A pebble hits Louis’s window.
He reluctantly picks himself up to peer out the window, sighing happily before he even sees a stupid mop of curls. Louis hurriedly channels his face into an unimpressed scowl before he opens the window, and another pebble hits him in the chest.
“You idiot -- what if you had thrown that any higher? You could’ve hit my eye.”
“I’d have kissed it better,” Harry grins, green eyes sparkling even brighter than Louis’s lawn. “Now are you going to throw down the ladder or what?”
“No I’m going to make you climb,” Louis sniffs. Of course he throws down the ladder, a dumb rope thing that he and Harry nicked from the set of a shitty school play. Harry pulls himself easily up the ladder then comes tumbling gracelessly through the window, making a loud thumping sound when he hits the floor.
“Shhh!” Louis hisses, leaning over Harry. “My father is right down the hall, you tit--”
Harry just grins lazily, yanking Louis down by the collar of his shirt to kiss him senseless. Louis laughs and falls into Harry’s lap in a messy, clumsy tangle of limbs, and Harry wraps a big hand around the back of Louis’s neck, stroking a thumb into the fine, baby hairs at the nape of his neck, digging a home for himself there to get Louis right where he wants him, kiss him just as he pleases. Louis makes a soft little sound in his mouth, hands coming up to knot themselves in Harry’s ridiculous curls, scattering blades of grass all over the floor.
“What were you doing -- playing football or something?” Louis breathes, pulling away a little to run his fingers through Harry’s hair, pulling out bits of grass. He tries not to purr or moan or something equally embarrassing under Louis’s playful ministrations.
“Maybe,” Harry grins lazily.
“But you’re terrible at football.” Louis pokes Harry in the chest, still straddling his lap, and Harry’s head nearly whacks into the sharp point of Louis’s windowsill.
“We can’t all be Steven Gerrards and Louis Tomlinsons.”
Louis doesn’t blush. He doesn’t. He just sighs happily, cuddling a little closer in Harry’s lap to press their foreheads together, lips brushing lightly against Harry’s. Harry bunches up the back of Louis’s thin t-shirt, realizing happily that the fabric feels familiar because it’s his.
He smiles against Louis’s mouth, teasing, “Nice shirt, Lou.”
Louis bites his jaw. “It’s really soft, okay, Styles, put your ego away--”
“No,” Harry smirks, hands roaming up and down the soft skin of Louis’s back under his shirt. Louis’s always so warm, skin sun-kissed and hot under Harry’s hands. “Not until you admit you just wanted to be reminded of me. You wanted my scent on you. You wanted everyone to know to you’re all mine--"
Louis’s eyes go soft for a second, swallowing, struck by the last bit of Harry’s teasing. He presses his lips to Harry’s cheek, breathing him in. His exhale is shaky. Harry’s hands go still on his back.
“Hey, Lou.” Harry’s voice is soft, thumbs gentle and reassuring where they press into the dimples at the small of Louis’s back.
Louis ducks his head to fit his nose into the crook of Harry’s neck, buried next to his Adam’s apple, and breathes in again. “Hey, Hazza,” he whispers.
Harry pulls Louis’s shirt back down, smoothing his hands down his back before taking Louis’s face in his hands and kissing him breathless. Harry’s tongue is deep and searching in his mouth, tangling with Louis’s until Louis is panting a little, shakiness forgotten.
“I love you. I love you a lot,” Harry whispers into the corner of his mouth. Louis’s heart clenches up in his chest, and he fists the front of Harry’s shirt.
“Harry,” he breathes, smiling helplessly. He wraps his arms around Harry’s neck and kisses Harry’s bottom lip, closing his eyes and sliding down to bury his face in Harry’s chest, exhaling happily. Harry tangles their fingers together and rests his cheek against the top of Louis’s head, lips nestled in his soft hair.
A brief, swooping glare of headlights dances across Louis’s wall, followed by the sound of a car horn. Louis tenses in Harry’s arms. “My dad.”
Harry sighs, letting his head fall back against the wall as Louis anxiously crawls out of his lap, scrambling around the room to tug the ladder back inside the window. He watches, tight-lipped, while Louis checks himself frantically in the mirror, tugging his shirt down and fixing his hair.
Louis hurries back to kneel in front of him to sort out Harry’s hair and adjust his clothes a bit. “There. Good. Okay. Er.” He stands up, searching around the room. His eyes land on something which he throws in Harry’s general direction. “See, there’s a book. We’re just studying, that’s all.”
“Lou, this isn’t a book, it’s the first season of One Tree Hill.”
Louis stomps over, snatching it out of Harry’s hands. “Give me that.”
Harry grabs Louis’s wrist as he’s pulling away, and yanks him back down for a kiss. Louis makes muffled angry sounds, but his hands come up to Harry’s hair anyways, yearning and needy. He shoves Harry away when he hears the front door open downstairs and makes Harry sit on the bed with a book in his lap while he arranges himself at his desk. When the door swings open, it looks like nothing more than a platonic study session.
“Oh,” Louis’s father says from the doorway. “Hello, Harry. I didn’t know you were coming over.” He shoots a look at Louis.
Louis’s father doesn’t like Harry. He has tattoos and he drives his fancy sports car too fast and he wears his pants too low and he’s a “bad influence,” which always makes Louis laugh because Harry gets much better grades than him. All their teachers love Harry Styles; in fact, they think it’s Louis who’s the rotten one. He’s loud in class, he never sits still, and he’s always the one they yell at, not Harry, when the two of them are caught talking in class. Harry always texts under his desk and writes crude things in text books and cracks dumb jokes under his breath, but somehow he always seems to get off clean. When Louis makes cheeky comments or does his stupid impressions or leaves dirty messages on the class calculators, he gets sent to detention and told off in front of the entire class. His father knows about Louis’s troublemaking habits, but he always assumes it’s Harry’s influence. He’s the only one who does. Even Harry’s parents barely pay attention to their son’s antics, but then Louis doesn’t think they pay much attention to anything.
“Hello, sir.” Harry smiles charmingly, flicking his hair to the side. He holds up the book in his lap. “We got a big test tomorrow.”
“Oh? What subject?” Louis’s father asks stiffly.
“Biology, dad. I’m crap at it.” Louis offers a self-deprecating laugh. “But Harry here’s really good. He’s been really helpful.”
Harry smiles when prompted. Louis’s dad narrows his eyes, smiling tightly. “Well, I’ll let you both get back to work, then. Let me know if you need anything.”
He shuts the door behind him. Harry arches an elegant eyebrow, lips folding in an attractive frown. Louis sighs dramatically, climbing out of his desk to flop next to Harry on the bed. “You’re a bad boy, Harry Styles. I mean that both in the sense that you are not a good boy, and that you’re an insufferable “bad boy” with your stupid tattoos and your stupid jacket and car and all the things that make my father raise his stupid, furry eyebrows. Why couldn’t have been a nice boy? Why can’t you wear polo shirts? Why can’t you be sensible and inoffensive like Liam? Why can’t you be --”
“A girl?” Harry finishes for him, a cheeky smile spreading insolently across his face.
Louis swallows, trying to pout. “That’s not--”
“Shh! Hush. Your mouth could be put to better uses. Especially after the way I just flexed my impressive actorly muscles on your behalf.”
“Hardly,” Louis sniffs.
“Well, I was no Louis Tomlinson,” Harry smiles, tugging Louis in by the belt loops. “Your Danny Zuko was positively legendary after all.” Louis’s attempts at pouting are failing miserably. Harry taps at Louis’s bottom lip. “Come on, Lou. Give us a smile.”
He tickles Louis’s side at an opportune moment, and Louis collapses into giggles. Harry takes advantage of his weakness, slipping his tongue into his mouth and petting down his sides. Louis struggles only briefly before melting into the kiss, flinging his arms around Harry’s neck, fingers curling into the hair at the back of his head.
There’s a thump from downstairs just as Harry utters the word. Louis freezes against him, fingers tightening in Harry’s hair, curling into him as if by instinct, and Harry is just glad that this time, the instinct is to stay and not to flee.
The Biology test goes well enough, even if Louis and Harry spent most of the class surreptitiously playing footsie with each other under their desks while Zayn hisses insults at them under his breath, exasperated with their obsession with each other.
After lunch, Louis finds Harry in the hallway, chatting up some pretty girl. He comes up behind him and pinches his side, wanting his jealousy to look like a joke, but feel like a warning, and Harry certainly feels it, winking at Louis in plain sight. The girl stares at them.
Later, Harry sneaks up behind Louis at his locker and whispers, “I like when you’re feisty.” Louis’s thankful the locker door’s wide enough to hide them, because Harry is pressed so close against him that if they were naked, his dick would be halfway up Louis’s arse.
“Are you trying to get me outed?” Louis says, trying to keep his voice level. Harry rests his chin on Louis’s shoulder, and Louis can’t help but inhale deeply, breathing in the smell of Harry’s cologne.
“Always,” Harry whispers, and the thing is, Louis knows he’s not entirely joking.
Louis is scared of his dad. He remembers that time he told his dad he wanted to try out for the musical. All the dishes rattled on the table. His father’s fist probably hurt afterwards. No one looked at anyone else for the rest of dinner, and Louis nearly spilt pasta all over his front because his hands wouldn’t stop shaking.
Harry isn’t scared of Louis’s dad. Harry might not be scared of anyone. He’s too privileged and too naive. Louis reckons no one’s ever told Harry about losing, but it’s one of the things he likes best about him.
He crawls into Harry’s bed one night, kisses the little padlock tattoo on his wrist that Harry put there for him and cuddles into Harry’s chest, nuzzling his head against his throat like a kitten, kissing the soft skin he finds there.
“Nothing to be sorry for,” Harry mumbles sleepily. Louis goes all soft and needy, pulling Harry’s limp, sleep-heavy arms tighter around his body. He wants to feel like he won’t be let go of.
“You’re mad at me, though. You wouldn’t look at me all day. Even Niall noticed, and Niall barely notices anything that isn’t Nandos or his fucking guitar.”
Harry doesn’t say anything.
“Harry, I don’t want to be shushed. I want to -- I want to make you not mad at me anymore,” Louis says quietly, and Harry opens his eyes, which are serious and maybe angry and mostly cold.
“You pushed me away at lunch today,” Harry mutters.
Louis felt awful about it of course, but how could Harry be so stupid? Still, he’s been shooting Harry anxious little puppy-dog eyes ever since, and Harry just ignored him.
“You...” he takes a deep, shuddering breath. “I thought you were going in to kiss me."
“Which would be so bad,” Harry says tonelessly. Louis flinches.
“Harry, I can’t -- why are you being like this? You can’t possibly not understand--” Louis swallows and looks down, fretting nervously with one of Harry’s necklaces. “My dad would kill me. You know that. Your parents -- they don’t care about--”
“Finish that sentence, Lou.”
Harry’s arm drops off Louis’s shoulder, and Louis panics. He rolls on top of him, fingers scrabbling for the lamp switch next to the bed before Harry can push him off. Harry blinks into the light, rubbing angrily at his eyes until Louis pushes his fingers away to take his face in both hands. The crease between Harry’s brow deepens, but he doesn’t push him away, just stares at him coldly until Louis says, “I wish so badly that I could be what you want. I’d give anything for you to be able to kiss me in the hallway whenever you please, or dance with me at parties and snog me in public and all those sappy, lovely things. But I can’t, at least not now, and I just wish you’d stop holding it against me because it’s not--” Louis takes a deep, gulping breath, voice pushing through the lump in his throat. “It’s not me, Harry, you know I’d give anything but my dad will -- he’ll --”
Harry pushes his lips into Louis’s hair and holds him close and tight and hushes him gently. He lets Louis cry and shake in his arms until he’s so exhausted that his eyes ache. “I’m sorry, Harry. I’m so sorry, I won’t push you away again, I swear, I won’t,” he babbles. “Please, don’t me mad at me,” Louis begs, throat sore from crying, fingers shy at Harry’s cheek. “Please, I’ll -- I’ll--”
Harry pinches Louis’s chin with two fingers and kisses him deeply, tongue slipping into his mouth. Louis knows that Harry’s awful at apologies -- they flutter clumsily around his tongue, but then he’s not used to them like Louis is, who says sorry so often it’s almost lost its meaning. Harry apologizes with his mouth instead, hands and lips running all over Louis’s fever-hot little body in apology, soothing and reassuring.
“You’re the one who should be mad at me. You could’ve done more than push me, to be honest. I shouldn’t put you on the spot like that, and I’m sorry, and I’m an arse, and I’m going to give you the best blowjob ever tomorrow when we’re not on the verge of passing out,” Harry finally whispers. Louis just makes this thin little whine, wrapping his arms around Harry’s neck and snuggling deep into his chest, as though he’s trying to carve a home for himself.
Harry always comes to Louis cold and leaves him warm. Louis is the sun and the light; he’s a sheet of gold and just as precious in Harry’s hands. Harry comes to him wanting to tear him apart, to crush him into the sheets until they don’t know who’s breath is whose and whose pulse is which.
“Don’t ever leave me.”
Harry doesn’t know why Louis says it. They had a good day at school, and a good day at home, but he remembers the way he had scowled at Louis when he didn’t want Harry to sit next to him at lunch, wary of the wrestling coach nearby, who is close friends with his father.
Now Louis is crying out against Harry’s shoulder, holding onto Harry’s neck as he pounds Louis into the sheets, the bed creaking against the wall, sheets kicked in a forgotten puddle on the floor. Harry is covering Louis completely, lips buried in his soft hair, hips jerking. Louis digs his nails into the nape of Harry’s neck, pleas coming up sharp and fast and incoherent, but among them Harry hears, “please, don’t ever ever leave me.”
But even now, what makes him say it?
Harry leans up, flips Louis onto his belly in one easy motion, and Louis slumps against the sheets with a bitten-off cry, wrists pinned to the bed in one of Harry’s huge hands. Harry sinks his teeth into the back of Louis’s neck, hips slowing. “I love you,” he whispers. “I’d never.” He listens to the hitch in Louis’s breath. He’s quieter now.
Harry hates Louis’s father, if only because there’s nothing more heartbreaking than seeing Louis afraid. There was a time when he thought Louis was utterly fearless: his brave, stupid, arrogant, beautiful boy. He’s still all of those things, of course, with the difference being that Harry now considers him even stronger, because he is capable of being those things despite the hulking, domineering hand of his father.
Louis has always been naturally rebellious. Not only did he perform in the musical in spite of his father’s raging, wall-punching, dish-breaking threats -- but he performed the lead part. When his sisters cried because they wanted to wear the same skimpy clothes as the other girls at school, Louis took them on a secret trip to the mall and paid for them himself with the meager handful of cash he made lawn-mowing and hamburger-flipping and cinema-sweeping. He bravely bared the ensuing screaming match with their father, who bellowed that they looked like they belonged on a street corner. When Zayn got kicked out for a few days after his parents found his cigarettes, Louis let him stay in his room right under his father’s nose who never suspected a thing.
Harry, however, is the rebellion of a lifetime. Louis has never done anything better or worse. Of course his father has no idea what the true nature of their relationship is -- if he had even the slightest inkling, Louis’d be on the streets, or dead, and that’s barely an exaggeration. Even still, he sneaks out to Harry’s every other night, knowing exactly what’s at stake. He makes a ladder to throw down his window so Harry can sneak up in the dead of the night, and they both get a sick, terrifying pleasure knowing Louis’s father is just down the hall, oblivious. Besides Harry, this small shared rebellion is practically the only thing that is keeping Louis sane.
Every time his father screams at him for forgetting to do the dishes, or for having a shitty day, or for getting a bad mark, Louis thinks, Harry slept in my bed last night, or, I didn’t do the dishes because I wasn’t fucking here, or simply, I have something you don’t. Sometimes he accidentally smiles, but the ringing in his ears is worth it.
“Louis! Can you tell me exactly what the fuck your sister’s doing in bed on a school day?”
His dad slams the door behind him when he walks into the kitchen. Louis’s washing dishes at the sink, and his shoulders seize up for only a moment before relaxing, channeling his face into a cheerful, innocent smile. “Oh. Didn’t you read my note? Fizzy’s sick. Got the flu.”
“Oi. Goddamnit. I told her not to leave without her damn coat! Shit. She been to the doctor then?”
“Yeah. Took her this morning,” Louis chirps.
“Oh. Er...” Shit. “Before school.”
“Doctor’s not open before school,” his dad grumbles.
Louis’s pulse jumps. Shit shit shit. “Right. Well I was a bit late to first period, but it was no problem at all, Miss Beam loves me, says I’m her star student, proper apple of her eye--”
Louis picks up another spoon to dry. “Er. Yes?”
“What did I say about missing another day?”
“Oh, you’ve misheard me!” Louis says brightly, swallowing carefully. “See, I said I only missed a bit of first period, not the whole day -- really not a big deal at all, not even a blemish on the old attendance record--”
“Which is abysmal. I got a call from your school a few days ago saying you’d already missed a dangerous amount of school. They said they’d suspend if you missed anymore. Did I hear wrong?” His dad asks tightly. Louis can feel the raise of his father’s eyebrows, the whitening of his knuckles, the anger sparking at his skin.
“No, Dad. No, but -- this wasn’t like that. I promise I won’t miss anymore, okay! God, those fucking attendance women are so uptight, they have no sense of humor--”
“Goddamnit, Louis! You can’t fucking joke your way out of everything!” His dad roars.
The fork slips from Louis’s fingers, clattering to the bottom of the sink. His dad’s like a dragon behind him, breathing heavyily. Louis imagines wisps of smoke curling from his nostrils.
“Dad, it was only for Fizz--” Louis starts quietly, but his dad pounds his fist against the counter.
“You’ll miss no more school! Do you hear me?”
Two hours later, he plays one of the best games of football he’s ever played in his life. He almost kisses Harry, right there on the field. Harry feels like a weapon in his hands. All he has to do is point him at his father, and Harry’d gladly go off on him. Or worse -- Harry would sweep Louis into his arms in plain view of Louis’ dad and kiss him senseless. To his father, it’d be worse than a bullet.
Harry can sympathize with Louis, but empathizing is something else.
His relationship with his parents is more ceremonial than anything else -- he looks good in a suit and he can charm the pants off of whoever they need to impress at dinner parties, business events, and so forth: The beautiful Styles family with their perfect children and immaculate home and their sparkling reputation.
Harry idly twirls the straw of his Captain and Coke, lazily smiling at the pretty daughter of one of his parents’ business associates. She gives him a wry smile, tipping her glass of champagne at him.
“These functions are useful for this, aren’t they?” She says, lifting her drink. “Don’t even need to bring my fake.”
Harry nods. She bites her lip rather longingly as he takes a long sip, throat bobbing attractively. “Who’re you with, then?” he asks.
“Oh, does it matter? I’m just a resume at this point.”
“4.0 GPA, Oxford-bound if you must ask,” Harry rattles off his spiel, winking at her. “And no girlfriend at the moment. Far too busy with my extracurriculars.”
“Honor Student. Cambridge, is there anything else?” She’s well-rehearsed. Harry raises his eyebrows, impressed as she continues. “‘I do ballet and sing, occasionally -- oh, I was Clara in this past season’s production of the Nutcracker and I’ve starred in every school musical since I was 11 -- but of course I never let my activities interfere with my studies. It’s good, right?”
Harry smiles, nodding. “Is it true?”
“Some of it,” she shrugs, peering at him coyly over the edge of her glass. “If you’d like to go somewhere a little less business-casual, I’m sure we could learn even more about each other.”
Harry’s hair falls into his eyes a bit. He leans against the wall, fingers tightening around his drink. It’s an attractive offer. He watches her eye the teasing sliver of tattoos just peaking out of his shirt collar. The top two buttons are missing, and of course it’s perfectly indecent, but none of his mother’s hungry middle-aged associates, or their pretty daughters, on that note, have ever complained.
“A girl who knows what she wants?” Harry mumbles, smirk skirting at the corner of his mouth. He openly gives her a thorough once-over, and she preens a little under his gaze. “I like it,” he admits, taking another sip of his drink. “Show me the way, my Cambridge-bound ballerina.”
She flicks an eyebrow. She probably didn’t think he was actually listening. It’s a clever trick Harry learned long ago from an older friend he had when he was 13 or so. It hasn’t failed him since -- but then, he can’t help but think wryly, neither have his curls or his charm or his face or any of his other gifts for that matter.
She gets down on her knees for him in the restaurant bathroom. It’s small, cramped, and suffocatingly elegant. Italian opera music plays from the corner, and Harry comes just as the singer wails the final note.
He could tell a hundred more stories like this. Bathroom conquests, hotel ballroom flirtations. Nannies he’s won over. A housemaid he fucked on his parent’s bed -- twice, actually. They barely ever took more than a flick of his hair, a lingering brush of fingers, a slow-voiced compliment, low and soft when no one else was listening.
And then there was what came after -- long, silent car rides with his hands folded neatly in his lap as his parents sat coldly in the front in their expensive, unwrinkled clothes. A huge, empty house. Harry has learned to cook for himself. He exercises obsessively. He has learned how to spend his parents’ moneys in ways that would ruffle their pretty feathers -- even if their disdain will only last for an hour or two before returning to a kind of indifferent fondness for his good looks and charm, despite the new tattoo or new leather jacket or new fancy addition Harry added to his sports car. His family probably loves him, but he doubts they understand him. Hell, he barely understands himself. He only ever fits in anywhere as a formality -- because he lookslike he should -- but he rarely ever meets anyone willing to look deeper than the novelties of his curly hair and his dimples and his wide, pretty smile.
He’d begun to go mad with the need for company. He is good at making friends -- the fast kind and the long-lasting kind. It is both a natural predilection and a learned skill. He’s popular wherever he goes, including the new school he transferred to when he was seventeen because of his father’s new job. He was afraid, for a moment, that he would lose the empire he’d built, but of course he simply built a new one, and all it took was a few smiles and hair flicks and a handful of charming words in the right direction. Not even the reigning golden boy, Mr. Football Star Louis Tomlinson himself, could resist the extensive charms of Harry Styles.
Harry remembers the first time he ever saw Louis Tomlinson.
Harry was sitting on the steps, fresh from Cheshire at a new school. He was the boy with the curls and the cheeky smile that all the girls were already gushing about. He had earbuds buried deep in his ears, hair whipping about in the wind, sleeves of his sweater pulled over his knuckles as he waited for his sister to come out and drive him home. His iPod was blasting N.W.A. He wanted to sound cool in case anyone could hear him.
A soccer ball rolled between his feet. Harry looked up.
He registered the boy in pieces -- winter blue eyes, sweet summery smile, golden cheeks and soft-looking hair plastered to his temples with sweat. There was a halo of sun in his hair.
“Hey, Curly!” The boy was looking right at him. Harry just blinked.
“Be a good lad and pass that back over here, yeah?”
Harry tousled his hair and stood up. The boy’s eyes followed the long stretch of his legs as they unbent to their full height. When he met Harry’s eyes again, he could swear he winked.
“You new, then?”
“Oi, damnit Tommo, come on, why d’you always have to have a fuckin’ chat--” One of his friends shouted, a dark-haired boy with tattoos littered all over his arms.
The boy came closer, ignoring his friend completely. A slow smile broke across Harry’s face.
“Yeah, just got here. I’m Harry. Harry Styles.”
“Think I’ve already seen your name scribbled in the girl’s bathroom, mate,” the boy said cheekily.
“Oh? And what were doing in the girl’s bathroom?” Harry returned easily. The boy’s eyes sparkled.
“Use your imagination,” He winked, eyes on Harry as he began to walk backwards towards his friends. Harry watched the way the sun draped over his skin like it couldn’t get enough of him.
“I don’t know your name!” Harry called after him.
“Trust me, spend any time at this school and you’ll find out soon enough!” He winked again, finally tearing his eyes away to get back to his friends. Harry’s stare lingered on the sway of his arse, his tiny waist and the jut of his shoulder blades.
His sister finally arrived, beckoning him to follow her to the parking lot. Harry searched out the golden boy and spotted his little brown head bobbing on the soccer field in the distance.
“Who are you looking at?” Gemma asked, starting the car. Harry swallowed, eyes flickering from the field and back down to his phone.
“I don’t know.”
At the end of his first week, a pretty girl in his Calculus class invited him to a party. He said yes, because if anything, his friend Nick would be there, even if there was no else he knew because this party mostly consisted of older kids.
He was sipping on his beer, trying very hard to look and feel relaxed when a voice asked behind him, “What are you doing at a Big Kid party, Curly?”
Harry turned around, fingers loose around the neck of his beer bottle. He smiled when he met Louis’s eyes, trying not to look as eager as he felt. Louis’s football mates were all crowded around a table behind them playing pong, but Louis had broken away completely in favor of talking to the new boy who had managed to wriggle his way into all the upperclassmen’s courses and parties.
“Was invited,” Harry shrugged, gesturing to the gaggle of beautiful girls wearing low-cut shirts and trying to pretend like they weren’t looking at Harry.
“You sly dog,” Louis said. He looked impressed. “Which bird are you after then?”
“Dunno yet. I don’t really know many of them to be honest. They just invited me.”
“But they’re all older.”
Harry shrugged. “I’m used to it.” He realized how arrogant that sounded and blushed furiously. He quickly amended, “I’ve always had older friends for some reason. Besides, I have Nick.”
“Ugh.” Louis didn’t even try to hide his displeasure.
“What’s wrong with Nick?”
“He’s just a twat.”
Harry looked down into his bottle, twisting the cap nervously between his fingers. He wasn’t sure where the bin was. “He’s a good mate,” he said quietly.
Louis’s tongue darted out to wet his lips, eyes flickering anxiously over Harry’s face. He felt bad suddenly. “Is he here?
“No. He left a while ago. Guess I should’ve gone along with him now that I think about it. Don’t really know anyone here.”
“Harry, what are you talking about?” Harry looked up. It was the first time Louis had called him by name. “You could be banging any girl in this room right now if you wanted. Go talk to one of them, they’re all gagging for it.”
Harry made brief eye contact with a short, pretty redhead who was pouring shots. She grinned at him, and he lifted his chin a bit, smile curling at his mouth.
He looked back at Louis, and wondered why he wasn’t chatting up a girl. Harry glanced down at Louis’s hands, playing with his plastic cup. He was so tan. Harry frowned.
“‘Cos I’m already talking to you,” he said. Louis laughed - cackled, really - head thrown back, hand on his stomach. Harry got the strange urge to steady him and put a hand on Louis’ little waist.
“Louis!” One of his mates shouted behind him. “Stop flirting and sub in for me won’t you? I’m far too drunk to carry on.”
Louis looked up at Harry. “You in, then?”
“‘Sure,” Harry shrugged.
They were friends after that. Harry was moved to Louis’s Literature class after he aced his first test and his teacher decided he needed something more challenging. He was nervous at first, because he’d be the youngest one and he didn’t want to get teased for it. The moment he stepped in the doorway, though, he saw Louis’s face light up and wave him over. Harry nodded to the professor, eyes flickering lazily over the students who were staring at him as though he’d arrived from another planet.
“How’d you get in here?” Louis hissed when Harry sat down, slapping Harry’s bicep. “I thought you were in the year below.”
Harry smiled a little bashfully. Louis’s friends were still staring at them. “Er. Dunno. My old teacher said I should move up.”
“You a genius or something?” a blonde boy with a thick Irish accent said.
“If I were a genius, d’you really think I’d be wasting my time at this shitty little hellhole they call a school?” Harry mumbled under his breath, staring at the teacher beneath his eyelashes.
Louis cackled at this -- laughing with this whole body, head thrown back, clapping his hands together, eyes crinkling at the corners. Harry couldn’t tear his eyes away from him. He needed to make him laugh like that again.
“You can say that again,” Louis said, elbowing his friend next to him -- the dark-haired one with the tattoos who was looking at Harry appraisingly. “This place could crumble to the ground at any second. Ol’ Zayn here nearly ripped the stall apart in the toilets last week when he and Perrie--”
Zayn clapped his hand over Louis’s mouth. “Shhh, Lou. There are children here.” He looked right at Harry. “How old are you, anyways?”
“Oh. Not so bad then. We’re all only a year older. Except for Lou here, he’s practically a senior citizen--”
Harry raised his eyebrows. His eyes glinted. “A senior citizen, eh?”
“I’m nineteen, you wanker,” Louis said loudly, pinching Zayn’s forearm.
“Got held back a year,” Zayn said, leaning in conspiratorially towards Harry, ignoring Louis’s punches at his arm.
“My mum says I’m special!” Louis huffed.
“Special indeed, Tomlinson, special indeed,” the teacher cut in, mouth twisted in a wry smile. Louis turned to face the front of the room, smiling brightly.
“Means I get automatic A’s, right, ma’am?”
She rolled her eyes.
“It means I get automatic A’s,” Louis said under his breath, winking at Harry.
Harry skipped the sexuality crisis. Louis didn’t.
Harry had the privilege of googling a bit of gay porn, having a nice hard wank, thinkingyes, yes this what I like, this is what I want, having a long good cry with his sister, who patiently explained to him that it was perfectly normal to like both boobs and dicks. He got a stupid tattoo, and he was done with it. If his parents knew, they never even mentioned it.
Louis had no one. His mum wouldn’t speak to him about it, his dad might actually hurt him if he knew, and his sisters were too young to confide in. His friends, he suspected, already knew, given the fact that his girlfriends never lasted more than a few weeks, and he treated them more like platonic drinking buddies than anything else. Nonetheless, he couldn’t quite bring himself to tell them. His parents couldn’t afford to give him his own computer, and there was no way in hell he was going to look up gay porn on the family desktop. Louis wanted to tell Harry himself (as the curly-haired little shit was the one to bring on the sexuality crisis in the first place), but quite frankly, Harry absolutely terrified him.
Harry, who had single-handedly uprooted every social hierarchy at their shitty little school with just a tousle of his curls, a lazy grin, a scandalous flash of tattoos, and a flirty wink. Harry, who helped Louis with his homework even though he was two years younger. Harry, who drove his sports car too fast, whose parents paid no attention to him, who inked himself with utter nonsense just because he could, who wore stupid t-shirts splattered with the names of bands Louis didn’t recognize, who wore his snapback sideways and still always managed to look more charming than douchey. Harry, who remembered his birthday. Harry, who turned down a Nick Grimshaw party in favor of cheering on Louis at his football game.
Harry, whose bulge was always so prominent in those ridiculously tight jeans he always insisted on. Harry, who had a dick. Harry, who didn’t have boobs and Harry, who was a boy.
Harry was a boy. He had muscles and a strong jaw and big hands and he was so rugged and gravelly-voiced and there was a dick in his pants because he was boy. A man, even.
Louis’s chair scraped across on the floor when he violently pushed himself away from his desk. Of course he chose to have his crisis in the middle of fucking class. He could feel everyone’s eyes on him when he muttered, “Loo, please?” to the teacher and nearly broke into a sprint before she even gave her response.
Harry found him curled up in the last toilet stall, fingers fisted tightly in his hair. His face was red, chest heaving in unbearable little hiccups that made him feel like his lungs were caving in, pushed painfully against his ribs. His hands were shaking. Harry crouched down next to him, quiet and careful as though Louis was some sort of fidgety woodland creature he was hunting. His fingers closed gently around Louis’s wrists and he pulled them away from his hair, which fell into childish little spikes, all fucked-up at the crown.
“Lou,” Harry said in that low, slow voice. Louis closed his eyes. He concentrated on breathing. On his father’s screaming voice, the spit that would fleck his cheeks if he told him. On the whispers and stares that would follow him if anyone knew -- whispers and stares that surely would get back to his father at one point or another.
Louis settled into a kind of compliant daze under Harry’s ministrations, letting him comb his hair back into some semblance of order, rub up and down his arms until he stopped shaking.
“What’s going on, man, what’s brought this on?” Harry asked gently. Louis wondered where he had learned to speak to people like that. Slow and comforting, patiently coaxing Louis back to the ground. He sounded worlds older than seventeen.
Louis didn’t like to have secrets. He was Louis Tomlinson -- responsible for being the life of the party, the school’s bright, sunny golden boy, always there for a laugh or a pickup game of football or a pong partner when you needed one. He had no business crying in the bathroom. He wanted to shake off this stupid secret, and Harry looked like just the person to give it to. Not only because he was the damn reason for it, but also because Louis could sense that there was something of a loner in Harry, that black-sheep something that felt just as alone and confused and strange as Louis did.
“Harry--” Louis started. His voice sounded scratchy and raw, breaking embarrassingly. Harry just brushed his thumb over Louis’s pulse, waiting. “If I tell you, please--” Louis finally looked up into Harry’s eyes. They stared back at him, huge and green and unassuming and Louis could kiss him, honestly, but he had to be careful about this, couldn’t just barge his way into things all brash and careless like he’s used to.
“Please. You have to promise not to tell anyone.” His breath hitched a little, and Harry nodded.
Louis was just a flash of red on the football field, moving faster than Harry’s eyes could process. The ball was merely a pawn. The second he had the opportunity, Louis’s leg shot high into the air, like cocking a gun, and the ball soared into the goal.
Everyone else was focused on the scoreboard. Harry was focused on the brief glimpse of thigh he got when Louis’s shorts slipped up his knee.
He got the goal. The stands were practically vibrating with cheers and stomping and screaming, and when Harry finally snapped out of his glassy-eyed daze, he was louder than all of them. He yelled Louis’s name even after his throat went sore, he cheered even when he knew he was making a fool of himself. Louis’s fist punched the air, beaming brighter than the sun, and his teammates piled on top of him, emerging moments later with Louis lifted onto their shoulders. Harry felt almost sick with pride. He screamed Louis’s name again and Louis looked straight at him and howled into the sky, arms lifted in the air, red-faced with his hair stuck to his forehead in curls. Harry’s cheeks hurt from smiling.
Zayn nudged Harry’s shoulder. “Hey, mate, you should ask for his autograph.” Harry punched his shoulder, blushing. Louis had been lowered back onto his feet now. He was laughing with Niall and Liam and his other teammates, but his eyes searched through the crowd for Harry again. Harry stared him down, and Louis just beamed back, twinkly-eyed and pink-cheeked and prettier than any boy had any right to be.
“You should tell him, Harry,” Zayn whispered. Harry tore his eyes from Louis with a painful swallow. Zayn’s eyes were dead-serious. He took Harry’s chin in his hands.
“Are you the big, fearless bad boy you pretend to be or not? C’mon, man. Live up to your tattoos.”
Harry bit back a smile, and Zayn nudged his shoulder again, ruffling his hair.
Harry’s eyes sought out Louis again. He was re-enacting the goal, falling to his knees dramatically before Niall and Liam piled on top of him, practically shrieking with laughter. Harry took a deep, shaky breath, watching the dip of his back, the obscene curve of his arse, the laugh lines around his eyes, and thought, there was something almost unfair about falling in love at seventeen. He’d barely found himself. How could he be expected to carry both of them?
Louis thought he was dramatic about falling in love, but he never disagreed. He just poked Harry’s cheek when he got into his earnest, serious little moods and buried his face in Harry’s shoulder, marveling in the unabashed way this seventeen-year old kid could say ‘I love you.’
In the hallways, nothing changed but the way they looked at each other. Harry was still whispered about everywhere he went - this beautiful, mysterious rich boy with his tattoos and his slow speech and the strange, intense way he stared at people, always somehow maintaining that effortless charm. Louis was still everyone’s favorite - the golden boy, the class clown, a hero on the football field and the life of the party, leading his little entourage with his loud laugh and silly pranks and infectious smile.
Now they walked down the hallways side-by-side, Harry’s hand huge and comforting on Louis’s shoulder, Louis’s steps bouncy and light next to Harry’s cool, slow gait. They whispered to each other nonstop in class, played dumb jokes on their teachers, and inspired a kind of worshipful following from the rest of their school. They were the golden duo. No one knew how deep their friendship really ran.
“Harry, you’re going to be so proud of me. I’ve done a marvelous thing. Prank of the century. Historians will write about this,” Louis whispered when Harry finally slid into his seat, a whole minute after the bell rang. No one dared comment on it, not even the teacher. “Just wait.”
Harry surreptitiously scooted his desk closer to Louis in the back of the class, leaning his head against the wall to stare at him, not even trying to hide his hunger. Louis mirrored him, wiggling his fingers so that Harry would hold his hand. Zayn snorted from the seat in front of them, rolling his eyes. He, Liam and Niall were the only ones who knew.
They swung their hands together until the teacher walked in. Harry and Louis leaned their heads together, watching her carefully as she walked to her computer, sat down, turned on the desktop screen, and promptly let out a shrill, echoing scream.
Louis couldn’t contain his cackle, slapping a hand over his mouth as he dissolved into laughter, sliding down in his seat.
“Tomlinson!” She shrieked. “You’re a menace to society. How do I get rid of this?” She demanded.
Louis wiped his cheeks. “Get rid of what, ma’am?” He asked as innocently as he could while still wiping tears of laughter off his cheeks.
“You bloody well know what!” She bellowed.
“You’ll have to show me. I’m afraid I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“The explicit, phallic display on my computer screen you psychotic little imp!” She screamed. Louis dissolved into laughter again.
“Ooh. ‘Imp.’ Nice literary allusion, ma’am,” Harry said, blinking innocently. The whole class laughed. Louis and Harry bumped fists.
“Tomlinson, please just get it off my screen,” she hissed, exasperated. Louis rose out of his seat with an innocent shrug and plopped down in her seat.
“I mean, I don’t know why it’s up to me of all people, but of course, if you insist. I think it’s a rather nice picture, though. Whoever did this has impeccable taste in pornography.”
“You’re about one snarky comment away from suspension, Louis,” the teacher snapped, tapping her foot. “I’d quit while you’re ahead.”
Louis made an affronted expression, but obliged. His classmates applauded him when he finally walked back to his seat, and he offered a little bow, secretly winking at Harry. Harry reached out and squeezed his knee when Louis finally sat down, leaning in close to whisper, “Ace prank, love. Definitely one for the history books.”
“Do I get a reward later?” Louis replied cheekily, turning his face ever-so-slightly to meet Harry’s eyes. Harry arched an eyebrow and Louis blinked innocently.
“You could get it now,” Harry whispered, his voice low and rumbling in Louis’s ear, hand inching up higher and higher on his thigh. Louis’s eyes darted around the room quickly to make sure no one was paying attention to them. He clenched his thighs together, breath coming up sharp when Harry’s thumb swiped quickly over his crotch, flicking at his zipper.
“You naughty boy,” Louis breathed, pink-cheeked. “Can’t you control yourself for even one second?”
“Never around you, Lou,” Harry said quietly. He gave Louis one last dark-eyed look from under his eyelashes before settling back in his seat, keeping his hand on Louis’s knee for the rest of class.
The thing was, neither of them really knew how gay sex worked. They knew they were so attracted to each other that it was sometimes painful, and they knew they liked kissing. They knew it was exciting when they felt their cocks brush together through their jeans, even if it took some getting used to.
Given Louis’s babysitting obligations to his sisters, their attempts to experiment sexually were usually confined to weird, often-interrupted snatches of time in Louis’s small, cramped, noisy house. Today, they were in Harry’s bed. His giant, massive bed in his giant, massive house that Louis still couldn’t quite get over. His parents were never home, so they could be as loud as they wanted to be.
“I still want to slide down the staircase on a mattress. Like in that movie,” Louis said, crawling into Harry’s lap and taking Harry’s face in his hands, thumb dragging experimentally over Harry’s bottom lip until it curved into a smile.
“What movie?” Harry asked, pulling Louis closer, a hand under his arse, squeezing with a cheeky grin when Louis’s mouth fell open. He took the opportunity to kiss him.
“You know, the princess one,” Louis gasped.
“What princess one?” Harry bit his lip.
“Oh, don’t act like you don’t know!” Louis slapped his arm.
Harry cocked his head. He looked like a puppy. Louis caved. “The Princess Diaries, you four-nippled tit!”
Harry collapsed back into his pillows, cackling loud and open-mouthed. Louis pouted at him, flicking one of Harry’s nipples. “Twat.”
“Says the boy who’s seen The Princess Diaries.”
“I have four little sisters!”
“Excuses, excuses,” Harry shook his head. Louis leaned down to nip at Harry’s jaw.
“Hey,” Harry said, quite seriously, taking Louis’s chin between his fingers. He gave Louis a quick peck on the mouth.
“Hey, what?” Louis teased, grinding his hips down.
“Hey, behave,” Harry said, deep and gravelly-voiced. He slid his other hand down Louis’s back, landing at his arse with a squeeze.
“Make me,” Louis whispered with an impish little grin, eyes sparkling. He leaned down and bit Harry’s neck, none-too-gently, and went to tickle his side at the same time. Harry was caught between giggling and squirming away from the pain. He settled for slapping Louis’s arse instead.
“Ow!” Louis cried out, affronted. “You hurt me! You’ll pay for that!”
Harry flipped Louis onto his back and climbed on top of him, pinning Louis’s wrists to the bed. “Will I, though?” he whispered, breath hot on Louis’s cheek.
Louis struggled under him, baring his teeth at Harry in a mock-growl. Harry rutted down into Louis, cock pressing hard against his hip. Louis went a bit still, flushing violently under Harry’s hot, heavy gaze.
“You’re not playing fair,” Louis whispered. His cock twitched against Harry, whose face broke into a slow, evil grin.
“I don’t think you want me to play fair, Tommo.”
Louis’s hands came up to yank at Harry’s curls, pulling Harry down for a hard, desperate kiss. His tongue curled up, flicking at the roof of Harry’s mouth, and Harry literally purred into his mouth, hips grinding against Louis’s. Harry braced his arms on either side of Louis’s head, biceps flexing in a way that made Louis’s cock twitch painfully in his jeans. Harry nudged Louis’s thighs open so he could settle between them, ducking his head down to lick into Louis’s mouth as their erections slid together.
Louis’s cock was achingly hard now, the friction of their cocks pressing together making him feel a bit light-headed, his cheeks hot and flushed. He gasped sharply, and Harry leaned back to look at him, curls hanging in his face, necklaces dangling down andbrushing against Louis’s chest.
“You alright, Lou?”
Louis nodded, cupping the back of Harry’s neck, steadying himself but not yanking down. He just needed a moment to catch his breath, and Harry let him, combing the sweaty hair off Louis’s forehead and dropping a kiss on the bridge of Louis’s nose.
“Want me to...?” Harry asked gently after a moment, pressing his palm to Louis’s bulge, applying just enough pressure. “Just with my hand.” He knew Louis was worried about doing anything too extravagant -- and if he was being perfectly honest with himself, so was he. Harry’s had sex with plenty of girls. Louis was all new territory. He wasn’t used to being inexperienced.
Louis nodded, swallowing. He looked up into Harry’s eyes, keening sweetly when Harry brushed his knuckles over his cheek. “Unzip me.”
Harry did as he was told, fumbling for the zipper while maintaining eye contact with Louis. His arm shook a little, strength waning at the lovely little cry Louis made when Harry’s hand finally made contact with his cock. Harry kept staring at him. He wanted to look down, wanted to see what his hand looked like on Louis’s dick, because he’d never even properly looked at Louis’s dick and he’d definitely never seen himself with another man, but he just couldn’t quite bear the thought of tearing his eyes away from Louis’s, big and blue under his, shining with pleading.
“Harry, touch me. Do something,” Louis said breathlessly, and Harry leaned down to kiss him just as his thumb brushed over the head. Louis’s hips shot upwards, begging for more. Harry gave Louis one last, bruising kiss before tearing his mouth away to lean back.
He finally got a good look at Louis’s cock. It was thick -- really fucking thick -- and quite terrifying, just for the simple fact that it was a cock in Harry’s hand that wasn’t his own. It was almost purple with blood, so hard that Harry was surprised Louis wasn’t begging more to be honest. He thought about leaning down to taste it, just one little kitten lick, but Louis was shaking like a leaf already and he thought he might actually catch flame if he did anything more than jerk him off. He put a calming hand on Louis’s belly, and Louis’s eyes flew open, wild and desperate. Harry closed his fist experimentally around Louis’s cock and pumped his hand once, twice, three times and that’s practically all it took before Louis spilled over his belly with a hoarse, bitten-off cry. He buried his face in the crook of his arm, sliding down the pillow with embarrassment. Harry ignored the angry, insistent pulsing of his own cock as he flung Louis’s arm away to take his face in both hands, kissing all over Louis’s pretty, swollen mouth and his flushed, pink cheeks.
“That was so embarrassing,” Louis moaned, covering up his face the minute he got the chance. He barely lasted a second before Harry peeled his hands away to kiss him again.
“I thought it was hot,” Harry said. Louis covered up his face again, peeking at Harry between his fingers. He blinked.
“You’re just saying that because you have to. It was embarrassing. It’s like I’m a 13-year old boy who’s just discovered what his penis is.”
“Give me a little more credit than that,” Harry whispered, pressing their foreheads together. Louis blushed.
“God. Okay. But to be honest you barely even had to do anything, it’s just the fact that it’s -- that it’s you--” Louis regretted saying this immediately, cheeks going even redder than they already were. It might have been worth it, though, for the huge, ridiculous, sappy smile Harry gave him in return.
They kissed for another long moment, tongues tangling together lazily until Harry accidentally brushed his erection against his hip, crotch pressing against the mess on Louis’s belly.
Louis went still. “Do you want me to--?” he murmured into the corner of Harry’s mouth.
“You don’t have to, Lou.”
Louis looked determined, eyebrows drawn as he shimmied his hand between their bodies. Harry tensed up when he felt Louis’s hand press against his bulge, still locked tight beneath the intense friction of his jeans, hard and leaking. Louis squeezed a little, and Harry let out a low, punched-out moan.
“Feels like...feels like you’re really big, Hazza,” Louis whispered, lips brushing teasingly against Harry’s skin. He squeezed again. “Can you get off like this?”
“Press a little harder,” Harry gasped, and Louis did, fondling him a little lower until he could feel the press of Harry’s balls, huge and heavy in his jeans.
Harry gave up trying to hold himself up, falling on top of Louis and burying his face in his neck, leaving hot, open-mouthed kisses as Louis continued to handle him through his jeans.
“Unbutton me,” Harry panted. “I want to feel you.”
Louis’s breath came out shaky by Harry’s ear, and he fumbled at the zipper, sliding his hand in with a gasp. Harry’s dick felt so much different than his own -- a bit more slender but so fucking long. Absurdly, ridiculously long. Pornstar long. It was so hot in his hand, blurting out little drops of precome over Louis’s fingers.
“Go on, Lou,” Harry said, rising up on his elbows so he could look into Louis’s eyes. Louis nodded, teeth scraping over his bottom lip, and gave Harry’s dick an experimental squeeze, marveling in the way it twitched under his administrations. He slid his hand around the base and began to pump up and down, thumb pressing hard under the head, because that was a spot that had always worked for Louis himself. It had to be working for Harry too, because he shot into Louis’s hand, hips stuttering, teeth sinking into Louis’s neck as Louis jerked him through his orgasm, laughing a little into Harry’s curls. Harry pushed himself up to kiss Louis messily, their teeth clashing together, both their cheeks bright with giddiness. Louis dissolved into happy giggles, burying his nose in Harry’s neck, pressing a messy kiss under his jaw.
“Mmmm,” Louis purred. Harry’s skin was soft under his cheek. “I liked that. That was good. Your cock is really big. And, like. Your hands are nice.” He giggled again. Harry kissed the laugh lines at the corner of his eye, looking down at Louis with amusement.
“I like you too, Lou.”
Louis sighed happily, closing his eyes. Harry didn’t bother to clean himself up yet. He rather enjoyed being covered in Louis.
Louis has had sex with one girl before Harry. He didn’t know her name. He’d been pushed into a bedroom at a party by his mates after they won their first championship, and she was already in there, like some sort of prize. He was so drunk that he let her do whatever she wanted, peel off his clothes and kiss his neck and slide down onto his lap. She took his virginity and there wasn’t much to say afterwards other than “thanks.”
He was grateful she was hot. But he didn’t say that
Harry has had sex with lots of girls. It didn’t intimidate Louis, not really. Besides, now they were on even ground. Neither had ever fucked another boy before, and Louis somehow felt safer with the knowledge that Harry was learning at the same speed that he was.
“So I stole Zayn’s fancy phone today to google some things,” Louis said one afternoon, plopping down into Harry’s lap. They were sitting in Harry’s big, empty living room, midday sun streaming brightly onto the couch they were sprawled on.
“What kinds of things?” Harry asked, flipping idly through his history textbook. Louis shut it and pushed it away from Harry so he couldn’t be distracted.
“More important things to do, Harold. We don’t have time for silly homework. Our homework is learning how to have gay sex.”
“I thought you said you were nervous,” Harry asks, brow furrowing cutely.
Louis pats Harry’s cheek patiently. “Well, yeah, I’m a bit nervous. But I’ve still got a dick that needs attending to, haven’t I?”
Harry blushed. “Erm. Okay, Mr. Tomlinson.”
“Harry, it’s too early for your kinky student/teacher fantasies. We have to start small.”
Harry pinched Louis’s side, but nodded. “Alright, like what...blowjobs? Fucking?”
“I mean gay blowjobs are still just blowjobs. Duh, Harry. But fucking is a bit trickier. That’s where our dear old friend Google comes in,” Louis said.
“Louis. Come on. You know how men have sex.”
“Yeah, but! I dunno all the sordid details!”
“Well, Louis, it goes like this...” Harry demonstrated rudely with his hands, making a fist and entering it with his index finger.
Louis slapped his thigh. “Have you ever actually tried to put something up there, though?”
“No. Have you?” Harry asked, staring at Louis curiously, a slow smile spreading across his face when Louis went pink.
“I dunno! Maybe! Stop looking at me like that. Nosy little pervert,” Louis sniffed.
“You’re blushing!” Louis retorted lamely, pouting when Harry pet his side.
“Aw, it’s alright, Boo. Nothing wrong with a little curiosity. What’d it feel like?”
Louis squirmed, frowning, avoiding Harry’s eyes. “Weird. But. Nice, also? It kind of hurt but I found lube in my parent’s cabinet, which I’m still trying not to think about to be honest--”
“Well. If you want, you could fuck me when we do it, if you’re afraid of it hurting.”
“I’m not afraid of it hurting! Jesus, Harry, why do you always want to treat me like I’m a twelve-year-old girl? I’m a man! A gay man. A gay man who is supposed to like having things up his arse. Let me have this.”
Harry swept his nose up Louis’s cheek, smiling fondly. “Just because you’re gay doesn’t mean-- oh, never mind.” Louis blinked at him, and Harry kissed his neck. “Whatever you want.”
Louis took a deep breath, squirming a little deeper into Harry’s lap. He wondered if he’d ever get used to Harry’s particular brand of earnest. His heart stuttered a little, staring down into Harry’s eyes and before he realized it, he was saying, “I want to know what it feels like. To -- you know. Have you in me and all that.”
Harry’s heart shot up to his throat, and he closed his eyes to steady himself a bit. Louis sighed all warm and happy, tucking his head under Harry’s chin. He felt Harry’s heart race under his cheek and tangled their fingers together.
“I want that a lot,” Harry breathed, when he finally found his voice again.
“Harry, this feels weird.”
It was after Louis’s game when they finally had sex, the last game of the season. Louis had scored the winning goal, and when Harry had scooped him into his arms and lifted him high into the air after the whole crowd stormed the field, he’d been careful not to kiss him. Everyone’s eyes had been on them, celebrating, watching, congratulating. Louis had brought his lips to Harry’s ear and whispered, “I’m ready, let’s do it tonight,” and it had taken every inch of Harry’s self-restraint not to fuck him on the field right then and there, sweaty soccer kit hitched up around his hot little body, screaming Harry’s name into the stands.
Instead, he was now propped up against his headboard with Louis sprawled across his lap, leaning back against Harry’s chest. Louis had coyly presented him with a little bottle of lube and a box of condoms and said, “Now give me my proper reward. I won the game for us, after all.”
Harry smiled and Louis did a little strip tease and Harry remembered thinking he spent so much time watching, because in school it was almost the only thing he was allowed to do, and even at home, in the privacy of their bedrooms, Harry was so drunk on Louis’s face and body and everything that he just fell into a daze without realizing it. Even when Louis was right there under him, Harry couldn’t help but stare, drinking him in. Louis would blush and tease him for it but he absolutely glowed under the attention. Louis needed that kind of reverence, that unabashed love.
Harry always noticed him. He imagined that was all Louis ever wanted, really.
So he laid on Harry’s chest and let Harry reach between his legs and open him up. There were smears of lube all over the sheets, because Harry had overcompensated, but he didn’t want to hurt Louis. Louis stretched an arm around Harry’s shoulder, squirming back against Harry’s chest as he spread his thighs apart on Harry’s lap. They watched Harry’s fingers together, wide-eyed and curious.
“Weird? Like bad weird?” Harry asked.
“No, I don’t think so...”
“You know, you could always do it to me instead...”
“Don’t want to. I’ve done enough fucking googling about my damn prostate this week, so I’d better get to feel it.”
Harry pushed his lips into Louis’s hair and squeezed another finger alongside the other two, and Louis turned to hide his face in Harry’s neck. He bit down on his noises, but Harry heard the little whimper in the back of his throat. Louis squirmed in his lap when Harry curled his fingers up, brushing against something that made Louis tighten his fingers in the back of Harry’s hair, shuddering violently with a weak cry, hidden against Harry’s neck.
“That’s it, do that again,” Louis begged. Harry pushed his fingers up, curling at the knuckle, and Louis’s whole body trembled. He let out a shaky exhale.
“Alright, put your dick in me then,” Louis urged after he caught his breath. Harry smiled at him, all close and warm and lovely, laying Louis down on his back and spreading his legs wide for Harry to settle between.
“Where’d you put the condoms?”
Louis rolled his eyes and heaved himself up, fingers fumbling around the nightstand until he finally found one, tearing open the foil and waving impatiently for Harry to lean back so he could roll it on. Harry’s mouth curled with amusement, and he sat back on his heels between Louis’s legs and watched as Louis’s usually quick, careful fingers shook a little as he put it on, not even bothering to be sexy about it, too shaken with nerves. Harry’s took Louis’s face in one hand, holding his jaw, and tilted his head up for a kiss, coaxing Louis’s mouth open in a long, deep kiss. He was obsessed with kissing Louis, loved the way his sweet little mouth tasted under his own, his quick, teasing little tongue and the needy way he threaded his hands in Harry’s hair.
He lowered Louis down to the bed, still kissing him, stroking over his pulse until it finally slowed to a calm, slow hum. “Pass me the lube, Lou,” he whispered. Louis swallowed and grabbed for the lube, pushing it into Harry’s hand, and then settled back into the pillows with his eyes closed and waiting, eyelashes resting against his cheek. Harry slicked up his cock and his fingers. Louis was still open from before, but he wanted to ease him into it. He tucked two fingers inside again and listened to Louis’s quick intake of breath.
Louis nodded, teeth sinking into his own bottom lip, peeking at Harry from between his fingers. He let out a shaky breath. “Harry,” he whispered. “Hazza, please.”
“You think you’re ready for me now?” Harry asked patiently, peeling Louis’s hands away from his face. He wanted to see all of him. Louis nodded, and he looked sovulnerable, his beautiful, lovely Louis, all big blue eyes and soft hair, falling sweetly across his forehead. Harry combed it back and leaned down, nestling in between Louis’s legs until his cock was right there. Harry took hold of the base and pushed inside ever-so-slowly, bringing his mouth to Louis’s so he could swallow his noises when the tip finally made it inside.
“Breathe,” Harry coaxed, and Louis nodded. Harry pressed their foreheads together, felt the brush of Louis’s eyelashes when he squeezed his eyes shut as Harry continued to push in. He did it in one, long stroke, cooing sweet things to Louis, kissing his nose and his cheeks and his mouth. He ran his fingers through his hair when he was completely inside, listening to Louis’s quick, shaky breathing.
Louis could probably do this for the rest of his life.
“What’s it feel like? Are you alright?” Harry asked.
Louis could only nod, threading needy fingers through the back of Harry’s hair. “Yeah. Yeah -- just. Move.”
Harry bit his lip and pulled out again, and Louis gasped with a breathless, punched-out little moan. Harry combed the sweaty hair off Louis’s forehead. Their lips almost touched, but not quite, breath mingling together as Harry tried to build a comfortable rhythm, urged on by Louis’s needy fingers in his hair. He pushed in, much harder than he had before, and Louis cried out, heels digging into Harry’s arse.
“Do that -- do that again--” Louis said, tilting his head back so Harry’s teeth could scrape along his throat. Harry’s abs clenched up, and he rolled his hips into Louis’s body at a new angle, brushing against something that made Louis’s entire body seize up, shuddering with pleasure.
“Oh,” Louis commented lightly. “That’ll be the prostate, then.”
Harry laughed, low and rumbling against his neck. He came up to slap a loud, wet kiss on Louis’s mouth, eyes sparkling. He thrusted again. “Did I get it?”
“Yes, yes, dear, now just keep doing it--” Louis nodded. Harry rocked his hips a little harder. “Ah, yes, love, that’s the idea -- more --” Louis moaned. “More of that.”
Harry landed another messy kiss at one corner of his mouth, then at the other corner, then at his chin, his cheekbones, the bridge of his nose. He stretched Louis’s arms above his head and pinned them together, rising up a little so Louis had to move a bit on his own to keep up with him. The angle was even better like this, and Louis was just starting to get used to it when Harry promptly flipped him on his stomach. Louis landed with an ‘oof’ and a disgruntled look over his shoulder before Harry leaned over to kiss him quiet, hands rough on his arse as he pushed forward again. Louis’s protests died on his lips as Harry began fucking into him with earnest once more, the pressure on his prostate relentless, as well as the fullness of Harry’s cock inside him, which felt huge and perfect and he would definitely be sore the next day, but a good sore, surely. Yes, this angle would do just fine.
“Harry,” Louis panted. Harry drove into him, hips snapping. With his arse tilted high into the air, he could only imagine how wrecked and wanton he must look: spine bent into an obscene curve, glistening with sweat, marked-up all over with a swollen red mouth, baring his neck for Harry to suck more bruises into while he was being fucked. Harry planted one hand in the small of his back, holding himself still so the tip of his cock was only barely nudged against Louis’s prostate, and he cried at the brutal ache-pleasure of it, shivering against the pillow while he waited for Harry to move again.
“Harry, please, please please please--”
Harry swallowed, staring down at the mess he’d made of his boy, tears smeared at the corner of his eye, little fists scrunched up in the sheets, lips wet, cheeks red and feverish. He felt drunk and energized all once -- positively achy with the power he had over the boy beneath him, the knowledge that he could wreck someone so utterly, but at the same time feel so filled up with love, inflated with invincibility. He would do anything Louis asked of him.
“Please what, Louis?”
“Please can I come, Harry? Please, just touch me, god--” Louis’s voice broke, and he closed his eyes against the pressure and pleasure slinking down his spine so intensely that it was almost uncomfortable, a feeling so good it hurt.
Harry leaned down to brush his lips against Louis’s cheek when he reached beneath him to grab his cock. Louis flinched under him, eyes flying open, bright and blue and red-rimmed. Harry only had to pump him a few times, flicking his nail under the head and Louis was sobbing, coming all over Harry’s hand with pitiful little jolts of his hips, knees giving in, whimpering absolute nonsense into the corner of Harry’s mouth. Harry kissed him through it, stroking his hair and whispering sweet, reassuring things, warm body stretched out on top of Louis. Harry came just a handful of second after, moaning roughly into Louis’s neck, teeth dragging along his skin.
It took a few minutes for their breathing to stop rattling.
“Prostates...prostates are great. Google won this round. Why have I never done that before?” Louis demanded, pinching the skin at Harry’s wrist.
Harry dropped a kiss into Louis’s hair, sleepy eyes drifting closed. “Dunno, Lou,” he mumbled, slow voice gone all deep and sexy and soothing like it did when he was exhausted.
“You’re such a boy,” Louis complained.
“How are you not tired?” Harry moaned, rolling onto his back and tugging Louis onto his chest, wrapping his arms around him like a monkey. “Feels like I just ran a marathon.”
“Easy for you to say, all you had to do was lie there and take it,” Harry mumbled, cheeky smile teasing at the corner of his mouth. He peeked open one eye and saw Louis gaping at him indignantly.
“You’re terrible. I shouldn’t put up with such blasphemous treason against my person. I’m a respectable gentleman.”
“Shhhhhhhh,” Harry covered up Louis’s face with one of his giant caveman hands. Louis bit his finger but acquiesced, snuggling into Harry’s chest with a purr that he would adamantly deny making when pressed. Harry stroked his hair back, and Louis kissed Harry’s bare chest.
“Thank you,” Louis whispered, so quietly it was like he didn’t actually want Harry to hear him. Harry opened his eyes and stared at Louis’s face, frowning. Wind lifted the curtains a bit, and Harry shivered, pulling Louis’s warm body even closer to his own.
“Louis, there’s a party at Perrie’s this weekend--” Harry said idly a week later, fiddling with his phone.
“Let’s not go,” Louis cut him off. Harry’s lips spread into a slow smile.
“Let’s go to yours and bake cookies and watch a dumb film. You can fuck me on your mum’s kitchen counter.”
Harry pulled Louis down into his lap and kissed him senseless.
“I’m hungry,” Louis said bluntly when Harry pulled away.
“Oh, Louis, you’re so romantic!” Harry said, all breathy and girly, which sounded absolutely obscene in his deep voice.
“Bring me food.”
“Bring me food, slut.”
“No, I’m hungry.” Louis pouted. He put Harry’s hand on his tummy. “See? Growling. You’ve made it angry. You’re denying me basic sustenance.”
“I thought I was your boyfriend not your mother?”
“You serve both purposes. Now make me food.”
“Bossy bitch,” Harry said without bite, sliding out of bed and to the kitchen, flicking Louis off from the doorway. Louis settled back into the pillows, barely able to contain his grin.
Harry made them breakfast for dinner -- big mountainous stacks of pancakes, piled with syrup and butter with bacon on the side and even stupid little strawberries because he was a domestic Martha Stewart bitch like that.
“I feel like we just got a glimpse of the future,” Louis mumbled later, head pillowed on Harry’s chest with the covers pulled tight around his shoulders. Harry’s house was always so cold, but his sheets were expensive and soft, and his parents didn’t bother them and altogether it still beat out Louis’s small, cramped bed in his small, loud house and the anxious sick feeling in his stomach that rose every time the floorboards creaked or his dad’s voice boomed too loud.
“Harry?” Louis whispered, head pillowed on Harry’s chest. “My mum could barely meet my eyes at dinner.”
They had the window open just a crack, because Louis’s house was stifling hot sometimes and they didn’t have the money for more than one creaky old fan per bedroom. Wind whistled through the room, lifting Louis’s hair until Harry smoothed it back down. There was a wash of moonlight cast over their naked bodies, their limbs draped loosely in Louis’s sheets. Despite the deep ache of exhaustion, neither of them wanted to close their eyes. They would rather look at each other.
“We should’ve just gone to my house. My parents are never home. And if even if they were I doubt they’d even notice I was there.”
“But my sisters--” Louis started until Harry tucked two fingers under Louis’s chin to tilt his head up for a kiss.
“Maybe you should tell your sisters.”
“I don’t think they’d get it. Or...I dunno. They might tell mum and dad. Not on purpose, but -- accidentally--”
Harry was silent, thumb stroking over the silky skin at the nape of Louis’s neck, knuckles brushing gently over his bare shoulder.
Louis took a deep breath. He didn’t know how Harry could be so calm about this. “Mum must’ve heard us after school -- babe, we’ve got to be quieter--” Louis insisted. His naked chest was pressed against Harry’s side. Harry could feel his heartbeat quicken with every creak in the house, ever step in the hallway, every raised voice from downstairs.
“Let’s go to mine this weekend,” Harry said softly. “Please? Zayn or Liam or Niall, or hell, all of them can watch the girls for you. You know they’d be up for it. Lou?”
Harry slid his hand down the smooth skin of Louis’s back, pulling him in close by the waist. There was not an inch of either of them that wasn’t touching. Louis slid his foot in between Harry’s legs, toes cold between his calves. He exhaled a long, shaky sigh into Harry’s neck, closing his eyes when Harry’s hand came to rest on his arse, tugging him impossibly closer. Harry pressed warm lips to Louis’s temple, and Louis hid his face in Harry’s neck, breathed him in, and nodded.
“I’ll tell them tomorrow,” Harry whispered.
Louis nodded again and snuggled even closer, offering more of himself for Harry to hold, fingers tight on Harry’s bicep, as if he needed it to anchor himself.
The Lit final was hard. All Louis wanted was to bury himself under Harry’s blankets with a mug of hot chocolate and a queue full of nostalgic Christmas movies. He wanted to get high with Zayn and watch Elf - their only holiday tradition. He wanted to give Harry his Christmas present -- a big breakfast made by none other than the Best Boyfriend Ever, Louis Tomlinson himself (because Harry may be the cook but Louis makes a mean breakfast sandwich) followed by tickets to some dumb band that Harry’s been raving about for months followed by a hand-made gift certificate that guaranteed Harry the sexual favor of his choice.
But instead he had to sit through this damn final, and no matter how long Harry had studied with him, he just couldn’t quite seem to focus. Also, Harry had kept kissing him. And Louis hated studying so he had kept trying to distract Harry with groping.
Needless to say, it usually worked.
Louis looked over at Harry. He was hunched over, looking very serious, tongue poking between his teeth as he scribbled furiously at his paper, brows furrowed with concentration. Louis sighed, leaning back in his chair, utterly bored. He looked over at Zayn, hoping for a note or at the very least, a funny face. But even Zayn appeared to be hard at work.
Louis threw an eraser at Harry’s head. Harry picked it up and chucked it over his shoulder without looking. It hit some poor tiny boy square in the forehead. Louis mouthed an apology to him on Harry’s behalf.
The bell rung.
“Harry you are very boring during tests,” Louis hissed as they skipped to lunch, arm in arm. Louis swore it looked purely friendly.
“Yes, because one of us actually has to get decent marks so that we can go on to uni so that we can one day acquire our own income, move into a large lovely home with a white picket fence and two point five children to fawn over,” Harry said under his breath as they moved through the lunch line, grabbing two trays.
“You incorrigible sap,” Louis said.
Harry raised an eyebrow, loading Louis’s tray with healthy food. “Studying your vocab after all, are you, Lou?”
Louis swapped the apple and pre-made salad that Harry put on his tray for a plate of chicken fingers and a cookie. He put an extra cookie on Harry’s plate for good measure. “No. Studying is for wankers. I’m going to be a football star.”
“Oh, right,” Harry said lightly, following Louis to their usual table. Zayn, Niall and Liam joined them moments later.
“Only three more hours left of this bloody fucking semester.” Zayn threw down his tray with a dull clatter. His backpack slammed to the ground. “Fuck Chemistry. Fuck The Odyssey. Fuck History.”
Liam frowned into his bag of crisps. “My mum’s going to kill me when she sees my grades.”
“But grades don’t come out ‘til over break...” Harry said.
“Oh, I know they murdered me though,” Liam moaned.
“Not Chemistry, surely? We studied that one for hours.”
Liam shook his head solemnly. “I’m a goner. I’m gonna be grounded until I’m old and wrinkly. I’ll die a virgin.”
“Oh, come off it,” Louis said loudly. “Dani hasn’t yet--”
“Shh!” Liam hissed. “Stop it. Not in public.”
“God, you’re whipped,” Louis shook his head, flicking one of Harry’s broccoli stalks at Liam’s face.
“Look who’s talking!” Zayn said. “I saw that bloody gift thing you were making him in class--”
Louis threw himself over the table to slap a hand over Zayn’s mouth. Harry gently took him by the waist and settled him back into his seat, frowning when Louis slapped his hand away.
“I’m protecting the sanctity of Christmas!” Louis practically shrieked.
Zayn’s eyebrows nearly disappeared into his quiff. “I’m just saying, mate -- you’re whipped.”
“What a stupid saying anyways!” Louis huffed, dramatically stuffing his face with cookie. “Why does getting my boyfriend a good gift make me whipped? Why can’t I just be a good boyfriend? Hmmm? The term ‘whipped’ was created by bitter people likeyou.”
“I got him a pair of women’s panties, Zayn,” Harry said serenely. “With a bow on them. He’s going to wear them all day for me.”
Zayn made a horrified face.
“Harry, what are you doing?” Louis snapped. There was a bit of pink on his cheeks.
“I’m trying to gross him out as penance for upsetting you,” Harry said with a small frown, as if it should be obvious.
“I thoroughly resent the implication that the idea of me in panties is gross,” Louis huffed.
“Oh of course it isn’t gross,” Harry cooed. “In fact, there’s nothing I’d love more,” he finished lowly, lips brushing over Louis’s ear. Zayn accidentally spit up chocolate milk.
“I wouldn’t mind seeing you in a pair of lady knickers, either, Styles,” Louis said coyly, pinching Harry’s thigh under the table.
“Good thing I got an extra pair for myself!” Harry smiled widely, waggling his eyebrows at Zayn out of the corner of his eye. Even his dimple seemed to wink.
Louis leaned in close to Harry’s ear as discreetly as possible. “Harry, is that really what you got me?” He wasn’t sure if he should be upset if he had or upset if he hadn’t.
“Well. Let’s just say this was my attempt to gauge your interest,” Harry said.
“Well, to be honest, it sounds like more of a present for you. Like when husbands get their wives lingerie.”
“I suppose that is the general idea. Hmmm. Well, I got you a backup gift too, just in case.”
“Oh? And what’s that?”
Harry leaned away from, taking a bite of his apple with a wink.
It was a football signed by the entire Manchester United team.
Louis laid Harry out on top of the crinkled wrapping paper and blew him by the fireplace, Bing Crosby crooning Christmas songs quietly on the radio behind them.
They fell asleep on the couch, because Harry always slept on the couch on Christmas Eve. When he’d been little, he’d been waiting for Santa. Now he just liked the tradition of waking up with the sunrise and shaking his mom awake for breakfast.
This year, he had Louis’s head tucked under his chin, breath warm and steady against his shoulder. He nestled his lips in his hair, and fell asleep easily.
Harry can’t remember a time when there were things he cared about that weren’t Louis. He loves everything about him, from the way he makes Harry wear his sweaty football jersey after games to the way he refuses to wear socks to his insistence on drinking his tea when it’s still too hot to the little cry he makes when he comes to the way he presses his thumb into the bruise on Harry’s arm when he gets jealous to the “Mr. Louis Styles” doodles in the margins of his notes next to little stick figure sex diagrams. Harry loves him more than he’s ever loved anything.
He gets a dumb padlock tattooed on his wrist. He makes Louis wear his oversized band t-shirts. He makes Louis listen to his bands on his big band t-shirts. He makes him mixtapes and hides them in his locker. He writes secrets “L’s” on his hand because he’s Louis’s and if he can’t scream it from the rooftops then he’ll at least settle for this.
He drives Louis home in his fancy sports car, even if Louis lives on the other side of town, because the thought of Louis having to walk makes him sick.
His hands shake in class when he can’t touch him. He wants to press Louis into the lockers in the hallway, like Zayn can do with Perrie. He wants to show Louis off on his arm. He wants to stand on the sidelines of Louis’s football games and kiss him breathless every time he scores a goal.
Harry feels dizzy every time he kisses him. He feels drunk every time he fucks him, possessed by something that makes his blood pressure spike, that floods his muscles with adrenaline, that makes him feel invincible. He exercises more to be more pleasing to Louis in bed. He pays more attention in class so he can help Louis bring his grades up. He makes Louis’s sisters fall in love with him, all for the way Louis beams at him when he watches them play from the doorway. He looks at Louis’s fingers -- his small, precious, golden hands -- and imagines what a delicate silver band would look like on his ring finger.
Harry has everything he could ever want. He has his fancy sports car and his big house and a bank account that is practically unlimited, and he’s blessed by genetics, but he would trade it all for Louis and freedom and a shack by the sea where he can kiss Louis any time and anywhere he damn well pleases.
Louis smells like vanilla and he’s always so warm and soft and cuddly, and Harry mostly just wants to be sweet to him, but sometimes he wants to absolutely ruin him, too.
Right now, he’s got Louis practically dangling by a thread, held up on his knees, arms crushed between the small of his back and Harry’s smooth, hard abdomen, wrists tight in Harry’s fist. His head rolls back onto Harry’s shoulder, unabashedly wanton as Harry pounds into him. He’s already been fucked past sore. It must hurt but Harry knows he’s got a good angle on his prostate and he’s already come once and there are lips hot and dirty on his neck, and Harry’s whispering ridiculous things like, “no one could take my dick like you could, Lou. You’re my little slut, aren’t you?”
Under normal circumstances, Louis would give him a slap but getting fucked into oblivion isn’t exactly normal circumstances, so instead Louis spills his (second) release all over Harry’s hand.
Under normal circumstances, Louis might have had some sense of shame, but instead he keeps his wrists pinned behind his back, because he sort of likes the feeling, and ruts helplessly into Harry’s hand, begging him to wring every last drop from him.
Under normal circumstances, Louis’s dad wouldn’t have walked in on that precise moment.
Louis shows up to school the next Monday with a beautiful girl on his arm. Harry deliberately never learns her name.
“Hey, Liam, what if I pitched myself off a bridge?”
“Louis, don’t do that.”
Louis nods. “What if I...drowned myself in the Thames?”
“Don’t do that either, please.”
“Right. Skydiving without a parachute it is, then.”
“Louis, would you stop?” Liam begs.
Louis taps his foot anxiously against the cafeteria floor, and it sticks unfortunately to some mysterious meat mush crushed under his heel. He’s never wanted to be mushed up mystery meat more in his life.
“No. Afraid I can’t,” Louis breathes. He stares longingly at Harry across the room. Harry’s leaning against the window, lazily eating an apple. Louis wants to be that apple. Louis would be mystery meat crushed under Harry’s heel if it meant he got to be close to him. Harry’s wearing a Magnetic Fields t-shirt that’s slung low enough to show off the swallows on his chest. Louis’s spent hours worshipping those tattoos with his mouth. He’d gnaw off his own right hand if it meant he got to kiss that collarbone again.
Harry makes eye contact with him across the room, and Louis can feel the blood drain from his face. Harry looks cold and strange, like his features have shifted and blurred -- a bad Xerox copy of himself. Somehow, though, seeing Harry looking like a stranger doesn’t make Louis want him any less. He needs him more, if only to smooth Harry’s face back into place, to make him warm and familiar and recognizable again.
Harry just stares at him, cold and curious, as if he’s interested in what Louis will do -- but it’s a careless kind of interest. If he wants Louis to feel the full weight of his indifference, then Louis gets it. He looks down into his lap, cheeks flushing with shame, and he pinches down punishingly on the skin at his wrist until Liam notices. By then, the skin is so raw and red he can barely feel it.
Louis hates saying her name. He avoids it all throughout dinner -- which is perfectly civil. His dad is all manners and polite inquiries about her studies and subtle winks in Louis’s direction. He nearly gags when he takes her upstairs after dinner and his father waggles his eyebrows.
She’s honestly wonderful. Louis thinks this whole process might have been even harder without her. She always smells good and she’s bright and she helps Louis with his biology. She kisses him on the cheek, but doesn’t frankly seem interested in any more than that. Her hand doesn’t get sweaty in his like Harry’s sometimes did. She doesn’t snore. She’s actually really good at Fifa, and she’s funny, and she gets along well with his friends.
But Louis won’t say her name. It’s not “Harry,” so he won’t say her name.
Harry hangs out with Nick a lot now, because Nick hates Louis. He’s too bright and sunny and sweet for Nick’s dark, cynical little heart. Nick and his friends are a strange gaggle of paint-splattered, ironic-sweater-wearing, Breaking Bad-watching pretentious fucks who have always looked down on Louis and his friends. Their hobbies include throwing huge parties on the same nights as the football team, just to spite them, laughing when theirs usually ends up being more of a hit than their more laddish, athletic counterparts’.
Louis doesn’t even consider himself that laddish. But that’s not why Harry picked them over him. It’s because Louis just isn’t cool enough. He doesn’t go to vintage shops. He’s never seen The Wire. He doesn’t know who David Foster Wallace is, he doesn’t listen to Neutral Milk Hotel, and he could give a single flying fuck about how many Twitter followers he has. He doesn’t take Polaroid pictures of his cat sitting on a windowsill and whine about how many notes it gets on Tumblr. He doesn’t ride a $1,000 bike. He doesn’t bitch all day about how he “can’t wait to get the fuck out of Doncaster.” Louis likes Doncaster. He likes football and musicals and Ke$ha. He likes getting drunk with his mates and waking up the next morning wearing a wig on his best friend’s lawn. He likes making dumb Youtube videos with Stan. He likes drunkenly bellowing Britney Spears songs on Karaoke. He likes playing Fifa when he should be doing his homework. He likes making people laugh, no matter how much of a fool he makes of himself in the process.
Louis knows he isn’t cool, but he thought he was at least enough for Harry. Harry isn’t even cool. Harry ends nearly every text with “8=====D.” He likes baking and organizing and his favorite movie is Love Actually. He knows every word to Missy Elliot’s “Get Ur Freak On.” He’s seen every episode of Grey’s Anatomy. The only thing funnier to Harry than Louis Tomlinson is Spongebob.
But now Harry hangs out with Nick Grimshaw. He’s always sure to take the seat that faces Louis when he sits at Nick’s table at lunch. Cynically, Louis imagines that Harry wants Louis to see him.
Liam pets Louis’s side and says, “What does your dad think of your new girlfriend?”
Louis sniffs, shredding his sandwich into little chunks which turn dry in his mouth and go down painfully. He can’t bear to look away from his lap.
“He loves her,” Louis says quietly. “Invited her over for dinner again tonight.”
Liam folds Louis’s little hand in his under the table.
Stan comes up behind them out of nowhere, clapping Louis hard on the shoulder, massaging the curve of his neck before sliding into the seat next to him. He pushes a bag of chips in Louis’s face.
“Eat this, you pathetic little cunt. You’re turning into Twiggy. You’re withering away, like a...like I don’t know, something that withers.”
Louis sadly opens his mouth, accepting the chip when Liam feeds it to him.
Stan throws his hands into the air. “I give up. You’ve permanent ruined hand-feeding for me, and that really sucks, because I really liked hand-feeding a lot.”
“Stan, be nice to him,” Liam pouts, curling an arm around Louis and bringing him in to cuddle against his chest. He feeds Louis another chip.
“No. He’s got to stop fucking pining, mate. Look at you, Lou. You’re embarrassing yourself and everyone who’s ever associated with you, to be honest.”
Liam wraps his arms around Louis protectively, glaring at Stan over his shoulder. “Please go away,” Liam says, as meanly as he can. Stan raises an eyebrow.
Louis sniffs against Liam’s chest. “Make him leave,” he mumbles.
Stan laughs. “I’d love to, babe, but now I’m committed to your cause. Jesus, what will it take to wipe that miserable look off your stupid face? Do I need to just go over there and hit Harry or what?”
“Oh, don’t!” Louis cries, pulling his head out from under Liam’s arm. Stan closes his eyes, shaking his head.
“He fucking deserves it though!” Stan nearly shouts, and Liam widens his eyes urgently, making furious shushing gestures. Stan reluctantly sits down, lowering his voice. “Look, Lou -- he’s been an absolute twat about this,” he hisses. “He’s known how your father is from the very start and--”
“But...I dumped him. Even though--"
“Even though what? He’d ‘fight’ for you? Louis, the fuck does that even mean? He’s a stupid, arrogant seventeen-year old boy. What chance does he possibly stand against your father? Not just a grown man -- your dad, the man who raised you? You’re in high school, and he’s a privileged little fuck who’s never been said ‘no’ to.”
Louis feels like he might burst into tears right in the middle of the goddamn cafeteria.
“Nevermind,” Stan says, standing up with a dramatic screech. Louis hopes Harry doesn’t notice. “You’ve exhausted me. I’m finding it quite easy to leave, actually.” He kisses the top of Louis’s head. “We’ll talk later in private, sweet lovesick child, when there’s less a risk of you publicly embarrassing yourself, and thus me by association. Good day, sir,” Stan adds, tipping an imaginary hat to Liam.
Liam pets Louis’s knee. Louis makes a sad puppy-dog face.
“You can leave too, you know. If you want. I know I’m being a miserable bastard.”
“Never,” Liam hushes, pushing his lips into Louis’s hair. “You’re like a sad adorable bunny. I could never leave a sad adorable bunny when it needs me most.”
“Liam, what does that even mean.”
“I don’t know, just take it as the comforting gesture that it is,” Liam says dismissively. He shushes Louis’s protests, shutting him up with more chips.
“He’s right, you know,” Liam quietly says in the locker room before football practice.
“Who?” Louis carelessly throws off his shirt, and it lands on the dirty floor. Liam picks it up hastily and folds it, placing it carefully in Louis’s locker.
“Stan. You’ve...you’ve done the right thing.”
“Well, the right thing feels bloody awful,” Louis snaps, kicking his locker shut. Pain pings through his shin but he doesn’t care. He relishes it in fact, and all through football practice he plays just as carelessly, throwing himself into every kick, running until sweat has completely soaked through his jersey and his bones ache and his coach is screaming at him to stop because he’s just full-on barreled into one of his teammates but he can barely feel pain anymore when pain is what he’s after.
“Louis, what the hell are you doing?” His coach demands.
Louis’s on his knees in the middle of the field, panting for breath. Liam stands next to him helplessly, and Niall drops into a crouch, arm tight around Louis’s sweaty shoulder, telling him he’s alright.
“I’m sorry, coach. I’m playing awful,” Louis manages, heart pounding in his ears. He’s never run so hard or fast or violently in his life.
“No, you’re playing brilliantly, but you’ve left poor Aiden over there with a bruise the color of a fucking storm cloud, and you’ve got blood all over the goddamn ball from your stupid knees.” Louis looks down. His knees are in fact bleeding everywhere.
“I -- I hardly noticed,” he says breathlessly.
“Here’s what you’re going to do -- you’re going to sit on the bench and drink some water and Niall’s going to help you patch up your knees, yeah?” Niall nods. “Liam, you stay on the field. Without Aiden, you’re the only good defense I have left, and I need you all in top form for Saturday. No more of this running yourself ragged, you got me? Can’t have you bleeding all over the fucking field.”
Louis nods and drags himself over to the bench, accepting the arm Niall tugs around his waist. Niall fixes his knees up and forces water on him and doesn’t ask questions when Louis just sort of goes silent and still. It’s a bit horrifying to him, because Niall’s’s just never seen Louis like this. Louis plays a bit madly sometimes but he never loses control. Never. He can’t afford to -- not with all the pressure he has on him of being the best, the brightest, the golden boy
Louis imagines Harry’s watching him from across the field, over the fence. He’s not, and that both relieves him and depresses him even more. He spits into the grass and buries his face in his hands, elbows balances on his knees. Niall strokes his back, and says nothing.
Harry is smoking a cigarette, leaning against the back wall of the gym with his skateboard between his knees. Louis’s inside. He knows Louis’s inside. There’s a gaggle of girls sat on the fence across of him. They glance over at him every so often, whispering and giggling to each other. Harry lifts his chin at them, offers a half-hearted wave, and they shout his name, beaming brightly. Harry looks down at his shoes, scuffed-up white sneakers. He could afford better.
His phone vibrates in his back pocket. He lets his cigarette dangle from his lips when he goes to answer it. It’s Zayn.
“Wanna get the fuck out of here?” Zayn asks before Harry’s even said hello.
“Alright, where are you?”
“Behind the gym, but go to the parking lot. I’ll be by the entrance. I know a place we can go.”
He hangs up and meets Zayn as promised. They should be in Chemistry but they go to a lake nearby instead, skating mindlessly around the sidewalk at the edge before making their way down the lawn to the shore, letting their fingers drift through the water lazily while they lay on their stomachs, staring silently at the ripples that drag through their reflections.
“I had a feeling you’d want to go. I saw your face at lunch.”
Harry shakes his head, muscle jumping in his jaw. He doesn’t say anything, burying his face in his arms so he doesn’t have to look at his reflection.
Zayn runs his knuckles over the small of Harry’s back, lazy and comforting while Harry concentrates all his energy on not-screaming. He tries to think of every sweet, comforting thing he knows, but all those things are Louis Tomlinson: his big blue eyes and pretty, crinkly-eyed smile and his quick tongue and soft hair through his fingers and the way he’d crawl into Harry’s lap when he was sad and the way his voice broke when they fucked and the way they fucked and the way they fucked the first time and the way they were fucking when Louis’s dad came in. He thinks about the way Louis’s fingers tangled with his new girlfriend’s. He thinks about they way they can kiss -- freely, in the hallways, in full view of everyone and if it word gets back to his father it won’t matter. He thinks of their shoulders brushing in the cafeteria. He thinks of the way she took his usual spot -- in between Louis and Niall, where Harry used to police both of their junk food habits, throwing bits of vegetables into their mouths whenever they laughed too big.
Harry had watched them from across the cafeteria, and thought about throwing his apple. He wanted to start a food fight. He wanted to start any sort of fight, really. He wanted any excuse to scream at Louis from across the room, to shout and stomp and free this burning, trembling feeling rolling around in the pit of his stomach begging for some kind of release.
Harry thinks about the bruises he left on Louis’s wall, staring at his knuckles. Zayn grabs his hand and says, “Let’s get drunk tonight, yeah, mate?” and Harry can’t nod fast enough.
They’re all at Zayn’s that night. Zayn is the only one of Louis’s old group of friends Harry will talk to. Liam and Niall and Stan are good mates, of course, but they’ve known Louis longer, and obviously their loyalties lie with him. Zayn is still close with Louis too obviously, but Harry is so angry and so alone and for all of Zayn’s silliness there is something brooding in him that recognizes Harry’s rage. He just can’t quite bear to see Harry alone.
“Lou? I think Nick and them might be heading over later,” Zayn says, flicking idly at a bottle cap. Louis gulps.
“So Harry’s coming?”
“I mean, probably.”
“Oh, God,” Louis moans, flopping dramatically into his own lap. “No. This is going to be hellish, isn’t it. I feel faint. The apocalypse is definitely nigh.”
“Don’t be dramatic, Lou,” Zayn scoffs. “It’ll be fine. They’ll be off doing their thing and you can do yours. No paths have to cross.”
“He probably expects me to leave, doesn’t he?”
“Shit, I dunno, Lou. Maybe. What does it even matter? If you’re going to puss out and not say anything to him, then don’t bitch about it in the first place.”
Louis pouts. “Where’s Liam? Liam’s the only one who’s nice to me anymore. Everyone else is terribly abusive towards me. I shouldn’t stand for it.”
Zayn flicks Louis’s chin. “Say one more word about Harry and I swear to god, Lou, I’ll put your over my fucking knee.”
Louis winks him at over the top of his beer bottle. “Kinky, Zaynie,” he purrs.
“I’m leaving.” Zayn stands up abruptly, bottle cap skittering across the floor.
“Oh, no, don’t!” Louis cries out, scrambling over the edge of the couch, tugging on Zayn’s sleeve so he falls backwards, half sprawled on Louis’s lap.
“Get off me you evil little pimple--” Zayn cries out, voice muffled against Louis’s arm as he’s pinned to the couch. Louis straddles his thighs, sufficiently trapping him. He flutters his eyelashes at Zayn innocently, bottom lip pushed out in an admittedly very adorable pout. Zayn hates the way his heart lurches.
“Please don’t leave me? Everyone’s leaving me. Even Girlfriend’s going to leave me soon probably when she realizes what a pathetic sham I am.”
“Or when she realizes that you don’t call her by her name?”
“I just forget it sometimes, that’s all,” Louis snaps. “Which I do feel awful about! Because she’s really lovely and actually quite funny and pretty but she simply isn’t interesting to me and I miss Harry--”
Zayn shoves Louis off of him and stands up, ignoring Louis’s hurt, imploring face this time. “Then fucking do something about it,” he says roughly. “Do anything! Get mad! And not at yourself, at him, because he’s the one who pushed you into this corner. He’s the one who made you feel so shitty about being closeted even though that was the only real option you had.”
Louis takes a deep breath, sitting back on his heels. Very slowly, he pushes up the sleeve of his jumper, all the way past his elbow. Zayn watches him carefully, gulping when he sees the ring of fingerprints smeared purple around Louis’s bicep.
“Lou,” he says softly. He falls back onto the couch with a sigh.
“My dad,” Louis mumbles. “When he saw Harry with me I honestly thought he was going to kill him. We were in quite a compromising position to begin with, and -- Harry’s so stubborn, you know? I mean he got off of me and my dad was...threatening him, yelling. And I started yelling back, and he grabbed me off the bed -- grabbed me right here -- and he threw me into the wall. And Harry just lost it. He went absolutely psycho. Chipped one of my dad’s teeth. Thank god mum wasn’t home or she would’ve called the cops. Dad was too proud to.”
Zayn brushes his knuckles over Louis’s cheek. He shivers, cuddling a little closer.
“Harry kept saying he’d fight for me, that he’d do whatever it took to keep me and I know -- I know he would but -- Dad made it quite clear what he’d do if I stayed with Harry. I had to call it off. I had to. What would Harry have me do -- live on the streets? Live in his parents’ giant mansion and become like a sort of pet? I can’t -- he’s been so unfair about this and yet I know all he wants is to be with me and shit, he’s onlyseventeen for fuck’s sake--”
Louis dissolves into little, hiccuping cries, small heartbreaking noises that make Zayn’s stomach feel slick with heartache. He buries his lips in Louis’s soft hair, whispering nonsensical things to make him feel better. But there’s nothing really to say. Neither Harry nor Louis are right, or wrong. Zayn loves Harry and he loves Louis and there’s really nothing he’d love more than for them to be together. He doesn’t know how to make it happen.
“Louis, I don’t know what to tell you, other than I’m not the person you should be saying these things too.”
Louis hiccups into Zayn’s neck, and tears rush hot and slick down his skin. Zayn rubs Louis’s shoulder and drops kisses in his hair.
“They’ll be here soon, babe. Think we should clean ourselves up, yeah?”
Louis likes that Zayn says ‘ourselves.’ Makes him feel like he isn’t the only one making a damn fool of himself.
He nods, climbing reluctantly out of Zayn’s lap, wiping his cheeks with his fists like a child. Zayn kisses the top of his head and ushers him to the kitchen.
Four hours later, Louis is four beers deep and standing beneath Nick Grimshaw’s cool, judgmental gaze, feeling two feet tall and trying to stand his ground.
“So, Lou. Long time no talk, yeah?” Nick says, voice smug. He smiles like they’re old friends. Louis tries to remember when he wanted to be an actor.
“Yeah, I guess so. How’ve you been?” he asks politely. He chews on his tongue, and Nick cants his head, amused.
“Oh you know. The same. Trying to get my radio show moving ahead, but of course the school’s been such a heinous little bitch about it. But what can you do?” Nick says, hands fluttering annoyingly around his plastic cup. Louis hopes his eye isn’t twitching.
“Ah! Harry!” Nick says loudly, snagging Harry by the wrist. Harry stumbles a bit, then freezes, meeting Louis’s eyes. Louis’s heart hammers painfully against his ribs, and he desperately hopes Harry won’t bring attention to the obvious rattling of his knees.
“What are you doing, Nick?” Harry asks lowly. He and Louis avoid each other’s eyes.
“Just talking to our little football captain here,” Nick says brightly.
“Right,” Harry says, looking right into Louis’s eyes when he pushes past them, jostling Louis’s shoulder on purpose. Suddenly, Louis is furious. He spins around, but Harry’s already disappeared, leaving him alone with Nick and that stupid, gossip-hungry look on his face.
“I’ve got to go,” Louis mumbles.
“So soon? I haven’t even gotten to compliment your jumper. You going for the Freddy Krueger look then?”
Nick’s eyes are bright and cruel, and Louis can’t tell who he hates more in that moment: Nick or himself. “If it means I get to kill you in your sleep, then yeah, sure, that’s exactly what I was going for,” Louis says sweetly, nails biting into his palms.
Nick arches an elegant eyebrow, looking highly amused. “Not brave enough to do it in person then?” He says lightly.
“You don’t want me to answer that,” Louis says roughly, shoving past Nick to storm after Harry, who seems to have disappeared upstairs.
He finds Harry in the hallway. He’s got a girl against the wall, huge hand swallowing her cheek, tongue deep in her mouth, another hand gripping her hip. She’s making hot little noises, fingers curling in Harry’s hair. Louis freezes. He means to turn around, but he accidentally slips a bit, elbow crashing against the bannister, and Harry springs away from the girl in shock.
“I --” Louis doesn’t know what he wants to say. Don’t? I’m sorry? Take me back? Go away I don’t ever want to see you again or think about you I wish I could pretend you didn’t exist and then everything would be normal--
Instead, he just clutches his elbow lamely. Harry flicks his hair, posture straightening. He cocks an eyebrow.
“You wanted a show then, or what?”
Harry swallows, shaking his head. His hands are trembling. The girl stares at them for a moment before backing away, fleeing down the stairs as quietly as she can. “Just go away. Honestly, Louis. Just fucking leave, alright?”
Louis says nothing.
“Alright?” Harry raises his voice, slamming his fist against the wall, and Louis jumps, flinching back against the wall. Harry towers over him, cheeks red, mouth bitten and raw, and he looks devastated
“You said you were done,” he says quietly. “So be done. Don’t you fucking crawl back to me Louis if you don’t really want me or I swear to God--”
“But I do want you,” Louis says meekly.
Harry’s mouth tightens up, rage crackling in his knuckles and his fist pounds against the wall. “Well you have me then,” Harry says, dangerously quiet, as if he’s afraid that he’ll scream if he speaks any louder. “You fucking have me, you’ll always have me, goddammit, so just--”
A sob bubbles up in Louis’s throat, choking him, and he sinks down the wall, eyes crushed against the heel of his hand. He hates himself. He hates his dad, he hates liking boys, and he hates himself.
Harry stands over him for a moment, watching him cry, and he forces himself to take a step back.
“Is that your answer then?” He asks quietly
Louis cries harder, harder than he thought possible, so hard he’s afraid he might crack a rib, or bite his mouth so hard it bleeds, or choke. Harry walks away from him, and Louis wonders how many bones he’d break if he hurled himself after him down the stairs.
Louis wakes up hungover in Zayn’s bed. What happened after Harry is a blur of whipped cream vodka straight out of the bottle in lieu of a shot glass, his girlfriend’s fingers on his cheek when he attempted to throw it up, and the worst of Skrillex apparently playing on a loop behind him.
“Fucking fuck fuck shit balls,” Louis mumbles, throwing Zayn’s arm off his waist to crawl out of bed.
Zayn reaches after him half-heartedly before turning over with a snore. Louis literally drags himself to the bathroom, wincing at the sunlight. He tries to retch into the toilet but he decides to make himself a large, greasy fry-up instead, which he eats slowly and painfully, kneeling beside Zayn’s coffee table.
Zayn wanders in around noon, looking fresh-faced and beautiful despite being just as hungover as he is. Louis throws a sausage at him.
Zayn ducks -- gracefully, of course -- and Louis scowls at him. “The hell was that for?”
“Your face,” Louis grumbles, angrily shoving egg into his mouth.
Zayn snatches a strip of bacon off Louis’s plate as he passes by, and Louis latches onto his ankle, wrestling him to the floor.
“I won’t let you take this from me!” Louis manages, face muffled by Zayn’s thigh as he rips the bacon from Zayn’s fingers before shoving it into his mouth. “It’s all I have left!”
“You make me sad,” Zayn says, once Louis’s stopped trying to pin him down. He forces Louis to cuddle into him. “Seriously, when are you going to be over this pathetic cunt routine you’re working? Because it’s become pretty nauseating.”
Louis takes a deep shaky breath, shoving another piece of bacon into his mouth. Zayn can’t even bring himself to be disgusting -- Louis just looks too pale and vulnerable and sad. He misses his golden boy.
They sit in silence for a long moment. Zayn sips idly from Louis’s tea. His parents aren’t home, so they have a whole quiet house to themselves for a lazy Saturday afternoon of hangover recovery. Zayn laces their fingers together and says quietly, “Do you want to stay here tonight?”
Louis thinks about his cold sheets, the bruise on his wall, and the shiner on his father’s cheek. Harry’s necklace, tucked under his pillow. “Please.”
Zayn looks down at their knuckles, swallowing. There’s a pregnant pause before he says quietly, “So Nick...Nick probably knows. About...your being with Harry. You know. In a not-just-platonic way.”
Louis tenses. He takes a deep breath. “Why do you say that?”
“I dunno, just...the way he was lookin’ at you. Harry thinks so too.”
“Nick’s never liked me though. I don’t even know why. Jealous of my sparkly personality, no doubt. Or he’s madly in love with me but too afraid to come out and say it.”
Zayn cards his fingers through Louis’s hair. “No, it’s just ‘cause you’re like one of the only people that doesn’t fall for his bullshit.”
Louis shrugs, picking nervously at his cuticles. “I wouldn’t mind him if he wasn’t such a twat to me.”
Zayn nods. “Right...he just. I don’t know, he makes me nervous. I never quite know what he’s up to.”
Louis snorts and turns on the TV, burrowing himself into Zayn’s side. “Insulting people, making children cry, and using his own sperm as quiff hair gel. What else.”
Nick outs Louis on a Wednesday.
Well. It’s not an outing as much as a whisper, which turns into a flurry of whispers, which turns into a downright whisper mob. He proves that a suggestion can be just as powerful as an actual declaration. It starts small -- little comments on his radio show followed by an opportune Frank Ocean song. He whispers his concerns about Louis’s relationship with Harry to a cheerleader, who tells a Student Council member, who tells the valedictorian. Soon enough, everyone is looking at Louis curiously when he walks into the cafeteria with his girlfriend on his arm, and Harry is staring at him from Nick’s table, looking anxious and angry.
Liam whispers, “Let’s go outside, mate,” as soon as Louis puts down his tray.
“No, thanks,” Louis says tightly. He smiles tensely at everyone when they all stare at him, wide-eyed. His eyes look too bright. “So, how’s everyone’s day been? Splendid, I hope? Niall, how’s that sandwich? It looks brilliant.”
Niall puts his sandwich down. “Would you...would you like some?”
“Sure!” Louis chirps. He takes a bite. “Oh, god, this is actually awful. But that’s fine. To each his own.”
Everyone stares at him. Louis’s eye twitches. He feels like he might have an aneurysm, and he slams his tray down, making everyone jump. “Would you all stop fucking staring at me?” He shouts. He could swear Nick Grimshaw perks up from across the cafeteria, hoping for a meltdown. Louis refuses to give it to him. He sees Harry slip out of his chair out of the corner of his eye, mouth drawn, beanie pulled low over his eyes as he escapes outside. Louis ignores the way his pulse speeds up, clenching his fists in his lap.
“Sorry, mate,” Zayn says. He takes the cigarette out from behind his ear and offers it to Louis. “You need? If there was ever a time to start, it’s now--”
“No,” Louis says sharply, taking a deep breath. “No, I will not take up smoking, Zayn, because this is not a crisis. This is not a thing. This is just a stupid flavor-of-the-week scandal that everyone will get over it tomorrow when Susie fucking Pom Poms fucks another English teacher in her car, okay? Jesus Christ.” He stuffs his face with pizza. Everyone lowers their eyes in shame.
“Hey, Louis? Why are you sitting all the way down here?” one of Nick’s friends asks. Louis doesn’t know her name -- Daisy or Delilah or Zoe Deschanel or something horrible and quirky like that. “Harry sits over there.”
“Maybe it’s because he was sitting with that ugly, wrinkly-arseholed, shit-starting creature Nick Grimshaw, and it smells bad over there. This is far as I could sit without vomiting up my whole lunch from the stench,” Louis says, standing up furiously, raising his voice loud enough for Nick to hear him.
“Oh? Have I made him upset?” Nick asks loudly, and Louis kicks his chair away with a smile, walking slowly over to Nick’s table.
“Not upset,” Louis says lightly. The cafeteria falls quiet, watching open-mouthed. Louis feels like he’s on a bad reality TV show. “Curious. Is your arse still buried so deep in the overflowing stacks of gay porn in your closet that you just had to go and start a rumor about someone who’s done absolutely nothing to you in your whole fucking life?”
“So it’s just a rumor then?” Nick asks, cocking his head. He’s wearing an insolent smile. Louis wants to slap it off his face.
“What’s it matter to you!” Louis roars. “It has nothing to do with you! Why is everyone so fucking interested?” Nick’s friends titter, and Louis turns on them. He’s furious at himself for reacting but he just can’t help it at this point. “Don’t you have anything better to do? Go watch HBO or waste your parents money on your stupid vinyl or pay hundreds of dollars to look like you found your clothes in a bin! Jesus Christ -- go for a walk, take up a sport, take up bloody knitting for fuck’s sake! Is this all you people do? Ruin peoples’ lives? Is that your actual hobby? Well it’s fucking worked. You’re all right. I’m gay. I’m fucking gay--”
The door slams open. Harry stands there with his beanie crushed in his fist, just as devastatingly perfect-looking as ever. Louis chokes.
“You,” he breathes. Harry’s eyes skitter over everyone’s faces, flickering between Louis and Nick.
“Louis--” Harry reaches out for him, and Louis shoves his hand away, storming away through the door that Harry just entered and into the courtyard. He’s left his jacket at the table, and it’s absolutely freezing but he doesn’t even care. The cold feels good. His burning cheeks are enough to keep him warm anyways.
“Louis!” Harry cries after him. Louis hears his feet pounding behind him but he just hunches up his shoulders more, walking furiously. “Louis!” Harry’s hand lands on his shoulder, and Louis shoves it away, spinning around. It’s completely silent out here except for their heavy breath, their loud heartbeats.
“No! Don’t fucking touch me!” Louis shouts. “This is -- this is all your fault. All your fucking fault! I hate you, I hate everything about you! I wish you didn’t exist.” His cheeks are wet. “I don’t even wish you were a girl,” he says breathlessly. Tears prick Harry’s eyes but Louis keeps going anyway. “I just wish you didn’t exist.”
Harry nods, pale-faced. His eyes are wet, and his bottom lip is shaking, and Louis gets even more furious at him because he’s so beautiful, isn’t he. Louis wishes he was ugly and cruel. He wishes Harry would scream at him again.
“Then I...I guess I’ll go away,” Harry says quietly. Louis swallows down the lump in his throat. Harry takes a step back, and Louis pushes him furiously, but doesn’t let go when he grabs onto his jacket. He pulls him close and pushes up onto his toes and he shoves his mouth against Harry’s, angry and hard and their lips are cold and it’s probably the worst kiss humanity’s ever witnessed. Harry’s fingers tremble on his cheek, and Louis slaps it away. He doesn’t want to remember Harry sweet. He wants it to be painful so it will be easier to leave.
He looks up. The entire school is watching from the window.
His girlfriend breaks up with him in the cafeteria the next day. It’s very public, but Louis actually doesn’t mind that. Something in him wants to be humiliated like that, and besides, after being outed by his arch-nemesis and seen break-up-kissing his ex-boyfriend, what’s a little public dumping?
Anyways. He wants Harry to see.
He feels Harry’s eyes following him when he sneaks outside to accompany Zayn’s lunchtime smoke, dutifully ashamed after his spectacle of a breakup. Besides his close circle of friends, no one in the school even talks to Louis anymore, or Harry for that matter. They’re at the bottom of the food chain in different orbits.
“My life is a joke,” Louis says, eyeing Zayn’s cigarette wistfully. It’s time like these he does actually wish he smoked. “I am a joke, and no one is even laughing.”
He eyes Harry in the corner of the courtyard. He’s reading. Nick and his friends are smoking in the corner nearby, tittering and whispering. Harry looks like he’s trying to ignore them, but Louis can tell it isn’t working. He thinks about going over, but to say what? High school sucks? My dad sucks? Being gay sucks? There’s nothing to say.
“You gonna tell your dad?” Zayn asks quietly.
At this point? Fuck it.
Harry doesn’t really mind the bottom. It’s quieter down here, without the buzz of superficial friends, their thick syrupy gossipy talk, their heavy, choking cigarette smoke. He’s never been unpopular before, and he thinks the loser thing actually suits him. He was born to be alone, after all, anyways. For a while he thought he was born to love Louis. What a stupid thought to have entertained.
Being sulky doesn’t quite suit him either. Neither does being gossipy with Nick. Neither does smoking, or skating, or drawing, or poetry, or anything really. Louis suits him. He loved Louis, that worked. He was something to fill up the clouds of angry, empty spaces between Harry’s ribs, gasping for something to occupy his busy, buzzing, bruising mind besides his own weird thoughts and his empty house and mindless sex with the daughters of his parents’ business associates.
He was Harry’s perfect thing. His sunny, witty, beautiful Louis. Now all he has is a padlock tattoo on his wrist and ruined boxing gloves and a calendar counting down his last days in this stupid, wretched prison cell of a school.
“Dad, my girlfriend dumped me.”
Louis says it all in one breath, standing in the doorway of the kitchen. He imagines his father blowing up like a cartoon character, steam billowing from his nostrils like some sort of monster. He spins around and runs up the stairs to his room, heart pounding in his ears and slams the door shut, locking it quickly before hearing a body slam against the door, fists pounding. He gnaws on his lip and slides to the ground, listening to the heavy breathing outside his door, the loud declarations of his father’s disappointment in him, that he should of tried harder, man up, grow some fucking balls, Louis, youfaggot. What did I do to deserve you? I was a good father, wasn’t I? How did you turn out to be this pathetic little queer?
Faggot, faggot, faggot.
Louis smiles. He tips his head back against the door, and he holds both hands over his mouth to keep from laughing.
It’s an hour of this maybe. An hour of listening and laughing and feeling his heart bob in his throat, like a little boat in wild water, free and terrified and steadfastly afloat.
He runs to Harry’s as soon as he gets the chance, because what other choice does he have left, right? He runs until sweat soaks his armpits, streaking down his forehead. The air is cold but it feels good on his hot cheeks, and he concentrates on the pound of his feet on the pavement, the quick rise and fall of his heartbeat, the way Harry’s comfy old hoodie flies behind him like a cape.
He pounds on Harry’s door and feels grateful for the way his knock sounds different than his father’s, heart battering wildly around his chest as he waits for someone to open it.
Harry’s only wearing boxers. Louis swallows painfully. He’s all bedroom eyes and red lips and inked-up arms and everything that’s ever made him so devastatingly beautiful.
“I -- er,” Louis stammers like an idiot. There are so many things he wants to say. I want to take you on dates. I want to go to a movie with you and snog you in the back room and get kicked out by the snobby employees for being too in love. I want to hold your hand in the park. I want to show you off to everyone, and tell them you’re in mine, because you’re mine. I want to apologize. I don’t want to apologize. High school sucks. My dad sucks. Being gay sucks. I hate loving you. I love you anyways.
He clears his throat and says “hi” instead.
Louis stares down at his shoes until Harry’s shadow falls over his. They don’t say anything for a long moment, and the silence is absolutely unbearable -- worse than if Harry was screaming at him.
“I left my dad,” Louis blurts out. Harry blinks at him. “Or I’ve...I ran anyways.”
“Oh.” Harry swallows. Louis’s teeth scrape nervously over his lip, watching the bob of Harry’s throat. His eyes look dark. “What are you doing here then?”
Louis looks him dead in the eye.
“What do you think?”
“That’s not fair,” Harry says quickly. “That’s not fair, after all this time. I’ve only ever wanted one thing, and that’s you. If you’re done with me for good, then fine, say that, and leave me alone, because frankly I’m sick of harboring this stupid little hope that one day, when your father’s gone, or when we’ve graduated, you’ll end up on my doorstep, wherever the fuck I am, and you’ll tell me you love me.”
“I’m on your doorstep now,” Louis says quietly, and Harry’s breath comes up sharp, a tight, trembling gasp in his throat. He looks hurt and hopeful and scared and furious all at once, hands trembling white-knuckled at his sides.
“Don't,” Harry breathes.
Louis feels the choke-collar pull of his father on his throat but he surges forward anyways, kissing him on the mouth, landing hard and awkward but Harry doesn’t seem to mind, swallowing him desperately, arms sweeping around Louis’s waist. Louis pushes Harry into the wall and continues to kiss him breathless. Harry shakes underneath him, hands wild and hungry at Louis’s back, at his arse, at his hair and cheeks, thumbs digging into the hollows of his cheekbones. His arms feel bony and cold around him, but somehow it’s the safest Louis’s felt in ages. Harry’s always been that -- the only person who makes Louis feel safe. Louis broke the choke-collar by himself, but he’s still a terrified boy bobbing alone in the water, and he needs another terrified boy holding onto him if he wants to stay afloat.
“Goddamnit, Louis,” Harry whispers, lips buried in his hair, fingers digging painfully into the back of Louis’s head. Louis closes his eyes, cheek slick with tears against Harry’s neck. It hurts to breathe.
Harry holds his lips to Louis’s mouth, like he’s trying to give him air. He breathes in a lungful of water, swallowing up his beautiful, terrified boy along with it.