If You Wanna Try Me On
To be fair, Harry’d been half asleep when Niall convinced him to put in his CV in the first place. Like, Harry wants to be a proper serious journalist--he’s not about to give up that dream in favour of becoming a personal assistant at a fashion magazine, or...whatever. Harry’s not actually all that sure what Tomlinson Styles even is, beyond his ticket to fame or any of the other things Niall’d spouted off at him, but when he shows up for the interview and is unceremoniously shoved into an office with the Tomlinson part of that equation, all Harry can really think about is that he would like to be a Tomlinson-Styles.
In fact, Harry would like to be a Tomlinson-Styles as soon as possible, because the Tomlinson part of the equation has a feathery fringe sweeping elegantly across his temples, cheekbones that Harry’s pretty sure could cut glass, a fine dusting of stubble lining his jaw, and eyelashes to die for. He’s also stood up from behind his desk and is looking at Harry with a half smile of amusement.
Harry very frantically tries to remember if he’d buttoned up his top this morning.
Of course, failure to dress suitably for working at aFashion Magazine (because if the name hadn’t given it away, the naked dress form in the corner of Mr. Tomlinson’s office definitely had), becomes the least of Harry’s concerns when he goes to step away from the door and promptly falls flat on his face.
“Oops,” he says miserably into the carpet. It’s a very nice carpet--Mr. Tomlinson is a very nice person and probably entirely deserving of the reverence his senior assistant Liam had afforded him when Harry’d been weaving about the offices trying not to trip over his own two feet. Evidently he’d failed on that front, though that was to be expected, because Niall had hidden all of his shoes except the ones with the heel.
“Hi,” says Mr. Tomlinson, sounding amused. He’s got a Yorkshire accent. Harry wants the carpet to swallow him whole. “Are you alright, then?”
Harry vaguely remembers Liam calling him Louis. That’s probably not something he’ll be getting to do anytime soon, if he stays on the floor. Then again, he’s not sure a second glance at Louis’ unfairly blue eyes will do him any good, so he settles for sticking the hand holding his CV in the air. Mr. Tomlinson’s unfairly blue eyes. Mr. Tomlinson, full stop. Mr. Tomlinson could be Harry’s full stop anytime--
“I’m fine,” Harry says, a little bit shrilly. He debates beating his head against the carpet a bit in order to get his thoughts back under control. “I’m here about the personal assistant job?”
“Right.” There’s a pause, and then a pair of expensive dress shoes come into Harry’s line of vision. Mr. Tomlinson takes Harry’s CV and then pauses. “Do you need a hand?”
Harry is thankful for the floor, because his honest-to-God response would be to make a terrible joke. “Yes, please,” he gets out, and then the world blurs as Mr. Tomlinson hauls Harry back up into an upright position. “Thank you, um,” Harry says, reaching up a hand to mess with his hair and pausing when he finds it gelled into place. “Sorry about the whole...falling...thing.”
Mr. Tomlinson throws his head back and laughs. “God, don’t apologise for falling,” he says, eyes crinkling at the corners, as he looks over Harry’s resume. “Now, Harry Styles, is it?”
He has a very attractive neck, which is doing nothing to help Harry not want into his pants, but Harry is a bloody professional and he will not succumb to such carnal needs. “Harry,” he agrees. “Erm, lovely to meet you.”
Mr. Tomlinson repeats Harry’s words back to him under his breath, before setting Harry’s CV down on the desk and extending a hand for him to shake.
He’s got a great grip, which only makes matters worse, and is grinning crookedly at Harry. “So what brings you to Tomlinson Styles?”
Harry really can’t help himself, in the end. “The name,” he says finally, because there’s no way he’s telling this terribly attractive man that the reason he’s fallen face first into his expensive carpet is because he’s jobless and willing to do anything barring stripping. “Like, Tomlinson-Styles? My name’s Styles, so...” Oh God. Harry has not thought this through at all. He drags a hand up to rub at the back of his neck, because he doesn’t want to risk getting hair gel everywhere. “I’m sorry,” he says. “I, um, am very much out of work, and my flatmate--”
“So you’ve got no experience in fashion, then?” interrupts Mr. Tomlinson, but before Harry can argue that point (because what an assumption to make based on the admittedly godawful outfit Niall’d stuffed him into this morning), the second most attractive man Harry has ever seen in his life walks into the office.
This one is razor thin with dark hair quiffed up off his forehead and a surreal pout. He knocks on the inside of the office door once he’s let himself in, smiles warmly at Harry, and sets a stack of files on Mr. Tomlinson’s desk without comment.
He gets about halfway to the door before Louis breaks, picking up one of his pens and chucking it at him. “Oi, Zayn,” he says, grinning. “Don’t be rude to my potential assistants.”
The man--Zayn--just smiles, and stays silent all the way out of the office. He leaves the door open when he goes, pausing to talk to Liam, who Harry isn’t surprised appears to have been watching the entire conversation with narrowed eyes.
Louis leans towards Harry conspiratorially. “Zayn’s a real sweetheart when you get to know him,” he says. “Honestly, he’s just jealous.” He says the last bit much louder, and Zayn definitely hears him, because the other man gives him the finger. “He wishes he could assist me in the ways that Harry can, don’t you?”
Harry has to work very hard to keep his mouth shut. He probably shouldn’t make inappropriate jokes with his maybe boss. Even if his maybe boss looks like he’d enjoy it. And when did he start thinking of him as Louis?
“Anyway.” Louis rocks back on his heels and smiles with a corner of his mouth. “You’re obviously not here because you want to work in fashion.”
Harry sighs. “Well, no, but--”
“Louis?” It’s Liam, looking a terrible mix of apologetic and pleased. “It’s Ed--”
“Right, okay.” Louis’ lips twist, and he reaches for Harry’s CV, picking up the pile of papers and looking between it and Harry for a long moment. Harry tries his best to look eager to do whatever it is personal assistants do.
“6:15 tomorrow morning?” Louis says eventually.
Harry manages not to choke. “Of course,” he manages. “I mean, um, thank you.”
Louis smiles at him one last time, before reaching for the phone on his desk. “Sheeran,” he crows, as Harry gets his feet to cooperate and walks out of the office. “How have you been?”
It turns out Harry needn’t have worried about buttoning up his top, because Niall’d apparently decided to stuff Harry into a sleeveless jumper and quite a lot of tweed. Harry supposes he should feel grateful that his flatmate had left him in his best trousers, because God knows the somewhat gratuitous hip swaying Harry does on his way out of Louis’ office would have had less effect were Harry not wearing his pulling jeans.
He swears he sees Zayn smirking at him in the reflection as he passes, but before he can think more on that, Niall texts him.
have u survived?
Harry frowns down at his phone. why’d you hide my shirts? he texts Niall as he passes Liam with a smile.
Louis’ senior personal assistant eyes him in a way that reminds Harry of nature documentaries, but he smiles back as well, before snapping at whoever’s on the phone for Louis.
because you like to show up to important events with your tits out, haz, Niall explains, with all the patience of an Irishman talking to a small child. i couldn’t let you ruin this interview because of your tits.
my tits are lovely, Harry tells Niall, as he reaches the lift. but what does that have to do with anything?
well you want to be a journalist, yea? Niall replies.
Harry pauses. yes?
then why aren’t you thanking me?
Niall has very odd ideas about what it means to be a journalist, evidently.
Harry presses the button for the lift.
what is it you think journalism entails, exactly? he sends to Niall.
not flashing your tits, Niall replies promptly, just as the lift doors ding. so did you get the job?
Harry steps into the lift. you’re looking at harry styles, junior personal assistant to louis tomlinson, he texts back.
“Niall.” It’s possible Harry’s quite a bit drunk. “Niall--I think Louis said I have to be in tomorrow at 6:15.” He has to shout to be heard over the blaring music from the club.
“What?” Niall’s got at least three empty glasses sprawled across the bar in front of him and Perrie in his lap, so obviously he’s not going to be doing any of the driving required to get them home. Perrie, at least, looks chagrined but sober, so Harry resigns himself to making her a fabulous breakfast in thanks.
“My job,” he says, when Niall shows no sign of speaking. “At Tomlinson Styles.” He makes a face. More alcohol is probably needed. He signals to the bartender, who sighs, but pours Harry another drink.
“Oh yeah.” Niall drags that last word out, lips curving upwards. “I bet you’d like to be a Tomlinson-Styles.” He nicks Harry’s drink with a surprisingly deft hand, pecking Perrie on the cheek in the process. He also maybe tries to get a grope in.
Perrie sighs and slaps away his hand, but doesn’t get off his lap or touch her own drink. Definitely a fabulous breakfast, then.
“I’ve already made that joke, sorry,” Harry says, with as much dignity he can manage. He tries to convey to Perrie with his eyes just how sorry he is. “So you can’t, like--there’s only so many jokes we can make about Louis and mine’s last name...”
“Oh, I dunno,” Perrie interrupts, shaking her hair out a little. It’s pink this week, shockingly bright and doing nothing to help Harry’s headache. “I think it’s pretty brilliant, actually.” She looks very longingly at the drink in front of her. “You definitely should marry him.”
Harry flushes to the tips of his ears. “I’m not marrying my boss, thanks,” he mumbles. “Besides, he thinks I like tweed. And, like, pomade.”
Perrie doesn’t appear to have heard him. “Maybe it’ll get Jesy to shut up about him, actually--always ‘Louis Tomlinson’ this and ‘Tomlinson Styles’ that--” She grins. “If you marry him, at least I don’t have to pretend to be interested in your sordid love affair--”
“I’m not marrying my boss,” Harry repeats, louder and firmer. “And what’s the big deal about the magazine anyway--it’s just a fashion magazine--”
Niall breaks away from the very serious conversation he’d been having with the man next to them about the proper way to fold napkins. “Harry.” He looks surprisingly alert. “First rule to employment is do not knock your employers.”
Harry flushes a little. “I’m not knocking anybody,” he protests. “I’m just not quite so sure what the fuss is--”
Niall opens his mouth.
Harry slaps a hand over it. “Nope, no, sorry,” he says quickly. “I absolutely refuse to hear the whole ‘stepping stone on the ladder to famous journalist’ spiel again.”
Niall looks hurt.
Harry pulls his hand away.
“But Tomlinson Styles is but a stone on the ladder to fame--”
He slaps his hand back down.
Niall licks him.
Harry sighs. “Yeah, but Niall,” he whines. “What even is a junior personal assistant?”
“Well, why don’t you call what’s his face?” says Perrie, when Harry doesn’t drag his hand off Niall’s mouth to let him respond. “The senior assistant--Liam?”
Harry blinks. “It’s like twelve in the morning,” he says.
“Right, true--” Perrie tries to say.
“But he did give me his number, so...” Harry finishes, fishing his mobile out of his pocket with his free hand.
Niall makes a noise against Harry’s hand and twists around, nearly unseating Perrie in the process.
She goes for his mobile, grabbing it out of his hands before he can do more than thumb in his passcode, and glare at him like an overbearing mother. “Harry Styles,” she snaps. “You cannot call your coworkers at twelve in the morning to ask what your job entails.”
Harry whines at her. “But Pezza.”
“Perrie’s right, Haz,” says Niall from around Harry’s hand. He’s been suckling on one of Harry’s fingers for more of the conversation than Harry is comfortable with, and he very quickly tugs his hand free with a grimace.
“Niall,” he groans, wiping his hand on his jeans.
Niall looks smug. “Calling Liam would be a terrible idea,” he says.
Harry sighs. “Yeah, I know,” he grumbles. “I don’t think Liam likes me much, anyway.”
“Well you do have no experience in fashion,” Perrie points out. When Harry turns to her, affronted, she adds, “Beyond your absurdly expensive fashion taste. And no offense to either of you, but what you left the house in did nothing to help with that.”
Harry turns to glare at Niall, who raises both his hands. “Don’t look at me, I’m not the one who owned the tweed in the first place.”
“It was a present from my mum!” Harry exclaims, offended. “And speaking of, I do not to turn up to important events with my tits out!” He turns to Perrie when he finishes his sentence, looking for her to back him up.
She just flicks her eyes downwards pointedly.
Harry follows her gaze. “Pulling in a bar is not an important event!” he says shrilly, but he does reach up to start doing up a few buttons. He maybe messes them up so that the shirt sits unevenly against the birds on his collarbones, but like, that is beside the point. Oh God. Louis doesn’t know Harry has tattoos. He turns to Niall, aghast. “Niall,” he says. “Louis thinks I use pomade.”
There’s a very short pause.
“So I vote we get a cab,” Perrie says eventually, signaling to the bartender that she’d like a glass of whatever Niall’s been having.
Harry just puts his head on the bar and whines.
“There, there, Hazza.” Niall pats him on the back. “How awful could it be?”
It turns out Harry is essentially an over-glorified secretary. He’s not even really in charge, since he reports to Liam, who reports directly to Louis, and he basically spends the first day pretending that he always has his hair sealed to his head and trying not to seem too absurdly hungover.
From the way Liam keeps shooting him unimpressed looks, Harry reckons he’s failing on both of those fronts.
To make matters even worse, Louis isn’t even in this morning--Harry officially got the go ahead to call him by his first name from Liam this morning--so there’s nothing for him to look forward to every time he gets up to sharpen his pencil and wonder how he got here. Essentially, Harry is Louis’ over-glorified secondary secretary, and he is very, very, very hungover.
Also, his phone will not stop buzzing and telling him that a rainbow and a pot of gold is calling him. Or a honey pot, since there’d been no pot of gold and Harry’d made do. Bloody emoji. Bloody Niall.
Harry picks up the phone. “Niall,” he hisses, answering. “It is my first day and I am working--”
The office phone rings twice before Liam looks up, purses his lips disapprovingly at Harry, and answers it for him.
Harry tries to convey to him just how sorry he is, before snapping, “and I’m going to bloody murder you once I get home--if this shit doesn’t come out of my hair--”
“So, Harry,” Niall interrupts. “Which floor do you work on, again?”
Harry blinks. “What?”
“Twenty, was it?” Niall continues. “I thought so. You wouldn’t happen to know a smashing young man with cheekbones and a quiff, yeah?”
Harry blinks again. “Like--my boss?” he says, voice a bit high.
There’s a sound of muffled laughter on the line, and then a voice that is very much not Niall is saying, “Hello, Harry.”
Harry pauses. “Mr. Malik?” he decides eventually.
“Zayn,” the man corrects. “Has Liam not gone over the policy about guests with you?”
Harry debates jumping to his death. “No,” he says. “I mean, yes.” He wracks his brain for the lecture he’s relatively certain Liam gave him. “I do not know a Niall.”
“He’s saying he doesn’t know a Niall,” Zayn says eventually.
“Oh, you bastard,” says Niall. “I’m going to piss in your bed--I mean.” He breaks off. “Harry, come on.”
Harry sighs. “Sorry,” he tells Zayn. “I didn’t know he was coming, actually.”
“I brought you lunch,” Niall adds. “I promise I’m not here as a spy for the enemy to steal your secrets.”
“That’s good.” Zayn sounds amused, at least.
“I mean, assuming you’re fancy enough to even have enemies that I could be potentially spying for,” Niall continues.
If he were anyone else, Harry would wager that he’s nervous, but that’s absurd, because it’s Niall.
Then again, Zayn’s cheekbones...Harry gives himself a shake.
“Of course,” Zayn is saying. “We do, incidentally.” He pauses. “Or, we are?”
“I should hope so,” Niall says, and then there’s the sound of him maybe patting Zayn on the chest, or something. Harry’s eyes narrow into slits. “Otherwise I think the Burberry waistcoat might be too much.”
The image of Zayn Malik in a Burberry waistcoat is enough to sustain Harry’s wank bank for the rest of his life. Not that he needs it, what with Louis waltzing around without buttoning his shirts all the way up (Harry maybe sees where Niall’s coming from) and his arse. Like. Louis’ arse alone will be keeping Harry and his right hand company for a very long time. Harry might be drooling.
To his left, Liam hangs up with whomever had been calling, slamming the phone down a little louder than necessary, and jolting Harry out of whatever Louis induced daze he’d been in.
“Right, okay, thanks, Ni, but I’ve really got to go and actually, you know, work.”
“It’s alright, I’ll just leave it with Zayn, then,” says Niall, sounding godawfully smug. “See you back at home.”
Harry is left staring blankly down at his contact photo for Niall (an almost Picasso like closeup of his left nostril) for what feels like hours. It’s probably only been minutes. Niall’s nose really is rather cute.
“Louis is on his way in,” says Liam, interrupting Harry’s less than logical thoughts. “You should probably put that away.”
Harry jumps, phone clattering down onto the carpeted floor before he can stop himself.
He gets up to get it, bending down to reach the damn thing and stuffing it into one of the drawers at the desk, just in time for Louis himself to come rustling through smelling of expensive cologne and freshly cut grass. Harry’s brow furrows reflexively, trying to place the odd mixture of smells.
“Morning, Harold,” Louis says brightly, plucking his sunglasses off the bridge of his nose and waving. He sets his coat down on Harry’s desk with an apologetic smile. “Sorry--Zayn’s gone and nicked my coat rack as some sort of prank thing.”
Harry just nods brokenly and tries not to look like he’s about two seconds from swallowing his own tongue. He’s not sure if it’s possible, but Louis’ eyes have possibly gotten even more blue. There’s probably even a word for the blue of his eyes--like beyond simply blue, which Liam had been very quick to inform Harry the first time he tried to comment on anything magazine related that morning. “Cool,” he says, voice sounding very far away.
Louis tilts his head at him, amused, but polite.
Harry frantically backpedals. “I mean, not cool,” he corrects. “That rudy Zayn.”
Liam makes a strangled coughing noise from over by his own desk which sounds very much like the word ‘rudy’. Harry glances down at his shoes and wonders if he should just fall and brain himself on the desk to get it over with, because he reckons death would be kinder than this.
“Right.” Louis doesn’t look like he wants to fire Harry, although he also doesn’t look like he has any interest in making him a Tomlinson-Styles. “I’m just going to go, then.”
He heads into his office at a slightly more sedate pace, glancing back over his shoulder curiously, and Harry trips over his own feet to get back to his desk.
Liam is looking no less composed in front of his own computer, although the stack of paperwork on his desk is much smaller than Harry’s.
“Oh, and, Harry?” Louis pokes his head out of the office again.
Harry stumbles to attention. “Yes?”
“Your flies are undone.”
So that’s how day one goes, essentially.
It’s not till week three that Harry finally cracks the Liam code, at which point work stops being quite so awfully boring and starts being almost exciting.
He’s in the middle of handling arrangements for a meeting Louis’ got with at least three designers (and trying to act like he doesn’t have some of their stuff hanging in his closet while not shitting his pants at the same time), when Liam wanders in late to work. He looks a bit worse for wear, sort of fraying at the edges, and it’s not till Louis breezes in after him and pats him on the back before dumping his coat on Harry’s desk, that Harry notices.
When Louis touches him, Liam brightens visibly, before seeming to shake himself out of it.
Harry blinks. Finishes his conversation with Ed Sheeran. Debates buying Louis a damn coat rack.
“So, Liam,” he says. “How long have you and Louis been together?”
Liam promptly fumbles the stack of folders he’d been sorting through and they all go fluttering to the floor, a fact which neither Harry nor Louis fail to notice.
Harry gets up to help immediately, mentally punching the air and patting himself on the back, and Louis calls from his office, “had too many last night, Payno?”
“No--sorry--fuck off--I mean--” sputters Liam, bright red and refusing to meet Harry’s eyes. “I’m fine, Tommo, thanks.”
Louis laughs, but doesn’t push the issue.
Harry hands Liam the last folder wordlessly. He’s still punching the air mentally, but has proceeded to cackling to himself as opposed to patting himself on the back.
“Thanks,” says Liam.
Harry nods, and heads back to his desk to continue arranging Louis’ calendar for the week.
“We’re not,” Liam quickly adds, not looking away from the folders in his hands. “In case you were, um, wondering.”
Harry nods. “Right, my mistake,” he says, trying to not feel too bad for the lad. “But, uh, unrelated, my mate and I were going to go out and have a few tonight if you want?”
“Oh, I don’t know.” Liam looks torn. “I really shouldn’t.”
“Payno.” Louis’ voice startles them both. “Take the nice man up on his offer.”
“It won’t kill you to have fun once in a while.”
Liam looks a bit terrified, probably because this entire conversation means Louis heard most of the stuff beforehand.
Harry focuses on Louis. “The nice man?” he says, sticking his head around to look at him.
Louis blinks up from where he’s reviewing the latest cover sketches. “Do you disagree?” he says. “Are you not a nice man, Harry not Harold Styles?” He licks his lips. “I don’t think bad men can have hair like yours.”
Harry sighs, suddenly less amused. He’s not used to having a job that gets him home exhausted and after dark, nor is he used to having to shower the godawful hair-product out of his hair every single night. “Yeah, yeah, laugh it up,” he says, almost self-conscious. “We can’t all have a fringe like yours.” He almost adds a ‘Tomlinson’ to the tail end of that sentence, but that feels almost too matey for the situation. Louis is Harry’s boss.
Speaking of Liam.
Liam looks mostly glad the attention is off him, but when he catches Harry staring he flushes again. Harry almost feels bad for him.
Louis appears to be preening. “My fringe is fabulous, isn’t it?” he says, grinning.
Harry and Liam both nod, Liam a bit miserably, and Harry with barely kept back amusement.
“Mmm.” Louis puts the tip of a pen in his mouth. “But back to work, yeah.”
Harry and Liam go back to work. If Harry makes sure to tease Liam relentless for the rest of the day, that’s only because Liam’s not agreed to go out with him.
“So, like, Liam likes Louis, then?” Niall asks, from outside the shower.
Harry gives up on ignoring him and sighs, sticking a hand out the curtain. “Hey, Ni, can you grab me the new bottle of shampoo?”
Niall hands him the bottle.
Harry blindly opens it and slaps a bunch on his hair, and then pauses, inhaling. “Niall,” he says slowly. “What colour was the bottle you gave me?”
Niall pauses. “Erm, orange?” he says. “Or yellow? I dunno--why?”
Harry blinks suds out of his eyes and looks down at the shampoo bottle. It’s definitely Perrie’s; he’s definitely going to smell like apples tomorrow. He sighs. “Never mind.”
Niall doesn’t seem bothered. “But back to Liam?”
“They’re very good friends,” Harry explains, squeezing more of Perrie’s shampoo out onto his hands and lathering it into his curls. He almost likes the smell, and Perrie’s shampoo is for coloured hair, so it’s probably more gentle or something, which is also a bonus. If only Harry could just forgo the pomade for one bloody day. “Liam probably wouldn’t mind getting into Louis’ trousers.”
Niall makes a humming noise. “To be fair neither would you,” he says. “Or Zayn.”
Harry winks open an eye. “Oh, is it Zayn, then?” he says, but his stomach is a bit tighter. On the one hand, of course Zayn wants in Louis’ trousers--everyone wants in Louis’ trousers, the man’s trousers are unfairly well fitted and he basically storms around the offices at Tomlinson Styles like he owns them. Normally Harry would find that arrogant, but seeing as Louis does in fact own those very offices (and everyone in the damn building), it’s just hot. If only Louis would stop being overly polite with Harry...
“You call your boss Louis,” says Niall. Harry would guess he’s pointing at him. “You do not get to be all high and mighty at me.”
Harry sighs and closes his eyes, tipping his head back to wash the shampoo out. “Right, okay,” he says. “Fair point.”
Niall’s breathing sounds smug. “Mmhmm,” he purrs. “Now, back to the Liam thing.”
Harry finishes with the shampoo and looks around for Perrie’s matching conditioner. She’s probably going to take one whiff of his curls tonight and murder him, but it will be worth it. “There is no Liam thing,” he says. “Why are you so invested, anyway--”
“I’m just looking out for you, mate,” says Niall. “Also, I, um, feel kind of bad, since, like, it’s all my fault you’ve got the job in the first place--”
“Niall.” Harry sticks his head out the shower, suds dripping into his eyes and water splashing onto the tiled floor. “Yesterday I was in a meeting with Zayn Malik and Victoria Beckham herself. Don’t feel bad.”
Niall pauses. “I forget sometimes that you have an entire wardrobe of fashionable coats,” he says eventually.
Harry snorts. “Right, like that’s possible,” he says. “You made me be Cruella de Vil for Halloween last year, yeah.”
Niall’s lips quirk and he hoists himself back up onto the counter near the sink. “However could I forget that,” he says, amused. “Put the dye in your hair and everything.”
Harry maybe tugs a bit harder at his hair at the memory. Who would have thought that white face paint wouldn’t come out of hair all that well? (Probably the same person who thought to put white face paint in hair in the first place. Read: Niall. Always fucking Niall.) “Thanks for that, you twat,” he says. “Wouldn’t come out for days.”
Niall doesn’t seem all that repentant. “I mean, it was the perfect costume. You’ve got so many damn coats, you know.”
Harry sticks his head out the shower again. “She wanted to murder puppies, Niall!” he says shrilly. “I do not want to murder puppies!”
There’s a moment of silence, before Perrie’s voice floats into the room from outside the door. “Right, okay,” she says. “That’s great, Hazza. Lovely to hear.”
Harry retreats back into the shower to finish washing the conditioner out his hair. “Hi, Perrie,” he says glumly. “How was work?”
“Fine.” Perrie lets herself into the loo as well, because it was too much for Harry to hope he could have a shower without his flatmates buggering in to bother him about their lives. “How ‘bout you?”
Harry yawns and opens his mouth to explain.
“Liam’s in love with Louis,” says Niall, before Harry can. “But that’s alright, because Louis only thinks of Liam as a friend. I got it from Zayn.”
Harry rolls his eyes and grabs his fluffy, yellow loofah from where it’s hanging off the faucet. “Oh, so because Zayn says--”
“Ahh,” Perrie says, over the noise of Harry and the shower. “So how does this help Harry and his never ending quest to get into Louis Tomlinson’s pants?”
Harry pauses in scrubbing around his butterfly. “It is not a never ending quest,” he points out, turning around so that he can get at his back. “And also--”
“Well, see, I think it’s a good thing,” says Niall, ignoring Harry as well. “Because it means that Louis is not opposed to dick every now and then. Just not Liam’s dick. But Harry’s, maybe--hey, Haz, has your dick gotten any bigger since I last saw it?”
Harry chokes on shower water.
“We’ve lived together for too long,” says Perrie, muffled.
“I used your shampoo,” says Harry. “Sorry.”
“Awesome,” says Perrie.
“But, actually,” says Niall. “Has it grown?”
It turns out having drinks with Liam is the best idea Harry’s had since he ditched Niall’s shoe choice in favour of anything else. Liam’s actually pretty brilliant--he’s been working for Louis for ages, has sat through the last two junior assistants who were both lovely girls named Hannah and Eleanor. He’s slightly more lightweight than Harry’s used to, but, granted, his usual company is Perrie Edwards and an Irishman. So it’s not that that’s all that hard. And anyway, neither Niall nor Perrie are any fun when they’re drunk, since mostly they rib Harry out and prevent him from pulling people in his admittedly low cut tops. Conversely, Liam is chatty to the point of being amusing, and Harry is seriously considering telling the barman to stop serving him.
Niall and Perrie are off supposedly getting more drinks, but really Perrie is just gossiping with Leigh-Anne and Jade and Niall is having an intense conversation with his phone next to them. This means Harry is alone, when Liam drops the bomb.
“We kept having to ask them to leave because they all fell in love with Louis,” he explains, somewhere around round three. His drink sloshes a bit on the bar. Harry is definitely cutting him off. Only.
“What?” he says.
“It was pretty bad,” Liam continues. He either hasn’t noticed Harry’s choking, or is too drunk to do more than apologetically wave at Harry with his drink. “Lou was completely oblivious, and, like. They were proper in love with him.”
Harry finishes choking on his mouthful of whatever fruity thing Niall’s given him.“Oh, wow,” he says hoarsely. “That’s, um, really awful.”
Like a saint, Niall appears at his side. “What’s awful?” he says. He’s not got any more alcoholic drinks, but Harry thinks that’s probably wise.
“All the previous junior assistants kept falling in love with Louis,” says Liam. “I was just telling Haz about it.”
Niall looks between Harry and Liam with wide eyes. “Really?” he says, voice high.
Harry manages a nod. “Funny, right?” he says. They both sound like they’ve inhaled helium.
Thankfully, Liam doesn’t notice.
The next day both Harry and Liam are hungover, and Louis is smug and pretty, and as it turns out, a terrible, terrible, person. In the three weeks it took Harry to warm up to Liam, Louis’ not done much beyond dump expensive coats all over Harry’s desk, be unfairly good at his job, and essentially make it very hard for Harry to be professional. He’s funny, he’s diligent, everyone at Tomlinson Styles basically worships the ground he walked upon. So of course it was too good to be true.
Just before lunch, Liam’s phone dings with a text, and he opens it with an eye roll, laughing, before sticking out his tongue to respond.
Harry looks up from where he’s been highlighting key-notes for Louis’ next closed-door meeting to blink at him curiously. “Who was that?”
Liam doesn’t look away, concentrating incredibly hard for a text message, before turning an alarming shade of green. “Loo,” he says, voice cracking.
“Loo,” Harry agrees quickly, gesticulating that he’ll get the phone. Liam gives him a thankful smile before racing out of the office. Harry reckons Liam won’t joining him for lunch, at the rate he’s going.
h i’m hungry. Harry blinks down at his mobile a few times. He’s had Louis’ number since the third day, because getting lost while searching for fabric stores was something he would only be allowed to do once (Harry’s done it three times, and Louis mostly laughs at him and sends him sad emoji, so obviously he’s doing something right). The fact that his boss refuses to properly spell will never cease to astound him.
Um, Harry tries eventually. Okay?
you should help me i’m ur boss, Louis replies promptly.
Sure? Harry types back. Is there a reason you’re texting me when I’m right outside your office? is what Harry really means, but he’s not sure he and Louis have reached that point in their relationship.
Louis proceeds to rattle off the most ridiculous cake order Harry has ever seen in his life, name drops at least three bakeries Harry is most definitely certain do not exist, and tells him to have the cake back to him in the next four hours.
Harry is left staring at his phone, Louis’ office door, and then the pile of paperwork he’s got on his desk.
Are you serious? Harry texts back, careful to capitalize and everything. Louis may have a propensity for smiley-faces, but Harry will be polite.
Louis sends him back the devil emoji; Louis Tomlinson is an absolute arsehole.
Neither of the bakeries exist. Harry decides to spend fifteen minutes wandering around London just to be certain, but from the moment Louis bloody Tomlinson sent him that text, he knew. The part of him that hasn’t shut up about marrying Louis from the moment he saw him is incredibly sad about it, because how dare Harry spend the last few weeks frantically wanking about such a terrible person.
When the fifteen minutes are up, he ends up back outside the offices of Tomlinson Styles on the phone with Niall. “I hate you,” he tells his friend when he picks up the phone. The giant gold lettering joining his and Louis’ surnames on the wall next to him is mocking and cruel. “And I hate my surname, as well.”
Niall pauses. “Hazza,” he says seriously. “Whatever you do, do not take your mum’s surname, kay?”
Harry’s brow furrows. “What, why?” he sputters. “My mum’s surname is lovely--”
“I have done many ridiculous things in my life,” continues Niall, in the understatement of the year, “but I refuse to have a best mate named Harry Cox.”
Harry chokes. “Niall!” he manages. “You can’t just say--”
“What, hairy cocks?” says Niall, unfazed. “Because that’s what people will hear when you say your name, H, I’m just looking out for you.”
Harry supposes that is a fair point. “Okay, thanks, I suppose,” he says, trying not to be amused by what his name could have been.
“You’re laughing on the inside, aren’t you?” says Niall dryly. “Why are we even friends, again?”
“Niall, have you ever heard of a mint chocolate chip cake?” Harry interrupts quickly.
Niall stops mid tirade. “No, but that sounds delicious,” he says. “Why, have you got one?”
He sounds about three seconds away from asking Harry for a bite. “No, Niall,” he tells him, before he can. “But I kind of need one.” He sighs. “For Louis. For, like, business reasons or...something.”
Niall is probably nodding his head. “Mmm,” he says, in a way that suggests he’s leering and maybe winking. “Business reasons.”
Harry reaches up to drag a hand through his hair, and then realises he can’t. “Yes, Niall,” he says a bit sharply. “And seeing as it’s your fault I’m stuck working for him in the first place, you’re going to get your arse to Tescos and buy me some milk and flour and eggs and mint.”
Niall seems to pick up on his irritation. “But not chocolate chips? Didn’t Pezza eat all of the chocolate chips?”
“Niall.” Harry starts walking. “What kind of flatmate would I be if I let Perrie eat all of your chocolate chips?”
“A terrible one,” Niall says promptly. “Now chin up--we’re going to make Louis Tomlinson the best cake he’s ever seen in his life.”
The cake’s actually pretty amazing, if Harry does say so himself. He’s actually managed to make it taste like the tub of ice cream Niall picked up to be safe, and has pulled out all the stops to use all of his former bakery skill to put some icing roses around the rim. All in all, the cake is a marvel, and Harry is very proud when he stumbles into the offices carrying it in a box and covered in flour.
Louis and Liam appear to have been in the middle of a rather frantic discussion at Harry’s desk when he arrives, but Liam at least manages to get his act together long enough to spring into action when Harry and the cake wobble worryingly.
Louis seems at a loss for word. “Is that?” he starts to ask.
“A mint chocolate chip cake?” Harry replies. “It is in fact one of those.” He sets it down on the desk, taking pride in the thump it makes, and turns to look at Louis smugly. That’ll show Louis not to boss his employees around by text messages.
“You,” Louis says. “There’s no such thing as a mint chocolate chip cake?”
Liam leans over and tugs the box open, poking a finger into the icing on the side and popping it into his mouth. “This cake would say otherwise, Tommo,” he says, around the digit.
Harry narrows his eyes at him and reaches for a stapler to brandish menacingly at him. “Not in my bakery, Mr.,” he says.
Liam raises both of his hands guiltily and takes a step back.
“Bakery?” Louis’ voice sounds like a cat used it for a scratching post.
Harry sets down the stapler and gives him his full attention. “I used to work at one back home,” he says. “Before uni.”
Louis swallows. His Adam’s apple bobs. He’s still very attractive despite the arseholeish behavior. Harry debates stepping on his own toe.
“You,” he says again. “You actually made me a mint chocolate chip cake.”
Harry blinks. “Erm, yeah, isn’t that what you wanted?”
He’s not quite sure how it happened, but all of a sudden he has an armful of Louis Tomlinson, whose hair does in fact smell as wonderful as it looks. Louis sniffles into his neck and Harry awkwardly pats him on the back.
In another quick second, Louis pulls back from him, decidedly not crying, to give him a quick once over. “You’re filthy,” he says, shaking his head. “Come on--I’ve got something of mine you can borrow.”
Harry follows him blankly, shooting Liam a somewhat helpless look as they go.
Louis shoves the t-shirt at him quickly, before turning around to give him some semblance of privacy. Harry blinks a few more times. “I don’t understand,” he says finally.
Louis doesn’t turn to face him. “I’m really sorry, Harry,” he says, sounding embarrassed. “I honestly thought Liam’d told you about my thing.”
Harry reaches down to undo the buttons on his shirt, still confused. “Your thing,” he repeats.
“Sometimes I get bored,” Louis says, carefully. “And, um.” He reaches up with a hand to rub at the back of his neck nervously.
Harry gets the dirty shirt off and stick his heads into the sleeves of Louis’. It’s a dark, faded grey and says Rolling Stones on it. Harry is secretly thrilled, and reminded of that time at university when he was lucky enough to get a Tweet from Mick Jagger himself. “You didn’t actually want me to get you a mint chocolate chip cake,” Harry says slowly.
Harry clears his throat so that he knows he can turn around and Louis does so, still looking apologetic.
“Sorry,” he says again. “By the time I realised you’d actually gone to get me one, it was too late.”
Harry manages a smile. “Don’t be,” he decides eventually. “It’s not like it was that much of a hardship.” The tiny Niall shaped part of him that vividly remembers Niall dumping an entire cup of flour down his sleeveless jumper very violently objects to this. The part of him that hasn’t shut up about marrying Louis since the first moment he saw him puts Niall in a headlock. “I did work at a bakery, after all.”
Louis’ lips quirk up into a tiny smile. “Does this mean the cake actually tastes like mint chocolate chip?” he says.
Before Harry can respond, Liam interrupts. “It definitely tastes like mint chocolate chip,” he puts in. “And since I worked through lunch to cover H’s arse, I demand that I get the first slice.”
Harry is suddenly guilty. “Oh, no, Liam,” he tries to say.
“None of that.” Louis grabs Harry by the hand and leads him over to his desk, shoving him into his chair. The pile of paperwork has only grown. “It’s my fault you weren’t here,” Louis continue, from inside his office. After a moment, he comes sliding out to join Harry behind the desk on his chair. “Now budge over--we’ve got work to do.”
It turns out Louis Tomlinson is the worst kind of arsehole--the type that it turns out isn’t actually an arsehole at all, because he spends the next few hours helping Harry with the paperwork that’s accumulated on his desk. Granted, most of those hours are spent kindly doing most of the work and pretending not to notice every time Louis takes any of the pages Harry’s discarded for recycling, makes a paper airplane, and chucks it at Liam with surprising accuracy.
Liam is infinitely patient, but even he’s reaching his breaking point, as seen by the slight twitch in his right eyeball. Harry’s doing him a favour, really, since nothing breaks a crush like finding out they’re a complete tit who takes pleasure in smacking you repeatedly in the head with paper.
After two hours, Harry gives in and teaches Louis the best way to annoy Liam, which is spitballs.
“Oh, very mature,” says Liam, after the third time Harry lands one on the right side of his face and Louis cackles at him. “I see why you’re my boss.”
Louis reaches out and punches Harry in the arm, sort of. He mostly drags his hand along Harry’s bicep, right of the ship, and keeps giggling. “Oi, I’m your boss, Payno, not Hazza here.”
Harry’s not even angry that he called him ‘Hazza’ like they’re friends, anymore. Because they are friends. Louis’ great.
Liam turns to look at them impassively, neatly stacking a pile of paper with both hands. The spitballs down the right side of his face look like a lopsided capital ‘l’. Louis very neatly purses his lips around the straw and blows one to help even out the capital ‘p’ on his left cheek.
Louis keeps touching him. “Don’t move,” he tells Liam. “Quick, H, his middle name’s James so we need a ‘j’--if you manage to get one right between his eyes I’ll never text you ridiculous shit again.”
Harry turns to look at him, shirtsleeves rolled up to his elbows and pen behind his ear, half in his rolling office chair and blowing spitballs at his personal assistant, and says, “that’s a lie--you’re going to text me ridiculous shit for the rest of my life.” He winces. “Here, I mean. Rest of my life here.”
Liam notices his little slip, lips curving downwards somewhat, but Louis seems unaffected. “Well, now that I know you’ll listen...” he tells Harry, voice trailing off at the end. He meets his eyes, eyebrows dancing on his forehead. He hasn’t got a fringe today, hair drooping messily off to the right side of his head instead.
Liam takes the moment to blow a spitball right back at them, hitting Louis smack in the middle of one sharp cheekbone. Their boss turns to him immediately, declarations of war on his tongue, and Harry forgets entirely about the cake fiasco.
By the third month, Harry’s finally gotten the hang of most things, and no longer responds to Louis’ ridiculous text requests with anything beyond a cursory ‘haha’ and maybe a furious and sad wank when he gets home (no one can prove anything, yes, Niall, he’s just got a cold--don’t touch that tissue, you might catch it). He’s still a little bit on edge because of the build-up of paperwork, despite the fact that Louis assures him it’s fine and all his fault, not Harry’s. Harry knows that objectively, but he rather likes being good enough at his job that even Liam looks moderately impressed, which is why he ends up working rather late one Friday to finish up some copying.
The offices are basically deserted, Louis himself having left earlier with Liam, loudly complaining about how full of cake he was and shooting Harry concerned, but friendly looks. They’ve been working through the cake for the entire week, partly because Niall couldn’t measure and it’d been huge, but mostly because Louis refused to tell any of the other of the offices about it. He wanted to keep Harry’s cooking skills to himself, he’d said. Harry’d blushed pink and nearly stapled his hand to a pamphlet.
Because it’s so late and so dark and Harry is so very alone, he’s got his phone plugged in to Louis’ iHome and has his most played songs playlist on to accompany him. Which is dull, and takes forever, and by the time Shania Twain starts crooning about love, Harry’s full on dancing around the office and singing along, pen microphone and all.
He’s a decent singer, he has to say. Certainly he’s good enough that when he twists around mid hip-thrust to face the office doors and comes face to face with Louis, he’s not at all deserving of the slightly shell-shocked look on his face. Louis’ dressed down, the Rolling Stones t-shirt from the other day nearly falling off his collarbones, and his mouth is open. Harry doesn’t know where to look, eyes darting between the exposed stretch of skin and the obscene curve of his lips.
“Um,” says Louis. “I forgot my, erm. iHome.” He points over to where Harry’s mobile is still serenading them. Still the One finishes off and fades into The Script’s Break Even while the two of them look at each other. Harry swallows.
“Right,” he says. He lowers the pen. “Um. Have it, then.”
Neither of them move.
In the corner, the copy machine beeps angrily, asking Harry if he wants double-sided copies. He hurries to press the button, flushing a little as he goes.
“Why are you here so late, then?” Louis asks, heading over to unplug Harry’s phone.
Harry doesn’t look up from the machine. “I don’t really have anything better to do,” he points out, which comes across as a little sadder than he liked. He’d been hoping for something closer to ‘extremely dedicated to his work’ as opposed to ‘lives alone and probably drinks.’ Harry doesn’t live alone and has sworn off alcohol in solidarity with Liam, who hasn’t forgiven him for the hangover from hell. “I mean, I was nearly finished with the copying from earlier, so...” He shrugs.
Louis doesn’t unplug his phone.
For a moment, Harry worries he’s got something awful set as his wallpaper background, but thankfully it isn’t anything too embarrassing. It’d been a somewhat grainy photo of him skinny dipping for a while, which wasn’t that bad since only Harry knew what it was and no one other than Niall would be looking at it close enough to realise that they were swiping their finger along Harry’s naked dick. Louis strikes Harry as the sort of person to look close enough. He has never been more grateful for Perrie’s infinite wisdom. Although, maybe Harry dreamed that--maybe it’s still his dick and his boss is looking at a naked photo of Harry and this is it.
“So The Script,” says Louis, while Harry quietly works himself into a frenzy over the copy machine. “I went to a Script concert, once.” He glances over at Harry. “You alright, Haz?”
Harry remembers that his phone’s just showing the album artwork and gets his breathing under control. “Yep.” His voice is still a bit high. “A Script concert?”
Louis smiles a little. “Yeah,” he says. “At the O2 in Manchester. About...five years ago.”
Harry tilts his head to the side.
“Give or take,” Louis adds, shaking his head. “Anyway--”
“I was at a Script concert in Manchester five years ago,” Harry says quickly.
Louis pauses. “Where are you from, again?”
Harry manages a grin, glancing down at the copier and telling it to make another few copies. “Cheshire,” he says. “Holmes Chapel?”
“Doncaster,” says Louis. “Five years ago--really?”
“Yeah.” Harry fights back the urge to say something about fate. He’s trying to play it cool. Never mind that Louis is attractive, decent, and makes a killer spitball. “Was a birthday present--went in February.”
Louis is staring at him. “Your birthday’s in February?” he says.
“I’m starting to think you didn’t read my CV,” Harry says, amused. “Or at least didn’t stalk me vigorously to make sure you’d hired well.”
“You made me a mint chocolate chip cake,” Louis says, probably reflexively, if the way his brow furrows has anything to do with it. “And Tomlinson Styles does not stalk their employees--”
“Or your fridges,” Harry says, leaning a hip against the copy machine and smiling so that his dimples show. “Unless said employees bake them cakes, in which the fridges are stocked for days--” He waits a moment, smile dimming a little. “Like, um. Sorry, was that terrible--”
He’s unable to keep talking, because Louis is laughing, head thrown all the way back. He comes up for air a few moments later, wiping at imaginary tears at the corners of his eyes, and crossing the office to stand next to Harry.
“This is my favourite song,” he tells Harry, as Harry’s damned phone decides to play Look After You by The Fray. “By the way.” He’s looking Harry with his eyes all soft. There’s a smile playing at the corners of his mouth. His eyelashes are long as ever. Harry has no idea what to say.
“I haven’t gone to any Fray concerts,” he ends up blurting. “If you were hoping.”
Louis laughs at him, softer this time. Everything about him is soft--the fraying edges of the t-shirt, the way his fingers brush Harry’s wrist on their way up to his shoulder. It’s striking how their tattoos match up when he does this, the rope on his wrist making Harry ache for a matching anchor. Which is ridiculous and clichéd and Harry is in too deep.
“Shame,” Louis says quietly. He’s staring at Harry’s mouth now, as the song plays on in the background and the copy machine hums behind them.
Harry has never been more thankful for the fact that he’s been chewing on gum for the past two hours, and had had the foresight to spit it into the trash after one too many times nearly choking while lip-syncing Shania Twain. “Yeah,” he breathes, flicking his eyes up to Louis’ lips meaningfully.
Louis’ eyelashes really are long, casting dark shadows along his cheekbones and making Harry dizzy with how close they are. He thinks he could count the number on each eye.
“We should work on that,” Louis continues.
Harry wonders if he knows what he’s saying, if he means to be accidentally inviting Harry to concerts. He also wonders if The Fray is even having concerts. But mostly, Harry is having trouble breathing. “Are you inviting me to a nonexistent Fray concert?” he says.
Louis licks his lips again. “Possibly,” he agrees.
Harry definitely can’t breathe. “Awesome.” Louis is definitely going to kiss him. “I’ll have to ask my boss if I can get off work, though,” Harry says, trying for flippant.
It’s like he’s flipped a switch. Louis wrenches his hands back from Harry’s shoulders, looks very suddenly guilty, and takes a pointed step back.
Harry playlist betrays him in the worst possible way and starts playing Adele.
Louis doesn’t comment, although the irony of the singer wailing on about ‘how we could have had it all’ can’t be lost on him. “Your boss sounds awful,” he says, playing with a loose thread on the hem of his shirt.
Harry notices for the first time that Louis’ got jeans on. He suddenly feels incredibly overdressed in his tweed and buttoned shirt.
The copy machine beeps at him.
“He’s not too bad,” Harry says, tentatively. “Doesn’t even make me work late.”
Louis sighs. “And yet here you are,” he says. His tone is business again, and his eyes are politely amused. He crosses his arms across his chest. “Working late.”
Harry sighs. “If I promise not to do any work this weekend will you stop looking at me like that?”
Louis raises an eyebrow. “Depends,” he says. “Will you be reachable by phone.”
“Yeah, of course,” Harry says slowly. “Why?”
“Well, I might get hungry and demand you bake me another cake,” Louis starts to say, and Harry takes the papers out of the copy machine and uses them like a makeshift bat.
“Arsehole,” he mutters, grinning.
Louis grins back. “Why, Harold,” he says, one hand pressed to his chest. “I am your boss.”
“I’m off the clock,” Harry says, reaching forward to turn off Adele.
“Ah.” Louis is still smiling at him. He’s still not quite back to his usual flirting self, but there’s nothing closed off about the way he looks at Harry.
Harry is finding it very hard to stay angry at him. He hands him the iHome. “I believe this is yours.”
Louis takes it with a mock salute. “Why, thank you, H.” After a moment, he turns and heads over to his desk, booting up his computer with a furrowed brow.
Harry pauses to watch him. “Are you not coming?” he can’t help but ask.
“You go on ahead.” Louis smiles at him. “And remember--no working all weekend.”
Harry rolls his eyes. “Yes, boss,” he says. “I’ll even go see my mum.”
Louis salutes him again. “I’m holding you to that.”
It’s not a hardship to pop home to his mum’s for a weekend. Harry hasn’t seen her in what feels like ages, but has actually only been months, and Louis doesn’t have anything major scheduled the entire weekend. So he goes home and sees his mum, eats her food, sleeps in his old bed, goes to visit the bakery, assures Robin he’s still set on journalism, fashion assistant job aside, and nearly gives Gemma a heart-attack when Louis Bloody Tomlinson calls him on Saturday evening. (Her words, not Harry’s.) It works out lovely until Sunday night, when Harry ends up stuck in traffic on his way back into London, and thus only has time to crawl into what he hopes is his bed before passing out.
It turns out not to be his bed; it’s Perrie’s and she’s got company in the form of a less than pleased Leigh-Anne, and Harry is unceremoniously dumped out of the flat Monday morning wearing his pulling jeans, the godawful tweed, and no pomade.
Needless to say, Harry shows up to work moderately dazed, pigeon toed, and far curlier than he usually is. He’s kind of hoping Louis doesn’t notice.
Liam notices, but Liam and Harry have worked out a rule where there’s no speaking before they’ve had a few hours to properly wake up, so he doesn’t do more than twitch his lips at Harry and answer the phone.
Louis wanders into the office a few moments later, people bowing about frantically in his wake (it must be nice to have a reputation for being unfairly decent) to grab the tea Harry’d left for him and dump his coat across Harry’s desk.
Since it’s been nearing a month, Harry’s basically given up on the coat rack ever showing up. He’s also very seriously put one in his shopping cart on Amazon for the upcoming office Christmas party.
“Liam,” Louis greets. “Harold.” And he gets all the way past Harry before he glances up, whereupon his eyes seem to double in size and he trips.
He honestly trips.
Harry only notices because he’s too tired for the spreadsheet he’s got loaded on his computer and Louis smells like champagne and a football field and is far nicer for his eyes than statistics.
To his credit, Louis doesn’t so much trip as he does gracefully stumble, and he’s breezing into the office before Harry can do anything other than notice.
He turns to look at Liam, who stares back. “Did he just?” Harry says, nodding his head a little and turning back towards Louis. He raises his voice. “Did you just trip?”
Louis is very quick to respond. “No, Harold!” he says. “Go back to work--I’m very busy running this company!”
Harry pauses. “He definitely just tripped,” he tells Liam conspiratorially, even as Louis gets back up and makes a show of closing his door. “Most definitely--I need to tell Niall.”
“No, you need to do work,” Liam protests, but he doesn’t put up much of a fight when the phone rings and Harry turns puppy dog eyes on him. Liam’s been memorizing names for Louis’ upcoming trip to Paris from the moment Louis announced he was picking someone to join him at the end of the week, so technically Harry’s supposed to answer the phone. Only Liam is a lovely human being with a slightly awful memory (Harry had the list down weeks ago, but he’s not about to mention that.) and so he answers it anyway.
“Hello?” says Liam. “One moment, please.” He gets up to knock on Louis door.
niall louis tripped! Harry is in the middle of typing. because of my hair--he likes my hair.
There’s a short pause. he likes the pomade? Niall replies after a moment. like, really? are you sure?
Harry rolls his eyes. no, fuck face, he likes my normal hair.
oh, ‘fuck face,’ says Niall. and people say you’re the mature one.
niall you are missing the point, Harry types. louis likes my hair. He waits. do you know what this means?!!??
no, harry, but i reckon you’ll enlighten me, says Niall.
niall, Harry writes emphatically. we need to buy bananas.
“Harry?” Louis only ever calls Harry ‘Harold’, and mostly that’s because Harry can’t quite help the way his heart leaps up into his throat every time, and so he usually goes startlingly pink or stutters. Louis is always unfairly amused. The fact that he’s forgone the nickname in favour of Harry’s given name should be progress. Harry would smirk, but he’s currently got most of a banana down his throat.
He pulls off the banana with a resounding pop. “Yes?”
At his own desk, Liam’s eyes keep darting between Harry’s mouth, the banana, and, surprisingly, his own lap. He looks an odd mix of morbidly curious and horrified at his own train of thought.
Harry winks at him.
“What are you doing?” When he turns back, Louis’ still standing where Harry left him, coat halfway draped across his arm from where he’d been about to fling it across Harry’s desk.
Harry licks his lips. “Having a snack,” he says, leaning down as if to take a bite out of the banana, and pausing, eye flicking upwards. Perrie tells him doing so makes his curls fall in his eyes just so, in a way that is disarmingly charming. Harry doesn’t bat his eyelashes, like Niall had suggested in the produce aisle when they’d been inspecting bananas, but it’s a near thing. “Do you need something?”
Louis watches him for another long moment, before turning towards Liam. “Liam?”
Liam snaps to attention, in time to catch the binder Louis’ not so gently tossed at him. “Oof.”
“Here’s the guest list for Paris.”
Liam’s eyes go wide. “Do you mean--”
“France won’t know what hit them,” Louis agrees, lips quirking. He salutes Liam with one hand, before going back into his office.
He doesn’t look back at Harry once.
niall, Harry complains. the bananas didn’t work.
to clarify we bought bananas of a certain size and caliber so you could deep throat them, yeah? says Niall instantly.
Harry sighs again. i don’t even want to eat them anymore.
i will! Niall replies. but don’t give up, yeah.
Harry sets down his phone, disheartened, but not broken.
Four days later, and Harry’s tried everything--he stops wearing the sleeveless jumpers, and then he forgoes the tweed, and he’s not put anything sticky in his hair in days, and still nothing. Louis is cordial, polite, witty, but decidedly not flirting back. He’s as disarmingly attractive with Harry as he is with everyone else in the building, which probably explains why Liam, Hannah, and Eleanor had all been half in love with him. Harry likes to think that he is different from Liam, Hannah, and Eleanor, but he’s rapidly losing hope.
Which is why he ends up whining in Zayn’s office instead of doing Louis’ filing.
“Zayn,” he sighs. “Louis doesn’t like me.”
Zayn doesn’t look up from where he’s been ironing out details for one of the two page spreads for the next issue.
“Zayn,” Harry repeats. “Zayn, help me.”
Zayn looks up at him. “Harry,” he says. “Louis Tomlinson definitely likes you. Please leave me alone.”
Harry comes over and drapes himself physically across Zayn’s work table. Everything is digital anyway, so Zayn only has to flick his fingers across the surface to save his drawing. He still ends up hissing at Harry like an angry cat. “Zayn,” Harry says again. “Help me.”
Zayn sighs. “Right, okay, how?” he says.
Harry brightens. “I tried bananas, which sort of worked, but the only thing that really got his attention was the hair.”
“I noticed--it’s much nicer down,” Zayn interjects, grinning a little.
Harry deflates a little. “Yeah, well, I usually don’t put all that stuff in it but Niall wanted me to make the right impression on Louis.”
Zayn looks oddly choked up. “Awesome,” he says voice, cracking. “That makes so much sense. Um, have you tried maybe, fashion?”
Harry blinks. “How’d you mean?”
“Like, Louis loves it when people know how to dress, yeah?” Zayn’s gesturing around the room now, excitement shining in his eyes. “So we just have to show him you know how to dress!”
Harry thinks that over. “Brilliant,” his says. “Thanks, mate--Zayn?”
“I dunno what size you are,” Zayn says, hauling Harry out into the hall by where he’s grabbed him by the hand. “But I’m sure we can work something out.”
Harry frowns at him the whole way to the lift and then down two floors to what Louis and Zayn affectionately like to call the closet. Harry thinks they only do this because of the numerous jokes they can make about it. He’d make one now, but wow.
The closet is the most beautiful thing Harry’s ever seen. It’s filled with clothing by designers whose names Harry only knows because he once spent a day loitering in a fashion office waiting for his friend and model Cara Delevingne to take him to coffee so he could grill her about her actress girlfriend. Like, not even three feet from them is a Burberry coat that Harry is honest-to-God salivating over.
“Come on, I’m sure we can find something that’ll work for you,” Zayn continues, tugging Harry through racks and racks of clothing before he can say anything. “What size are you?”
Harry rattles the number off mindlessly, trying in vain to come up with a way to kindly tell Zayn that he actually does have a fashion sense, thanks.
Zayn’s having none of it though, grabbing three Yves St Laurent coats and thrusting them at Harry. “They’ll elongate your torso,” he explains, when Harry can only fishmouth at what he reckons costs more than everything in his and Niall and Perrie’s flat. “And also Louis likes a man in a trench coat.”
Harry makes a note to tell Niall; they’ll see who’s laughing about Cruella de Vil coats now. “Right,” he tells Zayn. His voice definitely cracks in the middle, but he’s essentially in heaven.
When Zayn turns to the left to see about different prints and styles, Harry pulls out his phone and frantically texts Niall, and after a moment, Perrie as well.
how awful of a person am i if i let zayn malik give me free st laurent coats to impress louis?
Perrie’s probably off at work, but Niall is very quick to respond. don’t you already have one of those? Afterwards, he keeps typing, the bobbing grey mass mocking Harry as he does so.
Harry glares down at his phone. if you say anything about murdering puppies, ni, he starts to type, before Niall’s text message comes through.
hey though i went to grab lunch today and you’ll never guess who i ran into.
Harry blinks. my boss? he tries, glancing up at smiling at Zayn when he dumps a few printed tops across the coats. One of them has leopard spots on them, and Harry tries not to look too excited.
noooo. Niall seems excited. greg james.
Harry blinks. like, journalist greg james? he manages.
yesssssssss. Niall’s definitely excited. we bonded over a shared love of food and the name greg.
Harry lets that set in. greg, he repeats.
yeah cause my brother, you know, Niall replies. anyway, and you’ll never guess but he wants you to come in for an interview-
“Now, shoes,” interrupts Zayn, glancing between Harry’s phone and the closet briefly. “And then we really have to get you back into the office before Liam goes insane.”
Harry blinks. “Pardon?” Greg James wants him to come in for an interview?
“You are texting Payno, yeah?” Zayn’s distracted by a group of women rushing past, who each go pink in the cheeks when they notice him looking. “Shoe size?”
Harry thinks about his scuffed up nearly worn out boots back home, and glances down at his phone, where Perrie’s replied, why do you need more st laurent? He gives Zayn his shoe size, and then sticks the phone in his pocket so he can’t read Perrie’s scorn, or Niall’s bragging.
“Yep,” he says. “He’s been off the wall about going to Paris.”
“Ah.” Zayn looks almost apologetic, for some odd reason, before he stops in front of a rack of shoes. “So. Heel or no heel?”
Harry would like to answer that question. He really would. Mostly he’s a bit distracted by all the shoes. He’s tempted to take Zayn out at the knees and make off with all of the boots in Perrie’s size, if only to get his phone to stop buzzing.
“Well?” Zayn looks almost amused when Harry turns to look at him.
“Um,” he starts to say, when Zayn’s phone goes off, the generic iPhone textone jarring in the relative silence of the closet.
Zayn glances down at it, cheeks immediately flushing and eye twinkling, and Harry narrows his eyes.
“What was that?” he says.
Zayn pockets the phone and steps well out of Harry’s reach in one smooth move. “No one important,” he says, equally smoothly. “Now come on, Haz. We haven’t got all day.”
Harry narrows his eyes even further, but dutifully picks out a pair of shoes, accidentally knocking one of the display boots off the shelf.
“Woops,” he says, not sorry at all, and glances at Zayn’s phone when he bends to pick it up. It’s lit up with a message from Boo, which Harry tries not to read too much into.
He’s in the middle of arguing quietly with one of the designers for one of the opinion pieces when the other shoe drops, to make a horrible pun.
Louis comes striding past him on his way to lunch, on the phone laughing. “Oh fuck off, Zayn,” he’s saying. “What, did you expect candles?” He meets Harry’s eyes briefly, smiling all crinkly like, before adding, “and stop calling me that--only my mum calls me that.” He laughs. “Right, okay, so I should be glad that you’ve at least dropped the ‘bear’ bit off because Boo is that much better--”
And then he’s out of the office, taking Harry’s sunlight and general will to live with him.
Suddenly the small hoard of clothing he’s got stashed in Zayn’s office isn’t all that exciting.
Liam looks almost apologetic from where he’s been memorizing the guest list for Paris.
“Harry?” says the designer, into the phone, and Harry swallows the lump in his throat.
Professional. Harry is a professional. He just has to get through today, and he can go home and have Niall call Greg James and then he never has to see Louis or Zayn again. Somehow, that almost seems worse.
Niall finds him the next morning, wandering into Harry’s bedroom and then into Harry’s loo with his toothbrush in hand and one hand down his boxers. He gets all the way through brushing his teeth and spitting into Harry’s sink, before he realises that Harry hasn’t left for work yet, and is instead sat in the middle of the floor staring morosely at the new clothes he’d gotten from Zayn.
There’s the sound of choking from the loo, before his flatmate emerges, sans toothbrush, to stare at him.
“Um,” says Niall. “Harry?”
Harry sighs, and reaches up to finish molding his hair flat to his skull. “Hello, Niall,” he says sadly. “Why are you using my loo?”
Niall continues blinking. “Mate?” he says. “It’s sort of...all of ours?”
Harry tilts his head to the side. “Right,” he agrees. “Sorry.”
He finishes with the pomade and chucks the stuff across the room.
Niall comes to stand in front of him and nudges the pile of clothes with his toe. “So this is it, then?” he says. “Shouldn’t you be hanging this stuff up, or something?”
Harry blinks up at him. “I should, shouldn’t I?” he agrees.
Niall’s lips purse. “So...why aren’t you?” he says.
Harry looks down at the floor. “Niall,” he says, again. “Louis is dating Zayn.”
There’s a beat.
“Come again?” Niall seems honestly curious when Harry lifts his head.
“Zayn,” he repeats. “Dating Louis. He’s got him in his phone as Boo.”
There’s another beat.
“You,” says Niall, shaking his head. “Are you--do you still want me to call Greg James?”
Harry lets out a long breath. “I suppose,” he says. “I’d really rather not have to face Louis or Zayn for the rest of my life, to be honest.” He glances back up, and Niall looks like he’s trying not to laugh.
“Oh God, you are serious,” he says.
Harry frowns, hurt.
“No, wait, Haz.” Niall is a bit red in the face now, and it’s really not funny at all. In fact, Harry’s entire life is over, because while he’s definitely got his dream job in the journalism world, he’ll never get to be a Tomlinson-Styles. Obviously, Niall is an awful flatmate and bestmate. “Haz, H, come on--Harry--!”
Harry glares at him, but doesn’t move from his spot on the floor.
“H, I’m dating Zayn,” Niall gets out, before finally succumbing to the laughter.
Harry lets that sink in. “What?”
“Yeah.” Niall swipes at the corners of his eyes, still giggling a little, and sinks down on the floor next to Harry. “And Louis’ in his phone as ‘Louis the Tommo Tomlinson. All one name. Like--”
“Did you text Zayn the other day?” Harry interrupts a bit desperately. “After lunch time, maybe?”
Niall pauses. “Erm, yeah? Why?” Niall’s brow furrows. “Oh, he didn’t,” he says. “He’s really got me in his phone as ‘boo’?”
Harry lets that sink in as well. “Yeah,” he manages. This...changes everything.
“That arse,” says Niall, amused. “And here I was being a gentleman and putting him in mine with just his name.” He gets to his feet, still laughing a little, and comes back into the room a few minutes later with his phone. “Come here and help me pick an emoji,” he tells Harry.
They spend the next few minutes giggling about the various options, before Niall ends up picking both the heart and the poop emoji, because Niall is a awful person and Harry loves him dearly.
“That’ll teach him,” Niall says, screencapping the screen and texting it to Zayn.
Harry grins back at him, before it occurs to him that Louis isn’t dating Zayn.
Something of that must show on his face, because Niall looks concerned. “Harry, you alright--?”
“Niall,” Harry interrupts, scrambling to his feet and reaching up to bat at his hair. It’s gross and sticky and not going to do anything to help him impress Louis. “Louis isn’t dating Zayn!”
Niall shakes his head at him, not quite getting it. “Yeah, I know,” he says slowly. “Weren’t we just talking about how I’m the one doing that--?”
“I can’t go to work looking like this!” Harry says over him. “Niall, help!”
So Harry hops in the shower to get the pomade out of his hair while Niall texts and finally calls Liam and Zayn to tell them why Harry’s going to be late to the office. And like, Harry’s in the shower anyway, so he decides why not clean every inch of himself. Just in case. Also, he uses more of Perrie’s shampoo. It smells like apples. Sue him.
Harry’s feeling pretty good about himself when he shows up at the office wearing the leopard print top and a long pea coat. He’d also piled his hair up of his forehead in a quiff and even gone so far to put on a spritz of cologne. Harry Styles is dressed to impress.
Needless to say, the first thing Liam does upon seeing him is give him a round of applause.
“Good morning Mr. Styles,” he says, grinning, once Harry’s finished doing a full turn around the office.
“Liam,” Harry replies. He glances at Louis’ door as he does so, pleased to see that it’s been left open this morning. He’s a little confused by the lack of coat across his desk, before he notes the coat rack standing just inside the door.
“Zayn returned it this morning,” Liam explains, still grinning.
Harry has to hand it to him, he would not be nearly as pleased when faced with someone attempting to woo the object of his affections, decisions to move on aside. “Ah,” he manages. He supposes it’s good he hadn’t bought the one on Amazon, after all. Also, he’s got quite a few ideas for how to make up for it--plenty of other presents that he can give Louis if this all works out.
“Anyway,” Liam starts, but before he can finish, Louis speaks up.
“Is that Harold?” he calls. “Where’ve you been? Zayn wouldn’t say.” He sounds amused, more than anything, but also a smidge jealous. “Wouldn’t let me call you, either.”
Harry wouldn’t have been able to answer the phone anyway, but Niall would have, and Harry remembers how he spent the end of his shower with two fingers pressed up against his prostate and the loofah between his teeth, and swallows. He makes a note to thank Zayn.
“Sorry,” he tells Louis, shaking off the residual nerves and striding into Louis’ view. “I hope you didn’t miss me too badly.”
“Not at all, actually. Mostly, I don’t want to have to hire another assistant. For some reason none of them like to stay on for more than three months--” Louis isn’t looking at him, pen caught between his lips, but he lifts his head before he finishes that sentence. The pen drops onto the desk.
Harry stares back at him, a little self conscious, but glad that he’d left the coat outside the office. After a pause, he knocks the stopper away from the door, letting it fall shut with a click behind him. “Oops,” he says.
“Hi,” Louis repeats, lips twitching. He oh so subtly shifts the papers in front of him to the side, not caring for the order they’re in.
And, like, Harry is definitely liking the way Louis is looking at him, eyes gone dark and cheekbones unfairly sharp because he’s got his head tilted slightly down, but he knows very well just who will be stuck straightening those papers later, so he ends up bridging the gap between them to grab hold of them.
“Don’t--do that,” he says, voice breaking when Louis reaches up to close a hand around his wrist, gazing up at him unblinkingly. “You’ll mess them all up,” Harry continues, quietly.
“I’ll mess you up,” Louis mutters under his breath, before releasing Harry’s wrist and getting up.
Harry is on board with this movement, up until the moment Louis steps away from him, and stops looking quite so aroused, and almost looks angry.
When Louis notices him look, he immediately goes soft in the eyes. “Oh, Harry, don’t look at me like that,” he says quickly, shaking his head, and looking torn. “It’s not that I wouldn’t like to fuck you across my desk. It’s just...you do work for me.” As soon as he finishes speaking, Louis stops, closes his eyes, and breathes out his nose. “I don’t suppose you could pretend I didn’t say that first bit?”
Harry very subtly shoves the papers off the desk, winces when they go fluttering, and settles himself up in their place.
Louis blinks open one eye, and swallows, eyes trekking from the jut of Harry’s Adam’s apple all the way down his chest, to where his ankles are crossed in front of the desk.
Harry gazes down at the top sadly. “I really wanted buttons,” he tells Louis, reaching up to thumb at the collar where it sits unfairly high across his neck. “Cause then I could have my tits out, as my flatmate puts it.” He rolls his eyes. “But I really like this top, and I’m going to have to give it back to Zayn anyway because it’s unfair for him to give me all of this-”
He breaks off when another hand joins his on his neck, and looks up to find that Louis has also joined him across the room. He swallows. He hadn’t noticed him approaching at all.
“It looks lovely on you,” Louis says. “Burberry, yes?”
Harry swallows and then tries not to think about how Louis’ fingers press against his throat just a hint when he does. “Yes,” he repeats back.
“Mmm.” Louis flicks his eyes down and up again, unconcerned.
Harry takes back everything he said about how Louis had possibly been flirting back prior to this moment, because every other look he’s been on the receiving end of has been tame by comparison. “This is when I mention that I’m leaving to become a serious journalist, yeah?” he manages to say, and then breaks off when Louis’ eyes go a bit darker.
“Oh, are you?” he says.
Harry swallows past the overwhelming arousal humming through his veins and shifts his hips back against the desk, reaching up to drape both his arms across Louis’ shoulders. “Assuming my former boss writes me a stunning recommendation letter, of course,” he says.
Louis’ lips definitely twitch this time. “I don’t know,” he says slowly. “I hear your boss is very intimidating.”
Harry lets out a breath somewhere near Louis’ ear. “Not really,” he says. “It’s all talk--he’s a big softie, once you get to know him.”
And probably he was asking for it, but the moment Harry’s lips finish rounding around the word ‘soft’, Louis slips a thigh between Harry’s and makes him well aware of just how ‘soft’ he is. Once that’s done, he grins at Harry, a little feral, but mostly amused. Harry is reminded of just how much he likes Louis, wanting into his trousers aside.
“Maybe not so much a softie,” he decides, tapping a finger to the back of Louis’ neck and then getting a bit lost in the baby-soft hair there. Louis’d taken to wearing his hair in an unfairly feathery fringe for the past few days, which had done nothing to help Harry not choke on bananas before he gave up on that point of attack. “I have to ask, though--were you not at all affected by the bananas?”
There’s a pause, before Louis pulls back a bit, eyes a narrow. “Hang on, was that on purpose?” he sputters out, sounding almost impressed. “Oh, you wanker--I knew it wasn’t a health kick or whatever else Liam tried to tell me it was.”
Harry has to hand it to Liam for being both happy for Harry and Louis, and yet backstabbing at the same time. “But you did notice,” he clarifies.
Louis shakes his head. “Yes, you idiot.” He smacks a hand to Harry’s chest and leaves it there. “Harold, you can put nearly an entire banana down your throat, I reckon anyone with a dick would be affected watching that.” He pauses, and then raises his voice. “Hey, Payno, did Harry deep throating bananas make you question the very meaning of life?”
There’s a small pause. “Fuck off, Tommo,” Liam finally calls, before he’s hushed by what sounds suspiciously like Niall.
Harry pauses. “Zayn?” he calls.
“Yeah, bro?” Zayn calls back, before someone kicks him, and he hisses, “Ow, Ni--” and then cuts off.
Harry meets Louis eye’s, grinds his hips forward against the leg between his thighs, and then calls out to their nosy friends. “If there happens to be a blond Irishman out there,” he says. “Please tell him to call his friend about that interview, and also tell him to very kindly take everyone out for lunch.”
“Will do, H!” Niall says gleefully from outside the door. “Use protection, have fun, also I’m still dating Zayn!” There’s a bit of laughter from Zayn and definitely Liam (Harry makes a note to make him deal with Louis’ ruined paperwork on the floor) before the door closes and they’re left alone.
Harry drops his head forward to rest against Louis’ chest and sighs, hips stilling. “I hate him,” he decides.
Louis seems to be silently laughing, if the vibrations Harry feels against his forehead mean anything. “Did you think I was dating Zayn?” he asks.
Harry glowers at his chest some more, before lifting his head. “No,” he says petulantly.
Louis stares back at him, lips quirking, before he rolls his hips forward a little.
Harry gasps, grateful for the desk behind him. “Decidedly not a softie,” he says, picking up their conversation from before their friends’ interruption.
Louis grins back at him and drops his hands down to cup Harry’s hips, shoving under the leopard top and pressing against the skin there like a pair of brands. “I’ll say,” he says.
Harry hisses, head falling back, and blinks blearily. “Me as well,” he says, which somewhat makes sense, but is mostly muddled by the fact that he’s still a little self conscious of the softness he has where Louis’ fingers are playing, fluttering along the line of his jeans and driving Harry mad.
He reaches down to cup Louis’ cock through his dress slacks in a misguided attempt to possibly try to get the upper hand.
Louis’s breath stutters out of his lungs for a quick second, but before Harry can take any pleasure in that, he leans forward and fastens his lips to Harry’s neck. “You were saying about recommendation letters?” he murmurs, pulling back a little to blow against the mark he’s left on Harry’s neck. He’s had to pull the collar a bit, stretching the fabric, and Harry whines for both those reasons.
“Louis,” he groans out. “This isn’t actually my top.”
Louis blinks down at it, frowning. “I know, but--” He stops. “H, you’re not pretending to be something you’re not for me--”
“No.” Harry shuts him up before he can finish that train of thought, scrambling a little against the desk and Louis’ leg. “No--I actually do usually have a moderate amount of fashion sense,” he says. “Which is not to say that tweed and pomade isn’t fashionable--just, Niall sort of dressed me for the interview.”
Louis blinks. “Dare I ask why?”
Harry sighs. “Well, I want to be a journalist,” he says.
“Right, hence my need to write you glowing letters of praise.” Louis drags his hands up and down Harry’s sides a few more times before reaching around to fold them over the small of his back.
Harry nods, shivering a little despite himself; the office is air conditioned and cold, and Louis is like a furnace. “Niall told me this job would get me recognition in the magazine world. And then he stuffed me into a sleeveless jumper and did God knows to my hair before sending me on way.”
Louis’ lips twitch. “And then you face planted onto my floor and the rest was history.”
Harry nods. “Yeah.” He glances down at Louis’ arms, bare because the sleeves are rolled up, and notices the collection of tattoos he’s got lining the right one. He knew of course, because Louis’ been naked on many a magazine cover, but Harry’s brain lights up like a light bulb when he sees them in person. “I’ve got tattoos,” he rushes to explain, pulling the leopard print top over his head before his mind can stop flashing and actually prevent him from embarrassing himself father.
“I can see that.” Louis sounds hoarse.
Harry doesn’t want to remove his face from where he’s hidden it in the final folds of the top.
After a moment, Louis’ hands skirt back around his hips to ghost over the butterfly emblazoned on his stomach. “That glowing letter is looking much more likely,” he says.
Harry peeks an eye out.
Louis doesn’t look horrified by his sudden nudity. This is good, because Harry is prone to random bits of sudden nudity. He says as much.
And Louis throws his head back, laughing loudly enough that the noise echoes all around the room, before dragging the top off of Harry’s head and tossing it to land near his papers. “You’re certainly something, Harry Styles,” he says.
Harry leans back against the desk some more and tries his best to smolder. “Can I be a Tomlinson-Styles?” he says, because he has no sense of decorum and most of his brain cells vacated the premises the moment Louis put his leg between his. It’s still there, warm and solid, and his cock is no less hard.
Harry rocks against it a few times, hissing because he’d opted to go commando today because he’d been in a bit of a rush and there was something daring about avoiding zips that he usually likes to save for after the first date. Only Louis doesn’t give him that chance, because he’s reaching down to undue Harry’s flies, wetting his lips and looking about two seconds from dropping to his knees.
“You really like that joke, don’t you?” he says.
Harry leans backwards on his palms and stares up at Louis’ ceiling, vision getting a bit spotty when he stares at the florescent bulbs for too long. “Well, I mean, it’s almost like it was made for you and I,” he explains, voice only breaking a little when Louis gets his jeans undone and finds him naked. “Like the universe was waiting for us.”
Louis makes an odd noise--a little pleased, more than a little turned on, and oddly agreeing--before wrapping his hand around Harry’s cock and stroking once. “You’re a sap, Harry Styles,” he says.
Harry’s head snaps down to stare at him when he licks the head of his cock once, before pulling back and simply looking. “And you, Louis Tomlinson,” he says hoarsely. “Are a tease.”
Louis grins at him, definitely amused. “But you like it,” he decides.
Harry rolls his eyes a little, and then keeps rolling them when Louis sucks him back down and bloody hums. “So much,” he gasps out, and it’s a struggle not to get a hand down in Louis’ hair and hold him there. “So, very, very, very, much--Lou--!”
Louis pulls off with a pop, lips quirking and Harry is struck with a moment of déjà vu (if one can even get déjà vu from the reverse side), before his jeans are being shoved further down his hips and Louis is prompting him to turn over with a tap to his hip.
Harry follows the instructions somewhat blindly. He wonders if he should be embarrassed about how far-gone he is, but Louis seems to like it, and Harry’s basically been hard since the moment he found out Louis was single and liked cock. “I showered,” he says, before he can help himself. “This morning, I mean.” Louis isn’t doing anything, and Harry pointedly is not shifting against the desk, restlessly. “Cause, like, I thought you were dating Zayn so I put more of that gunk in my hair--”
“I like the pomade,” Louis says, abruptly. He’s still on his knees then.
Harry’s throat his dry. He clears it. “Oh,” he says. “I mean, good.”
Louis’ probably grinning. “Do you want me to text Niall good job, or something?” he says.
Harry would like him to do no such thing, but then Harry’s not actually sure what he would like him to do. Or, well, Harry knows what he wants him to do, but he hadn’t thought that rimming was really first date material.
“Are you just going to keep talking to my arse?” he says, a little sharply. “Because I really think you should buy me dinner first--nghh.” He breaks off, startled, because Louis’ leaned forward and sunk his teeth into his left arsecheek. “Never mind,” he squeaks out, voice cracking even more, as Louis licks a stripe across his hole.
Not opposed to rimming before the first date, then. Harry really needs to keep him. He should probably cook him dinner--properly wine and dine him and then take him to bed and never let him leave. Only, he can’t really think about recipes or cooking or anything beyond the drag of Louis’ tongue and the stroke of his fingers across his hips.
He pulls back after a moment, and it takes a little longer for the blood to stop rushing in Harry’s ears long enough for him to realise that Louis is speaking.
“Harry not Harold Styles is a very good personal assistant,” Louis starts to recite, unbothered by how Harry’s basically panting into the wood of his desk and no doubt fucking up his computer keyboard.
He tries to move a little so that he’s not quite lying face first into it, but that only puts his arse closer to Louis’ lips, so Harry stops before he makes a mess out of himself.
“However he has a tendency to talk back,” Louis keep saying, reaching out to grab Harry by the hips. He moves, shifting around so that he he’s basically pressing Harry against the desk, and Harry can work with this, even though he’d rather liked the idea of Louis licking him out till he couldn’t see straight, let alone talk back. “Despite this, I find that he responds remarkably well to discipline.” Louis is full-on crooning in Harry’s ear now, and Harry whines, trying to keep up with the conversation and also not fuck Louis’ desk.
He wants Louis to fuck him on his desk, but he does not want to fuck the desk. That would be weird. Or...something, Harry’s brain is on the floor with his new leopard print top. “Zayn’s gonna be pissed off.” His voice sounds far away. “I think he said it was last year.”
Louis seems confused for half a second, before he’s hauling Harry back around so that they’re front to front again. “Harry,” Louis whines. “I’m trying to sweep you off your feet and you won’t stop talking about bloody Zayn.” He’s actually pouting, lips pressed tightly together, and Harry cannot believe he’s real.
“Sorry,” he says, even though he would much rather smile. “Sorry--carry on.”
Louis doesn’t look all that convinced of his innocence, and he’s borderline adorable like this. Harry really can’t be helped when he lets a few giggle escape his lips.
“And now you’re laughing at me.” Louis crosses his arms across his chest, and, oh. He might actually be upset.
Harry gets a handle on his amusement quickly. “Look, no.” He reaches down to take hold of his cock, and then hisses when he realises how close he is to ruining this before they even get started (Harry made a pact this morning before Niall flung him out of the flat that he was not going to leave Louis’ office till he had his dick in him.).
Louis seems to zero in on that, some of the confidence from before creeping back into the corners of his mouth. “Careful, Hazza,” he says. “A good assistant must always know their limits.”
Harry has absolutely no idea what limits have to do with being what is essentially a glorified secretary, but before he can voice this, Louis’ hand joins his and he has to focus very hard on not coming. He bats Louis’ hand away, mind firmly on the aforementioned goal of dick in arse, and glowers at him. “That doesn’t even make sense,” he says. He’s still got his hand on his dick but that’s fine.
Louis just seems bemused. “Also has sharp deductive skills,” he tacks on, before Harry lets go of his dick and reaches down to grab him by the biceps and tug him so that he’s standing.
Harry is still sat on the desk with his jeans round his ankles, but now at least they’re at eye level. “Lewis,” he says, reaching out to unbutton Louis’ shirt with surprisingly nimble fingers. “I didn’t come to work without any pants only so you could spend the entire time you could be fucking me--” He punctuates this by finishing with the buttons, tugging the shirt open and flicking his fingers against Louis’ nipples. “--talking about how you’re firing me.”
Louis squawks, swatting Harry’s hands away, and going for Harry’s own nipples with a vengeance. “I am not firing you,” he protests. “Have you got four nipples?”
Harry stops biting his lips long enough to gauge if Louis is bothered by the additional marks. “Yes?”
“Cool.” Louis sounds like he means it when he speaks. Then again, he follows that up by leaning forward and finally kissing Harry, so he can’t be all that bothered.
And kissing Louis is as glorious as he’d thought. He’s in charge from the get-go, one hand on Harry’s cheek cupping him and holding him in place and the other sliding down his chest to skirt around all four nipples before vanishing off somewhere on the desk. There’s a hint of stubble scraping along Harry’s jaw when Louis moves, and when he blinks open his eyes it’s to find Louis staring back, unfazed and eye blazing blue. Harry whines, hips shifting restlessly, and Louis’ eyes go fluttering closed.
“God, Lou, your eyelashes,” Harry moans out, slightly distracted by Louis slamming and fumbling through drawers. He tries to think what he could be looking for. “Are you--do you keep lube in your desk?”
Louis freezes--possibly because he’s found the lube in questions, but also because Harry’s called him out.
Harry can’t help but quirk his lips. “Well?”
Louis sighs. “Harold.” He pulls his hand out of the drawer with a packet of lube and a condom in hand.
“No, stop.” Louis rips open the lube with both hands, fingers nimble and swift. “Before you say anything I just want to draw your attention to the fact that of the two of us--” He gets a bit of lube out onto two fingers, quirks them at Harry, and then reaches down to wrap a hand around his cock like the utter dick he is. “--one of us owns a fortune five hundred dollar company and the other is currently sprawling half-naked on my desk begging me to fire him.”
Harry glares up at him as best he can in his half-naked, sprawling state. “You’re a right arsehole,” he complains, hissing when Louis tightens his grip around his cock. “You know that?”
Louis lets go of Harry’s dick with a smug look. “You’re mouthy for someone who wants a favour from me.”
Harry’s eyes had started to fall close, anticipation humming through his veins at the thought of having two of Louis’ fingers inside him, but they snap open. “I’m not fucking you because I want that other job,” he says quickly, meeting Louis’ eyes full on.
His fingers still, just brushing Harry’s hole, and he looks almost offended. “No, of course you aren’t,” he says, most certainly offended. “Why would I--you don’t think I’d fuck someone because they want to leave me for proper news writing?”
There’s a joking edge to his sentence, but Harry can see the slight hint of insecurity behind it. “No, I just--” He sighs, breathing through his nose once, when Louis’ hand starts moving as soon as he gets through that first word. “Wanted to be sure.”
“Mmmm.” The room is thick with arousal again, Louis grinning down at him with his teeth showing. “Well, I’m glad, then.”
Harry throws his head back a little but keeps meeting his eyes. “Can you be glad and also fucking me?” he says quickly, shifting restlessly against the desk. He can’t quite lift his feet off the floor, one because he’s still got the boots and the jeans on, which is frustrating, so Harry works on kicking the shoes off.
“Slightly impatient,” says Louis, back to reciting his recommendation letter. “Great bum, though.”
Before Harry can comment on that, he presses one finger in.
Harry’d much rather be commenting on just how good Louis is with his hands. “You’re really--” He breaks off, gets a foot free of jean and boot alike and drapes it around Louis’ back, pressing him in close. Louis goes willingly, hard in his slacks and looking unfairly put together from the bottom down. “--Good at that,” he finishes. The desk appears to be rattling a bit.
Before Harry can think more on that, Louis adds a second finger with a grin. “I’m very glad you think so,” he says, fingers pressing just so. He doesn’t find Harry’s prostate on any of his first strokes, but Harry would bet that’s on purpose. The man is a right tease when he’s simply refusing to tell Harry how he colour coordinates different documents--why would fucking across his desk while the rest of the building goes about their business be any different?
Speaking of which, Harry turns quickly to search out the clock, knocking a stapler off the desk as he goes. “Haven’t you got a meeting in a bit?”
Louis adds a third finger with a wicked grin, hitting Harry’s prostate full-on on the first go when he does so. “I do, don’t I?” he asks rhetorically, as Harry pants against his cheek and tries to get his other shoe off. “You’ll just have to be quick.”
“I’ll be very quick,” Harry assures him, glancing down at where his dick is red and leaking across his stomach. “So quick--the quickest--quicksilver quick--have you seen the new X-Men--”
Louis’ fingers find his prostate again, like clockwork, and Harry’s can’t really hear him over the white noise in his ears, but it looks like he says, ‘Good boy.’ Harry decides he’s going to read every single bit of Marvel Comic he can get his hands on as soon as possible.
“Also a quick study,” Louis continues, drumming his fingers until Harry is quite literally gagging for it, mouth fallen open somewhere around the moment he noticed Louis was maybe getting off against the desk. It’s way too hot in the room, sweat getting caught in the dip of Harry’s spine and between his shoulder blades, and he only just notices that Louis’ got a tattoo across his chest. Big looping script, cursive and randomly uppercase, and just blithe enough that Harry can’t imagine him with anything else. Also strikingly familiar, but he can’t place it.
“I’m also a fabulous lay and bought you a coat rack to replace the one Zayn nicked,” he rattles off quickly, because tattoos are one thing but Harry has a plan. He’s infinitely grateful for the way Louis’ other hand is quite literally holding him upright. “Any journalist in their right mind would be lucky to have me--now fuck me--”
He breaks off, gasping, when Louis pulls his hands free and reaches down to get his own trousers down.
“Unfair,” Harry says when he gets his cock out. “Can I suck you off first or do I have to choose?” He can’t quite stop the words from coming out, but he can turn abruptly pink in response, the embarrassment settling across his chest and leaving him awkwardly shifting the leg he has wrapped around Louis’ waist in response.
“Lacks a brain to mouth filter,” Louis decides, eye crinkling at the corners, before Harry growls at him and grabs the condom from his fingers.
“Louis Tomlinson is an awful boss,” he says, in a parody of Louis’ accent. Harry is appalling at accents, unlike Niall, who actually got Harry out of bed a few weeks past by doing a terrifying impersonation of Louis’s accent, but he does it anyway. He also snags the packet of lube, wetting his fingers and reaching down to get something inside him again. Because obviously Louis isn’t going to do it. “For one, he never stops talking,” he adds, batting Louis’ hands away from his dick so that he can roll the condom on. “For two, he’s a massive dick who’d much rather snark at me than fuck my brains out.”
Louis squawks in protests, hips fucking forward into Harry’s hand as he does so. “I think you mean has a massive dick--” he starts to say, as Harry drags him forward with his leg until they’re nearly fucking.
They stay like that for a while, Louis cleverly avoiding all of Harry’s tries to get him in, until Harry is about three seconds from tackling him to the floor and riding him.
“You’re well hung, are you happy now?” he says finally, as a last resort, and that seems to do it.
Louis sinks into him with a low groan, slow enough that Harry would be insulted if it wasn’t charming and making his stomach fill with butterflies, and bottoms out, freezing so that they can both breathe.
“Really well hung,” Harry continues, somewhat mindlessly. “I take it back you’re the best boss ever.” He would go on, but Louis grabs him by the hips and pulls him forward so that he can kiss him quiet, and he really is massively well hung and quite literally fucking Harry’s brains out, so he really can’t be too bothered.
Afterwards, they’re lying cuddled together, still on top of Louis’ desk, trading kisses and the like. It’s possible Harry’s made a point to grope Louis’ bum as many times as possible in the past few minutes, as his former boss ties off the second condom and hurls it somewhere.
When he lifts his head, Harry notes it’s landed squarely on top of one of the papers.
“Since you no longer work for me,” says Louis. “I’m going to say we don’t tell Payno that happened.”
Harry shrugs, giggling. He’d made a point to text Niall about the interview with Greg just to be sure, somewhere between rounds one and two, before tossing his phone off to the side and then tossing Louis off. “He’d skin you alive,” he agrees.
“And sadly I’m not spotted,” replies Louis, pressing a quick kiss to Harry’s bare shoulder. Harry’s still got both hands on his arse. He doesn’t seem to mind. “So we couldn’t even use me to make a fabulous new coat.” He pauses, yawning. “I think Liam’s ex Danielle has a Dalmatian, though, so we could just do that.”
Harry gapes at him. “Louis.” He clutches at his bum a bit more, before sliding his hands up to cradle his lower back. The move brings their cocks back into contact, which really isn’t helping matters much. Not that Louis’ desk is all that comfortable anyway, to be fair. “Did you just make a Cruella de Vil joke?”
“I mean it was more 101 Dalmatians, strictly speaking,” says Louis, definitely affected by the slide of their cocks. “But, yes, I suppose?”
Harry can’t really help himself. “Marry me,” he says, and then let’s go of Louis’ bum abruptly so that he can slap both hands over his mouth. “I mean.”
Louis is grinning at him. “Hazza,” he says, the amusement absolutely curling off him. “Did you just propose to me?”
Harry can feel his cheeks flaming, never mind that he’s currently sprawled naked on Louis’s desk and most of Louis. “No,” he says, not removing his hands. He drags them up a bit so that they’re covering his eyes, hiding Louis’ shit-eating grin from view. “Not at all.”
“You just proposed to me.” Louis is having far too much fun with this.
“I would just like to point out that technically speaking the first thing I ever said to you could be taken as a proposal,” Harry says from behind his hands. “Mr. Tomlinson-Styles.”
There’s a pause, where Harry worries he’s gone a little too far, seeing as even though he and Louis do know each other fairly well in a boss-employee style way (there will have to be actual dates with dinner and wooing and yelling at the telly when football teams fail to play to their best abilities) and have just come off two rounds of rather mind blowing sex, maybe they shouldn’t be joking about weddings.
And then Louis giggles at him, honest-to-God giggles, eyes bright and very, very blue. “You sap, Harry Styles,” he says, hoarsely. “You absolute sap.”
“I do think you said that before,” Harry points out mildly.
Louis punches him in the arm. “Shut up, you love me.” Before Harry can speak, that sentence seems to sink in, and Louis’ flushing pink from the center of his chest right up to the tips of his ears, refusing to meet Harry eyes. “Like me, I mean,” he corrects, still not looking up.
Harry nudges Louis’ shin with his own. “I do,” he says. He’s not sure which question he’s answering. “Loads, actually.”
Louis smile back at him like pure sunshine.
“Awesome,” he says.
“Yeah.” Harry feels like a flower, covering towards Louis without being able to help himself.
“I like you loads as well,” Louis clarifies, after a moment. “Like, technically speaking I can safely say two loads.” He nods a head towards the two condoms and Harry barks out a helpless laugh because Louis Tomlinson is a menace. “But also lots more loads. All the loads. Forever and always. Please make me stop.”
Harry just laughs at him and cuddles in closer. “Never,” he decides. “What kind of boyfriend would I be if I didn’t let you embarrass yourself once and a while?”
“A decent one?” Louis says, sounding strangled. It’s possible Harry’s jumped the gun by calling him his boyfriend, but he really can’t help himself once he sees how faintly pink Louis’ gone. “One who won’t be getting any anytime soon--“
“Okay!” interrupts a voice from outside the office. “This is lovely and sappy and I’m very happy for you and also slightly scarred--”
“Very scarred,” puts in Niall, cutting Liam off.
Harry sighs and gets off the desk with a quiet groan, Louis following suit. They’re almost clingy, hovering around each other in the office searching for each other’s clothes.
“But Louis has at least three meetings today and the phone’s been ringing for ages, Harry,” Liam finishes saying.
“Ages,” Zayn says sagely. “Also, Tommo, why didn’t you tell me you were proper good at the romance stuff? Could have saved me all this trouble wooing this one.”
It sounds like Zayn kisses Niall on the cheek, or something, because the outside office goes quiet for a moment and Harry swears he can hear Niall’s grin when he says. “I dunno, Zayn, I’m not sure I’d have wanted your cock anywhere near my arse if you’d started going on about shooting loads.”
“Okay!” Louis looks bemused. “Thanks, Liam, we’ll be out in a minute.”
“And decent,” Harry adds, to reassure him. When Louis looks a bit sad at that, he drags him forward so that he’s the one pinned up against the desk. “Don’t want anyone else to see you like this,” he says softly.
Louis swallows, charmed, before grabbing the leopard print top. “It’s been lovely working with you, Mr. Styles,” he says. “I wish you the very best with your journalism career.”
Harry takes the top, grins back. “You as well, Mr. Tomlinson. This isn’t the last you’ve seen of me.”
(The press makes a right fuss over everything when they get married three years later, headlines splashed with Tomlinson of Tomlinson Styles becomes a Tomlinson-Styles himself and all other variants until even Niall gets sick of the puns Harry and Louis can’t stop dropping whenever they see them.
It’s great. )