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There were some people in this world who you could just love and love and love no matter what. For Harry, his family would be one. They got on his nerves at times, but he loved them to bits. Another would be his cat, Dusty, even though she wasn't exactly a person. And Zayn, too, because he was a great friend.

The other might be Louis.

Louis. Perfect Louis with his quick wit, sparkling blue eyes, feathery brown hair, and a smile that drove Harry nearly insane. The minute he came into Harry’s life, he knew it would change everything. How could he not? Louis was something else; so permanent and so magnetic.

What was weird was that Harry couldn't remember life before Louis. Everything else just seemed to fade away once he came in.

+++

“Did you talk to Lou about Valentine’s Day?” Harry asked Zayn, looking over from his locker. Zayn was leaning against the locker beside him, texting on his phone.

He barely looked up to answer. “Sort of. She was busy, but I was kind of hoping the two of us could do it together. You know, team up?”

Harry groaned. “It’s not that big of a deal, is it? You just had to ask whether or not we could get some more wages during Valentine’s Day. I don’t think she’d say no. The place is packed that day and the week before that. We’re going to be there for hours as it is. Might as well get some extra cash out of it.”

“It’s hard asking Lou for things,” Zayn said. Lou Teasdale was their boss. The two of them worked at Teasdale’s Flower Shop a few days a week and while they enjoyed it, they wanted to make some extra money.

“I know what you mean,” Harry agreed. “She’s so nice, I feel like I’d hurt her feelings if I asked for more money.”

“Plus, I haven’t even asked Liam if he’d mind,” Zayn continued. “He might want to do something.”

Harry stilled for a second, his history textbook in hand, and thought about what Zayn had just said. If it was Valentine’s Day, that meant he had to do something as well. He’d been dating this girl from his English class. Her name is Kendall Jenner and she was quite possibly the hottest girl in their school, maybe even this state, if he knew any better. She was super popular as well, which only shocked him even more when she agreed to go out with him when he asked about two months ago right before their class began.

“Well, maybe Kendall wants to do something, too,” Harry, said slowly. Then he shook his head no, grimacing. “I need money if I’m going to be able to do anything. We still need to ask her.”

Zayn groaned again. “Like I said, I’ll ask, but I’m not doing it fucking alone.”

“When should we ask?”

“Probably before Valentine’s Day so she’s not overwhelmed.”

“True and that’s not for a few weeks. I think we’ve got time,” Harry agreed before looking out into the crowded hallway. He spotted a horde of guys fresh from the shower, walking out of the locker room. Football practice must have just let out. “I think your boyfriend is about to come out.”

Zayn perked up, looking out into the crowd and smiled wide when he spotted Liam and Louis walking over. Niall Horan, another football player, also walked over along with his girlfriend Barbara Palvin. The two were undoubtedly the power couple of the school. Niall was co-caption of the football team along with Louis and Barbara was head cheerleader. As they walked down the hall, hand in hand, people parted ways like it was the red sea or something. Weird how much power people can get just by being popular in high school. Liam ran to Zayn, engulfing the boy in his arms, while Louis staggered behind, pushing past people.

“Watch where you’re fucking going,” he yelled at a running kid who jostled him. Louis looked at the others with a frown as he approached them. “There needs to be like a plague in this school so that the population could die down. I fear suffocation and being trampled every time I walk these halls.”

“Louis,” Harry gasped. “That’s a very mean thing to say.”

“They’re blind, Harry,” Louis argued. “None of them watch where they’re going. They’d walk over on top of people if they could.”

Harry laughed, walking towards Louis and wrapping an arm around him. “Cheer up, yeah? Say, how long you around after school for?”

“I’ve got to run some drills for the game next weekend, why?” Louis asked.

“I have debate club meeting after and I really don’t want to walk home,” Harry pouted.

Louis frowned as though he was mad. “You only love me for my car.”

“I only love you for you, Lou,” Harry said, smiling cheekily, because he rhymed.

“Aww, look at the lovebirds,” Barbara cooed. Harry and Louis both turned to look at her with frowns on their faces.

“Fuckin’ cute, aren’t they?” Niall agreed. “Love declarations in the school hallways between classes. Couldn’t get better than that.”  

Harry’s nostrils flared as he looked at them with an unamused expression. Barbara grinned, ruffling his hair. “Harry doesn’t look too happy that we interrupted their love fest.”

Louis looked just as unamused and bored as Harry did. Zayn and Liam were too caught up in each other to notice, plus they were used to this.

“Honestly, guys,” Louis started to say. “When will this stop?”

“When will what stop?” Niall asked, feigning confusion.

“Harry and I are not lovebirds. We aren’t dating,” Louis said.

“I have a girlfriend,” Harry added, annoyed and frustrated.

Barbara cocked her eyebrow and gave him a look. “You and Kendall still a thing?”

Harry fish mouthed for a bit before nodding his head furiously. “Of course we are. We’ve been dating for weeks. Why does everyone sound so surprised?”

“Maybe because she isn’t the one for you,” Niall said, with a serious expression. “Maybe the one for you is right here…in front of you.”

Harry rolled his eyes at him. “Niall, we dated once, like, back in middle school. When will you stop living in the past?”

“Never. I will go down with this ship.”

“What the fuck does that mean?” Louis asked.

“Never mind that,” Barbara said quickly. “We will leave you two lovebirds alone and head to class. Have fun.”

She gave them both a smug little smile before walking away with Niall behind her. Harry and Louis looked at each other and started to laugh. “It’s honestly not even funny,” Louis said, despite laughing.

“I don’t understand them,” Harry agreed. “It’s been like this since the 7th grade. When will they move on?”

“Don’t act so surprised,” Liam said. “Everyone thinks you two are a thing.”

“But I have a girlfriend,” Harry cried.

Liam rolled his eyes and ignored him. “Doesn’t matter that you guys have anyone or if you’ve dated other people, which I know you have. People just see you two together all the time and think you’re a thing.”

“We’re not a thing,” Louis said, groaning. “You know what? Whatever. I’ve got History. I’ll see you guys later." He turned to Harry. "Harry, I’ll walk you to your Math class.” Liam gave Louis a knowing look as Harry gathered his things. Louis ignored him and put his arm around Harry before walking in the direction of their classes.

+++

Harry bounded out the school doors towards Louis’ car. It was a navy blue Honda that he got from his uncle as a hand me down. Harry remembered Louis calling him that night to go for a drive through town. The two of them blasted Beyoncé and sang along the entire time. After Louis had driven them around town at least twice within the span of an hour and a half, they just parked somewhere and sang some more.

There wasn’t much to do in a small town like the one they lived in, but they managed to still have fun.

“Hiii,” Harry said, sitting down on the passenger seat. Louis was playing some old Fray song and thumbing through his phone. “Sorry. Meeting ran a bit late. We’ve got a big meet coming up soon.”

“It’s alright, curly,” Louis said fondly. “I didn’t mind the wait. I only got out twenty minutes ago, myself.”

“Oh okay. Had a good practice and all…or whatever you football players do?” Harry asked, acting like he had no idea about the game.

Louis chuckled. “Yeah. I ran around the track a few times, might have done some lunges, you know. What about you? Did you argue around with a bunch of people during debate club meeting?”

Harry laughed, looking out the window as Louis pulled out of the parking spot and drove out of their school. They were both taking the piss. They knew exactly what went on during football practice and what happened in debate club meeting. The two liked keeping constant tabs on each other and it felt nice. As though nothing happened or changed between them, even if it did for a little while in the middle.

“Yeah. I did some arguing about euthanasia and stuff like that,” Harry answered.

Louis nodded, driving down towards Harry’s street. “How’s Kendall, by the way?”

“She’s good. She’s doing her thing, I suppose. Weird how Barbara didn’t know we were still dating.”

“I mean, I know they’re friends and on the cheerleading team, but maybe they don’t talk about that stuff,” Louis shrugged, trying to be optimistic.

Harry scoffed. “They’re girls, Lou. It’s all they talk about, let’s be real. Everyone just thinks that she’s too good for me. They never believe me.”

“Well, I believe you,” Louis insisted. “I did see you two on a date the other day, having burritos at that restaurant. It looked like a good time, really.”

Harry smiled at Louis, gratefully. “It’s alright. I know we aren’t like Niall and Barbara or Liam and Zayn. We aren’t that close.”

“Well, it’s only been like, what, two months since you’ve started dating?” Louis asked. Harry nodded. “You’re still getting to know each other. Don’t worry about it. You’re a fantastic boyfriend, I can guarantee this firsthand.”

Harry blushed and started to laugh and Louis broke out, too. He pulled up in front of Harry’s house and put the gearshift on P. “Thank you,” Harry said, turning to look at Louis. “For the ride and for being so nice.”

“Stop being a sap, curly,” Louis teased. “Anything for you, you know that.”

Harry smiled at him fondly and nodded. “Same. For you, too. I’ll talk to you later, alright?”

“Yeah, alright.” Harry climbed out of the car and waved to Louis as he walked into his house.

+++

It was a quiet day at work. Zayn was cutting up flowers and placing them into bouquets that he himself designed. He was rather gifted at it, as Lou always told him, since he was so into art. Harry was tidying up the shop, making sure everything was in its place.

“Did you get that email about yearbook club meeting?” Harry asked.

“Yeah,” Zayn replied, with a flower stem between his teeth. “5 o'clock on Monday, right?”

Harry nodded. “I’ve to meet with Eleanor and go over the layout once more before we start adding in those graduation pictures. So much to do before the deadline.”

“Eleanor actually texted me about that,” Zayn added. “She wanted me to show her some sketches for each of the sections.” He was quiet for a moment, but then a look of realization came over his face. “Didn’t Louis date Eleanor for a bit?”

Harry shrugged. “Yeah, they did, back in like 9th grade or something.”

Zayn grinned. “You used to hate her.”

“Shut up, Zayn,” Harry whined, looking up from a row of roses. “Not you, too. It’s bad enough with Niall and Barbara as well as the entire school on my ass about this. I don’t need you to do it, too.  Plus that was so long ago. Like, yeah, I had some animosity towards Eleanor back in freshmen year. No big deal. Now, she and I are friends, editing the yearbook together and all.”

“It was a big deal back then,” Zayn continued, much to Harry’s chagrin. “I remember you bitching about her every lunch period because--what was it you said? You couldn’t stand the sight of her holding Louis’ hand?”

Harry wanted to hurl a couple of vases at Zayn right about now.

“You know what I think?” he asked, with a cheeky smirk.

“No,” Harry replied. “And I don’t want to know either.”

“I think,” Zayn said anyway. “That there’s a reason why the entire school still thinks you and Louis are a thing. I think that your romance back in the good old days left such a mark that no one can forget it.”

“That’s bullshit,” Harry shrugged, unaffected. “Don’t you remember how it happened?”

“I remember you two being up each other’s asses the minute Louis came to our little town,” Zayn laughed.

Harry turned away to hide the smirk on his face and acted like he was too busy straightening up some flowers on display. “He was the new kid and he was interesting. That’s all it was.”

“Yeah and I remember how smitten you two were right away. I saw you lot, playing footsy under the table at lunch, holding hands after school while you walked home, and staring at each other across the classroom. So disgustingly oblivious to everyone and anything around you.”

Harry remembered all that, too. Funny how things change, but remains the same in some ways. When he didn’t respond, Zayn inquired further. “Why did you two break up again?”

Harry turned to face Zayn again. “We had a fight sometime after we graduated from 8th grade. It was the summer before high school would start and it was a big blow out. I don’t even remember what it was about to tell you the truth. After that we lost touch. We came to high school and he got a new girlfriend and joined the footie team. I found new friends and new interests.” Harry paused, while he grabbed the broom to pick up some stray petals and leaves. “Honestly, if it weren’t for you and Liam getting together, who knows if the two of us would have ever patched up.”

“I don’t know,” Zayn shrugged. “You were best friends and I feel like it was meant to be.”

“Yeah,” Harry said. “Best friends…that’s it. That’s all it was meant to be.”

+++

Louis turned to Harry and watched him grin dopily up at the night sky. He started to laugh and Harry turned to look back at him. “What ‘r you laughing about?” he slurred, frowning yet still grinning.

“You’re such a lightweight, Harry,” Louis said. “We’ve only been sharing one can of beer, Christ. You look like you’re so drunk.”

“I feel it,” Harry chuckled, turning to look back at the sky. “’S nice.”

“Alright,” Louis shrugged, turning to look up at the sky as well. “If you say so.”

“We should do this more often.”

“What?” Louis wanted to know. “Sneak a can of beer from my fridge and come up on my roof to look at the stars?”

“Yeah,” Harry breathed. His hand moved around until they found Louis’. He fit their palms together and entwined their fingers before giving it a squeeze.

Louis didn’t pull away, only shifted closer. “It’s quite cheesy.”

“You like being cheesy with me, though. You told me that the other day.”

“Yeah, I do,” Louis admitted. “But don’t get used to it. I’m only soft with you sometimes.”

Harry scoffed. “More like all the time. I’m softening you up, Lou. You’ll be just as cheesy as me in no time.”

“Yeah, alright.” Louis rolled his eyes and Harry laughed. “Keep that up and I’ll break up with you.”

“We won’t break up,” Harry shook his head.

Louis looked at him fondly and grinned. “You want to grow older with me? Move out with me and get a nice little flat of our own?”

“Yeah,” Harry said softly.

“Even though I can’t cook? Or clean or do anything really other than being a lazy shit.”

“Yup. We’ll live off of cereal or something. We’ll spend our weeknights eating cereal on the floor and watching all our favorite shows like Friends or something.”

“We should get a table,” Louis pondered. “Can’t be good for your back if we eat on the floor every night.”

“No,” Harry shook his head. “Even if we have a table, we’ll eat on the floor. It’s cute.”

“Alright, what else?”

“We’ll go on movie dates, just like we do now,” Harry continued. “We’ll sit all the way in the back row and make out the entire time.” Harry was grinning full on, picturing the whole thing.

Louis laughed beside him, turning to his side so he could look at Harry instead. He was prettier than the stars, anyway. “We’ll be like all the other kids, falling in love for the first time, yeah?”

“Yeah,” Harry nodded. “And we’ll paint every room a different color, but knowing you, there will be more paint on us than on the walls.”

“What else do you see?” Louis asked, quite taken with the boy in front of him.

“We’ll obviously socialize, you know? We’ll go to parties, but we probably won’t stay. We’ll probably sneak away to be alone. Slow dance in an empty bedroom because I don’t like dirty dancing, especially not in front of people.”

Louis giggled again. “Like I said, you’re cheesy.”

Harry shrugged. “’S what I see.”

“It’s nice,” Louis said.

“Yeah,” Harry nodded. “I know we’re only 13, but I see all that with you. You should just marry me.”

“I should.” Louis leaned over and kissed Harry’s cheek, before resting his head on Harry’s shoulder and closing his eyes.

+++

Harry was undeniably drunk at Niall’s house party that weekend. He was standing in the kitchen with Niall, Barbara, Zayn and Liam. Kendall was there for a little while, standing beside Harry, before walking to her group of friends and Louis had disappeared sometime ago as well.

Looking down at his cup, Harry sloshed his drink around a little before tipping his head back and drinking the rest of it up. Harry licked his lips and looked at his friends, his head feeling light. Zayn gave him a look before putting a hand on his shoulder. “Alright, mate?”

“Yeah,” Harry nodded. “Louis always said I was a lightweight.” Niall and Barbara started snickering in front of him and he looked at them. “What did I say?” Niall only laughed even harder while Barbara put an arm around him to hold him up.

“You’re always talking about Louis,” she answered instead. “It’s like his name is at the tip of your tongue 24/7.”

Just as Harry was about to respond back, Louis sidled up beside him, giving him a slight nudge on the hip. “Teasing my boy again, are we?”

Your boy can’t stop talking about you,” Niall told him, giving him a smirk. “Every other word out of his mouth is Louis.”

“I’m his favorite, that’s all. You’re jealous,” Louis grinned.

“What if I just love his name?” Harry slurred, feeling something rise up inside him as Louis inched closer. “It’s a nice name. Good sound.”

They all looked at him for a few moments before laughing loudly and Harry just shrugged, walking off with his empty cup in hand. Maybe he could get himself a refill, but first, he wanted to check on Kendall. He wouldn’t be a good boyfriend if he didn’t talk to her at all during parties. When Harry walked into the living room, he found her dancing with all of her girlfriends to some Katy Perry song.

He really didn’t want to bother her, but he couldn’t tell if he was supposed to go up and dance with her or not? Harry didn’t know how to be a boyfriend to her. Maybe this was why everyone always wondered if they really were dating or not. He turned around to walk back to the kitchen and found the others were still there except for Louis. Frowning, he looked around a bit and noticed him standing out in the yard where a few other kids were sat around drinking.

Louis wasn’t alone, though. He was talking to Nick Grimshaw. He graduated last year, so Harry had no idea why he was at this party, but then again Niall was friends with everybody. He made it a habit to keep in touch and be on good terms with everyone. It just annoyed Harry that he was here, talking to Louis of all people.

+++

Louis and Harry left the party together around 5 in the morning. The streets were cold and dark, but they didn’t mind. Louis was making Harry laugh the entire way and even if they didn’t want to admit it, they were still pretty drunk. It was why Louis didn’t drive his car back; otherwise he would have dropped Harry off. When that was out of the question, he insisted on walking him instead even though his house was in the opposite direction.

Harry didn’t mind.

“I uh, saw you with someone outside during the party,” Harry said slowly after the two of them had stopped laughing at something Louis had said about Liam.

Louis looked up at him and gave him a questioning look. “Who?”

“Nick Grimshaw,” he replied.

“Oh,” Louis said, drawing out the word once he realized who Harry was talking about. “Right. Yeah. I don’t know. He was just talking to me.”

“About what?”

“Normal stuff, I suppose. Like school and what my plans were. I asked him what he was up to.”

“So why was he here?” Harry couldn’t help but ask even though there was a snapping tone to his voice.

Louis laughed. “He’s visiting his mom and dad and came to visit home from college. He’ll be gone by like tonight or something.”

“Oh, alright.” Harry paused for a few moments before blurting, ”Do you like him or something?”

Louis made a sound and started to laugh. “Wow, Harry. Smooth. Um, I don’t know. We just exchanged numbers. He’s cute, I think.”

“Okay.”

“What’s the matter?” Louis asked, wrapping a finger around his elbow and trying to look at him as they walked.

“I don’t know. Like, you hear stuff about Grimshaw, Lou. Not good stuff either. Real shady stuff.”

“I know,” Louis nodded. “But I’m not dating the guy. We only just talked.”

“It’s cool,” Harry shrugged. Louis gave him a small smile before putting an arm around him and pulling him closer.

+++

Monday, after school, Harry and Zayn went to Yearbook Club meeting. Everyone had left after the first ten minutes, though, once they were given their assignments. But Eleanor, who was editor, wanted to see Zayn’s sketches for the layouts, so they stayed back overtime. Harry was at his own desk, sorting through graduation pictures and putting them in alphabetical order when Louis walked in.

“Hi,” Harry smiled, looking up. “What’s up?”

“Not much,” he replied. “Just got done with football practice. How are you? Looking quite busy.”

Harry shrugged. “Alphabetizing the graduation pictures.”

“Let me see,” Louis said, bringing up a chair and sitting beside Harry. He looked up and waved at Zayn. “Hey man.”

That was when Eleanor looked over Zayn’s shoulder to look at Louis. “Hi El.”

“Hey,” she said, smiling back. “How are you?”

“I’m good. You look good,” he replied, winking dramatically.

Eleanor giggled and shook her head in a fond manner, turning away. Harry wasn’t jealous or anything, but he must have had a discomfort expression on his face because Zayn was laughing at him. He quickly evened out his frown and looked at Louis expectantly only to be greeted by his sweet smile. He smiled back and gave Louis some pictures. They finished the rest up, giggling through some awkward looking ones. Once done, Harry grabbed his things and looked up at Zayn.

“I’m heading out, that alright?”

Zayn nodded, giving them a two finger wave before turning back to Eleanor. Harry walked out of the room with Louis and they made their way to his car. “How was your day?” Harry asked. “Practice go well?”

“Yeah,” Louis responded, smiling. “And my day was good. Weird, uh, Nick texted me.”

“Oh, what did he want?”

“Turns out he hasn’t left yet. Will leave tomorrow morning. Asked if I wanted to hang out tonight.”

Harry turned to Louis and couldn’t help his grimace. “Oh. So are you going?”

Louis shrugged. “I said alright. I don’t know. I know he has a bad reputation, but he seems nice to me, Harry. Plus, it’s just hanging out. It’s not a date, you know?”

Harry nodded his head slowly, trying not to look too glum. “Yeah, it’s not a date. Just friends?”

“Totally just friends.” Louis smiled and unlocked his car doors for the two of them to get in. Harry couldn’t help the unsettling feeling in his stomach the entire car ride while Louis babbled on about how he talked back to some teacher in class today and felt so cool. He just didn’t know if he was really only scared about Louis talking to Nick because of his bad reputation or something else.

+++

“I just don’t understand why that fucker can’t stay at school. Like, what college kid comes home every weekend?” Harry said frantically as he flitted around the flower shop. Zayn was sitting at the cash register, looking a bit bored.

It was just that Harry had been doing this every time they had work; complaining about Louis and Nick’s budding friendship for the past three weeks. And Harry never discouraged him. Not when he saw how happy Louis was whenever he told Harry about all the stuff they did. (Literally, all they did was smoke weed and listen to Nick’s extensive music collection. He thought he was some music genius, but really he’s just a douchebag, in Harry’s opinion.)

“Have you, like, talked to Louis about this?” Zayn asked after Harry stared at him for two minutes, waiting for him to say something.

“I can’t talk to him, Zayn,” Harry said. “I can’t tell him who to be friends with.”

“He values your opinion. I don’t think that you telling him would be a bad idea.”

“I think you need to shut up.”

“Heey,” Zayn whined, frowning. “You need to relax a bit, okay? Louis’s a big boy. He knows what he’s doing.”

Harry realized that Zayn was right and he was getting a bit out of line. He shrugged, looking up at him apologetically. “I’m sorry. I just don’t know what to do. Every day it’s some story about Nick and he won’t tell me if he likes him or not.”

“Maybe he doesn’t want to hurt your feelings,” Zayn said.

“Why would that hurt my feelings?” Harry asked him.

Zayn stared at him for a long time, mouth opening and closing before he shook his head. “Dunno. Anyways, there’s a customer coming in. Happy face.”

Harry plastered on his biggest smile and turned to greet whoever came through the door. They worked through the day and around noon, Kendall walked in, wearing her cheerleading outfit. “Hi,” she smiled, walking in and looking at Harry and Zayn who were standing by the counter.

“Hey,” Harry smiled warily. Things hadn’t gotten better between them either, but he took her out to a nice dinner the weekend before and it wasn’t so bad. They actually talked and had a good time. “I didn’t know you were planning to come by.”

“I have to talk to you,” she said, shrugged. “Can we go outside for a bit?”

“Yeah, sure,” Harry nodded, looking at Zayn who nodded at him, meaning he’d take care of the shop. Harry followed Kendall outside towards her car. It was expensive and big. Her parents were one of the richest families in this town and made sure their little girl got the best of everything. “What’s going on?”

She smiled at him and played with the edge of her skirt. “I just wanted to talk to you about us.”

“Okay,” he nodded, looking at her with wide eyes.

“I think you’re a very sweet guy and you’re incredibly cute and nice to me. That’s why I said yes when you asked me out,” she began. “But, I don’t know, I just don’t think we’re clicking right. It feels off.”

Harry frowned, looking at her closely. “Am I doing something wrong?”

“No,” she quickly said. “It’s not you. It’s not me either--I just don’t think we click. I think we should break up, really.”

“Break up?” he asked, frowning even more. “But--we had a good time last weekend.”

“It was fun, Harry, but there’s no chemistry between us. I really like you, but I don’t think it’s working.”

Harry nodded, trying not to ask more questions and sound like an idiot. She couldn’t be any clearer, but that didn’t stop him from feeling like shit. It was a shock and he didn’t see it coming. He was even saving up to get her a really nice gift that she’d like for Valentine’s Day. Kendall looked at him sadly.

“I hope we’re okay?” she asked, slowly.

“We’re fine. Thanks for giving me a chance,” he said.

“Like I said, Harry, you’re a lovely guy. I know there’s someone who will make you a lot happier than I ever did.”

“You too,” he said, simply. He coughed, smiling at her a little forcefully. “I’ve got go back inside.”

“Alright,” she nodded. “I’ll, uh, go. Take care.”

He gave her a small wave and walked to the driver’s seat. Harry didn’t stick around to see her drive away, instead practically sprinting back to the flower shop where Zayn was dozing off. He jumped up when Harry slammed the door shut.

“What happened?” he asked, wiping the corners of his mouth rid of drool.

“She broke up with me,” Harry replied.

Zayn looked at him sadly, walking around the counter and pulling him into a hug. “It’s alright, man. Least you got to make out with her and feel her tits.”

Harry shouldn’t have laughed, but he did. It was almost sad, but he laughed nonetheless. He pulled back and shrugged. “I don’t know. I feel weird. I really did like her.”

“She’s a loser. She’ll probably date some big jock next and that guy will treat her like crap and she’ll realize that you were the best thing that ever happened to her.”

“Highly doubt it,” Harry said. “You know what the funniest part is?” Zayn shook his head. “The whole school thinks we either dated and broke up months ago or that we didn’t date at all. It will make no difference.”

“High school is stupid,” Zayn said. “Don’t even worry about it.”

Harry grabbed his phone from behind the counter while Zayn went to go help a customer that had just walked in and opened his messages app.

louuuuuuu. where are you?

Im at home, watching game of thrones. What about you???

Work. kendall just dumped me 5 mins ago.

:O r u srs??????

Ya I am

What a stupid bitch. Come over tonight. We can hang out. Mom’s taking the girls to grandma’s later so we’ll have the house to ourselves

Sounds great. Ill be there after work!!!!!!

+++

When Harry showed up at Louis’s house, Louis hugged him at the door before letting him in. It was a big, warm, comforting hug that Harry really needed, but there was something in his gut he couldn’t seem to place. After grabbing some leftover dinner from the kitchen that Louis’s mom left for Harry when she heard he’d be coming over after work, the two of them settled in front of the TV to watch some reality shows, as they always did.

“Lou,” Harry said, a few bites into the casserole. “I wanna ask you something.”

“Yeah? What’s up?” he asked, from his lying position, legs crossed over Harry’s lap. Harry had his plate resting over his calves and played with the food before looking up at him.

“Did you ever see Kendall and I getting together? Like what were your thoughts when I told you?”

Louis looked a bit taken aback, but understanding. “I don’t know,” he shrugged. “Truth be told, to date a cheerleader in high school is quite an accomplishment for some reason. However, I didn’t see you two together and not because she was out of your league or anything. You’re just very different.”

“Then how come you or anyone else never said anything to me?” Harry asked quietly. “You all thought I was joking or it wasn’t serious and I don’t know. I really thought for a while that it could be something, you know? And I feel like it was, but now it’s not.”

“Harry,” Louis cooed, sitting up. He took the plate off his legs and crawled over the space between them and hugged Harry as tight as he could. “Talk to me. It’s alright.”

“I don’t even know what I’m feeling right now. A part of me feels relieved and another part of me is hurting. There’s this weird ache in my gut and my heart.” Harry was mumbling, face buried in Louis’s neck, holding him tightly.

Louis pulled his head back to look at his face. “Listen,” he said slowly. “Forget what everyone is saying or ever said. Point blank, you dated a girl and it was real, okay? And now it’s over, but that doesn’t mean that you’re any less than what you are.”

“What am I missing?” Harry asked him. “I know I don’t play a sport, but I’m okay looking and I’m nice. Why wouldn’t anyone take me seriously?”

“Because they’re fuck heads,” Louis spat. “You’re more than enough, Harry. You’re so much better than okay looking and you’ve got such a big heart, you know?” Harry felt Louis kiss his forehead and smiled, burying his face further into him. “To be honest, Haz, as far as I’m concerned there’s no one this world that compares to you. Kendall’s missing out.”

“Shut up,” Harry mumbled, chuckling now with a warm blush on his cheeks.

“No,” Louis laughed, pushing Harry’s head off him so he could look him in the eyes. “I fucking love you, idiot. You’re my best friend and I think you are the most perfect person on this planet. And you’re extremely important and worthy to me and everyone else that matters. Got that?” He flicked Harry’s skull with his pointer finger and then fixed him with a questioning look. Harry nodded, his stomach feeling warm and peaceful.

“Maybe I should stop dating for a while, you know?”

“Why’s that?” Louis asked, settling back on the sofa and letting Harry pick up his plate of food again.

“I don’t think I’m cut out for it. I’m more of a long-term relationship type of guy. I don’t want to play around and see people here and there just to pass time. I want to meet the one and be with them only.”

“How would you know who the one is if you don’t date?” Louis asked, laughing.

Harry shrugged. “I’ll just know. Like, they’ll be worth it for me to take that risk.”

“You do deserve better than all the people you have been dating,” Louis agreed. “What was that asshole’s name? James?”

“James was like a year ago, Louis.”

“He was an asshole. He used to make you so sad and you just let him. You deserve someone who gives you the world and tries to make up for it if they hurt you, not just someone who is good with the word sorry.”

“He cheated on me,” Harry told him.

Louis turned to Harry, wide-eyed and shocked. He didn’t know that. Harry dated James in the beginning of Liam and Zayn’s relationship, when he and Louis hadn’t quite reconciled. By the time they did, James was out of the picture, but Louis remembered hearing stuff and even seeing it in the halls or in town. James never held Harry’s hand nor did he talk or hold him in an affectionate way. It rubbed Louis off in the wrong way. He would never admit this, but watching Harry with other people always made him think of when they used to be together and the differences in how he treated him and how all these douchebags treated him.

They were worlds apart.

“He cheated on you?” Louis repeated. “What the fuck?”

“Yep,” Harry laughed. “With some guy who was in college. Anyways, I broke up with him right away. I don’t really think about James, anymore.”

“Good,” Louis said. “Don’t.” He scoffed loudly. “What a fucking idiot. I could kill him.”

Harry laughed again, throwing his head back. They sat quietly again while he finished up dinner and watched TV. Once done, Louis took the plate and went to the kitchen to grab them both some sodas. Louis’s phone slid out of his pocket and onto the couch. Harry eyed it as it blinked up every few seconds with a new text.

He frowned, picking it up. “Hey Lou,” he called out. “You dropped your phone. It keeps blowing up every second with a new text.”

“From who?” Louis called back. He could hear the dishwasher running.

Harry pressed the home button and scrolled down the texts. They were all from Nick Grimshaw. He rolled his eyes, reading them.

Are you busy or something? I’ve got to ask you something.

Well, you’re not responding, so I’ll just ask. Will you go out with me? Like an official date?

Louis. The silence is killing me. This is like the fifth time I’ve asked you.

You really know how to keep a man on their toes, though; I’ve got to hand it to you.

Answer me :(

“Well?” Louis asked, making Harry jump as he dropped the phone on the couch. “Who is it?”

Harry gulped down, feeling dry and nauseated all of a sudden. “Nick. He’s asking you out.”

“Oh,” Louis said, sitting down again and handing Harry a can of Pepsi. “Yeah, he’s been doing that a lot.”

“He said he asked you out, like, five times,” he said slowly.

“Yeah,” Louis nodded again. “He keeps asking me out every few days, hoping I’ll say yes, which I haven’t.”

“Why not?”

Louis shrugged. “I don’t know. Like, I’m thinking about like his reputation and I’m a bit hesitant, but then again, I’m enjoying his company a lot. He’s a cool guy, you know? Maybe I will say yes, who knows?”

“Well, do you want to or not?” Harry frowned, looking at him.

“I don’t know yet,” Louis said, frowning back. His expression softened when he looked at Harry and he sighed. “I’ll let you know what I say, alright? I’m going to start the next episode of Catfish, though. So shut up, because this show takes a lot of concentration.”

Harry tried to pull himself together and focus on Nev and Max on TV, but he couldn’t. Something just felt really off.

+++

Louis said yes to Nick the following week and Harry was the first to know. He got a text late at night as he was studying for his English test. It made him slam his books shut and go to bed, grumpily.

+++

The crowd was up on their feet, cheering and clapping as the football team hugged each other in the middle of the field. They’d just won the biggest game of the season and it was a close one since the opposing team was their biggest threat to getting to the championship. With that taken care of, they were all ecstatic, especially Niall, Louis and Liam, who were hugging and screaming. Harry and Zayn were in the stands with Louis’s, Liam’s, and Niall’s family. Harry could see Barbara and Kendall hugging each other from where the cheerleaders were standing.

He always got a high watching football games, especially when his friends were playing. The blood in his bones was thrumming and he was grinning wide, looking at where Louis was standing. He looked amazing.

Once everyone had settled down and the team was being herded towards the locker rooms to change, he started to sit down with Zayn, but Zayn was staring at something. Harry followed his gaze and saw he was looking at Nick Grimshaw. Harry rolled his eyes.

He’d come back from college once again to see Louis and had come to the game, much to Harry’s chagrin. The dick sat a few rows behind him, but somehow he managed to make his way towards the locker room doors, which was in plain site of the entire field. Everyone was watching as he stopped Louis, who just looked confused.

“What’s he doing?” Harry asked, trying to look over all the people.

“I don’t know,” Zayn shrugged. “He’s got flowers behind his back.”

Harry rolled his eyes again. He watched as Nick said something to Louis, who started to grin and nod before handing him a bouquet of flowers. Everyone started cooing at the two and it only increased when Nick gathered Louis in his arms to kiss him in a dramatic fashion. It made Harry’s stomach curl up and he had to turn away because he hated it.

He couldn’t tell the last time he felt like this. However, upon further thought he was certain it was 9th grade when he saw Eleanor and Louis together.

“What do you reckon he’s saying?” Zayn asked, nudging Harry.

Harry snarled and shrugged. “Fuck if I know. Nick’s a dick.”

Zayn laughed, most likely at how Nick and dick rhymed. “Are you angry that they’re a thing?”

“I don’t care, Zayn. Can we just, like, go?”

Zayn turned to look at Harry, his smile fading as he realized that Harry wasn’t joking or anything. He was upset and he needed Zayn to be with him. So, Zayn nodded and the two of them got up, walking into the parking lot where they waited for Liam to come. He was giving Liam a ride home and Harry was initially supposed to meet Louis by the locker rooms because they were going home together, but Harry didn’t want to go there if Nick was going to be lurking around too.

After a half hour later, once the field started to empty out, the players slowly trickled out the doors and into the parking lot. Liam came out and Zayn waved. Harry looked up to see Louis was following behind and he was staring straight at Harry. It made Harry’s stomach fuzzy and curl.

“Congratulations, babe,” Zayn said to Liam once he approached them. The two hugged and Harry tried to act like Louis wasn’t right there, still staring at him.

He couldn’t ignore him when he came up and bumped their hips together, though. “You alright?”

“Yeah,” Harry nodded. “Great game. You played so well.”

“Thanks,” Louis smiled warmly. Harry finally turned to look at him, noticing the flowers on his arm.

He gulped and gestured toward the flowers. “Nice flowers.”

“Thanks,” Louis repeated. “Nick gave them to me.”

Harry didn’t respond to that and Louis just wouldn’t stop staring at him. Like he knew how fucked up Harry was feeling about it and neither of them could place why.

“Hey Lou,” Zayn said, removing his body away from Liam’s as they’d been backed up against the car, kissing. Louis finally looked away from Harry and turned to Zayn. “What did Nick do by the locker rooms earlier? Looked romantic.”

Louis scratched the back of his neck and shrugged. “He congratulated me, gave me these flowers and asked me to go official with him.”

“They’re proper dating now,” Liam said, grinning. “Boyfriends and such.”

“Yeah, so I think I’m ready to go,” Harry said suddenly, standing up straight.

All the boys turned to look at him and Harry was trying very hard to stay calm. Louis spoke up first. “Are you still coming with me, Haz?”

“I’m sleeping over Zayn’s,” Harry replied. “I’ll see you at school, okay?”

Louis tried hard not to frown and nodded his head. Zayn didn’t say anything about the sudden change of plans and said goodbye to Louis as Harry and Liam climbed into his car. Harry watched as Louis looked at him as they pulled out of the parking spot and drove away. He still felt so sick.

+++

Louis showed up to Harry’s house that Monday before school. Harry had thought he was going to be walking because the two of them didn’t really talk over the weekend. So, he was a bit surprised to see Louis’s car and Louis sitting in his driveway as he walked out of his house, hair still damp from his shower and bag hanging half off his shoulder.

He frowned as he walked up and slowly got into the passenger seat. “Um, hey,” he said, buckling up and turning to look at Louis.

Louis looked wary and nervous. “Hey,” he said. “You alright?”

“Yeah,” Harry nodded. “Wasn’t expecting you, that’s all.”

“I had to see you--plus, I always take you to school.”

“True. What did you want to see me for?”

“Harry, you haven’t really spoken to me all weekend. Is this about Nick?”

Harry shook his head. “No, I’ve just been feeling a bit shitty lately. Nothing to do with you.” He was lying of course, but he really didn’t want to tell Louis about how he was feeling weird about him. Louis had a boyfriend now and he probably wasn’t feeling weird for Harry, so it would be great if he didn’t know. So what if Harry had to lie?

“Why?” Louis pressed. “What’s going on?”

Harry bit his lip and shrugged. “I miss Kendall.” It was the only thing that made sense for him to say. Surprisingly Louis seemed to buy it, although his response came a few seconds too late.

“Wow,” he said. “Do you want to talk about it? Like, you seem to be doing alright. I just assumed.”

“No,” Harry replied. “I think it’s something I need to handle on my own. I wasn’t angry with you or anyone. And after the game, Zayn just offered to have me over and I said yes, hoping it’d clear my mind, you know?”

Louis nodded with a smile. “Well, I’m glad. I’ve been dying to talk to you about Nick.”

“What about him?” Harry asked as Louis pulled out of the driveway and towards school.

“I really like him,” Louis smiled. “At first I was extremely wary, but I don’t know, Harry. He’s being extremely sweet. I don’t even know how he got the reputation as a cheater and a player and an asshole because he really isn’t.”

“He cheated on Alex Palmer with George Henley right before graduation,” Harry said to him. “It wasn’t even a rumor, it was confirmed true.”

“It’s been so long since then,” Louis shrugged. “I think he’s changed and he really likes me.” And Louis smiled so sweetly at Harry that Harry really couldn’t say anything else.

+++

It only seemed to get worse from there.

Two days later as Louis walked Harry to his Lit class, he was nattering on about Nick again.

“He sent me a care box,” he swooned. “Like, he knew I have a test this Friday and he sent me a box from college full of goodies and each of the things have little notes on them with cute little messages.”

Harry almost walked into the wrong classroom just to get away from this story.

+++

“Did I tell you about the picnic under the stars that Nick organized for us?” Louis beamed at Harry while Harry worked on Yearbook editing two weeks later.

“Yeah,” Harry said absentmindedly. “You told me three times already.”

“Oops,” Louis giggled. “It was just so sweet and unforgettable, you know?”

Harry merely nodded without even looking up.

+++

“What is that?” Harry laughed as he got into Louis’s car, gesturing towards the giant teddy bear sitting in the back seat. He just got out of debate club meeting and he was so tired. Louis grinned as he backed out of the school parking lot.

“That, Harold, is the bear that Nick won me at the fair last weekend,” Louis said, smiling wide. “It was so cute. Did I tell you what happened?”

Harry wanted to punch himself in the face for even asking.

+++

“Every other word out of his mouth is Nick,” Harry practically yelled as he placed some rose bouquets in the shape of a heart on display. “He’s obsessed. I’ve never seen him be this way about someone. Ever.”

Zayn, who was sitting back on a chair with his feet propped up on another, nodded his head with a bored expression.

“And it’s so irritating, Zayn. I can’t even tell him to stop because then I’d have to answer why and I don’t know the answer to that. I really don’t. So, I have to sit there and act like I fucking care what cute little thing Nick fucking Grimshaw did.”

Zayn nodded again.

Harry turned to look at him, eyes wide and furious. “He’s not even that cute. Like, Nick’s actually a little funny looking. I don’t know why Louis even gave him a second glance because he could so much better.”

Zayn nodded.

“Also, does he even study? Like, as far as I heard, college is pretty hard and this fucker is always home? Going on dates and what not.” When Zayn didn’t nod anymore, Harry gave him a look. “Are you even going to say something?”

Zayn sighed. “What do you want me to say, man?”

“I don’t know!” Harry yelled. “Like agree with me? I hate this, Zayn.”

“Harry,” Zayn said slowly. “They’re a thing and you have to accept it. I really don’t know what else to say. You can’t be so bothered by it. Like where is all this anger coming from? Is there something else you’re not telling me?”

And there it was. What Harry was mostly trying to avoid. That last question. Mostly because he couldn’t even admit it to himself.

“No,” Harry shook his head. “I just know that Nick is bad news and I don’t want Louis to get hurt. He’s my best friend.”

“Well, Louis’s a big boy, Harry,” Zayn told him. “He can decide what he wants. I’m sure the entire school is aware of how Nick really is, including him. Louis made this decision himself and you can’t really dissuade him at this point. Let him make his mistakes and learn from it.”

Harry didn’t know what to say because Zayn was right. He didn’t want to admit it, but Zayn had a point. So, instead, he continued to work. It was quiet for a while except when a few customers came in and bought some flowers or placed orders for Valentines Day. When the last customer left and Harry locked the door, he turned to see Zayn looking towards the office in which Lou sat.

It wasn’t really an office. More like a small room where she kept store files and monthly income lists. There was a small desk and she had a computer where she made spreadsheets of orders for more flowers and she usually sat there after hours to see the income of the day.

“Do you want to go and ask her now?” Zayn asked. “About Valentines Day and extra wages?”

Harry nodded his head and the two of them walked into Lou’s office. She looked up and smiled. “What’s up, boys? Closed up for the day?”

Zayn grinned. “Yeah. We, uh. We wanted to ask you something.”

“Yeah, sure,” she smiled.

Zayn looked at Harry, urging him to talk. Harry straightened up and turned to Lou with a smile. She was smirking at them in amusement. “Zayn and I wanted to know if we could get some extra wages on Valentines Day. It’s always busy and there’s so much to do--we just thought…you know.”

Lou laughed, lightening up the mood a little. “Um, well. I was thinking. If you two took care of the deliveries for the day, I could give you more money. But, it’s a lot more grueling than working here. You’ll be all over the place and it’ll probably be more hours.”

“We don’t mind,” Zayn said quickly. “I’ve got a license, though, Harry doesn’t. But we can do it.” Harry was nodding along with Zayn and Lou smiled.

“Settled then. More wages and more work. Hope you boys are ready. It’ll be hell that day. The whole town will probably be here.”

Harry laughed bitterly. “No problem. It’s not like I’ve got many plans.”

Zayn shrugged. “Liam and I are celebrating the night before.”

“Sounds alright,” Lou smiled. “Okay, boys. Let’s call it a night. I’ve got a baby and a husband waiting at home for me.”

+++

It was the night before Valentines Day and Harry was closing up the shop without Zayn. Zayn took off early for his little date with Liam. Harry had just locked the door and was sweeping the floor rid of dead leaves and petals. It was quiet until an incessant rapping on the door shook Harry out of his thoughts. He looked up to see Nick standing on the other side, eyes wide and desperate.

“We’re closed,” Harry shouted, so he’d be able to hear. He pointed towards the CLOSED sign hanging on the door.

Nick sighed, looking really upset, and knocked again. “Please,” he begged. “I’m so sorry, but I really need to get something.”

Harry sighed, putting the broom down against a wall. Lou was usually nice and let latecomers come in to place that one order. She wasn’t strict about closing hours and it made her the town favorite when it came to flowery goods.

He unlocked the door and Nick burst in, sighing in relief. “Thanks so much, dude,” he said. “I owe you a lot.”

Harry shrugged, letting the door close behind him. “You don’t owe me anything. What can I do for you?”

It was obvious that Nick didn’t know who Harry was and Harry wasn’t about to step ahead and introduce himself. He was fine being a stranger to Nick. He was just going to help this customer get their stuff and leave. It had been a long day and he was tired and ready to go home.

“I’d like to order two bouquets please,” Nick said. “The ones on display--the roses shaped in a heart.”

“Alright,” Harry noted down. “Would you like to pick them up or have them delivered?”

“Delivered please,” Nick said. Harry slid over a piece of paper where Nick had to write down the information, such as name of who he wanted it delivered to and the address. Once done, Nick slid it back and Harry looked down. Sure enough, one of them would be going to Louis. He looked at the other and frowned. It was for some guy named Dave Harris.

He looked up at Nick and quirked an eyebrow.

Nick chuckled. “I know what it looks like,” he said slowly. “But is there a thing called customer confidentiality around here? I know this is a small town, but...”

“Yeah,” Harry nodded, eyes narrowed. “Don’t worry about it.” He put the papers where they needed to be and rang up Nick so he could pay. Nick handed him a credit card and once the transaction was done, Nick gave him a two-fingered salute before walking out.

+++

“He’s cheating on him,” Harry blurted out.

Zayn looked up from where he was stuffing flowers in the back of the Teasdale’s Flower Shop van. He frowned and stared at Harry in confusion.

“Nick,” Harry said. “He’s cheating on Louis.” Zayn sighed, looking tired as he put the last of the flowers inside before closing it up. It seemed he had quite a night because he was not only tired, but there were love bites all over him. When Harry and Lou asked how his night went, his response was, “Hella good.”

“When are you going to let up, Harry?” he asked, climbing into the driver’s seat. Harry groaned, walking around to the passenger’s side and getting in.

“I’m not lying or anything. He came into the shop last night after closing. I let him in, right? And he doesn’t recognize me because we’ve never officially met and he ordered two bouquets. Look.” Harry leafed through the orders and handed Zayn the ones from Nick. Zayn looked at them quietly. “He was going on about customer confidentiality and how he wouldn’t want the word to get out because it’s a small town.”

“Shit,” Zayn muttered. He handed Harry the papers back and then started the car up. “What are you going to do?”

Harry shrugged, looking helpless. “I don’t know.”

“You have to do the right thing,” Zayn said. “Louis will be really upset.”

“Yeah,” Harry nodded. “I know…shit.”

Zayn gave him one last look before shifting the gear to D and pulling out.

+++

It was mid afternoon by the time Harry made his way over to football practice where Louis was to give him his flowers. The team was doing lunges and running laps when he strolled over with Zayn and the bouquet in hand. Zayn gave his shoulder a reassuring squeeze before seeking out Liam to talk.

Harry found Louis doing push ups by himself and had to fight not licking his lips.

“Hey,” Louis said, smiling and getting up.

“Hey,” Harry echoed. “I’ve got something for you.”

Louis grinned as Harry handed him the flowers. He could hear Niall and Barbara catcalling them from a few feet away. He gave them a look before pointing the middle finger and chuckled.

“Are they from you?” Louis asked, turning back to Harry, completely unphased by his teammates ragging on the two of them. And then Harry noticed that Louis suddenly got a little shy and was smiling sheepishly.

He smiled, dimpled and flushed. “No, I’m afraid not. They’re from Nick.”

Louis’s smile didn’t fade, but he looked a bit surprised as he took out the note and read it. “Oh,” he laughed, grinning as his cheeks turned red. “This is so sweet.” He looked at the flowers and held them, observing it.

“Zayn and I are in charge of delivering all the orders,” Harry told him.

“So, you met Nick?” Louis asked. He looked up, smiling.

Harry slowly nodded, his tongue stuck in his mouth. “Yeah, last night.”

“What did you think?”

Harry wanted to tell the truth, he really did, but Louis just looked so fucking bright and happy. He didn’t want to be the one to bear the news of how his boyfriend was cheating on him. He never wanted to see that smile fade or for him to be unhappy.

“He was nice,” Harry said. “I don’t think he knows we’re friends, though.”

“Oh,” Louis said, thoughtfully. “I’ll let him know when I see him later. Thanks for these.”

“You’re welcome.” Harry opened his mouth again and then closed it. Louis eyed him, smirking.

“Anything else you want to tell me? Do it fast because coach is about to kick my ass,” he asked, grinning.

Harry could only shake his head and Louis laughed, giving him a one armed hug. Harry closed his eyes, arms wrapping around Louis’s waist to hold him tight. He could hear Niall and everyone else catcalling again, but he didn’t care. He just needed to do this so badly.

Unfortunately, Louis pulled away and Harry had to let go. Zayn walked over and the two of them set off towards the van to do more deliveries and go pick up another shipment.

“Everything go okay?” Zayn asked. “I couldn’t tell from where I was.”

“I couldn’t do it,” Harry mumbled. He ran a hand through his hair, frustrated as he climbed into the car.

+++

The following day, Harry was at Zayn’s place with him and Liam. The three of them were in his room talking about the Louis situation. Turned out Zayn blabbed to Liam about how Nick was cheating on him and Liam demanded Harry tell him everything.

“I can’t believe that fucker,” Liam practically shouted. He was fuming, punching Zayn’s punching bag that hung in the corner of the room. He had on boxing gloves and was “letting off steam”. “He has the audacity to act like he’s some saint and doesn't let Louis look at other guys. Did I tell you guys about the time we all went out and he made this whole scene because Louis talked to some guy? He wasn’t even flirting, but Nick fucking threw a tantrum.”

Harry was lying face down on the bed, feeling like shit. He didn’t blame Nick for behaving that way. Louis did that to people. He made them go crazy and become possessive because he was just that good. Good in every single possible way he can be. It was maddening because the moon could be shining bright, but Louis made it look dim because he was always shining brighter. He was the fucking sun.

“Stop getting so angry,” Zayn said. “We need to figure out what to do.” He looked to Harry and shoved him. “Well? Are you going to tell him or no?”

“I can’t,” Harry said. “I can’t be the one to fucking break him. I think he’s really gone for this guy and I can’t.”

“He is,” Liam added. “Told me he wanted to lose his virginity to him.”

“What?” Harry and Zayn both asked.

“Yup,” Liam answered. He walked around the punching bag to look at them. “Nick invited him to come stay at his dorm this weekend and he’s going to go and he’s thinking he’s ready to give it up. They’ve talked about it I think.”

“Fuck,” Harry said. He looked down at the bed and shoved his face on top of a pillow and screamed. “Fuuuuck.”

He continued to scream until Zayn put a hand on his back. “Harry, you alright?”

“No,” he replied, looking up. “No, I’m not fucking alright. I still love him, okay? I still love him and I don’t think I ever stopped. Now, he’s about to go see his cheating boyfriend who is about to take his virginity. So, no, Zayn. I’m far from alright.”

Liam and Zayn stared at Harry for about a minute before turning to look at each other. Then they started screaming and jumped up and down, yelling, “I knew it, I knew it. We fucking knew it!”

“What?” Harry looked at them in confusion and in shock. Did he actually just say that out loud? He hadn’t even been able to admit it, yet alone say it out loud. Fuck.

“Niall and everyone aren’t blind,” Zayn said smiling. “They saw right through you two and we did too, but we never said anything. Everyone knew, but you two. You kept trying to kid everyone into thinking that you aren’t a thing, yet you still love him.”

“Yeah,” Harry nodded. “I still love him, but he’s got a boyfriend. So much for that. Who cares if I still love him? It’s too late.”

“You need to tell him, Harry,” Liam frowned.

“No way,” Harry shook his head. “I’m not going to be the one to tell him.”

Zayn and Liam exchanged another look before sitting back down. Harry flopped back down on his stomach and turned away from them.

+++

Harry wouldn’t say he was being moody.

Sure, he’d been sulking and avoiding all human interactions, but that’s not moody. And yeah, he may have been ignoring his friends, but it’s mostly been Louis. He avoided the drive to and from school by leaving early on both occasions. He avoided him in the halls and texted short messages, seeming like he was too busy to be talking. The only friends he had been talking to were Zayn and Liam, but they were usually always with Niall and Barbara, so Harry just felt like a fifth wheel.

He then decided to keep to himself and sulk alone in his room.

In short, he wasn’t being moody; he was just being a little shit.

He could have told Louis, but he decided to be a good guy and not be the bearer of bad news. Now, the guy he was still in love with was about to go shack up with some fucking creep in college. He really couldn’t blame anyone but himself.

However, it gave him a lot of time to think. Mostly about his feelings. He still couldn’t remember why they had broken up, but it was silly. What they had between them was different, though. And Harry still believed in it. It was like fate brought them together despite tearing them apart. For so long they didn’t talk and they hung out and saw different people. Somehow, they still found one another and came back to each other’s lives. They weren’t dating, but they were best friends and the spark was always still there. It always had been. They just gravitated to each other.

And honestly, everyone saw it. He wasn’t sure of Louis, but he knew that he was transparent.

They could see that if he were to choose anyone in this world for anything, he’d always choose Louis because he was Harry’s favorite. His flaws meant nothing to him because as far as Harry could tell, they didn’t even exist. Louis was perfect in his eyes. And it didn’t matter that they’d stopped talking in between and had their problems because Harry always found his way back to Louis. It didn’t matter if there was something bigger and greater out there and Harry was missing out. His mind was set on Louis, Louis, Louis.

+++

It was Saturday night and Harry was sat in the park, wondering if Louis had already lost his virginity or if he was boning Nick as he was sitting there, thinking about it.

Quite a sad thing to be thinking while alone in the park, but Harry was feeling near frantic. It was why he decided to take a break from his room and step out. The park was practically dead since it was a bit late, but Harry liked that. Maybe being a recluse was doing good on him. Maybe this was what he was destined to eventually become.

Fuck. He was losing his mind.

He continued to walk and walk, until a figure started approaching him. He slowed down and narrowed his eyes because it was Louis. Harry could barely say his name out loud before Louis stopped in front of him. They were standing in the middle of a bridge over a small pond and Louis looked a bit sad, which wasn’t registering in Harry’s head.

“Hey,” Louis said, leaning against the railing, looking down at his hands.

“Hi,” Harry said weakly. “Uh, what are you doing here?”

“I just got back,” he said. “Went by Nick’s college to see him.”

Harry nodded and could feel his stomach turning. Louis did it then. He did it and came back.

“I uh, didn’t stay long,” Louis continued. “Literally went there and the first thing he did was take me to a fucking party. People were pissed drunk, but it didn’t stop me from humiliating him in front of all his new friends.”

Harry’s eyes bugged out as he snapped his head towards Louis. “What? You what?”

“I went to see Nick and I humiliated him because he’s a shit mother fucker who was cheating on me, duh. Thanks for telling me, by the way.” The last part came out sarcastic and with the classic Louis eye roll.

Harry could barely speak. His mouth was opening and closing like a fish, but no words were coming out. Louis didn’t seem mad, but Harry was just really confused.

“It’s okay, though,” Louis said once he realized Harry was incapable of speech. “Liam and Zayn told me everything. They showed me the shop transaction and the order papers to give me proof. So, I stalled going to see Nick yesterday and went today instead. Once I got there, he took me to a party where I basically dumped him loudly in front of everyone, explicitly saying why. And he looked like he was going to fucking cry, it was amazing.”

“I’m sad I missed it because I’m sure it was,” Harry finally managed to say. Louis nodded, smiling. “And I’m sorry, Louis. I should have told you. I just didn’t want to hurt you, you know? I would have felt so bad if I was the reason you had to stop smiling and be sad.”

“I’m not mad you didn’t tell me,” Louis said. Harry raised his eyebrows in surprise. “Okay, I’m a little mad you didn’t tell me. However, I’m mostly mad that you didn’t speak to me for the past few days because that was fucking brutal. I hated it.”

“I’m sorry about that too,” Harry said quickly. “I am. I just felt--bad.”

“Well, don’t do it anymore, jerk,” Louis said, angrily. “I missed you a lot. Do you know how much I look forward to seeing you everyday? In the morning, in between classes, after school. You brighten my day, Harry.”

“You brighten mine too, Lou.”

“Then why were you such a shit?”

“I just didn’t want to make you sad,” Harry explained. “I would have felt so bad to be the one to tell you. Nick seemed different for you. You seemed to really like him. I don’t want you to think it’s because I didn’t want to talk to you. I did. You’re my best friend, too.”

“Funny way of showing it,” Louis mumbled, looking down at the pond. Little fishes were swimming in it and glowing in the moonlight.

“No,” Harry said desperately. “You have to know how important you are to me. I’m so lucky to have you, Louis. I’m so fucking lucky to have found you because all I want to do and all I’ve ever wanted to do is spend my life loving you.”

Louis turned to look at Harry, his cheeks red and eyes shining. It seemed like forever before he said, “Harry, I love you.”

“I love you, too,” Harry replied softly.

“No, like, I love you,” Louis clarified. “I love you and I never stopped.”

Harry’s mouth dropped slightly and he looked at Louis for a sign. A sign for what, he wasn’t even sure. He was just shocked and ready to scream. His heartbeat could be heard from miles away. This was it. Louis just said what had been going through Harry’s head for the past few days and it was probably in his subconscious for even longer. Who knew if it ever left? However, it all felt familiar, making his heart warm up.

“You love me like before?” Harry finally asked, smiling.

Louis giggled and nodded his head. “I don’t think I ever stopped. I don’t know about you, but we broke up over the stupidest thing and I spent years trying to forget you, but no one is like you, Harry. You’ve always seemed like you were it for me.”

“We did break up over something stupid,” Harry agreed. “I can’t even remember.”

“Me either,” Louis laughed. “We always say that Liam and Zayn brought us back together, but a part of me feels like we would have found a way without them.”

“I think so, too,” Harry smiled, walking close enough that he could feel Louis’s breath on his neck. “I know that we were only 12, 13 years old. But you were my first love, Louis.” He found his hand and entwined their fingers.

“You were mine, too. Still are. I’m still in love with you,” Louis breathed out before leaning close and pressing his lips against Harry’s. He squeezed Louis’s hand and kissed him back, feeling like his stomach was going to explode. When they pulled away, Harry grinned.

“Just in case you ever foolishly thought, I never stopped thinking about you. I still love you, too. So much. You’re perfect.”

Harry kissed Louis again, pressing him back up against the railing with his hand on either side of his body. He began feeling frantic and desperate, overwhelmed by Louis’s admissions. Relieved, really, by the fact that everything he felt was just as reciprocated, if not more so. Harry clinged to Louis’s front, pulled at his collar, desperate to become one person, probably. Harry felt Louis’s heartbeat quicken dramatically underneath his hands until Louis gently pushed Harry away, just far enough that they weren’t kissing anymore, but close enough to still be conspicuous to any possible observers.

“Harry, Harry,” Louis whispered as they parted, “Are we--? Are you--?” He fumbled with his words a bit, seemingly unable to find the right ones, until Harry interrupted.

“Are you asking if I want this?” He nipped at Louis’s jaw.

“Yeah,” Louis nodded, “Like, you’re being so--.” He waved his hands around uselessly behind Harry’s back.

“Will you come back to my place?” Harry asked then, pulling back, quirking an eyebrow.

“But--your parents?” Louis questioned, sounding unsure.

Harry had to laugh at that. “You’re my best friend, not exactly the strangest person I could ever have over for the night.”

And well…Louis initiated the following kiss with no hesitance in response to that.

+++

It was so strange to be with Louis, as in be with Louis, in his bedroom. But it was also the very best, most exciting thing. They were reclined on Harry’s pillows, Louis kissing down Harry’s neck.

They hadn’t exactly talked much in the walk from the park to Harry’s house, mostly just sharing silly glances at one another, giggling into each other’s mouths when one pulled the other into another kiss, and, to Harry’s utter excitement, hand holding. It was the most natural thing in the world for him, to be with Louis, and Louis seemed to feel the same way.

At some point, their lingering, relaxed kissing turned into a full throttle make out session with Louis arching Harry’s neck back so he could get a better angle to lick into Harry’s mouth like uncharted territory. In some ways, Harry figured it was. In other ways, it felt like they were trying to make up for lost time.

The longer they kissed like that, the tougher it was for Harry to deny he was getting hard, but he felt so relieved, feeling Louis’s own hard on pressed against his thigh.

Harry wasted no time in responding back just as eagerly, perhaps even more, reaching for the button of Louis’s jeans. Louis didn’t pause a second, continuing to tongue Harry deeply, as Harry unfastened his jeans.

But when he unzipped them, Louis pulled back, eyes widened. Harry panicked that he totally ruined the entire mood, internally slapping himself for his foolish misreading of the situation.

Louis didn’t move from Harry’s arms, but his eyes were still searching Harry’s and Harry vowed to himself he wouldn’t break the silence that brewed between them. Louis pressed a soft kiss to Harry’s lips and Harry melted right then and there in the sheets, in Louis’s embrace.

Whatever Louis was thinking a moment previously evaporated instantly with how Harry responded to his gentle kiss.

“Wow,” Louis had finally started, “You, like, still really want this?”

Harry wished Louis didn’t feel the need to question it. Harry sat up on his elbows, one hand outstretched to touch Louis’s cheek. “Jesus, Lou, I’ve been waiting on you forever, of course I still want this, why would you even--?”

Louis shrugged. “I dunno. For some reason I thought by the time I get you from the park to here to full on making out, you would’ve--I dunno--realized you didn’t want this. Or me, for that matter.”

By ‘this,’ Harry wasn’t sure if Louis meant a relationship (because the answer is always god, yes, please, Louis, yes) or sex (also because the answer is always god, yes, please, Louis, yes), but it didn’t really matter.

“Louis!” Harry nearly shouted. “I love you and I want everything with you. Don’t ever question that.”

“Okay,” Louis responded, smiling sweetly. He leaned down to kiss Harry again and the mood regained its balance. The short intermission hadn’t made them lose their hard ons, and Harry was becoming so desperate for friction, he rubbed off on Louis’s upper thigh subconsciously while they continued to kiss senselessly.

Their movements became so charged with heat and emotion as they started slowly grinding against each other but Louis finally forced them to stop, pulling away completely from Harry. They undressed each other slowly, Louis carefully took off Harry’s shoes, then his pants, then his shirts and Harry, in turn, helping Louis out of his.

“Who knew you were so beautiful underneath all those clothes, hm?” Louis commented, sitting on his haunches.

Harry’s entire body flushed, skin hot with arousal and Louis’s praise. “Stooooop,” he whined, holding his hands over his face, which Louis removed instantly. Louis left open-mouthed kisses from Harry’s belly button up to his face, kissing until Harry was a mix between giddy and aroused. Louis’s thigh brushed roughly against Harry’s cock, reminding Harry how very, very desperate he still was.

“Louis, we’re--,” he started but was cut off by Louis sucking his skin gingerly, a tiny gasp escaping, “We’re gonna have to speed this along.”

Louis nodded his agreement. Harry twisted around to reach behind his pillow, pulling out his bottle of lube.

Louis smirked. “D’you already have this evening planned?” he joked, causing Harry to roll his eyes.

“Don’t have condoms,” Harry realized then, looking at Louis and hoping it wouldn’t put a stop to this.

Louis paused, looking uncomfortable. “Uh, ‘s’okay. I do.” He found his pants on the floor and pulled a condom from the back pocket. Harry didn’t ask, but Louis explained regardless. “From before, y’know…”

Harry just nodded, bypassing the condom in Louis’s hand and pulling his wrist so Louis would flop down on top of him. “Gettin’ a little bored over here,” he teased, nipping at Louis’s lips

Louis took that as a challenge, apparently, because he instantly heated the kiss, which, in turn, recharged the air between them. Harry was panting hard, cock wet at the tip as their new angle allowed for them to rub against one another once again.

“‘M gonna come already if you don’t get a move on,” Harry urged, voice laced with desperation, tossing the lube at Louis.

“Patience is a virtue, Harry,” Louis said, but did indeed heed Harry, popping the cap of the lube open. At the sound, Harry instantly parted his knees to give Louis more room. After Louis slicked two fingers, he pressed them to Harry’s entrance hesitantly, like he was unsure of what he was doing, and truth be told, he probably was, but Harry wasn’t about to say anything, not with the way Louis’s fingers felt moving inside him, anyway, seemingly cutting off his air.

It was kind of shocking, really, how absolutely innate being with Louis came to Harry, how no matter how much he gave him, how much he shared, nothing will ever be too much. It’ll never be too much that one of them gets scared and runs off in fear. They already shared everything important so far already, and this was just another one of those things. It didn’t feel like the biggest, it didn’t feel like the most life changing, but it still felt magical and memorable and important. It felt like the next, natural step.

Louis cautiously kissed Harry, trying to tell if Harry was getting anything from this angle since he’d been so silent so far. Once Louis quirked his fingers, digging slightly and finding the fleshy bump inside of him, Harry finally found air, gasping sharply, lungs expanding, whole body exploding in his opinion.

“Do that again,” Harry ordered through a gasp.

Louis didn’t even give him a chance to get the final word out before he was slamming his fingers once more to that same spot, sending shivers down Harry’s spine, causing his body to liquefy on the mattress.

“Okay, okay,” Harry said, legs trembling, trying to move backwards away from Louis, as regretfully as he could manage, “Fuck.” His fingers were frantically clawing at the sheets. “Just get your cock in me.”

Harry was sure Louis never heard him sound like that before, this sort of unfearing bluntness, and Harry was half a mind to feel embarrassed, but Louis’s eyes were dark with desire, only eager to get his cock in Harry as well and Jesus, Harry never saw Louis like this either.

Louis slid his fingers out slowly, drawing them out almost excruciatingly. Harry would’ve rolled his eyes if he could’ve managed it, but the feeling was too sensational. Louis ripped the condom open and slid it on without tearing his eyes away from Harry’s. Harry really missed his lips. How long had it been? Whatever, too long.

Louis pressed in as slow as he could have ever possibly moved in his entire life. Ever. In the history of the Multiverse. At least in Harry’s expert opinion. Harry could feel every inch of Louis and that was absolutely marvelous, but Harry was already so insane for this, he just wanted Louis to get on with it and take him.

Though, in the little part of his sober, non-aroused mind, he knew Louis was just as nervous as Harry should be. That Louis just wanted to take care of him, that Louis wanted this is be good for them.

He felt that in the way Louis’s fingers trembled, the way his eyes darted from Harry’s to where they were connected constantly, the way his voice shook slightly at every pant, grunt, and groan. Harry felt that.

When Louis was sheathed in entirely, he started thrusting at Harry’s persistence, his hips urgently grinding down on Louis’s cock before he could even settle.

“Jesus, fuck, Haz,” Louis groaned, eyes clenched shut.

Harry understood where Louis was coming from, sure, but Jesus, fuck, Louis could never know how this felt. How it felt to be completely fucked open from the inside out, to feel taken and wanted like this, to know how it feels to go from maddeningly empty to agonizingly full without a moment’s notice over and over and over again. Well, at least not yet.

Louis’s tight grip on his waist was making Harry feel secure and safe, even as Harry’s body wanted nothing more than to squirm and grind and ride down. Consciously, Harry wanted Louis to hold him down and fuck into him relentlessly, just as he was. Many things made Harry realize how perfect Louis was for him, and this just got added to the top of the list, in his sex-hazy mind.

“I’m so close,” Louis whispered between them, teeth scraping Harry’s collarbone. Harry reached between their stomachs and began palming his cock until he knew he was close too, which didn’t take long. It wasn’t seconds later that Louis’s thrust slowed down to a full stop, coming, and Harry followed suit as quickly as he could, spilling between them.

“Shit,” Louis said, exasperatedly when he pulled out and flopped down beside Harry.

“We’re definitely doing that again,” Harry said with his eyes still closed. “Tomorrow, hopefully.”

Louis giggled beside and tugged on his arm, “C’mere.”

Harry pliantly followed, smiling as he rolled to his side to face Louis. He looked at him with complete adoration and ran his hands through Louis’s hair to pull him closer. He kissed him, thoroughly with his mouth open, letting their tongues slide against the other. When they pulled away, Harry left more kisses on his nose and cheek. “I can’t believe it.”

“Yeah?” Louis asked.

“Feel like I’m dreaming. Like, is this happening?” Harry asked, kissing Louis’s lips again, quickly.

“It better be,” Louis answered. “Do you know how frustrating it was to look for signs that you were in this just as much as I was? I’ve been waiting forever.”

“I think I have, too,” Harry said. “I told you that this dating thing wasn’t for me. I think I can only fall in love once.”

Louis was grinning as he pulled himself up and on top of Harry. “I’m glad it was with me. You were my first everything. And I love you--felt like I’d be waiting ages.”

Harry laughed. “Then why the hell did you go out with Nick?”

Louis shrugged. “Why’d you date Kendall?”

“Why’d you date Eleanor?”

“Why’d you date James?”

Harry was laughing while Louis frowned at him. “No more dating other people. This is it. I’m not letting you go again.”

“Good,” Louis smiled, kissing Harry and straddling him. “I know you said we should have sex again, hopefully tomorrow, but I kind of want to go again.”

Harry didn’t need to be told twice as he grinded up on Louis and kissed him filthily.

+++

When Harry and Louis walked into school that Monday, no one cheered louder than Niall and Barbara. Zayn and Liam smiled at them knowingly and gave them both a smack on the head for “taking too long.” It didn’t feel any different than how it was before. Harry and Louis saw each other the same amount, but there was more hand holding and kissing involved.

Just like Louis said, they’d both been waiting a while to make sure that they were both ready to try again and make it stick this time. They just had to leave it up to fate to bring them together because they both knew it would happen one day or another.