Lecture lets out just before four and Zayn picks up his notebook, puts his pen in his pocket and walks out the door. Already the gloomy prequel to sunset has settled over the quad and the November wind cuts through his unzipped jacket.
He’s got an essay due at the end of the month so he walks to the library and searches articles, which he saves as pdfs and emails to himself so he can read them later. He finds half a dozen that seem strongly related to his final paper and a meta-analysis that he hopes he can crib the rest of his sources from. The library always has this old smell - not dusty like the inner binding of a hardcover book, but stale like the carpets have gone too long without being cleaned.
He knows it’s just the normal mope of shortened days and impending finals, but as he sits by himself at a table, he feels the solitude more acutely than usual. He leaves the library and heads to the bus terminal.
Niall’s moving to a new flat and Zayn said he’d come by after class to help. He owes Niall from that time in first year when he drank too much, barfed all over Niall’s hightops, and still Niall dragged him back to his flat and stayed with him until morning. And from the time in second year when Niall single-handedly coached him through the final for his Spanish elective. And the beginning of this year when Niall camped out in his bedroom for three days straight to nurse Zayn through his breakup with Sean with a surprisingly potent combination of Jason Stratham movies and a cherry red water bong.
But just because he owes Niall for his physically, intellectual and emotional well being, it doesn’t mean that he’s going to help carry boxes. Niall lives on the fifth floor and forgot to book the lift, so they have to walk up the stairs.
Louis sits himself unapologetically in Niall’s bedroom and Zayn follows after him, halfheartedly packing the rest of Niall’s clothes while they avoid any heavy lifting. When they run out of jeans to refold and have to venture out, Liam and another guy Zayn has never seen before are trying to make the couch fit through the front door.
Harry, Zayn thinks when he can finally make himself blink again. Niall said that Harry would also be coming.
Zayn’s heard of Harry before, just like he’s heard of all of his roommate Louis’s friends in Louis’s various stories. Harry’s in law, friends with the dj at the campus radio station and helped Louis make chicken parm before his first date with Eleanor. He and Louis were roommates before Zayn and Louis were roommates, and Harry and Niall are friends just like Niall and everyone are friends. Louis had mentioned everything about Harry except the most important bits, like how tightly Harry wears his jeans and the dark ink splashed across his collarbones.
Harry’s wearing a plaid shirt with only two buttons done up, underneath another plaid shirt in a slight different shade of red that has none of the buttons done up. His hair is wrapped in a green headband and he’s got both a crucifix and a star of David around his neck. He’s sweating a little from the effort, and the exposed skin of his clavicle shines.
Zayn stands frozen, only moving again to shake Louis off when he lays a hand down on Zayn’s shoulder and says, “Easy there, tiger.”
Niall comes up while Zayn’s still trying to glare Louis into the ground and pats each of Zayn’s nipples and then his belly button.
“What’s happening here, then?” Niall asks cheerfully. He also seems to have avoided most of the heavy lifting. Niall’s a good lad.
“Zayn’s got love at first sight,” Louis says. “Again.”
“Aww,” Niall says, and cuffs Zayn gently on the jaw.
“I don’t,” Zayn says. “And it’s not again.” Just because sometimes Zayn meets people and knows he wanted to date them, it doesn’t mean that he’s always falling in love. He has a good aesthetic appreciation of objective facial symmetry. Sure, he ends up quite fond of the people he dates, but that’s just good relationship skills, not a sign of being an incurable romantic. And anyway, who’s Louis to talk, he hasn’t been single for more than a month in as long as Zayn’s known him.
Zayn sighs in a way that very clearly conveys all of that.
Louis sighs right back at him while Niall leans in to nuzzle at his shoulder, which Zayn takes to mean they understand his plight and admit graceful defeat.
Meanwhile, Harry lifts the bottom of his shirt to wipe at his brow.
He’s got an abdomen, Zayn notices. Objectively.
Niall takes them out for pints afterward, the five of them piling into a booth at the pub down the street where everyone from the bartender to the waitress knows Niall by name.
Zayn ends up sat beside Harry in a happy coincidence that arises from his carefully following directly behind Harry all the way into the pub.
“You live with Louis, right?” Harry asks later in the evening when they’re on their third round of pints. Niall hasn’t made it back to the booth after being called into an impromptu darts tournament. Liam and Louis are playing cheerleaders, so it’s just Harry and Zayn in the booth. They don’t need to be sitting as close together now that they’ve got the table to themselves, but Harry doesn’t seem any more inclined than Zayn to move away.
“Yeah,” Zayn says. “You were housemates in first year, right?”
Harry nods. “And then he dropped out and I still wanted to live on campus.”
“Do you still live there?”
“Nah,” Harry says. “I’ve got a new place that’s like three steps away from a bus stop. I kind of realized it’d be easier to pass uni if I wasn’t, like, always at a party or whatever. I live alone now.”
“We’re not so bad with the parties,” Zayn says. Harry tilts his head pointedly and Zayn laughs, corrects himself: “Yeah, we’re pretty bad with the parties. Even managed to corrupt Liam. But Lou’s also good when I need to study.”
“You’re taking English?” Harry asks.
“Yeah,” Zayn says and tries not to look surprised. He knows that Louis tells him about everyone else, but it’s still a surprise to realize that Louis also tells other people about him as well.
“If you’re around on campus next week, maybe we could, like, meet up,” Harry says. “Take a study break together.”
“Sounds good.” Zayn has a lot of practice keeping his face impassive, so he thinks he plays it off well. So long as Harry doesn’t notice the way his hand shakes as he keys his number into Harry’s mobile.
“I’m going to get you a drink, okay?” Harry asks once Zayn passes the phone back.
Niall’s taken Harry’s seat when Harry gets back from the bar but Harry slides easily into the other side of the booth, pushing Zayn’s pint across the table.
“Oi, where’s mine?” Niall asks.
“This one’s for you,” Harry says and pushes his own glass across the table.
“Was that yours?” Niall asks, squinting suspiciously at Harry.
“Nope,” Harry says. “All for you.”
“I’m going to drink this,” Niall says warningly. “You’ve given it to me and I’m going to drink it. You’re too nice, but you’ll never learn unless I drink this beer.”
“Harry and I are sharing,” Zayn says. He passes his glass over to Harry, keeps nudging at the glass until Harry finally takes a sip, grinning at him from across the table.
“That’s disgusting,” Niall says, pulling his glass closer. “I’m not sharing this with anyone.”
“What about me?” Louis says as he flops down beside Niall. He tries to elbow Niall away from his beer, but Niall holds it tightly. “Niall, what about me, let me have a sip, Niall, Niall, Neil.”
“Mine,” Niall says fiercely. “I mean, Harry’s. But mine now.”
“Someone needs to get us another round,” Louis says. He looks up plaintively at Liam, who’s just about to sit down.
Liam holds out for about three hot seconds before doubling back to the bar.
“Sometimes you’ve just got to crack the whip.” Louis notices Zayn trying to coax the beer over to Harry again and says, “Zayn knows all about that.”
Harry looks up, this quick flash of green eyes. “Really?”
“Oh yeah,” Louis says dryly. “Zayn’s the kinkiest person I know. One time I think he had sex with the lights on.”
“There was also the time he sprinkled the bed with carnations instead of rose petals,” Niall offers.
“I didn’t,” Zayn says quickly when he notices Harry biting his lower lip. “Anyway, carnations are for funerals, so that would be kinky.”
Louis cackles. “I hope you’re into candlelight and, what, like, a bearskin rug,” Louis tells Harry.
Thankfully Liam comes back quickly, and he’s brought shots so everyone is distracted.
Zayn downs his shot gratefully before looking across the table at Harry, who’s already staring back at Zayn. Harry gives Zayn a quick smile and then swallows back his own shot.
Zayn’s mobile lights up with a new text, and he opens it to find a picture from Harry. It looks like he’s at the grocery shop and has artfully arranged a cucumber and two grapefruits on the conveyor belt. They’ve been texting almost every day for the last two weeks, but still Zayn gets more excited than he would ever admit when he sees Harry’s name come up on his mobile.
Zayn writes back, Aha! and then he spends the better part of an hour doodling Harry handling cucumbers. Then he scraps that sketch, draws it again so it looks more like the cucumber is a sword and less like it’s a phallus, adds the caption, Vas sapning vegetables, takes a photo and sends it over to Harry before he can second guess himself again.
He stares at his phone for the endless length of time it takes for Harry to text back (one minute and twenty-three seconds, according to his notoriously inaccurate clock). He’s meant to be revising for finals but the library’s crammed with the end of semester rush and it’s difficult to concentrate.
Harry texts, Instagramming it and when Zayn looks, he’s done one of those split shots where half the photo is his veg sculpture and the other half is Zayn’s doodle. It already has 21 likes. Zayn made a massive stink about never getting Instagram, but Harry posts pictures all the time, so he caved last weekend. Except he doesn’t want the other lads to know after he made a point of holding out for so long, so Harry’s currently the only person he follows.
Louis works at the shitty deli near their flat, so Zayn detours there when he’s finally satisfied himself with a reasonable balance of texting Harry and getting actual shit done. Who’s to say what constitutes reasonable, anyway? Zayn’s not studying maths. 50-50... 80-20, who can tell?
Louis’s sitting on the counter when Zayn walks inside, his apron tied around his neck like a bib instead of his waist. The shop is empty and Louis is wailing along with How To Save A Life.
Zayn met Louis in first year in drama class, which was Zayn’s only semester as a drama student and Louis’s only semester as a university student. Right out of university, drama seemed like fun, like getting to be seen, except it would be safe because he’d be pretending to be someone else. But it turned out to be a lot of hours of tech rehearsals and classes where they were supposed to learn to draw from their muse by keeping a journal about daily life. Also a full year dance class was required, so Zayn switched over to English immediately.
“Did you just come from uni?” Louis asks when Zayn sits down at the table closest to the cash register.
“Where’s your backpack?”
“Too cool for school, mate,” Louis says.
“‘s alright then,” Zayn says. His hands are just starting to warm up after the walk from the bus stop, and his skin feels tight and sharp.
“We’re having a party tonight,” Louis says and then quickly passes over a sandwich.
“Is today Friday?” Zayn asks. Their deal is that Louis is only supposed to throw parties on the weekend and that Zayn never has to leave his room if he doesn’t want to.
“Sure,” Louis says after a pause.
“It’ll be Friday in three hours.”
“I’ve got class tomorrow.”
“You signed up for an 8 am lecture; I literally don’t think you’ve made it there once this semester.”
“I went for the midterm,” Zayn says. It’s just a first year psych class he needs for the social science credit. The professor posts all the notes online. He’s still pulling an A.
“Do you have a midterm tomorrow? No? Great,” Louis says, as he tries to put the lid on a tub of mayo one-handed and almost sends it tumbling to the ground. “We can pick some beer up on the way home, right?”
Zayn never would have thought when they first met that he would be able to live with Louis, but they’re almost at one year as roommates now. Sure Louis’s the messiest person Zayn has ever met, but no matter what he has going on the next day, he’ll always stay up all night talking when Zayn gets in one of his moods where his brain goes off in a million directions and he has to talk it all out. Louis never comes in when Zayn’s got his bedroom door closed, and he always leaves sandwiches he’s smuggled from work for Zayn to have at lunch. That time they climbed up on the roof and got stuck, Louis was the one who finally threw himself down and tried to catch Zayn when it was his turn to jump as well.
He’s a good friend and a decent roommate except that when they’re both back in the flat, trying to find room in the fridge for all of the beer, and Zayn asks, “Is Harry coming?” Louis grins at him in a way that makes Zayn regret every single year of their friendship.
“I don’t know,” Louis ponders. “Hadn’t really thought to invite him. I mean, unless you can think of a reason why he might want to come.”
“You’re friends with him, dickhead,” Zayn says and then walks away because he actually can’t think of a better comeback. He slinks into his bedroom and closes the door, but he can still hear Louis laughing.
Louis yells, “Of course I invited him.”
Zayn humphs in the empty room and then looks around. He’s got notes and books and printouts piled high on his desk, his box of art supplies strewn across the floor. His bed is covered more with clothing than sheets. It’s still infinitely tidier than Louis’s room (and Zayn’s a student, he has an excuse), but nothing that Zayn would want anyone else to see.
Not that he’s counting on -- but even if he were, it’s none of Louis’s business.
Zayn spends too long cleaning his bedroom. It was due for a tidy, so that’s fine but by the time he’s started trying to pick an outfit people are already arriving. He still has to do his hair, and when he finally emerges from his room - quiff elevated, jeans skinny, t-shirt white - everyone’s already there. Conversation comes to a lull as he walks into the room.
“What was that one about the guy who fell in love with his own reflection?” Louis asks.
Zayn crosses his arms.
“Pythagoras,” Liam says.
Niall snorts. “No, that’s maths.”
“Who is it then?” Liam asks.
“One of them Greeks,” Niall says.
Narcissus, Zayn tells no one.
“Obviously it was one of the Greeks, Niall,” Louis says. “It was, like. Vanity. A play on the word vanity.”
“I was working on something,” Zayn says. And then, when he sees Louis open his mouth, says, “Not my hair. Something for uni.”
“You do know how to make an entrance,” Niall says. He cocks his head, gives Zayn a blatant up and down, purses his lips and winks.
“He does,” Harry says. “He even does this thing with his face.” Harry pulls his jaw forward, squints his eyes and smoulders sunnily at the group. It’s a better imitation than Zayn would ever admit.
Zayn opens his mouth, closes it again. Finally he settles on, “Nope,” and makes a beeline for the kitchen.
“It’s just that you’re a good looking lad,” Liam yells at Zayn’s retreating back.
He takes a beer out of the fridge, opens it, and starts drinking. Niall follows after him, grabs himself a beer. Louis comes in and tries to wrestle Zayn to the ground. Zayn’s in the middle of bludgeoning Louis with the roll of paper towel when Liam walks by, and they both go after his ankles instead.
Zayn opens himself a new beer and then grabs another bottle and walks into the living room. Harry’s stood by the arm of the futon, chatting with Leigh-Anne and Jesy, but he looks up when Zayn comes over.
“Do you still have that picture you drew?” Harry asks. And then, “Oh, sick, is this for me?” as Zayn passes over the beer.
“Yeah, maybe, I guess,” Zayn says. It’s folded up at the back of his notebook. “Why?”
“Were you going to do something with it, or can I have it?”
“You can have it,” Zayn says, and tries not to look too pleased.
“Cheers, mate,” Harry says. “It was wicked.”
He clinks their beer bottles together too enthusiastically and sends foam spilling. Zayn watches as Harry licks the side of his hand, the flash of Harry’s pink tongue and roundness of his cheeks as he laughs at himself.
The night rolls on until all the beer is gone and they have to start discussions of which pub to hit up next.
“That’s it for me,” Zayn says when the group heads to the door. “No, it’s okay, I’ve got lecture tomorrow.”
“I’ve just got this to finish,” Harry says quietly to Zayn, still holding the same mostly full bottle. “Is it alright if I stay back with you a bit?”
The apartment empties and once the door closes, it’s just Zayn and Harry in the suddenly silent apartment.
Harry has one arm crossed across his chest, the other holding the beer. He gives Zayn a little smile and tilts his head like he’s actually waiting for permission.
“Yeah,” Zayn says. He clears his throat to make it seem like that was the reason why his voice sounded suddenly tight. “I’m, ah. I’m just going to have a smoke.”
They don’t have a proper patio, but there’s a little landing off the back, by the entrance to their neighbour’s flat, with room enough for Zayn to stand. Harry follows after him, nearly braining himself on the climb out the window. Zayn catches his arm and then lets go again to light his cigarette.
“Do you want one?” he asks, putting the pack away when Harry shakes his head no.
“You’re not cross, right?” Harry asks.
Zayn tips his head back to exhale smoke. He says, “No, of course you can stay.”
“I meant about earlier,” Harry says. “The stuff about Narcissus.”
“Oh, right,” Zayn says. “You’re all a bunch of jokers.”
“It’s not really a joke, though,” Harry says.
He is tucked in the corner between the house and the railing, one foot crossed over the other so his stance is askew. He’s wearing a bomber jacket, but the zip is open, exposing a black t-shirt so sheer that Zayn can make out the darker patches of tattoos beneath the fabric. His hair is wrapped up in a red scarf and his two necklaces have tangled with each other at the base of his throat.
Zayn’s glad to have a cigarette so he knows exactly what to do with his hands.
“I was finishing something up,” Zayn says. “I don’t actually just stare at myself all the time.” He sounds sulkier than he means to.
“No, I mean--” Harry shuffles forward so he’s got both feet on the ground, his hand resting on the railing. Zayn feels Harry’s closeness in the confined space, but he holds his ground.
“It’s not a joke because you are quite fit,” Harry says.
“Oh,” Zayn says and then he cuts himself off because Harry is already leaning in for a kiss.
It’s awkward at first. Harry’s mouth is already open and his lip slides wetly across Zayn’s chin before they line up properly. Harry kisses like they already know each other’s bodies. He cups his hands low on Zayn’s hips and presses forward with the entire length of his body.
The kiss ends and Zayn steps back enough that he can see Harry’s face.
Harry presses his lips together and says, “You taste of smoke.”
Zayn’s still got a cigarette dangling between two fingers and he drops it to the ground and reaches for Harry with both hands. He ghosts his palms over Harry’s jaw, almost but not quite brushing his skin, and Harry tilts his head up like there was force behind Zayn’s touch. Zayn runs his fingers through the tighter curls and tucks the hair behind Harry’s ears in careful sweeps until finally it stays mostly in place.
He leans in until he can’t see Harry anymore, but still keeps his eyes open, nudges up against Harry’s nose with his own until Harry’s mouth falls open like he’s already gasping for it. Zayn kisses him again, wet and deep as he holds Harry steady, his palms cupping Harry’s neck, thumbs pressed to the sharp hinge of Harry’s jaw.
When he steps back again, Harry’s mouth is still parted and he takes a long time to blink his eyes open, squinting at Zayn like he’s something bright in the darkness.
“If the smoke bothers you...” Zayn says.
“It doesn’t,” Harry says immediately, his voice slow and thick.
“You want to go inside?” Zayn asks.
They go right to Zayn’s bedroom and fall onto the bed (neatly made), still kissing. Harry keeps making these breathy sounds while he rolls his hips against whatever part of Zayn’s body is closest, crouched over Zayn while Zayn lies flat on his back. Harry’s really fucking hard, but he finally stills when Zayn presses his palm to the flat of his lower back.
“Roll over, okay?” Zayn says and Harry immediately flips himself over and lies back on the bed.
He shed his jacket on the way through the house, but he’s still got his t-shirt and jeans. Zayn can see the way his erection is straining against the denim and he runs his hand up Harry’s thigh, all the way up until he can cup his hand over Harry’s cock. Harry makes a short, high noise at the first touch, his hips jumping as he rides into Zayn’s hand. He scrambles to take off his own shirt.
He keeps moving when Zayn goes to work on his zip, enough that Zayn has to say, “Just give me a sec,” and then Harry goes plank still on the bed. His nipples are tight and his whole chest raises in goosebumps when Zayn strokes from collarbone to hip.
His cock isn’t cut and Zayn wanks him off slowly. His foreskin slides easily over the wet head of his cock and there’s something stupidly hot about it, how different it is from the way Zayn wanks himself. Harry’s cock feels good in his hand. It feels good in his mouth when Zayn drops his head and sucks him down, big enough to stretch his jaw open.
Harry never starts moving again, so still and silent even as Zayn sucks him off. Zayn wishes he’d make a noise, something to hint at what he liked, because seems like it takes him a long time. Zayn hates this part of sleeping with someone for the first time: not having a baseline, not having anything to go off of except what he’s gleaned from grilling Louis about Harry’s past hookups. Zayn likes fucking around, but he likes knowing what he’s doing more than anything. Knowing his partner, their bodies, what they like and how to get them off the hardest. Even if he doesn’t know what, he can tell there’s something missing for Harry.
Zayn pulls off Harry’s cock but keeps wanking him. It’s difficult to make out Harry’s face in the soft darkness of the bedroom with only the light streaming in from the hall.
Zayn asks, “What do you like? Do you want faster or slower or?”
“It’s good,” Harry says quickly.
“You sure?” Zayn asks. “You’re not going to hurt my feelings.”
“Yeah, if you just -- I’m really close,” Harry says, though Zayn wouldn’t have guessed it from looking at him. Harry never seemed like he’d be quiet in bed, but maybe that was just wishful thinking. Zayn continues pulling Harry off and eventually Harry huffs and comes across his belly.
Zayn lies down on the bed beside him, keeping enough distance between their bodies that they don’t touch.
Zayn’s still fully dressed. It’s gone past 2 a.m. and he was drunk and now he’s tired. Harry’s even hotter naked than he is clothed, something Zayn wouldn’t have thought possible before this evening, but he seems far away and Zayn doesn’t feel like pulling his own cock out.
“Do you want to sleep over?” Zayn offers, rolling off the bed and pulling his sleep pants out of the dresser. He changes out of his clothes with his back to Harry because he doesn’t want to know if Harry is watching him, but when he turns around again, it’s clear that he has been.
“Sorry,” Harry says. “I can go.”
“You can stay,” Zayn says. He turns the lights out and crawls over Harry to get to his spot on the bed, against the wall.
Zayn pulls the covers over both of them. Harry’s naked and warm under the blankets, and he curls up against Zayn.
“Should I, like. Do something, maybe?” Harry whispers. “For you?”
“Tomorrow,” Zayn says and then wonders if that was too presumptuous.
Harry doesn’t seem to mind. He squirms closer until he can twist their legs together, folding himself against Zayn until they’re sharing the same pillow. Harry’s headband has come off and his curls tickle Zayn’s cheek. Zayn brushes them away, but Harry goes so soft and sweet at the first touch of Zayn’s fingers through his hair that Zayn keeps on, combs his fingers through Harry’s curls until both of them fall asleep.
Harry’s already awake and thumbing through his phone when Zayn finally wakes up in the morning.
“Sorry,” he says, when Zayn rolls over. “Did the light wake you up?”
“It was fine,” Zayn says. “Have you been up for long?”
“Little bit,” Harry says.
“You didn’t have to wait for me.”
“Wanted to,” Harry says. He drops his phone onto the bedside table and shimmies along the mattress until their bodies are pressed together again.
Zayn flexes his toes, and says, “I’m hungry.”
“Hi Hungry, I’m Harry,” says Harry.
Zayn blinks and Harry snickers to himself.
“Terrible,” Zayn says, shaking his head.
“Mh,” Harry mumbles as he sits up. He presses his hot mouth to Zayn’s pec, sucks a careful wet kiss above Zayn’s nipple and then flicks his tongue over Zayn’s nipple, proper. He drags his lips down the flat stretch of Zayn’s belly until his chin bumps against Zayn’s cock. Zayn flexes hips and watches the way his cock bobs against Harry’s cheek where he’s nuzzling at it.
“I’m hungry, too,” Harry says and then takes Zayn’s cock into his mouth.
Harry stays and makes breakfast, even for Louis, who seems to be appeased enough by food not to offer any additional commentary.
Zayn doesn’t make it to class, but he and Harry head down to campus together, where Harry goes to lecture and Zayn holes himself up in the library. He keeps getting distracted, feels his eyes glaze over as he thinks about coming in Harry’s mouth and the sweet way Harry kissed him goodbye at the bus stop and the stupid story Harry had told him about this new place he’d found to buy bagels. He thinks about how Harry’s cock felt in his hand. How slow he was with his own orgasm compared to how hard he worked to get Zayn off. The library’s not the best place to think about sex, but at least the desk hides the line of his hard cock in his trousers.
Zayn sets his phone on the table, behind the binding of his textbook because this is supposed to be a phone-free study room, and tries to decide if it’s too soon to text Harry.
Of course it’s too soon to text Harry.
He stares at the blank screen of his phone while he ponders and then suddenly the phone lights up.
New Message From Harry: We’re talking about tort and it’s making me hungry, maybe wanna grab a bite later?
Then, get it? Tort/e?
Zayn smothers his grin with the back of his hand and texts back, Aha! :) Whens your last class?
They eat burgers and go back to Harry’s place, because he doesn’t have a roommate.
Zayn kicks off his shoes and watches Harry do the same, passes his coat over to Harry to hang in the little closet beside the front door.
“Do you want tea?”
Zayn shakes his head and lets Harry pull him in for a kiss instead.
They had a couple of pints over dinner and Harry’s cheeks are flushed from the cold. He slides his chilled fingers underneath Zayn’s shirt and pets his sides while Zayn curls his hand around the back of Harry’s neck and keeps the kiss going.
Harry bangs his elbow against the doorframe as they try to walk into the bedroom at the same time. Zayn laughs, then kisses away Harry’s little frown.
“You want to fuck me?” Zayn asks while Harry’s trying to wrestle his legs free of his skin-tight jeans, and Harry trips over himself reaching for the lube in the drawer of the nightstand.
Zayn strips down and stretches out in the middle of Harry’s bed, nods when Harry wiggles the bottle of lube. Harry does a pretty good job fingering him, watching anxiously between Zayn’s face and the wet glide of his fingers into Zayn’s ass.
Zayn says, “You can go,” and Harry pulls his hand away.
He rolls on a condom and pauses before asking, “Do you, like. Want to go on top?”
“Okay,” Zayn says and straddles Harry’s hips.
Harry’s got such a nice cock, big enough that it hurts a bit, even after being stretched. Zayn’s mouth falls open at the sharp feeling of being opened. He rides Harry slowly while Harry stares up at him, his hair wild against the pillow, hands pressed flat to his sides.
Zayn’s done this enough that he knows how he should be moving if he wants to get Harry off the fastest, but Harry’s being so weird and quiet that Zayn thinks maybe he’ll just get himself off instead.
He lifts almost off of Harry’s cock and sinks back slowly until, yeah, fuck, there, and then he grinds in circles, letting the pleasure spread slow as smoke. He braces himself on Harry’s chest and reaches for his own cock with his other hand, jerking himself off in counterpoint to the rhythm of his hips. His thighs start shaking and he knows his fingers are digging into Harry’s chest, but Harry leaves his own hands down at his thighs and doesn’t complain.
They’re hardly moving but Zayn is sweating and he can feel his hand sliding across Harry’s wet chest. It feels intense suddenly, though Zayn couldn’t articulate why -- something in the way that Harry is staring at him. The tense line of his body. The strangled sounds that slip out.
Zayn wanks himself faster, rides Harry harder. He comes all over Harry’s chest. His hips jerk as he fucks himself through it until there’s come all across Harry’s belly, white streaks over the black of his tattoos. Zayn squeezes himself through the last of his orgasm then smears his hand through the mess, rubbing his come into Harry’s skin.
Zayn is still stupid from coming, barely moving now, his head gone white and bright. It’s hard to hear past the static in his ears. Harry gasps out something that sounds like, “Zayn, fuck, can I come?” as he lifts both hands above his head to brace his fingers against the wall.
“Yeah,” Zayn says and rocks back against him again and again. He’s shaking even harder now, but it’s not long until Harry comes, suddenly noisy when he had been quiet for so long.
Zayn waits until Harry stops crying out before easing off his cock. His thighs burn, and he stands up to stretch his legs up. Harry’s lying in the center of the bed, covered in Zayn’s come, his cock slowly softening in the condom. He still has his hands twisted above his head so his body is one continuous line of bare skin. He twists his head, his face mostly hidden in the inside of his arm, and watches Zayn watching him.
Zayn’s naked too, but he doesn’t feel it. He feels like -- he doesn’t feel naked. Harry’s fringe is sweaty against his forehead and his belly heaves as he tries to catch his breath. Zayn watches the soft part under Harry’s rib cage and wonders if Harry knows how he looks right now. Even under the weight of Zayn’s stare, Harry doesn’t try to cover up.
He’s going to get cold soon, Zayn thinks. He forces himself to look away, telling Harry, “I’ll get you a flannel,” and squeezing his ankle when he walks past the bed.
He wets the smallest towel he can find in Harry’s bathroom with hot water and brings his back to the bedroom, where Harry’s still lying quietly on the bed. He smiles up at Zayn while Zayn wipes him down, and finally lowers his arms to pull off the used condom.
“It’s not even ten yet,” Zayn says, after he’s pulled on his boxers and is sat on the side of the bed. “Did you have other plans for the night?”
“One of my mates is having a party,” Harry says. “I don’t -- I’d have to check on my phone.” His phone is in his jeans, which are down on the floor, and he looks concerned at the notion of having to reach for them.
“Just if there’s somewhere you want to go,” Zayn says.
“No, I’m good,” Harry says. “Right?”
“Yeah,” Zayn says, tipping over so he’s lying down on the bed beside him. “You’re good.”
They lie quietly, but Zayn’s wide awake and he thinks Harry is as well. Zayn wants to know what Harry’s thinking, if he felt the strange intensity as well or if that was all in Zayn’s head. Zayn hadn’t been doing much, maybe Harry was just bored.
“If there’s other stuff you wanted to try, you should just tell me, okay?” Zayn wipes his hand over his face and then glances over at Harry.
“It’s nice,” Harry says. There’s something weird in his smile, but when Zayn gives him a skeptical look, he just flops over, squirming like a seal until he’s lying on top of Zayn.
Zayn laughs and wraps his arms around Harry, holding him tightly even though the weight of his body makes it a little difficult to breath.
They celebrate Louis’s birthday early, everyone piling into Eleanor's flat. She’s spiked eggnog and made punch and Zayn doesn’t even know what’s in it but it tastes like cherry chapstick and goes down easy.
Zayn’s in the mood for a party, happy to be surrounded by a crowd, glad for the loud music and the mistletoe hanging in every doorway.
He and Harry didn’t come together, but they’ve been texting every day. Yesterday, Harry instagrammed a picture of Zayn’s sleeping face, so the next time he sleeps over, Zayn’s going to have to get Harry back. He likes that: knowing there will be a next time even if he doesn’t know when exactly it will be.
Zayn helps himself to punch, passing Niall in the doorway to the kitchen and giving him a long smooch on the side of the head. Niall’s wearing a headband with reindeer antlers and has a string of bells around his neck.
Louis comes up while Niall’s in the middle of very earnestly wishing Zayn a Happy Holidays and cuts Niall off by licking his cheek.
“Happy Birthday, bro,” Zayn says, pulling Louis in for a hug.
“Leemo’s pouring shots,” Louis says in a very loud whisper. “I know I’m the one who corrupted him, but I think he’s got me drunk.”
Back in the main room, Harry comes up and finishes the last of Zayn’s punch, setting the empty cup on the table. Childish Gambino is playing on the stereo and Harry wraps his arm around Zayn’s shoulder, pressing his smile against Zayn’s cheek and mumbling, “Don’t be mad cause I’m doing me better than you’re doing you.”
Zayn laughs and swings Harry around. Harry wiggles his eyebrows and starts thrusting in the air. Zayn falls into place beside him and they start dancing, elbow, elbow, knee, knee, pivot, hips, wiggle, arms, wiggle, arms, wiggle. It’s the stupid dance they choreographed late last weekend, drunk and a bit stoned, playing music through the speakers of Harry’s iPhone on the rooftop patio. It’s not properly a dance, just some jazzercise moves and a lot of hip thrusts, but Harry doesn’t stop grinning the entire time, thrusting himself closer and closer to Zayn until they’re dancing with each other, choreography forgotten. Harry’s back is damp when Zayn slides his fingers under his t-shirt to pull him in, eyes bright, cheeks flushed, lips parted as he throws his head back and laughs.
Zayn grinds up against him, holds him tight and waits for him to catch his breath before leaning in for a kiss.
They stumble back to Harry’s apartment after catching the last bus of the night. Harry starts stripping immediately, dropping his clothes on the floor as he leads them back to the bedroom. He won’t stop kissing Zayn, even when Zayn gets his arm stuck after trying to pull off his shirt and sweater at the same time.
“What do you like the best?” Zayn asks when they pause the kiss long enough to breathe. “How do you want to get off?”
“With you,” Harry says and pulls Zayn down for another kiss.
They rut against each other until the friction gets too rough and then Harry squirts lube over both their cocks and they make a mess trying to wank each other off at the same time, lube smearing up their bellies and onto the sheets. Harry gets both of their cocks in his hand but can’t keep hold enough to wank them, so Zayn reaches down to help, and when they finally come, it’s more from squirming than anything else.
Harry changes the sheets and then presses himself behind Zayn and won’t let go as he walks them over to the shower, his naked skin sticking to Zayn’s back as he mumbles nonsense into the curve of Zayn’s neck.
In the shower Zayn washes Harry’s hair and uses the foam to give Harry a mohawk.
“Sick,” Zayn says, admiring his work. Then he pushes it back down again. “But maybe not with those lovely curls.”
He pushes Harry’s hair all to one side of his head, slicking his fringe down at the front.
“Look at how pretty you are,” he croons, wiping the suds away from Harry’s eyes with the back of his hand.
Harry is pliant under Zayn’s touch, only moving to kiss Zayn back. He lets Zayn push him under the shower stream to rinse his hair and stands still while Zayn runs the bar of soap over every inch of his body.
“You’re so fit,” Zay says as he rubs his sudsy hands across the cut of Harry’s hips. “Your luscious curls and long eyelashes and your pretty mouth.”
“Zayn,” Harry says, his voice caught somewhere between a moan and a laugh. He lifts his leg so that Zayn can swipe the soap across the bottom of his foot.
“Nice willy, too,” Zayn says. Harry’s hard again and his dick gives a little jump when Zayn nudges at it with the bar of soap.
He starts dropping to his knees, but Harry beats him to it and both of them end up pressed together on the floor of the shower, legs overlapping in the small space.
The water is running down their faces so Zayn closes his eyes as soon as their mouths are lined up properly for the kiss. Everything’s wet, Harry’s skin soft and slick in the water. He feels amazing and Zayn wants to touch him everywhere. Zayn likes orgasms, but sometimes he thinks he might like this even more, being this close to another person, the intimacy of familiarity.
Harry’s shaking a little, but he leans in to every one of Zayn’s touches, every movement of his body so sweet for Zayn, like he knows exactly what Zayn wants and he’s happy to give it all away.
They spend the first week back to classes in January mostly at Harry’s flat, so Louis insists on lads night over the weekend. The five of them pile together in Zayn and Louis’s flat, Harry in between Zayn and Liam on the couch, Niall sitting on Louis’s lap in the big arm chair. Louis keeps shifting his legs like he’s going to dump Niall on the floor, but he always catches him with an arm around his waist at the last minute.
They finished watching Anchorman 2 with Niall’s laptop hooked up to the telly and Louis reaches for the lightswitch behind his head.
“Aww,” he says when he realizes that Zayn’s got his hand curled around Harry’s thigh. “If you lads weren’t so insufferable, I would almost think it was cute.”
“Hey,” Harry says slowly.
Niall barks out a loud laugh. “I learned to be a man watched you two chat each other up.”
“You’re still not a man,” Louis points out.
“I can grow chest hair now,” Niall says, pulling the hem of his vest down. “Just look at that. It’s like a cornfield.”
“Majestic,” Zayn says solemnly.
“Anyway, you’re lucky Harry’s such a charmer. I told Zayn that having nice hair and staring longingly wasn’t going to work, but he never listens.”
“Nah, that’s exactly what did it,” Harry says, rubbing his shoulder against Zayn.
“If you thought Zayn was bad, you should have heard Harry,” Liam says. He drops his voice and grumbles, “Did you see this picture Zayn drew? He’s such a good artist. Did you see the jacket he was wearing? Do you know that Zayn got a new tattoo?”
“Excuse me, Liam,” Harry says. “I was just talking about one of our mutual friends. Something you have also been known to do.” His voice sounds mostly the same, except it rises steadily higher and higher as he says, “Louis and I are going surfing and then we’re going to rent bikes because he’s so clever and funny and he has so many good ideas and did I mention that we were going surfing?”
Liam crosses his arms, outraged. “That’s not at all the same thing!”
“I’m just saying,” Harry says. “I’m pretty sure that even my landlady knew when you and Louis were going surfing.”
“Oh, Jesus. You shut up,” Liam says. He whacks his hand down, still holding the remote, and maybe he was aiming for Harry’s leg but he hits him squarely in the junk.
Harry’s entire body folds in as his hands fly to his crotch. He cups himself and takes a couple of shaky breaths while Zayn watches the rise and fall of his shoulders.
Louis laughs loudly while Niall hollers, “You got him good. Harry, you alright, mate?” and Liam looks so shocked and alarmed that Zayn almost starts laughing as well.
Liam keeps trying to get Harry to sit up, but Zayn pushes him away, saying, “Leave him be. He’s okay.” He presses his hand high on Harry’s back and rubs gentle while Harry takes a great shuddering breath and whines, “Liam, you animal.”
“I didn’t mean to,” Liam says.
Eventually Harry sits up again, shoves jokingly at Liam but doesn’t seem too bothered, even though he leaves his hand cupped around his junk. They put another movie on and Zayn waits until the lights are out before whispering, “You good?” He drops his hand into Harry’s lap and gives a little squeeze, just friendly, but Harry’s leg jerks out, banging against the coffee table.
Zayn shushes him and rubs over his thigh, waits until Harry has settled before he slips his hand a little higher so that his wrist bumps up against the soft bulge of Harry’s bollocks.
“Sore?” he whispers.
Harry licks his lips before mouthing, “Yeah.” He’s still and tense, looking between his lap and Zayn’s face, so Zayn just cups over him once, gently, and pulls his hand away.
It’s dark, so he must be imagining the look of disappointment on Harry’s face. Still, there’s no mistaking the way he cuddles into Zayn, pressing against his side and refusing to move for the rest of the night.
“How are your bits?” Zayn asks later that night when he and Harry have stopped kissing long enough to undress themselves.
Harry pauses, like it takes a moment for him to remember what Zayn is asking about, but then he closes his hand around his cock and says, “Oh, yeah, fine.”
“We don’t need to bench you for the season?”
Harry laughs, but just quietly, like he’s thinking about something else. He climbs up onto the bed and watches as Zayn pulls off his socks.
“It really hurt,” he says. There’s a note to his voice that Zayn can’t identify. He doesn’t sound angry or bitter, so Zayn doesn’t know what the heavy weight in his voice is.
“Yeah?” Zayn says.
“Yeah,” Harry echoes. He makes eye contact with Zayn for a long moment, then blinks himself out of it and says, “Come here.”
Zayn crawls after him onto the bed and forgets everything else in the clever slide of Harry’s tongue, the way his thighs part to make room for Zayn to settle between his legs, both of them already hard and thrusting lazily against each other.
Zayn sits back on his heels and looks down at Harry. His hair is already a mess and the flush from his cheeks has started to travel down his chest. His cock is fat and heavy, his nipples tight. He looks really fucking turned on, given that not much has happened yet. Zayn runs his hands up the flat line of Harry’s belly, pausing at his nipples to scratch gently with the edge of his thumbnail.
Harry hisses, opens his mouth and makes an aborted noise before shutting it again.
“What?” Zayn says. He wiggles his fingers across the spot where Harry’s breastbone goes concave.
“Nothing,” Harry says.
“Tell me,” Zayn says. He opens his hand and holds it firm to Harry’s chest while he waits.
Harry makes a face and shakes his head, but when Zayn doesn’t move, he finally says, “You don’t have to be careful. If you wanted to, like. Make it hurt.”
“I can be careful and still make it hurt,” Zayn says.
Harry inhales sharply. Zayn can feel the movement of his breath under his palm.
“Okay,” Harry says. “If you -- please.”
“Tell me if you want me to stop,” Zayn says.
Harry nods swiftly, and Zayn can read the anticipation in every tight line of Harry’s body, the way he already seems to be straining.
Zayn trails his fingers across Harry’s chest and waits for Harry to stop jerking at each featherlight touch. Once Harry settles again, Zayn rubs his fingertips across Harry’s nipples, already hard, teasing for a long moment and then catching them between his thumb and index fingers. He pinches slowly, twisting a little as he gradually increases the pressure. He watches Harry’s face the entire time, mapping the crease between his eyebrows and the way he tenses against it but doesn’t pull away.
Harry looks like he’s concentrating really hard. He stays quiet, even once Zayn is pinching hard. Zayn waits and watches and finally Harry exhales slowly. His brow smooths out and he sucks on his lower lip, muffling a small whimper. He’s still except for his cock, which twitches, sending a wet smear across his belly.
“Why didn’t you say this is what you wanted?” Zayn asks. He eases the pressure of his fingers for a moment before clamping down again.
Harry’s voice is high and wavery when he answers, “I didn’t know if you’d be into it.”
“I’m into you,” Zayn says, bracing himself on Harry’s chest so he can bend down for a kiss. Harry’s mouth is loose and soft and he opens immediately for Zayn’s tongue.
“Tell me what you like,” Zayn says when he sits back again.
“What you were doing was good,” Harry says. “Like pinching, or maybe if you wanted to, um, slap me.”
“Where do you like to be slapped?” Zayn asks.
Harry huffs out a soft breath, arching upwards. “Anywhere.”
“How about here?” Zayn asks, trailing a finger up the back of Harry’s cock.
“Oh, god,” Harry says, but even more telling is the way his cock jumps under Zayn’s light touch.
Zayn never thought he’d be grateful for the summer after first year he spent holed up in his room watching the weirdest porn he could find -- not even because he found most of it hot, but out of a fascination to see what the human body was capable of taking. He’s never done this in person, but he saw a film where someone smacked the guy’s sac until it was swollen and even the lightest touch made him cry out.
It’s different doing it than watching it. Harry’s cock is so hot and the skin feels preternaturally soft, even though he’s as hard as Zayn has ever seen him. Zayn hesitates for a moment, but it’s clear that Harry wants it, so he forces himself through the wave of doubt, bringing his hand down to backhand Harry’s cock, the tips of his fingers catching on his balls.
He might have hit a little too hard right off because Harry curls in on himself, his shoulders coming off the bed, and he makes a sound like the air is being kicked from the bottom of his lungs.
But he settles again, peels his thighs open and waits for Zayn to hit him again.
“Was that okay?” Zayn asks, petting at Harry’s belly.
“Yeah,” Harry said, and then in the same tone of voice, “it really hurt,” but Zayn knows what the sound is now, the tight note of arousal under a kind of breathless pride.
Zayn slaps at Harry again, a bit more gently this time, so Harry doesn’t take quite as long to pull himself back together in between slaps and he can build into something of a rhythm, his hand slapping steadily while Harry gets ever more whimpery.
He leaves his hand on Harry’s cock after the last slap, squeezing slowly as he ducks down to set his teeth into the fleshy part of Harry’s inner thigh.
Harry goes crazy with it, thrusting up into Zayn’s hand.
“Stay still,” Zayn says, smacking blindly at Harry’s hip. He needs Harry still so he can concentrate on getting an even circle with his mouth.
Harry groans and then stops moving, lets Zayn part his thighs so he can get his teeth into the soft skin. Zayn doesn’t think it’ll be enough to make Harry bruise, but suddenly he can picture it: Harry’s skin mottled in purples and reds. Zayn doesn’t usually think much about hurting other people, but he’ll do anything that has Harry reacting like this, whimpering in the back of his throat as he tries, and sometimes fails, to stop himself from fucking up into the loose grip Zayn has around his cock.
Zayn’s feet are dangling off the end of the bed. He pulls his legs under himself and sits up so he can get a better grip on Harry’s cock, using his other hand to press into the red spots on Harry’s thighs. He could bruise Harry and touch the marks afterwards and maybe Harry would react like this again, yelping at the first firm touch, his cock jerking in Zayn’s hand. They haven’t used lube but Harry’s already so wet.
“I, um. I think I’m close,” Harry says and then bites down on his lower lip.
“Can you go more than once?” Zayn asks.
Harry gasps and then nods, squirming against the sheets.
“Hmm,” Zayn says, wanking him harder and faster before abruptly halting the movement of his hand. He gives one long stroke all the way up the length of Harry’s cock, lingering over the head. “No, maybe not,” he says and lets go completely.
“God,” Harry says. He shivers with his whole body, hips rocking into the air, and then laughs breathlessly as he rubs his cheek against the pillow.
Zayn sets his nails into the cut of Harry’s hips and pulls down hard, scratching all the way down the meaty part of Harry’s thighs. The skin blooms red when Zayn pulls his hands away, eight mostly straight lines swelling up. Zayn strokes over them with his palms and feels the way the muscles in Harry’s thighs shift beneath his skin.
Harry whimpers and asks, “How do you know how to do this?”
“I’m just watching you.” Zayn runs his hand from Harry’s collarbone to the v-cut of his hips and notes the way Harry’s abs clench when Zayn’s hand passes over his nipple. “You give it all away.”
He pulls his hand back and slaps at Harry’s cock again, watching the way the momentum makes it bounce against Harry’s thigh. Harry moans, his toes curling.
Harry chokes out something that starts as yes and turns into please when Zayn slaps his cock again.
Zayn curls his hands around Harry’s thighs, pushes his legs open as wide as they’ll go. The scratches are still standing out red, the bite marks fading into a deep pink. Harry arches his hips up until Zayn can see his hole.
“You good to get fucked?” Zayn asks. Harry nods quickly as Zayn reaches for the lube.
He rolls on a condom and slicks himself up but doesn’t use more than a quick wet slide of one finger to open Harry before he pushes inside with his dick. Harry’s louder than Zayn’s ever heard him, grunting impossibly low in his chest as Zayn’s cock splits him open. Zayn holds his thighs wide, keeps his hips tilted up, and even though Harry’s a couple inches taller, he feels full trapped under Zayn’s body.
Zayn drops his head so that his face is hanging close to Harry’s and starts fucking him with deep jabs of his cock. He’s hardly moving but each thrust drives another grunt from Harry, who keeps twisting his fists above his head until finally Zayn takes the hint. He drops his grip on Harry’s legs and reaches for his wrists instead, pressed them on the mattress with the full weight of his body. He has to hold on tightly for leverage as he continues to fuck Harry, but Harry just lets his fingers curl loosely, noisier than ever, his hips bucking up to meet every one of Zayn’s thrusts.
Harry goes suddenly silent. His back arches and he fucks himself as deep as he can get on Zayn’s cock, clenching even tighter than before. His eyes roll back in his head and it seems like his entire body is being pulled by strings. It would be terrifying if it wasn’t also the hottest thing Zayn had ever seen in his life and Zayn comes too, as sudden as a thunderclap, crying out. He pushes in deep and rocks slowly, keeps Harry’s wrists pinned down and waits for Harry to finish coming.
Finally Harry gasps, so fucking loud after the endless moment of him holding his breath, and his body sinks back into the mattress. He’s trembling all over. Zayn eases his cock out carefully. He covers Harry’s body with his own, their thighs twisting together. He pets Harry’s wet cheeks and pushes his sweaty fringe away from his eyes, kisses Harry’s lax mouth and and his neck and his forehead.
He lifts Harry’s hands from where they’re still on the bed above his head and presses a kiss into each palm before lowering them back down at his sides.
It takes Harry a long time to stop shaking, even longer before he speaks again, but Zayn keeps rubbing at his skin like he can pet the goosebumps away.
“I’ve never come like that,” Harry says finally, his face pressed into Zayn’s neck.
“You good, babe?” Zayn asks, clinging to Harry just as tightly as Harry is clinging to him.
Harry wraps his thigh around Zayn’s hip and groans and laughs and says, “Umm, yeah.”
Zayn strokes Harry’s back, dipping his fingers onto Harry’s crack to rub over the wet softness of his hole.
“Was that too much?” Zayn asks when Harry whimpers, his mouth pressed into Zayn’s neck so he can feel the sound as well as hear it.
“Hurt really good,” Harry says. Zayn dips his finger inside, just to the first knuckle, and Harry groans breathlessly. “Everything hurt so good.”
“We can take a bath after,” Zayn says. He aches a little too, just the full body throb after intense sex. He can only imagine what Harry must be feeling, but Harry doesn’t seem fussed about it.
“Kind of wish I’d told you about that sooner,” Harry says.
“We’ll make up for lost time,” Zayn promises.
By the time they manage to let go of each other long enough to make it to the bathroom and drag themselves out of the bathtub again, it’s almost six am. It’s still winter dark, but Zayn pulls Harry into the kitchen and sits him up on the counter, naked except for his towel, while Zayn makes them both scrambled eggs and turkey bacon.
They eat off the same plate in bed and Zayn licks the bacon grease off Harry’s fingers. He pushes Harry back against the pillows and peels his towel away, saying, “Did you bruise for me, babe?”
“A little,” Harry decides after they’ve both stared at his bare thighs for a long moment, inspected the faint smears of purple.
“Yeah,” Zayn says, suddenly breathless. He can’t stop touching, rubbing his fingers over the marks until Harry’s hard again, and once Zayn’s finished sucking him off, Harry holds very still while Zayn jerks off onto his thighs.
“Is the pizza ever coming?” Louis groans.
“Did you give them the door buzzer?” Zayn asks.
“Liam made the call,” Louis says.
“I don’t know your buzzer,” Liam says.
“How do you get in all the time?” asks Louis.
“People hold the door for me.”
“If we ever get robbed, I’ll know it was you,” Louis says.
“The person is probably just locked outside,” Zayn says. “The pizza. Lads, the pizza, someone has to go get the pizza.”
Their first mistake was smoking up before they had achieved pizza in their actual premises. It was a beginner blunder, so everyone’s blaming Liam.
Liam goes downstairs and retrieves the pizza from the delivery man who was in fact waiting on the street.
They eat and toke up again and Louis and Liam stretch out on the floor to play FIFA while Zayn leans his head against the back of the couch and thinks about how his breath feels filling his chest. He’s full and warm, Harry on the other side of the couch, Niall’s legs stretched across Zayn’s lap.
He reaches over to touch his knuckles to the corner of Harry’s mouth like he can push his own smile into Harry’s mouth.
“Are you like proper boyfriends?” Niall asks. They were sitting beside each other on the couch when Niall came in, and now he’s stretched across both of their laps. Zayn has been tracing gentle circles around Niall’s knee while Harry tries to twist Niall’s fringe into a unicorn horn in the middle of his forehead.
Zayn looks over at Harry across the stretch of Niall’s body to find that Harry’s already looking at him. Zayn smiles reflexively and Harry beams back. His whole face changes when he smiles: the dimples and his laugh lines and the pink stretch of his lips. Zayn feels his own smile slide into something different, something soft and private. He knows he’s giving himself away, but Harry doesn’t blink. It feels like a promise.
“I guess so, Nialler,” Zayn says. He squeezes Niall’s thigh.
“Do you want to be our son?” Harry offers.
“Yeah,” Niall says. He’s got his eyes closed like he might fall asleep, so Zayn continues stroking his legs. Zayn has his head dropped, but he thinks Harry can probably still see the soppy look on his face.
“You give it all away too,” Harry says after a long moment of quiet.
Zayn glances at Niall, who’s seems to have fully fallen asleep, before looking up at Harry.
“Yeah?” Zayn asks, his voice hushed.
Harry nods, lifting his hand to thread his fingers between Zayn’s.
“Yeah,” Harry says. He rubs his thumb across the back of Zayn’s hand and gives him a tight squeeze. And then says, “Do you think you can stand up without waking Niall? We should get a bowl of warm water to see if he’ll wee himself.”
“What a thing to do to our son,” Zayn says, but already he’s trying to slide out from under Niall’s legs to sneak into the kitchen, leaning over the back of the couch to press a kiss to the top of Harry’s head before he goes.