Actions

Work Header

we're afire love

Work Text:

“Why don’t you just move in here?”

It’s 4 o’clock on a Monday afternoon, just before they leave for tonight’s taping of the show, and Harry’s sat in Louis’ living room. He’s been talking while Louis gets ready - making sure Mia is ready to go and that he’s got all of his note cards. Harry wasn’t even sure that Louis was listening to him complain about Zayn moving out until now.

Harry looks up from his magazine and clears his throat, finally responding, “What?”

Louis is standing in front of the loveseat, leaning over where Mia is sprawled on the cushion and wiggling away from his hands. He’s been fighting to get her sandals buckled for at least three minutes now. Harry’s offered his help twice already, to which Louis responded with a grumble that he could do it himself, thank you very much.

“Well you said yourself, it’s going to be lonely over there once Zayn moves out of your apartment,” Louis says, like it’s no big deal. The buckle of Mia’s shoe clicks, and he lets out a sigh of relief. “You’re here all the time anyway. We’re practically roommates. Just move in.”

Harry raises his eyebrows. “But you have Mia. Don’t you think it’ll be, uh, crowded?”

“Nah.” Louis shrugs. “Got the extra rooms, man. It’d be cool.”

It feels too easy, like a trap or a trick question that Harry is just nodding along to. He thinks that Louis could ask him to do just about anything and his first response would be an overly-excited agreement.

“Yeah,” Harry says quietly now, thrown off and a bit dazed. “Yeah, it’d be cool. I’ll think about it.”

That’s how it starts, Harry thinks.

_

The offer doesn’t come up again for two whole weeks. Harry is aggressively not thinking about it.

_

Louis’ baby really is gorgeous, Harry thinks. One of the absolute prettiest things he’s ever laid eyes on. Her hair is the lightest brown, not quite blond but just about, and it frames her somewhat chubby face perfectly. Harry smiles whenever she looks up at him, her blue eyes shining underneath a row of long eyelashes. She’s incredibly sweet, too - he’s been wrapped around her finger since the moment he laid eyes on her.

The moment of adoration is only slightly tarnished when she slaps a handful of gooey macaroni onto Harry’s arm, giggling delightedly.

It’s slides off of the face of Harry’s watch slowly, and he furrows his brows at her. He pulls her high chair closer using his ankles, and sets the bowl in front of her.

“Baby,” Harry whines, “you’ve gotta eat.”

She blows a raspberry at him. He thinks they’re really getting somewhere.

“Look, it’s so good,” he says, lifting the spoon and making a pleased sound, opening and closing his mouth without taking any food in. He starts getting more dramatic with his chewing noises when he sees her start to laugh. “Your mean old dad is going to kill me if he sees all of this yummy mac and cheese being wasted,” he whispers.

“Harry, if you were that hungry you could have just said something,” Louis yells, poking his head out of the bathroom. Harry looks up from his place in the kitchen, lowering the spoon from his mouth. Louis winks and ducks back into bathroom while tightening the tie around his neck.

“Speak of the devil,” Harry says in a faux-whisper to Mia, pinching her bare foot.

Louis scoffs and yells from the bathroom, “Heard that!”

“Wanted you to!” Harry calls back, smirking.

Mia laughs, like she understands the joke (she always laughs at Harry’s jokes - it’s one of the reasons he likes to hang out with her so much), and makes grabby hands for the spoon.

“Yeah?” Harry asks excitedly, holding out the food to her. “Go on.”

This is an almost daily ritual now. Harry makes a new recipe for the baby, she refuses to eat it with an exceptionally haughty air about her for a one year old, and he ends up letting her eat green pea mush. Every time.

He comes over to Louis’ once they get done with work most days, too. They haven’t been taping as late, so they’re home by dinner time, usually. Lately he’s tried cooking Mia something for dinner while Louis pitters around getting into more comfortable clothes and making his end of the day phone calls. It’s hard work, being a talk show host, or so Louis says, at least - Harry thinks it seems like a lot of tea drinking and an excuse to show off his bum in a nice pair of slacks. Harry could’ve made a few calls of his own (he’s very important as well, he reminds Louis daily. He’s one of the reasons Louis has the job, and making sure everyone at the network stays happy with that decision is in his hands) while he waited for Louis, but he’s tired and feeling a bit lazy. Plus, he’s been waiting to try out his new recipe for an organic baby-friendly mac and cheese, and Mia had to eat.

“She’s a Tomlinson, mate,” Louis says loudly as he enters the kitchen. His voice startles Mia, who knocks the spoon away from her mouth and grunts. So close. “‘s gonna be a fight every single time.”

“Your child? Picky and stubborn? I literally can’t imagine where she gets it from,” Harry deadpans.

Mia giggles in her seat, clapping her hands together. Harry coos at her, trying to fit the spoon between her lips while it’s open in laughter. She quickly shuts her mouth and knits her eyebrows together. He’d be endeared if it weren’t so terribly, terribly frustrating.

“I don’t know why she doesn’t like it,” Harry mumbles.

Louis sticks his pinky into the bowl of mac, making Harry squawk and bat at his hands. He’s got no manners, really. Louis sucks the tip of his finger between his teeth, letting it go after a moment with a pop. He screws his face up and starts to cough, clutching at his chest dramatically.

“Oh, come on,” Harry whines, dropping the spoon into the bowl. “Is it bad? I followed the directions perfectly this time!”

“No wonder she won’t eat it! She’s smart enough to know you’re trying to poison her!”

Harry rolls his eyes as Louis leans down to kiss Mia on the top of her head, coaxing her quietly while glaring at Harry. He lifts her from the high chair and places her on his hip, cocking it out to the side to keep her balanced.

Louis laughs with a shake of his head. “Seriously, man, it’s awful. I’m sorry. You get an A for effort, though?”

Mia giggles against Louis’ shoulder, and Louis smiles at her before turning on his heels and carrying her towards the living room. Harry feels like they’re conspiring against him, the two of them. They’re such a team, it’s scary. She’s so much like Louis, in ways that Harry never even knew people could resemble their parent - she can barely speak actual words but she’s got his wit and sarcastic nature already. It makes for a lot of lost battles for Harry, but he doesn’t mind very much.

“I’m gonna feed her in a few,” Louis calls from the couch, once he’s settled with Mia in his lap. “Real food. Wanna order a pizza?”

Harry sighs and walks into the living, draping himself over the loveseat opposite Louis. “I guess. Not sure how I’m meant to eat with all of this failure on my shoulders.”

Louis rolls his eyes. “Shut up. Eventually she’ll like something. She’s just too picky right now.”

Mia blows a raspberry then, as if agreeing. She really is a picky little thing, Harry thinks. Cute, very cute, but picky.

Harry spends the next few minutes on his mobile, punching in an order online for pizza delivery (he doesn’t even have to ask - he gets half pepperoni for Louis, and half hawaiian pizza for himself. Louis always acts like he hates Harry’s choice until there’s one slice left and he, ahem, begrudgingly eats it because Harry is “too full”). Louis grabs a jar of something for Mia that is decidedly less appetizing, Harry’s sure, than his pasta. He gets her situated in her high chair, babbling on about how her taste buds aren’t even that developed yet, while she makes gurgling noises at him until he starts spooning the mush into her mouth. She gobbles it right up, which is unsurprising yet still serves a low blow to Harry’s pride.

“How was the show tonight?” Harry asks once Mia is finished eating and is sat on the rug playing with one of her picture books.

Louis runs a hand through his hair and shrugs. He flicks on the TV, glancing down at Mia to make sure she’s occupied before changing the channel from a children’s program to a soccer match. “‘s alright, I guess. Jim’s got me doing a new thing before the band starts. Remember the old segment?”

“The one where you read tweets?”

“No, no, the one after that.” Louis hums. He grunts and makes a face at the TV before cursing under his breath. Harry looks over, but he’s got no clue what just happened. “The one with the embarrassing celebrity stories, where the audience guesses who did what.”

Harry laughs. “Yeah, can’t imagine why they replaced that one.”

Louis sticks his tongue out at Harry. That had been great - it seems that it’s only okay to use a celebrity’s embarrassing story if they submit it themselves, apparently. Louis (and his team) had to deal with an irate A-lister for a month after he told the nation at eleven o’clock on a Monday night that she once ate three boxes of girl scout cookies in one sitting, later throwing them all up on her new mother-in-law’s white rug.

“Did you get to see any of the show tonight?” Louis asks.

Harry shakes his head. He’s at the studio any time Louis is filming, usually, but not always on set. He’d been behind the scenes all night - mostly watching Mia, but there had been some very important head executive tasks, too. Definitely.

“Such a supportive best friend, honestly,” Louis deadpans.

“Hey, I was making sure your daughter didn’t put any of the million tiny objects around set into her mouth. It’s her new favorite hobby.” Harry gestures towards Mia, who is now chewing on the corner of her picture book. “See.”

“I guess you’re good for something.”

Harry throws a couch pillow at Louis’ head and he yelps. “I’ll make sure you get none of the pizza, Tomlinson. Me and Baby will eat it all.”

“She’s got about--” Louis counts on his fingers, humming thoughtfully. “She’s got four and a half teeth now. Good luck with that.”

Harry rolls his eyes. They watch the game in silence for a while until the doorbell finally rings and they both groan happily. Harry wordlessly hops up from the couch and grabs his wallet before opening the door. Louis gets up to grab paper plates as well as two beers, and everything is settled on the coffee table by the time Harry returns with the hot pizza.

“You know, Harry,” Louis says after he’s downed his first slice. He’s already eyeing Harry’s side of the pizza. Maybe eventually Harry will learn to just order a full hawaiian pizza for the two of them, claiming it was a mistake. “You shouldn’t be answering the door if you don’t even live here yet.”

Harry wipes his mouth with a napkin slowly, and he feels a blush creep onto his cheeks. “I’m sorry, I didn’t think you’d mind-- wait.”

Louis smirks and raises his eyebrows, chewing his pizza while staring at Harry intently. He always does this, Harry thinks - catches him off guard with a quick change of subject or a witty comment, then acts completely unphased. They haven’t so much as mentioned Louis’ living arrangement proposal from a couple of weeks ago, and now he’s acting like it’s just a continuation of a conversation they had three minutes ago.

“So?” Louis asks when Harry doesn’t respond.

“So what?”

“You want to move in or what?”

Harry shakes his head and laughs. “Where did that even come from? I thought you weren’t serious before. Lou, I don’t want to impose--”

“Oh my god.” Louis groans, putting his slice of pizza back in the box. “Please. Do I have to get on my knees and beg? Please, Harry Styles, move in with us. I love you, Mia loves you, we’d be so very lonely and sad without you, crying all the time--”

“Alright, alright,” Harry laughs, putting his hands up in surrender. There’s pizza grease on Louis’ bottom lip, and he’s smiling at Harry expectantly. “Fine, yeah. I’ll move in.”

Louis licks his lips, getting the bit of grease, before grinning. “Serious?”

Harry stares at him, shaking his head slowly in disbelief until Louis pouts at him. It’s unfair how attractive Louis is, Harry thinks. Even after a day of work, with his hair pushed back and an old t-shirt and sweatpants on, it’s like he’s ready to be photographed any minute. Harry would pull his phone out and take a picture of him now if it wouldn’t be completely batshit.

“Serious.”

_

Harry’s set to move in to Louis’ in three days, and he’s packed absolutely nothing.

“You know you have to, like--” Zayn gestures around the apartment. “You have to actually move. Boxes. Things.”

Harry groans, spreading his limbs out further and sprawling on the carpet. He’s been lying immobile on the living room floor of his and Zayn’s apartment for nearly an hour now. Packing is going really, really well.

“What if he hates all of my stuff?” Harry whines.

Zayn rolls his eyes but joins Harry on the floor, anyway. “He’s seen all of your stuff already. Maybe he hates it and still asked you to move in, yeah? He’s not a stranger you found on craigslist.”

“Comforting,” Harry says with a scoff. “Why are you moving, anyway? Who says you have to live with someone just because you’re engaged?”

Zayn gives Harry the same look he’s given him for the last week whenever he’s been begged to stay. Harry’s excited for him, really, but he also hasn’t lived with anyone else since they were sophomores in college. He’s grown a bit co-dependant.

Louis is a nice alternative, though. The three of them have been best friends for a while - Louis came in when Harry met him at the very first sit down with executives when they were launching Louis’ talk show. They’d hit it off, an instant connection, and that was that. Louis started hanging around with Harry and Zayn at their apartment, inviting them over to eat, and then to see Mia once she was born. The three musketeers, one of the other executives, Liam, calls them.

“I’m literally moving a mile down the road from Louis’, you know that, right?”

“But it won’t be the saaaame,” Harry whines again, nuzzling his face against Zayn’s ankle. Zayn pulls his foot away, laughing.

“Gross. You’re a child.”

“You love me.”

“Mm, debatable.” Zayn hums, knocking his knee against Harry’s side.

Harry sits up, looking around at their apartment. Most of the stuff here is Zayn’s, to be fair, so he’s not too worried about the actual packing process. Louis’ house is just a few miles from here, over in the nicest part of town. Harry’s apartment isn’t too shabby, either - it’s the top floor of one of the nicer buildings in the area. He and Zayn do well enough for themselves, but they’ve never wanted a huge place; they started out in a college dorm together, and they like to be in each other’s space, mostly.

It’ll be nice to have a yard and a mailbox over at Louis’, though.

“Hey,” Zayn says quietly after a moment. “You think it’ll be okay? You and Lou living together?”

“Well he has less hair products than you. So probably.” Harry shrugs.

Zayn rolls his eyes and lays back on the floor, tucking his hand underneath his head. “You know what I mean, you dick.”

Harry looks down at Zayn, moving his eyes across each of his features slowly. Zayn’s too observant. Harry learned that during their sophomore year of college when Zayn started leaving a glass of water by Harry’s bedside when he would go out (Harry never remembered to drink water when he got home before falling asleep, and he would throw up every time he didn’t). Zayn just knows Harry. It’s something Harry is annoyed and grateful for, most days.

“I mean,” Harrys starts before he yawns. He scratches at his neck while he slowly leans back to settle on the carpet alongside Zayn, both of them laying parallel but not facing each other. “We’re best friends first. Anything, uh, else is on the back-burner, you know? It’s a crush. I still think it’ll pass.”

Zayn turns his head and glares at Harry knowingly. “Do you.”

“Fuck off,” Harry laughs.

Zayn knew that Harry had a crush on Louis before Harry knew that he had a crush on Louis. It isn’t new, really - he’d pretty much met Louis and immediately “acted like he hung the stars in the sky”, according to Zayn. He’s never brought it up, obviously, because Louis has the show and Mia and they became best friends almost instantly, so. Harry’s sure that eventually the time will be right.

He just wishes the time were right now.

“Just don’t want it to be too rough for you or anything, man. Living in the same house and all that.”

“Look at you going soft.” Harry rolls his head over to shove his nose against Zayn’s shoulder. Zayn groans and lifts his arm to knock Harry off, making both of them laugh.

Harry shifts and resituates before continuing, “Who knows, maybe this will make it go away, anyway. Maybe Louis doesn’t know how to do laundry or, like, leaves dirty dishes all over the place.”

“Maybe, yeah,” Zayn says with a laugh, and Harry knows he’s rolling his eyes.

They lay there in silence for a while with the only background noise being the playlist on Zayn’s computer coming from his bedroom. Eventually Zayn sighs and sits up.

“Gonna miss you, though.”

Harry rolls his eyes and smiles. He loves Zayn, really.

“You too, Z.”

_

It’s not like Harry necessarily needed to sign all three of them up for the class. The website clearly states (as Louis has pointed out numerous times) that only one adult needs to accompany every child. Harry is an adult, apparently, so he could have easily brought Mia by himself.

But that wouldn’t have been nearly as fun as watching Louis struggle to get into his place of zen in a room full of babies and (mostly) moms.

Louis grunts next to Harry, losing his footing and dropping to a knee on his yoga mat. “I’m going to kill you.”

Harry laughs loudly, making two moms next to them shoot a look of disdain in their direction. Mia giggles too, from her place on the mat, clapping her hands together happily. She loves the class so far, letting Harry stretch her arms and legs as long as he keeps talking to her. Louis acts like he hates it, obviously, but Harry sees him smiling anytime Mia gets to do anything.

Harry knew he would love it, eventually. They’ve lived together for exactly two weeks now, and Harry felt it was his duty as roommate to sign them up for a baby yoga class. It’s only fair.

“Next, if you’ll sit with your legs crossed,” the instructor says. “Moms and dads, you can set a cushion under you for this one if you’d like.”

Harry reaches behind them and grabs the cushion that the class provides, offering it to Louis.

“Oh no, H,” Louis says, smirking. “This is all you. I’m just along for the ride, remember? ‘m not too flexible, myself.”

Harry grins at him. “You’re missing out.”

He settles on the cushion, sitting cross-legged before lifting Mia from the mat and placing her on his lap, facing away from him.

“Now, sit nice and tall,” the instructor - Harry thinks her name is Ellis - says slowly, taking a few deep breaths as she finishes. “Rest your hands gently on baby’s abdomen.”

Louis sits down next to Harry, stretching his legs out in front of him. Mia is a fan of the new seating arrangement, apparently, because she turns to look at Louis, immediately giving him a (nearly) toothless grin. She pats her hands against Harry’s much larger ones on her stomach, as if saying “Look at this!”, letting one hand linger and fiddle with one of his rings.

“Try to relax, everyone,” Ellis says quietly. “This relaxation will be felt by baby. Lift their arms out slowly, supporting their wrists underneath their forearms. Good.”

Harry follows the next few instructions carefully, lifting Mia’s arms above her head and to the side while inhaling and exhaling. Louis plays along, inhaling and lifting his arms at the same time as everyone else in the room without a baby, and exhaling when they all spread their arms out.

“Very good, Mr. Styles. What a happy, healthy baby.” Ellis stops at their mat, smiling down at them.

Mia gurgles like she’s heard the compliment, and Ellis smiles again before moving on to the next group.

“Think she’s flirting with you, man,” Louis leans over and whispers in Harry’s ear. Harry turns and shakes his head at Louis, who isn’t even smirking at him.

He looks irritated, even. Hm.

“Nah,” Harry laughs, stretching Mia’s arms above her head and smiling down at her. “‘s just the baby. She’s like a magnet.”

“That’s my child, please remember,” Louis says, his eyes on the front of the class now.

Harry smiles and nods. “I remember.”

A woman next to them leans over then, tapping Louis on the shoulder. “Your baby is so cute. And can I just say, you two are so adorable together!” She smiles at both of them.

Harry shakes his head quickly and Louis says, “Thank you, but we’re not--”

The instructor claps her hands together, smiling much too big for nine in the morning. “Now everyone without a baby, if you’ll stand for me.”

Louis stands, shrugging and brushing off his thighs while everyone else gets ready for the instructor’s next task. He had insisted on wearing something like yoga pants, much to Harry’s dismay. The black, tight fabric of his pants hugs Louis’ curves in all the right places, his tank top resting just above the waistband. When he had walked out of the bedroom this morning, Harry had dropped his toothbrush right out of his mouth and into the sink. Living with Louis is horrible for his dental hygiene, and even worse for his conscience. He tries to remember that they’re at a “baby and me” yoga class, but it’s hard when Louis’ ass looks so incredible and so close to him.

The instructor has them go through a few more sets of motions, eventually having Harry and everyone else stand and do the last couple of moves. Louis gets to help with one, holding onto Mia’s legs while Harry rests her back against his chest. She kicks her feet at Louis, giggling, and the whole class laughs and awws at how adorable she is.

Louis is beaming.

“See, that wasn’t awful, was it?” Harry asks once they’ve packed his yoga mat up properly and Louis is putting Mia’s tennis shoes back on.

“It was okay,” Louis says, going for nonchalant. “Guess all of your ideas aren’t awful.”

Harry rolls his eyes. “We’re roommates now. I know so many things that we can do like this.”

Louis rolls his eyes, too, albeit more dramatically, and laughs. “Can’t wait for new breathing techniques and more ways to throw my back out.”

“Getting old, Tomlinson?”

Louis holds the door open for Harry, who’s carrying Mia. “Not too old to kick your ass-- I mean, uh--” He shifts his eyes to Mia quickly. “Butt. I can kick your butt.”

“Intimidating.” Harry turns his head to face Louis. “I’d love to see you try.”

Louis winks, walking ahead of Harry and hoisting Mia’s bag higher up on his shoulder. Harry looks at Mia, who’s watching Louis and grinning like he’s the best thing she’s ever seen.

Harry feels like he and Mia have that in common.

_

It’s been a long week. The network has decided to film two weeks worth of shows during the week now instead of just the one, and it’s exhausting. They’ve been at the studio every night for the past six days for rehearsals and tapings, sometimes not getting home until hours after dinner. Mia is the least pleased of them all, probably - she absolutely hates sleeping in the small pack and play that’s been set up in Louis’ dressing room, then being woken up when it’s time to go home. It’s hard to get her to go back to sleep once she’s in her own crib. She’s been eating really awfully for the last week as well, tired of the mush and baby meals they’ve had to make on the go, which is why Harry decides to spend his Saturday at the farmer’s market, stocking up their kitchen. And also getting a haircut. He loves his hair long - he isn’t really cutting it, more of a trim than anything.

He has at least three brown bags full of fresh fruits and vegetables when he gets home around eight o’clock, not to mention a few bags from the regular grocery store that he stopped at on the way.

“Jesus, H, are we preparing for winter?” Louis says, padding into the kitchen.

He rubs at his eyes sleepily and yawns. He’s in sweatpants and a large sweater, the sleeves of it too long for his arms and they cover practically his whole hands.

“Haven’t been shopping in weeks,” Harry says. “I figured we could use some stuff.”

“I would’ve went with you if I’d known you were grocery shopping.”

Harry raises an eyebrow. Louis hates grocery shopping. “You hate grocery shopping.”

“Yeah, but I want to help. I feel bad that you’ve been doing everything around here.” He yawns again, stretching. “‘s not why I asked you to move in.”

“I know that--”

“Plus, you probably didn’t get the cereal that I like.”

Harry laughs and shakes his head before rummaging down to the bottom of one of the bags. He pulls out a box of cereal, Louis’ favorite, and holds it out to him. He’s wounded that Louis thinks he wouldn’t remember.

“Oh my god, I could kiss you,” Louis says excitedly, squealing in a way that he’ll deny later. He makes grabby hands for the box and Harry laughs nervously before handing it over.

Every part of his brain is repeating what Louis just said over and over again, which he quickly quiets by coughing into his hand and turning back to the groceries.

Louis puts his cereal next to the fridge and comes to stand next to Harry at the counter, hip-checking him. Harry turns his head to smile at him and starts pulling out the fruits and vegetables from one of the bags. Louis makes a pleased sound when Harry sets out the tomatoes and green peppers.

“Please tell me you’re making the spaghetti tonight,” Louis whines, knowing that Harry always uses green peppers in his sauce. It’s a recipe his mom taught him when he was younger and Louis says it’s better than his own mother’s. Not that they’ll ever tell her that.

Harry laughs. “I can if you want. Mia never likes it though,” he says with a frown, folding the now empty paper bag.

Louis bounces on his toes. “She’s not here.” Harry furrows his eyebrows together and looks over at Louis. “Yeah, Mom and Dan took her to their house for the night, because she said that I, quote, ‘look like a zombie and needed some rest’. And she missed the little monster.”

Harry nods and Louis continues, “So it’s just us tonight. I’ve already had a nap and everything. Spaghetti, beer, and Netflix?” he asks with bright eyes, still bouncing on his toes. He moves behind Harry, wrapping his arms around his middle, and rests his cheek between Harry’s shoulders. “Please?”

Harry looks down at Louis hands clasped in front of him and wonders when he got to the point in his life that a night in sounds worlds better than any night out at a fancy club he would’ve had four years ago. That’s fun, too, but the thought of sitting next to Louis on the couch until they fall asleep half-way through some bad Netflix movie is making his heart flutter. He’s really gotta pull it together.

“Yeah, sounds perfect. Lemme just finish this and then I’ll start cooking.”

“I’ll start on the beer, then,” Louis says seriously, moving to stand next to Harry and smiling at him when he rolls his eyes. Louis leans up and places a large, wet kiss on his cheek, coming off with a loud smack.

He grabs a beer from the fridge and winks before making his way into the living room. Harry’s eyes drop shamefully to follow the movement of Louis’ hips, and he can’t stop thinking about tracing his fingers over the skin there, exposed where his sweater is riding up. When he turns back towards the groceries, he realizes that he’s been gripping the counter so hard that his knuckles have turned white.

It doesn’t take long to make his special spaghetti - he’s been doing it for years now - and by the time he yells that dinner is ready, Louis has already had two beers.

“Looks amazing, Harold,” Louis says once they’ve sat down in the living room with their plates.

They have an entire dining room, with a china cabinet full of things that Louis ordered on a whim after he landed his spot as host (“Every television host probably has a china cabinet, Harry, I can’t be left out,” Louis had told him the first time he came to the house for dinner), but they rarely even step foot in it. Louis is so laid-back, Harry thinks. Working for the network, he’s met so many of primetime’s big shots, and almost all of them are stuck up their own asses and are awful to be around. Louis never took anything for granted from day one, and he lives this life the same way he would if he were living back in his hometown, just a bit more comfortably.

Harry opens his first beer and nods in thanks to Louis. “Anything for you, roomie,” he jokes.

“Such a sap. What do you want to watch?” Louis asks. He’s got Netflix pulled up already on the big screen, and he’s flipping through the movie choices with one hand while simultaneously shoving a huge fork-full of spaghetti into his mouth.

Harry wonders sometimes if he could be in love without even knowing it.

“I don’t care, really. Pick something from the most popular.”

“Really?” Louis pauses and turns to Harry. “I’m surprised you don’t want to watch the most obscure, unheard of movie on here. Would fit your music taste.” He smirks and raises his eyebrows in challenge before taking another bite of spaghetti.

Harry slurps up a noodle loudly before forcing out a dry laugh. “Ha ha. A regular comedian.”

Louis settles on some superhero movie that Harry has seen before (twice), but he lies and says he hasn’t. He doesn’t mind watching it again.

“Want another?” Louis asks whenever he gets up halfway through eating to get another beer. Harry nods.

An hour or so into the movie, their plates are practically licked clean and placed on the coffee table, and they’re both resting against the couch cushions, too full to move. Louis is on his fourth beer now, Harry on his third. The movie is fine a third time, Harry thinks, and Louis is completely into it.

“Why is he going back to save her?” Louis says, sitting up. “What the fuck? She can save herself! She has her own powers! It’s not like she even called for him.”

Harry smiles softly against the mouth of his bottle. “Love, and all that.”

“Well, yeah, but she’s a badass by herself.”

“True.”

They watch in silence for a while, eventually downing another beer after Harry takes their dishes to the sink to soak. Louis’ cheeks are a nice rosy color now, his eyes a bit glassy. He’s quite the lightweight, even though he’ll deny that until he’s blue in the face. Harry’s feeling a bit buzzed, too, now that he thinks about it.

“Want to watch another movie?” Louis asks, resituating himself. He’s got his feet up, his toes nearly touching Harry’s thigh, with his back against the arm of the couch. He stretches his legs out, hovering his feet over Harry’s legs in question. Harry nods, patting his lap, and Louis sighs before plopping his legs on top of Harry’s.

“Are you cold?” Harry asks once Louis’ hit play on the next movie (a romantic comedy this time, Harry’s choice).

“A bit, yeah,” Louis says with a nod. “It’s alright, though.”

Harry reaches behind them and grabs the blanket off the back of the couch. He shakes it out a few times and drapes it over Louis and his own lap. “Yeah?”

“So good to me.” Louis smiles at Harry and slides down to lay fully on the couch, tucking the blanket under his chin. He looks so good, Harry thinks, watching him as the light from the television flickers on his face.

They stay like that for a while, both of them totally entranced by the movie. Louis loves it, Harry can tell, because he keeps scoffing any time the girl rejects the main guy. He keeps moving his legs around on Harry’s lap, squirming to get comfortable until finally Harry puts a hand down on his shin to still him. Louis huffs but stops moving.

Harry doesn’t moves his hand. Neither of them mention it.

“Okay,” Louis says after he’s leaned up to finish off the last of his beer. The movie’s ended and he’s definitely tipsy now, the ends of his words coming out a little slurred. “That movie was unrealistic as fuck.”

Harry rests his head on the back of the couch and laughs. “How so?”

“This guy is so hot, like--” Louis shakes his head and lays back down. “Nobody would reject him, right? I wouldn’t, I mean.”

Harry bites down on his bottom lip, smiling.

“Don’t give me that look, Styles.” Louis laughs. “I’m single as fuck.”

Harry can relate. He clears his throat.

Louis sighs and continues, “It’s been, like, so long since I’ve even slept with someone.”

Harry isn’t sure where the sudden declaration came from, until he remembers the four or so beers that Louis has had. He rolls his head on the back of the couch to look at Louis. “Really?”

“Really.”

“Hm.” Harry hums, looking back up at the ceiling. He doesn’t need to think about Louis’ sex life. He doesn’t need to think about sleeping with Louis.

“I like your haircut, by the way,” Louis says suddenly, pulling Harry out of his thoughts. “I can see your ears again. I like them, they’re quirky.”

Harry pinches Louis’ leg underneath the blanket, and he yelps. He tucks the blanket around Louis’ legs, making him look like a burrito. Louis laughs and kicks his feet, messing up all of Harry’s hard work. They settle after a moment, mindlessly watching the credits roll on the screen.

“Me too,” Harry says finally after a moment of silence. “About the sleeping with anyone thing.”

“Really?”

“Really,” Harry says with a nod.

The light music of the credits from the movie is the only sound in the room, until Louis hums in acknowledgement before rubbing at his eyes and groaning.

“‘m gonna feel like shit in the morning.”

Harry laughs. “I know.”

“Another movie?” Louis asks, tucking the blanket under his chin again looking up at Harry with his eyes half-lidded. He smiles softly, shifting his legs on Harry’s lap. There’s honestly nowhere else that Harry would rather be. He moves his hand up and down Louis’ shin once, before placing it back where it was and squeezing.

“Yeah, pick whatever you want.”

They watch another superhero movie and drink two more beers, and it isn’t long until Harry feels fuzzy and tired, the rest of the night seeming like a giant blur.

_

It’s still dark whenever Harry wakes up. There’s no light in the room whatsoever, and still his head is already pounding. He doesn’t even remember falling asleep, and it takes him a minute to gather his surroundings.

He moves to roll over when he realizes that he’s not alone in bed. Louis is in front of him, his back nearly pressed to Harrys front, and Harry’s got an arm thrown over his hip. He shoves his face into the pillow, muffling his groan. They sleep in the same bed sometimes, never cuddled together, really, but this isn’t completely new territory. The bottom of Louis’ sweater is completely pushed up, the small of his back and his hip exposed underneath the duvet. Harry moves his thumb over Louis’ hip bone once before slowly pulling his arm back, and Louis stirs.

Harry freezes. Louis doesn’t wake up, just rolls onto his back at the same moment that Harry backs up, slowly rolling out of bed. Louis scratches at his chest in his sleep and knits his eyebrows together, opening his mouth and breathing deeply. He looks so pretty like this, and it’s unfair, Harry thinks.

He stands and adjusts himself in his shorts - he’s glad that he woke up first, at least, that they didn’t wake up at the same time and pressed together. Avoids the awkward morning boners and all that, of course. Harry rubs a hand over his face and glances at Louis again before tiptoeing quietly into the bathroom.

He gives himself a very brief yet very stern pep talk in the mirror before hopping into the shower. He lets himself stand under the stream of water for a while, the water running down his back and all of his hair sticking to his skin. The water is hot and it’s early - he never wants to get out.
When he does get out, he dries his hair out enough that it’s not dripping onto his shoulders, then wraps the towel around his waist. He pads quietly back into Louis’ bedroom, where they’d apparently crashed after movies last night, to get his t-shirt he’d discarded before falling asleep. He goes as quietly as possible, hoping not to wake Louis.

Only Louis is already awake, and scrolling through his phone.

“Hmph,” Louis grunts, not looking away from his phone, acknowledging Harry.

The sun is rising, so there is some light trickling into the bedroom through the curtains. Harry doesn’t need to use the flashlight on his phone anymore, he can see fine, and he doesn’t need to worry about being quiet anymore.

“Morning, Lou,” he whispers, walking to his side of the bed. Well, the side of the bed he’d been sleeping on. Not his side. Louis’ bed. Right.

“Hi,” Louis says, finally drifting his eyes from his phone to where Harry is standing. In the dim light of the morning, Harry can see Louis’ eyes travel up a down his body slowly. He feels like he’s being lit on fire, and he wants to shield his body, suddenly. He remembers that he’s just got a towel lazily slung low around his hips and gulps.

“Hi,” Louis repeats, his voice sounding like he’s just woken up, all gravel and roughness. He clears his throat abruptly and looks back at his phone. “Sorry, we must’ve just passed out in here because it was closest to the living room.” He laughs.

Harry shakes his head, a few droplets of water falling onto the bed sheets. “S’alright. I was drunk, I could’ve fallen asleep anywhere.”

“Mmhm, me too,” Louis says with a nod. He squirms in the bed, his hand moving under the blanket towards his lower stomach. Harry has to bite his lip to keep from screaming. “Are you staying in here? Because I need to change and--. I’ll see you in a bit for breakfast?” He says quickly, the sentences running together.

“Yeah-- yeah,” Harry stutters, “I’ll just be-- Bye.”

He turns quickly and shuffles out of the room, his feet dragging across the hardwood floor. He pauses when he shuts the bedroom door, collecting himself and leaning his head back against the door frame. Nothing even happened, not really, but he still feels like his skin is buzzing. He breathes out a long breath, reminding himself that this is just a stupid crush and it will go away. Eventually.

At the same moment, he can hear Louis sigh loudly and curse under his breath.
_

The first time it happens, Harry doesn’t really know what to do.

They go shopping a few days later, the three of them. Harry’s pushing Mia’s empty stroller, and she’s in her usual spot - hooked onto Louis’ hip. They’ve been browsing all morning for nothing in particular. Harry needs some new jeans, and wants to get Mia something for their yoga classes. He saw online that they make tiny yoga clothes for babies, not that he was looking or anything, and he’s been dying to buy some ever since. It’s just all so tiny.

“Do you think I could wear sweatpants every day and get away with it?” Louis asks with a sigh when they’re in one of the higher end stores. He puts a pair of skinny jeans back on the rack slowly, frowning.

“And still look good? Yeah. And still keep your dignity and job? No, probably not.” Harry frowns back, turning it into a silly face when he makes eye contact with Mia.

“Fine,” Louis says, grabbing the jeans off the rack again. “If you insist.”

“I’m honestly exhausted,” Harry says, yawning. “Could use a nap when Baby takes one later.”

“You know, I didn’t just give her a name for shits and giggles,” Louis says quietly over his shoulder, careful that Mia won’t hear him. “Do you hate my name choice or something?”

Harry laughs into his hand. “No, Lou, you know I love her name. Amelia Tomlinson. Fit for a princess.”

“Don’t start.”

“But I don’t know, she’s just...Baby. Always has been. ‘s just my nickname for her.”

Louis hums. “It’s cute, at least.”

“Only fair, since she’s the cutest little bean in the world,” Harry coos exaggeratedly from behind Louis, and Mia turns her head to look at him.

She giggles, reaching her hand out to Harry. “Da-da!”

“I’m here, sweetie,” Louis says, unfocused, his eyes raking over a t-shirt on the display mannequin. He reaches out to touch it absentmindedly.

Harry’s eyes are wide, registering what Mia’s just said, and he stops walking. He fish mouths for a moment, shaking his head. “No, Baby--”

“Da-da!” she says again, smiling wide. She makes grabby hands at Harry, who’s standing completely still behind them.

“What is it-- Oh,” Louis says, turning his head to Mia and quickly realizing that she’s not calling out to him at all. He looks back at Harry. “Oh.”

“I--” Harry starts, shaking his head again. “Baby, I’m Harry,” he explains slowly. Trying to speak logically to a baby, right, he’s lost it. “This-- this is Da-da.” He points to Louis.

Mia frowns, not understanding. She seems to give up, however, letting her head fall onto Louis’ shoulder and tucking her thumb between her lips. Louis watches the exchange with bright eyes. He smiles at Harry softly.

“Sorry, that’s, uh,” Harry says, laughing nervously and running a hand through his hair. “Weird.”

“She’s just confused, probably” Louis shrugs, Mia’s head bouncing up lightly. “It’s okay, H. She’s, like, a baby. Probably thinks Zayn is her dad too.”

Harry laughs again. “Yeah, probably.”

_

It keeps happening. Mia calls him “Da-da” at least once every day for the next week. It just becomes a thing, something that they laugh about. They’ve both corrected her, but somewhere around the twentieth time, both of them just stop noticing.

_

“It’s weird, right?” Harry says to Zayn a week later.

They’re sat in Zayn’s library at his new house - it’s spacious and a bit dark and completely perfect for Zayn. He told Harry that he spends most, if not all, of his free time in here.

Zayn yawns, stretching out on the loveseat. “What?”

“Do you listen to me, like, ever?”

“No,” Zayn deadpans.

“God,” Harry says, laughing. “I was saying, it’s a little weird that Baby calls me, like, dad, isnt it?”

Zayn shrugs. “I mean, I guess? You’ve been his best friend the entire time she’s been alive. All she knows is you being attached to Louis’ hip, really. Especially now that you fucking live there.”

Harry stares up at the rows of books on the shelves. He’s laying in the middle of the floor, comfortable on one of (probably) the most ridiculously expensive rugs in the world.

“I don’t want to confuse her. Or me. Or Louis, I guess.”

“I think the only person confused here, honestly, is me.” Zayn throws his hands up in the air, huffing.

“Hmm?”

“It’s been months now, you living there. I can’t fuckin’ believe you haven’t done anything.”

Harry sits up, shaking his head. “What--?”

“You and Louis are dating.”

“We aren’t--”

“I know, but you are literally dating. I know you can’t see it with all of that hair in your eyes--” He smirks when Harry whines and shakes out his hair. “But jesus christ, you’re so into each other it’s disgusting.”

“I mean, yes, I’m a little into Louis,” Harry says, pausing when Zayn scoffs. “But I don’t really think he sees me as more of, you know. His roommate and best friend. Et cetera.”

Zayn rolls his eyes. “Remember when me, Niall, and Liam came over for dinner the other night?”

Harry nods. He’d made the whole group his speciality pork chops with a side of mashed potatoes and squash. It was delicious, if he says so himself.

“Okay, please understand that Louis literally lit up like a goddamn glow worm at every compliment you got, and wouldn’t stop talking the next day about how delicious and incredible your cooking is.”

Harry gulps. His lips turn up into a soft smile. “He liked it?”

Zayn’s face falls flat. “You’re my best friend, but you are so dense, man. Have you ever asked him out? Even just to, like, a movie? Or dinner?”

Harry shakes his head, pursing his lips tight. “No.”

“Please, if you love me at all, just ask? Totally casual, take him to dinner or something. Worst case scenario, he seems not at all into it and you play it off like you just wanted to get out of the house. Yeah?”

“And if he calls me a loser and kicks me out?”

“Louis loves you, idiot, he’d never do that.”

“And if he does?” Harry repeats sternly, raising his eyebrows at Zayn.

Zayn sighs, defeated. “If he does, you can move in with me. Live in my library, be my own personal librarian or something.”

“Okay,” Harry says. He sucks in a large breath, letting it out slowly. “Okay.”

_

Harry decides that he’ll ask Louis to dinner that Friday. He goes for casual, texting him that morning and asking if he wants to go to the new Italian place in the city. He doesn’t say much besides that, really - he decides to save any bursting declarations of feelings and all that for later, to save himself some embarrassment. Just in case. Louis responds quickly, and Harry breathes out a sigh of relief.

oooh sounds good :) was just craving pasta, u read my mind

That was easy, Harry thinks. Granted he hasn’t really mentioned the part where he’s maybe, probably a little bit in love with Louis, but. Dinner is a good start.

Only it’s not.

Harry is sweating through his shirt, standing outside of the restaurant a few minutes before the time that he and Louis set to meet. They could have driven together from home, but Harry had a meeting at the network’s headquarters so he told Louis they could meet after. He’s got on a button down, in Louis’ favorite color, and his tightest pair of skinny jeans. His long hair is pulled back into a bun, which Louis always says looks good on him. He’s ready, he thinks, despite being nervous enough to throw up.

Louis gets there right on time, looking incredible in black jeans and a baby blue v-neck shirt. He smiles at Harry as soon as he gets out of the car, parked on the street right in front of the restaurant.

“Hi,” Harry says, pushing himself away from the brick wall he’d been leaning against. “You look--”

His words get caught in his throat when Louis opens the car’s back door. To get Mia from her car seat. Because he brought Mia.

“Hi,” Harry repeats, shaking his head. He’s lost.

He loves Mia, but. He’d clearly been too casual, fuck, of course. They go to dinner all the time, why would this have been any different? Louis probably thought he was just saying, “Hey, we should all grab a bite tonight!”, because he’s never asked him on a fucking date before. He needed some sort of opening, some code word that would scream that it was a very non-platonic date.

Harry pulls out his phone while Louis situates Mia and texts Zayn.

think i fucked it up

Zayn replies almost immediately, and Harry laughs at the thought of Zayn waiting by his phone to hear from him. ??????

he’s here, but must not kno it’s a date bc he brought mia!!!

Zayn’s response doesn’t come until they’re walking to their table. o my god. guess u’ll just have to ask again :)

Harry rolls his eyes, stuffing his phone back into his pocket. Louis puts Mia in her high chair at the table, sitting across from Harry and picking up his menu.

He smiles, his eyes twinkling in the dim light of the restaurant. “Glad you wanted to try this place. Looks delicious.”

Harry stares at him for a moment. He looks down at his lap and shakes his head, smiling. Zayn is never going to let him live this down.

“Yeah,” he says, looking back up. “Me too.”

_

They get home late, and by the time they get through the front door, Mia is asleep in Louis’ arms. They shuffle in the house quickly, Louis taking her straight to her bedroom for the night. Harry hovers by the front door, toeing off his shoes and letting his hair down from the tight bun he’s had it in since this morning. He shakes it out just as Louis is coming back into the living room.

“‘m so full,” he says, sighing.

Harry walks towards him, stopping when they’re both in the space between the living room and the kitchen. “Me too, yeah. It was delicious.”

The food had been amazing. Harry had kicked himself, mentally, throughout the appetizer and entree for fucking this up so royally, but by dessert he had just made a note to make it more obvious next time. Maybe he could bring Louis flowers or something. Mia had loved the dinner too, gobbling up their kids’ spaghetti much faster than she ever eats Harry’s.

“We’ll have to go again.” Louis smiles and pokes Harry in the stomach. Harry groans, covering his mouth like he’s going to be sick, making Louis laugh.

Louis’s hair was swept across his forehead earlier in the night, but he’s since pushed it back so that it’s out of his eyes. He looks beautiful, like he always does, Harry thinks. He’s always thought that, since the moment he met him - the day they met Louis had just gotten back from a vacation in Hawaii and he was golden tan and gorgeous. Now that Harry knows him so well, knows all of his quirks, it makes him even more beautiful somehow. He knows what Louis looks like in the morning when he stumbles out of his room and his face lights up because there’s tea already ready for him. He knows that anytime Louis gets upset, his face gets red and his bottom lip sticks out like a pouting child. Harry knows Louis, better than he knows most things.

Louis licks his lips, looking up at Harry now. It isn’t intentional, Harry knows, but it still makes his his skin heat up and is ultimately what makes him decide to just say ‘fuck it’.

“We will,” he says slowly. “Maybe next time we could-- You know. It could be just us?”

Louis stares at him for a long moment, his mouth opening and closing once in confusion. "I didn't think you'd mind--. Uh." Harry’s an idiot.

“Not that--” he starts. “Fuck, not that I don’t want Baby there. I love her. That isn’t what I meant.” He can’t believe how much of a flop he is, sometimes. “I just like--”

He runs a hand through his hair. He didn’t prepare for this. He thought he could send a casual text to ask Louis out to dinner and it would go from there, and then maybe they would get married and live happily ever after. It was going to be so simple.

“What do you mean?” Louis asks.

“It’s stupid. You’ll laugh.”

“Probably,” Louis says, smiling easily. He pinches Harry’s hip. “C’mon, what is--”

“I asked you on a date.”

Louis’ hand stills on Harry’s hip before he pulls it back. “What?”

Harry laughs, looking up at the ceiling. He looks back at Louis, who looks so adorably confused. “I-- Jesus. When I asked you to dinner, I’d meant, like. I don’t know, Zayn told me that I could take you to dinner and--”

“Zayn? Wait, a date?” Louis is smiling so softly at Harry that it makes Harry want to kiss him on the lips. He’s shaking his head now, trying to understand.

“Yeah, I fucked it up, a bit. I was too nervous to ask you in person, so I just, you know. And I guess the ‘date’ part wasn’t too clear. I’m sorry. We can never talk about this again, I promise.”

Louis is still smiling at him, which Harry takes as a good sign.

“You wanted to take me out to dinner?” he asks, quietly. He’s standing so close.

Harry smiles, biting his bottom lip. “Yeah. ‘m sorry if that’s weird. I know we’re--” He waves a hand between them, gesturing at nothing in particular, not even sure what he means. “And I don’t want to fuck that up.”

“Doesn’t mess it up, I don’t think.” Louis says, shaking his head. “Not if I also want to be taken out to dinner.”

Harry feels like his lungs aren’t working, they mustn’t be, because he can’t get air into them fast enough.

“Really?”

Louis rolls his eyes. “Yeah, everyone loves free dinner right?” Harry frowns, making Louis laugh quietly into his hand. “I’m joking. I would really like that. Oh god, I’m so sorry that I did that. I had no idea. Oh, fuck.”

“No, it’s fine!” Harry laughs and covers his face with his hands. “I’m such an idiot.”

“We’re both idiots.”

“We are.” They both laugh for a minute, a silence washing over the living room when they both quiet. “So, tomorrow night, maybe? Are you free?”

Louis beams at him, pinching Harry’s hip again. “I can clear my schedule, probably.”

Harry grins, feeling a little bit like he’s floating on clouds. He has a date with Louis. A real one this time.

_

Zayn agrees to sacrifice his Saturday night with his fiance to come over and watch Mia for the night. He laughs at Harry for two minutes straight upon arrival, clapping him on the back and saying that he did good, eventually. He drops Zayn off in the living room before hurrying back to the bathroom to get ready.

“Louis is around here somewhere,” Harry says. He’s fixing his hair, for the tenth time tonight.

Zayn hums from the living room before bursting into laughter. “Oh no, Mia. Don’t put that in your mouth.”

“Zayn,” Harry warns.

“I got her, chill out.”

Harry rolls his eyes and looks at himself in the mirror. His hair is in the same style that it was last night, pulled into a tight bun on the back of his head. He’s in another button-up, patterned this time and his chest is showing where he’s got a few of the highest buttons undone. He brushes his teeth twice, just in case.

The doorbell rings, and Harry calls out to Zayn, “Can you get that?”

“Not my house, man,” Zayn says, laughing quietly.

“Louis!” Harry calls louder, gaining no response.

Harry groans, spitting out the last of his toothpaste into the sink and wiping his mouth off with a hand towel. He mutters how useless Zayn is when he walks to the front door, earning a scoff out of his friend.

When he opens the door, his knees nearly buckle.

“Hi,” Louis says, standing on their front porch in black jeans and a loose gray sweater. He’s holding flowers - sunflowers, Harry’s favorite - and holds them out when Harry doesn’t say anything. “For you.”

“What are you doing?” Harry smiles, taking the flowers and sniffing them.

“I’m picking you up for our date.”

Harry shakes his head slowly, a wide grin stretching across his face. “I thought you were in your room.”

“I’ve been gone for, like, 20 minutes and you haven’t even noticed.” Louis sighs dramatically.

“I noticed-- And hey, why are you picking me up? I asked you out.”

Louis nods. “Yeah, but I wasted at least a year not asking you out, and then you beat me to it. I had to do something.”

Harry tucks his chin against his chest, smiling against the flowers and giving them a long sniff. This is going much better than he ever anticipated.

“Are you ready, then?” Louis asks, giving Harry a look up and down. “You look amazing.”

“So do you,” Harry says quietly. “Yeah, I’m, uh--. Let me just throw my shoes on.”

He makes quick of putting his shoes on, after finding a vase and filling it with water and his new flowers, then says a quick goodbye to Mia and Zayn. She’s already sat comfortably in his lap, showing him her favorite picture book. They’ll be like that for at least an hour, Harry thinks. Louis says his goodbyes, too, and then they’re off.

They take Harry’s car, since he made the reservation (“It’s only fair,” he had reasoned). The drive to the restaurant is mostly comfortable silence, music from the radio filling the car. Harry is shaking in his skin, too nervous to even think about anything. He figures Louis probably isn’t nervous - he’s always so calm about everything.

When they get to the restaurant, Harry guides Louis in the door with a hand on the small of his back, and they get taken to a table near the back of the place. Their waiter seems nice enough, if not a bit too chipper, and Harry orders a glass of wine for both of them.

“How did you know my favorite wine?” Louis asks, raising an eyebrow. “Very impressive for a first date.”

“Been creeping on you for weeks, of course,” Harry responds coolly.

Louis laughs and gives Harry a look. “Of course, right.”

He starts telling Harry about his morning - apparently their toaster oven is broken, due to some unfortunate events with a pop-tart. It’s easy being on a date with Louis, Harry decides. He thought it would feel completely different and like fireworks going off in his head, and it does in a lot of way, but it also feels like something he's been doing forever. Everything with Louis is just easy. They’ve eaten out together plenty of times, been around each other for years now. It’s different now, though, it is. When Louis smiles and talks, Harry allows himself to glance down at his lips and watch the way they move. He always did that before, but now he does it unabashedly and only blushes a little bit when he gets caught.

Louis’ lips are moving but Harry’s lost focus, for just a second. He snaps his eyes up again and coughs. “Sorry, what?”

Louis smirks. “Distracted, Styles?”

He blushes. Apparently that won’t be going away. “A little.”

“Mm, anything in particular?”

Harry shakes his head and looks down at his menu. “Nope.”

Louis kicks him underneath the table and they laugh. It’s a bit weird, being on a date with each other. Harry hasn’t been on a date in at least a year, and even that was a pretty horrific experience. With Louis it’s exciting, and all of this is so new. They cuddle and tease each other at home, but it’s different, somehow.

They order their entrees in between talking, and soon they have two gorgeous set ups in front of them.

“Jesus,” Louis says. “Gorgeous. Look at yours!”

Harry nods. “I know, this looks amazing.”

They don’t talk much for a bit, both of them only letting out small hums of appreciation with every bite. Louis pokes his fork over at Harry’s plate to taste his dish, which Harry allows only because Louis is cute, okay.

“Mia seems like she likes the baby yoga classes,” Louis mentions after they’ve finished eating. They’ve been debating ordering dessert - Louis wants the cheesecake, Harry wants the chocolate mousse.

“And you?”

Louis’ tongue moves across his bottom lip slowly, and he smiles. “Not hating it. It’s fun, I’ll admit.”

“Ah,” Harry whispers, putting a fist in the air. “Victory.”

“Shut up,” Louis laughs. “I am, you know, really happy that you love her so much. It’s been nice having you to help and just be with her when I can’t be. She loves you a lot. God, listen to me.” Louis shakes his head.

“No, it’s cute. I adore her, you know that. I guess you’re alright, too.”

Louis smiles, letting out a small breath. “You’re not bad.”

“Can I ask you something?” Harry asks after a moment. Louis nods, so he continues. “What you said earlier, about wanting to ask me out for a while…?”

Louis wipes his mouth off with his napkin and nods. His hair is pushed back again, styled up with a bit of hairspray, even.

“Yeah, I’ve always kinda...had a thing for you?” Harry raises his eyebrows in surprise and Louis laughs. “Which sounds dumb. I don’t know, we were just really close and I didn’t know if you’d feel the same, blah blah, so I just never said anything.”

“We’re so stupid.” Harry says, putting his face in his hands. “I was the same way.”

“I guess we just have a lot of catching up to do, then.” Louis reaches out his foot and hooks it around Harry’s ankle.

“I guess so.”

They end up ordering dessert (Harry lets Louis win, which he senses is going to be a pattern, and they get the cheesecake), which comes pretty quickly. There are strawberries and a red syrup drizzled all over it, and it looks amazing.

“I feel like there are no first date awkward questions to ask you,” Louis says, putting the first bite of cheesecake into his mouth. He hums around his fork, closing his eyes. “Fuck, that’s amazing.”

“Try me.”

“I already know everything, I think.”

“Hmm, false.” Harry takes a bite of his dessert and shakes his head. “You don’t know
that in third grade I was nominated as primary caregiver to our class pet turtle.”

Louis throws his head back and laughs. “I didn’t. But of course you were.”

“I was really good at it, no matter what Mrs. Laurie says. I was one hell of a turtle-sitter.”

“Yeah? And what happened to the turtle, babe?”

Harry practically preens at the pet name, but he recovers quickly. “It may or may not have died on my watch.”

Louis howls with laughter now, covering his mouth when two of the restaurant guests shoot them a look.

“Harry!”

“Okay, listen. How was I, a tiny third grader, supposed to know that turtles needed to be fed, like, every day.”

“Oh my god, so glad I leave you in charge of my child.” Louis wipes tears from his eyes. “I’m just imagining a little you, crying because you’ve killed this poor turtle.”

“It was tragic.”

“Do you tell all of your first dates this? Is this your line?” Louis asks, moving his foot up Harry’s leg when he shifts in his seat.

“Definitely. Is it working?” Harry asks, waggling his eyebrows.

“I’m pretty easy for it, honestly.” Louis sighs. “You’re awful. But yes, totally working.”

Harry winks dramatically, and Louis laughs. They continue telling embarrassing childhood stories, some that they’ve talked about before and some new. They’ve probably been at dinner for two hours by the time they stand to leave.

The walk to the car is just a couple of blocks, and the weather is nice. They’re silent at first, walking in step and then laughing when they realize.

“I like this,” Harry says quietly when they’re getting a little closer to the car. “Glad we stopped being so stupid. Or ‘dense’, as Zayn has called us many times.”

Louis giggles, turning his face to hide it in Harry’s shoulder. “Me too.”

Harry nudges Louis’ hand with his pinky, and Louis slides their hands together, lacing their fingers. His hand feels so tiny in Harry’s, and he strokes at his skin with his thumb. It feels natural, to be walking down the street and holding hands with Louis, and yet still feels like the most wild thing he’s ever done.

_

When they get back to the house, Harry isn’t sure what’s going to happen. They live together already (they may have skipped a few steps in the dating game), so it isn’t like they’ll walk to the front door and have an awkward goodbye, promising to do this again soon. Will they walk in, say hi to Zayn, then go to their separate bedrooms? Will they stay out in the living room and watch a movie? He’s over-thinking it, maybe, but he’s also very nervous, so.

“Come on,” Louis says when they get to the front door. He opens it wide, walking in and pulling Harry behind him by the hand.

Zayn is sat on the couch, and he stretches and yawns when they walk in. “Oh look, it’s the lovebirds.”

Harry smiles at him as they walk through the living room. "Was Mia alright?"

Zayn nods. "She was perfect. Just went down about--"

Louis shushes him. "Nope, not yet. This is the end of a real first date, no babysitter talk. I'm doing this right."

Harry giggles, tripping over his own feet, following behind Louis.

"Okay, sure, just pretend I'm not even here." Zayn rolls his eyes and smiles. He's playing it cool, Harry knows. He's been waiting for something to happen between them for just as long.

Louis ignores Zayn, continuing to pull Harry through the living room until they’re at Harry’s bedroom door. He turns and stands in front of him in one swift motion, steadying himself before smiling and putting a hand on Harry's hip.

“So,” Louis starts, breathing out with a smile on his lips, like he's pleased with their destination.

Harry smiles wide at him. He’s so happy. “So.”

“What are you doing?” Zayn calls from the living room, standing up and putting his shoes on while he gives them a confused look.

Louis rolls his eyes. “Well, I’m walking Harry to his door, of course. Like a gentleman.”

“Oh my god,” Zayn says. “I’m leaving.” His face is emotionless, and Harry laughs into his hand. Mia is asleep in her room, and he doesn’t want her to wake up.

Zayn gives them a quick wave before ducking out the door, muttering about how gross they are. Harry agrees, a little bit, and he loves it.

“Let’s do this again, okay? Like, all the time.” Louis is biting down on his bottom lip and grinning. He looks like he’s as excited as Harry feels.

“Okay, yeah. Lots to make up for, like you said.”

“Right.” Louis smiles, his eyes trailing down Harry’s face to his lips. “So much.”

Harry nods, doing the same. He knows they look giddy and ridiculous, grinning at each other like lunatics. He couldn't care less. “Lots and lots.”

Louis looks up at him, a tiny smirk pulling at one side of his mouth. He licks his lips quickly before standing on his tip-toes the tiniest bit, so that his face is right in front of Harry’s. “Can’t wait.”

Harry leans forward just enough so that their lips connect, and it’s like every nerve in his body is being affected. Louis’ lips are just as soft as he’d always imagined, go figure, and they slide against Harry’s so effortlessly. The kiss is short, Harry darting out his tongue once quickly to run it across at Louis’ bottom lip. Louis wraps his arms around Harry’s neck when they break apart, pulling him eagerly into another kiss. Harry laughs against his lips, squeezing Louis’ hips before putting an arm around his waist and pulling him even closer. It feels amazing to be kissing him, after all this time, and he never wants to stop. He’d sacrifice a lot in his life if it meant never having to stop kissing Louis Tomlinson.

They fade the kiss out slowly, Louis kissing his lips one, two, three times before pulling back. He smooths down the ends of Harry’s hair against the back of his neck, smiling at him. His eyes are so blue, this close, and he’s got freckles on the bridge of his nose that Harry’s never even noticed.

"Wow," Louis whispers against Harry's lips. He tastes like the strawberries from the cheesecake earlier but sweeter, and Harry already wants to kiss him again.

So he does. He ducks his chin and gives Louis light kiss on the mouth, and Louis smiles shyly when Harry leans back to look at him. "I like you, you know."

Louis laughs. "I like you, too. Just so there's no question."

Harry feels dizzy. Louis is intoxicating.

"I can't believe this is happening," he says, barely above a whisper.

"Yeah well," Louis says, smiling and looking down. Harry has never seen him like this, shy and almost nervous. It's cute.

"Well?" Harry prompts, kissing Louis' nose after.

When Louis looks back up at Harry, he's blushing. “'m just happy it's happening. Can't believe we spent so much time not doing this."

Harry smiles and shrugs. "I'm just glad we're doing this now, honestly."

"Me too. This is a good start, I think.” Louis tugs at a piece of Harry's hair gently and laughs. This feels like the easiest thing in the world.

“Yeah,” Harry says, smiling. “It really is.”