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i hear it all in the center of my heart (you are the love of my life)

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When it first starts, Harry disregards it as Louis still being in “the honeymoon phase” of their married life – that’s what his mum (and everyone else in the world) calls it. But then it goes on for a few weeks too long; past their actual honeymoon and past their first month together as husbands and past what should have been their First Fight as a Married Couple. Should have been.

It doesn’t make sense to Harry, is the thing. Since they came out Louis’ been a bastard of a sap, entirely whipped and unashamed, worse than he ever was. Getting married didn’t help much either because now Harry’s got Louis wrapped around his finger. Harry takes a breath from across the room and Louis’ by his side in seconds. Harry sneezes and Louis’ already dabbing at his nose with a tissue. Harry says the work cock offhandedly and Louis’ dragging him to the toilets and getting on his knees. So it’s not really a problem, per se, and normally Harry wouldn’t have a problem – he knows the feeling, has since he was 16 – but right now, when he’s angry at Louis and wants to shake some sense into him, it doesn’t help. At all.

Harry yells and Louis does nothing but watch with a fond look in his big, baby blue eyes, trying his best to hold back a stupid grin. It makes Harry even more frustrated because he’s used to Louis fighting back – that’s what they do, that's how arguments work, damnit – but he’s getting fuck all out of Louis. Fighting doesn’t work as well when it’s one-sided, is the thing.

When Harry’s finally stopped yelling and thrown all of their couch pillows at Louis’ head, he deflates and collapses on the floor. He’s seconds away from wailing miserably into the carpet.

And still, his husband’s got a stupid, absolutely patronizing – to Harry, at least – smirk on his face. Harry would typically light up like a smitten puppy in love, but currently it’s making him want to pull out his hair, one strand at a time.

“Why are you doing this to me?” he mumbles against the soft fabric of the carpet, “Do you just not care about my sanity anymore? Is that a thing that’s just supposed to go away when you get married? Are you pranking me again?”

Louis giggles – fucking giggles – and pokes at Harry’s ribs with his little toes from where he’s perched on the coffee table, too amused for Harry’s liking.

“What?” Harry seethes, gritting his teeth together.

Another giggle and Louis begins lightly running his toes against the contour of Harry’s ribs. The feather-light touch feels good; always feels good and relaxing and numbing when Louis touches him like this, but Harry doesn’t want to be fucking relaxed. He wants to yell and be yelled at and he wants Louis to stop acting like some lovesick twelve year old.

It really doesn’t help when Louis coos a fond, “S’just… You’re cute.”

If Harry had wanted to pull his hair out earlier, he’s now considering dousing himself – and their entire house – in gasoline and setting off a match. Because that’s just the kind of effect Louis has on him. Normal, married couple feelings and whatnot.

Don’t,” Harry spits.

He can feel his blood pressure rising which is unusual enough because he’s typically the calmer of the two of them. Was, at least. He’s not really sure how this angry thing is supposed to work, if he’s being honest with himself. 

They’ve been together since their X-Factor auditions and the bungalow and the birth of One Direction. Harry feels like he wasn’t alive before Louis, can’t remember who he was until Louis came along and made him whole.

So even now, almost eight years later, it’s uncommon for them to fight. Here and there there are little bits of bickering, but nothing Harry can pinpoint as a real, proper, all-out fight.

Before they’d gotten married and long before they’d come out, what kept their relationship so strong was knowing how much the world was fighting against them. Knowing it was them versus the world put everything in perspective early on. Harry can’t imagine a world without Louis by his side, on his side.

That same mentality’s stuck with them throughout the years, teaching them how much easier it is to talk out their problems and stand beside one another rather than against one another. Everything they went through, the secrecy and the rumors and the homophobia, they went through together, for each another. They fought to be where they are, there’s no reason to break everything down now.

“Oh, come on, baby,” Louis drawls out, “You’re saying you’re not the cutest around?”

No,” Harry cries out, quickly standing back to his feet, “No, no, no, not today. No. You do not get to sweet-talk your way out of this, Tomlinson.”

He means to be threatening, finger in Louis’ face and all, but he knows what he looks like: a grumpy Goddamn baby bulldog. This whole Attempting to Be Angry but Failing Miserably thing has happened one too many times (with Louis having taken one too many photographic pieces of evidence) for Harry to think that he’s actually intimidating.

He’s really not very good at this whole being angry at Louis thing.

Louis tugs Harry in closer by his belt loops and pulls his husband in the space between his legs, despite Harry’s valiant effort at keeping his feet planted a good two feet away from the source of his newfound headache.

“S’not sweet talking if it’s the truth, love,” Louis murmurs against Harry’s chest.

And Harry tries his best, he really, truly does try to keep the displeased frown on his face, but it’s so damn hard with Louis. Louis with his nicknames and soft touch and endearing eyes.

Harry knows that the key to success is to not look into Louis’ eyes – that will absolutely tear him down. But somehow, as Louis pulls back, Harry finds his eyes moving from his husband’s hairline to the curve of his nose to the bow of his lips, finally finding their place back home in Louis’ wide, glowing, baby blue eyes.

The absolute prick.

“I’m supposed to be mad at you,” Harry mumbles, brows still furrowed despite the tilt to Louis’ head and the smile on his husband’s lips.


“Because,” Harry groans, worn out from the day’s events, “You didn’t tell me you were coming home late today when you knew Gemma was in town, making us miss our dinner reservations and leaving Gems thinking we stood her up. Fuck, Louis, I thought you stood us up. She was sat in the bloody restaurant for a whole hour waiting for us while I was running across all of fucking London losing my Goddamn mind calling you, trying to figure where the fuck you were. And you wouldn’t pick up your fucking phone! Do you even realize what goes on in my head when you do that, Lou? You don’t just get to disappear all day and not tell me where you are or that you’ll be home late or that you’ll stand up me – your bloody husband, and my sister – your sister now, too – the one night she’s in town. You’re not allowed to leave me hanging like that!”

Harry feels a heavy weight sitting on his chest, the same weight that’d taken place when he was leaving voicemail after voicemail in the midst of a panic attack just two hours back. He’s been yelling for so long – spent a good chunk of time crying in the car, too – that he’s just exhausted at this point. As much as he wants Louis to stop fucking around with him and just scream, he wants even more to crawl into bed and pretend that this entire day never happened.

Harry exhales a deep, worn-out breath and falls onto the couch. He throws his head back and closes his eyes, body slumping into the cushions. He can feel the tension in the air, mingled with silence until Louis finally speaks up.

“Hey,” Louis whispers quietly.

“Where the fuck were you, anyways? What could’ve been so important, Louis?”

He doesn’t reply, but only moments later Harry feels the warm weight of Louis’ thighs against his own, knees by his hips and hands pressed flat against his chest. Because he has no self-control Harry's palms make their way to Louis’ waist, squeezing tightly just once before gently resting against the dip of his subtle curves.

Even like this, when he’s tense and frustrated, it’s near impossible for Harry to ignore the voice in the back of his head that gushes over every detail of Louis’ body. It’s a niggling, consistent stream of curves blue eyes cute boy soft fringe silly smile LouisLouisLouis.

“You know, it was actually supposed to be a surprise, baby.”

“What was?” Harry scoffs, “You being a complete dick?”

Despite the lack of humor in his voice, Louis still giggles at him.

“No – I. Shit. It wasn’t supposed to – it’s just that there was this accident on the way there and we ended up—”

“On the way where, Louis? Where did you go?” Harry opens his eyes to glare at his husband. He won’t give into the doe-eyed look in Louis eyes, absolutely not, so he focuses on the freckles that dot the bridge of his nose.

Except Louis’ freckles only ever visit his cute little nose in the summer time and now that the season is coming to an end, Louis’ skin is sun-kissed and golden brown and his freckles are less noticeable. They’re beginning to fade in and God, even his fucking freckles are adorable.

“And who is we? You didn’t say anything about a we,” Harry frowns.

Louis giggles again and leans over to kiss the tip of Harry’s nose, frustrating him even more. Harry scrunches his nose in disapproval and crosses his arms against his chest. He’s now one-hundred-and-twenty-five percent positive that he’s pulling off his infamous grumpy baby bulldog look.

“Zayn, baby. I was with Zayn.”

“Where did you go with Zayn?”


“Are you seriously fucki—”

“—To a tattoo shop!” Louis jumps, quickly straightening up.


Of all the excuses, Harry wasn’t really expecting that. It doesn’t justify Louis’ behavior whatsoever, but now Harry’s slightly more curious than he is angry. Only slightly. Just barely.

“I got, um, something done,” Louis coughs.

“Yes, well, that’s typically what one does at a tattoo shop, love.”

Louis rolls his eyes. “I wanna tell you, but don’t be mad. Let me explain myself first.”

“You know you could’ve done this—”

“Listen!” Louis demands. “I did…a thing for you.”

“Of course,” Harry sighs.

Louis straightens up where he’s still sat on Harry’s thighs, the look in his eyes screaming this is a very important story Harold, please pay attention. Harry doesn’t think he has much of a say at this point, so he uncrosses his arms and motions for Louis to continue.

“Okay,” Louis exhales. “Well. Zayn and I drove to Bradford this morning – like, super early to us, but obviously not early enough because, like, Wednesday morning is apparently the most popular time for all of England to drive into Bradford? Anyways, Zayn has this mate there who owns a tattoo parlor and Zayn goes to him all the time when he’s home so we were like, yeah, let’s go there, obviously, because London is, like, London, you know?”

Harry tilts his head, not sure where this is going. “Yes? London is very…London-y, I guess.”

“Yeah, and, like, I didn’t want paps around and stuff because this was supposed to be a surprise, right? So we went to Bradford, but there was all this traffic ‘cos there was a massive accident on the M1 with, like, 19 or summat cars involved and a Doritos truck?”

“Doritos truck. Got it.”

“So we were stuck in traffic for, like, an extra three hours and Zayn pissed in a plastic bag and we left it in the middle of the road—”

“Louis!” Harry gasps. “That’s illegal!”

“Yes, baby, pick that up with Zayn, okay, he pissed in the bag, I didn’t.”

Harry huffs disapprovingly, “Fine. Continue.”

So,” Louis drags on, “by the time we actually got to the parlor we’d missed me appointment by two hours or whatever and they were super booked that day, too – Wednesdays are also a very popular day to get tattoos done in Bradford, Harold, you should be taking notes.”

Harry taps a finger against his temple. “All up here, babe.”

“Good. Anyways. We had to wait for this lady to get this giant four-leaf clover tattoo done on her thigh before we could get mine done – which is ridiculous ‘cos mine is like one one-hundredths of the size of hers, but whatever—”

“So let me get this straight,” Harry interrupts him again, “You stood up my sister and I, and gave me nineteen and a half heart attacks in the span of half a day just so you could get a bloody tattoo done?”

Louis deflates a little, a soft pout already forming on his lips.

“S’not just a bloody tattoo.”

“Then what is it!”

“Stop frowning first.”                                                         

“Louis,” Harry groans with another roll of his eyes.

“Stop frowning at me or I won’t show you.”

“At this rate I seriously doubt I’ll ever see this bloody tattoo of yours.”

“Not with that frown you won’t.”

Louis leans over and pushes the ends of Harry’s mouth up, forcing him to smile. Harry’s still glaring with his big, green eyes, but that only makes Louis grin even wider and fucking giggle again.

“You have such a nice smile, buttercup, you should try it more often,” Louis coos, pressing his lips between Harry’s furrowed eyebrows.

“Ha ha. Very funny.”

Louis throws his head back in laughter, his entire body shaking against Harry, before happily kissing each of his husband’s cheeks. Louis presses hard, bruising kisses until Harry’s dimples pop and he’s stuck trying to squirm out of Louis’ touch, angry at himself for the giggles that inevitably make their way out.

“Do you want to see the tattoo now?” Louis finally asks between kisses.



“Yes, please.”

“Good boy.” Louis pats Harry’s head with his right hand, smiling so wide that the tiny crinkles in the corners of his soft blue eyes show, reminding his husband that he’s so, so fucked for the rest of their lives together.

Louis then lifts his left hand up in front of Harry’s face and continues to talk.

“Honestly, I don’t know how you didn’t notice it already. I mean, it’s kind of obvious, but…”

It’s the first time since Louis’ walked into the house (from his thrilling escapade across England) that Harry notices his ring finger is wrapped up in a bandage and taped. He isn’t wearing his wedding ring and suddenly something flutters in Harry’s belly. It’s an odd, nervous, much-too-excited flutter that reminds him of the weightlessness he felt the first time they had sex and the day Louis proposed and their wedding as Louis read his vows.

Harry’s not sure what to expect, but it definitely isn’t for Louis to undo the bandage and reveal a tiny, black tattoo on the underside of his ring finger. That looks…

“It’s your heartbeat,” Louis whispers quietly, voice warm and low.

Harry feels a cold, numb feeling spread through his body. There’s a buzzing in the tips of his fingers and his ears are burning and his chest is tightening and this is definitely not what he expected at all.

“How did you… Where did you—”

“It’s called an electrocardiogram. Remember when we went for a checkup last week and you had all those cable thingses on your chest?”

And oh. Yeah, Harry remembers that. They’d gone to the clinic last Monday because Louis had insisted they get all these bloody tests done with flu season being right around the corner and whatnot – because they’re proper adults now and proper adults make doctors appointments all on their own. How the fuck did Harry not notice all the wires attached to him and none attached to Louis?

“I, um, I asked one of the nurses to print a copy out and, like, you have a normal heartbeat apparently so aces on that much, sunshine.”

Harry’s so fixated on the black lines, a sharp peak separating two, almost symmetrical bumpy-looking waves, that he doesn’t hear Louis explaining the details of it all. Words like electrodes and precordial leads and isoelectric lines fly over Harry as he tilts his head and finally moves to take a hold of Louis’ small – so small – hand in his own.

“You… You got my heartbeat tattooed. On your ring finger.”

And now that he’s said the words aloud – now that he hears himself – the weight of how much he loves his husband sinks into Harry’s bones, into every curve and corner and crevice of his body.

“Louis,” he chokes out.

Louis moves to cradle Harry’s face in his right hand, thumbing gently across his cheekbone. “I know we’re kind of covered in matching tattoos and whatnot, but I just wanted, like… I needed to keep you with me always, you know?”

He moves his tattooed hand out of Harry’s focus and drapes it around his neck so that Harry’s got no choice but to finally look him in the eyes. In the warm glow of the living room light Louis’ eyes look so clear, glass-like just like the sharp edges of his cheekbones. It contrasts so beautifully against the soft pink of his thin lips and God, Harry wants to kiss him so bad.

Louis must be reading his mind because he inches closer, nuzzling his nose against Harry’s. His breath is warm, smelling faintly of the lemon sorbet he’d eaten on the car ride back when he begins to speak again.

“You’re just… I don’t know if you’ll ever know how much you mean to me.”

“Baby,” Harry whispers, clasping his arms tightly around Louis’ waist and squeezing once, twice, before his palms move to touch across Louis’ back on their own accord. It’s as if Harry’s body functions entirely on instinct, without him being aware of it, when it comes to Louis. Which, yeah, that sounds about right.

“Of course I know, Lou.”

Louis runs his thumb across Harry’s cheek, pressing into the space where his dimple normally sits before dragging his thumb airily across the edge of Harry’s jaw and resting against his bottom lip. Harry’s lips part under the touch as Louis pushes his thumb against his red, bitten lip, watching the color bloom. His breath hitches, an overwhelming ache to go with the tightness in his chest.

“Do you remember our vows?” Louis asks as he runs his palm down Harry’s neck and stops at his heart. 

“Before or after I started crying?” Harry asks.

Louis chuckles. “You were bawling the entire day, sweetheart.”

“Yeah, alright.” Harry rolls his eyes fondly. “I do remember our vows.”

He remembers Louis’ vows word-for-word, but he can’t recall the exact words of his own. He knows that they’re written down, though, in a journal hidden in a shoebox in the back of their closet.

It’s actually an old journal – Harry’s first one – and the same one he carried when they first started touring. He’d dug it up a few weeks before the wedding and written his vows across the margins of the old, torn-up, leather-bound journal. Louis had gotten him that journal, Harry remembers now.

I never want to be without you,” he mumbles to himself.


Harry shakes his head, focus coming back to the present where Louis is sat on his lap, trying to hide his slight disappointment that Harry’s forgotten his vows. Already.

“No, I. I just remembered that old journal I used to keep, the one you got me?”

Louis nods and smiles fondly. “Yeah, the one you drew stars all over. It smelled like piss, mate, I could never forget that thing.”

“Twat,” Harry scoffs. “I wrote my vows in that book and, like, I remember sitting there and looking through the pages—”

“With a gas mask on, I presume.”

“Yeah, yeah, gas mask on, whatever.” Harry rolls his eyes. “And I remember reading through it, finding this poem I copied down years ago. That was one of the lines, ‘I never want to be without you.’”

He feels Louis sag a bit in his arms and when he looks up, his husband is beaming at him. Louis’ trying so hard to hide his wide, crinkly-eyed smile that he has no control over. He says he absolutely hates it because he thinks he looks like bloody fucking Pikachu. 

Except Harry’s quite fond of Louis. And Pikachu.

“What was the rest of the poem?” Louis asks, a little hesitantly.

Harry closes his eyes and tries to think of the poem he’d written sloppily in black ink on a page with tea stains and stick-figure drawings of Niall. He doesn’t remember writing it and he doesn’t remember who wrote the work originally, but he remembers the poem. He remembers exactly why he’d scribbled it down, Louis’ name scrawled over and over and over again in the margins. Mr. Harry Tomlinson etched into one of the corners.

“And when I touch you in each of the places we meet, in all of the lives we are, it's with hands that are dying and resurrected. When I don't touch you it's a mistake in any life, in each place and forever.”

Harry waits a few seconds, letting the words sink in, before he opens his eyes. Louis launches himself at Harry immediately with the kind of speed and accuracy that comes only from years of practice. He fits his mouth against Harry’s, mouth warm and tasting of lemon when he presses his tongue against Harry’s lips, opening him up.

It’s a hurried, deep kiss that has Louis tugging the hair at the back of Harry’s neck – with his left hand, Harry notes, and he swears Louis scratches at his scalp with his ring finger on purpose – to get Harry to open his mouth wider as if to beg moremoremore I need more of you, always.

“Never,” Louis pants between kisses, “Wanna be. Without you, Haz. Never.”

When he reluctantly pulls away Harry’s eyes are still closed, lips spit-slick and a shiny, deep red color. His cheeks are rosy and flushed, index and middle fingers sliding underneath Louis’ pants as he scratches lightly at the skin.

“In our vows,” Louis begins again. From the corner of his eye he catches the small lines of his fresh tattoo, hand resting against the milky skin of Harry’s neck. “I promised that, um, until my last breath I’d be yours. That I’d do everything in my power to keep you safe and happy.”

Harry slowly opens up his eyes, heart beating so thickly in his chest. Louis must notice because his hand drops to rest against Harry’s chest, palm flat where his heart sits.

“I remember, yeah,” Harry whispers, biting back a grin.

“And I realized, when I was saying my vows, that,” Louis pauses, coughing nervously. Harry knows that means his husband is about to say something horribly cheesy and romantic, and steeles himself emotionally and mentally.

“That, um,” Louis continues, “your heartbeat’s the most beautiful sound to exist.”


“Because, like, it means you’re alive, you know? And that’s the most important thing to me, baby, to have you here. I just…” Louis pauses for a minute and swallows past the lump in his throat, “I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have you. If you never existed. I don’t-I don’t think I could be me without you.”

Harry wastes no time pulling Louis in against his mouth. He quickly moves his hands to tug at Louis’ collar, pressing his chest against his husband’s, a tight fit to match their mouths. He bites Louis’ thin lips, licking inside his mouth, unable to hold back a throaty, overwhelmed moan as Louis pulls at Harry’s hair with his left hand again.

They kiss for so long, so deeply, and with so much tongue and moaning that it gets hard for Harry to breathe. He inhales and exhales from his nose, trying to fight against his natural instinct to pull away. Harry feels so dizzy from so much Louis and so little air and so much tongue, his entire body screaming Iloveyou Iloveyou Iloveyou you’ll never have to be without me.

When he finally does part it’s to pant that statement against Louis’ lips over and over.

You’ll never have to be without me.

You’ll never have to be without me.

You’ll never have to be without me.

“I never want to be without.”

Later that night, after Harry lets Louis fuck into him slow and heavily, chest to chest, all skin and thick drags and quiet, promised pants of alwaysforeveruntilmylastbreathe, Harry lightly traces his heartbeat on Louis’ skin as his husband mumbles sleep-slurred about his day, wedding ring dangling from a necklace against his golden skin.

(There was a puppy sitting in the passenger seat of the Doritos truck.) (Gemma knew about the tattoo, was never in the restaurant to begin with.) (Zayn wept the entire drive back.) (Harry is the love of Louis’ life, this one and the next, all of them and in every world.)