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a gentlemen's arrangement

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Charlotte has just begun to play Mozart’s ninth concerto on the pianoforte when Louis slips out the door. He regrets, for a moment, missing his sister’s performance — her talent with music is unmatched, in his opinion, and he always enjoys when other people hear her for the first time — but tonight, unfortunately, he has more important matters to attend to.

Besides, he can still hear the soft sounds of her music. It floats through the chilled breeze, only slightly muted from the ornate balcony door that has only just shut behind him, and it soothes his nerves.

It’s cold out on the balcony. A thin layer of frost has settled on the top of the stone banister, and Louis can see his breath mist in the air in front of him. Looking out across the grounds of Lady Watson’s estate, Louis can see that snow has fallen at some point during the evening. It’s a surprise that he didn’t notice — but his mother has intentionally kept his sisters away from him and without them tugging on his coat tails, he hadn’t any cause to look. Said tails aren’t quite enough to protect him from the weather and he finds himself glad that he had the foresight to bring his overcoat along with him.

He buries himself in the coat and pulls on his travelling gloves. He’ll have to remove them before returning inside — but propriety isn’t worth losing two or three fingers to the weather. It’s better, surely, to behave slightly poorly whilst outside and maintain the continued use of all his extremities. It is a shame he doesn’t have gloves for his ears, or the poor, chilled tip of his nose.

He shuffles his weight slightly from side to side, anxious to stay warm, all the while hoping to avoid any unnecessary attention from inside. If he had been subtle enough in slipping away, then his absence shouldn’t be noted for the next fifteen minutes. Charlotte has always had the uncanny ability to control a room, to command their attention to hold onto it for exactly as long as she pleased — and Louis had long since learned to take advantage of it.

Still, it’s best to remain cautious. He moves over a little, concealing himself in the hidden corner between the side banister and one of the grand stone beams that supports the large wooden door. There is a large window that allows him to see how the party is progressing, but at this time of night, and with only the moonlight left to give him away, Louis is practically invisible from anyone who might look back out.

It was a grand affair, to be sure. The Watson’s were celebrating the engagement of one of their eldest daughters — whose decision to accept the proposal of a visiting French Duke would ensure a very smart match indeed. The invitation had called everyone who was anyone away from the current season in London for just the one night and whisked them off to the countryside. Several of the ladies had grumbled, Louis’ mother had told him, until they’d learnt the specifics of the estate. Then, they’d practically crawled over one another to be the first to catch the eye of one of the Lord’s few sons. Louis wasn’t at all sure what kind of mayhem may be caused tonight but he knew that whatever it was, the drama would surely fuel the gossip mills of London for weeks to come. And, as long as his sisters steered clear of it, he didn’t mind at all.

Louis listens quietly to the muted sound of his sister’s music. She’s moved on to another piece, one that he’s heard her practice a thousand times, but he can’t for the life of him remember what it’s called. His mother, if she knew, would be ashamed. He recognises the ending though, when it comes, and smiles at the applause his sister garners when it finishes.

She begins another in no time at all, this time perhaps Schubert, but Louis doesn’t have time to do much more, though, because that’s when the balcony doors open once more.

The familiar head of curls fills him with warmth, despite the cold. Harry glances around in confusion for the first moment, before he catches sight of Louis’ hiding place. Then a grin breaks out onto his features — one that is beautiful, and happy, and not subtle at all.

“There you are,” he breathes.

His breath comes out in a cloud as well, Louis notices. It gives him a soft touch, Louis thinks, and flatters the pink of his lips that Louis had always found so enchanting.

Louis smiles, at the softness or at the pinkness he doesn’t quite know. “Here I am,” he says.

Harry makes no move to come closer. This is a good thing, Louis reluctantly concedes. If he were to come much closer, Louis’ not sure he’d be able to contain himself.

It’s been three months. Three long, arduous months filled of nothing but talks of dresses and dances. And as much as Louis loves his sisters — and he does, he adores them more than life itself — there’s only so much discussion of the coming London season that Louis can bear. He’d much rather be nearer to home, where he has his own lodgings and stables for whenever he feels too antsy. Their property in London, by comparison, is cramped and crowded.

Although, Louis can’t guarantee that he is unbiased in the matter. Perhaps the stifled feeling that always swallows him in London is less to do with too many people crammed into one small home, and more to do with one specific absence.

Three months, Louis thinks.

He longs to fill the space between them, to take the small half step and —

But no. He shouldn’t be entertaining those kinds of thoughts, and he certainly, certainly shouldn’t be doing them on a small balcony at the social event of the season. In houses as large as these, Harry and Louis both knew better than to assume they were alone or unheard.  

He lingers. If, behind his back, his fingers tighten on the banister almost to hold him in place, then no one needs know it other than Louis himself.

“Have you had a good start to your summer, Mr. Tomlinson?” Harry asks.

Louis smiles fondly, raising his eyes skyward as he sighs. “I think you know the answer to that perfectly well, Mr. Styles.”

Harry hums. He looks a picture, his pale skin and dark hair and pink, pink lips lit up so by the night air. There is mischief in his eye that sparkles like snow in the moonlight.

“It was a pity you couldn’t visit us in April,” Harry says. “There are several developments to the estate that I’d hoped to hear your opinion on.”

Louis raises a brow. He’d so desperately wanted to accept the invitation Harry had sent, but known that his schedule wouldn’t allow it. Not while he had to devote so much attention to his mother and sisters.

“I can’t think why,” he replies to Harry. “You’ve seen the results of my influence over architecture — I would have been no help at all.”

“Oh, no,” Harry says. “Not the architecture.”

“No? What then?”

“I was rather interested to hear what you thought of the interior design,” Harry continues. “We’ve had several of the rooms updated, you see. Even my own.”

“Your rooms?” Louis asks, fighting to keep his features straight.

Harry nods, looking wicked.

“And what sort of opinion were you hoping to garner from me regarding your rooms?” Louis asks then.

Harry, looking as innocent and angelic as a cherub painted by Michelangelo himself, lifts his shoulders. “Something personal, I think,” Harry says, face as casual as ever. Then, his voice lowers to a dangerous and dastardly whisper. “Or perhaps even intimate.

Louis is absolutely certain that he flushes all the way down to his toes. It has been three months, a wild part of his brain reasons — while a part that’s wilder still debates the merits of tugging Harry close and attempting to conceal them both in his haphazard little hiding spot.

Harry speaks again, before Louis has the chance to come to a clear verdict. “After all,” he says. “I can always rely on you for an opinion, can’t I?”

Louis narrows his eyes. This boy, he thinks.

“Of course,” he says graciously.

Harry smiles. “Perhaps you would consider meeting me later in the week to discuss the issue?” he suggests.

“I’m honoured you hold my thoughts in so high esteem, Mr. Styles,” Louis says, nodding his head. “I’m certain we can find a time and place.”

“Do you know the Mayweather?” Harry asks.

Louis nods, glad that he is hidden enough to allow his emotions to appear on his face. The smile he wears, thinking of all his memories from the Mayweather, is impossible to deny.

“Good,” Harry says. “Then I shall meet you there tomorrow afternoon? Will noon do?”

“Certainly,” Louis replies.

Harry, it appears, has come prepared. But then, that’s what this whole meeting has been for — hasn’t it? He reaches into his own pocket, his large black coat looking considerably warmer than Louis’ own feels, and withdraws a white letter that bears his family seal.

“I’ve enclosed some of the details regarding the design changes,” Harry says. “If you’d like to familiarise yourself before we meet?”

He reaches out, extending the letter to Louis with a long fingered, bare hand. Louis’ can’t help but brush his fingertips over Harry’s palm as he takes the letter. His gloves rob him of the chance to feel Harry’s skin directly, but the warmth seeps through the fabric and that is enough, for now.

He doesn’t allow himself to linger.

“Thank you,” Louis says, tucking the envelope into the pocket of his own coat. “I will.”

Harry smiles. “Then I’ll speak with you tomorrow?”

“Certainly,” Louis nods.

They both linger on the balcony for another second. The grin on Harry’s face hasn’t quite faded, but it’s certainly changed. Gone is the excited happiness that had shone through so clearly, and in its place has been left a slow, thrilled expression. It’s almost as though Louis can read his own sense of hot anticipation — a warm, burning sensation that swells in the lowest parts of his gut — in Harry’s wide, earnest eyes. They hold each other’s gaze for far too long, before Harry finally snaps himself out of it.

He disappears back inside the room with a final nod of agreement, amongst the sounds of Charlotte’s final few notes.

Louis lingers on the balcony a little longer. The heavy weight of the key Harry has given him pulls at the left side of his coat and he finds, suddenly, that to keep his head clear he needs a few more minutes in the cold, fresh air.


God,” Harry says breathlessly, when Louis arrives the next day. “Come here.”

They are not at the Mayweather. Or, at least, they are not in the dining halls that they’d discussed the evening previously. Instead, they are two stories up in the room that Harry had purchased for the evening before and coming. And, after three months, there is no time or patience left for dilly dallies.

Louis shuts the door behind him before anything more can be said — and with an errant glance across the room ensuring that all the curtains are closed — lets himself be swept up in Harry’s arms.

Harry presses a hot kiss to his mouth without hesitation and scrapes his large fingers across the back of Louis’ neck. It is almost too rough, but the desperation Harry feeds into Louis is only tantamount to what Louis has felt these past months — so he doesn’t even think to mind. Instead, he brings his hands up to clutch at the wide expanse of Harry’s shoulders.

They kiss for a long, drawn out moment. Louis drinks in the taste of him, the feel and shape of his lips. He’d thought about it enough, in the time intervening, but none of his washed and muted thoughts could do it justice. He tastes heady, and hot, like spices and cinnamon and musk.

Christ above, Louis has missed this.

He sinks his teeth into the supple flesh of Harry’s bottom lip and revels in the soft grunt that earns him. He’d learnt, a long time ago, which buttons to press and pull to garner a reaction from Harry — and it’s been far, far too long since he last practiced.

He slides his fingers from Harry’s shoulders, scraping his palms across the flexing muscles of Harry’s arms and down to his waist. Harry’s skin is burning beneath the loose cotton fabric of the shirt he wears, and Louis longs to get his mouth on it.

He untucks Harry’s shirt, still breathing Harry’s air and begins to pluck at the buttons. Harry pulls away then, to gulp in a big breath of air — or maybe gasp at the feeling of Louis fingers — but Louis brooks no quarry. He leans forward and scrapes his teeth down the long tendons of Harry’s neck.

“Christ,” Harry says. “Oh, Jesus Mary, I’ve missed this.”

He lets out a soft little sound when Louis nips at his collarbone, then pulls back. He brings his large palms up to frame Louis’ face and leans in close — but not close enough.

“Never again, you understand me?” he says, craning down to look Louis in the eye. Ordinarily Louis would protest to this kind of treatment — especially any kind of change in posture that suggested one had to bend down to have a conversation with him — but now, the earnestness in Harry’s eyes and the bitten red of his lips is enough to keep him silent. “I’m not going so long without touching you ever again.

Louis grapples for Harry’s belt and tugs insistently when he finally grasps it, but Harry ignores him. Instead, he moves Louis closer to press a solid and rather chaste kiss to Louis’ lips before Louis can say anything.

“I can’t do it, Lou,” he says when he pulls away. “I’m not equipped to handle your absence.”

Louis sighs — and he certainly doesn’t whine, no matter what the sound might initially sound like.

“Then why—” he asks pointedly, “—are you prolonging the wait now?”

And that certainly brings Harry’s thoughts back to the task at hand. He steps within the bounds of Louis’ reach once more and presses a line of wet kisses down Louis’ neck while Louis pulls insistently on the tie of his trousers.

A combination of determination and urgency ultimately prevails, giving Louis enough room to slide his hand in and take a firm grip of Harry’s hard length. Harry lets out a wonderful sound, pressed right up against the junction of Louis’ neck and shoulder, like a moan and a whimper mixed into one.

Louis turns his head a little, breathes in the lovely scent of Harry’s wild curls, and starts to stroke.

“Missed you,” he mutters into Harry’s hair. “Missed this.”

Not a second too soon, Harry’s hips begin to move as he rises to meet the movement of Louis’ fist. He lifts his head back and presses another kiss to Louis’ lips — this one clumsy and slightly abrupt. Louis doesn’t mind though, not when he’s waited this long to get his hands on Harry’s skin.

“Lou,” Harry moans.

Louis has always loved the way that Harry feels under him — the firm hardness in his chest, his shoulders, his cock. That Harry can feel so silky soft, and yet so firm and steady, will always send all of Louis’ blood rushing to his head.  

Still, in this they are well versed — and Louis knows very well that they can’t proceed until Harry has removed his clothes. A stain or two might go unnoticed after a night out in the more unsavoury parts of town, but neither Louis or Harry can afford to risk it. Reluctantly, Louis pulls his hand away.

Harry lets out a bereft little sound, but comes back into his own head in a matter of seconds. While Louis takes a step back and lets himself fall onto the bed, Harry divests himself of his unbuttoned shirt and open trousers. Louis has the time to undo two of his own buttons before Harry is crawling on top of him and batting his hands away.

“Let me,” he says, before taking control.

Deftly he opens Louis’ shirt, pressing a kiss to Louis’ chest every time more skin in revealed. Louis is hard in his own trousers, his hips lifting desperately in the air searching for friction. It feels shameless and wanton, but then, Louis always feels that way when Harry is near. It’s a side effect of his presence now, as ingrained as the sense of breathlessness Louis feels when he sees Harry smile. Harry makes him feel wild, wild in a way he hasn’t been allowed to feel since his father died, and uncontrollable.

Harry senses Louis’ struggle in no time and lowers his body into the open curve of Louis’ legs. The searing heat of his abdominal muscles presses down against Louis through his trousers and he lets out a soft, relieved sound.

(For the most part, they don’t have to worry too much about sound. The inn itself has seen far worse in its time than a few vocal patrons, but there is always the worry that someone might discover that there is no woman there to make their actions legal. Still, it isn’t too large of a concern — Harry had once pointed out that Louis’ high voice should do more than enough to dissuade those who might overhear them of their concerns. ‘The sounds you make are so exquisite, darling,” he’d told Louis, biting at the lobe of Louis’ear. ‘Soft and high and blissful.’)

Now, with the heavy weight of Harry’s body pressing down on him, Louis can’t help but clutch weakly at Harry’s shoulders. By setting his feet down flat on the cheap mattress, he gains enough leverage to lift his hips properly — and begins to take advantage of the hard heat that Harry is offering. Even through the thick fabric of his trousers, Louis feels taken away.

Harry continues his descent, murmuring sweet nothings that Louis has heard a thousand times into the skin over Louis’ ribs, to Louis’ belly, to the V that leads a sharp line across Louis’ pelvis. When he reaches the waistband of Louis’ trousers, he barely hesitates.

Louis is given time enough to marvel at how agilely Harry moves his clumsy fingers to unlace Louis’ trousers, before Harry has removed them all together and returned his attention to Louis’ cock.

His gaze darts up to meet Louis’ eye. Then, without pause, he licks a wet stripe up the underside of Louis’ length.

Louis’ fists clench in the stiff bed sheets and he muffles a curse. “Harry,” he gasps out, quite unable to help himself and thrusting forward.

Harry doesn’t leave him wanting for long, leaning up and this time taking the head of Louis’ length into his throat. He laves his tongue over the head, the sensations spiking pleasure up Louis’ spine, while he grips the rest with his fist. Then he begins to suck in earnest.

“Holy God, Harry,” Louis moans, lifting his hand and biting down on the fleshy part of his own wrist to muffle the noise.

Harry doesn’t say anything, too preoccupied with the task at hand. Louis feels it as he relaxes his jaw, and feels it a thousand times more when Harry begins to sink ever lower. It’s almost too much all at once, after so long without, and Louis feels compelled to shut his eyes and focus on not spoiling the moment early — but there is absolutely no chance of him taking his eyes off Harry. Harry who already looks so gloriously debauched, his mouth wrapped around Louis and his eyes half closed with his own pleasure. He’s got his own cock in hand, fisting himself leisurely while he focuses on bringing Louis closer to the edge.

And, even without the years Harry has spent learning every facet of Louis’ body, that is something Harry will always excel at.

In no time at all, Louis is cresting. With one hand clenched in the sheets beside him and the other stuffed into his mouth to prevent him from shouting, Louis lifts his hips clean off the mattress and thrusts forward into the hot, tight, wet heat that Harry’s mouth has to offer. Harry moves with it, takes everything Louis has to give and seems to almost revel in it — and it is that image that sends Louis toppling over.

When he has recovered — that is to say, when his body has stopped quaking with pleasure — Harry crawls back over him and presses another sweet kiss to his lips. He taste a little sour but Louis certainly won’t complain — not when it’s himself that he’s tasting on Harry’s tongue. Things are quiet, for a moment then, and Louis knows that Harry is giving Louis the chance to get his breath back.

“How have you been, my darling?” Louis asks. The words come out more like a besotted sigh than Louis had intended — but then, Louis is a bit besotted, so it can’t really be helped.

Harry hums happily, “I’ve been well,” he says. He lifts one hand to stroke his fingertips across Louis’ collarbones, his fingers just barely skimming over Louis’ skin. “Missing you.”

Louis smiles. “So you’ve said.”

“Well, I meant it!” Harry protests to the sly tone in Louis’ voice.

Louis nuzzles closer to him. “Mhmm,” he says. “I know you did. I missed you too.”

They lull into a comfortable silence for a moment. The windows and curtains are shut, but Louis can still hear the vague sounds of life from outside. Even after all the years he’s had to get used to their situation, it never fails to take him off guard how removed his world with Harry is from the real one. Take any of the people out on the street — barely metres away — and they’d be thrown into prison without a second thought.

Louis doesn’t think about it for long. Like he’d said, he’s already had years to get used to it. There’s no use bemoaning the way things are when he could instead be using the time to relearn everything he hasn’t had over the past three months.

And well, Harry has always had the uncanny ability to know the inner workings of Louis’ mind.

“Shall I fuck you, then?” he asks abruptly, eyes sparkling.

Louis runs his hand through Harry’s curls. Once his fingers are well and truly tangled, he swipes his thumb across Harry’s slightly sweaty brow.

“You know,” he says, still trying to sound as casual and nonchalant as possible and failing on both fronts. “I might throttle you if you don’t.”

Harry lets out an absolutely exquisite little giggle and reaches down to remove the rest of Louis’ trousers and underwear. He throws them off the end of the bed, stretches himself out on top of Louis once more and then promptly rolls them both over until Louis is neatly straddling his nap. His cock slips snugly between Louis’ cheeks like it belongs there — which, honestly, it almost does.

Louis has to take a second to stabilise himself — having been entirely unprepared for the abrupt move — before he gathers himself. “Did you bring the oil?” he asks.

Harry nods, motions to the small silver pot that is sitting on the top corner of the bed. Louis stretches himself out and reaches for it, perhaps lingering a little longer than necessary over Harry so that Harry can enjoy it. And Harry does, lifting his head for just a moment to tongue at Louis’ nipple before letting his head fall back down onto the pillow.

“Shall I do it?” Louis asks, waving the pot in Harry’s face. “Or would you like to do the honours?”

Harry snatches the pot from Louis’ hands.

Louis sits back and watches, Harry’s hard dick pressing exactly where he wants it and anticipation coiling in his belly, as Harry coats his fingers in the slippery liquid. Once he’s satisfies, Harry drops the tin to the side and reaches down with his clean hand to take a firm hold of Louis’ bottom. Digging his fingers into the meaty flesh of one cheek, he spreads Louis just enough that the fingers of his other hand can easily find their mark.

When they do, Louis lets out a soft, breathy little sigh.

“It must have been difficult for you,” Harry says as he gently prods Louis’ opening before pushing the tip of one finger inside. “Without anyone around to touch you like this.”

Under any other circumstances, Louis would probably spit back a scathing retort to that remark. Now? Now he just smirks.

“I’ve fingers, haven’t I?” he says.

This time it’s Harry’s turn to moan and he sinks his finger in up to the knuckle.

It’s a stretch, and there’s an exquisite burn that accompanies every new press of Harry’s fingers, but Louis revels in it. He has missed this — no matter how many nights he’d spent trying desperately to reach the heights of pleasure Harry had taken him to, there is no comparing the feel of Harry’s fingers to his own.

As if to prove the thought as Louis thinks it, Harry chooses that moment to curl his finger and press down. Louis lets out a helpless whine.

“How many nights did you spend doing this to yourself?” Harry asks huskily. “How many nights did you twist trying to touch the places that only I’ve touched?”

He slips in a second finger. This time Louis lets out a cry that is a little too loud, but he can’t bring himself to care. He just rocks back on the firm pressure of Harry’s fingers and thinks about what’s coming next.

Still, he can’t let Harry’s comment go unpunished. “Wouldn’t—” he pants, before cutting off awkwardly. “Wouldn’t you like to know.”

Harry nods his assent. “Mhmmmm,” he says lowly. “I very much would.”

Louis doesn’t have the patience for this game to last much longer. “Come on,” he proceeds to beg. “Come on, Harry, I’m ready.”

He’s not and Harry knows it, so instead of pulling out his fingers, he adds a third. Louis bites down on his lip this time to stop himself from making too much noise. The exquisite feeling of fullness that is beginning to get to him really only makes him yearn for more — yearn for the dance that they learned years ago, that will bring complete and utter satisfaction. He grinds back again, dropping forward a little and bracing his hands on either side of Harry’s head. They stare at each other for a long while, Louis panting, Harry practically breathless with anticipation, all the while Harry continues moving his fingers deeper and deeper into Louis.

“Harry,” Louis pleads. “Harry, please.”

This time, Harry is convinced.

He withdraws his fingers and moves them straight to his cock, wiping off the excess oil onto his length before reaching once more for the tin. Once he’s prepared himself, his clean hand moves back to rest on the curve of Louis’ waist. His hand feels impossibly big, spanning a fair way across Louis’ back — and Louis is ready, so ready, to lose himself to the sensations he knows are coming.

Harry lines himself up, presses in, and it’s perfect. It’s exactly what Louis has been missing over the past few months, exactly what has been keeping him so on edge. How can he have functioned without Harry nearby? It doesn’t make any sense — not after they’ve shared each other like this. Not when Harry knows him from the inside out.

“Jesus Mary,” Harry groans. “You feel incredible.”

He brings his other hand to Louis’ waist as well and begins to thrust in earnest. Louis gives as best as he can, all the while feeling completely consumed by the perfect feeling of fullness that is overtaking him. As they both begin to get their bearings, the pace begins to climb. Louis grinds back on Harry’s length, desperate to feel it as deep within himself as he possibly can.

Harry controls the pace as his hands slide down to Louis’ hips. Abruptly, and just as Louis is getting used to being on top, Harry flips them again and spreads Louis out on his back.

“We are going to do this every day,” Harry promises him as he buries his face in Louis’ neck. He peppers the skin there with kisses, his thrusts growing more and more fervent with every passing second.

“Every hour,” Louis challenges him.

How can he have possibly survived so long without this?

“Every hour,” Harry agrees. “God, Christ, Louis the way you feel.”

Louis grasps at his shoulders and does his best to lift his hips to meet Harry’s powerful thrusts. “Tell me,” he pants.

“You’re perfect,” Harry says immediately. “It’s like you’re made for me.”

Louis lets out a breathless little laugh, scrapes his nails over Harry’s shoulders and begins to nip and bite at all the exposed skin hovering inches above him. “Perhaps I am,” he jokes.

“You are,” Harry replies without pause. “You are, you are, you are.”

His thrusts speed up now, growing desperate in a way that feels achingly familiar to Louis. With every punishing thrust, Harry hits the sweet spot inside Louis that makes him see stars. It’s almost too much, the fullness and the feeling, and that is what pushes Louis to his second orgasm of the night.

“I love you,” he breathes as he comes, digging his fingers into Harry’s hips and urging him to keep moving — as though Harry needs any encouragement. “Harry, I love you.”

He is not so much a romantic that he believes the words are what push Harry to his peak, but if they aren’t — then it is a perfectly timed coincidence. They’ve said it to each other before. Several hundred times now, to be certain. But every time feels like the first time, and perhaps that is why the words always ring so true.

“I love you too,” Harry pants, right before he drops his weight onto Louis.

They lie there together for an indeterminate amount of time, slowing their breathing and revelling in the other’s touch. By the time Harry pulls out, Louis’ limbs are sated and sore in the best possible way.

“Never again,” Harry mumbles nonsensically as he falls asleep. “Never doing that again.”

Louis knows him well enough to be sure he’s talking about their three month absence, not the fucking. Still, it’s confusing enough that he can’t help but shoot his boy a fond smile. At least for now, they don’t have to worry about that. They’ve got the coming season in London, after all, and then the rest of their lives to think up more impressive, believable lies. They’ll manage it. There isn’t a doubt in his mind.

They are made for each other, after all.