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End of the World Tonight

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It takes some getting used to at first, the way that he just fits with these boys that he’s never really fit with anyone else before. He’s pretty sure that Zayn gets it more than the others do, for whatever reason. Louis isn’t a quiet person, and he’s especially not a quiet person the way that Zayn is, but there’s something about him that Louis just clicks with quickly.

Niall’s loud and brash and the center of attention, and everyone loves him, and Liam takes a little bit longer to get to know, but once he does he’s so fucking worth it, sharp and deceptively funny. It takes some persistence, but Liam loosens up, and once he does there’s no one more willing to listen to all of Louis’ stupid schemes.

But right from the get go, Louis and Harry click in all the right ways. They run into each other in the toilets - literally - and Louis says > as he tips over, and Harry just laughs, straightens him out, and says hi back and well. It’s as simple as that.

It’s not until a bit later, when One Direction has been formed and they’ve had a chance to start to get to know each other, that Louis really takes a second look and thinks to himself oh. This could be something.

 

It is something. It turns out that it’s something so huge that Louis couldn’t have even imagined it on his best day, something so much bigger than he ever thought he would be able to have a piece of.

And then there’s Harry. The first real conversation that he has with Harry Styles - and if that isn’t a real fucking rock star name than Louis doesn’t know what is - is completely off the wall ridiculous and he can’t keep a straight face during it, and that’s saying something. Louis normally has the straightest of faces when he’s fucking with someone that he doesn’t really know.

It doesn’t help that Harry Styles is smiling back at him with exactly the same type of smile that Louis can’t wipe off of his own face, big and dumb, so Louis does what he always does and jumps in with both feet. He leans forward, but Harry must not be expecting it. They both go toppling down onto the ground, quickly and actually a little bit painfully, and Harry’s opening his mouth to say something, but Louis just leans in and puts his mouth right over Harry’s.

Harry kisses back for all of five seconds before he starts laughing into Louis’ mouth. Louis pulls back, about to make his excuses and run away, but Harry only wiggles around until he somehow manages to pull his hand out from underneath his back and nearly smacks Louis in the face with a bottle of pop.

“You knocked me right onto this,” he says, and he’s still laughing as he drags Louis’ face back down, and it really is that easy.

 

It doesn’t take long for people to start finding out. They tell the boys nearly straight away, once they’ve had a chance to talk about it and decide that they’re going to give it a shot. The producers of the show clearly know, but they’re only given a few more or less friendly warnings about not letting it affect filming, and everything is fine.

It’s not really like they would have been able to do anything to stop it, anyway. For all that Louis was the one who threw them into this, Harry is the one who keeps pushing them farther, getting them more and more tangled up in each other. It doesn’t take much to have them believing that they’re in it for the long haul, that this is going to be it for the both of them.

It’s the beginning of the rest of their lives.

 

They’re tangled up together on Harry’s bed, half underneath the blankets, talking shit and watching each other’s faces, and it should be weird how comfortable it is but it’s not.

“I want to live with you for the rest of my life, I think,” Harry murmurs, blinking slowly. Louis laughs a little, because Harry’s only sixteen years old and who even knows where life will take them, where this band will take them, but.

But.

“Yeah,” he says, and pulls Harry down over him. “I think I’d like that too.”

 

Things get harder once they put the first album out. All of a sudden there’s people mobbing them everywhere, even more than what they kind of got used to on the X-Factor. Everyone who matters knows about their relationship, and it’s not like they’re hiding it, at least not then, but that begs the decision.

It’s a group decision, this. Louis and Harry have the most say in it, obviously, but they decide as a group that it would be best to keep their relationship from the prying eyes of the public, at least until they figure out exactly how far this is going to go.

It’s a decision that they all agree on. It’s a decision that turns out is simultaneously the best decision and the worst decision of Louis’ life.

 

“You remember when you told me that you wanted to live with me for the rest of your life?” Louis asks. His voice trembles a bit, exposing exactly how much he hates what he’s about to do. How much he wishes that he wasn’t about to do it.

“I remember,” Harry says. His expression is a little lost, like he thinks that they’re about to have a fight and he’s not sure what they’re supposed to be fighting about. Louis closes his eyes because he has to, has to take a second to regain his courage. He can’t keep doing this. He can’t keep suffering, can’t keep killing himself trying to hide this. He’s ready. He’s been ready for a long time.

“I remember thinking that you were barely sixteen years old and you were already so bloody sure of me,” Louis continues, opening his eyes. Harry hasn’t lost that confused look. “Like you knew who I was, even though we’d barely known each other for any time at all, like you knew me in a way that no one else ever had.”

“I did,” Harry says simply.

Louis rubs his fist across his mouth and takes a second to look at Harry, to really look at him, and he sees the same thing that he’s always seen. He sees the boy he’s been in love with since he was eighteen years old, the boy he did the last of his growing up with, the boy who’s never doubted that Louis is the one for him, the boy who’s never doubted that Louis would always be the one for him.

He also sees the boy who’s content to let things go on like this indefinitely, the boy who goes out to parties and comes home smelling like whiskey and beer to keep up appearances, the boy who the tabloids have labeled a womanizer and a heartbreaker.

They’re half right, Louis thinks, because even if they’re not right about whose heart is being broken they’re right about the fact that somebody’s heart is being broken. And it’s okay, it really is, that Harry isn’t in the same place that Louis is. It’s okay if he’s not ready. It’s okay if he’s scared and wants to keep it to himself. It’s okay.

Louis is ready, though.

“I know,” he agrees. Harry starts smiling - that slow, lazy smile that he gets when he thinks that an argument is over and that it didn’t go nearly as badly as he expected it would.

Louis takes a step closer, and then a few more, until they’re standing toe to toe, close enough to touch. Harry’s head tips down, and Louis meets him halfway, pressing their mouths together gently.

It hurts. It’s not a sudden hurt, or an unexpected hurt, but it hurts all the same, and he’s sure.

“Do you know what I see when I look at you?” he asks when they break apart.

“What?” Harry asks quietly, and Louis knows that it’s because Harry knows that this is a Serious Conversation.

Louis wets his lips. There’s enough moisture in his body to get the words out, probably. “I see the boy I want to spent the rest of my life with,” he starts. “I see the boy I’ve loved since I was eighteen. I see the boy who makes me the happiest I’ve ever been. I see the boy who’s been such a big part of my world that I wouldn’t know what to do without him.”

Harry’s quiet. Louis can read his expression, getting sadder by the second, like he knows where this is going.

He probably does. It’s never been a secret, what Louis wants. What he needs.

“I also see the boy who won’t say no to the people who want to give me a fake girlfriend or him a string of nameless conquests, the boy who’s content to hide behind a thin curtain. And I get it, Harry, I do, and it’s okay, but I’m not going to be that person anymore.”

“What person?” Harry asks, like he can’t help himself. His eyes are welling up, even though Louis hasn’t even said the words.

“The person who has to live with it,” Louis says. He has to stop and take a deep breath. He’s doing this. He’s really, really doing this, and once it’s done there’s no going back. Once it’s done that’s it, that’s the end of Harry and Louis.

“It’s okay that you’re not ready,” Louis says quietly, stroking his thumbs over Harry’s cheekbones, drying them. “But I am, and I can’t live like this any longer.”

Harry doesn’t say anything for what feels like an eternity. They stand there with their heads tipped together, crying quietly, until Louis musters the strength to pull away.

“I love you,” Harry says. A few more tears slip down his cheeks, already splotchy and red. Neither of them are attractive criers.

“I love you too,” Louis says, because that’s never been the problem. “I’m gonna - I’m gonna go stay with my mum, okay? You can stay here. I’ll call Nick for you, he can come and stay with you for a while.”

“So that’s it, then,” Harry says. He scrubs at his face angrily. “You’re gonna pack up and just leave, just like that.”

Louis swallows against the lump in his throat and takes a step back. He told himself that he wouldn’t bawl while doing this, and he’s determined not to let that have been a lie. He needs that not to have been a lie.

“You’ve heard everything that I have to say,” he says. “We tried to make it work, and I’m not going to like, give you an ultimatum or something. I’m not going to do that to you, so yeah, I’m gonna pack some stuff and go.”

“It’s not that easy,” Harry says, frustrated. He runs a hand through his hair. “You don’t get to just say hey, that’s it, I can’t do it anymore, I’m leaving you but I’ll call Nick for you because guess what, I’m also taking all of your friends in the divorce.”

“It’s not like that,” Louis says sharply. He makes an effort to control his tone. This isn’t Harry’s fault. It’s not Louis’ fault, either. It’s neither of their faults. It’s the product of being born in the wrong universe at the wrong time, Louis thinks.

That doesn’t make anything any easier, though. “Nick’s your friend, not mine. He’s going to be the person who doesn’t feel like they’re taking sides if they come to support you.”

“And the rest of it?” Harry asks quietly. He looks exhausted, hands hanging limply at his sides, back slouched. He looks defeated.

“Be safe,” Louis says, instead of answering the question. He’s not sure that he can say it again. “Make sure you lock the door when you come in. Don’t drink too much wine. Visit your mum. Hang out with Lou for a while, babysit Lux. Take care of yourself.” He takes another step back.

“Right,” Harry says faintly. He doesn’t protest as Louis edges out of the room, and it’s good that he doesn’t. Louis isn’t sure that he’d be able to walk away if he did.

He has no idea how he’s going to get through the rest of the day.

 

 

The world goes on, because of course it does. There’s nothing that can stop it, and just because Louis is lonely and hurting doesn’t mean anything to the Earth’s rotation.

So he does the things that he would normally do and tries to ignore the fact that he’s hiding in his mother’s house because he can’t go home to the house that he shared with Harry and see all of their stuff strewn all over the place, to see their home lived in and comfy, to see the product of a life lived together that he doesn’t get to have anymore.

The world goes on. It’s just Louis’ world that feels like it’s ended.

 

He tries to put on his game face, but the people who matter, the people who really matter, know that he’s not doing as well as he’s pretending.

Zayn spends a couple of days hanging out with him, even though Louis isn’t really up to doing much beyond lying in his bed and watching the telly rather listlessly. They hold hands and cuddle, and it helps, especially during the nights.

He’s not used to sleeping alone yet.

It helps a little more that Zayn doesn’t actually make him talk about it. He leaves the offer to talk open, but Zayn has never taken it personally if Louis doesn’t want to talk about something. Before he leaves, he brushes Louis’ hair off of his forehead, presses a kiss there, and hugs him for a long time.

He’s always gotten it a little bit easier than the other lads have, how Louis needs to be able to be seen in the same place as Harry, how Louis needs to be able to hold Harry’s hand whenever he wants. It’s not that Louis wants their relationship to be open to the public, but he doesn’t want to hide it. He doesn’t want to have to pretend that he’s dating a girl - a girl who’s become one of his closest friends - or that he’s alright with Harry being linked to every female who so much as breathes in his direction.

Having someone who knows how it is, someone who understands, it just - it helps. At least a little.

 

Time drags. Louis manages to convince himself to start leaving the house more, heading out for practices, going for a run, doing a little bit of shopping, hanging out with some friends that he hasn’t seen in a while.

His mum tells him that time is really the only thing that will help, but it’s been a month and a half and it still feels like a fresh wound, not being able to turn around and see Harry’s face whenever he wants. Their relationship was sexual, of course it was, but it’s not even the sex that Louis misses. He misses the way that Harry understood him, the way Harry would always laugh at his jokes, no matter how bad they were. The way Harry would start making food and then let Louis distract him. They way they’d watch telly together in the evenings, talking shit about whatever program it was.

He just. He feels lost, and alone, and like he doesn’t know what to do with himself.

And scared. Can’t forget the part where he’s scared. Scared of coming out on his own, scared of being alone, scared of never being happy again.

Sometimes, sitting alone in his room at night, in the dark, Louis pulls the covers over his head, plugs his headphones into his phone, and obsessively watches every video he has in which Harry makes an appearance, until he can finally fall asleep. He can’t stop himself from thinking soulmate, because fuck what everyone else thinks - that he was eighteen and young and in love, that there will be other guys, that someone else will come along and he’ll find happiness - Louis is sure that Harry is it.

But it will get better, because it can’t get worse, and Louis tries to believe that.

 

Liam comes to see him the next day, and it’s different from all the other times he’s visited. He has his serious face on, and he’s not trying to cheer Louis up. Louis kind of appreciates that, actually, because he wants to grieve the loss of the greatest thing he’s ever had for just a little while longer.

Louis makes them tea. It feels like this might be a conversation that needs a hot drink.

Liam sits for a while, holding the cup between his hands, and watches Louis. What he ends up saying is not what Louis expects him to say. It’s nothing even close to what Louis expects him to say.

“You know that we’ll understand if you can’t do it anymore, right?”

Louis jerks his gaze up from his own cup. “What?” he asks dumbly.

Liam takes a deep breath. “If you can’t be in the band anymore. If you need to do something else and not have to see him every day. We talked about, Zayn and Niall and me, and if you can’t do it anymore then we’ll announce a hiatus or something. Whatever you want to do.”

Louis sets his cup down on the table and clasps his hands together, mainly so he won’t be distracted by their trembling.

“I. I think maybe I just need some time. I don’t know,” he says, because he can’t imagine throwing away everything they’ve worked for.

But he also can’t imagine having to look at Harry’s face every day and remembering what it was like, so there’s that.

“Okay,” Liam says eventually. “But we’re all behind you on this. We never wanted this for you guys.”

Louis inhales and gives Liam a smile, even if it doesn’t manage to quite meet his eyes. “Yeah. Me neither.”

 

His mum suggest that he start looking at flats. He doesn’t really want to, because he doesn’t want to be reminded of the last time that he went house hunting, with Harry, their realtor waiting outside while Harry stuck his hands in Louis’ back pockets in the empty bedroom, both of them surveying the place like they had the first clue what they were supposed to be looking at.

He has to do something, though. Crashing in his mum’s house, sleeping in his childhood bedroom and barely having a life is not moving on.

So he starts looking. He uses the same realtor that they used before, even though she brings up all sorts of memories. She was good, though, and discrete, and they didn’t tell her anything but she knew all the same and nothing ever came out.

She’ll be able to tell this time, too, just by looking at his face. She’s that kind of person, the kind that can read someone. She’ll know that he doesn’t want what they had before without him having to say anything, and that’s exactly what he wants. The less he has to talk about it the better.

He looks at a whole lot of places and doesn’t find anything. Everything feels wrong - too big, too airy, too fancy, too many bedrooms. Eventually, she suggests that maybe he should rent something, and it sounds good. Better than any other ideas he’s had so far, anyway, so he finds something a lot smaller, something that only has one bedroom, barely any kitchen, and a tiny little living room.

It’s pretty much exactly what he wanted. He hugs her tight and thanks her, meaning it from the bottom of his heart, because while this still might not be moving on it’s something, something he never could have done on his own.

It’s a step in the right direction.

 

He doesn’t decorate, exactly, but he goes back to the flat one day after being out and he’s accumulated furniture and pots and dishes and none of it matches and all of it helps.

So he just keeps putting one foot in front of the other and gives Liam his answer.

 

They start writing the next album, him and Liam, and it’s good. It’s nice to hang out with someone and finally start feeling like he might be able to breathe again, like he’s getting back to being himself.

It’s never going to be the same. They still haven’t quite figured out what to do about touring, but Louis has a few ideas, and he’s sure that Liam probably has a couple, so he thinks it’ll be okay.

It has to be.

 

They finish writing twelve songs, and there’s no guarantee that any of them will make it onto the album, but it feels like an accomplishment all the same, so when Liam suggests they go out for a drink at some dive bar where they’ve never even heard of One Direction, much less be able to pick them out of a line-up, Louis agrees. It sounds fun, and fun is something that Louis has been sorely lacking lately.

Niall shows up, because it’s a drink and it’s Niall, and it’s going well. Louis is loosening up, and there are entire stretches of time where he forgets about the heaviness in his heart.

It’s good.

Louis goes to get the next round, tapping his fingers on the sticky bar in time with the music while he waits for the drinks. It’s something heavy, something that he doesn’t recognize, but it’s sounds good to him all the same. Nothing at all like they do.

“Make a lot of mistakes, do you?” a voice next to him asks, clearly referring to his oops tattoo, and Louis doesn’t look over.

“Lot of them start with talking to strange men in bars,” he says. He regrets taking off his jacket because he’s only wearing a short sleeved shirt underneath it, and while he’s not ashamed of any of his tattoos, even the ones he should be ashamed of, it gives people an opening, an invitation to bring them up.

The guy laughs, genuinely amused, and it’s definitely the kind of laugh that could get him in trouble. “There’s no doubt in my mind that you can take care of yourself,” he says. The bartender slides a tray with the drinks in front of Louis, and he opens his wallet.

“I do alright,” Louis says, sliding over a few notes and grabbing the tray. “Always felt that a jab in the balls helps, though,” he adds, because he’s tired and a little tipsy and he has no reason to be nice to this guy.

He looks over at the guy, and it’s a mistake, because Louis has only had one sexual partner in his life, so he doesn’t really know if he has a type, but if he did, this guy would definitely fit it. More muscular than Harry, a little taller but dark haired, smiley. Nice eyes.

“Something tells me that you’d have your partner wrapped around your finger, sweetheart,” the guys says, winking. He lets his fingers trail over Louis’ wrist for a split second, and pushes himself off the bar. “Nice chatting with you.”

The guy leaves, and Louis breathes for a second before lifting up the tray. His heart is still beating a little too fast by the time he gets back to their booth, and Niall cheers loudly once he sets the tray down. Louis thinks he’s cheering for the beer until Niall slaps him on the back.

“Look at you, Tommo,” he crows, and Louis flushes.

“Shut up,” he says, and picks up a glass. His hands are sweating a little, and did that really happen?

That was the first guy Louis has flirted with since the break up. It was terrible, terrible flirting, sure, but it was flirting, and it doesn’t feel like the world is ending. At least not any more than normal.

Louis has a couple more pints and thinks that maybe he deserves this. He hasn’t had sex in two months, and he’s only ever had sex with one person in his life. Maybe it’s time to do something about that.

So he downs the rest of his beer and shoves himself up from the table. The guy’s been watching him all night, making no secret of it, and maybe Louis’ been watching back. It’s starting to feel like this is something that he can do.

He stands over the guy’s table for a minute and doesn’t say anything while the guy watches him appraisingly, clearly checking him out.

“Did you come over here to tell me off for staring at you or did you come over here to have a drink with me?” the guy asks, smile lifting the corner of his mouth.

Louis swallows. “I didn’t come over here to tell you off for staring at me,” he says. He’s not quite ready to admit to it out loud - can’t shake the feeling that this is cheating, right now - but baby steps, right?

The guy’s smile grows.

“Good, because I’m not sure that I could have apologized for staring at that face,” he says. “Patrick.”

“Louis,” Louis says, and sits down on the chair that the guy’s friend has just vacated.

 

They have a couple more drinks and talk some, and Louis eventually starts thinking that this is definitely something that he can do. So when Patrick asks if he wants to get out of there, Louis says a definitive yes.

He flips off Niall and Liam on his way out of the door.

 

They only get outside before Louis has to know, so he stops, and Patrick stops, and Louis surges up onto his toes to kiss him. Patrick stumbles back a step before he finds his balance and slides his hands around Louis’ back, deepening the kiss.

It doesn’t feel anything like Louis is used to it feeling like, but it feels good, like it could go somewhere. Like it might be just enough for now, and Louis has to start somewhere, right?

Right. Except he can hear his name being shouted, and it sounds vaguely panicky, so pulls off but doesn’t pull back and glances over his shoulder to see Niall bursting out of the bar, phone in hand.

“What?” Louis snaps, because if he doesn’t get this going now then he’s going to lose his nerve. Who knows when he’ll get it back if he doesn’t do this now.

Niall doesn’t get a chance to answer.

“What’s this then?” somebody else asks from beside them, and Louis jumps back like he’s been burned.

Harry’s staring at them, at the way that Patrick’s hand is still curled around Louis’ side, and he looks vaguely murderous.

“Harry, good seeing you, mate, fancy getting a drink?” Niall jumps in, cutting in front of Louis like that’s going to stop Harry from looking at Patrick like he’s about to commit homicide.

“No, mate, I don’t fancy getting a drink,” Harry says, and Patrick’s hand drops from Louis’ side. “Lou.”

“Harry,” Louis returns, as evenly as he can. It’s been two months of nothing, two months of listening to a stupid voicemail on his phone at four o’clock in the morning because he can’t sleep and he just needs to hear Harry’s voice, and it’s his own fault, but that doesn’t make this any easier.

“Lou. What’re you doing.” It’s not really a question, is it, but Patrick takes a step back all the same, even though he’s bigger than Harry and could definitely take him in a fight. Clearly he’s never read an article about how much more of a lover Harry is than a fighter.

“I’m on a date,” Louis says, and Harry’s expression gets even darker.

“A date? Yeah? Looks like you picked up some guy you don’t know in a grimy bar so you can take him home and fuck ‘im,” Harry says. Louis crosses his arms over his chest.

“Really none of your business either way, is it mate?” he asks, and turns his back on Harry to face Patrick.

“You still want to?” he asks. Patrick looks at him for a second, gaze lingering on his mouth. Louis knows what he looks like when he’s been kissed thoroughly, and that wasn’t what happened, but he’s still pretty sure that he looks fuckable.

“Oh, I want to,” Patrick says. “But I also don’t want to get in the middle of whatever this is, so I’m going to have to pass.” He kisses the corner of Louis’ mouth before making his dramatic exit, and Louis can only stare at his retreating back.

“Well I hope you’re happy, arsehole,” Louis says, turning back around. He must blink or something, because next thing he knows, Harry’s all up in his space and his mouth is on Louis’.

And oh, this is what he kept waiting for out of that kiss with Patrick. Harry kisses the same as always, one big hand cradling the back of Louis’ head, fingers threaded through Louis’ hair, biting down on Louis’ lip, other hand on the small of Louis’ back, pressing them together and giving Louis leverage to push up if he wants to.

And it’s like fireworks, same as it always is, being kissed by Harry Styles.

At some point they must have moved, because all of a sudden Louis can feel the wall against his back, and his knee wants to come up around Harry’s hip and give Harry an excuse to get him exactly in the right place, and he thinks to himself distantly that maybe, maybe this was a bad idea, because if he does this then he’s going to be right back where he started, floundering like he’s lost a limb.

But oh, he wants to.

Louis reaches up and tilts Harry’s chin a little, and slows the kiss.

“You haven’t, right? You haven’t?” Harry asks, mumbling it into Louis’ mouth, and all of a sudden Louis is aware that his fingers are wet where they’re touching Harry’s jaw.

“I haven’t,” Louis agrees, and settles back down onto the ground properly. The strain on his calves immediately disappears.

“And you haven’t wanted to,” Harry presses. His eyes are bloodshot and he looks terrible, and that makes Louis feel a little bit better. He’s such a bad person, sometimes.

“I haven’t,” Louis says. He presses his thumb to the corner of Harry’s mouth, just for a second.

“We should talk,” Harry says, pleading. “We need to talk.”

Louis breathes and tries to remember to keep breathing. In and out. It’s not that hard. “Not sure that there’s anything I have to say that you don’t already know, love.”

Harry stares at him. “You broke my heart,” he says eventually.

Louis bites his lip and nods his head slowly. “I know,” he says, ducks out from underneath Harry’s arm, and walks away.

 

He walks the four miles back to his flat, hands shoved deep into his pockets, keeping his pace even and his head down.

He smashes just about every dish he owns the second he gets inside.

 

There’s a knock on the door three hours later, which was enough time for the bleeding on his palm to stop and for him to be halfway through a bottle of good whiskey.

He opens the door bare chested and in a pair of ratty sweatpants, because he at least had the foresight to change into something he won’t regret passing out in.

“What, are you stalking me now?” he demands, shoving uselessly at Harry’s chest. Harry rocks backwards on his heels but doesn’t move. He’s looking at the mess behind in the flat, Louis can tell, so he snorts and sweeps a hand out behind him.

“Yeah, why don’t you just make whatever comment you want about what a slob I am, about how useless I am.” He hits Harry again, because he wants to and because he sees no reason not to. Harry catches his hand and pulls it towards him gently.

He peels the gauze back and examines the cut on Louis’ hand. “Oh, baby,” he murmurs, and somehow they got into the flat, because Harry’s pushing the door closed behind them and twisting the lock.

“Didn’t give you permission to come in, did I?” Louis demands. Harry ignores him, and Louis is being pushed towards the bedroom, but how can Harry know where the bedroom is when Harry’s never been here before?

“Harry,” Louis snaps, digging his heels in, abruptly about a thousand times more sober. Harry sweeps his legs out from underneath him, quick and smooth and holy shit where did he learn to do that?

“What, you gonna try to shag me now?” Louis asks, mocking. “Can’t get it anywhere else, Styles? I’m surprised that you don’t have people lining up down the sidewalk for a chance to suck your cock.”

“Shut up,” Harry says, and there’s this edge in his voice that he doesn’t really get with Louis.

So Louis shuts up and Harry tumbles him onto the bed. He lands on his side facing the wall and stays there, curling his knees up to his chest.

There’s a dip in the mattress as Harry sits down. It’s a double. Louis thought about getting a single so it wouldn’t seem as big at night, but singles remind him of the tour bus and being half buried underneath Harry’s weight and how they struggled to find a comfortable position to sleep in, the first couple of weeks.

“I just,” Harry starts, and stops. Louis makes a quiet, disbelieving noise into the pillow.

“I still don’t have anything to say,” he says.

Harry sighs. His fingers trace a pattern down Louis’ spine, soft and soothing. “I know.” His hand curves around Louis’s ribs and stays there. “I want to fuck you.”

Louis bites the inside of his cheek. “I know you do.”

“And you want me to fuck you.”

“Yeah, I’m well aware of that, thank you,” Louis says. Out of the corner of his eye, he can see Harry leaning over him.

“So can I?” He’s watching Louis’ face, Louis knows. Louis closes his eyes and rubs his thumb against his palm.

“Yeah.”

Harry’s weight leaves the bed, and there’s the sound of rummaging, like he’s going through Louis’ drawers. It takes him about two seconds to find what he’s looking for, clearly stills knows exactly where Louis would keep his stuff.

He falters, though, just long enough to be noticeable before coming back to the bed.

“There’s no rubber,” he says, and his voice is too even for him not to be making an effort to keep it even.

“Don’t got any,” Louis agrees, closing his eyes and smiling into the mattress because he can totally still get to Harry, even now, even after they’ve hurt each other so much they’ll probably never mend properly.

“Don’t need any?” Harry asks, and he could be asking if he doesn’t need one to put his cock in Louis’ arse or he could be asking if Louis doesn’t need any because he’s not thinking about having sex with other people.

“No,” he says, because it doesn’t matter which question Harry is asking. The answer is the same either way.

Harry sits down on the bed again, and Louis can tell he’s breathing into his knees without even looking at him. Louis lets him have his minute. He might need a minute for himself, anyway.

“Get these off,” Harry says, tugging on the waist of Louis’ sweatpants. Louis makes a disagreeable noise and rolls onto his front, burying his face into his arms.

Harry yanks them down the same way that he always does, and Louis’ heart warms a little more. They get tangled around his feet, and Harry leaves them there, like he always does, leaving it up to Louis to kick them off, and everything about this is familiar that he might actually cry.

He kicks the sweats off while Harry busies himself skimming his hands over Louis’ bum, copping a none-too-subtle feel.

“Hurry up and get your fingers wet, Curly, I don’t got all day here,” Louis says, pulling his knee up to give Harry better access.

“Bossy,” Harry murmurs, and normally Louis would say something about how Harry likes it, but this isn’t exactly a normal situation, so he keeps his mouth shut.

Harry presses a finger into him, and it feels like it comes out of nowhere and has the immediate effect of making his bones turn all jello-y.

“Jesus,” he sighs, hitching his knee a little higher. Harry presses his mouth to the back of Louis’ neck, soft and warm.

“Yeah?” he asks.

“You fucking know it, you bastard,” Louis says. He can feel Harry’s smile before he adds a second finger.

They’re quiet while Harry stretches him out, and Louis tries to control how loud he’s breathing, even though he’s never worried about it before, not even the first time when they were essentially just fumbling around and neither of them knew what they were doing.

It feels really fucking good, and Harry twists his fingers exactly the way that Louis likes the best. Sometimes Louis wonders whether sex is like this for everyone else, whether it feels like you might just explode from how good it is.

Louis rides Harry’s fingers until Harry pulls them out and then there’s the head of his cock pressing up there, the ghost of a tease.

“You sure?” Harry asks. His chest slips against Louis’ back as he talks, sweaty. He could be asking if Louis still wants to do this, but he’s not.

“Never needed a rubber with you, Curly, have I?” Louis manages. “Unless there’s a reason I should start now.”

Harry breathes into his hair. “Never a reason,” he says, and tangles his fingers through Louis’ a split second before he pushes in.

Louis jerks, like he always does, and Harry uses their fingers to drag him back down, like he always does.

“Fuck,” Louis says, and settles into it. Harry’s thrusts are long and languid, unhurried. He brushes the hair out of Louis’ eyes, and Louis turns his head to meet his kiss at the exact right time.

“Yeah,” Harry says, but it’s a question so Louis wiggles a little and says, “No, a little,” and Harry shifts and, “Oh, yes, there,” he says. Harry keeps the same pace, slow and steady. It’s nothing like what broken up sex should be, especially when Harry’s fingers tangle through Louis’ and pull him back into the next thrust. It’s the same kind of sex they’ve always had when they’re both tired and a little loopy and maybe a little drunk.

“I miss you,” Harry murmurs into the back of Louis’ neck.

Louis squeezes his eyes closed and clenches down around Harry’s cock, partially to goad Harry into fucking him a little harder and partially to get Harry’s mind off of it. It’s the last thing he needs to hear, how much Harry misses him, how much Harry loves him.

Listening to how much Harry loves him is only going to make it harder to get over him. Having sex with Harry isn’t going to help, either, but loneliness is a powerful motivator.

It seems to work, anyway. Harry presses a bruising kiss into Louis’ neck before picking up his pace, slipping one hand down to circle around Louis’ cock. Louis could have gotten there anyway - they learned a long time ago that he doesn’t actually need a hand when he’s getting fucked - but he’ll get there a lot quicker, this way.

This is nothing like what Louis was picturing broken up sex to be, and he’s thought about it a lot over the past couple of weeks. It’s not weird, it’s just - Harry’s the only person he’s ever had sex with, his brain associates sex with Harry. It’ll probably take some time before that starts changing.

His brain is already starting to tell him that this is the only way that sex will ever feel right, with Harry, and that’s a train of thought that’s completely unacceptable, so he needs to speed this up and get Harry out of his bed, out of his flat.

And there’s plenty of things that will get Harry there , even if it does mean that Louis plays dirty.

“You gonna fuck me like you mean it anytime this century?” he asks, clenching down as tight as he can, until he feels Harry’s breath start to shudder against his skin. “Never gonna get me off like that. Should go out and find me a guy who knows how to fuck me properly, a boy who can satisfy me. Might find me an American boy, like the one outside the pub. He looked like he would have been a proper good fuck, yeah?”

The breath gets punched out of him as Harry starts really giving it to him, nailing him quick and hard and it’s not going to take much of that pace for Louis to come all over himself.

And maybe he’s still a little bit drunk, because he really should have seen it coming. “Think I don’t know exactly how you want it, baby?” Harry demands. “Think there’s anyone out there who could give it to you better than me?”

Nothing about it is fair. Nothing about it is untrue. Louis’ eyes prickle. “Please,” he says, but he doesn’t know what he’s even asking for. For Harry to stop, for Harry to make him come. For Harry to change his mind.

“There’s no one out there for me but you,” Harry says, twisting his hand on Louis’ cock, and Louis comes with tears clumping his eyelashes. It’s not one of his best orgasms - too sad to be really good - but it’s better than any time he’s gotten himself off in the past couple of weeks.

He bites his lip and takes in a couple of breaths, trying to get his shaking under control enough to help Harry out. Harry could get there on his own, definitely, but Louis broke his heart and maybe he deserves that, at least.

He can’t say it back, no matter how true it feels, but he twists until he’s managed to get himself into a position to pull Harry’s head down and fit their mouths together, letting Harry lick into his mouth as easily as he always does. Harry’s still got a grip on his cock, and it doesn’t feel particularly good - Louis always gets sensitive after an orgasm - but he can handle it for the brief amount of time it’ll take Harry to come.

He’s never far behind.

It only takes a few more shuddering thrusts before Harry starts to come, mouth going slack against Louis’. He pushes in all the way and stays there, breathing into Louis’ mouth heavily. Louis wiggles his fingers underneath Harry’s and moves them off his cock, letting him do his thing.

“You know what I want to tell you right now?” Harry murmurs after a minute, lacing their fingers together.

Louis can think of a few things, none of which are exactly complimentary, so he stays quiet. Their faces are still tipped together, close enough that he’d be able to count Harry’s eyelashes if he wanted to.

He doesn’t, but he could.

“I want to tell you how much I love you,” Harry says, “and how much I miss you, and how much I don’t want you to fuck other people.” He pulls out quickly, and Louis is used to the drag - still used to it - but he still holds his breath until it’s done.

His throat feels too tight to talk, but he has to. He can’t let this continue. This has to be the only time they slip, because he’s not sure that he can handle it if it’s not. “I’m going to fuck other people. You’re going to fuck other people. We’re going to go our separate ways, and it’s going to suck for a while, but it’s going to happen.”

Harry’s quiet for a minute, fingers drifting idly over Louis’ belly like he thinks he still has the right to touch whenever he wants whenever he wants.

Louis’ heart hurts too much to tell him otherwise.

They lie there in silence for a minute, still sweaty and pressed up together, before Harry sits up. He doesn’t move after that, and Louis eventually gathers the will to roll over. Harry’s come has started leaking out of him, and normally Harry would be all over him when it started, trying to convince Louis to let him put it back with a couple of fingers.

“I don’t want to go,” Harry admits, after a couple minutes have gone by.

It’s just. Louis doesn’t want him to go either, but he wants to be able to move on and start being happy again, and he doesn’t think that’s too much to ask. He knows exactly what type of damage letting Harry stay would be, but he puts himself into the proper sleeping position regardless, curling up on his side in a way that he hasn’t been able to do since they broke up.

His back always feels too cold to sleep like that, now.

“You have to be gone in the morning,” Louis says, voice wavering. “You - you can only stay for a couple hours, then you have to go.”

Harry doesn’t waste any time, curling up against Louis’ back and settling the sheets over them.

It’s the best Louis has slept in a long fucking time.

 

True to his word, Harry’s gone in the morning. The sheets on his side of the bed are long since cold. Louis had woken up when Harry had left, but he’d pretended to sleep through it, even though they both knew that he was awake.

He only gets out of bed to piss that day.

 

 

He makes a genuine effort to get back into the swing of things. He’s got a football match coming up, and the tour’s set to kick off in a couple of months. He’s trying really hard to get back to his old self, and he thinks he’s mostly succeeding. Sometimes he’ll see something that reminds him of Harry and the ache in his chest will flare up, but it’s manageable. It’s more manageable than it was a month ago.

It’s the only reason he’s even attending this party, full of people that he doesn’t know and people that he doesn’t like. He’s a pretty social person, normally, but something about this particular party is making his head ache, a little. Liam’s taken pity on him and is holing up in a corner with him, drinks clutched firmly in their hands like they’re back in school all over again.

They’re talking about something inane, like they normally do, just having a laugh and making fun of each other, when Liam brings it up.

“It might be easier if you didn’t keep sleeping with him.”

Louis tenses. It’s not like he’s thought that no one has noticed, but he was counting on it being ignored. “It was once, and it’s not going to happen again,” he says, and hopes that’s going to be the end of it.

“So far it’s been four times and you know it’s going to happen again tonight if you don’t say no,” Liam says firmly. “Look, I love you both but if what you want is to come out and have a relationship that you don’t have to hide you need to stop fucking him.”

He makes it sound so easy. If it was that easy then Louis’ heart would be healed right now instead of still lying around in a million pieces.

“He was my whole world for four years, Liam,” Louis says. He can hear his voice getting duller, like keeping up the pretense is no longer working. “He’s the only person I’ve ever slept with, it’s not that easy to just pick up and start over again.”

“I’m not saying that it’s going to be easy,” Liam says gently. “I’m just saying that you’re making it a whole lot harder on yourself.”

Louis breathes and doesn’t let his eyes start watering. “Yeah.”

He’ll try.

 

He’s not quite ready to go all in with the trying just yet, though, so when Harry knocks on his door that night he only hesitates for a minute before pulling it open. Harry’s on him immediately, hands cupping Louis’ face and kissing him desperately, like he knows what Louis is going to say.

He might. Louis wouldn’t put it past Liam to tell him, thinking that it’s in Louis’ best interests. Or thinking that Louis wouldn’t tell him and would let this keep happening.

The thought is tempting.

“Bed, baby, bed,” Harry says, crushing the words into Louis’ mouth. He doesn’t seem drunk, but he hauls Louis up off the floor and starts walking them towards the bedroom like he’s desperate.

Louis means to stop him, or slow him, he really does, but then one of Harry’s hands is fumbling with his zip, using the other to keep him up, and it’s so fucking hot that all Louis can do is gasp into the kiss, toes already curling behind Harry’s back.

All of a sudden it becomes clear exactly what Liam was trying to say. They’ve been in this together for the entire time, and having sex even though they’re technically broken up is only tricking Louis’ brain into thinking that everything is okay.

This has to be the last time.

It feels like maybe Harry knows that’s what Louis is thinking, trying to distract him with kisses so scorching that Louis could probably get off like this, just from being kissed and held up in Harry’s arms and rubbing off on each other.

That’s not what Louis wants their last time to be like, though, so he pulls his head back, gasping, “Please, please, bed.”

Harry takes advantage of it and immediately bites down on Louis’ pulse point, sucking a mark into his skin that’s going to last for days. There’ll be pap pics of it when Louis goes out and Liam will look all disappointed in him but it’ll be something to remember this night by, at least for a couple of days.

After that it’ll have to live in his head.

They’re still moving through the hallway, nearly knocking into the wall so many times that Louis loses count. He’s going to miss the way Harry’s always so eager to get him naked that he doesn’t pay as much attention to where he’s going as he should.

“It’s not the last time,” Harry says, biting him again, in the same spot. It’s getting a little sore, but it’s nothing that Louis hasn’t felt before, many different times. Harry knows by now that he likes it.

“It’s the last time,” Louis says. They finally reach the bedroom, what seems like a million years later, and Harry lets Louis go long enough for them both to strip themselves, quickly and efficiently.

Louis has always been a little slower when it comes to stripping, mostly because he’s a tease and he knows it, but it gives Harry that extra two seconds to trip him up and get him to fall face first onto the bed. He splutters, trying to get a stray thread out of his mouth, and somehow isn’t expecting it when Harry covers him, pressing their bare skin together, head to toe.

“There’s no one in the world more capable of loving me than you are,” Harry says fiercely, determinedly, right into Louis’ ear. Louis has an answer for that, probably, but it’s hard not to think of an answer that isn’t of fucking course there’s no one more capable of loving you than I am.

Part of the problem is how very much in love they are, even now. Everything would be a whole lot easier if Louis didn’t still love him.

He still hasn’t come up with an answer by the time that Harry’s slipped down his body to hover over his arse, wasting no time spreading his cheeks and rubbing a finger down his crack.

“You want me to eat you a little?” Harry asks, pausing over Louis’ hole. “Or do you want me to finger you?”

God. If this is the last time they have this - which it will be, because Louis’ heart can’t stand to break any more - then there’s really only one answer to that question. “Eat me,” he says, wiggling his bum in Harry’s face, the way that always makes Harry laugh but never fails to get him eaten out.

“My baby wants to be eaten out,” Harry croons, and maybe he is a little drunk. He’s acting like they’re still the same, how they used to be two months ago, not like they’re broken up and only having sex because they’re so desperate that they can’t not. Like he’s forgotten everything they’ve been through lately.

Louis wishes he could forget.

“Gonna give you what you want,” Harry says, and then he’s licking over Louis’ hole, warm and wet and shockingly present.

It’s. God. It’s one of the things that Louis likes best, and it’s one of the things Harry has always liked doing to him. Having it now reminds him of every time he’s had it in the past - the very first time Harry did it, when they were young and innocent and fumbling around in the dark, and Louis had come after thirty seconds.

He’s gotten better at holding off his orgasm, but it’s still his biggest turn-on, which is why it only takes about fifteen seconds before he’s rocking his hips and whimpering, trying to get Harry to give it to him properly.

“Be still, Lou,” Harry murmurs, spreading his hands out on Louis’ hips. They practically span his entire waist, they’re so gigantic, and Louis doesn’t know how he’s going to live without this.

He’s going to have to, though.

“How am I gonna give you what you want if you don’t stay still, huh?” Harry asks. He’s breathing right over where Louis wants him the most, warm and choppy, like this is affecting him just as much as it’s affecting Louis.

The answer that Louis used to give to that question was always the same, without fail. He hears the wistfulness in Harry’s tone, which is the only indication that this isn’t like all those other times.

He shouldn’t give that answer, but he’s going to. “Could make me.”

Harry’s shudder runs through his entire body, straight into Louis’. “Gonna make you,” he says, tears already in his voice, and does it, holding Louis’ hips down as he starts working on opening him up with only his tongue, swiping warm and quick over him a few times before he begins wiggling it in.

The way he holds Louis down is never completely successful, always just the tiniest bit too loose, giving Louis the opportunity to wiggle and squirm, and it doesn’t feel right now, but he does it anyway, too overwhelmed not to.

He always gets a little spacey from this, cock hard and dripping against his stomach, fingers twisting in the sheets. It feels like he can’t get enough air, loosing a little bit more every time Harry’s tongue breaches him, coaxing his muscles to ease up.

“Please,” he gasps, trying to rock his hips a little more. It doesn’t work - Harry’s chosen now to finally learn how to hold him down properly - but it doesn’t matter because the pleading works. Harry’s licking into him leisurely, sending sparks of pleasure zinging up Louis’ spine, and that’s all it takes.

He comes as easily as he always does, rubbing his cock down into the sheets and getting come all over the place.

“You’re so fucking pretty when you come,” Harry sighs, pressing a kiss to Louis’ bum. “Can I fuck you?”

If Louis was smart he would say no. He’s always more sensitive after he’s come, and it’s not that it would hurt, necessarily, but it would take longer for him to get there. He could definitely get there - Harry would make sure that he gets there - but it’s going to take some time, and the longer that they spend together the harder it’s going to be to kick Harry out for once and for all.

“Please,” he says. Harry bites the inside of his thigh, hard enough that Louis’ leg spasms, before his fingers come back, somehow already slicked up, and one slips inside of him as easy as breathing.

It feels good, in an achy sort of way, but his cock is dragging uncomfortably against the sheets with every gentle curve of Harry’s finger, smoothing lube inside of him. “Please, please,” he begs.

It’s not fair, what Harry’s capable of doing to him without even trying. He flips Louis over slowly, carefully, without even removing his finger, like he knows what Louis needs even when Louis isn’t capable of telling him.

“I got you, baby,” Harry says, pressing his mouth to Louis’ belly. “You want another finger?”

Another finger would only add to everything that he’s feeling right now. He doesn’t know whether that would be a good thing or not, but he nods regardless. He has words - he’s fucking full of words, all threatening to spill out without his consent - but he can’t find the words to tell Harry all of that.

Either Harry’s not listening to what Louis isn’t saying or he just doesn’t care, because he slips a second finger in beside the first. He curves them immediately, searching out Louis’ prostate, and Louis’ cock starts taking an interest the second that he finds it.

“I hear you,” Harry murmurs, rubbing his fingers against that spot insistently. “I hear you, don’t ever think that I don’t.”

There’s so much that’s good about Louis’ life. He has a spectacular family, his boys that are more like his brothers than anything, amazing friends, a wildly successful career, the chance to help people because of his career, and so many other things he can’t really count them.

Losing this one thing shouldn’t feel like the end of the world, but it does.

“I know you hear me,” Louis says. He throws his arm over his eyes, ostensibly to block out the light but really because he can’t stand the thought of Harry seeing his eyes starting to water. Maybe one day he’ll be able to have sex without crying again.

“I hear you, and I’m going to do something about it,” Harry says firmly. He slides a third finger in before Louis has a chance to question it, spreading them out. The thought gets pushed to the back of Louis’ brain, taken over by how fucking good it feels.

There’s a way it could be better. He knees Harry’s side, pressing into his ribs until Harry looks up at him. “Come up here and kiss me, yeah?” His voice shakes, but Harry doesn’t mention it, slipping up until he can fit their mouths together.

It only makes everything a thousand times better. The ache in Louis’ chest eases to a manageable level with Harry’s kiss, and he doesn’t want to think about what the means for his future. It’s easy to let it go, anyway, with Harry’s mouth on his, to concentrate on being here, now, underneath Harry one last time.

Harry slips his fingers underneath Louis’ jaw, tilting him up into the kiss, coaxing his mouth open. He moves the fingers he has inside of Louis’ arse at the same time, brushing them over his prostrate. Louis’ cock goes from semi-interested to leaking in between their bellies in what feels like no time at all. Harry’s not doing any better, rocking their hips together like he’s not even aware that he’s doing it.

“You want it now, baby?” Harry asks, rubbing all of his fingers inside Louis firmly enough that his toes are tingling.

“Yes,” Louis says immediately. He sweeps his hands up Harry’s sides to settle around his neck, tangling his fingers in his hair.

“Okay,” Harry says. He pulls his fingers out and uses that hand to crook Louis’ knee over his hip, fingers smoothing across his skin. “Okay, I just.” He stops, settling his hand over Louis’ belly, just above his cock.

Louis isn’t scared of hearing what Harry has to say. He knows what Harry wants to say, the same way that he knows that hearing it isn’t going to make anything easier, isn’t going to change his mind.

He’s not going to stop him.

“I love you,” Harry says helplessly. “I - don’t ever forget that, alright?” He doesn’t give Louis a chance to answer before he’s pushing in, big and steady, still so fucking sure of himself, so sure that he knows how to fuck Louis right. Harry keeps him still during it, like he always does, fingers gripping Louis’ hips tight enough that he’ll probably wake up with bruises.

One of Louis’ problems is that he can’t forget that Harry loves him, but there’s no chance of him saying that out loud. They don’t need that kind of backsliding.

“Come on, babe,” Louis says, because it’s all he can think of to say. “Gonna fuck me like you mean it, show me, right?”

Harry bites his own lip. His necklace is swinging gently above Louis, almost transfixing for a second. “Don’t need to show you for you to know,” he says, and that ache is back from how fucking true it is.

Luckily he starts moving, so Louis doesn’t have to come up with a response. It doesn’t take him more than four thrusts to find the right angle, the one that gets Louis squirming on his cock, shoving his palm against his mouth and biting down so he’s not so fucking loud. The neighbours left him a strongly worded note after the last time. He’s just lucky that they don’t seem to have any idea who he is, otherwise it would have been all over the rags already.

He can only imagine the headlines.

Harry must decide that he doesn’t like the way that Louis is trying to contain himself, though. He starts thrusts harder, angling Louis’ hips a little better, hitting his prostrate with every stroke, and it takes less than ten seconds for the palm in his mouth to start failing him.

“That’s it, baby,” Harry says. “Gonna get you off like this, on my cock. ‘s all it’s gonna take, yeah?”

It really fucking is all it’s gonna take. Louis inches his thigh up a little more, gripping Harry’s side as tight as he can, and lets his head fall back into the pillow. He doesn’t know whether it’s just Harry or whether all cock will feel this good to him, and he’s not anxious to find out, but for now he can just have this. He can have this just for a little bit longer.

“Love your cock in me,” Louis says, pulling Harry’s head down so they can kiss again. He wants all the kisses he can get while he can still get them.

“Love my cock being in you,” Harry whispers, directly into Louis’ mouth like it’s a secret that he doesn’t want to leave this room.

The fact that it is a secret that he doesn’t want to leave this room is why Louis can’t do this anymore.

This isn’t what he wanted their last time together to be like, but he can’t change it. He can’t do anything but kiss Harry harder, more desperately, trying to imprint the memory of what it feels like into his brain so that he’ll never forget.

He thought that they would have forever, and the fact that they can’t is like a bucket of ice over his head.

“I’m gonna find a way to make it up to you, I promise,” Harry says, kissing him again. Louis barely hears it, trying too hard not to start crying. “Just come, huh? Come and everything will start to get better, baby, just come for me.”

Louis does, coming untouched all over his belly for the second time that night, and it hurts as much as it feels good. Harry shoves in deep and follows him, mouth going lax against Louis’.

They lie there in silence for a minute, faces too close to be able to see each other’s expressions. Then Harry pulls out, holding Louis’ left thigh still so he doesn’t accidentally kick him, so much more sensitive now that he’s come twice.

Louis waits until he’s finished pulling all the way out before he says it. “That was the last time. This can never happen again, do you understand?”

He doesn’t have to be able to see Harry’s face to know that his mouth tightens. He stands up abruptly and starts shoving himself back into his clothes, not saying anything until he’s fully dressed. He does it with his back to Louis, and for a minute Louis honestly thinks that that’s going to be it, that he’s going to walk out without another word, and he isn’t sure how he should feel about that.

Then he spins on his heel and marches back to the bed so fast that all Louis has time to do is sit up, scrunching up the sheets around his waist. He holds up a hand, but it doesn’t nothing under the force of Harry’s determination.

“It’s not the last time,” he says firmly, right before he kisses Louis so thoroughly that he leaves Louis’ head spinning a little. He makes a dramatic exit, banging the bedroom door open and leaving in a flurry of loose plaid and tousled hair.

It was the last time, though.

It has to be the last time.

 

 

Louis is in the middle of a post-game interview. The game didn’t go so well - they lost - but the interview’s actually not bad, focusing on how the team is doing instead of how many screaming girls there are sitting in the stands, so of course it gets crashed by Niall.

“Sorry to interrupt, mate, but I gotta steal this one,” Niall says, Irish accent out in full force, the way he always sounds when he gets super excited about something. He wraps his hand around Louis’ upper arm, trying to tug him along, but Louis’ attention is already caught on the screen above the field.

Harry’s on some show doing some interview with someone that Louis doesn’t recognize, but they’ve got the subtitles going and he has to take a second to admire just how much planning this must have taken.

Then he drags Niall down with him into a crouch on the grass. His knees don’t want to hold him up anymore. “Oh jesus.”

So are you denying the rumours that you’re a womanizer?

That. Louis’ heart beat triples. He can practically taste his pulse at the back of his throat. He honestly might throw up.

I wouldn’t say that I’m denying them so much as I’m flat out saying that they aren’t true. I’ve only ever been with one person.

There’s no way. There’s no way. Harry’s not doing this. He’s not ready to do this.

One person?

Yeah.

Anyone we might know?

Louis’ palms are sweaty. He wipes them on his shorts absently, wishing for his jeans. Maybe he wouldn’t be feeling so exposed if he was wearing his jeans right now. He can faintly hear the murmur of the crowd around them, but most of his attention is still caught on the screen. He can’t breathe.

You might know him, yeah. I’m not sure that he’d want me to go around telling everyone about it before I even asked him.

The screams get deafening. He could really use his in-ears right now. Between the screaming and the pounding of his own heart he might actually be losing his hearing.

So the rumours about you being a womanizer are really untrue, then.

I mean, I’m pretty sure.

If Louis’ eyes are watering that’s between him and five thousand teenage girls with cameras trained on him.

So why now? Why come out now?

The screen focuses in on Harry’s face, a little nervous, unsure. He doesn’t look like he regrets any of it.

I realized that it’s time that I stop hiding. I have nothing to be ashamed of, and he definitely has nothing to be ashamed of, and I’m sorry that it took me so long to get to this point.

No. This can’t be happening. Louis sinks into the grass a little further. He can’t take his eyes off the screen, unwilling to miss even a second.

Does this mystery man of yours know that you’re doing this interview right now?

Louis makes a mental note to send a bouquet of flowers to this interviewer. He might actually show up on her doorstep to kiss her. The last thing he needs is to be linked to this more than he’s already going to be.

I think he probably knows by now, yeah.

And how do you think he’s going to feel about it?

Louis holds his breath, not entirely sure what to expect.

I think that after he stops trying to murder me he’s going to be happy. I hope he will be, at least. I really screwed things up for a while. I’m pretty sure he hasn’t forgiven me yet.

No. He definitely hasn’t.

So this is your way of apologizing?

Yeah. Little bit romantic, innit? Declaring my love on television and all?

No. It isn’t romantic. It’s practically giving Louis a panic attack, watching it on a screen surrounded by their screaming fans.

Maybe it’s a little romantic.

“You know that it’s airing live, right?” Niall says abruptly. He squeezes Louis close. “In the conference room.” He points helpfully, like he thinks that Louis doesn’t know where it is.

He’ll probably still be angry, but. I hope this will help, at least a little.

“Oh, you bastard. I’m plenty angry,” Louis mutters. He pushes himself to his feet and takes off in the direction that Niall pointed to the sound of five thousand girls all on their feet, screaming their lungs out.

He’s gonna link himself to it before anyone else even has the chance.

He bursts into the interview loudly and without any grace at all, tackling Harry right out of his chair. His momentum sends them both toppling to the floor, and at first he’s trying to punch Harry in the face, because he definitely deserves it.

Harry manages to wrestle both of Louis’ wrists into one hand, though, because he’s bigger and Louis’ efforts are half-hearted at best, and then they’re kissing with Louis sprawled out in Harry’s lap, still sweaty from the game. His hair is matted down to his forehead, and he’s pretty sure that this is making for some nearly x-rated television, but he doesn’t even care.

“I love you, I’m sorry, I’m ready, I love you so much,” Harry’s mumbling, clutching at Louis like he’s a lifeline. Louis pulls back a little and looks at him, at his stupid dimply face, at the boy he’s been in love with since he was eighteen years old.

A spontaneous love declaration on presumably international television doesn’t fix everything, and they still have a lot of things to work through, but it’s a good fucking start.

“I love you too,” he says. He kisses Harry again, slow and sweet, wiggling on his lap just to really get him into it, and then moves back so he has enough space to punch Harry right in the balls.

He walks out of the room with the sounds of Harry’s pained groaning in his ears and makes a mental note burn all of Harry’s ridiculous hats.

He’s going home, and for the first time in over two months his heart doesn’t feel like it’s breaking.

He’s going home.