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surrender to the afterglow

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7:47 PM

It's Saturday night in September and Harry Styles has just stepped out of his apartment. He’s in his first year at law school and he’s making his way to a blind date that his mother has set him up on because, like, he's a grown man and that's what grown men do. It's the eighth one he's been on in six weeks and unsurprisingly, they've all been complete flops. The Harvard-attending sons of rich suburban families aren't exactly Harry's forte, but his mother is too determined to stop, especially now that Gemma’s engaged.

“This is the worst thing you’ve ever done, do you know that?” Harry spits into his phone as he crosses the street. “This is worse than when you gave Niall your blessing. This actually tops you letting Niall marry Gems. Can you even understand the full measure of that statement?”

“Harold—”

“You’re my mother, you know that’s not my name.”

The sun has just set in Cambridge and there’s a cool breeze, too early for the cobblestone streets to be crowded just yet. Harry’s seriously hoping he can just get in and get out of this date early enough to get back to his apartment, work on his paper, and still have time to get wonderfully drunk watching reruns of America’s Next Top Model. There's a really hot guy in the competition this season that Harry loves jerking off to.

“Well, if you would stop complaining for two seconds, I could actually think straight,” Anne huffs, exhausted.

Harry pinches the bridge of his nose and continues walking down the sidewalk, cool autumn air making the ends of his navy blazer flap against his torso. He’s not too dressed up for this shoddy date, but his jeans are tight enough to at least make him feel pretty, like he’s worth more than just a blind date in an overzealous town.

“Look, H,” his mother finally says with a sigh. “I’ve known Jay and her family for almost five years now and they’re a great family, sweetheart, nothing like the rest of the families here. And Louis' a wonderful boy, I promise.”

Harry rolls his eyes. “That’s what you said about that asshole Nick, too,” he grumbles under his breath.

“Nick was an honest mistake, Harry.”

“He didn’t even go to Harvard! Mom, he went to Yale,” Harry groans in disgust. The memory of that god-awful date the weekend before school had started makes Harry physically cringe.

“Well, would you like me to fax you Louis' damn transcripts then, Harold?” his mother bites back. He doesn’t have to see her face to know that she's rolling her eyes, far from amused by her son's childish behavior.  

“Sorry,” Harry sighs, knowing this is a battle he's long lost. “Just. No one from Yale again, okay? Especially not ones who just want to fuck and chuck.”

“Just because you are 800 miles away does not mean you get to use such language, Harry Edward Styles," his mother says sternly. "Now, go on your date with Louis and at least give him a chance before ruling anything out. Be nice.”

Harry stops in the middle of the sidewalk and exhales deeply, counts to ten before speaking.

"When am I ever not nice?” he challenges. “And if you keep setting me up with more Harvard boys, mother, I will actually transfer to Stanford just to get away from you.”

He hears her chuckle on the other end of the line, a bright, motherly laugh that makes Harry feel like he's not 800 miles away from her.

“Do you think the ladies from my book club haven’t got sons at Stanford, H?”

“Goodbye, mother.”

He hangs up.

•••••

Cambridge, MA

It’s almost half past three in the afternoon. Harry and Louis have been in the library since seven in the morning studying for mid-terms. Or, at least, they’ve been trying to study for mid-terms, but they keep having to move because no one is willing up to put up with their bullshit while trying to cram for exams.

Bullshit being Louis’ tendency to make Harry laugh so hard that coffee spills from his nostrils. Bullshit being Harry’s fingers lightly running up the inseam of Louis’ pants over and over until Louis’ hard and Harry’s sneaking a quick handjob in the middle of the library while dozens of students around them panic over mid-terms.

Lots of bullshit, basically, and after their eighth hour of studying and fourth removal—second handjob and fifth makeout session—Louis declares himself done for the day, week, and semester.

“We’ve been here for eight hours, Harry," Louis whines. “I genuinely do not think there’s anything more you could learn about EU trade agreements that you don’t already know.”

Louis has long given up on even pretending to study at this point. He’s spent most of the day trying to distract Harry or rile him up, small breaks of actual note taking and revision fitted in between. He’s at about a nine-to-one ratio when it comes to time spent fucking around and time spent actually studying.

“Not all of us have photographic memories, Lou,” Harry mumbles, rereading the same sentence he’s already read four times. “And I really need to bring my grades up. That last quiz in legal writing seriously fucked me over.”

He just needs to focus, but Louis’ making it so hard. It’s only his first semester at law school and he’s somehow already managed to spend more time with his hands down the pants of the president of the Harvard Law Review than he has in class. It’s a shame, really, because Harry’s only known Louis for about three weeks now and if there’s anyone to blame for the demise of his impending law career, it’s his mother. If she’d never set him up on that blind date with Louis, he never would have been in this position—come stains on his jeans and coffee stains on his notebook.

“Hey,” Louis whispers, serious this time as he scoots his chair over so that he’s pressed against Harry again. One arm rests on the table and Harry has no choice but to look Louis in the eyes. He’s wearing one of Harry’s sweaters, an oversized periwinkle piece that he drowns in beautifully.

“You’ll be fine, Haz,” Louis states quietly, reassuringly. He rubs his palm across Harry’s back in circles, making sure to apply pressure in his shoulders where all the tension sits. “You put ten times more effort into your studies than anyone I’ve seen in a really long time, babe. You’re going to ace your exams and you’re going to be an amazing lawyer and you know I wouldn’t say any of this if it weren’t true.”

Harry groans, loud and without shame, and drops his face into his textbook. “I hate you.”

“No, you don’t.” Louis continues rubbing his back with his left hand and starts slowly running his fingers through Harry’s hair with the other. Harry purrs at his touch and goes pliant. Louis can practically feel the tension slipping from his bones.

“Why don’t I take you back to my place and get you in a nice bubble bath?” Louis suggests. “We can have grilled cheese sandwiches in bed and take a nap. How does that sound?”

Harry nuzzles into Louis touch, tucking himself against his chest and sighing. Louis smells like Harry’s cologne and espresso, vanilla and Irish Spring soap from their shower in the morning. “A lot better than staying here for another eight hours,” he says.

“I don’t think anyone in here would let us stay that long anyways,” Louis jokes proudly. “They're probably sick of us by now.”

“You started it,” Harry grumbles back, burying himself deeper in Louis’ arms.

Louis tightens his grip around Harry. “Yes, Harold, it was me who stuffed your hands down my pants and forced you to jerk me off. I started it all and then I did it a second time, too, because I’m shameless and insatiable.”

Harry giggles, nibbling playfully at Louis’ chest through his sweater. He’s like a giant, overgrown kitten, Louis thinks, and it really shouldn’t be as endearing as it is.

You’re the one with the exhibitionist kink,” Louis huffs when Harry tries to bite his nipple. “You are absolutely indecent, Christ. Like an insatiable teenager who’s just discovered porn and you are tarnishing my good name, Harry Styles.” But he doesn’t try to stop him, doesn’t bother pulling away.

Please.” Harry sits up and rolls his eyes as he starts packing. “Don’t get sarcastic with me, mister. You’re the one that drags me around like arm candy to show off to all your fancy lawyer friends, so don’t act like I’m the only one with the exhibitionist kink. You’re the territorial one, Mr. President of the Harvard Law Review, Louis Tomlinson.” He throws the strap of his book-bag over his shoulder and turns to Louis with an eyebrow raised. “I’m practically your trophy wife, minus the diamonds and the tennis shoes. You should probably get on that, too, by the way.”

Louis sits up and begins packing, far too amused at this point. “You wants diamonds, huh? Is that it, now?”

“Couldn’t hurt,” Harry shrugs. “I hear being First Lady is quite the stressful title. I’m sure a nice, chunky diamond would ease me into the glamour of it all.”

He’s already halfway towards the staircase now, but Louis can’t move, is frozen by the side of the table watching Harry walk away. They haven’t defined their relationship yet, not in a proper, verbal discussion, but neither of them have even so much as hinted that this thing between them is anything other than strictly exclusive.

It’s just a thing that includes lots of amazing sex and meeting each other’s closest friends. Endless nights in one another’s beds and crossword puzzles done drunkenly on Sunday mornings. A thing that includes morning afters with shared breakfasts and a drawer for the other in their dressers. Extra towels and a spare toothbrush. A thing where Harry can joke about marriage and wedding rings and none of it will scare Louis, for the first time in his life.

Louis finally catches up to Harry outside the library where he’s heading towards Louis’ apartment in a confident, comfortable stride, as if he knew Louis would come running after him.

“So when I put a ring on it, does that mean you’ll be Harry Styles-Tomlinson, First Lady?”

He slides his hand into one of the pockets of Harry’s jeans and matches his step. Harry, bless him, doesn’t even flinch at this point, not even when Louis squeeze his ass. Simply shrugs nonchalantly with a thoughtful look in his eyes.

“Just Harry Tomlinson, I think.”

Louis’ heart flutters painfully in his chest and spreads warmth all the way down to his toes, despite the cool October breeze.

“I think it’s First Gentleman, though.”

“Hmm?” Louis asks, too distracted by the idea of Harry in a tux, Harry with a wedding ring, Harry in his family.

“I’d be Harry Tomlinson, First Gentleman,” Harry repeats. “With a very big diamond to prove it. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?”

“Oh, fuck, Ha-rry,” Louis groans as if in physical pain. “You’re the worst. There will be no diamonds for you, Harry Styles.”

He tries to pull away from Harry and cover his face, but Harry grabs him and barks a loud laugh as Louis continues to whine. He spends the rest of their walk to his apartment berating Harry for his awful puns and skillfully avoiding the boy's kisses. Louis makes it to the front door before finally giving in and kissing Harry back, head cluttered with thoughts of Harry Tomlinson.

It has a nice ring to it, so sue him.

(He’s in law school, he can handle it.)

•••••

8:20 PM

This Louis Tomlinson, as it turns out, is actually not a punctual person at all. Not very impressive for a third-year Harvard Law student, if you ask Harry. By the time Louis finally manages to stumble inside the restaurant Harry’s already finished the complementary breadsticks and downed his second glass of wine.

“Shit, shit, shit, sorry,” Louis huffs, dropping into his seat across from Harry. “My con-law class went on a little longer than expected, hope I’m not too late.”

Louis, despite his rush, is dressed up in a baby blue button-up with his hair softly pushed aside, khakis tight around his thighs and rolled up to reveal his tiny ankles.

Harry looks at wristwatch. “You’ve got a con-law class at seven o’ clock on a Saturday night?”

Louis finally settles from squirming in his seat to look Harry in the eyes, his baby blues sparkling with mirth. “Why would I lie about having a con-law class at seven o’ clock on a Saturday night?”

“Didn’t say you were lying.”

“You were implying it.”

“Actually, if I were—”

Louis quickly interrupts Harry's little spiel with a rushed, "Can I officially ban all use of legal jargon from this date?”

Harry, to his own surprise, finds himself grinning. “Sustained.”

Across the table, Louis smiles, wide and unforgiving this time and revealing his bright little teeth. Maybe it’s the all the wine in his belly, but Harry’s almost positive that he’s seen Louis on campus once or twice, definitely shirtless at a frat party on one occasion. The latter worries him a little, but Harry chooses to ignore that because, well, Louis’ quite pretty, is the thing.

Totally an objective observation.

It’s just that Louis’ got sharp cheekbones and thin, pink lips and enviably long eyelashes and Harry would like to kiss him very much. And that’s not just the wine or his cock speaking. Louis’ beautiful, easily the prettiest boy his mom’s ever set him up with, and he’s smiling at Harry like he knows he’s gorgeous, like he knows Harry wants him.

Objectively, and all.

“You gonna stare at me all night or you gonna order something to eat, Styles?” Louis grins, pointing to the waiter by their table.

Harry at least has the decency to blush, much to Louis’ amusement.

Two more glasses of wine and a plate of fettuccine alfredo later and Harry’s playing footsies with Louis under the table like they’re 16 again. Louis’ so pretty and funny and Harry’s really glad they banned all use of legal jargon because it means he gets to stare at Louis’ delicious mouth without being reminded about the 20 page paper he’s got to hand in first thing on Monday morning.

Louis must feel the same because he doesn’t shy from rubbing his foot up Harry’s calves or brushing his curls from his face or leaning over to wipe the sauce from Harry’s chin and licking it off.

“Love alfredo,” Louis hums around his thumb, cheeks hollowed and eyelashes fluttering.

Harry spares a glance at the rest of the restaurant, but no one seems to notice their shameless flirting. No one else seems to be quite as responsive to Louis’ presence, either, and Harry goes red, heart racing and cock now painfully hard in his jeans. He’s so tempted to bend over and open himself up for Louis right there in the middle of the restaurant; let everyone see how much he needs Louis’ inside of him right now.

Then again, he’s got a reputation to uphold as a man of the Crimson and he’s pretty sure public indecency wouldn’t look so great on his record, being that he's only just started law school and all.

“You wouldn’t happen to have some eleven o’ clock class to attend, would you?” Harry asks when the waiter comes over with the check.

Louis barks a loud laugh and grabs the check, quickly sliding in his credit card without bothering to look at the bill. He hands it back to the waiter and turns his attention to Harry once more. His pupils are blown and his voice is rough when he speaks.

“Are you trying to take me home, Styles?”

“Who said anything about taking you home?” Harry challenges, but his voice sounds weak even to his ears.

Louis raises an eyebrow and leans across the table, fits his lips against Harry’s ear and whispers, “You’re saying you don’t want to take me home so I can fuck you?”

Harry’s cock twitches in his pants. He gulps, chest heaving and face flushed. Louis sits back in his seat and puts his coat on.

“That’s what I thought,” Louis says when he stands up. “Now, let’s get you home before you come in your pants.”

•••••

Chicago, IL

When Louis wakes up on Monday morning he finds himself immediately going cross-eyed because, Lord help him, there is a post-it stuck to his forehead, dead center and bright yellow. He doesn’t need to read it to know what it says, but he peels it off with enough patience to challenge even Mother Theresa on her finest day, given Louis' circumstances.

Baby!!!!! it reads in capital letters, underlined four times in permanent marker. Louis knows because this isn’t the first note and it isn’t the last. That, and he’s actually seen Harry write these notes out seconds before sticking them on either Louis’ body or their furniture.

He has to give Harry some credit, though. It’s barely past seven in the morning and he’s already found the energy to demand children out of Louis. Which, considering he’s been fighting this battle with Louis for the last four and a half months, is actually not that surprising. Harry probably has some stubborn mutant gene that feeds off of the laughter of fat, drooling babies to make him strong enough to nag at Louis at seven in the morning.

“For the love of God, Harry Styles,” Louis groans, kicking the duvet off of himself. He gets out of bed and opens up the bottom drawer of the bedside table and throws the post-it in there along with the dozens of others that Harry has left over the last few weeks.

‘How much of your salary do you actually spend on post it notes??’ he sends in a text to Harry.

By the time Louis has reheated the breakfast Harry had left him, showered, and gotten dressed, Harry finally replies with a short ‘Baby!!!’ in capital letters. Followed, of course, by all the baby-related emojis available including the smiling pile of poop. Harry Styles, summa cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, sends poop emojis when trying to convince his fiancé to give him a baby. He is actually excited about wiping poop off of a baby.

‘I WILL SHOW YOU POOP!!’ Louis sends with an angry emoji. As he steps out of the house he calls the eldest of his younger sisters and asks for a favor that will hopefully end in his favor. Though, knowing Harry, it probably will not.

By Friday night Louis is exhausted. Some of it has to do with the fact that it’s mid-terms week at the university and his office hours have doubled, but most of it has to with Harry actually driving him crazy.

Louis has woken up to a post-it on his face on three separate mornings—once even after a nap, too. Seven different times he’s tripped over baby toys. The house is littered with pictures of surrogacy options and paint swatches for the nursery. Harry’s even gone so far as tying a pair of baby booties to the handle of the fridge door so that every time Louis grabs something to eat the little bells on the ends jingle and remind him that Harry is childless, God forbid, and the world is coming to an end.

Especially now that Harry has a pair of identical babies in his lap, chubby and gurgling in joy. A pair of babies that belong to Lottie so they resemble Louis enough to have Harry cooing ten times worse than he normally does, a feat Louis wasn't even aware was physically possible. The world is coming to an end and Harry Styles needs a baby more than he needs oxygen.

“Are you sure they don’t need their diapers changed or something?” Louis asks from where his face is buried in the couch cushion.

Harry is on the floor with his back to the couch, Devin on his left thigh and Robbie on the right. They’ve both got their pacifiers in their mouths and bibs still tied around their chubby necks from dinner. They’re the epitome of the Tomlinson gene: unbearably cute and irresistible in their matching penguin outfits.

Maybe that’s just Louis’ biased opinion or maybe Harry has no real self-control when Tomlinsons are involved, but Louis probably shouldn’t have used the world’s cutest babies when trying to convince his fiancé to not have babies.

“I already changed their nappies, like, half an hour ago when you were in the study.”

“Nappies?” Louis asks, picking up his head and resting it on his cheek to watch Harry and the babies.

Harry shrugs. “I’ve been watching a lot of Super Nanny lately. It’s very informative.”

“Dear God,” Louis mumbles under his breath. “How do you even find the time to watch Super Nanny? Don’t you have, like, lawyer-y things to do? Judges to please? Lives to save? Evil insurance companies to defend?”

Harry replies in his baby voice as he continues making silly faces at Robbie. “I’m afraid there’s not exactly a ton of lives in imminent danger when it comes to intellectual property law, Louis.” He’s so distracted that he can’t even speak like a proper adult. Ridiculous. “We can’t all be glamorous constitutional law professors like you, mister hot-shot.”

“Harold.”

“Lewis.”

Louis throws his legs over and sits up, leaning forward with his forearms on his thighs. “You do realize that babies are, like, real, breathing human beings, right?”

Harry rolls his eyes. “Yes, Lou, that’s kind of the best part about them.”

“And this isn’t like the time you decided to cat-sit for all your coworkers at the firm. Babies tend to cry a lot more than kittens and, you know, they don’t exactly lick themselves clean or anything.”

Harry sighs and picks Devin and Robbie from his lap and puts them on the ground with their toys. He tilts his head to the side to look up at Louis. There’s an incredulous look on his face to match his wide grin. And, of course, there’s baby throw up on his collar.

“You think I equate babies with cats in my head?”

“What?” Louis shrugs. “They’re both cute and tiny and you have zero self-control when it comes to either of them.”

“I also have zero self-control when it comes to you.”

Louis raises an eyebrow, “So I’m a baby?”

“No,” Harry smiles widely, “you’re my baby.”

And the thing is, Louis should be affronted because that’s probably the worst line that Harry has ever used—and Harry has used many, many lines, despite the fact that Louis was basically his at first glance. It’s a cheesy, horrible line and it also does terrible things to Louis’ belly that Louis is strictly not okay with. He doesn’t get the chance to even mentally curse his fiancé before Harry is flopping all over his lap and pushing him onto his back so that he’s laid out on the couch once more.

“Gimme some babies, Louis Tomlinson,” Harry pleads with wide, green eyes and a toothy grin. “Pleeeeease. I’ll do anything, I promise.”

And Harry is the worst because he’s irresistible on a good day, but right now with his stupid little pout—plump, red lips out in full force and halo of brunette curls—hovering over Louis’ body where they touch from chest to sock-clad toes he’s. Fuck him, he’s unbearable.

Louis grabs Harry by the shoulders and pulls, causing him to collapse onto Louis’ chest. “You’re simultaneously the best and worst thing that’s ever happened to me, do you know that?” he grumbles as he wraps his arms around Harry’s neck and squeezes.

“Mmm,” Harry giggles, resting his cheek in the crook of Louis’ shoulder so can he continue watching over Devin and Robbie. “Does this mean I can have your babies?”

“You know that’s not how it works with two dudes, right? Mister ‘intellectual property lawyer,’ sir?”

Harry pinches him on the hip. “But I want your babies. Chubby little Tomlinsons wobbling around the house and spitting up on everything. Like, ten of them, I think.”

“You think you want ten miniature versions of me to deal with?” Louis scoffs. “Shouldn’t we work on some Styles babies considering the future of your family rests in the hands of Niall.”

At the mention of Niall’s name Harry physically shrinks, groaning loudly and burying his face back into Louis’ neck. “Please, for the love of God, do not mention my sister procreating with Niall.”

Louis barks a loud laugh that attracts the attention of Devin and Robbie. The two of them look over at Louis and Harry tangled up on the couch with wide, blue eyes before ultimately deciding that they’re definitely not as interesting as the squishy toy cubes they’re munching toothlessly on.

While Harry continues to squirm and whine in Louis' arms about the horrid images he’s put into his head, Louis finds himself staring back at Devin at Robbie, mesmerized by their small hands and itty bitty toes, thin tuffs of chestnut hair and baby blue eyes. They’re the eldest of the Tomlinson grandchildren—and the first of many, according to Harry—but they’re still so small and easily breakable and delicate. Every part of them is the physical embodiment of the miracle of life, and all that sappy bullshit that Harry goes on about. And it’s breathtaking.

Louis’ always wanted children, of course he has, but he’s not ready to be fucked over again, not ready to be a breath away from being a father only to have the adoption fall through and the birth parents decide to keep the baby. He can’t put himself through that once more and he absolutely refuses to put Harry through that kind of pain ever again.

Harry must notice a change in Louis’ demeanor because he shifts down Louis’ chest until his head is resting on his fists, eyes calmer, more determined, and set on Louis.

“We knew what we were getting into last time, Lou," he whispers quietly. "We knew there was a chance that would happen.”

Louis closes his eyes and tries to will away the memories of Harry painting the nursery, Harry picking out baby names, Harry finding out that their daughter would no longer be their daughter.

“I never want you to go through that again, Haz,” Louis manages to croak out, gently rubbing circles into the sliver of exposed skin at Harry’s lower back.

Harry presses a kiss above his racing heart, the edge of his jaw, the cut of his cheekbone. “And I never want you to go through that either, but it’s different with surrogacy, Lou. She’ll be our baby and no one can take her away this time, I swear.”

Louis lets his heart slow down and breathing ease before he speaks again.

“Will she be a Styles?”

When he opens his eyes Harry is frowning, chin digging into Louis’ sternum. “I thought we agreed I was gonna be a Tomlinson. You promised.

“You really want to be a Tomlinson?” Louis’ eyes flicker down to the engagement ring on Harry’s hand, a titanium band lined with small diamonds and a sapphire in the center. It’s not the ‘nice, chunky diamond’ that Harry had jokingly asked for all those years back, but it’s his grandfather’s and it means so much more. “You don’t have to, you know. You can be Styles-Tomlinson or just keep Styles if you want. I’m fine with that, too.”

Louis,” Harry sighs. He leans over and lightly pecks the tip of Louis’ nose. “I’m going to be a Tomlinson and so will our baby. Is that clear? I don’t want to hear any more of this hyphenated nonsense from you ever again.”

Louis kisses the tip of Harry’s nose right back. “But what if I want miniature versions of you wobbling around and spitting up on everything?”

Harry’s face quickly brightens up, smile wide and forest green eyes glowing. “You wanna have my babies, Louis Tomlinson?”

“Oh, God,” Louis groans, throwing his free arm over his eyes, “don’t say it like that, Christ.”

Harry begins giggling and poking Louis in the chest like a child. “You want my babies, Louis Tomlinson. You waaaaant me, you wanna start a family with me.”

“Please, for the love of—”

“You wanna have twenty fat, gurgling babies with me—”

“Harold—”

“You want little Harry Tomlinsons to take care of and coddle and you want—”

“For you to shut up, yes.”

“You looooove me—”

Louis shuts him up and presses his mouth against Harry’s, gives him approximately two seconds to welcome the attack before he’s pushing himself up and crowding into Harry’s space, nibbling on his bottom lip and licking into his mouth.

“Babies,” Harry pants, quickly pulling away. He’s sitting on Louis’ lap now and twists to glance at Devin and Robbie who hadn’t even noticed the PG-13 exchange between the two of them. “We can’t do that when we have our babies,” he says, shaking his head.

Louis rolls his eyes and laughs. “You’re going to have to stop walking around the apartment naked then, too.”

“And we’ll probably have to move into a house, also,” Harry says distractedly, like he’s already making a mental list of all the changes they’re going to have to make. Happily.

“We will if you want ten Harry Tomlinsons wobbling around,” Louis says.

Harry begins giggling and Louis can feel his chest shake where it’s pressed against his own. Harry always laughs so wide and unforgivingly, like he wants the whole room to known how happy he is, wants to share it and make others laugh.

And, yeah, Louis think, that’s exactly the kind of person he wants to start a family with. He wants a family with Harry, a family that spreads their unbearable joy like wildfire and smiles so hard their eyes crinkle and dimples pop. It’s not just about babies, it’s about starting a family together, and Louis wants Harry, wants Harry’s babies and wants ten little versions of his soon-to-be-husband in their house—their home.

“We’re going to do this then, yeah?” Harry asks, voice wavering slightly in anticipation as he nervously draws hearts into Louis’ sweater with his shaky fingers.

Louis looks up at him and sighs, thumbs rubbing in circles against Harry’s hipbones. “Yeah,” Louis smiles. "We're gonna have a family."

•••••

11:02 PM

"Do you do this often?"

"What?" Harry mouths at the sharp jut of Louis' collarbone. "Get fucked by the President of the Harvard Law Review?"

Louis laughs, pressing a dry thumb to Harry's entrance and rubbing it in circles. He feels the taller boy shiver and the sensation fills Louis up in his chest. He's already painfully hard, leaking precome against Harry's hip, and he could do without silly butterflies in his chest from this endearing bastard.

They’ve finally made it to Louis’ bed and they’re finally naked, thank God, sheets tossed aside with a half bottle of lube and box of condoms by Harry’s head. Louis feels like he hasn’t properly taken a breath in hours.

"Have you got yourself a thing for presidents, then?" Louis smirks as he shuffles down to look Harry in the eyes. When his cock slides against Harry's he feels Harry twitch against him, mouth dropping open to pant into Louis' at the rough slide that’s not nearly enough, not even close.

"Love a man in a suit," Harry moans into Louis' mouth, tongue flicking lightly across Louis' lips when he speaks. "Love a man in charge—fuck."

Louis presses in the tip of a dry finger slowly, experimentally, and waits for Harry to adjust to the slight burn before he pushes all the way in. Harry squirms against the bed, doing his best to make the digit good for himself. Louis gets the feeling that Harry’s going to be asking for quite a lot tonight and that doesn’t worry Louis whatsoever. Does the exact opposite, actually, and his dick twitches in excitement once more.

"Gonna need more than that, Mr. President," Harry huffs out in a daze. His breath fans Louis' face, still sweet and warm from all the wine he had at dinner.

Louis swallows Harry’s breath eagerly and presses his body even closer until their cocks are trapped between their torsos and Louis can feel how absolutely flushed Harry is all the way down to his abs, skin a beautiful rosy color. Harry's so beautiful, all pale skin and long limbs, but like this—blushing, goosebumps all up his thighs, pupils blown—he's visionary and Louis wants to drink him in, never stop.

Harry clenches around Louis' finger desperately when he goes to pull out, grinding his chest against Louis’ for some much needed friction on his cock. It gives Louis’ cock some much needed friction, too, and sends a shiver through to his toes, but Louis can sense Harry’s impatience and wastes no time slicking up three fingers and pushing two back in immediately.

Harry hums in relief and goes taut like a bow underneath Louis, squeezing around his fingers greedily as if he's trying to pull Louis in deeper. Insatiable, Louis think, laughing to himself as Harry begins sputtering a string of nonsensical praises. He moves his arms to fit his large hands around Louis' cheeks, kneading the flesh and moving his hips in circles over and over so that his cock continues grinding against Louis' as Louis' fingers move inside him deeper, stretching him open.

By the time Louis' got three fingers inside Harry and stretched him well enough, Harry is breathless and begging for more between sloppy, open mouthed kisses. His voice is hoarse, desperate and Louis can feel blood rising to the skin of his cheeks where Harry is digging his fingers for some sort of release. The burn from Harry's blunt fingers mixed with the wet slide of his tongue against his own fogs up Louis' brain, makes it hard for him to think clearly about his movements.

"M'good, m'good," Harry cries finally. "Come on, Lou, wanna feel you inside me."

Louis thinks it should be illegal for Harry to say these kinds of things when he’s hazy in his movements as is, but it riles him up even more, makes him want to work harder to overwhelm Harry. Despite his lust-drunkenness, Louis manages to pull out and put some space between their bodies as he rolls on a condom and slicks himself up.

Harry moves one of his hands by his head and Louis watches through hooded eyes as Harry twists his long, thin fingers into his curls without being aware he's doing so. His eyes flutter shut as he tightens his grip around a few sweaty curls and pulls roughly, moaning breathlessly at the burn at his scalp. He repeats it a few times, cock leaking hungrily against his stomach and breath becoming shallower, slower, as Harry gets himself off at the pain.

If Louis was unsure he'd last at the beginning of the night, he's absolutely doubting his resolve at this point; Harry underneath him, flushed and moaning and mouth so red and bruised from Louis' own. He wants to press his tongue against every inch of Harry's overheated skin and fuck into him until all he has to do the next morning is tongue at his hole and eat him out before he gets to tear him apart again, no real prep necessary.

Louis' been with enough people in his life, but he’s never been with anyone as responsive and eager as Harry. No one as shameless in their hunger. No one he's ever thought about the mornings after with before he's even had the first taste. Something about all of this feels so much bigger than what it really is—just a good fuck after a lucky blind date. Everything about the way their bodies move together warms the blood in Louis' veins and promises him that Harry's more permanent than all of this.

"Baby," Louis whispers, ducking down to press light, soft kisses across the line of Harry's jaw up to his temple.

With his clean hand he slowly loosens Harry's grip around his curls, causing Harry to flutter his eyes open. Even with just the bedside lamp on, Louis doesn't miss the desperate plea in Harry's eyes. Louis laces his fingers into Harry's and rests their sweaty, entwined hands by the side of his head. Louis lowers himself and moves to line himself up against Harry's hole.

"Ready?" he asks softly, eyes never leaving Harry's. He waits for Harry to bite into his bottom lip and nod before pressing a kiss to his scalp where his curls sit ruffled from the tugging.

Harry is all white hot heat around him, overwhelmingly warm and tight and so good when Louis pushes inside and slowly bottoms out. The sharp bones of his hips press into the soft flesh of Harry's cheeks and it almost feels like too much, almost feels like Louis' going to come right then.

Harry opens his legs even wider before thinking twice and throwing the right one over Louis' shoulder. "Don't go soft on me now, Mr. President," he says with a coy, drunken smile on his lips, already moving his hips to grind down onto Louis’ cock.

Louis closes his eyes and counts to ten just to steady himself before finally giving in to Harry's request and pulling out only to pound right back into him. From there Louis doesn't stop, doesn't give Harry a chance to catch his breath as he thrusts into him over and over and over until the slap of their skin echoes in the room and Harry is crushing Louis' hand in a deathly tight grip.

Harry tightens his grip around Louis’ torso with his leg, pulling him closer as the other foot digs into Louis’ already reddened cheeks begging for more, please. Louis uses his angle to tilt his head to the side and press an open mouthed kiss to the inside of Harry's milky thigh. He bites into the flesh and sucks, continues because Harry's whimpering moans sound so good mingled with the sound of his headboard thudding against the wall. Louis doesn't stop fucking into Harry’s hole, just watches proudly with hooded eyes as a harsh, violety-red bruise blossoms when he licks his tongue against it.

"So good, H," he mumbles into his skin, pressing one last kiss.

Louis burrows his face against the bruise before lightly running the tip of his nose down Harry's milky thigh, pecking kisses every so often until he reaches the v of Harry's hip. The angle causes Harry's leg to eventually slide off of his shoulder and Louis to slide out of Harry's tight heat, much to the younger boy's disappointment, and crouch down. He mouths at Harry's hips with sharp teeth, sucking until his cheeks hallow out. Harry's cock rests neglected, hot and almost purple at the head against Louis’ jaw, but Harry tastes like sweat and musk and a sharp cologne, and Louis doesn't want to stop. The taste of Harry’s skin on his tongue makes Louis so dizzy with lust and he needs so much more.

"Louis."

He wants to see how much longer he can push Harry like this, how much longer he can bruise and bite at Harry's pale skin until the boy comes hot, white ropes on his face, enough for Louis to eagerly lick off himself afterward.

Later, though, Louis thinks as he pulls his mouth off and sits back on his legs.

Harry is a vision before him, legs splayed wide open and bent, chest flushed a rosy red color, eyes brimming with tears, cock flat and slick from precome against his taut belly. Louis eyes drop to Harry's hole, pink and fluttering and dripping a bit with lube already. His breath catches.

"Want you to ride me," Louis finally manages to say.

Harry, despite appearing entirely fucked out in his daze, wastes no time in sitting up and crawling towards Louis, an almost predatory look in his eyes. Instead of facing Louis and sinking down, Harry turns his back to Louis at the last second and twists his neck to find Louis' cock in his hand and line it up against his hole. He doesn't move his eyes off of Louis as he slowly sinks down, one small centimeter at a time, chest heaving and breath catching at the angle that directly brushes against his prostate.

"Touch me," Harry begs when he's finally seated and full of Louis’ cock.

Louis focuses long enough to move his hands and hold onto the curve of Harry's waist, squeezing once in an attempt to ground himself because Harry’s still so fucking tight clenching around him.

"Kiss me," Harry demands, panting with his eyes squeezed shut.

Louis tips over to kiss him, mouth open and tongue out to lick, watching from the corner of his eye as his cock moves deeper inside of Harry, fills him up. The sight of his thick cock between Harry's pale cheeks, opening him wide, brings a familiar tugging sensation in his groin that he takes out on Harry's mouth as he kisses him roughly, desperately, hungrily.

When Louis sits back Harry gets to work and starts to pull himself all the way off until just the tip of Louis' cock is inside him before quickly, with as much focus and determination as he can muster, sinking himself back down. Over and over again Louis watches his cock fill Harry up as he angles his hips so that Louis' thick, pulsing cock brushes against his prostate on every bounce.

Harry wants to make Louis feel good, wants to let him see himself fill Harry up and tear him apart, but he wants to get himself off even more, thinks he deserves to put himself first for a little.

Louis' thighs are burning from sitting on his haunches and fucking up into Harry, but he knows it must be worse for Harry who is absolutely relentless in catching his release. He doesn't let Louis catch his breath for even a second, just continues pulling off and slamming back down with a deathly tight clenched grip around Louis’ cock. So Louis ignores the burning in this thighs and focuses on Harry’s sweat-slicked skin and white hot heat, high pitched ah ah ahs and the twist of his hips.

"L-Lou," Harry cries, "need mo-more, Louis, please. Louis—"

Quickly, Louis gets on his knees and pulls Harry up with him so that his back is pressed against his chest. "Hands and knees for me, baby," he whispers into Harry ear, catching the shiny earring that dangles from his ear between his teeth and nibbling at his earlobe.

Harry moans as he pulls away, causing Louis to bite at it with his sharp canines as Harry distances himself and settles onto his forearms. He arches his back like it’s an art he’s mastered perfectly—and he has, Louis thinks to himself—so that his ass is in the air, positioned like he’s presenting himself to Louis.

At the sight of him Louis nearly forgets that he’s inside Harry already and that he could wreck the boy so easily like this. He drapes himself over Harry's so long back slick with sweat, and presses warm butterfly kisses across his broad shoulder, slowly grinding his hips in small circles. He grabs a fistful of Harry’s hair and moves his other palm so that it's flat against Harry’s lower belly, underneath Harry’s leaking cock.

"Y'good, baby?" Louis asks into the side of Harry's neck.

"Yes yes yes," Harry moans, "just fucking move, Louis, please."

All at once Louis undrapes himself from Harry's back, pulls his fistful of curls so that Harry's head is tipped back painfully, and pushes his hand against Harry's belly so that when he fucks deep and mercilessly back inside him, Harry feels an overwhelmingly intense pressure from both sides.

Like that, Louis continues to pound inside Harry and listen to him yell obscenities, despite how wrecked his voice is and the painful angle of his neck. But he's so good at taking that Louis can't get himself to stop pulling at his hair or slapping his hips against his fleshy cheeks with no remorse.

And when he slams inside of him on one painfully deep thrust Harry cries out Louis' name in a loud, wrecked cry and comes hot and long against the back of Louis' hand shamelessly. He clenches around Louis so tightly that Louis has no choice but to move both his hands to bracket Harry's torso so he can steady himself as Harry collapses onto the bed.

"Fuck, Harry," he pants.

"Don't,” Harry shakes his head as he tries to catch his breath, “don’t stop.” His toes are curled and his eyes are squeezed shut and he’s still coming on Louis' bed sheets as he slowly rocks back onto Louis' cock. "Wanna—wanna get you off. Don't stop, Lou."

Louis feels his chest tighten painfully and he has to mentally slap himself because this is no time to feel fond for Harry Styles, not when he's bottomed out and nearly collapsed on his bed, fucking onto his cock languidly just to get Louis to come. Even in his post-orgasm high Harry is nothing if not a considerate man of Harvard stature, always eager to please.

"Fuck me," he grits out demandingly when he's finally quickened his pace and is slamming back against Louis with no cooperation on Louis’ part. He absolutely refuses to stop until Louis comes, too, and Louis wants to die.

Louis has enough decency to listen and quickly does at gripping Harry's bruised hips—bruised from his mouth and his kisses—and pounds back inside the Harry's reddened and abused hole. In Louis' defense, it only takes four or five more thrusts before he finally catches his orgasm and comes hot and long, more so from everything Harry's done to him that night than anything else.

•••••

Chicago, IL

“Eleven letter word for ‘pain in the ass’?” Louis asks out loud.

Sitting on the other side of their kitchen table, Harry doesn’t answer. He keeps his head down and continues pretending to read the economy section of the paper, mug of coffee in his left hand.

Louis rolls his eyes and huffs.

“Harry Styles. There’s an eleven letter word for pain in the ass.”

“Tomlinson,” Harry finally speaks up.

Louis raises an eyebrow. “Pardon?”

“It’s Harry Tomlinson,” Harry says emotionlessly. He picks up his left hand to show off his gold wedding band in reminder, eyes still set on the morning paper. “That’s fourteen letters. And two words.”

Louis tries to bite back his relieved, shameless grin. “Someone should inform the New York Times about this,” he says.

“I’m sure it’s at the top of their priorities.”

Frustrated with the sarcasm and poor attempt at small talk, Louis finally gets up from his seat and plops right down on Harry’s lap.

“How much longer are you going to keep up this angry pirate thing, huh?" Louis asks, rubbing Harry's studded earlobe between his thumb and forefinger.

Harry only has his left ear pierced. He doesn't wear earrings often though, not so much since law school and definitely not since he started at the firm. He only puts one on when he's angry or pouting—wants to rebel. It's Harry's classic warning to Louis that he's fucked up royally and Louis appreciates that his husband, even though he looks like a pirate doing so, gives him these warnings.

The only problem now is that Harry's been wearing the dangling, titanium cross earring for four days now. Hasn't even taken it off for work or bed. Louis knows it's bad because even the scarves are out and Louis hasn't seen the scarves since... Since law school, when Harry nearly dropped out spring semester of his second year.

Harry's snarky voice brings him back to the present.

“Why? Would having an angry pirate for a husband hurt your chances at running for president?”

“Harold.”

“Don’t you Harold me,” Harry spits. He doesn’t move to hold Louis, instead just goes to pinch him on his hip before finally looking him in the eyes. “I let you have your Senate seat. I gave you that, easily, because you said you’d be happy as a Senator.” His green eyes are vicious and angry—betrayed. “You can’t just run for president without telling your husband, Louis, do you—”

“Harry—”

“Don’t interrupt me!” Harry exclaims, wide-eyed. “I had to hear about this from your younger sister who was literally in labor when she called me.”

Louis shrinks a bit, hanging his head in shame for the first time since the rumors broke out a few days ago. Harry’s been giving him the silent treatment, so he’s not used to this, didn’t expect this sort off reaction, though he should have.

“I haven’t made an official statement,” Louis finally mumbles quietly.

“What does that matter at this point? AP picked up on it four days ago, Louis, which means everyone from CNN to Al-Jazeera has picked up on it by now.”

Harry nudges Louis off his lap and gets up to put his dishes in the sink. His eggs are untouched, toast stale, coffee cold now. He leans against the sink, shoulders tense and hands gripping the counter like his life depends on it. Louis hasn't seen him this cold and unforgiving in so long. Can't remember if he ever has, actually.

“I’ve got the BBC calling me at work, asking for a quote,” Harry sighs. He’s quieter now, but Louis can hear how absolutely drained he sounds. “Anderson Cooper won’t stop emailing me and for some reason even God damn TMZ is bombarding me outside the grocery store, asking me when we’re ‘moving to the White House,’” he air quotes.

Louis doesn’t say anything. He has nothing to say to that, can’t even get himself to stop boring his eyes into the kitchen tiles long enough to look at Harry.

“You made a fucking idiot out of me, Louis.”

Still, nothing.

The girls are at day care with Niall and Gemma's son. It’s raining in Chicago and the radio is set to NPR, too quiet in the background to ease the tension in their kitchen. It’s too cold for March and Louis lets himself think, momentarily and guiltily, that Washington has warmer days than Chicago.

“I knew you were never going to settle for just a seat in the Senate,” Harry begins again, voice strained. “But I told myself to just believe it, you know?” Louis hears him sniffle and breathe out shakily before continuing. “You’re the most hardworking, eloquently pragmatic person I know and I knew that this, Chicago and our family, would never be enough for you. The first night we met you told me you wanted to run for office. You were drunk when you told me that—years ago, Louis. But you couldn’t discuss it with me now? Now that we have two children and a house and a mortgage and a—a—a home? Now that we have everything here in Chicago?”

Harry’s breathing heavily at this point, lungs crushing in on him and throat closing up. Louis finally gets his limbs to work as he strides over to his husband quickly, chest pressed against his back and smaller hands fitting above his own to loosen Harry's grip on the counter. He knows how Harry’s bones ache on rainy days, doesn’t want him to hurt more than he already does.

“I’m not doing any of this without you,” Louis whispers into the back of Harry’s neck, the baby curls at the nape tickling the tip of his nose. “I haven’t made an official statement because nothing is official without you, Harry. You're my husband and I’m not going to do anything if I don’t have you on my side. I won’t, I swear, if you don’t want me to.”

Harry pushes Louis off of him and turns around, face red and breathing still heavy, much to Louis' surprise. He’s fuming.

“How can you put that on me!” he shouts. “How can you say that you’d give up everything you’ve worked for at the snap of my fingers? Why would you put me in that kind if position to—to ruin you? I’m your fucking husband, not some burden you have to seek approval from.”

Louis' never seen Harry like this, absolutely red with anger and disgust and bewilderment, bags under his eyes because this breaking point has been bubbling under the surface for four days now. And it's finally here. They've been walking on eggshells with one another for too many days now, putting on a show for the girls, but it's here, now, and Harry's finally cracked.

“You’re not—” Louis tries to take a step closer, but Harry holds him back with a palm at his chest.

“I’m your husband, Louis Tomlinson," he says with venom. "I went to Harvard fucking Law School, too, in case you’ve forgotten. I am a lawyer and a father and a husband, and you do not get to treat me like some piece of meat. I’m not your old 'ball and chain' and I certainly won’t be you’re fucking joke of a trophy wife."

Louis tells himself to calm down, tells his heart to stop racing so fast and to think seriously, clearly, before he says anything.

“When have I ever treated you like some trophy wife?” he demands, blue eyes stormy and boring into green. “When have I ever made you feel like you were anything less than the glue holding this entire family together?”

Harry drops his hand and rolls his eyes, chuckling humorlessly. “You mean before or after you told the Tribune that running for president was, quote, not out of the question and definitely something I’d look forward to, unquote?”

“One spur-of-the-moment quote and all of a sudden I’ve turned you into some tag-along politician’s trophy wife?” Louis asks, eyebrow raised and voice disbelieving.

“It wasn’t spur-of-the-moment!” Harry fumes. “You’ve been thinking about it for more than ten fucking years, Louis.”

“Then why is this such a surprise?” Louis yells back. “If you’ve known all along why are you acting like I’ve gone and done something behind your back?”

Harry’s jaw drops, green eyes dark and pooling up. He shakes his head in disbelief, tipping it back and squeezing his eyes shut. He takes a deep breath and then exhales shakily, bringing his head down and eyes back on Louis. Still stormy, still pooling up with tears, still cold.

“Do whatever you want, Louis,” he shrugs his shoulders. “Go to DC, run for president, fuck the entire GOP—I don’t care, it’s up to you. Clearly you’re great at deciding these sort of things on your own and I'd hate for me and the girls to get in the way of your dreams.”

He nudges past Louis on his way out of the kitchen and that it. No more eggshells or breaking points.

It’s raining in Chicago and the radio is set to NPR.

It’s too cold for March.

He doesn’t see Harry or the girls for two weeks.

Louis puts out an official statement on a Tuesday.

•••••

5:18 AM

The skies in Massachusetts are a golden pink hue as the sun begins to rise. It’s cold for mid-September, but then again it’s always cold in Cambridge, it seems. There’s always the persistent chill that settles in Harry’s bones, all the way from late August and into early May. He’s never known why—he’s from Chicago, he should be used to it, but he’s not. He’s had the last four years in Cambridge to adjust, but this is the warmest he’s ever felt.

They’ve been in bed for almost six hours now, in the makeshift cocoon of Louis’ blankets where they’ve mumbled and whispered and confessed too much information to one another with too little space in between their bodies.

Harry knows about Louis’ four younger sisters back in the suburbs of Chicago. He knows that Louis’ never been in love, only had two boyfriends all throughout college, and graduated first in his class at Columbia. He knows that November always treats Louis poorly, that the first boy he ever kissed is married with triplets now, that Louis had only agreed to go on their blind date because his mother had called and asked him when he was drunk. Harry knows that Louis wants to run for president, can’t see himself anywhere but the White House.

Louis knows more subtle things about Harry, beyond his four years at Harvard as a sociology major and pediatrician older sister. He knows that Harry bites at the corners of his lips when he’s drinking vodka and that Harry curls his toes when he’s feeling self-conscious, gets glassy-eyed when he’s discussing indie rock. Louis knows that Harry likes to hold hands during sex—when he’s being fucked, when he’s being eaten out, and especially when he’s going down on someone else—he always love to touch and hold, likes best to stay grounded.

After the second time that Harry goes down on him Louis finally leaves the bed to grab them some sort of “sustenance,” as he’d referred to it. No surprise that it had come in the form of Coco Puffs and the half empty bottle of strawberry vodka from his freezer.

And it had sounded like a better idea three hours ago, when Harry’s chest was heaving and body so pliant and soft and well fucked. Sounded like a fucking great idea when Louis had walked into the room naked with an ice cold bottle of vodka underneath his arms, crawling toward Harry and settling onto his lap. And it’d sounded like the best idea when the two of them had downed long drags straight from the bottle as Louis slowly opened himself up with one hand and sank down onto Harry's cock.

They’d emptied the bottle by the time they’d both come, so Harry can’t feel his limbs right now, can’t even feel his lips where they’re pressed against Louis’, lazily kissing with open mouths and loose tongues. It had been the Coco Puffs that had given them the energy to stay up all night fucking, but it’s the vodka that had gotten them properly talking, sharing and picking up on things they would have missed out on if sober.

“You won’t forget this, will you?” Harry asks between kisses, still loose and soft, but awake enough to pick up on the nerves in his belly. “You’ll remember me in the morning, right?”

Louis presses one hard peck to Harry’s lips. “Have you seen your cock, babe?” Louis laughs, “I could never forget you.”

Harry pulls away and pouts, affronted to only be remembered for his dick. Yeah, he’s a pretty awesome lay, but hopes that Louis sees him as more than that. Alcohol aside, there’s a buzzing in Harry’s veins that hasn’t stopped all night, a buzzing sensation that scares the shit out of him because it feels like it won’t stop as long as Louis is around.

Louis must notice Harry’s reluctance to kiss him back because he finally opens his eyes. Harry looks upset, obviously, but he also looks like the vodka’s running its course and he’s in dire need of a cuddle.

Baby,” Louis coos. He moves his leg and wraps it around Harry’s waist, pulling him in closer. “Of course I’ll remember this in the morning.”

Harry’s frown deepens and he buries his face into the pillow they’re sharing. “Doesn’t count if the sun’s gonna rise in, like, ten minutes, though.”

Louis rolls his eyes. “I’m not letting you leave this bed for at least the next twelve hours, Harry Styles, so don’t you worry about some shoddy Massachusetts sunrise.”

Harry opens one eyes sneakily, fingers drawing nonsensical patterns on Louis’ bare chest as he tries to assess Louis’ statement in his semi-drunken haze. “Promise?” he asks.

Louis can feel Harry curl his toes where they’re pressed against his calve. “Are you going to remember me in the morning? Past sun rise?” he asks back, equally as nervous, much to his surprise. He wishes they still had some vodka left.

Behind Harry’s torso the sun begins to rise, pinks and oranges shining through Louis’ big bay windows. It creates a warm halo of light around the silhouette of Harry’s naked body, all the way from his disheveled curls to his chilly toes. For the first time in hours Louis can see the finer details of Harry’s face where the restless bags hang under his pale green eyes and short facial hairs poke out across the edge of his jaw. He looks so much older in the sunrise, like he’s aged a decade overnight, before Louis’ very eyes.

Harry shuffles closer and rests his head against Louis’ chest, gently pushing him onto his back. “I’m scared I’m never going to forget you,” he confesses quietly, nervously.

Louis hold him tighter, closer, because the same buzzing sits in his veins, too. “I know the feeling.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah,” Louis nods. He kisses the top of Harry’s head and closes his eyes, wills himself toward sobriety. “Past sun rise, then,” Louis sighs.

“Past sun rise,” Harry promises back.

His eyes are closed, but Louis can feel the sun as it rises into the sky, sunshine rays melting when they kiss his eyelids. It’s cold for mid-September, but this is the warmest Louis’ ever felt.

•••••

Washington, DC

Louis stares at his plate. Boiled, low-sodium chicken breast. Steamed vegetables. Couscous. A green smoothie. The Meal From Hell meets him again.

Louis looks up at Harry on the other end of the table. Of course he’s already finished his dinner and his smoothie, the smug bastard. His husband has his arms crossed and sits patiently in his mahogany chair, eyebrow raised challengingly.

“Mr. Tomlin—” one of Louis’ aides, a wide-eyed 20-something named George, starts before Harry quickly cuts him off.

“Not until he’s finished his dinner, Georgie darling,” Harry says. “You know that.”

They go through this nearly every night that Louis is at the residence for dinner. Every single night Harry makes the cooking staff prepare some god-awful meal that’s all nutrition and zero MSG or fat or “bad carbs”—or taste—and Louis stares at the food for at least twenty minutes, trying to will himself to eat before trying to escape.

“With all due respect, Mr. Tomlinson,” George tries again, “the President has a briefing in eight minutes in the West Wing that he needs to attend.”

Louis watches nervously as Harry uncrosses his arms and twists in his seat to face George. He’s wearing khakis and a sharp, black blazer over his navy button-up, straight home from another fundraising speech or something, and he doesn’t seem like he’s going to give in any time soon. Not to George, not to Louis, not to the entire legislative body of the United States government.

Which is why Louis’ not surprised when Harry quirks an eyebrow at George and says, “George, sweetheart, would you please inform General Payne that his President is running a little late?”

“Mr. Tomlin—”

“Harry—”

“I said,” Harry repeats through gritted teeth, sparing Louis a stern glare before turning back to George. “Tell General Payne that the President is running late and to begin his briefing, if he so wishes, with Vice President Horan.”

George turns to face Louis with a desperate, stricken look on his face that screams what the fuck do I now! because there’s no actual briefing in the West Wing in eight minutes. Louis had simply told him before dinner to sneak him out if he wasn’t out of there in forty minutes. Clearly, his antics are no match for the First Gentleman of the United States.

Get Zayn, Louis mouths to George when Harry’s not looking. The boy quickly excuses himself from the room with a small apology to Harry.

“Don’t even bother,” Harry sighs, far from amused when George is gone and it’s just the two of them again.

“What?” Louis looks away from the doorway to meet Harry’s challenging eyes.

“There is no briefing in the West Wing in eight minutes,” Harry says. “Liam’s back at the Pentagon, Niall’s speaking at a university in Iowa, and I sent Zayn home an hour ago.”

“Why would you send Zayn home?” Louis pouts, throwing his hands in the air.

“There’s no need for the White House Press Secretary to be at the White House for 47 hours straight, Louis. Grimshaw from the Washington Post was complaining about him taking too many coffee breaks, anyways.”

Louis frowns and pushes the peas on his plate around with his fork. “What doesn’t Grimshaw complain about?” he mumbles under his breath.

Harry had gone out with Nick Grimshaw from the Post once during law school and it’s not something Louis plans on forgetting any time soon, President of the United States or not.

“Pardon?”

“Nothing,” Louis sighs.

“Exactly what I thought. Now, hurry up and eat your food before it gets cold again. Darcy and Harper finished their dinner fifteen minutes ago and they didn’t need their meal reheated.”

It nearly tears Louis’ soul apart, but he fits his mouth around a forkful of couscous and dry chicken and swallows almost immediately.

They’re not the President of the United States,” he says as he stabs a steamed carrot and brings it to his mouth.

“That’s because they’re six years old.”

Louis is dying on the inside, but he does end up eating all of his food anyways—even the horrid smoothie from hell—though it takes him another twenty-five minutes to do so. It’s a shame, really, that he’s the leader of the free world and brussel sprouts make him cry. Alas, that’s where Harry gets the upper-hand in their relationship from: torturing Louis with nutritious meals.

And nothing is bound to change any time soon. Louis is doomed to a future of endless smoothies and brussel sprouts. He will probably be the first president in the entirety of American history to die in office from steamed vegetables. And then Niall will become president and that, really, will be the downfall of their nation.

He would rather deal with the entire GOP and every crisis to ever occur in the Middle East all at the same time than face the merciless ways of his husband. If Guantanamo were still open, Louis thinks, they would probably follow Harry’s Health Regiment From Hell and every inmate in there would open up in a heartbeat.

“Stop pouting about my meals,” Harry reprimands later when the cleaning staff has filed in and started at their job.

He can read Louis like an open book and though that typically has endless benefits, moments like this are not one of them.

Louis rolls his eyes and sits up from his seat. He groans in agony when he notices how painfully numb his legs are from sitting in that damn seat for over an hour under Harry’s watchful eye. It’s worse than 1984 in this house.

As they step into the halls, Harry slides up to Louis and presses a kiss to his cheek, large palm warm on his lower back. “Thank you for finishing your dinner, baby,” he coos embarrassingly in front of some of the staff members they pass by. They at least have the decency to wait until President Tomlinson is a good five feet away before they start laughing.

“Thank you for taking care of me,” Louis replies back, like he’s reading off a script.

Because this, too, is the same every night that Louis is home.

Dinner From Hell. Louis’ childlike attempt to get out of it. Louis finally giving in. Harry thanking him for eating. Louis thanking Harry for destroying his soul, but also taking care of him so that he’s fit to take on every stressful day that comes his way. Harry strong and steady by his side, palm warm on his back as he takes on tomorrows with Louis.

“Love you, Mr. President,” Harry says.

•••••

11:38 AM

Harry wakes up on Sunday in an unfamiliar bed to the sound of Marimba ringing throughout the room. It takes a minute for Harry’s vision to clear up before he’s aware of the warm body draped across his bare back and the light pounding in his temples.

“Ugh, fuck,” Harry groans as he stumbles out of bed. Marimba continues ringing while Harry pats around for his blazer, finally finding it somehow hidden under a pile of Louis’ clothes.

“Hello?” he answers before even bothering to check the caller ID.

“Harry?”

“Oh, God.” It’s as if the pounding in his head gets faster at the sound of his mother’s voice.

“That’s not exactly the greeting I was hoping for,” Anne sighs on the other end of line. “I’m guessing your date with Louis didn’t turn out well then?”

She actually sounds sad, is the thing. Saddened at the idea of Harry’s date with Louis being a complete flop. It makes Harry grin, even more so when he turns to face the bed where Louis’ naked body has inched toward the empty space Harry was just sprawled out on minutes ago.

“Kind of the opposite, actually,” Harry bites his lip. Louis drapes himself over Harry’s pillow, tightens his arms around it and hums contently in his sleep.

“Not a—what did you call it? A fuck and chuck like your date with Nick?”

Harry has to step out of the room to laugh, cheeks red in embarrassment. “This isn’t exactly the type of conversation I’d planned on having with you mom, but no. Not just a fuck and chuck,” he giggles again.

Harry leans against the doorframe, just a few feet from the bathroom where a cool breeze blows in from an open window. He only realizes just then that he’s still naked and a shiver runs through him when the cool air hits his overheated skin.

“You’re not with him right now, are you?” her voice raises in amusement.

God, mom, I’m going to hang up on you.”

“Did you at least use protection, H?” The pounding in Harry’s head gets worse. “You know, I read an article—”

“I’m hanging up now.”

“Tell him I said to take care of my baby!” Harry hears her shout just as he pulls the phone away from his ear and ends the call.

Back in Louis’ bedroom Harry crawls back under the sheets, removing his pillow from Louis’ grip and replacing it with himself. He doesn’t have to do much because even in his sleep, Louis pulls Harry closer to his chest and exhales a soft, pleased, hum. Harry settles in his arms and pulls one of Louis’ legs in between his, gets comfortable. In front of him the sun has risen in Massachusetts and Louis is warm, steady behind him. Harry goes back to sleep.