Di dum di di dum di dum dum. Di dum di di dum di dum dum.
Harry groans and tries to turn away from the sound. The alarm gets louder, and Harry feels a strong urge to simply grab whatever’s making the noise and throw it into the nearest wall. Which he shouldn’t, since he set the alarm on his mobile.
“Bloody hell, turn it off,” Louis begs next to him, sounding equally hoarse and miserable. They should probably have gone to sleep a lot earlier than they did, seeing how it’s still dark outside and their flight leaves in less than three hours. Shit, they really need to pack.
“We have to get up,” Harry says. “Morning flight.”
“Sod the flight,” Louis replies. “Lets just stay here forever. Mexico seems like a good place to live.”
“Wish we could,” Harry says, then sits up and pulls away the duvet. “Come on, Lou, up.”
“I hate you,” Louis says, curling into a ball and trying to tug the duvet back up to cover himself. “I take back everything nice I’ve ever said about you. It was all lies. Clearly.”
“Love you too,” Harry replies automatically, and something inside him aches a little as he says it, at how perfectly casual and unimportant it sounds. He leans over and presses a quick kiss to Louis’s hair before shoving him unceremoniously off the bed. “Start packing, I’ll ring down for some tea.”
Louis is dead, deader, deadest. The most dead. Whatever. Point is, he’s in the back of a car, heading to the airport on something ridiculous like three hours of sleep. It’s sadly not anywhere near a new experience, since they have to do it all the time when they’re on tour, but this morning, Louis is both exhausted from lack of sleep and sore from getting spectacularly fucked. So he’s practically a zombie. And, as such, he should be cranky. He can tell from the way Harry keeps offering him energy drinks and snacks every few minutes that he’s expecting crankiness as well, is so used to it, in fact, that he’s placating Louis on auto-pilot.
Louis isn’t cranky, though. He’s dead tired, yes, and definitely sore in places he’s not used to, but mostly he’s just… really, really horny.
Thing is—he thought he’d been having good sex, some of it bordering on great, even. And after last night, he knows he hasn’t, and also what it can feel like, and basically Louis just wants it again and again. Immediately, if possible.
And since he and Harry have to keep up the image of being a happily married couple in front of everyone else, Louis can’t really go out and hit every gay bar in the greater London area to find other hot people willing to fuck him, now can he? Which means that Harry’s whole idea about not blurring lines and keeping their private relationship strictly platonic once they get back home is an absolutely awful idea that needs to go die in a ball of fire.
Louis needs a strategy.
Figuring out why Harry doesn’t want them to keep shagging seems like a good place to start. Everything he’s said so far points to him being worried that sex will somehow complicate things, which—sounds unlikely, to be honest. Piles of sex and no complications sounds like a fantastic idea to Louis. And Harry can’t be worried about himself, because he’s incredibly good at casual. As far as Louis knows, Harry has picked almost every person he’s slept with in the last few years from his circle of friends, and he’s stayed on good terms afterwards with every single one. So why he’d—
This one might be on Louis, actually. He’s a talker during sex, he knows he is. He also knows that sometimes, alcohol and sex in combination make him say a lot of things he doesn’t mean. He freaked El out completely by telling her he loved her and wanted to marry her one of the first times they shagged. In his defense, they’d been in the middle of tour, there’d been sambuca involved, and something about the way her hair smelled that night had made Louis go a little crazy. Still. Bit of not good, to put things mildly.
And since he was completely off his tit both after the wedding and when he and Harry shagged on the balcony, chances are he blabbed out something horrific then. Which Harry might have interpreted wrongly, and then decided that cooling things off was a wise thing to do.
Which means that Louis needs to clear things up. Make sure Harry knows they’re on the same page. And then hopefully push him down onto the nearest horizontal surface and start making up for lost time.
Except when he looks over, Harry is curled up in his seat with his head against the window, sleeping soundly. And there’s just no way Louis can bring himself to mess with that, not with a ten hour flight ahead of them and so little rest the night before. So he does the next best thing he can think of, which is to shift over to the next seat and snuggle into Harry’s side.
It’s fine. He’ll just take a nap, too; they can talk on the flight.
And join the Mile High Club, if Louis gets a say.
Harry is in the middle of his in-flight meal when Louis leans in close and says, “Last night was bloody incredible, you know.”
Conversationally, as though remarking on the weather, or on the food in front of them.
Harry responds by choking on the piece of fish he just put in his mouth.
It’s a blessing in disguise, because all the coughing and careful water-sipping that follows gives him a few moments to pull himself together, moments that he sorely needs, judging from the way his pulse is suddenly racing.
Okay, so. He should probably say something to that. Something nice and easy. Let Louis set the pace and all.
“Um, thank you?” is what comes out. Which, all right, is not ideal. It could have been a lot worse, though, so Harry counts it as a win.
“So, you know how I’ve tended to tell people I’m straight,” Louis continues, still breezy as anything. “Because no matter what I might think about a fit bloke walking by, girls are lovely, so I’ve been lazy. But last night… I don’t even know. Clearly, my arse has a different opinion about my orientation.”
Harry takes another drink of water and tries to keep his brain from jumping right into replay mode. “You can be straight and like having things up your bum, you know.”
“Yeah, fine,” Louis says. “But when the thing up your bum comes attached to a really fit bloke, I’m rather sure most people would place it on the gay part of the scale. Including me. Not to mention all the other things you and I have done together. Rather fabulously gay, all of it, when you stop to think about it.”
“Fit, am I?” Harry says, trying to bring the conversation back to more familiar ground with some gentle teasing while his stomach does little flips in anticipation. What if?
Louis leans in close, close enough to bring their foreheads together. “You’re the fittest bloke I know.”
Harry closes his eyes and breathes in deeply. Happiness is surging up fast, and he’s torn between closing the last few inches of space between them and kissing Louis now, or listening to what else he has to say.
“You’re rather wonderful too,” he says, loving the way Louis’s eyes light up at the compliment. For someone who’s been voted onto ‘Most Handsome’ lists several times, Louis gets ridiculously pleased at hearing he’s attractive. “Dead sexy, in fact.”
“I’m glad you think so,” Louis replies. “Because I’ve been thinking about what you said.”
“Oh? What part exactly?”
“The one about not blurring lines,” Louis says. He turns his head a fraction, stroking the top of Harry’s face with his own, and it takes everything Harry has to keep himself still, stop himself from reaching out and just pull Louis in for a kiss.
“I think we should blur them,” Louis says quietly, right next to Harry’s ear. “In fact, I think we should blur them over and over again, in many different, and possibly slightly deviant ways.”
“I think I’m really gay,” Louis continues. “Bi, possibly, but the more I think about last night, the more I doubt it. I just—I have never felt like that. And it changed things. For me. And it’s overwhelming and bloody scary, but I just can’t—I can’t ignore what it was. So.”
“So?” Harry echoes. His hand is on Louis’s thigh, stroking mindlessly up and down. This is it; this is the moment when it all falls into place.
“So I want you to know that I can keep things separate,” Louis says.
Harry freezes, hand stopping mid-caress, because what? How is—
“I realise I might have said things when we shagged before and I was completely pissed,” Louis continues. “But no matter what it was, I promise I didn’t mean it. I want to keep shagging you. Morning, noon and night, if I can have it, because last night was just—but I am fine with it being nothing more than that. In fact, I think that would be perfect.”
It’s like trying to leap, only to realise you’ve had a cord attached to your back all along: the shock of everything just stopping, of crashing back to the ground. Harry pulls his hand back, mind reeling.
“You really don’t have to worry that I’ll fall for you,” Louis says earnestly, because he clearly has no idea what he’s doing to Harry right now. Probably thinks Harry’s reaction is some kind of—yeah, no, Harry has no means of processing what’s going on at the moment.
“I mean I love you, of course I do,” Louis says. “You’re pretty much my favourite person. But that’s all it is, yeah? So you don’t have to be the responsible one in this. I know exactly what I’m asking for, so let’s just reap all the benefits of our fake marriage and shag like bunnies, all right?”
“Please?” he adds, when Harry doesn’t answer. Can’t answer, because his throat is suddenly impossibly tight. “Haz, please. You have no idea how much I need this.”
Harry ducks his head and closes his eyes, fighting back the sudden, overwhelming urge to lay into Louis for being a bloody, oblivious idiot who can just go fuck himself.
Honestly, what the bloody hell?
He can feel himself close to shaking, and he can’t let Louis see that. Not right now. Can’t let Louis know how pathetically far Harry has let himself fall without even meaning to.
He miraculously manages to get out of his seat without upending the food tray and escapes to the loo, locking the door and collapsing on the lid of the small toilet with his face in his hands. He doesn’t cry—absolutely refuses to go back out with puffy red eyes for Louis to see—so he just sits there for a long, long time, lets his body work out the shakes and does his best to breathe.
Fuck it. Just—fuck everything.
“Harry, mate, you all right in there?”
Harry stifles an ugly laugh. All right, yeah. Oh, he’s perfectly fine. Just had a little heartbreak. Detail, really.
Fuck, he’s so angry. At himself, at Louis; he can’t even tell.
“Haz, open the door.”
Harry watches his hand rise, feeling like he’s seeing somebody else’s movements as the hand slides the lock to the side. Anger is filling him up, blinding him almost, and the thought that he needs to show Louis how wrong he is, how he has absolutely no idea what he’s really asking for, cuts through him like a knife.
He opens the door, drags Louis into the small space with him and pulls him into a rough kiss. Louis makes a sound of surprise, and Harry shuts him up with another kiss, presses him up against the door as soon as he’s got it locked again, and drops to his knees.
His movements are harsh as he pulls Louis’s jeans and pants down. Harry puts both hands on Louis's hips and flips him around to face the wall.
Louis makes it back to his seat in a daze. There’s a definite hitch in his step, and, bloody hell, sitting down for several more hours is not going to be fun. At the same time, he’s riding too high on endorphins to care, so, details.
He and Harry just shagged in the aeroplane toilets. Not once, but twice. And Harry didn’t just get him off with a hand or giving him a blowjob, no—he went the whole nine yards, getting Louis off once with his fingers and then adding his tongue to the mix, opening him up with slow, teasing movements until his prick started to fill again, his body ready for another round.
If this is what having gay sex is like, then Louis never wants to shag another girl for as long as he lives. He wonders idly just how many blokes Harry has shagged to get so bloody good at it. Seems him spending so much time with Nick and his slutty group of friends has had its advantages, after all.
Which, wow—definitely a thought Louis would like very much to erase from his brain. Right away, please.
Harry is curled up in Louis’s window seat when Louis gets back to their row, staring out at the clouds with a blank look on his face that Louis can’t fully read. He looks… tired, mostly, his body probably catching up with the sleep deficit. Louis feels much the same—could probably sleep for a thousand years right now if the world would only let him.
He sits down and shifts around until he’s found a position that’s at least tolerably comfortable, and then moves to cuddle up to Harry’s side, bask a little in the afterglow.
Harry pulls away with a wince, and when Louis looks up, Harry’s face is a study in guilt.
Louis frowns. “You all right?”
Now that he thinks about it, why did Harry disappear to the toilets in the first place? Louis had been worrying he’d said something really stupid when he’d gone and looked for him earlier—that he'd pushed too hard, maybe, or come on too strongly—but then, well. He’d been very reassured about Harry’s willingness to keep reaping the benefits of their situation. Louis smiles at the memory.
Harry, on the other hand, is not smiling. Has turned his head away, even, pulling a little further away from Louis’s touch. Louis waits, feeling a little queasy, all of a sudden.
“I’m sorry,” Harry says, after several long moments. “That thing. Jumping you like that. I shouldn’t have—I’m really sorry if I hurt you.”
Louis blinks in surprise. Harry curls even further into himself, even going so far as to shrug off the contact when Louis places a hand on his arm.
Louis feels like he’s missing something.
“I beg to differ,” he says carefully. “That thing was absolutely brilliant. In fact, feel free to do it again any time you want.”
“I was out of control,” Harry protests. “That was definitely too rough. Shit, you just had your first time last night. You needed to rest up, and I just—”
“Hazza,” Louis interrupts, smiling again now, because trust Harry to get his knickers in a twist about something so simple. “Don’t worry, all right? Yeah, last night might have been my first time getting buggered, but I’m hardly a blushing virgin. I can handle it a bit rough. In fact…” He lets the sentence trail off, illustrates his point by taking Harry’s hand in his and brushing it surreptitiously over his groin.
Harry shakes his head unhappily, but after a little bit of time, there’s also the smallest hint of a smile at the corner of his mouth. “You’re impossible.”
“True,” Louis agrees. “It’s why you love me, after all.”
Harry is quiet for a long while, just sitting there, staring blankly at the sky and clouds outside. Then he turns towards Louis and moves in close, puts his head on Louis’s shoulder. “Yeah. I guess it is.”
He squeezes Louis’s hand, then wraps it up in both of his, and everything just rights itself. They’re good. More than good—considering the events of the past hour, they’re absolutely perfect.
Louis hums happily and presses a kiss into Harry’s hair.
Heathrow is absolutely swarming with paps.
They’ve had it bad before: when leaving for or getting back from tours; when the film premiered; whenever Harry had a high-profile “girlfriend”.
All of those instances put together have nothing on this.
“Harry, who tops?”
“Louis, are you taking it up the arse, then?”
“Hey, fags, look here!”
“Give us a snog, come on!”
“Harry, mate, give your husband a kiss for the camera!”
Harry keeps his head down and tries to move as quickly as possible. Louis is right next to him with a protective hand around his waist, steering him through the madness and mouthing off to the paps left and right. Harry wants to tell him not to bother, that he’ll only make it worse, but he knows from experience that Louis won’t listen, so he stays quiet and just keeps walking instead.
They’ve got security meeting them, thankfully, so it’s not long until they’re packed into a car and driving off. Harry slumps back into the seat.
“Bloody hell,” Louis says. “That was absolutely mental. Bloody nerve of some people, honestly.”
Harry swallows. “Is this what it’s going to be like now, do you think? People shouting rude things at us wherever we go?”
“They were already shouting rude things,” Louis replies. “They’ve just added a gay twist to it, is all.”
“I figure they’ll get bored with the fag angle eventually,” Louis says. “At least I bloody hope so, because no matter how long we decide to stick with this marriage thing, I plan to be out from now on. Gay all the way. And the more it bothers people, the more I’m going to play it up, because fuck them, right? Homophobia needs to be outdated already.”
There’s a fierce note of pride in his voice, which sends a small shiver down Harry’s spine. Louis is formidable when he’s passionate about something, and Harry wants to stand right next to him on the barricades, shouting to people until his voice gives out.
He really is utterly fucked.
The anger from earlier has faded by now. Was pretty much fucked right out of him, if he’s honest. The crushing guilt still lingers, but it’s a shadow at the back of his mind rather than a vivid presence now, easy to forget.
Far too easy.
“We’re about twenty-five minutes away from Mr Tomlinson’s residence,” their driver tells them from the front. “I’ve been instructed to drop both of you off there, unless Mr Styles has other plans?”
Harry hesitates. If he’s smart, he’ll tell the driver to let him off at Nick’s. It would hurt Louis, yes—Louis, who’s looking at Harry right now with so much fucking hope and excitement in his eyes—but definitely a lot less than it will hurt Harry to move back in and be a casual fling for someone he’s managed to fall helplessly in love with.
Because if he moves back in, they will end up shagging again. Of course they will. Even through the mess of anger, hurt and a hundred other conflicted emotions quietly keeping up the fight for dominance inside him at the moment, Harry knows that all it will take is Louis leaning in for a kiss, and Harry’s resolve to keep a bit of distance between them will shatter.
And unlike yesterday, when he thought Louis might want more than just sex as well, he knows better now. So he should cut and run. He should.
“You can drop us off together,” he says, and the words make him feel inexplicably lighter somehow. At least he’s made his choice—taken a leap of faith (or delusion, more like), and if (when) he crashes and burns, well. So be it.
He reaches for Louis’s hand and weaves their fingers tightly together.
For better and for worse.
Louis’s home has been invaded by wedding gifts.
He and Harry carefully navigate their way past piles upon piles of brightly wrapped boxes on their way to the upper floor to drop off their bags. The sitting room looks like a flower shop exploded all over it, and the kitchen is covered in fruit baskets, chocolate and enough bottles of champagne to open up an off licence.
Someone has been trying to arrange everything, it seems, because some things are grouped and put in neat rows, before whoever did it obviously got sick of the project and left the rest of the stuff wherever there was a spot of floor left open. Louis suspects Liam. And Zayn’s probably the one who got him to stop.
“Can you believe this?” he asks as Harry comes up next to him, carrying a blender with a big purple bow. “Who is all this even from? Do you have a million invisible friends you’ve never told me about?”
“General celebrity gifts, I’d guess,” Harry replies. He puts down the blender and picks up one of the boxes from the floor. “Look, this one’s from David Beckham.”
“Are you having me on right now?” Louis exclaims. “Really? Give it here!”
Harry hands over the box, and Louis tears into it excitedly.
It’s a football. Clearly used, and signed by not only Becks, but by most of the national team. The card accompanying it says, Nicked this at the last World Cup. Wedding gifts are boring. Thought you’d like something a bit more fun.
Louis just stares at the ball for several long minutes. It’s possibly the nicest gift he’s ever received from someone not part of the band or his family. Harry peeks at the card over Louis’s shoulder.
“That’s pretty ace.”
“Right?” Louis replies, turning the ball around to read the autographs on the other side. “Who is that big one on the stove from?”
“Stephen Fry,” Harry says once he’s opened it. “Card says, Welcome to the club. You do us proud, gentlemen.”
“Intimidating?” Harry suggests.
“A bit, yeah.”
Harry is quiet for a while, busying himself with looking through the piles of gifts while Louis starts working on putting the champagne bottles into the fridge.
He’s filled up most of the shelves (one good thing about having absolutely no food at home—plenty of free space) when he hears Harry pull in a sharp breath. He’s standing by the counter, looking through a book of some kind. Louis’s interest is peaked.
Harry looks up and seems to hesitate for a second before taking a step to the side, making room for Louis to come stand next to him. “It’s from some of the fans. Photo album.”
“That’s sweet of them,” Louis says. “What kind of photos?”
“See for yourself.”
Louis closes the fridge and walks over to him. The spread Harry is looking at is full of pictures from their first year as a band, back when they were gangly and awkward and trying to catch up with their sudden popularity. There’s a still from one of their video diaries, with the five of them on a flight of stairs, a blindfold covering Louis’s face as he and Harry high-five each other with big smiles on their faces. Wow, they were all so very young back then.
“They’re all of us,” Harry says. “Our relationship right from the start, according to the note. Larry Stylinson: A Love Story.”
Louis snorts. “Guess we made all the shippers very happy.”
“Guess we did,” Harry replies, and then flips the album shut with more force than strictly necessary. “Do you have any take out menus around somewhere? I’m starving.”
Louis gives him a ‘you’re weird’-look but goes to collect a stack of fliers from beneath the cutlery drawer. “Pizza or Indian?”
“Pizza,” Harry replies. “One that’s big enough to give me a five-months-along food baby and put me in a coma, please.”
Louis grins and pulls out his mobile.
“I am so full,” Harry tells the kitchen table. He put his head down to rest for a minute after he finished the last slice. It’s been a while since. “Not sure if I’ll be able to ever move again. You might have to carry me around on stage for next tour.”
Louis laughs at him. “Would you like a mint?”
“But they’re wafer thin,” Louis says innocently, then laughs some more.
Harry manages to lift a single finger in his general direction.
“All right,” Louis says, “you’re knackered. Come on, bed.”
Harry lets himself be manhandled away from the kitchen, takes the opportunity of Louis half-carrying him up the stairs to bury his face in his neck for a little while. He wants to wrap his arms around Louis’s chest and hold on tight, tug him closer until every single part of their bodies are touching and Harry forgets what it feels like to be on his own.
He can’t, though. For a whole string of reasons.
95% of him doesn’t seem to care. Jesus, when did he become such a glutton for punishment?
“So, what room should I sleep in?” he asks, pushing himself off of Louis and putting a few important inches of space between them.
“I was thinking—with me?” Louis replies. He looks unsure and adorably eager. Harry really needs to start building up some kind of resistance to that expression. “I mean, why not, right?” Louis continues. “Convenience and all that.”
“You kick in your sleep.”
“And you do the octopus thing,” Louis counters. “But I still—I don’t know. I just like having you there.”
Something in Harry’s chest does a treacherous little flip. “Yeah?”
“Always sleep better when you’re in my bed,” Louis says. He pulls Harry close again, slides an arm around his waist. “Come cuddle with me.”
Sod it. Harry doesn’t even know why he tries to object anymore. He might as well just go for it and take what he can before Louis tires of their arrangement. “All right. But if you kick me, I’m moving.”
“Fair enough,” Louis says. “Now come to bed.”