Louis has a set path to school every Tuesday.
He knows when he has to leave his house (at least by half eight). the route most efficient to his preferred coffee shop (crossing through the endless stream of traffic on Grassmarket street and walking past the primary school to the Daily Grind). Everything is easy - or, well, should be.
He's running late, which is already a great way to start the day. His jeans sag on his hips because of a lack of a belt and his color scheme of red shirt, blue pants and white converse just screams a little too patriotic to him. Not that he can change, but.
He grabs a coffee and nearly sprints the last two hundred feet to campus, said coffee sloshing in his hands.
He gets into class with less than thirty seconds to spare, eyes wide as he huffs and tries to regulate his heartbeat. The dregs of his coffee still remain in his cup, but the rest all over his shoes and the bottoms of his rolled up jeans. He ignores the chides that the obnoxious jocks at the front of the class give him and simply takes a seat next to Zayn, his best mate. Louis lowers his head onto his backpack with a small thud as the teacher begins his lecture for the hour.
It's going to be a long day.
Louis' running on schedule this Tuesday morning, surprisingly. He feels happy today, so he treats himself to a coffee and slice of pumpkin bread with the extra few pounds his mother gives him when Lottie and the other pre-teens aren't looking.
A boy skirts around him today just the last few feet to school - large headphones covering his ears and matting down his curls as he takes long strides toward the main building. He's got a thick messenger bag tossed over his shoulders and jeans that cling so tightly Louis momentarily wonders how one can squeeze into them. (His legs are incredibly thin though...) Louis doesn't remember this kid from any of his classes, or maybe even in his class year. He could just be an underclassman, but Louis would usually recognize someone like this boy, what with his mussy brown hair and broad shoulders. And, oh god, Louis' obsessing over the back of someone, isn't he? No wonder everyone thinks he's a loon.
Someone pats him on the left shoulder and Louis spins around to face Zayn, all bright grin and teeth and cigarette dangling from his lips. "Mornin'."
"Yeah," Louis agrees, "mornin'."
Louis runs into the boy again the following Tuesday.
They cross paths as the boy steps out of his home. Louis' fiddling with his iPod when he looks up to see the boy staring at him from the front porch. With a hesitant wave, Louis gets a better look at the front of the boy - all wide, green eyes and pouty, red lips and lean torso that makes Louis' head spin a bit with fantasies he should never tell a soul. The boy's cute - no, gorgeous - and Louis knows that this boy isn't from here because this level of attractiveness is not spawned here in Doncaster. Trust Louis, he's lived here for eighteen years.
He tries to think of any rumors of new kids in town as he speeds towards the coffee shop, away from the boy with pretty eyes and band t-shirts and tight jeans. He comes up with nothing.
They circle each other for the next two weeks. Louis inevitably runs into the boy as they take the same path to school and a bit of a pattern forms: they lock eyes, one of them gapes for a moment too long, and either the boy walks in front of him or Louis speedily keeps on ahead (this time with a thudding heartbeat).
Sometimes when he's walking he thinks of introducing himself. Louis gathers up the courage and preps himself ('Hi, I'm Louis, what you're name?') but he sees those big headphones pressing against the boy's ears and sees how unfathomably beautiful he is and thinks that no, Louis better not. It's better to observe what one cannot have from afar than try to ruin it. Besides, they've got a good walk thing going, no harm in that. Louis' a bit of a coward at heart, really. He should fix that. He should be more brave - he's Louis Tomlinson, he's always taking risks and being adventurous, but something about talking to this kid makes him awkward and shy and thirteen all over again.
Louis gets so lost in his head thinking of the boy he nearly slams his head against a light post at the intersection.
Louis sees him again during break that Wednesday.
He's walking the opposite way, coming toward Louis and his group of friends and from this angle he can see the boy wildly gesticulating with another girl who shares an incredible likeness to him - perhaps a sister? He's rapidly speaking to her, pink mouth floundering and green eyes catching the fluorescent lights and gleaming in such a beautiful way Louis did not know could exist within school walls.
As he passes by, Louis hears instead of gossip the airy trills of ceci and n'est pas and toujours from the siblings (if he's right, that is). Words that usually never grace Halls Cross hallways unless outside of the two French classrooms.
"Do we have foreign exchange students?" Louis casually asks, pressing his back against the locker behind him. He fixes his fringe as he waits for his other three friends to respond. He's not curious or anything - oh, well, okay, he's a little curious. Foreign exchange students are elusive, and cute ones like the boy with curly hair are nearly impossible to find.
"Yeah," Liam chirps, "a girl - and her brother, I think? She's in my Spanish class. Her name's Gemma."
"She's well fit." Zayn says, turning around as his eyes flick up and down her backside. Liam gives him a slap on the shoulder and a tut. Zayn rolls his eyes but turns back to face the group.
"Wonder what her brother's name is." Louis subtly voices, rocking on his heels. Niall crumples his now empty bag of crisps in his hands before he shrugs.
"No clue, mate, I think he's a year younger than us." Niall says, before his expression darkens. "Wish he wasn't though - could probably help me with me bloody French coursework."
The gang laughs at Niall's expense, the Irish boy pouting the entire time, and Louis makes a mental note of the French foreign exchange student, suddenly looking forward to Tuesday morning more than ever.
Louis' running late again, but this time it's not his fault. (Okay, well, maybe it is.)
Lottie and Felicite had been up all night with the stomach flu, (which Daisy and Phoebe had brought back from daycare) and he had spent all night with his mother running from room to room helping out each poorly sibling until he eventually passed out on the sofa at around half three in the morning.
He vaguely remembers his alarm going off, but then Louis also remembers pressing the snooze button a few more times than he should've and he definitely remembers his clock displaying five minutes till half eight as he leapt out of bed.
His mother was still tending to a teary Fizzy when knocked on the door for a lift, before apologizing and explaining to Louis that no, she couldn't give him a ride. With a sigh and a kiss blown at Fizzy, he was pushing himself outside and slinging his rucksack over his shoulder.
Which is why, looking like shit with his beanie yanked on his head and grey sweatpants sagging on his hips, Louis is not ready for today or to even exist. The only brightening thing was his coffee, but as he stares at his phone he knows he's probably going to be late to class because of it. Not that that dissuades him from purchasing one this morning as he crosses the street to the cafe.
Louis scurries down the street, bitter wind blowing right through him and chilling him to the bone. He rubs his arms over his striped long sleeve and wishes he had the ability to go back in time and retrieve a jumper before he left the warmth of his home.
He's stopped at the entrance of the coffee shop by a boy - the same one he's been walking with for the past few weeks.
The boy gives him a meek smile before outstretching a mitten covered (fucking mittens, this boy is too cute) hand with a piping hot cup of something to him.
"For me?" Louis dumbly asks, staring widely at the boy who impishly grins and nods. Louis' heart swells and he blushes because after a night of pure hell this is heaven. He looks around him for someone else and the boy gives a deep rumble of a laugh as Louis checks for anyone else nearby. "Are you sure?"
"Yes," the boy responds as he nods, his accent is thick and luscious and addicting, "for you."
The boy outstretches the drink a little further into the gap between them and Louis jumps at the chance to get his hands on something warm in the frosty morning.
Louis takes a tentative sip, noticing the way the boy is staring at him with a keen interest. It's a tea, and it's a little too sweet for his taste, but the boy is kind and his intentions are genuine and it's still good, so Louis grins and says, "delicious, thank you so much."
The boy grins broadly and blushes slightly. Louis thinks a blush on him is quite flattering. "It is no problem." The boy shrugs, his backpack rising and falling with him before he shakes his hair and pushes it to the side. "We should go? Unless you like to be late to school."
"Y-Yeah, don't want to be late." Louis murmurs, staring at the boy in wonder. They begin to trudge time and the boy looks happy as he sips from his own cup and hums little tunes underneath his breath that Louis barely catches before they float away in the chill. Louis wants to speak, but he's still kind of confused on why this is happening and how it even happened or when he became so lucky, but he's happy about it regardless and there's no way he's going to let this opportunity slip through his fingers.
"I'm Louis, by the way," Louis ventures to say - he feels kind of bad interrupting the boy, who looks very happy off in his own world. The boy startles for a second and then looks at him with a smile.
"I know," the boy replies, grin spreading across his pinking cheeks. "You're very… popular, at school, yeah?"
Louis grins and rolls his eyes. "Mostly because I'm the best forward on the football team," Louis muses and the boy quirks up, intrigued, "and because one day I nearly set the chemistry lab on fire with a bunsen burner. I think that's why most of the science teachers hate me so much." The boy laughs, all rolling thunder, and the noise sends jolts down Louis' spine.
The boy presses his lips against his cup as he quietly mumbles, "I am Harry."
Harry. It's cute and light but also mysterious and smoky like this boy is, who is currently looking at Louis like he's the most fascinating thing ever, when really all he is is some loud boy from Doncaster. Practically nothing in the grand scheme of things.
"Nice to meet you, Harry." Louis warmly says and the boy grins and a dimple sinks into his left cheek and wow, Harry's really pretty with his dimples. "You're not from here, are you?"
Harry snorts. "How could you tell?" The curly-haired boy teases, and Louis sticks out his tongue but feels his cheeks heat up. "I'm from Avignon in France."
"That's really cool," Louis muses, "or, err, très chouette? I didn't really pay attention in French class." Louis looks ahead at the stop light in front of them, but in his periphery he can see Harry laughing at him, dimples pressing indents into both of his cheeks and it's just too cute so Louis keeps staring on ahead so he doesn't pinch Harry's cheeks or do something even more embarrassing.
"Oui," Harry assents, walking ahead when the light changes, "très chouette." He mocks Louis' accent in a way that is so inexplicably adorable it melts his heart and makes Louis want to slap him on the arm too. Louis already likes the kid, and knows he would absolutely have a field day with Niall and his poor French accent.
"Oi," Louis yells, laughing too, "sorry I'm not from France like some people." He dramatically says as he rolls his eyes and shakes his head.
"You do realize I speak English too, yes?" Harry jokingly announces and Louis rolls his eyes.
"No, I would've had no clue," Louis dully replies and Harry giggles and it's the cutest noise Louis' ever heard.
Louis shuffles a bit closer, (because it's cold, and because Harry tucked up in a cute, black peacoat and scarf is incredibly adorable and he looks really warm and yeah he's someone who Louis would love to snuggle) and takes another sip of tea before he loftily says, "do you have plans for lunch, Harry?"
The boy stares at him for a second, and Louis wonders if he has to translate things in his head and then he wonders about what a strange concept that is, because Louis' only ever thought in English, when the boy grins and waves a hand in front of his head. "Louis?"
Oh fuck, Harry saying his name is the cutest (and at the same time incredibly sexy) thing he's ever heard.
"Yeah?" Louis dazedly replies, staring at Harry like he's the sun as the boy laughs again. The boy laughs at everything. It's all too cute it's suffocating Louis. Is an overload of cuteness a way to die? Because Louis' heart is palpitating in his chest and everything is rainbows and Louis knows it's all Harry.
"No, I don't have plans," Harry confirms and tucks his hands into his peacoat. His eyebrows furrow and his lips purse as he concentrates. "Why?"
Louis shrugs, "well, you know, you bought coffee this morning, I figured I could treat you to lunch this afternoon." He's trying to seem really calm but he feels awkward and he's hoping this all works out. "S'only fair, you know. And I'm pretty cool, sometimes. And, yeah."
Harry looks a mixture of surprised and excited as he nods, sounding enthused as he agrees, "yes, I'd love that."
Louis pats Harry on the shoulder (because the boy is tall) and responds, "perfect!"
When Louis finally tears his gaze away from Harry's face he sees that they've made it onto campus, throngs of students piling into the main hall doors and for today, Louis doesn't really hate going to school today. Not really with Harry at his side.
"I'll be looking forward to it all morning." Harry swears as he smiles. Harry smiles a lot, Louis notes, but he really likes the look on him so he's more than okay with it. He's like a little kid and it's so precious and wonderful that Louis doesn't really know what to do with himself but he's got a natural inclination to hide him from the world and cuddle him.
"Excellent," Louis replies, "We'll meet outside the front doors?" They're approaching the doors now, and Louis will have to tear away soon to go to physics, much to his chagrin. Harry nods vehemently and adjusts his backpack on his shoulder.
"Yes," Harry says, "I'll meet you there."
"Bye then." Louis says, frowning slightly, "err... au revoir."
Harry nearly inhales a sip of his tea. "Your French is terrible," he teases, "but yes, au revoir. Until then."
Louis separates from Harry and can't help but think this is the start of something good.