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the same ground

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Louis has been staring at his new neighbor all day.

It’s creepy, he’s entirely aware that it’s creepy for him to sit on his couch and blatantly stare out the window to watch the bloke shovel his part of the sidewalk and driveway, but he’s fit and the way his muscles stretch under his white shirt make it impossible for Louis to look away.

“How long has he been out there?” Harry asks from behind Louis. Louis doesn’t turn to answer.

“A few hours, probably.”

Harry makes a humming noise. “He’s almost done.”

Louis nods, lifting his hand in a wave when the neighbor stops to stretch, leaning on the shovel handle for support. He looks surprised, and slowly lifts his hand in response. Louis smiles.

“You’ll have to be quick if you want to catch him,” Harry says, and Louis finally turns to look at him. He’s got two steaming mugs in one of his giant hands, and looks at Louis curiously, like how he looks when Louis’ asks him if his hair looks alright. Considering, almost.


Harry’s eyes flick out the window and then back to Louis. He nods. “Yeah,” he says, and holds out one of the mugs.


It’s a thing he and Harry do. Well, it’s a thing they do in theory, actually, because for all they tell each other they’ve got an open relationship, neither of them have ever actually gone for anyone else in the four years they’ve been together. There’s been a few attempts -- a bloke named Zayn that Harry almost-dated right up until Zayn found out Harry had another boyfriend, a girl named Taylor who was always working and gave Louis the evil eye every time he was home with them -- but none have stuck. People don’t seem to keen on sharing Harry once they have a part of him, and while Louis understands that impulse, he knows that it’s better to have part of him than none.

Which isn’t to say that Louis doesn’t love Harry or that Harry doesn’t love him, because they do, they love each other so much that it overwhelms Louis sometimes and he can’t ever imagine not being with him. He knows Harry feels the same way, which is why it’s not really a big deal for Harry to date around a bit. Or for Louis, too, really, though he’s never, ever thought of it until now. He loves Harry so much that sometimes he feels consumed by it, but this bloke is very fit. Very fit.


Louis stuffs his feet into his boots and shuffles out into the cold, the mug of cocoa still steaming as he makes his way across the street. The neighbor heaves piles of snow off the walk and onto the yard, the metal of the shovel scraping against the cement and ice as he does. The sound makes Louis wince, but the bloke’s even fitter up close. His t-shirt strains against his back with every movement and Louis can see glimpses of skin where he’s sweat through the material. His jeans are dark and tight and make his bum look fabulous when he bends over, and his hair’s gone sweaty and loose, falling around his eyes. He looks like a wet dream come to life.

“Hiya,” Louis says, painting on a smile and trying not to look too predatory. The bloke startles and turns, blinking at Louis. “I’m Louis.”

“Liam,” he responds, his breathing heavy as he leans on his shovel again. “Just moved in.”

Louis resists the urge to roll his eyes. Of course you have, he thinks. Obviously he and Harry noticed the truck full of stuff when it arrived a week ago. They’d sat at their front window then too, watching as Liam and a man with bleach blond hair had hauled all the stuff in. Louis had thought maybe they were together, but the blond left when they were done and hasn’t been back. Or, hasn’t been back that Louis’ seen. He’s really got to stop watching his neighbors.

“I saw,” Louis say with a smile. “Thought I’d welcome you to the neighborhood.”

Liam stands there and doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t smile, doesn’t do anything. It catches Louis off guard, and he shifts on his feet.

“So, welcome,” he says, and offers the mug. Liam stares at it, and raises an eyebrow. Uncomfortable, Louis clears his throat. “Thought you might like a little treat. Since you’ve been working so hard.”

Liam smiles at him, so genuine and sweet that his eyes crinkle up and Louis feels like he’s been punched in the chest by it. He may have overestimated how easy this would be. He’s so -- He’s cute, for god’s sake.

“Thanks,” Liam says, and takes the mug.

Louis nods and takes a step back. “Just return it when you’re done, yeah?” He gestures to his front porch. “Outside the door is fine, if we’re not home. Um. Have a nice day.”

“Sure, Louis,” Liam says with a nod. “Thanks again!”

Louis makes a strangled noise and flees back across the street, leaning against the door once he’s inside. Really smooth, Tommo, he says, thunking his head against the wood. Very charming.

Harry’s standing in front of him when he opens his eyes. “So?” Harry asks, “How’d it go?”

“I panicked.” Louis hides his face in his hands. “He smiled at me and I panicked. He’s so cute, Hazza, and so fucking fit.” The how’ll he ever go for me, goes unasked, but Louis knows Harry hears it anyway. He leans forward, gently tugging one of Louis’ hands down and tilting his head up.

“He’ll be lucky to have you,” he says softly, pressing a kiss to Louis’ forehead. The touch calms Louis, and he sags forward into Harry’s chest, sighing when Harry wraps him up in a hug.

“What if he doesn’t want me?” Louis hates how small his voice sounds. He never feels like this with Harry, never feels like he isn’t enough.

“He will,” Harry says, tightening his arms around Louis. “He definitely will.”

Louis grumbles but doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t really believe Harry, but he knows if he voiced it Harry would just spend all afternoon telling him why he’s wrong and while Louis very much likes to be showered with compliments, it’s a bit odd when your long-term boyfriend’s doing it because you want to date someone else. It’s not bad, just weird and strange and Louis has had enough of that for the day.

Harry presses a kiss to the top of Louis’ head and pulls away. “Come on, let’s go watch Love Actually.”

It’s their favorite movie. It always makes Louis feel better when they watch it together. He smiles gratefully up at Harry and nods, following him into the bedroom.


Liam shows up on the doorstep a few days later, bundled in a coat and scarf and beanie, the mug in his hand.

“I do hope you washed that,” Louis says. Liam’s caught him off guard again; he just assumed he’d leave the mug on the step or something. He didn’t expect him to show up with it. In person.

Liam’s brow furrows adorably and he looks down at the mug, and then back up to Louis. “You never said anything about cleaning it,” he says, deadpan, and Louis stares at him.

“Is that a joke?” Louis asks, narrowing his eyes. Liam cracks, laughing and shaking his head like he’s pleased with himself.

“You should’ve seen your face,” he says, his eyes crinkling up again. Louis still feels like he’s getting punched. “Of course I washed it. I’m not an animal.”

“Good,” Louis says, fumbling for a comeback. He takes the mug out of Liam’s hand. “We wouldn’t want your mouth germs everywhere, would we?”

Liam smiles sweetly at him. “Suppose not,” he says, “But I can think of a few places I’d like to put them.”

Louis blinks, stunned for a second before he bursts into laughter. “Was that a line?” he asks, laughing harder when Liam shrugs at him, still smiling. “That has got to be the worst thing I’ve ever heard.”

“Oh come on, it can’t have been that bad,” Liam says, rolling his eyes. He sounds annoyed, but Louis can still see the laugh in his eyes. God, his face is so expressive. It makes Louis wonder how responsive he is. But he can’t think about that right now.

Louis raises his eyebrows. “You implied you’d like to infect me with your germs.”

“Suppose I did, yeah.” Liam shrugs, still smiling and it takes all Louis has not to pull him into a kiss.

“D’you want to come in?” he asks instead. Liam looks torn for a moment, like he might actually really enjoy it, but he shakes his head.

“I’ve got somewhere to be, actually,” he says, pulling at his scarf. The action reveals his neck, a column of smooth, pale skin with a dark birthmark close to the base. Christ, Louis would like to get his mouth on that. “I’d love to um, make it up to you, though?”

Louis’ eyes flick back up to his face, taking in the earnest expression. Louis nearly laughs. “Make up what? The bad pickup line?”

Liam laughs and shakes his head. “No, I dunno. Not being able to come in now, I guess?” He chews on his bottom lip before shrugging. “Really I’d just like an excuse to take you out.”

Oh. Louis feels suddenly like he’s weightless, like if he weren’t holding onto the door handle he might float right up to the ceiling. He nods, trying to contain a smile. “Yeah, I’d like that. Yeah.”

“Brilliant,” Liam laughs, “Does tomorrow night work?” Louis nods and Liam’s smile gets so big his eyes nearly disappear. “Great, I’ll pick you up at seven,” he says, and bounds off with a wave. Louis watches him go, feeling giddy and laughing as he shuts the door.

He runs through the house into the kitchen, tackling Harry from behind into a hug. Harry lets out an oof, and sways a bit, but stays upright.

“I’ve got a date with a boy,” Louis says, pressing his face between Harry’s shoulder blades. He can feel Harry breathing under him, feels his breath hitch. He pulls away. “That’s alright, isn’t it?”

Harry turns, cupping his face. “Of course it is, Lou,” he says, kissing the tip of his nose. “Just new, yeah? I’m glad you’re happy, though.”

Louis smiles and throws his arms around Harry’s shoulders, hugging him tightly, laughing when Harry straightens and picks him up.

“I love you,” Louis says, kissing the side of his head. “You know that? I love you.”

“I know,” Harry says, turning his head to catch Louis’ mouth. “I love you too, yeah? And if Liam breaks your heart I’ll break his face.”

Louis snorts and comb’s a hand through Harry’s curls. “I suppose that’s alright, then,” he says, even though Harry’s never been in a fight in his life and would lose in a second. Still, he supposes it’s the thought that counts.


Louis met Harry when he was eighteen at a school singing competition. After chugging a pint of water on the bus over, Louis had run to the bathroom, only to be confronted with an overly-nervous sixteen year old Harry. He’d looked so nervous that Louis knew it must’ve been his first competition, so he gave him a hug and some encouraging words, and also his phone number. They weren’t allowed to have their phones out, not really, but Harry was cute and Louis was maybe a little shameless when confronted with cute boys.

Harry had texted him thanks at the end of the day, and Louis had texted him the next morning. They hadn’t stopped for eight years. It took them four to get their heads right and get together, and the last four have had ups and downs, but it’s solid. They’re solid. Louis is fairly certain that if Harry can date other people and the world doesn’t end, it’ll be the same the other way around.

Unless, of course, Liam doesn’t want to date him because he doesn’t understand the ‘open relationship’ thing. Louis will just have to be honest about it upfront and convince him it isn’t weird, he tells himself as he gets dressed for his date. Because it isn’t weird. It works for him and Harry. That’s just how they are.

Liam shows up at seven on the dot, knocking on their door even though there’s a perfectly functioning bell right beside him.

“Hiya,” Louis says, smiling widely, and then ushers Liam out the door before Liam can see Harry and start asking questions. If this is gonna be the only date they go on then he wants to actually go on it.

Liam holds his hand for the whole short walk to his car, and then again when they get out to go to the restaurant. His hands are wide and warm, not as big as Harry’s, but Louis’ not comparing them. They’re different, and he likes that. It’s sort of the whole point.

They walk into an Indian restaurant and claim a table, Liam pulling Louis’ chair out for him with a flourish and handing him his menu. They both order water when the waiter approaches and then they’re alone, staring at each other across a table. Louis bites his lip, trying to think of something to say. It’s easy to date, he knows. It was simple when he and Harry finally started, but he supposes he and Harry have always been a bit different. Louis’ sort of lost, here.

“You look really nice,” he settles on saying, pleased when Liam flushes.

“Thanks,” Liam responds. “So do you.”


Louis clears his throat and buries his face in his menu, even though he knows what he’s getting already.

“So,” Liam says, and stops when the waiter returns with their water. He asks if they’re ready to order and Louis nods, closing the menu and giving it to him.

“Do you really?” Liam asks, surprised. “You only looked about two seconds.”

Louis shrugs. “I know what I want when I see it,” he says, smiling slowly when Liam flushes red.

“I’ll have whatever he’s having,” Liam says, and gives the waiter his menu. Louis orders the saag, spicy, and an extra side of naan. The waiter disappears and Louis looks back to Liam, smiling encouragingly. Liam laughs like he’s sheepish and asks Louis about his job and then his childhood so Louis tells him that he’s a graphic designer and he’s got six sisters and one brother, four of which are two sets of twins. He tells him how shit it was being the eldest but also how he feels like he can handle anything and that he loves kids because of it. Liam tells him he’s the youngest of three and was spoiled his whole life and was completely lost during his first year of uni. Liam tells him that the first time he did laundry by himself he shrunk half his clothes and had to beg his mum to send new ones, and when she did, she sent him a laundry cheat sheet for him to keep.

“I still have it,” he says, laughing. He laughs a lot. Louis likes that in a person. “Sometimes I double-check it, just to make sure.”

Louis laughs, delighted. Their food comes before he can reply and he digs in, humming happily when he takes the first bite. Across the table, Liam takes a bite as well and immediately sputters.

“Hot,” he says, taking a sip of his water. Louis laughs and nods.

“Harry dated this bloke that was half-Pakistani,” he says, remembering it fondly. He can do that now, of course, even though when they’d broken up it felt a bit like the world was ending. Zayn had been so angry and Harry was so hurt and Louis -- Well, Louis had little to no contact with Zayn, really, aside from eating the leftovers of his and Harry’s dates, but he was mad as well. Mad at Zayn for leaving and mad at him for making Harry sad. Mad at him for not even giving it a chance. He’s over that now, though. He just doesn’t want the same thing to happen here. “Changed my taste buds a bit, I think.”

Liam nods. “And Harry,” he says, trailing off. Louis doesn’t respond. There’s not much he can respond to, really. Liam hasn’t asked a question.

“You live with Harry?” he asks finally, brows drawn together.

Louis takes a deep breath. “Yeah.”

“Have you ever -- ” Liam waves a hand, his meaning clear.

“We’re -- He’s my boyfriend,” Louis says quickly, swallowing thickly. “Harry is. We’ve been dating for four years.”

Liam’s face falls, basically collapses in on itself and Louis feels horrible. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner,” he says, feeling guilty. “I just -- I really like you.”

Liam looks up at that. “So, what? I was just going to be your side piece?”

“What? No,” Louis protests, reaching over the table to grab Liam’s sleeve before he can go anywhere. “Liam, I swear. Harry -- he knows. He knows about you. It’s -- We’re different, he and I.”

“How’s that?” Liam looks curious, but still hesitant. Louis takes a deep breath, hoping he doesn’t scare him off.

“We’re non-exclusive,” he says, fiddling a bit with Liam’s sleeve. It’s easier than looking at his face. “We love each other very much, but that doesn’t mean we can’t love other people, you know?”

He looks up, praying that Liam doesn’t look disgusted or isn’t looking at him like he’s crazy. He doesn’t look like either of those things, thankfully. He still just looks curious, like he’s considering it.

“So if you and I dated,” Liam starts slowly, “We’d him?”

“No, I’d be dating him,” Louis corrects. “And I’d be dating you. Just, at the same time.”

Liam looks at him for a long, silent moment. “And if we fell in love?” he asks, so softly and gently that Louis’ heart lurches into his throat.

“We’d figure it out,” he answers, just as quietly. “It’s -- This thing isn’t like an experiment or something. We -- Harry and I know we love each other. We do. But we also know we could be in love with other people and still love each other just as much, I suppose. We’ll talk about it.” Louis laughs to himself, shaking his head before continuing, “I’ll probably go home and tell him all of this.”

Liam’s brows have drawn together again, and Louis drops his hand to the tabletop, where Liam’s rests.

“I’d want some things just for us,” Liam says, his fingertips tracing Louis’ knuckles. “If we -- I’d want some things just for us.”

Louis turns his hand, catching Liam’s fingers and twining them. “Of course,” he says, “We can work it out.”

Liam smiles at him, and hope bursts in Louis’ chest.


Liam walks him to the door, holding his hand and leaning in to kiss him on the cheek.

“I put my number in your mobile when you were in the loo,” he says, looking sheepishly down at the ground. Louis laughs, delighted at his bravery. Liam looks up, catching his gaze. “I’d really like it if you’d call me,” he says, “whenever you figure out what you need to figure out.”

“Yeah,” Louis says, nodding. He feels a bit dazed, like this all might be a dream. “Of course. Of course I will.”

Liam smiles again and, with a wave, walks across the street. Louis watches him the whole way, and then goes inside. He doesn’t stop smiling all night.


Harry’s gone on a business trip, and the moment he comes through the door two days later, Louis jumps him, wrapping his arms around him and clinging.

“Hi,” Harry says with a laugh, dropping his bags and hugging him back. They stand like that for a moment, holding each other and breathing, letting their bodies fall back into sync.

“Hi,” Louis says finally, tilting his head up to look at him. Harry smiles, wide and dazzling and leans down to kiss him. Louis gets a bit lost in it, the softness of his mouth and the gentle way he cradles Louis’ jaw making him shiver.

“Missed that,” he says when they pull apart.

“Yeah?” Harry asks, looking smug. “Good. Missed you too.”

And, God, Louis wants to talk to him about Liam, he really does, but he also wants to enjoy this for a little while. He feels like everything’s about to change, for better or for worse, and he wants this good moment before it does.

He sighs, presses his face into Harry’s chest and inhales.


“So, you went on a date with Liam,” Harry says later, while he’s cooking some chicken on the stove. Louis’ taken a seat on the work surface and has been watching him, content to just exist in the same space as him again. Bringing Liam into it makes Louis’ stomach flutter, but it’s not a bad feeling. Not entirely.

“Yeah,” he says. “It was brilliant. He was -- He’s so funny and sweet. And he -- I told him. About us.”

Harry turns to look at him, and eyebrow raised. “Yeah?” He looks nervous. They’ve had this exact conversation before, with the roles reversed. Louis knows how tense he must feel, how nerve-wracking it is wanting to know if someone approves of you. Even when you’re not the one being directly rejected, the knowledge that someone has some kind of problem with you doesn’t sit well.

Louis nods, smiles. “Yeah. He said, um,” Louis laughs, shaking his head. Harry tenses up more, but Louis keeps shaking his head. “No, no, he said that he’d -- That I should call him, when I’ve spoken with you.”

Harry’s shoulders actually slump with relief, and he drops the spatula he’s holding on the work surface and crosses to Louis, wrapping him up in a hug. “I’m happy for you, babe,” he says, kissing Louis’ forehead when he pulls away.

“Yeah,” Louis says softly, smiling like an idiot while Harry returns to the chicken. “Anyway, so we should probably like, make rules?”

That’s part of it. Each new person brings a new set of rules. Some people don’t care if Louis and Harry discuss them, other people -- like Liam apparently -- do.

“He said he’d like some things just for me and him,” he says, scratching at his neck. Harry shrugs, his back to Louis.

“Sounds fine,” he says, flipping the chicken over.

“Obviously I wouldn’t like -- Big things I’d tell you, yeah? If we kiss, if we fuck,” he says, biting down on a smile when Harry’s shoulders tense. Harry has a thing, Louis knows, about imagining Louis with other people. He likes the idea of watching, Louis thinks, or the idea of being in the room and being ignored. Louis’ never gotten to test it out, but maybe he can with Liam. If they ever get there.

Right. He shouldn’t get ahead of himself.

“No details, obviously,” he continues, shaking his head. “But general updates, probably. Limited contact for the first few weeks. Yeah?”

Harry glances at him, shrugs a shoulder. “Sounds fine. Really babe, whatever you want.”

Louis frowns. “I don’t want you to say that now and then get upset later when things happen.”

“I can deal with you having sex with another man, Louis,” he says, and Louis can tell from the tone that he’s rolling his eyes. Louis narrows his eyes.


“And if I fall in love with him?”

Harry turns to look at him at that, his arms falling by his sides. “Do you think you could?” It’s not something they’ve encountered before. None of Harry’s relationships had made it to that point, and this is Louis’ first. For all they boast that they could love two people at the same time, Louis isn’t really sure.

“I don’t know,” Louis says. “Maybe.”

Harry swallows visibly, nodding slowly. “Well,” he says, his voice rough. “I guess we’ll just talk about it when it happens. If it happens. Yeah?”

“Yeah,” Louis says quietly. “Suppose so.”

Harry turns around and finishes dinner. They don’t speak much the rest of the night, but they stay beside each other, as if to reinforce the fact that they loved each other first, no matter what. They’ll always love each other.


Louis calls Liam the next day, dialing the number nervously but pleased when Liam answers and doesn’t immediately hang up on him.

“Thought you might never call,” Liam says, sounding shy, and Louis could slap himself, honestly.

“‘Course I would have, even to break your heart. Harry was away, had to wait for him to get home, is all.”

“Oh,” Liam says, and then pauses. “So you’re not calling to break my heart, then?”

Louis smiles so wide it hurts. “I’m not,” he says, “So long as you don’t break mine.”

“Think I can manage that,” Liam says, and Louis feels giddy with it, stupidly excited. They make a date for the next night and hang up the phone, and Louis walks around the house floating on air.

“Went well?” Harry’s voice brings him back down to the ground. Not in a bad way, a sort of anchoring way. A good way.

“Yeah,” he says, and gives Harry a kiss on the head before heading up the stairs to their room.

He keeps seeing Liam, going on little dates after their second one. Sometimes they go for coffee, sometimes they go to the park or for a run or to play footie with a group of Liam’s friends. It’s nice, carefree and easy. Liam makes him laugh and loves a good prank, and seems eager to please Louis in any way he can. It means they get into a lot of trouble with one another -- the most memorable being when they get locked on a club roof and have to call for security to come and get them and get banned from the building -- but Louis loves it. It’s fun, and makes him happy. He’s never stressed when it comes to Liam.

Except when Liam asks him about Harry.

He’s still not quite sure how to reconcile the two relationships in his mind. He’s kept Harry in the loop of course, and done the same with Liam. He thought it might be unfair to sleep with Harry and not have Liam know about it, especially if he’s telling Harry if he sleeps with Liam. Liam had taken it in stride and said he’d expected as much and that had been that. Until Liam started asking to meet him.

“I mean, I just feel like I should know him,” he says, a few weeks into their relationship. Harry’s away on another trip, so Louis is spending the night with Liam for the first time. They haven’t had sex, and Louis is fairly certain they won’t tonight, but still. He gets lonely in the bed without Harry there, and it seems a waste when he’s got Liam. “He’s your partner, after all.”

“You’re my boyfriend,” Louis says, rolling his eyes. “You’re like -- I dunno. I feel like you’re not supposed to meet.”

“Only if you haven’t actually told him about me.” Liam frowns. “You have told him, right?”

Louis’ mouth drops open. “Of course I have! Christ, Liam.”

“Sorry,” Liam mumbles, shrugging. “Just making sure.”

“It’s fine,” Louis waves him off. “It’s just -- I dunno. I feel like if you two meet it’s like -- ”

“Too real?” Liam supplies, sounding too sad for Louis’ liking. Louis shakes his head, pokes Liam in the thigh with his foot to get him to look up.

“Not at all,” he says seriously. “It’s -- ” Louis takes a deep breath and lets it out, gathering his thoughts. “Every other time Harry’s done this, if it’s made it past the initial sort of ‘I have a boyfriend’ thing, people usually tap out once they meet the boyfriend. Or, me, but you’d be meeting Harry. Obviously.”

Liam frowns. “So what, you think I’ll handle it better if I’m only thinking about it in the abstract?”

Biting down on his lower lip, Louis shrugs. “I guess.”

“Louis,” Liam says, sounding slightly hurt. “I only -- I want to meet him so I can -- Because it’s so real for me. Because I like you so much, you know? I want to see all of you, know all of you, and he’s part of that. I want to meet him.”

Louis inhales a deep breath. He knows Liam’s serious about this because he is too. He knows they’re on the same page. It’s just -- “It’s scary,” he says, feeling dumb.

“You think it’s not terrifying for me?” Liam asks, but it’s not angry or defensive. It sounds like a genuine question. “It is. I’m always afraid you’ll ring me up and decide you’ve chosen him, or something. I know you won’t,” he says, before Louis can protest. “But I’m still scared of it.”

Louis takes a deep breath and leans over, resting his head on Liam’s shoulder. He’s broad and warm, comforting like Louis likes.

“Okay,” Louis mumbles into his jumper. “You can meet him.”

When he looks up Liam’s smiling bright enough to light a whole country.


Later that night, when they’re snuggled in Liam’s bed, Louis can’t sleep. He doesn’t know if it’s because he’s anxious about letting them meet or if it’s because he’s in a new bed, but he keeps shifting, trying to find a comfortable position.

Finally, Liam rolls over and throws an arm over him, presses his mouth to Louis’ ear. He sounds half-asleep when he speaks.

“Can’t sleep?” he asks, nosing into Louis’ hairline. It makes Louis shiver, the weight of Liam’s arm pinning him down making his nipples tighten up under his shirt and his stomach lurch with how much he likes it.

“No,” he murmurs, turning his head. Liam sleeps shirtless, and Louis can feel his smooth skin against his bare arm, wants nothing more than to touch him, kiss him, mark him up. Harry’s made it clear that it’s fine if they have sex, but Louis still wanted to discuss it with him beforehand. It’s hard to resist, though, and with Liam’s face so close to his it’s impossible to remember why it’s important to talk to Harry before. He can talk to him after. That’ll be fine.

Louis leans up pressing his mouth to Liam’s firmly, snaking an arm awkwardly up to pull Liam over as he rolls onto his back, spreading his legs so Liam’s bracketed between them.

“This okay?” he asks, sliding his hands up Liam’s chest, tweaking at his nipples and smiling when Liam shivers in response.

“It’s brilliant,” Liam says, and leans down to kiss him. It’s hard, desperate, more intense than any other time they’ve kissed. Sure, they’ve made out a few times on Liam’s couch and Louis’ gone home with more raging boners than he wants to think about, but still. This is different. Louis knows how this ends.

“Fuck,” he says, pulling away for a breath. He gets his hands on Liam’s hips, pulling them forward, grinding his own up when they meet. He can feel the girth of Liam pressing up hard against him and he wants it in him, he really does, but that’s definitely something he needs to discuss with Harry before he does it.

“Wanted this for so long,” Liam murmurs, leaning down to kiss Louis again, his hips still moving. He’s got a good rhythm going, his dick nudging up just right under Louis’ balls and making him arch his back. “You look so good all the time, you know that?” Liam continues, hands tugging Louis’ shirt up and off. “So fucking good all the time, Lou.”

Louis moans as Liam kisses down his chest, tangling a hand in his hair and tugging when Liam licks over his nipple. He does it again and sucks it into his mouth, working it until it’s a hard little point and Louis can’t stop making little whining noises as he grips at the sheets with his free hand.

“Can I suck you off?” Liam asks, cheeks flushed and chest heaving. Louis nearly whimpers, feels himself blurt out more precome as Liam licks his lips.

“Please,” he says, already imagining how good his mouth must be. “God, yes, please.”

Liam grins, pleased, and slides down Louis’ body, stopping to suck a mark low on Louis’ belly before peeling down his sleep pants and briefs. He wraps a hand around Louis’ dick and gives it a stroke, twisting around the head to collect the precome and use it to ease the slide. Louis grunts, opens his mouth to beg but Liam beats him to it. He pulls back the foreskin and gives the slit a little kitten lick before taking it into his mouth, the heat and suction so good that Louis’ hips lift off the bed, helpless.

“Fuck, oh fuck, Liam,” he says, winding his hand back in Liam’s hair. Liam makes a rumbly noise that goes straight through Louis’ dick and up his spine, making his hips jerk again. Liam doesn’t stop him, just looks up at Louis through his eyelashes and sucks harder.

Cursing under his breath, Louis holds Liam’s head in place and fucks his face, slowly at first, until he gets too close to his orgasm and can’t keep himself from fucking up hard into him. Liam takes it, closing his eyes and breathing hard through his nose.

“Fuck, Liam, I’m gonna -- I can’t,” Louis says, and Liam opens his eyes and nods, and Louis loses it, fucks in once, twice more before holding, coming hard down Liam’s throat. He leans back when he’s done, wincing as Liam pulls off. His mouth is bruised and swollen, even in the low light, and Louis can feel heat coming off his cheeks.

“C’mere,” he mumbles, pulling Liam up for a kiss and sneaking his hand down to wrap around Liam’s cock. It doesn’t take long, just a few quick jerks of Louis’ hand before Liam grunts against his mouth and curls in on himself as he comes all over Louis’ hand and belly.

“God,” he gasps when he’s done. He looks up at Louis and kisses him again, licking into his mouth like he wants a round two. “That was brilliant,” he pants.

“Wait ‘til you find out what my mouth can do,” Louis says, breathless and giddy. Liam groans and flops over onto his back.

“Give me a minute, and I will,” he says, and Louis laughs and snuggles into his side. It’s easy to fall asleep after that.


When Harry gets back from his trip, he takes one look at Louis, drops his bags and says, “You fucked him.”

He doesn’t sound mad, just like he’s stating a fact.

“I didn’t,” Louis says, “but I did suck his dick.”

Harry’s gaze goes dark as he shrugs out of his jacket. Louis’ chest flutters under the familiar gaze, glad he’s already on the couch when Harry stalks over to him.

“Yeah?” he asks, pulling the blanket off Louis’ lap and straddling him. Louis leans back into the cushions to look up at him. “You let him suck yours?”

Louis nods, licking his lips as Harry’s pupils dilate even more. “He’s got a gorgeous mouth, Harry, you know that? Soft, plush, like yours. Takes it almost as well.”

“Yeah?” Harry repeats, leaning down to get at Louis’ mouth. “What about his cock, huh? Big enough for you?”

Louis flushes as Harry grinds his hips down, feeling the length of him -- already half-hard, christ -- in his jeans.

“Plenty big,” Louis responds, unbuttoning Harry’s jeans and getting a hand in. “Don’t want to talk about it anymore, though. Wanna talk about you.”

Harry exhales a shaky breath and pumps his hips through Louis’ fist. He’s getting harder by the second, probably from imagining Louis and Liam together. It’s hot, Louis can’t deny that, but he’s not sure how Liam would feel about him talking about it, so he won’t. He’s plenty good at distracting Harry anyway.

“Missed you, you know that?” he says. It’s true, he did. Even when he has Liam he misses him, and it makes him feel awful and selfish for wanting both of them at the same time, but he does. God, he does. “Missed making you feel good.”

“Make me feel so good, Lou,” Harry mumbles, half-coherent and leaning down to kiss Louis deeply. It’s slow, thorough, and matches the rhythm of Louis’ hand on his prick. Until Harry bites at the corner of his mouth and Louis squeezes involuntarily, making Harry hiss and paw at Louis’ joggers with a giant hand.

“C’mon, c’mon you too,” he says, and gets Louis’ dick out, licking his hand impatiently to ease the slide. It’s just on the side of too dry but Louis likes it, moans with the burn and speeds up his hand on Harry’s cock.

They come like that; Harry in Louis’ lap, kissing him messily and wanking each other off. It’s a nice way to say hello, Louis thinks, even if Harry wipes his hand on the front of Louis shirt afterward.

“Fuck off,” he says, pushing at him. Harry grins and flops back on the couch, choosing to shimmy out of his jeans instead of pulling them back up.

“Missed you too,” Harry says, and Louis smiles at him.


Louis invites Liam to dinner the next week and spends the days until he comes over pacing nervously around the house. Harry takes to kissing him up against the walls to calm him down and it works for awhile until he gets nervous again and starts pacing.

Of course, he’s worrying for nothing, because Liam and Harry get along wonderfully. Louis supposes he should’ve foreseen that, because they both make terrible dad jokes and love a good pun, but he hadn’t and worried himself sick instead. It’s too late to change the past.

“I like him,” Harry says, as they watch Liam cross the street to his own house. “He appreciates a good joke.”

“He also insulted your hair and your dancing,” Louis says with a grin.

Harry’s grinning too when Louis looks over at him. “He did, yeah,” he says and claps a hand on Louis’ shoulder. “Think you picked a good one.”

Louis rolls his eyes and shoves Harry back in the door, secretly pleased that the world hasn’t ended.


After meeting Harry, Liam spends most, if not all of his free time with Louis at Louis and Harry’s. He doesn’t stay the night or anything -- he and Louis haven’t spent a night together since the first one, actually -- but he comes and watches films and has dinner and plays all the board games in their board game collection with them.

“I can’t believe you have Pokemon Masters,” Liam says one night as they set out the little pogs. It’s a Friday, and none of them have got work in the morning, so obviously they’re spending their time playing a game that takes a billion years to play. Harry had suggested RISK, but Louis always falls asleep when they play that, or ends up killing all of his people on purpose out of boredom.

“We’re something of board game connoisseurs,” Harry says, handing Liam a large glass of wine, and then handing one to Louis. Louis thanks him with a kiss that Liam watches with bright eyes, and maybe Louis should feel bad about it, about kissing Harry in front of him, but Liam hasn’t said or acted like he’s uncomfortable. And it’s not as if they have full on makeout sessions while Liam sits on the couch next to them. It’s fine. Louis always kisses Liam goodbye in front of Harry, too. Really, the only people who don’t kiss are Liam and Harry. It’s a shame, honestly.

“Ooooh, fancy word, did you go to university?” Liam asks, giving Harry a cheeky grin. Harry smiles, his cheek dimpling up and rolls his eyes fondly.

“‘Course not,” he says, “Learned everything I know from the telly and Louis.”

“Oh, so you must not know much,” Liam says, and Louis squawks, swatting at Liam.

“I will not be impugned in my own home,” he says, daintily sipping his wine. “You can both fuck off,” he adds, when they start laughing and won’t stop.

It devolves into a pog fight -- Harry and Liam teaming up on Louis and then Louis and Liam teaming up on Harry -- until the pogs are scattered around the room and Louis is certain they’re going to be finding them for months afterward.

“Well that’s a game wasted,” he says, folding up the board and putting it back in the box as Harry and Liam try to gather them up. “I’m pretty sure it’s an actual collector’s edition.”

“It has ‘Louis smells like butt’ scribbled on the lid,” Liam points out, dumping his pile of pieces into the container.

“That’s Lottie’s fault, innit,” he says with a sniff, and arranges the pieces so they’re not everywhere.

“A good woman, Lottie is,” Harry says, sticking his pieces in the little tray alongside Louis.

“You just like her because she showed you all of my embarrassing baby photos when you went home with me,” Louis grumbles, frowning when Harry laughs.

“What’s that?” Liam asks. He’s sat down in the armchair across from them, watching them clean up. He could help, the lazy sod.

“First time I went home for Christmas with him, Lottie pulls me in the door and shows me the baby album,” Harry tells him, nodding sagely when Liam bursts out laughing.

“She was only angry because I hadn’t told her about you,” Louis says, rolling his eyes. He thinks about it now, about trying to explain this to his mum and older sisters. I’ve got two boyfriends now, and they’re completely okay with it. He isn’t sure they’d understand.

“My sisters are always doing that,” Liam says. “Whenever I come home. Calling me terrible nicknames and reminding me I’m the baby.”

Louis laughs at how grumpy Liam looks. “I’d love to see that, actually.”

“Older sisters are the worst,” Harry says, fitting the lid back onto the game box. “I love Gemma, though. Wouldn’t trade her for the world.”

“That reminds me,” Louis says, pinching his side. “She wanted me to give you that and tell you to call her, twat.”

Harry pouts, rubs at his side and puts the box away. “Fine,” he says, “Suppose I should go do that.”

Louis makes a face at him as he goes, and then crosses to sit down in Liam’s lap.

“Hi,” he says, leaning his head on Liam’s shoulder. Liam’s arm comes around his waist, holding him close. They sit like that for a few minutes, the rumble of Harry’s voice barely audible through the thin walls and the comfort making Louis’ eyes slip closed.

“Did you mean it?” Liam asks quietly, nudging Louis’ head with his own. “When you said you’d like to meet my sisters?”

Louis sits up and turns, bringing a hand up to pull Liam’s face to his. He kisses him softly, and rests their foreheads together. “Of course I did, love,” he says, tracing Liam’s lips with his thumb. Liam looks at him, his eyes wide and shining and Louis knows what he’s going to say before he even opens his mouth.

“Lou,” he starts, but Louis kisses him quiet. He doesn’t know what he’d say if Liam says it aloud, doesn’t know if he could stand to see Liam sad because Louis isn’t sure that he could say it back.

“I know, love,” he says, “I know.”


Louis isn’t sure when it happens, but sometime when he isn’t looking, Liam and Harry become proper friends.

They’ve always gotten along and clearly enjoyed each other’s company, but Louis will come back from the loo to find them giggling over something on Harry’s phone or standing around in the kitchen and talking, sometimes standing too close to each other to really be considered friends. It keeps going like that, for one week and then another until one day Louis comes home from work and finds Liam up on a ladder, stringing multicolored Christmas lights around the edge Louis and Harry’s roof and Harry at the base of the ladder, holding on and staring blatantly at Liam’s arse.

“Good show, eh?” Louis says, coming up behind Harry and pinching him in the bum. Harry jumps and then turns around to grin at him, shameless. “Flirting with my boyfriend,” Louis says with a tsk, “That’s just not on, Styles.”

A weird expression crosses Harry’s face before he settles on a leer. “Maybe I want him for me, too,” he says, and it’s obviously meant to be a joke, but it makes the breath catch in Louis’ chest.

All three of them, together. God, Louis wants it.

“Don’t break your neck, Liam,” he calls up and steps away from Harry, into the house. Harry calls after him, but Louis doesn’t answer. He can’t, not yet.


Harry shuffles in a few hours later, stripping down to his pants and snuggling into bed with Louis.

“I sent Liam home,” he says, rolling onto his side facing Louis. His hand rests on the mattress between them, the space feeling like a gulf and Louis isn’t sure why. “Are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” Louis says, not looking up from his phone. He hears Harry sigh next to him, feels him scoot closer until the space between them is gone and Harry’s right up against his side, nosing into his hair. Louis tries not to react.

“I didn’t mean it,” Harry murmurs, pulling Louis’ shirt to the side and kissing up his shoulder. Louis’ eyes flutter closed at the touch, but he doesn’t respond. “What I said earlier, about Liam. I didn’t mean to overstep. He’s my friend, that’s it.”

“What if it wasn’t?” Louis says, surprising himself. He’s not actually planned on sharing his feelings about the whole thing, but Harry’s right there and Louis knows he’d never judge him for being honest. “What if -- what if I wanted that? Both of you.”

“You have both of us,” Harry says, a frown in his voice.

Louis shakes his head, finally looks at him. “No, I mean, together.” He touches the pad of his thumb to Harry’s scrunched up brow. “Both of you together.”

Harry’s eyebrows shoot up. “Like a threesome?”

“No,” Louis sighs, exasperated, frustrated at himself. “Well, yes, sort of, but like. I’m dating Liam and I’m dating you, but what if you and Liam were dating.”

“Instead of me and you or you and him?” Harry asks, and Louis nearly claps him on the forehead.

“Not instead of,” he says, “With. All of us, dating each other. The three of us.”

Harry’s quiet for a long moment, his expression tense and his eyes searching Louis’ face. “You’re serious?” Louis nods. Harry flops onto his back and lets out a puff of breath. He stares at the ceiling for a moment before looking over to Louis.

His voice is achingly hopeful when he says, “You think it could work?”

Louis presses his lips together against an onslaught of feelings, shrugs a shoulder. “Dunno,” he says, and it comes out raspy. “But I want it to. So much.”

Harry rubs a hand over his mouth. It’s something he does when he’s seriously considering his options, when he’s about to make a huge choice. He looks at Louis and nods.

“So do I,” he says, his voice breaking on it. Louis rolls over onto him, kisses him because he doesn’t know what else to do. Harry keeps murmuring, keeps repeating it over and over until Louis has kissed him quiet.

“Then we’ll try it,” Louis whispers, just as they fall asleep.


The next week, Liam comes over as usual, stays late as usual, but instead of walking him to the door, Louis sits on his lap on the couch and kisses him hard, much more intensely than he does when Harry’s still in the room. Usually.

“Louis?” Liam looks dazed when Louis pulls away, confused and also like he’d like to kiss Louis again and never stop. It sounds good to Louis, honestly.

“Thought you might want to stay,” Louis says, biting at the hinge of Liam’s jaw and grinding his hips down. Liam makes a strangled noise, like he wasn’t expecting it, and brings his hands around to grip Louis’ bum.

“I would like that,” Liam says, breath coming out heavy already. He glances behind Louis though, to the armchair where Harry must still be sitting. He wonders what Harry looks like, if his eyes have gone dark and if he’s been biting on his lips to keep quiet. God, he probably looks great, but Louis can’t think about it right now. “But, um. What about -- ”

“We thought,” Louis says, in between pressing kisses to his throat. “That maybe you would join us.” He looks up at Liam, puts a hand to the side of his face. His eyes have gone wide and he looks a bit scared, but not in an actually afraid sort of way. More like he’s overwhelmed and doesn’t know what to do. Like he doesn’t want to say the wrong thing.

“Um,” he says, and Louis shushes him. “You mean it?” Liam asks, tongue darting out to lick his lips.

“Yeah,” Louis whispers, holding his gaze. “‘Course I do, love.”

Liam’s brow furrows for a moment, and he seems to be thinking it over before he says, “This wasn’t like -- This hasn’t been your plan all along, right?” He sounds so sad, so afraid of the answer but also like he has to ask. Has to know for sure. “You didn’t start dating me just so I’d have a threesome?”

Louis’ mouth drops open and he hears a hurt gasp from behind him. Harry, probably, just as insulted that Liam would suggest it and just as shocked that he doesn’t know how much Louis likes him. Loves him, maybe.

“Of course not,” he says, and holds tighter to Liam’s face when he tries to turn away. “No, love, look at me.” He smiles when Liam does, tries his best to be sweet and reassuring and completely serious. “If you say no, it doesn’t affect how I feel about you. If all Hazza and I wanted from you were a threesome, we would’ve asked you that first day, you hear me?”

Liam nods and Louis loosens his grip, leaning forward to kiss him gently. “We both want you, you know. Whatever you’ll give us.”

“Yeah?” Liam asks, and his voice sounds like Harry’s had a few nights ago, heartbreakingly hopeful. “Both of you?”

“Both of us,” Harry says, making both Liam and Louis turn their heads toward him. Louis had been right, earlier. His eyes are dark and his mouth’s been bitten red, and there’s a high flush on his cheeks. Louis wants to kiss him, so he leans over and does, keeping one hand on Liam’s chest and one curled around Harry’s neck. It’s the best fucking feeling he can think of.

He pulls away and glances to Liam, who looks overwhelmed but not scared anymore, at least. “I can do that?” he asks, not looking away from Harry. “I can kiss you?”

Harry smiles, wide and full of relief and sinks forward, nearly knocking Louis off Liam’s lap in his haste to kiss him. He cradles Liam’s face in both his hands and kisses him deeply, thorough and hot like Louis knows he knows how. It’s amazing seeing it from this angle, seeing how their mouths move together and how Liam’s eyelashes flutter when he makes a noise and how his hands grab at Harry’s jeans, trying to pull him close.

“Okay,” Louis says, and repeats until they break apart. Liam looks scared for a moment, still holding onto Harry like Louis might take him away, but Louis only smiles and nods toward the stairs.

“This is probably better done in a bedroom,” he says, and laughs when Harry hooks an arm around his waist and hauls him up, and then helps Liam up.

“Let’s go then,” he says, pushing both of them forward. Louis takes it upon himself to take off his jumper and his shirt on the way, kicking off his shoes outside the bedroom door so by the time he gets in he’s only in his jeans and underwear. He catches Liam by the hips and pushes him back up against the wall, helping him out of his shirt and kissing him hard, tangling a hand in his hair. Liam moans and sinks into him, his hands coming around to Louis’ hips, tugging at the waistband of his jeans.

Louis feels a body behind his, one of Harry’s large hands sliding down his chest and into the jeans that Liam’s just opened. He moans as Harry wraps a hand around him, stroking him as Liam pulls his jeans off, going down on his knees to help Louis step out of them.

“Look at that,” Harry says, his voice gone low. It sends a shiver up Louis’ spine, just like always. “He looks so good down there, Lou.”

Louis looks down at Liam, nearly moans at the sight of him looking up through his eyelashes, his lips swollen and a flush on his cheeks. He traces a cheekbone with his fingertips, smiling when Liam closes his eyes and leans into the contact.

“Let’s show Hazza what that mouth can do, yeah Li?” he says, tapping Liam’s mouth until it falls open and Louis can guide his prick in. Harry’s breath catches as Louis pushes all the way in, using his hand in Liam’s hair to guide him how he wants.

“It’s so good, Harry,” Louis says, loud enough that he knows Liam can hear. “Fucking amazing. You think -- ah -- you think he’ll let you have a go next?” Louis looks over his shoulder at Harry, who’s looking down at Liam desperately. His hips grind into Louis’ at the same rhythm that Louis fucks into Liam’s mouth, and Louis would like nothing more than to see it, see Harry fucking into the wet heat and know exactly how good he feels.

Harry brings a hand up to twist Louis’ nipple, the unexpected sharp tug taking him to the edge quicker than he’d like. “Oh, fuck, Harry,” he moans, twisting his head around to catch Harry’s mouth, pulling away only to chant Liam’s name in a frantic whisper as Liam redoubles his efforts and makes him come.

Louis sags forward when he’s done, boneless and out of breath. Liam and Harry both maneuver him to the bed, setting him up on some pillows.

“You alright?” Harry asks, grinning at him even while his cock bulges obscenely in his briefs. He’s lost his jeans at some point, but Louis doesn’t know when that happened. Before he stood behind Louis, probably.

“Brilliant,” Louis says, smiling. He glances to Liam and then pulls him in for a kiss, muttering to him. “You were wonderful,” he says, kissing the side of his neck and opening his jeans with one hand. “So good, darling. Now let Harry take care of you, yeah? He’ll make it good, I promise.”

Liam looks across the bed to Harry and nods, leaning over Louis’ body to meet him in a kiss. It’s definitely not the worst thing Louis’ ever watched -- much better than any of the porn he’s suffered through -- but he’s afraid they might try to get each other off on top of him. He’s delicate and they’re both hulking. He couldn’t handle that.

As if he can read Louis’ mind, Harry pulls Liam over to his side of the bed and lays him down on his back, kissing his way down his chest and stomach. He tugs off Liam’s underwear and Louis winces in sympathy when Liam’s dick springs free, flushed and an angry red. He must be dying, Louis thinks. It won’t take him long.

Harry smirks up at the both of them before wrapping his hand around the base of Liam’s prick and taking it into his mouth. Liam curses when he does, the words sounding like they’re torn from him, and he doesn’t stop. He makes a small noise whenever Harry moves his hand and when he moves his mouth, and he nearly shouts when Harry does what’s probably that thing with his tongue that always makes Louis come, no matter how close or far he’d been from it before.

It doesn’t take much longer after that, especially when Harry takes Liam’s balls in his hand and starts to roll them, fingers brushing up against his taint and hole. Liam trembles as he comes, shaking even after Harry’s pulled off and Louis pets his hair.

Harry wipes his mouth with the back of his hand, and smiles down at the both of them.

“D’you need,” Liam half-asks, gesturing down toward Harry’s cock.

“Nah,” Harry says, shaking his head. “Came just from watching you, didn’t I?”

Liam lets out a weak laugh, like he can’t really believe it and leans back heavily against Louis. Harry slides off the bed -- probably to clean himself up, Louis assumes -- and Louis maneuvers Liam down next to him, brushing his hair away from his face where it’s fallen down.

“Hiya,” he says, with a gentle smile. “Alright?”

Liam nods, brings a hand up to caress Louis’ cheek. Louis leans into the touch for a moment, glad that he’s let himself have this and glad, more than anything, for both Harry and Liam letting him.

“Sleepy,” Liam mumbles, and Louis kisses his forehead.

“Go to sleep then, love,” he says, laughing softly as Liam nods and closes his eyes. He’s asleep before Harry comes out of the bathroom and gets back in the bed. He slips in on the other side of Liam, reaching a hand over to touch Louis.

“I love you,” he says, and Louis smiles, kisses his hand.

“I love you too,” he responds, looking from Harry and down to Liam’s sleeping form. “Both of you.”