Most students first days of University start by their parents affectionately snapping a few pictures of them before they shuffle bags into dorm rooms and shed a few goodbye tears. Then they are left to their own devices and the new found freedom that awaits them.
His Royal Highness Prince Louis of Wales however did not look forward to such a normal first morning at St. Andrews University.
“I’m really looking forward to my first classes,” Louis tells the vice chancellor as they walk down the hallowed hall together, his father on one side and a security decal on the other. It’s a totally normal first morning.
He knows there are crowds and photo ops waiting. It’s normal and strange at the same time, as he knows the people who will be living right in the dorm rooms next door to him are arriving in such a different way.
“Yes,” Louis’ father says agreeing affectionately patting him on the back encouraging Louis forward.
It puts Louis at ease as they finally open the doors and they step out into the courtyard. Like he had been warned and like he been fully expecting there are barriers up and crowds waiting. He poses for photos and waves according to protocol, and shakes all the hands he needs to. It’s nice to see the people out to see him and it is nice to be such a patron for what he thinks is going to be a great University to study at.
That is all fine. It comes with the lifestyle. But really it doesn’t signal the start of anything. It isn’t until the crowds leave and the photos have been published that he is able to breathe. That is the start Louis thinks, the way the walls go up and he is nestled into the ground. His future for the next while is defined by that and he can’t wait.
Louis is pinning a poster up when someone taps on the door in three quick successions. Slightly puzzled he replies with a tentative, “Come in.”
He is expecting a dignitary, a professor or another chancellor. Or worse security and PR.
The door opens slowly and Louis tacks the last pin onto the poster of Chile on his wall stepping back. He is greeted with the sight of a blonde haired boy who very slowly bows before him in an elegant fashion with arms stretched.
Louis isn’t sure who or what this person is doing but he starts to say waving his hands awkwardly, “You don’t have-“
The boy starts laughing and steps forward pulling Louis in for a hug patting his back. “I’m just messing with you,” he laughs loudly.
After their brief but not awkward stranger hug he presents his hand. “I’m Niall Horan, your new neighbour. And you are?” he says in a thick Irish accent and with a wide grin.
Louis shakes his hand and says very kindly, “Now I know you’re just taking the piss.”
They laugh together and for the first time since he has arrived Louis feels sort of normal. Niall then insults his taste in furniture and tells him he has managed to get a mini fridge into his room and they fall into a mutual conversation.
Not once does he ogle at him and he does on multiple occasions make him the subject of jokes, just the way Louis likes it so he can throw them right back. He does however shout out in the hallway for everyone one to move because a royal ass is coming through. Niall doesn’t seem fazed at all and Louis thinks quickly, he can stay. Not that Louis probably has a choice in the manner, Niall seems to have taken him for his own.
Niall introduces him to Liam and then that is that. They live just rooms from each other and they become his closest friends before classes even start. Louis has a good knack of reading people he has been told, apparently he got it from his mother. He can tell these boys are the good ones.
It’s the second week of classes that he is introduced to Harry properly for the first time. They are sectioned off and paired for planning a presentation. Louis feels slightly daunted, sure he now feels familiar with these people but he feels sort of bad for the two guys that got paired with the prince.
“I’m Harry Styles,” he says reaching his hand out toward Louis as they mill outside the lecture hall. He can tell Harry is a lovely person just by the constant flow of people that surround him. That is something he caught onto quickly during their first class. Harry the curly haired boy with his smiles and always insightful comments on the art they were studying.
“Sorry about getting stuck with me in your group,” Louis says slightly self deprecating with a laugh.
The other boy shakes his head, “I’m Zayn. Don’t say that, we might get extra credit or something who knows.”
Louis laughs, “Doubt it. But I can try.”
“I’ve got to run,” Zayn says pointing toward another building, “But let’s meet up so we can go over this before the next lecture. I’ve got your emails.”
He disappears and Harry and Louis are left together. Harry gives him a blinding smile and a curl flutters in the outdoor wind over his forehead. He opens his mouth suddenly as if to say something but changes his mind and shakes his head. The curls bounce up and down and his cheeks flush red. He seems very overwhelmed and Louis feels guilty.
“I’m walking back to St. Salvator’s,” Louis says with a smile trying to ease them into gentle conversation.
Harry’s eyes light up. “Oh,” he says his bow lips forming a perfect circle, “So am I.”
“We’re in the same hall then?” Louis says proudly because Harry seems to be breathing again.
“Good old Sallies,” Harry laughs clutching his books tighter as they step away from the building and fall into a rhythm of walking, the cool Scottish air blowing against their cheeks.
“Are you enjoying the course?” Harry asks inquisitively. He seems to grimace after he says it, maybe he feels as if it something stupid to ask. Louis doesn’t think so. He loves talking normally, he hopes Harry knows that or figures out quickly he doesn’t need to try and impress him.
“Yes,” Louis replies quickly, “Although I am finding it challenging.”
Harry nods in agreement, although Louis thinks he is being modest. He seems to have a real grasp for it. “I love it,” he smiles at the ground, “I can’t get enough of art history, I spent a lot of time in Florence last year.”
“You can lead us in the project then,” Louis says, “You and Zayn seem to be a lot surer of art history then I am.”
“I’m not so sure,” Harry laughs, “You’ve probably seen all the pieces we are talking about.”
Louis frowns. “Not really. To be entirely honest I’ve barely seen any of them. I can’t just wander into the Tate Modern.”
Harry stops walking and Louis does too. He seems slightly apologetic and Louis is just about to tell him not to be sympathetic at all but instead he smiles and says, “Well we’re just as equally lost then.”
Louis laughs. Harry is great he thinks suddenly, not that he hadn’t thought it before. But as they follow the winding path toward their hall he thinks what a great friend he would make.
“I think we should do Pietà,” Louis saystrying his best to show his knowledge. Harry smiles at him and replies, “I think that is great idea Louis.”
Harry bumps their shoulders together. “And you say you’re finding it difficult, so modest.”
“Harry,” a brown haired boy shouts as he walks toward them when they enter the hall. He smiles and presses a kiss to Harry’s forehead making Harry both smile and step back awkwardly.
“Hey babe,” Harry replies and then he turns to look at Louis. “This is Alex,” Harry says introducing the two boys.
Louis isn’t an assumptive type of person but from the small public display of affection he thinks it is easy to see this is Harry’s boyfriend. He has seen him around campus before running and lugging around rugby balls.
“And Alex, this is Louis.”
The broad shouldered guy replies dryly, “I know who he is Harry.”
Louis represses the urge to say something stupid but instead settles on a courteous, “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“They’re saying I’m a party animal,” Louis laughs over his breakfast in the hall.
“But you are,” Zayn replies with a wink. While Louis does enjoy a good night out he wouldn’t say he is a party animal.
Niall laughs loudly. “Where’s the paper?” he asks motioning for Louis to hand one over.
“Oh I don’t have one, someone is reading it over there,” Louis says arching his eyebrow to a girl in the queue for food. They flip through the pages hiding their faces and giggling slightly.
Liam turns his head over his shoulder to take a look.
“Liam!” Harry says quietly, “Don’t make it so obvious you’re looking.”
“Why not? They should feel uncomfortable.”
Sure enough the gaggle of girls fold the paper up and hide it away. Liam turns his gaze back around to the table.
“I can’t believe one stupid picture from a pub would get that much attention,” Zayn sighs.
It really isn’t an issue for Louis. He knows most of the story is fabricated and it isn’t a big deal anyway. Prince out partying really isn’t groundbreaking. He leaves the groundbreaking stuff to Lottie. But as long as his friends aren’t involved and no lines are crossed it will be fine.
The thing is this is the first time his friends have been caught up into it and he can tell they feel defensive. They probably feel partly responsible for promising they would look after him and failing to do so, but really it is nobody’s fault.
“It’s fine don’t worry,” Louis says nonchalantly eating away at his cereal. He needs to finish this quickly if he wants to make it to class on time for once.
They don’t reply, his four friends just frown at him. “Seriously,” Louis laughs, “There will be worse things! Don’t get caught up on this.”
The first time Louis ventures into Harry’s dorm room is to finalise their art history presentation. Like Louis had suggested they are doing Pietà.
His room is only a floor down from Louis’ own and he walks into the open door. Harry is sitting by his desk and has his brow furrowed in concentration but that isn’t the first thing he notices.
His eyes are caught on the map of Chile on the wall adorned with pictures of Harry doing various things and with various children. It’s eerily familiar.
“When did you go to Chile?” Louis says without introduction probably startling Harry.
Harry turns his head around suddenly his eyes darting between Louis face and then up to his wall making the connection with what he had asked and seen.
“Oh,” Harry says smiling, “I went for ten weeks in January, to Patagonia for the Raleigh International Expedition.”
Harry stands up and points to a picture of himself on a mountain. “The first three weeks were trekking, and then the next we did marine surveying,” he says pointing to the pictures of different types of marine life and a smiling Harry in an inflatable boat.
“Then I helped build a fire station in La Tapera, I did the windows and the roof cladding,” he says fondly laughing slightly at a memory. The picture shows Harry with children on his shoulders and then climbing all over the roof of a half built building.
“I went in October,” Louis says interrupting him, “I went to Patagonia.”
Harry furrows his brow again turning his head slightly away from the picture his finger is tracing. “I know,” he says softly, his lips quirking up a tiny bit.
“We went on the same trip,” Louis practically shouts. He is puzzled for a moment before it hits him. This is the best thing he has heard, he wants to talk about every single thing about Chile with Harry. He wants to talk about the weather, the kids and the nature. He wants to be able to have that connection with someone here and not have to stare at the map on his wall to feel back there at home. He knows now every time he looks at Harry he is going to be thinking all of these things.
Harry smiles at him covering the back on his hand over his mouth. “I planned my trip and then I was in Florence studying Italian at The British Institute. I came back and went to Chile and I remember them talking about you, the guide only said good things don’t worry Lou. I should have mentioned it earlier.”
“I can’t believe we just missed each other,” Louis says gently. He wonders what might have been. He wonders of the way their lives could have been intersecting for years before the very moment they ended up in an art history class together and in the same hall.
“I can’t believe that either,” Harry says eyes sparking again, “And that then we ended up in the same hall back here.”
“So how did you like the trek?” Louis asks, so entirely interested to hear how Harry felt about it. He has a million questions.
“Great. It was a breathtaking view, but to be honest I think things working or relating to people are just so much more rewarding-“
They don’t finish the presentation that night. They spend the next hours chatting and chatting about the wonders of their trips. It gets rushed in the morning. Zayn frowns at them both and tells them they are both hopeless.
It’s dinner when Louis sees a tabloid on a table next to him saying he is very loud snorer. Niall and Liam suddenly start laughing and patting each other on the back.
“What's so funny?” Harry says attentively looking at the boys at their table. Louis shrugs.
Niall leans down and they all follow beckoned closer so they are within ears reach.
“We told a few people you were a loud snorer and I guess some of them decided to tell,” Niall says with a wicked smile.
Louis shakes his head and smiles.
“Now we’ve got their names and trust us Tommo we’re on the case,” he replies affectionately using Louis new middle name nickname entrusted to him by his friends. He figures they think they are cool since they created it and use it so no one knows who they are talking about.
“You guys don’t have to do that,” Louis replies ruffling their hair up.
Harry smiles before adding, “That’s just what we friends do Lou, get used to it.”
“Are you coming to the fashion show?” Harry asks as he hands Louis a text book over their table in the library. Zayn has disappeared looking for a book or probably trying to find that girl he has not stopped talking about. “It’s just after winter break Louis, you should come.”
Louis frowns both at the heavy book he places down with a thud and the idea of a fashion show. That is such a Harry thing, only Harry would be so excited about a fashion show, it makes the corners of Louis’ mouth quirk up slightly.
“No, I don’t think so,” Louis says honestly.
“It’s for charity,” Harry says shocked at Louis and his denial.
Louis uncaps his pen. “So does that mean I am obliged to go?” he asks almost sarcastically.
Harry tries not to laugh and get them kicked out of the quiet study space. “Well,” he says letting the word drag on and on for dramatic effect.
Louis shakes his head.
“Come on,” Harry whines quietly, “I’m walking in it, be a good friend and support me and Zayn.”
Louis smiles, “Now that you mention Zayn-“
Harry kicks him under the table on the shin.
“So you’re going to come?” Harry says more excited than he probably should be. It will draw more people and more donations alright? He is allowed to be happy about Louis coming.
“I’ll try and come,” Louis says softly. It’s Harry’s smile in reaction to that that seals the deal.
Louis spends his break at home and then Christmas in Sandringham. He convinces Niall to visit him at home which turns out to be an adventure on its own. They go shooting and on a brief ski trip. He asks Harry if he would like to stay but he declines as he is spending time over the holidays with his parents, and Louis assumes his boyfriend.
Despite the fact that they end up on different sides of the country they talk a lot. It just sort of happens that Harry becomes a fixation in his life. He is a good companion and friend, and someone who is always easy to talk to no matter how difficult the subject matter. They just got on from the get go. Harry is just the type of person who is so confident in who he is that you can’t help but ache to be around him.
It’s a cold night that Louis is wrapped up in a blanket on the phone to Harry that he tells him something he hasn’t told anyone yet. “I don’t know if I am doing the right thing.”
“What do you mean?” Harry inquires, he shifts around and Louis can hear blankets move. He can also hear a fire crackling from Harry’s line.
“I mean, maybe I haven’t picked the right thing to study.”
“So change then Louis,” Harry replies like it is the easiest thing in the world. It isn’t.
“I don’t want to disappoint anyone. I’ve fought a lot to be able to do this, and now well I feel like I would be proving them all right.”
Harry sighs. “Lou, do what you want to do. You won’t be disappointing anyone if you’re doing that.”
“Are you sure?” Louis asks, picking a thread in his blanket. Harry’s voice has a quality that always leaves him reassured. He knows he can do this, maybe he just needs someone to be his cheerleader.
“I’m sure. What do you want to change to?”
Louis ponders quickly. It isn’t much of an effort to think of what he really wants to study now after being there for a few months. “Geography.”
“So Geography it is then! I’m sure that will barely make the front page, you’ll be perfectly fine,” Harry says with that reassuring tone.
Louis can’t help but smile. “Thank you. I think I needed someone to tell me that.”
“No you didn’t. You always knew you could do it Louis, it’s your life not anyone else’s.”
He changes his major as soon as he goes back to Scotland.
Louis ends up at a table with Niall and Liam at the charity fashion show because he can’t say no to Harry and because he is a great advocate for charities. The former is probably more so the reason than anything else.
“Pass me another beer,” Liam says and Louis obliges grabbing one from in front of him.
“Don’t be so sad Liam,” Niall laughs. Liam is apparently not enjoying this as much as everyone else, his girlfriend pulled out at the last minute and now Liam is left with no one to watch and strict instruction he isn’t allowed to ogle.
Niall on the other hand is ecstatic that Barbara Palvin will be walking. Louis is just content to be here.
“Zayn is wearing a suit,” Louis says, “Not sure what Harry is wearing.”
“He said it will be surprise,” Liam replies.
Niall asks, “Did they ask you to model Louis?”
Louis shakes his head as he says, “There was no way I was going to be doing that.”
They all laugh and after a few more drinks and small conversation with the people around them the show starts. It begins with lots of dresses and girls, Niall cheers the loudest in the room when Barbara comes out. Louis pats him on the back and says, “Mate, if I was her I’d date you.”
Zayn looks like a bloody supermodel when he comes out in his perfectly fitted black suit. So no surprises there then. Like the good supportive friends they are they all make sure to send him some wolf whistles and cat calls.
The evening wear section finishes then and they are slightly confused. Harry never walked. Niall quirks his eyebrow at Louis and he just shrugs.
He doesn’t have time to think about it because before he can process his thoughts Harry is walking down the runway. In nothing but a pair of very short tight black pants showing off his barely visible hips and a black sheer lace shirt with only three buttons done up. Louis is being entirely honest when he says his breath gets caught in his throat.
Harry swings his hips down the runway showing off his impossibly long legs and letting the lace shirt show off his chest as it flutters in the wind. Plenty of people cheer and shout, especially Niall and Liam. They probably notice Louis seems to be having a moment.
He quickly recovers putting his glass down on the table and clapping his hands as Harry turns at the end. Louis is pretty sure they catch each other’s eyes and he gives him a wink. He knows what he is doing.
“Mate, you alright?” Niall says patting him on the back. Louis chokes out a breath.
“Yes,” Louis says strained as he watches Harry disappear behind the curtain at the end of the runway. He is fine indeed, more than fine totally fine. Nothing making his heart beat crazy fast here.
Niall forces him to have another drink.
“Harry!” Niall shouts as Zayn and Harry approach their table. They have both changed into their normal clothes again but Louis can see their hair is still styled and they are still wearing a lot of makeup.
Harry smiles at him shyly a stark contrast to the confidence he had shown before on the runway.
“What the hell was that?”
Harry blushes. “It was for charity Niall.”
“What about me?” Zayn asks mock offended.
The boys all pat him on the back. “You looked great Zayn.” “You should be a model for sure.” “Hottest guy out there.”
While Niall, Zayn and Liam go to the bar Harry and Louis are left together at the table.
“You looked really beautiful out there,” Louis stammers out. He is the future king of England and he can’t even tell Harry he looks beautiful without making a fool of himself.
Harry runs his hand up and down the glass he is holding suppressing a smile that threatens to break loose. “Thank you Louis,” he replies.
“I’m serious Harry.”
Harry laughs. “So am I, thanks Lou.”
Louis wants to run a hand through his fringe and kiss his cheeks and maybe his lips. But he doesn’t he just watches him and then listens to Harry prattle on about how fun it was. He really likes Harry, and he thinks it is has taken till now for him to come to the realization.
It just sucks. He has a boyfriend who he is perfectly happy with and he is constantly reminding Louis how much of a great friend he is. Besides, Louis is certain he would never want to get pulled into the crazy life he lives. Harry is so subdued and settled, so content Louis would hate to turn his life upside down. It’s selfish.
The exam period calls for long nights of studying and stress induced eating, all in their favourite spot in the library or hulled up in some of their dorm rooms. One particular night after Louis’ neighbour has complained to them for the fifth time about their noise he says it.
“We should get a flat next year, we should all live together!”
The boys look at him and Harry closes his book and puts it down. “That sounds like a great idea,” Liam says.
“It does,” Harry agrees quickly.
Zayn quirks his head to the side. “I agree,” he says but continues with, “But what about you Harry? I get the feeling your boyfriend might not think it’s such a great idea.”
Louis tries to suppress his frown. He doesn’t like to talk about Alex and his big rugby shoulders, the way he bosses Harry around and maybe slightly intimidates Louis just a little bit.
Harry mumbles something unintelligible quickly.
“What did you say?” Niall asks. All of the boys are now looking at Harry inquisitively.
“We broke up,” he says louder with a sigh.
“Why didn’t you tell us?” Louis asks shocked. He hopes Harry doesn’t take it as why didn’t you tell me?
Harry shrugs his shoulders and plays the corner of the page he was reading. “It was on and off for a while. It wasn’t really working.”
“Harry,” Liam says sympathetically.
“I’m fine,” he smiles, “Let’s get a flat! I’d love that, I would have never moved out of here if I was still seeing Alex.”
That settles in then in Louis mind. They’ll get a flat at the start of next semester. All four of the other boys nod in agreement and Louis feels excitement brew in his chest at the knowledge that they will all get to live together when they come back here next semester.
They get their first taste of negativity when Louis and Harry are snapped leaving their art history exam together. The photographer must have been watching them, because Louis wakes up the next day to pictures of Harry and himself laughing and walking out of the University to have a celebratory lunch. They look happy but it doesn’t matter. You can still tell who Harry is despite the sunglasses he is wearing.
Like he expected the accompanying headline and caption hint that they must be dating. Louis shoves the tabloid in the bin and thanks his press organizer who told him. He is assured this sort of intrusion won’t happen again as long as they can help it.
He rushes down the flight of stairs to see if Harry is in his room, he ignores all the people holding similar newspapers.
“Harry,” he says as he knocks on his door and then opens it without thinking.
If he was expecting something bad he should have known better. Harry looks half asleep still and is wearing a large sweater and furry hat sitting in a bed covered in books.
“Morning,” he smiles without a care in the world, “I’m cramming for Shakespeare.”
“Harry,” Louis says breathless from running down a flight of stairs and a hallway closing the door behind him. “Have you seen the paper?”
Harry chuckles rubbing his nose with the back of him palm smiling. “My mum rang me, she wanted to know why I gave her a heart attack while she was buying milk this morning.”
Louis groans and turns away from him dramatically. “I’m sorry Harry. They aren’t supposed to take any pictures of me here,” he says to a wall.
Harry stands up from his bed, pads his sock cover feet across the floor and puts a hand on Louis shoulder softly. “It’s not a big deal,” he explains kindly, “Well I mean it is, they shouldn’t invade the privacy you have asked for. But I’m not fussed. It will blow over.”
Louis turns back toward Harry. “I’m sorry,” he mumbles again.
“You aren’t the one that needs to be sorry. This isn’t your fault Lou,” Harry chimes happily.
Harry’s constant happiness makes it hard for Louis to remain annoyed. So he smiles and adds, “Is there anything I can do to earn your forgiveness?”
Harry beams. “Well your highness,” he jokes, “You can start by helping me study.”
He grabs a stack of flash cards and says, “Quiz me.”
Louis invites all of the boys up to his summer house over their extended break before he does some travelling for duty. They all accept and before he knows it he is hosting all four of them. They are loud and make it just the way he likes it.
It means mornings by a pool, running around almost castle like ruins and getting up to all sorts of antics around the huge property.
Lottie turns up when she returns from her boarding lodges sometime during their first week. She pours a glass of water over Niall when he refers to her as, “Princess Charlotte” and forces all the boys to let her join in on whatever they are doing. She is seventeen and very much likes to flaunt that she only has half the worries in the world compared to Louis.
Niall represses the urge to bow when he gets to meet Louis’ father for the first time. Louis pinches his side multiple times to tell him to behave himself. Not that his father would care, it’s just Louis would like to impress him with his good friend making choices. And he has talked the boys up quite a lot.
Harry on the other hand gets a bit of special treatment that makes Louis blush. He can’t help it that he talks about Harry about ten times more than anyone else. They are basically best friends, he has no control over what he says anymore. Harry gets an invite to go shooting and he couldn’t be happier.
“I like shooting more than Harry why didn’t I get an invite?” Liam grumbles to Louis when they are eating dinner later that night.
Harry pipes up across the table, “I’m just the favourite Liam.”
When they move into their new flat in autumn Harry and Louis have a moment where they look at the other boys and then themselves and laugh.
“We’re the only single ones,” Louis laughs.
Liam is still dating Sophia nothing has changed there. Niall by some miracle that occurred over the summer is dating Barbara. And Zayn is very much in love with Perrie Edwards.
“More fun for us then,” Harry replies watching the other boys kiss their girlfriends goodbye.
“Are you sure?” Louis laughs, “We are going to have to put up with all of that constantly.”
Harry seems to contemplate it for a minute pulling plates out of a cardboard box. “I’m sure it will be fine,” he mutters to himself. Then he adds just to make Louis laugh, “Or maybe we just might have to get ourselves other halves.”
Louis sort of agrees. He thought maybe University would open a lot of doors in the romance department. But so far it hasn’t. He has had a few nice dates, and hooked up with a couple of fun people but nothing. It is difficult to meet people when you have security constantly following you. He throws their pillows on their new old couch and thinks just maybe nothing is working in the romance department because he can’t get one person out of his mind.
It turns out to just be as bad as they thought it would be. The other boys are constantly fixated on their girlfriends. It seems like they are always stuck in their rooms or never at home. Which is alright when Louis has Harry for company.
“Louis la comida está lista!” Harry shouts from the kitchen.
Louis appears almost instantly from the hallway. “Your Spanish is not great Harry,” he laughs.
“Shut up. I try,” Harry says handing him a bowl filled with fried rice. Louis takes it eagerly, always so thankful when Harry cooks rather than when he does. He likes it, he is just bad at it especially when compared to Harry.
“Thank you,” he says as he settles down in front of the television. “And gracias for the Spanish.”
Harry grabs his own bowl and follows behind Louis. “I think if I stop trying to speak it I will just forget it all.”
Louis nods in agreement as he shovels food into his mouth and Harry moves his legs off the couch to sit down next to him. They all end up sort of tangled in the cushions and blankets.
“I need to put more of an effort it, I hate feeling like I’m letting it go,” Louis says softly.
“I should make some dulce de leche,” Harry adds.
Louis eagerly agrees, “And churros then.”
“I was about to say that,” Harry replies excitedly.
Louis laughs and puts more rice into his mouth. He loves this with Harry but it always puts a small hole in his heart. He can tell Harry feels the same way.
“We could go back one day together,” Harry murmurs softly.
“We should,” Louis says and then he adds, “And loads of other places.”
Harry smiles and then fills up his smile with a spoon full of rice. They sit in a content silence for a while just eating together until Louis breaks it, “This is the third night this week this has happened.”
“If they keep this up they are all going to fail their classes.”
Louis shakes his head laughing, he leans forward putting his empty bowl on the table. He looks at Harry and sees he is in deep thought now. He feels a tiny bit guilty.
“Does it make you feel awkward Harry?” Louis asks him settling back into the sofa.
Harry shakes his head. “It’s been months it’s alright,” he says with a soft smile to Louis.
Louis tilts his head to the side inquiring Harry to share more which he does after the prompt.
“Maybe a little,” he says looking down at his bowl, “It’s just strange.”
“Obviously. You two went out for a while.”
Harry shakes his head. “Only a few months and it wasn’t constant.”
Louis reaches his arm over and drapes it over Harry’s shoulders pulling him in. He comes easily and rests his head on Louis. “Well Harry, you’ve got nothing to worry about you’ve got me.”
It’s before the holiday break that Niall notes it to Louis before anyone else.
“You and Harry have been spending a lot of time together,” he says idly as he runs his fingers over the bookends in the library. They are desperately searching for this one text book that is supposed to be here.
“What do you mean?” Louis asks knowing exactly what he means.
He means they have come to spending all of their free time together whenever possible. He means the fact that Louis has been known to turn down going out in favour of spending the night in front of the television with Harry cooking for them. He means the way they cuddle and how Niall had found Harry in Louis’ bed the other morning although they all claimed it was because the heaters weren’t working.
Niall pulls a book out and looks at its spine before pushing it back in with a sigh. “You know what I mean Louis.”
Louis pulls his arms tighter around his chest. “Well we are best friends.”
“I know you like him more than that,” Niall says as he grabs the right text book and stands up properly.
Louis frowns. Is it that obvious?
“Harry doesn’t feel the same way.”
Niall hands him the book and shakes his head. “You never asked him.”
“I don’t need to,” Louis says quietly, this isn’t the sort of conversation to have out in public. “I don’t want to pull him into the mess that is my life.”
Niall shrugs. “You can’t make that choice for him. He has to make it himself.”
Louis decides it is time to confront his feelings head on. If Niall is telling him to things must be getting really bad. He tries to approach it in the best way he knows how, the way Harry has taught him through food.
He manages to get all the other boys out of the house on a Wednesday night, which isn’t that hard of a feat. Harry returns from hockey practice to find the most shocking sight, Louis in the kitchen.
“I’m making you dinner!” Louis says placing two plates on the bench ready to serve.
Harry tries not to let his mouth gape open as he toes his shoes off. “Really?”
Louis stops his frantic movements and looks at Harry seriously. “Yes, really.”
Harry’s face breaks out into a grin and he says, “That’s very sweet.”
“Really? You do this for almost every night,” Louis teases. He grabs the homemade mash and puts a portion on each plate.
“What have you made?” Harry says arching his neck to get a good look at the mess he has made in the kitchen.
“Chicken wrapped in parma ham stuffed with mozzarella,” Louis says as he adds the chicken to their plates, “With some homemade mash and gravy.”
“That’s kind of fancy Lou,” Harry says sort of shocked.
Louis drops the spoon he is holding and stares at Harry. “I know.”
Harry shifts on his feet. “It’s kind of romantic,” he says carefully, he bites his lip and blushes after the words come out.
“I know. That’s the point,” Louis replies confidently.
“You’re doing something romantic for me?” Harry asks puzzled.
Louis opens his mouth to say something but it seems to be failing him now. “Yeah,” he says breathlessly, “I’ve got to talk to you.”
Harry stares at the plates of food smiling for a second listening to Louis stammer out his words before he says, “Louis, I like you.”
Louis wasn’t expecting that. “What?”
“Isn’t it obvious?”
Harry’s forehead creases and he frowns at Louis. “I don’t understand what you mean Louis. I like you, what were you expecting?”
Louis isn’t quite sure. He was expecting to make this dinner and do something nice for Harry. Then maybe fumble around and tell him he has feelings for him and be politely declined. He wasn’t expecting Harry to try and jump head first into the deep end.
“Harry I don’t think you know what you are getting yourself into,” Louis fumbles.
Harry looked taken aback but that statement. He clenches his fists. “Do you like me?”
“Yes,” Louis says without thinking, like a natural reaction it feels like a relief to say it.
“Then that’s all that matters!” Harry says smiling at him, he steps forward across the kitchen divide toward Louis.
Louis frowns at him but let’s Harry pull him in to hug him. Harry presses Louis against his chest and Louis savours the feeling, it’s warm and comforting like a feeling of home he has grown to love.
“I don’t think you understand it isn’t that simple Harry,” Louis says into his shirt, he feels Harry’s thumb trace his shoulder blade.
Louis pulls away. “I want you to be able to think about this Harry, seriously think about it. I don’t want to be bringing you into something you don’t understand.”
“But I do understand it Louis-“
“I don’t think you do,” Louis interrupts.
“That is for me to decide and not you. I know you’re scared and I understand, you can’t make up my mind for me.”
Louis looks at their food. It’s probably getting cold. A thousand things run through his mind. Harry being hassled, Harry being chased, Harry getting hurt or Harry being pulled into a crazy public life too quickly and too fast and sinking.
“I just want to protect you,” Louis says softly. He looks at Harry and sees his face for maybe the first time properly since he walked through the door. He looks hopeful and so open.
“I know,” Harry says. It’s so sincere and he grabs Louis hand holding it in his own.
Louis isn’t sure what overcomes him but he leans up quickly to press his lips against Harry’s without thinking twice. Harry seems surprised for a second before he kisses him back for the first time. It happens in the kitchen with their fingers tangled. Harry’s hair is pushed back in a headband from tennis and Louis is wearing one of Harry’s jumpers that has to be rolled twice around his wrists. They kiss in the kitchen of their cold flat, it’s simple for a moment and it is exactly the way Louis would have wanted it.
“Come, let’s eat,” Harry says leaning back to press a kiss to Louis’ forehead. Louis tangles his fingers in the hair as the base of Harry’s neck before letting go. Louis sighs, “Let’s worry about those sorts of things when the time comes.”
Louis and Harry both agree that the best way to go about this whole tentative dating thing is to try and keep it as under wraps as possible. Louis and his private life at University has relatively remained private. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been the subject of gossip and rumours. Since the incident with the pictures no one has tried again. But it just means more rumours fuel stories than anything else.
And if people get an idea he is seeing someone he is very sure the lenses will be back again hunting down the thing everyone will be after.
That doesn’t mean they don’t do things. They spend way too many afternoons in dark cinemas or in hidden cafes. They take the most pleasure out of grocery shopping when Louis sneaks things into Harry’s basket. Or just traversing through fields and meadows, or getting dragged along to water polo practice or hockey games.
Louis peels the door open very carefully balancing two mugs of tea in one hand. He manages it without spilling any and creeps into his room. Harry smiles at him and extends his eager hands. Louis hands him his tea and settles his on his nightstand.
“You read my mind,” Harry says as he takes a sip.
Louis settles into the blankets and pushes a few books aside. “I just know you too well.”
Louis reads over his notes carefully while Harry complains he doesn’t want to. He rests his head on Louis shoulder and fondly annoys him while he drinks his tea and tries to keep warm.
It’s a comfortable routine they have fallen into. Harry barely spends time in his room anymore. They are probably foolish to think the other boys haven’t noticed.
It’s getting late when Liam knocks and opens the door. Harry quickly throws himself off the bed and hides behind the hidden side of the bed, beside the nightstand and in front of the wardrobe. Louis laughs into his mug at Harry’s antics.
“Hey mate,” Louis says as Liam opens the door just an inch letting some extra light from the hall flow in.
“Hi,” Liam says quietly, probably assuming Zayn is asleep just next door. “Are you still studying?”
Louis hasn’t really been studying at all. “I’ve been trying,” Louis smiles. He is pretty sure he can hear Harry giggle.
Liam nods. “I’ve just got home. Have you seen Harry?”
Louis shakes his head probably a bit too quickly. Liam won’t catch it. Liam is very oblivious.
“He’s probably still at the gym or something,” Louis lies.
“It’s getting late.”
“He’ll be fine.”
Liam nods and wishes Louis a goodnight closing the door and leaving him be. Harry’s head of curls poke up from where they were hidden lying on the floor.
“That was fun,” he whispers quietly.
“He’s probably dead worried about you now,” Louis laughs. “You don’t have to do that.”
Before Harry can get himself back on the bed someone knocks on the door again. He ducks back down to hide.
Niall opens the door without waiting for Louis to let him in.
“Hi,” Louis says trying not to laugh at Harry.
“Harry, did you save me any dinner?”
Harry shoots his head up again frowning with a pout. “Niall.”
“You aren’t supposed to know I’m in here,” Harry replies grumpily.
Niall rolls his eyes at both Louis and Harry and their antics. “Did you save me any leftovers?”
Harry folds his arms and climbs back on the bed. “Of course.”
“Thanks mate,” Niall says going to close the door. He changes his mind and adds, “You two are so cute together,” before shutting it.
Harry covers his face with a pillow and Louis kisses his forehead as they collapse into a fit of giggles. Things are going pretty good he thinks, pretty good indeed.
After their end of year exams Louis has a few days before he has to jet off to do some work. It’s in Kenya and he couldn’t be more excited if he wanted. He does however try not to talk about it too much in front of Harry. Both because he is extremely envious that he can't indulge his own wanderlust and sad he won’t be seeing Louis. It begins to look like they wont meet until they return to school again and all of his state functions and duties are done.
To tide them over until school starts again Harry very kindly asks if Louis wants to come to meet his family. Louis has heard about them almost every day since he and Harry met but hasn’t had the chance to meet his mother, step father and sister.
It’s a big step. But Harry has already met Louis’ close family so it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal anymore really when Louis tries to reason with himself. It only seems fair.
Louis tries to make it as unobtrusive as possible. He pleads to have the smallest security detail and begs for nothing showy or embarrassing. He doesn’t want to scare anyone or seem like he is trying to impress anyone he explains to Harry.
“Seriously Louis, I think everyone in the country knows you aren’t like that,” Harry tells him as he pulls him toward the front door. “Besides you don’t need to worry you’re a total charm, you’ll have them in the palm of your hand within minutes.”
Louis blushes. “Just like I had you?” he teases.
“You had me at hi,” Harry says opening the front door. He takes Louis hand in his own, it's a warm feeling of home.
“Hello,” a woman calls out as she steps out of the kitchen toward them. Louis can safely assume its Harry’s mother and the man with her is his step father.
“Hi mum,” Harry says kindly, he smiles at her in a familiar way. It sparks Harry that it mirrors the own smiles he gets from Harry/
“Hello Harry,” she says before she turns to look at Louis. She smiles at him in almost the same way.
“Hello,” Louis says extending his hand in the best way he knows how. She takes it and smiles at him and Harry, her eyes darting between them.
“It’s lovely to meet you. I’m Anne, just Anne,” she says waving her hand around as if to make sure Louis doesn’t go about calling her Mrs and being all formal around this house. It's going to take a lot to fall out of his entrained formal manner around here.
She has the exact same aura as Harry does. It’s one that puts the whole room at ease.
“And I’m Louis, just Louis,” Louis says with a hint of teasing and good nature. He is so glad he got that out of the way before any of them started bowing and calling him by formal titles.
Anne laughs and smiles at Harry, he shrugs his shoulders because everyone should already know what to expect when they meet Louis. He is just his own person.
“And it is a pleasure to meet you and be in your home,” Louis finishes.
Louis shakes Harry’s step fathers hand and gets introduced to him and feels like he has met the whole family now. Until he remembers Harry’s older sister should be lurking around somewhere.
“Where is Gem?” Harry asks.
“Right here you idiot,” someone says from the doorway watching them. Louis turns to see who he assumes is Gemma, she looks a lot like Harry apart from her blonde and pink hair. She bounds forward to wrap her brother up in a tight hug.
She smiles knowingly at Louis after Harry lets her go, eyeing him up and down as if inspecting the royal guard. Louis can tell she is a lot like her mother.
“He looks alright H,” she says after a moment, her lips turning up at their edges.
“Be nice Gemma,” Anne tells her, swatting her shoulder. Both probably because it isn’t nice to be rude to your brothers boyfriend and it isn’t very proper to be rude to members of the royal family.
“I’m just teasing them,” she laughs before smiling at Louis. She looks more like Harry when she smiles. Without further ado she wraps him up into a hug that Louis wasn’t expecting.
“It’s nice to meet you,” Louis tells her.
The weekend goes well. Louis fits in almost perfectly. Harry does get a bit flustered when his parents try a bit too hard or tread a bit too carefully. Or when Gemma does the opposite. It's nice either way. They don't get bothered and the security stays just far enough away when they visit a bakery Harry once worked at and they jump the fence into the old hockey field at the school.
Louis stirs a pot of gravy on his last night accompanied by only Gemma in the kitchen.
“I’m not prying,” she starts, “But are you two dating or?”
Louis continues swirling the wooden spoon in circular motions. They didn't share a room. But Harry did sneak in and out almost every night to see Louis. He doesn't know why Gemma would have noticed otherwise. “What did he tell you?”
“He just said he was brining the Prince of Wales home for the weekend.”
Louis figures Gemma is the type of person you are honest with or nothing, there is no other option. He leans the spoon against the side of the pot.
“I like him a lot and I care for him, I’m just trying to be careful.”
Gemma smiles weakly. “Harry is a lot stronger than you might think.”
Louis nods. He keeps on hearing people say this. “I know, I think I might be the weak one here.”
“Not weak, you just have more at stake. More calculated. H can be a bit careless, he uses his heart more than his head but its a strong heart,” she says patting him on the shoulder with a touch of sisterly affection. “So, you didn’t answer the question. Are you two dating?”
Louis goes back to the gravy. “We are. We just aren’t making it public at the moment, but I don’t know how long that will last.”
“Good. But I don’t care if you can get someone to chop my head off or exile me out of the country, hurt my baby brother and I’ll make sure you wish you never had been born,” Gemma says softly as she chops carrots. She has a knife in her hand so Louis takes her threats very seriously.
“Careful,” he says with a smile, “I’ll get you done for treason.”
She laughs so loud Louis is pretty sure Harry can hear it from the next room.
“You can stay Louis.”
Louis pours his cereal into his bowl and adds a little milk. He can feel Zayn watching him from the other side of the table intensely. He takes his gaze away from the bowl and catches his eyes.
“Yes Zayn?” he asks casually.
“Harry slept in your room again last night,” he says not letting their eye contact waver. Zayn is the type to get straight to the point and fast.
Louis gulps down a breath. “He was cold. His heater doesn’t work properly,” Louis says with a small cheeky smile.
“When are you going to tell us you’re dating?”
Louis sighs, “When the rest of the world loses interest.”
As if he has heard the conversation and knows it’s time to enter Niall walks in. “Loses interest in what?” he says putting his hand in the cereal box and eating some dry.
“Harry and Louis,” Zayn replies, not taking his eyes off of Louis.
Niall laughs with a mouth full of cereal. “You finally figured it out,” he says patting Zayn on the back.
Zayn’s mouth drops open and he looks between Niall and Louis. “He knew before me?”
Louis shrugs, and says, “Niall figured it out before I even figured it out.”
“So you are dating?” Zayn asks.
Louis feels like he should talk about this with Harry before he actually goes and tells them all. But he is certain Harry wouldn’t and won’t mind the boys knowing. They are their best friends and it is probably the right time.
“We are,” he says softly with a smile he can’t contain.
The front door opens and Liam and Harry return from their morning run bringing the wintery cold air in with them. They stagger into the kitchen to see the other boys around the table and Zayn still in a state of shock.
“You went running in a beanie?” Louis asks Harry fondly. His head is covered in a black beanie hiding his ears and curls from the wind. His thumbs are also poking through the little holes he has cut out in his sleeves to keep his hands a bit warmer.
“Keeps my ears warm,” he smiles. He almost ducks down to kiss Louis but changes his mind looking at the other boys.
“Liam,” Louis says looking at him toeing his trainers off, “Harry and I are dating.”
He reaches up and grabs Harry’s neck pulling him down to kiss his wind chapped cold lips. He can feel Harry smiling against his mouth.
“Zayn figured it out,” he whispers.
Liam who is in a state of shock asks Zayn and Niall, “Was I really the last one to know? Did anyone else see this coming?”
Louis is competing for the University water polo team in a match shortly after they join for classes again. Things between Harry and Louis have never been better. Now that the other boys know they feel a lot safer and more at ease. While they do sneak around campus and out in public they are free to be themselves at home.
As Louis leaves the changing rooms and climbs into the pool he is focused solely on winning and playing to the best of his ability. But he can’t help but take a quick peak up into the stands on the side line to spot Harry.
Harry gives him a wave and Louis knows he is wishing him luck. He has never had such a good cheerleader on his team before. That might be the reason they win.
“The boy from the pictures is back,” Liam reads Louis as they walk to class, “Rumour has it at Prince Louis’ latest water polo match representing the St. Andrew’s team his special friend accompanied him. He doesn’t have a name but we are sure he will get one soon. Students noted he cheered from the sidelines and sat with the Prince’s closest friends. They are inseparable.”
“I don’t really care to hear it Liam,” Louis snaps. He is tired and cold and fed up again. He doesn’t have a right to be annoyed so that annoys him as well. It’s just a lousy morning.
“I just thought you’d want to know.”
Louis tries to smile. “It’s alright. Sorry.”
“I know you worry about Harry,” Liam says as they taking the winding stairs to their class room, “But sometimes I worry about you.”
Louis smiles and puts an arm around Liam’s shoulders. “I’ve been doing this for over 20 years now Liam, there are people paid to worry about me so relax. Worry about Harry.”
Louis pulls another book out from the shelf and places it into his arms. It makes a pile of five. He strains his arms to grab another one, it makes six.
He steps back a bit checking to see if he wants anymore. He is pretty sure he has all that he needs. That is until he spots one more he thinks could help in his study, only he has no hands to get it.
“Babe,” he says looking to his right. But Harry has disappeared.
He looks to his left and to catch the edge of Harry’s coat vanishing into the next row of books. Louis abandons his search following after him carrying an arm load of books. His last minute exam prep can wait.
“Harry,” he whispers mindful that they are in the library. He follows Harry further and further down the rows of books eventually understanding that he is being led somewhere.
Harry stops in probably the furthest spot on this floor. The shelves are high and the books that surround them look like they haven’t been touched for hundreds of years.
“Hi,” Harry breathes softly into the dusty air, leaning against a shelf.
“Why have you lead me into the darkest depths of the library?” Louis asks fully knowing Harry’s less than pure intentions.
“Because I wanted to kiss you,” Harry says as he ducks down to get what he wanted.
They get as close as possible with the stack of books Louis holds. Their mouths connecting and Harry using his free hands to grip onto Louis, he has the upper hand and the clear advantage. It’s short but not so sweet, more exhilaratingly hot than anything else. It leaves them both wanting more, but eventually they return to grab Louis’ seventh book.
After finishing their exams Louis takes the leap and decides he and Harry should go on a holiday together. Their relationship has gone from a fun fling to something more serious very quickly. And things that are serious are difficult to keep under wraps. Because you can only make out so many times in the library before people start talking.
“Would you like to go to Switzerland?” Louis asks over a dinner he made. It’s sadly quite average. Harry doesn’t mind.
“I’m terrible at skiing if that’s what you’re asking,” Harry says coyly.
“I’ll teach you,” Louis pleads.
“You don’t need to beg,” Harry laughs, “I would be more than happy to go on a ski trip with you.”
It’s settled then and there.
They talk about it for a while. The implications, the pros and cons and they weigh everything up. They could easily take a very private trip, sure word would get out but it could just remain rumours and gossip. Or they could be open about it, let themselves be photographed and not in a platonic way. They could confirm everyone’s suspicions and take a deep breath.
“You don’t have to,” Louis says as he watches Harry carefully fold clothes into a suitcase.
“I think it’s time,” Harry says stopping what he is doing to look at Louis. He stares up at him from his position cross legged on the floor.
“I mean you can back out now Harry,” he says hopping off the bed to kneel down in front of him. He grabs his hands and places them in his own. “You can say no and live the rest of your life normally-“
“But that means living it without you. That’s a bit of a problem for me,” Harry smiles interrupting Louis.
“Listen to me Harry. It will be different after this,” Louis says trying hard to display the seriousness of the situation at hand. He is sure Harry understands, he has gone over this a million times. He just wants Harry to know if he wants out Louis will not hold him against his freedom, no matter how much it would break his heart.
Harry sighs. “I’ve known exactly what you entailed since I met you Louis. I didn’t wake up one morning and think, oh I’m in love with a Prince what a crazy surprise.”
Louis’ eyes shoot up and he can’t help the grin that overtakes his face instantly. Harry loves him. “You love me?” he voice comes out a lot weaker than he intended it to. He knows he is grinning like a maniac.
“Of course I do,” Harry laughs. “I love you.”
Louis surges forward to kiss him again and again and again. “I love you too.”
“So it’s settled then?” Harry whispers against his lips.
“I’ll talk to my family.”
Harry teaches Louis how to not be so worried, he relaxes him and grips his hand constantly reminding Louis he can hold his own ground. He is stronger than he looks and with Louis by his side he could do anything really. Louis teaches Harry how to ski. While Louis is a good teacher and Harry is a good student he doesn’t make that much progress.
But it’s alright because while the skiing is fun the company is better.
Their pictures get taken on the third day up the mountain. They end up on the front page of every newspaper, tabloid and website. The pre planned press release from Clarence House gets issued just hours later. Harry’s life changes in a day. Louis knows Harry is fully aware he has to watch everything he does and says from now on.
But neither Harry nor Louis really care they spend their time in a lodge by a fire, with just each other for company. They lock the world out and only bother to think of it when it’s time to leave and enter the real world again.
Louis curls the pillow closer to his chest and tries to drown out the drone of the television. He doesn’t care for the talk show playing and he wants to sleep. It’s been a busy week, he has barely been at the flat. He had a ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday and a banquet on Wednesday. He missed most of his classes leaving him really behind.
They are so close to graduation they can all feel it in their bones. But they can also feel it in their sleep deprived headaches and lack of personal lives. And Louis can feel it in the worlds increasing pressure on what he will be doing once he graduates. Plus their incisive want for him to get engaged.
Louis hears what he assumes is Harry wandering into the kitchen. He has friends over studying and Louis is pretty sure Harry thinks Louis is asleep on the couch. Louis lets his eyes drift off but keeps his ears open.
The kettle boils.
“Is he asleep?” a tentative female voice asks.
“Looks like it,” Harry answers quietly, obviously trying not to wake his Louis.
“He told The Sun he doesn’t want to get married until he’s 28 or 29,” she gossips to Harry like he would have no idea about what his boyfriend thinks.
Harry replies quickly, “I know. It’s mutual we’ve discussed it.”
She makes a dreamy noise before gently saying, “That’s very sweet.”
“You are so lucky to have him Harry, you are so lucky to be dating the Prince,” he sighs. Louis rolls his eyes without opening them. He knows exactly the face Harry is doing. That definitely reminds him how well they know each other now.
“He’s lucky to have me,” Harry says without a care in the world.
Louis couldn’t agree more. God only knows where he would be without Harry.
“Louis, where are you?”
It’s the first thing Harry says when Louis picks up the phone. He sounds both annoyed and panicked.
“I’m about to get on a helicopter-“
“Louis,” Harry pleads. He is now upset and angry.
Louis runs a hand through his own hair and looks out the window. It’s raining lightly in London. “I’ll be back before dinner alright?”
“You could have told me!”
He didn’t really have time or options. “I’m sorry,” Louis says watching the crew board. He is going to have to hang up and leave Harry in a second, cutting their phone call very short.
“You can’t just go to London without telling me,” Harry replies. Louis knows he is pacing back and forth in his bedroom.
“It’s sort of part of the job Harry. I don’t know what you are expecting me to say.”
Before Harry can complain that he knows Louis is being told to switch the phone off.
“You just worry me,” Harry says quiet and weak.
“I’ve got to hang up Harry. I love you.”
“Louis,” Niall shouts down the hall before slamming his fists against his bedroom door. Louis stirs in his sleep rolling over to grab his glasses and freeing himself from Harry.
Niall flings the door open not thinking twice. “Morning!” he shouts, letting light flood into the room.
He catches Harry trying to hide his face from the light with the duvet. “Hi Harry.”
“Apparently you two are engaged,” Niall laughs, throwing a newspaper at them. It hits Louis on the arm and he winces.
“Again,” Harry laughs from under the covers. This might be the fifth time this week. “You could’ve at least got me a ring Lou.”
“Sorry baby,” Louis says leaning down to kiss him on the head as he opens the paper, “Maybe next time.”
Things were going to change no matter how much they tried to stop it. The tides would turn as soon as they were handed their degrees. This was something etched into the back of Louis and Harry’s minds throughout their final year at University. The pressure on Louis to plan his future had always been there. While he his friends and Harry were free to worry about it as it came Louis always had someone breathing down his back.
“I’m going to join the Military,” he tells Harry. They stand at a precipice metaphorically and almost literally. The Scottish wind wraps Harry’s hair around his face and Louis holds him tightly from behind. It’s just grass and fields for miles. They rock together, their cheeks pressed against one and another bundled up in coats trying to savour the view out here before they have to leave it for good.
“Alright,” Harry replies. They’ve talked about it. But never like this. It has never been a definite. But maybe on the other hand it always had been. He was bound to end up in the armed forces. Harry would be naive to have thought this would end up with a happily ever after automatically.
“I want to fly,” Louis says, Harry can hear the smile in his voice and feel it against his cheek. The wind keeps blowing around them.
“And you will,” Harry almost shouts. He doesn’t shout all the other things he feels. He fears being left, the fear of something happening to Louis and the desperate pleas of his heart to not let go. But just like it was never Louis’ choice with what Harry wanted to do, it isn’t his choice to stop Louis. He kisses Louis and tells him he is proud, because he is and has never been more excited and scared.
Louis fixes the lapel on Harry’s graduation gown about seven times before his hand gets swatted away. Harry is very nervous, probably more nervous than Louis he is just doing a better job at hiding it.
“You alright?” Louis inquires.
Harry hums in agreement. “Just a bit worried I might make a fool of myself,” he says honestly.
“You making a fool of yourself?” Louis laughs, “No one’s seen that before.”
Harry pokes his tongue out and Louis is easily reminded of the same boy he had met in an art history class who seems so different yet the same. As they lead each other out into the procession line and take their seats Louis has time to reflect on their time here.
It does feel like it has been an experience to define him, it introduced him to some of his best friends he will keep for life and to someone he is so deeply in love with. He would like to keep him for life as well. It’s terribly cheesy to say but he didn’t just gain an education, he gained a lot more. The added extras will probably be the things he treasures more.
In January Louis leaves. But in October things had gotten bad. Like they both knew before they left their save haven of St. Andrew’s the world was going to have a much bigger microscope when they stepped out of their tiny protected space.
Louis is in Sandhurst and Harry is in London. But the distance could be likened to other ends of the world.
“I miss you,” Harry says, the phone line crackles it a bit so it sounds sadder than he probably intended.
“I miss you too Harry, but I’ll be seeing you next week.”
Harry snuffles. “Is that supposed to make me feel better?”
“Yes,” Louis tells him.
He sighs. “They followed me to work again this morning.”
Louis clenches his fists. “What? Harry they aren’t allowed to keep doing this.”
“I keep talking to my lawyers,” Harry says audibly upset now, “I can complain about harassment but I can't do much else.”
Louis interrupts him, “I’m going to get you some protection Harry, I get security or something-“
“It isn’t going to help Louis.”
“What else do you want me to do?” Louis asks. He feels like his hands are tied behind his back. Nothing he does or says helps.
Harry’s silence isn’t the answer he wants to hear.
“Harry,” he says quietly, “I can’t leave.”
“I don’t want you to,” Harry says quickly backtracking, “That wouldn’t help anything.”
Louis falls asleep that night feeling more tired than he has in months. Not because of carrying heavy machinery or the early morning runs and vigorous military training but because Harry is circling around in his mind. It’s a war between everything he feels and loves.
They sit in a small cafe not far from the base and they try to be as unnoticeable and quiet as possible. Apart from the security that watches over them.
Harry kisses Louis behind a menu and it’s a little bit like coming home without going to London. It’s one of his very few days off and one of the limited times Harry is able to visit him.
“I don’t think I tell you how proud I am of you enough,” Harry sighs. “I should tell you more. Also your uniform is hot, I should tell you that more.”
Louis laughs in only the way that Harry can make him. If the beam that echoes onto Harry’s face is anything to go buy they still make each other just as happy as they did before.
“I’ve tried to get you a security detail, I’ve talked to the protection branch-“
Harry shakes his head. “We’ve been over that Lou. My lawyers say I won’t get an allowance to fund it, I’m just your boyfriend not a member of the royal family.”
“We’ll we can figure it out then,” Louis hushes him, “I can’t live with the idea of you not wanting to leave your house or worse being hurt if you do.”
“I’m not entitled to anything. You know I don’t want to pressure you to get married I just wish I could have some sort of protection and that wouldn’t even be an issue.”
Harry bites his lip and shovels sugar into his tea. He understands where Louis and this anxiety comes from. He isn’t a fool. He and Louis have talked about it before, Louis’ greatest fear in the world is Harry getting hurt psychically or emotionally like his mother was.
“You should read the things they say about me,” Harry says shaking his head.
“I hope you don’t read them Harry,” Louis says grabbing his hands, they are still hidden behind their menu that is perched up on the table.
Harry shakes his head looking down. “I don’t, but I do hear it.”
Louis knows what they say. As isolated as he is he still has publicity public relations people feeding it in his ears. Harry the sad boyfriend left behind, Harry the hopeless, and Harry the boy who will never be anything more than a University fling.
The military training life could be synonymous with party life Louis learned quickly. It’s long nights in pubs, and long mornings with hangovers. It doesn’t help that most of the friends he makes are all single and without a care in the world. Louis is the opposite but likes the act like he fits right in.
It’s an early morning when he rings Harry after forgetting to do so the day before like he had promised. It’s just him, the phone line and a guilty conscious. Plus a headache and no other excuses.
“Hello,” Harry answers sounding awake and lively.
“Why didn’t you call me?”
Louis drags a hand over his face and sighs. “I’ve been busy.”
The silence hangs between them. Before Harry speaks up, “My parents were just asking if you would be spending the holiday weekend with us.”
“Louis,” Harry asks utterly confused. Louis can hear him stop moving and put something down.
“I just can’t Harry.”
“I’ve got to see my sister before she goes away,” Louis replies sounding distant and confused.
Harry bites his tongue to refrain himself from saying something he might regret. Louis hasn’t declined an Easter invite with his family since they started dating, he hangs up not bothering to say anything other than a polite goodbye letting Louis out of his misery.
Harry spends Easter without Louis and Louis spends it without Harry. They don’t talk. It’s all quiet on the home front.
It takes a few weeks of stilled conversations and tip toeing back around each other for Louis to try and fix it properly.
Harry gets a bouquet the size of himself delivered to his desk at work. The card promises Harry that Louis will try and make it up to him, and like always Harry was right to be upset with him.
Distance for the next few months it seems does make the heart grow fonder. Louis does make it up to Harry in the form of gifts and making sure to see him whenever he has a break. The minor bump in the road is always minor, a misjudgement and a mistake along the way.
Harry is less bothered by invasive camera lenses after Louis makes a statement pleading press to leave him alone, however people still talk like they always will. And as Harry remains not an official member of the royal family he remains will out official protection.
“Harry Styles, please check your mail,” Louis tells him over the phone.
“Why?” Harry asks particularly interested now pondering to the front door to grab his letters Niall hasn’t bothered to move. He flicks through them looking for his name on anything other than bills.
“I’ve sent you something,” Louis says easily.
If Harry knew better he should know exactly what it might be. He flicks past a fancy letter with a stamp on it and pulls it out. Sure enough it has his name imprinted on it.
“Louis,” Harry breathes as he looks at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst stamp. He manages to tear the envelope open and fish out the letter momentarily forgetting he is supposed to be listening to hear if Louis answers him.
Louis can hear the clear excitement in his voice when he says, “An invite to your graduation passing out parade. Louis.”
For another couple it might not seem like a huge thing. But for Harry and Louis, for Harry especially it is.
“Your entire family is going to be there,” Harry says breathless.
“They are,” Louis replies, “All the important ones.”
“Am I going to be sat right next to the Queen of England?”
Louis laughs. “Maybe not right next to, but close enough you are on my list of official royal guests.”
Harry laughs and Louis can feel his chest warming up. They feel like they have really made it through this year and the trials it bought, he can feel Harry’s joy echoing through the way he reacts.
Harry wears a red coat and he sits in the front row. They affectionately call him a future style icon. He doesn’t disagree or protest.
Harry winks at Louis when Louis catches his eye. Louis refrains from laughing like his body naturally wants him to. He stands tall and proud as his boy watches on.
“It’s 11:59,” Harry whispers, staring at Louis intensely. “Louis, can I have a kiss?”
Louis tilts his head to the side. Harry licks his bottom lip and arches his eyebrows at his boyfriend. Harry tries to force Louis to give in by tempting him but Louis refrains, pushing his chest away with his hand. Harry keeps his hands on Louis’ uniform though, running his fingers over his shiny new badges.
“What’s the time now Harry?” Louis asks with a coy smile.
Harry looks down at his watch and his face lights up. “It’s midnight.”
Louis smiles at him cunningly and Harry asks very politely, “Can I have a kiss?”
Louis shakes his head obviously enjoying the game and Harry pouts again. “Who are you asking? Ask properly,” Louis tells him.
“Lieutenant Wales, can I please have a kiss?”
Louis kisses him properly then, just the way Harry wanted it.
If Harry thought that would be the end of that he was wrong. It’s not that he didn’t think Louis wanted to pursue his military career further it’s just he envisioned the training would be done.
Louis was disappointed when he was told he would not be able to serve in active service. Deep down beneath the fear of losing him to a war zone so was Harry, he didn’t want Louis to be denied what he wanted most. Yet it seemed impossible, they were never going to allow the second in line to the British throne out onto a war zone.
There was a constant guilt is Harry’s gut at the thought that maybe he delighted in Louis being held back.
It seemed to serve a major cross road like never before for them. Louis was to go back to training this time for the Navy and Air Force in Dorset. And once again Harry was to be left in London to go about his daily life and his solo battles. That is what it had come to. They were no longer Louis and Harry and but two entities trying to work as one.
Everything comes to a halt in a ski resort. Louis knows it’s sadly familiar to the way things started.
“I don’t understand,” Harry says. It comes out strong, poignant of the way Harry has always been and he will always remain.
“How about we just take a break?”
“A break and breaking up is the same thing Louis,” he continues, “I don’t understand where this has come from.”
Harry might be lying. It’s self preservation. Louis watches him with careful eyes from the other side of the couch they sit on. He wants to desperately hold his hands or touch him but can’t force himself to do it. It would only be cruel.
“Tell me how you feel Harry. Honestly,” Louis says, forcing himself not to let his voice break.
Harry opens his mouth to say something and he searches around the room trying to anchor himself and make a coherent thought. He settles instead on looking at Louis.
“Confined,” Harry says quietly. “I feel like I’ve been left behind. There is a gap between us and it isn’t distance. I feel like I'm half a person most of the time."
“We aren’t moving anywhere,” Louis adds.
“Don’t say that,” Harry whines, it’s louder than Louis was speaking and it echoes off the walls.
“If I’m not honest here Harry then I’m being completely unfair to you.”
Harry covers his face with his hands, “Lou. Don’t say that. We can fix it.”
“I don’t want you suffering in anyway Harry,” Louis says finally leaning forward to touch him. Like he feared Harry tries to move away. “And I know you are. From me not being here, from everything. What are we doing? What are we supposed to do?”
Harry lifts his hands from his face and sobs back a breath. His watery green eyes meet Louis’ blue ones.
“You make me happy, and I believe I make you happy. That is all that matters in the end Louis, can’t you see that?”
Louis pulls back from Harry and flops down on the couch again. It is the same argument as it always has been. It’s that diverging idea.
Louis slowly shakes his head. “For someone like me Harry, it is never that simple.”
Harry doesn’t say anything for a long time. Louis passes him another blanket and they stay that way for a while. They don’t touch, they just stare at the fire in the lodge growing wilder and wilder.
“It’s not fair on you,” Louis says with a tremble, "That I'm not fully in this."
“Are we really doing this?”
“I can’t keep on doing this. Not right now. If we are doing this Harry, I need to be all in and right now I can’t be.”
“Can’t be or don’t want to be?”
“Don’t say that. I love you."
Louis won’t know how Harry feels leaving that trip until months later. As he leaves and goes about his daily life he thinks he has a good idea of what it’s like for Harry. It’s an ache in his chest, a fond reminder here and there, or in every single thing you do and hear that day. But for Harry its more. Louis is busy almost every day. Harry sees it in everything he does and in everyone who watches him, and on every street corner.
They leave him alone but it still hurts more than Louis imagines.
“Louis, I know you’re in London this weekend,” Zayn tells him over the phone. Louis is already in London and knows he is going to have no excuse to get out of whatever Zayn is about to suggest.
“All the boys are! We’re getting together alright? No excuses.”
“I don’t know-“
“If it’s about Harry stop.”
Louis stops. And Zayn continues, “I think you two really need to see each other. I’ll be good for you.”
“I guess so but I don’t want to upset him,” Louis reasons.
“Have you talked at all?”
They haven’t had a full conversation if that is what Zayn is asking. Harry used to tell him he missed him a lot during the first month but he used to do that anyway. Louis did drunk call him on two occasions. Both times it ended badly with Harry hanging up on him. Other than that Louis was asked to convey birthday messages to his sister and if he still had some of Harry’s jumpers or were they lost.
“Not much, I’ve tried hard not to.”
“This will be good for you two then, you better get used to it,” Zayn replies, “You’ll both be at my wedding at the end of the year so you may as well start now.”
Louis turns up to the pub late. Harry watches him walk in and Louis tries not to show his over flowing emotions. But he can feel them on his face without even trying.
They haven’t seen each other in almost a month and a half and they broke up three months ago yet here they are in the same room again. Louis can feel it in his finger tips. It isn’t a flood of wanting to get back together but it is a relief to be with Harry again, even if just breathing the same air and being in each other’s presence is all he gets. But Louis would be lying if he said his mind wasn't a constant ache of regret.
It’s a comfort to know it’s still the same. His heart still jumps at the sight of Harry. Not that he ever doubted it would.
“Hi,” Louis says looking directly at him and bypassing the other boys who try and get his attention.
Harry looks different. He looks sharper, more aware like he is on high sensitivity but also just like he is generally older. Louis isn’t sure if that is just what happens when you go from talking to someone everyday to just getting a brief mention of them once a week. Or if Harry has really changed, maybe his soft edge are a little sharper now.
“Hi Lou,” Harry breathes out quickly.
Louis spends the entire night craving to talk to Harry alone. It doesn’t happen until after they have spent a good hour with all the boys chatting and laughing. Harry is quiet but then so is Louis. He doesn’t reveal much about anything. The conversation stills around the edge of both of them, not even Niall's light hearted gags can break the ice they all feel. It is something they have said before, but their friendship ground isn't the same if Harry and Louis are off.
“I better head off,” Harry says standing up.
Liam gives him a hug and Zayn pats him on the back. Niall is picking up girls but Harry doesn’t need to say goodbye to his flatmate he’ll see him soon enough. Louis stands up and quietly asks, “You want me to walk you out?”
Harry contemplates it for a moment before shrugging a nod. What is the worst that could happen. They walk toward the door together piling their coats on, ignoring the knowing glances from their friends. They should know better.
“So,” Harry says standing near the door as it closes behind them.
Louis nervously checks to make sure there is no one out here. It seems empty. No photographers threaten to jump out of bushes and no one else stands around the edges eavesdropping.
“How have you been?” Louis says like it has been itching to get out. He says it too quickly.
“I’ve been alright,” Harry says timidly with his hands in his pockets. He changes his tone and adds, “I’ve been pretty good actually. Really busy.”
“That’s good,” Louis sighs like a weight has been lifted off him. Because it is. It really is.
“I’ve been coaching this rowing team, I’ve been visiting my parents a lot. Gemma misses you,” Harry replies more confident now.
Louis places a hand on his arm. “But are you good Harry?”
Harry carefully thinks about his answer. “I miss you Louis. It was really bad at the start, I wasn’t good at all. But now I’m doing better.”
Louis nods , knowing exactly what he means. Once upon a time he wouldn't have understood what that meant. He would have tried, given Harry a comforting smile and told him he was sorry but now he knows the feeling.
Harry continues, “Are you better Louis?”
He doesn’t say it but Louis knows Harry means does Louis have a better idea of what he wants from their relationship. He is asking if he is in a better place, if he is less frantically scrambling to balance every aspect of his life. He is asking for an explanation.
Louis doesn't stand of the edge off a cliff now but he doesn't have a firm footing. He wasn't to grab Harry and run with him but the only word that he can think of when he dreams of that is selfish. It's too selfish to Harry if he doesn't sort things out, better himself and be the person Harry needs.
“I am better. I’ve been less busy, had time to think," Louis replies with full sincerity.
Harry smiles, it doesn’t reach his eyes. “I’m glad.”
When Louis doesn’t add anything else Harry gets into a cab. Louis watches him go with a million things rolling around in his head.
“Have you talked to Harry lately?” Lottie asks casually. She folds a few pieces of paper from the work they are doing and puts them in envelopes with careful fingers.
Louis tries not to think too much into her comment. “Maybe,” he replies equally as casual a tone. They have been sending each other a few careful messages, little jokes or 'You should visit this gallery Lou, it reminded me of you' just casual friend things.
She smiles a little bit and Louis continues adding, “But you’ve got more important things to worry about Charlotte than me, like not embarrassing us all.”
She rolls her eyes at his teasing. “Alright Lou,” she says casually. She fishes around for a piece of paper before presenting it in front of Louis flat on the table.
He stares up at her and then back down at the paper. She smiles and says pointing at a name, “Harry is still on the official invite list for the concert.”
Louis looks at the list again. Harry sure enough is still on there, Louis must have made this and given out invites months ago. He cringes at his sister.
She laughs, “Seriously Louis? You’re going to have to call him. I can’t believe you forgot.”
“I don’t want to uninvite him,” Louis says quickly and pained.
“Why would you uninvite him? You love him,” she says quieter and kinder now.
His heart is actually jumping. This feels like a sign. Ever since the night at the pub he has wanted something to happen, something to tell him what he feels is alright. It feels like that sign.
“Do you think this is a sign?” he babbles.
Lottie couldn’t roll her eyes harder. “You don’t need signs.”
Louis calls Harry as quick as he can excuse himself from Lottie's presence. Harry picks the call up on the second ring, “Hello," he answers distant.
“Harry,” Louis answers. Harry doesn’t say anything and then Louis remembers he is the one calling for something, “I wanted to know if you were coming to the charity concert, the one for my mother?”
“I think so,” Harry says quickly, he then backtracks, “If you still want me to that is.”
“Yes. I do, so are you and Gemma still coming then?” Louis cringes inwardly at his awkwardness.
Harry laughs a real laugh. It’s the first time Louis has heard it in months. It puts him at ease once again. “We are,” Harry says.
“Good,” Louis replies, “Because I really want you there.”
It’s something. And it’s more than they had before. When he returns to Lottie she has a knowing smile at the blush on his face.
“Take it slow,” she notes, “That is my best advice.”
“I’m not getting back together with him just yet-“
“Of course you are Louis, you think I’m stupid?” she laughs.
She affectionately pats her older brother on the head and poetically tells his, closing her eyes and clasping her hands together for good measure, “Take your time young lion, but I'd really like to be a bridesmaid before I'm to old to walk.” He flicks her on the ear in return.
When the day comes Louis is so overwhelmed and busy it seems like a blur. He has things to do, organise and places to be and people to talk to. He has so many people patting him on the back and telling him they are proud of him. He only wants one person to tell him that however.
Harry is perfect, sitting two rows behind him sending Louis a little wave when they catch each other’s eyes. And there is Gemma next to him lovingly ignoring Louis even exists.
But does Louis have the courage to say anything to him other than a polite greeting and glad you came? Not really. Mostly because he is scared of Gemma. Partially because he is scared of himself.
He goes again and returns like always. He leaves London for Dorset and then Dorset for London. But somehow he ends on Harry’s door after the seasons have changed.
Harry opens the door and he is wearing a jumper that is too small for him. It’s familiar.
“That’s mine,” Louis says before he can be greeted.
Harry looks shocked. Standing in the doorway with no socks on and a jumper that doesn’t cover him properly, looking slightly foolish in front of his ex boyfriend who just happens to be the Prince of Wales. But Harry got passed thinking of Louis as royal a long time ago. You don’t need to put socks of for Louis when he doesn’t wear them himself.
“Hi,” Harry says looking at Louis and then down at himself, “It probably was once upon a time.”
Louis smiles involuntarily, and fidgets his hands in the doorway. He is standing in the cold and Harry hasn’t made a move to let him in. Everything that could possibly be running through his mind is doing just that in this moment. He wonders if Harry is about to slam the door in his face, laugh at him or the worst possible scenario tell him he is seeing someone else and that he should leave.
It’s been better this last month or two. They have been friends, in the most tentative gentle way of putting it.
“And you’re wearing your uniform,” Harry continues.
Louis is struck out of his train of thoughts, he was mentally calculating if he would be able to use his birth right to get anyone possibly dating Harry exiled. Not that he thinks Harry would be seeing someone. But he could be seeing someone. They broke up.
“Oh,” Louis says looking down at himself now. He is wearing a bloody Royal Air Force uniform badges and all. “I am," he says grabbing his hand off his head and holding it.
Harry hums in agreement leaning against the door frame and folding his arms defensively.
Louis clears his throat. “Can I come in Harry?”
Harry doesn’t take more than a second to consider, his walls falling down quickly for Louis like always with a blushing smile. He steps away from the door and extends his arm ushering Louis into his flat.
Louis has been here plenty times before. He practically lived here for weeks on end sometimes when he liked to hide and spent a good few holidays here when he could. It looks different but the same.
“I like the new art,” Louis says quietly. Harry steps behind him after closing the front door and following Louis.
“Thanks. It was a present,” Harry says walking into the kitchen. “You want a drink or something Louis?”
Louis stares at the picture. It’s a painting of a bleeding heart that has been stabbed with an arrow. It's very Harry.
“Tea,” Louis says not taking his eyes from the red splattered canvas, “Please.”
Harry busies himself in the kitchen getting increasingly wound up by the fact that Louis is standing in his living room. For days on end this is all he thought about, it was all he dreamed about and wanted. Then something changed and he didn’t need it so much. He wanted it, but didn't wake up every morning begging for it. Now it’s happened and he wonders where his mind stands on the scale of Louis and Harry. He feels as if any sudden move could tip the weights. Because he loves him, he loves him so much and that is the enigma.
“Harry,” Louis says breaking Harry’s internal panic. Harry looks up from where he is pulling tea bags out of boiling mugs.
“I’ve come,” Louis says. Then he stops and shakes his head walking toward Harry and the counter. “I need to explain myself.”
Harry shakes his head and grabs the cups of tea into his hands. He thrust one to Louis. “We aren’t doing this in the kitchen,” he says stronger than he thought he could ever be, “I kissed you for the first time in a kitchen.”
Louis nods and follows Harry who leads him to the back garden. It sheltered so they aren’t that cold. Harry leans against a tree and smiles at Louis willing him to talk.
“Aren’t your feet cold Harry?” he says instead staring down at Harry’s bare toes.
“Yes,” Harry laughs. Louis can’t help but laugh back until they fall silent together.
“I should start,” Louis says to himself more than Harry. Harry nods anyway encouraging him.
Louis rubs his hand around the fine white of his mug as it slowly loses its warmth in his hands. “I don’t know where to start. I just think I owe you more of an explanation than I gave you Harry,” he sighs.
“I took you up that mountain without a goal in mind, alright? I was just an unsure mess, I had my sister acting up and trying to get herself shipped off to another country, my family breathing down my neck and the entire world watching me.”
He watches Harry not watching him. He watches the overgrown grass and his longer hair still flutters in the wind like it did the first time they met.
“And you,” Louis says breathless, “I had you so unhappy.”
“I wasn’t unhappy,” Harry sighs quietly.
“You were Harry, deep down. I know you didn’t think it, but tell me now? Honestly.”
“I wasn’t in a good mindset,” Harry says instead. "But neither were you."
“I couldn’t think with you. I needed to work everything else out first, because I thought that was the only way to do it. It was selfish. I messed it all up and now look at us."
Harry watches him now and it gives Louis the courage he needs to go on. “You make me happy Harry, more than anyone else. And I know I make you happy, you tell me at every chance you can get and you remind me in everything you do by the way you just are,” Louis says for the first time. “I love you and it is enough because without it and without you it isn’t. It’s just nothing.”
“Louis,” Harry sighs. He bites his bottom lip and Louis can instantly tell what he is feeling. It a pang of familiar ache in his chest, the familiarity of Harry pulls him toward him in two steps so he can touch his arm. Harry grabs him pulling him toward his chest.
“It isn’t that simple though is it,” Harry tells him quietly now they are closer, “I’ve learnt that. I think I’ve learnt a lot of things. Life is a bit more complicated than some fantasy we had in our heads.”
“And so have I,” Louis replies.
“Well, we are going to have to teach them to each other,” Harry smiles, it’s a watery smile. “I don’t think I need you as much any more, I don’t miss you like I’m missing a limb its an alright sort of ache-“
“But I’ve missed you like that,” Louis complains. "It's alright to admit it, I wouldn't have before. I know that now."
Harry quiets him with a kiss. But when he lets up Louis tells him, “I love you and to tell you the honest truth sometimes I get a bit jealous because I think the whole country does too.”
Harry giggles into the shoulder of his uniform. They are both holding cups and Harry had no socks on but they stay in each other’s arms. Louis tells him it isn’t going to be easy, and Harry reminds him he doesn’t expect it to be.
Louis brushes a stray curl from his forehead and kisses his multiple times. “I’ve got a plan,” he tells him, “Would you like to hear it?”
“Does it end with me being a princess?” Harry teases.
The plan was a date, the same date they had back in a cold flat in Scotland. It was some chicken and some parma ham, and you know how it goes. It was a tentative touch when they reached for the water and a knowing smile. It was moving slowly with a steady pace teaching each other what they had learnt and what they could remember.
Getting back together was a no brainer, it seeped back to them slowly and then all at once like a river breaching its banks. When they both look back on their time apart they will view it similarly but also differently.
Louis will always regret his hasty decision, the way he let the rest of what was going on in his life push him and shove him until something had to give. He will always wish he had just sat down and breathed, yet deep down he will know it was for the best. The situation and relationship needed it. In the long run it worked he just thinks there could have been an easier way to get there.
Harry on the other hand who was upset and angry about it at the time will take a much calmer approach. When asked he knows while it hurt, in the long run it was the best thing for them. It made him realise his being wasn’t supposed to be defined by his relationship with some else. He didn’t need to structure his life for Louis, they needed to structure their lives together equally, something taught only with time.
But it both made them realise they didn’t want to go without each other ever again and time was an infinite thing when you had the rest of your lives to be together. If it solidified one thing, it was that it would always come back to Harry and Louis.
It takes a little while longer for Louis to propose. But he stuffs the perfect ring that once belonged to his mother in a backpack and gets to put it on the ring finger of the only person in the world he could ever think deserves that honour on a dusty Kenyan mountain top.
Harry doesn’t end up a Princess; he does however one day end up His Royal Highness Prince Harry, Duke of Cambridge.