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The Harry Project

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Harry Styles was a songwriter turned singer turned international heartthrob turned recluse, and now, he was Louis’ new project.

Louis didn’t know how he’d gotten the job, really, he’d just gotten out of grad school the previous year, and though he’d already published two books, The Harry Project, as he’d so labelled this new endeavor inside his mind, was quite different from anything he’d done before.

It wasn’t that Louis didn’t have confidence in his own writing, really, if he had confidence in anything, it was certainly that, but his first biography was over Justin Fashanu, and his second had been a commissioned work about Empress Theodora. Case in point, Louis had never written about a living subject before, nor had he ever left the UK, but as these thoughts occurred to him, he was sat on a plane, headed to Harry’s estate in San Francisco, and he had absolutely no idea what to expect.

Of course, Louis had done his research. As big as Harry’s name was, or rather, had once been, he was surprised to find that searching his name yielded a wikipedia page, links to his music, and not much else. Naturally, Louis had clicked the wikipedia. For someone who didn’t know a lot about Harry Styles, Louis felt like he knew just as much as the page, sure, there was some factual information that he’d not heard, Harry’s middle name was Edward and his birthday was February 1st, 1983 (that one surprised Louis, if he was honest, Harry didn’t look old by any means, but Louis had grown up with his music, and to find that he was only a few years older than him wasn’t something he’d expected), but the rest of the story was already how Louis knew it. Harry started writing songs when he was quite young, his first chart topping single as well as his first grammy nomination came when he was only sixteen. It wasn’t until he’d written on uncountable best selling albums that he’d made one of his own at twenty one, his name was within the industry until then, but his craft was apparent, and he blew up. The quality of his music was undeniable, and he looked like he walked straight out of an Armani campaign, his vocals never failed him, to put it simply, he was loved.

It was 2004 when Harry Styles achieved international superstardom, and it was 2009 when he disappeared off the face of the Earth. There hadn’t been an announcement of any sort that Louis could find, though he had no idea where he’d look for one, considering Harry never utilized any social media whatsoever. Instead, Harry finished a short tour in May and just didn’t come back. Nothing was ever reported on the matter, there was really nothing to report on, Harry took breaks between his albums, it usually wasn’t more than a year, but as Louis heard over the intercom that they’d be landing soon, it had been a total of six years since anyone had heard from Harry Styles.

Why would Harry want a book written about him? All his interviews in the past had been far and few, and very, very strictly about only the music. Harry did shows and connected with his fans, but was notorious for never attending awards shows (despite his now uncountable Grammys) or doing photo shoots of any sort, and to top it off, he’d pretty much faded from relevance. Was Louis supposed to revive Harry’s career? As much as Louis tried to believe in himself, it seemed like a heavy task.

Louis thought this as he walked to pick up his baggage, his hands in the pockets of his joggers, he’d dressed comfortably for the plane, after all, it had been a ten hour flight. Louis had thought about changing to look more professional, but it occurred to him that he had no idea what Harry would look like either, so Louis figured he might as well just enjoy not having his blood flow restricted by the jeans he usually wore.

Louis had never met a celebrity before, unless he was counting a very strange encounter with Matty Healy at a pub, but he expected it to be a lot more intense than this had been thus far, as he signed off on his rental car and loaded his bags into the back, then considered the absurdity of it all.

About two months ago, Louis had received an email from someone claiming to be the personal assistant of Harry Styles, inquiring about his interest in writing a biography on him, making it very clear that he wasn’t the only one they were considering. After a couple back and fourths about Louis’ schedule, which at the time was absolutely blank aside from his job at Diptyque, he was sent dates and times and told he’d be staying in Harry’s home starting in early September and staying as long as he needed to complete the book. There was absolutely no information about how he should be portraying Harry or what exactly he was writing about, Louis was part way convinced he was getting scammed until he got the plane ticket in the mail, but here he was, typing the address he’d been given into the navigation system.

It was about an hour drive from the airport to Harry’s home, a good amount of time that Louis took to himself to freak out, what in the world would Harry be like? All he had to go by was the videos he’d watched of the man on stage, and he was pretty sure he wasn’t about to get that level of rockstar out of Harry in his own home, so he let his mind fill in the gaps, would he be distant? Too close? Would he sleep in a cryogenic chamber? Was he a scientologist? Louis really, really had no idea, and that made him both excited and terrified.

Harry’s estate was located quite a stretch away from the city, but certainly not in the middle of the forest. A paved path with no gate led Louis through what seemed like a tunnel, towering trees contrasted with clusters of wildflowers, Louis even spotted a raccoon, making his mouth drop into a little surprised ‘oh’, it was Harry’s house, though, that was the centerpiece. It wasn’t eccentric, instead it was a deep green with white accents, more flowers surrounded the immediate property. The house itself was normal, it could have easily been in Louis’ own neighborhood growing up, but there was something about it’s draw that made Louis unable to take his eyes off it, that was, until his eyes dropped down a little further to find Harry Styles sitting on the deck, mug in one hand, the other already up in a friendly wave.

Louis couldn’t believe it, he would have stared longer, but a few more seconds and he would have been driving straight through Harry’s garage door, so he managed to pull his eyes away to put his car in park, taking the keys out and all but forgetting about his bags, instead walking up the deck, hand already extended to shake.

If Louis had to describe Harry’s appearance in a word, he’d say relaxed. Harry wore a loose, half buttoned, short sleeved shirt over a pair of tight jeans and some boots, his hair was let loose and sat on his shoulders, framing what was maybe the brightest smile Louis had ever seen. This was in sharp contrast to Louis’ aura, even though he’d graduated last year, he still carried all the stress of a student. Despite his comfy clothing, a tanktop with a jacket over it paired with the joggers, he still had the tell tale under eye circles, and a generally worried demeanor, it wasn’t that he wasn’t happy, he just needed to be told to smile sometimes.

Harry didn’t let down the mug, which upon further examination sported a rainbow print, as he got up as well meeting Louis in the middle and shaking his hand.

“It’s so, incredibly, nice to finally meet you.” Professionalism was one word that could be used to describe how Louis was talking, but if he was honest, he wanted Harry to know that he was being genuine, except Louis didn’t know exactly why. Louis had never been a huge fan, not for any particular reason other than that Louis was a bit more moody than Harry’s music at the time that it was being produced, and it was sort of off his radar, and sure, the research had gotten him sort of excited, but having Harry right there was something else.

Harry opened his mouth to say something, but then seemed to change his mind at the last minute, “They didn’t tell me you’d be English.” He smiled, something of a laugh spilling from his lips as he shook Louis’ hand once more before letting go, giving him a little wave to follow.

The two of them sat down at a white picnic table, Harry in the spot where he’d been previously and Louis directly across from him, his hands folded, looking at Harry curiously.

“I read your books.” Harry went on taking a sip of his drink, coffee, if Louis was judging by the smell of it, “But I want you to tell me about them before I say anything, if that’s okay.”

Harry spoke slowly, making it evident that he took time to chose his words, whereas Louis rambled on while he looked at Harry, studying his fingers, his hair, his face, he’d matured, definitely, but his look wasn’t too terribly different from the last time he was on stage.

“You did? Wow.” Louis paused, trying to gather his thoughts. Louis had a whole book writing process to stare at Harry, he shouldn’t be wasting his first impression, but it was sort of hard not to, Louis had never found someone drinking coffee so interesting. “Fashanu was a labor of love, I put everything I had into that book. I wrote it over my senior year of uni and the two summers that contained it, it’s probably still the thing I’m most proud of.” Louis didn’t know what sort of answer Harry was looking for, but he hoped he was doing alright. “Theodora was a labor of wealth, but don’t get me wrong, I had tons of fun doing it, my heart isn’t in that book, but I still love it, she was an amazing woman, my writing is better in that one, too, I did that junior year of grad school.”

“I could tell.” Harry replied simply, sitting back in his chair now, legs crossed and hands folded over his knee. “Fashanu is a better read, it’s clear you were invested, I want you to do what you did with his story to mine.”

Louis gave Harry something of a look, leaning in a bit, his chin propped up with his hand now, “And what did I do, exactly?”

“You told it with such honesty.” Harry answered, “You didn’t leave out a single detail for the interest of his reputation, you embraced everything, you told the story exactly as it was, and while your word choice was beautiful, it wasn’t frilly, it didn’t soften the blow, I want that.”

“You want me to be that honest?” Louis asked, obviously surprised. Harry hadn’t been lying, Louis didn’t leave out any details, it was the good, the bad, and the ugly, and he wouldn’t have had it any other way. But with Harry? Louis definitely would have felt bad about the book if it had been on a living subject, and Harry was asking for this, there had to be a catch, didn’t there?

“Yes.” Harry replied assuredly, not an ounce of doubt in his tone, “See, the book was my idea, I was never out to do a tell all or anything like that, I’m a private person, but what I like even less than my privacy is people projecting things on me, getting ideas they shouldn’t have, I would have written the book myself, but I know it wouldn’t be honest, as humble as I like to think I am, I’m still me, and I can’t write about myself.”

“All the ugly, though?” Louis could hardly believe it, he didn’t know what Harry was hiding, but even Louis wouldn’t want his whole past and present published for anyone to read.

Harry couldn’t help but smile at Louis’ disbelief, leaning across the table and looking straight into his eyes. “Louis, I’m giving you one, single rule for this book.”

Only one rule? Harry had seemed chilled out and fairly normal at first, but Louis was sure he’d gone mad. Harry was a celebrity, whether he liked it or not, and the mysterious aura that he’d put up in the past would just make people want to buy the book more. “And what’s that?” Louis asked after noticing that he’d been thinking too long again.

“If I tell you something, and I follow it with ‘don’t put that in the book’ then you have to put it in the book.” Right, Harry was definitely mad.

“Whatever you say, mate.” Louis agreed, laughing at the strangeness of it all, leaning across the table to shake Harry’s hand again.

Harry returned the handshake, getting up from his chair, “Great, now, let me show you around.”

And so Louis let Harry guide him around the property, they did a lap around the outside first. Harry’s property went on for ages, ‘so I can go on walks’, he’d explained as they crossed a bridge that went over a small stream, arms bumping into each other occasionally. Questions floated around Louis’ mind, but he didn’t speak, he had all the time in the word to write this book, there was no reason to go straight for the deep stuff, he just wanted to get to know Harry first.

At the end of his first day, Louis sat up in his bedroom, which carried a nautical theme, like the rest of the inside of Harry’s house, trying to get a first page in. Sure, he hadn’t learned much, but the bulk of the information wasn’t on the first page either, he let out a frustrated groan as he stared at the blank screen.

Maybe if he couldn’t get a first page, Louis thought, he could get a last one. This part was new for him, considering the later quarter of his earlier projects had been about his subjects’ legacy after death, but Harry was right across the hall from him, sleeping soundly, from what he could tell.

Harry Styles lives in San Francisco -” Louis clicked backspace, too specific,  not good enough language, fuck, this was going to be harder than he thought.

Harry Styles currently resides in Northern California.’ There, that was a sentence. Rome wasn’t built in a day, Louis reasoned with himself, saving the single sentence before shutting his laptop and lying down to sleep.  

They fell into a routine within a week. Louis wasn’t sure exactly what time Harry woke up, but he knew it was a hell of a lot earlier than he did. Louis made a mental note to get up early one of these mornings to find out exactly how Harry was spending his time before sunrise, but he figured that could wait until he was less jet lagged. Today, he was going to find out what Harry did after dark.

On the first day, much to Harry’s amusement, Louis had asked him if he’d ever left the property in the past six years. Harry said yes, that he kept careful but he had his own little places, and that he’d take Louis to them sometime. Louis was sitting in the passenger’s seat of Harry’s car, looking at his dark profile that contrasted with the streetlights outside as they drove slowly through the streets of San Francisco.

When they got to the heart of downtown, Harry pulled off probably the best parallel park Louis had ever seen, for someone who wanted his faults to be published, Harry really didn’t have a lot for Louis to write about. They got out of the car in front of a pub that bright red neon labelled ‘THE A.M’.

“This is my favorite place.” Harry told Louis with absolute confidence, taking his hands out of his pockets as they walked up to the entrance to open the door for Louis. “I want you to see what I saw the first time.”

The first thing Louis noticed was the flags, this wasn’t anything like he’d expected an American pub to be like, and that was probably because it wasn’t. There was an entire wall of orange, green, and white on the opposite end from them, and other flags led up to where they stood. Louis recognized some union jacks, some rainbows, an assortment of other countries and identities. There was one in particular that had ‘OI!’ written in white letters across a black flag that really spoke to Louis. He knew if he let himself he could probably look at all of them individually for hours on hours.

It didn’t seem like a gay bar, at least not the ones Louis had been to. There were no sexual undertones, it was communal, happy, the music in the background was upbeat and singable, and Louis didn’t have any trouble seeing why this was Harry’s favorite place.

The atmosphere was comfortable, different groups of people buzzed around their own tables with pints. Before Louis could get a proper look around, however, Harry had taken it upon himself to grab Louis’ hand and walk him up to the bar.

“It’s not your usual night.” The man behind the bar commented as he put the glass he’d been cleaning away in favor of addressing Harry, “But it’s great to see you as always, who’s your friend?” He asked, pushing his glasses up and directing his attention towards Louis.

“This is Louis, he’s writing a book about me.” Harry answered, a smile on his face as he looked at Louis, “Louis, this is Niall, he’s great.”

“A book? Really?” Niall asked, looking between them. “Good to meet you, Louis, can I get you anything?”

“A jack and coke would be great.” Louis answered as he got himself comfortable on the stool next to Harry, pretending not to notice how much it accentuated their height difference. “And yeah, a whole anthology, 1983 to present day.”

“No problem!” Niall got to work on making Louis’ drink, “You’ve really got your work cut out for you then, huh?”

“You could say that.” Louis agreed, taking his drink gratefully and handing Niall his cash before continuing.“You don’t mind if I record you, do I? It’s just so I don’t misquote and that, I’d like to ask some questions if that’s alright.” Louis didn’t like that he had to jump in with the business side of things, but he didn’t know when he was going to see Niall again, and it was clear that he and Harry had a significant relationship.

“Not at all, lad, so long as you don’t mind me jumping out every once in awhile to help other customers.” Niall answered easily, leaning back and watching Harry as Louis got out his phone and set it on the bar, having a sip of his drink.

“Of course not. Right, so, let’s start at the beginning, how did you two meet?” Louis asked, crossing his legs and looking between the two of them.

“I know the story, but only because he’s told me so many times, so I’m going to let him tell it.” Harry replied, taking the drink that Niall had made him unprompted.

“Great, I love telling this story.” Niall laughed, “So, this was when he was still touring, February of 2005, to be exact.” He took off to help another group, but kept telling the story as he worked on a cocktail.

“Show was a couple blocks away, I was going to go, actually, but I had to work, I wasn’t the owner then, anyway, it’s just past midnight when this one finds his way in, place is totally empty, it’s a Monday night, you know? And we’re not exactly a hot spot to begin with, first thing he says to me ‘Oh my god, I’m not in your house, am I?’” Niall had to stop for a moment to laugh while Harry floundered to defend himself.

“It was the old set up! You had couches and it feels like a home and plenty of people own bars!” Harry tried, making Niall laugh even harder.

“Whatever, mate, anyway, I tell him that this is just an unpopular bar and he’s alright, and he tells me that he’s been getting into it with his man and proceeds to tell me that he’s not going to tell me the details, and he wants me to tell him what’s wrong with my life instead so he can listen, and I say no, because there’s nothing wrong with my life and he’s absolutely wasted. I get him on the couch and start playing therapist. If you’ve been studying him I’m sure you can fill in the blanks with what all he tells me.” Niall looked pointedly at Harry until his face returned to its natural smile, shaking his head.

“So we talk and we talk until about four in the morning when his tour manager comes in and drags him out. He comes back about three years later, tells me he quit and he needs a drink, we pick up right where we left off and now here we are.” Niall finished, looking triumphant as he quickly darted away to help another group.

Louis’ knee knocked into Harry’s as he spun around on the stool, nursing his drink, “That’s touching.”

Harry laughed, knocking Louis’ knee back and giving him a good-natured “Shut up.” before Niall got back.

“Right, next question, Lou?” Niall inquired, looking at him kindly.

“Right, well, ten years of friendship is a long-”

Niall’s watch cut him off mid sentence. “Shit, I’m sorry.” He clicked the device off and started hanging up his apron as he spoke, “You never come in on Thursdays and time was passing me by, but the husband likes to have me home by eight, you two have a good night though, yeah?” He offered, walking out and to their side of the bar, resting an arm on Harry’s shoulder, “Louis, it was lovely to meet you, you’re a proper lad, if you want to finish that question or need anything else, I’m sure Harry can give you my number, right Haz?”

“Of course.” Harry nodded, turning and pressing a quick kiss to Niall’s cheek before patting his back, sending him off, “Have a nice night.” He called.

“You too, buddy.” Niall returned before walking right out the front door, leaving the two boys alone.

“I can see why you said he’s great, I miss the UK.” Louis commented, finishing off his drink and ordering another from the guy who’d taken over.

“Yeah, he’s my best friend.” Harry smiled, turning on his bar stool so he was facing Louis, “He just, he doesn’t have any ulterior motives, you know? He’s a good friend because he just is.”

Louis nodded understandingly, “Yeah, my mates back home are like that, it takes a long time to find out who your true friends are.” He agreed, pausing before starting in again, only after he’d had another large drink, “So, care to fill in the blanks?” He asked.

Louis wasn’t sure how long he’d planned to hold off with the really deep stuff. It had been a week now, and he hadn’t started any real questioning at all. Sure, he could say his observation work was important, and it was, to a degree, but he knew he couldn’t sit on the couch and watch cooking shows with Harry all day everyday like he had been thus far. He was getting paid, after all.

Harry didn’t look scared, but he didn’t exactly jump to answer the question either, instead he visibly mulled it over inside his head before settling on an answer. “Why don’t we pick up an eighth first?”

“Oh my god, please.” Louis could have cried out of happiness, he didn’t anticipate that reaction out of himself, but the week was the furthest amount of time he’d gone in recent memory and while he was doing just fine, it was still an improvement.

“I’ve got a med card, come on.” Harry was already getting up from his seat, stretching himself out and waiting for Louis, who hurriedly chugged the rest of his drink before sliding off the stool, following Harry out.

A dispensary trip and drive out of the city later, Louis and Harry were situated on a blanket atop the bridge near the back of Harry’s property. Louis packed a bowl in the piece that Harry had allowed him to pick out, a dark blue and glittery steamroller pipe. “You can have greens, you’re airing your grievances.” Louis reasoned, handing over the pipe and a lighter.

“Usually I’d refuse, but you’re right.” Harry laughed, taking the first hit and holding it in as long as he could, exhaling calmly, “Alright, let’s do this.” He nodded as he handed it over to Louis, starting their rotation.

Louis set up his phone to record again before he began, “I want you to tell me what you told him.” He replied simply before taking the lighter to the bowl, not bothering to corner it at all, instead setting the whole thing ablaze and pulling hard, it had been too long.

“Well, he was right when he said I was ‘getting into it with my man’” Harry crossed his long legs, leaning forward on them and holding his chin in his hands. “My boyfriend at the time, for some fucking reason he was starting to believe my alleged relationship rumors even though I wasn’t spotted with a woman for the entirety of my career.”

“Do you want to talk about that and then come back ‘round?” Louis offered, eating a piece of the pineapple that Harry had brought out, if Louis had learned anything about him, it was that he came prepared.

“God, can we, please?” Harry let out an exasperated sigh, grateful to repack the bowl and hit it again. “The idea of people thinking I’m straight makes me so uncomfortable, I’ve never even been seen holding hands with a woman and apparently I lived with about seventeen of them, it’s insane, people genuinely think that, just based off what they read.” He rambled on, “I was in a very, very committed relationship for the first half of my public career, it’s bullshit, I’ve never dated anyone famous or anyone female.”

“Why didn’t you just come out then?” Louis asked, he wasn’t surprised, really. Harry didn’t have any gay rumors that Louis could find, but he’d held his personal suspicions after watching hours of footage of him on stage, and that only grew after living with him for a week.

“I didn’t want my music to be put into a niche audience, my music was for everyone, it was always meant for everyone, the only reason I released my own album in the first place was because I really liked the songs but no big acts were picking them up.” Harry paused, “It was 2004, you know? You couldn’t be gay and international at the same time, and I wanted my music to reach everyone.”

“Yeah, I get that, on a small scale, I was quite popular before I came out in high school.” Louis tried his best to relate, but it was sort of hard when he was talking to a superstar. “And it wasn’t like anything horrible happened afterward, didn’t get beaten up or anything, but I was less liked, though that was mostly because I did genuinely pretend to date girls so then all their friends were mad at me, and it’s like, what do you want me to do, Eleanor? I fucked your brother, piss off.” He rambled, leaning against the railing of the bridge.  

“I can’t believe how little that has to do with what I said.” Harry teased in good nature, “But yeah, same thing sort of.”

“Sort of.” Louis agreed, “Right, so in summary, none of your alleged relationships were real, tell me about this ex boyfriend.”

“There’s a whole chapter for you.” Harry rolled his eyes, opening up a bottle of peach tea and swallowing about half of it before continuing, “My second love, his name was Tommy. I shouldn’t have fallen in love with him in the first place, but we were eighteen and broken, you’ve had that relationship, haven’t you?”

Louis had to exhale before he answered, but he nodded slowly, “Of course, think we all have.”

“Unless you’re Niall and you married your high school sweetheart like some kind of fairytale.” Harry ran his fingers back through his hair, “Right, anyway, he was beautiful, classic beautiful, like Marlon Brando, just fucking, yeah.” He hit the pipe again before resuming the story, god knew he needed it, “He was so, so sweet to me, I couldn’t count the nights we stayed up together, the chivalrous acts, our little adventures, it was like a dream, but he was insane, he got so jealous, and I used to like it, you know? I was eighteen, him getting in fights over me was my ultimate fantasy, but it got bad, he didn’t like me having friends, and eventually he believed the rumors and it was just too much. I had to break it off, and it hurt, everyone who I asked before told me I’d feel so free, that it’d be a weight off my shoulders, but it hurt, I cried for months. I wrote probably five albums worth of songs, do you know Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus? Stupid question, of course you do, yeah, that was me in 2007.”

“Damn.” Louis had no other words, “Not only a ‘Wrecking Ball’ breakup, but the breakup that actually inspired ‘Wrecking Ball’ damn.” He repeated.

“Not just Wrecking Ball, either.” Harry set the pipe down, noticing that both he and Louis were swaying slightly and probably more than good at the moment. “Chasing Pavements was me, too, Skinny Love, Over My Head, Between the Lines.” He listed, “Me and Adele became like, best friends.”

“Wait.” Louis looked at Harry, the pieces finally clicking together in his one hundred mile per hour head. “You’ve been writing this whole time?”

“Oh, yeah.” Harry nodded, not realizing himself that he hadn’t established the fact already, “Writing music is my lifeblood, I could never stop, and while about sixty percent of what I write never sees the light of day, I still email the good ones to my people to see if anyone wants to pick them up, I ghostwrite under the name Herschel Malone, don’t put that in the book.”

“Aw, look what has to happen.” Louis raised his hands in an exaggerated shrug before leaning into Harry, pressing his cheek to Harry's shoulder. “I feel like I should give you a hug now, Over My Head? Fuck, I did some serious crying to the 'I'm losing you and it's effortless' lyric, that whole album, really.”

“You and me both, Lou.” Harry sighed, fitting his arm around Louis’ back while Louis wrapped both his arms around Harry.

“Are you like, alright now? Have you been in other relationships? Are you still crying on the daily?” He asked, face still pressed into Harry’s shoulder.

“I’m alright.” Harry promised, petting Louis’ hair, “I’ve been in a few relationships, no more tears.”

“You promise?” Louis insisted, raising his head so he could look straight into Harry’s eyes.

“I promise.” Harry echoed meaningfully, “I’ve got Niall and my pen and you, I’m a-ok.”

“Good.” Louis nodded, “So tell me what else was wrong with you at that time.” He couldn’t help but laugh a little.

“Everyone wanted to use me for something, sister wanted me to take her on a red carpet even though I’d never set foot on one in my life, people who I’ve never talked to in my life wanted my money, people who I went to school with were pretending to be friends with me, I was only twenty two, it was so goddamn overwhelming, it’s a miracle that I held on for another three years.”

“Why did you?” Louis questioned, leaning into Harry heavily once again, looking out over the estate, noting the light from Harry’s house in the distance.

“I loved doing shows.” Harry replied simply, “Nothing in the world feels better, it’s amazing, as shit as touring and the entire concept of ‘celebrity’ is, being on stage for two hours a night is addictive, I miss it so, so damn much.”

“I can tell.” Louis commented, “I mean, I never saw you like, in real life, but it comes across in the videos, how into it you are, you’re a rockstar, you know? It’s only you up there but it feels like you’re including the entire audience, it’s insane, I’ve never seen anyone perform with that much passion.”  

Louis felt Harry’s breath catch, Harry opened his mouth and then closed it, and then opened it again, “You’re not just saying that?”

“Of course not, you’re amazing.”

“I was.” Harry corrected, and continued before Louis could disagree, “I’m chilly, d’you think we should head back in?”

Louis looked at the house, and then Harry, and then the house again, “It’s so far away.”

Harry laughed, already gathering their things into the bag he’d brought along. “I’ll carry you?” He offered.

“That’s a great idea, can’t believe I didn’t think of that myself.” Louis nodded, getting up and jumping on Harry’s back without a moment’s hesitation, the two of them teetering across Harry’s endless backyard until they were safe and sound and laying together in Harry’s bed.

Time had gone by fast with Harry, Louis thought as he walked down the stairs on a mid December morning, a blanket wrapped around his shoulders as he walked around in only a pair of sweatpants, headed directly for the kettle. In the four months he’d been there, he’d completed about half of his book, and he and Harry got closer and closer everyday.“Hi!” Louis knew that no matter how tired he was, Harry would always be extra chipper with him, so he figured it was only best to return the act.

Though it had been fast, Louis had learned a lot more since their night on the bridge. Immediately following that, he wasn’t afraid to ask questions anymore, he’d incorporate them into his and Harry’s shared dialogue whenever he saw fit, which was often, sometimes they were deep, like how difficult his life had been as a teenager, and sometimes they were fun, like what color he’d be if he got to choose (rainbow, for the record), Louis liked to keep a mix of both.  

“Hello.” Harry returned, the exact same hint of amusement in his voice as he sat on his sofa, clothed in a pair of sweatpants that matched Louis’ as well as a Green Bay Packers sweatshirt, his hair was tied up in a bun and pushed back with a headband. Harry had a small rig with his laptop set up on the coffee table plugged into a few things, except it wasn’t the recording one that Louis was used to seeing Harry hunched over.

Harry hadn’t allowed Louis to see his writing process yet, but he often saw Harry fine tuning a song or recording tracks of his own. Harry’s voice hadn’t dissipated at all, if anything, it had gotten better, Louis would get out of his morning shower and a note from the floor above him would hit him like a bullet, but he loved it, Harry’s voice was like nothing else and Louis could listen to it forever.

“What’s that now?” Louis asked, putting the kettle on before walking over to Harry, blanket still wrapped tight around his shoulders as he sat right down next to him, resting his cheek against Harry’s shoulder and looking at the screen.

Harry wrapped his arm around Louis’ smaller frame instinctively, turning the laptop so he could get a better look. “I have a photography habit.” Harry admitted, blushing a little as he let Louis look freely through his work, he was a lot less confident with his hobbies than he was with his music. “A lot of the framed ones on the walls in here are mine, actually.”

Harry just kept getting better, didn’t he? Louis clicked on the photos that grabbed his attention, a good number, he could tell, were from around the property, but most were from within the San Francisco. There were a few from within Niall’s pub, but the majority were from somewhere that Louis couldn’t place, looking out over the city, “These are really good.” Louis told him, “You should take me there.” He pointed to the higher up photos, wondering where Harry had been going to get the shots.

“Yeah?” Louis didn’t miss the smile that initially flashed across Harry’s face, it was clear he was was relieved to hear Louis’ praise, “What about next week?”

“Next week?” Louis looked away from the screen and up at Harry, “I’m going to be gone next week, lad.”

Almost instantly, panic streaked in Harry’s eyes, instead of waiting like usual to think, his response was almost immediate, “You’re leaving?” If Louis could feel the grip on his shoulder tighten, he wouldn’t mention it.

Louis just smiled, patting Harry’s knee, “Not for good.” He promised, “It was in my initial agreement, I thought you knew, I’m taking a week off for Christmas.”

“Oh, Christmas.” Harry visibly relaxed, his grip loosening once again, “Yeah, that is coming up, innit?”

“Oh please.” Louis rolled his eyes, patting Harry’s knee once more before getting back up, as his tea was whistling. Louis went on as he poured the water out and selected his tea of the day, “You mean to tell me you forgot about Christmas?”

“I mean, I would have remembered, probably, I like to at least get one seasonal viewing of The Grinch before it’s over.” Harry shrugged, taking his laptop back and starting his editing process back up.

“Harry Styles!” Louis tsked, grabbing his mug and starting back towards Harry. “You need to get better Christmas plans.” He walked back over to the sofa, tossing the blanket over the both of them this time, setting his mug down on the table. “Actually, you know what? You should come with me.”

“What? Back to the island?” Harry secured the blanket over his own lap, facing toward Louis, “Why in the world would you want me to come with you?”

“Yes, back to the island.” Louis chuckled, leaning over and fixing a piece of Harry’s hair that had fallen out of the bun, and was hanging over the headband, pushing it behind his ear, “Manchester, to be more specific, why wouldn’t I want you to come with me?”

“Well, it seems like this was your chance to escape me for a bit.” Harry pointed out, “And I wouldn’t want to drag you away from your loved ones, I’m sure they miss you.” He did look genuinely concerned, and it was endearing, really, how respectful Harry always tried to be, Louis had seen it countless times now, but it never failed to amaze him.

“It’s just my friends and I’m there for a whole week, I’m sure we’ll see enough of each other.” Louis promised, “I’d love for you to come, really, and I know they would too.”

“And who’s ‘they’ exactly?” Harry questioned, for someone who knew so much about Harry already, Harry knew next to nothing about Louis. It made sense, sure, Louis was the one writing a book about Harry’s life, but it made Harry sort of uncomfortable, it wasn’t that he felt entitled to know about Louis’ life, of course he wasn’t, but Harry did value their friendship. It seemed strange to him how their bond was almost entirely based on Hary.

“Oh! Good question.” Louis chuckled, “My mates, Liam and Zayn, they’re a couple, we lived together before I came here, they’re shitheads but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss ‘em.”

Harry studied Louis’ face for a moment before giving a little nod, “If you’re sure-”

“I’m so sure.” Louis promised, “And we can watch The Grinch on the plane, we leave the twentieth and come back the twenty seventh.”

Harry looked at Louis, completely enamored. Sure, Louis was being paid to be here, Harry didn’t let himself forget that, but he didn’t have to be nice to him, and he certainly didn’t have to take him home for Christmas.

But he did, and a week later the two of them were boarding a flight to Manchester, Harry all done up in a hoodie and sunglasses while Louis walked along happily, already cloaked in a Christmas jumper. “I love airports.” Louis stated cheerfully, “To be fair, it’s only my second time in one, but it’s so fun!”

“I’m glad you think so.” Harry couldn’t help but laugh, his hands stuffed in his pockets, keeping his head down, he didn’t know how likely it was that someone would recognize him, but he figured he was better off safe than sorry. It wasn’t that Harry didn’t like airports, he’d just spent enough time in them that it wasn’t exciting, but he found a lot of joy in watching Louis run about the shops, commenting upon anything and everything.

“I should really ask my publisher about getting my books in one of these stores, don’t you think? Right now they’re only at Waterstones and online, but I think an airport would be a good place to pedal three hundred page plus biographies.” Louis tutted as he picked up various novels, skimming through the pages, looking on the back while Harry stood behind him.

“What made you start writing?” Harry asked, his arms crossed over his chest as he watched Louis’ movement, they still had around half an hour until they were allowed to board.

“I like to share.” Louis answered simply, though he was a little thrown off that Harry was asking him something. “I’m kind of a geek, I do a lot of research, it’s just in my nature, and obviously I want to share it. I have hundreds of essays compiled on my laptop about different subjects, writing is just something I have to do to get my thoughts out, it’s either that or talking my mates’ ears off, more often than not, a mix of the two, actually, Zayn knows more about Victor Hugo than he ever wanted to.” He joked, leaning back into Harry’s arms as his eyes scanned the first page of a coffee table book about sacred geometry. “What about you? What made you start writing?”

Harry rested his chin on top of Louis’ head, looking over the book idly as well. “Well, when you explain it like that, same thing, really.” He replied, “I really, really, loved music, and I had melodies and words flowing through my veins, and I just had to get them out.”

Louis’ lips turned up in a smile as he closed the book and put it away, turning around so he was looking up at Harry, “Guess we aren’t so different then, are we?” He giggled, grabbing Harry’s hand and walking him out of the bookshop and into a luggage store.

They did, in fact, watch The Grinch on the flight, much to Harry’s pleasure. Louis and Harry spent the ride cuddled together under a pile of blankets, sharing a pair of earbuds. Harry had drifted off when they were over Québec, while Louis made it far enough to see them fly off the East coast.

Louis was also evidently the lighter sleeper, he woke at the first announcement that they were over the UK, leaving him to the task of waking Harry up, which was something he really didn’t want to do. It wasn’t that he thought Harry would be mad, as early as he woke up, it must not be that much of an issue, but he looked even more at peace than usual, and if Louis stared long enough sometimes Harry’s nose would crinkle up and it was probably the cutest thing Louis had ever seen. Louis waited until the very last minute before turning to Harry, petting his hair gently, “Hey, ‘arry.” He whispered, tapping his nose once before going back to his hair, hoping it would be enough to wake him, “We’re about to land.” Harry’s nose wrinkled again before his eyes blinked open, looking around the cabin before settling on Louis.

“Thank you.” Harry’s voice was coated thick with sleep as he reached up to rub his eyes, letting out a small yawn, “That was probably the best someone’s ever woken me up.”

Louis’ lips turned up in a grin, “No problem, now, there are two boys waiting for us right in there.” He pointed to the large building that the plane was just over, “So I suggest we pack up and get a move on.”

Louis was pretty good at keeping calm when he knew the situation ahead of him, so he hadn’t been terribly anxious about the trip in general. He knew exactly what was going on, there was no reason to be over-excited, but the second he saw Liam and Zayn standing at the end of the terminal, he dropped his bags and started in a sprint.

Louis hadn’t been anticipating that reaction out of himself at all, he didn’t know at all what had come over him, but apparently Liam did, because when Louis threw himself he caught him without a problem, setting him down gently and pulling him into a hug. Louis clung onto his friend tightly, and then remembered Zayn and pulled him in as well, unable to keep the beaming smile off of his face. “Lads!” Louis couldn’t find any other word to say, he searched the depths of his brain in that moment, and it was the only thing in his mind. Louis had been busy, and while he did miss his friends, he called them often and it became their new dynamic. Louis never spent late nights staying up missing them, but seeing his boys in real life hit him hard, just looking at them, they way they stood, reacted, it made Louis more homesick than ever.

“Oi, Louis, it’s been three months, mate.” Zayn joked, but he was smiling just as widely when Louis managed to finally pull away, looking back and finding that Harry had collected Louis’ forgotten bags and caught up, standing behind them, looking sort of out of place.

“This is Harry.” Louis ushered his friend forward excitedly, “Harry, this is Liam and Zayn.” Louis nodded to each of them respectively. Harry stuck out a hand to shake, only to be pulled into a hug by Liam.

“Thanks for taking care of my boy, and for writing the best song ever.” Liam said all at once as he let Harry go, making Harry grin as he turned to the other boy, Zayn, who seemed just as eager, “What he said.” He echoed, but his hug was just as strong, if not stronger than Liam’s.

“What’s the best song ever?” Harry asked curiously as Liam took it upon himself to take the bags and Zayn lead the two of them towards the car.

“Your song, Fireproof.” Zayn answered, “It’s, er.” He ducked his head down, his hands in his pockets.

“It’s our song.” Liam interjected, though he was clearly blushing as well, “Sort of has been for about four years now.”

“Four years?” Harry asked, walking side by side with Louis, hovering closer to him than he probably should, he’d been in Manchester Airport before, plenty of times, but it had been so long, and it was all so new.

“Yeah, we’re a little late to the party, we know, we were both into rap and rap only when it came out originally, we also didn’t know each other because we were fifteen.” Liam explained.

“I’d never even heard it.” Zayn went on, “But we were in his dorm, it was within the first month or so of our relationship, so you can inference what was happening, but it came on Pandora, and it just hit both of us really, really hard, and it has been since.”

Louis could barely believe his ears. He knew how much Liam and Zayn loved each other, of course he did, he’d been there for all four years and he’d been living with it for three. As much as he knew them to gush about each other to each other, they were both fairly private about their relationship to others, so it was surprising how open they were to Harry, but Louis also knew Harry had that effect on people.

Louis was happy to see Liam, and Zayn, and LiamandZayn again, immeasurably happy. Louis was twenty six, while Zayn and Liam were twenty three and twenty two, respectively. Louis had been TA-ing for a required freshman course in his first year of grad school when he met the two of them. Louis had assumed they were a couple based on the fact that they looked like a couple and that they sat next to each other everyday, but when he finally got the courage to talk to them (his brilliant opening line was a comment about Zayn’s tattoos), he’d found that the two had never exchanged words before. Louis thought that was a problem, because they were obviously meant to be, so he got each of their numbers and started organizing events with the two of them, study sessions, smoke sessions, jam sessions, countless sessions until he finally came back into the room to find the two of them making out. Louis considered it his fourth greatest accomplishment, right behind graduating and his books.

The three of them had been living together since Liam and Zayn decided that they didn’t like living in dorms anymore and Louis’ ex boyfriend all but threw him out on the street. Living with a couple had its predictable trade-offs, but it was all Louis had known in recent history, and he missed it terribly.

“I’m glad I could do that for you.” Harry offered, because he wasn’t exactly sure what to say about the fact, he was touched, immeasurably touched, he loved hearing sentiments like that. It was so apparent how happy Zayn and Liam were even after less than a minute with them, but Harry was constantly at a loss for words when it came to his art. That, of the couples who had told him that he'd written 'their song', this was the first time that the song in question wasn't Kiss Me. Harry liked his first single as much as the next guy, but in comparison to his whole career, being reduced down to just that song felt a little insulting at times. “That one is definitely about that kind of thing, car rides and making out in dorms and that, well, I don’t know, I didn’t go to college, I don’t know what making out in dorms feels like, but, you know, probably like that.”

“Definitely like that.” Liam agreed, tossing the suitcases into the car before hopping in the driver’s seat with Zayn already sat shotgun, Louis and Harry climbing in the back.

A short car ride later, they were at the flat and Harry didn’t know what he’d imagined Louis’ flat to look like before, but it certainly wasn’t this.

It was decently sized, a good reflection of what three college students with average backgrounds and part time jobs could manage, though it was worth noting that the first downpayment was all from Theodora royalties. The place had high ceilings and a spacious living area that lead back to two bedrooms and one bath, it was comfortable. Even though it wasn’t what Harry had imagined, it was clearly Louis’.

The first thing Louis did was stick out his arms and flop straight onto the sofa, making the three other boys laugh.

“Miss your couch, did you?” Zayn teased, ruffling Louis hair.

“You have no idea, Harry, come experience this sofa with me.” Louis requested, and Harry was in Louis’ arms before he knew it, tangling their legs together and turning on the telly, both of them beaming when Bake Off was on.

“We’ll leave you to it, but you should know we’re going out for dinner tonight.” Liam told them, but they were too far gone to notice, so instead he looked at his boyfriend, and the two of them went straight to their room.

When it came to executing plans, Louis’ bladder was always a fairly large part of the equation. It was efficient, unignorable, and most of all, reliable. As predicted, twenty minutes in, Louis got up to go to the bathroom, and Liam pulled him into the bedroom right as he exited afterward.

“I’ve been home for half an hour and you’re already kidnapping me, thanks lads.” Louis commented sarcastically once Liam had moved his hand from over Louis’ mouth while Zayn locked the door.

“It was the only way.” Liam shrugged, sitting down in Zayn’s lap and patting the bed for Louis to settle beside them.

“Why in the world didn’t you tell us you were dating him?” Zayn asked, both him and Liam looking at Louis, confused and somewhat betrayed.

Louis had just been getting into his spot when they hit him with the question, and he really didn’t know what to do, what on Earth were they talking about? “What?” He asked, looking at the couple, and then the door, and then at both of his boys independently, trying to read them. “I’m not dating him, where did you get that idea?”

“You’re not?” They responded in unison.  Louis missed that, even when they were interrogating him, he missed his friends. Zayn and Liam looked at each other before Zayn continued, “Are you sure, mate? You don’t have to lie to us.”

“I’m not lying! We’re not dating, and I’d very much like to know how you drew that conclusion.” Louis persisted, his arms folded over his chest as he stared them down.

“How we drew that conclusion, are you serious?” Liam laughed. “You two haven’t stopped touching each other since you got here, you were practically in his lap in the car, you’ve been koala-ing him for about twenty minutes, and you look at him the way you used to look at, well.”

Zayn interrupted before it got awkward. “Not to mention that he looks at you the exact same way, turns to you whenever either of us asks a question, he’s so lovesick it hurts.”

“You guys are insane.” Louis dismissed them, getting up before they could say anymore, but their words stuck with him.

Louis went back to cuddling with Harry, trading off positions and being the little spoon this time round since he didn’t want to climb over Harry to get back to where he was. Louis tried to ignore how good being enveloped in Harry’s touch and smell felt, how much he liked the way Harry’s thumb rubbed at his hip idly, but those assholes wouldn’t let him forget it. Louis wasn’t in love with Harry, was he? He knew Harry definitely wasn’t in love with him, so if they were wrong about that part, they had to be wrong about everything, right? Harry was Harry, he was just nice. Nice and sweet to Louis, maybe. Nice and sweet to Louis and a genius and deep and quiet but hilarious and fuck, fuck.

“Hey.” Louis said suddenly, sure his heart was beating faster than it should, he was so in love, how had he not recognized it before? There had to be some kind of moral code he was breaking, the police taking him away would be better than this.

“What?” Harry asked, still absorbed in the show, not at all aware of what had been going on inside Louis’ head.

“Nothing.” Louis didn’t know what he’d planned to say in the first place, something stupid, probably, keeping quiet was the best plan, he was sure.

“Alright.” And Harry’s hand went back to drawing small circles on Louis’ tummy and Louis was fucked, so fucked.

Dinner was complete agony, there was no other way to put it. At about seven that night the foursome had set out to a calzone place, which would hurt enough in the first place since Louis had gone on countless dates there, but now Harry was there with him too and he couldn’t help but be hyperaware of every touch and look and feeling. Before, it had been Harry and Louis alone in the outskirts of San Francisco, but now Louis couldn’t help but notice the other two boys staring whenever he and Harry so much as glanced at each other. Dinner felt like a millennium, and Louis knew he couldn’t force himself to suffer like this for the rest of the trip, so he settled on the rest of the night.

Louis and Harry were still energized from their sleep on the flight, so they were both up, still watching shit telly past midnight, covered in all the blankets from Louis’ old room. At around one, Harry had gotten up to try and make himself some coffee, Louis saw his opportunity. Harry had tried and failed to use the coffee maker and Louis had to step in. Focus on the task, Louis reminded himself, talk and focus and it would be over before he knew it.

“How do you like Liam and Zayn?” Louis asked as he emptied the water out of the wrong compartment, undoing Harry’s mishaps before he started on a fresh pot.

“They’re good lads, I can see why you’re friends with them, very cute as a couple, too.” Harry answered, watching Louis’ back as he made his way round the kitchen.

“Yeah, I think so.” Louis nodded slowly, standing up on his tiptoes to reach a coffee filter from the cabinet and putting it into the machine. “Did you know they thought we were in love?”

“Oh.” Harry responded and Louis froze, it was a soft ‘oh’, he couldn’t tell if it was good or bad but it was certainly enough to scare him. “Am I really that transparent?” Harry continued, and Louis was still frozen.

“What?” Louis asked, and oh, that definitely sounded bad. Louis hadn’t meant it to, but it was stiff and worried and maybe angry, but he couldn’t take it back.

“I know.” Harry hurried, stepping back from Louis and pacing the kitchen, “I know, it was probably the worst thing I could have done, but I couldn’t help it, you know? I let you into my life and you didn’t  wreck it and that shouldn’t sound like some sort of amazing accomplishment but only one other person has ever done that and you’re just so good to me, I mean, look at us, you brought me back to your flat to meet what’s basically your family and I’ve never met anyone I liked through business and it’s just such a -”

Louis kissed him, he wrapped his arms around Harry’s neck and pulled him down and kissed him long and hard and didn’t dare to open his eyes the entire time.

“Oh.” Harry repeated, looking down at Louis, “You’re, I, can I hear some words from you, please? I have a billion questions but I don’t know where to start.” There was a bright blush surrounding a grin on Harry’s face, and Louis felt okay again.

“I love you, so much.” Louis looked from Harry to the ground and Harry had kissed back, sure, but it was nerve-racking and he could so easily say the wrong thing and have all of this, whatever this was, slip away from him. “And I didn’t know it until today, because I’m an idiot, and I, I don’t know what I was going to say, can I kiss you again?”

Harry was kissing him before he could say anything more, and Louis couldn’t express how right it felt, “I love you too.” Harry said finally, as it had occurred to him that he hadn’t said the words yet.

“It’s definitely not the worst thing you could have done.” Louis concluded, turning on the coffee pot and walking Harry back to the couch hand in hand.

It wasn’t until two days into their trip that Louis left Harry, Liam, and Zayn alone. Louis had been meaning to go and say hello to some of his other mates as well, and they’d unanimously agreed that taking Harry wasn’t worth the risk.  Harry laid on the couch, fitted in a pair of penguin pajama pants and a sweater, working on a bowl of cereal when Zayn walked into the room.

“Hello.” Harry greeted, looking over when Liam entered as well, “Hello.” He repeated.

“Hi.” They returned in unison, “Just wondering, what are you getting Louis for his birthday?” Liam looked at Harry expectantly.

“What?” Harry looked at each of their faces, “When’s his birthday?”

“Oh my god.” Zayn turned around and looked at Liam, “I told you!”

“You did tell me, I know.” Liam agreed, and then looked back at Harry, “His birthday’s tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow?!” How had Harry’s friend (boyfriend?) not told him about something so important? “He didn’t tell me, why didn’t he tell me?”

“He doesn’t like to inconvenience people with two presents, we didn’t find out until we stole his driver’s license.” Zayn consoled, “I mean, obviously you don’t have to get him anything, you didn’t even know about it, but it would be nice.”

“Of course I’m going to get him something.” Harry got up, letting the duvet that had been covering him fall and pacing the living room with his hands on his hips, it was a habit. “I got him faster internet in the house for Christmas since he’s always complaining.” He explained, “I’ve been writing him love songs since October, but it feels cheap at this point, you know? I can write a song about anything or anyone and it doesn’t have to take more than ten minutes.”

“But the ones you write for him do, don’t they?” Zayn asked, an idea forming in his head already.

“Well, yeah, there was one that I’ve been working on for a few months and I’m still not sure if it’s done.” Harry admitted, running his hands through his hair and wincing, what was he supposed to do?

“Play him that one.” Zayn answered simply, “He’ll know it took more than ten minutes, you won’t have to tell him.”

Harry thought that was a good idea, and it was, but he also snuck out at one point under the guise of buying a christmas card for Niall to get Louis a new outfit, just in case he didn’t like the song. He presented the outfit along with Liam and Zayn’s joint gift, a large mural of a bird that had to do with some inside joke that Harry didn’t understand and saved the song for once Zayn and Liam had gone off to bed.

Harry had taken one of Liam’s acoustic guitars and pulled Louis into the bedroom, nodding for him to sit down. “I might release an entire album about you one day, but I’ve been working on this one for a while now.” He explained, taking the pick and starting a simple chord progression.

I want to write you a song

Louis covered his mouth at the first note that Harry voiced, sure, he’d heard Harry sing before, but he’d never had Harry sing to him before.

One as beautiful as you are sweet

With just a hint of pain for the feeling that I get when you are gone

I want to write you a song

Louis never thought it would be this hard to abstain from kissing someone, but staying still for two minutes and fifty nine seconds had never been harder. When Harry finally set the guitar down and looked at Louis hopefully, he couldn’t help but all but leap onto him, kissing him with all the love in the world. “You succeeded.” Louis giggled, and neither of them had ever been happier.

Early in the morning on the last day before they were to fly back, Harry had stopped Louis from getting out of bed when he woke. “Wait.” He interlaced their fingers, pulling his boyfriend back.

“I really have to pee, Harry.” Louis pouted, squeezing Harry’s hand, “What is it?”

“I’m sorry.” Harry blushed, “I was just wondering, uh, Holmes Chapel is only a little less than an hour away…”

“Consider it done.” Louis leaned in and gave Harry’s lips a quick peck before dashing off to the bathroom.

Mostly, Louis wanted to see Harry’s hometown, but it was also important for the book, and that was the exact argument that Louis used to take out Liam’s car.

Harry didn’t have any intermediate family left in Holmes Chapel, so it was more of a walk around. Harry took Louis to his school, his old house, his old loitering spots, the bakery where he used to work, where they settled at a small table and chatted.

“I’ll take you to Donny next time.” Louis promised, his legs stretching across under the table and resting in Harry’s lap.

“Really? I’d love that.” Harry beamed, taking a sip of the water he’d purchased.

“Of course, we’ll find a reason to come back before long.” Louis assured him.

Their trip had been everything Louis had wanted and more, he left with a best friend and came back with a boyfriend and got to see where he came from along the way. A week with Liam and Zayn was the perfect amount of time, even though he might have clung onto them a little bit too long at the airport.

They didn’t have to say a word to each other on the way back to know what was happening. A week with no alone time was agonizing, and while Louis had been waiting for his chance to get back at Liam and Zayn for the relentless years of trying to buy the best headphones on the market, both Louis and Harry knew it wouldn’t be as good as either of them wanted it to be, so they waited.

And they waited, and Harry had a firm grip on the inside of Louis’ thigh as he drove them back to the house and it was driving him absolutely insane. It was a total of five seconds inside the front door before their mouths were attached and Harry was tugging at Louis’ shirt, dropping his mouth to Louis’ neck and marking him thoroughly, dark bruises scattering his skin. They were both half naked before Louis grabbed Harry’s wrists and reminded him. “Bedroom.”

It had been far, far too long for both of them, and they weren’t about to waste any time. Louis whined and swore at the feeling of Harry’s long fingers stretching him open, and finally the dull, slow thrust of his cock. Louis felt so exposed on his back with Harry looking at him with pure lust in his eyes, especially as Louis had less and less control over his sounds and the way he writhed as he got closer to his orgasm, eventually throwing his arm over his face as he muffled a scream, shooting across his own stomach.

Harry had to hold Louis up as he finished, both of them collapsing onto the bed right thereafter. Louis felt the weight of the world pulling him down, but at the same time, he'd never felt more free.

“Hey, Lou?” Harry turned on his side to look at the other boy, who was about thirty seconds away from falling asleep.

“Yes?” Louis replied, his eyes opening just enough to see his lover, still trying to catch his breath.

“Don’t put that in the book.” Harry grinned cheekily and Louis playfully slapped his shoulder, rolling his eyes before Harry got up to clean the two of them off. Harry bundled Louis up in blankets before he could start complaining about the cold and he was asleep before Harry could get another word in. 

Harry was set on learning everything about Louis after that, before it made sense, but now he had no excuse, so he devoted the entire next morning to his boy.

Harry kissed Louis awake promptly at noon, as he’d observed was the boy’s usual rising time, as compared to Harry’s normal 5 A.M.

“Ngh? Oh, hi.” Louis blinked awake, his head lulling over to the side of him that Harry was on and pulling him into a soft kiss. “That was very nice.” He smiled.

“I learned from the best, here.” Harry handed Louis a mug of tea, and Louis’ heart had absolutely melted, he was really upset he hadn’t realized how much he loved him earlier, how could he not?

“I want to study you.” Harry told Louis, lips against Louis’ chest as he sat up in bed.

“What do you mean, love?” Louis asked, gingerly taking a sip of the hot tea.

“Your body.” Harry clarified, “I want to study it.”

“It that a euphemism?” Louis made a face, still not understanding, making Harry laugh.

“No, like.” Harry paused, pulling the blankets down, his warm hand splaying out over Louis’ tummy, “What’s that?”

Louis looked down, realizing that Harry was indicating a small scar. “Sister pointed her brand new jumbo pencil in the wrong direction.” He answered with a giggle.

“And this?” Harry asked, pointing to the compass on the inside of Louis’ arm.

“I was a bit dramatic about leaving the UK to come here, I got that the night before, pointing home.” Louis explained, looking over the ink himself.

“Aw, you’re making me feel bad, what about this?”   

Because Louis had so many tattoos and marks, it took them the better part of the morning. Harry came out of it completely satisfied, sure, he didn’t know every single bit of Louis’ past, but he’d gained a lot more knowledge than he’d had before.

They made it through the rest of winter quite successfully. They’d gone to Seattle with Niall to celebrate Harry’s birthday, Louis’ old bedroom had barely been set foot in since they’d returned from the UK, Louis hadn’t been happier in his life. That was, however, until he was up writing late one night while Harry was doing just the same downstairs, the word count on his document ticked over to 70,000, and he found that he had nothing more to write.

Louis had learned everything about Harry, what time his alarm went off when he was in high school (6:45), what cities he hated the most (“my hate for Anchorage is infinite”) , what deserts he liked the best (“I love muffins, I don’t care if that’s a boring answer”), exactly what he thought aliens looked like (“Small, but not too small, like, not as big as you, but not as small as my lawn gnome, and translucent”), he knew everything the public needed to know and more. Louis had written all the way up to his last line.  

Harry Styles currently resides in Northern California.

It was simple, sure, but it didn’t have to be complex. Louis had proved his writing ability in the 200 pages leading up to the line, but it felt wrong, oh well, he figured, an editor would find something better.

Louis pushed his laptop aside walked down the stairs, his feet covered in fuzzy socks, quieting his steps.

“Harry?” Louis called, only to find that he was immersed in his music once again, large headphones covering his ears. Louis took the liberty of taking them off and sitting on Harry’s lap, “I have some news.” He told him.

“What’s that, babe?” Harry asked, his arm wrapping around Louis’ waist and looking up into his lover’s eyes. Harry’s last five singles were straight bubblegum pop, his producers were confused, but the entire world could hear his happiness whenever they turned on the radio, and that was all Harry had ever wanted in the first place.

“The book’s done.” Louis told him simply, and he saw the exact same fear in Harry’s eyes from when he’d said he’d be leaving the first time.

“Don’t go.” Harry looked at Louis, not sure what else to say, he couldn’t imagine life without Louis anymore.

“The book’s not done now.” Louis smiled, taking Harry’s laptop into his own hold as his boyfriend stared confusedly, logging into his account and opening up the file where he kept his work, scrolling all the way to the bottom.

Harry Styles currently resides in Northern California.

Louis backspaced once and started typing while Harry watched.

Harry Styles currently resides in Northern California with Louis Tomlinson, his immeasurably proud boyfriend and biographer.

Harry turned to kiss Louis, and no editor could have come up with a better ending.