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now I'll surrender up my heart and swap it for yours

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It's not the first time Ben’s brought his work home with him - being a top ranking member for MI5 will do that - but it's the first time he does it that it pisses Louis off this badly.

It’s early in the day, and Louis is in the garden having a kickabout with Liam when he hears Ben’s truck pull into the drive. It’s sunny out for once - the only clouds in the sky big, puffy white ones that float gently over their heads - and Louis is sweating, his t-shirt damp and sticking to his back and chest.

“Heads up!” Liam shouts, and Louis sidesteps to try and catch the ball on the side of his foot. Liam’s kick goes wide though; it sails past Louis into the dirt patch at the back of the garden, and honestly, how is Louis supposed to practice when Liam is playing like absolute rubbish?

“What the hell?” Louis shouts and plants his hands on his hips. Liam only shrugs and raises his hands, palms up, in the air. Louis huffs and turns around to chase after the ball and that’s when he spots them; Ben standing there with his arms folded over his chest and a lad Louis has never seen before hovering awkwardly behind him.

Louis narrows his eyes. The lad has brown hair, pushed up into a stupid looking white fedora but long enough that Louis can see it curling out the back and sides and onto the collar of his shirt. He’s in a pressed white shirt and a pair of light tan trousers. His feet are pointing inward, and his dark shiny boots are getting covered in dust the longer he stands in the garden. When he looks up at Louis he smiles, his pretty, wide, red mouth sliding up into a grin.

Louis rolls his eyes.

“And who’s this then?” Louis asks. Ben unfolds his arms from over his thick chest and raises an eyebrow at Louis. Louis jogs over to grab the ball from under the bushes and starts bouncing it on his knee over and over again - bounce, bounce, bounce. When Ben moves to grab it away he’s quick, but Louis is quicker. He kicks it up high into the air, and it twirls in a circle before landing directly in Louis’ outstretched palm.

The voice that answers is most definitely not Ben or Liam.

“‘M’called Harry,” the lad says. His voice is soft and low. He smiles at Louis again, flashing him a bright grin, and Louis feels the inexplicable urge to roll his eyes again. “Harry Styles of--”

“Harry, honestly,” Ben interrupts. “You can’t just go blurting it out wherever you go.”

Louis watches curiously when Harry snaps his mouth shut after that. Ben’s not saying anything else, but he’s silently scolding Harry for whatever it is with just a hard gaze and the way his lips press into a thin, firm line. Harry blushes; his cheeks are pink and flushed, and he ducks his head. Louis can hear him murmur,“Yeah, ok, you’re right, sorry,” but Louis doesn’t know why and doesn’t really have it in him to care much at the moment.

“All right, Harry Styles of somewhere Ben doesn’t want me to know about,” Louis says sharply. “It was nice meeting you, but I’ve got to get back to it.” Liam’s jogged over to them already, and he hovers next to Louis, taking the ball from Louis’ hands and bouncing it from foot to foot.

“Actually, you should probably come with,” Ben tells Louis. He shoots Liam a knowing look, and Liam stops the bouncing, tucks the ball under his arm and quirks an eyebrow at them. “Both of you.”

“Really?” Liam asks. He sounds so pleased Ben’s including him Louis wants to hit him, just on principle. “Sorry, I’m being rude,” Liam adds, sticking a hand out in Harry’s direction. “I’m Liam, Louis’ best mate.”

“Ahh,” Harry says. His eyes twinkle, something that looks almost wistful flashing through them. “Best mates. That must be nice. It’s good to meet you, Liam.”

And honestly, can Ben ever find a stray to bring home that’s not this odd?

“Oh, it’s lovely,” Louis says sarcastically. He bumps his hip against Liam’s and nearly sends him flying into the dirt. “Liam’s great if you ever need to practice footie by chasing a ball into the woods for hours on end. Or if you have a burning desire to watch a film and have to explain every plot point to someone along the way. Or if you really need a laugh you could talk geography with him. That’s always brilliant.”

“Twat,” Liam says, kicking at Louis’ foot.

“Stupid knob,” Louis answers, snatching the ball from under Liam’s arm and bouncing it off his head.

“All right, lads,” Ben says, clapping his hands sharply. He turns on his heel and heads up to the house. “Come along and I’ll explain everything to you once we’re inside.”

Liam follows Ben with a bounce in his step, and Louis chases after the ball to toss it at Liam’s retreating back one last time as they head up to the house. Harry’s still standing there hovering awkwardly, and Louis doesn’t have time to fuss around with whoever Ben brought home for whatever reason this time.

“Are you going to just stand there all day or are you coming?” Louis snaps, then heads to the house without waiting for Harry to catch up.


Louis can’t believe this. He just - he honestly, in all of the ideas he had in his head as to who Harry was, he never in a million years thought this was going to be the answer.

“You’re a prince?” Liam asks, for what is possibly the hundredth time in the past five minutes. It seems to be the only thing either of them can say. Harry’s sat primly in his chair, back a straight line and hands folded neatly on the kitchen table.

He nods once, and bows his head slightly. “Yes.”

“And you have to stay here,” Louis clarifies, “Because you were almost kidnapped?”

“It’s a lot more involved than that,” Ben says from where he’s stood in front of the sink. He’s got the sleeves to his flannel pushed up to his elbows and is washing the dishes Louis had stacked in there earlier in the day. “There’s a lot of details that I think it’s best if you and Liam and the rest of the lads don’t know about. For now we’ll just go with the idea that Harry is a relative visiting from somewhere and keep an eye on him here.”

Louis throws himself back into his chair and lets his arms and legs hang loosely at his sides. “Now?” Louis huffs loudly. “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”

“Lou,” Liam says lowly.

“Ben, honestly, this is the absolute worst fucking time,” Louis snaps. Harry’s got the sense to drop his eyes at least, cheeks pinking up and fingers twisting tightly together on top of the table. Louis should probably be having this conversation with Ben when no one else is around. He knows he’s being rude, but he’s pissed is the thing. He’s got things going on. He’s not got the time for this.

“I really do apologize,” Harry says quietly. “It wasn’t my idea to--”

“No, it’s fine,” Ben interrupts. He shuts the water and turns around, glaring at Louis. “Harry, sit,” he says again when Harry looks like he’s about to get up. Louis can feel Liam shifting awkwardly next to him, but he ignores him and Harry both. This is between him and Ben, and Louis sits up straight, levels his gaze with Ben’s and doesn’t flinch.

“You’re going to be nice, and show Harry around,” Ben says, “and that’s that.”

Louis feels a muscle tick angrily in his jaw. “I’m busy.”

“You’ll make time.”

“I’ve got the game coming up in a few weeks, and I’ve got to practice,” Louis adds through clenched teeth, in case Ben’s time overseas has fucked with his memory at all. Maybe it has. That would make sense at least. Maybe even explain why Ben thought that now was the best time for him to bring home a bloody prince. “I’ve purposely taken a few weeks off from the pub to spend time on my game, not babysit a bloody prince.”

“I’m not asking for a lot, Louis,” Ben says firmly. “Just for you to be helpful and nice.”

“I can be helpful and nice,” Liam chimes in with. “If that helps any.”

Louis presses his fingers against his eyes and holds them there until all he sees are colors swirling in front of him.

“Really,” Harry says after a beat too long of silence. “I don’t want to cause any problems. If Ben can just find me someplace else to stay I’m sure I can--”

“No, it’s just - just-- Nevermind,” Louis says shortly. He can recognize a lost cause when he sees one. If there was a chance of Ben not bringing Harry home with him it had to be before Harry was sat at his kitchen table, staring back and forth between Ben and Louis like he’s watching some kind of absurd verbal tennis match. The fact that Harry’s here already makes the idea of him not being around impossible.

He’s just got to deal with it, is all. Louis knows this. He pushes his chair back roughly and stands up, shoving a hand through his hair. His headband had fallen out somewhere between chasing a ball in the garden and finding out Ben brought a fucking prince home with him for them to hide away. Everything about this day is terrible. “I’ll go make up the spare room.”

Everyone is quiet when Louis walks out, the door closing softly behind him.


It’s late, and Louis is fucking around on his mobile when there’s a quiet knock on his door and Ben pokes his head inside. Louis glances up then looks back down at his fingers, trying to get the stupid little bird to fly through the goddamn pipes. There’s no reason why this should be so hard.

“What?” Louis asks flatly.

Ben comes in and closes the door behind him. He leans back and cocks his head to the side, idly scratching at his beard. “You all right?”

“Peachy,” Louis says. The bird crashes to the ground again, and Louis tosses his mobile down, frowning when it hits the sheets and slides off and onto the floor. “Is the prince all settled into his royal room?”

“Harry’s fine,” Ben says dryly. He stares at Louis a beat too long, and Louis looks away, fiddling with a string hanging from the bottom of his shirt. “You want to tell me why you were such a twat today when I brought him home?”

Louis could tell Ben a thousand things. He could tell him how stressed he is about the game in a few weeks, about how there are going to be scouts there - real actual scouts - and he wants to do his absolute best when he’s playing. He could tell him how stifling this town is for him, how all he ever thinks about is getting out one day, and every time Ben brings someone back for them to watch for a while they always leave. They always get to go do every single thing Louis wants to do but never can.

He can tell him that he’s so happy he and Ben are friends, that he’ll be thankful to Ben for the rest of this life for taking Louis in when he needed a place to stay after uni, but that he needs more. He needs to get away, to do something more with his life than working in a shitty pub and playing footie in the garden with Liam, and that every time someone new comes in it just ties Louis down here even longer.

Louis could tell Ben all of these things, but all they’d do is make Ben think that Louis is unhappy, or ungrateful, and that’s not the case at all. Not really. Louis loves his life and his mates and Ben and helping Ben take care of people who need it. He just - sometimes he wants a little more, is all.

“Just having a piss day,” Louis says instead. He clears his throat and looks up to find Ben watching him with narrowed eyes. Louis knows Ben doesn’t believe him, but he also knows Ben knows him well enough not to push. “Sorry.”

Ben’s quiet for a minute then nods his head. “All right. Get some rest. I’ve got an early meeting in the morning so you can show Harry around tomorrow before practice.”

Louis presses his lips together and breathes through his nose. “Right,” he says tightly. “Tomorrow.”


When Louis wakes up the next morning Ben’s already gone for the day. It’s sunny out again, and Louis stretches under the sheets and feels around for his mobile, tapping out a text to Liam to see what time he wants to come over and practice. Liam doesn’t answer because he’s a lazy sod, but Louis can hear someone moving around in the next room, the drawers opening and closing quietly, and it all comes back to Louis at once, the memory hitting him like a smack to the head.

Harry, the prince of who knows where, is staying with them. And he’s going to be Louis’ responsibility for a least a part of the day today.

“Yaaaaaaay,” Louis mutters.

He pulls on a pair of flannel pants and shoves his glasses onto his face, too tired to deal with his contacts just yet. He pauses outside of Harry’s door and scratches his belly then knocks twice and pushes the door open.

“Morning, princess,” Louis calls. He glances around the room and finds Harry perched primly on the chair set in front of the guest room window. He’s staring outside, the sunlight tipping the edges of his hair almost gold, face serious and jaw set. He’s already dressed in a bright blue shirt and freshly pressed trousers, and Louis wonders how he looks so put together at barely half eight. It must be some kind of princely power. “You want a tea?”

Harry nods and turns to Louis smiling gently. “That would be lovely.”

That would be lovely,” Louis mimics, trying to ignore the way Harry’s face falls when he does it. Louis doesn’t feel bad. He doesn’t. He doesn’t have time to. “Come to the kitchen if you want some. I’m not going to bring it here and serve you or anything.”

“No, of course not, Louis, I wouldn’t--” Louis glares, and Harry snaps his mouth shut. “I’ll be right down,” he says softly.

Louis spins on his heel and stomps down the hall.


It’s film night, and Louis is sprawled out on the sofa with his head in Zayn’s lap and his feet shoved under Liam’s thighs. Niall’s on a date, the twat - who goes and gets themselves a date on film night? - but it’s been fun so far, laughing along to The Hangover for the billionth time in between breaks to smoke up outside under the awning.

He’s pleasantly buzzed and high, the film nothing but a dull murmur of voices in the background, so he doesn’t even notice when Zayn starts pumping him for information about Harry in between one beer and the next.

“Where is he tonight, anyway?” Zayn asks.

Louis narrows his eyes at the telly. When did The Hangover get so confusing? “Who?”

“Harry,” Zayn says. “I figured he’d be around for the film.”

Louis cackles and rolls his head back and forth on Zayn’s thigh. “Right,” he snorts. “Because I’m going to invite a bloody prince to smoke up and watch a film with us.”

“Could’ve done, Lou,” Liam says and tsks softly. “He looks to be about our age and seems nice. And he’s probably lonely.”

“I’m sure he’s got someone royal to call if he needs a friend,” Louis grouses. He reaches down and plucks his bottle off the floor, putting it to his mouth and taking a long sip. Some of it dribbles out and he turns his head and wipes his face on Zayn’s trakkies.

Zayn smacks him in the head. “You should be a bit nicer. Ben wouldn’t have brought him here if it wasn’t important. Besides,” Zayn adds, wiggling his eyebrows like a twat. “Liam said he’s proper fit.”

Louis lifts his head high enough to see Liam go a nice shade of pink before dropping his eyes. “I never said that.”

“Oh, but you did,” Zayn teases. “I think your exact words were, and you should see him, Zayn. He seems lovely, and he’s proper fit.”

“Piss off,” Liam hisses. Louis jostles around when Liam reaches over to try and shove Zayn off the couch. He’s possibly too tipsy for this; everything feels like it’s swaying, the sofa rocking around under his head. He’s so out of sorts he doesn’t even notice when Harry walks into the room until Liam and Zayn both freeze around him.

“Hoooooooly,” Zayn says, then whistles quietly. “Wow.”

Louis shoves himself until he’s sitting upright, and, well, holy wow is right because Harry’s stood in the entryway to the living room in nothing but a pair of tiny black pants and a towel slung around his neck. Other than that he’s naked, save for the billion tattoos he’s got, and fuck. Fuck, Liam was right. Tattoos and muscles and skin. Lots and lots of skin. Jesus.

Louis feels his breath catch in his throat and stay there, making breathing a lot harder than it was a few minutes ago.

“Erm. Hello,” Harry says, voice slow. Louis watches as Harry’s gaze goes from Louis to Liam to Zayn and then stays there. His lips quirk into a smile. “Hi. Sorry, I didn’t realize Louis had company. Was just taking a quick shower.”

“”S’not company, it’s just these two arsefaces,” Louis mumbles, not that it matters because Zayn has already jumped from the couch and is heading over to Harry with his hand stuck out.

“Hi. I’m Zayn.” He grips Harry’s hand and holds it. Louis crosses his arms over his chest and glares. No matter how many mental messages he’s sending though, Zayn doesn’t appear to get them, and he just keeps his hand in Harry’s, mouth curved in his best smirk. Louis has seen Zayn pull more times than he cares to remember, but he’s never had to watch it happen in his own bloody living room. “Ha ha,” Zayn says and starts to pull his shirt out from his jeans. “Look, we’re twins.”

“What?” Harry asks, eyes going wide. He’s staring at Zayn while Zayn is apparently starting to strip, and Louis is ready to jump up, get in between them and physically shove Zayn out of the way when he realizes he’s only moving his shirt enough to show Harry the black heart tattoo he has that’s eerily similar to the one inked on Harry’s left bicep.


“Oh, sick,” Harry says. His face is bright, smile huge. Louis hears Liam chuckling softly next to him, and he stomps on Liam’s foot as hard as he can. “Do you have any others?”

“I do, yeah,” Zayn says. He curls an arm around Harry’s shoulder and spins him so their backs are facing Liam and Louis. “Come on, I’ll go with you to your room and show you the rest while you get dressed, all right?”

“Definitely,” Harry says cheerily.

Louis feels like steam is coming from his ears. “Zayn,” he warns. Zayn waves him off and holds up his middle finger behind his head as he leads Harry from the room.


Louis sends Liam out for food, so he has time to seethe by himself in the kitchen. He can hear Harry and Zayn talking quietly in Harry’s room at the top of the stairs, and he isn’t eavesdropping - he’s not - but if he’s maybe listening to make sure there’s only talking going on that’s just him looking out for Harry. Watching after him just like Ben had wanted.


He can hear Zayn’s low voice, then Harry’s deep chuckle, and it doesn’t bother Louis - of course it doesn’t - but it’s possible he drops a metal bowl on the floor and then kicks it around to make a bit of a ruckus.

“Oops! Sorry, lads!” Louis shouts up the stairs, and then hovers there until he sees Harry’s face peek out, followed by Zayn’s grumpy stare. Louis wiggles his fingers in the air. “So clumsy. I’m all thumbs today.”

“You all right, Louis?” Harry asks. His face is scrunched in a frown. Even frowning he’s so bloody fit Louis wants to drown himself in the sink.

“‘M’fine. Just tell Zayn that Liam’s on his way back with food.”

Harry’s face falls. “Oh. Yeah. Of course.”

Louis turns around and heads back into the kitchen, but not before he hears Zayn talking and then two sets of footsteps coming down the stairs.

“I told Harry to come eat with us,” Zayn says tightly. Louis barely glances at him, but even still he can see Zayn’s fingers curled around Harry’s wrist, Harry tripping over his own feet as he awkwardly follows Zayn into the kitchen.

“I don’t have to,” Harry says. “I’m more than happy to go back to my room and let you all have fun.”

Louis shrugs and keeps his back to them. “Whatever. You’ll have to share with you Zayn, then. I think Liam was picking up burgers.”

“Ooh, burgers!” Harry exclaims. Louis sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose. How Harry manages to act like an excited puppy about every new thing he encounters is a mystery to Louis. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a proper burger.”

Louis spins on his heel and stares at him, mouth hanging open wide. “You’ve never had a burger?”

“Well the palace makes like, kind of a burger, but not a genuine one from a cafe or something, no,” Harry says casually. He’s followed Zayn into the kitchen and is sat at the head of the table, dressed again in a pressed shirt and a pair of simple, tan trousers. Louis wonders if he sleeps like that. Maybe that’s all you’re allowed to wear when you’re a prince; it’s not as if Louis would know any different.

“How is it that you’re covered in tattoos, but haven’t managed to eat a burger from a shop?” Zayn asks. The door bangs open then and Liam bustles in, paper bag curled in the crook of his arm. He sees Harry at the table and smiles brightly.

“Hiya, Harry!” Liam says. “Or, wait, do we call you Prince Harry?” He fumbles with the bag and puts it down on the counter. He’s clearly confused, scratching his head and looking from Zayn to Louis and then back to Harry. “I’m not quite sure what to do here. Should I bow or something?”

Louis kicks him as Harry laughs. “Yes,” Louis says, shoving Liam to the floor with a hand curved tightly over his shoulder. “Get down on your knees. You should have been bowing at me for ages.”

Harry laughs and claps his hands together. “Oh my god, you lads are so funny. And no,” he adds, grinning at Liam as he holds a hand out to help him up from the floor. “No bowing please.”

“I’m still confused about the tattoos,” Zayn says. He’s already digging through the bags and squinting at the scribbles on the receipts to divide out the food. Liam bought about ten burgers too many, like usual, and Zayn must find one that’s suitable for Harry because he hands one over and Harry grins at him brightly. Louis nods for Zayn to put Louis’ burger on the table when he holds it up before heading to the fridge to grab a few cans. He pauses then sighs heavily.

“Would you like a beer?” he asks over his shoulder. No one answers and when he turns around to look he finds Harry staring down at his messy pile of burger with the most irritatingly gleeful look on his face. Louis refuses to be charmed. “Hello, earth to the prince,” Louis says and snaps his fingers. Harry’s looks up, and Louis gestures to the inside of the fridge. “A beer?”

“Oh no,” Harry says, shaking his head so his curls swing wildly. “I couldn’t.”

Oh no, I couldn’t,” Louis mimics then closes the door with his hip.

Harry ignores him. None of this is going the way Louis had hoped.

“Anyway, Zayn, the tattoo thing,” Harry says. He’s turning the paper under his burger around and around, staring at it as if he’s waiting for the instructions for how to pick it up to jump out at him. “My guard at the castle - his name is Sir Calvin - he takes me out to places when I want to go sometimes. I’ve just always picked tattoo places rather than burger places in the past,” he adds with a shrug, “though that might change after eating this. Wow.”

Harry finally manages to lift the burger in his hands and holds it in front of his face, eyes wide. “And I just take a bite like normal, yeah?”

Louis bangs his head on the table. “It’s a burger, Harry, not a puzzle.”

Harry’s ignoring him though - they all are, come to think of it. Liam is happily chewing on his own food, and Zayn is sitting next to Harry and nudging Harry’s elbow with his own. Harry opens his mouth and takes a wide bite, lettuce sticking out of his mouth and ketchup smeared over his top lip. He looks at Louis and blinks. “Like this?” he asks, voice muffled.

Louis sighs. “Congratulations,” he says dryly. “You can apparently rule a foreign land and take a bite of a burger. What a big day for you, Harry Styles.”

Harry keeps chewing and grins.


Louis manages to avoid Harry most of the next day because he and Liam head to the practice pitch early in the morning and don’t get back until nightfall. He refuses to feel guilty about leaving Harry home by himself - he’s a grown person, for the love of the Queen. A bloody prince even. Louis is sure he managed to find something to occupy himself with for the day.

When he gets home he’s tired and sore from running around all day, and covered in dirt and sweat from his hair to the tops of his feet. He finds Harry sitting on the sofa, legs crossed at the ankles and arms folded over his chest. He’s watching a documentary on penguins on a channel Louis didn’t even think they had, and when he turns around and sees Louis standing there his face lights up before he schools it back into something more normal.

“Oh. Um. Hello,” Harry says. He drops his head and fiddles with his hands in his lap. “Did you have a nice day?”

Louis shrugs. He wipes his face on the shoulder of his jersey, and it comes away streaked with dirt. Louis can’t even imagine how disgusting he looks. “It was fine. Busy practicing. Ben around?”

“He’s in the back room on the mobile with someone for a while now,” Harry says with a shrug. “Said for me to let him know if I need anything but I’ve been fine.”

“Sounds exciting,” Louis says. He turns to head for the bathroom when Harry’s voice stops him.

“What are you practicing for?” Harry asks, but then seems to change his mind. He shakes his head sharply. “No, actually never mind. It’s not any of my business.”

Louis had had his mouth open to tell Harry what he’s been practicing for, but Harry’s follow up has him snapping it shut. Louis isn’t going to go around just sharing information with Harry for no reason. If Harry doesn’t want to know what Louis is practicing for, Louis certainly isn’t going to tell him.

“You’re right, it’s not,” Louis says shortly. He kicks his trainers off and yanks the jersey over his head, tossing it down the stairs and into the laundry pile. Harry is clicking through the channels from the sofa, and when Louis looks over at him again his expression is blank, jaw set. “Do you need the shower?”

“No thank you,” Harry says tightly. “I’ve already showered today.”

Louis is just about to close the bathroom door when his mobile buzzes, and he grabs it from his pocket, thumbing it on when he sees Zayn’s name on the screen.


“I’m at Niall’s, and he wants to go bowling,” Zayn says without even saying hello. He already sounds tired. Louis can hear Niall yelling in the background. “Can you please tell him that bowling is lame?”

Louis smirks, because at any other time he would. He hates bowling. But he’s still cross at Zayn for trying to hit on Harry the other day, and he misses Niall since he blew them off for film night, so he grins.

“Bowling sounds amazing,” Louis says instead. Zayn moans and Niall whoops from somewhere behind him. “I’ll call Liam and tell him to meet us in a hour?”

“Fine,” Zayn sighs. “You should ask Harry to come too.”

“Ha ha, hahaha, no,” Louis says. He shakes his head. “Absolutely not.”

“You’re a dick, Tommo,” Zayn says easily. “See you in a bit.”

Louis hangs up without saying goodbye. He’s halfway into the bathroom when he turns around and glances at Harry again who’s staring straight at the telly, eyes not daring to move away from whatever he’s watching now. His cheeks are flushed pink, and he is very clearly trying to act like he hadn’t just heard every word of Louis’ conversation.

Well fuck.

Louis stares up at the ceiling and breathes out a long, tired breath. “I don’t suppose you’d like to come bowling with me and the lads tonight, would you?”

“Oh, I don’t - I mean.” Harry bites his lip and blinks slowly. His hair is falling in front of his face, long and soft and curly, and the top button of his black pressed shirt is open. Louis can see just the smallest hint of skin, and his mouth goes dry.

“I’ve never bowled before,” Harry finally admits.

Louis sighs. “Of course you haven’t. You’d never had a burger until the other night. Why would I think you’d have been bowling.” Harry grins at him, bright and happy as he stands from the sofa and smoothes down the front of his trousers. “All right, listen. You can come with, on one condition.”

“Anything,” Harry says, and beams.


It’s possible Louis didn’t think his condition entirely through.

“Wow,” Zayn says, sounding dazed. He’s slid next to Louis in the booth and is staring at Harry’s arse in the tightest pair of blue jeans Louis has ever seen on a human. He just - he didn’t think--

“I told him he couldn’t come bowling in pressed trousers,” Louis says thinly. His voice sounds weak, even to his own ears. “I didn’t think that these were going to be the jeans that he had. I just--”

“Fuck, Lou, he’s so fit,” Zayn murmurs. “I can’t believe you’re not moving in on that.”

Louis smacks Zayn on the back of the head so hard Zayn nearly falls out of the booth. “Shut your trap,” Louis scolds. He’s got his eyes narrowed, watching Niall tell Harry some kind of story that involves big sweeping arm gestures and lots of laughing. Harry looks happy - he looks brilliant, actually - and Louis has to look away before he’s caught staring.

“I’m not going to be moving in on that because he’s number one, a prince, number two, someone Ben has to protect for his job and number three, oh, yeah, did I mention he’s a bloody prince? Christ, I nearly had to sign a document in blood just to let Harry leave the house tonight to come bloody bowling. There’s more MI5 watching this carpark right now than at the main branch.”

“Well that all might be true he doesn’t look very princely right now, that’s for sure,” Zayn mumbles. Harry’s caught Louis’ eye and is beaming at him brightly. He’s got on a plain white tee and his ridiculous blue jeans and a shiny scarf tied around his head to keep the hair back from his face. Louis doesn’t think about how fit he is, or how nice, or how sweet. He’s just - he’s not.

“All right, so Niall explained to me how the game works, yeah?” Harry says, coming over to them with a bright pink bowling ball cupped in the center of his huge hand. “Now. How do I win?”


The ride home from the bowling alley is silent, all of them sitting in shock and watching Harry who’s grinning and promising them all that no, really, he’d never bowled before in his life.

“But that’s not possible, mate,” Liam says. He’s staring at Harry with wide eyes. Louis hopes he manages not to crash the car. “You bowled all strikes.”

“Every single frame,” Zayn adds.

“I’ve never seen anything like that happen before,” Niall cuts in with. “Ever.”

Harry laughs quietly and shrugs. He tugs the scarf from his hair and it falls down loose in front of his face. Louis turns away and shoves his hands under his thighs to keep from touching it. “Well that’s what Louis said to do. He said, roll the ball down the lane and try and knock down all the pins every time.” Harry shrugs carelessly and tacks on, “So that’s what I did.”

“Unfucking believeable,” Louis mumbles.

Harry turns to look at him. “What is?”

Louis laughs. Harry is ridiculous. “Because, Prince Harry, normal people can’t bowl a strike every single time they roll a ball down a lane just because someone told them to. Must be a princely talent.”

Even in the dark of the car Louis can tell when Harry’s cheeks go pink. “Shut up,” he mumbles.

“Well I don’t know about you lads, but all this talk about bowling is making me hungry,” Zayn says.

Liam groans. “Everything makes you hungry.”

“I could eat,” Niall says. He digs his mobile from his pocket and starts tapping on the screen. “It’s late but it’s not that late.”

“Or I could--” Harry starts and then stops. He shrugs loosely and turns to look back out the window. “Never mind.”

“No, what?” Zayn asks.

Louis watches Harry closely. He’s gone quiet again, voice low over the steady thrum of the car engine.

“It’s nothing, just that when I was at Ben and Louis’ today I saw some food in the fridge. I’m a pretty good cook,” he adds, shrugging one shoulder. “I took some lessons at, erm--”

“At your castle?” Louis teases.

Harry shoots him a look and shrugs. “At my home, yeah.”

“Sounds good to me,” Niall says and stuffs his mobile back in his pocket. “Liam, my good lad, take us to Louis’ house!”


When they get back to the house Harry shoos them all out of the kitchen with a cheeky grin and a promise to let them know if he needs anything. Louis grabs some cans before they’re evicted and then they all sprawl out on the sofa, arms and legs tangled as they lay in a pile of limp bodies.

Zayn’s in charge of the remote, which is never a good sign. He tends to flip past everything Louis ever wants to watch and then spends forty minutes watching the mating rituals of the dung beetle. Right now it’s some sort of documentary about rice farming, and Louis is trying to follow what’s happening on the telly only because listening to the rest of his friends gossip is making him want to flush his own head in the toilet.

“He’s such a nice lad.”

“And so bloody fit too.”

“Did Ben ever say what the details were? Like, why he had to bring Harry here to look after?”

“He didn’t but fuck, did you see him in those jeans tonight?”

“I don’t know why Lou is being such a twat about bringing him out. He seems like a perfectly fine person.”

“And fuck, did you see how fit he is?”

“All right,” Louis says, sitting up and shoving a pillow over Zayn’s face. “If you say he’s fit one more time I’m going to hold this here until you stop breathing.”

“He is though,” Niall says, wiggling his eyebrows. “So bloody fit. And I think he’s sweeeeet on youuuuu.”

“Ugh, Niall, you’re such a--”

“Food’s ready!”

Harry’s leaned his head out of the doorway, his face flushed pink from the heat in the kitchen. It takes a second for everyone to sort out their limbs, but the room is starting to smell delicious, something salty and tangy lingering in the air, and they all move a little faster the stronger the scent gets.

“Is that bacon?” Niall asks hopefully.

Harry grins. “Yep.”

Louis ducks his head as he brushes past Harry on his way into the kitchen. Harry is bigger than him - taller and broader - and Louis’ shoulder grazes against his chest as he passes by. He’s not too sure what he’s expecting to see when he gets to the table, but it’s certainly not having everything laid out with actual plates and utensils and serviettes folded into tiny swan shapes next to each plate.

There’s close to an actual feast in the center of the table - small pizzas and a salad and a bowl with veggies and dip. He’s got crisps out and some bread and everyone stops dead and stares from the table to Harry and back again. Harry’s chewing on his thumb, looking up at everyone from under his lashes and blushing.

“Does it look all right?”

“Does it look all right?” Niall repeats, then pushes past everyone and drops into a chair, taking his plate and filling it with food. “Mate, it looks fucking incredible. What’s on these pizza things?”

“Just some chicken and bacon I found in the fridge. The pizza was leftover so I dressed it up, re-cooked it in the oven and set it up that way.” He looks at Louis, eyes wide. “Was that all right?”

“Yeah, Harry,” Louis says. His voice is thick; it feels like something is lodged deep in his throat. “It looks good.”

Harry beams and follows everyone into the kitchen, sitting down at the empty chair next to the one Louis always sits in. Louis just watches him. For some reason he doesn’t feel like moving much at all right now.


Louis doesn’t see Harry for a few days, though the fault’s not all on him this time. The first day after the bowling night Harry was gone with Ben from first thing in the morning and neither of them came back until well after Louis was asleep. Then the day after that Louis heard Harry moving around in his room, but Harry never came out. He seemed content to just hole up in there, and Louis figured if Harry wanted his space Louis would give it to him.

After the first two days though it got easier and easier to just ignore Harry a little bit more each day. He’d wait until Harry was in the bathroom before heading down to the kitchen and as soon as he heard Harry go from the shower into his bedroom Louis would hop in for his own shower really quickly, making sure to be dressed and out the door before Harry emerged again.

He’s got no idea what Harry does in the house by himself all day. Louis knows Ben’s around with him for most of it, and he probably watches more episodes of that penguin show or something, but Louis can’t be worried about that. The date of the game is coming up quick, and every moment Louis spends not practicing in his garden or on the pitch is a moment wasted.

Louis doesn’t plan on wasting this opportunity at all.

He’s out in the garden angrily kicking the ball back and forth against his practice net when he hears the back door bang open and then footsteps on the stairs. It’s hot out again, and Louis’ hair is damp and sticking to the back of his neck. He’s got it pushed away from his face with a headband but pieces keep falling out and getting stuck in his eyes, making it easy to miss when the ball comes careening towards him, skirting just outside of the arc of Louis’ foot when he tries to kick it back.


Louis can’t keep missing shots coming at him like this; he can’t. The game is in less than a week, and for him to still be making such basic, stupid mistakes is unacceptable. He spins around to try and find where the ball’s gone to, but instead sees Harry standing there in his standard pressed shirt and trousers, holding the ball in one hand and smiling.

“I’m pretty sure the angrier you are it doesn’t make the ball go any farther when you kick it.”

Louis rolls his eyes. “Ha ha ha.” He stalks forward and yanks the ball from Harry’s hand and sets to bouncing it up and down on his knee. He expects Harry to leave but instead Harry just stands there, arms clasped behind his back and a cheeky grin on his face. “Don’t you have something to do? Rule a country? Bless a baby?”

“Well, seeing as how I’ve been hiding out in your house for the past few weeks, no,” Harry teases. He looks around the yard, frowning slightly when his gaze falls back on Louis. “Where’s Liam?”

“Working, the fucker.” Louis frowns and drops the ball to the ground. He pulls his leg back and kicks the ball hard, shooting it directly into the net. “Because that’s important.”

“Well I’m sure for Liam it is,” Harry says lightly.

Louis frowns more. “Yeah. Whatever.”

His head is pounding, the heat from the sun beating down on his neck and shoulders. Louis pulls up the bottom of his shirt and wipes his face with it, and when he looks back Harry’s staring at him, eyes dark, mouth parted just the tiniest amount.

Louis snaps.

“So while this chat’s been lovely, I’ve really got to get back to it.”

“Yes. Right. Sure.” Harry looks up and licks his lips. “Though, I mean, I’m not very good of course, but if you wanted to, I mean, I suppose I could probably--”

“Oh my god, Harry, spit it the fuck out,” Louis says. He regrets is immediately, the way Harry’s face pales, then shuts down. “Listen, I’m busy today, and while I usually enjoy listening to you take forty minutes to get out the simplest sentence--”

“God, you know, why do I bother with you?”

Louis looks up, mouth closing quickly, because while he’s not known Harry for the longest time he’s never heard him use this tone of voice on anyone ever. Harry’s always so quiet, so laid back and agreeable. Now though his jaw is tight, his fingers are clenched into fists, and he sounds - well, he sounds angry almost.

“Excuse me?”

“You, you know?” Harry throws his hands in the air, then points at Louis accusingly. “I don’t know why I bother with you. I try - I try to be nice, and helpful and I don’t know. I’m just trying to get you to like me. God, why am I even wasting my time?”

Louis feels like a shit. He doesn’t know what to say, really. He knows he hasn’t been the nicest to Harry, but he didn’t think it mattered that much. He didn’t think Harry really cared. He’d seemed perfectly happy to just accept the way Louis was acting towards him, but the more Louis thinks about it the worse he feels.

He’s been a prick to Harry for no good reason. It’s not Harry’s fault he was nearly kidnapped and had to come stay at Ben’s. It’s not Harry’s fault Louis is so wound up about practicing for his game that he can’t figure out how to be a normal person at the same time.

If anything, Harry’s probably been really lonely. And sad. And scared most likely, and Louis has been…

Christ, Louis has been a twat.

Harry sighs one more time, digging his fingers into his hair and yanking it away from his face. He’s beautiful. Handsome and sweet and caring. Louis should possibly stop trying his hardest to ignore Harry and keep him out of Louis’ orbit and concentrate a little more on being nice and being a friend and making Harry’s time here easier, not harder.

“Anyway,” Harry says softly. “I guess I’m going to go.”

“No. No, wait--” And fuck, Louis has been standing here thinking about Harry so long he’s not actually said anything, and now Harry is leaving. It’s almost impressive, the sheer number of ways Louis has managed to cock this all up.

“Wait, shit, I’m sorry,” Louis says quickly.

Harry stops from where he’s walking away and looks up. He blinks, his expression wary. “Sorry for what?” he mumbles.

Louis shrugs. “All of it?” He kicks the ball to the other side of the yard and jogs over to where Harry’s standing. Harry has his hands shoved deep into his pockets. His head is bowed, but he’s looking up at Louis, chewing on his bottom lip and staring at him openly.

“Sorry I’ve been such a tit,” Louis says. “I’ve just - I’ve got a lot of things going on that have been on my mind, but that’s not any fault of yours.” Louis takes a deep breath and squeezes his eyes shut. He hates apologizing; hates being the one who was wrong enough that he has to apologize.

“I do like you, Harry. I like you better than Liam, for instance, who’s blown me off again today,” he adds and Harry laughs. “I just. Sorry.” He sticks his hand out and wiggles his fingers when Harry doesn’t immediately slide his palm against Louis’. “Friends?”

For a split second Louis thinks Harry’s going to say no. He thinks Harry’s going to tell him to sod off, that he’s going to walk away and leave Louis standing here like a total knob, and honestly, if he does Louis won’t blame him. He deserves whatever Harry chooses to give him and more.

Thats why, when Harry grins and fits their hands together - fingers slipping against Louis’ until they’re pressed up against the grooves of his hand - Louis nearly loses his breath.

“Yeah. Yeah, all right,” Harry says slowly. “Friends.”


Louis comes to realize a few things in the coming days with Harry.

Harry is really funny. It’s not that he’d thought Harry wasn’t funny, but he never really let himself appreciate just how ridiculous and silly and sometimes downright inappropriate Harry could be. Louis loves it.

Harry’s also nice - Louis had always known that - but there’s a lot more to him. He’s not a pushover, or so nice that he doesn’t see and understand things that are happening right in front of him. Louis thinks Harry’s cunning, in a way. He’s got everyone fooled into thinking he’s just a sweet, dopey, go-along-with-everything kind of lad, when in reality Harry knows exactly what he’s doing about everything, why he’s doing it, and what it’s going to do for him in the long run.

He finds out about Harry’s family, and in turn Louis tells Harry about his own. They share stories about people they’ve known growing up, and Louis tells Harry how he came to live with Ben and about some of the other people Ben’s helped. He finds out that Harry’s scared, of course, since someone tried to bloody kidnap him, but that leaving was the best thing for Harry to do to protect his family, and his sister who Harry loves more than anyone in the world.

Louis finds out so many things, but the most important to him - at least right now - is that when Harry was hinting around at helping Louis practice and he mentioned that he wasn’t the best at footie, that he most definitely wasn’t lying.

“Heads up! Harry - oh. Ah, shit,” Louis shouts as the ball sails past Harry yet again. Harry’s dressed in a pair of Louis’ shorts that are too big for him and a plain white tee, and he’s got his hair pulled back into an actual tiny ponytail on the top of his head. When Louis saw what he looked like as he stepped out of his room this morning he’d laughed for ten minutes straight.

“Sorry, Lou,” Harry calls as he jogs into the bushes after the ball.

Louis rubs his hands through his hair. It’s really not going to matter, is the thing. The game is in a few days and no amount of practicing is going to help Louis at this point. He’s either good enough or he isn’t. Standing around in the sun watching Harry chase after balls all day long isn’t helping any.

Harry emerges with the ball under his arm and a stick poked right into the center of his ponytail. Louis laughs. Harry is so ridiculous Louis can’t even believe it sometimes. Harry chews his bottom lip a little and tries to dribble the ball on his knee, managing to tap it once before it flies off in the total opposite direction.

“Crap. Lemme just--”

“Oh my god, Harry, please.” Louis waves his hands in the air and Harry stops and turns to look at him. His cheeks are pink from the sun, his eyes sparkling and mouth curved in a bright grin.


“Just - just come back, all right?”

Harry shuffles over, bright yellow trainers kicking dirt around him as he walks. Louis plants a hand on his hip and tries to look scornful. He’s pretty sure it’s coming across more fond but what can he do: this is apparently just the face he makes around Harry these days.

“Harry. Harry Styles. Prince Harry Styles of someplace I’m not really sure because it sounded like it had a lot of consonants and not too many vowels that time that you told me.”

Harry sighs and drops his head. “Yes?”

“Harry Styles, you do know how to play football, correct?” It’s the only thing that makes sense, really. No one could understand how the game is played and actually play this badly.

“I do!” Harry insists. “I’ve learned for years! I know so much and how to play and what I’m supposed to be doing! I just.” Harry moans quietly. “I feel for as much as I understand the game, I should probably be a bit better at it, yeah?”

Louis doesn’t know how to say it. He pauses for a moment, then makes a decision.

“You’re awful.”

“I know!” Harry wails. “I said I would try, all right? I mean, is it helping you at all?”

Harry blinks widely at him. Louis presses his lips together and scrunches his nose up.

“Honestly?” he asks. When Harry nods Louis shakes his head slowly. “Not even a little bit.”

Harry clutches his chest and staggers around on the lawn dramatically. It makes Louis laugh - Christ, lately everything Harry does makes him bloody laugh - and by the time Harry’s dropped to the ground and is miming rolling around in pain Louis has had enough.

“All right, all right, enough already!”

Harry stops rolling long enough to look up at Louis imploringly.

“Lou, I’m wounded.”

“Yeah, well, maybe get your wounded ass in the shower and we’ll go grab a few pints and something to eat, yeah?”

Harry pushes up and leans on his elbows. He’s got his legs crossed and dirt is tracked up and down his legs. His hands are dirty, and he’s got smudges over his forehead and on his cheeks and chin and it hits Louis all of a sudden, a swelling, almost painful ache in his chest.

Louis wants to kiss him.

He wants to kiss Harry so badly his palms start to sweat, and he has to curl his hands into fists just to keep from yanking Harry to his feet and kissing him right here in the middle of the garden. Louis can almost see it happen; him pulling Harry up, slipping his fingers into Harry’s hair and tilting his head to the side. Sliding their mouths together slowly to taste Harry’s lips. Jesus.

He shakes his head when he realizes Harry’s mouth is moving and he’s got no idea what Harry’s just said. Crap. “Um. What?”

Harry grins a little, mouth curved in a smirk. Louis narrows his eyes and frowns, because Harry looks far too smug for Louis’ liking. “I said that sounds good. You having trouble paying attention or something, Lou?”

Louis refuses to answer that. He spins on his heel and shouts, “That’s no business of yours, Harold. Now are you coming or what?”


The pub is quiet when they get there because it’s too late for lunch but still a bit too early for dinner. Louis gets him and Harry a table in the back and then goes to the bar to order them a few pints and some chips to share. By the time he’s gotten back Harry’s staring around the pub with wide eyes, his face bright and happy.

Louis shakes his head and slides his chair closer to Harry, pushing his pint across and motioning for Harry to take a sip.

“What’s with the face?” Louis asks.

Harry sips his pint and pulls a face, wrinkling his nose and shuddering a little. “What face?”

“Well I was talking about the face where you were looking around the room like this was the best place you’ve ever gone to, but now I mean the face where it looks like you’ve just smelled something truly awful.”

Harry laughs and sips his drink again, managing to get it down a bit easier this time. “Sorry. I’ve just only ever had wine and such at the, erm--”

“The castle?” Louis teases.

Harry kicks Louis’ foot under the table. “Yes. Fine,” he hisses. “At the castle.”

Louis looks around the shoddy pub and frowns. “I could see if they have wine here, but I’m not too sure--”

“No, not at all!” Harry picks up his glass and takes another long sip, barely making a face at all this time. “This is fine. It’s great. I love it.”

Louis chuckles. It’s fairly clear that Harry does not love it, but Louis will let it slide.

“So Louis,” Harry says, picking up one of the chips and looking at it curiously before slowly putting it in his mouth. He chews it a few times then smiles happily before picking up another. “Tell me what the big deal is about this game you’re practicing for.”

And oh, Louis knew this was coming. It’s been far too long without Harry asking again about what Louis is training for, but no matter how many times Louis tries to go over it in his head it sounds just as daft as every other time.

Finally he just thinks fuck it, takes a sip of his drink and shrugs.

“It’s just a game, really, but it’’s kind of a big deal around here.”

“Just around here?” Harry asks. He’s chewing thoughtfully. A piece of hair has fallen out from his headscarf and Louis tucks it behind Harry’s ear before realizing what he’s doing. Harry’s cheeks go pink, and he stares down at the table, finishing his pint and then taking Louis’ and drinking from his glass next.

“I mean I’m sure it’s a big deal other places too,” Louis says. “Or not, maybe. It’s just - it’s a big deal for me I guess.” Harry’s leans back in his chair and looks up at Louis expectantly. “It’s a traveling team, they go all over the world and I’ve never really been anywhere.”

“You’ve not been anywhere else at all?” Harry asks.

Louis fiddles with the basket of chips and shrugs. “Nah. I lived at my mums and then I moved in with Ben right after that. That’s about it for me.” He looks up and forces a smile on his face, as large as he can muster. It feels wobbly around the edges, and he doesn’t think Harry’s buying it but he doesn’t call Louis out on it at least. “Not like you, I’m sure, the big fancy prince must get to travel all over the place.”

Harry’s cheeks color and he bites his lip awkwardly. “I mean, sometimes, sure, but it’s no big deal, really. It’s not as great as--”

Louis’ mobile buzzes and he shakes his head for Harry to give him a second while he answers it. He sees Ben’s name flash across the screen but he’s not expecting it when Ben barks at him as he answers, panic evident in his voice.

“Is Harry with you?”

Louis blinks. “Um, yes?”

Ben sighs, long and drawn out. He sounds relieved for a second, and then in the next breath as mad as anything.

“Where are you two?”

Louis feels his heart start to pound, his stomach twisting up in knots. “At the pub?”

“At the pub,” Ben mumbles. Louis hears him laugh, a dry chuckle that doesn’t sound like he thinks any of this is very funny at all. “Lou, do you just - do you have any idea how dangerous it is for you to be taking Harry out in the middle of the day without any backup?” Louis swallows hard as Ben keeps going. “I mean, it’s dangerous in general, but then to not even tell me where you’ve gone to? Have you lost your bloody mind?”

Louis stomach drops. He didn’t think is the thing, almost forgot that Harry’s not just with them for a little vacation and to spend some time away from home. Harry’s in hiding right now. He’d almost been kidnapped. Louis can’t believe he’d forgotten, that the idea of taking Harry out surpassed the absolute first rule of Ben’s job which is to make sure to protect whoever is under their care at all costs. Instead Louis paraded Harry around, fed him pints and chips in broad daylight for anyone to see.

Holy fuck, he’s a twat.

Louis talks to Ben quietly for another second, before disconnecting the call and shoving his mobile in his pocket. Now that Ben’s called Louis is suspicious of everyone. The people that he had thought were just normal men and women out for a late lunch all look like a threat now. His hands are shaky. He feels like he’s going to be sick, but more than that, he’s consumed with an all encompassing need to make sure Harry’s okay. His brain is playing it on a loop, his heart beating to the steady thrum of keep him safe, watch out for him, get him home and hide him away.

It takes less than a minute for Louis to dig some notes out of his pocket and toss them on the table before reaching out to grab Harry’s arm and yank him to his feet. Harry had been finishing off Louis’ pint and he flails his arm and trips as Louis pulls him up.

“Hey!” Harry protests.

Louis holds his fingers against his lips. “Ssh!”

Harry listens to him at least, mouth snapping shut as quickly as he’d opened it. Louis reaches out and curls his arm around Harry’s shoulders. He tries to pull Harry in closer to his body for protection - maybe use himself as a shield to keep Harry out of sight if anyone is looking for him - but it’s nearly impossible given that Harry’s got at least a few inches in height and shoulder width on him.

And it doesn’t help that Harry’s also just a little bit tipsy.


“Wait! Wait! Lou. Louuuuuu,” Harry says and giggles, burying his head against Louis’ shoulder. His breath is warm, and Louis shivers as it travels across his skin. “Pretty pretty Louis. Pretty Lou.”

“Leave it to you to be a lightweight and a cuddly drunk,” Louis mutters. It’s taken a few minutes, but he’s got them out to the car and starts buckling Harry in, pulling away when Harry makes grabby hands and tries to pull Louis into the car after him.

“Wait, where are we going?” Harry asks, bottom lip is stuck out in a pout. Louis presses his fingers against his eyes and takes a deep breath. Patience. All he needs is just a bit of patience.

“Home, Harold,” Louis says. “Now be quiet and relax for a bit, yeah?”

“Oh yay, home!” Harry says and beams. “I love home. Will you still hang out with me when we get there?”

And oh, god, it’s possible that Harry is trying to kill him.

“Yeah, Harry,” Louis says quietly as he closes the door. “I’ll hang out with you when we get there.”


Ben has thankfully already left by the time Louis gets him and Harry both back, which is good because Louis isn’t quite in the mood for a bollocking right now. Also, if Ben was cross that Louis took Harry out, he’d probably be really angry about the fact that Harry is this tipsy on just the few pints that Louis bought him. Not that Louis did it on purpose - given the sheer size of Harry he’d figured Harry would have a bit more tolerance with his drinks - but still.

Harry’s decided to plaster himself all along Louis’ side as they make their way into the house, pressing quiet giggles against Louis’ neck. Every step Louis takes causes Harry to trip over his own feet, and he laughs, his voice clear and bright. It’s a miracle Louis gets them both into the living room without falling over or taking out a side table or a lamp, and when he comes close enough he unceremoniously dumps Harry on the sofa, Harry’s arms and legs flailing in every different direction.

“Hey,” Harry says unhappily. The space between his eyebrows crinkles as he frowns. He reaches for Louis and makes grabby hands with his fingers. Louis is finding it very hard not to fall onto the sofa next to Harry and press his face into Harry’s neck, to breathe in the spicy scent of his cologne. “Hey, c’mere.”

“No,” Louis says. His hair is falling over his forehead, and Louis pushes it back and takes a deep breath. “You should sleep.”

“Sleep?” Harry giggles. “Lou, it’s like, half five. ‘M’not a toddler.”

Apparently taking Harry out for pints in the middle of the afternoon was a very bad idea on Louis’ part for so, so many reasons. This right here is a lot to deal with.

“I’m just…” Louis mumbles, eyes fixed on Harry’s face. Harry is staring at him hopefully, his eyes wide and mouth red and lips swollen from where he’s biting at them distractedly.

“Pretzels,” Louis blurts out.

Harry blinks. “What?”

“Pretzels. I’m going to…” Louis backs up and walks directly into a side table. The same exact one he was so happy about not knocking over five seconds ago. “To go get them. Some pretzels I mean.”

“All right,” Harry says slowly. Louis turns and hurries from the room, taking a moment to try and gather his thoughts once he’s in the kitchen, because he can’t be doing this. He can’t - he can’t stand around looking at Harry’s mouth and hands and lips and be thinking things about them. Harry’s living in Louis’ home, and Louis is meant to watch out for him, yes, but more than likely when Ben said that he didn’t mean by sticking your tongue in his mouth repeatedly until one or both of you come.

Not that Louis is thinking about coming, or making Harry come, except that - oh, all right. Well now he is. Lovely.

Louis bangs his head on the cabinet in front of him a few times, then yelps in surprise when Harry walks up behind and presses his body against Louis’ back. He cages Louis against the wall with his arms, and Louis can’t breathe for wanting him.

“Lou,” Harry says softly.

Louis closes his eyes and bangs his head a few more times. “Yes?”

“Lou, turn around.”

When he turns around it hits him how much he has to tilt his head back to look up into Harry’s face at this angle. Harry’s hands are on either side of Louis’ shoulders, and he’s quiet, staring down at Louis with a steady gaze. His lips are wet, tongue darting out to swipe along the bottom one, and Louis watches it happen without his brain even realizing that’s what he was doing until it was too late to stop it. From the way Harry looks at him when Louis’ raises his eyes he’s glad he didn’t stop it at all.

“Lou, I want to - can I--”

Harry slides his hand up the wall until it’s curled over Louis’ shoulder, the tips of his fingers brushing along Louis’ neck. Louis lets his head thunk back and groans. Harry’s fingers press harder against his skin when Louis’ lets his eyes flutter open, finding Harry staring right at his mouth.

“Harry, do you - I mean, is this something you do?”

Harry drops his head and takes a small step back. Louis reaches out and pulls Harry back in, his hand sliding down until it’s curled around Harry’s wrist, thumb pressing against the beat of his tripping pulse.

Harry shakes his head. “No. I mean, not no, I want to, I just. I never have?” He looks so young all of a sudden. Louis’ heart clenches deep in his chest. “With another lad I mean.”

Louis thinks it should make him nervous, the idea that Harry’s never done this before with a bloke, but instead of that it does the opposite. Louis feels honored, and excited, and amazed that he’ll get to be the first person Harry does any of this with. He gets to be the first boy Harry’s going to kiss, and hopefully the first boy that’s going to hold him and touch him and it’s just - it’s a lot. It’s humbling, almost. Louis can’t believe he’s gotten this lucky.

“I want to though,” Harry says, so quietly Louis barely hears him. Louis steps in closer, puts his hand on Harry’s waist and turns them so Harry’s the one with his back against the wall and Louis is taking the lead. “I want to kiss you so badly; it’s all I can think about.”

Louis smiles gently and touches Harry’s cheek, the line of his jaw, the full pout of his lower lip. Harry’s trembling under him and Louis wants to calm him, wants to make him feel relaxed, but he’s going almost going crazy himself, his insides all curling around each other trying to explode from the center of his chest because he’s just so happy. He wants to kiss Harry so much he feels like he’s gone mad.

“All right, quiet then,” Louis says. Harry’s eyes dart up. He opens his mouth to say something, but Louis won’t have it. He shakes his head sharply once, and leans in to cover Harry’s mouth with his own.

Harry whimpers the second Louis’ lips touch his. He goes still for a heartbeat, and then he’s surging forward, fingers sliding into Louis’s hair and kissing him deeply, their mouths slick and wet. Louis feels like everything inside him was poised and ready for this moment, and now that it’s happened it’s all exploded, all the secret parts of himself laid out for anyone to see. He makes a desperate noise in his throat when Harry slides their tongues together, biting on Harry’s lip and pinching his side when Harry starts rocking his hips against Louis in the middle of the kitchen.

“Wait, hang on, just let me--” Louis pulls away, laughing quietly as Harry tries to follow his mouth, peppering kisses along Louis’ cheek and jaw. Louis rolls his eyes playfully and steps back, taking Harry’s hand in his and tugging him toward Louis’ bedroom. “I’d rather not get caught by Ben having sex in the kitchen if it’s all right with you.”

Harry trips over his feet, falling into the doorway of Louis’ room with as much grace as a three-legged baby deer. “Um. No, that’s good. Leaving the kitchen I mean. And also sex. Sex is good.” He beams at Louis, already yanking the shirt from his jeans and pulling it over his head.

Louis has seen Harry’s body before - of course he has - but he’s never seen it this close, never seen it and been allowed to touch. Harry shivers every time Louis lays his hands against a different spot of ink; the pair of birds, a giant butterfly, two delicate laurels and the head of his cock curved up to rest between them as he shoves down his jeans. Louis pushes Harry back onto the bed, and Harry bounces around as he kicks his jeans the rest of the way off. His hand curves around his dick to stroke it idly as Louis strips off, leaving his clothes in a pile on the floor.

Louis crawls next to Harry and leans over him, kissing Harry’s mouth and bumping Harry’s hand out of the way with his own. Harry’s cock is smooth and warm in his palm, and he wanks him slowly, leaning back to watch Harry’s face every time Louis touches him.

Harry is so beautiful, is the thing. His skin is flushed, and his mouth is parted, breath coming quick and damp against Louis’ cheek. Louis can’t stop touching him. He wants Harry to remember all of this, wants every single thing Louis is doing to him to be the most perfect thing. He’s hard already himself, and he shuffles closer, curling one of his legs over Harry’s and rubbing against Harry’s hip as he works him over with his fingers.

“Fuck, Lou, this is so - you’re so--” Harry bites his lip and shudders, almost curling up when Louis rubs his thumb over the head of Harry’s cock. “Fuck, I’m gonna come so quick, this sucks.”

“It’s all right, love,” Louis says. He shifts up against Harry higher, working himself over quicker and quicker the closer Harry looks to losing it. “I’m close to.”

Harry looks at him and blinks, eyes wide and wrecked. “Yeah?”

“Yeah, just--” Louis leans down, drags his teeth over one of Harry’s nipples, and Harry goes still under him, moaning brokenly as he comes all over Louis’ fingers and fist. Louis slides his head up and kisses him, Harry’s hands getting rough in Louis’ hair, tilting his head to the side and licking relentlessly into his mouth.

“Please,” Harry begs. “Please, I want you to come, too. Come on, babe, let me feel you.”

Harry hooks his ankle over Louis’ calf and pulls him in, holding him there tighter until Louis has no where else to move, can’t stop when his orgasm rolls up steady, punching through him and leaving him shaking and breathless still curled over Harry’s hip and side.

Louis falls back after his breathing returns to normal, and fumbles around for the box of tissues he keeps on the side table. He passes a handful to Harry who takes them with a smile, then cleans himself off and tosses them onto the floor.

“Louis,” Harry chides. “That’s gross.”

Louis closes his eyes and throws his arm over Harry’s chest. Harry’s hands come up after a moment, one arm patting his and the other curling their fingers together. Harry presses his face to Louis’ shoulder, and Louis can feel it when his lips slide into a smile.

“Yeah, well,” Louis says and shrugs. “You want to get up and pick them up?”

Harry shakes his head. His hair is tickling Louis’ skin, and he brushes it back without opening his eyes. “Sleep now,” Harry mumbles, already sounding like he’s dropping off. “Clean later.”

Louis falls asleep to Harry’s quiet snoring beside him.


It’s the night before the game, and Louis has the rest of the lads over to eat pizza and play Fifa on the telly. Liam had asked if Louis wanted to go out for the night - drink enough pints that he doesn’t think about being nervous for the next day, but Louis had declined. He figures he should have all of his wits about him tomorrow, and doesn’t much fancy the idea of trying to play footie while nursing the edges of a hangover.

Plus, if they went out he wouldn’t feel comfortable bringing Harry, and, well, having Harry with him is one of the things that makes Louis the calmest these days. He’s certainly not going to give that up the night before he needs it most.

Everyone’s happy this way anyway, Liam and Niall pretending to argue with each other as they play the game, while Zayn taps away quietly on his mobile from the opposite sofa. Louis is perfectly content; curled in close to Harry, his back to Harry’s chest, their legs tangled together on the cushions.

Harry’s got his arm around him, and while he’s being perfectly inconspicuous to the rest of the lads, he keeps leaning in close to talk quietly in Louis’ ear, making him laugh with his jokes and shiver under the steady press of his fingers on Louis’ side. He’s slipped them under Louis’ shirt and chuckles quietly when Louis twitches as Harry scratches his nails up Louis’ flank.

“Oi, can you two keep it in your pants until we’re out of here?” Zayn says as he chucks at pillow at Louis’ head. Louis bats it away, and it lands on the floor, knocking into Niall’s hand and making him drop the game control.

Niall shouts, “Fuck!” just as Liam kicks the ball into the net on the screen, and then there’s all sorts of rolling around on the floor, Niall pretending to punch Liam in the head as Liam tries to shove him off.

Harry laughs delightedly behind him. “You lads are hilarious,” he says.

“Nothing but a bunch of twats,” Zayn adds. Louis nods and agrees.

“He’s right, Harry,” Louis says. He twists his head, so he’s looking back at Harry and presses a quick kiss to the bottom of his chin. “Everyone in this room - save for you, of course - is a twat of the highest order.”

Harry giggles again and pulls Louis into him tighter. “I think it’s wonderful. It’s just...”

Louis scoots around, moving so he can look at Harry and see his face when he talks. Harry’s cheeks are pink, his expression almost wistful, and he says, “I’ve never been around a group of friends like you. I’ve never had anyone like that.”

Louis heart curls up tight, then blooms into something bubbly and warm in his chest. He slides his hand around the curve of Harry’s neck and draws him in, pressing a soft kiss to his lips.

“Well you’ve got us now,” Louis says, smiling gently. “Sorry.”

“Nothing to apologize for,” Harry tells him. “I’ve never been happier.”

Louis can hear Liam and Niall groaning, and Zayn making some kind of dramatic choking noise.

“If you all don’t like it, you can leave the room,” Louis announces without looking away from Harry’s face. He distantly registers when they all stand up to go, but he’s not paying any of them much attention, too busy leaning forward and kissing Harry again.


It’s the middle of the night and Louis has left Harry snoring in his bed when he gets up to go to the bathroom and hears his mobile buzzing. He’d left it on the kitchen counter to charge and he hurries in, answering the call as quickly as possible so it doesn’t wake the rest of the house.

He’s barely got time to say hello when there’s a gruff voice on the other end of the line.

“Ben,” the voice says. Louis realizes instantly what he’s done: he can clearly see his own mobile on the back counter where Ben must have put it when it was finished charging and replaced it with his own. He opens his mouth to tell whoever it is that he’s not Ben, but then the voice says, “We’ve set up the details for the Styles operation tomorrow.”

Louis’ heart nearly stops.

“Be with the prince outside your place at half two, and we’ll do the exchange. There’s shouldn’t be any problems. You know who to call if there is, correct?”

Louis can’t speak. His pulse is racing, and his throat is dry. All he can think is that tomorrow they’re coming to get Harry. Tomorrow Harry’s going to be in trouble, and Louis can’t have that. He can’t let that happen.

“Winston, are you there?”

“Mmpf,” Louis grunts. He covers the speaker and mumbles, “Got it,” trying to sound as much like Ben as he can. It’s a tall order he knows. Ben’s voice is about a billion times deeper than Louis’, but whoever’s on the other end must not notice anything is off because he just grunts once more and rings off, leaving Louis listening to nothing but silence.

Louis disconnects the call and plugs Ben’s mobile back in, pushing it to the back of the counter gingerly. He stands in the dark of the kitchen, hand pressed over his mouth, staring blankly at the cabinets.

He has to do something. He’s got no idea what, but he’s got to make sure Harry’s okay, that nothing happens to him. It’s humbling, the way nothing else seems to matter to Louis at this very moment except Harry. He hadn’t even realized how much he’s come to care for Harry, but the idea of him being in trouble, of him not being around, makes it achingly, crystal clear.

Louis goes to the bathroom and then climbs back into bed, gathering Harry in his arms and holding him close. Harry snuffles quietly in his sleep. His mouth is lax, and his hair’s a tangled mess on Louis’ pillows. He’s snoring quietly, and he looks so young in sleep, so much like someone Louis has to take care of.

Louis’ throat aches. He touches his mouth to Harry’s cheek, kissing him softly. “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you.”


Louis wakes in the morning, and Harry’s already gone. He panics for a second, because he’d thought they’d said half two on the mobile last night and it’s barely ten am, but then he hears the shower turning off and Harry banging around in the bathroom.

Louis gets up and shoves his glasses on his face. He wanders to the kitchen where Ben’s sat at the table drinking a cup of tea and scrolling through his mobile. Ben looks up when he walks in, and Louis wonders if Ben knows Louis answered his call last night, if there were any signs that Louis has intercepted the plan. Ben just grins widely though, nodding at the pot on the hob for Louis to make himself a cup.

“Morning, Lou.”

Louis nods. “‘Morning.”

“You all ready for the game?”

Louis’ stomach drops. He focuses on getting his tea ready - first the cup, then the milk, then the spoon - and not making eye contact with Ben in case he can see exactly what Louis is planning.

“Yep,” Louis says evenly.

Ben stands up, his chair scraping along the floor, and then he pats Louis on the back. “Good lad. You’re going to do great.”

Louis swallows thickly. He doesn’t want to ask too many questions, but he’s got to know everyone’s plans, he has to figure out how to time this so it works out perfectly.

“Are you coming then?” Louis asks. He looks up at Ben and keeps his gaze level. His heart is hammering so fast against his chest he’s amazed Ben can’t hear it.

“I’ll be there,” Ben says. He puts the milk back in the fridge and adds, “I’ll be a bit late, but I’ll be there before the end for sure.”

Louis nods and finishes his coffee. He can hear Harry moving around in his room, and he wants to get up there before Harry makes his way down and runs into Ben. Louis isn’t sure what plans Ben has for Harry exactly, but he’s hoping to delay them as much as possible.

“Great, thanks,” Louis says, smiling easily. Ben pats him on the shoulder again and wanders off into the living room, and Louis lets out a shaky breath, finishes his coffee and heads upstairs.


Harry’s already dressed in a pressed white shirt and a pair of tan trousers when Louis finds him, his hair pushed back from his head in long, soft waves. He’s stood at the dresser fiddling with his mobile, and turns when Louis walks in and knocks lightly on the door, face splitting into a wide grin.

“Hi,” Harry breathes. Louis’ chest goes tight. Christ, he loves him.


“You ready for the game today?” Harry asks.

Louis shakes his head. If Harry only knew.

“‘Guess so,” he says instead and shrugs. Harry takes it to mean that Louis isn’t sure he can do it, that he’s not sure he’s good enough, and he comes over, takes Louis’ hands in his and pulls Louis close.

He tilts his head down, tucking some of Louis’ hair behind his ear, and runs his fingers over Louis’ forehead and cheek, down his jaw and over his bottom lip. Louis’ heart pounds, his hands go clammy, and when Harry leans down and kisses him Louis just lets himself fall into it. He wants to remember this, he wants every single thing Harry wants to give him.

When Harry pulls away his cheeks are flushed, and his eyes are dark and wide. “What was that for?” Louis teases.

Harry grins. “For luck, even though you’re not going to need it.” Louis rolls his eyes at that, and Harry takes both of Louis’ hands in his and squeezes tightly. “No, really, you’re going to be great. I know you want this so much, and you deserve everything you want. You’re just…” Harry trails off and smiles, then laughs happily. “You’re amazing, Lou. You’re so amazing. I think you’re wonderful.”

“Nah,” Louis says, leaning up on his toes to kiss Harry again. “You are.”


Louis gets ready, fully dressed in his kit with his bag of extra cleats and water bottles and face towels. The rest of the lads have all passed by to wish Louis luck, Liam asking Louis if he wanted a ride to the game, but Louis declined, saying he wanted to have some time to himself before the game started.

He says goodbye to Ben and Harry, hugging Harry tightly and kissing him on the cheek before climbing into his car and driving to the end of the road, pulling under the shade of a copse of trees. It doesn’t take long for him to spot Ben’s car pulling out from the drive, Harry sitting next to him in the front seat as they head down the opposite direction. Louis isn’t sure where Ben’s taking Harry this morning, but he damn well knows that he’s going to make sure the only one at the house at half two is himself.

He waits another few minutes before pulling back out and heading to the house, parking his car around back and sneaking in the side door. The house is quiet, and Louis moves quickly, stashing his bag in the closet and stripping off as soon as he gets to his room.

His mobile buzzes and he sees a text from Liam - where r u??? but Louis deletes it and doesn’t think about the game or the scouts or his future. He doesn’t think about how long he’s been waiting for this, or how many hours he’s practiced for it, or what it means that he’s missing it. That he’s basically tossing aside everything he’s ever worked for for himself for someone else.

All he can think about is Harry. Louis will find another team, there will be more games, more scouts, other chances to do that, but this is his only chance to save Harry, and he’s not going to mess it up.

He rummages through Harry’s closet, pulling out the first white shirt and pair of trousers he can find. He’s lucky that Harry wears his formal clothes a little loose, because the trousers just barely fit over Louis’ arse, and the shirt has to be cuffed up at the sleeves. Still though, it’s passable. Louis lets his hair down from the headband he’d put on for the game and tucks the front and sides under one of Harry’s ridiculous fedoras.

When he gets to the mirror he can barely look at himself, he looks so ridiculous, but there’s already a car pulling into the drive, the front door banging open and the same unfamiliar voice from last night on the phone calling out for Ben from the first floor of the house.

Louis drops his head, stuffs his feet into a pair of Harry’s boots and goes to the top of the steps, hoping like hell that this is going to work.


It doesn’t work.

Not only does it not work, it doesn’t work so spectacularly it’s almost entertaining by the time everything is said and done.

Because apparently when Louis answered Ben’s call he didn’t take into consideration that Ben would call Paul - (that’s the bloke from the phone with the gravelly voice, it turns out. He’s called Paul, and he looks about as happy with the situation as anyone could imagine, which is to say, not very.) - to find out the details of the plan himself when he didn’t get Paul’s call the night before.

Also, it seems that the plan wasn’t to actually give Harry away to any kind of kidnappers - another fact that would have been clear if Louis had put any thought whatsoever into the situation at hand - but merely to use him as bait to draw out the kidnappers and capture them so they would leave Harry alone.

The good news is that the plan worked. When Ben realized the call had been intercepted he’d rung Paul and they’d changed the meeting place. As of the past hour whoever it was that was after Harry was now officially captured and off the streets, making Harry’s life a bit easier and not as dangerous as it had been even a day ago.

Louis’ life, on the other hand…

“I just can’t believe you,” Ben is saying for what seems like the millionth time in the past ten minutes. Louis is sat at the kitchen table still in Harry’s clothes though he’d ditched the hat as soon as he realized his plan was unnecessary. He does have his limits after all.

Ben’s eyes are wide and he’s shaking his head, hands planted firmly on his hips. “What the hell were you thinking?”

Louis shrugs and fiddles with the edge of a placemat on the table. “I don’t know, I just--” He sighs and blows out a breath. Harry is stood on the other side of the kitchen, arms folded over his chest and a thoughtful expression on his face. He’s not said anything to Louis since they got back and found out what Louis had done. Louis doesn’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

“I just thought I could help,” Louis says quietly. He lifts one shoulder and rubs his cheek. “I thought I could pretend to be Harry and, I don’t know, that it would keep Harry safe.”

“Well it was stupid,” Ben spits out. He starts ticking things off on his fingers. “It was reckless and stupid and dangerous and bloody dumb. Jesus, Lou, do you have any idea what--”

“You missed your game,” Harry says softly. Ben stops talking and Louis looks up and over at Harry, watching him hopefully. “I don’t understand,” Harry says again. “You’ve been practicing for so long. This game was so important to you, and you missed it.”

“Yeah, well,” Louis says roughly. His throat’s gone tight, the words tripping over themselves as he tries to get them out. “Turns out there are some things that are more important.”

Harry blinks at him, and even from across the room Louis can see that his eyes are wet. Harry presses a knuckle to the corner of his eye and shakes his head. When he looks up again at Louis he’s smiling.

“I love you, you know,” Harry says, so, so softly.

Louis can feel his lips curve into a smile. His vision goes blurry as his eyes squint up and he doesn’t care one bit, it doesn’t matter at all because he can’t help it, even if he tried. He’s just so damn happy.

“Yeah, babe,” Louis says. “Me too.”


Ben leaves them alone, going off with Paul to talk about the operation or have some pints or who even knows. Louis doesn’t ask and he doesn’t much care. After he’d stripped out of Harry’s clothes and jumped in for a quick shower he finds Harry waiting for him in his room, lying back on the bed with his head pressed into Louis’ pillows, completely naked.

His legs are spread wide, cock already going hard as he wanks lazily. When Louis walks in Harry smiles and pushes back, propping himself up on his elbows.

“Hiya,” Harry says, and Louis giggles.


“C’mere.” Harry’s voice is rough and broken. Louis doesn’t need the reminder. He’s already climbed up on the bed and is settling himself between Harry’s legs, his hair still wet and cool when it trails over Harry’s skin. He didn’t get dressed after his shower - had barely bothered to dry himself off - so his skin is soft and damp when he braces himself over Harry’s hips.

Harry’s smiling down at him, and he touches Louis’ face, pushes the hair back from his eyes and shifts his hips up.

“I want to try something,” Louis says quietly. He fumbles around under the covers for the lube he’d stashed there before his shower, and when he finds it and pulls it out Harry’s eyes go wide, his breath coming in ragged pants.

“God, please,” Harry says. He props his feet on the bed and lets his legs fall open.

Louis almost loses it and comes right there on the spot.

“You’ve got to tell me if you want me to stop,” Louis says. He’s dribbled some lube over his fingers and is rubbing them together to warm them up. “I’ll go slow but if you don’t like it or don’t want to or--”

“Oh my god, Lou, please.” Harry’s voice breaks over Louis’ name, and he shifts his body down, angling so Louis’ fingers are already pressed lightly against his hole.

Well all right then.

Louis presses lightly, the tip of just one finger sliding into Harry as gently as he can manage. Harry shakes, his fingers twisting up the sheets in his hands and Louis has barely done anything, just has one finger crooked inside Harry’s body and it’s already hotter than the hottest thing he’s ever seen or done in his life.

“Move a little,” Louis says, patting Harry’s hip. Harry shimmies down, and Louis pulls one of Harry’s legs over his shoulder. He licks over the crease of his thigh, biting down and sucking on the thin skin, Harry rocking his hips down to take more of Louis’ finger. Louis pulls out and slides back in with two and then he ducks his head, traces his tongue over Harry next to where his fingers are, and Harry nearly flies off the bed.

“Louis - what the fuck - oh, oh--”

“You all right?” Louis asks. He kisses the back of Harry’s thigh, bites at his skin. “I can stop if you--”

“No, don’t - Don’t you dare stop.” Harry reached down and threads his fingers into Louis’ hair. He’s moving against Louis’ mouth shamelessly now, legs splayed open and cock hard against his belly. He shoves Louis where he wants him, holds Louis tight as Louis licks him out, fucks him on two and then three fingers and his tongue until Harry is a quivering mess, his skin tacky with sweat.

Louis can’t stop, he’s nearly crazy with making Harry feel this good. The idea that Harry wants him, that Harry loves him, has Louis harder than anything Harry could possibly do to his body. That Harry is letting Louis take what he wants from him like this is the most amazing thing ever.

“Oh fuck, I’m going to come,” Harry whines. His one hand slaps at the bed, the other digging into Louis’ hair and holding him against his hole. Louis fucks into him relentlessly with his tongue. “Fuck, you’re so good, your tongue, Louis, you’re licking me out so good, oh fuck.”

When Harry comes it’s with a shout, his fingers going even tighter, thighs tight against Louis’ head. Louis feels the way Harry’s orgasm is racking his body, his breathing loud and desperate, and when he yanks Louis up he kisses him hungrily, almost crazily, holding Louis’ face in his huge hands and moaning deep into his mouth.

“Oh my god,” Harry pants. “Did you come? I want you to come. Please, let me--”

He reaches down and takes Louis’ cock in his hand and starts wanking him tightly. Louis has barely paid any attention to himself while he was eating Harry out, but now he’s so hard he’s aching, his dick and balls and everything coiled so tight he can’t believe he hasn’t nut all over the place yet.

“I want to fuck you,” Harry says, deep in Louis’ ear. Louis closes his eyes, drops his head on Harry’s shoulder and mouths at his skin. “I want to lick you out one night and then fuck into you so slow you won’t be able to control yourself. Will you let me do that, Lou? Can I have you like that?”

“Yeah,” Louis says, squeezing his eyes shut as Harry reaches down to play with his balls. “Yeah, please.”

“And then I want you to fuck me after. Eat me out like you just did and then fuck into me hard and fast, really make me take it.” Louis shakes, his body quivering as his orgasm lights through him, racing over his skin and hitting him like a punch to the chest. “That’s it,” Harry murmurs as Louis starts to come, his dick pulsing hot and heavy in Harry’s hand. “I love you. Fuck, Lou, I really fucking love you.”

Harry’s voice breaks at the end and Louis pulls out of his grip to pull Harry closer, wrap his arms around Harry’s back and hug him tight. “Fuck,” Harry mumbles. His voice is broken and rough. “I can’t believe it’s over. I can’t - I’ve been so fucking scared and I didn’t know what to do and I just. I love you. Oh god.”

Harry’s shaking and it hits Louis when he realizes how much this has been for him - for both of them, really. Louis never expected anything like this to happen, never thought when Ben showed up one day with a prince that they had to protect that they’d get here. That Harry would be scared and then they’d be friends and then more. Louis didn’t expect that he’d fall in love with Harry, but he has and fuck, it’s amazing. It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to him, really.

“Love you too,” Louis says, pressing a kiss to Harry’s hair. Harry pulls the covers over them, cuddles in close and doesn’t pick his face up from Louis’ chest. It takes him a long time to stop shaking. Louis can feel the tickle of his eyelashes - damp when they brush against his skin - and the warm touch of his lips and that’s about it. They’re both gross; sweaty and no one’s cleaned up where either of them have come, but it’s perfect, actually.

He closes his eyes and goes to sleep.


-Six months later-

“All right, so you’re actually ready to leave this time, yeah?” Liam asks. “You’re not going to send us all off and then never show up because you want to run around in Harry’s clothes again all day?”

Louis smacks Liam on the side of the head and twists his ear. “Twat.”

Liam bats his hands away and dances out of his reach, and Louis pretends to chase him for a second before giving up and leaning back into the circle of Harry’s arms. They’re all in the living room seeing Louis off for his game today. It’s not as big as the last one was - not nearly as many scouts - but Louis is fine with that. He’ll go and he’ll play, and if something happens then that’s great, and if not, he’ll deal with it. He’s possibly realized it’s up to him to make his own happiness and not sit around waiting for someone to offer everything up to him on a silver platter. That even if he’s home, good things can still happen.

He turns around and looks up into Harry’s face, smiling at him brightly.

“What?” Harry says. He’s beaming at Louis - smile wide and eyes bright and happy. He’s still wearing a stupid fedora but he’s at least in a plain black tee and a pair of jeans for Louis’ game. Harry’s a prince but he doesn’t need to look quite so stuffy all the time. “What’s the smile for?”

“Just happy,” Louis says. He lifts one shoulder in a shrug and rocks up on his toes to kiss Harry squarely on the mouth. “Really, really happy.”

“God. Gross,” Zayn mumbles from his spot on the sofa. He stands up and tosses a pillow at Niall’s face to get his attention. “I realized when Harry moved here it was going to be bad, but I didn't think it was going to be this bad. Zap, I didn’t just have to watch the two of you try and eat each others faces off again.”

“Zap, my best mate isn’t a total knobface,” Louis says.

Liam frowns. “Hey. I thought I was your best mate.”

Zayn walks up behind him and pats him gently on the back. “You are, Liam. Sorry.”

“Wait - I don’t--”

“All right, everyone,” Ben says, gathering the lads together and guiding them towards the front door. “Let’s head to the game, and we’ll meet Louis and Harry there. Right, Louis?”

“Yes! God!” Louis throws his hands in the air and huffs. “Skip a life changing game and dress up like a prince one time, and no one lets you forget it!”

Everyone laughs as they leave and then it’s just him and Harry, standing together in the living room. Harry curls his arm around Louis’ waist and pulls him in, kisses him slowly, his tongue licking into Louis’ mouth and making him crazy.

Louis giggles and pushes Harry away with a hand to the center of his chest. “Harold.”

Harry pouts. “What?”

“I have to leave soon. I can’t just--”

“It’ll be fine,” Harry says. He pulls Louis in closer again and kisses his cheek, the curve of his jaw, the corner of his mouth. “If you’re late I’ll take care of it.”

“Oh really,” Louis drones. He closes his eyes though and lets Harry kiss him. He might be trying to make a point but he’s not an idiot. “And how’s that.”

“I’ll arrest them. Or banish them. Or. I don’t know. I’ll do something.” Harry pulls back and beams at Louis. His cheeks are pink and his lips are wet and puffy from kissing. “I’m a prince, remember?”

Louis sighs. “We’ve discussed this already, Harry. No using your princely powers just to get me stuff, all right?”

Harry pouts. He’s biting his bottom lip and there’s a crinkle between his eyebrows. “But what if I want to get you stuff and do stuff for you just because I love you?”

Louis pretends to think about it. He rubs his chin and scratches his head and when Harry goes to grab him he ducks out of the way, pulling away from Harry’s grip. “Hmm. I’ll think about it.”

“You’ll think about it?” Harry laughs and chases Louis around the room. Louis makes it about five seconds before he lets himself be caught. “Lou,” he warns.

“All right, I suppose I’ll let you buy me things just because I’m wonderful,” Louis says, trying to sound put upon.

Harry’s beaming at him though, his smile so wide it looks like his face must hurt.

“You suppose.”

“I mean, if it makes you happy.”

“You make me happy,” Harry says. His voice has gone quieter, face a little more serious. He leans down and kisses Louis slowly, threading his fingers through Louis’ hair and kissing Louis until he’s limp and breathless.

“You make me pretty happy too,” Louis says quietly.

Harry smiles at him again, then kisses him once on the nose and slides their fingers together before tugging Louis towards the door.

“Come on, then,” Harry says. “You’ve got a game to win and can’t be late.”

Louis stops to grab his bag from the floor and trips along, following after Harry. His stomach flutters a little - for as much as he’s been playing it off, he is kind of nervous about the game today - but Harry must sense something because he stops before he opens the door, kissing Louis again swiftly.

“You’re amazing, Lou. You’re going to be great.”

We’re going to be great,” Louis says, and even if it doesn’t make sense at this exact moment in time, it’s still the truth.

Harry smiles like Louis has given him the stars and the moon and everything in between. Louis recognizes the look because it’s the same one he sees in the mirror every single day since the day Harry walked into his life.

“Yeah, we are,” Harry says happily. “Now let’s go.”