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Tall Tales For Summer

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Harry had an inkling something was off when his mum started planning his birthday party.

In June.

“You don’t turn twenty everyday, darling,” she said, not even looking him in the eye. She had a large planner open in front of her on the dining table. She’d already blocked off potential dates, coloured highlighters lined up next to her planner that she kept tapping as she spoke.

“Right, well, I already did turn twenty. Almost six months ago,” Harry said.

“I’m thinking the first week of July.” His mum pinched her lower lip, still pondering. Why was this even a thing?

“That’s when the regatta is,” Gemma chimed in, as she walked past them and disappeared into the kitchen. How did she even know what they were talking about?

“The timing is unfortunate,” his mum added, trailing off. “There might be some scheduling conflicts. And people are always cranky after spending days out in the sun. Hmm.” Harry was definitely one of those people and did not want to participate in whatever festivities his mum had in mind.

“I don’t need another party,” he said again, but his mum kept staring at her planner. A fine line appeared between her brows. Why was she so invested in this? And why was she ignoring Harry’s protests?

Gemma returned with a bottle of Perrier, uncapping it and drinking it straight from the bottle, nail digging under the label.

“Also, it’s June already. Need to leave plenty of time for RSVPs,” Gemma said on her way out. His mum acknowledged it with a nod.

“Ah, yes.” A small frown graced his mum’s face before she recovered. “I supposed mid to late July will have to do.”

“Mum,” Harry tried to sound stern, failing miserably.

“Yes, love?” She asked, still not looking at him. She wrote July 20 in blue ink with meticulous precision at the top of one of her blank pages. She added several bullet points below it, biting her lip as she added items.

“I don’t understand why you’re doing this? I thought the whole point of the end of the season was that we could be hermits with zero consequences. Just drop off the map and forget about all social obligations.”

She sighed as if Harry was the one being difficult. She set aside her pen. Gemma’s brows were raised as she watched the two of them, and her mouth twisted before she got up to leave.

“Can’t a mother do something nice for her son? You said yourself your birthday this year was lacking. We were all busy, and everyone got food poisoning from the rocket. It’s really unfortunate I didn’t think to throw you a second bash to make up for it. Is it so wrong to try and do it right?”

Her eyebrows were drawn up, the corner of her mouth pulled tight. She held on to his hand, thumb stroking his palm. She continued, "And this might be your last chance to see some of your friends before they leave for St Barts."

Well. She had a bit of a point.

“I-- of course.”

She smiled brightly. “That’s all I want. Now. Please do make a list of your menu preference and guest list. Colour scheme, if you have any ideas, as well. I’ll set up a meeting with Charles about all of this. You won’t have to lift a finger!”

That was partially what concerned him. “I suppose I could do it now…”

"Excellent, loads of planning to do, caterers to call and all that. Thank you, love.” She shooed him off with a wide smile and a perky tip of her head. She looked down at her list and resumed her writing. Just like that, the conversation was over.

*

Harry went to find Gemma immediately after that, didn’t even knock on her door. She must’ve expected him, because she didn’t bother to turn around from where she lay, occupied with whatever she was doing on her ipad.

“Gemma.”

“Nope.”

“I haven’t even said anything,” he said, and she only turned to quirk an eyebrow at him. Why was everyone treating him like a child all of a sudden? Especially when they were talking about celebrating his 20th birthday. Again.

“You know how mum gets. If she wants to throw you a birthday party, let her.”

“What about you? You didn’t have a second party in May. It’s hardly fair, is it?”

Gemma snorted and rolled her eyes. “You don’t hear me complaining.”

“All the more reason for me to be suspicious.”

She waved him off with an eyeroll. “Oh, pish posh. You know me. Was never much into all that pomp and circumstance.”

“Says the girl who demanded we rent a ferris wheel for your last birthday.”

“Yes, well, I guess I blew the budget for my second birthday party on the first one. What a chore,” she deadpanned, not even looking up at him.

“Now I’m really concerned. You’re in on this, aren’t you?”

She turned on her bed, leaning back on her elbows and studying him carefully. “Depends on your definition of being involved, I s’pose. Can’t let mum do all the work.”

“Gem.” He sounded proper pained now, and busted out his best puppy eyes. But really, he didn’t like not being in on things, and Gemma’s complete stonewalling wasn’t helping ease his mind.

“Just indulge her, will you? And may I suggest Mediterranean for the menu? Been dying to get my mouth on some proper baba ganouj.”

Just for that, Harry asked for a classic English menu with a Scandinavian twist.

*

It’s not that Harry hadn’t been the subject of birthday parties before. It’s just that this time it was different. Aside from the fact that it was far from being his birthday.

For one, it seemed that the attendees were almost exclusively men. His mum was there, of course, and Gemma, as well as her friend Soph. And he spotted a couple of female waiters making the rounds. But that was it.

And for another, he barely recognised any of the men converged in the drawing room. Some he’d exchanged pleasantries with, yes. A few he remembered from the Queen’s Garden Party and the Ascot. But mostly they all blended together; similar features and expressions and hair. A herd of young men that were staring him down as he made his way into the room.

Which also wasn’t the norm, really, being stared at like that. And while Harry was quite proud of his bespoke Richard James suit, he didn’t think it warranted quite the ogling he received. They weren’t impressed stares, or appreciative stares; they were more of the assessing variety. Prodding glances people tried to sneak at auctions to determine whether they had any interest in the goods without alerting the competition.

It was making him a bit uncomfortable, to be honest.

A waiter seemed to sense his distress and offered him her tray of champagne glasses. He thanked her profusely before taking one. He sipped it carefully, not wanting to seem like too much of a lush right away. Even if it was his party, he needed to maintain decorum.

He took a moment to adjust his jacket with his free hand, fiddling with his button. He undid it, and did it back up, pressing the pearl button under his nail. He could get through this. In theory they were all there for him. So in theory he couldn’t disappoint them.

The champagne was tart on his tongue, and he gulped down half the glass, no longer concerned with appearances.

Harry spotted Nick in one of the corners, the only one of his friends his mum had left on the guest list. He was talking to someone Harry recognized vaguely, possibly from having passed him the corridors at Harrow. He narrowed his eyes, trying to recall if they’d spoken before.

“Watch out for that one, he steals cutlery,” was whispered to Harry’s right, it seemed to come from someone who just passed him in his peripheral vision.

Harry turned to source the whisper, only to be faced with the back of a retreating waiter. The man turned and met Harry’s eyes, winking at him from under hooded eyes.

“Sorry?” Harry asked.

This one. This one Harry was fairly certain he hadn’t seen before. He must’ve been new. They’d used this catering company before, and Harry definitely would have remembered seeing this bloke if he’d been around. He was wearing a different bowtie than the other waiters, just a shade off, and silver braces.

The waiter smirked, seemingly pleased with Harry’s question. He stepped closer and held Harry’s gaze as he lifted the tray up high. “Canapé?”

Harry took one and the man offered him a napkin. His blue eyes tracked the movement of Harry’s fingers, lips ever so slightly parted as he watched him.

“What is it?” Harry asked before biting down. The crisp exterior gave way to something creamy and slightly acidic. He couldn’t quite make it out.

“Is it not good?” The waiter’s cocked his head and straightened his back.

“No, it’s brilliant.” He took another, gingerly placing it on his napkin.

“Doesn’t really matter what it is then, does it?” It was a cheekiness that Harry’d never heard from a waiter before, and a laugh escaped him. Nothing had been normal since his mum announced the party; why should things change now?

He watched as the waiter tried to control his smile.

“What did you say earlier?” Harry prodded, adjusting the canapé on his napkin with his thumb.

The man’s eyes darted around the room, as if making sure no one was listening in on them. Harry was already impressed that the bloke was even speaking with him this way. “That one, George Marlborough.” He nodded at the man Nick was speaking too. “He likes to steal cutlery.”

Harry snorted, the sound louder than expected. He tried to cover up his unexpected outburst by scrunching his nose. “How would you know?”

“S’my job to make sure we don’t lose cutlery, innit?”

“And how do I know you’re not taking it and blaming him?” Technically it was an accusation, but Harry hoped it didn’t come off that way. The man just smiled brighter, his chest shaking as a silent laugh wracked over him. He swept his fringe out of his eye, still balancing his tray with his other hand.

“I s’pose you don’t, m’Lord.” The title was tacked on, as if he wasn’t bothered with Harry’s standing at all. It was unusual, the ease with which he was speaking. Harry was intrigued.

“And how could I even trust you when you haven’t even properly introduced yourself?”

His eyes darted around the room, as if considering the question.

“Louis, m’Lord.” It rolled off of Louis’ tongue, his voice soft and raspy, squeezing Harry’s insides tightly. All the tension in his shoulders travelled to his chest as Louis blinked at him.

“Harry.”

Louis tilted his head to the side. He opened his mouth and closed it again before speaking. “Yes, I know. Pleasure’s all mine.” Louis looked around them. His lips were pinched when he continued, “You should get back to your suitors, m’Lord, it’s not quite proper to let them wait is it?”

Harry almost choked on his drink, and Louis looked pleased, lips tugging up. He tipped his head before turning away.

Harry’s eyes widened in realisation as he watched Louis approach the other guests. Each man who made eye contact with him seemed to preen and smile wider, and Christ. Louis was right. They were all suitors, weren’t they?

His canapé crumbled between his fingers as his hold tightened on it. Right. He’d have to bite the bullet eventually. Louis was right; it wasn’t polite to make his guests wait, however uncomfortable he might be with the situation. He pushed the canapé into his mouth, chewing it slowly as he surveyed the room. Sustenance before battle, and all that.

So many eyes were meeting his, expectations practically radiating off of them in waves. He felt a bit lighter, and more at ease after speaking with Louis. He could do this, he just needed to make the right pick. He swallowed, and settled for George, heading in his direction. He was keen to observe if what Louis had told him was true.

He lifted two glasses of champagne from a tray and approached George, asked, “Another?”

“Why thank you, Lord Styles.” George beamed, and quickly swept the rest of his drink before letting his glass drop between his fingers, the stem dangling between them. Harry wondered briefly if George really was going to try and take the glass. It was a bit big for someone to sneak out.

“Please, Harry’s fine.” He watched as George took the glass that Harry offered and toasted him. “George, is it? Don’t think we’ve formally met,” he said as their glasses clinked together.

George nodded, seemingly pleased that Harry knew his name. Perhaps he should’ve let George introduce himself. “I’ve heard plenty about you. And may extend my best wishes for your birthday, it’s a pleasure to be invited to the festivities.”

Harry’s mouth twisted on instinct, but he didn’t correct him. Harry wouldn’t be surprised to learn that most people at the bash actually thought it was his birthday and the party was a one-two-punch. He sipped his champagne and nodded.

“I’ve heard whispers that there will be some sort of light show after dark?” George whispered conspiratorially, leaning in far closer than necessary.

It had been suggested, and Harry nixed that thought immediately to his mum’s chagrin. He could play along with his mum (and Gemma’s) pretend birthday party, but adding fireworks to the mix really went too far. It’s the kind of thing bound to be discussed at later events, and he already wanted to pretend the evening never happened.

He smiled tightly. “Well, I wouldn’t know, didn’t plan the evening.”

“Oh,” George’s voice dropped low. He cradled Harry’s shoulder, fingers digging into Harry’s jacket. He wouldn’t be surprised if it were wrinkled, considering how tightly George was holding on to him. “I do hope I didn’t spoil the surprise. That just wouldn’t do.”

“We’ll find out soon enough.”

“I’d be happy to make it up to you, just in case.”

He leaned in, close enough that his lips almost brushed Harry’s ear. It was too much, too soon. George’s smile revealed sharp teeth when he pulled back, and Harry did his best not to look too disinterested.

“I’ll be sure to let you know if that’s necessary.”

George smirked, and stared at Harry intently as he sipped his champagne. The intensity was completely unwarranted, considering the chat they’d just had.

He raised his glass again, which was still half full. “I should probably drop this off for now. Pleasure speaking with you, George.” George didn’t seem to be paying attention, eyes still caught on Harry’s lips.

“Of course, please. I wouldn’t feel right monopolising your time just yet.”

George set down his empty glass, and turned to leave. As George moved away, Harry noticed him adjusting the hem of his jacket, before dipping his hand in his pocket, fiddling with something inside. When he withdrew his hand the pocket gaped and Harry could see what looked like the tops of silver cocktail stirrers.

Harry had to suppress a laugh; it seemed that Louis had a correct analysis of George after all. He breathed a bit easier, surveying the room with fresh eyes. He was curious to hear what Louis would have to say about the others at the party.

He surveyed the room, trying to spot Louis’ messy head of hair. Instead, Gemma accosted him, grasping his elbow and pulling him towards the courtyard.

“George Marlborough, wasn’t it? Had a good talk?” She didn’t even wait until the door was closed behind them to ask. Her eyes were wide with expectation.

“George was George. Also the first person I spoke to, dunno what you’re expecting.” A white lie never hurt anyone.

“No love at first chat, then?”

Well. If she wasn’t going to pretend this was a simple birthday bash anymore, neither was Harry. He crossed his arms and fixed her with a serious stare.

“Gem. You have to tell me what’s going on.”

“We’re celebrating.” She seemed taken aback by his comment, and fussed with her hair. Tucking non-existent strands behind her ear.

“What exactly?”

“Your birth? I supposed we could have made a bit more obvious with sparkly banners and birthday cupcakes, but that seemed to be off-theme for the evening.”

“Gem. I’m not that much of a git that I believe that excuse. Mum’s always excited when the season ends because it means we don’t have to spend time with these people. And now she willingly planned a birthday bash for me that I didn’t ask for six months after my birthday. She didn’t even let me invite Niall or Liam! Told me to make a guestlist and vetoed them and all the girls. That doesn’t quite fit with the birthday pretense.”

“Well, they were all present for your actual birthday. Shouldn’t have to celebrate you twice, should they?” She teased, still trying to keep the conversation light. She wasn’t getting away with it this time.

“Gem. Please.”

She slumped back against a windowsill precariously, trying not to wrinkle her dress. “It’s not that deep, Haz. We just wanted to give you a summer celebration, like you always whined about when you were a toddler.”

She fiddled with her earring, tugging at her earlobe. Her eyes darting about. She definitely knew what the ploy was and Harry could be silent long enough to get her talking. He ignored her speech, rolling his lower lip into his mouth.

“Well, since it’s my party I s’pose no one will mind if I just stay out here for the rest of the night.” He leaned back against the wall opposite her, making himself comfortable. He probably could get Louis to bring him food and alcohol. He seemed like a proper rebel.

Gemma watched him with raised eyebrows, and seemed to consider her options. “You wouldn’t.”

“Wouldn't I?”

He patiently raised his glass to his lips, taking the tiniest of sips. He could do this all night.

She bit her lip, and rolled her eyes. “You’re not to speak a word to mum or Robin about this.”

He gestured for her to go on. She sighed, seemingly bracing herself.

“Alright, well. It did actually start on your birthday. Alice said something to mum and Robin, which upset her a bit but she thought it was just Alice being Alice, you know? All dramatic like, and starting gossip. But then at the Ascot Catherine mentioned that she’d spoken to Carl-Philip at their last state visit and it seemed there were some rumblings even on the continent so.”

She took a breath, as if bracing herself. He had no idea where this was going.

“Okay…?”

“Well, so Carl-Philip asked, apparently, whether you were still single, And Catherine said yes. And he asked if you’d been seeing someone, at some point, and well, you haven’t right? So apparently he asked if it was because the aristocracy frowned on same sex dating.”

Harry blinked in surprise. “I-- what? So mum’s afraid of what people think?” That didn’t sound like her at all. He scanned the crowd through the bay window, spotting his mum and Robin chatting with George. His pockets seemingly even fuller than earlier. Robin seemed to be engaged in the conversation, and his mum was listening carefully, attention rapt.

“No. But she was concerned that maybe you were not dating because you thought it’d be easier for us.”

“Oh.” He blinked in surprise.

It was maybe a bit true. He hadn’t really thought about it. Although it did always seem like too much effort, where would he even find a bloke he could date seriously? There just always seemed to be too much going on to ask someone to partake in that kind of scrutiny.

“I suppose that explains the conveyor belt of men.”

“Well, yes. Don’t tell me you’re not thrilled. I’d certainly love this kind of selection. It was a lot of work, you know. Finding everyone, making sure they were all available and at least decently fit. Not quite sure what your type is so at least we didn’t have to be too selective.”

Harry rolled his eyes. “Do we even know if they even like men? Or just here for the schmoozing and cuisine?”

“No one is here for cucumber sandwiches, please. Your choice of menu was abysmal.” She rolled her eyes, and Harry felt a bit proud at getting to her. “I’m sure they wouldn’t all be here if they weren’t at least curious. Who knows, you might be awakening some dormant tendencies tonight.” She waggled her eyebrows, as if it were something to be proud over.

“Curious, right. That’s exactly what I’m looking for.”

“Didn’t realize you were such a snob, Haz.”

“It seems a bit beside the point, no? If mum was looking for me to settle down I’m sure she wouldn’t want loads of press on how I’ve ‘turned’ someone or what not. That’s the kind of unnecessary attention and gossip that would be frowned upon by the Crown. Regardless of how supportive they may be of a theoretical same sex relationship within their ranks.” It came out more bitter than he expected, Gemma’s lips turning down.

“Haz. She just wants you to be happy. None of us care about that, you know that, right?”

He nodded on instinct, but wasn’t quite sure his heart was in it. Not really. He glanced back at his mum, who was looking at him. She blew him a kiss, her eyes filled with mirth. She seemed excited to be able to do this for him, offer up the equivalent of a conveyor belt of men. Regardless of the consequences or fallout. Christ.

As much as this wasn’t the ideal scenario for him, his chest still tightened with the emotion behind her efforts. It would be awkward, as Harry’s encounter with George had already proven, but surely he’d live. If nothing else he could find Louis and banter over the other suitors, as they were.

They stood together in silence for a beat. The festivities continued inside without them.

“I went to uni with some of these knobs, I can introduce you?” Gemma asked, tentatively.

“No, it’s fine.” He raked his fingers through his hair, fingertips catching the tips and tugging them lightly as he thought.

“We can come up with a secret signal if you need to tap out,” Gemma suggested. “Oh! You could stroke your chin. Or do that staring thing where you go all still and get that line between your eyebrows. Should scare ‘em off, at least.”

He laughed, said, “Like a cartoon villain? No, I think I’ll pass. It’ll be fine. S’just one night, isn’t it? I lived through worse.”

She punched him playfully in the shoulder before pulling him in for a hug. A proper, chest crushing hug. Her chin digging into his shoulder. He squeezed back as tight as he could.

“Enough sappiness, now, up and at ‘em, H.” Her face was still tense, eyes not quite as bright. But she opened the door with flourish and let him step inside first.

Harry would make an effort. He would. Just as soon as he found Louis and got more low down on the other guests. It couldn’t hurt to be prepared, could it?

He exchanged toasts with a multitude of men that he couldn’t name while searching for Louis, and eventually found him ducking into a corridor that lead downstairs to the kitchens.

Harry followed shamelessly, his gaze helplessly falling to Louis’ hips swaying as he walked ahead of him.

He probably should’ve said something, but he enjoyed being able to observe Louis unnoticed. His hand came up to adjust his hair as he used his hip to push the kitchen door open. He was fast, already by one of the refrigerators when Harry came in behind him. He opened it and frowned at the contents before shutting the door and moving on to the next one.

“Seems you were right about George.” Harry said, and Louis head jerked up where he was loading a new tray with crab cakes. He seemed pleasantly surprised to see Harry at first, but his expression quickly morphed into a controlled blank.

“Yes, well. Like I said, s’my job to make sure we don’t lose cutlery. What did he take this time? More dessert spoons?”

Louis added sandwiches onto the tray with the crab cakes, which seemed to be an odd mix. But surely he knew what he was doing.

“Cocktail stirrers.”

“Ha! We haven’t even been using those. He’s getting better at this.”

“I can try to steal them out of his pocket for you. Wouldn't want you to be getting into trouble.”

Louis snorted, loud and unabashed. His cheeks flushed as he caught himself, hand covering his mouth.

“He might think you’re after something other than the stirrers if he catches you with your hand in his pocket.”

Harry nodded at that. “I suppose that’s a risk I’ll have to take. For your honour.”

“My honour, you say?” Louis ducked his head. His hair swept over his forehead, almost grazing his eyelashes.

“Mhm.”

Louis didn’t turn his way. His tray was already full, but he simply moved on to another. Almost as if he didn’t want to leave the kitchen quite yet. Harry wasn’t sure if Louis was slipping, or if he was being purposefully flirty. Perhaps it didn’t matter. It felt easy, so it must be good.

“Do you have any other information you’d like to share?”

“About George? Didn’t realize petty thievery was your thing.”

“No, about anyone, really.” About yourself, Harry wanted to ask, but managed to bite his tongue.

Louis raised his chin into the air and bit his lip. “Well. Gregor Rutland is quite grabby. Wouldn’t want to turn your back to him, unless you’d like your bum pinched blue.”

Harry sputtered, choking on his drink. “Speaking from experience?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know.”

He would actually. He would quite like to know. Instead of saying that however, he set aside his now empty glass. He leaned over the kitchen island, flexing his arms.

“Anything else?”

Louis bit his lip, narrowing his eyes. “I have it on good authority that Andrew Beauchamp is a momma’s boy. So unless you’re into third wheeling on his dates with her, I’d steer clear.”

Harry chuckled. “Go on.”

Louis’ tongue darted out of his mouth, swiping across his lower lip, slowly. He looked Harry straight in the eyes. “Graeme Manners. Graeme is into ponyplay.”

Harry’s mouth dropped open, and he choked out a strangled laugh.

“I would ask if you know that from experience, but I don’t think I want to hear the answer,” Harry admitted.

Louis laughed, loud and unabashed. No ducking of his head this time, just a wide smile and crinkles at the corner of his eyes.

“Caught him about to wank in the stables, once. In one of the empty stalls.” Harry must’ve grimaced, because Louis laughed louder. “Nothing happened, s’alright. But I could tell where it was going.”

Harry frowned. He sucked in his cheeks, trying to steer clear of unwelcome visuals. “You work in the kitchen.”

“I'm versatile, aren't I?” The corner of Louis’ mouth tugged up, the double entendre obvious.

Harry swallowed. His voice was hoarse when he asked, “What about you?”

“What about me?” Louis seemed to be expecting the question. His fingers folding up his sleeves, and revealing tattooed arms.

“Do you come with any warnings?” He spoke without thinking, surprised at his own boldness. Louis didn’t seem to mind, his eyes narrowing almost imperceptibly, thumb stroking along his wrist bone. A lovely wrist bone at that.

“Don’t need any warnings, do I? M’not out there courting you.”

“No, you’re in here.”

Louis’ mouth dropped open. Harry could see Louis’ tongue pressing against the roof of his mouth.

“Lord Styles. Are you implying that I’m trying to seduce you?”

“There has to be a reason you’re giving me all this information.”

“Yes, I’m a good samaritan, I am.”

“Or, you’re trying to tank the competition.”

Louis’ eyebrow quirked, tongue darting out over his lips. Very shiny lips. “They’re hardly competition.”

“No?”

It was like turning a switch. The playfulness in Louis’ eyes going dark.

“Why don’t you tell me?” Louis asked, and moved closer. In a blink, his hand was on Harry’s chest, the touch light. As if he were waiting for Harry to stop him.

Harry wouldn't.

Louis reacted promptly to Harry’s stillness, and undid the button on Harry’s jacket deftly. Hands bold as they ran over Harry’s chest and up to his shoulders, quickly removing the jacket from his shoulders. “You came down here after me. Didn’t see you creeping up on any of the other blokes.”

“Were you watching me?”

“Hard not to, isn’t it?”

Harry had to control his breathing, keeping it steady as his pulse raced. No, the others certainly weren’t any competition. He wasn’t about to divulge that, however.

“Surely you can tell me something. I need to make an informed decision, don’t I?” Harry said, keeping his voice as level as he could. He wasn’t quite certain how well he actually succeeded.

From the way Louis’ quirked his eyebrow, Harry would guess he didn’t.

“Well, Lord Styles. Since you ask so kindly. I like to suck cock. Love the way it tastes. The way it feels. Love to tease. Not everyone’s into that.” Louis had pulled away again, leaving Harry to tremble on the spot. He pulled his jacket back onto his shoulders and tugged at the lapels, grateful for the excuse to keep his hands busy.

“I see.”

“Are you into that?” Louis asked.

Harry’s breath hitched. His cock certainly seemed into it, twitching in his pants. “I’m undecided.”

“Is that your way of saying you’ve never been teased before?” Louis asked, curiosity piqued. “I suppose there’s a first for everything.”

“No.”

Louis’ eyebrows shot up in mock shock. “Surely it doesn’t mean you haven’t had your cock sucked before? That would be a proper shame.”

“A bit forward, aren’t you?”

Louis’ serious face erupted into a grin. “You came after me, didn’t you, m’Lord?”

Harry could only swallow, tongue thick and useless in his mouth. His cock was definitely interested now, as were his hands, and chest and belly and mouth. Christ, all of him just yearned to pull Louis in close and fluster him in return.

“I suppose I did,” he said instead.

Louis rolled his shoulders, carefully sliding one hand under each tray and delicately lifting them up. It looked effortless.

“Now if you’ll excuse me. I’ve got a thirsty crowd to tend to.”

He backed away from Harry. His eyes glinting in the dark, sleeves still rolled up and hair a bit dishevelled.

All Harry could do was blink after him. He still had to go out and mingle, but he felt like his face was on fire. His fingers twitching at his side.

He took a detour to the restrooms, letting cold water run over his fingers until they were numb. He pressed his cold thumbs against his eyes, breathing deeply. So he wanted Louis. That was fine. He just needed to get through the rest of the evening, and find Louis at some point and convince him it’d be a good idea for them to go out. Or stay in. He wasn’t quite bothered with the specifics.

With a goal in mind, it was easy for Harry to rejoin the guests with panache. He picked up a kir royale from one of the waiters and smiled warmly at the first bloke who met his eye. All he had to do was wait, and they came to him.

Easy peasy.

He discussed the upcoming dressage championship with Graeme, his cheeks getting flushed. He found his mum and Robin and they did an easy round, introducing Harry to those they’d already spoken to. It was easy enough just to let the others do the talking and nod every now and then, seemed to leave them satisfied for some reason. He didn’t mind not having to think up proper responses though, busy watching Louis’ head of hair as he slalomed between guests, and disappeared off to the kitchens occasionally.

They made eye contact once, Louis biting down on his lower lips. It was a blink and you’ll miss it moment, and Harry was incredibly grateful that he didn’t miss it.

He needed a new drink, fingers itching to do something he really couldn’t do in public. He was scanning the crowd for a waiter when Gregor asked him to dance. Harry wasn’t above creating a dance floor, and he was interested to see if he could dodge Gregor’s sticky fingers, so he accepted.

Harry convinced him that he loved the cha cha, and improvised several moves, since he knew nothing about it. Gregor pretended to be on board, and complimented Harry on his intentionally horrific footwork. He got points for effort and improvisation, at least, but lost some for his dishonesty.

Nick cut in halfway through, and half-danced, half-dragged Harry towards one of the buffet tables. He swept some whiskey cakes into his hand, and steered Harry towards an alcove.

“Heeeey, you promised me a dance,” Harry said, accepting the cake as Nick pushed it against his mouth.

“Did no such thing, Haz,” Nick said, waving over the same girl who’d served Harry when he first came in. She offered them both fresh drinks, Nick grabbing two for himself.

“When you cut in on a dance it’s expected that you finish out the song, at the very least.” He accepted the rest of the cake and was still distracted as Nick spoke to him. He only noticed his expectant stare, and had no idea what he was responding to.

“Wait, what?”

“I said, I must’ve left my manners in the kitchens.”

Harry nearly spat out his drink. “What?”

“You know, when I went down there to cop off with the help.”

Harry let out a strangled noise, and his jaw stretched wide, speechless. “Nothing happened.”

Nick took a sip, and studying Harry carefully. “No, you’re still too wired for an exchange of orgasms to have occurred.”

Harry blinked at him, still in shock. How on earth had Nick known?

“You’re not as subtle as you think, you know. Christ. I can’t believe I’m losing this bet,” Nick said, arm settling heavily around Harry’s shoulders.

Harry’d finally schooled his features into as neutral a face as he could and faced Nick. His grin was maniacal.

“Excuse me?”

“Made a wager with Gemma that you’d escape this night with little to no complications. Hadn’t considered the possibility of pixie waitstaff. Excellent pick, might I add.”

“He’s not a pixie.”

“Well,” Nick said with a smirk. “Not to you I suppose. If you’re not interested I’m can certainly take the lad off your hands.”

He could deny it, he could. And Nick would let it slide, for the evening, at least. But he’d also make it his mission to win Louis over. Harry didn’t think he was much of a threat, but he couldn’t quite be sure. “Okay. It’s exactly what it looked like.”

Nick’s grin widened even more. “You know, he bummed a fag off of me earlier. S’probably still outside, waiting for a light.”

“Oh?”

Nick rolled his eyes. “Christ, go get him you lecherous beast.”

Harry laughed at that. “And leave you with all these lonesome blokes?”

“Who better to console them if not me?”

Harry rolled his eyes and started walking away.

“Haz!” Nick called out, and tossed him a lighter. It landed easily in Harry’s palm. Harry was fizzing with excitement. He’d get to see Louis, now, alone.

“Why don’t you cover my end of the wager? As a show of gratitude?”

“Not a chance.”

*

“I’ve been looking for you all evening.”

Louis didn’t seem surprised to see him, leaning over the railing of the veranda.

“Thought I’d give the competition a fighting chance,” Louis said, quirking his eyebrow. Harry snorted at that.

“A fighting chance? You told me you love to suck cock and tease and then left me high and dry. You think I could think of anything else after that?”

“I don’t know what you’re into. Coulda been the equivalent of pouring ice water down your back.”

Harry exhaled shakily, shaking at the visual. He recognised the game for what it was. But he also knew he didn’t want it to be a game.

He took hold of Louis’ hand, fingers circling his wrist, searching for his pulse. His own skin was humming with want, and he hoped that the smirk on Louis’ face was because he felt the same, and not just because of the thrill of the chase.

“I think. I think you might be something I’m into.”

Louis’ breath hitched. “Me?” He actually seemed surprised, eyes round and so, so clear. He wanted to see those same eyes darken with desire, and crinkle with laughter again. Harry wanted so much.

“Yes? I’ve been thinking about you all night.”

“S’hard to forget an offer to suck cock.” Louis’ tongue clicked audibly on the last words, and Harry bit down on his lip.

“No.” Harry was stern. “I mean, yeah. But no, even before that. You’re a breath of fresh air, you know?”

Louis hummed. “Don’t think I’ve heard that one before. I’ve heard menace, pest...Me mum loved calling me a safety hazard.”

Harry barked out a laugh, unexpected. “Sounds about right.”

Louis scrunched his nose, fingers picking up the fag that was behind his ear. He rolled it in his palm, and Harry couldn’t look away. They were silent for a beat, and another, Harry content to just observe Louis silently. Perhaps this was the time to offer Louis a light, but he didn’t seem eager to smoke. It just looked like he wanted to keep his fingers occupied. And really, there wasn’t much else Harry’d rather look at.

Eventually Louis asked, “Would you like to go out sometime, then?” His casual tone belied by the tight fist he made around the fag.

“Ah, so you admit it, you’re trying to court me?” He couldn’t help but tease. Louis huffed and rolled his eyes. “Thought that was my line, though.”

“Oh, sorry, m’Lord, didn’t realize we were following social rules at the mo’.” Louis’ voice had a playful tone, and his eyebrows quirked. His tongue darted out of his mouth, swiping over his lower lip. Harry couldn’t help but track the movement.

Harry couldn’t help but grin at how easy this seemed for Louis. “Well, in that case I suppose I accept.”

Louis beamed at him, and pushed Harry’s shoulder. Harry grabbed his hand, circling his wrist. He could feel Louis’ pulse rabbiting, despite his apparent calm demeanour. It made his chest feel even tighter, a hot air balloon ready to burst.

Louis voice was quieter when he spoke, “I have to tell you something, though.” His beaming expression melted away and his mouth was pinched.

Harry tried to brace himself for the worst, although he wasn’t quite sure what it could be. He was calm when he asked, “About?”

“How I knew they were all suitors, see. I mean, I have excellent skills of deduction, could’ve worked for the Yard, but.” He rolled his lips into his mouth, his other hand grabbing on to Harry’s. As if he was scared he’d run away. He took a deep breath before continuing, “In this case I knew because I also received an invitation.”

A deflated, “Oh,” escaped Harry and Louis pulled away, wrist easily slipping from Harry’s grasp. That was not what Harry expected to hear. Not at all.

“Didn’t mean to ruin your illusion of an upstairs downstairs type of tryst. Just. I’m a bit more serious than that and I didn’t want to, well, lie.” This was the first time Harry’d seen Louis appear timid, and he didn’t like it at all. “More than I already have, I suppose.”

“I-- no, it’s not that. I’m just. Confused? Why are you working if you have an invitation? I’m a bit serious about you too, you know,” he mumbled the last part, but from the way Louis’ eyebrows shot up he must’ve heard it. His shoulders seemed to relax.

“You don’t even know me, how can you be serious about me,” he said.

“Could say the same to you and you just told me you’re a bit serious so. I like what I do know. And isn’t that the point of a date anyway? To get to know someone better?”

Louis wrinkled his nose. “Yeah, well. So we’re both serious.” He sounded hopeful.

Harry hummed his assent. “Now will you explain how you got an invitation and why you’re working the event instead of mingling? I assure you you’d have stood out even if you were dressed identically to all the others.”

Louis’ face flushed at that, and it warmed something in Harry’s belly.

“I don’t actually work for the caterers, see.” He said it on an exhale, face tense as he dropped his gaze.

“You’re serious?” It didn’t even really come out as a question. But it’s not what Harry expected. Louis’ nose scrunched and he breathed in deeply.

“This was not supposed to happen.”

“This?”

“You know like, actually liking you? Actually having some sort-- I mean. It might be presumptuous of me but I’d say we have a connection, yeah?”

Louis made to grab Harry’s hand but aborted the gesture, no doubt uncertain of whether Harry actually wanted anything to do with him. He reached out and pressed his thumb against Louis’ wrist.

“Go on.”

“I did go to Harrow. A few classes above you. Which I s’pose is how I qualified for an invite.”

“How’d you get through security?”

“I mean. I had an invite, like I said. And well, I was in a rush to get here so I got dropped off in the back. But I saw one of the girls that work for the caterer, I think. She was having trouble carrying some stuff in from their car… So I helped her out?” He shrugged. “I guess one of their staff didn’t show up, so when I lent a hand they thought I was him. And my proclivity for bowties made me blend in. Which was the exact opposite of what I was going for, to be honest.” He sounded a bit put out and offended.

“You did stand out to the right person, even in fake uniform,” Harry said with a smirk, and Louis rolled his eyes. He held onto Harry’s hand gently, fingers stroking over Harry’s palm. "How did you know all that stuff, about the others?"

"I did say I have excellent skills of deduction. And I've seen most of these lads around, awfully predictable, they are."

Harry snorted.

“So...that’s my story.” He rolled his lips into his mouth, slumped against the railing.

“I--” Harry stopped himself, a chuckle tickling his throat. He let it out and Louis looked at him with confusion. “I’m amazed you pulled it off to be honest. So many Harrow blokes here. Not a one recognized you.”

“People hardly ever look at the help. You wouldn’t have noticed me if I hadn’t strayed from the script.” His mouth twisted. “Think I set a bad example for the others tonight, come to think of it.”

As much as Harry hated to admit it, Louis had a point. He would probably have noticed Louis regardless, his bum in those trousers and his delicate hands and cheekbones and sculpted lips--but. Well. But he didn’t remember him from school, or from any events. Which he kind of wanted to kick himself for.

“Why did you?”

“Have you seen yourself, m’Lord?” Louis said, voice lilting up on the title. It made Harry’s insides swoop.

He could feel himself blush, but he resisted looking away, gripping Louis’ hand tighter. Louis still smiled softly at him, and Harry’s chest fizzed.

He couldn’t wait any longer. “Let’s go on a date now.”

Louis laughed, until he noticed Harry was serious. “You’d ditch your own extravaganza?”

“I have it on good authority that my mum just wants me to be happy. And well. This is what’ll make me happy. To be fair I doubt they’ll miss me inside. I haven’t quite been the best host.”

“Harry-- I. Believe me I want to. But I can’t just bunk off and abandon ship.” It seemed to pain him to say so. “I mean, I’m not officially employed but it’ll look bad on their record, you know? They’re short staffed as is I can’t hurt them like this.”

He sounded sincere, and concerned, and all Harry wanted to do was kiss him silly.

“Can I at least get a kiss before we go back?” Harry asked, trying to be playful. He really didn’t want to wait, but he wasn’t about to pressure Louis into abandoning the rest of the staff.

“Duh,” Louis muttered before pressing himself closer to Harry, tipping his head up. They both leaned in at the same time, mouth slotting easily against each other. It was a gentle slide, quickly going from a safe press of lips to hungry mouths and tongues. Louis’ hands were a firm presence against his face. His thumb sliding down to circling around Harry’s pulse. He nipped at Louis’ lip, and Harry could feel him tremble, right down to his fingertips.

He pulled away, aware that if he didn’t stop they’d probably end up snogging madly until they were interrupted by a search party.

Harry sounded breathless when he spoke, “What if I just send them all home? Tell them the search is over?”

Louis rolls his eyes, but from the soft upturn of his lips, Harry could tell it was fond. “Haz, I have to stay and clean up. Probably be up later than you.” He sounded to regret agreeing to stay on for the rest of the night. If Harry tugged at him he knew he could unravel Louis’ will. But he could wait a couple of hours, couldn’t he?

“I’ll stay up.” It came out far steadier than he expected, and he thumbed Louis’ chin. “Come see me when you’re done. Want a proper goodbye.”

Louis’ lips perked up. “Alright.”

Anticipation flared in Harry’s chest. He and Louis wore matching smiles, and he couldn’t help it. He cupped Louis’ face and leaned in, pressing his lips against Louis’ again. The summer air was clammy against his skin, but it didn’t matter. All that mattered was the press of Louis’ lips against his.

Harry opened his mouth, hungry for more, and Louis’ tongue slid against his, sending frissons down his spine. He clutched the starched fabric of Louis’ shirt, wanting to get closer.

Louis whined in the back of his throat, high and needy before pulling away with a sigh. They stood close together for a moment. Harry content to just stay put for as long as Louis would let him.

“You know. If you like, maybe we could have our first date after my shift? If you’re sure you want to wait up,” Louis asked.

Harry couldn’t help but smile at Louis calling it a first date, because there would be others. “I think I’d like that very much.”

“Well, I have it on good authority that my role here is to please the guest of honour. So your wish is my command, sir.”

“You can stop calling me that, Louis.”

“But you like it, don’t you?” His eyes glimmered and oh. Oh, Harry was in too deep too quickly.

*

Louis went back inside first, Harry following after a safe five minutes.

Harry would’ve preferred them walking back in hand in hand so the rest of the guests would know immediately that he was off limits. Then they’d leave all the quicker and Louis’ shift would end and they could have their date.

But it would’ve made it a bit awkward for Louis, so he refrained.

Harry thought their brief disappearance had gone unnoticed until he spotted Gemma across the room. She winked at him exaggeratedly, mouth open. She raised her glass in a toast.

“Would you keep it down?” He asked her, and she scoffed,

“I’ve said nothing.”

“There’s saying nothing and there’s saying nothing.” He gestured to his face, mimicking her earlier expression. “That’s definitely saying something.”

She ignored him and straightened his lapel. He hadn’t even noticed his jacket was a bit crooked.

“Mum will be so proud. Though I think she expected a bit more than a quickie on the veranda.”

“Nothing happened,” he bristled with a pout. Not that he would’ve minded if it had.

“Mhm, that’s why your face is all blotchy and your lips are all swollen and raw.”

His lips felt fine, but he hadn’t exactly looked at himself in the mirror before returning. He lifted his fingers to his mouth, and Gemma gaped at him. Christ, he’d fallen for her trick.

“I knew it!”

“Nothing untoward happened,” he corrected his previous statement.

“But I can collect my money from Grimshaw, can’t I?”

“You know, I’ve been thinking. I should get this money, since this wager was at my expense.”

“Excuse me? You can’t get the boy and the cash. That’s not how it works.” She sounded properly offended.

“You know, that’s just cruel. Gambling on my happiness.”

“I’m the one who wagered you’d score, so really you should take up your grievance with Nick. Once he’s done comforting all your rejects, of course.”

Harry’s gut twisted a bit at that, he didn’t want to intentionally let anyone down. But as the evening progressed it seemed clear no one was brokenhearted.

Gregor asked for another dance and Harry didn’t even have the chance to turn him down before Nick swept in and stole his spot, leading Gregor onto the dance floor with a wink.

It truly seemed that no one minded his absence from the mingling at all. He stuck to Gemma and his mum and no one really bothered him, happy to mingle amongst themselves. His mum didn’t even seem to mind that Harry wasn’t making an effort anymore, which made him wonder what she knew. Did she think the evening was a failure?

He needn’t wonder for long. When they finished their second helpings of chocolate parfait, she nudged him gently and asked, “The waiter then?”

He shouldn’t have been shocked, really. He’d been watching Louis work the room, and his mum had been observing him with mirth the whole night.

“His name’s Louis.”

She hummed quietly, lost in thought. “He looks awfully familiar.”

“Must’ve seen him working at some other event,” he said, hoping his face didn’t give away his lie.

“Harry Edward Styles. Please don’t tell me you’ve been secretly dating this fellow and this whole bash has been in vain?”

“I-- no. We met tonight. Honest.” He’d have to tell her the whole story later. Or never, perhaps. Never sounded better.

“Hm. Well I guess this didn’t quite turn out as I expected.” She tugged him into her side, arm slung over his shoulder. Just like when he was younger and could fit himself against her, reaching just to her shoulders. He hugged her back, nostalgia flaring up in his chest. “But I supposed that’s still a nice surprise.”

She pulled him closer and stood on her tiptoes so she could press a kiss against his forehead. “I only want what’s best for you, love. And to be frank I’m quite relieved. He seems to have a much better head on his shoulders than half of these poor boys.”

“Mum, they’re not boys.”

“Are you sure? Did you speak to George at all? I think we need to have him empty his pockets before he leaves. Seems to think if something’s out it’s up for grabs. Sounds like a boy to me.”

“Mum!” Harry said around a barked laugh. He covered his mouth, but no one was paying attention to him.

“It’s true!” She said, stifling her own laugh.

“Yes, Louis warned me about that.”

“I told you, he has a good head that one.”

“Thanks, mum.” He mumbled from her side, still remained tucked close.

“I just want you to be happy, love,” she said sweetly, fingers stroking through his hair. “I suppose you’ll want to send everyone home now, won’t you.”

He could tell she was raising her eyebrow without looking at her face.

Of course, she wouldn’t let him. Insisted that he be a good host and speak to each guest at least once before the end of the night. “We’ll have to see all of them again, and who knows, might need a favour or two in the future. Best to part on good terms,” she’d said.

She was right, of course. So Harry took it upon himself to play matchmaker. Nick was a thorn in his side, trying to collect as many numbers as he possibly could, but Harry was still quite successful.

He’d lingered in the drawing room for as long as he could, sending off each of the guests as they left. He’d ended up with a few phone numbers in his pocket, but none of them seemed to be invested. It seemed like a reflex on their part, since they hardly gave him a second glance. Some left in pairs, even.

He even tried helping tidy up, stacking plates, and collecting stray glasses to speed up the process, until two of the staff nearly forcibly removed him from the room. They were quite polite about it, but it still happened. He’d only caught a glance of Louis’ smirking from across the room as he stacked trays, lopsided smile firmly in place.

So now, all Harry had to do was sit at the edge of his bed and wait. His shirt was undone, and his jacket hung up and stowed away.

His skin felt tight with anticipation, uncertain what to expect. He wanted to shower, but also didn’t want to risk not hearing Louis’ knock. So he sat and waited.

He needn’t have worried, apparently, since Louis knocked once and then opened the door unprompted.

He greeted Harry with a small smile. He was holding a tray, and had a bottle of champagne tucked under his arm.

“I could’ve been naked in here, you know, one knock isn’t enough to cover up.” Harry said, teasing.

“Yes, I can’t believe you let me down like that. Even your socks are still on. Highly disappointing.” Harry’s stomach clenched at the thought; Louis walking in on him as he lounged about naked. Perhaps it was something he could orchestrate in the future.

“Sorry to disappoint.” His voice must’ve been deeper because Louis turned to him with a wicked smile.

“S’alright, we’ve got plenty of time.” Harry didn’t want to wait at all, though.

He watched as Louis headed to the balcony, and set the table. Aside from the champagne, there was a bowl of trifle and two spoons. Louis gestured for Harry to take a seat, and he did, taking one of the cloth napkins Louis brought and folding it over his lap.

“If I didn’t know better I’d think you were trying to put me into a food coma.”

“A proper date requires food.” Louis scoffed. “‘Sides, they didn’t actually let us touch anything so I’m famished. Watching you eat was double the torture, since I couldn't touch you or the food.” He worked on the champagne bottle, and managed to pop it open, bending down to lick the bottleneck as bubbles fizzed along the sides.

It was doing things to Harry.

Louis poured out two glasses, and presented the bowl he’d brought along.

“This is a Krug Clos d’Ambonnay, accompanied by a sherry trifle with a dash of lavender honey.”

“My favourite,” he said, and Louis stuck his tongue out at him.

“‘Sides, I thought I was supposed to woo you.” He took a seat, and Harry squeezed his knee.

“Already done that haven't you?”

“Well, it’s also your birthday.”

“I’ve got a light,” Harry said, and dug his hands into his pocket, taking out Nick’s long forgotten lighter. He lit up the birthday candle. The flame flickered and illuminated Louis’ face as he leaned in close, pushing the bowl towards Harry.

“Time to make a wish.” It wouldn’t have been an exaggeration to say Harry’s heart stuttered in his chest. He quickly blew the candle out, so as not to think about it too much.

Louis handed him a spoon, and they dug in.

“It's not actually my birthday.” He took a sip of champagne, letting the bubbles burst on his tongue. Louis’d been straight with him right away, it was only fair that he return the favour.

“I know.”

“So…”

“So let's consider it role play.”

“First date and already role playing?” He watched as Louis bit the inside of his cheek, cocking his head.

He really was a tease.

They finished the trifle and emptied two glasses of champagne each before Louis sunk back against his chair. He stretched out his arms, and grimaced for a split second. All the heavy lifting must be making itself known.

Louis slipped his braces over his shoulders and rolled them, hands gripping the meat of his shoulders.

“Let me,” Harry said reaching out. He urged Louis to turn his back to him. Harry’s hand was steady against Louis shoulders he rubbed his thumb in circles, pressing the heel of his palm in deeply, muscles and ligaments loosening under his touch. Louis groaned under him and going a bit slack. His head dropping down to his chest.

He wanted to hear that sound again so he repeated the move.

He was so close. Close enough that he could taste Louis skin if he wanted to. He could smell his shampoo and a bit of sweetness, from the kitchen no doubt. He leaned in and pressed his nose against the nape of Louis’ neck, waiting for a reaction. He stilled but didn't move away. Harry took that as an invitation and softly pressed his lips just below his collar.

He could feel Louis breathing beneath him. He rubbed his hands along his shoulders and down his back, thumbs pressing deep into his flesh, mapping out his shoulder blades.

Enough, Louis said, turning around in his embrace. He clutched Harry's collar, running his fingers down the open front.

And then, quickly, he glanced up at Harry before tilting his head and pushing his mouth against Harry’s. Their lips slotted together perfectly, and Harry couldn't control himself, pushing forward to get more.

Louis got up, their mouths still connected, and came closer. Harry expected him to climb in his lap, but he didn’t. He pulled away, staring at Harry intently with blown pupils and pink cheeks. He leaned in, bit Harry gently on the jaw and dropped to his knees.

“Christ, Louis--”

“Okay?” He asked, fingers deftly working on his trousers. Harry nodded fervently, tendrils of arousal spreading in his belly. Louis leaned in and nudged Harry’s shirt up with his nose, pressing open mouthed kisses against his skin.

Harry didn’t notice that his fly was open until Louis’ hand circled his dick. He hissed at the friction.

“Fuck, Harry.” He licked his lips, breath hot against Harry’s dampened skin. “Your cock is gorgeous. Can’t wait--” he didn’t finish his sentence before sinking his mouth on it hungrily.

“Lou,” Harry gasped, hips jerking off of his chair. Louis was sucking him down with fervour, and Harry closed his eyes, trying to stave off his far too quick orgasm. Louis really hadn’t been lying when he said he loved to suck cock. His tongue was curling around his crown, and Harry gasped opening his eyes, suddenly craving the visual.

Spit was dribbling from Louis’ stretched out lips, but he didn’t seem to care. His cheeks hollow as he moaned around Harry’s cock. He bobbed his head slowly, expertly alternating suction and pressure from his tongue. He moved his fingers to caress Harry’s balls, gently pulling at the sensitive skin and it was too much, too fast.

“Stop, stop,” Harry warned, and Louis pulled away immediately.

He rested his hands on Harry’s thighs, eyes searching Harry’s face. “What’s wrong?”

“Can you please fuck me?”

Louis mouth opened wider, and he nodded.

“Whatever the birthday boy wants.” Louis smirked from down on his knees. He grabbed Harry’s hand and Harry pulled him up.

“So gorgeous.” Louis mumbled against Harry’s mouth. He gripped Harry’s cock again, as if he were unwilling to let it go. “Out here or inside?”

“Inside.” Harry sounded desperate, but he didn’t care. Turning on his heel and marching into the bedroom. He went to his nightstand at once, taking out lube and condoms, tossing them onto the bed.

He shuffled out of his trousers and pants, cock tenting his shirt as it dtaped over it. He watched Louis walk in, hips swaying, champagne bottle in hand.

“Can’t let this go to waste, can we?” He asked, and Harry let out a frustrated whine.

Louis smiled at him, and walked closer. “Can’t believe you’re not letting me undress you.” He pushed the bottle against Harry’s mouth, and Harry wrapped his lips around it greedily. Louis tipped the bottle slightly, so as not to overwhelm him.

Harry gulped down the champagne as Louis undid the rest of his shirt buttons and easily pushing it off of his shoulder. He withdrew the bottle with an obscene pop and pressed his thumb against Harry’s slick lips.

Harry didn’t waste anytime sucking Louis’ thumb into his mouth, suckling at it, teeth gently nipping at Louis knuckle.

“So greedy.” Louis took a swig from the bottle. Harry kneed onto the bed, and pulled Louis with him. He did his best to undress him, as Louis watched him closely.

There were multiple tattoos hiding on Louis’ chest, and Harry's’ mouth watered at the sight.

“So beautiful, Lou, want to taste all of you,” he said, peppering kisses along his shoulder blades. He dragged his teeth down his chest. The taste of Louis’ skin was intoxicating. He had trouble taking off the rest of Louis’ clothes, because he was trying to touch Harry as well. Louis’ free hand confidently stroking his side, and digging into the top of his arse.

“Fuck, Harry, can I?” He asked and Harry had to pull back.

“What?” His eyelids were heavy as he blinked. Louis set aside the bottle and fussing with his clothes as he scrambled out of them, movements languid. Harry could watch him move forever.

“I want to drink champagne from the small of your back,” Louis said, voice rough as he dug his thumbs into the dimples above his arse.

“Okay.” It was all Harry could say, shuffling onto the bed, face down. Louis quickly straddled him, and pressed his palms flat against his back, tracing each of Harry’s ribs.

Louis tongue dipped along his spine, travelling lower and lower, stopping just before the swell of his arse and Harry whimpered. Harry’s dick was still painfully hard, and having Louis hover over him so, so close, wasn’t helping.

Louis chuckled, but caressed Harry’s arse reassuringly. His thumb moving down to circle his rim. Harry jerked reflexively, but tried to push into it.

The snick of a cap was heard, and soon he could feel lube dripping down his arse, Louis massaging it around his hole. He was so focused on the sensation he yelped when he felt cold liquid pooling at the base of his spine.

“Sorry love, ‘m gonna make it up to you,” Louis murmured, and his mouth was there, sucking up the liquid. He kept sucking, while his thumb pressed into Harry’s hole. His nerves were alight and he groaned happily into his pillow.

“Lou, please,” he said, and Louis added another finger, doing his best to scissor them inside of him. The pressure was almost perfect.

Louis’ mouth disappeared, his weight shifting on Harry’s legs, as if he were moving away. Harry whimpered in response. He wanted Louis closer, not farther away.

On a particularly pointed thrust, he felt Louis’ tongue on his rim, around his fingers and he gasped loudly. He hadn’t been expecting it. His entire body was humming and still he needed more.

“You’ve got such a pretty hole, haven’t you, love?” Louis mused before pressing his mouth against Harry again. He was so slick and wet, and soon he felt a third finger pressing against him. He wanted it, he wanted it so badly he pushed back, trying to urge Louis on.

It seemed to work, before Louis was finger fucking him easily. He was making pained noises just from watching Harry.

Harry never wanted those noises to stop.

“‘M ready, please,” he said with gritted teeth, and turned so he could watch Louis. His chest was flushed and mouth hanging open. He almost looked high.

“Okay. Okay.” He looked around the bed for a condom and carefully ripping the foil. Harry watched as Louis put it on, eyeing his cock.Louis winced as he stroked himself with lube. It looked painfully hard.

“Like this?” He asked, and Harry nodded. It wasn’t necessarily his favourite position, but he couldn’t wait any longer.

The muscles in his neck burned as he tried to watch Louis, behind him. He could feel the blunt head of his cock pressing against his hole, and from the angle, he could tell that Louis was trying to feed it into him gently. He wanted none of that.

He wiggled his bum against Louis, and Louis groaned. “Harry--”

“I said I wanted you to fuck me, not gently rock me to sleep. Come on, Lou. Anything the birthday boy wants, isn’t it?”

Louis licked his lips, and shook his head. But he delivered, sliding in with one solid push, stilling when his hips met with Harry’s arse.

“Oh fuck,” he breathed. Harry tried to push back, urging him on.

“That’s the point,” he said, punctuating each word with a pointed thrust.

Louis got the hint, and started rocking into him, changing the angle every other thrust. He was loud, and Harry couldn’t really separate between the sounds each of them made. He felt so full and so amazing, and he never wanted it to stop.

“Up, up,” Louis urged, fingers gripping Harry’s hips and pulling them up. His bum was in the air, and Louis was fucking into his fiercely. He whine at the loss of friction on his cock, until Louis still lube slick hand wrapped around it.

They moved easily together, and once Louis found Harry’s prostate he managed to nail it repeatedly, leaving Harry a whimpering, blubbering mess. “Harry, fuck, you feel so good.”

“You too, feel good, love your cock,” Harry slurred into the pillow. He was shivering, every nerve ending standing at attention. Louis' hands hot like a branding iron as they swept over his hips. He wanted even more.

“Want you to come for me, think you can?” Louis voice was strained and Harry nodded. He could have come several times over if he hadn’t been holding back, wanting this to last as long as possible.

“Want you to, want you to come too,” he said, and Louis laughed. A pained laugh that melted into a moan as he ground his hips against Harry’s arse.

“Coulda come ten times over already,” Louis grits out. “You have no idea, do you, how fucking fit you are.”

The pressure on Harry’s prostate was blinding, and he screwed his eyes shut. He could feel his limbs stiffen as his orgasm approached. Louis’ thumb pressed against his slit and that was all he needed, spilling over Louis fist and muffling his shout into the pillow.

Louis kept pounding into him as he came, but soon stilled, cursing and trembling behind him.

They both collapsed, Louis heavy but comforting against his back.

“Jesus Christ,” Louis muttered.

He pulled out carefully, and Harry turned around, watching as Louis knotted off the condom,dropping it into the waste basket next to the bed. Harry was too lazy to move, and didn’t want Louis to, so he used a corner of his sheets to wipe the come off of his belly.

“You’ll stay the night, right?” Harry asked. He didn’t want to presume.

“‘F you want. Should be interesting doing a walk of shame in my uniform.” Harry could hear the smile in Louis’ voice.

“Mhm, uniform. Loved those braces on you.” He muttered, leaning in so he could kiss Louis. Their limbs tangled together, and they slid over the sheets, making themselves comfortable.

“Best non-birthday ever,” he muttered, and Louis laugh rang beautiful and clear.

“Same, love. Same.” Louis pressed a kiss against Harry’s shoulder, and gripped his hand tightly pulling it onto his chest. Harry had no intention of letting go, either.

Perhaps these second birthday celebrations weren’t such a bad idea after all.