She sees Harry first when he’s already there, sitting on a chair next to the pool with Lux in his lap, hair tied up in a bun, laughing at something Tom is saying.
“Scuse me,” she hisses to Lou, stopping so abruptly that Lou runs into her back with an oof. They’re on their way outside to the pool, but Caroline’s suddenly rethinking her bikini choice (too skimpy? not skimpy enough?) and realizing her hair has turned to straw because of the chlorine. “What’s he doing here?"
"Who?” Lou asks, innocently.
Caroline turns around to face her. “You invited him on our girls holiday?"
"I didn’t invite him, he just- he asked where I was going, I said the Maldives, he said, oh, I was thinking about going there because Grimmy’s doing a thing, and next thing you know, well- don’t give me that face. Just think of him as free babysitting."
"Well I know that’s how you’re thinking of him, selfish twat,” Caroline says, pinching Lou’s bare waist. Lou smacks her hand away.
“Just don’t fret,” she says, shoving her sunglasses up on top of her head. “He’s got other things to do, he won’t hang around with us that much."
Caroline sighs. It’s not that she hates Harry- not at all. It’s not even that she’s worried about things being awkward.
It’s just still a bit - well. It’s still a bit weird to be in close company.
Harry looks up as they step out of the hotel room. Caroline slips her sunglasses down over her eyes, gives a polite wave, and Harry nods back. He’s in ridiculously-printed yellow swim trunks, no shirt, big sunglasses. Proper popstar-like.
"Hiii, Hazza,” Lou says, leaning down to kiss his cheek.
“Hi,” Harry says, and - god, it really is always a shock, that deep voice of his. It fits his body a bit better than it used to, but it still gives Caroline a little shiver. “Hi, Caz."
"Hiya, Harry,” she says, and Lux wriggles off Harry’s lap just in time for him to stand up, pull her in for a cheek kiss. His breath smells of cinnamon gum.
“Good to see you,” she says, trying not to go squeaky.
“You too. Been a while."
"Harry, can we go swimming?” Lux demands, sitting on the ground in her suit, shielding her eyes with one hand.
“Course we can,” he says, and he eases into the pool just like that, sitting on the edge and slipping in. It only comes up to about his waist. He beckons for Lux, who fearlessly jumps into his arms.
“Be careful,” Lou calls, as she settles onto the lounger next to Caroline, digging out her phone.
Lux shrieks with laughter, and Caroline lifts her book over her face so she doesn’t have to watch them.
The pool’s private, shaded by palm trees and quiet. It’s just them out there, and after a while Tom leaves to fetch lunch. Lux gets bored of swimming and cuddles up next to Lou for a nap, and Harry starts to do laps.
Caroline reads, and eventually drifts off to sleep, book over her face. She’s woken up by a sprinkle of cool water droplets on her sun-warmed legs.
It’s Harry, standing over her and smiling, hair dripping, wet all over.
“Fancy getting a drink?” he asks, voice soft. Caroline doesn’t know why, until she looks to her left and sees Lou and Lux, still asleep.
"Grim’s got some set-up in his room,” he says. “He’s working but he said I could go in whenever. Tequila and everyfing."
Tequila is her favorite. Harry knows that.
"What time is it?” she asks, shielding her eyes with her hand, even though it’s nowhere near as bright as before.
Harry shrugs, and his mouth curves up wickedly.
“We’re on holiday,” he says.
“We are not anything,” she says, before she can stop herself, and he arches an eyebrow like it was a challenge.
“Not what I meant,” he says, measuredly. She refuses to blush. “Here, let’s get a drink."
Lou stirs on the lounger next to them, mouth opening sleepily, and for some reason, that makes Caroline sit up quickly, as quietly as she can.
Not that she’d care if Lou came along to get a drink, or if Lou knew she was - well. She doesn’t care. It’s just- a little easier, this way.
Nick’s room is down a winding pathway through lush green palm trees and bushes. The air is thick with some sweet floral scent Caroline doesn’t know the name of.
"This place is sick, isn’t it?” Harry says, endearingly impressed by posh things even with the state of his bank account.
“Yeah, it’s amazing."
"It’s, like, I love how there’s pools in each little hut thing,” he says, slowly. “It’s awesome. Oh, hey. Congratulations on Strictly. That’s amazing."
Caroline stares at his back.
"Thanks,” she says, bemusedly. “It was fun."
"You looked really incredible, doing all that."
God, he’s still such a charmer.
"Thanks,” she repeats, and he grins back at her over one tan shoulder, nods her into a room.
Nick’s room looks like a hurricane hit it, which is predictable. His clothes are strewn everywhere, and his bottles of hair gunk are all spread out over the top of the dresser. There’s a bottle of Patrón, another of Cointreau, and a little fruit basket of citrus, which is nice. There was no drink kit in Caroline’s room, she feels cheated.
There’s also a half-empty pack of condoms and a bottle of lube on the dresser, which Harry smoothly slips into the first drawer without mentioning them.
“Already getting busy, is he,” Caroline says, laughing. “Very Grim."
"And only two of those were me,” Harry adds, casually, and - oh. Caroline feels abruptly disappointed, and then stupid for being disappointed.
“You’re still doing that, then,” she says, trying to sound perfectly neutral. “You and Nick."
"Sometimes,” Harry answers, his own voice just as blank.
Caroline nods, crossing an arm over her chest. The A/C is cranked up, and she’s starting to feel a chill. Should’ve brought her little caftan. Maybe Nick’s got a jumper she could snag.
Harry bends over the bartop, slices a lime in half.
“Ice in that bucket, maybe,” he says, nodding at a black ice bucket on the nightstand. “From this morning."
Caroline looks. It’s half-melted, but there are a few salvageable pieces.
This morning, then. So Harry stayed over. Or stopped by for breakfast and a fuck. Caroline huffs out a laugh, brings the bucket over to Harry.
He’s somehow already got a drink sorted, squeezing half of an orange into a mostly-full glass.
"Here,” he says, once he’s dropped two cubes in, stirred it with his finger. “Try."
She takes a sip. It’s strong, a kick of tequila making her throat burn, but it’s good. Sweet.
"Yeah,” she says, taking another sip. “S'good."
Harry smiles at her, and then mixes one for himself.
She sits on the edge of the bed and watches him. His hunched back, his careful long fingers. Hair hanging in his face.
There’s a reason she doesn’t do this - hang out much with Harry, or look at photos of him. Talk about him a lot, even. The first reason is the wave of embarrassment she still gets in her belly, at the way people talked about it, about her. Pedophile, sick, perverted, nasty. All that shite she agonized over.
But the second is - well. When she looks at Harry for too long, she starts to remember things. Awful things. Like the time he made her come four times in one night, with his hands and his mouth alone. The first time he fucked her, how nervous he was, how he dropped the condom twice, his hands shaking. The awful, wonderful time he ate her out in a toilet at some club where Nick was DJing, pressed her against the wall and licked her reverently, sloppily, hungrily.
He was always so very, very eager to eat her pussy, she thinks idly. It was such a fucking surprise, at first, and then-
"So,” Harry says, interrupting her thoughts. He turns around, leans against the dresser. “You still with, uh, Jack?"
Caroline takes a deep gulp of her drink.
"Nope,” she says. “Not at the moment."
She must make it sound like a fresh wound, because Harry doesn’t push. It is a bit - fresh and painful, that is - but that’s really none of his business.
He ducks his head, sips his drink.
"Oh,” he says. “So, uh, you going to the thing tonight?"
They’re on an island the size of a pea, with exactly one party planned. Yes, she’s going to the thing tonight.
"Yeah,” she says. “Should be fun."
"I think I told Lou I’d babysit for part of the night,” he says sheepishly, scrubbing his hand through his damp hair. “She’s good at guilt-trips, int she."
Caroline huffs a laugh. "Yeah. Poor you."
He shrugs, green eyes finding hers. Caroline tightens the arm across her chest.
"Don’t mind,” he says. “Lux is fun."
Caroline really doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Well, she does, but she doesn’t know why she’s in a hotel room with Harry Styles, drinking margaritas and talking about children.
She wants to fuck him, in a far off way. A stray thought flitting through her mind. It’s been so long, see, and Caroline’s single as of three weeks ago, and she’s been getting by on Strictly celebrations and girl’s nights and a lot - a lot of alcohol, but she’s dying a bit, to be touched.
She walks backward, and sits on the bed.
Harry draws in an audible, small breath, and when Caroline looks up he’s looking at her legs.
"Fucking hell, Haz,” she says softly, because she knows that look, and it means she’s not entirely alone in this.
Harry peers at her searchingly.
“C'mere,” she says, moving backwards on the bed, spreading her legs just a fraction, and instead of sitting next to her Harry drops to his knees. His drink sloshes onto the carpet, and he sets it down, walks forward, between her thighs.
“Jesus,” she grits out, stomach tightening in anticipation. “Harry-"
"Can I,” Harry murmurs, putting his hands on her thighs. “Can I?"
Fuck, it’s so nice to see him there, looking at her like that again. It’s so nice to have hands on her legs and someone who wants to taste her.
She sucks in a shaky breath. "Yeah, go on."
Harry pulls at the string on one side of her bikini until it unravels, falls between her legs. He does the other side, gently tugs the swimsuit off, tosses it behind him.
"Nick- coming back?” Caroline says breathlessly.
“Not for a while,” Harry mumbles, before he ducks his head and kisses at the inside of her thigh.
Caroline lets out a sigh.
This is always where they were best. Right here. Harry on his knees with his mouth on her. He had the most generous mouth, all soft lips and a clever, clever tongue-
“Ah!” she gasps, because that tongue’s flattening slowly against her clit, and it’s- “Oh, fuck, Harry."
Harry just slides his mouth down to where she’s wet, and with one hand, he slips two fingers slowly inside her, pressing at the skin, playing with it.
She resists the urge to fall back against the bed. Her stomach’s quivering, and when Harry looks up at her with big eyes, his mouth and chin smeared shiny, she remembers what he likes.
It’s been a long time but she remembers.
She puts her hand in his hair - longer now, wet and silky under her fingers, and gives him a nice firm tug. She can feel the shuddering sigh of relief he lets out at that. So lovely.
"There you go, darling,” she says, voice trembling, before she pushes him down so he’s buried in her, tongue out, chin pressing against her skin, licking and sucking. Fuck it’s gorgeous. She can’t keep herself from whimpering, voice squeaking a bit, and he shivers under her hand, goes at her with more conviction, spurred on by the praise.
When she comes, it’s with two thick fingers inside her, rings cool against her flesh, his thumb and his tongue working on her clit.
He pulls back, breathing hard, licking his mouth.
She opens her eyes- when did they close? - and sees him, face pink, eyes glazed. He’s hard in his shorts, and the sight of it is so like their old times. Harry got an erection at the drop of a bloody hat. From watching Caroline bend over to pick something up. From being fed a bite of cake from her fingers. From brushing his teeth in the same room where she was showering.
He doesn’t run around like that anymore, but it still gets him hard to eat pussy. That’s nice to know.
“Get a condom,” she says, reaching down to trail her fingers over his face, gently. Fond. She missed that face, the way fucking Harry never felt self-conscious, never felt like she was trying to impress.
For a minute she misses him fiercely and painfully, which is mental, considering he’s right there in front of her, his mouth still wet from her cunt.
“Go on, get one,” she urges, laughing a little, and he turns his cheek, kisses the flat of her palm softly, and goes.