“Harry!” A voice shouts, accompanied by the crash of the door against the wall. Harry jumps so hard he nearly tips his chair, reaching out to slam his laptop closed on the desk reflexively.
“Jesus, Louis!” he scolds, pushing his hair out of his face and then settling his hand over his racing heart. “Do you know how to knock, or are you just trying to catch me jerking off?”
Louis freezes where he’s about to jump onto Harry’s bed, glancing over at him with bright eyes.
“Were you jerking off just now?” He asks mischievously, a slow grin spreading over his face as he chances a glance at Harry’s crotch.
“Not this time,” Harry mutters, pushing his curls back again just for something to do. “But I could have been. And what would you have done then?”
“Watched, probably,” Louis hums, winking. “But, alas, that’s not what I’m here for. Have you seen this?” Harry just barely catches the newspaper that Louis throws at him, straightening it out to look at the page he has it open to. “It’s a whole column for people to anonymously confess who they have a crush on. Can you believe that? All those people are too lame to say anything in person, so they write to the bloody school paper,” he laughs, making himself comfy on Harry’s bed and looking over at where Harry is still sat at his desk.
Harry shrugs and reads over a few of the proclamations of love, setting the paper down gently on the desk next to his closed laptop. “Cool, I guess,” he says, turning in his chair to look at Louis. His roommate is in class for another hour, and Harry did plan to use this time to get some work done, but really, he could never send Louis away or ignore him at all.
“Cool, I guess,” Louis mocks, imitating Harry’s low drawl rather poorly. He flips himself around on the bed so he’s on his stomach, feet up by Harry’s pillow. He kicked his shoes off at some point, which Harry is grateful for, because Louis has this uncanny ability to find any and every piece of abandoned gum on campus and step in it without even realizing.
Harry hands the paper back when Louis reaches for it, tucking one leg up under himself on the chair and toeing at the carpet with his socked foot.
“To the boy that sits in front of me in my history lecture with the dirty blond hair and brown eyes: I’m in love with you,” Louis reads dramatically, clutching at his heart. “To the girl in my building with the pretty cheekbones: I want to marry you,” he reads, laughing despite himself. “Oh, come on, these are hilarious!” He cackles, looking up at Harry.
Harry just shrugs, turning back and pretending to shuffle some papers around on his desk. “I guess,” he says again, rearranging the order of his impeccably stacked notebooks.
He sees Louis frown out of the corner of his eye, and then Louis sets the paper down. “Okay, what’s wrong,” he sighs, propping his chin up on his hands and watching Harry carefully.
“Nothing,” Harry assures, glancing over at him. “Why would something be wrong?”
“Because you’re acting exactly like you did that time I was making fun of dark chocolate without knowing it was your favorite,” Louis says, sitting up now. “So, spill. What’s bothering you?”
“You make me sound so dramatic,” Harry complains, huffing a laugh. “Nothing’s bothering me, I just don’t see why it’s funny to make fun of other people having crushes,” he shrugs.
Louis’s eyes narrow, his frown deepening. “Bro,” he starts, but Harry decides he isn’t quite finished yet.
“I mean, what if you had a big enough crush on somebody to write into a newspaper about it and confess and you knew someone was just sitting around laughing at-”
“Harry,” Louis interrupts, smiling slightly now. “Did you write one of these?”
“No,” Harry says pointedly, rolling his eyes.
“You think this is romantic, then?”
Harry shrugs again, looking down to watch his toe press into the carpet. “I mean, not romantic, really. It’s kind of nice, though,” he confesses, looking back up at Louis. “Don’t you think?”
“Well,” Louis defends, his entire attitude shifting before Harry’s eyes. He’s a pacifist at heart, always has been, and will do just about anything to avoid upsetting people, Harry especially. “I mean, I wasn’t making fun of them, not really. I was just laughing at how they worded it. C’mon, you have to admit some of them are ridiculously sappy,” he says, waving the paper around like it’ll make Harry see.
“Yeah, I suppose,” Harry hums, noncommittally, opening his laptop back up and angling it away from Louis slightly so he won’t see what he’s working on.
Louis bounces off the bed suddenly, hyperactive because he knows Harry isn’t totally pacified. “Let’s go get food. Please? You’ve been in your room all day,” he whines, reaching out to grab Harry’s wrist and trying to pull him out of his seat.
“Lou, I have so much work to do,” Harry tries, though he does nothing to stop Louis from tugging on his arm.
“Please,” Louis groans, dropping Harry’s arm and giving him his best puppy dog eyes.
“Fine, just give me two seconds,” Harry sighs, rolling his eyes at his obnoxious best friend.
“Yes,” Louis cheers, bouncing away to set about getting his shoes back on.
Harry watches to make sure he isn’t paying attention before he opens up his email to sign out, making sure to star the one he had had open. It was a pretty beautiful confession, one that will definitely be in the column next week, Louis’s opinion be damned.
Harry’s been running the column for two weeks now, and he’s surprised it took Louis this long to find out about it. He doesn’t know Harry is the one behind it, obviously, but if there’s anything remotely embarrassing lying around, Louis is sure to get himself into it.
“Are you ready?” Louis pleads, creeping over to slowly push Harry’s laptop closed.
Harry laughs and nods, pushing at Louis’s chest gently as he stands up. “Yes, you menace. Let’s go.”
Louis grins and grabs him by the wrist again, all but dragging him out the door. Harry barely manages to snatch his wallet and then they’re off to the lift, heading for the cafeteria.
Harry drops his bag with a huff, flopping down on his bed face first. He’s just sat through the longest literature exam in the world, he’s sure, and he’s bloody exhausted. His roommate is in a lecture for the next hour, and Harry fancies a nap, he thinks, but if he naps now he’ll never sleep later and he has to be up early in the morning for class.
He sits up before he can let himself nod off, settling with his back against the wall. He doesn’t have anywhere to be or anything to do; the latest issue of the university newspaper was printed today, which means he doesn’t have to start picking the next batch of entries for his column for a few days, at least.
He could get off, maybe. It sounds like a pretty good idea, as he’s alone and will be for a bit. He doesn’t get a lot of alone time, between his own schedule and his roommate’s, and keeping Louis entertained with every free minute. Not that he minds the last bit, but it makes situations like these rare and exciting.
He settles a hand over his crotch and leans his head back against the wall, letting his eyes slip closed. He lets his mind wander for a moment, pressing the heel of his hand against his soft cock through his jeans and biting at his lip.
Just as he’s about to get into it someone crashes through his door, startling his hand right away from his dick.
“Hazza,” Louis greets, kicking the door shut behind himself and toeing off his shoes. Harry doesn’t remember giving him a key, and is definitely going to take it away if Louis somehow got one.
“Lou,” he grumbles in return, looking forlornly at his crotch.
Louis gasps, and when Harry looks up, his eyes are bright and his lips are spreading in a mischievous smile. “Were you actually jerking off this time?”
“No,” Harry says, rolling his eyes.
“Yes you were,” Louis laughs, leaning back against the side of the other bed. “Don’t let me keep you from it. I can wait.”
“Yeah, I’m good,” Harry chuckles, finally cracking a smile at Louis. Louis grins back at him and all but launches himself onto the bed next to him, showing him the newspaper in his hands.
“I saw this outside and had a look. You know, I think you were right about this crush column thing. Some of these are quite cute,” he hums, flipping to the right page.
“Oh yeah?” Harry knows they’re quite cute this week. He only chose the absolute best ones, the ones he knew would make even Louis feel soft and warm inside. “Read them to me, I’m too tired to focus my eyes that long.”
Louis scoffs, knocking the side of his knee against the side of Harry’s. “Too tired to read a few sentences, but not too tired to jack off?”
Harry rolls his eyes, knocking Louis’s knee back with quite a bit more force. He hopes Louis can’t tell how hard he’s blushing. “Shut up and read,” he laughs.
“Can’t very well do both of those at the same time, Harold, you’ll have to choose,” Louis hums, poking at Harry’s side.
“Louis,” Harry whines, batting his hand away and curling into his side for a cuddle instead. “Read to me, please.”
Louis goes marginally softer, wrapping one arm around Harry’s shoulder and holding the paper up in his other hand. “Alright,” he hums, his voice that quiet, soothing tone he uses when Harry is sad or tired or just whiny.
Harry lets his eyes fall closed again while Louis reads, nuzzling his head into the crook of Louis’s neck. Louis smoothes some of his curls down so they don’t tickle his cheek and Harry feels a pang of fondness when Louis’s hand doesn’t stray from his hair, scratching gently at his scalp.
“To the girl with the prettiest blonde curls and the brightest blue eyes: when you laugh it’s like the sun shines a little brighter and the entire world stops to hear it and I’m so in love with you it hurts sometimes,” Louis reads, in the same soft tone as before. He isn’t sarcastic, isn’t making fun, and Harry feels an overwhelming sense of pride.
“To the boy that hangs out in the Starbucks on campus every morning: I make your drink with extra love and hope you’ll actually stop and talk to me one of these days.”
“To the pink-haired girl that jogs by my building: I wish you’d stop and talk to me and that you’d be half as fascinated by me as I am by you.”
“To the boy with the curly hair: I am so deeply, madly in love with you, it actually hurts my brain and I don’t even think you know it but I wish you did and I wish you would love me back.”
Harry opens his eyes and peers at the paper, because he doesn’t remember reading that one when sifting through emails. He might have just forgotten it with the many, many others he went through, but he thinks he’d remember something so beautiful.
As he’s trying to find Louis’s spot on the page, Louis sighs and drops the paper to the bed. “I don’t wanna read anymore. What do you say we go get some early dinner and sit around in the cafeteria making fun of people for a while?”
Harry hums noncommittally, not answering until Louis uses his fingers in his hair to pull his head back and make him meet his eyes. “Yeah, okay, I could eat,” he yawns.
Louis smiles at him and pats his hair, unwrapping him from his hold and sliding off the bed. Harry whines softly at the loss of heat, shivering and following after. He slips on his shoes and grabs his wallet and when he looks up Louis is already waiting by the door, looking antsy and squirmy.
“Is everything okay?” Harry asks, pulling on his jacket. It’s not exactly cold out but he’s tired, and whenever Louis stops cuddling him he usually spends the next few hours feeling cold and empty.
“Yeah, fine,” Louis assures, looking up at him with a tight smile. “Ready?”
“Yeah,” Harry says, brushing his hair out of his face with his fingers. Louis is out the door before the word is even all the way out of Harry’s mouth and he frowns, following after him quickly.
He can’t tell if Louis is upset or something over the crush confessions, or if he’s just really hungry. Sometimes he can be a bit off if he hasn’t eaten in a while, and that seems like the easier of the options to deal with, so Harry decides that must be it.
Louis hardly says a word until they get to the cafeteria, but once they have their food and sit down, he’s back to cracking jokes about Harry jerking off.
“I’ll have to make use of the peephole next time, I suppose,” he teases, waggling his eyebrows at Harry.
Harry just laughs and shakes his head, letting Louis carry on. This Louis is more fun than the Louis that won’t look directly at him, and if his dick is all it takes to make Louis smile, Harry supposes that he can live with that.
Things are normal for a while after that, until suddenly they aren’t.
He’s sorting through the emails for this week’s crush confession column, which is set to be printed in two days’ time. He starts with the oldest one and works his way up from there, deleting any that are crude or poorly written. He keeps all the most poetic ones, the cute ones, and the ones that remind him somewhat of his own situation.
Twenty emails and a lot of eye rolling later, Harry’s heart drops into the pit of his stomach. There’s an email from Louis, the subject reading: my secret love.
Harry doesn’t even click to open it, just stars it like the rest of the ones he’s sure to add. He doesn’t think he can read something Louis wrote, especially about someone he’s in love with, because Harry didn’t even know he had his eye on someone and reading about it will just hurt. He also doesn’t think he could invade Louis’s privacy like that, because Louis doesn’t know he runs the column, and if he read it he wouldn’t be able to pretend that he hadn’t.
He tries to move on after that but he finds that he can’t, because he’s sick and filled with the kind of dread that won’t let him focus on anything else. He closes out of his email and shuts his laptop, deciding he’ll leave now for his evening class, which doesn’t start for another hour.
He throws on a hoodie and laces up his trainers and all but runs from his room, making it to class with 45 minutes to spare.
He tries to pay attention in class, he really does, but all he can think about is who Louis might be in love with. He can’t help but stare at every guy he sees, wondering if that’s the one Louis has been secretly thirsting over. He’s so out of sorts by the end of class that he doesn’t even go straight home, wandering around campus for almost a half hour before he ends up back at his own dorm.
He texts Louis to ask if he wants to grab dinner, because maybe if he sees him it’ll make him feel better. Maybe if they’re forced to interact, Louis will confess out loud who he’s been crushing on.
Louis lets him sweat for about ten minutes before he finally answers with a probably made up excuse about having a paper to write. If there was a paper, Harry would have had to listen to him whining about it for the past week, so it’s pretty safe to say there isn’t one.
Harry ends up skipping dinner, curling up in bed with his laptop instead. His roommate is out for the night, probably. Normally it would be nice, but right now Harry wants any distraction he can get. He spends the rest of the evening going through emails of crush confessions, carefully ignoring the one that’s causing him so much grief.
He finishes up around midnight and sends all the approved entries off to the editor to be typed into this week’s issue. It’s not set to print for another two days but he doesn’t mind being early, he knows the editor will appreciate it.
He checks his phone before he finally settles into bed for real, hoping for any form of communication from Louis. There’s no text, no snapchat, and when Harry checks his story, it’s still just a picture from the day before of the burrito he had for lunch.
He doesn’t know what the reason is for Louis’s radio silence, but he doesn’t like it one bit. He drifts off to sleep still thinking about it, hoping that everything is okay between them.
In the two days that it takes for the new issue of the paper to start circulating, Harry sees Louis a total of zero times. He’s called, he’s texted, he’s snapped, but still Louis either makes up an excuse or just ignores him completely.
Harry is about ready to cry, he’s so frustrated. He still has no idea what he’s done to make Louis upset with him. He tried to ask Niall yesterday but Niall had just talked him in circles, leaving him lost and confused and vaguely more upset than before.
He heads to the library to do some studying, hoping that distracting himself with work will help him to get his mind off of Louis. They haven’t gone this long without talking to each other the whole time they’ve been friends, and this is killing him. He props himself up in a chair and stares at his laptop until his eyes are burning and there’s no one else around, the librarian’s annoyed huffing finally getting the best of him.
It’s been close to four hours, and he thinks that if he goes back to his room now he’s just going to continue wallowing in self pity, so he heads to the cafeteria instead.
He keeps his eyes peeled for any soft caramel colored hair or bright blue eyes, desperately hoping that Louis will show up. He can’t very well ignore Harry if they’re face to face. Unless he just takes off, which could very well happen. Harry thinks he would burst into flames on the spot.
For all his looking, Harry only finds people who definitely are not Louis. Finally he decides to stop being lame and just go back to his room, and maybe call Louis over and over until he picks up like Louis does to him sometimes.
He trudges to the lift, already pulling his phone out of his pocket to check for any messages. He finds nothing waiting for him, but his heart can’t sink any lower, so all he feels is a bit numb.
He rubs at his eye while he unlocks his door, pushing into the room like he’s going to collapse at any second. He tenses up when he sees a body in his bed, though, eyes flicking up to the person’s face.
“Where the hell have you been?” Louis asks, propping his head up on Harry’s pillow. Harry just blinks at him, trying not to scream.
“Where have I been?” he snaps. At least he isn’t screaming. “Where have I been? Where the hell have you been? I’ve called you like a hundred times, you’ve been ignoring me!”
Louis winces, sitting up against the headboard. He brings the duvet with him, covering most of his body. “Sorry,” he says quietly, dropping his eyes to Harry’s feet.
“It’s okay,” Harry sighs, sitting down beside him and tugging him into his arms. “But never do that to me again. I thought you hated me, couldn’t imagine what I’d done.”
Louis pulls away slightly, looking up at him with a frown. “I couldn’t hate you. Ever,” he assures. Harry wants to kiss him breathless, but he refrains.
“Well then what’s with the radio silence? Is everything okay?” he asks, kicking off his shoes and settling under the covers with Louis. The crush confession column is the last thing on his mind, until Louis pulls it out from under the covers.
“Have you read the paper?” Louis asks, completely ignoring Harry’s question. Harry rolls his eyes but doesn’t push, pressing himself into Louis’s side.
“No, I haven’t,” he says quietly, eyes settling on the paper. Louis has it open to his column, and Harry wants to flee.
“Are you sure? Not even the crush confessions?” Louis asks carefully, chewing on his lip. Harry shakes his head, looking up at Louis’s face. “I wrote in,” Louis says, breaking eye contact and looking back at the paper.
“Oh yeah?” Harry asks, trying to play it cool, pretend he doesn’t know.
“Harry,” Louis breathes, shaking his head. Finally he just laughs, thumping his head back against the wall. “I know you’re in charge of the crush confessions.”
Harry feels all of the color drain from his face, staring up at Louis with wide eyes. “You do?”
“Yes,” Louis grins, looking down. “I mean, I didn’t until after I’d already written in. I told Niall that I wrote in and he absolutely lost it, told me how it was all your idea and everything. That’s why I didn’t talk to you for a few days, I was so embarrassed.”
“Wait, why are you embarrassed?” Harry asks, sitting up a little. Now that he can see Louis better, he can tell his face is bright red.
“Are you serious? Didn’t you read it?” Louis asks, finally looking over at him.
“No,” Harry confesses, glancing at the paper. “I didn’t want to invade your privacy. I knew it’d make you happy if you saw yours in the paper, so I just put it in without reading it,” he explains.
“Jesus,” Louis breathes, his smile drooping. “So you have no idea what it says?”
“No?” Harry frowns, looking back up at his face. “Why?”
Louis looks nervous, but somewhat confident. “Just read it, please,” he mutters.
He points out the entry on the page and Harry takes it from his hands, holding it up to read it. “To my best friend,” he reads slowly, his stomach dropping like he’s on a rollercoaster.
“Keep going,” Louis pleads.
“To my best friend,” Harry starts again, “you are worth more to me than the sun and all of the stars and I would do anything for you, and you don’t even know it. I hope one day you’ll love me like I’ve been loving you.”
All Harry can hear for the next few moments is the beating of his own heart, threatening to thunder out of control.
“You have a crush on me,” Harry breathes, reading the line over again, and once more.
“Yeah,” Louis murmurs.
“You,” Harry says, a bit louder now, “have a crush on me?”
“You know, maybe this wasn’t the best id-”
“No!” Harry shouts, all but tackling Louis over when he goes to slip away. “You! Have a crush! On me!” He shouts excitedly, his face barely an inch away from Louis’s.
“Yeah, I do, okay? Now please-”
“No!” Harry shouts again, wrestling with Louis until he’s successfully pinned him to the bed. “Listen, I have a crush on you, too, okay? Or, well, more like I’m head over heels in love with you. Have been almost the whole time I’ve known you.”
Louis looks like he’s been slapped, eyes wide and round as he stares up at Harry. “What?”
“I- well, yeah. I feel the same,” Harry repeats, quieter this time. They just kind of stare at each other for a moment, each of them processing what this means.
“So,” Louis starts, eyes flickering to Harry’s lips. “Should we kiss?”
Harry chuckles, his stomach swooping. “Should we?”
“I think we probably should,” Louis hums, smiling up at him. “You know, just to make sure.”
“Make sure of what?”
“I don’t know, shut up.”
Louis reaches up and pulls him down for a kiss so quickly Harry hardly has time to react, melting into Louis’s touch slowly. Louis’s lips are just a little bit chapped and taste the slightest hint of iron, like he’s been chewing at them a while. It’s everything Harry dreamed it would be, and it’s over far too fast.
They break into giggles almost immediately, mouths still mostly pressed together. It feels like heaven, like forever, and Harry’s toes tingle with excitement. It’s hardly a minute before the door handle jiggles, and Harry jumps off so quickly he startles Louis right out of his little daze.
“My roommate,” Harry whispers quickly.
“Mine’s home for the weekend?” Louis suggests, just as the door finally pushes open.
Harry smirks at him and they both get off the bed, acting as inconspicuous as possible. Harry’s roommate disappears almost immediately into the bathroom and both boys take off at a run, laughing and bumping their way down the corridor to the lift and then down a floor to Louis’s dorm.
Louis presses him up against the door as soon as they’re inside, kissing him like he’s hungry for it. Harry can’t help but whimper against his lips, grabbing at his hips.
“I don’t have lube,” Louis mutters, pulling away with a curse whispered under his breath.
“Good thing I don’t put out on the first date, then,” Harry smirks, pulling Louis back in.
“Oh, c’mon. I’ve seen you naked a hundred times, do we really have to do that bullshit?”
“It’s not bullshit,” Harry says defensively, “it’s romantic. And no, I suppose we don’t, but not without lube,” he hums.
“I can work in other ways,” Louis offers, snaking a hand between them to grab at Harry’s crotch. Harry breathes out harshly, pushing his hips forward.
“Let’s see it then.”
Forty minutes and two pretty marvelous blowjobs later, they’re both exhausted, curled up in Louis’s bed. Louis’s sheets need a wash, Harry thinks as he turns over to get into little spoon position. Maybe as his boyfriend, Harry can make sure those things get done.
“Louis?” He asks, voice startlingly loud in the dark.
“Yes?” Louis answers through a yawn, wrapping himself around Harry’s back.
“Am I your boyfriend?”
“Do you want to be?”
“Then yes, I suppose.”
Harry grins, pressing his face into Louis’s pillow. Definitely needs a wash. “Okay.”
“Okay,” Louis breathes out, pressing his smile into the back of Harry’s neck.
“Can I tell you something? As your boyfriend?”
“Your bed is rank.”
Louis laughs brightly, pressing his fingers into Harry’s hip just enough to make him giggle. “I know, why do you think I spend so much time at yours?”
“Fair enough,” Harry chuckles.
“Go to sleep,” Louis hums, tucking his face back into Harry’s neck.
“God’s sake, Harry, what?”
Louis pauses for a long moment, and then one leg snakes its way between both of Harry’s. “Love you too, Hazza.”