The feel of hot breath on Harry’s dick is glorious.
Like genuinely heavenly, because Harry’s all heavy with sleep and warm and wrapped in soft sheets on a bed so soft it might be a cloud, and there’s a gentle hand on each of his thighs and a mouth hovering close to his naked cock. Little puffs of air float across Harry’s sensitive skin, making him squirm even in this hazy state. There are a few quick breaths, like the person behind those lips might be giving a silent laugh, and Harry struggles to flutter his eyelids open to confirm his suspicion that someone is endeavoring to give him a wakeup call straight from above.
As soon as his eyes adjust to the light Harry knows he’s dreaming, because the mouth and the hands belong to Louis Tomlinson, world famous popstar and frequent star of Harry’s dreams- most of them of a risqué nature. Harry’s been alive for seventeen years but he’s pretty certain he’s only been alive since he first saw Louis’ picture in a magazine six months ago. He’s got these stunning blue eyes that are sometimes like the ocean and sometimes like the sky and always more breathtaking than either, and bone structure that gives Harry butterflies. Of course, that might be due to the way that dream-Louis is taking Harry’s half-hard cock in his hand and teasing it with kisses at the base, gently coaxing. His hair is longer than normal, face a little scruffier, and Harry smiles at just how well his subconscious can take all of his favorite features on a man and roll them up into one phenomenal fantasy.
I’d like for you to kiss me now, Harry thinks to himself as he settles back onto the pillows. Since it’s my dream and all, I’d like a good morning kiss.
Much to his surprise, dream-Louis does not seem to follow orders. Instead he’s flattening his tongue and drawing it slowly up the underside of Harry’s cock, which makes Harry’s thigh twitch and his brow furrow. “What are you doing?”
Dream-Louis’ eyes fly up to meet his, one eyebrow raised and mouth arranged into his trademark little smirk. “Sucking your gorgeous cock to wake you up.”
“But I want a kiss,” Harry says in confusion. “I want you to kiss me.”
“Mm, never say no to that.” Dream-Louis crawls up his body and winds up straddling Harry’s thighs, leaning forward to press their lips together. Tongues collide a few seconds later and Harry discovers that dream-Louis tastes a bit like musk and morning breath, which is odd because normally Harry imagines him tasting like sugar and honey. The kiss is perfect, though, all sleepy sighs and gentle teeth teasing lips.
Meanwhile, one of dream-Louis’ hands trails down his torso, which is unsurprising given that real-Louis is notorious for having a rather one-track mind. While he resumes tugging loosely at Harry’s cock, his other hand is slipping between Harry’s head and the pillow, cradling the nape of his neck- tangling in the curls and tugging, hard.
Which is undeniably hot –there’s a tingle of blood redistributing and Harry is instantly at full mast –but it’s also pretty confusing because generally speaking when Harry’s dreams start getting deliciously rough it usually startles him awake. There’s still a Louis Tomlinson naked on top of him, which means he’ still dreaming, which makes Harry open his eyes again in confusion. Dream-Louis has his head tucked into Harry’s throat, leaving the slope of his back exposed, and Harry’s gaze trails over it hungrily.
“I don’t recognize that tattoo,” Harry blurts out, because he is very proud to have a complete knowledge of every single one of Louis Tomlinson’s tattoos and the dragon on his left shoulderblade is not part of the extensive list.
That actually gives dream-Louis pause, and he lets go of Harry to sit back up and twist around to look behind himself. “Which tattoo, this tattoo?” he asks, pointing to a little leaf on the back of his bicep. “Yeah, got that one yesterday, forgot to tell you. Like it?”
“No, not that one- well, yes, that one, but- wait a minute, you have a fuckton of tattoos.” Now that there’s space between them, Harry can look over all of the tan skin exposed to him and find countless tattoos that he’s never seen before. There are way too many tattoos, three times as many as there ought to be.
“You’re just now noticing?” dream-Louis says with a nervous sort of laugh, looking at Harry with his brow pulled together ever so slightly in confusion. “Your fault anyways, half of them are because of your obsession with couples’ tattoos.”
“Couples’ tattoos are a terrible idea, that’s too much commitment,” Harry says on instinct.
An eye roll. “I think that ship sailed ages ago, love. Guided by my compass, grounded by your anchor, held with my rope, etcetera etcetera.” He pokes Harry’s chest. “I’m not the one who put eyebrows on fucking birds, you sap.”
In the future when he looks back on this moment, Harry is never very proud of just how poorly he reacts to looking down at his body with full attention for the first time that morning and finding himself covered from collarbones to hipbones in tattoos.
“What the fuck is going on?” he blurts rather loudly, chest getting a little tight with anxiety. This is some weird-ass dream, because Harry doesn’t even like tattoos, he would never dream of getting a tattoo, let alone a body full of what appear to be matching couples’ tattoos with Louis Tomlinson. He takes one palm and runs it briskly over the opposite forearm, expecting the rose to fade away in that fuzzy sort of way bad things go away in good dreams, but when he pulls his hand back to look the ink is there just as surely. “Something isn’t right,” he murmurs, heart pounding as he gives the skin on the back of his hand a sharp pinch. Pain blooms and fades, and there’s still a man sitting on his lap looking at him in growing concern.
“Harry, are you alright?” Small hands wrap around Harry’s, pulling it away from where he continues to pinch himself. “Stop doing that. What’s going on? Are you alright?”
“Why aren’t I waking up?” Harry says breathlessly, scrubbing at his eyes with the back of his hand. “I should be waking up, I want to wake up-”
“You are awake, Harry!”
Harry fixes dream-Louis with a withering glare. “Right, because there’s any universe known to man in which Louis Tomlinson would be waking me up with a blowjob.”
There’s a long, awkward silence. Blue eyes search Harry’s face intently. “I’m sure you think you’re being really funny but honestly this is kind of freaking me out, Haz. I try to wake you up by fooling around like nine mornings out of ten. Normally you’re shoving me off because ‘not everyone wakes up like a loaded gun, Louis’ and ‘I’m trying to sleep, you twat.’” The teasing of his tone doesn’t match the seriousness on his face.
“I don’t understand,” Harry says softly. “What’s happening? Why –why?”
“Because I’m your husband, and I love you?”
Harry looks down to find a simple silver band on his finger, and a matching one on Louis’ where he’s clutching Harry’s hand still. There are three little diamonds in the top of his, nothing flashy at all, which is funny because this is exactly the kind of wedding ring he would have picked out for himself. Beautiful, and elegant. Just like Louis.
He looks up to say so, but (dream?-)Louis is climbing off of him with a frightened face. “Harry, I think you’re ill. We need to take you to the hospital, yeah? They’ll bump you front of the queue, you’ll be alright in no time. I promise.” He’s digging through a laundry basket near the door, pulling on clothes as quick as he can. Apparently his vie for morning extracurricular activities has been forgotten. “Let me just call Zayn to pop over and watch the kids while we’re gone-”
“Yes, Harry, the kids. Our kids. Our son Oliver, our daughter Grace?” There’s heartbreak in his voice, and in every line of his beautiful face. “Get dressed, Harry, we need to go. Now.”
And Harry does get dressed, opening drawers on a dresser Louis points him to and finding clothes he’s never seen that fit a body that isn’t his. It’s too tall, all lanky and covered in lean muscle. His hands have to be seven times bigger than they ought to be, but they don’t fumble as he buttons buttons and zips zippers. He doesn’t wait for Louis to lead him to the car, however. He waits until Louis has wandered into a closet in search of shoes while he talks to someone on the phone making vague excuses about needing an emergency sitter and slips from the bedroom into the hallway. He wanders down the corridor, opening all the doors one by one and finding guest rooms and offices and closets and bathrooms until finally, he swings a door wide to find a room so glittery and purple it must star in every little girl’s dreams.
Then there’s the little dream herself, tucked in a pretty white crib and blinking up at him with sleepy blue eyes. She’s in that halfway state between baby and toddler, one hand playing with chocolate brown curls while the other clutches the blanket she’s kicked off sometime during the night. Her zip-up sleeper has cupcakes from top to toes, and her paci falls from her lips as she smiles widely at Harry. “Up?”
It’s like instinct, to reach into the crib and grab her beneath the arms –who could resist a face like that? As soon as she’s from the crib she curls into his shoulder, snuggling close until her face is pressed into the curve of his neck and little fingers curling around his chin. A soft string of nonsense falls from her lips and Harry finds himself humming in agreement to whatever story she’s telling in her sweet baby language, swaying at the hips and resting his cheek against the top of her head. It’s like instinct.
Louis is standing silently in the doorway. “She’s sixteen months. Yours, biologically, thus the curls. We found a surrogate who kind of looks like me, and she gave her the blue eyes. She has your dimples, too, when she gets to giggling. Don’t you, Gracie?” he coos when she hears his voice and lifts her head to smile at him.
Either Grace or Harry is bound to reply, but before either can start talking nonsense a little blonde head of hair appears by Louis’ hip. It’s a young boy, in a sleep shirt that comes down to his skinned-up, knobby knees, and he’s leaning against Louis sleepily. He’s got dark brown eyes that are full of energy even if his body isn’t yet. “Dad, will you make us pancakes for breakfast?”
The funny thing is, it isn’t Louis that he looks to for answer, it’s Harry. It’s Harry that he fixes his hopeful gaze on, as Louis cards through his messy locks almost absentmindedly. “Five years old,” the man says quietly. “Adopted. Already kicks your butt at footie.”
If the boy –Oliver –thinks it’s weird to hear one father announcing him to the other, he doesn’t comment. “Please, Dad?” he asks again. “With chocolate chips?”
“I- I can make you pancakes, yeah,” Harry says dazedly. “With chocolate chips.”
“Actually,” Louis cuts in apologetically, “he can’t this morning. Dad and I have a doctor’s appointment we need to go to, but Zayner’s gonna come over and I bet if you ask him nicely he’ll take you guys out for breakfast, yeah?”
“But Papa, Dad’s pancakes are better than-”
“I know, bud, can’t be helped though. We’ll make sure you don’t die of pancake deprivation, I promise. Go get dressed, okay? And brush your hair and teeth, no shortcuts.” Louis ruffles the boy’s hair some more and nudges him until he’s no longer leaning into Louis’ hip. “Take Gracie with you for now, let her play in your room till Zayn’s here. Shouldn’t be but a couple of minutes.”
Oliver groans but assents, holding his hand out to Grace until she wiggles to be put down so she can go to him. Harry keeps looking back and forth between the toddler on his hip and the little boy across the room, waiting for one or both of them to fizzle and dissolve and disappear. They don’t, though, is the thing. The longer Harry looks, he just sees more and more detail. He sees the milk crusted on Grace’s lip from her nighttime bottle, and the way that Oliver’s shirt is vintage Louis Tomlinson merchandise. He sees the picture that’s framed on the wall, of these same four faces beaming at the camera with the kind of love and peace in their eyes that only comes from being part of a happy family.
That’s how Harry knows, with a sinking feeling of disbelief in his stomach, that something is wrong. Because something as beautiful as this little family isn’t the kind of thing Harry could ever imagine, not even in his wildest dreams. He couldn’t dream this. It’s real, and he’s somehow just woken up in a world where it’s true without remembering a thing.
Yes, he thinks as he sets Grace down and watches her toddle over to her brother, something is very wrong here. Horribly, horribly wrong.
He starts to notice the details more when he gets home from the hospital. How the house is enormous and lavish yet not gaudy, and how the walls are covered with pictures of the four of them with friends and family. He notices the way that the shelf full of Louis’ countless awards is crowded even more with baby toys and footballs, like layers of complexity to this home. Celebrity and domesticity. Public and private. Extraordinary and delightfully ordinary.
Organic retrograde amnesia. That’s what the doctor says, spurred to quick service by the wad of bills Louis very unsubtly tosses to her. The words don’t mean much to either man, but to the doctor they mean memory loss for anywhere from hours to years prior to some sort of physical trauma that causes damage to the brain. Brain scans. Looks like a seizure sometime in the last twelve hours, cause unknown. Not always big and disruptive, she explains when Louis protests that he’s been by Harry’s side for the last twelve hours. Can happen in your sleep.
A seizure in his sleep, not even big enough to wake a man sleeping beside him, and just like that seven years of Harry’s life are gone. Apparently he’s not seventeen, he’s twenty-four. Married. Two kids. Lover of tattoos and indie music.
Louis –the actual, real, not-a-dream, honest-to-goodness Louis Tomlinson –keeps looking at him with sad, gentle eyes. “We met when you were eighteen,” Louis explains when they’re back at the house, sat up on a second-floor balcony overlooking the backyard, watching Gucci model (and best friend of Louis Tomlinson, apparently) Zayn Malik chase their kids around in the September leaves. Louis has a cigarette hanging from his lips and three smoked down to the filter snubbed out in the ashtray. “You came to one of my concerts, paid some ridiculous sum of money for backstage passes and a meet and greet. You didn’t even introduce yourself at first, just told me I’d look really hot if I grew my hair out.”
“I actually told you that?” Harry says in awe. He can’t conceive of it. Even now he’s got butterflies in his stomach, sitting across from his idol so casually draped across a deck chair in sweat pants and a cotton tee shirt. “I can’t believe I was even brave enough to talk to you, let alone tell you- that.”
“You were so nervous, it took you a month before I could hold your hand without sending you into near cardiac arrest,” smirks Louis. “You’d had a few drinks that day, though, to steel your nerves. Caught my attention sure enough. I asked you if that meant I wasn’t hot already.”
“And what did I say? ‘Hell no,’ I hope.”
Louis’ grin just widened even more. “You said, ‘You’ll do. I’d let you take me out, probably.’ And then you stole the sharpie I was signing autographs with and wrote your number on my arm.” He holds out his left forearm to Harry, pointing to a crooked line of ink that says you’ll do. “Right there. Couldn’t exactly get your phone number tattooed on me, but I figured this was close enough.”
“But you’re more than- you’re more than just passably adequate, though,” Harry chokes out. “Oh my god, I can’t believe I said that to you. I can’t believe that worked.”
“That’s exactly why it worked,” Louis laughs. “I had tens of millions of people telling me I was perfection every day. You actually made me feel like I had something to prove. You made me want to actually work to win you over. Even if you were back to your blushing self the next night when I took you out, you were still something I felt like I had to work hard to deserve. Still are.”
It’s dizzyingly strange to hear Louis telling him the story, their story –almost as strange as looking down to find Louis’ fingertips grazing his arm in a gentle, absentminded caress. It’s almost too much, because he went to bed seventeen in Cheshire and woke up twenty-four in London and here’s the man of his dreams looking over at him with unadulterated love in his eyes. It’s enough to make his head spin, almost enough to make him need to pull his arm away. He doesn’t.
Instead he clears his throat, trying to think past the feel of Louis’ skin on his. “And we- how long have we been married?”
“About four years,” Louis replies softly. “We were twenty and twenty-two. Didn’t take long to get around to that, we were both so gone for each other from the get-go. Adopted Oliver a year later, he was about as old as Grace is now. You were begging for a baby from day one.” Louis’ grin is wide and endeared. “Always been such a bloody fantastic father.”
“Grace, you said she’s- that I’m her biological father?”
Louis nods, grinding out cigarette number four. He doesn’t shake another from the pack this time. “We wanted to do a surrogate, so the baby would be a little more ours. Not that Oliver isn’t ours, of course, but- you know what I mean. Anyways, flipped a coin for who’d have the first go as daddy, and you won. We’ve been talking recently about having another, finding a surrogate who looks like you and using my sperm this time.” There’s a pause. Louis plays with the pack of cigarettes, then puts it on the table and pushes it away. “You hate when I smoke.”
“It smells gross,” Harry offers at once.
“God, you are seventeen,” laughs Louis, eyes crinkled shut even if his smile is a little sad. “That’s what you used to tell me. Now you fuss at me because it’ll ruin my career and orphan our children, apparently. You know that’s the only thing we’ve ever fought about in six years together?”
Somehow this is believable to Harry. He can’t imagine ever wanting to fight with someone who makes him feel so fluttery and fond. “We’re good together.” It isn’t a question.
“We’re perfect, really,” Louis murmurs. “Never fought about money, got way too much of that. Always been on the same page about the kids, too. I guess you fuss at me sometimes for being too messy, but you don’t mean it. The media stresses us out sometimes, but we aren’t mad at each other so it doesn’t count,” he adds as an afterthought.
Louis doesn’t answer, just points out to the tree line where something’s been glimmering in the sun for the past twenty minutes. “Case in point. There’s a pap out there, I’m fairly certain. They always come around when we’ve been spotted out and about.”
“Aren’t you- aren’t you going to call the police or something?” Harry asks, agog. “They can’t do that, it’s a total invasion of your privacy-”
“Our privacy.” Louis shrugs. “It’s an awful lot of trouble to go to when it doesn’t change a thing. The cops will come and throw him out and he’ll be back again tomorrow, probably. Best just to let it be. The more pictures they get the more the value drops anyways, and they’re less motivated to come after us. Plus Liam loves it when cute, domestic stuff like this gets circulated anyways.”
“Liam, that’s your- isn’t he one of the guys on your publicity team?”
“He’s my agent now, actually. Gave him a promotion so he and Nialler could afford to live right around the corner from us.”
Harry sits up straighter, eyes wide. “Nialler- you know Niall? He’s the one who introduced me to your music, he’s my best friend-”
“Of course I know Nialler, he was your best man at our wedding,” Louis grins, enjoying the way Harry’s face is all lit up with this familiar piece of the puzzle. “He and Liam are married now, too. I set them up because I’m the best matchmaker on the planet and I actually missed my calling. They’re the kids’ godparents, even. I can call him, see if he can come over, if you’d like,” he adds kindly.
“Please?” Harry asks, eyes wide and hopeful as he looks up at Louis. “I don’t recognize hardly anything, but Niall- I just want to see something familiar.”
Louis swallows heavily and nods, a sad sort of smile on his face. “Of course. This has to be so confusing for you, I can’t even imagine. I’ll go call him, sit tight.” He stands and makes his way around the table, glancing out over the yard once more before leaning in and pressing his mouth to Harry’s.
He does it without thinking, because it’s been six years since he’s left a room with Harry in it without kissing him goodbye first, and because there’s some automatic function in his brain telling him that the hours that have passed since the last time he kissed Harry are too many. He isn’t really thinking too much about it, until Harry’s tensing up beneath his kiss and freezing in shock, not even daring to breathe until Louis pulls back with a frown.
“S-sorry,” Harry stutters nervously. “I just- I wasn’t expecting you to- ‘cause like, you’re you and I’m me and we don’t even know each other-”
Louis cuts him off with a shake of his head. “No, that’s my fault. I wasn’t thinking. I can’t even imagine where your head’s at, of course you need space. Like you said, you don’t even know me. I’ll- I’ll back off, okay? You can have all the space you need, I promise.”
Harry wants to tell him that’s all wrong, that Harry doesn’t want space but rather to occupy the same space as Louis, it’s just that he doesn’t know how to do any of this. He hasn’t had six years to learn to love Louis in this familiar way, to learn to be a father and a husband and even just a grown man. He wants to tell Louis to come closer, to kiss him until those features lose their pained sort of worry, but he doesn’t know how to. Instead he nods once, quietly. “Thank you.”
“There’s a guest room you can use if you’re more comfortable,” Louis continues after a pause. “Not that you have to stay here. I mean, you can leave if you want. Not that I want you to leave, obviously, but like if you don’t want to be here you could go back home and visit your mum while you wait for your memory to come back.”
And there it is, the giant elephant in the room: Harry’s memory and its pending return. According to the doctor, there isn’t much science to these sorts of things. Sometimes the memories come back, sometimes they don’t. It depends on whether the brain can repair itself and access the memories again. It isn’t like psychogenic amnesia, she explained, where with enough therapy you can coax memories back out of your subconscious. This is all up to Harry’s body, his brain. Maybe someday, she had shrugged. Maybe not.
Maybe it hasn’t settled over either of them yet, the idea that seven years of Harry’s life are gone and they might not ever come back. Harry still half expects to shake awake and find himself in a twin bed in Cheshire. Louis still looks like he’s hoping Harry will wake up tomorrow and be back to normal. Neither really expects it to happen, but neither knows how to accept that this, this twilight zone on the balcony in the midday sun, is their reality now.
“What are we gonna do, Louis?” Harry asks softly, and Louis doesn’t have to ask what he means. The other man sighs and leans against the railing of the balcony, passing a hand over his eyes in exhaustion. For a long minute it seems like he might not speak.
“I have no idea,” he finally answers. “I don’t know how I’m supposed to act, even. I look at you and you’re the same man that I was madly in love with yesterday, but you don’t see me that way. I’m still a rockstar to you, not your husband, not the father of your children. I’m so frustrated, because they’re telling me there’s nothing that I can do, nothing at all to make you remember me again. Or any of this.” He gestures around them, at the house, at the kids playing in the yard, at the two of them. “I don’t mean to –I don’t want you to think that I’m frustrated with you, because none of this is your fault. I’m just frustrated in general. I’ve been awake for six hours today and in the space of it, I’ve lost my husband.”
The words stop tumbling out of Louis and he buries his face in his hands, breathing ragged. Harry feels a sharp pang in his chest that might be his heart breaking. “I don’t want to go back to Cheshire,” he blurts out. “I want to stay here. I can sleep in the guest room, maybe it’ll spark my memory or something to be around my regular life. And I- just because I can’t remember things right now doesn’t mean I don’t mean something to you anymore, or to those kids.” He swallows the knot of anxiety cutting off his air. “You guys still need me.”
“You don’t have to do this,” counters Louis, lifting his head to look at Harry. “I don’t want you to feel pressured just because I want you here, or just because the kids are here. You have to take care of yourself, number one priority, so if you can’t be here, or you don’t want to-”
“I want to. I promise you, I want to.” Harry rises and moves to stand in front of Louis, wiping sweaty palms on his unfamiliar jeans. “This life- my life, our life… it isn’t something that I remember, but it’s beautiful. It’s incredible. I don’t know what’s going to happen or if things will ever be normal for me but if I have the opportunity to live this life, then I’m living a dream. I have a gorgeous husband-” he fumbles over the word “-and two sweet kids and I just- this is worth fighting for. I want to remember, because I want this life. Is that- is that okay?”
Louis’ eyes are a little mistier than he’d probably like to admit. “Of course that’s alright. You’re everything to me, Haz, we’re gonna do whatever it takes to keep us together, okay?”
“Thank you,” Harry whispers.
“Can I have a hug?” asks Louis miserably. “You can say no if you’re not comfortable, I just-”
He never gets around to making his case, because Harry’s already wrapping his arms around Louis and squeezing tightly. The fit of his arms around Louis’ narrow shoulders is new to him, as new as the warmth of Louis’ embrace at his waist, but it isn’t bad. It still makes his heart skip a few beats to be able to feel all of Louis’ edges, to gauge the space he takes up by touch, to measure the steady in and out of the breath of a man who he only knows through the medium of magazines and TV screens. It’s new, but it’s something he could get used to.
Louis doesn’t say a word the entire time he’s helping Harry move into the spare room. He looks like maybe he wants to, as he points out which sections of the closets and dressers belong to Harry and helps him load all of his belongings up into laundry baskets for the trip down the stairs. It isn’t until Harry mutters a slightly uncomfortable, “Are you sure you’re okay?” that Louis gives a tight smile and nods.
“I’m just happy you’re not moving out entirely,” he says quietly. “I completely understand if you need to, I just- I don’t remember how to go about life without you glued to me, to be honest. Plus every time you visit your mum without me, the kids wind up eating Nando’s for every meal.”
Harry does at least call his mom, half because she ought to know that her son has lost a chunk of his life and half because –aside from Niall –family is the only recognizable thing in this strange new world he’s woken up in. She sounds a bit faint and asks several times if he’s positive that he doesn’t need her to come visit, which is better than Niall’s reaction (who’d needed six pints before he’d believe that this was not some new extraordinarily complex level of practical jokes on Louis’ part) but not nearly as good as Zayn’s (who’d blinked at them in surprise a few times and then calmly extended a hand to Harry in re-introduction).
After some debate they attempt to explain things to Oliver, mostly because he starts to look offended every time Harry listens to his stories about kids at school with a mildly panicked confusion instead of already knowing that Jason is the kid who tried to steal his lunchbox and is a teacher’s pet. “Dad’s been having some trouble remembering things lately,” Louis says gently one night at dinner, a few days after the hospital visit. “We just have to be patient with him, and give him reminders when he needs them.”
“What kinds of things are you forgetting, Dad?” asks Oliver thoughtfully, pushing some peas around with his fork. “You didn’t forget how to make pancakes, did you?”
A grin lifts up one corner of Harry’s mouth. “No, I remember that. I just forget… all kinds of stuff. This and that.” The fact that you or your sister or your Papa existed.
“It’s kind of like how sometimes you forget to brush your teeth, and Dad and I have to remind you so that you can do it, yeah? Sometimes we might have to remind Dad about stuff, too, and not be cross with him because we know he’s trying his best.”
Oliver nods very seriously. “It’s alright, Dad, we’ll make you flash cards. They’re really good for math and stuff.”
It makes a little bubble of warmth appear in the center of Harry’s chest, to watch Louis in all of his punk rockstar glamor be so patient and kind with his son –with their son. But then again, that’s really how Louis seems to be the whole of the time when he’s around his family; he’s never anything but supportive and sweet, no matter how much Harry struggles to find his footing.
Relearning your entire adult life, as it turns out, is incredibly difficult. He still has the skills he learned over the years even if he can’t remember how he learned them –that’s procedural knowledge, the doctor explains, different than episodic memory –so it isn’t that he can’t slip back into his old life. It’s just that he’s forgotten how to be used to it. He can still change Grace’s diaper in thirty seconds flat, it just continues to catch him off guard every time she shows off her dimples. He can throw a ball to Oliver well enough, he’s just still mesmerized by the way the boy is so full of frantically excited energy every time he catches it.
Learning to be a father is the easiest part, though, probably due at least in part to the way that Harry’s always felt like he was born to be one. The hard part, as it turns out, is Louis.
It’s Louis who’s mucking this whole process up, who’s making it hard for him to find some semblance of normalcy. He rolls out of bed looking like a Greek god and making Harry feel a little faint, then proceeds to walk around the house in sweats that hang low on his hips and a devil-may-care attitude. It’s Louis who keeps putting a hand on the small of Harry’s back when he passes and letting their hands brush when he passes the spaghetti and sending Harry into goddamn cardiac arrest at every turn.
Harry should probably start thinking about Louis in terms of ‘husband’ and ‘co-parent,’ he knows. That’s certainly how Louis looks at him –a partner, even if a partner who’s a little distant and faded and forgetting. He still looks at Harry with six years of love and mountains of hope for recovery, which is fine except for the fact that when Harry looks back at him he sees Louis-rockstar, Louis-celebrity, Louis-god, Louis-untouchable. He can’t get used to the way Louis looks at him because he can’t get used to looking at Louis in the first place.
It comes with time, though, the familiarity. Fall turns into winter, Oliver starts bringing holiday crafts home from school and Grace’s tights have candy canes on them instead of candy corn. Harry knows every single one of Oliver’s friends and what foods to hide Grace’s vegetables under so that she’ll accidentally eat them. Sometimes he and Louis can sit side by side with their arms and legs touching and watch an entire movie without Harry feeling like he’s going to combust.
At least, not because he’s starstruck.
There’s a different type of combustion hovering beneath the surface of Harry’s skin. It’s just that Louis sometimes looks at him with this kind of hunger, this heavy, glazed sort of expression where he’s miles away, and then he’ll draw in a ragged breath and glance away before Harry can pin down exactly what’s going on in that beautiful mind. Not that he really needs confirmation, anyways. There’s enough of an answer in the slight stiffness in Louis’ walk for a few minutes afterwards and the flush of his chest beneath his tee shirts.
(Harry’s still a little lost about how just the sight of him can get Louis so worked up, but then again, it’s incredibly mutual. And if he takes the idea of Louis flushed and wanting him straight to the spank bank and cashes it in a couple times a week for a quiet orgasm and a grunt of Louis’ name, he won’t allow himself to feel ashamed about it. A man is entitled to wank to the thought of his dream guy in the privacy of his own home. That isn’t unreasonable. Even if said dream guy is right down the hall.)
“Why do you and Papa sleep in different rooms now?” Oliver asks sometime in early December. He’s finishing up some maths homework at the kitchen table while Harry supervises Grace’s attempt to spear macaroni with her baby fork and get it all the way into her mouth. “Are you angry with each other?”
Harry’s heart skips several beats and then thuds uncomfortably at the quiet fear in the little boy’s voice. “No, of course not, bud, we’re not angry with each other. We’re just –well, we’re –” He suddenly wishes desperately that Louis had chosen some other day to return to work recording at the studio. He deserves at least half of the hardship of trying to explain the unexplainable to a five year-old. “We just wanted to have our own rooms for a while, that’s all,” he finishes lamely.
There’s a long pause as Oliver mulls this over, always thoughtful and calculating beyond his years. “My friend Amy, her mom and dad started fighting a lot and they have different bedrooms. Amy says they’re getting vidorced. Are you and Papa gonna get vidorced? Because Amy is really sad, and I don’t want to be as sad as her.”
If there’s a slightly muffled cracking sound in the room, it’s probably just the audio of Harry’s heart breaking into two aching chunks. Half of his heart hurts because his son is looking at him with wide, fearful eyes, and he might have only been a father for a short time that he can remember but already he’s desperate to remove that fear from Oliver’s eyes. The other half aches because as much as he wants to be able to assure that innocent boy that his family will stay intact, one father can’t remember his past and the other is banking on the future and Harry can’t pretend to know whether there’s a happily ever after ahead for them or an ending engulfed in flames.
Instead of trying to explain any of that, Harry reaches over and tugs Oliver into a tight hug, ruffling his eternally messy blond hair. “Your Papa and I love you and your sister more than anything else on the planet, you know that?” he says honestly. “And we are always going to do everything humanly possible to make sure you guys are happy and healthy. I promise. Okay?”
Oliver doesn’t seem to notice the non-answer, just nuzzles into the neckline of Harry’s sweater and stays there until Grace throws her plate on the floor with a very Louis-like expression of smug defiance and Harry’s back on duty.
It’s late by the time Louis gets home from the studio, late enough that both kids are sound asleep, so Harry keeps his voice down when he ambushes Louis just inside the door. “I think I should move back into the master suite.”
“Absolutely you should,” Louis answers without hesitation. “What brings that up?” he says after another moment of processing. “I mean –fuck, I’m absolutely on board with that plan, but why now? What changed your mind?”
Harry studies the floor tiles in the entryway very intently, scuffing at them with the toe of his shoe. “Oliver asked me today if we were going to get a divorce.”
He looks up just in time to watch all of the blood drain from Louis’ face. “And what did you tell him?”
“That we love him and Grace more than anything, and they’re our first priority.”
“That’s true enough,” Louis says quietly, nodding to himself. He hangs his coat up on the hook methodically, then sort of lets his hands drop like he’s unsure of what to do. Eventually he clears his throat. “I’d like for our marriage to be a top priority too. I know this is weird for you, but you’re my husband, Harry, and honestly I’m terrified of losing you.”
“I know, and I’m trying, I-”
“Of course you are, I know that you are,” Louis interrupts, capturing Harry’s left hand between his own. “I don’t blame you at all. It’s just a shitty situation and it’s no one’s fault. I just want to say for the record that us, this marriage, is everything to me.” He presses a kiss to Harry’s knuckle, right overtop his wedding ring. “You’re my husband and I’m going to be here for you and love you unconditionally no matter how hard things are. Okay? You’re my priority, too.”
Harry’s knees wobble ever so slightly, but his nod is sure. “Let’s go to bed.”
It’s odd to be in this room again, to be climbing into a bed with Louis on the other side of it, probably because the last time they were together in this bed Louis was attempting to seduce him and Harry was trying to figure out why he was getting off on Louis’ touches instead of startling awake. No, Harry tells himself sternly, don’t think about it.You’re here to salvage a marriage and a family, not to get off.
His moan is anything but chaste, however, when he settles down onto this mattress. “This bed is so much softer than the guest bed,” he sighs in contentment. “What kind of bed is this? Jesus. I might actually get some proper sleep tonight.”
“Have you not been sleeping well?” Louis asks in instant concern. “What’s the matter?”
“I dunno, I’ve just been kind of –restless. Like I’m tired but I can’t settle in. It feels like I’m resting but I’m not properly asleep, if that makes sense?” Harry shrugs. “Not really sure why my body’s doing that, but –what are you smirking at?”
Louis only hesitates before answering with a tiny smile. “It’s because you’re sleeping alone.”
“What’s that got to do with it?” Harry asks in confusion. “I always sleep alone, always have- oh.”
“Just because you don’t remember sleeping next to me for the last six years doesn’t mean it didn’t happen,” Louis grins. “Your body remembers stuff your brain doesn’t, like that fact that you’re so used to sleeping next to me that I can’t even leave you behind when I go on tour. I can only leave you for a few nights at a time or else you’ll get all run-down and poorly from missing me. It’s adorable, and apparently it’s permanent. You have an incurable need to be cuddled.”
“Well shit, if I’d known all I needed was a cuddle I would have asked to move back in weeks ago,” Harry mumbles. “Do you know how much tea I’m drinking every day to make up for my lack of sleep? It’s obscene.”
“Lucky for you I like obscene,” comes Louis’ retort. He opens his arms wide and beckons Harry closer. “Well cuddle in, then, let’s get you some proper sleep.”
Harry’s smile grows. “Roll over on your side, let me spoon you.”
“What’s this? Harry Styles wants to be the big spoon?”
“Don’t be ridiculous, of course I’m the big spoon,” Harry scoffs. “Look at you, you’re tiny. If we’re both supposed to be spoons and one of us is big and the other little, I’m definitely the bigger spoon. You can’t argue with science, Lou.”
Louis raises one delicate, unconvinced eyebrow. “Yes, I’m sure I’ve misremembered several thousand nights spent together. Silly me. Have it your way, Harold,” he announces at last, rolling onto his side facing the edge of the bed so that Harry can flick off the bedside light and curve himself around Louis.
It probably only takes Harry about five minutes to realize that the big spoon position is not for him, but he doesn’t say a word. Louis smirks into the dark as Harry scratches his nose and repositions his legs and otherwise does not fall asleep. As time wears on his wiggling gets more and more insistent, his arm tightening around Louis’ waist and his hips pushing forward into Louis’ bum- oh.
Maybe it isn’t the ineffective cuddling position that has Harry rooching around like that, because when his hips push forward enough to meet Louis’ body there’s a clear hardness in his boxers that has Louis’ eyes flying open in surprise. Not that cuddling escalating into more was out of the ordinary for them –hell, over the course of their marriage a solid half of their cuddles had turned into more –but for it to be happening now, with Harry still a relative stranger-
“Sorry,” Harry says miserably when he feels Louis’ body tense up, scooting back so that they aren’t touching anymore. “I didn’t mean to –I –sorry.”
“Nah, don’t worry about it,” Louis says with a clear of his throat, trying to sound as casual as possible in this very un-casual situation. “You said you wanted proper sleep, right? Okay, so turn around and let me spoon you.”
Harry obeys, grudgingly, rolling over and lying still as Louis slings an arm over him. He gives it a go for a few minutes before heaving a sigh. “I can feel how tense you are, Louis. You don’t have to do this.”
Louis gives a frustrated huff of laughter. “Holding you while you sleep is not a hardship, Harry. I’m just tense because –well, quite frankly, it goes against my instincts to feel you getting hard and not do anything about it. Okay? I’m only tense because behaving myself doesn’t exactly come first nature to me.”
A long, heavy pause. “What if you didn’t?”
Louis’ breath catches. He can feel the thud of Harry’s heart beneath the palm of his hand where it rests on the younger man’s tee shirt. “Are you- what are you saying? That you want me to help you out with that?”
“I just think that if you want me, and I want you, what’s to stop us?” Harry swallows thickly. “Just because things aren’t the same between us anymore doesn’t mean we’re- well we’re something, aren’t we?” He turns until he can see Louis in the dim light from the windows.
“Yeah,” Louis says quietly, “we’re something.”
Harry might have something more prepared in his speech to convince Louis, but it’s lost when Louis leans in and kisses Harry gently over his shoulder. At first his lips are barely there, like a suggestion, like he isn’t sure Harry will want it, but then Harry wriggles until he’s on his back and cups the back of Louis’ neck with his hand to pull him closer and parts his lips and Louis gives one shuddering exhale, moves to kneel over Harry, and starts to lose himself to the kiss.
“You have no idea how much I’ve missed this,” Louis murmurs a little unsteady after their lips have been sliding against one another for a few long minutes. “I don’t mean to sound like a sex fiend or anything, like obviously I love doing other things with you just as much, but I just –I just love kissing you. I love touching you. Making you feel good…” He lets the hand that isn’t supporting his weight drift from Harry’s waist to the front of his boxers, running the heel of his palm gently but firmly from the base of Harry’s half-hard length up to the tip.
There’s a sharp inhale and then a whining sort of moan as Harry’s eyes drift shut, then he brings a hand up to cover his mouth. “Sorry, sorry,” he says, the words muffled by his palm. “I can be quiet, I promise I can be quiet.”
“Why on earth would you do that?” Louis grins. “Be as loud as you want. Missed the noises you make, too.”
“But the kids, they’re sleeping-”
“You’re kidding, right? Harry, we built this house ourselves. This bedroom has better soundproofing than most professional recording studios.” He leans in to kiss Harry once more, full of teasing and want as he feels Harry’s body responding to him eagerly now. “So seriously, be as loud as you want.”
Louis waits until Harry’s fully hard and squirming underneath him to actually push his boxers down beneath the swell of his bum and wrap his hand around Harry’s cock. Suddenly there’s a hand in his hair yanking sharply, and Louis laughs even past the pain in his scalp. “Fuck if you aren’t seventeen again,” he pants, working Harry’s cock faster. “You act like you’ve never had a hand job before.”
“Haven’t,” Harry says weakly, trying to buck up into Louis’ hand. “Not that I can remember. Fuck, that feels- fucking shit.”
“Good to see your lack of memory hasn’t changed what your cock likes,” Louis grins, and it’s perhaps a little smugger than it ought to be. He can’t help himself, really; he’s spent six years studying how to make Harry moan, and the fact that he can be overcome by neither seven years of memory loss nor by several months of no sex is somehow just as flattering an accomplishment as any music award hanging on his wall.
It takes longer than Harry expects for him to yelp and dig his nails into Louis’ arm and come all over his stomach and Louis’ hand. He doesn’t get a chance to catch his breath before Louis is leaning in and kissing the air right out of him in a desperate crush. “One of these days I’m going to take a picture of the face you make when you come,” Louis laughs in a half-gasp when he pulls back, “and put it as the background on my phone. You have no idea how fucking gorgeous you are.”
Eventually Harry has to bat Louis’ face away from his own so he can get some oxygen back into his system while Louis kisses his neck. “Lou, can I give you a blowjob?”
“I’d love for you to,” Louis says, stomach fluttering. “Won’t take much, I warn you. You’re –god I’ve missed this.”
“And yet you say you’re not a sex fiend,” Harry grins. “Okay, um, lie on your back?”
Louis obeys. “Liking sex just makes me a healthy young male. Missing having lots of sex with my ungodly attractive husband just makes me mortal. Are you sure about this?” he says seriously as he catches sight of the way that Harry’s sat back on his ankles looking suddenly a little anxious.
“What? No, I’m sure, I just… I’ve never really done this before,” Harry confesses with an awkward cough.
“Sure you have, loads of times,” answers Louis soothingly. “You still have your procedural memory or whatever, remember? You have nothing to be nervous about.”
Harry still looks a little dubious, but he nods. “Will you take all your clothes off?”
“Y-yeah, absolutely.” Louis’ sitting up and pulling his shirt over his head before he can even finish answering. “You know, in all our years together you never lost the look. That look,” he muses to himself, smiling up at Harry. “That look of hunger and admiration. I expected it to wear off after a bit, thought you’d stop thinking so much of me once I’d put a ring on it, but you’re still so fucking charmed.”
“How could I not be? Look at you!” Harry’s watching the boxers get pushed down Louis’ thighs with wide, glazed eyes, biting his lip as he reaches out to run a hand down Louis’ chest. “Fuck. I can’t believe I’m touching you and it isn’t a dream.”
“Feeling’s mutual,” Louis assures him as Harry wraps his hand around Louis’ cock. “Been doing lots of dreaming about you these past couple of months. Nowhere near as satisfying as the real thing.”
Harry gives him a few gentle strokes, kissing at Louis’ collarbones in fascination. “Am I alright, then? I’m good at making you feel good?”
“You’re phenomenal,” Louis tells him, and it isn’t an exaggeration. Harry hums like he might not believe him, but he still ducks down like he’s fearless to take Louis into his mouth. Louis’ eyes flutter shut and it’s all he can do not to grab Harry by the hair, after so many months of only dreaming about the sensation of Harry’s hot mouth on him. He’s a godsend, really, an angel come specifically to reward Louis for some unfathomably good deed, because even though Harry’s hands shake from nervousness he’s still practiced and tantalizing in the way he bobs his head along Louis’ length.
The hand of Harry’s that isn’t wrapped around the base of Louis’ cock comes up to rest on the magnolia tattoo gracing Louis’ side, and Louis laces their fingers together and holds on for dear life. “Can you take me deeper?” he pants hopefully, keeping his hips still with an extraordinary amount of effort. “Fuck, Haz, need- yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah!”
His pleas turn incoherent as Harry pushes down further, nudging the tip of Louis’ cock until it hits the back of his throat. He doesn’t even gag, just hums a little in surprise at the sensation and pulls back only to do it again. Louis’ back arches a little, unintelligible swears hissing out from between his lips, and he reaches down to grab a handful of curls and pull Harry off a little bit before he comes in his mouth with a moan.
Now Harry does splutter, pulling off of Louis with a cough and covering his mouth with one hand and tears in his eyes. Louis is upright at once. “Shit, fuck, I’m so sorry,” he says miserably, before repeating the apology about a hundred more times as he brushed Harry’s curls back from his face. “Are you alright? I’m so sorry. I guess I should have thought about the fact that just because you remember how to suck a dick doesn’t mean you’ll remember how to tell when I’m about to come. Fuck, sorry.”
“It’s okay,” Harry says, hoarse but honest. “It wasn’t bad, just- just caught me by surprise, is all. “He’s got a debauched grin on his face that confirms it as he wipes a splatter of white from his chin, looks at it thoughtfully, and then sucks it into his mouth. “I thought cum was supposed to taste terrible?”
“It does,” Louis smirks, “unless you have a husband who force-feeds you health food.”
Harry just smiles a little shyly for someone who looks so wrecked. “I’m, um, gonna go clean up,” he mumbles, gesturing at the mess on his shirt and at the corner of his mouth. “You need anything?”
“I’m perfect, thanks,” Louis sighs in contentment, watching Harry rise and stumble to the bathroom. Absolutely perfect.
When he returns, Harry is scrubbed clean and naked from head to toe. “I don’t still have to sleep with clothes on, right? Now that we’re doing, like, stuff? Because sleeping naked is way better.”
“Sleep however you like,” Louis chuckles. “C’mere, be my little spoon. Unless you’d like to pretend some more that I can’t be big spoon because I’m three inches shorter than you? Yeah, I thought not.” Harry lays down in front of him and this time they both exhale a sigh of relief. “So does this mean you want to do more …stuff? If it was just a one-off because you were horny I’m willing to just count my blessings and leave it be, but.”
“No, stuff is okay. Stuff is good,” Harry answers abashedly. “I’d like to do more stuff with you.”
“I’m glad,” Louis says with a smile and a little squeeze to Harry’s waist. “I like doing stuff with you.”
There’s a long pause as Louis starts to drift towards sleep and Harry apparently gets lost in his thoughts. “It’s weird, that there are all these things that I know how to do, and that you know about me, but I can’t remember them,” he says out of nowhere, tugging Louis from his doze. “It’s not even like starting off fresh, it’s not like a blank slate, it’s like there’s a part of me that’s shut away and I can’t get to it no matter how hard I try.” Harry frowns. “I don’t like feeling like I’m missing out on the joke. Makes me feel like I am the joke.”
“Hey, you’re not a joke,” Louis hushes him, nuzzling into his shoulder. “I don’t really know what to say. I mean obviously I can’t actually pretend to know what this feels like for you. But I know you’re still you. Your memories, they might be why you are the way you are, but they aren’t actually you. You’re still the man I love, even if you don’t remember quite how you got there.”
Harry is silent for a long moment. “Doesn’t it make you sad, that I’ve forgotten our whole life?”
“In some ways,” Louis answers carefully. “I’m sad on your behalf, mostly, because we’ve had a lot of beautiful moments together and I know that hearing about them isn’t the same as remembering them. And I worry, sometimes, that you won’t feel the same way about me. Because nothing’s changed for me, I still love you exactly the same way, but that isn’t the way it is for you. I know that.”
“I –I’m trying, I promise you I am,” Harry says hoarsely. “It’s still really new to me, it’s a lot to take in.”
“You can’t try to be in love with me, Hazza, nor should you. Either it’ll happen or it won’t, and that’s okay.” Louis closes his eyes and inhales deeply, breathing in the smell of Harry’s skin. “I’m not really that worried, yeah? We’re meant to be together, we always have been. Even if things are different, I believe that what’s meant to happen will happen, and everything will be alright. I have to believe that. Alright?”
Harry doesn’t answer, just settles into Louis’ embrace a little more and lets his eyes drift shut. Maybe it’s the orgasm, maybe it’s the soft bed, probably it’s the feel of Louis beside him, but Harry’s asleep in minutes.
It probably shouldn’t make any sense, but Harry thinks that he perhaps falls back in love with Louis a little more every time they touch.
If there’s one thing in this relationship that isn’t changed by the memory loss, it’s the sex. There’s this chemistry between them that doesn’t depend on what either of them can remember, it’s just pure and unparalleled physical connection. It’s like their bodies know each other even if their minds don’t, and every time their mouths meet or their hips brush it’s as if nothing’s ever changed.
Harry, as it turns out, has the sex drive of a teenager and the stamina of a fully-grown man. Louis, as it turns out, is so hopelessly gone for his husband that he still finds it in himself to respond with unbridled enthusiasm every time Harry comes to him with a shy whisper or a throaty plea. If they spend more of their free time than not panting into each other’s mouths, it can hardly be helped.
If you forget about the part where they’re married with two kids, it’s a little like they’re dating. They get to know each other, they dance around each other with blushes and smiles, they’re all over each other every chance they get. This feels normal, this feels like how a not-seventeen year-old can fall in love even if the reality of the situation is a little… unusual.
Louis isn’t even surprised when Harry comes up behind him when he’s sitting at his desk in the office and places a kiss to his cheek. Those casual little touches are everyday now, and nothing makes Louis happier. “Hey, babe,” he says fondly, tilting his head back to look at Harry.
Harry responds by leaning over and giving him a kiss. “Why are you working, Lou? It’s Christmas Eve. It’s your birthday. You aren’t supposed to work on your birthday.”
“It’s not real work, though, it’s just fan stuff,” Louis defends himself. “They’re all being so sweet, drawing me pictures and making me cards and stuff. It’s the least I can do to go through twitter and pay them some attention.”
“You’re so sweet,” Harry coos, planting himself right on Louis’ lap bridal style and wrapping his arms around Louis’ neck. “What if I want attention, though?”
“I’m sure that can be arranged,” Louis murmurs back with a kiss to Harry’s lips and a quickening of his pulse. “The kids?”
Harry nibbles at Louis’ lips, one hand playing with the hair at the nape of Louis’ neck ever so gently. “Grace just went down for a nap. Oliver’s watching Claymation Rudolph on the telly, which has a run time of 47 minutes, by the way. I Googled it. I figured that’s at least one orgasm apiece.”
“You’re filthy,” Louis groans. The kiss he gives Harry is filthier still, all tongue and enthusiasm as one hand works to unbuckle Harry’s jeans. He’s almost got them unfastened when Harry’s hand around his wrist makes him stop and pull back in confusion.
“Bedroom, please?” asks Harry shyly.
“You’re supposed to have me walk across the house before you’ve gotten me hard,” Louis sighs, dropping his head back against the headrest of his chair. “Are you sure the office won’t do? It’s a pretty big desk, you could lie back and I could blow you-”
“Well the thing is, I was sort of hoping that you could fuck me,” Harry says in an obscenely innocent whisper. “Seems like that might be more comfortable in a bed.”
Louis nearly shoves Harry off of his lap in his haste to stand up. “Y-yeah, bedroom sounds good.”
They manage to look decent for the thirty seconds it takes for them to slip down the hall in case any little eyes came to investigate, but mercifully they make it to the master suite without incident. Louis starts pulling off clothes with little concern for whose they are. “Sex fiend,” Harry accuses as he backs towards the bed.
“Minx,” Louis fires back. “You’re the one seducing me all the time. How do- you said you wanted me to fuck you?”
There’s an actual blush starting at Harry’s neck and creeping up towards his cheekbones. “Please. I mean I obviously don’t know what I’m doing, but I –I dunno, I just want this. I barely know you and I want you to fuck me. Is that wrong?”
Louis places his hands on the back of Harry’s thighs, just below his bum, and lifts him up just enough to plop Harry on the mattress, slotting himself between Harry’s legs where they dangle off the bed. “You barely know me and I want to fuck you. Is that wrong?”
Harry doesn’t give him an answer and Louis doesn’t wait for one, just placing his palm in the center of Harry’s chest and giving him a shove so that he tips back onto the mattress with a giggle and a bounce. He spares time to nibble at Harry’s belly button and give a kiss to his happy trail as he slides Harry’s unbuttoned trousers and his briefs down in one go. It’s a familiar scenario even in Harry’s short memory, except that now Louis drags a thumb down the underside of Harry’s cock and keeps going down until it skims across his hole, unexplored territory.
“Is rimming as nice as they say it is?” Harry asks while his cock starts to perk up a little more in excitement.
“Better. Wish I had more time than Claymation Rudolph to work with.”
“You’ve got like forty minutes left,” Harry frowns. “That’s plenty of time-“
Louis cuts him off with a stern look. “Harry, we made a lot of promises to each other when we got married, and one of them was my promise to never, ever give my husband a half-assed rim job. Pun intended. If I haven’t made you cry then I haven’t really done it properly, and you cannot rush that kind of mastery.”
That doesn’t stop him from giving Harry a playful wink and ducking down to swipe his tongue across Harry’s entrance once, though. Just to give him a taste. Just to give both of them a taste.
“You know,” Louis muses when he pulls back, filling up the slightly nervous silence as he reaches over to dig lube out of the bedside drawer, “you said you barely know me, but if you think about it, even if you cancel out the idea that we’ve known each other for six years, we have sort of been dating for a couple of months now. Not so odd to have sex after like four months, is it?”
He pauses to undress himself before climbing on the bed, and Harry takes the opportunity to shuck his shirt and scoot into the center of the mattress to lie on his back. “How long was it after we started dating the first time?”
Louis ducks his head and fixes his fringe with a laugh. “Nine months. Which you were furious about.”
“Nine- we can’t keep our hands off each other for nine hours now and yet when we were teenagers we waited nine months?”
“I was a rockstar, Harry, there were new rumors in the papers about who I was fucking every other day,” Louis groans, crawling over to kneel above Harry to nibble at his collarbones instead of making eye contact. “I didn’t want you to think that it was a typical rockstar-groupie hit and quit cliché. I was being a gentleman.”
He can’t see the endeared smile that crosses Harry’s face. “Well I’ve seen the marriage certificate and the adoption papers so you have me convinced. No need to be a gentleman.”
Louis takes the cue and drops his mouth from collarbones down to nipples, where he takes one of the nubs between his teeth and gives it a gentle nip. He doesn’t end his descent there, even if Harry’s startled yelp of pleasure is delicious. Instead, he lets his lips trail south across Harry’s skin until he can take the head of his cock into his mouth, exploring all the contours and the feel of it with his tongue. It’s meant to distract Harry from the sound of the lube bottle snicking open and the feel of slick fingers finding his hole, but he still feels Harry’s breath catch just before the first finger presses in.
For a moment Louis stills the action of his mouth so he can watch Harry’s expression, but by the time he’s up to second knuckle Harry’s placed a hand on the back of his neck, gently pushing down. “No, keep doing that, feels good.”
Bossy thing, aren’t we? Louis thinks, but he has better things to do with his mouth than say it aloud. He would much rather continue to bob his head on Harry’s cock while he works his finger in and out of Harry to open him up, since one sensation or the other is making Harry beautifully fidgety beneath him. Maybe the distraction is working better now or maybe there’s a part of Harry’s brain that remembers how to relax into this feeling, like muscle memory, but it doesn’t take long before Louis can add a second finger beside the first. Harry moans at that, and Louis stills the pumps of his wrist for a moment to concentrate on crooking his fingers instead-
“Oh, fuck yes,” Harry groans, his back arching at the sensation. This has the added benefit of pushing his cock further into Louis throat, and Louis doesn’t pull back from it. He keeps teasing with his fingers and letting Harry writhe between mouth and hand like he doesn’t know which feeling he wants to chase more. He’s gasping for air after thirty more seconds. “Louis, Louis please, want you to fuck me.”
“Let me give you one more finger,” Louis negotiates as he pulls off, already lining it up beside the others.
“Forget another finger, I’m ready now, you tease-”
“Excuse me young man, I happen to know that if I hit your spot and yank your hair at the same time you will instantly come, so I’d recommend being nice to me or I’ll end this right here!” Louis softens his threat by moving up to kiss Harry’s bite-swollen lips. “It’s been a while, just want to make sure I don’t hurt you, okay?” he murmurs.
Harry doesn’t protest any more after that, lets Louis open him up with one more finger until he’s relaxed and ready. Finally Louis withdraws his hand and wipes it clean, lining the head of his cock up at Harry’s entrance, but Harry’s hand pushing at his abdomen makes him stop at once and look up in concern. “What’s the matter, babe?”
The younger man is flushing a deep red already. “Um. Aren’t you going to use a condom?”
There’s five full seconds of stunned silence in which Louis stares at him in surprise before he starts to babble. “Right, shit, sorry, I just forgot ‘cause we –I mean we just never –”
“Sorry,” Harry mumbles, looking mortified. “I just thought that like, safety first or whatever, but if that’s too weird for you –”
Louis cuts him off with a kiss. “Absolutely not. You’re a hundred percent right. I didn’t even think about it, since it’s been a very long while since we’ve used them together. But absolutely, whatever makes you comfortable.”
“Are you sure?”
“Of course I’m sure. I mean, we’re dating again basically, right? You’re supposed to use condoms with boys you’ve only just started dating.” Louis winks at Harry and leans in to peck a kiss to his mouth. “Wait right here, I’ll be back in a jif, alright?”
Harry watches as Louis climbs off of him and walks gingerly to the bathroom, disappearing behind the door. For a minute there’s silence except for the sound of drawers opening and shutting, then Louis reappears and comes over to dig through the nightstand drawer. “I know we have some,” he assures Harry as he searches, though there’s a worried crease in his forehead. He checks beneath the bed and pops back up to take Harry’s hand and direct him to wrap it around his dick to start stroking himself off while Louis is preoccupied. “I’m positive we have some, just –just give me one minute, okay?”
He disappears back into the bathroom once more and again there comes the sound of drawers being rifled through, more frantically this time. Harry glances at the clock and is just about to suggest that Louis come back and try that hair pulling thing he was bragging about and they can run to the store for next time when Louis gives a cry of victory and emerges with a foil packet in hand. “Told you I was positive,” he says smugly, ripping it open as he climbs back on the bed. “Just had to do a little digging.”
The delay has done nothing to dull their enthusiasm, so Louis makes quick work of rolling the condom onto his length and leaning in to kiss Harry. “I’m ready,” the boy on the mattress murmurs up at him, one hand gentle on Louis’ waist. “I just want you inside of me. Please?”
And there’s no way that Louis can say no to that, after all. He lines himself up and presses slowly inside, feeling how Harry’s body tenses and eases in waves as he fights to relax for Louis. Eventually Louis bottoms out and Harry gives a shaky exhale, hands cupping Louis’ face and pulling him down for a deep, slow kiss. “Please,” he murmurs again.
Louis absolutely loves fucking Harry. He loves the way that Harry is always so tight around him, and how he’s terrible at holding still so every thrust is a new angle and a new experience. He loves how Harry moans when Louis is doing a good job and how he quits breathing altogether when Louis’ doing an even better job. He loves kissing Harry’s mouth when it’s too slack with pleasure to kiss back, he loves the way that Harry’s eyelashes look when they’re resting on cheekbones all pinked with a blush. He loves everything about it.
When he reaches between them to start pulling Harry off, it’s mostly because it would be rude of him to come first but he can already feel himself starting to get close. “I want you to come while I fuck you,” he whispers, relishing Harry’s resulting moan. “Can you do that for me?”
Harry nods mutely, hands tightening on the back of Louis’ neck. “Just keep doing exactly what you’re doing,” he pants. “Exactly like that.”
So Louis obeys, working his hand and his hips in perfect rhythm until Harry’s breath starts to hitch and his thighs quake. “’M gonna come, Louis,” he grunts in warning, fingernails digging into Louis’ skin. “’M gonna –”
He finishes before he can give second warning, cock jerking in Louis’ hand and shooting a few strings of white across his stomach and Louis’ palm. Louis releases him after a moment and pulls out, working the condom off of his length so he can fist his own cock in earnest. It takes less than a minute of stroking himself and kissing Harry’s breathless mouth for him to be coming too, adding his own cum to the mess on Harry’s stomach. “Shit,” Louis breathes as he finishes, dropping his forehead to Harry’s shoulder. Harry’s legs tighten around him, and it’s enough to make him whimper a little on an exhale as another aftershock runs up his spine.
Harry’s first to regain motor function, licking gently into Louis’ mouth until Louis comes awake and kisses back. “Missed that,” Louis finally finds it in himself to say. “Not sure if that’s appropriate to say, but I have missed that.”
“I’m not sure if it’s even possible,” Harry murmurs back, “but I think I have, too.”
Christmas morning begins with Oliver pounding on their (mercifully locked) bedroom door declaring that Santa has come and if his fathers do not get out of bed and come downstairs right this very minute he will positively die. The fathers obey and scramble to put on pajamas, opening the door to find Oliver bouncing off the walls in the hallway while Grace, who he has taken the liberty to free from her crib, giggles beside him. Louis scoops up Grace to hold her on his forearm like she’s flying, Harry kneels in offering of piggyback ride to Oliver, and it’s hard to tell who’s laughing the hardest as they all trample down the stairs together.
By the time presents are opened (which is a very long while because Harry’s unwillingness to spend Louis’ money is not something that survived the memory loss and that meant the kids now had two overly-indulgent fathers to spoil them), they’re running very late for the rest of the day’s plans, which involve a trip to Doncaster to spend the evening with Louis’ family. As a result Harry winds up installing batteries in Oliver’s new remote-controlled car while he cooks, watching with mild exasperation as Louis attempts to pin back Grace’s curls with little bow barrettes that don’t even match her Christmas dress.
It’s a miracle that they get out the door in a reasonable amount of time, let alone all the way to Doncaster without any major meltdowns, but they arrive at the door to the Tomlinson home in one piece all dressed up in their Christmas best, Harry with a baby on his hip and Louis leaning down to remind Oliver not to go wild just as the door swings wide.
“There are my loves!” exclaims the woman who answered, instantly hugged around the knees by Oliver. “How’s my favorite grandson, hmm? Louis, love, it’s so good to see you,” she says, straightening up once she’s released so that she can wrap her arms around Louis’ shoulders instead.
Louis pulls back and follows Oliver inside, and Harry finds himself getting tugged into an embrace next. “Hi, I’m Harry,” he says shyly, giving her back a ginger pat and then wincing to himself. “I mean- well obviously you know who I am –erm.”
The whole family had been informed of Harry’s condition, of course; no matter how fumbling and awkward his accidental introduction, he received only a kind smile in return. “I’m Johanna, or Mum, whichever you want, dear. You can call me whatever you like as long as you give me that sweet baby of yours,” she coos, pressing kisses to Grace’s cheeks and easing her from Harry’s arms even as she beckons them all inside the warm home.
The boys have already forged ahead, spreading hugs and kisses. Harry trails behind them a little slower, wiping sweaty hands on his trousers and trying not to look terrified and confused. “Like meeting the in-laws all over again, innit?” Louis says quietly when Harry catches up.
“Yeah, pretty much,” Harry mumbles with a blush. Everyone’s looking at him curiously, so he waves a little. “Hi everyone. Let’s see… you’re Charlotte, and you’re Felicite, and you two are Pheobe and –Daisy? Is that right?” He goes around the room, digging names out of the back of his mind with great difficulty.
“That’s right,” Charlotte answers with a grin. “Mum can barely keep us straight herself sometimes. Is your memory coming back, then?”
Harry flushes even deeper. “No, not yet. I just –like, I can remember from like magazines and social media and stuff, when I was a teenager,” he says sheepishly. “I don’t remember ever meeting you, but I remember hearing about you when I was a fan. Most of you, anyways, who are-?”
“Ah, that’s Dan, married my mum a few years back now,” Louis jumps in. “And those little ones are more twins, Ernest and Doris. They’re Dan and Mum’s.”
“Well, erm, nice to meet you all again,” Harry says shyly.
After a few minutes everyone stops looking at Harry like he’s some sort of alien, and that’s perfectly alright with him. Louis leans in during a quiet moment, one hand on the small of Harry’s back. “You don’t have to be nervous, love, you’ve already won their hearts. They fell in love with you just as fast as I did.”
It certainly seems true. Later, after dinner, when Harry’s helping to clear the table of its Christmas feast, Johanna gives him a nudge. “You’re incredible with those kids already. Hard to believe you’re a new dad again, the way you’re so natural at it.”
“Isn’t hard, they’re great kids. Incredible, really,” Harry says, abashed. “So’s being a dad, and this incredible family –and Lou, he’s incredible too. I can’t believe this life I have, it’s-”
“I got it,” Johanna cuts in with a wink. “And you’re well-deserving of it, too. Your family loves you very much.” She drops a kiss onto his cheek as she passes Harry on another trip to the dining room, and Harry can’t help but feel a little ball of warmth in his chest. His family.
New Year’s passes quietly, with Harry and Louis tangled up on the couch with popcorn and beer, watching the ball drop on TV with Oliver sprawled out across their laps fast asleep (since he’d insisted all afternoon that he was definitely old enough to stay up and would absolutely never fall asleep). Once the holidays are over Louis has to start traveling for work here and there again. “Next album drops in the spring,” he tells Harry’s pouting face, “I have to start doing promo. I won’t be gone long. They know not to keep me away from home too many nights, remember?”
He was right, of course, and his little trips all over the world are never very long. He comes back from one –France, was it? –after only a few hours, stretching the kinks from his shoulders and shedding clothes tiredly on the bedroom floor as he enters. “Did I miss bedtime?”
“The kids, yeah. I waited up, though,” Harry says, puckering his lips.
Louis kisses them once before collapsing on the bed facedown, stark naked. “It’s so nice to be greeted by something other than screams after promoting all day. You’d think I was promising to drop a sex tape, not a bloody seventh album of pop-rock music.”
“Be nice to your fans, it’s hard for us to be chill about you when you look so ruggedly handsome,” Harry giggles. “Do I get to hear the album ahead of time, now I’m your husband and all?”
“Sure, if you want,” Louis says in surprise, lifting his face to look at Harry curiously. “You’ve never wanted sneak peeks at my albums before, what’s with the change of heart?”
“What can I say, I’m an impatient teenager again.”
Louis just smirks and reaches his hand out to grab his phone off the nightstand and chuck it over to Harry. “Have at it, babe. In my music, album name Perfect Storm.” Harry punches in the passcode (0102, because Louis is both all too lax about personal security and the world’s biggest sap) and quickly finds the album. He’s barely pressed play when Louis launches a decorative pillow at him without even looking. “Get some headphones, tosser. If I listen to it now I’m going to hear a million things I want to change and the guys from the label will skin me if I try to go back to studio at this point.”
Harry heaves a sigh of fake exasperation but kisses Louis’ shoulder gently before he gets up to go fetch headphones. When he gets back he lays on his side facing Louis and starts to listen, brow furrowed in concentration as he takes in every lyric with laserlike attention. Every now and again Louis will open his eyes and peek at him shyly, but he always closes them again before Harry can say a word. They lay like that for the better part of an hour, until finally Harry pulled the headphones from his ears and placed Louis’ phone gently on his nightstand.
“Louis, that album was phenomenal,” he says with no further ado, voice a little breathy with excitement. “The writing on those tracks- those songs were like, perfect for your voice, and- Jesus Christ that was a good album.”
A smirk takes over Louis’ mouth before he even opens his eyes. “I’m sure you do like it. You wrote half of it.”
“I –I what?”
“Took me six years to convince you to let me use your songs on my album,” Louis laughs, propping himself up on his elbows. “When you finally said yes I sort of just swiped all of them at once and made an album out of it.”
“You said I was a freelance songwriter, you never said I wrote songs like that,” Harry all but squawked in shock. “I listened to all the songs on my Wikipedia page, and none of them were half as good as this stuff!”
“I always knew you were saving your best stuff for me,” Louis winks. “Or maybe you’re just biased because it’s me singing them instead of some other bloke.”
“I can’t imagine anybody else singing those songs. I mean, that one song, Strong-”
“That one I wrote, actually,” interrupts Louis proudly. “For you.”
Harry thinks of the song, about how of all the tracks that one stuck out to him as being so stunning, the lyrics so honest and raw, and there’s a lump in his throat. He leans in to kiss Louis gently. “You’re absolutely unbelievable.”
“Yeah, well, that’s what the fangirls tell me.” Louis laughs a little as a blush starts to form on his cheeks, quickly hidden as he buries his face in the pillow once more.
He doesn’t appear to inclined to show his face anytime soon, so Harry just looks at his body instead. He’s got goosebumps all over his skin from the slight chill of the room, but he hasn’t moved to slip his naked form beneath the blankets at all. The soft light from the bedside lamps makes his skin look tan even in the winter, casting shadows in the valleys of his curves. The bend of his spine, the swell of his bum, the little crease where his thighs begin… Harry’s hands itch to reach out and touch.
“Hey Louis?” he asks quietly, and Louis hums in answer. “Do I ever fuck you?”
Louis lifts his head to stare at Harry, jaw dropped open just a little bit. “Sometimes,” he returns at last, a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. “When I’m lucky.”
Now Harry does touch,propping his head up on one hand and running his palm from Louis’ shoulderblade down to his thigh, letting it rest there with his thumb playing gently at the soft skin. “Can I fuck you, Lou?”
Instead of answering, Louis just exhales shakily and leans up to press his lips to Harry’s, mouth eager but subdued, letting Harry take the lead. Harry takes it, bringing his hand back up to cup the back of Louis’ neck so he can tilt his head for just the right angle for kissing Harry. They make it a full minute of just tongues and teeth before Louis is fumbling blindly at his nightstand, trying to pull the drawer open with his fingertips without breaking the kiss.
“I’ll get it,” Harry laughs, pecking the corner of Louis’ mouth and crawling over him to pull out a bottle of lube and a condom, the box having been relocated to near the bed since that first mishap. “Want you to ride my fingers,” he says breathily as he returns to his side of the bed, propping himself up against the headboard. He’s only wearing boxers, but they’re quickly shimmied out of. “Dunno what I’m doing, really, with opening you up. Might be best if you took the lead.”
“Sure, yeah, absolutely,” Louis says, clamboring up and over into Harry’s lap, straddling him so that his knees bracketed Harry’s hips and their noses touched. “I’d love to.”
Their kisses are tiny, just timid tracings of tongues upon lips as Harry slicks up three of his fingers. The middle one he traces across Louis’ skin until it reaches his hole, and he stops to explore how it feels beneath his fingertip. He can feel the slight puckering, the way the muscles flutter beneath his touch before Louis shifts his hips and presses himself down onto it.
He’s tight inside, and warm, and Harry can’t help his sharp little inhale at the sensation. Blood flows even faster to between his thighs as he thinks of that sensation on his cock instead of just his fingers, heavenly and impossible as that may seem. Louis lifts himself up again and there’s a dragging sensation, the tightness of that first ring of muscles sliding from his knuckles to his fingertip, then down again, slowly, gently, as Louis hums quietly in satisfaction.
Louis starts to speed up after a minute, once he starts to relax and his body isn’t so painfully tight around Harry’s finger, then on an upstroke he reaches behind himself and finds Harry’s fingers with his own, guiding another inside next to the first. It’s tight again, Harry’s fingers pressed together as Louis has to pump himself down to where they’re wider at the base than at the tip. The third follows soon after the second, and Harry gives up trying to kiss Louis and just lets his head fall back against the headboard so he can watch Louis go.
He looks magical, skin starting to shimmer a little with sweat as he bobs up and down on Harry’s fingers with his hips grinding. Ethereal. Obscene.
“Hazza, if you could just-” Louis lifts one of his hands from Harry’s shoulders to make a slight crooking motion and Harry hurries to oblige, feeling a slight irregularity beneath his fingertips just before Louis hisses and his thighs twitch and his head goes back in pleasure. “Yeah yeah yeah, right there,” he chokes out, hips slowing until they’re not really bouncing on his fingers so much as grinding, one hand at the back of Harry’s neck and the other wrapped around his own cock as he rubs his prostate across strong fingers over and over again.
Harry lets him, watches the way Louis works his cock and how his own fingers disappear inside of him, kissing Louis’ collarbones until he can’t stand it anymore. “Please, Lou, wanna fuck you. Are you ready? Can I –?”
“Definitely,” Louis breathes, lifting his hips and pulling off of Harry’s fingers once and for all. He crawls over to his pillow and drops to his elbows on it, knees spread wide and calves flat on the mattress. “This work for you? Love it like this.”
He’s got his bum up in the air, skin flushed and pupils blown wide, long hair all in disarray as it falls into his eyes looking back at Harry. Harry gulps. “That’s perfect.”
He quickly wipes his messy fingers on the sheets and finds the condom he’d abandoned on the bed before. He’s careful as he rolls it on, careful as he lines up behind Louis. He must hesitate a second too long before pushing in, because Louis reaches back and laces the fingers of one hand with Harry’s where it rests on his hip. “Don’t be nervous, babe. ‘S all instinct, I promise.”
It kind of makes Harry want to kiss him, but instead he just presses his hips forward slowly and watches as he disappears inside Louis inch by inch. Louis’ head drops to the pillow and he lets out a long, low moan, but when Harry stops moving Louis only pushes himself back farther. Harry’s breathing stutters when together they bottom out, taken aback at the feel of Louis so tight around him. It’s unreal, honestly, better than he could have imagined, and suddenly he’s a lot less nervous than he was before at the idea of moving his hips in and out of that perfect tightness.
Once Harry gets going Louis untangles their hands and brings it back to help support himself, face pressed into the pillow and muffling swears as Harry starts to move faster. “Yeah, babe, just like that,” he pants weakly, pushing himself up onto his hands and then bracing one against the headboard, holding himself in place so that their hips connect with more force. “Fucking hell, just like that!”
A familiar sort of heat starts pooling in Harry’s stomach and he looks down at himself in surprise –a mistake, it turns out, because that means he’s watching himself fuck into Louis and now the heat is pooling faster. “L-Louis I’m not sure how long I’m going to last, to be honest,” he groans, then immediately resumes chewing his lip.
“Thought you’d left your teenager stamina behind?” Louis teases.
Harry wants to respond with a whine about how it’s Louis’ own damn fault for looking like a goddamn deity like this, but instead he fights back, pulling out slowly and instead just running the tip of his cock across Louis’ hole. “Sorry, what was that? Didn’t hear you.”
“Okay, alright, your stamina is fine, just keep-!” backtracks Louis desperately, reaching behind himself and scrabbling for Harry until he laughs and pushes back in and Louis can sigh with relief. He reaches between the frame of his thighs and starts to work his cock, pulling himself off in opposite time with Harry’s thrusts. “Want you to come in me, yeah? You want to?”
“Yes,” Harry breathes at once, and in a flash he realizes the appeal of doing this just skin on skin. The idea of coming inside Louis without the barrier of a condom, of filling him up with HarryHarryHarry-
He comes while thinking about it, hips losing all of their rhythm and instead grinding erratically to chase the high as Harry shudders and spills. Louis starts working his cock faster and comes just as Harry is finishing up his orgasm, clenching around him and half-groan, half-shout of victory while he makes a mess of his hand and the sheets below.
“Best husband,” Louis pants as Harry pulls out and stumbles to the trash can to rid himself of the condom. “Best… best husband.”
“Why do we only do that sometimes, why don’t we do that all the time?” Harry grins tiredly, returning to the bed.
“Probably because I’m old and frail and you’d send me into cardiac arrest if you did that all the time,” laughs Louis. “I think it’s probably best that we kind of share that, really. Also, you’re going to have to carry me to the shower, I hope you know that.”
“My limbs feel like jelly, Lou, I’d drop you.”
“You’re an absolute child sometimes and I hope you know that. But yes.”
There was never some grand moment when everything came rushing back to Harry. There was no morning that he woke up and suddenly remembered all the things he’d lost in those seven years of blank space, however much they wished it to be true. Over the months, though, little things began to trickle back in, so subtle they almost missed it.
“You can’t even pretend like I’m the only one with a temper,” Louis was teasing with enthusiasm one day in early spring, sat in the grass in the backyard with Harry while Oliver ran a football up and down the fence and Grace attempted to keep up in a stream of constant giggles. “You’re even worse than me, when you really get going. When Grace was born they didn’t want to let you into the delivery room right after because she was two weeks premature, and you almost killed that poor nurse until she let us back.”
Harry frowns. “I told her I’d take the cap of her scrubs and shove it down her throat if I didn’t see my daughter in the next sixty seconds.”
“Exactly!” Louis crows in delight. “That’s exactly my point. I may be excitable, but you’re the one issuing death threats over there-”
“Louis, I remember that,” Harry interrupts suddenly.
It takes a full three seconds for the words to sink in, but when they do, Louis cuts off mid syllable and stares at Harry in surprise. “Like you remember hearing the story before, or-”
There’s a lump in Harry’s throat and he has to go to a lot of effort to swallow it before he speaks. “Like I remember it, I remember being there and doing those things. Fuck, Lou, I remember!” He hasn’t even finished the sentence when Louis is tackling him to the grass and kissing him with laughs that border on sobs.
The doctor calls it a byproduct of distributed coding, says it’s because moments with such high emotional content are stored in lots of different areas of the brain and that over time they might be pieced together into memories –nothing mundane or the sensation of seven years having passed, but he might get back little snippets of the big moments. Harry and Louis just prefer to call it a miracle.
But the more time goes on, the less important it becomes that Harry get those memories back. Yes, there are things that he missed that he will never be able to recreate, and there’s a part of him that mourns that quietly. But there is a larger part of him that can’t be bothered to dwell on lost memories when there are so many new ones being made every second. How can he mourn the past when he can memorize the feel of his daughter’s palm against his cheek, or the feel of his husband’s gentle hand on the small of his back? How can he focus on things lost when he’s gained the knowledge of how his son laughs, or how his best friend looks when he smiles at the love of his life? How in the world could Harry be anything but blessed?
They’re all gathered on the deck one night beneath the stars, Louis and Harry slotted together on one pool chair with Oliver passed out across their ankles, Zayn off to the side sitting cross-legged in a patio chair with Grace looking sleepy in his lap, Liam and Niall laid out on blankets on the ground looking up at the night sky. “I dunno,” Niall is saying. “Not sure if the surrogate route is our best course, you know?”
“I keep telling him that I want a miniature version of him running around,” Liam explains to the others, “but he isn’t sold. Keeps saying that one of him is enough for this poor world and we shouldn’t push our luck.”
Niall laughs loudly, muffled halfway through as he glances over at the little ones. “That and just –there’s just so many kids out there already looking for someone to take them in. Adoption gives everybody a family, us and a kid.”
Liam looks over at him fondly for a second before pressing a chaste kiss to his mouth. Zayn looks on and beams. “I vote for either, as long as Pez and I get to babysit. We miss having these ones around now that Louis and Harry have decided to be all disgusting and inseparable and spend all their time as a family instead of going out on date nights like decent humans.”
“Alright, Zayn, we hear you,” Harry says with a roll of his eyes. “I’ll take Louis out sometime next week, okay? You can play house with your fiancée and our children to your little heart’s content.”
“Oh, you’re gonna take me out, are you?” asks Louis with a laugh, looking down at Harry. “Thanks for taking one for the team, I suppose, falling on your sword for poor Zayn over there.”
“No problem. ‘S not a chore, I was going to suggest it anyways,” Harry beams, craning his neck to look back at Louis. “Been looking forward to the chance to show off how much I love you.”
Louis’ breath catches in his throat. It’s the first time Harry’s said it, in all this time since the start of his amnesia. All these months Louis’ never pushed, never worried about what it meant that Harry wasn’t ready to say it just yet. He’d just taken a step back and let it happen, let Harry fall in love with him all over again.
And he had, of course he had. It really isn’t that surprising, since the flutter in Louis’ stomach when he looks at Harry says that maybe he’s fallen in love again, too.
When they kiss, it drags on slow and sweet and long enough that the other three make gagging noises until they break apart with matching, quiet laughs. Neither of them is really all that bothered by the teasing. Let them laugh if they want to. Just another memory, after all.