“Well we can’t bloody well make them green and white, can we?!” Louis hollers, red in the face and exasperated. “That’s already Niall’s team’s colors!”
Auggie fixes him with a glare, lips in a thin line. He crosses his arms and like that he’s the spitting image of Harry, is the problem. “I’m gonna tell dad you cussed again.”
Louis’ resolve stutters the tiniest bit.
“I have him on speed dial,” Auggie threatens, still keeping his cool although his eyebrows are furrowed and he’s having a proper strop. “He’ll think green and white works just fine.”
Louis rolls his eyes. He isn’t aware that he’s huffing and crossing his arms until Teddy chuckles from across the room and points it out, jokes that him and Auggie are the identical twins. Louis immediately uncrosses his arms and argues, “Well, your dad’s practically color blind, so don’t flatter yourself, alright.”
“I’m gonna tell him you said that too!” Auggie cries even louder, stomping his foot and throwing his hands in the air. “We’re doing green and white or I’m calling all of this off!”
“You can’t call anything off! I’m the coach.”
“Well you’re not a very organized one!”
Louis narrows his eyes at his son, lips pursed. He’s not very amused with him right now. This is what he gets for having a pair of twins with Harry. This is what he gets for having children with him, period. This is God pointing his finger at Louis and telling him, I told you so, mate, don’t say I didn’t, you should have seen this coming.
And then it dawns on him.
“I’m going to tell your dad you said that,” Louis says with his head up high, finally getting the upper hand for the very first time since they started arguing half an hour ago.
Auggie’s glare weakens, although he tries not to show it. Just like Harry usually does, Louis thinks to himself. He quickly gets his resolve back together, but Louis can see the worry in his eyes. “You wouldn’t,” he challenges.
“You’re not the only one with dad on speed dial, pal.”
They stare each other down for a while, stormy blue boring into furious green. Louis knows that because Auggie is an exact replica of Harry, he’s nothing if not stubborn as hell and almost, if not more, of an annoyingly determined little pest. One of them will have to give up eventually, but Louis already let Auggie decide the team logo so there’s no way in hell he’s going to let him pick the kit colors as well.
He’ll be damned if he loses all of his battles with his seven year old son.
“Fine,” Auggie groans just as the silence comes to feel like too much for Louis. He balls his hands into tight fists and crosses his arms yet again. “We can do red and gold, but I think it’s bloody ridiculous and we’ll look like idiots.”
Louis gasps, loud and maybe a little more dramatic than strictly necessary. “I’m telling dad!” he cries in horror, not above playing dirty anymore.
“Go ahead!” Auggie challenges. “He likes me better than you!”
And, that’s it then. So what if Louis spends the next twenty minutes chasing his seven year old around the pool? He’s a grown man, he can do that. Even if he does end up in a tangled fit of limbs, slipping into the water and being giggled at by the rest of his kids. He’s a proper adult. He can do that, if that’s what it takes to win an argument with his son.
“But at least Darcy’s not giving you any trouble, right?” Harry giggles into his phone after hearing Louis’ play-by-play of the last week’s shenanigans. Christ, he misses his babies so much. And Louis, too, maybe. Just the tiniest bit. He’s alright, as far as husbands go, or whatever.
“No,” Louis huffs exaggeratedly on the other line. Harry can practically hear him rolling his eyes. “She’s the only one keeping me sane in this madhouse, and even that’s an understatement. Your children are proper menaces, Harold, when are you coming back and saving me?”
Harry sighs, his breath a little shaky on the exhale. “Two more weeks, love. I’ll be home soon. M’sure you can keep my little zoo animals together for a little bit longer, you’ll be just fine, darling.”
“I don’t know, mate, they’re seriously getting to me core. Teddy Graham’s already asking if he’s allowed to start boxing with Liam, as if he needs another broken bone.” Louis pauses for a second and Harry can hear him yelling at Auggie to absolutely not put Charlie in the gorilla costume – which. Alright. Clearly Harry’s missing out on more than just a little bit. “Sorry about that,” Louis says when he comes back. “The kids wanna go over to Ni’s and apparently they’ve got some sorta competition with their cousins about who’s got the cutest baby and – Jesus, I genuinely think I’m losing it, Haz. If I have to look at another gorilla costume I’m going to go mad.”
Harry barks a loud laugh, throwing a hand over his mouth and hoping that Louis’ phone wasn’t too close to his ear. “S’alright, baby,” he giggles. “At least that’s one thing you don’t have to worry about, yeah? Charlie wins all the cute baby contests. Gorilla costume or not,” he adds after a beat.
“Apparently,” Louis lowers his voice like he’s telling his husband top-secret information. “Word on the street is that Niall and Babs bought Leah a dress with birdies on them, Harry – birdies, can you believe it? – and she looks proper heartbreaking in it.”
“They wouldn’t dare,” Harry gasps. “Who’s giving you this information, anyways? Charlie herself?”
Louis whines petulantly on the phone. “Hey, now. I’ve got people who know people, alright? Are you trying to win this cutest baby contest or not, Harold?”
“I’ll let the Tomlinson genes do all the work there, Lou. Charlie’s in good hands.”
“You’re damn right she is,” Louis huffs. “Anyways, I’ve gotta go do important things, like defend my genetic line to the entire neighborhood, so I hope you’re happy playing with your sequins and glitter back in Paris, Curly.”
“Hey, no, don’t leave me yet,” Harry pouts. The clock on the wall tells him they’ve been on the phone for almost two hours now, but it’s felt like barely even five minutes. “I miss you guys,” he admits sheepishly.
And he does. Miserably so. He’d gotten a chance to talk to all of the kids – even Charlie, who just spent ten minutes spitting bubbles into the phone and giggling wildly, Louis’ own laughter bright in the background – but he still feels so far away from them. It’s not like residential London and Paris are worlds apart, but it’s different when you’re a parent who’s been away from home for nearly a month now. Harry vows, silently, to never again spend this much time away from his kids ever again, Saint Laurent and weekend visits and two hour phone calls be damned.
“We miss you too, darling,” Louis sighs a little later. His voice is clearer now, probably having stepped out of the room and away from their insanely loud children for a bit. “I can’t wait to kiss you when you come back.”
Harry plays with a loose string in his t-shirt and smiles, but it’s weary and tired. “Can’t wait to kiss you back.”
“M’gonna snog you senseless the second I see you, Haz. In front of the kids and everything.” Louis adds with a proud giggle at the end, “They’re gonna hate me so much. God, I can’t wait.”
“Let them. I deserve to be snogged senseless.”
Louis hums in agreement. “Mmm. Always do.”
“I’ll let you get back to the kids, then,” Harry says regretfully when he notices how late it’s getting. If he doesn’t force himself to say goodbye, chances are that he will literally not step away from his phone until sunrise. “And please don’t let them dress Charlie in a gorilla costume, alright? She looks much cuter in her white dress – the one with the little sunflowers at the bottom? Ask Darcy to get it out, she knows which one I’m talking about it.”
“Will do, sunshine. I’ll call you tomorrow. Same time?”
“Yeah, of course. Give the kids a kiss from me, Lou.”
He waits for reply as the volume on the other end of the line gets loud again. He hears what sounds like Darcy calling Louis out for being un-punch-u-al and Louis babbling back about how she’s the one who called dad in the first place. Harry listens closely to the bickering and the ruckus, missing it dearly in this too-large apartment in Paris. It’s just two more weeks, he tells himself. Two more weeks and he’ll be home. He can do that.
“These kids do not deserve your kisses,” Louis argues when he comes back on the line. “They deserve to be stuck at Uncle Liam’s house for the rest of the summer so they can learn a thing or two about proper human behavior.”
Harry hears Teddy shouting excitedly, “So we can start boxing then!”
“No!” Louis cries in exasperation. “Look, Harry, I’ve gotta go. Your children are driving me mental and Niall’s gonna kill me if I make him wait on dinner any longer. I’ll talk to you soon, baby. Love you.”
“Love you too,” Harry laughs.
“See you in two weeks, if I’m still alive by then.”
“Please do. I’m really looking forward to being snogged senseless.”
Louis says a final goodbye – chirpier this time with a hint of what awaits them in the coming weeks. Harry hangs up regretfully and plugs his phone into its charger. Just two more weeks, he tells himself for the millionth time in just the last 24 hours alone. He can do that.
The first practice of the season is on the third Monday in August. Louis wakes up at the asscrack of dawn to feed Charlie and then spends the next two hours twisting and turning in bed because he’s so bloody nervous. It’s his first season coaching, and only because Niall moved to a new neighborhood and all the kids had begged Louis to become the replacement. It still feels a bit weird, but he owns a goddamn football club. How hard could coaching a 4-6 year olds neighborhood football team really be?
If Louis is just ‘nervous’ then Darcy is completely about to lose her mind.
A little after nine in the morning, he gives up on any attempt at going back to sleep and patters into the kitchen. He doesn’t know how he doesn’t notice her, but he’s putting the kettle on when he hears a loud crash and jumps a good ten feet into the air. When he turns around he finds Darcy stretched out like a starfish on the kitchen table. She’s wearing her sailor onesie and her hair’s a mess and she just gave Louis a heart attack, but she looks fucking cute as hell. (There’s a plastic bowl on the floor; he ignores it.)
“Darcy!” he shrieks. “What are you doing?”
Darcy doesn’t bother looking at him, just keeps her eyes on the ceiling and lets out a tiresome sigh. “I’m stressed, papa,” she exhales.
“You’re four years old, pup. You can’t even spell stressed.” Louis rolls his eyes, but turns the heat on the stove down a bit and walks over to the table. “What’s up, baby?” he asks with a poke to her belly. Usually she frowns at that and tries to bite his hand off, but today she just lets him poke her little pouch of a belly and doesn’t say a word. “Hey,” Louis coos softly when she still doesn’t react. He sits down on one of the chairs and holds her small hand in his. “What’s wrong, love? Come on, tell papa so he can make you happy again. What’s up?”
Reluctantly, Darcy rolls onto her side and faces her father, one hand still in his and the other underneath her head. She curls into herself instinctively and inches toward the edge of the table, closer to Louis. She doesn’t look him in the eyes, but she mumbles self-consciously, “What if I’m no good today?”
Louis’ natural response is to tell her that she’s mad because she really is brilliant at football and there’s a reason why she made it on the team in the first place. But he knows that she needs more than that right now, so he doesn’t jump into that. Whatever insecurities her four year old head is cluttered with, it’s probably not going to go away with a few words of encouragement from her dad (who’s maybe just the smallest bit biased and Darcy is aware of that much, even if she can’t spell biased). She’s so much like Louis in that sense; when he was younger and more stubborn, impossible to read and unwilling to open up to anyone that wasn’t his mother or Harry. So he does what his mother and Harry always did: he decides to talk it out instead of jumping into reassurances.
Louis tilts his head to the side and whispers quietly, “What makes you think you won’t be any good, pet?”
Darcy barely manages a weak shrug against the wooden table. “M’too nervous,” she mumbles.
“Didn’t sleep well, I’m guessing?”
“No,” she shakes her head, “couldn’t sleep.”
“And why is that?”
Her voice is barely audible over the quiet hum of the kettle, her round face blushing and hidden behind her chestnut locks in the morning light. “I miss daddy,” she admits sheepishly. “When is he coming home?”
Louis heart aches painfully in his chest. It’s too early in the morning for his body to be this weak at just the mention of his husband’s name, but he can’t even imagine what it’s like for Darcy, whose biggest fan has always been Harry. Sure, Louis and Teddy and Auggie had helped her with her passing and her kicking, but Harry is the head cheerleader of the Tomlinson family. He’s the one who encouraged her to sign up for the sport and bought her her first pair of cleats and threw her an entire party when she made it into the team. (Even though everybody gets into the team; these are four to six year olds, not European champions.) It’s going to be hard for Darcy to go to her very first footie practice without Harry there to cheer her on, but it’s just that: her first footie practice of so many more.
Louis nudges his forehead against Darcy’s, getting her to finally look up at him. “He’ll be home soon,” he reminds her, “sooner than you think, anyways. And he’ll be here for your first game and your first day of school, love. You know daddy would be here right now if he could.”
“I know,” Darcy sighs forlornly. “I do understand he has stuff to do in Paris, I just miss him is all.” She chews on her bottom lip and plays with Louis’ wedding ring distractedly. “He is my good luck charm.”
“Wanna know a secret?”
Darcy glances at her dad and nods just once, the smallest hint of genuine curiosity twinkling in her eyes. She’s definitely a Tomlinson.
Louis kisses the apples of her cheeks, her forehead, the tip of her cute little button nose. “He’s my good luck charm too,” he confesses shamelessly.
Darcy doesn’t say anything for a while, just soaks up the feeling of her papa’s kisses against her tired, sleep-warm skin in the hazy light of the early morning. She closes her eyes and Louis kisses her eyelids as well and it’s quiet in their empty kitchen. For a while Louis thinks she’s fallen back asleep until he hears her mumble sleepily, “Is that why you lose to Auggie in Mario-Kart all of the time now?”
And then it’s not so quiet in their little kitchen, not with the kettle going off and Darcy’s bright giggles ringing in the room as Louis tickles the sleep out of her system.
Later, when Louis’ had his tea and Darcy’s had her eggs on toast, they go out to the backyard and kick the ball around for a good while to get rid of Darcy’s (and Louis’) nerves. Louis claps a little bit louder every time that Darcy steals the ball from him and cheers a little more excitedly and Darcy tells him to stop because it’s embarrassing, but Louis knows that she really means thank you, you make an alright cheerleader.
If Harry’s learned anything over the years, it’s that the Tomlinson family does not do well with surprises.
Which is exactly why he comes back home a few days earlier than expected and goes straight to the football pitch where Darcy’s team is holding their final practice session before their very first game. (It’s an event he’s had saved in his calendar for a very long time, alright. He knows the entire team’s schedule like the back of his hand – or Louis’ hand, to be more accurate.) Niall picks him up from the train station and drives him to the pitch, even promises to drop his luggage off at the house for him. Harry knows it’s just Niall’s weak attempt at getting a glimpse of his competition and seeing how Louis’ coming along as a coach, so he doesn’t let it slide. He does, however, spend a good ten minutes keeping his arms crossed and doesn’t move away from the front of Niall’s car in the parking lot until he gives up and drives away.
Having four kids has taught Harry a lot about stubborn nuisances. (So has being married to Louis Tomlinson for 12 years.)
Auggie – as the assistant coach – has been keeping Harry up to date with Darcy’s footie team throughout the summer, but it still makes Harry squeal a little bit when he walks onto the pitch and towards one section of the benches. There’s a couple of other parents here, probably a bit early for pick up as the sun is getting ready to set, so Harry picks a spot toward the back of the bench and tries to go unnoticed. He fixes his sunglasses down and looks out on the field where twenty or so toddlers are taking turns shooting into the net.
It’s not so hard to pick Darcy out in the crowd; her long, brown hair falling out of her braid helplessly as she jumps up and down in line, eagerly waiting for her turn. She’s smaller than most of her team and her jersey hangs off her shoulders a little bit, but even from this far away Harry can pick out her thin nose and red cheeks; her bony knees and the way she nervously (and no doubt excitedly) twists her fingers against her sides. Harry watches her in silence and it feels like tunnel vision when he tunes the rest of the world out and waits for her turn at the kick, his own belly fluttering with nerves as well.
She kicks it into the bottom right of the net and it goes in, of course it does. It takes all of Harry’s self-control to not jump up on the stands and go straight into one of the cheers he’d written whilst in Paris. Of course, that can’t be said for a certain other person.
“Brilliant, Darce! Absolutely beautiful shot, love! Amazing!”
Harry turns his attention a few meters away from his daughter and finds Louis instantly; his lean form in the late sun clapping loudly and grinning even wider. He’s wearing those obnoxious aviators of his – the ones that Harry adores so hopelessly; they make him weak in the knees in seconds – that match perfectly with his coach’s jersey and loose shorts. (Harry also notices that Louis’s wearing the exact same bright pink cleats as Darcy, but he won’t say anything about that until he’s got Louis cornered in bed.)
Harry’s barely gotten a chance to take in the sight of his husband when he hears another chorus of wild cheers and equally loud clapping. He twists his head and of course, right at sidelines stands the rest of their kids. Teddy and Auggie chant Darcy’s name as she shuffles to the back of the line, a bright red blush on her cheeks, and they don’t bother to stop even when the next kid takes a shot and it goes in as well. It’s a little embarrassing, Harry can imagine, but it’s not intended as so. Auggie and Teddy are genuinely proud of their sister and it’s obvious with their upbeat spirit and their high-fives, how they hold Charlie in their arms and point to Darcy’s direction, probably bragging like mad about her goal.
So maybe it is a bit embarrassing, but only because it’s all so bloody familiar to Harry. He’s seen that kind of behavior before – specifically from himself at literally every game Louis’ ever played; that unconditional pride and adoration, the desperate need to recall every second of the game to anyone and everyone in a five mile radius. It was different with him and Louis, of course, but it still makes Harry feel so fucking unconditionally good that his children are so supportive of one another; that they got all the best parts of him and Louis in one.
Plus, they’re alright as far as cheerleaders go, but Harry could probably still teach them a thing or two.
While another kid takes their turn, Harry plucks his phone out from his pocket and sets his eyes back to Louis. He really does look painfully good, hair all windswept and messy, knobby knees out on display, beard unshaven and rough. He goes nearly breathless when his husband turns around to help one of the keepers with their gloves and he gets a perfect view of Louis’ bum, round and gloriously accentuated in his bright white shorts.
Without tearing his eyes away from the view he sends his husband a short Your bum looks so fucking good and then quickly adds God I missed you .xx because it’s true and his mouth is only slightly dry at the sight of him. Harry sits there nervously, phone in his hands as he bites back the biggest grin, and watches from his spot on the benches as Louis takes his phone out from his pocket a few moments later. Some kid takes the shot, misses, and Louis stares at his phone for what feels like 50 years.
Getting impatient, Harry sends another text.
Am I still allowed to blow you in the changing rooms even if you’re not on the team?
He waits a minute and then adds a simple, Coach? He absolutely does not regret it for a second when Louis’ resolve completely falters and he blows his whistle, announces that practice is over right then and there. The kids look a bit taken aback, but Harry barks out a laugh that is apparently loud enough to immediately catch Louis’ attention because as soon as he gathers himself and looks back down at the pitch he finds Louis’ eyes on him, no longer wearing those stupidly seductive aviators of his. It almost looks like he’s glaring, but Harry doesn’t miss the light blush high on his cheeks and his hands on his hips, how his lips are twisted to keep from grinning and the way he shakes his head fondly. Harry waves a sneaky little hello and mouths an I love you happily. What he gets in return is Louis rolling his eyes and tapping the side of his hand against his forehead – sign language for bastard, Harry recognizes.
Louis goes back to the children huddled around him and Harry decides to let him be, but only after sending out one last text.
Love you forever .xx
Louis is in the middle of looking over one of their artist’s latest contracts when he hears a soft knock on the study door. “Come in!” he calls, assuming it’s one of the kids with another late night request for ice cream or cuddles – both of which he’s willing to oblige to, because he’s the Cool Dad and Harry is lame.
The door creaks open, but Louis waits until he’s finished reading the paragraph he’s on before he looks up. Standing in front of the door is definitely not one of the kids.
“Hey,” Harry whispers from the other side of the room. “Started to worry you would never come to bed.”
Louis is momentarily dumbstruck because Harry is… Completely naked, for the most part, wearing nothing but a pair of pale pink panties and matching thigh-high socks that make his legs look like they go on for days, more so than usual. There are little white bows at his hips to match the tattoos of his laurels, and the same white bows on the top of his thighs where his skin is sun kissed and golden. With his hands behind his back he stands there pigeon-toed and timid, completely on display for Louis to drink in. It’s a sight that Louis’ familiar with, but it’s been a while since they’ve last had a moment to do something like this for each other; not since Harry had to go to Paris.
“Are you busy?” Harry asks.
Louis shakes his head, lets out a heavy breath. “Not anymore, no.”
He motions to Louis desk, littered with notebooks for songwriting and Darcy’s coloring books and loose pieces of paper for God knows what reason. Louis pushes them to the side in a haste – and it makes his chest ache only the slightest bit how Harry asks before he does anything, even like this, because he’s sweet and soft like that sometimes, a little bit nervous and a lot considerate – and nods. “Come to me.”
That makes some of the tension in Harry dissipate and he lets his lips curve up into a bright smile. As he makes his way over, Louis notices how red and full his husband’s lips look, a little bit shiny and plump, complimenting the soft pink of his lingerie. “Hi,” he exhales a little breathlessly when Harry sits on his desk, his long legs dangling over the edge. Louis is still sitting in his chair and with Harry nudging his legs apart, Louis gets the perfect view of Harry’s cock against the pink lace, holding absolutely nothing back. “What’s this about?”
“Nothing,” Harry shrugs. He forces Louis’ legs all the way apart with his toes and then rests his feet comfortably in the space between his thighs, slowly inches them forward until they’re just barely brushing against Louis’ crotch. “Missed you while I was away, you know.”
Louis’ heart quickens a beat or two inside his chest. “Yeah?”
“Mhm,” Harry nods. He brings his bottom lip into his mouth and bites, a coquettish glimmer in his eyes when he runs his sock-clad toes over the growing bulge in Louis’ shorts. “I got this,” he runs a finger over the bows on his hips, small and white against the lacey pink of his knickers, “in Paris. Been waiting all month to show it to daddy.”
Louis’ hands tighten instinctively where they’ve moved to grip the back of Harry’s calves. The material of his socks is soft and so light under Louis’ touch, makes Harry’s legs look thinner and longer than they really are. He can feel the lithe muscle in Harry’s legs as he slowly draws his foot over his thighs and his crotch, tracing the outline of his thickening cock with light touches. “Harry—” he chokes out, but his husband just curls his toes and rubs against him until he’s at his full length and throbbing.
“That was quick,” Harry notes proudly, dimples popping out happily.
“It’s been a while,” Louis scowls, a little embarrassed. “Get on your back.”
Harry fixes him with a challenging look, the sole of his foot still pressed against Louis’ cock. It only takes Louis a squeeze to his husband’s calves to get him to settle on his back, legs falling open on their own accord. Louis stands up with shaky knees and fits himself between Harry’s thighs, pushes them apart until they’re beside the cluttered piles of shit Louis’ got on his desk. He lowers his mouth to the butterfly on Harry’s stomach and presses small kisses all across his chest, reuniting his memory with the familiar taste of Harry underneath his tongue.
“Tell daddy what you want,” he mouths against the column of Harry’s neck, skin a light golden color and uncharacteristically free of teeth marks. He makes his way up and nibbles at Harry’s earlobe, presses kisses at the sensitive skin behind his ear where he knows it gets Harry worked up the most. He’s definitely going to leave Harry marked up and aching tonight, but he needs to know how much more Harry needs, exactly.
Harry ruts up against him instead. It’s not a good enough answer for Louis, who grips his hips and forces him still. “Words, darling. Tell me how to make you feel good.”
It takes Harry a moment to collect himself, but eventually he manages to push Louis’ mouth down his body until his husband is back in his chair with his head between Harry’s legs. He plants his feet flat on Louis’ thighs and inches his hips down a little bit, closer to Louis’ face. “Your mouth,” he answers shortly. “Want your mouth.” It’s needy yet demanding at the same time, no attempt at denying the impatience in his request at all, and it’s beautiful.
Louis eyes the small curve of Harry’s arse, covered in pink lace and right in front of his face. He’s at a perfect angle, really, with Harry squeezing his thighs around his head and pulling him in, getting exasperated. “Here?” Louis asks coyly, running a dry finger in between Harry’s cheeks.
“You know where,” Harry grits out.
Louis feels him tighten his fists around his hair a second later and, alright. Apparently he’d grievously mistook just how much Harry’d missed him while in Paris because his husband all but forces his arse into his face, grinds right against him until Louis gets the message and cups his cheeks, pushes them apart to fit his tongue against his entrance. He licks a fat strip right over the thin material before sliding the panties right to the side and going in.
He feels a little light-headed already, because it’s been a while and because he’s forgotten how overwhelming it feels to have Harry’s thighs wrapped around him; his lips against Harry’s smooth rim and his tongue pushing its way in hungrily. Harry shakes underneath him with every lick and every kiss, fists gripping at Louis’ hair and mouth panting out his name desperately. If anything it just pushes Louis to suck harder and nibble at Harry’s soft skin even more, dragging his sharp teeth over his husband’s cheeks and pulling at the panties with his mouth. He wraps his arms around Harry’s thighs and buries his face in deeper, until he can feel everything from the top of his nose to the bottom of his chin become slippery wet and the sounds of his mouth fucking into his husband echo in the empty study.
“Daddy—” Harry pants, pulling at Louis’ hair, voice high and desperate and clingy. “Stop – please. Come – need you—”
Louis gives Harry’s hole a final wide lick and then he’s being dragged back up by Harry. He’s so bloody weak in the knees, but Harry holds him close and wraps his legs around him until Louis collapses on top of him. They kiss and it’s wet and needy, traces of daddy and darling and Lou and baby slipping out with every breath. Louis knows that Harry can taste himself on his tongue, and that’s exactly why he licks into his mouth so hungrily, sloppily, sucks him in and grips him tightly by the back of his neck.
“Lube—” Harry gasps between kisses. “Bottom – left – drawer. C’mon, daddy.”
One second they’re tangled up in one another, stretched over the desk and licking into each other’s mouths, and the next second Louis is pulling Harry onto his feet and bending him over the desk until his back is arched obscenely and his pert little arse is up in the air for Louis’ taking. It’s quite the view and Louis doesn’t know how he manages to locate the lube and slick his fingers up so fast, but it probably has to do with the way Harry spreads his legs apart and wiggles his bum in the air, right back at Louis face.
So Louis does what he knows best and deliver a fast, rough smack to his husband’s arse just to still him. Harry lets out a guttural moan and falls onto his forearms, whimpers when Louis rubs over the red mark he’s left with his clean hand. “Needy tonight,” he says in something like praise. “Missed this while you were Paris?”
He can see Harry nod against the desk, his hair cascading over his soft, flushed face; brows furrowed and lips pouty and bruised. The apples of his cheeks are a wild red to match the handprint on his arse and Louis watches the shift in Harry’s face closely as he fingers him open.
Even though Harry’d visited during the weekends a few times, they’d never had a proper chance at anything more than hasty blowjobs in the shower or sleepy handjobs before bed, so it’s been longer than strictly necessary since Louis’ last felt Harry’s smooth walls around his fingers, clenching around him and pulling him in deeper and deeper. Everything about it is desperate and wet and slippery, skin against skin as they try to remind the other that they haven’t forgotten a single thing in the time apart; that no one will ever know their bodies better than each other.
Louis gets to three fingers and Harry is loud enough to wake up the children – if the study weren’t soundproof. (Which would explain why Harry came down in the first place; there’s nothing he likes more than being bent over and fucked with no need to keep his voice down.) By the time he coats himself and lines up against Harry’s entrance, Louis can see how torn Harry already is, from the flushed skin at his spine to the wet lace of his panties. He’s panting and shaking against the desk, but he begs for more and twists an arm behind his back to guide Louis inside him.
“Wait—” Louis quickly stills his hips and grabs Harry’s wrist to stop him.
Harry turns his head to the side and shoots Louis a glare. “What?” he seethes, gritting his teeth and looking very far from amused.
“How much do you like these panties?” Louis asks.
“Not enough to stop you from fucking me, like you’re supposed to.”
“And if I tore them apart?”
Harry drops his head onto the desk and grinds his arse against Louis’ crotch, completely frustrated. “Just fuck me already, I couldn’t care less about the bloody panties, you twat. Rip them, go ahead.”
And Louis does. With his slippery hands he tears the thin lace right in the middle, a gap large enough that when he fits the pink material back over Harry’s arse, he can see him clenching and waiting, no need to slide the panties to the side now. Louis lines himself back up and this time he has no reason to do anything but thrust right into Harry, no lace or little white bows in his way now.
He grips Harry’s hips, digging his nails in, and it takes less than no time for Harry to adjust to the weight and stretch and burn of Louis inside him. He welcomes it so easily, twisting his hips and grinding back against him in circles. They build up their rhythm slowly, but in Louis’ head it feels like going from zero to sixty in a single breath, and that’s how he finds himself pounding into Harry, who’s bent over his desk and taking everything Louis gives him. The wooden desk creaks underneath their weight and papers fall onto the floor but still, Harry just grips the edge and meets every thrust of Louis’ hips and the room gets cluttered with the sound of skin slapping against skin and Harry’s constant cries of daddy, daddy, please, fuck.
It’s the sound of his husband’s voice and the soft material of the thigh-high socks against his own legs that makes Louis dizzy, makes him fuck into Harry a little harder and a little faster, fingers digging into his hips hard enough to bruise. He feels overwhelmed and ready to burst, so he falls into his chair and pulls Harry onto his lap in one quick move, slamming him down on his cock at the same time. Harry arches his back and lets out a sharp cry, arms quickly moving behind him to find Louis’ face and pull him in for a sloppy kiss.
This angle is different, but it’s better and it’s quicker. Harry starts to fuck down on Louis’ cock now, bouncing on his lap and twisting his hips in figure eights, welcoming it when Louis holds his hips still and fucks up into him. It makes Harry even louder now because the angle is perfect for him and he can simply revel in the feeling of Louis' cock sending hot pulses of pure ecstasy through his veins with every one of his thrusts. And Louis can feel his husband everywhere; brushing against his lips and clenching around his cock and pressed tight against his chest. His heart jumps in his chest and he knows that Harry can feel it, knows that Harry is aware who it beats for and why exactly it raves whenever their bodies meet.
Louis moves one hand inside Harry’s panties and wraps a fist around him, moves the other underneath his thigh-highs and caresses the smooth skin of his thighs. “Come for daddy, darling,” he hums into his husband’s neck. “Be good, love, come on. Let yourself go.”
Harry’s movements get frantic as he struggles to fuck up into Louis’ fist and sink back down on his cock, pushing himself to get as much as he can all at once. He’s close, though, and Louis can feel it; Harry squeezes around him like vice and stretches back against Louis’ chest, until he can rest his head on his husband’s neck and let go of his soft whimpers against Louis’ ear. It doesn’t take much more than a few more thrusts right at his prostate to get Harry to come, going taught and deathly tight around Louis as he makes a mess in his fist and gets himself across his stomach and chest as well.
It’s a sight that sends Louis’ system haywire, coupled with the soft kisses that Harry leaves across the edge of his jaw. “C’mon, daddy,” he mumbles against Louis’ damp skin, lazy with his lips in his post-orgasm daze. “Wanna feel you come inside me, please.”
Louis fucks up into him and Harry whimpers, a little from pain and a little from emotional exhaustion, but he doesn’t let Louis stop. Instead he fits his hand over Louis’, the one underneath his thigh-highs, and squeezes it, urges Louis to go on. It’s with a husband like that that Louis comes just moments later, his entire body shaking with the waves of his orgasm, heavy in his bones like the physical weight of Harry against his chest and on top of him. He comes and he fills Harry up, just like he’d wanted, and the two of them sit like that for a long moment after, just trying to catch their breaths.
“I did actually quite like these panties, you know,” Harry mumbles sometime later. His words are sleepy and come out slowly, drugged up and loose limbed.
“I’ll get you more,” Louis offers. “However many it takes to keep you happy.”
Harry giggles just the smallest bit and stretches his neck to place a kiss to Louis’ cheek and his scratchy beard. “Thank you daddy,” he hums shamelessly, immediately breaking out into another set of sex-dazed giggles when Louis pinches his hip. “Ouch!” he yelps. He looks down at his hip where Louis’ hands still hold him and he can see how red they are, bruised under his husband’s fingerprints.
“Hurts?” Louis asks, caressing his skin slowly, applying small bits of pressure sneakily.
“Mmm,” Harry nods. “S’good though.”
“Definitely,” he exhales dreamily. “Missed this when I was away, too.”
Louis runs the tip of his nose through Harry’s damp curls, presses a light kiss to his temple. “Don’t tell me you made an entire list of Things I Missed While in Paris, Haz.”
“’Course I did. Do you not know me at all?”
“Was I at the top of this said list?”
Harry looks up at him and grins coquettishly, a mischievous little upward tilt to his lips. “Can’t tell you that. It’s a secret.”
“Alright, okay,” Louis shrugs, feigning nonchalance. “I totally didn’t miss you back or anything, so that’s whatever. Glad the feeling’s mutual, mate.”
“Oh, shut up,” Harry scoffs. He slides off of Louis, scrunching his nose at the discomfort, and turns around to sit on his husband’s lap properly, straddling his thighs and wrapping his arms around his neck. “You know you’re always my number one,” he mumbles between kisses, peppering Louis’ neck with little nibbles. “Miss you so much when we’re apart.”
He kisses him some more, until Louis’ neck blossoms with lovely red marks and Louis can’t keep his hands to himself anymore. He holds him tighter, closer, kisses him that much harder because it’s been weeks since he’s thoroughly had Harry to himself and the few minutes they had for hugging earlier in the day at the pitch were not nearly enough to settle his hunger. He’s sated for now, though, after a few more kisses and lovebites littered across his husband’s neck.
For now, he repeats in his head, because he knows that he could never have enough of Harry; will ache for more, more, desperately more until his very last breath.
And he’s perfectly fine with that.
Once her dad comes back, Darcy thinks that all the Weird Things will go away, but they don’t. In a odd way, a part of her believes that her dad has some sort of unexplainable power of making things right at the end of the day, like just his presence itself is a good luck charm for her. She can’t explain it, much less understand it herself, but Harry makes her feel safe and protected, like she’s wrapped up in a warm blanket whenever he’s around. It’s nice to have him back and she no doubt feels like her tummy is going to burst from all the giggling and the cuddling, but she’s well aware that things are not… Right.
It’s the way her teammates look at her during practice sometimes; a little cold and unimpressed, the way they roll their eyes whenever papa applauds her or how they refuse to pass the ball to her even when she’s wide open. It’s so confusing and Darcy doesn’t understand why they’re not being nice to her. Dad always says that being nice to everyone is the best way to make friends, but it’s clearly not working out for her. She hasn’t said any mean things or hurt anyone. One time she accidentally tackled Brittany J. a little more roughly than she’d meant to, but that was in their first week of practice and she apologized so much. She even helped Auggie put the band-aids on her elbows and knees afterward! She’s been really good, is the thing!
The longer it goes on, the worse it gets, and the less Darcy looks forward to footie practice every weekday. It doesn’t help that her first day of kindergarten is just a few days away as well and most of her team goes to the same school that she’s going to start attending. She’s terrified to play her first game and she’s completely shaking in her boots to start school, both of which she’ll have to face friendless and alone.
And telling her dads is completely out of the question. Papa would lose it if he found out that Darcy wasn’t enjoying football, and she can’t even imagine dad’s reaction. He’d probably coddle her and force her into another one of his famous heart-to-hearts and never leave her side ever again. It’s embarrassing anyways, having all these little kid problems of not being liked. Her dads are the most popular people she knows, her brothers are the life of every party, and even Charlie is the cutest baby in the neighborhood! She feels like the least cool Tomlinson in town and with the way her teammates are treating her, it makes her believe it as well.
It’s not a very fun few weeks and as the summer comes to a close, Darcy can feel all the good feelings in her belly go away as well. The first footie game creeps up on her sooner than imagined and the first day of school even faster; the game on Saturday morning and school that following Monday. All in all, the final days of summer are not very nice to Darcy Tomlinson.
Auggie notices it from the very beginning. It’s not hard to miss the way Darcy’s face slowly changes from the first day of practice to the tenth in the blink of an eye. She goes from an excitable ball of energy to a deflating balloon, a little poutier and a lot quieter. It’s gradual, but she slowly becomes so closed off during the car rides home after practice that Auggie can’t help the suspicion that creeps up on him. It’s nothing like his little sister’s usual behavior, makes him feel like he’s stepped into some weird universe where his siblings are reserved and private. It makes no sense at all, especially not if football’s involved.
When he realizes that Darcy’s not going to say anything about her weird shift in behavior, he starts trying to figure it out himself. Darcy’s a lot like papa in that way; doesn’t really like making a big deal about her feelings, kind of prefers to be out of the spotlight most of the time. She’s not going to open up, so Auggie pays ten times more attention to her than normal. He observes her during the day, at home, around papa and dad, during practice, when they visit uncle Niall’s house – always.
He just keeps an eye out for her because it kind of makes his own skin itch knowing that something’s wrong but not knowing exactly what that specific thing is. It’s a little bit annoying and a lot frustrating. It completely sucks seeing his little sister upset and even more when he asks her what’s wrong and she says nothing at all, because he knows that she’s lying. He can’t help her if he doesn’t know what’s wrong, and her lying isn’t helping either of them.
And then Auggie notices something weird. They’re practicing a play one Wednesday afternoon and Darce is all the way up in the box, completely open to easily make the shot – but she gets fully ignored by Frankie, who’s got the ball. Instead he passes it to Jessie from down the street, and even though Darce is still open and calling out her name, Jessie from down the street passes it to Finn – who doesn’t have just one person trying to get the ball from him, but two. Two people on Finn, and Jessie still passes it to him instead of Darcy, who is wide open and in front of the net with no one on her.
It’s annoying. And weird. Completely frustrating, but at least papa notices it as well and makes the team run the play again because they just totally got it wrong that time. They run it again and this time Darcy isn’t nearly as lucky with the open net so the play actually runs smoothly; free of any strangeness from Frankie and Finn and Jessie from down the street. Still, it sticks to Auggie in an odd way and he can’t say that he’s fully surprised when he notices it happen again and again over the next few practice sessions.
By the time the first game comes around, Auggie is grumpy. He’s only the assistant coach – as papa likes to remind him at every opportunity available – and a year or two older than most of the team, so it’s not like he can yell at them to stop being so dumb. They’re rude and probably wouldn’t listen to him anyway. They are not his kind of pals.
So he points it out to Teddy – because it’s making him so angry and he doesn’t like letting all these Bad Feelings bubble up inside him – and is surprised when Teddy furiously tells him that he’s noticed it as well! Teddy explains that he tells papa sometimes and papa will make the team run the play again or tell them to focus! – is a little more subtle than screaming a frustrated, “Stop being childish and pass the darn ball to my daughter!” But they realize that even when the team gets their heads out of their butts on the pitch enough to win their first game 3-1, Darcy is still reserved and closed off afterwards. Papa and dad take the entire team out for ice cream and even though Darcy scored the first and third goal of the match, no one is talking about her brilliant performance. They don’t even sit with her and instead gather around in small circles all over the shop, discussing Frankie’s one stupid goal.
With dad and papa running around checking up on the team, Auggie and Teddy sit with Darcy and take her mind off footie. They keep Charlie on her lap and make her giggle until the little frown disappears from her face and the four of them are sat together talking about last year when dad pierced papa’s ears and almost made him cry. The ice cream in their colorful little bowls melts and one by one the team gets picked up by their parents until it’s just them and the sunset and papa furiously blushing at dad’s continuous praises.
It’s not fixed, but it’s a start, Auggie thinks.
The day after the footie match, Darcy tiptoes into Teddy and Auggie’s bedroom after bedtime. Teddy hears her before he can see her, a tiny little figure opening the door and stepping in. He glances at the clock on the bedside table and notices that it’s already half past eleven. “Darce?” he calls out, confused. “What’s going on?”
He flicks on the bedside lamp and the room goes bright in a golden hue. He squints at the rough contrast from the recent darkness, but when he sits up he finds his little sister standing by the door. She’s wearing her bright yellow pajamas and her hair’s already sleep-rumpled and messy. “I didn’t think you would be awake,” he hears her mumble sheepishly.
“We couldn’t sleep,” Auggie says from his bed, still on his back with his arms crossed underneath his head. “You couldn’t too?”
Auggie and Teddy have been whispering excitedly since they got into bed two and a half hours ago, the same way they do every Sunday night before the first day of school. They’re in the same class yet again this year and according to one of Auggie’s older friends, their teacher is wicked funny. It’s going to suck having to wear those dumb uniforms every single day again, but maybe Mr. Whitehall will make it a little more tolerable. Anyways, at least Auggie’s there with him, Teddy reasons, so nothing could ever really be that bad.
“I don’t wanna go to school,” Darcy frowns, cheeks pink with embarrassment when she confesses it.
That gets Auggie to sit up immediately. “Why not?”
Darcy shrugs her shoulders and fidgets with her fringe, the same exact way that papa does when he’s nervous too. Teddy watches her hesitation and it makes him feel just as sad for some reason. “Come,” he says, patting the empty space beside him on his bed.
Darcy spares a glance to Auggie before she climbs over the foot of Teddy’s bed and Auggie gets out of his own. And then the three of them are all squished together on Teddy’s bed, Darcy in the middle with wide eyes and wiggly toes. Teddy throws the covers over their legs and at the same time the three of them fall against the backboard and let out a tired sigh, like something straight out of a movie.
“Are people in kindergarten nice?”
Teddy turns to his little sister and nods, “Everyone’s nice. And you have Mrs. Arthur, right? She makes everyone be nice.”
“So I will make friends?” Darcy asks uncertainly, drawing her words out and biting at her thumb nail. She waits a moment before adding, “But what if they don’t like me? Like the football team?”
“Darce—” Auggie tries to say, but Teddy shuts them both up by pouncing at them with open arms and squeezing them painfully tight in a massive hug. It takes Auggie a moment to get over the initial shock, but then he’s letting out a loud laugh and wrapping his arms back around Teddy and squeezing Darcy in between them.
“Te-ddy!” Darcy groans, face smushed against his chest. She wriggles around trying to break free, but Teddy and Auggie have no intention of stopping any time soon. She realizes that after a few failed attempts and instead of trying to squirm her way out of the bed and their arms like she normally would, she gives into the cuddles and finds herself laughing along as well, even more so when one of Teddy’s fingers tickles underneath her arm and Auggie aims at the other. They get her breaking out in loud laughs, giggling for mercy and forgetting to keep her voice down.
It makes Teddy happy, finally seeing his little sister back to normal and being able to say that he got that smile on her face. It’s a small victory that only distracts her for so long, though, but even when they settle down and let her free, Darcy’s still got a wide grin on her face, red from exhaustion and giggles.
“Can I stay here tonight?” she asks around a tired yawn. “Don’t wanna go back to my room.”
“Sure,” Auggie shrugs. “I’ll stay too?” He looks over at Teddy for approval and of course Teddy can’t say no to them. The three of them have spent most of their summer nights sleeping next to each another in makeshift forts in the living room anyway. It’s only right that they spend the last night together as well.
“Yeah, sure,” Teddy nods excitedly. “We should probably go to sleep though. I need my beauty sleep or Mary’s never going to fall in love with me tomorrow.”
Auggie rolls his eyes and Darcy giggles. “She doesn’t like you, Teddy,” Auggie huffs as he gets comfy underneath the covers. Mary, who lives two houses down and carpools with them to school every year, has been the unofficial Love of Teddy’s Life since they were born, basically, just a few days apart. She’s really sweet and helps dad out with their garden sometimes, and Teddy’s completely convinced they’re Soulmates – just like dad and papa. He’s been trying to win her over for as long as anyone can remember, but he’s really stepped up his game this year; tomorrow he’s going to get papa to do his hair and he’s already planned to share his crayons with her in class. How could she possibly resist the Tomlinson charm? (Again.)
“Mary is nice,” Darcy says after some thought on the matter. “She bought me daisies today and helped me make a flower crown with them.” She snaps her head to Teddy and gasps, the most brilliant idea popping into her head. “You should make her a flower crown!”
“Would she like that?”
“Yeah, dummy!” Darcy scoffs. “I can teach you how to make one too!”
“That’s not a bad idea,” Teddy says from beside her. “And I know she likes lilies a lot. We could make them this weekend.”
Teddy shrugs, “Alright.” It’s not a bad idea, after all. Mary likes her flowers and she loves her lilies, and when Teddy gives her the most wicked flower crown of them all, she’ll probably love him too. Yeah, of course she will. They’re already great mates; he can totally woo the pants off of Mary Trinkish.
They stay up a little bit longer, chatting sleepily about Mary and the first day of school and the footie match this weekend. Auggie passes out first and Darcy only lasts a bit longer when Teddy turns the lights off. Once she falls asleep Teddy finally feels like it’s alright if he does so too. He’s only a few minutes older than Auggie, but he feels a lot more protective of his siblings. He’s the eldest – whether by ten minutes or ten years, it doesn’t matter – so yeah, he feels responsible for them in a lot of ways. And as long as they’re happy, Teddy thinks he’s doing pretty alright as far as older brothers go.
Late in September when the weather starts to get properly chilly and Louis’ footie team has won all four of their games, Auggie and Teddy come up to him with A Plan.
“And how does Darcy feel about this?” he asks them afterward.
The boys came with Louis to the studio today and Harry’s back home with Darcy and Charlie. Mary Trinkish’s family is coming over for dinner so Teddy’s been a nervous wreck all day. Harry refused to keep him in the house – all his anxious running around is apparently harmful to Harry’s cooking vibe.
“She doesn’t even want to have a party,” Auggie explains forlornly.
“And we can’t have that!”
Louis turns to Teddy and tries his very best to contain his eye roll and small laugh. “It’s not fair to your sister to have a party for her if she doesn’t want one. There has to be a reason she’s suddenly changed her mind.”
“There is!” Teddy grumbles. “She thinks no one will come if she does have one.”
“Why does she think that?” Louis frowns, trying to keep the hurt from his voice. What on earth could possibly make Darcy feel that way? She’s such a sweet little girl and, okay, she has been a little quiet these last few weeks, but Louis had just assumed it’s that post-summer phase the boys always go through as well. He knows Darcy better than to push and poke at her when she just says that she’s ‘okay’. She’s his daughter and he’s well aware that there’s nothing she hates more than being forced to do something she doesn’t want to, like open up about her feelings or have a birthday party next weekend.
“She thinks the football team doesn’t like her,” Auggie says, sitting on the couch across from him.
He’s cut off when Teddy scoffs grumpily, “They’re dumb anyways, so what does it matter.”
“Graham,” Louis warns sternly. “Be nice.”
“Why should I?” Teddy throws his hands in the air and argues back, “They’re not nice to Darcy! They’re not worth being nice to!”
“Then I’ll have a word with them,” Louis grits out. “But until then, you show respect to everybody and that include Darcy’s teammates, no matter what you think of their behavior.”
Teddy rolls his eyes. “That’s not gonna change anything, you know. They’re just gonna think you’re playing favorites again.”
“Is that what the team thinks?”
“Papa,” Auggie sighs dramatically. “Do you notice anything?”
So, like, okay. Maybe Louis did fuck up, looking back at everything now. It’s not like he’s intentionally been playing favorites, but Darcy is easily the best on the team and she’s his daughter so of course he cheers for her a little louder than he does for anyone else. It’s instinctive; he can’t turn it off, the same way that Harry can’t help but come to all of the games with pompoms in his hands and a Tomlinson 28 jersey on his back. Maybe they are hyper-supportive, but that’s just good bloody parenting, alright, not favoritism. Why is it a problem that his daughter kicks major fucking arse at footie, more than everyone else’s?
“This is a mess,” Louis groans, his head in his hands. “I can’t believe I’ve been so oblivious this entire time.” He looks up at his boys, a frown on his lips and desperation in his voice. “What are we supposed to do now?”
“Well, you deal with the football team, and we’ll handle everything else,” Teddy answers. He sits up confidently and crosses his arms – Harry always tells them that believing in yourself is 90% of the job – with his head held high. Louis sees a flicker of determination in his eyes, mixed with a bit of mischief and youthful exuberance. It reminds him of himself, when he was younger and even now, 32 years old and married with four children. He’s really fucking grateful for the life that he lives and the kids that he has. (And his husband is pretty alright, or whatever.)
Louis lets out a long sigh and settles into his chair, body sagging against the soft material. “Alright,” he agrees. “I’ll speak to the team and you two figure out what to do with Darcy’s birthday.”
Teddy and Auggie let out a loud cheer and share high-fives (and a fist bump, and a hug, and some weird, speedy handshake thing made up entirely on the spot, he thinks).
“But absolutely no gorilla costumes!” Louis quickly tacks on in an afterthought.
The boys visibly deflate a little bit, lips ready to pout like they’re prepared for papa to try to ruin their master plan even more.
“I promised your dad that we’d stop putting Charlie in unflattering costumes,” he explains in his defense. “So no gorilla costumes – and that means you two cannot wear ones either. Okay?”
It takes half an hour more of bickering and compromising (and absolutely zero songwriting accomplished for the day) but eventually Teddy and Auggie agree to not muck about royally and Louis trusts them enough to not. (He’ll totally put the blame on them if anything goes wrong, anyways.) Even with the nerves in his belly, Louis is excited at the prospect of giving his boys this much responsibility on something so fundamentally big. That, and he thinks his heart might jump out of his chest from all the affection and pride running in his veins. He definitely hit the jackpot when he settled down with Harry Styles all those years ago, and to see all the best parts of his husband apparent in his seven year old boys makes him want to throw an entire parade in Harry’s honor. There’s a lot to be done in the next few days, but goddamnit he’s excited. He’s got the best people in the world on his side.
It’s the happiest Harry thinks he’ll ever be, late that Saturday afternoon in September when he walks into the backyard with his daughter in his arms, and she clutches her own around his neck deathly tight. It’s chilly and she’s in her warmest cream sweater, her little ankle boots matching the clips in her hair (and the ones in Harry’s as well) and her tights sparkly enough to put even her glittery nails to shame. She painted Harry’s nails as well that morning, so he’s not really complaining about matching from head to toe with the cutest little girl in the world.
They come home from a pointless run to the bank to find their backyard cluttered with everyone that means anything to them. Uncle Niall and Uncle Zayn and Uncle Liam are all here with their wives and their kids (Leah dressed in yet another bloody fucking cute floral dress, goddamnit), Gemma is here with Ashton and the boys, and all of Louis’ sisters (and Ernie) have come down as well, their kids running around the pool in a wild game of tag. The grandparents are sat together by the large maple tree in the back and Harry definitely doesn’t miss little Mary Trinkish a few meters away with a colorful bouquet of flowers in her hands and bright orange lilies weaved into her long, brown hair.
Harry’s so overcome with inexplicable joy that he forgets about his little girl in his arms, the birthday girl who’s clearly gone into shock. “You okay, baby?” he asks her softly.
“Dad,” Darcy deadpans, eyes wide and mouth hanging in disbelief. “Put me down.”
“Hurry!” she urges, wriggling in his arms impatiently.
“Alright, alright,” he laughs. He puts her down and before he can even stand back up, Darcy zips right across the yard with those speedy little legs of hers. Harry’s momentarily caught in confusion, but then he watches as Darcy wraps her arms around Teddy and Auggie and tackles them right to the ground. It elicits a loud laugh from everyone watching them, but it makes Harry’s eyes water up stupidly. A lump forms in his throat and he can’t fucking swallow past it because his kids are crushing each other in hugs and they’re so fucking good to each other and –
As if God has a sense of humor and Harry wasn’t already convinced that fate favors them the most of all, Louis picks that exact moment to pop up out of nowhere and wrap an arm around Harry’s waist. “Hey,” his husband hums against his temple, pressing a soft kiss where his words warm Harry’s skin in the chilly September air.
It takes a while for Harry to figure out what to say or do or how to breathe, even. Instead he turns into Louis’ arms and rests his head against his husband’s chest, lets the soft thudding of Louis’ heartbeat calm the ache in his own. He lets out a shaky breath, but he doesn’t stop watching Darcy and Teddy and Auggie make their way around the party, the boys showing off the birthday girl like a prize and Darcy flushing red with all the kisses and praises and hugs.
All those years ago, when Harry first met Louis as a silly, cherubic 16 year old, he was convinced that Louis was it; that he was the one. And, sure, he’d always been a hopeless romantic, but Louis was different. He made Harry realize how much more he wanted – and needed – in life. Louis coming into his life made Harry realize that he was ready to settle down at 18, to become a father at 23, to promise all the days of his life for as long as he lives every few months when they’re feeling spontaneous. Louis made it impossible to not be a hopeless romantic, to believe that things would always get better; that they had to get better, because they were together and unstoppable and good to each other.
It’s been a little over 14 years now, but Louis still makes him unconditionally happy every day that he wakes up. Louis makes him grateful for their success, for the life they’ve built together, for the beautiful children they get to call their kids. Harry watches Teddy weave one of Mary’s flowers into Darcy’s hair and his heart nearly stops. He watches Auggie Eskimo kiss Charlie on his lap and he doesn’t think he’ll ever be happier than he is right now.
“Thank you,” he whispers against Louis’ neck, apropos of nothing.
Louis kisses the top of his head and pulls him closer, breathing out a long sigh. “We did pretty well, didn’t we?”
“Yeah,” Harry shrugs after a beat, biting back the goofy grin that breaks on his face. “We did alright.”