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We Will Find Our Way

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Shivering in his oversized coat, Louis shoves the dormitory door open and stomps inside. It hasn’t snowed yet, but it’s positively frosty out, and the warm, heated air of the entryway is welcome on his icy face. He tugs his scarf down from around his nose and moves to unzip his jacket before dashing up the stairs to his room. He’s halfway there, on the landing between the second and third floors, when he hears it.

“Shit, fuck, damn. What was I thinking, this is - oh, shitting hell.”

Eyebrows raised, Louis takes the next flight of stairs two at a time, turns the corner to the third floor landing, and comes face to face with - “Mate, what are you doing?”

A head pops up from behind the frankly enormous Christmas tree that’s blocking the entire stairwell, and Louis recognizes his next door neighbor, the one he and his roommate had nicknamed ‘fit boy’ at the beginning of the semester. He’s got his hair tucked up underneath a beanie so that only the ends of his curls are escaping, and his brow is furrowed. “It’s Christmas,” he replies in his slow, deep voice, drawn out so it’s even slower than usual - like Louis’ asked the dumbest question in the world. “Typically, people buy trees on Christmas.”

Louis rolls his eyes. “I’m not an idiot. I just mean, why’ve you got such a massive tree? We live in the dorms in New York City, mate, there’s not much room here.”

His neighbor - Howard, he thinks, or maybe Henry? - shrugs and says, “I like Christmas, and this tree was so pretty.” He runs a mittened hand along the fluffy branches, a happy little smile on his face, and Louis sighs. Suddenly, the boy’s expression changes, from pleased to concerned, and he asks, “You need to get by, don’t you? Oh! I know you, you live next to me. I’m Harry.”

He fights to stretch an arm across the tree, but the branches are restricting his movement, and they can only just grasp each others’ fingers. “Louis,” he responds, rocking back onto his heels. “And yeah, I’d like to get to my room eventually. Don’t really fancy sleeping in the stairwell. Need some help, then?”

“That would be brilliant,” Harry breathes. His smile is absolutely radiant, cheeks dimpling with the force of it, and yeah. ‘Fit boy’ is probably the most accurate description there is, he thinks, mentally patting himself on the back.

Tearing his eyes away from Harry’s crater-like left dimple, Louis bends over to grasp the most sturdy part of the tree and tries not to inhale pine needles as they make their way up the stairs to the fifth floor. It’s not easy, carrying a nine-foot tree up a narrow, walled-in staircase, and they have to go so slowly that, by the time they get to their floor, Louis’ thighs are burning a bit.

“Are you entirely sure this is going to fit inside of your room?” Louis peeks at Harry over the top of the branches, is momentarily captivated by the way Harry’s brow is furrowed in intense concentration, cheeks flushed with exertion and lips parted just so.

“M’ roommate’s not here, I’m just going to put it on his side of the room.”

It takes Louis’ brain a moment to catch up and understand what Harry is even saying, eyes locked on the pretty curve of his mouth. His lips are obscene, cherry red and unfairly lush, and Louis has never been more aware of the fact that he hasn’t gotten laid in going on three months. He shakes himself out of his thoughts and says inanely, “Yeah, alright.”

Louis holds onto the tree while Harry unlocks his dorm and props the door open with a desk chair. The room is neat as a pin and smells like cinnamon, appropriately festive. There are fairy lights strung up around the window and along the crown molding, and the walls are completely covered in various posters and photographs, though the themes on each side of the room differ completely. It’s not difficult to discern which side belongs to Harry, as some of the photos arranged in neat rows along the wall feature him, or people who resemble him. He lets Harry dictate where the tree goes, releases the top of it carefully as they maneuver it into a standing position. It is definitely way too big for the room, lower branches resting on top of his roommate’s bed and extending halfway across the tiny room, but Harry looks so pleased, hands in his pockets as he rocks back and forth on his heels and beams at the tree.

He smiles at it for so long that Louis starts to feel a bit awkward, and is just about to make an excuse and leave, when Harry turns to him, eyes bright and smile wide, and says, “So, Louis. What are your Christmas plans?”

Louis frowns down at the ground, good mood gone in an instant, and he hears the shuffle of feet moments before he feels a hand on his elbow. He looks up into Harry’s concerned face, the corners of his mouth turned down into a pretty frown.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to pry.”

Shaking his head, Louis says, “It’s alright. Just a bit hard, being away from my family at Christmas, you know.” He realizes a moment too late that of course Harry knows. He rushes to add, “Sorry, of course you know what I’m talking about, that was.”

He waves a hand in front of his face to indicate... well, he’s not really sure what. Harry smiles at him, quick and easy, and says, “Well, since we’re in the same boat, we’ll just make our own Christmas. What do you say?”

Louis tamps down on a bloom of warmth in his belly. He barely knows Harry past seeing him walk down the hall in just his skivvies - not that he’s complaining - but he’s being so lovely, smiling at him so hopefully, and, well. Louis doesn’t much fancy the idea of spending Christmas completely alone. Nodding, he reaches out and pokes Harry’s dimple, watches it flirt to life underneath his fingertip. “I say yes.”

Harry’s answering smile is so wide Louis is afraid his face is going to crack from the force of it. He bounces excitedly on his toes and rubs his still-mittened hands together. “Excellent, I love cooking. Are you busy? Want to go to the shops?”

Louis glances out the window at the hazy gray sky. His toes are only just starting to defrost. Harry looks so eager, though, like his very happiness depends on Louis’ answer, and who is Louis to deny him that? So he nods and offers his arm, tucks a smile into the folds of his scarf and says, “Yeah, alright.” He waits until Harry has locked his room and they’ve started down the hall to say, quiet and sincere, “Thanks, Curly.”

;;

The three days leading up to Christmas are spent nearly entirely in Harry’s company. Harry is magnetic, lovely and cheerful and goofy and bright, and Louis almost forgets that he won’t be seeing his family for another five months, won’t be spending his birthday and the holidays with them like he has for the past twenty years of his life. They decorate Harry’s tree and start planning out their Christmas feast - entirely too much food for just two people, but Louis doesn’t complain. They watch too many Christmas movies and TV specials on the telly in the common room, then curl up together in Harry’s bed at night and watch more movies until their eyelids are heavy and they can’t stop yawning, and Louis has to drag himself back to his room so he can pass out.

They fall into each other easily. Harry is fascinating - a bizarre mixture of cheesy jokes, long, winding stories with no point, and moments of sheer brilliance. He’s also well fit - heart-stoppingly beautiful at times, with his enormous eyes and his candy-red lips, and a bit more rugged at others, sharply angled jaw and hard, lanky body that he has no qualms about showing off. Harry has proven to be a bit of a nudist, though he keeps his pants on while Louis is around, and Louis has never felt his dry spell quite as keenly as he has the past few days.

 

Louis wakes up the morning of the 24th to his phone buzzing across his bedside table. With a sleepy, irritated grunt, he rolls over and fumbles his glasses on so he can see the screen. Flopping back down onto his bed, he hits ‘accept’ and tucks the phone between the pillow and his ear. “‘Lo.”

“Happy birthdayyyyyyy,” five over-excited voices screech into his ear, and Louis winces and waits for the off-key singing to die down.

“Thank you,” he rasps, voice still thick with sleep at... he raises his head a little so he can see the clock beside his bed. Fuck. Nine AM. He chats with his family for a while, passed along the line of sisters and then to his mum, before they let him go with a promise to call him tomorrow morning, and even though he’s still sleepy after having stayed up past two the previous night, he’s too sad to just fall back into sleep. He misses his family so much it’s a physical ache, so he pulls up photos of them on his phone and scrolls through them with one eye shut and his face turned into the pillow.

Harry finds him like that sometime later, and he crawls into bed behind Louis without a word, wraps around him and buries his face in the back of Louis’ neck. He supposes it’s a bit unusual, how close they’ve gotten so quickly, how natural and easy everything is with Harry, but he can’t really bring himself to be bothered when Harry’s mere presence, the warmth of him at his back and the smell of his shampoo, already has Louis relaxing against his chest, fingers going slack around his phone.

He hadn’t meant to fall back asleep, but Louis wakes up a couple of hours later, well-rested and warm. Harry’s arms are still around him, knees tucked up behind his own, and he can feel the soft puffs of Harry’s breaths against the back of his neck. Well, Louis thinks if he had to spend his birthday away from his family, at least he’s spending it in bed with a fit boy. It’s nearly noon, though, and he’s hungry, so Louis stretches lazily, then turns over in the bracket of Harry’s arms to wake him up.

Harry is lovely all the time, with his pretty, oversized features, but in sleep, he looks so peaceful, eyelashes casting dusky shadows across his cheeks, mouth slack, and Louis has to physically restrain himself before he does something stupid, like lean in and nip at Harry’s plush bottom lip. Instead, he traces a fingertip down the bridge of his nose and watches his eyelids flutter, then, teeth set into his own bottom lip, he slips a hand underneath the covers and drills his finger mercilessly into Harry’s stomach.

Harry comes awake with a start and tries to squirm away, but there’s nowhere to go with the wall behind him. “Louis,” he gasps, trying to fight him off between fits of laughter, but Louis is relentless, tickling him with both hands now. “Louis, no, I can’t breathe!”

Once Louis relents, Harry collapses against his chest, giggling quietly. Hopelessly charmed, Louis wraps his arms around Harry and rests his cheek on top of Harry’s head. He smells so good, like apples and fresh laundry, that Louis buries his face in his hair without thinking.

“Lou,” Harry mumbles into his chest. “Are you smelling me?”

Louis shrugs, not even embarrassed. “You smell good and I’m hungry.”

“If you start eating my hair...”

“Oh my god,” Louis laughs, shoving Harry away from him, then rolling out of bed. He straightens up with another stretch and pads over to the little closet in search of a pair of joggers and a jumper. It’s cold in the hallway, and he has to go brush his teeth, do something to his embarrassingly fluffy hair before he’ll step foot outside.

 

The two of them waste the day walking around Greenwich Village, hips bumping companionably as they walk with their faces buried in their scarves and hands shoved into their coat pockets against the cold. It’s Christmas Eve, so they pick up Thai food for dinner and a couple handles of vodka with Louis’ newly legal ID even though the sun has yet to set, then trudge back to the dorm with their loot. They race each other up the stairs to their floor, laughing breathlessly as they stumble across the landings, containers of food swinging wildly and bottles clinking together.

Louis wins by a fraction of a second, turns to gloat right as Harry careens into him and sends them both crashing into the wall. Louis gets the breath knocked out of him, but it’s worth it when he looks up at Harry with wide eyes. Harry’s cheeks are flushed, eyes glittering in the light of the dying sun that’s streaming in through the window, and Louis wants so much to just stretch up onto his toes and close his mouth over Harry’s. He doesn’t though, just ducks out from underneath Harry’s arm and crows, “I win,” before dashing off toward his room.

Harry follows at a more sedate pace, slips in after Louis and sets their dinner down on Louis’ roommate’s desk before saying, “I’m gonna go freshen up.”

Louis takes the time alone to calm his racing heart and change into a pair of joggers and an oversized jumper, is just crouching down to dig his cellphone charger out from underneath his bed when Harry walks in.

“You want to eat in the common room? We can watch Love, Actually, it’s on in like twenty minutes.”

Straightening up, Louis pushes his fringe out of his eyes and says, “You get the juice, I’ll bring the food?”

“Common room in five,” Harry agrees, and disappears out the door again. Louis takes his time, gathering up the food and the bag of vodka and leaving his phone on his bed. He won’t need it.

 

It’s 10:28pm and Louis is sloshed. He kicks his feet where they’re draped across Harry’s lap and pops another pretzel stick into his mouth. He’s got his head hanging off the edge of the sofa, and it’s probably a choking hazard, eating like this, but he’s too drunk to care. “Mustard me,” he demands, opening his mouth and waiting.

“This is disgusting, you know,” Harry comments mildly, but he leans over Louis’ legs, mustard bottle in hand, so he can squirt a bit of it into Louis’ mouth. “You sure you’re not pregnant?”

He pats a hand on Louis’ belly, and Louis’ muscles clench reflexively, stomach twisting pleasantly when Harry leaves his hand there after leaning back again. He takes a moment to chew his food and swallow, then says, “Have to have sex to get pregnant.” At Harry’s raised eyebrow, Louis heaves a sigh and mumbles, “It’s been a rough winter.”

“I find that hard to believe,” Harry says. Louis watches Harry toe at the carpet, something strange bubbling up in his chest. It might be a combination of a few too many vodka cranberries mixed with pretzels and mustard, but he thinks he has more to do with the pretty flush to Harry’s cheeks, the way his hand is still resting warm on Louis’ belly, the long lines of his legs in his ridiculously tight jeans. “I’ve been on a self-imposed ban all semester, myself,” Harry adds, tipping his head back against the top of the sofa. “Wanted to focus on my courses.”

Louis snorts. “Well, that’s rubbish.”

“I know,” Harry groans. He drops the mustard bottle so he can cover his face with his hands, and Louis laughs, kicks his feet again so they bounce off of Harry’s thighs.

“We’ll go out New Years Eve. You can find some nice girl at a club and get off in the toilets or something. Bring her back to your illustrious dorm.”

Louis sweeps his hand in a wide arc to indicate the common room, and Harry laughs, dropping his hands to rest on Louis’ calves. “Not really my type.”

Something that feels a bit like hope flutters in Louis’ chest. “What, girls in clubs?”

Harry looks down at his lap, stares resolutely at his fingers as he twists them in the soft gray fabric of Louis’ jogging bottoms. “Girls,” he elaborates succinctly.

Oh.

“Oh,” Louis whispers. Harry starts to worry his bottom lip with his teeth, and Louis realizes how horrible that sounded, so he rushes to add, “Well, we can find you a fit bloke, then, no problem. Maybe I’ll pull one, myself. Finally break this godforsaken dry spell.”

The look Harry slides him is a mixture of relieved and amused, and he says, “Well, I’m sure we can pretty you up. Find you some clothes that can’t double as pyjamas and show off that arse of yours.”

Louis raises his head so he can smirk at Harry. “Did you just tell me I have a nice arse?”

Harry just shrugs and says, “Hey, look, Friends is on.”

 

Louis can’t sleep. He’s not drunk anymore, not really. Well, alright, he’s still a little bit drunk, vodka swimming pleasantly through his veins and pooling behind his navel, but he feels great, happy and a little loopy, the pretty melodies off the mixtape Harry made him for his birthday playing softly through his computer speakers. It’s a great album - samplers from a dozen different bands Louis has never heard of - and the music is all soft and intensely soothing, but no matter what he does, he cannot get comfortable, cannot get his mind to shut off.

He turns the music off with a frustrated growl, is just about to roll over and try falling asleep again, when he hears a noise through the wall he shares with Harry. Music. Excellent, Harry is also awake. Rolling out of bed, Louis pulls on his discarded joggers but forgoes a t-shirt, slips quietly out into the hallway, and taps on Harry’s door. There’s no answer, but he can hear the music better now, so he tests the knob, breathing out a sigh of relief when the door swings open.

He takes a couple steps into the room and squints over at Harry’s bed before whispering, “Harry? Oh -”

Louis’ heart stops and he freezes, one hand still on the door. Harry is stretched out on top of his blankets, completely naked, with a hand on his dick. The sweat sheening his body is glistening in the light from the lamp on his bedside table and his lips are parted, breath coming out in sharp pants as he stares back at Louis without blinking. It takes Louis a moment to find his voice.

“I’m so - I’m so sorry, I’m gonna -” He jerks a thumb toward the still open door and stutters, “I’m gonna go. Go now. Sorry.”

He whirls around, is just about to step out into the hallway when he hears Harry call out, “Louis?”

Swallowing thickly, Louis stops moving, but doesn’t turn back around. He feels like he’s just been hit by a battering ram, right in the solar plexus, the image of Harry sweaty and naked as he works a hand over his cock imprinted on the backs of his eyelids. He feels a bit faint.

“You, erm.” Harry’s voice is deeper than usual, raspy and breathless, and honestly, Louis could have lived without knowing what Harry sounds like when he’s turned on. “Not to make this weird. Well, any weirder than it already is, I guess. But I know you - and I also haven’t, for like four months.  And it’s always better when you do it with someone else, and. I mean, just as friends, you know. I doesn’t have to be anything... complicated. If you want.”

Louis’ stomach bottoms out at the same time that desire pulses in his gut, and he turns to face Harry slowly. He’s sitting up now, hands curled around the edge of the mattress and his body on full display, and Louis sways forward without realizing it. His voice is embarrassingly breathy when he asks, “Are you propositioning me?”

He wants to fidget when Harry’s eyes sweep down his body and lock on the outline of his half-hard dick, visible through the thin fabric of his jogging bottoms, but he makes himself stand still. Harry’s eyes are hooded and he’s smirking when he says, “Is that a yes?”

Yes, Louis thinks. Absolutely, 100% yes. He clears his throat. “How would this... work, exactly?”

Harry shrugs, the muscles in his shoulders and biceps rippling, and Louis licks his lips reflexively. “Sex. As friends,” he adds, “for the break. Then we go back to being just friends, and everything goes back to normal.”

Louis rubs the back of his neck and lets out a nervous laugh. “Do you do this sort of thing often?”

“Never,” Harry answers simply. His expression is open and honest, even as he shifts his stance, parts his legs and leans back on his palms, and Louis blows out an unsteady breath. If anyone had told him he’d be spending his holiday having casual sex with his fit neighbor, he’d have laughed in their faces. “What do you think?”

“Er.” Louis’ gaze falls to Harry’s chest, the ridges of his abs, and he says, “Right now?”

Harry tilts his head to the side. “Might as well.”

And that’s all the invitation Louis needs. He lets go of the doorknob and walks over to the bed, but stops right in front of Harry, not really sure where to go from here. Harry solves that problem, though, by gripping the backs of Louis’ thighs and dragging him forward so that he has to knee onto the bed, straddling Harry’s lap. Louis barely has time to grip Harry’s shoulders for stability before he’s being dragged down into a kiss. Harry’s lips are soft and he still tastes faintly of cranberries, and if it wasn’t for the way Harry’s hands are kneading at his thighs, Louis would be content to spend the rest of the night just kissing him.

As it is, though, Harry’s skin is still slick with sweat and his dick is still hard where it’s trapped between them, and Louis wants. So he slides one hand up to grip Harry’s jaw and angle his head, turns the kiss filthy and grinds their hips together until Harry is left clinging to him and panting into his mouth. Louis pulls back and rubs a thumb across Harry’s swollen bottom lip, watches his eyes flutter open. His pupils are blown wide, eyes dark and lust-hazy, and, overwhelmed, Louis tips their foreheads together and breathes, “Touch me.”

Harry wastes no time in getting Louis’ joggers down around his thighs and a hand around his cock, and Louis lets his head fall back, fingers sliding into the damp curls at the nape of Harry’s neck. It’s been so long since anyone has touched Louis like this that he’s on edge embarrassingly quickly, grip on Harry’s hair tightening with every tug on his cock. He shudders when Harry drags the pad of his thumb over the head and tightens his fist, pleasure building at the base of Louis’ spine and spiralling down his limbs, tips of his fingers tingling with it, and then Harry twists his wrist on the upstroke and Louis comes with a shuddery gasp.

Louis doesn’t realize he’s tugging on Harry’s hair until he comes down and sees the way Harry’s head is tipped back, neck exposed, but he looks so into it - mouth hanging open and eyelids heavy - that Louis gives another sharp tug, watches the way a shiver ripples down his spine. Fascinating. He uses his free hand on Harry’s shoulder to steady himself as he scoots back, then settles on Harry’s thighs so he can get a hand around his dick. He wants to draw this out, wants Harry shaking apart at the seams, but one tug and Harry spills over his fist, entire body trembling and breathy little whimpers falling from his lips.

“Jesus,” Louis whispers, letting go of Harry’s hair so he can drag his fingers down Harry’s chest, scratch lightly at his abs. Harry shivers, goosebumps spreading across his chest and arms when Louis scrapes his nails over his nipple. Louis groans and drops his head to rest on Harry’s shoulder. “You’re going to be the death of me, Styles, I can feel it.”

;;

On Christmas morning, Louis wakes up with a start. Disoriented, he looks around the room, the decorations vaguely familiar, and it takes him a moment to realize that he’s in Harry’s bed, another to realize that they’re both naked. He contemplates sneaking out of the room and pretending last night never happened, but he feels fantastic, loose and relaxed like he hasn’t in months, and Harry is clinging to him like a limpet, spooned up behind him with one arm banded across his chest and a leg thrown over his hip. It’s chilly in the room, but Harry is warm and his bedside clock reads 7:43am, so Louis snuggles back against him and lets the steady rhythm of Harry’s breathing lull him back to sleep.

It doesn’t last long.

“Loooooouis.”

Grunting, Louis swats a hand in the direction of the offending noise and tries to roll over and go back to sleep.

“Louiiiiiiiiiis. Lou, wake up, it’s Christmas. It’s Christmas and we need to cook dinner and I’m pretty sure I heard your phone ring. Did you know you left the door open all night? Good thing no one else is around.”

Louis considers just shoving Harry off the bed, but then he feels the tip of Harry’s nose drag across his cheekbone, the brush of lips against the corner of his mouth, and he sighs, resigning himself to an earlier wake-up than he’d like. “Time’s it,” he grumbles, slipping a hand under the covers to pinch Harry’s hip.

“Nine,” Harry whispers, lips dragging against Louis’ jaw. “The sooner we get started, the sooner we finish and can eat it all. Come on, I’ll let you baste the turkey.”

Louis slits one eye open at that and says, “Unless that’s a euphemism, I’m not interested.”

“You are,” Harry grins. “You so are, come on, I know you’re excited. Let’s go. You can call your mum while I wash up and set out the ingredients.”

Louis watches Harry climb out of bed, eyes still bleary. Harry walks casually across the room, as if he’s not completely nude and the bedroom door isn’t hanging wide open. “Don’t you want to call yours?”

“Already did,” Harry chirps, one arm inside the small closet while he digs for some fresh clothes. “You slept through it.”

“Oh.” Louis frowns at the clock on the bedside table, thinking about the time difference between New York and England. He doesn’t notice Harry walking back toward him until he leans over the bed, one hand braced against the wall, and grins down at Louis.

“You’re very cute when you sleep. You sleep with your hand tucked under your chin, like a little baby.” Louis scowls and opens his mouth to retort, but Harry just drops a kiss to the tip of his nose, then straightens up, says as he backs away, “You have fifteen minutes, then you better be in the kitchen.”

 

Louis sits on the phone with his mum and sisters for a bit while they open the presents he had asked his mum to pick up for them, then he washes up and heads downstairs to the little dorm kitchen. Harry is already in there, ingredients lined up on the table in neat rows according to dish and an apron tied around his waist. They spend hours cooking - well, Harry spends hours cooking, Louis just hands him ingredients and mixes when Harry tells him to mix. Slowly, the small room fills with the delicious scent of baking turkey, homemade cranberry sauce, roasted sweet potatoes, and brownies for the trifle Harry has planned.

It’s sort of fun, watching Harry work. He gets so focused, eyebrows furrowed as he measures out ingredients and shows Louis how to whisk, lips pursed while he checks the temperature of the turkey and pours more sauce over the top of it so it gets a nice glaze. It’s fun for a while, until Harry is muttering to himself about whipped cream, and fruit versus oreo cookies, and Louis has had quite enough. He’s had enough of Harry’s ridiculously tight jeans and oversized vest, enough of the way the tied apron emphasises how slender his waist is while leaving his lightly muscled arms bare, and Louis is bored. He’s bored and it’s been three months, and one handjob is not going to cut it.

He waits until Harry has checked all of the pots and basted the turkey for the fiftieth time, waits until he turns around to find some trifle-related ingredient, then crowds him back against the counter, boxes him in with hands gripping the cheap formica and feet on either side of Harry’s.

“Lou, what are you -”

“Time for a break,” Louis interrupts.

“But I need to make the trifle,” Harry argues. “And I don’t want the turkey to dry out, I just need -”

“This won’t take long,” Louis promises, pitching his voice low before sliding slowly to his knees. He watches the bob of Harry’s Adam’s apple as he swallows, smiles encouragingly when he fits his hands around the insides of Harry’s thighs to urge them apart so he can settle between them.

Eyes locked on Harry’s, Louis unties the apron and pushes it aside for Harry to deal with, then palms him through his trousers. Harry’s breath stutters, and Louis hears fabric rip, sees the apron fall to the floor out of the corner of his eye, but he’s more interested in the way Harry’s cock is hardening in his jeans, in nuzzling against the zip and breathing hot against the fabric so that Harry shivers, fingers flexing in mid-air like he can’t decide what to do with his hands. Louis eases back so he can work on the button of his fly and says, “You can touch, just don’t pull.”

Harry’s hands burrow into Louis’ hair immediately, fingertips rubbing at his scalp, then pressing against his skull when Louis peels his jeans slowly down his thighs. “Christ,” Louis mutters. “How do you even get these things on?”

He can only get them partway down Harry’s thighs, but it’s enough for him to be able to drag Harry’s pants down as well, and, raising his eyes to Harry’s face again, Louis wraps a hand around the base of his cock and licks a stripe up the underside. Harry’s fingers tighten against his scalp, but he doesn’t pull, not even when Louis closes his mouth around the head of his cock and sinks down slowly. Louis takes his time, working Harry up, then easing off and stroking him lightly, until Harry is shaking and cursing quietly every time Louis takes him down again.

He takes pity on Harry when he has to let go of Louis’ hair to grip the edge of the counter and hold himself up, curls his tongue against the underside of Harry’s dick and takes him as deep as he can, then sinks down even further, until the head of Harry’s cock hits the back of his throat. He holds him there, hand working the base of Harry’s dick, eyes watering and throat working around the head, while Harry’s hands sink into his hair again, trying to pull him off. He doesn’t let him, though, just swallows around him, and with a hoarse shout, Harry spills down the back of his throat, thighs trembling, body bowed over Louis’ head as he gasps through his orgasm.

The moment Louis pulls off and lets go, Harry slides down the cupboards and sinks onto the floor, legs splayed on either side of Louis. Even though it was only head, Harry looks thoroughly fucked out, and Louis can’t help a self-satisfied little smile from curling his lips. “Come on, babe,” he rasps, delighted by the way Harry shivers at the quality of his voice. “Let’s get your trousers back up, can’t have you freezing your bollocks off on this cold floor.”

It takes some maneuvering, but he gets Harry upright and standing, helps him pull his pants and trousers back up, then eases him onto one of the kitchen chairs. “Well,” Louis laughs, smoothing Harry’s hair back from his sweaty forehead. “Looks like I sucked your brain out through your cock.”

He goes to move away, but Harry closes a hand around his wrist and tugs until Louis sits on his lap. “D’you want -”

Harry reaches for the waistband of Louis’ trousers, but he intercepts and threads their fingers together, shakes his head. “Later.”

 

The rest of Christmas day is spent finishing up the meal, then devouring it in the common room with everything spread across the coffee table and A Charlie Brown Christmas on the telly. They crawl into Harry’s bed late that night, bellies full and eyelids heavy, and fall asleep wrapped around each other.

;;

“Hey,” Harry murmurs, and Louis feels hands grip his hips from behind. He’s bent over, tying one of his Chucks so they can leave for the club, but Harry keeps distracting him. Louis wiggles his hips, trying to shake him off.

“Quit it, or else we’ll never get out of here, you handsy arsehole.”

He can practically hear Harry’s shit-eating grin when he draws back and smacks a hand against Louis’ bum. “Christ,” Louis hisses. He’s never really considered trying out spanking before, but with hands like Harry’s... no. Absolutely not, he’s not going down that road. Louis straightens up with a sigh and smooths his hands down the front of his jumper. “Right, come on, you menace. Let’s get out of here before you drag me to bed and we miss New Years Eve entirely.”

It’s already dark out, the streets crowded with people, and Louis resolutely ignores the flutter in his belly when Harry slides their palms together and laces their fingers. The club they’ve chosen is only a couple of blocks away, not far enough for the subway, so they weave their way through the masses, hands linked so they don’t get separated. There’s a line outside, but Harry knows the bouncer, and they duck underneath the rope and into the close air of the club, music pulsating in Louis’ chest as they fight their way to the bar.

They throw back shots of something scarlet and spicy, then make their way to the dance floor. It’s a tight fit, just enough space for Louis to spin around and back into Harry, and they dance until they’re sweaty and loose, Louis’ arms looped around Harry’s neck and Harry’s mouth on Louis’, let the crush of bodies move them as they grind against each other. Louis loses his concept of time, has no idea how close it is to midnight, but he can feel that Harry is hard, doesn’t stop Harry when he slides a hand down over the front of his jeans and grinds down with the heel of his palm. Louis just twists his head around for a kiss, then nibbles along Harry’s jaw up to his ear and pitches his voice over the music. “Toilets?”

Louis’ pulse is pounding along with the bass as they work their way toward the back of the club, Harry’s hand curled possessively around his hip, but they stop dead when they see the line. Before Louis can say anything, though, suggest an empty booth or the back alley, anything, really, Harry is dragging him off toward a staircase and shoving him up against the wall beneath it. They’re cloaked in shadows, the music a bit softer underneath the shelter of the stairs, and Louis bounces up onto his toes immediately so he can sink his teeth into Harry’s bottom lip. Harry is already grinding against him, their dicks sliding together through two layers of denim and leaving Louis breathless with want and anticipation. The pressure leaves a sweet ache behind Louis’ teeth, and he thinks, what a perfect way to ring in the new year.

But then Harry fits a hand around the backs of his thighs and hefts Louis up into the air so he can wrap his legs around Harry’s waist, and then he doesn’t think about anything at all.

;;

Students don’t start trickling back into the dorms for another week, so Harry and Louis occupy their time by lounging around in the common room, getting each other off on the sofas while old movies and reruns of Will and Grace play in the background. They sleep curled up in Louis’ bed and fuck in the middle of the day, Harry bent over his desk, Louis riding him on his narrow dorm bed, laid out on the creaky kitchen table with the remnants of their lunch abandoned on the counter. They see shitty movies and make out in the back row, risk get kicked out of some D-list horror movie Louis can’t remember the name of when Harry slides to the floor and sucks him off, despite the fact that there’s a group of teenagers sitting in the row in front of them.

Louis’ roommate comes back that Sunday, so they’re relegated to Harry’s room - though that’s not much of a hardship, considering how much cleaner it is. Louis is in the middle of licking whipped cream off Harry’s chest the Monday before school starts when Harry says, “Let’s go ice skating at Rockefeller tomorrow.”

He looks up, tongue still hanging out of his mouth, and stares at Harry for a moment, just to make sure he’s being serious. His expression is completely serious, though, so Louis swallows the cream and says, “You want to go ice skating?” Harry nods. “Have you ever skated before?”

Harry shakes his head, traces a finger along Louis’ collarbones, and says, “How hard can it be? It’s like walking, but in pointy boots, yeah? We’ll go tomorrow. Now come on, hurry up, it’s getting sticky and I wanna kiss you already.”

 

As it turns out, ice skating is quite difficult, when your name is Harry Styles and you’ve got legs like a baby horse just learning how to stand upright. Louis doesn’t argue when Harry asks him to hold his hand, does it happily and ignores the curl of warmth in his chest when their fingers lock together naturally, but the third time they go down in a mess of limbs, Louis brushes the ice off his bum and says, “Stand up and don’t move. We’re doing this the Tommo way.”

He comes up behind Harry and grasps his hips so that he can lead him slowly around the edge of the rink until it seems like Harry can balance on the blades, then Louis shuffles back up alongside him and takes Harry’s hand so they can skate together. Louis’ bum is sore by the time they give up, but Harry insists he won’t leave before they take a silly selfie on his phone with the tree behind them before turning in their skates. They go for hot chocolate at a diner down the street afterward and sit with their feet locked together, smiling stupidly at each other after Louis leans across the table to lick Harry’s marshmallow mustache off his lip. All in all, it’s kind of a perfect day.

;;

After that, Louis can feel the start of the semester looming, and it lends a note of desperation to their time together, has Louis pressing bruises into Harry’s hips when he fucks him, stretched out on Harry’s bed at 2am with Arctic Monkeys playing to drown out the sound of skin on skin; has Harry sucking vivid hickeys into Louis’ belly when he sucks him off in the showers, tiles cold against Louis’ back and Harry warm against his front. They don’t talk about it though, just cling a little tighter with each passing day.

The weekend before school starts, they’re inseparable. They raid bookstores in search of textbooks and stock up on school supplies on Friday, finish off the day at a diner, where they sit and drink tea and eat cheesecake until 3am. On Saturday, they find a secluded bench in Central Park and make out for hours, take a nap on the grassy bank of the lake, then go clubbing and fuck in the handicap toilet, Louis’ hand over Harry’s mouth to stifle the desperate noises he makes every time Louis rocks into him.

Sunday dawns gray and cloudy, and Louis wakes up before Harry for once, can’t go back to sleep despite the fact that it’s only half eight. He’s known Harry for just over three weeks, has been sleeping with him for nearly as long, and even though it’s not a long stretch of time, they’ve spent every waking - and sleeping - moment together since they met, and, well. He might be a bit attached.

An agreement is an agreement, though. They had their fun, and they’ll have fun once school starts, as well. It just won’t be the same kind of fun. For some reason, the thought of being with Harry and not being able to touch him like he does now pulls at the corners of Louis’ mouth, settles heavy in his gut and leaves him swallowing down something that feels a bit like despondency. He’s not going to dwell on it, though. No, he’s going to enjoy this last day as much as he can. Starting, of course, with waking Harry up with Louis’ mouth wrapped around him.

;;

“Here.”

Eyes locked on Harry’s, Louis leans in and takes the proffered spoonful of ice cream. It’s still freezing outside, cold pressing in against the windows and leaving them frosty and hazy, but they’re sitting on Harry’s bed with the laptop propped up on his desk, duvet wrapped tight around their shoulders, and Louis is so warm he feels like he could take on the Antarctic. He thinks he’s been doing a rather good job of ignoring the fact that the day is winding down, that in a matter of hours, their deal will be over and he’ll have to kiss this Harry goodbye. It’ll be easy, Louis tells himself. He and Harry will stay friends, and he’ll find someone else to warm his bed. Right.

In the meantime, though, they still have three hours to midnight, Harry’s roommate gave them the room for the evening, and Louis intends to make the most of it. He nips the ice cream container out of Harry’s hands and sets it beside the laptop, then clambers into his lap. Harry’s eyes are wide, hands cold when they wrap around Louis’ hips, but he thinks maybe it means something when Harry doesn’t comment on the fact that there’s still a half-pint of mint chip and two hours of The Avengers left. Instead, he just tips his head back and waits, eyes shuttered and breath already labored in anticipation, and Louis sinks into him without a second thought.

;;

Louis hates school. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. He dislikes school, mostly because it cuts into the amount of time he could either be sleeping or playing football with his roommate, but the first few weeks of the semester are always a bit of a blow-off, so at least there’s that. What he does hate is seeing Harry in the dorm halls, running into him in the common room and the kitchen, and not being able to really touch him.

The first time it happens, Louis isn’t prepared. Their schedules are off this semester, so they don’t run into each other in the halls like they used to, and Louis has started to give up hope of it happening. It’s been four days since he’s seen Harry, but it’s Thursday night - the first pub night of the semester - and by all means, he should be out with his roommate and their friends getting smashed. Instead, he’s staying in to watch old episodes of Keeping Up with the Kardashians on his laptop, is feeling a bit sorry for himself as he trudges toward the kitchen with a cup of pot noodles in hand. He’s got a few beers in the mini-fridge in his room, though, and his roommate won’t be back for hours, and losing himself in shitty reality TV sounds alright. He’s pretty sure he’s the only one left in the dorms, a typical Thursday night, so when he walks into the kitchen and sees Harry sitting at the table, he nearly drops his pot noodles.

“Harry,” he breathes, heart beating double-time in his chest. “I didn’t expect -”

Harry offers him a weak, hesitant smile, spoon dragging through his bowl of cereal. “Hi, Louis.”

Louis scratches the back of his neck, feeling incredibly awkward and underdressed in a holey old jumper and the cat slippers his sisters had given him for Christmas last year. “Er. Not out partying tonight?”

Louis wants to punch himself in the face the moment the question leaves his mouth, but Harry just smiles at him and shakes his head, his drooping quiff flopping down over one eye. “Didn’t feel like it.”

He doesn’t really have a response for that, so Louis just shuffles past Harry’s chair to the sink so he can fill up his cup of noodles and shove it into the microwave. Neither of them speak while the microwave hums away, just trade awkward looks and uncertain smiles, and Louis is halfway across the kitchen, steaming noodles in hand, when instinct takes over and he turns to Harry, says, “I’m just gonna go watch some shitty telly in my room, did you want to join?”

The smile Harry offers him in return is blinding, and he nods eagerly, shoves back from the table to go wash his bowl, and then follows Louis to his room. It feels a bit like old times as they set up, laptop on the corner of the desk and the two of them huddled under the blankets against the wall, and without thinking, Louis runs his fingers through Harry’s fringe, murmurs, “Think it might be time for a haircut, Curly.”

Before Louis can pull his hand back, Harry catches his wrist, long, slender fingers circling it and holding Louis’ hand against his thigh while the episode starts. It’s force of habit when Louis burrows into Harry’s side, fingers sliding against the top of his leg, and he freezes when he remembers they don’t do this anymore. Harry doesn’t move though, doesn’t draw away or release Louis’ wrist, so Louis relaxes into it, pot noodles forgotten, feeling content for the first time in four days.

When Louis wakes up the next morning, he’s got his back to the wall and there’s an imprint on the pillow beside his head, the lingering scent of Harry’s shampoo on the fabric of the pillowcase, but Harry is gone.

 

After that, it’s like some sort of dam has been broken. They run into each other nearly every day, but never mention that night, or the awkwardness of the following morning. They smile and talk, empty, meaningless chatter, but the connection is still there, like a gravitational pull, tugging Louis in, and they promised. They promised, so every time Louis feels himself drifting, fingers itching toward Harry’s hip, he makes himself take a step back, then another, until he can beat a hasty retreat and put himself out of Harry’s magnetic range.

It sucks, though. Sucks that he has to lay in bed alone and hear Harry’s music through the wall, that every time he unlocks his phone, their faces are staring back at him from in front of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, cheeks flushed and eyes bright, Harry’s big hand wrapped tight around the back of Louis’ neck. Sucks that by the end of the first week of classes, the little happy face Harry had drawn on Louis’ ankle in Sharpie is gone and he’s left falling into a fitful sleep every night, a playlist Harry had put on his phone two weeks into their fling on repeat until he’s got every lyric memorized, wakes up with his earphones tangled around his chest and the melodies playing on loop in his head.

;;

It’s only the third week of school, and he’s still got ages till his first round of exams, so Louis doesn’t feel guilty when, instead of reading up on mitosis, or whatever it is they’re learning about in biology, he drags his roommate to a club and dances with pretty boys until he can’t feel his feet. He tries to lose himself in them, picks ones that bear no resemblance to Harry whatsoever and lets them kiss his neck, behind his ear, tuck the tips of their fingers into the waistband of his trousers, but as soon as they ask if he wants to get out of there, he backs away, throat tight and an apology on his tongue.

It’s not that he doesn’t want to. He feels wound up, squeezed tight like a spring after almost a month of near constant orgasms, but it feels wrong. Every time he closes his eyes, he sees Harry, sees the trust and affection in his eyes every time Louis said something funny, the downward tilt to his mouth whenever someone at the bars they’d gone to put a hand on Louis’ arm, feels the phantom press of Harry’s hand on his hip as they made their way through crowded streets and into busy shops, diners, movie theaters.

And Louis wants, he wants so much it’s like a constant itch underneath his skin, but he only wants Harry. He only wants Harry, and he doesn’t really know what to do about it.

He just – he wishes he knew how Harry was feeling. If Harry’s alright, if he’s moved on, or if he misses Louis, misses the way Louis fit perfectly against his side, the way Louis would curl around Harry’s back in sleep, chin tucked into the curve of his shoulder, the way everything was easy and fun. Every time he sees Harry, he thinks maybe. Maybe the bruises under his eyes and the glum bow of his lips mean he doesn’t sleep right without Louis around. Thinks that maybe the pull isn’t one-sided, that the way they drift together when they talk is mutual, and that eventually, they’ll meet in the middle and won’t let go.

It’s been three weeks, though. Three weeks of sleeping in the jumper Harry had left buried underneath Louis’ blankets - and ignoring the knowing looks his roommate gives him every time he pulls it on - and it’s getting beyond pathetic. He needs to stop. He’s going to return the jumper, is going to wash the lingering traces of Harry’s scent from his body, and he’s going to move on, just like they agreed.

Shower caddy in hand and towel draped over his shoulder, Louis trudges to the showers. This is one aspect of dorm life that Louis sort of hates. The showers are always noisy and damp, never quite clean enough, and the water pressure is absolute shit. He’s not paying attention to where he’s going as he walks through the door and past the sinks, is too busy staring down at the contrast his black shower sandals make against his skin, when he walks right into someone. Someone damp and mostly naked, and.

Eyes wide, Louis takes a stumbling step back, nearly slips in a puddle of water and is only saved from further embarrassment by Harry wrapping a hand around his arm and holding him upright. “Hey Lou,” Harry says quietly, voice slow and sleepy and, Louis thinks, a bit sad. “You alright?”

Louis nods reflexively, swallowing thickly. He must look a mess, eyes wide behind his glasses and hair unstyled, and he only realizes a moment too late that he’s still got Harry’s jumper on. Shit. He bites his lip, hoping desperately that Harry won’t notice, but he still hasn’t let go of Louis’ arm, and he watches Harry’s gaze drop to his chest, watches Harry tilt his head to the side and say, “Hey, is that...”

“Dunno,” Louis chirps, forced cheeriness that sounds fake fake fake to his own ears. “Found it in my wardrobe.”

He’s having trouble breathing. It’s humid in the room, always humid, air thick with steam from the showers that seem to constantly be running, but it doesn’t even bother Louis anymore. Harry, though. He’s clearly just showered, hair falling in damp ringlets around his ears and the nape of his neck, water beaded on his skin and a towel slung low on his hips. He’s gorgeous and flushed from the heat, tattoos stark against his winter-pale skin, and his eyes are wide with confusion and something else, something Louis can’t really read, but it’s too much.

He’s about to make his exit, opens his mouth to mumble something about a shower and some homework, when Harry drops his hand, rubs it across his own stomach, and says, “So, Lou, how’ve you been?”

As far as openers go, it’s a weak one, made worse by the way Harry seems to be curling in on himself, knuckles going white where they’re gripping his own shower caddy. “Er,” Louis says eloquently. “Fine, I suppose. Been better, you know.” He shrugs awkwardly, tacks on a quiet, “You?”

“Oh,” Harry responds, as if he hadn’t been expecting Louis to ask in return. He clears his throat, eyes darting away, and Louis tracks the flick of his tongue as he wets his lips. “Yeah, I guess...” He turns back to Louis, brow furrowed and expression unhappy, and says, “I mean, I miss you. Talking to you,” he rushes to add, words stumbling over themselves in his haste to get them all out. “You know, like, hanging out. I, erm.”

Harry cuts himself off, presses his lips together and drops his gaze to the floor, and something in Louis’ chest breaks loose. Fuck it. Fuck all of it, fuck the rules, they’re all made to be broken, anyway, aren’t they? He drops his shower caddy, ignores the way it hits the floor with a clatter, shampoo bottle rolling away, and launches himself at Harry. Harry catches him on instinct, his own caddy banging against the small of Louis’ back when his arms go around him, but it doesn’t matter, not when Harry’s mouth is on his and they’re kissing hungrily, Harry’s damp curls winding around Louis’ fingers like they’ve been waiting.

Louis slides one hand down and fits his palm around Harry’s hip, guides him back toward the showers without breaking the kiss. “Step down,” he mumbles into Harry’s mouth once they’ve reached an empty stall, not wanting Harry to lose his footing when the floor level drops a few inches.

He’s got a finger underneath the hem of Harry’s towel, ready to tug it off, when Harry slides a hand around to grip Louis’ shoulder, sets him back an inch and says, “Wait, wait.” They’re both panting, eyes wild and lips red and swollen, and Louis wants to dive right back in, wipe every doubt off Harry’s face, then suck bright purple bruises into his lovely collarbones. “I thought we said - I said, and you - friends, we weren’t.”

He stops talking in half-formed thoughts, just stares at Louis and waits for him to respond. And he could say something profound, something about how he’s been in New York for three years and, even though he was away from his family, this is the best Christmas holiday he’s had, how his narrow dorm bed feels too big without Harry in it and the smell of his laundry detergent has long faded from the stolen jumper, but instead he just shrugs, stares Harry dead in the eye, and says, “I lied.”

It’s not really an answer, not a proper one, but they have time for that later. It’s enough for now, enough for a smile to break across Harry’s face, wide and bright, enough for him to reel Louis back in and duck into another kiss.

“That is totally my jumper. You missed me,” Harry murmurs against Louis’ lips, and he can feel the way Harry’s are still curled up into a smile, can feel the play of Harry’s fingers over the waistband of his jogging bottoms and the half-hard line of his dick through the towel.

Making a show of it, Louis pulls out of Harry’s arms and rolls his eyes before tugging the jumper off and holding it out. “Want it back?”

Harry stares at him for a moment, drinking him in hungrily, before shaking his head, then reaching around Louis to pull the shower curtain shut. “No. It suits you,” he says around a grin, so wide it looks painful. And Louis hears the underlying meaning, hears that he’s really saying, I suit you. “Keep it.”

 

fin