It happens like this:
First, Harry gets them a cat. One day, he's blinking back excited tears and grinning at the pictures of Ed's new kitten, cooing something along the lines of how cute, Lou, he saved him from being put down, that's so amazing, hey look at this photo of Graham licking his own butt. The next day, he walks around the house meowing Happily, and the day after, he goes out "to see Ben" and comes back with a thing.
It's quite an adorable thing, Louis supposes. It's got four legs and a strange, swishy tail and toes that look like beans, a little pink nose and heaps of fluffy ginger fur.
Still, Louis had not agreed to this and, seeing as he is totally indisputably maybe not quite the man of the house, he's sure to let Harry know that.
"What is this?" he stands in the kitchen door, crossing his arms and trying to look extremely intimidating. He maybe possibly stands up on tiptoes, but nobody can prove that.
Harry has the decency to look sheepish, at least. He takes off his coat carefully, peeling off one sleeve, passing the thing into his other hand, then shrugging out of the other one, and oh, by the by, of course just one of Harry's gigantor hands is big enough to hold a fucking living animal. Of course.
Louis remains unimpressed.
"I got it from a shelter?" Harry tries.
"That's very altruistic of you, dear, but I recall you saying something about going to Ben's and stopping by the chemist's on the way back. I was expecting a nice Sunday in bed with a new tube of strawberry-flavoured lube."
Harry covers the kitten's ears, scandalised. Louis feels it like a gigantic punch to both his solar plexus and his steely resolve to resist the adorable.
"I bought passion fruit this time," Harry whispers. It's good to know he still has priorities, at least.
The kitten mewls, disgruntled at the giant hand still resting on its head, and stretches up a paw to bat it away half-heartedly. Louis maybe melts a little.
"I'm afraid you and your passion fruit will have to make your own fun," Louis quips. "You'll want to sleep with the thing, and I refuse to share a bed with another furry cuddler."
"Heey," Harry objects half-heartedly. He pouts down at the kitten, trying to communicate his frustration in what he apparently believes to be universal human-cat language, and he's rewarded with an unimpressed "meow". He still kisses the cat's nose, and Louis has had enough.
"So," he says, peeling himself off the wall. "Just to make this clear. You got yourself a cat. That you intend to keep in this house."
Harry frowns, expression shifting into that of a disgruntled toddler. "I got us a cat, Lou."
Louis is helpless. He has been helpless for three fucking years, under constant assault of green eyes and stupid curly hair and childish pouting, and if he gets murdered in a back alley because he's become too trusting for his own good, Harry Styles will be to blame.
"I want to have a cat with you," Harry goes on. "They're great snugglers. We can sit her with us on the sofa and show her Grease, and we can—oh, we can get her a tiny cat sofa, and she'll need lots of love so who better to have her with than you, really, and they say petting cats has therapeutic effects, unless you're allergic of course – shit, you're not allergic are you, I've never even realized, oh no—"
Louis kisses him. The thing squeaks indigantly when it's squished between their bodies, but it settles soon enough, and Louis feels its stupidly adorable little head burrow into the soft fabric of his jumper. He smiles into Harry's lips. It's a little worrying, how much he loves his boy and the things he'd let him get away with. He probably wouldn't mind a pet possum, as long as Harry would be happy.
"So," he says when he pulls away, grinning smugly at Harry's flushed cheeks and glassy eyes. "A girl cat, then?"
"Oh," Harry looks down at the kitten, like he'd forgotten it's still there. "Yeah, yes. I mean, I didn't really care, but I got there and I was looking in these cages and all of them looked so sad. And then the lady told me this one was an orphan and they had to bottle feed her since she was two days old and she looked at me and meowed – the kitten, I mean, not the lady. And she's just. Look at her."
"You're not hiding any more under your shirt, are you?" Harry looks slightly weepy as he shakes his head, all proud wobbly grin and watery eyes. Louis indulges him and observes the cat.
And the thing is, Louis knows fuck-all about felines, what with his mum being a dog person, but he's fairly sure they're not supposed to be this disarmingly cute. The kitten is unfairly fluffy, hair sticking up everywhere, with tiny chocolate chip-shaped ears and pale eyes. It's almost orange on the back, fading into pure white on its paws and its snout, where a pale pink nose is quivering with curious sniffles.
"Hey, thing," Louis grins.
"Lou," Harry chastises gently, looking about five seconds away from scratching them both behind the ears.
"Well it's not like she has a name, is it?"
"I was waiting to decide with you," Harry smiles, rocking back on his heels, and yes, of course he was.
"D'you want me to get the baby name book?"
It's an actual book they have. They don't talk about it.
"I was actually thinking…what about Princess?" Harry bites his lip. Louis tries not to be distracted and come up with a comprehensive list of reasons why naming the cat that would be a bad idea. She might not get teased by her classmates, seeing as there are no kitten schools—or maybe there are. He wouldn't put it past Harry to aggresively google until he finds one.
"Niall would never take her seriously," he settles on, in the end. Harry nods.
"I suppose. What about, um. Mitten?"
"Yeah. You know, kitten mittens. It rhymes. It's cute," Harry tilts his head. His eyes are sparkling, looking like the very picture of happiness. Louis is not sure if it's directed at him, or at Harry's fond memories of hours spent watching cat videos on YouTube.
"Mitten," Louis repeats. He looks down at the cat – their cat. "Mitten?"
Its left ear twitches as it stares all the way into Louis's soul. It looks ridiculously comfortable settled in Harry's hand, and Louis thinks he can sympathise.
"Alright," he says, looking back up. "Fine. She's Mitten. Zayn's gonna laugh at you, just so you know."
Harry grins, blindingly happy, and leans down to kiss him. Louis goes easily. "It's our cat, Lou. He's going to laugh at both of us."
Four hours later, they're back from the pet store, and the house looks like a primary school art class threw up in their foyer. For a reason that's completely beyond Louis, they've got seven cat beds ("she needs one in every room, Lou!"), close to fifteen different ceramic bowls, two huge cat trees (Harry wouldn't back down from the princess castle and Louis refused to leave the Spiderman one in the shop for people who wouldn't fully appreciate it), a pink litterbox, and twenty thousand different food and vitamin samples. Without Louis's knowledge, Harry had also snuck back and got her one of those tiny bell collars. With a One Direction motif, because he, apparently, appreciates the irony.
Once she's fed and watered, Mitten seems content, curling up on Harry's chest and purring quietly. Louis presses closer to the two of them, eyes stuck stubbornly to the episode of Friends playing on the screen. It's not like he particularly needs kitten snuggles; he's just fine over here, all cold and alone.
After a minute of silence, Harry pokes him with a toe. "Admit it."
"You're smitten with Mitten," he grins. Louis regrets every single one of his life choices.
Second, Harry goes completely off the rails. He has no obligation to traipse around the US of A anymore, which Louis is immensely thankful for, but once the novelty of having a new critter to spoil wears off, he gets restless.
First he starts jumping Louis at the most inopportune of times and dragging him to the bedroom like a caveman, but Louis is in his years now, and he can't go forever. When Harry's still not appeased, he starts going for two-hour jogs and then, just as Louis had feared, starts looking up "things to do with cats in london".
Then one evening, when Louis comes back from Sainsbury's with a bottle of wine and the chocolate Harry had requested, he finds him grinning and settled for the first time in days, sitting on the living room floor with Mitten, watching endless reruns of Bake-off and knitting.
In retrospect, Louis should have grabbed the yarn and run. Unfortunately, his own weakness for seeing his boy happy and bubbly and generally content prevents him from doing much more than going over and dropping a kiss into Harry's hair.
"What's this, then?"
"Hey, babe," Harry greets him with a sunny grin, like he's only just noticed Louis is back. "I'm knitting!"
He looks like a five-year-old. Louis is in love with a child. "I can see that, love. How's it going?"
Harry pats the floor next to him, inviting Louis to sit down, and who is he to refuse, really. He settles on the carpet criss cross applesauce and leans heavily into Harry's side, careful not to jostle his arm. Mitten lifts her head from the immense comfort of Harry's lap (trust Louis, he knows) and greets him with a yawn full of tiny sharp teeth. Louis is hopelessly enamoured by her little pink tongue and beady eyes.
"It's going great, actually," Harry answers. "It's, like, a calming method or summat. Mum said I should try it."
Louis absently strokes Harry's thigh, observing the shapeless, wonky heap of knit that's slowly piling up on the ground next to him. It's a garishly orange colour, but Harry is looking at it like it's the most precious thing he's ever owned. Louis is definitely not jealous of fabric, no sir.
"I'm glad she did."
Harry stops kitting for a while, looking down at Louis with a smile – the one that's captured daily by dozens of interview cameras, but is really just for them. "Yeah. Kiss now, please, then bugger off and make dinner."
Louis gasps in mock offense, already struggling to push himself up. He melts into Harry easily, pressing their lips together softly and enjoying the feeling of normalcy. He loves this – being home, in their ridiculously big house with stupid manicured hedges that Harry insists on and a fireplace that's happily crackling away and a dumb little kitten and a wonderful boy who both have Louis wrapped around their finger/bean-shaped toe. They've not got a single popstar worry right now, for what might be the first time in three years, and Louis has never been happier.
He does bugger off to make dinner then, a poor dish of pasta with an attempt at tomato sauce he'd promised Harry weeks ago. It's maybe a little too salty, but Louis keeps dumping sugar in it until it tastes sweet instead, and all is well. Also, noting is set on fire, which is a success in and of itself.
When he goes back to the living room to tell Harry to come eat, he finds him lying on his belly, Mitten sitting comfortably on his back, and scrolling through something on his iPad. He stops every few seconds, muttering and making excited meowing noises over his shoulder.
"Dinner's ready, lady and gentleman," Louis says from the doorway, and Harry immediately leaves the Internet behind. He beams at Louis, likely because he's acknowledging their cat, which is just. Well. Louis should maybe do a better job at communicating that he's come to a phase in his life where he'd probably lay down his life for a furry animal that sleeps twenty-two hours a day; simply put, a phase where he adores the fuck of a goddamned kitten and has no clue how it happened.
Mitten is a bit like Harry in that way, really – walked straight into Louis's heart and stole it.
When Louis wakes up the next morning, something deceptively soft is patting his face.
"Louuu," Harry is, for some reason, whispering. The right side of the bed is cold, and his voice is coming from above, which leads Louis to the conclusion that his ridiculous morning person boyfriend has, once again, gotten up without even giving Louis a wake-up blowjob. What a shame.
"Lou, wake up, I have to show you something." The soft thing pats Louis's face again. Warily, Louis pops open an eye.
The world is bright red and yellow yarn. It's literally all Louis can see.
"Good morning," Harry says from right above him, then takes a step back, and Louis just…loses it.
Harry is standing next to the bed in just his boxers, the expression on his face brighter than the sun outside and Mitten pressed tightly against his chest. The cat is wearing actual, honest-to-god knit mittens.
"Don't laugh," Harry frowns, setting Mitten carefully down on Louis's chest. She has a habit of walking over all of his vital organs, and Harry knows this. "She looks cute."
Once Louis is capable of breathing, the first thing he does is pull a pouting Harry closer to him and down, until they're snuggled in bed again, just the way a Saturday morning should be.
"Sorry," Louis says half-heartedly, still chuckling. "She does look cute. It's just. You made her mittens."
"Piss off, you love it," Harry pouts.
"I love you."
Harry softens for a bit, burrowing his face into Louis's neck. "Stop trying to distract me."
Louis softens right along with him, heart pouding out a rhythm of HarryHarryHarry in his chest, even as a hot cat nose explores his foot. "I'm sorry, love. Tell me about how you knit the mittens."
"I found a pattern online last night," Harry says. "I was so excited I couldn't sleep, had to get up and make them at four in the morning."
Louis giggles helplessly into Harry's hair. He watches Mitten try and walk, watches her give up after a while and slump on Harry's pillow. She never touches the mittens, like she knows they're off limits, soaked through with Harry's wonderful quirkyness.
"What about me, then? Do I get mittens?"
Harry hums contemplatively, propping his chin on Louis's chest. "I'll think of something bigger for you," he grins, and then he's picking Mitten up and locking her out of the room and oh, Louis might get that morning blowie after all. What a joy.
Louis raises his head from his second helping of ice cream, spoon haging out of the corner of his mouth. Harry is sat on the other end of the sofa, with Louis's feet in his lap, typing something at a rapid pace. Louis doesn't ask what he's doing, but he can see cat tails if he squints. He briefly considers sneakily installing parental control software on Harry's computer and blocking the word 'cat' and all of it derivates.
The thing is, he'd let one cat slip. He's opened the dam. Harry won't stop now.
Louis leans up lazily, wrapping an arm around Harry's neck for leverage. To his immense surprise, he's not met with an ad offering six kittens that were found abandoned in a box by the side of the road – it's just kittens. Kittens in sweaters.
"Why not?" Harry pouts. "She'd look so adorable! Look, this is a hoodie pattern. A hoodie, Lou, imagine her wobbling around with a tiny hood on her head—"
"Okay, okay, fine," Louis sighs. "You can do whatever you want. But after you're done with that, I want a sweater as well," he may or may not pout. Probably not, seeing as he is manly as hell, and pouting is a thing strictly reserved for Harry in their household.
Harry looks away from his cats for a second, grinning like he's got a secret. "You're not jealous, are you?"
"Of a cat?" Louis scoffs, decidedly not thinking about the belly rubs Mitten got from Harry that morning while Louis lay next to them and looked on. "That's ridiculous, Harold."
"Ah, breaking out the nicknames," Harry grins wider still and pushes the laptop off his knees. He tugs on Louis's leg, and he's met with no resistance – Louis settles in his lap like it's the one place he belongs (it is).
Harry pecks him on the nose. Louis denies the ridiculously soppy smile that takes over his face. He kisses his boy, just because he can, because they've had weeks of this pathetically domestic bliss now and Louis maybe wants another seven decades or so.
"Don't tell Mitten this," Harry whispers, leaning up to Louis's ear. "But I still love you best." When he pulls away, he's the picture of mischief, white teeth biting down on his bottom lip, but his eyes are impossibly soft.
"Yeah, alright," Louis says, grins, means I love you too, idiot. He leans closer, angles Harry's jaw up with firm fingers and gives him the dirtiest kiss he's capable of while smiling like a loon. He circles his hips for good measure, presses a light hand right to Harry's dick, revels in the way Harry's breath hitches. Then he stands up.
"Better get to knitting," he pats Harry on the chest. "Wouldn't want Mitten to get cold."
Harry clears his throat, blinking like a newborn baby animal. His pupils are blown wide just the way Louis loves, eyes dark green with lust, and he's got a curl sticking up where Louis got a little carried away with his hands.
"Right," Harry says, croaky. "Right, yeah. Sweaters." He gets up, presumably to fetch his little wicker basket full of yarn and needles. Louis mentally pats himself on the back for a job well done and goes back to his Ben & Jerry's.
So the thing is, Mitten in a sweater is not something Louis could have ever prepared himself for. Somehow, he finds himself following her everywhere; watching as her disturbingly adorable fluffy behind wiggles under the chocolate brown knit, tail swishing through the air. When she's not looking, he drags the hood down over her head until her bright pink nose is the only thing peeking out, and she manages to get her claws in his hands more times than he'd care to count.
At the moment Harry, just like Louis had impolitely ordered him to, appears to be making calculations for Louis's very own sweater, while Louis himself is lounging on the living room carpet with the cat sleeping on his chest.
"You don't care about the colour, right?"
Louis tilts his head back to see Harry better. He's holding a ball of yarn in each hand, probably weighing his options.
"Depends. I don't want it to be, like, neon yellow," Louis says quietly, careful not to jostle Mitten.
"You look great in yellow, though," Harry says as he picks up another ball. "You should wear it more often."
Louis rolls his eyes. "You've bought me half the clothes I own, Haz, get me something yellow if you think it'd work."
Louis doesn't think it will – yellow makes everyone look like a canary – but he's willing to give his headscarf-wearing, fashion-forward boyfriend the benefit of the doubt.
"Hmm," is all Harry says in response, experimentally wrapping yarn around his finger then tugging it free. Then, "What about pink?"
"Or no, wait, I know! Neon green. You'll look great in neon green."
Louis sighs deeply. One glance at Harry reveals a mischievous smile, the telltale sign of Harry's very own brand of teasing that makes Louis feel irrepressibly fond.
"Neon green sounds great," he says earnestly. He'd probably wear it outside, too, what with how much time and effort Harry is about to put into it.
Mitten, apparently woken up by Louis's fond despair, stretches a soft paw to bat at Louis's nose. He feels himself smile involuntarily, before he even registers the touch.
"Hey, gorgeous," he looks up at the cat and watches her ears twitch as she yawns. "Good nap?"
"Meow," Mitten confirms.
"Your dad's been taking the piss out of me," Louis informs her. His hands come up automatically, rubbing across her back and scritching behind the ears.
"That was nothing," Harry chimes in. "I've got more in store for when you're actually wearing this."
Louis raised an unimpressed eyebrow in the cat's direction, willing her to share his obvious contempt for Harry trying to be cute. Mitten doesn't quite seem to understand, but she does lick his hand in silent support. Louis thinks cats are awesome.
"Also, you shouldn't be peeking. Shoo."
Louis gasps in mock scandal. "Looks like your dad's not getting blowjobs anytime soon," he tells Mitten.
"Meow," Mitten replies. She seems slightly disgruntled when Louis pries her off his chest, but she settles in his arms easily enough. Louis would expect her to be jumping all over the place, breaking flowerpots and scratching the furniture, like every other kitten on the bloody planet, but Harry's been doing yoga with her in the room; the zen attitude to life is apparently contagious. Louis thinks he should teach her his ways of mischief and pranks that are all done out of love. Obviously.
It's when they're almost out of the living room that Louis spots the perfect opportunity to rile Harry up a little. His supplies are strewn all over the sofa, looking all soft and colourful and extremely inviting, and Louis calls to memory every single children's show that's ever involved a cat (except maybe Tom and Jerry, but that one also involved the cat walking on two legs and occasionally wearing a cap).
"Hey, Mitten," he whispers in her ear conspirationally. "What do you say we go have some fun with a ball of yarn?"
"Yup, yarn. It's even better than those ridiculous mice on a string, promise."
She bristles a little at the insult he'd dealt to her favourite toy, but she looks willing enough, at least a temporary partner in crime.
Louis stands in the doorway until he's sure Harry is distracted, getting his knitting needles together and trying to cast on. He tiptoes over to the unoccupied end of the sofa, Mitten still held tightly to his chest, and snatches a perfectly round white ball. Then he turns away, and they run.
"Hey, what—" Harry starts, but Louis doesn't get to hear the end. He slams the bedroom door closed behind them, heart racing excitedly. He sits down carefully, finally frees Mitten, and unwraps a piece of yarn.
Mitten's eyes light up immediately. Louis coos and wiggles the string a little, watches the kitten lift a paw as she tries to pin down her target. He drags it in a small circle around her, touches it to her nose and lets her catch it, tugging on it until the wool gives and shreds.
"Oops," he whispers, actually giggling like a child as he picks the white fluff out of Mitten's mouth. He wraps the yarn around her paw then, unwraps it quickly when she starts tugging it off, lifts it so it hangs above the floor, swiging about teasingly.
Mitten seems to be in her element, jumping all over the place with her tail wiggling and toes spread. She gets hold of the ball eventually, and accidentally snags a piece of yarn with her claw. When she discovers the option of pulling the fluffy strands right out of the ball, she completely abandons Louis and his feeble attempts at wiggling and starts playing on her own.
That's when, finally, the door opens to reveal a disgruntled Harry. He surveys the bedroom floor, with Louis stretched out and tickling his own nose with a string of yarn, to the fluffy, torn out pieces littering the floor. Finally, he settles on watching their kitten go bonkers with the now-fuzzy ball.
"You ruined my yarn," he accuses, falling on his nonexistent acting experience to deliver a flawless childish pout. Louis does feel a little bit bad. Just a little.
"It was for a good cause," he counters, motioning at Mitten, who is now having the time of her life. "Look at her having fun."
"You could've just asked nicely. I would've given you one that wasn't brand new, at least."
Louis watches Harry's disgruntled little frog face as the niggling feeling in his stomach gets stronger. He never means to do these things, really, and this had seemed so completely harmless, but Harry looks actually, seriously upset by seeing his precious wool being ruined. The fact that it matters to him that much, and that he's not at all ashamed to show it, is one of the countless reasons Louis loves him something ridiculous.
"We're sorry, babe," he says as he gets up, contrite. He comes up to Harry with a matching pout, ignoring his eyeroll. "Meow," he adds.
Harry hides his face in his hands, but not before Louis can catch the smile that's threatening to split his face in two, accompanied by the familiar barking laugh that he tries to choke down. Louis is good.
"I promise I'll buy you a new one, yeah?" Louis steps closer, tugging Harry's arms down. His boy is looking at him with both fondness and exasperation, nothing out of the ordinary, but the ghost of a smile is still hidden in the corner of his lips. "Don't be mad. Look at how happy our baby is."
Harry just stands there and looks at him for a minute, all soft and vulnerable. "I'm not mad," he says finally, pecking Louis on the forehead. "I'm much too used to living with you, love."
"Hey," Louis quips half-heartedly, stepping closer to the tantalizing heat of Harry's body. He wraps his arms around Harry's waist, because he still can.
"You do deserve some punishment, though," Harry says, and Louis almost chokes on his tongue. Before he can start sputtering about children in the room, Haz, jesus christ, Harry grins devillishly. "Not that kind of punishment. I'll think of something different." Louis very empathically doesn't want to know.
He kisses Louis then, full of teeth and ridiculous grinning, and whistles as he closes the door behind himself. Louis hears him hopping down the stairs.
"I am not wearing this."
"You don't have a choice, babe."
"Nope. Arms into the sleeves, come on."
Louis feels like a three-year-old being dressed by his mother. Which, haha, what a hilarious thought, seeing as his mother is set to arrive in about twenty minutes and, if he doesn't somehow restrain Harry, she'll see him wearing a circus tent and revoke his membership in the adults' club. He tells Harry as much.
"It's not a circus tent," Harry says, and he can't even attempt a pout with how wide he's grinning. "You can tell you mum you're wearing it because you've not been a good boy."
"I am never shagging you again," Louis growls empathetically. "Not ever."
"You know you don't mean that, babe. I'm a fabulous shag."
Louis rolls his eyes very, very hard. He leaves his arms stubbornly crossed over his chest, ducking Harry's octopus arms when they try to snatch him and put him in the thing.
Harry, wonderful hippie soul that he is, had apparently thought of Louis's punishment for the wretched act of stealing yarn just as he'd started knitting Louis's sweater. The punishment being specifically that he went online, googled 'ugly sweaters' and presumably picked one he thought would match Louis's skin tone.
Which is how the monstrosity came to be.
"Lou, you promised!" Harry cries again, aggresively brandishing the red lump of knit in front of him.
Louis takes another step, dodging the coffee table. He's looking around him wildly, trying to make sure he doesn't accidentally back himself up into a corner. "I promised before I found out that this is what you made!"
"It's not even that ugly," Harry pats the lump lovingly, scratching one of the gold sequins. "And it's made with love. That's all that should matter."
"Oh no, mister. Don't you dare try and play the peace, love and understanding card right now. You orchestrated this, you're a bloody evil mastermind."
Harry cackles. He manages to catch Louis in a moment of weakness when he's leaning back against the sofa, tumbling them both over onto the soft cushions. The sweater lands on Louis's face, and it – fuck – it smells deceptively nice, like Harry and lavender-scented washing powder.
"Please, Lou," Harry says from his wonderful perch – that is to say, straddling Louis – and bats his eyelashes fakely. "I have a surprise for you, but you have to put it on first."
Louis sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose. It's almost time for him to get ready to play host by the front door, and instead he's getting ambushed by his supposedly loving boyfriend. Somehow, this is his actual life. "Fine," he hisses. "But I'll only wear it until mum leaves."
"Okay," Harry beams, lifts off of Louis and runs off. Scanadlised meowing starts coming from the bedroom a few seconds later.
After he takes a moment to gracefully say goodbye to his dignity, Louis puts the thing on. He has to relucantly admit that, even though it doesn't look like it, the wool is actually wonderfully soft to the touch, though the sequins rub against each other rather uncomfortably when he moves his arms. It's shapeless, hanging off of him like it's a few sizes too big, the sleeves reaching way past his fingers. Louis is absolutely certain Harry did that on purpose.
"Here we are," Harry announces suddenly to the room at large, accompanied by an indigant meow!.
Louis turns around. He blinks. Then blinks again. He's actually not seeing things.
"Isn't she adorable?" Harry asks brightly, holding Mitten up like a sacrifice (or, alternatively, Simba. Which would make Harry the crazy baboon, how fitting).
And the thing is, Mitten is wearing the exact same monstrosity Louis is, just shrunk down. It's the exact same offensively red and sparkly gold wool, just sans the sequins, and the same shoddy stars. The only difference is that on her, it actually does look quite cute.
"Harry, what the fuck."
Mitten seems to share Louis's sentiment. Her nose is twitching, ears dancing on top of her head, and she's looking at Louis like she's trying to communicate her pain. Louis knows the feeling.
"You're matching!" Harry shouts, offensively excited, walking over to deposit the cat in Louis's arms. Just as he reaches Louis, he stops and looks him up and down, and is that—wow.
"Figured you'd make it look good," Harry croaks, and it is, Louis wasn't imagining it, Harry actually wants him when he's wearing his incredibly ugly sweater. Harry has always had a thing for Louis in oversized clothes, but. Really?
"Are you serious."
"Shut up," Harry has the decency to blush prettily, just a little, and finally hands Mitten to Louis. "Can't help it, you're the fittest bloke I know."
"I better be," Louis grumbles into Mitten's fur. He scratches her under the chin, revelling in her little kitten purrs and mumbling into her fur. "Can you believe this? Your dad's gone off the deep end."
"Meow," Mitten agrees, pawing interestedly at Louis's sequins.
When Louis's mum arrives, she hugs him with barely suppressed laughter. Louis is surrounded by traitors.
Harry is his usual charming self, making tea for everyone and feeding Jay something he calls 'authentic apple pie'; Louis is not required to do anything except sit at the table, pout and whisper his plans on world domination into Mitten's ear. In the meantime, Jay and Harry talk about knitting and Louis and her last prenatal appointment (it's two girls, again), and.
"Isn't it funny though? Your kids will have aunts that are almost the same age as them," mum giggles, and Louis chokes on his perfectly prepared cup of Yorkshire.
Harry appears completely unpeturbed as he chews on a finger sandwich, but there's a twinkle in his eye when he beams at Jay and giggles back. Louis had been hoping they've gotten through Harry's baby fever for now, but. Maybe not.
"Funny," Harry asesses eventually, and looks at Louis. "Isn't it, Lou?"
Louis grinds his teeth and pointedly scratches Mitten on the head. He hates when Harry does these things on purpose, like he doesn't know that if their jobs didn't require them to be on the road ten months out of the year, Louis would have gladly given him fifteen babies already. Like he doesn't know that it's a given in their forever, that Louis wants it just as badly as he does, that he googles superhero baby clothes on the regular like he's extremely broody and in his mid-thirties.
They've got Mitten for now, he reasons. They can settle for a while more, until they've made honest men out of each other, and until the whole 'world's most famous boyband' thing dies down a little.
"Hilarious," he says finally, and leaves it at that. He tries not to fall back into the 'weddings, babies, forevers' line of thought, but he's quite unsuccesful as he catches the glint of random clunky rings on Harry's fingers. And it's stupid, really. Harry wouldn't even be allowed to wear his out of the house, not right now, but. But.
That might be the excuse Louis has been telling himself for the last ten months or so.
He does help with cleanup, after they're done with tea, and stays behind with his mum while Harry goes to start the fire. Mitten is sleeping belly-up on the kitchen table, defeating the purpose of the disinfectant Louis had just sprayed all over it, but he already spoils her something terrible, so telling her to get off seems pointless.
"Hey, Mum?" he asks carefully, watching his own pale reflection in a glass he's rinsing.
"What is it, baby?"
Louis takes a breath. This is ridiculous, he thinks – he's literally made up his mind twenty minutes ago, he should wait, shouldn't rush into things, blah blah blah, but really, this is him and Harry. They've never been ones to take things slow, or make them complicated.
"D'you reckon Harry would like a summer wedding?"
To her credit, she doesn't bat an eye. "Oh, I bet he would. Someplace you could get married barefoot in sundresses and ride away into the sunset on a horse."
Louis chokes on a laugh. "Maybe," he grins, thinking of beaches and gardens in bloom. It does seem fitting – summer is when they met, when all this had started, and summer is Harry; always smelling like fruit and lotion and lighting up Louis's entire world with his ridiculous hyena laughter.
Wow. Married thoughts.
"I'm very happy for you, by the way," mum says, smiling softly as she dries off their dishes.
"Meow," Mitten announces from the table, and to Louis it sounds bizarrely like 'me too'.
At eight, two hours after his mum had left, Louis is still wearing Harry's sweater. It's ridiculously comfy and nobody can hold it against him – Mitten's got hers on as well, sleeping curled up against his side on the sofa.
He's had the telly on for an hour now, a rerun of some comedy show he doesn't know the name of, and the tinny laughter of the audience is the only thing getting through to him.
"Mitten," he whispers, poking her gently in the paw. She responds by opening one eye grumpily, barely acknowledging him. "When should I do it?"
"Right," Louis says to himself. "You're right. We've both been wanting this for ages, haven't we."
His dilemma is quite simple, really. Harry takes marriage quite seriously, Louis knows, but he's not sure about the whole proposing part of it. Maybe he should do, like, a dinner? Where they both dress up and sweat in their suits and chitchat and Louis puts the ring somewhere cliché like the champagne flute—
"Who are you talking to?" Harry pokes his head in the doorway, hair ruffled susipiciously.
"Just the cat," Louis tells the truth. This is decidedly not the weirdest thing he's ever done in front of Harry. "What are you doing?"
"Um," Harry smiles a little guiltily. He'd been gone for the past hour, doing god knows what. Probably planning the next step in his mission of humiliating Louis in front of his loved ones. "I was finishing something up."
And then he steps into the living room in all his gangly glory, on his stupidly long, bare legs, and. He's wearing the sweater; the exact same butt-ugly one that Louis now wants to keep forever and snuggle with whenever he gets the chance.
"You," he accuses, immediately jumping to his feet. "You dickhead."
Harry laughs happily right into Louis's face, bright giggles that carve dimples deep in his cheeks and have a flush rising high on his face. He looks painfully gorgeous even while wearing his own knit monstrosity; Louis might, in fact, want to tie him to the bed and ravish him.
"I hate you," he says anyway, just for good measure, and swats Harry gently on the chest.
"I'm sorry," Harry wheezes. "You looked so grumpy, it was priceless."
"I'll show you grumpy."
"No you won't," says Harry, grinning, and pulls Louis so close their noses are touching. He goes a little cross-eyed looking down, still smiling wide and bright and falsely innocent, and Louis loves him. They're literally a middle-aged gay couple from the suburbs right now, all settled down in their two-storey with a cat, wearing fucking matching sweaters, and still all Louis wants is to stay like this until somebody has to pry him away with a crowbar.
"Hmm?" Harry hums, leaning forward and stealing a kiss before Louis has the chance to go on. His lips are warm and chapped and wonderfully familiar.
Harry chokes a little, eyes widening, but his smile could power cities. "Yeah?"
"Definitely," Louis smiles back, gentle, and runs a careful hand through Harry's hair. "I'll get you a ring and everything, champagne, bouquet of roses. Proper romantic."
Harry starts grinning and doesn't stop. "I like this better. We're matching and everything."
"Mhm. And I will, by the way."
"Marry me?" Louis asks, so close his breath breaks over Harry's lips.
"Yes," says Harry, and presses their mouths together. He tastes like chocolate and toothpaste and promise.
"Meow," Mitten cries indigantly and hops off the sofa to curl around their feet. Louis wraps his hands around Harry's neck, kisses him with everything he's got, and doesn't even get up on tiptoes.
He's already on top of the world.