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Harry was nervous.

Scratch that, Harry was shaking-hands, vomit-up-breakfast, sweaty-sticky-palms, dry-throat nervous. It wasn't his fault; having an interview with fashion mogul Louis Tomlinson to apply as his newest assistant was make or break territory. Truly, if he got in under Tomlinson himself... He could go anywhere after his internship. And if he failed? He might as well give up a career within twenty feet of fashion.

He wedged the plastic folder with his résumé in it between his knees as he wiped his sweaty palms on his trousers. Hopefully no one saw him. There was no one there except a stern-looking secretary typing away on her computer, her fake nails clacking against the keys. There were a few other hopefuls there too, but Harry tried not to think about them.

Finally someone called his name and he got up, taking a deep breath. It was now or never. This could either be his big break or the day he had to hang up his boots once and for all. Maybe he could go back to school and get a degree. Something boring, granted, but something that would definitely secure him a job. Maybe he could become an accountant.

Before Harry could think of more possible jobs to pursue, he was being led to a new room. And in front of him was none other than the one and only Louis Tomlinson. He was absolutely striking, his cheekbones sharp enough to slice diamond, cinnamon-colored hair curled into an artful fringe swirl over his long-lashed blue eyes, five o'clock shadow dusting his jawline, and dressed to kill. Harry had to make a conscious effort to close his mouth. “S-Sir,” he reached out a hand for Louis to shake. That was the right thing to do in an interview, wasn’t it? Suddenly all the articles Harry had read about ‘what to do to make a good first impression’ and ‘ten tips on how to nail an interview’ went out the window. “I’m Harry Styles, sir. But you probably already knew that,” he muttered, wincing as he realised how it sounded. “I just meant. You have my résumé-…” he trailed off, gesturing to where Louis’ hands where he was holding the application Harry had sent in.

The corner of Louis’ lips twitched up in a smirk. “Louis Tomlinson. But you probably already knew that,” he teased. Harry turned bright red as he nodded. God, he looked good. Freshly-pressed black suit, cufflinks with LT engraved on them flashing from his wrists, shiny boots that surely cost more than he could ever afford to spend on one thing.

"Uh, well. Hi." Harry felt like hyperventilating, to be honest. Not to mention, he was still awkwardly exchanging a handshake with the man. Smiling stiffly, he practically dropped Louis' hand like a dead fish and then gripped his folder tightly enough to crinkle the plastic and whiten his knuckles.

"Hey," Louis said with a faint grin. "Relax. Your résumé is great, you're exactly what we're looking for here at LT Limited. You have excellent references, everybody we called gushed about you, even the little bakery back in Holmes Chapel. I got quite a story from-- I think her name was Barbara?"

Oh fuck. Harry's blush only deepened. Barbara surely had some interesting tales for Louis; she was the absolute sweetest woman, but quite a gossiper, like most elders. "Please ignore whatever she said," Harry nearly begged.

"It's okay. She seemed really proud of the fact you'd applied here and were even being considered," Louis promised. "Anyways..."

The rest of the interview went much better, in Harry's humble opinion. He managed to recall some of the tips, and he relaxed after a few minutes in Louis' company. By the time he was leaving, complimentary water bottle in one hand and a huge file of necessary papers in the other, Harry felt almost... Confident.

"We'll be in touch shortly," Louis promised him, a gleam in his pretty, blue eyes. "But I think, since this is my company, after all, I can let slip that I believe the rest of the hopefuls in the lobby will be highly disappointed. See you soon, Harry Styles."

After another quick handshake, Louis was gone, and Harry felt half-dazed. He found himself leaning against a bathroom stall door just minutes later, in a huge, marble floor loo, with fancy soaps, potpourri in bowls, and a chandelier dangling from the ceiling. God, everything in this building was extravagant-- but fuck if he didn't love it, crave it, hope for it. LT Limited was best known for high salaries, rich decor, and famous, talented designers and models. And Harry knew he was about to be a part of it, somewhere deep in his bones, settled and comfortable; he belonged here.

 

--

 

The call confirming his wildest dreams came the next day, three in the afternoon, when Harry was painting his toenails and watching trashy, reality telly. He paused the screen and cursed as he dribbled a bit of Sapphire Desire on his carpet, stabbing the answer button and putting it on speaker.

"Hello! Harry Styles speaking."

"Hi, it's Louis Tomlinson. You're hired. You be here at six-thirty sharp tomorrow, with a low-fat, caramel macchiato and an attitude to learn and listen, and you've got the job. I look forward to seeing you, Harry," came Louis from his mobile, his voice stern. Harry was subtly screaming in triumph in his head but stopped as Louis finished.

"Thank you so much, Mr. Tomlinson, sir. I won't let you down," Harry gushed breathlessly, fist pumping the air and accidentally spilling his entire bottle of nail varnish on the coffee table.

"Fucking shitty arse cunt!" he bellowed, swatting at his mobile in an attempt to shut it off and keep it away from the spilled liquid. Harry frantically grabbed a huge wad of paper towels, wiping and dabbing at the massive mess of blue polish staining into his oak table. God, that was a nice table, and he was pissed he'd just ruined the wood.

Harry froze as he realized the mobile was still lit up with a call to LT Limited, Important. Oh, bloody hell.

A low laugh came from the phone. "Goodbye, Harry Styles. See you tomorrow. Hopefully you'll manage to sort yourself out before then."

 

--

 

If Harry was nervous before, it didn’t compare to what he was feeling now, standing timidly outside the skyscraper where the headquarters of LT Limited were, a drink clutched tightly in hand. Louis had said low-fat, caramel macchiato, had he not? He didn’t want to screw up, let alone on the first day.

It was silly of him to be anxious, he told himself. He had already gotten the job. But before, when this was just a distant dream, it didn’t matter as much if he failed. At least he would have tried, and then he would have picked himself up and moved on. But now, Harry knew he actually had a shot. He had landed the chance to work with one of the best names in the fashion industry; he had a chance to really make a career for himself. And if he screwed this up, he would never forgive himself.

Taking a deep breath, Harry walked in. He rushed inside the lift just before the doors closed, almost dropping the hot drink. “Oops, sorry!” he winced as he bumped into a stranger. The man looked up from his phone with a hostile glare, giving Harry a once over. Harry could feel his gaze turning more friendly with every passing second. “I’m sorry, it’s my first day here,” Harry smiled politely, flashing his dimples. The guy softened slightly, pocketing his mobile and subtly checking his dark hair in the shiny mirrors of the lift.

“Oh, it’s alright. You’re working at LT as well?” The man asked, nodding to where Harry had just pushed the button for the eleventh floor.

“Yeah, I just got the job. Exciting, innit? Have you worked here for a long time?” Harry was curious. He truly wanted to know everything there was to know about this place, but he would be lying if he said talking to someone didn't also distract his mind from thinking about the lift that was slowly inching up floor by floor to his impending doom.

The lift dinged as the doors opened. “Just two years, but if you’re talented and work hard around here you’ll get a promotion in no time. Like me,” the man smirked, running a hand through his quiff. “I’m Nick, Nick Grimshaw,” he introduced himself as he reached a hand out for Harry to shake.

Harry smiled sheepishly. He had Louis’ coffee in one hand and his portfolio folders in the other, so he just gave Nick an eager nod. “Harry Styles. It was a pleasure meeting you, Nick!”

“I’ll see you around, Styles. You don’t want to be late,” Nick reminded as he walked away. Harry didn’t know if he just imagined it or if Nick really checked out his bum before he turned away. Shrugging it off, Harry sighed and glanced around the office.

It was a truly massive space, with floor-length windows and sleek furniture in varying shades of blue, black, and white. It all formed a very modern, but comfortable, space, with bright lighting and a killer view of the bustling city below. Harry sighed and scanned the cubicles, then actual rooms, searching for one labeled with Louis' name and position. He soon spotted it at the far end, and quickly trotted up to the secretary's desk just in front of what he presumed to be Louis' office.

"Hello, I'm Harry, Harry Styles. Louis called me yesterday and told me I got the job as an assistant?" Harry mentioned, slightly out of breath and trembly with refreshed nerves, to the unimpressed purple-haired woman staring at him through her chic glasses. After a moment, she typed something on her computer, then hummed and grabbed her phone off her desk, matching violet nails gripping it tightly. Her name tag said Perrie Edwards, Secretary.

"Hello, Mr. Tomlinson? There's a Harry Styles out here to see you. Send him in? Will do. Thank you," Perrie replied sweetly, hanging up and then gesturing Harry past her. He dipped his head as he edged past and made his way up to Louis' office, shiny plaque proclaiming it Louis William Tomlinson, Owner and Head Designer.

Before Harry could psych himself out of it, he knocked on the door. “Sir?” he opened the sleek, polished mahogany with a look of trepidation on his face. “I’ve got your coffee, sir.” Shit. Was he even supposed to be calling him ‘sir’? Louis wasn’t that old, but it would feel weird to just call him by his first name. He was his boss, after all. “Mr. Tomlinson?” Harry tried instead, tasting it on his tongue. It felt better.

Louis was in his desk chair, scrubbing a hand through his tousled hair while looking frustrated, and glanced up with a vaguely irritated expression on his face. He was dressed more casually today, no rolling quiff, just a messy fringe; no suit, just a cream cardigan getting smeared with graphite at the sleeves and tight, black jeans from his own line. His boots still looked a hefty price, though, shiny black and unscuffed enough to use as a mirror. Louis pushed some filled sketch paper to the side, snapping his pencil in two and tossing it in the bin, then took a deep breath, released it, and smiled at Harry.

"Hi, Harry. Is that my low-fat, caramel macchiato? Please say yes," Louis groaned, straightening up and gesturing for Harry to have a seat across from him.

"Uh, yes, Mr. Tomlinson. Here you go," Harry enthused, reaching over the huge desk to hand it to the man-- and nearly screaming in terror as the lid popped off whilst the cup switched hands, sending a great wave of creamy coffee down on Louis. "Oh my god!" he gasped, scrambling up and grabbing a fistful of tissues from his messenger bag.

Harry dropped to his knees beside a shocked Louis, not thinking as he automatically began to dab delicately at the wet stain, trying not to go anywhere near his groin. He had already done enough damage, there was no need to add fuel to the fire. He wiped his tissues down Louis’ muscular calves, nearly crying. The jeans were new enough to not have fuzzy thighs due to use from his curvy employer, and the last time he'd checked LT Limited's website, a pair of trousers this style had been nearly £500.

"Harry!" Louis yelped, carefully shoving his hands away. It was only then that he realized he'd been inadvertently dapping at the same spot over and over with his desperate attempt to clean his boss up.

"I am... So unbelievably sorry! I-- I--" Harry choked out clumsily, face burning up. He wanted to melt into the floor and never return, that was how humiliated he felt.

"I don't give a fuck about the jeans, but these boots are Sutor Mantellassi, and cost me a pretty pound," Louis sighed, looking abruptly exhausted. Harry shrank down and glanced down at his shoes, which had macchiato splashed across the tips. He recognized them; they cost over £2,000. God.

He bent down and spit on the right shoe, his brain still screaming at him to do something, anything. Louis' hitch of horror in his breathing made Harry realize he'd just put saliva on the most expensive pair of boots he had ever touched. Immediately, he licked up his spit with a low whine of confused panic, rubbing his sleeve against the rest of the boots until they once again sparked so well he could see every pore on his pale, wan face.

Harry slowly, stiffly rose from his crouch, all color gone from his cheeks. He knew he probably looked like a wax doll, he was so freaked out. Harry had spilled coffee all over his famous, rich, intimidating boss, then polished his shoes after. He'd just-- licked Louis Tomlinson's boots like a dog on the street. Dear god.

Louis was staring at him with an utterly unreadable look on his face.

"Go back out. Have Perrie settle you in at your cubicle. You're sharing with one of my senior assistants for now, he's a good bloke. He'll make sure we don't have any more fuck-ups today. Now, if you'll excuse me... I need to change my pants," Louis spoke calmly, draping his sweater down over his crotch to hide it as he stood. "Please try not to spill anything else, would you?"

It was only after Harry was sitting at his desk that he realised he never spilled coffee on Louis’ crotch.

 

--

 

Harry didn’t see Louis the next few days. He showed up with Louis’ coffee order every morning, only to learn that he was still in Paris on some important business meeting that Harry was not privy to get information on. He told himself that it was a good thing. He didn’t get to fuck up any more in front of Louis and maybe if enough time passed, Louis would forget about it.

He didn’t know what to expect when he got the job, but he was starting to realise that it wasn’t as glamorous as he initially thought it would be. He mostly took orders from Stan, Louis’ senior assistant. But Perrie dropped by occasionally and stuck post-it notes on his desk with different tasks on them, each more boring than the previous. He was sure that she was ditching some of her own work on him. There was no way one person was meant to do all of this.

Harry found himself in the office on Friday night, long after everyone else had gone home. He presumed that they went home to their families and were watching television with their loved ones. Or maybe they were out on nice dates. Maybe some of them were out getting drunk with their friends. Harry pouted and stapled another stack of paper. The stapler made a weird sound, metal clanging against metal. ”Come on! Not now,” he muttered, punching away on the stapler, but to no avail. Opening the metal case, he found three staples jammed in the barrel.

Sighing, Harry headed towards the supply room to get another stapler so hopefully he could go home before the sun came up. Just as he rounded the corner to the supply room, he heard voices. Or rather, just one voice. It sounded like someone arguing, probably on the phone.

”I gave you a three week's notice, for fuck’s sake! You said you were completely free!”

Harry jumped. He thought he was the only one at the office.

”No, I can’t cancel. It’s a bloody charity event, I can’t make them cancel just because my fucking date is a moron!”

Harry recognised the voice as Louis’, only it was angrier than he had ever heard it before. Which was saying a lot, since he had seen a YouTube video of Louis yelling at an intern until the poor sod started to cry.

”No, I don’t want you to come after midnight, it’s not a frat party. What kind of loser does that make me look like?” Louis hissed.

Harry tried to open the door to the supply closet as quietly as possible, hoping Louis wouldn’t hear that him. The last thing he needed right now was for his boss to think he was eavesdropping on what seemed to be a very private conversation.

”No, keep the bloody suit,” Louis snarled and slammed the receiver down so hard that Harry jumped from the sound. He then tried to sneak back to his cubicle as quietly as possible without getting seen.

”What the fuck are you still doing here?” Louis’ voice thundered behind him.

”I-- uh... Stapler?” he held the pink stapler up like a weapon.

”Yes, I can see that,” Louis raised a brow. ”What I would like to know is why you look like you’re planning on murdering a small child with it."

Harry quickly tried to hide the stapler behind his back. ”I’m not! I-- uh... Perrie gave me some work and I wasn't done with it yet,” he frantically tried to explain. ”I need it. To staple. Papers. Not people?”

Louis rolled his eyes. ”You’re so fucking weird, Styles,” he muttered and went back to his office, loosening his tie. It was only then Harry noticed that Louis was wearing a fancy suit. Quite expensive, by the looks of it. It was plain black, but the material was slightly shimmery and caught the light. Since he had never seen the design before, he assumed that it was made by Louis himself. And god, did it look good on him. The dress pants were perfectly tailored, clinging to his arse and thighs, showing them off. The crisp, white shirt was innocent enough, but the top buttons were open, revealing parts of Louis’ chest tattoo: It Is What It Is.

Yes, he knew the entire phrase. What? So, he'd Googled Louis extensively before applying. 'Louis Tomlinson shirtless' may have been typed a time or two. There may have been some wanking to those sinful collarbones. Sue him.

Harry let out a relieved sigh when Louis went back inside his office, but the man returned a second later. ”Wait. Your only plans for tonight was to stay here and creepily staple stuff, right?” Louis checked, and he frowned.

Harry nodded hesitantly. ”It’s not really that cree--...” Louis cut him off, holding a hand up.

”You can be my plus one for the charity dinner. Great,” he hummed. ”I mean, we’d have to fix you up in like...” he checked his watch, ”fifteen minutes, but you’ll do.”

Harry blinked in confusion, but before he could say anything else, Louis was pushing him towards the stockroom. ”We should have a suit here that’s your size. Obviously it wouldn’t be tailored, but there should be something to fit your freakishly tall torso and mile-long legs,” he muttered, talking to himself.

”I don’t think--... I really have to finish the stuff or Perrie will have my head on a spike,” Harry grimaced.

”Is Perrie’s name on the boss' door, Harry? Or is it mine?” Louis snapped, shoving a garment bag against Harry’s chest. ”Now try this on and see if it fits. Come on, I don’t have all night.”

Harry did as he was told and went to the changing area to put it on. It fit alright, though the shirt was a little baggy on his hips. Luckily, the dress jacket managed to cover it pretty well. He looked in the mirror and couldn’t help but smile. He looked rather good, actually.

And the best of all was that he was wearing a Tomlinson original that wasn’t available for sale yet. Hell, it probably wasn’t even listed anywhere. He might have well been the first person to wear it. Just the thought of that made Harry want to squeal a little. He did a little twirl, propping his hand against his hip and striking a pose in the mirror. He was in the middle of blowing a kiss to himself when the curtains were ripped aside, a rather impatient Louis on the other side.

”If you’re done playing dress-up, there is a limo waiting for us downstairs."

 

--

 

"... So," Harry started, sitting on his hands in a conscious effort to avoid touching everything and anything in the limousine Louis had settled him into. There was a bloody minibar to his right, and a telly bigger than the one in his tiny, one-room flat to his left. "Where exactly are we going, again?"

"I didn't tell you, did I?" Louis laughed, looking to be in a much appreciated mood since getting Harry to agree to come with him. "We're going to a huge fashion gala. It's for charity funding, people will be setting up all sorts of stuff for people to buy or invest in, and a good eighty percent goes to Make-A-Wish Foundation. All the big names will be there, naturally. There will be liquor, snacks, some new designs, models... It'll be very important for you not to embarrass me," he hummed sternly. "No spilling anything on that suit, either, or your next four paychecks will be going to fund it, understand?"

Harry nodded, gulping audibly. "Yes, Mr. Tomlinson. Sorry. I'll do whatever you say." The man settled back, looking appeased as he dug into a bowl of mixed nuts and chewed on a pistachio.

"Good lad, good lad. Now, I was supposed to take somebody else to this, but you're just gonna have to seamlessly fill his shoes. You must be charming, polite, do not talk to anybody who doesn't approach you first, and no bidding-- there's no way you can afford anything in there, and you'll look silly for trying. Let's see... If you aren't sure whom somebody is, ask me first. I don't need you mixing up famous people and getting LT Limited's reputation trashed," Louis rattled off abruptly, checking things off on a clipboard he seemed to pull out of thin air. "Any further questions for me?"

Harry opened his mouth to speak, but was abruptly cut off by the driver announcing they'd arrived. Beaming, Louis fixed Harry's green tie and then adjusted his fringe, humming and stepping out confidently as the chauffeur opened the door, announcing Louis' name. Harry scrambled gracelessly after him, almost falling out onto the pavement. The look Louis gave him was icy, and he smiled through bared teeth as he helped Harry upright, hissing, "Don't embarrass me, Styles, I'm dead fuckin' serious here."

"Louis! Louis Tomlinson!" shouted a reporter whom aggressively brandished her microphone at him. "Who's this you have with you? Weren't you set to go with Aiden Grimshaw?"

Harry was sure the look Louis flashed her could've made a charging Grizzly stop dead in its tracks and reconsider. Her expression grew flustered and she backed up, letting her mic drop down.

Aiden Grimshaw, huh? He was rumored to be Louis' newest beau, but they'd only been that-- gossip. He was a pretty talented singer from what Harry had heard, at least according to his time on the X-Factor show. Interesting.

"Louis! Are you wearing your own design!?" demanded another, and Louis stopped for her graciously, giving a slow twirl and smiling charmingly, every inch the savvy salesman.

"Oh yes, it's a vintage style, with shimmery Egyptian silk embroidered underneath to really bring out your inner sparkle." Harry kinda zoned, no lie, after that; truth be told, he didn't know that much about actual fabrics and stuff. His real, guilty dream was to one day model. Much, much easier than designing, in his opinion. All one had to do was take orders and walk in outfits. It sounded like a pretty sweet gig.

"And here with me today is Harry Styles of LT Limited, he's currently modeling one of our stock suits, not tailored but nonetheless a pretty great fit." Harry tuned back in when Louis mentioned his name, and really paid attention when his arm was linked in with Louis'. "Come on then, Harry," Louis hummed, tugging him forwards and up to the doors of the gala.

It felt monumental, standing there outside these huge doors, golden light spilling beneath the cracks, and noise filtering out. He was about to be in a massive charity gala, surrounded by celebrities in the fashion world. Harry took a deep breath, suddenly nervous as anything, belly wound tight with fluttery butterflies. Louis smiled at him, a private, soft grin.

"No worries. Just stand by me and look like pretty arm candy. You ready?" Louis asked. Before Harry could answer, Louis opened the door and tugged him into a whole, new world.

Harry gasped, taking in the ballroom. It was already filled with people dressed to the nines, laughing and talking and drinking. Before he knew what was happening, someone took his coat and a put a glass of champagne in his hand. “This is--... wow,” he murmured.

“Yeah,” Louis nodded, scanning the crowd for familiar faces. This was a charity event meant to raise money for a good cause, but it was also a business opportunity. “I’m going to go mingle. See if I can push along some deals,” he murmured under his breath to Harry. “Don’t get lost. And for god’s sake, don’t spill your drink on anyone.”

With that, Louis was gone. Harry knew he looked like a deer caught in headlights. He knocked back his entire glass of champagne and squeaked. Oh god, David fucking Beckham was standing by the ice sculpture with Posh Spice, talking to David Cameron. He did the first thing that came to mind and grabbed another glass of bubbly from a waiter who walked past.

Three glasses later, Harry was still standing at the same spot, creepily staring at the man who made a younger him realise that he was utterly and completely gay. But he couldn’t just walk up to David Beckham and start talking to him, that was preposterous. And Louis would kill him if he tried to ask for an autograph.

He found Louis in the crowd, unable to resist a quick, little eye-fucking of him in his suit. God. He just-- he looked so good. Harry wanted to melt into a puddle at his several thousand pound shoes and babble incoherently about how killer his cheekbones were. He nearly went over to him, drawn in by the energetic energy that Louis cast out, like a flower desperately searching for the sun.

Instead, he decided to go to the loo, stumbling slightly and realizing, with some embarrassment, he'd gotten a lot more drunk than originally planned already. Harry wanted to slap himself as he remembered he hadn't eaten since a wilted bloody salad at lunch. Not drinking on an empty stomach was practically the first rule of alcohol... And he'd totally ignored it like an absolute idiot.

Sighing, he stopped on the way to the bathroom by the literally massive tables of food. Harry originally planned on eating some bread and continuing to the loo, but he soon was a good halfway through a bowl of caviar with no intention of stopping. After stuffing himself on delicious foods, he groaned and hurried to the toilets, getting absolutely desperate for a wee and not particularly caring as he stumbled into guests and tripped on his own gangly legs. God, Louis would be displeased if he saw him in this state.

Harry skidded to a stop in front of a urinal, fiddling with his flies before giving up and just yanking his trousers and pants down enough to ease his cock out just before he started weeing. Sighing in relief, he let his eyes flutter shut as he relieved his bladder, meaning he was startled when a voice cleared right next to his ear. Jumping in startlement, he jerked his still-pissing cock to the side and accidentally got a bit of his golden stream on a very familiar-looking pant leg.

"Oops! Please, d-don't be-- Louis!" Harry slurred nervously, finishing his wee properly and immediately fixing up his pants. Louis was staring at him with true displeasure in his eyes, which frequently dropped down to the small wet spot on his left trouser hem.

"Hi," Louis murmured icily, shaking his head and sighing. "You have caviar in your teeth, you're swaying, and you just fucking wee'd on my brand new line. Good job, Styles. Go wait by the entrance, we'll be leaving shortly." Louis shook his head and sighed. Ashamed and embarrassed, Harry could only nod, wash his hands, and scurry from the loo.

Unfortunately for him, he ran quite literally face first into a very beautiful male. Harry gasped and stumbled back with a soft hiccup, staring at one of the prettiest men he'd ever seen with huge, starstruck eyes.

"Oh my god, you're fucking gorgeous," Harry blurted out, eyes running along slim hips, long legs, a defined chest beneath his tighter shirt, cheekbones he wanted to stab himself with, smoldering whiskey eyes, and a beautiful undercut with his hair lightly gelled to one side. His tattoos only made him more pretty, and the shy but genuine smile on his face only served Harry's attraction. "You are... A statue, right? This is a dream, I fell asleep with the pink stapler at the office, and this entire gala is a fantasy." Harry nodded; it was the only thing that made any sense.

"Come here," the man laughed softly and pulled Harry away from the bustling bathroom corridor. "Where is your mentor? Does Louis know that you're so wasted you think you're dreaming, love?"

Harry nodded amicably. "He does, but it doesn't matter because this isn't real. People as beautiful as you are simply don't exist in real life, sorry. I think you should model Louis' suits, Greek god. It would probably help boost our imaginary sales." The room was kinda getting topsy-turvy now, spinning a bit and very, very bright. Harry sat down with his head between his knees and simply found his calm for a few minutes, only looking back up when the world stopped moving.

The lad looked relieved when Louis suddenly appeared. "Thank god, he's really, really drunk. I'm guessing you didn't tell him all the alcohol is nearly pure? Or warn him that it would be free?" he hummed, and Louis groaned while shaking his head, pulling Harry by his noodle arms. Giggling, Harry immediately slumped into his boss.

"I told Mr. Statue he should model for us," Harry hummed with a flirty grin aimed at the flustered Adonis.

"You did what?!" Louis whisper-shouted, but the guy gently cut him off.

"I agreed," said the Greek god. "I'll have my agents call yours. I kinda wanna see more of this kid. You should bring him to more events. The stuffy atmosphere could usually use a wee bit more humor." Harry wasn't sure what was going on, but he suddenly felt very yucky, and both lads grimaced when they saw his face.

Louis immediately told the most beautiful man in the world a hasty goodbye and hurried Harry outside, where he very unceremoniously got sick in the bushes twice while Louis gingerly held his hair back.

Caviar tasted a lot less nice the second time around. At the end, Louis patted his back, gave him a bottle of water to rinse his mouth, and then a couple of crackers to settle his stomach for the ride. Groaning, he stretched out and hobbled into the limo, sprawling out with a queasy sigh, his head already pounding. Louis gave him some paracetamol and a Gatorade, which Harry accepted gratefully and downed in an instant. If Harry had been any less drunk, he would have wondered why on earth Louis Tomlinson, fashionista extraordinaire, had a sports drink and crackers ready.

"I am... So sorry, Mr. Tomlinson," Harry groaned into the leather seat he was trying to suffocate himself in. "I am--..."

"No, Harry. At first I was furious, I'll admit, but I didn't really warn you about the liquor so that's my bad. Not to mention, you got Zayn fucking Malik to model for our company! D'you have any idea how long I've been trying to do that? A year. A fucking year. You convinced him in ten minutes." Louis paused. "This is big. I think I might have to promote you. You need to come everywhere with me now. You're my good luck charm."

Harry was still very drunk but he was pretty sure this was good news. "Really? You really... Really?" he double checked, making Louis chuckle and push his curls back off of his face.

"Really, really. I knew you were charming, sure, but this is a whole new level. This is a game changer."

Harry just stared up at him quietly before passing out. He slept the rest of the night and didn't awaken until nearly noon the next morning.

Yawning a massive good morning to himself, he groaned and slowly opened his heavy eyelids, staring up at a rich, blue canopy. Stretching out, nude and stiff, Harry froze as he realized he wasn't in his bed. His bed didn't even have a canopy. Looking around only made him more freaked. He wasn't in his room. There were expensive modern art paintings on the walls, a window balcony by with gauzy shades keeping the light mostly out, an ocean-y feeling to the color scheme, and high-quality furniture all around. A far cry from his little bed and rickety telly, which stood on several piled boxes of books.

He was positive he wasn't even in his house, or neighborhood, as Harry went over to the window and peeked out at huge mansions, rolling green gardens and lawns, and pools. Alarmed to the max about what exactly had happened last night, since his memory was a bit fuzzy, Harry was just working himself into a proper strop when he caught sight of the name embroidered on a towel laid out for him by the bed: Louis William Tomlinson.

Oh. So he was naked, hungover, and desperately craving a wee in his boss' house.

...Just fucking great.

Chapter Text

The sun shone brightly into his face, and Harry grumbled and swatted sleepily at his eyes, whining and groggily sitting up. God, he felt like utter shit. Harry gulped thickly, laying back down on the bed. The room was spinning a little and suddenly he felt nauseous, though that was most definitely due to the copious amounts of alcohol he had last night. Oh god. The events of last night slowly came back to him, frame by frame, like someone showing him a video of what really happened.

 

Louis Tomlinson, the Louis Tomlinson, one of the most famous men on earth took him to the most fabulous event of his life, where he saw David Beckham in flesh and bone though he was way too much of a coward to actually go and talk to him. To deal with his awkwardness, he had downed-- oh fuck, a tonne of alcohol-- champagne flutes and gin and tonics like he hadn’t had a sip of water in three days. He had stuffed his face with caviar, and come to think of it, he was pretty sure that was the until-now unidentified stain on his shirt.

 

Like that wasn’t enough, he suddenly recalled he had stumbled into teen heartthrob Zayn Malik and made a complete fool out of himself. Miraculously, that worked in his favour and things had been looking a bit better until he managed to puke in front of Louis. Now, somehow, he was here.

 

Where was here?

 

He didn’t even know where Louis lived, or which one of his fabulous houses he was rumoured to have this was. He was completely alone and the room looked as non-descript as possible, almost like a hospital room. There was a picture of a cat on the wall, but it was one of those awkward generic pictures that came with the frame when you purchased it.

 

Harry assumed that he was in some sort of guest bedroom, meaning that Louis was somewhere else in this house. The bed smelled like Louis, the same laundry detergent or fabric softener that was used on all his clothes. It was a comforting scent, something akin to vanilla, nutmeg and honey. Soothing, calming, classic. Musky and slightly spicy, but yet smooth and sweet. And Harry was obviously slowly losing his mind if he was breaking down his boss’ scent.

 

He slowly got up, whimpering slightly as his head throbbed. There was only one thing he needed right now, and that was a wee and a shower. No fancy breakfast, no amount of gold or diamonds could compare to the thought of relieving his bladder and having warm water cascading down his naked body, washing away all the grime from yesterday.

 

Harry sighed and forced himself up. He snuck out of the room, the Mission Impossible soundtrack playing in his mind as he looked around. The hallway looked completely abandoned and he took some time to inspect the pristine white walls and the expensive paintings that hung on the wall. Oh god, was that an original Monet? Harry groaned, stopping in front of what he was absolutely sure was a framed, signed football jersey of none other than David Beckham.

 

Fuck, Louis was richer and more influential than he could ever have imagined. Harry had always harbored a bit of a thing for Louis-- and who wouldn't, after getting a good look at him in his usual selection of near painted-on jeans. Now? Knowing he was rich, famous, handsome as hell, and kind as a genuine person? Harry was halfway to marriage in his head-- halfway to the goddamn honeymoon.

 

Biting his bottom lip, he pressed a palm over his clothed crotch to placate himself while he walked down to hallway, his gaze flickering over the different decorations. Yeah, that was definitely an authentic Ming vase. Wasn’t the most expensive one of those auctioned off to fifty million pounds or something ridiculous like that? Harry bit his bottom lip, suppressing a dreamy sigh.

 

By the time Harry made it to the bathroom, he was a wee bit flushed. His cock was at half-chub, his need for urination definitely not making things any easier, and his forehead was lined with pearls of sweat from trying not to think about Louis pinning him against the massive Van Gogh and snogging him until he forgot his own name, let alone some painter who died decades ago.

 

Harry was on the verge of tears by the time he made it to the loo. After having a wee and washing his hands, he turned on the shower and let it run until the mirror started to fog up the huge mirror over the sink. God, it really wasn’t fair that Louis was so hot. He was so fucking attractive and so goddamn inaccessible. Climbing in, he leaned against the shower wall, passively letting the warm water stream down his filthy body. Even the power jet here was nicer than anything he had ever imagined; it just wasn’t fair. Fuck it, if he was going to hell, he might as well get a first class express ticket there.

 

“Oh,” Harry moaned, wrapping his fingers around his throbbing cock. There was absolutely no shame in relieving himself in the bathroom of his boss, he told himself. This was an emergency. No matter how hard he tried to stop it, thoughts of Louis and him kept returning to his mind. The soft bed he woke up in, only Louis was there with him. He was between his legs, smirking at him in that annoying way of his like he had a secret. Slowly leaning down, languidly dragging his tongue up his shaft. “God...” he whimpered, squeezing his cock hard to keep himself from coming on the spot.

 

He desperately tried to push away thoughts of Louis pinning his wrists behind his back, kissing up his thighs, his lips and warm breath ghosting over his erection just to tease him before he finally took all of him in his mouth. “Fuck...” Harry whimpered. Louis’ hands trailing up his naked body, whispering filthy words in his ear. Just golden skin on his, warm, smooth expanses of it. He pictured Louis' strong thighs bracketing his hips, large bum pressing into his groin, beard gently scraping his jaw and making him shiver with pleasure.

 

Harry bit back a whimper as he dragged his blunt nails up his shaft, a shiver running down his spine. He jerked himself off faster and faster, leaning his forehead against the cold tiles of the wall. “Oh fuck, fuck, fuck,” he whimpered, thumb swiping over the head. His tip was leaking precome from how turned on he was just from thinking about his boss. Louis naked, his body on display, gorgeously tanned, toned, and curvy. “Please, oh god,” he whimpered. He wanted touch him so bad, he wanted Louis, his mouth, his hands, his cock.

 

Harry cried out loud as he came, spilling all over his chest and stomach. The evidence was washed away within seconds, but it didn’t hide how hard Harry was blushing.

 

He didn't even bother to wipe the condensation from the mirror, too ashamed to look himself in the eyes.

 

When Harry finally made way to the kitchen a little while later, dressed in spare clothes he had found in the guest room that were somehow too small and yet too baggy for him at the same time, Louis was already there sitting by the granite island. He was dressed in casual clothes, khakis and a white t-shirt. His hair was damp and he was sipping coffee while reading what looked like the morning newspaper.

 

“Good morning, sunshine. Or good afternoon, I guess will be in order,” Louis looked up from his paper with a smirk. Oh god, did he know what Harry just did in his bathroom? Did he know about all the ways he had pictured Louis wrecking him and fucking him like he was some piece of meat?

 

“Good... afternoon,” Harry murmured, glancing out the window to see the sun well past midday, whilst biting his bottom lip. “How did I get here last night? I don’t remember much after I spectacularly puked on the pretty flowers.”

 

Louis chuckled and folded his newspaper, putting it aside. “There’s coffee in the pot and mugs over the sink. But I see you’ve already made yourself feel at home here,” he chuckled, nodding at Harry’s borrowed clothes. At Harry's embarrassed face, Louis continued with a low chuckle.

 

“I drove you here last night. You were a little drunk. Well, no. You were so drunk you were singing show tunes that I didn’t even know existed before yesterday. I didn’t know where you lived and I couldn’t be arsed waking Perrie up to make her look in the employee records, so I brought you back here,” Louis explained. Harry just gaped at him like a goldfish, blushing. “Don’t worry, nothing happened,” Louis added before Harry could say anything. “I just put you to bed. Though you did insist that I read you Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, for some reason. You fell asleep before I could even finish buying the book on my kindle,” Louis smirked, looking fairly amused.

 

Harry just wanted to ground to open up and swallow him whole. That would be more merciful than this, he was sure of it. With slightly shaky hands, he poured himself some coffee. “Uhm. First of all, I’d just like to say that I’m incredibly sorry. I know you warned me that I shouldn’t make a fool of myself and that’s exactly what I did,” Harry sighed, shaking his head. “It won’t happen again. I mean, you’ll probably never take me on an event like that again so there’s no point of me promising you that, but... y’know. For what it’s worth,” Harry shrugged.

 

Louis blinked a few times before laughing. “Are you kidding me? That was the most entertaining gala I’ve been to in months and I told you yesterday: you're my good luck charm. You made Zayn fucking Malik say yes to modelling for us,” he shook his head. “I don’t know how you did it, but just keep doing it.”

 

Harry awkwardly stood in his kitchen, hunched down into himself and blushing faintly. "But... What if I don't know how I did it either?" he squeaked out nervously. "I was drunk, he was so gorgeous I thought I was talking to an actual Greek statue." Harry paused, chewing on his lower lip and whining quietly to himself. "I honestly have no idea what I said or did, Mr. Tomlinson."

 

"Don't argue, Harry, it's unbecoming," Louis huffed with a faint laugh. "You'll do fine. You've got charm, curls, and a killer smile. I'll take you along to these events, have you on as a more personal assistant, kinda thing. You'll be reporting directly to me from now on, understand?" Louis murmured softly, his eyes soft but decided as pinned his gaze on Harry, making him squirm.

 

"So I'm like, just tagging you around all day now?" Harry asked uncertainly. Louis' grin was quite possibly near evil.

 

"Yup. I say jump, you ask how high. To be frank, Harry, I'm making you my bitch. It's no so bad, though. Significant pay increase, you'll be dressed by my team, fitted and all that, lots of free food and booze-- and you'll be recognized and papped for the first time. Big career step," Louis promised warmly, taking a sip of his coffee and humming contentedly. "Well now, don't just stand there. Scrape your jaw off the floor and help yourself to some breakfast."

 

Harry swallowed thickly and shuffled up to the counter, putting some fancy bread into the toaster and pouring himself some coffee with a vague grimace; he would've much preferred tea or hot lemon water, if he was being honest. Oh well. At least it promised to be a highly expensive roast, in Louis' home, not the swill they peddled in motels and convenience stores. He spread some jam on his toast and carried to the table with his cuppa, having a seat and beginning to eat with a vague grumble. On a normal hangover day, he would've made a massive fry-up, but Harry didn't want to overstep any boundaries.

 

"Once you're finished, you can go home for the day. I'll see you tomorrow bright and early with my usual order. Get something for yourself, too-- you'll now be compensated for whatever you spend on me, LT Limited, or anything work related in the slightest," Louis mentioned, pushing his glasses up and rustling his newspaper as he turned a page. Harry huffed softly and continued to eat, feeling awkward and sticky from the very sweet jam.

 

He called a cab as soon as he was finished his brekkie, a headache beginning to pound at his temples. Once it arrived, he promised to wash the clothes and return them the next day, then scurried out as fast as he possibly could.

 

--

 

Harry knew, logically, that he'd just been abruptly and severely promoted, but it didn't really sink in until the next morning. First off, he suddenly had a parking space, with his bloody initials on it, despite not owning a car. Second, Nick actively expressed interest in him on the lift-- different from his usual eye-fucking if only now the perusing was more respectful but also hungrier-- blathering on about how Zayn was already there and wasn't it sooooo exciting that they'd finally bagged him? Third-- well, he had a desk now. A proper desk, inside of Louis' office, with a shiny, new name tag, top-of-the-line laptop, and a fuckin' vase of flowers.

 

"This is too much," Harry announced helplessly, setting Louis' special coffee down on his desk and sinking into his new, exceedingly comfortable rolling chair. Perrie poked her head in and squeaked.

 

"Jesus, Harry! Are you sure you're not shagging him for all of this?" she asked, glancing at his stuff shrewdly. Harry huffed.

 

"No! Not that I wouldn't love to, but no! All I did was talk Zayn Malik into modeling for us, somehow," he retorted with a faint pout. Perrie's squeak was even louder this time around.

 

"You?! You're the one who convinced him? Bloody hell, Harry! Did you blackmail him or summat?" she demanded. "We've been trying to get him here for ages. You're telling me you did it in one night?"

 

"More like one hour," Harry admitted sheepishly. Perrie whistled.

 

"Impressive. No doubt that's why Louis' suddenly got a leash and treats for you. Interesting, very interesting. Well. Louis and Zayn should be in any minute now, they'll probably talk some designs and get some measurements, yeah? You might need to help model, draw, or articulate any idea or thought Lou has, so don't fuck it up. Cheers, mate!"

 

"Wait, what?" Harry stared after her helplessly until an abrupt wave of Louis' distinctive cologne swept through the room. The two men strode in, Louis shutting the door behind him and then waving his arms dramatically.

 

"I want... Passion, life. Death, sadness. All of it. One collection. I'm thinking suits or male underwear! Thank you, Harry," Louis hummed briskly, spotting his cuppa. "Zayn, Harry; Harry, Zayn. You two already know each other from the gala."

 

Harry summoned up every milliliter of courage in himself and raised his head to smile at Zayn shyly. Somehow it was much harder now that he wasn’t completely wasted and actually knew who Zayn was. "Mr. Tomlinson, how can I help?"

 

Louis grabbed Harry’s shoulders without a warning and steered him to stand in front of Zayn. “Look at him,” he prompted.

 

Harry looked. He wasn’t going to lie, he quite liked what he saw. Zayn was gorgeous, there was no doubt about it. His face was chiseled like a marble statue, his eyelashes long and fanning over his cheeks when he blinked. His tongue was sinful the way he licked his lips. Harry cleared his throat. “I’m looking..? What am I uhm... It would probably help if I knew just what I was looking for,” he murmured.

 

Louis sighed exasperatedly. “Look at him,” he murmured again. “What do you see?”

 

Before Harry could say anything, Louis continued. “Not the pretty face, not the singer or the celebrity. When you look in his eyes, what do you see?”

 

Harry blinked a few times and sighed, going along with Louis’ craziness. “I see… A man?” he murmured.

 

“Yes, good! Go on,” Louis encouraged. Harry couldn’t help but notice that Louis’ hands were still on his shoulders, his touch gentle but still there. It felt like a jolt of electricity at the same time as it was a lifeline, keeping him grounded.

 

“I see... Loneliness,” he murmured. “Lots of creativity. The need to prove that he’s good enough,” Harry said the first things that came to his mind. Judging by the way Louis let out a soft, excited squeak and squeezed his shoulders, he assumed he said something right.

 

“That’s perfect. That’s exactly what I needed,” Louis said, pinching the bridge of his nose as he went to his desk. Louis’ desk was probably one of the messiest Harry had ever seen, but Louis didn’t seem phased by it. He just pushed aside the power bar wrappers and crumpled up paper to reveal his sketch pad that Harry hadn’t even seen under all that clutter.

 

Both Zayn and Harry just stood and stared in slight awe-- Zayn with morbid curiosity like he was watching a reality show, and Harry with admiration. He wanted what Louis had, he wanted that passion, that drive. He could see the fire in Louis’ eyes as his pencil flew across the paper, his tongue sticking out between his lips as he focused. Harry wanted to feel that, he wanted to feel that passion in his veins.

 

A moment later Louis looked up. He turned the pad over to show them what he had sketched in the matter of minutes. It was just a rough draft, but Harry couldn’t help but take a step forward to have a better look. It was rough but already intricately detailed. It looked like the careful outlines of a suit, with a peacoat look to the front, buttoned across to the throat.

 

"See, it's like... It's still a suit, but it's also a jacket, to help keep you warm and guarded. Might even pair it with a scarf," he hummed sweetly, looking happy as he started sketching out more lines. "And we can make it with a vest jacket for warmer temperatures, maybe..." Louis started muttering quietly to himself, and Harry watched with utter fascination on his face.

 

Zayn cleared his throat. "So you want me to model this line for you?"

 

Louis glanced up, pencil graphite smudged across one cheek, glasses perched on the end of his nose. "Huh? Oh yeah, definitely," he confirmed. "And a new underwear line."

 

"What?! Underwear?" Zayn squawked in protest, shaking his head and crossing his arms over his chest with an anxious sound. "Hey, now. No way."

 

"You have to! It's gonna be awesome, I promise you. Like-- the normal boxers, briefs, all that... But I want more than that  stuff. Men's underwear and slightly androgynous stuff? Not necessarily feminine, no, but different, you hear me?" Louis asked pleadingly with a faint frown. "Please?"

 

"No way! I'm sorry, but no." Zayn sighed, scowling slightly and looking unhappy as he started to pace slowly. Louis looked about ready to argue, but the tension was snapped almost audibly as Liam poked his head in the door curiously and frowned.

 

"Hey," he murmured softly, smiling nervously. "Uhm. Well. I have some papers for you, Louis. It’s kinda urgent" Liam handed him a folder and shot Zayn a shy look. If Harry didn’t know better, he’d say that the ‘urgent’ matter was just an excuse for Liam to drop by and oggle Zayn. But he knew enough about Liam to know that the man didn’t have a single bad bone in his body, let alone the ability to lie about anything work related. He had way too much dignity for that, though Harry would give both an arm and a leg just to see Liam call in sick to work one day in order to go out and have some fun.

 

"Hi, I'm a big fan. Love your music, mate," Liam said in a soft voice, almost fawning. Zayn scraped his boot against the carpet for a moment and smiled at him.

 

"Thanks. Well, you may know me... But who're you?" Zayn asked, offering up his hand.

 

"Liam, Liam Payne. A true pleasure," he murmured happily with a big grin, shaking his hand and blushing slightly. Harry was utterly fascinated, honestly. He'd never seen Liam so flustered in his entire month of working there. "So what are you guys working on?"

 

Louis immediately piped up. "Oh! 'M trying to convince Zayn he should agree to model a brand new, metrosexual line of men's underwear," he stated proudly.

 

"Oh really?” Liam squeaked. Harry just stood by the corner and smirked. He knew that look too well. He knew what it looked like when you were trying hard not to picture someone in just their underwear-- or even better, out of it. “You should definitely do it, Zayn! I'm serious, that sounds amazing, doesn't it?" Liam continued, his voice a tad higher pitched than usual.

 

“I... guess?” Zayn muttered, his brows furrowed. “But it’s not really my style. I said yes to modelling for you guys, but no one said anything about an underwear line. Of fucking lace panties,” he groaned.

 

“Metrosexual underwear!” Louis interjected, almost jabbing his pencil in Zayn’s eye with how cross he looked. “Big difference. Not that there is anything wrong with knickers.”

 

Liam’s cheeks were tinted red as he took in a deep breath. “I think you should consider it. It could be very inspiring for a lot of your fans. Not to mention the fact that you’d be known for pushing limits and get a lot of press coverage for how bold and cutting edge you are,” he rattled on, getting more and more confident as he spoke. “You’d be a legend.”

 

“There’s a reason why I have had Liam on my team since the beginning,” Louis smirked.

 

Zayn caught Liam's eyes and they went quiet.

 

"It sounds awesome," Harry murmured from across the room, albeit a little unnecessary as Liam already drove that one home, he realised a little belatedly. "Seriously, I would wear the shit outta that. I swear it."

 

"You would?" Zayn checked with a faint frown. He took a few seconds to think about it. "Okay. I trust you and Liam's opinion. Done. Have your people draft something up and send it, yeah? Call me back when you have some actual prototypes," he promised with a warm grin, giving him a nod and heading out. Liam followed him after a second, clearing his throat.

 

"Good," Louis chuckled once the door clicked shut, turning to Harry. "Very good. That was some heavy chemistry going on. Like animals doing a mating dance," he laughed, shaking his head in amusement before heading over to his desk.

 

Harry edged curiously closer to Louis as the man started to sketch out a pair of knickers, leaving room for a dick and balls. He looked very satisfied, and Harry was already blushing as watched a body come into play. Louis was a pretty great artist, and Harry folded his fingers against his pockets as he eyed a masculine torso and strong thighs, the growing covered by pretty straps and some lace.

 

"That's quite gorgeous," he murmured in obvious admiration, biting his bottom lip and smiling slightly.

 

"Thank you," Louis chuckled, yawning and stretching back in his chair with a concentrated look on his face. "Can you go get me some lunch? A salad or something, I ate way too much at the gala," he sighed. "Very unfortunate."

 

Harry nodded and trotted out, locating the nearest restaurant and getting a Caesar salad to go, along with a burger royale and some chips for himself. He also picked up two bottles of Coke and headed back to the office. He ran into Nick in the lift, and it was the most awkward encounter he'd ever suffered through.

 

"Hi," Harry greeted happily enough, whining as he dropped his wallet. He bent down to scoop it up and then flinched as he felt a hand gently squeeze his left bum cheek. "Uh?" he muttered, grabbing his fumbled item and standing up with a nervous sigh. Harry backed into the corner like a skittish horse. "Don't do that again," he murmured softly, unsure what was going on with Nick at the moment.

 

Nick gripped his chin and forced him to look up. "Don't pretend you didn't like it, babe. I'm sure you'd love a man to just take charge of you."


Harry frowned at him. “Where is this coming from?” he asked, slapping Nick’s hand away.

 

Nick closed the gap between them, stepping even closer while Harry tried to walk backwards until his head hit the metal wall of the lift. “Oh, I thought you were free game. Seeing how you’ve been shagging the boss for that sweet little promotion you got,” Nick sneered.

 

Harry’s jaw dropped at that, his heart racing in his chest as he glanced at the small LED screen at the top of the lift doors that showed which floor they were on. He tapped his foot impatiently, praying for it to go a little faster. “Are you jealous? Is that what this is about? Because I haven’t been doing anything with Louis, and if you want me to put in a good word for you with him--...”

 

Before Harry could finish, Nick interrupted him. “Oh, I’m sure you will try, but I’m not sure how much you’ll get to speak when you’re down on your knees with his cock in your slutty mouth,” he rolled his eyes. “But I can get by just fine without whoring myself out.”

 

“I’m not!” Harry protested weakly. “I just.. All I did was bring in a client. A high profile one, but... yeah,” he sighed. “There’s no reason to be nasty.”

 

“But now that you’re already the office slut, how about you stop by mine for an after-lunch blowie, hm? I can pay you back in kind..." Nick smiled at him with a predatory look on his face.

 

Harry said nothing, stiffening his jaw and shuddering. He pulled himself away and looked down, shivering slightly. He was pretty sure that Nick would take the hint when he quietly shook his hand off. When the doors to the lift opened, Harry got out swiftly and hurried over to Louis' office, taking a moment to compose himself and then walking in. He gave Louis his salad and then sat his own desk.

 

He was still slightly rattled from what happened in the lift, but he tried to push it away and focus on Louis. Right before he started eating, he glanced over at Louis, watching him listlessly pick his salad. Smiling, Harry stood up and walked over, swapping his food with his own. "Hey. No worries," he promised softly. "I like Caesar salad after all."

 

"Are you sure?" Louis look guilty. "You really needn't do that, I'm just not really in a bunny food mood." He was already half salivating as he stared at Harry's burger, licking his lips.

 

"Yes, I'm sure." Harry grinned and took the salad back to his own desk. They ate in companionable silence, occasionally interrupted by the scratching of Louis' pencil. When Harry went over to collect trash, he was more than pleased to see Louis had polished off every bite.

 

Somebody had to take care of the boss, after all.

 

--

 

The days and nights that followed, Harry couldn't stop himself from thinking about Louis.

 

He saw him every day at the office, would find himself staring at him when Louis was busy drawing or sewing. He admired the fact that Louis insisted on making all the prototypes of his new designs himself, though he could easily make someone else do it for him. Louis argued that no one else was competent enough to put his flawless designs to life, that he was the only one who could get it just the way he wanted it. Harry just nodded and sighed happily, glad that he got to watch the way Louis's eyes got all squinty when he focused on getting the seams just right on the sewing machine.

 

He helped out when he could, pitching ideas when Louis asked for them and helping Louis decide when he was torn between two fabrics that looked the exact same to the naked eye. Louis’ eye for detail what part of what made him famous in the first place. But his most important task was to take care of Louis. That included but did not limit to making sure that he was well hydrated and fed, even if it meant hand-peeling apples and cutting them into small cubes for him.

 

“Harreh?” Louis called for him just as Harry walked in carrying a steaming cup of tea and a paper bag filled with baked treats.

 

“I’m here! Just went out to get you some sugar. You’ve been sitting by that desk all day,” Harry sighed, placing the food and drink in Louis’ grabby hands.

 

“Yeah yeah, come look at this,” Louis smiled, spreading the sheets of paper out on his desk so that the sketches were lined up next to each other. Harry walked around the huge mahogany table to have a better look. He stood behind Louis, leaning over his shoulder as his lips parted in an inaudible gasp.

 

“Oh my!” Harry whispered, his lips only inches from Louis’ ear. “That looks gorgeous, sir! Wow, just really.. wow. You’ve really outdone yourself,” he smiled. He reached over the table, his fingertips tracing the elegant strokes of pencil on the paper, trying not to smudge anything. “I would kill to wear this.”

 

Fashion had always been Harry’s passion, ever since he was a young teen and knew what style of expression was. It took him some time to really learn, and he firmly believed that you could never be done learning either, but in his late teens he was salivating over YSL boots and Alexander McQueen jeans. But he didn’t dream of designing them the way Louis did. He admired Louis’ ability to make something beautiful out of nothing, but Harry’s true passion was to wear those beautiful creations and strut down the catwalk with a million flashing lights illuminating him as thousands of people stared.

 

“I have some prototypes ready, if you wanted to look at it on the mannequins. Actually,” Louis frowned, looking over his shoulder at Harry. He eyed him up and down a few times. “You’re almost Zayn’s height. You should put on a pair or two to see how if looks so I can make any adjustments I need to before he comes in to try the collection.”

 

Harry gulped nervously. “You want me to try them on? Don’t you have proper models for that?”

 

“Do I not own a fashion house?” Louis deadpanned with an unamused glare. “Of course I have models! But if I wanted a polished model, I wouldn’t have wanted to work with Zayn Malik! I want the rawness, the unedited passion. The fire,” Louis continued, balling his hand in a fist as he punctuated every word with a soft growl. “I want it to be fresh. And you’re as fresh as a drop of morning dew on a blade of grass,” he added with a smile. “You’ll do.”

 

Gulping, Harry fiddled with his fringe nervously and then made his way towards the prototypes, glancing over them and gulping. Lot of lace. Strings in places he wouldn't have thought of. Nice colors, blacks, whites, a couple of blue, purple, and red. He liked the look of what he saw, that was for sure. What really caught his eyes was a pretty pair of seafoam green ones, cut in the style of boxer briefs that were typically found in the women's section, very short for the cheeks to peek out. There was a simple, opaque lace pouch for the dick to go, with gentle ribbons on it, like a corset,

 

Harry instantly was drawn to it. Looking back at Louis, who was very busy scribbling, he carefully shed his clothes, leaving them in a neatly-folded pile on the closest table. He took a deep breath, swearing he could feel eyes on him-- but when he glanced back, Louis was still buried in his work. Swallowing, Harry slid the pants off the mannequin and wiggled into them.

 

He refused to even glance at the mirror, marching up to Louis and puffing his chest up. "'M ready, please hurry, it's a bit chilly in here," he grumbled darkly. Louis glanced up, gaze landing directly on Harry's nipples, which made him immediately, self-consciously cross his arms and wait anxiously. So he had puffy nips, hard from the cold air. It wasn't that big of a deal, he thought to himself, huffing. 

 

Louis' eyes slid down lower after being glued to his covered chest for a moment. Harry waited anxiously, hardly daring to breathe. He heard Louis exhale slowly, watching his knuckles tighten on a pencil and nearly snap it. Nasty habit of Louis', always breaking his writing utensils.

 

"It's stunning. I need to adjust the hips a little, should only take a mo', but otherwise... Simply gorgeous," Louis murmured, sounding a bit breathless. Harry dared to preen a little. Louis approached him with his typical sewing tray: needle, thread, tape measure, small scissors, and pins. "Hold still, I don't want to prick you."

 

Harry held as statuesque as possible, feeling his breaths more intimately as his diaphragm expanded and contracted, abdomen muscles rippling gently. Louis' hands, usually so deft and skilled, touched his hip and Harry felt their slight quiver and shake. He glanced down to see Louis casually on one knee, crouched and doing something with the seam on his right hip.

 

Louis fussed with the fabric a little, pushing his glasses up his nose and blinking rapidly, a bit of sweat at his temples. He swallowed hard enough to make his Adam's Apple bob, sewed a little, and switched to the other hip, doing the same thing.

 

"Stay still. I... I need to adjust the cock pouch a bit," Louis ordered, his voice sounding slightly frayed and reedy. Harry frowned but obediently and placidly stood still for him, clasping his hands behind his back and measuring his breathing curiously. "Don't jump," came Louis' mutter as strong fingers suddenly cupped his dick and the other hand quickly fixed some issues with the lace.

 

Harry completely stopped breathing, all the air escaping his lungs as he felt Louis, the fingers he'd been dreaming about, lightly holding his cock. He fought savagely with his arousal, putting it in its place and clenching his fists as he valiantly fought off the half-chub that desperately wanted to form. He exhaled noisily when Louis gently released him, shivering violently and wondering if he imagined the slight, possessive stroke his shaft had been given as Louis pulled away.

 

"All done?" Harry asked, near wincing at how gravelly his voice had gotten.

 

"Yeah," Louis murmured, seemingly very distracted as he shuffled random papers around his work station and stared resolutely down. "You can change back. We're done for today, feel free to go home a bit early." He sounded a bit hoarse himself, still, but Harry shrugged it off and swiftly replaced his clothes.

 

As he locked up his drawers in his desk and gathered his keys and coat, Harry decided to go confront the sexual tension he was quite sure had just occurred between Louis and himself; he felt positive it would be good to air out the dirty laundry and set the record straight. Smiling, Harry headed back towards Louis in the prototype room, the words to invite him out to dinner perched hopefully on the tip of his tongue.

 

He could feel his heart pounding against his chest as though it was trying to escape from his body. He wiped his sweaty palms on his trousers and cleared his throat a little, not wanting his voice to sound squeaky when he asked Louis out. With his hand resting on the doorknob, he took a deep breath to muster whatever ounce of courage he had in his body to give him the strength to do this without backing off at the last second.

 

Brushing his fringe away from his forehead, Harry flung the door open.

“Sir--... Louis, I was just--...” Harry stopped in his tracks.

 

He couldn’t get a single word out, not when Louis was pressed against the wall by another man, their lips pressed together. Louis was moaning, his hips bucking against the hand stuck down his pants that was slowly palming his cock. “Fuck... Aiden,” Louis whispered, his head thrown back in pleasure with his eyes closed. Aiden nipped at Louis’ exposed neck and Harry slapped a hand over his mouth to stifle a gasp.

 

 

Chapter Text

Harry was still shaking when he got home, barely able to fit his key in the keyhole and turn it around. He couldn’t remember how he even got there. The entire ride home was just a blur, and all he could see was the image of Louis and Aiden kissing in Louis’ office. The office that he shared with Louis, the office where he was supposed to work.

He dropped his keys in the bowl next to his door and slumped down on the couch, staring blankly at the wall in front of him. He actually thought he had a chance with Louis. He thought they had been flirting or at least that there was some spark between them that could lead to something someday. Realistically he knew that Louis would probably have rejected him if he had asked him out. He would probably have said something about how it was unprofessional of them to date when Harry was his secretary, or that he didn’t have time to date right now with everything going on in his life, and the new collection he was working on. Even that would have been better, he would have a reason that he could have pretended wasn’t personal.

But watching Louis kissing someone else, knowing that someone else got to touch him, caress him, kiss him... that was eating away at Harry and he had had no idea how he was supposed to pretend to be okay with that. He couldn’t believe he had been so stupid as to think he had a chance. Of course Louis would never go for someone like him. Not when he had celebrities like Aiden fucking Grimshaw at his beck and call, apparently. But Aiden wasn’t the one who was there when Louis needed him for the gala, Harry thought to himself bitterly. He wasn’t the one who secured the deal with Zayn. That was all Harry. Harry was the one who showed up, Harry was the one who was there for Louis when Aiden bailed on him.

Harry pulled out his phone to call someone, a friend, maybe. Someone who would let him rant without judging him for it, someone who would show up with a tub of ice cream and let him cry on their shoulder. But the first thing he saw on his phone screen was a text from Louis asking him where he was.

Harry couldn’t bring himself to reply to it. He just made sure that pesky notification went away and dialled the one number he knew by heart.

“Mum?” he whispered, his voice shaking.

“Harry? Harry, is that you? Do you have a cold?” Anne answered cheerfully.

“Uh.. Yeah,” Harry murmured. It was way easier to lie than to tell her the truth.

“Is everything alright, dear?”

“Yeah, yeah! It’s great!” Harry chimed, trying to act cheerful, but it sounded awful even to his own ears.

“Yeah?”
“It’s great working at LT Limited. Louis--...” his voice broke a little. “Louis is a great boss. He’s got me working with him on this new collection we’re developing with Zayn Malik.” He tried to sound enthusiastic, but he couldn’t stop sounding flat. It was so weird to think about how he had been so excited about working with Louis just hours ago. How he thought himself to be so privileged to be working with one of the best brains in fashion.

“Baby, are you alright?” Anne sighed. “I can tell when something is wrong, you know? Call it mother’s intuition, if you must. So tell me what’s wrong.”

“Nothing! It’s all fine, mum!”

“Harry...”

Harry took a deep breath. “Everything,” he muttered in a tiny voice. “Everything is just wrong.”

A soft sigh was heard on the other end of the phone, followed by a supportive hum. “Honey, it’s going to be alright. Tell me what happened.”

“I--... I might have uhm... There was this guy,” Harry murmured, biting his bottom lip. He didn’t want to tell her who. It was embarrassing to even think that he believed he had a chance with a guy like Louis, let alone admit it out loud.

“Oh dear,” Anne murmured. “Does he know?”

“I was gonna tell him,” Harry whispered. “But he already has someone else, mum,” he sniffed. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.”

“How much do you like this guy?” Anne asked.

“A lot. He’s perfect.”

“Okay...” Anne murmured. “Well, if it’s meant to be then it’ll happen, love. One way or another,” she told him in a calm voice.

“How do you know that?” Harry huffed in disbelief. The idea of eternal love and love that was meant to be seemed like a pretty foreign concept at the moment.

“Because love always finds a way. If you are meant to be with him, it’ll all work out. Just wait and see,” she smiled.

“Soulmates don’t exist, mum,” Harry muttered bitterly.

“Harry,” Anne sighed. “You don’t mean that. Baby, you force me to watch Love Actually with you every Christmas morning and when you were younger we couldn’t pass a single daisy without you muttering ‘he loves me, he loves me not’ under you breath,” she laughed.

“I was a kid,” Harry protested. “Maybe I’ve learned that things are different in the real world. You don’t always get your prince charming. Sometimes you go to the ball and find your prince charming snogging some other… other charlatan!”

“... You would sleep with a mirror under your pillow so you would dream of your soulmate. Until you were fifteen!” Anne continued, chuckling fondly. “Baby, if he is the one for you, you just have to be patient. Something will happen, I promise. Something will allow you to be with him.”

“Something will happen,” Harry repeated under his breath. “Something will happen…”

Cogs started turning in his head and it didn’t take long before a plan started forming in his mind. “Thanks, mum! Send Robin all my love and if you talk to her, tell Gemma to return my calls!” Harry said quickly and hung up. He clutched his phone to his chest, a small smile starting to form on his lips. If it was meant to be, something will happen. Something will happen to make Louis realise that he was really supposed to be with Harry. Maybe... Just maybe, Harry could make that something happen…

---

Harry outlined a plan:
1. Isolate Aiden and Louis.
2. Make Louis realize he's too good for Aiden.
3. Support Louis in his emotional time.
4. Date Louis.
5. Marriage and children and happily ever after.

It was a simple list, but Harry was very proud of it. He wasn't just doing this for himself either-- Aiden genuinely seemed like a bit of a dick, especially since he'd blown Louis off at his big charity gala.

He launched his plan on Monday at work, sending Louis flowers from 'Aiden' but making them daisies, which he knew for a fact Louis was allergic to. Harry had brought one in to brighten up his desk once, and Louis had sniffled the whole day. Smirking evilly, he watched as Louis accepted the delivery, immediately sneezing into his pocket handkerchief.

But-- no. Louis was smiling at the little note, and put them on the corner of his desk. What?

"Louis! Aren't you allergic to daisies?" Harry demanded with a frown.

"Yeah, but I'll take a pill for it. I can't believe he got me flowers! He never does shit like this." Louis looked so happy, staring at his case and beaming.

Harry ate lunch out, fuming quietly the rest of the day.

---

His next attempts were slightly more thought out. He wasn’t going to end up with his plan backfiring on him again.

Harry googled Louis, asked around the office, and even bribed Perrie with chocolates to get the best intel on Louis' do's and don'ts.

He started showing up early, with extra whip on Louis' coffee order, a buttery croissant, and a couple of rivals' magazines. He brought Louis roses --and this time he made sure Louis knew the flowers were from him-- , he brought him his favorite foods for lunch, and always had an extra pencil and sketch paper on him for Louis' convenience.

Louis seemed not to notice how absolutely perfect Harry was being, or maybe he just didn't care. Harry still found him texting Aiden, answering his calls, and leaving the office early for date nights.

Harry upped the ante.

“Mr. Payne?” Harry knocked on Liam’s office door with a sweet smile, holding a box of cupcakes in his other hand.

Liam waved him in and Harry placed the box of treats on his desk.

“You know that you can call me Liam, Harry,” Liam frowned, eyeing the cupcakes a little suspiciously. Harry noted that it was a little harder to get Liam all buttered up than Perrie.

“I’m sorry Mr. Pay--... I mean, Liam,” Harry flashed him a winning smile and pushed the box towards him. “Here, help yourself.”

Liam chose a chocolate fudge cupcake and carefully unwrapped it. “How can I help you?”

“I was just wondering...” Harry cut to the chase, sitting on the chair across from Liam with his legs cross and his hands perched on his knees. “What kind of places does Louis like to eat at? Like does he have a favourite restaurant?” he hummed.

“Why do you want to know?” Liam asked.
“Oh, I’m just planning a surprise for him!” Harry replied quickly. “Y’know, for his birthday,” he frantically searched his mind for an excuse.

“... You know that his birthday is in December, right? That’s months away.”

Oh crap. Harry tried to remain as calm as possible. “Excuse me, Mr. Payne, but I prefer to have important things set up early so I don’t have to scramble at the last minute to get everything organised. I thought you of all people would understand that,” he huffed, pulling the words out of his arse.

“Bullshit,” Liam snorted. “Why don’t you tell me what this is really about?”

Harry sighed. He had been so sure that this would actually work. “I just want to surprise him,” he murmured, blushing a little. “And I need your help.”

“Listen Harry, if this is about getting a promotion, I have to tell y--...”

“It’s not about a promotion,” Harry muttered. “How about I give you something in return, hm?” he tried a different angle, plastering on a sweet smile that turned more and more genuine the more he realised how brilliant his plan really was.

“I can get you private pictures of Zayn trying out our new prototypes,” Harry winked.

“And why on earth would I be interested in that?” Liam muttered. Harry didn’t fail to notice the way his fingers twitched a little before he clenched his fist.

Harry smirked, tucking a strand of hair behind his ear. “Pictures of Zayn trying out the underwear,” he said in a faux whisper.

Liam visibly winced before shaking his head. “I still don’t get your point.”

Harry sighed dramatically, stretching his arms. “Fine, have it your way. I’ll just email you the pics. And if you manage to not open the email and look at the photos, I’ll rest my case,” he smiled and left Liam’s office.

Within the hour, there was a post it note from Liam waiting on his desk with Louis’ favourite restaurant name scribbled on it.

The rest was painfully simple. He told Perrie the secret to getting his curls that shiny in exchange for her to give Aiden the wrong address, and went to Andrew Edmunds in place of him. Harry creepily sat at his own table, hiding behind a menu, as Louis grew increasingly frustrated at himself being stood up. It was painful for Harry to watch but he knew he had to do it. It was for the greater good, he told himself.

Louis tried to text and call Aiden multiple times, but Harry had changed his number to Perrie's in Louis' mobile and promised her take-out in return for not answering. After thirty minutes, he could sense Louis had just about reached his breaking point; his bottle of wine was half gone, all of the breadsticks were either in his tummy or ripped apart on his plate and savagely stabbed by a butter knife, and he was eyeing his phone and the glass of water like drowning it might be the best idea he'd had in a very long while.

That was when Harry decided to fake that he'd just showed up and noticed Louis all alone. He stood up, snuck to the loo, fixed his curls, checked there was nothing in his teeth, and straightened his clothes before heading out and casually walking Louis' way.

"Oh, hello Lou--" Harry was in the middle of greeting him when he found himself tripping over a white pitbull puppy. He stumbled, skidded, and went down hard with a groan, scraping up his hands and knees. "Ow, fucking shit!" he growled, standing up wobbly. He didn’t even know that the restaurant allowed dogs.

"Sorry about that! Snowflake didn't mean it," the woman at the table cooed, pulling her puppy towards her and waving apologetically at Harry.

"No worries," he promised shyly. Harry cleared his throat and turned over to Louis, smiling charmingly before it fell. Louis was staring at him in confusion, and he suddenly felt supremely self-conscious.

"Is-- what? What's wrong?" Harry asked, patting himself down and huffing.

"You. Uh. Why are you here?" Louis asked slowly while biting his bottom lip and staring at Harry.

"I was gonna go to dinner with Perrie but she had to cancel last second. What about you?" Harry hummed. Louis' face closed off.

"Nobody. They aren't coming, clearly... Did you maybe want to join me?" Louis asked with a faint smile. "No reason we shouldn't eat even if our dinner dates didn't show." He grabbed his glass of wine and gulped half of it down, and Harry quietly cheered in his head. Fuck yeah. He grabbed a seat and plopped down, looking pleased.

"Also, I didn't want to say when half the restaurant was staring at us," Louis murmured. "But you've got dog piss on your knees." Harry looked down, and blushed as he realized they were wet.

"Oh fuck," he blurted and groaned. Stupid Snowflake. But even with dog piss on his pants, he couldn’t bring himself to get proper mad at the dog.

"It's alright, I'll let you use the company to dry clean it later," Louis sighed. "Anyways..."

Harry was going to strike up a conversation, maybe turn it into harmless flirting-- but the waiter was back before he could. Louis ordered veal, while Harry got the salmon.

"Alright," Louis hummed. "And another bottle, if that's alright," he indicated the now empty bottle as he poured Harry a glass. The waiter took their menus, and then Harry started sipping at his glass.

"So... Who were you going to meet here?" Harry dared to prod, even though he knew.

"Aiden," Louis answered shortly, eyes dark as he played with his glass and stared at the table broodingly.

"Oh," Harry responded, subdued. "Well. Fuck him. I'm more charming anyways, right?" he asked with a slightly playful smile, trying to cheer him up. It seemed to work and Louis seemed to warm up a little bit, his smile a little less forced.

"Yeah," he hummed, smiling faintly at him as his shoulders loosened up visibly. "You're pretty charming, curly. Nice outfit, a little posh even for this place, but you look good." Louis perked up visibly as the waiter came by with more breadsticks, grabbing one and digging in with a happy groan. "Man, my nutritionist told me to watch my carbs, but I need it today."

Harry took a breadstick of his own, watching Louis enjoy his with a slight grin. His boss really, truly enjoyed food, and life, in an unbridled sort of way. Harry was so utterly fond of him, it made him feel almost embarrassed on his behalf.

"Zayn liked the prototypes?" Harry asked, initiating a new conversation. "He decided to sign onto the entire line, didn't he?"

"Yeah! He loved it, and he looked pretty good in the underwear too," Louis chuckled. "Almost as good as you." Louis' face suddenly went blank, and he quickly shut his mouth. Harry's heart leapt into his throat.

"Well, ah, thank you," Harry giggled, turning pink. Maybe there was some hope for him.

"Sorry, I'm kinda drunk. Aiden hasn't even returned any of my calls or texts, ugh, bastard." Louis tightened his hands, knuckles whitening around his wine glass. "But it's fine. I'll deal with it later."

Harry and Louis chatted mostly about work to start, before Harry casually steered the conversation towards Louis' personal life. Harry didn’t come here to discuss the future of Tommo Limited, after all. Since he was tipsy, and growing increasingly red-cheeked, Harry managed to find out that Louis had siblings-- all younger, a cat named Chairman Meow, and his absolute favorite film of all time was Grease.

Their dinner arrived in the middle of a heated debate about which brand of tea was the best-- for some reason Louis thought the swill Yorkshire was peddling was amazing. Harry loved the food, and he actually asked the waiter the secret to their almond and mandarin salad-- it turned out to be caper seasoning.

They finished a bottle of wine between them, and then ordered cheesecake for dessert-- although Louis insisted on one sweet and two spoons, complaining it would go right to his thighs.

Louis took the last bite for himself, accidentally smearing some chocolate on the corner of his mouth. Harry debated for an agonizing second, then reached over and carefully used his thumb to wipe it away, popping it into his mouth and blushing a little bit. Louis was staring at him, his pupils blown, and Harry found himself subconsciously leaning forwards, towards Louis's light. He felt like a flower starving for the sun.

Just when they seemed to be eyeing each other up, Louis startled out of his reverie, his mobile going off. He pulled it out and then blinked like he was in a daze, shaking himself off and sighing.

"It's Aiden's number? I don't know why it's not showing up as his name, but I should take this. Here, I'll pay for dinner. Thanks for tonight-- I'll see you next week." Louis put down a couple of notes and then stood up and went outside, waving goodbye to Harry.

Sighing, Harry pushed his plate away and briefly smushed his face into his hands. Fuck.

---

Things were a little different Monday morning. To start, Louis dumped his daisies-- finally-- and put the vase away, getting a little desktop tank and a pretty, purple betta fish. He let Harry name it Fishy Mercury, much to his delight.

He had a new vigor for work, too. He spent most of the morning sketching, and when he stopped for lunch he was grinning and had graphite smudges on his hands.

"You seem to have a skip in your step, Lou," Harry chuckled warmly. "What's the occasion?" he asked curiously.

Louis grinned and scraped a hand through his hair. "Well, trade secrets, y'know. But, Aiden agreed to move in with me! He's never, ever seemed to want to take things further in our relationship, and he's finally agreeing to do this for me." He smiled shyly. "So. Yeah. Sorry if it seems like I'm walking on clouds. My mum is gonna be so happy," he murmured with a low sigh, feeding Fishy Mercury.

Harry swallowed. "Oh, I see. That's pretty exciting. Is the fish practice before getting a puppy?" he joked with a soft chuckle. He was pretty devastated internally, but he couldn't honestly begrudge anything that made Louis so happy he smiled like the sun.

"Hey, hey. Aiden... Aiden doesn't want kids," he murmured, suddenly subdued. Harry felt like kicking himself.

"Is that-- is that a problem?" he asked quietly.

Louis heaved a sigh. "Well. A little. I've wanted kids since I was nineteen. I love babies, and I can't truly say I'll be happy without even bringing up children at some point in the near future. But, y'know-- baby steps. Heh."

Harry nodded in respectful silence. "He might change his mind. Well, I hope that works out for you," he hummed sweetly. "Really. Let me know if you wanna talk about it," he murmured quietly. "Okay?"

Louis grinned at him and stretched out, cracking his spine and yawning. "Yeah, I appreciate it, Harry. Thank you, well and truly. Now go get me some lunch," he teased, urging Harry out the door.

Harry returned with new flowers-- lilies-- and a bunch of Indian takeaway. He sprayed the room with air freshener and made sure Louis ate every last bite of his chicken tikka masala. Busy boss like him had to keep his strength up, after all.

He came across something funny on Louis' desk though-- a receipt from Astley Clarke for a diamond ring. His stomach dropped.

--

Harry floated between panic and being numb, like his mind and body couldn’t decide what the best way to react was. A part of him wanted to scream at the thought of Louis marrying Aiden while another part of him just wanted to give up right away. The rational part of him tried reasoning that the ring might not be an engagement ring, that it could literally be anything else. But why would anyone buy a diamond ring if they didn’t plan on proposing? Besides, Louis had been talking about moving in with him. Oh god. Harry tried taking deep breaths, counting down from ten like Gemma taught him how to. Fuck fuck fuck. Louis wasn’t allowed to get married. Not to Aiden. Not if Harry could do something about it.

Since he couldn’t just go out and ask Louis about it without exposing himself and admitting that he had seen the ring, he had to guess when Louis had planned to propose. Knowing Louis, he knew that it had to be somewhere grand where he could make a bit of a scene and get some attention in the process. So probably Aiden’s favourite restaurant. Only Harry had no idea what Aiden’s favourite restaurant was and he knew he couldn’t bribe Liam with pictures of Zayn this time.

Harry did the first thing that came to mind and went on his computer. As Louis’ secretary he had access to all of his calendars. Now all he had to do was look for some sort of irregularity. Something that stood out, something Louis normally wouldn’t do. He looked through all the slots and ignored all the blue and green parts where he knew Louis had meetings, blue being meetings with clients and green was for meetings with his own employees. He noticed a few pink slots where he had scheduled lunches and dinners with friends, complete with whom it was and the location. Suddenly he came across a pink space where Louis had only written the location and the time. It wasn’t a restaurant that he had ever heard Louis talk about, so he knew it wasn’t one of his favourites. When Harry googled the place, he found that it was one of the hip and trendy places where celebrities tended to frequent, apparently. Voila. Harry jotted down the place and the date on his planner.

As the day came closer, Harry still had no idea what to do. He tried thinking of something that would make Louis not want to marry Aiden, something that could stop this whole madness but he was coming up blank.

“Daydreaming, Styles?” Perrie asked, stirring cream into her coffee as she stared at Harry. Only them did Harry notice that he had been standing by the coffee machine for the last five minutes without even moving, completely lost in his thoughts.

“Just a little stressed, that’s all,” he sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose.

“And does that have anything to do with the major crush you have on Louis, hm?” Perrie smirked.

“I do not!” Harry winced.

“Keep lying to yourself, love,” Perrie just rolled her eyes and patted his cheek. Harry found it a little patronising and swatted her hand away.
“Seriously, if he wasn’t gay, I would have tried to get some myself,” she shrugged. “There is nothing wrong with wanting to get with your boss.”

Harry sighed and poured Louis his tea before walking away from her. He had started walking a longer route from the coffee machine to Louis’ office just to minimize his chances of running into Nick. He hadn’t spoken to him since the awful encounter in the lift, not for the lack of trying on Nick’s part. Harry just turned on his heels and walked the other way when he saw Nick and purposefully avoided walking by his desk or even anywhere Nick usually hung out in the office. He ate most of his lunches by his desk instead of the break room. But that was nice anyway, since it gave him more time to spend with Louis.

When the day arrived, Harry still had no plan whatsoever. The best idea he had was to call the restaurant and say there was a bomb threat so they would evacuate everyone, and even that was stupid and completely unacceptable behaviour. Plus rude, and illegal. He'd rather not get arrested.

It was a Sunday so he didn’t even have any work to distract him. As the minutes ticked by and his panic levels only raised steadily thinking about how it could already be too late, Harry jumped into a cab and rushed to the restaurant.

“Louis!” Harry almost shouted as he barged in, pushing past waiters who wanted to know if he had a reservation or not, kindly trying to tell him that it was full and he had to leave if he didn’t have a reservation. “I’m--... I’m here with my boss, Louis Tomlinson? He’s here somewhere--... It was on his calendar..” He realised just how insane he sounded as he said that out loud. The waiters traded looks.

“Louis?!” Harry called out again, scanning the floor for Louis’ familiar hair. He couldn’t find him immediately, which got his hopes up that maybe Louis wasn’t there. Maybe he changed his mind and wasn’t going to propose anymore. But then he heard a soft “Harry?” and he turned his head so fast he got whiplash.

When he finally spotted him, his jaw dropped. Louis was there, alright. Only he wasn’t there with Aiden, he was there with a woman who looked old enough to be his mother.

“What on earth are you doing here?” Louis asked, getting up from his seat.

Harry blushed, gaping like a fish and he glanced between Louis and the woman. The ring box from Astley Clarke was on the table and the ring was… on the lady’s hand. Oh, fuck.

“I-- uh... I was just passing by?” he muttered lamely.

“And you thought you’d just walk in and scream for me?” Louis asked skeptically. “Harry, what’s going on?” he sighed.

“Can we please... not talk about this now?” Harry whimpered, pleading with his eyes. “You’ve got company.”

“Oh yeah, have you met my mother? Harry, this is my mum Johannah. Mum, this is Harry, the secretary I was telling you about,” Louis introduced them.

Harry shook her hand, wishing not for the first time since he got the job at Tommo Limited that the ground would swallow him whole and save him from this misery. “Mother... Of course,” he deadpanned. “Oh gosh, I’m terribly sorry. I’ll just leave you two alone,” he muttered, quickly stepping away. “Mrs. Tomlinson, it was very lovely to meet you. I’m so sorry about all of this, I promise I’m not usually like this. It was all a huge misunderstanding,” he promised her, praying that this was not the impression his (hopeful) future mother-in-law would be stuck with of him for the rest of forever. If he was going to marry her son one day, it was vital that she didn’t think he was a total nut job.

“First of all, it’s Mrs. Deakin, but you can call me Jay,” Johannah seemed amused by the whole thing, smirking. “And I insist that you join us, dear,” she hummed and called a waiter over, asking if they could arrange an extra chair and plating for Harry.

"Uh?" Harry mumbled a bit helplessly, looking from Jay's sweet smile to Louis' broad smirk.

"It's me mum's birthday. I take her out for lunch every year," Louis said, rolling his eyes faintly as Harry half-collapsed into his chair with a weak groan.

"Well." He nibbled anxiously on his bottom lip. "Happy Birthday! I would've baked you a cake; I wish I'd known." Oh yeah, he definitely wished he'd known. Harry could've saved himself an almost infinite amount of embarrassment and heartache over this stunt. God, he was a fucking moron.

"Nonsense, I don't need a cake, I've got enough trouble keeping off the baby weight," she chuckled softly, sipping from her glass. "Boo was just telling me about how you got Zayn Malik to model for the company!" Jay complimented with a grin aimed at Harry, whom relaxed a slight bit more.

"Boo?" Harry teased, relaxing and shaking his head with a low, fond chuckle.

"That's Louis' nickname, Boo Bear, that is. Has been since he was little," Jay explained with a slight smirk on her face, as Louis grumbled and sipped at his drink, distinctly grumpy-looking. Oopsie.

"Mine has always been Hazza," Harry contributed to the conversation, smiling as he gave a nod to Louis, who shot a grin back, a little less cranky now that the talk had been turned away from his childhood.

"That's cute. I like it a lot. Hazza. Hazzie. Haz. I can get behind that," Louis teased him, and Harry his his huge grin into his drink shyly. “I do quite like Harold, though,” Louis added.

"So... I'm guessing you didn't think Louis was on a dinner date with lil' old me?" Jay interjected, shaking her head fondly and looking at the two of them slyly. Harry just stared at her, turning pink, and refused to even open his mouth to say a peep. Louis rolled his eyes.

"Harry's a bit silly even at the best of times, although he is an excellent executive assistant. He's the reason I haven't accidentally lost a stone, or set the office on fire by leaving something in the microwave."

Harry almost questioned the last but, but Louis' stony expression told him it was a story he wasn't exactly eager to retell. Another time, then.

"But I thought that you were still with Aiden?" Jay asked of her son, who snorted.

"I am. He's gonna be moving in with me, actually, mum!" Louis smiled at her, and Jay slowly nodded with a faint frown.

They chatted amicably about nothing until the appetizer-- fresh and delicious bruschetta-- and salads arrived. Harry gave half of his dressing to Louis on autopilot, like he did every time they got 'rabbit food' for lunch, and didn't even realize it until he noticed Jay staring at him curiously. His face heated up but he determinedly ignored it.

The main courses came not long after they'd finished nibbling up their leafy greens, all that was left of the bruschetta being crumbs and a few smears of tomato. Harry and Louis swapped half of their dishes-- like they always did for Chinese or Indian takeaway-- and Harry felt the weight of Jay's judgement and curiosity this time like a physical entity.

"Delicious," he sighed, patting his belly after they'd chewed down and finished up. "Lord, that was good." Harry stacked up his plates neatly, then fixed and fussed with the table to make it neater, tutting fondly and teasingly scolding Louis for spilling some salad dressing on the nice, high-thread-count table cloth. Louis laughed, called him a twat, and flicked a piece of shredded cheese at him good humoredly. Harry saw Jay's mouth open from the corner of his eye, a frustrated and questioning look on her face.

"Hope you saved room for dessert," the waiter interrupted smoothly, passing out three smaller menus. Harry was fucking grateful, he was. Jay asking anything about their relationship might snap the fragile but mutual understanding between Louis and him that they weren't an item in the slightest despite acting like an old, married couple. Some not so small part of Harry wondered if Louis ever picked up their tension. He thought not; Louis wasn't cruel enough of a person to lead him on, he hoped. Especially just for a silky assistant position. Louis could hire a new one in approximately five seconds flat. A lot of people would kill for his job, Harry knew. Not to mention that Louis was still painfully unavailable.

He was shook from his reverie by Louis ordering for all three of them, unabashed and confident as he selected carrot cake for his mum, a tiramisu and espresso for himself, and a creme brûlée for Harry. He had to admit, Louis was right; it was totally what he would've ordered on his own, and Jay looked pretty satisfied with her son's choice as well.

"Guess I made a coffee lad out of you, yet, huh?" Harry teased his boss, grinning and chuckling as Louis just rolled his eyes and scoffed.

"You know I love my macchiatos," Louis huffed. "And Yorkshire tea. It just so happens I had an espresso at Zayn's last week, and I was so awake and inspired at three am, I designed an entire suit with a cape. Yes. A cape. It was horrible, and truly flawed so I trashed it immediately with disgust. But still, inspiration!" Louis was just smiling now, and Harry couldn't hold back a laugh at his story either, and even Jay cracked a huge grin at the last sentence.

"Well. Caffeine-induced nightmares and stress dreams are a thing, too, so just be careful with your dosages," Harry teased warmly, although there was some slight concern ringing his words. He knew Louis often had trouble sleeping, even medicated occasionally for it, and espressos with dinner would likely not help. Maybe he should sneakily start making all of Louis' drink orders caffeine-free. He was mildly positive Louis' sleep schedule might just thank him for it.

"Nonsense," Louis grumbled, but Harry saw a slight tint of worry in his eyes, wrinkling his brow. Good. Maybe Louis himself would reconsider his caffeine intake, and Harry would hardly have to ninja sneak anything. Not that he was exactly good at that in the first place-- too clumsy and gangly as a newborn deer trying to walk on ice. He'd fallen so many times in the office that people stopped coming to check on the noise, just recognizing it as Harry taking a fall, instead.

"Louis always had been a menace at bedtime," Jay giggled, sending Harry a playful wink. Oh yeah.

Dessert came, and Harry dug in with a happy sigh, looking over as Jay gasped in surprise. Something silver glinted obviously on top of her carrot cake.

"Really, Louis? Matching earrings hidden in the frosting? You're a menace; I'll have to wash these thoroughly, and I hope you did before they were stuck on top of my dessert," she giggled, setting them to the side in a napkin and digging in. Harry shook his head fondly and kept eating.

The check came, and Harry swallowed as he reached for his wallet; he may have gotten a significant pay increase since he became executive assistant, but this place practically charged by the ice cube. He supposed he could live on ramen and macaroni and cheese for the rest of the month, but Louis snatched up the bill, plopped one of his cards in, and paid the entire thing in one, smooth move. Harry blinked, left gaping.

"Oh, you really didn't have to do that," Harry murmured shyly. "Thank you," he murmured, blushing inexplicably as Louis' blue eyes met his over the table.

"It was no problem," he murmured right back, and Harry blushed harder as he remembered that Louis owned a fucking Monet original. Louis signed and left a tip, then politely helped his mother up.

"It was lovely to meet you, Harry, really, especially since Louis talks my ear off about you constantly," Jay murmured, giving him a quick hug as Louis groaned. "I'm sure I'll be seeing you again, love, have a wonderful night and safe trip home."

Louis stayed behind a moment after his mum excused herself to the restroom. Harry felt awkward, blushing faintly at the piercing gaze.

"Well. I'll see you at work. We need to discuss you and your calendar skills, Harry," Louis murmured, a faint warning in his tone as Harry flushed, shuffling his feet and feeling properly reprimanded. "However... That was nice. My mum adores you. We should do that again sometime." Louis tipped his head in acknowledgment and then joined his mum, exiting the restaurant after her return.

Harry stared after him, feeling a lot like he was in way over his head-- but also, in the score board of boyfriend, he'd just gained a point that Aiden didn't have in the category: Dinner with Parents. Hell yeah.

Chapter Text

It was a normal day at work when Harry finally couldn’t take it anymore. He had so many questions he wanted to ask that he had kept hidden just to be polite and because it wasn’t his place. But Louis and him were friends now, weren’t they? He could at least try.

”Hey, Louis?” Harry asked, looking up from his computer to where Louis was working, typing away on his computer. His glasses were hanging low on the bridge of his nose, making Harry suppress the urge to want to just pounce on him. ”Can I ask you something?”

Louis snorted, seemingly unamused. ”If I were any older or a dad, I’d say that you already have.”

Harry rolled his eyes. He thought it was pretty funny when people said that, thank you very much.

”Why are you moving in with Aiden?” he asked instead.

Louis seemed caught a bit off guard as he looked up with a brow raised. ”What do you mean? Why not? He’s my boyfriend,” he shrugged. ”That’s what people do when they’re together, is it not?”

”Well...” Harry said gently. ”It’s not like you have to move in with someone immediately just because you’re dating them. I didn’t even know that you two were that serious.”

Louis fidgeted a little in his leather chair. ”It’s not really a big deal, Harry. I have a really fucking huge house, as you know. It’ll be nice to not be alone there all the time.”

”Don’t you have like five housekeepers and a gardener?” Harry deadpanned.

Louis sighed and closed his sketchbook. He took a sip of his tea, grimacing when he found it to be cold. Right, he hadn’t asked Harry to make him a new cup in over two hours. ”That doesn’t count. And it’s not wrong to want someone in your life that you don’t pay to be around you,” he rolled his eyes.

”You don’t pay me to be with you!” Harry protested.

Louis blinked a few times like he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. ”Harry, you’re my secretary. I’m your boss. That’s the very definition of paying you to be here.”

”That’s not what I meant. I just... You know what I’m saying,” Harry sighed, a soft tint of pink spreading on the apples of his cheeks. ”I’m more than happy to hang out with you outside of work hours and you don’t pay me for that. And you have Liam too, he’s your mate, right?” He didn’t know why it was so important for him that Louis knew people wanted to be around him for more reasons than that they were working for him, but he wanted Louis to believe him.

”Yeah, but both of you work for me. It’s different,” Louis shook his head. ”With Aiden or anyone else I don’t have to be worried that he’s just agreeing with what I say because I write his paychecks.”

”You know that I don’t care about that,” Harry grumbled. ”I tell you things as they are, regardless of whether you pay me or not.”

”But... Love, you’re just a little biased,” Louis snorted, shaking his head fondly.

”What do you mean by that?” Harry frowned.

Louis was about to say something before he shook his head, pressing his lips together tightly. “Nothing... It’s nothing. I’m starving,” he sighed.

“Again? We just ate like... Oh,” Harry looked at the time, wincing. It had been way too long since he had fed Louis and knowing Louis, he got cranky when his blood sugar levels were low. “I’ll go get us some food.”

When he was waiting in line to get their bagels, he realised that Louis hadn’t really answered his question. Not one to give up, Harry returned not just with bagels and tea, but with a renewed determination to get some answers.

“So... Aiden. Moving in. You never told me what made you decide to do it,” he said with a sweet smile. Switching tactics couldn’t hurt, could it? “I mean... I’m probably gonna have to settle down with a nice gentleman sometime. So how do I know that he’s the one?”

“I guess you don’t?” Louis shrugged, taking a huge bite of his cream cheese bagel with extra cream cheese topped with more cream cheese. Harry would have thought it was the grossest thing in existence if Louis didn’t look so cute wiping cream cheese off of the tip of his nose every time he planted his nose in the bagel by accident-- which was a lot of times.

“That’s it?” Harry sighed. “No fireworks to guide you? No butterflies in your stomach, no burning pit of desire in your loins to tell you that this is the person you want to spend the rest of your days with?” he muttered.

“Can I be entirely honest with you?” Louis sighed, putting his bagel down. Harry winced a little as some of the cheese smeared on Louis’ desk. “The things you describe, I haven’t felt that with a guy since... well, since I started this company,” Louis continued.

“But, Harry, the truth is that I’m not getting any younger and I don’t want to be one of those people who are so lonely that they start talking to themselves just to make the silence less painful to bear,” he murmured. “I don’t want to die alone,” he shrugged. “So the lack of fireworks and fire and butterflies... It’s a small price to pay. Does that make me a terrible person? Maybe,” Louis sighed. “But is it really that bad to not want to go to bed alone every night?”

“I...” Harry murmured, clenching his fists so hard that he could feel his blunt nails dig into his sweaty palms. He asked for honesty, but never expected this level of it. “No, Louis,” he sighed. “There is nothing wrong with not wanting to be lonely.”

Harry stirred in some sugar into his coffee. But I could be so much better for you, he thought, but didn’t say out loud. “There is nothing wrong with it at all.”

--

"There's a massive fashion show happening this week," Louis announced with a quiet snort. "Can you name it for me?" he quizzed.

Harry hummed, flipping through headlines in his mind and huffing sweetly. "Oh! London Fashion Week! Are we going the entire time?!"

"No, no, we're far too busy for that, but LT Limited will be premiering a couple of new spring and summer lines. Gotta set the trend, give them a taste of what's coming, hm?" Louis chuckled, nodding at him.

"I can't believe it's just about fall and you're setting out spring and summer trends," Harry sighed, not quite getting this whole fashion thing. He wasn’t really into the whole designing or marketing part of it, not used to seeing how things worked behind closed doors.

"Anyways," Louis snorted. "They changed the address this year, I think we're in a rented out parking garage? You'll be accompanying me tomorrow, since Aiden was forced to cancel again." His lips drew up tight like a purse string, but Harry decided not to pry this time. It wouldn't be polite, especially after his earlier interrogation.

"Nice. Will I be wearing one of the stock suits again?" Harry asked, pulling out a sachet of sliced apples and a little tub of caramel. Louis stole one immediately, and double dipped, the wanker. If Harry didn’t know better, he’d say Louis was using the apple slice as an excuse to have the caramel. Actually... Harry was sure that was the reason.

"Oh hell no, I've actually got a fitted and styled tuxedo for you this time, I've even provided the tie and shoes. You obviously can't keep it but you'll be wearing it for important work functions," Louis chuckled, pulling it out of the closet by his desk.

It was one of Zayn's line, and he adored it, admiring the precise trim and impeccable stitching. Harry looked up at Louis in awe. He was pretty sure it cost more than his month's salary, though at this point he was getting the impression that he should be used to it.

"Thank you so very much, sir," he murmured, taking in the pressed cuffs and soft smell of expensive fabric. Harry was downright beaming at the highly thoughtful gift.

"No need to thank me yet. Go try it on, I want to make sure the measurements are correct," Louis ordered with a snort at Harry's obvious enthusiasm. "Come on, come on, we haven't got all day," he teased warmly.

Harry stumbled into the office loo and quickly shucked off his clothes, cursing his ultra tight skinny jeans before finally getting their octopus grip from his legs. He sighed and then tugged his teeing from over his head, worrying his lip between his teeth anxiously. What if the suit didn't fit right? Would Louis be angry with him?

Luckily for him, the suit clung perfectly to every plane, peak, crook, and niche on his body. His legs looked amazing, like they went on for miles, while the harsh cut of the shoulder made him look broader and more wide than he could ever hope to be. It was quite literally impeccable. Harry squeaked softly, gave a little twirl to the mirror, and strutted out to greet Louis like a puffed-up peacock displaying his proud plumage.

Louis whistled at him and winked, clearly pleased with himself. He looked a bit like the cat that got the canary. Harry wouldn't have been surprised to see a small, yellow feather float down from the corner of his mouth.

"You look spectacular. Absolutely stunning. Everybody will be flocking around you. You be sure to tell them who dressed you, and when the line will be out officially for public consumption," Louis reminded. "Did anyone ever tell you-- you could be a very successful model with the right company?" he added.

Harry flushed from his ears down to his boots. "Oh my. I actually-- I used to always want to be one. I wanted to do badly, but they told me I didn't... I didn't look masculine enough for the part," he confessed, a faint frown marring his pretty lips as he stared down. Apparently male models were supposed to have six packs, or so the agent he spoke with told him. Harry gasped as strong fingers closed around his jaw and tilted his head up. Louis' cool blue eyes looked down at him.

"You listen to me right now, Harry. You could be an amazing model. No lie. Gucci. YSL. Anything you want," he murmured softly, a fierce undertone cut to his voice as he stared Harry down. "You could have the whole world at your feet begging for more. Don't you forget that. Don't you ever forget your dream. I need you here, as you're by far the best assistant I've ever had, but modeling could still happen for you. You're young. You're young, fresh, beautiful-- and you are made of the same stuff as me. You can do whatever-- whatever you want. You could have the whole world wrapped around your littlest finger," Louis murmured to him, his voice low and serious. Harry froze, feeling overwhelmed and startled by the rasp and conviction in his boss' voice.

"I--" Harry's breath stuttered out without his explicit permission, and he blushed furiously. Louis released him and back away, clearing his throat and shaking himself off like a dog chasing away water from its coat. Harry felt a bit like shaking the tension off himself. It had been a pretty intense moment between them, and Harry's head was still reeling.

"Sorry. That was... A lot, I'm sure. I just don't want you thinking you're in a set career path right now. You're far from it, in the absolute best way possible," he chuckled warmly. Harry relaxed a bit.

"Well. Thank you, anyways. It was a bit much but I appreciate it, and you, especially for looking after me," Harry promised softly.

The rest of the evening just seemed ever so slightly off. Everything felt weighted by their earlier conversation, and Harry almost felt half insane by the time work was over. It was as though he couldn’t even look up from his desk without being nervous that Louis would look up at the same time and think that he had been staring at him. Their fingers almost brushed earlier when they both reached for the door handle and Harry could swear his hand beat fast for about a whole hour after. Signing, he grabbed his coat and scarf, having changed out of his suit long ago in order to keep it clean for the next day.

"Bye," Harry murmured at Louis, who was wrapped-up in his sketches and barely glanced up. "Thank you, by the way. For earlier,” he added, clearing his throat. “You know, that little pep talk of yours.”

Louis finally looked up at that, a grin on his handsome face. "Meant every word. See you bright and early tomorrow."

--

Harry couldn’t stop thinking about how fierce Louis had looked when he told him that he could do whatever he wanted, even if that was modelling. That he could model for freaking YSL if he wanted to. He had never seen Louis like that before except for when he was was busy bringing his ideas to life one pencil stroke at the time. He just hoped there was truth behind Louis’ words. Being a model would be a dream come true and as London Fashion Week came closer and closer, the more he realised that he loved the buzz.

It seemed like it wasn’t just the office that was talking about fashion London’s biggest happening, but everywhere Harry turned there was a reminder of the event. It was like now that he was aware of it, he couldn’t stop seeing it everywhere.

The streets were filled with foreign models and Harry noticed a few of them easily. He wouldn’t admit to how jealous he had been when Kate Moss just strutted into Louis’ office and kissed him on the cheek-- on both cheeks! Harry didn’t know if he wanted to be her or Louis more.

It looked so glamorous and Harry couldn’t help but stare wistfully when groups of models walked past him in the lobby, buzzing about whatever new gossip they had gotten their hands on. Sure, Harry knew that the fashion week wasn’t just about the models and he knew that reality was far from glamorous. He knew that being a model wasn’t easy or fabulous, that it involved a lot of hard work and more. But he couldn’t stop looking at billboard posters, imagining his face on them.

Little did he know that his opportunity would come as soon as just a few hours later.

“Harry! Fuck, there you are!” Louis barged into the break room just as Harry was about to sink his teeth into a lovely panini.

Harry stared at him blankly, getting a feeling that he wouldn’t get to enjoy his panini after all.

“One of the male models has the flu-- complete and utter bullshit if you ask me-- but I need another model, stat,” Louis was frantic, waving his hands around as he spoke.

“I can call someone else, get them to fill in,” Harry sighed, putting his food back on the plate.

“No, no. We don’t have time for that. You’re gonna have to model your suit.”

“I--... Are you crazy?! I can’t just... I’ve never done a catwalk before!” Harry squeaked, suddenly glad that he hadn’t eaten after all or he would have thrown it right up.

Louis glared at him. “It’s not hard. You just walk and, for once, try not to trip on your own two feet. Come on, we need to get you fixed up,” he hummed and grabbed Harry by the shoulders, steering him away.

“Louis... Sir, you’ve lost your mind. I can’t! I can’t!” Harry stuttered nervously.

“You wanted to be a model, right? Here’s your chance,” Louis sighed and turned Harry around so he could look him in the eyes. “You are going to be amazing, I know you are. Just try to have fun. And for heaven’s sake, don’t trip.”

Harry sighed and looked at the garment bag, gulping thickly. His first fashion show and he was going to be modelling for LT Limited on London Fashion Week. He couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity, but what if he made a fool of himself? Like Louis had pointed out a million times before, he was quite clumsy.

But he couldn’t bear the thought of disappointing Louis.

As he put the tailored suit on, he couldn’t help but feel a million times better. He felt like a different version of himself, more confident somehow. He actually started to feel like he could do this, that he could pull this off and be just as glamorous as any of the other models.

Harry heard a voice behind him say, “You look great.”

He turned around, smiling when he saw who it was. “Thanks, sir,” he murmured. “Not that it would be possible to look bad in something you made.”

“Aw, you know just how to make a man feel good about himself, Harold,” Louis chuckled. He reached out to straighten Harry’s collar, popping it up slightly. “There, that looks better.”

Louis’ voice sounded softer, a bit hoarse. Undoubtedly from yelling in the phone or having an argument. It could have been anything that caused it, especially considering the amount of stress Louis had been under with the fashion week and all. But Harry had a feeling that it wasn’t work related this time.

“... For what’s worth, I’m sorry that Aiden couldn’t make it,” Harry murmured.

Louis waved it off almost immediately. “It’s fine. He’s in Thailand doing some promo stuff.”

“Oh? What is he doing?” Harry asked. The least he could do was at least to try to act like he was interested in Louis’ relationship, no matter how hard it was.

Louis thought about it for a second, his face scrunching up in that way that never failed to make Harry’s heart skip a beat. “I dunno,” Louis finally said, accompanied with a small shrug. “I’m sure he told me, but I probably tuned out somewhere between him talking about his quiff and his toe infection.”

Harry pulled a face. “Ew?”

“Yeah, I know. Massive ew,” Louis rolled his eyes. “He’s not the best at striking up interesting conversation, that one. But it’s alright,” he shrugged. “I’ve got you to work as my eyecandy anyway, you can join me as my plus one after the show. The press is going to love your outfit. And you pull it off better than Aiden ever could,” Louis smirked, patting Harry’s shoulder encouragingly.

“You think so?” Harry flashed a brilliant smile.

“I know it,” Louis snorted. “Silly string bean. You’re gonna break a million hearts.”

Harry bit back a sigh. There was only one heart he wanted. It was just his luck that the heart in question was not only very blind, but also unavailable.

“As long as it’s good promo for LT Limited, I’m happy,” Harry smiled instead, hoping Louis wouldn’t notice how flat his words sounded to his own ears.

Louis waved him off, and Harry was bundled into a chair, made to sit tight, and then overwhelmed by his beauty pit crew. He was bronzed, blushed, contoured, lined by the eyes, and his lips were even made a shade pinker, much to his shock. Harry almost helped as a mascara brush poked along his lashes. His curls were tamed and volumized, and then, only then, were they satisfied.

Louis stopped by for a final check, broody as he appraised Harry slowly, then ushered him up from the chair, doing a couple of minor wrinkle smooths and brushing a stray piece of hair back, one of the girls attacking it immediately with a cloud of hairspray.

"You're ready," Louis proclaimed happily enough, eyes gleaming as a smirk twisted his lips and he chuckled. "Honestly. You'll be getting a raise if you don't fuck this up," he encouraged, winking at him and chuckling warmly while shaking his head. "Alright... Now go do your little turn on the catwalk."

Harry couldn't help a slightly hysterical giggle. How was this even his life? He had to be dreaming. His borrowed boots cost almost £500 and he didn't want to think about the suit's price tag. Jesus Christ. He briefly fought the urge to rub his eyes, knowing he'd get absolutely ripped to pieces by his beauty team.

"Alright, then. Let's do this," he decided, voice wobbling marginally but sounding much braver than he truly felt. Louis gently grasped his hand and gave it a gentle squeeze, humming to himself happily enough.

"Go rock it, superstar," Louis coaxed warmly, stroking the back of Harry's hand with his thumb once and releasing him, fondly shoving him towards the line-up.

So. Harry did his best. He puffed up his chest, held his breath, counted to ten-- and walked out into bright lights and noise. His boots had a slight heel, but Harry was incredibly mindful as he wobbly made his way onto the runway. He held his head high and strutted his stuff, but he completely honestly couldn't recall anything afterwards except being utterly blinded by the spotlights, and an impression of loudness. It went by so fast that a part of him was still convinced he was dreaming. If someone asked him how it was to be out there, he wouldn’t know what to say.

Harry was sweaty and panting when he got back behind the curtain, begging Lou to take the make-up off and sighing gratefully when she gently wiped at it, other assistants helping him get changed out of the incredibly expensive outfit. After thanking them profusely, he rinsed his curls off a bit in the closest restroom, scarcely refraining from full on dunking his head into the sink.

Afterwards, he felt much better, back in more relaxed clothes and without so much pressure to look flawless. He was still wearing one of Louis’ suits, but it was less flashy and Harry felt more like he could blend into the crowd more. Harry wandered out into the main room, guiltily making a beeline for the food table-- and ran smack dab into Cara Delevingne.

"Oh my god," Harry whispered, starstruck with bright eyes and an awed face. "Oh my god. Hi. I-- oh fucking hell," he cursed, realizing he'd spilled her drink all over himself.

"I'm so sorry," she apologized, biting her bottom lip and daintily dabbing at the stain with her napkin. "I'm so, so sorry. I'll pay for your dry cleaning ticket, promise."

"Not necessary for you to foot the bill," Harry assured. "I'll just bleach it at home, no problem. It was partly my fault, anyways. So really, no worries at all," he promised right back.

"Are you really sure?" Cara fretted and fussed softly. "Let me make it up to you."

"Buy me a drink?" he teased, knowing it was open bar. She playfully rolled her eyes and relaxed.

"Oh lord, no. And no flirting. It's very open knowledge I've got a girlfriend," she scolded teasingly.

"No worries; I like men. Besides, could never split you up with someone as gorgeous as St. Vincent," Harry chuckled back warmly. "Besides, I like them older myself."

Cara playfully scoffed and rolled her eyes. "Enough, I get enough shit from the tabloids!"

"Anyways, are you modeling anything today?" Harry asked eagerly.

"Nuh-uh, just an observer today. A front-row observer," Cara hummed, looking up as St. Vincent came over and gently pulled her close.

"Love the curls," Harry gushed at her immediately. "And the matchy-matchy pattern holes in black. It's wonderful."

"Thank you...?" St. Vincent answered, a quizzical look on her face.

"Harry! Harry Styles. I'm from LT Limited. Louis Tomlinson is my boss-- I'm his chief assistant and occasional stand-in model, I guess, after today," Harry was quick to properly introduce himself to the celebrity duo.

"It was lovely to meet you, Harry," Cara told him, slipping a piece of paper with her number into his hand. "Do get me that dry cleaning bill, won't you? We have to go now."

Harry was feeling pretty starstruck after his encounter with the supermodels, and even more in awe of how he had bloody Cara Delevingne's mobile number-- and he immediately sought out Louis, gushing and bubbling up with excitement.

After searching for a good five minutes, he finally located Louis in a hallway hidden slightly away from the action.

"Lou--!" Harry cut himself off and listened instead.

"No, no, baby, that's good," came Louis' voice from around the corner. "You should send a picture. Know I love that outfit on you so much," he purred. Harry's heart sank like a stone, and he backed away, not wanting to intrude on Louis' private moment. He felt sick and a bit helpless, chewing at his bottom lip and leaning against the wall.

The sounds of the excitement drifted back, and Harry followed them, heading straight for the bar and ordering a shot.

At least alcohol numbed him from the hurt, even if only briefly.

--

Harry woke up feeling like crap. Usually he would make himself a nice breakfast omelette and drink his coffee in peace while skimming through the newspaper. And no, he would never admit that it was just so he could keep up with conversations on current events if he ever had to.

But this morning he stumbled out of bed and blindly fumbled after painkillers, washing it down with some juice he had left in a carton in the fridge. It tasted a little sour, but it could also just be the aftertaste of those shots last night. Note to self, tequila doesn’t taste better when mixed with scotch. Why he even thought that was a good idea was beyond him. Everybody knew not to mix light and dark alcohol.

Somehow he managed to get on the tube and even got a spot to sit by the glass panel that he rested his head on. The lady sitting next to him shot him a sympathetic look and he tried to smile back, but it ended up looking more like a pained grimace more than anything.

That was when he saw it in the corner of his eye. The headline in big red letters. “Excuse me, Madam? Can I please have a look at that?” he asked, almost snatching the paper out of her hands. She just sighed and turned to the next section, thankfully.

‘Aiden Grimshaw seen in Phuket snogging mystery blonde’

There were a few blurry pictures under the headline and Harry had to remove his sunglasses to get a better look. If he hadn’t spent countless sleepless hours looking at pictures of Aiden just to fuel his jealousy, he could have believed that it was someone else. But it was definitely Aiden kissing a stranger whose face was hidden from the camera. The last picture was especially clear. It was unmistakably Aiden in a pair of blue swim shorts with his arms around the girl’s waist, laughing like he had no care in the world.

Harry’s hands were shaking as he skimmed through the text. There wasn’t much information there, just something about Aiden being in the area to do a meet and greet of some sort. Apparently he had a day off to relax on the beach. Though by the looks of it, he hadn’t just been sipping margaritas and reading a good book.

Harry was torn between a sick feeling of joy, his heart fluttering evilly knowing that Aiden had screwed up, and a feeling of dread on Louis’ behalf, knowing how terrible it must feel for him. Oh god. Louis.

Harry immediately grabbed his mobile and rang the number on his speed dial. It rang and rang and rang before going straight to voicemail. Crap. Louis always answered that phone. He even joked and said that it was his secret Harry phone.

Harry tried again. And again. But he got to voicemail each time. He got off the tube and half ran to the office, passing security with a frantic wave of his arms. Luckily he had shared enough homemade cupcakes with Jeremy at security that he just let him pass with a short nod. Harry had never been so grateful in his life that the lift was completely empty. He was panting by the time he got to Louis’ office.

"Louis!" he burst in with a shout, concerned. Louis slowly looked up from his desk, frowning and adjusting his glasses. To be completely, brutally honest, he looked like death warmed over. Bags under his eyes, hair limp and half plastered to his forehead, exhaustion crinkling his mouth, pale as a ghost, and lips drawn into a thin line.

"What, Harry?" Louis sighed, leaning back. "What do you want?" He was wearing a huge jumper and sweatpants, feet shoved into a worn pair of Vans, sans socks. Harry had never seen him dress so casually to work before.

Harry took a couple of timid steps forwards to his desk. "I want you to know I'm here for you. I-- I, well, saw the papers this morning. I'm so sorry."

Louis blinked at him quietly and sighed again. "It's fine. We, I already. It's been taken care of. We're going to go to counseling, I think. Or try to. He said he was drunk."

Harry grew furious. "That bloody bastard! That is absolutely no excuse. You're the laughing stock of the city because of him, some of the stuff I heard on the way here--"

"Harry," Louis groaned, briefly rubbing his eyes. "The clock is ticking for my happy ending, don't you get that? He's my opportunity, probably my last one, for a husband, children-- a family. Don't you get that by now? I'm getting old, Harry. Old and alone. I always told myself work would come second, but I've been so busy lately... I can't help but feel this is my fa--"

"Don't you dare," Harry interrupted immediately, voice shaking, tears in his eyes, his fists clenched. "Don't you dare say that, think that utter garbage. This is not your fault, Louis William Tomlinson. This is not your fault.

"Harry," Louis murmured helplessly. "He's my last shot," he told him, desperation in his tone. "He's my last shot to be happy, I can't just let it go-- even if he did royally fuck me over. He's willing to start a family with me in the future, the hopefully near future! He even told me that we can have kids now, said he’s willing to do that if I forgive him. People aren't exactly lining up for that space, Harry."

Harry swallowed tightly. "I won't let you. You can't."

"I can't?" Louis growled. "You're telling me what I can and can't do?"

"Yes," Harry burst out, chest beginning to heave as he did his best to tower over Louis, despite wanting to shrink down submissively and let it go.

"What gives you the fucking right?" Louis challenged, eyes blazing.

"Because I love you, you bleeding idiot!" Harry snapped, and Louis' eyes went wide with shock. Harry started to back away, alarmed by his own confession, but Louis seized his wrist and dragged him around the desk before he could get very far.

"Louis," he choked out quietly, cheeks flushed and eyes wet with tears. God, he had gone and royally fucked it up.

"Harry," Louis murmured in reply, tender and soft as he cupped his chin and gently dragged him into a kiss. It was weighted and intense, and Harry clutched at Louis' chest, lips parting in shock, a gasp leaving his parted lips. He whimpered sweetly into Louis' mouth and shuddered as he felt strong hands haul him closer.

"Oh, Lou," he whined, shivering as he felt fingers cup his bum and pull him over. "Shit, I've wanted this since before I met you."

"You're such a bloody tease, Styles," Louis growled in his ear, stubble scraping against his jaw in the most delectable way. "Wanted you since you wore Zayn's prototype knickers. Looked so fucking gorgeous for me, sweetheart." Sharp teeth nipped his neck, and Harry twitched, fingers compulsively tightening in the wrinkles of Louis' jumper.

"Louis," Harry weakly ground out, making Louis snort and leave a dark love bite on his neck.

"Want you so badly," Louis whispered heatedly into his shoulder blade, his erection pressing into Harry's thigh.

Gasping, Harry tried to focus, watching in dismay as the familiar form of one Nick Grimshaw slowly backed away and fled from the ajar office door.

Oh fuck.

Chapter Text

“Louis.. Louis, we can’t,” Harry chuckled as he gently pushed Louis away so he could place the cup of coffee he was holding in his hand on his desk without spilling all over the files there.

“Just one kiss,” Louis whispered, his lips pressed to the shell of Harry’s ear, making him shiver just from knowing how close he was. He could feel Louis’ scruff against his neck, he gentlest brush of skin. Harry glanced over his shoulder only to find Louis with his bottom lip jutting out in a pout, and his eyes pleading like a kicked puppy.

“You can’t do that to me, that’s not fair. You know I can’t say no to that face,” Harry whispered, turning around in Louis’ arms. He leaned against the desk, blindly pushing some of the folders away so he could sit down on the surface. Wrapping his legs around Louis’ waist, he pulled him closer. “We really, really shouldn’t,” he whispered, licking his lips slowly.

“Anyone could walk in any moment,” Louis agreed and Harry wanted to smack him for how smug he sounded like he almost wanted someone to walk in and catch them red handed. “Anyone could just open that door. Another secretary. Someone from the costume department. An intern,” Louis whispered, his lips trailing down Harry’s neck, leaving kisses in his wake. “I bet you’d like that, wouldn’t you, kitten?”

Harry ran his hands down Louis’ back, his blunt nails digging into his skin. “Louis,” he murmured, his lips parting in a sharp gasp as Louis’ teeth sunk into his skin, not hard enough to pierce the skin but just enough to sting and leave a mark that he knew would be a headache to cover up. It wasn’t anything he couldn’t hide with a bit of concealer or a well placed scarf, but just the fact that Louis wanted to mark him sent shivers down his spine.

Louis slowly popped open the buttons on Harry’s shirt one by one. He recognised the shirt from one of his own collections from last season and just for that, he resisted the urge to rip the shirt off and treated it with respect. “Louis,” Harry repeated, his fingers sneaking under the soft cashmere material of the turtleneck Louis was wearing, cold fingertips against his warm skin. He could feel Louis flinch from the cold and pressed his lips to keep in a giggle. “Is this really how you want everyone to find out that you and Aiden broke up? From seeing them snog your secretary senseless in your office?”

“Would it be better if they saw you sucking my cock then, Harold?” Louis snorted, rolling his eyes.

“Lou!” Harry chastised, turning a bright shade of red as he smacked his chest. “That is definitely not how people are going to find out.”

“Oh come on, love. I’m single, let me be free. Let me be wild,” Louis chuckled, pressing fluttering kisses all over Harry’s chest where he had unbuttoned his shirt.

Harry laughed and this time he didn’t push him away. Instead he ran his fingers through Louis’ hair fondly. “Single, hm? Funny that,” he raised a brow.

Louis looked up, Harry’s St. Andrews cross pendant in his mouth. “Haz… You know that I-...”

Harry hushed him with a kiss, pulling the necklace out of his mouth. “It’s okay, love. I understand. You just came out of an awful relationship with a guy who cheated on you and you don’t want to rush into anything. It’s okay,” he smiled, cupping his cheek.

“That’s not--...” Louis sighed, shaking his head. “No, I don’t mean it like that. I want to date you, I want to make an honest man out of you and all that clichéd shit that I would never say but that would definitely get you all hot and bothered,” he murmured.

“Harry, I want to be with you. And I’m going to, I am,” he chuckled. “But I rushed into my relationship with Aiden and I don’t want to rush into anything with you. I want to do this the right way. I want to woo you, I want to knock you off your feet, and I want to give you the world.”

Harry blushed. “Who said you don’t already do that?”

Louis smiled and pressed a chaste kiss to his lips. “Then let me do it some more.”

“Fine,” Harry smiled to himself. “Okay, yeah. I can get behind that.”

“Good,” Louis nodded. “Let me take you out to dinner. You know... One that you’re actually invited to as opposed to where you stalk me or send me to the wrong restaurant so you can casually bump into me?” he snorted.

Harry groaned, burying his face in his hands. “Desperate times called for desperate measures!”

Louis was grinning, wrapping one of Harry’s silky curls around his finger. “Well, let me take you out on a proper date. Just you and me, no mothers or dogs who piss on you this time,” he hummed.

Harry nodded slowly. “I’d like that, yeah,” he whispered, leaning in to kiss him.

Just as their lips almost touched, there was a knock on the door and Louis jumped away from Harry. Harry hurried to button his shirt back up before the door opened.

“Oh good, you’re here,” Liam sighed, holding a thick folder in his arms. He shot Harry an odd look. “Oh hi, Harry. What happened to your shirt?” he asked, frowning. Oh fuck. Harry looked down immediately, almost getting whiplash. “Wha-...?"

“When did you start buttoning your shirt up all the way? It looks good,” Liam continued with a smile. Harry grumbled. Apparently in his rush to put his shirt on before Liam walked into, he had done too good of a job. But luckily Liam ignored him promptly, walking over to Louis instead.

Harry snorted when he noticed that Louis was sitting so close to his desk that it had to be uncomfortable, no doubt to hide a boner. “I’ll get those copies you asked for, Mr. Tomlinson,” he nodded and walked out of Louis’ office, leaving Louis alone with Liam.

He stifled a laugh as he made himself a cup of coffee, seeing how he had forgotten the cup he previously made on his desk on Louis’ office. The desk Louis had pinned him to, the desk where he may or may not have fantasised Louis bending him over and fucking him senseless.

“I guess the boss’ pet doesn’t have to do work. Unlike some of us,” Harry was dragged from his reverie when he heard a familiar voice. He couldn’t help but sigh, knowing just who it belonged to.

“Nick,” he muttered, turning around. Of course it had to be Nick. Just when he thought things were going his way, he just had to bump into him of all people. “What do you want?”

“You know very well what I want, Styles.” Nick narrowed his piercing gaze at him. Harry bit his bottom lip as he instinctively took a step back.

“For the millionth time, Grimshaw. I’m not screwing Louis. He’s my boss,” he muttered. Technically, he wasn’t lying. Louis wasn’t his boyfriend and they hadn’t had sex yet. He shouldn’t feel guilty about this, nope. Besides, it was Nick. He definitely had no reason to feel guilty, he told himself. “So... Will you kindly go bother someone else? Preferably your own reflection? Because there is nothing here for you to figure out.”

The corners of Nick’s lips turned up in a smirk. “Oh yeah?” he murmured.

Harry flinched as Nick reached over him to get a packet of sugar from the cupboard over his head. He was sure Nick didn’t even take sugar in his tea, that bastard. He probably just wanted to make him uncomfortable.

“Yes,” Harry growled fiercely. “You’re fucking delusional and I have half a mind to report you to HR for harassment.”

“Oh love, do that,” Nick didn’t seem fazed. “I’m sure they would just love to hear about you and Louis, too.”

“How many times--”

“Save it, Styles. I saw you two. In Louis’ office? After the shitstorm with Louis’ boytoy cheating on his pathetic ass?” Nick smirked.

"Liar," Harry shot back, feeling that his word against Nick's would be easy to dispute. He snorted, shaking his head. Nick's grin widened, and Harry inexplicably felt his stomach drop.

"Oh yeah? I've got pictures. Managed to scramble back quick enough to snap a couple of you two canoodling," Nick taunted.

Harry paled. Maybe, maybe he really did have evidence. It could just be a bluff, and yet... “You can’t... Nick, listen to me. You can’t tell a soul.”

“Then give me what I want, love. It’s as simple as that,” Nick smiled and ran his fingers through Harry’s hair.

Harry flinched, pushing his hand away. “What the fuck do you want? Because I’m not sucking you off, that’s out of the question.”

“You flatter yourself thinking I would go through all this trouble just to have you,” Nick rolled his eyes. “No. I want to be promoted. I want to be in charge of the magazine for starters.”

Harry narrowed his eyes. “There’s no way I’m going to go to Louis and ask him to promote you.”

“I have indisputable proof,” Nick smiled.

Harry wanted to punch the smile off his face. “I’ll see what I can do.”

----

"... So," Harry started softly, returning to Louis later and leaning up against his desk, hitching his hip over the desk. "I, ah. I need to ask a favor," he murmured, feeling sick and ashamed of himself. If he had only taken care of Nick when this entire mess started, there would be no problem right now. Harry bet they even had the groping incident on security camera footage, somewhere.

Louis glanced up from his papers, pushing them back with a grin and wiggling his eyebrows with a chuckle. "Does it have anything to do with kissing and the like?" he teased, and Harry struggled and fought not to grimace. The reason he was in this mess was because of a certain kiss, after all.

"Uh, no, no it doesn't," Harry muttered awkwardly, shifting a bit on his feet and staring down. "I... I think we should promote Nick to head of the magazine spreads," he blurted out in one huge go, clearly antsy. "He's been doing some good work lately, I've heard," Harry lied clumsily through his teeth.

Louis frowned slightly, looking at Harry consideringly. "Alright. I'll consult him about it on Thursday. Can you schedule in a meeting for my lunch hour, and inform him?" he requested. Shocked, Harry nodded.

"He'll be thrilled," Harry mumbled woodenly. It was slightly flattering to know Louis trusted his judgement unconditionally, without any question, but he really wished that Nick had no part of their office, let alone such an important department in it.

"Good. Now that that's sorted... Liam's on lunch and I told Perrie not to let anybody in without my explicit permission," Louis purred, fixing Harry’s collar though he suspected that it was just an excuse to touch him. Not that Harry minded the slightest.

They snogged in his office for a good half an hour and weren't even interrupted until Perrie called in to mention they had a delivery Louis had to sign for.

"I always do quality checks for every shipment we get to LT Limited," Louis mentioned. "Quality is the most important thing. If your product is good and people like it, then they'll tell other people. You can have the best marketing in the entire world, but people won't come back for that! They come back for quality."

Harry committed that to memory. He often wrote down and doodled stuff Louis said or did in his private, leather-bound journal. Some of it was silly, like the lovestruck Harry Tomlinson he'd scribbled in a heart, but some of it was real, solid career advice. Another small part of it was pure nonsense, like how Louis despised carrots but his favorite thing to eat in the morning was an amalgamation of different breakfast cereals called a mix-up. All of it was about Louis, though. Call him obsessed.

----

Harry was forced to be there when Nick came in for lunch to discuss his promotion. He passed out the boxes of food from Benny's, the Italian hole in the wall down the street. Louis got a pepperoni calzone, Caesar salad and an antacid on the side, while Harry grudgingly gave Nick some slices of cheese pizza.

Sat at his desk and hunkered over his chicken parm, he picked and nibbled, feeling absolutely sick to his stomach whenever Nick murmured something and Louis laughed. He'd half hoped Nick would blow it, no matter the later consequences, but it would make sense such a slimy snake would have a slippery tongue and charm to match.

He just wanted to yell and tell Louis what a douche Nick was, but he didn’t want to burden Louis with the knowledge that someone else had proof of their relationship. Or whatever it was that they had. Louis was stressed enough as it was and Harry would be damned before he added to that. Besides, if Louis got pissed and fired Nick, they would have an even bigger problem on their hands. Harry knew just how hotheaded Louis could be, so the best thing he could do at the moment was to just shut up and pretend that he wasn’t there, no matter how sick it made him feel. Especially when Nick kept glancing his way. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when Nick made kissy faces at him while Louis wasn’t looking.

Harry excused himself halfway through lunch, ignoring Louis' concerned looks as he threw away his untouched, normally favorited meal, and hurried out into the loo. He locked the door, was sick in the toilet, miserably rinsed his mouth, then popped a mint and headed back to Louis' office, having splashed water on his face and wiped it off.

The two were just wrapping up as Harry sidled in, going over to his desk and pretending to be very interested in next week's schedule, not so subtly straining to hear when Louis congratulated Nick on his new position and sent him out with a clap on the shoulder, lad style. Like they were actual bros or something. Harry didn't look back up until Louis was stood right in front of him.

"Hey, babes, you alright?" Louis' concerned voice washed over him, immediately soothing. Harry felt the tension melt from his shoulders and finally found himself able to relax a bit.

"Yeah, sorry," he apologized contritely, looking up slowly and chewing on his bottom lip. He enjoyed seeing Louis loom over him, shivering faintly and blushing. His boss grinned at him and winked.

"I've got cannolis, babes. And my thighs won't be too pleased if I eat it all by my lonesome," Louis purred, tilting Harry's chin up and staring down at him hungrily. Harry swallowed, Adam's apple bobbing, and half climbed on top of the desk, surging up to crash their lips together. His emotions felt like an out of control roller coaster, honestly. But he treasured every moment with Louis, fiercely cherishing them.

Louis hauled him over the desk, knocking askew some papers and not giving a shit as he pulled Harry into his arms and carried him over to sit in his lap, grabbing the sweet dessert and taking a bite. He moaned lowly as heavy cream dribbled from the side of his mouth, Harry unable to help himself from leaning over to lick it up.

"Share it," Harry whined needily, pressing himself fully to Louis and daring to take a messy bite of his own. "Mm fucking hell, that's delicious."

Louis growled, "Not nearly as sweet as you, kitten." His free hand curled around Harry's bum and tugged him even closer, craving his contact like a drug. Harry licked his lips and giggled as he pursed them, begging for another bite. Rumbling, Louis fed him more of the cannoli, unable to help himself. Eventually, Harry was just licking crumbs and chocolate from the pads of his fingers.

"Can think of another area to get some cream, baby," Louis breathed, nibbling on his ear.

Harry bit his bottom lip, trying to stop himself from giggling. Even when Louis was as cheesy as he was then, he still managed to get Harry all squirmy from the butterflies in his stomach. “Oh yeah?” he feigned innocence, licking his lips slowly as he batted his lashes at Louis. “Where would that be? Pray tell,” he hummed.

Louis shook his head, amused. “Where do you think, love?” he cooed, his lips slowly trailing down Harry’s neck. His teeth grazed his skin with the gentlest pressure, making a shiver run down Harry’s spine.

“Hmm, I don’t know,” Harry deadpanned, spreading his legs a little more so he could straddle Louis’ lap properly, his long legs falling on either side of Louis’ chair with his feet pressed to the ground to keep him steady. “Here, maybe?” he asked, pushing at Louis’ chest with his forefinger.

When Louis shook his head with a smirk, Harry gasped in fake surprise. “Not there? What about here?” he asked, poking Louis’ nipple that he could feel starting to get hard under his fingertip. Louis hissed softly but shook his head. “Nope. Go fish.”

Harry smiled slyly and dropped to his knees in front of Louis, mostly hidden under his desk. “What about here?” he grinned, poking Louis’ cock through his trousers.

Louis flinched a little. “Oi, be careful. The crown jewels are down there,” he warned playfully. Harry rolled his eyes and didn’t hesitate to take Louis’ belt off, just opening the buckle and letting it hang loosely by his sides as he worked on his trousers. Luckily Louis’ trousers were considerably looser than the ones he liked to wear himself and he didn’t have much trouble pulling them down.

Looking up at Louis, he flashed him an innocent smirk, the one he knew Louis loved because it showed off his dimples shamelessly. He tugged Louis’ boxers down with just the help of his teeth, as to say ‘look, no hands!’.

Louis groaned, running his hand through Harry’s soft curls. “Babe,” he whispered, keeping his voice low to not raise any attention. He would be mortified if Perrie came running in thinking that he had managed to glue gun his hand to a stack of paper again. That was a one time thing, thank you very much. But she never stopped teasing him for it. He should have her fired just for that. Too bad she was actually useful at times, and it seemed like Harry liked her when he wasn’t scared of her.

“Harry,” Louis gasped when Harry had his boxers pooling around his ankles, helping him a little by lifting his hips up. “God, you’re such a minx. What happened to no canoodling in the office?” he muttered, though there wasn’t a complaining bone in his body.

“I changed my mind,” Harry chuckled, licking a stripe up Louis’ shaft. He took his time getting his cock wet, lapping over the tip and it felt like a salty treat when he licked up the beads of precome there. “Love the way you taste, Daddy,” he whispered.

Louis moaned under his breath, trying hard not to buck his hips and make Harry take more of his length in his mouth instead of the torturous teasing he had to go through now. “Harry,” he growled.

But before he could say anything else his phone rang. Harry let go of his cock with a soft pop and grinned. “Get it,” he hummed.

Louis looked at him like he had grown an extra head and a nice forked tail as well. “No,” he hissed, looking at the phone that was still ringing. He could see that Perrie had set the call over to line 6 which was reserved for important calls. Which meant that Louis probably shouldn’t make a fool of himself on the phone, but he shouldn’t just let it ring and not pick it up either. “Get up, you little devil,” he growled and tried to push Harry off as he picked the phone up.

“Louis Tomlinson speaking,” he said and Harry was pretty surprised at how calm Louis managed to sound, considering that he was mere centimetres from his naked cock, still hard and pulsing where it lay against Louis’ stomach. That just wasn’t good enough, Harry decided. Smirking, he wrapped his mouth around Louis’ cock and slowly took him down.

“Y-Yeah,” Louis gasped at the sudden feeling of Harry’s mouth on his erection. He glared at him, shaking his head as to tell him to cut it out. But Harry just grinned and took him down even deeper. Louis tugged his hair sharply, with every intention of pulling him away and telling Harry to sit by his desk like a good boy. But instead Louis pushed him down further on his cock, his hips arching off the chair just a little bit to get Harry to take him in even deeper.

“Alright, Mr. Satsuma. We can make that happen, I’m sure. If you would just be as kind as to talk to my secretary, I’m sure she could arrange a meeting for you,” Louis said hastily. He couldn’t help but sound a little snappy. All he wanted was to hang up and fuck Harry’s mouth until he came and then maybe get Harry off as well, or make him sit by his desk for hours without any form of release. Harry snickered, trailing his tongue teasingly over his head.

“No, I didn’t mean that,” Louis snapped, gritting his teeth. Harry almost felt sorry for the poor sap on the other end of the line. Almost. He pulled off for a second to take a deep breath, making Louis whimper in need, before sinking back on his cock. This time he didn’t stop until his nose was pressed against Louis’ pubes and he could feel his cock hitting the back of his throat.
Louis let out an indignified squeak, making Harry giggle as he bobbed his head up and down faster and faster. Thank god he didn’t have a gag reflex whatsoever.

Louis used his free hand to hold on to his desk so hard that his knuckles turned white. “Fu-... No, I mean,” he groaned. “Of course, I understand that it is a very important issue to the board members,” he muttered. “No, I’m not implying that the board members’ time isn’t of importance to me.” Louis’ tone was getting more and more snippy by the second and Harry was starting to get worried that he would actually get himself in trouble.

Doubling his efforts, he let out a soft moan as he took Louis’ cock in faster, sucking even harder. He let Louis jerk his hips and fuck his lips a little. Finally he felt Louis come in his mouth, hips jerking weakly. The man let out a relieved sigh in the phone, voice going soft and rumbling in his chest. “I’m sorry... Can I please call you back tomorrow when I’ve figured out more about this issue? I promise I’ll put my best minds on the missing fabric.” Louis hung up before he could get a reply from the man.

"You," Louis growled, gently cupping Harry's cheek and giving him a stern look. "You are incredibly naughty, Harry Edward Styles. Naughty, little kitten." He rubbed his jaw with his thumb and then sighed with a faint chuckle. "Crazy baby." He slumped back into his chair, heaving another sigh and running his hands through his hair. He left it a feathery mess. Harry personally thought it was a rather nice look on him, rumpled was.

"Nah. I'm a good boy," he giggled softly, grinning and shaking his head fondly. "The best boy, actually," he chuckled, smile widening. "At least... Your cock seems to agree at any rate." Harry waggled his brows playfully and Louis gently flicked his nose.

"My silly boy, aren't you?" he sighed with an eye roll.

"Little bit," Harry admitted quietly. "But you still love me lots, right?" Louis' eyes widened at the word love, and Harry wanted to literally let the earth open beneath him and swallow him whole. Shit. Shitshitshit. Before he could do more than make a weak noise of apology, Louis smiled.

"Oh baby doll. I do," he chuckled. "Can't even help myself. Never felt like this with Aiden, that's for sure." Louis pulled Harry up into his lap and kissed him gently. "Come to mine tonight?" he offered, almost shy, eyes gleaming. Harry shivered and tucked himself closer to Louis with a sweet sigh.

"Of course."

----

Harry showed up at Louis' house, having gone home, showered, shaved, and got himself into a little number he thought Louis might like.

Shivering on the doorstep he recognized from last time, he really took a moment to take in the enormity of Louis' home. It was massive, sprawling like a modern-day dragon, curled around the long drive way up to Louis' eight-car garage. He bit his lip and considered the fact that Louis' polished door knob probably cost more than his month's rent at his flat. God, he was almost guilty about it, but seeing Louis' wealth, his power, made him so undeniably hot. It was like an instant turn-on.

Taking a deep breath, Harry adjusted his pea coat and made sure his underneath clothing, if he could call it that, wasn't peeking out preemptively. After summoning his courage, Harry reached up and rang the bell.

Louis answered within moments, opening the door and then pausing at Harry's unusual outfit, which he'd shown by untying his belt and letting his coat flop open. He smiled coyly at the gaping CEO.

"What'cha think?" Harry asked, slow and sultry, fluttering his lashes innocently and giggling warmly. He was wearing a women's lingerie set, little more than some tiny, baby pink with white polka dots corset, a see-through, matching skirt that barely reached below his crotch, and a black, bow back pair of panties with strips taken out of the sides. The underwear was from one of Louis' women's collections from last year. His garter and stockings were sheer and his legs and groin were silky smooth, thanks to him shaving and his regular Brazilian waxing.

Louis finally managed to pick up his jaw and pull Harry inside, pressing him against the door and locking it as he invaded Harry's personal space. Their mouths met, messy and eager, Harry whining as he curled his hands around Louis' hard biceps, clinging tightly. Louis' own fingers wandered, a sudden grip clenching at Harry's bum cheeks as he hauled him off his feet, kissing him breathless with a faint growl rumbling in his throat. He pulled back to press his face into Harry's neck, groaning.

"Oh fuck," Harry gasped, amazed and slightly light-headed as he came to the realization he was being held up entirely by Louis' muscles. "Oh my god." Louis' teeth got to work, nibbling at his jaw and leaving a harsh lovebite on the tender area of where his neck met his shoulder. "Louis," he whimpered, turned to jelly, melting in his strong grasp.

"I've got you, baby," Louis promised, nipping at his collar bone and huffing noisily. "God, you have no, no fucking idea how sexy you look in my clothes," he murmured into his throat, trembling with desire. Harry dragged his nails down Louis' chest, tearing open his loosely-buttoned shirt.

"Bedroom?" Harry asked shakily, still feeling a bit dizzy from the knowledge Louis was suspending him, with ease, against the door. "I forget my heels in the car, shit."

Louis growled like a wolf, clutching Harry close like a toddler, arms around his neck and knees clinging to his hips as he carried his boyfriend back to his room. He tossed Harry on the bed, grabbing his stockings and ripping them off with the sound of tearing fabric and Harry's dazed but mournful cry.

"Those were from Victoria's Secret," Harry rasped forlornly, interrupting himself with a gasp and twitch as Louis yanked his panties down.

"I'll buy you ten new pairs," Louis promised with a rumble, taking slightly more care as he tugged Harry's underwear off and tossed them into the corner. "Twenty. I don't give a shit," he sighed, easing Harry's thighs apart and then diving in before Harry could even begin to try and catch his breath. A broad, flat-tongued stroke swept over his hole, and Harry let out a high-pitched whimper of want.

His hips twitched again, cock beading precome at the tip where it pressed up into his belly. Desperately, uncontrollably, Harry's thighs squeezed around Louis' ears, braced on his shoulders as he let out a weak noise. Louis' tongue was skilled and eager, mouth sloppy and wet as he lapped at Harry's arse, biting his right bum cheek before driving his pointed tongue deep into his hole. Harry was crying a little by the time Louis started working lube-slick fingers in beside his mouth. First one, which made him compulsively clench around his digit, then two, which made him whimper for more, then three, a good stretch but he craved more, then finally four, making his craving for Louis' cock unquenchable.

"Please, please, please," Harry begged, voice cracking and eyes wet, managing to sit halfway up to look at Louis, his swollen, red mouth, missed hair, and dark, hungry eyes. "Please, Louis, need you, need your cock," he begged, chest heaving as he offered himself up brashly. Fortunately, Louis listened, getting his briefs off and lubing up his thick, angry-red cock.

"Hey," Louis whispered, crawling on top of him and pausing, hips cradled together. "I've got you." He held his erection and slid himself in with one, smooth stroke, pausing as he got to feel the heat and tightness of Harry's body around him. They were both breathing fast, air mingling as they panted into each other's mouths, a weak kiss sealing their lips together as Louis pulled out, then pushed back in. "Fuck, you're so tight, baby, so bloody tight."

"Oh my god," Harry breathed back, burying his face into louis' shoulder and biting him. "You're so big. So fucking big, love it. Shit." Their sweaty torsos slid together and Louis slowly started up a rhythm, slow but powerful thrusts that rocked both Harry and the massive bed. The headboard slammed into the wall, and Harry openly cried out in pleasure as Louis skillfully dragged against his prostate and kissed his neck. Shaking in ecstasy, Harry dragged his nails down Louis' back, noises pouring filthy and fast from his mouth.

Harry's sweet moans and whines mingled with the soft grunts of Louis' and the sound of their wet skin sliding together, Louis' balls slapping against Harry's taint as he fucked him hard and fast now.

"Oh my fucking God, I'm gonna come," Harry sobbed out weakly, voice raw and broken as he desperately clutched Louis closer.

"Uh, uh, uh, God," Louis muttered back, vac stinging from Harry's scratches, only spurring his strong thrusts and eager cock on.

"I'm-- fuck, yes-- Lou-- Daddy!" Harry wailed out, body seizing up as he weakly spawned and clenched around Louis' fat cock. His own spurted wet, messy heat between their rubbing bellies, sticky and warm. Louis froze just moments after, Harry's rhythmic twitches around his dick making him spill his own seed, deep inside Harry's bum.

They just lay panting for a minute or two, sweaty, overheated, and weak from orgasm. Louis slowly pulled out, Harry wincing with a slight gasp as semen gushed out after him. Louis chuckled tiredly, standing on wobbly legs to go run a bubble bath in his jet tub.

"Which scent d'you prefer?" Louis called from the other room. "Vanilla, strawberries, coconut--?"

"Mm, I want all three," Harry replied with a yawn, about to summon the energy to roll off the bed and stand before Louis appeared and scooped him up, carrying him to the loo and gently placing him in the hot, steamy, and bubbly bath. "Fuck, Louis, you're amazing," Harry moaned, melting like caramel. Louis just grinned, gently peeling his sweaty curls off his forehead and tucking them back.

"I try."

----

They fell asleep twined up in Louis'' bed, snuggled up and pleased. Louis held his little spoon all night, hardly daring to believe it was love.

Chapter Text

Chapter Six

Harry walked into Louis’ office, balancing two paper cups in each hand a bag of pastries. “I’ve got us coffees!” he said in a singsong voice. Louis looked up from his work with a fond smile playing on his lips.

“But not just any coffee, love. It’s special coffee,” Harry continued proudly. “It’s finally the season for it. So. I got us a peppermint mocha and a gingerbread latte!”

Louis wrinkled his nose in disgust. “Don’t put those hellish concoctions on my desk,” he hissed, rolling his eyes. “Where did you even get that?”

“Starbucks, you grinch. It’s Christmas! Aren’t you excited?” Harry chuckled, putting the coffees down in front of Louis anyway and taking the lids off so that the heavenly aromas would reach Louis.

“December is just a normal month, Harold,” Louis snorted, but the fondness in his eyes told Harry that he was just endeared. Harry sat down and leaned over the desk to press a kiss to Louis’ lips-- one of the perks of being the boss... well. Whatever it was that he was. They hadn’t really labelled it yet, but Harry had secretly been calling Louis his boyfriend when he talked about him to his family and friends. Gemma was dying to meet this new boyfriend of his, and Harry knew there were only so many times he could tell her that he was busy before it started getting suspicious. But he just didn’t know how to have that awkward conversation with Louis.


Harry pushed those thoughts away and offered him a pastry. “Where is your Christmas spirit, Louis?” he accused him playfully. “Where is the child inside of you, huh? Where is your sense of adventure?”

Louis’ eyes twinkled as he took a bite of the pastry Harry got him. “Well… Maybe my Christmas spirit or sense of adventure or whatever is lost. But I think I know of a way you can help me get it back,” he smirked.

“... What are you planning now, Tomlinson?” Harry asked wearily, claiming the peppermint mocha as his own as he took a sip, though he had a feeling that he might end up getting both the beverages. Not that it had been his intention all along at all, no sir…

Louis opened his drawer and got out a pristine white envelope. “Open it.”

Harry carefully tore it open like he was scared the edges were laced with poison.

“Louis…” He whispered, his gaze dancing over the printed paper over and over again as he tried to take it in. “I can’t accept this.”

“It’s not just for you, love. It’s for the both of us,” Louis urged and got up to get to Harry’s side, sitting down next to him instead. Placing a hand on Harry’s thigh, Louis looked at him with that look that made Harry want to kiss him and punch him at the same time.

“But… Rome… That’s too much, Louis,” Harry murmured, worrying his bottom lip. “That’s way too much, I can’t accept it. I can’t afford it.”

“This is my treat, you silly bean,” Louis kissed the tip of Harry’s nose. “You don’t have to pay a dime. Well, you can buy me a gelato if you want. But that’s it. I’m not letting you spend anything.”

“That’s not the point, Lou,” Harry murmured, sighing. “It’s just that… I couldn’t pay for any of this. And I don’t want to take advantage of your money.”

“You’re not. I’m offering, and I’m not expecting anything in return,” Louis shook his head. “Please, Harry? You can’t let me go alone,” he looked at Harry with those big eyes and his bottom lip jutted out in a pout, and there was no way Harry could say no.

“Not even a blowjob?” Harry teased, chuckling as he kissed Louis’ upper lip.

“Well… I wouldn’t protest if you wanted to suck me off,” Louis laughed, shaking his head. “But no. Please don’t think that I want you to do those things as a sort of payment. That’s just wrong on so many levels.”

Harry smirked a little when Louis absentmindedly reached for the cup and took a sip before grimacing. “I had no idea gingerbread tasted this vile in liquid form,” Louis groaned, resisting the urge to spit it back into the cup and just forced himself to swallow it down.

“You just don’t like it because you’ve made up your mind to hate it,” Harry rolled his eyes, feeling like he was talking to a toddler. “But. Back to blowjobs,” he grinned, running a hand down Louis’ chest. He had no idea what it was about this office, but it always made Harry want to do naughty things. Naughty, dirty, unspeakably sexy things.

“Only if you want to and not because you feel like you owe me something,” Louis chuckled, shaking his head. “But I have a better idea, actually,” he hummed. He loosened his tie and got up, pushing the coffee cups and pastries away to make room on his large desk before motioning for Harry to get on it.

A shiver ran through Harry’s spine as he did as he was told. “Like this?” he whispered, kneeling on the table with his back facing Louis.

Louis nodded, kissing down Harry’s neck. “Just perfect,” he purred in his ear as he undid Harry’s belt, the metal of his belt buckle making a soft thud as it hit the table. “You’re always perfect, babe.”

Harry blushed, helping Louis get his tight pants off, thinking it would probably be easier if he had done this before he got on top of the table, but some things just seemed good in your mind until you actually did it. But he managed to pry his jeans and boxers off, panting slightly as he glanced back at Louis over his shoulder. “I can’t suck you off this way,” he pouted.

Louis grinned, continuing his trail of kisses down Harry’s shoulder. “But that’s not what I was going to do either.”

Harry made a soft noise of questioning, slightly uncertain and confused about what was going on. “Well.” He cocked his head slightly and peered back over his shoulder with a perplexed expression. “Then what are you--?!” Harry gasped and cut off midway through his question. “Oh my god,” he whispered, cheeks burning, as Louis gently massaged his ass cheeks.

His strong fingers dug in a bit harder, poking his meticulously-kept nails into the skin and leaving indents. Harry was bright red, cheeks flushed a rosy apple color, and he made a quiet noise of vague protest. He had dated a few lads in his time, that was true; but none of them had ever done any ass play beyond fingering and obviously anal sex. Louis, he had a feeling, wasn't going to be doing either of those. Seconds later, his suspicions were confirmed as Louis leaned down, nuzzling between his bum cheeks, and licked a tiny kitten lick right over Harry's hole.

“Louis!” he squeaked softly. “Louis-- you really don't have to do this, or anything, really. Rome. Rome is enough, thank you,” Harry whispered shakily, feeling a million butterflies swirl in his tummy, a mixture of apprehension and undeniable excitement. Louis didn't answer verbally by any means, merely lapped his tongue in a broad, long stroke up Harry's ass crack. “Louis,” Harry managed another weak protest, his strength and resolve weakening. It felt so bloody good, so different and new in the most exciting way possible. His fortitude had nearly jumped ship by the time Louis finally pulled back to answer.

“I want to. Love the way you taste, baby,” Louis hummed, practically a growl rasping in his chest. Harry's remaining protest crumbled like a cookie dipped in milk, and he couldn't help but bow his front, arching his back and presenting his ass like a cat in heat.

“Oh fuck, Lou,” Harry groaned. His cock stirred to life between his legs, arching up towards his belly button with every lick and lap around his hole-- but the ones directly on it made his newfound erection twitch, and dribble pre-come like a leaky faucet. “Fuck,” he whispered near reverently. “Your mouth…” Harry gave a sharp, muffled cry as Louis bit his right bum cheek, rumbling low in his chest.

“You're mine, Hazza, babes. Mine, mine, mine,” Louis whispered possessively, clearly driven by the heat and passion of the moment. Harry peered between his legs-- thank you, morning, hot yoga sessions-- and watched Louis’ cock, visibly swollen through his trousers, with the angry red head peeking out of the top of his belted waistband to say hi. His own erection swayed with each of his body's movements, subtle or not, and dribbled pre whenever something particularly blissful happened back there.

“Oh, fuck,” Harry whined low in his throat, arching his back and shoving his ass in Louis’ face. “Do that again. Please, please,” he begged, moaning as Louis’ tongue rubbed intimately against his entrance. Yelping, Harry tried to jerk away as Louis nibbled hungrily at his rim, but his boss’ hands clamped around his hips like a vice and held him quite still, no matter his twitching, jerking, rutting movements. Getting increasingly desperate, Harry started humping in the air as best as he could, feeling Louis’ strong grip leaving him later bruises, which only turned him on even more. He loved to admire his body well-marked up by the man he loved. It made him feel special, cherished, and fiercely, territorially wanted.

“Fuck, fuck, Louis,” Harry hiccuped desperately. “It's-- your mouth, fuck,” he blurted out, pressing his cheek into the desk and rocking his hips back into the undulating movement of Louis’ broad tongue. “I'm so-- your tongue,” he whispered, trying to cool his cheeks on the chilled wood beneath him. Louis laughed, and the sounds vibrated through Harry's body, making his hips rut forwards hard enough his wet cock slapped into his belly and left a smear of pre-come.

“Fuck, fuck, you look so hot,” Louis muttered, tightening his hold on Harry to nearly too tight, but it only made him purr. “Your body, shit, Harry, I want to do so much, I want to do it all with you,” he groaned, reaching down to press a hand to his uncomfortable cock. Harry whimpered and wiggled his ass, begging for just a little more so he could hopefully come, seek his sweet, anticipated release.

Louis took his wordless suggestion and bent down to really go at his hole now, licking and nibbling and lapping eagerly. Harry trembled, cock twitching and dripping as he pressed back into Louis’ touch. He didn't come until Louis managed to actually poke his tongue somewhat inside with a pointed tip.

“Oh, oh, oh god, shit, Louis,” Harry half sobbed, melting into the desk like he'd lost all control of his muscles. His cock spurted forcefully all over the desk, come splashing everywhere, and he was mortified to see that he'd actually managed to get it on some of Louis’ incredibly important papers. Harry turned to offer an apologetic blowjob, but saw there was no need. Louis looked winded, relaxed back into his chair, come stains on his crotch and some in his shirt hem. His face was flushed, his eyes dark, his hair a tousled, fluffy bird’s nest… And his mouth was swollen and red. Harry launched himself into his lap with a happy chirp.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Harry squeaked, nuzzling his throat. “I need to clean up, sorry.” He hopped off and headed directly for the private loo, blushing as Louis made the discovery that some of his papers had gotten collateral damage. Oopsie.

--

Zayn was just about to knock on Louis’ office door when Liam quickly stopped him, grabbing Zayn’s wrist. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” Liam grimaced.

“Why? Is Louis in a meeting or summat?” Zayn asked, realising that Liam was still holding his hand even though he didn’t have to anymore.

Liam just shook his head, looking like a man who had seen things he regretted seeing. “No, he’s just there with Harry.”

“Oh. Is he busy, then?” Zayn asked.

Liam grimaced. “Just... You don’t want to go in there. And if I were you, I’d never touch that table ever again.”

Zayn frowned a little, eyeing Liam like he wasn’t sure Liam still had all of his marbles in order. “What’s going on?”

Liam sighed, shaking his head. “Let’s just say that Harry doesn’t know that Louis’ office isn’t soundproof, and… Louis doesn’t care to tell him,” he muttered.

Zayn blinked a few times until it sunk in properly. He let out a loud laugh and patted Liam’s shoulder. “Come on, let’s get you a drink to help you recover from that traumatising experience.”

He went to Liam’s office and looked around until he found an unopened bottle of twenty year old scotch that looked rather fancy.

“That’s a gift from Louis. He insists that I keep it here for a rainy day though I’ve told him that I don’t drink at work,” Liam rolled his eyes.

“Well, there is a first time for everything, right?” Zayn grinned and opened the bottle, pouring some of the amber liquid in two glasses.

Liam squeaked, shaking his head. “Mr. Malik, I can’t. Not during work.”

“How many times do I have to tell you to call me Zayn?” he sighed, handing Liam the glass anyway. “And I think it would do you well to loosen up a bit, Leeyum.”

Liam hesitantly accepted the glass and sniffed the content, wrinkling his nose. “I’ve never really understood the point of expensive scotch. It all tastes the same to me, like rubbing alcohol,” he murmured.

Zayn giggled, much to Liam’s surprise, and nodded. “I know, I can’t taste the difference either. And I’m sure that the people who say they can are just bluffing to make themselves seem more sophisticated or whatever,” he murmured, taking a sip of his glass and grimacing at the taste. “But it’s a quick way to get drunk. And it makes you look pretty bad ass,” he grinned.

“I’ll agree with you on the bad ass part,” Liam laughed, his shoulders looking a little more relaxed now as he took a seat opposite to Zayn. He still couldn’t stop himself from blushing around him, but at least he wasn’t making a complete fool of himself anymore. That had to be a definite bonus.

Zayn smiled softly, looking into Liam’s eyes. Liam opened his mouth to say something, but jumped when his phone started ringing.

“I’m sure the coast is clear now. You can probably go see Louis. But knock first. And have a nice day,” Liam said politely and walked him out of his office.

Zayn was a little taken aback by how short Liam was with him all of a sudden. “Alright. I’ll see you around, Liam,” he sighed.

“You too, Mr. Malik,” Liam murmured, closing his door.

--

They headed for Rome after spending Christmas with their respective families. Harry had insisted that he wanted to do something for Louis’ birthday, but Louis had told him that going away on their trip together was more than enough. It didn’t stop Harry from sending Louis a bracelet that he made himself.

 

Just before their trip, Harry had made arrangements with Perrie to get his mail and feed his cat, and he didn't even need to ask for time off, since Louis was the sponsor for the entire trip. It was a private affair, and Louis had no interest in taking a commercial flight, since anybody could catch them in a cuddly moment and put two and two together.

So Louis fucking rented a private jet. Like it was nothing. He even got a bright green one, because Harry had mentioned it was his favorite color besides pink, and Louis refused to ride in a fuchsia plane.

“I can't believe it,” Harry murmured in awe, craning his head back to fully admire the sleek little jet. He had already dropped off his bags with Louis’ and now he just had to board. “And I also can’t believe that you genuinely think that a green plane is better than a pink one,” he added.

Louis just laughed and helped Harry onto the jet as though Harry’s clumsy feet wouldn’t be able to walk up the small metal steps without help. Knowing Harry, he probably wouldn’t.

The flight itself was pretty uneventful and Harry fell asleep after just half an hour into the ride. By the time he woke up, they had already landed and Louis was shaking him awake. “We’re here, love. Did you have a good sleep?” he smirked, as though he hadn’t had to listen to Harry snore for the past few hours while attempting to sleep himself.

Harry yawned and nodded, stretching his gangly limbs as he got up. “My neck is killing me a bit, but yeah. It was nice,” he hummed.

“I’ll give you a massage when we get to the hotel,” Louis promised.

It was already dark outside so Harry couldn’t see much of the city as they drove towards the city centre, but he still had his face pressed to the window of the limo, trying to see as much as he could.

“It’s still going to be here in the morning, love,” Louis chuckled. “

“I know,” Harry whispered, blushing. “It’s just so beautiful. I can’t believe that you brought me here, like you actually brought me here..” he murmured.

“You just wait and see what I have planned for us. You’re going to be so impressed,” Louis grinned.

“I already am,” Harry shook his head, chuckling. When they got to the hotel, Harry knew he shouldn’t be surprised that it looked so fancy that he knew he wouldn’t even be able to afford a single night in their smallest room. Not to mention the penthouse suite that Louis had gotten them.

“Louis, this is too much,” Harry murmured, taking in the view from the large window by the bed.

Louis wrapped an arm around Harry’s waist from behind, pressing his lips against Harry’s neck. “Nothing is too much for my favourite boy,” he smirked. “I’m starving, though. Do you want to order in some room service or ask the reception if they can get us a table at a restaurant they recommend?” he asked.

“Ehm,” Harry paused a moment to think, groaning a bit as he flopped out on his back, spread-eagled naturally, and struggled to decide. “Louis, I'm shit, actual shit, at decisions. Honest. There's a reason I'm not a power top,” he snorted playfully, “and it isn't just because my arse is fantastic, either, thank you. I'm not bossy, I don't take charge. I don't wanna decide this,” Harry complained noisily, breathing out a huffy sigh of clear displeasure.

“Pick,” Louis ordered with a quiet snort of amusement, raising a brow at Harry and grinning crookedly down at his sprawled form. “Now.”

“Fine,” Harry puffed at him moodily, grumbling as he stretched out and yawned sweetly. “Let's see… Uh. Let's do room service? It's a bit late, honestly, and I have plane bedhead and I'm wearing my comfy clothes, not a fancy Italian restaurant kip,” he snorted, smiling lopsidedly up at Louis and fluttering his lashes. “I want pizza, please. Or is that just Venice? I could've swore somebody told me Rome had good pizza…” Harry trailed off, muttering vaguely to himself before realizing Louis was staring at him in obvious amusement. “Oh! Uh. Thank you!”

“Okay. How about you just let me order us whatever I think looks good? You in the mood for some wine?” Louis teased, waggling his eyebrows suggestively.

“Why I never! Louis Tomlinson, are you trying to wine and dine me?” Harry gasped, pretending to act utterly scandalized as he pressed a hand to his mouth and fanned himself.

“Harry. We're in Rome, not the Deep South of the USA,” Louis retorted.

“I'm sorry,” Harry sighed. “The plane movie was Steel Magnolias! This isn't my fault, darlin’,” Harry attempted to twang, failing quite spectacularly, unfortunately. Louis snorted and threw a pillow at his face, calling the front desk and ordering on the balcony so Harry couldn't hear.

After having a wee and attempting to at least placate the beast that were his curls-- honestly, some days he felt like Medusa with her gorgon snake hair-- Harry joined Louis quite happily on the deck.

“Oh Louis,” he breathed, stunned by the view all over again. “It's beautiful.” So many bright, twinkling lights, the sun setting in the west, pigeons roosting on statues and around archways of buildings older than the eldest person on earth. It was truly a sight to behold. “It's-- spectacular. I have no idea how to accept a gift of this magnitude,” he complained softly, no real bite behind his words. “I really haven't the slightest clue,” he confessed with a grin and a snuggle closer to him. “But… I suppose that's okay,” he sighed, playing reluctant.

“Oh hush,” Louis snorted. “Me providing for you gives you the biggest gold-digger boner.”

Harry squeaked his protest, crossing his arms grumpily. “Does not! You liar,” he huffed, turning away and harrumphing angrily. “Honestly,” he puffed, narrowing his eyes and grumbling quietly to himself with a quiet noise. “You're just dumb,” he snorted. “Thinking that's why I love you,” he grumbled. “It's got much more than your money. You happen to have a giant cock and tolerable personality as well.”

“Tolerable?” Louis muffled a snort. “Very flattering depiction of me, Hazza bean. I'm so touched you took the time to compliment me, particularly while speaking so highly of me.” He muffled a sweet laugh, beyond amused as he blinked at Harry and grinned.

“... Oh, fine. I love that you're rich. But I'm not a gold-digger. The money is like-- a bonus. Not the reason I like you. Nothing but a bonus,” he promised with a smirk. “And if you don't believe me, that's just too bad. Too damn bad. Because it's true. I like Louis William Tomlinson for himself, not his money, power, position, hot bod, great cock. Just him.”

“Awww, getting sappy are we?” Louis teased, but he was actually a bit touched, honestly. He had a tiny bit of tears gathering in his eyes. “But. Yeah. That was sweet. I appreciate it,” he muttered, eyes narrowing as he grumbled and huffed to himself. “But I'm not a lady because I said that. I'm just a slightly sensitive man,” he muttered unhappily.

“It's okay,” Harry murmured, voice softening gently as he nosed into him and rumbled. “You're great. I legitimately, one hundred percent adore you,” he whispered quietly.

“... And I you,” Louis returned with a shaky sigh. Sometimes he wondered if he'd fallen for Harry too fast. If even he was able to stop himself from loving him. It didn't seem very possible to him, honestly.

“You do? Really? Well. That's reassuring. It would suck to get dumped right outside of a pretty, extravagant hotel in Rome. I don't think I can afford plane tickets home,” Harry chuckled, attempting to lighten the mood. Louis took the bait.

“It would, wouldn't it?” he murmured with a very faint smirk of amusement. He would never, of course, but it was slightly funny to pretend. Harry nudged him.

“I'll go to the press, I will,” he snorted, wrapping around Louis like a little love leech. “Don't think I won't,” he threatened playfully. “And I'll get you hanged,” he threatened cutely, all narrowed eyes and grumpy grumbling. “Or at least social suicide.”

Louis gently scoffed and nosed into him. “Let's not fight, darling,” he hummed, winking at him and grinning widely. With a flourish, he half pushed Harry into the bed, eyes glittering eagerly as he nosed into him. “You wanna play around? Snog a bit? Get a little hot and heavy?” he goaded.

Harry was just leaning up to kiss him when the door was politely rapped on. “Room service!”

He groaned and snuggled closer to Louis, looking pretty fairly grumpy and put out as he pouted at Louis needily, whining the slightest bit. “Daddy,” he whined cutely, nosing his cheek and huffing.

 

“We need to eat. Cmon, baby,” he cooed sweetly, nosing him and purring.

 

“But you got me all riled up and--...” Harry sighed. “Fine, let’s eat. I’m starving anyway.”

 

They ate in relative silence while Harry flicked through the channels, finding it rather amusing that the Italians dubbed just about every single thing on their TV stations. He found a station that played CSI dubbed in Italian and made Louis watch it even though neither of them understood a single word of what was going on.

 

By the end of the night, they were both stuffed full and giggly, trying their best to imitate the characters on the show. “Bellissimo!” Harry laughed, making grabby hands at Louis. “Uh.. Molto bella,” he snickered, just trying to repeat whatever little Italian he had heard during the London Fashion Week by some of the designers. “Molto di moda!”

 

“Babe, do you even know what you’re saying?” Louis snorted, leaning his head on Harry’s chest, looking at him with his eyes crinkled and his gaze so fond that Harry wanted to just freeze that moment forever. He yawned and shook his head. “I have no idea,” he admitted.

 

“...I think I love you,” Louis whispered, yawning.

 

Harry’s heart skipped a beat. “I think I love you too,” he whispered, running a hand through Louis’ hair. They fell asleep like that, curled up into one another, holding each other like their lives depended on it.

 

--

 

Getting Louis to wake up the next morning was no easy feat. Harry had to bribe him with promises of ice cream and blowjobs, but he managed to drag him out of bed and on to sightseeing.

 

He made Louis take touristy pictures of him in front of the Colosseum, standing in a way that it looked like he was taking a huge bite of the chunk of the building that was missing. Harry pouted until Louis agreed to throw coins with him at the Trevi fountain. It took him some time, but finally he got Louis to pose dramatically with him in front of the Spanish Steps as another tourist took a photo of them.

 

The touristy things were fun to do and he got a multitude of likes on the photos he posted to facebook. Of course, he could only post the pictures where he was standing alone, no matter how bad he wanted to share the amazing photos he took of Louis or the sneaky shots he took of them kissing by the Trevi fountain. He told people that he was on a short vacation alone to ‘find himself’, explore the world and have fun. Little did they know that the sort of fun he was having mostly took place between hotel bedsheets while he bit into a pillow so he wouldn’t wake up the whole building.

 

But as much fun as the touristy things were, they couldn’t compare to the little random things that Louis dragged him along to do like sitting under a tree in a random park that he had never heard of, or attend a small concert of a local screamo band that made Harry’s ears kind of bleed. The music wasn’t really his taste, but it had been fun sharing that experience with Louis. Or rather, to see the look on Louis’ face when he realised that it wasn’t a classical music event he had gotten tickets to.

 

And the sex, holy shit, the sex. Harry knew he was shameless, but Louis gave as good as he got. He pulled Harry into a very expensive restaurant’s loo, locked the stall and had Harry blow him, then fixed his hair, patted Harry's cheek, and went back out for dessert like nothing had happened. Harry, in return, yanked him into an alley and palmed him into full hardness while engaging in a snog session, before flouncing away just as Louis was really getting into it.

 

It was like a contest; where could they fool around the most publicly without getting caught? Harry let Louis grind against his bum during a play until he came in his pants, then refused to help clean up the stain. In retaliation, Louis pulled his curls strategically all throughout a wine tasting until Harry was a shaky mess that had the server asking if he was ill in a very concerned tone.

 

It was dangerous and exciting, of course, because of the hidden and forbidden nature of their relationship, but even the hotel room sex was great. There was a particular favorite, besides all of the rough, doggy style on Harry's knees in front of the mirror, or intimate, slow, love-making in the moonlight: Harry pinned Louis to the lounge chaise on their balcony leading to their own private pool, and happily oiled him up with suntan lotion before using some to open himself up. Once Louis’ gaze, hungry and heavy, burned as brightly as the sun did on his flushed skin, he positioned himself and sank down on Louis’ cock, simultaneous groans escaping. Harry rode him until his calves shook and his thighs quivered, then let Louis pound up into him with steady grunts. They came almost at the same time, wet sticky heat as their sweaty skin slid together. Louis kissed him hard and Harry tasted the syrupy strawberry of his daiquiri. It was a good fuck.

 

On their last night there, they were walking down a rather broad road with street musicians and outdoor restaurants and Harry squeezed Louis’ hand. “Thank you for bringing me here,” he whispered. “It was everything I could have dreamt of and more,” he murmured.

 

Louis squeezed his hand back. “I think I should be the one thanking you,” he murmured.

 

Harry frowned at him. “I don’t understand. You were the one who flew me here. You got us an amazing hotel and took me to do all these cool things. Granted, I had to force you to do some of those thi--...”

 

“Harry,” Louis chuckled, interrupting him. “Let me finish, will ya?”

Harry blushed and nodded.

 

“Okay, here goes,” Louis took a deep breath. “I just meant that during these few days here, I’ve felt so… well… normal. I wasn’t Louis Tomlinson, leading fashion designer and mogul. I wasn’t the CEO of a multi million pound company. I wasn’t hounded by paparazzi. But most importantly, you didn’t treat me with silk gloves. You never make me feel like anyone else other than myself,” he murmured.

 

“That’s not true,” Harry blushed. “When I started working with you I couldn’t even look at you without choking.”

 

“Yeah, that’s true,” Louis laughed fondly at the memory, though he was absolutely sure that Harry would never stop laughing at him if he admitted that he still had that shirt that Harry spilled coffee on and hadn’t cleaned it purely because it reminded him of Harry’s first week at work. “But you don’t do that anymore. You don’t use me for my power or position. You don’t take advantage of the fact that I have money. So thank you.”

 

Harry rolled his eyes. “If you think you have to thank me for being a normal, decent human being, I wonder what kind of people you’re used to meeting, Louis Tomlinson,” he sighed.

 

Louis just hugged him, stopping completely. “I’m doing a fucking awful job of telling you how I feel,” he groaned.

 

“Yes, yes you are,” Harry laughed.

 

Louis rolled his eyes and flicked his nose. “I love you, you silly boy,” he whispered.

 

Harry smiled and leaned down to kiss him. “I love you too.”

 

As they kissed, Harry wished it would never end. Of course, he should have known that life was never that easy or courteous. Just a little while after their return from Italy, Harry got the letter he never thought he would get. As he opened it, his heart sank and he had to read it over and over again, mouthing the words to himself in disbelief. Dread washed over him as he rubbed his eyes and reread the printed words.

"Fuck."



Chapter Text

Harry was just tying his shoes when he saw the letters on his doormat. The first one was just his phone bill that he put aside, not wanting to see just how much he had gone over his data limit this month. The next one was a little puzzling to him. The LT LIMITED logo at the left hand corner of the envelope was glaring at him in all its gold printed pompour.

 

He had already gotten his Christmas bonus - a rather handsome one, if he was being honest. So it couldn’t be that. It wasn’t his monthly paycheck either since he had gotten that just a few days ago. And he was sure Louis would have given it to him personally if he wanted to renew his contract. There really wasn’t any reason why he should be getting a seemingly impersonal looking letter from his not-really-but-yes-really boyfriend’s company.

 

Ripping the envelope open, he read the words to himself before stopping in his tracks. He rubbed his eyes and read it again. “What the--...”

 

Hands shaking, he read the letter over and over again until it felt like he could repeat every sentence, every word without looking at it. But still none of it made sense to him. He just couldn’t wrap his head around it. He understood what the words meant, but he couldn’t understand why.

 

Dear Mr. Styles,

 

This letter is to inform you that, effective immediately, you no longer hold the position of Mr. Tomlinson’s secretary. As per the conditions of your contract, please allow this letter to serve as a termination of your contract. I think that you will find that this 30-day notice satisfies the legal constraints of the agreement and allows us to severe this contract without any further need for legal action.

 

You will receive 12 weeks of severance pay at your normal weekly salary. During the time period that the severance covers, we will continue to provide health insurance coverage. Additionally, payment for your accrued PTO will be included in your final paycheck which you will receive on our regular pay day, Friday. You may pick up this check from the reception desk or we can mail it to your home. You will receive the severance payment once you have signed and returned the enclosed release of claims document.


We request that you kindly return your office keycard, identification badge, and the company owned laptop to the reception or via mail as soon as possible. You will find that your keycard and passcodes no longer work.

 

We want you to know that this layoff is not a statement about your work for LT LIMITED. You have been a dedicated, contributing employee. If you wish us to speak on your behalf to potential employers, please sign and return the enclosed form. It gives us your permission to discuss your employment with potential employers.

 

Please let us know if we can assist you during your transition.

 

Regards,

Louis William Tomlinson

 

--



The last nail in the coffin was seeing Louis’ full name written like that, like he was some stranger who Harry barely knew. Not someone he had watched fall asleep, not someone whom he had kissed good morning, or laughed with over a glass of wine until the sun went down, wrapped up in the same blanket.

 

He didn’t even know if he should laugh or cry. The whole thing was just too bizarre and had it not been for his name on the letter, he would have thought it was sent to the wrong person. He even entertained the idea that someone else from Louis’ office had sent this letter to him as a prank, but Louis’ signature was there. And it wasn’t even a crappy copied electronic signature. Louis had taken the time to sign it by hand with blue ink.

 

He felt like his world was ending, everything was crumbling. He was in love with Louis, for fuck’s sakes! Jesus Christ. Harry was upset, unhappy, and confused. “Goddamn it,” he whispered softly, clutching the letter and staring down in despair. “I don't understand,” he mumbled, fighting back tears.

 

Helpless, he did the only thing he could think of: call Louis. There was no answer. He declined to leave a message. He refused to stoop as low as to leave a voice message asking Louis to explain himself.

 

He called his mum next, leaving her a tearful voice message as he stared at the letter in obvious mournful despair. “Mum? I-- I need you right now, I think,” he whispered thickly. “I've been dating this guy-- and well, I love him actually-- but something just happened. And I need, I need my mum,” he whispered into the phone sadly. He then retreated to his bedroom like a wounded animal, shaking and struggling not to sob like a toddler. It wasn't fair, and he was so bloody confused.

 

He got a return call from Anne just a few minutes after waking up from his despair nap. He was half praying it had all been a dream-- but. No. Louis had actually terminated him with a fucking letter. His boyfriend had fired him with a bloody letter. There had to be some sort of explanation, some way this all made sense, surely. But why wouldn't Louis speak with him first? Why wouldn't he give him a heads up? A warning? A clue? A sign? Something, for fuck’s sake.

 

Harry answered his phone as soon as it started ringing, slapping the green icon for talk open and muttering, “Hello?”

 

“Oh, baby doll. Harry, what's wrong? What's happened?” his mum’s kind and sweet voice came through the speaker on his cell. “Are you okay? You sounded so upset, I'm so worried. Please, baby, speak to me.”

 

“... I got fired,” Harry whispered, snot filling his nose as he sniffled and wiped himself with a tissue. “I just got a letter. I've been fired, mummy,” he whimpered, clearly quite upset. He blew his nose and rubbed his eyes, grumbling and shaking his head. His curls went everywhere and he heaved a sigh. “And… Louis signed it,” he murmured. “His full, real, and actual signature. In blue ink. I ate brekkie with him yesterday morning. We chatted over tea and some biscuits. Everything was normal,” he sighed, shaking his head. “No hint of this. Not even a suggestion,” he whimpered.

 

“God, I'm so pissed at him,” she growled, eyes narrowing as she shook her head and huffed. “I'm gonna skin him alive. Jesus Christ. I'm coming up. I'm gonna come up. I'm getting a ticket right now, okay? Flying in to London. Taking the train. Bloody gonna drive there. I don't give a shit, how big he is, how much money he makes. What a stupid douchebag,” she scoffed angrily. “I'm gonna kill him,” Anne decided grimly.

 

“Muuuum,” Harry whispered. “Mummy, you can't kill him. That's illegal. Besides, what the hell would you use?” he half wondered. “You haven't got a gun, access to poison…”

 

“I was gonna send him African killer bees,” she replied matter-of-factly. “Figure that might work, to be perfectly honest,” she huffed, stretching out luxuriously and cracking her spine as she vaguely thought about googling how to buy bees. “But then what if they got loose… Ugh. I'll just stab him, I guess? You can work wonders with a simple nail file.”

 

“Muuuum, stop it,” he giggled, cheering up slightly despite himself. “Okay. So you're booking your ticket right now?” Harry double checked. “I can front the money.” At least his severance pay was actually a lovely, fat check. It would pad his wallet until he found a new job.

 

“Yes, baby,” Anne confirmed happily. “I'll be there by seven pm at the latest, Harry,” she promised him. “I've just got to finish up a few things and I'll be on my way. Don't even think about paying. I just got a bonus, so. You can just treat me to dinner later, yeah?” she hummed softly. Harry's smile grew and he ducked his head, already feeling half comforted by just her voice. A mother's love was no laughing matter, after all.

 

“Okay, mum. Thank you,” he sighed happily. “Honestly. Thank you,” Harry whispered again, calming himself and rubbing his eyes. “You've made me feel so much better.”

 

“Well,” Anne sighed, her voice softening significantly. “That is my job. It's in there with something about changing nappies and cleaning bottles.” She groaned softly. “I need to go pack, alright?”

 

“Yeah,” Harry agreed softly. “You go do that.”

 

“I'll see you soon, baby,” she whispered, smile crooked and eyes soft. “Alright. Bye. I love you.”

 

“Love you too.”

 

Harry turned his phone off and tossed it to the side, shaking his head sadly before curling up under the covers in an effort to forget the world.

 

---

 

Harry wallowed in bed for about three hours, only interrupted when a knock came at his door. Groaning, he stretched out and unhappily sighed, sore and sad. He stood up and slowly trudged to the door, rubbing his eyes and trying to look like he hadn't spent half the day crying and throwing a massive pity party with the attendance of one.

 

“Hello?” Harry asked, opening the door without checking who it was first.

 

“Harry? You turned your mobile off! Louis fired Nick and there was this massive scream fight-- I couldn't tell what the hell was going on,” Perrie greeted him, holding a huge mint hot chocolate and offering it to him for safe passage. Graciously, Harry accepted and practically snatched it from her petite hands.

 

“I-- he fired Nick?” Then why the hell was Harry himself canned? What game was Louis playing, for fuck’s sake? Harry had no idea, but he was sure as hell perplexed. And upset, he couldn't just forget that emotion.

 

“Yeah! They had a giant, screaming bitchfight, Nick kept yelling about picture proof and your name, but Louis didn't seem fazed by it. He called security and actually destroyed Nick’s mobile and work email. He looked pretty elated about it, actually. I guess Nick was totally trashing our best magazine spread,” Perrie explained it to the best of her knowledge.

 

“Wow,” he murmured, stunned and still vaguely upset. What the fuck was happening? Was it backwards day and nobody told him? His entire world felt so topsy-turvy and upside down. Harry was lost.

 

“Yeah. Bit of a crazy day, I'd say,” Perrie laughed lightly, coming inside to make herself at home. “Liam looked like he was gonna have a conniption fit, but whatever Louis told him privately must've sorted it out.”

 

“I see… Well.” Harry scrubbed a hand over his face, deciding not to say anything about he'd just been fired himself. “What a day. Sucks I missed it. I had to be home early, I had an appointment.”

 

“That's quite alright, I thought you must be sick or summat to miss a day. But I figured you wouldn't mind a little bit of company and some lovely work gossip,” Perrie giggled sweetly. “Don't you think?”

 

“... It was certainly something,” Harry agreed. Shaking his head, he nursed his drink between two clasped hands and blinked slowly at the steam curling up from his cup. He heaved a massive sigh, blinking slowly and rubbing his eyes. “Well. Thank you so much for stopping by, I really appreciate it, but I really need to get some stuff around here, sweetheart.” He faked a cough, and it wasn’t too hard to pretend. His eyes were puffy and face was blotchy from crying, and his nose was still running. “I’m feeling a little under the weather.”

 

“Oh! I'm sorry,” Perrie apologized, hardly fussed or flustered as Harry clearly hid quite well how upset he actually was. “I'll be getting out of your hair then, no worries,” Perrie promised him, smiling and blowing him a kiss. “Call me later? I'll let you know if Louis does anything crazy, swear it,” she giggled playfully, giving him a quick hug and squeeze before Harry walked her to the door and watched her get to her car safely.

 

Harry checked the time; it was around six or so. He should probably eat something, but to be perfectly honest, he wasn't exactly feeling very hungry. His appetite was gone, and in was the confusion. Fuck, what a day.

 

“At least Mum will be here soon,” Harry said aloud, comforted by that thought. Checking the time again, he got changed into comfy clothes, slipped on his shoes, and locked the door before going to his car. He drove swiftly towards Heathrow airport, parking close and texting his mum that he was waiting just outside Gate D drop off.



--

 

Anne had kissed Harry’s bruised knees and put countless plasters on his knees before. She had made him chicken noodle soup when he was sick and tomato cheese toasties when he needed a little pick me up. But being in her arms again and just have her hug him right now when he needed it more than ever, it felt better than all of that combined.

 

“Let me make you some hot cocoa,” Was one of the first things Anne said when she stepped into Harry’s apartment.

 

They watched telly in silence and snacked on popcorn and chocolate and it was just what Harry needed that moment. A part of him was scared that Anne would bombard him with questions the minute she saw him, but it was as though she just had some sort of mum super power that allowed her to know what it was he needed that moment. Why this super power hadn’t come into effect when he was younger and she was yelling at him for getting into trouble at school eas confusing to him, but he was glad it worked now when he needed it the most.

 

“So,” Anne said after a while.

 

“So,” Harry repeated softly.

 

“You’ll tell me about him when you feel for it, yeah?” Anne murmured, nuzzling him gently. “I don’t wanna push, but you know that I’m here when you need it.”

 

Harry nodded. Realistically speaking he knew that he couldn’t put it off forever and that Anne couldn’t stay for long either, but right now he just wanted to be her little boy in his mother’s arms. “I know, mum. And I will,” he whispered. “Thank you for being here.”

 

“Nonsense,” Anne muttered. “I always want to be here for my boy.”

 

--

 

The next day Harry woke up to the smell of pancakes and glazed honey, making his stomach growl. He got out of bed quickly and pulled on an oversized t-shirt and a pair of joggers, almost running to the kitchen as fast as his clumsy feet would bring him. He almost tripped over a pair of old socks on the way there, but caught himself by clawing on to the door frame.

 

“You made hotcakes?!” he beamed, sliding on the kitchen counter and almost knocking over a bowl of sugar. Anne, more than used to his antics, seemed to have anticipated this as she moved the bowl the second Harry’s bum touched the counter.

 

“Of course I did,” Anne chuckled. “But only if there’s any batter to make it!” she squeaked when Harry almost knocked the bowl of batter down as he reached to pour himself some coffee.

 

“Oops,” Harry grinned sheepishly and jumped off the counter with his mug of coffee, content for the moment as he let her finish up.

 

With his belly filled with nice hotcakes and way too much syrup, he laid down on the couch and put on some cartoons on the telly, fully intending to not move an inch the whole day. So when the doorbell rang, he couldn’t help but let out a loud growl. “Mu-um!” he called.

 

Anne sighed. “Just get the door, Harry. I’m not your maid.”

 

Harry grumbled, dragging his feet to the door. He just wanted one full day of laying around in his joggers and moping in front of the telly without anyone interrupting his self-thrown pity party. Was that too much to ask for?

 

Thinking it was the mailman, he didn’t bother looking through the eyehole before he opened the door. In retrospect he wish he had. At least that way, he wouldn’t be wearing a t-shirt with holes in it and syrup stain on the chest when he stared Louis Tomlinson right in the face.

 

“You,” Harry deadpanned and stepped back to close the door. He wanted to slam it shut right in Louis’ face and make him hurt just as much as he felt inside right now, but his hand wouldn’t cooperate. In fact, nothing happened. He just stared at Louis like he was looking at a ghost. A part of him wanted answers, wanting Louis to tell him that this was all a big mistake and that Harry could come back to work for him. But the look in Louis’ eyes told him what he needed to know. It wasn’t a mistake.

 

Louis sighed, looking like he hadn’t slept at all in three days. “Please, just let me explain.”

 

Harry gulped, looking at him up and down. “Why?” he muttered, his voice raspy from how dry his throat suddenly was. “Why would I let you do anything? It’s not like you’ve deserved it,” his voice wavered. “It’s not like you--...”

 

“Harry,” Louis whispered, stepping forward. “Please. Please, I need to explain. I know that I’ve been an asshole, I know what it looks like. I know--...” his voice broke. “Please just let me do this one thing and then I won’t ever try to approach you again if you don’t want to talk to me.”

 

Harry glared at him.

 

“Who is that at the door, love?” Anne called out, sticking her head out of the kitchen curiously. “Oh… Is that.... Louis?” she asked, frowning.

 

“Ma’am,” Louis wiped his sweaty palms on his pants, looking like a deer caught in headlights.

 

Anne wouldn’t have any of that. She took her apron off, but didn’t let go of the frying pan she had in her hand, holding it like it was a weapon. “Listen here, you little shit,” she sneered threateningly.

 

Before Anne could come any closer, Harry quickly pulled Louis outside and out of Anne’s death glare. “Mum, I’ve got this. Please don’t maim my boyfriend--... I mean my--... whatever,” he sighed and closed the door behind them. Now he didn’t have any other choice than to look at Louis, the two of them standing at Harry’s doorstep. Luckily none of his neighbours were outside.

 

“You really want to do this here? Outside, where anyone could walk by?” Louis asked nervously.

 

“... I, I don't know,” Harry sighed, tiredly rubbing a hand over his face and frowning. “Is it really not appropriate to talk about it where somebody might hear, Louis? Is it a matter of national security? Are we committing high treason?” he snapped.

 

“It's just-- sensitive topic,” Louis groused. “Isn't there anywhere within a five minutes walking distance where there's absolutely zero chance of anybody overhearing?”

 

So. Harry walked him to the koi pond. It was just down the road from his little flat complex, a short, brisk walk made in bunny slippers and two-days-worn sweats, but Harry was kind of past the point of caring. He guided them down the short pathway that appeared to the right within a copse of trees, and knew the gate code to enter a truly massive backyard, the house-- mansion?-- matching the rest of it. There were A’s inscribed on multiple surfaces, and truly a lot to look at and try to take in, but Harry made no attempt to do any of that, simply walking over to the giant, splashing koi pond.

 

It was a gorgeous pool, an approximately 40,000-litre pond with a waterfall-hidden filtration system help to cycle the water. The surface was dappled in blooming lily pads in the summer, but the pink flowers were long gone by now, the normally green, lush flora brown and dry due to the winter weather. Nonetheless, thanks to the water’s movement and a built-in heater, the pond was unfrozen even on the coldest snaps of winter. At least 100 koi called the pond home, and Harry had several, memorable favorites.

 

“Here, give me a second,” he murmured, pulling out a wee bit of their feed from the bucket. He dropped in a half handful, and soon his friends swam over. “That's Dot,” Harry hummed, pointing at a half-metre long fish, all white save for a giant blood orange splotch on its head. “Sunny,” he continued, gesturing to an aptly-named yellow koi, although it was by far the largest fish of that color. “She's one of the biggest ones. I've seen her steal food from the others.”

 

Next up were two pretty typical-colored koi-- both white, black, and orange. “Patch has that big, black splotch over his right eye, and Sy-- short for Symmetry-- has almost identical markings on both sides, see?” Harry pointed out, smiling widely. Even though his heart was racing in his chest and he was all too aware of Louis’ presence next to him, the fish never failed to calm him down a bit. He came here when he felt like taking a break away from the rest of the world, when he had to be alone with his thoughts. Or now, to talk to Louis, he guessed. “Skeletor should be up in just a mo’. He's the newest and the crown jewel of Jeff’s collection.”

 

A small koi hung back from the rest, white with very unusual black butterfly kind of markings, small and intricate details showing up. “He's a kikokuryu butterfly koi,” Harry huffed proudly. “I made Jeff tell me and everything. He's so pretty,” he sighed, feeling more calm and in control. Harry was ready for the talk now.

 

Louis blinked over at him. “Where the hell are we?”

 

“This is my private place. I know nobody's home, it's too early in the day for that,” Harry replied flippantly. “I have total permission to be here,” he grumbled.

 

“Total permission. I don't-- okay. Obviously it's somebody very rich,” Louis pointed out, gesturing at the lavish fish pond.

 

Harry just hardened his gaze and shifted into an aggressively defensive pose, hands crossed over his chest and hip cocked. Louis didn’t have any right to be jealous of someone else. Harry could clearly see the wheels turning in Louis’ head, undoubtedly worrying if Harry was seeing someone else. If he found some other rich man to pamper him with nice things and apparently a huge fucking koi pond. But whatever semblance of right Louis had to worry about that, he forfeited that the second he decided to send that letter.

 

“Talk,” Harry ordered, a slightly petulant pout to his jaw. “You fired me with a letter. A letter, Louis William Tomlinson. Signed just that, in blue ink so fresh it was hardly dried,” Harry snapped. “Did you write it yesterday morning? Pay extra for same day delivery?” he demanded angrily. “You couldn't just fucking talk to me? Your goddamn boyfriend ?! Or whatever the fuck we were?!”

 

Louis heaved a massive sigh, seeming to deflate like a pin pricked balloon. “Harry. It wasn't my fault. Nick was going to release the pictures in our own magazine. He was going to release the pictures or have me make him fucking Vice President. Blackmail, to the utter extreme. There was no way I could do that, so he was seconds from uploading the pics when I fired him, and then fired you. Unless he backed up the files somewhere besides his work phone, laptop, email, or account, they've been completely destroyed now.”

 

That was good news, at least. Harry had been jumpy for weeks now. But his cheeks still stung with betrayal like Louis had slapped him in the face.

 

“I couldn't chance it, see? It coming out I was dating my assistant. That's not strong company morals. However, if these pictures did appear, and you're not affiliated with LT Limited, we’re in the clear. See?” Louis got out in what seemed rather like one, giant breath.”It wasn't my personal choice, love, just pure necessity. I needed to protect you especially. The paps would've had an utter field day and your life would've been a big top circus for at least a solid month. It was all for you, Hazza baby.”

 

He looked so relieved, walking over to Harry and smiling faintly as he reached out for a hug.

 

Harry stopped him.

 

“I…” he trailed off, taking a deep, unsteady breath. “Louis. You made this massive, life-changing decision. I didn't even get a goddamn courtesy call. No warning. Not even a bloody hint of letting me know, let alone openly discussing how we could handle the situation. There wasn't just one solution. There's never just one solution,” Harry told him. “I was completely and totally ignored in this, like a chess piece while you play the whole game. I'm not a pawn, Louis. I'm not a fool, but a little consultation would've been swell. We could've worked this out. Together.

 

Louis frowned, looking confused. “But don’t you see…? This was the only way I could protect you. I didn’t have time to call you up and talk to you, not when he was literally seconds away from making both our lives pure hell, Harry!”

 

Harry shook his head. “I don’t believe that,” he murmured, his teeth worrying his bottom lip. “I--... There could have been another way. For one, you could have fucking told me in person instead of sending me a goddamn letter like you barely even knew me!” he couldn’t help but raise his voice and stomp his foot, scaring the fish away so they retreated to the other side of the pond.

 

“Baby…” Louis whispered, trying to hug him again. Harry looked wary and held a hand up, telling him to just wait. He wanted to hug him, he wanted it so bad. There was nothing he wanted more than to sink into Louis’ arms and let him hold him, to inhale Louis’ comforting scent and wash his troubles away. But first… he needed answers.

 

“I panicked,” Louis admitted readily. “I’m sorry. I panicked and I didn’t know what to do. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to do it if I actually looked at you in the eyes. I was a coward, and you have every right to despise me for that.”

 

Harry let out a shuddery breath. “I don’t--... I don’t hate you,” he sighed. “Dear god, I know I should. But I don’t. I could never hate you.”

 

“I know it was wrong, love,” Louis whispered. “But I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it if I met you, I couldn’t have found it in me to fire you. And I couldn’t risk my firm, I couldn’t risk Nick being the Vice President of the firm that I worked so hard to build. A brand that I’ve literally given everything in my life for,” his voice shook. “I’m sorry. Please, that’s all I can say. I’m sorry. I apologise,” he murmured.

 

Harry nodded and closed the space between them as he pulled Louis in for a tight hug. “I’m still mad at you,” he murmured. “But I understand why you did it. I wish you hadn’t done it like that. I wish you had just come to me and talked to me so we could have worked it out like equals, but I understand being scared of losing something that is so dear to you,” he smiled softly, cupping Louis’ cheek as he pressed a kiss to his lips.

 

“I would be a pretty shitty secretary if I didn’t know how much this means to you,” Harry continued, chuckling weakly as a tear rolled down his cheek. He made no attempt to wipe it away. “I mean… I’ve seen you lose your mind over ideas that you have in your head that you can’t get on paper perfectly, I’ve seen you cry over your own creations,” he laughed. “Who does that?” he added in a teasing voice.

 

Louis swatted Harry’s side with a roll of his eyes. “Stop that. You’re not supposed to say that out loud. You signed a nondisclosure agreement when you started working for me,” he huffed.

 

“Is that still in effect now that you’ve fired me?” Harry blinked under false innocence.

 

Louis glared at him. “Yes, you little shit. You’re not allowed to tell anyone anything confidential or incriminating about anything that happened while you were working at LT Limited.”

 

Harry smirked. “Does that include how fucking good it felt to have your tongue up in my arse that one time your morning meeting was cancelled?” he purred in Louis’ ear.

 

Blushing, Louis shook his head and kissed him. “Does that mean that we’re--... You know… Back together?” he murmured.

 

“Were we even ever properly together?” Harry muttered. “I wanted to. But we never really talked about it, never labelled it.” He had wanted to address it for so long, but he never thought it would be like this. Not when he had so many things to think about.

 

“If you want to…?” Louis murmured.

 

Harry forced himself to be serious for a moment and thought about it. “I--... I don’t know?” Harry realised as he said it out loud. For the first time since he laid eyes on Louis, he actually wasn’t sure. And that didn’t seem like a great place to start a relationship.

 

“You don’t know?” Louis asked, puzzled.

 

“I don’t know,” Harry murmured, just as confused. “I need to sort myself out first, Lou. Can I have some time to think, please? I think I just need to talk to my mum and like… Get my head on straight first. Process everything that’s happened,” he sighed.

 

“Of course, darling,” Louis nodded. “Anything you want. You can take as much time as you need to think about it.”

 

Harry heaved a quiet sigh, blinking at Louis slowly, consideringly. “Alright. Well. Thank you. Honest, Lou. I feel better now, knowing why you did what you did, y'know?” he asked, almost rhetorically. “I just. That's not really a good thing, I don't think. That that happened, I mean. You hurt me, quite a bit, and even though I understand your reasoning-- at the end of the day, work came before me. Before our relationship.” God, what a bloody mess.

 

Louis worried at his bottom lip with rather sharp teeth, gazing at Harry in actual concern now. “I… I should probably go, then, I suppose? I meant what I said. Take as much time as you need, alright? And just… Keep in touch. No disappearing acts. Talk to me, it doesn't just have to be about your-- decision,” he offered, smiling half-heartedly at Harry, who returned a faint one of his own. “Catch you another time?”

 

“Yeah, babes. I'll be contacting you shortly, wouldn't ever really want to keep you hanging. I don't play games,” Harry answered, restraining the urge to tack on the words: ‘unlike some people’. He wasn't bitter. Really. Much.

 

He watched Louis go, retracing their steps and giving Harry a last glance before slipping through the gate and exiting. Harry gave the calmed-down koi a couple more handfuls of pellets, left Jeff a note they'd already been fed for the evening, and then gave himself just five minutes with his thoughts, ranting mindlessly at fish about stupidly attractive CEOs. Sighing, he finally dispelled his reservations and then walked back home slowly, ignoring several stares at his unusual attire. Fuck them all.

 

“Mummmm,” Harry groaned pitifully as he slouched in the door, immediately heading over to flop dramatically on the couch and burrow his face against her belly. “Why me?” he asked sadly, blinking up at her through his messy curls. “Really? Why? I mean. You're not supposed to date your boss, I get it, karma and such. But still-- I'm not a bad person. Right?”

 

Anne cooed, gently petting his hair and scratching at the base of neck with her nails. “The exact opposite. Obviously, Louis was the bad influence, not you.” Harry's face seemed mulishly seconds from arguing, but Anne hushed him before he could even get a proper start. “Hush. Bad people don't cry over fabric softener commercials, really.”

 

“Mum! That was one time, and I was, like, twelve,” Harry whined. He decided not to mention that the reason he still bought the bottle with the bear was because he wanted to give it a home on top of his washer shelf.

 

“Still stands. You're a marvelous person, little one,” Anne scolded him gently, giving him a slightly cross look. “If Louis has put these thoughts into your head…”

 

“Mum, stop threatening in my, erm. My mate,” Harry finished lamely. What the fuck even was Louis to him, anyways? “I just. I dunno. He made me really upset, obviously.” Harry indicated the fact that Anne was there, a slight grin on his face. Even if he was a bad person, somehow, at least he had an amazing mum to take care of him when he really needed it. It was a highly comforting thought.

 

“That's a wee bit of an understatement, love,” Anne told him gently, and Harry gave her his absolute best pout.

 

“Anyways. I need a new career,” Harry sighed. “At the very least, I need a different job. There's no way I'll be allowed back to work at LT Limited.”

 

“Which is absolute rubbish, in my opinion,” Anne stated loudly with a scowl. “Why are businesses still living in an archaic century? Work romances are not the end of the damn world. Christ.” She shook her head. “But still, you're right. New job.”

 

They both sat in comfortable silence for a moment, before Anne casually broached what she really thought.

 

“You know, Harry,” she trailed off a moment. “You could finally start your modeling career, like you've always wanted.”

 

“Mum,” Harry groaned. He'd given up on that dream awhile back, after failing out of The X-Factor boot camp. Fame clearly wasn't for him, in his opinion.

 

“I'm serious,” Anne said quietly, pulling him upright and gently clasping her son's hands in her own. “Really. I'm dead serious. You could do it. You've got enough money to live comfortably a few months, and that's not including your savings. Take a chance, yeah? Do it. You'll regret it if you never even try . Don't pretend you won't,” Anne murmured gravely. Harry looked down, avoiding her eyes shyly.

 

“But mum…”

 

“No buts, no tuts, no coconuts,” Anne replied firmly, and Harry groaned.

 

“That's not even the correct saying, mum,” Harry chuckled, a faint smile coming to his face. “But-- well. You just might be right. I-- I think I might just give it an attempt. Maybe.”

 

They drank an entire bottle of wine that night, scrolling through model portfolios for ideas and rating the models. It was the most fun Harry had had for days. Family was the absolute best.

 

--

 

Harry texted Louis a few days after, actually, bleary-eyed and greasy-haired as he watched his mum enter the airport’s entrance. He sent her a final wave and turned to his mobile, waiting for Anne’s text to come up that she'd gotten on the plane.

 

H: hey, Louis. Uh. I'm not really sure I want to see you face to face right now, but I think I have your answer. I don't want to date you. I do want to be friends.

 

Louis replied several minutes later, and Harry swiftly hurried to read and reply.

 

L: I… I am actually surprised, Harry. I expected a different answer. I respect your decision, but can I please know why? I thought I explained myself pretty clearly…

 

H: you did, Louis, I get it. I don't blame you, really, for what you did. But it made me realise some things. I wasn't number one in your life, Louis. I never will be, and I never would've been, either. Work will always be your first love, and I can't handle that. I get work is incredibly important, but… Love should be number one. It's number one for me, and I can't be with somebody who it isn't for them. For what it's worth, I'm sorry. And I still want to keep in touch. Be friends. All that.

 

Louis’ reply didn't appear for almost an hour after, when Harry was home and settled on the couch with a good cuppa and a shit movie.

 

L: I understand, Harry. And I want to be friends too. I want you in my life.

 

H: good. Okay. We can chat later to make sure the air is really clear, but it's just friends now. Please respect that. Also…

 

L: Also…? What?

 

H: I'm probably going into modeling. So you won't have to worry about ever running into me in your daily work. I'm probably gonna just go to Zayn for some contacts and tips. Anyways. Thought you should know. Ttyl

 

Harry debated whether to put a couple of xx s. In the end, he just sent it and turned his mobile off, no kisses.