i’m a beggar in the morning (i’m a king at night)
5 and 7
“I know him from the playground.”
Louis hears the small voice from metres away, and he turns around to give the voice a mouthful about talking behind someone’s back, but. The voice belongs to a small boy who looks very much like friend-material.
He walks over to the boy, against his mother’s advisement. “Are you talking about me?” he asks, raising an eyebrow. He saw on TV that lions open their eyes wide to intimidate other lions and to show dominance. Louis must show dominance, too.
It sort of works because the boy cowers behind his mum’s leg and peaks just his head out, whispering, “Yes. Just a little bit.” His eyes grow wide, too, but mostly out of fear Louis thinks. They’re glassy and green and pretty. Probably Louis has seen the sky the same color as his eyes.
“Louis, get back here,” mum calls from where she is by the bananas, plucking the perfect, green-ish ones because if you get the bright yellow ones they’ll go bad quicker. She walks over too and says hi to the little boy’s mum. “I’m sorry for him, he’s just friendly.”
Except for Louis wasn’t really trying to be friendly. He was showing his power as a lion-boy.
“Hey, I’m a lion,” he whispers into the boy’s ear, cupping his hands tight around it just so the mums won’t hear.
The boy starts crying.
“Oh, hon, what’s wrong?” the other boy’s mum coos, picking him up and patting him on the bum and kissing him on his tear-slicked cheeks. Louis thinks he’s a real baby.
“He lied, he said he was... a lion,” Tiny Boy sobs, lifting his curled up hands to his eyes and wiping. It's really stupid and maybe the next time he sees the baby at the playground he'll push him over. (His guilty conscience tells him that he'll pick him back up and kiss him on the cheek, though.)
“No I didn’t! He’s lying! Make him stop crying!” Louis shouts and hides behind his own mum so she’ll protect him. Mum apologises again; what for, Louis doesn’t know, but then they leave to pick up eggs.
On the drive home mum tells Louis that the little boy, whose name is Harry, lives across the street and if Louis wants to be a good boy, he will be nice to Harry. Louis agrees, but only because he would like to have a friend who lives across the street.
Louis runs across the street without asking. There were no cars and nobody to see him do it, so he took the chance and only tripped up a little bit when he ran up Harry’s lawn.
“Hello, miss, I’d like to see Harry please,” he says respectfully to the mum that comes to the door, holding his tulip lollis behind his back.
“I’m afraid Harry’s having a little nap at the mo’. Would you be willing to come back a wee bit later?” Other Mum asks, just about when Louis hears his own mum screaming across the street.
“Louis, get your bum right back here! Oh, Lord, you’re going to get a spanking! Right now, young lad!” she shouts, and Harry’s mum looks very guilty and she shouts back apologies.
Louis does not like mums right now.
“Mum, I came to deliver a present,” he tries to reason, holding up his sweets while his she storms across the street with her angry face on. Then the crying starts, and oh, Louis does know that cry. It’s baby Harry’s cry.
“Oh, jeez,” Other Mum says concernedly, and it seems like she’s about to turn back to grab Harry but he appears at the foot of the stairs with a blanket and a fist wiping his eyes.
“What are you doing here?” is the first thing he sniffles out, walking forward shyly and clutching the yellow blankie with a duck patched onto it to his chest.
“I have a gift for you.” Louis holds out the green tulip lolli because as nice as he is, he would like to give the grosser-tasting green one out and keep the purple one to himself.
Harry’s eyes are wide and green as always and he opens his bright red lips again to say a really quiet “thank you.” He takes it and instantly sucks it into his mouth, trusting that Louis has not poisoned it and giggling when he thinks it tastes good. Louis feels a gush of proud.
“There’s a good boy,” Louis hums, ducking down to kiss Harry on the top of the head like his mum does to him when he’s upset.
“Louis, that’s quite enough,” mum scolds, pulling his shoulder back.
“It’s really alright. I think it’s cute, honestly.” Harry’s mum smiles at Louis and then Louis’ mum sputters.
“You don’t mind?”
“Not at all. Think these boys could be friends.”
(And later, Louis remembers, he remembers this moment because Harry’s eyes had seemed so endless and awing and he knew Harry was it before he knew how to tie his shoes.)
Their first play-date is on the thirtieth of August and he only knows this because it’s the day after his mum’s birthday. Harry comes over and they play cars and they wrestle and they drink tea and they have gingersnap cookies even though Harry doesn’t like them. (Louis takes the bits that Harry had spit out onto a napkin and folds it up neat and throws it in the garbage.)
“I get to go to school soon,” Louis brags while they watch Caillou. Harry blinks up at him with those eyes and frowns, most likely jealous. Louis can’t pretend that he doesn’t know why; he’d be jealous of himself too.
“I want to go to school,” Harry grumbles, and even though Louis takes pride in feeling older than Harry he doesn’t like to see him upset. So he kisses Harry on the forehead and Harry grins and promptly lays his head on Louis’ shoulder and falls asleep. It must be Harry’s nap-time, Louis thinks. He doesn’t really realize how much younger Harry is until moments like these.
A nap does sound nice, though, so he leans his head on Harry’s head and falls right asleep with him.
(Both mums come in later, cooing and snapping pictures and finding it very, very cute that their sons have such a connection even before Louis knows how to multiply by three’s.)
Louis goes to school every day, working hard and doing his math so he can finally know how to divide and when he comes home Harry is usually waiting on his step, even though mum had said that he was allowed to wait inside.
Harry asks what it’s like to ride the bus and if the teachers are nice in grade two, although he should know because they go to the same school and Harry should see the second grade teachers when he walks around the school with his kindergarten class in the mornings.
Still, though, “Is it true that you get beat if you answer wrong in year two?”
“No, stupid. That’s only a myth.” Louis learned the word myth yesterday.
Harry’s chin starts to wobble and he reaches out for Louis’ hand. Louis is used to this; whenever he teases Harry the little baby will cry and beg for attention. Louis is not cold-hearted enough to refuse it.
He takes Harry’s hand and kisses the top of it, mumbling, “Sorry. Just a joke. Don’t cry, Harry.”
Harry nods that he won’t cry but jump-hugs Louis anyway, into his arms so that Louis falls over and they end up wrestling on the floor.
It’s just sort of like that, really; Louis messes up and Harry still wants more and they just work it out, they do.
9 and 11
Louis wakes up in the morning to find dad by the front door with suitcases all around him.
“Are you going on a trip, dad?” he asks, scratching his thigh and playing with the zipper on his onsie.
Dad spins around and his face is red and his eyes look so, so angry. “No,” he says, his voice low and shaking. “I’m not going on a trip.”
Mum comes out then, sobbing and her face is red so Louis runs to the couch and curls himself into a ball. He doesn’t think she’s seen him there yet.
“So that’s it, then? You’re going to leave this family? What about your boy?” she screams. Louis is that boy, maybe. He pops the button on the flap of his PJ’s and mum looks over at him, finally. “Louis.”
Dad sighs really loud and wipes a hand over his face. He gives a look to Louis, then to mum, and then to his bags. “I’m sorry, Jay. Can’t go on like this anymore.” He steps out of the door with his suitcase behind him and Louis doesn’t know what’s going on, really, so he puts his head between his legs and breathes.
That’s eleven for Louis and it’s dead except for Harry during twelve and thirteen, too.
Louis gets over it.
13 and 15
“Harry, have you ever—have you kissed a boy?” Louis whispers it; his hair’s all wild from the wrestling, probably.
Harry nibbles on his top lip. “I—nope. No, I haven’t. I like girls, ‘member?” He shrugs and shuffles around in his sleeping bag so he can reach at the bowl of crisps. He takes a big handful and stuffs it all in his mouth, half of it landing on the ground next to the previously thrown around Haribos.
“You know what would be funny?” Louis asks when he moves back over.
“If I dared you to kiss me. I bet you couldn’t do it.” Louis knows it’s a joke; he knows he’s just trying to be funny and get Harry to laugh too and then they’ll settle down and go to sleep. He knows that but he still gets a little worm in his tummy that’s wriggling around and saying, “Dude, what the hell?”
Harry scrunches his nose and licks a chip crumb off of his cheek. “Nah, are you crazy? Friends don’t do that. S’wrong and stuff.” His eyes, though, they stay on Louis’ lips and Louis would make fun of him if he wasn’t staring at Harry’s lips, too.
“Really wrong,” Louis repeats, leaning over Harry to reach the bowl of crisps but—he falls. He falls on top of Harry. One thigh between Harry’s and Harry’s thigh between his. “Oops.”
Harry gasps a little but smiles and says, “Hi. Gonna move off of me?”
Louis doesn’t think he will. “I don’t think I will.” He shifts and wiggles so their hips aren’t digging into each other but they’re closer.
“Oh. Okay.” And then Harry kisses him. He tastes salty and sweet and when his lips drag low enough to wet below his mouth, it feels good. It feels good and it’s turning sloppy and Louis squeaks and dares to push his tongue into Harry’s mouth.
“Just let me,” he breathes when he feels Harry’s hands clutch at his hips—maybe to move him away or maybe to pull him closer—and he turns his head and it’s just right, honestly. Their lips slide along each other’s and their tongues are moving and hot and licking in all the crevasses, Louis’ hands move up to grab fists of Harry’s top, and Harry is breathing in pants through his nose. It sounds, it sounds—yeah.
Then Harry moves his hands down, down lower, scratching his short nails on the small part of exposed skin on Louis’ back and then lower. Louis has to pull away, then.
They breathe for a few minutes, Harry staring so deep into Louis’ eyes that it’s a little unnerving.
“Um. Funny, that was. That was funny. Right?” Harry mutters, pulling his hands away from Louis like he’s fire and then it’s all finished and Louis rolls away and then it’s all finished.
They go to sleep and Louis pretends he doesn’t feel it when Harry places a hesitant hand on his hip and whispers a, “Night, Lou.”
They somehow find out at school that Louis is gay before he knows himself. And then he thinks, oh, shit, I am gay.
It's not a big deal—some boys smile at Louis more and some glare more and some girls want to be his 'best friend,' but. Harry just hasn't reacted yet.
He texts him after school, and Harry just replies with, 'have to talk. My house rn xx'. And there's no smiley face—there’s no smiley face.
Harry's waiting in his giant windowsill when Louis gets into his room.
"Hey," Louis says quietly, walking in, feeling scared of Harry for once. Harry’s thirteen; he’s young, Louis shouldn’t feel so intimidated, but.
Harry doesn't reply.
It's—that makes Louis' blood run a little colder. He inches forward, forward, sits on the windowsill across Harry and curls himself up into a ball. They don't talk, until,
"Hey." Harry reaches out. He grabs Louis' trembling hand that's on his knee. "Hey, come here."
Louis swears he's never moved so fast. He uncurls, settles himself between Harry's legs, lets himself be held and his back rubbed and his forehead kissed.
"I just—I just had to think it over, you know?" Harry speaks in a shaky voice, shaky, leaving his arms wrapped tight around Louis' middle. It's probably the closest they've ever been; they're defying gravity right now. "Get it through my head. Like, y'know. My best friend is gay. That's okay, like. Gay is okay and everything."
Louis laughs—Harry is stupid. "Thanks for telling me. I knew that already, you were just delaying my own acceptance a bit. I couldn’t—can’t have you hate me."
A nod jostles Louis a bit. And a sniffle makes him pull away—fast. "What's wrong?"
Harry's face is a little red, a little puffy, and his eyes are glistening. It's heartbreaking on such a face, really.
"Just. I'm. I love you a lot, and I think that I—I feel like I made you doubt that today. M'sorry," Harry mumbles, his low, stupidly matured voice rumbling on where Louis' hand is put on his chest.
"I didn't doubt it. I know you'd break someone's nose for me, so. Nothing's really all that different; I just like penis." Louis grins, hopeful for a laugh, hopeful for a wrestle or something.
"Oh, yeah, no big deal. Hey, does this mean you liked it when we kissed?" Harry's eyes are bright with amusement and there we go, he's back.
"Yep. Good wanking material for weeks after that one."
Then there's wrestling, there's happy, there's Harry being his stupid Harry self and that's just fine. That's okay.
15 and 17
“Haz, c’mon, up. I have a story to tell you.”
Harry grunts and rolls over to look up at Louis—who’s standing over his bed—like he’s glaring into the sun even though it’s three AM. “Screw off, mate.”
“I have a story. I hooked up.” Harry shoots up then. “Like, with a guy. In a club.”
“What the fuck? You’re seventeen, Lou, how did you get into a club?” Harry looks really worried and nervous and there’s something else there—something that’s too painfully apparent that Louis chooses to ignore it.
“The bouncer checked me out and let me in. I looked hot, I donno. But seriously. The guy sucked my cock. Like, mouth moving up and down, up—”
“Yeah, Lou, got it.” Harry’s eyebrows are furrowed and his fists are clenched and he looks angry. That pisses Louis’ off a bit; they’re best friends and Harry should be high-fiving him or something.
“Come on, won’t you humor me? I wanna talk about it. Still horny from it, Christ. I could go for a wank.” He climbs into bed with Harry, not very mindful of all his long limbs, and settles himself down on his side—the left side.
It’s a little quiet for a moment, and then Harry says, lowly, “Why don’t you?”
“Why don’t I what?”
“Why don’t you wank? I wouldn’t mind or anything.”
Louis snorts. “I’m starting to think you’re a little bit gay, mate.”
“Actually, by being okay with you wanking, I’m very straight. I feel indifferent about you wanking in bed beside me.”
Louis gets a brief flashback of fifteen and thirteen and Harry squeezing his bum and Harry licking into his mouth and. And then it’s gone. “Right.”
A pause, then, “You smell like come.”
“Smells good, yeah? Here, smell my fingers.” Louis reaches over to grab at Harry, to hold him in place while he puts his hand near Harry’s nose but Harry fights back and wrestles him until Louis’ pinned under Harry’s body.
“You are fucking gross. And you’re also not the only one who can get laid around here.” Louis can smell the sweet scent of Harry’s breath from his light sleeping, and God, if Louis doesn’t want to lick it in.
“Oh, really? Who are you sleeping with, mate?”
“Flack seems so want me pretty bad.”
Louis snorts. “Miss Flack is your fucking teacher. She’s, what, thirty-three? Nasty.”
Harry scrunches his nose up, kisses Louis on the cheek, and rolls back to his side of the bed. “Wanna eat her out, though.”
Louis doesn’t reply. Not then, at least. He just breathes as evenly as he can, practically feeling Harry’s emotions, how he’s waiting for a witty comeback from Louis. Just, no, though. Louis swallows down the thickness in his throat, and, “Goodnight.”
“Lift your hand down, you great idiot!”
Harry giggles, raises his hand higher and even goes far enough as to poke Louis in the tummy.
It’s not fair, that Harry’s taller at fifteen, and Louis has to go on his tip-toes to reach at his phone that Harry’s suspending in the air by his fist. It’s not fair that Harry keeps poking him, either, because that makes him bend over and laugh and then shout at him for being fucking stupid. He has a text to reply to.
“I’m gonna reply for you,” is Harry’s reasoning, and Louis doesn’t want that because Harry will say something stupid like ‘hey matt wanna meet up at my crib and snog’.
Louis has an idea. He huffs, dropping his arms to his side and Harry grins like he’s won. But he hasn’t. Louis places both his hands on Harry’s chest, slides them down, then brings Harry into a big, nice hug. “I love you, Haz,” he mumbles into the fresh-smelling cotton of Harry’s shirt, and he smirks when he hears Harry sputter.
“Oh, Lou. I love you too.” He hugs Louis back, tight and warm like he always does, and Louis grabs the phone that’s finally at his level.
“Ha! I win again. Never underestimate me, Curly, I’ve got you beat. Always.”
Harry acts heartbroken—clutches his chest, falls on the ground in a defeated heap, but when he looks up at Louis. But when he looks up at Louis. Louis can see it again; that look that lets him know that Harry isn’t as self-assured as he thinks he is.
The thing is, Louis knows Harry likes him. He just doesn’t think Harry knows quite yet. He does what he can; messing with Harry but not going too far, because then he’ll have a gay freak-out.
Louis leans forward, tucks a rugged curl behind Harry’s ear, nuzzles it, and whispers, “You’ve freakin’ weird ears.” Then he hops away before Harry can sputter or slap him because he’s got a date to get ready for.
He’s going with Zayn and he’s sweet and he’s attractive—incredibly so—and Louis thinks he’d let Zayn fuck him—totally. The hook-up at the bar was alright—good at best (he played it up for Harry) and he thinks Zayn would know what he was doing, so. Yes.
Harry calls after him, ”Text me in case he turns out boring!” and Louis hears him settle back down in the bed while he himself scuttles off to the bathroom to have a quick wank before he leaves. He doesn’t want to be too horny while he’s on a date.
He comes fast and hard—thinking about Harry’s lips, dear God—and he fucks through his tight fist to gather all his come up and wash it all down in the sink. He uses the nice cucumber-scented hand-cream Harry has in there to get the smell of come off his hand, and then he’s pretty much good to go. After he fixes his hair again, that is.
He leaves with a wave and a goodbye and he ignores when he receives ten texts (from Harry) on the date and ignores when he gets two phone calls (from Harry) while he’s on his knees in the bathroom.
He gets home at eleven at night and goes straight over to Harry’s after he’s showered and thrown some pajamas on. He feels all antsy—the hyped-up feeling he gets after he’s sucked someone off with nothing in return, and he doesn’t really want to wank off at home. Then he’d be too tired to walk over to Harry’s, and he’d promised Harry he would, and so on.
Harry’s nearly asleep when Louis gets to his room. He says, when he startles and sees it’s Louis, “I was supposed to get laid tonight.”
“Donno, like. She chickened out I guess.”
Louis fake-pouts. He strips and gets into bed beside Harry and throws his body over Harry’s because that’s where he’s most comfortable.“Well,” Louis starts, leaning up, pressing his lips on Harry’s neck, “if it makes you feel better, I’d let you take me.” And honesty, he doesn’t want to scare Harry away, but he just knows. He knows that Harry knows—even if just a little bit. Surely he won’t freak out.
Harry freaks out.
“What the fuck, Louis? I told you no. You know what that means, right? That I don’t want you? Fuck.” A pause. “Get out.”
“Wh—Harry. It was a joke. Calm down,” Louis says back, but ridiculously enough, his voice sounds shaky and scared. Louis hates Harry for making him like this. Things just happen so fast with Harry and Louis can’t keep up.
“Louis, get out. Get out of my bed.”
It’s—it’s with jittery movements that Louis crawls out of bed with his head hung low. It’s with robotic movements that he pulls on his joggers, his sweater, and slams Harry’s bedroom door on the way out. And finally, it’s with heartbroken movements that Louis walks down the stairs and decides to just sleep on Harry’s couch because it’s cold and he’s going to cry and this is his home, too, anyway.
Louis sniffles his way to sleep and he doesn’t, he does not hear Harry crying and jacking himself off upstairs.
(Anne sits beside Louis in the morning when she finds him on the couch and Harry comes down and sobs and apologizes and later Louis wonders if he and Harry ever had a real chance of breaking completely.)
Louis is hellishly drunk. There are guys sitting around him—friend’s he’s made in the “gay community”—and they’re all smoking pot and having a jolly old time. His mum’s gone out for the weekend for some learning conference in LA or something. Whatever. There’s a boy underneath Louis’ bum and that boy is currently pinching at his sides; that’s what matters.
“Lou, you’ve got such a nice body,” he—Jeff?—mumbles, nosing along his jaw and humming and smelling like a joint. Louis doesn’t mind; he himself smells like Jack Daniels and probably other various drinks as well.
Zayn is sitting across the circle (they’d broken up; it was a mutual decision) and he’s giving Louis this look. Louis likes to think he’s had enough sexual experiences to know what that look means.
“Sex!” Louis laughs out loud to himself, ignoring Jeff (George?) and the group cracks up a bit.
“Whassat, love?” Nick asks, puffin’ on his joint and looking really, very out of it.
“I want to have sex.” And it’s true, so very true and it’s just become apparent in these last few minutes. Or seconds. Or days.
Harry’s not even on his mind, not really. He’s supposedly at a sleepover with his friend Niall: a kid with stupidly blonde hair and a laugh that’s so contagious that even though Louis wants to hate him, he can’t. Harry’s texted him a few times (‘lou, are you ok? dont smoke too much man’, ‘i miss you a bit niall is fast asleep already’, and finally, ‘i don’t feel well im going home’) and the only one that’d put him on edge was the last one. If Harry came home, he’d come over and like, find all these men. With Louis. And Louis thinks that Harry’s really not used to it yet.
“I do too,” Zayn replies. He crawls across the circle, hands and knees, fuck, and stops just as his nose is brushing beside Louis’. There are a few wolf-whistles going on, even from Jeff/George who’s underneath him.
“Zayn,” Louis breathes, slouching forward and just smushing his lips onto Zayn’s. He’s smashed. And then, louder, “I’d let all you guys fuck me.”
“Really.” Zayn coaxes Louis’ mouth open somehow, with his tongue doing flicky things, and he also pulls Louis so he’s halfway on Jeff/George’s lap and halfway on Zayn’s. Louis can feel all the other guy’s stares. Makes him feel on fire, a bit.
Zayn moans and yanks Louis the rest of the way, hard, so Louis topples forward and Zayn’s laid down on the floor. They kiss like that for a while, and Louis giggles when random hands come and touch him on the back, his sides, his ass. He feels wanted, and it is fantastic. That is, until he spots Harry standing at the door when he leans up for air.
“Haz?” Louis slurs the tiniest bit, teetering in his straddled-on-Zayn position.
“Uh huh,” Harry nods, seeming incredibly dazed, and he steps forward. “Um. Off him. All of you get away from him.”
Somebody groans. “The fuck, buddy? Leave the big kids alone. We’re gonna—gonna have an orgy. D’you know what that means?”
Oh, and that’s not very nice. “Be nice t’Harry. He’s my very best friend. But did you know something?” He crawls off Zayn and slumps beside Harry’s feet. “He doesn’t want me. Do I know what that means? Tune into Glee next week...next week to find out.”
A few people laugh. At what, Louis’ is not sure, but Harry scoffs and hauls Louis to his feet.
“Out of here by the morning. I’m serious. Don’t—don’t fuck around with Louis.”
Louis doesn’t have a chance to see anyone’s reactions; his face is nestled into Harry’s neck and then he’s being led out of his own home and across the street toward Harry’s. Harry tucks him in bed and the second he rolls over and finds the perfect spot to sleep, he passes out.
Harry’s lying on the couch with his stupidly long, spidery legs together in front of him when Louis stumbles down the stairs. He has his eyes closed and that dopey look on his face so Louis knows he’s fast, fast asleep and he steps forward to lean next to him.
“Sweet dreams, love,” he murmurs, and even though he feels creepy, he slips his hand in between Harry’s thighs and it’s warm and he kisses his cheek.
He turns and leaves and doesn’t see that Harry’s eyes snap open or hear that a whine comes from his mouth.
“Me dad phoned me last night.”
Harry knows what this means so his eyebrows move closer together and there’s a little frown on his lips. He rests his arm on the back of the couch, nearly reaching Louis, and Louis knows it’s his natural instinct to touch him and to make sure he’s alright. “Yeah?”
Louis looks over, and his eyes are burning, and his lips are shaking, and his heart is drowning—“He like. He answered and he said, ‘Hey, are you still a faggot?’ He said that to me, when the last time he—the last time he saw me he just. He left without kissing me goodbye or petting my h-head, he left—”
The water breaks loose and Louis’ heart bobs up, down, crashes into his lungs, and he’s gasping and throwing himself into Harry’s open arms.
All Harry does—and can do, really—is repeat Louis’ name over and over in his soothing, deep voice, and splays his hands out wide on Louis’ back and just holds him forever. (Or for a half hour, or for two hours, or forever long it takes Louis to cry out a lot of year’s worth of holding in emotions.)
When all Louis can do is cough and hiccup and his tears have run dry, Harry stands up with his hands on Louis’ back to pull him up too, and Louis clamps his legs tight around Harry’s waist and holds onto him so he won’t fall.
Harry takes him to his bed and he tucks Louis in like a caterpillar in a cocoon and then sits on the blanket-less mattress beside him and doesn’t move—not until Louis has passed out. He’s just a solid presence and he’s there and it’s going to be enough; it always is.
17 and 19
The community college is terrible and open studies is horrible and Louis truly, positively doesn’t know what he’s doing with his life. He lives at home, has a job at the gas station, and the only solid friend he has is Harry. Harry, who has stupid fucking afro-hair (not really) and his face has never looked slimmer. God is playing games with Louis.
His days consist of work, sleep, the occasional Fifa game, and then sleeping over at Harry’s or Harry sleeping at his. Anne gave up on the whole “no-sleepovers-on-weekdays” thing years ago.
He’s finally settling into Harry’s bed after three hours or so of hard studying with Harry throwing things at him from where he was tucked into the sheets and it feels great now. He could fall asleep in a heartbeat.
Except for he doesn’t. Harry pokes his neck and says that they ‘haven’t spoken all day’ and Louis gives up and rolls over to stare at Harry with a disapproving look.
“I want to get fucked,” he says instead of what he’d meant to, but whatever. He’s just being honest and Harry’s used to him just being out in the open with his sexual needs. That doesn’t mean he’s not still awkward as shit, though.
Harry coughs. “Oh. Does that mean—do you usually go on the bottom?”
“Yes, Harry, but that’s not—I’ve told you, I am the bottom. I don’t go on the bottom, idiot. You’d think you’d remember after all our talks about gay lingo.”
“Ah. Well, why don’t you go get fucked then?” Harry says it ironically, because it sounds like an insult and Harry is just stupid like that, but Louis replies anyway.
“Because. I have no one to phone for a booty call and I broke up with Will. He said he wanted to pee on me.” Will did. He said it was called water sports and that it was hot but Louis just laughed nervously and said he’d rather just watch a movie.
“Did he, now? Even Louis Tomlinson won’t go that far?” Harry turns onto his back and Louis appreciates Harry’s profile—the strong line of his nose, the puffiness of his lips, his stupidly defined jaw.
“Nah, even I wouldn’t let someone piss on me. Everything else is cool, though.”
Harry breathes a few times, chest moving up and down and up and down and it’s nice to look at. Louis wriggles himself closer to Harry like a worm and rests his head on Harry’s tummy, right where his bellybutton is under his shirt.
“What do you do, then? How does—I mean. What do you do?”
Louis can hear Harry’s big, bloody heart pumping faster. He listens to just that for a while, the heavy thud, thud, thud, and it makes his head move a little with each pump. “Y’know. It depends. Do you really want to know all the dirty details?”
“Alright. I donno. I’ve ridden guy’s cocks and faces, sucked them off under tables and desks, fucked other guys, been tied up, gagged, just—you know. Experimental stuff.” Louis closes his eyes, waits for Harry to shove him away and say ‘gross’ even though he’s grown and wouldn’t do that anymore.
“Sounds fun.” It’s strained, it’s barely there, but it’s enough. Harry’s trying, and that’s enough.
Louis nods against his stomach and places his hand beside his head, pressing his finger into Harry’s shirt so he can push at his bellybutton, and then he just splays his hand out flat. Harry’s stomach muscles flutter underneath the touches; it’s probably ticklish.
After a while, Louis hears Harry’s breathing even out and he knows he’s either too out of it to speak anymore or just plain-old passed out, so he ventures his hand even further. Louis scratches his fingers down Harry's happy trail, slips them just underneath Harry's briefs and—freaks out and takes his hand away. He doesn't know what he's doing.
“Why’d you stop?” Harry asks, taking Louis’ hand and placing it back down on his lower stomach. Of course he wasn’t asleep.
“I’m—I donno. I feel like you’re going to freak out and say you don’t like me or you’re not gay or whatever. I thought you were asleep.”
“You were going to sexually assault me at my most vulnerable?”
Louis blushes. “No.” He rolls over, to the other side of the bed, and lets Harry—rather forcefully—grab his hips and tug him back so his bum is against Harry’s crotch.
“Don’t be grumpy,” Harry says, and then, “I kissed Niall.”
Louis freezes. “I.” Wriggles so he’s turned over and facing Harry. “Why?”
Harry’s face flashes over two-trillion emotions at once, and he finally stops at one—exasperated. “I don’t know. Because of you. Literally everything is because of you.” Harry pauses, wipes a hand over his face in the way that Louis doesn’t like, and sighs. “I just thought like. I thought that I wasn’t gay, because I’m not—that’s, I’m not. But then you, every time I saw you—Christ.”
“Slow down, Harry.” Harry sits up and covers his face with his hands. “Don’t hide from me.”
When Harry speaks again, it sounds like he’s in a box. “You just. You walk around, so sure of yourself, and then sometimes you shove yourself down, and it hurts me, you know? You’re so many things, fuck. I think that like, I realize that caring for you is normal. You’re my best friend and I’ve known you since forever and so of course I’m going to care about you. But—” Harry looks up, “—you remember when I found you with all those guys?”
Louis blinks. “Yes.”
“I didn’t like that. It ruined me. God. And then when we kissed when we were how old? I can’t. God. I’m so awful to you.” And then Harry cries, and Harry doesn’t cry, so Louis feels his own throat close up and he timidly places a hand on Harry’s knee. It’s always him being afraid of when he can touch, how he can touch, if he can touch.
“Harry, please. I don’t really get what you’re trying to say.” Louis does get it, actually, he gets it quite well and he’s got it since he saw Harry’s eyes shine that much brighter at him. He just kind of, he wants to hear it from Harry himself.
“You’re so wonderful. That’s just it. I don’t know who I am until I’m with you and then I try to hide it. You’re Louis.” Harry looks over and his eyes are rimmed red and Louis reaches up slowly to wipe his thumb over Harry’s eyelid and Harry knows to close his eyes because he knows.
“And you’re Harry. Please be okay with that.”
It’s hard for Louis to think, right now, that the world is going on around them. Somewhere in Canada there’s people running around, going to work, and there’s people having sex in Australia and there’s people sleeping in California and there are two boys in Doncaster who aren’t lucky enough for the world to stop just for them. But it’s moving slow enough for Louis’ mind to catch up and Harry puts his hand over Louis’ where it’s resting on his face and he squeezes.
“I can be, if you are.”
They fall asleep after Louis kisses Harry’s cheeks and Harry kisses Louis’ lips without saying, “That was funny.”
They sleep nicely until Louis wakes up at three in the morning and Harry’s already looking at him. It’s—yeah. He knows.
“Could you—” Harry says.
“Uh-huh.” Louis throws a leg over Harry’s midriff, straddling him, and rests forward with his hands on Harry’s chest. “Is this okay?”
Harry swallows—Louis can hear it. “Yes. Jesus.”
Louis begins to move—slowly, so he won’t scare Harry—just small little grinds down on Harry’s growing length. It feels somehow better though his pajama bottoms and he bites his lip to stave off any sounds he might make.
They’re stuck staring at each other; Harry’s eyes are wide and blown and Louis’ are dark and searching and then he moves faster.
“Louis, I need more,” Harry says finally, thank God, so Louis crawls away quickly to pull off his pants and Harry’s, too. He sends off a brief thank to whoever that he and Harry are both stuck in the habit of not wearing underwear under pajamas.
He climbs back up on Harry’s lap, takes a grip on both of their hard cocks, and starts to thrust his hips forward. Harry looks like he’s in shock—pale face, hands clutching the sheets—but there’s that little flush on his chest that shows he’s aroused by all this.
Louis’ cockhead catches on Harry’s on every upstroke, and Harry starts to moan. That opens the floodgates, really, because then Louis groans too and his stomach clenches hard. They’re a mess of moving, sounds, working to get off as quickly as possible, and Louis nearly cries when Harry grips his big hand overtop Louis’ and helps him out.
It takes one, two, three, four more strokes of their hands together and Louis is yelping, lurching forward and streaking over Harry’s stomach and their hands, and Harry lasts a few more seconds and then follows with him.
Louis curls his body up small around Harry and Harry strokes his damp back, trying to say positive things but it’s mostly just him babbling and then whining high-pitched.
“Good, Louis. You’re just good,” he says breathlessly, nodding to himself, assuring himself, and Louis hums.
He thinks his dad could call him up and call him a whore and a faggot and useless and he’d be okay. He’d be okay because he is okay and Harry is okay and everything is just okay.
(And in the morning, when Louis gets out of bed and comes back to a smiling, not-freaking-out Harry, he knows that it’s going to stay and that this was how it was always going to be because they’re them and it works.)