The thing is, Harry always does what Louis tells him to. No exceptions.
Even back when they're just friends, he'll invariably do something if Louis asks him (because it's just asking, at first, not telling), whether it's getting him a cup of tea or making him a meal or even ironing his shirt for him if Louis can't be bothered. Louis doesn't realise until later that it's not entirely innocent, that there's more to it than simple friendliness or generosity, that the truth of the matter is that it gets Harry off.
He gets the first hint of it during their first kiss, Harry surprisingly passive—passionate, but letting Louis take control, letting himself be pushed him up against the wall. When they jerk each other off for the first time, Harry seems to need prompting, and at first Louis figures he's just nervous, making sure Louis really wants this as much as he does.
But then comes the first time Harry goes down on him, and with his lips a breath away from Louis's cock he murmurs "Tell me what to do," so quietly that Louis almost doesn't catch it. For a second Louis thinks he means he's never done it before, but it quickly becomes clear that's not the case. Harry just wants Louis to boss him around, show him how he likes it. And so Louis twines his fingers in Harry's curls and pushes his head down, whispers "Take it deeper, love,"—still tender, not quite comfortable with commands just yet—and Harry yields to him utterly, taking him so far into his throat that it burns.
Then there's that one early morning in NYC when they've got an interview to get to, and Harry's padding around the hotel room retrieving his clothes from where they were flung all over the place last night, and telling Louis they really should go. Louis is sleepy and the bed feels cold without him and so he says, "Come back to bed, babe." He doesn't expect Harry to do anything more than scoff impatiently at him, but to his surprise Harry instantly drops what he's doing and comes back across the room, slipping into the bed with a sigh.
So Louis decides to push it a little bit further, curious, telling him to text Liam and let him know they're going to be late. He trails kisses down Harry's stomach and Harry taps out the text, shuddering and getting hard even though Louis is barely touching him. His phone buzzes a second later and he checks it, says in a slightly strained voice, "He wants to know why."
And Louis smirks and says simply, "Because I'm gonna suck you off."
Harry grins and bites his lip and squirms under him, hesitating. Louis kisses his inner thigh and murmurs, "Go on then, answer him," mostly bluffing really, and then watches with a strange twist of excitement as Harry starts to text again. He shows him the message before he sends it, like he's waiting for Louis's approval of the words. Cause Louis's sucking me off, it says, and Louis can't help but bark with laughter, wondering what Liam's gonna make of that. Harry is flushed and flustered, like he's pleased to have impressed Louis, obeyed him, and Louis waits until he's begging before taking him into his mouth.
Then there's that night after their next show, when they stumble into Louis's hotel room high on adrenaline and Harry falls against him, pupils black and wide in his green eyes, and Louis pushes him back with one hand spread out across his chest and says, "Go shower first, you're sweaty." He expects Harry to laugh, to shoot back you're one to talk, but instead he just sucks his bottom lip into his mouth and fixes Louis with a look that sends a spark of instant heat between Louis's legs and says, "Okay."
Louis waits on the bed, and just listening to the sound of the shower coming from the bathroom makes him hard, knowing Harry's only doing this because he told him to. He doesn't even understand it—this was Harry's thing, something Louis just started to explore out of curiosity, and now it's turning him on just as much. He's put the TV on but he's not paying it any attention, and Harry's taking too long, and after another minute or so he can't stand it any longer, pressing the off button on the remote and calling out his name.
"Come back out here." He swallows, waiting for the response, feeling himself aching in his trousers just from giving the command.
"I'm not done," Harry calls back, and Louis can hear the uncertainty in his voice.
"Come out here," repeats Louis, and immediately the shower shuts off, as though Harry's hand was already hovering over the switch.
"Can I dry myself off?" he asks, and Louis can hear the way his voice wavers.
God, Harry's asking for permission. He swallows, palming himself through his trousers, and says, "Yeah."
A moment later Harry comes back in, flushed right down to his chest and hard as a rock, and Louis pounces, spreading him out across the bed and parting his legs, too impatient to tease, slicking him up as quickly as he can and then sliding in, pulling Harry close, needing every inch of their skin to be touching. Harry is pliant and moaning with his ankles resting on Louis's shoulders, writhing beneath him, his hands clutching at Louis's back. He comes quickly, splashing hot between their stomachs, and Louis sucks marks into the skin of his neck and hears himself bite out "mine," as he follows.
The clothes thing starts innocently enough, when the boys are all getting ready to head out to a club and Harry can't decide what to wear, standing in front of a pile of clothes and dithering for ages even when everyone else is ready. And then Louis says, "Red t-shirt and the tight jeans," and there are no questions asked; Harry's pulling out those clothes from the pile immediately and putting them on, trying to hide the way his face lights up at the decision being made for him.
That happens again, and again, until there's no need for pretence anymore and Harry won't even look at his suitcase or his closet until Louis's picked something out. There's those few days where Louis gets cruel, management more restrictive with them than ever and driving Louis mad, making him take out his frustration on Harry; telling him to wear the same outfit four days running, even though they've got interviews and performances and they're leaving their stylist totally baffled. It's the furthest Louis's pushed it so far, but he can't help himself—he wants to see how far he can go, whether Harry will ever snap and say no, and to his amazement he doesn't.
He doesn't even seem too annoyed about it. The opposite, in fact, and when Louis realises that, it makes him crazy, watching Harry trying to brush off the cheeky questions from reporters and fans and the funny looks from the rest of the lads, noticing the way he gets shy, squirming in his seat and floundering over his words. Louis gets meaner, piping up with "Yeah, Harry, I've noticed you're starting to smell a bit," and elbowing him in the ribs just to watch his face flush that gorgeous pink and feel him tugging desperately at Louis's shirt behind their backs.
When it comes to that fifth morning and Louis says he can change, he can tell Harry's relieved, but he also catches a hint of disappointment, and notices that the clothes stay bundled up in a corner of Harry's suitcase for a long time, going unwashed. He doesn't know if Harry's hanging on to the memory or if he's waiting to be told to get them cleaned, and it makes Louis feel almost giddy with it, the power and the control and the way Harry seems to trust him completely.
There's that time at the restaurant, too, with the others, when Harry takes for-fucking-ever to decide what to order and their waitress is getting impatient, snapping her gum and drumming her fingers against her hip. Niall finds it hilarious, because not even he gets this indecisive about food.
Finally the waitress gets fed up and says she'll come back, and Louis cries, "No, wait!" on the spur of the moment. "He'll have what I'm having."
The waitress looks at Harry like he's a bit wrong in the head and says, "That okay, hon?" and Harry is flustered, mumbling, "Yeah, yeah," and then squeezing Louis's thigh so hard it hurts.
"You all right, Hazza?" Liam asks, concerned, eyeing the two of them suspiciously.
"Yeah, just not that hungry I guess," Harry says quickly, shrugging it off. He keeps darting glances at Louis, eyes dark and heavy-lidded, but he can't quite look anyone else in the eye and keeps zoning out of the conversation. It's a wonder they get through the meal, really, especially after Louis reaches out under the table, skims his hand over Harry's crotch and feels the bulge there.
They shouldn't let it happen again but it does, the very next time they go out to eat, and then the next, and the next, until they've reached the point where Louis's even choosing sandwiches for him while they're on the go and picking things off the room service menu without letting him browse it first. They're being foolish, so obvious, and finally one evening the others actually speak up.
Louis's just told Harry what to get this time instead of speaking for him, murmuring in his ear while the others are ordering, and he thinks he's being subtle but Liam clearly overhears because the second their waiter is out of earshot he elbows Louis and says, "You don't think you're getting a bit controlling, mate?"
Louis doesn't know what to say and he looks at Harry, who's gazing at him with that look in his eyes, that one that says this is ours, and ours only, and it's not until when Zayn speaks a couple of moments later that Louis realises they still haven't answered Liam, have just been smirking at each other, lost in their own world.
"You two're such weirdos, man, I don't even want to know."
The second the hotel door shuts behind them that night, Louis whispers, "Get naked," in Harry's ear, and Harry grins at him and wastes no time, practically tearing off his clothes while Louis just slips out of his jacket and shoes, watching. Harry shivers, standing there totally exposed in front of him, and hesitantly moves in for a kiss, but Louis tuts, holds him back.
"Get on the bed," he says, and it still feels so odd to demand things like this, but good, too, and it's getting easier, and seeing Harry just instantly comply makes him so hard and wanting.
A smile tugs at the corners of Harry's lips and he goes straight to the bed, climbing onto it and sitting there facing Louis, waiting, and Louis doesn't know if he's waiting for him to join him, or waiting for further instruction, and it's so much hotter than it should be.
"On your front," Louis says, and Harry obliges, spreading himself out, head turned to one side and resting against the sheets.
Louis comes over, sits down and strokes a hand from the back of Harry's neck down his spine, and Harry shivers, looking up at him with wide, trusting eyes. Louis leans over him, pressing a kiss to the small of his back, the warm soft skin there. And then, without even thinking about it, he finds himself asking, "Why do you like it so much?" his tone incongruously casual considering how badly he really wants to know the answer—they haven't talked about it yet and the question has been burning a hole in him all this time.
Harry is silent for a moment and then shifts slightly against the sheets. "Why do you?" he retorts, then, grinning cheekily, and Louis finds himself grinning back in spite of himself.
"Don't act like I'm the one who started this," he says, and then trails his fingers down over the curve of Harry's arse, reaching below to feel how hard he's getting. "Lift your legs up," he says, and it comes easy now, "all fours for me, okay?"
Harry obeys, and Louis leans over to the bedside table for the lube, slicking up his fingers and then running them gently between Harry's legs, feeling him quiver just there. "Go on," he says, "tell me why."
Harry goes slightly pink in the cheeks and already his breathing is laboured, but he doesn't say anything, keeping his head forward and his eyes fixed straight ahead at the wall. It's the first time since all of this started that he hasn't immediately responded to a command, so Louis knows he must really be embarrassed—but it only makes him more curious.
He leans in close so his lips brush Harry's ear, and gently pushes the tip of one finger inside of him, watching the way Harry's mouth falls open. "Tell me and I'll fuck you," Louis promises.
It's not until several minutes later, when Louis is still teasing, torturously slow, that Harry finally relents. "Alright, alright," he breathes out, voice rough, "just—I like, it, alright? I can't explain it, it just—I just want—" he cuts himself off sharply, "fuck, Lou—"
"Yeah?" Louis prompts, rewarding Harry with another finger and making him moan brokenly and slip down onto his forearms.
"I want—" Harry chokes out, looking up at him with desperate watery eyes that Louis finds it difficult to resist. "Ugh, Louis, please—"
He withdraws his fingers and unzips his trousers, pushing them and his boxers down, and Harry sighs with relief. But Louis still taunts, "Tell me," even as he's slipping between Harry's open legs. Harry rocks back against him and Louis holds him still.
"Not 'til you tell me what you want."
Louis aligns himself, aching against the slick heat of Harry's skin, torn between wanting to be inside him and wanting to hear Harry admit it. His hand strokes Harry's hip, steadying, encouraging, and—
"To please you," Harry rasps, just as Louis pushes in.
They get reckless, so reckless, and Louis can't decide if it's a total accident or if Harry's to blame—they're mid-interview one afternoon when Harry struggles with a question, not a difficult one but he's tired and he stumbles over his words just enough for it to be awkward, colouring a little. Louis—who has his arm around him—squeezes his shoulder in encouragement, and Harry clears his throat and starts again, answering clearly, suddenly smiling charmingly at the interviewer and making her blush this time.
And that wouldn't be an issue, only the next interview they do, Harry literally doesn't say a word. They're lucky it's short and in print so it's unlikely anyone will notice something's off, but the next one is high-profile, a talk show, and Harry gets completely tongue-tied the first time the host addresses him directly. Louis barely thinks about it, reaches across and touches his shoulder, squeezing gently, and it's like something floods back into Harry immediately. Louis doesn't know what to make of any of it, doesn't know if Harry's sudden struggle is genuine or if he's just urging Louis to take it further, and if that's the case, Louis can't help but wonder which of them is really the more dominant one after all.
There's a thrill in it, though, sitting next to Harry in front of all the bright lights and cameras and knowing that Harry won't speak until Louis touches him. They can't stick with the shoulder thing; they're not that irresponsible, they know that certain beady-eyed fans would catch onto that before long. So then it's just slight contact, Louis's knee bumping Harry's or his knuckles grazing his arm or his palm patting his thigh. Small signals. And Harry waits for it every time, and once or twice Louis drags it out as long as he can stand to, watching the bright-eyed interviewers bemusedly waiting for answers and Harry gazing blankly back at them, wordless until he feels Louis's touch.
And Harry loves it, Louis can tell, even those times when Louis lets it get uncomfortable and one of the other boys is just about to jump in and answer for Harry, puzzled and irritated. Harry is just so obedient about it, even though the gossip blogs are starting to discuss his recent bouts of 'freezing up', some even speculating that he's on something—he never falters, never disobeys, and after the interviews he always seems oddly satisfied, blissed-out and even more tactile than usual, snuggling against Louis in the back seats of cars, resting his head on his shoulder. It just seems to please him, letting Louis control him like that, and Louis begins to realise it's not even purely sexual, it just makes him happy.
Though it's a different matter when Louis gets more vocal with it. He's learned, fast, that that's what really turns Harry on, being told, and it becomes such a fixture of their lives so quickly that he can't quite catch himself in front of the cameras. "Sit by the window," he'll tell him, forgetting to lower his voice, as they walk into a new studio. "You answer that one, Harry," he'll say after a particular question, in a voice less casual than it should be, more insistent. "Fix your hair," he'll mutter in Harry's ear, and Harry will.
The whole thing is addictive somehow, and not just because of the way that it makes Louis feel, like Harry is his and he'll do anything he says—but because of the way Harry reacts to it, even in public, twisting in his seat and tripping over his words and once even briefly hiding his face in Louis's shoulder because he's so flustered, causing the girls in the audience to squeal and shout.
Once, Harry can't control the physical reaction at all, and has to pull a cushion onto his lap to hide it. It wouldn't look so odd except that he does it so quickly, not casual at all, and he's sweating and trying not to look at anybody, and Louis thanks god that the presenters of the show they're on are polite enough not to mention it. But the internet is buzzing almost immediately, and Louis is glad that that one female presenter was hot and flirting with Harry because that's what everybody puts it down to. Still, Harry is mortified, and yet still he doesn't want to stop, and Louis wonders if a part of him likes the shame.
It's hard to tell, because sometimes he'll be beaming, like he's been lit up from the inside, and other days he seems tortured by it, embarrassed and frustrated, so worked up over a simple instruction that he can't concentrate and he gets moody and withdrawn and Louis can't help but feel guilty, letting Harry drag him off afterwards to a bathroom or dressing room or anywhere with a lock on the door so that they can get it out of their systems.
There, Louis will push Harry to his knees, or if they've got more time, bend him over a chair or the arm of a sofa. Harry will be desperate but Louis won't touch him, not until later—instead he'll whisper "Wank yourself off," in Harry's ear and watch as he complies eagerly, always coming hard and fast like he's been waiting for hours—which, Louis supposes, he has been. Sometimes, if Louis's not feeling so sympathetic, he won't let Harry touch himself at all, only letting him make Louis come instead, leaving him frustrated and unsatisfied until they finally get back to their hotel.
Secretly, though, Louis's not sure this is as much of a punishment as they pretend it is—it's pleasing Louis that really gets Harry off, and so he doesn't seem to mind the wait and the ache if that's what Louis wants for him.
And lastly there's the shows, and honestly Louis doesn't know what comes over him to make him think it's okay to play this game in front of hundreds of people. Maybe it's just the atmosphere getting him hyped up and making him feel like anything is possible, or maybe this has become such a part of their lives by now that he doesn't remember how to hold back.
At first it's not really a big deal; he'll just mutter to Harry when to go over to a certain side of the stage or something insignificant like that, just to help Harry get grounded and relax into the performance, calm his nerves. But then it escalates, and he's telling Harry to hold his hand for a few seconds between songs, or to purposefully miss out words in particular verses, or to lift up his shirt and flash the crowd. And Harry does it all, no matter how embarrassed it makes him, and Louis feels this odd swelling of pride inside his chest every time, can't help but pull Harry close for a cuddle, even daring to kiss his cheek once. Harry positively glows with the attention, even when Louis can tell he's uncomfortably aroused in front of the crowds, eyes dark with want and drinking Louis in all night long.
It's during a breakfast show interview on the radio when it all comes to a head. It's way too early in the morning and they've had far too little sleep, neither of them really thinking straight. It doesn't help that the host is pretty mouthy, picking questions that have been tweeted in by fans and not censoring them as much as she ought to at this time of the day.
"Harry, we've got a question here from larrystylinsonlover46, and she—or he!" the host adds with a cheeky grin, "—wants to know, is it just a bromance between you and Louis or is there something more to it?"
Harry just grins uncertainly, glancing at Louis and staying quiet for so long that everyone in the studio starts to laugh awkwardly. The host winks at him and says, "Is that something you're willing to talk about, or is it a little too personal?"
"Umm—" Harry stalls, looking back at Louis again, and Louis senses from the hesitation that he needs him to step in.
He thinks fast, his brain already preparing the answer, we're really just good mates, I'm afraid, sorry to disappoint—but suddenly he's sick of it all, constantly pretending, the lies and cover-ups feeling more ridiculous every time. And maybe a part of him just wants to know what the result would be, because it seems like everybody he knows has an opinion and they might all be all varying shades of 'career suicide' but no one can truly know, not really, not until it's happening.
And so then suddenly, what's coming out of his mouth is, "Tell 'em the truth, Hazza," his voice low and authoritative straight into the microphone, and pushing things right to the absolute limit.
Almost immediately he regrets it, because Liam is shooting him a sharp shocked look, and Niall and Zayn suddenly look panicked, and the radio show host is grinning wickedly at them in anticipation. And Harry is taking a deep breath and opening his mouth, because, the thing is, he always does what Louis tells him to.