his head.

Harry puts his hands under the water one last time to wash the dirt, and steps aside to let Louis go.

He watches as  he cups his both hands in the shape of a bowl and slouches to sip at it like a cat. He repeats the same gesture to splash his face with the water and drinks two more times before stopping the tap.

They stay quiet, enjoying a calm they hadn’t been able to feel in a while and the cold water still dripping on their face.

They find a marble bench near the fountain and sit there to take full view of the coast, wishing they had gone for the beach instead of a hike as the finally fresh wind takes away the heat.

“I talked to my mom.” Louis suddenly says. “She said she knew. She just thought I would tell her when I’d be ready.”

Harry opens his eyes at that and turns to face him to see he’s cracking a small smile.

“I couldn’t sleep last night and was thirsty so I went to the kitchen and ran into her. We spent the whole night talking about it and she apologized for making me feel like I couldn’t tell her about it. She never even believed in Eleanor. She just pretended not to make me uncomfortable. She said she wasn’t okay with it at first, didn’t understand it, but had talked to a priest recently who told her that love has no set rules and knows no standards, and that God is wherever love is.…She said she’d be glad to meet whoever I’d choose to be with, as long as he makes me happy.”

Harry doesn’t really know what to say without his extreme happiness showing, threatening to lead him somewhere he’s been avoiding to go. Yet at the same time, he can’t help feeling anger. He knows it’s selfish, but he can’t help being mad at the fact that he would’ve had a chance to be with him if they had met in other circumstances, cursing the universe and every little thing that led him to where they were trapped right now.

He can’t help being angry thinking about the fact that Louis can now freely be with someone he wants, just as long as it’s not him. And that sucks.

He gets up without a word and starts walking further into the forest, far from the lit track. Louis follows him in silence and he’s not sure if it’s to not lose him and find himself alone or if he means to say something else, but he doesn’t look back.

“You could at least say you’re happy for me ?” Louis yells from behind so Harry can hear him despite the distance between them.

“I’m happy for you.” Harry says, voice deep and dry .

He keeps walking but is stopped by Louis turning him by the shoulder.

“You don’t have to throw me a party, but I was expecting a bit more !”

“But how am I supposed to react ?! What do you want me to say ?!”

“I don’t know, ‘congrats on the coming out Louis and for talking to your biggest secret for the first time to your mom’ would’ve been nice ?!”

“Oh, then congratulations on your coming out Louis ! Now you can be with everyone you want but me ! Or maybe you’d prefer: Congrats on the freedom Louis ! Have fun letting someone treat you how I should ! Or no no ! Better yet: I’m so happy for you Louis ! Now you can live with your mom’s blessing to forget about us !” Harry says between his teeth and walks away.

“But you know why it’s like this !” Louis follows him. “And you act as if it’s any different with you…”

“What ?!” Harry turns.

“You think I like watching the way Diego gets to look at you ?! Or the way he gets to touch you without having to check if anyone saw him ?! You think I’m happy someone else gets to spend a day with you not worrying about what will happen next ?!” Louis has turned red and is spitting in fury, voice hitting Harry like a hammer.

Harry looks down and is seconds away from crying. He knows it’s the truth, and he can’t bear it. They’re both eventually going to have to let someone else in their life and pretend none of this ever happened, pretend every bone in their body isn’t craving the other the second they enter the same room.

He can’t look up, can’t face him, and he’s taken aback when he’s gently pushed against the tree next to him.

Louis is keeping his waist still against the trunk and locking his forehead with his and Harry can feel he’s on the verge of flooding his cheeks as well. They don’t look at each other though, just keep breathing heavily in each other’s face.

Harry wraps his hands around Louis’ neck and they keep fighting the urge to get closer, keep fighting the urge to forget what they’re reminded of everyday. But there’s no force strong enough to keep them apart right now, and they both come to the same conclusion when they press their lips together.

They’re kissing like the world is about to end, like they’re sharing their last breath and anything can come and destroy them any second.

Louis brings his hand on the back of Harry’s head as the latter pulls him by the hips, digging his fingers in the skin. He doesn’t take time to be gentle and just tilts his head back by pulling his hair in one move to suck on his neck.

Harry lets out a loud and deep groan as his head falls backwards, and he walks his hands on Louis’ back before dragging his fingers deep along his ribs, making him groan the same.

They quickly go back to kissing sloppily, nibbling and licking and barely making any effort to close their mouths to properly smack their lips, more interested in a mess of tongues than a soft peck.

They keep swallowing each other’s breaths and attacking each other’s back and hips and arse and they might sound like raging animals right now, they’ve been containing themselves and controlling their every move for too long. So now that it’s just the two of them, they don’t even waste time trying to think about anything other than devouring each other.

Harry lets go of Louis’ back to grab his crotch and starts massaging the growing bulge over his sweat shorts. He can’t bear the distance though, can’t bear how far he still is, so he slips his hand into his boxers and keeps rubbing his hand against Louis, enjoying the speed at which he’s hardening against his palm.

He turns them around when he feels him hard enough and drops to his knees, not waiting for Louis to say anything before getting his shorts and boxers to his ankles. He kisses his thighs and licks them like Louis had for him, biting the flesh as he would for the smoothest piece of fruit…and they most definitely must be looking like animals when Louis screams under Harry’s teeth.

Harry moans just by feeling Louis’ thighs in his hands and in his mouth, and he’s a bit breathless when he feels Louis’ erection poking his cheek. He looks up to see Louis staring at him as he touches himself, stroking his hard-on while Harry enjoys his thighs.

Harry keeps his hands strong behind them and gets his face even closer to Louis’ throbbing cock, parting his lips as he stares at the tip, just waiting to take him any time he wants him to. He feels Louis’ hand push his hair back and closes his eyes to almost purr and match the movement of Louis’ hand caressing his head. He looks up and opens his mouth wider, allowing Louis to guide himself in, never breaking eye contact.

Harry is already drooling and he can’t keep his eyes open as he tilts his head in every direction to suck on Louis’ length from all angles. He keeps sucking as he brings one hand to Louis’ balls and makes sure everything is being taken care of as he gets lost in Louis’ hand in his hair, massaging his scalp as he gets him off.

Louis pinches his lips to keep his moans from echoing in the whole forest, but he ends up cussing on a roll and repeats just how good Harry is being at this, which doesn’t help the latter who’s trying to suck properly with no distractions.

“I don’t want anyone else Harry…” Louis whispers, making Harry slow down and make a loud kissing noise when the gets him out of his mouth. He means to say something back, but he just rubs his thumb on the tip and licks Louis’ shaft instead before sucking again. He hollows his cheeks when he starts feeling the first drop of cum against his tongue and sticks his tongue out further to get all of him to reach this throat.

He can tell Louis’ trying hard not to thrust into his mouth, and removes his hands from Louis’ inner thigh to grasp his arse and push him forward slightly, making sure he knows he’s allowed to fuck his mouth a bit if he wants to.

So Louis does. He only moves gently and makes sure he doesn’t take over Harry’s role, but he does.

Chopping noises are coming out of him as Harry deepthroats, and the latter is pretty sure he’s not hallucinating when he hears him pray. It might be the last moment Harry would’ve thought he’d hear someone beg for forgiveness, but he can’t say it doesn’t pass as a reason to suck even harder, giving Louis a proper reason to ask God to excuse what they’re doing.

He takes him all the way down, twirls his tongue in the most obscene way possible, and keeps moaning and getting his own saliva all over his face trying to enjoy every inch of that man.

Louis is tugging at a handful of  his hair and pulls him away, but, as much as that pull wrecks him inside, he’s not missing out on tasting every bit of him.

He brings Louis’ leaking cock right back into his mouth and makes his hand meet his mouth before backing away a bit and sticking his tongue out, applying just enough pressure as he slides his hand up and down to get Louis’ cum to jet down his throat.

He licks Louis’ head one last time as he gets him through his orgasm, and whimpers when Louis is still holding on to his hair whilst moaning against the tree.

He pulls Louis’ shorts and boxers back on and stands up, wiping his mouth with his thumb and sucking the remaining cum on his fingers.

Louis kisses him, letting him know he has no trouble tasting himself on Harry’s tongue, and reaches down between them to return the favour. Harry sweeps his hand away though, and leans closer to his ear to whisper.

“That was your party, Lou.”

 

They’re lying on the grass after a quick trip to the fountain when they hear voices calling for them. Harry’s snuggled up against Louis’ chest, walking his hand under his shirt and drawing patterns with his fingers. Louis is caressing his neck, and it takes them a few seconds to find the will to stop.

They stand up and brush the grass and dirt off their clothes before following the voices, walking slower than they would have a few hours ago.

As they get closer, Louis pulls Harry by his hand, hiding them behind a tree to peck his lips, just one last time before they go back to reality.

“I don’t wanna go.” Louis says, angry at the world.

 

They keep sharing chaste kisses and make the moment last as much as they could, trying to ignore Des calling for them.

“Are we mad ?” Harry murmurs.

“Yes. But I’m not sure I care about that anymore.”

“I’m not sure I care about that either…”

  

*****

 

 

“No ! You’re doing it wrong !” Louis shouts and takes Harry’s plate away from him. “It’s cheddar first, then crisps, then bacon, then tomato and then mustard .”

“Lou, it’s just a sandwich…”

“Did you just insult the Tommo Treat ?!” Louis gasps and Harry bursts out laughing as Louis tickles him for making fun of his ‘siiiiiiiick snack’.

Harry places the last slice of bread on the mountain of toppings and opens his mouth wide enough to take a good bite, sticking his tongue out and squinting his eyes.

“So ? So ?” Louis asks excitedly, staring at Harry chewing, crumbs of salt and vinegar crisps falling everywhere on the counter.

“Fuck. Me.” Harry moans with his mouth full and Louis fists bump the air, whistling loud beats as his happy song, a series of  rhythmic ‘pew pew pew’ as Harry struggles to swallow everything. He chokes a bit on the mustard and starts coughing, quickly pretending to still be bothered by the condiment to make Louis rub his back under his shirt a little longer.

“Alright ?” Louis asks and Harry puts the sandwich down to kiss him as he nods.

They finish eating their sandwiches in the kitchen, feet tangled under the table as they talk about Harry’s life in London.

“It’s fun to live with your best friend, we get to share everything and I always have someone when I go home to chat and stuff, so it’s cool.” Harry shrugs. “Not to mention Niall’s the best roommate you could ask for. We’ve known each other since we were kids so we know the other’s habits and pet peeves and we have absolutely no boundaries.”

“And you don’t get homesick ?”

“Naaah ! I love my dad and my sister, but being away for a long time makes you enjoy your days at home even more; forces you to learn how to make it on your own and kind of see what you’ve been warned about all this time.” Harry finishes his sandwich and leans back in his chair to show his belly, rubbing the bump the heavy snack created.

“I was thinking about getting my own place…But I don’t have any answers from anywhere yet so I’m not sure where I’ll be.”

“Where did you apply ?”

“Everywhere in Manchester. You’d think having graduating from a good university would open doors and stuff…or maybe I’m just not as talented as other people, I guess.” Louis shrugs.

“Stop that ! I’ve seen you on that stage, you were incredible.” Harry leans on the table, taking Louis’ hand to crack his knuckles and replaying in his head the video Louis had showed him after he’d begged to let him see his eighteen year old self play Danny Zuko. Harry had a crush on him growing up, so seeing Louis impersonate him was about as close as he could get to making out with his teenage crush.

“I don’t know…”

“Maybe you could just search somewhere else ? Like, in a city with more opportunities ? And more unique stages ? And black cabs ?” Harry tries to be subtle but Louis started smirking the second he saw the way he smiled.

“Are you asking me to come to London, love ?”

“I’m not asking you to come…I’m just saying you might get lucky there…professionally.” Harry acts as innocent as he can.

“I guess I don’t have a choice then, for the sake of drama of course.” Louis kisses Harry’s hand with a soft grin, and keeps pulling funny faces when he catches him staring. The latter is resting his head on his arms and just looks at Louis, just admiring what he is like…

“Are you going to Liam’s tonight ? I’ve hear him call you all morning while you were sleeping.” Louis says after a long silence.

“Dunno…”

“Is something wrong between you two ?”

“Not really, no.” Harry untangles their hands and feet to stand up and grabs his water bottle in the fridge.

“Is it too personal ? It’s okay if you don’t want to tell me…”

Harry shakes his head and drinks a bit before walking towards Louis when he stretches an arm. He lets him pull his hand gently to make him sit on his lap, rubbing his back under his shirt just how he likes it.

“He saw us in the kitchen when we were getting ice the night at his place…” Harry confesses and Louis stops caressing his back.

“What did he see ?”

“Enough, I guess…I haven’t been talking to him much since. He looked at me like I was making the biggest mistake of my life and I can’t deal with his parenting.”

“Shit…What did you tell him ?” Louis asks and drinks from Harry’s bottle when he offers.

“That nothing was going on...That’s why I can’t face him again. He knows when I’m lying.”

“But you can’t avoid him for the next what…six days left ?”

“I guess…” Harry pouts and Louis is quick to start rubbing his back again in a comfortable silence.

“Did you get your results yet ?” He asks, and Harry likes how he always remembers every single thing he talks about, even when he’s falling asleep and just mumbling words.

“Um…Yes.”

“And ?!” Louis widens his eyes, probably wondering why the hell Harry hasn’t told him about passing the year or not.

“I haven’t looked at it yet.” Harry shrugs.

“Gimme your phone.”

“What ?” Harry tries but Louis is tending his open palm to him with a pout, so he just sighs and gives in.

Louis scrolls through Harry’s emails - because there was apparently a day Louis memorized Harry’s phone password and decided going through his personal information was nothing but normal – and stops when he finds it. He flips the screen and uses his pinky to align Harry’s name with the results. And he stops smiling.

He checks several times and Harry just knows what that means.

He’d been shitting his way through finals since he started and it was finally starting to backfire. He knew he hadn’t done his best on the last test and hadn’t attended enough extra courses to make up for it.

The thing is, it was a prestigious and very selective institute. You can’t redo the year, can’t risk missing any exam, can’t risk failing. There’s no second chance, no time for your lack of knowledge and mastery, and no room for mediocrity. That was part of the reason why Harry wanted to attend it in the first place, and prove himself he was capable of achieving what he had always wanted.

“I’m sorry baby…” Louis pouts, pressing his mouth on Harry’s shoulder. Harry drops his head down and starts wondering how many burgers he can make in a minute, because that would become very useful in the next few months. “…I’m sorry you’re gonna have to spend another year in that institute.”

“Wait…what ?” Harry looks up immediately to see all of Louis’ teeth in the biggest grin of all times.

“You passed ! With the jury’s honours for fuck’s sake !” Louis adds, slapping Harry’s head with the magazine on the table.

“What ?!” He frowns and takes his phone from Louis’ hand to check himself, because there’s just no way. But Louis isn’t joking and he did pass and he did have the best score out of the entire year and he doesn’t have to apply for a job in a fast-food yet as a back up plan.

“I fucking passed !” Harry shouts and reads the email another twenty times, hooking his arm around Louis’ shoulders to not fall from shock.

“You are so smart.” Louis compliments as if he’s already rehearsing the speech he’ll give Harry when he’ll watch him get on a stage to receive his Nobel Prize.

“What do I get for that ?” Harry giggles.

“Whatever you want, gorgeous.” Louis coos and Harry leans down to kiss him, wrapping his arms around his neck to smile in his face because, even if he could actually get whatever he wanted as a reward, sitting on Louis’ lap and see the look he’s giving him right now would still be number one on his list.

When they hear the minivan park on the gravel outside, Harry pecks Louis’ lips a few more times before getting up to clean the mess they’ve created making the Tommo Treat.

“We’re baaAAAAAAaack !” Des announces as an opera singer when Jay and him enter the house.

“In the kitchen !” Louis shouts after giggling at Harry’s dad’s singing skills.

“How was the party ?”

“Full of old people talking golf and politics. Exciting !” Des exclaims, making Louis laugh, and Harry doesn’t know how to tell him his dad is actually being serious. He truly loves hanging out with his friends from here and he was glad to bring Jay to his golf buddy’s wedding.

“You’re home early though…” Harry says, trying not to sound too disappointed about that. But he was really enjoying making out in every room and hearing Louis call him his baby all day so…eh

“We started feeling a bit sick…I think those oysters were nothing but bad news !” Des frowns, visibly nauseous.

“Are Gems and Lottie back yet ?” Jay asks, holding her stomach.

“No, not yet…” Louis shakes his head and, as if on cue, the door slams again.

Gemma had asked her dad to talk to Jay and let them go shopping together and stop by the hair salon. It had been a hard battle, but Des eventually managed to get her to allow her daughter to get a new hairdo and get clothes she actually liked.

The girls are chatting and giggling until they enter the living room facing the kitchen, drowning under bags they immediately drop.

When everyone in the kitchen turns to see them, there’s the most intense silence they’ve all ever experienced.

Lottie has her naturally blond hair died in silver, her face looks radiant with the make up she’s sporting, perfectly contouring her face and bringing out the unique blue of her eyes with a subtle turquoise eyeliner, nude lips and glowing cheeks.

She’s wearing a white crop top fitting her shape nicely, not swallowing her chest at all and stopping right above a pair of high waisted blue double gauze shorts with yellow dots, flowing over her tanned thighs and giving a casual yet classy touch to the summery outfit.

She’s standing on white wedges laced around her ankles, allowing a full view on her recently painted toenails, a beige colour matching the shade of her skin. To sum up, she looks drop dead gorgeous, and the smile she has on her face is the best accessory she could have gone for.

Gemma is squeaking and throwing her arms everywhere around her stepsister as if to show off her work, waiting to receive a prize for best stylist of the century.

While Des, Harry and Louis hurry to turn her in every direction and submerge her with too many compliments on her new look, Jay is still silent and hasn’t moved at all from the kitchen.

When everyone calms down and notice she still hasn’t reacted, Lottie’s smile fades and is replaced by the fear that her mom might highly disapprove. Harry and Louis look like they’re ready to be used as a double shield to protect her, and Gemma is holding onto her dad’s bicep, probably digging her fingers to make him save her if Jay threatens to behead her.

Instead of scolding her daughter and blaming Gemma for turning her into an even more gorgeous sixteen year old ready to break hearts, she steps closer and brings both hands to her mouth to hide how wide it gets, eyes watery as she takes a look at Lottie.

She runs her hand through her edgy grey hair and brushes her fingers at the hem of the crop top as if to feel the fabric.

“You look so beautiful...” She whispers as if to remark it to herself.

“You think so ?” Lottie says haltingly.

“Well, these shorts are going to be strictly reserved for home and this dye better fade before school starts and-“ Jay starts, already ruining the moment with restrictions, but Des clears his throat and tilts his head to imply something only Jay can understand. “I mean…You look stunning sweetie. I’m very proud of you.”

Lottie hugs her mom and it’s a bit too overwhelming so Gemma sobs in her other hand, fingers deep into her dad’s arm who’s not sure if he’s sobbing from the precious mother/daughter moment or from his own daughter’s sharp nails reaching his veins.

Louis and Harry watch the scene and absentmindedly wrap their arms around each other, Harry squeezing Louis’ shoulder against his side and Louis’ arm around Harry’s waist as they ‘awwww’ in unison.

When they’re all done witnessing Lottie’s milestone moment of her life, Harry and Louis quickly drop their arms away from each other and make sure no one noticed their moment of weakness.

 Everyone’s about to go back to their own thing, but Jay suddenly smiles even more when she stops sobbing, ready to announce something.

“While I’m overwhelmed with pride for Lottie, I want you all to know how I don’t mean to be so strict or reluctant to try and accept new things…I’m just really used to traditions and want to make sure you grow into someone you’re proud of. But, seeing you…” She cups Lottie’s cheek. “…and you…” She looks over at Louis. ‘…grow into whoever you feel like you need to be, and look so beautiful when you let it show, I really want to tell you that, I don’t know everything, and I may not know the right thing to say or do sometimes…but I love you and support whatever makes you truly happy. And, as someone very clever told me, that’s the only thing I really need to do.”

Harry feels his heart stop when Jay winks at him. He doesn’t have to look at Louis to know he’s about to cry, and this moment is about as unexpected as the entire Lost series.

He hooks his little finger with Louis’ discretely, because there’s no way he’s not telling him somehow how happy he is for him right now.

“And Boo Bear, please, never feel like you need to hold yourself back for me. Or anyone.”

Louis looks at her and nods, trying to stay put and not melt into a puddle of tears, only contained by Harry’s gentle tug on his finger.

“Thank you mom…I won’t and…I want to honest with every one of you…” Louis states, with a sense of confidence that makes Harry wish he had a chair to fall into behind him.

Gemma, Des and Lottie turn to him, and Harry’s sister is literally going to be responsible for the amputation of her dad’s arm at this rate.

“I know I told you I had a girlfriend I made vows with but…truth is…” He takes a deep breath. “I’m gay.” Louis lets the heaviest sigh out after the word, as if he’d dropped the heaviest weight he’s ever had to carry. Because he had. He takes off his chastity ring and fidgets with it before placing it on the table next to him.

“WHAT ?!” Gemma shouts with the most high pitched voice to ever exist, and punches her dad in the stomach as a reflex, making this heartfelt moment a bit too physically painful for Des.

“But…wh…It all makes sense now !” Lottie looks like she’s just had an epiphany, and Harry makes a mental note to ask her about all the awkward discoveries she must’ve questioned over the years.

Everyone looks surprised and gasp…everyone but Harry. He has no clue which surprised face he should go for, since that’s a news he sort of knew about a little bit…But he’s also astonished by Louis coming out to not only the Styles, but his own family as well.

So he deals with it the only way he can.

“I guess I’ll have to return the souvenir dress I got her then ?” Harry overdoes it and awkwardly brings his fists on his hips and kicks the ground. “Darn it !”

Louis must be glad Harry’s that quirky and dramatic in general, because he would’ve been caught within seconds.

“I’m so happy you felt comfortable enough to tell us that Louis ! Come here everyone ! Massive group hug !” Des sings as he hops with his arms open to gather everyone in them.

They’re all squished and can barely tell who’s touching whom, but Harry digs his thumb in Louis’ back, and Louis looks at him over Lottie’s head, crinkles turning his eyes in two lines of eyelashes.

“Is it the right time to tell everyone Lou’s not the only guy in this house who enjoys the male population ?!” Harry shouts in the air, everyone still hugging and suffocating each other while he stands one head taller than every single one of them.

“Literally everyone knows Harry ! This is not your time !” Gemma flicks her brother’s forehead with her fingers and enjoys his loud ‘heyyyyyy !’ while everyone else bursts in laughter and agree. He’s just never been very good at hiding who he is.

“But it is though ! Harry passed his year ! With honours !” Louis says before he can keep it any longer, voice muffled in the hug.

“What ?! Congratulations son !” Des shouts, patting Harry’s head as he squishes Gemma in the hug a bit more to reach him.

They keep celebrating all the pride flowing around and the happy tears and endless hugging, and decide they are quite the family…But a proud one.

 

 

*****

 

“I’m more of a Patrick Dempsey kinda guy, y’know ?” Harry pouts.

“Really ? I think I saw you more like the John Travolta in Grease type. Like, bad boy attitude but big heart.” Lottie admits and Louis and Harry smirk at each other in the mirror, because she is most definitely right.

They’re all gathered in the girls’ room, since Des and Jay are busy being sick from the bad oysters and the boys didn’t really feel like hearing their trips to the bathroom through their walls.

They had been going through the several purchases of the day and Harry had insisted to try out the cherry pink nail polish Lottie had bought. Gemma was used to her brother trying out her nail polish or stealing her hair ties, or forcing her to braid his hair, so now it was the Tomlinsons’ turn and she looked thrilled.

Lottie was therefore painting Harry’s nails on the floor whilst Louis was braiding his hair, sitting on the bed right above him, legs on each side of his back. He had experienced growing up with a sister obsessed with styling head toys and strong blackmailing skills, so it was nothing new.

Gemma was lying on her stomach on her bed behind Louis, reading them a magazine in the meantime, going through quizzes on what kind of guy is good for them, and basically just enjoying a night full of girl talk and gay insight to end this eventful day.

“Next question: what do you first notice in a guy ? And, please, no inappropriate answer. This is a family friendly environment.” Gemma says, eyeing her brother because she just knows him all too well. “Smile, hair, style, height or eyes ?”

“Height.” Lottie whispers, concentrating to not paint Harry’s skin.

“I’ll say…hair.” Louis chooses and pretends he doesn’t feel Harry staring at him in the mirror.

“Is there eyelashes ?” Harry asks.

“Nope. Not a choice. Eyes maybe ?” Gemma suggests.

“Okay, that too.” He nods and Gemma writes down everyone’s answer including her own, agreeing with Lottie.

“Next. I hate guys who are…” She starts, putting her pen between her teeth. “…Super clingy ? Rude ? Too cocky ? Mammas boy ? Or jerks ?”

“Too cocky.” They all say at the same time and cry laugh a bit before continuing the quiz.

“Characteristics you want him to have: Ambitious, intelligent and risk-taker ? Strong, dependable and kind ? Rebellious, rugged and dangerous ? Attractive, high maintenance, pretty boy ?…or doesn’t matter ?” Gemma says and looks up.

“I like rugged…” Harry says, dramatically looking into the distance, only to check if the description matches Louis. Which it does in his opinion.

“I like dangerous…” Louis says the same way, for the same reason.

“Okayyyy…” Gemma sings, putting the respective symbols she chose for everyone next to their answer. “And you Miss Charlotte ?”

“I was thinking I should say ambitious or kind…but let’s be real, I’ll probably go for the pretty boy.” She giggles and they all join her.

“I’ll go for the dependable kind dude.” Gemma says before going to the next questions.

They all find out quite a lot about each other, including what matters the most in a relationship or what’s their favourite celebrity couple or the best place to hang out…

“Ouh, I like this one: which iconic movie couple do you wanna be like ?...Mr and Mrs Smith ? Rose and Jack ? Bella and Edward ? Bonnie and Clyde ? Or Allie and Noah ?”

Gemma asks and taps her pen on her chin as she looks up to think.

“The notebook. Definitely Allie and Noah.” Lottie says immediately.

“I think I’ll say the same.” Gemma nods. “You boys ?”

Louis is slowing down his braiding process to think about this and Harry might be pulling a straight face, he’s been dying inside.

Louis’ fingers are the most gentle, careful fingers he’s ever felt and he tugs at Harry’s hair just enough to keep the braids still, not too much to hurt him – even if he wouldn’t be opposed to that in other circumstances – and brushes his fingertips against Harry’s neck every time he’s done with one, against his ear when he curls a wild lock, and his forehead when he brings back the fringe he had let go of. At this point it’s a miracle Harry doesn’t have a boner in front of his sisters.

“I think dramatic like Rose and Jack.” Harry chooses.

“Really ? I was thinking more Bonnie and Clyde for the passion and crime…” Louis says as he bends down to get a minuscule invisible rubber band.

“Well…It’s not like you can’t choose different answers…” Gemma raises a brow in confusion as to why they’re debating on a mutual agreement for their individual answer.

“I’ll go Rose and Jack. Because their love become so strong that they go through anything to stay together no matter the conventions. They don’t care if they’re not supposed to love each other according to social rules, they ignore it and live the most beautiful love story.” Harry explains, more to Louis than anyone else. But they probably shouldn’t know that.

“Okay…Titanic for Mr I get-too-invested-in-movies…” Gemma rolls her eyes.

“But they don’t get to be together at the end.” Louis protests and stops styling Harry’s hair.

“No…” Harry agrees and turns to look at Louis as he speaks. “…but only because of external factors, not because they didn’t love each other enough. They didn’t get to spend their whole life together, but at least they sincerely enjoyed every second of what they did get to share before fate made it impossible.”

“Guys…It’s just a silly quiz…It’s not that deep…” Gemma tries to remind them while Lottie has been sitting agape, holding the nail polish brush in the air when Harry waved his hands to make his point.

Louis and Harry have been fixing each other for a while now and the atmosphere is getting a bit weird for Gemma and Lottie who don’t really know what to do, or say, or why their brothers are fighting over a dumb test in a magazine giving twenty five tips to wear disco pants in autumn.

“I’ll go with Rose and Jack.” Louis changes his mind and goes back to braiding the lock he had dropped. Harry smiles in victory before turning around, giving Louis rubber bands to keep his braids from collapsing.

“So last question – fucking finally – is…the perfect first date: the park ? Movies ? Romantic dinner ? Beach ? Or at his place ?”

“The beach.” Harry and Louis say at the same time and they really don’t know how to be more obvious than that.

“Copycat !” Louis scolds to make the suspicion fade, and he might regret pulling at Harry’s hair to hard when the latter covers his crotch with the stuffed animal Gemma got for Evan.

“The park for me !” Lottie exclaims.

“And his place for me...” Gemma says and swings her feet behind her as she writes it down.

“On a first date ? Really Gems ?” Harry says with desperation in his voice.

“You answered ‘bed’ for favourite place to hang out, so don’t come for me brother !” Gemma threatens him and they all giggle while she’s figuring out the results.

Harry has shifted from between Louis’ legs to lying with his head on Lottie’s lap on the floor, keeping his hands above him as if to rest on an invisible piano, waiting for the nail polish to dry.

Louis’ legs are somehow intertwined with his – because there’s apparently not enough room on the whole carpet – while he’s leaning his back against Gemma’s bed, and they’re enjoying how everyone sort of accepted that they get along now, well enough to be comfortable around each other and sit a bit too close.

It turns out Lottie should go for the class clown, Gemma for the jock who will turn out to be a sensitive teddy bear, and Harry’s sister announces her ‘brothers’ got the same result.

You're a down to earth person, someone people love to be around. You should date guys who are funny, who make you smile all the time and compliment you. You’re also into passion and adventure and deserve nothing but a genuine lover: your perfect guy is someone like you.”

“Awww !” Lottie coos, shaking Harry by his shoulders as Gemma gives her ‘this is so cute I’m going to cry’ pout to Louis. “I’m jealous. I wanted passion and genuine lover too !”

“Don’t worry Lo’, it’s impossible to find such a perfect match in real life, these boys are as doomed as we are !” Gemma jokes.

Harry and Louis try to not look at each other, because they’re pretty sure the smile they’d have would be as good as saying that they actually already found everything they need in a guy…

 

*****

 

“I’m blind ! I’m blind !” Louis is screaming, hopping on the spot and wiggling his hands in distress.

“Stop moving so much or it’ll happen !” Harry scolds. “Tilt your head back !”

The water washes over the coconut-y foam on Louis’ eyelids, helped by Harry’s light thumb wiping it away.

“Open your eyes.” Harry instructs, waiting for Louis, who is still squinting and refusing to. “Open your eyes or I won’t kiss you anymore.”

Louis’ eyes are suddenly wide open, shampoo free and bright.

Harry giggles and wastes no time before pecking his lips, earning a mischievous scrunching nose and a quiet chuckle.

They’ve been taking a shower for the past fifteen minutes and the most productive thing they’ve done so far is washing Louis’ hair and creating Elvis Presley’s pompadour with the foam, all while singing Blue Suede Shoes in a spectacular duet with the handheld shower head as their mic.

“You’re too tall, squat down.” Louis taps Harry’s shoulder to make him lower a bit so he can wash his hair.

“I’d be happy to squat and get a perfect little butt like yours Lou, but my legs are going to break if I do that.”

Louis’ face turns into a sad and adorable begging pout, as if he had just been denied the remote-controlled car he asked for his birthday.

“But !” Harry raises a finger, unable to resist the sad kitten in front of him. “I can kneel.”

Louis’ smile is immediately back on his face, looking smug and turning to get the bottle of shampoo behind him.

When he turns back around, Harry’s on his knees, as he said, but not in the direction Louis had expected. He’s looking up at him, face inches away from his inner thigh, and giving a soft and innocent look.

J’ai constamment envie de toi, Louis.” Harry says, pronouncing his name in one syllable with his effortless French accent, making Louis a bit weak in the knees, and everywhere else by the looks of it.

“What does that mean ?”

Harry just shrugs and strokes the back of Louis’ thighs, kissing along his pelvis, eyes locked with the blue pearls looking down at him.

Louis puts the shampoo back down and kneels down in front of him.

“What does it mean ?” He repeats, a bit more serious.

He kisses Harry’s neck, then focuses on his lips, hand sliding down his torso like the water pouring above them.

“You’re not gonna tell me ?” Louis asks kindly, watching Harry smirk, apparently determined to stay mute. He palms him for what feels like an eternity, doing nothing but stroke him to get his blood to rush under his fingers.

Harry leans closer and kisses Louis’ neck the same way he did, and mimics him again when he wraps his hand around his length, building the same pressure and testing Louis’ limits staying quiet.

Louis seems to forget his curiosity for foreign languages when he kisses Harry and creates a very wet and very noisy mess that has them panting within seconds. They’re both jerking each other off, doing the same gesture, yet in completely different ways.

Harry knows how to stroke gently and tease with a circling thumb on the tip while Louis is a bit too aware of how much Harry enjoys the rough but controlled slide of a confident hand.

They’re moaning into each other’s mouth, sound choked by the water crashing on the tiles around them.

“I’m always craving you.” Harry whispers between them.

“What ?” Louis murmurs back, and Harry’s not sure if he even understands English at this point.

“It means, I-I’m always c-craving you.”

They speed up their hands and stop their last kiss to simply stare at their open mouths, cum blending with the water streaming loudly.

Louis drops his head on Harry’s shoulder and the latter does the same, brushing his lips on Louis’ glittering skin.

“If you don’t speak French at least once a day from now on, I’m asking for a refund.” Louis breathes in Harry’s neck.

Harry giggles hysterically and rests his hands on the small of Louis’ back before speaking again.

Tes désirs sont des ordres, mon coeur.”

 

/Translation: Your wish is my command, sweetheart./

 

*****

 

 

Je prendrai la langouste, s’il vous plaît.”

“What did she say ?” Louis asks when he leans against Harry’s side.

“I will have the lobster, please.” Harry answers as her sister orders for all of them.

“Oh…Then, can I try your drink, s’il vous plaît ?” Louis tries, making Harry chuckle and like him even more in French.

“No…For me, it’ll be s’il te plaît.” Harry corrects. “It’s less formal. Although, oui, you can have my drink.”

Gemma, Harry and Louis decided to go out for lunch near “La Promenade des Anglais” and enjoy a fancy meal on the terrace of “Le Méridien” with a gorgeous view on the sea. Lottie was doing summer homework and their parents had to sort out a few things for the wedding and the new house, so they decided to stay home with her and go through papers and guest lists confirmations.

“Teaching him some French, brother ?” Gemma asks when the waiter leaves.

“When in Nice…” Harry shrugs.

Aurevoir, mon coeur !” A young woman calls after a boy next to them as she walks away.

Mon coeur.” Louis repeats with his strong English accent. “You’ve called me that before, what does it mean ?”

Harry widens his eyes and just prays his sister hasn’t heard that, because she couldn’t let this one slide.

“What ? No way. You must’ve confused it with something else. Mon coeur literally means ‘my heart’, as in ‘my love’. Harry wouldn’t have called you that !” Gemma laughs hysterically. Louis nods and knocks his shoulder with Harry’s and gives him the kindest smile he’s ever seen with flushed cheeks.

They keep teaching him a few words in French, waiting for the food, and Louis tries to keep up, but he’s often distracted by the look Harry’s giving him, ready to lean in any moment to kiss him and make him scream in French at the top of his lungs.

“Oh my god. You have to try this, Cheeky Chimp ! I can promise you: you will die. It’s that good !” Gemma insists Louis tastes the lobster she ordered, already stretching her arm over the table to feed her step-brother.

“Fuckkk…” Louis moans with his eyes closed when he takes Gemma’s fork, and sinks into his seat as if he’s actually dying. Harry bursts out laughing and might be cackling too loud when he sees the shock on Gemma’s face, wondering why her brother is laughing at Louis like he’s the funniest person alive.

“What do you have ?” Louis asks Harry, mouth still half full.

They’re sitting next to each other and, their chairs might be stuck together already after constantly scooting closer, they still feel like it’s not enough proximity, so they do everything they can to become one person.

Their arms get on the other one’s armrest, their shoulders are somehow brushing despite the gap created by the chairs, their hands keep touching on the table, and they’re about as incapable of not looking at each other as they are incapable of not smiling with fond when the other one is talking.

Sole meunière.” Harry says but Louis is still frowning, waiting for an explanation. “The fish is cooked with lightly browned butter, served with lemon juice and parsley. It’s my favourite.” Harry says and doesn’t have to offer Louis a bite because he’s already picking the chunk of sole Harry had already cut.

“Mmmmmh…!” Louis moans even louder and longer, while Harry’s absentmindedly staring at his lips with his mouth slightly open. “I’m never leaving this place !”

They keep eating everything and Louis and Harry might as well have ordered for two. They keep picking at each other’s plate: Harry grabs a salted fry near Louis’ burger and Louis digs his fork in Harry’s mash; Louis sips at Harry’s cocktail and Harry sips at Louis’ coke. All of that in front of Gemma who, they hope, is thinking her brothers just grew to like each other after all.

“What’s Evan doing ?” Louis asks while they wait for dessert.

“He’s in law school like me, we’re in the same year. He wants to work in Environmental Law and I’m planning on trying out journalism next.” Gemma answers, looking blissful to talk about their future. “I miss him so much…I’m so used to being with him twenty four seven…”

“I can imagine…” Louis mutters.

“Do you have a secret boyfriend ?” Gemma smirks and Louis straightens up, putting some distance with Harry’s side he was leaning against. “I mean, I know you only came out the other day but, have you been dating a guy without anyone knowing ?”

“Yeah, I guess.” Louis nods shyly. And Harry is a bit surprised so he sits up as well.

“How cute ! How is he like ?” Gemma rests her elbows on the table and places her chin on her linked fists.

“Well, he’s…” Louis looks down at his napkin on the table and smiles. “…great.”

“That’s it ? You’re talking to me Cheeky Chimp. Tell me everything.” Gemma insists.

Louis and Gemma had bonded over the trip, especially since Louis came out and she was able to see the true side of him. They get along and share the same sense of humour, and she had started calling him Cheeky Chimp for the amount of Coco Pops he ate. And it just truly felt like they were brother and sister.

“He’s smart. Very smart. A bit of a nerd as well. Which I like.” Louis smiles softly and Harry sits back and gets comfortable to listen to the rest. “He’s not a loner, but he does like his alone time a lot, so I feel privileged that he’d rather spend the whole day with me, even just watching a movie, instead of reading a book he’s been trying to finish for months.”

The sea air is rushing with the heavy breezes and the sound of the waves from afar is beyond relaxing, seagulls filling the occasional silence as Louis takes his time to describe his 'boyfriend'.

“What else ?! What else ?!” Gemma hurries.

“He’s quite family oriented, loves to spend time with his siblings and knows how to cherish every moment spent with them.” Harry is frowning with his hand over his mouth, because if he lets himself grin, he’s pretty sure he’ll stretch his cheeks too much to pass as normal.

“He’s also very funny, even though not everyone thinks so. And I think I’d spend my life trying to make him laugh just to hear that weird sound he does.” Louis chuckles and Gemma is smiling in adoration.

“Is he hot ?” Gemma smirks while Harry stays silent, eyes on the armrest he’s fidgeting with. Louis licks his lips and looks up in the air before answering, smirking a bit too much.

“He is. He’s very handsome. But not just as in a ‘that guy’s so hot’ kind of way...It’s more all the little things that make him…him. Like, how soft his skin is in some places yet very muscular in others, the way he stands and makes it look like he’s going to fall any second, the barely visible freckles on his cheeks that I wouldn’t even have noticed if I didn’t spend so much time staring at him…” Louis must realize he’s getting a bit carried away, because he clears his throat as soon the desserts arrive.

Gemma went for her usual crème brûlée, Louis chose the chocolate fudge cake filled with a strawberry coulis, and Harry ordered profiteroles, as he always does when he comes here.

“How did you guys meet ?” Gemma asks after the first bite of her French pudding.

Harry starts to panic a bit then. He doesn’t know how to save Louis. H tries to think about something and opens his mouth to his rescue, but Louis is already speaking with ease.

“In the tube.” Louis starts, scooping the vanilla ice cream on the side of his plate and licking his now freezing lips. “It’s kind of a funny story actually…”

“How ?” Harry finds himself asking, completely ignoring his melting dessert.

“He was having a quick nap and had stretched his legs in front of him, all the way to the seat across from his. I didn’t want to wake him up, but it was the only empty spot, so I tried to discretely stride over his legs, and ended up knocking them, because I apparently have the tiniest legs in the world compared to his…”

Harry’s about done with the story already. Not because he doesn’t like it, not because Gemma is getting suspicious, but because there’s absolutely no trace of lies in Louis’ voice, and he’s a bit confused and overwhelmed and too hot…yes...this terrace is getting way too hot, and he’s about to faint.

“What did he say ? I bet he was all bloody prince charming like and holding you as you fell or some shit !” Gemma asks, digging her spoon into her cream.

“Total opposite actually. I thought I’d pretend nothing happened, but then he asked me to apologize and I was a bit distracted by his eyes to say what I really wanted to say. So I ended up being rude as a nervous reflex…”

“What happened after that ?” Harry asks as if he weren’t one of the protagonists, genuinely wondering what was next.

“Well…” Louis sighed before digging his spoon into Harry’s melting chocolate ice cream sprinkled with grilled almonds. “I didn’t think I’d see him again, so I didn’t think much about it. But then I walked into him in a coffee shop. I was only in the city for a few days so I didn’t see the point of trying to know his name or stuff like that, and he seemed a bit out of my league anyway, so I kept the rude act. I was about to apologize, but then I saw the way he looked at the girl working there and thought he was probably not even into guys, so I wasn’t really sure what to do. The only couch available was right next to him though, so I figured God was mocking me a bit.”

“Did you talk then ?” Gemma asks.

“Not so much…And I thought that was it. But fate just doesn’t give up, apparently, so then I met him in the bathroom of a random bar while I was…um…”

“Fuck.” Gemma seems to understand.

“We went our separated ways after that, so I sort of let it go.”

Gemma is almost finished with her cream and Louis has been able to eat the majority of his cake, but Harry is somehow still working on his second ball of ice cream filled dough.

“Harry, if you don’t eat that thing it’ll be an ice cream soup…” Gemma raises a brow at her brother as the latter twirls his spoon in the corner of his mouth, forgetting he had food to put on it. “Anyway, when did you introduce each other then ?”

Louis starts to get nervous at that so Harry reckons he knows everything from this point. He's quick to find a distraction, and gives him a hand to get out of Gemma’s tricks to make him talk.

“Do you like the cake ?” Harry asks, loud enough to cover Gemma’s snort.

“Yeah, you should try it. You might enjoy the strawberry…” Louis smiles and goes to stroke Harry’s hand on the table but quickly drops his hand on his lap.

“Harry, can you eat Louis’ food in silence, I’m trying to keep up here !” Gemma doesn’t give up.

“We met on holiday. Our families knew each other so it was kind of a fortunate coincidence.” Louis grins. “At least to some extent…” He says low enough that Gemma doesn’t hear. “Turns out he was gay as well after all and liked me, for some reason, so…yeah.”

“Are you in love with him ? ” Gemma doesn’t lose track of the conversation.

Harry immediately looks at Louis’ reaction, and he unfortunately cannot read that one. He doesn’t say anything, doesn’t smile, doesn’t even pout…He’s looking at his spoon getting the last bite of pudding and doesn’t show any expression whatsoever. So Harry decides he’s done with that topic.

“Gemma ! Stop harassing him !” Harry scolds, threatening her with his spoon.

“Alright ! Alright ! Sorry Cheeky Chimp, I shouldn’t have pushed you to tell me so much…” Gemma apologizes.

“No, you’re fine.”

“You sound like you are anyway…” Gemma sighs and ends the conversation on this.

 

On the drive home, Harry stays silent as his sister and Louis chat about random things he doesn’t care about. He doesn’t care about much right now except one thing.

 

Should he tell Louis ?

 

Should he tell him he had been thinking about him the second he opened his eyes to see this scruffy fringe and blue eyes being too sassy for his own good ?

Should he tell him he only argued with him in that coffee shop to keep interacting with him ? Should he tell him how glad he was to have him sitting next to him, even in silence, just to see the way he used his pinky to scroll down his screen instead of his thumb like everyone else, the way he drank his coffee, scrunching his nose as he swallowed ?

Should he tell him how happy he felt for some reason to see him in that pub, no matter the context, just glad to get to see him again ?

Or maybe he should tell him how he felt his whole world crashing around him when he met him again, wishing he had stayed in London and waited a lifetime to run into him again in a completely different scenario…

But what Harry wonders the most is what Louis would have answered to the last question. And if, just like him, he fell truly, madly and deeply in love with the stranger from the Northern Line.

 

 

Chapter Text

“S’great to see you bro ! I feel like we haven’t seen each other for ages…” Liam smiles, looking guilty as if he had been blaming himself for the sudden distance with his friend.

“Yeah…I’m sorry Li…” Harry says when he hugs him, making him tighten the embrace as if to say it back.

“Hey Liam !” Louis calls from behind them after climbing the fence.

“Hi mate !”

They clap their hands together and Harry is expecting it to stop at that, but Liam pulls Louis in his other arm, rests his chin on his shoulder, and pats his back; and Harry may or may not grin too much witnessing them reaching a new level of friendship right in front of him.

Louis had convinced Harry to call Liam to hang out, and invite him along to prove they were nothing but friendly. With the bad weather, none of them were willing to do anything outdoorsy though, so they ended up sitting on Liam’s bed to binge watch The Big Bang Theory.

Harry and Liam share an obsession for that show, so they were glad when Louis said he actually liked it too. He eyes Harry weirdly when he corrects the characters if they misuse a scientific term, and half judges Liam when he laughs at a sexist joke, but overall they’re just giggling every five minutes and it’s comfortable, no mention of anything going on from Liam.

Harry’s friend was sitting between them anyway, so they didn’t have to be scared of showing too much affection in front of him. They do sometimes talk as if there’s no one else in the room, and share knowing looks, and laugh in sync when no one’s said anything funny because their brains are apparently connected…but Liam seems to just enjoy not having them bicker.

 

“Harry’s like Sheldon. Hundred per cent.” Liam says when they wonder which character they identify with the most.

“I actually am…” Harry giggles and hides his face in his hands.

He knows he’s a bit of a nerd. He knows he always corrects people anytime they’re wrong about scientific related topics, knows he pities people for their ignorance sometimes, knows he can feel lost when people are talking about mainstream things or trends he has no idea about, and knows he shouldn’t be this passionate about Marvel characters…But he has no issue with that whatsoever, and it gives Sheldon Cooper an engaging personality, so maybe it can work for him as well.

“Minus the socially impaired part though !” He adds, and tries to ignore the few quiet coughs disagreeing with him. But what’s wrong with spending a whole week skipping calls and declining friends invites to finish a book locked in his room ? 

“I think I’m more like Leonard. Minus the genius part.” Liam states.

He is indeed a bit clumsy with women and has a tendency to obsess over a girl for years if she dares say one word to him. He’s not as much into science, but he’s got every personal trait that guy represents. And he has to put up with his own version of Sheldon as his best mate, when he’s in Nice anyway, so he might be his real life version really.

“Who am I like though ?” Louis asks himself. Liam frowns to think, but Harry already has the answer ready.

“You’re Penny.” He says, almost like he’d thought about it before.

“Are you saying I’m a light-minded alcoholic failed actress with dad issues ?” Louis turns to face Harry over Liam, clearly offended. “Who ends up with a sexist self-obsessed walking insecurity on top of it ?...No offense bro.” He adds, lowering his voice to sound polite when he speaks to Liam.

“Non tak-“ Liam starts but is completely ignored as Harry speaks over him.

“I’m saying you’re a confident and strong woman who chases her dreams and comes out of nowhere to change the boys’ life and make them see how being wrong can be a good thing sometimes.” Harry says firmly, facing Louis who’s waiting for him to say one bad thing to storm out of the room. “And everyone knows Penny would be with Sheldon if social construct didn’t make their appearance this incompatible.”

They’re fixing each other, brows furrowed and seemingly fighting to be right. Louis must be happy with that answer though, because he cracks a smile and pulls his signature clown face, making Harry giggle before the both of them lean back against the wall again.

“Thanks for ruining the show for me, lads !” Liam grunts, probably dwelling on the fact that he does himself have a tendency to objectify women, and definitely questioning his persona.

When they finish the season and need to change the disc, they all groan, not wanting to get out of their comfortable spot on Liam’s bed to reach the DVD player.

“Should we play rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock for this one ?” Harry smirks, unable to mask how happy he is to use Sheldon’s quote.

“You can’t possibly know it by heart.” Louis huffs, clearly underestimating him.

“Oh no ! Don’t say that or he will-“ Liam tries to warn, but it’s just too late.

“Scissors cuts paper,  paper covers rock, rock crushes lizard, lizard poisons Spock. Spock smashes scissors, scissors decapitates lizard, lizard eats paper, paper disapproves Spock, Spock vaporizes rock, and, as it always has…rock crushes scissors.” Harry explains the entire thing whilst mimicking the actions of each element, and finishes with a winning pout as he completely ignores Liam almost crying in his hands to see Louis in awe.

“This the most useless thing to memorize…I love it.” Louis’ words go straight to Harry’s ego and just fuels enough energy to get off the bed and save everyone’s day.

“Fuck ! what happened to you ?!” Liam exclaims, pointing at Harry’s hip, a bit exposed after he bent to reach the DVD and his shirt slid up his back.

“I…um…I hit a wall okay ?! My bed is freaking tiny and I happen to move a lot in it.” Harry explains and, for once, it’s the complete truth. He just leaves the part where Louis happens to share that bed and therefore makes it a bit more tricky to not bang into something when moving. Sure, the impact wouldn’t be that hard if they weren’t violently making out, but sweet pecks just don’t cut it sometimes.

Louis stays silent as Liam accepts the answer, and Harry makes sure he adjusts his shorts to not let the other - more alarming - bruises show and make him run out of casual excuses for the unusual locations.

They’re halfway through an episode when Harry’s phone vibrates. He rushes outside the room to take the call, mouthing ‘I’ll be back !’ to his friend and b-...Louis. It’s the one call he’s been waiting for all summer, and he’s sure he won’t be quiet enough to not disturb Liam and Louis watching Raj and Howard virtually make out.

“Niall !!!” Harry shouts before his friend can say anything, hopping on the spot with excitement.

“Hazza Bear !!!! Fuck I’ve missed you so much bro !” Niall shouts even louder, but he’s trying to speak over a loud music, in his defence.

“How’s Barcelona ?!”

“Fucking craaazyyyy ! I’m telling yah, we have to go back there together. I’ve been drunk for five days straight, mate ! FIVE DAYS.” Niall sounds ecstatic and Harry does wish he were enjoying Spain with him, but he can’t complain either… “How’s summer in Hell ?”

“Mmh…” Harry doesn’t really know how to explain that he’s actually having lots of fun and wouldn’t mind extending his stay after all. “It’s not that bad…”

“Oh yeah ? Sorry I haven’t texted much, I haven’t had one sec to breathe !” Niall apologizes for not keeping up with Harry’s summer, but they’re the kind of friends who don’t interact for months yet can’t stop hugging when they finally reunite. So it’s all good.

“No worries bro, same for me anyway.”

“How’s the new family ?”

“Um…interesting ?” Harry chuckles.

“Are they crazy or something ?”

“No, not at all. They’re alright I guess...” Harry smiles to himself, realizing how he'd never thought he’d say that. “Jay’s a great cook and she’s very kind, her daughter is smart and funny and…and the son is okay too.”

“Names ? How old are they ?” Niall asks and Harry can hear him sip at something, most probably his thousandth pint of beer.

“Lottie is sixteen, almost seventeen, and Louis’ twenty-two.”

"Twenty-two ? Is he nice ?” Harry is fidgeting with the curtains in front of him and smirking. “Yes. Very.”

“Oh no...Not that voice...” Niall says, sounding sceptical.

“What ? What voice ?” Harry stops fidgeting and adopts a much deeper and serious tone.

“The one you use when you bought a book that’s supposedly the best to ever exist and is nothing like the other bazillion you already have.”

“That’s stupid. And I don’t have that many books.” Harry tries to defend himself, genuinely learning he has a voice and didn’t even know.

“How nice is he ?”

“Dunno…” Harry shrugs and tries to conceal his fond when describing Louis, but it’s hard. Niall knows him too well and is clever enough to know his friend is keeping something from him right now when he can normally barely shut up.

“Is he into guys ?” Niall asks. There’s a sound of glass hitting a table, so he most likely just let go of his pint to focus on Harry’s case.

“What ?! Wh-Why are you asking me that ?” Harry is sweating and his voice is shaking and he really is not the talented actor Louis is.

“Is he though ?”

"Not that it has any relevance to this conversation of two friends catching up and trying to spend the little time they have on the phone to-“ Harry tries, but fails.

“So he is. Please tell me you don’t have a crush on him Hazza…”

"I don’t…”

“I can’t believe you have a crush on your step-brother !” Niall yells as if Harry had directly confessed everything.

“But I met him before the trip ! Technically, we’re two strangers who, and I insist on this, DO NOT SHARE BLOOD, and happen to have parents who know each other very well…” Harry says as if it completely justified everything he hadn’t even told Niall.

“My god, Harreehh !” Niall scolds his best friend and Harry leans his forehead on the closest wall. He’s somehow ended up in Nicola’s empty room, far from curious ears.

“I knooow…” Harry whines.

“You can’t make a move bro, that’ll be too weird for your old man ! Keep whatever attraction you have for him deep inside - and I’m talking deep enough to not resurface, not deep enough to make you fantasize about him - and distract yourself anyway you can before anything happens.”

Harry squints for a short while and he’s pretty sure Niall can see him when he cusses.

“Harry ! You can’t hook up with your stepbrother just because he’s nice, that’s messed up !”

“It’s not like that.”

A chair ! Someone bring me a fucking chair !” Niall is yelling in the background and Harry just knows he understood what he meant by that, so he sits on Liam’s sister’s bed, holding his forehead in his free hand with his elbow on one leg.

“I tried avoiding it, I swear ! But we can’t help it and-”

“We ?!” Niall sounds out of his mind and keeps ordering several drinks and telling someone to hold his hand. “Harry, listen to me. This is your stepbrother. As in brother. You can’t keep this up. I’m telling you man…I hear what you’re saying, but you know it’s not fair to your dad…”

“I have to go.” Harry cuts the conversation short, unwilling to listen to what he’s repeated himself everyday already.

“You might have found someone special Haz, but remember… Your dad has too.”

“I’ll see you when I get home. Tell Greg congrats on the baby for me.”

Harry hangs up and bangs the wall on his way out, fighting the feeling that’s creeping in his chest.

When he goes back to the bedroom, Louis and Liam are wrestling on the bed. Harry figures Louis might have started first, because Liam’s cup of water on the night stand is apparently mixed with something green and a bit gross. And Harry just knows it’s Louis’ gum.

He would be laughing and enjoying the play fight, if it weren’t for Liam crushing Louis under his muscles and making his grip on his shirt too harsh for his taste.

“Hey !” He pulls Liam by his collar. “Get off !”

Liam is forced to let go of Louis and holds his hands up as proof that he’s not touching him anymore, just to make Harry stop frowning, ready to murder him if he dares hurting that boy.

“You’re lucky you have Harry to save you this time ! But I’ll have my revenge !” Liam says as if he’s reciting a line out of a Batman movie or something.

“Ok Payno !” Louis laughs, clearly not impressed by Liam’s threat. He twists his nipple, earning a high pitched squeak that doesn’t amuse Harry as much, and sticks his tongue out like a child. Harry brings a hand on Liam’s chest to keep him from getting closer to Louis when they stand up, and makes sure he intercepts any attempted nipple twist from his friend.

“We should probably go now. We have to start packing.” He says, serious voice and scary jaw clenching when Louis starts giving a bit too much attention to Liam.

“Alright, alright... But you’ll call before you go, yeah ?” Liam surrenders and goes to hug his friend.

“Of course. I’m leaving the day after tomorrow anyway, so I’ll probably stop by again.” Harry reassures him and lets Louis hug him goodbye.

It’s pretty late when they go back home so they figure everyone’s already in their room. They walk in, holding hands and playfully bumping into each other, and head to the kitchen, quickly removing their hands when they see Gemma and Lottie are chatting around the table.

“Hi boys. Had fun ?” Gemma greets them as she chews on something.

“Yep...Planning on watching a movie ?” Harry raises a brow, seeing two bowls of pop corn between them on the table. Both him and Louis take a seat and start picking from the bowl, ignoring the slaps of hands to keep their hands off.

“We were, but we didn’t know which one to choose and ended up chatting about the movies instead of watching them. We were saying how much we’ll miss doing this together when you arrived.” Lottie explains.

Louis pouts and stuffs his face with a handful of pop corn, and Harry really shouldn’t find this so adorable.

“What do you think you’ll miss the most about Nice ?” Lottie asks everyone.

“The weather, the food, the late mornings, the beach…and the cute shops.” Gemma smiles, surely thinking about all of that as she moans in her pop corn.

“And you ?” Lottie looks at Harry, and the latter opens his mouth to answer as his thoughts start crowding his mind.

I will miss waking up to Louis, hearing his voice as my alarm, and the gentle strokes on my head as I slowly reconnect with the world.

I will miss the piles of clothes on the floor and the constantly unmade bed across from mine, and I’ll miss the loud ‘SHIT’ every time he trips over a shoe he left in the middle of the way.

I will miss pulling all-nighters to watch the plays Louis had a part in, miss the smile of pride he had on his face every time, and miss the passion in his voice when he explained the behind the scenes of each production and made it the most interesting thing I’ve ever learned.

I will miss all of Louis’ smiles: the one that says “thank you”, the one that says “you’re an idiot”, the one he has when he makes you laugh, the one he has when he helps his mom with a chore and gives her a kiss, the one he has when he looks at me, and the one that says the words we’re not allowed to say.

I will miss Louis’ hands and Louis’ eyes; Louis’ hair and Louis’ laugh; Louis’ lips and Louis’ tongue. I will miss the softness of his skin and the sweetness of his smell, miss the scent of daisies and marshmallows and miss hearing the beating of his heart when I nap on his chest.

“I don’t know…” Harry says instead, because none of the things he will miss doesn’t include her brother. He looks down at the table and fidgets with his hands, feeling Louis’ feet against his. Oh, and he’ll miss that too.

Lottie doesn’t ask her brother, and it might be the best thing she’s ever done.

“What will you miss Lo’ ?” Gemma asks.

“…You guys.”

They all look at her and then at each other and realize that they will in fact all miss each other. It’s not like they’ll be apart for long or that they won’t be a family when they leave Nice, but they spent most of the time with each other, so Harry feels like they’re all now occupying a special spot in each other’s heart.

Harry and Louis let the girls chat in the kitchen to go to their room, determined to start packing and avoid doing it last minute and forget everything they’ve scattered around the house for the last two months.

“…and don’t forget your red shirt. You left it in the laundry room.” They’re finishing packing everything and Harry can’t help making sure Louis doesn’t forget his favourite shirt that exposes his collarbones, the socks under the bed, his headband in the nightstand drawer, or his swimming shorts drying on the balcony.

He closes the door to see Louis’ grey hoodie hanging, and fights the urge to cuddle it and bury his nose to enjoy the sweet smell it kept. He goes to Louis’ suitcase and hands him the sweater, but Louis shakes his head.

“You can keep it.”

“But you love that hoodie…” Harry argues, not very convincing.

“I don But I love it ten times more on you.” Louis says without even looking at Harry as he folds his clothes, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

“I have to give you something too then…” Harry frowns, ready to get Louis the moon if he wanted. “Wait here !” He suddenly gasps and rushes out of the room, not listening to what Louis is saying.

He goes to the kitchen and doesn’t even acknowledge the girls still chatting, stopping as soon as he enters the room.

“I don’t care what you’re talking about. I’m on a mission.” Harry announces, opening every cupboards and every boxes, checking every safe places to hide something.

The girls roll their eyes and continue their chat, whispering the words and thinking Harry can’t hear them discuss about sex.

“Excuse me young lady, you’re not allowed to have sex until you’re married !” Harry intends it as a joke, but remembers it actually really isn’t.

“There’s nothing wrong with talking precautions and first time mistakes. What are you looking for anyway ?” Gemma snorts.

“Did dad tell you where he put my lucky mug ?” Harry asks, head in the back of a floor cupboard.

“Dishwasher.”

“Shit ! I should’ve thought about that !” Harry slaps his forehead, feeling stupid for not checking the broken machine no one would ever open. “Thanks ! Have fun talking vaginas and penises !” Harry screams all the way to the stairs and giggles when he hears them cringe.

“There you are ! I was- What is this ?” 

“It’s my lucky mug. Whenever I drink from it I get the best news. I was drinking from it when I learnt I was accepted to London’s International Institute of Science. It brought me a lot of luck and a lot of joy, so it’s very special to me. Maybe it’ll help with your dreams ?” Harry is grinning so much he has to bite his bottom lip to chill.

“Multicolour flying dicks and sunflowers ?”

“Are you really that surprised ?” Harry tilts his head on the side with a pout, making Louis giggle.

“Definitely not.”

Harry practically has to fight his way to Louis’ suitcase so he can take it, but he eventually rolls the mug into a thick shirt and places it carefully among his clothes.

Once they’re about done and figure they’d finish throughout the last day, they undress until they’re in their boxers and go brush their teeth. They keep swaying to bump into each other playfully, because they apparently can’t stand not touching for more than half a second, and chat as if having a mouth full of toothpaste wasn’t enough to keep them quiet for two minutes.

“Crou wou want the wowonut wampoo ?” Harry asks.

Louis slowly shakes his head no because he still hasn’t acknowledged how much he likes it and will fight Harry to death until he admits smelling like a tropical island is tolerable. Harry frowns to make him surrender though, so he gives in and nods in defeat, both spitting and rinsing, and getting ready to go to bed.

“I still don’t think that thing makes my hair softer.” Louis pretends he hasn’t lost that battle when they’ve been out of the bathroom for a while.

“What ?! That’s…coconuts !” Harry says and doesn’t wait for Louis to get it to burst in laughter.

“I hate you so much.” Louis says but smirks, and is clearly holding back a laugh.

“Do you ?” Harry pouts, looking up at Louis from his chest as the latter pets his hair and nods.

Harry acts offended and untangles himself from Louis, striding over him to get off the bed, sulking and laying down on Louis’ designated bed instead. He had forgotten how much more comfortable this one was, and wonders how the hell Louis managed to win it.

“Come on baby…” Louis whines, stretching his arm for Harry. “Come back.”

“You said you hated me. So I’m leaving you alone.” Harry groans, but it only makes Louis chuckle.

“You’re right. I hate you.” Louis repeats. Harry didn’t see it go that way though, so he leans on his elbow, waiting for Louis to apologize. “I hate you so fucking much.”

Louis gets up and walks across the room to climb on top of him, bending down to kiss his neck as he speaks.

“I hate your neck.” He whispers, and licks it. “I hate your small ears.” He says and nibbles his left earlobe. “I hate your lips.” He murmurs as he pecks Harry and opens his mouth with the tip of his tongue. “I hate your tongue.” He smiles before licking it and sucking on it, kissing Harry with all the ‘hate’ he has.

“What else do you hate ?”

“Where to begin !” Louis exclaims, making Harry giggle. “I really really hate your hair.” He frowns as he runs his hand in it. “I also hate your nose.” He kisses the tip. “I can’t stand your torso…“ He drags his hand along it to the waistband of his boxers. “And I hate your cock. Fuck do I hate it.” Louis whimpers as he starts palming Harry, grinning when he feels him already very responsive.

“What else ?” Harry pants a bit.

“I hate everything about you, love. From head to toe, and even beyond.”

Harry is getting hard just on Louis’ words and doesn’t even dare moving as he’s being touched everywhere a bit two simultaneously: his hair and his lips; his neck and his nipples; his thighs and his crotch…and he’s just a bit too lost under Louis’ hands and tongue.

Louis doesn’t say anything as he positions himself between his legs and slides his boxers down. Harry lifts his hips up to help him and is at Louis’ mercy as he keeps touching him and telling him just how much he fucking hates every inches of him.

“Would you turn around for me, love ?” Louis asks, stroking Harry’s thighs with a soft smile. All Harry can do is nod and turn around to lay down on his stomach, and just hope he doesn’t die from shock.

Louis climbs up and leaves a trace of his lips all along Harry’s back, from the back of his neck to the dimples at the bottom of his spine. Harry feels his mouth brush all over his skin, shivering with the unknown since he can’t see Louis and prepare himself to feel what he’s about to do next.

He buries his head in the pillow and tugs at each side, trying hard not to grind against the mattress. Louis takes a lifetime to reach the bottom of his back and just stops there to kiss a spot as he gently squeezes his arse, before licking his way between Harry’s cheeks.

“Fuck !” Louis gasps, and Harry’s about to cry if anything just ruined this. “How are you so fucking smooth there ?!” Louis asks and goes back to licking around Harry’s pink and very clean hole, making him giggle in the pillow.

He can feel Louis’ hot breath against him and has to dig his face into the pillow to moan in it. He can’t look at what’s happening and it makes it so much worse yet so so much better.

Louis is teasing, kissing his bum cheeks and his rim and licking briefly, but never going for it. So when Harry feels his tongue inside of him, he just might be shedding a tear in a pillow that smells like Louis’ hair, and does nothing to help his twitching cock.

His tongue is pure bliss. He spreads Harry’s cheeks with firm hands and tastes him like the finest candy, and Harry tries hard not to remember what Louis’ tongue looks like when it passionately licks something, because he’d have to explain more tears on the bed.

Louis twirls his tongue inside Harry slowly, letting him feel it a bit more as he gets it out only to go further in. He brings a finger under it, enjoying how wet Harry’s hole is when he slides it in before bringing two fingers more to have him tighten around them. He moves them inside and brushes the rim, giving a light pressure as he gets deeper and bites Harry’s arse.

Harry’s losing it and rocking back on Louis’ face, grinding on the sheets and digging his teeth into the suffocating pillow that became the only thing keeping anyone in the house from coming to his rescue.

“Do you like that, gorgeous ?” Louis whispers against Harry’s hole and waits for an answer as he sucks in a bruise under Harry’s bum. Harry nods in the pillow, never letting go of the fabric between his teeth as he tugs at it.

Louis must be seeing Harry reaching under himself to get some sort of relief, and takes him by the wrist to rest it back on the bed. He bites into his soft hips and keeps his fingers moving, slowly lying on top of him to reach his ear.

“You don’t have any idea how much I hate you Harry.” Louis whispers and buries his fingers in one brutal push, making Harry scream in the pillow, sounding like a choked and violent sob.

Louis moves a bit so his head is in the crook of Harry’s neck, hands massaging his hole as he drags his free hand up his back on his fingertips, and starts stroking Harry’s head. He keeps petting his hair and being gentle, until he clenches his fist, gripping a handful of hair before tugging at it gradually.

He keeps the pull light and always massages Harry’s scalp in between, but he must read Harry’s mind because, not even a second after, he’s pulling at it in one quick move, getting his entire face off the pillow as he hits his prostate with his fingers.

He must be regretting it though, because Harry opened his mouth wide at the tug and screamed a moan when Louis hit the sensitive spot. It’s the loudest thing that’s ever come out of him, and it’d just filled the entire bedroom, and most probably the entire house.

“Shit !” Louis whimpers, either scared someone heard that – because you’d have to be deaf – or extremely turned on, given how hard he is on Harry’s back. “Fuck ! Shit !” is all Louis says on a loop, squinting his eyes and loosening his grip on Harry’s hair.

Harry doesn’t get his face back into the pillow, and faces Louis instead, moaning straight into his mouth and biting his own lips slowly whilst staring at him. When Louis opens his eyes, the gaze they’re sharing is far more pleasurable than the feeling of Louis hitting his spot.

Louis’ eyes are sparkling and look even bluer than usual, sharp glossy eyes looking directly into his soul. They keep their eyes locked as Louis twirls his fingers one more time before climbing up. He brings Harry with him and they find themselves on all fours to allow Louis to keep going as he jerks him off, making it hard to keep his moans to himself.

He’s not too sure what does it but, whether it’s Louis’ fingers inside of him, or his chest rubbing against his back, or his hand pumping his cock, or even Louis’ erection stroking his arse, it’s the greatest thing he’s ever felt, and it’s more than a good enough reason to cover the clean sheets with cum.

He soon stops feeling Louis’ hands, and the sound of his moans are covered by the ones Louis’ making as he touches himself.

“My b-back…” Harry whispers, still feeling his inside flutter. He’s not sure Louis can hear him, so he turns his head and repeats himself. “My back. S’il te plaît, mon coeur.”

Louis looks a bit far away as he jerks himself off, but gets closer anyway. He rests a hand on his hip and starts wetting Harry’s back with his cum, as wished. Harry shivers and twitches with each new drop, arching his back and just happily enjoying what he asked for.

Louis then collapses on Harry’s back who collapses on the bed, and the latter wants so bad to make a joke about them both lying in their own mess, but he doesn’t even have enough energy to move and soothe the cramp he had to push through, so that’ll wait.

They’re barely recovering from everything, panting, hearts racing, and bodies stuck with cum and sweat, and it should be very gross, but it’s somehow very heavenly.

That is until they hear footsteps in the hallway.

“Oh f-“ Louis almost cusses. “Did you lock the door ?” He whispers.

Harry tries to remember what he did before all of this, what the entire day was before that, and takes a while before picturing himself close the door, and not bother locking it.

“Fuck !” He has to quickly slip into his boxers once Louis is off his back, and has to grab his sensitive crotch, but he rushes to the door and locks it. He has a feeling he might have been just seconds away from a disaster though when his hand is moving on the doorknob without him doing anything.

He looks over at Louis who’s already cleaning his wet chest and covering the dirty sheets. He gestures for Harry to go in the bathroom, given how his hair is damped, both his chest and his back are wet in all sorts of way, and his entire body is red with marks.

Harry tiptoes to the other room and closes the door, hurrying to hop into the shower, because it’s the only way to be a bit more presentable right now, and hoping Louis uses his talent in drama to save the both of them.

When he gets out of his challenging shower, he dries himself off and leans on the door, trying to eavesdrop and check if someone’s with Louis. He doesn’t hear anything, so he gets outside, towel wrapped around his waist.

“That was so- Fuck !” Harry jumps and brings his hand to his chest, because he just nearly had a stroke at the sight of his sister sitting on the bed he had just been wrecked in, right above the covered wet spot. Louis is sitting next to her in his onesie and seems as nervous as someone could possibly be in this situation, sweaty and extremely flushed.

“Sorry guys, but we heard a scream and thought we’d check on you. I swear I recognized your voice…” Gemma says to her brother.

“Really ? That’s weird…Wasn’t me.” Harry frowns and scans the room for the closest shirt, because his chest is still a mess and, the room might be in a dimmed light, one close look at it and Gemma would go get the emergency kit.

“Why are you taking a shower this late ?” She asks, squinting as if she knows her brother is up to something.

“Because…I was…doing…stuff…so I didn’t get the time to have one until now.” Harry tries while Louis is flipping over the pillow destroyed by Harry’s teeth and few tears.

“Yeah I bet…” Gemma mutters, and neither Harry nor Louis dare react to that. “Try to tone it down.”

“We will.” Harry smiles, but wants to slap himself right after.

“I thought you weren’t the ones making the noises…?” Gemma asked rhetorically as she walked out, leaving the ghost of the most stressful conversation in the room, the most stressful so far anyway...

 

*****

 

“I’ve never seen so many books my entire life.” Louis whispers, completely bewildered by the amount of bookshelves in the room.

Des had surprised Jay with a dinner date in the city, going just the two of them for a romantic meal without children. They had given them enough money to order pizzas and stay together while they were out, and had trusted Gemma to be the temporary parent. Sure they were all old enough to take care of themselves, but they were also all old enough to make a huge mess and possibly set the house on fire.

Gemma had other plans though, so she and Lottie dressed up to enjoy her friend’s casual party, who had plenty of siblings and cousins near Lottie’s age. She was celebrating her birthday with her family on a rented yacht, so Lottie agreed to go and socialize, without fearing any drug sneaking in her cup with Gemma by her side.

Harry and Louis were therefore left alone in the house for most of the evening, and needless to say they were making the most of it.

They had somehow found themselves in a water fight in the garden with water guns, chasing each other until Harry stepped into the house, convinced Louis wouldn’t follow him. But he regretted it the second he saw him run at full speed towards him, not caring if he was splashing water everywhere inside.

They ran around the whole villa, which had turned into a warzone, and stopped at every sink they passed by to refill their guns, giggling and squeaking every time the cold water would hit them.

When Louis entered a room to escape Harry, he dropped his empty guns and held his hands up, ready to wave the white flag and save himself. Harry wasn’t thinking about winning then though. He hadn’t stepped into this room the whole time he had been here, and it was just bringing back a lot of memories.

It was his dad’s office. The room was nothing like him and gave a vibe of extreme egocentrism and will to impress. His brother had decorated the room, insisting it would suit the house perfectly, even though it didn’t. But he was so proud and kept bragging so much that he had given the house its authenticity, that Des was just glad to make his little brother happy.

It’s not a big room, just spacious enough to fit a large wooden desk overlooking the entire space, black leather chair behind it, swallowing anyone under six foot trying to sit in it. There were a few papers on it, a pen holder and an empty copper vase on the right corner.

A few canvas were hanging on the wall, painted provincial gardens and all types of still lives Anne had witnessed over the years.

There were also two entire walls dedicated to four an endless bookshelves. Novels, encyclopaedias, dictionaries and a hundred discovery books all on display, neatly organized and giving the room its charm.

“My mom always came here to read while my dad was working on something. She’d take her green chair and a blanket, and just read a novel while he was focused on papers.” Harry explains as he walks around the room and looks at every corner as if he was discovering the details for the first time.

“That’s nice…” Louis smiles to himself before skipping to sit in the gigantic leather throne.

Harry turns to brush his fingers on one of the canvas, feeling the paint and remembering the day his mom had spent hours trying to get it perfect while he was dipping his little hands in the pots and leaving his handprints on the canvas Anne would give him when he wanted to be just like her.

When he turned back around, Louis was twirling on the chair, suddenly looking very intimidating. He had pushed his wet hair back, forming a sort of quiff that somehow made his cheekbones stand out, growing beard making him look older than usual.

“Come to daddy.” Louis said seriously, chair turned towards Harry. He then burst out laughing when Harry’s jaw dropped. “You should see your face !”

“That’s not funny.” Harry frowned, but started giggling anyway.

He walks towards the desk and sits on the edge, facing Louis as he starts opening every drawer to explore his dad’s bits and bobs.

“Your dad keeps really weird stuff in those drawers…” Louis chuckles, waving a colourful plastic Slinky.

“That’s mine and Gemma’s !” Harry gasps, taking the toy from Louis to play with it. “We’d always come to play here, he must have found all the things we left.”

Louis stops rolling his eyes in adoration when his eyes land on something apparently very appealing. He licks his lips and leans closer towards the drawer, getting his arm at the bottom of it to reach what he spotted.

“So which one of you played with that in here ?” Louis smirks, lifting a pack of condoms and sitting back into the chair to watch as Harry loses his smile.

“What the…Neither of us !” Harry quickly takes the box from Louis to check the expiration date, and cringes. Louis winces as well and they both picture the worst thing to ever picture their parent doing.

There’s a brief silent before Harry starts playing with the spring toy again to focus on something else really fast, pretending to play the accordion.

Louis on the other hand is still holding the box though. He stands up and slowly spreads Harry’s legs with his hands to stand between them. Harry doesn’t react at first and just sets the toy on the desk to glance at the look that says Louis has an idea that’ll get them in trouble.

“What ?” He chuckles, pulling Louis closer by his hips.

Louis wiggles his eyebrows once and reaches Harry’s ear, stroking one thigh with his free hand.

“Wanna play ?” He whispers before kissing Harry’s neck in one peck and going back to see his face.

“Here ?” Harry asks, still grinning as he moves his hands to hold onto the waistband of Louis’ shorts.

Louis nods, coy smile and cheeky eyes as he leans in to kiss Harry who opens his mouth immediately. He sets the box on the desk and takes off both their wet shirts to drop them on the floor, and steps even closer than before.

They resume kissing, slowly and gently at first, progressively speeding up the pace as Harry wraps his legs around Louis’ waist, hands behind him on the desk.

Louis kisses him from his lips to his cheek, from his cheek to his neck, and from his neck to his collarbones. He stays there for a while before making his way back up to Harry’s neck, biting and sucking there as usual whilst caressing his torso all the way to his navy blue short shorts. They were actually Gemma’s and Louis had asked how in the hell that boy managed to look good in literally everything.

He goes back to his lips as he palms him over the fabric, glad to feel him twitch under his hand while he tastes a minty flavour on his tongue.

Harry straightens up quickly after to squeeze Louis’ arse, massaging as they keep kissing, getting sloppier and louder as their hands make the both of them unable to contain themselves.

He slips his hands in Louis’ shorts and boxers and keeps feeling his bum, then walks them on the sides, and stands up to drag them all the way down.

Louis steps aside and waits for Harry to stand back up to do the same, freeing a semi he wastes no time getting back to when he sits back down. He keeps his grip gentle, teasing the tip, sliding his hand at a careful pace, and slowly speeds up, intensifying the gesture until Harry is sporting a full erection.

He moves back a bit when he feels Harry’s hand between his legs, stroking his cock even though he doesn’t need to do much, because seeing Harry naked on a massive wooden desk is apparently quite the turn on.

“Wait…” Louis breathes and bends down to look for something in the drawers. “Do you know where we- Get in !”

He stands back up with a small bottle of lube and the biggest smile, placing it on the table before squeezing Harry’s thighs. He looks at him for a while before engaging in an open mouthed kiss and lets him stand up, turn around, and bend over the desk, leaning on his elbows while Louis thanks God for such a view.

“Um…a-alright…” Louis whispers, and Harry has the feeling he hadn’t planned it like that, but he’s definitely going with it.

He takes the bottle and makes sure Harry’s hole is slick enough as he walks his hands over it, his other holding on Harry’s hip. He spreads the lube and teases at a painfully slow pace, earning silent moans as Harry closes his eyes, fists clenching and head facing the desk.

Louis keeps going for a few seconds before sliding a finger in, then a second, then a third, spreading Harry who’s whimpering and rocking back on his hand to get him deeper, hair blinding him when he lifts his head up.

“Okay ?” Louis asks, stroking Harry’s bum cheek, waiting for him to nod before getting his fingers out.

“Just…” Harry breathes.

“Hmm ?”

“Please just don’t…” Harry is very shy to speak all of a sudden, and just hopes Louis will get what he means. “Just go for it, yeah ?”

“I don’t want to hurt you…”

“S’alright…I trust you.”

Louis doesn’t respond to that. And if Harry had opened his eyes to see the look on his face, he’d probably be finished already.

Harry can hear him open the box and get a condom out before putting it on and placing one hand on his lower back. He bites his lip as soon as he feels Louis’ tip, and squints his eyes as he takes the first inches, making his mouth form an ‘o’, because he might not even be moving yet, he can feel how thick he is very, very well.

He might think he’s fine, might think he can take it without much effort, but then Louis starts moving and he loses it a bit. He feels one slow thrust with a hand on his back, and thanks the universe they’re alone, because there’s no way he could be interrupted and risk not feeling more of that.

He’s enjoying the slow thrusts and gentle caress of his arse, swaying his hips to fit Louis'. When he finally settles and matches Louis' movements, he’s taken aback when he speeds up and gets just that much deeper every single time, until he's nearly pounding into him, hands firm on each hip and then gentle along his spine, just to make sure to wreck Harry’s insides and make him wonder if he’ll ever be able to walk again.

Harry tries to hold on to the desk and reaches for the edge, pushing the copper vase and the pen holder to the floor as he grips the wood and starts making the most deafening sounds Louis has probably ever heard.

“AWH ! F-“ Harry keeps his mouth wide open as Louis fucks him on his dad’s desk, moaning just as loud and surely losing it just as much.

Harry’s being ripped apart, nearly sobbing every time he feels Louis’ pelvis against his bum. His hair is all over his face, flowing with each breath he lets out of his mouth, hands stuck to the wood, holding on to it to not collapse and risk missing one single thrust.

He reaches down to jerk himself off and release what’s destroying his stomach, but Louis only lets him stroke himself a few times before grasping his wrist gently and getting it out of the way.

“Hold it.” Louis pants. He sounds as wrecked as Harry feels and slows down before thrusting in one brutal move and hitting Harry’s prostate, making the latter’s eyes watery and his cock on the verge of staining Des’ desk.

Louis does it again twice before Harry is full on screaming and moaning at the same time Louis fills the condom.

When he pulls away, Harry’s cock has started to leak, so he turns around and looks at Louis in desperation, almost pleading for some sort of release.

He makes Harry sit on the desk and pushes his torso with his hands so he can lay down. He then starts pumping him, watching as Harry splashes cum on himself and finally begins to calm down.

“Fuck...now I’m all-“ He means to say ‘covered in my own cum’, but he can’t really finish that sentence when Louis starts licking him and cleaning every wet surface, eyes glued on Harry who's leaning on his elbows to watch the whole thing.

“You were saying ?” Louis smirks.

Harry tries to chuckle but all he can let out is a happy sigh as he flops back down on the desk, chest rising and falling and arse burning. He doesn’t focus on what Louis does after that, lost in his very own Twilight Zone.

“You’re okay baby ?” Louis asks, brushing his fingertips on Harry’s legs. Harry nods, eyes still closed, heavy breathing taking over his ability to talk.

When he starts to feel his legs again, he stands up slowly, wincing when his bum touches the edge of the desk. Louis has pulled his boxers and shorts back on and is trying to tidy up the slight mess they’ve created, being too sweaty to sit back in that leather chair to recover.

“I can’t find the-“ Louis starts as the front door slams shut.

There’s a moment in your life where you know you’re so screwed and have so little way to get out, that you really just consider lying on the floor and surrender. That is what both Louis and Harry felt like in that moment.

They’re suddenly very fast and not weak at all, and rush to put everything back in place, grab the vase and the pen holder, replace the few papers that got mixed up along the way, put the condom box and the lube where they found it, and run out of the office before getting caught once Harry is dressed.

Harry goes first and sprints to the room, and Louis takes one last glance to check if he didn’t leave anything suspicious, when he bumps into Lottie. Harry can hear her start a conversation with him and he just hopes she stays clueless.

“Louis ! The party was so much fun ! We couldn’t stay for too long after all since mom texted they were coming home, but people were so nice ! And I made so many friends and Gemma-“

Harry wants to go and save Louis so bad, but the run he went for in the hallway just worsened the state of his bum, and he really can’t move properly right now. He’s about to just pretend to call for him, but Lottie lets him go, and he thanks her mentally because he’s honestly too exhausted after a water war and another kind of struggle to shout.

When Louis enters the room, he makes sure no one is behind him before cussing all the way to his bed, falling on it to soothe the mini heart attack.

“This was hands down the most nerve-racking moment of my life.” He confesses.

Harry should agree, or comfort him, or maybe go take a shower and lay down on his stomach for the next three days, but the only thing he can do is bursting into laughter, cackling until Louis joins him and end up having the giggles for ten minutes straight.

 

 

*****

 

 

“Gemma, Harry, Lottie, Louis ! Get downstairs ! Right now !” Des calls for everyone finishing packing in their rooms.

They all walk one by one to the smaller couch, so Louis lies down on all of them, head on Gemma’s lap, bum on Harry’s, and legs on Lottie’s. Gemma starts pulling at his ear and Lottie tries to get his feet off the couch at first, but then they all sort of accept that Louis can do whatever he wants with a bright smile, all while Harry has been grinning and enjoying his spot all along.

“What’s going on ? Are you pregnant ?!” Gemma asks, sounding a bit too excited, making Lottie squeak at the idea of a new baby while Louis and Harry try their best not to look sick.

“No, no I am not.” Jay says, no smile and no perkiness on the horizon.

“But someone else might be really soon !” Des frowns, and everyone is suddenly very silent. “I was sorting out papers in my office, and I found this.”

When Harry’s dad shows the empty condom package, Harry and Louis quickly glance at each other in horror, thinking they might have focused too much on the desk, and not enough on the floor.

There’s an uncomfortable silence where Gemma raises a brow and Lottie looks at Louis, probably remembering running into him when he got out of Des’ office, breathless and sweaty, as if it weren’t sketchy enough to begin with.

Louis must feel her eyes on him, because he slowly starts biting his nails and puts an awkward hand on his chest.

“So you’re gonna tell me which one of you thought they could invite someone over when we’re out, without warning us, just to go in my office to fool around !” Des looks furious. He hates when someone breaks his trust, especially given how tolerant he is.

“It’s not me !” Lottie hurries to get out of this.

“Well, it better not !” Jay groans as if Lottie wasn't even an option.

Harry and Louis stay silent, fidgeting as much as they can while they try to gather enough acting skills to deny this. But Gemma and Lottie know they were the only ones in the house, so they’re already feeling the aftermath of their first-time-on-a-large-desk fantasy.

They figure they might as well say it was them, not them together, obviously, but that they invited people over and shouldn’t have gone in Des’ office. Harry doesn’t want to embarrass his dad though, doesn’t want Jay to think he would have sex with a friend in his dad’s office – since he had clearly said he didn't have a boyfriend – and doesn’t want to set a bad example for Lottie.

He reckons Louis doesn’t feel like shocking his mom either, especially after taking off his chastity ring not even a week ago. He wants to be himself in front of her, but that didn’t mean sharing details on his sex life and make Des picture him with a boy every time he steps into that room, especially when that boy was his own son.

“It was me.” Gemma suddenly says.

Harry, Louis and Lottie immediately look at her in surprise, and neither Harry nor Louis dare defending her and exposing themselves.

“I wanted to show Lottie what it looked like. I was trying to find the sexual health book in your office so I could encourage her to be careful.” Gemma says as if she’s telling the truth.

Lottie frowns and gives weird looks to her sister, Harry looks down at his fingers on his lap behind Louis, and the latter keeps his eyes on the floor as he listens to the made up story.

“And why is it empty ? You thought about showing her how it works too ?!” Des has his scary voice, a voice that only comes out once a year to traumatize you and make you remember to never redo a mistake.

“I-I…It was broken. So I threw it away. I must’ve forgotten the package in your office…Sorry dad.”

Jay and Des look at each other and don’t have to speak to share what they’re thinking. Jay seems furious Gemma exposed her daughter to this sort of knowledge, but Des seems to take it as an acceptable answer.

“Okay well…” Des sounds more hesitant now, voice lower and frown gone. He can’t really get mad at his daughter for wanting to teach Lottie about safety. “Just look after yourself next time.”

“And I want to talk to you Lottie. Now.” Jay says and Lottie stands up from the couch with the most puzzled expression, looking over at Louis who can’t look away from the floor as he, for once, lets his sister take the blame for something he did.

Des gives a disapproving scowl to his daughter and leaves them all to go outside for a smoke, shaking his head with his hands on his hips on his way. Before Gemma has the time to question the boys, they’re up and ready to run back upstairs.

“You two ! Stop !” Gemma yells. Both of them look at each other before looking back at her, and Harry tries to look away because he’s the worst liar and his sister would see the truth written on his face. “I don’t want to know what happened in there, I don’t want to know if Diego or the secret boyfriend had to sneak out in the garden to get out. If you ever do that again and don’t make sure to not leave anything behind, I won’t protect either of you. Is that understood ?”

Both Harry and Louis nod as if they’re being scolded by their parent, and turn back to finish packing, not even risking looking at each other until they enter their room.

 

“For what it’s worth…I had a great time.” Louis chuckles as he rubs Harry’s back.

Harry looks up from Louis’ chest and smirks, glad Louis didn’t get too scared to want to do it again. He leans closer to kiss him, and goes back to rest his cheek on his chest.

“Wanna go back there now ?” Harry jokes, and if it weren’t for the hand slapping his head after a few seconds, he would have sworn Louis was considering it, surely thinking that was quite a way to end this trip.

 

*****

 

 

“Make sure you come by the house before noon so we can go together…And tell Niall I got him a single room on your floor…And don’t forget to- ”

“I know Paps ! Don’t worry. I’ll be there.” Harry reassures his dad before hugging him goodbye.

Everyone is gathered by Harry’s taxi waiting in front of the house while he says goodbye to the family.

Des had been repeating everything he needed to remember for the wedding and the details for his booked room, and asked again why he wasn’t just staying with them in Manchester instead of going back to London. Harry had to remind him it was Niall’s birthday before his wedding, and his dad dramatically gasped saying his son had betrayed him. He still hugged him for five minutes though…

Liam is there as well trying not to pout too much, not knowing when they’ll see each other again. He was invited to the wedding, but will have already started his classes and can’t skip them.

Lottie had been sobbing all day saying she didn’t want to leave. She had enjoyed the last few days even more than the beginning, being able to discover a lot about herself, life, and her family. She jumped into Harry’s arms and hugged him tight as he tickled her sides, trying to remind her they were now brother and sister, so he’d always be reachable if she needed him.

Gemma and Harry had never been the most affectionate siblings. They always teased each other and joked around. But they had been brought back to a simpler time when they watched movies under a blanket on rainy days and escaped the house to hang out at their friends’ pool past midnight, or go to a fancy restaurant with their dad’s credit card. So when Harry looked at her next, they both tragically fake cried and fought to hug each other like koalas.

When it’s Jay’s turn to say goodbye, she looks shy and unsure of what to do, how to approach him, scared to do the wrong thing. So Harry takes a few steps towards her and smiles before taking her into his arms and hugging her gently, leaving her, and himself, speechless. He was actually glad this woman was going to be part of his life now, and she deserved to know he was finally letting her in.

Lastly, he looked over at Louis digging his feet in the gravel. Everyone were looking at them and Harry just wanted them to disappear so he could properly kiss him goodbye. Instead, he brought one hand at the back of his neck and puled him in the most brotherly embrace he could manage, and kissed his head on the side, letting him pat his back as if he were Liam, and never look straight at him.

And then he left.

Of course, he didn’t have to complain about not being able to tell him goodbye or tell him how much he’d miss him. He had told him all night and until he had to go downstairs. He had told him when he was kissing him falling asleep, and kissing him waking up. He had told him when he was stroking his hand, and told him when he was touching every inch of him for the last time until…until.

Harry wondered on his way to the airport and the whole journey back to England what will happen.

What will happen once they see each other at the wedding ? What will happen when their parents sign the certificate making them official brothers ? And what will happen when they’ll no longer be able to treat each other the only way they know how ?

He quickly reaches for his headphones then, wanting nothing more than Carla Bruni to lull him into sleep.

 

“Hazza Bear !” Niall screams all the way from his room to the front door to throw himself in Harry’s arms, the latter jumping with him and thinking hooking his leg around Niall’s back was somehow a good idea, until they found themselves collapsing on the floor.

Niall doesn’t even let Harry put his bags in his room before getting beers and making him sit in the couch as he tells him everything he’s done, from the birth of his niece, to the conference he missed in London, all the way to the girl he nearly hooked up with in Barcelona, but ended up giving a stupid excuse when she found out he was a virgin.

He made sure he had left no details and major events before finishing his beer and getting what they would need to discuss Harry’s summer. He came back from the kitchen with a bottle of chocolate sauce, two spoons, and the biggest vanilla ice cream - the one made out of coconut milk - because Harry had filled the entire freezer with them.

“And no one noticed ?” Niall asked after Harry told him most of what happened in Nice.

“No…I don’t think so.”

“You’re crazy.”

Harry digs his spoon in the ice cream and takes the biggest scoop that’ll freeze his brain. He tilts his head to pour the chocolate sauce as he would a bottle of vodka, and he lets Niall rest his head on his shoulder as he mimics him.

“I don’t know much about love man, and I hate to tell you this…but I think you should end it before the wedding...before it hits you too hard and stops just like that. You should end it with baby steps.” Niall says with his mouth full of ice cream and face covered with chocolate.

“But I don’t know if I can do that though…”

Niall sits up and takes the spoon and frozen pot from Harry’s hands to put it on the table. He makes him turn to face him on the couch and gives him the ‘listen to me’ look he knows always precedes the one thing that’ll change his mind.

“Imagine. It’s after the wedding. You keep doing what you’ve been doing with Louis, and then here’s what happens: you get more and more invested into the…let’s call that a relationship…and then what ? You spend your time hiding from everyone and sneaking around, never able to talk about the person you care about the most ? You can’t introduce each other to friends and family – because I doubt the phrase “this is my boyfriend. Oh ! By the way, he’s also my brother !” will pass as casual – you can’t be seen being too close, can’t hang out everywhere, and can’t move in together without your parents asking why you’re isolating yourselves with your step-brother and haven’t had a boyfriend all this time...”

“Then your dad eventually finds out and blames himself for keeping you from being with him, so he gets a divorce from the woman he loves to make his son happy even if he’s not. And don’t deny this because you’re the one who should know that. He’ll spend another decade alone to only please his kids and never himself, and finishes his days mourning the loss of the two women he ever loved.”

When Niall is done, Harry’s not too sure when his best friend turned into a fortune teller. But he gets his point. And, as much as it hurts, he can’t deny that. He can’t keep pretending this is not what will happen. So he lays down with his head on Niall’s lap, and lets him rub his tummy as he cries his eyes out, agreeing that the most sincere thing he’s ever experienced had to come to an end.

 

For the first time in their entire fifteen years of friendship, Harry wasn’t the one looking after Niall that night. He woke up on the couch – because Niall probably figured he couldn’t carry him without falling every three steps – with his comforter to his chin, his Green Lantern socks on, and his blankie under his cheek instead of a pillow. And the very fact that Niall had searched for the baby blue piece of cloth in his suitcase, knowing Harry couldn’t sleep without it, made him realize how much they had each other’s back.

He started planning the day in his head. He would get up, take a shower, unpack, and begin the process of picking up his phone to make the call he dreaded the most.

So he spends the entire day sat at his desk with his phone in the middle of the table.

He reorganizes the comic books in the tall shelf beside the desk, changes the bulb of the lamp he hadn’t been using for a year, throws away the letters he had left opened for months, and sharpens every single one of his pencils. He basically does anything that would delay the one task he really needs to take care of.

When his desk is freakishly perfect and his collected comic books are shiny enough to blind him, he grabs his phone. He stares at it another ten minutes, and finally slides his thumb to pick the right number.

“Hello ?” Louis answers after the third beat and Harry is already collapsing.

“Hi…” He tries his best, but he already sounds depressing.

“Hi…H-How are you ?”

“Good, good…You ?”

“Same.” He doesn’t know if Louis was somehow with them on that couch the night before, but he has the same tone Harry has and there’s no surprise or concern in his voice.

There’s a brief silence before they start talking at the same time.

“We need to talk.” They both said and Harry frowned at that because, no, this wasn’t happening.

“What do you wanna talk about ?” Louis asks.

“No, what do you wanna talk about ?”

He can hear a heavy sigh on the other line and he’d never had to endure so many painful silences on the phone.

“I thought about…stuff…and I figured…um…” Louis sounds like he’s holding back words that could start a fire in his throat. “...I think you’re frozen, Harry.”

What.

“What ?”

“I think you’re frozen, and I have to get off that door and whistle.” Louis says as if it’s any clarification.

Until it is.

“So I’m Jack ?” 

“Obviously.”

“How so ?” Harry goes to his bed to lay down and try to keep his head from spinning too much. He didn't mean to start a conversation like this, but it was far better than the one he had envisioned.

“Jack is a carefree and passionate spirit who knew the right words to show a confused Rose trapped in her own world how to stop worrying about the wrong things and just enjoy an adventure. You’re Jack, and I’m Rose. And the ship is at the bottom of the ocean.”

There’s another pause after that, not because it’s awkward, but because Harry is smiling and crying at the same time and unable to form any clear sentences yet.

“You’re prettier than Leonardo...but still.” Louis adds.

“And your curves are way more impressive than Kate Winslet’s.” Harry giggles.

“I know. ” Louis agrees seriously and Harry lets out the laugh he didn’t think it’d be hearing for a while only hours ago.

Another silence settles after their laughs and their sighs and the words they don’t need to say out loud.

“I can’t believe our version of the diamond necklace is a mug with penises on it.” Louis says after a while, and Harry starts laughing all over again.

They end up talking for hours about the reason why Rose threw the necklace into the ocean, how unrealistic the axe scene was, and eventually finish on the common question: why the hell didn’t they share that bloody wooden door.

But they also talk about every random things they can possibly think of.

They talk about Louis' days in the high school football team and drama club, Harry's science retreat in Switzerland to visit the CERN, Louis' relationship with his mom, and Harry's relationship with his dad.

“Oh my god ! You must’ve wanted to punch him !” Louis laughs when Harry tells him about the ‘Joshua Polonsky incident’. Des had dropped Harry off to school one day and had grabbed his megaphone to yell “Joshua ! Harry fancies you ! He likes long walks on the beach and superheroes ! Go date my son !” through the window after Harry had just mentioned liking him once.

“When it happened yeah…But Josh asked me out on a date the same day. So I thanked him instead.”

“No way !”

“Way. But he thought Ghost Busters 2 was as good as the original Ghost Busters, so it was a bit of a fail.” Harry shrugs.

“I don’t even know what to tell you.” Louis said and Harry still had enough giggles in him for another hour like that.

“My dad felt so bad for ruining my crush he gave me ice cream for dinner for two whole months. Which could explain my slight lactose intolerance.”

“Des is definitely the best !” Louis laughs. “Mark was nothing like that…”

They had never talked about Louis’ dad. He’d never bring it up and always dodged the subject. It was the most taboo thing about that family, so Harry didn’t say one word when he understood who ‘Mark’ was.

“He never drove us to school anyways or asked about our day, so no chance of knowing anything. He didn’t do much with us altogether, but still…”

Harry wasn’t too sure if he should say something or ask details. So he let him speak about whatever he felt like sharing.

“I think I wanted him to be a great dad a bit too much, make up for my biological father who never even legally acknowledged me…” Louis sounds cold, as if he’d learnt to lack emotions towards this. “He was nice at first, but he turned into a jerk within a few months and constantly lied to my mom and was never home, even for Lottie. He thought I was too feminine and weak, so he'd never take me anywhere. My mom never told us why they got a divorce, but I kind of guessed the reason when I drove past his workplace and saw him kiss a very pregnant woman, not even two months after leaving the house. I never told Lottie though, and I never told this to my mom either...but I’m pretty sure she knew.”

There’s a long pause after that, so Harry figures it’s all he can say, which is a lot. Then he figures it’s his turn to talk to him about fatherhood.

“My dad is the best father you could have. And he loves you already. I can tell he’d do anything to make you happy, and not just because you’re his fiancée’s son. I saw him treat you the same way he treats me and Gemma. So please, don’t worry about a past of jerks. Your future is full of surprised parties set up because you baked cookies without setting the house on fire, and theme park weeks because you accepted to go golfing with him when you had plans with your friends.”

“I don’t want you to think I’m trying to steal him or something…”

“Oh no, please do ! I’ve had him focused on my achievements for twenty years, I have enough for a lifetime !” Harry chuckles and is glad Louis is laughing with him.

 

It’s only when Harry sees his room lit by the sun slowly rising, that he realizes they’ve spent over seven hours on the phone. And yes, it will feel this one at the end of the month.

 

“I think we should go to sleep…” 

“Yeah…” Louis agrees, but neither of them hang up, neither of them try to somehow end the phone call, and neither of them dare letting go of that damn floating door.

 

“Hey, Harry ?” Louis whispers after a while.

“Hmm ?”

“I hate you, you know…” Louis whispers as if he wants no one but him to hear that.

“I hate you too.”

 

 

*****

 

 

“What’s that red bag under your bed ?”

“My survival kit.” 

 

The only thing Harry did all day was talk to Louis. They were constantly texting, calling each other on the phone, sending each other snapchats, spending hours just watching the other through Skype, and eventually fall asleep with a screen next to their head.

Needless to say their decision to take their distance was a huge fail.

 

“Why do you have a survival kit under your bed ?” Louis raised a brow. Harry was packing for the wedding while Louis was lying in his bed, just watching him.

“In case of an apocalypse. Duh.”

“You’re such a weirdo.” 

“Lou, when machines are going to develop their own conscience and take over the world, you’ll be sorry to not have your own kit.”

“Babe, if machines ever take over the world, I’d be the one controlling them from my room with two joysticks and an evil laugh.” Louis states the obvious. “So I can arrange to keep you alive.”

Harry bursts out laughing and nearly drops his pair of black Chelsea boots trying to hold his stomach. Because Louis is still the funniest person to have ever graced this planet.

 

“I don’t think this is appropriate for a wedding, love.” Louis remarks when he sees Harry packing his black see through shirt that doesn’t even have enough buttons to go past the butterfly he has tattooed on his chest.

“I wasn’t gonna wear it at the wedding…” Harry huffs, but immediately puts it back on the hanger.

“How was Niall’s party ?”

“Was fun…We went to a club and came home at seven in the morning with him running around butt naked in the streets…But it was fun.” Harry giggled.

“Do I want to know ?”

“No you do not.” Harry shakes his head, clicking his tongue to emphasize the ‘t’.

“Did you…dance…and stuff ?” Louis asks, hesitant, and Harry takes a look at the screen to see him fidget with his pillow case.

“I did. By myself though.” Harry smiles and Louis seems to like that answer.

He keeps packing whilst Louis watches him and comments on what he’s taking, or what he notices in his room. They’re discussing Harry’s Star Wars laser, mostly used as a flashlight when he can’t bring himself to change any light bulb in the apartment, when his phone rings.

“Hi Gems !” Harry answers. He gets away from the closet to sit behind his desk, trying not to laugh at the funny faces Louis is making.

“Hey Haz, I wanted to talk to you about something…Are you alone ?” She sounds unsure and Harry starts to worry a bit, because Gemma is usually never the type to fear awkward conversations.

“Um…yeah. What’s up ?” He asks, choking his laugh with his hand while Louis tries his best to entertain him.

“I didn’t know how to ask…and maybe I’m just paranoid but-“ Gemma starts, but Harry knocks his fist on the edge of his desk and squints his eyes, and Louis immediately asks if he’s okay. “Is that Louis ?”

“Yeah, we’re skyping.”

“Okay…um…can you call him back ? This is sort of important.” Gemma uses her serious voice and turns the call into the scariest one. The only time she used that voice was when Harry took her new sweater without permission, and when she wanted to warn him about Jeff.

He types on the keyboard what Gemma’s telling him to Louis, and the latter assures he’ll go get some food in the meantime and come back.

“Done. What’s wrong ?”

“I just wanted you to tell me I’m crazy and that I’m just imagining things here.”

“About what ?” Harry can hear Gemma take a deep breath before continuing.

“Are you and Louis…like…together ?”

“What ?!” Harry shouts, as if it’s the most shocking and impossible thing that could ever happen. “Just because we’re both gay, that’s…I can’t believe you went there.”

“I know ! But…I saw the way you looked at each other and how you were always touching and stuff, and I thought you had just started to just like each other but…but then it started being a bit weird like…I’m not sure rubbing your brother’s back like he did was normal and…and the way he was always on his guard but then went extra soft and gentle when it was you or…or that thing you did where you looked like you were going to kiss but turned at the last minute…”

“Just because we get along really well, doesn’t mean we’re more than…friends…” Harry tries to defend himself.

“But there’s a difference between getting along and what you’ve been doing…and you know it.”

“Gems, Lou and I have a lot of things in common and became comfortable around each other. That doesn’t mean we…do stuff.”

“Really ? Because it didn’t sound like you were just talking about your common interests when he somehow made you scream in your room...and don’t even get me started with that condom mystery...” She says as if she knows exactly what happened in there, and Harry is running out of plausible explanations.

“I told you. It wasn’t me. We’re just…friends.”

“But you’re not supposed to be just friends Haz. You’re supposed to be brothers. And a lot of things I’ve noticed aren’t very brother like. You think I wouldn’t match his boyfriend’s features with yours ? And the fact that you called him ‘mon coeur’ ? Or how you weren’t even surprised to find out he was gay ?” Gemma is talking like she’d been analyzing the whole thing for days and coming to a set conclusion. 

“It’s not what you think.”

“Then tell me Haz ! Please. Tell me if Dad is going to be unhappy one more time. Tell if he’ll lose the woman he loves because of you…again.”

“Again ?” Harry’s face drops. This is the one thing he’d always tried to not think about. Des and Gemma had repeated him how it wasn’t his fault, that he couldn’t have warned Anne anyway, so he shouldn’t blame himself for taking a nap in the car. But it did cross his mind over the years, and Gemma had just pulled the wrong string. “You think it was my fault ?”

“I’m not saying that. All I’m saying is that he deserves to not have to spend his life just looking after us while he’s lonely.”

“I’m not going to ask him to not marry Jay.“

“But I saw the way you looked at Louis, Harry. I know that look. It’s the look of someone ready to do anything to be with that one person, at any costs. And I’m not sure I’m okay with that.”

Harry stays quiet. He doesn’t know how to convince his sister he’s not going to keep this up, because he hasn’t even been able to convince himself. They’ve tried several times to end it, but always found their way back to each other. So he doesn’t know what to tell her, doesn’t know if he can keep any promises, and doesn’t know if he should just hang up and ignore her calls from now on.

“You really love him, huh ?” Gemma asks with a gentle voice, as if she can hear the tears slowly warming his cheeks.

Harry starts sobbing, lips trembling as he closes his eyes on his fist. His brain is a horrible place to be right now, and he just wishes he was a machine, with no heart to feel the way he does.

“I’m so sorry Hazza. I wish it were different.” Gemma tries to comfort her brother, but he’s full on crying right now and all he can do is hang up and throw the phone on his desk.

He takes a moment to get it together and stop crying. It doesn’t matter how many times he wipes his eyes with hands though, because tears just keep streaming and his heart keeps hurting.

He’s still not completely fine when he calls Louis back, but he reckons it’s probably better for what he’s about to tell him.

“Finally ! I was starting to think you had forgotten about me !” Louis jokes, but this time Harry can’t bring himself to laugh. He’s not looking at the screen and he’s sniffling, eyes small and red as he chooses his words.

“I wish I could…” He mutters.

“What ? Are you crying ?...Baby, what’s wrong ?” Louis is in fact too gentle and soft and caring, and Harry feels his stomach twist.

“We have to forget, Lou.” Harry finally looks up, lips still shaking. “We’re brothers. Nothing else. And I don’t like you any other way.”

“Baby…”

“Stop…calling me that. Stop calling me altogether. Don’t acknowledge me…I’m begging you.” Harry is pleading, watching as Louis starts crying as well.

He had never seen him cry like that. He’s not even sure he’s ever seen him actually cry to begin with when he's staring at him right now. His eyes are glossy and red, stabbing Harry’s chest, his pursed lips are holding noises Harry doesn’t want to hear, and he’s looking back at him with the kind of sadness a child who’s been deprived of happiness his whole life would have.

Louis licks his shaking lips and fixes his fringe before speaking, stuttering a bit.

“I- I won’t.”

The screen is suddenly nothing but a photo, a tiny icon of Louis lying on the grass with a strand of lavender between his nose and his upper lip, pouting to show the fake mustache Harry had picked from the garden.

And Harry realizes how useless the survival kit under his bed is, because the world had just ended, and he didn’t survive.

 

 

Chapter Text

“Harry ! If you don’t get out of there I’m going to call 999 !” Niall snorts and grasps Harry’s ankles at the end of the bed. He tries pulling him out, but his friend is holding on to the edge of his bed and doesn’t intend to let go.

“I don’t care.” Harry mumbles in Louis’ hoodie, that somehow became his equivalent of a pillow.

“But look ! The sun is out, men are wearing shorts, and puppies are everywhere ! You need to get out and witness this day !” Niall insists as he tugs at the comforter Harry’s been hiding under. The latter just grunts, saying indescribable words muffled in the hoodie.

Niall isn’t the type to give up though.

This nineteen year old Irish genius was always first in school whilst being the class clown, entered one of the most renowned institutes of science at seventeen, won a medal for best gymnast in high school even though he couldn’t even lift any of his weight on his hands to do a cart wheel four months prior to the contest – he wanted to impress a girl who only dated athletes - and once waited five hours on the phone for customer service, just to complain about the wait for customer service.

So getting Harry out of bed after days of isolation ? Children’s play.

He climbs on the bed and lies entirely on his friend’s back. He had been working out all morning in his room, so he was sticky and hot, face still red and brown hair wet. He knows how much Harry hates contact with someone sweating – that is if you’re not a five foot and nine inches ball of sass – and could kill someone for daring putting all their weight on him – that is, again, if you’re not a five foot and nine inches ball of sass. 

“If you don’t get off me within five seconds you’re gonna have to run for your life Mullingar.” Harry warns.

“Perfect then ! Should I let you put on some shorts before we get going ? Or is this onesie your fashion choice for everything now ?”

“Fine.” Harry sighs and Niall gets up, quickly followed by his friend. He takes that as a victory and starts cheering blissfully, until Harry steps out of his pyjamas to find himself completely naked before lying back down on his bed. “I dare you to lay down on me now.”

“You’re sick.” Niall says in disgust, throwing the pillow he takes from the floor on Harry’s head. “Ssssick !” He continues until he’s out of the bedroom.

Harry hadn’t been able to motivate himself to do anything. His days consisted of waking up, and waiting for the day to pass to fall back asleep. He only got out of bed to restock his bowl of gummy bears and grab more water. He had given Niall the exact recipe of the Tommo Treat, and his friend brought it to him once a day with a side of greens to not let his blood turn into plain sugar and gelatine.

The weekend at the hotel was starting the day after. He and Niall would take the train to Manchester and join his family at the old house before driving to the countryside together.

Harry still had to finish packing though, and needed to sort out his unshaved face – it was only an extremely light moustache and just a few hair on his chin, but still - and zombie eyes before scaring every guests.

He wasn’t even sure if he wanted to go anymore. He didn’t know if he would be able to just sit there, and watch everyone celebrate his pain.

So he spent the day in bed anyway, only getting up in the middle of the night to do what he had planned, not being able to sleep when he knew he’d see him again, and would have to pretend that man didn’t have his heart in his hands.

 

The Holbeck Ghyll Country House turned out to be even bigger than Harry thought.

They were driving through an alley of wild flowers and gigantic firs, and he was tilting his head out the window to let the crisp air caress his cheeks, a soothing smell of the leaves and the lakes relaxing his throbbing heart.

The hotel itself was sumptuous, breathing the rustic atmosphere and British traditions. The estate was overlooking the Lake Windermere, and the three sixty degree view resembled a painting.

Des and Jay had booked “The Imperial Wedding Suite” for themselves for after the wedding - staying in normal single rooms before that - a double room for Gemma and Harry, and a double one for Lottie and Louis. A few guests had also booked a room to enjoy the weekend without two long drives in one day, making it impossible to not run into family members during their stay.

As the tradition went in Jay’s family, the groom and bride couldn’t see each other the entire day before the wedding, until they’d meet again at the altar. Des had planned a golfing tournament with his four brothers and whomever wanted to come along to join or watch, and the hotel had offered Jay and her chosen guests a full spa experience before the big day.

When Gemma and Harry entered their room, it smelled like Harry’s new ‘Vanilla Bourbon’ Yankee Candle. The windows were giving a direct view on the flowers and trees, and the beds were begging to be used, mountains of pillows and thick comforters under the green and pink floral bedspreads. There was a living room area around a TV, and a small bench at the foot of each bed, all in a very chic old-fashioned vibe.

“Dibs !” Gemma yelled when she jumped on the bed next to the window.

“When is your first massage ?” Harry asks, not even paying attention to his sister getting the bed he’d normally fight for.

“In about…” Gemma starts but checks her watch before saying something wrong. “Fuck ! fifteen minutes !” She quickly gets up, switches her boots for fancy flip flops, and rushes out of the room before Harry can tell her to enjoy herself.

They hadn’t talked about it again. Gemma had spent the drive looking at him being silent while she chatted with Niall. She couldn’t look at him without pity and worry, so Harry had forbade her to look at him altogether until she’d stop saying so many ‘sorry’ with her eyes.

He hangs his tailored suit in the closet, and flops on his bed, his chest still as painful as it was when he woke up in the morning.

He was planning on skipping the golf extravaganza and hide from the few family members that were staying in the hotel. He’d watch a movie on the telly, raid the mini bar, and bury himself under the ten pillows until he forgot where or who he was.

But that was no plan when you had a Niall Horan on your floor.

“I’m coming !” Harry shouted when he heard the quick knocks on the door. Niall didn’t even wait for Harry to invite him in before crashing on his bed.

“Fuck, those beds are so soft...” Niall moaned, and Harry got the impression he was third-wheeling right now. “Ready to golf ?”

“Hmm, I think I’ll pass…”

“Harry !” Niall scolded and threw a pillow at him. “Have you seen him yet ?”

“No…”

“Then why are you so depressing already ?! Come with me, let’s mess around with the golf kart while the old men try to show off their skills, and then let’s show them how it’s done !” Niall insists, moving his arms and legs on the bed as if to make a snow angel.

“I don’t feel like it. You can go without me though…I think Matt is going.” Harry mutters and starts undoing his jeans.

“Nononono. You’re coming with me…” Niall gets up and pushes Harry towards the door, hands on his back as Harry tries digging his feet in the carpet to resist Niall’s push. “…and we’re going to take your mind off of things !”

“But what if I run into him ? I don’t know what to tell him !” Harry whines.

“What do you mean you don’t know wh-…You’ve spent days on your phone or laptop talking to the guy, you didn’t run out of things to say for one second to let me sleep ! I think you’ll manage something. Now come on !”

“But that was when we were still…us. Now I don’t even know if I should shake his hand or just wave hello.” Harry struggles but finally lets Niall drag him out of the room.

They make their way to the lobby, and Harry already regrets giving in to his friend, because the first person they run into is a Tomlinson. Not the one Harry was afraid to see, but still.

“Harry !” Lottie exclaims and runs into his arms to hug him. He lifts her up the floor a bit and sways them whilst resting his head on her shoulder, glad to see his little sister again.

“How’s the fairest of them all doing ?” Harry sticks his tongue out and Lottie rolls her eyes, because she’s apparently too cool for that.

“I’m so excited ! I heard about the golfing tournament ! Am I allowed to go ?” Lottie asks, eyes glimmering with hope.

"You like to golf ?” Niall raises a brow, as if a teenage girl couldn’t appreciate the sport.

“Yes. Is that a problem ?” Lottie brings her hands on her hips as she looks up and down Niall, and Harry wonders if Jay is as sassy as her kids.

“No, no, not at all…s’just …different…” Niall stutters.

“Lottie that’s Niall, my best mate.” Harry tries to save him.

“Nice to meet you.” Niall smiles, suddenly very shy.

“Oh, alright…Nice to meet you too.”

There’s a brief silence and Harry sees Niall’s cheeks turn red, so he figures they should probably get going before people start asking if he’s classified as a fruit or a vegetable.

He doesn’t get the chance to though, because Jay is walking towards them, and he can’t speak the second he spots a classy quiff in a navy blue jumper and white denims rolled up at the bottom to show glorious ankles above Tommy Hilfiger moccasins in the same shade as the jumper.

“Darling ! How are you ?! It’s so good to see you again !” Jay hugs Harry and kisses his cheek before looking over at Niall. “And you should be Niall…I’m Jay.”

“I know. I mean, great place ! I mean, no, it’s a hotel, not your place, but I meant great choice of place…” Niall sighs. “Hi.” He finally says and takes her hand to kiss it and make up for being a bit socially awkward. But Jay grins and doesn’t seem to mind.

“Hi mate, I’m Louis.” Niall shakes the rich looking model’s hand and smiles politely, nudging Harry next to him to make his friend act like they’re not mortal enemies. He’s standing on the opposite side of him, and he’s keeping his eyes on the room rather than anywhere on his right.

“Niall. Great shoes !”

“I was on my way to the spa, but you have fun. And don’t forget the dinner in the reception room ! I have a very strict schedule to not risk bumping into your father, so I might not be there tonight, but I’ll see you around.” Jay chuckles. “Enjoy the day kids !”

When Jay is gone, the atmosphere is slightly more uncomfortable. Harry doesn’t dare turn to even look at him for a second, clenching his jaw and letting Lottie and Niall chat while he’s trying to not glance at the man he wants to stare at the most.

“I didn’t know you were Irish, I have a friend who lives in Dublin and she’s always begging me to come visit.” Lottie is trying to make conversation, but Niall is even more of a mess than usual.

He’s always had issues keeping calm when around girls he fancied. He would giggle even more than usual, turn into a tomato, cross his arms on his chest and bite his nails whilst looking like he’s trying to not jump on her, doing his best not to accidentally propose. He even had a code red ritual so Harry could help him out, and his friend was already preparing himself to hear the word “help” in Klingon.

And Lottie was indeed very stunning right now, even more than usual anyway. She was wearing a nicely fitted short sleeves trapeze white dress with a light blue round collar, bringing out her eyes and her ballet flats in the same color.

She had tied her hair in a stylishly messy ponytail with a few hair sticking out on each side, and braided a lock that was wrapped around as a hair tie. She’d gone for a very simple yet effective make up, only showing rosy cheeks and light mascara, living her lips with a sheer lip gloss and her nails natural.

So Niall looked a bit awestruck and not ready to hear she had some sort of Irish knowledge.

“Luigi !” A young man called behind them. He skipped towards Louis and hooked his arm around his shoulders before introducing himself. “Hi ! I’m Stan, Louis’ friend.”

Niall shook his hand while saying his name, and Harry leaned to politely do the same.

“Harry ? You’re the groom’s son, huh ? How happy are you to have this guy as your brother ?!” He meant to be nice and funny, but he was just saying all the wrong things and asking the wrong question.

When Harry didn’t respond and didn’t even glance at him as he looked elsewhere, Stan cleared his throat and turned to only speak to Niall.

“Are you guys going to the tournament ?”

“Yeah ! We should probably go now, or I tell yah what, they’re gonna be saying we were chickens !” Niall says and starts walking next to Stan to talk about the last time he played at The Grove in London, attracting not only Louis’ friend’s jealousy, but also his sister’s.

They started walking towards the gardens, and Harry found himself walking next to Louis, completely ignored by the others.

They don’t look at each other, don’t talk to each other, keep a two-people-could-fit-in-there gap between them, and walk as fast as they can to keep up with the sprinters in front of them.

When they reach the small crowd watching Des and his brothers play, Harry quickly places himself next to Niall while Louis goes next to Stan on the opposite side.

The tournament had already started, so no possibility to join, but it was still nice to watch. They all sat on a bench among other guests, and Harry stayed silent the whole time, not really interested in the score for once.

Niall and Lottie were however deep into a life changing conversation by the looks of it, and Louis was chatting with his friend. It was a friend Harry had never even heard of, but it wasn’t his problem anymore. In theory.

When he leaned back against the bench to just enjoy the fresh air and his little cousins cheering their dad, he decided to took one glimpse. Just one glimpse and that’d be it.

He turned his head discretely and saw Louis laughing with his crinkly eyes, bringing his hand to his mouth to contain himself as Stan told something seemingly hilarious. His friend wasn’t just making casual jokes for everyone to enjoy though, he had his arm resting behind Louis’ back on the bench, and was whispering the said jokes.

But that wasn’t Harry’s problem. He wasn’t supposed to be affected by that now, so he turned back and kept watching his dad sway his hips and drop on his knees in victory for getting the golf ball in the hole, overreacting as per usual.

They stayed there until everyone left, waiting for the grass to be emptied out and ready to have their go.

Niall was about to go first, already wiggling his eyebrows and stretching his arms, but Lottie quickly positioned herself next to the tee with her club in hand, not bothered at all by the way her dress was flowing in the wind.

She wasn’t too bad at all. She was enjoying herself and seemed to know what she was doing. But she apparently lacked posture, because Niall was quick to forget his social anxiety for golf lessons purposes, and went to stand behind her to give a few tips. He placed a light hand on her hip and used the other to show the way she should swing the club, and stepped aside to let her try.

When she managed to master Niall’s technique within seconds, the latter gave her a high five and looked like the proudest teacher, cheering her as if he weren’t originally competing against her.

Harry watched his friend help his sister out for a moment, and then got a bit lost in Louis and Stan’s direction. The friend kept standing close enough to him to whisper, making him laugh too loud, and kept smacking his bum when he walked past him – which…No.

“Okay, so you’re doing very good, just don’t forget to swing in one go.” Niall warned Lottie.

He must’ve noticed her wrong feet position after that though, and decided to go back to tell her, but she was already swinging and knocked Niall right in the stomach with her elbow.

She dropped her club and hid her face in her hands whilst gasping in horror, and Niall was slowly crumbling, choking words as he tried to breathe. Lottie immediately approached him to check on his chest with a hand on his back and a concerned voice, but it apparently made it worst because he looked like he was two seconds away from talking to God.

As soon as he recovered and Lottie kept checking if he was behind her or not, they all kept taking turns and full advantage of the course before the time arrived to get to the reception room for dinner. Louis and Stan weren’t that interested, but they still tried and kept laughing at how bad they were. And no, Harry didn’t enjoy seeing that. Louis didn't look that comfortable and happy either, trying to fake smiles just as much as him.

The hotel had managed to decorate the large main room with carefully picked white button roses and lilacs placed in the middle of every table. The band they had booked for the actual wedding had agreed to perform for the night, so the guests were chatting as jazzy melodies filled the conversations.

“That lamb is killing me.” Niall said as if in panic, overwhelmed by the perfection of the meat. Lottie giggled and surprised Niall, blushing so much he was starting to get the shade of the slice of ham in his plate.

“That’s such a messed up thing to say. He was actually the one murdered here.” Stan remarked and Niall looked at him like he had just ruined his childhood saying Santa Claus wasn’t real.

“Stan is a vegetarian and animal defender.” Louis said as if to excuse his friend’s contemptuous tone.

“Why not vegan ?” Harry asked, speaking for the first time since they had left the golf course.

“I can’t live without dairy and eggs mate, and no harm is done there, so why bother.” Stan shrugged.

“Then I think you should let my friend enjoy his meat, since he doesn’t comment on you consuming the product of animal rape and calling it harmless.” Harry frowned and went back to his plate while Stan stayed agape.

“What’s your problem ?” Louis scowled, and no, that wasn’t what Harry had imagined his first words to be.

“I don’t have a problem. He, however, shouldn’t call himself an animal defender to excuse being rude to my friend, especially if he himself only does half the job.” Harry didn’t care that much about starting a debate, but he had just found a way to keep Stan quiet, and was glad because he was just talking too much and pissing him off being so damn close to Louis.

“It’s okay, dear.” Stan dared squeezing the back of Louis’ neck and Harry saw red, and maybe that lamb would have some company pretty soon.

Louis looked extremely uneasy, shifting position in his seat to get more distance and never looking up at Harry across the table.

“Anyway…” Niall decided to jump in the almost disaster. “I like your hair dye Lottie…” He sounded like he hadn’t meant to say this, like he was thinking about common chit chats but then had to say what had been on his mind the whole day.

“Oh, thanks…” Lottie started blushing just as much as Niall and, even if Harry was about to ignore them and talk, he could still hear his sister and his best friend shamelessly flirt without even noticing.

“Are you guys dating ?” Harry asked casually, wanting to know why this guy was allowed to call Louis his ‘dear’ and rub his neck.

“I was thinking about dying it black…but I don’t know.” Niall says to Lottie.

“Not that it concerns you…but-“ Stan started.

“Yes.” Louis quickly took over, and Harry felt it the worst way. That…he couldn’t really swallow.

“I’m not sure if you can call that dating.” Stan chuckled. “Maybe, like, having fun, yeah…”

“I think blond would suit you better.” Lottie smiled.

“Planning on having fun tonight then ?” Harry asked, pulling a straight face as he looked at Louis, waiting for the universe to hurt him even more.

“I don’t know, depends on Luigi !” Stan smirked towards Louis. The latter was looking at Harry straight in the eyes, daring him to say something.

“Oh. And what has Luigi decided ?”

The tension rose faster then Harry could have expected. They’re fixing each other for more than two seconds for the first time, and Harry is daring Louis to answer while Louis is daring him to react.

“I don’t think it concerns you, mate.” Stan raised huffed.

“You’re right…It fucking doesn’t.” Harry spat and threw his cutlery on the table before walking outside, anger taking over him like a fire spreading in a dry forest.

He practically runs to his room to lock himself in and never come out again, never face anyone until he can no longer feel anything anymore, staying away from everything reminding him how much he’s hurting right now.

He can feel tears building up and rip his chest. He can hear is heart beating in his head, and can see pain in his eyes as he climbs the stairs two steps at a time.

He runs into a few guests but ignore them calling for him, ignore them as they become part of the walls when Harry runs between them to get to a place where he’s alone and safe from all the broken around him, far from everything God gave him only to take far away.

“Harry !” He can hear Louis running after him, and he’s convinced he’s just imagining it, convinced his mind finally turned against him as well. “Harry stop !”

He keeps walking towards his room, but he’s suddenly pulled in a small corridor and pushed against the wall. He’s crying and he knows his face is red and veins are swollen all over, but he can’t bring himself to open his eyes. He can’t bring himself to look at the reason he’s falling apart, can’t look at the one thing he had and lost, the one thing he wants more than anything, but can't have.

“Harry !” Louis closes his fists on the collar of Harry’s creamy white shirt, shaking him against the wall to make him open his eyes and talk.

“Go away !” Harry shouts, sobs choking the words.

Louis doesn’t say anything back and just drags Harry behind them before closing a door and locking it, hearing a few guests walking around near them.

Harry finally opens his eyes to see they’re in a sort of spacious closet with all the extra supplies of pillows, blankets, cashews and other commodities. There’s a dim light from a bulb above them, and the carpet somehow smells like a Sunday roast. Shelves are covering the walls all around and a few trays are hidden in the corner.

“What do you want to tell me ?!” Harry cries. “You don’t need my permission to go fuck this twat !”

“I don’t want to fuck him !” Louis says in disbelief, as if it were the most absurd idea Harry could come up with.

“Then why did you bring him ?! Why did you bring a fucking date if not to ‘have fun’ ?!”

“He’s not my date ! That’s the guy-“ Louis stops to bite his lip, probably trying to not say the wrong thing. “We’ve been friends since the second year of uni…” He lowers his voice.

“Oh wow, even better.” Harry chuckles, but he’s far from being amused. “So you go to weddings with your fuck buddy ?”

“We’re just friends now.”

“Then why the fuck would you say you were dating ?!” Harry goes back to shouting, even more upset that Louis would try to just hurt him.

“Because…I don’t know ! I just wanted to get to you somehow…I don’t know !” Louis is walking back with his face in his hands, surely even more confused by himself than Harry.

“Well, you got what you wanted. Are you happy now ?”

“Happy ?” Louis looks up with a frown. “You think hurting you would make me happy ?!”

“You tell me ! Isn’t that what you’ve been trying to do all day ?!” Harry is starting to feel dizzy with all the rage storming inside of him.

“Isn’t that what you’ve been trying to do all week ?!” Louis yells back, making Harry stay silent.

“One day, it’s ‘forget about them’ and then the other it’s ‘forget about us’. And I can’t keep going like this ! I tell myself that you’re right, I look at my mom and tell myself I can’t do that to her…but then I look at myself, Harry ! I look at myself, and I’m asking…but what about me ?!” Louis’ eyes are starting to water and Harry is unable to say one word and risk breaking him.

“For the first time, I asked myself why should I always be the one hurting to make others happy, why should I be the one putting my feelings aside, suck it up and let everyone else enjoy their lives while I’m dying on the inside ! I love my mom, and I love my sister, but who’s the one to love me ?!” Louis’ lips are trembling. He’s punching his own chest as if to make his heart stop beating so loud, and he’s never looked so vulnerable, sincere, and broken.

“I don’t want to pretend, Harry. I don’t want to pretend none of it happened. I don’t want to forget the best memories I’ve ever had. I can’t forget all the things we said to each other, and all the things we did. And I don’t care if it makes me selfish, I don’t care if it makes me look like the bad guy, I can’t pretend that-”

“Please don’t say it…” Harry sobs, shaking his head as he begs Louis to not say the words that’d hurt him even more.

Louis takes a few steps closer to him, forcing him to walk back until he’s standing against the closet wall. He doesn’t want to hear it, doesn’t want to have the memory of what it sounds like, doesn’t want to have that memory crushed when he’ll step outside.

“No. I will.” Louis walks even closer, barely leaving a gap between their faces. “I won’t shut up. Because I can’t pretend that…” He takes a deep breath and squints his eyes before looking straight into Harry’s eyes. “I can’t pretend that I’m not completely in love with you.”

Harry’s cheek are too hot, his chest feels too tight, and he’s incapable of doing anything. Louis’ staring at him and waiting for him to just say something back, anything, just something instead of looking at him like this, lips sealed and expression unreadable.

“It was established that, we live in a temporal dimension pointing towards the expansion of the universe.” Harry starts as Louis frowns with a quizzical look. “As the universe expands, what we call the arrow of time only goes one way. The state of disorder can therefore only increase and so…if you drop a bowl and it shatters on the floor, the pieces won’t come back together. It won’t be in order again.”

Anyone would have either run out that closet or punched Harry in the face for choosing this moment to talk about science, but Louis didn’t. Instead, he took a step back, and listened, determined to hear everything till the end.

“Whether the universe started in a state of high order, or complete disorder…everything seems to lead to chaos as time goes forward. And, we observed that, it is more likely for disorders to increase when the starting point is in perfect order, since, you know, there’re more chances to mess up than to get it right when you start with perfection. And, because we can only remember the past and not the future, there really is no way to assure that order will reappear after the chaos.”

Harry takes a breath and steps closer to Louis. He brings his hands to take his face between them, and rubs a thumb on his cheek as he looks right into his eyes.

“What I’m trying to say is that, I don’t know the future, and, I’m not the best at dealing with the past, but…I know that, no matter how fucked up it may seem for others, how much of a disaster it might be for everyone else…To me, you’re the only chaos that brought the broken pieces of my heart back together.”

Harry leans closer to Louis’ face and tries hard not to sob the next words.

“And if I can’t do it here…then I’ll take you to the Moon…and I’ll scream to the universe just how much I love you.”

Louis has parted his lips and widened his eyes, and Harry’s not too sure if he’s breathing or dying. He leans in anyway, erasing the painful gap between them to press their lips together, and proves Stephen Hawking wrong when he shows that a disordered state is not the only possible condition towards the expansion of the universe.

He takes his time kissing Louis as if it were the first time. He only strokes his lips and inhales the perfume of daisies he thought he’d never be able to drown in again. He gets closer so their chests collide and he does no longer need to pretend they don’t share one heart.

Louis brings his fingertips to Harry’s chin and kisses him back like he never had. He slowly stands on his tip toes and gives the best peck he’s ever given, barely applying any pressure as he brushes his lips against Harry’s.

The latter pulls him gently even closer by his hips, and slides his thumbs under his jumper and white tee underneath to feel his skin burning, giving him goosebumps as he slow dances with Louis’ tongue.

He runs his fingers higher, feeling Louis’ sides up to his ribs, until the latter lifts his arms so Harry can take the clothes off.

They start kissing again in silence, slower than they ever had, softer than they’d ever been.

Louis takes a lifetime to unbutton Harry’s shirt, delicately sliding it off his back so it flies to the floor. He drags his fingers along Harry’s torso, just stroking with a light touch only to go back up behind his neck.

He rubs small circles there as their mouth move in sync, and twirls a few curls around his finger, enjoying the way Harry rests his hands over his to feel him play with it.

When their hands move to their sides, Louis lowers himself to reach Harry’s neck, only to kiss him gently before doing the same all the way along his collarbones. He lets his hands wander on his chest and flow to the waistband of his jeans like drops of water slowly streaming down his skin.

He undoes Harry’s belt and unbuttons his pants, unzipping the crotch cautiously before sliding the jeans down when Harry steps out of his shoes.

Harry mimics Louis and kisses his neck, takes an eternity to explore his collarbones, and brushes his large hands on Louis’ waist before unbuttoning his white pants and hanging them on the edge of the shelf next to them once he takes his shoes off.

They then come back closer and start breathing heavily as they palm each other, hands light and confident whilst caressing each other over their boxers, and kissing as slowly as they possibly can.

When Louis pulls away, Harry feels every parts of him fight their way back to him. It’s like there’s not a cell in him trying to hold him back anymore, there’s not a single reason for him to keep his distance, and not a single wish that it’d be any different.

Louis grabs a comforter behind them and drops it to the floor before taking one pillow and let it land on the blanket. He then tends a hand with a soft smile, and Harry lets him bring them to the floor, lying on the clean sheet in the incredibly warm closet.

They keep kissing and caressing each other as if they’re only now discovering every corner of their bodies. They’re swaying against the white cover and breathing in each other, and it feels like it’s the vey first time they’ve touched.

Louis is lying on top of Harry between his legs, and both are jerking each other off as carefully as they can manage. They’re both hard and moaning between each other’s lips, and the room might be hot, they’re skin are only burning when they come in contact.

“I don’t have any…um…” Harry tries to speak but he’s a bit overwhelmed by Louis’ thumb on the tip of his cock.

He watches as Louis turns around and scans the shelves, until his eyes land on a carton box on his right with ‘Cupboard Supplies’ written on it. He pulls it off the shelf to the floor, not leaving the gap between Harry’s raised knees.

“Knew it.” He mutters as he seems to choose something before getting out a small net bag with roses on it. “They usually put it in the wedding suites.”

Louis takes out a bottle of lube and a condom, but frowns.

“It won’t fit…” He sighs, taking the lube to put it beside him before looking again in the box to find the right size.

“Hey…” Harry whispers, making Louis turn around to face him. “You don’t have to…”

“You sure ?”

“I love you, and I trust you, and I want to feel every part of you.” Harry says and Louis has the same look he had when he was talking about the arrow of time. He nods anyway, looking slightly nervous, and grabs the purple bottle to make things easier for him, and it seems very helpful right now, because Louis is definitely panicking.

“Lou ?” Harry can see him shaking and taking deep breaths as he settles back closer to him, and he looks so stressed out Harry fears he’s about to faint. “Mon coeur ?”

“I’m fine, I’m fine it’s just…No one’s ever trusted me like this so…just give me a sec.”

Harry smiles in adoration as Louis gives himself a pep talk. He looks adorably determined to make this right, and it warms Harry’s heart just a little bit more.

There was a time Harry thought the only way for him to reach highs was through rough thrusts and brutal tugs. There was a time when he thought someone had to pain him enough to please him.

But when Louis gently guides himself between his legs, and when he lies on top of him as carefully as a flower touching the grass, and when he places his elbows on each side of his head to look at him as he thrusts slowly and in the most caring way possible, swaying his hips to make sure Harry feels every inches…well, maybe Harry redefines how he actually likes it.

Louis tilts his head down to kiss him and, it might just be open mouths brushing against each other, it’s all he needs to tingle his insides. That, and the feeling of Louis’ cock gradually reaching his prostate the deeper it gets.

He digs his fingers in Louis’ back and wraps his legs around his waist when he speeds up slightly, moaning in Harry’s ear, sound echoing in his brain and getting him higher than he had ever been before.

He would have been flying on a cloud already, but then Louis starts stroking his leaking cock and stares at him as he does, keeping his lips parted to let out every sounds and every breaths.

As he does, he pushes Harry’s hair back with his free hand and keeps massaging lightly, whimpering louder as he hits Harry’s prostate in one firm thrust.

He keeps going like that for a while, making it last as he drags a delicate hand along Harry’s thigh around his hip, and kisses the tip of his nose and his plump lips curled in a heart shape, showing Harry what it means to be treated as an actual treasure and not a property.

It only takes a short while before Harry starts to feel Louis drip inside of him, and the look on his face when he tilts his head back with his fluttering eyelashes is all he needs to cum in his hand.

They try calming down enough to talk, but neither of them can even breathe properly. Louis straightened up to grab a towel, and was still panting when he cleaned the both of them before lying on the comforter and pulling Harry against his side.

Harry is glad to curl up against him, and smiles at the idea of falling asleep the only way he ever wants to: resting on Louis’ chest to hear how loud his heart is beating for him, a hand in his hair, and the words he’d never thought he’d hear whispered in his ear.

“I love you, baby.”

 

 

*****

 

 

When Harry wakes up, he’s about as lost as he could possibly be.

He’s still clinging on Louis, both of them lying naked in the middle of an extra pillows and mini bar cashews closet in the hotel their entire family is staying at.

He gets up to stretch - since sleeping on the floor, even covered by a thick blanket, doesn’t equal the comfortable bed waiting for him at the end of the hallway – and grabs his jeans to get his phone in the back pocket to check the time.

“Fuck !” He exclaims and does his best to wake Louis up before they miss the wedding. “Lou ! Wake up ! It’s almost eight !”

“Hmmm…” Louis groans and turns around to bury his head in the pillow.

Harry stands up and gathers their clothes, throwing Louis’ white denims and tops at him and desperately looking for the sock that somehow escaped under a shelf.

The wedding is at ten. They have to get ready, join everyone, and drive all the way to the church. And Harry’s glad he had insisted to not be the best man and let Des’ brothers have a go, because there was no way he was going to look presentable enough to be looked at for hours.

When Harry’s dressed and Louis is still snoring, he grabs a bottle of water from the tray in the back and pours enough to make Louis gasp and sit up immediately.

“Wedding in two hours. Get up !”

“That is no way to start the morning…” Louis pouts but stands up to get dressed anyway, yawning and rubbing his tummy as he slides into his moccasins, without a care in the world, as if they weren’t about to miss their parents’ wedding.

They’re ready to go and right behind the door before Harry turns around, pecks Louis’ lips and tells him he loves him before opening the door and rushing through the hallway, both of them running in opposite directions to get to their room.

“Harry ! Finally ! Where the fuck where you ?!” Gemma shouts, hanging up the phone Harry reckons was about to make his mobile ring.

“I was…um…”

“I don’t care ! We don’t have time for this ! Go get ready ! Now !” She hurries him, entirely dressed up and ready to go when she walks outside the room.

Harry doesn’t waste anymore second and runs to the bathroom to take a shower. He has to focus not to spend hours in there, so he pushes back all the thoughts he’d normally take his time to analyze underwater, and dries himself off before styling his hair.

He gets dressed, getting into his navy blue suit with his lilac silk pocket square. He grabs his dress shoes and goes to sit on the bed to put them on, combing his hair one last time before checking the result in the mirror and going to Niall’s room.

He sees him, Stan and Gemma already heading downstairs, so he stops at another room instead.

“I’m ready !” Louis yells, even though he’s only half dressed when he opens the door to Harry.

“Louis ! The car is about to leave ! We have to go, now !”

“I’m ready, I’m ready !” Louis scurries around the room and takes his shoes in one hand before walking outside, stopping at any mirror to check his quiff.

“You look gorgeous…” Harry whispers when he stops at one more mirror. He stands behind him and kisses his the side of his head before walking towards the stairs again.

“Harry ?”

“Hmm ?”

“How far away is the Moon ?”Louis asks as they run in the hallway.

“Well, the average distance from the centre of the Earth to the Moon is 384 400 kilometres, but it does vary with the orbit of-“ Harry answers but stops when he senses that might have been a rhetorical question.

“Quite far then, alright…”.

“It is…But it’s the closest astronomical object and people have been there before…” Harry reminds him as they skip down the stairs.

“Do you think we’d survive for long ?” Louis says when they reach the floor above and he hops on one foot to put a shoe on.

“I mean, the gravitational force might be tricky and the shortage of food and water might be a slight issue…but we can make it work ?” Harry grins and lets Louis lean on him to put the second shoe on.

“Noted.”

They walk into the lobby already empty and nearly jog to the entrance. There’s a line of cars for Jay’s family and another one for the Styles. So when they get to the parking lot, they look at each other one last time before hopping into their respective ride.

On the drive to the church, Harry might have been looking a bit preoccupied, because Gemma takes his hand in hers, and lets him snuggle up to her whilst Niall rubs his knee.

The benches are all decorated with white and lilac flower wreaths and everyone respected the theme, filling the church with soft and pure shades of the brides’ favourite colors.

The children are all sat in their respective row near the altar, apart from Lottie who had been glad to be a bridesmaid. She was wearing the white and lilac dress her mom had chosen, hair half loose and tied at the top with a mini flower knot.

Des was standing there as if it was his very first wedding: nervous, trembling, and ready to fall in his brother’s arms.

Gemma didn’t say anything as she wrapped an arm around Harry as soon as Mendelssohn’s Wedding March made everyone turn. When he did like everyone else, he spotted Louis on the other side. Their eyes locked and they both gave each other a weak smile before turning to watch as Jay walked with her dad down the isle.

They had found a priest willing to remarry them in church despite a slight reluctance until the very end, so she looked a bit stressed out, but Harry imagined this moment should be quite overwhelming with everyone watching you as you’re getting ready to link a part of yourself to someone else.

The ceremony is quite nice, it’s extremely hot and everyone keeps fanning themselves and pretending they’re not melting, but other than that, it’s going well. For the guests at least.

Gemma wasn’t letting go of her brother. She was now holding his hand as the moment they were all waiting for arrived, and he squeezed it so hard she squeaked and whispered to Niall to take over.

Harry’s best friend rested his head on his shoulder and let him dig his nails in his skin, rubbing a thumb as he shed a tear when the priest said the part he wasn’t aware would break him a bit.

Wilt thou have this woman to thy wedded wife, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honour, and keep her, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto her, so long as ye both shall live?”

The priest’s medieval words were resonating and Harry watched as his dad took a deep breath and waited for almost a minute – a bloody excruciating long minute –before nodding and opening his mouth to say the two words a spouse wants to hear. Or almost.

“I can’t.”

The room was suddenly filled with gasps and whispering as Des dropped his head down and replaced the ring in Harry’s little cousin’s hand.

He looked at Jay who, surprisingly, didn’t even flinch. They both nodded to each other and held hands as they turned to face their friends and family.

“We know you’ve all come a long way to see a beautiful wedding, and we’re really sorry that we can’t give you that. We love each other dearly, and we’ve had the best time together, but…” Des looks at Jay as she gives him a soft smile and encourages him to carry on.

Harry doesn’t know what to do. Niall still has both hands on his mouth to hide how wide it is and Gemma shook her head no when Harry looked at her as if to ask if she had anything to do with that.

“…we are friends. We became best friends actually. But standing here in front of God, we can’t keep a lie. We were both in need of someone to rescue us, and we found that person. But we haven’t found the one we truly need more than anything, and we can’t keep pretending. Not after seeing what it means to really love someone.”

When Des is done talking and the priest has already fled to rant, everyone gets up and watches as they walk down the isle, still not married, and with no intention of changing that.

As everyone rushes to get to the cars and go back to the hotel, Harry is scanning the parking lot  to find his dad, in vain. Gemma pulls him into their car so they can go back to the hotel, and he still hasn’t seen Louis since.

The second the car parks, Harry is already flying outside to find him. He doesn’t know if he should find his dad first or Louis, but he’s definitely looking for someone when he runs through the gardens.

The valet had told him he’d seen a bride and a man walk through an alley of dandelions, so Harry didn’t let him explain himself and just started to sprint towards the path.

He found them sitting on a bench facing the lake. They seemed more happy now than at the church, and Harry had to check twice to make sure he was really seeing them having a laugh while everyone else was confused.

“Dad !” Des turned to see his son standing behind them, a bit out of breath after running in a tailored suit.

“Harry…” Jay sighed.

“Mom !” Louis shouted from behind him, and he turned for a split second to see him as confused and shocked as he was.

“It’s great that you’re both here…” Des cleared his throat.

“Louis !” Lottie arrived right after, followed by Gemma, Niall and Des’ brother Simon.

“And now everyone’s here okay um…Please calm down.” Jay chuckles, very peaceful for a bride who just escaped a church.

“What happened in there Desmond ?!” Harry’s uncle looks more concerned than angry to be having the worst first best man experience.

“Look, as we said, we love each other…just not the way we thought we did.” Jay explains.

“And we thought it wasn’t fair to keep up a lie just to not be lonely. Because we’d…because it meant we’d be ruining a genuine love love.” Des adds.

“What are you talking about ?” Simon asks, looking as lost as ever. He wasn’t the brightest of the siblings, so this situation really didn’t help.

Harry doesn’t dare looking at Louis. He doesn’t dare turning around and checking if he’s in the same state of half panic, half bliss.

“We’re not blind and dumb you know…” Des scolds. “And we thought you two were just bickering in that room every night. But these walls were paper thin and you clung to each other harder than we ever did.”

When the attention is brought on Harry and Louis, the both of them freeze, incapable of confirming anything until they’re sure they won’t be pushed in that lake.

“We know how much you two love each other. And we tried ignoring it, tried convincing each other it wasn’t what we thought…but then I heard you Louis. I heard you two trying to end things and I heard how hard you were crying when you hung up. And that was the sound a mother wishes to never hear.” Jay says, clearly trying not to sob at the memory of her son crushed on his bed.

“You heard me ?” Louis said with a weak voice. Jay nodded with her reddening eyes and Des rubbed her arm to comfort her as he spoke.

“I don’t know what you two have decided on your own but…we know you love each other, and we know we were an obstacle. And we’re just happy to not be anymore. So whether you want to keep things as they are, or want to be together. We’ll accept it. Yes it’ll be a change but, we both love you as our sons and that won’t change that, I guess ?”

Harry doesn’t know if it’s the idea that there’s finally nothing keeping them apart, or if it’s the fact that both the people they were fearing the most are accepting this, but it’s overwhelming, and it’s just too much not to let tears stream down his cheeks when he turns to look at him.

Louis’ face is red and his cheeks are just as wet. When his eyes meet Harry’s, they both smile, and he steps forward to intertwine their fingers in front of their parents for the first time.

“I’m sorry.” Louis tells his mom. Harry nods as if to say the same thing to both Jay and his dad.

“Do you love each other ?” Jay asks, tears flooding as she holds on to Des’ arms.

Harry and Louis turn to look at each other. And when Harry looks at that boy that made him lose his mind but somehow get it back, and when Louis looks at that boy who saw who he really was and made this hidden side spark, they just nod. It might just be a nod, but it really is what they’ve wanted to do all this time, and it’s a feeling they hadn’t expected to have that day.

“I think I need a drink.” Des’ brother mumbles, and they all laugh, because they’re still the most complicated family out there, but they’re a family nonetheless, and they all love each other…and two of them love each other just a little bit more.

 

*****

 

The wedding reception turns into a regular party. With a lot of white.

Jay and Des celebrate as if they actually got married, cutting the cake and listening to modified toasts, and laughing at the situation as everyone slowly accepts the turn of event.

They even step forward in the reception room and slow dance to their chosen song, which is none other than the classic L.O.V.E by Nat King Cole.

They only dance for a short while before gesturing for everyone to join them.

Harry is leaning against a table, drinking a glass of champagne as he watches his dad embarrass himself in the middle of the room. He can see Niall going to ask Lottie to dance, and smirks to himself when she pulls him towards the dancing couples when he nervously rubs the back of his neck before asking anything.

Gemma is enjoying dancing with their uncle Simon, probably telling him everything he needs to know about what’s happening right now, and he’s just genuinely enjoying the scene in front of him.

“My dear…” Louis appears in front of him with a hand behind his back and another waiting to take his hand. He has his usual soft smile that makes his eyes small and his cheeks pink, and that’s the smile Harry can’t resist, no matter how bad of a dancer he thinks he is.

He bows and sets his drink on the table behind him before letting Louis guide him towards the dance floor.

Louis rests a hand on Harry’s shoulder and another one in his raised hand, and Harry places a hand on Louis’ hip as the other caresses the hand he had taken.

They start swaying to the melody of their childhood movie, words making them blush and turn into shy and giggling messes.

When the song changes to a rendition of John Legend and his All of Me sweetness to the ears, Harry removes his hand from Louis’ to wrap his arms around him and pull him closer. Louis hooks his arms tight around Harry’s neck, making him slouch a bit as they lock their foreheads and close their eyes and slow dance to their feelings in the speakers.

And it’s like the world doesn’t exist anymore.

There’re no more guests, no one dancing but them, no one here but them. So they lean in, and smile, kissing like no one’s watching, kissing like no one can stop them. Because for the first time, no one can.

“Is it the right time to tell you I got a job ?” Louis grins when he pulls away as Heartbeats by José Gonzales starts playing.

“What ?!” Harry beams. “When ? Where ? Is it for The Lowry ?”

“Um…It’s not in Manchester actually…” Louis chuckles, biting his bottom lip to stop from smiling to big. “My agent sent my audition tape for a musical and, well, let’s just say I got the lead role for a new production of Peter Pan...in the Playhouse theatre…you know, near Trafalgar Square ? I mean it's not the Moon but...”

Harry doesn’t say anything. He just shakes his head in disbelief, smiling like a mad man with his teeth out before pulling Louis tight against him, dancing as he enjoys the promises of the future.

As they keep half hugging and half dancing, Harry really does realize how fate likes to mock a bit, because they find themselves slow dancing to Carla Bruni, singing the words she had when Harry had his heart broken.

“Oh, I know that song !” Louis murmurs in Harry’s neck.

“What ? You do ?”

“Yeah, Liam suggested it to me. I love it. I have no clue what it’s about though…Care to translate ?”

“All you need to know is that…I love you still. And that it’s possible.” Harry giggles.

"Um…okay..." Louis frowns but doesn't insist much.

"I'm glad you kicked my legs that day you know…"

"And I may not be that annoyed by the way you always spread your legs…"

"You're such an idiot." Harry chuckles. “Now kiss me, you fool.”

Chapter Text

“I put a coin in. We’re good.” Louis whispered.

Harry nods and steps forward to take a small candle. He carefully transfers another candle’s flame on his to light it up, and then chooses a spot to place it. He takes a step back and breathes in, still wondering what he could say.

Louis must see him struggle, because he slides his hand in his and squeezes gently in silence to remind him he’s not by himself.

Harry had come up with the idea a few days ago.

They had moved in together after finding a new apartment in Harry and Niall’s building, and Harry had been shushed as Louis prayed for only good things to happen and only good people to enter their home, to allow more happiness than misery, and to protect them from all Evil.

He had restarted going to church once in a while with Louis, who went regularly out of habit. He would sit and actually listen to words that he sometimes disagreed with, but that sometimes brought light on a matter he wasn’t aware of.

He would always see a few people walk toward an hidden corner to light a candle. It could be a candle to help them go through the week, a candle to pray for a friend in need, a candle to thank God for their blessings, or a candle for a lost loved one.

Harry hadn’t visited his mom in the cemetery since the funeral, always refusing to remember her as a stone and a bouquet of flowers. He also had never honoured her in any particular way, trying to avoid dealing with her absence over the years.

But then a priest explained to him that, of course he can’t have the confirmation that his mother could hear him, of course it didn’t change the fact that she’s not here anymore, but lighting a candle and speaking with his heart as if she was listening was the best way to lift off a weight he had been carrying for eleven years.

He took one last deep breath before talking in his head. He tried to power through the initial hesitation, and found himself pouring his heart out as he spoke to Anne and felt the weight streaming down his cheeks with each word.

He told her about his studies, told her how he was achieving his dreams even though it seemed impossible sometimes.

He told her how he missed their days together when he was in Nice, and told her how she would have enjoyed the new menu at Le Méridien.

He also told her his dad had met someone, someone he really liked. He told her they were best friends and that she made him extremely happy. He also told her about Judith, the woman he was currently with that seemed lovely.

He asked her to forgive him for not talking to her all this time, forgive him for pretending nothing had happened, and for avoiding looking at the pictures in the frames in the old house. He asked her to forgive him for not always being the best son, and forgive him for having waited over a decade to finally accept that she’s not going to be back.

And then he told her about Louis.

He told her how he had met this nice and funny person that treats him like a prince and always makes sure he’s the happiest in a room. He told her how much he loved everything about him and how much he heals every part of him when he’s around.

When he’s done talking and feels like he’s emptied a big part of what was going on in his head, he bowed slightly, and sniffled one last time before saying goodbye, promising he’d come back every week to visit her and light a candle to keep her updated.

They walk outside the church in silence, holding hands and bumping into each other as they walk the rather empty street.

“My mom said she met someone.” Louis says first.

“Really ?”

“Yeah, his name’s Dan Donin or whatever…He sounds cool…Your dad actually introduced them to each other.”

“Dan Deakin ? I love that guy !” Harry smiles at the thought of Jay being with such a kind and humble man who taught him a lot growing up. He was one of his dad’s childhood friends so he was a bit like an uncle to him.

“She said she’ll take her time with him, make sure he’s right and stuff.” Louis mutters, kicking the few pebbles on their way.

“Are you okay ?” Harry frowns. Louis shrugs and keeps fixing the ground as they walk. “Hey...”

Harry makes them stop to take both Louis’ hands, making him turn to face him. He wraps his arms behind his own back and takes his face between his hands, waiting for him to explain what’s wrong.

“Do you think she’s afraid to trust him because of me ? Because the last time she committed herself I ruined it ?”

“Lou, she’s being careful not to jump into it too fast because of the two men who failed her before my dad. S’not your fault.” Harry says firmly and kisses his forehead.

“I guess…” Louis pouts and keeps an arm around Harry’s waist as they start walking again toward the flat.

When they get to the building, they stop by Niall’s door, one floor above them, like they usually do on weekends. He had been complaining to be by himself ever since Harry moved out, so they made sure to always stop there.

“Lads !” Niall greets them with a three-way hug, living room ready for their Walking Dead night.

They’re getting beers and snacks whilst the show is on pause and settle on the couch: Niall sitting at the end, Louis lying down with his head on Niall’s lap, and Harry lying between Louis’ legs, feet hanging over the armrest.

“When are Lottie and Gemma arriving again ?” Niall asks as if he hadn’t been writing it down in every room.

“Tomorrow at eleven.” Harry smirks.

“Eager to see my sister, are we ?” Louis looks up from his lap to see him turn red.

“No…me ? No, nope…just making conversation.” Niall stutters, biting his finger as he shrugs and frowns three times a second.

“You know if you hurt her I’ll have to kill you, right ?” Louis smiles gently, not matching his threat at all.

“I would never. I’d rather throw myself into a room full of walkers.” Niall mutters.

“Good to know.” Louis stretches an arm to squeeze his cheek like a chubby baby.

“I know Nialler gives a bad boy vibe Lou, but he’s really-“

“Niall the bad boy ? Give it a rest…Niall the church boy more like !” Louis laughs and regrets a bit when Niall hits him with his National Geographic magazine.

“You told him !” Niall scolds Harry.

“He tells me everything. So watch your hands Ireland !” Louis warns.

Harry giggles as he watches them bicker, and taps Louis’ thigh to make him stop so they can finally start watching the episode.

Once they’ve seen enough episodes to make them run away when they hear a sound in the hallway, Harry and Louis leave Niall, and just hope he’ll get to his bed before falling asleep on the couch watching ESPN.

“Do you think Gemma would prefer “Crisp Air” or “Tarte Tatin” ?” Harry shows the two scented candles to Louis as he steps into the guest room.

“I think she’d like the sweetness of the tarte tatin better.” Louis immediately says as he takes the dirty sheet on the floor. He quickly realizes what he just said and drops the sheets with a shocked face. “Oh my god. What have you done to me ?!”

Harry bursts out laughing and sets the chosen candle on the dresser before chasing Louis who escaped the room, knowing Harry would want to hug him for saying that.

They run around the flat giggling until Louis trips over the sock he had left in the kitchen, making the both of them fall and fight on the floor.

Harry straddles Louis’ lap and takes both his wrists in one hand to bring them above his head, thighs tight to make sure the body under him cannot possibly move. Louis is calling for help and cry laughing trying to escape, in vain.

“I surrender ! I surrender !” Louis screams when Harry starts tickling his sides.

“Winning !” Harry chants proudly, waving his fist in victory. But it just makes Louis gasp and take advantage of his loss of focus to pull him under him and start getting his revenge.

They keep fighting and yelling for rescue until they somehow end up without clothes they had to trade for their freedom, wrestling until they’re covering the floor with something nicer than blood.

 

*****

 

 

“When do you start ?” Harry asks Lottie as soon as they’re all sitting in the living room.

She and Gemma had arrived a few minutes ago and Gemma had put her bags in the guest room whilst Lottie visited the flat.

She had graduated high school and was moving into the dorms at her fashion and design school near King’s Cross. She had just celebrated turning eighteen and was looking forward to getting to know the city a bit more with Louis and Harry. Even though they both knew she just wanted to have an excuse to come by the flat and "run into" Niall.

Gemma was helping her moving in and running a few errands before the year started, trying to get over her break up with Evan. He had accepted to take part in a project led by Greenpeace in Australia to protect oceans from overfishing, and had no idea when he’d be back, not wanting to turn down the opportunity. Gemma knew she wouldn’t be flying to Perth every month and couldn’t possibly demand for him to keep up with a long-distance relationship for at least two years, so they agreed on a break.

Louis was still asleep, insisting waking up before noon on holiday was illegal. He had drastically changed his morning habits since being with Harry and going to sleep around three in the morning from chatting and ‘fighting’ too much.

“In two weeks !” Lottie squeaks excitedly.

“Morning everyone !” Louis yawned when he stepped into the living room, only dressed with his sweatpants, scruffy fringe falling in his eyes.

“It’s nearly noon, you sloth !” Gemma remarked but hugged him anyway, followed by Lottie.

Louis made his way to sit on Harry’s lap on the couch and pecked his lips before burying his head in the crook of his neck and resuming his sleep in his arms.

“I can’t believe you got another tattoo…” Lottie shook her head as she spotted a quote inked along Louis’ collarbones.

“He got a bit of an addiction now.” Harry chuckled.

“Your fault.” Louis mumbled in his neck.

They keep catching up until Niall enters the flat. Louis and Harry had given him a spare key in case of an emergency, even though he used it whenever he wanted for any reason, walking in on them so many times that he could actually stay in the room and watch TV while they’re having sex and it’d be normal.

“Young Niall !” Louis exclaimed when Niall gave him his fist to bump, not daring to make him stand up from Harry’s lap.

“How was the flight ?” Niall asked Lottie as he hugged her.

“We actually took the train…” Gemma rolled her eyes, already expecting to never have her hug since Niall was now stuck next to Lottie.

“The flight was great !” Lottie smiled, cheeks turning so red her blush became useless.

“Should we go get some lunch before these two decide to build a nest around them ?” Gemma snorts, just not in the mood with all the love around her while Evan was on a different continent.

They wait for Louis to get ready and head to an Italian restaurant on Oxford Street. It’s not too crowded and their pizzas are the best, so it sort of became their favourite place in the area.

“Should I get the veggie one ?” Harry asks Louis while they all read the menu.

“But then I won’t have the pineapples…” Louis pouts.

“I can always get extra ones ?”

“Fine. I think I’ll get the meat fest one.” Louis decides.

“Oh no, I don’t feel like eating meat today, can you-“ Harry whines before Niall interrupts.

“Lads. We’re not going through this again. Louis you’ll get the Hawaiian with extra cherry tomatoes and Harry you’ll get the vegetarian with extra pineapple. Now let’s order before I spend over an hour starving while you decide what pizza you’ll steal from each other !”

Louis and Harry look offended, but don’t argue. They all order their food and don’t wait too long before they’re all moaning and grunting at how perfect it tastes.

“So what are we doing after this ?” Lottie asks, mouth full and tomato sauce on her chin.

Niall laughs and gestures for her to check her chin, making her nearly wipe her entire make up to get the stain off.

“I wanted to go shopping. I need new jeans.” Gemma raises her hand.

“I do too actually.” Harry agrees.

“You’ve got a whole closet full of jeans, baby.” Louis frowns.

“Yes, but not white ones. I need white ones.” Harry insists as he leans to grab a slice of Louis’ pizza.

“I could use new clothes before the year start !” Lottie says happily.

They finish eating and ask for the bill before Louis and Harry decide to scar everyone by ordering desserts they’ll most probably eat out of each other’s tongues, and head to the first shop.

Gemma is going through a few pairs of black denims when she spots Harry doing the same next to her.

“Harry, this is the women section.”

“I am aware. But the men section only has baggy pants and I need to show off my gym membership.” Harry mumbles as he checks the sizes on the rack.

“Where’s Louis ?” Gemma doesn’t even try to argue.

“Sitting with Niall near the fitting rooms…What do you think of this ?” Harry waves a pair of creamy white denims.

“Not the right color.” Gemma shakes her head before going over Harry’s side to choose for him. “There. These look good. And they’re ultra skinny, so don’t even try to check how tight they are.”

“Mmh…I’ll try them.” Harry purses his lips and takes the bottoms from his sister before looking at the black ones.

“Hey, are you alright ? With the whole Evan thing I mean ?” He asks after a brief pause;

“I do miss him, but I’m doing better than I thought I would to be honest.” Gemma shrugs.

“Oh. Okay…” Harry frowns and starts to walk to the fitting room with his three pairs of pants, but turns around. “Please tell me if you don’t want us to be too close or something, I don’t want to make things worse.”

“Are you kidding ? You can finally be open about it, don’t hold yourself back for me, kiddo !” Gemma chuckles, making Harry smile before joining Louis and Niall.

“Made your choice, love ?” Louis asks, resting his head on Niall’s shoulder as the latter holds the phone they’re watching a football match on.

“Not yet. I’ll try them first. Can you guys stay here so I can show you ?”

“Of course.” Louis blows a kiss and goes back to the game.

Harry chooses a fitting room close to them and waves at Lottie when she steps into one at the same time.

He slips into the black jeans first, ripped at the knee and exposing a bulge a bit, but comfortable and nicely fitted. He steps out and twirls for Niall, Louis and now Gemma who’s given up on her quest.

Niall pouts while Louis scrunches his nose and Gemma shakes her head no. Harry grunts and goes back behind the curtain to change, trying out the dark blue jeans before stepping outside again.

This time, he gets an ‘hmm’, an ‘eh’ and a ‘not sure’. He stomps his way to the last piece of clothing and doesn’t hide his annoyance when he joins them again. Lottie walks out at the same time, and they find themselves wearing the same pair of pants to get a verdict.

As soon as Harry walks out, Louis’ mouth is unable to close again and he can’t stop scanning Harry’s thighs.

The ultra white bottoms are in fact ultra skinny and doesn’t leave much to imagination. It’s a low waist cut that gives the impression of an absence of underwear and the choking noises when Harry lifts his shirt a bit to check his bum makes him turn around, giggling as Louis drools over the way the leaves tattooed on his hips are falling right above the waistband.

“These. Get these. They’re the ones.” Louis mutters, nodding with his mouth still open.

“This is way too tight.” Niall shakes his head in disapproval whilst Gemma fights herself not to ask Harry for leg work outs.

“Oh my god you look so good ! I feel like a marshmallow next to you !” Lottie complains.

“Stop that, you look great in them !” Harry frowns.

“Yeah, you look beautiful Lottie…” Niall mutters. He gets punched in the ribs by Louis quickly after.

“Hey ! Keep your eyes above the neck !”

“It looks good with your shirt, baby. You should keep them.” Louis winks. Harry looks ecstatic and skips to the fitting room to get the tag out and pay for the jeans before they all walk out to the next shop.

By the time they reach the fourth one, Gemma is struggling to walk with her bags, Niall is struggling to walk with Lottie’s bags, Harry is struggling to walk with his tight pants, and Louis is just struggling to walk.

Harry in tight jeans is already something. Make them ultra white and ultra skinny and you get a sweaty Louis unable to not keep a hand on Harry’s arse, not even able to fit it into the pocket painted on him.

He’s closer than usual, more protective and makes sure he’s always securing Harry’s hips away from everyone, and that’s just plain funny to Harry who can see him turn red when someone checks him out.

“Your jealous is showing Lou.” Harry giggles when they’re leaning near the cashiers, waiting for Lottie and Gemma to pay for the shoes they just got.

Louis is facing the shop whilst Harry is turned around, standing on one leg with his arms crossed on the counter. He keeps eyeing Louis who’s pulling his ‘if you look at my boyfriend you’re dead’ face, and it’s honestly Harry’s favourite because it means he gets the angry side of him that's extra affectionate.

“I don’t care. That guy’s been looking at you since we got here. I don’t like that.” Louis snorts.

“Are you mad I got those pants ?” Harry asks with a sad voice.

“What ? Of course not. I told you to keep them on, I obviously like them.” Louis shakes his head but still doesn’t face Harry. “I’m just not enjoying the fact that other people seem to like them just as much.”

“But they don’t get to take them off later…” Harry whispers, using his baby voice he knows does things to Louis.

Louis finally turns to smirk and places a hand on Harry’s hip to tip toe his way to his lips, pecking them before leaning back against the counter. Harry’s having a bit too much fun with the jealousy though, so he buries his head into his crossed arms, and watches Louis with one eye and a subjective look.

“What ?” Louis raises a brow.

“Nothing.” Harry chuckles and straightens his back when the girls and Niall come back. There really was nothing. Harry was just enjoying how Louis was ready to make sure everyone knew he was his boyfriend when all he knew was how to be a guarded property, isolated by orders instead of caring hands and loving words.

They keep walking down the street to Hyde Park and Harry is pleased when Louis easily slips his hand into his and doesn’t drop it until they get to the flat.

“Niall wanted to show me something, so I’ll see you guys later ? I’ll head back to the dorms right after…” Lottie says nervously.

“Okay…” Louis pretends to chew gum to look menacing and walks away whilst muttering “I put a baby monitor in the flat so don’t even dare doing anything !”. They can hear Niall and Lottie groan and they all start laughing as they climb the stairs.

“I’m exhausted ! I’ll leave you two, I just want my bed !” Gemma whines as she hugs Louis and Harry and goes to her room, dragging all of her bags before closing the door.

Harry takes off his boots before unbuttoning his shirt on his way to the couch. He knows Louis will insist on watching football, the parts he missed while they were shopping anyway, so he hangs his loose yellow top on a chair and falls on the couch, feet resting on the coffee table as he goes through his phone.

Louis does the same and takes off his shoes, shirt, and hops to the bedroom to get a pair of black sweatpants before coming back and turning the TV on to watch the rest of the match he had recorded. He sits close next to Harry, slouching a bit with his feet crossed on the floor.

When Harry’s done checking every possible social media and email to keep himself busy while Louis’ shouting at the screen, he realizes how uncomfortable the white pants are getting and stands up to get them off. He immediately feels a hand on his thigh though, making him turn to see Louis pouting.

“Keep them…For me ?” Louis whines.

Harry rolls his eyes but gives up trying to argue when Louis pulls him onto his lap, finding out the term “stretchy” was not mentioned as a lie on the tag. Louis pulls him closer with his hands glued to his arse and welcomes the kisses and light bites on his neck.

“You fucking idiot !” Louis suddenly yells, waving a hand at the team he’s supporting. “This is the worst match I’ve ever seen. This is bullshit.”

“Can I make it better ?” Harry whispers in Louis’ neck.

“Unless you go over there and make a goal, I’m not sure you can-“ Louis starts but chokes the last words when Harry slides a hand between them, palming him as he sucks on his neck.

“What ?”

“This is…an…important…game…baby…” Louis breathes as Harry caresses his covered cock.

“Hm…hm…” Harry nods but keeps rubbing him and kissing him as Louis keeps his eyes on the screen.

His eyes flutter a bit but he stays half focused on the game as Harry brings his sweatpants lower to take his semi in hand. Louis squeezes his thighs and kisses him back, but doesn’t miss one bit of the match.

“More important than me ?” Harry whines but keeps jerking Louis off as he watches the telly.

“No…but important enough to not make me miss the final score.” Louis moans, too serious and not flustered enough to Harry’s taste.

Harry climbs off his lap to kneel down between his legs and makes Louis curse when he takes him in his mouth, having a bit too much fun trying to see how far Louis’ love for football goes.

“Fuck ! Harry don’t-“

Louis might be protesting with his words, his hand is gently guiding Harry between his legs, breathing heavily as he sucks him off slowly. Harry looks up to see Louis struggling to watch the match and smiles around his cock, hollowing his cheeks and praying he doesn’t stain his new jeans.

Louis’ moans are echoing in the room, blended with the cheers coming from the speakers and Harry’s groans whenever Louis makes a comment on the game and thrusts up absentmindedly.

Uhmmh…Harry don’t do that !” Louis shouts, slightly panting. Harry immediately stops, thinking he’s hurt him somehow, but takes one look at the screen to see Louis’ just talking about Harry Kane. “Not you baby…please keep going…”

Harry is pleased by Louis’ begging voice and goes back to sucking him until he feels Louis on the edge, hand getting rougher in his hair as he arches his back and tilts his head back.

“Fuck yes ! Yes Harry ! Yes !” Louis screams and moans and Harry’s not too sure who he’s talking about because he’s coming in his mouth at the same time the team wins and it’s very confusing but he figures he shouldn’t ask.

He licks around his mouth and stands up, glad Louis looks a bit overwhelmed with his eyes closed on the couch. He giggles and kisses his the tip of his nose before undoing his pants to go to bed.

Louis joins him moments after and they fall asleep after an hour of discussing who he really cheered for on that couch.

 

 

*****

 

 

“Morning !” Harry chants when he sees Gemma enter the kitchen while he’s making French toasts.

“Morning Harry Kane…” Gemma giggles.

“You heard us ?!”

“I know I said you shouldn’t hold yourself back for me…but I take it back, weirdo.” Gemma cringes and grabs a handful of blueberries on the table.

“He was cheering for me !” Harry insists, pointing at himself with the spatula.

“I do not want to know the details of that.” Gemma winces and helps setting up the table while Louis is still asleep.

“Did dad call you ?” Harry asks after a while.

“For what ?”

“I wanted to talk to you about it but since I asked him first I figured he’d mention it…” Harry flips over a toast in the pan before turning to face his sister. “I wanted to see if we could have like a mass for mom on the anniversary of her d-“

“No.” Gemma quickly answers.

“But none of us have been visiting or doing anything to make sure she knows we think about her Gems.”

“She’s not here, she can’t hear us and a mass won’t change any of that.”

“No, but it can help us move on. I’ve been going to church and I lit a candle for her and-“ Harry tries his best to be calm and convincing, but he sort of knew his sister would be against that idea. They had all turned against God when Anne passed away, and if Louis and Jay had managed to talk to Harry and his dad about rethinking their reluctance, Gemma was nowhere near that stage.

“Since when do you go to church and light candles that don’t smell like pastries ?” Gemma chuckles with a mocking tone. “Just because you’re dating someone delusional doesn’t mean you have to become like them !”

“I know you don’t want to, I was the same, but it really helped…It’s like I’m feeling her in the room when I pray and I know she can hear me somehow.”

“When you pray ?” Gemma frowns. “Call me when you remember how the one you’re praying to fucked us over, because I’m not talking with you about this anymore.” She says firmly and Harry just knows this means the conversation is over.

“Hi Gems !” Louis walks towards Harry’s sister to hug her, but the coldness of the embrace makes him check if she’s alright. “Something going on ?”

“Apart from the fact that you lied to my brother ? No. Not much.”

“Gemma, please.” Harry scolds her sister for being rude to Louis, and puts the last French toast on a plate before taking his apron off and walking towards her. “You could come with us for the candle part tonight so you can see what I mean.”

“I don’t need to light a fucking plastic candle and talk to myself to know my mother’s not here Harry !” Gemma snaps. “I have to meet up with Lottie. I’ll call you when I’m done.” She storms out and slams the door on her way before Harry and Louis remind her Lottie’s supposed to spend the day with Niall.

“What was that about ?” Louis widens his eyes as he sits on the stool next to him. Harry gives him a plate with the fresh toasts and berries and gets the chocolate sauce bottle before sitting down next to him with his own serving.

“She doesn’t want the mass I wanted for my mom.”

“Oh.”

“I hope she changes her mind. My dad is coming and I’d really want her to be there…” Harry fidgets with his breakfast but doesn’t eat it. His throat feels too tight and he just lost his appetite.

“I’m sure she will. Don’t worry baby, I’ll try talking to her.” Louis rubs Harry’s back as he starts crying and sets the breakfast aside to console him in his arms.

They had planned on a night out tonight. They would spend the day going through the papers for the joined bank account they wanted to open, have lunch around Harry’s researches on temporal dimensions, and go over Louis’ schedule for the shows starting in a month, watching his previous performances to see what to improve.

When the night fell, they still had no news from Gemma. She didn’t call, didn’t text, didn’t come back for the whole day. Lottie told Louis she was coming with them at night though, so they didn’t stay home to wait for her.

Niall had a friend who was having a gig at a small venue, so they decided to take full advantage of the free entries to have fun before the busy year started.

“He’s pretty good !” Louis shouted over the music to Niall. The latter laughed – because when is he not laughing anyway – and hooked his arm around Louis’ shoulder as he waved his beer in the air and danced, swaying them to the indie sort of song deafening them.

Harry had made sure Lottie was with them before going to the bar. Gemma had told a few of her friends to come along so she was having fun with them somewhere, avoiding talking to both Harry and Louis all night.

“Hi, two cans of pale ale please !” Harry asked to the bartender who smiled and rushed to get him his drinks.

Harry turned around as he waited, watching Niall’s friend perform and enjoy himself as his best friend and boyfriend cheered and danced together. They had become friends quickly and Harry was glad Louis was treating him like his own little brother.

“Harry ? Didn’t expect to see you here !” A familiar voice called from the side and Harry had never wanted to disappear in a cloud of smoke more.

“Jeff…” He didn’t turn to sigh and mentally curse at his ex boyfriend, if that even was one.

“How have you been ?” Jeff smiles as if they had ended their relationship on good terms and were just two old friends reunited.

“Great.” Harry grunted.

“Doesn’t sound like it…” Jeff chuckles. “Are you alone tonight ?”

“No.” Harry simply answered, still not looking at the guy who broke his heart and never apologized for it.

“Really ? That’s too bad…I’ve always enjoyed reminiscing you know…” Harry finally turns to frown at the sight of the jerk of all jerks, looking like an alcoholic piece of trash trying to flirt.

“Me too. But only over good memories, not mistakes.” Harry looked him up and down before rolling his eyes.

“Oh oh, being bold tonight ? I don’t remember you this brave when we were together.” Jeff laughs and walks closer, and Harry is wondering how long it takes to get two beer cans out of a fridge.

“And I don’t remember you drowning in alcohol, but I guess everyone changes.” Harry turns to finally get his cans and starts to walk away, but Jeff grips his arm to stop him.

“I deserved that I guess. But don’t tell me you don’t love me anymore. I thought I was your first love or some crap ? You’re not supposed to treat your first love like that.” Jeff is clearly laughing at him and it just makes it so much easier.

“I did think I was in love with you. But then I found someone I actually fell in love with and realized I just needed your dick, not your heart.” Harry nearly spat before walking away.

He lets a heavy sigh out when he doesn’t feel anyone stopping him this time and joins Louis with his hands shaking a bit.

“You’re alright, love ?” Louis smiles as he takes one of the beers.

“Um…yeah…” Harry frowns, not too sure of what happened. Louis wraps an arm around his waist to get him closer and pulls him down with a finger on his cheek to kiss him.

“So that’s what you replaced me with ?” Jeff erupts from behind, stumbling as he giggles the words.

“And who the fuck are you ?” Louis asks witheringly, keeping Harry close to his side.

“I’m going to be his boyfriend again.” Jeff huffs. “So you can move along pal. He’s mine !”

Louis turns to see Harry slightly frightened, a face he had never seen before. Harry’s always been too scared to stand up around Jeff. He’s always been manipulative and intimidating, and could do anything he wanted as long as he said the right things to confuse him. Tonight, all the flashbacks of the endless nights of waiting for him and not daring to ask where he was when he’d show up were surfacing.

“You’re clearly as stupid as I’ve heard so move along while no one’s paying attention to you humiliating yourself.” Louis says calmly, still holding on to Harry to protect him like a shield.

Niall joins them and curses on a roll as soon as he recognizes Jeff, asking him to get out or he will call the security. Jeff doesn’t move though, determined to ruin everybody’s night.

“He loves me. I screwed up, I know that Harry. I’m sorry. I want you back, I won’t do it again.” Jeff is almost getting on his knees, eyes freakishly red and legs tangled to keep him straight.

“You’re too late pal, so why don’t you get your arse out of here ?! You had a chance and you fucked up you fucking loser ! You messed it up and now you look like trash because that’s what you get for treating people who care about you like shit !” Louis yells and keeps Harry behind his back as he challenges Jeff to say one more word or save himself.

“You have a big mouth for someone so little…” Jeff laughs.

“And you have a lot of courage for someone full of shit.”

“You know what…he’s yours.” Jeff raises his arms in defeat. He’s about to leave but turns around to mutter one last thing. “I’d rather be full of shit than fuck this needy bitch again…”

“What the fuck did you just say ?!” Louis looses it and drops his beer can to get to Jeff, fist rising as he gets closer.

He’s about to hit him, but Harry walks in front of him and pulls Jeff’s shoulder back, not letting him fully comprehend what’s happening when he punches his nose with his three rings and kicks him in the crotch, making him fall on the floor and cry for his broken nose and crushed penis.

They leave him cry for help on the ground as everyone records the whole thing without helping him, and figure they’ve had enough payback for the night. Lottie and Niall had planned on hanging out longer so they head to Niall’s friend’s house for the after party, and Gemma is still out of sight.

“You didn’t have to punch him…” Louis smirks.

“It felt better than every single kiss we had to be honest.” Harry giggles, clenching and unclenching his fist to soothe his knuckles. “It’s weird now to think I said I was in love with him…Everything I felt was nothing compared to what I feel for you. It’s crazy.”

“Sometimes you don’t realize how bad you’re treated until someone treats you right.” Louis mutters, looking at his feet as they walk hand in hand.

“Have you been reading the notes on my desk ?” Harry nudges him.

“Maybe.” Louis looks up to grin and they both laugh until they get to the door. They walk in to find Gemma sitting at the kitchen table, sobbing with something in her hands.

“Gems ?” Harry calls when he hears her. Louis kisses him before letting the two of them talk alone.

“I don’t get it.” She sniffles, stroking the creased picture of her mom. “Why should I thank God for that ?”

“You won’t thank him. You’ll just make sure he keeps her in peace where she is.” Harry stands behind his sister to massage her shoulders and rests his chin on her head to calm her. “This way she can look after us and know we’re thinking about her too.”

“I’m sorry.” Gemma cries a bit louder. “I just-“

“Don’t worry. I know.” Harry kisses her head and walks around the stool to hug her. “I promise it makes it better.”

Gemma nods in his arms and hugs him tighter, and they spend a while talking about Anne in the kitchen and laugh over silly memories to make Gemma’s tears leave before going to sleep.

“So ?” Louis whispers when Harry slides under the covers and wraps his arm around his middle, crawling backwards into Louis’ chest.

“I think it’ll be alright.” Harry says and kisses Louis’ hand before closing his eyes, genuinely hoping he’s right.

 

 

******

 

 

“Louis ! How are you, son ?!” Des greets Louis when he sees him climb the stairs.

Des and his partner Judith had booked an hotel for their stay to not crowd Louis and Harry’s flat. Judith had stayed in to let Des reunite with his children and share this personal moment with his family, not wanting to be intrusive since she had just gotten to know him.

They had decided to meet at the church down Harry’s street, ready to go to mass with all the other faithful, but knowing this ceremony would be slightly different for them.

Harry had asked the priest to say a few words tonight for his mother, and make everyone pray for her for the anniversary of her death. Des, Louis, Harry, Lottie and Niall were all waiting for Gemma at the top of the stairs. The bell was ringing and they all looked at each other one last time before stepping in.

As they walked in, Harry turned when he felt someone walk next to him, only to see Gemma walk past him to hold her dad’s hand, walking with them as they reached the first row.

The mass was a regular one. The moment the priest took to celebrate Anne, however, made Harry lean against Louis’ side while Niall held his hand, crying silently as he felt grief overwhelm him and then go away just a little bit more. Gemma and Des where holding on to each other as well and letting a few tears stream while they prayed for Anne to always rest in peace and watch over them.

They then all lit a candle each and stayed silent for a while before doing the sign of the Cross and exiting the church, walking quietly toward the restaurant they were having diner at.

Judith joined them and they were all pleased to meet her. She was hilarious and very kind, and made sure Harry and Gemma knew she had no intention of hurting their father. She had met Jay and knew the whole situation, and was glad to meet Louis and Harry and sob every time they did something couple-y like kiss, or smile to each other, or just stand next to each other.

“I’m happy Lou.” Harry giggled as Louis was straddling his lap and held his hands to lean on them, playfully biting him in random places.

“What ?”

“I think I’m happy.” Harry smiled again. He knew Louis understood him. He knew that didn’t mean "today was a good day" or "I’m in a good mood". Louis knew it meant Harry was healing. And that was the best news he could possibly say.

“I’m happy you’re happy.” Louis wiggled his brows and licked his lip to hold his giggles.

“Are you happy enough to let me ride your cock ?” Harry chuckles as if he just asked if he could play video games past his curfew.

“Harreehhh !” Louis scolded, hiding his face with his hands and making Harry laugh even louder, loud cackles probably reaching Gemma’s room because she snorted hard enough so they could hear her annoyance.

“Pleasepleasepleaseplease-“

“Oi ! You don’t need to beg for it love, it’s yours.” Louis smirks and frees Harry when he falls down next to him, allowing him to straddle his lap in his turn.

Harry looks overexcited to be grinding on Louis, tying his hair up in a bun as he does, because multitasking was a thing for him apparently. Louis held onto his thighs as he rocked back and forth on his boxers, surely enjoying the sight of Harry on top of him.

“Do you think I should had some highlights in my hair ?” Harry asked very seriously as he placed one hand on Louis’ chest and started to palm him.

“Are you serious ?” Louis meant to ask if Harry was seriously thinking about his next hairdo while he was trying to get him hard, but Harry didn’t take it that way.

“I know it sounds weird and different but I’ve wanted to add some blond in, I think it’ll give that extra punch to it.” Harry wondered before leaning down to kiss Louis. The latter kissed him back and thought the conversation would end there, but it was Harry. And that meant not leaving a hair discussion without any closure.

“But I…” Harry continued, nibbling Louis’ bottom lip. “…I don’t know if it’ll suit me and…” He went back to sucking on his tongue before pulling away and make his way to Louis’ nipples. “…I’m not sure I can pull off the blond vibes.”

As much as Louis was dying under Harry’s touch, he knew he’d have to either answer him now or moan it later.

“You could be a blond I think.” Louis pants. “You’d look like a sexy surfer...or a biker.” He said and bit Harry's neck as he brought his arse further down on his throbbing cock.

“Really ?” Harry beamed at that and straightened up to take off Louis’ boxers and his own. Louis handed him the bottle of lube he had grabbed in the nightstand and watched as Harry made sure to ease his way down onto him. “I think I ahfuck…I think I’d…uh…like that…” Harry winces as he lowers himself down around Louis’ erection.

“Would you take me on your ride ?” Louis chuckles, tilting his head back when Harry sits on him and starts swaying his hips and tighten around him.

“You know you’re my only ride Lou, c’mon…” Harry giggles for a brief moment and squints as he moves his hips, feeling every part of Louis destroy him a bit, in the best way he could ask to be destroyed.

Louis can’t really seem to be able to talk after that. He just keeps his mouth open and places his hands on Harry’s bum to feel him rock on him and make him forget what words constitute the English language.

“You’re so f- fucking tight…” Louis breathes, thrusting slightly to prevent Harry from stopping because it feels a bit too good to interrupt.

“I’m not that tight...you’re just big.” Harry moans mouth forming the obscene ‘o’ shape that drives Louis crazy because that mouth is objectively a sin and shouldn’t be allowed to be this pink and this beautiful.

“Don’t try complimenting your way through this one baby or I’ll be done too soon.” Louis grins and stares at the way Harry’s hips dances around him, making those inked leaves a bit too perfect.

“But you’re so big Lou…and so thick…” Harry smirks but looks a bit lost in what he's saying, as if he can't keep his thoughts to himself. “…I can’t get enough of your cock you know…”

“Shhii- You’re pushing me.” Louis almost cusses but thrusts into Harry instead, making him hop up and down and lose his balance as Louis gives him a reason to confirm his compliments. His bun is bouncing as he moves and his torso his starting to glimmer, so Louis gets a bit lost.

Fuck !” He suddenly screams.

“What ?! Already ?!” Harry whines.

“No ! Cramp ! Cramp !” Louis winces and holds Harry up by his hips slightly to put a flat pillow under his lower back. “Okay…better.”

Harry giggles and resumes swaying his hips on Louis as the latter jerks him off, keeping their eyes locked and their mouth open to breathe in sync.

Louis digs his fingers into Harry’s thighs when his eyelids start to flutter, so Harry keeps going up and down until he can feel him drip inside of him, whimpering as he wets his torso soon after and falls next to him.

“Thanks for the ride.” Harry grins, fighting to not laugh loud, earning a muffled ‘I hate you so much’ before they both laugh weakly, both exhausted and ready to lay down for a day.

They don’t get to though.

Gemma is leaving the day after and Harry had finally convinced Louis to visit the science museum with him. He had went to an exhibition on theatre over the years and Louis had promised to go see one of his if he put up with it.

So when they wake up, Harry is like a battery running around the flat while Louis is trying to remember how to get out of bed.

“Don’t forget to say goodbye to Louis for me !” Gemma shouts from the front door. “And next time I’m here I’m staying in a hotel. I know way too much about Louis’ size I am bruised for life.”

Harry just laughs and rubs his tummy, not really bothered by his sister knowing his night activities.

 

“Oh my god look ! They redid the space department ! C’mon c’mon !” Harry sounds like an hyperactive child, running around everywhere and dragging Louis with him, explaining every computer and every bulb and every single object displayed in the museum.

“Gameboys !” Louis shouts when he spots the old Nintendo’s behind the glass. “I miss that…”

“Yeah…” Harry agrees, but only for half a second. “ But look at this plane !”

They keep walking – even though at this point they could pretty much join a power walk race – and finish the day in the space department, Harry wanting to save the best for last.

They go through the virtual animations and the constellation around them until there’s no one but them. Harry spends a lifetime on each step and is running out of breath trying to explain how amazing it is that they know all of this and what they have yet to discover.

“It’s about to close, we should probably go now.” Louis takes Harry’s hand and forces him to walk toward the exit.

“I don’t think that’s the right way Lou…” Harry says, walking backwards to look for the exit he knows.

“Oh no it is. Look.” Harry turns around to see they’re far from exiting the museum. They’re actually in a simulation room, virtually walking on the Moon.

“We’re on the Moon ?! I didn’t know they had that !” Harry looks like he’s seeing snow for the first time and he’s close to breaking his neck by tilting his head so much to explore every detail of the room. When he looks back down to eye Louis, the latter is smirking , clearly aware of that room already.

“Did you know about it ?” Harry raises a brow. Louis shrugs and bites his bottom lip, holding back a cheeky grin.

“I may have privatized a tour for us…”

“No you did not.” Harry says with a serious expression, incapable of believing Louis would go as far as make sure they’d have the virtual Moon to themselves.

“I figured that, even though we didn’t have to go hide on the Moon anymore, we could at least have dinner there ?” Louis says and, as he finishes the sentence, Luke and Oli, two of his childhood friends that Harry had met before, come out of nowhere to bring a blanket and a picnic blanket.

“Hi !” Luke smiles, while Harry is still frozen on the spot.

“Don’t mind us, we’re just dropping this off and going back to be on the watch !” Oli adds.

“They know someone who work here and will make sure we have the room for at least an hour.”

“Th-Thank you ?” Harry stutters, under the shock, and wondering if they’re risking that person’s job for Louis.

The both of them walks out and closes the door, saying ‘Calvin’, another one of their friends, is distracting the security guards.

“I can’t believe you took me to the Moon.” Harry chuckles, still turning his head in every directions to look at how realistic it his. Everything looks to scale and it feels like he’s walking over craters, stepping on rocks to join Louis on the blanket.

“I can’t believe you’d think I wouldn’t.” Louis smirks, and he has the most caring and loving look in his eyes that makes Harry stare for a while before doing the only thing he can think of. He tilts his head back again, cups his hands around his mouth, and gathers enough breath to scream.

“I LOVE YOU LOUIS TOMLINSON !”

“Oh my god shut up Harry ! We’re gonna get kicked out !” Louis jumps on his feet to put his hands on Harry’s mouth. “But I love you too…To the Moon and back.” Louis wiggles his brows, glad he got to say this, and kisses Harry as gently as he can.

“You know…” Harry breathes into his mouth as he walks his hands down his back. “…the Moon is actually the nearest satellite. I don't think I love you to the Moon and back. I love you to the farthest star on the Milky Way and back.”

“Is that your way of telling me you love me more than I love you ?” Louis frowns.

“I’m just saying-” Harry twirls his eyes. Louis kisses him before he gets to say anything more. And when he pulls away and sees Harry open his mouth to say something else, he kisses him again. He kisses him until he doesn’t remember one word he wanted to say.

Harry tries to fight and make them both trip over an artificial rock, laughing as they keep fighting over who loves the other more, biting and bruising and punching and tickling until they’re both out of breath.

“Can we have a puppy ?” Harry giggles when Louis straddles his lap to tickle him.

“What ?”

“I want a puppy.” Harry pouts.

“You really want me to give attention to another baby ?” Louis tilts his head on the side and waits for Harry to reconsider before he’s pulled on the blanket and covered entirely.

“I'm not saying now. But someday. Promise me someday we’ll share a baby.” Harry whispers, fixing Louis’ fringe the way he does it.

“There’s not much I wouldn’t want to share with you, love.”

Harry looks back at Louis and still can’t believe he gets to be with him. He still can’t believe the universe got its shit together and fixed the situation, can’t believe God is on his side after all, and can’t believe he’s this madly in love with rude guy from the Northern Line.

Je t’aime, mon coeur.” Harry smilles and watches as Louis clears his throat to speak.

Je t’aime aussi, mon amour.”