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Gentle Rogue

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Harry had expected to be caught- that was part of the plan, after all- but the brawny arms that enfold him from behind are a pleasant surprise. Harry’s always appreciated a nice set of biceps.  

“Ouch,” he says, weakly. “Release me.” The man’s grip is rather tight, but he’s not hurting Harry and Harry isn’t actually in any hurry to be released. In fact, he’s eager to be rounded up and brought before the captain.

“Oh hush up,” the man replies, voice smooth in Harry’s ear. Harry relaxes and allows himself to be guided him forward without a struggle. The hard press of the body behind him feels wonderfully warm in contrast to the cool damp air of the cargo hold.

He’s led up the same creaky, wooden flight of stairs he’d darted down earlier this morning, before the ship left the harbor. When blinding sunlight hits Harry’s face, he picks up his act again. Resisting is key, if he wants to leave the vessel successful.

“You’re hurting me,” he shouts, pulling loose from the hands clutching at his waist. “Let go of me at once!”

His attempt to free himself must catch the other man off guard because Harry finds himself released. He tries to break into a run, but the heels of boots are a smidge too high and snag on an uneven slat of wood, sending him tumbling face first onto the deck.

Before he can catch his breath, he’s lifted up and over the shoulder of his captor. He flails and kicks, gently though, trying make a point of the other man’s savagery without actually hurting either of them. Harry’s no barbarian.

The man smacks his arse. It feels quite good.

Still, Harry must put up a front of resistance. Nick had said he mustn’t appear eager. And, really, it’s not polite to touch another man’s bum without asking first, so Harry cries, “Rude!”

His eyes have adjusted to the light and he sees another man approaching them. This man’s short, shorter than Harry, anyway, and beautiful. Stylish, too, Harry notes with approval. The shirt he’s wearing is sleeveless and open to the waist, revealing a triangle of caramel skin neck to navel. His breaches are tight, emphasizing his thighs, thick and muscular, and his cock. His cock. Harry rests his gaze there for a long moment, attempting to determine whether or not the man’s using a codpiece. He’s appears extremely well endowed, more so than most men, though no larger than Harry himself. Harry decides further investigation will be necessary.

He flicks his gaze upwards to the man’s face, meeting his eyes, as blue-grey as the sea behind him. His hair has been pulled into a knot at the back of his head and a black band is keeping flyaway fringe off his forehead.  

The man raises an arm to wave a greeting and that’s when Harry sees it: the legendary stickman tattoo. This handsome chap is none other than the heartless, murderous, pillaging and plundering Captain Tommo, exactly the person Harry’s come to find.

The miniature Nick had shown him was clearly out of date. In it, the captain had been in the uniform of Royal Navy, pressed and polished. He’d been fresh-faced, with his hair much shorter and elegantly styled. Harry finds this older, more rugged version equally appealing.

Yes, Harry wants this man to fuck him.

Remembering the plan, he says, “I demand to be released. I’m not an animal.”

The man holding him smacks his arse a second time. The sting of it only encourages Harry. Closing his eyes and scrunching his face up to express his intense and terrible agony, he calls out, “This lecherous man is touching me inappropriately. I am a gentleman. With honor and dignity. I will not stand for this.”

Captain Tommo stops a few feet in front of them. Harry cranes his neck for a better look. The man’s stubble is bronze and shiny, almost soft looking. Harry would like to touch it.

“Put him down, Alberto,” Tommo instructs. He sounds irritable and Harry’s stomach clenches. He needs to make a good impression, to appear available and enticing.

The man holding Harry, Alberto, dumps him onto the ground and he lands in an ungainly heap, arms and legs akimbo. He stands quickly and straightens his clothing, making certain the pattern on his paisley shirt is situated correctly and shaking out the ruffles on his sleeves and collar. His pants are tight enough that they’ve barely moved throughout the ordeal, though the shuffling has left his crotch area a tad uncomfortable. He shifts from side to side to adjust, subtly.

“Are you quite finished?” Tommo asks. His voice is light, softer and higher than Harry had imagined, but it still commands Harry’s attention and his eyes snap up to Tommo’s face. Swallowing, Harry nods. Tommo’s gaze is intense, interested, measuring. Perfect. Harry wets his lips and fluffs his hair. Tommo’s eyes track the movement and he asks, “Why have you snuck abroad? Running away from a loveless marriage to a blushing bride who is, at this moment, awaiting you at the altar?”

Harry relaxes. Tommo doesn’t recognize him, then. Excellent. He hadn’t really expected him to; they’ve never formally met. But they do run in overlapping circles and recognition was a risk.

“Well?” Tommo prompts. “What the hell are you doing aboard my ship?”

Harry chews his lips and tries to formulate an appropriate answer.

“Lovely as you are, I can’t spend the day staring at you,” Tommo says, lips thinning.

Tommo already thinks Harry’s ‘lovely.’ Harry’s practically won his bet with Nick and they’ve only just met.  

“Come out with it,” Tommo’s almost shouting now, a little red in face. Harry wonders if his face will flush the same color when he loses himself, thrusting deep into Harry.

Flustered, Harry lets slip, “I’m here to wreck you.” Because he’s apparently incapable of lying. Bloody hell. Nick had predicted this, certain Harry would not be smooth enough to charm the captain. Harry hates when Nick is right.

Tommo crosses his arms over his chest and lifts one eyebrow. “I’d like to see you try.”

Harry grins, “Then, you’re in luck. I’m about to plunder your booty.” It’s too far, too fast, probably, even for a man with a reputation such as Tommo’s, but Harry’s never been a patient flirt.

Tommo licks his lips and smirks, “Is that so? I quite think it’s going to happen the other way ‘round.” He punctuates the statement by letting his eyes slide down Harry’s body, slowly and heavy with intention.

Well, then. “Oh,” Harry drawls, a little breathless. “Are you going to show me how you bury your treasure?”

Behind him, Alberto chokes.

Tommo reaches out toward Harry. Harry’s breath catches and his heartbeat picks up, unsure if he’s about to be groped or smacked.  The captain tugs at his collar, fretting a bit. He’s straightening it, Harry realizes and lets out the indrawn breath.

“Much better.” Tommo scrubs at his chin. “Alright. So you’re not going to tell me why you’ve stowed away. Fine, but unless you’d like to be thrown overboard, you’ll need to work. What are your skills, lad?”

His casual ‘lad’ is an insult. Harry’s noble status should be evident in his clothing and carriage and speech. A little chafed by Tommo’s clear distaste, he’s tempted to insist that the captian use his proper address, maybe even his full title. But he’s never been one for formalities, especially not between lovers - and the captain will be his lover, come hell or highwater- so he says, “Kindly, call me Harry, if you would.”

He peeks up at Tommo’s face, wanting to gauge his reaction to Harry’s request. The captain is smiling, amused and, perhaps, fond. It’s curious, considering Nick’s assessment of the man to be humorless wretch. Tommo says, “Alright. What are your skills, then, Harry?”

Harry meets Tommo’s gaze and then, licking his lips, slow and deliberate, looks pointedly at Tommo’s crotch. Harry doesn’t say a word. He doesn’t have to. He’s certain the captain catches his meaning. Nick had said he was a clever (‘sharp-witted and sharp-tongued’) one.

Tommo rubs his hands against his thighs and lets out a brittle laugh. His discomfort is cheering. He’s clearly affected by Harry’s proposition.

“Ah. Well, you’ll need to pay your way by providing services to the entire crew,” Tommo says, and this time it’s not Alberto, but Harry who chokes. As much as Harry does hope to be ‘providing services,’ he had assumed that the arrangement could be kept between himself and captain.

“I’d rather…” Harry begins, but he trails off because it would uncouth to speak his true desires aloud while illuminated by the bright noon sunlight in front God and, also, Alberto.

Tommo smirks, again. It makes Harry’s skin itch. The expression irritates Harry, but it’s also got him imagining Louis making the same face as he shoves Harry to his knees.

“So, Harry, what skills would you like to share with the whole crew, then?”

“I can juggle.” It’s the first thing that pops into Harry’s head and he immediately wishes he hadn’t named it because Tommo holds out a hand, palm up, and rolls his fingers around an imaginary ball. Harry shifts his weight, wincing. He hadn’t thought his breeches could feel any tighter; he was wrong.

He’s simply not accustomed to being this aroused in public. Captain Tommo is turning out to be a uniquely appealing man.

“Juggle, Harry?” Tommo asks.

“I mean, I’m a very good entertainer,” Harry amends. Tommo’s eyebrows shift up in disbelief and Alberto clears his throat.

“An entertainer?” Tommo repeats. “You want to entertain the entirety of my crew, then?”

Harry hadn’t meant that. He’d been trying to steer away from that. So, becoming a little exasperated, he tries again, “I’m accomplished at organizing teas, balls, and holiday galas.” He pauses and then decides to add, “I also sing quite well.”

“Oh, lovely,” Tommo smiles, all teeth. “Do you also arrange furniture, procure expensive pieces of art, put together gourmet dinner menus, and have an eye for fancy overcoats?”

Harry blinks. Maybe the captain recognizes him after all, as he’s just listed four of Harry’s most highly lauded talents. “I do,” he admits.

“I thought as much,”Tommo sighs and shakes his head. “You’re useless.”

Harry chews his lip, “I think you’ll find me quite useful… sir.” As soon as he says it, he knows his use of the title was incorrect. Tommo is a ‘Captian.’ He looks down and examines his now shamefully scuffed shoes.  

The captain steps closer, takes Harry’s jaw between his thumb and forefinger, and tips Harry’s face up so that Harry’s forced to meet his eyes. “Call me Louis.”

Harry swallows, feeling as though his body is a magnet, pulled helplessly toward Louis.

“Louis,” Harry breathes. Louis. The French pronunciation, trés chic.

“Alberto,” Louis looks past Harry. “Take this fop to my cabin. I’ll deal with him, later.”

“You’ll deal with me, eh?” Harry repeats, hopefully, as Louis begins to turn away. He doesn’t respond so Harry promises him, loudly, “I’m going to be a wretched pain in your backside, Louis. I’m going to ruin you.”

Louis turns, but doesn’t stop moving away. Harry’s painfully jealous of his ability to walk backwards. So graceful. So useful in ballroom dancing. He bets Louis never steps on anyone’s toes.

“We’ve been through this,” Louis tells him, the corner of his mouth lifting. “It’s your backside that’s going to ache, Harry.”

Harry hopes so. That’s what he’s here for, after all, to get fucked by Captain Tommo. It’ll win him one hundred pounds and Nick’s dignity.

“Oh, and Alberto,” Louis calls out, now several yards away.  “Make sure you tie him up. Tightly.”

~

Alberto removes his hand from Harry’s upper arm once they’re inside Louis’ cabin, releasing him a little more violently than is necessary.  He says, “Don’t touch anything. It may look like a mess, but the captain knows exactly where everything is.”

Harry glances around the room. It’s a tip, a truly disgraceful display of human subsistence, with piles of paper strewn about, dirty dishes stacked here and there, and, to Harry’s absolute horror, clothing, nice clothing, expensive clothing, left in wrinkled heaps.

Next to the desk, underneath a pile of rope, Harry catches sight of the most lovely silk scarf he’s ever seen. The poor, neglected scrap of fabric deserves a much better fate. It belongs in Harry’s hair. He and his curls will take excellent care of it. However, as soon Harry reaches to grab it, Alberto is behind him, pinning his arms to his back.

“The captain doesn’t usually have freeloaders tied up. You must look particularly untrustworthy.”

While Harry’s not exactly displeased with his treatment so far- he likes his foreplay a little rough- he also doesn’t like when people think poorly of him. He’s so trustworthy, the most trustworthy person he knows, in fact.

He turns to Alberto, widening his eyes and dropping his mouth open in what he hopes is an adequate expression of indignation, and says, “I am very trustworthy. Ask anyone.”

Alberto’s arm snakes past him and grabs the rope. “Too bad,” Alberto says. “Captain Tommo doesn’t trust you and so neither do I.”

While Alberto is distracted with unwinding the rope from its coil, Harry picks up the silk scarf from the floor and ties it around his head. He thinks it will compliment Louis black band quite nicely. They’ll match. Alberto looks up, eyes Harry’s newly acquired headpiece, and says nothing.

The scarf isn’t sitting quite right. It’s not doing much to restrain the curls at his temple and they itch against his ear. But before Harry can move to adjust the thing, Alberto’s grabbed both his wrists and pinned them behind his back. Harry feels the rope pull tight against his skin, coarse and abrasive, marking his wrists.

Harry likes the thought of the captain finding him here like this and he’s glad Louis’d thought of it. Harry’d like it even more (and so would Louis, he’s sure) if he were bound and naked. He says to Alberto, “Maybe you could undress me before you go?”

Alberto turns Harry around in his arms and regards him, stonefaced. Harry thinks he looks vauguely puzzled by Harry’s request, perhaps by Harry’s behavior more generally. Harry understands; he’s a very complex person. Finally, Alberto says, “No.”

Harry pouts. His lips are perfect for pouting, he knows, just the right size and shape. Unfortunately, he hadn’t thought to put any stain on them before heading out this morning. It was a terrible oversight and the realization of it only further serves to darken his mood (and enhance the pathetic pursing of his not nearly red enough lips).

Alberto smiles, then, as if pleased at the sight of Harry’s unhappiness. As he strides out of the room, he calls, “Stay put, now.”

Still indignant over Alberto’s amusement, Harry shouts, “That’d be more likely if you’d stripped me down, mate!”

~

Harry jerks awake at the sound of the cabin door creaking open. He’s been sitting at Louis’ desk all afternoon and evening. At one point, he’d tried to throw himself up into the hammock where Louis must sleep, but he’d hadn’t been successful, falling hard on his hip, the motion jostling loose the silk in his hair. The latter outcome was unacceptable and he hadn’t even been tempted to make a second go of it.

Instead, until the light faded, he’d nosed, literally nosed, through Louis’ papers. Most of the captain’s desk was covered in unsent letters to his mother and sisters. His tone in them was light and playful, but deeply affectionate. The exercise might have made Harry miss his own mother, just a bit.

It had been a long twelve hours since they’d breakfasted together.

Speaking of which, Harry is eager for something to eat. He would be quite cross about missing his last two meals, but he hopes that Louis will leave his hands tied and feed him with his fingers. That would more than make up for the terrible ache in Harry’s belly.

“Hello, Harry,” Louis greets him, kneeling to remove his boots. “Any more thoughts on how you might be useful to my crew?”

Harry says, “No, I do my best deliberating naked, though, so you should probably remove all my clothes, post haste.”

It’s too much, too fast, again. Nick had been quite confident that his own forthrightness had put Louis off, so Harry had planned on taking a more subtle approach, giving chase. Unfortunately, he’s neither practiced nor gifted at self-restraint.

Louis moves across the room to stand beside him, his strides purposeful, powerful. From close up, even though cabin is dark, almost black, Harry can see that Louis’ lips are thin and his brows are drawn. Harry thinks he must have had a very long and very strenuous day. If he were naked, Harry is certain he would be able to ease all that stress away.

Louis fingers one of Harry’s curls and the overly familiar gesture makes Harry’s belly clench.

“Why would I strip you? You’ll be of no use to the crew, naked. Unless-“ he smirks-“You’ve reevaluated.”

They’re close enough now that Harry can smell Louis, a mix of sweat and sandalwood. He must use a fragrant shaving soap to smell so pungently after a day of work. Not that Harry believes that Louis, the commander of this fine vessel, actually does any heavy labor. Likely, he spends his days ordering people about, a talent Harry fully intends to take advantage of very, very soon.

“I’ll take your silence as a ‘no.’ In which case, you can remain clothed and help the cook with the washing up after supper,” Louis says.

“I refuse. I’m of noble blood and I will not lift a finger,” Harry tells him. It’s an exaggeration. While Harry doesn’t usually clean anything, he’s not opposed to the idea in theory. He’s simply opposed to wasting any more of his time away from Louis.

He came aboard this ship with a purpose and he’s never been one to stray from the singleminded (obsessive) pursuit of his goals.

“You refuse?” Louis sounds incredulous. He should be. He’s never met anyone like Harry before, of that Harry is absolutely certain. “I’ll have Alberto drag you down there. He’ll be in here any minute with our food.”

Louis turns away from Harry light a lamp, which hangs from the wall.

“Oh, Alberto’s the big bloke with muscles, who had his hands all over me earlier?” Harry asks, though he knows the answer. “He can drag me anywhere he likes.”

Harry pauses. He wants Louis to think very hard about allowing another person to manhandle Harry.

Then he adds, “But I won’t lift a finger, not to do dishes.”

Louis’ mouth thins. “Then I’ll have to throw you overboard.” He does not look pleased at the idea, which is fortunate because Harry hadn’t meant to risk his life. It’s not quite worth Nick’s bruised ego, even with a hundred pounds thrown in to sweeten the pot.

The bastard hadn’t even offered any manual stimulation as part of their wager. Although, as Harry regards Louis in the flickering light of the gaslamp, Harry’s sure the captain’s sensual attentions will be plenty better than any Grimmy could offer.

“My parents would not be pleased if you killed me,” Harry informs him, and it’s true. “I’ve left them a note telling them where I’ll be and who should be held responsible, should any harm come to me.” This is true, strictly speaking. His mother is no doubt calling on Nick at this very moment.

Louis’ shoulders drop. He seems relieved to hear this. Interesting. The cruel pirate may be less cruel than Harry’d been led to believe.

Harry hopes he still has a taste for power and punishment when it comes to swordplay.

Louis moves to stand over Harry. His bare navel is level with Harry’s eyes and Harry cannot look elsewhere. The dusting of hair on Louis’ belly is enticing, and, for the first time since Alberto bound him, Harry wishes he could use his hands. He wants to run a finger over it, to test the soft, smooth feel of it.

Louis places a finger below Harry’s chin again, and lifts it. He murmurs, “You won’t work. I can’t kill you. What do I do with you?”

“Hold me captive,” Harry blurts. He’s not sure if it suits his purpose, begging to be restrained and ordered about, but he wants it so badly. And it seems likely that a famously cruel pirate like Captain Tommo would be into that sort of thing.  He had wanted Harry tied up, after all.

“I’ll be your prisoner. Totally at your command,” Harry tells him, to clarify.

“Totally at my command?” Louis asks, voice soft, words carefully chosen. “What do you think I’d want you to do? Do not imply sexual favors because, while you are a tempting, well-fit piece of work, I’m not interested in entanglements.”

Harry doesn’t usually affiliate with men who lie about their desires. It’s a waste of time that could be spent on men who are eager and forthright. But, for the sake of beating Nick (and a taste of Louis’ cock), Harry’s willing to play the game.

Harry flicks his gaze down. He can’t look far as Louis’ still got Harry’s chin in his grasp. After a moment’s thought, he says, “I’m sure you’ll think of something. Keep me bound and I’ll do anything you ask me, as long as it’s to serve you, and not your crew.”

Harry thinks these are reasonable parameters. Harry looks up to see if Louis approves. There’s interest, excitement, maybe even arousal in the other man’s eyes. Victory.

Louis nods curtly, and opens his mouth, but before he can speak, there’s a knock at the door.

“Captian?” It’s Alberto. Harry recognizes his voice. “I have dinner for you and the dandy.”

Harry does not appreciate this title. He much prefers ‘stylish gentlemen’ or even ‘beau,” so he glares at Alberto as he carries two plates of food over to the desk. Quickly, though, Harry is distracted from his ire by the smell of cooked meat, and, helplessly, he smiles instead.

“Brilliant,” he states, eager to dig in- except his hands are still bound behind him. He waits for Louis to notice.

Louis drags a chair from the corner of the cabin over to the desk and sits. He looks up at Alberto, who’s hovering in the doorway, waiting for a clear dismissal, and says, “Bring down some hot water. I’d like a bath.”

Alberto eyes Harry with a frown and Harry waggles his eyebrows suggestively in return.

Even before the door has closed behind Alberto, Louis’s mouth is full of food. Harry watches him jealously, but doesn’t ask to be released. He doesn’t think that’s proper captive behavior. Probably.

He can wait a few minutes for Louis to notice. He’s waited hours already.

Three or four bites in, Louis looks up and smiles at Harry. “Sorry,” he says. “I’m famished.” As he speaks, Harry can see the food particles roll around in his mouth. Very poor manners. Grimmy had said that Louis’d had lessons in etiquette, that he dines regularly with wealthy clients who hire out his pillaging services. Clearly he’s not interested in putting on a show for Harry.

The thought makes Harry marginally less impatient to undo the buttons on Louis’ breeches and lavish his attention on what lies beneath. That is, until Louis licks his lips. Louis’ tongue moves quickly and cleverly in and out of his mouth, and, suddenly, Harry hopes he gets to feel it dip and dive against his arse.

Harry remembers what Louis’d said earlier about causing pain to his backside and he’s more than a little hopeful.

Eyes on his own plate, Louis says, “Aren’t you hungry? Or did someone bring you some rations earlier? We don’t waste food on this ship.”

Harry bites his lip and waits till Louis looks up at him to reply, “I’m very hungry, but I’m afraid you’ll have to feed me.”

Louis eyes darken and his gaze narrows in on Harry’s mouth. His fork clatters as it falls from his fingers to his plate and he rubs his palms against his thighs. “Feed you?” He rasps.

Harry nods. The way Louis’ watching him now has Harry hoping he’ll do it. He wants to, that much is clear, and the idea arouses him.  It arouses Harry, too.

Louis says, “Why? Have you forgotten how to feed yourself?”

Harry flinches. Louis’ comment comes out hard and sassy, surprising Harry given the circumstances.

“My hands are bound,” Harry reminds him, lifting them a little to draw attention to where they hang behind his back.

“Oh,” Louis says, loudly, eyebrows drawing tight. He moves quickly from his chair to stand behind Harry, fingers brushing against Harry’s sensitive wrists as he unweaves the rope. When he’s finished, he tosses the rope over the back of Harry’s chair and gestures for Harry to eat.  

The room is quiet for a few minutes, but for the clacking silverware and the lap of water against the outside of the ship.

Conversationally, Louis says, “That was a shit knot. You could have easily freed yourself with a few careful tugs.”

Because, unlike Louis, Harry has manners, he finishes chewing the bit of food in his mouth before he replies.  He keeps his voice low to say, “I bet you could tie me up much more securely.”

Louis takes a long swig out of his flask. Much to Harry’s dismay, he hasn’t been offered any. No, Louis doesn’t respond to Harry’s comment or the covetous looks Harry sends his liquor and they finish their meal without another word.

The silence between them begins to feel heavy once the food is gone from their plates. Harry wishes Alberto would arrive with hot water.

Idly, he looks down at his hands resting his lap and sees red marks on his wrist from the rope that had bound him all afternoon.

Remembering Louis’ comment, Harry says, “You’d better rebind me, tight this time.” He holds out his hands to Louis, palms up and wrists together.

Louis reaches out to hold Harry’s hands in his. Harry watches as Louis runs his thumb back and forth over Harry’s pulse. Then he lets them drop.

“Not yet,” he says. “Your first task will be to bathe me.”

Harry’s eyes flick upward in surprise. Louis face is relaxed, but one of his eyebrows is raised in a challenge. Harry’s not exactly certain what he’s being challenged to, but as a gentlemen he would never back down from a look that so clearly questions his willingness to do… something.

“Bathe you, eh? I’d love to scrub you up and rub you down, Captain,” Harry says, and tries for a playful wink. He must be successful because Louis laughs, loud and happy, shoulders shaking.

After a moment he quiets, though, and intones a sharp, “No.” Then he adds, “You’ll have to bathe me, without doing anything naughty. It seems as though that might be a test of your self-control, you horny little goat.”   

Harry feels himself blush. He’s not an animal and he cannot believe that Louis would imply as much. “I can be fantastically disciplined.”

“I can tell you like to be disciplined,” Louis says, meeting Harry’s eyes, and then standing and stretching. Harry nods eagerly because it’s not untrue.

Louis pulls his shirt tails from where they’re tucked into his trousers and begins to shrug out of his shirt. “Well?” He says to Harry. “Are you going to undress me or has the view of my chiseled physique paralyzed you?”

“Um,” Harry says, paralyzed indeed. He’s saved from answering the question by Alberto’s knock on the cabin door.

Louis says, “Come in, Alberto.” And then, to Harry, “Pull out the tub.” Harry follows his gaze to the bulky metal tub turned on its side and shoved up against the wall.

“If you can,” Louis adds, sounding skeptical.

This raises Harry’s hackles, just a tad. He might look soft and he might prefer sampling pastries to boxing, but he’s no lily-livered yellow-belly. He maintains a fair amount of muscle. It makes for much better lovemaking, an aspect of his life which he’s quite committed to enhancing.

Harry walks over to the basin and stretches his back in preparation. He looks over his shoulder to check whether or not Louis’ watching him. He is. He tilts his head and raises an inquiring eyebrow at Harry.

Harry frowns and turns back to the task at hand. The tub is heavy, heavier than he expects, and he sets it down again almost immediately.

Louis laughs. “Need help?”

Harry shakes his head.

Behind him, he can hear water sloshing around in the buckets Alberto’s hauling into the room.  Briefly he considers admitting defeat and allowing Alberto to do the lifting. However, he has agreed to be Louis’ captive. And he’s promised to do Louis’ bidding. As this is his firsttask, Harry thinks he has something important to prove. His value, maybe.

He contemplates the tub. He hadn’t been lying earlier to Alberto or to Louis; he functions much better in the nude. With his hands free, he has the opportunity to take control of his own garment situation. Carefully, aware that Louis’ eyes haven’t left him, Harry opens his shirt, button by button, and shimmies it off his shoulders.

He bends over, arse on display, and unlaces each boot before slipping them off his feet. When he straightens and begins to undo the buttons at his waist, Louis interrupts. “Trousers stay on.”

Harry throws a smirk at Louis over his shoulder, gratified by his attentiveness.

Turning back, he rubs his hands together as he surveys the tub, and thinks, might as well.

He was right, of course he was. The wretched thing’s much easier to lift shirtless. He heaves the tub over, righting it, and then drags it, bottom scraping loud and heavy across the wooden floor, to rest in front of Louis.

When Harry looks up, Louis’ gaze feels hot with intent. Louis wants to fuck Harry in the bath; it’s written all over his face. Realizing he’s been caught staring, Louis shakes his head and grins.

“You’re wrong,” he tells Harry, reading Harry’s mind as easily as Harry’d read his own. “I’m not actually going to bed you. Let it go.”

Harry does not correct Louis, though he’s certain it’s the captain who’s wrong. Harry’s a man who knows how to get what he wants and what he wants is his mouth around Louis’ cock.  

Harry can see said cock as it stands out, a hard line against Louis’ trousers. The man wasn’t using a codpiece, then. He’s naturally large. Lovely. Harry delights in proper challenges.

Alberto steps between them to dump a bucket of steaming water into the tub and Harry’s glad for the distraction. That is, until Louis instructs, “Harry, help him.”

The bucket he lifts is nearly as heavy as the tub and its contents spill over onto him as he carries it across the room, making his trousers stick to his skin uncomfortably. He curses his poor clothing choice. He’d gone for comely instead of breathable. Bad move.

Alberto carries the final bucket, thank god, and asks, “Anything else, Captain?”

Louis turns toward him, frowning, and shakes his head. He’d been staring at Harry again, Harry notes triumphantly.

“Finally alone,” Harry whispers once Alberto’s gone, beginning to unbutton his trousers.  

“Who said I want you to see you naked?”

Harry smirks. Louis’ bluffing. Harry can tell by the state of his rigid cock. “You do,” Harry says.

Louis shakes his head as he begins to undress himself. “I most certainly do not.”

He’s lying and Harry knows exactly how to deal with liars. Ignore them. It always works with Nick when he tells Harry about sucking off this wealthy-as-hell earl or that gorgeous naval officer. Harry’s hands move to his hips, but before he can pull down his trousers Louis reaches out a hand to grip his wrist, hard.

“Do you ever do as you’re told?” Louis inquires. “You are a terrible captive.”

Harry squints at him and tries to tug his hand free. He meets Louis’ eyes and bats his lashes,“I would be a wonderful captive if you’d let me.”

Louis sighs. “You’re a whole new level of charming.”

“See, you do like me,” Harry says. He’s gotten one side of his trousers down over his hip. Louis’ hand holds the other in place, firmly, through a fair amount of rigorous squirming on Harry’s part.

“Keep your clothes on or I’m sending you out to sleep with rest of the lads.”

Harry stills immediately. He watches closely as Louis steps back and strips naked. His movements are slow and smooth and Harry thinks he might fancy himself putting on a show. Harry approves.

He says, “You’re lovely.”

To which Louis replies, “I’m a pirate. I’m rugged and grizzled.”

He isn’t, though. His skin is perfect, blemish free and gold in the flickering lamplight. It’s lined with tattoos that Harry wants to map with his fingers and catalogue in his memory.

Harry’s eyes fall to his cock, hanging thick and pink between his legs. It’s not fully erect, not yet, but Harry imagines it would be hard to the touch and hot. He’s going find out, he’s certain of it.

“Stop staring, you’re embarrassing yourself,” Louis tells him, but he makes no move to cover up. He’s glowing in Harry’s attention.

“I’m admiring,” Harry replies. He’d stopped being embarrassed about appreciating beautiful men a long time ago.

“Well, stop,” Louis repeats, and he steps over the side of the tub and into the steaming water. He hisses.

It was a rash move, Harry thinks. He always tests his water, first with his finger, then his toe, then his whole foot, before hopping in.

Louis closes his eyes and lays back, dramatic even as he relaxes. “Water’s warm. Perfect for bathing. It’s a comfort we don’t allow ourselves very often on board- hot soaks. I suppose you can wash everyday in your manor house with your many servants and exotic soaps, if you’d like.”

“I suppose.” He could. He doesn’t, but he could. Louis sounds strangely bitter. It’s something Harry’s never thought much about, the fact that for many a warm bath might be a luxury.  

He doesn’t really want to think about it either, especially when it’s so clearly a sore spot for Louis. Seeking a distraction, Harry asks, “Do you have any soap?”

Louis opens one eye and nods toward the desk. “Top drawer.”

Harry opens it, glad now for the use of his hands. (Although he does hope the Louis’ll retie him after. He is his captive. Maybe Harry’ll develop a desire to escape. One cannot predict these things. Harry thinks Louis had best be on the safe side.)

He sinks down beside the tub, sniffing delicately at the oily lump in his hand. Sandalwood, he thinks. It’s a little brutish for Harry’s taste, but it suits Captain Tommo, the cold-blooded rapscallion that he is.  

Harry watches him for long moment, admires the bow of his lips and the thick lashes fanning out atop his cheeks. Though the room feels chilly to Harry, Harry can see that Louis’ skin is flushed underneath his tan, likely from the heat of the still steaming bathwater.

He’s startlingly appealing and Harry feels an irrational wave of jealousy at the thought that Nick had found him first, even if his attempts at seduction had fallen flat. Harry would like Louis’ pebbly brown nipples and soft pink lips all to himself.

Harry shifts the soap from hand to hand and contemplates how to proceed. Louis had indicated that he expected Harry to wash him- using his hands. And Harry has an inclination, a hunger, to do just that. In fact, there is little Harry desires more than to be able to run a finger across the smooth skin of Louis’ neck or flatten his palm against the inside of Louis’ bare and solid thigh.

And yet something about Louis’ uncharacteristic peacefulness has him hesitating. He wonders how many people have seen the captain like this: naked, quiet, still. Nick certainly never had, Harry thinks vindictively.

This wager has been easy, as easy as stealing candy from a baby.

Not that Harry would ever consider such a malevolent trick. Louis would, though, probably, and the prospect of bedding such a rough-and-tumble man, such a scoundrel, has Harry’s pulse racing.

Louis opens one eye and quirks his lips. “I thought you couldn’t wait to put your hands all over me. I thought you wanted to take care of me.”

The words are playful, not quite inviting Harry in, but not pushing him away either. They dare Harry to act and so he does.

Meeting Louis’ piercing blue gaze, he dips both hands into the water, wetting them and the bar of soap. Then he rubs his palms together, slow and deliberate, lathering them. He’s careful not to look away from Louis’ face.

He clasps the soap in his right hand and allows his left, now covered in suds, to drop to Louis’ shoulder. Louis shudders at the touch, but he doesn’t say a word and he doesn’t pull away. Harry massages the soap into his skin with small firm circles, moving up his arm, across his chest, and down the other.

As he works Louis’ torso, he lets his pinky slip and catch over each of Louis’ nipples, eliciting first a harsh breath and then a gasp. He keeps his eyes trained steadily on Louis, whose gaze remains fixed on Harry in return. Fixed, that is, until Harry’s hand, which is smoothing a path across his waist, brushes his cock standing hard and upright.

Louis looks down and swallows.

“Wait,” he says.

His eyes are engulfed by pupil, now almost black instead of blue,  and Harry yearns to take him in hand, pull him, tease him, tug him to completion, but Louis’ command is clear.

‘Wait,’ Harry thinks, is better than ‘No’ or ‘Stop.’ There’s a promise behind Louis’ hesitation.

He re-soaps his hands and Louis’ eyes track the motion. Harry knows he has beautiful hands with thick, long fingers. He’s not wearing any of his customary rings- hadn’t trusted he’d be able to leave the pirate ship still in possession of them- and he regrets it. He likes the way light dances off of them and the idea that his lovers can feel the cool press of them contrasting the heat of his fingertips.

He thrusts his hands back into the water, moving directly to the tops of Louis’ thighs. He can’t resist massaging them, pressing into their muscle, and savoring the feel of the fine hairs that cover them. Louis tenses beneath him, and Harry’s aware that Louis’ length continues to stand at attention, not quite touching Harry’s wrist. It’s practically begging for Harry’s ministration.  

Harry ignores it, or, more accurately, he leaves it be, focusing instead on the underside of Louis’ knee and the bulge of Louis’ tight calf. Louis’ breathing is uneven, in and out in unpredictable gasps.

Harry’s hard, too, his own cock throbbing against the buttons of his trousers. This is the only problem with tight britches; they’re painfully restrictive, particularly when Harry’s aroused. Remembering the way Louis’ eyes clung to his backside earlier, Harry decides that the temporary discomfort is worth his well-displayed arse and duly emphasized bulge.

Harry’s eyes travel up to meet Louis’. Louis licks his lips, his tongue pink and quick.  Harry’s cock twitches. Harry knows he’s here to seduce Louis- to woo him and to pleasure him, to tear down his walls, to make him come. He does hope, though, that his own needs will be seen to in the process.

He slides a hand down to wrap around Louis’ ankle. Underneath his thumb is a small triangle tattoo that Harry can’t help but trace. They’re delicate, Louis’ ankles, and Harry’s chest tightens with tenderness. They look like the ankles of soft, sweet boy, not a coldhearted killer. Harry wants to kiss them.

Louis clears his throat. “Finished?”

Amusement rings in voice and Harry tightens his grip in surprise, not yet ready to let go.

He shakes his head and a curl slips loose, over and into his eye. He brushes it away with the back of his free wrist, but it’s of no use.  If only he’d thought to retie the lovely scarf before soaking his hands in bathwater. He startles when Louis reaches over with a still dry hand and tucks the wayward lock away.

He meets Louis’ gaze. His lips are slightly upturned and one eyebrow is lifted, questioning. Harry decides he likes the captain like this- bare-skinned and aroused- because even if he’s not willing to give in to his desires (yet), he’s still smiling softly at Harry, bestowing real, albeit reluctant, affection.   

“Well?” Louis asks. When Harry responds with a smile and no move to let Louis free, he adds, “You’re done.”

Harry chews his lip. “What about your hair?”

Harry can’t explain it. He’s never cared much for hair before, associating it with pins and curls and lady bits. But now, now he has an intense desire to pull Louis’ hair free from its band and sink his fingers through the silky strands.  

Louis beats him to it, freeing his sandy mane and submerging himself without a word. His knees pop up above the water as he does so and Harry wants to bite them. He settles for moving his hands atop them and digging in his nails.

Louis surfaces and smacks Harry’s hands away.

“Ouch, quit it, you damn minx.” His words are loud, resonant against the wood walls of the room and jarring the quiet mood of the bath, but they’re not harsh. Not meant to sting. Harry looks down and he can see through the murky water that Louis is still hard, harder than ever maybe. Harry suspects Louis might like his captives to put up a fight.

He smirks and meets Louis’ eyes again. He doesn’t look away as he resoaps his hands and admits, “You were probably right to have me bound up.”

“I can see that, yeah,” Louis replies, voice higher and breathy now.

Harry’s hands find their way into Louis’ hair, fingers shifting through his wet tresses and pressing gently against his scalp as he carefully lathers Louis up. Harry loves to have his own hair washed, loves it when his manservant tugs gently at his curls.  

So he pulls at Louis’ hair, eliciting a hitch of breath, and then scratches, light as he’s able, at the base of Louis’ neck. Louis whines.

“Good?” Harry’s voice is deeper than he expects. Rougher, too. He’s grateful for the huskiness, has had men tell him how sexy it is, how it melts them.

He hopes Louis is melting.

Louis replies, voice now barely a whisper, “Just finish up, will you?”

Harry grins and slides a hand out of Louis’ hair and down the front of his chest. Before he can grab hold the captain’s cock, he’s stopped. Louis pulls Harry’s hand off him and out of the water.

“No,” he says. “Not what I meant.” His voice is still quiet, but it’s firm, and Harry pouts again.He wants to win. He wants Louis.

He disentangles his other hand from Louis’ hair and rinses them both while Louis dunks below the water again. When he reemerges, his hair is plastered to his head and there’s a drop of water on one of his eyelashes. Harry thinks it’s adorable, though he would never say as much aloud.

“Fetch me a towel,” Louis commands, gesturing toward a trunk on the other side of the room.

Harry stands and does so, grabbing also a fresh shirt and pants. His knees ache a little, and so does his back.

Harry allows Louis to dry and redress in silence, but he doesn’t look away. Louis is beautiful, round and lean in all the right places, and Harry will not deny himself the opportunity to admire. He’s mesmerized by the movement of the muscles in Louis’ arms and shoulders and not a small bit jealous of the way his thighs and arse fill out the soft trousers he steps into.

Louis cock is still stiff and Louis winces as he buttons himself up.

Louis stretches and walks toward the lamp. “It’s time for bed. Your spoiled arse can sleep on the floor for one bloody night. I don’t have an extra hammock.”

“But Captain,” Harry protests, striding across the room. “Don’t you want me well rested and beautiful? Won’t that make me a much more useful captive.”

Louis regards him and purses his lips. He looks as though he’s trying not to smile and Harry’s not sure whether the man is taking him seriously any longer. Harry hates to be made a fool.

Well, no, that’s not entirely true. He doesn’t mind others having a laugh over him. And he certainly wouldn’t mind making Louis chuckle one of his breathy little laughs.

Finally, he shakes his head, decision made. “You’ll do fine, on the floor. We’ll see what we can find for you more permanently, tomorrow.”

“You are very unkind,” Harry adds and then schools his face into a glower. It might not seem a very harsh insult to the infamous Captain Tommo, but Harry means it in the very worst way.

Louis frowns at him in return. It doesn’t seem like very genuine frown to Harry. Louis’ eyes are still crinkled like he’s smiling.   

He says, “Harold, with an attitude like that, there’s no help for it. I’ll have to keep you bound overnight, prevent you from any treachery.” He reaches over to where the discarded rope lies on the floor.

He pauses and grabs Harry’s shirt. “It can be cold at night. You’ll want this.”

Reluctantly, Harry puts the shirt back on.  

His wrists are still red from earlier and he runs his fingers over them, wondering how painful rebinding them will be and if he should protest. He doesn’t think Louis’d follow through on the threat if Harry expressed any real resistance.

But if he’s honest, and Harry’s always honest, he likes the pain and he likes the power it puts in Louis’ hands. He hopes that power’s seductive, tempting him to take from Harry all he’s offering.

He holds his hands out, together and limp, for Louis. Before wrapping them, Louis inspects each wrist, rubbing his own fingers over the angry marks.

He meets Harry’s eyes, his own gaze questioning.

“I don’t think,” Louis begins, thumb sweeping over Harry’s pulse in a light caress and sending his pulse soaring.

Harry cuts him off. “You’re right not to trust me. I have terrible plans. Very, very evil. For what I’d like to do to you.” When Louis still doesn’t move to tie him. Harry adds, “And your crew. Are you really willing to risk their lives for the comfort of a silk stocking like me?”

“Alright, alright.” Louis motions for him to turn so he can tie Harry’s arms behind him, looser this time. Against the back of Harry’s neck, he murmurs, “Any man on my crew could and would slay you dead before you got within a foot of them.”

“Heeyyy,” Harry retorts, feeling petulant, even though he’s gotten his way.

Louis tugs at the rope and it stings pleasantly. Harry’s cock throbs.

“I’m much stronger than I look,” he tells Louis, trying his best to make his voice resonant and powerful. It should work. He has a fantastic voice, everyone says. Very manly.

“You look like a kitten.” Louis sounds amused, maybe even fond, but he dims the light before Harry catch his expression and he’s not sure whether to be flattered or insulted.

“I like kittens,” Harry tells him. Because he does. He would never coddle them, not like his sister does, keeping them in her room and letting them sleep in her bed.  (Yes, he would.) But he likes them, alright.

“Me, too, Harry,” Louis says, voice coming from across the inky dark room.

There’s a creek of wood as Louis settles into his hammock and Harry’s stomach tightens with jealousy. Maybe this wasn’t the best plan. He’s not going to be able to sleep on the floor, he knows. It’s too chilly and his back is beginning to throb.

And if he doesn’t sleep well, his charm will be off. He might lose.

He decides there’s nothing for it now, though, and lowers himself to the floor. He listens to the swell and rush of the water against the hull and creak of the ship as it rocks and sways, trying to stay still and wait till morning.

~

It must be hours later when Louis stirs again. It must be, because Harry’s been tossing and turning, counting his breaths and silently reciting poetry.

His back aches and he’s bone tired, but far from sleepy.

“Harry,” Louis whispers and Harry tenses, uncertain what to expect. Maybe Louis needs Harry to fetch something. Maybe in his restless wakefulness Harry’s made too much noise and Louis wants him sent away.

Maybe, hopefully, Louis can’t sleep either and Harry’s ‘wait’ is over.

Harry stays quiet.

“I know you’re awake,” Louis tells him. He sounds surprisingly alert.

Harry refuses to respond, wondering if Louis has tricked him. If maybe he’s been awake all along, waiting for Harry to sleep so he can torture Harry- or throw him overboard, like he’d threatened. At the thought, Harry tests the rope binding his wrists, relishing the pang as the rope catches on his sensitive skin. He’d be helpless to Louis, completely at his mercy.

“Are you cold?” Louis asks. “I have a blanket in the trunk.”

Louis’ suggestion is practically the opposite of torture, but it delights Harry nonetheless.

Harry isn’t cold. He’s chillier than is entirely comfortable, but the temperature is less of a problem than the hard wood beneath him.

He considers whether complaining is worth the risk. Slowly, drawing out each word, he says, “The floor is slightly less forgiving than I expected.”

“Very punishing, that floor,” Louis agrees. Harry’s eyes have adjusted to the dark and he can see that Louis is shifting to sit up in the hammock. Harry hopes he’s moving to find blankets, clothes, towels, linens, anything soft to cushion Harry’s body.

“Knows how to bloody well hold a grudge, it does,” Harry tells him.

Louis laughs. “Well then,” he says and hesitates. “My hammock sleeps two, or so I’ve been told by Alberto. And he’s the trustworthy sort. Come up, you can share.”

Harry’s heart skips a beat and he swallows. He imagines being pressed tight along Louis side, their legs tangled, his crotch against Louis’ ass. It’s a wonderful idea and Harry’s surprised he hadn’t thought of it himself.

“That’s a terrible idea, Captain,” Harry says, remembering, again that he’s supposed to be playing hard-to-get. He can’t let Louis in on his open interest or he’ll risk the same fate as Nick: open rejection.

Louis scoffs, sitting up all the way, legs slung out over the edge of the hammock. His feet do not touch the ground.

Harry sits up, as well. Trying to temper his eagerness, he says, “Neither of us will sleep well in such close proximity.”

“Nonsense,” Louis replies. “I’ll sleep much better with my arms around you, knowing you haven’t escaped to cause havoc among my crew with your long legs and sharp wit.” His tone is light, teasing, but it has an edge to it that makes Harry wonder if Louis really thinks Harry would do something like that, proposition other members of the crew.

Not that Harry wouldn’t, under the right circumstances.

Still, he’s a man of honor and integrity and he doesn’t at all like that Louis attributes to him such recklessness and promiscuity.

“You are thwarting my plans at every turn. First, you insist on tying me up and now you want to hold me in your sleep?”

Louis laughs and the sound sends a thrilling shiver up Harry’s spine. “I have a feeling that I am doing nothing of the sort.”

Louis is very clever. Nick had been correct on that account. But he’s been much more accommodating and, erm, interested than Harry’d been led to believe. Not that Harry’d anticipated he’d put up even this much resistance.

Men who liked fucking other men neverreally resist, not Harry, anyway. Nick’s success has been more limited. Probably, Harry reasons.

Nick hasn’t been able to capture Harry yet, or more importantly, Captain Tommo, Louis, has he?

“Harold?” Louis prompts. “Do you want to climb in?”

And Harry does. He really, really does, so much so that he’s willing to give up the game and beg Louis to pin him down and take him.  

He pushes to his feet. He’s not quite able to catch his balance with his hands and arms tight together and he stumbles across the room. He considers the hammock for several seconds before attempting a nosedive which lands him perpendicular to Louis, who cries out and squirms beneath him.

“You great oaf! This was your plan all along, wasn’t it? To smother me? I should’ve known, you dirty cock-sucking bastard!” Louis’ voice is more of a whisper-shout than an actual shout, which Harry is grateful for. He’s not eager for Alberto to run in, sword out in a panic- not with Harry’s legs flopping around behind him and his hairband dreadfully askew, not when he’s so close to actually bedding Captain Tommo.

Because even though Louis is spewing obscenities, he sounds rather gleeful. He pulls Harry up and rights him, wrapping an arm around his waist and tangling their legs together. His thighs feel solid against Harry’s own and his shallow gasps of air feel hot against Harry’s neck. Harry realizes that his own weight is pressing into Louis’ chest and he slides to the side.

Louis breathes deeply and lets the air out slowly. Then, he says, “Better?”

And Harry’s both much better and also not better at all. His cock is thickening again in his too tight trousers and he can feel the not-quite softness of Louis’ own bulge against his hip. The hammock is comfortable, much more pleasant than the floor, but the imprint of the rough ropes, digging into his back and side and the skin of cheek, while exciting, is not at all conducive to sleep.

He hums, unsure how to adequately express the mixture of pleasure and discontent roiling through him.

“Me too,” Louis agrees, misunderstanding Harry entirely. He’s unpracticed in decoding Harry’s nonsense noises, but Harry thinks he’d be a quick study if he had the chance. Either way, the sleepy lilt of his voice is sweet enough that Harry actually does feel better.

One of Louis’ hands lies on Harry’s chest. It’s so small. And the silky ends of his hair, still damp from the bathwater, tickle Harry’s cheek. It’s distracting and wonderful and taking Nick up on this wager was one of the best choices that Harry’s ever made.

Even if Louis forces him to walk the plank tomorrow morning, this whole endeavor will have been worth it, worth the soft, “G’night, Harreh,” and the sharp burn of the rope around his wrists as he relaxes into sleep.

~

Harry wakes up drenched in sweat, cock rigid and hard up against a firm, muscular thigh. Captain Tommo. Louis.

He shifts his hips and the pressure is perfect, gratifying. He shouldn’t though, and he knows it, knows that in no way has Louis accepted his propositions. He was trying to be kind to Harry by offering up his bed.

Ha.

Harry listens to his breathing for a few moments, shallow and even, in through his nose, out through his slightly parted lips. Harry watches those lips and counts each puff of air. One. Two. Three. Four.

He’s just drifting off again when Louis murmurs something indecipherable. Then he clenches his fist in the fabric of Harry’s shirt and presses his thigh tighter to Harry’s stiff length.

Harry can’t help it. He moans. It’s a soft noise, but deep and still loud enough that Louis stirs once more, again tightening the pressure of his leg against Harry’s now throbbing cock.

Harry’s certain Louis has woken up. There’s no way he could stay asleep, not with Harry’s arousal hot against him and Harry groaning beside him. But he keeps quiet, his breathing unchanged. The rhythm of his leg remains steady, thrusting, gentle but firm, into Harry.

He’s hard, too, Harry realizes, and large, splendidly, spectacularly large. Large and grinding against Harry’s hip. Harry starts pull at his bindings, desperate to touch Louis, to wake him, to make what’s happening between them real.  

“Louis,” he whispers. “Are you awake?”

Louis slips a hand beneath Harry’s shirt and slides his mouth up to Harry’s ear. “Yeah.”

Harry arches, then, and the hammock sways minutely. The heat of Louis’ lips and the press of his fingertips are too much to bear. He wants more and he wants it quickly.

He says, “What can I do Louis? What can I do for you?” He shifts downward and mouths wetly at Louis’ neck, his jaw, the corner of his mouth.

Louis squeaks, and it surprises Harry, but he doesn’t have time to dwell on the noise before Louis’ lips are on his, already open, hungry. He bites at Harry’s lower lip and his hands tug at Harry’s shirt, pulling it free in the places where it is stuck stubbornly in his trousers.

Harry approves of Louis’ sudden wildness. It’s what he’s been edging for, a sign of the desperation he knew he could elicit. And he approves of Louis’ attempts undress him, hopes Louis tears at his buttons, letting Harry in on his eagerness, finally showing Harry he’s as hungry for Harry as Harry is for him.

Harry’s elated, knowing that now, now, he’s certainly won the bet. He’ll have Louis’ thick, beautiful cock up his arse and he’ll have the hundred pounds from Nick.

Except then Louis pulls back. The expression on his face is curious. He’s searching Harry’s own face for something.

The look unsettles Harry, as does Louis’ hesitation. Louis can’t stop now, not when he’s wound them both up, not when they were almost there. Harry thrusts against him and whines, the loudest noise either has made since Harry’d woken up.

“Please,” he says.

Louis voice catches when he replies, “You’re so damn wanton. A true libertine. I don’t-“ He cuts off. He has a hand clenched on Harry’s hip and, even as his eyes shut, his grip tightens. Harry thinks he sounds awed and incredibly pleased by Harry, but also uncertain.  

Well, Harry’s certain. He knows what he wants. And what he wants involves the heated swell of Louis’ cock which is tucked up against his hip. He thrusts again.

“Louis, let me- I need- your cock.” And maybe, with his head clouded by Louis’ proximity and the prospect of fucking, he’s not the most articulate lover, but the final word rolls smoothly off tongue, causing Louis’ eyes to open, wide and dark.

Louis nods and swallows. With a quick kiss to Harry’s forehead, he jerks into motion, shuffling down in the hammock and angling himself far enough away from Harry to get a proper look at his buttons. The top two are already undone. Harry’d been too lazy to refasten all of them before bed.

Louis fingers the edge of Harry’s shirt for a moment, eyes locked on the wings of the swallows inked just below Harry’s collar bones.  

“Sailor tattoos,” he says, deftly flicking open one button and then the next. He touches the crest above the eye of one of the birds. “They’re romantic symbols. You sure you don’t have a girl waiting for you, Harry? No one I’m stealing you from?”

He undoes a third and fourth button before looking up to meet Harry’s eyes. “No one going to chase me down with a frying pan the next time I dock in London?”

“No,” Harry says. Not that Harry doesn’t have plenty of offers from both eligible brides and their mothers alike. He’s quite popular with the ladies. His mates find his disinterest in them extremely tragic. Harry thinks they’re jealous.

Jealous of how often he gets bedded, that is. Men are much less interested in mating games, much more willing to get to the coupling.

Well, most men.

Captian Tommo has proven to be a refreshing challenge.

Louis finishes with Harry’s buttons and pulls the shirt wide. He tugs it down Harry’s shoulders and the fabric pools around Harry’s wrists. All the while, he does not break away from Harry’s gaze.

He leans down and rests his mouth against one of Harry’s nipples. His breath pebbles it when he murmurs, “Good, I don’t like to share.”

Harry’s dick leaks. He can feel a trickle out of his damp and tender cockhead. He hasn’t been this excited to be fucked in months, or maybe years. He cannot remember ever wanting someone like this, not with so much relish, not with so much need.

Louis’ mouth latches onto him, suckling.  His hands have found Harry’s hips again and are holding him there, hard enough to bruise.

It’s not about the bet, not anymore, Harry knows. (Even though he’s still crowing at his apparent victory.) It’s about Louis, about reveling in his odd and appealing mix of playfulness and passion and confidence. Harry likes him, and he likes his cock.

Louis releases Harry’s nipple, only to lick it and then tug gently at the pink skin around it with his teeth. Harry keens and thrusts his hips. The hammock sways again, more violently this time and Harry thinks it suits the fervor he feels.

Louis’ thumbs dig into Harry and he says, “Careful.” It’s an admonishment and a firm one, at that.

Harry likes the way his voice has hardened and he wants to hear it again.

So he arches up into Louis again and again, until they’re swinging from the hooks, the boards above them creaking in protest.  

Louis bites his neck and rolls on top of him. The quick movement pulls at Harry’s shoulder and twists him so that he’s sat awkwardly atop his hands. His wrists ache underneath the rope and the sensation distracts him, briefly, from the trail of spit Louis’ mouth is leaving on his skin as he makes his way to Harry’s own lips.

When they kiss, it’s as though they’re starving for each other. And maybe they are. Harry’s been craving this, Louis on him, from the moment he laid eyes on Louis’ tan skin, glistening in the mid-morning sun.  Harry’s not sure if the desire had been reciprocated right then, whether or not Louis’d felt the same pulse of lust in the pit of his stomach, but he certainly reciprocates it now.

He’s so alive against Harry, a ball of fiery energy, his mouth and hands constantly moving. He’s straddling Harry, and their cocks aren’t lined up, but they connect with every drive of Louis’ hips.

He’s nothing like the cold, walled-off man Nick had told Harry to expect. His passion is as clear as his ability to maintain an impressive arousal (something Nick had also called into question).

Harry’s so pleased, so grateful that Nick him cajoled into this.

Louis stops moving. “Nick?” He asks. “You know Mr. Grimshaw?”

And, bloody buggering fuck, Harry must have been thinking aloud, he must’ve said something about Nick while Louis was covering him with kisses. That bastard may have won himself the bet after all. Worse still, Harry might be left alone, bound and hard and unfulfilled.

And all because Harry’d turned off his brain to mouth filter for one, terrible-wonderful moment.

He doesn’t answer Louis because it’ll only make things worse. Captian Tommo is not fond of Grimmy and the feeling is mutual. Indeed, after the Hapsfield disaster, Nick had taken out several ads in the paper offering large sums of cash for his live capture.

Nick thinks it’s a laugh. Harry thinks it’s cruel, especially now that he’s met Louis and seen his naked body- real and golden and glistening in gaslight.

Hoping to distract, he presses his mouth to Louis’, but Louis pulls back and the hammock swings violently.

“You know Grimshaw,” he says. Then, awe in his voice, he continues, “You are here to capture me, you wily trickster.”

Harry likes the title- he is so damn wily- but he doesn’t like the implication.

It’s not true, anyway.

The only thing Harry wants from Louis is an orgasm or two. Or six or seven. However many’s good.

He sinks his teeth into Louis neck and cants his hips, hoping to more clearly communicate his intentions which are directed entirely at Louis’ virtue and not at all at his person more generally.  

“Stop,” Louis commands. It’s not loud, but it’s firm, edged with danger. His captain voice. Harry likes it and can’t hold back the small jerk of his hips. “Tell me why you’re here. Tell me how you know Nick.”

Harry whines. “You should have gagged me. This would have gone far better had you gagged me.” It’s true, too. Grimmy’s name would never have escaped his fevered thoughts had his lips been muzzled with silken fabric.  

“Harry,” Louis says. “You should be grateful I haven’t forced you to tell me who you are, to what family you belong and from whom I might extract a small sum in return for your safe passage home. You are landed and titled, aren’t you?”

Harry sighs. Blackmail is so passé.

“Nick and I run in the same gentlemen’s circles. We belong to the same, erm, club,” Harry explains, speaking each word slowly, taking his time so as to plan. He does not want to lose his chance with Louis.

“The same club? I’ll just bet you do,” Louis intones. He sounds amused and his legs remain wrapped tight around Harry’s hips. Harry thinks this is a good sign. If he weaves the story carefully, he may be able to convince Louis to fuck him, after all. He may be able to win.

But he must be judicious in word choice and prudent in his description of Nick. Louis must not think them friends.

Nick’s encounter with Louis at the Hapsfield Gala last spring had turned decidedly sour when Nick’s lasciviousness mingled with Louis’ prickly disinterest. According to Nick, at least, they’d both left bitter. (Though in Nick’s opinion, this was completely the fault of the ‘coldblooded, thick-arsed captain.’)

“I boarded your ship because I wanted to know if he was right about you. Or rather, I wanted to prove him wrong.”

Louis’ eyes narrow and he reaches up to brush a stray curl out of Harry’s face. It’s a nice gesture, but it reminds Harry of an itch he’s got just below his right temple. His hands strain futiley against their bindings.

He continues, “He told me you were a horrid lover, selfish, unskilled. Tiny cock.”

It’s all untrue, of course. Nick hadn’t been able to convince Louis to ‘have relations’ with him and he’d been too perturbed to lie about it to Harry. He’d also been too perturbed to disguise his unwavering appreciation for Louis’ smooth skin and round bottom- admissions that had peaked Harry’s interest and fueled the wager Harry was now so close to winning.

Louis frowns and thrusts into Harry, his admittedly sizeable cock nudging Harry in a clear and valid protest to ‘Nick’s’ insults.  

“As if I’d let that ostentatious peacock of man anywhere near my person,” Louis huffs. “I’m going to have that filthy liar’s tongue cut out, you see if I don’t.”

Harry does not want Nick’s tongue cut out. Especially, since he didn’t actually lie about Louis. Worry, and a small bubble of guilt, well up in him. “He didn’t say for sure, he just suspected as much, seeing as you were so reluctant to bed him,” Harry amends. It’s closer to the truth.

“And you wanted to prove him wrong?”

Harry frowns. He doesn’t want to lie anymore because lying is bad and wrong, but he also doesn’t want to answer that question truthfully. He says, “I bet him one hundred pounds I could sleep with you.”  

Louis chuckles, and Harry can feel the rumble of it. “Confident chap, aren’t you?”

Harry nods against him. “Nick showed me your picture from the paper. I thought you were handsome and likely well hung. I figured it was worth a try. Nick thinks you’re going to murder me or maybe leave me with the Americans.”

Louis doesn’t answer and Harry hopes his honesty hasn’t ruined things. He still wants Louis to fuck  him and he definitely doesn’t want spend the rest of his life on the wrong side of the Atlantic.

“You do have a generously proportioned cock. Very big. And so far you’ve proven yourself very skilful at lovemaking.” Harry’s voice is rough, and he punctuates the compliment with a roll of his hips.  

Louis’ eyes close again and he says, curtly, “Fuck Nick Grimshaw,” before sealing their lips together.  

Louis’ rutting increases in fervor. He picks up speed and presses his stiff length into Harry with intent. Harry’s cock is plastered to his thigh, just an inch or so off center, not quite receiving the brunt of Louis thrusts. He tries to shift, but Louis grabs him, one hand on his upper arm and the other on his hip, holding him in place.

Harry whines and tilts his hips up more forcefully, searching for the right angle and just a little more friction. The pad of Louis’ thumb jabs in harder and it hurts.

The hammock is lurching now, back and forth and back and forth.

Louis’ mouth moves from Harry’s lips to his throat. He hovers for a moment before his teeth sink into Harry’s neck- no playful licks or nips- just biting and sucking, hands still firm on Harry who writhes beneath him. It’s too much for Harry, then, the sting of Louis’ bite on his neck, the smart of Louis’ thumb on his hip, the burn of Louis’ rope on his wrists, all aside the not quite enough-ness of Louis’ thrusts against his cock.

Harry needs to feel Louis’ thigh against him, he needs pressure- and release. He throws his weight at Louis, hoping to overturn them, to position himself on top and control their rocking, but he doesn’t take into consideration the swaying of the hammock beneath them and they’re tumbling, bodies untangling, as they drop to the hard, wood floor.

Harry bangs his elbow hard against the planks when he hits the ground and he’s worried their fall will kill the mood. He turns to eye Louis warily.

Louis has landed on his back beside Harry. Gingerly, he rolls onto his side and meets Harry’s gaze. He’s smiling, but his eyes are serious and Harry wants nothing more than to preserve the expression, to paint it on a canvas and hang it in his wardrobe so he can remember it whenever he’s feeling particularly worthless or despondent.  

Harry wiggles toward him, struggling a bit before Louis grabs his shoulders and pulls Harry so he’s sitting atop his hips. Harry leans down and kisses him, sweet, chaste kisses. Against Louis’ lips he says, “Can I give you a blow job?”

Louis angles his face toward Harry, and Harry’s not sure if it’s meant to be a nod or a kiss, but he’ll take either as affirmation.

He shuffles down Louis’ body and noses at his crotch. It smells of soap and musk and man and there’s nothing, no scent in the world, that makes Harry hungrier. He licks at the fabric of Louis trousers, tonguing the front, the side, the head, of Louis’ cock through the cloth. Then he moves to bite at the button- willing to rip them off, if necessary.

Louis’ grates out, “You fucking tease, Harry. Get to it.”

And so Harry pulls at the button, hard, once and then a second time, but the string is sturdy and the knots hold fast. Harry’s arms flail behind him, useless.

The motion must catch Louis’ eye because he sits upright, muttering, “Oh my god, Harry. Your hands. Your wrists must-“ He cuts off and reaches around Harry, grabbing (thoughtlessly, painfully) at the rope.

Harry twists his hands out of Louis grip. “You’d better not,” he says.

Louis stills, mouth tense. “Harry, let me undo them.”

Harry shakes his head and feels another curl or two break free from the silk near his temple. “You’re still not sure of my intentions, are you? I could be here to poison you. Or more probably castrate you.”

Louis balks and then chuckles. “You just told me exactly why you’re here, Harry. I think I have a pretty good idea of your‘intentions’.”

Harry leans back down to teeth, ever so gently, at Louis’ balls, eliciting a startled squeak. Mouth against Louis’ thigh, he asks, “Do you?”

Louis swallows, and says, words running together, “Maybe not, no. Better keep you tied, then.”

Harry nods and returns to work at the buttons, but Louis’ hands bat his face away, impatient. He flicks the buttons free of their holes in three smooth motions and then shucks the trousers down his hips and to his knees.

His cock springs free and Harry’s immediately enamored. He’d seen earlier, before the bath, but not this close. It’s perfect- thick, arrow straight, and veiny.

Harry tongues at its head. Then he sucks the tip of it between his lips, and Louis’ hips jerk, sliding it free from Harry’s mouth so that it smacks up against his chin.

Harry lets out an indignant noise. Not that he doesn’t like to be slapped by a cock every now and then- he’s certainly begged for it before- but at this moment he wants Louis inside him. He’s thirsty, salivating at the sight of the pre-come forming in the crevice at its top.

Louis seems to understand the unspoken words behind his whine, because he reaches over and, with his right hand, feeds his length into Harry’s open mouth. Harry sucks and sucks. He sucks until his lips are sore and his jaw is aching. He never takes Louis’s cock very deep. It doesn’t even hit the back of his throat, because Louis’ hand, carefully directing its motion, doesn’t allow it to.

When Harry lets his tongue wrap round it and pull, Louis moans and grabs at Harry’s hair. The tingling in his scalp goes straight to his cock, which asserts its own need, jumping against his thigh. Harry pulls off Louis, finished with the foreplay and ready to be fucked.

Louis reaches out and, with the back of his hand, wipes off a spot of precome and spit stuck to Harry’s chin.

“You’re a menace,” he whispers, voice barely a rasp.

Harry smiles and ruts against him. “Bet you’re glad I’m tied up, then.”

He and Louis contemplate one another for a moment.

Finally Harry says, “I want you to fuck me.”

Louis’ eyes narrow and he shakes his head. “I don’t think so.”

“I do,” Harry assures him. Because he does. And it’s not about the bet, not anymore. Harry figures he’s won technically, anyway, now that his mouth’s been on Louis’ cock.

“I’m sure you do.” Louis’ smiling and extricating himself from where he’s trapped beneath Harry’s legs and Harry panics, stomach dropping and dick softening (though only slightly), worried he’s made yet another misstep on what has turned out be a very treacherous path to seduction.

But then Louis’ trousers have been tugged all the way off and he’s pulling his shirt over his head. He kneels to face Harry and reaches down to undo the buttons Harry’s trousers.

The touch of his hand, so close, yet not nearly close enough to Harry’s cock, is both wonderful and dreadful.  Louis peels the fabric back, and it’s painful, stuck tight to Harry’s skin. When Louis’ gotten the trousers down to Harry’s knees, Harry falls back, bare arse touching cold wood and lets Louis pull them the rest of the way over his calves and off his ankles and feet.

Louis situates them again so that they’re both up on their knees, foreheads pressed together. He grabs Harry’s cock with one hand and then the other he buries in the hair at Harry’s nape. Against Harry’s lips, he says, “You’re going to fuck me.”

Harry shakes his head and leans forward to kiss Louis’ jaw. “No,” he says. Because he can’t, not in the state he’s in, with his hands tied, already on the edge. He can’t possibly prepare Louis correctly, can’t take his time, can’t do or be what Louis will need, can’t last, even, as long as Louis will want.

Louis lifts Harry’s chin with his forefinger, so that Harry’s forced to meet his gaze. “I thought you were my captive. I thought, since I’d caught you stowing aboard my ship, you agreed to do as I say, to please me, as it were.”

Harry closes his eyes and sucks his lower lip between his teeth, at once both pleased and horrified that Louis is throwing his own words back in his face. That promise had had an aim- Harry’d assumed that Louis would want to be in control and that he’d want to be the one to do the fucking.

“Alright,” Louis says and it’s not really a question, but Harry nods his assent anyway. If it’s really what Louis wants, he’s willing to do as he’s told, to give it his best.

Louis turns away from him, then, and climbs onto all fours. The pucker of his arse is inches from Harry’s chin, tight and pink and framed with a sprinkling of fine, dark hairs. Harry’s tempted to bend down lick it. Before he has the chance to do so, Louis’ own finger is twisting its way inside.

Harry watches as it dips in and out of him, mesmerized, his own arse clenching in sympathy.

“Don’t look away,” Louis instructs, as if Harry might somehow be tempted to do so.  

He’s never seen another man prepare himself before- he’s done it for others, yes, but he’s never just watched. Without the worry of how deep to thrust and which direction to press and without the distraction of tight, damp heat around him, he can pay attention to other things: the arc of Louis’ back, the ripple of his stomach muscles, the fine trembling in his thighs. He can take in every ragged breath and hitched gasp.

Harry’s completely fascinated by Louis and the picture he makes. He’s only vaguely aware of his own arousal, of his cock leaking against his belly, and feels more hesitant than ever about fucking Louis.

As much as he wants to, he also doesn’t want to mar the image front of him. Louis is lovely, perfect even, on his own.

Louis pulls his finger out, but leaves it there, extended in the air before Harry. He says, “Help me.”

Harry can’t look away from his pink opening, empty and flexing. With Louis’ finger gone, Harry wants. He wants to feel it himself, to be inside. Harry allows himself to be fucked more often than he fucks. It’s easier to find male partners that way and, really, he enjoys it, especially enjoys letting go and allowing another man to do all the work. Still, he’s never experienced anything comparable to the pressure of an arse clenching, hot, around his cock.

“Help me,” Louis repeats and Harry hears him this time, but isn’t sure what he’s asking.

He replies, “I don’t-“

Louis interrupts, voice tight, “Get them wet for me.”

His fingers. Harry sees now that he has two extended, waiting for Harry’s lips to wrap round them. Harry sucks them into his mouth, lets his tongue mimic the motions it had made on Louis’ cock only minutes before. Louis’ fingers, unlike the rest of him, are calloused and rough, used handling to rope and wood and Harry relishes the feel of the coarse skin against his tongue.

Without warning, Louis pulls his spit soaked fingers out of Harry’s mouth and pushes them back inside his own arse. He’s slow, at first, with his thrusts, careful. He’s moving only from the wrist, but then, then he speeds up his hand and his hips begin to rock. Harry can hear that Louis’ breathing has turned to panting and he hopes that Louis has not forgotten him, that he’ll have the chance to fuck him.

Harry’s cock twitches as he imagines how Louis’ arse must feel around his fingers, how it’s going to feel around Harry’s cock. “Louis,” he says, but it’s too soft  to be heard over Louis’ gasping breaths.

“Captain Tommo?” Harry speaks a little louder and Louis slows, turning his head to look at Harry over his shoulder.  He raises one delicate eyebrow.

Harry pouts.

“Was that enough?” Louis asks, softly. “Are you ready for me now?” And his tone is so condescending one would think it was Harry’d that’d been prepared by Louis’ nimble fingers, that it was Harry who was about to be fucked.

But Harry can’t be bothered to argue, so he nods. He is ready.

Louis smiles and murmurs, “Me too, love.”  

Harry watches Louis straighten, sitting back on his heels, stretching his back and giving his beautiful cock a few quick tugs. Harry’s eyes catch on the curve of Louis’ shoulder and he loses himself there, waiting almost absently for Louis to make the next move, to show Harry exactly how he wants it.  

Harry doesn’t have to wait long. Louis lowers himself onto Harry’s lap, capturing Harry’s cock between his arse and Harry’s stomach. Harry’s hips tilt up, and Louis turns his head back toward Harry. He presses a series of reassuring kisses against Harry’s cheek and the side of his mouth, as he sneaks a hand between them and wraps it around Harry’s length. He guides Harry into him, murmuring, “Yes, good. Just like that.”

The heat of him knocks Harry’s breath out of his chest and, for a moment, he can’t move. It’s alright though, because Louis’ moving for them both, sinking down onto him. Louis stays still for a moment, wiggling and twisting a bit.

In Louis’ position, Harry usually wants more than spit to smooth the way and he thinks, in a rush of panic, that maybe he should have suggested something, soap or oil, anything slick.

“You’re so big,” Louis breathes and, yes, Harry thinks guiltily, he sounds pained. But then Louis adds, “So perfect. Wanted to feel you inside me since I first caught a glimpse of you through those goddawful breeches.”

His places his hands on the floor on either side of Harry’s thighs, fingers splayed and forearms flexing, and lifts himself up and then back down.  Louis repeats the motion, slowly, a few times. Finally, he adjusts the angle and lets out a soft noise from the back of his throat.

Harry know that he’s making noises too, whiney gasps, probably far too loud, but all that matters is Louis’ arse gripping him snuggly. Harry can feel the pressure of his orgasm, building and billowing.

Louis stills.

“Don’t come,” he says. Harry feels the words like a smack, even though Louis sounds more amused than angry. And it’s effective, the admonishment. Harry doesn’t come, even though he’s so so so close. He’s able to hold back, for Louis.

Louis begins to speak, words flowing from his lips steadily, without even pausing for air. Harry’s had lovers who narrate the experience, tell about the size of his cock and the feel of his arse. And lovers who spew out all the things they desire, every place and position and angle from which they want him.

But Louis’ words are different, affirming and deeply affectionate. Lovemaking words, much too intimate for two of them and yet somehow better than any other sex words Harry’s ever heard.

Louis tells him how good it feels, how lovely Harry’s been, how easy it is to trust him, to let him in, to love him.

And it’s not love that wells up in Harry in response, not after only of eighteen hours, but the ache in chest and the flutter in his belly could become love, someday. Harry wants to tell Louis that, to let him know that he gets it, that he feels it too.

But all his words are stuck somewhere between his brain and his cock all he can do is mouth kisses at the back of Louis’ neck.

Louis picks up the speed, riding him in earnest now, words dying off as he chases release. He’s close, he must be, and Harry is, too. The pressure is nearly unbearable so almostalmostalmost  that Harry can feel tears pickling the corners of his eyes. His balls tighten and he’s ready to let go, but he remembers Louis’ earlier chiding. Louis hasn’t come yet and he hasn’t given Harry permission to do so, either.

“Harry, please. Please. Touch me,” Louis growls. And Harry can’t. He can’t because his hands are bound and as hard as he pulls at them, the knot does not give.

“Harry, I need you,” Louis urges, and Harry’s helpless, his release overtaking him as he comes, pumping wet and hard up and into Louis. He cries, stunned by the force of it and presses his face into the back of Louis’ neck, trying to calm, desperate for his breath back.

“I can’t help you,” he pants out. It might be minutes later or only a few seconds. Louis has settled on him, and Harry can feel his come dripping out of Louis’ arse and back down his softening cock.

He hears the noise of skin on skin. Louis is working himself, slick and fast. Harry opens his eyes and digs his chin deeper in Louis’ shoulder as watches the head of Louis’ cock disappear and reappear atop his fist. Their cheeks brush, Harry’s mostly smooth face against Louis stubble, and Louis spurts, a fountain a white gushing up, high enough at first that a drop hits Harry’s chin.

Louis turns his face so that their lips are aligned, but he doesn’t kiss Harry, not right away. First, he whispers, “Are you alright?”

Harry nips at Louis’ lips. He doesn’t want to answer Louis, doesn’t want to talk at all. Instead, he wants Louis’ body to stay close and warm all around him and he wants Louis mouth against his own. Louis doesn’t press him again for an answer, instead taking control of the kiss, lifting one hand from the ground and burying it in Harry’s hair, completely dislodging the silken scarf.

Eventually, Louis pulls away. With his thumb he rubs off the drying spot of come on Harry’s face. Harry smiles.

“Time to sleep,” Louis says and stands, slowly, carefully. Harry’s suddenly aware of the wetness between his legs. His own come is beginning to congeal there. He wants to stand, too, to gather his clothes and wipe himself down, but his limbs feel fixed, not heavy exactly, but rooted, so he remains still and waits for Louis.

Louis returns with a small basin of water and cloth and he crouches to rub Harry clean. The water is cool against his still heated skin, and he looks into Louis’ eyes, feeling more than a little grateful.

Still, voice thick, he says, “M’ better at washing up than you. More… thorough.”   

Louis raises an eyebrow and sets down the bowl. “Yeah? Not tied up, you’re not.”

Harry pouts, but he can’t dispute the point.

“Actually,,” Louis says, voice hesitating, tentative. “Can I unbind you, now? Will you behave?” He’s already moving behind Harry and lifting his arms to inspect the knot.

Jesus, he mutters, prodding gently at Harry’s tender skin. Harry thinks about his question. He’d been happy, eager, to be bound up earlier, but now, as he contemplates the few hours of darkness before morning and the possibility of sleeping through them tucked up against Louis’ chest, he’s feeling rather differently.

“Please,” he says. “Undo them.”  

Louis deftly undoes the knot, his rough fingers light and sure. The rope tumbles to the floor with a soft thud. Harry’s arms fall to his sides and his shoulders ache. He shakes his muscles loose, watching Louis stand. He’s smiling as he offers a hand out to Harry and then pulls him up by the forearm, inches above the sore ring where the rope had burned him.

Louis does not let go of his arm once Harry’s standing. Instead, he lifts Harry’s wrists to his mouth and covers them in kisses. Lips against Harry’s pulse, he says, “We should put ointment on them.”

“Tomorrow,” Harry replies. He doesn’t mind the pain, not really, and he’d rather curl up beside Louis and sleep.

They climb into the hammock. Harry needs a few solid tugs from Louis. His arms feel useless, like jelly and he’s not the most graceful person, otherwise.  Louis laughs at his clumsiness, but says nothing, only kisses him on the chin several times before closing his eyes and breathing deeply.

Harry’d heard (from Nick) that Louis was a heartless tyrant. This appears to be empirically false. Harry can feel Louis’ pulse, quick and strong, and from the corner of his eye he can see the dark black arches of heart-shaped tattoo.

Harry thinks he’d like his own, to match, but realistic-looking, an image of the one thudding, sure and true and hopeful, inside him. He can use a portion of his winnings from Nick to make the purchase.

~